Saturday, December 17, 2011

Political Digest for December 17, 2011

I’ll be out of pocket for holiday stuff Saturday, thus no digest Sunday, maybe not on Monday, depending on time Sunday. Will leave our holiday newsletter for you to enjoy. ~Bob.

Vietnam Healing Foundation
Hi, and best wishes as Christmas approaches us. As usual, this is the time of year that I ask friends to consider making a donation to the charity for the crippled South Vietnamese soldiers still struggling under the discriminatory measures Hanoi has laid on them all these years. The economy in Viet Nam has not been doing well lately, partially due to the inefficiency and corruption of the semi-communist tyranny that runs the place. (With a hell of an iron fist inside a thin glove. In the past year several international humanitarian organizations have come out with clear condemnations of the various repressive policies Hanoi has ramped up against minorities and dissidents.) We have been swamped with requests from disabled vets and their families, far more than we can support on a regular basis. We continue to support 80+ especially needy vets on a committed basis, but next week we'll include one-time gifts to at least 60 more applicants, to at least give them aid to help with the special expenses of the cooler weather and the Tet celebration at the end of January. Our overhead remains at near 3%, since the whole organization is made up of volunteers. The only expenses we have are minor items here like our Post Office box, and the gas and lunch costs for the men in Viet Nam who go around on their motorbikes to deliver the cash to our clients. I don't think any charity gets any lower for overhead, and as most people know now, the bulk of charities have overheads that run from 30% to 70% or more. So... please consider a donation, tax deductible of course, to VHF. You can use PayPal through the website ( ), or mail a check to: Vietnam Healing Foundation, P.O
Box 641, Willow Springs, NC 27592
. Thank you for considering VHF, and have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. --Del

Keystone Pipeline Cartoon

Excerpt: President Obama is refusing to take yes for an answer. House Republicans have rightly acceded to his demand that they keep payroll taxes from rising at the start of the new year. He is nonetheless threatening to veto the bill because it includes other provisions he dislikes.

California voters turn against the train to nowhere
Excerpt: If politicians are good for anything, it ought to be reading polls. Yet there was Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood last week telling Congress that California's high-speed railroad is "not a cheap project" but "the people in California want this." What people would that be? According to the latest Field poll, two-thirds of Californians want a new referendum on the project. And by a two-to-one margin, they say they'd vote to kill it.

Excerpt: Richard Syron, the former chief executive officer of Freddie Mac, and Daniel Mudd, ex-CEO of Fannie Mae, were sued by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission over disclosures they made about subprime loans. Complaints were filed against the two men today in Manhattan federal court. Also sued by the regulator were Enrico Dallavecchia, who was chief risk officer for Fannie Mae; Thomas Lund, Fannie’s Mae’s former executive vice president; Patricia Cook, Freddie Mac’s former executive vice president; and Donald Bisenius, who was a senior vice president at Freddie Mac. (Sued? They need to put these folks in prison, along with Franklin Raines and Jim Johnson. I recommend the book Reckless Endangerment to anyone who doesn’t get how so many of these bums got rich ganging up on the rest of us. ~Bob.)

“Flip This House”: Investor Speculation and the Housing Bubble
Excerpt: The recent financial crisis—the worst in eighty years—had its origins in the enormous increase and subsequent collapse in housing prices during the 2000s. While the housing bubble has been the subject of intense public debate and research, no single answer has emerged to explain why prices rose so fast and fell so precipitously. In this post, we present new findings from our recent New York Fed study that uses unique data to suggest that real estate “investors”—borrowers who use financial leverage in the form of mortgage credit to purchase multiple residential properties—played a previously unrecognized, but very important, role. (Couldn’t have done this without Congress, Fannie Mae, Countrywide, Wall Street and others pushing subprime loans as great investments for the economy. ~Bob.)

Russia's Entry into the World Trade Organization Is in America's Interest
Excerpt: Russia is poised to join the World Trade Organization (WTO), solidifying its transition from a closed communist economy to a full participant in the global marketplace. The only question is whether the United States will embrace Russia as a fellow WTO member or forfeit the benefits for the sake of an outdated policy rooted in the Cold War. The 1974 Jackson-Vanik Amendment requires Congress to annually pass a special exemption for Russia extending it conditional access to the U.S. market. If the law is not revoked, American exports will not benefit from the market-opening policies that Russia will adopt upon its accession, say Daniel Griswold and Douglas Petersen of the Cato Institute.

The Excellence Gap: Our public schools are shortchanging their best students.
Excerpt: Virtually all education reformers recognize that America’s ability to remain an economic superpower depends to a significant degree on the number and quality of engineers, scientists, and mathematicians graduating from our colleges and universities—scientific innovation has generated as much as half of all U.S. economic growth over the past half-century, on some accounts. But the number of graduates in these fields has declined steadily for the past several decades. A report by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation concludes that “bachelor’s degrees in engineering granted to Americans peaked in 1985 and are now 23 percent below that level.” Further, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, only 6 percent of U.S. undergraduates currently major in engineering, compared with 12 percent in Europe and Israel and closer to 20 percent in Japan and South Korea. (“I majored in Peace Studies with a minor in Dance, I’ve got $80k in student debt, and evil corporations won’t give me a job with a six-figure salary!” ~Bob.)

States Expand Lucrative Pensions to More Jobs
Excerpt: As states tighten budgets and prepare to address massive deficits, special retirement benefits are constantly being extended to additional groups of workers. While the exclusive packages were once reserved for police officers, firefighters and other public workers in dangerous areas, tens of thousands of state workers such as park rangers, dispatchers, coroners, even highway laborers, museum guards and lifeguards are being incorporated into the programs. These packages contain privileges and benefits that far exceed traditional compensation, says USA Today. The minimum age of retirement is usually substantially lower for those with special retirement plans. The compensation package that retirees receive is a larger percentage of the beneficiary's working income and fewer years of service are necessary to qualify. The additional cost per worker that is allowed to qualify for a special package is approximately $1 million over the course of the worker's retirement. (Government employees. You wish they were the 1%. ~Bob.)

Bitten by lawsuit ‘sharks’
Excerpt: A Brooklyn firm that advances money to plaintiffs in anticipation of winning their lawsuits charges interest rates that would make a loan shark blush, court papers reveal. LawBuck$, based in Borough Park, is demanding $116,000 to repay $4,000 in loans it made to a man who successfully sued the city in a police-brutality case, according to court documents.

60% Think Federal Government Encourages Illegal Immigration
Excerpt: Voters continue to believe strongly that the federal government’s actions are encouraging illegal immigration even as the Obama administration announces bias charges against a popular Arizona sheriff for his anti-immigration efforts. Also this week, the U.S. Supreme Court sped up its review of the Justice Department’s legal challenge of state laws aimed at stopping illegal immigration. (The other 40% are Democrats who think it doesn’t do enough to bring more here. ~Bob.)

The candidate's problem isn't better-funded opponent or media bias—it's his own views on foreign policy.--By Kim Strassel
Excerpt: Ron Paul is, in many ways, the ideal candidate for a conservative electorate hungry for a principled GOP nominee. Ron Paul will never be the GOP nominee. For this, Mr. Paul has himself to blame.

Hiding their race
Excerpt: To check or not to check the Asian box? That’s the choice faced by Asian-American students applying to what are supposed to be the most tolerant places on Earth: the nation’s colleges. The AP ran a report on Asian students of mixed parentage checking “white” on their applications to avoid outing themselves as Asians. The Princeton Review Student Advantage Guide counsels Asian-Americans not to check the race box and warns against sending a photo. In a culture that makes so much of celebrating racial minorities, and that values fairness above all, Asian-American students think that they need to hide their ethnicity because the college-admissions process is so unfair. If African-American motorists fear that they’ll be pulled over by the cops for “Driving While Black,” these kids worry about what will happen to them when “Applying While Asian.”

Russia seizes radioactive material bound for Iran at Moscow airport
 Excerpt: Russia on Friday seized a consignment of the radioactive isotope Sodium-22 at a Moscow airport from a passenger who was to travel on a flight to Tehran, the customs service said. “Tests showed that the Sodium-22 could only have been obtained as the result of the work of a nuclear reactor,” it said in a statement. “A criminal enquiry has been opened and the materials transferred to prosecutors.” (President Obama and Congressman Ron Paul issued the following joint statement: “So?” ~Bob.)
Iran Hijacked US Drone, Says Iranian Engineer
Excerpt: In an exclusive interview, an engineer working to unlock the secrets of the captured RQ-170 Sentinel says they exploited a known vulnerability and tricked the US drone into landing in Iran. (Who knows? No one in Iran is a “reliable source.” ~Bob.)

US satellite pictures China aircraft carrier Varyag
Excerpt: A commercial US satellite company says it has taken a picture of China's first aircraft carrier during its sea trials in the Yellow Sea. It is believed to be the first time that the refitted Soviet vessel has been photographed sailing. The warship began its sea trials in August, raising fresh concerns over Beijing's military build-up. (“Varyag”? I was hoping for “Kaga.” Alert Torpedo 8—here we go again. ~Bob.)

See another beneficiary of 'stimulus' tax dollars
Excerpt: The founder of an energy company that benefited from deals involving hundreds of millions in "stimulus" money made the maximum donation allowable to President Obama's inauguration, WND has learned. Peter L. Corsell, founder of GridPoint Inc., contributed $50,000 to the inauguration.

Excerpt: Solyndra, Lightsquared, and now Solayzme are all companies that are closely connected to the Obama campaign and all got government money. While the Obama Administration has been attacking Republicans as “crony capitalists” and using an army of left-wing pseudo-journalists to make the attacks, the Obama Administration has been rewarding campaign friends with government contracts. In Barack Obama’s America, he, not the marketplace, picks the winners and losers. But just how far into the government and into the Obama campaign does this crony capitalism go?

Hamas marks 24th anniversary, boasts of killing 1,365 Israelis
Excerpt: Weary dhimmi Western authorities are ready to talk with Hamas, despite its unmitigated bloodlust. It is useful to recall why Hamas is considered a terror group in the first place: consider the "Glory Record" that used to be on its website. You can still see it here, via the Wayback Machine. Just in case that is not accessible, here are some excerpts in which Hamas considered attacks on Israeli civilians something that gave it "glory":

Worth Viewing and sharing: A Voters' Guide To Republicans
Great stuff. ~Bob

Nipping Jobs in the Bud by Brian McGraw
Excerpt: As the American economy continues to stumble along, a few bright spots have appeared in the otherwise dim employment picture. The mining and extraction industries are among those bright spots, despite environmentalists' best efforts to shut them down. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mining and logging industries have added over 150,000 jobs over the past year -- roughly 10 percent of the nation's net job growth during that time. Resource-intensive industries could provide even more jobs -- if they were allowed to. Environmental activists have helped to stop or delay projects around the country: uranium mining outside of the Grand Canyon, offshore oil drilling in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico, coal mining in West Virginia, and, most notably, the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Celebrity Justice by Christopher Orlet
Excerpt: The WM3 are finally free, but should they be? The West Memphis Three are free today not because of any new evidence, or, as is so often the case, a legal technicality; rather they owe their freedom to the power and influence of America's celebrity culture and our shallow obsession with pop idols.

Political gridlock could mean ‘game over’ for our national security by Adrian Cronauer
Excerpt: Rumor has it that Leonardo DiCaprio plans to remake the 1983 blockbuster WarGames, in which a young Matthew Broderick hacked into the government’s computer system and nearly triggered a thermonuclear Armageddon. Even though the Soviet Union is long gone, it’s easy to see how the time is ripe for a remake. In fact, the world is now a much more dangerous place. In 1983, only a handful of countries had nuclear weapons. Today, the nuclear genie has long left the bottle.

Defense cuts a threat to our national security by Greg Slavonic
Excerpt: The same month that Congress cut $1 trillion from the defense budget, satellite photos revealed that blackened holes had replaced two buildings at a remote Iranian military facility. According to analysts, the blast indicates that Iranian rocket scientists are working on a breakthrough in new missile technology, likely to target Israel or Europe or even the U.S. mainland. The event came just weeks after a United Nations report that Iran has accelerated its drive to develop nuclear weapons.

Sold into slavery as a girl, Shyima Hall becomes a U.S. citizen
Excerpt: A decade ago, Shyima Hall was smuggled into the United States as a 10-year-old slave, forced to cook and clean inside the home of a wealthy Irvine family and, at night, sleep on a squalid mattress in a windowless garage. On Thursday, the Egyptian-born 22-year-old stood before a federal judge in Montebello with nearly 900 others and was sworn in as naturalized U.S. citizen. … Hall's Egyptian parents sold her into slavery when she was 8 for $30 a month, according to authorities. (Slavery and sex with slave girls [that which your right hand possesses] is permitted by the Qur’an and NYT-endorsed Shari’a Law, so opposing it is Islamophobic. ~Bob.)

A Marine's Christmas Song
Excerpt: Marine Master Sgt. Robert Allen, deployed to Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, sings a song he wrote for his wife for Christmas. Allen joins the thousands of military men and women deployed this holiday season in support of counterinsurgency efforts in Afghanistan. He said he hopes his Christmas song "will help people understand that though we're willing to do it, it's still heartbreaking." (Marine wives are special women. I know, because I've been married to one for over 45 years. If it wasn't for her, I would probably be dead or in prison somewhere. MasterGuns)

Who’s REALLY Blowing Up Iran?
Two related articles on what is happening in Iran. Each throws a bit more light on the subject. Ron P. Excerpt: The latest attack against a major Iranian target came a few days ago against a plant that manufactures “special steel” that is used, inter alia, for nose cones and other parts of missiles. It’s the fourth major attack in the past couple of months, three of which you’ve probably read about, and one which has largely escaped notice. The three you know are the steel plant three days ago, the monster blast at Karaj on November 12th, and the explosion on November 28th at a military complex at Isfahan. The one you didn’t hear about took place on yet another military facility in Khorramabad, near the Iraqi border, a couple of days after Karaj.

Who is Really Fighting the Covert War Against the Regime in Iran
Excerpt: Now, however, it is being reported in the Arabic media that Tehran is making arrests and among those arrested have been senior leaders of the Revolutionary Guard. Iran’s leaders are not usually ones for missing an opportunity for making accusations of a Zionist conspiracy. Yet reports from news channel Al Arabiya would indicate that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei clearly believes that the 12thNovember explosion at the Bidganeh weapons depot was not only an assassination attempt against him but that it was masterminded by his own.

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