Monday, May 9, 2011

Political Digest for May 9, 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.

Book Recommendation: Dismantling America by Thomas Sowell
Though I have read many of these essays and columns before, you will find more common sense about what is wrong with our politics and culture in this book than in all of Washington, DC. ~Bob.

An especially pertinent essay from the book. ~Bob. Excerpt: Too many Americans take the United States for granted and are too easily impressed by what people in other countries say and do. That is especially true of the intelligentsia, and dangerously true of those Supreme Court justices who cite foreign laws when making decisions about American law. There is nothing automatic about the way of life achieved in this country. It is very unusual among the nations of the world today and rarer than four-leaf clovers in the long view of history. It didn’t just happen. People made it happen — and they and those who came after them paid a price in blood and treasure to create and preserve this nation that we now take for granted. More important, this country’s survival is not automatic. What we do will determine that.

Gas Prices--then and now
Worth watching and sharing. ~Bob.

Understanding the English Defence League
Excerpt: The English Defence League is a non-racist street movement that welcomes people from all backgrounds, any race or religion; our motto is “Black And White Unite”. This is the very cornerstone our organisation is built on. Unfortunately, as we have seen in the past and up to this current day, certain far left movements such as the UAF (Unite Against Freedom) and Turban Campaign can’t stand people standing up to real issues and real concerns. These groups like to play the racist card because they can’t debate us on any platform relating to the imposition of sharia and its clear links with Radical Islam and the hatred and intolerance towards “Kuffar”.

Why Christians Should Rejoice that UBL is Dead and in Hell
Excerpt: Let me go on the record stating that as a Christian I am completely cool with our Navy SEAL Team Six killing Usama. Or is it Osama? Does anyone know? I heard he liked it both ways. Anyway, the only thing that makes me sad about bin Laden’s death, as an orthodox Christian, is that a). It didn’t happen on Christmas or Easter, and b). The rude SEAL Team Six didn’t include me along to pull the trigger. Apparently, the SEALs require those who go on their missions to be physically and psychologically fit to the nth degree and stuff—y’know, like being able to swim like Esther Williams during a hurricane with a wildebeest strapped to one’s back. When they told me that, I was like, “Whatever.” And the SEALs were like, “Pfff.” And thus they chose someone else to whack that wacky bastard. So, I guess I’ll have to settle for seconds and wait to play the forthcoming Xbox video game based on the Abbottabad raid entitled, SEAL Team Six: Who’s Yo’ Mama, Usama? But I digress.

Celebrate Life
In cheering the justified killing of Osama bin Laden, I am not celebrating death. I am celebrating life. The effort which started with waterboarding terrorists to get leads and lead to a double head shot for the monster, will save countless innocent lives, many of them woman and children. That a child, perhaps one close to you will not die in a fiery crash, or that people, perhaps your loved ones, will not have to chose between roasting in a burning building or jumping to their deaths, is a cause for celebrating. Yes, other monsters who love death from the perverted versions of Islam that are growing in the world will step forward to choose murder over life. We must kill them too. ~Bob.

Paul Wolfowitz: Should We Hit Gaddhafi Next?
Excerpt: One of bin Laden's followers wrote that the trouble with democracy is that it encourages people to love life too much and fear death, and to become unwilling to perform jihad. What bin Laden and that writer fail to understand is that there are people who do love life but who love freedom more and are willing to risk their lives for it. It is that love of life—not a hope for paradise—that motivates the brave Americans who have defended their country through the generations. And we now see the same brave love of freedom demonstrated by thousands of Arabs. When Mahdi Ziu, a 48-year-old Libyan oil executive and the father of two daughters, filled a car with propane canisters and detonated himself in it, he did so not to kill innocents but to save people by blowing open the gates of the Katiba military barracks in Benghazi and help the anti-Gaddafi rebellion in that city. “He said everyone should fight for the revolution,” his daughter Zuhur said. “He wasn't an extreme man. He didn't like politics. But he was ready to do something. We didn't know it would be that.” Unlike bin Laden, Ziu died a hero, as have so many others in places like Misrata and Daraa. (Having convinced Gaddhafi that we are his enemy and that backing off from terror and nukes was a mistake, as we are bombing him anyway, we probably have no recourse but to assassinate him as we did OBL, or he will retaliate. ~Bob.)

Holder vs. Holder: When it comes to terrorists, the AG is at odds with himself.
Excerpt: Why does the Obama Justice Department seem to have trouble mounting a full-throated, compelling legal defense of Osama bin Laden’s killing? The problem for Eric Holder the attorney general could be Eric Holder the private attorney. In 2004, Mr. Holder chose to file an amicus brief on behalf of Jose Padilla, the al-Qaeda terrorist sent to our country by bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to carry out a post-9/11 second wave of attacks. In the brief, Holder argued that a commander-in-chief lacks the constitutional authority to do what his boss, the current commander-in-chief, has just done: determine the parameters of the battlefield. By Holder’s lights — at least when the president is not named Obama — an al-Qaeda terrorist must be treated as a criminal defendant, not an enemy combatant, unless he is encountered on a traditional battlefield. It would be useful if staffers at congressional oversight hearings passed around copies of Holder’s Padilla brief. It is a comprehensive attack on Bush counterterrorism, an enthusiastic endorsement of the law-enforcement approach in vogue during the Clinton era (when Holder was deputy attorney general under Janet Reno, who also signed on to the Padilla brief). This might explain why Holder sometimes has difficulty answering seemingly easy questions. That’s what happened this week, when the Senate Judiciary Committee quizzed the attorney general on the lawfulness of the U.S. military’s targeted killing of bin Laden.

$200,000 Lifeguards to Receive Millions in Retirement
Don't bother me with this stuff--I'm busy trying to figure out why California is broke. ~Bob. Excerpt: Next week the city council will decide if cuts are needed to the full-time lifeguard force where last year the top earner received $211,000 in pay and benefits, including a $400 sun protection allowance. In 2010 all but one of the city’s full-time lifeguard staff had annual compensation packages worth over $120,000. Not bad pay for a lifeguard - but what makes these jobs most attractive is the generous retirements. These lifeguards can retire at age 50 with full medical benefits for life. One recently retired lifeguard, age 51, receives a government retirement of over $108,000 per year—for the rest of his life. He will make well over $3 million in retirement if he lives to age 80. (Holey cheese! No wonder those TV lifeguards are always smiling. And I thought they were just enjoying the scenery. Ron P.)

Europeanizing American Space Activities by Stealth
Excerpt: In the name of better managing the celestial environment, the Obama administration seems to be on the verge of imposing new international constraints on the American space establishment, without consultation with the Senate. Sources in the arms-control community inform me that, as part of its National Security Space Strategy released a couple months ago, the White House plans to sign an executive order soon that will compel both the U.S. military and commercial space industry to comply with the European Union “ Code of Conduct” for space activities. The proposed code is partly a response to the Chinese test of an anti-satellite weapon in early 2007, which created a huge mess in low earth orbit. Such concern was further heightened by the accidental collision between an Iridium communications satellite and a derelict Russian satellite a little over two years ago. (…) Historically the U.S., and particularly the Department of Defense, has opposed any treaty banning space weapons, for two reasons. First, there is no current perceived threat of in-space weapons or space-to-ground weapons and hence, no need for such a treaty. Second, co-orbital, direct-launch, or directed-energy anti-satellite technology is so inherently dual-use that it would be unenforceable. For instance, as we saw with the collision in 2009, any satellite can be a weapon, if put on a collision course with another. And as always, such a treaty would have asymmetrical effects, restraining the US while allowing cheating by others. There is also concern that it could establish a precedent for expansion of the principles into other media (e.g., air power). (Oh, goody. Another Executive Order. At least another President could revoke it. Ron P.)

The Torture Question
Excerpt: It’s not a simple matter, not at all. It’s so complicated that it’s what the Europeans call “transversal,” it cuts across established political and ideological lines. Haven’t you been surprised to find presumed righties rejecting aggressive interrogation and presumed lefties accepting it? One of my gurus in things military is David Galula, a French officer who fought in Algeria and then went to Harvard to write one of the classics on counterinsurgency. Before going to Algeria, he hated torture and vowed to do everything he could to end the practice. He never lost his hatred of it — for what it did to the victims and also what it did to the practitioners — but slowly, reluctantly, he was compelled to admit that it sometimes works. This was a terrible realization. (Sodium pentothal was touted as a “truth serum” in the 60s and 70s. It was also used as an easily controlled general anesthetic, especially favored by dentists, into the 90s (that’s where/when I encountered it). While not appropriate for US civil or criminal investigations (5th Amendment, etc.), military use on enemy combatants is neither civil nor criminal (and has no 5th Amendment protection). Even if forbidden for use on uniformed enemies, in what way is this “too harmful” to use on spies and other non-uniformed combatants? Certainly, I suffered no noticeable after-effects. Ron P. No after effects? You used to be young, good looking and in shape. Look at you now! ~Bob.)

Thoughts on a Surreal Depression
Excerpt: Here in Fresno County, in the heart of California’s San Joaquin Valley, the official unemployment rate in February to March ranged between 18.1 and 18.8 percent. I suspect it is higher in the poorer southwestern portions, especially near my hometown of Selma, about two miles from my farm. Since 2000 we have both lost jobs and gained people, and the per capita household income is about 65% of California’s average, the average home price about half the state norm. In some sense, all the ideas that are born on the Berkeley or Stanford campus, in the CSU and UC education, political science, and sociology departments, and among the bureaus in Sacramento are reified in places like Selma — open borders, therapeutic education curricula, massive government transfers and subsidies, big government, and intrusive regulation. Together that has created the sort of utopia that a Bay Area consultant, politico, or professor dreams of, but would never live near. Again, we in California have become the most and least free of peoples — the law-biding stifled by red tape, the non-law-biding considered exempt from accountability on the basis of simple cost-to-benefit logic. A speeder on the freeway will pay a $300 ticket for going 75mph and justifies the legions of highway patrol officers now on the road; going after an unlicensed peddler or rural dumper is a money-losing proposition for government.

Sectarian Clashes Kill 12 in Cairo
Excerpt: Hundreds of Christians and Muslims hurled stones at each other in downtown Cairo on Sunday, hours after Muslim mobs set fire to a church and a Christian-owned apartment building in a frenzy of violence that killed 12 people and injured more than 200. The deepening religious violence in military-ruled Egypt is exacerbating the lawlessness and disorder of the country's bumpy transition to democracy after three decades of autocratic rule under former President Hosni Mubarak was brought to an end in February. Muslim youths attacked a large crowd of Coptic Christian protesters marching from the headquarters of Egypt's general prosecutor to the state television building overlooking the Nile, said Christian activist Bishoy Tamri. TV images showed both sides furiously throwing stones, including one Christian who held a large wooden cross in one hand while flinging rocks with another.

Fannie Mae Losses Big In The First Quarter Of 2011-8.687 Billion!
Excerpt: Fannie Mae (FNMA/OTC) today reported a net loss of $6.5 billion in the first quarter of 2011, compared to net income of $73 million in the fourth quarter of 2010 (which reflected a $1.2 billion reduction to credit-related expenses resulting from the successful resolution of certain outstanding repurchase requests), and a net loss of $11.5 billion in the first quarter of 2010. The change to a net loss in the first quarter of 2011 from net income in the fourth quarter was due to an increase in credit-related expenses, primarily driven by a decline in home prices during the quarter. The company estimates that, although home prices have improved in some geographic regions, home prices on a national basis declined by 1.8 percent in the first quarter of 2011, which had a direct and negative impact on its credit-related expenses. Substantially all of the company’s credit-related expenses in the first quarter were related to the company’s legacy (pre-2009) book of business. While the company continues to work through losses on its legacy book, it expects that the single-family loans it has acquired since January 2009 will be profitable over their lifetime.

Gun-grabber misfire
Excerpt: After the Supreme Court smacked down Chicago’s gun ban last year, the gun grabbers scrambled to evade their responsibilities under the Constitution. Outgoing Mayor Richard M. Daley revised the Windy City’s gun laws to place so many obstacles on the path to gun ownership that few law-abiding citizens would succeed. Now we learn that Mr. Daley wants taxpayers to foot the bill for a team of armed bodyguards to protect him once he leaves office on May 17. Ordinary citizens who just want to protect their families get no such special treatment. Prospective gun owners must file an application for a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card with the Illinois State Police that consists of a check for $10, a passport-size photograph and a 30-day wait for a response. After this, they must take a $130 handgun safety course involving at least four hours of classroom instruction and an hour of hands-on training at the range. Because there are no public ranges in the city, an extra trip to the suburbs is needed.

Just getting in on The Chicago way. ~Bob. Excerpt: President Obama's half-brother runs an off-the-books American charity that claims to support poor Kenyans -- but it lies about its federal status and no one knows how it spends its money. The group, the Barack H. Obama Foundation, was named after the president's father and founded by his sibling Abon'go Malik "Roy" Obama, a 53-year-old polygamist who recently made headlines by adding a third wife -- who's still in her teens. Its Web site claims to have provided drinking water in Kenya's Siaya District, which includes the Obama clan's ancestral village. The organization also says it has completed a madrassa, or Muslim school, and is building an imam's residence. A photo of the tidy little school building is displayed on the site.

UK: Why My Neighbours in Kent Should Not be Denied a Say in the Break-up of Our Nation
Excerpt: Alex Salmond and his Scottish National Party colleagues deserve their moment of euphoria. Careful though they were to avoid campaigning on the issue of independence, they know their cherished dream is close. Replicated in a referendum, Thursday’s Scottish Parliament election result would give the SNP a mandate to abolish the United Kingdom. Millions of hard-pressed folk in England will find it hard to suppress a grin. Among the deplorable consequences of devolution is that taxpayers south of the border understand better than many Scots the true reasons for SNP success. The superb public services and free higher education that make Scotland such a charming place to live are not paid for by taxes raised in Scotland. English taxpayers fund investment in the Scottish NHS that guarantees spending per patient up to 16 per cent or £400 a year higher than in England. Free public transport for pensioners at any time, new schools and free home care for elderly Scots are financed by English families who plead in vain for comparable services.

Muslim Attackers Kill Fifteen Christians in Nigeria
Didn't get the memo. ~Bob. Excerpt: International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that today Muslim attackers killed 17 Christians, including the wife and three children of a pastor, and burned down several Christian homes in the village of Kurum, Bauchi State, Nigeria.

Ariz. Sheriff: Feds Order Release of Illegals to Phony Up Numbers
Excerpt: The U.S. Border Patrol has told its agents to stop arresting illegal aliens crossing the border from Mexico to keep the illegal immigration numbers down, Arizona Sheriff Larry Dever tells Newsmax. He also charges that Attorney General Eric Holder is “holding hands with the ACLU” to protect illegal aliens from prosecution, says illegals are committing “heinous crimes” across America every day, and calls claims that the federal government should be solely responsible for controlling illegal immigration “balderdash.” Dever is sheriff of Cochise County, which shares an 83-mile border with Mexico, and he says his Border Patrol sector is responsible for half of all illegal aliens caught trying to enter the country and halt the narcotics entering the United States.

Dump Pakistan, Embrace India
Excerpt: Yesterday, Pakistan’s top military officer, General Ashfaq Kayani, said his country would not tolerate any more U.S. raids like the one on Sunday that killed Osama bin Laden. Furthermore, the Army chief said any more violations of Pakistani sovereignty would “warrant a review on the level of military/intelligence cooperation with the United States.” It’s high time Washington review Pakistan’s cooperation. In short, America should end its special relationship with Islamabad and fully partner with India. The reason for this fundamental shift became fully evident when American forces killed bin Laden in his purpose-built fortress in the army garrison city of Abbottabad. The al Qaeda leader’s compound was eight times the size of neighboring houses, had few windows but lots of barbed wire, and was on flat terrain, visible from all directions. The place had an 18-foot wall but no Internet or phone connections.

What the GOP can learn from Canada’s Conservatives
Excerpt: The Conservatives’ triumph offers a couple of lessons that may be relevant to U.S. Republicans. One is that smaller-government policies, far from being political poison, are actually vote winners. The second is that a center-right party can win immigrant votes. Conservatives won 35 of 54 seats in metro Toronto, many heavy with immigrants. One tactic that seems to have worked was to circulate videos of Indian- and Chinese-Canadian Conservative candidates appealing for votes in their native tongues. The simple message is that this is a party that likes and respects you. Republicans could do something similar, with Sen. Marco Rubio, Govs. Susana Martinez and Brian Sandoval, and Reps. Allen West, Tim Scott and Quico Canseco, all elected in 2010.

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