Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Political Digest for February 8, 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.

Worth reading: Health and Climate
Excerpt: Sometime in the next 1,000 years our planet will slip into another Ice Age, if the historical cycles of the past continue to repeat. It will not be pleasant. Where are you going to get food to eat when all of our farms and ranches are covered by a perpetual ice sheet? Last time I looked, there were no more wooly mammoths around — and even if there were, they couldn’t feed the world’s 6 billion people. It will not be short. Warm periods, such as the one we are currently in, last only about 10,000 years. The cold periods that separate them last about 100,000 years. The worst prediction I have heard about global warming is that Florida will be completely under water in 500 years. If scientists unlock the secret of immortality and I’m still around at that time, I’ll only be able to reach my Miami condo by gondola. Yet that will be a piece of cake compared to a world in which Miami is approachable only with snow sleds and huskies. Have you ever wondered why some people hyperventilate about some crises and not others? Why do they froth at the mouth when they think about global warming, but remain almost indifferent to the much more serious threat of global cooling? I have a theory about that. But first a personal confession…. Yet we have been encouraged to think just the opposite by headline grabbing alarmists. Here’s amateur climatologist Al Gore telling us that a record snow storm is evidence of global warming. Here’s former Senator Robert Byrd telling us that lack of winter snow is evidence of global warming. Here is an apparently serious year 2000 prediction that English children will never experience snow. Here is a 2009 report on record-breaking snow paralyzing London. One of the worst offenders is someone who should know better: NASA scientist James Hansen, who rarely lets any climate event go by without claiming the event is evidence of global climate change.
 (Global warming has winners, in increased food production. Global Cooling—the “scientific consensus of the 1970s—has no winners. ~Bob.)

The most embarrassing Super Bowl gaffe?
Excerpt: You may have noticed that Chrysler released the longest ad in Super Bowl history on Sunday night, featuring the new Chrysler 200 driven by Detroit native rap star Eminem, an ad that CEO Sergio Marchionne says cost less than $9 million. But given that the company’s CEO also announced this past week that is seeking a “better deal” on government loans, it is likely that this ad had more to do with getting political support than selling cars. Besides, is spending millions on a Super Bowl ad appropriate for a company that received a taxpayer bailout to recover from a bankruptcy? Not only did Chrysler spend $9 million on a long Super Bowl ad when asking for a better deal on their loan from taxpayers, the CEO of Chrysler managed to insult taxpayers for not offering more friendly terms on their government bailout: Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said the automaker was in talks to refinance its expensive government loans — and criticized the government for charging him “shyster” rates.

Now comes hard part for Boehner as run of GOP unity nears end
Excerpt: But that run of GOP unity is about to end. Boehner faces a defining moment in his Speakership as he and his lieutenants navigate a trio of major bills: a short-term measure to fund the government, the longer-term budget blueprint, and legislation raising the federal debt ceiling beyond its present $14.3 trillion limit. “We have to work our will in the House. We have to work with our colleagues in the Senate and put something on the president’s desk,” Boehner said last week. Perhaps no issue will test Boehner as much as authorizing more debt, which pits the harsh reality of governance against the core promise that 87 House Republican freshmen made to their constituents: We will stop borrowing money we don’t have. (In the Massachusetts Senate, the joke was, “this would be a great job if you didn’t have to vote,” because every vote made someone mad. ~Bob.)

Gingrich 527 pulls in big money
Excerpt: Newt Gingrich outpaced his potential 2012 rivals in fundraising during the last three months of 2010 thanks to his influential 527 group "American Solutions for Winning the Future," which can solicit unlimited corporate and individual contributions. Gingrich's K Street-based organization, which houses most of his staff and political operation, raised over $3.8 million between October and the end of December, and almost $14 million over the course of the entire year, according to new filings with the IRS. His political action committee, American Solutions PAC, which is subject to tighter campaign finance regulations, raised roughly $425,000 during the same period. The rest of the early 2012 field - including Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin and Tim Pawlenty - have relied on a network of PACs to raise money, fund their political operations and assist other Republican candidates. Based on PAC fundraising alone during the final three months of 2010, Palin outraised her potential opponents, taking in nearly $1.1 million. Romney was next, raising nearly $954,000 for his Free and Strong America PAC in the last quarter.

Huffington Post agrees to $315 million buyout from AOL
Maybe that “Internet kill switch” isn’t such a bad idea. ~Bob. Excerpt: Huffington Post, the liberal-leaning online news site that has been one of the Internet's start-up success stories, said it agreed to a $315 million buyout late Sunday night from AOL Inc., the elder statesman of online access and digital content. Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington, who made the announcement on her site Sunday night, will become president and editor in chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, which will put the news outlet she co-founded under the same ownership as AOL's collection of sites. Huffington - the former wife of one-time Republican Senate candidate Michael Huffington - has evolved into a well-known pundit and author, and a powerful player in Democratic circles as a result of her venture.

Giving Workers a Union Choice
Excerpt: One of the under-appreciated fault lines in the U.S. economy is between the 22 "right-to-work" states and the rest of the country. The former have tended to do much better economically. Now some non-right-to-work states such as Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan are thinking about joining this club that allows workers to opt-out of union membership….Right-to-work states outperform forced-union states in almost every measurable category of worker well-being. A new study in the Cato Journal by economist Richard Vedder finds that from 2000 to 2008 some 4.7 million Americans moved from forced-union to right-to-work states. The study also found that from 1977 through 2007 there was "a very strong and highly statistically significant relationship between right-to-work laws and economic growth." Right-to-work states experienced a 23% faster rise in per capita income over that period. The two regions that have lost the most jobs in recent years, the once-industrial Northeast and Midwest, are mostly forced-union states.

Excerpt: On the surface, the January jobs report sows nothing but confusion — bad top-line jobs but a sharp drop in unemployment. The BLS reported only 36,000 new non-farm jobs — 50,000 new jobs in the private sector. But unemployment was down from 9.4 to 9.0 percent. So what to make of this report?

T. Boone Pickens Unwittingly Reveals the Absurdity of "Energy Independence"
Excerpt: This week's uprising in Egypt that occurred in concert with a minor spike in the price of oil unsurprisingly led to renewed commentary suggesting the U.S. must achieve "energy independence." A USA Today editorial noted that "More than half the oil Americans use is imported - a vulnerability exposed by the ongoing tumult in Egypt", while noted energy scold T. Boone Pickens decried our continued "exposure" to overseas events that allegedly reward us with higher oil prices. But looked at with a more reasoned eye, the events in Egypt exposed the sheer absurdity of the charitably false notion of energy independence. For one, the not so notable increase in oil prices was to be expected either way. As this column has shown more than once, the price of a barrel of crude tends to revert to 1/15th of an ounce of gold, and as of Tuesday, oil's price increase merely brought it in line with its historical cost.

Education Cost Top Problem for Local Gov't
Excerpt: State and local governments face financial difficulties in 2011 and 2012 more severe than they have seen in generations. Pessimists predict major municipal or even state bankruptcies. Optimists insist that, while serious budget problems will increase rather than ease, governments will skirt default by sharply increasing taxes and cutting deeply into services. Unfortunately, while the threat of increasing Medicaid costs has received significant attention, politicians, analysts, the media and the public seem largely to have missed the $600 billion elephant in the statehouse. The key structural problem in state and local finances is education, not health care. And a fundamental shift in our K-12 investment strategy is the only way to avoid defaulting on the promise of a public education.

What School Vouchers Have Bought for My Family
Excerpt: When Jerlisa was in fifth grade, she became anxious and didn’t want to return to school. It was clear to me she wasn’t getting the help that she needed. That’s when I received fliers about the Opportunity Scholarship Program. Although I didn’t know everything about the OSP, I knew I had to do something different, even if it meant getting out of my comfort zone. When you’re a single mother on a fixed income, sometimes simple things like filling out your name, address or income on a form can be a scary thing to do. I applied, and the OSP staff guided me through the process. When I received the voucher award letter, I was overwhelmed by the decisions I faced. For the first time, I had the option of choosing a school for Jerlisa. Where should I send her? What were the most important things to consider? In the end, I chose St. Benedict the Moor School because it had an environment that motivated students to learn. I wouldn’t have to worry about her falling behind, and I knew she would be safe there. It was a huge change for Jerlisa, and sometimes she struggled. Then, four years into the program, Jerlisa was accepted at Archbishop Carroll High School. We were so excited, but now I had a new worry — how would I pay for it all? The scholarship didn’t cover the full tuition, and there also were books, uniforms and even her lunch to consider. On top of everything, I was taking care of my father, who was dying of cancer.

On being a scientist – a manual
Excerpt: “Because of the critical importance of methods, scientific papers must include a description of the procedures used to produce the data, sufficient to permit reviewers and readers of a scientific paper to evaluate not only the validity of the data but also the reliability of the methods used to derive those data. If this information is not available, other researchers may be less likely to accept the data and the conclusions drawn from them. They also may be unable to reproduce accurately the conditions under which the data were derived. The best methods will count for little if data are recorded incorrectly or haphazardly. The requirements for data collection differ among disciplines and research groups, but researchers have a fundamental obligation to create and maintain an accurate, accessible, and permanent record of what they have done in sufficient detail for others to check and replicate their work. …” (...) Cases of clear scientific misconduct have made headlines in recent years, among them the fabrication of data by a team of stem-cell researchers at Seoul National University and the fraudulent manipulation of photos submitted to the Journal of Cell Biology. Though obvious violations of professional standards may be uncommon, less-dramatic ethical questions confront many scientists in the course of a career: How should credit for a discovery be allocated among a team of researchers? How should a scientist respond if he discovers errors — his own or others’ — in a published analysis? And how can a researcher recognize when a conflict of interest could bias the results of a study she hopes to undertake? (This article is basically a book review of a manual published by the National Academy of Sciences back in March, 2009, fully eight months before the climategate scandal broke. The problem isn't confined to climate research, it's simply that climate research is the most obvious example. Ron P.)

California Cap and Trade Tripped Up By Pollution Rhetoric
Excerpt: The economic harms of carbon cap-and-trade policies are so well established that even a state as reliably leftist as California has never been able to pass a plan through their legislature. Instead, environmentalists in the Golden State have relied on the California Air Resources Board (CARB), whose appointed governing board is democratically unaccountable, to develop and impose carbon regulations by bureaucratic fiat. And this past December, much to the delight of many environmentalists, CARB passed the first carbon cap-and-trade scheme in the United States. Everything looked ready to go … until a San Francisco Superior Court judge issued a ruling, just made public last week, that, if made final, would stop CARB from implementing its plan. The plaintiffs in the suit? The Center on Race, Poverty, and the Environment.

Malawi row over whether new law bans farting
Excerpt: Justice Minister George Chaponda says the new bill would criminalise flatulence to promote "public decency". "Just go to the toilet when you feel like farting," he told local radio. (From the weird news department: How often have you wished there was a law against something you found irritating? You know damned well it’s only a matter of time before some brilliant multiculturist legal mind right here in the USA decides to cite this as an “international standard.” By the way, the law in question has banned pollution since 1929, but now a real beancounter [beansniffer?] has gotten into the action. And, I'd better never go there. Ron P. How long until al Gore speaks out against the “greenhouse gas” and we have to buy carbon offsets to eat chili? This is a violation of my constitutional right to express myself through flatulence! It stinks—figuratively speaking. ~Bob.)

Worth Reading: Made in the U.S.A.
Excerpt: There's just one problem with all the gloom and doom about American manufacturing. It's wrong. Americans make more "stuff" than any other nation on earth, and by a wide margin. According to the UN's comprehensive database of international economic data, America's manufacturing output in 2009 (expressed in constant 2005 dollars) was $2.15 trillion. That surpassed China's output of $1.48 trillion by nearly 46 percent. China's industries may be booming, but the United States still accounted for 20 percent of the world's manufacturing output in 2009 -- only a hair below its 1990 share of 21 percent. "The decline, demise, and death of America's manufacturing sector has been greatly exaggerated," says economist Mark J. Perry, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. "America still makes a ton of stuff, and we make more of it now than ever before in history." In fact, Americans manufactured more goods in 2009 than the Japanese, Germans, British, and Italians -- combined. American manufacturing output hits a new high almost every year. US industries are powerhouses of production: Measured in constant dollars, America's manufacturing output today is more than double what it was in the early 1970s.

If We Want to Promote Freedom, How About Starting at Home?
Excerpt: Getting back to the Middle East, the most effective thing we could have been doing, and can do now, is set an example. If we want to promote freedom, how about starting at home? The Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal publish annually an Index of Economic Freedom in which they rank 179 nations by economic freedom – size of government, regulations, tax and trade policy, monetary policy, etc. The Index rankings correlate almost perfect with prosperity. The more a nation is economically free, the more prosperous it is likely to be.

How President Obama plays media like a fiddle
Excerpt: In early November, Barack Obama was one sad sack of a president — his agenda repudiated by midterm voters, his political judgment scorned by commentators, his future darkened by a growing belief he might be a one-time president. In early February, Obama is master of the moment — his polls on the upswing, his political dexterity applauded by pundits, his status as Washington’s dominant figure unchallenged even by Republicans. This three-month metamorphosis says something about Obama’s survival skills, but the turnabout says even more about the mainstream media: Obama is playing the press like a fiddle.

Serious rant about Islam
This is that British comedian who is in contention for most outspoken critic of Islam in the West. He has done some nice rants in the past, but this one beats all. If you want to enjoy hearing a vicious, cut by cut dissection of Islamic countries and culture, give this guy 5 minutes. He uses the English language like a rapier coated with poison, really quite a talent! –Del. My buddy Del sent this, which, not wanting to jeopardize my candidacy for “Multiculturalist Blog of the Year,” I publish without comment. ~Bob.

Jane Harman to resign from Congress
California Rep. Jane Harman (D) will resign from Congress, a surprise announcement that will set off a special election in her 36th district. "This is an excruciating decision because the distinction of representing the smartest constituents on earth will never be surpassed -- nor will my relationships with my exceptional staff and colleagues in Congress," said Harman in an email sent to supporters today. Harman added that she had filed paperwork with the House to let them know she was "in discussions to succeed former Rep. Lee Hamilton as President and CEO of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars."…. The election will be the first major test of the state's new "jungle primary" law where all candidates -- regardless of party -- will run against one another. The two top vote-getters advance to a special general election. (Jungle Primary would work well, if, say, there were two Republicans who each got 15% of the vote, and seven Democrats who each got 10% of the vote, leaving “the smartest constituents on Earth” with a final choice of two Republicans. ~Bob.)

Is the GOP nomination worth having in 2012?
People saying Obama was toast, and people saying he’ll be re-elected both forget history, which suggests that a lot of things can, and will, happen between now and November 2012. Many of them will be bad things. ~Bob. Excerpt: In the wake of a 2010 midterm election that amounted to an across-the-board -- or close to it -- drubbing of Democrats, there were dire predictions for President Obama's chances of reelection in 2012. Fast forward three months, however, and the president's approval ratings are up, the unemployment rate is down and Democrats are feeling a whole lot more confident about Obama's chances of keeping hold of the White House next November. Which prompts the question: Is the Republican presidential nomination worth having?

Pamela Anderson Says Immigrants Need to Respect the Legal Citizenship Process
Excerpt: The Canada-native recently penned her thoughts on a vast range of politically-driven topics in Playboy magazine, and published the unedited version on her website. In the transcript, she expresses her views that those seeking refuge in America need to respect the country and do it by the books. "I’m an immigrant myself. It was a tough road to come to America and work. The American Dream is seductive, but there is a legal way to do it and there would be more jobs here for people if it was honored," she wrote. "There is something about the process that has to be honored—and respected." Anderson also feels that we need to "get back on the farm and teach our kids that entry level positions in the work force start with manual labor."

IRS Gives $33 Mil in Bogus Electric Car Credits
The government agency that’s showered prison inmates with millions in fraudulent tax refunds over the years has been cheated out of $33 million by thousands who “erroneously” claimed credits for alternative and plug-in electric vehicles. In automatically granting the bogus tax credits the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was simply following an aggressive Obama Administration plan to reward consumers that purchase the costly “advanced-technology” vehicles. The president is on a mission to get 1 million of the environmentally friendly cars on the road by 2015. As a result of that push the IRS failed to appropriately scrutinize claims, even when they clearly didn’t meet the criteria. In the first six months of 2010 alone, 20% of such federal tax credits were “erroneous,” costing U.S. taxpayers more than $33 million. Details of this latest IRS gaffe are laid out in a report released this week by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. (Environmentally friendly? These are coal-powered cars! Most electricity is generated by burning coal. ~Bob.)

IRS: Working to Mainstream Welfare
Excerpt: As strange as it sounds, the IRS is in the middle of an extensive marketing campaign to find more EITC [Earned Income Tax Credit] claimers, asserting that one in five eligible recipients is missing out on government largesse. Word is being spread through web, radio and print media and "65 national partners, 370 community-based coalitions and thousands of local partners." Jan. 28 was the "5th Annual Earned Income Tax Credit Awareness Day." The past two Saturdays, selected IRS offices were open in order to provide special assistance "to EITC eligible taxpayers." The IRS has a dedicated website, EITC Central, that includes sample Tweets (Facing hard economic times? See if you qualify for EITC), sample letters to the editor (...many working people are overlooking an important tax credit that could put anywhere between $2 to more than $5,600 into their pockets...), and even a link to liberal think-tank Brookings Institution's EITC friendly literature. Euphemisms and doublespeak abound in this area ("You earned it. Now file, claim it and get it"). A tax credit is not a reduction in tax liability. A refund is not a return of taxes paid or advanced. Taxpayers are payees. And though the IRS claims "it is not welfare," it is. In fact, it's one of the primary federal "social safety net" programs. (The more people they can get on government handouts, the larger the lobbying group against reducing the budget. Probably already past the tipping point. ~Bob.)

The Brit PM's Limp Attack on Multiculturalism
Better a limp attack than strong support! ~Bob. Excerpt: Do you want to know why we have Moslem prayers broadcast five times daily in Hamtramck, Michigan; Moslem foot baths installed in the Kansas City Airport; "Islamic Immersion" classes in a California school district; Moslems who are planning jihad against us on our own shores; and Moslems who demand an Arabic public school in NYC and Moslem dormitories at colleges? Legal immigration. Why do we have illegal immigrants brazen enough to protest in the streets and demand the rights of citizens? Legal immigration. Why do you have to press buttons to conduct business in the language of the land and why are government documents printed in foreign ones? Legal immigration. Why have we seen Mexicans in our streets burning our flag and wielding signs stating "Gringo Go Home"? Legal immigration. Modern immigration regimes are causing similar problems in all Western countries, whether Holland, Denmark, France, Sweden or Canada -- or Britain. As for the UK, as the Muslim population continues to grow, its culture will become more Islamized, no matter what is done within the confines of British democracy. This is Cultural Reality 101.

Marines Live Shot Super Bowl National Anthem
No sound, but this video was taken in Afghanistan while Christina was screwing up our National Anthem before the Super Bowl last night. A lot of the players from both teams and a large number of the fans in the stadium should have taken a cue when this shot was shown on the giant screens. --MasterGuns

Palin Event Canceled Due To Threats and Harassment
Civility, left wing statist style. ~Bob. Excerpt: Excerpt: The Sharon K. Pacheco Foundation is a Colorado non-profit organization that supports military families and at-risk youth through “care packages, financial aid, grief support, and children’s camp,” according to their Facebook page. They appear to be a small operation with limited Web resources, but they’ve been around a while – a post on the Facebook wall from September announced their 9th annual toy drive to support the children of deployed service members. Last Friday, they announced a “Patriots & Warriors Gala” to be held at the Infinity Park Event Center in Glendale on May 2, with Sarah Palin as the keynote speaker. Two days later, the SKP Foundation canceled the event, citing “safety concerns resulting from very personal attacks against Sarah Palin, our organization, and seemingly anyone affiliated with this event, simply because she was kind enough to be our keynote speaker.” Explaining its decision in a press release, the Foundation said it was “not prepared for the intense and overwhelming personal attacks against our organization or individuals who have given tremendous personal time and made great sacrifices to help support our mission.” (American liberals of the community organizer variety have learned well from the successes of contemporary and historical Islamofascist Jihadi tactics. And don't expect Black Panther protector Eric Holder to lift a finger about this issue. All conservatives are fair game in Holder's DOJ. –DH)

NAACP Won't Directly Address the Racism Leveled Against Clarence Thomas at Progressive Protest
Excerpt: The NAACP won’t directly address the racism displayed by progressive protesters outside a summit hosted by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch at the end of January in Palm Springs, Calif., but the organization did call for an end to all “vitriolic language.” In response to The Daily Caller’s request for comment on a video showing progressive protesters calling for somebody to “string up” African American Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, or “send him back into the fields” or “cut off all his toes and feed them to him one-by-one,” NAACP spokesman Hilary Shelton pointed to the organization’s recent resolution calling for a “civil political discourse.” (Pay attention. They meant ‘civil discourse” for themselves. But “stringing up” is okay for Thomas because he doesn’t agree with them. ~Bob.)

"Propaganda for the EDL" [English Defence League]
Excerpt: The Prime Minister did not use the word ‘left’ in isolation or the phrase ‘left-wing’ at all. He did not associate the ‘Red Army Faction’ with any mention of ‘left-wing terrorism’, or the anarchist movements in Italy or Greece with left-wing radicals, which they are. He used the word ‘liberal(ism)’ twice, and the phrases ‘muscular liberalism’ and ‘genuinely liberal’ – both relatively positive usages. But his use of the word ‘right’ was unremittingly negative: he talked of a ‘right-wing fascist party’; ‘right-wing extremists’; ‘far right groups’ and ‘the hard right’. The subliminal is inescapable: right-wing politics and right-wing philosophy are malignant: the ‘heir to Blair’ continues the Blairite mission to wipe out ‘the forces of Conservatism’. But at least Tony Blair mentioned ‘Conservatism’: David Cameron has completely expunged the word from his narrative: just like the last Party conference, it made no appearance in his speech at all, as though it had nothing positive to say on the issue of state-enforced multiculturalism and social engineering.

Indonesia mob attacks 'heretic' Muslims, kills 3
Didn’t get the “Islam is a Religion of Peace” memo. ~Bob. Excerpt: A machete-wielding mob of Muslims on Sunday attacked the home of a minority sect leader in central Indonesia, killing three and wounding six others, police and witnesses said. Local police chief Lt. Col. Alex Fauzy Rasyad said about 1,500 people - many with machetes, sticks and rocks - attacked about 20 members of the Ahmadiyah Muslim sect who were visiting their leader in his house in Banten province on Indonesia's main island of Java. He said the crowd demanded that the sect members stop their activities, but the request was rejected. As a result, the crowd stabbed to death at least three men, destroyed the house and set fire to their cars and motorbikes. Six others were hospitalized, four with critical injuries.

WUWT is a finalist in the 2011 “bloggies” awards
Excerpt: I was very surprised to learn today (almost a week later) that WUWT has been nominated for Best Science Blog in the 2011 Bloggies. This is like the Superbowl for bloggers. This nomination was done by a blind vote of some 200 people that got nomination ballots. I’m up there with HuffPo, Wired and many others in this award contest. Who isn’t on it is equally interesting. Please read on for info on how to cast your votes for WUWT and other bloggers. Here’s the timeline and where to vote: (Perhaps a third of the items I send TOJ originate at this one science site (when practical, I go to the original source, so the WUWT web address doesn't always show). WUWT has provided a lot of coverage outside the climate science box. In 2010, they were literally first up with pictures of the Gulf oil fire and explosion (pictures used two days later by Fox and other news outlets) that were linked here in TOJ before any of the news networks knew the pictures even existed. WUWT was among the first with coverage of last November's "mystery missile" that is still unexplained to everyone's satisfaction. The prior November, they were one of the sites that broke the Climategate scandal. Winning this award won't net Anthony Watts any big prize, the reward is $20.11, literally, but the bragging rights would be a well-deserved pat on his back for years of good work. If you can spare a couple of minutes to go to the link in the article and vote for WUWT, it would be a fair return for the info the site has provided us at TOJ all year. Ron P.)

Cruise Lines Abandon San Diego due to Mexico Drug Crime, High California Taxes
Excerpt: The major cruise lines have just announced they are leaving San Diego, California to make NEW home ports in Texas, Florida and Australia.  I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that Texas and Florida don’t have state income taxes and California has the highest state income tax in the country? I'm also sure new governor Jerry Brown's announcement that a $50 billion tax increase should be approved by voters this spring is also "helpful" as businesses make their decisions about whether to stay in "the Golden State." Finally, who can blame tourists for being horrified by the crimes along  the "Mexican Riviera?"

The Incredible Lightness of Obama
Excerpt: This week saw a showdown between the man whose most significant achievement before 2008 was that he very nearly got the asbestos removed from the Altgeld Gardens tenements in Chicago and the third-longest-ruling head of Egypt since the Pharaoh Ramses, whose reign lasted 67 years. The Egyptian, an 82-year-old with terminal cancer, easily bested the community organizer, the man elected by people who quite clearly confused the last presidential election with an American idol contest. While many who elected the American president probably do not yet realize it, it is lucky for them that he lost the showdown, for had he not, the results would have created worldwide havoc and devastation. The week marked the continuation of a popular and judicial revolt against the overweening and extralegal domestic power-grab by the Obama administration and ended with the president once again backing the wrong horse and trumpeting to the world how much more he favors our enemies than our allies. Like Honduras before him, Hosni Mubarak outsmarted and outplayed the community organizer.

Felon Locator a hoax?
The so-called "Felon Locator" is a phony. It shows felons in rivers, on a beach, etc. and all the names are pretty much of the same type. The guys who run the parent site are trying to sell you their investigative services, and seeing the game they played on this thing, I'd never trust them for anything. Sorry, but it does look efficient and official. Should have known better. –Del

Texas booms while California busts
Excerpt: Between 2000 and 2009, California had a domestic outflow of 1.5 million people, while Texas had 850,000 move in from other states. From 2008 to 2009, Texas’ population inflow was double that of any other state. So how have two similar states ended up in such radically different situations? The answer is smaller government. What Texas is doing “appears as right-wing science fiction to many California legislators and pundits. They claim that serious reform of the tax code is unrealistic, that a large state has many duties to fulfill, and that it is irresponsible to call for a return to a 19th century view of the role of government,” write economists Arthur B. Laffer, Stephen Moore and Jonathan Williams in their annual report “Rich States, Poor States.” Texas has no state income tax or personal capital gains tax and a small 1 percent gross receipts tax on business. In contrast, California’s 10.3 percent personal income tax is the second highest in the country, and the Golden’s State’s top marginal rates for corporate income and capital gains are 8.84 and 10.55 percent, respectively.

Green-energy plant sucks up subsidies, then goes bust
Government’s hand in the economy. ~Bob. Excerpt: To turn wood chips into ethanol fuel, George W. Bush's Department of Energy in February 2007 announced a $76 million grant to Range Fuels for a cutting-edge refinery. A few months later, the refinery opened in the piney woods of Treutlen County, Ga., as the taxpayers of Georgia piled on another $6 million. In 2008, the ethanol plant was the first beneficiary of the Biorefinery Assistance Program, pocketing a loan for $80 million guaranteed by the U.S. taxpayers. Last month, the refinery closed down, having failed to squeeze even a drop of ethanol out of its pine chips. The Soperton, Ga., ethanol plant is another blemish on ethanol's already tarnished image, but more broadly, it is cautionary tale about the elusive nature of "green jobs" and the folly of the government's efforts at "investing" -- as President Obama puts it -- in new technologies. Late in the Bush administration, corn-based ethanol started to get a bad rap. Corn for ethanol was crowding out other crops, and food prices were soaring. Mexicans rioted as tortilla prices spiked. So Bush started talking up "advanced biofuels" including "cellulosic ethanol": roughly, ethanol distilled from plants that were not also food products. Bush mentioned wood chips and switchgrass in two consecutive State of the Union addresses.
Riding the Wave of Change in the Mideast
Excerpt: The world stands today in shock watching the quick unfolding of events in Egypt that coincide with uprisings and riots in other neighboring countries where people are trying to imitate the successful popular revolt of Tunisia that brought down the Western-backed regime there. A lot of analysis and reports have been written about the "winds of change" sweeping the Middle East region. However, there are few observations that have not yet been fully highlighted that deserve some attention. First, the fever of succession from father to son that swept through "Arab republics" since the U.S.-backed handover of power in Syrian presidency from the late Hafez Assad to his son Bashar in 2000 has finally come to an end. The image of U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright shaking the hand of Bashar Assad and referring to him as "Mr. President" just two days before he was officially elected by the Syrian parliament in a well-orchestrated transition has prompted other Arab leaders to seek the same treatment from Washington. For the past decade, leaderships in several countries like Egypt, Yemen and Libya have been openly grooming the sons of the current presidents who have been in power for more than two decades, to succeed their respective fathers. The concern by the presidents of these countries to secure the succession to their siblings has been at the expense of national interests and affected the status of their countries. Egypt, a once major power-center in the Middle East, saw its influence dwindle as leadership there was too busy with issue of succession. Second, the notion of presidency for life in these "Arab republics" is no longer acceptable by the masses.

Liberty, Not the Brotherhood - What We Should Want for Egypt
Excerpt: There had been other signs that things would turn ugly. In the hours before the speech, state-run Nile-TV peddled conspiracy theories suggesting that the demonstrations had been somehow directed by foreignersthe West, the Americans and, of course, the Jews. Nonetheless, the anchor downplayed the antigovernment protests as small and insignificant and insisted that the demonstrators were not representative of the country. He hopefully informed viewers that there were massive pro-Mubarak rallies in the streetsgatherings that somehow managed to escape the attention of the hundreds of independent journalists in Cairo. The anchor suggested that these pro-regime counterprotests would overwhelm the dwindling antigovernment agitators remaining on the streets. At the time, the broadcasts seemed to reflect the paranoid delusions of a regime losing its tenuous grip on power. In retrospect, they look like a plan. The crackdown came quickly. Pro-Mubarak elements gathered overnight to challenge the antigovernment groups. Snipers perched above Tahrir Square began to fire on the demonstrators. At precisely 2:15 p.m. February 2, pro-regime forces switched from chants to attacks. Mubarak loyalists, some riding horses and camels, simultaneously charged the square from each of its exits, whipping and beating anyone in reach. The unlucky ones lost their mount and were beaten, their government IDs taken by the antigovernment protesters and shown to journalists. Egyptian police began to systematically round up journalists and human rights activists. Government vehicles were turned into weapons. In one horrifying scene, a truck from the Interior Ministry accelerated into a crowd of anti-government protesters, leaving several bloodied, broken bodies in its wake. In another, a fire engine ran down a protester, crushing him.

Stand for Freedom
Excerpt: So, whatever our differences in historical interpretation or foreign policy tactics, we agree with our skeptical comrade [Charles Krauthammer] that the United States must support the Egyptian awakening, and has a paramount moral and strategic interest in real democracy in Egypt and freedom for the Egyptian people. The question is how the U.S. government can do its best to help the awakening turn out well. In his column, Krauthammer refers to the French, Russian, and Iranian revolutions. They all turned out badly. But before 1789 was 1776. After 1917, there was 1989. And after 1979, there was also 2009, when the Obama administration shamefully and foolishly did nothing to help topple the most dangerous regime in the Middle East. Furthermore, in the last quarter century, there have been transitions from allied dictatorships to allied democracies in Chile, South Korea, the Philippines, and Indonesia, to name only a few. The United States has played a role in helping those transitions turn out (reasonably) well. America needn’t be passive or fretful or defensive. We can help foster one outcome over another. As Krauthammer puts it, “Elections will be held. The primary U.S. objective is to guide a transition period that gives secular democrats a chance.”

Recent unrest in Arab world is not about (Israel)
Excerpt: For the tens of thousands of protesters who took to Egypt’s streets over the weekend, defying the curfew and calling for the departure of President Hosni Mubarak, Israel and the Palestinians were simply not on the agenda. And the same was the case during the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia earlier this month, and in the demonstrations intermittently taking place in Jordan, Yemen, Algeria and Morocco. No cries of death to Israel, no signs to “lift the siege” of Gaza, no chants against housing projects in Ariel. And to all those who would answer this by asking what kind of egotistical people would think that everything is about them, that they are the center of all regional developments, just consider what everyone from US President Barack Obama, to US Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and to French President Nicolas Sarkozy have been saying for years: that the Israeli-Palestinian issue is the main source of foment and ferment in the Middle East…. It’s clear that the tidal wave of popular anger against the Arab world’s “moderate” regimes would be washing over those regimes regardless of an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. Why? Because Middle East instability is not about us – it is about them. It is about Arab unemployment, and Arab poverty, and Arab despair of a better future.

US calling in the Marines? (Egypt)
Excerpt: Are the United States Marines heading for Egypt? That's what this report claims.
But what's most interesting about it is not that the Marines are heading to Egypt, but that they may be doing a lot more there than helping to evacuate American citizens. This senior Marine told our source that the Pentagon will deploy "multiple platoons" to Egypt over the next few days and that the official reason will be ‘to assist in the evacuation of US citizens." And the 'unofficial reason'? Hmmm. (The blogger must not be a vet. They never know the difference between a platoon, company, battalion, regiment and division. And don’t confuse them with a MEU, MEB or MEF. Multiple Platoons would be perhaps a company. Not a lot of force to take on the Egyptian Army—even for Marines. ~Bob.)

Useful Stooge El Baradei No Longer Useful...
Excerpt: This is an excellent article which highlights the daft West, namely the Obama administration, in its role in paving the way for the Muslim Brotherhood’s new found ‘respectability’ in its entrance as the main front runner in Egypt’s ”new democracy”. Giving the Muslim Brotherhood the legitimacy that they seek is the worst blunder Obama could have made, and now -seeing that Obama has restated his decision to ‘respect’ any elected government that the people of Egypt choose- they no longer need their front man, the opportunistic, Mohamed Elbaradei, since the Muslim Brotherhood is being so openly courted by the West. Judith A. Klinghoffer fills in the blanks for us. KGS

Excerpt: As events have developed in the Middle East in the past two weeks we have watched a transition in the public pronouncements of nearly every entity on the planet. The only person to hold ground, to some degree has been the Egyptian President Mubarak. Although he announced that he would not seek office again in September, he was quick to temper his statement by saying he never intended to run again. Whether he has been good for Egypt or bad is a question for Egyptians. Whether he has been an asset to the United States and our foreign policy in that region of the world is another issue entirely. The state of our credibility balances on two issues; one, our apparent resolve and two, the outcome of the upheaval we are witnessing in Egypt. In a part of the world that scrutinizes it's enemies for weaknesses to exploit, how we will be perceived by the winning side will determine whether or not we will be able to influence anyone in the Islamic community, peacefully, in the future. The White House has been reactive throughout the entire process and, arguably because there isn't a single end game scenario that plays out well for us. On the one hand we have handled Mubarak as a friend for decades and any indication of distancing ourselves from him 'in his hour of need' will not play well with other Islamic nations with whom we have a 'working' relationship. If we back him, it will send a message to the Egyptian population that we are abandoning them in favor of a 'leader' they accuse of abuses and apathy. Considering whether the latter could push the voting population there closer to a Theocratic government is a waste of time; a Theocracy is the likely outcome in any case.

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