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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Wisconsin Teachers Skip Teachers Conference to Protest

At least they are consistent. Not only do the refuse to educate our children, they refuse to educate themselves.

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The Hydrofracking Controversy not so Controversial?

If my recollection serves, it all started in the spring in 2010. It seems that almost overnight the lawns of upstate New York were littered with signs proclaiming the mantra, "No Drill, No Spill". I still have no idea where they came from or who provided them but they are now ubiquitous to the area. If you live in in the area, you know what I mean. This was obviously a concerted and coordinated effort to turn public opinion against the extraction of natural gas from the Marcellus shale formation. At the time, the New York state assembly and senate were debating a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing. The bill eventually passed both chambers by a resounding margin. But why? I consider myself a bit of a political junkie and I had heard next to nothing about what the true issues were in this debate, if you can call it that.

I have to say that I was skeptical from the start. This issue was being driven by a decidedly left wing cohort and I have learned over the years that progressive ideologues can be less than honest. Therefore, I decided to look into the controversy myself.

The Marcellus shale is the largest unconventional natural gas reserve in the world. While reserve estimates should be considered somewhat uncertain at this early stage, aseach new Marcellus well is completed, estimates of recoverable reserves of at least 489 trillion cubic feet seem increasingly reasonable. The market and strategic value of the Marcellus Shale will no doubt grow as conventional natural gas reserves are depleted and our economy adjusts to a path with lower greenhouse gas emissions. Natural gas has considerably lower carbon content than petroleum and coal. The market share of natural gas in electric power generation continues to expand and opportunities for switching from petroleum to natural gas beckon in the transportation sector.
This is a technique that has been used since the 1960's and over a million wells have been drilled. It "is a process employed to cause natural gas to move more freely from the rock pores where it is trapped into a drilled well than it could otherwise move. Fracing involves the high-pressure injection of fracturing fluids into discrete sections of the drilled well, causing fractures in the rock and pushing them open. The fracturing fluids consist primarily of water and sand. A small percentage of the fluid consists of chemical additives, including friction reducers and bactericides. The function of the sand is to prevent the fractures from closing when the high pressure is released."

The arguments against hydrofracking seem to boil down to only a few issues. That fracturing shale formations will result in the ultimate contamination of drinking water. That above ground wastewater containment will ultimately fail resulting in the contamination of rivers, streams and lakes and finally that this process will be a blight on the communities in which it is utilized. 

UN Votes to Sanction Libya

The United Nations has voted (unanimously) and has announced sanctions on Libya.

The sanctions come as a result of the brutal crackdown on protesters orchestrated by Dictator Maummar Gaddafi.  It is unsure as to how long these sanctions will last, as Gaddafi's regime is expected to topple in the near future.
One of the greatest pushes for sanctions came from Libya's own ambassador to the UN, Abdurrahman Mohammed Shalgham.  After denouncing Gaddafi, Shalgham begged the UN to "save Libya."

The Indian ambassador stated, in part: "We deplore the use of force, which is totally unacceptable."

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Video of Scott Walker on Union Protests


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Iraqi Refinery Hit by Blasts

One of Iraq’s key refineries has been closed down after explosions there. This is reportedly the work of a team of armed terrorists who planted bombs. The Baiji refinery was once a source of income for al Qaeda and may be an attempt to shut down its production to knock the Iraqi government off track.

It is one of three major refineries in Iraq, the others being in the capital Baghdad and at Basra in the south.
Police said it took 50 fire engines to control the fire at the refinery, which processes about 150,000 barrels of oil per day.
While the terrorists have hit one of the three major refineries in the south, there efforts will likely fail. This refinery is heavily depended upon by the people of Iraq but will hopefully be repaired soon. In any case, this will likely spur the government to invest more in refining capacity.

Cross-posted at WorldThreats.

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Obama's Union Bosses Ad from the RNC

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Ireland Election Results.

UPDATE (5:46 PM):

Fine Gael and Labour are discussing a governing coalition for the 31st Dail.

UPDATE (5:44 PM):

Nothing has changed much since yesterday: Fine Gael has 70 seats; Labour has 36; Fianna Fail has 18; Independents has 17 and Sinn Fein has 13.

-- Sunday Updates --

UPDATE (5:34 PM):

Fine Gael now has 70 seats; Labour has 35; Fianna Fail has 18; Independents has 17 and Sinn Fein has 13.

UPDATE (2:23 PM):

I am done updating for a while. Please continue to visit the Irish Times for the latest election news and please keep in mind that several constituencies will be recounting tomorrow morning - so we wont learn much more until then.

UPDATE (2:18 PM):

Fine Gael has 68 seats; Labour has 35; Fianna Fail has 17; Independents has 17 and Sinn Fein has 13.

UPDATE (2:13 PM):

There will also be a recount in Galway West. Labour's Derek Nolan and Fianna Fail's Eamon O Cuiv have already claimed seats in the constituency.

UPDATE (2:08 PM):

Wicklow's recount will begin tomorrow morning. Nothing more we can learn from there today, except that Fianna Fail's Dick Roche cannot accept reality.

UPDATE (2:04 PM):

Irish pundits should not overestimate the demise of Fianna Fail. In America the Republican Party once held under 80 seats in our House during the 1930's, but we came roaring back in the 1940's-50's to retake the Presidency - Fianna Fail's day will come again - the only question is when.

UPDATE (1:59 pm):

I do apologize to everyone for referring to Fianna Fail as Fianna Fine in several of my updates this morning. Corrections have been made.

UPDATE (1:55 PM):

Wicklow still has no declared victors at this point, which should prevent Fine Gael from reaching 70+ seats until tomorrow morning, unless they win elsewhere.

UPDATE (1:52 PM):

Fine Gael is demanding a complete recount in Laois/Offally, due to the small number of votes separating their candidate from a Fianna Fail candidate.

UPDATE (1:49 PM):

Not much has changed since my last update - Fine Gael has 68 seats; Labour has 35; Fianna Fail has 17; Independents have 17 and Sinn Fein has 13.

UPDATE (10:35 AM):

I'm done updating for a while. Remember to visit the Irish Times for latest results.

UPDATE (10:33 AM):

Fine Gael has 65 seats; Labour has 34; Fianna Fail has 17; Independents have 17 and Sinn Fein has 13.

UPDATE (10:31 AM):

Sinn Fein is still holding out for two more TD's - Brian Stanley in Laois/Offaly and John Brady in Wicklow - both are likely to win a seat.

UPDATE (10:21 AM):

Fianna Fail's John McGuinness tops Carlow/Kilkenny. Labour's Ann Phelan wins a seat as well.

UPDATE (10:16 AM):

Looks like Fianna Fail will reach 20-22 seats, just as their general secretary predicted.

UPDATE (10:14 AM):

Fianna Fail's Eamon O Cuiv tops Galway West. Labour's Derek Nolan looks strong to nab a seat.

UPDATE (10:09 AM):

Fianna Fail's Timmy Dooley won nicely in Clare, but his forename probably did not help him. I remember the days of being called Timmy.... when I was a seven year old who still wanted to be a railroad conductor.

UPDATE (10:04 AM):

The United Alliance Left wins a seat in Dun Laoghaire. Only 20 seats have no declared victor at this point.

UPDATE (10:00 AM):

The Irish Times has proclaimed "Fianna Fail's vote decimated in Dublin" one million times! I live 3,000 miles away and I get the point already!

UPDATE (9:58 AM):

Independent's Michael Haley-Rae and Tim Fleming carry Kerry South's two remaining seats. Fine Gael's Brendan Griffin topped the constituency.

UPDATE (9:54 AM):

Fianna Fail's best constituency is Cork South Central with 2 seats. Not much to celebrate.

UPDATE (9:50 AM):

No candidates have officially topped Wicklow. However, all three of the leading candidates are with Fine Gael, while one Sinn Fein is on the outside.

UPDATE (9:47 AM):

Fine Gael did take four of five seats in Enda Kenny's home constituency of Mayo, while Fianna Fail carried one.

UPDATE (9:38 AM):

Please note that Fine Gael won 51 seats in 2007 - they have 65 so far this year. Both Labour and Sinn Fein have also gained impressively, while Fianna Fail has 62 seats (as of now) fewer than they did in 2007.

UPDATE (9:34 AM):

Labour's Ivana Bacik demanded a recount for no reason in Dun Laoghaire - Fine Gael's Mary Mitchell-O'Connor claims third seat anyway.

UPDATE (9:26 AM):

Fine Gael's Charles Flanagan officially tops Laois/Offaly.

UPDATE (9:22 AM):

Only 25 seats remain undecided at this point. Fine Gael has 64 seats; Labour 33; Fianna Fine 15; Independents 14 and Sinn Fein 13.

UPDATE (9:18 AM):

Fianna Fail's Barry Cowen and Sinn Fein's Brian Stanley look strong in the Laois/Offaly constituency.

UPDATE (9:15 AM):

If Fine Gael and Labour were to form a governing coalition: talk about power with over 100 combined TD's in the Dail.

UPDATE (9:09 AM):

Sinn Fein's Kathryn Reilly, who finished sixth in Cavan/Monaghan behind Fine Gael's Sean Conlan, conceded on Twitter this morning.

UPDATE (8:55 AM):

Fianna Fail claims second seat in Cork South Central with the victory of Michael McGrath on the 12th count.

UPDATE (8:52 AM):

If anyone has any comments about this election - please leave a comment, or email me at aaaabraves@yahoo.com to be published.

UPDATE (8:51 AM):

Fine Gael's Peter Fitzpatrick elected after 13th count in Louth. Amazing.

UPDATE (8:43 AM):

Nearly all of the seats have been decided - Fine Gael has won 61; Labour 33; Fianna Fail 14; Independent 14 and Sinn Fein 13. The Greens were completely destroyed on Friday.

-- Saturday Updates --

UPDATE (11:45 PM):

Sinn Fein's Michael Colreavy has been reelected in Sligo-North Leitrim, along with Fine Gael's Tony McLoughlin and John Perry by solid margins.

UPDATE (11:38 PM):

One last update for the evening.

Sinn Fein's website has Fine Gael with 49 seats; Labour with 28; Sinn Fein with 12 and Fianna Fail with only 9. These results are several hours fresher than the tally I published at 10:20.

History has been made in Ireland.

UPDATE (11:33 PM):

Stay tuned for more updates tomorrow morning on this developing story.

UPDATE (11:27 PM):

For all of those visiting this article - Fianna Fail led Ireland for fourteen years before Friday's election, and are considered "centrist". Fine Gael was the main opposition, and are considered "right-wing". Labour was the minor opposition and are considered "left-wing".

Fine Gael's landslide victory is the political equivalent of a 9.0 earthquake, and Fianna Fail's disastrous defeat has many questioning their survival.

UPDATE (11:20 PM):

Fine Gael has won 36 seats; Labour 21; Fianna Fail 8 and Sinn Fein 7. We will know the entire results tomorrow when counting resumes.

UPDATE (6:08 PM):

I will probably not be updating for the rest of the night..... Please visit the Irish Times for the latest election results.

UPDATE (6:02 PM):

The Fianna Fail has been wiped out in Kildare North by one Fine Gael, one Labour and one Independent.

UPDATE (5:53 PM):

Fianna Fail's Willie O'Dea wins seat in Limerick City after sixth count.

UPDATE (5:49 PM):

Ireland's complete election results will probably not be known until tomorrow morning in both Ireland and the United States.

UPDATE (5:42 PM):

Five constituencies have completed their count: Donegal South West, Kildare North, Tipperary South, Limerick and Cork North West.

UPDATE (5:38 PM):

The Irish Times has Fine Gael at 28 seats; Labour at 16 and Fianna Fail at 5 with Sinn Fein.

UPDATE (5:35 PM):

Independent Shane Ross has topped Dublin South; Labour's Alex White has also claimed a seat.

UPDATE (5:31 PM):

Wicklow is still up in the air; Fine Gael could claim 3 seats.

UPDATE (5:23 PM):

Fianna Fail's general secretary is predicting 20-22 seats for party; Fine Gael's has predicted 72-75

UPDATE (5:20 PM):

Pretty pathetic when Sinn Fein has more declared victories than Fianna Fail at this point. Some have questioned whether the former can rebuild at all....

UPDATE (5:08 PM):

Who will receive more votes: Labour or Fianna Fail? Labour's looking strong.

UPDATE (5:02 PM):

None of the Green's have won a seat, including their leader John Gormley.

UPDATE (4:59 PM):

Fine Gael has 24 seats; Labour 14 according to Sinn Fein's official website.

UPDATE (4:55 PM):

Both of Dun Laoghaire's Fianna Fail TD's have been defeated.

UPDATE (4:52 PM):

Counting in Dun Laoghaire has been suspended; Labour's Ivana Bacik has called for a recount.

UPDATE (4:46 PM):

With 44 seats called Fianna Fail has 74 fewer Teachta Dala's than in 2007. I would call this a political massacre.

UPDATE (4:38 PM):

Fine Gael has 19 confirmed seats; Labour has 11; Sinn Fein has 4; Fianna Fail has 3 and Independent candidates have won 7.

UPDATE (10:29 AM):

Early vote share has Fine Gael and Labour on top; Fianna Fail third.

UPDATE (10:26 AM):

I am done updating for a while; Sinn Fein has tallies on their website.

UPDATE (10:23 AM):

Fine Gael's Jimmy Deenihan tops Kerry North-West Limerick.

UPDATE (10:20 AM):

Fine Gael's general secretary is predicting 72-75 seats for party.

UPDATE (10:15 AM):

Fianna Fail is definitely going down, but the question is: by how much?

UPDATE (10:13 AM):

I wonder if one day a free, independent and united Ireland will vote......

UPDATE (10:05 AM):

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams is on course to win a seat in Louth.

UPDATE (9:56 AM):

Labour's Joan Burton is first candidate to officially be elected to 31st Dail.

UPDATE (9:53 AM):

I've been reading some rumors of a possible Fine Gael-Labour coalition.

UPDATE (9:46 AM):

I'm doing the best to follow the results, but the Irish Times is doing superb.

UPDATE (9:41 AM):

Labour is topping the polls in Dublin West, Dublin Mid West, Dublin North West, Cork East and Kildare North.

UPDATE (9:35 AM):

Sinn Fein could win a seat in Cork East for the first time in three decades.

-- Original article --

The ballots are being counted and the winners are being announced in Ireland.

As expected Fine Gael is leading Fianna Fail in numerous constituencies where the reverse was true in 2007 and the Irish citizenry will have a new non-Fianna Fail governing coalition for the first time in fourteen years.

Fine Gail is on track to win four of five seats in party leader Enda Kenny's home constituency of Mayor, which is quite unusual for a party leader to perform that well in Ireland - All of Dublin's constituencies are utter disasters for Fianna Fail, but then again few aren't this year.

Stay tuned for updates.

Grand Rounds is Up

Grand Rounds is hosted this week by Dr. Rich at his site Covert Rationing Blog. I have recently come across his work and and encourage all to check it out. Here's the opening paragraph from the Introduction:

"The purpose behind DrRich’s Covert Rationing Blog is to explain healthcare rationing in America – why rationing is unavoidable, why we’re doing it covertly, and why covert rationing produces the most destructive kind of healthcare system we could ever imagine."

I have been singing this tune at my hospital for quite some time now. It is nice to see I am in good company!
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Friday, February 25, 2011

Defensive Imaging is Both Common and Costly!

For most physicians this isn't a big surprise but it is nice to see someone actually taking the time to collect some data. It would be nice if the proverbial powers that be actually took it seriously!

The prevalence of defensive orthopaedic imaging: a prospective practice audit in Pennsylvania

"Defensive medicine is ubiquitous, but poorly understood. There has only been one previously published study of defensive practices among orthopaedic surgeons. Our study was designed to prospectively capture and analyze the current rate and cost of defensive imaging among orthopaedists in a single state.

Members of the Pennsylvania Orthopaedic Society were asked to voluntarily and anonymously record a consecutive series of patient imaging decisions (in any setting: clinic, ED, inpatient). Each orthopaedist was asked to record their demographic information and the modality, region and indication for each order. Demographics were analyzed using Chi-squared test for independence and costs were analyzed using economic models.

This is the first study to prospectively collect data on the cost and prevalence of defensive medicine in any specialty of medicine. Defensive imaging composes about 20% of all imaging orders by surveyed orthopaedists in Pennsylvania and composes 35% of the cost, indicating that defensive imaging is both common and costly."

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Mental Disease or Defect?

Surely I am not the only one to think that Muammar Gaddafi suffers from paranoid schizophrenia?

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Obama Acts On Libya: Pathetic, Paltry, Pointless

After much dithering, President Obama has finally spoken out on Libya. He has condemned the violence; he has quoted a Libyan protestor in saying that the “most basic aspiration” of people is  “to be able to live like human beings”. His press secretary has stated that Qaddafi’s " clear violations of human rights are totally unacceptable."

How many of our great Presidents would resort to meaningless clichés? Would Truman, or Kennedy,  or Reagan have uttered such an insipid statement?

And Obama  has acted. He has sent Hillary Clinton to meet with the Human Rights Council at the United Nations. This is  the same Hillary Clinton who said a few days ago that the United Nations Security Council was where action on Libya should be decided; does this woman have the gravitas to be President some day?. And this is the same Human Rights Council that welcomed Libya as a member.  

 Obama  has also sent Undersecretary of State William Burns to “several stops in Europe” He has instructed his people to “look at all options”. He has promised to “monitor”, “coordinate”, “consult.” And to speak with one voice. He has warned the killers in Libya that that “the entire world is watching”. (I suspect Qaddafi knows this, and doesn’t care. Why would he care, given America’s minimal response?  When tyrants abuse their own people, they are usually aware that there is likely an audience; they then do it anyway) .

He has warned the Libyan government that it will be held accountable for its failure to meet its  responsibilities, and that it will face the cost of continued violations of human rights. Abrams points out that he never said what those costs might be.. And he warned  of other actions, “I’ve also asked my administration to prepare the full range of options that we have to respond to this crisis. This includes those actions we may take and those we will coordinate with our allies and partners, or those that we’ll carry out through multilateral institutions.” Yes, he will prepare, And yes, we will rely largely on the UN, a toothless and useless organization very much controlled by those who defend Islamic jihad.

Two years ago, our administration was silent as brave Iranians challenged their leaders on the streets of Tehran. We were non-committal a few weeks ago on Egypt. And now Libya. Does this President stand for anything? Is there any cause he considers worth fighting for?

Pundits, bloggers, and politicians have generally been critical of Obama’s role in all this, including John Podhoretz  , Elliott Abrams,  Sarah Palin, William Kristol. and  others


 In short, he has uttered platitudes, and has acted to ensure that our government will play no role in the outcome. And all the while Col. Qaddafi continues to slaughter his countrymen. John Podhoretz   has pointed out that it would have been better if Obama  has said nothing.
Meanwhile thousands of Libyans are being killed. Mercenaries recruited by Qaddafi are pouring into the country, eager to slaughter the anti-Qaddafi protestors. It is reminiscent of the foot dragging of our government  in stopping the genocide that occurred during the early 1940s in Europe. There is absolutely no sense of urgency, even while every hour brings a higher death toll.

As William Kristol says, “So Qaddafi flies in mercenaries to kill people. And Obama flies diplomats around to consult with other diplomats about whether at some point we might possibly stop Qaddafi from flying in mercenaries to kill people”.

We are stuck for at least two more years with a President whose leftist world view has no room for a superpower, especially if it is the United States . And so, Obama will consult with allies, and will go to the United Nations, where a refusal to act against an Arab leader is a given.

What could we do?  Plenty. We could Immediately enforce a no-fly zone in Libya, we could initiate an air attack on Qaddafi’s forces (Remember Reagan bombing Qaddafi’s palace after the Berlin discotheque bombing? )  A  sense of urgency is critical for one reason; matters are urgent. People are getting killed every moment; delay should not be an option. .

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Preliminary Irish Results.

NOTE: Official results wont be available until tomorrow morning

The preliminary results from Ireland's 2011 general election are suggesting two things: 70% of Irish citizens participated in today's election, and Fine Gael won a survey of 5,580 Irish emigrants in 124 different countries, which should bode well for the right-of-center party among citizens who could actually vote.

In the poll Fine Gael received 30% of the vote; Labour 25%; Independents 18%; Sinn Fein 13%; Fianna Gail and Greens 8%. With Fine Gael leading in all the pre-election surveys, this poll could be quite accurate and historic in Irish politics.

Stay tuned for tomorrow morning - history has been made in Ireland.

Tomorrow Begins Today

Today America’s leaders, ignoring the example of Dr. Kissinger, have abandoned realpolitik. Otto von Bismarck, the Iron Chancellor who united Germany coined the term.  In its original German it means “the politics of reality.” According to the tenets of realpolitik, foreign policy has only one purpose: the security of the state.  Instead our leaders have subverted it to crusading for the touchy feely advancement of causes and ideologies. 
The recent visit of Hu Jintao, the President of Communist China, revealed the fruits of this strategy.  Prior to his arrival he demeaned the status of our currency and announced that he will not compromise over trade deals radically skewed in China’s favor.  And why should he?  He, along with the rest of the world, have taken their measure of  our current leadership and they know even if they don’t receive the infamous bow they will receive the deference reserved for everyone except our traditional allies.
Our trade policies force us to open our markets while those of our trading partners are blocked by fees and regulations.  Our foreign policy is littered with wars we aren’t allowed to win and we won’t stop fighting.  Our once dominate high technology has been given away or stolen.  Our once predominate industrial base has been shipped overseas. And our once prevailing credit surplus has been changed into the biggest debt in History.  This is the record of the last twenty years, and a record that reminds me of an old song, “Once I built a railroad, I made it run, made it race against time.  Once I built a railroad; now it's done. Brother, can you spare a dime? ”
Ronald Reagan emerged through the ridicule and derision of the establishment to take realpolitik to its logical conclusion: engineering the destruction of the Evil Empire and the absolute ascendancy of the United States.  Since he left the scene our Presidents have led a steady advance to the rear. The North American Free Trade Act ( NAFTA) opened the flood gates as co-called free trade gutted our industrial base.  Social engineering and the colossal spending it requires have bankrupted us. 
Are we to be the generation that drops the ball?  Each generation of Americans has bequeathed to their posterity a land stronger than they received.  We were handed the unquestioned leadership of the world and after less than two decades we have frittered it away.  If we are to reverse the slide we must make the decision that from this day forward we will chart a new course.  From this day forward we will face reality and do the hard things necessary to reclaim our greatness and preserve the heritage of America for our children
What are the solutions to the seemingly unsolvable problems we face?  They aren’t hard; mostly they’re just common sense.  Government and people stop over spending and live within your means.  Lower or repeal all taxes.  Cut the regulations on everything.  Abandon so-called free trade and seek equitable trade.  End the wars.  Quit being the policeman of the world.  Bring our troops home.  Seal the borders.  Admit that Social Security has been a ponzi scheme since day one.  Realize that all the money we’ve paid into it over the years has been flushed down a rat hole. It isn’t there.  Now Figure out a fix with that in mind.  Drill baby drill and approve a few permits to build some new refineries while you’re at it.  And if we must buy oil quit buying it from people who hate us in areas where they don’t want us.  Instead buy our oil from Mexico.  This would pump money into our neighbor’s economy instead of Al Qaeda’s and perhaps our neighbor’s citizens might want to stay in their own country.  Quit apologizing for our past and put America first. 
If we’re to have a tomorrow we must make today count.  We must live each day as a day worth living for each day lived is one less we have to live, and there are only so many days.  Today is the day to make tomorrow happen.
Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion for Southside Virginia Community College.  He is the author of the History of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com View the trailer for Dr. Owens’ latest book @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ypkoS0gGn8 © 2011 Robert R. Owens dr.owens@comcast.net  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook.

Stay Tuned: Ireland Results

UPDATE: Check out our latest Ireland Election Results

UPDATE: Preliminary Irish Results good for Fine Gael.

Results should be streaming out of Ireland in two-to-three hours* as we learn who the Irish have elected to form the new government. The opposition Fine Gael is expected to be victorious, but I have watched enough politics to know that anything can happen.

Keep your computer tuned to Pundit Press for Ireland's election results tonight.

* - Polls close at 10:00 local time; 5:00 Eastern.

US to Impose Sanctions on Libya

With civilians being murdered on the streets by pro-Gaddafi forces, President Obama has decided to impose sanctions on Libya for the immediate future.  Dictator Maummar Gaddafi is desperately trying to hold on to power as protesters gain in strength and territory in Libya.
In a press conference, the new Press Secretary Jay Carney stated about Gaddafi, "His clear violations of human rights are totally unacceptable."

On what the "end game" is in Libya, Carney later stated, a "government that treats its people well."

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4th Quarter GDP Numbers Revised Down

 The economy's growth is not picking up at the pace the White House would like you to believe. Rather than growing at a tepid but respectable 3.2% the new numbers are painting a different picture. These figures come from the last quarter of last year which has the busy Christmas shopping season to boost it. They show just how fragile the economy is.

And it is likely to become more fragile as the forces of the gas prices get involved. But as for now the growth rate is estimated at 2.8%.

It didn't help the markets:

"A bit disappointing, but largely old news at this point that will take a back seat to fears about growth beyond the first quarter in the wake of both oil price hikes and a budget impasse that could cut into government spending," said Avery Shenfeld, an economist at CIBC World Markets in Toronto.
U.S. government debt prices pared losses on the data, while the dollar extended losses against the yen.

We need to do something-- maybe high speed rail! /sarc

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Gaddafi Palace Tourched

A symbol of his oppression and iron-fisted rule, Dictator Maummar Gaddafi's palace has been set aflame by protesters of his rule:

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Reading the Federalist Papers.

I have recently purchased the Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay. I will be spending the next two, or three days reading up on the arguments to ratify America's governing document: the Constitution.

However, that doesn't mean I wont be writing on the blog as well. Stay tuned for another award winning article on Operation Enduring Freedom and our soldiers need for another, larger surge to win this fight definitively.

Consider this an open-thread to discuss the Federalist Papers and Afghanistan.

"Imagine" updated

There was a very interesting opinion piece in my newspaper the other day. In it, the author posed the question of what Libya would be like today if Qaddify hadn't given up his Weapons of Mass Destruction back in 2003. Although the author doesn't go into any particulars, he makes a great point in his short piece. You can find it right here.

What's great about this piece is how the author manages to undercut any counter-argument before it can even be mounted. Observe:

In light of what some are now describing as a civil war in Libya, with the regime in Tripoli fighting for its life, this is not insignificant. If someone wants to believe that freedom fever would have spread this year even without the Iraq War, they still have to face the fact that without that war the wave of popular protest would have unleashed revolutionary anarchy in a potentially leaderless country with WMD–significant WMD, at that. When Qaddafi gave up his program, Americans were startled to learn that it was much further developed than most intelligence experts had thought. It included centrifuges, uranium enrichment facilities, and dual-use labs.

Some who still cant countenance any positive outcome from the invasion of Iraq might argue that this is a mere one-off unpredictable side-effect of a war that has otherwise caused great geopolitical damage. But, in truth, cleansing a dictatorial regime of its WMD so that the weapons would not be used by the unstable dictator or obtained by extremists after his ouster was precisely the kind of thing proponents of the Iraq War hoped to accomplish.

From a purely domestic view, Bush was not conservative, and therefore a poor choice as a President. But he more than made up for this deficiency by being aware that what happened in the Middle East could effect us here at home. And with the upswing of Islamic fundamentalism coupled with a desire to damage democracy and terrorize others of a different belief system being embraced by more and more Middle Eastern autocrats, the best way to fight this kind of movement was to promote democracy.

As we all know, elections have consequences. Had we elected somebody who was as strong in the foreign department as Bush was, would we be having as much uproar and unrest in the Middle East as we are now?

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What The... Saif Gaddafi Blames Canada, in part, for Libyan Unrest

Canada is a beautiful country.  From its lush forests to its wildlife, to its intertwining of French and English cultures to Toronto and Ottawa.  However, good ol' Canada is often over-shadowed by its neighbor to the south, the United States.

Well, Saif Gaddafi has had enough.  Apparently realizing that the U.S. has a near-monopoly of people complaining about it, the younger Gaddafi wanted to decrease the disparity.  In his rambling speech (I wonder who he gets it from) late last week, Gaddafi complained about Canada.  Congrats, Canada, you're getting your 15 minutes of fame.  There is also a clip of Robin Williams at the end of this video:

Not to rain on Canda's parade, however, but the Gaddafis have been blaming quite a lot for the unrest.  These include, amongst other things: the United States, hallucinogenic drugs, al Qaeda, Egypt, young adults, "greasy rats," gangsters, and (my personal favorite) "someone with a beard."

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Not Incompetent. Calculating and Destructive?

Bill Whittle makes the case....

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Lovesick Muslim Terrorist falls for American college girl, plots to kill Bush

His name is Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari. He is a student from Saudi Arabia studying chemical engineering at South Plains college in West Texas (near Lubbock.) Aldawsari was just arrested suspected of plotting to blow up George W. Bush's home in Dallas, nuclear power plants, and dams around the US. The very latest info released by the FBI suggest he was even scoping out possible targets in New York City.

Aldawsari had a blog. The New York Times confirmed that From Far Away was his personal blog. He wrote posts both in English and Arabic. One post in particular from March of 2009 talked of a girl he had fallen in love with.

See "Sarah Rice Stender; the object of affections of a lovesick Jihadi Terrorist" at Libertarian Republican.
I met my language partner Sarah Rice Stender and she was nice and pretty, so I like her so much. Me and my friend Adbullrahman Alhamdi were with her today for out first meeting with her and she asked us to discuss about a topic, yet she likes to talk about religioun so we did. I think she has a good point about Islam and she is knowing better about this great faith and religioun.

I am reading this day a lot of my prophet mohammed ( peace be to upon him ) to build my knowledge about my religioun and about him...

I am falling in love of her.....

She is goregeous that I cann't forget her just right away...

I am asking Allah the great to covert her to Islam and marry me.
It has since been learned that Stender attended Vanderbilt University. And a Tennessee TV station out of Nashville, just hours ago, confirmed that Aldawsari too was a student there for a while studying English.

Did Stender possibly score Aldawsari? Was that the genesis of his angst? Posts by Aldawsari before that time period suggest he liked America and Americans. Soon after, his posts became dark and depressing.

A lovesick Muslim turned Islamic Jihadi?

The UN Proves its Worth

Sometimes the most serious things are said in jest. No Joke.

H/T Maggie's Farm

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Gaddafi's Son Turns on Father, Joins with Protesters

Saif al-Arab Gaddafi, the youngest son of Dictator Maummar Gaddafi, has now turned on his father and is siding with protesters.

Ironically, Saif al-Arab was assigned to crack down on protesters by his father.  His turn marks Gaddafi's extreme loss of power and weakness.  Said al-Arab even hinted that his father may flee to Latin America or commit suicide soon.

Recently, other important pieces of Gaddafi's power have switched sides or have simply defected.  Earlier this week, two jet pilots defected (in their planes) to the island nation of Malta after being commanded to "bomb" protesters.
Another one of Gaddafi's son has fled to Venezuela.

Iran's Press TV (warning, possibly biased) has more on Saif al-Arab's flip:
Saif al-Arab, Gaddafi's youngest son, who was sent by his father to cooperate with Libyan security forces in the massive crackdown on pro-democracy protesters joined forces with the demonstrators on Thursday, while hinting that his father would commit suicide or flee to Latin America. 
According to reports, Saif al-Arab had the backing of combat troops and had military equipment that were dispatched to the eastern parts of turmoil-hit Libya. 
As many as 1,000 Libyans have so far been killed by the Gaddafi's forces, reports say.
A total of 130 Libyan soldiers have been executed for refusing to open fire on protesters. 
Pro-democracy demonstrations inspired by the popular revolutions that deposed decades-long rulers in neighboring Egypt and Tunisia, have engulfed Libya since Feb 15, with thousands of people taking to the streets of the eastern city of Benghazi and calling for the ouster of the 68-year-old Gaddafi. 

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Congressman Richard Hanna Recovering After Mitral Valve Replacement

U.S. Rep Richard Hanna who was elected last November to represent New York's 24th CD successfully underwent surgery to replace an ailing mitral valve. Although details are limited, spokeswoman Renee Gamela says he is expected to make a full recovery.

Under controlled circumstances this a pretty routine surgery. Although I have no direct knowledge I would suspect that difficulties with the Congressman's valve have been known for some time and the surgery was scheduled during the congressional recess.

I wish the Congressman a very safe and speedy recovery.

For more information about mitral valve replacement the Society of Thoracic Surgeons has some good information.

H/T Lonely Conservative
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The New Narrative!

What I said is racist, but I am not a racist.”

"Seeing a lone black man being shouted at by union goons, they (police) decided it was better that he joined the tea party protest at the bottom of the stairs, where he would be safe.

Just sit back and let that sink in for a moment!

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Libyan Cleric Issues Fatwa on Watching Al Jazeera

Libyana, Libya's largest cell phone provider, sent out a mass text message to all of its subscribers in the last hour.  The message: a local cleric had issued a fatwa against watching Al Jazeera.

This had been reported by independent Libyan bloggers.  Their posts are below.

From LibyanAffairs:
From the Truth Network:
In Arabic it warns that there is an "advisory" against watching Al Jazeera.

And from flyingbirdies:
Update:  The New York Times is now confirming the story.

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Libya Explodes while Obama Dithers

Libya is exploding  Following the removal of autocratic leaders in Egypt and Tunis and violent protests in Bahrain, Yemen, and elsewhere, Libya is next.. These are truly remarkable times, reminiscent of the late 1980s when Eastern European satellites threw off the  yoke of the Soviet Union and tore down the Berlin Wall, the symbol of Soviet-style oppression.

Unfortunately, the US administration has not a clue as to how to deal with the violent revolts spreading across the Arab world; this is demonstrated in how President Obama is reacting to the crisis in Libya. According to Nile Gardiner “the Obama administration is stuck in classic deer in the headlights mode, offering little more than mealy-mouthed statements condemning the state-sponsored violence against anti-government protesters on the streets of Tripoli, Benghazi, Tobruk and other key Libyan cities, which has already claimed at least 1,000 lives 

 In fairness, Obama is not alone in confusion and ineptness. Former President George W. Bush and many others believed that the problem of Arab tyranny could be solved by elections. But democracy is more than voting; it also includes an independent judiciary, a free press, the rule of law, and the rights of minorities. When Palestinians voted in free elections in 2006, they chose Hamas and its totalitarian, radical program, leading inexorably to a distinctly undemocratic terrorist theocracy in Gaza.

Libya is different than the other Arab nations in at least two ways. It is the first of the  major oil-producing countries to undergo a revolt  with a probable change in leadership, and so the events have raised fears of oil shortages and higher  prices. . And it is far more brutal than its predecessors. Along with Iran and Syria, Libya is truly an evil  nation, and the fall of Col Muammar el-Qaddafi cannot come too soon.

 Qaddafi has been courted by politicians who should know better. Tony Blair, Silvio Berlusconi, and others have embraced him in well-publicized photo opportunities. The United Nations, which condemns Israel with great frequency, appointed Libya to the Human Rights Council with no  hint of irony. The Arab media delights in showing a photo of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meeting with one of Qaddafi's sons.

As for democracy, Qaddafi  has his own version, and knows how to deal with the opposition. In 1996 he murdered 1,200 political prisoners in Abu Salim prison. This is also the man responsible for the deaths of 270 innocents on Pan Am Flight 103  over Lockerbie, as well as killing or wounding over 200, many American, in a 1986 discotheque bombing in Berlin. He has been implicated as the chief financier for the  Black September Movement which perpetrated the Munich massacre at the 1972 Olympics, and for financing  Ilich Ramírez Sánchez  (Carlos the Jackal) in the operation that kidnapped the OPEC oil  ministers in 1987.

In the current uprising, we have no idea how many thousands  have been murdered in Libya, or how many more will be. Qaddafi  has ordered helicopters and airplanes  to shoot or bomb demonstrators.  Fearing correctly that his own forces may not obey his orders, he has imported mercenaries from other African countries to do much of the killing.

What is the White House’s strategy on the Libyan crisis? Quite simply there isn’t one. Alex Spillius  points out that the US government has been far too reticent with Libya. It is fair to ask whether the response of our administration is the result of  confusion, lack of foreign policy expertise, a misreading of history, or an unwillingness to take principled positions? I suggest it is all of the above.

So given the evidence of brutality and evil, why has Qaddafi been immune so far? And what is our administration doing now?   According to Nile Gardiner, , almost nothing. Stated simply, while Qaddafi has been ruthless and anti-American, our response has been carefully worded expressions of outrage, lacking conviction, along with promises to meet with other nations to further “discuss” the situation. Unconvincing statements from the president condemning violence,  respecting the rights of the protestors, and threatening to go to the UN, are clear examples of too little and too late. Is Obama afraid that he might upset Qaddafi? Or make him angry at the US? How much worse can it get?.  And we certainly don’t need meaningless statements from a severely biased  UN Security Council, or from an amoral UN  Human Rights Council (of which Libya is a member)

Libya is a very rich country, and Qaddafi has stashed away much of its assets.   According to WikiLeaks   Libya  has $32 billion in cash with U.S. banks as well as  investments in London. David Pryce-Jones  tells us that he also has holdings in Italian and German companies. In addition, many billions of dollars are available in Libya’s oil reserves. 

Paul Wolfowitz   and Jennifer Rubin have pointed out that there are a range of strong measures that could be deployed. We can condemn not just the violence but Qaddafi, who is perpetrating it. We can demand an emergency Security Council meeting.  We can demand that Qaddafi step down.  We can freeze Qaddafi’s assets and impose other economic measures.  We can tell the Libyan armed forces that we will bomb their airfields if they continue to kill their people. We can consider arming the demonstrators

.According to Wolfowitz, the administration is apparently unprepared for these historic developments. By this time, they should have developed an effective response.. As  he states, “For people who castigated the Bush administration and promised "smart diplomacy," they surely haven't demonstrated any prowess of their own”.

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Rumors that Gaddafi Shot Drive Down Oil Prices

There is a rumor on the internet and the news that Libyan Dictator Maummar Gaddafi has been shot.  While it is probably not true, it does show the incredible volatility in the oil market.

Just this simple rumor, with no confirmation whatsoever, drove down oil prices more than $2 a barrel.
MoneyNews reports:
Traders said oil prices fell by more than $2 a barrel in late Thursday activity on rumors Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi had been shot. 
There was no immediate indication of where the rumor had originated or any news report to substantiate it. 
Traders also cited earlier reports that Saudi Arabia was in talks with European refiners to make up for the loss of Libyan crude and rumors of a possible release of U.S. emergency oil stockpiles as weighing on oil prices.

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Obama vs. Barbour.

I have been on the Haley Barbour bandwagon for a couple of months now, and a recent poll from Politico shows the Mississippi Governor trailing President Obama by twenty points, but the real surprise is that Obama only captures forty percent against a candidate who is virtually unknown to the public at-large.

Barack Obama vs. Haley Barbour
Obama (D) - 40%.
Barbour (R) - 20%.

Haley Barbour served as Chairman of the Republican National Committee during the Republican Revolution of 1994, and has served as Governor of Mississippi since 2003, but most of the public has absolutely no idea who he is, even though numerous media outlets have reported on Barbour and his 2012 plans.

Barbour is best known for eliminating Mississippi's public debt without raising taxes, for leading Mississippi back to prosperity after the devastation of Katrina, and for ending the lawsuit happy culture of Mississippi through TORT reform, which has been widely praised for its' effectiveness.

With the 2012 Republican Nomination battle soon to begin, things are going to get heated across the Potomac.

21st Century Media = Ratings, Ratings, Ratings.

The 21st century media is a joke.

Take the horrific Gabrielle Giffords story for example - every media outlet, with the exception of the Associated Press, reported that she was shot and killed in Saturday afternoon's assassination attempt. The television news networks, including Fox News, trusted NPR's initial on-the-ground report, without extensive verification. Thankfully, all of them were wrong.

News channels and reporters no longer report the news; they attempt to beat out the others in our 21st century world of ratings. In the early 20th century newspapers became the literal gold standard because their readership trusted them. That philosophy doesn't apply to many media organizations this day and age.

The media has also attempted to impact national elections as well. Back in the 2004 Presidential election, they basically called the contest for Senator John Kerry before 75% of the United States voting booths actually closed. President George W. Bush won the election by three million votes, and who knows that would have happened in Wisconsin, which Kerry won by only 11,000 votes, if the media hadn't tried to play kingmaker instead of reporter.

I will not blame new media for 21st century reporting problems, because they usually depend on old media for their breaking news and headlines. This relationship is usually beneficial. However, the obsession with top-notch ratings has forced top-notch journalism into early retirement. I am hoping that the main players in both media worlds learn that caution and correctness will always beat out rush and ratings in the long run.

What say you?

Enlarge the House of Representatives? No dice.

David Freddoso's "What Congress would look like with 100 additional seats" op-ed caused quite the response last week in new media outposts. Some individuals have written articles in support of enlarging the House of Representatives, while others have written articles analyzing what 100 more Representatives would mean politically.

What about financially? America already pays our 435 Representatives a combined salary of $75 million per year, and our Representatives staffs a combined salary of $435 million per year - not including untold amounts of money on district offices, supplies, and the occasional travel junket. I don't believe just one House of Congress should cost taxpayers over $500 million per year.

The estimated cost of 100 new Representatives, and staff, in salary alone is over $117 million for just one calender year. With the national debt nearing $14 trillion and the national deficit over $2 trillion - absolutely no-one can justify increasing the size of our drunken sailor legislature for any reason, especially not in the ridiculous notion of "better representation" for Americans.

What say you?

Interview with Jack Coleman of NewsBusters

 Today Pundit Press is proud to present interview number 28 in our ongoing series. Today we're interviewing Jack Coleman, who is a contributor for the site NewsBusters. Mr. Coleman is a veteran of the Air National Guard and has been blogging since 2004. He has covered some impressive stories-- including recently liberal host Mike Malloy (who may be insane) threatening Andrew Breitbart. We thank Mr. Coleman for taking part in our interview.

1. When and why did you start writing for NewsBusters?

I began blogging for NewsBusters in October 2008, little more than a year after a friend asked if I'd be interested in monitoring liberal radio and blogs for the Media Research Center. I did that for 14 months, listening to the radio shows of Mike Malloy, Ed Schultz and Rachel Maddow (back when she was at Air America), and reading Crooks and Liars, Raw Story and Huffington Post before I was asked to write for NewsBusters.

2. What is the best part about writing for the site?

Helping combat the rampant bias of liberals in the media. A close second is learning about many subjects, often in short order, to write about them and point out deceitful claims, half-truths, lies of omission, etc. In this respect, the work is much like journalism. Before blogging, I worked for more than 10 years as a reporter and copy editor at daily newspapers in Massachusetts. Writing at NewsBusters wonderfully compensates for all those moments I bit my tongue around liberals in newsrooms.

3. How did media bias shape the 2008 elections?

Without a doubt it helped elevate Barack Obama to the presidency by downplaying troubling aspects of his past, mainly his affinity for radicals such as Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers. Obama, by dint of his skin hue, represented an opportunity for many in media to expiate liberal guilt. The same politician, white, would have been deemed an inexperienced mediocrity.

4. How could bias affect 2012?

Bias could be worse in the 2012 campaign because so many people in media have a huge stake in Obama remaining president, since it would be a huge loss of face for them if he served only one term. If this occurred, Obama would be remembered as another Jimmy Carter, and his apologists would suffer accordingly.

5. How apparent was bias against the Tea Party in the aftermath of the Tucson shooting?

So apparent that the liberal meme of incivility in political discourse as cause of the rampage is rarely heard anymore, all of six weeks after the massacre. By all means, let's have more civility in politics, and while we're at it, more reliance on reason in making our arguments. On both counts, liberals lose, since they inevitably fall back on well-ingrained habits that rely on neither.

6. Anything else you'd like to add?

I know from my own experience as former left winger that many liberals are not beyond persuasion and will eventually join our side. We should remember this when we challenge them, that an inherently optimistic conservative is yearning to emerge from that frustrated, angry, grasping liberal before you.

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