Monday, September 5, 2011

Political Digest for September 6, 2011

Old Jarhead Blog Removed?
For the last three Saturdays, when readers logged on to my blog at, they got a "blog removed" message with no explanation. Both times I logged on to Blogspot and posted a query and the blog returned in a few hours. They say they have a system for auto removing Spam blogs, but mine has zero advertising, except my books, I kill Spam posts, and it has been up since 2008. I don't know if it is a blogspot glitch, like the way they sometimes change scheduled posts to drafts, or an attack. It is costing me readers--weekly page views dropped in that time from over 4k to about 3k. If you get that message, please try again later. Update: I've filed an appeal, hope it will be a permanent fix....

I came back from an anniversary trip to visit a buddy, then to Galena, IL & a B&B, The Victorian Mansion (I highly recommend both) to over 600 e-mails. Will do what I can to get a long post up.

Time for a more mature debate on climate change
Especially see the final 3 paragraphs of this article. Ron P. Excerpt: It is interesting to see how the apparently impenetrable facade of received wisdom on climate change has begun to weaken and show signs of crumbling. Many supporters of the mainstream view have become less antagonistic towards legitimate criticism and the tone of this criticism has in some cases become more moderate as alternative views are more widely reported. Could this be the start of a new phase of mature and rational debate on the issue? Don’t hold your breath, because for every sign of proper scientific discussion, there are still plenty of dismissive or downright belligerent views expressed. Not all believers in anthropogenic global warming necessarily regard the science as settled, but there are still plenty who at least act as though they do. Take, for example, the long-awaited results from the CLOUD experiment (Cosmics Leaving Outdoor Droplets) at CERN. The press release on a paper published in Nature (CERN’s CLOUD experiment provides unprecedented insights into cloud formation) is suitably neutral, but the results have been interpreted rather differently by those with different views on AGW.

Exxon Tries Bear Wrestling
Excerpt: Few companies wring more earnings from a dollar of investment than Exxon Mobil, so we assume CEO Rex Tillerson knows the risks he's taking by getting into business with Vladimir Putin to explore for oil in the Russian Arctic. Exxon's official partner may be Rusneft, the Russian oil company, but in Moscow the de facto chairman of every board is Mr. Putin. (…) Exxon has long experience drilling in Alaska, and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is less risky or costly than drilling in the Arctic Sea will be. But Democrats in Washington have barred that and elsewhere in Alaska from energy exploration. The Obama Administration is using regulations to thwart development in the American far north. The primary gambit is to sit on lease permits. Conoco spent five years to get at one of its leases in the National Petroleum Preserve, only to be denied by the Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps denied an Exxon permit on the North Slope. Shell this year threw in the towel in the Beaufort Sea after a five-year fight for a permit with the EPA. No wonder Exxon Mobil decided to do business with the Russians. (Non-subscribers may have difficulty viewing more than the first few sentences of this editorial from the WSJ. They point out there isn’t much choice for the oil companies. They also point out the possibility that future interference with “their partner” may cause the Russians to see that interference as an international incident. Not mentioned in the editorial, but worth knowing is that while ExxonMobil may be the world's largest privately owned oil company, it only ranks 17th in size; the larger 16 are all government-owned by various countries. Ron P.)

UN Report on Flotilla Incident Exonerates Israel
Excerpt: The United Nations report on the Mavi Marmara incident, entitled "Report of the Secretary-General’s Panel of Inquiry on the 31 May 2010 Flotilla Incident," is now public and largely exculpates Israel. All the facts are as Israel contended and as the Commission notes "Israel faces a real threat to its security from militant groups in Gaza. The naval blockade was imposed as a legitimate security measure" and "Israeli Defense Forces personnel faced significant, organized and violent resistance from a group of passengers when they boarded the Mavi Marmara requiring them to use force for their own protection. Three soldiers were captured, mistreated, and placed at risk by those passengers. Several others were wounded." (…) First, the panel challenges the motives of the flotilla… More seriously, the panel concludes that the “humanitarians” on the Mavi Marmara came armed for a fight…. (Like most news favorable to Israel, this seems to be dropping through the cracks in the floor; it is almost completely invisible in the MSM. I think they should have simply called the flotilla “an invasion” and sunk the ships that resisted capture. The Israelis shouldn’t have endangered even one of their soldiers for the protection of the invaders. Ron P.)

Excerpt: Could you be arrested for allowing your 5'th grade child to ride her bike one mile to school? That certainly seems crazy as we try to encourage active life styles for our kids. That certainly seems crazy as we try to promote safe routes to school programs. That certainly seems crazy as we talk of an obesity epidemic amongst our children. But that is what police in Elizabethton Tennessee are threatening. Teresa Tryon said, "On August 25th my 10 year daughter arrived home via police officer, requested to speak to me on the front porch of my home. The officer informed me that in his 'judgment' it was unsafe for my daughter to ride her bike to school." (What kind of ridiculous police state is this when kids aren't even allowed to ride a bike to school?  Also, does the child's school have a bike rack? If it does, then CLEARLY the school, an arm of the local/county government, has authorized children to ride their bikes to school, haven't they?! So pathetic. No wonder the US is getting eaten alive internationally. The collectivist state just grows and grows!!! --Doug. I walked 6-8 blocks to kindergarten--what was my dad thinking? ~Bob.)

California Employment at Record Low
The percentage of working-age Californians with jobs has fallen to a record low, and employment may not return to pre-recession levels until the second half of the decade, according to a research group. Just 55.4 percent of working-age Californians, defined as those 16 or older, had a job in July, down from 56.2 percent a year earlier and the lowest level since 1976, the Sacramento- based California Budget Project said in a report released late yesterday. California’s 12 percent unemployment rate in July, the nation’s second-highest after Nevada, compared with 9.1 percent nationwide. The most-populous state lost 1.4 million jobs during the recession that began three years ago, and has gained back only 226,800, or about 17 percent, according to the report. Alissa Anderson, deputy director of the research group, which concentrates on issues facing low- and middle-class Californians, said women have disproportionately trailed men in regaining jobs.

FBI arrests prominent Democratic campaign treasurer
Excerpt: A prominent Democratic campaign treasurer who works for federal, state and O.C. lawmakers including U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Rep. Loretta Sanchez and state legislators Lou Correa and Jose Solorio has been arrested by the FBI on suspicion of mail fraud, The Orange County Register has learned. U.S. Attorney's Office spokesman Thom Mrozek confirmed Saturday afternoon that Kinde Durkee of Burbank-based Durkee and Associates, was arrested by the FBI on a criminal complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Sacramento. Special Agent Steve Dupre of the bureau’s Sacramento office said she was arrested in connection with her position as a campaign treasurer. State Sen. Lou Correa told the Register on Saturday afternoon that he was called by the FBI late Friday night and told that Durkee had been arrested and that he is a likely victim along with “many, many other victims.” The Santa Ana Democrat said he believes he has lost “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in campaign funds.

Excerpt: Two men convicted Thursday of trying to rob women stranded on Interstate 95 near Walterboro last year got more than they bargained for when one of the women’s passengers turned out to be a trained — and armed — soldier recently returned from Iraq. Jurors found Antwan McMillan, 22, and David Jakes, 20, of Smoaks guilty Thursday at the Colleton County Courthouse of three counts of attempted armed robbery, possession of a weapon during commission of a violent crime, and three counts of first-degree assault and battery. Judge Perry M. Buckner sentenced Jakes to 35 years in prison and McMillan to 30 years, according to the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office. “I am pleased that both of these brazen, dangerous criminals have had their careers cut short,” said assistant solicitor Amanda Haselden, who prosecuted the case. “They thought two stranded women would be an easy mark, but they didn’t bargain on a well-trained and legally armed serviceman being just out of sight.” When Jakes pointed a gun at the mother-in-law and demanded cash, the soldier popped up from behind the vehicle with a gun. He ordered the men to leave several times, the release said.

Vallely: Iran Goal EMPs on US Coastal Cities in Reach
Excerpt: Many countries and agencies are increasingly concerned about the intelligence that Iran continues to work secretly on developing and completing a nuclear payload for a missile (the Shehab system) and other components of a nuclear weapons program. SUA believes strongly that Iran now possesses low yield nuclear war heads that can be mounted on the Shehab missile and deployed on the oceans in container ships with the Russian provided Club K missile launch systems. The primary goal of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard is to launch EMPs weapons on US Coastal cities and freeze our national grid systems. Iran for the first time has recently deployed ships to the Atlantic Ocean on maneuvers. In its report, the International Atomic Energy Agency said “many member states” are providing evidence for that assessment, describing the information it is receiving as credible, “extensive and comprehensive.” (MG Paul Vallely, USA (Ret.) is right on target. I also believe an EMP created from a launched missile, or 10 kiloton suitcase nuclear weapon will occur in the U.S. within the next few years. I’ve discussed this many times on my now terminated blog, and hopefully by now you are preparing for the chaos should this occur. Likely chaos will be further economic devastation, no continuity of government, and many Americans without money, food and housing. --gbh)

The War of 2012
An interesting summary of what will be at stake next year. Ron P. Excerpt: Next year marks the bicentennial of the War of 1812, when a fledging nation successfully defeated the British Empire for the second time. The “War” of 2012 will not result in the burning of the White House and Capitol building, but it may shape up to be quite brutal. This will be an uncivil war, comprised of mini-wars fought viciously on various fronts. Thankfully, it has a predetermined November 6 end date, though recent history shows that can suffer a continuance. The battlegrounds on which the War of 2012 will be waged:

Postal Service Is Nearing Default as Losses Mount
Excerpt: The United States Postal Service has long lived on the financial edge, but it has never been as close to the precipice as it is today: the agency is so low on cash that it will not be able to make a $5.5 billion payment due this month and may have to shut down entirely this winter unless Congress takes emergency action to stabilize its finances. (When I was a child, mailing a letter cost 3 cents, mailing a postcard cost 2 cents. I tried to figure out what that amount of purchasing power would be in today’s dollars, but there are just too many variables. My gut says it would be between 60 and 75 cents each. Few would be willing to pay that much instead of using email for free. Other than holiday cards, the last “letter” I received via the USPS was close to a year ago. Bills payable, advertising in various forms, and political persuasion are about all most of us get in the mail these days. Like the Pony Express, everyday mail delivery may soon be only a remembrance for most people. Some form of courier or messenger service will surely survive; everyone, including me, seems to want a hard-copy—for the files, you know—in our so-called paperless society. I doubt those services will need the numbers of carriers currently employed, and will certainly be at a much higher price. Ron P. Too big--that is unionized--to fail. ~Bob.)

Town honors fallen soldier
Excerpt: A Duxbury soldier killed Aug. 23 in Afghanistan was honored by hundreds of family, friends and townspeople for his service to his nation and his sacrifice yesterday in a nearly two-hour memorial Mass at the Holy Family Church in Duxbury. First Lt. Timothy Steele, 25, an officer with the 10th Mountain Division’s 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, based at Fort Drum, N.Y., was killed when insurgents attacked his unit in Kandahar with an improvised explosive device. Steele was a 2004 graduate of Duxbury High School and 2009 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Steele was halfway through his first deployment in Afghanistan. A staunch patriot, he was father to a baby girl he and his wife named Liberty, relatives said.

Iowa GOP: Perry 29%, Bachmann 18%, Romney 17%, Paul 14%
Excerpt: Confirming a surge seen in polling across the nation, Texas Governor Rick Perry has moved into first place among Republican voters in Iowa, host state to the first-in-the-nation caucus early next year. A Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of those likely to participate in the Iowa GOP Caucus shows that Perry is the first choice for 29%. Essentially tied for second are Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann at 18% and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney at 17%. Texas Congressman Ron Paul picks up 14% of the vote, and nobody else currently reaches the five percent (5%) mark.

Quote from the Patriot Post
"I want the people of America to be able to work less for the government and more for themselves. I want them to have the rewards of their own industry. This is the chief meaning of freedom. Until we can reestablish a condition under which the earnings of the people can be kept by the people, we are bound to suffer a very severe and distinct curtailment of our liberty." --President Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933)

Excerpt: The point is that the Left considers itself the undisputed champion of “science,” but there are scads of issues where they take un-scientific points of view. Sure they can cite dissidents scientists — just as conservatives can — on this or that issue. But everyone knows that when the science directly threatens the Left’s pieties, it’s the science that must bend — or break. During the Larry Summers fiasco at Harvard, comments delivered in the classic spirit of open inquiry and debate cost Summers his job. Actual scientists got the vapors because he violated the principles not of science but of liberalism. During the Gulf oil spill, the Obama administration dishonestly claimed that its independent experts supported a drilling moratorium. They emphatically did not. The president who campaigned on basing his policies on “sound science” ignored his own hand picked experts. According to the GAO, he did something very similar when he shut down Yucca Mountain. His support for wind and solar energy, as you suggest, isn’t based on science but on faith. And that faith has failed him dramatically.

We know that job growth comes from start-up companies, not established ones. Why not make life easier for them?
Dear Mr. President, As you spend this Labor Day preparing your speech to the nation on job creation, I urge you to avoid ideologically loaded programs like a new stimulus that probably won't get through Congress, and instead focus on a few practical, low-cost measures that we know will create lots of jobs quickly. Despite all the hand-wringing and inaction over jobs the last three years, job creation itself is actually no mystery. We know how jobs are created, and by whom. We know, for starters, that 100% of net job growth in the U.S. comes from entrepreneurial start-ups, as a Kauffman Foundation report documented in 2010. If you took start-ups out of the picture and looked only at large or incumbent businesses, job growth over the last 35 years would actually be negative. In the words of Kauffman's Tim Kane, "When it comes to U.S. job growth, start-up companies aren't everything. They're the only thing." So if we all know this, Mr. President, why aren't you doing everything you can to nurture start-ups and make it easier for them to access capital, grow and hire people so they can develop the breakthrough products, services and medical advances that drive our national prosperity?

The President'​s Speech Impediment
Excerpt: In everyday life, when you don't have something to say, you avoid the stage. In our nation's capital, by contrast, the world operates like the one Alice found behind the Looking Glass. That's a world where you have to run as hard as you can just to stay still. Which helps explain why President Obama will this week be addressing a joint session of Congress that doesn't really want to hear from him about a jobs plan that he doesn't really have. Expectations are high, the byproduct of a highly publicized back and forth with Republican Speaker John Boehner over the date of the president's speech. If you're a White House with a message, that's a good thing. Unfortunately for President Obama, he doesn't have one. How do we know he doesn't? We know it from the White House itself. On Friday, Ed Henry quoted an unnamed presidential aide telling Fox News that while he didn't want to "downplay the speech," he needed to shoot down "the idea that this is the be-all and end-all." So if this is not the "be-all and end-all" we've been told it was for weeks, why the initial announcement it would be held the same night Republican presidential candidates were holding a televised debate? And why do it before a joint session of Congress? The answer to the first is that the speech most probably did not start out as a calculated attempt to upstage the Republican candidates. More likely, Thursday night was what White House aides originally had in mind—until they realized it would clash with the NFL's opening day. So they moved it back a day. That backfired because it looked so ungracious, but if you were President Obama, whom would you rather go up against: the GOP or the Green Bay Packers?

Boosting only illegal labor
Excerpt: How badly have interest-group politics distorted Obama administration economic policy? Well, the Labor Department is now zealously protecting the workplace rights of illegal aliens even as it shuts down avenues for people to come to America and work legally. You see, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis has to serve both the liberals’ ideological fixation on illegals and labor unions’ hostility to any competition. So there she was at a signing ceremony last Monday, declaring, “No matter how you got here or how long you plan to stay, you have certain rights. You have the right to be safe and in a healthy workplace and the right to a legal wage... [This is part of] our shared commitment to protect the labor rights of migrant workers.” Questioned later about whether she meant to include illegal workers, she was adamant. “I protect all workers here in this country,” she told a Daily Caller reporter. “I have a vested interest in protecting all workers that work here in the US -- period.” The terrible irony about Solis’ support for workers here illegally is her department’s distaste for legal workers.

Honor killing in Jordan: "I was enraged and shot her dead because she did something shameful."
And to think some Islamophobes don't want the multicultural beauty of Shari'a Law here? ~Bob. Excerpt: She had just given birth to twins, and her father shot her. Yes, murders happen everywhere, and cases of parents killing their children exist across the world, but the crucial difference here is how the killings are rationalized and often praised, and how often they fail to be punished on a level that fits the crime. Under Sharia, a parent may face no penalty at all for killing a child. After prior attempts at reform were quashed under protests that they violated "religious traditions," it is now more possible in Jordan for perpetrators of honor killings to receive longer sentences. But how much time this man is actually sentenced to, and actually serves, bears watching. "Jordan woman killed in hospital over pregnancy," from Agence France Presse, September 4: A Jordanian man was charged on Sunday with killing his 24-year-old widowed daughter in hospital after she gave birth to twins, a judicial official said.

The Week That Was: 2011-09-3 (September 3, 2011)
Many good articles this week. Ron P. Excerpt: Even though Congress is still on its August recess, the political games are intensifying. Last week, Speaker of the House John Boehner requested from the White House a list of the most expensive regulations under consideration by the administration. On Monday, Eric Cantor, the majority leader of the US House of Representatives, announced his plans to target ten sets of regulations, to eliminate them. On Tuesday, the White House delivered the list of seven expensive regulations, expecting to cost $1 Billion or more. Additional controls on ground level ozone were the most expensive. As suggested previously in TWTW, the proposed ozone regulations would give the EPA power to restrict virtually all future industrial development in all but sparsely uninhabited portions of the nation - power that it does not now have. The EPA claimed health benefits are dubious. (…) Almost immediately after the employment report was made public, the administration announced that it is suspending EPA implementation of ozone rules until 2013. The environmental industry immediately expressed outrage.

Obama, Democrats Losing Labor Union Support
Excerpt: In the early days of the Obama administration, organized labor had grand visions of pushing through a sweeping agenda that would help boost sagging membership and help revive union strength. Now labor faces this reality: Public employee unions are in a drawn-out fight for their very survival in Wisconsin, Ohio and other states where GOP lawmakers have curbed collective bargaining rights. Also, many union leaders are grousing that the president they worked so hard to elect has not focused enough on job creation and other bold plans to get their members back to work. "Obama campaigned big, but he's governing small," said Larry Hanley, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union. Labor remains a core Democratic constituency and union leaders will stand with Obama in Detroit this Labor Day, where he will address thousands of rank-and-file members during the city's annual parade Monday. But at the same time, unions have begun shifting money and resources out of Democratic congressional campaigns and back to the states in a furious effort to reverse or limit GOP measures that could wipe out union rolls.

Iran plugs first nuclear power plant into grid
The Iranians must have confidence they’ve finally overcome the Stuxnet virus. The unnamed “experts” quoted neglect to mention plutonium isn’t required for bombs. If it’s pure enough, uranium will do nicely, and some estimates put the required purity as low as 65%. See TOJ on 6 Aug, Iran Commander: We Have Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles, on 18 Aug, The Arab Spring and the Arab Bomb, on 26 Aug, N. Korea supplied Iran with nuclear computer software, and on 27 Aug, Tehran’s Nuclear Endgame: Will self-preservation keep Iran from using nuclear arms? Don’t bet your life. And, that’s just in August of this year. My “Iran” folder has over 100 entries specifically about this issue, all dated since 2009. Ron P. Excerpt: London-based nuclear proliferation expert Mark Fitzpatrick said: "So many announcements have been made about imminent plans to connect Bushehr to the grid that it's hardly newsworthy now that it has actually happened." On the fact that Bushehr was only running at 6 percent capacity, he said: "They are wise, of course, to take it slow. Bushehr has had too many problems for the operators to risk nuclear safety by trying to meet artificial political deadlines." Experts say firing up the Bushehr plant will not bring Iran any closer to building a nuclear bomb because Russia will supply the enriched uranium for the reactor and repatriate spent fuel that could be reprocessed into weapons-grade plutonium.

Messiah of Hate
Excerpt: The time when the Obama brand still seemed like it might have something to offer the American people is long past. There will still be voters who go to the polls and pull the wrong lever, but they won't do it because they seriously believe that another term will make America a better place. Rather they will do it for reasons of identity. Political identity, racial identity and because "anything is better than voting GOP" is also an identity. The emotion that Obama stirred in the hearts of millions, that illusory sense of history created by so many hours of media manipulation, the expectation that now things would be better, is gone. And it isn't coming back. No one will ever look up dewy eyed at a giant projected image of the Beloved Leader and see the second coming of JFK. All they will see is the politician they're stuck with. The feeling isn't unique, it's common enough to second term leaders of both parties. Republicans were tired of Bush and Democrats of Clinton, by their second terms. Bush and Clinton fatigue is one reason why Democrats turned on Hillary in 2008 and why a Jeb Bush run meets with so little enthusiasm. But neither of those men had been built up so dramatically, which made the fall less severe.

Will NASA Abandon Ship?
Excerpt: For over a decade, the International Space Station has never seen a day in which it didn’t have occupants. Many thought when it was first permanently crewed, back in November of 2000, that it was a watershed in history — the day after which there would never again not be humans living off the planet. That was certainly the plan, because it was assumed that there would be follow-on programs even after the ISS was decommissioned. But it may have been another false start, because NASA is now contemplating at least temporarily giving up our tentative first foothold in the long climb to eventual space settlement. As a result of the failure of the upper stage of the Russian Roscosmos Progress flight last month, the agency can no longer rely on the Soyuz crew launcher, because it is essentially the same rocket. Until the Russians have determined what caused the problem and how they will fix it, their rockets cannot be trusted. The implications for the ISS are potentially dire. (…) Ironically, it would also be a setback for the most promising near-term means of reducing or eliminating our reliance on the Russians. Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) is currently scheduled to launch its Dragon capsule to the ISS in late November, with plans for a test docking with the system in early December (almost exactly a year after its first successful flight). If that mission is successful, it will be cleared to start delivering cargo to the station next year, and it will be a major milestone toward using it as a crew delivery vehicle and lifeboat. (“Cascading” is when one problem causes another (or several). Unless the string can be broken—thus avoiding the potential later problems—each problem must be dealt with in turn and successfully which makes the situation more difficult. Usually, a longer lead-time allows the string to be broken more easily. The problem with space flight is that a lead-time of years is SHORT, not long. I predict that if we abandon the ISS, we—the USA—will never again have any serious claim to it. It may be “salvaged” by astronauts from some other country or coalition, but we will never control it again. Symbolically, it will be like Rome withdrawing the legion from Britain. Ron P.)

Terror warning: Al-Qaida looks to load explosives on small planes
Excerpt: The FBI and Homeland Security have issued a nationwide warning about al-Qaida threats to small airplanes, just days before the anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks. Authorities say there is no specific or credible terrorist threat for the 10-year anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. But they have stepped up security nationwide as a precaution. According to a five-page law enforcement bulletin issued Friday, as recently as early this year, al-Qaida was considering ways to attack airplanes. The alert, issued ahead of the summer's last busy travel weekend, said terrorists have considered renting private planes and loading them with explosives.

Zero Jobs 101 — the Psychology of Alienating Employers
Excerpt: Zero jobs last month — a net change of zero job growth? It was just announced that last month’s unemployment is still above 9% — despite the nearly five trillion dollars in Keynesian pump-priming, the near zero interest rates, the expanded unemployment and food stamp support, and the government takeovers and subsidies of businesses. There is a scary sort of deer-in-the-headlights look about Obama and Biden that is quite disturbing, as if they are thinking, “This was not supposed to happened to us. Geithner, Goolsbee, Orszag, Romer, Summers assured us that all this borrowing would turn things around — but they are all gone or leaving, so now we are alone? What to do? Hmmm. More them/us class warfare rhetoric? Embrace more of the California/Illinois/New York blue-state model? More European Union emulation? A national high-speed rail jobs program? Bring back Van Jones and “millions of green jobs”? Borrow another $5 trillion? Maybe negative interest rates? Seventy-five million on food stamps? Four years of unemployment insurance? A new Department of Jobs? Call in Jimmy Carter for advice about 1979? $100 billion more in green subsidies to progressive caring companies? Take over Ford? Another speech from Buffett? Unleash the Congressional Black Caucus?”

Solyndra Investigation: Probe Into White House Role in Massive Energy Loan
The Green Chickens come home. ~Bob.

Legalize Dope & Deport the Illegal Dopes
Excerpt: Even by Mexican Drug War standards, last Thursday’s death inferno at Monterrey’s Casino Royale seemed a bit much. At least 52 people died after a group of eight or nine gunmen stormed the casino, began randomly firing at civilians, doused the entrance with gasoline, and torched the joint. Trapped inside, most of the victims were thought to have died of smoke inhalation. Many of the corpses were found clutching cell phones, vainly calling for help as they helplessly perished.

Decline and Fall of the Anglo Empire
Excerpt: New Archbishop of Los Angeles José Gomez has entered the debate over immigration and cultural change with an eminently sane point of view—for this reason, pro-immigration and other activists in his former archdiocese of San Antonio did not care for him. (Excellent article. I experience my life in Los Angeles as a Barbarian Invasion. I do frequently remind myself that it is not that so many barbarians are here, but that the barbarians are permitted to rule. Anyone who lives in LA will understand what I mean when I say that our days are punctuated by one small unnecessary ugliness after another. They say that civilization falls apart bit by bit, in barely perceptible chunks, until one day it's all gone. It is as if society is dissolving into pixels all around me. I feel like Wyatt Earp, patrolling the perimeter of my little life, telling the Barboes where to get off, because who else will do it? I am an almost 65-year-old woman. I've got to do it. Everyone is afraid of being sued. Or simply spineless. Very glad to hear that the new Archbishop is sane. Wow. I've been thinking of writing to him about the corruption in our local charities, about which I have inside information, my having been an insider--but I'd assumed he'd be another liberal clone. Thank God Almighty. I'm gonna hurry on down to the cathedral. Muchas gracias for the info. --Frances John [Owner of Los Angeles City College blog.] (aka Kate in LA.)

Mark Steyn: Eternal Adolescence Lacking in Romance
Excerpt: I’m a great believer that culture trumps economics. Every time the government in Athens calls up the Germans and says, OK, we’ve burned through the last bailout, time for the next one, Angela Merkel understands all too well that the real problem in Greece is not the Greek finances but the Greek people.

Obama Ozone Decision Blindsides Enviros - And His Own EPA
Excerpt: The about-face has environmentalists and other progressives fuming. “Many MoveOn members are wondering today how they can ever work for President Obama's reelection, or make the case for him to their neighbors, when he does something like this, after extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich, and giving in to tea party demands on the debt deal,” MoveOn’s executive director, Justin Ruben said in a statement. “This is a decision we'd expect from George W. Bush.”

Iran speeding up nuclear program, inspectors say
Excerpt: Iran appears to be accelerating key components of its nuclear program, installing more capable machines for enriching uranium and moving some equipment into underground bunkers less vulnerable to airstrikes, U.N. nuclear inspectors said in a report Friday. The U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), also expressed “increasing concerns” about past — and possibly ongoing — research by Iranian scientists on nuclear warhead design, despite Iran’s repeated insistence that its nuclear program is peaceful. (No doubt when one of our cities is destroyed, it will be "unexpected." Ron P.)

A President Adrift
Excerpt: More dispiriting news, this time about the White House overturning the EPA’s proposed new rules on smog. That comes a few hours after the jobs report from Friday morning, one of the bleakest yet. And it comes a few days in advance of what everyone expects will be a small-thinking, modest, blah jobs speech by the president. It’s not only getting to the point where it’s getting hard to see him winning reelection. It’s getting to the point where it’s hard to imagine people taking him seriously for the remaining 14 months of his current term. The smog decision is a real low. The story behind this includes the fact that, as Brad Plumer reports environmental groups were going to file a lawsuit in 2009 about Bush-era ozone rules, and the Obama administration told them, in effect, “Wait, don’t hassle us with a lawsuit, we’re going to propose stricter rules soon.” So the stricter rules were proposed, and the White House has now said, “Sorry, changed our mind.” (From the liberal Daily Beast. I’ve heard many times—but, never believed—that an honest politician is one who stays bought. I actually believe most elected officials are both honest and doing their best for their constituencies. Okay, I’m naive. Liberals and Greens are finally discovering whether or not Obama is honest, and they’re not liking what they find; some even think they were better off under Bush! I’m reminded of another old saying: Hell hath no fury like a political contributor/supporter scorned (or something like that). Ron P.)

The Next Election Will Be About Taxes
Excerpt: If the White House has its way, the next election will be about taxes on the rich. Or, rather, the super rich. The amount of money involved will be trivial. But this isn’t about money. It’s about envy, resentment and class warfare. The very same president who won the last election by promising to bring us all together, will try to win the next one by dividing us. The candidate who last time around promised to appeal to our highest motives, will appeal to our basest instincts on the next go around. In his corner the president will have Warren (I’m-not-taxed-enough) Buffett, who claims he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. I and other economists disagree with that assertion. But here’s the problem: How does an ordinary mortal wade through the labyrinthine provisions of the tax code to understand who is right and who is wrong? Answer: I’m going to help you by showing you the right way and the wrong way to levy taxes.

How to force the United Nations to change
Excerpt: It won’t become law anytime soon, but a bill to be introduced in the House next week to revolutionize how America finances UN activities is already stirring up Turtle Bay. Which needs it. A top member of the US delegation to the UN, Ambassador Joseph Torsella, publicly complained this week that while the salaries of US officials are frozen due to budget constraints, the United Nations has raised the wages of 4,800 of its staffers by 3 percent. That “unwarranted” raise was determined by a structure where America’s vote equals any other member’s, so Torsella’s complaint won’t change anything. What would? In a language East River bureaucrats understand well -- French: Rather than prix fixe, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (D-Fla.) wants America to dineá la carte. All UN members now pay an annual membership fee as determined by the General Assembly. The size of each country’s dues equals its share of the world economy, as reflected in its gross domestic product -- with room for negotiation. As the world’s largest economy, we pay far more than any other country -- a full 22 percent of the regular UN budget (which was $516 million in 2010), and 27 percent of peacekeeping (which totaled $1.9 billion last year). What do we get in return? Well, that’s decided in the UN halls -- where each member gets one vote, no matter what it pays. Which leaves spending priorities prey to UN politics, where large blocs dictate the agenda. Thus Arabs states can fan the United Nations’ legendary anti-Israel sentiment -- even though the wealthiest of them, Saudi Arabia, pays less than 1 percent of the UN budget.

Funny but true: I’m exactly what’s wrong with Barack Obama’s America: Confessions of an unapologetic free-market capitalist
Excerpt: We all know that the power to tax is the power to destroy. So too is the power to regulate. Equally powerful is the reality that rewarded behavior is repeated. After applying these inescapable truths to the analysis of Obamanomics, a collection of policies designed to reward or deter (or even outright banish) certain behaviors - to ordain winners and losers - it’s all clear to me now. The reason Obamanomics has been such a miserable failure is that I failed to follow its cues. I hope America will forgive me. First, despite so many communities lacking a village organizer, I chose instead to serve mine. At the time, the practice of medicine seemed like a noble calling, but little did I realize what a threat physicians pose to communities. Surgeons, President Obama warned, will run around lopping off patients’ feet or yanking out children’s tonsils just to pocket a quick buck. I realize that many of you parents who have unsuccessfully pleaded to your child’s pediatrician for a tonsillectomy will disagree, but who are you to judge? The president doesn’t trust you or your doctor to decide such things. Why else would he appoint as the head of Medicarea man who declared that the doctor-patient relationship is “no longer tenable”? What’s worse - at least in Obamaworld - is that I, like most physicians, have two jobs: I’m also responsible for a business that creates jobs and employs some great Americans. This despite our government’s burdensome taxes, regulations and licenses, which already have created formidable obstacles to entrepreneurial success. You don’t believe me? Try launching a company or getting a new drug approved. Heck, try starting a lemonade stand. As if these barriers weren’t enough already, Obamanomics increases taxes, regulatory burdens and uncertainties that weigh heavily on each new hire. And yet I stubbornly ignore the president’s incentives by keeping many good people employed. In my defense, however, medical practices today have to hire their own in-house bureaucracies just to cope with the demands of Washington’s bureaucracies. You might think it would be nice if health care money went to, you know, health care, but don’t be naive - your government knows best.

The "First Fruits" of our Support of the Arab Spring Endeavour in Libya!
Excerpt: The fruit of our "compassionate support" for the "oppressed" Islamic peoples of the world is now starting to show. In the past two weeks, both the United States and France have reached out to the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) and predictably, the NTC turned it's back on those very same nations that came to their rescue. The US State Department reached out to our "new friends" in Libya, hoping to retrieve Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, the mastermind behind the 1988 Lockerbie airline bombing and the NTC said no. The no was neither tentative nor was it contingent on some prerequisite understanding or action. They said no with emphasis. The NTC spokesman said; " [We] will not give any Libyan citizen to the West…". So much for thanks, the spirit of cooperation, any understanding of right and wrong or any semblance of a common understanding of human rights, just; no.

Undocumented workers got billions from IRS in tax credits, audit finds
Well, no wonder they need to raise taxes. ~Bob. Excerpt: The Internal Revenue Service allowed undocumented workers to collect $4.2 billion in refundable tax credits last year, a new audit says, almost quadruple the sum five years ago. Although undocumented workers are not eligible for federal benefits, the report released Thursday by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration concludes that federal law is ambiguous on whether these workers qualify for a tax break based on earned income called the additional child tax credit.

Barack Obama's Embarrassing Relatives: A Whole Litter of Them
Excerpt: But Barack Obama doesn’t merely have a single embarrassing family member. He has a whole litter of them. But he’s protected by the Black Shield, a new kind of skin privilege, one it’s impossible to even mention without being branded with the irrevocably shameful “R” word. Due to such fears and also their elaborate financial and ideological entanglements with the current administration, most of America’s press doesn’t leap nearly so eagerly on Obama’s familial skeletons as they do on Sarah Palin’s retarded child or Michelle Bachmann’s screaming faggot of a husband. The press isn’t even in Obama’s pocket—they’re snuggled deep up in his underwear.

HLF Defense Argues to Overturn Convictions
Excerpt: A federal judge abused his discretion in admitting key evidence and testimony used to prove that zakat (charity) committees inside the West Bank funded by an American Muslim group were Hamas-controlled, defense attorneys argued Thursday before a three-judge appellate panel. In November 2008, five former Holy Land Foundation (HLF) officials were convicted on 108 counts of illegally routing money to Hamas through those committees. HLF had been one of the nation's largest Muslim charities. In their briefs filed last October, the five defendants asked the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to overturn the convictions. Anonymous testimony by Israeli intelligence and military witnesses, and evidence seized from Palestinian Authority offices during an Israeli raid, are among the things the presiding judge allowed jurors to hear in error, the defendants argue in their appeals.

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