Monday, January 24, 2011

Political Digest for January 24, 2011

I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree with every—or any—opinion in the posted article. Nor that I disagree with them, of course.

Why we are doomed
Driving back from Ft. Wayne this weekend, I stopped for gas and coffee. The gas receipt offered a 16 oz. coffee for $1.00. I filled my 16 oz travel mug and went to the counter. The clerk said it would be $1.59. I pointed to the receipt. He said that was only good in one of their cardboard 16 oz. cups. I went and got a cardboard cup, poured the coffee from my mug into it, and returned to the counter. He charged me $1.00. I then poured the coffee back into my travel mug, handed the young fellow the used cardboard cup, and departed. I suppose Indiana lets him vote.

Just a Quinncidence
Vote for new taxes, get a new job. It’s The Chicago Way. ~Bob. Excerpt: Then we learned of a turn of events that landed former state Rep. Careen Gordon an $86,000-a-year state job — just days after she supplied a crucial vote to pass Gov. Pat Quinn's huge tax increase. Here's our favorite passage from the Tribune's story, headlined "Job goes to ex-rep who voted for tax hike": "Gordon, a Democrat from Morris who recently moved to Chicago, said she first approached the governor about a job on the Illinois Prisoner Review Board soon after losing her re-election bid in November. She said that Quinn asked her in that conversation what she thought of the possibility of a tax increase. She said she told him she could support it only if she knew how the money would be used, cuts were included and there would be 'no new programs.' He did not ask for her vote, she said. Nor did she feel pressured to vote for the legislation, she said."

How a company received $8 million only to go bust
Now you know why Illinois needs more tax dollars. ~Bob. Excerpt: Protein Solutions, a highflying supplier of meat to restaurant chains such as T.G.I. Friday's, abruptly filed for bankruptcy protection in October. Its remaining equipment will be auctioned later this month. Unsettled economic times have hurt Chicago-area small businesses, and too many to count have gone out of business. What makes Protein Solution's liquidation unusual is that it received fresh capital through a state program just four months before it filed for bankruptcy, financial support many small businesses are begging for. The Chicago company obtained $7.85 million in June under an Illinois economic development plan meant to foster job creation in low-income communities. The funds were supposed to reduce Protein Solutions' debt and support its continued growth.

Voodoo economics? Tote up the jobs from Obama's stimulus
Excerpt: Democrats have lambasted Republicans for years for believing in "Voodoo economics." Well, the evidence is mounting that economic superstition is alive and well in the nation's political circles, though it has nothing to do with a fondness for tax cuts. It's instead the crazy belief that the government can spend its way to prosperity for the rest of us. Underscoring this conclusion, the Ways and Means Committee in the new GOP-majority House released a report titled "It's Official: On Unemployment and Jobs, Democrats' 2009 Stimulus Was a Huge Failure." The Ways and Means report provides a number of striking reminders about the predictions the White House made in January 2009 while urging the passage of their $814 billion Keynesian spending bill. By January 2011, the stimulus bill was supposed to have lowered the unemployment rate to 7 percent. It now stands at 9.4 percent, and the report notes that "the unemployment rate would be 11.3 percent if it included all the 'invisible unemployed' -- American workers who have simply given up looking for work." The report also claimed that the stimulus would create 3.7 million jobs by now, for a total of 137.6 million jobs in the American economy. Currently, there are 130.7 million jobs. Since passage of the stimulus, 47 of the 50 states have lost jobs; overall, the private sector has seen 1.8 million jobs disappear.

China’s Fires the Warning Shot on US Debt
Excerpt: China is the world’s largest creditor nation. While the US Federal Reserve has overtaken it as the largest owner of US debt, it is China, not the Fed, that determines the world’s attitude towards the US’s financial situation. After all, the Fed has become the toxic waste depository for all of Wall Street and so consequently must continue its US Treasury buying in order to maintain the illusion that the US financial system is solvent. China, on the other hand, is a voluntary purchaser of US Treasuries. And what China does, the rest of the world will follow….As the dollar wobbles, China is pulling back from U.S. Treasury securities and buying up hard assets around the world. THIS YEAR, FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER, China has been investing more overseas in assets like iron, oil and copper than it puts into U.S. government bonds. China in this year's first half spent $31 billion on hard assets, compared with $23 billion on Treasuries and other U.S. government bonds…China’s preference for hard assets over Treasuries, taken by itself, will put upward pressure on U.S. interest rates and make U.S. economic growth somewhat more difficult…

Activist In Women Of Juarez Cases Found Strangled With Hand Cut Off In Mexican Border City
Excerpt: In the end, she became one of the women of Juarez for whom she sought justice. Susana Chavez, a 36-year-old poet and activist who adopted the slogan "Not One More Death," was found strangled, mutilated and dumped on a street in this border city infamous for a series of murders of women - even before drug violence made it one of the most violent places in the world. She befriended three teenagers, who authorities say invited her home to drink with them, then killed her in an argument and cut off her hand to make it look like an execution.

Marines pay a price trying to secure an Afghan hot spot
3/5 is now known as “Darkside” from a call sign in Iraq. I went to services for one of the 3/5 Marines KIA, who was from my area. ~Bob. What happened to them in Sangin district of Helmand province shows the sacrifices in a campaign aimed at crippling the Taliban in a stronghold and helping extricate the U.S. from a decadelong war. Marines tell of snipers who fire from "murder holes" cut into mud-walled compounds. Fighters who lie in wait in trenches dug around rough farmhouses clustered together for protection. Farmers who seem to tip the Taliban to the outsiders' every movement, often with signals that sound like birdcalls. When the Marines of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, deployed to the Sangin district of Afghanistan's Helmand province in late September, the British soldiers who had preceded them warned the Americans that the Taliban would be waiting nearly everywhere for a chance to kill them. (Sounds like a real bitch.... which the ROE sure as hell don't make any better at all. We can only hope that for every Marine that falls, several Taliban pay the price. S/F --Del)
Clunker Math
From a circulated e-mail—no author listed. ~Bob. Excerpt: Think of it this way: A clunker that travels 12,000 miles a year at 15 mpg uses 800 gallons of gas a year. A vehicle that travels 12,000 miles a year at 25 mpg uses 480 gallons a year. So, the average Cash for Clunkers transaction will reduce US gasoline consumption by 320 gallons per year. They claim 700,000 vehicles so that's 224 million gallons saved per year. That equates to a bit over 5 million barrels of oil. 5 million barrels is about 5 hours' worth of US consumption. More importantly, 5 million barrels of oil at $70 per barrel costs about $350 million dollars So, the government paid $3 billion of our tax dollars to save $350 million. We spent $8.57 for every dollar we saved. I'm pretty sure they will do a great job with our health care, though.

Is The BBC In Thrall To Islam Because Of A Saudi Landlord?
Excerpt: John Whittaker is a billionaire property tycoon and the 35th richest man in the country. He is wisely exiled on the Isle of Man and is a friend of former BBC chairman Michael Grade. Never heard of him? Few have. The Daily Express informs us that Mr Whittaker is the boss of Peel Holdings, effectively the BBC's new landlord: ‘The company owns 200 acres of now prime land at Media City in Greater Manchester. Under a deal with Peel Media, the BBC will rent 36 acres of buildings and several TV studios. The terms of the deal are secret but Mr Whittaker’s company can look forward to large BBC cheques for at least 20 years.’ But what is not so well known is that ‘Ocean Gateway’, as the development is called, is only 68% owned by Mr Wittaker. The other 32% is being generously provided by a Saudi multi-billionaire, one Khaled Olayan, who heads The Olayan Group.

[20-year BBC Anchorman] Peter Sissons: Left Wing Bias? It's Written Through the BBC's DNA
Excerpt: What the BBC wants you, the public, to believe is that it has ‘independence’ woven into its fabric, running through its veins and concreted into its foundations. The reality, I discovered, was that for the BBC, independence is not a banner it carries ­principally on behalf of the listener or viewer. Rather, it is the name it gives to its ability to act at all times in its own best interests. The BBC’s ability to position itself, to decide for itself on which side its bread is buttered, is what it calls its independence. It’s flexible, and acutely sensitive to which way the wind is blowing politically. Complaints from viewers may invariably be met with the BBC’s stock response, ‘We don’t accept that, so get lost’. But complaints from ministers, though they may be rejected publicly, usually cause consternation — particularly if there is a licence fee settlement in the offing. And not just ministers, if a change of Government is thought likely.

Paul Ryan Will Give Republican Response To State of the Union Address
Excerpt: House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced today that House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) will deliver the Republican address following the President’s State of the Union address to Congress on January 25, 2011. Last year – in an unprecedented failure – Congressional Democrats chose not to pass, or even propose a budget, punting on a duty that represents the most basic responsibility of governing. Chairman Ryan will deliver the Republican address Tuesday night from the House Budget Committee hearing room, where the Democrats’ spending spree will end and the Republicans’ push for a fiscally responsible budget that cuts spending will begin. In making the announcement, the GOP leaders noted that Chairman Ryan is a leading voice for fiscal discipline and common-sense solutions to cut spending and create jobs. Known for his thoughtful and detailed critiques of big-government policies, Ryan has helped put to rest the Democrats’ argument that more government spending and higher taxes is the answer to most of our nation’s ills. His commitment to free enterprise and limited government make him the right choice to outline a vision for how a smaller, less costly government will help create the right conditions for the creation of good, private sector jobs.

The Tug of War for Tunisia
Excerpt: Long before he was driven from power last week, Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was warning American officials about the dangers posed by radical Islam. In an early 2008 meeting at the presidential palace in Carthage, Ben Ali discussed the threat posed by Islamist radicals in the Middle East with Assistant Secretary of State David Welch. According to a March 3, 2008 diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks, Ben Ali was troubled about future prospects for a moderate Islamic Tunisia and the "explosive" situation in the Arab world. He also emphasized the threats posed by internal radicalism to Saudi Arabia and Yemen and predicted that the Muslim Brotherhood will eventually take power in Egypt. Ben Ali, who had ruled with an iron fist since 1987, fled Tunisia Jan. 14 following weeks of public unrest. (He is currently believed to be in exile in Saudi Arabia.) His ouster came four weeks after Mohamed Bouazizi, a street vendor supporting a family of eight, doused himself with gasoline and set himself on fire after a dispute with municipal authorities. Protests spread across Tunisia in the days following Bouazizi's Dec. 17 suicide in the remote town of Sidi Bouzid. Tens of thousands of people took to the streets to denounce - and eventually overthrow - what they regarded as a corrupt, tyrannical government.

Philadelphia Abortion Clinic Escaped State Oversight
Excerpt: “It was like walking into a nightmare,” she said. “Everyone was sedated, no one was making sense. People were slumped over and waiting in line like they were going into a soup kitchen.” The clinic was smelly, in part from a dirty turtle tank in the lobby, but also from generally squalid conditions. The grand jury report said the clinic had blood on the floor, a stench of urine in the air and cat feces on the stairs when agents raided it. “Semiconscious women scheduled for abortions were moaning in the waiting room or the recovery room, where they sat on dirty recliners covered with blood-stained blankets,” the report said. Confusion was a standard reaction to the conditions, women said in interviews last week, but many of the patients were young and lacked confidence and simply sat in silence.

11 staffers of Sept. 11 memorial make more than $170,000 a year
Excerpt: Schoolchildren thought their penny jars and bake-sale proceeds would go toward building a 9/11 memorial at Ground Zero -- not the six-figure salaries of nonprofit execs. But 11 staffers at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum each pulled down more than $170,000 in total compensation in 2009, according to the most recent filings. Four execs took home more than $320,000.

Turkey, the Global Muslim Brotherhood, and the Gaza Flotilla
Excerpt: There is strong evidence for Turkish governmental involvement in the Gaza flotilla incident, including the office of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. As this report demonstrates, Turkish government support for the flotilla was channeled through the Turkish Muslim Brotherhood network. It included the attendance of officials from Turkey’s ruling AKP party at many important Turkish/MB network events in support of the flotilla, a meeting by Erdogan himself with a delegation of Global Muslim Brotherhood and flotilla movement leaders from Britain and France shortly before the flotilla, and a message of support from Erdogan to an IUMS meeting held shortly after the flotilla incident. In addition, in a March 2010 speech, IHH leader Bulent Yildirim implied that the flotilla had official Turkish backing by incorrectly asserting that the flotilla as a whole was “sailing under the Turkish flag” and that Israel would never attack it since that would be ”the same as attacking a Turkish consulate.”

Chinese Pianist Plays Propaganda Tune at White House: US humiliated in eyes of Chinese by song used to inspire anti-Americanism
Wasn’t the Obamas honoring Mass Murderer Mao on a Christmas ornament enough? ~Bob. Excerpt: Lang Lang, a Chinese pianist, plays the piano at the White House on Jan. 19, 2011. The music he is playing is the theme song from an anti-American propaganda movie about the Korean War. Lang Lang the pianist says he chose it. Chairman Hu Jintao recognized it as soon as he heard it. Patriotic Chinese Internet users were delighted as soon as they saw the videos online. Early morning TV viewers in China knew it would be played an hour or two beforehand. At the White House State dinner on Jan. 19, about six minutes into his set, Lang Lang began tapping out a famous anti-American propaganda melody from the Korean War: the theme song to the movie “Battle on Shangganling Mountain.” The film depicts a group of “People’s Volunteer Army” soldiers who are first hemmed in at Shanganling (or Triangle Hill) and then, when reinforcements arrive, take up their rifles and counterattack the U.S. military “jackals.” The movie and the tune are widely known among Chinese, and the song has been a leading piece of anti-American propaganda by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for decades. CCP propaganda has always referred to the Korean War as the “movement to resist America and help [North] Korea.” The message of the propaganda is that the United States is an enemy—in fighting in the Korean War the United States’ real goal was said to be to invade and conquer China. The victory at Triangle Hill was promoted as a victory over imperialists.

Cold Fusion Going Commercial!?
Excerpt: Foreword: I gave Ric Werme permission to do this essay. I don’t have any doubt that the original Cold Fusion research was seriously flawed. That said, this recent new development using a different process is getting some interest, so let’s approach it skeptically to see what merit it has, if any. – Anthony Cold fusion isn’t usual fare for WUWT, at best it’s not a focus here, at worst it’s sorry science, and we talk about that enough already. However, it never has died, and this week there’s news about it going commercial. Well, it won’t be available for a couple years or so, but the excitement comes from a device that takes 400 watts of electrical power in and produces 12,000 watts of heat out. (It was no accident Ayn Rand had her character, John Galt, discover a way to harvest limitless free electricity from the static in the air. Because it cannot blow up, inexpensive cold or low energy fusion has been like the Holy Grail since the first atomic pile produced electricity. If reported accurately—and there are many points along the way where inaccuracies could have slipped in—this is a tremendous heat output for the relatively small input. And, instead of talking about hideously expensive rare metals, they say nickel and hydrogen are most of the materials needed. However, just because it is “going commercial” doesn’t mean it will make money or even that it works; it only means they need money and want to get it from “investors” who feel like gambling rather than getting it from some other source. Ron P.)

China's New Stealth Jet May Use Technology From Downed US Plane
Excerpt: Chinese officials recently unveiled a new, high-tech stealth fighter that could pose a significant threat to American air superiority - and some of its technology, it turns out, may well have come from the U.S. itself. Balkan military officials and other experts have told The Associated Press that in all probability the Chinese gleaned some of their technological know-how from an American F-117 Nighthawk that was shot down over Serbia in 1999. Nighthawks were the world's first stealth fighters, planes that were very hard for radar to detect. But on March 27, 1999, during NATO's aerial bombing of Serbia in the Kosovo war, a Serbian anti-aircraft missile shot one of the Nighthawks down. The pilot ejected and was rescued.

MSNBC Leans Forward, Pushes Olbermann Out the Door
Excerpt: Mediaite is reporting that MSNBC got rid of Olbermann for the same reason that proctologists retire: They got tired of dealing with… nevermind. (Now that right there is funny, I don't care who you are. MasterGuns)

Excerpt: This is Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore vigorously defending the right to free speech in Canada, and lambasting the craven dhimmis who caved in to the Iranian government. I love this guy’s attitude; I wish we had more like him here in the USA.

Minneapolis officer accused of assaulting his wife
Just following the Qur’an. ~Bob. Excerpt: A Minneapolis police officer was charged with felony assault Friday, accused of hitting his wife in the face with a gun and threatening to kill her. Mukhtar Abdulkadir, 36, of Andover was quarreling with his wife Wednesday before bedtime, according a criminal complaint filed in Anoka County District Court. The next morning, he threw her on the couch and punched her in the ribs, the complaint said. As she was screaming, he put a pillow over her head, according to the document. With his 3-year-old child yelling at him to stop, Abdulkadir grabbed a handgun from a closet and hit his wife in the face with the butt end, the charges said. She didn't seek medical treatment.

China’s coming fall
Excerpt: Like the Soviet Union before it, much of China’s supposed boom is illusory — and just as likely to come crashing down In 1975, while I was in Siberia on a two-month trip through the U.S.S.R., the illusion of the Soviet Union’s rise became self-evident. In the major cities, the downtowns seemed modern, comparable to what you might see in a North American city. But a 20-minute walk from the centre of downtown revealed another world — people filling water buckets at communal pumps at street corners. The U.S.S.R. could put a man in space and dazzle the world with scores of other accomplishments yet it could not satisfy the basic needs of its citizens. That economic system, though it would largely fool the West until its final collapse 15 years later, was bankrupt, and obviously so to anyone who saw the contradictions in Soviet society. The Chinese economy today parallels that of the latter-day Soviet Union — immense accomplishments co-existing with immense failures. In some ways, China’s stability today is more precarious than was the Soviet Union’s before its fall. China’s poor are poorer than the Soviet Union’s poor, and they are much more numerous — about one billion in a country of 1.3 billion. Moreover, in the Soviet Union there was no sizeable middle class — just about everyone was poor and shared in the same hardships, avoiding resentments that might otherwise have arisen.

The Taming of the Masses
Excerpt: One of the most dangerous strategies of the totalitarians in our midst is the deliberate confusion they create around the notion of totalitarianism. Only a fraction of "educated" people know that so-called "right-wing" fascists and "left-wing" socialists historically occupy the same end of the sociopolitical spectrum. The reason most people don't know this is because for eighty years, the "left" has engaged in a campaign to disguise the fact that it is fundamentally a totalitarian movement. It all started back in the 1930s. While the Soviet communists of that era had a different way of dealing with economic production, their Marxist-Leninist approach to politics, law, civil society, and the masses under their control was for the most part indistinguishable from how the Nazis handled such matters. For both of these totalitarian regimes, it was dictatorship from the top and rigid regimentation throughout the ranks of society -- of what people learned, what people said, and how people lived their lives.

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