Friday, February 11, 2011

Political Digest for February 11, 2011

I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree (or disagree) with every—or any—opinion in the posted article. Help your friends and relatives stay informed by passing the digest on.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak may transfer power
Excerpt: Gen. Hassan al-Roueini, military commander for the Cairo area, told thousands of protesters in central
Tahrir Square
, "All your demands will be met today." (all your demands? But different groups in the mob have different demands. ~Bob.)

Saudis Tell Obama: Don't Humiliate Mubarak
Excerpt: Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has warned President Barack Obama that his oil-rich country will prop up President Hosni Mubarak if the U.S. tries to bring about a swift regime change in Egypt, according to The Times of London. In a personal phone call on Jan. 29, the 86-year-old king cautioned the president against humiliating Mubarak and said Saudi Arabia would bankroll Egypt if the U.S. pulled its aid program -- which is worth $1.5 billion a year. A senior source in the Saudi capital Riyadh told the newspaper, "Mubarak and King Abdullah are not just allies, they are close friends, and the king is not about to see his friend cast aside." (It appears the Obama administration has succeeded in offending every possible US ally in the Middle East. What next? Ron P.)

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah passed away (unconfirmed)
I rate this as Muslim Disinformation until confirmed. If true, what you might call bad timing! ~Bob. Excerpt: King Abdullah talked with Obama about the situation in Egypt over the phone yesterday. Obama and the King got into a heated debate about their opinions of what Hosni Mubarak should do. After the phone call sources stated that King Abdullah was furious and then suffered a sudden heart attack. Doctors ran to his rescue but were unable to save him. He was pronounced dead, but his death was not reported due to the sensitive conditions that exist in the region.

Worth Reading: Clueless on Cairo: My three-week victory, your seven-year mess
Excerpt: It is difficult trying to figure out what the left’s position is on democracy and the Middle East. Here’s a brief effort. Once upon a time, a number of prominent liberals — among them Thomas Friedman, Fareed Zakaria, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid — thought it was a good idea to remove Saddam Hussein and supplant his Baathist rule with democracy. I say that with confidence since one can watch the speeches of the senators in question on YouTube debating the 23-writ authorizations to use force in October 2002, in addition to reading the New York Times and Newsweek editorials between 2002-3 of prominent liberal columnists. The New Republic stable of authors was particularly in favor of the Bush-Cheney “just war” to invade Iraq. Jonathan Chait (who would go on to author an infamous essay about why “I hate George Bush”) and Peter Beinhart were especially hard on the fellow left for not joining the Bush effort. By early 2004, almost all that liberal support had entirely dissipated, predicated on two developments. First, a presidential election was just months away and Bush’s war was no longer “mission accomplished” but turning into a campaign liability. Second, a resistance had formed under hard-core Islamists that was beginning to take a heavy toll on American forces. No WMD had been found, and it was now easy to suggest that one could withdraw support for building democracy in Iraq because two of the 23 writs for going to war were no longer operative, the effort was probably lost, and George W. Bush might well deservedly not be reelected. No matter. Bush pressed on. His polls sunk yet he was barely reelected. His ongoing “democracy” agenda got little support from those who once had enthusiastically praised the Iraqi adventure and had proclaimed their belief in universal human rights. Few came to Sec. of State Rice’s support when in 2005 she chastised Hosni Mubarak’s regime to grant fundamental rights. Fewer saw any connection between Saddam’s fate and America’s pro-democratic stance and the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon, the fright of Mr. Gaddafi who gave up his WMD arsenal, or the sudden willingness of Pakistan to harness Dr. Khan.

Amateur Hour at the White House
Amateur Hour? ~Bob. Excerpt: As strikes in Egypt have spread, violence has increased and demonstrators have widened their area of protest in Cairo right up to the parliament building, the White House responded to Egypt’s continuing problems by pressuring the Egyptian government to cancel the country’s 30-year-old emergency law – in the middle of a national emergency. Continuing the White House’s almost constant interference in Egypt’s internal affairs, Vice President Joe Biden telephoned his Egyptian counterpart, Omar Suleiman, on Tuesday and asked him to lift the emergency law, one of the most important tools the Egyptian government possesses to prevent the country’s slide into chaos and a subsequent Muslim Brotherhood takeover. “The government has not taken the necessary steps that the people of Egypt need to see. That’s why more and more people come out to register their grievances,” said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs as justification for Biden’s request, although negotiations between the government and opposition have just begun. The Biden phone call occurred after a week of foreign policy stumbling, which saw a scrambling White House, surprised by the disturbances in Tunisia and Egypt, waffle in its position regarding Egypt’s political situation. When the disturbances first broke out in the most important and populous state in the Arab world, the White House at first backed the Egyptian government, believing it could control the situation. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton even called the Egyptian regime “stable.”

The Muslim Brotherhood - in its own words
Excerpt: One of the results of the turmoil in Egypt is the rise in influence of the Muslim Brotherhood. In order to understand the implications, Palestinian Media Watch has translated the book Jihad is the way by Mustafa Mashhur, who was the official leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt 1996-2002. The book is the fifth volume of his full work called The Laws of Da'wa (Islamic missionary activity). In his book, Jihad is the way, Mashhur explains the fundamental concepts of the Muslim Brotherhood ideology. Mashhur's teachings encompass subjects such as the Muslim Brotherhood's goal of establishing an Islamic state, world domination under Islam, the public and personal religious duty of military Jihad, and the warning not to rush to Jihad until it is prepared and timed for maximum benefit.

Global Warming Test
I found this cleaning out my files, thing I ran months ago, but worth repeating. How much do you really know about the subject? I was ten for ten, but I have the advantage of seeing a lot of data for this blog. ~Bob

Hide the Decline
Amusing song. ~Bob.

Worth reading: Ten Questions for Lisa Jackson
Excerpt: According to data from the Global Carbon Project from 1999 to 2009, China’s CO2 emissions increased by 126%, India’s CO2 emissions increased by 63%, Brazil’s CO2 emissions increased 16%, and South Korea’s CO2 emissions increased by 30%. By contrast, America’s CO2 emissions decreased by 5%. What value does the administration see in reducing carbon dioxide emissions when our emissions have decreased while others countries’ emissions are dramatically increasing?

EPA responds to congressional attempts to reel in greenhouse gas regulation
Excerpt: The question is, are we a country of laws made by our representatives, or a country of laws made by bureaucrats? The constitution provides only one answer, and Ms. Jackson would do well to read it. (...) Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Opening Statement Before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power [as prepared for delivery] – Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me to testify about Chairman Upton’s draft bill to eliminate portions of the Clean Air Act, the landmark law that all American children and adults rely on to protect them from harmful air pollution. The bill appears to be part of a broader effort in this Congress to delay, weaken, or eliminate Clean Air Act protections of the American public. I respectfully ask the members of this Committee to keep in mind that EPA’s implementation of the Clean Air Act saves millions of American children and adults from the debilitating and expensive illnesses that occur when smokestacks and tailpipes release unrestricted amounts of harmful pollution into the air we breathe. (It is probably worth pointing out WUWT and Anthony Watts do not appear to be especially conservative but rather centrist. They do, however, have a strong respect for our form of constitutional government and valid, replicable science. Ron P. But a respect for the Constitution and solid science is pretty conservative, Ron. ~Bob.)

Stronger FOIA law now under review in Virginia
Excerpt: Marshall sponsored the bill, which passed the House in a 95-3 vote. The legislation doubles the civil penalty for failure to comply with the law; previously violators could be assessed between $250 and $1,000, but under Marshall’s bill the fines would be between $500 and $2,000. The Virginia Senate will now consider the proposed changes. “We simply cannot tolerate a situation like the UVA. FOIA officials told me that no documents existed,” Del. Marshall told Virginia Statehouse News. “This bill sends a message that the House of Delegates does not think that the prior penalty was sufficient.” On Jan. 6 ATI’s Environmental Law Center requested from UVA emails and other documents related to claims made by Dr. Mann to obtain, and claim payment under, certain taxpayer-funded grants. Mann, currently at Pennsylvania State University, worked at the UVA’s Department of Environmental Sciences when he produced what was hailed at the time as the ‘smoking gun’ affirming the theory of catastrophic man-made global warming. (…) In response to Del. Marshall’s previous FOIA request, UVA had denied these records existed. But during the course of Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s pre-investigation under the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act (“FATA”), UVA dropped that stance. Court records reveal that counsel for the University has indicated instead that the Mann-related records do in fact exist, on a backup server. (If they actually hope for this to change anyone’s behavior, they’ll be disappointed. They needed to add at least one more zero to those fine amounts to get any serious attention. Otherwise, it’s merely an “increased cost of doing business as usual.” Ron P.)

Good column: The Center Didn't Hold
Excerpt: In 2006, Virginia sent an interesting and unlikely Democrat to the U.S. Senate. Jim Webb was a decorated Marine who served as Ronald Reagan's secretary of the navy. He left the administration to oppose defense budget cuts, especially those which threatened the 600-ship Navy Reagan had built. Just six years before winning the Democratic senatorial nomination, Webb had endorsed both George W. Bush and George Allen. Although Webb opposed the Iraq war, he hated the McGovernites who had taken over his ancestral Democratic Party. "Jane Fonda can kiss my ass," he once told a radio interviewer. "I wouldn't walk across the street to watch her slit her wrist." He wasn't very fond of Bill Clinton either. "Every time I see him salute a Marine," Webb remarked, "it infuriates me." When Clinton left office, Webb gave him this raspberry on the page of the Wall Street Journal op-ed page: "It is a pleasurable experience to watch Bill Clinton finally being judged, even by his own party, for the ethical fraudulence that has characterized his entire political career." Webb also despised the feminism, collectivism, and political correctness of American liberals. He praised Southern culture as "the greatest inhibitor of the plans of the activist Left and the cultural Marxists for a new kind of society altogether" and the biggest "obstacle to the collectivist taming of America, symbolized by the edicts of political correctness." He described affirmative action as "a permeating state-sponsored racism that is as odious as the Jim Crow laws it sought to countermand." Even as late as his Senate campaign, Webb favored capital-gains tax cuts, defended the Second Amendment, and seemed open to voting to confirm conservative judges. But once he was elected, the man Andrew Ferguson called "the most sophisticated right-wing reactionary to run on a Democratic ticket since Grover Cleveland" compiled a conventional liberal voting record virtually indistinguishable from Harry Reid's. (I revere Webb the Marine, but was disappointed with Webb the Senator. ~Bob.)

Social Security Denies ID Theft Victim New Number
Excerpt: A 23-year-old Brighton man has been fighting five years to replace a Social Security number that has been fraudulently used by an illegal immigrant since 2003, according to police and state tax officials. The Social Security Administration has twice denied his request for a new number, saying his credit has not been damaged by the identify thief, said Joe and his mom, Tina. The family doesn't want their last name used because they fear retaliation from the identity thief, who remains at large. But Joe's Social Security theft nightmare, which started when his number was stolen at age 15, has created myriad other problems. Joe said he didn't discover he was a victim of identity theft until 2007, when state tax officials said he owed a "a large amount of back taxes."

New York Rep. Chris Lee resigns from the House
Excerpt: Rep. Chris Lee (R-N.Y.) resigned from the House Wednesday evening effective immediately, an announcement that came just hours after a Web site reported that the married congressman had sent a shirtless image of himself to a woman he met on Craigslist. "I regret the harm that my actions have caused my family, my staff and my constituents," Lee said in a statement announcing his resignation. "I deeply and sincerely apologize to them all. I have made profound mistakes and I promise to work as hard as I can to seek their forgiveness." Lee's decision to vacate his Upstate New York seat came after Gawker, a gossip Web site, posted the shirtless image and what it said was correspondence between him and a 34-year-old woman. The woman, who Gawker described as a 34-year-old government employee from Maryland but did not name, told the gossip site she posted an ad last month on the "Women for Men" forum seeking "financially & emotionally secure" men who don't "look like toads." That same day, she got a response from a person who said his name was Christopher Lee, describing himself as 39-year-old lobbyist, "a very fit fun classy guy. Live in Cap Hill area. 6ft 190lbs blond/blue." In follow-up e-mails he attached photos -- one in a blue polo, the other shirtless. (You’d think there has to be more to this than a shirtless photo. Would never have trapped me—I look like a toad. ~Bob.)

Will Green Energy Make the United States Less Secure?
Excerpt: Environmentalists have long cited the environmental harms caused by fossil fuels as evidence of the need to move to green sources of energy such as wind and solar power. Recently, some conservatives have joined their cause, citing national security concerns. However, key components of renewable energy technologies are made from a small number of rare earth elements, and other rare minerals. Despite the name, these elements are relatively abundant, but they are rarely found in economically exploitable concentrations. The exception to this is the People's Republic of China, where the concentration of the minerals is so high that the country has a de facto monopoly on their trade, according to H. Sterling Burnett, a senior fellow and Wesley Dwyer, a policy intern, with the National Center for Policy Analysis. The intensifying push to adopt renewable energy technologies that require rare earths will require tradeoffs, including swapping one form of dependence for another, much more restrictive one. As America relies more on green technology, it will be increasingly dependent on China's good will. For example, the Obama administration has touted solar panel manufacturing as a green-job growth sector. However, China has a near monopoly on the element required to make solar panels, making it virtually impossible for American solar power companies to compete with Chinese-owned firms, says Burnett and Dwyer. Wind power is also promoted as a way to decrease American energy dependence; however, the magnets used in turbines that generate wind energy require the rare earth element neodymium. China is increasing domestic consumption of rare earth elements and rare minerals, and has already demonstrated a willingness to use its near monopoly of the market for these critical resources to force geopolitical concessions from other countries. As a result, the push for green energy is likely to reduce U.S. economic and geopolitical security rather than enhance it.

Excerpt: First, it is not about the jobs. My co-author Martin Wachs says it best: Looking back, would it make sense to judge the impact of the interstate highway system by the construction jobs it created? Of course not! The interstate had broad, economy-wide productivity benefits and it enhanced the consumption of American families (well, at least my parents who seemed to enjoy those road-trip vacations). These are durable national benefits by which an infrastructure program should be judged. The interstate also redistributed economic activity — toward ground-based transportation and away from air and rails, and toward those places adjacent to the interstate and away from those left behind. These impacts have a zero-sum nature and should be discounted from any putative benefits of the spending. But most important, the same construction spending could have built a myriad of other things that had no real national benefit. Doing so would have been a waste then, and it is a waste now. Second, federal infrastructure spending should be about national benefits. I could not believe my ears in the hearing as I listened to a congresswoman from Long Island complain about water mains in need of repair. If the water mains are broken, why is that a national problem or priority? What have the good people of Long Island been paying their property taxes for? Why does any local politician involved still have a job? (Why are local water mains the federal government’s problem? Because the statists have made everything, from skinned knees to an inadequate sex life—the government’s problem, and Americans now expect all their problems to be solved by the Feds. ~Bob.)

ObamaCare Will Not Reduce the Deficit
Excerpt: The federal budget and Federal Register contain thousands of programs that achieve near-immortality by (1) taking small amounts of money from people in large, hard-to-organize groups, and (2) giving large amounts of money to small, easily organized groups. The 1099 mandate got this formula backward. It would have required businesses to track all purchases and file a 1099-MISC form whenever they purchased more than $600 in goods from a vendor. The IRS's taxpayer advocate worried that compliance costs would dwarf the $17 billion in additional tax collections, says Michael F. Cannon, director of health policy studies at the Cato Institute. Both the taxes and the compliance costs would have been concentrated on 38 million corporations, charities, churches, government agencies and farms -- nearly all of which are organized and have armies of lobbyists in Washington. In contrast, it's hard even to identify, much less mobilize, any specific group that might have benefited from the 1099 mandate. Congress "paid for" its repeal by assuming the administration will make $17 billion in unspecified rescissions, but if those cuts aren't even specified who will lobby against them? The 1099 mandate is actually the second ObamaCare revenue-raiser to fall. Worried about the political fallout from private insurers exiting the Medicare program, the Obama administration rather transparently forestalled cuts to Medicare Advantage by granting $1.3 billion of "quality-based" bonuses to mediocre and low-performing Advantage plans, says Cannon. This public-choice dynamic is why the Congressional Budget Office, the chief Medicare actuary and even the International Monetary Fund have discredited the idea that ObamaCare will reduce the deficit. (Gee, I’m not an accountant, but I knew this long before ObamaCare passed. No new government program reduces spending, so it wasn’t hard to figure out. ~Bob.)

Death Tax Ambush
Excerpt: Here's some free financial advice: Don't die in New Jersey any time soon. If you have more than $675,000 to your name and you die in the Garden State, about 54% may go to the IRS and the tax collectors in Trenton. Better not take your last breath in Maryland either. The tax penalty for dying there is half of a lifetime's savings. That's the combined tab from the new federal estate tax rate of 35% and Maryland's inheritance and death taxes. Maybe they should rename it the Not-So-Free State. This perverse confiscation also applies to some 20 other states, thanks to a quirk in December's GOP-White House tax compromise. The new law applies a top federal death tax rate of 35% with a $5 million exemption for 2011 and 2012. But it also changed a federal credit for state death tax rates into a federal deduction. The credit allowed a dollar-for-dollar reduction in federal taxes for state levies as high as 16%. This meant that every dime from state tax collections came from Uncle Sam. It was essentially a free tax for states. By contrast, the deduction merely reduces the amount of federal taxable income and thus sharply reduces the amount of state tax that can be written off federal taxes. Many states have estate taxes at the old 16% threshold which now means an effective 10 percentage point or more surcharge above the 35% federal rate.

U.S., Pakistani officials at diplomatic odds in fatal shooting
Excerpt: U.S. and Pakistani officials Wednesday offered dueling accounts of the events leading up to the arrest of an American who fatally shot two men in Lahore last month and whose continued detention is at the center of an increasingly tense diplomatic standoff between the two countries. A Pakistani official, referring to what he said were the preliminary findings of his government's investigation of the incident, said Raymond Allen Davis fired five shots at the Pakistani men from his vehicle and then got out to shoot two more at each of them as they lay on the ground in a busy intersection during midday traffic. A U.S. official disputed the account, saying that Davis fired five shots from the Glock handgun he was carrying, all of them from within his car at what both sides agree were probably would-be robbers. As often-conflicting details continued to emerge about what happened on the afternoon of Jan. 27, neither side budged on the core dispute between them - whether Davis, a former U.S. Special Operations sergeant who carried a U.S. diplomatic passport - is immune from prosecution by a Pakistani court.

The myth of the dying moderate
Excerpt: But it's not quite so simple. There is certainly evidence of an increasingly polarized American electorate. We see it in poll after poll. But pointing to the losses by moderate members in recent elections also misses the point, to a large degree. The reason so many moderate Republicans lost in 2006 and 2008 and so many Blue Dogs and New Democrats lost in 2010 is that these members tend to be the ones who represent the relatively few competitive districts on the map. When there is a wave taking place, as there have been the last three election cycles, the first seats to go are going to be the ones held by moderates. Those defeats are less the result of their ideological leanings than the fact that these districts are so competitive that they require the incumbent to be moderate to get elected in the first place. So really, it's not so surprising to see so many moderates swept up (or, more accurately, out).

Mexican drug cartels draw Guatemalan army to jungles where it fought civil war
Excerpt: The once-fearsome Guatemalan army has returned to the jungles where it battled Marxist guerrillas a generation ago, this time to hunt shadowy Mexican drug traffickers fighting for control of strategic smuggling routes to the United States. So serious is the perceived threat to national security that Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom has extended "a state of siege" and martial law in his country's Alta Verapaz province, where authorities say the soldiers are beating back an invasion by the Mexican cartel known as the Zetas. Colom plans to extend troop deployments to other conflict zones in the country, officials say, militarizing the drug war here and reviving the Guatemalan army after 36 years of civil war, decades of human rights abuses and a still-unfinished peace process.

Spontaneous Order
Excerpt: At last month's State of the Union, President Obama said America needs more passenger trains. How does he know? For years, politicians promised that more of us will want to commute by train, but it doesn't happen. People like their cars. Some subsidized trains cost so much per commuter that it would be cheaper to buy them taxi rides. The grand schemes of the politicians fail and fail again. By contrast, the private sector, despite harassment from government, gives us better stuff for less money -- without central planning. It's called a spontaneous order. Lawrence Reed, of the Foundation for Economic Education, explains it this way: "Spontaneous order is what happens when you leave people alone -- when entrepreneurs ... see the desires of people ... and then provide for them. They respond to market signals, to prices. Prices tell them what's needed and how urgently and where. And it's infinitely better and more productive than relying on a handful of elites in some distant bureaucracy."

An interview with a First Sergeant
I regularly link to Bernard’s pieces on his “Let Them Fight” blog. Good interview. He’s always worth reading. ~Bob.

Today’s heroes are overlooked by all of us, yes even you
Excerpt: Today’s heroes are overlooked by all of us, yes even you can walk right past one of this country’s heroes on the street and not even know it. (Most of these heroes don't seek or even want our thanks, they just want our support. MasterGuns)

Arizona Joins Montana in State Nullification Act
Excerpt: A new proposal at the Arizona Legislature will take the state's fight with the feds to a whole new level: It would let the state actually nullify federal laws that legislators believe are invalid. The measure crafted by Sen. Lori Klein, R-Anthem, would set up a committee of 12 lawmakers to review federal laws and regulations to determine which are "outside the scope of the powers delegated by the people to the federal in the United States Constitution." A majority vote that Congress or a federal agency exceeded its authority would trigger an automatic referral to the Legislature which would have 60 days to make a final decision. Ratification of the panel's recommendation would mean the state and its residents "shall not recognize or be obligated to live under the statute, mandate or executive order." (But do they have a Beauregard who will fire on Fort Huachuca for them? ~Bob.)

Probably as well that a Republican wasn’t elected to take the blame trying to clean up the mess made by Brown and his leftist co-religionists. ~Bob. California Gov. Jerry Brown must rapidly close a $25 billion budgetary shortfall. But right now it seems almost a hopeless task since the state's disastrous budget is a symptom, not the cause, of California's much larger nightmare. Take unemployment. It currently runs 12.6 percent in California, the nation's second-highest rate. Take livability. A recent Forbes magazine survey listing the most miserable 20 cities in the nation ranked four California municipalities among the index's five worst places to live. Take education. California public schools test near rock bottom in national math and science scores. Take the business climate. A recent survey conducted among CEOs ranked California dead last for jobs and business growth. Take taxes. California has the highest gasoline tax in the nation, and its combined sales and local/state income tax rates are among the nation's steepest. California incarcerates the highest number of prisoners in the nation. It costs nearly $50,000 per year to house each one, near the highest per-capita cost in the country. I could go on, but you get the picture that the newly inaugurated Brown has problems well beyond even a massive budget shortfall.

Patriot Act: What Really Happened
Excerpt: The vote fell short not because of a groundswell of opposition from freshman Republicans from the Tea Party movement, as media outlets have breathlessly reported. Rather, Republicans provided only 26 of the 148 dissenting votes. And of the 52 House members who declared themselves as the Tea Party caucus, only eight voted nay. At the end of the day, the vote is simply about a significant number of traditional House members disagreeing with their president that renewing these three tools is essential to protect America and her people against terrorism. First is the “roving wiretap.” One need not be addicted to The Sopranos or The Wire to appreciate that drug traffickers and mobsters evade court-ordered wiretaps by switching phones. When that happens, the judge can authorize the police to follow the criminal’s various communication devices and not just tap his home landline. The Patriot Act allowed judges to do the same in terrorism investigations. There is little logic to requiring the judge to sign a new order each time a criminal switches phones. There is even less sense in not allowing the same tool, with the same protections, to combat terrorism as the law does to investigate ordinary crime.

On Capitol Hill, MPAC Panel Seeks to Whitewash Jihadist Threat
Excerpt: Two days after a panel took to Capitol Hill to say the terrorist threat to America is overblown, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told a House committee Tuesday that "the terrorist threat to the homeland is in many ways at its most heightened state since 9/11." That threat comes from homegrown terrorists ready to strike with "little or no warning," she said. Islamist groups including Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, al-Shabaab and branches of al-Qaida are driving the threat, National Counterterrorism Center Director Michael Leiter added. "I actually consider al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, with Awlaki as a leader within that organization, probably the most significant risk to the U.S. homeland," he said.

Ronald Reagan: The 100-Year-Old Racist?
Excerpt: Ronald Reagan "tortured" blacks. Tavis Smiley, the PBS television host, once said this about the former president. NBC's Bryant Gumbel and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, among many others, consider Reagan a racist. "There they go again," as Reagan might have said. The economic lot for blacks and Hispanics improved far more than it did for whites after Reagan's steep tax cuts. In late 1982, Reagan's second year in office, the unemployment rate for blacks was 20.4 percent. By 1989, his last year, the black unemployment rate had fallen to 11.4 percent -- a 9 percent drop. In late 1982, the unemployment rate for Hispanics was 15.3 percent. By 1989, it had fallen to 8 percent -- a drop of over 7 percentage points. White unemployment, by contrast, fell "only" 4 percentage points. What about black-owned businesses? In 1982, according to the Census Bureau, there were 308,000 black-owned businesses. By 1987, the number had increased to 424,000, up 38 percent. The number of all U.S. businesses was up "only" 14 percent. Receipts for black-owned businesses went from less than $10 billion to nearly $20 billion -- a 100 percent increase. (It’s a blessing that we have black writers who will point out these things, as the left always plays the race card against any white writer who disagrees with them. ~Bob.)

4 Layton Walmart employees fired after disarming gunman caught shoplifting
Excerpt: The shoplifter smashed Gabriel Stewart up against a wall. It didn't take him long to realize that pressure against his lower back was from a loaded gun held by a desperate man who didn't want to go to jail. The gunman had a firm grip on Stewart's shoulder, telling him and three of his Walmart co-workers, "Don't make me do this." “Absolutely time stopped,” Stewart told KSL. “I didn’t know what to do.” Instantly, Shawn Ray and Justin Richins kicked into gear, spinning the gunman around. Lori Poulsen ripped the gun away and secured it. They all held on to the man until police arrived minutes later. The four Layton Walmart employees felt it was mission accomplished. Police officers told them they had done everything right. But a week later, all four were fired from their jobs. (I blame the trial lawyers, not Walmart. They have to have these rules, as the lawyers will sue anyone who fights back against thugs. And juries let it happen. ~Bob.)

New drilling method opens vast oil fields in US
Excerpt: A new drilling technique is opening up vast fields of previously out-of-reach oil in the western United States, helping reverse a two-decade decline in domestic production of crude. Companies are investing billions of dollars to get at oil deposits scattered across North Dakota, Colorado, Texas and California. By 2015, oil executives and analysts say, the new fields could yield as much as 2 million barrels of oil a day — more than the entire Gulf of Mexico produces now. This new drilling is expected to raise U.S. production by at least 20 percent over the next five years. And within 10 years, it could help reduce oil imports by more than half, advancing a goal that has long eluded policymakers. "That's a significant contribution to energy security," says Ed Morse, head of commodities research at Credit Suisse. Well, at long last a serious breakthrough in US oil production capacity. This will help decrease our dependence on foreign oil; but it won't really reduce the income of the Saudis or Hugo Chavez, since so much of the rest of the world needs their oil. And of course, if the AGW fanatics had their way we couldn't burn this oil anyhow, since it just replaces the foreign oil in terms of CO2 generation. Hopefully some of the stuff going on now in Congress will cut off the EPA's insane drive to force controls on CO2 generation, the "poison gas" we all exhale every moment and which growing plants absorb and turn into materials of life every moment. –Del. Watch for the enviro-wackos to try to block this. Lost in their hopey-dopey fantasy of windmills and coal-powered electric cars, they try to block all new sources of power. See the next article. ~Bob.)

California's environmental regulations cause economic blackout
Excerpt: "Californians have largely treated environmentalism as a 'religious sacrament' rather than as one component among many in maximizing people's quality of life," note the editors of Trends magazine, commenting on California's decline. Nowhere is this more evident than the state's hostility to energy production. From 1990 to 1999, the state's capacity for energy production actually declined even as the population was exploding, resulting in a series of rolling blackouts in 2000 and 2001. This is often cited as a reason for California voters' decision to recall Democratic Gov. Gray Davis. (A 2003 Department of Energy report noted that a single blackout in Silicon Valley resulted in upwards of $75 million in lost business.) Since then, attempts at building new capacity even through clean-burning liquefied natural gas terminals and transmission lines for renewable wind power have met fierce resistance, notes Max Schulz in a 2008 City Journal article.

Worth reading: Mexico's Gun Supply and the 90 Percent Myth
Excerpt: For several years now, STRATFOR has been closely watching developments in Mexico that relate to what we consider the three wars being waged there. Those three wars are the war between the various drug cartels, the war between the government and the cartels and the war being waged against citizens and businesses by criminals. In addition to watching tactical developments of the cartel wars on the ground and studying the dynamics of the conflict among the various warring factions, we have also been paying close attention to the ways that both the Mexican and U.S. governments have reacted to these developments. Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects to watch has been the way in which the Mexican government has tried to deflect responsibility for the cartel wars away from itself and onto the United States. According to the Mexican government, the cartel wars are not a result of corruption in Mexico or of economic and societal dynamics that leave many Mexicans marginalized and desperate to find a way to make a living. Instead, the cartel wars are due to the insatiable American appetite for narcotics and the endless stream of guns that flows from the United States into Mexico and that results in Mexican violence. Interestingly, the part of this argument pertaining to guns has been adopted by many politicians and government officials in the United States in recent years. It has now become quite common to hear U.S. officials confidently assert that 90 percent of the weapons used by the Mexican drug cartels come from the United States. However, a close examination of the dynamics of the cartel wars in Mexico — and of how the oft-echoed 90 percent number was reached — clearly demonstrates that the number is more political rhetoric than empirical fact.

Under Tea Party pressure, House panel scrambles for deeper cuts
Excerpt: Republicans abandoned a bill to slash $74 billion in federal spending Thursday after coming under heavy pressure from Tea Party-backed freshmen to fulfill the party’s pledge of cutting $100 billion this year, House aides confirmed. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) had intended to release a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government after March 4 that would have cut $32 billion from current spending levels and $74 billion from Obama’s 2011 budget request. He outlined some of the major cuts in the CR on Wednesday. But the GOP’s large bloc of Tea Party-backed freshmen resisted that plan, instead calling for the full $100 billion cut the party had promised in the “Pledge to America.” 

Trust, But E-Verify
Excerpt: I've written here before about the issue of Islamic immigration into America. In a perfect world, it would be ideal to isolate the influx of Muslims from the broader question of immigration, to examine the particular danger posed by adherents of a religion which is philosophically inimical to our Constitution and our culture. In past decades, when America was all too willing to make (even invidious, racist) distinctions among human beings, we felt free as a country to select immigrants based on our existing racial and cultural makeup. As offensive as we might find its premise--maintaining the ethnic status quo--the immigration act of 1921, imposed by a coalition of labor groups, worried Anglo-Saxon Protestants, and conservatives spooked by the influx of foreign radicals from a Europe convulsed in revolution, went a long way toward forging the stable America of the 50s. Without the constant influx of newcomers from the Old Country, and under the influence of intense campaigns of voluntary "Americanization" conducted by churches, employers, and civic organizations, the polyglot masses of unskilled immigrants into America (my grandfather was one of them) learned English, intermarried, and became among the most patriotic of citizens. Indeed, the "melting pot" seemed to succeed so well, that the era of civil rights legislation which tore down the hateful legal barriers among the races in America also inspired us with a giddy optimism about our country's seemingly infinite capacity to assimilate newcomers. We also became ashamed of the racial defensiveness encoded in our old laws. So the immigration reform act of 1965, sponsored by a still-young and pre-sybaritic Ted Kennedy, abolished with a single stroke the principle of maintaining America's previous ethnic balance, and opened wide the doors to newcomers from all around the world, with entry based not on ethnicity or even one's perceived economic value to the U.S., but rather on the principle of "family reunification." Unthinkingly, we set up a system that encouraged large, extended families of largely uneducated migrants to flood onto our shores, at precisely the time our industrial growth had begun to stagnate, our farms had become mostly mechanized, and our civic culture lost the self-confidence required to assimilate anyone.

Deputy Chairman of the European Council for Fatwa and Research said Jews and Christians "disgraced themselves and their dhimmi covenant by distorting what Allah sent"
Excerpt: Islamic teachings appropriate almost every major religious figure in Judaism and Christianity and recast them as prophets and messengers of Islam. Therefore, when a spokesperson tells you Muslims follow Abraham, Moses, and Jesus and believe in the Torah (Taurat) and Gospel (Injil), they mean the unspoiled, Islamically correct copies they believe existed before Jews and Christians allegedly falsified them to remove references to the coming of Muhammad, and to insert non-Islamic ideas like, for example, John 3:16.

Egyptian journalist: "The US will be transformed into an Islamic republic"
Excerpt: Why is the U.S. so important for the future of Islam? Because it is the foremost secular republic in the world, and thus the chief competitor to the Islamic vision of the Sharia state. If it falls, so will the rest of the free world.

Excerpt: Suspected Islamic militants have killed two Christian teenagers who were reading the Bible in the disputed Kashmir valley, divided between India and Muslim Pakistan, BosNewsLife established Tuesday, February 8. The victims were identified as Arifa, 17, and Akthar, 19, the daughters of Gulam Nabi Dar, said local missionary Mercy Ciniraj, who knew them well. "The [murdered] girls were believers and used to read the Bible through underground ministries." She told BosNewsLife that "the girls were shot dead" last Monday, January 31, in the Baramulla area in Indian-controlled northern Kashmir, bordering Pakistan.

Belgium: No Government? No Sex!
Excerpt: If you want a politician's attention, hit 'em in the pants. That's the message from a Belgian senator who has urged legislators' spouses to go on a sex strike until their partners form a new coalition government. Flemish parliamentarian Marleen Temmerman, a member of the Socialist Party, proposed prohibiting hanky-panky as a way to end the political deadlock that followed June's inconclusive election. Belgium has gone 242 days without a government, which means the nation is just seven days away from beating the previous world record held by Iraq. (Who knows? It might work and the Belgians have nothing to lose. We, on the other hand, might be better off with no government for 200+ days a year. Ron P. It would bring France down! ~Bob.)

Cantor: Continuing Resolution Will De-fund ObamaCare
Excerpt: At his weekly press briefing, asked Cantor, "On the CR [continuing resolution], when that bill comes to the floor, will there be any funding for the health care reform law in it?" Cantor said, “I expect to see, one way or the other, the product coming out of the House to speak to that [ObamaCare funding] and to preclude any funding to be used for that." Also, following the briefing, Cantor aides confirmed to that while the continuing resolution had not been written yet, Republicans expected to amend the law to preclude any money from being spent to carry out the new health care provisions, which were signed into law by President Obama last March.

When one man's 'loophole' is another man's stimulus
Excerpt: President Obama says he wants to cut the corporate income tax rate while closing "loopholes." But - as is often the case on taxes - it's best to heed what he does, not what he says. Obama has supported - often stridently - most of the biggest "loopholes" in the current corporate income tax code. Unless he is willing to end manufacturing tax breaks, low-income housing credits, and ethanol subsidies, his loophole-closing talk from the State of the Union and his speech to the Chamber of Commerce is just more Obama jabberwocky on taxes. The Tax Foundation analyzed Treasury Department data on "tax expenditures" that benefit corporations - the sort of deductions, credits, or special rates that could be called "corporate tax loopholes" - and concluded that there wasn't much revenue to be gained by closing them. But ending these credits and deductions would still be good policy for reasons Obama articulated to the Chamber: "You've got too many companies ending up making decisions based on what their tax director says instead of what their engineer designs or what their factories produce."

AFGE head calls spending cut advocates 'mentally retarded'
Well, if true—I couldn’t find the video—so much for both PC and the new civility! ~Bob. Excerpt: John Gage is president of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the largest of the three major unions representing federal bureaucrats. Check out this video clip of Gage commenting on those in Congress advocating cuts in government spending. This is the kind of rhetoric that polarizes and de-humanizes in politics and it would be great if President Obama seized upon this comment to revoke AFGE's candidacy to represent Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees in the forthcoming workplace representation election.

Federal workers campaign against proposed cuts
Excerpt: Fresh from its annual conference on Capitol Hill, the federal government's largest union is launching a $1 million-plus campaign across the country to fight looming cuts to the workforce. "We're acknowledging that it's our union that has to carry the story of federal workers," John Gage, the outspoken president of the American Federation of Government Employees said Wednesday as the four-day legislative conference wrapped up. "We're going to energize and activate 2 million federal employees and their families," Gage said, "to let their representatives know these attacks will destroy [federal] agencies." AFGE has joined forces with other federal unions to fend off the targeted cuts. (A great reason why DC shouldn’t have statehood. ~Bob.)

Billions spent on programs without knowing if they work
The reality is that every federal dollar spent goes into someone’s rice bowl. The bigger the program, the more lobbyists and members of the interest group protecting that rice bowl’s “essential” spending. ~Bob. Excerpt: One of Washington's biggest lies about federal spending will be endlessly repeated in coming weeks by President Obama, congressional Democrats, special interest advocates and the liberal mainstream media. The myth is that the federal budget really cannot be cut except on the margins because government programs are managed efficiently, with minimal waste, fraud and abuse, and they deliver essential services that cannot be provided any other way. Two reports focusing on federal job training programs -- one from the Government Accountability Office and the other from Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla -- that were made public Wednesday put the lie to such claims. Nine federal agencies simultaneously operated at least 47 work force training programs at a cost of $18 billion in 2009. That total represented a $5 billion increase since 2003, thanks to added funding from Obama's economic stimulus program. Here are some examples from among many Coburn cited on how those tax dollars were spent:
Time to admit multiculturalism's failure
Excerpt: One of liberalism's many problems is that once an idea or program is proved wrong and unworkable, liberals rarely acknowledge their mistake and examine the root cause of their error so they don't repeat it. Take multiculturalism ... please! In a speech to a security conference in Munich, British Prime Minister David Cameron declared state multiculturalism a failure. For good measure, Cameron said Britain also must get tougher on Islamic extremists. Predictably, this has angered Islamic extremists. A genuinely liberal country, he said, "believes in certain values and actively promotes them. ... Freedom of speech. Freedom of worship. Democracy. The rule of law, equal rights, regardless of race, sex or sexuality." Cameron said in Britain different cultures have been encouraged to live separate lives: "We have failed to provide a vision of society to which they feel they want to belong." Here I would take issue with an otherwise excellent speech. It isn't that Britain has failed to provide such a society. Rather, many of those coming to Britain (and increasingly France, Germany and the United States) don't want to become a part of those cultures, which they regard as corrupt and anti-God.
Britain's policy should be to require -- yes, require -- immigrants to become part of a melting pot and not individual vegetables floating around in a multicultural stew. Otherwise, they should not be admitted.

Why 33 rounds makes sense in a defensive weapon
Excerpt: What's often lost amid activists' carping is that the effect of the notorious extended magazine does little to improve the pistol's lethality except in extraordinary circumstances, such as Tucson. Neither Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech mass murderer, nor the alleged Fort Hood killer used extended magazines in their rampages. America's first gun mass murder, when Howard Unruh killed 13 people in 1949, was committed with a Luger. In fact, the extended magazine actually vitiates the pistol's usefulness as a weapon for most needs, legitimate or illegitimate. The magazine destroys the pistol's essence; it is no longer concealable. Loughner allegedly wrapped the clumsy package in a coat for a short distance, but he could not have worn it in a belt or concealed it for an extended period. It had really ceased to be a pistol. That's why extended magazines are rarely featured in crime - and that awkwardness spells out the magazine's primary legitimate usage. It may have some utility for competitive shooting by cutting down on reloading time, or for tactical police officers on raids, but for those who are not hard-core gun folks it's an ideal solution for home defense, which is probably why hundreds of thousands of Glocks have been sold in this country. Particularly in rural Arizona, given the upsurge in border violence, it's likely that residents feel the need to defend themselves against drug predators, coyote gunmen or others. Yes, they can use semiautomatic rifles and shotguns, protected by the Second Amendment and unlikely to be banned by local law, but women generally don't care to put in the training needed to master them. Nor can the elderly handle them adeptly. For them, the Glock with a 33-round magazine is the weapon of maximum utility.

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