Saturday, January 30, 2010

Political Digest January 31, 2010

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.

So long, Todd. The machine, at least, will miss you,0,7096110.column
Another inside view by John Kass as to how Blagobamaville works. Excerpt: Two years ago, former state Senate President Emil Jones was retiring. The longtime African-American Democratic leader, who set Barack Obama on the path to the White House, installed his own son to take his seat. Jones answered the media howls of indignation by ticking off a string of mostly Irish Democratic families, many shrouded in heroic mythology. "I recall John F. Kennedy, president of the United States, when he became president, he recommended his brother, right?" Jones pointedly said. "And his brother was elected (to the Senate). "Mayor Richard M. Daley begot Mayor Richard J. Daley," Jones continued. "Dan Hynes — by former state Sen. Tom Hynes. Mike Madigan, Lisa Madigan. So that's nothing new." Everybody knows by now that Lisa Madigan was installed as Illinois attorney general by her father, House Speaker Mike Madigan. Would Lisa be in the spot if she came from a different family and if her name were, say, Lisa Kapowski? And how would Rich Daley make a living if his name were, say, Dick Krapnik

The Obama honeymoon with France over?
Excerpt: A honeymoon had been announced. A year ago, Nicolas Sarkozy didn’t hide his satisfaction at seeing Barack Obama become his American counterpart. … Alas, after Barack Obama arrived at the White House in January 2009, he didn’t keep all of his promises to the French, as they quickly collided with the the freshly-elected leader’s distance. Their first telephone contact didn’t occur as quickly as first anticipated and, above all, despite his insistence, Nicolas Sarkozy didn’t have the honor of being the first chief of state to be received by President Obama, who preferred Gordon Brown. … Commentaries highlighted a growing contrast between the two men, the small and the large, the nervous and the calm, the spontaneous and the reflective. In a Hollywoodish metaphor, Newsweek would compare Nicolas Sarkozy to the “diminutive tough-guy, actor Joe Pesci -all twitches and attitude – playing opposite Denzel Washington – all dignity and reserve.” But beyond issues of ego, several subjects undermine relations between the two presidents. The economic crisis initially revealed profound differences. The French president, who sought to be at the forefront of combating the crisis, hasn’t spared the United States where, he has repeated, the crisis began. To remedy it, he proposed an overhaul of the global financial system and wanted to legislate it. Barack Obama wouldn’t hear of this, preferring that Europe concentrate on a stimulus. A number of other international issues also increased the friction.

Harkin: Health deal was reached days before Brown's Senate victory
Excerpt: Sen. Tom Harkin, the chairman of the Senate Health Committee, said negotiators from the White House, Senate and House reached a final deal on healthcare reform days before Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts. Labor leaders had announced an agreement with White House and congressional representatives over an excise tax on high-cost insurance plans on the Thursday before the special election. The latest revelation shows how agonizingly close Democrats came to passing a final healthcare bill in time for President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address. But Sen.-Elect Brown’s stunning victory on Jan. 19 gave Republicans control of 41 seats in the Senate, enough to sustain a GOP filibuster of the healthcare bill. (Of course, Harkin also claimed he flew heroic combat missions in Vietnam, and that turned out to not be true.)

You’ll think this is a joke about statist government run wild
Bad week for Equal-opportunity employment, after a British government-run jobs center rejected an ad from a company specifying that applicants “must be very reliable and hardworking.” A government official told the company that it could get sued “for discriminating against unreliable people.”

GOP lawmakers to try to block federal funds for 9/11 prosecutions
Excerpt: Amid fears that the White House may move the terrorist trials connected with September 11, 2001, to the Washington, D.C., region, GOP lawmakers are planning to introduce legislation that would bar the use federal funds for their prosecution in any U.S. civilian court. The move comes as the White House, met with growing opposition, has reportedly begun considering alternative locations to the originally planned federal district court in downtown Manhattan to try the professed 9/11 “mastermind” Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four co-defendants. The legislation expected to be introduced early next week is sponsored by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), whose district borders Washington, D.C., and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and would prohibit funding for any Justice Department prosecution in civilian courts of a person being tried in connection with the 9/11 attacks.

Price says Obama and his aides have said Republicans have ‘no ideas’ on health care
Excerpt: During an exchange with President Barack Obama at a Republican retreat in Baltimore, Rep. Tom Price, a Republican from Georgia, complained that Obama has been hostile toward GOP suggestions on health care. “You have repeatedly said, most recently at — at the State of the Union, that Republicans have offered no ideas and no solutions,” Price said on Jan. 29, 2010. “I don’t think I said that,” Obama replied. “What I said was within the context of health care — I remember that speech pretty well. It was only two days ago. . . . I said I’d welcome ideas that you might provide. I didn’t say that you haven’t provided ideas. I said I’d welcome those ideas that you’ll provide.” Price then said, “Mr. President, multiple times from your administration there have come statements that Republicans have no ideas and no solutions, in spite of the fact that we’ve offered, as demonstrated today, positive solutions to all of the challenges we face, including energy and the economy and health care.”

Taxpayers pay $101,000 for Pelosi’s in-flight ‘food, booze’
Recession? Deficit? Never heard of it. Excerpt: It reads like a dream order for a wild frat party: Maker’s Mark whiskey, Courvoisier cognac, Johnny Walker Red scotch, Grey Goose vodka, E&J brandy, Bailey’s Irish Crème, Bacardi Light rum, Jim Beam whiskey, Beefeater gin, Dewars scotch, Bombay Sapphire gin, Jack Daniels whiskey … and Corona beer. But that single receipt makes up just part of the more than $101,000 taxpayers paid for “in-flight services” – including food and liquor, for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trips on Air Force jets over the last two years. That’s almost $1,000 per week.

Scott Brown: 'People Aren't Stupid'
Excerpt: When I arrived at his cramped state senate offices, Scott Brown had just opened one of the many packages he's received since his stunning U.S. Senate victory 11 days ago. A local artist has done up a version of the iconic red, white and blue collage from the 2008 presidential campaign that shows Barack Obama with the word "Hope." This one features a smiling Mr. Brown instead, but the word below is different. It reads "Change. By filling the seat vacated by liberal lion Ted Kennedy in a state Mr. Obama carried by 26 points barely over a year ago, Mr. Brown has certainly changed the political landscape. We sit down the morning after President Obama's State of the Union message, an address in large part shaped by what's been called "the Scott Heard 'Round the World." Mr. Obama uncharacteristically recognized some unforced errors in pushing his liberal agenda, along with expressing some new flexibility on issues ranging from small business tax cuts to offshore oil drilling to nuclear power. Settling into a pinkish-red upholstered chair that looks like what it is—a castoff from a state furniture inventory—Mr. Brown reflects on his new celebrity. "I have to rely on who I've been and still am. I'm still the guy who works out at the YMCA and hangs out at the coffee shop," he says. "The way to handle the attention is to fall back on normalcy." But he knows things are no longer normal. A few hours after we talk he will appear on Jay Leno's TV show. His daughter Ayla—the one who performed on "American Idol"—has been offered a job by a major TV network. And the symbols that propelled his campaign forward are now a part of popular culture. On the day we meet, the Boston Globe has a lengthy article on the meaning of the brown leather "barn coat" he wore on the campaign trail. And then there is the pickup truck he drove around the state, which has become a symbol of his authenticity and "Everyman" origins as a kid who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks and was scared straight by a judge after he was caught shoplifting as a 12-year-old. The key to Mr. Brown's victory was politically independent voters in the Bay State, who favored him by 3-1. So how should other candidates court the independent vote, which in most parts of the country is growing faster than that of either major party? "People out there are disgusted," he says, shaking his head. "Especially with any one party dominating government and talking down to them. They want straight talk, no BS. A focus on jobs and what really creates them. They want problem solvers in office, and it helped me that I was able to show I could work with Democrats in the legislature." That last point has not gotten the attention it deserves. For all of the excitement Mr. Brown generated among conservatives, his actual legislative record reveals a man who rejects ideological rigidity on most issues.

Obama Was Wrong and Alito Was Right
Excerpt: During his first State of the Union speech on Wednesday, President Barack Obama incorrectly stated that foreign nationals and foreign entities can now contribute unlimited amounts of money to U.S. political campaigns because of a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling lifting certain campaign finance restrictions. This prompted an immediate reaction from Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, who, sitting directly in front of the president, shook his head and apparently mouthed the words “not true” when Obama made his remark. The high court’s 5-4 ruling in a First Amendment case, Citizens United vs. Federal Elections Commission (FEC), lifted restrictions for companies, unions, and other organizations to make independent expenditures in political campaigns. The court decision, however does not allow corporations to contribute directly to a campaign or coordinate expenditures with a campaign. Nor did the ruling lift existing law that blocks foreign contributions to political campaigns. In his speech, Obama also claimed the court reversed 100 years of law when, in fact, it overturned a 1990 decision in Austin vs. Michigan Chamber of Commerce. Also, parts of the McCain-Feingold reform bill from 2002 that restricted independent political advertising in the closing days of an election were struck down.

Former Secretary of Treasury Paulson Explains Where Money Comes From

Russia's real threat? Failure
Excerpt: There's an old saying, familiar to historians and foreign policy practitioners, that "geography is destiny." A modern twist to this rule is that demography is no less decisive.
Russia is finding this out the hard way. Over the past several years, under the direction of former President (and current Prime Minister) Vladimir Putin and his handpicked protege, Dmitry Medvedev, Russia may have re-emerged on the international scene with a vengeance. But behind all of the Kremlin's contemporary geopolitical bluster, the successor state of the once-mighty Soviet Union is caught in a demographic and socioeconomic death spiral. The numbers tell the story. The population of the Russian Federation is estimated to be declining by about three-quarters of a million people every year. At this rate, the Russian Federation could number just 100 million souls by the middle of this century. Further in the future, the picture gets even gloomier. Russian officials such as Sergei Mironov, chairman of the Federation Council, Russia's upper house of Parliament, have predicted that the population of Russia could dip to 52 million people by 2080 if its current demographic trajectory is not altered.

Autocrats Of The World, Rejoice!
Excerpt: In Beijing General Secretary Hu Jintao is sporting a big grin. Kim Jong Il is breaking out another case of his favorite Hennessy in North Korea. And in Tehran, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is celebrating in, well, the way that dour theocrats kick up their heels, however they manage to do that. The cause for all this cheer? On Wednesday Barack Obama delivered his first State of the Union message, and although he surely did not intend to do so, he essentially let these villains--and others--know they can do whatever they want. The president unfortunately will not be doing much to stop them from destabilizing the international system--or even from threatening the United States. America, whether it should be or not, is a nation at war. There are two obvious ones, Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as a general struggle against Islamic fanaticism taking place across the globe. Then there are especially consequential confrontations. Two nuclear rogues--North Korea and Iran--threaten to upend everything, while others--Syria comes to mind--wait in the wings.

Obama administration takes several wrong paths in dealing with terrorism
Excerpt: In the war on terrorism, this country faces an enemy whose theory of warfare ends the hard-won distinction in modern thought between combatant and noncombatant. In doing that for which we have created government -- ensuring life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness -- how can we be adequately aggressive to ensure the first value, without unduly threatening the other two? This is hard. And people don't have to be lazy or stupid to get it wrong. We got it wrong in Detroit on Christmas Day. We allowed an enemy combatant the protections of our Constitution before we had adequately interrogated him. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is not "an isolated extremist." He is the tip of the spear of a complex al-Qaeda plot to kill Americans in our homeland.

Ex-con Ojore Nuru Lutalo arrested on Amtrak when passengers report him talking Al Qaeda, terrorism
Didn’t get the memo. Excerpt: Passengers riding with him Tuesday heard Lutalo speaking on his cell phone, declaring he hadn't killed anyone yet and demanding cooperation from a purported cohort. "We have to work in small groups," he was quoted as saying in an affidavit. "They can hold you for 18 months. Do they have security on these trains? Are you with me or not?" Lutalo later mentioned Al Qaeda before saying "17th century tactics won't work. We have 21st century tactics….The suspect - also known as Leroy Bunting - was freed in August after serving a 27-year term for aggravated assault, robbery and weapons possession.

Human rights group: Hamas targeted civilians
This calls for an emergency session of the UN to condemn Israel again. Excerpt: A leading human rights group has disputed Hamas claims that it did not target civilians during last year's Gaza war. Human Rights Watch says Hamas' contention that it aimed its hundreds of rockets at Israeli military targets and only accidentally harmed civilians is contradicted by the facts.

Jews flee Malmö as anti-Semitism grows
Excerpt: Threats and harassment are becoming increasingly commonplace for Jewish residents in Malmö in southern Sweden, leading many Jews to leave the city out of fear for their safety.

No More Honor Killings
Excerpt: The news from Bangladesh is that a teenage girl was recently punished with 101 lashes after she was raped and impregnated. Village elders apparently decide such matters in rural Bangladesh where Sharia law prevails. The girl's family quickly married her off but when the pregnancy emerged her husband demanded a divorce and reparations. So the elders issued a series of fatwas against the girl's family, fining the father and expelling the family from the village. Oh, and they pardoned the rapist. You may feel that we have no business worrying about what happens in remotest Bangladesh, but since we are at war on multiple fronts against such people, or rather they are with us, we'd do well to know our enemy. Why do these outrages occur so consistently in the Muslim world, you might ask, and does it tell us some ineradicable truth about the nature of Islam? Abuses like these are not exclusive to Islam but in no other culture these days are they actually upheld by authorities citing formal tenets of justice.

Bahrain has no plans to close legal loophole allowing for child brides
Excerpt: "The government prompted a storm of controversy last year when it pushed through a law which set the minimum marriage age for girls at 15. Lawmakers from the largest opposition bloc in the Bahraini Parliament had opposed the legislation, saying it went against Islamic principles." Now wait a minute. Islamic apologists in the West are forever telling us that Aisha was not nine years old when Muhammad consummated his marriage with her, and that only greasy Islamophobes think otherwise. Yet the largest opposition bloc in the Bahraini Parliament seems to be full of greasy Islamophobes, since the only "Islamic principles" that would lead them to oppose setting the minimum marriage age for girls at fifteen arise from Muhammad's example in marrying Aisha.

Political Digest January 30, 2010

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.

Despite testy exchanges, GOPs applaud Obama for meeting
Excerpt: House Republican leaders largely praised President Barack Obama after they engaged in a testy 90-minute exchange with the commander-in-chief on Friday. Like a boxer after a slugfest, GOP officials expressed respect for the president for being straightforward with them. But it's unclear whether the meeting, or Obama's pledge to hold monthly meetings with the minority, will overcome deep partisan divides that have left both sides mistrustful of the other's intentions. House GOP lawmakers left their meeting with Obama torn between hopeless frustration and renewed pride on Friday. On one hand, they disagreed with many of Obama's claims. On the other, they believe they made a step toward shedding the "party of no" label.

A Lobe Divided Will Not Stand
Excerpt: Barack Obama tiptoed Wednesday night along the seam that bifurcates the Democratic Party's brain. The seam separates that brain's John Quincy Adams lobe from its Sigmund Freud lobe. The dominant liberal lobe favors Adams' dictum that politicians should not be "palsied by the will of our constituents." It exhorts Democrats to smack Americans with what is good for them -- health care reform, carbon rationing, etc. -- even if the dimwits do not desire it. The other lobe whispers Freud's reality principle: Restrain your id -- the pleasure principle and the impulse toward immediate gratification. Settle for deferred and diminished but achievable results. Obama was mostly in Adams' mode Wednesday. His nods to reality were, however, notable. Such speeches must be listened to with a third ear that hears what is not said. Unmentioned was organized labor's "card check" legislation to abolish workers' rights to secret ballots in unionization elections. Obama's perfunctory request for a "climate bill" -- the term "cap-and-trade" was as absent as the noun "Guantanamo" -- was not commensurate with his certitude that life on Earth may drown in rising seas.

Divided Democrats shift strategy Thank you, Massachusetts. Excerpt: President Obama's State of the Union address seems to have done little to clarify the way forward for his agenda, as congressional Democrats are prepared to shift their focus to the economy but remain unsure how to complete health care or lift themselves out of the electoral doldrums. "The White House on Thursday signaled the outlines of its strategy for breaking the partisan logjam holding up President Obama's agenda," the New York Times reports, "saying Democrats would move quickly to underline their commitment to fixing the broken economy and to build an election-year case against Republicans if they do not cooperate." Rahm Emanuel tells the paper the White House hopes the Senate takes up a jobs bill next week, then Obama's proposal for a new fee on banks and then the financial regulatory reform bill before returning to health care. Politico observes "it's clear health care is already falling to the back of the legislative line, behind the Democrats' feverish new focus on jobs and the economy. Health care reform didn't even make the cut when ... Chuck Schumer ticked off the party's priorities Thursday." The Washington Post writes that "Democrats remained in disarray Thursday about how to move forward, with at least some pointing at the White House as the cause of the legislative standstill gripping Capitol Hill." On health care, Politico reports "the administration seems to have decided that they need to stop talking process and start emphasizing substance. ... Indeed, many Democrats feel that the relentless coverage of how reform is getting done- including legislative deal making and intraparty conflict - has cost the legislation much of its public support." Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid both vow that the party will still do health care, but there remains no consensus on how. The Wall Street Journal quotes the chairman of PhRMA saying "the group 'hasn't withdrawn support' for the version of health-care reform passed by the Senate, but that the Massachusetts election has 'thrown everything up in the air a bit.'"

Estimating The Fiscal Gap Using Generational Accounting
The good news for me is that I’m the leading edge of the Boomers and my health is bad. Excerpt: Taking into consideration all of the government's financial liabilities and projected future tax receipts, the current fiscal gap in the United States is estimated by Jagadeesh Gokhale of the Cato Institute and Kent Smetters of the University of Pennsylvania at $77 trillion -- more than five times the United States' present gross domestic product (GDP). In order to close a gap of this size, the Federal Insurance Contribution Act (FICA) payroll tax -- currently 15.3 percent -- would need to be more than doubled immediately and permanently. To understand how this figure can be so large, consider: There are now roughly 33 million adults in the United States receiving retirement benefits. When the 78 million baby boomers retire, there will be more than twice the number of retirees receiving benefits than there are currently. While there will be a significant increase in those dependent on government programs like Social Security and Medicare when the boomers retire, there will only be about 2.7 workers per retiree to help pay the benefits -- down from 3.28 workers per retiree in 1985 and 3.43 in 2000.

A New Approach to Health Reform
But the Democrats—the party of No—will say “NO. This doesn’t reward Trial Lawyers or create more public bureaucracies and union employees, the prime goal of ObamaCare. Excerpt: Representative Paul Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin has applied the food stamps idea to health reform. In his Road Map for America's Future, reintroduced this month, Americans would take refundable tax credits - $2,300 for singles and $5,700 for families - and choose private insurance. All insurance plans that are licensed in a particular state would be eligible, and each company would be free to set its own premiums. Low-income individuals would get extra tax credits so they could buy the same kind of health care as other Americans. Medicare would remain the same for current beneficiaries and for those 55 and older when they reach 65. But when those born in 1955 or later become eligible for Medicare at age 65, their plan would change. They would receive $11,000, adjusted for inflation, to buy a Medicare certified plan. Those with lower incomes or with more serious health conditions would receive more funding. Under Mr. Ryan's plan, health insurance companies could offer high-deductible plans carrying lower premiums combined with health savings accounts, or more traditional managed care or fee-for-service plans. Persons with high-cost chronic illnesses, such as hemophilia or diabetes, would be placed in special affordable state high risk pools, with subventions paid by the government. On Wednesday, Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf wrote to Mr. Ryan to tell him that this plan reduced health care costs and the federal deficit. He said: "Under the proposal, national health expenditures would almost certainly be lower than they would under the alternative fiscal scenario. Federal spending for health care would be substantially lower, relative to the amount in that scenario, for working-age people and the Medicare population." Another approach along the lines of food stamps is the Empowering Patients First Act, H.R. 3400, sponsored by Georgia Representative Tom Price, a physician and chairman of the House Republican Study Committee, which seeks to insure more people and cut costs. Like the Ryan bill, it would insure more people by letting individuals take tax deductions for health insurance premiums that they pay, just as employers do. Workers with employer-paid insurance could retain it. Low-income individuals would be given refundable tax credits in advance to help them pay premiums. States would be required to set up subsidized risk pools for those with chronic conditions who might otherwise be uninsurable. The most innovative aspect of the Price bill allows - but does not require - employers to offer a monetary sum to workers so that they can purchase whatever insurance plan they choose in the open market, similar to defined contribution pension plans. Employers would still enjoy the same tax benefit for providing coverage, tax-free to the employee, but workers would be able to choose from an entire range of options, policies that they could carry with them when they change jobs. Now employees are generally limited to one plan, sponsored by their employer, and lose that coverage when they change jobs. The contrast with the Democrats' health care plan could not be starker. Rather than turn the insurance industry into a federally-controlled public utility, the Republican plans would allow all Americans, including recipients of Medicare, Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program, to shop around and purchase health insurance on the open market - just like food stamp recipients take their debit cards to grocery stores.

SOTU: Obama's dream dead in less than 15 hours
Excerpt: Less than 15 hours after President Obama promised a three-year freeze on non-defense discretionary spending, Senate Democrats went and killed the dream. With their 43 "no" votes, they blocked a bipartisan provision on Thursday that would have allowed only 1 percent spending growth in the categories President Obama intended. Without even giving Republicans a chance to obstruct, congressional Democrats did it themselves. They repudiated not only the president's spending freeze and his call to fiscal responsibility, but also nearly every positive hope he expressed in his State of the Union Address for change in Washington. For example, Obama called for an end to obstruction of anything that can't get 60 votes in the Senate. He also denounced the "perpetual campaign" into which American politics has devolved. But by blocking a bipartisan spending freeze that could get only 56 Senate votes, liberals in Congress have ensured that the next nine months will be a perpetual campaign

New twist in UEA climate change row
Hiding the truth. Excerpt: Norwich's flagship university was at the centre of a new row today after it emerged it broke the law by refusing to hand over its raw data for public scrutiny in the climate change row over stolen emails. The reputation of the University of East Anglia's world renowned climatic research unit (CRU)was shaken to the core last year after emails posted on the internet from researchers including its director Prof Phil Jones appeared to suggest ways of avoiding freedom of information requests together with a “trick” to explain away an apparent fall in global temperatures.

Vietnam’s Covert War Against Overseas Buddhists
Ungrateful Commie bastards, considering we now know the Buddhist protests against Diem were on behalf of the North. Excerpt: Vietnam has waged a brutal overt and covert war against its Buddhist population for decades. In 1981, they officially outlawed their country’s oldest and original Buddhist Church, the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV). The communists attacked the 2000-year-old tradition and created an alternative state-controlled Buddhist Church

McConnell: End Federal Gag Order on Medicare Cuts
Do we still have the First Amendment? Did I miss something?

Russia's first stealth fighter makes maiden flight
But, but, President Wobbly stopped production of the F-22, I thought? Excerpt: Russia's first stealth fighter intended to match the latest U.S. design made its maiden flight Friday, boosting the country's efforts to modernize its rusting Soviet-built arsenals and retain its lucrative export market. The Sukhoi T-50's flight comes nearly two decades after the first prototype of the U.S. F-22 Raptor took to the air, and Russian officials said it will take another five years for the new jet to enter service. Still, the flight marked a major step in Russia's efforts to burnish the faded glory of its aviation industries and strengthen a beleaguered military. The sleek twin-engined jet closely resembling the Raptor flew for 47-minutes from an airfield at Sukhoi's production plant in the Far Eastern city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur on Friday. Development of the so-called fifth-generation fighter has been veiled in secrecy and no images of it had been released before the flight.

Obituary: Dr. Teresa J. Vietti: pioneer in children's cancer
I include this for the bold throw-away line. One of the tens of thousands of forgotten Communist murders we fought against. Excerpt: Teresa and Ardel Vietti were twins who went their separate ways to become medical doctors. Teresa became an internationally known specialist in children's cancer at Washington University School of Medicine and St. Louis Children's Hospital. Ardel became a surgeon and a missionary in Vietnam. She was kidnapped by the Viet Cong in 1962 and hasn't been seen since. Dr. Teresa J. Vietti died Monday (Jan. 25, 2010) at Missouri Baptist Medical Center in Town and Country. She died of natural causes and had been in declining health for months, Washington University officials said in announcing her death. She was 82 and lived in Webster Groves.

Good catch from a Marine buddy
From the State of the Union address..."We find unity in our incredible diversity, drawing on the promise enshrined in our Constitution, the notion that we're all created equal..." Gee, that's neat... a great part of the heritage from our Founders. One tiny detail.... it doesn't say that in the Constitution, it says that in the Declaration of Independence. You'd think a Law School graduate and supposed constitutional scholar might have known that. Personally, I seriously doubt that he has any idea of what James Madison, author of our Constitution, wrote, to wit- "The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite." Oh well, I know, I'm just picky, picky, picky. –Del

Health Care Reform Vaporizes Obama Presidency
Excerpt: In the fledgling days of the personal computer industry, software vendors frequently announced products that were not yet ready for release. The term "vaporware" was coined to describe such software. Most of these products never reached the marketplace; some that were sold to the public should not have been. The recent health care reform effort was nothing more than a modern-day, political version of vaporware -- or, more aptly, VaporCare. The VaporCare bill never reached a point where it was ready for "release." In software terminology, the legislation was nothing but "spaghetti code." It was written by dozens of lawyers and congressional staffers. There was no guiding objective to the legislation other than "we must pass something quickly." No one, including the various writers of the bill, the Congress, or President Obama, had a comprehensive understanding of the legislation. The bill was a "moving target," changing whenever criticisms arose, decision-makers met, or vote-buying was required. Few of the ad hoc changes had anything to do with improving the quality of health care. As stated in "The Legend of Bagger Obama": At the end, there was no discernible logic behind the plan. Inconsistencies, deals, falsified data and outright lies were evident to anyone willing to look. Despite the problems and unpopularity, healthcare moved forward not unlike an ancient pagan ritual. Congressional Democrats [were willing to sacrifice] the best healthcare system in the world and the American taxpayer to their God, Bagger Obama.

Hanged at dawn: Iran executes two men arrested in presidential election unrest for 'waging war against God'
Excerpt: Two anti-government activists were executed in Iran today. In a crackdown on opposition supporters, officials said the two were hanged after being found guilty of waging war against God, trying to overthrow the Islamic establishment and being members of armed groups. Five others involved in protests over June's presidential election were sentenced to die.

Bin Laden blasts US for climate change
I started to list this as satire, but discovered it’s apparently true. Bin Laden is the new ally of bin Lyin (Al Gore’s al Qaeda name). Excerpt: Osama bin Laden sought to draw a wider public into his fight against the United States in a new message Friday, dropping his usual talk of religion and holy war and focusing instead on an unexpected topic: global warming.
The al-Qaida leader blamed the United States and other industrialized nations for climate change and said the only way to prevent disaster was to break the American economy, calling on the world to boycott U.S. goods and stop using the dollar

Administration drops plans to try alleged 9/11 conspirators in N.Y.C.
Another step towards sanity we may owe Massachusetts. But here’s my plan. Put KSM and I on a small Navy ship. I’ll try him, convict him and drop him over the side myself, all in secret to avoid giving him a platform, and his buddies a time and target to make a splash killing of Americans. No charge for my services. Just doing a good deed like the Boy Scout I once was. Excerpt: The Obama administration has abandoned its plan to put Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, on trial in Lower Manhattan, according to administration officials. The reversal marks the latest setback for an administration that has been buffeted at every turn as it seeks to close the military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. And without the backdrop of Ground Zero for a trial, the administration will also lose some of the rich symbolism associated with its attempt to forge a new approach to handling high-value al-Qaeda detainees. "New York is out," said an administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the decision had not yet been officially announced. "We're considering other options."

The handling of the Christmas Day bombing suspect: the scandal grows Seriously, it’s not too late to fix this. Someone fetch me a slant board, and old rag, some rope and a couple of gallons of water. Excerpt: The real scandal surrounding the failed Christmas Day airline bombing was not the fact that a terrorist got on a plane -- that can happen to any administration, as it surely did to the Bush administration -- but what happened afterward when Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was captured and came under the full control of the U.S. government. After 50 minutes of questioning him, the Obama administration chose, reflexively and mindlessly, to give the chatty terrorist the right to remain silent. Which he immediately did, undoubtedly denying us crucial information about al-Qaeda in Yemen, which had trained, armed and dispatched him. We have since learned that the decision to Mirandize Abdulmutallab had been made without the knowledge of or consultation with (1) the secretary of defense, (2) the secretary of homeland security, (3) the director of the FBI, (4) the director of the National Counterterrorism Center or (5) the director of national intelligence (DNI). The Justice Department acted not just unilaterally but unaccountably. Obama's own DNI said that Abdulmutallab should have been interrogated by the HIG, the administration's new High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group.

Stop the Trial of Geert Wilders
Europe and Canada don’t have the First Amendment. Excerpt: What started as a trial against Geert Wilders for alleged Islamophobia has nearly turned into its opposite: a historical case about the message of the Quran. The Amsterdam court trying the controversial Dutch politician is now preoccupied with the question of whether this book, sacred to more than a billion believers, can be compared to one of the most vile publications in the history of Western civilization—Hitler's "Mein Kampf." What could possibly go wrong? In his writing and speeches, Mr. Wilders has found these two works to be similar in terms of their anti-Semitism and incitement to hatred, and has thus called for a publishing ban on the Quran similar to the one in place for "Mein Kampf." This is what triggered Mr. Wilders's prosecution for discriminatory and insulting remarks against Muslims and Islam. The Dutch politician, though, denies having insulted Muslims. He insists his focus is on radical Islam and the Quran, which he considers to be not only a religious text but also a political pamphlet encouraging Muslims to discriminate against and, if necessary, kill Jews, Christians, apostates and other unbelievers. That's why Mr. Wilders claims the right to criticize and condemn Islam. Following complaints brought by mostly Muslim and radical leftist activists, Amsterdam's district attorney in 2008 at first found no legal basis for prosecuting Mr. Wilders. Prosecutors were forced to change course only after an activist appeals court last year ordered Mr. Wilders's prosecution—basically condemning the politician before any trial could even begin and before Mr. Wilders had a chance to defend himself. The court's unusual intervention illustrates the Dutch confusion about the conflict between two essential rights: the right to free speech and the right to protection from discrimination.

Uighurs returned to China 'disappear' says rights group
Maybe we should outsource the War on Terror to China. Excerpts: The Uighurs left Xinjiang after deadly fighting in July. China must account for the whereabouts of ethnic Uighurs forcibly repatriated from Cambodia, a US-based rights group has said. Human Rights Watch (HRW) said such groups had "disappeared into a black hole" on their return to China. The Uighurs fled to Cambodia after mass ethnic riots in China in July. Beijing has referred to them as criminals. In December, a group of 20 Uighurs were put on a plane to China despite opposition from the UN and US.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Political Digest January 29, 2010

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.

Obama will ask in State of Union for end to 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'
Excerpt: President Obama will call for a repeal of the law that forbids openly gay and lesbian people from serving in the military during Wednesday night's State of the Union address, according to a prepared text of the speech released by the White House. "This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are," Obama will say.

My take on the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” issue
This will hurt Obama with those who believe folks wake up and decide, “Hey, I’m sick of dating members of the opposite sex, I think I’ll become Gay.” It will help Obama with gays and his liberal base. My take is that if the right pounds too hard on it, it will help Obama. Polls show that the younger folks are increasingly tolerant of Gays, and indifferent to issues of Gay marriage. This is exactly the group that is turning against Obama as he tries to force them to buy health insurance they don’t want and saddles them with un-payable burden of national debt, that will kill their economic future. We don’t need to pound on issues that drive them back to his camp. Attitudes have changed in the middle of the electorate since Bill Clinton pushed this issue. And it is independents in the middle who will decide if Obama, Pelosi and Reid control the agenda in 2013, or if conservatives do. Remember, Obama said the same thing in 2008, and it didn’t hurt him in that campaign.

But I have a strong libertarian streak in my conservatism. I don’t want the government telling people they can’t own guns, adult movies or marry who they please. That said, I’ve always believed that being homosexual is something that happens to some people, like having blue eyes, and is not a choice. I don’t know any true heterosexual who ever gave a second’s thought to switching sides, no matter how angry or upset they were with their significant other or women/men in general. Therefore, I’ve always opposed discrimination against Gays. It’s not a choice or mental disturbance, like being a sociopath, Nazi or liberal.

And if the right pounds on it, they will bring out people like the Marine in the story below, hurting our side with the independents we need to win in 2010 and 2012.

Wounded ex-Marine now fighting a two-front war
Excerpt: Eric Alva lived and breathed the Marine Corps for 13 years. Then he earned a dubious slice of American history by becoming the first GI injured in the Iraq invasion in 2003. He stepped on a mine three hours after rolling into Iraq, breaking both legs, suffering a badly mangled right arm and being filled with shrapnel from torso to his legs. The picture-perfect Marine, who later lost part of his right leg and still carries 27 pieces of shrapnel, has evolved from a war hero photographed with President George W. Bush to one of the nation's prominent gay activists after coming out on ABC's “Good Morning America” on Feb. 27, 2007.

Obama's first State of the Union: Jobs must be our No. 1 focus
Well, there are proven ways to create jobs. Reduce Capital gains taxes as JFK did, to give business more money to invest in job creation. Reduce taxes on small businesses, the number one creators of private sector jobs. Reduce the cost of healthcare insurance on business and individuals by passing comprehensive national tort reform, and allowing insurance companies to sell insurance nationwide without the costly state by state mandates. But when he says jobs are the first priority, he means first after protecting trial lawyers, public unions and other special interests who contribute to Democrats. The unemployed are first—after all those good folks. So he’ll try another big government, big deficit stimulus plan ,the first one having created so many jobs in places that don’t even exist, as reported on Democrat websites.

Barbour: GOP chances better than in '94, but don't get complacent
Excerpt: Republicans shouldn’t take their upset victory in Massachusetts for granted, a senior party strategist told the Senate GOP conference Wednesday. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a former chairman of the national party, warned the group it can’t afford complacency or overconfidence, even with the wind seemingly at its back. Nothing is automatic in politics. Things change. Everybody needs to just run hard, hard, and take nothing for granted,” Barbour told The Hill shortly after he spoke to the conference during its half-day-long meeting at the Library of Congress. “But the environment today is better for Republicans in January of 2010 than it was in January of 1994,” he added. “The important thing I told them was that while today the environment is better than it was in ’94, the elections aren’t for 10 months. Lots can change, and they need to be thinking that nothing is carved in stone.”

RNC chief Steele opposes purity test for Republican candidates
This news will make Reid and Pelosi unhappy. A purity test would help defeat moderate Republicans in Blue States, thus helping liberals control the Congress after 2012. Excerpt: Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele said Wednesday that he opposes a controversial "purity" resolution that would keep party money from candidates deemed to be too moderate, all but ensuring the defeat of a proposal that divided GOP leaders as they opened their four-day winter meeting here Wednesday. The proposal, introduced by some of the RNC's more conservative members, would require that candidates publicly state their agreement with at least eight of 10 listed conservative positions -- ranging from taxes and immigration to same-sex marriage and gun control -- or lose party funding and support. Although Steele has not seen the final text of the resolution, named after the late president Ronald Reagan, he is siding with some two dozen state party chairmen who voted unanimously Wednesday to oppose it.

After Obama rips lobbyists, K St. insiders get private briefings
The old game—you get votes from the people promising to protect them from the “special interests,” and campaign money from the special interests like tral lawyers helping them screw the people who voted for you. Except: A day after bashing lobbyists, President Barack Obama’s administration has invited K Street insiders to join private briefings on a range of topics addressed in Wednesday’s State of the Union. The Treasury Department on Thursday morning invited selected individuals to “a series of conference calls with senior Obama administration officials to discuss key aspects of the State of the Union address.” The invitation, which went to a variety of stakeholders, was sent by Fred Baldassaro, a senior adviser at the Treasury Department’s Office of Business Affairs and Public Liaison. The invitation stated, “The White House is encouraging you to participate in these calls and will have a question and answer session at the end of each call. As a reminder, these calls are not intended for press purposes.” The calls are scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, with the first topic being job creation and economic growth. The last call, at 1 p.m., is on government reform and transparency. Republicans have criticized the Obama White House for not being more transparent in its discussions with Congress on healthcare reform. Obama recently acknowledged that the legislative process has not been as open as he promised on the campaign trail.

The Spending 'Freeze' That Isn't
But spending buys votes from favored groups. Excerpt: In last night's State of the Union address President Obama proposed a three-year "spending freeze" on what amounts to one-sixth of the federal budget. Our biggest entitlement programs, Social Security and Medicare, would be excluded. These changes are optical rather than substantive. Given the spending agenda that is already in place, we can expect to see large increases in the proportion of GDP that is spent by our government for years to come. Since 2008, the ratio of federal spending-to-GDP has risen by about 14%. From 2008 to 2009 we saw the greatest annual increase in spending in the last 30 years. In the name of stimulating job growth, the share of federal spending is now 24% of the economy, up from 21% in the last year of the Bush administration. My analysis of data from 1950 to the present shows that periods with high tax-to-GDP ratios exhibit much slower economic growth than lower tax ratio periods. The GDP growth in high tax years (defined as years during which the ratio of tax-to-GDP was above 18%, the 60-year average) was about 1.5 percentage points lower than the growth rate in low-tax years. High taxes are clearly bad for the U.S. economy. For example, were we to tax above the 18% tax-to-GDP ratio over the next 25 years, GDP per capita in 2035 would be about 50% less than if we were to tax below the 18% ratio. A 50% per capita GDP differential is about as large as the difference between the U.S. and Greece today.

A Dose of Reality, a Bid to Restore Magic
Excerpt: By now, President Obama can hardly be under any illusions about the depth of the partisan divide as he seeks to reboot his presidency. Yet he still seemed surprised on Wednesday night when he could not get Republicans to applaud tax cuts.Skip to next paragraph
As he boasted in his first State of the Union address that his economic program had cut taxes for 95 percent of working families, Democrats jumped to their feet to cheer. Republicans sat quietly. Mr. Obama paused as he glanced over to their side of the House chamber. “I thought I’d get some applause on that one,” he said. If Mr. Obama thought he could take the rostrum in the House chamber and restore his image as the change agent who came to Washington to end the politics of division, he received another reminder just how hard that will be. Mr. Obama tried to recapture the magic of his yes-we-can campaign after a season of no-we-can’t governing, but conceded little if any ground to critics on either the right or the left. It was a confident performance, more defiant than contrite, more conversational than soaring. He appealed to and scolded both parties, threatened vetoes, blamed his predecessor and poked fun at lawmakers.

A Speech Only Washington Could Love The more things change, the more things stay the same. A little over a year ago, President Barack Obama came to office expecting to pass a “big bang” of policy changes all in the first year: health care, cap-and-trade, and banking regulation. With the big-bang strategy officially a failure, President Obama’s State of the Union address last night desperately tried to keep all of these legislative efforts alive while also acknowledging that the country has firmly rejected his policy agenda. The result was an incoherent mess of promised tax cuts for small businesses coupled with the threat of tax hikes from his health care and energy proposals; more federal money to encourage banks to lend to businesses, coupled with new taxes on banks and individuals; the continued waste of his $862 billion stimulus plan and $2 trillion in new health care spending, coupled with a delayed and temporary spending freeze.

State of the Union: Barack Obama gets an F for world leadership (Britian)
The view from Britain. Excerpt: As expected, Barack Obama’s 70 minute State of the Union address focused heavily on the economy and the domestic political agenda. This was hardly surprising in the aftermath of last week’s catastrophic defeat for his party in the Massachusetts special Senate election, where the Republicans scored an historic victory. American voters are turning strongly against the president’s health care reform package as well as his big government vision for the economy, which has contributed to spiraling public debt and mounting unemployment, now standing at over 10 percent. But the scant attention paid in the State of the Union speech to US leadership was pitiful and frankly rather pathetic. The war in Afghanistan, which will soon involve a hundred thousand American troops, merited barely a paragraph. There was no mention of victory over the enemy, just a reiteration of the president’s pledge to begin a withdrawal in July 2011. Needless to say there was nothing in the speech about the importance of international alliances, and no recognition whatsoever of the sacrifices made by Great Britain and other NATO allies alongside the United States on the battlefields of Afghanistan. For Barack Obama the Special Relationship means nothing, and tonight’s address further confirmed this.

I Told You So – Yes I Did (Canada)
Excerpt: When Obama won the Presidency with the help of the LEFTIST Media, Hollywood and Entertainment Liberals, Ethnic Socialists (ACORN), Stupid Non-Business Professionals and Bush Haters, I wrote: It won’t take 6 months until the people figure this guy out and realize how horrible a mistake they’ve made. And when they come to that realization, the damage to the United States of America will be so great, that it will take a generation or more to repair - IF EVER. The IDIOTS who not only voted for the Messiah, but also worked their sorry asses-off to promote his Lordship, are now left holding the bag. Here are two things they will NEVER do: 1 – They will NEVER admit to making a blunder out of all proportion by electing a snake-oil salesman with no positive social history or management experience of any kind. 2 – They will NEVER take responsibility for the curse they’ve imposed upon the immediate and long-term future of their country.

State of the Union Address: Justice Alito’s ‘You lie’ moment?
Excerpt: POLITICO’s Kasie Hunt, who’s in the House chamber, reports that Justice Samuel Alito mouthed the words “not true” when President Barack Obama criticized the Supreme Court’s campaign finance decision. “Last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections,” Obama said. “Well I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people, and that’s why I’m urging Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to right this wrong.” The shot of the black-robed Supreme Court justices, stone-faced, was priceless.

AP Fact Checks Obama’s SOTU Speech
Excerpt: President Barack Obama told Americans the bipartisan deficit commission he will appoint won't just be "one of those Washington gimmicks." Left unspoken in that assurance was the fact that the commission won't have any teeth.

Cato responds to Obama’s SOTU

Commissioner Peraica accused of using racial slur for saying 'those folks',peraica-sims-those-folks-county-board-012610.article
“Those folks” is apparently a terrible new racist term the politically-correct must avoid. Excerpt: The controversy began Tuesday at a Cook County Board meeting when Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica delivered another of his windy speeches. Peraica, who is white and represents the western suburbs, was talking about how cutting the county's share of the sales tax could help the unemployed -- mentioning specifically how the African American community has been hit especially hard by joblessness and how "those folks" could benefit from slashing the tax.

Chris Matthews: I forgot Obama was black for an hour
“Those folks” can fool you that way.

CNN Poll: 3 of 4 Americans say much of stimulus money wasted
You rubes are so dumb, you just don’t deserve Barack Obama! You’re going to get another stimulus regardless of your wishes. Excerpt: Nearly three out of four Americans think that at least half of the money spent in the federal stimulus plan has been wasted, according to a new national poll. A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Monday morning also indicates that 63 percent of the public thinks that projects in the plan were included for purely political reasons and will have no economic benefit, with 36 percent saying those projects will benefit the economy. Twenty-one percent of people questioned in the poll say nearly all the money in the stimulus has been wasted, with 24 percent feeling that most money has been wasted and an additional 29 percent saying that about half has been wasted. Twenty-one percent say only a little has been wasted and 4 percent think that no stimulus dollars have been wasted.

Disaster poll: Nearly 70 percent say dump Dems' health care bill
Just when it appeared that the numbers for the Democratic health care proposals passed by the House and Senate couldn't get any worse -- they have. A new poll by CNN and Opinion Research, taken from January 22 to January 24, shows that 69 percent of respondents say Congress should dump the current Democratic health care proposals and either write an entirely new health bill or stop working on the subject altogether.

Gov't Unions 2, Oregon Taxpayers 0
Excerpt: In voting to raise taxes to fund health benefits of public-sector union members, Oregonians have taken some of the shine off Scott Brown's victory in Massachusetts and set a potentially dangerous precedent.

Obama, the God that Failed
Excerpt: President Obama said Monday that he would "rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president." He will be lucky if he's not an abject failure.

Thrill is gone for Obamagirl
Excerpt: Remember Amber Lee Ettinger, the "Obamagirl" who had 15 minutes of fame during the 2008 presidential campaign with her video paen to Barack Obama?
The New York Post reports this morning that Obamagirl wishes her man had spent the past year doing something about the economy instead of obsessing about health care reform. "I know he's getting a lot of flak for things that he's not doing. In my opinion, I feel like he should be focusing a lot more on jobs and the economy," Ettinger told the Post.

Standing for more than ‘No’
Excerpt: Amid the celebrating over Scott Brown's Senate victory Tuesday, some Republicans were smartly looking ahead, arguing that the party can't rest on the laurels of one election, however momentous. Kevin Madden, press secretary for Mitt Romney in 2008, wrote in the Wall Street Journal: "The party can prove to a disaffected public that we stand for more than just winning elections but instead are dedicated to reforming a broken system and governing a nation with public support." In other words, don't let the Brown win go your heads. It's a big deal -- huge, considering that Republicans and conservatives were thought extinct just a year ago. But don't think this is a Sally Field moment. Voters don't suddenly really, really like the GOP. Instead, consider the things they really, really dislike: (Good article. But we also need to point out that the Democrats are also the “Party of No.” No to tort reform. No to insurance company competition. No to capital gains tax cuts to create jobs. No to winning the War of terror. No to treating terrorists as the illegal enemy combatants they are under international law. No to developing energy at home through oil and nuclear power. No to fiscal restraint. No to cleaning up corrupt Democrats like Rangel and Murtha. And so on.)

Barack Obama LIED!
Excerpt: Tonight, Barack Obama said, “To close that credibility gap we must take action on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue to end the outsized influence of lobbyists; to do our work openly; and to give our people the government they deserve.
“That’s what I came to Washington to do. That’s why – for the first time in history – my Administration posts our White House visitors online. And that’s why we’ve excluded lobbyists from policy-making jobs or seats on federal boards and commissions.” Maybe this explains why his national security policies are so weak. He put William Lynn in the Pentagon as Deputy Defense Secretary. Mr. Lynn was a lobbyist for Defense Contractor Ratheon. I guess the Deputy Defense Secretary is not a policy-making job. But it is not just Lynn. Eric Holder, attorney general nominee, was registered to lobby until 2004 on behalf of clients including Global Crossing, a bankrupt telecommunications firm [now confirmed]. Tom Vilsack, secretary of agriculture nominee, was registered to lobby as recently as last year on behalf of the National Education Association. William Lynn, deputy defense secretary nominee, was registered to lobby as recently as last year for defense contractor Raytheon, where he was a top executive. William Corr, deputy health and human services secretary nominee, was registered to lobby until last year for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, a non-profit that pushes to limit tobacco use. David Hayes, deputy interior secretary nominee, was registered to lobby until 2006 for clients, including the regional utility San Diego Gas & Electric. Mark Patterson, chief of staff to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, was registered to lobby as recently as last year for financial giant Goldman Sachs. Ron Klain, chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden, was registered to lobby until 2005 for clients, including the Coalition for Asbestos Resolution, U.S. Airways, Airborne Express and drug-maker ImClone. Mona Sutphen, deputy White House chief of staff, was registered to lobby for clients, including Angliss International in 2003. Melody Barnes, domestic policy council director, lobbied in 2003 and 2004 for liberal advocacy groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the American Constitution Society and the Center for Reproductive Rights. Cecilia Munoz, White House director of intergovernmental affairs, was a lobbyist as recently as last year for the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic advocacy group. Patrick Gaspard, White House political affairs director, was a lobbyist for the Service Employees International Union. Michael Strautmanis, chief of staff to the president’s assistant for intergovernmental relations, lobbied for the American Association of Justice from 2001 until 2005. (From Red State Morning Briefings. You may want to subscribe.

Obama sends a message to Congressional Dems: Stand and fight
Excerpt: In a state of the Union speech notable for its conciliatory tone and generally centrist policy focus, President Barack Obama saved his harshest words for the members of his own party. "After last week, it is clear that campaign fever has come even earlier than usual," said Obama. "But we still need to govern. To Democrats, I would remind you that we still have the largest majority in decades, and the people expect us to solve some problems, not run for the hills." Those three sentences encapsulate the view of Obama and his White House about the best -- and perhaps only -- mindset that Democrats must adopt heading into the November midterm elections. Put simply: You can run, but you can't hide. Obama as well as his chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, himself a former member of the House leadership, have argued for months that Democrats' fate is tied to the president whether they like it or not due to the near-certainty that 2010 will be a nationalized election.

Obama’s First State Of The Union Address – The Way It Sounded To Me
Pretty funny, but accurate tanslation. Excerpt: This isn’t a very good time for our country. I know this because angry poor people keep writing me letters every day. Plus my poll numbers are in the tank, which means that even the poor people who voted for me are PO’ed. But hey, it’s not my fault, and besides, things aren’t as bad today as they were during the Civil War and the Great Depression. Still, I signed up for this gig, so I’d better at least pretend to take some responsibility for the way things are going, even though Bush is really to blame. The American people are upset because Republicans and Democrats can’t get along, and while that too isn’t my fault, I did kinda promise to end all the bickering in Washington and actually hold the government accountable for its screw-ups. I also promised transparency, and although what I meant by that was exposing the flaws of everyone who disagrees with me and then publicly mocking them, some folks may have thought I was talking about making my own administration more open and responsive to the will of the electorate. So here’s what I intend to do… basically the same unpopular stuff I’ve been doing since day one. You know, things like bailing out the very people who caused all our economic problems in the first place with massive amounts of taxpayer dollars, and then demonizing them for taking the money. I also intend to keep preaching to the choir about how much better poor folks will feel once we start punishing the people they envy most with crippling taxes, even while declaring what a big tax cutter I am.

US Terror Blacklist Whitewashes Hamas, Enables Funding
Excerpt: The United States Treasury has taken all but one member of Hamas off the international list of terrorists, thus enabling funds from the European Union to enter Hamas-controlled Gaza. It is an open secret that large sums of money from the EU flow into Gaza in the guise of humanitarian aid and salaries for officials, but are actually funneled into the coffers of Hamas, which controls Gaza with an iron grip. This method of transferring funds into terrorists' hands could have been blocked by an international lawsuit, but according to journalist Avi Tarango, the United States Treasury has made this impossible by removing all but one Hamas man – Deputy Chairman of the Political Bureau, Musa Abu Marzouk – from the list of international terrorists.

57 Percent of Independent Voters Give Napolitano a ‘D’ or ‘F’ for Keeping America Safe
Excerpt: A new Zogby Poll finds that nearly half (46 percent) of American voters surveyed – and 57 percent of Independents -- give Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano a below average or failing grade for keeping America secure. Also, when it comes to air travel, more Americans said they felt safer under President Bush than under President Obama.

God’s own lunatics
Tribute to Vietnam Chopper Crews

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Crazy Caption Contest

I'm told this is on the White House website. I think it must be one of those funny caption contests. Here's my submission: "I think I stepped in it again. One of you guys clean it off, okay?"
Please add your suggestions below.

Political Digest January 28, 2010

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.

Poisoned PDF Pill Used to Attack US Military Contractors
Excerpt: Unidentified hackers are running an ongoing cyber-espionage attack targeting US military contractors. Booby-trapped PDF files, posing as messages from the US Department of Defense, were emailed to US defence contractors last week. The document refers to a real conference due to be held in Las Vegas in March. Opening the malicious PDF file attached to the spoofed emails triggers an attempt to exploit an Adobe Reader vulnerability only patched by the software firm last Tuesday (12 January). The infection of vulnerable systems opens up a backdoor that connects to a server hosted in Taiwan, though the hackers who set up the attack may potentially be located anywhere.

U.S. military teams, intelligence deeply involved in aiding Yemen on strikes
Excerpt: U.S. military teams and intelligence agencies are deeply involved in secret joint operations with Yemeni troops who in the past six weeks have killed scores of people, among them six of 15 top leaders of a regional al-Qaeda affiliate, according to senior administration officials. The operations, approved by President Obama and begun six weeks ago, involve several dozen troops from the U.S. military's clandestine Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), whose main mission is tracking and killing suspected terrorists. The American advisers do not take part in raids in Yemen, but help plan missions, develop tactics and provide weapons and munitions. Highly sensitive intelligence is being shared with the Yemeni forces, including electronic and video surveillance, as well as three-dimensional terrain maps and detailed analysis of the al-Qaeda network. As part of the operations, Obama approved a Dec. 24 strike against a compound where a U.S. citizen, Anwar al-Aulaqi, was thought to be meeting with other regional al-Qaeda leaders. Although he was not the focus of the strike and was not killed, he has since been added to a shortlist of U.S. citizens specifically targeted for killing or capture by the JSOC, military officials said. The officials, like others interviewed for this article, spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the operations.

9/11 Commission head presses Obama on anti-terrorism efforts
excerpt: President Barack Obama did not devote enough attention to fighting terrorism last year because he was distracted by legislative battles over healthcare and climate change, the former chairman of the 9/11 Commission said Tuesday.

U.K. Islamic TV head held on terror claims
Another moderate Muslim exposed. Excerpt: The head of Britain's popular Muslim television station was arrested in South Africa and faces deportation to Tunisia on terrorism claims, officials said. Mohamed Ali Harrath, the force behind Britain's Islam Channel, was arrested Sunday in what some said was a security clampdown in South Africa in the months leading up to the 2010 World Cup soccer championship, The Times of London reported Tuesday. The Times reported more than a year ago that Harrath, who advised Scotland Yard on Islamic extremism, was wanted by Interpol because of alleged terrorist activities in his homeland of Tunisia. The broadcaster was convicted in absentia of criminal and terrorism-related offenses in Tunisia and sentenced to 56 years in prison. (There are a couple of bitter jokes. How can you tell when a moderate Muslim is really a Jihadist? When he starts shooting? What is the definition of a “moderate Muslim”? One who is out of ammo. Until the millions of peaceful Muslims are as active against the Jihadists as the rest of us, the terror and distrust of Muslims will continue.)

Somerset authorities seize grenade launcher, weapons cache from Virginia man at motel
Nothing to see here. Just another “isolated incident” and we shouldn’t “jump to conclusions,” as President wobbly would say. Lots of people have things like this in their homes. Excerpt: FBI finds no terrorism link to Virginia man with weapons cache in N.J. motel room. Somerset County investigators seized a cache of weapons including a grenade launcher and hundreds of rounds of ammunition today from the Branchburg motel room of a Virginia man, who also had maps of a U.S. military facility and an out-of-state civilian community….Investigators also found Middle Eastern red and white traditional headdress, Forrest said.

Are you sitting down! UN sending 6000 more Somalis to US this year
Doesn’t say if they can bring headdresses and grenade launchers with them, or if they’ll have to buy them here out of their welfare checks. Excerpt: We are in the worst recession since the Great Depression; refugee agencies are scrambling everywhere to take care of the refugees they have. Just yesterday the Department of State released the news that they are doubling the per head payment (from taxpayers) for each refugee entering the US. On top of that, in many cities around the world, the Somali diaspora is producing jihadist fighters. And, we are going to take 6000 Somalis from one refugee camp in Uganda?

Terror Trial cursed
Excerpt: Two jurors were excused from the "terror mom" trial yesterday after they saw a spectator point his fingers like a gun and silently curse the jury. The unidentified man in a white headdress was taken into custody but it was unclear if charges were filed following the incident in Manhattan federal court.

Courting Disaster: How the CIA Kept America Safe and how Barack Obama is Inviting the Next Attack
Excerpt: Suddenly, the coverage is interrupted by a breaking news bulletin: Networks are receiving reports that air traffic controllers have lost contact with United Airlines Flight 931, bound for San Francisco from London’s Heathrow Airport. The plane suddenly fell off the radar screen as it crossed the Atlantic Ocean. Reporters scramble to figure out what has happened, when a second report comes in: Air traffic controllers have lost contact with another plane—United Flight 959 bound for Chicago, also departing from Heathrow. Moments later, another report: Air Canada Flight 849 bound for Toronto has gone missing. Then another: Air Canada Flight 865 bound for Montreal has disappeared. Then another: American Airlines flight 131 bound for New York has disappeared. Then another: United Flight 925 bound for Washington has disappeared. Then another: American Airlines Flight 91 bound for Chicago has disappeared. As the reports roll in, it becomes clear that the unimaginable has happened: al Qaeda terrorists have hijacked seven planes carrying at least 1,500 passengers, and blown them up as they crossed the Atlantic. It is the second deadliest terrorist attack in history, surpassed only by the 9/11 attack itself. The following day, as images of debris floating in the ocean fill our TV screens, the terrorists’ martyrdom videos are delivered to al Jazeera and broadcast to the world. One of the hijackers sputters: “We will rain upon you such terror and destruction that you will never know peace. There will be floods of martyrdom operations and bombs falling through your lands.” The ringleader of the plot, a terrorist named Abdulla Ahmed Ali, pokes his finger at the camera and declares: “Sheikh Osama warned you. … now the time has come for you to be destroyed.”

American disapproval of Obama is on the rise
Excerpt: The state of the union is obstreperous. Dyspepsia is the new equilibrium. All the passion in American politics is oppositional. The American people know what they don't like, which is: everything.

Lawmakers cold on Obama's freeze
Excerpt: President Barack Obama’s proposal to freeze government spending is turning out to be a tough sell on Capitol Hill. His liberal base warned Tuesday the three-year cap on most non-defense discretionary spending could hamper an economic recovery. Conservatives dismissed it as insufficient and just for show. Even the bipartisan group of lawmakers who praised Obama’s plan, most of them centrists, questioned whether he has the fortitude to veto plump spending bills that fail to adhere to the limits he has set. They also wonder if he will take further steps to rein in the $12.3 trillion federal debt. Top Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), offered tepid support for Obama’s plan, saying it wasn’t enough.

The importance of independents
Excerpt: In the wake of Sen.-elect Scott Brown's (R) victory over state Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) in last week's Senate special election, a debate has been raging over independents. The conventional wisdom -- as argued in this blog and many other places -- is that the flight of independents from the Democratic party as evidenced not just in Massachusetts but in governor's races in New Jersey and Virginia in 2009 represent a major problem for Democrats heading into the midterm elections. The counter-conventional wisdom -- as argued by political science professor John Sides (and channeled by Ezra Klein) is that there are far fewer actual independents than the 30+ percent number regularly cited by pollsters and reporters. Sides argues that only about 10 percent of the electorate is truly independent while the remainder say they are independents but lean toward one party or the other and almost always vote that lean -- making pronouncements about what independents are doing politically largely meaningless. (The Post polling unit conducted some fascinating research into the various types of independent voters in 2007.) Into that debate lands a new analysis of the Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts races by Third Way, a moderate Democratic group. Penned by Jim Kessler, Third Way's vice president for policy, the analysis makes the case that to win in 2010 Democrats must find a way to court independents successfully. (It's worth noting that Third Way, as its name suggests, promotes a centrist approach to governance and politics and this analysis affirms their point of view.)

High stakes, serious challenges for Obama's State of the Union speech
Excerpt: The political world turns to Capitol Hill tonight at 9 p.m. ET as President Obama delivers his first State of the Union address. (Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell -- a future member of the 2012 veepstakes for Republicans -- will deliver the Republican response.) The stakes for the president are considerable. He will speak just eight days after suffering the most significant political and policy setback of his first year in office when Republicans claimed a victory in a Massachusetts Senate special election that robbed Democrats of their 60-seat, filibuster-proof majority. That loss set off a panic among Democratic elected officials, an anxiety that has led to rumors of a bevy of retirements from members who now believe they simply can't win in the climate the administration has created. (While the animosity between some elements of the Democratic Congress and the White House has been papered-over to date, it slipped out a bit when retiring Rep. Marion Berry told his local newspaper that Obama had explained to him that 2010 wasn't 1994 for one simple reason: "You've got me.") Given that context, one of Obama's main challenges will be to assure Democrats that he understands the political peril they are in and he is moving to help them -- primarily by focusing almost exclusively on the economy and job creation particularly for the middle class. The proposals the White House has already previewed -- a three-year freeze on most domestic spending, more money for military families, a series of tax cuts and credits aimed at middle class families -- have a strong populist tint and White House aides have made clear in the day leading up to tonight's speech that the president will seek to make the case that he -- and Democrats by extension -- are standing up for the average American against Republicans and big business. Obama is not a populist by nature and may well struggle if he tries to deliver a campaign-style speech in a chamber where Republicans will be looking to make their opposition to his proposals known.

Recouping the golden quarter
Excerpt: Good news - there is a relatively painless way out of the government spending and deficit mess that Congress and the administration have gotten us into. Also, the apparent collapse of the disastrous health care and cap-and-trade bills might give enough breathing room for economic sanity to return. In my two previous commentaries, I described the calamity that will befall us if spending and deficits are not sharply curtailed. The following briefly portrays a politically doable way to right the economic ship: In the nine quarter-century periods since the American republic was founded in 1789, the one with highest economic growth and job creation was the period from 1983 through 2007. Particularly remarkable - there were just four quarters (out of 100) of negative economic growth in that entire interval. That period of time was characterized by a reduction in government spending from 23.5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) to 20 percent (the low point was 18.4 percent in 2000), and a reduction in marginal tax rates. Despite the reduction in tax rates, tax revenues both in absolute terms and as a percentage of GDP grew in the 1983-2007 period because of the improved work and investment incentives. As a result, the deficit fell from 6 percent of GDP in 1983 to just 1.2 percent in 2007. For many years (until 1983), the Federal Reserve implicitly followed the Taylor Rule to guide monetary policy, which gave the United States both a falling and relatively stable rate of inflation. (The Taylor Rule is a formula that provides central bankers with information about whether they are creating too much or too little money.) During that golden quarter-century, both the presidency and Congress switched parties a couple of times. Thus, it should be politically possible to go back to the policies that gave us the golden quarter. Most people understand that if the government is growing faster than the economy (as it has been for the past two years) disaster ultimately will occur, but if the economy and the private sector grow faster than the government, as they did from 1983-2007, almost everyone can be far better off.

Don't Look to Europe, The U.S Needs Rehab Capitalism
Excerpt: A year ago, the opinion makers at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos were so riveted by fears of global warming that they paid little attention to another threat. Not this year. The western world appears to be in the grip of mechanisms squeezing much of the innovation out of its once-dynamic economies. Their financial sectors can ill-afford to pass up chances of big gains in order to finance the business sectors, especially start-ups, and their business heads can ill-afford to take their eyes off their earnings next quarter to think about long-term projects. The oft-predicted “decline of the West” may be real this time. The signs include reduced levels of business investment and a slower trend growth rate of productivity and of real wages in large parts of the Western World; and, in some parts, a decade-long decline in job satisfaction, employee engagement and labor supply. No wonder President Barack Obama, on the eve of Martin Luther King Day, said that people are worried.

How Regressive is a Price on Carbon?
Excerpt: Under either a cap-and-trade program that limits carbon emissions or a carbon tax that imposes an outright tax on these emissions, the poor may be among the hardest hit. Because they spend a greater share of their income on energy than higher-income families, households in the lowest fifth of the income distribution could shoulder a relative burden that is 1.4 to 4 times higher than that of households in the top fifth of the income distribution, according to a study by Corbett Grainger and Charles Kolstad. In Who Pays a Price on Carbon? (NBER Working Paper No. 15239), they show that the burden on the poorest households doubles when a price on carbon is targeted narrowly on energy consumption (and not other energy uses) rather than broadly across all industries. “Our results suggest that the burden as a percent of annual income is much higher among lower income groups than higher income groups,” the authors write. Previous research already has suggested that a carbon tax would probably be regressive. This study furthers the analysis by making three key points. First, by linking the amount of carbon emissions from each industry to consumer expenditures by income group, the authors show that consumption differences explain the regressivity of a carbon tax. Assuming a levy of $15 per ton of carbon dioxide, which is in the range of current proposals in Congress, the authors calculate that the one-fifth of households at the bottom of the income distribution would spend an extra $325 a year. That’s less than a third of what the one-fifth of households at the top of the income distribution would pay annually. However, households in the low-income group earn only one-tenth as much as those in the high-income group on average, so their burden relative to income would be almost four times higher.

The Obama Fisc
Spending religion arrives a year, and trillions of dollars, too late.
Excerpt: Meet President Obama 2.0. Unlike the 2009 version, this 2010 update isn't the spender who has sent the federal deficit to levels unseen since World War II. This new fellow is a fiscal conservative, and Americans will see this major new talent perform tonight as he delivers his State of the Union address. Whether or not Americans choose to believe him, there's no denying the fiscal reality created by the rollout version of President Obama last year, as detailed in the Congressional Budget Office report released yesterday. For the second year in a row, fiscal 2010 will see a trillion-dollar deficit—an estimated $1.35 trillion, or 9.2% of GDP, which is down slightly from last year's post-World War II record of 9.9%. Mr. Obama did inherit a recession, which is partly responsible for this ocean of red ink. The slow pace of economic recovery has contributed to a collapse in revenues, down to 14.8% of GDP in 2009 and an estimated 14.9% this year. That's well below the modern historical average of about 18.1%, and it is a reminder that economic growth is the most important contributor to smaller deficits. Had last year's "stimulus" worked half as well as the White House advertised, these deficits wouldn't be as large. But as the nearby chart shows, Mr. Obama's major contribution to deficits has been a record spending spree. In 2007, before the recession, federal expenditures reached $2.73 trillion. By 2009 expenditures had climbed to $3.52 trillion. In 2009 alone, overall federal spending rose 18%, or $536 billion. Throw in a $65 billion reduction in debt service costs due to low interest rates, and the overall spending increase was 22%.

Fox News Bests CNN As "Most Trusted Name In News"
Excerpt: After years of CNN touting itself as "the most trusted name in news," a survey released Tuesday from Public Policy Polling (PPP) discovers that among major news sources, only the Fox News Channel enjoys a plurality of respondents (49%) saying they "trust" the network (vs. 37% who disagree). For CNN, only 39% trust the network's news product, vs. 41% who do not, and the distrust is even higher when the public is asked about the broadcast networks, ABC, CBS and NBC. And, as Time media writer James Poniewozik notes in a January 26 item “PPP, in fact, is a mainly Democratic-affiliated polling firm.” The survey included 1,151 registered voters and was conducted between January 18 and January 19. PPP is based in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Study: Only Fox News Offered Obama Historically Normal Scrutiny in 2009
Excerpt: The Washington Times’s Jennifer Harper picked up on a new study from the non-partisan Center for Media and Public Affairs showing President Obama getting much more flattering news coverage from ABC, CBS and NBC (46% positive vs. 54% negative) during his first year in office than did Presidents Reagan, Clinton and George W. Bush, all of whom received roughly three times more bad press than good from those same broadcast networks. But one network did offer scrutiny roughly equal to that provided by the old networks in the past, according to CMPA: the Fox News Channel. Reviewing the first thirty minutes of FNC’s Special Report with Bret Baier, CMPA found roughly three times more negative coverage of Obama (78%) vs. positive coverage (22%) during 2009. This compares to the broadcast networks doling out 74% bad press for Ronald Reagan in 1981 and 77% bad press for George W. Bush in 2001. In 1993, Bill Clinton fared better than his GOP counterparts (28% positive vs. 72% negative), but much worse than President Obama.

Top climate change adviser calls for honesty from scientists in global warming debate
Excerpt: Scientists should be more honest and open about the uncertainty of predicting the rate of climate change, the Government's chief scientific adviser said. In astonishing intervention into the climate change debate, Professor John Beddington condemned scientists who refuse to publish the data forming the basis of their reports said they should be less hostile to sceptics. Professor Beddington was speaking in the wake of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) admission that it had made a mistake by claiming that Himalayan glaciers could melt away by 2035. That followed the 'Climategate' row over whether researchers at East Anglia University manipulated evidence to support a theory of man-made global warming.

Which Democrat will scream “You lie”?
Excerpt: Tonight, President Obama will unveil his State of the Union. Said one well connected Democrat last night, “Things are so bad there is a betting pool on which DEMOCRAT screams ‘You Lie!’ tomorrow night.” Well, tomorrow night is now arrived. This past week, Americans have been treated to two very awkward scenes — Barack Obama speaking to a group of elementary school students with his teleprompter and Barack Obama speaking to his middle class task force with a teleprompter. The man is extremely scripted. The visuals subject Obama to appropriate ridicule (school kids + teleprompter. Really?!?), but the script he is using is the true punchline for jokes. For the past year, Barack Obama has called everything he does “unprecedented” and “historic.” His favorite four letter word is “Bush”. A day does not go by without someone in the administration blaming George Bush for all their ills. Counter-intuitively, the Democrats even blamed George Bush for Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts. Tonight, it will be interesting to see how often he blames George Bush and how often he resorts to stale cliches the public is no longer buying. Obama, his teleprompter, and the rhetoric they deploy have become the butt of late night jokes. When Barack Obama loses Jon Stewart, he is in real trouble.

What is the Healthcare Debate Really About?
Excerpt: Ask yourself this question: What is the one health system characteristic every developed country has, except the United States? If you answered: Every other country has made health care a right, you’re wrong. Citizens of Canada have no right to any particular health care service. They have no right to a CT scan or open heart surgery. They don’t even have a right to a place in line. The 100th Canadian waiting for heart surgery isn’t entitled to the 100th surgery. If you answered: Every other country guarantees essential care to all its citizens, you’re wrong. Citizens of Canada and Britain are routinely denied prompt access to basic health care. If you answered: Every other country guarantees access to care, regardless of ability to pay, you’re wrong again. In Britain people routinely go to the private sector and pay out-of-pocket for care they cannot get from the state. Canadians come to this country. In both cases, lack of ability to pay is a barrier to care. If you answered: Other countries make primary care more accessible because there is no barrier of money, you’re wrong once more. Americans get more primary care than Europeans. Even uninsured Americans get as much or more primary care as Canadians get. So what really is the difference? Answer: Other countries have nationalized, or collectivized, their health care systems. So far we have not. In the United States, whether you have insurance at all, what kind of insurance you have, where you get it, what price you pay — these decisions are primarily made by individuals and employers in the private sector. In other countries, they are made by government. In terms of democratic theory, in other countries people get to vote on what kind of insurance you have and you get to vote on theirs. In the United States the health insurance of most working-age families is based on individual choice, not public choice.

Blacks Held to Lower Standards in Perpetuity
Excerpt: The disparate impact theory of liability was articulated in Griggs v. Duke Power Co. (1971). The Supreme Court held that for purposes of hiring, an employer's use of a high school diploma requirement and aptitude tests violated the Civil Rights Act. Black applicants disproportionately lacked diplomas and/or scored low on the tests. Under the disparate impact analysis, discrimination need not be intentional. Even if an employment practice is "facially neutral," it's suspect if it has an adverse impact on members of a protected class. To avoid liability, businesses would have to demonstrate that such tests are a business necessity or related to job performance. Racial minorities, especially blacks, should feel highly insulted by the entrenched assumption that they should not be expected to compete against whites on pencil-and-paper multiple choice civil service tests. Not only should they speak out against such condescending assumptions, they should refuse any and all special treatment, and demand to be treated as capable and responsible individuals. Such attitudes may be the impetus needed to put an end to these ridiculous and embarrassing lawsuits. Remember the whole point of the civil rights movement: to be treated equally as individuals by the government, without regard to race. Every lawsuit and complaint that cites "disparate impact" confirms that our government believes blacks and other preferred minorities should be held to lower standards in perpetuity. (I think we should sue the NBA and the NFL for racial discrimination. By using athletic ability as the hiring criteria, they create a “disparate impact” on whites and Asians.)

Obama's Dawn Johnsen Appointment
Excerpt: Johnsen goes much further in her pro-abortion militancy than even the Clintons, than even President Obama. She worked for years to strip the Catholic Church of its tax-exempt status. Why? Because the Catholic Church has never wavered in its outspoken defense of unborn children. Dawn Johnsen was part of the Abortion Rights Mobilization (ARM ) that fought a legal battle for eight years in the courts.

K Street rushing to get its slice of jobs bill before spending freeze
SOUIE! Pig! Pig! Pig! Come eat! Excerpt: An $80 billion “jobs package” under consideration in the Senate is stimulating a lobbying rush for federal dollars before the administration tries to cap spending. Transit and high-speed rail advocates, teachers, community bankers, credit unions and business trade groups are seeking spending and tax provisions in the package, which Democrats hope will revive the economy and improve their electoral prospects after a string of defeats at the polls.

There is a simple way to get corporate money out of politics: get the government out of our lives and economic affairs. If government has no favors to sell, no one will spend money trying to win them. --columnist John Stossel