Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Political Digest for March 2, 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.

Book recommendation: A Patriot’s History of the United States by Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen
I found this book when looking for a one-volume US history to recommend as part of my “Reading List for the Educated Voter.”
At 830 pages, this book takes a time investment, but is well worth it, if you haven’t reviewed US History since college. Or never. It’s a good book to buy for you high school and college students—if you can get them to read it! I have a Masters in History and read history for pleasure, so I picked up many small details I consider to be errors in fact, which hopefully will be corrected in future editions. But they didn’t impact the broad conclusions. The authors are academic historians, and do not gloss over the bad patches, such as slavery and the treatment of the indigenous population (what we used to call “Indians” before PC took hold.) On the other hand, the book was free of the Marxist cant and genuflections to leftist chimeras so prevalent on campus today. They do an excellent job of achieving balance, for example, criticizing FDR for depression-extending economic policies while praising his wartime leadership and diplomacy. Certainly the last chapter on the Bush presidency and the War on Terror will be disputed by the left, but it brings balance to the narrative they push in a sycophantic media. The book is well written and clear, not difficult to understand, which is a benefit. You can read the mixed reviews on Amazon for more details—you’ll be able to discern the world views of the writers!

Is Democracy Viable? by Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: Those who see hope in the Middle East uprisings seem to assume that they will lead in the direction of freedom or democracy. There is already talk about the "liberation" of Egypt, even though the biggest change there has been that a one-man dictatorship has been replaced by a military dictatorship that has suspended the constitution. Perhaps the military dictatorship will be temporary, as its leaders say, but we have heard that song before. What we have also heard, too many times before, is the assumption that getting rid of an undemocratic government means that it will be replaced by a freer and better government. History says otherwise. After Russia's czars were replaced by the Communists, the government executed more people in a day than the czars had executed in half a century. It was much the same story in Cuba, when the Batista regime was replaced by Castro and in Iran when the Shah was replaced by the Ayatollahs. It is not inevitable that bad regimes are replaced by worse regimes. But it has happened too often for us to blithely assume that overthrowing a dictator means a movement toward freedom and democracy.

Rioters Throw Flares at Seattle Officers
Not to worry. As the fiscal collapse advances, there won’t be police to respond. I hope these folks can defend themselves against Mexican drug gangs with more than spray paint and flares. In ten years they’ll be begging for more police, who won’t be available. ~Bob. Excerpt: Demonstrators clad in black threw flares and a large firework at police during a melee that began where an officer shot to death a homeless woodcarver last summer, authorities said Sunday. An officer transporting a prisoner first noticed the gathering Saturday night and reported that the group discharged a fire extinguisher at his patrol car as he drove by. Other officers responded and found that the group had painted anti-police obscenities on the street and a nearby building. The group also placed makeshift tire-flattening spikes in an intersection, the police department said in a news release. Many wore black, covered their faces with bandanas and carried signs advocating violence against police. The havoc began near the intersection where Native American woodcarver John T. Williams was shot and killed last August, just a few seconds after Officer Ian Birk ordered him to drop his small knife. The shooting has been ruled unjustified, but prosecutors recently announced they would not file criminal charges. Birk has resigned from the department. Last week, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn announced that he was declaring Sunday John T. Williams Day. Williams had had dozens of run-ins with police and threatened to kill officers just a week before he was shot.

Obama's 'risky move' in Florida
Excerpt: U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson has already dealt the Obama administration a staggering blow on health reform, and this week the administration may get another one from the fiery Florida judge. The Justice Department asked Vinson to clarify his ruling that struck down the law as unconstitutional. Justice must file its brief on the motion by Monday, and Vinson has said he would rule quickly after that. At issue is whether Vinson meant to stop reform implementation in the 26 states that brought the suit. The smart money says Vinson will halt implementation, and legal observers are wondering why Justice would take that risk. “Having lost one game of chicken when it came to the severability of the mandate, the government is now challenging the same judge to back down on whether his decision is binding. Seems like a risky move,” said Randy Barnett, a law professor at Georgetown University.

Congress Takes Up Major Change in Patent Law
Excerpt: The patent system hasn't changed much since 1952 when Sony was coming out with its first pocket-size transistor radio, and bar codes and Mr. Potato Head were among the inventions patented. Now, after years of trying, Congress may be about to do something about that. The Senate is taking up the Patent Reform Act, which would significantly overhaul a 1952 law and, supporters say, bring the patent system in line with 21st century technology of biogenetics and artificial intelligence. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, hails it as "an important step toward maintaining our global competitive edge." Congress has been trying for well over a decade to rewrite patent law, only to be thwarted by the many interested parties -- multinational corporations and small-scale inventors, pharmaceuticals and Silicon Valley companies -- pulling in different directions. Prospects for passing a bill now, however, are promising. The Senate bill is sponsored by Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Hatch and another top Republican on the panel, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa. The committee voted 15-0 in early February to send the legislation to the full Senate.

I think this is the guy who wrote the excellent but widely misunderstood book, Looking out for Number One. ~Bob. Excerpt: With the angry uprising of pampered teachers in Wisconsin, the long-awaited Marxist revolution in the U.S. may finally be underway. It’s been clear for decades that a forced ending to America’s experiment with soft socialism would almost certainly trigger such a revolution. Soft socialism was destined to fail from the outset, because it is the nature of life that a little bit of something bad tends to expand into a lot of something bad. That reality, however, has for decades been masked by the progressive’s best friend — gradualism. The average American had no idea that he was slowly being boiled alive, because soft socialism made it possible for him to buy a house he couldn’t afford, go on vacations he couldn’t afford, and fill his life with hi-tech toys he couldn’t afford. This comfy lifestyle made him oblivious to the realities of life.

Wisconsin Gov. Walker pushes back against Obama criticism
The Post left it out of this story, but TV news this morning said Walker pointed out that Walker said if his proposal passes, Wisconsin employees will still have MORE collective bargaining rights than federal employees. Nice to know Obama has fixed all federal problems, can spend his time advising the states. ~Bob. Excerpt: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker criticized President Obama on Monday after the president made a reference in a speech to public employees being "denigrated or vilified or their rights are infringed upon." "I'm sure the President knows that we have repeatedly praised the more than 300,000 government workers who come to work every day in Wisconsin," Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie said in a statement. "I'm sure that President Obama simply misunderstands the issues in Wisconsin, and isn't acting like the union bosses in saying one thing and doing another."

With government shutdown looming, freshmen are the wild cards
You mean they meant what they said in their campaigns, and aren’t going to trade votes for spending to buy reelection? Washington is stunned! ~Bob. Excerpt: In just two months, a freshman class of Republicans has found a way to run the House. These 87 new members - who otherwise might have become foot soldiers for party bosses, or jittery pawns of their home-town tea party groups - have instead coalesced into a bloc with its own ideas and a headstrong sense of its muscle. As Republicans and Democrats try to cut a short-term budget deal this week - and a more permanent one in coming weeks - the freshmen are the wild card. They have the power to derail the whole process. Again. But even their own leaders don't know if they will.

Dems agonize over spending bill; GOP fills message vacuum
Excerpt: Congressional Democrats on Monday struggled to find a unified voice on funding the government as Republicans filled the message vacuum. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) criticized a Republican spending bill that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) appeared to embrace late last week. The split in the Democratic Party was seen as a blow to the conventional wisdom that a government shutdown would be averted this week. Many political observers still anticipate that a two-week spending bill will clear the House and Senate by this weekend, though there will likely be some bumps along the way. House Republicans introduced their stopgap measure on Friday, and in a move that surprised some Democrats, Reid’s office indicated support for it. (Everyone agrees. The budget needs to be cut, by reducing spending that’s important to someone else. ~Bob.)

Now: U.S., Europe tighten noose around Libya's government
Excerpt: The United States and its European allies tightened their noose around Libya's besieged government Monday, positioning military assets for possible action in the Mediterranean as they launched humanitarian efforts to assist refugees and rebel forces that have seized the eastern part of the country. Britain and the European Union announced new sanctions against Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi, his family and his government. The U.S. Treasury announced that it has frozen $30 billion worth of Libyan assets in this country under an executive order President Obama issued Friday, the most ever blocked under such a program. On the ground, rebels and forces loyal to Gaddafi appeared at least temporarily to be at a standoff, with neither side taking more territory. Gaddafi's air force bombed weapons depots, apparently to prevent the rebels from gaining access to them.

Then: US launches air strikes on Libya
Excerpt: At least 100 people have died after USA planes bombed targets in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, and the Benghazi region. Around 66 American jets, some of them flying from British bases launched an attack at around 0100hrs on Monday. The White House spokesman, Larry Speakes, has said that the strike was directed at key military sites but reports suggest that missiles also hit Bin Ashur, a densely populated suburb in the capital…. President Reagan made a TV address to the American people two hours after the attack. In it he said : "When our citizens are attacked or abused anywhere in the world on the direct orders of hostile regimes, we will respond so long as I'm in this office." (This was 1986, back when the left loved Gaddifi: “Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, acting for Libyan citizens who had been killed or injured in the bombing raid by the U.S. using British air bases, brought suit under international law against the United States and the United Kingdom in U.S. federal court….. On the first anniversary of the bombing, April 1987, European and North American left-wing activists gathered to commemorate the anniversary. After a days of social and cultural networking with local Libyans, including a tour of Gaddafi's bombed house, the group gathered with other Libyans for a commemoration event. Early on April 15, 2006 – to mark the 20th anniversary of the bombing raid – a concert involving U.S. singer Lionel Richie and Spanish tenor José Carreras was held in front of Gaddafi's bombed house in Tripoli. Diplomats, businessmen and politicians were among the audience of what Libya dubbed the "concert for peace".)

Now (maybe): US UK, French forces land in Libya: India sending 3 warships in support, Gadhafi vows to ‘triumph over enemy’
Excerpt: The United States, Britain and France have sent several hundred “defence advisors” to train and support the anti-Gadhafi forces in oil-rich Eastern Libya where “rebels armed groups” have apparently taken over. According to an exclusive report confirmed by a Libyan diplomat in the region “the three Western states have landed their “special forces troops in Cyrinacia and are now setting up their bases and training centres” to reinforce the rebel forces who are resisting pro-Qaddafi forces in several adjoining areas. A Libyan official who requested not to be identified said that the U.S. and British military gurus were sent on February 23 and 24 night through American and French warships and small naval boats off Libyan ports of Benghazi and Tobruk. The Western forces are reportedly preparing to set-up training bases for local militias set-up by the rebel forces for an effective control of the oil-rich region and counter any push by pro- Qaddafi forces from Tripoli. Other reports claim that efforts to “neutralize” the Libyan Air Force were also underway to limit Qaddafi’s rule in Tripoli if not fully uprooted from the country. Meanwhile, three Indian Navy warships, are also being dispatched to be deployed in the rebel-held areas of Libya.

When It Comes to Elective Surgery, Location Matters
Excerpt: For Medicare patients with conditions for which surgery is an option, whether they undergo elective surgery depends largely on where they live and the clinicians they see, according to a new report from the Dartmouth Atlas Project and the Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making. Researchers found remarkably wide regional variations in elective surgery for Medicare patients even though they had similar conditions. Researchers found that men over 65 with early-stage prostate cancer who live in San Luis Obispo, Calif., are 12 times more likely to have surgery to remove their prostate than those in Albany, Ga. Medicare patients with heart disease in Elyria, Ohio, were 10 times more likely to have a procedure such as angioplasty or stents than those in Honolulu. And women over 65 living in Victoria, Texas were seven times more likely to undergo mastectomy for early-stage breast cancer than women in Muncie, Ind. “These striking variations are the by-product of a doctor-centric medical delivery system. In highlighting the variation from community to community for elective procedures, we hope to shine a light on the fact that patients’ preferences are not always taken into account when medical decisions are made,” said Shannon Brownlee, M.S., lead report author and instructor at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice.

Corporate Tax Rate Is Major Barrier to Economic Growth
Excerpt: The U.S. effective corporate tax rate on new investment was 34.6 percent in 2010, which was the highest rate in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the fifth-highest rate among 83 countries. "Effective" tax rates take into account statutory rates plus tax-base items that affect taxes paid on new investment, such as depreciation deductions, inventory allowances and interest deductions. The average OECD rate was 18.6 percent and the average rate for 83 countries was 17.7 percent, according to a new report from the Cato Institute by Duanjie Chen and Jack Mintz of the University of Calgary, School of Public Policy. A growing number of policymakers are recognizing that the U.S. corporate tax system is a major barrier to economic growth. The aim of corporate tax reforms should be to create a system that has a competitive rate and is neutral between different business activities. A sharp reduction to the federal corporate rate of 10 percentage points or more combined with tax base reforms would help generate higher growth and ultimately more jobs and income. Such reforms would likely lose the government little, if any, revenue over the long run. State governments also play an important role in business tax policy. Unfortunately, the average state corporate tax rate has not been cut in at least three decades, despite major reductions around the world since then. Furthermore, state retail sales taxes impose substantial burdens on capital purchases, which undermine investment and productivity. Thus, sales taxes should be reformed to remove taxation on business inputs. The National Center for policy Analysis has a free newsletter of summaries of interesting stories you can subscribe to at ~Bob.)

Excerpt: Last week Fox Business News reported, and an IBM spokesman confirmed, that Sam Palmisano, CEO of IBM, told Barack Obama that IBM had carefully studied the Medicare fraud issue and estimated the actual 10 year problem to be closer to $900B – that’s billion with a B — over ten years. Mr. Palmisano believes so strongly in both IBM’s numbers and IBM’s potential solution that he offered to “build” the solution for “free”. Fox reported that Barack Obama turned down this offer.  Can you imagine, an American CEO of an American corporation offers a solution that could, potentially, save 90% of the projected health care reform deficit and the President of the United States turned down the offer? I was astounded – so astounded that I knew I needed to verify the story before I gave full vent to my frustration. So I Googled “IBM Medicare fraud”.  Turns out that it’s true! IBM confirmed it. There is no mystery here. Health care is a great business opportunity for IBM. IBM Health Care Practice works with partners every day in both the United States and Europe to improve the use of technology to simultaneously reduce the cost of delivering health care and improve health care outcomes. It is important to examine my Palmisano’s language carefully.  He offered to “build” the solution for free to “prove” it worked. He never said, IBM didn’t want to be paid if it worked. He was willing to “share the risk”.  That has been a standard practice in business for years! Time that we adopted these money saving practices in the government as well. 

Excerpt: Saudi Arabia has sent dozens of tanks to Bahrain, where anti-government protests continue for about two weeks, Egypt's Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper said on Tuesday. Eyewitnesses reported seeing "15 tank carriers carrying two tanks each heading towards Bahrain" along the 25-km King Fahd causeway, which links the small island nation of Bahrain to Saudi Arabia. Protestors are mainly Shiites account for about 70% of the Bahraini population, but have long complained of discrimination and other abuses by the Sunni Khalifa dynasty that has ruled the tiny Gulf nation for more than two centuries.

Governor gives Wisconsin Democrats an ultimatum
Excerpt: Republican Gov. Scott Walker on Monday gave absent Democratic lawmakers an ultimatum to return to Wisconsin within 24 hours and vote on a proposal to reduce the power of public sector unions or the state would miss out on a debt restructuring. Walker stepped up the pressure on 14 Senate Democrats who fled the state to avoid a vote on the bill as he prepared to unveil on Tuesday a two-year state budget that he said cuts $1 billion from funding to local governments and schools. What began as one small state trying to rewrite the rules of labor relations has blown up into what could be the biggest confrontation with American labor unions since then President Ronald Reagan fired striking air traffic controllers in 1981.

Praise for Romney ... at the W.H.
I fear Romney has competence, but no strong convictions. ~Bob. Excerpt: President Obama on Monday once again brought up Mitt Romney's role in expanding health care in Massachusetts, in what has become a recurring political nightmare for the former governor who is seen as a likely Republican candidate for president. Speaking to governors of both parties, Obama said Romney actually had a decent idea about addressing the country’s health care system. “I know that many of you have asked for flexibility for your states under this law,” Obama said at the White House. “In fact, I agree with Mitt Romney, who recently said he’s proud of what he accomplished on health care in Massachusetts and supports giving states the power to determine their own health care solutions.”

Government Waste By the Numbers: Report Identifies Dozens of Overlapping Programs
You see waste. They see essential government programs helping people. ~Bob. Excerpt: The federal government hosts 47 job-training programs, 44 of which overlap. It runs 80 programs for the "transportation disadvantaged." Another 82 programs spread across 10 separate agencies endeavor to improve teacher quality -- something hundreds of local school districts are already focused on. These are just a few of the findings in a blockbuster report on government waste and inefficiencies released by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office. The report, a summary of which was obtained by Fox News, identifies billions of dollars in potential savings if Congress just had the will to streamline initiatives that target politically popular causes. (Not only jackasses but incompetent ones, at that. Ron P.)

Pension rollbacks won’t do much to balance budget
Excerpt: Talk of rolling back public employee pensions appears to be gaining momentum in Sacramento. Some lawmakers increasingly link budget negotiations to pension reform, and an independent state commission last week called for dramatic changes in the way California compensates its retired employees. But anyone who hopes that reducing pension benefits will help balance next year’s budget, or any budget in the near future, might be disappointed. California is facing a $25.4 billion budget deficit right now, yet changes to the public employee pension system generally take years or even decades to produce significant savings. “There are a lot of urban legends about the impact of pensions on the budget shortfall,” said Jean Ross, director of the California Budget Project, a nonpartisan think tank that focuses on issues affecting low-income Californians. “Any changes would be minimal over the next several years.”

PJ Tatler Exclusive: Was the U.S. a victim of an economic 9/11 in 2008?
Excerpt: Bill Gertz has an article running in this morning’s Washington Times, “Financial terrorism suspected in ’08 economic crash,” on a report prepared by the Department of Defense in June 2009. In the report, financial analyst Kevin Freeman argues that the 2008 economic crisis was assisted by outside forces. What the study (which we are providing a copy of exclusively here at PJ Tatler at the conclusion of this post) investigates is how outside forces could have helped things along by manipulating oil prices, naked short selling of U.S. financial firms (e.g. Bear Stearns), and attacking the U.S. dollar. (It seems unlikely to me that any outside economic power could have “done this to us,” but it is extremely likely that outside economic powers did their best to profit by our troubles, and if that made our problem worse, too bad for us. The housing bubble started collapsing in 2007, after 5 years of experts telling us the collapse was coming. Although the original story appeared in the Washington Times (linked in the excerpt), I linked it here because of the access to a copy of the original DoD report. Ron P. Bush warned us Fannie and Freddie were unsound. The Democrats said he was wrong and those GSEs would never cost taxpayers a nickel. ~Bob.)

Mass. company making diesel with sun, water, CO2
Excerpt: Joule Unlimited has invented a genetically-engineered organism that it says simply secretes diesel fuel or ethanol wherever it finds sunlight, water and carbon dioxide. The Cambridge, Mass.-based company says it can manipulate the organism to produce the renewable fuels on demand at unprecedented rates, and can do it in facilities large and small at costs comparable to the cheapest fossil fuels. What can it mean? No less than "energy independence," Joule's web site tells the world, even if the world's not quite convinced. "We make some lofty claims, all of which we believe, all which we've validated, all of which we've shown to investors," said Joule chief executive Bill Sims. "If we're half right, this revolutionizes the world's largest industry, which is the oil and gas industry," he said. "And if we're right, there's no reason why this technology can't change the world." The doing, though, isn't quite done, and there's skepticism Joule can live up to its promises. (This is starting to look real, though it still seems both pie-in-the-sky and years away to me. Maybe I’m just a natural skeptic. This was first mentioned in TOJ on 24 Jan 2011, “A brave new world of fossil fuels on demand.” Ron P. It reminds me of the old bad News-Good News Joke. Bad news is we’ve been invaded by aliens from space. Good news is they eat Democrats and wiz gasoline. ~Bob.)

Obama Offers Flexibility to Implement Single Payer Faster
Excerpt: Obamacare remains tremendously unpopular with the American people. According to the latest Kaiser Family Foundation poll, only 14 percent of Americans believe they have benefited from the law, compared to 17 percent who say the law has already harmed them. Only 28 percent of Americans believe Obamacare will help the nation’s economy, compared to 45 percent who believe it will make it worse. Overall, 48 percent of Americans oppose Obamacare while only 43 percent favor it. Some provisions, like the individual mandate, are particularly unpopular, with a full 67 percent of Americans favoring its repeal. President Barack Obama knows all of this, which is why he told the visiting National Governors Association at the White House yesterday that he supports changing the date that states can begin applying for waivers from some Obamacare mandates from 2017 up to 2014.

Never Fight a Land War in Asia
Excerpt: U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, speaking at West Point, said last week that “Any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should have his head examined.” In saying this, Gates was repeating a dictum laid down by Douglas MacArthur after the Korean War, who urged the United States to avoid land wars in Asia. Given that the United States has fought four major land wars in Asia since World War II — Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq — none of which had ideal outcomes, it is useful to ask three questions: First, why is fighting a land war in Asia a bad idea? Second, why does the United States seem compelled to fight these wars? And third, what is the alternative that protects U.S. interests in Asia without large-scale military land wars? Let’s begin with the first question, the answer to which is rooted in demographics and space. The population of Iraq is currently about 32 million. Afghanistan has a population of less than 30 million. The U.S. military, all told, consists of about 1.5 million active-duty personnel (plus 980,000 in the reserves), of whom more than 550,000 belong to the Army and about 200,000 are part of the Marine Corps. Given this, it is important to note that the United States strains to deploy about 200,000 troops at any one time in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that many of these troops are in support rather than combat roles. The same was true in Vietnam, where the United States was challenged to field a maximum of about 550,000 troops (in a country much more populous than Iraq or Afghanistan) despite conscription and a larger standing army. Indeed, the same problem existed in World War II.

In boost for GOP plan, Fed chief says cuts won't derail recovery
Excerpt: Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says a plan from House Republicans to cut $61 billion in spending this year would not harm economic growth. The GOP's proposed spending cuts, passed as part of a continuing resolution, would probably reduce "growth on the margins" and lower gross domestic product by only one- or two-tenths of a percent, Bernanke told the Senate Banking and Urban Affairs Committee.

Our World: The West’s proxy war against the Jews
Excerpt: It was a stunning moment of moral clarity. As the South Vietnamese refugees clambered onto rickety boats in the South China Sea to escape the victorious Communists, the American Left that orchestrated the US defeat through a sustained campaign of propaganda and fake calls for peace stood silent. As Pol Pot, the “progressive” dictator tortured and murdered a third of his people in Cambodia, the leftists “peace” activists in the US and Europe who never saw a US military operation that was justified, turned a blind eye. The silence of the likes of Susan Sontag, Jane Fonda, Noam Chomsky and their fellow travelers came to mind last week when the Western media and intellectual elites averted their gaze as Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, the long exiled spiritual guide of the Muslim Brotherhood spoke before a crowd of millions at Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Qaradawi, who had been living in exile in Qatar during Hosni Mubarak’s reign, became an international jihadist superstar thanks to Qatar’s unelected potentate Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani who gave him his jihad indoctrination show on Al Jazeera. From his internationally televised soapbox, Qaradawi regularly preaches international jihad and genocide of Jewry to millions of fans worldwide. Two important things happened during Qaradawi’s appearance in Cairo. First, his handlers refused to allow Google’s Egyptian Internet revolutionary Wael Ghonim to join the cleric on the dais. For anyone willing to notice, Qaradawi’s message in spurning Ghonim was indisputable. As far as the jihadists are concerned, Ghonim and his fellow Internet activists are the present day equivalent of Lenin’s useful idiots.

That “Civil Discourse Institute” they created in Arizona has its work cut out. ~Bob. Excerpt: The Washington Post’s leftwing mouthpiece, Greg Sargent, who they ostensibly pay to be an objective reporter is on twitter demanding that unions in Wisconsin get violent to get their way. In what we can presume is unrelated to Greg Sargent’s call, a Fox News reporter was attacked by union thugs in Wisconsin. Once I pointed out on Twitter that Sargent was calling for unions to get violent in Wisconsin, Sargent declared he was not promoting violence despite actually writing on twitter: Dear union thugs: Will you please get violent in Wisconsin already? Pretty please?

Guns, cartels and escaping Mexico
This particular gun shop was the victim of a smash and grab raid last month that the owner believes was a drug-cartel-inspired crime. Two men, who completely ignored the fake patrol car parked outside to deter such an attack, threw a huge rock through the front window and within seconds made off with all the Glocks and assault rifles they could carry. They’re still a little jumpy in Pruett’s store. A group of dark skinned workmen wearing baggy sweatshirts and pants wanders in, speaking in muffled Spanish. They’re immediately yelled at to get their hands out of their pockets. Jim Pruett, a feisty Vietnam veteran, pats the sub machine gun he’s now licensed to carry. He has some flare rounds in the magazine he tells me, if the thieves ever return he won’t just shoot them; he plans to set them on fire too. The flow of US guns stolen or bought for the cartels and slipped across the border into Mexico (hotly disputed by the National Rifle Association) is matched by a stream of drugs and people coming the other way. In San Juan I meet a round-faced Mexican woman with dyed blond hair. She smiles nervously as she tells me how she came to America.

King caves again: Walid Phares not testifying at his hearings on Muslim "radicalization" after complaints from Hamas-linked CAIR
Excerpt: Hamas-linked CAIR complained, and King caved the next day. No doubt it was just a coincidence, eh? Sure. And back on January 24, CAIR's "American Muslim News Briefs" mailing contained an item, "King Hearing Witness: 'We Are At War With Islam,'" linking to a piece entitled "Ayaan Hirsi Ali should not testify before Rep. Peter King," by Josh Rosenau at Science Blogs. That time, it took a couple of weeks for King to throw Hirsi Ali, a noble and courageous freedom fighter, under the bus, but by February 7 she was gone. This time, Phares was gone in a day. And for what? Hamas-linked CAIR's press release claims that "Mr. Phares is a 'former official with the Lebanese Forces, a Christian militia.' This militia was implicated, by Israel's official Kahan inquiry and other sources, in the 1982 massacre of civilian men, women and children at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon." his is the guilt-by-association game that the Left and its Islamic supremacist allies love to play.

Erdogan Urges Turks Not to Assimilate: 'You Are Part of Germany, But Also Part of Our Great Turkey'
Excerpt: Some 3 million people of Turkish origin live in Germany, most of them descendants of Turks invited by the government in the 1950s and 1960s as " guest workers" to make up for a shortage of manpower after World War II. Muslim immigrants have been the focus of a heated public debate in Germany over the last year, with conservative commentators and politicians accusing them of failing to integrate into German society. Many immigrants in turn complain that they are still being called "foreigners" even if they were born in Germany, have German citizenship and speak the language perfectly.

Attack kills four in central Nigeria: military
Didn’t get the memo. ~Bob. Excerpt: Locals said five people -- a mother and four children -- were shot and killed, blaming Fulani Muslims for the attack.

Taliban destroy five govt schools in Pak tribal region for imparting "unIslamic teachings"
Didn’t get he memo. ~Bob. Excerpt: The Taliban blew up five government school buildings in Pakistan's lawless tribal region near the northwestern city of Peshawar for promoting unIslamic teachings.

Obama to face Shariah court? Cleric says president 'must embrace Islam' or be tried when Muslims take over U.S.
No surprise. If you are born to a Muslim father, as Obama was, you are a Muslim under Shari’a law. And the penalty for apostates—those who leave Islam-is death. ~Bob. Excerpt: President Obama must embrace Islam as a way of life or face the consequences of a trial under the Shariah Islamic court system, declared British extremist cleric Anjem Choudary. Choudary, founder and former chief of two Islamic groups disbanded by the British authorities under anti-terror legislation, is planning a Washington protest later this week in which he says he will call on American Muslims to revolt against the country and implement Shariah law.

What Would America's Founders Think About Fleeing Legislators?
Excerpt: In September 1787, the Constitution was submitted to the states for ratification. The Pennsylvania Assembly met to pass legislation creating a convention that would decide if the state should sign on to the newly reconceived United States. But something was missing: a quorum. Several anti-Federalist lawmakers, determined to defeat the new Constitution, refused to show up for work, paralyzing the assembly. The Federalists were displeased. The anti-Federalist flight, they said, was “the conduct of an unmanly minority.” And so an intrepid mob went down to Major Boyd’s Tavern, ferreted out two recalcitrant legislators, and dragged them to the statehouse. A quorum restored, lawmakers passed their resolutions as the mob rained “the most insulting language” down upon the erstwhile absconders. The Wisconsin and Indiana state legislators now holed up in Illinois are not the first to skip town and deny their political adversaries a quorum to do business. (Idle curiosity questions: What would happen if the State of Wisconsin (through its Governor or Attorney General) made an official request to the State of Illinois to apprehend and return its wandering senators? Could Illinois refuse to do so? How would they justify their decision? Ron P. Sorry. Here in Illinois, we are too busy catching and incarcerating our own politicians. ~Bob.)

The World's 10 Weirdest Laws Not to Break
Excerpt: In Alabama, it is unlawful to wear a false mustache in church and cause "unseemly laughter." The state also keeps a law against driving while blindfolded on the books, just in case you are in a hurry to get to church and do not want to be sidelined by even the possibility of seeing someone with a false mustache and risk breaking into a gale of chortles. In Phoenix, Arizona, the law states that every man who enters the city limits must wear pants. Maybe this was aimed at Scottish bagpipe players, but the law has ensured the city stays clean of men in skirts from wherever they hail.

Rebuilding Mosques, Your Tax Dollars at Work
Under the heading of "You can't make this stuff up" comes the news that our tax dollars are rebuilding mosques in various parts of the world, as a gesture of goodwill towards Islam. Of course, the radical imams laugh themselves silly and proclaim this only shows the weakness of craven infidels, but hey, the hotshots in the State Dept all went to high class colleges, have lots of degrees, get paid big bucks, so they MUST know what they're doing. Check the short video to see what our geniuses have been doing with our money. Riiight....!!!--Del

Obama Says States Can Opt Out of Health Care Plan Three Years Early
Excerpt: In a nod to pressure from state governors, President Obama announced a plan on Monday to allow states to opt out of some aspects of the nation's health care reform law three years earlier than previously mandated. As currently written, the law says states must wait until 2017; the new bill would allow them to begin pursuing alternate plans as early as 2014. As governors across the country have waged battles to trim large deficits -- most publicly of late in Wisconsin -- the move was seen as a concession to those leaders who have criticized the new health care law and questioned its economic implications. Twenty-six governors have filed lawsuits against the federal government, claiming the law is unconstitutional. (This may be the best deal we'll get before 2012. The only problem is state administrations change and this would leave open the possibility of re-opting IN at some future time. Better--but perhaps not possible--would be to repeal the whole thing. On the positive side, the administration must be feeling a lot of pressure to go even this far; true lefties will hate it and scream for blood. Ron P.)

The picture that fooled the world
Interesting piece on “journalists” manipulating the news. ~Bob.

Obama's jetset fitness trainer helps shed pounds, adds to global warming
I don’t care if he comes every day, if I’m not paying for it. We desperately need Global warming in Chicago. ~Bob. Excerpt: With a schedule as hectic as President Obama's it must be hard to stick to a training regimen without help -- but why does he insist on having his old trainer fly out from Chicago to D.C. regularly when Obama and his wife exhort the rest of us to drive less? And in a recession? According to Ashley Parker at the New York Times, Obama's fitness czar Cornell McClellan comes out to D.C. every week:

Here's what happens when government directs private investment
Excerpt: In Spain, large, unsustainable subsidies for "green" power caused Spanish investors to pour billions into large solar farms. Even on a small scale, ordinary Spaniards mortgaged their homes to buy solar panels, so that they could sell their electricity into the grid at artificially high government-backed prices. Now that the subsidies' unsustainability has been exposed, the Spanish government has pulled the plug, causing a massive asset bubble to burst. The British are acting now to avoid a similar fate, nipping their wasteful renewable energy programs in the bud: “Cornwall, the poorest county in England, said five months ago it expected a “gold rush” of $1.6 billion in solar energy investments. Now, the U.K. government may get in the way. The central government said this month it’s considering cutting incentives and reducing the size of projects, concerned that the above-market rates it promised through April 2012 may lead to too many solar farms.” This is an excellent example of how government central planning misdirects private investment and creates asset bubbles. We saw this here with the huge homeownership push and indirect subsidies of the late 1990s and 2000s. It is something to bear in mind whenever you hear President Obama talk about government "investments" in what he pretends to know are the "jobs of the 21st Century."

Examiner Editorial: No reason now for GOP to fear a government shutdown
If Democrats don’t want the government shut down, it’s easy. The Senate can pass and the President sign the budget which originated in the House, as the Constitution—remember that?—requires. ~Bob. Excerpt: House Republicans know the American people want to cut federal spending. President Obama and congressional Democrats want the opposite, to keep doing what they've been doing for the past two years. If there is no budget deal by the end of this week, Washington's nonessential functions will shut down, at least temporarily. Democrats have been warning for weeks that a shutdown will end Western civilization, cause Wall Street to collapse and see millions of grandpas and grandmas heartlessly tossed to the curb. Obama himself put it as starkly as possible recently by claiming that in a shutdown, "people don't get their Social Security checks. They don't get their veterans payments." Obama knew better when he spoke those words. As the Associated Press recently reported, the Social Security Administration would continue mailing benefit checks and processing new applications, and the Veterans Administration would continue making its payments. Most federal bureaucrats would remain (as would the military) on the job, and even those who don't work will be paid, likely with little if any delay. The government's debt payments wouldn't be missed, either. The most noticeable inconveniences for taxpayers would be the temporary closure of national museums and parks, and a longer wait for passport applications and tax refunds.

Roads to the Capitol: Six new members of Congress on their personal journeys: Rep. Allen West (Fla.-22)
Excerpt: All I wanted to grow up to be was a soldier. That's all I thought about. My dad was a soldier, my older brother was a Marine, my mother worked for Marines, and so I couldn't wait until the days that I could step into line just the same as they had done. It's just who we are, who we were raised to be. For a young, black teenager growing up in the inner city, those influences got you on the right path as far as discipline, as far as commitment to your country. I did 22 years' service in the Army. And I'm here continuing service to the country, just in a different uniform. I know everyone is kind of perplexed about, you know, a black Republican congressman from South Florida who's a very strong conservative. But I think when you look at the basis of a conservative ideology -- individual responsibility, accountability, faith, good education and national security -- that's how I was raised.

VFW Post Head Quits as War Record Probed
Excerpt: The commander of the Lakeport, Calif., Veterans of Foreign Wars post has resigned under a cloud of suspicion that he is not the war hero he claims to be. Robert L. Deppe, 57, also was arrested earlier this month on suspicion of stealing money from a family member and replacing the $100 bills he took with phony money, according to the Lake County Sheriff's Office. Deppe resigned in February two days after the VFW post asked him to authorize it to request his military records, said Kirk Macdonald, adjutant of VFW Post 2015. He'd been the commander three years…. "We cannot find any record of him being in the military," said Page, who was an infantryman during the war and now lives in Louisiana. (Probably still getting PTSD money from the VA, though. ~Bob.)

Dodd to be Hollywood's top man in Washington
But will it get him sweetheart mortgages? ~Bob. Excerpt: Former Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) has been named chairman and chief executive of the Motion Picture Association of America. Dodd will start his new job on St. Patrick's Day — March 17. The Connecticut Democrat, who retired from the Senate in January after three decades, succeeds former Chairman Dan Glickman, who left last year. Bob Pisano has served as interim chief of the film industry's top lobbying group since.

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