Thursday, April 21, 2011

Political Digest for April 21, 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.

Limited Posts over the next few days.
The granddaughter is in town and we will be tied up with her through Easter. Priorities!

The 2012 GOP Nomination
It’s very early, so this is not an endorsement, but here’s my thinking as of now. Keep in mind there is no perfect candidate, as my health won’t permit me to run, despite a groundswell of support from three or four blog readers. And remember that Reagan wasn’t “Reagan” until after he won.

I think we need a new face. Right now, my preferences, in order, are: Mitch Daniels, Tim Pawlenty, Jon Huntsman, Mike Pence, Herman Cain, Haley Barbour (who has foot-in-mouth disease), David Petraeus and Michele Bachmann. There are doubtless some I’ve missed who belong on this list.

I don’t think anyone in the top tier is likely to do it, but of those four, my picks in order would be: Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin and last Mitt Romney (who I think is competent, but doesn’t have strong principles). All have too much baggage to win, IMHO.

There are also people in the lower tier I think would be a disaster: Rick Santorum (whom I recall as very arrogant when I was living in PA) and, especially, Donald Trump (who contributed $24k to corrupt Democrat Charlie Rangel and $116k to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. I can’t get by that. I’d have trouble voting for him and might vote for a third-party candidate if he’s the nominee.)

There are some rising GOP stars who I think are not ready for prime time: Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Alan West and Scott Walker. Any one of them would make better presidents than the incumbent or many of the folks on the above lists, if we could get him elected.

Feel free to post comments with your thoughts. It’s still early and my thinking has not gelled on the issue, so I’m not behind any candidate.

Do you think there will be a profiling discrimination suit soon if a clerk asks a young black or Hispanic person for an ID to buy alcohol or tobacco?

The Permanent Campaign
The House Majority Political Action Committee, a leftist PAC, is reportedly already going up with ads attacking Republican House members. The “permanent campaign” for president has been with us for awhile. Now we have the permanent campaign for Congress. How do you govern when you have to spend all your time running and raising campaign funds? ~Bob

U.S. Gov't Agency Plans $2.84 Billion Loan for Oil Refinery—In Colombia
Excerpt: The U.S. Export-Import Bank, an independent agency of the federal government, is now planning a $2.84-billion loan for a massive project to expand and upgrade an oil refinery--in Cartagena, Colombia. The money would go to Reficar, a wholly owned subsidiary of Ecopetrol, the Colombian national oil company. “This is part of a $5.18 billion refinery and upgrade project in Cartagena, Colombia supplying petroleum products to the domestic and export markets,” the Export-Import Bank said in a statement. (Well, we can’t do anything here about energy—it contributes to Global Warming. ~Bob.)

Is This the Future of the Tea Party?
Excerpt: But I’m far more interested in the speech by 14-year-old Tricia Willoughby that I saw on Ann Althouse’s blog. It’s not so much the content of the speech that is striking—Willoughby’s quotes from the Founding Fathers on debt and limited government are vaguely reminiscent of a high-school history lesson, and her calls not to saddle future generations with debt, while more powerful coming from one who would be saddled, is Tea Party boilerplate. What’s impressive is her strong voice, her confidence, and, let’s face it, her youth. The Tea Party is often seen as being made up entirely of cranky middle-aged people who don’t like paying taxes. But here is a smart, engaging young woman speaking with the poise of someone older. (And no, she doesn’t come by her poise accidentally. A quick Google search reveals that her parents are pro-life activists in Madison and that Tricia is in a debate club. Cynics will point out that—gasp!—she is homeschooled, as if that ought to discredit her.)

Heritage nukes Krugman
Excerpt: Over the past two weeks, you have relentlessly engaged in dishonest, deceptive and factually incorrect critiques of Heritage’s recent analysis of the Ryan budget plan, and they need to be addressed. With all of the work good people of every political stripe need to be doing in Washington today, the last thing we all have time for is correcting your typically contrived commentary. But when The New York Times gives you such a platform to spread distortions, they necessitate a response.

Poll shows Americans oppose entitlement cuts to deal with debt problem
As long as folks have the mindset that they can get benefits and force someone else to pay for them, we will continue towards a collapse. They have no idea that “taxing the rich” hurts them by pulling money from the economy, or that there aren’t enough “rich” to plug the spending gap. ~Bob. Excerpt: Despite growing concerns about the country’s long-term fiscal problems and an intensifying debate in Washington about how to deal with them, Americans strongly oppose some of the major remedies under consideration, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Worth reading: U.S. is losing a savvy leader in Afghan war efforts
This is what is wrong with our government and military. The troops get a salesman instead of a fighter. ~Bob. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the former top commander in Afghanistan, calls him the “best combat leader I have ever known.” But Rodriguez will not be leading the war in Afghanistan anytime soon. This summer he will be returning home to the United States to take over U.S. Army Forces Command, a four-star job in the Army’s vast stateside bureaucracy. The decision to bypass Rodriguez for the top job reflects a determination among senior Pentagon officials that the war needs a commander who can make the case for the increasingly unpopular conflict to Congress, the news media and skeptics in the White House. In Washington, Rodriguez is seen as a savvy fighter but a so-so salesman.

Big U.S. Firms Shift Hiring Abroad
Gee, you don’t think having the highest corporate tax rate in the world, and Obama threatening to make it higher, has anything to do with jobs going overseas, do you? Nah, that would be too logical. ~Bob. Excerpt: U.S. multinational corporations, the big brand-name companies that employ a fifth of all American workers, have been hiring abroad while cutting back at home, sharpening the debate over globalization's effect on the U.S. economy. The companies cut their work forces in the U.S. by 2.9 million during the 2000s while increasing employment overseas by 2.4 million, new data from the U.S. Commerce Department show. That's a big switch from the 1990s, when they added jobs everywhere: 4.4 million in the U.S. and 2.7 million abroad. In all, U.S. multinationals employed 21.1 million people at home in 2009 and 10.3 million elsewhere, including increasing numbers of higher-skilled foreign workers.

Weak Dollar Policy and Inflation
Excerpt: The Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben S. Bernanke has embraced a weak dollar policy. And he is not alone. The idea even has a certain appeal to the common man on the street. After all, a cheap dollar is advertised as an export stimulant and the fuel for an economic boom. But, the common man is often wrong, and so is Chairman Bernanke, says Steve H. Hanke, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. Commodity prices are booming, but Chairman Bernanke and his colleagues at the Fed focus on the consumer price index, absent food and energy. By doing so, they exclude those items that are experiencing price surges and continue to play down the inflation threat. If the Fed is in denial about the inflation threat, it's blind to the possibility that the weak dollar is causing energy and food prices to surge. Oil and most other food and industrial commodities are invoiced in dollars. Accordingly, when the dollar goes "down" the price of primary commodities tend to automatically go "up," and vice versa. The course of the U.S. dollar-euro exchange rate and the price of crude oil since January 2011 tells the story: Since January, the dollar has lost value against the euro and the price of oil has increased. For each 1 percent decline in the dollar against the euro, there was on average a 0.5 percent increase in the price of oil. The biggest single contributor to oil price increases in recent months is not located in Libya, but at the headquarters of the Federal Reserve in Washington, D.C. Thanks to the Fed's weak dollar policy, the U.S. faces an inflation problem and so does the rest of the world. The weak dollar and the lack of "flexibility" -- broadly understood as code for advocating floating exchange rate regimes -- also threaten the free flow of capital and the stability of the international monetary system. It's time for the Fed to start focusing on the value and stability of the U.S. dollar, says Hanke.

Worth Reading: Grasping budget's billions and trillions
Excerpt: So the spending machine rolls on. The debate may be heated; government shutdowns may be threatened; but the spending persists. Year after year. The spending continues for another important reason, according to what's known in economics as public choice theory. Most government programs directly benefit distinct groups such as farmers, road engineers, senior citizens, or defense contractors. For these groups, the stakes can be huge, amounting to tens or even hundreds of billions of dollars a year, giving them powerful incentives to fight for that money. But individual taxpayers won't usually fight for a few dollars, which is what they've been told the typical government program costs them. … For example, consider a hypothetical Philadelphia area resident who is 37 years old (the median age in the metropolitan region in 2009), has a college degree, and earns $45,565 annually (the area's average per-capita income that year). According to our calculations, based on current tax rates and a projected life span of 80 years, that person will pay more than $420,000 in taxes to finance federal government spending over the rest of his or her lifetime. If invested over the next 43 years, that money could be worth much more than $1 million. Of our hypothetical worker's $420,000 in taxes, $58,658 will pay interest on the federal debt. Administrative costs and personnel benefits will cost him or her $22,972. He or she will pay $53,146 to finance national defense; $52,238 for Medicaid; $32,746 for welfare; $84,272 for Medicare; and $85,637 for Social Security.

Quotes from the Patriot Post
"A Constitution is not the act of a Government, but of a people constituting a government, and a government without a constitution is a power without right." --Thomas Paine

"[E]ven confiscating all the income of the rich cannot sufficiently fund the reduction in deficits. Nor can slight-of-hand waste, fraud and abuse savings in the entitlements cover the gap. Ultimately, the Democrats either will not in fact deal with the deficit or they will have to do so by very highly taxing the middle class (either way, they want to keep spending, but they will try to hide those alternative realities). ... Politics is about to get much uglier -- but possibly more productive." --columnist Tony Blankley

"One must bear in mind that the expansion of federal activity is a form of eating for politicians." --American author and commentator William F. Buckley (1925-2008)

Worth reading: Academic Rot by Walter E. Williams
Excerpt: The average American, as parent, student and taxpayer, has little idea of the academic rot at so many of our colleges. Save for a tiny handful of the nation's colleges, what distinguishes one college from another is the magnitude of that rot. … An English professor at Montclair State University in New Jersey tells his students, "Conservatism champions racism, exploitation and imperialist war." University officials are aware of this kind of academic rot, but not university trustees who bear the ultimate responsibility for the university's welfare. Trustees are mostly yes-men for the president. Legislators and charitable foundations that pour billions into colleges are unaware as well. Most tragically, parents who cough up thousands in tuition to send their youngsters off to be educated, rather than indoctrinated, are unaware of the academic rot as well.

Poker Bars: Why Should Anyone Go to Prison for Helping People Play Cards?
Excerpt: Preet Bharara seems to be haunted by the fear that someone, somewhere, may be playing poker. Last year, Bharara, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, threatened an Australian payment processor with up to 75 years in prison for helping online poker companies do business with their U.S. customers. Last Friday, he announced similar charges against 11 people associated with the three leading poker sites serving American players. If you type in the Web address for PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker or Absolute Poker, you will see a notice that the domain name has been seized by the FBI. The notice cites some impressive-sounding crimes, but the statutory language cannot conceal the legal weakness and moral triviality of Bharara's charges.

Worth Reading: The Nature of Arab Unrest
Excerpt: Across the Middle East, millions are rebelling against their poverty and lack of freedom, blaming their corrupt leaders, who have ransacked their countries’ treasuries and natural wealth. The objects of vituperation, then, are particular individual autocrats. Few in fits of introspection blame endemic cultural practices such as tribalism, gender apartheid, and religious intolerance as equally responsible for the general misery. A Mubarak, Qaddafi, Ben Ali, King Abdullah, or Assad is thus not a natural expression of a society’s collective values and customs, but supposedly an aberration, and one forced upon Middle Easterners by an array of often sinister foreign interests. … In such a mess, the challenge for America should have been to prod pro-American authoritarians to reform (but not to abdicate), to support staunchly our very few democratic friends, to oppose publicly anti-American totalitarians, and wherever possible to stay out of intervening militarily, given that no resistance group as of yet has proved democratic, or indeed has even published much of a liberal reform manifesto. Instead, the Obama administration has done exactly the opposite in every case.

Excerpt: I think everyone felt some grim, sad irony in watching Qaddafi’s tiny forces hold off a British-French NATO intervention, revealing the once-vaunted rebels to be mostly a Potemkin force — all as the U.S. outsourced its historic leadership role after less than two weeks. But that schadenfreude should have passed long ago, and at some point the U.S. is going to have to decide whether NATO is still a viable organization and worth saving, now that it is on the verge of being utterly humiliated in Libya. It was always a predominately U.S.-led alliance, but our engagement kept up appearances and seemed at times to provide the Europeans a measure of unity. No longer: The U.S. is detached, the European NATO members are bickering and squabbling, and no one in Washington can explain to them the mission in Libya, the methodology to achieve it, the ultimate results desired, or the extent of NATO commitment in the postwar aftermath. Meanwhile, NATO member Turkey is an open supporter of Hamas and hostile to most of what NATO is for.

It's All Coming Apart
Excerpt: Despite Government propaganda and manipulated statistics to the contrary, our economy continues to deteriorate. For every "green shoot" highlighted by the Government and its lackey media, multiple contra-examples are cited by independent analysts.

Time to take the revolution to Tehran
Excerpt: Yesterday's reports that Tehran in tends to reestablish diplomatic relations with Cairo after 20 years of chill are adding to neighbors' fears that the mullahs will emerge victorious from this season of regional discontent. It should also propel Iran to the top of our Mideast to-do list. By now, Tehran's attempt to widen its zone of influence throughout the Mideast and beyond has alarmed the neighboring Arab countries to such a degree that they're seriously engaged in proxy wars against Iran across the region -- with very little support from us. Egypt's new foreign minister, Nabil Elaraby, declared recently that post-Mubarak Egypt has "opened a new page" in its relations with the mullahs. And yesterday, Iran's state-owned Press TV reported that Tehran will soon send an ambassador to Cairo. (Iran's foreign ministry later denied the report, which went as far as naming the new ambassador.)

America’s Cultural Future is in the Streets of Paris, America’s Political Future is the United Nations
Excerpt: We’ve seen where we’re heading today in this country and it’s the Parisian streets, with Muslims transforming prayer into an act of political intimidation and a politically correct government refusing to enforce the law against a favored minority group. But this kind of thuggery has a political expression too and with the election of Barack Obama we’re starting to see its creep into our own political system. Look at the recent history of the United Nations and you’ll see an Islamist infiltration akin to the occupation of Paris’ streets. (If Christians were blocking streets to pray, how would the authorities respond? ~Bob.)

Castro Resigns Party Post to Run for President of the United States–Primary Challenge Obama from his Right
This is very funny satire. I think—it’s hard to know anymore. ~Bob.

White House faith adviser: Bin Laden a 'revolutionary'
Well, Che was murdering scum, so really true. ~Bob. Excerpt: Dalia Mogahed, a member of President Obama's faith advisory council, once declared Osama bin Laden is like "any revolutionary," while comparing the al-Qaida chieftain to the liberal icon Ernesto "Che" Guevara. Mogahed further argued bin Laden is not primarily motivated by religion but by "perceptions of imperialism and oppression and humiliation." Along with her role on the White House Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Mogahed is on the advisory council of the Department of Homeland Security. She testified before the Senate on engagement with the Muslim community.

Uganda: Christian pastor petitions Parliament to remove Islamic Sharia laws from Constitution
Excerpt: Because they establish Muslims as a special, privileged class in society. Meanwhile, in Nashville, Muslims are claiming victim status over a proposed anti-Sharia law. The supporters of this law should bring in Pastor Umaru Mulinde to testify about what Sharia actually does to a society.

Excerpt: The prime-time show features contestants in sharp-looking black suits who are judged on a variety of tasks including reciting Koranic verses, washing corpses, slaughtering sheep according to Muslim rules and counselling promiscuous young Muslim couples.

Islamic honor killing in Kentucky: Muslim slits throats of his three children, rapes his wife and hits her with a hammer
Excerpt: Because he suspected her of infidelity. This happened in 2006, but is just coming to trial now for some reason. Of course, this story makes no mention of Islam. Said Biyard is just a "Somali man." And generally whenever an honor killing takes place in North America or Europe, the mainstream media tells us that honor killing is a cultural practice that has nothing to do with Islam -- despite several facts indicating the contrary. It is no accident or coincidence that Muslims commit 91 percent of honor killings worldwide. A manual of Islamic law certified as a reliable guide to Sunni orthodoxy by Al-Azhar University, the most respected authority in Sunni Islam, says that "retaliation is obligatory against anyone who kills a human being purely intentionally and without right." However, "not subject to retaliation" is "a father or mother (or their fathers or mothers) for killing their offspring, or offspring's offspring." ('Umdat al-Salik o1.1-2). In other words, someone who kills his child incurs no legal penalty under Islamic law. (Now, now, recall the leftist mantra: “All cultures are equally valid.” ~Bob.)

Obama’s middle class message (and why it’s smart)
Excerpt: President Obama has focused his re-election message squarely on the middle class of late, a strategy that should pay dividends according to new numbers in the Washington Post/ABC-News poll. A majority of those tested — 51 percent — said they trust Obama to do a better job protecting the middle class, while just 39 percent chose Republicans. Obama’s advantage on that question is relatively unchanged in Post/ABC polling dating back to late last year — a trend line that suggests some level of stability in the numbers.

All the president's funny money
Investment opportunity—they are looking for a really large t=rug and a big broom in Washington. ~Bob. Excerpt: Ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching. President Obama's perpetual campaign cash-o-matic machine kicks into high gear again this week as the celebrity-in-chief heads to Hollywood for several high-priced fundraisers. But while the Democrats' 2012 re-election team stuffs its hands into every liberal deep pocket in sight, questions about the Obama 2008 campaign finance operation still fester. Last week, the laggard watchdogs at the Federal Election Commission announced an audit of the Obama 2008 campaign committee -- which raised a record-setting $750 million. White House flacks are downplaying the probe as a "routine review." But there's nothing routine about the nearly $3 million Obama has spent on legal expenses to address federal campaign finance irregularities and inquiries. Roll Call reports that Obama's campaign legal fees have exceeded all other House and presidential campaign committees, including members of Congress under ethics investigations. (I predict this will go about as far as the search for a birth certificate; nowhere, in other words. Ron P.)

Mr. Obama: Taxing the rich won't increase revenues
Obama’s not trying to come up with more revenue. He’s trying to come up with votes. Class warfare and creating envy of those who do better is a proven vote-getter among the majority who are ignorant of economics. ~Bob. Excerpt: Did Barack Obama take Tax 1 in law school? I did, and I remember the first day of classes, when mild-mannered professor Boris Bittker asked a simple question, "What is income?" I was pretty confident I could come up with a quick answer and so were a lot of other students. By the end of the hour, after professor Bittker had politely punched huge holes in every student's definition, it was pretty clear that none of us could. Income is a slippery concept, especially slippery when you're trying to tax it. Which leads me to think that Obama may have avoided Tax 1. Or perhaps he dozed off in class. For in his April 13 speech at George Washington University, the speech to which Standard & Poor's responded by reducing the government's credit rating to "negative," he seemed to think he could get all the money we need to balance the budget from higher taxes on the rich. That's wrong as a matter of simple arithmetic, as is clear from a chart reproduced on the Wall Street Journal editorial page showing the total amounts of taxable income of each group.

THE WAR | Near Execution | PBS
Lest we forget. ~Bob.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Probably Doomed
Excerpt: President Barack Obama revisited a key campaign promise when he hosted a White House meeting of elected officials and experts on immigration. But if a major overhaul of the nation's immigration policy is his goal, Republicans in Congress say he shouldn't hold his breath. They said any bill that even hints at amnesty or legalization for millions of illegal immigrants already living and working in the United States is dead before it ever makes an appearance in a congressional committee.

LEAKED: Obama Executive Order Intends to Implement Portions of DISCLOSE Act
Congress? We don’t need no stinkin’ Congress! ~Bob. Excerpt: An impeccable source has provided me with a copy of a draft Executive Order that the White House is apparently circulating for comments from several government agencies. Titled “Disclosure of Political Spending By Government Contractors,” it appears to be an attempt by the Obama administration to implement — by executive fiat — portions of the DISCLOSE Act. (…) As my source says: It really is amazing — they lost in the Supreme Court, they lost in Congress, they lost at the FEC, so now the president is just going to do it by edict.

Iran: ‘U.S. Power Grid Prime Target for Cyber Attack’
Excerpt: On April 16, the head of Iranian cyberwarfare within Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, Gholam Reza Jalali, officially blamed the U.S. and Israel for Stuxnet — a mysterious computer worm that has harmed Iran’s nuclear program. The Guard’s officials have repeatedly warned of retaliation: both for the assassinations of the Iranian nuclear scientists inside Iran, which they called acts of espionage, and for Stuxnet. Reports from Iran indicate that during a recent meeting among Iran’s Revolutionary Guard commanders and Iranian scientists, America’s vulnerabilities for a cyber attack were discussed. They concluded that the U.S. power grids represent the best opportunity for such attacks, as more U.S. utilities are moving their control systems to the Internet and using smart-grid technology. (Is anyone willing to bet on whether or not we’d treat this as the “act of war” that it would be? Ron P.)

Blame It on FDR, LBJ, W and Obama
Excerpt: Well, you could blame the Founding Fathers. After all, they are the ones who framed a Constitution that authorized the central government to maintain a national defense, conduct diplomacy, secure our borders and enforce the federal laws. Or you could blame the architects of the federal welfare state. These are the politicians who built the wealth-redistributing programs that are now breeding government dependency in America, pushing us deep into debt and driving us toward an economic catastrophe that may do permanent damage not only to our prosperity but to our liberty.

Excerpt: The administration’s claim to transparency is as credible as its promise to close Gitmo. A few weeks ago, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights transmitted its report on DOJ’s handling of the New Black Panther Party (“NBPP”) matter to the president and Congress. Among other things, the report detailed DOJ’s prodigious stonewalling of the commission’s investigation — DOJ’s refusal to release personnel to testify before the commission and DOJ’s withholding of reams of pertinent documents. The president wrote a letter in response (perhaps more accurately, a White House functionary wrote a letter to which the president affixed his signature), proclaiming the “historic progress” his administration has made in increasing transparency in government. The president’s formulaic response is completely disconnected from the facts surrounding DOJ’s conduct during the commission’s NBPP investigation.
Reconsidering the Brotherhood's Inevitability
Excerpt: He joined in the demonstrations in Cairo's Tahrir Square, enduring a beating from Hosni Mubarak's forces while trying to topple a dictator. Mahmoud Salem's hopes for Egypt's future have everything to do with pluralism and economic growth and nothing to do with empowering Islamists like the Muslim Brotherhood. During an appearance Thursday at American University in Washington, Salem explained why he's confident that conventional wisdom about the Brotherhood is wrong, and its ascendance to power after parliamentary elections this fall is far from certain. "I'm not afraid of the Brotherhood," says Salem, who writes under the Internet moniker "Sandmonkey," and has a popular blog, Rantings of a Sandmonkey. "They are a minority."

1 comment:

  1. I'm not enthused with any of the candidates but right now am leaning toward Daniels, if he decides to run. Don't know much about Jon Huntsman, Jr and don't remember his introduction of Sarah Palin at the convention. His resume looks pretty good, including his stint as Governor of Utah, and saw his father on Beck a while back. Father seems to be a great person.