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The 2012 Vote

Obama, Biden Fail to Mention GM Outsourcing to Indonesia

September 6th 2012

Chevey

On Labor Day, during a campaign visit in Detroit, Vice President Joe Biden boasted that had President Barack Obama not intervened with a huge bailout to General Motors, the company's plants would have been shutdown and thousands of employees thrown out of work. However, during this week's Democratic Party Convention Biden and Obama failed to announce GM's planned outsourcing to Indonesia and other nations .

According to a press statement from the Indonesian branch of General Motors, the firm had allocated some $150 million to build a production facility in Bekasi, West Java province in Indonesia. The new plant is scheduled to open and begin building automobiles sometime in 2013.

"The construction of the new plant began in August in Bekasi," Marketing Director of General Motor Indonesia (GMI), Yuniadi Hartono, said. The new GM plant is expected to produce more than 40,000 cars each year and will employ 800 new workers. The workers will be trained with skills and production technical aspects that fit with international quality standards, according to GM.

They will undergo the training programs in GM production facilities across the world, tapping the knowledge about high-quality car production and how to expand the firm's businesses. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Running Scared?

September 6th 2012

Armstrong_Williams

After a well-executed Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., it is now time for the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

The Democrats are already responding to the Republican convention, and changing their speaker lineup: According to Donovan Slack of Politico, the Democrats are adding women and minorities to their roster, which I take to mean that the Republican convention was effective. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s speech was presidential—it wouldn’t be hard to imagine her giving that if she were the nominee. Just as stirring was that of Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. Some left-wing critics noted that the RNC stage was more diverse than the RNC delegation; I ask, would you prefer it the other way around?

I’m afraid that that’s the case with the Democratic National Convention. As Matt Yglesias tweeted, “[the] DNC lineup exaggerates whiteness of the party relative to its actual voting base.”

One good way to judge the confidence of a campaign is to note how often it uses ad hominem attacks. The more ad hominems, the less confident they must be. The Democrats’s schedule of speakers is interesting. Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker is scheduled to speak on the first day of the convention. I will be interested to see the reaction to his speech, because Mr. Booker reminds me a lot of a younger President Obama. He is young, black, and at least pays lip service to healing the partisan divide in this country. His speech will be a test of whether the country is jaded with this sanctimony yet. Read more ..


The Economy on Edge

The Accounting Trick That Will Haunt Public Pensions

September 6th 2012

union protest

State and local government employee pensions around the country are significantly underfunded. The Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB), which is the closest thing that comes to a regulator of public pensions, tells them, through its accounting rules, that the single best thing pensions can do to improve their funding is to take greater investment risk. Economic theory, accounting rules applied to virtually all other pension plans, and plain common sense strongly disagree. GASB rules cause U.S. public pensions both to vastly understate their true liabilities and to take excessive investment risk, putting in danger both government budgets and the economy as a whole. With pension liabilities breathing down the necks of state and local governments around the nation, it is time for bond rating agencies to expose what GASB rules sweep under the rug.
Read more ..

The 2012 Vote

Party Time in Charlotte, With Corporate Cash Present

September 6th 2012

obama and biden

After a week of political pageantry and Republican politics in Tampa Bay, the spotlight turns to Democrats this week, as they kick off their own party convention in the battleground state of North Carolina. Readers know all too well what that means: It's party time. Sunlight Foundation's Political Party Time Blog estimated that Republicans held upwards of 200 fundraisers during their stint in Tampa Bay. But that doesn't hold a candle to the Democrats' itinerary: politicians, lobbyists and other interest groups have 400 such events planned this week in Charlotte, according to Party Time. Themes range from a how-to on formal dining etiquette to one event called Nuns on the Bus. That's right: nuns. On the Bus.
 
That event is sponsored by a Catholic social justice group called Network, which just finished promoting a nine state bus tour to "highlight the work of Catholic Sisters, meet the people they serve and learn about the harm that would be caused by the Ryan/House federal budget cuts."
Read more ..

Romney Calls DNC a 'Celebration of Failure'

September 6th 2012

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney blasted the first day of the Democratic convention on Wednesday, saying that the effort by his political rivals was "so far a celebration of failure."

Romney and his allies have pounced on Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley's comments over the weekend that Americans are not better off than they were four years ago. The top Democratic surrogate has since walked back those remarks, and officials with the Obama campaign have contended this week that Americans are better off under Obama's presidency.

But the Republican nominee brushed aside those assertions in an interview with Fox News, noting that the "better off" message hasn't been expressed from the stage in Charlotte, N.C. "You know no one in the convention so far has had the temerity to say that people are better off in America because they realize that’s not the case," Romney said. "The convention so far is a celebration of failure." Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Obama Deserves Four More Years

September 5th 2012

Obama

My grandfather used to say, “Don’t tell me your priorities. Show me your budget, and I’ll tell you your priorities.” So, let’s compare the Obama-Biden record in three critical areas — Medicare, taxes and veterans — with what is in the Romney-Ryan budget.

First Medicare, where there is perhaps no better contrast and choice facing Americans. President Obama and Vice President Biden want to ensure Medicare is solvent for generations to come.

The president has ended excessive subsidies to insurance companies and eliminated waste, fraud and abuse, adding eight years of solvency to Medicare. He has also helped seniors in the Medicare prescription drug doughnut hole to pay less for their prescription drugs, and the doughnut hole will be closed by 2020. On the other side, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan want to end Medicare as we know it by turning it into a voucher program, taking guaranteed benefits away from seniors and increasing Medicare recipients’ costs by $6,350 per year. If that is not bad enough, Medicare would be bankrupt by the end of their first term. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Labor Unions Force at Democratic National Convention

September 5th 2012

James Hoffa

As the Democratic Party conducts its official business at the convention in North Carolina on Tuesday, union officials and delegates from labor organizations in both the private and public sectors descended on the city of Charlotte in large numbers that included stalwarts such as SEIU's Andy Stern and AFL-CIO's Richard Trumka.

The goal of labor leaders is, of course, the re-election of President Barack Obama, but it's also about garnering more power in order to increase its membership numbers. For example, while unions have requested waivers for Obamacare, they were completely onboard with passing the unpopular health care law for Americans. Read more ..


Europe on Edge

Can Europe make it all the way to November?

September 5th 2012

French Economic protest

The European debt crisis took a breather in the summer months as thinner markets and promises of central bank intervention from both the U.S. and Europe bolstered equity prices.
The Obama administration has to be quietly hoping this rally continues, as the contagion from Europe has the potential to reduce already paltry domestic economic growth. If Europe can hold together the current status quo until November, Obama's economy might look reasonable, but it seems unlikely that Europe has that long.

As the calendar turned to September, Europe's debt crisis began to flare up almost immediately. New data from the ECB shows that funding costs for businesses in the European periphery are at the highest level in a half decade. Meanwhile, Moody's lowered the debt rating outlook for the EU on September's first day of trading. Neither story implies good things for the already-depressed and uncompetitive economies of the southern portion of the continent. Read more ..


The Obama Edge

Christians Persecuted and Tormented in Egypt as $1 Billion Flows

September 5th 2012

Coptic Girl

Egypt’s so-called Arab Spring quickly turned into a Christian winter following the political rise of Islamists and increased assaults on Christians and churches. As a result, an estimated 100,000 Christians have fled or are preparing to flee the country, according to a report by International Christian Concerns on Monday.

Calls for Christians to be killed with some of them reportedly crucified on trees are the new reality of the Egyptian government under a Muslim Brotherhood president and a legislature run by not only the Brotherhood but also the extreme Islamist Salafists, according to a separate report by the British human rights group, the Barnabas Fund.

According to the London-based, non-partisan Barnabas group in an alert, Egyptians have witnessed an increase in brutality, mostly against Christians and dissenters, with President Mohammed Morsi emboldening Islamists who were previously constrained by Egypt's now ousted President Hosni Mubarek. Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

An Alternative to Obama’s Failure on Syria is Needed

September 4th 2012

Syrian Rebels in Aleppo

The number of people killed in Syria will soon reach genocidal levels. Tens of thousands of civilians, including children, women and the elderly, have been massacred by the Assad regime since spring 2011. That jihadi militias are present and have perpetrated war crimes of their own is not under dispute, but it would be a grossly inaccurate to say that a majority of the anti-Baathist demonstrators want a Taliban-style emirate. This political reality is easily grasped by seasoned observers and expert analysts, but it still manages to elude prevailing international perception.

The conflict in Syria is having significant regional and international repercussions because it is a catastrophic human tragedy. This fact alone obliges the International Community to step or an entire population could be eradicated. International law, indeed, the UN Charter itself, demands intervention by the IC. A coordinated strategy is needed to rescue millions of innocent civilians trapped in this widening conflict. Read more ..


The US and Russia

Russia, Unfortunately, is Still Russia

September 4th 2012

Vladimir Putin seriously

Before the pundits start telling you the Romney campaign stepped into a time-warp on the subject of Russia, it's worth considering what adviser Rich Williamson said and what it means.  "They're trampling civil rights," and "they're our foe," and "they've chosen a path of confrontations, not cooperation."  Pierre-Richard Prosper, another campaign adviser, added that "rule of law" has evaporated.

They might also have noted that Russia has staked its position as the guardian and defender of Syria.  And that Putin has announced an upgrade in Russia's nuclear arsenal that caused Poland to consider its own missile defense system.  (President Obama canceled plans for interceptors in Poland as part of his early "reset" of relations with Putin.)

Russia is asserting its interests the way large, dictatorial, and resource-rich countries do.  The problem for President Obama -- which the Romney people can reasonably point out -- is that Putin's definition of Russia's interests doesn't correspond with the administration's desire for "reset."  Jailing rock singers for "hooliganism" and businessmen for "corruption," stealing elections, murdering journalists and dissidents, eviscerating reliable civil and contract law, and protecting murderous dictators makes it hard for President Obama to claim that the only thing wrong with U.S.-Russian relations was the previous U.S. president. Read more ..


The Euro on Edge

Mario Draghi’s Guns of August

September 3rd 2012

French Economic protest

August has been a dangerous month in European history, but this year it could be the turning point for the eurozone – and perhaps for the world economy. On July 26, Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank, declared that his institution would do “whatever it takes” to preserve the euro, and added: “Believe me, it will be enough.”

Draghi’s strong – indeed, unprecedented – statement was widely interpreted as signaling that the ECB would soon revive its bond-purchase program, focusing on Spanish debt in particular. Stock markets around the world soared. Jens Weidemann of the Bundesbank immediately expressed reservations, but the next day German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande issued a joint statement expressing their determination “to do everything in order to protect the eurozone.”

I recently argued that the ECB, working with the nascent European Stability Mechanism (ESM), was the only institution that could save the eurozone. It could do so by buying Italian and Spanish bonds in the secondary market with the pre-announced intention of keeping their sovereign interest rates below a certain threshold for a certain time. Read more ..


Costa Rica and Nicaragua

Fallout from Costa Rican Road Construction Project the Latest in Corruption Allegations

September 3rd 2012

daniel ortega
Daniel Ortega

The fallout from a 2010 incident over a historical territory in dispute between  and Costa Rica continues to be a compass of relations between the administrations of Costa Rican president Laura Chinchilla and Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega. The dispute is heavy on nationalistic sentiment but littered with corruption and administrational malfeasance.

The latest development comes as Chinchilla presently faces a hearing on her contracting the construction of a large, costly transportation route known as Ruta 1856, straddling a sizable swath of the Nicaraguan border. As a result, los ticos (as Costa Ricans are commonly known) have good reason to question their government’s commitment to transparency and accountability, which inherently suggests it has none. Indeed, Chinchilla’s term continues a long line of Costa Rican presidencies ending in indictment.

In October of 2010, when Nicaragua began dredging the Río San Juan’s sediment deposits on the Isla Calero’s river delta, it hardly registered even as a blip on the international radar until Nicaraguan workers began felling trees and dumping residue on the island at the mouth of the Caribbean Sea. As Nicaraguan soldiers entered the territory claimed by Costa Rica, an alarmed San José interpreted the act as an “invasion” and cited evidence of such crimes as well as environmental concerns over the river’s diversion into their neighbor’s territory. Read more ..


The Edge of Justice

DOJ Drops Criminal Investigation of CIA

September 2nd 2012

Prison bars

After more than three years, agents from the Central Intelligence Agency are discovering that they can breathe easier after Attorney General Eric Holder and the Obama Justice Department dropped their far-reaching investigation of CIA interrogators who aggressively questioned terrorist detainees without bringing criminal charges against them, a national security has stated.

The termination of the Obama administration's CIA probe was announced late-Thursday/early-Friday to coincide with the much-anticipated GOP convention speeches by mega-star Clint Eastwood, Sen. Marco Rubio and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. "It's another embarrassment for the Obama-Holder attack team and they wanted to avoid full media coverage," said political consultant Michael Baker. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Obama’s Regulatory Agenda Goes Undercover

September 2nd 2012

Obama and Flag

Throughout President Obama’s tenure, the number and cost of major regulations has approached record levels—exceeding $46 billion in new annual costs during his first three years. The impact has been economically crippling, of course, notwithstanding the administration’s boasts of regulatory benefits. Yet the White House seems rather shy of late about its hyperactive rulemaking, all of the president’s promises of transparency be damned.

Here it is almost September, and the administration has failed to publish its spring 2012 Regulatory Agenda as required by law. The compendium of planned regulatory actions is required each spring and fall under the Regulatory Flexibility Act as well as Executive Order 12,866, which originated with President Clinton and was reaffirmed by President Obama last year. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Ryan and his Panicky Critics

September 2nd 2012

Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan’s speech accepting the Republican party’s nomination for vice president was everything that could have been hoped for by the Romney campaign and more. It made the case against President Obama in devastating terms — using humor and memorable line after memorable line to drive home the main point that the president has been a miserable failure in office. The speech is likely to have lasting impact in this campaign.

Which perhaps explains the panicky reaction of the mainstream press and Ryan’s liberal critics. Almost from the moment Ryan finished his speech, apologists for the president (including the Washington Post) have come out swinging, quite plainly indignant that Ryan landed so many punches when the usual media filters couldn’t stop him. Read more ..


The Defense Edge

International Security Advisory Board’s Misplaced Focus

September 1st 2012

Iran centrifuges

The U.S. and its allies face many grave dangers today, including the spread of ballistic missiles and nuclear know-how. The International Security Advisory Board (ISAB), designed to provide independent analysis and advisement regarding such issues for the Secretary of State, recently published a report titled “Mutual Assured Stability: Essential Components and Near Term Actions.” The report’s recommendations, however, are almost exclusively focused on improving relations with Russia and largely ignore the risks associated with a nuclear North Korea and Iran. Such an omission is dangerous.

The report does not fully address issues specified in the Terms of Reference by then-Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher. Of the six issues specified, ISAB focuses on only one: “The possible components of mutual assured stability and what the United States would need to see happening to have the confidence to consider very low numbers and, eventually, agree to the elimination of nuclear weapons.” Remaining points are related to international cooperation, nuclear reductions management and conditions for the nuclear-free world, possible tensions between nuclear reductions and effective deterrence, stabilizing factors outside of deterrence, and U.S. force structure supporting deterrence. Read more ..


America on Edge

Anti-Chemical Alarmism Spreads to Your School

August 31st 2012

Student Backpack

Today’s toxic headline: a plastic gun is pointed at your children and it looks like SpongeBob, Hello Kitty and Dora the Explorer. Campaigning NGOs and many journalists share a not-so-attractive sensibility: they are often uncomfortable with complexity. Dividing the world, and prickly science policy issues, into black and white makes for exciting narratives. Unfortunately it’s invariably wrong, authoritarian and, as Freud would say, crazy (“neurosis is the inability to tolerate ambiguity”).

That’s certainly the case in today’s anti-science campaign du jour: a ferocious attack on the harmless backpacks, book covers and lunch boxes that your children tote to school.

The hysteria kicked off earlier this week with a news conference organized by the Center for Health, Environment and Justice starring anti-chemical flack Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) at which the CHEJ released a guide ominously titled, “Hidden Hazards: Toxic Chemical Inside Children’s Vinyl Back to School Supplies”.

“These dangerous chemicals manufactured by ExxonMobil have no place in our children’s school supplies,” said Mike Schade, CHEJ’s “Markets Campaign Coordinator” who orchestrated the media blitz. The non-profit, composed almost entirely of fulltime campaigners, has one lone non-PhD scientist on staff—with no research expertise in this area. Read more ..


The Race for EVs

Israel’s Better Place Electric Car Network Bleeds Capital

August 31st 2012

Better Place

Last month Israel’s Better Place rolled out their all-electric vehicle network to the Israeli public with much fanfare. Of the hundreds of civilians that bought the cars, warm reviews of excitement ensued. Pictures and photo ops were maximized. Since opening the car sales channel to the public the number of Better Place cars on the road now exceeds the number of Better Place cars being driven by company employees. The company also released news that it had set an electric car distance world record, garnering some fresh enthusiasm for the business.

But a new report warns that the company is seriously bleeding cash, suggesting it’s light years away from putting 10,000 cars on the road – its break even point.

Even after recent news of a $40 million Euro loan,  in order to set up a network in Denmark and continue deployment in Israel, the company is ripping through cash. Much of it being spent on PR, public education and wrapping.

Will the Better Place car network and its rechargeable battery stations survive the long-term? I have a feeling that unless it starts to make its car the much cheaper alternative to driving a petrol-powered car in Israel, it will not. The Renault cars aren’t attractive, or different looking. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Clint Eastwood Tells America: "Let Him Go."

August 31st 2012

Clint Eastwood at Tampa Convention
Clint Eastwood Grilling an Imaginary Obama in Chair

Actor and director Clint Eastwood tried a risky and sometimes awkward 10-minute routine Thursday before the GOP convention in Tampa, Fla., that involved several minutes of him pretending to ask questions to a non-present President Obama, though he won big applause for lines saying it's time for him to leave office.

"When somebody does not do the job, we got to let him go," he said near the end of his remarks, to rowdy applause. "We own this country," he added. "Politicians are employees of ours. They're just going to come around and beg for votes every few years, it's the same old deal." Before grilling an invisible Obama in an empty chair, Eastwood said he was initially fine with Obama's election, but that the state of the economy made him sour on the president.  Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

UN Blames Only Israel for Gaza's Inviable Future

August 31st 2012

Gaza Qasam Rocket

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) held a conference on August 27th entitled “Will the Gaza Strip be Viable in 2020?” The conclusion, predictably, was that the Israeli government was fully responsible for the difficult human living conditions in the Gaza Strip and that the Gaza population will face a real disaster on all levels by 2020 if the Israeli “siege” were not immediately ended.

In attendance at the Israel-bashing conference were the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator, Maxwell Gaylard, Director of UNRWA operations in Gaza Robert Turner, and UNICEF Special Representative in the Palestinian Territory, Jean Gough.

Gaylard said that the Gaza population is expected to expand by a half million, reaching 2.1 million in 2020, while access to water and electricity, education and health resources will get worse over the same period, unless major remedial action is taken immediately. Read more ..


Healthcare on Edge

Health Insurers: Mind your own business!

August 30th 2012

Obamacare Protest

You may have received a refund check in the past few months from your health insurer. This is not your individual reward for staying healthy; it is your insurer's punishment for making too much money because you did.

Obamacare includes what the health care technocracy calls the "MLR rule" - minimum requirements for medical-loss ratios - or the percentage of premiums collected by health insurers that must be spent on medical care or refunded. The inverse of the MLR is the percentage spent on administration and marketing, and earned as profit. Obamacare sets minimum MLRs of 80 percent for individual and small group plans, and 85 percent for large groups.

Aside from its obvious populist appeal, this profit regulation mechanism signifies a belief, now enshrined in legislation, that health insurance markets do not work. Without such a rule, the architects of Obamacare believe, insurers can name their prices, however inflated, and we all just pay. Read more ..


The Obama Edge

EPA Gives Chinese Millions for Green Projects

August 29th 2012

Obama with baseball bat

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, while campaigning in Tampa just before the RNC convention that began on Tuesday, outlined his energy and environmental plan that he claims will achieve energy independence by the year 2020. And he noted his plan doesn't include millions of U.S. dollars for the Chinese. He proposed opening new areas for offshore oil drilling, starting in Virginia and the Carolinas, and by empowering the states. He also noted that the Obama Environmental Protection Agency's statutes and regulations would be removed or loosened to green-light more coal production and other industry priorities, and the United States would reach agreements for energy production with Canada and Mexico, including the building of the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Possibly the most important Romney energy proposal is removing Obama's "EPA fangs" and his internationalist green programs, said several Romney supporters.

For example, in a transaction by the Obama White House that's sure to anger most Americans -- if the news media ever bother to tell them -- the People's Republic of China and other nations get millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars to help with their so-called green projects. The outrageous part of the story is that the U.S. is indebted to China for almost a trillion dollars, according to a vocal critic of outsourcing on Friday. Read more ..


The Race for Natual Gas

Hydraulic Fracturing: Critical for Energy Production, Jobs, and Economic Growth

August 29th 2012

Fracking gas well

While Americans continue to be disappointed by dismal jobs reports and a high unemployment rate, one of the few recent bright spots in the U.S. economy has been energy production, particularly the shale oil and shale gas revolution. In fact, the Yale Graduates Energy Study Group calculated that in 2010 alone, the consumer surplus (the consumer savings or gain from reductions in price) from shale gas production was worth over $100 billion. The technological one-two punch of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing has created a remarkable energy boom and created hundreds of thousands of jobs in the U.S. The possibility of continuously low natural gas prices is turning the United States into a prime destination for chemical companies and other businesses that rely on abundant amounts of natural gas. While the energy development has been substantially positive, the process of hydraulic fracturing has come under scrutiny over concerns about contamination of drinking water, the use of chemicals, wastewater management, and the potential for causing earthquakes. Read more ..

The 2012 Vote

Physicians' Group Will Barnstorm Conventions With Truth-Telling On Obamacare

August 29th 2012

stethoscope

As the Republican convention gets underway today in Tampa, we can expect to hear the politicians and delegates gathered there — including GOP nominee Mitt Romney — rail against “Obamacare”, insisting that what we need instead of a “government takeover of health care” is “patient-centered” care, although what that would look like hasn’t been disclosed.

If recent statements by Romney and his VP pick Paul Ryan are an indication of the rhetoric we’ll likely hear, get ready for speech after speech telling us that Obamacare will “cut” $716 billion from Medicare and cost small businesses a bundle. In anticipation of these sorts of misrepresentations, doctors from all over the country — all members of a four-year-old organization called Doctors for America — have traveled to Florida to serve as a truth squad. And while they’re dispensing facts, they’ll also be providing more than a little free care. When the GOPers leave the Sunshine State, the doctors will hop on a bus and head to Charlotte to try to persuade the politicians and delegates who will gather there that they need to start aggressively defending the reform law. Read more ..


Israel's Looming Attack

Debating What to Do About Iran

August 29th 2012

F21 kfir jet

Almost everyone seems to agree that the Iranian nuclear weapons project should be stopped. Preferably through economic sanctions against Iran, but if that doesn't work, then military means will have to be used. But if a military operation is required, should it be carried out by the United States or Israel? Everyone in Israel seems to prefer that the operation be carried out by the United States, but what if the Americans delay in making a decision?

That's where the disagreement begins: Should Israel go ahead on its own, without U.S. approval, should it wait for U.S. approval before taking action, or should it just leave things to the United States, trusting that the Americans will take the necessary action at the appropriate time?

No matter who strikes first Israel's civilian population will be subjected to tens of thousands of rockets launched from Lebanon by Hezbollah in retaliation for a military strike against Iran. Hezbollah's response - on orders from Tehran - can be considered a certainty. But the extent of the damage caused to life, limb and property in Israel is not at all certain. Read more ..


The Edge of Hate

Anti-Semitic Brutality Meets with Inaction by Michigan State University

August 29th 2012

Zachary Tennen
Zachary Tennen

A vicious hate crime occurred in East Lansing, MI – at an off-campus party near Michigan State University – to a university sophomore.

The cruelty and ferocity of Sunday’s Anti-Semitic attack is shocking: Two males walked up to Zachary Tennen, and when he responded affirmatively to the question of whether he was Jewish, they raised their arms in a Nazi salute, yelled “Heil Hitler”, said they were part of the KKK, and then they sadistically beat him unconscious, broke his jaw, stapled his mouth into his gum, and threw him out of the party.

Witnesses to the attack at the party did not intervene. They did not to stop the beating. They did not call police. They did not call an ambulance. They simply continued to party on. When Zachary regained consciousness, he had to use a taxi to make it to a hospital for treatment of his severe injuries. The taxi took Zachary to Lansing’s Sparrow Hospital for initial treatment. And, astonishingly, Sparrow Hospital never reported the violent assault to the police. Zachary later had to undergo surgery at a Detroit area hospital. Read more ..


The BDS Jihad

South African BDS - or Just BS?

August 28th 2012

Wailing Wall in Jerusalem

The government of South Africa has defined the State of Israel as not including Beersheva, Yad Mordechai, Acco, Afula, and Nahariya. It creates an "Arab Enclave" in Jaffa not governed by Israel. It reduces the borders of Israel in two places to points on a map -- one in the Galilee and one in the Negev Desert -- and, for good measure, restores Jerusalem and certain of its suburbs to "corpus separatum." Yasser Arafat didn't have the nerve to define such borders.

South Africa has decided to label goods entering the country from certain places as "IOT" for "Israeli Occupied Territory." The outraged Israeli government called the decision "blatant discrimination based on national and political distinction. This kind of discrimination has not been imposed -- and rightly so -- in any other case of national, territorial or ethnic conflict[.] ... What is totally unacceptable is the use of tools which, by essence, discriminate and single out, fostering a general boycott."

It is worse than that. Read more ..


Russia on Edge

Luxury Perks Pile Up For Putin

August 28th 2012

Putin

A new report by Russian opposition leaders accuses President Vladimir Putin of enjoying a lifestyle that "can be compared to that of a Persian Gulf monarch or a flamboyant oligarch." The report is sarcastically titled "The Life of a Galley Slave," which is how Putin once described his life as president. The authors of the report -- opposition leader Boris Nemtsov and Leonid Martynyuk, a member of the Solidarity movement -- say that during Putin's 12 years in power, the perks that the president enjoys have significantly increased. The report says the president has 20 residences and dozens of jets and luxury cars at his disposal. It asserts that the luxurious lifestyle is the reason Putin "maniacally clings to power."

The report includes pictures of presidential residences, aircraft, yachts, and cars. Nemtsov, presenting the report at a news conference in Moscow, said putting all that state property at the disposal of one person was "immoral" and "criminal." "I disagree with the claim that controlling and disposing of this kind of state property for the luxury of one person is normal," Nemtsov said. "I think it is immoral, it is criminal, and it is unacceptable in a poor country."

$1 Billion In Aircraft
It says nine of the 20 residences available were added to the official list of presidential residences during Putin's time in office. It says the restoration of some of them, including a Czarist-era palace near St. Petersburg, cost tens of millions of dollars. The report also says Putin has 43 aircraft, 15 helicopters, four yachts, and a fleet of luxury cars available for his use. It says the aircraft alone are worth an estimated $1 billion. It says Putin has a collection of 11 expensive watches with an estimated retail worth of $687,000, "about six times Putin's annual salary," according to the report. The report includes enlarged photographs of Putin's wrists during meetings and public appearances, revealing a variety of expensive watches. Nemtsov saw that as an indication of corruption. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Romney's Play for Michigan

August 28th 2012

Romney and Ryan--Virginia Announcement

It is no surprise that in the run-up to this week’s Republican National Convention, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan made their first joint campaign appearance in the key battleground state of Ohio. More interesting is that Romney and Ryan took their pre-convention tour to a Midwestern state that went for Barack Obama by double digits in 2008: Michigan.

No GOP presidential candidate has carried Michigan in almost a ­quarter-century, and four years ago Obama won here in a 16-point landslide. This November, however, Romney sees Michigan as ripe for a pickup.

Most polls show Obama leading here narrowly, but Romney strategists point out that their man is nearly tied with the president before the TV ad war between the campaigns has even begun. Michigan is one of 11 states where the Romney campaign is fully staffed with a battleground footprint and money flowing in. Read more ..


Islam on Edge

Why Revolutionary Sunni Islamism is the World’s Greatest Strategic Threat and None of it is Moderate

August 28th 2012

Islamic Terrorists

No, it sure isn’t the age of Aquarius or of Multicultural, Politically Correct love-ins. It’s the age of revolutionary Islamism, especially Sunni Islamism. And you better learn to understand what this is all about real fast.

(Shia Islamism, important mainly because of Iran and especially because of its nuclear ambitions, is number two on the threat list. But that’s not our topic today.)

Focusing on the Sunni revolutionary Islamist tidal wave, the foundation of knowledge is that there are three types and they are all bad, very bad. A lot of people are going to be misinforming you about this and getting others—never themselves, of course—killed.

Sometimes people ask me why I use the phrase “revolutionary” Sunni Islamism. The reason is to remind everyone that this is a revolutionary movement like those of the past that seek to use a variety of strategies and tactics–of which violence might be only one–to seize, hold, and use state power to transform societies. Some ask why I use the word “Islamism” and the reason is because this is a specific, conscious set of organized political movements. However theology is related to this issue the problem is political, not theological.  Anyone who watched over decades, as I have, how the radicals had to sell the idea that “jihad” today meant picking up guns, cutting off people’s heads, overthrowing governments, and assembling mobs of thousands screaming for death and destruction, would have no illusion that they had an easy time of it. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Republicans Cannot Duck the Abortion Issue

August 27th 2012

Star Parker, CURE

When Republicans turn away from moral issues, it cedes the high moral ground to the other party. Republican Party operatives, who wasted no time indicting their Missouri Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin for his interview faux pas on abortion, may bear more responsibility than Akin himself for the mess that has been created.

Akin's statement, suggesting low probability of conception in cases of 'legitimate rape," was barely coherent and was said with neither force nor conviction. He said it was a view he "understood from doctors." And soon after, he apologized.

Akin has served six terms in Congress with a consistent, unblemished conservative record. The fact that leaders of his own party joined hands with liberals, thereby legitimizing them, and body-slammed Akin microseconds after his unfortunate and easily disabused remark, shows there's more going on.

What's going on is these influential Republicans don't want any kind of discussion about abortion. This campaign, in their view, is supposed to just be about the lousy economy.

But for Republicans to turn away from moral issues doesn't neuter the campaign of them. It cedes the high moral ground to the other party. And suggesting that fixing the economy is like fixing your broken air conditioner -- that it's not fundamentally a question about human behavior, choices and values -- makes Republicans amoral on this central issue.

Far from hiding from moral convictions, or lack thereof, Democrats showcase their values with pride. Word is that the president of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards, has a prime speaking slot at the Democratic National Convention. Democrats are proud to associate publicly with the largest abortion provider in the nation. There is no shame that a few weeks ago a young black woman bled to death, lying neglected for five hours in a Planned Parenthood clinic in Chicago, after a botched abortion. Read more ..


Healthcare on Edge

A Blueprint for Putting Patients First

August 27th 2012

Obamacare Protest

The insurmountable problems with Obamacare are well documented. It is unworkable and moves the health care system further in the wrong direction, increasing costs to families and adding to the country’s debt. It also empowers the government—not the individual patient—to control health care dollars and decisions. Over time, Americans will be more dependent on the government and government programs for their health care.

For those who believe in more freedom, less government, and lower health care costs, there is a better way. First, there is no “fixing” Obamacare; it must be fully repealed. The underlying law is so flawed that instead of trying to right its wrongs, it is better to just start over.

Once Obamacare is repealed, the next Congress must take transparent and thoughtful steps to help solve the problems that remain in the health care system by putting power back in the hands of the American people. Congress should focus on the main obstacles that still stand in the way of reaching a true patient-centered, market-based model—by reforming Medicare, Medicaid, and the tax treatment of health insurance and enacting commonsense insurance reforms. Just as importantly, Congress should move such policy changes through the normal process so they can be fully debated and vetted—and, if necessary, on a piece-by-piece basis.  Read more ..


American Lives

JFK and His Legend: Exceptional in Death, and Life

August 27th 2012

JFK official portrait

It is said that John F. Kennedy became a legend because of the way he died. Actually, he became a legend because of the way he lived. He turned into a myth due to his tragic death; by then, he had already been a legend for quite a while. As we approach the fiftieth anniversary of Kennedy's greatest triumph -- his handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis -- it's important to keep that in mind.

Kennedy was the youngest ever person to be elected president of the United States. He was the first Roman Catholic to assume the highest political post in a country steeped in a Protestant ethos. He was a war hero. He was handsome. When he first entered the White House, after being sworn in, he was accompanied by a beautiful, Hollywood-like wife and two little children. When was the last time the people of the United States have witnessed such a scene? JFK represented a generational change, no less than a political one. Not only was he the youngest person ever to be elected president, but his entourage of advisers was striking for its youth.

Kennedy's election ignited a sense of hope reminiscent, in part, to what took place following the election of Barack Obama in 2008. Obama, too, is young and handsome, with two little children and a young wife. Moreover, he's the first African American to be elected president, no less of a feat than having a Roman Catholic elected back in 1960. Both studied at Harvard. Both chose as vice presidential candidates two senior and experienced senators. The similarities, though, stop there.

Kennedy came from a very wealthy family; Obama does not. Kennedy came from a socially privileged background; Obama does not. Kennedy was a war hero; Obama is not. However, it should be stressed that being a war hero back then, with World War II still fresh in the minds of most people in the U.S., was an asset; not being a war hero in 2008 or 2012 is certainly not an obstacle. Read more ..


The Obama Edge

Ron Suskind's Confidence Men

August 26th 2012

Tim Geitner

When Ron Suskind published his book The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O’Neill in January 2004, he received rave reviews from many on the left. In researching that book, Suskind found the perfect source, Paul O’Neill, who had been fired from his post as Treasury Secretary. Suskind milked that source for an astonishing amount of inside dirt. The book was manna from heaven for those inclined to dislike President Bush.

Suskind’s latest effort, Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington and the Education of a President uses a similar algorithm to generate a glimpse of the current administration, this time relying on disgruntled insiders and former senior Obama administration officials. While the reception of Suskind has been quite different at The Washington Post, the New York Review of Books and The New York Times, Suskind is, after two such books, at least vying to become that most valuable of journalists, the fellow that everyone in any administration feels they must confide in, else their history will be written by rivals. Read more ..


India on Edge

The Limits of Freedom in the Social Media Network--Tested in India

August 26th 2012

Computer User India

Where do you draw the line on free speech when extremists use social media to spread rumors that send thousands of people fleeing their homes in panic? And what about when political activists impersonate the prime minister on social media to put out offensive material to ridicule him?

Those are the questions India has faced in recent weeks as the world's largest democracy finds itself wrestling with what to do with Twitter -- the world's loudest public megaphone. The most urgent issue since mid-July is how to stop extremists in two rival communities stoking a full-scale sectarian conflict. The extremists have been using Twitter to spread rumors that each side is attacking the other across India and supporting the charges with falsified pictures of purported victims.

The two communities are both native to the northeastern state of Assam but have diasporas in cities across the country after a bloody clash in 1993. In that clash, the local Bodo tribe evicted local Muslim Indians from disputed land before thousands of members of both groups sought refuge or migrated to other parts of India, where they live uneasily together. Read more ..


Justice on Edge

Rubashkin Brief Hammers Home the Injustice

August 25th 2012

Sholom Rubashkin

In a brilliant, hard-hitting reply brief, attorneys Nathan Lewin and Paul Clement shredded the Government’s arguments challenging Sholom Rubahskin’s “cert” petition to the Supreme Court. The brief hammered home the injustice of the case which it says “must not stand.”

To briefly sum up the relay of legal filings to the Supreme Court:

• The April “cert” petition asked the Supreme Court to overturn the 8th Circuit Court of Appeal’s ruling which denied Sholom Mordechai’s motion for a re-trial, and upheld the outrageous 27-year sentence.

• The 8th Circuit’s ruling rejected the defendant’s Rule 33 motion, based on newly discovered evidence (through a FOIA lawsuit), that the trial had been compromised by the lack of an impartial judge.

• The 8th Circuit insisted that they could not even consider the trial’s alleged flaws, because only new evidence that offered proof of the defendant’s innocence could be grounds for a retrial. That rigid stance in effect said that even if it were proven beyond a doubt that the judge or jury members were bribed, there would still be no legal recourse.

• The 8th Circuit’s position flies in the face of logic and justice, and conflicts with the law in other circuits, the attorneys argued in the cert petition. It so violates the bedrock constitutional right to a fair trial that it requires Supreme Court intervention. Read more ..


America on Edge

Why are We Americans so Confused?

August 24th 2012

lady liberty

When I was back in junior high school, there was a civics teacher who put forth the proposition that democracy depends on one simple principle: People are rational. Give them free access to information, and they’ll think things through logically to figure out what policies are best not just for themselves but for the whole nation.

The latest poll from the Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation gives some support to that proposition. 67 percent of this sampling of 3,130 Americans understand that “there are many goods and services which would not be available to ordinary people without government intervention.” Only 29 percent disagree.

As a group they are more worried about jobs and health costs than the federal deficit. 45 percent think Democratic economic policies help them; only 37 percent say that about the GOP.

To be fair, the group sampled was a bit more liberal than in most other polls. 34 percent identify as Democrats and only 25 percent as Republicans; 29 percent declared themselves liberal on most political matters, which is more than you see in most polls. They favor Obama over Romney by a solid margin, 50 percent to 43 percent. Read more ..


The Obama Edge

Dempsey Takes Sides in SEALs v. Obama Battle Over Leaks

August 24th 2012

General Martin Dempsey

President Barack Obama's selection for the U.S. military's chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff surprised former military officers and pro-military conservatives when he decided to take sides in the heated political battle between the Obama administration and former members of the U.S. Navy SEALs, Delta Force and the Central Intelligence agency on board his flight returning from Iraq and Afghanistan on Wednesday night.

Army Gen. Martin Dempsey complained about former military personnel using "the uniform for partisan politics" and that such boldness may "erode the trust the American people have in their [own] military." While Gen. Dempsey answered a reporter's question regarding a group of Navy SEALs, who created a political action committee to combat the alleged leaks allegedly emanating from the Obama administration, Dempsey did not indicate what steps he's personally taken to prevent future leaks that special operations officers and enlisted men claim are emanating from the upper-echelon of the Obama White House. The chairman told reporters that he and his fellow commanders are "the stewards of the profession of arms, and must ensure service members don’t cross an important line." Read more ..


Ethiopia on Edge

Ethiopia Post-Meles: Washington Should Encourage Reforms

August 23rd 2012

Meles Zenawi of ethiopia

On August 21, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi passed away. Having come to power in 1991 following the overthrow of the communist Mengistu regime, Meles became a regional leader and a controversial partner to the United States. Meles’s autocratic tendencies and tight-fisted economic policies made him a divisive leader.

With his departure, the U.S. has an unprecedented opportunity to encourage democracy and economic reform and bolster the security partnership between the two nations.

The U.S. has an interest in preventing the establishment of safe havens for terrorism that can serve as a base for organized transnational terrorist campaigns against the U.S., its allies, and their interests. Ethiopia’s southern neighbor Somalia has turned into a hub for terrorists who have attacked U.S. partners in the region and expressed a willingness to strike the U.S. In response, the U.S. has developed a network of partners in the region to counter such threats; among them is Ethiopia. Read more ..



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