Saturday, March 19, 2011

Political Digest for March 20, 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.

For those who want further information about the topics covered in this blog, I recommend the following sites. I will add to this as I find additional good sources.

Events will outdate some of these articles, but they may still be of interest. ~Bob.

The Libyan War of 2011
Excerpt: The Libyan war has now begun. It pits a coalition of European powers plus the United States, a handful of Arab states and rebels in Libya against the Libyan government. The long-term goal, unspoken but well understood, is regime change — displacing the government of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and replacing it with a new regime built around the rebels. The mission is clearer than the strategy, and that strategy can’t be figured out from the first moves. The strategy might be the imposition of a no-fly zone, the imposition of a no-fly zone and attacks against Libya’s command-and-control centers, or these two plus direct ground attacks on Gadhafi’s forces. These could also be combined with an invasion and occupation of Libya. The question, therefore, is not the mission but the strategy to be pursued. How far is the coalition, or at least some of its members, prepared to go to effect regime change and manage the consequences following regime change? How many resources are they prepared to provide and how long are they prepared to fight? It should be remembered that in Iraq and Afghanistan the occupation became the heart of the war, and regime change was merely the opening act.

International coalition targets Libya’s defense systems
Excerpt: An international coalition launched its first strikes on Libya on Saturday to destroy the country’s air and missile defense systems and prevent attacks by the Libyan government against civilians, including those in the rebel-held city of Benghazi, a senior U.S. military official said. U.S. and British ships and submarines launched 112 Tomahawk cruise missiles at more than 20 targets around Tripoli and along the Libyan coastline, military officials said. The cruise missile barrage is designed to clear the way for aircraft from a coalition of nations to move into Libyan air space and prevent Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi from launching more attacks on besieged opposition forces.

Red Alert: Libyan Forces Approach Benghazi
Excerpt: Forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi began to approach the eastern rebel capital of Benghazi on March 19, with the BBC reporting that loyalist armor already is inside the city, though this may have been only a reconnaissance element. Soon after these reports, word of impending international military operations against Gadhafi’s forces began to emerge, with French and Italian aircraft reportedly beginning to conduct combat air patrols. Though Gadhafi declared a unilateral cease-fire in response to the U.N. Security Council’s (UNSC) authorization of the use of force against Libya on March 17, it is becoming apparent that this was simply a stalling tactic in an attempt to consolidate gains ahead of airstrikes. The military incentive for Gadhafi is to reach Benghazi before any airstrikes begin. If a “no-drive” zone between Ajdabiya and Benghazi were to come into effect, military vehicles and supply convoys would be vulnerable to any coalition aircraft orbiting overhead, making it far more difficult for Gadhafi to project force across the large open terrain that separates the two cities. Airpower can also make it difficult to move and resupply forces, so the heavier elements of Gadhafi’s forces — tanks, tracked vehicles and artillery — already operating at the end of extended lines of supply, may quickly face logistical issues. However, while airpower can attempt to prevent forces from approaching the city, it cannot force the withdrawal of those forces from within the city without risking significant civilian casualties. (A no-drive zone? And when a fast-mover rolling in hits a school bus by mistake, the world will condemn who? See below. ~Bob.)

Libya: Preemptive Collateral Damage
Excerpt: Enforcement of the no-fly zone hasn’t even begun (at least not that I’ve seen reported). But already, Amnesty International is warning “all parties,” not just Libyan, but “any other forces that may become involved in the conflict” — that would include you, all you French and British and American types — to “respect fully the laws of war.” This includes putting “the protection of civilians above any other considerations.” OK, sounds good. Sounds a lot like Obama himself, who said on Friday that there will be no use of force beyond the “well-defined goal” of “the protection of civilians in Libya.” I have no doubt that members of the U.S. military will strive to protect civilians, even if it puts their own lives and limbs at greater risk. In Iraq and Afghanistan, they have already been doing that for years. But in practice, “protection of civilians” is not always the most easily defined of goals — not in a war zone where non-uniformed fighters on both sides mingle among the population, and not in a country still permeated with security goons long accustomed to doing their dirty work in the shadows. (Under these rules--“the protection of civilians above any other considerations.”--we would have lost WWII. Could not have bombed Germany or invaded France. Hitler could have run his ovens until every Jew, Gay and "defective" was dead, and we couldn't do a thing, because we might hurt a civilian. ~Bob.)

Fighting Breaks Out in Benghazi
Great pic of the jet going down. Looks like the pilot got out--but I wonder what happened to him on the ground! ~Bob. Excerpt: Shooting erupted in central Benghazi Saturday morning, and rebel gunmen said they were fighting an advance by Col. Moammar Gadhafi's forces into the heart of the rebel capital from the university on the southern approaches. Grad missiles pounded the city and a fighter jet went down in flames in central Benghazi, sending up thick plumes of smoke. Rebels mounted makeshift street barricades, but the advance of Col. Gadhafi's forces sent many of them fleeing. A reporter witnesses heavy exchanges of gunfire just one kilometer away from the city's Ouzo hotel.

Worth Reading: Mark Steyn: Obama Now Offers No Hope Of Change
Excerpt: The Audacity of Golf may yet prove a potent message. Many Americans seem disinclined to heed warnings, especially of stuff that Harry Reid assures us is a long way off. Change we can believe in? Thanks but no thanks. We'll wait till it happens. In New Orleans, they waited till the hurricane hit, and then the cops walked off the job, and the fleet of evacuation buses lay empty and abandoned, and enterprising locals fired on army engineers repairing the 17th Street Canal, and less-ambitious types went a-lootin', and, when the feds showed up to hand out emergency debit cards, they spent them at strip joints, and of the refugees who fled to Texas, 45 percent turned out to have criminal records, and the Houston homicide rate went up 23 percent. So imagine if last week's earthquake and tsunami had hit Louisiana. Japan is a dying nation, literally. They're the oldest people on Earth, and their shrunken pool of young 'uns are childless. They're already in net population decline: The nation that invented the Walkman would have been better off inventing the walker. Today their only world-beating innovations are in post-human robotechnology – humanoid nurses with big-eyed Manga faces doing the jobs that humans won't do. Japan is doomed. And yet, watching the exemplary response to catastrophe this week, you sense that their final days will at least be tranquil and orderly. From afar, we shrieked like ninnies, retreating to the usual tropes: No nukes! And more carbon offsets to appease the great Water Gods of the Tsunami! (Well, if the earthquake had hit New Orleans, they would have prevented the meltdown by looting the fuel rods, eliminating that problem. ~Bob.)

Boeing Beats the Trial Bar
Excerpt: Plaintiffs attorneys are fond of cases where the sky's the limit, but a recent misadventure against Boeing should clip their wings. Judge Suzanne Conlon of the federal district court in Chicago last week dismissed a securities class action against the company, calling the characters "worthy of a contemporary novel." And not in a good way. We'll call it the biggest plaintiff smackdown of the year. In last week's action, Judge Conlon reversed her earlier decision to let the case go forward and said the plaintiffs' claims about a key confidential source were an effort to evade court rules. The allegations were "at best unreliable and at worst fraudulent," she wrote, "whether it is (the source) or plaintiffs' investigators who are lying." The drama in City of Livonia v. Boeing started in 2009 when plaintiffs attorneys representing the town's employee retirement system sued Boeing for securities fraud related to the delivery schedule for its forthcoming 787 Dreamliner. According to the lawyers at Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd, the company hoodwinked investors by withholding information about plans to delay the plane's first flight, waiting to announce until after a well-known Paris air show to prevent order cancellations. As all trial lawyers know, the main hurdle for this kind of case is surviving the motion to dismiss. To move forward, plaintiffs must present some bare-bones evidence of fraud to the court. If their complaints can squeak by, the case moves into the discovery phase, allowing attorneys to rummage through millions of documents, imposing huge costs and inconvenience on companies that increase the incentive to settle.

Netanyahu in 1978
Excerpt: In a remarkable video from 1978, 28 year old MIT grad Benjamin Netanyahu debates whether there should be a Palestinian state created on the West Bank and Gaza. Netanyahu argues that such a state would have but one goal: to destroy the Jewish state of Israel. He reviews the history from 1948 to 1967, when Gaza was controlled by Egypt and the West Bank by Jordan and there were no calls to end the occupation, or for national sovereignty for the Palestinians. But one thing was similar in that period and today: terror attacks against Israeli Jews.  Netanyahu went by the name of Benjamin Nitay at the time. His brother, Yonatan was an Israeli commando who led the Entebbe raid on July 4, 1976 during which he died. Netanyahu chose to use the name Nitay at MIT, where he was one year behind me, in large part for security reasons due to his brother's notoriety and the spate of Palestinian terror attacks aimed at Israelis all over the world. One of Netanyahu's interrogators in the clip is Fouad Ajami, the well known political analyst. Netanyahu's strong defense of Israel rings as true today as it did in 1978. The clip is only ten minutes and is well worth watching.

Australia’s Christmas Island: Muslim savages rioting, setting fires
Excerpt: 250 – 300 MUSLIM asylum-seeking detainees (mostly from Iraq, Iran, Indonesia and Sri Lanka), enraged over delays in application processing, have gone on a rampage, setting fires to buildings and hurling rocks at police...

It's Christmas Time for Asylum-Seekers
Excerpt: Although Christmas Island is just south of Indonesia, and is only 300 miles away from Jakarta as the crow flies, it is actually part of Australia. In recent years the island has become the preferred destination for immigrants from South Asia and Africa who want to gain entry into Australia and take advantage of the country’s generous asylum laws. A favorite technique, particularly among Afghans, is to send an unaccompanied minor child on one of the boats to Christmas Island. The culture enrichers know that the law requires the expedited processing of underage refugees. Once the kid is in, he can contact the rest of his family, who will then be brought in under the “family reunification” rules. Everyone — Dad, Mum 1, Mum 2, eleventy children, Grandma, Grandpa — can then expect to be fed and housed at the expense of the Australian taxpayer.

Allen West Takes On China, D.C. Bureaucrats
Excerpt: Laying out a "21st century battlefield" at home and abroad, U.S. Rep. Allen West warned Friday that America's economic and national security are under siege. Speaking to a full house of 600-plus at the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches, the retired Army lieutenant colonel said China's military and economic expansion pose a direct threat to the United States. Forecasting "an economic conflagration with China," the Boca Raton Republican noted that nearly 20 percent of America's $14.3 trillion debt is owned by Beijing.

America's Home Invaders
Excerpt: If someone broke into your home, would you treat him as an invited guest? Would you allow him to move in his family? Would you pay for their food, medical care, and education? That's what we've been doing with illegal aliens in America. But that's not how other nations deal with illegal aliens. In England, they face a $16,000 fine. In Italy, it's $14,000 and up to six months of detention. In France, it's $5,000 or up to a year of imprisonment or both. Beyond Europe, the penalties can be even more severe. In Singapore, a jail term up to six months is accompanied by a cane whipping. In China, it's death if the offender is charged with spying. The message is clear: Stay out unless invited.

Wisconsin After the Union Takeover
Excerpt: "Are you wearing a bulletproof vest?" Click. Michael Hintze's phone line went dead -- the caller never identified himself. A prominent Wisconsin Tea Party leader, Hintze is the latest recipient of anonymous death threats. Maybe you thought it was finally over in Wisconsin. Walker overcame the liberal blitzkrieg, elected Republicans decided that there's no moderate stance between bankruptcy and prosperity, the bill was passed and signed, and the fourteen Democrats gave up their life on the run. But there's more. Though chapter one undeniably ended with a resounding victory for Walker, the next part may easily become a forgotten chapter among thousands in the left's annals of Alinsky-style combat. (Funny the threats come from the left while "Homeland Security" is worrying about vets and the Tea Party. ~Bob.)

The Sharia Catechism
The critical view. ~Bob. Excerpt: Likewise, honest readers of the Qur'an and other authoritative Muslim texts can draw certain conclusions, which all the evasions and obfuscations of pseudo-moderate Muslims (remember Eurocommunism? Anyone? It was all the rage in respectable liberal circles while I was in college in the 80s.) cannot obscure. Let me lay out my own no-nonsense take on the question, in a form I'll call the Riyadh Catechism: What does Islam teach? Islam teaches that it is the final revelation from God, and the only legitimate world religion. All other faiths, or secular world views, are either idol-worship, blasphemous parodies of Islam, or degenerate perversions of it.

Florida circuit court judge allows case to proceed under Islamic law
Will a woman's testimony only count for half a man's, as Shari'a requires? ~Bob. What was that Hamas-linked CAIR and other Islamic supremacist groups were saying about how it was utterly fanciful that Sharia would ever be used to judge cases in American courts?

Guess the location of this Mosque

(Union) Gangs of Wisconsin
Excerpt: Union leaders can dress it up and use innocuous-sounding phrases like “voluntary consumer activism,” but the bottom line is that Wisconsin’s unions are now resorting to thug-like behavior against political opponents, real or imagined. The state’s largest teachers union, Wisconsin Education Association Council, along with the Green Bay Education Association, Madison Teachers Inc. and a handful of other public employee unions are carrying their fight over collective bargaining to innocent business owners. News accounts reveal that the Fox Valley chapter of WEAC has e-mailed local businesses, asking them to show their support for collective bargaining privileges by putting a poster in their business’ window. The union’s e-mail suggests the posters will help members with “substantially less discretionary money to spend” know where to shop. This is a thinly-veiled threat from a bunch of thugs if there ever was one. First there were the Gangs of New York. Then there were the Gangs of Chicago. Now we see the Gangs of Wisconsin.

Socialist Thought Has Crippled Black America
Excerpt: Leading black conservatives lay blame for black America's rampant poverty and other ills squarely at the feet of the socialist orientation of black leaders such as Al Sharpton. They say the black intelligentsia’s rhetoric has created a defeatist and demoralizing climate that has robbed millions of black Americans of hope and has sentenced them to an impoverished existence. “One of the tenets of the socialist ideology is to create a welfare state, and that’s exactly what has happened in the black community,” says Florida Rep. Allen West, the only Republican member of the Congressional Black Caucus. “I like to say we have sort of a reverse plantation going on here where you have people like Sharpton and [Jesse] Jackson trying to make themselves into overseers.” Niger Innis, national spokesman for the Congress of Racial Equality, says Marxists have worked hard to exploit blacks for the past century and divide them from the rest of society.

Croatian Arrested in Kentucky on Bosnia Torture Charges
Excerpt: A woman who served in the Croatian army faces extradition from a small Kentucky town to face charges that she forced prisoners to drink human blood and gasoline during the bloody aftermath of the breakup of Yugoslavia. U.S. Marshals arrested 52-year-old Azra Basic on Tuesday in Stanton, about 45 miles east of Lexington, where she lives and works at a nearby food processing plant. She has lived in Kentucky for several years, but it's not clear how she wound up in the rural city best known for its annual corn festival. The Croatian-born Basic is wanted in Bosnia on charges of committing war crimes against ethnic Serb civilians in 1992, including acts of murder and torture, Assistant U.S. Attorney James Arehart wrote in a complaint requesting extradition. Arehart says Bosnian authorities accuse Basic, a one-time member of the Croatian Army, of killing at least one person and torturing others at three camps from April to June 1992, during Europe's bloodiest conflict since World War II. Witnesses said Basic forced one man to drink gasoline, another to drink human blood and carved crosses into the flesh of a third man. (Send her to deal with Gaddafi--she'd fit right in. ~Bob.)

ICE Director: We Don't Have Resources to Enforce Immigration Law

Obama Praises Brazilian Oil Industry While He Blocks Drilling Here at Home
Excerpt: He also praised the expanding Brazilian offshore oil industry. We’ll also work to strengthen our relationship when it comes to energy. Brazil holds recently discovered oil reserves that could be far larger than ours, and as we seek to increase secure-energy supplies, we look forward to developing a strategic energy partnership.

'Democracy and political Islam can’t coexist'
Excerpt: Zuhdi Jasser is a respected Arizona-based doctor of internal medicine and nuclear cardiology, formerly a lieutenant-commander in the US Navy and attending physician to the US Congress. As founder and president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, he is also one of the most controversial Muslims in the United States. Jasser, raised in Wisconsin by Syrian immigrant parents, describes himself as a devout Sunni Muslim, but his organization’s unyielding battle against political Islam has placed him in the crosshairs of groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Islamic Center of America, which he says have failed to adequately address the “insidious separatism” of political Islam.
IDF video of CMA-CGM arms shipment
Iran at work again. Ah, I mean to write, Iran STILL at work. Chet. (Chet Nagle is the author of the excellent thriller, The Iran Covenant. ~Bob.)

What's with all the death threats, libs?
Excerpt: Tweeted to James O'Keefe: "@JamesO'KeefeIII Someone needs to fucking find you and assassinate you. like, seriously. you get off by fucking up the truth. i should do it. mikeclark2" Excerpt: I’m going to assume this guy’s name is Mike Clark, and his Twitter bio says he’s in Memphis, TN. Sending somebody a death threat is dumb to begin with, but doing so via a Twitter account with your name and location on it? That takes a special brand of stupid. Ann Althouse just received a direct threat to her person as well. Like O’Keefe, Althouse has raised the ire of the left by videotaping them in action. Tell the truth and they call it lies. Make your point nonviolently and they threaten you. It’s like clockwork. And it doesn’t stop there. John Nolte at Big Government has put together a compilation of the last three weeks of left-wing threats and bullying in Wisconsin. It’s getting so bad that honest liberals (no, it’s not an oxymoron) like Lee Stranahan are fed up with the media ignoring these threats. “Don’t retreat, reload” is considered violent rhetoric if a conservative says it, but “I’m going to kill you” isn’t considered violent rhetoric if a liberal says it. I keep trying not to attribute to malice what can be explained by incompetence, but are all these big-brained reporters really that inept?

Fukushima nuclear accident: Saturday 19 March summary
Excerpt: Last Saturday the crisis level at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station was rapidly on the rise. Hydrogen explosions, cracks in the wetwell torus and fires in a shutdown unit’s building — it seemed the sequence of new problems would never end. A week later, the situation remains troubling, but, over the last few days, it has not got any worse. Indeed, one could make a reasonable argument that it’s actually got better. Yes, the IAEA has now formally listed the overall accident at an INES level 5 (see here for a description of the scales), up from the original estimate of 4. This is right and proper — but it doesn’t mean the situation has escalated further, as some have inferred. Here is a summary of the main site activities for today, followed by the latest JAIF and FEPC reports. (...) The IAEA and Japanese government has reported the potential contamination of food products from the local Fukushima area via radioactive iodine (mostly vented as part of the pressure relief operations of units 1 to 3). This is a short-term risk due to the 8-day half-life of radioactive iodine (and a small risk, given the trace amounts recorded), but precautions are warranted, as discussed here. What does this mean? “In the case of the milk samples, even if consumed for one year, the radiation dose would be equivalent to that a person would receive in a single CT scan. The levels found in the spinach were much lower, equivalent to one-fifth of a single CT scan.” … and to further put this in context: “The UK government’s chief independent scientific advisor has told the British Embassy in Tokyo that radiation fears from the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant are a “sideshow” compared with the general devastation caused by the massive earthquake and tsunami that struck on 11 March. Speaking from London in a teleconference on 15 March to the embassy, chief scientific officer John Beddington said that the only people likely to receive doses of radiation that could damage their health are the on-site workers at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. He said that the general population outside of the 20 kilometre evacuation zone should not be concerned about contamination.”

Buffett Tells Country, TARP Gave Over $1 Billion to Goldman Sachs
Excerpt: At a time when all the tough guys in Washington are making plans to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits for high-living seniors and to cut Head Start for low-income kids, it was generous of Warren Buffett to point out that we taxpayers gave over $1 billion to Goldman Sachs through TARP. Buffett probably didn't intend to point out this fact to the country, but it is an unavoidable implication of his $2 billion profit on his loans to Goldman. Buffett made his $5 billion loan to Goldman about a week before the Treasury lent $10 billion to Goldman through the TARP program. Buffet got 10 percent interest on his loans, while the Treasury got 5 percent on its loans. In addition, Buffett got a much more generous commitment of stock warrants, which is the basis of the $2 billion in profits that he is now set to pocket. The Treasury boasted of getting a $1.1 billion profit on its loans to Goldman, but as Mr. Buffet showed, this was far below the market rate of interest on loans to Goldman at the time. The difference between the return received by Buffett and the return received by the Treasury was in effect a gift from taxpayers to the top executives at Goldman and their shareholders. When Treasury Secretary Geithner and other officials claim that the government made money on the TARP loans it is either due to their ignorance of the workings of financial markets or a deliberate effort to deceive the public.

Excerpt: To hear Syrian TV tell it, since Tuesday Damascus has been the scene of "a few insignificant incidents" provoked by "a handful of misguided elements." Perhaps not so "insignificant." For days, inhabitants of the Syrian capital have seen truckloads of Special Forces brought in to protect official buildings and set up checkpoints at key roads. And more than just a "handful." Groups of students, families of political prisoners and human-rights activists have engaged in hit-and-run battles with the police in various parts of the city, trying to fan the fires of yet another Arab uprising against despotism. With Moammar Khadafy in Libya, the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria is the most vicious Arab despotism clinging to power. Syria's freedom uprising started Tuesday, when some 300 protesters gathered in front of the Interior Ministry to demand news of political prisoners.

Member of original 29 Code Talkers dies in Arizona
Excerpt :Lloyd Oliver wasn't much of a talker, but it was clear that he was proud to have his native language serve as a key weapon during World War II. As part of an elite group of Marines, he helped develop and implement a code based on the Navajo language that helped win the war. Years later, his hearing remained impaired because of gun blasts and other explosives during the war. He rarely brought up his time as a Code Talker, but his eyes gleamed when holding a picture of himself in his uniform. He kept a Marine cap and a U.S. flag displayed on his bedroom walls in the home he shared with his wife on the Yavapai Apache Reservation. Oliver's death Wednesday means that only one of the original 29 Navajo Code Talkers survives — Chester Nez of Albuquerque, N.M. The 88-year-old Oliver died at a hospice center in the Phoenix suburb of Avondale where he had been staying for about three weeks, his nephew, Lawrence, said Friday.

NYT Profile: Qadhi a Peaceful Radical
Excerpt: It doesn't set out to do so, but an exhaustive profile of an Islamic cleric in Sunday's New York Times magazine makes the depth and severity of radicalization among some young Muslim Americans very clear. Reporter Andrea Elliott devotes nearly 8,500 words to Yasir Qadhi, in the article "Why Yasir Qadhi Wants to Talk About Jihad." It casts a picture of a very conservative but generally peaceful Salafi Muslim. As such, he is cast as the ultra-conservative Muslim antidote to al-Qaida cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who is credited with inspiring everyone from Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan and would-be terrorists Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and Faisal Shahzad. But Qadhi, dean of academic affairs at the Houston-based AlMaghrib Institute, rarely is shown aggressively challenging the radical ideas the fuel violent jihad. If anything, he agrees with them, including a notion that the U.S. is at war with Muslims. That message is considered among the most forceful in radicalizing young Muslims into supporting violence.

Looking at Japan, As It Confronts Another Atomic Nightmare, With Awe and Wonder
Excerpt: The entire world can take a lesson from the dignity of Japanese people over the last six days. We look in wonder as an entire people conduct themselves with an awesome composure in the wake of incomprehensible devastation. There is no looting. There appears to be no price gouging – indeed, there are stories of vending machine operators opening up the contents of their machines and stores dropping their prices for their customers. We look at the recent past and we know the terrible lawlessness that took place in New Orleans and in Haiti. Thirty-four years ago, when New York City was hit by a blackout in the summer of 1977, store windows started breaking almost as soon as the lights went out. Instead of the police dealing with all of the problems and suffering of millions of people stuck in subways and on high floors without power, they had to, instead, focus their attention on masses of hoodlums. But not in Japan. Long lines of people waited for hours for the few items that were available without complaint. On any given day, here in New York City, people are exasperated waiting in line at the local drug store. Even the unbearable sadness of losing a child or a spouse or a parent appears to be bourn with a quietly composed dignity. There is a cultural divide here that is breathtaking. (Japan isn't exactly "multicultural." ~Bob.)

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