Archive for June, 2011

The Protests In Wisconsin Were “For The Children”

Really? Because now that the new regulations are in place, they have surplus dough.

Cost savings from worker contributions to health care and retirement, taking effect today as part of the new collective bargaining laws, will swing the Kaukauna School District from a $400,000 budget deficit to an estimated $1.5 million surplus, the Post-Crescent in Appleton reports. The district tells the Post-Crescent that it plans to hire teachers and reduce class size.

This should be front page news in every paper in the country. But it won’t be.

- Aggie

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Hey! Obama Really Is Going To Pay Your Mortgage!

Remember that woman who practically swooned because she thought that Obama would pay her mortgage? We laughed at her, but she was right.

- Aggie

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The Dullard Purple

Thank God! Another liberal author I don’t have to read:

Yesterday, while driving near Denver, I caught a lengthy NPR report on the latest Gaza Flotilla. This year’s (potentially deadly) episode of protest theater stars not only Code Pink founder Medea Benjamin but also noted author Alice Walker. Walker is sailing because — and I am not making this up – she loves “children,” “water,” “trees,” and “parents who are happy.” I love those things as well, but for some reason I don’t feel compelled to support terrorists against our close democratic allies.

For years, the Left has tried to narrow and constrict the law of armed conflict so that it effectively denies Israel (and, by extension, the U.S.) the ability to conduct effective combat operations against jihadists. And while the legality of military blockades against belligerents is well-established under the laws of war, the Left essentially and functionally denies that a state of armed conflict or actual “war” exists against Hamas.

The goal of the Left is to change the law of war to render the use of military force nearly impossible. Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Taliban cannot defeat American or Israeli forces on the battlefield, so their functional allies attempt to use international law to accomplish what the actual terrorists cannot. That is the essence of “lawfare.”

Doesn’t sound like Alice Walker is smart enough to think that deeply. But I’m sure that along with trees, water, and children, she also likes “dead Jews”. Unless I’m being harsh.

But I don’t think so:

Hamas leader from Holland Amin Abu Rashid has been seen in recent days training with a Gaza-bound flotilla crew in Greece, according to a report by Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf on Thursday.

Rashid, described as the “brain” behind the flotilla, helped arrange the purchasing of the Dutch boat expected to be used in the expedition, De Telegraaf reported.

The participation of a Hamas member in the Gaza-bound flotilla proves that the flotilla does not have humanitarian intent, but is actually a provocation and a terror operation, Public Affairs and Diplomacy Minister Yuli Edelstein said in response to the report.

“The participation of Hamas member Amin Abu Rashid in the flotilla, who is known for fundraising money for Hamas terror operations, is clear proof that this is not a humanitarian flotilla, but a provocation and a terror operation in disguise of a flotilla,” Edelstein said.

Yet another plank in the platform of the Left’s anitsemitism. Unless the platform is a gallows. Hard to tell the difference.

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Lying About Her Age

Life is what passes you by when you’re on the golf course:

President Obama, who has expressed his fears about his daughter Malia becoming a teenager next month, is apparently dreading her birthday so much that for a brief moment on Wednesday, he thought she had already turned 13.

“Malia’s 13, Sasha’s 10,” the president said, even though 12-year-old Malia still has a few days to go until her July 4 birthday. “It is impressive. They don’t wait until the night before. They’re not pulling all-nighters. They’re 13 and 10.”

Is Malia (almost) 13 already? That’s nearly old enough to be “punished with a baby”!

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It’s Stuck!™

Hard to call this Unexpected™

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits was mostly unchanged last week, evidence that the weak economy is struggling to generate jobs.

Unemployment benefit applications ticked down 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 428,000, the Labor Department said Thursday.

Applications have topped 400,000 for 12 straight weeks. Applications had fallen in February to 375,000, a level that signals sustainable job growth. They stayed below 400,000 for seven of nine weeks. But applications then surged to an eight-month high of 478,000 in April and have shown only modest improvement since that time.

The four-week average, a less volatile measure, has been stuck at about 426,000 for a month.

“Another disappointing report,” Jennifer Lee, an economist at BMO Capital Markets, wrote in a note to clients. “This report does nothing to reassure anyone that the job environment is improving.”

Was Ms. Lee one of those experts quoted a few months ago who characterized a more favorable weekly jobs report as showing momentum in economic recovery? I hope not, or I’d pull my money out of BMO Capital Markets.

But I did stumble across a possible solution to this economic malaise. I offer it with my compliments to President Obama. He doesn’t even owe me a beer or a round of golf.

Right-to-work states have generally lower unemployment, higher job growth, lower taxes and better business climates. They have growing populations and have been attracting businesses from other states.

In most states, once a workplace is unionized, employees are required to join the union or they can’t work there. But 22 states, including South Carolina, have passed laws that give employees the right not to join. Hence the term “right-to-work.”

Unions dislike these laws for the obvious reason: It reduces their membership.

It also reduces their likelihood of employment.

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The Pleasant Sound Of Drones On A Summer’s Eve

The Obama administration loves its drones

A U.S. drone aircraft fired on two leaders of a militant Somali organization tied to al-Qaeda, apparently wounding them, a senior U.S. military official familiar with the operation said Wednesday.

The strike last week against senior members of al-Shabab comes amid growing concern within the U.S. government that some leaders of the Islamist group are collaborating more closely with al-Qaeda to strike targets beyond Somalia, the military official said.

The airstrike makes Somalia at least the sixth country where the United States is using drone aircraft to conduct lethal attacks, joining Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Iraq and Yemen. And it comes as the CIA is expected to begin flying armed drones over Yemen in its hunt for al-Qaeda operatives.

Again, I have no problem with the technique, but I certainly wonder where the peace crowd has been hiding?

Maybe BTL will post his secret crickets audio here?

- Aggie

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State of Despair

[Employing Arnold Scwarzenegger's voice] Here’s your statehood:

The US senate on Wednesday passed a resolution to cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority should it seek a unilateral declaration of statehood at the UN.

The non-binding resolution, sponsored by Democratic Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland and co-sponsored by 88 of the body’s 99 other senators, passed unanimously.

The measure declares that the Senate “will consider restrictions on aid to the Palestinian Authority should it persist in efforts to circumvent direct negotiations by turning to the United Nations or other international bodies.”

The PA last Friday announced it would seek a declaration of statehood at the United Nations “no matter what.”

The senate resolution also called on US President Barack Obama to veto any such UN proposal and to lead an international diplomatic campaign against the PA effort.

In addition, the resolution urges the Obama administration to consider suspending aid to the PA in light of the recent unity government agreement between Fatah and Hamas.

Should a unity government be formed, the resolution stated, current law would prohibit the flow of US monies to the new government unless all ministers therein accept the right of Israel to exist and honor previous agreements between Israel and the PA.

No problem there. Hamass and Fatah could no more “unify” than oil and water, matter and anti-matter, Sonny and Cher. They’ve decided to postpone any further “unification” talks until September—doubtless to enjoy without interruptions those nifty new water parks in Gaza!

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Saboteur!

Such lawlessness! I suspect Somali pirates:

An Irish ship, the MV Saoirse, will not take part in the planned flotilla in support of the murderous and rapacious Hamas regime in Gaza. The ship has been sabotaged, according to one of its intended passengers.

Speaking with the Irish Times last night from the Turkish port of Göcek, Fintan Lane of Irish Ship to Gaza organization said that the ship could not sail because it had been “dangerously sabotaged.”

He said that the ship’s captain noticed that there was something wrong with it Monday. Divers subsequently found that a piece was missing from one of the propeller shafts.

“This was the type of sabotage that endangered human life,” Lane told the Times. “They put divers under the boat who cut a piece out of the propeller shaft. That means that the damage would have happened gradually and what would have happened eventually is that the propeller would have come up through the bottom of the boat, caused a flood in the engine room and would have caused the boat to sink.”

Oh dear!

Good thing they’re traveling as a flotilla. Somebody could have circled back and thrown them some stale saltines or expired medicine (which is what the first flotilla was carrying).

Personally, I suspect the Greeks. Ever since that Trojan horse incident, the world has known that you just can’t trust ‘em. And they’re in a pretty surly mood as it is.

BTW: don’t you love the word “saboteur”? And Saboteur was one of Hitchcock’s most underappreciated films.

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Didja Hear the One About…?

The international organization for peace that appointed a criminal, genocidal, berserk tyrant to an arms control panel?

Stop me if you’ve heard this before:

On Tuesday, the United Nations again made itself an international laughing stock – except perhaps to the American taxpayers who continue to foot 22 percent of the bill – by appointing North Korea chair of the U.N. Conference on Disarmament. That would be the same North Korea that, according to an article this week by Senator John Kerry, head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has “twice tested nuclear weapons…is developing missiles to carry them…has built facilities capable of producing highly enriched uranium for more nuclear weapons” and has defied a U.N. arms embargo by exporting weapons and sensitive technologies to rogue regimes.

North Korea’s chairmanship was heralded by other U.N. aficionados, including the Iranian delegate to the Conference. Iran’s Mohammad Hassan Daryaei told the Conference meeting: “I would like to congratulate the distinguished ambassador of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for the assumption of the presidency and assuring him of my delegation’s full support and cooperation.”

Iran’s support is telling. Just yesterday Iran’s Revolutionary Guards tested 14 long-range missiles that could carry a nuclear weapon, with the express purpose of hitting U.S. interests and Israel, according to the head of their aerospace division.

Congratulations also poured in from such upstanding world citizens and U.N. fans as China. China’s Wang Qun “welcomed the presidency of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

As you know, this is just another story, however appalling, in a long series of like stories. But just like the Unexpected™ stories can’t really be said to be unexpected, how can the routine be appalling? After Iran, China, and Cuba (among illustrious other) have served on the Human Rights panel, after Saudi Arabia was considered very seriously for a women’s rights panel, after UN peacekeepers have stood aside while rapes were taking place—indeed have been complicit in rape and child abuse themselves—this story isn’t appalling, but as easy to predict as ABC:

North Korea assumes the Conference chairmanship by being the next state in the alphabetical rotation of the 65 members…

I do wonder sometimes if it’s just me. Maybe I’m oversensitive. After all, back in my liberal days, I used to hope that the UN was the last best hope for world peace. (I don’t suppose anything in my past shames me more than that.)

At least there was one sane person left to turn out the light:

Canada’s Marius Grinius said: “[I]n the last 13 years the Conference has failed to move forward on its core disarmament responsibilities, including the negotiation of a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty…[T]he Conference on Disarmament is on life support because it no longer is the sole multilateral negotiating forum for disarmament. Indeed, it is not negotiating anything and has not been for a very long time.”

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Don’t Mention the Holocaust!

I’m sorry. You probably could have lived your life without knowing this. It’s a beautiful June evening in Boston, after a beautiful June day.

But there was thing called the Holocaust (Shoah if you prefer), and it never stops reminding us it was once here:

Survivors and descendants of Jews killed during the Iasi pogrom in Romania on Tuesday attended ceremonies marking the 70th anniversary of one of the worst single Holocaust massacres.

“We are here today next to the Iasi Synagogue, the oldest in Romania. We are inaugurating an obelisk which is a monument to remember the thousands of Jews slaughtered here at the end of June 1941″, the president of the Iasi Jewish community, Abraham Ghiltan, said.

Between 13,000 and 15,000 Romanian Jews out of 45,000 living in the city of Iasi at the time, were brutally murdered on the streets and asphyxiated in “death trains” between June 28 and July 6, 1941, according to historians.

The Romanian pro-nazi regime of Ion Antonescu gave the order for the massacre with the complicity of German troops.

“This is one of the most infuriating massacres of the Second World War”, Paul Shapiro, director of the centre for advanced studies at the Holocaust museum in Washington told the audience.

“The Iasi pogrom is very important in the history of the Holocaust. It is a mass killing that takes place in the view of the public. So this established for the Romanians and for the Germans as well the fact that it was possible to murder people in front of their neighbours”, Shapiro told AFP in an interview.

I don’t know what to say. A massacre only marginally more costly in terms of loss of life than many others, but infinitely more inhumane in its details. Take an average Taylor Swift concert, and shoot or strangle to death every fan in full public view. And then not talk about it for 70 years.

What?

Who does that?

Or who annihilates 90% of their Jewish population, and is called a civilized nation?

In June and July 1941, following the German invasion of the Soviet Union, the Germans occupied Lithuania.

The Lithuanians carried out violent riots against the Jews both shortly before and immediately after the arrival of German forces. In June and July 1941, detachments of German Einsatzgruppen (mobile killing units), together with Lithuanian auxiliaries, began murdering the Jews of Lithuania. By the end of August 1941, most Jews in rural Lithuania had been shot. By November 1941, the Germans also massacred most of the Jews who had been concentrated in ghettos in the larger cities. The surviving 40,000 Jews were concentrated in the Vilna, Kovno, Siauliai, and Svencionys ghettos, and in various labor camps in Lithuania. Living conditions were miserable, with severe food shortages, outbreaks of disease, and overcrowding.

In 1943, the Germans destroyed the Vilna and Svencionys ghettos, and converted the Kovno and Siauliai ghettos into concentration camps. Some 15,000 Lithuanian Jews were deported to labor camps in Latvia and Estonia. About 5,000 Jews were deported to extermination camps in Poland, where they were murdered. Shortly before withdrawing from Lithuania in the fall of 1944, the Germans deported about 10,000 Jews from Kovno and Siauliai to concentration camps in Germany.

Soviet troops reoccupied Lithuania in the summer of 1944. In the previous three years, the Germans had murdered about 90 percent of Lithuanian Jews, one of the highest victim rates in Europe.

Every country collaborated with the Germans in the continent-wide slaughter of the Jews. Every one (every occupied one—the Brits were excluded). The Dutch had their heroes who hid Jews and their cowardly collaborators who betrayed them.

Yet that nation, and that continent, feels empowered to judge Jewish dietary law. (See below.) Unbelievable.

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Dutch To Jews: Go Away

The Dutch have voted to ban kosher slaughter, effectively telling their Jewish community to leave.

The Dutch parliament has voted to approve a ban on kosher and halal slaughter, after intense lobbying by animal rights groups.

The Senate must now vote on the measure, which will most likely take place in September. The Dutch Party for Animals, the first group of its kind to win seats in a national parliament in Europe, have been lobbying to close a loophole in Dutch law which gives Jews and Muslims permission to kill an animal without stunning.

David Zwartz, the chairman of the Wellington Jewish Council in New Zealand, whose country also attempted to ban kosher slaughter, told CNN: “The banning of shechita was introduced as an anti-Jewish law by the Nazis in Germany three months after they came into power.

“Freedom of religious practice is a hallmark of civilized (and most Western) societies. For Orthodox Jews, the eating of kosher meat is a central part of their belief.”

Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks has also traveled to the Netherlands two weeks ago to lobby against the law.

Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said the ban was a repudiation of the Netherlands’ historic commitment to religious freedom.

“Dutch Jews must not be put to the choice of violating a central tenet of Judaism, foregoing fresh meat, or emigrating,” he said.

“We call upon the Dutch Senate to prevent this action from leading to a clear violation of religious freedom that has a disproportionate impact on the Jewish community.”

The Conference of European Rabbis said the decision was an outrage. The organization’s president Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt said: “The practical effects of this bill mean that Jews are no longer welcome in The Netherlands. This has not happened for 70 years.”

Europeans just can’t change, We don’t belong there.

- Aggie

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Don’t Worry, Be Happy!

The real cost projection for Obamacare

Remember the much ballyhooed ObamaCare promise to “bend the health care cost curve down”?

Well, a new Congressional Budget Office report on the long-term trend in the federal budget finds that the costs of Medicare and Medicaid will drive federal spending and debt to all-time highs in coming decades. In one scenario, federal health-care spending doubles over the next 25 years, to 11% of GDP in 2035 from 5.6% this year. In another scenario, the debt eclipses 100% of GDP by 2021 and 190% of GDP by 2035. That’s higher than where Greece is right now, and we see what the bond vigilantes are doing there.

What is conspicuously missing from this report is the magical windfall from the new health law. CBO reports that it is “using the same growth rates that would have been applied in the absence of the legislation.” Now they tell us. Hence, Medicare alone is projected to nearly double over the next 25 years, from 3.7% of GDP to almost 7% by 2035.

CBO warns that ObamaCare’s purported payment cuts to doctors and hospitals and the hoped-for reductions in the growth of the insurance subsidies would be “difficult to sustain over a long period.” Let us translate all this mumbo jumbo: The ObamaCare cost savings are mostly bunk.

None of these scary trends is inevitable, and there is still time to get health-care costs contained. But now even CBO seems to agree that ObamaCare bends our health-care bills up, not down, in the long run.

Be Happy Everyone!

- Aggie

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