Friday, June 3, 2011

Political Digest for June 3, 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.

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

For those who want further information about the topics covered in this blog, I recommend the following sites. I will add to this as I find additional good sources.

Best older posts for new blog readers

Anthony Weiner, Twitter and the 2013 New York mayoral race
Give him a break. I mean, what Congressman doesn’t have pictures of his, ah, package floating around the Internet. How could he know if it was a fake, or one of the real ones? ~Bob. Excerpt: In the immediate aftermath of the picture, which depicts a man’s underwear-clad groin, surfacing, the New York Democrat insisted his account had been hacked. But, he has grown more vague — and combative — in recent days, an approach that has stoked suspicion and led some New York Democrats to speculate about the damage he could be doing to his expected mayoral bid in two years time. In an interview with NBC’s Luke Russert Wednesday, Weiner would not comment on whether the image in question was of him. “I can’t say with certitude,” he said. “My system was hacked. Pictures can be manipulated. Pictures can be dropped in and inserted.”

Weiner's Penis Photo Dispute To Be Settled In Small
Claims Court
Brutal but funny. ~ Bob. Excerpt: Sometimes I wonder if Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., is too nice for his own good. An evil swine hacks into Weiner's Twitter account and posts an embarrassing photo of spindly legs topped by a small erect penis draped in dingy gray briefs no male over the age of 11 would wear -- and Anthony just wants to forget the whole thing! Instead of angrily demanding an investigation like anyone else would, Anthony has gone all St. Francis of Assisi on us. He doesn't want an investigation! How big-hearted is that? Talk about a forgiving nature! He's almost too magnanimous. I wish I had that kind of forbearance.

Fact Checker: Wasserman Schultz’s bogus claim that the GOP Medicare plan will ‘throw you to the wolves’
Excerpt: Neither of those claims are true. The system as envisioned by Republicans would operate much like the Medicare prescription drug plan currently does.

Ryan to Obama: 'Leadership should come from the top’
Excerpt: Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) confronted President Obama over his attack on the Republican budget plan at a White House meeting, saying he wanted to “clear the air” amid a deficit debate marred by partisan rancor. Lawmakers said the most dramatic moment of the more than one-hour meeting described by GOP leaders as “frank” and “productive” came when Ryan, the author of the GOP budget, told the president he was wrong to characterize Republicans of turning their backs on children and senior citizens. Ryan said to Obama, “Leadership should come from the top,” Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said in describing the exchange. Ryan also called out the president for his speech at George Washington University in April, where he castigated the Republican budget in harsh terms while Ryan sat just a few feet away.

Poll: Faltering GOP Medicare proposal fueling support for Dems' health law
Hopeless. Obamacare guts Medicare and they have convinced the public that the GOP wants to gut Medicare. Just let the damn thing collapse in financial ruin. ~Bob. Excerpt: The Republican plan to overhaul Medicare is so unpopular that it has increased support for Democrats' healthcare reform law, according to a new poll for the liberal Herndon Alliance. Like most other polls, this one found that respondents are split over the law: 42 percent support it as it stands versus 50 percent who are opposed, including many who think it doesn't go far enough (10 percent of the total). But the unpopularity of the Republican proposal to replace Medicare with subsidies for private insurance - 54 percent oppose the GOP budget - translates to a 3-point increase in support for the healthcare reform law. "Just discussing the changes that are made to Medicare in the Ryan plan has an impact on numbers for the (Affordable Care Act)," said Jeff Liszt of the polling firm Anzalone Liszt Research. "It basically leaves (the reform law) as an even proposition, with 45 percent in favor and 48 percent opposed."

National Black Chamber of Commerce President Calls Obama "Marxist, Brown Shirt, Fanatical."
He used the word “brown”? Definitely a racist. ~Bob. Excerpt: Harry Alford, president and CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, blasted President Obama's anti-business administration during radio interview with Laura Ingraham.

DJIA Drops 279.65 on Economic Worry
The word is that the White House is prepared to respond quickly and forcefully to any economic downturn. The “It’s all Bush’s Fault” press releases have already been printed, and new Czars hired. Raises for Government unions are in the works to further stimulate the economy. ~Bob. Excerpt: Stocks suffered their biggest declines since the middle of last year, as several downbeat reports prompted fears the economic recovery is running out of steam. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 279.65 points, or 2.2%, to 12290.14, the biggest point drop since June 4, 2010.

CBO: Tort Reform would save $57B
But the Trail Lawyers are a leading Democrat contribution group, so it has zero chance of passing. Pay up, taxpayer-suckers. ~Bob. Excerpt: In total, CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 5 would reduce deficits by almost $14 billion over the 2011-2016 period and by about $57 billion over the 2012-2021 period.

CIA releases film about 2 officers captured by Chinese on secret mission and held for years
Excerpt: The documentary about two agency officers, Richard G. Fecteau and John T. Downey, who were captured in China on a secret mission in 1952 and held for years before their release, blends documentary footage and re-enactments to tell the story of the officers trying to recover a spy working for the CIA in the Manchuria region of northeastern China. The film, the only one of its kind in the spy agency’s history, was intended only for internal release, but according to the CIA will come to the web for its public debut.

2012 contenders flood New Hampshire as Romney prepares bid
Some candidates are getting so little media attention, they’ve reportedly hired Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Jockey Shorts) as a consultant. ~Bob. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) will formally announce his presidential campaign on Thursday in New Hampshire, just as a horde of other GOP candidates flood into the state. Romney will make his second bid for the Republican nomination official at a noontime chili cook-off at Doug and Stella Scamman’s Bittersweet Farm, planting his flag firmly in the Granite State, where Romney’s staked a great deal of his political strategy.

Rep. Steve King compared to McCarthy in ACORN floor spat
If that doesn’t work, he’ll move up to the highest demagogue level and compare him to Hitler. ~Bob. Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) made the comparison in comments on the House floor after King attempted to exclude dozens of groups related to ACORN from receiving government funds through an amendment to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) appropriations bill.King proposed an amendment that would deny DHS funding to several ACORN affiliates across various states. The measure prompted Dicks and Rep. David Price (D-N.C.) to ask what specific information King had on any of these groups. Near the end of the heated discussion, Dicks said he remembers a "certain senator from Wisconsin" who used similar tactics, a clear reference to McCarthy, although Dicks did not cite McCarthy by name. "You are asking this House to vote on something, and you haven't verified it, you don't know what these groups are all about," Dicks said. "And it's a disgrace to even offer this amendment."

The Housing Crash and Smart Growth
When government sticks its clumsy hands into the economy, the only thing certain is that the politicians and bean-counting bureaucrats won’t be the ones hurt by the results. ~Bob. Excerpt: There is general agreement the financial crisis that began with the failure of Lehman Brothers in 2008 was worsened by the bursting of the U.S. housing price bubble.  It is also generally acknowledged that some of the fuel for the housing bubble came from a relaxation of mortgage loan standards that allowed many families to purchase homes they could not afford with loans on which they subsequently defaulted. However, the U.S. housing bubble varied substantially by geography, says Wendell Cox, adjunct scholar with the National Center for Policy Analysis.  Many metropolitan areas with prescriptive land use restrictions were not able to respond to the increased demand for homeownership caused by the greater availability of mortgage credit.  The result was higher prices, which encouraged speculation and increased house prices even more.  From  2000 to 2007, among the nation's 50 largest metropolitan markets: In the 10 markets with the greatest rise in prices compared to income, the cost of a house rose by an average of $275,000, relative to incomes. Among the second 10 markets with the greatest price escalation, house prices rose $135,000. By contrast, in the major markets with the least rise in prices, houses increased only $5,000. For the nation as a whole, house values more than doubled from 1999 to the peak of the bubble.  From the peak in the fourth quarter of 2006 until the end of 2010, homes values fell more than $6 trillion. Losses after the bubble burst were even more concentrated than house price gains.  Consider: From the peak of the bubble in 2006 to the Lehman Brothers' collapse on September 15, 2008, more heavily regulated metropolitan markets accounted for 73 percent of aggregate value losses. All prescriptively regulated markets (more heavily regulated markets) accounted for 94 percent of losses, or an average of $97,000 per house. Responsively regulated markets (less restrictively regulated markets) lost just 6 percent of their value, or an average of $12,000 per house. If the prescriptively regulated metropolitan areas had instead had responsive land use regulations, prices likely would have escalated at a much lower rate during the housing bubble.

Housing Imperils Recovery
Excerpt: Home prices have sunk to 2002 levels, effectively wiping out almost a decade's worth of home equity across the U.S. and imperiling the fragile economic recovery as Americans confront the falling value of their biggest investment. A closely watched home-price index released Tuesday, the S&P/Case-Shiller National Index, showed that prices nationwide fell 4.2% in the first quarter after declining 3.6% in the fourth quarter of 2010. The index had seen increases in 2009 and early 2010.

Barack Obama vs the People of Israel
Video response.

Google phishing: Chinese Gmail attack raises cyberwar tensions
Excerpt:  Tensions between the US, UK and China over the issue of cyber-attacks were set to escalate after it emerged that Chinese hackers have stolen the login details of hundreds of senior US and South Korean government officials as well as Chinese political activists.  Google said it had discovered and alerted hundreds of people who had been taken in by a carefully targeted "phishing" scam originating from Jinan, the capital of Shandong province. Hackers aimed to get complete control of users' email accounts on the Gmail system.  While there is no direct evidence that the hackers were in the pay of the Chinese government, the sophistication of the attacks and their highly targeted nature eliminates direct financial gain as a motive. Google did not rule out the possibility of the attack being state-sponsored. (Probably the “Red Hackers Alliance,” a state sponsored group I mention in the China chapter of  The Coming Collapse. ~Bob.)

Interesting history. ~Bob.

Global war on drugs a failure, high-level panel says
Excerpt:  The Global Commission on Drug Policy called for a new approach to reducing drug abuse to replace the current strategy of strictly criminalizing drugs and incarcerating drug users while battling criminal cartels that control the drug trade.  "The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world," said the report issued by the commission on Thursday.  The study urges "experimentation by governments with models of legal regulation of drugs," adding: "This recommendation applies especially to cannabis, but we also encourage other experiments in decriminalization and legal regulation." (They probably also tell people when the doorbell or telephone rings, too.  This is so obvious we all know it in our hearts.  A lot of the economic harm that results from illegal drugs, robberies in particular, are caused by the very fact that the drugs are illegal.  That drives up the price, which in turn creates profit margins large enough to justify the risks and costs—including bribes—involved.  The only way to deny this major source of funds to dealers is to destroy their market.  So, either we kill all the users—which hasn’t worked well for the countries following that strategy, like Singapore—or we make the crap legal, like Portugal has.  Portugal has reported very few problems arising from legalization, and the level many economic crimes has dropped.  Alcohol is legal almost everywhere, but only a small percentage of drinkers become drunks.  Maybe this is the way to go.  Of course, it could be taxed, too, and still be cheaper than it is now.  Ron P.)

Time For Thoughtful Moves in Libya
Actually, at least three months past time. The Obama Doctrine is that he can bomb anyone he wants, because he’s a liberal. Okay to order the hit on bin Laden, but it would have been wrong to waterboard him. ~Bob. Excerpt: American military action in foreign wars shouldn’t be taken cavalierly. But President Obama took it that way when he thrust American troops aimlessly into an undefined war in Libya. Not only did the President fail to address Congress for approval; he gave the American people little information about his goals for the endeavor. After three months of conflict, Congress is carefully assessing the situation in Libya and forcing the President to confront the issue head on. Last night, House Republican leadership postponed a vote on a measure to withdraw troops from Libya within 15 days. While many agree that entering the war was unwise, they are also fearful of making another rash move that could harm our national interest or leave our allies stranded. Relying on the War Powers Resolution as a means for withdrawal, however, is not the correct approach.

He Really Is Getting Predictable
From National Review’s “Morning Jolt.” Subscribe here:
Excerpt: Whenever Obama gives a speech, you feel as if you know half of it before the teleprompter even gets warmed up, right? "Let me be clear." "As I have said many times before." "Some say we must [unserious idea on the right that almost no one is proposing]. Others say we must [equally unserious idea that only the most unhinged lefties want]. But I reject this false choice, and say we must." "I have seen examples of [phenomenon he's talking about] in my own life, where only in this country, could the son of a Kenyan immigrant rise." I'm noticing that "the stakes are too high" quite often. So if you're invited to the White House, decorum and tradition would compel you to attend, even though you could probably print out an Obama-speech bingo card and get bingo within the first four minutes. But it appears that the patience of one freshman House Republican is wearing thin:

Important: Employment Data May Be the Key to the President’s Job
Excerpt: No American president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt has won a second term in office when the unemployment rate on Election Day topped 7.2 percent. Seventeen months before the next election, it is increasingly clear that President Obama must defy that trend to keep his job. (We may have a series of one-term presidents, rotating parties. As the collapse takes hold, and fixing it become ever-more painful, the public will turn back and forth to politicians offering fantasy solutions, electing them on a promise of hope, then rejecting them when magical thinking doesn’t work. ~Bob.)

The Factory of Selective Moral Outrage
Excerpt:  Democrats in Congress recently went all out to try to pass the Dream Act, an amnesty for illegal-alien students willing to enroll -- and stay -- in college. Most who opposed it were derided as heartless at best, racist at worse. An insolvent California -- still struggling with its $15 billion budget shortfall -- is trying to advance its own version of the bill that would contravene federal immigration law and cost millions of dollars.   At about the same time, the state has announced plans to release about 40,000 prison inmates due to a shortage of funds needed to address overcrowding. Highly taxed Californians can borrow money to send illegal aliens to school, but not to keep felons in prison.   (…)  [M]oral outrage belongs to the now fossilized age of George W. Bush's presidency, when the exalted goal of stopping a conservative Texan justified any means of opposition necessary. We may continue almost all of his antiterrorism protocols, but they can no longer earn elite outrage.

Must Read: 50 Things Every American Should Know About The Collapse Of The Economy
Unfortunately, I’m not the only alarmist around. ~Bob. Excerpt: Right now, we are witnessing a truly historic collapse of the economy, and yet most Americans do not understand what is going on.  One of the biggest reasons why the American people do not understand what is happening to the economy is because our politicians and the mainstream media are not telling the truth.  Barack Obama and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke keep repeating the phrase "economic recovery" over and over, and this is really confusing for most Americans because things sure don't seem to be getting much better where they live.  There are millions upon millions of Americans that are sitting at home on their couches right now wondering why they lost their jobs and why nobody will hire them.  Millions of others are wondering why the only jobs they can get are jobs that a high school student could do. 

The Economic Collapse
Interesting, but depressing blog. Like this one. ~Bob.

Protective Intelligence Lessons from an Ambush in Mexico
Excerpt: On the afternoon of May 27, a convoy transporting a large number of heavily armed gunmen was ambushed on Mexican Highway 15 near Ruiz, Nayarit state, on Mexico’s Pacific coast. When authorities responded they found 28 dead gunmen and another four wounded, one of whom would later die, bringing the death toll to 29. This is a significant number of dead for one incident, even in Mexico. According to Nayarit state Attorney General Oscar Herrera Lopez, the gunmen ambushed were members of Los Zetas, a Mexican drug cartel. Herrera noted that most of the victims were from Mexico’s Gulf coast, but there were also some Guatemalans mixed into the group, including one of the wounded survivors. While Los Zetas are predominately based on the Gulf coast, they have been working to provide armed support to allied groups, such as the Cartel Pacifico Sur (CPS), a faction of the former Beltran Leyva Organization that is currently battling the Sinaloa Federation and other cartels for control of the lucrative smuggling routes along the Pacific coast. In much the same way, Sinaloa is working with the Gulf cartel to go after Los Zetas in Mexico’s northeast while protecting and expanding its home turf. If the victims in the Ruiz ambush were Zetas, then the Sinaloa Federation was likely the organization that planned and executed this very successful ambush.

Raped and Ransacked in the Muslim World
Stay calm and repeat the liberal mantra: “All cultures are equally valid. To oppose any of this would be Islamophobic.” ~Bob. Excerpt: Huwaini cited the Koran as his authority—boasting that it has an entire chapter named "spoils"—and the sunna of Muhammad, specifically as recorded in the famous Sahih Muslim hadith wherein the prophet ordered the Muslim armies to offer non-Muslims three choices: conversion, subjugation, or death/enslavement. Huwaini said that infidel captives, the "spoils of war," are to be distributed among the Muslim combatants (i.e., jihadists) and taken to "the slave market, where slave-girls and concubines are sold." He referred to these latter by their dehumanizing name in the Koran, ma malakat aymanukum—"what your right hands possess"—in this context, sex-slaves: "You go to the market and buy her, and she becomes like your legal mate—though without a contract, a guardian, or any of that stuff—and this is agreed upon by the ulema." "In other words," Huwaini concluded, "when I want a sex-slave, I go to the market and pick whichever female I desire and buy her."

Public Nuisances
Excerpt: Here we are now in the afterglow of another Memorial Day. The flags and the bunting are being put away. The memories endure for another year of our honored dead, of the brave wounded, of the veterans -- some grizzled, some still youthful -- all deserving their country's gratitude. Then there are the impostors, who have created -- often from zilch military honors -- whole careers, records of heroism and splendid triumphs. What wretches! One is Joseph Brian Cryer, 45, who claimed to be a U.S. Navy SEAL and boasted online of his "77 confirmed kills" during a glorious operation in Libya in 1986. A genuine SEAL, Don Shipley, exposed Cryer as an impostor. Shipley has taken it upon himself to expose frauds and veterans who engaud their war records. It must be a full-time occupation. This kind of thing happens surprisingly often and very much in public. A best-selling historian was suspended for a year from his college teaching position for bragging to his students of his Vietnam War feats, and oh, yes, he claimed exploits on the football field, too. Both claims were fabrications. Now with SEAL Team 6's exploits in snagging Osama bin Laden, SEALs are turning up everywhere.

Obama's Nuclear Option on Economy
Excerpt: The public has become increasingly skeptical of public stimulus spending, which means that the government is, mercifully, running out of its preferred policy means of spurring the economy. From here on out, Obama has only two options left to address the job creation crisis: Cut taxes across the board. Suspended regulations that stifle business. Of course Obama will do neither of those things. His party would go nuclear if he did. So, instead he'll go play golf. The most relevant question you can ask the president today is: "How's that back swing?" As I observed last week in This is What Stagflation Looks Like, even as world equity markets move down with signs pointing to slowing global economic growth, a European Central Bank member is warning about inflation, caused in large part by monetary policy in the US .

Libya: A War Fit for a King
Excerpt: Remember back in your high school civics class, when you were taught about the constitutional division of authority in matters of war? When you learned that the president has all the powers of an emperor, and Congress has all the powers of a potted plant? Neither do I. But the people occupying high office in Washington went to a different school. They have done their best to prove that when it comes to using military force, neither the law nor the Constitution means a thing.

Land of the Lawless: When the Law Does Not Pay
Signs of the start of the collapse. ~Bob. Excerpt: I do not think in California there is much law these days. We are regressing to the days of my grandfather’s stories. He used to relate to me a wild Central Valley circa 1900, when the sheriff was a day away. A neighbor down the road is now openly violating county zoning regulations by simply moving in immobile Winnebagos and creating a sort of ad hoc mobile home park — with jerry-rigged electricity, sewage, and water. “Restaurants” pop up around my farm along the side of the road, exempt from state and local inspection, apparently by parking a canteen, plopping down some plastic chairs, an awning, a porta-potty, a hose — and, presto, we have an eatery, with signs no less. There are no dumping laws enforced in rural California: stopping the guy who throws out his garbage and a sofa is a money-loser; finding the guy in the Mercedes who uses his cell phone is a money-winner. Yet most state lawlessness out here is predicated on priorities of enforcement and driven by public employee unions who see us the people in terms of “fees” and “fines” to feed their salaries, perhaps in the way the Thanksgiving chef eyes the roasting turkey amid hungry mouths. … The new lawlessness at the federal level, however, is far more serious, because it is predicated on “social justice”: those deemed “in need” shall be exempt from the law; those “not in need” shall not.

Are We Nearing The Immigration Tipping Point?
Excerpt: Harlingen, Texas, April 20, 2011: The immigration debate could very well serve as a prime example of national media and information distortion.  An often-used phrase is, “Where you sit is where you stand.” In simplistic terms this refers to how you view any debate.  The position you enter the argument from is usually the determinant of what information you will accept and where you will take your final stand.  This Information Age we now are in the process of experiencing is a wondrous time to be alive.  The average individual has at his or her fingertips, or within sight and sound, the ability to find out almost anything.  At the same time the newspapers; television, radio, internet, emails, blogs, magazines and books that keep us current with world activities and happenings can also serve to distort reality. They can often present scenarios, which though seemingly legitimate are complete fabrications or extremely slanted versions of fact.  It is a personal responsibility to sift through all the distortion and obtain solid fact.

Soldier stops bank robbery suspect
Excerpt: Outside of the bank, Peoples jumped into his white rental van and cornered the suspected bank robber, who was trying to get away in his green Honda. Both men got out of their vehicles. A woman, who didn't want to be identified, stumbled upon the confrontation. She described seeing the armed suspect threaten Peoples with the gun. "He's got a bank bag and a gun and he's pointing it at the gentleman in the white van," she said. Sgt. Peoples was not deterred. "I've been through five deployments. I've fought the Muqtada militia, everybody you can think of, so weapons getting pointed at me, it doesn't really bother me anymore," he said. "I took the weapon away from him and put him on the ground and the rest was history." (Wonder what the DOJ will charge the soldier with? ~Bob.)

A Country Without Libraries
As a book lover, I love libraries. But this is only the start. I think in a few years we will be a country without schools, police or fire protection in our inner cities. ~Bob. Excerpt: All across the United States, large and small cities are closing public libraries or curtailing their hours of operations. Detroit, I read a few days ago, may close all of its branches and Denver half of its own: decisions that will undoubtedly put hundreds of its employees out of work. When you count the families all over this country who don’t have computers or can’t afford Internet connections and rely on the ones in libraries to look for jobs, the consequences will be even more dire. People everywhere are unhappy about these closings, and so are mayors making the hard decisions. But with roads and streets left in disrepair, teachers, policemen and firemen being laid off, and politicians in both parties pledging never to raise taxes, no matter what happens to our quality of life, the outlook is bleak. “The greatest nation on earth,” as we still call ourselves, no longer has the political will to arrest its visible and precipitous decline and save the institutions on which the workings of our democracy depend.

Transportation lobbyist schedules fundraiser for son of Transportation Secretary LaHood
Business as usual for the sanctimonious left. ~Bob. Excerpt: Ray LaHood was a Republican member of Congress, and now he is the Republican in President Obama's Cabinet, serving as Transportation Secretary. His son, Darin, was appointed to a vacant State Senate seat in 2009, and he is currently running for a full term. Bernie Robinson was chief of staff for liberal Democrat James McGovern of Massachusetts. Now, he's a wealthy lobbyist with the powerful Livingston Group, where he lobbies on transportation issues.

Abortions force boy-girl ratio further apart in India
It’s a choice, not a future. If you are pro-choice, you must let the choose boys, right? ~Bob. Excerpt: India's ratio of boy to girl babies is widening, aided by illegal tests that help parents selectively abort female foetuses, a study found. As many as 600,000 girls are selectively aborted annually in India, compared with as many as 410,000 terminations a decade ago and 200,000 in 1991, according to a study yesterday in the medical journal The Lancet. There are now 914 girls for every 1,000 boys ages 0-6 years, down from 945 per 1,000 20 years ago. "Selective abortion of girls in India has grown in the past two decades and accounts for most of the large and growing imbalance," Mr Prabhat Jha of the Centre for Global Health Research at the University of Toronto and colleagues wrote in the study.

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