Thursday, March 31, 2011

Political Digest for March 31, 2011

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. Help your friends and relatives stay informed by passing the digest on.

For those who want further information about the topics covered in this blog, I recommend the following sites. I will add to this as I find additional good sources.

Bumper Sticker
“No Kinetic Military Action for Oil!”

Worth reading: Measuring Force by Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: It is the old liberal illusion that you can measure out force with a teaspoon, not only in military operations micro-managed by civilians in Washington, like the Vietnam war, but also in domestic confrontations when the police are trying to control a rioting mob, and are being restrained by politicians, while the mob is restrained by nobody. We went that route in the 1960s, and the results were not inspiring, either domestically or internationally. The old saying, "When you strike at a king, you must kill him," is especially apt when it comes to attacking a widely recognized sponsor of international terrorism like Colonel Qaddafi. To attack him without destroying his regime is just asking for increased terrorism against Americans and America's allies. So is replacing him with insurgents who include other sponsors of terrorism. President Obama's Monday night speech was long on rhetoric and short on logic. He said: "I believe that this movement of change cannot be turned back, and that we must stand alongside those who believe in the same core principles that have guided us." Just what would lead him to conclude that this includes the largely unknown forces who are trying to seize power in Libya?

Gaddafi’s forces push back rebels in key town; world leaders call for his ouster
If the “No Fly and Bomb the Hell out of Everything that moves” zone doesn’t topple Gaddafi (the war goal that dares not speak its name), and we have only created a bloody, long drawn out stalemate that kills more people than Gaddafi would have killed restoring his regime, what then, Student Prince? It’s hard for me to envision a good outcome for the US. ~Bob. Excerpt: Rebel fighters fled under fire from a key town in eastern Libya on Tuesday as world leaders convening in London insisted that Moammar Gaddafi step down but offered no new suggestions for how to dislodge him from power. The rebels’ chaotic retreat from the town of Bin Jawwad, which they had captured from troops loyal to Gaddafi just two days earlier, reversed the momentum they had seized over the weekend and suggested that the ad hoc and lightly armed opposition force may have reached the limits of its capacity. It was the fourth time Bin Jawwad has changed hands in less than three weeks, raising the specter of a prolonged stalemate along the sparsely populated stretch of coastal highway between the rebel stronghold of Benghazi to the east and Gaddafi’s heavily garrisoned home town of Sirte to the west.

Senate Hearing Juggles Rights, Terror Concerns
Sen. Durbin (D-Trial Lawyers) naturally has a different ethical sense than most of us. ~Bob. Excerpt: As the Investigative Project on Terrorism reported Monday, Durbin has developed warm relationships with two groups - the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Mosque Foundation of Bridgeview, Ill. - that federal law enforcement records show have clearly discernible Hamas-support histories. Committee members Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., and Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., said bigotry of any ilk should be condemned and Graham paid tribute to the "thousands of American Muslims serving in our military." But Kyl expressed concern that the hearing was an attempt to discredit or silence those who focus on Islamist extremism. "If it's part of a narrative that says it's improper to point out the obvious, that too many young Muslims being radicalized to join the jihad, then count me out," Kyl said.

Excerpt: As governors across the land pepper the federal government with requests to scale back Medicaid — many people are losing sight of the fact that health care reform (what some call ObamaCare) requires a huge expansion of Medicaid. In fact, in just three years the nation is expected to start insuring about 32 million uninsured people. About half will enroll in Medicaid directly; and if the Massachusetts precedent is followed, most of the remainder will be in heavily subsidized private plans that pay little more than Medicaid rates. That raises an important question: How good is Medicaid? Will the people who enroll in it and in private plans that function like Medicaid get more care, or better care, than they would have gotten without health reform? The answer to that question is not obvious. In fact it’s probably fair to say that we are about to spend close to $1 trillion over the next 10 years insuring the uninsured and we really don’t know what we expect to accomplish by spending all that money. The 32 million newly insured may not get more health care. They may even get less care. And even if they do get more, odds are that low-income families as a group will get less care than if there had never been a health reform bill in the first place.

The Price of Taxing the Rich: The top 1% of earners fill the coffers of states like California and New York during a boom—and leave them starved for revenue in a bust.
Excerpt: The working class may be taking a beating from spending cuts used to close a cavernous deficit, Mr. Williams said, but the root of California's woes is its reliance on taxing the wealthy. Nearly half of California's income taxes before the recession came from the top 1% of earners: households that took in more than $490,000 a year. High earners, it turns out, have especially volatile incomes—their earnings fell by more than twice as much as the rest of the population's during the recession. When they crashed, they took California's finances down with them. Mr. Williams, a former economic forecaster for the state, spent more than a decade warning state leaders about California's over-dependence on the rich. "We created a revenue cliff," he said. "We built a large part of our government on the state's most unstable income group." New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Illinois—states that are the most heavily reliant on the taxes of the wealthy—are now among those with the biggest budget holes. (But class envy and “tax the rich” gets votes from the economically-ignorant, a majority. ~Bob.)

Detroit's Decline and the Folly of Light Rail
Excerpt: The Census just reported that Detroit's population dropped by 25% between 2000 and 2010, a stunning fall that is even larger than the 20% drop Detroit experienced during the 1970s. The story of this city's devastating decline reminds us that urban fortunes depend on entrepreneurial human capital. Failed public policies that tried to fix Detroit with urban renewal and transportation projects stand as stark evidence against the view that our economic woes call for more federal spending on infrastructure. The White House's fondness for transportation spending may reflect the fact that projects like the Erie Canal had great value when moving goods was near impossible. In 1816, it cost as much to move goods 30 miles over land as it did to ship them across the Atlantic. Public investments in waterways and railroads created a transportation network that made the natural wealth of the American interior accessible.

Buy Israeli Goods

Black Activist Confronts Bill Ayers With Facts

Vanessa, the "Afro-conservative" in the Ayers video

GOP sets sights on AARP over its support for healthcare reform
Why I resigned from AARP/. ~Bob. Excerpt: Newly empowered House Republicans are getting ready to renew their attacks against AARP over its support for the healthcare reform law, The Hill has learned. The Ways and Means health and oversight subcommittees are hauling in the seniors lobby's executives before the panel for an April 1 hearing on how the group stands to benefit from the law, among other topics. Republicans say AARP supported the law's $200 billion in cuts to the Medicare Advantage program because it stands to gain financially as seniors replace their MA plans with Medicare supplemental insurance — or Medigap — policies endorsed by the association. The hearing will cover not only Medigap but "AARP’s organizational structure, management, and financial growth over the last decade."
 An embarrassing hearing would not only hit AARP back for its support of the law, but fits in with the GOP's mantra that the law was written behind closed doors to favor Democratic allies.

Hospitals fear they'll pay cost of medical device tax
Hospitals groups are afraid a healthcare reform tax on medical device manufacturers will wind up hurting them more than the device makers. The reform provision, which is the target of repeal efforts in the House and Senate, imposes a 2.3 percent excise tax on the sale of most medical devices starting in 2013. But hospital groups are worried the device tax may be implemented in a way that allows the manufacturers to pass the bill onto other healthcare stakeholders, mainly hospitals. In fact, they warn of a “double benefit” if the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows the device makers to also deduct the tax. (All business taxes are eventually paid for by consumers, because that’s where business gets it income. But too many consumers are too dumb to figure that out. ~Bob.)

Trade groups want to halt reform law until courts decide
Excerpt: A group of more than 250 trade associations are backing a senator’s plan to halt healthcare reform implementation until legal challenges are completely settled. The StartOver! Coalition, which includes the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, says it is “prudent” to block implementation efforts as the courts hash out the constitutionality of healthcare reform. While three federal judges have upheld the law’s requirement for individuals to purchase insurance, two have struck it down. U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson in January struck down the entire law, but allowed implementation to continue.

Excerpt: U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) today reintroduced a bill, The Health Care Bureaucrats Elimination Act, cosponsored by Senators Pat Roberts (R-KS), John McCain (R-AZ), Tom Coburn (R-OK), John Barrasso (R-WY), Richard Burr (R-NC), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), James Inhofe (R-OK), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), and John Thune (R-SD) to remove unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats from American seniors’ personal health decisions by repealing the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).

The Missing Moderate Muslims
Excerpt: “I am already against the next war,” read the bumper sticker on a car ahead of me. I long to tell the driver: the next war is already here; Islamists are waging it in every corner of the globe and the “moderate Muslims” are either actively supporting them, placing the blame on the West, or simply looking the other way. This war aims to wipe out everything that free people cherish, including the right of expressing their sentiments. Banishing war has been the perennial dream of mankind’s best, while its worst have been frustrating its realization. To renounce war unilaterally and unconditionally is surrender and death. Humanity has suffered horrific wars in the past. Yet, the present multi-form and multi-front war waged by Islamists has the potential of inflicting more suffering and destroying more lives than any before it. Ruthless Islamic forces are advancing rapidly in their conquests while those of freedom are acquiescing and retreating. Before long, Islamism is poised to achieve its Allah-mandated goal of cleansing the earth of all non-Muslims. Any and all means and weapons are to be enlisted in the service of this final holy war that aims to establish the Islamic Ummah. (Actually, there are moderate or, better term, Secular Muslims. But they are on a bus being driving by the violent Jihadists. They fight only with words, thus are intimidated and get a lot less press from the “If it bleeds, it lead” Media. They are even more likely to be the victims of Allah-murder than we kuffer. It is easy to call on Moderate Muslims to speak out when it is they, not you, who will be murdered for apostasy. Unfortunately, the Jihadists are far more than the “tiny minority” the left would have us believe, and their violent Islamic Supremacism has as strong a theological basis in Islam, perhaps stronger, than the reformers beliefs. We must support the secular Muslims fighting an uphill battle to reform their faith, defeat Shari’a and make separate the political and religious authorities. And we must understand there are Jihadist making placating, secular, anti-terror statements in English to lull us, while preaching violent Jihad in their native tongues. See: Muslims Speak Out Against Terrorism:

Worth watching: Glenn Beck Reacts to WI Worker Who Wants to "Take Control" of Workplace to Be "Free"
I’m not a big Beck fan, but this is on point. I eat at Noodles and Company in Madison. If guys like this get their way, they will starve, the idiots. ~Bob.

Speaker Boehner to Senate Dems: If You Have a Plan to Cut Spending, "Pass the Damn Thing"
Don’t be silly, Mr. Speaker. The Senate Democrats couldn’t pass a budget when they had a super majority, because the numbers don’t work. Nor, in the long term, do the House Republican numbers work. Reality will force its iron hand on everyone. ~Bob. Excerpt: At a press conference with GOP leaders today, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) once again called on Senate Democrats to stop rooting for a government shutdown and start working to pass a bill or offer a credible plan that cuts spending and helps create a better environment for job growth – just as the new House majority did nearly 40 days ago. Following are video and text of Speaker Boehner’s remarks: “Well it’s just that simple: it’s time for the Senate Democrats to pass a bill. “The House has passed our bill and it’s been nearly 40 days, and yet we’ve seen nothing pass the United States Senate.

Congressman Allen West Replies to user Laura B.
Speaking sense in Washington—can he last? ~Bob.

Quotes from The Patriot Post
"When you have Islamic jihadists going toe-to-toe with a mass-murdering thug and his followers, humanitarianism is in dangerously short supply. So, apparently, is sanity. If Colonel Cuckoo wins, we have the makings of a terrorist-led pariah state that hates the West in general, and the United States in particular. If the rebels win, we have the makings of a terrorist-led pariah state which hates the West in general, and the United States in particular. Is there clarity in redundancy?" --columnist Arnold Ahlert
"The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions." --American statesman and senator Daniel Webster (1782-1852)

"A society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves." --French philosopher Bertrand de Jouvenel (1903-1987)

Department of Injustice by Walter E. Williams
Excerpt: One of the requirements to become a Dayton, Ohio police officer is to successfully pass the city's two-part written examination. Applicants must correctly answer 57 of 86 questions on the first part (66 percent) and 73 of 102 (72 percent) on the second part. Dayton's Civil Service Board reported that 490 candidates passed the November 2010 written test, 57 of whom were black. About 231 of the roughly 1,100 test takers were black. The U.S. Department of Justice, led by Attorney General Eric Holder, rejected the results of Dayton's Civil Service examination because not enough blacks passed. The DOJ has ordered the city to lower the passing score….It is truly insulting to suggest that black people cannot meet the same standards as white people and somehow justice requires lower standards. Black performance on Dayton's Civil Service exam is really a message about fraudulent high school diplomas that many black students receive….The National Assessment of Educational Progress, sometimes called the Nation's Report Card, tests students at the fourth and eighth grades in math, reading, science and writing. The 2009 eighth-grade scores in Ohio were: In math, 54 percent of whites and 14 percent of blacks tested proficient; 54 percent of whites were proficient in reading while 13 percent of blacks were; in science, 43 percent of white and 6 percent of blacks tested proficient; and in writing, 38 percent of whites tested proficient compared with 13 percent for blacks. This black/white education gap remains through high school completion, as seen by huge score differences in college entrance exams taken during the senior year.

Project Gunrunner: Obama's Stimulus-Funded Border Nightmare
Excerpt: Buried in Barack Obama's failed trillion-dollar stimulus program was a $10 million bloody border racket that has now cost American lives. This goes far beyond the usual waste, fraud and abuse underwritten by progressive profligacy. It's bloodstained government malfeasance overseen by anti-gun ideologues -- and now anti-gun ideologue Attorney General Eric Holder will "investigate." Welcome to Project Gunrunner. Prepare for another Justice Department whitewash.

Wisconsin Republicans face new hurdle in union battle
I’ve read that her son is a former SEIU official. If so, why don’t we hear more about that conflict of interest? ~Bob. Excerpt: Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi chastised state officials Tuesday for ignoring her earlier order to halt the law’s publication. “Apparently that language was either misunderstood or ignored, but what I said was the further implementation of (the law) was enjoined,” Sumi said during a hearing. “That is what I now want to make crystal clear.”

Son of Wisconsin Judge Who Blocked Union Law is Left Wing Activist, Former Union Official
Excerpt: Not only is Judge Maryann Sumi’s son, Jacob “Jake” Sinderbrand, a left-wing activist, he’s also a former official of both the AFL-CIO and the SEIU State Council. Both of those unions represent public-sector workers in Wisconsin. Judge Sumi issued the restraining order blocking the publishing of the new labor law in Wisconsin. She also recently refused to order the striking teachers to go back to work. Can you say “conflict of interest“?

Obama’s Biggest Rival?
Excerpt: Who is Jon Huntsman, and why does he make the White House nervous. (Problem is, GOP primary voters are far more interested in having a nominee who is pure than in beating Obama. As long as the GOP nominee isn’t a RINO in anyway, they will be content with Obama destroying the economy through 2016, while they talk about his birth certificate endlessly. ~Bob.

New al-Qaida Magazine Lauds Arab Revolutions
In that they agree with our media weenies. ~Bob. Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula released its fifth issue of Inspire Magazine, with a clear explanation of its views about upheaval in the Middle East and what that means for the organization's aim to retake the Holy Land. While uprisings in Bahrain, Egypt and elsewhere in the region have been peaceful, several articles in the issue stake the claim that such popular actions somehow validate al-Qaida's violent ethos.

Harry Reid Chooses Shutdown Over Responsibility
Excerpt: You would think liberals in Congress have nothing better to do with their time. Amid a war in Libya, an effort to aid earthquake and tsunami-stricken Japan, a continuing war in Afghanistan, rising gas prices and endless unemployment, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and the Democratic leadership in the U.S. Senate are refusing to accept a modest agreement to fund the federal government through the end of the fiscal year. And time is running short. What’s Senator Reid wrangling over? A mere $51 billion in additional budget cuts, which amounts to a few days of government deficit spending. But Reid’s stonewalling isn’t just about dollars and cents, or saving federal funding for a Cowboy Poetry Festival. Reid and the Democrats in Congress are setting the groundwork for a partial government shutdown so they can attempt to lay the blame at the feet of the Tea Party and Republicans in Congress and gain politically. They’re simply putting electoral politics over the business of our nation. (Well, given our fiscal situation, the Republican plan is irresponsible. Just not as irresponsible as the Democrats plan to spend until they run out of paper to print money on. ~Bob.)

Should Kagan Recuse from Health Cases? Internal DOJ Emails Raise Questions
Excerpt: “Absolutely right on. Let’s crush them,” wrote Principal Deputy Solicitor General Neal Katyal. “I’ll speak to Elena and designate someone.” The Elena here is then-Solicitor General Elena Kagan--now a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. Katyal was writing at 10:57 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 8, 2010. Two weeks before that, on Christmas Eve, the U.S. Senate had passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the unprecedented bill promoted by President Barack Obama that mandated that individual Americans must buy health insurance. Already—as reported in a Dec. 30, 2009 New York Times article--Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum was examining the possibility of a lawsuit to challenge the bill if it became law and, as the Times put it, there were “nearly a dozen other states who have also threatened to sue over the mandate.” (Interesting. Who decides if she should recuse? Who enforces it, and how? War within the Court? Ron P. Yes, she should recuse. No, she won’t. No way to force her to. Things like this are why Obama put her on the Court. ~Bob.)

Chuck Schumer (D-NY) Caught Telling Senators to Smear GOP, Boehner
Doesn’t matter. Both sides know they do this, and the independents don’t pay attention. ~Bob. Excerpt: So much for civil discourse. Sen. Charles E. Schumer briefly revealed his true face Tuesday as reporters listened to him instruct fellow Democrats in how to paint Republicans and House Speaker John Boehner as extremist Tea Party zealots in the budget debates. “I always use the word extreme,” Schumer told his fellow Democrats. “That is what the caucus instructed me to use this week.”

The Freezing of the Rhine
Excerpt: Mr. Wilders finds a parallel to these events in the current decline of Western Civilization. He notes that modern-day barbarians — immigrants from the Islamic world — are anticipating the equivalent of the freezing of the Rhine, after which they will be able to overrun and sack the copious riches of an all-but-moribund Europe: Our opponents are hoping for an event that is akin to the freezing of the Rhine in 406, when thousands of immigrants will be given an easy opportunity to cross massively into the West. This has been the winter of Arab discontent, and as a result of the recent upheavals in North Africa and the Middle East, the metaphorical Rhine may finally have frozen over. Instead of a river, the barbarian invaders are crossing the Mediterranean Sea. Instead of walking, they are cramming themselves into rickety boats and crossing over into Italian territory.

Western double standards over Libya will help Islamists
In the eyes of many Arabs in the region, a deeply troubling Western double standard is emerging. Many in the region are asking a simple question: Why is the West willing to intervene in Libya, while there is total Western silence about the brutal suppression of dissidents in Bahrain? The West appears to be quite selective in lending its support to the "Arab Spring." As Ramy Khouri, an insightful analyst from Lebanon, warns us: "The lesson that many are drawing is that two distinct standards apply to Arab citizens' rights. In countries like Libya, Egypt and Tunisia, the world will accept or actively support constitutional changes that citizens of those countries demand. In other Arab countries, like Bahrain, the rights of citizens are secondary to wider energy and security needs."

30 ‘black genocide’ abortion billboards featuring Obama go up in Chicago
Excerpt: Thirty pro-life billboards featuring the image of Barack Obama are going up in South Chicago, U.S. president Barack Obama’s adopted hometown, starting tomorrow. “Every 21 minutes, our next possible LEADER is aborted,” states the ad, which features an artistic rendering of Obama’s profile with a caption directing viewers to “” “Our future leaders are being aborted at an alarming rate. These are babies who could grow to be the future Presidents of the United States, or the next Oprah Winfrey, Denzel Washington or Maya Angelou,” said Rev. Derek McCoy, a black pastor and board member of Life Always, which is responsible for the campaign. According to official U.S. data, black Americans account for approximately 36.9 percent (2007) of the total U.S. abortion numbers, despite accounting for only 12.9 percent (in 2009) of the total U.S. population.

Andrew (Cuomo) delivers
Excerpt: Gov. Cuomo vowed to bring fiscal sanity to Albany -- and the $132.5 billion state budget agreed to on Sunday represents a seismic shift in that direction.
The document still must be voted on, but as it stands, the budget: * Is on time. * Reduces spending year to year. * Contains no tax hikes or borrowing. This is good. Indeed, it would have been unthinkable in the recent past. But what's better is that from now on, spending for health care and education will be capped -- limited by taxpayers' ability to pay.

Shaking the house that Assad built
Excerpt: If the United States has good reason to support the popular revolt in Libya -- and President Obama argued Monday night that there is "an important strategic interest in preventing [Moammar] Qaddafi from overrunning those who oppose him" -- it has considerably more reason to do so in Syria. If it made sense to speed the departure of Egyptian ruler Hosni Mubarak, accelerating the fall of Syria's Bashar al-Assad should be an even higher priority. If North Africa was improved when the people of Tunisia threw off their dictator, the entire Arab world would be a healthier place if a Syrian uprising toppled Assad. So why doesn't Washington say so? Of all the waves of protest to wash over the Middle East in recent months, none has come as a greater surprise -- and none should be more welcome -- than the turbulence in Syria. Forty years under the fearsome rule of the Assad clan were supposed to have crushed the Syrians' will to resist. Though Bashar's brutality has not yet exceeded that of his father -- in 1982 Hafez al-Assad annihilated some 25,000 civilians in the city of Hama, then literally paved over their remains -- his own reign has nevertheless been a horror-show of repression, torture, assassination, disappearances, and the near-total denial of civil and political liberties.

U.K.: Thugs from "Muslims Against Crusades" intend to disrupt royal wedding
Excerpt: This is the same group that provoked public outrage by disrupting the traditional Armistice Day moment of silence and burning large replicas of the poppy, Britain's symbol of remembrance and respect for fallen soldiers, while chanting "British soldiers burn in hell," and holding banners proclaiming that "Islam will dominate." If you're not exactly charmed by that sort of behavior, you'll like it even less knowing the man charged and fined for disturbing the peace in that case works only part-time and takes in £792 a month in state benefits. For their next act of interfaith dialogue, they're targeting the royal wedding.

New documentary explores jihad attack in Arkansas
Excerpt: "Losing our Sons" is a documentary film investigation into the first successful homegrown jihad terrorist attack on American soil. This is the story of a young African-American man from Memphis who converted to Islam, went to Yemen for terrorism training, and came back to murder a young Marine in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Taking Feminism Overseas
No chance. In the PC world, “Muslim” is trump over even Gays, never mind women. ~Bob. Excerpt: The plight of women in other countries is not only dire, it’s central to global poverty and the war on terrorism. Jihadism is largely a male problem. This shouldn’t be a surprise, given that jihadis commit mass murder in pursuit of a virgin bonus in the afterlife. Islamist extremism and oppression of women go hand in hand. And while the correlation between poverty and terrorism is often overstated, the correlation between prosperity and women’s liberation is profound. Female education is tightly linked with GDP growth, lower birthrates, and even higher agricultural yields. It’s also tightly linked with human freedom and decency, which is why no Islamic “spring” is possible without a feminist revolution. Countless Islamist countries practice gender apartheid and countenance wife-beating, honor killings, and female genital mutilation. Islamist radicals have thrown acid in the faces of young girls for trying to go to school. In Turkey, long the crown jewel of secular, modern, and moderate Islam, the murder rate of women has gone up 1,400 percent since the country lurched toward Islamism, notes my American Enterprise Institute colleague Michael Rubin.

Caterpillar's Alarm Bell For Illinois
Excerpt: Caterpillar's CEO warned Illinois last week that the state's anti-business climate is forcing the company to consider leaving. The Illinois governor's response? No way. What planet does he live on? The Pantagraph of Bloomington, Ill., reported last week that Caterpillar Chief Executive Doug Oberhelman had starkly warned in a letter to Gov. Pat Quinn that he'd been "cornered in meetings" and "wined and dined" to relocate his company to Wisconsin, Texas, South Dakota, Nebraska and other states lining up in the wake of Illinois' massive tax hike this year on business. "I want to stay here," the CEO wrote. "But as the leader of this business, I have to do what's right for Caterpillar when making decisions about where to invest. The direction that this state is headed in is not favorable to business, and I'd like to work with you to change that." Amazingly, Quinn responded that it was impossible that one of Illinois' largest employers and taxpayers would move out of state, then changed the subject. It was pure Louis XVI:

Pawlenty's strong showing in the Insiders' poll
Excerpt: Many Republicans are currently lamenting the fact that for the second election in a row, they are entering the cycle with a distressingly lackluster field of candidates to take on Barack Obama. Of course, that may not be the real problem, or not the biggest problem, anyway. George W. Bush was not a terribly impressive candidate in 2000. The real difference between 2000 and 2012 (and between 2000 and 2008) is that there is no single choice that appears inevitable. Robert Novak always used to remind me that Republicans have a historical tendency to gravitate toward "inevitable" establishment candidates for president early on, whose nomination is almost a fait accompli. That's not to say that the normal choice is more conservative or less so -- just that the nominee usually locks it up early on and wins establishment support…. In this context, I note with interest that former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty comes in second in National Journal's poll of GOP insiders. This despite the fact that he is barely a blip on the national radar, with practically zero name recognition at this point. His strength among the insiders strikes me as reasonable, and here's why:

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