Thursday, May 19, 2011

Political Digest for May 19, 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.

The Coming Collapse of the American Republic
Info about my book. All royalties go to wounded veterans. Please forward and post where possible.

Hail to the Hindmost
If you missed this guest post on my blog. Good stuff from Ron Pittenger. ~Bob.

Michigan Man Still Receives Food Stamps After Winning $2 Million Jackpot
Tell me a fiscal collapse is not coming! And if lottery winnings aren’t counted as “income,” how come he had to pay income tax on them? ~Bob. Excerpt: A Michigan man who won $2 million from a state lottery is reportedly still eligible to receive food stamps. Leroy Fick of Bay County, Mich., said in an interview with WNEM-TV that he still uses his bridge card at Error! Hyperlink reference not valid. despite winning a jackpot on "Make Me Rich!" last June. "I even called them and asked about the bridge card and (the Department of Human Services) said you can go ahead and keep it if you want to," Fick reportedly told the station. Fick claims he paid more than half of his winnings in taxes -- leaving him about $850,000 -- according to the station. State Department of Human Services spokeswoman Gisgie Gendreau told that under federal guidelines, lottery winnings are not counted as income if a person receives a lump-sum payment.

Excerpt: Governor Mitt Romney writes that the Massachusetts health reform that he helped usher in was simply one state’s effort to craft its own solution, not a model for the whole nation. This claim is unpersuasive. RomneyCare was, in fact, the culmination of more than a decade of experiments in government-run health care funded and coordinated by large private foundations. Their efforts have caused problems in states such as Kentucky (Kentucky Kare), Maine (Dirigo Care), Tennessee (TennCare), Hawaii (Keiki Care), Wisconsin (BadgerCare), Minnesota (MinnesotaCare), and Colorado (ColoradoCare). A cookie-cutter approach and a depressing lack of originality are hallmarks of both ObamaCare and RomneyCare. That’s why they look so similar. Under RomneyCare, the state sanctioned insurance coverage plans are bronze, silver, and gold. Under ObamaCare they are bronze, silver, gold, and platinum.

Worth Reading: Understanding Liberals
Excerpt: The liberal vision of government is easily understood and makes perfect sense if one acknowledges their misunderstanding and implied assumptions about the sources of income. Their vision helps explain the language they use and policies they support, such as income redistribution and calls for the rich to give something back. Suppose the true source of income was a gigantic pile of money meant to be shared equally amongst Americans. The reason some people have more money than others is because they got to the pile first and greedily took an unfair share. That being the case, justice requires that the rich give something back, and if they won't do so voluntarily, Congress should confiscate their ill-gotten gains and return them to their rightful owners. A competing liberal implied assumption about the sources of income is that income is distributed, as in distribution of income. There might be a dealer of dollars. The reason why some people have more dollars than others is because the dollar dealer is a racist, a sexist, a multinationalist or a conservative.

Weak Dollar Responsible for High Gas Prices
Excerpt: The weakening of the dollar since 2008 has added 56.5 cents to the price of gasoline, the congressional Joint Economic Committee (JEC) has found. The average price of gasoline would be $3.40 per gallon, instead of the current average price nationally of nearly $4, if the dollar hadn't declined, says the Weekly Standard. The study of the dollar's impact was conducted by Republican congressman Kevin Brady of Texas, vice-chair of the bipartisan committee, and Republican staff. They blamed the Federal Reserve and its efforts to spur economic growth for the price increase. "Since the Fed launched its program of quantitative easing in late November 2008, the value (trade-weighted) of the U.S. dollar has declined 14 percent," the study calculated. "The declining value of the U.S. dollar has added $17.04 per barrel to the price of oil (Brent Crude)," thus driving up the price of gasoline. The study used several yardsticks to measure the dollar's effect. For instance, while the price of oil has risen 150 percent in the United States since the end of 2008, it has gone up only 96 percent in Canada. The Canadian dollar's value has strengthened in recent years against the U.S. dollar.

Congressional Retirement Benefits Much More Generous Than Private Sector
Excerpt: According to the Office of Personnel Management, the “normal cost” for congressional pensions—that is, the average cost of benefits accruing in a particular year—is equal to 17.9 percent of wages. (The Federal Register lists a normal cost of 19.2 percent, but that doesn’t net out a 1.3 percent contribution from the Member.) However, those costs are calculated using an assumed interest rate of 6.25 percent, higher than 5.5 percent Treasury yield I’m assuming based upon CBO projections. Adjusting for this (see this recent CBO paper to see why these adjustments make sense, although CBO presents it from a macro, budget-side perspective) increases benefit accruals to 22.4 percent of wages. On top of this, federal employees receive a government match to their defined- contribution Thrift Savings Plan account of up to 5 percent of pay. They are also eligible for retiree health coverage, which is worth around 6 percent of wages, according to a 2002 CBO report. Relatively few private-sector employees today receive retiree health coverage, and for those who do it is less generous than in the public sector. So you add together the total retirement package provided by the federal government to members of Congress and it’s worth somewhere around 33.4 percent of pay.

Solving the National Medicaid Crisis
Excerpt: On April 15, the House of Representatives passed a budget that addresses the Medicaid crisis. Introduced by Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R–WI), it repeals Obamacare and its costly Medicaid expansion and puts Medicaid on a more fiscally sustainable path. Ryan’s Medicaid reform ends the open-ended federal reimbursement of state Medicaid spending and allows states greater flexibility to manage their programs without interference from the federal bureaucracy. In contrast, the White House fails to appreciate the Medicaid crisis and instead relies on Medicaid to cover upwards of 20 million more people beginning in 2014. … Unsustainable spending growth, enormous crowd-out of private coverage, perverse incentives that discourage work and financial planning, and cost control mechanisms like low provider payment rates that limit access for enrollees and contribute to a low quality of care have left Medicaid in crisis. Unsustainable Medicaid Spending. Between 1990 and 2010, national Medicaid spending increased from $72 billion to over $400 billion.[1] Federal spending alone has increased from $40 billion in 1990 to an estimated $271 billion in 2010. At the state level, Medicaid spending has increased four times faster than elementary and secondary spending, five times faster than higher education spending, and nine times faster than transportation spending over the past two decades.

Failure to Implement Trucking Provision Proves Costly
Excerpt: In 2007 the United States established a pilot program that allowed hundreds of Mexican trucks to make deliveries within the United States under a rigorous inspection regime. But bowing to protectionist pressure once again, Congress defunded the program in 2009, prompting Mexico to impose legally authorized sanctions on $2.4 billion of U.S. exports, sanctions still in place today, says Daniel Griswold, director of the Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. Experience from the pilot program in 2007-2009 demonstrates that Mexican trucks and their drivers are fully capable of complying with all U.S. safety requirements. An August 2009 report from the Department of Transportation's Inspector General found that only 1.2 percent of Mexican drivers that were inspected were placed out of service for violations, compared with nearly 7 percent of U.S. drivers who were inspected. In February 2010, the Congressional Research Service reported that recent data provided by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that "Mexican trucks are as safe as U.S. trucks and that the drivers are generally safer than U.S. drivers." The failure of Congress to allow implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement trucking provisions has proven costly to the United States in three important ways, says Griswold. First, U.S. failure to comply has deprived our economy of the efficiencies of moving goods across our mutual border at lower cost. Second, failure to comply has exposed U.S. exporters to sanctions on nearly 100 industrial and agricultural products, including meats, vegetables, fruits, chewing gum and chocolate. Third, failure to comply has compromised the U.S. government's reputation as a good citizen of the global trading system.

Stunned Police Find 513 Migrants Crammed into Just TWO Trucks Heading for the U.S. Border
Excerpt: Packed together in the tightest of cabins, with little air to breathe and no space at all in which to move, the migrants in this picture show just how far some will go to try to sneak into America. Mexican police found the 513 agonizingly squashed together in two trucks just outside Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas - an eye-watering 18-hour-drive away from the nearest US border. They were caught when the trucks sped through a vehicle scanner at a police checkpoint. After the astonishing X-ray image came up on screens, police gave chase, finding 240 people in one truck and 273 crammed into the other.

VIDEO: Allen West on GOP Nominee for President
Allen West: 'I don't want the cult of personality on the liberal side to become the cult of personality on the conservative side.'

What a Difference a Debate Makes: Cain Surges to the Top in Latest TheDC/ConservativeHome Tracking Poll
Excerpt: Cain jumped to the top of the pack in terms of electability, taking 13 percent of the vote in the tracking poll, compared to the mere 3 percent he got last time. That puts him right behind New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie – ever the favorite, even though he says he won’t run — who attracted 19 percent of the vote and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who gets 17 percent, a slight drop from the last poll. Cain beats Romney as respondents’ top pick for president – netting 15 percent of the vote, an increase of 10 percentage points from the last poll. As a second choice, he ties Christie for the largest percentage of the vote – 11 percent – just ahead of Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, and a significant increase from the 5 percent he got in the last poll.

Emanuel's planned spending freeze just a first step
The vote-buying bills are due. Paging Scott Walker. ~Bob. Excerpt: Daley's administration pegs next year's shortfall at $587 million, but Emanuel's camp thinks it's probably worse than that. The year isn't half over, and the outgoing mayor's current budget relies on concessions that unions have not agreed to. It does not include the cost of a $30 million legal ruling handed down Friday in a case involving firefighters. Other financial land mines abound. All told, the expected budget hole amounts to one-fifth of the city's day-to-day spending. And that doesn't include dramatically higher pension contributions Emanuel will have to start making during his first term. That could mean an additional $500 million or more a year. ... But many budget analysts say Daley and aldermen also have overspent, with the bulk of the problem caused by long-term union contracts with locked-in raises, rising health care costs for workers and increased borrowing that brought higher interest payments.

Your tax dollars at work
Excerpt: Remember when we were informed by those in power that General Motors (as opposed to the thousands of other businesses in the same dire financial straits at the time) was "too big to fail", which is why those feckless martinets subsequently used our tax dollars (confiscated from us on pain of imprisonment) to acquire 33% of the company? Well, here's the return on our forced "investment": "In late 2010, General Motors agreed to sponsor a propaganda film celebrating the 90th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The CCP made film titled (translated to English) 'The Birth of a Party' or 'The Great Achievement of Founding the Party' is set to premiere all over the Communist nation on June 15 reported ChinaAutoWeb last September." (Gotta keep the Chinese happy--the lent the bailout money to pay off the unions for voting for Democrats. ~Bob.)

Rep. Hunter slams idea to name Navy ship for Cesar Chavez
Excerpt: Duncan Hunter, the conservative Republican who represents eastern and northern San Diego County, today criticized the Navy's decision to name the last Lewis and Clark-class Navy dry cargo ship after Cesar Chavez, the later labor leader and civil rights activist. (Can the USS Che Guevara be far behind? ~Bob.)

Trial Poses New Challenge to U.S.-Pakistani Relations
Excerpt: Jury selection is under way for a terrorism trial in Chicago that could expose involvement by the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI), Pakistan's premier spy agency, in international terror attacks carried out by Islamic extremists. The potential disclosures come as relations between Islamabad and Washington are at a new low following the allegations of Pakistani complicity in Osama bin Laden's hiding. The al-Qaida leader was killed earlier this month after American Special Forces stormed his walled-off compound in the Pakistani military city of Abbottabad. Bin Laden may have been living there for more than five years, and American officials openly question how that could have happened without Pakistan's knowledge. Tahawuur Hussain Rana, a Pakistan-Canadian businessman living in Chicago, is charged with aiding the deadly Mumbai terrorist strike in November 2008.

Unreal: DHS Chief Napolitano Launches Investigation Into Border Patrol Agents For Profiling Muslims…
Excerpt: The U.S. government has launched an investigation into allegations that federal agents at several U.S.-Canada border crossings in Michigan repeatedly harassed, jailed and body searched Muslims because of their background or appearance. In a letter sent this week to a local Muslim group, Margo Schlanger, the head of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties in the Department of Homeland Security, said her office has received accounts of “repeated handcuffing, brandishing of weapons, prolonged detentions, invasive and humiliating body searches at the border, and inappropriate questioning that pertains to religion and religious practices.” The complaints include incidents at the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit and the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron. The investigation comes in response to complaints filed in March by the Council on American-Islamic Relations with the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security. The council said it was concerned that agents were even asking people about their prayer schedules.

Gingrich to House GOP: Drop Dead
My interest in Newt is falling, between this and his pandering to Iowa on ethanol. If America is to survive, which seems increasingly unlikely to me, we need “radical change.” We need painful change. But the alternative will be more painful. ~Bob. Excerpt: The Republican Presidential campaign is off to a slow start, but judging by the last week not slow enough. First Mitt Romney defends his ObamaCare prototype in Massachusetts, and now Newt Gingrich has decided to run against House Republicans on Medicare. They must be loving this at the White House. Asked on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday about Paul Ryan's reform plan, Mr. Gingrich chose to throw his former allies in the GOP House not so much under the bus as off the Grand Canyon rim. The Ryan program "is too big a jump," he said. "I think what you want to have is a system where people voluntarily migrate to better outcomes, better solutions, better options. Not one where you suddenly impose upon you—I don't want to—I—I'm against ObamaCare, which is imposing radical change. And I would be against a conservative imposing radical change."

Excerpt: Last Friday I attended the speech by Newt Gingrich at Art Laffer's annual Investor Conference in Washington, D.C., where Gingrich unveiled his own economic recovery program. This wasn't just campaign rhetoric. The speech was specific, detailed, and comprehensive. Laffer himself, who was central to defining the economic policies that produced the 25-year Reagan economic boom, said regarding Gingrich's economic plan, "The combination of pro-growth tax reform, spending restraint, and sound money will restore robust economic growth with low unemployment and low inflation." Moreover, Laffer added, given the dramatic reductions in tax rates as discussed below, "in due course, the plan should be surprisingly inexpensive from the standpoint of lost revenues given the powerful effect it will have on the future growth path of the United States economy." … President Obama has gotten away so thoroughly with driving the narrative and defining the debate that too many have overlooked what he has already set in store for the American economy in 2013. Already scheduled in current law for that year is the expiration of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, which Mr. Obama has refused to renew for single workers making over $200,000 a year, and couples making over $250,000, disparaging them as "millionaires and billionaires." Also scheduled to go into effect in 2013 under current law are all the tax increases of Obamacare. Together, these job killing tax policies would result in a sharp increase in the tax rates on the nation's small businesses, job creators, and investors for virtually every major federal tax.

Entitlement Sense
Excerpt: Million, billion, trillion . . . and now we’re going to need a word for the unit that comes after “trillion”? Oh, wait, how about “abyss”? I was struck by reader Dolores Proctor’s observation that, until spendaholic government showed up, 140,000,000,000,000 was the kind of number one would find only in a book about astronomy, and even then it would be pretty cosmic. In other words, our spending has literally (well, numerically) burst the bounds of the planet. Ms. Proctor says that if you take $140 trillion and spend a thousand bucks every second from right now going backwards through time, you’ll run out of money in 2400 b.c., just in time for the invention of the abacus, which as a bankrupt time-traveler you happily won’t require. In other words, we have outspent human history.

Obama jumps into Middle East peace talks
Excerpt: Dozens of people cheered candidate Barack Obama outside the Western Wall in Jerusalem as the senator from Illinois, donning a white skullcap, pledged to make an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal one of his highest priorities if he won the 2008 presidential election just four months ahead. Earlier that day, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Obama promised Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that he would "not waste a minute in brokering Middle East peace" when he is president. Flash forward three years and President Obama is struggling even to bring the top players in the Arab-Israeli conflict to the negotiating table as he intervenes personally in the talks. (Gee, maybe they don’t trust him….~Bob.)

Political pressure tainted error-ridden Government Accountability Office report
Excerpt: The report was crucial because it helped the push for strict new regulations at the Department of Education on the for-profit colleges. The most controversial part of the regulations, called gainful employment, is pending at the White House Office of Management and Budget. Suggestions of political influence on the error-ridden report are important because unlike budget scores by the Congressional Budget Office, which lawmakers have learned to game, [the Government Accountability Office] is known for being scrupulous and its reports are trusted on Capitol Hill.

WAR: Spud Industry Resists U.S. Department of Agriculture's Efforts to Yank Potatoes from School Lunches
excerpt: Remember when food was tasty and being a kid was fun? In my own hazy, rose-colored memories of lunchtime at school, we used to eat ice-cream pizza with french-fried sprinkles. Learning was a pleasure.

The Peace Corps at 50: What's a Little Rape, Murder and Brutalization of Women Between Friends?
Excerpt: Deborah Gardner (pictured above) was murdered by fellow Peace Corps worker Dennis Priven, who turned himself in. After stabbing her – 22 times – to death. The Peace Corps reaction? Try to cover it up: “Even after everyone knew it was Dennis, already that effort by the Peace Corps to put the blame somewhere else. And to make things go away,” says Weiss. “That impulse has seized the Peace Corps within moments of Deb’s death.” As revolting as that is, they went one further. The Peace Corps hired, and paid for, the best defense attorney available in Tonga. Priven was found not guilty and the Peace Corps quietly shuffled him back to the United States. Where he lived freely, for decades. Working for the government. No, really:

Hi-Speed Derail in California
Excerpt: California got $3.5 billion in federal money from the Obama administration for its high-speed rail project that will connect San Francisco to Los Angeles. So far, they’ve managed to break ground in an effort to connect two central-state communities so small that one of them is unincorporated, for service that will connect fewer people than live in Anaheim. The project will cost at least $43 billion when it’s done by the most cheery estimates, and that’s only if the state’s High Speed Rail Authority quits drawing more circles around the high desert rather than straight lines between destinations. The Los Angeles Times editorial board, a backer of high-speed rail, says the lesson from the series of failures is that California needs to create another government agency to run high-speed rail.

How about a National Obamacare Waiver?
Excerpt: If you knew a dangerous virus was about to hit America and that you could beg the government for a vaccine, you’d probably do it, wouldn’t you? That’s just what states and businesses alike are doing right now in preparation for Obamacare. But rather than seeking a vaccine, they’re asking for waivers from the law’s onerous requirements. To date, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has approved 1,372 Obamacare waivers, covering 3.1 million Americans. Yesterday, The Daily Caller reported that among HHS’s most recent round of 204 Obamacare waivers, “38 are for fancy eateries, hip nightclubs and decadent hotels in House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s Northern California district.” That’s right: Nearly 20 percent of exemptions from Pelosi’s crowning health care achievement were doled out in her backyard.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn: Liberation's Philosophical Hero
Excerpt: The feelings of the woman don’t seem to count for very much in the opinion of [a novelist called Luis de Miranda], at least by comparison with DSK’s heroic renunciation of the prospect of supreme power in his country. “If the cleaning woman has been attacked, the woman worker had violence done to her, then we are touching on the sublime, in the Kantian sense. . . . A political suicide rather than the death of an automaton or the possibility of a reign unleashed.” The author concludes: This event in New York is a sacrifice, a renunciation of an anticipated excess of power, a gift to the French national interest. In that, DSK, you are heroic. Thank you. It is good to know that the higher drivel is still being produced: By providing easy targets, it makes life so much easier for the rest of us poor scribblers. Actually, DSK as Socialist candidate for the presidency would have been a good thing for France. That is because he is a socialist the same way that Genghis Khan was a humanitarian. Not that the others are exactly red in tooth and claw; they are corporatists rather than socialists.

Middle East Muddle
Excerpt: Two months ago, the administration's dithering about, and then undermining of, Egyptian President Mubarak's government outraged both Saudi Arabia and the kids on the street during the uprising. That "democratic revolution," as the administration persistently called it, seems to have settled down into an ugly accord between the Army-run government, the Muslim Brotherhood and the fanatical salafists -- which the new regime has been releasing from the prisons into which Mubarak very usefully had sent those dreadful men. Killing Coptic Christians, attacking women on the street for non-Muslim garb and other pre-Mubarak attitudes are thus now back in vogue in "democratic" Egypt.

"Shared Sacrifice" Slogan Equates Taking and Giving, Burdens and Benefits
Excerpt: Despite liberal attempts to exploit envy, the real battle of the budget isn’t a class-warfare feud between “the needy” and “the greedy” over who will pay what to whom. It is, rather, the eternal struggle over whether the government should shrink or grow; whether power brokers in the nation’s capital will command less or more of the wealth generated by the private sector. The right choice would seem obvious at a time when Washington already borrows 40 cents of every dollar it spends , and overwhelming majorities agree that the government tries to do too much, wasting billions (if not trillions) through a broad array of inefficient, corrupt, and ill-advised initiatives.

GOP elite see Mitch Daniels as 2012 savior
Top Republicans are increasingly convinced that President Barack Obama will be easily reelected if stronger GOP contenders do not emerge, and some are virtually begging Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels to add some excitement to the slow-starting nomination race.
It’s a sign of the GOP’s straits that the party is depending on the bland, wonkish Daniels for an adrenaline boost.

The Taliban's plan is to undo the Americans' recent gains with the fiercest spring offensive ever --- and that seems to be just fine with Pakistan's ISI
Excerpt: Even before Osama bin Laden's death, Mullah Abdul Qayyum Zakir was working like a man possessed. For weeks the Afghan Taliban's military chief, a former Guantanamo inmate, had raced from meeting to meeting in and around his base of operations, the Pakistani city of Quetta. His aim was nothing less than to field the guerrillas' entire fighting strength at once in a massive spring offensive code-named Operation Badar, in the hope of reversing U.S. forces' recent battlefield successes in Afghanistan. "He is determined to activate every single Taliban for the first time in 10 years," a senior Taliban intelligence officer tells NEWSWEEK. "He's making it clear that no one will be allowed to sit around in Pakistan. Everyone has to get involved or they're out."

Egyptian Saif al-Adel now acting leader of al Qaeda, ex-militant says
Excerpt: An Egyptian who was once a Special Forces officer has been chosen "caretaker" leader of al Qaeda in the wake of Osama bin Laden's death, according to a source with detailed knowledge of the group's inner workings. Al Qaeda's interim leader is Saif al-Adel, who has long played a prominent role in the group, according to Noman Benotman. Benotman has known the al Qaeda leadership for more than two decades. He was once a leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), a militant organization that used to be aligned with al Qaeda, but in recent years renounced al Qaeda's ideology.

Most Pakistanis grieve for Osama: Survey
Tell me again how it’s a “tiny minority of extremists” who have hijacked “Islam, a religion of peace” and support murder of innocents. I keep forgetting. ~Bob. Excerpt: A majority of Pakistanis surveyed in a poll appeared to be aggrieved over the death of Osama bin Laden, with 51 per cent describing their emotions as "grief" though one-third said they were unconcerned by the incident. The nationwide study was released by Gilani Foundation and carried out by Gallup Pakistan, the Pakistani affiliate of Gallup International. The poll covered 2,530 men and women in the rural and urban areas.

Street cleaners arrested in Pope 'plot' were overheard discussing attack
Didn’t get the “Islam is a religion of peace” memo. ~Bob. Excerpt: The caller reported that five men were looking at a picture in the Metro newspaper of the Pope’s motor vehicle and talking about a recent incident where the Koran was allegedly burned. They were overheard saying that a “Christian should be killed for every page that was damaged” according to the report by David Anderson QC, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation. “The view was expressed that whilst the Pope’s vehicle was protected, it could be stopped and that even if he survived, those around him would die,” Mr Anderson said.

Pakistan and NATO Trade Fire Near Afghan Border
But, them being an ally, it was friendly fire. ~Bob. Excerpt: Pakistani soldiers exchanged fire with two NATO helicopters that crossed into Pakistan’s airspace from Afghanistan early Tuesday, the Pakistani Army said, as United States senators increased calls in Washington to suspend or put conditions on billions of dollars in American aid to Pakistan.

Kazakhstan: Suicide bomber targets Kazakh state security building
Didn’t get the memo. If you don’t take anyone with you, how many virgins do you get? ~Bob. Excerpt: A suicide bomber blew himself up on Tuesday outside a regional security building in the western Kazakh city of Aktyubinsk, a police source said, cited by RIA Novosti news agency.

Didn’t get the memo. ~Bob. Excerpt: Ashur Yacob Issa, 29, was the father of three children. He was abducted three days ago. Negotiations for his released failed. This morning police found his body, which bore “horrific marks of torture”. In voicing his outrage, the archbishop of Kirkuk slammed this “inhuman act,” urging everyone to work together to “protect defenceless citizens”.

Govt says no to sharia law
Unfortunately, it was not the US Federal Government. ~Bob. Excerpt: In its submission to the parliamentary inquiry into the government's new multiculturalism policy, The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils has called for Muslims to be granted "legal pluralism". Attorney-General Robert McClelland stomped on the request. "There is no place for sharia law in Australian society and the government strongly rejects any proposal for its introduction," Mr McClelland told AAP.

Waive Me
Excerpt: Hear that? It's the escalating cry of American employers and workers trying to hold on to their health care benefits in the age of stifling Obama health insurance mandates: Gangway! Gangway! Save me! Waive me! Obamacare refugees first began beating down the exit doors in October 2010. As I've documented since last fall, waiver-mania started with McDonald's and Jack in the Box; spread to Dish Networks, hair salon chain Regis Corp and resort giant Universal Orlando; took hold among every major Big Labor organization from the AFL-CIO to the CWA to the SEIU; roped in the nationalized health care promoters at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (whose board of trustees includes health care czar Nancy Ann DeParle); and is now gripping entire states (Maine, New Hampshire and Nevada all recently got in on the act). The latest to catch the waive? West Coast liberals.

The Law of Lower Class Values
Excerpt: Call a spade a spade. There is an absolute lower class culture. The victimization values of this culture create behavior that keeps poor people poor. It is not bigotry or prejudiced, nor is it condescending to call them lower class. They have a culture that is antithetical to creating wealth and accomplishment. This culture blames problems on others as opposed to making accountability a priority. As a result, the victims are discouraged from improving themselves; they are discouraged from working hard for the “man.” It promotes a zero-sum mentality leading to crime, especially theft, and welfare dependence. It disparages educational excellence. It encourages misogyny which leads to the breakdown of the their family structure and contributes to the lack of traditionally successful male role models. I can go on and on. The vast majority of positive accomplishments from this culture revolve around sports and entertainment, especially popular music. Unfortunately even the popular music tends to extol the negative aspects of this culture.

Judaism Got Hijacked
Excerpt: Forget all the caterwauling about radical Muslims hijacking a great religion. The real story of our time is the hijacking of Judaism, the five-thousand-year-old bedrock of the West, by a clique of far-left cranks intent on bringing down the twin towers of Judeo-Christian civilization. These deadly dangerous malcontents would have you believe that Judaism is whatever Marxist codswallop they all agreed to twitter about today. Not so. Judaism is an eternal and unyielding moral code, enforced by a strict but loving God who demands justice. And at its beating heart lies Israel. Don't believe the phony act of "more in sorrow than anger" that these "Jewish leaders" put on as they throw Israel to the wolves.

Chicago, where ethics reform mollifies the crowd
Excerpt: Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley stepped down this week after 22 years in office, making way for Rahm Emanuel, the city's first nonresident mayor. If you want to understand what's wrong with Chicago politics, you could ask the state's Supreme Court why it ignored the residency law and allowed Emanuel to remain on the ballot. But perhaps it would be better to ask Daley about the $1.1 million parachute his campaign donors have furnished him over the years. Daley is not known for greed. Despite ample evidence that his kin and close friends have cashed in on his dictatorial rule, he has never been credibly accused of taking a dime that wasn't his. He has always preferred the raw exercise of power -- legal or not -- over the filthy lucre to which most Chicago politicians succumb. Still, Daley is now a beneficiary of the benighted ethics rules that govern the Prairie State -- ethics rules that then-state Sen. Barack Obama deserves at least some credit for creating.

Why Obama is Just Not That Into You
Excerpt: There's a psychologist who can predict with 91% accuracy whether a relationship will live or die. His name is Dr. John Gottman, and he runs something called The Marriage Clinic. Gottman uses several factors to determine which marriages will succeed or fail. But the main one is this: contempt. If a spouse mocks the other, talks down to him, rolls eyes, or sneers, that marriage is a goner.

US to hit Syria’s Assad with first-ever sanctions for human rights abuses
Sanctions having worked so well with Iraq and Iran. Good politics for convincing the rubes you are doing something, though. ~Bob. Excerpt: The Obama administration will slap sanctions on Syrian President Bashar Assad and six senior Syrian officials for human rights abuses over their brutal crackdown on anti-government protests, for the first time personally penalizing the Syrian leader for actions of his security forces, officials said. The officials said the Treasury Department will announce the sanctions on Wednesday, a day before President Barack Obama delivers a major speech on the uprisings throughout the Arab world with prominent mentions of Syria. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of the formal announcement of the sanctions.

DiMasi witness: Former speaker out to make ‘hay’
Meanwhile, business as usual back in Massachusetts. ~Bob. Excerpt: In an early bombshell today, the prosecution’s star witness in the corruption trial of former House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi testified the embattled pol told him they needed to make “hay” while the going was good. Joseph P. Lally Jr. testified in U.S. District Court in Boston that DiMasi told him they needed to capitalize quickly. “I’m only going to be speaker for so long so it’s important we make as much hay as possible,” Lally said the former speaker told him in 2006 at a Father’s Day golf outing at Pine Hills in Plymouth.

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