Saturday, August 27, 2011

Political Digest for August 27, 2011

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

Dennis Miller Interview
I’m scheduled to be interviewed about The Coming Collapse of the American Republic on Dennis Miller’s radio program at 11:34 am, EDT on Tuesday, August 30, 2011. You can listen live for free at

Leading Cartoon

Warning to budget mavens: ‘Tax expenditures’ may yield less than expected
Excerpt: It’s sometimes seen as the holy grail of revenues — a huge pot of money hidden in the tax code, ready to be exploited to rebalance the gap between spending and revenues. We’re talking about “tax expenditures,” which include everything from the home mortgage deduction for homes to tax credits for college loans or energy-efficient vehicles. In the past 20 years, scores of such provisions have popped up in the tax code, in part because it has been easier to win approval for tax cuts than new spending programs. Some people, such as Simpson above, argue that these really are spending programs in disguise, though he overstates the case when he calls them “earmarks,” which are generally targeted to a small number of people. Millions of Americans benefit from these provisions. In fact, one study by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities concluded that if the estimated $1 trillion revenue loss from tax expenditures were counted as a spending item, then it would dwarf the annual spending for Medicare and Medicaid ($719 billion), Social Security ($701 billion) and national defense ($689 billion).

“Tax Expenditure”—What it Means
You earn $40,000. I tax you for $10,000 of it. I count the $30,000 you earned that I let you keep as a “Tax Expenditure,” because I could have taken it also. Last night, I had an expenditure of several thousand dollars, because I went into a liquor store and didn’t rob it, though I could have. Every one of these deductions or “tax expenditures” is in the code for a reason. Some may be good, some bad, depending on your viewpoint. You could bring in a lot of money by eliminating the home interest and property tax deductions. You’d also murder the housing market. Having lost $30k in value of our $160k condo purchase in two years, that one makes me nervous. You could eliminate deductions, I mean tax expenditures for charitable giving, but you might kill off charities. You could also eliminate the whole mess and go to the “fair tax” on consumption, rather than on income. Fat chance.

Tehran’s Nuclear Endgame: Will self-preservation keep Iran from using nuclear arms? Don’t bet your life.
Excerpt: Moammar Qaddafi’s rule might be crumbling, but the colonel refuses to quit. On the evening of August 23, Qaddafi loyalists launched Scuds at the rebel-run town of Misrata. The missile strikes will be a footnote to the last days of the Transitional National Council’s struggle to unseat Qaddafi, but Western policymakers should not ignore them, for reasons that have less to do with Libya and far more with the Islamic Republic of Iran. Both Pres. George W. Bush and Pres. Barack Obama declared that they would not allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons. “The free world cannot allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon,” Bush declared on CBS’s Face the Nation in 2006. Obama, for his part, told the Associated Press in 2009 that he’s “not reconciled” with Iran’s theoretical possession of nuclear weapons during his presidency. Bush left office with his policy in tatters. Obama sought renewed diplomacy, but this too has failed.

DOJ Keeping Islamic Bank Settlement Secret
Excerpt: The Justice Department has agreed to end its investigation into an international financial network with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and a Saudi prince in a settlement in excess of $30 million, sources tell the Investigative Project on Terrorism. But DOJ officials refuse to release a copy of the settlement or make any comment on it. "Unfortunately, we're unable to provide anything in connection with this matter," DOJ spokesman Charles Miller wrote in response to a query Aug. 16. He did not contest the existence of the settlement with the Islamic Investment Company of the Gulf (IICG). Repeated attempts to obtain the settlement, or at least a clear explanation of why it cannot be released when most government settlements are a part of the public record, have been unsuccessful. "We will have no further comment," Miller said Wednesday.

Survey: Overhaul may push employee benefits shift
Of course, by 2014, Barack “If-you-like-your-insurance-you-can-keep-it” Obama will either be safely re-elected, or retired and making $500m a year on the speaking circuit, describing how these folks who don’t like ObamaCare are all racists. Even the black ones. ~Bob. Excerpt: Nearly one of every 10 midsized or big employers expects to stop offering health coverage to workers after insurance exchanges begin operating in 2014 as part of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, according to a survey by a major benefits consultant. Towers Watson also found in its July survey that another one in five companies are unsure about what they will do after 2014. Another big benefits consultant, Mercer, found in a June survey of large and smaller employers that 8 percent are either "likely" or "very likely" to end health benefits after the exchanges start. The surveys, which involved more than 1,200 companies, suggest that some businesses feel they will be better off dropping health insurance coverage once the exchanges start, even though they could face fines and tax headaches.

He lied. So what. ~Bob. Excerpt: President Barack Obama address the American Medical Association during their annual meeting in Chicago, Monday, June 15, 2009 where he vowed, "No matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise to the American people...If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what." (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) In June 2009, as he fought to pass the Democrats' national health care bill, President Obama made a clear, unequivocal pledge. "No matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise to the American people," Obama said. "If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what." Spoken with great confidence, Obama's words were meant to reassure, and it's possible many Americans believed them. But at the same time, the president and his Democratic allies in Congress built the new health care law on provisions that, when acting together, guarantee that some people -- perhaps many people -- won't be able to keep their health care plans.

Physician-Owned Hospitals
ObamaCare put a spike in new physician-owned hospitals, which will hurt healthcare, but on the plus side will put millions in his campaign fund from the hospital association whose members wanted to eliminate the competition. ~Bob. Excerpt: Excerpt: A competitive health care market is vital to ensure high quality, cost effective health care for patients. Some of the most competitive participants in the health market in recent years have been physician-owned hospitals (POHs), says Spencer Harris, a health care policy analyst, and Brad Zarin, a research associate, with the Texas Public Policy Foundation. These facilities provide broad consumer choice, cutting-edge innovation and equipment, high quality of care and high patient satisfaction. This added competition from POHs has been a wakeup call for some general hospitals, forcing them to innovate to stay competitive. However, provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) have essentially eliminated future expansion of POHs. By effectively removing this competition from the marketplace, access to high quality health care for patients will be diminished. The prohibition in the PPACA against physician-ownership of hospitals removes a clear source of competition to non-physician owned hospitals. As a result, the law constricts the economic effectiveness of the physician-owned facilities. Just as the free market has served us well in so many other sectors of the American economy, so free market solutions should remain a major force for more effective delivery of health care services as well, say Harris and Zarin.

Rigged For Failure
The public will pay at the pump, but most of them will blame the oil companies, so Obama’s safe on this issue, despite the hosing we are taking. ~Bob. Excerpt: A year ago, three oil rigs fled the Gulf of Mexico for better opportunities abroad. Now, it's 10. Make no mistake, the toll is rising on a business environment marked by the Obama administration's uncertainty. It's a sorry spectacle when rigs, the mighty instruments for extracting oil and gas from miles under the sea floor, are quietly pulling away from U.S. coasts for better business environments oceans away — namely the Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Egypt and Brazil. "When you have companies that would be spending hundreds of millions of dollars, or in some cases billions of dollars, they need certainty," Louisiana Oil & Gas Association President Don Briggs told "We don't have that now, and I don't expect we will anytime soon." The massive planning, capital, project management and luck required to produce energy are uncertain enough. The climate of government caprice makes it even worse. The 2010 BP oil spill proved Obama's anti-energy production talk was more than rhetoric — it was policy.

End the War on Salt The Council of Better Business Bureaus recently rolled out new criteria for reducing the sodium, sugar and fat in children's food and beverages. Seventeen companies are participating in the initiative, including the Campbell Soup Company, General Mills and Kraft Foods. Many food manufacturers are working to preempt regulation by reducing the sodium content in their products at considerable cost -- costs that are being passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices, say Luke Pelican, a Google Policy Fellow, and Jacqueline Otto, a research assistant, at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Health writer Melinda Wenner Moyer has called for an end to the "war on salt," saying there is no conclusive evidence to warrant sweeping and intrusive mandates to reduce or eliminate salt from foods. Moyer cites a 2011 study that found "no strong evidence that cutting salt intake reduces the risk for heart attacks, strokes or death in people with normal or high blood pressure." And scientists with the European Project on Genes in Hypertension recently published the results of another study in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggesting an inverse correlation between sodium consumption and heart-disease deaths. One of the main driving forces behind the anti-salt crusade is a 1970s study that showed a high salt diet caused high blood pressure in rats. This study, however, made the common fallacy of mistaking correlation for causation and failed to control or account for myriad additional variables. In reality, each person's individual risk of heart disease is based on many factors, including lifestyle, genetics and access to health care. Diet, including sodium consumption, is only one of many factors. It is foolhardy for politicians to lump all individual cases together and make prescriptions for society at large that will limit individual choice and raise our cost of living. The European Project on Genes agrees, noting their conclusions "do not support the current recommendations of a generalized and indiscriminate reduction of salt intake at the population level."

Global Warming’s Heavy Cost
To the mass market, this is what passes for climate reporting. Why is it that “weather” becomes “climate” whenever they want to scare us? I’ve given up trying to count the errors and misdirections in this article (watch the magician’s left hand waving around, not the right hand that’s doing the trick). It fits the left’s world picture, so it must be correct—even if it isn’t. We were promised (by Al Gore and his minions) more, bigger, and more destructive hurricanes after Katrina; in fact, tropical cyclonic storms, worldwide as well as around North America, have been at historic lows for the past 6 years (every year of which we were told was “the warmest year on record”). “I” is the 9th letter of the alphabet; names are given to tropical depressions with cyclonic movement, not just hurricanes. Remember that a few weeks after Katrina, Wilma—23rd letter of the alphabet—hit just west of the track Katrina had left (THAT was a busy year, this isn’t). The “weather related disasters” alluded to have no more relation to each other, or climate change than they do to the Fukushima earthquake (but, then, there are probably some warmists claiming that was also due to climate change). None of which means Irene won’t cause a lot of damage; surely she will. It just won’t have any relation to climate change. Ron P. Excerpt: Remember—this year has already seen more billion-dollar weather-related disasters than any year in U.S. history. Last year was the warmest ever recorded on planet Earth. Arctic sea ice is near all-time record lows. Record floods from Pakistan to Queensland to the Mississippi basin; record drought from the steppes of Russia to the plains of Texas. Just about the only trauma we haven’t had are hurricanes plowing into the U.S., but that’s just luck—last year was a big storm year, but they all veered out to sea. This year we’re already on letter I—which in a normal year we don’t get to until well into October. Every kind of natural system is amped up, holding more power—about ¾ of a watt extra energy per square meter of the Earth’s surface, thanks to the carbon we’ve poured into the atmosphere. This is what climate change looks like in its early stages.

Too funny: Kinky for Perry
Excerpt: Kinky Friedman once ran against Rick Perry for the Texas governorship. So would the singer and writer vote for him for president? Hell, yes! The world’s most famous Jewish cowboy on why he wants to live in Rick Perry’s America. … Rick Perry has never lost an election; I’ve never won one. Maybe that’s what’s wrong with the world. On the other hand, I’ve long been friends with Bill Clinton and George W., and Rick Perry and I, though at times bitter adversaries, have remained friends as well. It’s not always easy to maintain friendships with politicians. To paraphrase Charles Lamb, you have to work at it like some men toil after virtue. I have been quoted as saying that when I die, I am to be cremated, and the ashes are to be thrown in Rick Perry’s hair. Yet, simply put, Rick Perry and I are incapable of resisting each other’s charm. He is not only a good sport, he is a good, kindhearted man, and he once sat in on drums with ZZ Top. A guy like that can’t be all bad. When I ran for governor of Texas as an independent in 2006, the Crips and the Bloods ganged up on me. When I lost, I drove off in a 1937 Snit, refusing to concede to Perry. Three days later Rick called to give me a gracious little pep talk, effectively talking me down from jumping off the bridge of my nose. Very few others were calling at that time, by the way. Such is the nature of winning and losing and politicians and life. You might call what Rick did an act of random kindness. Yet in my mind it made him more than a politician, more than a musician; it made him a mensch. These days, of course, I would support Charlie Sheen over Obama. Obama has done for the economy what pantyhose did for foreplay.

Worth Reading: Obama's Race-Based Spoils System
Excerpt: A week ago, an item buried in The Washington Post reported that Obama had "issued an executive order requiring government agencies to develop plans for improving federal workforce diversity." Obama, wrote Isaac Arnsdorf, is targeting "a problem that has been on the administration's radar. Whites still hold more than 81 percent of senior pay-level positions." Now, as white folks are two-thirds of the U.S. population, and perhaps three-fourths of those in the 45 to 65 age group who would normally be at senior federal positions, why is this "a problem"? As no one has contended otherwise, we have to assume that the men and women who hold these top positions got there because of the longevity of their service and the superiority of their skills. Why is the color of their skin a "problem" for Barack Obama? As reported here previously, African-Americans are hardly underrepresented in the U.S. government. Though only 12 percent to 13 percent of the U.S. population, blacks hold 18 percent of all federal jobs. (Companies whose black employee numbers don’t match the general population are sued by the government for discrimination, based on “disparate impact” despite the fact that the average age of blacks is much lower, meaning a greater percent of blacks are not of working age. So why cannot whites sue the federal government, not to mention the NBA, for discrimination, based on the “disparate impact” rule.? ~Bob.)

Liberals’ Wisconsin Waterloo
Excerpt: The residues of liberalism’s Wisconsin Woodstock — 1960s radicalism redux: operatic lamentations, theatrical demonstrations and electoral futilities — are words of plaintive defiance painted on sidewalks around the state capitol. “Solidarity forever” was perhaps painted by a graduate student forever at the University of Wisconsin. “Repubs steal elections” is an odd accusation from people who, seeking to overturn the 2010 elections, cheered Democratic — a congenial refuge for labor-subservient Democrats — in order to paralyze the duly elected legislature. The authors of the sidewalk graffiti have at least read Jefferson: “The tree of liberty is watered by the blood of tyrants.” The tyrant is “$cott Walker American Fa$ci$t.” Who, on a recent morning, was enjoying the view and the turn of events. From the governor’s mansion on the shore of sparkling Lake Mendota you can see on the far shore the famously liberal university, from which came many of those who protested his “budget repair” bill that already seems to have repaired many communities’ budgets, in addition to the state’s. Ostensibly, the uproar was about Walker’s “assault” — Barack Obama’s hyperbole — on union rights. Walker’s legislation does limit the issues subject to collective bargaining and requires teachers and most other public employees to contribute more of the costs of their health and pension plans. Hitherto, in Wisconsin’s school districts, teachers contributed on average 5 percent or less to their health-care premiums.

The Right Strategy to Fight Terrorism
Excerpt: In what has been described as an "act of international terrorism," news agencies report that a suicide car bomb struck the United Nations building in Abuja, Nigeria's capital, on Friday. Though details are sketchy and there is no immediate claim of responsibility, if the attack is, indeed, an act of terrorism, it reaffirms what we already know: The world continues to face an ongoing threat--and America must be prepared for the next wave of terrorist attacks. Since September 11, 2001, at least 40 Islamist-inspired terror plots aimed at the United States have been thwarted. And though all categories of successful terrorist attacks against U.S. targets (both at home and overseas) have been on a downward trend since 2005, the number of disrupted plots has risen considerably since 2007. In a new paper by The Heritage Foundation Counterterrorism Task Force, "A Counterterrorism Strategy for the 'Next Wave,'" Heritage lays out steps that America should take to ensure a successful end to the long war against terrorism.

Duty, Honor, Football: What West Point could teach Miami.
Teach Miami? How about Washington first. ~Bob. Excerpt: The honor code at West Point possesses an admirable directness: "A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do." In those few words the United States Military Academy sends a clear message about what the institution expects of its cadets. Of its 12 words, the last five are the most difficult. Plainly it's not enough to behave honorably oneself. Cadets also bear responsibility for the community, which requires they not "tolerate" misbehavior in their fellow cadets.  The code comes to mind while reading the sordid news about the University of Miami's football program. The Hurricanes have been in the headlines since last week, when Yahoo! Sports ran a story about a former booster—now serving time in federal prison for a $930 million Ponzi scheme—who says he spent millions on cash, hookers, holidays and entertainment for players from 2002 to 2010, at times with the knowledge of coaches. As a result, Miami is now fighting off a threat by the National Collegiate Athletic Association to impose the "death penalty"—i.e., banning the football team from competing for at least a year.

Quote of the Week from the Patriot Post
"The problem is that the way [President] Bush has done it over the last eight years is to take out a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of our children, driving up our national debt from $5 trillion dollars for the first 42 presidents -- number 43 added $4 trillion dollars by his lonesome -- so that we now have over $9 trillion dollars of debt that we are going to have to pay back. [That's] $30,000 for every man, woman and child. That's irresponsible. It's unpatriotic." --Barack Obama on July 3, 2008. Apparently, Bush was unpatriotic because adding $4 trillion to the debt took him eight years. Obama needed just two.

Guitar Frets: Environmental Enforcement Leaves Musicians in Fear
Obama and Holder keeping us safe from G-strings. ~Bob. Excerpt: Federal agents swooped in on Gibson Guitar Wednesday, raiding factories and offices in Memphis and Nashville, seizing several pallets of wood, electronic files and guitars. The Feds are keeping mum, but in a statement yesterday Gibson's chairman and CEO, Henry Juszkiewicz, defended his company's manufacturing policies, accusing the Justice Department of bullying the company. "The wood the government seized Wednesday is from a Forest Stewardship Council certified supplier," he said, suggesting the Feds are using the aggressive enforcement of overly broad laws to make the company cry uncle.

Indonesia: Acehnese Sharia police chief says lesbian couple must be beheaded and burned
Well, you can’t oppose murdering gays or you’ll be Islamophobic. ~Bob. Excerpt: Fraud is one thing; they passed themselves off as a man and a woman to be legally married. But of course, Sharia takes both the crime and the punishment to an entirely different level, prescribing death for homosexuality, often in cruel, unusual, and creative ways, such as the police chief calls for here. More traditionally: "Gay people should be thrown head first off high buildings and if not killed on hitting the ground, they should be then stoned to death." - Minhaj al-Muslim (The Way of the Muslim) Sharia's prescription of death for homosexual conduct also comes from Muhammad's own orders. "Indonesian Sharia police separate Aceh lesbian couple," by Alice Budisatrijo for BBC News, August 25 (thanks to all who sent this in): Islamic police in the Indonesian province of Aceh have forced two women to have their marriage annulled and sign an agreement to separate. The women had been legally married for a few months after one of them passed as a man in front of an Islamic cleric who presided over their wedding.

More arrests and Bibles seized in Iran
Will Obama speak as forcefully about these bibles as he did about the Qur’an burning? Hold your breather. ~Bob. Excerpt: Christians in Iran are facing increasing hostility from authorities in the officially Islamic country. Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has received reports that a pastor has been arrested for a second time on August 17. Abdolreza ‘Matthias’ Haghnejad, a pastor in the evangelical Church of Iran denomination, was reportedly re-arrested by Iranian authorities in Rasht whilst making a pastoral visit.

Among the Believers
Excerpt: Nearly ten years after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, many politicians, diplomats, journalists and academics remain reluctant even to name America’s enemies. To take but one example: John Brennan, head of the White House homeland security office, has argued that America is only “at war with al Qaeda” and its closest affiliates. I understand the impulse to frame the conflict as narrowly as possible. Brennan and others do not want to reinforce al-Qaeda’s message that Muslims from Afghanistan to Iraq to Israel to Paris to Detroit must choose between the umma, the global Islamic community (“Islamic nation” is an equally accurate translation), and the West -- to fight for one and against the other. But can we not say – truthfully and without playing into al-Qaeda’s hands – that there are regimes and groups within the Muslim world that are implacably hostile to the West? Can we not say that they subscribe to a belief system called Jihadism? The late Father Richard John Neuhaus defined Jihadism as a religiously inspired ideology built on the teaching “that it is the moral obligation of all Muslims to employ whatever means necessary in order to compel the world's submission to Islam.” I would contend that there is a distinction, subtle but significant, between Jihadism and Islamism. Jihadists see warfare as the divinely ordained path to Islamic supremacy. Islamists may prefer to utilize other means. Some may even think terrorism ill-advised because attacks like those carried out in New York and Washington -- and London, Bali, Madrid and Ft. Hood -- have awakened many in the West – by no means all – to the seriousness of the threat we face.

ATF's 'Fast and Furious' firearms tracked to at least 11 violent crimes
If Bush was responsible for FEMA’s actions during Katrina, Obama is responsible for ATF’s actions in Fast and Furious. ~Bob. Excerpt: Firearms illegally trafficked under the ATF’s Fast and Furious program turned up at the scenes of at least 11 “violent crimes” in this country in addition to being involved in the death of a U.S. Border Patrol agent in southern Arizona last year, the Justice Department has acknowledged to Congress. Although Justice did not provide any details about those crime scenes, it has been learned that the additional violent crimes occurred in cities such as Phoenix, where Operation Fast and Furious was managed, and as far away as El Paso, Texas, where a total of 42 Fast and Furious weapons were seized in two separate crimes.

Jeremy Hill Bear Shooting: Man Could Face Jail Time For Killing Grizzly In His Yard
Excerpt: Jeremy Hill of Idaho is facing a trial, after he shot and killed a grizzly bear that came into his yard. Hill claims that he came into the yard where his children were playing to find three grizzly bears had entered the property. He shot one of the bears, killing it and scaring the others away. Hill reported the incident to the state authorities, who did not express concern. But federal authorities have charged Hill with killing an endangered species. The case has stoked passions has attracted many supporters, including Idaho's republican governor Butch Otter. If convicted, Hill could face a year in prison or a $50,000 fine. Hill's trial is scheduled to begin on October 4th. (In the past week, we’ve learned of a child being fined more than $500 for caring for a bird with a broken wing and this story. When are we going to tell these bean-counting morons we’ve had enough of their guff? If they’re that fond of pristine nature, perhaps we should strip them naked and force them into the wilderness for a month or two. Not only do we humans have a natural right to defend ourselves and our families, humans are ALSO part of nature. And, we ARE the undisputed King of the beasts. Unless the court seats 12 beancounters, it’s difficult to see how any jury could convict him of more than firing a weapon close to a dwelling. Lesson learned: if you save your family from any wild beast, keep your mouth shut. Ron P.)

Yesterday’s TOJ carried a WSJ article (When Scientists Confuse Cause and Effect) that mentioned Dr. Roy Spencer’s theory that clouds helped to control the amount of heat transferred to the atmosphere. The article’s last line was that not many shared Spencer’s theory. These two related articles from Watts Up With That today appear to give Dr. Spencer more than just a little vindication. Ron P.

CERN Experiment Confirms Cosmic Rays Influence Cloud Seeds
Excerpt: This refers to the CLOUD experiment at CERN. I’ll have more on this as it develops (updated twice since the original report now), but for the short term, it appears that a non-visible light irradiance effect on Earth’s cloud seeds has been confirmed. The way it is posited to work is that the effect of cosmic rays (modulated by the sun’s magnetic variations which either allow more or deflect more cosmic rays) creates cloud condensation nuclei in the Earth’s atmosphere. With more condensation nuclei, more clouds form and vice-versa.

Some reactions to the CLOUD experiment
Excerpt: Best known for its studies of the fundamental constituents of matter, the CERN particle-physics laboratory in Geneva is now also being used to study the climate. Researchers in the CLOUD collaboration have released the first results from their experiment designed to mimic conditions in the Earth’s atmosphere. By firing beams of particles from the lab’s Proton Synchrotron accelerator into a gas-filled chamber, they have discovered that cosmic rays could have a role to play in climate by enhancing the production of potentially cloud-seeding aerosols.

Libya has no functioning institutions. Who, then, will now be responsible for creating them from scratch? You get one guess.
Excerpt: I have to admit that during the last few months, as America and the other leftist regimes of the West have been waging war to destroy Kaddafi in the name of "democracy," I've harbored a certain sympathy for the man. One of the reasons for this I've expressed openly: it is that the U.S. has criminally betrayed him in light of the full peace he made with us in 2003, when the very neocons who now seek his downfall and death were ecstatically hailing him as our new-found ally and as marvelous proof of the rightness of President Bush's Iraq policy. But another reason for the sympathy I felt for Kaddafi was inchoate and unexpressed. It was that I saw him as a romantic, a man of imagination and flair in a world of dreary conformity--conformity either to the U.S.-led liberal order, or to "Islamism." Well, he may have been a kind of odd and idiosyncratic romantic, but he was also a murderous whimsical tyrant who cared only for himself and built nothing for his country. As made distressingly clear in an article in today's New York Times, he systematically eliminated not only all political opposition, but all government, all public and private institutions, in order to leave himself as the sole source of power. The upshot: there are no institutions in Libya for a future government to build on. So guess who is going to have to build those institutions?

3, 2, 1: Global Debt Meltdown
Excerpt: We are steamrolling toward a massive global debt meltdown, and at this point world leaders seem to be all out of solutions. Over the last 30 years or so, the greatest debt bubble in the history of the planet has produced unprecedented prosperity in the western world. But now that debt bubble is starting to burst and the bills are coming due. Many believe that “ground zero” for the coming global debt meltdown will be in Europe. Unlike the U.S. and Japan, the nations of the EU can’t just print more money to cover their debts. Nations such as Greece, Portugal and Italy must repay their debts in euros, and those nations are rapidly getting to the point where their debts are going to overwhelm them. Unfortunately, major banks all over Europe are very highly leveraged and are also very heavily invested in the sovereign debt of nations such as Greece, Portugal and Italy. If even one EU nation defaults it will start tipping over financial dominoes. If more than one EU nation defaults it could cause a cataclysmic wave of bank failures all over Europe. But Germany and the other more financially stable countries of the EU cannot bail out nations like Greece, Portugal and Italy indefinitely. Pouring money into Greece is like pouring money into a black hole. When you take money from financially stable countries and pour it into hopeless messes, you may stabilize things for a little while, but you also cause the financial condition of the financially stable nations to start deteriorating. Right now, the yield on 2 year Greek bonds is up to 44%. Basically, the market is screaming that these are horrible investments and that they will almost certainly default. (Looks like Europe may be the first domino in the meltdown sequence. --Don Hank)

Where’s The Retraction, Pumpers? (Bank of America)
Excerpt: I want to know when we’re going to get apologies and retractions of the claim that Bank of America did not need any new capital. Remember, that was a mantra. Well, how about that deal then….Bank of America Corp. (BAC), the biggest U.S. lender, said Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. will invest $5 billion to bolster the company after losses tied to subprime mortgages drained capital. Bank of America surged in New York trading. Berkshire will get cumulative perpetual preferred stock paying a 6 percent dividend, the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank said today in a statement. Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire also gets warrants to buy 700 million shares at $7.14 each. Six percent eh? That’s damn expensive money – something like 30 times the official “overnight” rate to borrow. In addition he got warrants to buy 700 million shares at $7.14 each, which are (at this writing) about 75 cents each in the money. Oh, and there’s no lock-up period on those either. Can I ask an inconvenient question on the latter? 447 million shares have traded hands on BAC this morning thus far. Were any of them shorted against the box by Berkshire, given that there are no apparent restrictions on his disposition of those warrants? (Some people, who pay little attention to what is going on around them, still think Warren Buffett represents the best that America has to offer. Actually, Warren Buffett in no way represents the American free market way. Like so many CEOs, he is a Keynesian and socialist with no respect for free market capitalism. His company represents corporatism, a crony capitalist economic system closely allied with fascism. He voted for Obama and he is getting what he voted for in the form of sweet deals like this one. --Don Hank)

Outside the Frame: Palestinian Journalist in Hiding
Watch for Obama and American journalists/feminists to speak out for her. Let me know if you hear from them. ~Bob. Excerpt: We recently blogged about news that doesn't fit the "frame." So, here's a story which doesn't fit the frame and which therefore went unreported by the mainstream press. As reported by the Palestinian Maan News Agency and the Jerusalem Post, Majdoleen Hassouneh, a Palestinian journalist, has been forced into hiding and her two brothers have been arrested by the Palestinian Authority's Preventative Security Force. Maan reported: Preventative Security forces raided the house of a Palestinian journalist in Nablus on Saturday and arrested two of her brothers in an apparent attempt to force her surrender. Majdoline Hassouneh has refused a summons to appear for questioning about her work, and even posted a copy of the document on her Facebook page along with an explanation of her refusal to appear.

Americans begin to question Obama’s leadership
Begin? Begin? I was there is early 2008! Anyone beginning now is a damn slow learner. ~Bob. Excerpt: For the better part of the last two years, President Obama’s saving grace has been his image as a strong leader who people like and trust, regardless of the issues of the day. Even that is starting to erode. A new Pew Research Center survey shows the American people are increasingly skeptical about the president’s leadership bona fides. A record high number of people say that Obama is not a strong leader (47 percent), can’t get things done (50 percent), isn’t well-informed (33 percent), is not a good communicator (22 percent) and doesn’t stand up for what he believes in (22 percent).

Martin Luther King Memorial Made in China
Very fitting source for Obama’s America. Be even more fitting if they plagiarized the design as Dr. King did for his dissertation. ~Bob. Excerpt: It is perhaps a fitting tribute to racial co-operation. However, the decision to outsource to China the carving of a new national memorial to Martin Luther King has raised eyebrows in the United States.

Perry vs. Obama: Boys will be boys
Going around the net. I understand Obama was 20 in the picture. The left is screaming racism for calling him a boy at 20, though okay to call Perry one, apparently. ~Bob. 

7 Reasons Why Liberals Are Incapable of Understanding the World
Excerpt: To understand the workings of American politics, you have to understand this fundamental law: Conservatives think liberals are stupid. Liberals think conservatives are evil. — Charles Krauthammer. Even liberals who've accomplished a lot in their lives and have high IQs often say things on a regular basis that are stunningly, profoundly stupid and at odds with the way the world works. Modern liberalism has become so bereft of common sense and instinctually suicidal that America can only survive over the long haul by thwarting the liberal agenda. In fact, liberalism has become such a toxic and poisonous philosophy that most liberals wouldn't behave differently if their goal were to deliberately destroy the country. So, how does liberalism cause well-meaning, intelligent liberals to get this way? Well, it starts with... (I refer you to two very accessible (easy reading) but well researched books by Mona Charen, Do-Gooders and Useful Idiots to fully explicate the assertions of the op-ed below. In the former, Charen documents how the unintended side effects of Great Society programs and other "progressive" programs have led to opposites results of what was hoped for; moreover, these programs have contributed to runaway costs that have become the perpetual burden for all taxpayers. In the latter, she points out how liberals find much to praise in the despotisms of the late Soviet Union, in Cuba, Chavez' Venezuela, Iran, etc. while ignoring or excusing their human rights excesses. This is in spite of the harm they do to America's security and the violent abuse of the very liberal values and interests they espouse. She also documents the widely held liberal notion that, despite hordes of illegal immigrants to the U.S., America is the source of all the world's troubles. It seems to me that most liberals live quite conservatively and in their private affairs. Privately and in business, they are capable of rational decision-making based on risk assessment; they demonstrate the ability to learn from errors and failures to change behavior and cease pursuing practices that don't work. It seems that the desire to feel good about policies created by their political leanings blind them to the rational assessment of consequences they employ in their private lives. This may be reinforced by the overwhelming effect of the cheering squad of the mainstream media that makes it hard to change their thinking. – Larry Greenberg)

Slaughtering the Left’s Sacred Cows
Excerpt: One of the great mysteries of our age is how it is that those on the Left, who aren’t even on speaking terms with logic and rationality, continue to regard themselves as the intellectual elite. But, then, how is it that America’s youth, who can barely read, write or add 5 and 6 without removing their shoes and socks, lead the world when it comes to self-esteem? I assume that whatever the answer is, it also explains why liberals continue to feel tingles running up their legs whenever they hear Obama’s voice, even when he’s lying about his mother’s illness or his grandfather’s military service. Neither are they troubled when Obama spends months on the links and gallivanting around the world rounding up campaign contributions and then, sounding like a dyspeptic school marm, chastises Republicans for not doing their homework.
(This piece fits well with the novel I just recommended, The Woolsorter’s Plague, about an Iran-backed terror attack on DC. ~Bob)

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