Sunday, January 30, 2011

Political Digest for January 30, 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.

Egyptian troops let protests proceed as Mubarak names vice president
If this results in the Muslim Brotherhood coming to power in Egypt, the world will be a more dangerous place. ~Bob. Excerpt: Tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators swarmed central Cairo on Saturday in the largest demonstration yet against the rule of the country's longtime autocratic leader, President Hosni Mubarak. The crowd went unchallenged by troops, who, in extraordinary scenes unfolding around the capital's central
Tahrir Square
, smiled and shook hands with protesters and invited them up onto their tanks. Meanwhile, Mubarak named a vice president for the first time since coming to power 30 years ago, a government spokesman said - an apparent step toward setting up a successor other than his son, Gamal, whom he had appeared to be grooming for the post, despite public opposition. Mubarak chose as his deputy his intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, a close confidant who is well-known to U.S. officials. Even as protesters celebrated, word of Suleiman's appointment disappointed those who had expected wholesale change. "He is one of Hosni Mubarak's people, and we reject those people. The people should get to pick their leaders," said Mohammed Abdel Rahman, 25.

Red Alert: Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood
From The following is a report from a STRATFOR source in Hamas. Hamas, which formed in Gaza as an outgrowth of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (MB), has an interest in exaggerating its role and coordination with the MB in this crisis. The following information has not been confirmed. Nonetheless, there is a great deal of concern building in Israel and the United States in particular over the role of the MB in the demonstrations and whether a political opening will be made for the Islamist organization in Egypt. The Egyptian police are no longer patrolling the Rafah border crossing into Gaza. Hamas armed men are entering into Egypt and are closely collaborating with the MB. The MB has fully engaged itself in the demonstrations, and they are unsatisfied with the dismissal of the Cabinet. They are insisting on a new Cabinet that does not include members of the ruling National Democratic Party. Security forces in plainclothes are engaged in destroying public property in order to give the impression that many protesters represent a public menace. The MB is meanwhile forming people’s committees to protect public property and also to coordinate demonstrators’ activities, including supplying them with food, beverages and first aid.

Egypt: Revolution? By Whom? For What?
Excerpt: All of which is a long way of saying that there’s a lot of tumult in the Middle East (and not only the Middle East; there were big demonstrations a few hours ago in Albania), a great perturbation in the Force, as Obiwan would say. Lots of fighting. Lots of factions. In Egypt, which is by far the most important of the Arab countries affected by the tumult, there are genuine democrats and also members of organizations (from the Muslim Brotherhood to Islamic Jihad, Hamas, et al.) who would transform Egypt from an authoritarian to a totalitarian regime. Remember my Grandma Mashe: “Things are never so bad they can’t get worse.” So how are we to look at it all? The basic point is that most everything and everywhere is up for grabs. From Yemen to Iran to Lebanon and Somalia, from Egypt and Jordan to Syria and Tunisia, we’ve got tumult. There are lots of different forces in play, and in many cases there is no way to know who will make what decisions, let alone what decisions they will make. Orders will be given, some of them will be obeyed while others will be ignored. Welcome to the real world. (As little sympathy as I have for dictators, I doubt this “revolutionary surge” will play out to our advantage. Which groups are already organized in depth to take advantage of such turmoil? Radical Islamists. Envision another five or six Irans added to the current Middle Eastern mix. We should have supported the Iranian Greens years ago when their movement first started. Instead, we sat on our hands. Now, we’ll pay for that inaction. Ron P. Unfortunately, the life of the average person in a Muslim majority country is blighted by being bound down to a 7th century ideology which destroys the chance for a free and modern life. Which they blame on Jews and other infidels. ~Bob.)

Egypt: Some in Army Appear to Side with Demonstrators
Excerpt: In another sign that the army was showing sympathy for the demonstrations, in a different central Cairo square on Saturday a soldier in camouflage addressed a crowd through a bullhorn declaring that the army would stand with the people. “I don’t care what happens,” the soldier said. “You are the ones who are going to make the change.” The crowd responded, “The army and the people will purify the country.” Workers at the Alexandria morgue said they had counted more than 20 bodies from the last 24 hours of violence. Meanwhile, protests had started up again in the city. But there too, the demonstrators and the soldiers showed sympathy for one another. Demonstrators brought tea to the troops and had their pictures taken with them. Protesters walked by armored carriers unmolested with few signs of animosity. People gathered outside the morgue looking for their relatives. In the main hospital, there were a number of people lying wounded from live fire.

Egypt protests: America's secret backing for rebel leaders behind protests
Excerpt: The American Embassy in Cairo helped a young dissident attend a US-sponsored summit for activists in New York, while working to keep his identity secret from Egyptian state police. On his return to Cairo in December 2008, the activist told US diplomats that an alliance of opposition groups had drawn up a plan to overthrow President Hosni Mubarak and install a democratic government in 2011. He has already been arrested by Egyptian security in connection with the demonstrations and his identity is being protected by The Daily Telegraph. (This does not bode well. If accurate, this explains why US Dept of State is in full panic. The brain trust in DC expected a quiet, peaceful regime change, not a full scale riot and open warfare. They obviously did not anticipate Iran’s rapid rise to power in the Mid East and the Muslim Brotherhood and/or Al Qaeda stepping into the breach. Now there are questions re the Suez Canal being endangered and the cost of crude oil skyrocketing. I hate to ask this painful question: “What else can go wrong?” –TC)

John Bolton on the situation in Egypt
Excerpt: Bolton tells Levin this isn’t Jeffersonian democracy vs the Mubarak regime, it’s the Muslim Brotherhood vs the Mubarak regime. He agrees that people on the streets have legitimate grievances about open government and what not, but says that it’s likely that their grievances still wouldn’t be met to any level of satisfaction with whatever regime replaces Mubarak. Levin started the show out suggesting that given all of the radical players trying to create a bottom up revolution, supporting the people against Mubarak may not be best in this instance. This isn’t Iran in 2009 where it was clear that we should support the people, and Bolton seems to agree. Siding with the people in this instance could facilitate another Islamo-Nazi state.

Worth Reading: The Egyptian Unrest: A Special Report
Excerpt: Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak remains the lifeblood of the demonstrators, who still number in the tens of thousands in downtown Cairo and in other major cities, albeit on a lesser scale. After being overwhelmed in the Jan. 28 Day of Rage protests, Egypt’s internal security forces — with the anti-riot paramilitaries of the Central Security Forces (CSF) at the forefront — were glaringly absent from the streets Jan. 29. They were replaced with rows of tanks and armored personnel carriers carrying regular army soldiers. Unlike their CSF counterparts, the demonstrators demanding Mubarak’s exit from the political scene largely welcomed the soldiers. Despite Mubarak’s refusal to step down Jan. 28, the public’s positive perception of the military, seen as the only real gateway to a post-Mubarak Egypt, remained. It is unclear how long this perception will hold, especially as Egyptians are growing frustrated with the rising level of insecurity in the country and the army’s limits in patrolling the streets. There is more to these demonstrations than meets the eye. The media will focus on the concept of reformers staging a revolution in the name of democracy and human rights. These may well have brought numerous demonstrators into the streets, but revolutions, including this one, are made up of many more actors than the liberal voices on Facebook and Twitter.

For GOP hopefuls, a race before the race
Rather like Rahm raising $11 million to run for mayor of Chicago, mostly before new “Spending limits” kicked in. Attempts to control spending always founder against the First Amendment. And they result in absurdities like $1000 contributions to Hillary Clinton from poor Chinese workers in NYC making only $15k a year, which the media passed over, though clearly they came from Chinese interests using these folks to exceed the limits. They also result in PACs that supposedly have zero ties to the candidates who can launch any attack, without a blame link to the campaign. I think the only solution is to let any one and any entity donate as much money as they wish to a candidate, but require it to be entered into a searchable, public on-line database immediately on receipt, so we know who is supporting whom. ~Bob. Excerpt: On a single day in October, Eldon and Regina Roth each wrote separate checks to political funds set up by Republican Mitt Romney in five states around the country. That allowed the South Dakota beef barons to donate $190,000 - well beyond limits for contributions to federal political action committees. The state-based funds are among several creative - and perfectly legal - strategies embraced by potential GOP presidential contenders as they lay the groundwork for 2012. The efforts amount to an aggressive and sophisticated preliminary campaign, in which candidates exploit incentives and gaps in the nation's patchwork election system. In essence, the strategies allow hopefuls to begin running for president before they actually run. These pre-presidential efforts are particularly important in the current election cycle, which is unfolding far more slowly than it did four years ago, when more than a dozen candidates had already launched their campaigns by this point. By setting up state political funds, as Romney and several others have done, presidential hopefuls can go to their most loyal supporters with deep pockets - funders like the Roths - and solicit larger donations than they could for the federal PACs required of official candidates.

Warfare of the Future
Excerpt: A light-bulb moment for me last year was hearing a Chinese defense expert named Dingli Shen in Shanghai talk about the future of warfare. No, he wasn't expressing a pipe dream about building a blue-water navy to challenge U.S. dominance in the Pacific. Instead, he was talking about the irrelevance of traditional land and sea power in the dawning age of combat -- where weapons will include cyberattacks, space weapons, lasers, pulses and other directed-energy beams. Shen, who teaches at Fudan University, was countering the view of some Chinese analysts that Beijing should embrace the gospel of Alfred Thayer Mahan, the 19th-century American missionary for sea power. Mahan is outdated, he said: With a laser weapon fired from space, "any ship will be burned." China's future isn't in competing to build aircraft-carrier battle groups, argues Shen, but in advanced weapons "to make other command systems fail to work." The Chinese theorist's comments suggest a trend you might not appreciate watching the news footage of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. The nature of warfare is nearing another "hinge point," due to the advance of technology. Just as gunpowder, cannons, airplanes, rockets and nuclear power changed the face of combat, so too will a new generation of weapons that are on the drawing boards -- not just in America, but in China, India and other advanced technological nations.

China Passes Off 'Top Gun' As Air Force Footage
Excerpt: few days ago, China Central Television showed footage of what they claimed was an air force training exercise conducted on January 23. From the looks of things, they were actually just playing clips from Top Gun.

Should You Kick Your Dog Out of Bed Tonight?
Excerpt: Irresponsible reporting on the chances of your pet giving you a life-threatening disease does far more harm than good. (…) It’s easy for the MSM to exploit pets because obviously, they can’t speak up for themselves. But with animals proven to advance human wellness, pets deserve not to be demonized as so many bundles of contagion or opportunistic infection, and pet coverage needs to be taken more seriously. It merits the same level of accurate, responsible, balanced reporting — complete with hard facts, not hearsay — as any other new topic. A sensationalist, clearly biased story such as Schneider’s merely speculates about a potential public health hazard where none actually exists. Not surprisingly, AOL swings both ways when exploiting pets for fun and profit: When it’s not publishing anti-pet articles like this one, it’s taking a decidedly pro-pet position on its dedicated animal site, Paw Nation. (Gee, this sounds like the early reporting on the global warming/climate change/climate chaos "crisis." Failure to give a realistic probability for the "bad outcome" to actually occur ruins any value this study might have had to the general public, and the blame for that can be laid to poor reporting. BAD REPORTER! Go sit in the corner. No treat for you! Ron P. On any given night, you will find one to three cats on our bed, depending on the thermostat setting and the disappointing lack of the promised global warming here in Chicago. Doubtless this proves I’ll die someday. ~Bob.)

Muslims post death threats on doors of Christian homes
Didn’t get the “Islam is a Religion of Peace” memo. ~Bob. Excerpt: Officials in the south Ethiopian city of Besheno are looking the other way as Muslim mobs in the city put death threats on the doors of Christian villagers, according to organizations that work in the area. The door-mounted death threats are only the latest incidents in a series of acts of intimidation that include taking away church property, beating evangelists and killing family members. International Christian Concern's Jonathan Racho says the list of violent acts against Christians is growing. "Christians in the southern Ethiopian city of Besheno are being harassed and physically abused after Muslims posted notices on the doors of the Christian homes, warning the Christians that they had to convert to Islam, leave the city or face death," Racho stated.

The Midwesterner
Excerpt: At the Reagan conference, Devan Bissonette of Delta College in Michigan noted that “part of [Reagan’s] remoteness dated back to his childhood” in the Midwest. Reagan certainly thought so. He was nine when he moved to Dixon and “a little slow in making really close friends,” he wrote. “In some ways, I think this reluctance to get close to people never left me completely. .  .  . I’ve been inclined to hold back a little of myself, reserving it for myself.” The most ambitious paper was delivered by Jon Peterson of Ohio University. “Reagan’s anticommunist pronouncements, which shook the Cold War world, were rooted in ideas of good and evil that came from his mother and his Midwest upbringing,” he wrote. This is a new assertion about Reagan, so far as I know, and one worth taking seriously. [Maybe I'll go to Eureka...sounds great. -K.]

Lawmaker (Jim Moran, D-VA): Racism Cost Dems Election
COMMENT from PNUTBUTTER: The Dems are the original racists from the south, they are the ones who created the KKK to keep blacks from voting. They made sure for years that the republican party didn't exist in the south. Blacks have always faired better under republicans. They are the ones that were responsible for the civil rights bills. Dems wanted to take our right to vote away in the south. President Obama along with the Democrats have ignored black folks. All we got from him is we need to be better fathers and quit feeding our children fried chicken and letting them play a video games. He has done more to help illegal aliens than he has done for his black base. I think he is in for a rude awakening in our community when it comes to re-election time. I know quite a few of us have learned not to just vote for someone because they are black and a Democrat. We were ignored until the midterm elections then it was "I want you to go to the Barber shops and beauty Salons and get people to vote with us" Now he want to push Rahm down the people of Chicago's throat. This is one black man that won't be on the Obama bandwagon. (They always play the race card, though more white folks voted for Obama than for Kerry or Gore. If racism vanished tomorrow, it would be a disaster for Democrats who must keep it alive, just as Republicans “waved the bloody shirt” in the decades after the Civil War. Until no one cared anymore. ~Bob.)

Judicial Watch Uncovers New Documents Detailing Pelosi's Use of Air Force Aircraft in 2010
Excerpt: Pelosi Logged 43 Flights Covering 90,155 Miles from January to October 2010; Received “Chocolate-Covered Strawberries” for Birthday Surprise. (We'd heard some of this before, but the actual details are a kick in the head. I especially like the part about top shelf liquor being made available for the comfort of the passengers. Using the AF resources for flights almost every single week was way past reasonable. And this is the person who worries about taking care of the "common people". Riiight! Funny how the most sanctimonious people in power cheerfully abuse the power for their own comfort and aggrandizement. –Del)

Here's One Story the Right-wing Media Didn't Make Up: In 2030 Britain Will Be 8.2% Muslim
Excerpt: Yesterday the highly-respected, non-partisan Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life’s released its projection that in 2030 Britain will have a Muslim population of 5.5 million people, roughly 8.2 per cent of the total population. That’s hardly Eurabia, I hear some saying. But that figure will not be spread evenly across the UK. By that stage Oldham, Bradford, Blackburn and Burnley, and possibly Birmingham, may well be Muslim-majority towns. What will race relations be like in those places, I wonder? Any tension that ensues will of course be blamed on “Islamophobia”, and yet no society in history has watched a minority grow from 0 to 8 per cent in two generations with such tolerance. Even without the problems associated with Islam in the West, Britain’s record would be fantastic – and there certainly are problems. For example, opinion polls of British Muslims consistently show around 7 per cent support terrorist attacks on UK civilians, more than 10 per cent support attacks on UK troops, and anywhere between 30 and 50 per cent wish for Sharia law and the death penalty for apostates and homosexuals. Project those figures onto a population of 5.5 million and then tell me it’s “Islamophobic” to be concerned.

Being over seventy is like being engaged in a war. All our friends are going or gone and we survive amongst the dead and the dying as on a battlefield. –Muriel Spark

Sharks Are Not Misunderstood Dolphins, and Islam Is Not a Religion of Peace
Excerpt: The reason terrorist attacks are reported on with the same style of coverage reserved for shark attacks is because the left sees both sharks and Muslims as just dumb animals who do what they do, unexpectedly, in gruesome fashion, without any blame assigned for their actions.

The Rest of the World and Obama
Excerpt: One of the primary narratives of the Democrats and the media during the entire tenure of the George W. Bush's term was that the United States was held in historically low regard throughout the rest of the world. This became, after "Bush lied," the second-most frequently repeated talking point. Whether there was any basis for this claim was immaterial; it was a handy cudgel for defeating and humiliating the president. For the past twenty-five-plus years, I have been involved in the international marketplace, having dealt in countries as varied as the United Kingdom, China, and Ghana. Never in that period of time, from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama, have I found it more difficult to defend the polices of the United States and listen to more overt criticism of any sitting president than I do today.

Irish Muslim Group Calls For Introduction of Sharia Law in Ireland
No Guinness, no Irish Whisky, no pork bangers. ~Bob. Excerpt: An Irish Islamic website which argues for the introduction of Sharia law in Ireland had nearly 270,000 hits last month alone. The site is targeted at what it calls Irish "O'Muslims", the Muslim Public Affairs Council website,, according to the Sunday Tribune An editorial post says introducing Sharia is a patriotic duty. "And who could doubt that establishing the authority of Allah in the land is in the best interests of Ireland?" it asks.

Watchdog Group Wants House Ethics Opinion On Sanchez Staff-sharing
Excerpt: A watchdog group is calling on Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) — the new ranking member on the ethics panel — to produce a private Ethics Committee opinion about her decision to share staff with her sister. Sanchez and her sister, Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), were the subject of Ethics Committee scrutiny in 2009 for potentially violating House rules for improperly sharing staff. Linda Sanchez put three of her sister’s legislative aides on her payroll after an embezzlement scheme left Loretta Sanchez’s office short of funds.

F.B.I. Warrants Into Service Attacks by WikiLeaks Supporters
Excerpt: The Federal Bureau of Investigation said it had executed more than 40 search warrants in the United States on Thursday as part of an investigation into an international group of computer hackers who attacked corporate Web sites last year in a show of support for WikiLeaks. The F.B.I. investigation is part of a larger international inquiry into a loose confederation of hackers calling itself “Anonymous” that coordinated the cyberattacks against the Web sites of companies like PayPal, Visa and MasterCard late last year after they severed ties with WikiLeaks. Law enforcement agencies in France, Germany and the Netherlands have also sought to find members of the group. On Thursday, the authorities in Britain also executed several search warrants and arrested five people, whose ages were said to range from 15 to 26, accusing them of playing a role in the attacks.

Comment on “I’m Tired”
Believe it or not, I actually agree with most of your post. I will correct you only on the point about Muslims. FGM is not in the Quran and is a tribal practice originating in Africa. Most Muslim women outside of the African continent do NOT undergo this barbaric practice. As it stands, Sharia Law and the Quran are being interpreted in the way that suits the interpreter. Please keep that in mind. I am a Canadian Muslim and I NEVER want to see Sharia law in North America. If I wanted to live by Sharia, I would move to Saudi Arabia. You know what I am tired of (at the ripe old age of 36?) I am tired of being lumped with all the other crazies when I came to Canada legally, I work, I pay my taxes, I call the police and report a crime and I support my troops. I am sick of being a target for all the redneck racists who have no idea what they are talking about and a target for all the crazy fanatics who want to kill me because I hate the Taliban and their ilk. Is it too much to ask to just be taken for who I am? Is it too much to ask to not be stereotyped because I don't wear a scarf or I do? I loved your post because I agree with almost every single word of it. Literally. (We need more Muslims like this to speak publicly and defend their faith against the murderers who defame it by their actions. ~Bob.)

John Wheeler Died From 'Blunt Force Trauma,' Officials Say
Excerpt: John Wheeler III, a defense consultant and former Pentagon official who was seen stumbling around Wilmington, Del., and acting strangely days before his body was found in a landfill, was beaten to death, the state medical examiner's office says. Wheeler "died as a result of blunt force trauma after being assaulted," the Delaware medical examiner's office announced Friday. Police said the case remains under investigation. Wheeler, 66, worked for three U.S. presidents and was an expert on chemical and biological weapons. His body was found in a load of garbage picked up in Newark that was dumped at a Wilmington landfill on New Year's Eve, and his death quickly was ruled a homicide. Authorities, however, refrained from releasing a cause of death until this week's announcement, saying they were awaiting the results of toxicology reports.

The Incredible True Story of the Collar Bomb Heist
To take your mind off current events, here’s a weird story. ~Bob. When you read this---keep playing these two sentences back to yourself: “The team of federal agents investigating the collar bomb mystery hadn’t been paying much attention to the Roden murder. It was a local matter and seemed to have nothing to do with their case.” Think of the proximity of events and think to yourself—Gee---that is odd---this event occurred here and this event occurred there. What are the chances? --TC.

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