Friday, January 22, 2010

Political Digest January 22, 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.

I’m traveling the next three days—posts may be light.

Supporting Scott Brown
Senator Brown has done a great service to the Republic, taking on what was believed to be a hopeless campaign, and changing the dynamic of politics for the better. We owe him continued support. He will be the highest targeted senator in his re-election in 2012. I’ve signed up to have $25 a month deducted from my credit card for his re-election fund. Even $5 mounts up over time, and is painless. If you can help, here is, once again, his campaign website. The fight goes on.

Hitler Finds Out Scott Brown Won Massachusetts Senate Seat
This is the funniest use of the Hitler clip yet!

Obama knows who to blame for Brown’s election!
Heard BO in an interview. He said Brown won because people are angry over what has happened for the last eight years. So, yup, it’s George Bush’s fault. At least two liberal activist friends have told me the fault was entirely Coakley’s, nothing to do with Obama or what’s been happening in Washington. I didn’t try to change their minds. Let them be complacent, keep pushing policies the country hates, and we’ll see in November.

Worth Reading: Brown's Win: Rise of the Tea Partiers, or Alienation of the Indie Voters?
Interesting analysis from the left, in Mother Jones. Excerpt: One told me that she had been at a Democratic phone bank the other night, called a Democrat in Massachusetts to urge him to vote for Martha Coakley, and received a tirade in return: "I'm a Democrat, but I'm voting for Scott Brown. I want to send a message. Washington doesn't care about us. And Obama is surrounded by Geithner and Summers." This official tried to calm down this Democratic Brown voter and contended that in his anger he would be voting against his own interest. "I want to send a message," he replied…. Yet this shift in political tectonic plates may signal not so much the rise of the Tea Partiers, but the alienation of the independents -- perhaps a more profound problem for President Barack Obama and his party. Massachusetts is not quite the liberal (or Democratic) bastion it is caricatured to be. Indies reign supreme, accounting for more than half of the state's 2.1 million registered voters. D's outnumber R's three-to-one among residents who declare a party reference, while Republican governors ruled the roost in the state for 16 straight years. But it's the indie vote that matters -- in Massachusetts and Washington. (Yes, in my district, those register “I” were almost 50%--but they tended to vote “D”—at least until I came along.)

That Old Obama Magic Is Back
Excerpt: Less than two weeks ago, The New York Times said that so much as a "tighter-than-expected" victory for Massachusetts Democratic Senate candidate Martha Coakley would incite "soul-searching among Democrats nationally," which sent Times readers scurrying to their dictionaries to look up this strange new word, "soul."A close win for Coakley, the Times said, would constitute "the first real barometer of whether problems facing the party" will affect the 2010 elections. But when Coakley actually lost the election by an astounding 5 points, the Chicago boys in the White House decided it was the chick's fault. Democratic candidate Martha Coakley may be a moral monster, but it's ridiculous to blame her for losing the election. She lost because of the Democrats' obsession with forcing national health care down the nation's throat….Coakley had already won two statewide elections, while her Republican opponent, Scott Brown, had only won elections in his district. She had endorsements from the Kennedy family and the current appointed Democratic senator, Paul Kirk -- as well as endless glowing profiles in The Boston Globe. And by the way, as of Jan. 1, Brown had spent $642,000 on the race, while Coakley had spent $2 million. On Jan. 8, just 11 days before the election, The New York Times reported: "A Brown win remains improbable, given that Democrats outnumber Republicans by 3 to 1 in the state and that Ms. Coakley, the state's attorney general, has far more name recognition, money and organizational support." (Gotta love the last quote.)

Factcheck: Olbermann Repeats Incorrect Anti-Scott Brown Claims of Racism and Vulgarity
Excerpt: On Wednesday’s Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann defended his recent attacks on Massachusetts Republican Senator-elect Scott Brown by insisting that some of the incorrect claims he made are true when, in fact, two are factually without merit while the third represents one of Olbermann’s typical episodes of distorting the words of a target. Among other complaints, Olbermann on Wednesday claimed that Scott "swore at" high school students at an assembly in 2007, that he has refused to renounce a vulgar threat made against Attorney General Martha Coakley by an audience member at a Sunday rally, and that he demonstrated racism in once suggesting that he wasn’t sure if Barack Obama’s parents were married at the time of his birth.

Sen. Tom Coburn: Massachusetts election was a referendum on Big Government
Excerpt: Massachusetts voters sent Washington a clear message this week that they want members of Congress to change their behavior today – not after the next election, but today. Also, the election was not a referendum on President Obama, health care, or any single issue per se, but on the size and scope of government. With the Senate set to vote once again to raise the debt limit – the amount the government can borrow – I intend to give my colleagues a chance to change their behavior by forcing the Senate to choose between raising the debt limit and cutting spending. The logic of the choice is simple: Millions of families in America have to make hard choices. So should Congress. As a nation we face fiscal ruin if we continue on our present course of borrow and spend. Specifically, my amendment would rescind at least $120 billion by consolidating more than 640 duplicative government programs, cutting wasteful Washington spending, and returning billions of dollars of unspent money from agency coffers. If enacted, this would be the first serious step toward cutting spending in Congress in 15 years.

The Lessons of Massachusetts
Good analysis by Newt Gingrich

Dorothy Brown Charges Workers For Wearing Jeans; Where's The Money?
A different kind of Brown in Chicago. Running for Cook County Board President. Has a nice little racket. Say 1,000 employees pay $2 a day to wear jeans, you can get by on the income, what with your salary and maybe a few other cash streams. Employees say—off camera—that they can’t pay by check, only cash, and there is no accounting for how much comes in or how much went to ”charity.” The real unfortunate thing is that people see that Brown is black—a little darker than Harry Reid thinks is electable—and it reinforces racism, making it harder for honest black folks to get elected or get jobs. Excerpt: But an investigation by FOX Chicago News and the Better Government Association has uncovered a little-known fundraising practice in the Clerk's office that some employees and critics equate to a shakedown. It's called, "Jeans Day." For several years employees have been allowed to wear jeans to work if they fork over cash to the clerk for the perk. Employees said the going rate is $3 a day $10 if they wear jeans the entire week. Problem is, there appears to be little or no accounting for what happens with all that cash. "We would like to know where the money goes," said one Clerk employee who wished to remain anonymous for fear of losing the job. The employee said the cash is collected by office managers and stuffed into oversized manila envelopes. Rarely are the names of the contributors written down. "The timekeeper is the one who takes the cash, and she grabs the money and puts it in one of those brown envelopes," said the employee. Jeans Day was in place before Brown took office in 2000, but employees said it was done only once or twice a year. Now they said it is a nearly year-round operation collecting thousands of dollars in cash. Brown, who is among four Democrats vying for the job of Cook County Board President, has refused to provide specific details about the Jeans Day program. "It's a benevolent initiative... there are proper controls, sir," said Brown when questioned about the practice at a recent campaign event. Brown assured a FOX Chicago News reporter she would provide information about how much money has been raised, where it goes and who controls it. But the following day her office released a statement providing none of the requested information.

Are Republicans Due: Part III by Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: If the Republicans think that they are simply "due" to start winning elections, perhaps buoyed by the recent polls showing the public turning against Democrats in general and the Obama administration in particular, then they may neglect to do the things they need to do if they are to turn their hopes into realities. One of the things that is long overdue is some Republican re-thinking-- or perhaps thinking for the first time-- about the approach that they have been using, with consistently disastrous results, for trying to get the black vote…. There is no point today in Republicans continuing to try to win over the average black voter by acting like imitation Democrats. Those who like what the Democrats are doing are going to vote for real Democrats. But not all black voters are the same, any more than all white voters are the same. Those black voters that Republicans have any realistic chance of winning over are people who share similar values and concerns.

Supreme Court rolls back campaign spending limits
Excerpt: WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court has ruled that corporations may spend freely to support or oppose candidates for president and Congress, easing decades-old limits on their participation in federal campaigns. By a 5-4 vote, the court on Thursday overturned a 20-year-old ruling that said corporations can be prohibited from using money from their general treasuries to pay for their own campaign ads. The decision, which almost certainly will also allow labor unions to participate more freely in campaigns, threatens similar limits imposed by 24 states. It leaves in place a prohibition on direct contributions to candidates from corporations and unions.

My view: This is huge news. I’ve supported finance limits, but am forced to admit they don’t work. Because of the First amendment, there are always ways around them, legal or otherwise. So candidates who try to play be the rules are disadvantaged against candidates willing to circumvent them. Maybe the trick is to let any individual or organization contribute as much as they want to any candidate, but require it to be entered immediately in a public database so we know instantly who is supporting the candidates.

Democrats plan bill to limit impact of campaign finance decision
Excerpt: Democratic leaders will push legislation to limit the impact of Thursday’s Supreme Court decision that lifted restrictions on corporate spending in politics. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Senate Rules Committee and third-ranking member of the Senate Democratic leadership, said he would hold hearings to explore ways to limit corporate spending on elections.

He's Done Everything Wrong
Well, they nominated a rookie with no experience and a murky past. What did they expect? This from the editor of US News and World Report: Obama punted on the economy and reversed the fortunes of the Democrats in 365 days. He’s misjudged the character of the country in his whole approach. There’s the saying, “It’s the economy, stupid.” He didn’t get it. He was determined somehow or other to adopt a whole new agenda. He didn’t address the main issue. This health-care plan is going to be a fiscal disaster for the country. Most of the country wanted to deal with costs, not expansion of coverage. This is going to raise costs dramatically. In the campaign, he said he would change politics as usual. He did change them. It’s now worse than it was. I’ve now seen the kind of buying off of politicians that I’ve never seen before. It’s politically corrupt and it’s starting at the top. It’s revolting. Five states got deals on health care—one of them was Harry Reid’s. It is disgusting, just disgusting. I’ve never seen anything like it. The unions just got them to drop the tax on Cadillac plans in the health-care bill. It was pure union politics. They just went along with it. It’s a bizarre form of political corruption. It’s bribery. I suppose they could say, that’s the system. He was supposed to change it or try to change it….. He’s improved America’s image in the world. He absolutely did. But you have to translate that into something. Let me tell you what a major leader said to me recently. “We are convinced,” he said, “that he is not strong enough to confront his enemy. We are concerned,” he said “that he is not strong to support his friends.”

President Obama issues orders to block tax cheats
Unfortunately, not in his administration. Amazing.

Opinion: Americans Weigh In on Obama's First Year
Excerpt: Forget about the Washington pundits and the political class, what do Americans around the country think about President Obama's first year in office? To help get an answer, AOL News solicited comments through and selected a sampling of responses.

Intelligence chief says FBI was too hasty in handling of attempted bombing
Pardon this bringing out the Marine in me, but “no shit?” Excerpt: The man accused of trying to blow up a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day should have been interrogated by special terrorism investigators instead of FBI agents, the nation's intelligence chief said Wednesday, adding that senior national security officials were not consulted before FBI and Justice Department authorities questioned him and pursued criminal charges.

Americans Call for Change as U.S. Becomes Less Economically Free
That’s what happens when you put statists in charge. Excerpt: The United States' direction today is a dangerous one, even when compared to the country's state of affairs just one year ago, as revealed in the "2010 Index of Economic Freedom," a joint project from the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal. The Index analyzes just how economically "free" a country is, and this year America saw a steep and significant decline, enough to make it drop altogether from the "free" category. This is the first time in the 16 years since the index began publication that the United States dropped to "mostly free."

INSIDE WASHINGTON: Secret bill-writing on the rise
Excerpt: The civics books say the House and Senate produce a final bill by sitting around a table where the public can watch them work out their differences.
It's a quaint idea, but a different modern reality has been on display this month. Democrats are refusing to open to the public the end-stage negotiations on how the government is going to change the delivery of health care. And it's not just on the high-profile health care bill; the trend on much legislation is to shut the door and keep the minority party, cable TV and other media on the outside. Dating back to 1789, the House and Senate have dealt with differences in bills by convening conference committees to thrash out a unified approach that the chambers can pass and send to the president. For the past two decades at least some of these bicameral, bipartisan meetings have been open to C-SPAN cameras. But in those same two decades, leaders from both parties have held fewer and fewer conference meetings, or reduced their significance to photo ops. (So much for BO’s promise of “transparency.”)

Health Reform and the Conspiracy Against Taxpayers
Excerpt: Last week's cynical deal between the Obama administration and organized labor to exempt unionized workers from the so-called Cadillac health plan tax was portrayed as a victory for organized labor. In truth, the deal was a gift to public-sector unions by a president who is himself a member of what I call the New New Left, that is, the party of Americans who always benefit from a growing government. This New New Left rules the Democratic Party and significant parts of the GOP in some states, and public sector workers are anchor tenants in the New New Left's mall. To understand the true nature of the White House deal, look at who actually comprises organized labor in America today. First of all, since both the country's private sector economy and the portion of private workers who are unionized have slumped in recent years, we have finally reached the point where there are more unionized government workers in America than organized private laborers. Moreover, in the private sector the composition of the union movement has changed dramatically by shifting away from high-wage manufacturing jobs and toward low-wage service jobs in industries like health care and building services. Many of these private service sector workers have only modest health insurance packages whose annual premium costs don't approach the point at which the health tax kicks in, so exempting them from the tax is meaningless.

Pelosi says House cannot pass Senate's health-care bill without changes
Thank you, Massachusetts. Excerpt: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that the Senate will have to amend its version of a health-care reform bill before Democrats in her chamber would be willing to vote for it.

Stinking up Congress
Forget fish in a barrel. Identifying ridiculous examples of congressional spending priorities is like shooting pigs in a slop pen. At least once a week, and sometimes daily, the office of Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, issues its "Pork Report" to highlight outrageous government waste. The very fact that such a report can continue week after week, hundreds of millions of dollars after other hundreds of millions, is evidence in itself that spending abuses are almost endless. It's no defense of these items to note that local pork, as a percentage of the federal government's overall spending problem, amounts to small potatoes. As Mr. Coburn is fond of saying, local pork is the "gateway drug" to a much larger overspending addiction. Members of Congress insert their own pork into spending bills, barter support for one another's pork so that all the pork is protected, and then allow themselves to be held hostage to massive entitlement expansions and unconscionable debt for the sake of the local pork they have worked so hard to secure.

Warren Buffett Blasts Obama’s Bank Tax, Compares It To A ‘Guilt Tax’
The “Bank Tax” will hurt the economy by being passed on to customers or our 401ks, while depressing leading, much needed now. But it appeals to the economically-ignorant voter. And Buffet supported Obama, so just deserts if his companies suffer. Excerpt: Speaking to CNBC at Berkshire Hathaway’s special shareholder meeting, billionaire Warren Buffett blasted President Obama’s proposed tax on the nation’s largest banks, and had some oddly optimistic words on the souring housing market. Buffett’s argument against tax, which is laid out in the below video, is that the levy unfairly punishes banks for the losses forced upon taxpayers during the bailout of the auto industry. The largest banks, Buffett said, have already paid back the government with interest. Separately, Buffett told Bloomberg that he “didn’t see any reasons why the banks should have to pay a special tax,” and questioned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had not been asked to pay similar fees.

Hillary to Banned Muslim Scholars: Welcome Back!
The slow suicide continues. Excerpt: The Associated Press is reporting that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has signed orders enabling radical Muslim professor of philosophy Tariq Ramadan, of Oxford University in England, and professor Adam Habib, from the University of Johannesburg in South Africa, to re-enter the United States, after having been banned from doing so for over 5 years. The State Department has concluded that the two no longer pose any danger to the country.

Code Pink’s Support for the Enemy
Why would we be surprised at leftists supporting tyrants? They supported the Nazis until Hitler launched Operation Barbarosa against Stalin, a more beloved mass murderer. Excerpt: Code Pink members became known during the Bush Administration as confrontational anti-war protestors, but the group is actually worse than that. Code Pink’s leadership has aligned with almost every tyrannical force opposing the U.S., from Chavez to Ahmadinejad to Hamas to Iraq insurgents. Code Pink is acting more like the ambassador for enemies of the free world than an advocate for peace. Kristinn Taylor and Andrea Shea King over at are doing an excellent job chronicling the outrageous activities of Code Pink and its leadership over the years. Most recently, Code Pink has organized a “Gaza Freedom March” to call for an end to the blockade of the Gaza Strip, currently controlled by Hamas. The organization boasts that they have provided humanitarian aid to the territory, and has done so under the protection of Hamas. The terrorist group often diverts such aid for its own purposes, and it should be suspected that this is no different. Hamas also builds support by providing social services, so if such aid didn’t directly go to supporting the group’s violent operations, it certainly did go to support its recruiting efforts.

House Democrats: You Know What Seems Like a Good Idea? Extending George Bush’s Tax Cuts
Excerpt: It’s amazing how much the world can change with just one race: Some Capitol Hill Democrats want President Barack Obama to extend tax cuts for wealthy?Americans now scheduled to expire at the end of 2010, arguing that a tax increase could hinder economic?recovery.“I think there is a certain logic to leaving well-enough alone for now, given the fragility of the economic recovery,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly (D., Va.). ” It’s a question of prudent judgment and timing.”

Memo to GOP: Take a Long Look at New York
While we’ve chronicled Kirsten Gillibrand’s political vulnerabilities for some time, it may be worth the GOP noticing that her puppet master can also be had. A little-noticed number in last week’s Marist College poll on the Gillibrand-Ford situation suggests that Sen. Charles Schumer’s national profile could be affecting his approval rating at home. The poll had Schumer’s negative rating at 42 percent, where it has been for months in Marist — but his approval rating was at 51 percent, one of his lowest in that survey in recent years, and down from 58 percent in September.

Global Warming: The Other Side
Good collections of videos.

Three women slain in Shikarpur over Karo-Kari (Honor Killings)
Didn’t get the Islam-is-a-religion-of-peace memo.

Saudi girl, 13, sentenced to 90 lashes after she took a mobile phone to school
The joy of Shari’a law. Remember, as the eft says, all cultures are equally valid—except ours of course. Excerpt: A 13-year-old Saudi schoolgirl is to be given 90 lashes in front of her classmates after she was caught with a mobile camera phone.

'Large number of Wahhabis' streaming into Bosnia-Herzegovina
But didn’t President Clinton have the US go to the aid of Bosnia? The thanks we get. Excerpt: Muslim terrorists in the Balkans have established a terrorist training camp in northeast Bosnia-Herzegovina, according to a report in the newspaper Dnevni List.

Filmmaker Geert Wilders faces hatred charges
The death of free speech in Europe under Muslim intimidation. Excerpt: "According to Wilders, the truth about Islam must be made known, even if it is painful and unpleasant for certain people," his statement on his party's site said. The charges relate to comments Wilders made in a variety of media between 2006 and 2008. They include an October 2006 interview with the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant in which he said he wanted to stop the "tsunami of Islamisation," and another in September 2007 with Radio Netherlands in which he said the Quran should be banned. Wilders' film "Fitna," which he released online in March 2008 to international outcry, is also part of the charges against him. The film features disturbing images of terrorist acts superimposed over verses from the Quran in order to paint Islam as a threat to Western society.

Marines at Khe Sanh
Over 40 years ago.

"(Brown’s election ) is not just the canary in the coal mine, It's the flock of dead ravens landing on the lawn of the Whitehouse." -Wade Randlett, a leading Silicon Valley fundraiser for Obama

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