2010 Year in Review

Let’s face it — 2010 was a disaster. A month-by-month reminder of just how awful it was.

Let’s put things into perspective: 2010 was not the worst year ever. There have been MUCH worse years. For example, toward the end of the Cretaceous Period, the Earth was struck by an asteroid that wiped out 75 percent of all the species on the planet. Can we honestly say that we had a worse year than those species did? Yes we can, because they were not exposed to Jersey Shore.

So on second thought we see that this was, in fact, the worst year ever. The perfect symbol for the awfulness of 2010 was the BP oil spill, which oozed up from the depths and spread, totally out of control, like some kind of hideous uncontrollable metaphor. (Or, Jersey Shore.) The scariest thing about the spill was, nobody in charge seemed to know what to do about it. Time and again, top political leaders personally flew down to the Gulf of Mexico to look at the situation first-hand and hold press availabilities. And yet somehow, despite these efforts, the oil continued to leak. This forced us to face the disturbing truth that even top policy thinkers with postgraduate degrees from Harvard University — Harvard University! — could not stop it.

The leak was eventually plugged by non-policy people using machinery of some kind. But by then our faith in our leaders had been shaken, especially since they also seemed to have no idea what to do about this pesky recession. Congress tried every remedy it knows, ranging all the way from borrowing money from China and spending it on government programs, to borrowing MORE money from China and spending it on government programs. But in the end, all of this stimulus created few actual jobs, and most of those were in the field of tar-ball collecting.

Things were even worse abroad. North Korea continued to show why it is known as “the international equivalent of Charlie Sheen.” The entire nation of Greece went into foreclosure and had to move out; it is now living with relatives in Bulgaria. Iran continued to develop nuclear weapons, all the while insisting that they would be used only for peaceful scientific research, such as — to quote President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — “seeing what happens when you drop one on Israel.” Closer to home, the already strained relationship between the United States and Mexico reached a new low following the theft, by a Juarez-based drug cartel, of the Grand Canyon.

This is not to say that 2010 was all bad. There were bright spots. Three, to be exact:

Read them here.

Coming Soon: Investigations

The new Republican-majority House will vote on repealing or changing last year’s health care overhaul before the State of the Union address, Rep. Fred Upton, incoming chairman of the energy and commerce committee, said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Upton, a Michigan Republican, said that his party had 242 votes in favor of repeal, and that “there will be a significant number of Democrats who will join us.”

if the House does manage to repeal the health care bill, such a move would likely meet strong obstacles in the Democrat-controlled Senate and White House.

President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in March, after promoting Democratic-led health reform efforts for months after taking office. The law is widely considered to be the signature legislative accomplishment of the president’s first two years in office.

Among other things, the measure was designed to help millions of uninsured and under-insured Americans receive adequate and affordable health care through a series of government-imposed mandates and subsidies. Critics have equated it to socialized medicine, fearing that a bloated government bureaucracy will result in higher taxes and diminished health care services.

Congressional leaders return to Washington Wednesday to open the first session of the 112th Congress.

Read more here.

Bipartisan Support for Health Care Law Repeal?

A top House Republican said Sunday that he expects “significant” bipartisan support for a proposed repeal of the health care overhaul — a vote he said would be held before President Obama’s State of the Union address.

Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., who will take the helm of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, would not go so far as to say Congress can muster enough votes to override a presidential veto. But he predicted Republican leaders would not “be that far off” from the two-thirds majority necessary to do so.

“Watch what happens,” Upton said on “Fox News Sunday.” “There will be a significant number of Democrats, I think, that will join us.”

The Republicans’ pledge to hold an early vote to repeal the health care law is widely seen as symbolic. Republicans reason that the voters who gave them the House majority in November expect them to at least go on record against the health law in the next session, though congressional rules make it highly unlikely that they’ll be able to overturn it while a Democratic president is in office.

Though it would be a steep climb for Congress to override a presidential veto in any climate, House Republicans bent on unraveling the bill face a more immediate challenge in getting the repeal to the president’s desk in the first place. To get the ball rolling, they would have to convince the Senate, where Democrats hold a narrow majority, to follow their lead.

Upton said on “Fox News Sunday” that he expects those Democrats who voted against the bill last year — those who are still in office, anyway — to help build a strong majority in favor of the repeal, which could help on the Senate side.

“If we pass this bill with a sizable vote, and I think that we will, it’ll put enormous pressure on the Senate to do perhaps the same thing,” he said.

Read more here.

MAN cuts off his….

….testicles, then hurled them into a park.

The 22-year-old is believed to have carried out the horrifying DIY castration in a bid to change sex.

He waited nearly 24 hours before staggering into hospital. On arriving at accident and emergency, he told stunned staff he had felt “a lot less pain” than he had expected.

He left after being treated with swabs and stitches – and was advised to seek psychiatric help.

A spokesman for Derbyshire’s Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Trust said last night: “A man in his early twenties presented himself at the hospital minus his testicles, which he had removed the previous day.

“He was treated, then discharged from A&E. We can say no more because of patient confidentiality – but this is pretty unusual.”

It is believed the man, who has not been named, was suffering from “gender confusion issues” and may have been attempting a home sex change before hurling his unwanted privates into Queens Park, Chesterfield.

One local said: “It makes your eyes water just thinking about it.

“A few people have stopped walking their dogs in the park for fear of what they’ll dig up.”

Reported here.

A rising GOP star in Santa Fe

When she took the oath of office Saturday morning in Santa Fe’s historic plaza, Susana Martinez aNew Mexico’s — and the nation’s — first elected Latina governor.

The 51-year-old, four-term Doña Ana County district attorney is also a rising star in national Republican circles, already being mentioned in the blogosphere as a potential vice presidential candidate in 2012.

But as she takes over from Bill Richardson — a termed-out Democrat whose final two years in office were clouded by federal investigations into pay-for-play allegations — Martinez faces stiff challenges as New Mexico deals with a high unemployment rate and a hefty budget deficit.

“We have to start cutting back on the wasteful spending,” Martinez said in a telephone interview last week as she drove to her hometown of Las Cruces. She wants to sell the state’s $5.5-million jet, pare administrative costs in the education budget and put the state’s generous film industry incentives under the microscope.

Martinez is also considering scaling back the Rail Runner Express commuter train service and is looking to privatize operations at Spaceport America, where Virgin Galactic soon hopes to launch suborbital space flights. She has also promised to reverse a policy of issuing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants and to fight for reinstatement of the death penalty.

Each of these proposals could be seen as a repudiation of Richardson and his expansive approach to state government. “We’re asking people to cut back and not spend as much, but government has not been able to do that,” Martinez said.

Read more here.

Muslims continue to kill Christians

We are witnessing martyrs for the faith in our own time. In the latest string of attacks on Christians in the Middle East by Muslim extremists,

A car bomb exploded last night [New Year’s Eve] outside a Coptic church in Alexandria, Egypt, just before Mass ended. The death toll from the bloody attack is, for now, 21 dead and 43 wounded.

On October 31, Al Qaeda attacked and killed Assyrian Catholics in a church in Iraq during Mass. They made a promise to rid Iraq of Christians; they’re succeeding.

The Islamic effort to cleanse the Middle East by Christians has increased,” writes a Coptic website. In a statement published by the Egyptian press, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has appealed to Egyptians, “Copts and Muslims, to maintain their unity in the face of the terrorist forces that undermine the stability of the homeland and its unity.

Pope Benedict XVI has invited the leaders of the world’s religions to come together at a summit planned for October 25, 2011 with the theme of working toward world peace. This date will mark the 25th anniversary of a similar summit convened by John Paul II in Assisi in 1986.

Benedict told pilgrims and tourists in St Peter’s Square the aim of the meeting would be to “solemnly renew the commitment of believers of every religion to live their own religious faith in the service of the cause for peace.”

World leaders can make promises to try and contain their more radical members, but we all know extremists desire only to destroy, not to cooperate with peacemakers. The leaders at the summit ought to condemn the acts of their radical members. To speak of peace without reference to the destruction perpetrated on innocents is like burying one’s head in the sand. It does no good.

It really doesn’t matter if you agree with the Catholic faith and its practices, or whether you think the Pope is the devil. No one should be killed because of his or her religious beliefs. Just as the first Christian martyrs were slaughtered simply because they followed Jesus, so too our present day Christian brothers and sisters in humanity are being murdered for their faith.

Canada Slashes Corporate Tax Rates

American lefties typically gaze northward with envy at Canada’s high taxes, socialized medicine (never mind the waiting lists and Canadians fleeing southward for quick access to technology unavailable at home), and higher-density, mass transit-dependent cities. But The Canadians have figured out something that eludes American progressives: taxing corporations is a silly way to raise revenue for the state, as it hinders job creation,

Phred Dvorak writes in the Wall Street Journal:

Canada’s government says the cuts and other business-attracting measures should bring more investment to the country. Economists say it’s tough to figure out what the actual effects of such moves are, though some companies say Canada’s relatively low taxes and stable financial and regulatory environment swayed their decisions to move operations and capital north.

It would be much better for America to cut its corporate tax rate to zero, which would spark an immediate wave of investment. Tax the resulting wealth when it is received by actual human beings, rather than at the level of job-creating legal entities. Better yet, tax the wealth when it is spent on consumption. The resulting boom will enrich everyone, though it will disappoint those who preach class envy as the basis for politics.

Taxing corporations is like taxing seed corn. It can only have the effect of hindering the creation of new wealth.

Christians, police clash after Egypt church bomb

Christians clashed with Egyptian police in the northern city of Alexandria on Saturday, furious over an apparent suicide bombing against worshippers leaving a New Year’s Mass at a church that killed at least 21 people. It was the worst violence against the country’s Christian minority in a decade.

The Interior Ministry blamed “foreign elements,” and the Alexandria governor accused al-Qaida, pointing to the terror network’s branch in Iraq, which has carried out a string of attacks on Christians there and has threatened Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Christian community as well.

Egypt’s government has long insisted that the terror network does not have a significant presence in the country, and it has never been conclusively linked to any attacks here. If al-Qaida was involved, it raises the prospect of a serious new security threat within Egypt.

President Barack Obama condemned “this barbaric and heinous act” and said those behind it must be brought to justice.

The bombing, about a half hour after the stroke of the New Year, stoked tensions that have grown in recent years between Egypt’s Christians and the Muslim majority.

It was dramatically different from past attacks on Christians, which included shootings but not serious bombings, much less suicide attacks. Christians have increasingly blamed the government for not taking violence against them or anti-Christian sentiment among Muslim hard-liners seriously.

In the wake of the New Year’s bombing, they unleashed their rage at authorities.

“Now it’s between Christians and the government, not between Muslims and Christians,” shrieked one Christian woman as several hundred young men clashed with helmeted riot police in the street outside the targeted church hours after the blast. As the rioters threw stones and bottles, police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse them. Some of the protesters beat Muslim passers-by.

Read more here.

Eric Holder’s ‘Made-Up’ Defense

He claims that the New Black Panther case is a “made up controversy.” Holder would be well-advised to retreat from this position. Too many stories, too many incidents are known by too many people.

Sometimes politicians make the mistake of listening to their staff at their own peril. Eric Holder is making that mistake when it comes to some of the biggest scandals on his watch, such as the dismissal of the voter intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party. Holder’s interview with Charlie Savage of the New York Times shows that he has adopted a dug-in partisan position instead of a cautious and reasoned one.

For an attorney general facing increased scrutiny from Congress, this partisan approach is damaging to the Department, and probably to Holder’s tenure as attorney general.

In the interview, Savage asks Holder about the New Black Panther dismissal. Despite the fact that the New Black Panthters were captured on video with weapons and fascist-style uniforms at the entrance to a polling place, Holder said: “There is no there, there.” Really? Heady stuff from the attorney general.

When asked about the fact that Holder’s Civil Rights Division is hostile to racially equal enforcement of the law from top to bottom, Holder again deploys another cliché, calling it a “made up controversy.” Holder doubled down: “All I have on my side with regard to that is the facts and the law.”

Maybe Holder has the facts and law on his side in Oz, but not in the United States of America. Holder would be well advised to retreat from this inflexible position. Too many stories, too many incidents are known by too many people. But maybe Holder’s flying monkeys aren’t too eager to tell him there is substance to the allegations — after all, they are part of the problem. Nor can the flying monkeys keep the facts bottled up forever.

Or more likely, Holder knows full well the truth of the allegations, but agrees with the efforts of his flying monkeys to impose a vision of civil rights enforcement that doesn’t protect everyone, but only protects Holder’s political allies.

Read more here.