Thursday, January 7, 2010

Political Digest for January 7, 2010

I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree with every—or any—opinion in the posted article.

86-year-old Indian governor resigns after three-woman sex tape is broadcast on TV
My new hero. Excerpt: An 86-year-old Indian politician has resigned after a TV news channel broadcast a tape allegedly showing him in bed with three women. Narain Dutt Tiwari quit as governor of a southern state after the tape was broadcast on Christmas Day.

Chris Dodd to step aside
Expensive mortgage after all. “Belike the price of a jackal’s meal were more than a thief could pay.” –Kipling. But this probably means the seat will stay liberal Democrat. If a Republican wins liberal CT, will likely be a RINO, but at least a RINO will vote Republican to organize, the most important vote a legislator casts. Excerpt: State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is widely expected to step into the void filled by Dodd and, at least at first blush, should drastically increase Democrats' chances of holding the seat. Blumenthal, who has served as state Attorney General since 1990, is the most popular politician in the state and has long coveted a Senate seat; he had already signaled that he would run for the Democratic nomination against Sen. Joe Lieberman (I) in 2012. (A sidenote: Assuming Blumenthal gets in to the race, Rep. Chris Murphy could be the long-term beneficiary as he is widely regarded as a rising star and would be at the top of the list of Democratic hopefuls to challenge Lieberman in 2012.) Without Dodd as a foil, Republicans chances of taking over a seat in this solidly blue state are considerably diminished. Former Rep. Rob Simmons and wealthy businesswoman Linda McMahon are battling it out for the Republican nod but either would start as an underdog in a general election matchup with Blumenthal…..Dodd's political problems were further compounded later in 2008 when it was reported that he had been included in a special VIP mortgage loan program by Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo. Dodd insisted he was unaware of his inclusion and he was cleared of any wrongdoing by the Senate Ethics Committee but the political damage was done. Once among the safest of incumbents, Dodd's numbers plummeted in the spring of 2009 before rebounding somewhat over the summer. But, a Quinnipiac University poll conducted late last year showed significant slippage for Dodd and led to widespread speculation that he had to vacate the seat for his party to have a chance at retaining it in the upcoming midterm elections. Dodd's troubles were politically ironic, coming at a time when his power on Capitol Hill had reached a breath-taking level that most legislators dream of but never come close to achieving. In the last 18 months Dodd has been the primary author or co-author of legislation re-writing housing mortgage rules; the $700 billion bailout of Wall Street; key portions of the $787 billion stimulus package; a consumer protection bill overseeing the credit card industry; and the nearly $900 billion health-care legislation that has passed the Senate is in final negotiations with the House now.

Dorgan to leave Senate, giving Republicans chance to win North Dakota seat
This should be a GOP pick-up if Hoevan runs, as polls showed him beating Dorgan. Excerpt: But Dorgan was facing a potentially serious race in November against his state's popular Republican governor, John Hoeven. Senate strategists indicated that Hoeven was genuinely undecided about the race but that an open Senate seat in the Republican-leaning state -- North Dakota has not gone for a Democrat for president since 1964 -- now makes it very likely that he will run.

Dorgan and Dodd Quit Sinking Ship
Excerpt: The retirements of Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Byron Dorgan of North Dakota are the latest evidence that the Democrats understand what they have done to their party by following Obama’s radical agenda. That they both lack the courage to face the music for their own roles in this debacle says more about their character than their ideology. But the broader problem the party faces is that it no longer has a right or a center, only a left wing. The very public way in which the existence of a center-right in the Democratic Party proved to be a mirage has done more to undermine the party’s chances for victory in 2010 than any other aspect of the healthcare debate. When liberal Republicans failed to rally to Bill Clinton’s 1993-1994 agenda — including his failed healthcare proposal — they laid the basis for their total demise in subsequent years. Sens. Jeffords, Chaffee, D’Amato, Packwood, Hatfield and Specter (as a Republican) are gone. Sens. Snowe and Collins are all that remain of the once-dominant Rockefeller wing of the GOP. They have been replaced by real Democrats.

Colorado Governor Ritter to retire
Excerpt: Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter (D) will not seek a second term this fall, according to Democratic sources briefed on his decision. Ritter was elected in a landslide in 2006, and his state's capital, Denver, hosted the Democratic National Convention and the presidential nomination of Sen. Barack Obama in 2008. But Ritter's political fate has dipped considerably in the intervening years, and he faced an extremely difficult re-election race against former Rep. Scott McInnis (R) in November. The Denver Post reported that Ritter has scheduled an 11 a.m. press conference Wednesday. Numerous sources close to the governor told the Denver paper that he will announce his decision then. Ritter's campaign manager did not return an e-mail seeking comment. "Bill Ritter was literally the weakest incumbent in nearly 50 years and his own party was unenthusiastic at best for his reelection," said Colorado Republican party chairman Dick Wadhams. "Colorado has certainly changed from that heady day at Invesco Field."

Dems agree that House will take up, tweak Senate healthcare bill
Transparency and bipartisanship? We don’t need no stinking transparency and bipartisanship! Excerpt: House and Senate leaders have formally agreed to bypass a bicameral conference committee to merge two healthcare bills, and have opted to instead “ping-pong” the Senate bill over to the House and back again, according to House leadership aides. Aides said the agreement was reached during a Tuesday evening meeting at the White House with President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and the top two Democrats from each chamber. The Senate bill will serve as the vehicle by which Democrats hope to send a healthcare bill to Obama to sign into law. Under the “ping-pong” strategy, the House will take up the Senate bill and amend it, then send it back to the Senate for final approval.

"There has never been a more open process for any legislation." --House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on the "transparency" of legislating the health care bill. The Patriot Post (

Let The Sun Shine
Excerpt: Bypassing a conference committee also cuts out a public that will suffer losses from whatever monstrosity is produced by the cover of darkness. Americans stand to lose their power of choice over health care decisions and be stripped of a significant portion of their earnings to pay for a plan most don't want. They deserve to see in an open forum what is being done to them. Instead, they're likely to get whatever the Democrats want to force on them." Without sunlight to disinfect the sordid mess, the public option could be quietly slipped into the final bill. Committee members could set the taxes on high-end insurance plans at an excessively punitive rate. The mandates placed on private insurance companies could drive many out of business and make premiums unaffordable to millions. A long list of harmful ideas exists that could be tacked onto the bill, and few of us would know about them. Without a conference committee, the rule that requires the conference report to be publicly available for at least 48 hours before a vote would not apply.

Harry Reid’s Corrupt Christmas Present
Excerpt: The American people didn’t have much of a chance to get a good look at Senator Reid’s corrupt Christmas present before it was passed. The legislation would dramatically expand the power and scope of the federal government -- and fail to fix any of the problems we face. That continues the course of action that Democrats have taken this entire year on health reform. Every bill that has been introduced, from the House Tri-Committee bill this summer to the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee to Harry Reid’s latest bill, the recipe is the same: More regulation, higher taxes, bigger government, less control for you.

Obama’s Other Broken Health Care Promises
Excerpt: When Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) emerged from a closed-door meeting with top House Democratic leaders yesterday, the press asked her about C-SPAN CEO Brian Lamb’s request that she permit cameras to televise the final health care negotiations between the House and Senate. After Pelosi first demurred, a reporter reminded Pelosi about President Barack Obama’s frequent promises to the American people throughout 2008 that he would ensure C-SPAN was allowed to televise exactly such negotiations, to which Speaker Pelosi quipped: “There are a number of things he was for on the campaign trail.” Speaker Pelosi is right: President Obama’s broken health care promises are legendary.

When Obama is faced with a problem, what does he do? Review.
Excerpt: For Obama, a former president of the Harvard Law Review, the response to the Under-bomber has been a veritable Review Revue. And it's not just a semantic thing: His instinct when facing all types of problems -- Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, the Fort Hood shootings, the pending Gitmo closing -- has led him to the same approach: Order a review. It is a hallmark of his governing style. (If—or when—an A-bomb obliterates an American city, he’ll doubtless order a “full review” of what went wrong. Unless it’s DC on a rare occasion when he’s in town.)

From Obama, tough words, no pink slips
Excerpt: President Barack Obama said Tuesday that he demands perfection from the U.S. intelligence community, but stopped short of saying he will fire administration officials who could have done more to thwart an attempted terrorist attack on Christmas Day. Obama, having met with his national security team for about two hours, said that intelligence agencies had enough information to prevent Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab from boarding a plane to Detroit, but they failed to act on it. “That’s not acceptable, and I will not tolerate it,” Obama said. (Until next time.)

Scary: The Fall of Mexico
Excerpt: In the almost three years since President Felipe Calderón launched a war on drug cartels, border towns in Mexico have turned into halls of mirrors where no one knows who is on which side or what chance remark could get you murdered. Some 14,000 people have been killed in that time—the worst carnage since the Mexican Revolution—and part of the country is effectively under martial law. Is this evidence of a creeping coup by the military? A war between drug cartels? Between the president and his opposition? Or just collateral damage from the (U.S.-supported) war on drugs? Nobody knows: Mexico is where facts, like people, simply disappear. The stakes for the U.S. are high, especially as the prospect of a failed state on our southern border begins to seem all too real.

A Crime Theory Demolished
If poverty is the root cause of lawlessness, why did crime rates fall when joblessness increased?
I credit Obama. People have bought so many guns since BO was elected, that criminals are scared to go to work. Excerpt: The recession of 2008-09 has undercut one of the most destructive social theories that came out of the 1960s: the idea that the root cause of crime lies in income inequality and social injustice. As the economy started shedding jobs in 2008, criminologists and pundits predicted that crime would shoot up, since poverty, as the "root causes" theory holds, begets criminals. Instead, the opposite happened. Over seven million lost jobs later, crime has plummeted to its lowest level since the early 1960s. The consequences of this drop for how we think about social order are significant. The notion that crime is an understandable reaction to poverty and racism took hold in the early 1960s. Sociologists Richard Cloward and Lloyd Ohlin argued that juvenile delinquency was essentially a form of social criticism. Poor minority youth come to understand that the American promise of upward mobility is a sham, after a bigoted society denies them the opportunity to advance. These disillusioned teens then turn to crime out of thwarted expectations. The theories put forward by Cloward, who spent his career at Columbia University, and Ohlin, who served presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Carter, provided an intellectual foundation for many Great Society-era programs. From the Mobilization for Youth on Manhattan's Lower East Side in 1963 through the federal Office of Economic Opportunity and a host of welfare, counseling and job initiatives, their ideas were turned into policy.

ObamaCare on Drugs
A tax increase that will cause many seniors to lose private benefits.
Damn. I knew it was a mistake to get old. Excerpt: Democrats are starting to mash together the Senate and House health-care bills, all of the negotiations taking place in secret. One reason to keep quiet is so voters don't discover items like the Senate's destructive change in the way retiree health benefits are taxed. This is a revenue grab that will cost many retirees their private drug benefit coverage, with knock-on harm for the federal budget and financial markets. When the Medicare prescription drug benefit was created in 2003, one concern was that businesses that provided private drug coverage for seniors would dump them into the new taxpayer-funded plan. So Congress created a modest tax subsidy—equal to 28% of the total cost of a drug plan—to encourage employers to maintain coverage for retirees who would otherwise enroll in Medicare. On average, this subsidy will cost the government about $665 per person in 2011, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, while the same Medicare coverage would run about $1,209.

A Less Than Honest Policy
Excerpt: There is a middle-class tax time bomb ticking in the Senate's version of President Obama's effort to reform health care. The bill that passed the Senate with such fanfare on Christmas Eve would impose a confiscatory 40 percent excise tax on so-called Cadillac health plans, which are popularly viewed as over-the-top plans held only by the very wealthy. In fact, it's a tax that in a few years will hammer millions of middle-class policyholders, forcing them to scale back their access to medical care. Which is exactly what the tax is designed to do. The tax would kick in on plans exceeding $23,000 annually for family coverage and $8,500 for individuals, starting in 2013. In the first year it would affect relatively few people in the middle class. But because of the steadily rising costs of health care in the U.S., more and more plans would reach the taxation threshold each year. Within three years of its implementation, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the tax would apply to nearly 20 percent of all workers with employer-provided health coverage in the country, affecting some 31 million people. Within six years, according to Congress's Joint Committee on Taxation, the tax would reach a fifth of all households earning between $50,000 and $75,000 annually. Those families can hardly be considered very wealthy.

Once Obama's target, lobbyist Tauzin now his pet
Tauzin and I do about the same thing for a living, except his salary is about $2M while mine is a tad lower. Yes, I’m jealous, before you say it. Excerpt: White House visitor logs dumped late in the week between Christmas and New Year's Eve show that Billy Tauzin, the top lobbyist for the prescription drug industry and once a favorite target of Barack Obama, visited the White House at least 11 times in Obama's first six months in office. The White House's open door for Tauzin, whom candidate Obama attacked as the embodiment of the revolving door and the corrupt collusion between politicians and industry, further dismantles the myth of Obama as the scourge of special interests. It also bolsters the conclusion that health care "reform" has become a boondoggle for the health industry, especially pharmaceutical companies. During the presidential primary, in the spring of 2008, Obama ran a campaign ad aimed directly at Tauzin, chief executive officer of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. In the ad, titled "Billy," Obama tells a small gathering of seniors: "The pharmaceutical industry wrote into the prescription drug plan that Medicare could not negotiate with drug companies. And you know what, the chairman of the committee who pushed the law through went to work for the pharmaceutical industry making $2 million a year. Imagine that. That's an example of the same old game-playing in Washington. I don't want to learn how to play the game better. I want to put an end to the game-playing." (Didn't mention that Billy is a Democrat.)

Nobody Gets Fired Except Governors in Recessions
Excerpt: Any expectation that state and local governments would use the worst fiscal crisis since the Great Depression to reduce their biggest expenditures is proving to be wishful thinking. Companies have cut 7.3 million jobs, 6.29 percent, since business employment peaked at 115.8 million in December 2007. State and local governments kept adding jobs through August 2008 to 19.8 million and have since cut 132,000 positions -- 0.66 percent, according to the U.S. Labor Department. Blame it on education, which accounts for 53 percent of the total number of government employees on the job. When it comes to something like class size, Americans don’t think bigger is better. Consider New Jersey, which is looking at an $8 billion budget deficit in fiscal 2011 (which begins July 1, 2010), or 28 percent of its budget. During the year, the state eliminated 3,300 jobs, just over 2 percent of the record 154,200 it employed at the beginning of Governor Jon Corzine’s first term. Local governments in the state added 3,300 jobs during the year, and now employ 447,100, more than ever.

Petition to Move KSM Trial From NYC
Imagine three or four al Qaeda terrorists seizing an elementary school during the trial, packing it with bombs, demanding that KSM be released, and shooting a child every half hour until it happens. Fantasy? It already happened in Russia. How hard will it be to slip in terrorists over the open border with Mexico, and pay the Mexican drug cartels to get the weapons and explosives to them. I pray to God that al Qaeda has been too disrupted to pull it off, but it scares me to death.

The Ramzi Yousef Standard
The Administration has ways of making terrorists not talk.
Excerpt: The World Trade Center trials were successful in winning convictions, and they were understandable because at the time we didn't understand the war we were in. But more than a decade later, the real news in these Administration statements is what they don't claim: Whether Ramzi Yousef told U.S. interrogators anything of actionable value about al Qaeda and its future terror plans. We now know that when Yousef was captured, in 1995, al Qaeda leaders were working feverishly to attack American targets. Yousef's uncle is none other than Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11 and one of Yousef's co-conspirators in the failed Bojinka plot to blow up airliners across the Pacific Ocean. Yet as far as we know, Yousef told U.S. interrogators little or nothing about KSM's plots and strategy once he was in U.S. custody. This isn't surprising, since once he was in the criminal justice system Yousef was granted a lawyer and all the legal protections against cooperating with U.S. interrogators. To this day, we don't recall any official claim that Yousef has provided useful intelligence of the kind that KSM, Abu Zubaydah and other al Qaeda leaders later did when they were interrogated by the CIA.

FDR Understood How To Treat Enemy Combatants – Why Can’t Obama?
Excerpt: In a New York Times op-ed article today, Michael Kinsley argues that anybody caught within the United States for suspected terrorist acts should be tried in the U.S. civil courts. He wants a “bright line” for determining where any suspect should be tried – no matter where they came from to launch the attack or who directed and supported them. He concludes that “the nation’s border is as good a line as any.” We have nothing to be ashamed of, little to fear and much to be proud of in choosing to err on the side of treating captured foreign terrorists as we would treat any upstanding American who tried to blow up an airplane full of people. History is a much better guide for dealing with such matters than trying to draw artificial lines. FDR had no compunctions about putting German saboteurs who had landed in Amagansett, New York, and Ponte Verdra Beach, Florida before a military tribunal The Germans had not gotten nearly as far along in carrying out their destructive mission as Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had managed to do. And they were caught as a result of the defection of one of their own, not in the act of trying to bring down a plane with nearly 300 persons aboard. Yet FDR showed no hesitation in treating the German saboteurs as alien enemy combatants, rather than as criminal defendants entitled to a civil trial. He did not want to take any chances with a civilian trial where secrecy could not be guaranteed and legal technicalities could result in allowing the prisoners to go free. Instead, he established a military tribunal, the first to be convened in the United States since Lincoln’s day. The Supreme Court upheld the President’s authority to do so. The trial took a month. In less than two months after the first group of saboteurs landed on our shores, six of the eight German agents were electrocuted.

Obama: Raising the White Flag to America’s Terrorists
Excerpt: For al Qaeda and other terrorists across the globe, Obama is the gift that just keeps on giving. The fanatical Muslim terrorists who are intent on wiping out every man woman and child that doesn’t accept Allah as God was just handed another victory by the President of the United States. In response to yet another threat from the al Qaeda faction in Yemen responsible for training the panty bomber who tried to take out a U.S. bound jet on Christmas day, the Obama administration decided to close down our embassy in Yemen.

Michigan: Muslim high school students wear sweatshirts glorifying 9/11 jihad attacks
Excerpt: "Arab-Americans," they're called here, but their Arabness is beside the point. Their jihadist sympathies come through loud and clear, even despite the usual media cluelessness and obfuscation.

State Department Using 'Diversity Visas' to Encourage Immigration to U.S. from Terror-Ridden Yemen
Coming soon to an airplane seat near you. Excerpt: The State Department has awarded 1,011 special “diversity visas” allowing Yemeni nationals to immigrate to the United States since 2000, the year 17 U.S. sailors were killed when the USS Cole was attacked by terrorists in the Yemeni port of Aden. The "diversity visas" are designed to encourage immigration from countries that do not otherwise send significant numbers of immigrants to the United States.

Obama Imperils Intel Briefings
President Barack Obama’s executive order last Tuesday to declassify millions of secret U.S. government document delighted left-wing “open government” groups, but it may render impotent one of the intelligence community’s most vital tools: the President’s Daily Brief, or PDB. Described as “the most highly sensitized classified document in the government,” every one of the overnight-written reports the commander-in-chief receives each morning from the CIA and other spy agencies, going back decades, would eventually be required by law to be revealed under Obama’s newly-established National Declassification Center within the National Archives.

Google blocks negative search recommendations on Islam
Excerpt: Google has blocked all search recommendations on Islam but has left negative search recommendations for other religions such as Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism etc...

Six trucks of explosives 'disappear' in Yemen
Coming soon to an airplane seat near you. Excerpt: Fears of a terrorist strike against Western embassies in Yemen have grown amid claims a convoy of lorries laden with explosives had been smuggled into the country's capital city, Sana'a. In an apparently botched surveillance operation, militants driving six trucks filled with weapons and ordnance succeeded in giving security forces the slip as they entered the city, according to local media. The revelations came as western diplomatic missions in Sana'a went into lockdown following threats from al-Qaeda's Yemeni affiliate, which has taken responsibility for a failed attempt to blow up an airliner over Detroit on Christmas Day.

Washington state felons should have voting rights, federal court rules
Discrimination against felons is racist because? Excerpt: A federal appeals court on Tuesday tossed out Washington's law banning incarcerated felons from voting, finding the state's criminal-justice system is "infected" with racial discrimination. The surprising ruling, by a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Seattle, said the law violates the 1965 Voting Rights Act by disenfranchising minority voters.

Earth's Upper Atmosphere Cooling Dramatically
Probably Global warming. From the “Science is settled” crowd: More work is needed to fully understand the links between the sun's energy, rising greenhouse gas emissions and the Earth's outer atmosphere, the scientists said.

The Politics of Hope and Fear Revisited
Excerpt: My good friend Brian recently put together a very good video exposing Al Gore’s utter hypocrisy. It pretty clearly shows that Gore’s a fake and a political opportunist of the worst kind. The video particularly focuses on his position on outsourcing, and starts out by looking at his position in the 1993 NAFTA debate and the way he attacked his opponent in that debate, Ross Perot. Ironically, it ends with a clip from a speech Gore gave in 2008 where he rails against outsourcing and blames it on Bush, while all Bush did was continue the policies Gore was arguing for.

Letter to the editor in Kansas
"It is getting really old, in this day and age, you are afraid to ask those who do the laundry to separate the whites from the darks as this can be misconstrued as racial."

1 comment:

  1. Full body scanners will only horrify TSA employees as they're reminded why most humans do not appear in Playboy Magazine.