Sunday, May 1, 2011

Political Digest for May 1, 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.

Hooray, hooray, it's the First of May!

American Cab Driver
Took a cab home from a meeting in downtown Chicago late Friday night. The black driver had one of those lilting, African accents, so I asked where he was from. "I am from Nigeria, Sir. But I am a citizen and I have been in this great country 23 years." I mentioned the turmoil in Nigeria and asked if he was from the South or the North. "I am a Christian from southern Nigeria, sir. It is the Muslims in the north who are creating the trouble. I do not know what it is about that religion that it makes so many people want to hate and kill." Me either. But I told him I was glad he was here, and that we need more immigrants like him who wanted to be Americans, not destroy America.
'Atlas Shrugged' Producer Promises Two Sequels Despite Terrible Reviews, Poor Box Office
Excerpt: The man who says he spent $10 million of his own money to bring Atlas Shrugged: Part 1 to the big screen vowed Wednesday to go through with his plans to make the next two installments, even though critics hate the movie and business at movie theaters has fallen off a cliff. In fact, said John Aglialoro, the co-producer and financier, it's the monolithic view from critics that say the movie stinks that is motivating him to make Parts 2 and 3, he told The Hollywood Reporter. And he defended his film Wednesday by accusing professional film reviewers of political bias. How else, he asks, to explain their distaste for a film that is liked by the audience? At, 7,400 people gave it an average 85% score.

Worth reading: Falling Between Two Stools
Excerpt: The President looks like a man who is ridden by events; at just the moment when the nation craves a strong leader, the President looks weak, dodgy, uncertain. The contrast with the inflated hopes that an untested and inexperienced Senator Obama did so much to build up is crippling. Obama has fallen so far precisely because he and his supporters so hugely oversold him.

Daniels' signing Planned Parenthood defunding boosts his prez chances
This neatly plays into the fiscal issue, though since PP targets minorities for abortions, it will increase welfare costs at some point. If we are going to turn the debt disaster around a lot of programs have to go out of the lifeboat--including many that you and I would support. ~Bob. Excerpt: I'll leave it to others to speculate about whether Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels' decision to sign a bill defunding Planned Parenthood makes it more likely he's going to run for president. But should he decide to run, there's no doubt that this action will help his chances considerably in the Republican primary. One of the biggest obstacles Daniels will have to overcome if he seeks the presidency is comments he made calling for a "truce" on social issues given the emergency of our debt crisis. I thought the criticisms were slightly unfair, if only because he was merely stating explicitly what most other Republicans were doing explicitly -- prioritizing economic and fiscal issues over social issues. But Daniels hurt himself by digging in, and avoided many chances to clarify or walk back his remarks. With today's action, however, he now has a clear way to answer critics. Words are one thing, but a politician's actual record in office is much more important. And on that front, Daniels can argue that however his comments were construed, he governed as a pro-lifer and would as president.

Wis. GOP welcomes 'Walker ally' Deval Patrick
Excerpt: I just got this amusing note by email from the Wisconsin Republican Party: RPW Welcomes Scott Walker Ally Deval Patrick to Wisconsin. The Republican Party of Wisconsin would like to welcome into our state Governor Walker’s latest ally in reforming collective bargaining, Massachusetts Democratic Governor Deval Patrick. Earlier this week, the Massachusetts State House passed legislation reforming collective bargaining for government employee health care benefits, similar to the legislation signed into law earlier this year by Governor Walker. Patrick has voiced his support for the legislation, stating that “it demonstrated that House leaders are serious about easing the burden of rising health care costs for communities”. “It’s refreshing to see that even a liberal Democrat from Massachusetts recognizes the importance of collective bargaining reform and its significance in helping local communities save money,” said Mark Jefferson, Executive Director of the Republican Party of Wisconsin. “Patrick is just the latest in a series of Governor’s that have supported similar measures to help balance their state’s budget.

Saying ‘au revoir’ to NATO
Excerpt: Gene Healy forcefully stated several reasons in yesterday’s Washington Examiner in support of US withdrawal from NATO. The US’ European NATO partners have developed a bad habit of embroiling the US in conflicts that don’t involve a direct American national interest. Worse, many of them have pared down their military spending to the point that they can start minor wars, but cannot see them through without US help. As an example of this, Healy cites how France and the UK have admitted they are running low on armaments needed to continue the war in Libya. If Healy had his way, Uncle Sam would tell these “military ‘welfare queens’” that there will be no more “free-riding off America's lavish defense budgets.” There’s much wisdom in Healy’s article.

Unions suffer another defeat - in Massachusetts
Excerpt: Even as the dust begins to settle on the all-out battle between unions and electorate in Wisconsin, the consequences of the unions' defeat there can be seen in the most unlikely place yet: Massachusetts. Yesterday, the state House voted decisively to end government worker collective bargaining privileges over health care, by a margin of 111 to 42. The measure was crafted and pushed through by House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo:

Senators Ask White House to Abandon Executive Order Limiting Political Speech
Excerpt: A group of senators is urging President Obama to reconsider a draft executive order to require would-be government contractors to disclose political contributions.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), ranking member on the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) yesterday sent a letter signed by 25 of their Republican colleagues to the president to ask him to keep politics out of federal contracting.

Do We Want To Be Fooled?
Excerpt: When I first heard Mortenson speak at a conference two years ago, I was unaware what a big deal he was. Indeed, as far as I can remember it was the first time I’d ever heard of him. I was immediately appalled. He was swaggering, slick, self-satisfied. These attributes especially stood out in contrast with the other speakers at the conference. For the occasion was the first annual Oslo Freedom Forum, at which many if not most of Mortenson’s fellow speakers were genuine heroes — men and women who’d stood up for freedom in autocratic countries and been punished for it with years of imprisonment and torture. Those heroes had a right to swagger. Only they didn’t. On the contrary, most of them seemed embarrassed by the attention they were receiving. They weren’t comfortable in the limelight. They recounted their experiences in halting voices, their sincerity shining through. Plainly, they were telling their stories not to sell books or build a brand but because they knew that, for the sake of human justice, their stories desperately needed to be told. The focus of their testimony wasn’t on their own courageous endurance but on the cruelty of the tyrants who’d made them suffer — and on the need to free others who still chafed under the same yoke. Such was their humility that, to my shame, I came away not being able to remember most of their names. (When I was young, most children were taught they could grow up to be heroes; I doubt this is true today. (Rockstars, maybe.) Everyone has their own idea of what makes someone a hero. My own is this: a hero still does his job when doing that job is difficult and dangerous; a great hero does what needs to be done, whether it was his job or not. Though most military heroes never came home, there are heroes among us from every walk of life. You’ll never hear of them; they’ll have no statue in the town square. Most would deny their heroism if asked, insisting they had “just done their jobs.” It is sad that Americans have turned away from wanting to be heroes. That was part of what made us Americans. And, it’s what makes Mortenson so disgusting, just like those fake veterans who wear medals they pretend they earned. Ron P.)

Just in Time, Obama Changes the Subject
Excerpt: President Obama just did something only presidents can do: he changed the subject of our nation's political conversation. To his advantage, he and his handlers hope. As American Thinker was one of the first to report, on Monday -- four days ago -- the President was well on his way to having a politically disastrous week. A lengthy article by Ryan Lizza in the May 2 number of the New Yorker had exposed wide disarray and division among the President, his advisors, and Hillary Clinton's State Department over the American response to the Arab Spring, especially the non-intervention in Iran's Green Revolution last year and the more recent decision to intervene -- sort of -- in Libya.

No House cleaning for dirty Waters
Excerpt: While ethics watchdogs dither, it's shady business as usual for scandal-plagued Rep. Maxine Waters. Last summer, the House Ethics Committee charged the California Democrat with three violations related to her dealings on behalf of minority-owned OneUnited Bank in Los Angeles. The panel accused Waters of bringing discredit to the House for using her influence to seek and secure taxpayer-subsidized special favors for the failing financial institution. Eight months have passed since the House ethics panel charged Waters. But to date, there has been no action. Instead, Waters is busy ginning up opposition to GOP budget and entitlement reform, introducing regulatory crackdowns on the financial industry and waltzing into rallies as Aretha Franklin's "Respect" blares from the loudspeaker. But this corporate welfare fixer is just another corruptocrat of a different stripe. To re-cap:

Who hates high gas prices?
Are high gas prices a good thing? It's not as dumb a question as it sounds. Examine a few revealing past remarks from President Obama and the Cabinet officials who are now in charge of the nation's energy use and oil leases on federal lands. Then decide whether the current soaring gas prices are supposed to be good or bad. In 2008, then-Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar -- now Interior Department secretary in charge of the leasing of federal oil lands -- refused to vote for any new offshore drilling. In a Senate exchange with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Salazar objected to allowing any drilling on America's outer continental shelf -- even if gas prices reached $10 a gallon. We can now see why the president appointed Salazar, inasmuch as Obama recently promised the Brazilians that he'd buy their newfound offshore oil -- while prohibiting similar such exploration at home. From 2007 to 2008, Steven Chu, now Energy secretary, weighed in frequently on global warming and the desirable price of traditional energy. At one point, Chu asserted, "Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe." During the 2008 campaign, Obama himself said: "Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket." The candidate elaborated on the envisioned role of his administration in ensuring such high prices: "So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can. It's just that it will bankrupt them."

Our Elite Schools Have Abandoned Military History
Excerpt: The study of war elucidates some of mankind's noblest virtues and bitterest vices. So why do colleges seem afraid of it? The Union's victory in the Civil War, whose opening shots were fired by Confederate forces 150 years ago this month, established that the United States, which had been conceived in liberty, would endure as a nation dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Many college students will hear in that assertion echoes of President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. Few will know much about the bloody three-day battle of Gettysburg that Lincoln's revered speech commemorated. There is little chance today's college students will study the strategy that underlay Gen. Robert E. Lee's decision to lead the Army of Northern Virginia on a second invasion of the North, or the tactics that Gen. George Gordon Meade and his commanders of the Army of the Potomac adopted to repel the attack. They are probably no better versed in any other Civil War battle. One reason for this ignorance is that our bastions of liberal education barely teach military affairs. No doubt the same post-Vietnam hostility to all things military that impelled faculties and administrations to banish ROTC from campus is a major factor.
UPDATED - Silence Surrounding Alleged Home Invasion of ICE Agent Fuels Concerns, Speculation
Excerpt: On Jan. 13, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials and San Antonio police suddenly seemed to have legitimate reason to fear that a potentially “game-changing” event had occurred on US soil that could require an unprecedented response by the federal government against Mexico’s narco-cartels. At first glance, it appeared that a cartel “hit man” had audaciously stormed into the San Antonio home of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Immigration Enforcement Agent (IEA) near Shavano Park in what investigating law enforcement officials on the scene allegedly suspected was a cartel-related assassination attempt. According to a summary of what was understood to have occurred that was emailed the following day to federal law enforcement agents, the “masked gunman” broke into the home specifically looking for the ICE agent. The police report on the incident reportedly stated that there were two masked gunmen, however - not one - and that one of them held the agent's wife at gunpoint while his accomplice searched the home looking for the agent.

Chronicle responds after Obama Administration punishes reporter for using multimedia, then claims they didn't
Excerpt: In a pants-on-fire moment, the White House press office today denied anyone there had issued threats to remove Carla Marinucci and possibly other Hearst reporters from the press pool covering the President in the Bay Area. Chronicle editor Ward Bushee called the press office on its fib: Sadly, we expected the White House to respond in this manner based on our experiences yesterday. It is not a truthful response. It follows a day of off-the-record exchanges with key people in the White House communications office who told us they would remove our reporter, then threatened retaliation to Chronicle and Hearst reporters if we reported on the ban, and then recanted to say our reporter might not be removed after all. The Chronicle's report is accurate. If the White House has indeed decided not to ban our reporter, we would like an on-the-record notice that she will remain the San Francisco print pool reporter. I was on some of those calls and can confirm Ward's statement. (…) What's worse: more than a few journalists familiar with this story are aware of some implied threats from the White House of additional and wider punishment if Carla's spanking became public. Really? That's a heavy hand usually reserved for places other than the land of the free. But bravery is a challenge, in particular for White House correspondents, most of whom are seasoned and capable journalists. They live a little bit in a gilded cage where they have access to the most powerful man in the world but must obey the rules whether they make sense or not. (This article’s author, Phil Bronstein, implies—but never actually asks or answers—the question: what difference does it make if the video is posted by the protestors themselves, but not by reporters. The difference is that being posted by the “news media” rather than a semi-anonymous, politically-motivated organization gives credibility to the video. It’s much harder to mock or ignore if it has been seen by millions on a “respectable” outlet that can’t be casually dismissed by supporters of the administration in the rest of the media. It keeps the entire MSM just a tiny bit more honest, and is the closest reflection of the reason why the Founders supported a free press to begin with. Ron P)

North Carolina considering bill to ban Sharia
Excerpt: It is good to see that there are a growing number of such bills all over the country. They will always be challenged by claims that they infringe upon Muslims' religious liberties. But they wouldn't exist at all, of course, were it not for the political and authoritarian aspects of Sharia. Backers of such bills need to familiarize themselves with those aspects and be ready to answer those challenges.

Germany Arrests 3 Al Qaeda Suspects
Excerpt: German police on Friday arrested three suspected members of the Al Qaeda terrorist organization who officials say posed a "concrete and imminent danger" to the nation. Authorities did not say whether the three had planned specific targets and offered few details, but security officials said that all three suspects were of Moroccan origin.

Indonesia: Java Pentecostal church firebombed
Must be Catholics or Buddhists behind this. Couldn't be members of a "Religion of Peace." ~Bob. Excerpt: Amid the massive police crackdown on terrorism, a Pentecostal church in Sleman, Yogyakarta, was targeted in a firebomb attack early on Friday morning Two molotov cocktails were hurled at the church on the island of Java by assailants riding a motorcycle, eyewitnesses said Friday, as reported by

Panel blacklists Egypt for religious oppression: Abuse of Muslim sects, Christians
Excerpt: Egypt systematically oppresses Christians and minority Muslim sects, according to a congressional commission that placed a key U.S. ally in the Arab world on a blacklist of nations that routinely abuse religious liberties. Egypt, for the first time, was designated a “country of particular concern” for the “systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom,” the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said in its annual report released Thursday. The independent, bipartisan commission also noted that President Obama has failed to add any country it cited for religious intolerance to a separate blacklist maintained by the State Department.

WikiLeaks: Montreal mosque 'is a top Al Qaeda recruiting zone'
Can't close them down, though. Wouldn't be PC. People will just have to die. Maybe you. Small price for the leaders to pay if you die. ~Bob. Excerpt: A mosque in Montreal has been ranked in the world’s top nine Al Qaeda recruiting zones and linked to a terror cell planning attacks on Los Angeles airport, new released documents claim. The WikiLeaks files, written by U.S. military chiefs, list the Al Sunnah Al Nabawiah mosque among nine houses of prayer worldwide considered as a place ‘Al Qaeda members were recruited, facilitated or trained’.

Elderly pair pay the price for khalwat
And some Islamophobic legislators want to allow such sinfulness in our country by outlawing Shari'a Law, which punishes people for khalwat! ~Bob. Excerpt: THEIR age did not stop a couple in Kangar from living in sin together. Following a tip-off, an anti-vice squad raided the love nest of the elderly man and woman and booked them for committing khalwat (close proximity) early this year, Harian Metro reported. On Wednesday, the Kangar Syariah High Court fined 66-year-old Salleh Nayan RM2,200, in default three months' jail, for committing the offence with his 60-year-old partner Azizah Saad.

Carbon and Carbon Dioxide: Clearing Up the Confusion
Worth reading for those who didn't pay attention in High School or college. ~Bob. Excerpt: Literally thousands of scientists vigorously disagree with the hypothesis that CO2 is responsible for (dangerous) climate change. It plays only a minor role, they argue, in a complex, chaotic climate system that is driven by numerous natural forces, cycles, and positive and negative feedback loops. They also note that CO2 increases have followed, not preceded, temperature rises, throughout Earth’s history. CO2 constitutes a mere 0.0380% of our atmosphere. That’s 380 parts per million (380 ppm), which sounds much more threatening, especially when used in juxtaposition with the pre-Industrial Revolution figure of 280 ppm. But even that 100 ppm increase represents only 0.0100% of Earth’s atmosphere – equivalent to one penny out of $100. 380 is far below historical CO2 levels. During the Jurassic and Early Carboniferous periods, geologists calculate, our atmosphere contained 1,500-2,500 ppm carbon dioxide. However, even at today’s comparatively CO2-impoverished levels, this trace gas is vital to the health of our planet.

Syrian forces kill 62, U.S. toughens sanctions
Excerpt: Syrian human rights group Sawasiah said it had the names of a total of 62 people killed during protests in Deraa, Rustun, Latakia, Homs and the town of Qadam, near Damascus. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights gave a similar death toll. Friday's bloodshed occurred as demonstrators across the country again defied heavy military deployments, mass arrests and a ruthless crackdown on the biggest popular challenge to 48 years of authoritarian Baath Party rule. U.S. President Barack Obama imposed new sanctions against Syrian figures, including a brother of Assad in charge of troops in Deraa, the first diplomatic reprisal for Syria's violent crackdown. Obama signed an executive order imposing sanctions on the intelligence agency, Assad's cousin Atif Najib and his brother Maher, who commands the army division which stormed into Deraa on Monday. (Take a moment to reflect on how thoroughly bad a government has to be in order to make the Muslim Brotherhood look like a better alternative. Ron P.)

Visa Security Program Plagued by Discord, Confusion
Excerpt: Major reforms are needed to ensure that terrorists don't get visas to enter the United States, the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee agree. Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) say a new Government Accountability Office report shows that the Visa Security Program (VSP) is plagued by serious problems ranging from staffing shortages to inter-agency bickering over the degree of association with a terrorist that would make a visa applicant ineligible to enter the United States. The VSP, which is run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, places ICE agents in U.S. consular posts to review visa applications. In an April 21 statement, both lawmakers said the GAO findings spotlight the need for major reforms.

Steve Bridges as Obama - Comedy Impression - Pt 1
Very funny if you haven't seen. ~Bob

PA daily: "Jews, Jews! Your holiday [Passover] is the Holiday of Apes"
Offending Muslims creates violence and death for which you are responsible, not them. Offending Jews? No big deal. ~Bob. Excerpt: An article in the official PA daily newspaper claims that Palestinian Christian youth perform a spring march in the streets that includes the chant: "Jews, Jews! Your holiday [Passover] is the Holiday of Apes." (See PMW web site for examples of the Palestinian Authority referring to Jews as "apes and pigs.") He writes that these "meaningful messages" are in response to Israel's security measures in Jerusalem during the holiday of Passover.

Iran government frozen by simmering feuds at top
Excerpt: Political dustups are nothing new to Iran, where parliament bickers regularly and Ahmadinejad and the ruling clerics have traded tense moments. But few can match this one for its raw nerve and serious stakes, which reach into the highest levels of how Iran is ruled. In the balance is a host of big-ticket questions: Ahmadinejad’s political stature in his final two years in office, his ability to push back against growing challenges from parliament and other critics, and whether Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is seeking to exert more control as key ally Syria faces an uprising.

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