Thursday, August 4, 2011

Political Digest for August 4, 2011

Nice review of Collapse sent to me

Sputtering Economy Sends Dow Plunging 266 Points
So they pass the debt deal to save the economy, and… ~Bob.

Bumper Sticker
I saw a great “Defeat the House RINOs” bumper sticker. Unfortunately, it was on Nancy Pelosi’s car. ~Bob.

Misleading Words: Part II by Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: If there were a contest for the most misleading words used in politics, "poverty" should be one of the leading contenders for that title. Each of us may have his own idea of what poverty means -- especially those of us who grew up in poverty. But what poverty means politically and in the media is whatever the people who collect statistics choose to define as poverty. This is not just a question of semantics. The whole future of the welfare state depends on how poverty is defined. "The poor" are the human shields behind whom advocates of ever bigger spending for ever bigger government advance toward their goal. If poverty meant what most people think of as poverty -- people "ill-clad, ill-housed, and ill-nourished," in Franklin D. Roosevelt's phrase -- there would not be nearly enough people in poverty today to justify the vastly expanded powers and runaway spending of the federal government. … But the political left hates means tests. If government programs were confined to people who were genuinely poor in some meaningful sense, that would shrink the welfare state to a fraction of its current size. The left would lose their human shields.

Just 22% Approve of Debt Ceiling Deal, Most Doubt It Will Cut Spending
Excerpt: Most voters disapprove of the debt ceiling agreement reached by the president and Congress earlier this week and most doubt it will actually reduce government spending. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 22% of Likely Voters nationwide approve of the agreement while 53% disapprove. Twenty-six percent (26%) are not sure.

Fliers face new queries at Logan
Excerpt: Under the program, TSA officers will speak with every passenger passing through the Terminal A security checkpoint, asking each two or three questions, such as “Where are you traveling today?’’ or “How long have you been in town?’’ (...) In 2003, Logan became the first US airport to use behavior detection, modeling its system after those used at airports around the world. That program, called Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques, or SPOT, is used at 160 airports nationwide to identify and question passengers who are deemed to be suspicious. That can include anything from wearing a winter coat buttoned up in the middle of the summer to providing evasive answers to basic questions. The new 60-day trial program at Logan differs in that all travelers will face questioning, no matter what their attire or behavior. SPOT has resulted in 2,000 arrests since it began nationwide in 2004, according to the TSA, but Naccara could not say how many were terrorist-related. “We’ve identified people who have outstanding warrants,’’ he said. “We’ve identified people who’ve been doing surveillance in an airport. We’ve identified people who have been doing testing of our equipment in an airport.’’ Just last week at Logan, officials said, a TSA officer pulled aside a man who seemed suspicious and found in his carry-on bag a wallet that he had stolen from a college student in Boston. (You have to stretch to find anything unreasonable about this. Every passenger who speaks to the person sitting next to them in the waiting area or lounge asks “where are you going,” and gets a response. Destinations are hard to keep secret when catching an aircraft that only goes to its next stop. And, when EVERYONE is asked, it’s even harder to claim discrimination with a straight face. I don’t believe the Constitution guarantees a “right to fly on commercial airplanes” either. If someone is that afraid of questions, they should choose an alternative method of transport. Ron P. People is search of the Leftist Grail of Victimhood don’t need something to be “unreasonable” to claim that coveted status. ~Bob.)

Australia to use YouTube video against asylum seekers -
Excerpt: Australia’s government plans to post video on YouTube and Facebook of the first group of asylum seekers sent to Malaysia under a pact between the countries to swap refugees, in an attempt to deter asylum seekers from taking dangerous boat journeys to Australia. Releasing video of the asylum seekers at Christmas Island — an Australian territory in the Indian Ocean — boarding a plane, and arriving in Malaysia will help raise awareness of Australia’s new policy, Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said Tuesday. (we could post videos of them collecting welfare, going to school, at the emergency room, getting a drivers license. That would discourage them. ~Bob.)

Excerpt: A common charge is that the tea party was terrorist-like in its willingness to bring the fiscal system to a halt to enforce some sort of limits on new debt. I say ‘common’ since the vice president of the United States purportedly put his own brand on that slur. But tea-party efforts to control the spending were belated and reactive; the real nihilism comes from those who apparently wanted no limits on the debt they might run up and had no plan to pay it back. In one formula, we are borrowing $4 billion a day and have run up nearly $5 trillion in the first three years of this administration. To define questioning a debt of $16 trillion as heartless cutting is unhinged. The country is now in a surreal cycle of borrowing gargantuan amounts of money, and then almost automatically going ballistic should anyone suggest that we trim any of the new borrowing. Every new dollar borrowed instinctively becomes ossified and sacrosanct; as the hysteria arises not over the old baseline figures, but trimming the proposed rate of new borrowing. At what point would Obama and his team, if unchallenged, have stopped borrowing on their own? And at what point would they be happy with increasing taxes? If some in a New York or California are currently paying 45–50 percent in local, state, and federal income taxes, aside from payroll taxes, should they pay 60 percent or 70 percent — or should 5 percent of households begin to pay 70, 80, or 90 percent of the aggregate tax burden?

Republican success
Excerpt: My fellow Republicans, the debt ceiling compromise bill was a victory for us. Although the bill did not cut as much spending as we would like. it was a major shift in direction. If we had not elected a Republican Congress, the Democrats would have passed another wasteful stimulus bill. At the beginning of this debate, President Obama wanted a “clean” bill raising the debt ceiling. In other words, he wanted a blank check. Like you, I wish the bill had cut more spending, but the odds were against us. Republicans only control a slim majority in the House. The Democrats control the Senate and the White House. Let’s not forget that the mainstream media was also against us every step of the way. Speaker Boehner leveraged the Republican House as much as possible. This debate should serve as a good reminder of how important it is for the GOP to win the Senate and the Presidency. That’s the only way we will truly cut spending. Even these small cuts have been demonized by the Democrats as “satan’s sandwich” and “satan’s fries.” They will never cut spending! The answer to making our federal government fiscally accountable is to elect more Republicans. Or do you want Nancy Pelosi back as Speaker?

How Boehner escaped disaster
Excerpt: In the midst of a rebellion from his own colleagues, John Boehner faced a big decision. It was 10 p.m. last Thursday, the most stressful moment of his Speakership.
Boehner’s debt-limit bill was short on votes, and the GOP leadership was forced to change the measure so it could attract the support of recalcitrant members.
With dozens of reporters staking out the Speaker’s office and Democrats trying to contain their glee, Boehner could have pressed to work through the night to move the amended bill early Friday morning. The Ohio Republican, characteristically calm, had another plan. He told the battle-weary team of GOP leaders holed up in his office that he was going to postpone the vote until Friday. It was, to say the least, an unusual move. Delay usually means death for bills, and there were whispers that Boehner’s Speakership was on the line.

Boehner Repeals Murphy's Law The debt-ceiling deal puts the GOP in a good position for 2012.
Excerpt: When it comes to Murphy's Law—the idea that anything that can go wrong, will—we Irish have our corollary: Murphy was an optimist. Even from this sunny perspective, it's hard to look at the debt-ceiling compromise and see it as anything but a conservative victory. It's not just that Speaker of the House John Boehner succeeded in imposing some conditions in exchange for an increase in the debt ceiling. It's that the deal has Democrats, including the president, essentially signing on to the Republican framework for defining the Beltway's budget problem: spending that is too high rather than taxes that are too low. For the moment, the press focus remains on the intra-conservative spat between Republicans who favor Mr. Boehner's deal and tea partiers who largely oppose it. These disagreements will fade, however. And come the 2012 elections this deal will help force the debate that all conservatives have wanted all along—about the size, scope, and proper mission of our federal government

For House GOP, debt victory comes at a price
Excerpt: By almost any measure, House Republicans scored a major victory with the debt-limit deal, but it is a win that could come with its own political costs. The agreement signed on Tuesday satisfied two of the GOP’s longstanding demands: that spending cuts exceed the increase in the debt limit, and that taxes do not go up. Yet the near-collapse of Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) own proposal last week raised lingering questions about whether the Tea Party can be part of a governing majority, and the “messy” sausage-making, in the words of President Obama, arguably reflected worse on congressional Republicans than it did on Democrats. Public opinion favored the president throughout the process, and Obama was able to successfully portray the House GOP as the chief obstacle to the deal that eluded Washington until the eleventh hour.

Bachmann wins Round 1 over migraines
Excerpt: Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) has been at the center of a storm since provocative questions about her migraines emerged two weeks ago. Now that the dust has settled, the question is … well, whether the dust actually has settled, or whether the dirt will emerge farther down the election trail. It’s only been a few weeks since the original story about the migraines appeared, and the early verdict from political observers is that Bachmann didn’t just tread water, but might have come out stronger. Former George W. Bush strategist and No Labels co-founder Mark McKinnon said Bachmann moved “quickly and effectively to knock down the story.”

Intoxicated on Independence: Is Domestically Produced Ethanol Worth the Cost?
Excerpt: The U.S. is drunk on ethanol--but whether it is made from corn or sugarcane, the crop-derived biofuel raises a host of questions

Solving the Long-Term Jobs Problem
Excerpt: As the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act winds down, the unemployment rate remains over 9 percent and the economy is idling. It is increasingly clear that Keynesian stimulus has failed to get the economy where it needs to be. Now what? The U.S. economy faces problems that are structural and long term, not merely cyclical and short term. This helps explain why Keynesian policies failed to stimulate adequately. More importantly, appreciating the fact that the American economy faces profound structural pressures is the first step on the road to sustained recovery and perhaps the next growth boom. How do we know the problems are structural? For starters, the downward trend in the proportion of the working-age population with jobs predates the financial crisis and recession.

Bedbugs Found Carrying Drug-Resistant Staph
Thank you, Rachel Carson, for the gift that goes on giving. ~Bob. Excerpt: Some bedbugs have begun carrying a deadly staph virus, researchers report, bringing a dangerous new twist to the resurgence of bedbug infestations since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency outlawed the effective pesticide DDT 40 years ago. The nation’s bedbug population, which was almost completely wiped in the United States through the use of DDT, has grown particularly rapidly during the past 10 years. Infestations have overwhelmed schools, hospitals, apartment buildings, and hotels, particularly in large cities. Adding a new and dangerous twist to the bedbug resurgences, Canadian researchers have discovered bedbugs carrying methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium (VRE). MRSA is a bacterial infection that is highly resistant to some antibiotics and can become deadly if the infection gets through the skin and into the bloodstream. VRE is a less dangerous form of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

The Diversity of Debt Crises in Europe
Excerpt: The main causes of the debt crises in Europe varied by country. In Ireland and Spain, they were mainly due to the private sector, particularly housing. Those crises had great similarity to those in the United States -- namely, the Savings and Loan Crisis of the 1980s, the agricultural crisis in the 1980s, and the mortgage crisis in 2007-2008, says Jerome L. Stein, the Eastman Professor of Political Economy (Emeritus) at Brown University. In Greece and Portugal, the cyclically adjusted structural deficit was the major cause. In Ireland and Spain, by contrast, the domestic housing booms were financed from foreign borrowing; the creditors failed to require a risk premium related to the probability of default. The debts were excessive: the actual debt exceeded the optimal debt derived from stochastic optimal control analysis. When the capital gain fell below the rate of interest, the borrowers in the housing industry defaulted. Their creditors were the banks, which, in turn, were debtors to international lenders. A sensible early warning signal for excessive government debt is the trend of the debt burden (interest payments divided by gross domestic product). Insofar as the government deficits have a marginal product above the interest rate, the debt burden will tend to decline. Insofar as the budget deficits have marginal productivities below the interest rate, the debt burden will rise. In the cases of Greece and Portugal the trend was highly positive, whereas in Spain and Ireland the trend was negative, says Stein.

 Excerpt: Keynesian “stimulus” has failed to do anything but prop up the Status Quo. If we want to create jobs, we need to clean the house of impaired debt and lower the cost structure of the entire economy. Politicos across the spectrum and cargo-cult Keynesians are constantly bleating about “creating jobs.” You really want to create jobs instead of just helplessly wringing your soft little hands? Here’s how: 1. The only engine for jobs is small business, so quit pandering to global corporations and start pandering to the people who might actually hire someone in America. The back-of-the-envelope number bandied about is that small business creates about 60% of the new jobs in the U.S. I suspect that’s a number from a decade or two ago; in the real world of the present, it’s more like 90%. As noted here many times before, Global Corporate America is a profit machine with no loyalty to the nation or its workforce. It only has one prime directive: deploy capital and labor wherever it reaps the most profit and the quickest return. That’s it. Everything else is political propaganda and PR. This is not a judgment, it is a statement of fact. As capital is allowed to flow freely, then it seeks the highest return and the lowest labor costs. Once global supply chains are in place, then that place is rarely America. Why? Because the U.S. economy has a high cost structure for small business that’s getting higher while yielding diminishing returns. Rents are high, thanks to the real estate bubble, taxes for small business are high, healthcare costs are double that of our developed-world competitors–the list goes on. America is not an efficient place to do business; you pay high costs and taxes (if you’re a small business or self-employed), and don’t get much in return.

Saving Matt Damon
Excerpt: From Matt Damon: “Yes, the wealthy are paying less than they’ve paid in any time else, certainly in my lifetime… It’s criminal that like, you know, so little is asked of people who are getting so much, I mean, I don’t mind paying more. I really don’t mind paying more taxes. I’d rather pay for taxes than cut like ‘Reading is Fundamental’ or ‘Head Start’ or some of these programs that are really helping kids. I mean, why not? This is the greatest country in the world. Is it that much worse if you pay 6 percent more in taxes? Give me a break. You know, look at what you get for it. You get to be American.” Now, Matt Damon has a net worth of $65 million and an income of $24 million a year. 6% of his annual income would be $1,440,000. If he believes his taxes are too low, I have some advice: Matt Damon can donate a few million to Uncle Sam. Anyone can donate money by sending a check to: Gifts to the United States, U.S. Department of the Treasury…

Excerpt: Well here it comes, although they didn’t say that up front…. or did they?

Of Mustard Fuel and Marines ...How do you hide from the enemy if your camp runs on a giant windmill?.
Excerpt: Although few realize it, the military is just as susceptible to fads and political correctness as any other government agency. Thus, in response to prodding from the executive branch, both the Air Force and Navy have announced plans to get half their fuel from "renewable resources" by 2020. "We have already tested the F-18 Hornet on biofuels, the Green Hornet," Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus explained in a speech last year. "The biofuel it used was made from camelina, a member of the mustard family. . . . [T]he Marines, who are not known as leaders of the environmental movement, have embraced this wholeheartedly." There are good reasons to consider powering forward bases and combat vehicles with something other than gasoline. Studies have shown that while the army can purchase gasoline for $1 a gallon, it costs $400 to deliver that gallon to the front in Afghanistan. In Iraq and Afghanistan, one soldier or civilian was killed for every 24 fuel convoys. But are biofuels the answer?

Bill Clinton Does 'Jim Crow' --Democrats play the race card over voter ID laws..
Excerpt: The last time Bill Clinton tried to play the race card, it blew up his wife's primary campaign in South Carolina. Well, the Voice is back, this time portraying the nationwide movement to pass voter ID laws as the return of Jim Crow. "There has never been in my lifetime, since we got rid of the poll tax and all the other Jim Crow burdens on voting, the determined effort to limit the franchise that we see today," the former President warned a student group last month. Mr. Clinton is talking about states like Kansas, Wisconsin, Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and the notoriously Confederate state of Rhode Island that have instituted or tightened voter laws this year. These states are trying to reduce the incidence of voter fraud, which if not epidemic is hardly unknown in America. The liberal group Acorn's widespread voter-registration fraud in recent years drew national attention to the problem and criminal actions. The 2008 Minnesota Senatorial race, where a legal challenge over the validity of absentee ballots decided the outcome by 312 votes, was another warning sign. Kansas received 221 reports of voter fraud between 1997 and 2010, according to a recent op-ed by Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

Worth Reading: Civility': The Denouement The liberal elite grows even angrier and more desperate.
Excerpt: Did Vice President Biden liken Tea Party Republicans to terrorists in a meeting with House Democrats? Eyewitnesses say yes, but he denies it, Politico reports: Biden was agreeing with a line of argument made by Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) at a two-hour, closed-door Democratic Caucus meeting. "We have negotiated with terrorists," an angry Doyle said, according to sources in the room. "This small group of terrorists have made it impossible to spend any money." … Last Wednesday Thomas Friedman described the Tea Party as the GOP's "Hezbollah faction." The same day Maureen Dowd approvingly quoted "some Democrats" as describing the Tea Party as "the Republican 'Taliban wing.' " (In fairness we should note that the Times's Roger Cohen registered a partial dissent: "Hatred of Muslims . . . is a growing political industry. It's odious, dangerous and racist.") And it's not just the Times. quotes liberal Bloomberg columnist Margaret Carlson: "There's a nihilist caucus which is, 'Listen, we want to burn the place down.' I mean, they're not, they've strapped explosives to the Capitol and they think they are immune from it." NewsBusters also notes a cartoon from David Fitzsimmons of the (Tucson) Arizona Daily Star depicting President Obama ordering Navy SEALs to stage a bin Laden-style raid on the House side of the Capitol. Politico itself got into the act, running two op-eds last week on the theme: "The Tea Party Taliban" by Martin Frost (a Democratic ex-congressman) and "The Tea Party's Terrorist Tactics" by William Yeomans, former chief counsel to Sen. Ted Kennedy. Mary Jo Kopechne's former chief counsel could not be reached for comment. Hey, what ever happened to civility?

Why Arab leaders are largely silent on Syria's brutal crackdown
Excerpt: The Syrian regime's crackdown on the rebellious city of Hama has triggered an international outcry, with ambassadors recalled from Damascus and the United Nations Security Council convening to discuss the worsening violence. But there has been little response from Arab states to the four-month crisis in Syria, which has left some 1,500 people dead and some 10,000 detained. While Arab leaders put aside their adherence to the traditional creed of Arab unity and their distaste for public squabbles to support international action against Col. Muammar Qaddafi's regime in Libya, they are far more wary of Syria. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime sits in the heart of the Middle East and exerts influence - sometimes malign - over several neighboring countries.

How Turkey's military upheaval will affect NATO
Excerpt: The resignation of Turkey's top four military officers has been heralded as marking the end of a near decade-long power struggle between the government and armed forces. But the resignations, along with the ongoing detention of scores of officers in what government opponents claim are politically motivated criminal probes, have sparked fears that NATO's second-largest army could face an operational crisis. On July 29, Chief of General Staff Isik Kosaner, and the heads of the Army, Navy, and Air Force all requested early retirement. Kosaner said it had become "impossible for me to continue serving" due to what he called the unjust detention of 250 serving and retired military personnel, including generals and admirals. Their departures came hours after the indictment of 22 high-ranking soldiers allegedly involved in an Internet smear campaign against the government. It also followed a confrontation with the government over an upcoming meeting.

Next: The growth battle
Excerpt: The bruising debt-limit fight is over, but another battle looms -- and may well make the last one look like a walk in the park. The battle lines are already being drawn over how to grow our economy out of its current dismal state: President Obama got the ball rolling yesterday by calling for what sounds like a second stimulus package. The backdrop is of course the lousy economy and the president's lousy stewardship of it. Despite two-plus years of massive stimulus spending (including gimmicks like Cash for Clunkers) and zero-percent interest rates, the economic recovery Obama loves to brag about isn’t really recovering. Start with 9.2 percent unemployment. Wall Street analyst David Ader of CRT Capital Group estimates that, over the last month alone, around two dozen companies have announced some 60,000 layoffs, spanning just about every segment of the labor market, from finance to technology. GDP growth is almost nonexistent. Friday’s report brought not just awful numbers for the second quarter, but also a steep downward revision on first-quarter growth. Add in a separate report this week showing that manufacturing is falling off a cliff, and most serious people, left and right, in Washington and on Wall Street, fear that we could be heading for a double-dip recession.

The promise of tax hikes
Excerpt: President Obama quickly signed the debt-ceiling bill following Senate passage yesterday -- and even more quickly redeclared class warfare. Speaking in the Rose Garden, the president pointedly declared, “You can’t close the deficit with just spending cuts” -- code for “taxes must go up,” because Democrats dare not say so directly. Then came the kicker: “The wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations [must] pay their fair share.” Never mind that the tax hikes he has in mind would pulverize small business while picking the pockets of people who are by no means among “the wealthiest Americans.” It’s enough that Obama’s remarks suggest that he still hasn’t learned anything from the shellacking he and his party took at the polls last November -- or, indeed, from the defeat he was handed in the just-concluded debt negotiations. As this week’s votes on the debt ceiling neared, Obama continued to push for “revenue” -- i.e., higher taxes -- long after the leaders of his own party had quit. … Yes, the president made clear yesterday that he considers the matter far from closed. We suspect that it is -- that the American people understand fundamentally that the problem with Washington isn’t insufficient revenue, but overly enthusiastic spending. And they’re sick of it.

Abandoned allies?
Well, they should have paid attention to Vietnam, where the Communist genocide against the Montagnards, America’s onetime allies, goes forward without a peep of protest from the Left who cared so much for the “people” of Vietnam. ~Bob. Some 3,400 innocent Iranian dissidents now living in a camp in Iraq are in imminent danger of being slaughtered. These men, women and children -- members of Mujahedin-e Khalq, or People’s Mujahedin, a longtime Iranian opposition movement -- trusted America’s promise to protect them. But the gradual US withdrawal from Iraq leaves that promise in doubt. As a former base commander of Camp Ashraf, the official name of the MEK's besieged refuge, I'd like to make one thing clear: Despite charges that the MEK is a terrorist organization, these people are American allies. It would be foolish, as well as wrong, to abandon them. As America pulls back, Iranian influence is on the rise in Iraq -- notably in Diyala Province, where Camp Ashraf is located. As Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Iran’s President Mahomoud Ahmadinejad grow closer, the MEK’s situation becomes more critical. These innocents’ vulnerability was made tragically clear on April 8, when elements of the Iraqi army used US-supplied vehicles and equipment to raid the camp, killing 34 defenseless people and wounding nearly 350.

Editorial: 'Painful' Cuts? Anything But
Excerpt: After months of talk about the nation's runaway debt, lawmakers managed to agree on a plan that, at most, will cut spending by a mere 5%. Is it any wonder federal spending is out of control? Some of the reactions to the agreement hammered out by Republicans and the White House over the weekend would make you think the federal government was in for some serious downsizing. … Liberal economist Paul Krugman wrote in his New York Times column that the deal will "slash government spending" and "depress the economy even further," while other left-wing pundits worried that it would "undermine vital government services" and "impose a lot of pain." This plan will do none of that. According to IBD's analysis of available budget numbers, the deal's $2.4 trillion in 10-year cuts amounts to a mere 5% trim off total projected federal spending during that time. It's like a 400-pound man boasting that he plans to drop 20 pounds over a decade, while his doctors warn about the risks of losing weight so fast. Even calling these "cuts" is a bit of a stretch, since spending will continue to increase, just at a slightly slower pace. (See charts below.) By 2021, federal spending would still equal 22% of the nation's economy, above the post-World War II average of 20%. Not really a cut, is it?

Quotes from The Patriot Post
"They used to say that Richard Nixon had a 'secret plan' in the 1968 presidential campaign to end the Vietnam War. President Barack Obama outdid Nixon with a secret plan to control the deficit. He kept telling us of all the virtues of his plan. It was balanced, responsible, courageous and fair. It was just very, very secret." --columnist Rich Lowry

"President Obama admitted in a Kansas City radio interview the next election will be a referendum on him and his presidency. The White House quickly clarified his statement. What the president meant to say is that Bush has screwed up left field so badly that nobody can play it." --comedian Argus Hamilton

Worth reading: A Clarifying Debate
Excerpt: The story is that as Mark Twain and novelist William Dean Howells stepped outside one morning, a downpour began and Howells asked Twain, "Do you think it will stop?" Twain answered, "It always has." The debt- ceiling impasse has, as things generally do, ended, and a post-mortem validates conservatives' portrayal of Barack Obama and their dismay about the dangers and incompetence of liberalism's legacy, the regulatory state. For weeks, you could not fling a brick in Washington without hitting someone with a debt-reduction plan -- unless you hit Obama, whose plan, which he intimated was terrifically brave, was never put on paper. In a prime-time spill of his usual applesauce about millionaires, billionaires and oil companies, he said, yet again, that justice demanded a "balanced" solution -- one involving new revenues. His whistle into the wind came after Washington's most consequential Democrat, Harry Reid, proposed a revenue-free solution. By affirming liberalism's lodestar -- the principle that government's grasp on national resources must constantly increase -- Obama made himself a spectator in a Washington more conservative than it was during the Reagan presidency. By accepting, as he had no choice but to do, Congress' resolution of the crisis, Obama annoyed liberals. They indict him for apostasy from their one-word catechism, "More!" But egged on by them, he talked himself into a corner. Having said that failure to raise the ceiling would mean apocalypse, he could hardly say failure to raise revenues would be worse.

Obama Is Out of Options
Excerpt: As President Obama's former economic advisor, Larry Summers, said recently, "Never forget ... that if Hitler had not come along, Franklin Roosevelt would have left office in 1941 with an unemployment rate in excess of 15 percent and an economic recovery strategy that had basically failed." Many economic historians, such as Robert Higgs, disagree with Summers on the substantive point about World War II being good for the economy. But Summers was absolutely right politically about the New Deal and about the fact that the war saved FDR's bacon. President Obama desperately needs to make a similar change but, thank goodness, providence isn't offering any Pearl Harbors these days.

Wounded Warrior Overcomes Loss Of Arms & Legs To Pass Driving Test
Excerpt: Marine Corporal Todd Nicely is nothing short of amazing. The 27-year-old is only the second American to survive losing both his arms and legs to a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. After months in rehab at Walter Reed Army Hospital, Cpl Nicely mastered the use of his prosthetic arms and legs, recently passed a driving test, earning his license. Being able to drive means freedom to Nicely, and it also allows him to visit other wounded vets and show them that the losing a limb does not mean a life sentence in a hospital bed. (To help: Todd A. Nicely Donations, 6900 Georgia Ave, NW, Abrams Hall Box 4207, Washington, DC 20307. Do you deserve to have men like this protect you? ~Bob.)

Excerpt: To people in what I call the health policy establishment, the riddle of modern health care is: Why are health costs rising at twice the rate of growth of income all over the developed world? To me the riddle is: Why isn’t health spending rising even faster? Any time you offer people discretionary benefits that are free at the point of consumption, they are likely to exercise discretion and enjoy the benefits. Yet that’s what first-dollar health insurance coverage does. It encourages us to think that everything is free, even though we all end up paying through higher premiums and higher taxes. As a practical matter, once we pay insurance premiums, that money is combined with everyone else’s premiums in a pool. Once the money is in the pool it is no longer “ours.” In fact when we draw from the pool, we are spending everybody’s money. Moreover, the only way to get benefits from the health insurance pool is to spend money on medical care. I was musing the other day on how many opportunities I have to spend your money:

The Circle of Evil
Excerpt: The story of the day comes from Germany. It’s about comrade Horst Mahler, one of the leaders of the West German Baader-Meinhof Gang that terrorized the country in the latter days of the Cold War. Mahler was one of the founders of the Red Army Faction, which was one of the most violent terrorist groups in Europe in the 1970s and 80s. He was arrested shortly after the group’s creation, and spent many years in prison. A lawyer with a passion for defending anti-Government protesters, Mahler emerged from jail with dramatically different political convictions: he had moved from the extreme left to the extreme right, and is now serving time because of his activities as a Holocaust denier. (…) The most important aspects of the story are: Mahler’s smooth transition from communism to right-wing anti-Semitism, and his own reflections on that transition. (Hearing someone explain the difference between communism and fascism is like listening to a wine expert explaining the difference between two very common red table wines. The difference is mostly an illusion. Both are based on the collective treatment of their subjects (not citizens!). While one glorifies "the state" and the other glorifies “the masses,” both are bad for you, regardless of who you are. Ron P. well, communism murdered many more millions of people than fascism, there is that difference. Not that the fascists didn’t want to. ~Bob.)

Right Answer, Wrong Question
Excerpt: In truth, we’ve been witnessing a rare moment in American history: a debate about the size, the role, and the nature of government itself. Of course, it’s been an extremely nebulous sort of debate. Nobody has taken out impossible-to-read flow charts and tried to explain how the federal government actually works. Nor have we heard much quoting of Locke, Rousseau, Montesquieu, or Burke. Americans debate difficult issues by not debating them at all. We talk about something else, and pretend we’re discussing the real issue. While this has the effect of keeping the country from flying apart at the seams, it does nothing to advance the vitally important debates that define us as a nation and a people. (…) First, figure out what we want government to do, then fund it. The federal budget, as written, embodies what we think government should be doing for us. Thousands and thousands of pages of programs, services, agency budgets — $3.8 trillion that represents the hopes and aspirations of the people, as well as security, and life and livelihood to tens of millions. Incomprehensible? To a degree, yes. But the budget was not created by aliens and plopped on Obama’s desk. We created it. It’s all ours. And the idea that we can’t have a thorough and rational debate about what’s in that budget — that most of it is off limits or out of bounds — is absurd.

Media ‘For God and Country’: New Reported Details of SEAL Team 6′s Osama Raid
Excerpt: The New Yorker just published a gripping, descriptive, and telling look into the mission that took down mankind’s greatest living enemy: “Nine years, seven months, and twenty days after September 11th, an American was a trigger pull from ending bin Laden’s life. The first round, a 5.56-mm. bullet, struck bin Laden in the chest. As he fell backward, the SEAL fired a second round into his head, just above his left eye. On his radio, he reported, ‘For God and country—Geronimo, Geronimo, Geronimo.’ After a pause, he added, ‘Geronimo E.K.I.A.’—enemy killed in action.’” Three months to the day from that night in Abbottabad, Nicholas Schmidle gives a telling look into the most climatic moment of the 21st century thus far. According to the article, no-one, not even President Obama, may ever know the name of that SEAL who pulled the trigger, or his fellow team members who wrapped Bin Laden’s wives in a huge bear hug and dragged them aside in case they were wearing suicide bomb vests, similar to falling on a live grenade.

Report on ‘Operation Shady RAT’ identifies widespread cyber-spying
Excerpt: A leading computer security firm has used logs produced by a single server to trace the hacking of more than 70 corporations and government organizations over many months, and experts familiar with the analysis say the snooping probably originated in China. Among the targets were the Hong Kong and New York offices of the Associated Press, where unsuspecting reporters working on China issues clicked on infected links in e-mail, the experts said. Other targets included the networks of the International Olympic Committee, the United Nations secretariat, a U.S. Energy Department lab, and a dozen U.S. defense firms, according to a report released Wednesday by McAfee, a security firm that monitors network intrusions around the world. McAfee said hundreds of other servers have been used by the same adversary, which the company did not identify. But James A. Lewis, a cybersecurity expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said “the most likely candidate is China.” The target list’s emphasis on Taiwan and on Olympic organizations in the run-up to the Beijing Games in 2008 “points to China” as the perpetrator, he said. “This isn’t the first we’ve seen. This has been going on from China since at least 1998.” (The lesson seems to be: if you have secrets, don't store them on a computer. Ron P.)

Vast Majority of Muslim Americans Don't Identify with CAIR
Excerpt: They cast themselves as the voice of the American-Muslim community. But a new survey casts doubt on whether any national Islamist group can stake such a claim. For example, only 11 percent of women and 12 percent of men say the group with the highest national profile – the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) – represents their interests. Even smaller percentages of the respondents said they felt other national Muslim interest groups, like the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) and the Muslim American Society (MAS), exemplify their beliefs. A majority of men and more than 40 percent of women said that they feel no national Muslim group represents them.

Debt ceiling bill's super committee has lobbyists preparing
Don’t cut me! Don’t cut me! Borrow my grandkids money, but don’t cut me! ~Bob. Excerpt: K Street wasted little time putting clients on notice about the next phase of the debt ceiling debate with a simple message: Nobody is safe from the super committee. Lobby shops say a much-broader-than-expected range of budget cuts and tax provisions could be in play, especially compared with the relatively small group of industries that were afraid of getting a haircut during the earlier debt ceiling negotiations led by Vice President Joe Biden. And although the defense and health care industries have the most to lose from the way the debt ceiling bill is set up, that doesn’t mean everyone else can sit on the sidelines, K Street warns. “While people are relieved the debt ceiling crisis is over, they see these dark clouds on the horizon that this is not the end,” said Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti’s David Thomas. “You would be foolish to not be actively lobbying and defending priorities over the next four months.”

Suffer the Little Children
"I have been made victorious through terror" (Bukhari 4.52.220) --Mohammad. Taking a page from the VC. ~Bob. Excerpt: “The test of the morality of a society,” wrote theologian and anti-Nazi activist Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “is what it does for its children.” Or more significantly, what it does to them. For example, just when you think the Taliban couldn’t set the bar of subhumanity any lower, reporter Michael Yon, embedded with American troops in Afghanistan, reports on two instances of shocking Taliban cruelty, directed at children, that have enraged local Afghans themselves. First, the Taliban kidnapped the son of a man who refused to turn over a police vehicle to them, and tortured the 8-year-old before strangling him to death (not that this is especially atypical of the Taliban; in early June they hanged a 7-year-old Afghan boy accused of being a U.S. spy). Next, an even younger boy was forced to step on an experimental Improvised Explosive Device (IED) to test it. His leg was blown off below the knee. Locals brought the boy to a nearby American base, where he and his father were loaded onto a helicopter to Kandahar Airfield for medical care (because that’s what Americans and Israelis do: instead of torturing and murdering children, we heal them – even the children of our enemies).

Muslim Rapes Christian Toddler for Failure to Convert to Islam
Hope the girl doesn’t grow up to be Islamophobic—that would be a tragedy! ~Bob. Excerpt: Neeha and her family lived in Islamabad, Pakistan just a few years ago. When Neeha’s father, a Christian, refused to convert to Islam his 2 year old daughter was kidnapped and mercilessly raped in a field, leaving her body horribly disfigured:

The effort to regulate every aspect of your life—for your own good of course, because bureaucrats are smarter than you—continues its relentless conquest of the free spirit. ~Bob. Excerpt: Tractors lumbering down country roads are as common as deer in rural Montana, but the federal government wants to place new driving regulations on farmers and ranchers. “It’s a huge deal for us,” said John Youngberg of the Montana Farm Bureau. After years of allowing state governments to waive commercial driver’s license requirements for farmers hauling crops or driving farm equipment on public roads, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is poised to do away with the exceptions. Regulators are suggesting that all wheat shipments be considered interstate, even when farmers making short hauls to local grain elevators aren’t crossing state lines. The change would make commercial driver’s licenses — and all the log books and medical requirements that go with them — a necessity for farmers. Some might not qualify.

Sarah Palin: “Heck, If We Were Real Terrorists Barack Obama Would Want to Pal Around With Us”

Great 60-second video about the debt. ~Bob.

The Crisis of the European Union: Causes and Significance
Excerpt: Why is Europe less successful and less relevant today? I see it basically as a result of two interrelated phenomena—the European integration process on the one hand, and the evolution of the European economic and social system on the other—both of which have been undergoing a fundamental change in the context of the “brave new world” of our permissive, antimarket, redistributive society, a society that has forgotten the ideas on which the greatness of Europe was built. (Vaclav Klaus, President of the Czech Republic, has written many good speeches, articles, and letters over the years. Professor Doctor Klaus still teaches Economics at the University of Prague. Born in 1941, he has first-hand knowledge of life under both Nazi and Communist authoritarian government, and was twice Prime Minister before being elected President. This pdf also contains a brief biography of him. Ron P.)

Chevy Volt: Still Not Selling
Don’t laugh. Eventually the government will force you to buy one through tax policy. For your own good, of course. ~Bob. Excerpt: Way back in March I made fun of the Volt for selling 281 units in February. Turns out, February was a good month. But wait, there’s more! GM says they’re going to increase production to 5,000 Volts per month in order to keep up with demand. You see, they claim that the reason the Volt isn’t selling is that they can’t keep enough cars on the lot. A GM spokeswoman recently claimed that they are “virtually sold out.” Which is virtually true. Mark Modica called around his local Chevy dealers and found plenty of Volts waiting for an environmentally conscious driver to bring them home.

The Left Turns On Obama
I tend to discount Morris’s predictions, as he is usually too optimistic on the conservative side. ~Bob. Excerpt: The pathetic performance of President Obama in the debt debate is showing the left how incompetent and weak a leader it selected. Many are wishing they had Hillary Clinton in the White House instead! Once the man has to move beyond a set teleprompter speech, he is lost. During the BP disaster, he showed what a poor administrator he is. And now he has belied any pretensions to legislative skill. He is the un-Lyndon Johnson. The consequences of this disillusionment will be profoundly felt in the 2012 election. Republicans and independents will vote against Obama with their hands. Democrats and liberals will do so with their feet -- by staying home. Turnout was the key to Obama's 2008 electoral majority. The vote among under-30 whites, African-Americans and Hispanics set new records. Obama won, after all, about the same share of the white vote -- in total -- that Gore did in 2000. He only won because the young white turnout offset defections by middle-aged and elderly whites, black turnout rose from 11 percent to 14 percent and Hispanic votes rose by 1.5 percentage points. Any diminution of the white-hot intensity of enthusiasm that animated his 2008 election will cost him dearly. Compare the performance of Bill Clinton in the 1995-96 government budget crisis with that of Obama in the latest skirmish. In Clinton campaign tracking polls, the president's approval rating rose from 40 percent in May 1995 to 54 percent in January 1996.

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