Sunday, May 8, 2011

Political Digest for May 8, 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.

Feds Issue Train Alert Based on bin Laden Lair Info
Excerpt: Federal officials sent law enforcement officials a warning that al-Qaida may be targeting trains in the United States, based on information gleaned from documents at Osama bin Laden's compound after the world's top terrorist was killed. The Homeland Security advisory tells law enforcement officials to be vigilant about train security. The missive is general and precautionary in nature because the information dates back more than a year, and no recent intelligence indicates that such a plot is active, officials said. Federal officials say they have not found reference to specific plots, NBC News reported.

The Waterboarding Trail to bin Laden
Excerpt: Osama bin Laden was killed by Americans, based on intelligence developed by Americans. That should bring great satisfaction to our citizens and elicit praise for our intelligence community. Seized along with bin Laden's corpse was a trove of documents and electronic devices that should yield intelligence that could help us capture or kill other terrorists and further degrade the capabilities of those who remain at large. But policies put in place by the very administration that presided over this splendid success promise fewer such successes in the future. Those policies make it unlikely that we'll be able to get information from those whose identities are disclosed by the material seized from bin Laden. The administration also hounds our intelligence gatherers in ways that can only demoralize them. Consider how the intelligence that led to bin Laden came to hand. It began with a disclosure from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), who broke like a dam under the pressure of harsh interrogation techniques that included waterboarding. He loosed a torrent of information—including eventually the nickname of a trusted courier of bin Laden.

Shifting US story invites disbelief
Like the "DIY Osama Photo." But this event didn't convince me that OBL and al Qaeda had the support of senior members of the ISI. I was convinced of that long ago. ~Bob. Excerpt: This week, The Australian spoke to several senior officials and former officials of different nationalities who have served in Pakistan. All regard it as inconceivable that bin Laden could have been there, unknown to the Pakistanis. As one senior former Indian official said: "It is impossible to live for one day in any cantonment area of a Pakistani military city without the knowledge of the military itself, much less for years at a time." In the analytical community, everyone now privately accepts that bin Laden must have had the support of senior figures in Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence and among other Pakistani intelligence agencies.

The War Continues: Bin Laden’s death is an inflection point, not the end of the war.
Excerpt: On the contrary. The bin Laden operation is the perfect vindication of the War on Terror. It was made possible precisely by the vast, war-like infrastructure that the Bush administration created after 9/11, a fierce regime of capture and interrogation, of dropped bombs and commando strikes. That regime, of course, followed the more conventional war that brought down the Taliban, scattered and decimated al-Qaeda, and made bin Laden a fugitive. Without all of this, the bin Laden operation could never have happened. Whence came the intelligence that led to Abbottabad? Many places, including from secret prisons in Romania and Poland; from terrorists seized and kidnapped, then subjected to interrogations, sometimes “harsh” or “enhanced”; from Gitmo detainees; from a huge bureaucratic apparatus of surveillance and eavesdropping. In other words, from a Global War on Terror infrastructure that critics, including Barack Obama himself, deplored as a tragic detour from American rectitude.

The First-Person Presidency
Excerpt: Most of these first-person pronouns could have been replaced by either the first-person plural (our, we) or proper nouns (the United States, America). But they reflect a now well-known Obama trait of personalizing the presidency. The problem of first-personalizing national security is twofold. One, it is not consistent. Good news is reported by Obama in terms of “I”; bad news is delivered as “reset,” “the previous administration,” “in the past”: All good things abroad are due to Obama himself; all bad things are still the blowback from George W. Bush. Two, there is the small matter of hypocrisy. The protocols for taking out Osama bin Laden were all established by President Bush and all opposed by Senator and then candidate Obama.

ExxonMobil’s U.S. taxes and U.S. earnings – Some relevant numbers for Washington
Excerpt: During the first quarter of this year, our U.S. operating earnings were $2.6 billion. The rest of our earnings – more than $8 billion – came from operations in more than 100 countries worldwide. Here’s a number you won’t hear in Washington: During the first quarter, on those U.S. earnings of $2.6 billion, we incurred tax expenses in the United States of $3.1 billion. That’s right – our U.S. tax bill was higher than our U.S. earnings. That includes income taxes, sales-based taxes and others such as property taxes. But it doesn’t include royalties or lease payments we pay to the government to produce oil and gas on government-controlled lands, which would make the government’s take from our operations even bigger. Another number you won’t hear in Washington, which also puts our earnings into context, is our earnings relative to our sales. During the quarter, we made about 9 cents for every dollar of sales, which is about average for U.S. industries. We earned $10.7 billion in worldwide earnings on worldwide sales of $114 billion. That’s about half (or less) of what companies in pharmaceuticals or computers make, just to name a few. But strangely, there’s not much talk about reducing their tax deductions. (I'd guess most of their stock is held by Mutual Funds, which are large parts of IRAs, 401Ks and Pension Funds. We are all "Big Oil." ~Bob.)

Herman Cain for president?
Excerpt: Okay, so he’s got no former political experience. He’s held no prior political office. That could actually be a big boon at this point. Whatever the reason, Godfather Pizza chief executive officer Herman Cain stole the show at Thursday’s Fox News debate of Republican primary contenders in South Carolina.

Hundreds of militant Muslims stage mock funeral for bin Laden outside U.S. Embassy in relatives of 7/7 terror attack weep at inquest just three miles away...
Excerpt: A protest by hundreds of Osama Bin Laden supporters sparked fury outside the US Embassy in London today as they staged a mock 'funeral service' for the terror leader. Police stepped in to separate the protesters and members of the English Defence League amid threats of violence from both sides. Radicals carrying placards proclaiming 'Islam will dominate the world' branded US leaders 'murderers' and warned vengeance attacks were 'guaranteed'.

Chinese National Arrested for Leading Fake Military Unit in LA
Excerpt: A Chinese national will be in court today after he was arrested for running a phony special forces military unit and recruiting "soldiers" who paid money believing that they would be rewarded with citizenship. Yupeng "David" Deng, 51, gave himself the title "supreme commander" over the fictitious U.S. Army/Military Special Forces Reserve, which donned actual U.S. Army uniforms to participate in drills, march in a parade and visit the USS Midway museum in San Diego, authorities said. "It's very sad that the people he recruited thought they would become citizens by doing this. They thought they were in the legitimate army," FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller told AOL News after the arrest Tuesday. "They were largely blue-collar-type workers he recruited, who would then tell others by word-of-mouth."

The End of a United Kingdom?
Excerpt: The news has flown a bit under the radar here in the United States, for understandable reasons; but the results earlier this week of the Scottish parliament elections are historic. Whether this is good or bad history, of course, remains to be seen. For the first time, and much against the odds and recent opinion polls, Alex Salmond's Scottish Nationalist Party has won an absolute majority in the Edinburgh parliament--something that the Hollyrood system was designed to prevent, and which now puts the future of the United Kingdom itself in jeopardy.

VIDEO: Scottish Election Results: Scottish National Party Secures Surprise Majority
Excerpt: The SNP has secured enough seats to form a historic majority in the Scottish Parliament for the next five years. Alex Salmond's party has achieved 65 seats which means there will be a referendum on independence during the next term.

It's the Economy, Stupid
Excerpt: President Obama received no immediate approval bump from the bin Laden kill, according to the new Newsweek/Daily Beast poll, though the subsequent days may have produced a smallish increase. The Gallup poll released on Thursday shows a six-point increase in Obama's job approval, and the Real Clear Politics average shows a four-point bounce in Obama's job approval rating. And a detailed examination of the Newsweek/Daily Beast numbers show that while Americans accord recognition for what Obama accomplished with the raid, and believe he has been a strong leader, this opportunity to provide leadership is not a validation of his presidency in and of itself. This is specifically true among the group most important to him: Independents, 66 percent say the economy is headed in the wrong direction, and two-thirds say that the country is on the wrong track. Over half (52 percent) say Obama is a strong leader overall, but only 32 percent of Independents say that President Obama deserves re-election, while half say it is time to replace him with someone else. (…) If the president can translate the goodwill he has garnered into leadership on the budget, the deficit, and the debt, he can turn a bounce much smaller than most expected into a lasting political benefit. Short of that, while the expression of enthusiasm for Obama's Osama achievement is real, tangible, and part of his legacy, it just may not help re-elect him in 2012.

C. S. Choules, Veteran of World War I, Dies at 110
Excerpt: Mr. Choules (rhymes with jewels) was born March 3, 1901, in the small British town of Pershore, Worcestershire, one of seven children. World War I was raging when Mr. Choules began training with the British Royal Navy, just one month after he turned 14. In 1917 he joined the battleship H.M.S. Revenge, from which he watched the 1918 surrender of the German High Seas Fleet, the main battle fleet of the German Navy during the war. (…) During World War II, he was the acting torpedo officer in Fremantle, Western Australia, and chief demolition officer for the western side of the Australian continent. Mr. Choules disposed of the first mine to wash ashore in Australia during the war. (The last known combat veteran of WWI, and quite a character. Ron P.)

Why the Balanced Budget Amendment Must Be Stopped
Excerpt: Currently, Washington Republicans are mulling over two versions of a Balanced Budget Amendment. One, sponsored by Sens. Orrin Hatch and John Cornyn, would limit government spending to 20% of GDP and require a balanced budget (i.e., without a deficit) five years after the amendment is ratified. The version introduced by Sen. Mike Lee would be similar, but it would limit government spending to 18% of GDP, the lowest in decades. Both versions, however, are fundamentally flawed and therefore utterly unacceptable. Let me explain. Firstly, and most worryingly, both proposed amendments would effectively undo all the limitations on the federal government currently listed in the Constitution. Goodbye to the principle of enumerated prerogatives, the nondelegation doctrine, and the 9th and 10th Amendments. Both versions would effectively mean that the federal government will be allowed to meddle with, legislate on, and spend money on anything, as long as its total annual spending doesn't exceed 18% or 20% of GDP (whose estimates it could falsify to justify higher spending). This would allow the Congress to legislate on whatever it wants to regulate and spend vast sums of money on programs that should be reserved to the states. And guaranteeing this beast -- the federal government -- even 18% of GDP is obscene. It is not a limited government policy.

Excerpt: Allah attests that the love for Jihad and death in the cause of Allah has taken over my life and the Sword Verses have penetrated every cell of my heart, “and kill all the polytheists [infidels] as they fight all of you”. And how many times I wake from my sleep and find myself reciting this holy verse. If every Muslim would ask himself why did our Ummah reach to where she is [in a state of] humiliation and defeat, his instinctual response would be, because she has clung to the pleasures of life and tossed the book of Allah [Koran] behind its back and it is the only source that has the cure and success in the here and now and the hereafter. The Jews and Christians have tempted us with the pleasures of life and its cheap delights and they invaded us with their monitory values before invading us with their armies. And we were, like women, did not react, because the love for death in the cause of Allah has departed the hearts.

San Diego, California: Terrorist Group Setting Up Near Border: Hezbollah Considered to be More Advanced Than Al-Qaida
 Excerpt: Tunnels the cartels have built that cross from Mexico into the U.S. have grown increasingly sophisticated. It is a learned skill, the agent said points to Hezbollah's involvement. "Where are the knowledgeable tunnel builders? Certainly in the Middle East," he said. Why have Americans not heard more about Hezbollah's activities happening so close to the border?

McRecovery Continues to Erode American Middle Class
Excerpt: It’s turns out to be a McRecovery. The Labor Department announced today the private sector has created jobs at the fastest pace since 2006. “Nonfarm payrolls rose 244,000 last month, the most in 11 months, the Labor Department said on Friday. The private sector accounted for all of the job gains last month, with payrolls rising 268,000, the largest rise since February 2006,” reports CNBC. According to the data, McDonald’s was responsible for the modest gain. “McDonald’s and its franchisees hired 62,000 people in the United States after receiving more than 1 million applications,” the Star Tribune reports.

The SEAL Sensibility
Excerpt: At Camp Pendleton in California, where I did my initial weapons training, we must have fired thousands of rounds at practice-range targets printed with the likeness of Osama bin Laden. To take the real shot, the one that brought down bin Laden, was the dream of every Navy SEAL. The man who got that chance in Pakistan last weekend was a member of the SEAL community's most elite unit. He and the others who descended on bin Laden's lair would have put in relentless practice for weeks beforehand—assaulting mock compounds, discussing contingencies and planning every detail of the operation. Most of the men on that mission had dedicated the past decade of their lives to this fight, and they—and their families—had made great personal sacrifices. Turning on my cellphone last Sunday, I got a text message with the incredible news: "OBL is dead. Hoo Yah!" Within minutes, a tidal wave of messages followed from fellow Navy SEALs and other military and nonmilitary friends. My own thoughts went back to James Suh and Matt Axelson ("Axe"), two members of my own SEAL training class. When Axe was pinned down by the Taliban in a firefight in Afghanistan in June 2005, Suh boarded a helicopter to fly in for a rescue mission. The helicopter was shot down that day and both men died. I thought to myself: Axe, Suh, they got him.

VIDEO: University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh Officials Release Details of Investigation of Professor
Excerpt: An apology [has been issued] from the UW-Oshkosh professor caught on tape urging his students to sign a recall petition. Professor Stephen Richards says he regrets using class time to inform students about recalling a state senator. Recording: "I have two students here who are from the committee to recall Republican state senator Hopper. By signing this sheet, all it's saying is, that you'd like, you're signing it to have him recalled." The recording was made two months ago but just surfaced this week. (Professors used to think their job was to teach students HOW to think. Now it's WHAT to think. ~Bob. )

SEIU drops mask, goes full commie
Excerpt: A May Day rally in Los Angeles, co-sponsored by the SEIU and various communist groups, as well as other unions, reflected yet another step in the normalization of self-identified communist and socialist ideologies in the Obama era. Not only did the SEIU help to organize the rally in conjunction with communists, they marched side-by-side with communists, while union members carried communist flags, communists carried union signs, and altogether there was no real way to tell the two apart. Southern California citizen journalist and photographer “Ringo” was on hand to record the day’s events, and posted a full-length photo essay on his site Ringo’s Pictures. To bring this important photo essay to a wider audience, I present here a small selection of Ringo’s May Day pictures; visit his site to see dozens more photos from the rally.

Republicans Scramble to Avoid another New York special election loss
Excerpt: Republicans in New York may again face defeat in a safe district filled by a special election. The 26th District, formerly represented by “Craigslist Congressman” Christopher Lee, will be electing a new congressman later this month. Three candidates have substantial support in polling. Republican Jane Corwin, Democrat Kathleen Hochul and Jack Davis, who is running as a Tea Party candidate. In a late April Sienna poll, Corwin led with 36 percent of the vote to Hochul’s 31 percent. Davis, however, was supported by a significant 23 percent of respondents.

Department of Education orders universities to lower burden of proof in sex crime cases
Excerpt: The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is going to bat against the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) over what they see as infringements on college students’ due process and free speech rights. In a “Dear Colleague” letter sent to colleges and universities in April, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Russlynn Ali announced new federal regulations publicly funded schools must employ to address allegations of sexual harassment and sexual violence. The new standards most notably lower the burden of proof to prosecute.

Hispanic Voters on the Fence
Excerpt: Candidate Barack Obama ’s 2012 campaign team is set to announce a Hispanic outreach campaign next week, just as President Barack Obama travels to the Mexican border to give a speech on immigration. Hispanics are a key element in his reelection campaign, partly because his support among working-class whites and swing-voters have crashed after two years of lousy economic conditions. But Hispanics’ turnout is low, and their lopsided support for him has tumbled from 68 percent to 54 percent over the last few years.

Charlie Chan and the Mystery of the Mansion Hideout
Excerpt: As the story of the death of Osama bin Laden grows more curious by the day, it's time we call in that legendary Honolulu police detective of yesteryear, Charlie Chan, to visit the scene. With his Number One Son, Jimmy, Chan arrives at the former hideout of the deceased mass murderer, where a small crowd of on-lookers still lingers. This conversation ensues:

In Celebrating OBL’s Demise, the Kids Are All Right
Excerpt: On September 11, 2001, grade school and high school children around the country saw giant jets crash into two 100-story skyscrapers. They saw those towers, with thousands of people still inside, collapse one after the other into horrible and previously unimaginable heaps. They saw the carnage at the Pentagon, and they heard about how Flight 93′s heroes died preventing an additional attack targeting either the White House or our Capitol. Children shouldn’t have to see these things, but it was of course unavoidable. Many of them, especially in and around New York and Washington, either lost relatives or dear friends that day, or know someone who did. Unlike the Kennedy assassination which shook the baby boomers, the September 11 generation saw it all unfold in real time. Unlike the kids who saw the Challenger explosion live in 1986, everyone who witnessed 9/11 in school soon learned that the building takedowns were acts of war perpetrated by an unprecedented type of enemy. This enemy had and still has no respect for life, not even their own. This enemy was and still is bent on destroying Western civilization and taking the world back to a seventh century existence which would enslave everyone who won’t subscribe to their oppressive Islamofascist belief system. This enemy recognizes no norms of conflict, will kill anyone and everyone they can in the process, and will broadcast and brag about their murderous “accomplishments” in the hope of instilling fear and anxiety in everyone else. (I admit I didn’t run out in the street to celebrate. I drank a beer sitting on my couch watching the news with a very soul-satisfied feeling in my mind. I would’ve cheerfully gone on that raid, but I’m so old, fat, and slow, I’d have been more trouble than I was worth. But, I would’ve gone even if I knew I wouldn’t return. Unlike in other countries we can think of, nobody organized these celebrations of “justice done.” While there may be satisfaction in the execution of a murderer, there is no dignity in celebrating the murderer’s death—but there is both dignity and justification in celebrating the exacting of valid retribution. Ron P.)

Is Obama A Gunrunner?
Excerpt: Under a program run by the Justice Department, weapons were knowingly sold to criminals suspected of links to Mexican drug cartels, with two guns ending up at the murder scene of a border patrol agent. Considering how this administration has made a cause celebre out of gun control, the revelation of a program run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), in which weapons were transferred on purpose to Mexican drug cartels and criminals and then lost track of, is at best embarrassing and at worst an unconscionable dereliction of duty. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Attorney General Eric Holder, among others, have blamed the rising violence in Mexico by the drug cartels on the transfer of weapons from the U.S. by unscrupulous gun dealers and their "straw buyers" — purchasers who may have legitimate credentials and purchase guns for those who can't legally obtain them.

Tinhorn Treatment
Free Press: Is the U.S. really still the leader of the Free World? A string of attacks on the press by the White House press office is starting to add up to more than hostility to individual outlets. It's raising freedom-of-speech issues. All of which is ironic, given the fawning coverage President Obama has received. Alas, it's likely that a corrupted press — from the JournoList collaboration of media and political operatives to ABC's rollover of its schedule for Obama are at the root of the growing hostility toward a free, independent and balanced Fourth Estate. With an amen corner, the president's men launched unprecedented attacks, starting with media dissidents such as Fox News and Rush Limbaugh. Now the White House press office is growing bolder.

Obama's 'Gangster Politics'
Excerpt: President Obama has officially kicked off his 2012 re-election campaign, and don't Republicans know it. The president is expected any day now to sign an executive order that routs 70 years of efforts to get politics out of official federal business. Under the order, all companies (and their officers) would be required to list their political donations as a condition to bidding for government contracts. Companies can bid and lose out for the sin of donating to Republicans. Or they can protect their livelihoods by halting donations to the GOP altogether—which is the White House's real aim. Think of it as "not-pay to play."

Drones Target Yemeni Cleric Anwar al-Awlaki
 Excerpt: The U.S. launched a drone strike in Yemen on Thursday aimed at killing Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born radical cleric suspected of orchestrating terrorist attacks in the U.S, but he evaded the missile, Yemeni and U.S. officials said. The attack came days after a U.S. Navy SEALs team killed Osama bin Laden at a compound in Pakistan. Had Thursday's strike succeeded, the U.S. would have killed two of the most-wanted terrorists in a week. (Good thing we have Obama in office. Imagine what the media would say if Bush ordered the killing of an American citizen without trial. ~Bob.)

Muslims hold mock funeral for bin Laden in London, threatening revenge and waving signs proclaiming "Islam will dominate the world"
Excerpt: The pictures really speak for themselves. This spectacle was organized by Anjem Chaudary, and it's worth repeating that he lives on £25,000 in benefits. Don't curse the kuffar with your mouth full, "Andy."

New Osama urges UK terror blitz
Excerpt: Yemen-based Anwar al-Awlaki - tipped as Osama Bin Laden's successor - urged a Mumbai-style massacre after being duped by a Sun sting. Security services were last night studying our dossier on his drive to recruit fanatics in the UK over the internet.

Truth vs. Ideology
Excerpt: Frustrating! That's the appropriate word for what is happening in the wake of the Osama bin Laden raid. Besides the precision of the Navy SEALs, the big story to emerge from the action is that coerced interrogation gave the CIA vital information used to track bin Laden to his lair. Current CIA Chief Leon Panetta has confirmed that. Of course, that exposition is embarrassing to the left, including President Obama, Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Clinton, who are all on record as saying coerced interrogation does not work. Apparently, they were wrong in a big way. The nails-on-the-blackboard part of this story is that some liberal pundits are trying to deny the undeniable. The spin they are using is that a "mosaic" of intelligence led the CIA to bin Laden. It was not just waterboarding or whatever. To paraphrase Panetta: We'll never know if we could have gotten the same intel without the water. That's true, but who cares?

Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Will Muslim Brotherhood Succeed Where Osama bin Laden Failed?
Excerpt: Unlike Al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood has evolved and learned the hard way that the use of violence will be met with superior violence by state actors. The clever thing to do, it now turns out, was to be patient and invest in a bottom-up movement rather than a commando structure that risked being wiped out by stronger forces. Besides, the gradualist approach is far more likely to win the prize of state power. All that Khomeini did before he came to power in Iran was to preach the merits of a society based on Islamic law. He did not engage in terrorism. Yet he and his followers took over Iran – a feat far greater than bin Laden ever achieved. In Iran the violence came later. The point is that fighting violent extremists is only part of the battle; perhaps the easier part. The bigger challenge may be to deal with those Islamists who are willing to play a longer game.

Mark Steyn: Why Pakistan Knew It Could Hide Osama
Excerpt: In the fall of 2001, discussing the collapse of the Taliban, Thomas Friedman, the in-house thinker at The New York Times, offered this bit of cartoon analysis: "For all the talk about the vaunted Afghan fighters, this was a war between the Jetsons and the Flintstones – and the Jetsons won and the Flintstones know it." But they didn't, did they? The Flintstones retreated to their caves, bided their time, and a decade later the Jetsons are desperate to negotiate their way out. When it comes to instructive analogies, I prefer Khartoum to cartoons. If it took America a decade to avenge the dead of 9/11, it took Britain 13 years to avenge their defeat in Sudan in 1884. But, after Kitchener slaughtered the jihadists of the day at the Battle of Omdurman in 1897, he made a point of digging up their leader the Mahdi, chopping off his head and keeping it as a souvenir. The Sudanese got the message.

Michael Moore Says Bin Laden ‘Executed,’ Not Killed: ‘He Won’
Excerpt: Michael Moore is back at it. This time, his target is the Obama administration.

No comments:

Post a Comment