Saturday, June 25, 2011

Political Digest for June 25, 2011

I’m scheduled all day Saturday, including about 9-10 hours on the highway, so I doubt there will be a Political Digest on Sunday. Oh, stop that sobbing and get a grip! ~Bob

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

Collapse book interview on the Rob Schilling Show
I'm scheduled to be interviewed about my book on Tuesday, 28th June from 1:15 pm EDT until 2:00 pm EDT (That's 12:15 pm CDT to 1:00 pm CDT). Also on the show will be Chet Nagle, author of The Iran Covenant and a former Naval Aviator and former CIA Agent. The show originates from Charlottesville, Virginia, home of the University of Virginia and streams live on the internet. You can get it on the "Listen Live" link at They welcome callers at (434) 977-1070 on their 'comment line.' Mark your calendars. Plan to call in!

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.

Nuclear experts killed in Russia plane crash helped design Iran facility
Ins’hallah, others will be called to paradise soon. ~Bob. Excerpt: The five Russian scientists were among 44 killed earlier this week; no official investigation of foul play has been opened, though Iranian nuclear experts have in the past been involved in similar accidents. The experts - who included lead designers Sergei Rizhov, Gennadi Benyok, Nicolai Tronov and Russia's top nuclear technological experts, Andrei Tropinov - worked at Bushehr after the contract for the plant's construction passed from the German Siemens company to Russian hands. The five were employed at the Hydropress factory, a member of Russia's state nuclear corporation, and one of the main companies to contract for the Bushehr construction. The sources said that the death of the scientists is a great blow to the Russian nuclear industry. The experts were tasked with completing construction of the plant and ensuring that it would be able to survive an earthquake.

Stacking the deck for unions
Excerpt: With the 2012 election season already under way and the president's poll numbers continuing to sink, Team Obama is desperately trying to shore up his labor-union base, courtesy of the now heavily radicalized National Labor Relations Board. Since taking office, Obama has packed the NLRB with veteran union activists, like Craig Becker, previously the SEIU's top lawyer and associate general counsel of the AFL-CIO. That's led to one-sided pro-union decisions like the one trying to block Boeing from opening a new plant in South Carolina, a right-to-work state, saying it constitutes illegal punishment of union workers in Washington state. The NLRB -- founded in 1935 as an independent arbiter of labor-management disputes -- has effectively become an arm of Big Labor.

Important: The Revenue Demands of Public Employee Pension Promises
Politically impossible—let’s just keep kicking the can down the road, and hope the collapse comes after our watch and gets blamed on someone else. ~Bob. Excerpt: We calculate the increases in state and local revenues required to achieve full funding of state and local pension systems in the U.S. over the next 30 years. Without policy changes, contributions to these systems would have to immediately increase by a factor of 2.5, reaching 14.2% of the total own-revenue generated by state and local governments (taxes, fees and charges). This represents a tax increase of $1,398 per U.S. household per year, above and beyond revenue generated by expected economic growth. In thirteen states the necessary increases are more than $1,500 per household per year, and in five states they are more than $2,000 per household per year. Shifting all new employees onto defined contribution plans and Social Security still leaves required increases at an average of $1,223 per household. Even with a hard freeze of all benefits at today’s levels, contributions still have to rise by more than $800 per U.S. household to achieve full funding in 30 years. Accounting for endogenous shifts in the tax base in response to tax increases or spending cuts increases the dispersion in required incremental contributions among state

Long Waits Cost Canadians Millions
Coming soon to a statist-run health care system near you. ~Bob. Excerpt: The national median waiting time in Canada from specialist appointment to treatment increased from 8 weeks in 2009 to 9.3 weeks in 2010. But the measurement of waiting times, or the examination of the absolute delay Canadians must endure in order to receive medically necessary care, is only one way of looking at the burden of waiting for health care. We can also calculate the privately borne cost of waiting: the value of the time that is lost while waiting for treatment, says Nadeem Esmail, the Fraser Institute's former Director of Health System Performance Studies and Manager of the Alberta Policy Research Center. Esmail's estimation of the cost of waiting in 2010 uses a Statistics Canada finding that 11 percent of people were adversely affected by their wait for non-emergency surgery in 2005. This results in an estimate that nearly 1.13 million weeks were "lost" while patients waited for treatment. However, because this estimate is based on the assumption that all individuals face the same wait time for treatment in each specialty/province combination, it is mathematically equivalent to assuming that 11 percent of the productivity of all Canadians waiting for care was lost to a combination of mental anguish and the pain and suffering that accompany any wait for treatment. Multiplying this lost time by an estimate of the average weekly wage of Canadians in 2010 gives an estimate of the cost of the productive time that was lost while individuals waited for medically necessary treatment in 2010. The estimated cost of waiting for care in Canada was roughly $10,043 for each individual among the 11 percent of patients in the queue. That works out to roughly $912 million in lost productivity and leisure time. This estimate assumes that only those hours during the average work week should be counted as lost. Valuing all hours of the week, including evenings and weekends but excluding eight hours of sleep per night, at the average hourly wage would increase the estimated cost of waiting to more than $2.79 billion, or about $3,384 per person.

Congress takes a recess in Europe
What deficit? Business as usual. Both parties are guilty. Junkets were a pet peeve of mine when I was a state senator. In five terms, I took one taxpayer-funded trip—to the garden sport of Springfield, Massachusetts, because a committee I served on held a hearing in western Massachusetts. I drove out and back in one day. ~Bob. Excerpt: Hurry! Hurry! Time is running out to get on a couple of super-fine congressional-delegation trips (codels) to Europe over the congressional recess. We understand that seats may still be available. Did you have a fine time with Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Europe and Eurasia, on his trip just last month to Dublin, Vienna and Prague? Then you might want to sign up for his latest — but it leaves after work on Friday, so get packing. This one goes to Rome for the weekend and then on to Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi. After that you hit the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, and then it’s on to Moscow, with a stop in Lisbon on the way home. You’ll be back “by noon on July 3rd,” our invite says, “to allow members to catch afternoon flights back to their districts,” so you can sit in the back of that festooned convertible and wave at the crowds on the Fourth.

US Rep. Barton to introduce federal bill to make online poker legal, let states opt out
And the losers said, “Shut up and deal.” ~Bob. Excerpt: U.S. Rep. Joe Barton of Texas plans to introduce a federal bill to legalize online poker, hoping to pull the estimated $6 billion industry out of the shadows at a time when its top operators are facing serious legal troubles. The Republican lawmaker told The Associated Press he plans to introduce a bill on Friday that would let states choose whether they want to allow residents to play poker on the Internet.

2nd Academic Arrested in Prostitution Ring
Excerpt: The police in New Mexico made another arrest on Thursday in their investigation of an online prostitution ring said to be run by a New Jersey college professor, taking into custody another academic who is a past president of the University of New Mexico. F. Chris Garcia, 71, a professor of political science at the University of New Mexico who served as its president from 2002 to 2003, was charged with promoting prostitution, conspiracy and tampering with evidence. (I went to the wrong schools. ~Bob.)

The Reckless Folly of the "Undocumented Immigrant"
Excerpt: Time and again, security experts have warned about how jihadists have exploited lax immigration and ID enforcement. Driver's licenses are gateways into the American mainstream. They allow residents to establish an identity and gain a foothold into their communities. They help you open bank accounts, enter secure facilities, board planes, and do things like drive tractor-trailers carrying hazardous materials. It's been nearly 10 years since several of the 19 9/11 hijackers operated in the country using hundreds of illicitly obtained fake driver's licenses and IDs. Most states tightened licensing rules, yet Vargas easily obtained a driver's license not only in Oregon, but more recently in Washington State. He again used a friend's residence to pass muster. Washington State's licensing bureaucracy still does not check citizenship. (In five years, refusing to sell guns to undocumented immigrants will be denounced as racist or Islamophobic. ~Bob.)

AARP and CBO Realize What Democrats Don't -- Debt is Bad
You know the debt situation is bad when even AARP (formerly the American Association of Retired Persons) changes its tune on Social Security. After staunchly opposing any and all reforms for years, the association announced last Friday that it would be willing to consider changes to the massive FDR-era entitlement program. AARP, one of the most powerful lobbying groups in the country with some 40 million members, concluded that it wants a seat at the table when change is discussed, and that meant offering concessions, even if it won't champion them. The association's board recognizes the impending demise of Social Security and felt it couldn't afford to ignore the momentum for entitlement reform that has built for years. AARP was primarily responsible for killing President George W. Bush's partial privatization plan in 2005. So it's no surprise that the debate over its now-softened stance was contentious. Many members were so riled that AARP was forced to walk back a bit with a statement reasserting their complete support for Social Security. It's important to note, however, that no one is talking about cutting benefits for today's seniors. Yet leftists have shamelessly demagogued the issue with that straw man. Their relentless smear campaign is labeling thoughtful reformers such as Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) as extremist. They have ignored the scope of the problem and the facts surrounding proposed solutions. Now that AARP might participate in entitlement discussions, the job for opponents of reform just became tougher. In related news, the Congressional Budget Office released this week its 2011 Long-Term Budget Outlook. CBO now predicts that in one of two scenarios -- depending upon whether the Bush tax cuts are extended or not -- federal debt will reach 101 percent of GDP by 2021, which is two years earlier than last year's outlook predicted. The other scenario, accounting for supposedly increased revenue if the Bush tax cuts expire, shows the debt reaching more than two-thirds GDP by 2021. For the current year, the CBO predicts a deficit of $1.4 trillion, and much of that is because of entitlement spending. According to the CBO Director's Blog, those projections "understate the severity of the long-term budget problem because they do not incorporate the negative effects that accumulating additional federal debt would have on the economy, nor do they include the impact of higher tax rates on people's incentives to work and save." As if on cue, the Federal Reserve issued a forecast for a weak recovery this year and next, despite the federal spending and money-printing binges undertaken over the last three years. Or maybe -- just maybe -- it's because of those things. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke insists, however, "I don't think that sharp, immediate cuts in the deficit would create more jobs," he said. "Deficit reduction is at best neutral for job-creation." So how are deficit-reduction discussions proceeding? Not so good. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ) have withdrawn from talks led by Vice President Joe Biden because, as Cantor said, they have reached an "impasse on taxes." In other words, Democrats insist on raising taxes, and Republicans refuse. Not only do Democrats not "get it" on taxes, but they're actually calling for more spending -- even unabashedly referring to another "stimulus package." How is it that Democrats so consistently come up with the wrong solution?

Unbelievable. From The Patriot Post
"If the Constitution was intended to limit the federal government, it sure doesn't say so." --Time magazine's Richard Stengel, who also asks if it even still matters. Au contraire. Stengel must be the product of some gubmint-run educational institution preaching the gospel of a "living" constitution. Has he ever heard of the enumerated powers or Bill of Rights?

Obama Flubs Speech to Troops By Claiming Dead Soldier is Alive
If Bush…oh, never mind. ~Bob. Excerpt: President Obama flubbed his remarks to troops at Fort Drum Thursday when he told the US Army’s 10th Mountain Division about the time he awarded the first Medal of Honor to someone not receiving it posthumously. The medal, he said, went to Jared Monti. The only issue is that Jared Monti died in service in Afghanistan, and did in fact receive the medal posthumously.

Just When You Thought Our Fiscal Nightmare Couldn't Get Any Worse
Excerpt: I'll make you a deal: I'll quit accusing Democrats of obstructing spending and entitlement reform when they quit obstructing spending and entitlement reform. Now we even have the nonpartisan, sterile, unflappable Congressional Budget Office virtually predicting a "fiscal crisis," yet the Democratic Senate hasn't passed a budget for 785 days. There ought to be a law. At what point will we go into panic mode? Frankly, I can't comprehend how people are so calm now. The major components of this fiscal doomsday outlook are entitlements -- the unfunded promises approaching $100 trillion. We need to restructure those -- radically -- so that we don't lose everything. (Most people are calm because they aren’t paying attention, or think everything works out for the best,” and that our country can’t really collapse. This was thought by citizens of other vanished polities, from the Roman Republic to the USSR. The few of us paying attention who understand it can happen have the calm of warriors in a forlorn hope, girding for a last battle against an overwhelming enemy, because they can do no other with honor. ~Bob.)

Mr. Kelly goes to Washington
Excerpt: I’m trying to understand the criticism of Mr. Ryan’s budget from the side that didn’t even have the courage to pass a budget. To sit there now and rail about Mr. Ryan’s budget, about how it’s so ineffective and how it doesn’t work is, to me, the greatest, most hypocritical statement I’ve heard since coming here. And I’ve got to tell you something… I’m not speaking as a Republican here, I’m speaking as an American. You want to know why the public opinion of Congress is so low? It’s because we don’t listen. If you want to start the reelection campaign and the strategy for 2012 now, that’s fine. But how about we just fix what’s broken? Instead of standing here pointing fingers at each other, let’s quit spending money we don’t have, let’s not keep borrowing money and using our kids and our grandkids as note signers.

Excerpt: In Al Gore’s latest diatribe — lamenting how his climate-change crusade has been undermined by self-interested skeptics — he seems weirdly unaware of the role of imagery in our media-driven society — weird because he himself used to be the past master of the sound bite, the bombastic phrase, and the multimedia publicity campaign that, in part, won him a Nobel Prize and hundreds of millions in green profits. He deplores the Climategate e-mail fraud, but it was as understandable as it was an enormous setback — just as would have been Sarah Palin’s leaked e-mails had they revealed commensurate and conscious efforts at deception. Gore himself took on prophet-like status and wished to equate the global-warming/climate-change religion with his own godhead, and yet he now seems surprised that his movement suffers bad publicity, oblivious that it might be, at least in some small part, also related to his own public hypocrisies, whether the multiple energy-gorging luxury houses he owned, the private jetting and yacht, or the “crazed sex poodle” charges.

Don't Know Much About History
Excerpt: First, the good news: The nation's eighth-graders are doing better in history class. Now, the bad news: They're not doing much better. Gains in test scores are small, made by the lowest performers, and only 17 percent of those tested are "proficient," or competent. It gets worse. Only 12 percent of high-school seniors, who are getting ready to vote for the first time, have a proficient knowledge of history. If you're looking for a tinsel lining, you could point to 20 percent of fourth-graders who are described as proficient, but that means eight of 10 haven't learned very much during their tender years in the classroom The standardized test results known as the "nation's report card," issued by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, are based on tests taken by thousands of schoolchildren in both private and public schools. Such dismal percentages once sounded alarms for parents and teachers, but now mostly get a bored yawn. What else is new? … Who we are comes from what we reject as much as from what we embrace. The problems with our schools run deep, not only affecting how the next generation is learning to make reasoned choices in determining public policy, but how ignorance undercuts pride and patriotism, the sense of America's core identity. It's not merely academic.

Not being Obama is GOP's biggest advantage
Excerpt: Give or take a few days, we are about 17 months away from the 2012 general election, featuring the re-election of the incumbent or the choosing of a new captain for the ship of state. The multifarious campaign engines are revving in earnest as each Republican hopeful essays to sell him or herself to the party faithful as the favorite. Meanwhile, the president endeavors to convince the electorate that his performance merits continuation in office. As an election judge in November 2008, I remember the excitement at the polls. Well before the 6 a.m. opening for voting, the waiting crowd exceeded the number of voters in the most recent election. The majority were young and many of them first-time voters. The draw was the attractive, charismatic candidate with considerable oratorical skill.

TSA officer arrested after items stolen from LAX baggage found in raid
Gives new meaning to, “Don’t touch my junk.” ~Bob. Excerpt: A Transportation Security Administration officer was arrested Thursday morning after authorities raided his home and discovered $30,000 worth of items stolen from suitcases at Los Angeles International Airport, police officials said. Paul Yashou, 37, was booked on suspicion of felony burglary, according to the Los Angeles Police Department and LAX police officials.

Seized Phone Offers Clues to Bin Laden’s Pakistani Links
Excerpt: The cellphone of Osama bin Laden’s trusted courier, which was recovered in the raid that killed both men in Pakistan last month, contained contacts to a militant group that is a longtime asset of Pakistan’s intelligence agency, senior American officials who have been briefed on the findings say. The discovery indicates that Bin Laden used the group, Harakat-ul-Mujahedeen, as part of his support network inside the country, the officials and others said. But it also raised tantalizing questions about whether the group and others like it helped shelter and support Bin Laden on behalf of Pakistan’s spy agency, given that it had mentored Harakat and allowed it to operate in Pakistan for at least 20 years, the officials and analysts said. (…) Harakat has especially deep roots in the area around Abbottabad, and the network provided by the group would have enhanced Bin Laden’s ability to live and function in Pakistan, analysts familiar with the group said. Its leaders have strong ties with both Al Qaeda and Pakistani intelligence, and they can roam widely because they are Pakistanis, something the foreigners who make up Al Qaeda’s ranks cannot do.

President Obama Abuses Nation’s Oil Reserves
Excerpt: When it comes to making bad energy policy decisions, President Obama is a pro. Yesterday was no exception when the Obama Administration announced it would release 30 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR). This is part of an agreement with the International Energy Agency (IEA) to put a total of 60 million barrels on the market in the next 30 days. Another 27 nations will make up the other half of the oil needed. President Obama and the IEA first explained this irresponsible action by noting a supply disruption as a result of the war in Libya. However, this disruption does not justify the depletion of the SPR, and the Administration doesn’t have the legal rationale, either. The White House slightly changed its tune late yesterday when Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters it was meant as protection against increasing gas prices over the summer driving season. Clearly, President Obama is putting politics and polls ahead of responsible governance and a smart energy policy. Even The Washington Post’s editorial board agrees. This morning, in a scathing editorial entitled “The wrong reason for depleting the strategic oil reserve,” the Post argues the White House is likely more focused on a “political emergency” and “the government should not tap the reserve absent a genuine crisis.”

US withdrawal set to leave British exposed
Excerpt: British forces in southern Afghanistan risk bearing the brunt of America's drawdown - unless the current campaign plan is drastically rewritten - because most of the soldiers President Barack Obama ordered home are based in Helmand and neighbouring Kandahar, alongside UK troops. Nato officials said the decision to cut 10,000 American troops by the end of this year and a further 23,000 by September 2012 has left commanders in Kabul frantically trying to work out how they can plug the gaps without losing what they insist are "fragile and reversible gains". Overstretched British troops, who once spanned the length of Helmand, were the prime beneficiaries of Mr Obama's "surge", because the incoming US Marines took control of volatile and far-flung towns.

Mexico Cartels Defy Onslaught
Excerpt: As authorities lauded the capture this week of José de Jesús Méndez, leader of Mexico's vicious La Familia Michoacana drug cartel, the country was faced with a familiar problem: The top kingpin of a drug cartel had fallen, but the violence he spawned had not. Mexican federal police officers on Wednesday escorting José de Jesús Méndez, the alleged leader of La Familia drug cartel. On Thursday, police found a man who had been dragged, tortured and killed on the outskirts of a rural town where the cartel has a strong presence. A day earlier, another man was found dead not far from where Mr. Méndez was held with a message on his chest to Mr. Méndez, likely from enemy drug traffickers.

In Defense of 'Hurtful' Speech
But who will dare speak out when you can be exposed to the costs, financial and emotional, of a court trial. They have chilled free speech, even though he won. ~Bob. Excerpt: I was tried for a thought crime despite being an elected politician and the leader of the third-largest party in the Dutch parliament. Yesterday was a beautiful day for freedom of speech in the Netherlands. An Amsterdam court acquitted me of all charges of hate speech after a legal ordeal that lasted almost two years. The Dutch people learned that political debate has not been stifled in their country. They learned they are still allowed to speak critically about Islam, and that resistance against Islamization is not a crime. I was brought to trial despite being an elected politician and the leader of the third-largest party in the Dutch parliament. I was not prosecuted for anything I did, but for what I said. My view on Islam is that it is not so much a religion as a totalitarian political ideology with religious elements. While there are many moderate Muslims, Islam's political ideology is radical and has global ambitions. I expressed these views in newspaper interviews, op-ed articles, and in my 2008 documentary, "Fitna."

Egypt: Christian Girls Kidnapped and ‘Sold’
Happy “Arab spring” girls. Welcome to democracy. Notice how American feminists won’t say anything about you for fear of being labeled Islamophobic? ~Bob. Excerpt: Two teenage Coptic girls, cousins, were recently kidnapped and then “sold” in Minya, Egypt—the same region where a Coptic church was recently attacked and desecrated. I tried to find this story in English-language media and, as expected, found nothing, except for one report in Al-Masry Al-Youm titled “Clashes between police and Coptic protesters in Minya”—as if that’s the important story (as usual, the media prefers headlines portraying harried Christian minorities as equally culpable as their Muslim persecutors, thereby justifying use of the preferred phrase, “sectarian strife“).

It will get worse. ~Bob. Excerpt: No other group has done as much to keep America dependent on foreign oil as the environmentalists have. After leading successful campaigns against nuclear power and domestic drilling, the green movement may lecture on "oil wars", but it is responsible for most of them. The math of it is very simple. Resource shortages are a major cause of conflict. And environmentalists have dedicated themselves to creating resource shortages in prosperous nations. Their campaigns against nuclear, domestic oil and coal production have been big on self-righteousness and short on consequences. And the consequences are that their scaremongering has not only cost millions of American jobs, it has forced us to keep sending money to Muslim oil states who use that money for domestic repression and international terrorism.

Liberal American Jewish suckers
Excerpt: This week we have been witness to two transparent attempts to sell liberal American Jews a bill of goods. And from the looks of things, both were successful. The first instance of liberal American Jewish credulity this week unfolded Monday night in Washington. At a five-star hotel, eighty Jewish donors shelled out between $25,000- 35,800 to attend a fundraiser with US President Barack Obama. As has become his habit, Obama opened his remarks by talking about his commitment to Israel's security. And as has become his habit, Obama went on to say that it is his job to force Israelis to bow to his demands because he knows what is best for Israel.

Mexican Soldiers Reportedly Cross Border Into US
The military term for this is “probe.” ~Bob. Excerpt: Mexican troops crossed the border into the United States Thursday, KGNS-TV reported Friday. A convoy of three military trucks loaded with soldiers and weapons crossed the border at Bridge No. 2 in Laredo, Texas, the station reported.

Government Involved in Cutting Non-Union GM Pensions?
Video after ad.

House Rebukes Obama on Libya, Weighs Funding Cutoff
“We are not amused.” –Barack I. Excerpt: The House on Friday delivered its strongest rebuke yet to President Obama over his handling of the U.S. military intervention in Libya, refusing to endorse the U.S. operation three months after it began. The House, in a 295-123 vote, rejected a resolution to "authorize" the mission in Libya -- even a limited operation with no ground troops. Only eight Republicans voted for the proposal. Though that resolution is non-binding, it represents the most definitive statement the chamber has made about the conflict.

Mexican president confronts Clinton over fatal border shooting
Excerpt: In response to a deadly Border Patrol shooting by this week in the Tijuana River Valley, Mexico's president confronted Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over the incident, and later demanded punishment for whomever was responsible. An investigation is underway to determine exactly where 40-year--old Jose Yanez Reyes was shot when he allegedly tried to cross the border Tuesday night into the United States. "This is an international incident," said immigrants rights activist Enrique Morones, (AKA, Enrique MORON) founder of Border Angels. That shooting death of a Mexican national by a U.S. border patrol agent later sparked a confrontation between Mexico's president Felipe Calderon and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a security summit earlier this week. (Well, they could stay in Mexico? No, too extreme. ~Bob.)

US imposes economic sanctions on Iran Air
Makes them legit military targets, not that the media would see it that way. ~Bob. Analysis: Iran Air passenger planes have allegedly been used by the Revolutionary Guards to transport rockets and missiles - some of them to Syria. Revolutionary Guard officers are said to occasionally take control of Iran Air flights with special cargo.

Blasphemy sentence
Probably forwarded a link to my blog. ~Bob. Excerpt: IN a case that appears to be the first of its kind, a man has been sentenced to death for committing blasphemy via cellphone text messaging. On Tuesday, an additional district and sessions judge in Talagang handed down the sentence and imposed a fine on a man in a blasphemy case filed with the Talagang city police station in February last year. The circumstances of the case are murky to say the least. The complainant, a resident of Talagang, told the police that he had been receiving blasphemous text messages from an unfamiliar number. The police set up a special inquiry committee which used cellphone data to trace the apparent owner of the number, a resident of Larkana. It is worth questioning how credible the investigation was, particularly given that we live in an era where text messages are forwarded into endless circulation at unprecedented speed. All sorts of material is passed from person to person, sometimes without even being fully understood, and the authorship of messages is virtually impossible to establish.

Revised FBI Guidelines Will Aid Terrorism Fight
Excerpt: Pending revisions to an FBI operations guide could help agents more quickly and aptly perform investigations, including counterterrorism-related inquires, according to former FBI officials familiar with older and current guidelines. The FBI is currently in the process of editing its existing Domestic Investigations Operations Guide (DIOG), which governs the actions of FBI agents. The proposed changes, first reported by the New York Times, would allow agents to perform lie detector tests and trash can searches on potential informants, and search the FBI's database without opening up an assessment, the lowest tier of an FBI investigation.
After the failed $814 Billion Stimulus Democrats Ask For Another
Hard to believe. ~Bob. Excerpt: Democrats in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday called on Vice President Joe Biden to include new economic stimulus spending in deficit-reduction talks as a way of lowering the 9.1 percent jobless rate that is hobbling the economic recovery. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the proposal to the White House, Richard Durbin, the No. 2 Democratic senator, told reporters.

Google Faces Antitrust Subpoena
Excerpt: For years people have been saying that Google has become the new Microsoft—the big bully that has attained an unassailable monopoly and uses its power to push around smaller rivals and gain advantage in new markets. Now it looks as if the government agrees. The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that FTC investigators are going to serve Google with subpoenas and launch an antitrust probe. This is huge news that will affect everyone in tech, especially companies that compete with Google, like Facebook, Apple, Yahoo, and Microsoft.

Upton ‘Close’ to Agreement on Legislation Repealing 2007 Ban on Ordinary Light Bulbs
Excerpt: House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) says that he is “close” to an agreement with sponsors of legislation that would repeal the 2007 ban on the ordinary incandescent light bulb. Upton told bloggers at The Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., Tuesday, that he is working with Reps. Joe Barton (R-Texas) and Michael Burgess (R-Texas) and expects that "soon, very soon" they will advance a bill that would undo regulations that effectively ban the ordinary incandescent light bulb by 2012 – regulations that Upton sponsored in 2007. (Unmentioned in the article is that the repeal will also have to be passed in the Senate (slim chance) and signed by the President (no chance). And, Upton is the SOB who sponsored the ban to begin with. Maybe we should all send him our burned out incandescent bulbs along with a note of thanks for requiring the new twisty lights, candles or oil lamps (those are available, the Amish use them). Ron P.)

Good column: Real leadership sang louder than N.J. unions' tired refrains
Excerpt: The public worker unions know every step of this dance by heart, and they executed it perfectly Thursday. The big rally. The civil disobedience. The songs about the working class. Even the giant inflatable rat, with a sign hung around its waist saying simply: "Betrayal" But this time, something remarkable happened: It didn’t work. The unions, finally, lost a big one. Inside the Statehouse, within earshot of the rally, senators on the budget committee cast a vote that amounted to a punch in the gut. Public workers would pay more for less, bringing their health and pension benefits back to earth.

Who Takes Us to War?: We need a set of rules governing the legality of any future conflicts.
Excerpt: Is the Libya war legal? Under the 1973 War Powers Resolution, it is not. President Obama has exceeded the 90-day period to receive retroactive authorization from Congress. But things are not so simple. No president should accept — and no president from Nixon on has accepted — the constitutionality of the WPR, passed unilaterally by Congress over a presidential veto. On the other hand, every president should have the constitutional decency to get some congressional approval when he takes the country to war. The model for such constitutional restraint is — yes, Senator Obama — George W. Bush. Not once but twice (Afghanistan and then Iraq) did Bush seek and receive congressional authorization, as his father did for the Gulf War. On Libya, Obama did nothing of the sort. He claimed exemption from the WPR on the grounds that America is not really engaged in “hostilities” in Libya. (To be fair, Obama did notify the President of the Senate. That would be Joe Biden….~Bob.)

Good column: The Real Culprits
Excerpt: There is history — a chronicle of human events — and then there is perceived history. So often, the two are wildly at odds. In 1963, a popular Democratic president was assassinated by a Marxist named Oswald, who had actually defected to the Soviet Union and returned to the U.S. with a Soviet wife, was an active member of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, and had attempted to assassinate a right-wing general named Edwin Walker earlier in the year. Yet those who write history found these facts inconvenient. They created a different history in which the “atmosphere of hate” in the southern city of Dallas, Texas, led to terrible political violence. In other words, it was political conservatism that led to Kennedy’s assassination. This perceived history was recycled as recently as the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. ABC’s Christiane Amanpour, interviewing Jean Kennedy Smith, noted that the Kennedy assassination was “eerily relevant” and asked Kennedy to evaluate the “political atmosphere” in the country today.

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