Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Political Digest for February 23, 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.

Four Americans Hijacked by Pirates are Dead
We need TR and we get BO. ~Bob. Excerpt: The Navy vessel drew close enough to the Quest today that Navy personnel heard gunfire. A rescue force boarded the yacht. They were fired upon by the pirates. Two pirates were killed in the gun battle. The Navy then discovered the bodies of all four hostages. They had been shot and killed. The Navy reports finding the remains of two other pirates who had been killed earlier.

Must Read: Logan's Non-Run
Under Islamic Shari’a law, a woman has to have four male Muslims as witnesses to prove rape. And if she says she had sex, but can’t prove it’s rape with four witnesses, she can be stoned for adultery—as has happened in the recent past more than once. But complaining about rape is “Islamophobic,” so shut up. ~Bob. Excerpt: At the heart of the Lara Logan story is a basic question: Is this a one-off crime? Or a cultural faultline? Look at the picture of her in the moments before the attack: blonde, bare-headed, hint of cleavage. I would send no western woman looking like that out into the streets of Cairo or any other Arab capital. In the hierarchy of infidel whores, blondes have a special cachet. I wrote years ago about the House of Saud's annual summer-long vacation for select princes at their Spanish resort: a lucky Mayfair escort agency has the exclusive contract to supply the girls; they all have to be blonde, and they're replaced after a fortnight, because the ladies are generally all worn out by then. As Samira Bellil wrote: "There are only two kinds of girls. Good girls stay home, clean the house, take care of their brothers and sisters, and only go out to go to school.” Whereas those who “wear make-up, to go out, to smoke, quickly earn the reputation as ‘easy’ or as ‘little whores’.” The late Miss Bellil was writing not of the slums of Cairo but of the French banlieues, in her autobiography Dans l’enfer des tournantes – “In the hell of the take-your-turns”, the tournante being the slang term used by Muslim youths for gang-rape. Samira survived the gang-rapes, but was disowned by her parents when she went public about it. In Cairo, Lara Logan was on the receiving end of a Tahrir tournante, but, like Monsieur et Madame Bellil, her parent company decided it was best to keep quiet about it. These facts are too cold and plain to be expressed in a "multicultural" society which has told itself that, thanks to the joys of diversity, a nice gay couple and a polygamous Muslim with three wives in identical burkas can live side by side at 27 and
29 Elm Street
. In America Alone, I mentioned two European women who’d taken to going out headscarved when their journeys took them through, ahem, certain neighborhoods. No young girl can safely walk in “scanty clothing” through Clichy-sous-Bois or Rosengard in Sweden. In La Courneuve in France, 77 per cent of covered women said they wore the veil to “avoid the wrath of Islamic morality patrols,” as Claire Berlinski put it. She added: “We are talking about France, not Iran.”

Gaddafi vows to 'die as a martyr,' refuses to relinquish power
Well, not that I’ve been opposed to him dying, martyr or otherwise, for a long time, but I don’t want him replaced with something worse, as seems likely. ~Bob. Excerpt: In a defiant speech on state television Tuesday, Libyan strongman Moammar Gaddafi rejected demands that he relinquish power, even as leaders of a popular revolt seized control in some areas and top officials resigned to protest attacks on civilians. I will not leave the country, and I will die as a martyr," Gaddafi, 68, said in the lengthy but disjointed address. The Libyan leader, whose government has been weakened in recent days even as it has brutally cracked down on mass protests, also said "damn those who try to stir unrest." He blamed the six-day-old popular revolt on "mercenaries" and foreign influences.

Reckless Spending by Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: However little President Obama knows or cares about economics, he knows a lot about politics-- and especially political rhetoric. "High-speed rail" is simply another set of lofty words to justify continued expansion of government spending. So are words like "investment in education" or "investment" in any number of other things, which serves the same political purpose. Who cares what the realities are behind these nice-sounding words? Obama can leave that to the economists, the statisticians and the historians. His point is to win the votes of people who know little or nothing about economics, history or statistics. That includes a lot of people with expensive Ivy League degrees. To talk glibly about spending more money on "high-speed rail" when the national debt has just passed a milestone, by exceeding the total value of our annual output, for the first time in more than half a century, is world-class chutzpa. The last time the U.S. national debt exceeded the value of our entire annual output, it was due to the cost of fighting World War II.

Excerpt: Supporting public sector unions in Wisconsin must be hurting Barack Obama. We know because he is using the New York Times to back away from his earlier statements and the tactics of his own Organizing for America. In fact, the White House says the involvement of the DNC and OFA “were overblown from the start”, but even the Times can’t help but note: Before Mr. Obama complained late last week of an “assault” on the unions by the Republican governor in Wisconsin, Scott Walker, the Democratic Party had alerted its volunteers in Organizing for America to support the protests there and elsewhere, seeing an opening to show solidarity with the labor movement and rev up the party’s liberal base ahead of the 2012 elections. By the weekend, national party officials were taking credit for encouraging the protests, especially through the use of Twitter and other online social networks. The White House now is forced to claim the DNC and OFA went forward without talking to the White House political team.

Public employee unions: The big money in politics: Is it any surprise that state legislators vote their donors state money?
Excerpt: A lot of people focus on the federal level when they think about politics. On the day after the 2010 election, I urged people to continue the fights at the state level. The unions — and especially the public employee unions — know that. Recall that in October of last year, the Wall Street Journal broke a very important story that found that AFSCME, the main non-teacher public employee union in the country, was the largest spender of the 2010 election. Their political director said, “we’re the big dog.” I urge you to turn your eyes to the state level. The National Institute on Money in State Politics has an excellent site on money in state politics. Who are the #1 spenders in state politics? The public employee unions. #2 the gambling industry. In Wisconsin? The teachers unions are first and third, with the trial lawyers in fourth. Oh, and the Democrats themselves are in second. And ultimately, that’s why the Democrats in the state legislature are AWOL. They are worried about their money getting cut off. You can see what the unions get for their money. They get state legislators who won’t even allow for a vote to ask public employees contribute to their health care and pension, even at levels below the national or Wisconsin average. However, one of the Democrats has realized the flaw in their plans. A budget requires 20 votes to pass in the state senate. But simply removing the collecting bargaining rights only requires a simple majority. Let’s hope that the Republicans take the opportunity of Democratic absence to deal with the situation appropriately.

Hamas-linked CAIR rep confronts Allen West, gets strong dose of reality
Excerpt: Someone who is apparently a representative of Hamas-linked CAIR tries to lie about the Qur'an and violence in Islam, and play the victim card, at a town hall meeting with Representative Allen West (R-FL). But West is different from others Hamas-linked CAIR has pulled this with: he is informed, determined, and clear-sighted. Watch the fun as the Hamas-linked CAIR rep's lies and victimhood posturing get shredded.

Oceania Has Always Been At War with Eurasia
Excerpt: It's always hard to choose a gold medalist. If we were compiling a list of the bravest men or women in the world, most of those who really deserved the title would be people unknown to us—South Sudanese soldiers, Pakistani Christian evangelists, daughters of Muslim families who risk honor killings by refusing to follow their parents' grim cultural script... there are so many people who really deserve our recognition whom we will never know this side of the grave. Perhaps I can stipulate that I honor all of them implicitly when today I praise Geert Wilders—a man who speaks out on all of their behalfs, who has dedicated his life to and courted death by exposing the ugly, barely concealed underside of Islamic supremacism. It's not as if our enemies have made a real effort to hide it—it's more like we've chosen to turn our faces away, as one might from the hairy plumber's crack of a machete-wielding kidnapper.

European Free Speech Under Attack
I’m okay with outlawing Hate Speech, provided I’m the person who gets to decide what Hate Speech is. Hate Speech is in the ear of the listener. ~Bob. Excerpt: "The lights are going out all over Europe," British Foreign Secretary Edward Grey famously remarked on the eve of World War I. I am reminded of those words whenever I read about Europeans being dragged into court for so-called hate-speech crimes. Recently, Danish journalist Lars Hedegaard, president of the International Free Press Society, had to stand trial in Copenhagen because he had criticized Islam. Mr. Hedegaard was acquitted, but only on the technicality that he had not known that his words, expressed in a private conversation, were being taped. Last week in Vienna, Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, an Austrian human-rights activist, was fined €480 for calling the Islamic prophet Muhammad a pedophile because he had consummated his marriage to a nine-year old girl. Meanwhile, my own trial in Amsterdam is dragging on, consuming valuable time that I would rather spend in parliament representing my million-and-a-half voters. How can all this be possible in supposedly liberal Europe? The Dutch penal code states that anyone who either "publicly, verbally or in writing or image, deliberately expresses himself in any way that incites hatred against a group or people" or "in any way that insults a group of people because of their race, their religion or belief, their hetero- or homosexual inclination or their physical, psychological or mental handicap, will be punished."

Libyan Islamists seize arms, take hostages
Excerpt: Islamist gunmen have stormed a military arms depot and a nearby port in Libya and seized numerous weapons and army vehicles after killing four soldiers, a security official says. The group also took several hostages, both soldiers and civilians, and is "threatening to execute them unless a siege by security forces is lifted" in Al-Baida, the official told AFP on Sunday, asking not to be named. "This criminal gang assaulted an army weapons depot and seized 250 weapons, killed four soldiers and wounded 16 others" in the Wednesday operation in Derna, which lies east of Al-Baida and 1300km from Tripoli. "Army Colonel Adnan al-Nwisri joined them and provided them with a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, three pieces of anti-aircraft artillery and 70 Kalashnikov" assault rifles, the source said. On Friday, he said they attacked the port in Derna and seized an assortment of 70 military vehicles.

Claremont McKenna’s Pro-Islamist Professor
Excerpt: Claremont McKenna College is a nationally recognized leader in training Defense Department officials and State Department personnel (including numerous ambassadors). Professor Bassam Frangieh is head of Claremont McKenna’s Arabic Department and Middle East Studies program, where he teaches tomorrow’s diplomats about the Middle East, plans study-abroad programs — and supports recognized terrorist groups, namely, Hezbollah and Hamas. In the wake of Hamas’s election victory in 2006, Frangieh told an interviewer that he looks to Hamas with “great joy” and supports violence against Israel. Hamas’s control, he said, “might be able to produce the beginning of salvation. . . . I wonder what else would the Arabs have without Hamas and Hezbollah? Nothing. Except humiliation. I congratulate Hamas on its victory.” Meanwhile, in his academic work, he has written in favor of suicide bombing and martyrdom. In a speech at the University of Bridgeport in 2007, he said that Islam is “very democratic,” and he praised Saddam Hussein as a model leader who “wasn’t a thief” and who “really did something for his country.” (All things are tolerated in academia except conservative, pro-American thought or speech. ~Bob.)

Worth Reading: Fjordman: Medieval Myths
Excerpt: Benedictow, as an expert in the field, has tried to influence the public debate on issues related to Islam vs. Europe in the Middle Ages, but has repeatedly experienced being rebuffed in favor of young Marxists with little knowledge of the period. He is annoyed by the fact that people who know very little about this era and its complexities have easy access to the mass media and can spread falsehoods virtually unchallenged. “Revolutionary Socialists” — that is, Communists — have no problem promoting their propaganda in major newspapers despite representing a totalitarian ideology that caused the deaths of tens of millions of people — 100 million if you believe The Black Book of Communism — during the twentieth century alone. For some reason, allegedly “anti-imperialist” Marxists in the Western world just love brutal, aggressive and oppressive imperialism — as long as it comes in an Islamic shape. There is no hint of an understanding of why the Spanish and Portuguese fought so many centuries for their liberation, nor of the plight of the Balkan Christians or those who suffered under Muslim rule elsewhere in the world, for example following the extremely bloody Islamic conquest of India. Islamic advances must be celebrated; the West demonized and ridiculed. European medieval peoples are invariable portrayed as barbarians with no culture of their own.

Tunisian prostitutes terrorized by Islamists
Excerpt: Tunisia Prostitutes living in fear of another attack since the Islamists tried to burn down the main prostitution district in Tunis. "I no longer go out, I fear they burn me alive", says one of them. Armed with Molotov cocktails, "small bottles filled with gasoline" and "Long Knives" chanting "Allah Akbar" Islamists have tried to set fire Friday to brothels in the district of Guechi Abdallah in Tunis near the Medina. Dressed in jeans and leather jackets, according to pictures taken by mobile phones, they were dispersed in the meandering alleys of this neighborhood by police and military.

The next thing to worry about may already be here.
A major solar flare—called a Coronal Mass Ejection or CME—occurred several days ago (see “Largest space weather storm in at least four years” posted on 18 Feb 2011), and seems to have focused the attention of many in the electronics and communications fields. The comparison to Katrina seems a bit over the top as any physical damage would be secondary to the failure of something electrical, and not as a direct result of the flare. (Unless the sun goes nova, of course, in which case we won’t be the least bit concerned about the next election’s results or much of anything else.) Reporters looking for headline-making quotes go to the guy who is the farthest out because he’s more interesting than the poor schmoe who says “You might see an Aurora some nights.” We need to protect our infrastructure and equipment against EMP anyway; this just raises the priority level. Ron P.

Scientists: A Solar Storm Could Have the Power of Katrina
Excerpt: Scientists have been warning for several years that the Earth is entering a new solar cycle characterized by more intense and frequent solar storms, where the sun releases large bursts of electrified gasses. Those storms can disrupt satellites, including the Global Positioning System; fry electronic devices; and even disrupt the electricity grid. Though such variations in the sun's cycle are normal, the world is increasing reliant on electronic devices, which are particularly vulnerable to interruption during such solar storms.

5 Political Catchphrases You Should Never Believe
Excerpt: One of the most tragic things about modern politics is that it's practically impossible for the average American to understand what's going on without an interpreter. By that, I mean that the "Saving Kittens, Baby Pandas, and Puppies Act of 2011" may actually be a bill that gives $10,000 tax credits to lawyers who defend sleazy zoos from negligence suits. From there, things only get worse because the newspapers blindly parrot whatever the liberal line is on the bill, the establishment Republicans say one thing, the Tea Partiers say another, and most people are left scratching their heads trying to figure out what the bloody hell is going on in a 2000 page bill that’s released to Congress about 11 minutes before they get around to voting. Still, there are certain oft-repeated shibboleths that you can safely interpret without having to tune into the Rush Limbaugh show or Right Wing News to figure out what's going on. Let's talk about a few of those.

China's 'Sputnik Moment'
Excerpt: Does China's government-funded push into so-called green energy constitute a "Sputnik moment" for the United States? That's the term Pres. Barack Obama used in a December 6 speech in Winston-Salem, N.C., evoking events of more than 50 years ago when the Soviet Union launched the world's first satellite and seemed, for a brief moment, to be winning the space race, leaving the United States behind as a military-industrial also-ran. There are two main problems with President Obama's comparison of Sputnik to our contemporary energy competition with China: It completely misunderstands the Chinese energy industry, and it completely misunderstands the American energy industry. Sputnik inspired a national campaign for the United States to first match, and then surpass, the Soviets' performance in space. Playing on similar fears, the theme of a mighty China surpassing the United States as the world's dominant power, or at least the world's dominant economic power, is irresistible to those who want more government involvement in the economy, especially government "investments" in things like renewable energy. But "catching up" to China would mean taking an enormous step backward: If the United States were to match China's performance in energy, then President Obama -- along with any sane environmentalist -- would be aghast. The United States already enjoys the far greener, far more energy-efficient economy -- one that is getting even more efficient even as China's coal-driven economy grows less so. In 1999, Chinese energy consumption was half that of the United States. But China's booming economy had a big energy appetite, and by 2010 the country was consuming more energy than the United States, according to International Energy Agency (IEA) data. The trend is likely to hold indefinitely, and Chinese energy use will soon outstrip America's by a significant and growing margin. But what do they do with all that energy? Right now, the Chinese economy is only about 40 percent the size of the American economy -- which is to say, less than one-third as energy-efficient as ours. Some Sputnik moment. Over the past decade, the U.S. has increased its energy efficiency by about 2.5 percent annually. Despite a far greater scope for improvement -- and despite a great deal of government spending -- China raised its efficiency by only 1.7 percent annually, according to the IEA.

Why the Health Care Law Increases the Gross Federal Debt
Excerpt: The hottest economic policy issues now facing the White House and Congress include government spending levels, the statutory debt limit extension and efforts to “repeal and replace” last year’s health care law. Largely overlooked in the public debate, however, has been the close relationship between the last two of these issues. Few have been discussing the fact that last year’s health care law will increase gross federal debt and thus accelerate the speed at which we will approach the statutory debt limit in the future. As elected officials wrestle with these two contentious issues (health care and the debt limit) it seems reasonable to set a minimum policy goal that last year’s health care law be modified so that it at least not worsen the statutory debt outlook. Note: this is not about whether one believes the Congressional Budget Office (CBO)’s scoring of the health care law. It’s not about whether one believes that assumed reductions in physician reimbursements and other Medicare payments will ever take place. Rather, even if one believes that all of this will occur to reduce unified budget deficits, total government debt subject to statutory limit would still rise significantly because of the law.

Tampa to Orlando High Speed Rail: The Risk to Local Taxpayers
Cost doesn’t matter. High Speed Rail is one of the Liberal Pillars of Faith. ~Bob. Excerpt: Eliminating State Taxpayer Risks, Creating Local? In an announcing his decision, Governor Scott cited the substantial risks to Florida taxpayers from cost overruns, the ongoing obligation under the federal grant to subsidize operations and the fact that under certain circumstances Florida might even have to repay the $2.4 billion in federal grants. Any local government accepting the federal money would expose itself to the financial risks from which Florida taxpayers have been exempted by Governor Scott's action. None of these risks is an idle threat. (1) Capital Cost Overruns: Based upon the international experience, the eventual construction cost overruns for the Tampa to Orlando high-speed rail line could easily run to $3 billion, more than doubling the price of the project (Note on Extent of Taxpayer Liability, below). In light of the recently reported 50 percent increase in California high-speed rail construction costs, even the $3 billion estimate could turn out to be conservative. The problem is that any local federal grant recipient (city, county or transit district) would be responsible for these cost overruns.

Despite Obama veto pledge, senior Dems want narrow earmark ban
Obama promised to veto earmarks in 2008, and lied. Why would they believe him now? ~Bob. Excerpt: Senior Senate Democrats want to limit the scope of an earmark moratorium adopted reluctantly in the wake of President Obama’s pledge to veto bills containing earmarks. Senior Democrats who chair authorizing committees argue that the earmark moratorium should not cover all “congressionally directed spending” under their jurisdiction. But Republicans led by Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) are pushing Democrats to apply the moratorium broadly.

Hezbollah Working with Cartels
Video after the Olive Garden advert. ~Bob. Excerpt: "Hezbollah are absolute masters at identifying existing smuggling infrastructures," says former DEA Chief of Operations Mike Braun, adding that the group "is developing relations with those responsible for operating those smuggling operations and then forming close relations with them, so that they can move anything they have an interest into virtually anywhere in the world." That comment comes from former DEA Chief of Operations Mike Braun.

Michigan Union ‘Outsources’ Protesters; Hires Homeless to Picket
Guess there are jobs that American (union) workers really won’t do. ~Bob.

The Beatles 3,000
Too funny.

A Précis on the Muslim Brotherhood
Excerpt: Former terrorist explains the history, intentions and beliefs of the Muslim Brotherhood. A terrorist network many around the world know little to nothing about.

Some scientific views are more equal than others in America
Excerpt: Opinion across a startlingly broad political range has been solidifying lately in favor of discrimination -- not discrimination on racial or sexual grounds, but against some controversial ideas and those who hold them. The ideas have to do with evolution. Is this a welcome development? A spate of lawsuits and complaints poses the question of whether, in scientific fields, a person holding unorthodox views on Darwinian theory merits being fired, denied a job, or other penalties. Last month at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, senior computer specialist David Coppedge was fired, having first been demoted. What got him in trouble? A supervisor complained he was talking in favor of intelligent design with colleagues. He is suing. Or meet astronomer Martin Gaskell, now at the University of Texas, to whom the University of Kentucky just paid $125,000 to settle his discrimination lawsuit. Gaskell presented e-mail traffic evidence from the faculty search committee that he was turned down to head UK's observatory because he wrote on his Web site that unguided evolution has "significant scientific problems." At the Smithsonian Institution, supervisors punished evolutionary biologist Richard Sternberg for editing a pro-intelligent design essay in a peer-reviewed biology journal. The U.S. Office of Special Counsel found that Smithsonian colleagues created a "hostile work environment" aimed at "forcing [Sternberg] out."

Islamic bigotry kept under wraps in Egyptian uprising
Excerpt: Why CBS kept mum for four days about the sexual assault of correspondent Lara Logan by a
Tahrir Square
mob we just don't know. Did Logan, flown from Cairo to a US hospital hours after the attack, request secrecy as a brutalized victim? Were news executives, or Logan herself, concerned that news of the assault would detract from the "democracy" drama? Such a blackout is hard to imagine if, for example, a star correspondent had been similarly violated by Tea Party-goers at a massive Glenn Beck rally. A keening outcry would have arisen from the mainstream media (MSM), accompanied by a natural zeal to investigate cultural or other reasons for the mob's brutality. Not excuses. And not disinterest. But in the Logan case we've seen both. First, only after news queries indicated the story was breaking did CBS on Tuesday release a brief rap sheet on the Friday crime.

Four men slashed teacher's face and left him with fractured skull 'for teaching other religions to Muslim girls'
The don’t seem to have received the “Islam is a Religion of Peace” memo. ~Bob. Excerpt: men launched a horrific attack on a teacher in which they slashed his face and left him with a fractured skull because they did not approve of him teaching religion to Muslim girls. Akmol Hussein, 26, Sheikh Rashid, 27, Azad Hussain, 25, and Simon Alam, 19, attacked Gary Smith with a Stanley knife, an iron rod and a block of cement. Mr Smith, who is head of religious education at Central Foundation Girls' School in Bow, east London, also suffered a fractured skull.

Medicaid fight shapes up as states deal with budget crunching
Excerpt: The Obama administration is gearing up for an influx of state requests to modify the federal-state Medicaid partnership when the nation's governors descend on the capital for their winter meeting next weekend. High on state leaders' list of priorities is changing the healthcare reform law's Medicaid expansion, which 26 states challenged in federal court. The issue received renewed attention last week when Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told Arizona it could drop thousands of Medicaid beneficiaries without running afoul of federal law — something 33 Republican governors have asked to be able to do. Sebelius is under heavy pressure to work with states, which are faced with great fiscal strain and worry about the healthcare reform law's requirement that Medicaid cover everyone — even childless adults — up to 133 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. Last month, 33 governors and governors-elect wrote to Sebelius requesting that she lift the reform law's so-called maintenance of effort (MOE) requirement, which restricts states' ability to cut their Medicaid rolls ahead of the expansion in 2014. "States are unable to afford the current Medicaid program, yet our hands are tied by the MOE requirements included in the [reform law]," they wrote. (Congress buys votes and forces the states to pay for them—no different when I was a state senator 30 years ago. ~Bob.)

Military's prized 'challenge coins' become copycat fad among agencies, politicians, companies
I carry a ‘Challenge Coin,” and own several for various Marine outfits. Guys often buy them for the units they served with. I have one from Leatherneck for writing for the magazine. But I wonder what a bureaucrat puts on one—a huge hemorrhoid? ~Bob. Excerpt: In the hospital, after her Black Hawk helicopter was shot down in a fireball, L. Tammy Duckworth's fellow soldiers made sure four of her personal items made the trip home from Iraq with her: her wedding ring, her dog tags, her unit patch and a coin she always kept in the breast pocket of her flight suit.

"Burglar Beatdown" Given by Tulsa Homeowner
Outrageous! When are we going to stop the proliferation of fists? Good picture, though. ~Bob. Excerpt: Technically he'll go down in the police report as a "victim", but a Tulsa man quickly and vigorously turned the tables on an alleged burglar who police say broke into the man's home in the 200 block of South 69th
East Avenue
Monday night. Tulsa Police Officer Jason Willingham said the victim was making a sandwich in the kitchen of the home when 45-year-old Todd Tracy Hicks (shown) tapped him on the shoulder and told him to get on the ground. Instead, the victim, who is in his mid-20's, started punching Hicks repeatedly in the face and then held him until police arrived.

Can you say Deja Vu? Democrats delay Indiana House amid union protests
Wonder what the media would say if Republicans were blocking something like ObamaCare by not showing up? Will this become an accepted legislative tactic when Democrats are in the majority? ~Bob. Excerpt: Democratic legislators are staying away from the Indiana House chamber, blocking the Republican majority from conducting business while hundreds of union members crowd the adjourning hallways in protest of a contentious labor bill. Only three of the 40 House Democrats were in the chamber when Republican Speaker Brian Bosma tried to begin Tuesday's session, leaving it with too few members for a quorum.

Dr. Bernard Nathanson - July 31, 1926 - February 21, 2011
Excerpt: He was in the pro-life movement nearly as long as I have been — I have known of him and followed him all my adult life, and was hugely influenced in my youth by his book Aborting America, in which he fearlessly and with brutal honesty described his pivotal role in the abortion movement and his career as an abortionist who presided over the deaths of 75,000 babies. In that book, he described how he and the other two co-founders of the National Association for the Reform of Abortion Laws (NARAL) deceived the public and framed the debate in order to build support for the legalization of abortion. (You can read his own very short summary of their tactics here.) But Nathanson also describes in his book how he came to realize what abortion really was. And once he did, he quit, and never looked back — indeed, he dedicated the rest of his life to fighting the Culture of Death that he had helped to create. He was that most courageous of men: one who could admit — and very publicly — that he had been wrong. And then do his best to repair the damage, all the while knowing that amends could never really be made. After all, nothing could bring those babies back.

The Awkward Situation Room
Satire. BO argues with BO, in his own words.

Unrest and Libya's Energy Industry
Excerpt: Unlike energy produced in most African states, nearly all of Libya’s oil and natural gas is produced onshore. This reduces development costs but increases the chances that political instability could impact output — and Libya has been anything but stable of late. Libya’s 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil output can be broken into two categories. The first comes from a basin in the country’s western extreme and is exported from a single major hub just west of Tripoli. The second basin is in the country’s eastern region and is exported from a variety of facilities in eastern cities. At the risk of oversimplifying, Libya’s population is split in half: Leader Moammar Gadhafi’s power base is in Tripoli in the extreme west, the opposition is concentrated in Benghazi in the east, with a 600 kilometer-wide gulf of nearly empty desert in between.

Death Channels
Although long, this outstanding recounting of the end of someone’s life raises many moral and ethical questions about hospice care. Last spring, this same author produced a wonderful multipart series on politics in higher education; this is as thoughtful and well written.  I urge you to read it. --Ron P. Excerpt: I actually knew very little about my uncle (whom I’ll dub “Larry” here to maintain his privacy) until he collapsed in public a little over a month ago. He never got along with his brother (that is, my father), and he lived 3,000 miles away on the East Coast, so he rarely showed up at family events. But on those rare occasions he did, he fawned over me, called me his “favorite,” and once I had grown up he told me that I was the only relative he could stand to be around. As a gay man, Uncle Larry never had any children of his own, nor did he (as far as I could tell) ever have a long-term romantic relationship; so I shouldn’t have been surprised that when the time came for him to name an “emergency contact” on various health-care forms, he wrote my name down. But he never informed me of this. So when I got a call in the middle of the night last month from a hospital on the other side of the country, with the news that Larry was deathly ill and that it was incumbent on me to make health-care decisions on his behalf, I was taken aback.
Che Guevara among “World’s Top Political Icons”—says Time Magazine
No matter how often you set the record straight about the cowardly, murderous scum, softheaded college students will still wear the tee shirt. ~Bob. Excerpt: “Che was the embodiment of a man true to his word,” asserts the current Time encomium to Che Guevara by Dan Fastenberg, a recent graduate of Columbia School of Journalism. Alas, the “research” by Time Magazine’s “gallant crusader for the truth” (Columbia School of Journalism’s term for its graduates) again appears deficient: “I am not a communist and have never been a communist,” was how Che Guevara gave his truthful word to the New York Times on Jan. 4th 1959. “It gives me great pain to be called a communist,” he continued truthing. “Che was the embodiment of a man who never backs down and is willing to pay the ultimate price,” continues Fastenberg. “After Guevara was captured fomenting revolution in Bolivia in 1967, he said, "Go ahead and kill me, I am just a man." In fact, on his second to last day alive, Che Guevara ordered his guerrilla charges to give no quarter, to fight to the last breath and to the last bullet. With his men doing exactly that, Che snuck away from the firefight, and crawled towards the Bolivian soldiers doing the firing.

Camel crisis on the Daily Show!.
Better alert PETA. ~Bob

Swing states on the rise heading into 2012
Have to scroll down. ~Bob. Excerpt: Heading into the 2012 presidential election, the number of solidly Democratic states has been cut in half as compared to 2008, numbers that suggest that the next national election could well be considerably closer than the last one. According to Gallup polling data from all 50 states, the number of solidly Democratic states has declined from 30 in 2008 to just 14 in 2010. (Any state where one side has a double-digit edge in party affiliation is defined by Gallup as "solid" for that party.) Of the 16 states that moved out of the "solidly Democratic" column over the past two years, 12 of them are now defined as "competitive" -- where the two sides are separated by less than five points on the party affiliation question -- while three are rated by Gallup as "lean Democratic" (a Democratic party affiliation advantage of between five and ten points).

Excerpt: "They've painted themselves in a corner," Wisconsin Republican state senator Randy Hopper says of his Democratic colleagues. "There's no way for them to get out of it." Democratic senators last week fled Wisconsin rather than allow a vote on Republican Gov. Scott Walker's new budget bill, with its curtailments of some public-sector unions' right to bargain collectively. The bill surely would have passed given the Republicans' 19 to 14 advantage in the Senate. So Democrats, deeply dependent on union money and support, ran away to avoid a vote. Walker has stood firm in the fight, but the truth is a lot of Republicans were nervous last week when crowds of protesters showed up and Democrats headed for the hills. What if the public supported the unions? After going home to their districts over the weekend, Republicans are feeling better. Many heard from constituents telling them to hang tough, and voters were especially unhappy with Democrats for hightailing it out of state. "We think public opinion is with us on the budget issue, and we're sure public opinion is with us on the Democrats' not showing up for work and doing their job," says Mark Jefferson, executive director of the state Republican Party.

Wisconsin confrontation could be fatal flaw in Obama's 2012 re-election strategy
Excerpt: One reason why Obama Democrats are now backing away from their earlier enthusiasm for the public employee union protestors chanting in the streets of Madison, Wisconsin, against Republican Gov. Scott Walker and the newly-elected GOP majorities in the state senate and house may be their realization that they're on the losing side. Too bad they didn't consult with Richard Pollock before filling the busses with protestors headed to Wisconsin. Pollock is Pajamas TV's Washington editor and is a former Fox News and ABC Good Morning America producer. He is an insightful analyst of Washington's never-ending insider politicking. Pollock thinks the Madison protests represented the second of a two-track Obama 2012 re-election strategy. The first track, of course, was the effort to portray Obama as the moderate guy willing to compromise with the new Republican sheriffs in town following their 2010 election sweep. Compromising with the newly resurgent GOP to extend the Bush tax cuts for a couple of years was the first major manifestation of the first track and predictably earned Obama widespread praise among Democrats and the mainstream media for emulating President Clinton's successful 1996 re-election strategy. But Pollock argues in his latest Pajamas Media column that Wisconsin was the flawed beginning of the second track and Obama and his advisors got it all wrong: "The decision by the Democratic Party and its allies to draw a line in the sand in Wisconsin was the wrong strategy, in the wrong state, at the wrong time, on the wrong issue, and executed in the wrong way.

Union protestors shout down Fox News report on doctors handing out fake excuse notes to Wisconsin teachers
Exhibit A of the “new Civility” BO called for. ~Bob. Excerpt: Here's what "democracy" looks like to union protestors in Wisconsin - Screaming, shouting and silencing a fellow citizen trying to participate in a news organization's attempt to provide the general public with facts about doctors handing out fraudulent medical absence excuse notes.

Starving N. Korea begs for food, but U.S. has concerns about resuming aid
So, how’s that centrally-planned economy working out for you, compared to South Korea, an economic powerhouse under Democracy, property rights and free markets? But still the statists want to bring these joys to us, convinced they will do it right—for the first time. The people of North Korea will be better served, long term, by requiring economic and political reforms, and a dismantling of the nuclear program in return for aide. That will be harsh, but fewer will die. ~Bob. Excerpt: North Korea recently took the unusual step of begging for food handouts from the foreign governments it usually threatens. Plagued by floods, an outbreak of a livestock disease and a brutal winter, the government ordered its embassies and diplomatic offices around the world to seek help. The request has put the United States and other Western countries in the uncomfortable position of having to decide whether to ignore the pleas of a starving country or pump food into a corrupt distribution system that often gives food to those who need it least.

Out of Wisconsin, a lesson in leadership for Obama
Excerpt: Serene at the center of this storm sits Republican Scott Walker, 43, in the governor's mansion library, beneath a portrait of Ronald Reagan. Walker has seen this movie before. As Milwaukee County executive, he had similar dust-ups with government workers' unions, and when the dust settled, he was resoundingly reelected, twice. If his desire to limit collective bargaining by such unions to salary issues makes him the "Midwest Mussolini" - some protesters did not get the memo about the new civility - other supposed offenses include wanting state employees to contribute 5.8 percent of their pay to their pension plans (most pay less than 1 percent), which would still be less than the average in the private sector. He also wants them to pay 12.6 percent of the cost of their health care premiums - up from about 6 percent but still much less than the private-sector average.

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