PA TV broadcasts song calling for Jihad against Israel: “Draw your sword, let it not return”

November 30, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

But deep down, they really, really want peace. “PA TV broadcasts song calling for Jihad against Israel: ‘Draw your sword, let it not return,’” by Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook for Palestinian Media Watch, November 30:

Official Palestinian Authority television has broadcast a song calling for Jihad and violence against Israel. The PA TV program on culture included an interview with singer Amar Hasan, and the playing of his song: “The oppressors [Israelis] have gone too far. Therefore Jihad is our right… draw your sword.” The words call for violence against Israel in the name of both Arab pride and Islam. [...]

PA TV is controlled by the office of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

Following are the lyrics of the song:

“My brother! The oppressors [Israelis] have gone too far.
Therefore Jihad is a right, and self-sacrifice is a right.
Shall we let them steal the Arab nature -
the patriarchal glory and rule?
And only through the sound of the sword
They respond, with voice or echo.
Draw from the sheath your sword;
And let it not return.
My brother, my brother, Oh proud Arab
Today is our moment, not tomorrow.
My brother, the time of our nation’s sunrise has arrived,
[the time] for you to repel those who are misled
And bring renaissance to Islam.”

Jihad Watch

Calling leaks ‘damaging,’ Bush says Wikileaks will hurt U.S. relations

November 29, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

(CNN) - Former President George W. Bush joined a chorus of U.S. officials calling leaks of sensitive government information “very damaging,” telling a forum at Facebook headquarters that Wikileaks’ recent release of 250,000 documents may significantly hurt Washington’s image abroad.

“It’s going to be very hard to keep the trust of foreign leaders,” the nation’s 43rd president said of the documents on issues ranging from Iran to Honduras to Turkey. “If you have a conversation with a foreign leader and it ends up in a newspaper, you don’t like it. I didn’t like it.”

A relaxed Bush was joined by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on stage in Palo Alto, California, with hundreds watching from the audience and up to 6,500 following the interview live online.

The hourlong discussion centered on Bush’s memoir, “Decision Points.”

Released just over two weeks ago, the book ranks atop the New York Times’ hardcover nonfiction best-seller list, topping works by the likes of rapper Jay-Z, rocker Keith Richards and the late Mark Twain.

The president made it clear that pitching that memoir was his main reason for visiting the social network’s office, saying, “you have got a lot of people paying attention, and I’m trying to sell books.”

Still, beyond hawking his 481-page memoir and pushing several initiatives from the George W. Bush Institute, Bush said he had no desire to intervene in day-to-day politics or be the center of the world’s attention once again.

“I have no desire to generate publicity,” said Bush, 64. “I’ve had enough of fame, and I want to go back to a life that is productive … without generating the [limelight].”

Beyond passing references to current events, like calling South Korea a “force for peace,” Bush focused on key moments from his time in the Oval Office from January 2001 to 2009. He offered anecdotes, talked about sports and even kidded with Zuckerberg, no stranger to the spotlight after this year’s hit movie “The Social Network,” which presented one version of Facebook’s rise.

The president admitted personally using “the Facebook” since leaving office, pointing to his 600,000 online friends. And he playfully, though publicly, asked Zuckerberg to join him in a “joint venture” promoting public education - in light of his initiatives at the Bush Institute and Zuckerberg’s donation this fall of $ 100 million toward improving public schools in Newark, New Jersey.

As he has in other interviews, Bush stated his confidence that the decision to invade Iraq was just, predicting that Iraq will become a crucial hub of democracy in the Middle East. He said that promoting “freedom” - be it personal, political, educational or economic - will be central to his post-presidency life.

“We’re involved in an ideological struggle that will eventually be won, as freedom prevails,” Bush said.

While his standing has improved, a poll released this month shows that four in 10 Americans say Bush was a poor president, and another third rate him as average. Another 28 percent rated him as a good or as one of the greatest presidents ever, up from 20 percent when he left the Oval Office in January 2009.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll was conducted November 11-14, with 1,014 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey’s overall sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Bush said he won’t criticize President Barack Obama, saying, “it’s not good for the country … [and] I don’t want to.” And Bush said he’s learned, from his time as a business and political executive, how to handle criticism - including when to ignore it and when to learn from others - and come to grips with what others think of him.

“Anybody can distinguish between someone who is trying to be helpful and someone who is trying to hurt you,” Bush said. “You don’t have to be a rocket scientist or a college graduate, for that matter.” Here he pointed to Zuckerberg, who dropped out of Harvard to found Facebook.


CNN Political Ticker

Calling the Bluff on Deficits

November 22, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

WASHINGTON — Ronald Reagan (bless his sense of humor) loved to say that the problem with his administration was that the right hand didn’t know what the far right hand was doing.

Something of that sort is happening among conservatives on the supposed urgency of closing the federal budget deficit.

On the near right is the preliminary proposal of the co-chairs of the president’s deficit commission, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson. It is a deeply conservative document that would make sharp reductions in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid while also cutting and flattening income tax rates. As is, it would do a lot of harm, but at least it takes the deficit seriously.

Then there are Republicans in Congress whose top priority is to force through legislation making the Bush-era tax cuts for the best-off Americans permanent, thus expanding the deficit by about $ 700 billion over the next decade.

So on the one hand, we have to cut, cut, cut because fiscal catastrophe is looming.

On the other, we have to make the problem worse by shoveling more money to the rich because … well, because taking care of those with tidy incomes is contemporary conservatism’s highest purpose.

How can the two right hands be forced to work in tandem? Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid promised a vote in Congress if 14 of the commission’s 18 members could agree on a plan. If the incoming speaker, John Boehner, and his new Republican majority are as serious about deficit cutting as they say, Boehner should make clear he’ll hold such a vote in the next Congress since there will be little time for debate in the lame-duck session.

I have doubts any plan can get 14 votes, partly because the Republican House members on the commission, Dave Camp, Paul Ryan and Jeb Hensarling, may not want to put the new Congress on the spot.

But the only way to create pressure for agreement by the commission’s Dec. 1 deadline is if its members know that getting to 14 would force congressional consideration. Boehner should show he has Pelosi’s courage in committing to a vote before knowing what the commission will produce.
In the meantime, the Bowles-Simpson proposal will have to change a lot if progressives and moderates are to come on board. One test will be how open they are to elements of an alternative put forward by Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill. One of the commission’s most progressive members, she leans more on revenue increases and defense cuts to get toward balance.

Good for Schakowsky for showing that liberals embrace fiscal responsibility and that biting hard into programs that benefit the middle class and the poor is not the only way to do so. And all who reject her military cuts need to make clear what they would cut instead, or which taxes they would raise.

As for the Bowles-Simpson plan, its problems include an unrealistic 21 percent limit on revenues as a share of gross domestic product. And as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has pointed out, the proposal’s excessive cuts in Social Security would rather substantially reduce benefits for Americans earning as little as $ 43,000 a year, hardly rich people. That’s a bad idea.

In a sharp but even-tempered critique, the center — a liberal group deeply committed to deficit reduction — also notes that the plan’s health cuts “could harm vulnerable people” by creating “widespread health care access problems.” This is the last thing we need.

And why is a deficit reduction commission in the business of reducing tax rates for the wealthy and corporations? Bowles and Simpson propose to cut the top income tax rate from 35 percent, under current law, to 23 percent? Yes, they get there by eliminating all deductions — and would treat capital gains and dividends like other income, a sensible tax reform.

But even if certain popular tax benefits are restored, the top rate would still come down to 28 percent. Why do that when the deficit is so big?

Some conservatives are smart enough to know what a Trojan horse looks like. Wall Street Journal columnist Daniel Henninger wrote an ecstatic column last week (“8-14-23 or Fight!”) praising the commission for the rate cuts. If the main purpose of this exercise is to cater to the supply siders on The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board, many of us will fall by the wayside.

But shouldn’t conservatives want to debate all this? Will Speaker Boehner be serious about deficits or not?

E.J. Dionne’s e-mail address is ejdionne(at)washpost.com. (c) 2010, Washington Post Writers Group


The Moderate Voice

Calling A Spade A Spade: Time To End TSA Theatre And Corporate Profiteering

November 16, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 
I Will Opt Out

I Will Opt Out

If you are planning to fly over the Thankgiving holiday, be sure to figure out if yours are part of the 70-or-so airports that have whole body imaging (WBI) machines.

These are your stimulus dollars at work: in March, TSA began deploying 450 advanced imaging technology units which were purchased with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds; they expect to have 1,000 deployed by the end of next year. FYI: TSA has 10,000 employees with “secret” clearances.

Despite Department of Homeland Security assurances that its airport screening methods are “risk based”, Jim Harper at the Cato Institute quotes a March 2010 GAO report in making his case that risk assessment is sorely missing from DHS/TSA procedures (emphasis added):

[I]t remains unclear whether the AIT would have detected the weapon used in the December 2009 incident based on the preliminary information GAO has received. . . . In October 2009, GAO also recommended that TSA complete cost-benefit analyses for new passenger screening technologies. While TSA conducted a life-cycle cost estimate and an alternatives analysis for the AIT, it reported that it has not conducted a cost-benefit analysis of the original deployment strategy or the revised AIT deployment strategy, which proposes a more than twofold increase in the number of machines to be procured.

No risk assessment. No “cost-benefit” assessment, even with a doubling of machines.

In a similar vein, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has petitioned the D.C. Court of Appeals to review three DHS/TSA actions— one failure to act, one agency Order, and one agency Rule. EPIC called for a 90-day formal rulemaking process on WBI technology in May 2009; the Agency ignored them. EPIC believes that the body scanner program violates Fourth Amendment rights.

DHS/TSA has not performed a risk assessment or a comprehensive privacy assessment on WBI technology; the later is required by law. According to EPIC:

Courts have required that airport security searches be ;minimally intrusive, well-tailored to protect personal privacy, and neither more extensive nor more intensive than necessary under the circumstances to rule out the presence of weapons or explosives.

In spite of clear Fourth Amendment implications, DHS/TSA has invested millions on technology that they sold to Congress as being for “secondary” scanning of passengers who had aroused suspicion. Now they are sending passengers through WBI machines willy-nilly and are using an invasive pat-down as disincentive to the opt-out process.

[S]tarting tomorrow (30 October 2010), we’re going to start searching your crotchal area” — this is the word he used, “crotchal” — and you’re not going to like it.”

“What am I not going to like?” I asked.

“We have to search up your thighs and between your legs until we meet resistance,” he explained.

“Resistance?” I asked.

“Your testicles,” he explained.

‘That’s funny,” I said, “because ‘The Resistance’ is the actual name I’ve given to my testicles.”

He answered, “Like ‘The Situation,’ that guy from ‘Jersey Shore?’”

Yes, exactly, I said. (I used to call my testicles “The Insurgency,” but those assholes in Iraq ruined the term.)

I pointed out to the security officer that 50 percent of the American population has no balls (90 percent in Washington, D.C., where I live), so what is going to happen when the pat-down officer meets no resistance in the crotchal area of women? “If there’s no resistance, then there’s nothing there.”

“But what about people who hide weapons in their cavities? I asked. I actually said “vagina” again, just to see him blush. “We’re just not going there,” he reiterated.

I asked him if he was looking forward to conducting the full-on pat-downs. “Nobody’s going to do it,” he said, “once they find out that we’re going to do.”

In other words, people, when faced with a choice, will inevitably choose the Dick-Measuring Device over molestation? “That’s what we’re hoping for. We’re trying to get everyone into the machine.” He called over a colleague. “Tell him what you call the back-scatter,” he said. “The Dick-Measuring Device,” I said. “That’s the truth,” the other officer responded.

Crony Capitalism
About the profiteering: American Science and Engineering, Inc. reports record profits and a quarterly dividend. It makes both mobile and stationary backscatter x-ray machines that the Pentagon has deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan … and that TSA and local law enforcement is using in the U.S. Yes, there are mobile vans roaming U.S. streets that contain wide-area backscatter x-ray equipment.

AS&E has been in TSA’s pocket since 2005. A month after AS&E’s CEO testified before Congress about the importance of backscatter x-ray units to security (July), TSA awarded a $ 722,000 contract to AS&E “to upgrade its Z(R) Backscatter personnel screening system. Under the terms of the contract, AS&E will deliver an advanced Z Backscatter personnel screening system to the TSA for extensive testing and evaluation.”

Clearly, AS&E’s partnership with TSA has been lucrative for the company. Notice stock price and when dividends start. From Google:

ASII Stock

ASEI Stock - 10 Year via Google

It’s All Theatre

On the first anniversary of 9-11, Charles C. Mann wrote in TheAtlantic (emphasis added):

It is now a year since the World Trade Center was destroyed. Legislators, the law-enforcement community, and the Bush Administration are embroiled in an essential debate over the measures necessary to prevent future attacks. To armor-plate the nation’s security they increasingly look to the most powerful technology available: retina, iris, and fingerprint scanners; “smart” driver’s licenses and visas that incorporate anti-counterfeiting chips; digital surveillance of public places with face-recognition software; huge centralized databases that use data-mining routines to sniff out hidden terrorists. Some of these measures have already been mandated by Congress, and others are in the pipeline. State and local agencies around the nation are adopting their own schemes. More mandates and more schemes will surely follow.

[Bruce] Schneier is hardly against technology—he’s the sort of person who immediately cases public areas for outlets to recharge the batteries in his laptop, phone, and other electronic prostheses. “But if you think technology can solve your security problems,” he says, “then you don’t understand the problems and you don’t understand the technology.” Indeed, he regards the national push for a high-tech salve for security anxieties as a reprise of his own early and erroneous beliefs about the transforming power of strong crypto.

[...]

The trick is to remember that technology can’t save you,” Schneier says. “We know this in our own lives. We realize that there’s no magic anti-burglary dust we can sprinkle on our cars to prevent them from being stolen. We know that car alarms don’t offer much protection. The Club at best makes burglars steal the car next to you. For real safety we park on nice streets where people notice if somebody smashes the window. Or we park in garages, where somebody watches the car. In both cases people are the essential security element. You always build the system around people.

And that’s exactly NOT what DHS/TSA is doing with WBI technology. Most of the “security” measures implemented at U.S. airports post-9-11 are theatre: visible use of technology to convince Americans that their government is “doing something” to “protect them.” We know that “do not fly lists” are a joke. And Jeffrey Goldberg (TheAtlantic) makes the case that the theatre is misplaced:

By the time terrorist plotters make it to the airport, it is, generally speaking, too late to stop them. Plots must be broken up long before the plotters reach the target. If they are smart enough to make it to the airport without arrest, it is almost axiomatically true that they will be smart enough to figure out a way to bring weapons aboard a plane.

Schneier concurs. Back in January, he told NPR that WBI systems do not “detect low-density explosives.”

It doesn’t detect explosives that are thin. You know, it’s really very limited as to what it detects. It may or may not have detected the underwear bomber. We don’t actually know.

It’s simply theatre.

Just Say No. Opt-Out day is next Wednesday.

More at IWillOptOut.org. PS: shout if you’d like to be added to IWillOptOut as a writer.


The Moderate Voice

Issa walks back comment calling Obama ‘corrupt’

November 8, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Washington (CNN) - Rep. Darrell Issa (R-California), the next chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is walking back remarks he made on conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh’s show last month in which he called President Obama “one of the most corrupt presidents in modern times.”

In an interview with CNN lead political anchor Wolf Blitzer on the Situation Room, Issa initially said, ‘It was a campaign and I make no bones about it - if I had to do it over again I’d have parsed my words a little more carefully.”

But he defended his use of the word corrupt, saying, “When you hand a president nearly a trillion dollars in walking around money, he uses it for political paybacks, that’s corrupt.”

Pressed on the point, Issa said, “Do I think the president is personally corrupt, no, I should never have implied that or created that in a quick statement on a radio call-in.”

During the interview, Issa also called for bipartisan cooperation and insisted that his leadership of the Government Reform committee would not be a witch-hunt for members of previous administrations, but rather a way to improve the function of government.

“Our committee is supposed to be about finding ways to - creating reform, making government do its job, and do it within a smaller budget, not a larger budget,” Issa said, adding that he plans to continue bipartisan initiatives that were part of the committee’s agenda while Democrats were in power.

On how Republicans would govern, Issa said the GOP’s past mistakes would play a role, and urged caution for the future.

“We’ve learned lessons by being voted out,” Issa said of Republicans. “If we don’t make a change in these two years we don’t deserve to continue to have an opportunity to lead.”


CNN Political Ticker

New Jersey Governor Christie Calls Out NBC’s David Gregory By Calling Him an Advocate for Democrat Legislation

November 8, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

The below VIDEO is yet just another reason why we like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie so much. Christie calls it like he sees it no matter what the MSM, liberals, Democrats or unions think. This weekend Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) called out “Meet the Press” host David Gregory by stating he was an advocate for the democrats.

What a shock, a MSM type being a shill for Democrats, say it isn’t so.

 

From the Daily Caller:

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie irked NBC’s David Gregory — and probably won over more conservatives weary of the media in the process — by suggesting on “Meet the Press” that the host was acting as an advocate for Democrats in the way he spoke about taxes.

Christie, a Republican known for his tell-it-like-it-is attitude, disagreed with Gregory’s characterization of the looming battle in Congress over the Bush years tax rate as “tax cuts.”

Christie, saying such word choice drives him “crazy,” said: “This is maintaining the current tax policy in a weak economy, and what you’re advocating through your question is…”

Gregory interrupted: “That’s not fair. I’m not advocating. I’m questioning whether or not they have to be paid for.”

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Scared Monkeys

New Jersey Governor Christie Calls Out NBC’s David Gregory By Calling Him an Advocate for Democrat Legislation

November 8, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

The below VIDEO is yet just another reason why we like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie so much. Christie calls it like he sees it no matter what the MSM, liberals, Democrats or unions think. This weekend Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) called out “Meet the Press” host David Gregory by stating he was an advocate for the democrats.

What a shock, a MSM type being a shill for Democrats, say it isn’t so.

 

From the Daily Caller:

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie irked NBC’s David Gregory — and probably won over more conservatives weary of the media in the process — by suggesting on “Meet the Press” that the host was acting as an advocate for Democrats in the way he spoke about taxes.

Christie, a Republican known for his tell-it-like-it-is attitude, disagreed with Gregory’s characterization of the looming battle in Congress over the Bush years tax rate as “tax cuts.”

Christie, saying such word choice drives him “crazy,” said: “This is maintaining the current tax policy in a weak economy, and what you’re advocating through your question is…”

Gregory interrupted: “That’s not fair. I’m not advocating. I’m questioning whether or not they have to be paid for.”

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Scared Monkeys

Noonan Celebrates GOP Victory by Calling Sarah Palin an Ignorant Nincompoop

November 6, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

It’s a shame
American Thinker Blog

Undecided House races have candidates calling for cash and volunteers

November 6, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

There are still 9 House races where a winner has yet to clearly emerge
American Thinker Blog

Tom Foley Asks Susan Bysiewicz To Hold Off On Calling Election Results “Official” - Controversy Continues

November 4, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Justin Clark, the campaign manager for Tom Foley, is asking that Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz refrain from calling any election results “official” today in the governor’s race.

“Tom Foley contacted the Secretary of the State’s office this morning to request that any further announcements of election results for the governor’s race be postponed until the results are certain and discrepancies between The Secretary of the State’s office, the Tom Foley for Governor campaign, and the media, are reconciled,” Clark said early this afternoon.

“In the last 24 hours alone, Bridgeport has revised downward the number of votes cast for Dan Malloy by over 3,500,” he continued. “Other cities and towns are likely to revise their results in the days ahead. We understand that Susan Bysiewicz plans to announce this afternoon that their results of the gubernatorial election are official. We have sent the Secretary of the State’s office a letter requesting that she not refer to her preliminary results of the election as “official” until the results are unlikely to be amended.”

The tallies have been swinging back and forth, but Bysiewicz announced Wednesday that Malloy was the apparent winner.

“This morning, we were glad to see that the Associated Press updated their election results to show our campaign ahead by 6,240 votes,” said Dan Kelly, Malloy’s campaign manager. “We believe the lead will grow as the final numbers are compiled today as part of a broader process underway by the office of the Secretary of the State.  We’re confident that when those official numbers are announced - hopefully later today - Dan Malloy will be the clear winner, by a margin that exceeds the amount needed for a recount.  This race should not be treated differently than any other race in Connecticut - once the secretary of state is comfortable making the numbers for all the towns official and posting them online, she should do so.”

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