Monday, May 9, 2011


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.

For those who want further information about the topics covered in this blog, I recommend the following sites. I will add to this as I find additional good sources.

Here’s a woman of courage. She’s black and teaches in New York City. ~Bob. Excerpt: As I sat in my parked car this afternoon, I heard someone behind me. She was reading my bumper sticker, the one that I designed. I heard her voice: "Pro-GOD, Pro-LIFE, Pro-FAMILY, Pro-COUNTRY, Pro-PALIN 2012." Her reading was followed by a bit of a grunt. I figured whoever it was didn't realize someone was sitting in the car, so I decided to reveal myself.

Rift in Iranian Leadership Spreads to the Streets of Tehran
Excerpt: In the increasing tension between Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, supporters of each faction, who have been drawing lines in the sand for the past few days claiming that there will be blood, took their disputes to the streets of Tehran. According to reports from Iran, serious clashes between the rank and file supporters of Khamenei and the supporters of Ahmadinejad erupted on Saturday. Many were severely injured with clubs and machetes. The clashes are said to have been so fierce that the security guards did not intervene and stood aside, watching the brawl. (Perhaps it’s all in the perspective. Khamenei is “more” hardline, Ahmadinejad is considered “more” moderate? Is this like the purely academic difference between broiling and roasting? Ron P.)

Iran’s Leader Orders Murder of Protesters in Syria
Excerpt: An official source within the Sadr movement, the Iraqi Islamist national movement led by Muqtada al-Sadr, is insisting that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei of Iran has declared the protesters in Syria to be “God’s enemies,” ordering the Revolutionary Guards and Lebanese Hezbollah to fiercely combat the protesters in Syria and enter into an armed battle with them. (…) During recent months, Arab countries have complained repeatedly of Iran’s meddling in their internal matters. Mahmoud Abbas, the head of the Palestinian Authority, has also repeatedly called for a boycott of the gatherings held by the Iranian regime, which he has described as a method of deceiving the public both in Iran and the Islamic world. (This is okay. Obama will only bomb you if you are murdering your own people. ~Bob.)

Now Muslim Extremists Target Prince Harry: Outrage after extremists post chilling online hate video
Excerpt: An extremist group is believed to be targeting Prince Harry after a propaganda hate video has come to light following the assassination of Osama Bin Laden. The 26-year-old, third in line to the throne, is the subject of a three-minute video posted last week by an organisation calling itself Muslims Against Crusades. It is believed that Harry is being targeted to avenge the death of the Al Qaeda leader, who was shot by American commandos last Sunday, as six years ago he dressed as a Nazi and has served the British Army in Afghanistan.

The Real Problem is 'Global Governance'
Excerpt: Up until now this has been just a minor disagreement between most Germans on the one hand and most Americans on the other. Given the irrelevance of what we are talking about, it is all the more dismaying that Mr. Auster seizes this opportunity to trigger an avalanche of hate and prejudice against Germany, beginning with: "And by the way, why are we keeping 50,000 U.S. troops, at a cost of billions a year, in that dead land? For what purpose, other than feeding their economy, which happens to be the largest in Europe?" Well, they are not here to protect Germany from invasions. Indeed, we are being invaded, as any European nation is, but the U.S. is the last country who would like to protect us from that — we will pick up this point below. The U.S. has bases in Germany because U.S. forces in the Middle East are supplied from here (and kidnapped persons are distributed from here to secret CIA jails around the globe).

In Finding Bin Laden, CIA Soars from Distress to Success
Excerpt: The first CIA officers who rushed to Afghanistan to find Osama bin Laden after the terrorist attacks of 2001 had to buy field gear at an REI camping goods store in Virginia. Some flew in on rickety, former Soviet helicopters. A few rode horses. What a difference a decade makes. Thanks to U.S. intelligence, the Navy SEALs who killed Bin Laden last Monday swept into Pakistan on nearly silent, secret stealth helicopters. The assault team had practiced in Afghanistan on a full-scale mock-up of the maze-like compound.

Philippine City Holds Mass Circumcision for Youths
Excerpt: Hundreds of boys in a Philippine city turned today for a daylong "circumcision party" to provide a safe, free procedure for a rite of passage that most local males undergo as preteens.
Some boys cried in their mothers' arms while others bit their shirts to stifle sobs as doctors carried out the surgery on dozens of makeshift operating tables inside a sports stadium in Marikina city east of Manila. Outside, other boys lined up to await their turn.

Obama’s Attack on Private Industry
Excerpt: You might think that a U.S. company’s decision to expand its manufacturing facilities and create 1,000 new jobs here at home — rather than overseas — would be hailed by the Obama Administration as a step in the right direction, especially with nine percent unemployment. You’d be wrong. Instead, President Barack Obama’s National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is doing all it can to throw a wrench in the machinery of private industry. The story begins with Boeing Corporation’s decision to build a new assembly plant in Charleston, South Carolina, in order to produce the 787 Dreamliner, the company’s fastest selling airliner. (To date, Boeing has 800 planes on order.) The NLRB, which is charged with remedying unfair labor practices, got wind of the decision and last month filed a complaint against Boeing, alleging that the company decided to build the plant in South Carolina out of retaliation for union strikes at its Washington state facilities.

Unilateral Information Disarmament
Excerpt: Could Osama have been found under Obama's rules? In the end, the courier did him in. With enough friends in Pakistan, Osama bin Laden managed to hide out for years in a million-dollar estate. But terrorists can't function without information and communications. When U.S. intelligence managed to track his courier, they got bin Laden. The conclusion of the decade-long manhunt is a reminder that the war on terror is an arms race for information. Terrorists must keep their plans, weapons and sleeper cells secret. Prevention requires knowing about plans before they are carried out. But even as we celebrate the end of bin Laden, the account of how the information was gathered to find him is troubling. This is because under restrictive rules of intelligence-gathering put in place in 2009, many of the interrogations that eventually led to bin Laden would have been prohibited. The information gleaned would still be unknown.

APNewsBreak: Spokesman says Newt Gingrich to announce 2012 presidential bid Wed. on Facebook, Twitter
I think he’d make the best president of the four “top tier” candidates. But I fear he has too much baggage to get there. ~Bob. Excerpt: A spokesman for Newt Gingrich says the former House speaker will announce Wednesday he is running for president. Rick Tyler said Gingrich will make the announcement by Facebook and Twitter. He will give an interview to Fox News later that night. Gingrich will offer his first speech as a presidential candidate at the Georgia Republican Party Convention on Friday.

The US now has the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world, and the Democrats want to raise it higher. Does that not have something to do with “shipping jobs overseas”? ~Bob. Excerpt: The headline is a quotation from Benjamin Franklin, who added, “Even seemingly the most disadvantageous.” Franklin believed that free trade was good for everybody. In the 21st century lots of Americans and their politicians believe the opposite: Being open to trade allows rapacious corporations to “ship jobs overseas.” In the 2010 mid-term elections, the Democratic National Committee rolled out a television ad campaign accusing various Republican candidates of favoring policies that shipped jobs overseas. More recently, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) declared, “I think we should do a lot more to stop shipping jobs overseas.” In the meantime, the Doha Round of international trade negotiations has been on the brink of collapse for a while, sparking fears the freer trade system painstakingly built over the last 50 years might begin to unravel.

Cheney: Justice Probe of CIA Interrogators an 'Outrage'
Thanks for helping us get bin Laden and a 6 point bump in the polls. Your reward is to go to jail. ~Bob. Excerpt: Former Vice President Dick Cheney said Sunday it's an "outrage" the Obama administration continues to investigate CIA agents who interrogated terror suspects, claiming they did nothing wrong and expressing concern about the precedent it sets. Cheney weighed in on the probe after several Republicans and other ex-officials have renewed their call for the Justice Department to drop the investigation -- launched nearly two years ago by Attorney General Eric Holder -- in light of the killing of Usama bin Laden.

Bin Laden Invested Millions in Company That Makes 3-oz. Bottles of Liquids and Gels
Too funny. ~Bob. Excerpt: In a shocking revelation gleaned from computers seized in his compound in Pakistan, Osama bin Laden spent millions of dollars investing in a company that makes 3-ounce bottles of liquid and gels. According to CIA director Leon Panetta, Mr. bin Laden’s fervor for investing in the tiny bottle company, Trav-L-Size Inc., may have dwarfed his passion for jihad. “We haven’t found anything in the computers that indicate Osama bin Laden wanted to rule the world,” Mr. Panetta said. “However, it is clear that he wanted to corner the market in 3-ounce bottles.”

Dodd-Frank and Housing Finance Reform: A Cure That's Worse Than the Disease
Excerpt: With the publication in early April of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPR) on the risk-retention requirement of the Dodd-Frank Act (DFA), we are beginning to see the outlines of the housing finance system the act envisions. If this proposed rule is adopted substantially as written, and there are no changes in the other provisions the act has added to the laws governing mortgage lending, the housing finance system of the future will place immense financial risks and regulatory costs on mortgage originators and securitizers, fail to prevent the growth of subprime and other low-quality lending, virtually ensure the continued existence of the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, impair the development of a robust -private-sector housing finance system in the United States, and provide insurmountable advantages for the largest banks in the limited private securitization system that might exist. These adverse consequences cannot be corrected through regulatory action, so the housing finance system envisioned by the DFA should be replaced by an AEI plan that would define prime mortgages by statute.

From here to 2012: Beyond the bounce from bin Laden
Excerpt: The killing of Osama bin Laden ignited President Obama’s voter approval ratings, but that doesn’t guarantee his reelection in 2012. Barring an unforeseen but high-profile foreign-policy failure, the elimination of America’s Public Enemy No. 1 will neutralize any Republican suggestion that the president is weak on national security. But this only underscores the fact that 2012 will be all about the economy and jobs — and there, the president is deeply vulnerable. The private sector added an impressive 268,000 jobs in April, but the jobless rate increased from 8.8 percent to 9 percent. No sitting president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt has won reelection with unemployment as high as 8 percent. (Obama’s problem is that the green, anti-trade, anti-business programs cherished by his statist base are likely to increase unemployment. ~Bob.)

Mitch Daniels: The man who could reshape the Republican field
Excerpt: Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels continues to keep the political world waiting, saying recently that he will announce “within weeks” whether he will run for president in 2012. The Republican’s decision — which could come as soon as Thursday at the Indiana Republican Party’s spring dinner, where his wife, Cheri, will be the keynote speaker — could have an impact well beyond just one man saying yes or no, however. The GOP presidential race has been defined by relative chaos — and weakness — among the field.

Obama’s national security team was sharply divided over Osama bin Laden raid
Excerpt: “At the end of the day, this was still a 55-45 situation,” Obama told CBS’s “60 Minutes” in his first broadcast interview since bin Laden’s death early last Monday. “I mean, we could not say definitively that bin Laden was there. Had he not been there, then there would have been some significant consequences.” Obama, in his most revelatory comments about his thinking in the days before the raid, said he weighed the risks and judged that he should proceed with what was, by all accounts, the most promising opportunity to capture or kill bin Laden in nearly a decade. In doing so, he rejected the counsel of a substantial number of his national security advisers, who worried that the plan to send ground troops deep into Pakistan was too risky, he said.

Syrian President Assad blows his reformist credentials
Hillary said he’s a reformer. Good enough for me. ~Bob. Excerpt: Yet in all those years, the younger Assad has implemented not one measure that would relax the ruling Baath Party’s 48-year-long hold on power, lift the draconian laws that enable the security forces to operate with impunity or ease restrictions on free speech.

House panel to hear firsthand accounts of crime along Mexican border
Excerpt: Skewed reporting on crime along the U.S.-Mexico border will be the focus of a House Homeland Security Committee oversight hearing on Wednesday, according to the presiding lawmaker. The hearing, entitled “On the Border and In the Line of Fire: U.S. Law Enforcement, Homeland Security and Cartel Violence,” is the second in a series of hearings initiated by Oversight subcommittee chairman Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas.)

Excerpt: Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has proposed a Medicare reform plan that is being contrasted with the approach adopted by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), what some people call ObamaCare. Even though Republicans are backing away from the plan, it is the centerpiece of the House Republican budget. It’s also attracting a lot of criticism from the Obama administration and from left-of-center commentators. For example, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says it will cause seniors to “die sooner.” Both ObamaCare and Paul Ryan propose very large cuts in Medicare spending — cuts that will continue indefinitely into the future. As I said in a previous post, neither plan has a serious proposal to slow the rate of growth of health care spending overall. So under both plans, the amount that the federal government will spend on care for the elderly and the disabled will fall further and further behind what everybody else is spending. (See the spending charts here.)

Cut U.S. Funding for Osama's Mourners
But if we cut off funding, how will they buy rockets to kill Jewish kids? ~Bob. Excerpt: Hamas, the Palestinian terror group that runs Gaza, is mourning the death of Osama bin Laden. He is a "martyr" to these jihadists. And Hamas has just concluded a pact with the so-called Palestinian Authority (PA), or Fatah, the group that the U.S. recognizes and to whom we give lavish foreign aid. We are currently giving $600 million to the so-called Palestinian Authority. Fatah has held an increasingly precarious control over much of the West Bank of the Jordan River since 1988. It was then that the U.S. brokered a deal in which the PLO morphed into the Palestinian Authority (PA), promised to give up terrorism, and promised to recognize Israel's right to exist. Many of us never thought the PLO would keep any of those promises -- but we knew they would cash our checks and pocket as well huge sums from the European Union. All of this in the name of "peace." Among the things that the PLO has done on the West Bank is to terrorize Christian Arabs, to name public squares after suicide bombers, and to conduct an all-out Hate Israel propaganda campaign in their schools, universities, and controlled media.

To Be 70 By George Will
Good column. At 65, with IPF, I hope I get to find out. ~Bob. Excerpt: In 1960, after the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the New York Yankees in an electrifying seven-game World Series, the Yankees fired manager Casey Stengel, who had turned 70 in July. The Yankees said he was too old. He said, "I'll never make the mistake of being 70 again." It is, however, a coveted mistake, considering the alternative, and remembering how recently it was that passing this milestone became unremarkable. The Bible, with the thumping certitude for which it is famous and sometimes tiresome, asserts that "the days of our years are threescore years and ten." If so, after turning 70, one has, ever after, the pleasure of playing, as it were, with house money. For what, exactly, would one now give up red meat and dry martinis? To be 70 is to have escaped the disagreeable fate of dying young. But the Bible, which is replete with redundant reminders that life is real, life is earnest, adds this: "And if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away." Have a nice day.

On spending cuts, Democrats give voters the brush off
Excerpt: Do President Obama and Democrats want to cut spending? There's not much evidence they do. They have acquiesced to some cuts—but only under political duress. The importance of the spending issue escalated last Thursday with the start of budget negotiations between Democrats and Republicans under the direction of Vice President Joe Biden. The 2012 budget, an increase in the debt limit, and long-term reform of entitlements are all on the table. The parties have very different goals. While Republicans want a cap on spending, Democrats favor a ceiling on the deficit. The distinction is significant. A spending cap is straightforward. But a cap on the deficit can be satisfied by raising taxes, which Democrats prefer.

Excerpt: A week ago, the Wall Street Journal ran a big story about major hedge fund managers jumping to the GOP from Barack Obama. One of the big jumpers is Steve Cohen. … The Wall Street Journal is now reporting federal prosecutors have suddenly decided to examine “trades made in an account overseen by hedge-fund titan Steven Cohen that were suggested by two of his former fund managers who have pleaded guilty to insider trading.” (Coincidence? No, The Chicago way. ~Bob)

Pakistan: Bin Laden killing 'second biggest' national tragedy
Excerpt: Pakistani opposition leader Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan reacted to the killing of Osama bin Laden by American special forces by declaring the act a national tragedy and demanding the resignation of many of Pakistan's top leaders. “This is the biggest tragedy in the history of Pakistan after the fall of East Pakistan in 1971 (now Bangladesh)," he said. "heads should roll. Those who breached the sovereignty of the country by the US intrusion in the country, including the president, prime minister, minister of defence and minister of interior should immediately resign,” he told reporters in front of national parliament in Islamabad on Friday.

Sudanese diplomat killer slain in Somalia: father
Excerpt: One of four Sudanese Islamists who escaped from prison last year after they were sentenced to hang for the murder of a US diplomat was killed while waging "jihad," or holy war, in Somalia, his father said on Saturday. Mohannad Osman Yussif Mohammed was one of the four Islamists convicted of the New Year's Day killing, in 2008, of US diplomat John Granville, 33, and his driver Abdel Rahman Abbas, 40, who both worked for the US Agency for International Development (USAID). "Today we were informed that Mohannad was killed in jihad in Somalia. I cannot tell anyone how we got this information," the man's father told reporters at his house in north Khartoum.

Mentally Ill Christian Charged with 'Blasphemy' in Pakistan
Excerpt: Christian families flee area after Muslim mob threatens them. Police in Chichawatni, Sahiwal district have charged a mentally ill Christian with “injuring religious feelings” under Pakistan’s widely condemned blasphemy laws.

Malik gives Zardari’s message to Saudi king
Excerpt: The interior minister’s visit came at a time when fingers are increasingly being pointed in Washington towards Islamabad and its security apparatus over the presence of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad. Some press reports over the past few days have indicated that Saudi Arabia and Turkey had tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to persuade Pakistan to hand over Osama bin Laden to the United States.

TV Networks Promote Evangelical Islamists
Excerpt: USA Network, a division of NBC Universal, ran the ad in April about religious intolerance, a real problem in America, and linked its campaign to WhyIslam. "American Muslims are victimized everyday because of misinformation about their religion," the ad said. "Get authentic information about Islam by calling 1-877-WhyIslam or visit" A USA Network spokesman did not respond to a request for comment for this article.

Condi Rice and Lawrence O’Donnell argue about Iraq for 12 minutes
Excerpt: If you’re thinking you’d rather pass on the umpteen-thousandth Iraq war debate in which neither party has a remote chance of convincing the other, think again. Just wait until this one gets going. You won’t be sorry.

FBI warns that fake bin Laden video is a virus
Excerpt: The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation warned computer users Tuesday that messages claiming to include photos and videos of Osama bin Laden's death actually contain a virus that could steal personal information. The warning comes as security companies said that they've spotted the first samples of malicious software disguised as photos of the dead Al Qaeda leader.

CSI: Climate Science Investigation
Excerpt: Mr. Gore and Dr. Hansen certainly exhibit sincerity regarding their causes -- but sincerity is not a virtue. This may come as a surprise, but politicians, and even scientists, can be sincerely wrong. Unfortunately, in the courtroom of public opinion, both gentlemen are definitely convincing and believable -- two terrific examples of a case where the evidence is overshadowed by its interpretation. However, it's arguable that considering the enormous and growing number of independent, knowledgeable earth and climate scientists, the wrong perpetrator has been nabbed.

The Best-ever Symbol of Government Incompetence?
Excerpt: Centralia, PA is home to America's largest coal mine fire -- still burning today since May of 1962. Forty-nine years of government folly, environmentalist demonization, and media sensationalism have managed to fan the flames under Centralia, escalating the costs to end this ecological disaster from under $100,000 in the early sixties to over $600 million today. Bureaucratic half-measures started in the 60's with a planned town dump in an old mine pit. Regulations required that any openings to the mine be properly sealed with non combustible material. In May 1962 the local Volunteer Fire Company had been hired by the town council to clean up the landfill. As was done in the past, Firemen set the dump ablaze, let it burn for a while, and then doused the fire, or so they thought. Several days of flareups followed. Finally to their horror they discovered the fire spread through an improperly filled hole in the rock pit, ignited a coal seam and flared into the coal mines below. (This has also gotten TV coverage on various "investigative reporting" shows over the years. Ron P. when I was a kid, my dad drove us up there from south jersey to see the smoke coming out of the ground. ~Bob.)

Excerpt: The upshot of my weekend bin-off column is that we won a tree but we’re losing the surrounding forest. Andy has one example of that. I would like to cite a further three, from a trio of G7 economies and principal American allies, all of whom have contributed troops to the increasingly purposeless Afghan campaign and two of whom are Washington’s principal comrades-in-arms there. First from Canada: Zaynab Khadr is disconsolate at the death of Osama, and has adopted his mugshot as the photo for her Facebook page. She and her Facebook friends are taking it bad: “The Muslim Ummah will be in Mourning for 3 days, may Ilah give us the saber and strength to keep up the fight.” Miss Khadr is the daughter of Ahmed Khadr, known as “al-Kanadi,” the highest-ranking Canadian in al-Qaeda until his death in a firefight in Pakistan.

Excerpt: I’ve already written a bit about IPAB, Obamacare’s rationing board. Now I go at IPAB hammer and tong in the current issue of NATIONAL REVIEW. (By the way, for an unusually revealing photograph of IPAB’s newly-appointed members, click on the picture of the magazine at the top right-hand corner of NRO’s homepage.) While I have plenty to say in the article about rationing, Obama’s evasions, and the political path from IPAB to a single-payer system, the constitutional issues are front and center in this piece. IPAB is an affront to the Constitution. IPAB’s attack on the separation of powers doctrine needs to be challenged in the courts, but should also be placed in the political foreground by Republicans. The best way to convey Obamacare’s radicalism to the public is to show how the price-setting powers of this central-planning board require suspension of our ordinary constitutional processes. Today’s Washington Post features a purportedly balanced article on the IPAB controversy. Yet there is nothing in the piece on the constitutional challenge to IPAB, the board’s exemption from judicial review, or President Obama’s controversial request that IPAB be granted the power of “automatic sequester.”

The bin Laden Book Club: An ex-president gets an endorsement he probably doesn't want.
Excerpt: The New York Times, reporting on the intelligence haul from Osama bin Laden's house, paints a picture of the mass murderer's politics: In October, . . . Bin Laden issued two audio statements urging help for victims of floods in Pakistan. "We are in need of a big change in the method of relief work because the number of victims is great due to climate changes in modern times," he said. In 2007, he complained that Democratic control of Congress had not ended the war in Iraq, a fact he attributed to the pernicious influence of "big corporations." In other messages he commented on the writings of Noam Chomsky, the leftist professor at M.I.T., and praised former President Jimmy Carter's book supporting Palestinian rights. So he was a global warmist who opposed the Iraq war, hated big corporations, was a fan of Noam Chomsky and thought Jimmy Carter was right on Israel. On the other hand, we understand he was more conservative on social issues.

Man Carrying Yemeni Passport Tackled, Arrested on San Francisco-Bound Flight
Excerpt: Crew members and passengers wrestled a man to the cabin floor after he began pounding on the cockpit as an American Airlines flight approached San Francisco, the third security incident in a day on U.S. planes, authorities said Monday. The man, who had a Yemeni passport, was yelling unintelligibly as he brushed past a flight attendant about 10 minutes before American Airlines Flight 1561 was due at San Francisco International Airport Sunday night, Sgt. Michael Rodriguez of the San Francisco police said. (Maybe this is Al Qaeda’s “new plan:” to irritate us to death? Or is it to distract us from something else that seems innocuous?  Ron P.)

Robert A. Hall

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