Friday, December 30, 2011

Political Digest for December 31, 2011

My bride had to work Friday morning, giving me some computer time to produce a short digest. Be careful New Years Eve--the drunks are out in force. ~Bob.

Cable station this morning had a map of Iowa, with colored lines showing the different routes the candidates will take around the state today. Why is that important? Why is it news? By November, everyone will be s o sick of this election no one may vote. ~Bob.

Luxury 99 per cent of Americans can only dream of...Michael Moore's stunning waterfront mansion revealed
Excerpt: He is the booming voice of the Occupy protests, encouraging activists to continue their battle against the wealthy one per cent of Americans. But it seems left-wing documentary maker Michael Moore has been uncharacteristically quiet about one thing: his own wealth. While Moore has denied he is among the top-earners in the country, tax records show he owns an extensive property in one of the country’s most elite communities. (Little nicer than a tent. Or any place this "rich" Republican ever owned. ~Bob.)

Iranian end game
This excellent article explains why the Iranians are, and will continue to be, difficult to deal with. Highly recommended. --Ron P. Excerpt: For almost a third of a century, the Islamic Republic of Iran has confounded American presidents. It has taken hostages, conducted terrorism, undermined the Middle East peace process, and worked unrelentingly to become a nuclear power and develop missiles with global reach. Tehran might frustrate American officials, but its tactics and its efforts to bolster its strategic position are both predictable and reflective of Iran's sense of its history and culture, as well as the late Ayatollah Khomeini's revolutionary ideology and his profound disdain for the United States.

Currency Agreement for Japan and China
Excerpt: China and Japan have agreed to start direct trading of their currencies, officials announced during a visit here on Monday by Japan’s prime minister, Yoshihiko Noda.
Japan will also apply to buy Chinese bonds next year, allowing it to accumulate more renminbi in its foreign-exchange reserves. The moves were among several that emerged from Mr. Noda’s meetings with President Hu Jintao, which focused on how the two nations could work together to maintain peace on the Korean peninsula. (I suggested in The Coming Collapse of the American Republic that China's long term goal was to exert enough military and economic power to push us out of the Pacific, giving them economic dominance over Taiwan, Korea and Japan. Thus this looks like a step in that direction to me. ~Bob.)

Pair who embezzled $900,000 from disabled vets get 3 years in prison
Excerpt: A former federal employee and a financial appointee who conspired to embezzle nearly $900,000 from disabled military veterans’ accounts have been sentenced to three years in federal prison. (Three years? And that's supposed to be justice? And the sad part is that they would still be doing it had one of the disabled vets not died, and his mother went looking for funds that she knew were supposed to be there. A bank robber in Mississippi took $1 out of a packet of money the teller gave him and handed the rest back to her, and he got 14 years. Note that the article makes no mention of any restitution by the pieces of scum. Hell, what they stole is worth doing three years time for, but I'm betting that they won't even do the full three years. --MasterGuns)

Stuxnet Virus, Duqu Virus And At Least 3 Others Reportedly Built On Same Platform
Excerpt: The Stuxnet virus that last year damaged Iran's nuclear program was likely one of at least five cyber weapons developed on a single platform whose roots trace back to 2007, according to new research from Russian computer security firm Kaspersky Lab. Security experts widely believe that the United States and Israel were behind Stuxnet, though the two nations have officially declined to comment on the matter. (…) Stuxnet has already been linked to another virus, the Duqu data-stealing trojan, but Kaspersky's research suggests the cyber weapons program that targeted Iran may be far more sophisticated than previously known. (Back on 26 Sep 2010 in a comment on the article “Cyber War on Iran: the Siemens Connection,” I said “If it can be done to them, it can be done to us. Perhaps it’s time to take computer security seriously.” But, we still aren’t, are we? Plainly, if a Russian firm can identify and isolate these viruses, soon they’ll be able to redirect them at targets of THEIR choosing. Perhaps those controlling the type and amount of chemicals in someone’s drinking water? Just a thought; it’s an unfriendly world out there, you know. Ron P.)

Oldest Baby Boomers Face Jobs Bust
Excerpt: Older baby boomers are trying to postpone retirement, as many worry their savings will be insufficient to last their entire retirement. Though unemployment among those older than age 55 is lower than the national rate, the portion that is unemployed, underemployed or discouraged has increased drastically in recent years. Furthermore, those who have been lucky enough to keep jobs are slowly being pushed out of the market as employers look for younger, cheaper workers, says the Wall Street Journal. Among workers ages 55 to 64, 6.5 percent were unemployed as of October of 2011 -- more than twice the jobless rate for that group five years ago. When including those who are underemployed (working part-time or accepting a pay cut) and those who are discouraged (those who would like a job but have not looked in the past month), this figure rises to 17.4 percent, or 4.3 million Americans. Among those workers over age 55, more than half have been searching for jobs for more than two years, while this figure is only 31 percent for younger workers. Among those older workers who were able to find jobs, 72 percent report having taken a pay cut, often a big one.

Medicare and Social Security to Total 50 Percent of Budget by 2030
Excerpt: The annual share of the U.S. budget spent on programs benefiting senior citizens (i.e., those aged 65 and over) has increased rapidly in the past few decades. More importantly (and alarmingly) is that these same programs under current law are expected to continue to increase rapidly in decades to come. Data on Social Security and Medicare spending from the Congressional Budget Office is used to show the historical trends and projected share of the budget between 1970 and 2084, says Veronique de Rugy of the Mercatus Center. In 1970, spending on Social Security and Medicare was one-fifth of the budget. This portion has since grown to nearly 37 percent of the budget in 2010; this amounts to 8.4 percent of the country's gross domestic product. The portion of the federal budget that is allotted to these two mandatory programs has begun to dwarf even the most traditional forms of government spending -- in 2010, they amounted to more than double defense spending.

Ron Paul does interview with Iranian state TV, bashes Israel, defends Hamas
No wonder he regrets the killing of bin Laden. They were allies on US Foreign policy. ~Bob.

Freedom Protesters From Kafranbel, Syria Determined to Get Their Message Out to the West
Excerpt: For the past year the brave people of Kafranbel, Syria have cried out to the West for assistance. For these courageous protesters revealing their identities could mean punishment or death. Despite this, they remain undeterred in their efforts.

Behind the Islamic Republic's Bluster: The regime's rants about closing the Strait of Hormuz divert the world's attention from the thousands of political prisoners in its jails. By Shirin Ebadi
Excerpt: The clerical regime that misrules Iran is imploding in slow-motion while intensifying its repression at home and threatening behavior abroad. But is the international community doing all it can to support the Iranian people and hold the regime to account? It's clear that the leadership in Tehran is wracked by internal strife, with divisions deepening between Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his allies.

California Low-Carbon Rules Halted
Excerpt: In a victory for refiners and ethanol producers, a federal judge halted enforcement of California's low-carbon fuel rules Thursday, saying they discriminated against crude oil and ethanol imported into the state. The decision puts on hold a major portion of California's effort to cut greenhouse-gas emissions, at a time when the most-populous state's stance has taken on extra importance nationwide because of a stalemate in Washington over greenhouse-gas legislation.

War Games, An Energy Crisis, and the Iranian Threat
Excerpt: The Strait of Hormuz lies between Iran and the United Arab Emirates, providing passage for some 15.5 million barrels of crude oil per day, amounting to one third of the world's seaborne oil shipments. In a word, it is a 34-mile-wide chokepoint, making Iran's threat this week to shut down the strait all the more serious for the global community.

Opening+Christmas in Eurabia
Funny...but sad. ~Bob

High-seas diplomacy --Only US Navy can check Iran By Arthur Herman
Excerpt: Anyone wondering if we still need a strong US Navy should consider the current commotion over the Strait of Hormuz. Iran has decided to raise the tension over its nuclear-weapons program by threatening to shut down that all-important waterway at the mouth of the Persian Gulf if Washington and its allies tighten sanctions on its crude-oil exports.

Pols urge DA to go easy on gun-toting Ground Zero tourist
Excerpt: The Manhattan DA should show mercy to a Tennessee tourist who was busted for bringing a gun to the 9/11 Memorial, considering the weapon is registered in her home state, lawmakers and legal experts told The Post yesterday. City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Queens), chairman of the Public Safety Committee, personally asked Cyrus Vance Jr.’s office not to push for the 3 1/2-year minimum sentence for Meredith Graves, 39. “By prosecuting this woman and seeking 3 1/2 years of jail, we are shooting our own [gun-control] efforts in the foot and giving the rest of the country ammunition,” Vallone said.

Worth Reading: Are we alone in the universe? By Charles Krauthammer
Excerpt: It’s called the Fermi Paradox, after the great physicist who once asked, “Where is everybody?” Or as was once elaborated: “All our logic, all our anti- isocentrism, assures us that we are not unique — that they must be there. And yet we do not see them.” ... Modern satellite data, applied to the Drake Equation, suggest that the number should be very high. So why the silence? Carl Sagan (among others) thought that the answer is to be found, tragically, in the final variable: the high probability that advanced civilizations destroy themselves.

Obama's foreign policy failures have yet to explode, but when they do...By Caroline B. Glick
Excerpt: These support levels tell us a great deal about the insularity of the American public. For when one assesses the impact to date of Obama's foreign policy it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that if the US public was more aware of the actual consequences of his policies, his approval rating in foreign affairs would be even lower than his approval rating in domestic policy. Indeed, a cursory examination of the impact so far of Obama's foreign policies in country after country and region after region indicates that his policies have been more damaging to US national interests than those of any president since Jimmy Carter. ... At a minimum, forewarned is forearmed. And the dimensions of Obama's failures are so enormous, that it is clear that the American people will suffer their consequences for years to come.

New York Times Ridicules Gingrich on Sharia
Excerpt: On December 21, the New York Times​ published an article by reporter Scott Shane titled “In Islamic Law, Gingrich Sees Mortal Threat to U.S.” The article tried to subtlety discredit Gingrich and others talking about the Islamist agenda in the U.S., twice stating that “many scholars” feel the threat is being overblown and it is “roundly rejected” by most experts. (I know a doctor who would strongly disagree. Of course, he grew up in an Islamic household in Iran, so unlike the NYT, has seen Shari'a first hand. If Shari'a is so great, why doesn't the NYT require all employees to comply with it's provisions? ~Bob.)

Obama’s Loyal Allies
Excerpt: During the 2008 campaign, the network morning shows were cheerleaders for the Democratic field. In 2012, they are sure to be providing far more hostile coverage of various Republicans who are running, while treating Obama’s re-election campaign to the same personality-driven coverage that was so helpful to the then-Illinois Senator four years ago.

Excerpt: The Huntsman campaign just released this video, which scores a pretty solid hit on Paul with the newsletter issue, ending with his embarrassing flight from the Gloria Borger interview:

Once Again, Red Staters Lead the Nation in Private Charitable Giving
Excerpt: The Fraser Institute has released their latest report on charitable giving in the U.S. and Canada, and once again North America’s leaders in charitable donations from the Rio Grande to the Arctic Circle reside overwhelmingly in red states. This has been the case for some time, and the reason for it almost certainly comes down to a difference in philosophy regarding charity and the role of private/public institutions in its application. It’s unsurprising that conservatives – who by and large believe in the sovereignty of the individual, particularly in terms of fiscal decision-making – choose to give of their own net incomes to charitable causes and organizations that they find worthwhile. It’s also unsurprising (and stereotypical) that liberals choose to give less of their own net income to charity, instead leaving that responsibility to the government, which replaces the individual as the evaluator and benefactor of charitable organizations and endeavors.

Russia: Nuclear submarine fire finally out
Excerpt: Firefighters extinguished a massive fire aboard a docked Russian nuclear submarine Friday as some crew members remained inside, officials said, giving assurances that there was no radiation leak and the vessel's nuclear-tipped missiles were not on board.

I'm allowed to kill infidels, man tells judge
Excerpt: A mentally disturbed man who stabbed a witness to death in court told an appeals court judge yesterday that as a Muslim he was entitled to kill "infidels". (Muslim equals "mentally disturbed"? ~Bob.)

Nearly 200,000 books in Egypt reduced to ashes at the hands of Islamic supremacists
Excerpt: Yet another nail in the coffin of the dangerously delusional idea that the 'Arab Spring' is a step forward for freedom, democracy, human rights, et cetera. Earlier this month, in a development nearly two weeks old (as of this writing), approximately 192,000 rare books and manuscripts belonging to the Institute of Egypt in Cairo went up in flames, destroyed by rampaging Muslim mob. This wanton destruction is a fresh reminder -- as if we needed another -- that the 'Arab Spring' does not just equal an Islamic winter for Muslims and any unfortunate non Muslims in the vicinity. This self-inflicted Islamic-inspired lobotomy equals a massive setback for the human enterprise and a victory for the forces of ignorance and darkness. In the wake of the silence from the West and other supposed voices of liberty and freedom, such forces can only grow stronger.

Louis Woodhill: Even the Warmists Don't Believe In Global Warming
Excerpt: can always tell what they are truly committed to by how they negotiate. If someone really wants to do something, they will react to a suggestion by engaging it. They will “work with” the suggestion, trying to see how it can help them do what they say they want to do. If someone says that they want to do something but they really have some other agenda, they will respond to a suggestion with an instant, “Yes, but…” (...) Given that geoengineering has the potential to actually do something about the climate change “problem”, the reaction of the climate change crowd to it has been illuminating. They have gone all-out to stop geoengineering experiments from being conducted, and they are doing everything they can to prevent geoengineering from even being discussed. (If AGW is actually happening, I’m not sure geo-engineering can help, but it would be a far more palatable answer than another layer of bureaucrats. The really interesting thing this author points out is the reaction of the warmists to an alternative solution that would leave them with neither power nor money. Ron P.)

New data on low-dose radiation
Excerpt: The prevailing method to deal with this area of uncertainty is to extrapolate the observable effects of high doses and assume the same relationship applies to low doses with no observable effect i.e. assume that all levels of exposure come with a commensurate health risk, no matter how small. This approach is used in practice as a basis for the management of occupational and public exposure worldwide. It is a safe assumption that the amount of DNA damage increases in line with radiation exposure, but Mina Bissell of Berkeley's life sciences division said today: "Our data show that at lower doses of ionizing radiation, DNA repair mechanisms work much better than at higher doses." She added that this "casts doubt on the general assumption that any amount of ionizing radiation is harmful and additive." (Why is this important? Have you ever heard an anti-nuclear activist argue that there is NO safe dose of radiation? Any and every dose is dangerous for the rest of your life, they say. Although every human is constantly subjected to radiation every day as long as we live, and any fool off the street can tell you too much of something is probably worse for you than a smaller amount, exactly that argument has been made countless times trying to stop the operation of nuclear plants. Will this stop the argument from being used? Of course not. The left never gives up a tool that can fool some of the people some of the time. But for the first time, there is a study from a respected school that says maybe it's not so. If they don’t hang this poor researcher out to dry, she’ll wreck their racket like pushing Humpty Dumpty off the wall. Ron P.)

America’s Two-Front War
Excerpt: Sometime about mid-2009 America began changing psychologically. (…) In short, a sizable fraction of the upper-incomes is hesitant, defensive, unsure — and to such a degree that for a while longer it is not hiring, buying, or investing in the old way. It believes not only that there is no certainty in the tax code, the cost of new entitlements, or our national finance, but that even if there were their own successes would be suspect and earn antipathy rather than praise. In mirror-image fashion, those of the lower incomes are likewise hesitant to take risks — unsure that the rewards of work in the private sector are all that much better than what government can offer through subsidies. (The goose that laid the golden eggs was the American work ethic and free-market, private-sector capitalism. They have pretty much killed that, consigning future generations born in America to Third World poverty. ~Bob.)

2011: You can't win for losing by Jonah Goldberg
Excerpt: In January, a deranged madman killed a bunch of people in Arizona and horribly wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. It was a true tragedy, disgustingly exploited by liberals who saw it as the perfect opportunity to demonize political opponents. Against the weight of logic, facts and decency, allegedly serious people claimed that a map on Sarah Palin's Facebook page inspired the shooter. The Tucson tragedy also let Barack Obama deliver perhaps the best speech of his presidency -- on the need to tone down the extreme rhetoric on both sides. Alas, when liberals lecture "both sides," they mean, "Everyone who disagrees with me should shut up."

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