Sunday, February 28, 2010
Global warming and man made climate change have no impact on the frequency or severity of earthquakes. Not even the most rabid environmentalists believe or assert that any human activity - - including but not limited to carbon based pollution - - impacts earthquake activity.
This will not stop celebrities on talk shows from claiming that earthquakes are caused by global warming. They will say that because they are stupid, not because it's true.
Obama plans to unveil an updated proposal this coming week, likely on Wednesday, according to press secretary Robert Gibbs. Gibbs suggested it would include concepts put forward by Republicans at the summit. One Republican who was there, Sen. Tom Coburn, was contacted Friday by the White House and asked to submit details of suggestions he made on rooting out waste and fraud from the medical system, Coburn's spokesman said.http://www.macleans.ca/article.jsp?content=w264861729
This constant unveiling of "new", "updated" and "final" healthcare plans is getting beyond laughable. Now, it's desperate and annoying.
President Barack Obama has signed a one-year extension of several provisions in the nation's main counterterrorism law, the Patriot Act. . .http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100228/ap_on_go_pr_wh/us_obama_patriot_act
The act, which was adopted in the weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, expands the government's ability to monitor Americans in the name of national security. . .
Obama's signature comes after the House voted 315 to 97 Thursday to extend the measure.
The Senate also approved the measure, with privacy protections cast aside when Senate Democrats lacked the necessary 60-vote supermajority to pass them. Thrown away were restrictions and greater scrutiny on the government's authority to spy on Americans and seize their records.
In other words, Obama signed the Patriot Act extension without the "improvements" he said were necessary and which he promised during the campaign.
Some unemployment benefits could dry up Monday. Newly laid-off workers wouldn't get federal help with health insurance premiums.http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/02/27/1503048/senator-blocks-programs.html
Road and transit bills could go unpaid, Medicare payments to doctors would stay high and rural satellite reception could be affected, all thanks to Sen. Jim Bunning's decision to block legislation that would keep alive a host of programs that expire Sunday night.
The Kentucky Republican, according to several sources, told Democratic colleagues "tough s---" Thursday when they tried to get him to change his mind.
It is amazing that one senate Republican with guts can stop fifty nine senate Democrats from doing something.
That's not the fault of the system.
And, it's not the fault of the one Republican senator.
It's the fault of the gutless fifty nine senate Democrats.
"Anybody stupid enough to give Scott Rothstein - - a man with no financial track record whatsoever - - billions of dollars in investments deserves to lose their money," Stone said.http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/02/28/1504716/former-rothstein-pal-is-set-to.html
It is surprising how all of these smart rich people trusted all of these crooks with all of their money.
I have more sympathy for the minimum wage workers getting ripped off by excessive fees at the advance check cashing stores and pawn shops. But, ripping off poor people is never news or the subject of calls for reform.
Two US Airways planes clipped wings while on the ground Saturday morning at Reagan National Airport.http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/02/27/1503708/2-us-airways-planes-clip-wings.html
Airline spokesman Morgan Durrant says no one was injured in the incident, which occurred at about 9:30 a.m. However, there was enough damage that Flight 1703 to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., had to be canceled. Durrant says all 143 passengers have been accommodated on other flights.
The other plane was a weekend shuttle arriving from LaGuardia. It had 91 passengers on board.
The same people directing traffic on the runways are responsible for the security of the airfield from incoming unauthorized flights.
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Having given up on gaining Republican support, Democrats began trying to get members of their own party to agree on a healthcare bill they can pass.http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/02/27/1503040/democrats-lining-up-votes-in-own.html
The Washington Democratic leadership has decided to try to pass healthcare reform on a "go it only", one party basis with a simple majority vote.
You can ignore whether this is legal or fair. No one in Washington cares.
But, consider the politics. If the Democrats fail, they can't blame "Republican obstructionism". The fault will be theirs alone.
Taliban militants claimed credit for a series of bombings that hit central Kabul early Friday, saying they were intended to force the U.S. and its allies to withdraw their militaries from Afghanistan.http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/02/27/1503035/taliban-claims-credit-for-bombings.html
Does anyone still think we can pacify Afghanistan and withdraw within the next year?
A House lawmaker said Friday that internal Toyota documents show the automaker deliberately withheld key vehicle design and testing evidence in lawsuits filed by Toyota drivers injured in crashes.http://www.usatoday.com/money/autos/2010-02-26-toyota-rollover-questions_N.htm
To repeat - - at least 20 people died so that Toyota could save $100 million by recalling the floor mats rather than the brake system. Shouldn't someone have been arrested by now?
White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers is stepping down three months after an uninvited couple crashed the Obama administration's first state dinner and she was heavily criticized for her role in allowing the embarrassing episode to happen.http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2010-02-26-white-house-desiree-rogers_N.htm
This is the first indication of accountability in the Obama White House.
President Obama will make an announcement sometime next week on "the way forward" in health care, spokesman Robert Gibbs said today.http://content.usatoday.com/communities/theoval/post/2010/02/obama-announces-way-forward-in-health-care-next-week/1
It seems as if Obama announces "the way forward" in healthcare at least once every week or so.
Friday, February 26, 2010
New York Gov. David Paterson lashed out Wednesday at a published report alleging a top aide's history of drug arrests and alleged domestic violence.http://www.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/02/17/david.paterson.times/index.html?eref=rss_politics&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+rss%2Fcnn_allpolitics+%28RSS%3A+Politics%29
. . . Howard Kurtz, a media observer for The Washington Post and host of CNN's "Reliable Sources," said on his Twitter account Wednesday that the Times report on the aide "caps a shameful period of media outlets trumpeting rumors about the gov."
Kurtz added the "media rumor-mongering" by other outlets was based on "whispers about what the Times MIGHT report on Paterson -- a flimsy excuse for publishing garbage."
Gov. David A. Paterson is set to announce that he will not seek election in the wake of reports that he and the State Police intervened in a domestic-assault case against a senior aide, according to a person told about the plans.http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/26/paterson-to-drop-out-of-race-for-governor/?hp
Will Kurtz, The Washington Post and CNN now apologize to those they smeared with false allegations in their rush to find any basis for defending a favored politician?
Toyota officials muddied the water further this week as lawmakers and regulators sought answers about hundreds of the automaker's still-unresolved unintended acceleration reports, say members of Congress.http://www.usatoday.com/money/autos/2010-02-26-toyota26_ST_N.htm
In two days of congressional hearings, Toyota sought to assure that electronics are not the culprit and that its recalls in recent months of 8 million vehicles, because gas pedals may stick open, have solved the problem. "This week's hearings have raised as many questions as they have answered," says Rep. Bart Gordon, D-Tenn., a member of the House Energy committee. "By Toyota USA's own admission, the non-electronic quick fixes that Toyota's first recalls indicated are not sufficient to prevent these very dangerous incidents."
At least 20 people died so that Toyota could save $100 million by recalling the floor mats rather than the brake system.
Shouldn't someone have been arrested by now?
Trainers at SeaWorld's Orlando park will continue working with Tilikum, the 12,000-pound killer whale that attacked and drowned one of its primary handlers in front of a horrified audience Wednesday.http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2010-02-25-killer-whale-seaworld_N.htm
"We have every intention of continuing to interact with this animal, though the procedures for working with him will change," SeaWorld wrote in its blog Thursday.
It's called a "killer whale". When it kills people who swim with it, should it surprise anyone?
The House ethics committee says in a three-page report that Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., "violated the House gift rule" by accepting travel to Antigua in November 2007 and St. Maarten in November 2008 paid for by corporate funds.http://content.usatoday.com/communities/onpolitics/post/2010/02/rep-rangel-receives-public-admonishment-by-ethics-committee-/1
The committee, formally known as the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, said that Rangel did not know that corporate funds were used to pay for the trips, which were sponsored and organized by Carib News and the Carib News Foundation. But members of Rangel's staff "knew that corporations had contributed funds to Carib News specifically for the 2007 and 2008 conferences."
Representative Rangel was responsible for the knowledge and actions of his staff in the performance of their official duties. It is the intention of the Committee that publication of this report will serve as a public admonishment by the Standards Committee of Representative Rangel.
Does Rangel keep his committee chairs?
That will tell whether the promise of "change" was a total fraud.
The extraordinary televised summit between President Obama and congressional leaders at Blair House Thursday was less conversation than illustration: a stark depiction of a gulf between the Democrats and Republicans on what to do next about health care.http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2010-02-25-health-summit-analysis_N.htm
Republicans said Democrats should "scrap this bill … and start over again on a clean sheet of paper," as House GOP leader John Boehner put it, adopting a "step-by-step" approach that would cost less and prescribe a smaller government role.
Democrats said it was imperative to act, and quickly. Some Americans "don't have time for us to start over," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said as the session started. "Many of them are at the end of the line."
The "healthcare summit" was typical Obama.
Lots of talk.
Lots of posturing.
Lots of poll tested buzz words.
Lots of fawning media coverage.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
President Obama's choice to lead the U.S. Coast Guard wants to make major cuts to the agency's counterterror mission during the next five years.
In an internal memo from Vice Admiral Robert J. Papp Jr., the Coast Guard commandant nominee says that starting in 2012, he would slash funding for programs in the agency's homeland security plan that would include homeland security patrols and training exercises.
The memo, marked "sensitive — for internal Coast Guard use only," was obtained by The Associated Press.
Papp's outline is significant because it could mean major changes for the more than 200-year-old agency that took on a significant homeland security duties after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. Obama's 2011 proposed budget cuts for the Coast Guard already has caused outrage from some lawmakers.
According to Papp's memo, he would scale back the Coast Guard's counterterror priorities in favor of traditional search and rescue operations that save people in imminent danger on the water and maintaining the maritime transportation system.
Of course, if you say the administration isn't serious about the terror threat, you're accused of exaggeration.
It cost more than $500,000 in stimulus funds to create a single highway construction job, largely because of building materials . . . Education aid and research funding are among the cheapest ways of creating or saving jobs at less than $60,000 each, the analysis shows.
As the nation's jobless rate is at 9.7%, Congress is trying to find ways to pump up employment. The Senate passed a $15 billion jobs bill Wednesday that includes tax incentives for hiring and more money for highway construction. The bill goes to the House, which passed a larger jobs measure in December that included highway and education spending.
Republicans such as Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire have criticized the stimulus package for adding to the national debt and not doing enough to create jobs. Gregg opposed the jobs bill, saying the nation can't afford the measure's highway construction spending.
And, while lower paying construction jobs tend to attract more than their fair share of immigrant labor, high value research funding actually results in new products and methods which strengthen the economy over the long term.
Of course, Obama seeks the support of the building trades unions for his reelection. There is no scientific researcher union.
More waste and pork politics.
Public expectations are low for today's high-profile White House summit on health care: Three of four Americans in a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll predict President Obama and congressional leaders won't reach agreement on a bill.http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2010-02-24-healthcare-poll-results_N.htm
There's also no consensus that the public wants a deal. By 49%-43%, those surveyed oppose passage of a health care bill like those that Democrats have drafted — and the foes hold their views more strongly than the supporters do.
The elites and the media will disagree, but shouldn't someone get up and simply say, "This is a democracy, and the people oppose what you propose"?
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Three Miami-Dade businessmen face terrorism-related smuggling charges alleging they secretly exported video-game players to a shopping center in Paraguay that U.S. authorities say served as a front for financing the Middle East terrorist group, Hezbollah.http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/02/20/1490185/3-miami-dade-businessmen-accused.html
The businessmen -- Khaled T. Safadi, Ulises Talavera and Emilio Gonzalez-Neira -- were arrested late Thursday on conspiracy charges of violating a post-9/11 law that prohibits any person or company from doing business with a U.S.-designated terrorist group. . . . A fourth suspect, Samer Mehdi, who owns a business called Jomana Import Export that operated in the Galeria Page Mall in Ciudad del Este, also was charged. Mehdi, a 37-year-old Brazilian and Paraguayan national, has not been arrested.
Again, foreigners engaging in this type of behavior within our borders is not domestic terrorism.
Rather, it is an example of our lax border controls and weak immigration laws.
The Vatican's top bioethics official on Monday dismissed calls for his resignation following an uproar over his defense of doctors who aborted the twin fetuses of a 9-year-old child who was raped by her stepfather.http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2010-02-23-catholic-abortion_N.htm
The case of a 9-year-old pregnant with twins after being raped by her stepfather should be beyond knee jerk pro life or pro choice reactions.
An unapologetic Danny Williams says he was aware his trip to the United States for heart surgery earlier this month would spark outcry, but he concluded his personal health trumped any public fallout over the controversial decision.http://www.google.com/hostednews/canadianpress/article/ALeqM5h0QC7bditrEb3wYz_6_b-gsGGDxA
In an interview with The Canadian Press, Williams said he went to Miami to have a "minimally invasive" surgery for an ailment first detected nearly a year ago, based on the advice of his doctors.
"This was my heart, my choice and my health," Williams said late Monday from his condominium in Sarasota, Fla.
"I did not sign away my right to get the best possible health care for myself when I entered politics."
If America adopts a Canadian style healthcare system, where do we go to get "the best possible health care"?
Haiti's top reconstruction planning official owns part of the country's largest concrete company, which stands to reap major gains from the coming wave of international rebuilding aid.http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2010-02-23-delatour_N.htm
Patrick Delatour, Haiti's tourism minister, leads a commission that has been crafting plans to rebuild Port-au-Prince and other earthquake-devastated areas. He acknowledged he is 5% owner of GDG Concrete and Construction, which he started in 2000 with his cousin. The company, which calls itself Haiti's only supplier of ready-mixed concrete, helped construct the U.S. Embassy and several other major buildings in Port-au-Prince, it says on its website.
Of the billions of dollars we sent and will send Haiti in emergency and reconstruction aid, at least ten to twenty percent will be skimmed off by corrupt officials.
We are not helping the Haitian people by ignoring this fact.
Government investigators are making an unprecedented push to use "black box" voice recordings to routinely monitor pilots' conversations and make sure cockpit crews are focusing on their jobs.http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2010-02-23-recorders_N.htm
The move represents the first time that workplace monitoring could extend into the nation's cockpits and has drawn intense fire from pilots' unions who say that the plan is intrusive. The black box recorders have until now only been used in accident investigation.
Eventually, everything everyone does at every job will be monitored and recorded.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Americans' outlook on the economy went into relapse in February. Rising job worries sent a key barometer of confidence to its lowest point in 10 months, raising concerns about the U.S. economic recovery.http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/2010-02-23-consumer-confidence_N.htm
The Conference Board said Tuesday its Consumer Confidence Index fell almost 11 points to 46 in February, down from a revised 56.5 in January. Analysts were expecting only a slight decrease to 55. It was the lowest level since the index recorded a 40.8 reading in April 2009.
The increasing pessimism, which erased three months of improvement, is a big blow to hopes that consumer spending will power an economic recovery. Economists watch the confidence numbers closely because consumer spending accounts for about 70% of U.S. economic activity.
The American economy is no longer based on making things.
It's based on selling each other goods and services.
There will be no economic recovery until there is increased consumer spending, which will only follow increased consumer confidence.
Unfortunately, no one in charge is inspiring confidence.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office . . . says the nation's unemployment rate was between 0.5% and 1.1% lower because of the stimulus. In other words, the unemployment rate could have been more than 11% without the stimulus package, according to the CBO's analysis.http://content.usatoday.com/communities/onpolitics/post/2010/02/cbo-unemployment-would-have-topped-11-without-stimulus/1
Of course, we were promised the stimulus bill would keep unemployment below 8%.
A Colorado airport shuttle driver admitted Monday that he plotted with al-Qaeda to bomb New York City subways and other targets to avenge U.S. military action in Afghanistan. . . Zazi, born in Afghanistan, is a legal U.S. immigrant . . .http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2010-02-22-ny-bomb-guilty_N.htm
. . . "What concerns us, and we said this back in 2007, is that al-Qaeda was beginning to look specifically for people who don't fit the image of what people imagine is an international terrorist," [Former Homeland Security secretary Michael ] Chertoff said in an interview Monday . . . "The linkage between homegrown terrorism and international terrorism is the most worrisome aspect of the terrorist threat," he said.
An Afghan immigrant who attempts a terrorist act on American soil is not an example of "homegrown terrorism".
He is an example of the need for stricter immigration controls.
The commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan took his apology for a weekend airstrike that killed civilians directly to the Afghan people Tuesday, with a video in which he pledged to work to regain their trust.http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2010-02-23-afghanistan-tuesday_N.htm
In the video, translated into the Afghan languages of Dari and Pashto on a NATO website, a stern Gen. Stanley McChrystal apologizes for the strike in central Uruzgan province that Afghan officials say killed at least 21 people.
Sunday's attack by NATO jets on a convoy of cars was the deadliest attack on civilians in six months and prompted a sharp rebuke from the Afghan government. It comes as NATO is struggling to win public backing for a major military offensive against the Taliban in the south with a strategy that involves taking all precautions possible to protect civilians.
We either go to war in a populated area, or we take all precautions to protect civilians. We can't do both.
And, we certainly can't win back popular support by apologizing for civilian deaths.
Again, our strategy makes no sense.
A $950 billion, 10-year health care proposal released by President Obama on Monday mirrors a bill passed by the Senate last year but revises some of its most contentious provisions, from taxes to Medicare.
New taxes, new mandates, new medicare cuts and new special deals for pressure groups.
There's nothing new that's good in Obama's new plan.
Monday, February 22, 2010
Although global warming could cause the number of tropical cyclones to decrease around the world by the end of the century, the storms that do form probably will be more intense . . . Landsea says the potential increase in strong hurricanes is "pretty tiny. We're not looking at any drastic increase by 2100." For example, he says, a 150-mph hurricane might increase only to a 157-mph hurricane. "In my perspective, that's a little change, a long ways in the future."http://www.usatoday.com/weather/storms/hurricanes/2010-02-22-Hurricanes19_ST_N.htm
In other words, man-made global warming will result in fewer "tropical storms, hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones", and those we get will only be a "tiny" bit stronger.
It becomes clearer each day that the Hollywood movie version of global warming is an exaggeration.
If Bush hadn't bankrupted the country, I'd fully support it.
But, aren't we supposed to be looking to cut spending and balance the budget?
The federal government plans to spend $2.2 billion to clean up pollution in the Great Lakes and halt the spread of invasive species over the next five years.http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/environment/2010-02-21-great-lakes-asian-carp_N.htm
. . . Congress has approved $475 million for the Great Lakes cleanup plan, though Jackson said little of the money has been spent. President Obama asked Congress for $300 million more this year, and Jackson said he will seek even more in the years ahead.
Regulate the size and shape of food!
Nutritionists have long warned of the perils of hot dogs: fat, sodium and preservatives to name a few.http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2010-02-22-1Achoke22_ST_N.htm
Now, the American Academy of Pediatrics wants foods like hot dogs to come with a warning label — not because of their nutritional risks but because they pose a choking hazard to babies and children.
Better yet, the academy would like to see foods such as hot dogs "redesigned" so their size, shape and texture make them less likely to lodge in a youngster's throat. More than 10,000 children under 14 go to the emergency room each year after choking on food, and up to 77 die, says the new policy statement, published online today in Pediatrics. About 17% of food-related asphyxiations are caused by hot dogs.
. . . The Consumer Product Safety Commission requires labels on toys with small parts alerting people not to give them to kids under 3. Yet there are no required warnings on food, though more than half of non-fatal choking episodes involve food, Smith says.
. . . The Food and Drug Administration, which has authority to recall products it considers "unfit for food," plans to review the new statement, spokeswoman Rita Chappelle says.
An internal Toyota document dated last July says the company saved $100 million in 2007 by getting the government to OK just replacing floor mats in 55,000 vehicles as a solution to sudden acceleration complaints.http://www.usatoday.com/money/autos/2010-02-21-toyota-recall-documents_N.htm
It's listed under "wins for Toyota — safety group" in the report, which is among documents obtained by a subpoena from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
That and other references to saving money on safety issues raise the question of "whether Toyota was lobbying for less rigid actions from regulators to protect their bottom line," said Kurt Bardella, spokesman for the committee's ranking Republican, Darrell Issa of California.
The survivors of anyone who died as a result of the Toyota design flaws have a very good claim to some of the $100 million Toyota saved " by getting the government to OK just replacing floor mats". These "savings" at the cost of consumer safety would be an inarguably valid measure of computing any punitive damages to be awarded in addition to compensatory damages (i.e., the value of the life of the deceased).
Supporters of tort reform and limitations on awards need to remember the historical reason for punitive damages - - to divest wrongdoers of the profits from their wrong doing. If Toyota let people die in order to save $100 million, the survivors of the dead deserve the $100 million.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
The Dalai Lama says he doesn't fault President Obama for his low-key reception in Washington because he recognizes that the president must juggle ties to the Tibetan spiritual leader with concerns about angering China.http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2010-02-21-dalialama-obama-meeting_N.htm
The Dalai Lama feels obligated to make excuses for our wimp of a president, who was afraid to "anger" China.
Rep. Ron Paul, hero of a fervant band of libertarians, unexpectedly won the presidential straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference today, claiming 31% of the votes cast.http://content.usatoday.com/communities/onpolitics/post/2010/02/ron-paul-wins-cpac-presidential-straw-poll/1
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who has carried the survey for the past three years, was second at 22%.
The straw poll is unscientific but is sometimes seen as a show of organizational strength among presidential hopefuls. However, Paul, who made a longshot bid for the Republican nomination in 2008, has given no indication he plans to run again.
All things being equal, Romney will be the Republican's 2012 nominee for president.
At which point, you can expect the "progressives" to unleash a wave of vicious anti Mormon religious bigotry (which is how Ted Kennedy beat Romney in Massachusetts).
U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke visited Kazakhstan on Sunday to drum up regional assistance in stabilizing Afghanistan, the last stop on his tour of former Soviet states in Central Asia.
The recent surge in the U.S. military contingent in Afghanistan has been accompanied by a U.S. effort to enlist help from neighboring nations in rebuilding the war-ravaged country and to provide reassurances that the war won't spill over the border.
"We are talking to all the countries that have a concern in the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and that is why we are here today," Holbrooke said in Kazakh capital of Astana.
Holbrooke's trip also included Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, where he met with heads of state and held talks on cooperation in Afghanistan.
The various ethnic, tribal and linguistic groups in the region hate each other.
They view each other as traditional enemies.
They have spent millenia at war with each other.
Involving them in each other's "security" will be completely counter productive.
A man hurled a suitcase containing a makeshift bomb at Cairo's main downtown synagogue in the early hours Sunday morning, but there were no injuries or damage, police said.http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2010-02-21-bomb-egypt-synagogue_N.htm
According to the police report, a man entered a hotel located on the fourth floor of a building across from the synagogue at around 3 a.m. and as he was checking in, abruptly threw his suitcase out the window.
The case contained four containers of gasoline each attached to a glass bottle of sulfuric acid meant to shatter on impact and ignite the makeshift bomb, said police, who speculated the man may have panicked.
. . . Egypt's once thriving Jewish community largely left the country 50 years ago during hostilities between Egypt and Israel, but a number of heavily guarded synagogues, open only to Jews, remain.
The downtown synagogue, Egypt's largest, is the only one still conducting services for the Jewish high holidays, which are sometimes attended by Israeli diplomats.
The temple, known as Shaar Hashamayim, or the Gate of Heaven, was built in 1899 in a style evoking ancient Egyptian temples and was once the largest building on the wide downtown boulevard.
Egypt's Jewish community, which dates back millennia and in the 1940s numbered around 80,000, is down to several dozen, almost all of them elderly.
If you were an Israeli official, would you entrust the safety of any Jews to a Palestinian government?
The first family will welcome some out-of-town guests to the White House on Sunday: a gathering of the nation's governors.http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2010-02-21-obamas-ball-governors_N.htm
President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama are hosting the National Governors Association for the annual Governor's Ball. The president will offer up a toast to the gathering.
One year ago, Obama was lecturing and hectoring governors, telling them to await instructions from Washington.
Today, he's trying to curry favor with them.
What a difference a year makes.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geitner is in Philadelphia today, joining Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack and the president's wife Michelle Obama "to announce new details of the Healthy Food Financing Initiative," an urban grocery subsidy program backed by the Depts of Treasury, Agriculture, and Health & Human Services that plans to use $400 million a year in taxpayer money "to help bring grocery stores to underserved areas and help places such as convenience stores and bodegas carry healthier food options."http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/inq-phillydeals/Geithner_in_Philly_today.html
The Treasury Secretary is so serious about cutting the multi trillion dollar deficit, and fighting double digit unemployment, that he was in Philadelphia committing a half billion per year in new spending to get "healthier food options" into "convenience stores and bodegas".
When I first read this, I thought it was a sarcastic article from The Onion.
The government threw a $1.5 billion lifeline to unemployed and underwater homeowners on Friday, amid a new report suggesting the nation's foreclosure crisis may be easing.
Under the initiative, Florida and four other states that have seen home prices fall by at least 20 percent since their peak will be eligible to apply for the funds.
The exact amount due the state, and the guidelines for the initiative, will be available in two weeks, the Obama administration said.
Hundreds of billions of dollars to bail out the banks . . . last year, right off the bat, as the first order of business.
Only $1.5 billion for unemployed and underwater homeowners . . . when we get around to it, in a few more weeks, just keep waiting, you might be eligible, if you haven't lost your house already.
President Obama is winging his way back to Washington, D.C., after a tour around Las Vegas, where he was welcomed by most everyone, it seemed - except the city's mayor.http://content.usatoday.com/communities/theoval/post/2010/02/obama-i-love-las-vegas/1
Independent Mayor Oscar Goodman refused to attend Obama's events or meet with the president, saying he wouldn't do so until Obama apologized for dissing his city by saying people shouldn't gamble with their college savings during a recession.
Here's what Obama said earlier this year:
"When times are tough, you tighten your belts. You don't go buying a boat when you're trying to pay your mortgage. You don't blow a bunch of cash on Vegas when you're trying to save on college. You prioritize, you make tough choices."
Speaking to the Chamber of Commerce, Obama didn't apologize for what he said. But he made sure to say he has nothing against sin city.
"Let me set the record straight, I love Vegas - always have," he said.
"It wasn't meant to be a shot," Obama said of his college savings remark. "I think everybody would agree that the only place people should spend their college savings is in college. ... But I understand how hard things have been here."
The significance of this story is not what Obama said or what Obama meant.
The significant issue is that the independent unaffiliated mayor of Las Vegas believes he benefits politically by being seen as an implacable (even unreasonable) foe of Obama.
Justice Department lawyers showed "poor judgment" but did not commit professional misconduct when they authorized CIA interrogators to use waterboarding and other harsh tactics at the height of the U.S. war on terrorism, an internal review released Friday found.http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2010-02-19-interrogation-memo_N.htm
The decision closes the book on one of the major lingering investigations into the counterterrorism policies of George W. Bush's administration. President Obama campaigned on abolishing the simulated drowning technique of waterboarding and other tactics that he called torture, but he left open the question of whether anyone would be punished for authorizing such methods.
Liberal Democrats had pressed for action against the authors of the so-called torture memos, and they indicated they aren't finished discussing the matter. Democratic Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy said he was "deeply offended" by the legal memos and planned to hold a hearing Feb. 26.
An initial review by the Justice Department's internal affairs unit found that former government lawyers Jay Bybee and John Yoo had committed professional misconduct, a conclusion that could have cost them their law licenses. But, underscoring just how controversial and legally thorny the memos have become, the Justice Department's top career lawyer reviewed the matter and disagreed.
Either (1) the "torture lawyers" did nothing wrong or (2) the Obama administration decided to let then off the hook anyway.
Either way, the self styled progressives have to be feeling betrayed . . . again.
Every time Obama breaks one of his promises or betrays one of his campaign themes, he loses the enthusiastic backing of those to whom that promise or theme was the most important issue in 2008 (whatever the size of that set of voters). They may still vote for him in 2012, but they won't volunteer or donate. Cumulatively, this is shrinking and/or turning off Obama's base. It's why Obama is in trouble.
Federal investigators "formally concluded" the 2001 anthrax murder case against bioweapons scientist Bruce Ivins on Friday, releasing a 92-page prosecutor's summary and some 2,700 pages of documents related to the case.http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2010-02-19-anthrax-case-closed_N.htm
Ivins committed suicide on July 29, 2008, following two years of FBI agents focusing on him as the lead suspect in the "Amerithrax" investigation. The 2001 anthrax mailings killed five people, sickened 17, and paralyzed the nation's postal system.
"As disclosed previously, the Amerithrax investigation found that the late Dr. Bruce Ivins acted alone in planning and executing these attacks," the Justice Department said in a statement as it released the files.
Translation: They don't know, so they're blaming the guy who committed suicide.
Friday, February 19, 2010
Today, it got worse. Lautenberg was diagnosed with stomach cancer.
The Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet, said he was "very happy" with his meeting Thursday with President Obama. He said they discussed the concerns of the Tibetan people, greater leadership roles for women worldwide and religious tolerance.http://www.usatoday.com/NEWS/usaedition/2010-02-19-capcol19_ST_U.htm?csp=34
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Obama praised the Dalai Lama's "Middle-Way Approach," his commitment to non-violence and his pursuit of dialogue with the Chinese government.
The Chinese government today again protested Obama's meeting with the Dalai Lama, who fled his homeland in 1959 after China annexed Tibet. The Chinese government considers the Dalai Lama a Tibetan separatist leader
China told Obama not to appear in public with the Dalai Lama.
So, Obama didn't.
President Obama created an 18-member fiscal commission Thursday charged with coming up with ideas to begin erasing $14.3 trillion in government red ink.
"These are tough times, and we can't keep spending like they're not," Obama said.
In the words of Chuck Todd of MSNBC, "Obama wants to be seen doing something about the deficit".
That's the problem.
Everyone knows he doesn't care about the deficit.
He just wants to be "seen" doing something about it.
The government's producer price index (PPI) shot up at double the expected pace in January, propelled by big increases in energy costs, while new claims for unemployment benefits rose in the most recent week.http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/2010-02-18-wholesale-prices-jobless-claims_N.htm
Inflation and unemployment claims both up. Not good.
We're one week into the latest misadventure in Afghanistan — this one to try to chase the Taliban from in and around Marjah because that area is the headquarters for growing opium poppies to make heroin.http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2010/02/column-latest-afghan-fiasco-isnt-worth-one-life.html
To understand how sad it is to put our GI's at risk doing things like that, we need to keep in mind the full price tag so far of our military lives in the eight-year wars without end:
• Iraq. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 4,366
• Afghanistan. .. .. .. .. 904
Many of us think of those losses just as numbers. To try to help understand they're individuals, let me share with you these recent accounts of one lucky and one unlucky GI in Afghanistan:
On Monday, Marine Lance Cpl. Andrew Koenig, 21, of Casper, Wyo., survived uninjured when a bullet fired by the Taliban bounced off his helmet.
Last week, Army Sgt. Adam J. Ray, 23, of Louisville was killed by an improvised explosive device.
Ray's mother, Donna, told The Courier-Journal that he called home two weeks ago to say he was OK and promised "he would not be a hero."
His mother said, "He loved the Army. He hated the war because there was so much evil and sadness. But he faced it. He was not in the least bit regretting it."
Ray didn't want to be a hero, but he'll be honored at a memorial service Wednesday at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., where his unit was based.
All of us should salute for him. We also should insist that President Obama bring all of our troops in Afghanistan home. Let the Taliban grow poppies.
This is part of the drug war, not a battle in the war on those who attacked us on 9/11/01.
What is the "anti war presidential candidate" doing?
More than half the states are reducing Medicaid services and payments to health care providers this year as the recession propelled enrollments to record levels and sapped money from treasuries.http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2010-02-18-medicaid-states-spending-cuts_N.htm
Ironically, the only "healthcare reform" so far delivered by Obama is reduced benefits and services at increased costs for the most needy Americans.
Amid sinking poll numbers and a spate of retirements by veteran lawmakers, Democrats have one early advantage heading into November's congressional elections: money.
Democratic incumbents in the nation's most competitive races hold a substantial financial edge over their Republican challengers, a USA TODAY analysis of recent campaign reports shows.
It is absolutely amazing how quickly the Democrats and the Republicans have switched roles.
Remember when the Republicans were the unpopular incumbents kept alive by donations from the industries they regulated?
Of course, the Republicans lost it all once people started paying attention.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Matt Drudge is currently blaring this headline about a new CNN poll (PDF):http://www.pollster.com/blogs/the_drudgehyped_cnn_shock_poll.php
CNN SHOCK POLL: MAJORITY SAY OBAMA DOESN'T DESERVE 2ND TERM
Actually, the poll isn't especially shocking. As The Hill points out, "52 percent of Americans said President Barack Obama doesn't deserve reelection in 2012" -- a number that is almost identical to the proportion who disapprove of the job he's doing (50%).
For context, a Fox News poll in August 2001 asked the following question about George W. Bush:
Considering how President (George W.) Bush has performed so far, do you think he deserves to be reelected or would the country probably be better off with someone else as president?
The results? 36% said Bush deserved to be reelected, 42% said the country would be better off with someone else, and 22% said it depends or weren't sure. These numbers are actually worse than Obama's relative to the 55% approval/32% disapproval numbers the Fox poll showed for Bush.
Shouldn't a "political and polling expert" remember that something happened on 9/11/01 which changed all political equations?
A key software system for the 2010 Census is behind schedule and full of defects, and it will have to be scaled back to ensure an accurate count of the U.S. population, according to a government watchdog report.http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/census/2010-02-17-Census-software_N.htm
. . . The glitches continue despite staff "working two shifts per day, extended hours, weekends and holidays," the report says.
The audit found that the software had 80 critical defects on Jan. 12, up from 26 a month earlier. Both testing and development were about three weeks behind schedule at that point.
It is becoming clearer each day that the purpose of this census is not to accurately count the population.
Rather, it is to show population increases in certain districts and among certain population groups, and population decreases in other districts and among other population groups, in order to permit post census redistricting which perpetuates Nancy Pelosi's majority in Congress.
In other words, expect more corrupt Chicago style politics.
The Taliban is using civilians and hundreds of explosives to try to prevent Afghan and U.S. troops from taking over the jihadist group's largest stronghold in Afghanistan, the Afghan army said Wednesday.http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2010-02-17-marjah-afghanistan-wednesday_N.htm
"There are two things that restrict our movement: Taliban mines and the fear of civilian casualties," said Brig. Gen. Moheedin Ghori, who commands the Afghan brigade.
. . . To avoid alienating the population, Afghan and coalition forces are under "strict orders not to fire at areas where there are civilians," Ghori said.
The Taliban were told we were coming, months in advance.
Therefore, they set up land mines and are using human shields.
Our soldiers are told to avoid civilian casualties, and therefore must engage in house to house door to door close range man to man combat.
Would you want your child or spouse to be sent into combat under those conditions in a war of choice?
The U.S. unemployment rate was 9.7% in January. But that big number blurs what's happening in hundreds of local economies — some winners, some losers — during this harsh, job-destroying recession.http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2010-02-17-two-cities-recession_N.htm
The nation's 372 metropolitan areas are experiencing an extraordinary range of jobless rates — from a low of 4% in Grand Forks, N.D., to a high of 27.7% in El Centro, Calif.
The simplest explanation may be the most telling: The bigger the housing bubble, the worse the job loss. That's still true more than two years after the housing bubble burst.
Generally, this means unemployment is less of a problem in red states (where the concern would be over deficits and spending) and more of a problem in blue states (where Obama voters would be disappointed in his handling of the issue).
Overall, this creates more political problems for Democrats.
The nation's Homeland Security officers lost nearly 200 guns in bowling alleys, public restrooms, unlocked cars and other unsecure areas, with some ending up in the hands of felons. The problem, outlined in a new federal report, has prompted disciplinary actions and extra training.http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2010-02-17-lost-guns_N.htm
This is the same organization whose leadership initially called us a bunch of crybabies and bed wetters for being concerned about the Christmas Day "underwear bomber".
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
The Dalai Lama's chief envoy says President Obama probably will not follow former President George W. Bush's example and make his Thursday meeting with the Tibetan spiritual leader public.
. . . [This follows] the "unfortunate" decision for Obama not to meet with the Dalai Lama when the monk came to Washington in October.
. . . China's furious reaction to the meeting is a symptom of worrying Chinese arrogance and chauvinism.
The Obama-Dalai Lama meeting could complicate U.S. efforts to win Chinese help on global crises.
The Chinese dictators told Obama not to publicly meet with the Dalai Lama, so he won't.
This is an embarrassment to our country.
Long-serving U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg's office says a bleeding ulcer was what put him in the hospital this week.http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2010-02-16-lautenberg-endoscopy-recovery_N.htm
Chief of staff Dan Katz said that no discharge date is set, but that he expects the 86-year-old Democrat to be released soon.
The senator was taken to a hospital Monday after becoming lightheaded and falling at his Cliffside Park home. He later underwent a successful endoscopy procedure, spokesman Caley Gray said.
. . . Any health decline for the Senate's second-oldest member would be a serious concern for the party, because Republicans won control of the governor's office in November. If Lautenberg were unable to finish his term, Gov. Chris Christie would appoint an interim successor. That could give a Republican candidate the added advantage of incumbency at a time the GOP already enjoys a favorable political environment.
The best case scenario for senate Democrats is that an ailing 86 year old senator hangs onto the seat for 4 more years, unable to do his job or reliably cast his vote.
One year after he signed the $862 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, President Obama today turns his attention to the nation's soaring deficit, naming a new bipartisan commission to tackle the $1.4 trillion problem.http://content.usatoday.com/communities/theoval/post/2010/02/obama-to-name-deficit-commission/1
It sounds like a bad joke.
One year after he signed an almost $1 trillion stimulus bill filled with waste and pork, Obama decides to do something about the soaring deficit . . . which he created.
More than $3.5 billion in economic stimulus funds are going to programs that President Obama wants to eliminate or trim in his new budget.http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2010-02-17-stimulus-funds_N.htm
The president's budget released this month recommends getting rid of Army Corps of Engineers' drinking-water projects, which got $200 million in stimulus funds, and a U.S. Department of Agriculture flood-prevention program, which received $290 million from the stimulus, a USA TODAY review of stimulus spending reports show.
The administration's budget plan says the corps and USDA programs are inefficient and duplicate similar, more effective work by other agencies. The proposed cuts indicate the programs shouldn't have gotten money from the $862 billion stimulus package . . .
One year late, Obama realizes that stimulus funds were spent on duplicative and wasteful programs.
Obviously, those who described the stimulus bill as wasteful and inefficient weren't "obstructionist".
They were honest and responsible.
Pharmacists, optometrists and groups representing an array of medical specialists boosted their political giving in 2009, as Congress worked on health care legislation that would dramatically reshape their industry, a review of new campaign-finance reports shows.http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2010-02-16-health-care_N.htm
Donations by the top 15 health care political action committees rose to $11.7 million in 2009, a nearly 14% increase from 2007, the most recent non-election year, according to a USA TODAY analysis of data compiled by CQ MoneyLine. Despite the economic recession, most of the political action committees examined increased their giving.
You have to be a fool to believe that the resulting healthcare bill benefits the public rather than the interests of the healthcare industry.
Need more proof?
The National Community Pharmacists Association had the biggest jump. Its political arm gave more than $1 million in 2009, more than triple its 2007 giving. The 13,000-member group worked successfully to insert favorable provisions in health bills that passed the House of Representatives and Senate last year, including a measure to roll back cuts in government reimbursements for generic drugs.http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2010-02-16-health-care_N.htm
When Congress gives out price supports for generic drugs (which are supposed to be the cheaper ones!) in exchange for $1 million in corporate donations, Congress has no right to question public cynicism.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
While President Barack Obama is not up for re-election this November, he will be in 2012 if he decides to run for a second term. According to the poll, 44 percent of registered voters say Obama deserves re-election, with 52 percent saying the president does not deserve a second term in office. The survey also indicates that 49 percent of Americans approve of the job Obama's doing as president, with half of the public disapproving of his job in the White House.
I guess dismissing all critics as racist isn't a truly effective long term political strategy.
Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh said he will not run for a third term in Congress.http://www.wlky.com/politics/22568796/detail.html
Bayh said at a news conference in Indianapolis on Monday that he believed he would have been re-elected despite "the current challenging environment" in Congress.
He attributed his decision to the bitter partisan divides that have dominated Congress in recent years, though he praised his colleagues as hard workers devoted to public service.
Bayh said it is time for him to "contribute to society in another way," either by creating jobs with a business, leading a college or university, or running a charity.
His decision leaves Democrats at risk of losing the Senate seat in the November election after Bayh had raised $13 million for his campaign.
The left wing Democrats are getting their wish.
Many moderate to conservative Democrats (who vote with their party most but not all of the time) are leaving Congress.
Of course, the odds are that they will be replaced by conservative to moderate Republicans (who will almost never vote with the Democrats).
I wish left wing Democrats would explain how this purity purge helps advance their agenda, because it doesn't seem like it will.
Stanislav Krasnov marched with the hundreds of thousands demanding a pro-Western government during Ukraine's 2004 Orange Revolution.http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2011028840_apeuukrainepresidentialelection.html
That government's final days seem near now. A preliminary count of Ukraine's weekend presidential vote shows Russian-leaning candidate Viktor Yanukovych narrowly beating Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, the blond-braided heroine of the Orange Revolution.
. . . As Yanukovych consolidates power, the era of revolutions in Ukraine appears to be over for now. The once-flamboyant Tymoshenko has kept herself under wraps, apparently deciding on her next move.
. . . With Orange rule all but over, some Ukrainians fear Yanukovych's rule could mean a shift to a Russian-style system with tighter control of the political opposition and media, along with deepening energy reliance on Moscow.
This is what happens when the U.S. gives no support to pro western groups (whether in Ukraine or Cuba or Iran), because the administration is too busy "extending the hand of friendship" to authoritarian America-haters (whether Chavez or Castro or assorted radical mullahs and imams).
Almost 18 years later . . .
At least eight people, including a six-year-old, were killed Friday as mortars pounded the Somali capital during an attack on government soldiers by an extremist Islamic group, witnesses said, as hundreds of residents fled Mogadishu.http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100212/ap_on_re_af/af_somalia
Hundreds of al-Shabab fighters launched an attack early Friday on newly trained soldiers stationed in the capital's northern Shibis and Abdul-azis neighborhoods.
"They came to the front line in their hundreds, opened fire on our soldiers and then we fought them off," said Col. Aden Ibrahim Kalmoy, the military spokesman.
The government forces also fired mortars into areas controlled by al-Shabab, killing eight civilians.
. . . Somalia has not had an effective government since 1991 when warlords overthrew longtime dictator Mohamed Siad Barre. The warlords then turned on each, plunging the Horn of Africa nation into chaos and anarchy.
Why does Washington expect things to turn out any better in any other country in the region?
[F]or some civil liberties groups and the nonprofit Prison Policy Initiative, which has analyzed the last census numbers, counting inmates in prisons distorts population numbers in New York and several other states. Rural areas are shown to be more populous than they are, these critics say, while urban areas -- which produce most of the inmates -- are routinely under-counted.http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/25/AR2009042501403.html
States and counties rely on population numbers from the census to draw their legislative districts. In New York and some other states, Republicans continue to have clout in legislatures because they are elected from safely conservative, rural districts even as those areas lose people. The exception to that population decline: inmates, whose numbers have grown because of tough mandatory sentencing laws.
There is an unobserved fight going on over where prisoners "live", in the urban communities they mostly come from or in their mostly rural prison cells.
Forget all other issues and factors - - the outcome of the debate over where prisoners are counted for redistricting purposes could determine who controls Congress after the post-census redistricting.
Monday, February 15, 2010
A suspected U.S. drone fired a missile at a vehicle in Pakistan's volatile northwest on Monday, killing three people in the second such strike in as many days in an area dominated by militants who regularly attack U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, officials and residents said.
President Barack Obama has stepped up the use of missile strikes in Pakistan's lawless tribal area since taking office, partly in response to the Pakistani government's reluctance to target Taliban militants who are not deemed a direct threat to the state.
The strategy of increased missile strikes in populated areas does not help us win support among the civilian population. In fact, it's one more strategy that won't work. We will never win the support of the civilian population in that region.
The United States can now legally go up to $14.3 trillion in debt, as President Obama today signed a new ceiling for red ink.http://content.usatoday.com/communities/theoval/post/2010/02/obama-signs-bill-raising-debt-limit-to-143-trillion/1
The bill increases the public debt limit from $12.394 trillion to $14.294 trillion.
But, you're supposed to believe that Obama is committed to shrinking the deficit.
Twelve Afghans died Sunday when two rockets fired at insurgents missed their target and struck a house in Marjah during the second day of NATO's most ambitious effort yet to break the militants' grip on the country's dangerous south.http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2010-02-14-afghanistan-marjah-rocket_N.htm
NATO said two rockets were aimed at insurgents firing on Afghan and NATO-led forces but struck 1,000 feet away.
The civilian deaths were a blow to NATO and Afghan government attempts to win the allegiance of Afghans and get them to turn away from the insurgents.
If Bush was still president, this would be cited as further proof of incompetence and the futility of the operation.
But, Obama is president, so it's ignored.
Vice President Biden said his predecessor, Dick Cheney, is either "misinformed or … misinforming" as the two sparred on separate Sunday news shows about Cheney's continued criticism of the Obama administration's handling of terror threats.http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2010-02-14-biden-cheney-bicker-TV_N.htm
Biden said that Cheney is off base criticizing Obama on fighting terrorists and noted that the administration has killed 12 of the 20 most wanted al-Qaeda operatives — and has "taken out 100 of their associates."
Cheney said he is a "supporter" of Obama's policy in the Afghanistan war, including last year's decision to deploy 30,000 more U.S. troops. But he said the administration has failed to take a wartime posture toward terror suspects.
Generally, an administration doesn't elevate its opponents by mocking them or engaging them directly.
Yet, in the past week, the press secretary mocked Palin and the vice president debated (by proxy) Cheney on national security issues.
These are signs of a desperate, worried, sinking administration.
Winter weather failed to deter insurgents from stepping up roadside bomb attacks in Afghanistan, as both blasts and casualties among U.S. and allied troops in January more than doubled from a year earlier, Pentagon data show.http://www.usatoday.com/news/military/2010-02-14-ieds-afghanistan_N.htm
Coalition troops found 727 bombs in January compared with 276 in the same month of 2009. Blasts killed 32 U.S. and allied troops and wounded 137 others, compared with 14 deaths and 64 injuries in January 2009, according to the data. These bombs are the top killer of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
In previous years, winter was a slow season for Taliban and insurgent attacks in Afghanistan.
At some point in time, the "anti war progressives" (the ones who protested "Bush's wars") will realize that a dumb idea remains a dumb idea even after someone you like is elected president.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Coalition and Afghan forces encountered only sporadic resistance Sunday as they pressed further into the insurgent stronghold of Marjah in Afghanistan's strategic southern region.http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2010-02-12-afghan-attack_N.htm
. . . Previous operations have successfully cleared insurgents, but the U.S.-led coalition has lacked enough foreign or Afghan forces to hold areas. Now, more than 4,000 Afghan troops are working alongside thousands of coalition forces in central Helmand, and authorities plan to bring hundreds of police officers to build long-term security.
I'm reminded of Ali vs. Foreman.
Rope-a-dope is a boxing fighting style commonly associated with Muhammad Ali (who coined the term) in the Rumble in the Jungle against George Foreman.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rope-a-dope
The rope-a-dope is performed by a boxer assuming a protected stance, in Ali's classic pose, lying against the ropes, and allowing his opponent to hit him, in the hope that the opponent will become tired and make mistakes which the boxer can exploit in a counterattack.
In competitive situations other than boxing, rope-a-dope is used to describe strategies in which one party purposely puts itself in what appears to be a losing position, attempting thereby to become the eventual victor.
Republicans sent mixed signals after President Obama challenged them to participate in a one-of-a-kind televised summit with Democrats to come up with health care legislation.http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2010-02-13-obama-health-summit-reaction_N.htm
I hope someone will ask the administration why they want to televise meetings to discuss the healthcare bill with opposition Congressmen, but they didn't televise all the dozens and dozens of meetings with industry and insurance and pharmaceutical and labor lobbyists to actually draft the bill behind closed doors (in exchange for campaign donations and advocacy fundraising).
As back-to-back snowstorms shuttered schools for the week across the mid-Atlantic states, parents fretted about lost learning time, administrators scheduled makeup days and teachers posted assignments online. But Marla Caplon worried about a more fundamental problem: How would students eat?http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2010-02-13-winter-weather-hunger_N.htm
The two snowstorms that pummeled the region, leaving more than 3 feet of snow in some areas, deprived tens of thousands of children from Virginia to Pennsylvania of the free or reduced-price school lunch that may be their only nutritious meal of the day. The nonprofits that try to meet the need when school is not in session also closed their doors for much of the week, leaving many families looking at bare cupboards. And many parents working hourly jobs were unable to earn any money during the week, as the snow forced businesses to close.
Something is very wrong when our public schools are about free food and day care and no longer primarily about education and literacy.
U.S. forces opened a major offensive in southern Afghanistan early Saturday, sending thousands of U.S. Marines and Afghan and British soldiers against a Taliban stronghold in Helmand province.http://www.miamiherald.com/news/world/story/1477661.html
. . . The operation will be a critical test of the Obama administration's new strategy, which is based on a "surge" of military and civilian personnel deployed to take and hold population centers, while driving the insurgents to the countryside.
Of course, traditional insurgent guerrilla strategy is to abandon population centers and take and hold the surrounding countryside, until the cities are isolated and cutoff and eventually fall into the insurgents' hands.
Expect both sides to declare victory, to be followed by another 8 years of war in Afghanistan.
Florida Department of Children & Families Secretary George Sheldon ready for a challenge - The arrival of thousands of Haitians to hospitals and youth shelters poses a significant challenge to the state's oft-criticized child-welfare agency - - and its chief is ready.http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics/story/1479499.html
I suspect that, after everyone moves on to the next great celebrity charitable cause, the taxpayers of Florida will be left with a generation of bills for Haitian relief.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
The son of former vice president Dan Quayle has donned his political armor to battle other Republicans hoping to succeed retiring Rep. John Shadegg of Arizona. Dad announced son Ben's candidacy today during a Fox News interview.
The elder Quayle was No. 2 during the presidency of the elder George Bush.
Can we all agree that political office in a democracy should not be hereditary?
I can't think of one junior who got into politics, and did better than senior.
The Obama administration appears increasingly unsure what to do with professed Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed after officials indicated they are reconsidering not just where he should go on trial, but whether he should face civilian or military justice.
Both Attorney General Eric Holder and White House spokesman Robert Gibbs did not rule out a military trial when asked Friday about the Obama administration's options.
Which is worse - - that Obama, Holder, Gibbs, et al. don't have the brains to avoid a stupid decision? or, that they don't have the guts to stick to it?
Consumers in at least three states who buy their own health insurance are getting hit with premium increases of 15% or more.http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/health/2010-02-12-insurance-rates-increase_N.htm
If the Obama administration doesn't do anything about health insurance rate increases, why would anyone think they would do anything about it if given control over the entire healthcare system? They'd probably just keep doing what they're doing now - - hit the healthcare companies up for more campaign donations and advocacy support in exchange for looking the other way.
U.S. Marines and Afghan forces launched the largest combined offensive of the war before dawn Saturday, in a move designed to seize control of a remaining Taliban stronghold in southern Afghanistan.http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2010-02-12-afghan-attack_N.htm
. . . There have been no coalition casualties reported, but NATO said three U.S. soldiers were killed Saturday in a bombing elsewhere in southern Afghanistan.
We told them we were coming (with announcements and leaflet drops), so they pulled out, went elsewhere, and are still killing our troops. We let them escape.
This isn't victory, it's public relations.
Failing to overhaul the nation's immigration system, currently a back burner issue for Congress and President Barack Obama, could play a pivotal role in key mid-term election in November, according to a new study on Latino voting patterns.http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation/story/1470014.html
The report by America's Voice, which supports comprehensive new immigration policies, says revising the laws is the defining issue for Latino voters. The report says that progress -- or the lack thereof -- in revamping immigration laws and regulations could affect as many as 40 congressional races in areas with sizable Latino populations, including the reelection bids of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., just two years ago his party's presidential candidate.
. . . The study says that Obama and Democrats who campaigned in 2008 on the promise of revamping immigration laws benefited from a 54 percent growth in registered Latino voters between 2000 and 2008.
Another cheap, easy promise broken.
Washington is getting socked by another huge snowstorm, shutting down the federal government with little effect so far.http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation/story/1471810.html
It is amazing how nothing was effected when Washington shut down.
Friday, February 12, 2010
It's one of the main justifications for Obamacare.
And, it's a lie.
Because, generally speaking, "lack of health insurance has no more impact on your health than lack of flood insurance".
The New York state Senate says it opposes holding trials of terrorists in New York City's federal civilian court.http://wcbstv.com/local/september.11.trial.2.1482164.html
A resolution passed Tuesday urges President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder to move trials of those linked to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks back to the military tribunal system.
State Senator Vincent Leibell introduced the resolution. He says holding the terror trial in the city would unnecessarily put New Yorkers at risk.
Opponents to the trial also argue that it could have a staggering economic impact on businesses, disrupt city residents, and cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.
I'm sure the administration and its allies will soon be calling them crybabies and bed-wetters, too.
But, when will anyone in the administration ask, "If even our allies in New York are turning against us on this, could we be wrong?"
This is not according to Fox News. This is according to CBS News.
A stunning 8 percent of Americans believe members of Congress should be reelected, a staggering indictment of the legislative branch as Democrats prepare to defend their majority in the midterm elections.http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0210/32893.html
Eighty-one percent of people surveyed in a New York Times poll believe “it’s time to give new people a chance” to serve in Congress, the worst assessment of Congress since the newspaper began polling on this question in 1992.
But the 8 percent figure is staggering. Republicans see it as a reason to throw Democrats out of Congress, while Democrats want to blame Republican obstruction for the overwhelmingly negative feelings reflected in the poll.
Only 8% support the reelection of Congress in principle, and 81% want "new people". Amazing. And, this isn't from some Fox News survey. This is from a New York Times poll.
A suicide bomber wearing an Afghan border policeman's uniform blew himself up Thursday at a U.S. base near the Pakistani frontier, wounding five Americans, an Afghan official said.http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2010-02-11-afghanistan-attack-americans_N.htm
The spokesman for Paktia province, Roullah Samoun, said the attack occurred after sundown in a barracks at a U.S. facility in the Dand aw Patan district in eastern Afghanistan, about 35 miles (70 kilometers) east of Gardez.
He did not identify the base by name or say what kind personnel are stationed there.
A U.S. statement said "several" U.S. service members were injured in an explosion at a joint U.S.-Afghan outpost in Paktia but gave no further details.
It's a bad sign for the Afghanistan mission that we can't secure our military bases and outposts.
Rep. Patrick Kennedy has decided not to seek re-election after eight terms in Congress, saying his life is "taking a new direction" just months after the death of his father and mentor, Sen. Edward Kennedy.http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2010-02-11-Kennedy_N.htm
The Rhode Island Democrat taped a message with his decision to be aired on Rhode Island's television stations Sunday night. The Associated Press viewed the message Thursday, ahead of the announcement.
After the death of Ted Kennedy, the media tried to convince the public that Ted was beloved and still relevant.
Months later, Republicans won Ted Kennedy's Massachusetts Senate seat after almost half a century.
Now, Patrick Kennedy is running from a tough reelection race.
Isn't it time to reevaluate the Kennedy family's place in the people's affections?
Senate Democrats said they will strip dozens of tax breaks and other controversial provisions targeted at specific industries from their jobs bill in the hope that the pared-down legislation can win bipartisan support this month. . .http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2010-02-11-bipartisan-jobs-bill_N.htm
"We're going to move . . . to a smaller package," Reid said. "We feel that the American people need a message. The message that they need is that we're doing something about jobs."
According to Harry Reid, this bill is not about actually creating jobs. It's about sending a political "message" that "we're doing something about jobs".
The "jobs" bill is multi billion dollar reelection ad for Congress, paid for with public funds and national debt by increasing the deficit.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
As Haiti begins digging out from under 60 million cubic meters of earthquake wreckage, U.S. firms have begun jockeying for a bonanza of cleanup work.http://www.miamiherald.com/news/americas/haiti/story/1470013.html
It's unclear at this point who will be awarding the cleanup contracts, but there is big money to be made in the rubble of some 225,000 collapsed homes and at least 5,000 government and office buildings.
At least two politically connected U.S. firms have enlisted powerful local allies in Haiti to help compete for the high-stakes business.
Let's hope that "politically connected U.S. firms" with "powerful local allies" do not undo all the good work and good will created by charitable ordinary Americans.
President Obama said Tuesday that he will consider any Republican health care ideas, as long as the ideas address the goals contained in the Democratic plans already passed by the House and Senate.http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2010-02-09-obama-health-care-bipartisan_N.htm
Translation: If you do what I want, I'll throw you a bone, and we can call it bipartisan. If you don't, I'll call you obstructionist.
Obama continues to ignore the deep unpopularity of the healthcare bills pending in Congress.
If Obama were suddenly serious about making a bipartisan effort, he would jettison all the bribes, the kickbacks, the special interest payoffs and the backroom deals from the senate bill. And, he would keep his campaign promises, starting with his promise that employee healthcare benefits would remain untaxed.
The United States is likely to average 95,000 more jobs each month this year, while personal savings will remain high as credit remains tight, according to a White House report released Thursday.http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2010-02-11-obama-jobs-economy_N.htm
The Council of Economic Advisers also trumpeted the $787 billion economic stimulus package, which it said has saved or created about 2 million jobs.
This would be good news . . . if White House economic forecasts had a decent track record, or if White House economic predictions had any credibility, or if any White House economic projections had come true. But, they haven't, so it's not.
[A] separate report showed U.S. mortgage applications dipped last week, reflecting reduced demand for home purchase loans even as rates on 30-year loans fell to their lowest since December.http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6192P020100210
A continuation of lackluster demand for home purchase loans would not bode well for the U.S. housing market, which remains highly vulnerable to setbacks and heavily reliant on government intervention.
If you're upside down on any home loan mortgages, don't expect any relief soon.
A big jump in oil imports swelled the U.S. December trade deficit to $40.2 billion, an unexpected widening that suggested U.S. economic growth was not quite as strong as initially thought in the fourth quarter.
The Commerce Department's report on Wednesday, showing a 10.4 percent jump in the trade gap, came as both U.S. exports and imports recorded large gains for the month.
. . . Oil accounted for most of the import rise, accompanied by smaller increases for autos and capital goods.
So, as the economy makes its first feeble attempts at recovery, we spend more and more of our money on oil imports.
When we will get serious about ending our dependence on foreign oil?
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Sunday that 'there is still time for sanctions and pressure to work' against Iran's nuclear program despite an announcement from Tehran that it would begin production of medium-enriched uranium.http://www.opednews.com/populum/link.php?id=106501
At this rate, we'll still be threatening increased sanctions as Iranian nuclear armed intercontinental ballistic missiles are heading towards us across the Pacific.
By February 2002, President George W. Bush had nominated 89 judges to the lower federal courts. This week, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy prodded President Obama, who has nominated just 42 federal judges to date, to "get up names as quickly as possible." President Obama promised to make this "a priority." He'd better. There are currently 102 vacancies on the federal bench.http://www.slate.com/id/2243845/
Obama can't blame the judicial vacancies on any opposition filibuster. The vacancies exist in large part because Obama hasn't nominated judges for a majority of them.
And, what's the excuse for not doing it when he had 60 votes?
Senate Democrats circulated a jobs bill Tuesday that’s light on new initiatives on boosting hiring and heavy with provisions sought by lobbyists for business groups, doctors and the satellite broadcasting industry. . . The draft has very few new ideas for creating jobs, other than a $10 billion plan to exempt companies from paying the employer’s share of Social Security payroll taxes for new hires if they are unemployed and hired this year. . . . The rest of the measure is mostly comprised of last year’s unfinished business, including renewal of business tax breaks that have expired, an extension of unemployment benefits and health insurance subsidies and forestalling a cut in Medicare payments for doctors. . . . The overall measure would cost roughly $80 billion . . .http://www.thereporteronline.com/articles/2010/02/10/business/doc4b72aeeb680a9777376189.txt
The "$80 billion" dollar senate "jobs" bill will include "$10 billion" for jobs and $70 billion mostly for old ideas recommended by "lobbyists for business groups, doctors and the satellite broadcasting industry".
Are they stupid or evil?
Chris and Candice Basso would like to move up to a larger home this spring, taking advantage of a federal tax credit worth up to $6,500 for repeat home buyers.http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/housing/2010-02-10-moveup10_CV_N.htm
But even a big tax credit won't be enough to lift them into a bigger, better home.
The Centreville, Va., couple are trapped in a two-bedroom townhouse that's worth less than their unpaid mortgage. They face the same predicament with a condo that they own and rent out. Unable to sell either property for what they owe and with their equity wiped out, a new mortgage is out of the question.
They gave the bail out money to the banks, and trusted the banks to help out upside down homeowners. Of course, they didn't.
If they had given grants directly to upside down homeowners, in the amount by which they were underwater, payable directly to the lenders on the homeowners' behalf, in reduction of the home mortgages, both banks and homeowners would have been bailed out, and consumers would be spending again.
That was the dumbest move so far. (The second dumbest was giving all the "cash for clunkers" money to Japanese and Korean automakers, and not requiring recipients to "Buy American".)
Even as they call for reining in the record federal budget deficit of $1.6 trillion, more than one-third of the nation's 100 U.S. senators have criticized proposed spending cuts in President Obama's budget that would affect their states.http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2010-02-09-spending_N.htm
You can't cut the deficit without cutting spending and / or raising taxes.
But, if you do, the economy will boom. That's what Clinton did, and we had budget surpluses and record prosperity during the Clinton years.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
I'm sure Sarah Palin never requires similar crib notes for the art of amour. Todd puts on the pirate suit, she pretends to be Rhonda Fleming, and the ocean waves heave to the rhythm of their rocking.http://www.vanityfair.com/online/wolcott/2010/02/as-soon-as-the-amusing.html
It's as if someone told all the fey intellectuals that they can play sexist super stud, and write about a politician's "boobs", and speculate about her sex life, as long as the subject is Palin.
Substitute the name of any Democratic female politician and her spouse in that sentence, and Wolcott would be expelled from "progressive" New York art and dance circles.
Palin - "a blend of Nixon and Buchanan", with boobs and a Christianism now fused into Republicanism - is a lethal force in the land.
"With boobs"? Why are there no professional feminists or women's groups rushing to Palin's defense?
If you oppose Obama's healthcare or spending plans, the media calls you racist. But, if Palin is attacked or demeaned in expressly sexual terms, the media just joins in the fun.
By ignoring Palin's stands on the issues, and exclusively focusing on her person and personality, the media may get her elected president. Not because people agree with her, but because people see she's being treated unfairly.
At the private White House meeting today between Obama and Congressional leaders, the President and John Boehner got into a testy exchange . . . [over] Obama’s proposal for a bipartisan fiscal commission on how to get control over the deficit.http://theplumline.whorunsgov.com/senate-republicans/obama-to-boehner-republicans-just-want-to-kill-all-my-initiatives/
Obama asked Boehner and Mitch McConnell if they were prepared to commit to appointing members to the commission. Boehner pushed back, aides say, arguing that if the White House is serious about cutting spending, he should should start now, and suggested Obama use his rescissions authority to send spending cut proposals to the Hill.
Boehner pledged GOP cooperation if Obama sent such proposals to Congress. But he and McConnell refused to commit to appointing members to the commission.
That's a good question. If Obama wants to cut spending, he can . . . cut spending. The president has rescissions authority to send spending cut proposals to Congress.
The answer is obvious. Obama doesn't want to cut spending. Instead, he wants to do nothing about the deficit (except increase it), appoint yet another commission, and claim "Job done!"