Thursday, July 28, 2011

Political Digest for July 28, 2011

Best older posts for new blog readers

Has been in the top ten countries for page views on my blog over the last week, the last couple of times I’ve checked. Welcome to my readers in the courageous Baltic Republics.

A Time for Choosing
Excerpt: To govern is to choose. To vote is to choose. To vote against John Boehner on the House floor this week in the biggest showdown of the current Congress is to choose to vote with Nancy Pelosi. To vote against Boehner is to choose to support Barack Obama. It is to choose to increase the chances that worse legislation than Boehner’s passes. And it is to choose to increase the chances that Obama emerges from this showdown politically stronger. So when the Heritage Action Fund and the Club for Growth, and Senators Vitter, Paul, et al., choose to urge House Republicans to join the Democrats to defeat Boehner, they’re choosing to side with Barack Obama. Unfair!—these fine groups and senators will say. We’re not siding with Obama. We just want Boehner to do more, to go further. Very well, then. Can the pro-Obama right explain how defeat for Boehner on the House floor would redound to conservatives' benefit, to their ability to do more and to go further? They can't.

Worth Reading: This Is No Time for Games
Excerpt: But everyone over 50 in America feels a certain cultural longing now. They hear the new culture out of the radio, the TV, the billboard, the movie, the talk show. It is so violent, so sexualized, so politicized, so rough. They miss the old America they were born into, 50 to 70 years ago. And they fear, deep down, that this new culture, the one their children live in, isn't going to make it. Because it is, in essence, an assaultive culture, from the pop music coming out of the rental car radio to the TSA agent with her hands on your kids' buttocks. We are increasingly strangers here, and we fear for the future. There are, by the way, 100 million Americans over 50. A third of the nation. That's a lot of displaced people. They are part of the wrong-track numbers. So is this. In the Old America there were a lot of bad parents. There always are, because being a parent is hard, and not everyone has the ability or even the desire. But in the old America you knew it wasn't so bad, because the culture could bring the kids up. Inadequate parents could sort of say, "Go outside and play in the culture," and the culture -- relatively innocent, and boring -- could be more or less trusted to bring the kids up. Popular songs, the messages in movies -- all of it was pretty hopeful, and, to use a corny old word, wholesome. Grown-ups now know you can't send the kids out to play in the culture, because the culture will leave them distorted and disturbed. And there isn't less bad parenting now than there used to be. There may be more.

The GOP's Reality Test: Republicans who oppose Boehner's debt deal are playing into Obama's hands.
Excerpt: But what none of these critics have is an alternative strategy for achieving anything nearly as fiscally or politically beneficial as Mr. Boehner's plan. The idea seems to be that if the House GOP refuses to raise the debt ceiling, a default crisis or gradual government shutdown will ensue, and the public will turn en masse against . . . Barack Obama. The Republican House that failed to raise the debt ceiling would somehow escape all blame. Then Democrats would have no choice but to pass a balanced-budget amendment and reform entitlements, and the tea-party Hobbits could return to Middle Earth having defeated Mordor. This is the kind of crack political thinking that turned Sharron Angle and Christine O'Donnell into GOP Senate nominees. (And kept Harry Reid in control of the senate. ~Bob.)

Analysis: U.S. credit downgrade 'inevitable'
And a downgrade will make the financial picture that much worse, as we swirl around the drain (I’m running out of metaphors.) Anyone who will be surprised by a down grade either hasn’t been paying attention, or doesn’t understand either math or economics. ~Bob. Excerpt: Only seven days stand between the U.S. and the effects of a credit default. But a downgrade of the nation’s stellar AAA credit rating seems a lot more likely, and a lot sooner. The White House had been alerted repeatedly over the past month by rating agencies that without a strong, long-term plan to restructure the country’s debt, they would lower America’s credit rating as soon as this Friday, according to two officials familiar with the process. The White House was warned that the deal would have to be significant—and not a short-term fix over the next few days to avoid a credit drop. Analysts with Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s, the nation’s top two rating agencies, declined to be quoted on the record, indicating that even benign statements about timing and ratings decisions can rattle markets and startle investors. But earlier this month, both agencies placed the U.S. government on notice of a downgrade of at least one notch, if not more, to a AA rating. In a written statement, S&P analysts said they believed "there is an increasing risk of a substantial policy stalemate enduring beyond any near-term agreement to raise the debt ceiling."

A Looming Downgrade?
Excerpt: America continues to be rapt — and perhaps alarmed — by the ongoing debt ceiling negotiations. Yet even as the negotiations proceed, a daunting reality has been largely obscured. Other than preventing a default on August 2nd, these negotiations, including any of the current permutations referred to as “grand bargains,” could end up producing nothing more than getting us back to where we are right now. Why? Because a deal that only avoids a credit “default” and not a “downgrade” may be equally devastating. In short, if the credit rating of the country is lowered, the ensuing rise in interest rates would virtually cancel out all the long-term savings proposed by either side. A credit rating reflects an extensive analysis of how well a particular entity — in this case the federal government of the United States — can service its underlying loans. The current credit rating of the United States is AAA, which is the safest credit rating there is. America has had an AAA rating since 1917, when Moody’s first began such assignments. Back in April, long before the debt ceiling debate reached the fevered pitch it has currently assumed, one of those ratings agencies, Standard & Poor’s, lowered the nation’s outlook regarding its long-term credit rating from “stable” to “negative.” That change was essentially a warning that if America did not get its debt under control, there was a one-in-three chance that S&P would lower the AAA rating over the next two years. (I think the cities and states are more likely to default first, because the Feds can print money to pay their bills, taxing us all through inflation. But I think defaults are coming. ~Bob.)

White House's Carney on President's Debt Ceiling Plan: 'You Need it Written down?’
Excerpt: Todd asked Carney about the White House’s reluctance to release its plan to deal with the national debt and raising the debt ceiling. Carney acknowledged the White House was playing games. “We’re showing a lot of leg,” he said. When Todd pressed for details – “Why not just release it?” – Carney seemed surprised. “You need it written down?” What a difference two years makes. In the spring of 2009, with Republicans in the minority in the House of Representatives, the White House and its Democratic allies were demanding specifics. The House GOP had to produce an alternative budget, the White House demanded, in order to show that they were serious about governing. On March 24, President Obama complained that the White House and its friends “haven’t seen a budget from the Republicans.” Two days later, after the Republicans presented a 19-page budget framework, the White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, mocked the plan for its lack of specifics. CNN reported that Gibbs “laughed off the Republican's proposal, joking that their blueprint has more pictures of windmills than charts.”

Lies, Damned Lies, and Revenue Enhancements
Excerpt: Now, many have argued compellingly that the problem with the deficit is that spending has ballooned, not that we aren’t collecting enough money. Hence the Republicans’ reluctance to play Charlie Brown with the Democrats’ Lucy once more as she holds the football of spending cuts in exchange for tax-rate increases, and then pulls it away by taking the increase in rates but never cutting spending…. But there are multiple ways to increase federal revenue, some of them more predictable than others, and some of them more “fair” than others.

‘Ohhh’: Jay Carney Draws Press Corps’ Ire During Testy Exchange With Fox Reporter
Excerpt: It seems the nation isn‘t the only thing that’s hot. Press Secretary entered into a testy exchange with new Fox White House reporter Ed Henry on Tuesday afternoon, after Henry pressed Carney on why the president hasn’t submitted his own debt plan, and why he went on primetime TV on Monday to blast some of the proposals out there without submitting one of his own. Carney clearly wasn’t happy with being challenged, accusing Henry of spewing Republican talking points (a serious charge from a sitting press secretary to a journalist of a major network). But Henry wouldn’t back down, and when he didn’t, Carney got personal, accusing several journalists in the room of skipping out “early” on Friday, and blaming them not being informed.

The Tragic View Returns: The therapeutic society’s world view has become unsustainable.
Excerpt:  In hard times, as in war, questions arise that were once considered taboo. As we approach $15 trillion run up in aggregate national debt, and confront the reality of a welfare state that is predicated on flawed assumptions about everything from demography to human nature, a rendezvous with brutal reality is now upon us. Indeed, an entire array of tragic questions arises in a bankrupt but suddenly open-minded society in a way unimaginable in a reactionary, affluent one with endless credit: Should those on welfare who have more than three children still qualify for increased assistance for each additional offspring? Should state-subsidized elective operations automatically be provided for the chronically obese or lifelong smokers? Does the affluent class deserve mortgage-interest deductions on second and third homes? Should U.S. troops subsidize the defense of an allied and rich Germany or Japan 66 years after World War II?

Excerpt: It is an amazing thing that the press corps has taken this long to really pin the White House down on the simple fact that Obama is the one playing political games here, creating rules for others to follow while not following them himself. The public explanation for why he doesn’t want to put forward a plan of his own makes as much sense to me as the Korean-language instructions for a photocopy machine. All I know is that the White House says it doesn’t want to release a plan because it will be held accountable for having a plan, but no one should criticize the White House for not having a plan because they actually offered one verbally that was full of “specifics” nobody will specify and the Republicans are in the dark about. Oh, and even though the president insists that if we don’t raise the debt ceiling on August 2 — cats will sleep with dogs, disco will come back, Carrot Top will move into the apartment over your garage, the Chinese will put saran wrap over our toilet bowls — he insists that he will veto any plan he doesn’t like should it actually pass Congress. Of course, saying he will veto a plan makes it less likely to pass Congress and hence prevent Götterdämmerung. So there’s that.

Excerpt: The current debt-ceiling dramatics put politicians at center stage in a high-stakes drama, and provide onlookers with a mixture of amusement, disgust and sheer horror at the dismal spectacle of the nation’s credit standing held hostage to intractable disputes over taxes and spending. There has to be, one intuitively feels, a better way. And there is. The idea is simple: Decouple debt service — payment of interest and principal due on the nation’s debt – from budgetary disputes. What is pulling both sides towards the brink, despite near-unanimity on the necessity of avoiding a default caused by failure to pay interest and principal in full and on time, is that debt service is enmeshed in the long-running, highly emotional policy disputes on the budget. These disputes reflect deep-rooted philosophical differences between the two parties on the size of government, who pays for it and how powers are distributed between the federal and local governments. The only way to resolve these issues without risk of default is to separate the issue everyone agrees on — the need to responsibly service debt — from those that generate deep divisions in the body politic.

Obama the Bore
Excerpt: Obama is going to lose his bid for re-election. Not just because of the anemic recovery, stubborn unemployment, runaway spending, staggering deficits, lack of public faith in his ability as commander-in-chief, his hostility towards Israel's government, the rise of the Tea Party, or the Republican-favoring implications of redistricting on the electoral map. Those are all factors, and the coming months will provide endless columns discussing each. (Of this I am sure, for I intend to write some of them.) But there is a more fundamental reason he'll lose: Barack Obama, once perceived as extraordinary, now just seems extra-ordinary.  He has gotten politically boring.  And America does not re-elect boring presidents. Obama isn't boring in the same conventional, square, policy-wonk manner of so many other politicians; he still acts cool, plays basketball, and parties with Hollywood's A-list. But as a president he has become boring: he is tiresome, unpersuasive, divisive, repetitive, predictable, and cynical -- importantly, the opposite of everything advertised himself to be.

Operation Fast and Furious described as “the perfect storm of idiocy” by acting ATF
Excerpt: That sums it up nicely. Funny, I don’t recall the word “gunwalking” coming up even one time during Obama’s speech yesterday to the National Council of La Raza. Would have been topical, no?

PPACA One Year Later: Small Business Owners Expect Costs to Rise
Excerpt: One year after the passage of sweeping health-insurance reform legislation, the lasting impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) on the small business community remains to be seen. A new study by the NFIB Research Foundation indicates that the overwhelming majority of small business owners do not expect the law to reduce cost or regulatory burdens, and nearly two-thirds agree that the law will result in premium increases but not in better care.

Why Some Cities Are Growing and Others Shrinking
Excerpt: Over the last three decades, large cities like Pittsburgh, Detroit, Cleveland, Buffalo, and Toledo have seen their populations shrink, while areas like Houston, Atlanta, Dallas, Tampa, and Phoenix have seen their populations grow rapidly. Examining the policy differences between high-growth and low-growth areas can provide evidence that may help declining cities reverse their fortunes. In 1980, Austin, Texas, and Syracuse, New York, were roughly the same size. The Austin metro area had a population of about 590,000, and the Syracuse metro area had about 643,000 residents. By 2007, Austin’s population had increased by more than 1 million while Syracuse’s population had been stagnant. That same disparity exists when one examines the growth of employment and real personal income. Another disparity between the two areas is the tax burden. State and local taxes accounted for nearly 13 percent of personal income in Syracuse but only about 9 percent in Austin. Although there are numerous factors that can influence the growth of individual economies, one finds a consistent relationship between low taxes and high economic growth in metropolitan areas, in states, and in nations.

In America’s National Interest—Canadian Oil: A Comparison of Civil, Political, and Economic Freedoms in Oil-Producing Countries
Excerpt: Attempting to restrict American imports of Canadian oil is a mistake that ignores both the reality of US dependence on imported oil, as well as the only major alternative sources of such oil—repressive governments that restrict civil, political, and economic freedoms. The study points out that Canada now provides more oil to America than all the Persian Gulf countries combined, even though America imports 5.5 million more barrels of oil daily than it did in 1973. Also, in 2009, the US relied on Persian Gulf countries for 14.4% of its oil imports, down from 24.5% of all US oil imports in 1979. In contrast, Canada supplied the United States with 21.2% of its oil imports in 2009, an increase from the 6.4% Canada supplied in 1979. In addition to the reality of American oil demand and imports, this report measures how major oil-producing jurisdictions around the world, defined as those that produce more than 250,000 barrels of oil daily, perform on 17 comparisons of civil, political, and economic freedoms. The comparison includes eight measurements specific to women’s freedoms. A total of 38 countries, from five continents, are compared. For example, with the exception of Norway, Canada is the only major oil-exporting country that scores highly on all measurements of civil, political, and economic freedom, including the rights of women to full career, medical and travel choices; on media freedom, religious freedom, and property rights, as well as on other measurements such as judicial independence and relative freedom from corruption.

Rep. Gutierrez arrested outside White House during protest
On the plus side, once Congressman Gutierrez (D-Tijuana) and his fellow unlimited-immigration Democrats make the US just like Mexico in crime, economics, income, education and culture, Mexicans won’t bother coming here any more. ~Bob. Excerpt: For the second time in as many years, Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez was arrested Tuesday for demonstrating outside the White House against President Obama’s record on immigration reform, his spokesman said. Gutierrez (D-Ill.) had been attending a rally of more than 1,000 Latino civil rights activists in
Lafayette Square
, across from the White House. He was among a dozen protesters who broke off from the crowd and sat down next to the White House’s perimeter security fence, said Douglas Rivlin, Gutierrez’s spokesman.

Panel grills ATF over botched gun operation
Excerpt: A high-ranking official apologized Tuesday for mistakes made in a botched Arizona gun-trafficking operation during a congressional hearing in which lawmakers grilled federal agents about why they allowed more than 2,000 firearms to hit the streets in Mexico and the United States. Deputy Assistant Director William McMahon, who oversees the western region of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said the agency made mistakes in losing control of so many firearms during the controversial Operation Fast and Furious, which was intended to disrupt a Mexican drug cartel trafficking network. (The biggest threat to our country is rapid the spread of assholism in government. ~Bob.)

Obama’s ‘70 million checks’ per month: Actually, it’s even more than that.
Do you think any of the people getting checks are for cutting spending? ~Bob. Excerpt: If nothing else, the crisis over the debt ceiling is reminding the country of the astonishing reach of the federal spigot, encapsulated by a figure that President Obama tossed out recently: The government sends out “70 million checks” every month. That works out to 27 payments per second, day after day — not just to the expected recipients, such as contractors, federal workers and Social Security beneficiaries, but also to those you might not think of, such as the victims of black lung disease and their widows (50,032 checks in June), and pensioners supported by the Railroad Retirement Board (613,912). President Obama told Americans the nation faced a 'deep economic crisis' if Democrats and Republicans could not reach a deal on spending, urging both sides to compromise. (July 25)

More than 40 Americans radicalized and joined Somali terror group to fight
Don’t worry. Homeland Security his closely watching Christian and veterans’’ groups. ~Bob. Excerpt: More than 40 Americans have been recruited and radicalized by al-Qaida-linked terrorists in Somalia and have gone to the war-torn country to fight, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee says. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., plans to outline the findings of his committee’s own investigation Wednesday during the third hearing in a series on Muslim radicalization in the U.S.

U.S. officials believe al-Qaeda on brink of collapse
This kind of prediction invites egg-on-the-face. ~Bob. Excerpt: U.S. counterterrorism officials are increasingly convinced that the killing of Osama bin Laden and the toll of seven years of CIA drone strikes have pushed al-Qaida to the brink of collapse. The assessment reflects a widespread view at the CIA and other agencies that a relatively small number of additional blows could effectively extinguish the Pakistan-based organization that carried out the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks — an outcome that was seen as a distant prospect for much of the past decade.

Limbaugh: Obama 'Clueless or Saboteur'
Excerpt: President Barack Obama is either “clueless or a saboteur” in advancing policies that are ruining the country, talk-show host Rush Limbaugh says, according to the Fox Nation blog at Fox News. “It distresses me to see what has happened to this country and to know it need not have happened, to know that has happened because of policies implemented by someone who — I don’t care — is either clueless or is himself a saboteur,” Limbaugh said on his radio show Monday. Regardless of which he might be, Limbaugh said, the nation is crumbling on Obama's watch.

Tangled Up in Washington's Red Tape
Excerpt: For months, Washington has focused on solving its uncontrolled addiction to spending. But while Congress and the White House use one hand to reach into your back pocket to take and spend your hard-earned dollars, they're using another hand to wreak a different kind of nefarious harm—the proliferation of regulations, rules, and red tape, all of which impose heavy costs on America. In the just-released "Red Tape Rising: A 2011 Mid-Year Report," The Heritage Foundation's James Gattuso and Diane Katz explain the pervasiveness of government's intrusive regulatory hand (that oftentimes goes go well beyond ensuring product safety) and how it controls nearly every facet of your daily life.

If this was the only thing Obama didn’t understand, we’d be in better shape. ~Bob. Excerpt: I’m going to tell you something that Barack Obama doesn’t understand. And because he doesn’t understand it, our country is wasting hundreds of millions of dollars at a time when we cannot afford to waste hundreds of millions of dollars. Time and again President Obama has told us how he intends to solve our health care problems: spend money on pilot programs and other experiments; find out what works and then go copy it. He’s also repeatedly said the same thing about education. The only difference: in education we’ve already been following this approach with no success for 25 years. Still, if the president were right about health and education, why wouldn’t the same idea apply to every other field? Why couldn’t we study the best way to make a computer, or invest in the stock market and do any number of other things — and then copy it? I want to propose a principle that covers all of this: entrepreneurship cannot be replicated. Put differently, there is no such thing as a cookbook entrepreneur.

Editorial: Gov't Welfare Widens The Wealth Gap
Excerpt: The gap in wealth between white Americans and minorities is the widest it's ever been, a new report says. Could it be that the government, while intending to help those in need, in fact ends up hurting them? New Census data show that the recent economic crash has erased decades of minority gains in wealth. The net worth of whites is now 20 times higher than for blacks and 18 times higher than for Hispanics, both records. For white households, the median net worth (assets minus liabilities) in 2009 was $113,149. That compares to $6,325 for Hispanics and $5,677 for black Americans. There are, of course, many reasons for this. While minority families gained from the economic growth of the 1980s, 1990s and mid-2000s, much of their wealth was tied up in their homes. When the housing market crashed in 2008, so did their net worth. Meanwhile, whites have been helped by the rebound in stock prices in the last two years. Stock market investments, including IRAs, 401(k)s and other market-based accounts, make up 28% of white Americans' wealth, vs. just 19% for blacks and 15% for Hispanics.

Quotes from The Patriot Post
"American voters should have no patience for plans based on tax increases that never produce the amount of revenue they claim, in exchange for forming committees to discuss spending cuts that never actually happen, resulting in hypothetical deficit reduction that isn't big enough to matter." --columnist John Hayward

"President Obama named Rich Cordray to head the new Consumer Protection Agency. It is tasked to pressure banks to make more loans to people with bad credit in the interest of fairness to all. It's part of a new cabinet-level agency called the Department of Future Recession." --comedian Argus Hamilton

ATF Manager says he shared Fast and Furious Info with White House
Not going under the bus or under the rug. ~Bob. Excerpt: At a lengthy hearing on ATF's controversial gunwalking operation today, a key ATF manager told Congress he discussed the case with a White House National Security staffer as early as September 2010. The communications were between ATF Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix office, Bill Newell, and White House National Security Director for North America Kevin O'Reilly. Newell said the two are longtime friends. The content of what Newell shared with O'Reilly is unclear and wasn't fully explored at the hearing. It's the first time anyone has publicly stated that a White House official had any familiarity with ATF's operation Fast and Furious, which allowed thousands of weapons to fall into the hands of suspected traffickers for Mexican drug cartels in an attempt to gain intelligence. It's unknown as to whether O'Reilly shared information with anybody else at the White House.

Job Destruction Makes Us Richer by Walter E. Williams
Excerpt: Here's what President Barack Obama said about our high rate of unemployment in an interview with NBC's Ann Curry: "The other thing that happened, though -- and this goes to the point you were just making -- is there are some structural issues with our economy, where a lot of businesses have learned to become much more efficient with a lot fewer workers," adding that "you see it when you go to a bank and you use an ATM; you don't go to a bank teller. Or you go to the airport and you're using a kiosk instead of checking in at the gate." The president's statements suggest that he sees labor-saving technological innovation as a contributor to today's high rate of unemployment. That's unmitigated nonsense. Let's see whether technological innovation causes unemployment. In 1790, farmers were 90 percent, out of a population of nearly 3 million, of the U.S. labor force. By 1900, only about 41 percent of our labor force was employed in agriculture. By 2008, fewer than 3 percent of Americans were employed in agriculture. Through labor-saving technological advances and machinery, our farmers are the world's most productive. As a result, Americans are better off.

82% Say Workers Should Be Allowed To Choose Their Own Insurance
Unfortunately, Obama and Congressional Democrats are in the other 18%. ~Bob. Excerpt: Though a majority of voters believe the system of employers providing health insurance to their workers is a good one, most believe employees should be allowed to pick their own. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely Voters shows that 82% believe that, if it didn’t cost the employer any extra money, a worker should be allowed to pick his or her own health insurance plan if they didn’t like the one provided by the employer. Only eight percent (8%) say the worker should not have this option.

Pakistan's Double Cross
Excerpt: A Virginia man accused of running a Pakistani-financed program to influence American policy toward the disputed Kashmir region can be released on bond once his wife surrenders her passport and other conditions are met, a federal judge ruled late Tuesday afternoon. Syed Gulam Nabi Fai will be subject to electronic monitoring while awaiting his trial. The allegation that Pakistan routed more than $4 million to Fai to give to politicians and organize programs related to Kashmir is the latest in a series of revelations that have taken U.S.-Pakistani relations to the brink. The May 2 Navy SEAL strike killing Osama bin Laden in a walled-compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan accelerated the deterioration of already strained relations. Incredulous American officials openly doubted Pakistani claims that bin Laden's presence was unknown to, and unsupported by, people in the government.

Are you kidding me
Small business owner speaks out.

The Myths of Oslo
Excerpt: The more I look at the Oslo massacre, the more I am struck by how archaic it all is. The killer fancies himself a noble defender of a Western world that no longer exists, and has not existed, really, since the First World War destroyed it. He is the sort of fascist who believes in the myth of a Golden Age that must be restored, and vaingloriously sees himself a member of the elite chosen by history to defend the mythical West. He fancies himself a warrior fighting against two mortal enemies: “Marxism” and “Islam.” He needn’t have bothered; they both died a long time ago. The first was effectively demolished in the Cold War with the defeat of the Soviet Empire. Yes, there are certainly Marxists around, and even communists, but there is no longer a worldwide mass movement challenging the West in the name of dialectical materialism. Their contemporary warriors are intellectuals, not workers, and they are more often masked as liberals or moderates than openly leftist revolutionaries. That’s because there is no market for revolutionary Marxism, as Van Jones can explain to you. The second, “Islam,” has been moribund for centuries. Virtually all the countries calling themselves “Islamic” are failed states whose citizens are starving, whose industries are generations behind those of the contemporary West, and whose most talented young people are mostly eager, even desperate, to live and work in infidel countries. Yes, there are certainly plenty of murderous jihadis around, but although they work very hard at killing us (typically often blowing themselves up instead, or setting their own underwear on fire), they are most effective against other Muslims. Even outside the “Muslim world” — as President Obama called it during his unfortunate address in Cairo in 2009 — the hard-core pro-jihad, let’s-create-a-new-caliphate crowd visits misery on correligionaries packed into ghettos and force fed a particularly nasty version of shariah.

Afghan Mayor Assassinated by Suicide Bomber With Exploding Turban
Excerpt: A suicide bomber hiding explosives in his turban assassinated the mayor of Kandahar on Wednesday, just two weeks after President Hamid Karzai’s powerful half brother was slain in the southern province that is critical to the U.S.-led war effort. Mayor Ghulam Haider Hamidi, 65, was the third powerbroker from southern Afghanistan to be killed in just over two weeks, underlining fears of a surge in violence in the wake of the slaying of the president’s half brother. The Taliban have claimed responsibility for all three attacks, yet the area is rife with tribal rivalries and criminals and it is not yet certain who is behind the trio of killings. (Remember when the Muslims went nuts over a cartoon of Mohammad with an exploding turban? Apparently some took notes. ~Bob.)

Yet Again, MSM Repeats the ’90 Percent Lie
Excerpt: Once again, here is the truth: Far more than 29,284 firearms were recovered in Mexico in 2009-10. The 29,284 figure only includes those weapons that the Mexican police and military recovered, inspected, and determined possibly could have come from the United States, and then submitted to the U.S. for tracing. But far more weapons were recovered, inspected, and determined to come from Central American or Mexican government stockpiles or from the black market (primarily from Asia). President Barack Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, and Hillary Clinton originally championed the 90 percent lie. Which has now become the 70 percent lie, which is better, but still not close to the eight percent truth.

'Fast And Furious' Gun Trafficking Operation Slammed By ATF Agents
Excerpt: The hearing came just hours after the release of a joint House and Senate report providing new details on the investigation, code-named "Operation Fast and Furious." According to the report, at least 122 guns tied to the operation have been found by Mexican authorities at crime scenes or were recovered during police action against drug cartels. The operation was "a perfect storm of idiocy," Carlos Canino, a senior ATF agent in Mexico, said in the report. Other current and former ATF agents testified at the hearing that the operation violated basic agency protocols. The "Fast and Furious" operation first ignited controversy in March after whistleblowers within the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms revealed to the media and members of Congress that a gun tied to the program had been found last December among a cache of weapons at the murder scene of a Border Patrol agent. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle vented their fury at the ATF for the operation. (Although this article dates the original revelation of F&F to March of this year—I thought it was older, but can’t find any record of it—this is the first mention of it I’ve seen anywhere except conservative sites. Perhaps the issue is getting some belated traction in the MSM. We’ll know for sure if the NYT runs an editorial explaining why F&F was really good for us and congratulating the administration for thinking of it. Ron P. Chicago Tribune had an editorial on it. ~Bob.)

Press seven for …
You grumble, especially in places like Arizona, Texas, California, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, and the South generally of the wide-spread use of Spanish, rather than English. Well let me tell you that in multi-cultural Britain, things are quite different. Today I received a small pamphlet from "Thames Water" regarding their service of "Sewerage" to the residents of the London Basin area. On page 7 of an 8-page pamphlet it states as follows: "It is very important that you understand the enclosed information. If you need more help, because English is not your first language, please contact Thames Water on the telephone number below as soon as possible. When contacting us please give us your name, address, telephone number and language used. We will call you back immediately with a translator." Then follows on pages 7 and 8 this same statement in the following languages: Albanian, Arabic, Bengali, Cantonese,  Farsi,  French,  Gujarati, Hindi, Kurdish, Mandarin, Polish,  Portuguese,  Punjabi, Pushtu, Somali, Spanish, Tamil, Turkish, Urdu, Vietnamese. This is "Great" Britain today. Oh! How are the mighty fallen. Shakespeare and Milton (and Winston Churchill) would turn in their graves. --Michael Sherbourne. (Michael, who is 94, is a WWII Royal Navy veteran who lives in London—as it’s currently called. We enjoy our frequent correspondence with him. ~Bob.)

The 3 Most Important Lessons in ‘Basic Economics’
Sowell’s classic is a MUST READ book. ~Bob. Excerpt: It’s difficult to count the number of economic myths Sowell debunks. More challenging is to determine which are the most important. Political ideologies can be a bit like dominos – just disrupting a single idea can be the beginning of a chain reaction that will eventually result in a changed mind. These three insights are perhaps some of the most important talking points to keep in mind when stumbling into political discussions with those less informed on basic economic principles.

Al-Qaeda in Iraq: "All the Shi'ites, including merchants or government officials, are infidels and confiscating their money is part of jihad"
Excerpt: This point does not apply only to al-Qaeda's enmity with Shi'ite Muslims; nor did al-Qaeda make it up. Muhammad said: "I have been ordered (by Allah) to fight against the people until they testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah's Apostle, and offer the prayers perfectly and give the obligatory charity, so if they perform a that, then they save their lives [and] property from me except for Islamic laws and then their reckoning (accounts) will be done by Allah" (Sahih Bukhari 1.2.24, emphasis added).

Is Obama Stacking The West Point Board With Activists?
Excerpt: President Obama on Tuesday appointed an openly gay former Army officer to the U.S. Military Academy’s Board of Visitors. Former Capt. Brenda S. “Sue” Fulton, a founding board member of OutServe, an association of actively serving gay military personnel, is also co-founder and executive director of Knights Out, an organization of gay West Point graduates. She graduated in 1980 with the first West Point class to include women. (I don’t care that she’s Gay if she brings some qualifications beyond that to the board. If this is about getting gay votes for Obama in 2012, rather than the quality of the officers who will lead our troops in battle, then, yes, I have a problem with it. ~Bob.)

Chinese jets chase U.S. surveillance jet over Taiwan Strait
Excerpt: According to defense officials, the intercept took place June 29. The two Chinese jets flew from a base in China to head off an Air Force U-2 spy plane over the dividing line in the 100-mile wide Taiwan Strait. (…) It is not known how the Su-27s were able to follow the U-2, which normally flies at much higher altitudes than the warplanes. (…) Disclosure of the June 29 aerial encounter comes amid growing tensions over Chinese aggressiveness in the South China Sea. In recent weeks China has clashed with Vietnam and the Philippines over sovereignty claims in the sea, which is believed to hold large energy resources and is a strategic transit point.

Poll: Romney weakening, GOP field still in flux
I’d rank Pawlenty, Bachmann and Perry as my favorites, Romney near the bottom. ~Bob. Excerpt: A new Gallup poll finds Mitt Romney still at the top of the Republican presidential field, but with opponents closing in. And in a sign of the still-unsettled nature of the GOP race, Romney's three closest pursuers aren't in the race. When Gallup included the names of potential candidates in surveying Republican and Republican-leaning voters, the results show Romney leading, with 17 percent of those polled; Texas Gov. Rick Perry in second, with 15 percent; Sarah Palin, with 12 percent, Rudy Giuliani, with 11 percent; Michele Bachmann, 11 percent; Ron Paul, eight percent; Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich, with three percent each; and Tim Pawlenty, Jon Huntsman, and Rick Santorum, with two percent each. At the moment at least, Perry, Palin, and Giuliani are not in the race.

Grim officer-fatality statistics at mid-year
Excerpt: As we followed news reports in the first half of 2011, we suspected that law enforcement fatalities were up sharply. Sadly, statistics released this week by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund(NLEOMF) bear out our worst fears. Ninety-eight law enforcement officers died in the line of duty during the first half of this year, up 14 percent over the 86 officers who lost their lives during the same period last year. Equally alarming is the fact that 40 officers were killed by gunfire, a 33 percent increase over the same period last year, and the highest number in two decades. As we’ve noted, it is very troublesome that police officer deaths are on the rise while overall crime rates are generally on the decline across the U.S.

Food Totalitarians on Parade
Excerpt: Within the last few years, we have been treated to attempts by government to control our food intake with regulatory "nudges" and legislative edicts. Sugar, salt, trans-fats, fats in general, fast foods, and school lunches are just a few ingredients and food types which have come under assault by sanctimonious busybodies seeking to dictate "healthy" eating to everyone. (…) The question itself makes a fundamentally flawed assumption and exhibits arrogance. Why is it anyone's job to "get Americans to change [their] eating habits?" By posing the question in the first place, Bittman implicitly considers himself to be among a select minority tasked with providing guidance to the majority. (…) The statement exhibits an elemental misunderstanding of human nature and sound business practice--knowledge voids common to food totalitarians. In fact, Bittman gets cause and effect bass-ackwards. Successful businesses comprehend people's desires and market products designed to satisfy those desires. (Somewhere out there, there is an un- or under-employed busybody who will cheerfully make your every decision for you. Providing you're willing to allow her/him to do it. Warning: their decisions will be no better than yours, and far less fun for you; why should they care about your fun, it isn't like it was their fun. The adults among us will continue to muddle along making our own mistakes and pursuing our own happiness, and telling the busybodies to go soak their heads. This is why the anointed call any who insist on making their own decisions "stubborn, unsociable curmudgeons."  Ron P.)

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