"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." -- Theodore Roosevelt


One of Salem Oregon's Unofficial Top 1000 Conservative Political Bloggers!!!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Freddie Mac Continues to Hemorrhage Money: $1.7 Billion in 3 Months

From the AP article by Marcy Gordon:

"Government-controlled mortgage buyer Freddie Mac managed a narrower loss of $1.7 billion for the October-December quarter of last year. But it has asked for an additional $500 million in federal aid - up from the $100 million it sought in the previous quarter.

"Freddie Mac also posted a $19.8 billion loss for all of 2010.

"The government rescued Freddie Mac and sibling company Fannie Mae in September 2008 to cover their losses on soured mortgage loans. It estimates the bailouts will cost taxpayers as much as $259 billion.

[...]

"Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac own or guarantee about half of all mortgages in the U.S., or nearly 31 million home loans worth more than $5 trillion. Along with other federal agencies, they played some part in almost 90 percent of new mortgages over the past year.

"Fannie and Freddie buy home loans from banks and other lenders, package them into bonds with a guarantee against default and sell them to investors around the world.

"The government's estimated cost of bailing out the mortgage giants far exceeds the $132.3 billion they have received from taxpayers so far. That would make theirs the costliest bailout of the financial crisis."

I see no problem here. Move on...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ore. Dem Wu Says Painkillers were to Blame for Erratic Behavior and Sending Pics of Himself in Tiger Costume


Well, at least Democratic Congressional Rep. David Wu didn't say it was because he was dehydrated...


"An Oregon congressman said Tuesday that he accepted prescription drugs from a campaign contributor last October, around the same time members of his staff complained of his erratic behavior.

"Rep. David Wu told The Oregonian in a written response to a query that he had left another kind of painkiller — one prescribed by his doctor for neck pain — in Washington. He said the donor offered him an alternative, and he took two tablets.

"'This was the only time that this has ever happened,' Wu wrote. 'I recognize that my action showed poor judgment at the time, and I sincerely regret having put my staff in a difficult position.'

"Earlier Tuesday, Wu said on ABC's 'Good Morning America' that it was 'unprofessional and inappropriate' for him to send pictures of himself wearing a tiger costume to staff members.
Wu said the photos were taken while he was 'joshing around' with his children in October just before Halloween.

"One photo shows Wu wearing an orange and black striped tiger outfit with pointy ears and striped mittens. Portland newspapers reported that campaign staffers pleaded with Wu to seek psychiatric help in the final week before the November election, but he refused.

"The Oregonian and Willamette Week on Friday, citing interviews with a number of anonymous staff members, reported that the 55-year-old Wu was increasingly unpredictable on the campaign trial and in private last fall, and had several angry and loud outbursts.

"The newspapers reported that campaign staffers were appalled by a series of e-mails sent from Wu's federally issued BlackBerry that included the photo of him in the tiger costume. But more disturbing, staffers said, were e-mails written in the voice of his adolescent children.

"In an October speech to a friendly audience at a meeting of Washington County Democrats, Wu lashed out at his opponent and the media. He also talked his way past a security checkpoint to campaign for votes at the airport around that time, according to reports.

"Wu on Tuesday acknowledged sending the tiger costume photos and said he has sought mental health treatment, including counseling and medication. He said in the ABC interview that he's 'in a good place now,' but he said he ruled out inpatient treatment because he couldn't spend time away from his family.

"'Last October was not a good month. It was very stressful. I did some things, I said some things, which I sincerely regret now,' Wu said.

"The seven-term congressman assured voters he is fit to remain in office."

Of course Wu's fine... I mean, just because your staff wants you to get mental help isn't really much of an indication of a problem or anything... And clearly his odd behavior for October was due to the fact that he took the wrong prescription medications. It could happen to anyone.

I'm a little curious as to what the name and occupation of the campaign contributor who furnished Wu with the prescription pain meds might be. Apparently, he or she contributed drugs in addition to money. But nothing to see here. Move on...

I find it particularly interesting that the AP article completely neglects to mention that Wu is a Democrat. Not once is it said. Instead, the best we get is when the AP states about two-thirds of the way way through the article that "[i]n an October speech to a friendly audience at a meeting of Washington County Democrats, Wu lashed out at his opponent and the media."

Shh. Don't tell anyone, but Wu, the guy in the tiger suit, is a Democrat.

Keep on shilling AP.

Obama's DOJ Refuses to Defend DOMA, Perhaps Ushering In Era of Selective Enforcement


The Department of Justice has announced it will refuse to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act. Eric Holder, after consultation with Obama, has decided to stop defending key portions of the law.

William Jacobson at Legal Insurrection has an excellent overview, and rightly points out that this political game is a massive power grab by the Obama administration.

From Jacobson:

"The decision by the the Department of Justice to refuse to defend the Defense of Marriage Act is a massive power grab by the Executive Branch.

"The Justice Department is tasked with representing the 'government' is the broad sense in legal matters coming before the courts. There is no congressional Justice Department. Whether it likes a law or not, the Justice Department traditionally has fulfilled the role of arguing for the constitutionality of a law if there were any good faith basis for doing so, because someone has to represent the will of the legislative branch in the courts.

[...]

"While opponents of DOMA will be cheering, this is misguided. As Orin Kerr points out, what goes around comes around, and there may be a host of legislation passed under Obama which a Republican administration could subvert by refusing to defend.

"Similar thoughts at Point of Law Blog:

"'I'm not a fan of the Defense of Marriage Act, but I do have a large problem with the politicization of the role of the Department of Justice. Strip away the gay-rights issue and consider the question: what would Democrats say if, in 2013, President Sarah Palin announced that her Department of Justice would refuse to defend the constitutionality of Obamacare in court? There is no provision in the Constitution for a retroactive veto. Compare and contrast the Bush administration Department of Justice, which steadfastly (and successfully) defended McCain-Feingold and enforced FACEA.'

"Is this really how we want our system of justice to work?

"The President for whom the words 'rule of law' flow so easily from the teleprompter doesn't seem to know what the words actually mean."

I guess anything to get people's minds off of unemployment and fleeing Democrat lawmakers... The short-sightedness of the Obama administration is astonishing to me.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Bahraini Protesters Once Again Fill Pearl Square in Capital



"Thousands of singing and dancing protesters streamed back into Manama's central Pearl Square Saturday after Bahrain's leaders withdrew tanks and riot police following two straight days of a bloody crackdown by security forces in the tiny monarchy.

"The royal family, which was quick to use force earlier this week against demonstrators in the landmark square that has been the heart of the anti-government demonstrations, appeared to back away from further confrontation following international pressure from the West.

"The demonstrators had emulated successful uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt in attempting to bring political change to Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet — the centerpiece of Washington's efforts to confront Iranian military influence in the region.

"Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, deputy supreme commander of the armed forces, appealed for calm and political dialogue in a brief address on state TV.

"People circling through the square clapped, whistled and wept. Some wore white sheets symbolizing their readiness for martyrdom, while others carried Bahraini flags, flowers and signs that said 'Peaceful.'

"'We are victorious!' they chanted as they marched back into the square that has been the headquarters for their revolt against the Sunni monarchy in the predominantly Shiite island nation.

"They also chanted: 'The people want the removal of the regime.'

"As night fell, defiant protesters erected barriers, wired a sound system, set up a makeshift medical tent and deployed lookouts to warn of approaching security forces.

"President Barack Obama discussed the situation with King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, asking him to hold those responsible for the violence accountable. He said in a statement that Bahrain must respect the 'universal rights' of its people and embrace 'meaningful reform.'"

Once again, nebulously important-sounding but completely useless words from Obama. They signify nothing. He and his administration are so carefully vague in their language-- which demonstrates that they really have little understanding of what is happening there and why.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Surprise! Obama Favors Wisconsin Unions Over Taxpayers


So much for Obama the Great Uniter... and Obama the Centrist, for that matter. But it's all Bush and Cheney's fault-- somehow.

The only surprise is that the Community-Organizer-in-Chief has so openly backed union interests over tax payers and fiscal responsibility. After all, the OFA have been openly supporting the protesters from the beginning and had a hand in the organizing the protests to begin with.


"President Obama thrust himself and his political operation this week into Wisconsin's broiling budget battle, mobilizing opposition Thursday to a Republican bill that would curb public-worker benefits and planning similar protests in other state capitals.

"Obama accused Scott Walker, the state's new Republican governor, of unleashing an 'assault' on unions in pushing emergency legislation that would change future collective-bargaining agreements that affect most public employees, including teachers.

"The president's political machine worked in close coordination Thursday with state and national union officials to get thousands of protesters to gather in Madison and to plan similar demonstrations in other state capitals.

[...]

"The White House political operation, Organizing for America, got involved Monday, after Democratic National Committee Chairman Timothy M. Kaine, a former Virginia governor, spoke to union leaders in Madison, a party official said.

"The group made phone calls, distributed messages via Twitter and Facebook, and sent e-mails to state and national lists to try to build crowds for rallies Wednesday and Thursday, a party official said.

"National Republican leaders, who have praised efforts similar to Walker's, leapt to his defense.

"House Speaker John A. Boehner (Ohio) issued a stern rebuke of the White House, calling on Obama to wave off his political operation and stop criticizing the governor.

"'This is not the way you begin an "adult conversation" in America about solutions to the fiscal challenges that are destroying jobs in our country,' Boehner said in a statement, alluding to the president's call for civility in budget talks. 'Rather than shouting down those in office who speak honestly about the challenges we face, the president and his advisers should lead.'

[...]

"By aligning himself closely with unions, Obama is siding with a core segment of the Democratic Party base - but one that has chafed in recent weeks as the president has sought to rebuild his image among centrist voters by reaching out to business leaders."

Surely, it is not the role of the president to meddle in local politics, especially after his party's spending policies were soundly rebuked in Wisconsin and all across America in the last election.

Bahraini Troops Fire on Protesters




"Soldiers opened fire Friday on thousands of protesters defying a government ban and streaming toward the landmark square that had been the symbolic center of the uprising to break the political grip of the Gulf nation's leaders.

"Officials at the main Salmaniya hospital said at least 50 people were injured, some with gunshot wounds. Some doctors and medics on emergency medical teams were in tears as they tended to the wounded. X-rays showed bullets still lodged inside victims.

"'This is a war,' said Dr. Bassem Deif, an orthopedic surgeon examining people with bullet-shattered bones.

"Health ministry officials said in a statement that seven people were critically injured.

"Protesters described a chaotic scene of tear gas clouds, bullets coming from many directions and people slipping in pools of blood as they sought cover. Some claimed the gunfire came from either helicopters or sniper nests, a day after riot police swept through the protest encampment in Pearl Square, killing at least five people and razing the tents and makeshift shelters that were inspired by the demonstrators in Cairo's Tahrir Square.

"The clash came hours after funeral mourners and worshippers at Friday prayers called for the toppling of the Western-allied monarchy in the tiny island nation that is home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, the centerpiece of the Pentagon's efforts to confront Iranian military influence. Some members of Bahrain's Sunni ruling system worry that Shiite powerhouse Iran could use Bahrain's majority Shiites as a further foothold in the region."

Obama is running the same by-the-numbers response from Egypt, urging restraint and pretty much vaguely backing the protesters without knowing who they are, what they want, nor who backs them. And of course without taking into account what is in the best interests of the US allies in the region. Amateur ideologue...

From the AP:

"U.S. President Barack Obama condemned the reports of violence against the protesters in Bahrain, Libya and Yemen, urging government restraint.

"'I am deeply concerned about reports of violence in Bahrain, Libya and Yemen. The United States condemns the use of violence by governments against peaceful protesters in those countries and wherever else it may occur,' Obama said. 'The United States urges the governments of Bahrain, Libya and Yemen to show restraint in responding to peaceful protests and to respect the rights of their people.'"

Of course Obama didn't mention of the unrest in Iran. It is interesting how quickly he has jumped onto the protesters band wagon elsewhere, but steadfastly refused to condemn the violent crackdown of the Green Revolution by the Iranian government. What does that say?

Back to the article:

"Bahrain's king appointed Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa to lead a dialogue 'with all parties,' though it was unclear whether furious protesters would respond to the overture. Speaking on Bahrain's State TV, Salman expressed condolences for 'these painful days' and called for unity.

"'We are at a crossroads,' Salman said. 'Youths are going out on the street believing that they have no future in the country, while others are going out to express their love and loyalty. But this country is for you all, for the Shiites and Sunnis.'"

[...]

"At a Shiite mosque in the village of Diraz, an anti-government hotbed, imam Isa Qassim called the Pearl Square assault a 'massacre' and thousands of worshippers chanted: 'The regime must go.'

"In a sign of Bahrain's deep divisions, government loyalists filled Manama's Grand Mosque to hear words of support for the monarchy and take part in a post-sermon march protected by security forces. Many arrived with Bahraini flags draped over the traditional white robes worn by Gulf men. Portraits of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa were distributed.

"'We must protect our country,' said Adnan al-Qattan, the cleric leading prayers. 'We are living in dangerous times.'

"He denounced attempts to 'open the doors to evil and foreign influences' — an apparent reference to suspicions that Shiite powerhouse Iran could take advantages of any gains by Bahrain's Shiites, who account for about 70 percent of the population.

"The pro-government gathering had many nonnative Bahrainis, including South Asians and Sunni Arabs from around the region. Shiite have long complained of policies giving Sunnis citizenship and jobs, including posts in security forces, to offset the Shiite majority."

Lots of activity in Bahrain, and it's hard to say what will happen. However, my money is on the Sunni government staying in place-- especially since Saudi Arabia takes such an interest in keeping Iranian expansionism in check. There might be some token reforms within the Bahraini government, but the main players will stay largely the same. There's no guarantees, of course.

Wisconsin a Test Case for Unions and States Governments?




Are the Wisconsin protests a test for the unions nationwide?


"Nearly 4,000 government union workers crowded the Ohio Statehouse today, protesting a bill by Republican state senator Shannon Jones that would eliminate some collective bargaining rights for public union employees in the state.

[...]

"In Indiana, over 600 United Steelworkers members protested Tuesday, opposing legislation that would make Indiana a right-to-work state and a different bill that would reduce unemployment benefits.

"Bottom line: What happens in Wisconsin could easily have a ripple effect across the nation. If the unions win, watch for them to challenge other governors just as aggressively. If they don’t win, that could embolden state legislators to vote for legislation unions oppose."

Maybe that's true, but either way Wisconsin legislators and the governor have to dig in here. The mid-west cannot give in to union threats, vitriol and protests.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Wisconsin Republican Lawmakers Face Threats of Attack

Wisconsin Gov Scott Walker Portrayed as Hitler photo by Ann Althouse


More Leftist civility: Hitler posters and physical threats-- in addition to the name-calling vitriol and walkouts.

Wasn't this the kind of response everyone expected from the Right after Obama was elected, or when ObamaCare was passed? It didn't happen. But it does happen in Wisconsin when you take on the Democrat-allied unions.


"Randy Hopper is a state senator in Wisconsin. A Republican. He is now holed up with his colleagues — his Republican colleagues — in the capitol. The Democratic senators have apparently fled the state. Hopper says, 'None of my colleagues from the minority party decided to come to work today.'

"The Democrats are denying the Republicans the quorum necessary to vote on key fiscal legislation.

[...]

"Hopper has received threatening phone calls and e-mails. These are threats of a physical nature. 'We are working with law enforcement in my district. They are watching my home and my business.' Other Republicans have had their homes and businesses threatened, too. The unionists have demonstrated outside those homes and businesses.

"A menacing old phrase comes to mind (and has been used by others, in talking about events in Wisconsin): We know where you live.

"Hopper says, 'I've always said that they can threaten me all they want, but it’s not going to stop me from doing what the people elected me to do.' And he says more than once, 'We’re still here.' The Republicans have not run anywhere.

"They have been pushed around (literally), screamed at, etc. The capitol is surrounded. The signs carried by the protesters are 'vicious,' says Hopper. There are comparisons of Gov. Scott Walker to Hitler, of course. And there are other signs 'I won’t describe to you.'"

Kind of funny that the OFA is funding this kind of stuff-- you know, reaching across the aisle and all that.

And of course there's the money involved. Michelle Malkin has a very, very long list of Illinois educators making $100,000+ a year in Wisconsin. Check it out. Do you think they're not going to scream "Hitler" to try to save that sort of money? Guess again.

Obama's OFA Playing Role in Organizing and Promoting Wisconsin Protests



Not exactly a shocker but still extremely inappropriate.


"The Democratic National Committee's Organizing for America arm -- the remnant of the 2008 Obama campaign -- is playing an active role in organizing protests against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's attempt to strip most public employees of collective bargaining rights.

"OfA, as the campaign group is known, has been criticized at times for staying out of local issues like same-sex marraige, but it's riding to the aide of the public sector unions who hoping to persuade some Republican legislators to oppose Walker's plan. And while Obama may have his difference with teachers unions, OfA's engagement with the fight -- and Obama's own clear stance against Walker -- mean that he's remaining loyal to key Democratic Party allies at what is, for them, a very dangerous moment.

"OfA Wisconsin's field efforts include filling buses and building turnout for the rallies this week in Madison, organizing 15 rapid response phone banks urging supporters to call their state legislators, and working on planning and producing rallies, a Democratic Party official in Washington said [emphasis mine]."

Nice to see some of that OFA's genuine grass roots support in action... just like the Coffee Party in that sense, right?

Meanwhile the Dem State Senators are still hiding to avoid the vote. Talk about burying your head in the sand...

Bahraini Troops Rout Protesters



"Troops and tanks locked down the capital of this tiny Gulf kingdom after riot police swinging clubs and firing tear gas smashed into demonstrators, many of them sleeping, in a pre-dawn assault Thursday that uprooted their protest camp demanding political change. Medical officials said four people were killed.

"Hours after the attack on Manama's main Pearl Square, the military announced a ban on gatherings, saying on state TV that it had 'key parts' of the capital under its control.

"After several days of holding back, the island nation's Sunni rulers unleashed a heavy crackdown, trying to stamp out the first anti-government upheaval to reach the Arab states of the Gulf since the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. In the surprise assault, police tore down protesters' tents, beating men and women inside and blasting some with shotgun sprays of birdshot.

"It was a sign of how deeply the Sunni monarchy — and other Arab regimes in the Gulf — fear the repercussions of a prolonged wave of protests, led by members of the country's Shiite majority but also joined by growing numbers of discontented Sunnis.

"Tiny Bahrain is a pillar of Washington's military framework in the region. It hosts the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, which is a critical counterbalance to Iran. Bahrain's rulers and their Arab allies depict any sign of unrest among their Shiite populations as a move by neighboring Shiite-majority Iran to expand its clout in the region.

[...]

"The capital Manama was effectively shut down Thursday. For the first time in the crisis, tanks rolled into the streets and military checkpoints were set up as army patrols circulated. The Interior Ministry warned Bahrainis to stay off the streets. Banks and other key institutions did not open, and workers stayed home, unable or to afraid to pass through checkpoints to get to their jobs.

"Barbed wire and police cars with flashing blue lights encircled Pearl Square, the site of anti-government rallies since Monday. The square was turned into a field of flattened tents and the strewn belongings of the protesters who had camped there — pieces of clothing and boxes of food.

[...]

"The violence killed four people, said hospital officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

"Bahrain's parliament — minus opposition lawmakers who are staging a boycott — met in emergency session. One pro-government member, Jamila Salman, broke into tears. A leader of the Shiite opposition Abdul-Jalil Khalil said 18 lawmakers resigned to protest the killings.

[...]

"While the protests began as a cry for the country's Sunni monarchy to loosen its grip, the uprising's demands have steadily grown bolder. Many protesters called for the government to provide more jobs and better housing, free all political detainees and abolish the system that offers Bahraini citizenship to Sunnis from around the Middle East.

"Increasingly, protesters also chanted slogans to wipe away the entire ruling dynasty that has led Bahrain for more than 200 years and is firmly backed by the Sunni sheiks and monarchs across the Gulf.

"The stability of Bahrain's government is seen as crucial by its other allies in the Gulf, who — though they rarely say it in public — see Bahrain's Shiite majority as the weak link in their unity against Iranian influence.

"Hard-liners in Iran have often expressed kinship and support for Bahrain's Shiites. But in Bahrain, the community staunchly denies being a tool of Tehran, saying their complaints are rooted in their country's unbalanced system."

How will the US respond, other than urge restraint? Maybe Obama can make some flip-flop speeches again as he struggles to back the right horse.

Obama Set to Rebuke Israel at the UN


Unbelievable.


"The U.S. informed Arab governments Tuesday that it will support a U.N. Security Council statement reaffirming that the 15-nation body 'does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity,' a move aimed at avoiding the prospect of having to veto a stronger Palestinian resolution calling the settlements illegal.

"But the Palestinians rejected the American offer following a meeting late Wednesday of Arab representatives and said it is planning to press for a vote on its resolution on Friday, according to officials familar with the issue. The decision to reject the American offer raised the prospect that the Obama adminstration will cast its first ever veto in the U.N. Security Council.

"Still, the U.S. offer signaled a renewed willingness to seek a way out of the current impasse, even if it requires breaking with Israel and joining others in the council in sending a strong message to its key ally to stop its construction of new settlements. U.S. officials were not available for comment, but two Security Council diplomats confirmed the proposal.

[...]

"Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, outlined the new U.S. offer in a closed door meeting on Tuesday with the Arab Group, a bloc of Arab countries from North Africa and the Middle East. In exchange for scuttling the Palestinian resolution, the United States would support the council statement, consider supporting a U.N. Security Council visit to the Middle East, the first since 1979, and commit to supporting strong language criticizing Israel's settlement policies in a future statement by the Middle East Quartet.

"The U.S.-backed draft statement -- which was first reported by Al Hurra -- was obtained by Turtle Bay. In it, the Security Council 'expresses its strong opposition to any unilateral actions by any party, which cannot prejudge the outcome of negotiations and will not be recognized by the international community, and reaffirms, that it does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity, which is a serious obstacle to the peace process.' The statement also condemns 'all forms of violence, including rocket fire from Gaza, and stresses the need for calm and security for both peoples.'

[...]

"The U.S. concession comes as the Middle East is facing a massive wave of popular demonstrations that have brought down the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt and are posing a challenge to governments in Algeria, Bahrain, and Iran." And Yemen, though it's not mentioned.


The Obama Administration has from the beginning worked its policies from the erroneous theory that Muslim hostility to the US is mainly due to Israel's existence. This is, most charitably, wishful thinking with no basis in reality. And now we see here Obama's "smart diplomacy" in action. After ingratiating apology speeches that demonstrated the Obama Administration's ignorance of the various Muslims' cultures and histories utterly failed, the Obama Administration will now rebuke Israel to satiate those hot tempers. Idiocy...

People have wondered if Obama would go down in history as the president who lost Egypt. That's probably a best case scenario. The real question is will Obama be the president who presided over a major war against Israel, and will he be the president that fiddled while the Middle East burned.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Protests in Yemen



Protests have spread to Yemen.


"Authorities flooded the streets of Yemen's capital with 2,000 police Wednesday to try to halt six days of Egypt-style demonstrations against the president of 32 years, a key U.S. ally in battling al-Qaida. One person was killed when police and protesters clashed in the southern port of Aden in the first known death during Yemen's political unrest.

"The police, including plainclothes officers, fired in the air and blocked thousands of students at Sanaa University from joining thousands of other protesters in the capital of the Arab world's most impoverished nation.

"A call spread via Facebook and Twitter urging Yemenis to join a series of 'One Million People' rallies on a so-called 'Friday of Rage' in all Yemeni cities, seeking the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

"'We will remain in the streets until the regime departure,' according to a statement posted on Facebook. Copies signed by a group named the Feb. 24 Movement were distributed among youth via e-mail. The group is taking that name because organizers hope to have their biggest protest on that day next week.

"Taking inspiration from the toppling of autocratic leaders in Egypt and Tunisia, the protesters are demanding political reforms and Saleh's resignation, complaining of poverty, unemployment and corruption.

"Saleh has tried to defuse protesters' anger amid the unprecedented street demonstrations by saying he will not run for another term in 2013 and that he will not seek to set up his son, Ahmed, to succeed him in the conflict-ridden and impoverished nation.

[...]

"Saleh has become a key U.S. partner in battling al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, the terrorist network's offshoot in Yemen. The group's several hundred fighters have battled Saleh's U.S.-backed forces and have been linked to attacks beyond Yemen's borders, including the failed attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner in December 2009. The U.S. military plans a $75 million training program with Yemen's counterterrorism unit to expand its size and capabilities in the nation's mountainous terrain.

"It's a difficult balancing act for Saleh, who has been criticized as being too close to the United States.

"Yemeni state TV reported that Saleh has been holding meetings since Sunday with heads of tribes to prevent them from joining the anti-government protests.

[...]

"About 120 judges held a protest in front of the Ministry of Justice in Sanaa, calling for an independent judiciary and better salaries. It was the first demonstration by judges in Yemen.

"Saleh's government is weak — its control barely extends beyond the capital and is dependent on fragile alliances with powerful tribes — and it faces other serious challenges."

These challenges include both north and south Yemen threatening to secede.

This is why ingratiating speeches from the president is not really an American foreign policy. I have posted before about Obama weakening American allies with his apologies and promises to not unilaterally...

The collapse of Yemen's current government would pretty much put an end to any resistance to the Islamic terrorists in the country. Following a collapse, the terrorist groups will undoubtedly involve themselves in the tribal conflicts, but if they don't become an active threat against the tribal leaders as a whole, then they will be quite secure. None of the local tribes could dislodge the terrorist groups by themselves should they have the desire. If the terrorist groups back the right tribal coalitions (not unlike what bin Laden did in Afghanistan), then Yemen could as safe and secure for al Qaeda and their ilk as Taliban-ruled Afghanistan was.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Bahrain Experiencing Unrest and Violent Protests


Bahrain is yet another country in the Middle East embroiled in civil unrest.


"Thousands of protesters poured into a main square in Bahrain's capital Tuesday in an Egypt-style rebellion that sharply escalated pressure on authorities as the Arab push for change gripped the Gulf for the first time.

"Security forces have battled demonstrators calling for political reforms and greater freedoms over two days, leading to the deaths of two protesters and the main opposition group vowing to freeze its work in parliament in protest.

"In a clear sign of concern over the widening crisis, Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa made a rare national TV address, offering condolences for the deaths, pledging an investigation into the killings and promising to push ahead with reforms, which include loosening state controls on the media and Internet.

[...]

"Oppositions groups aren't calling for the ruling Sunni monarchy to be ousted, but they do want an end to its grip on key decisions and government posts.

"Other demands — listed on a poster erected in the square — included the release of all political prisoners, more jobs and housing, an elected Cabinet and the replacement of longtime prime minister, Sheik Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa.

[...]

"The nation's majority Shiites — about 70 percent of the population of some 500,000_ have long complained of discrimination and being blackballed from important state jobs.

"Many in the square waved Bahraini flags and chanted: 'No Sunnis, no Shiites. We are all Bahrainis.' It also appeared they were planning for the long haul. Some groups carried in tents and sought generators to set up under a nearly 300-foot (90-meter) monument cradling a giant white pearl-shaped ball that symbolizes the country's heritage as a pearl diving center.

"Bahrain is one of the most politically volatile nations in the Middle East's wealthiest corner despite having one of the few elected parliaments and some of the most robust civil society groups. A crackdown on perceived dissent last year touched off weeks of riots and clashes in Shiite villages, and an ongoing trial in Bahrain accuses 25 Shiites of plotting against the country's leadership.

"A prolonged showdown could draw in the region's two biggest rivals: Saudi Arabia, as close allies of Bahrain's Sunni monarchy, and Iran, whose hard-liners have spoken in support of the nation's Shiite majority [emphasis mine]."

The last sentence is especially important. It's hard to say exactly what will happen in Bahrain, but the possibility of long, violent protests that escalate into a full-scale revolution is very possible. Clearly the king of Bahrain senses the possibility as demonstrated by his appearance on TV.

The Muslim Brotherhood exists in Bahrain as the Al Eslah Society, the president of which, Isa bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, is a member of Bahrain's royal family. The political wing of the Al Eslah Society is the Al-Menbar Islamic Society. In the Dec. 2010 election, the Al-Menbar Islamic Society won only 2 seats in the Council of Representatives which has 40 members. However, the Al-Menbar Islamic Society is very well organized and, as noted, has associates within the royal family of Bahrain. They could flourish with a little chaos.

If a violent Revolution should happen (which could happen with or without the support of the Muslim Brotherhood), Bahrain could become a key battleground in a proxy war. The Saudis and Iranians could turn the country of Bahrain into something like Beirut from the 1980s with various factions with foreign support fighting for dominance.

It is a place worth watching, and the implications of a weakened and violent Bahrain are significant for the region. Given that the Obama Administration had no contingencies for a revolution in Egypt beyond trotting out Obama to give speeches desperately trying to back the right horse, Bahrain will receive little advice and no help from the US should the situation escalate.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Were WMDs Found in San Diego or Elsewhere in the US?

There's a local San Diego news (10 News San Diego, an ABC affiliate) video making the rounds, in which a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent seemed to have confirmed that weapons of mass destruction have been found by U.S. officials in the past. Maybe.

Bob McCarty at BigJournalism.com has an article here, coupled with a couple of shaky videos someone filmed while watching the TV news reports. The television news reports themselves are unwarrantably alarmist (especially once the raw footage of the interview is viewed), and the news anchors actively misconstrue what was really said by assistant port director Al Hallor.

The 10news.com article is better and can be found here. It reads:

"10News was granted access to San Diego's seaport for a firsthand look at how Customs and Border Protection officers safeguard against weapons of mass effect.

"'Given the open waterways and the access to the Navy fleet here, I'd say, absolutely, San Diego is a target,' said Al Hallor, who is the assistant port director and an officer with Customs and Border Protection.

"10News investigative reporter Mitch Blacher asked, 'Do you ever find things that are dangerous like a chemical agent or a weaponized device?'

"'At the airport, seaport, at our port of entry we have not this past fiscal year, but our partner agencies have found those things,' said Hallor."

This exchange came a bit later in the article:

"'So, specifically, you're looking for the dirty bomb? You're looking for the nuclear device?' asked Blacher.

"'Correct. Weapons of mass effect,' Hallor said.

"'You ever found one?' asked Blacher.

"'Not at this location,' Hallor said.

"'But they have found them?' asked Blacher.

"Yes,' said Hallor.

"'You never found one in San Diego though?' Blacher asked.

"'I would say at the port of San Diego we have not,' Hallor said.

"'Have you found one in San Diego?' Blacher asked.

"The interview was interrupted [by a public affairs officer] before Hallor was able to answer the question."

Huh.

Hallor is clearly hesitant and nervous in the interview. He is also clearly not used to being interviewed by the news which could be the reason for his nervousness (it was very obviously at least a partial factor). Did Hallor misspeak? If he did, he did so twice about the same subject, which is possible.

To their great credit, channel 10 has posted the raw video here. It's only about 6 minutes 30 seconds long, but it is very interesting. Check it out.

From the video:

(from about 2:53 in the video)

Blacher: Do you ever catch dangerous stuff, like uh... chemical agents, bombs?

Hallor: (sighs) Um... I don't know how to answer that one.

Hallor then asks a partially off camera woman, almost certainly the public affairs officer, about how to answer the question. Lots of inaudibles follow and not much of an answer is given.

In print this appears far more nefarious then it actually is on the video, but clearly Hallor and the public affairs officer have a list of "do not dos and mentions" in their guidelines regarding interviews. Another example of this, but hardly an alarming one, is at about 4:53 of the video when Hallor asks the likely public affairs officer if he should or should not talk specifically about the RID device, which is simply a part of the procedure to detect radiation in cargo containers.

The exchange about finding weapons of mass effect in San Diego transcribed in the 10 news article occurs at about 5:45 of the raw video. Right after the short largely inaudible exchange between Hallor, the public affairs officer and Blacher, this happens:

Blacher: Okay. You never found one in San Diego?

Hallor: (makes pained face before answering) I would say in the Port of San Diego, we have not.

Blacher: Have you found one in San Diego?

Hallor: (after about a six second pause) Trying to--

Public Affairs Officer (partially inaudible): Yeah, we'll just talk about the Port of San Diego. I'll follow up later because personally [inaudible] ever. So, I just want to double check to make sure we give them accurate information. So I'll follow up later about that.

As the 10 News article says, Customs and Border Protection sent this statement after the interview:

"CBP has not specifically had any incidents with nuclear devices or nuclear materials at our ports of entry. CBP is an all-threats agency. The purpose of many security measures is to prevent threats from ever materializing by being prepared for them. And, we must be prepared to stop threats in whatever form they do materialize at the border, whether it’s an individual or cargo arriving by land, air, or sea. Regardless of what the contraband or threat is, we’re being smart, evaluating, and focusing in on anything or anyone that is potentially high-risk.

"We were able to show you first-hand one example of how we evaluate segment risk, inspect, etc. in the cargo environment by air and sea here in San Diego. This is one portion of the CBP mission, and hopefully gives you some examples of how much has evolved in the past decade, with the new technologies we have at our disposal. This, coupled with document requirements at the border, advanced passenger and cargo information, better information sharing, and many other measures help us to secure the border - and each measure doesn’t work individually or in a vacuum, but rather in the layered security that we were able to demonstrate one facet of."

I don't quite know what to make of all this. Local news in Southern California (as local news does elsewhere, I am sure) often jump on "scoops" and excitedly over-report on subjects that turn out to be nothing-- such as the Southern California "missile" incident (it was an aircraft's contrail).

Was this incident another nothing? Most likely.

Much of Hallor's hesitancy appears to come from wanting to be as accurate and specific as possible to the questions asked, as well as being on guard to some out-of-context "gotcha" moment. Likewise his nervousness could have been entirely from being camera shy. Hallor's manner suggests that he is not often called upon to do television interviews.

That being said, clearly Hallor said something that he should not have. Either he misspoke or let something slip.

The questions are:

When Hallor answered "yes" to the question "Have they found them [weapons of mass effect]?", was he accurate?

Did Hallor misunderstand the question, or did he get a little confused by the line of questioning due to being nervous? Could Hallor have thought that the "they" in the question referred to the devices that detect radioactive materials?

It would seem that if weapons of mass effect had been found and that the knowledge of was well-known enough for Hallor to be privy it, it would be almost impossible to keep it out of the public eye for so long. And the sort of slips that Hallor makes throughout the raw video seem mostly due to stage fright and being very intent about not saying something that could be misconstrued-- a bit of irony there, I suppose.

That said, Hallor does seem to make the same mistake twice, and the statement from Customs and Border Protection addresses only "nuclear devices or nuclear materials at our ports of entry" and not non-nuclear weapons of mass effect. It's a little too specific for my tastes-- but, once again both government agencies and the media must play by the card regarding these sort of issues.

My bet is that this is all much ado but nothing-- but, I don't want to just completely dismiss the other possibility. It would certainly be nice if the media would follow up on this to confirm it one way or the other. I doubt that they will, though.

Happy Valentine's Day!


Here's hoping everybody has a happy Valentine's Day.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Miserable California


Forbes put out their America's most miserable cities of 2011 list recently. A California city not only took top honors, but 4 out of the top 5 cities were in California. And not coincidentally all four cities are in the swath of land between San Francisco/Sacramento and Merced. And with the exception of Bakersfield (a city that has been lowly regarded since well before I was born), all the California cites are between Sacramento/San Francisco and Fresno. Well, generations of entitlement programs and a hyperactive state legislature can work wonders...

The top 10 cities are:

1) Stockton, CA
2) Miami, FL
3) Merced, CA (about halfway between Fresno and Stockton, and 50 or so miles east of San Jose)
4) Modesto, CA (about halfway between Stockton and Merced)
5) Sacramento, CA
6) Memphis, TN
7) Chicago, IL
8) West Palm Beach, FL
9) Vallejo, CA (about 10- 15 miles north of San Francisco as the crow flies)
10) Cleveland, OH

Fresno (ranked 17th), Salinas (ranked 18th), and Bakersfield (ranked 20th) were all in the top twenty cities. Amazingly Detroit, the city of wild dogs, urban farming, bears, and unbelievable amounts of government corruption, was ranked 15th.

In the Forbes article Kurt Badenhausen states "We considered 10 factors, things that people gripe about around the water cooler every day. Most are serious issues, including unemployment, crime and taxes. A few are not as critical but still elevate people's blood pressure, such as the weather, commute times and local sports-team performance."

Not a perfect list of factors... I think anyone who has lived for any length of time in a high traffic area like the greater Los Angeles area would not refer to commute time as a non-critical factor. And please factor out the sports teams... I mean come on. "Sure, I don't have a job, my car radio was stolen, and my house is now worth 50% of what I paid for it, but the local basketball team is doing great! That makes my day..."

When my wife and I packed up and left California about five years ago, my friends and family were both incredulous and convinced that we'd soon be back after tasting life and weather outside of our home state. To this day, I'm incredulous that they won't leave.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Obama's Ideological Foreign Policy and its Collision with Reality

Not long after posting on The Washington Post's story about Pakistan's rapidly growing nuclear arsenal, I came across Caroline Glick's terrific op-ed on the same subject and it references the same WaPo article. Anyway, she connects the dots between Pakistan, the not-so-great foreign policy the US enacted with it in the past, and Obama's ideological stances that endanger the US, the Middle East, and more. It's an excellent piece of work, and I highly recommend reading the whole work at the link below.

From Glick's essay:

"The Obama administration has been silent on Pakistan's nuclear proliferation activities. As ISIS President David Albright said to the Washington Post, "The administration is always trying to keep people from talking about this knowledgeably.

"'They're always trying to downplay the numbers [of Pakistan's nuclear warheads] and insisting that "it's smaller than you think."'

"Pakistan's nuclear growth goes on as its economy is in shambles, its government is falling apart and a large portion of the country's territory is controlled by the Taliban.

"Pakistan is the largest recipient of US foreign aid. In 2009 Congress approved a five-year $7.5 billion civilian aid package. Last October, the Obama administration proposed supplementing the aid with $2b. for Pakistan's military.

"The administration requested the supplemental aid despite criticism that economic assistance to Pakistan indirectly funds its nuclear project, since Pakistan is in an effective state of bankruptcy.

"Moreover, a US Inspector-General's Report published this week concluded that the $7.5b. in assistance has achieved little.

"For their part, the Pakistani government and military adhere to a radically anti-American line, and Pakistan's powerful ISI intelligence service and large sections of its military continue to maintain intimate ties with al-Qaida and the Taliban.

"Last month, Pakistani police arrested US diplomat Raymond Davis in Lahore after he killed two gunmen who were reportedly about to rob him at gunpoint. Pakistani law enforcement officials have charged Davis with murder and refuse to release him to US custody, despite the fact that he should enjoy the protection of diplomatic immunity. Rather than attempt to quiet passions, the Pakistani government is fanning anti-American sentiments by among other things, releasing a videotape of Davis's police interrogation.

"To date, while members of Congress are beginning to threaten to curtail aid to Pakistan pending Davis's release, the administration has limited its response to this de facto act of hostage-taking by Pakistan to refusing to hold high-level exchanges with Pakistani leaders. And even this limited response has been inconsistently implemented."

Glick then really hits the nail on the regarding the danger that Obama's ideology has put the US and the world in.

"Since taking office, the Obama administration has failed to conceive of a strategy for contending with the situation. One of the main obstacles to the formation of a coherent US strategy is the Obama administration's move to outlaw any discussion of the basic threats to US interests. Shortly after entering office, President Barack Obama banned the use of the term 'War against terror,' substituting it with the opaque term 'overseas contingency operation.'

"Last April, Obama banned use of the terms 'jihad,' 'Islamic terrorism' and 'radical Islam' in US government documents.

"Given that US officials are barred from using all the terms that are relevant for describing reality in places like Pakistan, it is obvious why the US cannot put together a strategy for contending with the challenges it faces there.

"Imagine an intelligence officer in Peshawar trying to report on what he sees. Imagine a defense attaché in Lahore trying to explain the problems with the jihad-infested Pakistani military to his superiors in Washington. Imagine a USAID officer trying to explain why the jihadist-mosque attending public refuses to work at US-funded highway programs.

"The Obama administration's decision to ban relevant language from the official US policy discourse was ideologically motivated. And in choosing ideology over reality, the Obama administration has induced a situation where rather than construct policies to deal with reality, at all levels, US officials have been charged with constructing policies to deny and ignore reality.

"Against this backdrop it becomes fairly clear why the Obama administration's handling of the political turmoil in Egypt has been so incompetent.

"Upon entering office, Obama made a determined effort to ignore the political instability percolating under the surface throughout the authoritarian Arab world. US government officials were instructed to curtail programs aimed at developing liberal alternatives to authoritarianism and the Muslim Brotherhood. The justification for this behavior was again ideological.

"As the world's biggest bully, the US had no moral right to judge the behavior of tyrants like Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

"Once the dutifully ignored long-repressed popular discontent boiled over into the popular revolts we have seen over the past month in Tunisia and Egypt as well as Yemen, Jordan, Algeria and beyond, the Obama administration rushed to get on the 'right side' of the issue. To avoid criticism for refusing to contend with the problems bred by Arab authoritarianism, Obama went to the other extreme. He became the most outspoken champion of unfettered popular democracy in Egypt.

"Of course, to occupy this other side of the spectrum, Obama has had to ignore the danger constituted by the most powerful opposition movement in Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood's hostility towards the US's most fundamental strategic interests in the Middle East has been swept under the rug by the Obama administration and its supporters in the US media.

[...]

"From its slavish devotion to appeasing Iran, its single-minded insistence on withdrawing from Iraq, its announced commitment to withdrawing from Afghanistan, to its tolerance of Hugo Chavez, and its infantile reset button diplomacy towards Russia, the Obama administration's foreign policy is on a collision course with reality."

I really wish that Glick was way off base here, but I'm afraid she isn't. Obama's rank amateurism coupled with his American counter-culture ideology have destabilized much of the world, turning many parts of the underdeveloped world into a very chaotic, and dangerous place. Hope and Change...

Pakistan Doubles its Nuclear Weapon Stockpile


Here's a story that slipped under a lot of people's radar.

From The Washington Post article by Karen DeYoung:

"Pakistan's nuclear arsenal now totals more than 100 deployed weapons, a doubling of its stockpile over the past several years in one of the world's most unstable regions, according to estimates by nongovernment analysts.

"The Pakistanis have significantly accelerated production of uranium and plutonium for bombs and developed new weapons to deliver them. After years of approximate weapons parity, experts said, Pakistan has now edged ahead of India, its nuclear-armed rival.

[...]

"Other nuclear powers have their own interests in the region. China, which sees India as a major regional competitor, has major investments in Pakistan and a commitment to supply it with at least two nuclear-energy reactors.

"Russia has increased its cooperation with India and told Pakistan last week that it was 'disturbed' about its arms buildup."

You would think this news make a bigger splash than it did...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Republican Congressman Christopher Lee Resigns after Craigslist Flirtation


Republican Christopher Lee resigned after details of his flirtations with a girl he met while answering a Craigslist "Women for Men" forum.


"It’s a classic 'boy meets girl' story. Girl places ad in Craigslist’s 'Women for Men' forum; boy responds and kicks off a long, flirty e-mail exchange; boy ends up sending girl cheesy cell-phone photos of him with his shirt off; girl forwards photos and e-mails to Internet gossip site known for lurid stories about politicians and their hook-ups.

"Oh, almost forgot: Boy neglected to tell girl that he’s married, with children, and happens to be a Republican congressman from New York."

Amusingly this comes after current Republican House Speaker John Boehner told him to curb the partying-- which seems to have been a bit of a problem for Lee.


"A topless Craigslist photo might not have been a disgraced ex-Republican congressman's first transgression.

"House Speaker John Boehner warned Buffalo-area Rep. Christopher Lee – who resigned yesterday -- over his partying antics with female lobbyists last year, according to Politico.

"Sources told the political website that Lee was one of several junior GOP lawmakers that Boehner cautioned to "knock it off" with other women. Boehner, who was then House minority leader, had previously made clear that personal misconduct would not be tolerated."

And then there's the obligatory, Jack Benny-style lying about his age...

"The 46-year-old married congressman abruptly called it quits on Wednesday after the website Gawker busted him for sending a shirtless photo and flirty emails to a woman hunting for dates on the Craigslist.

"In the messages sent to the Maryland resident and government employee last month, Lee claimed he was a 39-year-old divorced lobbyist and a 'fit fun classy guy.'

"Lee stepped down 'effectively immediately' just hours after the report was published, although he initially told the site that his email account had been hacked."

And the best of all is the "My Creepy Dad" photos he e-mailed.

How dumb can you be? Good bye and good riddance.

A Father's Tribute to Christopher Monson (aka snaggletoothie)


I had recently posted about the tragic passing of blogger Chris Monson, aka snaggletoothie. I had learning the news from Pat in Shreveport. Once again through Pat, I've found that Chris Monson's father has posted a moving tribute to his son at his blog. Go visit and leave a note, if you are so inclined.

As Pat noted, snaggletoothie's absence is felt, and will continue to be felt, in many corners of the blogosphere.

May he have found peace.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Failure of Multiculturalism?


Much is being made of British PM David Cameron's speech in which he claims that state sponsored multiculturalism has failed and is in some ways responsible for the rise of Islamic extremism and terrorism. Highlights from Cameron's speech can be found here and a full transcript can be found here.

As Jacobson at Legal Insurrection mentions "Cameron was not criticizing multi-racial or multi-ethnic societies; he was proclaiming the failure of policies which sought to segregate and separate groups in the name of multiculturalism rather than assimilating them into existing cultures." That is important to understand.

Like so many other failed European policies eagerly pursued by the American Left, multiculturalism has proven to be a political and social disaster in Europe. What has developed after its implementation, as Cameron noted, is an overriding sense of disconnection and alienation. This is hardly a surprise when introducing immigrants into a situation where their original culture essentially no longer applies due to the geographic setting, and the surrounding culture is both unaccepting (although "tolerantly" so) and inapproachable.

Particularly interesting is when Cameron promotes the idea of "active, muscular liberalism" as opposed to a "passively tolerant society". Differentiating between the two, Cameron said "A passively tolerant society says to its citizens, as long as you obey the law we will just leave you alone. It stands neutral between different values. But I believe a genuinely liberal country does much more; it believes in certain values and actively promotes them. Freedom of speech, freedom of worship, democracy, the rule of law, equal rights regardless of race, sex or sexuality. It says to its citizens, this is what defines us as a society: to belong here is to believe in these things."

Of course Cameron is talking about classical liberalism, and not the current, common American usage of "liberal" stemming from the Left's usurpation of the title.

I have long held the belief that the much vaunted value of "tolerance" is not nearly enough when different races and ethnicities interact. Tolerance is merely a place to start, and should not be thought of as a goal of any significance-- much the way starting a car is not a significant goal when driving from Los Angeles to New York. The result of mere tolerance, left on its own, can be seen across Western Europe now, and yet how often is tolerance held up to be the key and end all to racial harmony in America?

As Obama and the American Left have gone into overdrive to stress identity politics and to promote the alienating position in universities, it would be wise to look over the Western European example. The results of mere tolerance and multiculturalism is fully exhibited there, and, as is being admitted by an increasing number of politicians, it's an utter failure.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Obama Halo Sighted Again



More Obama the savior imagery, this one from February 1st apparently.

I haven't seen one of these in a while, but then again I wasn't really looking. I guess the 2012 campaign is already under way...

Friday, February 4, 2011

Obama and US Betray Britain for New START Treaty

Take that Britain!

It seems that Obama is pulling out all the stops in his attempts to destroy US relations with Great Britain.

From The Telegraph article by Matthew Moore (h/t Anne Leary at Backyard Conservative):

"The US secretly agreed to give the Russians sensitive information on Britain’s nuclear deterrent to persuade them to sign a key treaty, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

"Information about every Trident missile the US supplies to Britain will be given to Russia as part of an arms control deal signed by President Barack Obama next week.

"Defence analysts claim the agreement risks undermining Britain’s policy of refusing to confirm the exact size of its nuclear arsenal.

"The fact that the Americans used British nuclear secrets as a bargaining chip also sheds new light on the so-called 'special relationship', which is shown often to be a one-sided affair by US diplomatic communications obtained by the WikiLeaks website.

[...]

"A series of classified messages sent to Washington by US negotiators show how information on Britain’s nuclear capability was crucial to securing Russia’s support for the 'New START' deal.

"Although the treaty was not supposed to have any impact on Britain, the leaked cables show that Russia used the talks to demand more information about the UK’s Trident missiles, which are manufactured and maintained in the US.

"Washington lobbied London in 2009 for permission to supply Moscow with detailed data about the performance of UK missiles. The UK refused, but the US agreed to hand over the serial numbers of Trident missiles it transfers to Britain."

Brilliant! Obama manages to betray Britain for absolutely no gain whatsoever. This is so absolutely idiotic and incompetent I have to wonder if it isn't on purpose...

As I noted before, the New START treaty basically puts limits on the US arsenal and nothing else. As Andrew Osborne reported, Russian defense minister Anatoly Serdyukov has said that START doesn't effect their capabilities.

"The treaty, known as the 'New START', is the centrepiece of President Barack Obama's much-hyped 'reset' in relations with the Kremlin.

"It limits each country to 1,550 strategic nuclear warheads, down from the current ceiling of 2,200, and brings back a system of joint monitoring that ended when a previous nuclear arms treaty expired at the end of 2009.

"Anatoly Serdyukov, the Russian defence minister, told Russian senators that the treaty would not damage Russia's interests and would have little impact on its nuclear arsenal however.
"'The limits on delivery vehicles and nuclear warheads outlined are substantially more than our current possibilities,' he said. 'We do not possess so many (warheads and delivery vehicles) [emphasis mine].'"

Absolutely brilliant! Obama managed to compromise and sell out Britain, reduce the US nuclear arsenal, and for absolutely no gain. Maybe Obama can lecture the British about how he knows what's best for them, and how they're just scared and that makes them not conform to logic and reason as exemplified by his political stances, etc.

Way to go. No wonder the Russians were laughing about the "Overcharge button." It was a clear indication of things to come.

Is it really the Obama Doctrine to repeatedly betray your allies to your enemies for no gain? Ask Jordan next. Obama is proving to be the best friend to our enemies and the worst ally to our friends.

UPDATE: There has been some speculation that we're only seeing one side of the story. Since the Telegraph's only real source of this is WikiLeaks, there could be undisclosed documents in which the UK gave the go ahead to the US to reveal this information to the Russians.

So far this has been only speculation, and there is no indication that this is actually the case. More to come, I'm sure...

Don't Like the Tea Party and Arizona? Then Come Watch a Play about Murdering Conservatives Says Mercury Theatre Artistic Director

More of that vaunted Leftist civility, I guess...

Dan Riehl at BigHollywood.com is reporting that the Mercury Theatre in Madison, WI is taking some heat for putting on a theatrical version of the film "The Last Supper."

From The Daily Page's event details:

"Mercury Players Theatre is producing The Last Supper, a play by Dan Rosen in which politics and morals are at odds when five liberal grad students discover a new way to deal with the radical right wing. Talkbacks will be held following the performances on Friday, January 28th and Saturday, January 29th. Following those performances, audience members will have the opportunity to ask questions of the cast, the director, the production team, and the playwright himself.

[...]

"'The Last Supper is a perfect Mercury fit. Mercury strives to keep our art current, poignant, radical and a bit raw --- so does Dan Rosen's The Last Supper. If you have felt helpless and unheard through the outrage of our own culture right now - through Arizona, through the Tea Party, through Madison's own political turn - then this is the show for you!' said Mercury's Artistic Director, Rachel Jenkins-Bledsoe [emphasis mine].

[...]

"Politics and morals are at odds when five liberal grad students discover a new way to deal with the radical right wing. Arsenic and Old Lace meets Fox News in this twisted dark comedy. This is the debut of a new version of the script, revised by the playwright to reflect the changes in the political climate since the play was originally written."

Yup. Because the only way to cope with a Right turn in this country is to watch a play about killing conservatives. How mature.

And my parents ask me why I don't go to the theater as often as I used to...

Problem: Bureau of Labor Statistics Reports Unemployment Dropped to 9% in Jan.; Gallup Says Unemployment Rose to 9.8%


Now isn't this interesting...

Prof. Jacobson over at Legal Insurrection has linked to a report from the Department of Labor Statistics that claims the unemployment rate dropped to 9% in January 2011. Yet, Gallup released a report yesterday saying that unemployment rate rose slightly to 9.8% (as I posted here yesterday). That's quite a disparity.

Particularly interesting is the fact reported by Jacobson that the Department of Labor Statistics notes that only 36,000 jobs were created according to their figures-- yet that accounts for a .4% decrease in the unemployment rate (9.4% to 9%).

From the Department of Labor Statistics' report:

"The unemployment rate fell by 0.4 percentage point to 9.0 percent in January, while nonfarm payroll employment changed little (+36,000), the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment rose in manufacturing and in retail trade but was down in construction and in transportation and warehousing. Employment in most other major industries changed little over the month.

[...]

"The unemployment rate (9.0 percent) declined by 0.4 percentage point for the second month in a row. (See table A-1.) The number of unemployed persons decreased by about 600,000 in January to 13.9 million, while the labor force was unchanged [emphasis mine]."

So let's see here. The number of unemployed people dropped by 600,000 people causing a .4 percentage point decrease (unless those two sentences are unrelated), yet only 36,000 nonfarm payroll jobs were created. And Gallup reports that unemployment rose slightly to 9.8% and didn't drop to anywhere close to 9%. Huh...

I'm sure there's an explanation for this difference. A very simple one.


UPDATE: It seems I was right. Don Surber offers this explanation to Glenn Reynolds (who apparently had the same question I did):

"The 'not seasonally adjusted' unemployment rate was 9.1% in December. It rose to 9.8% in January. In January 2010, it was 10.6%. This should explain the question from Glenn Reynolds as to why the official figure of 9.0% is so far below the 9.8% calculated by the Gallup Poll."

Simple... right?

However, Surber adds:

"A net gain of only 36,000 jobs in January shows the stimulus was a disaster.

"In fact, there may actually have been a loss of jobs in January.

"In 2010, revisions averaged a drop of 20,000 jobs a month (for example, last January, the government first reported a net gain of 14,000 jobs. That was quietly revised later to a loss of 39,000 jobs).

"It is true that winter is to blame for some of the smaller-than-expected job gain.

"But a net gain of 36,000 jobs in a nation of 300 million people is not enough to push unemployment from 9.4% down to 9.0%.

"Yet this is what the Obama regime wants us to believe.

[...]

"The administration’s manipulation of the numbers does not erase the fact that we very well could be headed to another recession.

"At a net gain of 36,000 jobs a month, it will take 18 years to get those 4 million jobs that President Obama promised in exchange for $787 billion.

"President Obama’s administration had expected a net gain of 146,000 jobs — still well below the net gain of 250,000 jobs necessary to sustain prosperity."

Better get ready to cling to religion and guns...

Thursday, February 3, 2011

US Foes Encouraged by Middle East Turmoil and Sense Opportunity


While many in America romantically laud the Egyptian uprising, American foes have been encouraging such uprisings for many years. Israel is being squeezed into a more and more precarious position as radical Islamic groups successfully jockey for political control and Western legitimacy amidst the chaos.


"The so-called resistance bloc of nations and Islamist movements, led by Iran and Syria, believes it is increasingly on the ascent as unrest seethes in the Middle East.

"United in its opposition to the U.S. and Israel, this coalition is seeing many of its chief regional adversaries weakened—particularly Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan's King Abdullah II.

"Tehran and Damascus have also been buoyed by last month's toppling of Beirut's pro-Western government at the hands of Hezbollah, the Lebanese political party and militia the two countries fund and arm.

"'[The unrest] proved that the global arrogance's era of domination and control of the region has come to an end,' Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said on Tehran's state television this week, using Iran's catch-phrase for the U.S."

But what about the contention that this unrest is part of a popular revolt against oppressive regimes? Well, few Middle Eastern regimes are more repressive than Syria and Iran. Personally I'll buy the hype when Syria begins to feel the heat. Iran won't since it weathered the Green Revolution following the sham elections.

The article continues:

"Syria is emerging as a bellwether to gauge the shifting power balance in the region.

"Damascus technically remains at war with Israel and, along with Tehran, is the principal financier and arms supplier for Hezbollah and the Palestinian organization Hamas, which controls the Gaza strip in the Palestinian territories. Hamas's leadership, headed by political director Khaled Meshaal, is headquartered in Syria.

"Organizations opposing the rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have pledged to launch their own protest movement this week and have cited Saturday as a 'day of rage.' Any sustainable movement against the Syrian leadership would buttress the argument that the protest wave is a broad-based effort driven by economics and concerns about lack of political freedoms, Western diplomats said.

"Mr. Assad on Sunday told The Wall Street Journal that his regime remains stable and that the true targets of the unrest are Washington's allies who have supported the war in Iraq and the Arab-Israeli peace process. He said Iran, Turkey and Syria will likely emerge with greater influence as the political transformation of the region continues.

"'As long as the people have a major say in the future [of the Middle East], then you are going to have the minor say in the United States,' Mr. Assad said.

[...]

"Iran has been particularly vocal in calling for Mr. Mubarak's overthrow in Egypt. Iranian leaders have drawn similarities between the events in Cairo and the 1979 Islamic revolution that deposed the U.S.-backed shah in Tehran. Iran has also voiced support for the Muslim Brotherhood, a Cairo-based group banned in Egypt that hopes to meld the Islamic religion with Egypt's legal system. The movement is expected to gain significant influence in any post-Mubarak government in Cairo.

"'With [the region] assuming a new shape and the developments under way, [we hope] we would be able to see a Middle East that is Islamic and powerful,' Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters in Tehran on Monday.

"Mr. Meshaal, the Hamas chief, has kept his silence in Damascus since the uprising against Arab governments broke out. Mr. Mubarak has closely cooperated with Israel in imposing an economic siege on the Gaza strip since Hamas took power in the Palestinian territory in 2007.
However, Hamas officials said in interviews this week that what's happening could be to the Islamist movement's advantage. They expect the changes in Egypt and Jordan, in particular, to give them more room to operate.

"'We like what's happening,' a senior Hamas official said.

"Two other countries that could emerge more powerful are Qatar and Turkey.

"The tiny emirate of Qatar is home to the Pentagon's Central Command in Doha and provided logistical support to the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But it also funds the Arab television channel, al-Jazeera, which has been a major voice calling for political changes in Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen. Qatar has also increasingly provided financial and diplomatic support for Hamas and Hezbollah."

When the American media and Hamas are both pleased with what they see in the Middle East, it's time to worry a little.

Unemployment Rises to 9.8% in January


Do you remember when the media was up in arms at 5% unemployment under Bush?


From Dennis Jacobe at Gallup:

"Unemployment, as measured by Gallup without seasonal adjustment, increased to 9.8% at the end of January -- up from 9.6% at the end of December, but down from 10.9% a year ago.

[...]

"Comparing Gallup's unemployment and underemployment rates so far in 2011 with those for the same periods in 2010 provides something of a seasonally adjusted view of Gallup's jobs data. Unemployment and underemployment are now at least one point below the rates of a year ago, reflecting modest improvement over the past year.

"Still, Gallup's measures paint a real-time picture of the current job realities on the ground: nearly 1 in 10 Americans in the U.S. workforce are unemployed, nearly one out of five are underemployed, and the nation's overall hiring situation has not improved over the past four to six months."

Combine this with a possible 300% increase in foreclosures, and the economic future doesn't look so rosy. I guess we didn't know Obama's Recovery Summer would be followed by Spring Slide. I'm sure it's somehow all Bush and the GOP's fault though...

Are Incandescent Heating Balls on the Way to the US?




"The best ideas out there these days tend to be the simplest ones. To get around the incandescent light bulb ban, the famous invention of Thomas Edison is being labeled a heating device. From MNN via Instapundit: Skirting EU law: The rebranding of incandescent bulbs as 'Heat Balls'

"'You gotta hand it to German businessman Siegfried Rotthaeuser, who came up with a brilliant run around the European Union ban on conventional incandescent light bulbs — he rebranded them as "Heat Balls" and is importing them for sale as a "small heating device."

"'Rotthaeuser's website is in German, but Google does a passable job of translation. First, he's clear that the Heat Ball isn't for lighting, stating (in German, the following is translated) "A HEAT BALL ® is not a lamp, but it fits in the same version!"

"'Further down: "The use of Heat Balls avoids the lack of heat. The intended use of heat Balls is the heating. "The man deserves to become a millionaire. As I teach in my classes, and in fact in this blog, all electrical devices in your house, including incandescent light bulbs, are in fact small electric furnaces that run around 100% efficient.'"

So, will we still be able to light our houses with light bulbs er... heating balls in the near future, or will mercury vapor be settling into our houses every time we break a bulb?