Tuesday, April 05, 2011

"When I Am In My Own Head, I Am In a Bad Neighborhood"

Positive thinking~1 minute video advice from a Cleveland Clinic psychologist...

Whew, now I feel better.

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A 60-watt Bulb, Wide End First, In a 40-watt Rectum

“Guys, no matter how weird, how repulsive, how funny, or how crazy a situation might seem, when you see that person you MUST speak with them as though it’s the fifth case like that you’ve seen that day and respect the person’s dignity no matter what. Don’t ever forget that.”

Dr. Wes writes is a great medical blog that is daily reading for me. Somehow he manages to intertwine a first year medical students rite of passage, Gross Anatomy, with reality.

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Mr. President, Please Stop Hydraulic Fracturing, Your Base Has Spoken

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation and its coalition of 20 environmental groups has taken it upon themselves to petition the Federal Government for redress of grievances. In a petition filed on April 4th the group has asked the White House for a "scientific analysis of fracking's impact on the Chesapeake Bay.

Laurel Peltier, a freelance environmental writer for Baltimore's Examiner.com highlights the "controversy" and petition in a recent column. For what it's worth she does note some potential highlights of hydraulic fracturing, but her recitation of the downside must be rebutted. So lets get started.....
Fracking is the only U.S. industry that isn’t regulated. Fracking uses highly toxic chemicals. Fracking drills through water tables and aquifers and is being blamed for thousands of water and health issues.
This is perhaps the most common complaint that I have encountered in my research and it is an outright lie and Mrs. Peltier knows it. In fact, she offers the evidence to rebut that statement in her own article, and I quote. " States regulate fracking, not the EPA or federal government." Got that, States Regulate Fracking. This is why town board and planning board meetings throughout upstate New York are filled to overflowing the environmental activists seeking to change or bolster local land use laws to prohibit drilling and state legislatures are being pressured to pass a moratorium, or better yet, a ban on the industry.

OK, moving on. Stating as fact that "fracking uses highly toxic chemicals is speculative, at best. Fracking fluid is proprietary. No one really know what is in there. Now this may be an issue for openness and transparency, but implying that this fluid is ready to kill people is a little over the top.
What some see as an home-grown and clean answer to energy dependence, others view as a water-polluting drilling method that hurts the land, water, people and animals and could possibly harm the Chesapeake Bay.
I would offer a recent detailed rebuttal produced by the invaluable Energy In Depth website. Their work is exhaustive.

Next, she moves to Gasland. I have already highlighted the hypocrisy of its producer here, and the documentary itself is mostly propaganda that Michael Moore would be proud of. If fact, there are many websites out there dedicated to disproving this film. Energy in Depth has an extensive debunking that goes on and on. The American Natural Gas Alliance has a rebuttal video that might be worth your time.

Interestingly, the most inflammatory claims in the film (ie flaming faucets) have been effectively debunked by numerous sources.

There is so much information out there if it is sought out. As Agent Mulder would say, "The truth is out there", you only need to seek it out.

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Kaine Running for VA Senate

Current DNC chief and former Governor Tim Kaine has announced that he is running for the Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Jim Webb. Webb barely won the election of 2006 in a close race during a Democratic wave election. Webb announced that he would not be running for another term about a month ago.

Kaine, a popular former Governor, is facing off against former Governor and Senator Jim Allen. Allen, a Republican, had served both posts before being defeated in 2006.

 Kaine's announcement is not entirely unexpected, but could throw the race into a tumult. Kaine and Allen are both fairly popular and are both former Governors. With Webb out of the race it appeared that Allen may have an easier time winning his seat back. Other Democratic competitors mentioned included Tom Periello, a left-winger who lost his Congressional seat last November.

Kaine is expected to make other moves shortly. His online announcement is likely to make the race more static.

The former Virginia governor said in an online video on Tuesday that he is running for Senate because "America has big challenges and I'm convinced that Virginia has answers to help strengthen our nation."

Kaine would enter the race to succeed Democratic Sen. Jim Webb, who announced he was retiring from office after just one term.

Kaine is going to try and benefit from the increased Democratic turnout due to the Presidential race. Usually, those less serious or knowledgeable about politics come out to vote-- usually for Democrats.

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Romney Wins Colorado Straw Poll.

Mitt Romney, who will probably announce his Presidential bid soon, has won a straw poll of over 300 party faithful in Colorado. Republicans gathered to hear New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, among others, speak on the evening of state committeemen meeting to elect a new Chairman.
Leading the way with 26% of the vote, the former Massachusetts Governor has become the front runner in a state he carried with relative ease in 2008. Michele Bachmann placed second with 13%, while Tim Pawlenty finished third with 12%.

So what does this mean?
  1. Former Governor Mitt Romney will probably repeat his resounding 2008 Primary victory in the swing state, even though it has moved towards the right. His base is that strong.
  2. Michele Bachmann, who is not a power player in the House Republican leadership, is showing signs of substantial strength. The Tea Party vote will be vital in 2012, especially for candidates like Bachmann.
  3. Tim Pawlenty's name recognition is low among Republican voters, but his Presidential announcement two weeks ago is obviously helping his cause.
Colorado's GOP Primary will probably not play kingmaker next year, but it does indicate that Romney will be quite tough, and that most Republicans are divided over who they support for the Presidential nomination next year.

What say you?

New Candidate Takes Over 20% in NH, Within 6% of Romney

For all of the talk about next year's Republican primaries, much of it has been old hash. Many of the candidates either have low name recognition or ran in 2008. And of the 2008 crowd, there are not many with a large following in the Granite State.

Mitt Romney appears to run best in the state, but much of that may simply be because he was the Governor of Massachusetts, right next door. His New England Republican approach fits.... in New England, and has given him a boost.

Now it appears that he has a challenger right on his tail in the state. One that hasn't been anywhere close in other polling. It's not Huckabee or Palin, Gingrich or Pawlenty.

It's Donald Trump.

The real estate developer has some fairly shocking numbers according to the Public Policy Polling firm. PPP is usually aligned with the Democrats, so it's fair to take the numbers with a grain of salt. Still, they're pretty amazing and highlight just how fluid the race is one year in advance.

Romney: 27%
Trump: 21%
Huckabee: 12%
Ron Paul: 9%
Sarah Palin: 7%

These numbers are a bit skewed. They also don't take into consideration other factors. PPP did other polling that did take some other considerations but for this battle it appears muddled.
Gingrich: 12%

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Petraeus for CIA Chief?

There is word that current CIA director Leon Panetta is preparing to resign from his post about two years into the job. Panetta has overseen the widening of drone strikes in Pakistan and it is unclear who he will pass the baton to. One name that has been floated is General David Petraeus, who is currently the commanding officer in Afghanistan. Petraeus has overseen two "surges" in the country-- one of NATO forces, and the other of local Afghans to protect themselves.

Considering Petraeus' great feat of winning the Iraq War in 2007-2008, he would be a great person for the job. Few, if any US citizens have as clear of a grasp on foreign policy issues and intelligence as the General. He would be a further asset to this country and our security if this is the case.

The possible move shows that the Obama administration is having a hard time finding a slot for the general, once considered a potential 2012 nominee for Republicans. Some might view a Petraeus appointment to the CIA as an attempt by President Barack Obama to neutralise a possible rival.

I would have thought he would be a natural choice for chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff when Admiral Mike Mullen retires at the end of the year but apparently he’s not viewed as a contender for that. There would be some pushback from the Left over nominating him for CIA but Petraeus is such a bipartisan rock star on Capitol Hill that it’s hard not to see him being confirmed almost unanimously.

Of course, it is unclear that he would even take the task. First, he may not even be named. Secondly, he is reportedly 'not happy' in Afghanistan, which could compel him to go to Langley. It's up in the air right now.

Cross-posted at WorldThreats.

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ElBaradei: We'll Attack Israel over Gaza

Remember when Mohammed ElBaradei, the former director of the International Atomic Energy Agency was seen as a 'moderate' candidate to take over Egypt? The former IAEA chief's links to the Muslim Brotherhood are apparent and his stonewalling to protect the regimes of Saddam's Iraq and the Mullahs' Iran are infamous.

Now, as a candidate to take over as the next leader of Egypt, he is making waves. ElBaradei has come out further on a limb than many on the West expected-- and more than Israel had feared.

ElBaradei has opened with the commonplace anti-Israel rhetoric, reversing the policy of Egypt's military dictators for the last thirty years:

Former International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei, who had previously announced his intetions to run for the presidency of Egypt, said Monday that “if Israel attacked Gaza we would declare war against the Zionist regime."

ElBaradei is a threat to peace in the Middle East. He is no true reformer and will use anti-Israel sloganeering to get himself elected. Even if he does not act on his threat to attack the Jewish state, he sets a bad precedent that hearken back to the chest-beating pseudo-nationalism of Nasser.

Cross-posted at World Threats.

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Prosser v. Kloppenburg (WI Supreme Court) Update

With 29% of the vote counted, it appears that the incumbent David Prosser has a slight lead over his opponent Joanne Kloppenburg. Prosser is an incumbent judge while Kloppenburg is a former 'community activist' and current Assistant Attorney General eying to overturn the public sector union changes made last month.

29% Reporting
Prosser: 51%
Kloppenburg: 49%

This is a non-partisan election, but many on the left are pushing against Prosser for his political affiliations. Prosser has been endorsed by both major Democrats and Republicans, including a former Democratic governor of the state.


Prosser appears to be doing well in three important conservative counties, as the National Review stated as important to a potential win. Milwaukee county is unclear right now:

Madison, Wis. – Republican sources tell me to keep an eye on four counties tonight. Prosser needs to see solid GOP turnout in these areas: Brown County, Racine County, Milwaukee County, and Outagamie County. With Madison’s city clerk predicting 60 percent turnout in the left-leaning capital, a Prosser victory will likely depend on more conservative areas upstate.

This is going to be close.

UPDATE: 10:39

With 34% in
265,662 50%
Kloppenburg: 263,356 50%

Some of the key county results:

Brown County with 100% reporting:

DAVID T. PROSSER, JR. . . . . . . 33,319 54.96
JOANNE F. KLOPPENBURG . . . . . . 27,206 44.87

Racine County:

Prosser: 14969 (61%)
Kloppenburg: 9442 (39%)

UPDATE 10:44

News a little better with 38% in:

Prosser: 319,941 52%
Kloppenburg: 301,187 48%

UPDATE: 10:47pm

Outagamie County Results:

Prosser: 20,491 (56%)
Kloppenburg: 16,242 (44%)

UPDATE: 10:48

Back a little tighter with 42% in:

David Prosser (inc)
340,364 51%
Joanne Kloppenburg 321,359 49%

UPDATE: 10:55

Now with 46% in:

David Prosser (inc) 384,772 52%
Joanne Kloppenburg 355,327 48%

UPDATE: 11:01
Some bad news from the liberal hotbed of Dane County (Madison)

Prosser: 33654 (28.77%)
Kloppenburg: 83153 (71.09%)

Not sure if this is counted in the total yet.

UPDATE: 11:02:

Some tightening again. Looks like Madison is being counted:

David Prosser (inc) 407,073 50%
Joanne Kloppenburg 405,963 50%

UPDATE: 11:08

Some real bad news as Dane continues to come in:

Joanne Kloppenburg 438,201 50%
David Prosser (inc) 434,445 50%

It's Dane County pushing the totals off:

Kloppenburg: 100312 72.81%
Prosser: 37261 27.04%

UPDATE 11:15est:


David Prosser (inc)484,652 51%
Joanne Kloppenburg 473,246 49%

UPDATE: 11:19 with 64% in:

David Prosser (inc)504,441 51%
Joanne Kloppenburg 486,526 49%

HOTAIR is reporting:

Update: Prosser already leads by 40,000 votes in Waukesha County with just over 25 percent of precincts reporting. That’s where he’ll pad his lead; Kloppenburg will have to clean up elsewhere to erase it.

UPDATE: 10:23 with 66%

Kloppenburg, levied by Milwaukee and Dane Counties, takes another lead:

Joanne Kloppenburg 515,891 50%
David Prosser (inc)514,475 50%

UPDATE: 11:29 with 68% in:

David Prosser (inc)528,080 50%
Joanne Kloppenburg 527,174 50%


Dane is continuing to come in heavy for the lefty:

Kloppenburg 41835 73.34%
Prosser 115688 26.52%

UPDATE 11:32

Some figures from Milwaukee County:

Milwaukee 305/486 precincts in
Prosser: 57,703 44%
Kloppenburg: 72,076 56%

Looks like the number of votes from Milwaukee and Dane for Kloppenburg will be similar to those left for Prosser. Which leaves it a tossup for the smaller counties....

UPDATE: 11:35

With 71% counted:

Joanne Kloppenburg 552,053 50%
David Prosser (inc) 546,662 50%

UPDATE 11:38

One county no one's looking at may hold the key!

Ozaukee 16/48 precincts
Prosser: 10,420 74%
Kloppenburg 3,710 26%

UPDATE 11:42

Still depressing from Dane:

Dane 190/248
Prosser 41,835 27%
Kloppenburg 115,688 73%

UPDATE: 11:43 with 76% in

Joanne Kloppenburg 571,145 50%
David Prosser (inc)564,352 50%

UPDATE: 11:47pm
Waukesha over half in.... cutting down Prosser's potential votes:

Waukesha 119/198 precincts
Prosser 63,044 73%
Kloppenburg 22,995 27%

UPDATE: 11:50pm:

Joanne Kloppenburg 583,113 50%
David Prosser (inc) 575,930 50%

UPDATE: 11:57pm

Joanne Kloppenburg 614,306 51%
David Prosser (inc) 595,474 49%

UPDATE 12:06 with 85%... a real nail biter:

Joanne Kloppenburg 648,723 51%
David Prosser (inc) 624,972 49%

UPDATE 12:12 pm
Washington County may hold the key:

Washington 10/38
Prosser 21,425 77%
Kloppenburg 6,555 23%

UPDATE 12:13pm 90%

Joanne Kloppenburg 670,661 50%
David Prosser (inc) 668,985 50%

UPDATE: 12:17
Milwaukee's almost all in now:

Milwaukee 473/486
Prosser 93,255 44%
Kloppenburg 120,453 56%

UPDATE: 12:25

92% in, down to 1,600 diff

Joanne Kloppenburg 684,512 50%
David Prosser (inc) 682,935 50%

UPDATE: 12:29


David Prosser (inc) 687,274 50%
Joanne Kloppenburg 686,683 50%

UPDATE 12:31

Waupaca gives Prosser a lead again:

Waupaca 38/38
Prosser 7,204 59%
Kloppenburg 4,938 41%

UPDATE 12:37 with 94% in

David Prosser (inc)698,973 50%
Joanne Kloppenburg 692,463 50%

UPDATE 12:38:


Dane 243/248
Prosser 45,503 27%
Kloppenburg 124,880 73%


With 200 precincts left, one county is dragging the GOP UP!

Marathon 108/140
Prosser 16,368 54%
Kloppenburg 14,032 46%

68 more!

Waukesha 130/198
Prosser 81,255 73%
Kloppenburg 29,332 27%

97% in... man, oh, man

David Prosser (inc) 703,675 50%
Joanne Kloppenburg 701,760 50%

Down to the wire:

Waukesha 198/198
Prosser 81,255 73%
Kloppenburg 29,332 27%

UPDATE 12:57 pm

Racine tapped out-- more for Prosser without the AP reporting yet:

Prosser:28,204 54.02%
Kloppenburg: 22,518 43.13%

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GOP Plan: Cut Nearly $6 Trillion

The Obama budget plan calls for cuts of slightly over one billion dollars, in effect punting the US's economic spending crisis.  Well, Republicans gladly received the football and have decided to do something with it.

Reuters reports that the GOP plan aims to cut upwards of $5.8 trillion.  Their article continues:
A Republican budget plan due to be unveiled on Tuesday would cut $5.8 trillion from U.S. spending over the next 10 years, a congressional aide familiar with the proposal said on Monday. 
The plan, which would take effect when the next fiscal year starts on Oct. 1, is expected to propose sweeping changes to the Medicare and Medicaid health programs, as well as hard caps on government spending and tax cuts.
It will be interesting to read th entire package.

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The Goldstone Report Redux

The Greatest Blood Libel Against Israel

Over the years, the Arab propaganda  machine, aided and abetted by a hostile United Nations and by ill-informed and malevolent media, have engaged in a series of blood libels against the nation of Israel.

These include false charges of  organ harvesting by Israelis, a massacre in Jenin that never happened, and the supposed murder of Muhammed al-Dura by Israeli soldiers. But the granddaddy of all blood libels was the Goldstone report, named after the South African  jurist, Richard Goldstone, who agreed to be the water carrier for the UN  Human Rights Commission.

The history of this tragic episode, a deliberate miscarriage of justice carried out by a man who was willing to be used and should have know better, is worth repeating.

Israel withdrew totally from Gaza in the summer of 2005. In a violent civil war between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, Hamas took control of Gaza in June 2006, and shortly thereafter began to fire rockets across the border into Israel. During 2006 and 2007, Hamas sent 697 rockets and 822 mortar bombs into Israel. During 2008, Hamas sent over 3000 rockets across the border.

Pleas were sent to the UN, but nothing was done. . Finally, at the end of December 2008, Israel launched a series of air strikes against Hamas, followed by a land war (Operation Cast Lead). Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that the operation had three  goals: "to hit Hamas hard, to change the situation radically, and to prevent the continuation of rocket fire at Israeli civilians”  The war lasted 22 days, followed by a cease fire. Israel has maintained an arms blockade of Gaza since then.

Hamas claimed that most of the casualties were civilians. Israel claimed that these were really Hamas fighters. Hamas charged Israel with war crimes. Israel charged that Hamas used human shields, and fired rockets from the area of schools and hospitals. . The UN Human Rights Commission, an organization with a long history of anti-Israel bigotry, initiated an investigation, and appointed Richard Goldstone, a South African jurist, to lead the effort. Goldstone was used by the UN, but it is clear that at that time he was more than willing to be used.

At the end of the investigation, a report was written (by biased "experts," with a pre-determined result). The Human rights Commission had such nations as Libya as members, and had a long history of bias against Israel. Not surprisingly the commission concluded that   Israel used the more than 8,000 rocket attacks on its civilians merely as a pretext, an excuse, a cover for the real purpose of Operation Cast Lead, which was to target innocent Palestinian civilians -- children, women, the elderly -- for death. According to the report, this criminal objective was explicitly decided upon by the highest levels of the Israeli government and military and constitutes a deliberate and willful war crime. The report found these serious charges "to be firmly based in fact" and had "no doubt" of their “truth”.
In contrast, the Commission decided that Hamas was not guilty of deliberately and willfully using the civilian population as human shields. It found "no evidence" that Hamas fighters "engaged in combat in civilian dress," "no evidence" that "Palestinian combatants mingled with the civilian population with the intention of shielding themselves from attack," and no support for the claim that mosques were used to store weapons.
Almost immediately prominent  analysts were easily able to pick the report apart. Alan Dershowitz, among many others,  published a number of articles, (see here and here) pointing out how scurrilous the report was.

 The central and critical issue was that of intentionality. According to the report, the most serious accusation against Israel was that the killing of civilians, was intentional and planned at the highest levels. At the same time, the report claimed that the accusations made against Hamas, namely that their combatants wore civilian clothing to shield themselves from attack, mingled among the civilian populations and used civilians as human shields, was unintentional
Hard  evidence conclusively proved  the exact opposite of the report’s conclusions, specifically that Israel did not have a policy of targeting innocent civilians for death. (indeed the IDF went to unprecedented lengths to minimize civilian casualties)  and that Hamas did have a deliberate policy of having its combatants dress in civilian clothing, fire their rockets from densely populated areas, use civilians as human shields, and store weapons in mosques. Dershowitz  showed conclusively that the evidence relied on by the report, as well as the publicly available evidence it deliberately chose to ignore, disproved its own conclusions. 
The report was seized on by Israel’s enemies, as well as by anti-Semites everywhere. Israeli military and political figures faced arrest and charges of war crimes if they travelled outside of Israel. The Goldstone report has been one of the most widely quoted documents by all those who seek to delegitimize Israel, and has done enormous damage to the Jewish state. Israel is faced with fighting a multifront war, but is also engaged in a deadly propaganda war.
On April 1, 2011, Judge Richard Goldstone  unexpectedly and completely  reversed himself on the findings of the Goldstone Report, and  published a mea culpa in the Washington Post. He acknowledged that “If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document.”  (This is absurd as pointed out by Ron Radosh.   Numerous critics pointed out the flaws and errors as soon as the report was issued, including a detailed  critique by Moshe Halbertal  that appeared in The New Republic, or the many articles  by Alan Dershowitz )
The most significant retraction was that of his original claim that Israel deliberately sought to target and kill Palestinian civilians.
Goldstone went on to say “that the crimes allegedly committed by Hamas were intentional goes without saying –  its rockets were purposefully and indiscriminately aimed at civilian targets.”  Regarding supposed crimes against civilians that resulted from Israeli defensive action, Goldstone writes that “civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy” by Israel. And he added that Israel had a right to defend itself, just like any other sovereign nation.
Goldstone added that  “I had hoped that our inquiry into all aspects of the Gaza conflict would begin a new era of evenhandedness at the UN Human Rights Council, whose history of bias against Israel cannot be doubted,” He called on the UNHRC to condemn Hamas rocket attacks against Israel and the Itamar attack, in which an Israeli couple and three of their children were killed.
While Israel has investigated its actions, he said, Hamas has not. He said that he had hoped that his report would sway Hamas to halt its rocket attacks against Israel. Instead those attacks have continued, He also admitted that the number of Palestinian civilian casualties reported by Israel – which was far below the inflated numbers claimed by so-called human rights groups — was accurate. As it turns out the vast majority of Palestinians who died in the fighting were Hamas fighters, not civilians as his report had charged.
On the day following Goldstone’s retraction, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called on the United Nations to disavow the Goldstone Report. “The fact that Goldstone backtracked must lead to the shelving of this report once and for all,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak, said that Goldstone should send his new conclusions to the same international forums “in which he published his twisted and nonfactual report … Only that way can there be a partial correction of the damage that was caused.”
IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Avi Benayahu said that Goldstone should travel around the world and go country to country and newspaper to newspaper to try and repair the damage he caused Israel.  “The same morals and Jewish conscience that led us during the operation and our subsequent investigations should lead Judge Goldstone to look in the mirror and realize that it is time to share his feelings with the world,” the IDF spokesman said.
The effect on bloggers, both pro and anti-Israel has been electric. Jonathan S. Tobin refers to the Human Rights Council as an organization that is singularly dedicated to besmirching and attacking Israel while ignoring serious crimes elsewhere (including those committed by the nations that makes up its membership),
He  points out that “the report became the centerpiece of a new round of efforts aimed at both delegitimizing the Jewish state and its right of self-defense. His claims were taken up by anti-Zionists across the globe and in particular by those American left-wingers such as the J Street lobby and Michael Lerner’s Tikkun, which have both sought to establish themselves as Jewish critics of Israel and its defenders in this country”
 In fact, Michael Lerner invited Goldstone to San Francisco, where he praised him and gave him a "human rights" award. And J Street went door to door in the US Congress trying to set up meetings between Goldstone and members of Congress. One can only wonder what Tikkun and J Street  think now that Goldstone has had his Yom Kippur moment.
John Podhoretz, writing in Commentary Contentions,  has stated  “that Richard Goldstone did not know in 2009 that Hamas is a terrorist monstrosity which functions parasitically off civilian populaces while Israel is a beacon of war-fighting restraint in a manner practically unknown in the course of human history suggests even more plainly than the report itself that he is a dupe, a fool, a clown, and a worldwide embarrassment. Not to mention a special kind of reprehensible and appalling figure of inglorious, hideous shame to his own people through the delivery and promulgation of a false document that helped anti-Semites everywhere feel themselves justified. He was then, and is now, an entirely despicable public figure”
Tobin has specific recommendations.  “The follow-up to Goldstone’s statement must not be limited to either its now somewhat penitent author or the vicious UN agency that promoted his flawed document. The Goldstone report was a pivotal moment in the growing effort to delegitimize Israel. What we must now hear are similar apologies from all those groups and individuals, from Human Rights Watch to J Street to mainstream bloggers like Andrew Sullivan and minor Palestinian mouthpieces like Hussein Ibish, that either defended Goldstone’s false allegations or sought to aid  efforts to promote his scandalous charges. There must be an accounting from all of Goldstone’s previous champions. Like Goldstone’s report, their credibility on this issue is finished”
I hope he is correct. However, I fear that Michael Lerner, J Street, and others will simply explain all this away and continue their scurrilous attacks on Israel. The movement to delegitimize the Jewish state will not go away so easily.

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John Boehner Proposes New Stopgap Measure

House Speaker John Boehner, obviously frustrated over Democratic attempts to block substantial spending cuts in last year's budget, has proposed a new one week stopgap measure* to prevent the federal government from shutting down, just in case a deal cannot be reached.

Included in the proposal:
  1. $12 Billion in spending cuts over just one week.
  2. Pentagon fully funded for rest of this fiscal year.
  3. DC would be prohibited from funding abortions.
Speaker Boehner will not allow Democrats to control the narrative; he will pass legislation to fund the federal government and the Democrats will be stuck with the voters anger if it isn't done before Friday.

This should effectively end all talk of Boehner "wimping out" on the budget.

What say you?

* - The third since Republicans took over the House in January.

Monday, April 04, 2011

The State Education Department Bars a Knowledgeable Employee From Talking About Gas Drilling

Recently I highlighted the thoughts of Taury Smith, New York state's official geologist and self described liberal democrat. In an article posted at the Times Union Mr. Smith argued that the "spin was on" with regard to hydraulic fracturing. He argued that years of research did not support the rhetoric being presented by the opponents of "hydrofracking." That the cited problems are exaggerated and overblown. That true environmentalists should be in strong support of the increased use of natural gas as it is overall much better for the environment than coal and oil.

He of course committed the cardinal sin of liberalism and thought for himself. Predictably this has put him in some hot water with environmentalists. The course of action is not to debate the facts, but instead smear the messenger. Within four days of the original article voices of opposition have their say.

David Braun:
"Smith is clearly in the pocket of the gas industry and has spread the view in muliple email letters. It doesn't take a rocket scientist; I am aware that when somebody is getting money from an industry it does sway opinion." (This is an outright lie. Mr. Smith is an unpaid consultant, but facts aren't the point.)
Stephanie Low:
"He works from the gas industry, so it might be extremely difficult for him to notice that most of his statements are not supported by facts. Perhaps he doesn't read the (New York) Times.
Mrs Low of course works as a manager of a classical musician so her authority on this matter is suspect at best. She reads the NYT so her ego supersedes her intellect.

While character assassination is the predictable outcome for someone speaking out of turn, the tragic irony here is that the Mr. Smith has been silenced by the New York State Department of Education. This is the department that oversees the New York State Museum geology unit that is now prohibiting Mr. Smith from speaking with reporters, or take calls on the matter.

You should definitely read the whole article.

An editorial in today's Times Union takes note of the hypocrisy. In "A Bad Lesson in Censorship" the editorial board takes issue with the silencing of political opponents noting that New York state has been down this road before, only the political arguments were reversed, with profoundly different reactions.

We don't particularly agree with Mr. Smith on a few key points, either. But shutting down an informed voice is absolutely the wrong thing for the government to do, and for environmentalists to support, if only in their failure to denounce it.

As the Times Union's James M. Odato found, Mr. Smith has been forbidden to talk to reporters since he spoke out on hydraulic fracturing, a controversial process of extracting natural gas that the energy industry wants to employ in the vast Marcellus Shale formation that lies under six states.

We and many others have expressed concern about potential problems, including drinking water contamination. No permits have been issued in New York while the state Department of Environmental Conservation works on regulations and the federal Environmental Protection Agency studies the practice of hydrofracking.

Mr. Smith in an interview last month spoke positively of the Marcellus Shale's natural gas as a "huge gift" and characterized reports of water contamination as exaggerated and distorted.

He called for vigorous oversight of hydrofracking by the DEC and said natural gas could help relieve global warming and reliance on dirtier-burning fuels like coal.

Hydrofracking opponents, such as Environmental Advocates, the Sierra Club and United for Action, objected, with some suggesting that Mr. Smith's opinion is tainted because of his private work as an energy industry consultant.

The blowback apparently has made the Education Department uncomfortable enough to cite a protocol that requires employees to check with the agency's communications office before talking to reporters, or face "appropriate administrative action." The agency said it's looking into Mr. Smith's private work, too.

We've been down this unfortunate road before. The state's former wildlife biologist, Ward Stone, endured official intimidation, including a threat of transfer, for his dogged pursuit of pollution. He was an important voice on issues like the state's own now-defunct trash incinerator in downtown Albany, where his tests found evidence of pollution in residential neighborhoods. Environmentalists protested the state's attempts to silence him.

Not here, though. They're content to let a scientist they disagree with be gagged.

They should join us instead in calling on Education Commissioner David Steiner and the Board of Regents to relax their stifling policies and let public employees contribute to important public discussions without checking with official handlers. This debate should be all about finding the truth, not winning even at the cost of it.

(Bold by me)
Other outlets are beginning to take note.

From the New York Post 4/3/11

Choose your public words carefully if you work for the State Education Department, and take special care not to cross liberal interest groups — it could land you in hot water.

That’s the lesson Dr. Langhorne “Taury” Smith is learning after he dared to speak honestly about what he says are the “exaggerated” dangers of hydrofracking, the controversial process for extracting natural gas.

New York’s noxious Green Machine prevailed on the Legislature to ban the process (no other state in the country does so). Though then-Gov. David Paterson correctly vetoed the ban, he declared a “moratorium” that has the same effect by executive order.

Merryl Tisch
Merryl Tisch

Last month, Smith gave an interview in which he said the hydrofracking controversy has been a financial gold mine for the greenies, who’ve raised tons of cash by spreading scare stories about the process. (His remarks were also quoted in a Post editorial.)

And the moment geologist Smith weighed in, the anti-frackers struck — abetted by the State Education Department.

Environmental activists blasted his “irresponsible statement” and suggested that he “works for the gas industry” because he’s done outside work as a consultant, though not for any companies seeking to drill in upstate Marcellus Shale.

That led SED to take a closer look at his outside work, promising “swift action as appropriate,” according to an upstate newspaper.

Smith, you see, officially works for the New York State Museum, which means he’s on SED’s payroll. And officials there quickly muzzled him, refusing to let him speak to the press, while launching their official investigation.

Investigation of what, you ask?

Well, failure to pre-clear a news media interview with the department’s Office of Communications, which could subject Smith, an 11-year SED veteran, to “appropriate administrative action.”

This is ridiculous on its face; department experts talk to journalists all the time, without sanctions or silencing.

Now the department is reportedly refusing to make Smith available to the press, even barring him from taking phone calls.

We don’t know if Education Commissioner David Steiner and Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch approve of what looks increasingly like a witch hunt.

But they call the shots in the Education Department, and they can end the harassment whenever they want.

Immediately sounds about right.

With a flare for rhetorical flourish Reason - Hit and Run picks up the story.

Linked at Legal Insurrection, thanks Professor!
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The Cost of Medical Education

Pierce Hibma, a 3rd year medical student posted an article on the cost of medical education over at Kevin MD. He crunches the numbers a bit and his conclusions are spot on and help to answer the questions as to why we have a coming doctor shortage.

From a personal perspective, I walked out of medical school over $200,000 dollars in debt. That is, I had a mortgage, without the house. This of course is graduate and undergraduate student loan debt that will hang around my neck like a millstone for the next 30 years or so. I lived very frugally through med school and my debt was significantly less than many others.

Go read the article if you are so inclined and check out the comment section for some interesting perspective.

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The Best Under-the-Radar Conservative Sites- Today: High Plains Pundit

We here at Pundit Press love our fellow bloggers and we're always looking for a way to give back. Starting today, we are starting a series detailing the best underground conservative sites. And no, I don't mean "under the radar" like, "dude, that site is so under the radar, the man will never bring it down!" I mean "under the radar" as in, "even though that site is under the radar of most readers, it is still great."

Today's spotlight:  High Plains Pundit
Conservative and not willing to take any crap from the Left, High Plains Pundit rises above others.  HPP isn't going to bog you down in political mumbo-jumbo; it will tell you like it is and if you don't like it, that's your reality.

So go check them out!

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Bloody Pig's Foot, Anti-Semitic Letter Sent to Rep. King

Representative Peter King began hearings on the radicalization of Muslims in the United States last month.  Today he is receiving bloody packages and threatening letters in the mail.

It has been confirmed that Rep. King received a bloody pig's foot and a derogatory letter today.  In the letter, there contained anti-Semitic ramblings and references to King's hearings.

Who and why the letter was sent can only be speculated.  However, with the evidence, it appears that a Muslim person upset with the hearings most likely sent the letter and pig's foot, as pork is forbidden in Islam and is thus considered insulting.

Ibrahim Hooper, National Communications Director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, however, sees it differently.  "My guess is it was an anti-Muslim bigot, and bigots not being brain surgeons they probably got their signals crossed," he said.

The package, addressed to King, was intercepted before it reached the Representative.  The Capital Hill police have promised an "open investigation."
The Washington Post continues:
The package was discovered by mail screeners before it was delivered to King’s office.

A King spokesman says the congressman was notified of the package on Monday afternoon.

The package contained a pig’s foot and a note laced with several anti-Semitic references, according to a person with knowledge of the incident who requested anonymity because of the ongoing police investigation. King is Catholic.
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Pawlenty Out with New Commercial

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has come out with a new ad, challenging Barack Obama's announcement of a second bid for the White House:

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Democrats give us the Fayetteville Finger

There's an interesting debate that is shaping up here in Arkansas.

A little background, first. Arkansas is an overwhelmingly Democratic state. The governor is a Democrat, and -with the exception of Mike Huckabee- has been for a very long time. (Interestingly, the lieutenant governor is a Republican.) Both the House and the Senate are overwhelmingly Democratic. Both state Senators are Democratics. It is only the three of the four Representatives who are Republican, with the sole Democrat being from the Fourth District.

This is a new development for the state of Arkansas. In the past, only the 3rd District has sent a Republican to the national House. But this past election, the 1st and 2nd Districts chose to send Republicans. This has caused quite a bit of panic among the state Democrats.

Because, you see, the census data has come in, and the congressional districts need to be redrawn. As I mentioned before, the 3rd District is heavily Republican, but the rest of Arkansas leans Democratic. There are some Republicans scattered throughout Arkansas, but nothing compared to northwest Arkansas.

(And in a pure stroke of co-ink-a-dink, Northwest Arkansas is also the reason for the congressional redistricting, what with the population explosion and economic stability. Yep, those two things are completely unrelated!)

Now, this isn't to say that the large majority of the Democrats in our fair state are like national Democrats. Far from it! For the most part, they could almost pass for Republicans.

Well, almost.

All this is prelude to a brewing controversy. At the top of this post, you should see two maps of Arkansas. The first one should have a red splotch in the middle, and yellow in the top left corner, purple in the top right corner, and green running along the bottom of the state. This is the congressional district map as it exists now.

The second map has a yellow splotch in the middle, red in the top left corner, green on the right side, and purple along the bottom and reaching into the top left corner. This is the proposed map (known locally as the Fayetteville Finger), and some people have a problem with it.

Northwest Arkansas is a Republican stronghold... except for Fayetteville. Fayetteville, being a college town, finds ways to elect dirty, filthy hobo-like hippies to office.

I'm not kidding.

They demanded that the newest Wal-Mart be earth-toned and without the distinctive Wal-Mart blue and red colors... and Wal-Mart did it!

Of course, they also had some setbacks. The city administration demanded Cracker Barrel have their roadside sign more in line with what they wanted. Cracker Barrel told them what they could do with that and went to Springdale. Ruth's Chris Steak House was told the same thing, and they decided to open up in Bentonville instead. Macadoodle's is a chain of liquor stores, and they also decided to open in Springdale when the city of Fayetteville decided that they didn't want a non-local liquor store in the city limits.

But I digress.

The big controversy is that the Democrats want to take the population of Fayetteville out of the 3rd District and put it in with the 4th District. The hope is that this would solidify having a Democrat in the 4th District, leaving the 3rd District to the Republicans, and possibly knocking the 2nd District Democratic enough to take it as well. The end result would be one district being solidly Republican, two districts solidly Democrat, and the fourth evenly matched.

Doesn't sound like a party that is confident in its future, does it?

Now, today, we've gotten word that the Fayetteville Finger has been rejected by the committee proposing it, although it doesn't mean that the proposal is dead. There is a new proposal out, but I can't find a map of it yet. When it does, I'll post it as soon as I can.

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Breaking: KSM Military Tribunal Planned

Khalid Sheik Mohammed, or KSM, is now set to have a military tribunal to decide his fate. The mastermind of the September 11th atrocities was originally slated by the Obama Administration to undergo a civilian trial in New York. Now he is going in front of military judges.

From CBS:

Attorney General Eric Holder today will announce that self-proclaimed Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammad will be tried in a military commission, CBS News has learned. A source says the commission will be held at the Guantanamo Bay prison.
Trying Mohammed in a civilian court and closing the Guantanamo prison were once some of the Obama administration's top priorities, but political realities have hamstrung both goals.
Holder previously announced that Mohammed and four other alleged Sept. 11 plotters would be tried in New York City, but he scrapped that plan in the wake of public consternation.

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