Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Election and September 11
From the Wall Street Journal.....

On this, the seventh time the United States has observed the events of September 11, 2001, one may say with confidence: Forget national unity.
[Wonder Land]
That John McCain and Barack Obama had to set aside their differences over the war on terror to stand together this morning at the grim hole that was the Twin Towers testifies to the political divide that emerged after September 11.
While the government has broken up several terrorist plots in Buffalo, Los Angeles, New Jersey and Miami, these real-world events have been overwhelmed by the political battles over the Bush antiterror policies -- the Patriot Act, Guantanamo, warrantless wiretaps, military commissions, CIA interrogations of terror suspects.
Lest we forget, as someone said, let's revisit the bare details of that day. This presumably is the reason for anyone's post-9/11 antiterror policies.....MORE....

Bush Said to Give Orders Allowing Raids in Pakistan

The order allowing Special Operations forces to act without the prior approval of the Pakistani government underscores U.S. concerns over Pakistan’s ability and will to combat militants.

Pakistan’s Military Chief Criticizes U.S. Over a Raid

an unusually strong statement criticizing the United States for sending commandos into Pakistan to fight theTaliban and Al Qaeda, the chief of the Pakistani Army said Wednesday that his forces would not tolerate such incursions and would defend the country’s sovereignty “at all costs.”  MORE....

Obama's Lost Years

Barack Obama makes his first campaign visit today to his alma mater, Columbia University. Just don't ask the prolific self-diarist to talk about his undergraduate days in Morningside Heights.The Columbia years are a hole in the sprawling Obama hagiography. In his two published memoirs, the 47-year-old Democratic nominee barely mentions his experience there. He refuses to answer questions about Columbia and New York -- which, in this media age, serves only to raise more of them. Why not release his Columbia transcript? Why has his senior essay gone missing?......
What can be said with some certainty is that Mr. Obama lived off campus while at Columbia in 1981-83 and made few friends. Fox News contacted some 400 of his classmates and found no one who remembered him. He had transferred from Occidental College in California after his sophomore year because, he told the Boston Globe in 1990, "I was concerned with urban issues and I wanted to be around more black folks in big cities." He got a degree in political science without honors. "For about two years there, I was just painfully alone and really not focused on anything, except maybe thinking a lot," he told his biographer David Mendell.
Put that way, his time at Columbia sounds unremarkable. Maybe that's what most pains a young memoirist and an ambitious politician who strains to make his life anything but unremarkable.  MORE....

They Come In All Sizes and Shapes

Terrorists come in all shapes, sizes and nationalities.  The recent activities
of RNC Welcoming Committee (RNCWC) in St. Paul during the Republican 
Convention prove that fact.  The following report from Stratfor details the 
extreme actions that these home-grown terrorists planned, and fortunately 
were prevented from implementing....

The Lessons of St. Paul

On Sept. 5, two men from Austin, Texas, were charged in U.S. District 
Court in Minneapolis in connection with a plot to disrupt the Republican 
National Convention (RNC) held in St. Paul, Minn., last week. According 
to the criminal complaint filed in the case, each man was charged with 
one count of possessing Molotov cocktails.

In the complaint, authorities noted that one of the men, Bradley Crowder, 

was arrested Sept. 1 for disorderly conduct. The second man, David McKay, 
was apparently arrested Sept. 1 but then released. McKay was arrested a 
second time after a search warrant on the apartment at which he and Crowder 
were staying in St. Paul uncovered a total of eight completed Molotov cocktails. 
Authorities claim that Crowder and McKay had planned to use the Molotov 
cocktails against police vehicles in a parking lot near the apartment where they 
had stayed. According to an FBI affidavit, law enforcement officers used 
electronic means to monitor a conversation McKay had about using the 
incendiary devices. In the monitored conversation, McKay reportedly said,
 “…it’s worth it if an officer gets burned or maimed.”  .......

In September 2007, the RNCWC began its planning in earnest when it held a 
pre-RNC conference in St. Paul, where some 100 activists met to plan their 
strategy for disrupting the convention. Most participants who came from 
outside St. Paul were either representatives of existing affinity groups or were 
intending to form an affinity group when they returned home. The conference 
also featured a number of smaller breakout meetings that focused on issues 
such as nationwide communication, security, legal support, logistics, media, 
coalition building and direct action planning. Some of the tactics discussed 
during the direct action planning session included the possible kidnapping of 
convention delegates, arson, vandalism, occupation of federal buildings in the 
Twin Cities and the blockading of roads and bridges......MORE....

Consensus on Global Cooling

Randall Hoven
The latest Old Farmer's Almanac predicts cooler temperatures not only next year, but for possibly the next half century. Via USA Today:

Based on the same time-honored, complex calculations it uses to predict weather, the Almanac hits the newsstands on Tuesday saying a study of solar activity and corresponding records on ocean temperatures and climate point to a cooler, not warmer, climate, for perhaps the next half century.

"We at the Almanac are among those who believe that sunspot cycles and their effects on oceans correlate with climate changes," writes meteorologist and climatologist Joseph D'Aleo. "Studying these and other factor suggests that cold, not warm, climate may be our future."

These predictions match those of Dr. Oleg Sorokhtin, Merited Scientist of Russia and fellow of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, remarkably well.

The latest data, obtained by Habibullah Abdusamatov, head of the Pulkovo Observatory space research laboratory, say that Earth has passed the peak of its warmer period, and a fairly cold spell will set in quite soon, by 2012. Real cold will come when solar activity reaches its minimum, by 2041, and will last for 50-60 years or even longer.

I think we can now say there is a consensus for Global Cooling.  Although we can count on the deniers to persist in their Chicken Little ways.

Apprentice Superhero

Enough of the weighty issues!  Here's something to break the tension of the election and world issues.... what could possibly go wrong with a young male, developing a system to shoot flames from his hands, while in a closed garage with a car parked in it?  Fortunately, up to this point, nothing.  For his (and the house owner's) sake, I hope that there is a sequel........

Pit Bull Needed

We're the Government. We'd Rather Pay for It

The Fallacy of 'Green Jobs'

By John Stossel

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has a great twofer pitch: "green jobs." It sounds like a winner. In one fell swoop he can promise to end unemployment and fix and save the planet from climate change. Or so he says.
"I'll invest $150 billion over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy -- wind power and solar power and the next generation of biofuels; an investment that will lead to new industries and five million new jobs that pay well and can't ever be outsourced," he told the Democratic National Convention

Wow. Five million new jobs. All that work building windmills and creating biofuels are the "green jobs" that will come into existence when wise government creates the industries that will produce the energy and vehicles that will make fossil fuels obsolete.

Politicians always promise that their programs will create jobs. It's used to justify building palatial sports stadiums for wealthy team owners. Alaska Rep. Don Young claimed the infamous "bridge to nowhere" would create jobs. The fallacy is the same in every case: Even if the program creates jobs building bridges or windmills, it necessarily prevents other jobs from being created. This is because government spending merely diverts money from private projects to government projects.
Governments create no wealth. They only move it around while taking a cut for their trouble. So any jobs created over here come at the expense of jobs that would have been created over there. Overlooking this fact is known as the broken-window fallacy. The French economist Frederic Bastiat pointed out that a broken shop window will create work for a glassmaker, but that work comes only at the expense of the cook or tailor the shopkeeper would have patronized if he didn't have to replace the window.
Creating jobs is not difficult for government officials. Pharaohs created thousands of jobs by building pyramids. Our government could create jobs by paying people to dig holes and then fill them up. Would actual wealth be created? Of course not. It would be destroyed. It's like arguing the hurricanes create jobs. After all, the destruction is followed by rebuilding. But does anyone seriously believe that replacing destroyed buildings creates wealth?.....
If "green jobs" make so much sense, the market will create them. They will be created by private entrepreneurs and venture capitalists who are eager to profit from winning investments. The best ideas will rise to the top, and green energy will gradually replace coal and oil.
If politicians were serious about creating jobs and cleaner technologies, they would step aside and let the free market go to work.  MORE....

Sarah, 24/7

Sarah Palin seems to be dominating the news headlines, and most of the coverage seems positive. Here's a few from today's publications.  This first one helps put her executive power as Governor of Alaska into perspective.  Turns out that it's a hell of lot more powerful position than even Bill Clinton had as Governor.....

Running Alaska

One rap on Sarah Palin's qualifications to be Vice President is that she governs one of our least populated states, with a budget of "only" $12 billion and 16,000 full-time state employees. On the other hand, it turns out that the Governor's office in Alaska is one of the country's most powerful.
[Sarah Palin]
For more than two decades Thad Beyle, a political scientist at the University of North Carolina, has maintained an index of "institutional powers" in state offices. He rates governorships on potential length of service, budgetary and appointment authority, veto power and other factors. Mr. Beyle's findings for 2008 rate Alaska at 4.1 on a scale of 5. The national average is 3.5.
Only four other states -- Maryland, New Jersey, New York and West Virginia -- concentrate as much power in the Governor's office as Alaska does, and only one state (Massachusetts) concentrates more. California may be the nation's most populous state, but its Governor rates as below-average (3.2) in executive authority. The lowest rating goes to Vermont (2.5), where the Governor (remember Howard Dean) is a figurehead compared to Mrs. Palin.
In Alaska, the Governor has line-item veto power over the budget and can only be overridden by a three-quarters majority of the Legislature. In 1992, the year Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton was elected President, his state budget was $2 billion and among the smallest in the country. Compared to that, Sarah Palin is an executive giant.  MORE....

Yes, Palin Did Stop That Bridge

September 10, 2008; Page A15
"But, you know, when you've been taking all these earmarks when it's convenient, and then suddenly you're the champion anti-earmark person, that's not change. Come on! I mean, words mean something, you can't just make stuff up." -- Barack Obama, Sept. 6, 2008

In politics, words are cheap. What really counts are actions. Democrats and Republicans have talked about fiscal responsibility for years. In reality, both parties have a shameful record of wasting hundreds of billions of tax dollars on pork-barrel projects.
My Senate colleague Barack Obama is now attacking Gov. Sarah Palin over earmarks. Having worked with both John McCain and Mr. Obama on earmarks, and as a recovering earmarker myself, I can tell you that Mrs. Palin's leadership and record of reform stands well above that of Mr. Obama.
Let's compare.
Mrs. Palin used her veto pen to slash more local projects than any other governor in the state's history. She cut nearly 10% of Alaska's budget this year, saving state residents $268 million.....
Meanwhile in Washington, Mr. Obama voted for numerous wasteful earmarks last year, including: $12 million for bicycle paths, $450,000 for the International Peace Museum, $500,000 for a baseball stadium and $392,000 for a visitor's center in Louisiana.
Mrs. Palin cut Alaska's federal earmark requests in half last year, one of the strongest moves against earmarks by any governor. It took real leadership to buck Alaska's decades-long earmark addiction.
Mr. Obama delivered over $100 million in earmarks to Illinois last year and has requested nearly a billion dollars in pet projects since 2005. His running mate, Joe Biden, is still indulging in earmarks, securing over $90 million worth this year.
Mrs. Palin also killed the infamous Bridge to Nowhere in her own state. Yes, she once supported the project: But after witnessing the problems created by earmarks for her state and for the nation's budget, she did what others like me have done: She changed her position and saved taxpayers millions. Even the Alaska Democratic Party credits her with killing the bridge.
When the Senate had its chance to stop the Bridge to Nowhere and transfer the money to Katrina rebuilding, Messrs. Obama and Biden voted for the $223 million earmark, siding with the old boys' club in the Senate. And to date, they still have not publicly renounced their support for the infamous earmark.....
Mrs. Palin is one of the strongest antiearmark governors in America. If more governors around the country would do what she has done, we would be much closer to fixing our nation's fiscal problems than we are.
Mrs. Palin's record here is solid and inspiring. She will help Mr. McCain shut down the congressional favor factory, and she has a record to prove it. Actions mean something. You can't just make stuff up.
Mr. DeMint, a Republican, is a U.S. senator from South Carolina  MORE....

From the Gut

Camille Paglia is known as an outspoken liberal.  She explains her perspective on why Sarah Palin has had such an explosive impact on the voters.....

Fresh blood for the vampire

A beady-eyed McCain gets a boost from the charismatic Sarah Palin, a powerful new feminist -- yes, feminist! -- force. Plus: Obama must embrace his dull side.
By Camille Paglia

Sep. 10, 2008 | Rip tide! Is the Obama campaign shooting out to sea like a paper boat?
It's heavy weather for Obama fans, as momentum has suddenly shifted to John McCain -- that hoary, barnacle-encrusted tub that many Democrats like me had thought was full of holes and swirling to its doom in the inky depths of Republican incoherence and fratricide. Gee whilikers, the McCain vampire just won't die! Hit him with a hammer, and he explodes like a jellyfish into a hundred hungry pieces.
Oh, the sadomasochistic tedium of McCain's imprisonment in Hanoi being told over and over and over again at the Republican convention. Do McCain's credentials for the White House really consist only of that horrific ordeal? Americans owe every heroic, wounded veteran an incalculable debt of gratitude, but how do McCain's sufferings in a tiny, squalid cell 40 years ago logically translate into presidential aptitude in the 21st century? Cast him a statue or slap his name on a ship, and let's turn the damned page.
We need a new generation of leadership with fresh ideas and an expansive, cosmopolitan vision -- which is why I support Barack Obama and have contributed to his campaign. My baby-boom generation -- typified by the narcissistic Clintons -- peaked in the 1960s and is seriously past it. But McCain, born before Pearl Harbor, is even older than we are! Why would anyone believe that he holds the key to the future? And why would anyone swallow that preening passel of high-flown rhetoric about "country above all" coming from a seething, short-fused character whose rampant egotism, zigzagging principles, and currying of the gullible press were the distinguishing marks of his senatorial career?
Having said that, I must admit that McCain is currently eating Obama's lunch. McCain's weirdly disconnected persona (beady glowers flashing to frozen grins and back again) has started to look more testosterone-rich than Obama's easy, lanky, reflective candor. What in the world possessed the Obama campaign to let their guy wander like a dazed lamb into a snake pit of religious inquisition like Rick Warren's public forum last month at his Saddleback Church in California? That shambles of a performance -- where a surprisingly unprepared Obama met the inevitable question about abortion with shockingly curt glibness -- began his alarming slide......
....After that extravaganza, marking the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s epochal civil rights speech on the Washington Mall, I felt calmly confident that the Obama campaign was going to roll like a gorgeous juggernaut right over the puny, fossilized McCain. The next morning, it was as if the election were already over. No need to fret about American politics anymore this year. I had already turned with relief to other matters.
Pow! Wham! The Republicans unleashed a doozy -- one of the most stunning surprises that I have ever witnessed in my adult life. By lunchtime, Obama's triumph of the night before had been wiped right off the national radar screen. In a bold move I would never have thought him capable of, McCain introduced Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska as his pick for vice president. I had heard vaguely about Palin but had never heard her speak. I nearly fell out of my chair. It was like watching a boxing match or a quarter of hard-hitting football -- or one of the great light-saber duels in "Star Wars." (Here are the two Jedi, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn, going at it with Darth Maul in "The Phantom Menace.") This woman turned out to be a tough, scrappy fighter with a mischievous sense of humor.
Conservative though she may be, I felt that Palin represented an explosion of a brand new style of muscular American feminism. At her startling debut on that day, she was combining male and female qualities in ways that I have never seen before. And she was somehow able to seem simultaneously reassuringly traditional and gung-ho futurist. In terms of redefining the persona for female authority and leadership, Palin has made the biggest step forward in feminism since Madonna channeled the dominatrix persona of high-glam Marlene Dietrich and rammed pro-sex, pro-beauty feminism down the throats of the prissy, victim-mongering, philistine feminist establishment.  Much, much, MORE...-- By Camille Paglia

Sarah Palin's Not That Special

.....Feminists like Gloria Steinem who have never had children simply cannot imagine how mothers of large families cope. The idea of allowing a mentally challenged child's birth to proceed is inconceivable. Ms. Steinem denigrated Gov. Palin in a commentary for the Los Angeles Times -- Palin: wrong woman; wrong message.....MORE

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