Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Posted by BH 8:48 pm 2-14

Living through collapse: Greeks resort to eating out of trash cans

Your browser does not support iframes.
Greece has literally been on fire the past few days, with protesters burning businesses and buildings in response to the poor economic conditions and the austerity plans that would be tied to any kind of bailout for the Mediterranean country. Finally, the media is picking up on the story, but the real questions should be why did they not see it sooner and why are they not seeing the parallels to America?
The New York Times reports:
By many indicators, Greece is devolving into something unprecedented in modern Western experience. A quarter of all Greek companies have gone out of business since 2009, and half of all small businesses in the country say they are unable to meet payroll. The suicide rate increased by 40 percent in the first half of 2011. A barter economy has sprung up, as people try to work around a broken financial system. Nearly half the population under 25 is unemployed. Last September, organizers of a government-sponsored seminar on emigrating to Australia, an event that drew 42 people a year earlier, were overwhelmed when 12,000 people signed up. Greek bankers told me that people had taken about one-third of their money out of their accounts; many, it seems, were keeping what savings they had under their beds or buried in their backyards. One banker, part of whose job these days is persuading people to keep their money in the bank, said to me, “Who would trust a Greek bank?”
It later adds:
For months, Greece has sat at the epicenter of an economic crisis that is threatening the foundations of Europe and that has the potential to bring new waves of economic upset to America. The latest austerity plan meant to satisfy Greece’s creditors and allow for new infusions of financial aid may have averted involuntary default — and a global economic downturn — but will nonetheless make life for ordinary Greeks even more difficult. The plan reduces the minimum wage by more than 20 percent, mandates thousands of layoffs and reduces some pensions, probably ensuring that strikes and demonstrations will continue to be a feature of the Greek landscape.

On radio this morning, Glenn read from the report “It’s not uncommon to see decently dressed Greeks discreetly rummaging through garbage bins for food. A new book about how the country survived the Nazi occupation — “Starvation Recipes” — has become a surprise hit.”
Glenn jokingly paged the head of his publishing division to say that they should be publishing a similar book.
“All of these things I’ve told would come, and I’ve told you to prepare for,” Glenn said.
Glenn said that he was routinely mocked for some of his predictions by people like Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, but the Greek people would likely not find those jokes amusing now.
The NYT article also notes a strange sense of relief that has washed over the Greek people. But why?
“They knew the reckoning was coming. And at least they’re dealing with the truth now. The truth will set you free even though it will make you miserable at first. It will set you free. I think Americans actually long for the truth. We’ll make it. And we’ve made it before. And we will help the people in Europe that haven’t made it. We’ll help them. Just as we always do. If we don’t lose our faith. If we don’t lose what makes us truly Americans,” Glenn explained.
“Greece is at the beginning of this cycle. What’s going to happen in Europe is going to be a rerun of the 1930s but it will sweep the world,” Glenn said.


POSTED BY BH 7:32 pm 2-14

I have seen a strange spirit of fear and anxiety throughout this nomination fight.  Those fearing that whomever gets the nod, how the vaunted Obama machine will destroy our candidates.  Then there is the hand-wringing over potential head-to-head polling matchups of each of the candidates vs. Obama.  Worst of all, the nastiness and vitriol between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich has done much damage to to their public image and makes one wonder if either of these guys is really cut out to be president.  On one hand you have Mitt Romney whom but all has the nomination shown up after Florida only to remind conservatives that he (with the willing consent of the establishment) really intends to pull the GOP leftward if he is the president.   Then you have Gingrich who after some sterling debate performances in South Carolina, reveals his very thin skin when he is attacked like he had in Iowa and he did again in Florida.   If Gingrich reacts to being attacked like he has been from Romney, just imagine his caterwauling when he gets hit by Obama.  Lo and behold, the door of opportunity has been opened to Rick Santorum who has handled himself in a dignified way, even in the face of some very cruel attacks from the media regarding his stillborn child.  When confronted about his support for earmarks that my man Rick Perry hit him with, he simply said “I’m not perfect.”  Should we give this guy a chance and unite around him?
I have my reservations about Santorum and many here have cited his past positions on votes and positions that he has taken during his time in Congress.  Big government conservatism has proven to be costly to our nation.  Keep in mind that the Tea Party movement didn’t get started until the Democrats started their push to get Obamacare signed into law.  Before then, our nation was mostly asleep to the financial peril that had been wrought by our leaders in Washington for quite some time before that.  Rick Santorum was in office when this was going on.  So long as the economy was good, things would be okay.  Then we woke up from our slumber staring at a government and legislation that would plunge our country into a financial abyss.
The one thing that I do know about Santorum is that he is a good man who takes a stand for things he believes in whether you agree with him or not.  Also, there is something truly American about how his presidential campaign has been.  Shoestring budget, little organization, dogged perseverance, tireless and grinding campaigning on the ground, hardly a presence on the airwaves but never giving up and keeping at it.  Given that his win in Iowa and his recent tri-state sweep in Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado has turned some heads, people are paying attention to him.  And Mitt Romney is praying Newt Gingrich, the man whom his super PACs and campaign have been ruthlessly attacking him, stays in the race.
Santorum’s idea of going with a 0% corporate tax rate for manufacturing companies to jump start the Rust Belt is going to definitely perk some ears in Michigan and Ohio once voters there look at him which they are probably already doing.  But there is an awful omen for Mitt Romney starting to percolate.  The South is starting to look hard at Santorum too.  Santorum is up in Tennessee with the latest polling there.  Reason stands that if Santorum is up in Tennsessee, he probably is up in Ohio as well.  It will be interesting to see what polling is taking place in other Super Tuesday states in the South.  If Santorum wins Michigan (which PPP states that he has indeed pulled ahead) and pulls off a Super Tuesday sweep save Vermont and Massachusetts, he will be the nominee.  The South figured to be Gingrich territory but with Gingrich cratering everywhere in the polls, if it comes down between Romney and Santorum and Santorum takes the Midwest and the South, game over.
When I think about the challenge that Rick Santorum could pose to Barack Obama, I see a lot of advantages.  Beside all of Barack Obama’s presidential baggage that Santorum would no doubt remind voters of, Obama wouldn’t be able to go with the 1% tax the rich narrative that his campaign would love to hit Romney with, he would be hammered in regards to Obamacare and wouldn’t have Romneycare to save him, the recent debacle that Obama tried to pull with the HHS forcing churches to provide birth control as part of health coverage takes the social issue platform off the table, Obama’s weak foreign policy, I could go on and on.  Bottom line, the light of scrutiny would fall on Obama’s time in office and the shape our country economically is in.  Imperfect as Santorum is on a few things, he would be very difficult to attack in a general election.  Conservatives would no doubt be behind him, but his crossover appeal to blue collar union social conservative Democrats (the Reagan Democrats) could pose a very real problem for the Obama campaign.  There is a huge segment of this voting faction that doesn’t succumb to union strong arm thuggery. I speak as someone who has some friends and family in this faction.  The Obama campaign has to be worried about independents that he has been polling around 35% approval for a year now but if their union support is fractured, Obama is candidate for a landslide defeat.
Santorum-Rubio would be an awfully tough ticket.  So why are we afraid of Santorum getting the nod again?




POSTED BY BH 6:44 pm 2-14 Happy Valentines

From PJTV My new Friend.... Bill



Posted by Herbie Swartz 5:50 pm 20-14 (Valentines Day)

I used to be like this...

Then I met a girl...

She was like this...

Together, we were like this...

I gave her gifts like this...

When she accepted my proposal, I was like this...

I used to talk to her all night like this...

And at the office I used to do this...

When my friends saw my girlfriend, they stared like this...

And I used to react like this...

But on Valentines Day, 
she received a red rose from someone else like this...

And she was like this.

And I was like this.

Which later led to this..

and this...
I felt like doing this...

So I started doing this...
NOW look at me.

Hi Folks,
Thank's To George Rice, I can use This Again This Year.
It's the cutest onhe yet.
Happy Valentine's day and just for one day 'Get Along Damn It!
God bless and stay well.
God bless our troops and all in harms way!
Thank you. 
here is how i turned out after all that ?

Arizona, Step up to the Plate ?

Posted by BH 5:33 pm 2-14

Babeu at CPAC Friends,

The assault on our country, our constitution and our freedom coming from Washington, DC is unacceptable.

In Arizona, our legislature passed Senate Bill 1070 - to enforce the laws the Federal government won't enforce - and the Federal government's solution is to sue our state rather than simply enforcing immigration laws.

Then the Federal government put up signs in Pinal County - which isn't even a border county but is still the #1 pass through county for drug and human smuggling - warning people to not travel through the area because it is too dangerous. Again, they do this rather than enforcing immigration laws.

And then to make matters even worse, the Obama Administration has allowed 2,000 high powered weapons to be given to some of the most violent criminals in America, resulting in the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and hundreds of people in Mexico. President Obama, Janet Napolitano and Eric Holder then have the nerve to turn around and attack our second amendment rights.

Furthermore, we have a President who is dividing our country along economic boundaries, pitting those of us who earn a living against those who want to "occupy" their way into a life they've never earned.

As a Sheriff and someone who has sworn an oath to protect and defend our Constitution, I won't allow this to be the future of America.

The race in the 4th Congressional District of Arizona is a fight for a return to the conservative values that you and I believe in. This is a fight to define the Republican Party. When we look and act like Democrats, we will lose and we should. We need to stand up for the Constitution, and we need to stand up for the rule of law.

I'm a patriot, and I'm standing up for our Constitution and for America.

To do this, I need your help and support. This is our country, and we need to fight for our future.

Sheriff Paul Babeu


Posted by BH 3:20 pm 2-14

Back in the dog days of George W. Bush's second term, when each month seemed to bring new lows for the president's approval ratings, there was almost always this consolation: The surveys would show that Congress was even less popular than he was.
In general, that's going to be the advantage an executive enjoys over a collective body such as a legislature. Hence the decision by Barack Obama to take a page out of Harry Truman's 1948 playbook and campaign for re-election against a "do-nothing Congress." Given his record, it may be his wisest course.
It's also a gift to Republicans—if the party's presidential nominee has enough wit to turn it to his advantage.
Let's take the politics first. However useful the "do-nothing Congress" theme may be for Mr. Obama, it's not exactly a ringing endorsement of Harry Reid in an election when the Democratic majority he enjoys in the Senate is up for grabs. To the contrary, it opens the door for Republicans to turn the tables in a way that squeezes Mr. Reid and his fellow Senate enablers: between a Democratic president attacking them implicitly, and a Republican presidential contender attacking them explicitly.
Ed Gillespie, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee who was a colleague in the Bush administration, sums up the challenge this way. "Our nominee," he says, "needs to talk about the do-nothing Senate, and remind voters that Harry Reid and the Democrats are in control there. Republicans need to constantly remind voters that the problems in our economy and with the health-care bill are the result of Democratic control—and that in the Senate this control continues to block reform and advance the Obama agenda."
European Pressphoto Agency
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.)
The good news is that the Republican contenders are mostly in a good place to advance this argument. As a former leader in the U.S. Senate, Rick Santorum no doubt understands how important a majority in the Senate would be to a GOP president. So does Newt Gingrich, who had his own experience with the Senate leadership when he served as speaker of the House.
For the Romney campaign, this line of attack might be even more fruitful. For the most part, Mr. Romney has campaigned as a former business executive and Beltway outsider who can get things done. The president, however, is not a CEO with everyone else in Washington under his direction—and going after Mr. Reid's do-nothing Senate would be a good sign that Mr. Romney understands that.
Manifestly there's no shortage of material. Under Mr. Reid's leadership, the Senate has not passed a budget resolution in three years. It has never voted to extend the payroll tax cut for a full year—which Vice President Joe Biden says is the administration's No. 1 economic priority. Nor did it protest when the president made a controversial recess appointment when the Senate plainly was not in recess.
The one notable area where Mr. Reid did not "do nothing"—ObamaCare—is not pretty. It would be good for Republicans to remind the public of this record. Partly it involved a complete rewrite in Mr. Reid's backroom, along with notorious vote-buying deals to secure enough votes to prevent a GOP filibuster, including the Louisiana Purchase ($300 million in Medicaid funds for the home state of Sen. Mary Landrieu) and the Cornhusker Kickback ($100 million in Medicaid funds for Nebraska's Sen. Ben Nelson).
The point is that with the exception of ObamaCare and the stimulus, Mr. Reid's energies have been exercised largely to prevent action, not take it. Remember Mr. Obama's jobs bill, and how he called on Congress to "pass this bill now"? When Senate Republicans pushed for a vote, Mr. Reid responded by changing the rules of the Senate to prevent one.
Over in the House, meanwhile, Republicans have been a hive of activity. Currently some 30 pro-growth bills languish in Mr. Reid's do-nothing Senate, lest the buck ever be passed to the president's desk. These include measures reflecting proposals endorsed by the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness—ranging from regulatory reform and tax simplification to reducing our dependence on foreign sources of energy.
For the past two years, House Republicans have used their majority to block further expansion of the Obama agenda. They have also come up with real alternatives that they know will likely be vetoed by the president or stalled in the Senate. That too is part of the groundwork for this November's elections. For the message they are sending is that if you want change in Washington, you need more than a Republican-controlled House.
By adopting the do-nothing Congress meme, Mr. Obama implies that Mr. Reid and his Senate Democrats have failed.
Memo to Messrs. Romney, Santorum and Gingrich: Now's the time to make that point from the right.


Posted by BH 3:11 pm 2-14

Happy Valentines Day Everyone from Free Zone.

As the West's conflict with Iran over its nuclear program heats up, New York City—with its large Jewish population—becomes an increasingly attractive target.


BY  Mitchell B Silber


On Monday, Israeli embassy workers in the capital cities of India and Georgia were targeted in terrorist attacks that Israeli officials believe were planned and carried out by Iran and its client, the militant group Hezbollah. The bomb in Tbilisi was defused, but the bomb in New Delhi, planted in an embassy worker's car, exploded and injured at least two.
Iran's next target could well be on American soil. In Senate testimony last month, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper stated that Iranian officials "are now more willing to conduct an attack in the United States in response to real or perceived U.S. actions that threaten the regime."
As evidence, Mr. Clapper cited an alleged plot foiled last October in which a naturalized U.S. citizen of Iranian descent, directed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, hired a member of a Mexican drug cartel to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States. The plan involved blowing up a Washington, D.C., restaurant—potentially killing hundreds of Americans in the process.
Iran has a proven record of using its official presence in a foreign city to coordinate attacks, which are then carried out by Hezbollah agents from abroad, often leveraging the local community—whether wittingly or not—as facilitators. Most notable are the 1992 and 1994 bombings of Israeli and Jewish targets in Argentina, which killed 29 and 85 people, respectively. The New York City Police Department, where I work as director of Intelligence Analysis, sent a team to Argentina to study the modus operandi of those attacks and to meet with Argentine security officials who worked the investigations. Coupled with open source information, this is what the NYPD learned:
Iranian agents were sent to Argentina years before the attacks, where they integrated into society and became Argentine nationals. Mohsen Rabbani is believed to have been in charge of coordinating the 1994 attack and is subject to an Interpol arrest warrant for his involvement. He first came to Argentina in 1983, where he subsequently became the main imam at At-Tauhid, an Iranian-funded mosque in Buenos Airea
AP Photo/Joji Thomas, Economic Times
A bomb planted in a car belonging to the Israeli Embassy exploded in New Delhi, Feb. 13.
After traveling to Iran in August 1993 to participate in a meeting that allegedly gave the planned attack the green light, Mr. Rabbani returned to Argentina as a cultural attaché to the Iranian Embassy, conveniently providing him diplomatic immunity. Then, Hezbollah agents from abroad received logistical support from members of the local Lebanese-Shiite community and the Iranian Embassy to carry out the attack.
The Argentine attacks were by no means isolated incidents. Hezbollah has been tied to failed attacks in 2009 against Israeli and Jewish interests in Azerbaijan, Egypt and Turkey. Last month, Thai officials arrested a suspected Hezbollah militant for possibly planning attacks there or perhaps facilitating the movement of weapons through Bangkok.
The NYPD must assume that New York City could be targeted by Iran or Hezbollah. On Feb. 3, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei threatened that Iran "had its own tools" to respond to sanctions and threats of military action against it. Indeed, as the West's conflict with Iran over its nuclear program continues to heat up, New York City—especially with its large Jewish population—becomes an increasingly attractive target.
This is neither an idle nor a new threat. As one example of Iranian agents acting in New York, in 2004 two security guards attached to the Iranian mission to the United Nations were sent home by the State Department after being caught conducting surveillance of city subways and landmarks. Iran's U.N. mission allows officials from Iran's Ministry of Intelligence to live and operate in New York with official diplomatic cover.
Iran also has a presence in New York via the Alavi Foundation, a nonprofit ostensibly devoted to charity works and promoting Islamic culture. In December 2009, Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, described Alavi as having "effectively been a front for the government of Iran." A contemporaneous complaint filed by Mr. Bharara's office led to the seizure of Alavi's assets—including the Islamic Institute of New York, the largest Shiite mosque in the city and the location most closely affiliated with Iran's U.N. mission. The NYPD Intelligence Division also played a role during the initial stages of the Alavi investigation.
Hezbollah and its supporters have a presence in New York and the surrounding area as well. In 2008, two Staten Island men pleaded guilty to providing material support to Hezbollah. Just down the road in Philadelphia, 26 people—including a former Brooklyn resident—were indicted in federal court in 2009 for conspiring to provide material support to the terrorist group.
Lebanese-linked businesses in the tri-state area and elsewhere have been implicated in a massive money-laundering scheme benefiting Hezbollah. This scheme was revealed in a civil suit filed against several Lebanese financial institutions last December by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Meanwhile, at least 18 other Hezbollah-related cases have been brought in federal courts across the United States since 2000.
Given the alleged plot against a foreign diplomat in Washington, Iran's increasingly bellicose rhetoric and its long history of sponsoring terror attacks abroad, the NYPD must remain vigilant in attempting to detect and disrupt any attack by Iran or its proxies. Anything less would be abdicating our duty to protect New York City and its residents.
Mr. Silber is director of intelligence analysis for the New York City Police Department.

From Cowboy Byte

Posted by BH 1:48 pm 2-14


Obama Winning His War on Coal

Posted by BH 1:39 pm 2-14


Obama Winning His War on Coal

Time may already have run out for Americans to defeat President Barack Obama in his war against the coal industry. Many utility companies already have run up the white flag.
Before millions of people even knew about the war on coal, decisions were made that will send their utility bills skyrocketing. Some of those choices are irreversible.
A few weeks ago it was revealed at least 32 coal-fired power plants in 12 states, including West Virginia and Ohio, would be closed so utility companies could comply with the Obama administration’s air pollution regulations. On the list was the Kammer Plant near Moundsville.


Bam's BluePrint for Nation Decline

Posted by BH 12:45 pm 2-14

President Obama loves to talk about how he was open to painful changes in entitlement programs in last year’s private budget talks with Republicans. Oddly enough, his bragged-about courage behind closed doors disappears every time he has to put his vision to paper in the light of day.
His latest budget is built on gimmicks and cheery assumptions that support a massive superstructure of new taxes and new debt. It is a blueprint for national decline, a budget worthy of Elysee Palace in its fiscal indiscipline, its squeeze on defense and its assumption of ever-increasing centralized bureaucratic power

The headline number is $4 trillion in alleged debt reduction over 10 years. This figure includes about $1 trillion for the wind-down of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that is happening regardless. Only in Washington do you take credit for cutting money you were never going to spend.
The budget gets some more deficit reduction through playing games with the so-called baseline, the assumption of what spending will be in future years. All of the legerdemain is tissue for a continued spending spree.
The budget proposes slightly more in spending in fiscal year 2013 than the administration requested in its last budget for the coming year. Over 10 years, spending will increase from $3.8 trillion to $5.8 trillion, for $47 trillion total. Spending doesn’t decline in any year.
As recently as the end of the Clinton years spending was about 18 percent of GDP. President Obama plans to spend more than 22 percent of GDP every single year of his hoped-for two terms in office.
In 2022, spending will be almost 23 percent of GDP. The increase in spending that we were told was an emergency response to the recession becomes the new normal.
The president wants to chase the new spending with almost $2 trillion in new taxes — higher taxes on income, on dividends, on capital gains and on sundry other targets. Tax receipts will double from $2.5 trillion to $5.1 trillion and hit a little more than 20 percent of GDP in 2022, well above the average since 1940 of 17.4 percent.
While spending grows overall, defense gets cut back. It is the area that the Obama administration considers most deserving of a dose of Greek-style austerity. Overall security spending — a broad category that includes more than just defense — will go from 5.2 percent of GDP to 3.4 percent. At the same time we are told we are pivoting toward an Asia threatened by a rising China.
The administration assumes the growth of Medicare will be kept under control by its king’s cure, the Independent Payment Advisory Board. The budget envisions investing the board with new powers and clamping down further on its goal for controlling Medicare. The experts populating the board are limited to cuts to providers that either won’t happen or will drive many of them out of the program.
The bottom line is that even with the assumptions of healthy economic growth, of high taxes, of a peace dividend and of a ruthlessly efficient team of bureaucratic masters for Medicare, the debt picture is still bleak. On its own terms, the Obama budget would add another $11 trillion in gross debt, taking us to an astonishing $26 trillion. And that’s if nothing goes wrong.
This budget won’t be passed by Congress or even the Democratic-held Senate, because Democrats got out of that business.
President Obama inveighs against a do-nothing Congress even though his own party hasn’t passed a budget in the Senate, as required by law, in more than 1,000 days. His chief of staff, Jack Lew, asserted the other day that Democrats can’t do it because Republicans won’t let them get 60 votes — when all they need is 51.
Given how much worse he looks whenever he puts something down on paper, the president should himself take the next logical step and stop offering budgets altogether.


Why Democrats Fear Ultrasound and Photo ID ?

Posted by BH 12:43 pm 2-14

Feb 12, 2012
When Democrats are busy ordering conservatives around for our own good, one of the justifications for their bossiness is they are the party of science. While Republicans are the party of examining chicken entrails.

Yet when it comes to the science of photography, Democrats are the party of schizophrenia.

On one hand various liberals want to place lurid photos of cancerous lungs on the front of cigarette packs, Photoshopped images of diabetic amputees on candy bar wrappers and the skull & crossbones on individual M&Ms — all in an increasingly fanatical effort to prevent individuals from doing potential harm to themselves by exercising free choice.

Heartbeat_BillBut when it comes to photos that may prevent individuals from doing actual harm to others, Democrats quickly lose interest in prevention and move to immediate opposition.
In Virginia it appears a law requiring women to view an ultrasound before deciding to execute her baby will finally pass this session and be signed into law. The prospect of women being exposed to more information before the decision to abort has predictably driven the Party of Death into a frenzy.
Sen. Janet Howell (D–Planned Parenthood) was in such an uproar she couldn’t even produce a relevant legislative metaphor. The Senate defeated Janet’s amendment to the ultrasound bill that would’ve required men who wanted a Viagra prescription to undergo a rectal check and cardiac stress test.
Anyone with even a minimal knowledge of equivalency — and not blinded by abortion obsession— would have known the proper sex–specific amendment would have required men in the market to enhance their structural integrity to first buy a copy of American Baby.
That amendment would have had a much better chance of passage and left both sides of the gender divide better informed regarding the consequences of their actions.
The second example of photo–phobia involves requiring voters to show a valid photo ID. Judging by the Democrats response to this bill you would have thought someone was trying to stop an abortion!
vote_id_requiredNAACP Director Benjamin Chavis screamed that Republicans were trying to “lynch democracy” by instructing voters to show ID. That’s strange. Are hotels trying to “lynch sleep” when they require a photo ID before allowing you to check in?
Is the bank trying to “lynch currency” when you must show a photo ID before cashing a check?
Is 7/11 trying to “lynch parties” when they ask for a photo ID before selling you the MD 20/20?
Yet people check into hotels, cash checks and get hammered every day even with the photo requirement.
Voter fraud in the US is much more real than earthquakes from hydraulic fracking, manmade global warming or Keystone pipeline environmental devastation, yet Democrats will do nothing to prevent the occurrence.
A federal investigation in Chicago estimated that at least 100,000 illegal votes had been cast in the 1982 gubernatorial election and that voter fraud was routine for years. In Atlantic City Democrat campaigns regularly request absentee ballots for the homeless and then cast those ballots fraudulently. And in Louisiana I’ve personally seen the man who carries cash and a .45 to pay the vote haulers.
Before its demise, ACORN was notorious for producing fraudulent voter registrations, which are a precursor to fraudulent voting, just as buying a wheelbarrow of Contac is the precursor to meth.
Still hysterical Democrats claim voter ID laws are designed to prevent students and the elderly from voting.
Is that a fact? When is the last time you saw a student without a driver’s license? When is the last time you saw a senior citizen who had never in their entire lifetime had a driver’s license?
Even if they had never had a license in the past, DMV will issue ID for voting and other identification purposes to seniors and students. I’ll concede grandma may have lost a step over the years, but even the pokiest should be able to get an ID with a two–year lead time.
Anyone who doesn’t place a high enough priority on voting to obtain the proper ID before the election is probably someone who’s input the Republic can limp along without.
The judicious use of photos can preserve life and the integrity of the voting process. In fact, using photos during many decision–making processes can add much to the quality of life in Virginia.
I’m going to contact my legislators and ask them to introduce a bill requiring all potential tattoo customers to first examine a photo of what that tattoo will look like on their saggy old behind when they reach the age of 65, BEFORE they go under the needle.
Gym, beach and public pool customers can only benefit.
Michael R. Shannon is a public relations and advertising consultant with corporate, government and political experience around the globe. He is a dynamic and entertaining keynote speaker. He can be reached at michael-shannon@comcast.net.


Posted by BH 12:28


Jihadist Opportunities in Syria
By Kamran Bokhari | February 14, 2012
Security Weekly

In an eight-minute video clip titled "Onward, Lions of Syria" disseminated on the Internet Feb. 12, al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri expressed al Qaeda's support for the popular unrest in Syria. In it, al-Zawahiri urged Muslims in Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan to aid the Syrian rebels battling Damascus. The statement comes just days after a McClatchy report quoted unnamed American intelligence officials as saying that the Iraqi node of the global jihadist network carried out two attacks against Syrian intelligence facilities in Damascus, while Iraqi Deputy Interior Minister Adnan al-Assadi said in a recent interview with AFP that Iraqi jihadists were moving fighters and weapons into neighboring Syria.

Al Qaeda's long-term goal has been to oust Arab governments to facilitate the return of a transnational caliphate. Its tactics have involved mainly terrorism intended to cause U.S. intervention in the region. Al Qaeda has hoped such interventions would in turn incite popular uprisings that would bring down the Arab regimes, opening the way for the jihadists to eventually take power. But the jihadist network's efforts have failed and they have remained a marginal player in the Arab world. By addressing Syria, al Qaeda hopes to tap into the past year of Arab unrest, a movement in which it played little to no part.

The region's regimes have been on the defensive due to the rise of political Islamism, growing public disillusionment and the sectarian Sunni-Shiite split, though foreign military intervention has been required to actually topple them, as we saw in Libya. Growing uncertainty in the region and the gradual weakening of these regimes gives jihadists an opportunity to reassert their relevance. Al-Zawahiri's statement, however, represents a continuation of the central leadership's inability to do more than issue taped statements from its Pakistani hideouts, much less engage in strategic planning.

Jihadists and the Middle East Unrest

Al Qaeda's extreme transnational agenda always has had limited appeal to the Arab masses. Popular unrest in Arab countries and the empowerment of political Islamists via elections in Egypt and Tunisia have underscored the jihadists' irrelevance to societies in the Islamic world. The jihadists have failed to oust a sitting government anywhere in the Islamic world, even in Afghanistan, where the Taliban's rise to power in the mid-1990s occurred in a power vacuum. Recognizing their limitations, jihadists have focused on conducting attacks intended to create crises within target countries and in those countries' external relations -- as is the case in Pakistan and Yemen. The jihadist hope has been to create enough disorder that they would eventually be able to seize power.

This approach has proved difficult because Arab governments (despite their weaknesses) have been resilient and societal fragmentation has not worked to the advantage of jihadists. A second option has been to try to take advantage of power vacuums that were created by other forces. Iraq presented one such opportunity when U.S. forces ousted the Baathist regime in 2003, allowing for the emergence of al Qaeda's then-most active node. In Iraq, the country's Shiite majority posed a daunting obstacle to the jihadists even before the jihadists alienated their Iraqi Sunni allies to the point that they began siding with the Americans, which led to a degradation of the jihadist network in Iraq. By contrast, post-Gadhafi Libya, with its proliferation of militias -- some of which have both Islamist and jihadist tendencies -- could become a more welcoming place for jihadists. But even if Libya were to descend into Islamist militancy, geography would most likely prevent it from spreading too far beyond Libya's borders.

However, given Syria's strategic location at the crossroads of so many key geopolitical fault lines, the meltdown of the Syrian state could easily result in a regional conflict. Most stakeholders oppose foreign military intervention in Syria for this very reason. Many states are eyeing the strategic goal of weakening Iran geopolitically through the ouster of the Alawite regime in Syria, but even that prospect may not be enough to offset the potential costs.

Jihadists' Prospects in Syria

With or without foreign intervention, jihadists in the region have ample room for maneuver in Syria. The most significant regional jihadist presence lies across the Syrian border in Iraq. These forces benefited from Damascus' decision to back Sunni insurgents from 2003 to 2007. The consolidation of Shiite power in Iraq greatly weakened these forces. Now that Syria is unraveling and armed resistance to the regime is shaping up, the jihadist flow is reversing direction, with jihadists now entering Syria from Iraq.

Al Qaeda in Iraq sought to channel Sunni disenfranchisement at the hands of the Shia, but now the group is looking to help Syrian Sunnis empower themselves at the expense of the Iranian-backed Alawites. Jihadist forces within striking distance of Syria are likely trying to exploit the unpopularity of the Alawite regime among Sunnis as a way to gain a foothold in Syria.

The level of factionalization among the Syrian rebels works to the advantage of jihadists. Just as Iraq's Sunni tribal forces, Islamists and Baathists cooperated with the jihadists against U.S troops and the country's new Shia-dominated security forces, many elements within Syria's Sunni population would be willing to align with jihadists given the constraints they face in battling the well-armed Alawite-dominated Syrian military.

Complicating matters, the Syrian intelligence apparatus has long cultivated ties with jihadists to insulate Damascus from jihadist attacks and to use jihadists in proxy wars with Syria's neighbors. As the state gets more and more embroiled in the internal conflict and the intelligence apparatus gets bogged down with rising distractions at home, these jihadist elements who have been on the payroll of Syrian intelligence can turn against their former handlers along the lines of what has happened in Pakistan and Yemen.

In addition to the jihadists based in Iraq and those who have long worked with the Syrian regime, neighboring Jordan and Lebanon host jihadist forces that also see opportunities in the Syrian unrest. Saudi Arabia also has Sunni militants angered by the killing of Sunnis at the hands of what they call the "infidel" Alawite regime. Just as the Saudis redirected their own jihadists toward fighting in Iraq instead of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh could encourage jihadist non-state actors to fight in Syria. A recent fatwa from a number of top Sunni religious scholars (including some prominent Saudis) forbidding membership in the Syrian security forces would help in this regard.

Regional stakeholders are reluctant to see foreign military intervention, leaving the option of covert support in the form of supplying weapons to the Syrian rebels. Jihadists can be expected to make use of such covert support as they work to insert themselves in Syria. Even if weapons aren't intended for jihadists, the increased flow of weapons and training into Syria provide an additional opportunity for jihadists to build on this support by offering more battle-hardened experience to a still disorganized armed resistance.

But while neither the domestic opponents of the Syrian regime nor the international stakeholders have an interest in seeing Syria collapse into sectarian conflict, jihadists want just that. As in Iraq, we could see bombings against Alawites and other non-Sunni groups, including Iranian and Hezbollah targets. This could be extended to attacks in Lebanon in an attempt to stoke a regional sectarian conflict.

The jihadists could well succeed in sparking a regional sectarian conflict that would involve multiple state and non-state actors and would see Iran and Saudi Arabia locked in an intense proxy war. Western or Israeli involvement in the conflict would please the jihadists even more.

It is therefore in the jihadists' interest to thwart a negotiated settlement in Syria. Though it is still unclear who was responsible for the Dec. 23, 2011, and Jan. 6 suicide attacks targeting Syrian intelligence, they served the jihadists' purpose as they forced the regime to crack down even harder on opponents (both armed and unarmed).

As the rebels and their supporters respond in kind, the jihadists can thus instigate a cycle of violence leading to an intensely polarized environment. The net result of such a process could be a meltdown of the Syrian state and the rise of multiple armed factions, including jihadists.

The collapse of the Syrian state in turn would allow the jihadists a wide arena in which to operate, stretching from Lebanon to Iraq and putting them very close to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories -- the best theater a jihadist could ask for. However, the nature of their capabilities, which will determine the extent of damage they can cause in the Levant and the surrounding area, remains unclear.

It is by no means inevitable that jihadists will flourish in Syria and use it as a launching pad to undermine regional security. The Syrian state is still very much holding, and rebel forces remain divided and do not appear capable of serious advances against the government.

The Risk of Regional Sectarian War

The Syrian upheaval takes place at a time of heightened geopolitical and sectarian tensions in the region, where Iran and its largely Arab Shiite allies are seeking to make inroads into the largely Sunni Arab countries.

For Tehran and its main non-state proxy, the Lebanese Shiite Islamist group Hezbollah, the survival of an Alawite regime in Syria that owes its survival to Iran is critical. Tehran and Hezbollah both have a military presence in Syria, which is assisting Damascus in its efforts to contain the uprising. This is a major cause of concern for international stakeholders, especially Saudi Arabia. Riyadh is the regional player most enthusiastic about seeing regime change in Syria to counter the threat from Iran.

For its part, the Iranian-aligned government in Iraq has a strong incentive to make sure that jihadists in Iraq are not able to relocate to Syria. Baghdad knows all too well that a collapse of the Syrian regime would lead to a revival of Sunni resistance against the Shia, the last thing the Iraqi Shia wish to see.

The United States and Turkey want to ensure that al Qaeda is unable to hijack the Syrian uprising. But neither Washington nor Ankara has the tools to ensure that jihadists don't make their way through Syria's borders with Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon. The Saudis share this viewpoint, but because they are somewhat insulated they would not mind just enough chaos to bring down the Syrian regime, the closest Arab ally of Iran.

Jordan is already deeply fearful of the fallout from Syria while it deals with growing unrest at home, and has a strong interest in making sure Islamist militants on its soil do not use enter the Syrian conflict. Meanwhile, Lebanon could descend into sectarian strife, especially as the Syrian state's ability to maintain control there erodes, the Saudis see an opportunity and the Iranians feel their position becoming vulnerable.

Just how the many moving parts in this dynamic interact will determine the extent to which Syria and its environs become a jihadist playground. A potential collapse of the Syrian state greatly increases the risk of a regional sectarian war that al Qaeda could greatly benefit from. The challenge for those seeking regime change in Syria is thus how to rid the country of Iranian influence while not opening the door to transnational jihadism
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...