Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Political Digest for April 5, 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.

Must Read: Kingdom of Lies
Outstanding! This may be one of Hanson's best columns ever. Ron P. Excerpt: The media is our ministry of truth of the Oceania brand: one day Guantanamo, renditions, tribunals, preventive detention, Predators, the Patriot Act, and Iraq were bad; then one day in January 2009 I woke up and heard of them not all. I then recognized that they were now either good or at least necessary — or perhaps sinister IEDs of a sort left behind by the nefarious Emmanuel Goldstein administration, now too dangerous to even touch.

Libya: Former Guantánamo detainee is training rebels
Excerpt: A former detainee at Guantánamo Bay has taken a leading role in the military opposition to Col Muammar Gaddafi, it has emerged, alongside at least one other former Afghan Mujahideen fighter.

Ryan’s budget plan to slash deficits by over $4 trillion
This might save the country. Thus there's no chance of passage. ~Bob. Excerpt: Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget committee, will propose fundamental reforms to Medicare and Medicaid in the GOP budget expected to be released Tuesday, implying in a Fox News Sunday interview that the deficit savings would exceed $4 trillion. "We can't keep kicking this can down the road," Ryan said to Fox. "The president has punted. We're not going to follow suit." He also said that the deficit reduction would exceed what President Obama’s fiscal commission proposed last year, which was $4 trillion.
Excerpt: Jack Lew is lucky he isn’t in prison. Were he representing a private pension fund and if he made the sort of statements he made in USA Today the other day, he might well be sharing a cell with Bernie Madoff. So who is Jack Lew? And what did he say? Lew is the Director of the federal Office of Management and Budget. About Social Security, he wrote: “Taxes are placed in a trust fund dedicated to paying benefits owed to current and future beneficiaries. When more taxes are collected than are needed to pay benefits, funds are converted to Treasury bonds — backed with the full faith and credit of the U.S. government.” As a result of these investments, the Social Security trust fund will be able “to pay full benefits for the next 26 years.” Not only is this preposterous, Charles Krauthammer called it a “breathtaking fraud.” Before dissecting Lew’s transgressions, let’s consider why Bernie Madoff is in the hoosegow. Madoff told investors he was investing their funds in real assets, when in fact he was not. He secretly used their funds for personal consumption and to pay off other investors. Either figuratively or imaginatively, Madoff wrote IOUs to himself, all backed by the full faith and credit of Bernie Madoff. Maybe in the beginning he fully intended to pay off. But that’s beside the point. Inducing people to give you money with this sort of lie is criminal fraud. It’s against the law. What I have to say about the Social Security trust fund also applies to the disability fund, the Medicare trust funds, the highway fund, the unemployment insurance fund and almost every other federal government trust fund. None of them are real trust funds. And that, by the way, is not fraud. The fraud part is telling people you have a real trust fund, when you don’t.

Wis. union battle prompts perpetual political war
If Republicans lose this fight in Wisconsin, it will join the disaster states like California and Illinois that are headed for bankruptcy. Of personal interest, because we own a condo there, currently occupied by the stepdaughter and granddaughter. ~Bob. Excerpt: Activists are gathering signatures to trigger recall elections of 16 state senators — eight Republicans and eight Democrats. Analysts and political professionals in both parties agree that the Republicans are more threatened. Democrats could even retake the Senate if they oust three Republicans without losing any of their own seats. The Republican Party has filed a public information request to obtain emails from a University of Wisconsin professor who has written critically about the conduct of Gov. Scott Walker. The GOP accuses Senate Democrats of abdicating their responsibilities by fleeing the state to try to prevent a vote. Unions are threatening boycotts of businesses that don't display signs saying they support workers. National groups are pouring money into a previously obscure state Supreme Court election set for Tuesday, in which the Republican incumbent is suddenly threatened by resurgent Democrats who believe that swinging the court majority to their party would give them an edge when Walker's law inevitably is challenged before the high court.

Excerpt: On the frozen lip of sprawling Big Green Lake, local Republicans gathered in a small hotel ballroom this afternoon for their annual Lincoln Day dinner. Mark Slate, a 39 year-old candidate for county judge, was decked in a stovepipe hat, but the real attraction was state supreme-court justice David Prosser, who gave a rousing speech, urging conservatives to support him on Tuesday, when he faces JoAnne Kloppenburg, an environmental lawyer, at the polls. In his remarks, Prosser noted that the race has gone national. Union-friendly groups are pouring millions into the contest, hoping to tilt the ideological balance of the bench to the left. If Prosser is defeated, Gov. Scott Walker’s budget-repair bill could face a rocky future, since a state appellate panel has asked the high court to weigh in on the legislation’s legality.

NATO to U.S.: We Need More Strikes in Libya
You notice that, not having shot down any Libyan planes, but killed lots of folks on the ground, they are no longer calling it a "No Fly" zone. ~Bob. Excerpt: NATO has asked the United States to continue participating in airstrikes over Libya through late Monday, ABC News has learned. This was done to make up for the bad weather earlier in the week that had hampered targeting of Gadhafi forces and allowed them to push the rebels back to Ajdabiyah. The United States was supposed to have significantly begun dropping its participation in airstrikes over Libya.

Does Increased Legislative Oversight Result in "Better" Regulations?
Excerpt: Over the past two decades, the regulatory process in New Jersey has become increasingly complex. State agencies are now required to conduct numerous analyses of their regulations, in the name of greater accountability and transparency. Legislative oversight has been strengthened. Have these procedural changes resulted in "better" regulations? Or have they made the regulatory process so cumbersome that agencies have turned to alternative forms of policymaking, ask Stuart Shapiro and Deborah Borie-Holtz of Rutgers University. Shapiro and Borie-Holtz examined 1,707 regulations in New Jersey from the time periods of 1998-1999 and 2006-2007: They found that agencies are largely immune to the procedural requirements of the regulatory process in New Jersey; substantive changes to agency proposals as a result of comments are rare; and impact analyses are pro forma at best. Legislative review has not been used by the New Jersey state legislature to invalidate an executive branch regulation since 1996. The volume of rulemaking is largely unchanged over the past decade despite changes in administration and the addition of procedural requirements. The data on the New Jersey rulemaking process reinforce the theme of consistency through procedural and political changes. For administrative law scholars, the limited effect of regulatory procedures may be of even greater interest. Most notable are the limited circumstances in which agencies change their proposals as a result of public comments. Regulatory reformers at the state and federal levels should take note: procedural control of bureaucratic agencies is unlikely to be particularly effective, if the New Jersey example is representative. Indeed, political control of agencies may even be particularly challenging, say Shapiro and Borie-Holtz.

California high-speed rail: The next stop is bankruptcy
But high speed rail is one of the pillars of Liberal Faith. It doesn't matter what it costs, it must go forward. ~Bob. Excerpt: Like most large public infrastructure projects, the California high-speed rail project was sold to the public based on false promises, exaggerated benefits and lowball cost estimates. Before the election, the cost of the project was estimated at $33 billion for the Los Angeles/Anaheim to San Francisco portion, and an additional $7 billion for the spurs to San Diego and Sacramento. Voters narrowly passed a $9.95 billion bond in 2008, and the federal government and private investors were supposed to cover the remaining $30 billion. We were promised that a one-way fare between Los Angeles and San Francisco would cost about $55, making it cheaper than flying. After the election, costs rose to $43 billion for just the Los Angeles-San Francisco phase (chances are the San Diego and Sacramento lines will never be built) and ticket price estimates nearly doubled to $105. Yet none of this seems to bother the California High-Speed Rail Authority or cause it to re-evaluate the feasibility of the project.

GOP freshmen face big shutdown decision: fight or fall in line
Cut It or Shut It. ~Bob. Excerpt: Each of the 87 House Republican freshmen faces the same choice heading into the climactic week of the 2011 budget battle — to fight or fall in line. The freshman class, vaunted for its unprecedented size and its Tea-Party ties, has been caught between party leadership nudging it toward compromise on one end and anti-spending activists clamoring for a clash on the other.

GOP moves to eliminate Fannie, Freddie
Excerpt: Congressional Republicans are moving aggressively to wind down mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but they face resistance not only from Democrats, but members of their own party who fear rapid elimination of the two entities would destabilize the fragile housing market. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and House Republican Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, introduced identical bills in the House and Senate that would end the government conservatorship of Fannie and Freddie within five years. The firms, known as government-sponsored enterprises, or GSEs, have cost taxpayers $150 billion since the government rescued them from near-collapse in during the housing crisis of 2008.

Obama’s targeted reelection launch
Excerpt: President Obama entered his 2012 reelection race via a two-minute web video released to supporters this morning, a video that provides a telling window into how – and where – the campaign will focus in the coming months. The video features five average people advocating for Obama and, as importantly, his style of politics. Let’s look at the people first.

Secrecy hides taxpayer dollars used in Big Green lawsuits
After the collapse, the survivors can start over. Without this stuff. For awhile. ~Bob. Excerpt: Excerpt: For thousands of farming and ranching families with leases and grazing rights on public lands in the West, having a good lawyer on call is more than a routine cost of doing business. It's an absolute necessity to protect a way of life that has often been handed down for generations. But that's far from the worst of it because not only do these hard-working, taxpaying men and women have to pay their own attorneys, they also frequently end up having to help pay the attorneys' fees and other legal costs for Big Green environmental groups that file lawsuits seeking to force the federal government to do their bidding. Usually, the individual ranchers and farmers aren't even defendants, they're just innocent bystanders who need attorneys to protect their interests because their livelihoods depend on the outcome of such litigation. This unjust situation is a result of the Big Green environmental movement's discovery several decades ago that there was indeed "gold in them thar hills," thanks to an obscure federal law known as the Equal Access to Justice Act.

How to be a freedom fighter
Excerpt: Before the current upheavals, all energy was focused on negotiating just settlements with two very unjust governments: Iran and the Palestinian Authority. Both causes proved predictably hopeless. Negotiating in good faith with Iran is like asking the inmates to help manage the asylum. Likewise, seeking a peace settlement with the Palestinian Authority or Hamas makes no sense until they are willing to acknowledge Israel's right to exist. When cries for freedom broke out in Iran's 2009 Green Revolution and, more recently, in the protests against Egypt's Mubarak, Obama's initial reaction was to repeat Bush's mistake. He sided with stability. Rather than acknowledge and support the call of freedom, he opted to negotiate with status-quo, anti-democratic regimes.

Sign of Our Times
Excerpt: A dialectic of judicial deference and political arrogance is on display in St. Louis. When excessively deferential courts permit governmental arrogance, additional arrogance results as government explores the limits of judicial deference. As Jim Roos knows. He formed a nonprofit housing and community development corporation that provides residences for low-income people. Several times its properties have been seized by the city government, using "blight" as an excuse for transferring property to developers who can pay more taxes to the seizing government. The U.S. Supreme Court's 2005 Kelo decision legitimized this. It permits governments to cite "blight" -- a notoriously elastic concept, sometimes denoting nothing more than chipped paint or cracked sidewalks -- to justify seizing property for the "public use" of enriching those governments. (Without property rights there are no political rights. ~Bob.)

Leakage traced to crack in Fukushima shaft
Excerpt: Water had previously been discovered in a concrete shaft which carries power cables to the plant's sea water intake pumps. Water was observed to be spilling into the sea from a 20cm crack in the side of the shaft. After two attempts to stop the leak by pouring concrete into the shaft failed to change the rate of water leakage on 2 April, work began on 3rd April to inject polymer into the shaft. This was followed with the injection of a tracer to enable the water flow patterns to be examined. (As this slowly fades from the news, the hard work continues. As a reminder, so far, three plant workers drowned in the tsunami, and about 20 have taken radiation doses of more than 100 milliseiverts; none have yet received doses in excess of the emergency guideline of 250 milliseiverts, and no one has yet been killed by radiation. With luck and a lot of skill, it may stay that way. Ron P.)

WHO Study Used to Justify ObamaCare a Scientific Fraud
Excerpt: Increasingly, the “science” in the “social sciences” has moved away from disinterested scholarship, and turned into advocacy. Journalism has taken a similar route. The social justice achievements that can be won are just too important to be left to people who are not on the team, and who have not reached their conclusions before they begin their studies. It is the result that matters, not the methodology that gets you there, or even the truth that might be found in an honest examination of an issue.

Obama quietly appoints Muslim Brotherhood to key posts
Excerpt: An ex-CIA agent and counter-intelligence expert has revealed in a special report that Barack Obama has quietly appointed individuals who are friendly to radical Islam to key posts within the Administration. Clare Lopez, former professor at the Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies, wrote a policy paper in February of 2009 entitled, 'The Iran Lobby,' which details the systematic appointment of Sharia-friendly advocates within the State Department and other government agencies. While the paper does not deal specifically with the Muslim Brotherhood, information is presented that shows the growing influence of radical Islam within the U.S. government.

More customers exposed as big data breach grows
Excerpt: Drugstore Walgreen, Video recorder TiVo Inc, credit card lender Capital One Financial Corp and teleshopping company HSN Inc all added their names to a list of targets that also includes some of the nation's largest banks. The names and electronic contacts of some students affiliated with the U.S.-based College Board -- which represents some 5,900 colleges, universities and schools -- were also potentially compromised. No personal financial information such as credit cards or social security numbers appeared to be exposed, according to the company statements and e-mails to customers.

Big Government Vs. the Internet
Liberals believe in Freedom of Speech, as long as the speech agrees with them. ~!B ob. Excerpt: Following his party’s devastating losses last November, President Barack Obama made clear that where his party could no longer legislate, it will regulate. Just a month later, America saw his words become action when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to issue new rules regulating the Internet, even though courts and Congress have stood in opposition to its actions. Tomorrow, the House of Representatives is poised to voice its opposition to the FCC’s unmitigated power grab and will vote on a resolution to block the FCC’s rules, sending a powerful message that enough regulation is enough, and the FCC should keep its hands off the Internet. The policy the FCC is trying to enact is known as “net neutrality,” an unfortunately vague code word for government regulation of the Internet. Supporters of net neutrality will tell you the regulation is necessary to keep the Internet “free and open” and to prevent corporations from “throttling” network speeds, making it faster to download some things, slower to download others. And, in this doomsday, apocalyptic, dystopian future, only the FCC can save the day with more and more government regulations.

Will US leave behind disaster?
Excerpt: When President Obama made his Cairo speech two years ago, apologizing for nearly everything America had done in the Mideast since Jimmy Carter, some of us worried that the goal was nothing less than terminating US influence there. Two signal events last week at either end of that volatile region suggest that's exactly what's happening. The first was the decision to pull US ships and planes out of combat operations in Libya and to leave the rest to NATO unless the rebels are on the brink of destruction. The second, even more disturbing, was the report that, at the height of the anti-government demonstrations in Bahrain two weeks ago, the Pentagon ordered our ships and personnel at our naval base there to clear out, leaving only a skeleton staff. Our naval base at Manama is the biggest in the region. It's the home of the Fifth Fleet, the guardians of Persian Gulf stability, and plays host to successive US carrier groups that keep watch over a hostile Iran. Yet it seems the administration was ready to hand the place over to any anti-American or pro-Iranian demonstrators poised to take over in Bahrain, until the Saudis finally intervened and sent in troops -- thus saving our strategic bacon as well as their own.

Excerpt: Primed by the financial meltdown; took off like a rocket in January 2009, and is now reaching for the stars. Over 44 million on the rolls (somewhere around 14.3% of the population), which is about 14 million or so more than when this administration took office. The graph is sufficiently grim and depressing on its own to make further commentary largely unnecessary, but I will add one sardonic comment. If current conditions are what the White House considers to be “our economic recovery,” then let me be clear: You’re Doing It Wrong.

Jimmy Carter Lobbies for Cuban Spies
Excerpt: It is obvious why the dictatorship sought out Mr. Carter. The list of individuals—no fair counting Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Kim Jong Il or Chris Dodd—who are willing to lend legitimacy to one of the 20th century's most disastrous revolutionary experiments is shrinking fast. The former president is, as they say, useful. We may never know why Mr. Carter agreed to be used. But we do know how he was used: On Wednesday, before he left Havana he went on Cuban television to argue for the release of the five Cuban spies known as "the wasp network," who are now serving time in U.S. prisons.

Goldstone Recants! Will the Left Follow His Example?
Excerpt: In what must be considered as shocking a turnaround as any we have seen in recent years, Richard Goldstone, the chair of the United Nations Human Rights Commission's fact-finding commission about the conflict in Gaza, has retracted his claim that Israel deliberately sought to target and kill Palestinian civilians. A product of the Human Rights Council, an organization that is singularly dedicated to besmirching and attacking Israel while ignoring serious crimes elsewhere (including those committed by the nations that makes up its membership), the Goldstone Report was widely criticized for its one-sided nature and the inaccuracy of its claims.

France's Sarkozy faces rifts on Islam debate
Excerpt: French President Nicolas Sarkozy, an early and strong voice for intervention in Libya, is striding tall as a world leader. But at home his position is less commanding as he faces open dissent in his party over the merits of holding a debate tomorrow on secularism and Islam in this nation that strictly prohibits religious talk or religious symbols in state affairs.

CAIR chief's designs to 'run' U.S. revealed
Excerpt: The same national Muslim leader who's launched an "education campaign" to quell American fears over Shariah law once gave a full-throated speech to Muslims advocating an Islamic rise to power in America. In a newly surfaced video of a 2000 speech to the Islamic Society of North America, Council on American-Islamic Relations Executive Director Nihad Awad told his Muslim audience: "Muslims in America are in the best position to show Islam and to show action and to show vision – not only for a Muslim school, how it should be run, but for an entire society, how it should be run. Who better can lead America than Muslims?"

West braces for Gadhafi's terror counterpunch
Excerpt: Experts watching developments in Libya fear that embattled leader Moammar Gadhafi could resort to acts of terror like the Lockerbie bombing to retaliate against the West, according to a report from Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin.

Now Libya steps on President Obama's message
Excerpt: President Barack Obama’s decision to intervene in Libya has presented him with a whole new set of political problems with members of both parties. But its most worrisome effect for the White House is the way it’s undermining his efforts to address what has been his administration’s longest-running issue — the economy. The economy – and Obama’s claim that he rescued the country from the brink of depression — will be central to Obama’s reelection campaign, which he officially launched by releasing a video message to supporters Monday morning. But in the view of his closest allies, Libya is drowning out his attempts to portray himself as an economic commander-in-chief fighting a series of new threats to the fragile U.S. recovery, especially the devastating and politically poisonous rise in gas prices. 

Gunshots prompt prayers for peace
Didn't get the memo. ~Bob. Excerpt: Australia's oldest Hindu temple, the Sri Mandir in Auburn, is under siege and its devotees gripped by fear. On March 19, two men in balaclavas stood at the intersection of a nearby road, spraying the front of the prayer hall with eight rounds of bullets. The building was unoccupied at the time. The busy Hindu temple opened in 1977. It is surrounded by a predominantly Muslim population and it is no secret among locals that tensions have been simmering in recent years, caused by concerns about noise and parking problems at Sri Mandir.

Taliban twin bombers kill 42 at Pakistani shrine
As usual, most of the victims of Allah-murder are fellow Muslims who have a slightly different interpretation of Islam, therefore must die as apostates. The war that will never end. ~Bob. Excerpt: A pair of Taliban suicide bombers struck one of Pakistan's most important Sufi Muslim shrines on Sunday, killing 42 people and wounding 100 who were celebrating the anniversary of its founder's death with music, meditation and other practices abhorred by Islamist militant groups. Another bomber was wounded when his explosive vest partially detonated. He was arrested along with a fourth militant who was seized before attacking, police official Ahmad Mubarak said. The attack on the Sakhi Sarwar shrine ended a months-long respite in a relentless militant campaign against the shrines founded by ancient adherents of Sufism, a mystical branch of Islam that sees dancing, chanting and visiting holy sites as expressions of devotion to God. Taliban spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan called The Associated Press to claim responsibility for the assault.

Excerpt: Correction on the title of this piece: His campaign advisory role carried over to a ongoing Presidential advisory role, so “Former” isn’t quite accurate. Google Chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt tried to use his influence within Google to gain privacy from searches about him, specifically trying to hide his political donations through secret “whitelists” whose existence has only recently been admitted. This revelation from Steven Levy’s new book In the Plex is not surprising given Schmidt’s high level of political activity, advising candidate Barack Obama on tech issues, and now rumored as a candidate to be the next Secretary of Commerce. He’s in deep politically, and probably doesn’t want that to hurt him personally or in business. But given Schmidt’s history, he’s now exposed as a massive hypocrite.

Chernobyl and Fukushima – measuring our monsters in the midday sun
Excerpt: The first rule of Horror Films 101 is “Don’t reveal your monster too soon”. Fear is all about suggestion. Hints. Things that go bump in the night. Letting vague connections swell in the imagination. Chernobyl. Fukushima. The hint of a fin caught in the corner of your eye. The Serpent’s Egg is an Ingmar Bergman film from the late 1970s which knew all the tricks. There were sounds in that film more chilling than blood and guts. Violence was suggested rather than displayed, and you heard it ooze through the movie like it did the historical events in the back story … the rise toward Nazism in Germany in the 1920s. Once your monster is front and center on screen, anti-climax is tough to avoid. (This is an interesting comparison of the historic record of several real and imagined disasters. Keep in mind, the folks at this site a firm believers in Global Warming/Climate Change who see nuclear power as the best solution to solving it. There is also a link to a PDF of the WHO’s 20 year study of the health impact of the Chernobyl incident—which makes interesting reading all by itself. All emphasis is in the original. Ron P.)

The Week That Was: 2011-04-02
Excerpt: According to the latest statistics from the Energy Information Administration, January 2011, the five largest suppliers of oil to the US provide over seventy percent of imported oil. They are, in thousands of barrels per day, Canada (2,149), Mexico (1,216), Saudi Arabia (1,099), Nigeria (968), and Venezuela (951). Iraq is six is with only 470. Mr. Obama made the usual claim of increasing domestic production, but emphasized conservation (government imposed restrictions), alternative energy, and electric vehicles. In the US, oil is primarily a transportation fuel, with other uses being petrochemicals, heating, asphalt, etc. Less than 1% is used to generate electricity. Thus, electricity from alternative sources will do little to reduce the US “addiction to oil” – a phrase used by Mr. Obama’s predecessor Mr. Bush. Since oil is a very valuable commodity that greatly benefits the nation, addiction to oil is a rhetorical term of no significant economic value. In spite of substantial subsidies, electricity from alternative sources remains expensive and unreliable. Even with producer subsidies and tax credits, electric cars also remain a luxury good beyond the price range of most Americans. (…) The difficulties at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant continue. … Reports indicate that the water in the trenches probably came from the tsunami but the source of the increase in radioactive contamination is not fully understood. There is no indication this increase radioactive contamination was from a breach in the reactor vessel or containment structures. Reports state that the general area has elevated levels of radiation, but not sufficiently high to be considered dangerous by international standards. Also, no workers have been exposed to elevations beyond the international radiation standard for emergency situations. (Several great articles in this week’s summary. Especially see the ones under “EPA and Regulators.” Ron P.)

“Is the President lying or is he just misinformed"
Excerpt: Ask me no questions I’ll tell you no lies, is a phrase attributed to Irish playwright Oliver Goldsmith (1728-1774). If Goldsmith were alive today he would probably want to meet President Obama and most of his cabinet and appointees so he could see those who have brought his coined phrase into a daily standard of practice. Who would guess that less than one year after being elected that someone would find over 160 lies to start a website named “Obama Lies” with, and now the number has grown to several hundred. Like most Americans who hold the office of the President in high regard it must never be forgotten that respecting the office of the president does not necessasarily result in respect for the president. Like anyone else in this world, that respect must be earned. How is Mr. Obama doing?

How Slavery Really Ended in America
Interesting history. My Great, Great Grandfather, Oliver Vernal, served under Butler in the Army of the James in Company D, 6th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry. He was wounded twice, once at Deep Bottom, where the 6th "broke and fled," having been shot in the hip through his canteen cup, doubtless on the back of his belt. Lucky for me he got away and survived. Butler was a great organizer, but a poor field commander. I think The Army of the James lost every battle unless supporting larger armies. I belong to the Sons of the Union Veterans in his old GAR post in Vineland, NJ. ~Bob.

The Not So Dismal Science: Humanitarians v. Economists
Excerpt: Let’s start with “dismal science” itself. Even those who know nothing about economics have heard the term. A few might even know that it was Thomas Carlyle who came up with it. Very few know the salient point: Carlyle deployed the term in a magazine polemic entitled “An Occasional Discourse on the Negro Question.” In that essay, Carlyle savaged the two groups who were leading the British fight against slavery: economists and evangelicals. The latter were sometimes abbreviated to “Exeter Hall”—a reference to the London building that served as the center of British evangelism and philanthropy. Carlyle argued that if blacks were left to the laws of supply and demand—the way he saw a commercial society—they would be condemned to a life of misery. For their own and society’s sake, what they needed was a “beneficent whip.” (...) Slavery is not the only human issue where the economists have shown themselves to advantage. Throughout the 20th century and now into our own, we see a similar dynamic on another issue that pits the humanitarians and artists against the economists and the Christians. This is the call for population control. Once again, the progressive argument is that human beings are by their nature a liability to poor societies. Once again, when people resist the obvious prescription—in this case, having fewer children—the so-called humanitarian solution turns out to require more and more government coercion. Once again, the economists offer a more hopeful way forward. (Imprimis is a free monthly publication of speeches (usually condensed) delivered at Hillsdale College, a center of learning devoted to self-government and freedom. I get mine by US mail. I’m not sure whether or not it can be subscribed to in an email format. It is almost always worth reading.  Ron P.)

New York Times Buries Muslim Brotherhood Connection to Hamas
Excerpt: On April 2nd, The New York Times published a piece by Ethan Bronner titled, "In Israel, Time for Peace Offer May Run Out." In the piece, Bronner discussed various aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including statehood, violence, peace talks, religion, the West Bank, Gaza, and the Muslim Brotherhood. But while Bronner spent many paragraphs detailing the difficulties in establishing peace between Israel and Palestine, it wasn't until the 2nd page that he Donner admitted a "central obstacle to the establishment of a State of Palestine" is the political and physical divide between the Palestinian Authority-controlled West Bank and the Hamas-controlled Gaza. The more moderate PA has suggested elections for a unified government in both territories. "But Hamas, worried it would lose such elections and hopeful that the regional turmoil could work in its favor - that Egypt, for example, might be taken over by its ally, the Muslim Brotherhood - has reacted coolly," Bronner wrote. After 1,138 words, he finally made a crucial connection between the terrorists of Hamas and the supposedly moderate Muslim Brotherhood - and obliquely showed that Hamas is more interested in killing Jews than in establishing a Palestinian state.
Barack Obama has made me want to boycott America
Excerpt: Let me be clear: I’m not normally in favour of boycotts, and I love the American people. I holiday in their country regularly, and hate the tedious snobby sneers against the United States. But the American people chose to elect an idiot who seems hell bent on insulting their allies, and something must be done to stop Obama’s reckless foreign policy, before he does the dirty on his allies on every issue.

Brotherhood Official Calls for Modesty Enforcement
Excerpt: Muslim Brotherhood officials must be confident in their chances in this fall's Egyptian parliamentary elections. David Miller of Media Line picked up an Egyptian newspaper report citing a member of the Brotherhood's governing board calling for a squad of virtue police created to act against "those who commit immoral acts." Issam Durbala's vision aims to protect public virtue and modesty with "limited authorities," Miller reports, which means something short of Saudi Arabia's vice police. [Note: Miller identifies Durbala as a Brotherhood official, other sources place him in the Gama'a Al-Islamiya, or Islamic Group] Moderates and secularists in Egypt are alarmed by the growing influence of religious conservatives in Egypt. They'll have to scramble to compete in the fall elections against the larger, better organized Brotherhood. Those reformers tried to defeat constitutional amendments that called for elections sooner, rather than later, in hopes of buying time to organize.

Obama Administration Appeals Judge's Ruling That Health Care Law Is Unconstitutional
Excerpt: The government's 62-page motion filed Friday to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals argued that Congress had the power to enact the overhaul's minimum coverage requirements because it is a "rational means of regulating the way participants in the health care market pay for their services." The motion also warned other pieces of the overhaul, including a law that blocks insurers from denying coverage to people because of pre-existing conditions, would be "unworkable" without a minimum coverage provision. (Government speed demonstrated. The DOJ had to know the moment Obamacare was passed there would be legal challenges to it. So, it has only taken since the 31st of January’s court ruling striking it down to come up with the appeal, a mere two months. No wonder they think their reaction in Libya was “timely.” Ron P.)

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