I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree (or disagree) with every—or any—opinion in the posted article. Help your friends and relatives stay informed by passing the digest on.
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Osama bin Laden buried at sea after being killed by U.S. forces in Pakistan
Excerpt: Osama bin Laden, the long-hunted al-Qaeda leader and chief architect of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, was killed by U.S. forces Sunday in what officials described as a surgical raid on his luxury hideout in Pakistan. In a rare Sunday night address from the East Room of the White House, President Obama said a small team of U.S. personnel attacked a compound Sunday in Pakistan’s Abbottabad Valley, where bin Laden had been hiding since at least last summer. During a firefight, the U.S. team killed bin Laden, 54, and took custody of his body in what Obama called “the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al-Qaeda.”
- This is more significant, Mr. President, than the American military throwing the Taliban out of Afghanistan in months, against all the predictions of the Left and the media?
- All honor to the CIA, which usually gets more blame than credit because we usually only hear about their efforts when they go wrong, and to our superb Navy SEALS.
- A happy day, celebration is appropriate, but Jihadist terrorism is not dead. We are fighting a hydra, not a single snake. Some of those celebrating twenty-somethings might want to line up at a recruiting office. A beer and a cheer are easy. Parris Island, Ranger School or SEAL training is very tough.
- If the Jihadists are unable to launch retaliatory strikes, it will bode well for how the war Bush launched on Jihadist terrorists has gone.
- Hamas has condemned the raid. Maybe this will give Americans a better understanding of what Israel faces—and of Hamas-linked groups in the US, like CAIR.
- This may be the first thing since 2008 that Obama doesn’t blame on Bush. Will Obama have the class to give Bush some credit? It would be gracious and good politics, but infuriate the haters who make up his base.
- This will give Obama ten-point bump in the polls, but that will subside as economic reality grinds back on the public.
- But credit to the Obama administration for keeping the wraps on the secret until the raid was pulled off.
- Think of the lives that would have been saved had Clinton not choked on his chances to get bin Laden in the 1990s.
- Reports are that this was accomplished due to intelligence developed from interrogations of terrorists at Gitmo. Gee, suppose it had been closed back when every leftist, from Obama on down, in the blame-America-first crowd was calling for it to be shut down. Do you suppose they will now apologize to George Bush?
- It must pain Obama to hear the media referring to this as a victory in the “war on terror,” after all his efforts to not offend murderers by calling it a war. And to see Fox News, at least, playing the clip of Bush promising that we would get bin Laden.
- When did the media start spelling it “Usama” instead of “Osama”?
- There will be at least three books from members of the raiding team on the shelves in a month.
- There are tens of thousands of phonies claiming to have been SEALs in Vietnam, or in SOG on secret missions in North Vietnam, or to have the Medal of Honor and other awards they didn’t earn. In the future, thousands of phonies will claim they were on this raid.
The Osama File: Case Closed
Excerpt: Osama bin Laden was killed in Pakistan by Navy SEALs on Sunday and his remains were discarded at sea. The raid was conducted with little input from Pakistan. Osama's death marks a long-awaited triumph for the United States, but it came much too late and at a very high price. Michael Scheuer, former CIA chief of the team hunting Osama bin Laden, confirmed with great disdain that SpecOps had not one but two opportunities to kill Osama before 9/11, however with Osama in their sights, Bill Clinton pulled the plug on both those operations. Consequently, the 9/11 jihadis settled into U.S. suburbs under Clinton's watch. The success of this mission elevates the danger of terrorist attack on the continental U.S. because al-Qa'ida must now assert its relevance in the absence of its leader. Announcing Osama's death, Barack Obama claimed that in the aftermath of 9/11, "no matter what God we prayed to ... we were united as one American family." Horse pucky. There were many instances of Muslims within the U.S. expressing elation over Osama's attack. Even Obama's "pastor" Jeremiah "GD America" Wright claimed, "White America got a wake-up call after 9/11. White America ... came to realize that people of color had not gone away, faded into the woodwork or just disappeared as the great white West kept on its merry way of ignoring black concerns."
Osama Gets His Virgins
Excerpt: It is undoubtedly significant. Osama bin Laden was wildly popular in the Islamic world. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks Osama t-shirts, hats, and even dolls and action figures sold briskly in many Muslim countries, belying the mainstream media myth that 9/11 was the action of a tiny minority of extremists that had twisted and hijacked Islam, and were duly despised by the vast majority of Muslims. Polls all over the Islamic world always showed a healthy amount of support for bin Laden and, above all, respect for him as a pious mujahid. But in reality, while the death of bin Laden is fine news, and is certainly a psychological blow to the jihadis and a confidence-booster for Americans, it really won't change anything. The role of al-Qaeda in the global jihad, and the role of Osama bin Laden in al-Qaeda, have both been wildly overstated. Al-Qaeda is not the only Islamic jihad group or Islamic supremacist group operating today, and Osama bin Laden was not some charismatic leader whose movement will collapse without him.
A graphic picture of the dead bin Laden
And a nice little poem. ~Bob
The secret team that killed bin Laden
This article is very informative without giving anything substantial away to potential enemies. --Ron P. Excerpt: From Ghazi Air Base in Pakistan, the modified MH-60 helicopters made their way to the garrison suburb of Abbottabad, about 30 miles from the center of Islamabad. Aboard were Navy SEALs, flown across the border from Afghanistan, along with tactical signals, intelligence collectors, and navigators using highly classified hyperspectral imagers. After bursts of fire over 40 minutes, 22 people were killed or captured. One of the dead was Osama bin Laden, done in by a double tap -- boom, boom -- to the left side of his face. His body was aboard the choppers that made the trip back. One had experienced mechanical failure and was destroyed by U.S. forces, military and White House officials tell National Journal.
Man unknowingly liveblogs Bin Laden operation
Excerpt: A computer programmer, startled by a helicopter clattering above his quiet Pakistani town in the early hours of the morning Monday, did what any social-media addict would do: he began sending messages to the social networking site Twitter. With his tweets, 33-year-old Sohaib Athar, who moved to the sleepy town of Abbottabad to escape the big city, became in his own words “the guy who liveblogged the Osama raid without knowing it.”
Bin Laden raid was culmination of years of work, senior administration officials say
Excerpt: “When we saw the compound where the brothers lived, we were shocked by what we saw,” a senior administration official said. The compound was eight times larger than any other home in the area. It was surrounded by walls measuring 12 feet to 18 feet that were topped with barbed wire. There were additional inner walls that sectioned off parts of the compound and entry was restricted by two security gates. And the residents burned their trash instead of leaving it outside for pickup. There was a three-story house on the site, with a 7-foot privacy wall on the top floor. While the two brothers, the couriers, had no known source of income, the compound was built in 2005 and valued at $1 million. That led intelligence officials to conclude that it must have been built to hold a high-value member of Al Qaeda.
Al-Qaeda threat more diffuse but persistent
Excerpt: The killing of Osama bin Laden marks the culmination of a counterterrorism campaign that made decapitating the al-Qaeda network its paramount goal. But al-Qaeda has metastasized in the decade since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, expanding its reach and adapting its tactics in ways that make the organization likely to remain the most significant security threat to the United States despite its leader’s demise. In recent months, the nation’s top intelligence officials have testified that al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen probably poses the most immediate threat to U.S. interests, and has been tied to a series of near-miss attacks, including the attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound plane on Christmas Day 2009. One of the leaders of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, as the Yemen-based offshoot is known, is an American-born cleric, Anwar al-Aulaqi, who might stake claim to at least part of bin Laden’s mantle as a charismatic figure committed to attacks against the United States and the West.
Killing bin Laden unlikely to kill the worldwide terrorist movement he inspired
Excerpt: U.S. intelligence officials believe al-Qaida will have a hard time recovering from the death of its murderous leader, Osama bin Laden. After all, his heir apparent, Ayman al-Zawahri, is a harsh, divisive figure who lacks the charisma and mystique that bin Laden used to hold together al-Qaida’s various factions. Without bin Laden’s iconic figure running al-Qaida, intelligence officials believe the group could splinter and weaken. But if there is one thing al-Qaida has proved it is able to do, it is adapt to adversity. Its foot soldiers learned to stay off their cellphones to avoid U.S. wiretaps. Their technical wizards cooked up cutting edge encryption software that flummoxed American code-breakers. And a would-be bomber managed to defeat billions of dollars in airline security upgrades with explosives tucked in his underwear.
Killing Bin Laden
Excerpt: Despite this great success, in the near to medium term I expect little change. Since shortly after 9/11, Osama has been little more than a figurehead. Even prior to 9/11 his only real value to the movement was as a source of funds. When those funds dried up so did most of his authority to command. Moreover, since 9/11, the U.S. military has done an outstanding job in tearing the original al-Qaeda to shreds. Osama truly represents the last of al-Qaeda’s old guard. The rest are dead or being held at Gitmo. Surely, there is value in killing such an important inspiration to the Islamic-fascist movement. At the very least, jihadi morale will plummet — for a time. Unfortunately, the new al-Qaeda does not need bin Laden to continue operations. Long ago, al-Qaeda shifted to a decentralized organizational structure capable of attacking American and other Western interests without any guidance from the top. Thankfully, American military and intelligence agencies continue to pursue these scattered organizations with utmost ferocity. These ongoing American military operations are what keep us safe. The war against Islamic fascism is far from over. Winning it will require relentless pursuit of our nation’s enemies in a brutal war that is often fought in the shadows.
A Different Kind of Justice
Excerpt: I argued in The Weekly Standard at the time (“The Sudan Connection: The Missing Link in U.S. Terrorism Policy”) that “justice” for bin Laden and the global jihad backed by several rogue nations — Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Sudan, for starters — was to regard them as a national-security challenge crying out for a military response. They were manifestly not a crime problem to be managed by FBI agents and prosecutors like me. Yet, prosecution of crime rather than war had been the Clinton-administration counterterrorism strategy, beginning with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. It was maintained through a plot to bomb New York City landmarks later that year and a conspiracy to blow U.S. airliners out of the sky over the Pacific thereafter. The law-enforcement approach was even reaffirmed after jihadists killed 19 U.S. airmen in the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia — an attack the Clinton administration soon learned Iran had orchestrated, the mullahs and their forward militia, Hezbollah, having had cooperative relations with al-Qaeda since the early nineties.
Excerpt: Killing Osama bin Laden definitively affirmed the power and determination of America. It is a severe blow against all Islamists and a clear victory for the C.I.A and the U.S. military. As a result, nations across the globe will be more willing to cooperate with American national-security operatives. That OBL was hiding in plain sight next to a Pakistani military academy demonstrates the complicity of the Pakistani government. An embarrassed Islamabad will scramble to excuse its hypocrisy. This allows the U.S. military, if the White House seizes the moment, to step up attacks against other terrorists inside Pakistan, especially along the Afghan border.
Excerpt: Personally, I would have liked bin Laden’s death to have been announced by whatever lowest-level official was manning the night desk at the Department of Nondescript Bureaucrats, preferably reading it off the back of an envelope. But, if you’re going to put the head of state on TV to announce it himself, it would have been better to have been all brisk and businesslike – “At 0800 hours American military assets entered an address at 27b Jihadist Gardens, etc” – and finish off with a bit of Churchillian sober uplift about it not being the end or the beginning of the end but maybe the end of the beginning. Instead, as Stephen Hunter, the novelist and Washington Post film critic, writes: Any joy one might feel in the intelligence of our analysts and the bravery of our door kickers was significantly diminished by Obama’s malignant narcissism. The first part of the announcement, evoking 9/11, was vulgarly overwritten as per Obama’s view of himself as some kind of gifted orator. The adjective bloated compote was unworthy of the subject, banal and self-indulgent.
Extremist Reactions to bin Laden Death
Excerpt: In the hours after the official announcement of Osama bin Laden's death, jihadi forums and extremist websites have been flooded with a mix of responses. Although some jihadists have welcomed the martyrdom of one of their greatest leaders, others have condemned America or appear to be in damage control mode. As noted earlier, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh denounced the "assassination of the Al Qeda [sic] spiritual leader Sheikh Osama Bin Laden," using honorific terms for a story on the group's English-language website, qassam.ps. The Muslim Brotherhood issued contradictory statements, with a somewhat conciliatory note in English and a condemnation of the strike in Arabic. "With Bin Laden's death, one of the reasons for which violence has been practised in the world has been removed," Essam al-Erian, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood's governing body, told Reuters. "It is time for Obama to pull out of Afghanistan and Iraq and end the occupation of U.S. and Western forces around the world that have for so long harmed Muslim countries," he said.
If History Is Guide, Bin Laden Killing May Not Boost Obama
Excerpt: Strategically, Cordesman said, bin Laden’s death “might have been a decisive blow in 2001 or 2002” but “may have far less effect today” on al-Qaida’s ability to attack targets. He said nobody today can possibly know how the killing of bin Laden will play with potential terrorists or in Pakistan. “We need to be very careful about what bin Laden’s death will mean for relations with Pakistan and for the war in Afghanistan,” he said. Far from helping Obama politically, the latest development could increase the pressure on him to get American troops out of Afghanistan. It will, said Cordesman, “raise new questions about whether the Afghan war can really put an end to al-Qaida and other terrorist sanctuaries and lead some of those who oppose the war to state that the U.S. and its allies should now withdraw.”
Five troubling facts about the death of bin Laden
Excerpt: Three, not only did Obama fail to make a statement concerning the most important element arising out of bin Laden's death, but he flagrantly snubbed former President George W. Bush and took credit for bin Laden's death himself. None of what took place in Pakistan would have been possible were it not for the groundwork laid by Bush and the U.S. military. And it is no small fact that when the U.S. began the 'war on terror' after 9/11, one Senator Barack Obama opposed it every step of the way. Yet now he presumes to take credit for the operation. Such a display was no doubt one of the most embarrassing moments in American history, not to mention that it once again placed the Obama arrogance on center stage. Four, Obama claimed that he had made it a priority of his Presidency to get Usama bin Laden, as if this were not a priority before his ascension to the White House. In fact, the top priority of the Bush Administration was to get bin Laden. But Obama worded the statement in such as way as to imply that such a priority was made only when he took the Oval Office. Such a statement is a blatant untruth.
How much credit does Obama get for bin Laden’s reported death?
Excerpt: The president’s statement was notably spare on details, but he clearly thinks he should get a lot of credit. He noted that bin Laden had “avoided capture” for many years and emphasized that “shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al-Qaeda, even as we continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat his network.” Then follow a lot of other “I” sentences. “I was briefed….I met repeatedly…I determined…today, at my direction, the United States launched…” Former President George W. Bush is not mentioned until Obama noted that he had made clear this was not a war against Islam. However, in a later background briefing for reporters, officials said that four years ago the identity was determined of the courier who ultimately led to bin Laden. That would place a key moment in the search back in the Bush administration. Officials also said that “about two years ago” U.S. intelligence discovered the areas in Pakistan where he operated. That sounds as if it happened during Obama’s presidency but the timing is vague enough that it could have overlapped with Bush’s. Other key events, such as the discovery of bin Laden’s compound and the decision to attack it, took place during Obama’s presidency.
Rewind: In Bush Years, Killing of Iraqi al-Qaeda Leader Zarqawi Greeted by Media Scowls
Excerpt: While the killing of Osama bin Laden is a moment for all patriotic Americans to show pride, it's not hard to guess that the media's reception of the news would have been less positive if it had occurred in the Bush years -- and imagine if it had happened at a politically sensitive time (right before the 2006 midterms, or anywhere in the 2008 presidential cycle). In our 2006 Special Report on cable news coverage of Iraq, we laid out how the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of al-Qaeda in Iraq, was celebrated on Fox News, but CNN and MSNBC went looking for ways to keep up the negative tone even with the most positive news: Over on CNN that same day, while the anchors and reporters generally heralded the successful strike on Zarqawi as good news, the network introduced some decidedly pessimistic themes. Afternoon anchor Kyra Phillips brought aboard journalist and author Nir Rosen, and asked him whether he thought Zarqawi’s death would make much of a difference: "From what I understand, you think we’re going a bit overboard with this coverage and he’s not as big a fish as everyone is making him out to be?" Rosen agreed, then launched into a deeply pessimistic analysis after Phillips asked him about the formation of the new government:
Crowds cheer Marines; chant Marines' Hymn as they celebrate news of Bin Laden's death
Excerpt: Several young people carried the United States Marine flag proudly and climbed a tree outside the White House to celebrate the news of Osama Bin Laden's death. Upon seeing the flag, the crowd joined in singing the Marine's Hymn.
Scott Brown going to Afghanistan
Excerpt: Massachusetts Republican Sen. Scott Brown made a surprising announcement today: He’s going to Afghanistan as part of his service as a lieutenant colonel in the Massachusetts Army National Guard. He requested to do his annual two weeks of training there. “Following in the tradition of other lawmakers who have completed their military service requirements overseas, this year I have requested to conduct my annual training in Afghanistan,” he said in a statement. “Doing so will help me to better understand our ongoing mission in that country, and provide me first-hand experience for my duties on the Senate Armed Services, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs committees.”
Salman Rushdie: Pakistan's Deadly Game
Excerpt: This time the facts speak too loudly to be hushed up. Osama bin Laden, the world’s most wanted man, was found living at the end of a dirt road 800 yards from the Abbottabad military academy, Pakistan’s equivalent of West Point or Sandhurst, in a military cantonment where soldiers are on every street corner, just about 80 miles from the Pakistani capital Islamabad. This extremely large house had neither a telephone nor an Internet connection. And in spite of this we are supposed to believe that Pakistan didn’t know he was there, and that the Pakistani intelligence, and/or military, and/or civilian authorities did nothing to facilitate his presence in Abbottabad, while he ran al Qaeda, with couriers coming and going, for five years? Pakistan’s neighbor India, badly wounded by the November 26, 2008, terrorist attacks on Mumbai, is already demanding answers. As far as the anti-Indian jihadist groups are concerned—Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad—Pakistan’s support for such groups, its willingness to provide them with safe havens, its encouragement of such groups as a means of waging a proxy war in Kashmir and, of course, in Mumbai—is established beyond all argument. In recent years these groups have been reaching out to the so-called Pakistani Taliban to form new networks of violence, and it is worth noting that the first threats of retaliation for bin Laden’s death have been made by the Pakistani Taliban, not by any al Qaeda spokesman.
Ohio is spending $1.4 billion to attract jobs. Will it work?
Other states will be forced to spend billions to keep jobs. In the end, taxpayers will be out billions, and the national economy will be the same. ~Bob. Excerpt: Ohio has launched what appears to be the biggest intervention in the private economy by a state government since at least the Great Depression, according to a USA TODAY review of historical data. The state is preparing new industrial parks and high-tech office buildings, loaning money and giving grants to businesses, and subsidizing clean energy, websites, nanotechnology and warehouses, among other things.
The state will spend $1.4 billion on economic development this year. Indiana, by contrast, will spend $37 million; Florida $11 million. California has 25 people working full-time on economic development. Ohio: more than 400.
The Cost of the College Bubble
Excerpt: Enrollment in higher education has risen so much over the past generation that roughly 70 percent of all high school graduates now enroll in some sort of college. Costs are also on the rise, according to the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.
From 1990 to 2010 college tuition and fees in the United States increased more than 286 percent. According to the College Board, the average cost of one year of college -- including tuition, fees, room and board, books, supplies and transportation -- is nearly $40,000 at private four-year universities and $19,388 for in-state students at public four-year universities. In fact, tuition has increased at a far greater rate than housing did before the bursting of the real estate bubble in 2006. However, because colleges provide financial aid and discount tuition for many students, looking at raw tuition and fees isn't enough. Beginning in 2010, higher education institutions that participate in the federal student aid programs are required to provide new data that can be used to calculate their "net price" of attendance (after tuition discounts and aid). Going forward, this data will be useful to gauge the true scope of tuition increases. In the meantime, though, there is evidence that students are beginning to feel the effects of escalating tuition. According to the Project on Student Debt, in 2009, average debt levels for graduating seniors with student loans rose to $24,000 -- a 6 percent increase from $23,200 in 2008. The Department of Education released new data this year, which show that 13.8 percent of student loan borrowers who entered repayment in 2008 defaulted on their loans within three years of entering repayment -- about 467,000 students. Moreover, the overall student loan default rate is on rise; the rate in the 2008 fiscal year, the latest period for which data is available, was 7 percent, up from 6.7 percent the year before and 5.2 percent in the 2006 fiscal year.
Excerpt: Supporters of ObamaCare acknowledge it will have some unintended consequences. Yet surprisingly little attention has been focused on the law's most problematic provision: government subsidies to help individuals and families purchase health insurance. This new entitlement—which the chief actuary of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services estimates will cost more than $100 billion per year once it is fully implemented—will damage the country's long-term fiscal outlook. It also will introduce far-reaching negative effects on rewards to work and bizarre new inequities into American life. The health law establishes insurance exchanges—regulated marketplaces in which individuals and small businesses can shop for coverage—and minimum standards for the insurance policies that can be offered. Because the policies will be so costly, there's a subsidy for buyers that phases out as family income rises. This sounds reasonable—but the subsidies required to make a "qualifying" insurance policy affordable are so large that their phaseout creates chaos. Starting in 2014, subsidies will be available to families with incomes between 134% and 400% of the federal poverty line. (Families earning less than 134% of poverty are eligible for Medicaid.) For example, a family of four headed by a 55-year-old earning $31,389 in 2014 dollars (134% of the federal poverty line) in a high-cost area will get a subsidy of $22,740. This will cover 96% of an insurance policy that the Kaiser Family Foundation predicts will cost $23,700. A similar family earning $93,699 (400% of poverty) gets a subsidy of $14,799. But a family earning $1 more—$93,700—gets no subsidy. Economists call large, discontinuous changes in program benefits like this "notches." Although notches might be administratively convenient, they have terrible incentive effects.
Are Speculators Gouging Us At The Pump?: They aren't, so put away the torches and pitchforks.
Excerpt; With gasoline selling at around $4 per gallon, the political hunt is on to track down the ne're-do-wells responsible. The primary suspects seem to be Wall Street speculators who, we're told, are gaming the crude oil futures market to create price increases out of thin air. It is a tale, however, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying ignorance. The only way to intelligently navigate this discussion is to know a bit about how futures markets work. The least you need to know is that in futures markets one buys the right to purchase oil at a future date at a specific price from someone who is selling that guarantee. Most futures contracts are for one to three months in advance but are settled daily after purchase. For example, assume that we buy a futures contract from you today for 1,000 barrels of oil maturing in August 2011 at $100 per barrel. If tomorrow the same August 2011 contract settles in the market at a price of $100.40, you will owe me $400. If the day after that, August 2011 oil settles at $99.60, I will owe you $400.
Shortages of key drugs endanger patients
Get used to headlines like this. The more the government gets involved in healthcare, the more screwed up it will get. ~Bob. Excerpt: Doctors, hospitals and federal regulators are struggling to cope with an unprecedented surge in drug shortages in the United States that is endangering cancer patients, heart attack victims, accident survivors and a host of other ill people. A record 211 medications became scarce in 2010 — triple the number in 2006 — and at least 89 new shortages have been recorded through the end of March, putting the nation on track for far more scarcities. The paucities are forcing some medical centers to ration drugs — including one urgently needed by leukemia patients — postpone surgeries and other care, and scramble for substitutes, often resorting to alternatives that may be less effective, have more side effects and boost the risk for overdoses and other sometimes-fatal errors.
Government Action Against Boeing Seen As Attempt to Reward Politically Favored Groups
Excerpt: Federal labor regulators are trying to reward political allies with the formal complaint against Boeing Co. over building a non-union plant in South Carolina to construct planes, U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue said. “We will do everything in our power to oppose the National Labor Relations Board attempt to prevent Boeing from building their new 787 at its nearly completed plant in South Carolina, and forcing them to build the plane in Washington state,” Donohue said Wednesday at a U.S. Chamber summit on the future of aviation.
Working Up a Tax Storm
Excerpt: Tim Storm, an Illinois businessman until a few weeks ago, is now a Wisconsin businessman. Herewith a story about how states can reduce revenues by trying to increase them, and about the economic benefits of federalism. Storm, 42, is founder and CEO of FatWallet.com. The company, until recently one of about 9,000 Illinois "affiliates" of Amazon.com, directs online shoppers to online retailers, which often pay affiliates commissions for referrals that result in sales. Storm's company, which has 54 employees, used to be located in Rockton, Ill., but now is five miles up the road in Beloit, Wis. One reason online sales are brisk is that the retailers are not required to collect state sales taxes. In 1992, the U.S. Supreme Court held that such taxes must be collected only by companies that have a "substantial nexus" -- basically, a brick-and-mortar presence -- in the state. Under this rule, Amazon collects sales taxes in only five states. Illinois, comprehensively misgoverned and ravenous for revenues, has enacted what has come to be called an "Amazon tax." It requires Amazon and other online retailers to collect the state's sales tax. Amazon and many other retailers responded by severing their connections with their Illinois affiliates. Storm responded by relocating in Beloit.
The Death Penalty Does Not Deter Liberals
Excerpt: Liberals are compassionate people. That’s why they support abortion and oppose the death penalty. They figure it’s best to kill a majority of black children before they are born. If they did not, a small minority of those black children would later commit homicide. Liberals are not just compassionate people. They’re logical, too. Because of their undying commitment to expanding abortion rights I always welcome moral advice from liberals. That’s why I was nearly moved to tears after I read a new report from Appalachian State University Professor Dr. Matthew Robinson. His “scientific” report asserts that the death penalty system in North Carolina costs millions of dollars a year and does not make our state safer. What Professor Robinson does not report is that the abolitionist movement is the sole reason for the higher-than-expected expense and lower-than-expected deterrent value of capital punishment.
Why We Still Need the Marines
Excerpt: Their unique combination of sea, land and air capabilities makes them an indispensable rapid response force. In Washington these days, the Defense Department is looking to cut its budget and the Marine Corps especially is reviewing its future role. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has spoken of "anxiety" that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have turned the Corps into a "second land army," and he has cancelled major Marine weapons systems, such as the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle. No institution is sacrosanct, so it's worth asking: Why should we maintain the Marine Corps in the future. The utility of any institution must be balanced against the opportunity cost of maintaining it. In arguing against maintaining a Marine Corps in the future, one must prove either that what the Marines do isn't necessary, or that it is necessary but that another organization can do it more efficiently and effectively. In 1954, the political scientist Samuel Huntington argued that each service was built around a "strategic concept"—"the fundamental element of [a] service . . . its role or purpose in implementing national policy." A service's strategic concept answers the "ultimate question: What function do you perform which obligates society to assume responsibility for your maintenance? The current Marine Corps strategic concept envisions an expeditionary force in readiness capable of responding rapidly to the full range of crises and contingencies, primarily but not exclusively from the sea, with integrated and balanced air, ground and logistics teams. To this end, the Marines provide a responsive and scalable "middleweight" force that is light enough to get to where it is needed quickly but heavy enough—and with sufficient logistics support—to prevail against an adversary upon arrival.
Canada's Capitalism Referendum
Excerpt: Canadians will go to the polls today in the country's fourth federal election in seven years. With a price tag of $CD300 million ($315 million), it is an election that few Canadians wanted and that is likely to leave the government looking very much like it did before the opposition brought down the government with a no-confidence vote on March 25. Still, it is a crucial moment for the country. In the past decade Canada has been gradually moving toward a more flexible, liberal economy as its citizens have sought to protect their living standards in an environment of global competition. Today is about whether this modernization continues. It is, in effect, a referendum on limited government. During most of the campaign, Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper—who has been running a minority government since 2006—was expected to win a parliamentary majority today. Now pollsters are less sure. Last week the far-left New Democratic Party suddenly surged in the polls, threatening not only to crush the more moderate-left Liberal Party but also to close in on the Conservatives. On the eve of the election, there is as much talk of a left-wing coalition coming out of today's vote as there is another minority Conservative government.
Bloomberg: U.S. Should Make All New Immigrants Live in Detroit
Dear God, talk about "cruel and unusual punishment"! This should discourage immigrants! ~Bob. Excerpt: Detroit needs residents. Immigrants want to live in America. Michael Bloomberg says he's got a simple solution for both needs -- send all new immigrants to Detroit. In a novel approach to immigration reform, the New York City mayor said Sunday that if he could have his way, he'd use the immigrant workforce to jump-start the Motor City's economy by requiring Detroit residency.
It’s Not ‘Leading From Behind’; It’s ‘Leading WITH the Behind’
Excerpt: With rare exceptions, his foreign policy speeches have been quite consistent: he viscerally sides with our revilers, believing that America lacks standing to take the lead on the crucial issues of our time. Rejecting, as he does, the very idea that America represents something uniquely praiseworthy in the modern world, he is not trying to advance either our interests or our values as most Americans understand them, but instead apologizes for previous presidents who did that. That’s what leading with your behind is all about. (…) Thus, the refusal to support the enemies of Iran’s evil anti-American regime. Thus, the dithering on Mubarak. Thus, the dithering about Qadaffi, followed by a brief spasm of indecisive activity, followed by a proud announcement that “we’re done, let the others handle it.” Thus, the pathetic pretense of sanctions on Syria, Iran’s Siamese twin and co-conspirator in the mass murder of Americans in Iraq.
Bin Laden Still Dead
Now the conspiracy theories are starting, since Bin Laden was buried at sea. If the U.S. releases visual evidence of his corpse, the usual conspiracy freaks will say it’s fake. Look out, Truthers and Birthers. It’s time for the Bearders.
Typo: MSNBC correspondent accidentally reports on Twitter that 'Obama' killed
Could have been riots. ~Bob. Excerpt: In an attempt to release the news of Osama bin Laden’s death quickly late Sunday night, MSNBC correspondent Norah O’Donnell accidentally reported on Twitter that “Obama” had been “killed” instead. “Obama shot and killed,” Norah O’Donnell posted on Twitter, citing NBC Chief Pentagon Correspondent Jim Miklaszewski as her source.
OK, Let’s Decline
Excerpt: A recent report in The New Yorker suggested that the Obama’s administration’s weird sort of/sort of not foreign policy is now gleefully self-described as “leading from behind.” Not exercising leadership is a reflection, the article suggests, of Obama’s view that the U.S. is both disliked and in decline. (…) Does “decline” mean inevitable collapse, like an aging person whose mind and body have become enfeebled? That was certainly the view of the ancients, who felt civilizations had finite life-spans (see Jacqueline de Romilly’s The Rise and Fall of States According to Greek Authors.) Do environmental catastrophes, resource depletion, or foreign armies end societies? They can, as the complex pyramidal societies from the Minoans and Mycenaeans to the Mayans and Aztecs learned. All that said, decline is far more often a choice, not a preordained destiny.
Our Kind of Class Warfare
Excerpt: There are, of course, millionaires and billionaires who are leeches on society, who bleed our GDP and contribute nothing to the commonweal. There was, for instance, a bright young man who worked all the scholarship angles so that wealthy donors (with their tax-dodging charitable contributions) paid his way through fancy schools. He embarked on an urban scam called “community organizing.” Then he obtained a large sum for writing a book about his life and accomplishments at age 34 when he didn’t have any accomplishments and hadn’t led much life. He wormed his way into politics with all its perks and benefits. And now his big house, his stretch limousine, and his luxury jet are paid for out of the public treasury. But a fellow like that is an exception. Most rich people provide some value to mankind—goods, services, or, at worst, fishy investments to make us temporarily feel like we’re rich too.
Preparing for Ranarok
Excerpt: All nations around the world try to maintain their ethnicity. Only in white majority Western countries do the authorities wage a deliberate demographic and cultural war against the majority population. This is evil, and Europeans have every right to defend themselves against evil policies. Whites have shown the ability to create societies and social systems that transcend the narrow confines of clan, tribe and ethnic nepotism. This is in many ways a great character trait, but it can also be our Achilles’ heel if it is weaponized and turned against us. We must recognize that we are unusual, and that our values are far from universally shared. White Westerners have given other peoples, including actively hostile tribes, the tools needed to multiply beyond their native capacity, the transportation needed to travel to our countries, the human rights legislation needed to settle here and the welfare states needed to exploit us. (I have learned this in Los Angeles. - Kate)
When You're Holding a Hammer (Everything Looks Like a Nail)
good song. from the e-mail, not verified: Tennessee middle school assistant football coach, age 26, fired for a song he wrote and played!!! When you go to the link for the song, there are a couple of sites that give the news on the firing. This could be the next number one hit country song. It's the best effort yet at encapsulating the outrage at the oversteps of this government in an entertaining song .. Apparently the guy was fired over the song because some parents complained. Shameful if it's true. If you like it, help it go "viral" by passing it along to everyone you know.
Geert Wilders: Stop this Charade!
Excerpt: For almost seven years now, I have not been a free man. I lost my freedom in 2004. I live as a prisoner with guards without you having convicted me. Without protection I am even less certain of my life than I am now. Mister President, you would not use the words “free man” if you could change places with me for one week. Mister President, members of the court, I am here as a suspect again today. I have said so before: This penal case is a political trial. An attempt is being made here to silence a politician who speaks on behalf of one and a half million people and who already pays a heavy price for that every single day. Formally, only I stand on trial here, but in practice the freedom of speech of millions of Dutchmen is on trial. This trial is not merely a political trial. It is also an unjust trial.. When you look at the order of the court (to prosecute me) it is clear that the verdict has already been passed.
Robert A. Hall