Saturday, December 5, 2009

Political Digest for December 5, 2009

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

GOP senator unveils how-to guide for obstructing health care reform
Excerpt: New Hampshire Republican Senator Judd Gregg has circulated a letter to his Senate colleagues, instructing them on how to use the rules of Senate debate to delay and perhaps even defeat the health care bill being debated in the upper chamber. The letter, obtained by The Hill (PDF), TalkingPointsMemo and Politico (PDF), among others, runs through numerous procedural rules that would allow the Republican minority to hold up progress on the health bill. It will likely add fuel to arguments by supporters of health care reform that the GOP's goal in the debate is to block Democrats from making progress on the issue.

Talks on future of public option in healthcare bill intensify in the Senate
Excerpt: Senate Democrats from the liberal and centrist factions are engaged in increasingly urgent talks aimed at bridging the divide within the party over the public option in the healthcare reform bill. With the end of the year rapidly approaching and no agreement over whether the bill should create a government-run insurance program – or at least what form it should take – Democrats said Thursday they are deepening their resolve to unite the party and renewing their efforts to court Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe (Maine). “Our caucus now is in the process of negotiating with ourselves because we need all 60 of us to get this done. And this issue is being negotiated as we speak,” said Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), a centrist who opposes the public option in the Senate healthcare bill. “We knew this day would come and it has come.” (She’s just bidding up the price of her vote.)

Reid's recipe for getting health-care deal done
Excerpt: Of the Democratic senators who have set out to transform the nation's health-care system, one of the least likely is Majority Leader Harry M. Reid, whose legislative priorities typically fall more toward protecting the interests of his native Nevada.

Democracy won in Honduras, now Obama can help it advance
Excerpt: This past weekend, a tiny Central American country proved to the world that democracy and freedom are alive and well in Latin America, despite attempts by thugocrats like Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and others to destroy it. Last Sunday, the people of Honduras went to the polls in a peaceful, fair and free election to vote for their next president. Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo won the presidential election with 56 percent of the vote and has vowed to unify Hondurans in the wake of former President Manuel Zelaya’s removal last June. With this election, the people of Honduras have rejected Chavez and Zelaya’s anti-freedom and anti-American vitriol and instead have embraced freedom, democracy, and the rule of law. While Chavez has bought or stolen elections in countries like Argentina, Bolivia, and Nicaragua, the people of Honduras did not allow him to manipulate their democratic process. (Unfortunately, BO supports the leftist who wanted to become “President for Life.” Maybe he does as well?)

Obama Can Win in Afghanistan If the president keeps his nerve, he'll get the country's support.
Excerpt: By Karl Rove. President Barack Obama's speech on Tuesday night deserves to be cheered. Over the objections of his vice president and despite opposition from his political base, the president is sending an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan to fight terrorists. But praise for Mr. Obama's decision needs to be qualified. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, had said he could use as many as 40,000 troops, a figure he arrived at after carefully evaluating what would be needed to accomplish the mission Mr. Obama assigned him in June. Mr. Obama hopes NATO can make up the difference between troops he's sending and the top number Gen. McChrystal asked for. So far, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has rounded up 5,000 additional forces that can be sent to Afghanistan, but they may not have the combat capabilities Gen. McChrystal needs. Mr. Obama also announced he would begin withdrawing the surge troops in 18 months. While he didn't specify the pace and end date of that drawdown and made it conditional on where things stand at the time, setting an arbitrary date will likely embolden our enemies and raise questions about our commitment to the war.

USA Today/Gallup Poll: Majority support Obama's Afghan strategy
Excerpt: In the first major poll of U.S. public opinion since President Obama's speech Tuesday detailing his new Afghan strategy, a narrow majority of Americans said that they backed the president's plan. The USA Today/Gallup survey of 1,005 adults, conducted Wednesday, also showed that Americans continue to harbor doubts about the government's ability to address problems at home, given its commitments abroad Obama's plan was favored by 51 percent of those surveyed, with 40 percent opposing it and "little consensus" on the plan's details, according to USA Today.

A Call to Arms so Ambivalent and Dispiriting
Excerpt: We shall fight in the air, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields, we shall fight in the hills — for 18 months. Then we start packing for home. We shall never surrender — unless the war gets too expensive, in which case, we shall quote Eisenhower on "the need to maintain balance in and among national programs" and then insist that "we can't simply afford to ignore the price of these wars." The quotes are from President Obama's West Point speech announcing the Afghanistan troop surge. What a strange speech it was — a call to arms so ambivalent, so tentative, so defensive.

Sen. Nelson vows to block healthcare bill without Stupak-type abortion measure
Excerpt: Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) told reporters Thursday that he would not vote to advance healthcare reform legislation unless it includes language that would restrict access to abortions for women who receive federal subsidies. Nelson’s stance puts Democratic leaders in a difficult position as they brace for difficult votes on two amendments to their healthcare legislation. The Senate will soon consider an amendment offered by Nelson that would be similar to the abortion amendment sponsored by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) that the House adopted last month. The Senate will also consider an amendment offered by Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) that would allow drug re-importation, a popular proposal that could derail a delicate alliance President Barack Obama forged with the pharmaceutical industry.

The Fix—The Youth (idiot) Vote
They don’t like what he’s doing on the three major issues, but they like what he’s doing over-all? What, making speeches and being cool? Excerpt: President Obama remains popular among the young -- ages 18-29 -- voters who helped catapult him into office but that bloc is far less enthusiastic about some of his policies, according to a new online survey conducted for Harvard's Institute of Politics. Nearly six in ten young adults approve of how Obama has handled the job while 39 percent disapprove. On hot button issues like the economy (52 percent disapprove), health care (52 percent disapprove) and Afghanistan (55 percent disapprove) there is far more pessimism about the chief executive. In fact, two thirds of young adults opposed a troop increase in Afghanistan -- the very policy that the president announced in a speech to the country earlier this week. Those sorts of numbers suggest that there is a real possibility of dampening in enthusiasm among young people toward Obama come 2012; the 2009 Virginia and New Jersey governors races already showed significant drop-offs in the youth vote from 2008.

Climategate: The chickens are coming home to roost
Excerpt: In the U.S., over at Pennsylvania State University, the student newspaper, The Daily Collegian, reports that the university is conducting an inquiry into the controversy surrounding Penn State meteorology professor Dr. Michael Mann (creator of the infamous “hockey stick” graph), whose leaked emails have sparked an international debate over whether he and his colleagues distorted data on global warming. The e-mails appeared to suggest that the researchers—including Dr. Mann—had fabricated or manipulated data on global warming. Dr. Mann told Collegian reporter Laura Nichols that he “understands the process and is glad the university is taking appropriate action.” "I would be disappointed if the university wasn't doing all they can to get as much information as possible," Mann said. "I'm very happy they're doing it." Sure he is.

The Global Warming Bulldozer
Excerpt: To those who think that the revelations about the massive international fraud called “global warming”, now called “climate change”, will deter the efforts of those who have devoted years and millions to convince the public that drastic measures must be taken to “save the Earth”, let me put you straight on that topic. A vast Green bulldozer of propaganda will be let loose upon everyone watching television, reading newspapers and magazines, or visiting websites in order to smear those standing up against this juggernaut of foundations, environmental organizations, government agencies, and the central organizer of the fraud, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. A legion of “science” and other reporters will do everything in their power to “explain” the many emails between the perpetrators of the “global warming” fraud and to repeat the lies that underwrite the passage of laws such as “cap-and-trade” and the Obamacare legislation, both of which are a dagger aimed at the heart of the American economy.

Americans appropriately skeptical of climate scientists
Excerpt: For a sober and clear-sighted account of the Climategate scandal, check out this excellent article by my American Enterprise Institute colleague Kenneth Green. Here are two of his concluding paragraphs: “Science is vitally important for the operation of a highly technological society, and that science must be open and transparent, and must adhere to the scientific method and the institution of science, which has no place in it for hiding data, hiding data-processing, shaping data to conform to pre-existing beliefs, undermining the peer-review process, cherry-picking reports in order to slant political IPCC reports, or slandering critics by comparing them with flat-Earthers, moon-landing conspiracy theorists, or holocaust deniers.

The Cyber-Threat Grows
Excerpt: Cyber-attacks are weapons of mass disruption, used by adversaries cloaked in anonymity that could prove at least temporarily crippling to the digital infrastructure of modern society. This kind of attack is attractive to America's enemies, not only because it allows weaker entities to take on far stronger ones but because it turns our technological strength into a weakness, says John P. Avlon, a Senior Fellow with the Manhattan Institute…. Every day, the U.S. Department of Defense detects 3 million unauthorized computer probes of its networks, while the State Department fends off 2 million.

The Definition of Economic Insanity
Excerpt: In January 2008, the United States economy employed 138.1 million people and the unemployment rate stood at 4.9%. But the powers in Washington thought deficit spending could boost a slowing economy, so Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) passed and President George Bush signed a $168 billion economic stimulus bill made up of temporary tax cuts and increased mortgage grantees for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. By January 2009 that economic stimulus worked so well that the U.S. economy had lost 3.5 million jobs and the unemployment rate stood at 7.6%. Again the powers in Washington thought deficit spending was the answer, so Speaker Nancy Pelosi and newly minted President Barack Obama dialed up $787 billion in temporary tax cuts and permanent spending increases. Ten months later, the U.S. economy has now shed another 3.59 million jobs and the unemployment rate stand at 10%.

West Point “Days of Rage”: Speaking Lies to Power
Excerpt: In 1969 a brilliant law student stood in a park in Chicago and gave a speech about Vietnam. Her friends burned flags and hurled obscenities at the U.S. Military. The United States fell prey to this Marxist propaganda, and millions of our fellow human beings were slaughtered or enslaved when we abandoned the Vietnamese people. Forty years later, a brilliant lawyer from Chicago, now our President, stood before the U.S. Military and gave the same speech about Vietnam. He did outline his plan for the War in Afghanistan, but Obama’s most important message for our soldiers at West Point was an echo from the park, from the Days of Rage

Nancy Pelosi, The Nation’s Flower Girl
Excerpt: I think that the best segment by far on “The O’Reilly Factor” belongs to the political comedian Dennis Miller. He deserves more than the 3 or 4 minutes a week of air time that O’Reilly gives him. Last night, for example, Miller captured President Obama’s West Point speech perfectly. Referring to Obama’s rhetorical flourishes covering his plan to start withdrawing troops by mid-2011, Miller said that Obama was throwing in an “embroidered” towel. And Miller said that he thought he saw the White House party crashers in the West Point audience dressed as cadets. But perhaps his best line was reserved for the self-important Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who never saw a redistributionist tax that she did not like. This pompous spendthrift spent roughly $3,000 of taxpayers’ money on flowers alone for her office between June and October of this year. Miller joked that the flowers should be used to adorn her political grave. Apparently, the 17 percent of Americans who are currently either out of work altogether or who are under-employed are supposed to feel better that their House Speaker’s office is bedecked in flowers. At least there are florists in Washington, D.C. who will remain fully employed as long as Pelosi remains the Speaker.

The Pretense of Knowledge
Excerpt: How can they possibly know what's the best use of your earnings, particularly in light of the fact that they have no idea of who you are? Neither you nor the U.S. Congress has the complete knowledge to know exactly what's best for you. The difference is that when individuals make their own trade-offs, say between purchasing health insurance or investing in a business, they make wiser decisions because it is they who personally bear the costs and benefits of those decisions. You say, "Hold it, Williams, we've got you now! What if that person gets really sick and doesn't have health insurance. Society suffers the burden of taking care of him." To the extent that is a problem, it is not a problem of liberty; it's a problem of congressionally mandated socialism. Let's look at it. It is not society that bears the burden; it is some flesh and blood American worker who finds his earnings taken by Congress to finance the health needs of another person. There is absolutely no moral case, much less constitutional case, for Congress forcibly using one American to serve the purposes of another American, a practice that differs only in degree from slavery, which we all should find morally offensive.

Hertz sued over Muslim prayers
Excerpt: Hertz Global Holdings Inc., the second-largest U.S. rental car company, was sued by former employees who say its policy of allowing Muslims to take daily prayer breaks discriminates against non-Muslim workers.

Feds dropped case against Hasan's jihadist imam in 2002
Excerpt: "ABC reported that the decision to cancel al-Awlaki's arrest warrant outraged members of a Joint Terrorism Task Force in San Diego who monitored the imam and wanted the opportunity to 'look at him under a microscope.'"

UK: Muslim teen gang members boast about becoming suicide bombers
Kids—they blow up so fast! Didn’t get the Islam-is-a-religion-of-peace memo.

Jihad/martyrdom bomber disguised as veiled woman murders 3 Somali cabinet ministers
Excerpt: Burka burka Muhammad jihad. Isn't it great that in America we're busy removing obstacles to veiling? "Blast Kills 3 Somali Cabinet Ministers," by Jeffrey Gettleman and Mohamed Ibrahim for the New York Times, December 3.

New White House Counsel Was Defender of ACORN, Waged Legal Battle on Negative Ads
Excerpt: The incoming White House counsel will carry a reputation for hardball tactics into his new job. As President Barack Obama’s election attorney, Robert Bauer staunchly defended ACORN against political attacks, sought investigations of political opponents and pressed TV and radio stations to stop running ads critical of the Democratic nominee.

Gibbs Compares Black Female Reporter to His Child

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