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Domestic Terrorism

Brian Ross' Brain Cramp

July 25th 2012

Jim holmes

If ABC News does fire Brian Ross, he could always find a job working for Aaron Sorkin. Ross, a veteran investigative reporter for ABC News, blew it Friday morning when he suggested that the Aurora, Colo., shooting suspect, Jim Holmes, might be connected with the "tea party."

"There is a Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado, page on the Colorado tea party site as well. Talking about him joining the tea party last year. Now, we don't know if this the same Jim Holmes," Ross ominously informed "Good Morning America" host George Stephanopoulos, who thought the news "might be significant." Or it might not.

Actually, it definitely isn't significant. The fifty-something tea party Holmes, we soon learned, wasn't the same guy as the twenty-something mass-slaying suspect. Brent Bozell of the conservative watchdog outfit the Media Research Center calls Ross' statement a "brazen attempt to smear the tea party."

And other conservatives, particularly tea party members, have every right to be angry. The list of calumnies and distortions about them is too lengthy to recount here. They've been cast as dangerous, racist, fascistic and murderous. The most famous example is the seemingly instantaneous effort — ginned up by partisans but given ample credence by the mainstream media — to turn Jared Lee Loughner, the suspect in the 2011 Tucson shootings that killed six people and wounded former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, into a right-wing golem conjured by Fox News, Sarah Palin and the tea parties.

That said, I still don't think Bozell & Co. are quite right when they see Ross' "reporting" as deliberate. For that, Ross would have needed to know what he was saying was untrue. I have to believe Ross didn't want to get the story wrong. It would be nice to know if Ross checked to see if there were any Jim Holmes around Aurora who were connected to the Occupy Wall Street movement or any who were Muslims. Or was the tea party simply the first place he looked? And if so, why? Read more ..


Venezuela on Edge

Hugo Chavez Prefers Fruit Juice over Imperialist Coca-Cola and Pepsi

July 24th 2012

Hugo Chavez infirm

New York City isn’t the only place in the world where preventing the consumption of sugary sodas has become a political imperative. In his televised broadcast yesterday, Venezuela’s Comandante, Hugo Chavez, urged his viewers to safeguard their waistlines by ditching Coca-Cola and Pepsi in favor of a locally-produced fruit juice.

Reports the Associated Press:

Chavez says consumers should buy “Uvita,” a grape juice made by state-run Corpozulia as a means of increasing the consumption of Venezuelan-made products instead of buying sugary sodas made by foreign companies.

Venezuela’s socialist leader often dispenses advice to supporters during his marathon televised speeches, calling on them to eat healthy foods, get plenty of exercise, and avoid drugs and alcohol.
Read more ..


Obama and Israel

Hillary’s Slap to Israel

July 24th 2012

Hillary in Israel

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took 24 hours of her international tour to stop in Israel, her first visit in two years. Her trip was mostly dedicated to uttering meaningless platitudes about Obama’s commitment to Israel’s security, mainly as a preemptive defense against Republican contender Mitt Romney’s visit to Israel next week. Obama, whose pro-Israel credentials have been lacking, sent Clinton to reassure his liberal Jewish supporters before the November elections. Clinton’s trip, which should have been centered along simple niceties, will instead be remembered for the painful and insulting slap she delivered to the entire Israeli people.

Speaking at press conference on Monday night, Clinton essentially rejected any possibility of Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard ever getting out of prison. "With respect to Mr. Pollard, he was convicted of spying in 1987," Clinton said. "He was sentenced to life in prison, he is serving that sentence, and I do not have any expectations that that is going to change." The heads of the Knesset Pollard Lobby revealed that Clinton’s staffers prevented them from delivering a letter signing by all Jewish faction heads pleading for Pollard’s freedom.  These harsh rebuffs come in the midst of ever increasing calls from American and Israeli officials for Pollard’s release, among them Israeli President Peres. Last month, before being awarded by Obama with the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, Peres presented Obama with a petition signed by over 70,000 Israelis, among them distinguished figures, in support of clemency for Pollard. Since then, the only official response from the Obama administration has been a cold silence, even as Pollard’s health continues to decline. Read more ..


Heathcare on Edge

One Small-print Benefit of Health Reform

July 24th 2012

medicine and money #2

I’ve often said the U.S. health care system is so complex that trying to understand it makes your hair hurt. Case in point: the Affordable Care Act runs more than 2,000 pages. I’ll grant you that it’s a massive piece of legislation—but lawmakers felt that’s what was needed to fix at least some of the problems that resulted from the helter-skelter way our health care system developed.

This complexity also helps explain why it has been so difficult for the Obama administration to communicate how the numerous provisions of the law will likely benefit average Americans. And it also explains why so many journalists covering health care often do little more than “he said, she said” reporting. Going deeper requires a willingness to figure out how to make arcane but important parts of the system interesting and relevant.

I’ll never forget being told by a reporter for a major financial publication while I was still at Cigna that her editor would not let her use the term “reinsurance” in a story she was writing about my firm—even though the company had just disclosed having to take a big charge against earnings because of problems within the company’s reinsurance operations. She said her editor believed readers simply couldn’t wrap their heads around the concept of reinsurance. As part of their risk management efforts, insurers buy “reinsurance” from other insurance firms to reduce their exposure to unexpected high claims from policyholders. The resinsurer assumes a portion of the risk. Read more ..


The New Egypt

“Yankee Go Home!”—from the Good Guys

July 24th 2012

Clinton in Egypt

The interesting news was not that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was pelted with stuff while visiting Cairo, the important issue was who was doing the pelting. Once upon a time, anti-American radicals threw things at U.S. leaders. But now…

Reportedly, the hurlers of objects were people from the Free Egyptians Party and other Egyptian liberals. At the same time, leading Christians, including Naguib Sawiris who is the man behind that party and perhaps the most outspoken anti-Islamist figure in Egypt today, refused to meet with Clinton. Why? Because these people see the Obama Administration as an ally of the Muslim Brotherhood. That might sound far-fetched to the mainstream media, but it is taken for granted in much of the Middle East. In the articles of liberal Arabs; the statements of Persian Gulf Arab establishment figures; the conversations of Syrian, Turkish, Iranian, and Lebanese oppositionists, the idea that the U.S. government is now helping the Islamists is taken for granted.

Let me repeat that: It is taken for granted. Read more ..


Healthcare on Edge

States Should Wait Before Accepting Obamacare

July 23rd 2012

obamacare

The Supreme Court upheld Obamacare’s individual mandate to purchase health insurance, but it also struck down part of the law. That part—forcing states to expand their Medicaid programs—offers governors some much-needed relief.

Expanding Medicaid, the government health insurance program for the poor and disabled, was one of President Obama’s main ways to increase the number of insured people through Obamacare. This was no magic solution for the uninsured, especially since Medicaid is in need of reform, not expansion.

States’ share of the cost of Medicaid is already crushing state budgets. “In the past decade, Medicaid spending has increased at nearly twice the rate of states’ tax revenue,” according to a new report.The only ways to expand Medicaid are to raise taxes, cut other state programs, or slash health care providers’ reimbursements in Medicaid even more. And so far, the majority of America’s governors have said they won’t do it. Read more ..


Puerto Rico on Edge

Puerto Rico's Tentative Mission to the Anglo-Sphere

July 23rd 2012

Gov Luis Fortuno
Gov. Luis Fortuño of Puerto Rico

With an electoral season approaching, the islands comprising Puerto Rico have once more become the center of debate and conflict. Recently, the current Governor of Puerto Rico and statehood advocate Luis Fortuño introduced a mandatory bilingual public-education program for all students on the islands. The initiative, called “Generation Bilingual,” emphasizes the importance of English proficiency among the islanders. Ultimately, his ambitious program aims to graduate a 100 percent English-Spanish bilingual class from secondary schools by 2022.

Given the economic upheaval and rise in violent crime on the island, Fortuño’s proposition is rather timely, and may reflect his efforts to regain popularity as many islanders lose faith in his conservative administration. The unemployment rate of roughly 14.2 percent has driven the local population to search for a desperate solution to its lingual and other woes.

As a member of the local New Progressive Party (PNP) and U.S. Republican Party, Fortuño has had his motives for this program called into question. Los Penepes, or PNP party members, are generally associated with statehood advocacy, and members of the Republican Party have emphasized English proficiency as a prerequisite for island statehood. To this end, there is concern for underlying political intentions. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Entrepreneurs—Not Politicians—Build Prosperity

July 22nd 2012

Star Parker

I think it’s a sport for President Barack Obama to make outrageous statements like “If you’ve got a business—you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen,” which he said in a recent campaign trip to Roanoke, Va.—and then watch Republicans go predictably bananas. Certainly the multimillionaire business supporters of the president on Wall Street and in Hollywood know this is absurd. Anyone with the mildest understanding of business and capitalism knows this is absurd.

Yet the president struck at the heart of what makes capitalism tick—individual freedom and personal responsibility—without having his polling numbers in the week that followed budge. His re-election probability on Intrade.com actually ticked up two and half points. We are reaching dangerous critical mass of those in our country who have enough stake in big government—whether they are employed by it, collecting benefits from it, or businesses getting favors from it—that political protection is commanding a higher premium than freedom. If Americans want prosperity, we need a grand reawakening to the incontrovertible fact that its source is entrepreneurs unfettered by meddling politicians.

Apple Inc. is now the most valuable company in the world. Its recent stock price puts its valuation at around $560 billion, more than $150 billion more than America’s biggest oil company, ExxonMobil. Fifteen years ago, in 1997, when Steve Jobs returned as CEO of Apple, the company was worth less than $3 billion—about half a percent of its worth today. Estimates then were that Apple was several months away from bankruptcy.

John Lilly, a former Apple employee, now a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, blogged after Jobs’s death about a talk that Jobs gave to employees shortly after his return. Apple was losing money, its stock was languishing, there were rumors about the company being acquired, and Jobs was asked about a suggestion that the company should just shut down. He concluded his response with: “If you want to make Apple great again, let’s get going. If not, get the hell out.” The blogger continues, “I think it’s not an overstatement to say that just about everyone in the room loved him at that point, would have followed him off a cliff if that’s where he led.” Read more ..


America on Edge

The Essence of Hypocrisy on Abortion

July 22nd 2012

Armstrong_Williams

Essence magazine claims to have a “motivating message” for black women, and to “speak directly to a Black woman's spirit, her heart and her unique concerns. Every month black women rely on Essence for editorial content designed to help them move their lives forward personally, professionally, intellectually and spiritually.” The magazine must think that black women will be moved forward spiritually by Planned Parenthood, because the largest abortion provider in the United States, one that kills 300,000 American babies annually, is sponsoring the 2012 Essence Music Festival in New Orleans.

According to Planned Parenthood executive vice-president Dawn Laguens, one of organization's goals in sponsoring this event is “to educate festival attendees about health disparities in the African-American community.” I'm guessing one of those disparities isn't the shocking, shocking, shocking abortion rate. According to the Guttmacher Institute—Planned Parenthood's very own research and propaganda wing—African-Americans, roughly 13 percent of the population, have 30 percent of all abortions in the United States, the highest rate of any racial group. Statistics from 2010 show that in New York City, blacks, who make up roughly one-quarter of the population, get 45 percent of the abortions.

No, that disparity doesn't bother anyone at Planned Parenthood. The organization probably sees it as a good thing. Not only is it more business and more money for the organization, but to it, abortion is not only healthy, but empowering. If it is right, then blacks have a higher empowerment rate than whites, the highest among any group. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Senate Dems Up in 2014 Become ‘Hostages’ in Tax Battle

July 21st 2012

Norquist USE CAPTION
Credit: Gage Skidmore

Conservative anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist says the 20 Senate Democrats facing re-election in 2014 will be the “hostages” who will ensure that President Obama does not raise the Bush-era tax rates. Democrats have been talking tough in recent days about drawing a hard line on extending the Bush tax rates only for families making below $250,000.

Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.), the Democratic co-chairman of the 2011 deficit-reduction supercommittee, said Monday that Democrats would let income tax rates rise across the board if Republicans refuse to drop their opposition to raising new taxes. Senate Democratic leaders have endorsed her declaration.

But Norquist thinks vulnerable senators up for re-election in two years will force Democrats to back down, as they did in 2010 by extending virtually all of the Bush tax cuts for two years.
“Last time Republicans won the House and [were] a little strengthened in the Senate and Obama folded completely. We’re going to be stronger this time than after last time; our hostages are the 20 Democrats up in ’14. We’ll send them either piece by piece or one at a time over to the White House to negotiate,” Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform and author of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge stated. Read more ..


Healthcare on Edge

The End of Welfare Reform As We Know It

July 21st 2012

Work training

The Obama Administration made yet another end run around Congress last week—this time, to gut the successful welfare reform law of 1996. If this is allowed to stand, it will mean rewinding years of progress that lifted millions out of poverty.

Before the 1996 reform, welfare was a one-way handout: Government mailed checks to recipients who did nothing in return. The new program the reform law established, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), changed all that. It required able-bodied welfare recipients to work, prepare for work, or at least look for work as a condition of receiving aid. Welfare reform turned “welfare” into “workfare.”

At the time, liberals denounced the new law and predicted dire consequences for America’s needy. They said the reform would do “serious injury to American children” and “substantially increase poverty and destitution.” There was “absolutely no evidence that this radical idea has even the slightest chance of success,” they said, crying that “No piece of legislation in U.S. history has increased the severity of poverty so sharply.” Read more ..


Healthcare on Edge

Obama Pans the Private Equity that Will Save Our Lives

July 21st 2012

Obamacare Protest

Today, most patients needing long-term dialysis no longer get it in hospitals but go to less costly, more convenient outpatient clinics. Routine problems like hernias are fixed in outpatient surgery offices; while complex issues like cancer are handled in specialized centers with expertise to better manage these problems, at lower cost.

These and other innovations in delivering medical care, from the advent of outpatient rehabilitation to creation of the first HMO, were pioneered in the last few decades through a common origin: they were incubated in start-ups that were headed by entrepreneurs and backed by venture capital.

Advances in the way that health care services are delivered, most now taken for granted, arose the same way as progress in other spheres of commerce -- as a result of innovators who risked capital in search of profits. These new ideas are essential if we're going to solve our long-term fiscal woes by increasing productivity in the healthcare sector to get more medical care for each dollar we spend. Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

What Comes After Assad in Syria?

July 20th 2012

President Bashir al-Assad of Syria

The fighting and bombings in Damascus suggest the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is finally coming to an end. It will likely be ugly and dangerous. Some kind of international peacekeeping force is probably going to be needed, perhaps sooner rather than later.

The brutal and violent civil war between Assad loyalists and the rebels has served to inflame bitter sectarian tensions in Syria. Many Sunnis hated the long dominant Alawite minority and its Christian supporters before the conflict began in March 2011. After all, Bashar’s father, Hafez al-Assad, killed up to 20,000 Sunnis in Hama in February 1982. It was an appalling mass slaughter. The legacy of Hama terrified Syrians for 30 years. After the many massacres of the last year, the Sunni desire for revenge has only become stronger.

So, paradoxically, one of the priorities of the international community after Assad falls will be to protect the Alawite community and its allies from vengeance. Most live along the mountainous coast bordering the Mediterranean Sea, and they may try to set up a ministate there, an Alawi fortress to protect themselves. Read more ..


Books on Edge

Memo to DOJ: Drop the Apple E-Books Suit

July 20th 2012

E-book readers

Recently the Department of Justice filed suit against Apple and major publishers, alleging that they colluded to raise prices in the digital books market. While the claim sounds plausible on its face, the suit could wipe out the publishing industry as we know it, making it much harder for young authors to get published.

The suit will restore Amazon to the dominant position atop the e-books market it occupied for years before competition arrived in the form of Apple. If that happens, consumers will be forced to accept whatever prices Amazon sets.

All of us will lose the vibrant resources a diverse publishing universe provides. As Scott Turow, president of the Author's Guild, has explained, the Justice Department's suit is "grim news for everyone who cherishes a rich literary culture." These losses will be particularly felt in New York, which is home not only to many publishers, but also to a burgeoning digital innovation industry. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Republicans Slam Obama on Syria After Defeat of UN Resolution

July 19th 2012

Bombing Hits Syria March 18 2012

Republican lawmakers renewed their criticism of President Obama's handling of the crisis in Syria after a U.S.-backed sanctions resolution failed again at the United Nations.

Thursday's vote was the third time that Russia and China had vetoed sanctions against President Bashar Assad's government since a revolt against his regime erupted 17 months ago. Senate hawks have been pushing the Obama administration to arm the rebels or take other unilateral measures to stop the bloodshed and replace Assad.

“And the President watches the massacre continue...,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the top Republican on the Senate Armed Forces Committee, said in a tweet. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who is viewed as a contender to be Mitt Romney's running mate, also expressed his disapproval. “UN Security Council vote on Syria shows that the need for US leadership is more urgent than ever,” he wrote in a tweet. “Now is not the time to lead from behind.” Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Romney's Taxes: Tell it Early, Tell it All, Tell it Yourself

July 19th 2012

Ask Mitt

Yes, Gov. Romney — that subtitle to my memoir concerning the rules we learned the hard way at the Clinton White House in 1996-98 about getting the truth out yourself proactively, even if it is a bad-news story, applies to you and the issue of your tax returns.

Yes, Gov. Romney — that subtitle to my memoir concerning the rules we learned the hard way at the Clinton White House in 1996-98 about getting the truth out yourself proactively, even if it is a bad-news story, applies to you and the issue of your tax returns.

It applies to everyone facing bad news — in business, politics and life. The only exception is if putting the facts out can land you in jail. In that case, I recommend forgetting about crisis management rules and relying on the advice of a good criminal lawyer. If you stay where you are, you are defying history — in both parties. As my favorite source of truth, Glenn Kessler, pointed out in his Monday “Fact-Checker” column for the Washington Post, virtually every other presidential candidate in both parties going back to FDR released many years of tax returns when they ran for president against the incumbent. Why wouldn’t you too? Read more ..


The Obama Edge

Labor Department: Disappointing 'Green Jobs' Creation

July 18th 2012

Solyndra HQ 02

The U.S. Department of Labor promised Americans it would train close to 125,000 Americans for new "green jobs," but less than half that number actually received any training. Of those, about 8,000 were placed in jobs, yet only 1,300 workers had jobs lasting more than six months, according to the Obama Labor Department's own internal study that's been all but ignored during the current election cycle.

The Solyndra scandal ignited a firestorm on Capitol Hill among congressional leaders who chastised President Barack Obama for responding to an economic recession with a failed “green energy subsidy experiment.” But the firestorm seems to have been extinguished by Democrat Party operatives and their allies who've infiltrated the news media in order to prop up a failed president, claims a political strategist and attorney, Michael S. Baker. Read more ..


America on Edge

Bring Back the American Dream? It’s Not That Hard.

July 18th 2012

Graduates

Restoring opportunity in the United States is not terribly complicated. It will require an activist government and individual responsibility. That means a strong focus on job creation right now, combined with efforts to reduce debt, improve education, and strengthen families over the longer-run.

Success on these fronts is undermined not by a lack of knowledge about what to do, but by partisan arguments that ignore the kind of common-sense consensus that might otherwise prevail.

An update of my earlier work on economic mobility in the US, coauthored with Julia Isaacs and Ron Haskins and recently released by the Pew Charitable Trusts, confirms that there is less economic mobility in America than many believe, especially at the top and bottom of the distribution of income and wealth. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Sodomy "For the Sake of Islam"

July 17th 2012

Hamas head

As a possibly convenient way of rationalizing what one desires while still being able to feel "pure," anything and everything that is otherwise banned becomes permissible. All that supposedly matters is one's intention, or niyya. --

Not only did the original "underwear bomber" Abdullah Hassan al-Asiri hide explosives in his rectum to assassinate Saudi Prince Muhammad bin Nayef—they met in 2009 after the 22-year-old holy warrior "feigned repentance for his jihadi views"—but al-Asiri apparently had fellow jihadis repeatedly sodomize him to "widen" his anus in order to accommodate the explosives— all in accordance with the fatwas [religious edicts] of Islamic clerics.

A 2010 Arabic news video that is making the rounds on the Internet gives the details. Apparently a cleric, one Abu al-Dema al-Qasab, informed jihadis of an "innovative and unprecedented way to execute martyrdom operations: place explosive capsules in your anus. However, to undertake this jihadi approach you must agree to be sodomized for a while to widen your anus so it can hold the explosives." Read more ..


Healthcare on Edge

Why Insurers Want ObamaCare’s Medicaid Business

July 17th 2012

obamacare

The House of Representatives voted for the 33rd time last week to repeal ObamaCare, and for the 33rd time it was an exercise in futility. The Senate will ignore the House vote and allow the reform law to move forward, just as the Supreme Court did last month.

House members are well aware of all that, so the vote was all for show. And GOP leaders have no intention of repealing the Affordable Care Act because their friends in the health insurance industry are counting on major provisions of the law going forward, especially the expansion of Medicaid. Don’t be fooled by Republican governors like Florida’s Rick Scott and Texas’s Rick Perry, who are saying they’ll opt out of the Medicaid expansion now that the Supreme Court says that’s allowable. When the Feds start doling out billions in 2014 to bring an additional 16 million Americans into the Medicaid program, they’ll be on board. Trust me.

Want proof that Big Insurance has figured out how to make a lot of money off reform? WellPoint announced on July 9 that it will pay nearly $5 billion to buy the country’s largest private Medicaid managed care company, AmeriGroup. Rest assured that lobbyists for WellPoint and other firms wanting to get their hands on that new Medicaid money will have a “here’s how it has to be” talk with their buddies on Capitol Hill. Read more ..


Middle East on Edge

Israel is in Good Shape Because So Many Others Decided Not to Be

July 17th 2012

Israel Airport

The more I think about Israel’s security situation at this moment, the better it looks. Obviously, this is counter-intuitive given the media bias, academic distortions, and campaigns for sanctions of various kinds. And, of course, Israel starts from a basis of facing far more security challenges than any other modern state. Still, by Israeli standards, the outlook is good.

On the surface, the “Arab Spring” along with the surge of revolutionary Islamism certainly looks bad but let’s examine the shorter-term implications. By reentering a period of instability and continuing conflict within each country, the Arabic-speaking world is committing a self-induced setback. Internal battles will disrupt Arab armies and economies, reducing their ability to fight against Israel. Indeed, nothing could be more likely to handicap development than Islamist policies.

While one shouldn’t depend too much on expecting Arab regimes to be too busy dealing with domestic transformation to want to stage foreign adventures against Israel, this is far more true than in past decades. And even if they would like to attack Israel they are less able to do so effectively given their disrupted societies, weakened armies, uncertain alliances, and lack of Western sponsorship. Read more ..


Education on Edge

Like Charter Schools, Britain's Academies Aim High

July 17th 2012

British public school

Seventeen seventy-six is a number with great resonance for Americans, but you wouldn’t expect it to be featured on a British-government website. But there it is, on the home page of the United Kingdom’s Department of Education: “As of 1 April 2012, there are 1,776 academies open in England.”

“Academies,” as you might expect, means something different in Britain than in the United States. They are, approximately, what we would call charter schools. And there are 1,776 of them largely because of the energy and determination of British education secretary Michael Gove.

Britain, like America, has gotten pretty dismal results for years from its public schools — “state schools,” in their terminology. (British “public schools” are expensive boarding schools; they include Eton, which produced David Cameron and twelve other prime ministers, and Fettes, its Scottish equivalent, which graduated former prime minister Tony Blair.) Read more ..


The Gender Edge

Whiny Women Unite

July 17th 2012

Rosie riveter

Gender politics suck. First, we get the whiny litany from Anne-Marie Slaughter about how this 50-speech-a-year, former policy planning director, Princeton dean and mom can’t have it all. Thanks Anne-Marie. Who has it all? Then we get this tripe from some Progressive Policy Institute woman who’s grumpy there aren’t more women at think tanks. Even at the “venerable” Brookings Institution, she moans, there aren’t too many women; but (duh) “right-wing think tanks” are the “worst offenders.” We “look like the membership of Augusta National.” Oh please. I won’t speak for Heritage, but at AEI, we don’t give a damn what your gender or your color is; we don’t care how you put on your pants in the morning, whether you wear a skirt, or if you once played French horn in a Barcelona band. (OK, that’s unacceptable.)"We care about the work people do, the quality of the product, the difference we can make in Washington and for the nation."

We care about the work people do, the quality of the product, the difference we can make in Washington and for the nation. Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

Will U.S. Suffer Tragic Consequences with Iran?

July 16th 2012

Strait of Homurz1
Strait of Hormuz

Whenever faced with a rogue nation, the United States more often than not bends to the will of the United Nations or other entity that favors economic sanctions. This holds true for the current Administration of President Barack Obama as evidenced this week when he gave American and foreign companies waivers so they might continue their business relationships with Iran. With the recent three-day testing of missiles by the Iranian military, the world has been put on notice that this Islamofascist nation will continue to be the fly in the ointment for world peace.

The United States National Security Strategy recently acknowledged that the U.S. faces challenges from Iran, including Iran's proliferation efforts and involvement in international terrorism including Iranian intelligence officers in South America and its proxy army Hezbollah in the Western Hemisphere. To address these concerns, the United States employs a range of tools, including diplomatic pressure, a military presence in the Gulf, and economic sanctions. Read more ..


Islam in the Americas

Sweet Deals for China and Pan-Islamism South of the Rio Grande

July 15th 2012

Raul Castro and Hu Jintao
Raul Castro and Hu Jintao

A real sweet deal last week featuring interest-free loans between China and Cuba is redoubling the influence of president Hu Jintao in Latin America and the Caribbean. While little talked about here, Chinese news agencies were reporting widely on their government’s fawning over Cuban president Raul Castro, in his first official visit to China to meet Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao.

In Beijing, China agreed to support Cuba’s development of technology and health services and Hu also called for more cooperation in trade, energy and biotechnology and promised to open a zero percent interest line of credit to support Cuban agriculture. Trade between China and Cuba has grown from $590 million in 2004 to $1.8 billion in 2010, making China now Cuba’s biggest trading partner after Venezuela.

With Beijing showing Iran-friendly Cuba as its regional face card, the China-Cuba alliance could disrupt the space where Israel and China operate their sensitive military and high tech channels, which are always a bone of contention with Washington. From Mexico southward, the adoption of Cuba by China also complicates relations between Tel Aviv and South American nations who host large Jewish populations and officially support nuclear cooperation with Tehran and Havana under the aegis of the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Read more ..


Latin America on Edge

Bringing an End to Banana Republics and their Banana Oil

July 15th 2012

BAnanas and guns

Central America, Ecuador, and Colombia supply the majority of the bananas to the United States. The region’s banana industry features an oligopic market dominated by three U.S.-owned multinational corporations, Chiquita (formerly United Fruit Company), Dole (formerly Standard Fruit Company), and Del Monte. From their massive plantations spread throughout Latin America, this “Wild Bunch” controls 65 percent of the world’s banana exports. The companies’ large size and ability to produce bananas very cheaply have allowed them to dominate the world market. Unfortunately, small-scale Latin American banana producers and plantation workers bear the cost of these low prices.

History: Bananas in Latin America

The Portuguese introduced bananas to the Western Hemisphere in the 1500s and began cultivating them in Brazil. Bananas existed in relative obscurity until the 1880s, when Jules Verne published a detailed description of the fruit in “Around the World in Eighty Days,” sparking an insatiable demand in North America and Europe. The Boston Fruit Company (later United Fruit Company), aided by its “Great White Fleet,” was the first corporation to export bananas cultivated in Latin America around the world, and held a complete monopoly of the market until the establishment of Standard Fruit Company in 1924. Both companies were notorious for vertical integration and often maintained production monopolies in their geographic zones of cultivation. Read more ..


Israel and America

Has Israel been Frozen Out by Obama?

July 15th 2012

Obama and Israel

Top security experts in Israel are worried about the Obama Administration’s attitude to radical Muslim governments in the region and by Obama’s willingness to freeze Israel out of two recent high-level counter-terror conferences.

Israel broke the back of Arab suicide terror attacks in 2002, reducing them to near zero, but the US did not invite Israel to a counter-terror conference in Turkey last month, nor to a similar parley in Madrid last week, apparently to placate the Islamist government of Turkey, which has itself supported the Hamas terror group in Gaza. Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

Fast and Furious, Middle East Style?

July 15th 2012

Bombing in Syria Mar 2012

Here’s still another of a series of self-serving leaks from the Obama Administration. In this case, however, different from the half-dozen previous examples, it reveals something very important about policy. Call it, “Fast and Furious, Middle East Style.”

In the Fast and Furious operation, the U.S. government funneled weapons to Mexican drug gangs. Now it is funneling weapons to anti-American, antisemitic, radical forces in Syria. That is, the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood. I am certainly not saying all the arms are going to that movement’s cadre and units they control. Yet what we know gives us ample reason to believe that it is the biggest beneficiary.

Suppose that there was one Mexican drug gang that was a bit more brutal. Would Fast and Furious then have been a great idea because it left that one out of the weapons’ distribution? No.

Yet that is precisely what is happening in Syria. Read closely the New York Times article on this matter because it reflects the precise information leaked by “American officials and Arab intelligence officers.” Read more ..


Warped Priorities

Kudos To Nike For Dumping Penn State Following Its Crisis PR Debacle

July 14th 2012

Penn State Nike

Nike rightfully removed Joe Paterno’s name from the child-care center named after him at their corporate headquarters, and Cars.com and Sherwin-Williams also dumped their sponsorship of Penn State.  Decent people everywhere should stand up and demand that many more follow Penn State.

Early Zionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky said “Silence is Despicable”, and as Penn State was silent, the  crisis PR situation which Penn State faces is about as bad as it gets. Penn State University leaders knowingly covered up the crimes and disgusting deeds of former football assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, the child molester.  Administrators, including Joe Paterno were complicit in the silence.

The report says that the powers that be at Penn State did what they did "to avoid the consequences of bad publicity." Allow kids to be molested and avoid media? Penn State's values can’t be any clearer than that. Penn State needs to remove the Joe Paterno statue immediately and send the message that they won’t honor people who are aware of child molesters and do nothing about it - regardless of what they do in sports. They should also suspend the football program for a few years - focus on other matters instead of sports. There's plenty of education needed at this supposed “school of higher learning.” Read more ..


America on Edge

No Dissent

July 14th 2012

Armstrong_Williams

How foolish does the media look after weeks of demagoguery, now that the Court has issued two huge victories for the Left in one week? Leftists, you will recall, made outrageous accusations against the Supreme Court-the institution that, since the 1950s, more than any other, has forced godless nihilism upon our country, and then, following stare decisis, reinforced it—before they even heard these latest cases. Left-wingers like Ezra Klein accused the Court of politicking for Republicans to get them elected; President Obama—a constitutional law professor, as we’ve been reminded a zillion times in the past five years—called striking down a statute “passed with a strong majority” (read: party-line vote passed on reconciliation) “unprecedented.”

Even after a major victory for the statists, centralizers such as the New Yorker, E.J. Dionne, the Atlantic, and others made ad hominem attacks on Senior Associate Justice Scalia. His crime? Mentioning the executive branch’s decision not to enforce immigration laws in the context of a case about the executive branch not enforcing immigration laws. How dare he! Even when you lose, you’re not safe if you disagree with leftists.

The thing we conservatives hoped for was to strike down the decision on the terms on which it was offered: as an extension of the commerce clause. But that would have provided little legal bulwark against future government depredations, and would have given untold momentum to President Obama’s reelection; there would’ve been no end of unsubstantiated, heated, over-the-top rhetoric about “judicial activism” and “conservative battering rams.” What Roberts did was, ultimately, much more powerful and—dare I say it—much more conservative: Read more ..


Middle East on Edge

Does Power Really Moderate Radicals?

July 14th 2012

Behead those who say islam is violent

Julius Caesar:
Let me have men about me that are fat; Sleek-headed men and such as sleep o’ nights:
Yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.

Marc Antony:
Fear him not, Caesar; he’s not dangerous; He is a noble Roman and well given.

– William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

Caesar, of course, was right in being suspicious and Marc Antony was wrong. Result: Caesar murdered; civil war; tens of thousands killed; Marc Antony dead. Makes you think. Or at least it should.

An interesting and important question about the Middle East (and one can treat it on a global level, too) is whether being in power or running in an election inevitably moderates those who are radicals. It is automatically accepted by many people that this is so. Yet an examination of evidence shows such behavior more rare than common.

Let’s begin by pointing out that some of the problem is the unthinking transference of things that might be true in private and personal life into the political sphere. As individuals mature and have experience, they often become more moderate. And there are many cases of individual politicians “selling out” and abandoning more militant ideas to become corrupt. Yet neither case necessarily applies to systems, movements, or ideologies.

Even more questionable is the view that the difficulties of having to make decisions in government forces leaders to become more responsible. For example, they learn that money is not unlimited and therefore priorities must be set. Supposedly, they say to themselves: Hey, collecting the garbage and fixing the potholes is what’s important, forget about all this silly stuff about fundamentally transforming society, imposing the Sharia, destroying Israel, or chasing America out of the Middle East. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Why Romney Isn't Trusted

July 13th 2012

mitt romney

The demand is growing for Mitt Romney to disclose the 23 still-secret tax returns he turned over to the McCain campaign in 2008. Don’t worry. If the unpleasant details aren’t released by Romney soon, they will almost certainly be bannered as “breaking news” by a leading newspaper or television network, sourced from “well-placed Republicans” who supported McCain in 2008.

The Romney campaign raises profound questions for voters and the media. Voters do not like or trust Mitt Romney. Political commentators should thoughtfully consider why. The presidency is the most important job in the world. Commentators should question whether Romney’s career suggests that he possesses the qualifications of political integrity, compassion for all Americans, and decisiveness of command to be president and commander in chief.

Jon Huntsman called him the well-lubricated weathervane. Rick Perry, among others, has called him a vulture. More than one senior figure in his party has accused him of lying. Several GOP primary opponents said he cheated in dirty campaign ads. A growing list of Republicans have called on him to disclose his tax returns. Primary opponents warned he could be hiding harmful truths therein. His own staff called him the Etch A Sketch candidate. These are serious charges. They come from Republicans.
Read more ..


The New Egypt

Calls Begin to Destroy Egypt’s Great Pyramids

July 12th 2012

Pyramids

According to several reports in the Arabic media, prominent Muslim clerics have begun to call for the demolition of Egypt’s Great Pyramids—or, in the words of Saudi Sheikh Ali bin Said al-Rabi‘i, those “symbols of paganism,” which Egypt’s Salafi party has long planned to cover with wax. Most recently, Bahrain’s “Sheikh of Sunni Sheikhs” and President of National Unity, Abd al-Latif al-Mahmoud, called on Egypt’s new president, Muhammad Morsi, to “destroy the Pyramids and accomplish what the Sahabi Amr bin al-As could not.”

This is a reference to the Muslim Prophet Muhammad’s companion, Amr bin al-As and his Arabian tribesmen, who invaded and conquered Egypt circa 641. Under al-As and subsequent Muslim rule, many Egyptian antiquities were destroyed as relics of infidelity. While most Western academics argue otherwise, according to early Muslim writers, the great Library of Alexandria itself—deemed a repository of pagan knowledge contradicting the Koran—was destroyed under bin al-As’s reign and in compliance with Caliph Omar’s command. However, while book-burning was an easy activity in the seventh century, destroying the mountain-like pyramids and their guardian Sphinx was not—even if Egypt’s Medieval Mamluk rulers “de-nosed” the latter during target practice (though popular legend still attributes it to a Westerner, Napoleon). Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

Using Intelligence and Military Means to Bolster Diplomacy with Iran

July 12th 2012

Israeli Jet Diving

With the latest round of nuclear diplomacy ending inconclusively last week, the United States and the EU are poised to impose a new round of sanctions on Iran. Given Tehran's large cash and gold reserves and still-substantial oil income, however, sanctions alone may not make the regime more flexible in negotiations. To bolster diplomacy, and thereby diminish the prospects of military confrontation, the United States must intensify intelligence operations and use the military instrument in ways it has not been willing to thus far.

Since taking office, the Obama administration has been extremely reticent to employ the military instrument in dealing with Tehran, largely to avoid undermining nuclear diplomacy or sparking an unintended conflict. To its credit, the administration has built up the military capabilities of U.S. allies in the region, filled gaps in U.S. defenses in the Persian Gulf, and defined red lines regarding the use of force. Yet these steps do not seem to have altered Tehran's threat calculus. If diplomacy is to succeed, the United States must do just that. Read more ..


The Obama Edge

Vocal Antisemite and former Obama Local Campaign Manager Seeks Missouri State Office

July 12th 2012

PBObama contemplative

A Democratic Party caucus chairman and former Barack Obama campaign manager, MD Rabbi Alam, is not only running for secretary of state in Missouri, he is also an unabashed 9/11 Truther who believes that no Jews were killed during the al Qaeda attacks on the United States in 2001. “Why [was] 9/11 was a official holidy [sic] for all jewish [sic] people worked in the the [sic] WTC? Was 9/11 a conspiracy??” Alam wrote on a discussion forum online. “Tell me how many of the Jewish people died on the 9/11 tragedy?” he added.

The Free Beacon, a daily internet publication that interviewed the candidate at length, confronted Alam with State Department statistics showing that between 200 and 400 Jews, in addition to five Israelis, were killed on September 11. Alum questioned the validity of the numbers and stuck to his own beliefs.

But what is more startling, political strategists point out, is how someone with Alam’s views was able to climb the ranks of the Democratic Party so quickly. Alam, who also served in the U.S. military, is chairman of the National Democratic Party Asian American Caucus (NDPAAC) and he worked as a “satellite campaign manager” on the 2008 campaign that elected President Obama to office. And less than a year ago he received an invitation to the White House as a thank you. Alam also has known ties to radical Muslim clerics with extreme anti-Israel views. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Perils and Pitfalls of Ad Testing

July 11th 2012

Obama Campaign 2012

Over the next 113 days, lots of campaigns will be looking at lots of ads — nearly $10 billion worth, according to some estimates — trying to decide which are effective and which aren’t, which are worth airing and which shouldn’t be broadcast. The evidence suggests they will often be wrong, especially if they rely on instinct or focus-group testing.

A recent experiment demonstrates again that neither professionals nor the public (who constitute focus groups) can predict which ads will work and which won’t. Researchers from the Universities of Michigan and Oregon, as well as UCLA, asked members of the target population to rate the effectiveness of three anti-smoking ad campaigns. The semi-focus group consistently ranked ad campaign “B” as far and away the most effective, “C” as least effective, with A in between. Industry experts (akin to campaign consultants) ranked B and C as more effective than A. Read more ..


Kenya on Edge

Financing for a Fairer, More Prosperous Kenya

July 11th 2012

Kenya Poverty

Most governments around the world would declare their adherence to the principles of fairness and equity. But how should principles inform practical policies for allocating public spending? That question was at the heart of a two-day seminar held last week in Naivasha, Kenya.

Organised jointly by the Office of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of State for Development of Northern Kenya and other Arid lands, and the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA), and facilitated by the United Nation’s Millennium Campaign, the Naivasha seminar, Financing for a Fairer, Prosperous Kenya, addressed an ongoing public debate prompted by the adoption of a new constitution in 2010. The outcome of that debate will have profound consequences for poverty reduction in Kenya – and the issues raised have a resonance far beyond Kenya’s borders.

Adopted in 2010, the Kenyan constitution is a remarkable document. It shifts the locus of political authority away from what has been a highly centralized state toward 47 devolved counties. It enshrines far-reaching provisions on social and economic rights, including a new bill of rights. And it includes an injunction requiring all layers of government to apply the principle of “equitable sharing” to public spending, with an emphasis on “the need for affirmative action in respect of disadvantaged groups and areas.”

There are compelling grounds for policymakers in Kenya to prioritize greater equity. Wealth disparities are marked. The Gini co-efficient for wealth distribution is 0.44, which is higher than in neighboring countries like Ethiopia and Tanzania. Economic growth has been skewed toward urban centers and a narrow band of commercial farming areas, with the World Bank estimating that 80 percent of economic activity is generated in just half of the new counties. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Obama's $1 Billion Campaign War Chest a Media Pipedream?

July 10th 2012

Obama and Flag

Last year, a number of news outlets heralded the prediction that in his re-election bid in 2012 President Barack Obama's campaign would raise "an unprecedented" $1 billion in campaign contributions, but in the month of June the Obama re-election team was beaten for the second month in a row by Republican challenger Mitt Romney's team in the race for garnering campaign cash.

On Monday, Obama's re-election campaign claimed it raised a whopping $71 million in June. However, the Romney campaign brought in $106 million, in large part due to the U.S. Supreme Court upholding the unpopular Affordable Care Act, known to Americans as Obamacare.

While June's $71 million is touted as being the best fundraising month for Obama and the Democratic National Committee, Mitt Romney's fundraising is said to be astounding considering in May he also beat Obama in the race for cash by hauling in $77 million to Obama and the DNC's $60 million. Read more ..


Broken Government

Crack! Crumble. Capitol Needs Fixing

July 9th 2012

capitol building night #2

In December 1863, at the end of the bloodiest year the nation had ever seen, a different kind of struggle was ending in the nation’s capital. There, despite the grim march of war just miles away and the temptation to put every available resource into the war effort, the Statue of Freedom was hoisted atop the 8 million-pound cast-iron Capitol dome. It is said that President Lincoln drew inspiration from watching the dome rise, seeing in it a metaphor for a union that would not perish from the earth.

For a century and a half, the Capitol and its dome have served as a symbol of American democracy around the world, one of the most instantly recognizable structures on the planet, and as a stately backdrop to inaugurations, celebrations and state funerals. In a 2007 survey by the American Institute of Architects, the public ranked it as their sixth favorite piece of architecture in America.

Yet the dome is showing its age; cracks and leaks have formed, risking not only the beauty and integrity of the structure, but the safety and well-being of the thousands of people who work in and visit the Capitol every day. These problems will not go away by themselves. As Architect of the Capitol Stephen Ayers testified before the House Appropriations Committee last February, “The longer Capitol renewal projects are delayed, the conditions in these facilities will continue to deteriorate; deficiencies will grow more and more serious, and ultimately more costly to repair.” That is why the House’s recent approval of a legislative branch appropriations bill that blocks funding for dome repairs is so troubling. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Romney at the NAACP

July 8th 2012

mitt romney

It’s an awkward time for former Gov. Mitt Romney to address the NAACP — whether it’s because of the “complicated” relationship between the African-American community and the Republican Party, or the voter ID laws implemented across our country by Republican-led legislatures and governors that will disenfranchise millions of minority voters in the 2012 election, or even the audience that, while polite, is also likely skeptical of Republican policy ideas in light of the disappointment of “No Child Left Behind” that followed former President George W. Bush’s soaring rhetoric about the “soft bigotry of low expectations” and fears about the impact of the GOP-backed budget by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan (R) that could have devastating effects on communities of color.

Still, Romney walks into the room with a unique opportunity, steeped in his family’s credibility and the increasing diversity of the Mormon Church, to connect with the audience. Read more ..



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