Sunday, February 14, 2010

Political Digest February 14, 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.

Eyeing midterms, Democrats to push Republicans to go on record against key bills
Excerpt: President Obama has reached out to Republicans in recent weeks, acknowledging that he needs bipartisan support to effectively govern the country. But the White House and congressional Democrats are also hedging their bets with a plan to make a campaign issue of what they say is Republican intransigence. The emerging strategy seeks to take advantage of the partisan stalemate in Congress over Obama's nominees and major policy initiatives, and to turn the page on a year when the White House failed to secure passage of complicated health-care and energy legislation. The idea is to make Republicans either vote for a series of more modest bills identified as popular with the public or explain to constituents this fall why they opposed them. The decision by Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) to offer a pared-down jobs-creation bill and dare the GOP to oppose it is the most visible sign of the plan so far. White House officials and congressional staff members say it will be followed in coming weeks by a House vote to lift the antitrust exemption for insurance companies, measures to assist small businesses and extend unemployment benefits, and a proposal to levy fees on Wall Street banks that received bailout money.

Senate Democrats race to regain bipartisan coalition on jobs bill
Excerpt: Senate Democrats scrambled Friday to reassemble a bipartisan coalition for a jobs bill after Republicans defected over Majority Leader Harry M. Reid's decision to scale back the legislation to appease rank-and-file liberals.

Billy Tauzin, key player in health-care push, leaving PhRMA
Excerpt: The resignation of an influential lobbyist who positioned the pharmaceutical industry firmly behind health-care reform presents another complication for Democratic leaders as they struggle to keep the effort from falling apart amid a tide of political setbacks. W.J. "Billy" Tauzin, a former congressman from Louisiana, announced Friday that he is retiring at the end of June as head of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, which became a pivotal backer of health-care legislation after reaching a deal with the White House aimed at limiting damage to the industry. PhRMA, as the group is known, became a lightning rod for criticism from both right and left. Each side questioned the group's motives and accused the Obama administration of giving too many concessions to drugmakers in exchange for their promise to absorb $80 billion in cuts.

Rally at Penn State (Friday)
Excerpt: Students, residents and community leaders will join together on Friday, February 12, to demand a fair and independent investigation of Michael Mann and Climategate. The University has a conflict of interest, and should not conduct an internal investigation without external oversight. The Rally for Academic Integrity will take place in front of the Hetzel Union Building (HUB) on Penn State’s University Park Campus (Pollock Road entrance) at 12:00. This Rally for Academic Integrity is jointly sponsored by PSU Young Americans for Freedom and The 9-12 Project of Central PA.

Sarah Palin Plays Chess
Interesting view from the left. Imagine if in 2012, Palin gets the votes of everyone who ever made a note on his/her hand, and Obama gets the votes of everyone who has used a teleprompter. Excerpt: Addressing the Tea Party, Sarah Palin wrote three notes on her hand: "Energy, Taxes, Lift American Spirits." Why? She already had notes in front of her on the podium. Surely she could remember three simple themes. Why write notes on her hand? Here's my take on why: she knew that they would be visible when she gave the speech. And she knew that she would be made fun of -- as so stupid that she needs to write notes on her hand. And that's one of her most effective tactics -- to be made fun of. It's an integral part of her strategy of standing in for hardworking, Middle Americans, derided by the condescending, know-it-all liberal elites. So what does the Obama administration do? Press Secretary Robert Gibbs had a great idea: he made fun of her. He wrote a grocery list on his hand at a White House briefing, and belittled Palin for not being able to remember her message. Thus the White House became a vehicle for Palin's narrative of the snooty elites who think they're better than average Americans. Palin is a brilliant strategist. First, note that I just repeated Palin's key talking points: Palin has even us fellow travelers at The Huffington Post repeating, "Energy, Taxes, Lift American Spirits." Talk about earned media. Palin's ploy also spoke directly to ordinary Joe and Jane. By writing her script on her palm, she got to identify with the unscripted real folks, heightening the contrast with the golden-tongued Obama and his reliance on the teleprompter. Hasn't everyone sometimes written a note on her hand? Doesn't putting your message on your palm literally define the common touch? The elites were clueless. Sarah Palin is playing chess. I don't know what game the Administration is playing, but they just walked right into her carefully laid trap. Palin, the strategist, is amazing to watch. Her brilliance is her ability to tap in to the class conflicts that drive American politics these days. Obama, whom I have supported since Iowa, just doesn't get it.

Jonathan Krohn - CPAC - The Future Of Conservatism
13-year-old. Bright kid. Future president.

Census 2010: Up to 800 Canvassers With Criminal Records
Excerpt: Despite reports last fall that the Census Bureau had severed ties with community-organizing group known as ACORN, Americans might want to think twice before opening their doors to canvassers for the 2010 Census after reading what I discovered this morning.

Unbelieveable! Obama’s National Defence Review ignores Iran and Islam in favour of… climate change!
Excerpt: James Corum is Dean of the Baltic Defence College in Estonia. He has taught at American and British staff colleges and is the author of seven books on military history and counter-insurgency. He is a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army Reserve (rtd) and has 28 years' experience as an army officer. Under American law, every four years the US Defence Department must present to Congress a comprehensive review of the security threats and challenges to America. The security picture presented in the review provides the justification for planning and creating the appropriate military forces and capabilities. The Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) is supposed to be a non-partisan and objective strategic document – free of partisan politics. After all, the duty to protect the nation and its citizens is supposed to take a higher priority than subsidies to labour unions, or hand-outs to party loyalists. Last week the Defence Department released the 2010 QDR. It is a remarkable document. As guidance for American strategy it might even take a historical place alongside some of the great assessments of the Bush administration—such as the 2003 Congressional testimony by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz that a war in Iraq could be waged at little cost. The 128-page Defence Review says some important things. It outlines the problems with maintaining the US military’s technological lead over potential adversaries. It discusses the need to counter terrorism. The threat to Western cyber systems is noted. The proliferation of Russian high-tech anti-aircraft missiles around the world is noted as a problem. However, it’s not what is in the document that surprises the reader – it’s what was left out. There presence of two elephants in their living room apparently escaped the notice of American’s top civilian and military leaders. Islamic radicalism does not receive any mention whatsoever in the American Defence Review and the threat posed by a nuclear Iran is mentioned in only one general sentence at the end of a document (page 101). To put this lack of discussion in proportion, contrast this non-discussion with other security issues mentioned in the document. For example, the security effects of climate change are highlighted and discussed in depth in eight pages of the document. I would not have thought it possible that one could publish a book-length assessment of America’s security challenges and responses and NOT address the problem of Islamic radicalism or the Iranian bomb – but that’s just what Defence Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mullen have done. From this one can draw one of two possible conclusions: these men are really, really stupid (not very likely), or they have deliberately minimised the current security threats to please the Obama administration and support the President’s desire to cut defence spending. The smart money is on the latter explanation.

Under plan, intelligence agencies would be consulted before reading of rights
Duh. Excerpt: The Justice Department and the FBI will consult with the intelligence community on information about terrorism suspects arrested in the United States before deciding whether to read them their Miranda rights under a plan now under review in the White House, according to senior administration officials. The proposal follows a controversy over the handling of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who is accused in the attempted Christmas Day bombing and who was read his constitutional rights 10 hours after his arrest. Republicans said the decision cost the Obama administration valuable intelligence.

Abbas aide sex tape scandal shakes Palestinians
Practicing for his upcoming 72 virgins. Excerpt: Palestinian officials on Friday rallied around a top aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas after a video surfaced showing him in the nude in an alleged attempt to trade his influence for sex. The footage of Rafiq Husseini, shot by a former Palestinian intelligence officer, has raised an uproar in conservative Palestinian society. In the video, broadcast by Israeli TV earlier this week, Husseini is shown undressing in a bedroom and calling out to an unseen woman, heard speaking off camera, to join him. “Do I turn off the light or do you? What is the procedure?” Husseini is heard asking the woman. The former Palestinian intelligence officer, Fahmi Shabaneh, said he secretly took the footage in collusion with the unidentified woman. He said the woman had complained to him that Husseini was making suggestive remarks when she went to his office to ask for help with a family problem. Shabaneh said he then installed cameras in the woman’s bedroom and filmed Husseini’s next encounter with the woman.

Terror Chatter Increasing On The Internet
Excerpt: Potential terrorists are swapping tips and ways to beat security measures via the Internet and the spike in terror is “chatter” is cause for concern, reports Armen Keteyian in this CBS News report.

"Slaughter the Jews": Muslim thugs shout down Israeli speakers at universities
Excerpt: How long is Islamic antisemitism going to stand unchallenged? The self-righteous anger of these student protesters is baseless -- the Palestinians are the ones with the imperative to genocide, and the targeting of civilians. And yet even the people who challenge them in these clips seem weak, schoolmarmish, and scolding, instead of telling them straight out that they have no case, that it is known that they have no case, and that their thuggish attempts to silence and intimidate dissenting voices is intolerable.

The Triangle of Death, film review
Excerpt: It’s happened to all of us. We receive a recommendation from a friend: “You’ve got to see this documentary movie. It's important.” Our defenses go up and right away we suspect that while the film in question may deal with a sad-case issue that cries out for public outrage, it is also likely a pretentious dry-ball exercise that will make an evening’s movie-going feel like sitting at the dinner table when you were eight years old and being told by your Mother to “eat your peas and carrots”. Experience has taught us to graciously accept the recommendation, and put said film on our “must see” list – at the bottom – where it stays. The Triangle of Death is not that movie. It belongs at the top of your list. The Triangle of Death is a fast paced picture that documents the day to day combat experiences of the 3rd Platoon of the 2/24th of the United States Marine Corps while deployed in the Sunni Triangle in 2004-2005. For 94 pounding minutes the film puts the viewer right at the tip of the spear. You are there; traveling in the convoys, going house to house, battling from the rooftops. The bullets whizzing by are as thick as deerflies at a Wisconsin fish fry in July, and they are real bullets. Same for the mortar rounds, the IEDs, and the blood…they’re all real, too.

Iran On The Brink
Excerpt: Iran's turning point might come this week or in a month when the Nawrouz (Iranian new year) celebrations kick in, and no amount of nuclear enrichment claims will change things in the long run. On Bahman or Revolution Day (Feb. 11) the regime appeared to have won the numbers game against protesters, having bribed and bused in street-loads of pro-government supporters and stifled opposition turnout. Even then, according to various sources, protests erupted in disparate neighborhoods and massively in provincial cities. State television had to dub away outbursts of anti-government chanting registered on tape during its own rallies. Iran's regime faces a long, hard season of adversity stretching away without respite. For them the national calendar must seem accursedly overstuffed with holidays. You can see their dilemma: They cannot allow a sense of historical inevitability to set in against them. But the opposition will not go away; the bloodier the crackdown the more martyrs to mourn, the more outrage in country and out, the more tenuous becomes the regime's claim on power. So let us take a snapshot of things as they stand now--has Iran passed the point of no return, and if so what will the future bring? What does it mean for the region? According to Reporters Without Borders, the bearded police state now ranks at the top of countries with the most imprisoned journalists. So intense is the struggle for control of information that Iranian authorities shut down Google's new Twitter equivalent Google Buzz, having already shut down Twitter. In its place, China-like, they hope to substitute their own Iran Buzz and tweeting systems. Fat chance.

Indonesian clerics warn against Valentine’s Day’s ‘free sex’\02\13\story_13-2-2010_pg9_14
Only if you remember to buy roses or chocolates. Excerpt: Muslim leaders in Indonesia told the faithful not to celebrate Valentine’s Day because it is sinful and leads to “free sex”.

President Me!

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