Friday, October 15, 2010

Political Digest for October 15, 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.

Well I voted early yesterday. Voted straight Republican on the theory that the Republicans are ruining the country….but at a slower rate.


Forward to California voters: Boxer, Waxman Under Fire for Approving Radical Mission Behind Enemy Lines
I’d ask “whose side are they on?”—but I think I know. ~Bob. Excerpt: Two top California legislators are coming under fire after new evidence has emerged that they helped a group of radical antiwar activists cross the Iraqi-Jordanian border in order to deliver aid to families of enemy insurgents in the war-ridden Iraqi city of Fallujah. In December 2004, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) and Rep. Henry Waxman (D) each sent letters of diplomatic courtesy to the U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan, requesting assistance for members of the radical group Global Exchange and the antiwar group Palisadians for Peace.

This also: It's time for Sen. Barbara Boxer to come clean on her mortgage loans
Excerpt: Public records show that Sen. Barbara Boxer, chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Ethics, needs a training class on conflicts-of-interest. Deeds of trust compiled by Leslie Merritt and Frank Perry of the Foundation for Ethics in Public Service show that the California Democrat and her husband, Stewart, held seven mortgages with Countrywide, the company which gave VIP mortgage discounts to influential customers, including Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-CT, and Sen. Kent Conrad, D-ND. Senate rules prohibit members from accepting deals not available to other borrowers. The loans and properties associated with them are not listed on her personal financial disclosure forms because she deemed them non-income generating, the type exempted from public airing. Countrywide was once one of the biggest home lenders before the housing collapse, so it is not surprising for the couple to have financed home purchases through the company. But it should raise red flags that she investigated two colleagues for receiving preferential treatment from Countrywide without first disclosing the full terms of her loans, which greatly outnumbered those of the people whose conduct was scrutinized.

Worth reading: Republicans Need To Man Up and Ask Black Voters, 'Are You Better Off?',_are_you_better_off
Excerpt: The monolithic pro-Democratic black vote is a clear and present danger to America. As recently as 1956, the GOP captured 39 percent of the black vote. If Republicans can seize just 20 or 30 percent of the black vote, the Democratic Party -- and its ability to pull the country to the left -- could be stopped, if not reversed. "The 'black vote'?" I said to a white Republican politician who asked my advice. "I'll tell you how to go after it, but you won't do it." "Try me," he said. Politicians, both Democrats and Republicans, treat blacks like children. When a Republican addresses a black audience, you can make book on how long it takes before he refers to Martin Luther King Jr. Either he marched with King or his father did, or the next-door neighbor of his barber's nephew used to mow the Rev. King's father's lawn. As long as the black vote is a referendum on empathy, compassion and "civil rights," Republicans lose. Nobody can "feel your pain" like a spread-the-wealth, entitlement-expanding, "close-the-inequality-gap" leftist. "The struggle for civil rights is over," I told him. "The good guys won. The battle now is against wrongheaded 'compassionate' policies. But the most important issue -- by far -- is education." Republicans need to ask blacks, "Are you better off?" Are blacks better off sending their children to assigned government schools -- as demanded by the teachers unions and the Democratic Party? Inner-city parents know that urban government-run schools have a nearly 50 percent dropout rate and that even the kids who graduate often cannot read, write or compute at grade level. They know that poor teachers end up getting transferred to urban schools, where other parents are less likely to object to their incompetence. This is known as the "dance of the lemons." Urban government-run schools are often violent. But because the school funding is based on average daily attendance, principals are reluctant to kick out bad, disruptive kids. Bad, disruptive kids help make bad schools. Urban parents want choice. They want the right to send their kids to schools where they have a better chance of success. In California, a statewide referendum on vouchers failed, but it passed among black and Hispanic inner-city voters. Teachers unions, whose political contributions go almost entirely to the Democratic Party, vehemently oppose vouchers. Yet teachers are more likely than non-teachers to send their own children to private schools.

Is America In Decline?
Excerpt: Does anyone really want to hear that America is in decline? For decades, most of us have been raised to believe that the United States is "number one" and that anyone who doubts that fact is a "gloom and doomer" that should just pack up and move to "Russia" or "Iraq" or some other country where things are not nearly as good. But does it do us or future generations any good to ignore the very serious signs of trouble that are erupting all around us? The truth is that it is about time to wake up and admit how much trouble we are actually in. The U.S. government is absolutely drowning in debt. The entire society is absolutely drowning in debt. We are being slaughtered in the arena of world trade, and every single month tens of billions of dollars (along with large numbers of factories and jobs) leave our shores for good. Our infrastructure is failing, our kids are less educated and our incomes are going down. We have serious, serious problems. At one time, the U.S. economy was so dominant that it was not even worth talking about who was in second place. That is no longer the case in 2010. Our forefathers handed us the greatest economic machine in history and we have allowed it to fall apart right in front of our eyes. A national economic crisis of historic proportions is getting worse with each passing month, and yet most of our leaders seem to be asleep at the switch. So is American in decline? Well, read the statistics below and decide for yourself. The reality is that when you start connecting the dots it gets really hard to deny what is going on.

As ad wars heat up, Republicans eye China as their secret weapon
As polls show their party poised to make big gains this fall, National Republicans believe that a new round of attack ads arguing that the $814 billion economic stimulus created jobs in China will be a potent closing argument against Democratic incumbents. New China-themed spots funded by the National Republican Congressional Committee are running against a slew of House Democrats including Reps. Zack Space (Ohio), Chris Carney (Pa.), Baron Hill (Ind.), Glenn Nye (Va.), Mike McIntyre (N.C.), Kathy Dahlkemper (Pa.), Steve Kagen (Wis.), Mark Schauer (Mich.), Tim Walz (Minn.) and Phil Hare (Ill.). An ad running against Space is typical of the messaging coming out of national Republicans. The commercial charges that the stimulus "created renewable energy jobs in China" and "created mountains of new debt back here." "Zack Space: Staggering debt here, sending jobs to China. Who's he working for?" the narrator of the ad asks. Some of the spots tauntingly ask whether the member in question is running for Congress in his or her home district or in China. "Is Baron Hill running for Congress in Indiana -- or China?" asks the narrator of the new NRCC ad against Hill. The ad goes on to hit Hill for supporting "the $800 billion stimulus package that created renewable energy jobs in China" and charges that Hill's "big-spending programs will force us to keep borrowing money from -- you guessed it -- China." The new line of attack is based on reports earlier this year that some federal stimulus dollars went to foreign manufacturers for the construction of American wind-energy projects. Those reports led to criticism of the program from Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and other Democratic senators. The Obama administration strongly disputed the reports, saying that the majority of jobs created by the stimulus spending were in the United States.

New Post-Kaiser-Harvard poll highlights Democrats' problem with senior voters
Excerpt: Among seniors who say they are very interested in the upcoming election, 51 percent prefer to see Republicans in control of the next Congress while 40 percent say they want Democrats in charge. Among all other seniors, it's about the reverse: 51 percent say they want Democrats to control Congress and 37 percent say Republicans. The findings come from a major survey conducted by The Washington Post, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard University. The survey measured attitudes about the federal government and included some questions about the upcoming elections.

Ron Paul ad
Funny. Wants money to pay for it, of course.

Ad of the day: Dem ad depicts San Francisco as full of hippies
But ask him if the choice for Speaker is between Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner, who will he vote for? ~Bob. Excerpt: Rep. Jim Marshall (D-Ga.) has added to a growing list of ads that attempt to distance Democrats from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi even as Republicans and third-party conservative groups work diligently to tie Democrats to her.

Tim Pawlenty collects cash in advance of 2012 race
Excerpt: Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) raised almost $800,000 into his federal political action committee and two state-based organizations over the past three months, the latest in a series of increasingly obvious signs of his presidential ambitions. The vast majority of Pawlenty's fundraising between July 1 and September 30 -- $565,000 -- came via his Freedom First federal PAC. The governor also brought in $135,000 for his Iowa-based state PAC and another $86,000 for a similar state PAC in New Hampshire. For the year, Pawlenty has raked in better than $1.8 million through Freedom First, a solid total although he does trail the cash collection operation of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin ($2.5 million raised through Sept. 30) and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney ($3.6 million raised through the end of August) -- both of whom are considering presidential bids of their own. (Pawlenty allies argue that his third quarter fundraising totals are even stronger than they might appear at first glance because he spent a week in Iraq and Afghanistan and also led a week-long trade mission to China during the period.)

Dick Morris’s Blog
Morris is the former Clinton political advisor who is now a staunch Republican. I think he tends to be too optimistic about Republican chances. Nevertheless, some interesting things on his blog. Scroll down to his list of the seven neediest Republican candidates who have shots at upsets.

Democrats have edge on question of extending Bush tax cuts
Class warfare works because of the economic ignorance of most voters. I’m not in the $250k income category and unless the lotto numbers lady gets a lot better, will never be. But if you take money from “The Rich,” they can’t put it in the bank to be leant for houses and cars, they can’t invest it in companies that create jobs. They can’t spend it on stuff creating jobs for people who make stuff, like home builders. ~Bob. Excerpt: Voters in 10 battleground congressional districts strongly back a plan to extend the George W. Bush-era tax cuts only for families earning less than $250,000 a year, according to The Hill 2010 Midterm Election poll. The survey of likely voters in 10 states found rare bipartisan support for the position of President Obama and Democratic Party leaders, who oppose extending the tax cuts for the top income brackets. But the poll also exposed a deep partisan divide on the surface of the tax-cut debate: While a clear majority of voters, 54 percent, backed extending the Bush tax cuts without qualifications, the support broke along party lines, with Republicans overwhelmingly in favor and Democrats strongly opposed. Sixty-three percent of respondents said they backed an extension of the tax cuts only for income brackets below the $250,000 mark, more than twice the percentage of people who said they were opposed. The support for continuing the so-called middle-class tax cuts was consistent among Democrats (65 percent), Republicans (64 percent) and independents (63 percent).

Health law's fate tied to state races
Excerpt: Republicans have made opposition to the Democrats’ health care overhaul a central theme in their push to take back Congress. But the fate of the law may actually depend more on the outcome of dozens of state-level races across the country. While congressional Republicans won’t be able to repeal health care reform with Barack Obama in the White House, Republican governors and their appointees have the power to throw major roadblocks in the way of reform plans. Governors who oppose the legislation can refuse to set up pieces of the law, such as the state-based insurance exchanges where most Americans will purchase coverage beginning in 2014. In many cases, they also can appoint insurance commissioners and Medicaid directors with directives to refuse to participate in implementing the law or the federal funding associated with it.

A Visa for Job Creators: Spurning immigrant entrepreneurs makes no economic sense.
Excerpt: The immigration debate has devolved into a shouting match over allegations of "amnesty" and anti-Hispanic bias, but cooler heads need to keep in mind the economic benefits of attracting human capital to America. Consider the barriers we now put on immigrant entrepreneurs. Start-ups are responsible for most net new jobs in the U.S., and immigrants are almost 30% more likely than non-immigrants to start a business. None of this is news to economists, writes Stuart Anderson of the National Foundation for America Policy in a new paper, but a focus on start-ups "is largely non-existent in the current policy debate over jobs and the economy, most of which centers on how to encourage existing firms to hire more employees." The U.S. created an immigrant investor visa category (EB-5) in 1990, but steep minimum capital requirements put it out of reach for most potential recipients. The average start-up company in the U.S. begins with about $31,000. Yet to become eligible for an EB-5 visa, an individual must invest at least $500,000. It's no wonder that fewer than 3,700 people received EB-5 visas last year—including spouses and children—and most of them went to immigrant investors looking to expand existing U.S. ventures, not create new businesses. Senators John Kerry of Massachusetts and Richard Lugar of Indiana have introduced legislation that would award a conditional green card to immigrant entrepreneurs who receive at least $250,000 from a U.S. venture capitalist. The immigrant would receive permanent residence status if the enterprise employed at least five workers or reached $1 million in revenue within a year. This would improve the status quo, but the capital requirements would still remain needlessly high. In retail and manufacturing, for example, start-up costs average $98,000 and $175,000, respectively.

Tyranny of the unelected
Excerpt: Congress passed and the president signed 125 bills into law in 2009. Your tireless federal regulatory agencies were even busier: They issued 3,503 rules and regulations. Regulations considered in recent years have included energy-efficiency standards for clothes washers and pool heaters, SUV emission rules and the Consumer Product Safety Commission's designs to regulate escalators (safer than unregulated stair steps, by the way) as a "consumer product." The year's Federal Register - the daily depository of federal regulations - already tops 61,000 pages. According to research conducted for the Small Business Administration by economists Nicole V. and W. Mark Crain, annual off-budget regulatory costs exceed $1.7 trillion, an amount equivalent to more than half the level of the federal budget itself and on a par with the stratospheric annual deficit. So much for the constitutional injunction, "All legislative Powers ... shall be vested in a Congress of the United States."

BBC told to ensure balance on climate change
Excerpt: The BBC has been repeatedly accused of bias in its reporting of climate change issues. Last year one of its reporters, Paul Hudson, was criticised for not reporting on some of the highly controversial “Climategate” leaked emails from the University of East Anglia, even though he had been in possession of them for some time. Climate change sceptics have also accused the BBC of not properly reporting “Glaciergate”, when a study from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) saying that glaciers would melt by 2035 was discredited. But the BBC’s new editorial guidelines, published yesterday after an extensive consultation that considered over 1,600 submissions by members of the public, say expressly for the first time that scientific issues fall within the corporation’s obligation to be impartial. “The BBC must be inclusive, consider the broad perspective, and ensure that the existence of a range of views is appropriately reflected,” said BBC trustee Alison Hastings. (The BBC? Impartial? Can they take the shock? ~Bob.)

Survey: Tea Partiers nationwide rank Marco Rubio as favorite candidate
Excerpt: Tea Party voters nationwide say that Florida GOP Senate nominee Marco Rubio is their favorite candidate this election cycle, according to a survey released today of 118 Tea Party activists. Delaware U.S. Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell received the lowest satisfaction score from the Tea Party activists when asked to rate this year’s Tea Party candidates. The Sam Adams Alliance study, which examined the relationship between Tea Party activists and traditional conservative “establishment” organizations, shows that Utah’s Mike Lee is the most satisfying Tea Party candidate this year for establishment conservatives. O’Donnell also was also ranked the lowest among these establishment voters. (O’Donnell was Harry Reid’s preferred GOP candidate in Delaware. As Sharon Angle was in Nevada. Should tell us something. ~Bob.)

Heritage Foundation: We’re with the Tea Partiers
Excerpt: The Heritage Foundation think-tank has made it clear: they may be an established conservative organization, but they’re with the Tea Party activists who’ve risen up to protest Washington’s old ways. The organization’s president, Ed Feulner, along with Tea Party-favorite South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, penned a column in Politico titled, “The Tea Party Is the Conscience of the Nation,” to make the case that the Tea Party movement is here to stay. “The tea party isn’t about to go away after the November elections,” Feulner and DeMint write. “Its powerful message of limited government is likely to remain a sharp thorn in the side of those in both parties who want to continue politics as usual.” In an election year where Republican primaries have often been between the GOP establishment candidates and grassroots favorites often supported by DeMint, Feulner appears to be aligning Heritage with the DeMint wing. (Despite claims on my blog by both Tea Party supporters and opponents, I’ve never been to a rally—I have a job and the blog takes most of my free time—and I’ve never joined a Tea Party group. What little disposable income I have I’d rather send to candidates like Allen west and Joel Pollak. I think the Tea Party has done a lot of good for conservative causes—the vilification, venom and hatred from the left are a testimonial. I think they have also helped the leftist cause by supporting and getting nominated candidate that it will be hard to elect in Nevada, Delaware and Kentucky, probably else where. Either of the other Republicans would now be up ten points over Harry Reid. RINO Mike Castle would likely have won in Delaware, but the Tea Party preferred to help the former Marxist who will likely now be elected, by giving him O’Donnell. ~Bob.)

Clean energy goes to pot
Doesn’t smoking pot release carbon into the air? ~Bob. Excerpt: The task to price carbon and make the transition to a low-carbon economy looks complicated enough in Australia, but in the US is has gotten more so – the future of the country’s clean energy industry may now lie in the hands of California’s pot smokers. The clean energy industry is being challenged by Proposition 23, a referendum put forward by two Texan oil refiners that seeks to overturn the state’s climate change and clean energy act, and effectively end clean energy investment, in the most progressive state in the US – and by extension the rest of the country. Public opinion polls suggest the proposition will get defeated, but in America such polls are deceiving because they don’t take into account whether those people will actually turn out to vote. The Tea Party phenomenon, and its ability to motivate people to turn out at the polls, has the clean energy industry worried, and it may be that their best chance of winning the day lies in Proposition 19, a motion to legalise marijuana, and its ability to mobilise voters who may also support clean energy investments. “There is a lot at stake in this vote,” said Odin Knudsen, the managing director of environmental products at JP Morgan and the former head of the World Bank Carbon Finance Business. “There is a black cloud coming down on the clean energy sector in the US. It has frozen investment."

Dammed if you do, dammed if you don’t
Excerpt: ...I laughed out loud when I saw the latest numbers on the CDM. The CDM is the “Clean Development Mechanism” of the Kyoto Protocol. The CDM is the foundation of the carbon emission credit system in use in Europe. Companies which emit more CO2 than the regulations allow can purchase credits. The companies pay the money to sponsor an emissions-reducing project in a developing country, so in theory everything balances out. There’s a New York Times article on the CDM here. This is the part that I found to be hilarious (emphasis mine): Since it began operating in 2006, the board has validated 2,918 projects, 40 percent of them in China, according to the U.N. Environment Program’s database at the Risoe Center, in Denmark, which tracks every project in the C.D.M. pipeline. The center’s data show that 1,668 projects are in hydroelectric power and 1,060 of those are in China. So the effect of the Kyoto Protocol is that it is OK for the West to burn fossil fuels, as long as the West is also subsidizing hydroelectric dam construction in China …

The stump’s getting crowded as national figures flock to boost California candidates
Excerpt: Former President Bill Clinton and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will try to exert their influence on California’s political races this week, the latest in a long list of luminaries to lavish attention on the state as the Nov. 2 election nears. The onslaught of top draws from both sides of the political aisle benefits both the candidates receiving the help and the celebrities offering it. The interest is prompted by several factors, chief among them the fact that the gubernatorial and Senate contests in blue-leaning California are so tight this close to election day. “The stakes are even higher than normal,” said Jack Pitney, a government professor at Claremont McKenna College and former national GOP official. “It’s an unusual amount of attention. These elections are more competitive than we’ve seen in a long time.”

Quote from a reader on the mine rescue in Chile
Of all the world’s leaders thanked by the President of Chile for their help and cooperation in rescuing the miners, O was NOT mentioned. There were folks from the U.S. that helped and apparently NASA did, but a concerted extension of care from the federal government did not occur. Even Israel and Britain were thanked…. And billions watched and heard. So much for the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize last year, eh? --Barb

John Dingell’s death grip on power
Excerpt: If your family has held onto a congressional seat for over 75 years, if you were first elected when a veteran of the Civil War was still alive, if you are the longest serving member of the House of Representatives in history, one might say your power is pretty well entrenched. But for Rep. John Dingell, 84, that death grip on power may be slipping. In a recent poll, Dingell was down four points to his Republican challenger Rob Steele, a doctor who has never run for political office before. Steele said his patients often tell him they think it’s time Dingell retire after a (very) long, good run. But even as Dingell’s grip loosens, as he starts to let go, the remnants of his decades (and decades)-long rule are still evident in Michigan’s 15th. One incident earlier this year is illustrative. When the local Chamber of Commerce scheduled Steele to deliver a speech on Obamacare, the event was nearly canceled for fear of Dingell’s wrath.

A historic shift in the making this election?
Excerpt: Voters seem to think Congress is like a weedy lot -- that anything done to it will improve it -- so they seem poised to produce something not seen since 1981-82. Then, for the first time since 1952, a majority of senators were in their first terms. This was the result of three consecutive churning elections -- 1976, 1978 and 1980. There certainly will be new senators from 14 states: Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah and West Virginia. Furthermore, Alaska's incumbent, Lisa Murkowski, whom the American Conservative Union ranks as the fourth-most liberal Senate Republican and who already has been rejected by Republicans in the primary, may lose her sore-loser write-in candidacy. Democratic incumbent Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas is behind by 20 points in the RealClearPolitics average of polls. Democratic incumbent Russ Feingold of Wisconsin is behind by an average of 6.7 points. And Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet of Colorado, appointed to the seat vacated when Ken Salazar became secretary of the interior, trails by a RealClearPolitics average of three points. So there could be at least 18 freshmen senators in January. And several other incumbents -- all Democrats -- could lose. Since popular election of senators became mandatory in 1913, the largest crop of freshmen, 20, resulted from the 1978 upheaval that presaged the 18 new senators produced by the 1980 election.

Deficits and Depression
Excerpt: We will learn in November just how angry the public is about a lot of things, from higher taxes to massive unemployment. But the popular uproar over those issues pales in comparison with the sense of humiliation over the fact that we Americans are quite broke. In 2008, the public was furious at George W. Bush, not because he was too much of a right-wing tightwad, but because he ran up a series of what were then thought to be gargantuan deficits. The result was that under a supposedly conservative administration, and despite six years of an allegedly small-government Republican Congress, the national debt nearly doubled, from $3.3 trillion to $6.3 trillion, in just eight years.

Captive Clients Determine the Success of Energy Initiatives
Excerpt: Something went terribly wrong with wind power. Preached to us all as a solution to climate change, it fell apart in one year. Some have blamed it all on the recession, ignoring the fact that other renewable energy sources and energy efficiency strategies have continued to grow. I say it’s the business model. Wind power companies sell either to utilities or governments. There is insufficient pressure on them to lower costs–and indeed, during wind power’s moment of glory last year, prices went up 9%. Wind power companies are almost all divisions of large conglomerates, such as GE, or energy distributors such as utilities themselves. Wind power for some providers seems like a vanity entry into a PR sweepstakes–but there is no scope for reducing margins or searching frantically for innovative cost reductions. And so their moment has passed, maybe permanently. While wind power tried to dictate terms to their captive clients (too often successfully), the cost of solar power and natural gas continued to fall, to the point where nobody could make a straight-faced case for wind as a competitive technology, and certainly not the offshore wind farms that are the new rage.

What Is Driving Christians Out of the Middle East?
Excerpt: Christians are fleeing the birthplace of Christianity in the Middle East, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict may be to blame, according to regional bishops summoned to the Vatican this week to reverse the troubling trend. Melkite Patriarch Gregory III of Damascus, Syria, said at the gathering that Christian emigration is "among the most dangerous effects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." (So its the Jews' fault that Moslem extremists are driving Christians out of the Middle East? –PM. Who else? But there will always be an excuse for Muslims to drive out or kill the infidel. The Qur’an tells Muslims that non-believers must be converted, forced to live as subject people with second class status (dhimmis) or killed. ~Bob.)

Allen West clearly wins Sun-Sentinel debate at Lynn University
Excerpt: Allen West and Incumbent Ron Klein, candidates for Florida's Congressional district 22, participated in a debate yesterday afternoon at Lynn University in Boca Raton. With questions ranging from the economy and taxes, to foreign policy and immigration, the 90 minute debate resulted with Allen West as the clear winner. "The Federal government must set the conditions for success, not engineer outcomes." said LTC(R) Allen West, when discussing how to improve our economy. "All we heard today from Klein were incoherent arguments about why people shouldn't vote for Allen instead of why people should vote for him," said West's Campaign Manager, Josh Grodin. "Colonel West clearly and effectively showed South Floridians why their Congressman has failed us all, and how he, once elected, plans to turn our economy around." "If it wasn't apparent who the true leader and man of character was before the debate, it couldn't be more clear now," said audience member, Maureen Perry.

From a Blog Reader and Marine vet
The other day I was in a grocery store waiting in line to make my purchase. Up ahead, a lady checking out (a lady, I might add, somewhat on the heavy side of the scale) kept getting interrupted by her active Blackberry while trying to conduct her transaction—a transaction that involved the use of food stamps. A couple of comments here are in order…. I am not an advocate of remote electronic devices. In the first place, they are very expensive. Secondly, they are disruptive. I personally find them to be rude distracting devices that divert the human-to-human touch, especially when in the process of transacting government business (food stamp transactions)! Secondly, how can a person who qualifies for food stamps afford a Blackberry—and the account that goes with it? Is that considered a necessity? What about cable TV? So much for the “dinosaur” perspective…..Greg.

Rahm Emanuel's Class of 2006 in jeopardy
Excerpt: A bleary-eyed Emanuel, still in Congress and two years from being named Barack Obama’s chief of staff, described himself at a news conference as “one kid from Chicago who thinks he knows a little something about machine politics.” He praised the new breed of Democratic politicians who — thanks in most cases to disciplined campaign styles and moderate ideological profiles — had “expanded the field” into dozens of districts in the Northeast, the Upper South, the Ohio River Valley and the Rocky Mountain West, all previously claimed by the GOP. Four years later, Emanuel has just left Washington. And the odds, it seems, are that many of his star recruits of 2006 are about to do the same. Understanding the peril facing the Class of ’06 is essential to understanding why the most-informed Democrats — Emanuel among them — have been dreading the Nov. 2 election for the past year as they have seemed mostly powerless to counteract the year’s hostile trends. That is because a cornerstone of the Republican effort to retake the House is reversing Emanuel’s triumph of four years ago.

Syria, Hezbollah and Iran: An Alliance in Flux
Excerpt: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived in Beirut on Oct. 13 for his first official visit to Lebanon since becoming president in 2005. He is reportedly returning to the country after a stint there in the 1980s as a young Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) officer tasked with training Hezbollah in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. A great deal of controversy is surrounding his return. Rumors are spreading of Sunni militants attempting to mar the visit by provoking Iran’s allies in Hezbollah into a fight (already the car of a pro-Hezbollah imam who has been defending Ahmadinejad has been blown up), while elaborate security preparations are being made for Ahmadinejad to visit Lebanon’s heavily militarized border with Israel. Rather than getting caught up in the drama surrounding the Iranian president’s visit, we want to take the opportunity provided by all the media coverage to probe into a deeper topic, one that has been occupying the minds of Iranian, Syrian and Hezbollah officials for some time. This topic is the durability of the Iran-Hezbollah-Syria alliance, which STRATFOR believes has been under great stress in recent months. More precisely, the question is: What are Syria’s current intentions toward Hezbollah?

Congressman Charlie Wilson Is A Wife Beater
Another one we have to help Nancy get out of the swamp. ~Bob. Excerpt: Good job by Mike Flynn and Big Government uncovering this absolutely horrendous court filing detailing the abuse Congressman Charlie Wilson (D-OH) inflicted on his ex-wife — much of which he admitted to doing in a deposition. Clara Wilson went so far as to use the term “extreme cruelty” to describe what Charlie Wilson put her through. Wilson admitted in his deposition to grabbing his wife by the neck and shaking her. According to the court document, Wilson “slammed [his wife] into the refrigerator.” Wilson admitted in his deposition that early in his marriage he “kicked and struck” his wife and “accused her of adultery.”

Tolerance and Diversity: Teaching Girls That Misogyny And Beatings Are An Honor
Excerpt: “Allah honored wives by instating the punishment of beatings.” So said Cleric Sa’d Arafat earlier this year. Last month, a Wellesley, Massachusetts public school took a trip to a mosque, where the school children were taught to pray to that same Allah. The result is stunning: an unabashed exercise in Islamic dawa, the “call to Islam” and the manner by which the Brotherhood’s spiritual guide, Yusuf Qaradawi, promises that Islam will “conquer America” and “conquer Europe.” Qaradawi — wonder of wonders — is a trustee of the Roxbury mosque (although he is banned from the U.S. for sanctioning terrorism). As the video relates, “Dawa Net,” one Islamic organization that instructs on how to use the schools to inculcate the young, explains that public schools in America are “fertile grounds where the seeds of Islam can be sowed inside the hearts of non-Muslim students.” Well, except for the icky girls. Cooties, and all. They were not allowed to take part in the “tolerance” indoctrination. Have to teach these girls how to show respect! And teach them a little about the benefits of misogynistic subjugation in the Muslim world, right? See, they were shockingly told – as they were shuttled off to an area away from males – that Islam is “pro-women” and “Islam was actually very advanced in terms of recognizing women’s rights.”

Sudanese Cardinal Survives Assassination Attempt
Didn’t get the “Islam is a Religion of Peace” memo. ~Bob. Excerpt: The archbishop of Khartoum escaped unhurt from an assassination attempt that was directed at him on Sunday, the feast of St. Daniele Comboni. The Catholic Information Service for Africa (CISA) reported today that during a Mass held at the Comboni playground in Khartoum, marking the anniversary of the 1881 death of St. Daniele Comboni, a man with a dagger posed as liturgical dancer and managed to come within a few steps of Archbishop Gabriel Cardinal Zubeir Wako. The man was apprehended, and has been identified as Hamdan Mohamed Abdurrahman, an Arab of the nomadic Messiria tribe from Southern Kurdufan. He is in police custody as authorities determine his intentions and whether or not he was acting alone.

Where was the 'Where's Muhammad?' cartoon?
Excerpt: "Non Sequitur" is a popular comic that runs daily in about 800 newspapers, including this one. But the "Non Sequitur" cartoon that appeared in last Sunday's Post was not the one creator Wiley Miller drew for that day. Editors at The Post and many other papers pulled the cartoon and replaced it with one that had appeared previously. They were concerned it might offend and provoke some Post readers, especially Muslims. Miller is known for social satire. But at first glance, the single-panel cartoon he drew for last Sunday seems benign. It is a bucolic scene imitating the best-selling children's book "Where's Waldo?" A grassy park is jammed with activity. Animals frolic. Children buy ice cream. Adults stroll and sunbathe. A caption reads: "Where's Muhammad?" Miller's cartoon is clearly a satirical reference to the global furor that ensued in 2006 after a Danish newspaper invited cartoonists to draw the prophet Muhammad as they see him. After the cartoons were published, Muslims in many countries demonstrated against what they viewed as the lampooning of Islam's holiest figure. Miller's Sunday drawing also keyed on "Everybody Draw Muhammad Day!," a free-speech protest this year by cartoonists responding to what was widely interpreted as a death threat from an Islamic cleric against two animators who depicted Muhammad wearing a bear suit in an episode of the "South Park" television show. If enough cartoonists drew Muhammad, protest organizers reasoned, it would be impractical to threaten all of them. What is clever about last Sunday's "Where's Muhammad?" comic is that the prophet does not appear in it.

The Celebration of Class Warfare
Excerpt: On arriving at the site the first thing I did was try to estimate the crowd size, which I’ve become pretty adept at. This particular case, however, was unusually difficult because of the nonstop flow of people leaving the event early. At any given time, however, I estimated that the density of the crowd ranged from one-fifth to one-tenth that of the Restoring Honor gathering. At the Beck rally it was strictly shoulder-to-shoulder, virtually impossible to walk in most places. That crowd was no less than 500,000 — and perhaps as high as 750,000. But one of the many differences with the 8/28 event was that virtually everyone stayed until the rally was officially over. They were there by choice. To be as fair as possible, I generously factored in the large number of people who had departed two hours or more before I arrived at the One Nation rally and came up with a crowd estimate of between 75,000 to 150,000 — far more than the 30,000 to 50,000 I had guessed might show up. Clearly, I had underestimated the power of union bosses handing down mandates to their rank and file to attend. But to me the crowd size didn’t really matter, because they were two totally different events. Beck is just one individual — a radio and television personality — who produced a rally (primarily using his own money) with a theme of restoring honor to America and to honor fallen U.S. soldiers. By contrast, the 10/2 event was a political rally sponsored by a wide array of well-funded, far-left organizations. The big question is not who had the largest crowd; that wasn’t even close. The more important question is why rally organizers like Al Sharpton would be so focused on trying to show the public they could outdraw a media personality. To the crowd’s credit, though the signs and rhetoric were brazenly anti-freedom and anti-free market, people were generally well behaved, though clearly lacking in enthusiasm. To their discredit, however, trash was everywhere, which I have found to be a trademark of those on the left — especially the environmental crowd. Again, by contrast, it was hard to find any trash on the ground at Beck’s 8/28 event. There are many conjectures I could draw from this observation, but due to space limitations, I’ll leave that psychological endeavor up to you. Tabloid-size "newspapers" were all over the place. One was called The Militant, which featured the headline: "Public education is a birth right, not a corporate profit. Another one, Challenge: The Revolutionary Communist Newspaper of Progressive Labor Party, sported a logo that read "Fight for Communism." Mind you, this was a rally called "One Nation Working Together" — in the capital city of the United States of America. Then there were the signs:

Not a massacre but a mistake: New evidence indicates source of gunshots that triggered shootings
Excerpt: In this May 4, 1970 file photo, Mary Ann Vecchio gestures and screams as she kneels by the body of a student lying face down on the campus of Kent State University, Kent, Ohio. Vecchio reunited on the Kent State campus with John Filo, the man who took the photo, on Monday, May 4, 2009. It was the first time the two were together since May 4, 1970, the day a Vietnam War protest ended with National Guard shootings that left four dead. High-tech forensic audio analysis last week of a recently discovered audiotape of the May 4, 1970, anti-Vietnam War protest at Kent State University may shed new light on the genesis of the tragedy that shut down colleges and universities across America. During a campus confrontation, Ohio National Guardsmen fired into rock-throwing student protesters, killing four - two of them mere passers-by - and wounding nine others. The incident is of more than historical interest because the "Kent State massacre" played a major role in undermining U.S. support for the Indochina war and thus facilitated a far greater human tragedy. The audiotape reveals that shortly before the guardsmen began firing, protesters may have surrounded and threatened the life of a young man named Terry Norman (a Kent State student, like many of the guardsmen) who was taking photographs for law enforcement agencies. According to Friday's Cleveland Plain Dealer, the tape captured the command "Retreat!" As the guardsmen moved back up Blanket Hill, pursued by rock-throwing protesters, photographer Norman was left behind - apparently too busy taking pictures to realize the guardsmen were pulling back - and quickly was in the midst of angry protesters. The tape captures one voice saying: "They got somebody," and a few seconds later, male voices shout: "Kill him!" Kill him!" There is then the sound of a .38 caliber revolver shot, followed by a female voice: "Whack that [expletive]!" Three more handgun shots ring out at about five-second intervals, and soon thereafter - in just 13 tragic seconds - 29 of the 77 guardsmen fire a total of 67 rifle shots that are to help seal the fate of the non-communist people of Indochina. Mr. Norman later admitted carrying a .38 Special revolver because his life had been threatened repeatedly during earlier protests, and a TV reporter at the scene stated he saw Mr. Norman hand the weapon to a police officer and say, "I was afraid they were going to kill me, so I took out my revolver, and I fired it into the air and into the ground." The tape doesn't have all of the answers. But the Ohio National Guard adjutant general later alleged there had been "sniper fire" at the guardsmen, and many of the guardsmen later testified they had been in fear for their lives.

Rape 'impossible' in marriage, says Muslim cleric
Imagine the media reaction if a Christian minister in the US said this publicly~ ~Bob. Excerpt: A senior Muslim cleric who runs the country's largest network of sharia courts has sparked controversy by claiming that there is no such thing as rape within marriage. Sheikh Maulana Abu Sayeed, president of the Islamic Sharia Council in Britain, said that men who rape their wives should not be prosecuted because "sex is part of marriage". And he claimed that many married women who alleged rape were lying. (Men, their rights and nothing more; women, their rights and nothing less. -- Susan B. Anthony)

Letter From France: Hamburger chain's decision sparks tensions over Islam
And non-Muslims must cater, the kuffer scum. ~Bob. Excerpt: Sami Desadjri, an observant French Muslim, used to have a problem when he and his high school classmates hit the local burger joint for lunch. Since the meat was not halal, or slaughtered according to Islamic guidelines, he was forced to fall back on fish sandwiches, assaulting his adolescent taste buds and splitting him from the clique. But those awkward times are over. In a telling measure of the growing Muslim presence in France, Quick, a homegrown hamburger chain trying to compete with McDonald's, began serving halal hamburgers last month in 22 of its 367 restaurants, including the busy establishment frequented by Desadjri and his friends in this heavily Muslim suburb just north of Paris.

Florida judge: Fight against insurance mandate can proceed
Excerpt: A federal judge in Florida on Thursday ruled that challenges to the healthcare reform law's individual mandate and its Medicaid expansion can proceed. The widely expected ruling does not mean that Florida Northern District Senior Judge Roger Vinson agrees that the law is unconstitutional, only that the arguments against it can't be dismissed out of hand as the Obama administration had requested. Vinson threw out four other counts having to do with taxation and requiring states to enforce the law. Attorney General Bill McCollum's lawsuit, filed the same day that President Obama signed health reform into law, is the main legal challenge. Challengers include 21 states and the National Federation of Independent Business.

Gallup: 46 Percent Say U.S. Government 'Poses Immediate Threat to the Rights and Freedoms' of U.S. Citizens
The other 54% work for the government, are trail lawyers or lobbyists, or are on the dole. ~Bob. Excerpt: The percentage of Americans who think the federal government poses “an immediate threat” to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens has increased significantly over the last seven years, rising from 30 percent to 46 percent, according to a Gallup poll conducted Sept. 13-16 and released today. Only 51 percent of Americans now say they do not think the federal government poses “an immediate threat” to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens. Similarly, the percentage of Americans who think the federal government has too much power has also significantly increased, from 39 percent in 2002 to 59 percent today.

Dozens Charged with Largest Medicare Scam Ever
Excerpt: A vast network of Armenian gangsters and their associates used phantom health care clinics and other means to try to cheat Medicare out of $163 million, the largest fraud by one criminal enterprise in the program's history, U.S. authorities said Wednesday. Federal prosecutors in New York and elsewhere charged 73 people. Most of the defendants were captured during raids Wednesday morning in New York City and Los Angeles, but there also were arrests in New Mexico, Georgia and Ohio. The scheme's scope and sophistication "puts the traditional Mafia to shame," U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said at a Manhattan news conference. "They ran a veritable fraud franchise." Unlike other cases involving crooked medical clinics bribing people to sign up for unneeded treatments, the operation was "completely notional," Janice Fedarcyk, head of the FBI's New York office, said in a statement. "The whole doctor-patient interaction was a mirage." The operation was under the protection of an Armenian crime boss, known in the former Soviet Union as a "vor," prosecutors said. The reputed boss, Armen Kazarian, was in custody in Los Angeles.

POLL: Voters more likely to see Democrats as dominated by extremists
Excerpt: Likely voters in battleground districts see extremists as having a more dominant influence over the Democratic Party than they do over the GOP. This result comes from The Hill 2010 Midterm Election Poll, which found that 44 percent of likely voters say the Democratic Party is more dominated by its extreme elements, whereas 37 percent say it’s the Republican Party that is more dominated by extremists. The revelations in a survey of 10 toss-up congressional districts across the country point to problems for Democrats, who are trying to motivate a disillusioned base and appeal to independents moving to the GOP ahead of the Nov. 2 election.

Negotiations With Taliban Near Reality
Of course they are. Will say anything to get US & allies out of there. Then they can slaughter their opponents and stone girls. They will no more honor their commitments on a treaty than the North Vietnamese Communists did in 1975. ~Bob. Excerpt: The senior Afghan officials leading the country's new peace council said they believed the Taliban were ready for direct negotiations and reiterated an offer of safe passage for militant leaders willing to meet with representatives of the Afghan government inside or outside of the country. Former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani, who is heading a 70-member High Peace Council, told reporters in Kabul today that Afghan officials had already met with some members of the Taliban, though he declined to identify the militants or specify their positions within the armed group. Rabbani said that he believed the armed group was prepared to engage in face-to-face talks aimed at bringing a negotiated end to the nine-year-old war.

Is the GOP in the Closet About Backing Gay Rights?
Excerpt: "It is inherently a conservative principle to believe in individual liberties," said Jimmy LaSalvia, GOProud's executive director. "If you really hold a limited government philosophy then you believe the government should stay out of your personal life and allow you to do your job professionally" in the military and elsewhere. Said Alex Nicholson, executive director of the gay group Servicemembers United and the sole plaintiff in the case brought by the Log Cabin Republicans: "There's definitely a pro-equality segment of the Republican Party and the conservative movement that is underappreciated by most and unseen largely until big victories for them like this one." Most of the Republicans who have spoken out in favor of gay rights do not hold elected office. With a few exceptions such as Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, who speaks often about how a lesbian nurse cared for her husband after he was wounded in Vietnam, GOP lawmakers have minded the party's religiously conservative base and voted against expanding gay rights. (The most basic conservative principle I can think of is to mind my own business and to expect others to mind theirs. I'm not sure "government" even has a place in the discussion, other than in the case of the military. "Law" doesn't necessarily mean "justice;" many things must be balanced to see where "justice" rests. Military life IS different. There may be as many as 85-90 men in a squad bay (giant bedroom) on land, and racks (bunks) literally 12" above each other perhaps 8 or 9 layers high aboard troop ships. Heads (bathroom/toilet facilities) are wide open. Privacy is a priceless luxury that simply doesn't exist in many cases. Is it right to make anyone feel like a sex-object simply for walking to and from the bathroom? This is difficult enough to achieve with clearly cut opposite sexes; aside from on progressive TV shows, how often have you used a co-ed bathroom? Were you comfortable with all the passersby? And, in civilian life, there were barriers to block visibility that don't exist in military life due to lack of space. Take away the walls and doors in your mind; now, how comfortable would you be? Frankly, I'm glad I don't have sole responsibility to make this decision because there is no simple answer that achieves justice. Ron P. )

Amil Imani - What Is Islam?
Worth Reading. ~Bob. Excerpt: Below is a presentation of what this surrender to Islam entails and why it is imperative that all freedom-loving people arise and defeat the menace of Islamofascisim. Amendment I of the Bill of Rights enshrines some of the most cherished ideals of freedom-loving people: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. Islam considers itself the three branches of government. It enacts laws as it sees fit, adjudicates laws, and executes as it deems. Islam is anathema to the provisions of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and much more. Islam proclaims itself as the only legitimate religion for the entire world, grudgingly granting minor recognition to Judaism and Christianity from whom it has liberally plagiarized much of its dogma. Jews and Christians are allowed to live under the rule of Islam as “dhimmis” and must pay a special religious tax of jizya. Buddhists, Hindus, Zoroastrians, Baha’is, members of other religions, agnostics, or atheists are not even allowed to practice their belief or disbelief. Islam actively suppresses and even prohibits the practice of other religions, including those of the “people of the book,” Jews and Christians. There is not a single church or synagogue in the cradle of Islam, Saudi Arabia, while thousands of mosques dot the tolerating and welcoming non-Muslim lands. Islamic countries that allow for Jewish and Christian places of worship subject these “people of the book” to numerous subtle and not-so-subtle forms of persecution. Muslims in non-Muslim lands proselytize relentlessly and convert others while any Muslim who leaves Islam is judged as apostate and automatically condemned to death. Freedom of speech is just about non-existent in Islam. The word is Allah’s, his chosen divines such as Ayatollahs and Imams are the only ones who are to make pronouncements squarely based on Allah’s word, the Quran. Any expression that deviates in the least from the Quran, the Hadith or the edicts of Islamic high divines is heresy and severely punishable. Hence, stifling of free expression is the major mechanism by which the Islamic clergy retain power and prevent constructive change in Islamic societies. Freedom of the press is completely alien to Islam, since a free press tends to express matters as it sees it, rather than as it is stated in the Quran. To Islam, the Quran is the press and the only press. There is no need for critical reporting, no need to present ideas that may conflict with the Quran, and no place for criticism of anything Islamic. The stranglehold of Islam on the individual and society is complete. Peaceful assembly of the people is not allowed. The backward oppressive Islamic societies inflict great hardship on the citizenry and any assembly of the victims presents a threat to the suffocating rule. Islamic governments routinely prevent peaceful assemblies from taking place. Failing to do so, they unleash their hired thugs, the police and even the military against any assemblage no matter how peaceful and how legitimate is its grievance. The Islamic Republic of Iran which is vying with Saudi Arabia as the leader of true Islamic rule, routinely attacks any and all gatherings of its people, arrests them, imprisons them without due process, tortures them, and even executes them in secret dungeons. Journalists, academics, unionists, students, teachers, women rights groups who dare to petition the government for redress are labeled subversive and are severely punished. Maltreatment of religious minorities and the non-religious is criminal indeed. In the Islamic Republic of Iran, for instance, the government has launched a systematic program of genocide against its largest religious minority—the Baha’is. The government is gathering a comprehensive list of Baha’is, their occupations, locations, properties and the like—action reminiscent of the Nazis. The government is banning Baha’i students from post high-school education unless they recant their religion, deprives them of engaging in numerous forms of occupations and trades, denies them from holding worship gatherings, and razes their holy places and much more. The Islamic Republic of Iran is not satisfied with its cruel treatment of the living Baha’is and has launched a war on their dead by bulldozing Baha’i cemeteries in several cities. Thus is the rule of fundamental Islamism that is awaiting the complacent and snoozing world.

Sweet home, Chicago: Local reporters shield Rahm from embarrassing questions
Excerpt: Big Government has posted a fascinating video showing two local Chicago television reporters who took it upon themselves to protect former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel from questions about the stimulus and his decision to run for mayor of the Windy City. When WIND Radio host William Kelly asks Emanuel, “There are a lot of people that speculate that the stimulus was just a payback to your Wall Street friends that made you a multi, multi-millionaire?” and “Have you been able to straighten our your residency?” ABC7 political reporter Charles Thomas tells Kelly to “go away.” “Are you Rahm Emanuel’s press secretary?” Kelly retorts. “No, I’m a reporter, and that’s not…” “Really? Then why don’t you ask him about his residency? Does Rahm Emanuel have to play by the rules that everybody else has to play by?” Good point. Instead of asking Emanuel to answer the question, the reporters lobbed (it’s an insult to the sport to call it a softball) a powder puff at him instead: “What have you been hearing from Chicagoans?” Rahm’s reply: “Overall people want…a basic change in direction and a fresh beginning and a new start.” When Kelly interrupts to ask: “How are you a fresh beginning if you’re President Obama’s chief of staff?” CBS2 reporter Jay Levine screams at Kelly: “Let him finish or I’m gonna deck you!” This is why it’s called the lamestream media.

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