Showing posts from September, 2010

Third round of eye surgery Friday.

No. I don't have three eyes. I need to get the first eye that was done tweaked a little. Hopefully it will be the last time I have to deal with it. I also have to pick up a new dog Friday. My old dog Sadie died a few weeks ago and I have been looking for a replacement. I found a really enthusiastic English Pointer mix at the pound. I just hope I can keep up with him. Speaking of livestock, I also recently added three cats from a litter of my grand daughters cat. All three are solid white although one has three small dots on its head. The other two have one gold and one light blue eye. One had the gold eye on his right and the other has it on his left. They are all pretty cute and they are good at chasing grass hoppers. The bottom line is that blogging will be late in the day on Friday.

Many liberals intolerant of Tea Party members

Washington Post: In hindsight, Laurie Horvath says, it probably wasn't the best time to break the news to her liberal friend, who was trimming Horvath's hair between sips of sangria. "You know," Horvath told her casually, "I think I'm going to organize a tea party." That's when the scissors slipped. "She took a big chunk off, cut like 2 1/2 inches off the front corner of my hair," Horvath said. "She got so mad, she says, 'Laurie, I didn't even dream that you would vote Republican -- let alone do something like this. I think you should leave.' " The two women, friends for 30 years, have become estranged, according to Horvath. The incident, which now strikes Horvath as more funny than sad, is a small illustration of how the rise of the tea party movement has roiled not only political discourse but also families and neighborhoods, even in famously liberal towns such as Austin, where Horvath and her former friend l

Brits write checks to Mums whether they need it or not

NY Times: Every week without fail Lucy Elkin, a comfortably middle-class mother of two small children, receives a £33.20 child benefit payment, or about $52, from the debt-plagued British government. “It’s useful and it helps pay the bills, but it is not as if we are struggling to put food on the table,” Ms. Elkin said as she led her children from the park to their house on the leafy fringe of Hampstead Heath, one of London’s most desirable neighborhoods. Ms. Elkin, 40, is a freelance writer. Her husband is a computer programmer. Along with more than three million middle- to upper-income British families, they are among the recipients of £11 billion ($17.2 billion) a year paid to mothers with children here. It is a universal benefit that not only costs taxpayers about twice as much as the total for unemployment payments but also represents the largest chunk of the estimated £30 billion ($47 billion) the government pays each year to Britons with above-average incomes. “It is one

Inefficient 'renewable' energy in UK not meeting targets

Guardian: The UK has suffered a second fall in renewable energy production this year, raising concern about the more than £1bn support the industry receives each year from taxpayers. The drop in electricity generated from wind, hydro and other clean sources in the first half of 2010 could also be a setback to the coalition government's promise that the UK could help lead a "third industrial revolution" and create a low-carbon economy. The DECC today said lower than expected wind speeds and rainfall led to a 12% fall in renewable electricity generated between April and June, compared to the same period in 2009. This setback follows a smaller but still notable decline between January and March, again compared to last year. With a sharp drop in output from nuclear power stations as well, greenhouse gas emissions from each unit of electricity generated will inevitably have risen, at a time when the UK has pledged to cut such pollution, and is pressing other countries

Tensions mount in Ecuador after austerity measures

Image via Wikipedia BBC: A state of emergency has been declared in Ecuador after President Rafael Correa accused the opposition and security forces of a coup attempt. Mr Correa was taken to hospital after being hit by tear gas at a protest. Later reports spoke of fresh violence outside as he was being treated. Troops also took over Quito's airport, forcing it to close for hours. Unrest has been reported across the country. The protesters are angry at a new law that cuts benefits for public servants. In other developments on Thursday: Police officers erect road blocks in Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca. Several government buildings are occupied Looting is reported in the capital and Guayaquil. Banks are robbed, while schools and businesses close due to the lack of security The head of the armed forces declares its loyalty to the president Venezuela's president claims Mr Correa is "in danger of being killed" Peru and Colombia close their borders with Ecuado

Obama is driving us into a depression broader and deeper than a ditch

Phil Gramm: ... This simple comparison suggests two things. First, that American economic policy has been less effective in increasing employment than the policies of other developed nations. Second, that if there was a cliff out there, no country fell off. Those that suffered the most were the most profligate, such as Greece, and their problems can't be blamed on the financial crisis. While the most recent quarterly growth figures are just a snapshot in time, it is hardly encouraging that economic growth in the U.S. (1.7%) is lower than in the euro zone (4%), U.K. (4.8%), G-7 (2.8%) and OECD (2%). Most striking about these comparisons is their similarity to the U.S. experience in the Great Depression. Using data from the League of Nations' World Economic Survey, we can look at unemployment in developed nations between 1929 and the end of 1938. Ten years after the stock market crash, total employment in the U.S. was still almost 20% below the pre-Depression level. The dec

Dem health care law puts McDonald's coverage in jeopardy

Fox News: McDonald's Corp. has notified federal regulators its health insurance plan for nearly 30,000 hourly restaurant workers isn't compatible with a new requirement of the U.S. health overhaul, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday, raising speculation about the fate of those employees' health coverage. Trade groups representing restaurants and retailers say low-wage employers might halt their coverage if the government doesn't loosen a requirement for "mini-med" plans, which offer limited benefits to some 1.4 million Americans. The requirement concerns the percentage of premiums that must be spent on benefits. While many restaurants don't offer health coverage, McDonald's provides mini-med plans for workers at 10,500 U.S. locations, most of them franchised. A single worker can pay $14 a week for a plan that caps annual benefits at $2,000, or about $32 a week to get coverage up to $10,000 a year. Last week, a senior McDonald's offi

Site of Muslim 'victory' mosque in India split with Hindus

BBC: A court in India has said that a disputed holy site in Ayodhya should be split between Hindus and Muslims, but both sides plan to appeal. In a majority verdict, judges gave control of the main disputed section, where a mosque was torn down in 1992, to Hindus. Other parts of the site will be controlled by Muslims and a Hindu sect. The destruction of the mosque by Hindu extremists led to widespread rioting in which some 2,000 people died. It was some of the worst religious violence since the partition of India in 1947. Officials urged both sides to remain calm and respect the Allahabad High Court's verdict. Hindus claim the site of the Babri Masjid is the birthplace of their deity, Ram, and want to build a temple there. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has appealed for calm. In a statement, he said: "My appeal to all sections of the people is to maintain peace and tranquility and to show respect for all religions and religious beliefs in the highest traditions

Carahan brother gets $107 million windfall from 'stimulus'

Daily Caller: Democratic Rep. Russ Carnahan of Missouri is a rank-and-file Democrat. According to, he has voted with the Democratic Party 99 percent of the time since he assumed office in 2005, and was among those who consistently espoused the merits of the 2009 stimulus package. He has, in other words, been a good reliable Democrat for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Obama. And it seems the obedience has not gone unnoticed. Earlier this month, the White House released a report entitled, “100 Recovery Act Projects that are Changing America.” Number 18 on the list is Lost Creek Wind Farm in DeKalb County, Missouri, which received a $107 million grant from the Department of Energy. And it just so happens that Lost Creek was founded by Tom Carnahan – Russ’ brother. But Tom’s history associated with the war against fossil fuels and the world of renewable energy is a short one, beginning in 2005 — the same year his brother entered Congress — when he quit hi

Cartel paying people to take money to Mexico in their luggage?

Houston Chronicle: One bus passenger claimed a stranger approached her in a laundromat and offered $700 if she took a suitcase full of clothes to Mexico. Another man accepted an offer of $500 in a plan hatched at a Latino night club. And still another gave a similar account for why he and his daughter were among 14 travelers arrested on the same bus at the Texas-Mexico border, accused of trying to smuggle $3.1 million south. Some riders were recruited in the Atlanta area, traveled through Texas and got busted in Hidalgo. The bizarre Sunday seizure — the largest single cash catch by Customs and Border Protection in the United States this year — was made public Wednesday. It comes as agents turn more attention to an international pipeline even more valuable than the one that pumps illegal narcotics into the United States: the one that pulls cash proceeds back to Mexico. CBP Commissioner Alan Bersin called the takedown a "magnificent achievement" and said it validate

Time to try growth to solve economic woes

Daniel Henninger: With the November election just around the corner, President Obama spent the past two days hanging in middle-class folks' backyards in Albuquerque, Des Moines and Richmond to discuss the state of the economy. But it could be the American people are pretty well talked out on the economy. Rather than talk, it looks as if they are about to repudiate a formerly popular president who has disappointed them, throw over a Democratic Party they think has failed them, and hand power to a Republican Party they don't trust. ... We have an unemployment rate that is beginning to look stickily stuck above 9%. GDP growth, the official measure of economic life, keeps falling (down to 1.6% in the second quarter). The stock index blips up and down daily. Solution No. 1 was to throw nearly $1 trillion of stimulus at the economy. But Keynes failed. Then they sprayed the economy with gallons of Chairman Ben's Quantitative Elixir, or QE. Nothing happened. They could have

Pakistan blocks supply route into Afghanistan

Washington Post: Pakistani officials said Thursday that they had blocked NATO supply trucks from entering Afghanistan at one key border post after an early morning NATO airstrike that they said killed three Pakistani border security soldiers. A senior military official said the move was made in protest of that attack and other recent NATO airstrikes in Pakistan. Pakistan believes the strikes have been carried out as "pressure tactics" meant to force the Pakistani army to conduct operations against al-Qaeda and Afghan insurgents based in the mountainous tribal area of North Waziristan, the official said. "There is no justification for these attacks and they must come to an end with immediate effect," the military official said. The blockade comes days after Pakistan protested NATO airstrikes that killed insurgents inside Pakistan and threatened to cut off supply routes. A security official said another NATO airstrike early today hit a different border post in

House threatens Chinese tariffs if currency games continue

Washington Times: The House fired a warning shot at China on Wednesday, passing a bill with strong bipartisan support that would raise tariffs on Chinese imports if the Asian giant keeps an artificial lid on its currency value. Republicans from industrial states joined most Democrats in giving new powers to the Commerce Department to consider whether China's policy of tying the value of its currency to the dollar, rather than allowing it to rise in response to market forces, represents an unfair trade practice. The vote was 348 to 79, with all but 5 Democrats and 74 Republicans voting in favor. "Talk doesn't work," said House Ways and Means Committee chairman Sander Levin, rejecting protests from the Obama administration — like the Bush administration before it — that the best way to persuade China to abandon its practices is to use quiet diplomacy in international forums. China promised to loosen its currency restrictions this spring in response to internat

Biblical clue to Stuxnet worm

NY Times: Deep inside the computer worm that some specialists suspect is aimed at slowing Iran’s race for a nuclear weapon lies what could be a fleeting reference to the Book of Esther, the Old Testament tale in which the Jews pre-empt a Persian plot to destroy them. That use of the word “Myrtus” — which can be read as an allusion to Esther — to name a file inside the code is one of several murky clues that have emerged as computer experts try to trace the origin and purpose of the rogue Stuxnet program, which seeks out a specific kind of command module for industrial equipment. Not surprisingly, the Israelis are not saying whether Stuxnet has any connection to the secretive cyberwar unit it has built inside Israel’s intelligence service. Nor is the Obama administration, which while talking about cyberdefenses has also rapidly ramped up a broad covert program, inherited from the Bush administration, to undermine Iran’s nuclear program. In interviews in several countries, experts

Lumberjack Sean Duffy does it again

An earlier ad shows him chopping through a tree while talking about how he will attack problems in Washington.

Outside groups help GOP expand the playing field this year

Politico: Cash-flush conservative groups are stretching the boundaries of the 2010 map, pouring millions into long-shot House races once thought to be out of the GOP’s reach. The outside organizations — which range from the Iowa -based American Future Fund to the Beltway-based 60 Plus Association — are focused not on the most competitive races but, rather, on just-below-the-radar contests that the National Republican Congressional Committee doesn’t have the resources to compete in. The effect is to enable the NRCC to concentrate its dollars on the most winnable races without forgoing others that could break in the GOP’s favor in the event of a wave election. “A lot of the third-party groups are not going into what would typically be considered the top 10 or top 30 races,” said Larry McCarthy, a veteran GOP ad man whose firm is working with several outside groups involved in the effort. “They’re going deeper into the list.” Republican strategists involved with the groups, and t

How wrong was Obama about health care law?

Karl Rove: 'Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Karl Rove, they're all warning you of the horrendous impact if you support this legislation," President Barack Obama said in March about his health reform, but "I am actually confident . . . that it will end up being the smart thing to do politically . . ." Unfortunately for the president, it turns out ObamaCare is not the wind filling the sails of Democratic candidates and propelling them to victory. Rather it has become a reef on which many of their electoral hopes will founder. reports health-care reform is less popular today than it was when it was passed in March. And it wasn't particularly popular back then. A composite average of the polls show that today 40% of Americans approve the health-care reform legislation while 50% oppose it. Forty-four percent supported it and 47% opposed it when the president signed the measure. And those in many of the polls who indicate they strongly disapprov

Al Qaeda plotters still at large in UK

Daily Mail: Islamic extremists who plotted to launch murderous Mumbai-style attacks in British cities remain at large in the UK, it emerged today. Intelligence sources have revealed that militants based in Pakistan, thought to be linked to al Qaeda, were planning simultaneous strikes on London and other European cities. The attacks would have been similar to the commando-style raids carried out in Mumbai in 2008 which killed 166 innocent people, sources said. Sources indicated today that the plot had been 'credible', and that surveillance of suspects was continuing in Britain and elsewhere in a bid to prevent them carrying out any future attack. 'This is an ongoing investigation into a major plot in the UK. It is not over yet,' said one source. Others suggested that the plot, although at an early stage, had moved into the planning phase and was one of the most serious detected in recent years. Some reports indicated that promi­nent buildings and other high

Obama hears about health care, taxes in Iowa backyard

Washington Post: Back in Iowa, President Obama got an earful Wednesday from voters about two of his key policies: health care, and his desire to roll back Bush-era tax cuts. In a state with a highly educated electorate - and where voters are accustomed to challenging aspiring presidents every four years - Obama did his share of listening while audience members did a big portion of the talking. Standing in the back yard of a resident, Obama stood patiently as one woman described, at length, her fears that the U.S. health-care system will soon resemble that of Great Britain. Next, a man spent several minutes describing the way his small business works - and his unhappiness with the prospects of a tax hike. ... This probably was not the conversation he had in mind when these trips to "reconnect" with the voters were planned. I don't know if they will match the one with his weary former supporter in Washington, but he probably needs the earfuls.

Cuba to drill 50 miles from Florida coast

NY Times: Five months after the BP oil spill, a federal moratorium still prohibits new deepwater drilling in the American waters of the Gulf of Mexico. And under longstanding federal law, drilling is also banned near the coast of Florida. Yet next year, a Spanish company will begin drilling new wells 50 miles from the Florida Keys — in Cuba’s sovereign waters. Cuba currently produces little oil. But oil experts say the country might have reserves along its north coast as plentiful as that of the international oil middleweights, Ecuador and Colombia — enough to bolster its faltering economy and cut its dependence on Venezuela for its energy needs. The advent of drilling in Cuban waters poses risks to both the island nation and the United States. Ocean scientists warn that a well blowout similar to the BP disaster could send oil spewing onto Cuban beaches and then the Florida Keys in as little as three days. If the oil reached the Gulf Stream, a powerful ocean current that pass

US exporting criminals to jobs with the cartels in Mexico

Fox News: A coalition of Mexican mayors has asked the United States to stop deporting illegal immigrants who have been convicted of serious crimes in the U.S. to Mexican border cities, saying the deportations are contributing to Mexican border violence. The request was made at a recent San Diego conference in which the mayors of four Mexican border cities and one U.S. mayor, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, gathered to discuss cross-border issues. Ciudad Juarez Mayor Jose Reyes blamed U.S. deportation policy for contributing to his city's violence, saying that of the 80,000 people deported to Juarez in the past three years, 28,000 had U.S. criminal records -- including 7,000 convicted rapists and 2,000 convicted murderers. Those criminal deportees, he said, have contributed to the violence in Juarez, which has reported more than 2,200 murders this year. Reyes and the other Mexican mayors said that when the U.S. deports criminals back to Mexico, it should fly them to their hom

Taliban deny interest in peace talks

AFP: The Taliban, fighting a vicious insurgency against the Afghan government and its Western supporters, on Wednesday denied they were involved in dialogue aimed at ending the long war. The commander of foreign forces in Afghanistan, US General David Petraeus, said the insurgent leadership had made "overtures" to the government of President Hamid Karzai. Speaking to AFP on Tuesday, Petraeus also said mid-level commanders and grassroots fighters had expressed interest in coming in from the cold and joining a programme to reintegrate into mainstream society. ... I am not sure who General Petraeus was hearing from, but I tend to believe this denial. I was skeptical about the overtures when they were first announced and it appears that skepticism was well placed.

Fix bayonets--A command to strike terror into both sides of the fight

Christian Science Monitor: When a US Army general made the decision recently to remove bayonet assaults from the array of skills soldiers must learn during basic training, it seemed like a no-brainer. US troops hadn’t launched a bayonet charge since 1951 during the Korean War. And new soldiers preparing for an increasingly violent war in Afghanistan already need to learn far more skills than the 10 weeks of basic training allows, says Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, head of initial entry training and the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command. So he made a change, substituting skills drill sergeants reported that they wanted to teach new recruits in favor of dropping the time-honored practice of the bayonet charge. But in the weeks since that decision, Hertling has heard about it. “Bayonet training is pretty fascinating,” he says. “I’ve been slammed by retirees.” The objections to ending the training are occasionally practical. In 2004, with ammunition running low, a British unit lau

Ad hits Democrat who 'hit' reporter

Etheridge is a Democrat from North Carolina who is in deep trouble, but this type of ad could be effective against most Democrats.

Preparing for a Mumbai style attack

Telegraph: The main points raised were that the Government needed to: better arm the police; improve border detection; and strengthen hotels. In Mumbai, gunmen armed with AK-47 assault rifles and backpacks loaded with ammunition and grenades arrived by dinghy and spread out to the city's railway station, a cafe and the Oberoi Trident and Taj Mahal hotels, where they barricaded themselves into a siege situation. As local special forces took several hours to arrive, virtually the entirety of the initial fightback was left to police officers armed with bolt-action rifles. Most of the hostages who were taken in the Mumbai attacks died within 30 minutes of capture. In the wake of the attacks, Scotland Yard's Assistant Commissioner John Yates said officers needed a boost to their firepower. It was suggested that British police could even be armed with fully automatic Heckler & Koch assault rifles and Minimi machine guns, as used by the SAS and Royal Marines, as well a

The war next door

IBD: Remember when al-Qaida targeted tribal leaders and local officials to assert power in the Iraq War? Today, the story repeats itself on our own doorstep. But incredibly, the Beltway crowd doesn't seem to care. Mexico's war against drug and alien-smuggling cartels grows ever more similar to the horrors of Afghanistan and Iraq. Beheadings, stonings, car bombs and terrorist attacks speak to a lust for power every bit as implacable as that of the Afghanistan's Taliban or the insurgents of Iraq. The cartels may seem to be just a police problem, but Mexico's own officials know better: President Felipe Calderon warns that everything about their actions says they mean to take over. But even with such a nearby threat, there are no U.S. crisis task forces or special envoys. The Northern Command hasn't been bolstered. The unbuilt border fence is one excuse after another, hostage to domestic and electoral politics. President Obama can't even be bothered to vis

Obama's deficit deceit

Steve Moore: During a recent press conference, President Obama blamed George W. Bush for the nation's fiscal condition. "When I walked in," he declared, "wrapped in a nice bow was a $1.3 trillion deficit sitting right there on my doorstep." Earlier this year he asserted that "we came in with $8 trillion worth of debt over the next decade." Neither statement is correct, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). True enough, the outgoing Bush administration bequeathed big deficits to Mr. Obama. The expected 2009 deficit was $1.19 trillion, not $1.3 trillion, however—and the actual deficit for 2009 came in at $1.41 trillion, meaning that the new president added some $220 billion to the total. Far more significant, however, was the president's misstatement that Mr. Bush and the Republicans left the country with $8 trillion of debt over the next 10 years. The CBO's projected 10-year deficit when Mr. Obama took office was actually $4.

Grayson deceit not playing well in Florida race

Byron York: ... The "Taliban Dan" ad features video snippets from remarks Webster made to a Christian gathering in 2009. Addressing a group of men, Webster discussed the Biblical admonition for wives to submit to husbands, telling them they should not use the passage as a guide for their married lives. But the Grayson ad pulled out bits of video to make it appear that Webster was telling women to submit to their husbands. Here is the transcript of the Grayson ad: Announcer: Religious fanatics tried to take away our freedom in Afghanistan, in Iran and right here in Central Florida. Webster: Wives submit yourselves to your own husband. Announcer: Daniel Webster wants to impose his radical fundamentalism on us. Webster: She should submit to me. That’s in the Bible. Announcer: Webster tried to deny battered women medical care, and the right to divorce their abusers. Webster: Submit to me. Announcer: He wants to force raped women to bear the child. Webster: Sub

Midwest to lose six house seats

NY Times: Whatever the outcome of the fall elections, one political loser this year seems certain: the Midwest. State population tallies, to be revealed at the end of December, are expected to show that in the coming reapportionment of Congress, seats will be lost across this region — in Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio and perhaps, experts say, Minnesota or Missouri. “When you think about losing six seats this time around,” said Tom Gillaspy, the state demographer of Minnesota, “that’s stark.” Minnesota is one of 12 Midwestern states that together commanded 143 Congressional seats a century ago, but that number is predicted to shrink to 94. ... Part of the problem is that people moved looking for a warmer climate. Just think of how much better off these states would be if Democrats would quit fighting "climate change." Instead they are forcing people to move to get one. But seriously, Democrat politics and unions have also made it difficult to create jobs and keep

Pelosi ratings match BP

Byron York looks at the results of a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll .  She is even more unpopular than Newt Gingrich was after Clinton and company pounded on him for years.  Perhaps this is why Democrats are running ads against her in their reelection campaign.

Rush Limbaugh on Greta

It is all good, but you will want to see what he says about Sarah Palin.  He clearly admires her for standing up to the assault of the left.

Democrats retreat to coastal bases

Michael Barone: Here's an exercise for some evening when you're curious about big nationwide trends in this year's elections. Get an outline map showing the 50 states and take a look at the latest poll averages in in each race for senator and governor. Color in the percentage (rounded off; no need for tenths) by which either the Republican or Democratic candidate is leading (I use blue for Republicans, red for Democrats) in each state. The results are revealing, even breathtaking. The map of the Senate races shows Republicans leading over almost all the landmass of America. Democrats are ahead in the three West Coast states and Hawaii (though not by much in California and Washington) and by 1 point in Nevada. They're also ahead in four states along the Atlantic Coast -- Maryland, Delaware, New York, Connecticut -- plus Vermont. Republicans lead in all the other Senate races, from Philadelphia to Phoenix and Boca Raton to Boise. True, their candida

He is not talking about al Qaeda, unfortunately

From the Arab News: Expert calls for new fatwa on brain dead

Exaggerating Extinction

Daily Mail: Conservationists are overestimating the number of species that have been driven to extinction, scientists have said. A study has found that a third of all mammal species declared extinct in the past few centuries have turned up alive and well. Some of the more reclusive creatures managed to hide from sight for 80 years only to reappear within four years of being officially named extinct in the wild. ... There is much more. This is more evidence that the endangered species act needs to be repealed. Nature is much more resilient than some would lead you to believe.

Drone strikes foil Mumbai style attacks in Europe

Telegraph: British Muslims training with al-Qaeda were planning an armed rampage through London as part of a terrorist spectacular aimed at European capitals, sources told the Daily Telegraph. It is thought that the group was in the final stages of its preparations for co-ordinated attacks, thought to be on the capital cities of Britain, France and Germany. The plot was foiled after Western intelligence agencies, including MI6 and GCHQ, uncovered the plans by senior al-Qaeda operatives in the lawless tribal areas. The CIA launched a series of attacks against militants in the area using unmanned Predator drones armed with Hellfire missiles. A senior al-Qaeda commander from Egypt, was killed in North Waziristan, disrupting the planned attacks. Britain has remained on a heightened state of alert since January and Jonathan Evans, the director general of MI5, warned two weeks ago “the fact that there are real plots uncovered on a fairly regular basis demonstrates that there is a

Obama makes his case to his voters

He is talking down to the bitter clingers again.  Click on the image for a larver view of Michael Ramirez's work.

Democrats insulting the intelligence of voters

Opinion Journal: Democrats seeking to boost voter turnout this fall are beginning to sound like the late comedian Chris Farley's portrayal of a "motivational speaker" on Saturday Night Live. Farley's character sought to inspire young people by announcing that they wouldn't amount to "jack squat" and would someday be "living in a van down by the river." Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, who prefers sailing vessels to vans by the river, recently tried out the Farley method. Said Mr. Kerry, "We have an electorate that doesn't always pay that much attention to what's going on so people are influenced by a simple slogan rather than the facts or the truth or what's happening." Bay State voters are surely thrilled to be represented by a man so respectful of their concerns. This week President Obama chimed in with another uplifting message about the American electorate. Mr. Obama told Rolling Stone that the tea party movemen

The meaning of Obama's recession

Washington Post: Household incomes shrank for the second year in a row in 2009, as the recession eroded the share of American families earning over $100,000 and swelled the ranks of people who are poor or just barely making it, according to census statistics released Tuesday. The income estimates from the American Community Survey, a wide array of census statistics reported annually, underscore the devastation the recession has caused to millions of American households and families. In the Washington area, however, the outlook was far less grim. Although the census said median household incomes dropped in virtually all regional jurisdictions, the share of wealthier households remained fairly stable or even increased. ... I remember my Dad talking about the Great Depression when he worked his way through college. He noted that those who fared best worked for either the government or a public utility. That appears to be the case with Obama's recession too. By focusing th

Men of questionable loyalty in Karzai's Peace Council

Washington Times: A "peace council" established Tuesday by Afghan President Hamid Karzai to negotiate with the Taliban includes the man who is thought to have invited Osama bin Laden to Afghanistan and another who served as a mentor to the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks. The High Council for Peace's inclusion of former warlords and ex-Taliban officials is seen by some as antithetical to the body's goal of ending the 9-year-old insurgency. Sixty-eight of the council's 70 members have been announced. "Many of these men are unlikely peacemakers," said Rachel Reid, an Afghan-based Human Rights Watch analyst. "There are too many names here that Afghans will associate with war crimes, warlordism and corruption." Those names include Ustad Abdul Rabi Rasul Sayyaf, a former mujahedeen commander who is thought to have invited bin Laden to Afghanistan after the al Qaeda leader was expelled from Sudan in 1996, and Abdul Hakim Mujahid, who serve

Pakistan military not happy with government ineptitude

NY Times: The Pakistani military, angered by the inept handling of the country’s devastating floods and alarmed by a collapse of the economy, is pushing for a shake-up of the elected government, and in the longer term, even the removal of President Asif Ali Zardari and his top lieutenants. The military, preoccupied by a war against militants and reluctant to assume direct responsibility for the economic crisis, has made clear it is not eager to take over the government, as it has many times before, military officials and politicians said. But the government’s performance since the floods, which have left 20 million people homeless and the nation dependent on handouts from skeptical foreign donors, has laid bare the deep underlying tensions between military and civilian leaders. American officials, too, say it has left them increasingly disillusioned with Mr. Zardari, a deeply unpopular president who was elected two and a half years ago on a wave of sympathy after the assassinat

ExxonMobil expands production in Iraq

Reuters: ExxonMobil (XOM.N) and its partner Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) plan to more than double the number of new wells in Iraq's West Qurna Phase One to reach its projected production target, an Exxon executive said on Monday. Exxon aims to drill two to three times the current 370 wells in the field as part of its development plan for West Qurna to reach plateau output of 2.325 million barrels per day, said ExxonMobil Iraq Vice President James Adams. "In order to reach the output target, we need to drill two to three times the number of wells that are already there," Adams told reporters on the sidelines of an industry event. Asked how many wells the firm will be able to drill this year, he said, "a handful", adding that at this stage the companies are still evaluating the field. Current production is from 200,000 to 250,000 barrels per day, he said. In July, Adams told Reuters the consortium aimed to raise production by 10 percent by the end of the f

Drones over Pakistan attempt to thwart terror plots in Europe

WSJ: In an effort to foil a suspected terrorist plot against European targets, the Central Intelligence Agency has ramped up missile strikes against militants in Pakistan's tribal regions, current and former officials say. The strikes, launched from unmanned drone aircraft, represent a rare use of the CIA's drone campaign to preempt a possible attack on the West. The terror plot, which officials have been tracking for weeks, is believed to target multiple countries, including the U.K., France, and Germany, these officials said. The exact nature of the plot or plots couldn't be learned immediately, and counterterrorism officials in the U.S., Pakistan and Europe are continuing to investigate. There have, however, been multiple terror warnings in recent days in France, Germany and the U.K. "There are some pretty notable threat streams," said one U.S. military official, who added that the significance of these threats is still being discussed among counterte

UT Austin on lockdown after man shoots self in library

San Antonio Express-News: A man shot and killed himself on the sixth floor of a University of Texas at Austin library this morning, leading authorities to lock down the campus and school officials to cancel classes for the day. Authorities said the man, who was not immediately identified, went into the Perry-Castañeda Library between 8 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. There were no reports of any other casualties or injuries, said Don Hale, a university spokesman. Details remain sketchy, but authorities said the gunman fired multiple shots on the sixth floor of the library before turning the gun in himself. Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said the shooter was dead, but the campus remains locked down as authorities secure the area and begin their investigation into the incident. “The main thing right now is that we are urging folks that are near the campus to please stay away until it is safe and secure,” said APD spokeswoman Anna Sabana. Helicopters flew back and forth over the campus, w

Chamber goes after Boxer

Tell Barbara Boxer....

Hellfire consumes another al Qaeda #3

Image via Wikipedia BBC: A senior al-Qaeda leader has been killed in a suspected US drone missile strike in Pakistan, officials say. Pakistani security officials said Egyptian national Sheikh Fateh was killed on Saturday in North Waziristan. The officials said Sheikh Fateh took over as al-Qaeda's chief of operations for Afghanistan and Pakistan in May after al-Qaeda's number three leader Mustafa Abu al-Yazid was killed. ... He was travelling with three others when their vehicle was hit by a missile, said the Pakistani officials. Another suspected US missile attack, on Tuesday, struck a compound in South Waziristan near the Afghan border, killing four other militants, Pakistani intelligence officials said. News agencies say there have been at least 20 suspected US drone missile attacks in September targeting militants in Pakistan's tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. ... The life span of al Qaeda #3's keeps getting shorter. Soon it may be hard to fill th

'Woman from the sky' prosecutes cartel in SoCal

LA Times: The Mexican drug kingpin was shackled to the railing of a U.S. Coast Guard cutter cruising up the coast of Baja California when he saw a curious sight: A hovering helicopter lowering somebody by rope onto the deck of a nearby boat. The dangling person in the green flight suit was Laura Duffy, a federal prosecutor from San Diego. She had come after getting word that U.S. authorities had arrested the kingpin, Javier Arellano Felix, aboard his yacht on the Gulf of California. Duffy, a blue-eyed 47-year-old, questioned Arellano Felix that day, but it was her air-drop entry that made a lasting impression. Throughout the case that culminated in 2007 with his being sentenced to life behind bars, Arellano Felix referred to Duffy as La Mujer del Cielo, the woman from the sky. "I'm sure my client didn't realize that this young, attractive woman had immense power and authority in regards to his criminal prosecution," said David Bartick, the defense attor