Thursday, January 5, 2012

Political Digest for January 5, 2012

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.

What’s PC?

Iowa caucus results: Romney edges Santorum; Paul finishes third
Excerpt: Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney beat former senator Rick Santor­um (Pa.) in the Iowa caucuses by just eight votes, a sign of a splintered and increasingly fractious field as the GOP presidential race moves to New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida. Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.) scored a close but disappointing third-place finish in a state where he had hoped to score a breakout victory. But he told his supporters “there’s nothing to be ashamed of” and urged them to “be ready and raring to move on to the next stop.” (My thoughts: First, the Ames Straw poll, which Bachmann won and drove Pawlenty out, means zero. Second, we desperately need the “American Plan” primary system [] but everyone is too committed to candidate/parties/issues to fight for the future. Third, I think Romney will now be hard to stop, as the anti-Romney vote is divided, though larger. Fourth, all elections should be decided on the “Hare” system, where you vote “1” for you first choice, “2” for your second and so on. The lowest candidate is eliminated and his/her votes parceled out on second, third choice until someone has 50%, But who will fight for this? Debates matter; Perry came in with the race his to lose and he did in the debates, as he wasn’t ready for prime time, though he’s staying in. Fifth, observers say Huntsman has a more conservative record than Romney, but ran as a centrist. That doesn’t work in primaries in either party. Sixth, Santorum benefited by being the last anti-Romney to rise, but where does he go from here? The attack ads will be turned on him now. Seventh, voters say they hate negative campaigning, but reward it. Newt would have won a month ago, before the attack ads drove his numbers down. Eighth, the race is now Mitt, Rick and Newt. Paul cannot win the nomination and if he did, Republicans in the future [if there is a future that includes Republicans] would think of 1964 as a pretty good year. Ninth, this is no way to run a democratic Republic. ~Bob.)

Excerpt: Contrary to suggestions last night, Rick Perry tweets he's not dropping out of the presidential race after all:
Romney leaves Iowa with same problems he had in 2008
Excerpt: There was a dark side to Mitt Romney’s close finish in the Iowa caucuses.
After first approaching Iowa with reservation and then scrambling hard in the final weeks to win, he leaves here with about the same share of votes he snagged four years ago in the Republican presidential caucuses.

Excerpt: Rep. Michele Bachmann has cancelled her scheduled campaign events in South Carolina and announced a press conference in Iowa, a sign she may be leaving the GOP race. After finishing dead last in the Iowa caucuses Bachmann insisted she would stay in the race, but that may be changing. She will "address results of the 2012 Iowa caucuses" in West Des Moines at 10 a.m. CST, according to her campaign. (Huntsman was last, but what do you expect? ~Bob.)

Bachmann drops out of the race for president

What Iowa Means: Our experts weigh in on the result, and the road ahead.
Excerpt: The Hawkeye State killed off the chances of a perfectly good candidate, Tim Pawlenty, in favor of his Minnesota rival Michele Bachmann, only to drop her like seventh-period Spanish by the time the actual caucuses rolled around. The caucuses weren’t even over when the Fox News Decision Desk could project, with confidence, that she would finish sixth out of six major candidates in the caucus. As of this writing, she is set to finish 5 percentage points ahead of Jon Huntsman, who effectively conceded the state. Put another way, she finished 6 percentage points ahead of you and me, and we didn’t even run. With no seriously contested Democratic caucus to compete for the votes of independents, the caucus turned into yet another sales pitch for closed primaries. According to the entrance polls, 38 percent of caucus-goers had never voted in a GOP caucus before; of those, by far the largest share, 37 percent, voted for Ron Paul.

Santorum's Experiment in Truth-Telling
First, Santorum passed the basic test all candidates face: He is up to the office.
Santorum's knowledge of public policy -- developed over two terms in the U.S. Senate -- is deeper and broader than any other candidate's except, perhaps, Gingrich's. He is clearly qualified to be president -- even if he has never been a community organizer like Barack Obama or a venture capitalist like Mitt Romney. Secondly, Santorum has done something fairly radical in modern presidential politics: He not only has insisted on saying exactly what he believes, he has turned his heartfelt beliefs into the foundation of a visionary message for the country's future. (I lived in PA during Santorum’s rise. I came away thinking he was cocky and arrogant. I wonder if I’m going to have to reassess him? Not my first choice, but unlike Paul or Trump, I could vote for him over Obama. If I have to. ~Bob.)

Why European loans could hurt U.S. taxpayers By Desmond Lachman
Excerpt: There is a major disconnect between what the Obama administration says and what it does about bailing out countries in the European periphery. For while the administration keeps insisting that Europe has the financial wherewithal to rescue those European countries in distress, it has allowed the International Monetary Fund to bail out Greece, Ireland and Portugal on an unprecedented scale. And it has done so in a manner that puts the U.S. taxpayer on the hook in a major way. And if that were not bad enough, the administration now appears to be acquiescing to substantially bolstering the IMF's available resources with large-scale bilateral European loans.

Tax Cuts, Less-Intrusive Gov't Help Canada Soar
Excerpt: Away from the low growth and high regulation of an America under Washington's thumb, our northern neighbor is economically strong. As 2011 ends, Canada has announced yet another tax cut — and will soar even more. The Obama administration and its economic czars have flailed about for years, baffled about how to get the U.S. economy growing. In reality, the president need look no further than our neighbor, Canada, whose solid growth is the product of tax cuts, fiscal discipline, free trade, and energy development. That's made Canada a roaring puma nation, while its supposedly more powerful southern neighbor stands on the outside looking in. (Unfortunately, the “Obama Base” is anti-growth. ~Bob.)

Plug-in electric vehicles get off to a slow start: Sticker shock, low gas prices deter buyers
Excerpt: Rather than electrifying auto buyers, the plug-in car revolution is feeling more like a fizzle. A year after the first two plug-in electric cars from major makers went on sale, buyers appear put off by high sticker prices -- even with federal subsidies -- and, for the moment, by more-stable gasoline prices. (What a shock—the coal-powered cars [electricity is generated largely by coal] aren’t selling well. A good survey question would be, if the government gave you an electric car, with the stipulation you had to drive it as your main car, would you accept? ~Bob)

Excerpt: As we enter the New Year, I invite everyone to think back to the process by which we got ObamaCare. Remember the phrase, “If you’re not at the table, you’re going to be the lunch.” As it’s turning out, just about everybody who was at the table is turning out to be lunch after all. Is anyone surprised at that? Are you surprised at the pre-Christmas announcement that agents and brokers under ObamaCare are going to be toast? What about the discovery that the administration is not a friend of doctors after all? Or that hospitals are fair game any time Congress needs more money? Or that the drug companies are next? What about the insurance execs who have already lost their jobs? Can you imagine what would have happened if all these groups had stood on principle? What if they had stood with those being exploited instead of trying to line their own pockets with a few extra shekels at everyone else’s expense?

Excerpt: President Obama plans to circumvent Senate GOP opposition and recess appoint his nominee to head a new consumer bureau. White House spokesman Dan Pfeiffer confirmed the recess appointment of Richard Cordray Wednesday on Twitter after the move was first reported by the Associated Press.

Worth Reading: How the Sausage Gets Made
Excerpt: …[O]nce the Blogosphere took off, and people who had an interest in exploring how the media actively shapes the news (or attempts to create it, in the case of Dan and his producer) could start trading blogposts, moments such as this became increasingly common. Here’s the image of Cindy Sheehan and Al Sharpton the way that the MSM (and Sheehan and Sharpton) wanted you to see them in 2005: (As a Republican living in Massachusetts, I’ve learned to be judicious about talking politics. One way around this is to discuss “the news.” The problem with that is virtually everyone here—often including other Republicans—assumes the news media is honest, even-handed, and unbiased. Anyone suggesting that news coverage may be managed for content or impact must be some deranged fascist nut, right? Even if you don’t read this article, just look at the first two pictures in it. You might want to print them and keep them near your TV as a reminder that what you see ISN’T always what you get, or even close to it. Ron P.)

Voter ID Prevents Election Fraud Last night's nail-biter in Iowa marked the beginning of election year 2012. And with Americans heading to the polls -- next in New Hampshire, then South Carolina and beyond -- they will hope to rely on the integrity of the election system to ensure that every legitimate vote counts and that fraud is not the deciding factor on the local, state or national level. Unfortunately, despite all the technological advances in our modern democracy, voter fraud still occurs, and yet there is still resistance to one very simple tool that could help eradicate it -- voter ID.

Iran in Convulsion (the death spiral continues)
Excerpt: Big news today from Iran, confirming once again that the hapless regime in Tehran proceeds down its death spiral. The first is the spectacular collapse of the national currency, which has lost 35% of its value since September. The second headline, in an extraordinary press conference by the effective commander of the revolutionary guards, is the admission that the incarcerated leaders of the green movement have so much powerful support that the regime dares not prosecute them. (Ledeen’s last paragraph says it all for me. Ron P.)

CNN is projecting that the winner in Iowa among democrats is Barack Obama. I was hoping for an upset.

Holder assistant leaves Justice Department
Excerpt: Laurie Robinson, Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) under Attorney General Eric Holder, is leaving the Department of Justice (DOJ), according to an announcement released just before the start of the Iowa caucuses.

Iranian War Drums
Excerpt: After threatening only days ago to close the Strait of Hormuz, through which twenty percent of the world’s oil supplies moves, the Iranian government has once again engaged in ominous sabre-rattling. The mullah regime’s latest threat involves a warning to the United States on Tuesday not to send its naval task force group, headed by the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis, back to the Persian Gulf. The Stennis had already left Gulf waters last week en route to the Afghan war theater and is now “somewhere between Oman and Pakistan.”

Muslim Brotherhood Plans to Cancel Peace Pact with Israel
A treaty is a contract between two parties. When one side cancels, abrogates or defaults on the terms to which it had committed, the other side is entitled to recover that which it had paid or committed. Thus, in the event that Egypt repudiates the peace treaty with Israel, Israel would be entitled to reoccupy the Sinai Peninsula obtained from Egypt in a defensive war. The United States, which as guarantor of the deal had furnished Egypt with 30 years of financial and military aid and collaboration, should immediately cease such aid. Cordially, Larry Greenburg.

Bombs May Not Be Falling, but U.S. and Iran Are Already Waging Economic War
Excerpt: Hard-hitting U.S. sanctions on Iran’s central bank and new Iranian threats to attack U.S. vessels in a vital oil-shipping route underscore a little-noticed aspect of the growing tensions between Washington and Tehran: Armed conflict may not break out anytime soon, but Iran and the U.S. are already fighting a low-level economic war that seems likely to escalate in the months ahead. Iran’s apparent progress toward building both nuclear weapons and the long-range missiles capable of carrying them to targets in both Israel and Europe has prompted mounting speculation that Washington or Jerusalem will soon carry out full-scale military strikes against Iran, attacks likely to trigger a major regional conflict. (This is in addition to the clandestine war the Iranians have been waging against us nonstop since 1979. The Iranians now have military trainers and advisors in Venezuela (and possibly in Ecuador), close contact and coordination with Cuba, and have been angling for similar arrangements with Brazil (plus most of the Asian countries we have interests in). All those countries are within range of hitting the continental US with “intermediate-range” missiles. Any direct conflict may start out as “regional,” but will quickly escalate in scale, though perhaps more in the way of terror attacks rather than full-on military challenges. Further, this takes no account of Iranian sleeper cells already on our soil. It also takes no account of any possible agreements with the North Koreans, Syrians, Chinese, or other potential allies of Iran (which include every country that wants/needs Iranian oil). We may very well find ourselves alone, or nearly so, if armed conflict breaks out. In a perverse way, that might actually be an improvement over the pretense of “friendly” non-relations we currently have. It would at least allow the identification of the enemy, which would allow us to target them wherever they hide. Once again, damn you, Jimmy Carter. Ron P. Let’s send the USS Ruben James to keep the straits open. ~Bob.)

Inside The Deal To Sell GM to China’s SAIC
Excerpt: By now, you’ve no doubt heard the news: General Motors’ Chinese partner, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) will take a controlling stake in GM by purchasing the equity sold to the U.S. and Canadian governments during the bailout. But what does it mean for the future of GM? The announcement was brief, cryptic and buried in the excitement over the multitude of concepts and new vehicles GM has just announced it will debut at the Shanghai auto show in a few weeks. (If you’re on a “Buy American” kick, cross a new Chevy off the list. ~Bob.)

Ruth Marcus: Marriage decline an economic issue
Excerpt: If current trends hold, within a few years less than half the U.S. adult population will be married. This precipitous decline isn’t just a social problem — although it is that, too —it’s an economic problem. Specifically, it’s an income-inequality and economic-mobility problem. The steadily dropping marriage rate both contributes to income inequality and further entrenches it. The latest numbers, from the Pew Research Center, are startling and disturbing. (Ah, the Sixties. The decade that trashed the culture, a gift that goes on giving. ~Bob.)

The Frogs do love us – they’re just hopping mad with Germany by Boris Johnson.
Excerpt: When Arthur says he would like to have a look at this marvel, the French knight refuses, and concludes: “I don’t want to talk to you no more, you empty-headed animal food trough whopper. I fart in your general direction. … If you cut out some of the raspberry blowing and bottom-flashing, that is just about the level of the current diplomatic broadsides from Paris. David Cameron goes to the dark castle in Brussels in his quest for common sense, and ever since they have been peppering us with dead cows.

Three explosions kill 11 in southern Afghanistan
Excerpt: In the first attack, four children and a policeman were killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up near a police checkpoint in Kandahar city, said Zalmay Ayoubi, a spokesman for the Kandahar governor. … He said the bomber's target was the police checkpoint, but his bomb went off prematurely.

Reid backs Obama after using pro forma sessions to block Bush
Excerpt: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who previously held pro forma sessions to block recess appointments by President George W. Bush, said Wednesday he supported President Obama's decision to ignore those sessions to push through one of his key nominees.

Excerpt: After the fall of the Soviet Union, most Leftists in the US at least had the decency to mourn quietly over the demise of the Evil Empire. Being sympathetic to murderous communists became somewhat of a joke manifested in “CCCP” t-shirts worn ironically, for the most part. Slowly a real nostalgia started cropping up and now, as evidenced by the Occupy Movement, there are people who are wondering out loud whether the world is a better place post-USSR. There’s a serious anti-capitalist mood in the Left’s echo-chamber.

US Closes 2011 With Record $15.22 Trillion In Debt, Officially At 100.3% Debt/GDP, $14 Billion From Breaching Debt Ceiling
Nothing here, alas, to refute my conclusion is The Coming Collapse of the American Republic. Especially when you recall that government spending is a large chunk of the GDP. ~Bob.

Prison Bus With 16 Inmates Overturns on NY State Thruway
Excerpt: A New York City Department of Correction bus carrying 16 prisoners to a medium-security state prison crashed Wednesday on the New York State Thruway.
Authorities said all the prisoners were secured and there was no evidence they had caused the crash in an escape attempt. (This will probably make some trial lawyers rich, suing for pain and suffering. ~Bob.)

Excerpt: Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the 2008 GOP presidential nominee, endorsed former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney for the 2012 Republican nomination in New Hampshire on Wednesday.

Okla. Woman Shoots, Kills Intruder: 911 Operators Say It's Okay to Shoot
Excerpt: A young Oklahoma mother shot and killed an intruder to protect her 3-month-old baby on New Year's Eve, less than a week after the baby's father died of cancer. (My kind of girl A righteous outcome. The Blanchard police department has set up a fund for Sarah McKinley at Chickasha Bank &Trust. The address is 1525 N Council Hwy 76, Blanchard OK 73010 and the phone number is 405-485-2300. ~Bob.)

Ca Judge Deems Ramming Jewish Woman With Shopping Cart ‘Free Speech’
Excerpt: Back in June of 2010 a leader of a pro-Palestinian student group at University of Berkeley allegedly rammed a Jewish woman with a shopping cart as she staged a counter-protest to an anti-Israel “Apartheid Week” rally conducted by the Muslim Student Association and Students for Justice in Palestine. The counter-protest was dubbed “Israel Wants Peace Week.” Now, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Seeborg has deemed that the Muslim students who harassed Jessica Felber and other Jewish students were simply engaging in protected political speech. (So if you disagree with the judge, punching him in the mouth would be “political speech”? ~Bob.)

Excerpt: President Obama is announcing today that despite the fact that the Senate is not in recess, he’s going to recess appoint Richard Cordray to be the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), created under the Dodd-Frank Act. Of course the President is actually claiming that the Senate isn’t in session and that its “pro forma” sessions are just a “gimmick”. Funny I don’t remember then Senator Obama complaining about gimmicks when the Senate used the same tactics to block Bush recess appointments. … The Dodd-Frank Act is very clear, even a law professor can probably under this section, that authorities under the Act remain with the Treasury Secretary until the Director is “confirmed by the Senate”.

Oil industry: 'Huge political consequences' if pipeline rejected
Excerpt: A top oil industry official delivered a clear warning to President Obama Wednesday: approve the Keystone XL pipeline or face “huge political consequences. American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard urged Obama to quickly approve the pipeline, which would carry oil sands crude from Alberta, Canada, to refineries along the Gulf Coast.

Excerpt: When President Obama's Department of Justice (DOJ) defends Obama's "recess appointment" -- made today after the Senate adjourned yesterday -- his lawyers will have to argue against the position they took on recess appointments last year, during a Supreme Court hearing. Deputy Solicitor General Neal Katyal told Chief Justice John Roberts that "the [congressional] recess has to be longer than 3 days" for the president to have the power to make a recess appointment, recalls House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, while criticizing Obama's recess appointment of Richard Cordray to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. (The GOP needs to litigate this. When the Constitution means w2hatever the president says at a given moment, you no longer have a constitution. ~Bob.)

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