Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Political Digest for May 25, 2011

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

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.

Dependency and Votes By Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: Those who regard government "entitlement" programs as sacrosanct, and regard those who want to cut them back as calloused or cruel, picture a world very different from the world of reality. To listen to some of the defenders of entitlement programs, which are at the heart of the present financial crisis, you might think that anything the government fails to provide is something that people will be deprived of. In other words, if you cut spending on school lunches, children will go hungry. If you fail to subsidize housing, people will be homeless. If you fail to subsidize prescription drugs, old people will have to eat dog food in order to be able to afford their meds. This is the vision promoted by many politicians and much of the media. But, in the world of reality, it is not even true for most people who are living below the official poverty line.

Supreme Court: California must reduce prison population
Excerpt: A closely divided Supreme Court on Monday cited "serious constitutional violations" in California's overcrowded prisons and ordered the state to abide by aggressive plans to fix the problem. In a decision closely watched by other states, the court concluded by 5-4 that the prison overcrowding violated constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment. Pointedly, the court rejected California's bid for more time and leeway. … Conservative dissenters, in turn, warned that dire consequences will result, with Justice Antonin Scalia calling the decision a "radical" one that will force the release of a "staggering number" of felons who might start preying again on innocent Californians.

Tim Pawlenty bets on boldness
I’ve long said that no one can elected president telling the truth about how bad things are and what needs to be done. Pawlenty may try. Any candidate who only gives us 50% pabulum is worth supporting against a president who gave us 99%. Or am I too generous? ~Bob. Excerpt: In announcing his campaign for president in Iowa Monday, former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty placed a big bet on boldness. He called for a phasing out — albeit gradual — of federal ethanol subsidies, a move long considered a political death wish in a state with such a large agricultural community. But, Pawlenty didn’t stop there. In his speech he detailed how he will travel this week to Florida — one of the oldest (by age) states in the country — to call for fundamental reform of Medicare and Social Security, to Washington to take on alleged largess in the federal government and to New York to make clear the era of bailouts of the financial industry is over. “Conventional wisdom says you can’t talk about ethanol in Iowa or Social Security in Florida or financial reform on Wall Street,” Pawlenty said. “But someone has to say it. Someone has to finally stand up and level with the American people.” The “speak truth to power” idea — and Pawlenty used the word “truth” 16 times in his announcement speech — is an interesting one for the former Minnesota governor who has often been described as too vanilla or too boring to excite the GOP electorate.

Tim Pawlenty announces presidential bid, offers himself as alternative to Romney
Romneycare and Romney’s boohoo BS about how he regrets not getting to represent our country by wearing the uniform in Vietnam (after telling the Globe in the 1990s he had no desire to serve or go to Vietnam) makes it very hard for me to get behind him. If he gets the nomination, I’ll vote for him. But that’s all. ~Bob. Excerpt: With the wide-open battle for the Republican presidential nomination solidifying, Tim Pawlenty moved quickly Monday to offer himself as the leading alternative to presumptive front-runner Mitt Romney and to seize the mantle of a tough, truth-talking fiscal conservative.
In formally announcing his campaign here, Pawlenty sought to command the space that Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels would have occupied had he decided to run. The former Minnesota governor cast himself as a serious candidate for serious times and presented a bold agenda to substantially scale back the role of government.

Pawlenty Announcing: ‘We May Lose Our Country'
Exactly. I sent him a copy of my book The Coming Collapse of the American Republic, but don’t know if it will get through the screeners to him. ~Bob. Excerpt: After being introduced by his wife, Mary, to a crowd in Des Moines, Iowa, today, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced that he is seeking the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 and said that if political leaders were not honest about the financial problems facing the nation “we my lose our country.” “Politicians are often afraid that if they're too honest, they might lose an election,” said Pawlenty. “I'm afraid that in 2012, if we're not honest enough, we may lose our country.”

A rare Geppetto for Paul Ryan’s assertion on Obama’s hidden top marginal tax rate
Complicated, but worth reading. In short, fact checker says Obama lied, Ryan told the truth. ~Bob. Excerpt: The Pinocchio Test: Paul Ryan’s attention-getting figure adds up and appears credible, so Ryan earns the rare Geppetto Checkmark. Meanwhile, we are going (to) award one Pinocchio to President Obama for claiming that the wealthy would pay “a little more.” That phrase is relative, but the hidden 7.5 percentage points identified by Ryan strikes us as more than pocket change.

Netanyahu repeats: No to '67 borders
I broke my no-TV rule to listen to most of Netanyahu’s speech, wishing we could find a president with his moral clarity and courage. Maybe LtCol Alan West. Of course, back when Obama was community organizing and making contacts in the slime of Chicago politics, Netanyahu was leading men in battle against the enemies of freedom. Gives one a different perspective. ~Bob. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday once again rejected President Obama's call to base the borders of a Palestinian state on those existing in 1967. Addressing delegates of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Netanyahu said a peace deal is a top priority of the Israeli government, but he also drew a sharp line in the sand regarding such an agreement.

Melanie Phillips: Open letter to UK MP for threatening Israel
Dear Prime Minister, I was interested to read that, when you met Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week, you said: ‘Britain is a good friend of Israel and our support for Israel and Israel's security is something I have described in the past, and will do so again, as unshakeable.’ I wonder, therefore, if you make a habit of threatening your friends? For you also said that unless Israel ‘engages seriously in a meaningful peace process’ with the Palestinian Authority, the more likely it is that Britain will endorse the ‘State of Palestine’ for which the PA is expected to seek recognition at the UN in September. This is not the behaviour of a friend so much as the kind of intimidation that is more reminiscent of a Mafia protection racket.

In reminder of al-Qaida’s strength without bin Laden, Yemeni bomber leaves fingerprint behind
Excerpt: The FBI has a fingerprint and forensic evidence linking al-Qaida’s top bomb maker in Yemen to a trio of explosive devices used in recent attacks on the United States, tangible reminders that Osama bin Laden’s death has not eliminated the threat from the group’s most active and dangerous franchise. Investigators have pulled a fingerprint of Ibrahim al-Asiri off the bomb hidden in the underwear of a Nigerian man accused of trying to blow up a plane over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009, U.S. counterterrorism officials said. Investigators also determined that the explosives used in that bomb are chemically identical to those hidden inside two printers that were shipped from Yemen last year, bound for Chicago and Philadelphia.

When Will Scientists Grow Meat in a Petri Dish?
Boy, would this bring out the nuts. ~Bob. Excerpt: It is not unusual for visionaries to be impassioned, if not fanatical­, and Willem van Eelen is no exception. At 87, van Eelen can look back on an extraordinary life. He was born in Indonesia when it was under Dutch control, the son of a doctor who ran a leper colony. As a teenager, he fought the Japanese in World War II and spent several years in prisoner-of-war camps. The Japanese guards used prisoners as slave labor and starved them. “If one of the stray dogs was stupid enough to go over the wire, the prisoners would jump on it, tear it apart and eat it raw,” van Eelen recalls. “If you looked at my stomach then, you saw my spine. I was already dead.” The experience triggered a lifelong obsession with food, nutrition and the science of survival.

Don't Link Free Trade Agreements to Ineffective Programs
Excerpt: The Obama administration and Congress recently began negotiations on three pending free trade agreements (FTAs) with Colombia, South Korea and Panama. While these FTAs would boost economic activity and strengthen ties between participating nations, the administration and many in Congress want passage of the FTAs to be linked to the reauthorization of the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program, says David B. Muhlhausen, a research fellow, and James Sherk, and senior policy analyst, at the Heritage Foundation. TAA reauthorization has been linked in the media to passage of the FTAs because national business organizations, such as the Business Roundtable and U.S. Chamber of Commerce, support the program. This ineffective and costly program provides job training, relocation allowances and unemployment pay for workers who lost their jobs due to foreign trade, while they attempt to shift into new occupations. TAA provides overly generous benefits for only a small fraction of laid-off workers; worse, there is little empirical support for the notion that TAA boosts participants' earnings. Support for TAA costs the business community little, but it saddles American taxpayers with the bill for an ineffective and costly program -- Congress is already borrowing 43 cents for every dollar it spends, and taxpayers cannot afford to pay for ineffective programs. Congress should not link passage of the FTAs to TAA renewal. Instead, Congress can immediately send a clear message that it is getting serious about our nation's dire fiscal straits by letting the entire TAA program expire on February 12, 2012, setting a much-needed precedent that ineffective programs should no longer receive funding, say Muhlhausen and Sherk.

Gassing up with Obama

The Miseducation of America
Excerpt: Wealthy people, on average, save a far higher percentage of their income than their non-wealthy counterparts. Some would argue that of course the wealthy save more, because they do not need as much of their income to cover living expenses as ordinary people. But the data refute this. The propensity to save is a precondition, not a result of wealth. On the other hand, in some professions which demand a higher ‘appearance’ of status – say doctors or lawyers – people tend to live at or above their means. (…) Interestingly, their education seems to play a part in their failure to accumulate wealth. By delaying their entry into the work force through long educational careers, and accumulating consumption-related debt, many of today’s professionals start out in a hole that they never – despite their high intelligence – seem to dig themselves out of. It is telling – and a bit shocking – that even President Clinton (one of the most successful politicians in modern history) – says he did not have a cent to his name before he left the White House after two terms as President. (Williams is onto something here. Over the years, I’ve noticed that the plumbers, electricians, and even appliance repairmen I’ve known seem happier than the doctors and lawyers. They also tended to have more money unless the doctor or lawyer was born rich. Perhaps we should encourage more students to learn a skilled trade. If my toilet breaks, calling my lawyer doesn’t seem to help much. Ron P.)

Gates' Final War
Excerpt: But instead of collecting laurels, Gates has used his last weeks in office to issue a direct warning to his successor, to Congress and to the president. In response to proposals for deep but vaguely defined defense cuts, Gates asks: "If you want to change the size of the budget in a dramatic way, what risk are you prepared to take in terms of future threats to the country?"  The administration and many in Congress seem to view defense as an easy target for across-the-board reductions. Gates is waging his final war against such abstraction. Decisions on defense spending, in his view, must be based on strategy, not on budget mathematics. "Right now, the process is just the reverse," he argues. "Everybody's doing math and not strategy." (We will pay—as always—in the blood of young troops. ~Bob.)

Excerpt: As the current debate over fiscal reform suggests, very few proposals for fundamental changes in tax policy have the potential to command support across the ideological spectrum. The “Fair Tax” is the great exception. Correctly understood, the Fair Tax Act (HR 25, S13 with 67 cosponsors), which would replace almost all federal taxes with a direct tax on consumption, should appeal to conservatives, progressives, and libertarians alike.

Why New York's future is fleeing
For more than 15 years, New York state has led the country in domestic outmigration: For every American who comes here, roughly two depart for other states. This outmigration slowed briefly following the onset of the Great Recession. But a recent Marist poll suggests that the rate is likely to increase: 36 percent of New Yorkers under 30 plan to leave over the next five years. Why are all these people fleeing? For one thing, according to a recent survey in Chief Executive, our state has the second-worst business climate in the country. (Only California ranks lower.) People go where the jobs are, so when a state repels businesses, it repels residents, too. Indeed, the poll also found that 62 percent of New Yorkers planning to leave cited economic factors -- including cost of living (30 percent), taxes (19 percent) and the job environment (10 percent) -- as the main reason. Upstate, a big part of the problem is extraordinarily high property taxes. New York has the country's15highest-taxed counties, including Nassau and Westchester, which rank Nos.1 and 2. (As I have predicted, the productive will continue to flee the disasters states, making their problems worse. The collapse s coming. ~Bob.)

Who ended 'Medicare as we know it'?
Excerpt: In today's special election for the 26th district US House seat in western New York, Democrats are trying out a tactic they're sure to use nationwide in 2012 -- the obscenely false claim that they will save "Medicare as we know it" from Republican efforts to reform it. The truth is, the Obama health law, passed by Democrats last year, already eviscerated Medicare -- though seniors won't feel the effects for some time. And the reform plan Democrats are attacking -- Rep. Paul Ryan's entitlement-reform vision -- would undo much of the damage, while charting a new course to ensure Medicare doesn't run out of money. "Medicare as we know it" can't survive ObamaCare's cuts of $575 billion from the program's funding over the next decade. Just as outrageous is that the Obama law stole $410 billion of those "savings" to expand eligibility for Medicaid. It's like robbing Peter to pay Paul -- but it's robbing Grandma to create a whole new class of government dependants.

Probably just a tourist, the “war on terror” being over, according to the Left, after Obama ordered the hit on OBL. ~Bob. Excerpt: A shadowy man suspected of fighting against US soldiers in Iraq has sparked a far-flung terror probe after entering New York Harbor as a stowaway aboard a freighter and taking up residence in a fenced-off Port Authority warehouse, The Post has learned. Asem Ellbahnsany Haroon, 26, managed to easily infiltrate Port Newark -- where there are just the kind of oil refineries that Osama bin Laden talked about blowing up as part of a global-chaos plot in papers found in his Pakistan hideout. "There have been reports . . . that indicate al Qaeda is trying to use explosive to blow up oil tankers to disrupt the world's economy. What's right next door to Port Newark? All of these oil refineries that line the highway there," said one law-enforcement source.

Explosion hits Iranian refinery just before Ahmadinejad speech
excerpt: The incident did not disrupt Ahmadinejad's speech, which included fairly typical denunciations of U.S. relations with Middle East autocrats and the course of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, according to news agencies. Officials quickly insisted that blast was the result of an industrial accident and not an act of sabotage. Iran's industrial sector has long been riddled by deadly accidents, with train and plane crashes, troubles at petrochemical facilities and other incidents. According to the semi-official Mehr news agency, the explosion and fire were caused by a gas leak, which poisoned oil workers.

Tax cheats among recipients of stimulus money
If tax cheats can serve in Obama’s administration, no reason they don’t deserve stimulus money. ~Bob. Excerpt: Thousands of companies that cashed in on President Barack Obama's economic stimulus package owed the government millions in unpaid taxes, congressional investigators have found. The Government Accountability Office, in a report being released Tuesday, said at least 3,700 government contractors and nonprofit organizations that received more than $24 billion from the stimulus effort owed $757 million in back taxes as of Sept. 30, 2009, the end of the budget year. The report said the tax delinquents accounted for nearly 6 percent of the 63,000 contractors and grantees examined and cautioned that the real number might be higher because the known tax debt does not measure such factors as income underreporting. Among the examples was an engineering firm that received a $100,000 stimulus act contract but owed $6 million in taxes. The IRS called it "an extreme case of noncompliance." A social services nonprofit that received more than $1 million in stimulus funds owed taxes of $2 million.

Virginia, Texas Go Forth With Climategate Challenge
Excerpt: The dispute over climate change and the regulation of certain types of emissions has waged for years, but the issue ratcheted in 2009 when the EPA determined that certain greenhouse gases pose a threat to public health – a finding known as the 'Endangerment Rule." That opened the doors to a range of new mandates, from dictating how many miles per gallon vehicles must travel to imposing new costly upgrades on businesses. Several states questioned that ruling, especially since Congress itself had not legislated limits on carbon dioxide emissions. After all, while the EPA can impose regulations under existing laws – under the Clean Air Act, for instance – it does not have complete authority to create new mandates, especially without following the rulemaking process.

VIDEO: Crowder: Net Neutrality
Excerpt: Steven’s analogy to the postal service is the most apt in this video. Net Neutrality, if applied to postage and shipping, would force the USPS to treat a 50-pound barbell the same as an envelope of less than one ounce. That’s what’s meant by content neutrality. But the analogy is incomplete; thanks to its quasi-governmental role, people more or less expect Congress to control USPS policy. The better expression of this analogy would be that not only would the USPS have to charge the same rate for the barbell and the envelope, but so would FedEx, DHL, UPS, and every private shipping company and courier service in the country. That’s Net Neutrality, which dictates network management policies to private owners of the networks.

Obama's Digital-Age Advantage: Spending 18 months in the full-time glare of electronic media can only diminish his Republican challengers.
No other question floats to the surface of conversation more often than, Who's going to be the GOP's presidential nominee? A big contributor to the Republican party told me his solution to picking a candidate: He'll wait until all the other candidates have been destroyed or defeated and then give to the last one standing. There is wisdom in that, if one thinks the 2012 election will be a referendum on Barack Obama. The goal, then, is merely to nominate somebody fit to be president. Nominating someone presidentially fit appears to be a stiff challenge to a party whose faithful just lost their opinion-poll front-runner in Donald Trump. But the Trump circus—led by a man who'd look good wearing a top hat, jodhpurs and a whip—points to a more serious problem for the Republicans and for my contributor friend: What if the last GOP candidate left standing is . . . no one. … Tim Pawlenty, an articulate and serious conservative candidate, is already being dismissed as "not getting traction"—in May 2011! Today every infant candidacy has to survive being electrocuted in its cradle.

Another phony Vietnam hero?
No relation, as far as I know. ~Bob. Excerpt: On his website, Hall lists a number of qualifications and experiences beneath his photo, including "5th SF SOG A Team Leader, Vietnam." Another page includes an image of an "unofficial" 5th SOG patch from Vietnam -- a skull wearing a Green Beret -- and beneath it reads: "Skip Hall's Unit Patch." But there's a problem with Hall's apparent outrage over phonies: He might be one too. A retired Green Beret says Hall's Special Forces and Vietnam combat claims do not check out.

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