Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Political Digest August 17, 2010

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

Emboldened by ‘Gulf Swim’, Obama Mulls Dip in Economy
Satire. This site often has funny stuff: After very nearly swimming in the Gulf of Mexico this weekend to reassure Americans of its safety following four months of catastrophic government warnings and frightening media reports, President Barack Obama is reportedly considering a plunge in the economy, according to a White House source. “The president knows that Americans won’t vacation on the Gulf Coast or eat the shrimp until they see him do it,” said the unnamed White House official. “Likewise, businesses and individuals skittish about the economy would gain confidence if they saw the president actually immersed in it along with them. They need to hear him say, ‘I told you this was a disaster, but now it’s okay. Look, I’m jumping in…cannonball!’” If he moves forward with the plan, President Obama would reduce his salary to the level of the average American worker, and begin paying his rent, groceries, fuel and other household expenses from that paycheck. The Obama daughters would be withdrawn from their pricey private school and enrolled in the D.C. public school system where fully 50 percent of students graduate — giving the Obamas a pretty good chance of seeing either Sasha or Malia in a cap and gown some day. Mr. Obama’s guaranteed-for-life pension would be replaced by a voluntary IRA or 401(k), invested in mutual funds. “He wants to pump his own gas and see that meter thing whirling about,” the anonymous source said. “He and Michelle would also go shopping with the kids, and find out just how much arugula a family consumes when you know how much it costs, and you have to choose between that and gas for the mower.”

Tolerance and the Ground Zero Mosque
If they have the right to put up a mosque there, under the first amendment we have the right to put up a billboard across the street condemning Mohammad as a pedophile for consummating his marriage to his youngest wife when she was nine (based on Bukhari, considered one of the strongest of the Hadith, the scared “traditions of the prophet” which illuminate the Qur’an). http://www.faithfreedom.org/Articles/sina/ayesha.htm ~Bob. Excerpt: I am fascinated that the same people who have been able to find a Constitutional right to government control of education, healthcare, and the energy industry are unable to divine from that same document any rational basis for the government to prevent a mosque from being built on Ground Zero. Of course, the issue is not whether the American Society for Muslim Advancement has a constitutional right to build a 13-story, mosque, and community center within 600 feet of Ground Zero. There are a number of things citizens have a right to do—things that the constitutional protection of speech protects—that people of good conscience choose not to do and that others might view as offensive or insulting. It is important to point out that there have been no pronouncements from opponents of the mosque that the American Society for Muslim Advancement does not have a right to build the mosque wherever they wish. Opponents have simply asked that the building not be built in that location. What remains unclear and unanswered is why the supporters of this mosque are choosing to move forward in spite of its offense and emotional injury to others.

Sacrilege at Ground Zero
Excerpt: A place is made sacred by a widespread belief that it was visited by the miraculous or the transcendent (Lourdes, the Temple Mount), by the presence there once of great nobility and sacrifice (Gettysburg), or by the blood of martyrs and the indescribable suffering of the innocent (Auschwitz). When we speak of Ground Zero as hallowed ground, what we mean is that it belongs to those who suffered and died there -- and that such ownership obliges us, the living, to preserve the dignity and memory of the place, never allowing it to be forgotten, trivialized or misappropriated. That's why Disney's early '90s proposal to build an American history theme park near Manassas Battlefield was defeated by a broad coalition fearing vulgarization of the Civil War (and wiser than me; at the time I obtusely saw little harm in the venture). It's why the commercial viewing tower built right on the border of Gettysburg was taken down by the Park Service. It's why while no one objects to Japanese cultural centers, the idea of putting one up at Pearl Harbor would be offensive. And why Pope John Paul II ordered the Carmelite nuns to leave the convent they had established at Auschwitz. He was in no way devaluing their heartfelt mission to pray for the souls of the dead. He was teaching them a lesson in respect: This is not your place, it belongs to others. However pure your voice, better to let silence reign. (In my view, they are building there to spit on America. This is why conservatives oppose it, and liberals, who have no problem with spitting on America as long as they don’t have to stand in line too long, support it. ~Bob)

Obama's Clintonian speech pulls rug from under mosque supporters
Let me be clear. It’s a local issue. But I’m for it, except that I’m not for it, but I stand by my comments. Pure Obama. Excerpt: When President Obama used the occasion of the White House Ramadan iftar dinner to announce his support for the Ground Zero mosque, some of his partisans rushed to praise what they viewed as a ringing endorsement of the controversial project. "Obama's forceful speech yesterday expressing strong support for Cordoba House…will go down as one of the finest moments of his presidency," wrote Washington Post reporter Greg Sargent. Obama, Sargent said, "isn't hedging a bit: He's saying that opposing the group's right to build the Islamic center is, in essence, un-American." "CAP Supports Building of Mosque Near Ground Zero," was the headline of a press release from the liberal think tank Center for American Progress. "President Obama is upholding the best traditions of our Constitution in supporting the right of Muslim Americans to build a mosque and community center on private property near Ground Zero." "I applaud President Obama's clarion defense of the freedom of religion," said New York mayor and mosque supporter Michael Bloomberg. "As I said last week, this proposed mosque and community center in Lower Manhattan is as important a test of the separation of church and state as we may see in our lifetime." The problem was, just hours after the speech, Obama began to back away from his clarion call. I wasn't defending the mosque project, he explained. I was just defending the right of Muslims to build "a place of worship and a community center" on private property in Lower Manhattan. "I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there," Obama told reporters in Florida. "I was commenting very specifically on the right people have that dates back to our founding.

Tax dollars to build mosques
Excerpt: The State Department is sending Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf - the mastermind of the Ground Zero Mosque - on a trip through the Middle East to foster "greater understanding" about Islam and Muslim communities in the United States. However, important questions are being raised about whether this is simply a taxpayer-funded fundraising jaunt to underwrite his reviled project, which is moving ahead in Lower Manhattan. Mr. Rauf is scheduled to go to Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Qatar, the usual stops for Gulf-based fundraising. The State Department defends the five-country tour saying that Mr. Rauf is "a distinguished Muslim cleric," but surely the government could find another such figure in the United States who is not seeking millions of dollars to fund a construction project that has so strongly divided America.

Democrats uncertain about approach to midterms
Excerpt: So, what will they do next? It's a question that has left congressional Democrats, who have spent the past two years mocking Republicans for lacking an agenda, without a clear plan of their own to promote in the final 80 days of the 2010 campaign. House Democratic leaders issued lawmakers three sets of talking points that included one package of new legislation, a collection of modest bills designed to revive the manufacturing sector. Senate Democrats have not exactly jumped to embrace those proposals, instead suggesting that between now and Election Day a more detailed agenda might be forthcoming.

Mike Huckabee, Iowa frontrunner?
Our nutty nominating process. While I think Newt would be the best president, I suspect Obama will beat any of the top four and we need a new face. Excerpt: Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee leads the 2012 field in a survey of Iowa caucus-goers conducted for the Iowa Republican website by GOP pollster Jan van Lohuizen. Huckabee takes 22 percent to 18 percent for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. In a slight surprise, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) received 14 percent to take third while former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin placed fourth with 11 percent. No other candidate scored in double digits. Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a near-certain 2012 candidate, rated just one percent while Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who appears to be getting more and more serious about the race, didn't even register a single percent. (For the Paulites out there, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who ran for president in 2008, placed fifth with 5 percent.) Given the findings -- and the fact that the 2012 campaign has yet to begin in earnest -- the poll is right understood as, basically, a name identification test. Huckabee and Romney finished one-two in the Iowa Republican caucuses in 2008 and so it's no surprise that they hold down those same spots in the new poll.

The Next Pension Bailout: New momentum to dump union retirement burdens on taxpayers.
And Casey claims to be against abortion? Have I mentioned lately that the collapse is coming? Excerpt: Feeling tapped out after stimulus, ObamaCare and everything else? Senator Bob Casey has one more deal for you. If the Pennsylvania Democrat gets his way, U.S. taxpayers will also pick up the astonishing tab for poorly managed union pension plans. Mr. Casey is gathering support for his curiously named "Create Jobs and Save Benefits Act," a bailout for union-run retirement plans. Similar to House legislation from North Dakota Democrat Earl Pomeroy and Ohio Republican Patrick Tiberi, the bill would transfer tens of billions of dollars worth of retiree liabilities to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, i.e., to taxpayers. At issue are multi-employer pension plans, in which companies across an industry pay into a single pension pool. The plans are predominately run by unions and for years have distinguished themselves by poor management. The Labor Department in 2008 listed 230 multi-employer plans that were either endangered (less than 80% funded), or critical (less than 65% funded), or that had applied to government for funding relief. By 2009 that number had soared to 640. The financial crash is partly to blame, but even before 2006 only about 6% of multi-employer plans were fully funded, compared to about 31% of single-employer plans. The real problem is that multi-employer plans have become a sort of pension Ponzi scheme.

Castrocare in Crisis; Will Lifting the Embargo on Cuba Make Things Worse?
Excerpt: Cuba's economic situation has been dire since 1989, when the country lost its Soviet benefactors and its economy experienced a 35 percent contraction. Today, Cuba's major industries -- tourism, nickel mining, tobacco and rum production, and health care -- are fragile. Cubans blame the long-standing U.S. trade embargo for some of these strains and are wildly optimistic about the transformations that will come once the embargo is lifted. Overlooked in these dreamy discussions of lifestyle improvements, however, is that Cuba's health-care industry will likely be radically affected by any serious easing in trade and travel restrictions between the United States and Cuba. If policymakers on both sides of the Florida Straits do not take great care, the tiny Caribbean nation could swiftly be robbed of its greatest triumph. First, its public health network could be devastated by an exodus of thousands of well-trained Cuban physicians and nurses. Second, for-profit U.S. companies could transform the remaining health-care system into a prime destination for medical tourism from abroad. The very strategies that the Cuban government has employed to develop its system into a major success story have rendered it ripe for the plucking by the U.S. medical industry and by foreigners eager for affordable, elective surgeries in a sunny climate. In short, although the U.S. embargo strains Cuba's health-care system and its overall economy, it may be the better of two bad options.

North Korea succession: Kim Jong Il appoints Jang Song Taek caretaker for Kim Jong Eun
Excerpt: A career politician named Jang Song Taek recently became the second most powerful man in North Korea, injecting a dose of unpredictability into the power handoff playing out in Pyongyang between a father too sick and a son too young to manage the transition alone. Many believe that the announcement of an agreement designating Kim Jong Eun the successor to his father, Kim Jong Il, could come at a rare government meeting in Pyongyang next month, though there is some disagreement among North Korea experts and analysts about the most likely timetable. Since its establishment in 1948, North Korea has been ruled by Kims -- first Kim Il Sung, now Kim Jong Il, 68. The expected ascension of a third generation, represented by Kim Jong Il's youngest son, thought to be between 25 and 28 years old, has created a sense of unease among American officials and other experts, who wonder whether Kim Jong Eun is truly prepared to become North Korea's next leader. It is Jang, the 64-year-old vice chairman of the powerful National Defense Commission, who has emerged as a third figure in any succession.

Some Democratic candidates distance themselves from Obama
Excerpt: Fight or flight? That is the question Democratic incumbents and challengers in this fall's elections are asking themselves when it comes to dealing with President Obama. Is the best course to distance oneself from a president whose job-approval rating has sunk below 50 percent and whose appeal to independents has gone missing? Or to embrace him and his policies -- the majority of which remain quite popular with the Democratic base that will be essential to any victories that the party claims this fall?

FDA considers revoking approval of Avastin for advanced breast cancer
Excerpt: Federal regulators are considering taking the highly unusual step of rescinding approval of a drug that patients with advanced breast cancer turn to as a last-ditch hope. The debate over Avastin, prescribed to about 17,500 women with breast cancer a year, has become entangled in the politically explosive struggle over medical spending and effectiveness that flared during the battle over health-care reform: How should the government balance protecting patients and controlling costs without restricting access to cutting-edge, and often costly, treatments? The Food and Drug Administration is reviewing the recommendation of influential scientific advisers to revoke authorization of the drug to treat metastatic breast cancer. Contrary to initial research, new studies indicate that the benefits of the drug, which costs $8,000 a month, do not outweigh its risks, the advisory panel concluded. Citing a dearth of evidence of the drug's effectiveness, its potential toxic side effects, and its high cost, many cancer experts, patient advocates and others are welcoming the prospect that Avastin's authorization for breast cancer might be repealed. But the possibility is alarming other cancer specialists, women taking the drug, some members of Congress and advocates for giving patients as much access to as many treatments as possible. The FDA is not supposed to consider costs in its decisions, but if the agency rescinds approval, insurers are likely to stop paying for treatment. (Well, the NHS in Britain doesn’t pay for it and we know their system is so much better than ours, right? http://seekingalpha.com/article/82685-genentech-britain-s-national-health-won-t-pay-for-avastin)

The Islamist Threat and Their Useful Idiots In a Nutshell http://www.actforamerica.org/index.php/learn/recent-news/10-newsmaster/1039-the-islamist-threat-and-their-useful-idiots-in-a-nutshell
Excerpt: Want to understand the war that we are in whether we like it or not? Then these three books should be on the top of your reading list….. The three books are Mark Steyn, America Alone: The End Of The World As We Know It (2006), Melanie Phillips, Londonistan (2005), and Bruce Bawer, While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam Is Destroying The West From Within (2006). The books pretty much demonstrate Europe is already gone, and has committed cultural suicide while surrendering to radical Islam. The United States may not be far behind unless we change our approach. The three books describe the problem and offer solutions. All three should have received nothing but readers and prizes, but a funny thing happened to Bawer. It was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award from a prestigious book group, but some involved in the process accused Bawer of being a racist, apparently because he offered criticism of radical Islam.

Black Murders Eight Whites; Media Blames Whites
Excerpt: The title of this column seems unbelievable, but it is in fact what happened in America this past week. And almost no one has noticed. After 50 years of being inundated with stories of white racism, and being taught in college that in this white-dominated society, only a white can be a racist, the American public has been properly brainwashed into accepting the otherwise incredible: A black man murdered eight white people at his place of work because they were white, and the media story is about the murderer's alleged experiences of racism. Here's the Associated Press Report from Aug. 7, four days after the murders. It was reprinted in The Washington Post and throughout America: "To those closest to him, Omar Thornton was caring, quiet and soft-spoken ... But underneath, Thornton seethed with a sense of racial injustice for years that culminated in a shooting rampage Tuesday in which the Connecticut man killed eight and wounded two others at his job at Hartford Distributors in Manchester before killing himself. "'I know what pushed him over the edge was all the racial stuff that was happening at work,' said his girlfriend, Kristi Hannah….. Another example was the liberal narrative of the 1992 "Rodney King" riots in Los Angeles. It was perfectly expressed by the major newspaper of that city, the Los Angeles Times. During the riots, in which innocent Koreans, whites and others were beaten, maimed and killed, and innocent businesses burned to the ground, the daily special section on the riots in the Los Angeles Times was titled "Understanding the Rage." When blacks riot, whites are the reason. When a black murders eight whites in Connecticut, whites are the reason. One terrible consequence of this liberal attitude toward black violent crime is that too many blacks come to believe that less is expected of them morally than from whites. And the truth is that most Americans on the left do expect less from blacks.

Obama helps governors to help himself
Excerpt: President Barack Obama will do more in two days this week for his party’s candidates for governor than he has done all year, wrapping his arm around several of the most highly touted gubernatorial hopefuls on the ballot in 2010. But the logic behind Obama’s upcoming appearances in Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin goes well beyond this election cycle. With 37 gubernatorial elections on the ballot this fall, the president has homed in on three of the only states that offer competitive gubernatorial contests this year and also are likely to be pivotal in his 2012 reelection campaign. Obama will start in Wisconsin on Monday with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, whom the White House helped recruit to run for governor. On Wednesday, he’ll headline a fundraiser for Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland in Columbus before flying to Miami to give a boost to Alex Sink, the presumptive Democratic nominee for governor of Florida, at an event for the state party.

RAF to shrink to World War One levels
Alert Snoopy! Excerpt: In the most significant changes to Britain’s defences since the post-Suez review of 1957, ministers and officials plan to scrap large parts of the Armed Forces. The Services will lose up to 16,000 personnel, hundreds of tanks, scores of fighter jets and half a dozen ships, under detailed proposals passed to The Daily Telegraph.

They call it the Grand National: how Royal Marines dodge bullets in sniper alley
Excerpt: The tension hung heavy as the Marines waited to go out of the gate. They stood silently, adjusting their equipment straps. All were sweating profusely in 45C (113F) heat, hunched under the weight of the 55kg (120lb) packs on their backs. “We’ve got air [cover],” offered Jonathan King, the patrol corporal, by way of reassurance. “What, the Mert?” came the sardonic response from somewhere in the ranks. The Mert is the British helicopter-borne Medical Emergency Response Team that carries out wounded men. When the order came the Marines left Patrol Base Blenheim at a run, weaving downhill between tattered sheet screens that only briefly obscured them from a Taleban marksman several hundred metres away. The first bullet cracked and whirred low overhead and a second ricocheted with a whine close to Corporal King. At the bottom the men panted and grinned at each other, safely beyond the sniper’s vision. This, however, was just the first hurdle in what British troops call “Grand Nationaling” around and sometimes over the walls of Sangin.

Even the Poor Are Abandoning Obama, According to Gallup Poll Data
Excerpt: In every week of his presidency until now, Barack Obama has enjoyed a majority approval rating in the Gallup Poll from people earning less than $2,000 per month. But that changed in the Gallup survey conducted from Aug. 2-8, when only 49 percent of Americans in that income bracket said they approve of the job Obama is doing. This marks the first time since Obama was inaugurated on January 20, 2009, when Americans in all four of the income brackets reported in Gallup’s weekly survey of presidential approval gave Obama less than 50 percent approval. For the week of Aug. 2-Aug. 8, only 42 percent of Americans earning $7,500 per month or more said they approve of the job Obama is doing. Forty-four percent of those earning between $5,000 and $7,499 said they approve of the job he is doing. And forty-six percent of those earning between $2,000 and $4,999 said they approve of the job he is doing. The higher the income bracket an American occupies, the sooner he or she was likely to stop approving of the job Obama was doing and the more likely he or she was to stop approving of the job Obama was doing.

America Is at Risk of Boiling Over
Excerpt: It is, obviously, self-referential to quote yourself, but I do it to make a point. I wrote the following on New Year's day, 1994. America 16 years ago was a relatively content nation, though full of political sparks: 10 months later the Republicans would take the House for the first time in 40 years. But beneath all the action was, I thought, a coming unease. Something inside was telling us we were living through "not the placid dawn of a peaceful age but the illusory calm before stern storms." The temperature in the world was very high. "At home certain trends—crime, cultural tension, some cultural Balkanization—will, we fear, continue; some will worsen. In my darker moments I have a bad hunch. The fraying of the bonds that keep us together, the strangeness and anomie of our popular culture, the increase in walled communities . . . the rising radicalism of the politically correct . . . the increased demand of all levels of government for the money of the people, the spotty success with which we are communicating to the young America's reason for being and founding beliefs, the growth of cities where English is becoming the second language . . . these things may well come together at some point in our lifetimes and produce something painful indeed. I can imagine, for instance, in the year 2020 or so, a movement in some states to break away from the union. Which would bring about, of course, a drama of Lincolnian darkness. . . . You will know that things have reached a bad pass when Newsweek and Time, if they still exist 15 years from now, do cover stories on a surprising, and disturbing trend: aging baby boomers leaving America, taking what savings they have to live the rest of their lives in places like Africa and Ireland."

Justice ends investigation of former House GOP leader DeLay
Excerpt: The Justice Department has ended a six-year investigation of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), his attorney Richard Cullen said Monday.
Cullen, chairman of McGuireWoods LLP, said Justice last week dropped its probe of DeLay and has decided against filing charges against the Texan, who led House Republicans until 2005. The investigation centered on DeLay’s ties to convicted GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The controversy surrounding Abramoff helped end GOP control of the House, which they had held since 1994. DeLay, who stepped down as Republican leader in 2005 and resigned from the House the next year, still faces criminal charges in Texas for allegedly participating in a 2002 effort to funnel corporate money illegally to state campaigns. A hearing in that case is scheduled to occur Aug. 24 and a trial could begin in the fall.

Medicaid Rescissions
Excerpt: Last week the August vacation of Congressional representatives was interrupted and they were called back to Washington. The main reason: to vote on a bill that will prevent the states from cutting off health benefits for millions of people. The issue that dominated the news was saving the jobs of teachers, police officers and other public employees. But most of the money allocated will prevent the states from cutting off health benefits for millions of people. If that doesn’t strike you as strange, perhaps you weren’t paying attention to last year’s health care debate. During the year leading up to the final passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), the White House set up a special Web site and invited all Americans to post their own personal stories about insurance company abuses. During the days leading up to the final vote on the bill, the president and congressional supporters used almost every television opportunity to trot out these cases — sometimes in graphic detail. Yet, in all the episodes of abuse, do you recall even a single instance where an insurer: Arbitrarily dropped coverage for tens of thousands of enrollees with the stroke of a pen — just to save money. Dropped entire categories of care — such as dental care or home health care — because it decided these services were too costly? Arbitrarily reduced the fees it paid to doctors and hospitals, pushing many out of its network, and leaving its enrollees with serious access to care problems. Probably not. For a private insurer, each of these activities would be a serious violation of contract. There is one insurer that does these things routinely. It’s called Medicaid and about half of all the newly insured people under the PPACA will be enrolling in it. Here are a few tug-at-the-heartstrings examples I hope we hear more about in future political speeches: A nine-year-old Denver boy died because Medicaid quit paying (in error, it turns out) for his asthma medications. An elderly Michigan woman died of a severe dental infection after Medicaid cut off her dental benefits. A 64-year-old Tennessee man lost his Medicaid coverage right in the middle of his treatment for colon cancer. Maryland Medicaid refused to pay for life-saving liver transplants for two children — arguing that while the procedure was medically necessary, it was not appropriate. Not only were these abuses not addressed in the PPACA, states across the country are currently considering more Medicaid rescissions — eliminating insurance for tens of thousands of people by redefining eligibility, reverifying eligibility more frequently, eliminating entire categories of care, and making access to care more difficult by reducing payments to providers and delaying payments. Further, there is a long history of such “abuses”:

Rosty had good reason to know politics is a blood sport by John Kass
Corruption in Chicago is nothing new. Good column. ~Bob Excerpt: Dan Rostenkowski was 10 years old when his father received a message The Chicago Way. Ald. Joe Rostenkowski, of the heavily Polish 32nd Ward, sold insurance. His wife ran a saloon. Though a loyal member of the Chicago Democratic machine, Joe had a reputation as being headstrong. Then came the message. Actually, there were two. And they were sitting in a car parked outside the Rostenkowski home. One was named Leo "Cowboy" Mosinski. The other was Bruno Switaj. They were top precinct captains for Rostenkowski. And both were dead, shot multiple times as they sat in the car at about 6:30 a.m. on Aug. 6, 1938

Harvard University fund sells all Israel holdings
Meanwhile, investing in countries that legalize child marriage, keep women as chattel, stone women, deny freedom of speech, the press or religion, hang gays and fund terrorism is still fine. ~Bob

The left has collapsed. Its political support has collapsed. Public opinion polls point to a historic repudiation of the president and the Democratic party this fall—something on the order of a 60-seat Republican gain in the House. The GOP has an outside shot at taking the Senate as well. Its claim to intellectual integrity has collapsed. Paul Krugman—Ivy League professor, New York Times columnist, and Nobel laureate (the holy trinity of the liberal establishment)—has humiliated himself with a startlingly dishonest attack on Paul Ryan’s budget proposal. Krugman, called out by Ryan, rebuked by honest analysts, and unwilling to concede his errors, has retreated into uncharacteristic abashed silence. Its Leninist discipline has collapsed. Last week, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs complained about the craziness of the “professional left” in the punditocracy. “Those people ought to be drug tested,” Gibbs explained. “They will be satisfied when we have Canadian health care and we’ve eliminated the Pentagon. That’s not reality….They wouldn’t be satisfied if Dennis Kucinich was president.” Members of the professional left hit back at Gibbs, dubbing the Obama White House the “amateur left.” (...) And its good humor (such as it was) has collapsed. As Politico’s Ben Smith reported last week, "the Agenda Project, a new, progressive group with roots in New York’s fundraising scene and a goal of strengthening the progressive movement, has launched the “F*ck Tea” project, which is aimed, the group’s founder Erica Payne wrote in an e-mail this morning, “to dismiss the Tea Party and promote the progressive cause. We will be launching new products in the next several months to help people all over the country F*ck Tea,” Payne told Politico. Is Erica Payne a loony nobody? No, she’s a lefty somebody—a former Democratic National Committee official, a veteran of many progressive groups, and one of the founders of the Democracy Alliance, the group of big donors who have spent over $100 million to fund “progressive” organizations like the Center for American Progress. Payne says she launched her effort to push back against “the rhetoric over results paradigm that is holding our country hostage.” She wasn’t being ironic. As the estimable Allahpundit commented, “Because, you see, if there’s any movement that’s about results over rhetoric, it’s clearly the f*ck tea movement.” (It is always encouraging to hear positive news for your side. Unfortunately, there's only one poll that really matters, the one on election day. While all these polls are giving us encouragement, we need to remember that each candidate stands or falls on the efforts of his team, his positions, and his personality. If we don't work for victory, we won't get victory. Oddly enough, in a short time, I'm off to the campaign office of a candidate for Governor of Massachusetts, Charlie Baker. What glorious thing will I be doing there? Calling voters live to ask for their votes, the most tedious, unlovely work there is (shoveling manure is easier and more fun; I've done it). I once turned down a job as a telemarketer, thank God. The only good news is I only have to do this drudgery an hour or so weekly. I pity the poor beggars who do this for a living, and hope I'm never one of them. Ron P. Personally, I think the GOP has a 50-50 chance of taking the house and almost none of taking the senate, but would be delighted to be proved wrong.)

One Of Our Hemispheres Is Missing!
Excerpt: The earth’s southern hemisphere is now in the winter season, and it is proving to be a severe one. There have been many deaths of people, animals, fish, and crops. But you haven’t heard about that from the northern hemisphere media. As far as the media is concerned, there is no southern hemisphere. All the media coverage is about fires in Russia, Arctic ice melting, glaciers calving icebergs, heat waves on the U. S. east coast, and other “weather” occurrences up north. So let me bring you up to date on the highlights from down south. June 17, 2010, “500 African penguins freeze to death in South Africa”. “Nearly 500 rare African Penguins have died in the past 24 hours as a result of extremely cold weather in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province.” Here July 19, 2010, “South Africa, Freezing Cold destroys several 100 (sic) Solar Thermal Systems”. Here August 5, 2010, “Snow in Brazil, below zero Celsius in the River Plate and tropical fish frozen”. Here. (As part of the selective reporting normally associated with AGW, virtually all of the major media are ignoring the Southern Hemisphere. Just to be sure you understand the importance of these items, think about where Bolivia and Brazil are in relation to the equator. Ron P.)

Is This All the "Left's" Got in Attacking Republican Allen West?
Military officers are required to be conversant with military and other history. Unlike “journalists” who are not required to be conversant with history or even English usage. ~Bob. Excerpt: Attacking Allen West, a conservative Republican candidate running against liberal incumbent Ron Klein in Florida congressional District 22, has become something of a rite of passage for bloggers and editorial writers of the local left. The attacks are relatively meaningless and probably help West more than they hurt him. What the far left despises the average American prizes. Sometimes the attacks are so silly, they're actually funny. New Times blogger and leading nominee for the Stephen Glass Fabulist Award for 2010, Tom Francis, speculated last week that West was inspired to use the phrase "come and get them" by the 2007 movie 300. Now it's possible Francis may have skipped the May 2004 meeting of the Boca Raton Republican Club where West made his first political speech, but how could he have missed the Palm Beach Post account, by Lona O'Conner, "Army officer addresses Republican Club," which said:

The WikiLeaks Hoax, Part II
(Part 1 of this series appeared in TOJ on 13 Aug 2010 RGP) In part I of “The WikiLeaks Hoax,” I adduced a number of reasons for concluding that the much vaunted “whistleblower organization” WikiLeaks is, in fact, just a facade. This was not always the case. The original WikiLeaks website was, as I have put it, an “equal opportunity” platform for leaks of all sorts. It did not share the current site’s single-minded focus on alleged American misdeeds. The original site went offline in December 2009. Despite the new site’s common logo and “branding,” in substance, the old site has never returned. Just who or what stands behind the WikiLeaks facade is not clear. But what is clear is that WikiLeaks has a special relationship with Germany, a country that spearheaded the opposition to the Iraq war and that — despite the avowed Atlanticism of its current chancellor — has continued to take a generally dismal view of America’s war on terror. Indeed, Germany has done much not only to malign, but even to obstruct the war on terror. (For related links, see here.)

PJM Exclusive: Congressional Report Blasts the Propaganda Presidency, Accuses Administration of Abuse of Office
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Since the beginning of the Obama Administration on January 20, 2009, ordinary Americans have financed and been exposed to an unprecedented number of public relations and propaganda efforts. Federal spending for public relations contracts rose to historically-high levels during the Bush Administration. Under one-party rule in 2009, the White House used the machinery of the Obama campaign to tout the President’s agenda through inappropriate and sometimes unlawful public relations and propaganda initiatives. Congress buoyed the Administration’s propaganda efforts by increasing federal spending on public relations for the first time since 2005. The Obama Administration frequently used federal resources to promote the President’s agenda. In many cases, the Administration relied on the reach and resources of federal agencies and their personnel to promote certain of the President’s favorite programs. The White House also leveraged ties to the arts and entertainment community to embed propaganda in the content of television programming and artwork. These propaganda efforts violated appropriations riders and federal law prohibiting the use of appropriated funds for publicity or propaganda purposes. The White House also used its inherent visibility advantages to multiply the effectiveness of websites containing misleading and controversial information. The White House used its resources to push visitors to websites that urge grassroots activism based on false and misleading information. The President’s right to sell his policy recommendations to Congress and the public is not disputed; however, using the resources of the federal government to activate a sophisticated propaganda and lobbying campaign is an abuse of office and a betrayal of the President’s pledge to create “an unprecedented level of openness in Government.”1 Instead of facilitating openness, the public relations and propaganda activities of the White House have had precisely the opposite effect. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has historically deemed activities involving “covert propaganda” to be unlawful. In those cases, the source of the public relations or propaganda materials did not disclose his or her identity as a federal employee or contractor. Many of the Obama Administration’s propaganda activities are unlawful because they are covert. Furthermore, several programs closely resemble those decried by Democrats and ruled unlawful by GAO during the Bush Administration. This report examines several of the most visible public relations and propaganda efforts during the first year of the Obama Administration. Viewed collectively, these activities reveal an Administration better suited to campaign-style self-promotion than to providing transparent and honest leadership. (Holy shit! This is the executive summary of the Congressional Report on political propaganda by the Obama Administration. Whole report runs 37 pages. PJmedia has an exclusive (actually several, if you follow all the links) on this report released by Darrell Issa (R-CA). I didn't quote the article titled, but rather the PDF of the report itself. Ron P.)

Frederick Collins has to be the most exciting sheriff candidate I’ve seen
Excerpt: Ok, it’s only a local sheriff race, but Frederick Collins is great! He promises to make Cook county (Chicago area) a 2nd amendment county that’s carry AND conceal. No doubt the politicos in Chicago are funding against him with that kind of right-wing hateful rhetoric! He goes on to say we are at the crossroads of freedom and that’s when it gets really good:

Ideas and the State
Excerpt: What do the following disputes — running the cultural gamut — have in common? In education: Should creationism or evolution be taught in public schools? In science: Should we form de facto boards of inquisition to maintain the government-funded consensus on global warming? In arts: Should we support “diversity” in the form of the “Piss Christ”? Or should we engage in social engineering by funding art “that would show support for Obama’s domestic agenda”? And in a sad mixture of religion, politics, and science: Should taxpayers continue to support NASA with an annual budget of $19 billion so that it can pursue its new mission to “engage … with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science”? The answer? Each seeks to determine which ideas taxpayers must fund and support. In so doing, each contributes to making modern politics more acrimonious and fractious than ever. For the impact of resolving these questions goes well beyond their monetary costs. Ideas matter because they represent our personal grasp of the world and thereby shape our most intimate values. Hence, when we’re forced to support ideas we consider false and inimical to our views, the experience can be intellectually and emotionally eviscerating. Yet in our current mixed economy, the result of any of the disputes listed above, and of countless others, is that the winner takes all. Whatever the outcome, lawmakers and politicians impose a certain course of action on everyone, whether or not they agree. Take, for instance, the issue of teaching creationism in public schools. Whichever camp loses is subject to, and forced to pay for, ideas they find loathsome. But, we’re told, such conflicts are inherent in the very nature of a democracy. So they are. This is precisely why the Founders explicitly rejected democracy (a.k.a. mob rule) to form a constitutional republic — one whose sole purpose is to protect individual rights.

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