Friday, May 6, 2011

Political Digest for May 6, 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.

Excellent column: Victor Davis Hanson: Rules for Killing Rogues
Excerpt: The welcome end of Osama bin Laden at the hands of helicopter-borne American military commandos raises a number of issues. Americans rejoiced at news of the end of this psychopathic mass murderer, and, privately, are probably relieved that he was not to be captured and extradited to Guantanamo. If bin Laden had been taken alive, we might be revisiting the controversy surrounding the Obama administration's failed efforts to try in a civilian federal court bin Laden's subordinate, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed -- the master planner behind 9/11. But what, exactly, are the moral, legal or practical rules in going after terrorist leaders or the savage dictators of rogue regimes? We went into a foreign country to kill, not capture, bin Laden. Was that killing permissible since a firefight preceded it, or because he was a terrorist rather than a head of state? (The Hall Doctrine: Anyone who is not a citizen of the United States or living legally as an invited guest within the territory of the United States, is not entitled to the protections of the United States Constitution. Anyone who attacks freedom or its Vicar on Earth, the United States Constitution, is an outlaw in the original meaning of the term, and, having put himself outside the law, is not entitled to any protections of the law. Any measures taken to defeat him, including assassination by drone or SEAL as ordered by President Obama or Waterboarding as ordered by President Bush are therefore legal and moral. Any attacker who does not operate according to the rules of the Geneva Convention has put himself outside its protections and has no claim on the treatment usual for legal combatants. Any measures necessary may be taken against terrorists who cut the throats of children or behead unarmed journalists because of their religion. I have spoken. Go get ‘em. ~Bob. Hanson seems uncomfortable with the vagueness of our apparent rules for dealing with top terrorists. I agree to this point: we need to know what future—and past—presidents can get away with, and have only one standard for all of them, independent of their political party or popularity with the media. On the plus side, there has never been a “law” that forbade the targeting of enemy leaders, only a Presidential Executive Order. Just for a moment, think like a beancounter. If a President decided to rescind that order, or make an exception to it, as long as the proper paperwork was filled out that would be perfectly legal, wouldn’t it? Ron P.)

Bush Led, Bin Laden Dead, But Where's The Credit?
Excerpt: Osama bin Laden was a) killed by a unit overseen by what New Yorker reporter Seymour Hersh denounced as Vice President Dick Cheney's "executive assassination ring," which was b) sent into action based on intel derived from the now-outlawed "enhanced interrogation techniques," which were c) used on detainees captured during the George W. Bush administration, who were d) being held in now-outlawed "secret prisons" or in the intended-to-be-closed Gitmo. President Obama's deputy national security advisor, John Brennan, confirmed that the death of bin Laden resulted from "a mosaic (of intelligence) appearing over time and by ... people who have been following bin Laden for many, many years." This explains why 81 percent of Republicans give former President George W. Bush "at least some of the credit" for bin Laden's death. U.S. security forces tracked and were able to kill bin Laden through the use of the discredited, maligned, and -- in some cases -- the discontinued terror-fighting policies and practices of Bush.

Do I Hear Cheers for George W. Bush?
Excerpt: Now, of course, we know, that Osama was caught precisely because of those much-reviled "enhanced interrogation techniques," including the dreaded "waterboarding" of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and several other barbarians. Such actions led to the identification of the courier who traveled the dusty byroads of Afghanistan and Pakistan to deliver Osama's many bulls and fatwas to his agents. We also know that the CIA interrogators, whom the Democrats and liberals at the Times wanted to prosecute, spent several years sifting through the information, some reliable some not, to find the one place in this world where the dog Osama was hiding. Doubtless, over these many years, they have been wrong. But this time, they were right, so in the event that some had their careers set back and others destroyed, can we now return these intelligence officers to favor? They performed brilliantly. Maybe we can all get a respite from Hollywood's portrayals of American heroes as brutes.

To Get Bin Laden, Obama Relied on Policies He Decried
Excerpt: While we may not know all the details about and behind this operation, it's fascinating to see how many of the things that made the success of this operation possible were not so long ago decried by many of the president's fans and fellow partisans. For one thing, it apparently would not have happened without those infamous enhanced interrogation techniques -- "torture," according to critics of the Bush administration. The enhanced interrogation techniques reportedly led to identification of the courier who eventually led our forces to bin Laden's hiding place. Critics of waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques assured us that "torture" could not produce reliable information. They were probably right that sometimes such techniques yield false information. But the bin Laden operation shows that they can also produce actionable intelligence.

In bin Laden victory, echoes of the Bush years
Excerpt: As President Obama celebrates the signature national-security success of his tenure, he has a long list of people to thank. On the list: George W. Bush. After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Bush waged wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that have forged a military so skilled that it carried out a complicated covert raid with only a minor complication. Public tolerance for military operations over the past decade has shifted to the degree that a mission carried out deep inside a sovereign country has raised little domestic protest. And a detention and interrogation system that Obama once condemned as contrary to American values produced one early lead that, years later, brought U.S. forces to the high-walled compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and a fatal encounter with an unarmed Osama bin Laden. But the bridge connecting the two administrations has also led Obama to the same contested legal terrain over how to fight against stateless enemies and whether values should be sacrificed in the pursuit of security.

News agency releases graphic photos of raid
Excerpt: On a day when the White House declined to release photos of Osama bin Laden’s corpse, the Reuters news agency released a series of bloody pictures of the attack’s aftermath. Reuters said the images depict the deaths of three men who were with the al-Qaeda leader when he was killed in his Pakistani compound. Reuters said it bought the photos from an unidentified Pakistani security agent who had entered the house in Abbottabad an hour after U.S. commandos raided it. On Sunday, Navy SEALs shot bin Laden to death and took his body with them.

White House goes silent on bin Laden raid
Excerpt: Just days after one of the most heralded covert actions in U.S. history, the White House found itself struggling to tell the story of the dramatic raid and having to justify the legal basis for it. The conundrum mirrored problems that the Obama administration has had communicating its national security approach in the past. From the immediate aftermath of an attempted airliner bombing on Dec. 25, 2009, to the early management of the H1N1 flu crisis, the White House has repeatedly labored to prove its command of inflammatory facts during fast-moving events.

Show me the bloody: Jim Geraghty, NRO Morning Jolt
Excerpt: What's that, Mr. President? The photos are "very graphic"? So was watching people jump to their deaths from the blazing Twin Towers, you hyperactive condescending nanny. About ten years ago, we had a national traumatic experience as we all watched thousands of people die before our very eyes when the towers collapsed. Since then, we've seen Daniel Pearl beheaded, Madrid subway cars blown up, London buses and trains blown up, Bali nightclubs blown up, a Beslan school turned into a massacre site. We've seen enough death and dismemberment of innocent civilians to last a lifetime. So pardon me for thinking that our delicate sensibilities might be able to handle seeing the man with more American blood on his hands than anyone else on the planet missing an eye and with some brain matter exposed. What's that? It might be "an incitement to additional violence"? Show me one extremist Muslim who's not going to go into a violent rage over killing bin Laden, but who will do so if he sees the photos.

Pakistan: Public Enemy Number One Spies, Lies and Terrorists In (Not Much) Disguise
Excerpt: Pakistan has done the impossible: It’s bumped Saudi Arabia from the top slot as America’s number-one enemy. Al Qaeda is, at most, sixth or seventh on the list, a symptom, not a cause. Without Saudi money and Pakistani protection, al Qaeda would be about as relevant as VHS cassettes. Pakistan’s intelligence service (ISI) and its military leadership have managed to hide Osama bin Laden since he fled Tora Bora; continue to harbor and support the leadership of the Afghan Taliban; collude with the savage Haqqani terror network; and nurture a range of anti-Indian terror organizations the ISI created. Iran plays in the terrorist bush leagues compared to our Pakistani “ally.”

Allen West Discusses Bin Laden's Death and What it Means with The Daily Caller's Ginni Thomas
Excerpt: West credited President Obama for successfully overseeing the operation. “You have to give credit to the president and his national security team for not being obtrusive, for giving the military the green light to do what we do best, which is finding the enemy and killing him,” West said. “I think that that is the message that we have to send to this very vicious, very vile, very determined enemy, that we will not rest until we find you and we eliminate you,” West said. “And we will do it in the most violent means or measures necessary.”

The European Media Reacts to Death of Osama Bin Laden
Excerpt: Leading newspapers and magazines in Europe have provided saturation coverage of the death of Osama bin Laden. Although initial media reaction in Europe was overwhelmingly supportive of the American commando operation, media outlets in many countries quickly regained their composure and anti-Americanism has now returned as their default position. European media, almost without exception, have focused particular attention on the news that bin Laden was not armed when he was killed by American operatives. Many Europeans have criticized what they describe as America’s “wild-west” concept of justice. Dozens of European newspapers have published lengthy philosophical essays by sundry intellectuals that examine the morality of bin Laden’s killing. Many argue that bin Laden should have been tried in a court of law. In a reflection of the acute sense of moral superiority that is so common in contemporary Europe, secular analysts who are normally highly disdainful of Judeo-Christian moral codes have gone so far as to accuse the United States of violating the Fifth Commandment, without a hint of irony. (If it’s already this wide-spread in Europe, it’ll be here in a few days. It would be interesting to see if the left really tries to eat its own creation: Obama. Ron P.)

CIA officials: Crucial info in bin Laden capture came from interrogation tactics now forsworn by Obama administration
Excerpt: An al-Qaida suspect who was subjected to harsh interrogation techniques at a secret CIA prison in early 2004 provided his interrogators with a clue — the nom de guerre of a mysterious courier — that ultimately proved crucial to finding and killing Osama bin Laden, officials said Wednesday. The CIA had approved use of sleep deprivation, slapping, nudity, water dousing and other coercive techniques at the now-closed CIA "black site" in Poland where the Pakistani-born detainee, Hassan Ghul, was held, according to a 2005 Justice Department memo, which cited Ghul by name. Two U.S. officials said Wednesday that some of those now-prohibited practices were directed at Ghul. The Obama administration has forsworn those interrogation tactics, and the CIA no longer captures or interrogates terror suspects, the agency says. The CIA has sharply increased the use of armed Predator drones and military commando raids to kill them, or passed intelligence tips to other governments to capture or kill them instead. The current CIA director, Leon Panetta, said it was impossible to know if the same information could have been gleaned without using those techniques, which have been banned under President Barack Obama.

Tell me this is a joke! For the record, “Tuell” is pronounced “Twit.” ~Bob. Excerpt: As if Congress had nothing more important to do, ABC News brings us word that Congress will hold hearings on the use of the code name Geronimo as a reference to Osama Bin Laden: “The hearing was scheduled well before the Osama bin Laden operation became news, but the concerns over the linking of the name of Geronimo, one of the greatest Native American heroes, with the most hated enemies of the United States is an example of the kinds of issues we intended to address at Thursday’s hearing,” Loretta Tuell, the committee’s chief counsel, said in a statement. “These inappropriate uses of Native American icons and cultures are prevalent throughout our society, and the impacts to Native and non-Native children are devastating,” Tuell said. “We intend to open the forum to talk about them.”

Radical Indonesian Muslim Group to Hold Mass Prayer for bin Laden
Okay, we got them all together in one place….~Bob. Excerpt: The Islamic Defenders Front, a radical Indonesian Muslim group in Jakarta, announced plans to hold "a mass prayer for Bin Laden," CNN reports. In a text message to the media, the Islamic Defenders Front announced its prayer service just two days after the world's most wanted man was killed and buried by U.S. special forces. Mourners were invited to “express gratitude to the late martyr Sheikh Osama bin Laden.” The service will take place in Jakarta, the capital of one of the world's most populous Muslim-majority nations on Wednesday.

Osama mission eerily imitates 2003-04 Operation Dark Heart
Excerpt: According to the Obama Administration, higher-up boots on the ground in Afghanistan determined last summer that Pakistanis may not be helping U.S. and NATO forces, but instead assisting the Taliban and al Qaeda terrorists by providing safe havens and tipping them off to planned missions led by the Coalition forces. However, to make that statement plausible, means someone in the military or intelligence didn’t do their homework, because in 2003/04, a plan was hatched by Army Lt. COL Anthony Shaffer entitled “Operation Dark Heart.” He reported that Pakistan officials were not friends of the U.S., and they were playing both sides of the war efforts. In the midst of Intel gathering, COL Shaffer, who was running the Defense Intelligence Agency in Afghanistan, discovered credible intelligence that Pakistan was home to the “al Qaeda Hotel.” Multiple intelligence officers pin-pointed the town of Wana, located in Pakistan about 20 miles from Afghanistan, as a base where the Afghan insurgency would hold-up and re-group.

Excerpt: Usually when governments use misinformation, they use it to make themselves look good. The Obama Administration gets points for originality, insofar as it’s been using disinformation and misinformation to make itself look arbitrary, unlawful, helpless and stupid.

Hero dog helped snare Osama
If true, really disrespectful to Muslims, who consider dogs unclean, like pigs. Obama better apologize pronto. ~Bob. Excerpt: The explosive-sniffing dog was strapped to an assault team member as they took on one of their greatest challenges to date. He was part of the operation in which the elite US Navy Seals lowered themselves down ropes from three Black Hawk helicopters into the terrorist supremo's hideout in the town of Abbottabad, Pakistan, on Sunday. The world's most wanted man, 54, was shot dead by a Special Forces marksman during the raid. Heavily armoured hounds — equipped with infrared night-sight cameras — have been used in the past by the top-secret unit. The war dogs wear ballistic body armour that is said to withstand damage from single and double-edged knives, as well as protective gear which shields them from shrapnel and gunfire.

No resistance in "cold-blooded" U.S. raid: Pakistan officials
And their point is? Personally, I hope he was on his knees, begging like those murdered on 9/11 begged for their lives, and peeing in his robe. God, I envy the SEAL who did the double tap. Since Muslims deny OBL represented Islam in any way, he was not entitled to any respect as a Muslim in life or in death. They should have fed him to pigs instead of the fish. ~Bob. Excerpt: Osama bin Laden and his comrades offered no resistance when killed by U.S. special forces in a Pakistani town, Pakistani security officials said on Thursday. U.S. accounts of what happened have changed throughout the week, and initial characterizations of a 40-minute gun battle have given way to officials being quoted as saying only one of the five people who were killed had been armed. The White House has cited the "fog of war" as a reason for initial misinformation on whether bin Laden -- who was shot in the head -- was armed when U.S. Navy SEALs raided his compound in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad early on Monday. Two senior Pakistani security officials, citing their investigation, said there was no firefight because the inhabitants never fired back. "The people inside the house were unarmed. There was no resistance," one of the officials said. "It was cold-blooded," said the second official when asked if there was any exchange of fire during the operation which, U.S. officials said lasted nearly 40 minutes.

Making Sense of the Syrian Crisis
Excerpt: Syria is clearly in a state of internal crisis. Facebook-organized protests were quickly stamped out in early February, but by mid-March, a faceless opposition had emerged from the flashpoint city of Deraa in Syria’s largely conservative Sunni southwest. From Deraa, demonstrations spread to the Kurdish northeast, the coastal Latakia area, urban Sunni strongholds in Hama and Homs and to Aleppo and the suburbs of Damascus. Feeling overwhelmed, the regime experimented with rhetoric on reforms while relying on much more familiar iron-fist methods in cracking down, arresting hundreds of men, cutting off water and electricity to the most rebellious areas and making clear to the population that, with or without emergency rule in place, the price for dissent does not exclude death. (Activists claim more than 500 civilians have been killed in Syria since the demonstrations began, but that figure has not been independently verified.) A survey of the headlines would lead many to believe that Syrian President Bashar al Assad will soon be joining Tunisia’s Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak in a line of deposed Arab despots. The situation in Syria is serious, but in our view, the crisis has not yet risen to a level that would warrant a forecast that the al Assad regime will fall.

The Camp of the Saints: The Shape of Things to Come
Excerpt: Actually, according to Italian estimates, about 30,000 culture-enrichers have come ashore since the crisis began. But what’s a few thousand migrants here and there? A lot of the refugees will eventually return home. However, we may assume that a substantial proportion of them will climb into the rickety boats and head for Lampedusa. Then, when they get to their destination, they may take the opportunity to engage in a favorite culturally enriched pastime: rioting and burning stuff. The following incident occurred at a temporary camp at the far western end of Sicily:

Navy SEAL honored with warship bearing his name
Timely. ~Bob. Excerpt: Engaged in a frenzied firefight and outnumbered by the Taliban, Navy Lt. Michael Murphy made a desperate decision as he and three fellow SEALs fought for their lives on a rocky mountainside in Afghanistan's Kunar Province in 2005. In a last-ditch effort to save his team, Murphy pulled out his satellite phone, walked into a clearing to get reception and called for reinforcements as a fusillade of bullets ricocheted around him. One of the bullets hit him, but he finished the call and even signed off, "Thank you." Then he continued the battle.

Supreme Court steps into White House-Congress feud over Jerusalem status
Excerpt: Our contributor's child, born in Jerusalem to American parents, was told that his passport must list "Jerusalem" -- without a country -- as the place of his birth. Why? Because America doesn't recognize the Holy City as the Jewish State's capital. Dr. Ari Zivotofsky, and his wife Naomi, found that obscene, particularly because a law of Congress agrees with them. For years they waded through a maddening bureaucracy. Their case, which could potentially have a serious impact on any future Muddle East peace negotiations, was just accepted by the High Court. It's being framed as a dispute concerning the separation of powers within the US government.

Clinton seeks to use Gaddafi’s seized funds to aid Libyan people
Excerpt: The Obama administration intends to use some of the billions of dollars in frozen assets belonging to Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi and his government to provide humanitarian and other assistance to Libyans affected by the ongoing civil war, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Thursday. The move, announced at a high-level meeting here on how to shore up Libya’s bedraggled rebels, appeared to be the first time a country has sought to tap some of the massive Libyan wealth blocked by U.N. sanctions in February.

More oil would mean smaller deficit: By blocking drilling, Obama turns down billions in needed revenue
Excerpt: With the price of oil at more than $100 per barrel, higher gasoline prices are eating into Americans’ budgets. Consumers, however, are not the only ones losing out. The various taxes, lease revenues and royalty payments to federal, state and local governments for oil and gas production on public lands is a significant source of revenue - among the largest sources outside of the personal income tax. Yet, the Obama administration stubbornly clings to a “no new production in our backyard policy” - while blaming oil companies for high prices. The truth is, by the government’s own estimates, due to declining production at existing wells and bureaucratic delays on new wells, the federal government is forfeiting revenues of more than millions of dollars per day. The losses will grow significantly if the federal government does not sell new drilling leases on the Outer Continental Shelf and on other public lands this year. Oil supplies are increasingly uncertain due to political unrest in the oil-rich Middle East, and U.S. budget deficits and the national debt are at all-time highs. Now is the time to expand domestic oil production.

The Coming Euro Crack-Up
Excerpt: A quick review: Some 17 of the 27 nations that constitute the European Union have abandoned their own currencies in favor of the euro. This means they have given up control of their exchange rates and their interest rates, the latter set by the European Central Bank on a one-size-fits-all basis. In fact, it is the state of the German economy, the area’s largest, that dictates interest rate policy for the entire 17-country group. When Germany was suffering under the weight of the costs of reunification, its sluggish economy needed, and got, a low-interest rate policy from the European Central Bank. That eventually proved too stimulative for, say, Ireland, which was in the midst of an inflating property bubble. The creation of the eurozone also led lenders to assume that the credit of every member was just about as good as the credit of Germany and France. So Greece, Portugal, Spain, and Italy could sell sovereign debt at very low interest rates and use the borrowed money to finance an expansion of their welfare statesGreeks, for instance, could retire at 50 if they were in a hazardous occupation such as hairdressing (all those chemicals).

Beyond Good and Evil: Understanding the Role of For-Profits in Education through the Theories of Disruptive Innovation
Executive Summary: The role of for-profit companies in public education--education financed by the government--has attracted increased scrutiny over the past few years. Though for-profit entities such as textbook companies have had contracts with public school districts for decades, recent controversy over what government officials and others perceive as low graduation rates and questionable marketing practices within the for-profit higher-education space has drawn significant negative attention. As this controversy heats up, it is prompting a wider debate about the role of for-profit companies in education--a debate too often characterized by faulty assumptions and misunderstandings on both sides. Many in public education assume the worst about for-profit corporations, arguing that they are money-grabbing entities that will shortchange the public good if it means increased profits. Critics see no place for for-profit providers in American education. Supporters view for-profits as a force for good that can harness the profit motive to attract top talent and scale quality in public education. The government often perpetuates these divides by drawing lines in the sand of what activities companies can and cannot do based on their corporate structures. Despite these views on for-profits, however, the reality is different. Policymakers, officials, providers, and other members of the debate would do well to keep three key points in mind:

Steps toward a Better Health Care System
Excerpt: The U.S. health care system faces criticisms about cost, accessibility and quality of care. While these criticisms are not without foundation, a more productive approach is to ask whether consumers of health care -- and taxpayers in public financing -- are obtaining the highest "value" for the resources devoted to health care. Achieving this objective stands the greatest chance of success if health care markets function well, but market-based reform is neither a silver bullet nor a cure-all, say researchers at the Hoover Institution. Markets will not eliminate growth in health care costs -- an inevitable product of technological change -- or uninsurance. Markets will never solve the problem of how to finance care for the low-income chronically ill. But the power of markets to allocate resources efficiently -- power evident in every other sector of the economy -- is a critical part of the solution. Yet, markets cannot flourish without the appropriate institutional support for consumer incentives and choice, provider accountability, and competition. These needed features are held back in the United States in substantial measure by the unintended consequences of public policies in five areas. Any serious reform of the U.S. health care system must begin by changing these policies: Reform should increase individual involvement in health care decisions. Insurance companies that meet certain federal standards should be permitted to offer plans on a nationwide basis free from costly state mandates, rules and regulations. There is a need for better provision of information to providers and consumers. There is a need for an explicit public goal to control anticompetitive behavior by doctors, hospitals and insurers. There is a need for reforms to the malpractice system to reduce wasteful treatment and medical errors.

On Green Energy: Plainly Not Helping Spain
Excerpt: But the story of Spain’s renewable energy and green job leadership took a series of hits shortly after the president’s speech. In March 2009, researchers Gabriel Calzada Alvarez and colleagues at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos released a study in which they examined the economic and employment impacts of Spain’s aggressive push into renewables. What they found confounds the usual green job rhetoric: The study calculates that since 2000 Spain has spent €571,138 to create each “green job,” including subsidies of more than €1 million per wind industry job. The study calculates that the programs creating those jobs also resulted in the destruction of nearly 110,500 jobs elsewhere in the economy, or 2.2 jobs destroyed for every “green job” created.

Inflation Rate in China Reaches Tipping Point
Excerpt: Despite efforts to rein it in, China's inflation rate has reached a point where it is sparking social unrest. Chinese premier Wen Jiabao's recent comment that inflation is a tiger that "once set free is very difficult to put back in its cage" aptly characterizes the current inflation in his country. The world's second-largest economy faces some fundamental choices if it is to restore stability, says John H. Makin, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. In a new study, Makin makes these key points: China is facing destabilizing inflation; capital has flowed into China must faster than it has flowed out, in part because Chinese residents are prohibited from investing abroad. China's reported inflation rate on consumer goods rose to 5.4 percent in March, but its implied inflation rate is 8.4 percent -- a large discrepancy suggesting that China is underreporting its inflation rate. Chinese authorities have taken some steps to lower inflation, but they may be delaying more drastic measures to avoid instability before the 2012 transfer of leadership. China has the second-largest economy in the world -- accounting for one-third of global growth in 2010 -- so a Chinese hard landing would be very damaging to the global economy.

Obama’s Anti-Energy Policies Are Bankrupting America
Excerpt: Randall Stilley has witnessed firsthand the Obama administration’s job-killing agenda. As the president and chief executive of Seahawk Drilling, he had to lay off 632 employees before filing for bankruptcy — a direct result of President Barack Obama’s anti-energy policies. Stilley’s company owned and operated 20 shallow-water rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. The lack of energy production — a consequence of Obama’s drilling moratorium and subsequent “permitorium” — led to Seahawk’s demise. Now he’s speaking out, sharing Seahawk’s story in a new video from Heritage and the Institute for Energy Research. (In the future, they are determined that everyone will be Green, hungry and poor. Except themselves, of course,. They will still ride in limos and eat well. ~Bob.)

Karl Rove: The 2012 Electoral Math Looks Good for the GOP
Excerpt: The number 270 will come to dominate almost every waking moment for the Obama re-election high command in Chicago—as well as for their counterparts in the headquarters of the GOP nominee next year. Two hundred seventy is the number of Electoral College votes needed to win the White House. Strategists on both sides will obsess on how to cobble together enough states to reach that total. Since the 2008 election, 18 states have experienced a change in their number of electoral votes because of the decennial census. Some (mostly red ones) have gained electoral votes and some (mostly blue) have lost electoral votes. John McCain would have closed the gap by 14 electoral votes in 2008 if the contest had been run under the 2012 Electoral College distribution. Most states are not in play. Mr. Obama will not win Utah and Wyoming, and the Republican nominee will not carry the District of Columbia or Rhode Island. But right now 14 states (with 172 electoral votes) are up for grabs.

Study Captures Electorate "Beyond Red & Blue"
Excerpt: The metaphorical three-legged stool of the Republican base -- national security advocates, economic and social conservatives -- looks more like a unicycle today. In other words, conservatives are more uniformly conservative. Yet the wider GOP coalition continues to disagree on an array of issues, from whether it will require any tax hikes to resolve the deficit to how rapidly the U.S. should withdraw forces from Afghanistan. So reports the Pew Research Center in a seismic new study of the American electorate. Democratic blocs continue to fracture on issues ranging from the impact of environmental regulations on jobs to whether immigration "strengthens society." Pew also concluded that Barack Obama unites Republicans significantly more than the tea party movement, much as George W. Bush once unified Democrats. The report reiterates how extensively economic issues consume Americans. It's a fresh reminder that Osama bin Laden's death, however important historically and geopolitically, is unlikely to significantly alter the 2012 campaign.

Students Clue In To America's Debt Problem
Excerpt: A stunt that went largely unnoticed by the national media might give Americans concerned about the debt more confidence in the country’s future. In late March and early April, students at more than 75 colleges with Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) chapters protested the country’s $14 trillion debt by displaying 40-foot-long “National Debt Clocks” on their campuses. “There is a growing youth movement in this country very concerned about our fiscal future, and we are proud to lead the way,” said Jeff Frazee, YAL’s executive director.

Learning to Love Big Brussels
Excerpt: The photo above really warms my heart, just as I can imagine warming my hands over those lovely synthetic-fabric flames. There’s nothing quite so cozy as a brightly burning EU flag. Those fellows may be in serious violation of EU laws, however. Especially if they are government employees: they may even be required to kiss that flag rather than burn it. In the article below, you’ll notice that a Tory cabinet minister objects to the flag-worshipping orders from Brussels. Unfortunately, the substance of his objection is that “this is unnecessary and pointless red tape.” In other words, if he thought that flag-worship were necessary or had a point in some fashion, he’d be completely OK with it. And that’s from a “Conservative”. God help Britain.

Excerpt: What advice could Spielberg offer to Pelosi? Changing the public’s mind about a woman whose unpopularity was a greater factor in this year’s GOP victory than the virtues of her opponents will require Spielberg to tap deep into his archive of film hits. In the hope of providing some insight into the machinations of this liberal brain trust, here are some possible previews of Spielberg-inspired TV commercials and short films that will air in the future in battleground states:

Bipartisan effort to terminate Mexican cross-border trucking program
Excerpt: Responding to mounting criticism from Americans and the U.S. trucking industry two Congressmen will work together in a bi-partisan manner to terminate President Obama’s stamp of approval that allows Mexican trucks to operate in the United States. A letter addressed to Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, from Reps. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and Daniel Lipinski (D-IL) as well as 42 bipartisan lawmakers urged the Secretary to immediately terminate the cross-border trucking program. The plan was established more than 10 years ago under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that will open U.S. roadways to Mexican truck carriers.

Is Congress Quietly Set for a Jobs Compromise?
Excerpt: Taken together, the provisions included in both the Democratic and Republican plans add up to what could well be a meaningful boost to an economy that is still not recovering as fast as either party would like. On Thursday, the government reported jobless claims jumped 10 percent to 474,000, the highest levels since last summer. Economists are predicting Friday’s report will show the economy added 185,000 jobs in April, slightly weaker than the job growth the month before. So the jobs plans form a blueprint for a bill that could attract bipartisan and bicameral support on Capitol Hill: one that would include simplifying the tax code, closing loopholes, and reducing rates across the board; making tax incentives for research and development permanent; improving training programs for laid-off workers; and incentivizing deployment of natural gas, the fuel attracting the most support from both parties as an alternative to oil. (Odd things have happened before, so perhaps they can occur again in the future. Notice this is coming from the minority in each chamber; not sure what that means, but both majorities may oppose it simply because the other side is for it. Ron P.)

The misunderstood independent
Excerpt: Pew identifies three different kinds of independents. Libertarians and Disaffecteds are 21 percent of registered voters and lean towards Republicans; Post-Moderns are 14 percent and lean towards Democrats. A look at their views on issues shows those three groups can often be among the most extreme on a given topic. Disaffecteds, for example, believe in helping the needy more than most Democrats. Libertarians side with business more than even the solidly Republican Staunch Conservatives. And Post-Moderns accept homosexuality more than most Democrats. The three independents groups are also less religious, on the whole, than either Republicans or most Democrats.

Palestinians kill peace process
Excerpt: Speculation mounted for a few weeks over who, President Obama or Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, would first advance a new strategy for jump-starting negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Now, the Palestinians — as usual, and as should have been expected — have thrown a cluster-bomb into hopes for resurrecting the peace process. Fatah, the overlord of the Palestinian Authority, is reconciling with Hamas, designated by the State Department as a terrorist organization, to form “an interim government.” Though Authority President Mahmoud Abbas hinted peace talks remain possible, Hamas could not have been clearer: “Our program does not include negotiations with Israel or recognizing it.”

Let's face it: none of our environmental fixes break the planet-wrecking project
Excerpt: But this also raises an awkward question for us greens: why hasn't the global economy collapsed as we predicted? Yes, it wobbled, though largely for other reasons. (…) And even if there were an immediate economic cataclysm, it's not clear that the result would be a decline in our capacity for destruction. In east Africa, for example, I've seen how, when supplies of paraffin or kerosene are disrupted, people don't give up cooking; they cut down more trees. (George Monbiot is the Warmist we heretics love to hate. Nevertheless, he has written a good article asking, almost begging, his fellow greens to come up with a “de-carbonizing” solution that would neither bankrupt whole continents nor destroy the ability to mass produce the wealth that makes our lives better than that of savages. Just remember to allow for his CAGW beliefs. There is also an excellent assessment of this by Anthony Watts at this link:

Tales of the Red Tape
Excerpt: Hotels, restaurants, airlines and other businesses open to the public need to make some adjustments soon. The federal government says they must accommodate the animals that help the blind and others with disabilities. Dogs? No, miniature horses. This may sound like a joke, but it isn’t. According to new guidelines issued under the Americans with Disabilities Act, businesses have to modify their “policies, practices or procedures” so that the pygmy ponies can be used as service animals. (...) Welcome to the wonderful world of government regulation. Believe me, seeing-eye horses are just the beginning. (So, a man and his horse go into a bar.... As you read this, recall a few days ago when TOJ ran an article that quoted a Small Business Administration statistic: small businesses pay about $1,500,000,000,000 every year to comply with existing regulations. Question: Where do you suppose those businesses get that money? Did you say “from you?” Very good, class dismissed. Hang the beancounters first. Ron P. When I was a young senator, I was assigned to a special commission on disabilities, which came up with wonderful ideas. I kept saying things like, “that’s not practical,” or “that’s cost-prohibitive.” Made me quite unpopular. This was before the ADA. They went forward over my heartless objections to put innumerable burdens on the public in the name of fairness. ~Bob.)

Excerpt: Part of the success that the Federal Reserve has achieved with boosting up large banks stems from its secretive ability to forge shadow bailouts of residential and commercial real estate loans. The more secretive of the previous two comes from the commercial real estate (CRE) industry. During the height of the housing mania in the United States CRE values were estimated to be worth $6.5 trillion. A hefty sum no doubt and with $3.5 trillion in loans securing these properties, a significant cushion of equity was in place. Yet with the crash in all real estate values, banks were left holding a smoldering portfolio of empty shopping malls, luxury hotels, and in some cases fast food outlets. Today CRE values are estimated to be at $3 to $3.5 trillion putting many loans in a negative equity position reminiscent of many individual homeowners. This issue of bailing out CRE was never discussed openly with the American people because it would have never carried any political muster. So what the Federal Reserve accomplished was to create a system where banks were able to exchange toxic loans in place of U.S. Treasuries without taking up an open dialogue with the public. In other words a clandestine bailout.

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