Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Old Jarhead's Political SitRep for June 12, 2013

Old Jarhead's Political SitRep for June 12, 2013
Robert A. Hall
Your one-stop-shop for political news and opinion--who needs newspapers or TV? Please forward to friends who need to be informed. This SitRep (Military for “Situation Report”) is created by many readers who send me items for inclusion, which I would have likely missed or skipped. And I can only spend at most three hours a night pulling stuff, plus the healthcare or economic stuff that crosses my desk at work. As always, I—and you—owe them thanks and appreciation. I post articles because I think they are of interest and will stimulate thought and discussion. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree (or disagree) with every—or any—opinion in the posted article, or that I was able to verify the information presented, which is the responsibility of the author. I try not to post things that are false, or too far a stretch, regardless of the view point, but I don’t always succeed. As always on the Net, or in the legacy media, you must read critically and with skepticism.
Books by Robert A. Hall

Worth Reading: Economics vs. 'Need.' By Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: Although "need" is a word often used in politics and in the media, from an economic standpoint there is no such thing as an objective and quantifiable "need."
You might think that we all obviously need food to live. But however urgent it may be to have some food, nevertheless beyond some point food becomes not only unnecessary but even counterproductive and dangerous. Widespread obesity among Americans shows that many have already gone too far with food.

Worth Reading: Pick Your Scandal: Violating Americans’ privacy while failing to identify the terrorists among us. By Victor Davis Hanson
Excerpt: Until someone proves that the administration was not wrong in failing to beef up our posts, was not wrong in not ordering immediate succor, was not wrong in blaming the violence on a filmmaker, and was not wrong in covering up the truth by promoting a demonstrably false narrative, the scandal will not go away.

ObamaCare Bill Includes Lobbying Funds
Excerpt: A rarely noticed part of President Obama's Affordable Care Act channels some $12.5 billion into a vaguely defined "Prevention and Public Health Fund" over the next decade. That money is going for everything from massage therapists who offer "calming techniques" to groups advocating higher state and local taxes on tobacco and soda, and stricter zoning restrictions on fast food restaurants, says Stuart Taylor, a nonresident senior fellow of the Brookings Institution. The program, which is run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has raised alarms among congressional critics, who call it a "slush fund" because the department can spend the money as it sees fit without going through the congressional appropriations process. The sums involved are vast. By 2022, HHS will be able to spend $2 billion per year at its sole discretion, in perpetuity. What makes the Prevention and Public Health Fund controversial is its multibillion-dollar size, its unending nature (the fund never expires), and its vague spending mandate: any program designed "to improve health and help restrain the rate of growth" of health care costs.

GOP Sen. Corker to Obama: Arm ‘moderate’ Syrian rebels
Excerpt: The top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, pressed President Barack Obama on Monday to arm moderate Syrian rebels friendly to the United States “at the earliest possible time.” (We will never learn. Every time someone gets into a fistfight somewhere, we think we have to get into it. We don't. There are no good guys in these Muslim civil wars. The only good guys in the middle east are the Israelis. - LLW)

Scandal of the Day: EPA 'Mistakenly' Gives Names of Farmers to Radical Groups
Excerpt: A bipartisan group of 24 senators has sent a letter to the EPA, demanding that the agency explain why it leaked the names and personal information of more than 80,000 farmers and ranchers to left-wing organizations. (I can't keep up. ~Bob.)

IRS Caught Buying Spy Gear, Hidden Cameras
Excerpt: The IRS, currently in the midst of scandals involving the targeting of conservative groups and lavish taxpayer-funded conferences, is ordering surveillance equipment that includes hidden cameras in coffee trays, plants and clock radios.

IRS Claims Law Protecting the Privacy of Taxpayer Information Also Protects the Privacy of Those Who Violate Taxpayer Privacy
Excerpt: The IRS is claiming they can't tell NOM who illegally leaked confidential information, because the law forbidding the disclosure of confidential information also protects the confidentiality of those who illegally leak such information!

Iran eyes 30 nuclear bombs a year: Israel minister
Excerpt: Iran is working round the clock to enlarge its nuclear infrastructure with the eventual aim of developing an industry capable of building up to 30 bombs a year, an Israeli minister charged on Monday.

Susan G. Komen CEO salary up 64 percent as charity loses funds
Excerpt: Nancy Brinker, CEO  of the Susan G. Komen Foundation, is making over and above other charity heads, even after the breast cancer charity recently cancelled half of their three-day charity walks for 2014. The foundation blamed the economy for the cancellations, reports NBC News. Nancy Brinker makes $684 thousand annually, a 64 percent increase from her salary in 2010.

Interview with a Turkish Protester: ‘Police Tortured me’
Excerpt: It seems the effects of Islamization in Turkey have reached a tipping point, as is evidenced by the recent protests in the streets. It is increasingly difficult to be a Christian, as this young man found when his friends disapproved of his choice of spouse. In this article he shares about the beating he received from police and the threats they made to “rape his Christian wife.”

Excerpt: Erin Brockovich is a far cry from her days as a perky blonde environmental activist. The 52-year-old’s booking photo was released today after she was arrested on suspicion of boating while intoxicated at Lake Mead near Las Vegas, authorities said Sunday.

IRS Caught on Tape Telling Nonprofit: “Keep Your Faith to Yourself”
Excerpt: Alliance Defending Freedom, a pro-life legal group, made the audio available today of IRS officials telling a group that provides support to women in abusive pregnancy situations to keep its faith to itself. In the recorded phone conversation, an IRS agent lectures the president of the organization about forcing its religion and beliefs on others and inaccurately explains that the group must remain neutral on issues such as abortion.

Ben Franklin on the NSA surveillance
Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

NSA & IRS response
Putting two and two together regarding recent revelations reinforces my fear that Uncle already knows where every gun owner lives. They may not know about every gun you own, but that is clearly one of the goals of the recently defeated "background check" legislation. But the NRA just foments fear and distrust of Government. Right. The cat is out of the bag. –Steve

The Fuse Has Been Lit: Seven Critical Points On Uncle Sam’s Spying Program
Excerpt: It’s now evident that all these wonderful digital services--many of them, such as Google’s Gmail, given away for free--were, in fact, a kind of Trojan Horse. That is, on the outside, it all seemed like a good deal--but then the real truth comes tumbling out, and it’s too late. … The rueful lesson of our own time: “Beware of geeks bearing gifts.”

Excerpt: There's very little trust in the government, and that's for good reason," said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who sits on the House Intelligence Committee. "We're our own worst enemy." A senior U.S. intelligence official on Monday said there were no plans to scrap the programs that, despite the backlash, continue to receive widespread if cautious support within Congress.

More Explosive Surveillance Information Revealed
Excerpt: Yesterday I told you about how Obama's National Security Agency has been collecting telephones records for millions of Verizon customers within the US. As shocking as the revelation appeared at the time, apparently the spying doesn't end there. The Wall Street Journal reports that people familiar with the NSA operation say that data is also being seized from AT&T and Sprint users as well.
Apples - How Do You Like Them? By Andy Weddington
Excerpt: My thoughts ran the spectrum - from Cezanne (astonishing Paris with an apple) to politics (astonished by all the rotten apples, and the scandals now surrounding them, in our government - but that's another commentary).

Record 23,116,441 households on food stamps
Excerpt: The number of American households on food stamps reached a new record high in March, according to new data released by the Agriculture Department. The March numbers the USDA released Friday reveal 23,116,441 households enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps, each receiving an average monthly benefit of $274.30…. SNAP has been in the news in recent years and months as the program’s rolls have ballooned and the cost has quadrupled since 2001 and doubled since President Obama took office.

Excerpt: Off-duty cops in two counties in Alabama spent the weekend collecting saliva and blood samples from drivers at roadblocks. According to Lt. Freddie Turrentine with the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department, drivers were asked to voluntarily offer samples of their saliva and blood for a study being conducted by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation. The drivers were compensated for their samples.

Folding in Front of the US Will Save us from Neither Shame Nor War. By Douglas Hornung
Excerpt: This power play [by the U.S.] ... constitutes an unacceptable mismanagement of an independent state’s sovereignty and a crass violation of the age-old principle of equality between sovereign states.( Lord, give the Swiss the courage to stand up to the tyrants! --Don Hank)

Two times the government used its anti-terrorism powers to target Americans not engaged in terrorism
Excerpt: Two former intercept officers who worked at the NSA facility in Fort Gordon, Georgia told ABC News’s Brian Ross in 2008 that they and their colleagues listened in on phone calls home of hundreds of Americans living and working abroad. "These were just really everyday, average, ordinary Americans who happened to be in the Middle East, in our area of intercept, and happened to be making these phone calls on satellite phones,” Adrienne Kinne, one of the whistle-blowers and a former Army Reserves Arab linguist, told ABC News. (Imagine the reports to the President: “Mary Jones wants her husband to send more money.” “Frank Smith isn’t sure his wife still loves him.” Top level stuff. ~Bob.)

‘Teacher of the Year’ earns $20,000 less than average, thanks to union rules
Excerpt: So why does Gary Abud, the 2013-14 Michigan Teacher of the Year, make well below the average salary for teachers in his district? The answer lies with the anti-meritocratic compensation rules governing teachers unions in Michigan.

Excerpt: John Yoo writes below about prosecuting NSA leaker Edward Snowden, and observes en passant: If he is a spy — it is amazing that someone with such little education and background was given such extensive security clearance — he may well continue running abroad. John knows government from the inside as well as anyone, so I don’t know why it would be “amazing” at all. Over 4 million people hold US security clearances: That’s the equivalent of giving security clearances to the entire population of New Zealand

A Billion Bucks in Bullets: U.S. government has given Afghan National Army more than $1 billion in ammo
Excerpt: The U.S. government has given the embattled Afghan National Army (ANA) more than $1 billion in taxpayer-funded ammunition, according to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction’s (SIGAR) latest oversight report. (What could go wrong? ~Bob. How many of these were used to murder Americans in green-on-blue attacks? --Robert Spencer, JihadWatch.org.)

Dozens wounded in bomb attacks in Kenya
Didn’t get the “Islam is a Religion of Peace” memo. ~Bob. Excerpt: Kenyan police have previously blamed similar grenade attacks on supporters or members of Somalia's Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgents.

Taliban beheads two boys in southern Afghanistan
Didn’t get the memo. ~Bob. Excerpt: Taliban fighters beheaded two boys aged 10 and 16 as a warning to villagers not to cooperate with the Afghan government, local officials said.

Mending Vatican ties: Al-Azhar wants pope to declare Islam peaceful
How about if Muslims will go, say, a month without slaughtering people, mostly each other, in the name of Allah? ~Bob.

Google's Eric Schmidt Invests in Obama's Big Data Brains

Excerpt: Wagner’s team pursued a bottom-up strategy of unifying vast commercial and political databases to understand the proclivities of individual voters likely to support Obama or be open to his message, and then sought to persuade them through personalized contact via Facebook (FB), e-mail, or a knock on the door. …Wagner expects the company to work for Democratic candidates—and only Democrats—next year. … “But there’s also an opportunity to take the experience, people, and technological infrastructure from the campaign to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems.” (Does this sound like term limits? –Barb.) 

The Question is Not Whether the Obama Regime Will Survive, But Will America as Founded Survive the Obama Regime?
Excerpt: The fact is, this is the biggest snooping enterprise against Americans ever. … This is the fundamental point... But we have a unique set of circumstances here that accompany Barack Obama in the Oval Office, and those circumstances are like an impenetrable fortress around him.

The Limbaugh Theorem! The President Lies to His Filthy Rich Palo Alto Donors
Excerpt: Now, these are people who've gotten rich, filthy rich because of the free market. These are people of individual entrepreneurs exercising a great deal of freedom and ingenuity and entrepreneurialism in a highly competitive, open and free market. … These are people who are brilliant in their field, but politically they are either blind or ignorant or they lie to themselves, or they simply love being close to power and they're willing to overcome whatever problems Obama causes for everybody else in order to maintain their close proximity to power. 

Is Technology Outstripping the Ability of Law to Protect Us? Twenty-first century technology is being governed largely by twentieth century law.
Excerpt: Recent revelations about the National Security Agency amassing massive amounts of data ranging from cell phone records to Internet activity to credit card transactions have, quite rightfully, led many Americans to become concerned about the extent to which our civil liberties are being eroded by government monitoring in the name of “public safety.”…To the extent that they have been able to deal with the issues that this new technology presents, courts have been forced to apply precedent based on twentieth, or nineteenth, century technology to the twenty-first century. The result, quite often, has been a decided bias in favor of the state and against individual liberty.

Excerpt: I am contemplating the train wreck revolving around the revelations about our National Security Agency’s appetite for spying on U.S. citizens, along with the train wreck that swirls around the revelations about the deployment of the IRS for partisan vengeance, along with the train wreck that is the fiscal, administrative, and, ultimately, medical catastrophe called ObamaCare (aka, the un-affordable “Affordable Care Act”), not to mention the train wreck that was the administration’s reaction (“What difference does it make?”) to the murderous Islamic terrorist attack on our consulate in Benghazi, along with . . . well, you get the picture.

Excerpt: What is most important to understand about the revelations of massive message interception by the U.S. government is this: in counterterrorist terms, it is a farce. There is a fallacy behind the current intelligence strategy of the United States, behind this collection of up to three billion phone calls a day, of emails, and even of credit card expenditures, not to mention the government spying on the mass media. It is this: The more quantity of intelligence, the better it is for preventing terrorism.

Daniel Ellsberg and Rush Limbaugh come at the Obama administration’s actions from different perspectives but they ultimately agree: The Obama government has staged or is staging a form of coup against the American people. Ellsberg believes the evidence for such a coup rests in the Edward Snowden leak of the NSA’s PRISM program. (Ellsberg is an icon of the left. But if he goes after “The One,” he may find himself a non-person, like Comrade Harry Pollitt, who supposedly disagreed with the Party and was declared murdered by us counter-revolutionaries cads, though still very much alive. http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk/folk-song-lyrics/Ballad_of_Harry_Pollitt.htm ~Bob.)

The All-Seeing State: The inevitable corruption of the permanent bureaucracy. By Mark Steyn
Excerpt: It may be that the strange synchronicity between the president and the permanent bureaucracy is mere happenstance and not, as it might sound to the casual ear, the sinister merging of party and state. Either way, they need to be pried apart. When the state has the capability to know everything except the difference between right and wrong, it won’t end well.

Clashes in Istanbul as Turkish PM says he won't yield
Excerpt: Turkish riot police fired tear gas and water cannons at hundreds of protesters armed with rocks and fireworks on Tuesday as they tried to regain control of a central Istanbul square at the heart of anti-government demonstrations. (Somewhere, Constantine XI is smiling. ~Bob.)

In pictures: Police storm Taksim Square amid protests in Turkey

Kuwait to jail woman for tweets against emir
Excerpt: A Kuwaiti court has sentenced a woman to 11 years in jail for posting remarks on Twitter deemed insulting to the emir and calling for the overthrow of the regime, the verdict said. Huda al-Ajmi, a 37-year-old teacher, on Monday received the longest known sentence for online dissent in the Gulf state.

Our Insecurity About Security. By Lenore Skenazy
Excerpt: "Security Theater" is the fantastic phrase invented by security guru Bruce Schneier to describe the kinds of charades we go through to make ourselves feel safe. It's what happens when you're at the airport and you go through the explosives detector and the TSA folks take you aside for a private patting. Personally, I don't mind them touching me — that's just their job. I mind the fact that WORRYING ABOUT ME is their job. (The TSA guys always tell me, “I’m just going to use the back of my hand.” I tried that like at Hooters, but no go. ~Bob.)

The Fact Checker: The Truth Behind the Rhetoric. Obama's claim of 500,000 manufacturing jobs, month after month. By Glenn Kessler
Excerpt: While the president has long preferred to point to the gain in jobs since early 2010 — the low point in employment during his presidency — the fact remains that manufacturing employment remains about 600,000 jobs smaller than when he took office. That stands in stark contrast to overall nonfarm employment — which is 2 million jobs larger. Moreover, the growth in manufacturing jobs has basically stalled over the past year. 

Obamacare Math Won't Add Up. By Debra J. Saunders
Excerpt: In 2007, the president made this promise: "I will sign a universal health care bill into law by the end of my first term as president that will cover every American and cut the cost of a typical family's premium by up to $2,500 a year." PolitiFact rated the above quote as a "promise broken" and last year found no evidence of any drop in premiums; never mind $2,500.

Why Obama became a snoop. By Rich Lowry
Excerpt: Before Barack Obama became president, he reveled in the irresponsibility of his powerlessness. He could denounce Bush administration counterterrorism initiatives from a glorious position of civil-libertarian purity and posit the need to strike a perfect balance "between privacy and security." Then he got elected president, and the mere posturing had to end. He had to grow up.

The News in Zingers. By Argus Hamilton
Excerpt: The Senate said all phone calls are recorded and stored in the NSA's Data Center in rural Utah. It's a Mormon enclave that believes in no alcohol, no tobacco, no caffeine, and no limit on wives. The White House is already blaming the snooping on President Romney.

Obama's power grab. By Glenn Harlan Reynolds
Excerpt: "How ironic is that? We wanted a president that listens to all Americans -- now we have one." That was Jay Leno's take on the Obama administration's expanding NSA spying scandal, which has gone beyond Verizon phone records to include Google, Facebook, Yahoo and just about all the other major tech companies except, apparently, for Twitter.

Unbelievable: State Department memo reveals possible cover-ups, halted investigations
On Hillary’s watch, but at this point, what difference does it make. ~Bob. Excerpt: Among them: allegations that a State Department security official in Beirut "engaged in sexual assaults" on foreign nationals hired as embassy guards and the charge and that members of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's security detail "engaged prostitutes while on official trips in foreign countries" -- a problem the report says was "endemic." The memo also reveals details about an "underground drug ring" was operating near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and supplied State Department security contractors with drugs.

Gulf Arabs pledge sanctions against Hezbollah members over Syria
Excerpt: Gulf Arab states on Monday promised sanctions against members of the Lebanese Shi'ite militant group Hezbollah in retaliation for its intervention in Syria's civil war in support of President Bashar al-Assad. (Have to send them some “we Stand With Israel” bumper stickers for their limos. ~Bob.)

Clinton Insider Reveals Obama’s Foreign Policy Blunders. By Daniel Greenfield 
Excerpt: The Dispensable Nation is the story of a struggle between two Democratic administrations; the one that exists and the shadow administration that Hillary Clinton attempted to create as Secretary of State.

Excerpt: U.S. intelligence operatives covertly sabotaged a prominent al-Qaeda online magazine last month in an apparent attempt to sow confusion among the group's followers, according to officials.

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