Monday, July 11, 2011

Political Digest for July 11, 2011

Collapse Review from a retired Marine Major General
General Higginbotham is a blog reader, and blogs on his own from time to time. He purchased a copy of the Coming Collapse of the American Republic, read it and sent this review to his mailing list. This old Staff Sergeant is honored by his comments. ~Bob.

FREAKY FRIDAY Meets Statesman & Marine Robert A. Hall
I’m to be interviewed about my book on Friday, July 15, at 2:00 PM EDT/1:00 PM CDT by Ann Ubelis on her “Southern Sense” talk radio show broadcast in Beaufort, SC. (Doubtless DIs at Parris Island will play it to abuse the recruits!) The call in number to speak with the host is (917) 889-3675.

Important: The West and the Tyranny of Public Debt
I cite this article in my book on the Coming Collapse. In light of the debt struggle in Washington, it is worth re-reading. ~Bob.

Video: Finally, a Congressman Tells the Country why Obama is so Dangerous
Well done comments on Libya. ~Bob.

Afghans say US firms cheat them
Excerpt: Bryan Rhodes’s newly minted business scored a US-funded contract last year to help build a power plant in Kandahar, perhaps the most dangerous and crucial city in the American war effort. Rhodes hired Afghans to do the work, and his company, IBS, was paid about a half-million dollars when they were done, according to the prime contractor on the project. Then Rhodes left the country. Now his Afghan workers and vendors say that he owes them hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid bills and that he has stopped all communication with them.

UK retailers stuck in their own recession
Excerpt: BRITAIN'S high streets are in deeper crisis now than they were at the height of the last downturn even though the economy as a whole is not in recession, a report today suggests. The number of profit warnings issued by retailers listed on the London Stock Exchange in the first six months of the year was almost double the tally for the whole of 2009 when Britain was mired in the worst recession since the Second World War.

Boiling Frog Alert: Congress Wants Automatic Wage Deductions To Pay Down The Debt
Excerpt: On July 6th, just two days ago, at least a dozen busybody Congressmen sponsored the introduction of HR 2411, the “Reduce America’s Debt Now Act of 2011.” They always come up with fantastic names for these pieces of legislation… and rest assured, the better/more patriotic the name, the more ominous the bill. This one follows the pattern. HR 2411 states that every worker in America should be able to voluntarily have a portion of his/her wages automatically withheld and sent directly to the Treasury Department for the purposes of paying down the federal debt. (Hitting Americans With Automatic Wage Deductions To Pay Down The National Debt? What could possibly go wrong?? --Steve.)

Excerpt: “It is not only what we do, but also what we do not do, for which we are accountable.” — Moliere ... When did accountability become such a quaint idea? It’s as old as civilization, the bulwark upon which governments and financial transactions have always been set. Every major world religion espouses it as a mark and essential component of true maturity. It motors the social contract — without believing that each person or institution you interact with has a sense of accountability, there is no trust — and yet, in ways big and small, it seems to be further eroded on a daily basis. In a June 2010 piece on Psychology Today’s blog, psychiatrist and psychologist Steven Reiss theorized that current modes of parenting and education — in which discipline has softened into negotiations with toddlers and losing teams are awarded trophies for simply showing up — have left younger generations with a sense of entitlement that overwhelms, if not replaces, appropriate feelings of shame, regret or apology. Technology, too, has loosened the parameters of societal shame meant to keep even the ugliest id in check: Read through the comments section of any blog or newspaper, and the level of vitriol found there never fails to shock, the vicious attacks on everything from an individual’s race to political leanings to personal attractiveness, all unleashed under the anonymity of the Web.

Here All Along
Powerful Palin campaign video.

U.S. Is Deferring Millions in Pakistani Military Aid
Excerpt: Altogether, about $800 million in military aid and equipment, or over one-third of the more than $2 billion in annual American security assistance to Pakistan, could be affected, three senior United States officials said. This aid includes about $300 million to reimburse Pakistan for some of the costs of deploying more than 100,000 soldiers along the Afghan border to combat terrorism, as well as hundreds of millions of dollars in training assistance and military hardware, according to half a dozen Congressional, Pentagon and other administration officials who were granted anonymity to discuss the politically delicate matter. (…) And some is assistance like the reimbursements for troop costs, which is being reviewed in light of questions about Pakistan’s commitment to carry out counterterrorism operations. For example, the United States recently provided Pakistan with information about suspected bomb-making factories, only to have the insurgents vanish before Pakistani security forces arrived a few days later.

Despite revolution​, US set to approve tank sales to Egypt
We call them the "Abrams," but they call them "The Jew Killer." ~Bob. Excerpt: If approved, the deal would increase the number of Abrams tanks in Egypt from around 1,000 to 1,130; Congress must approve deal. The US signaled last week that it plans to continue business as usual when it comes to arms sales to the Egyptian military, despite the recent revolution in Egypt and continued anti-government demonstrations there. On Friday, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible sale of 125 M1A1 Abrams tank to Egypt – the first large arms deal since Hosni Mubarak was ousted from power in February – including associated weapons, equipment, parts, training and logistical support at an estimated cost of just over $1.3 billion. If approved, the deal would increase the number of Abrams tanks in Egypt from around 1,000 to 1,130.

Dear GOP leadership
Excerpt: Are you feeling principled today? How about gutsy? Are the wishes of voters — the same voters that afforded you a 2010 landslide victory — at the forefront of your minds? I certainly hope so. As conservatives across the country await a decision as to whether or not there will be an increase in the debt ceiling, we can’t help but wonder if you will dig in your heels and stand for something. Will you prioritize significant — and I mean significant — spending reductions? Will you refuse to accept tax hikes and stand firm against class warfare? Will you fight for a balanced budget amendment?

Interpol issues "red notice" for four Hizballah suspects in Hariri assassination
Excerpt: What remains to be seen is whether there is any political will to hold the four accountable in Lebanon, which is now under a Hizballah-dominated government. Left unchallenged for far too long, Hizballah's parallel state has become a sort of suicide vest wrapped around Lebanon, and an instrument of blackmail whereby Hizballah can threaten to blow the country apart

Egypt: "The best way to eliminate someone politically is to accuse him of having ties with Israel."
Excerpt: Conspiracy theories are a handy thing in that they don't have to make sense, and they allow one to abdicate responsibility for a situation, because it is ultimately in the hands of the supposedly hidden puppeteers. Bad economy? Blame Israel. "Sectarian strife?" Blame Israel. Bad hair day? There's probably a way to pin that on Israel, too, even if you live in across the border in Gaza and Hamas put your hairdresser out of business.

Jihad In Sudan Redux
Excerpt: On July 9, the mostly Christian South Sudan will legally and officially separate from the Muslim north and become a new, independent and free country. Fearing loss of its iron clad grip of other non-Arab regions in the north, whose people likely envy the freedoms won by the South, Arab/Islamist leaders in Khartoum have launched a military assault on the Nuba Mountains, a mixed Christian, animist and Muslim region. Reports from the area are gruesomely reminiscent of the decades-long assault Khartoum waged on the South. These include forced conversions to Islam, mass displacement, bombing of civilians and mass slaughter. Anticipating the effects of Christians winning freedom from his rule already in December of 2010 Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who is indicted by the International Criminal Court for genocide and crimes against humanity, laid out a vision for the future of his nation: "If south Sudan secedes, we will change the constitution and at that time there will be no time to speak of diversity of culture and ethnicity... Sharia (Islamic law) and Islam will be the main source for the constitution, Islam the official religion and Arabic the official language", he told a group of supporters.

Australia: Government fires adviser for telling unpleasant truths about Islam
Excerpt: What did Joseph Adams say that was inaccurate? What did he say that was false? If Muhammad was not "the first terrorist of Islam," did he not say that he was, according to Islamic tradition? "I have been made victorious through terror" (Bukhari 4.52.220). "Lib adviser sacked after anti-Islam web posts," by Heath Aston for the Sydney Morning Herald, July 10: THE O'Farrell government has been embarrassed by a Liberal adviser who posted anti-Islamic comments online, including a description of the Prophet Muhammad as ''the first terrorist of Islam''. Joseph Adams, who worked in the electorate office of the Smithfield Liberal, Andrew Rohan, was sacked on Friday. Mr Adams, pictured, had angered some of his 1000 Facebook friends - which include 15 state government MPs and four ministers - with selected excerpts from the Koran which he said prove Islam promotes killing, not love. He was labelled a ''bigot'' and the ''biggest f---ing racist ever'' by shocked friends. (Islam is the only "race" you can join by making a statement. ~Bob.)

Iranian commander: US carriers target if attacked
Excerpt: A senior Revolutionary Guard commander threatened Saturday that U.S. aircraft carriers would be targeted if Iran came under attack amid a standoff with the West over Tehran's nuclear program. Iran has often warned of major retaliation if they faced a military strike from Israel or the West, but the latest comments appear tailored to emphasize the expanding range of Iranian missiles following 10 days of war games. The exercises included unveiling underground missile silos that Iran says is capable of multiple launches. "Aircraft carriers ... are moving targets. If the enemy threatens us, we will target them," said Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the commander of the Guard's aerospace force, in comments broadcast on state TV. Hajizadeh also confirmed that Iran secretly conducted missile tests in February that he claimed hit targets at the "mouth of the Indian Ocean"—an apparent reference to areas near the Strait of Hormouz at the southern end of the Gulf. Hajizadeh gave no further details. In April, the commander of the Revolutionary Guard said Iran's arsenal is capable of striking "remote regions outside the Persian Gulf." Iran has tried to project its military might outside the Gulf, where the U.S. has several air bases and the home port of the Navy's 5th Fleet in Bahrain.

ObamaCare, ObamaCars, and Government-Mandated Broccoli
Excerpt: … [N]one of the three panelists could answer whether the six word provision giving Congress the power to “regulate commerce . . . among the several states” means it can require obese people to sign up for Weight Watchers. The editor/author said he did not know; one professor said the answer is whatever the Supreme Court says it is; the other said it was great we are having this debate. The whirring sound you could hear in the background was the Founders spinning. Will’s question was a modified “Broccoli Mandate” query: if Congress can mandate every individual to purchase health insurance, can it also mandate that people eat broccoli, or join a health club? (…) Chemerinsky’s answer highlights the difference between liberals and conservatives. Liberals favor expanded federal power to direct society toward good things and if government goes too far — directing us what to eat — some judge, searching through the penumbras of the Constitution will surely create a right not to eat broccoli. Conservatives believe freedom lies in limiting government to its enumerated powers. The right not to eat broccoli (and to decide whether to join Weight Watchers) comes not from beneficent judges but from the limitations inherent in the language of the Commerce Clause.

We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. -- James Madison

3D Printer
I must be officially a dinosaur. I can't believe it. ~Bob. I'm pretty sure it's real. I actually saw this on TV (on the Nat Geo channel) within the past two weeks. Some thoughts: They haven't mentioned any costs. That wrench's materials (highly specialized plastics) may only cost a few thousand dollars (as opposed to perhaps 75 cents for a good 12" dinner plate with a nice floral design, two or three of which would use about the same mass of less-dense plastics). But the machines (scanner and "printer") that make the wrench must be well over a million. Of course, when the nearest hardware store is several hundred miles down a gravity well, that's a bargain. There are size limitations as the finished product must fit into the production cavity. Did you notice all the output was mechanical with no electrical parts?. All output is plastic, of course, with plastic's blessings and curses. A major problem I see is clearing off all that "dust" in weightless conditions while in close quarters; it'd overwhelm the AC/LSU. The total combined machinery might be too large for anything much smaller than the ISS, too. Ron P

Energy Department gives $105 million subsidy to ethanol plant
Excerpt: They call it "Project Liberty," but it's certainly not a free-market undertaking. POET, the politically connected ethanol giant, has just pocketed a $105 million Department of Energy loan guarantee for an ethanol plant in Iowa. If this plant -- the first to turn corn waste into fuel -- fails, U.S. taxpayers foot the bill. Even if it doesn't fail, there's a cost to the economy: absent this DOE loan guarantee, Poet's lender would have leant to someone else -- someone not as politically favored, but whom the bank thought more promising economically. So, DOE is diverting resources from the economically promising to the politically favored. Poet employs plenty of revolving door lobbyists including former Reagan aide David Bockorny, and Nicole Venable, former chief of staff to convicted congressman William Jefferson. (Don't bother me with this stuff--I'm busy trying to figure out why we have a huge deficit. ~Bob.)

You did know Democrats got more money from the defense industry, didn't you?
Excerpt: The folks at the Center for Responsive Politics remind us today that Democrats have pocketed more money from the defense industry -- both individuals and PACs -- than Republicans have. This isn't the sort of thing you would know from reading most of the mainstream press. In the 2010 cycle, the Democrats picked up 55 percent of defense PAC giving, up from 2008, when Dems got 53 percent.

Conrad budget cuts $800B from Defense
Secret? The Democrats haven't been able to pass a budget for two years. May be a reason. The numbers don't work. ~Bob. Excerpt: The secret Senate Democratic budget resolution drafted by Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and shared with the White House relies heavily on cuts to the Pentagon which would see its budget slashed by more than $800 billion over 10 years, according to sources. Overall security spending is cut by $886 billion in the budget which Senate leadership is still mulling making public. Under law the Senate was to have agreed on a budget by April 15. This compares to $178 billion in security cuts in the House-passed budget resolution, only $78 billion of which is not reinvested in the defense budget. President Obama in his April deficit reduction framework called for $400 billion in security cuts over 12 years.

The Great Madness of 2004-10
Excerpt: During the years of insanity, Al Gore won both a Nobel Prize and an Academy Award for his propaganda film An Inconvenient Truth — before the disclosures of ClimateGate, new data on everything from the Himalayan glaciers to polar bear populations, realization that temperatures had not risen in the last 12 years, and the rather blatant and various money-making schemes of Gore, Inc. (that parlayed green advocacy into a billion-dollar, medieval exemption/carbon offset empire, several homes, and a propensity for carbon spewing private jet travel). Give Gore credit: he understood brilliantly that anger over Iraq and Katrina, his own popular vote victory in 2000 but subsequent lost presidency, his vein-bulging “he lied” screeds, and puppy dog pouts had combined, in perfect storm fashion, to locate Gorism at the nexus of anti-war, anti-Bush madness. (Yes, I know the piece is quite lengthy but try this: give it the old Harry Cohn Scratch Test. During Hollywood's golden era, the 1930s and 40s, Harry Cohn was head of production at Columbia Pictures. His method for judging one of his productions was to watch it in the screening room. If, as the movie played, if he became of an itch in the seat of his pants he knew he'd become distracted from what was happening on the screen -- a warning that the movie-going public would likely also lose interest. If Cohn made it all the way to the end credits with no itch he knew he had a hit. I read this VDH piece without the hint of an itch. --Jed)

E-mail quote, not verified
Warren Buffet said he could fix the deficit problem “in five minutes.” “You just pass a law,” he said, “that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than 3 percent of GDP all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for reelection.” I don’t know whether that would fix the problem, but, hey, I think we should give it a try!

Palin Plots Her Next Move
Excerpt: Sarah Palin hasn’t jumped into the race for the White House (yet), but she believes the prize is there for the taking. In a conversation with Peter J. Boyer, Palin warns Boehner not to raise the debt ceiling, proclaims that Obama is beatable—and says the 2012 field is far from settled. ... 'I believe that I can win a national election,' Sarah Palin declared one recent evening, sitting in the private dining room of a hotel in rural Iowa. (Politicians often suffer from the "echo effect." They are surrounded by supporters who tell them they are wonderful, doing great, everybody loves them. On the day after the election, the losing politicians are often the most surprised. I worked very hard as a senator to be sure I was getting unfiltered input. In addition, people are able to convince themselves that what they want is possible--witness the number of posts on my "'m Tired" essay urging me to run for president! Palin is not as good as her true believers think, but is no where near as bad as the impression created in the minds of a majority by the haters in the leftist media. But perception is reality. witness recent polls showing her losing to Obama--in Alaska. I think she can do more good as a non-candidate. ~Bob.)

ATF Tampa Division Walked Guns to Honduras and to MS13 Gang Members
If true, people this stupid shouldn't be allowed out without a minder, never mind employed by the government. No, let me correct that. They shouldn't be allowed out even with a minder--they should be imprisoned for being accessories to murder. ~Bob. Excerpt: Leaders of the transnational organized criminal gang Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) even ordered a hit on a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent in New York. There are now reports that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Tampa Field Division, ran a gun-running investigation that was walking guns to Honduras using the techniques and tactics identical to Fast and Furious. 1,000 of those guns were sold to MS13 buyers. Congress gave the ATF $29 million in 2009 including $10 million in stimulus money for “project gunrunner,” the predecessor of “fast and furious.” A year later it got $37 million more to expand gunrunner.

Who wants a Gunwalker T-Shirt?
Gotta love it. ~Bob.

Worth Reading: Triumph of a Dysphemism
It's not a 'bug," it's a "feature"! ~Bob. Excerpt: While “new revenue” has triumphed as a euphemism for “tax hikes,” “loophole” has triumphed as a dysphemism for “intentional tax policy.” Our tax code is not really all that riddled with loopholes. Loopholes, properly understood, are unintentional ambiguities in a system that can be exploited to undercut the intent of the system’s designers. What we’re talking about in the tax code is not, for the most part, a collection of loopholes. The mortgage-interest deduction is not a loophole; it is the product of intentionally (and stupidly) constructed public policy, an attempt at social engineering through the tax code. Likewise, most of what Democrats dishonestly describe as special breaks for oil companies are in fact tax subsidies designed to encourage domestic manufacturing, and available to any firm that engages in anything that can be defined under the law as manufacturing. This is not an accident, either: The geniuses in Washington think that they can politick good manufacturing jobs into existence. ... But for the most part, what everybody is calling “loopholes” are intentional features of the tax code. And all of the tax subsidies Democrats want to add to the tax code — for “green energy,” “protecting American jobs,” “energy independence,” or any other sort of ignorant superstition — will one day be “loopholes,” too: just as soon as some politically disfavored business (say, an oil company) begins to make use of them. Remind me again why we just put the geniuses who designed our tax code in charge of our health care.

The Texas Supreme Court and Legislature help Rick Perry cloak travel security expenses
Excerpt: Texas on the Potomac regularly offers you political commentary from across the political spectrum. Today, as part of our ongoing Perry Watch feature, we share an editorial first published in the print edition of the Houston Chronicle. Gov. Rick Perry has had a penchant for foreign travel during his record-breaking stint in office, taking 23 trips abroad as of last year. Now he’s doing a lot of domestic traveling as he tests the political waters for a possible run at the Republican presidential nomination. And most everywhere that Perry goes, a squad of Department of Public Safety officers accompanies him at taxpayer expense. Unfortunately, the Texas Legislature and the state Supreme Court have teamed up to make it almost impossible for journalists to access details of those expenditures, even months or years after the trips are concluded.

Citizens Arming Against Flash Mobs
Signs of the Collapse. Guy thinks it's wrong to defend yourself. Better to be killed than "shoot kids." ~Bob.

By the end of his first term, President Obama will have added as much debt as all the prior 43 presidents combined.
Excerpt: At a roundtable of small business leaders in Salem, N.H., former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was asked what he would do about the corporate tax rate, whether he would cut government spending or raise taxes and whether it was possible to do both. Romney said he had a plan to lower the corporate tax rate but noted the nation's huge debt. "What I would like to do is bring the tax rate down and eliminate some of the special breaks that go to the big businesses that have found ways to take advantage of loopholes," Romney said. "So, I’d take that corporate tax rate down at least from 35 down to 25 percent. Then we can talk about where we can go from there. I’d like to get it a lot lower, but what I don’t want to do is add to the deficit. I don’t want to come back with a tax rate so low that we end up seeing our deficit go shooting up, because what we don’t want to have happen is the circumstance where we have larger and larger deficits.

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