Saturday, January 23, 2010

Political Digest January 23, 2010

I post articles because I believe they will be of interest, not because I agree with every—or even any—opinion in them.

Campaign finance ruling deeply divides Washington interest and legal groups
Excerpt: The Supreme Court’s monumental decision to overturn decades of restrictions on corporate and union money in elections deeply divided Washington interest and legal groups Thursday as supporters hailed the decision as a victory for free speech and opponents predicted a cataclysmic upending of the democratic election process. In the sweeping 5-4 decision, the court’s conservative bloc determined that corporations should have the same First Amendment rights as individuals, and thus corporations and unions should be free to spend unlimited amounts of money independently in elections. The ruling, however, did not lift limits on corporate and union contributions to candidates, a sore point with some lawmakers who worry about the expanded influence the decision provides special interests and outside groups over their reelections. The timing of the decision also rattled members of Congress because of its immediate impact on this year’s midterm elections. Both sides predicted a massive increase in the amounts of money spent in political elections, especially in the final weeks and months before voters head to the polls. “This case will lead to more spending in political elections and all of us here think that’s a good thing,” said Brad Smith, a Republican-appointed former commissioner at the Federal Election Commission who now heads the Center for Competitive Politics, a free-market campaign finance group. Joe Sandler, another advocate of fewer campaign finance restrictions and former counsel to the Democratic National Committee in the 1990s, predicted the decision would lead to greater political freedom, but would not give either party an advantage because it applies to unions as well as corporations. The impact, he said, will be more political participation on both sides, although he concedes it will likely produce more negative advertising. (There will be increased pressure for the Democrats to push forced unionization measures like “card check,” to bring more dollars into unions to support Democrats.)

Nice job, Massachusetts; now it's Illinois' turn,0,7652661.column
John Kass tries to light the fire in the bastion of corruption, Blagobamaville. Excerpt: They get it in Massachusetts. But the boys of Illinois don't seem to get it. Not one bit. They're still up to their old tricks. It's as if they cling to their own creed, one handed down to them years ago by a famous colleague. The Illinois political creed is only seven words long, but even today it is pungent with historical accuracy. "I can smell the meat a' cookin.” … "Here's one thing I know," Chicago's own President Barack Obama told ABC's George Stephanopoulos about his fizzling national health care plan. "And I just want to make sure this is off the table. The Senate certainly shouldn't try to jam anything through until Scott Brown is seated. "The people of Massachusetts spoke. He's got to be part of that process." How gracious. It's a far cry from a year ago, when the president abandoned the notion of allowing Illinois voters the right to a special election to fill his empty U.S. Senate seat. Instead, then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, disgraced and already facing federal charges, sent Sen. Tombstone Burris to Washington and Obama welcomed him.

Illinois voters being taken for a ride,0,373566.column
Kass on the depth of corruption in IL, where it’s alas bi-partisan.

Brown's Massachusetts victory fueled by frustration with Washington, poll shows
Excerpt: Dissatisfaction with the direction of the country, antipathy toward federal government activism and opposition to the Democrats' health-care proposals drove the upset election of Republican Senator-elect Scott Brown of Massachusetts, according to a new post-election survey of Massachusetts voters. (Gee, ya think? But Brown’s internal polling also showed great concern with Obama soft approach to terrorists. This poll doesn’t mention.)

What Scott Brown's win means for the Democrats
Excerpt: Brown ran on a very specific, very clear agenda. Stop health care. Don't Mirandize terrorists. Don't raise taxes; cut them. And no more secret backroom deals with special interests. These deals -- the Louisiana purchase, the Cornhusker kickback -- had engendered a national disgust with the corruption and arrogance of one-party rule. The final straw was the union payoff -- in which labor bosses smugly walked out of the White House with a five-year exemption from a ("Cadillac") health insurance tax Democrats were imposing on the 92 percent of private-sector workers who are not unionized. The reason both wings of American liberalism -- congressional and mainstream media -- were so surprised at the force of anti-Democratic sentiment is that they'd spent Obama's first year either ignoring or disdaining the clear early signs of resistance: the tea-party movement of the spring and the town-hall meetings of the summer. With characteristic condescension, they contemptuously dismissed the protests as the mere excrescences of a redneck, retrograde, probably racist rabble. You would think lefties could discern a proletarian vanguard when they see one. Yet they kept denying the reality of the rising opposition to Obama's social democratic agenda when summer turned to fall and Virginia and New Jersey turned Republican in the year's two gubernatorial elections. The evidence was unmistakable. Independents, who in 2008 had elected Obama, swung massively against the Democrats: dropping 16 points in Virginia, 21 in New Jersey. On Tuesday, it was even worse: Independents, who had gone 2-to-1 Republican in Virginia and New Jersey, now went 3-to-1 Republican in hyper-blue Massachusetts. Nor was this an expression of the more agitated elements who vote in obscure low-turnout elections. The turnout on Tuesday was the highest for any nonpresidential Massachusetts election in 20 years.

Obama's options, in a post-Massachusetts nation
Excerpt: If Tuesday had been a national election, Scott Brown's victory merely would have been the high-water mark of a Republican deluge. A five-point win in Massachusetts would have translated into blowout Republican victories throughout the country. Every Democrat with political skills short of Franklin D. Roosevelt's would have suddenly seemed a "weak candidate." President Obama now is left with three options as he stumbles toward the State of the Union: He can try to ignore the anger, embrace the anger or blunt the anger. Ignoring the anger is the advice of the health-reform fundamentalists: With victory only a shady maneuver away, just ram it through. Have the House pass the Senate bill unchanged -- a bill that is, in Majority Leader Steny Hoyer's inspiring rallying cry, "better than nothing." This is politics as psychological delusion -- entirely unmoored from reality. Democratic health reform is unpopular, for goodness' sake, in Massachusetts. Exit polls on Tuesday showed 52 percent opposed to the health bill and 42 percent who cast their vote with the specific intention of killing reform. What serious Democrat would prefer this flawed, compromised, expensive bill to the political future of the party? Each time the legislation has rolled forward, it has gathered criticism and opposition like dirty slush on a snowball. Who can argue that a final push -- this one smacking of desperate, anti-democratic trickery -- will rescue the situation?

Analyst: Obama's bank reform misses point entirely
They miss the point. Obama is less interested in fixing the economy than in winning populist support. If they ruin the economy, he can blame George Bush, whom the Democrats saddled with Fannie and Freddie, then blamed for what FM/FM did. Now Obama has given an unlimited guarantee to Fannie and Freddie, economic madness, but gets votes from the economically-ignorant who think there is a free lunch. Excerpt: One of my go-to guys here on Economy Watch is Miller Tabak equity strategist Peter Boockvar, because he's smart, fast and pithy. His morning note today is no exception. Boockvar had a take on President Obama's attempt to rein in the nation's big banks, a plan he announced Thursday. Under the subject line, "Have we learned nothing?," Boockvar writes: "Whether the Volcker Rule becomes law one day or banks get broken up or bankers are forced to accept five-figure paydays or long/short hedge funds are deemed legally riskier -- by some systemic risk-regulating czar -- than long-only mutual funds who get mauled in bear markets, we can all be confident that we've learned nothing about what was the genesis of the credit bubble and what can be a foundation for responsible behavior in the future. The genesis being artificially cheap money whose sole intention is to encourage borrowing, artificial demand in housing spurred on by the financing of [Fannie Mae] and [Freddie Mac] and the inability to allow failure as a result of bad decisions that can be controlled by bankruptcy law."

Five Health Care Reform Solutions That Make Sense
Excerpt: Americans still want health care reform, but they are looking for clear, patient-centered, fiscally responsible solutions. Here's how to make this work.

Obama the Slow Learner
Time for a remedial course in how to create jobs.
He and his people cannot be taught. They are statists and will always believe, in the face of overwhelming historical evidence, that government and government spending are he solution to all problems. We can only replace them. Excerpt: President Obama is a slow learner. For all his brainpower, he’s saddled himself with three ideas about the economy and job creation that aren’t working, either substantively or politically. And he appears to be too ideologically rigid or stubborn to consider the evidence and jettison the failed ideas. Instead, he puts himself in embarrassing situations. On the day the Labor Department announced the unemployment rate was stuck at 10 percent and 85,000 jobs had been lost in December, Obama insisted he continues “to explore every avenue to accelerate the return to hiring.” So what did he propose? Tax credits totaling $2.3 billion to create “green jobs” and a second stimulus package of $150 billion (the first one, enacted 11 months ago, cost $787 billion). This is more of the same. Cristina Romer, the chairman of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, managed to out-embarrass the president. Last week, she sandwiched her highly improbable claim that the administration’s stimulus had created or “saved” 1.5 million to 2 million jobs between an Associated Press finding that $20 billion in stimulus funds for roads and bridges had failed to reduce the unemployment rate anywhere and a Labor Department announcement of a rise in new claims for jobless benefits. The first of Obama’s failed ideas is that government spending is the most effective method of stimulating the economy, spurring strong growth, and generating new jobs. The president needs to chat with Harvard economists Alberto Alesina and Silvia Ardagna on this subject. They studied dozens of examples of economic stimulation between 1970 and 2007 in 21 countries, including the United States. Their findings are unequivocal. “Fiscal stimuli based upon tax cuts are more likely to increase growth than those based on spending increases,” they wrote in a paper revised and published last October. “We would argue that the current stimulus package in the U.S. is too much tilted in the direction of spending rather than tax cuts.” Indeed it is, and Obama’s paltry tax cuts aren’t the kind of across-the-board reductions in individual and corporate income tax rates that have revived sluggish economies by incentivizing private investment and stirring job creation.

Filibuster reform bill headed for Senate floor, faces uphill battle
Democrats LOVED the filibuster when they were in the minority. In fact, the threat prevented Republics from bringing reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to the floor. That worked out well. Maybe Tom “Hero” Harkin can use it to tell us again the lies he told about flying combat missions in Vietnam. Excerpt: Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) intends to introduce legislation that would take away the minority’s power to filibuster legislation.

Some House Dems warming to idea of scaled-back healthcare reform
Excerpt: There is growing consensus in the House Democratic Caucus that comprehensive healthcare legislation is dead and the only option is to pass a series of piecemeal measures. House leaders have shied away from committing themselves to the scaled-back approach, but a leadership aide acknowledged that, behind closed doors, the idea is rapidly gaining traction.

Obama has suspicious number of letter-writing fans named 'Ellie Light'
Excerpt: Ellie Light sure gets around. In recent weeks, Light has published virtually identical “Letters to the Editor” in support of President Barack Obama in more than a dozen newspapers. Every letter claimed a different residence for Light that happened to be in the newspaper’s circulation area. (There are people willing to sacrifice personal integrity on all sides. Look at MSNBC Ed Schultz announcing on his national radio show (1/16) that "I'd cheat to keep these bastards (Scott Brown and other conservatives) out" of power, thus giving new meaning to the name “Democrat.” Let us not join them.)

The Incredible Deflation of Barack Obama
Excerpt: The air is seeping out of the Obama balloon. He has fallen to below 50 percent in the poll approval ratings, a decline punctuated by his party's shocking loss in the Massachusetts special election. Why? Barack Obama was undoubtedly sincere in what he promised, even if his promises were within the normal range of political exaggeration. The first trouble is that his gift for inspiration aroused expectations, stoked to unprecedented heights by his own staff, that he would solve the climate crisis on Monday, the jobs crisis on Tuesday, the financial crisis on Wednesday, the education crisis on Thursday, Afghanistan on Friday, Iraq on Saturday, and rest on Sunday. His oratorical skills were highlighted by the contrast with President Bush, who mangled words so much that his incoherence became, as Tina Brown wrote, "a metaphor for incompetence." Expectations were spurred, too, by Obama's recognition that Americans yearned for a new kind of politics, a rejection, as he put it, of "politics as usual." Perhaps the inevitable outcome was disappointment—and on this Obama has not disappointed. Alas, he has accelerated the deflation of hope with his extraordinary volume of public appearances. In his first six months, he gave three times as many interviews as George W. Bush, four times as many prime-time news conferences as Bill Clinton, and more interviews than both combined: 93 for Obama and 61 for his two immediate predecessors. He appeared on five Sunday talk shows on the same morning, followed the next day by David Letterman, the first-ever presidential appearance on a nighttime comedy show. In another week, he squeezed in addresses to the U.S. Climate Change Summit, the U.N. General Assembly, the U.N. Security Council, and a variety of press conferences. His promiscuity on TV has made him seem as if he is still a candidate instead of president and commander in chief. He—and his advisers—have failed to appreciate that national TV speeches are best reserved for those moments when the country faces a major crisis or a war. Now he faces the iron law of diminishing novelty.

Che Guevara Exposed: The Killer on the Lefties’ T-Shirts
The left has always worshipped mass murders like Che, Stalin and Mao. Excerpt: The New York Times titled its review of Soderbergh’s movie, “Saluting the Rebel Underneath the T-Shirt.” In fact, had del Toro, Depp or Hitchens been born earlier and in Cuba and attempted a rebel lifestyle, their “digging” of Castroite Cuba would have been of a more literal nature. Del Toro, Depp and Hitchens would have found themselves chained and digging ditches and mass graves in a prison camp system inspired by the man they “dig.” Had their digging in a Cuban forced-labor camp lagged, a “groovy” Communist guard might have shattered their teeth with a “groovy” Czech machine-gun butt, or perhaps slashed their buttocks with some “groovy” Soviet bayonets. In a famous speech in 1961, Che Guevara denounced the very “spirit of rebellion” as “reprehensible.” “Youth must refrain from ungrateful questioning of governmental mandates,” commanded Guevara. “Instead, they must dedicate themselves to study, work and military service.” “Youth,” wrote Guevara, “should learn to think and act as a mass.” “Those who choose their own path” (as in growing long hair and listening to “Yankee-Imperialist” Rock & Roll) were denounced as worthless “roqueros,” “lumpen” and “delinquents.” In his famous speech, Che Guevara even vowed “to make individualism disappear from Cuba! It is criminal to think of individuals!” Tens of thousands of Cuban youths learned that Che Guevara’s admonitions were more than idle bombast. In Guevara, the hundreds of Soviet KGB and East German STASI “consultants” who flooded Cuba in the early 1960s found an extremely eager acolyte. By the mid ’60s, the crime of a “rocker” lifestyle (blue jeans, long hair, fondness for the Beatles and Stones) or effeminate behavior got thousands of youths yanked out of Cuba’s streets and parks by secret police and dumped in prison camps with “Work Will Make Men Out of You” emblazoned in bold letters above the gate and with machine gunners posted on the watchtowers. The initials for these camps were UMAP, not GULAG, but the conditions were quite similar. Today, the world’s largest image of the man that so many hipsters sport on their shirts adorns Cuba’s headquarters and torture chambers for its KGB-trained secret police. Nothing could be more fitting. Ignorance, of course, accounts for much Che idolatry. But so does mendacity and wishful thinking, all of it boosted by reflexive anti-Americanism. The most popular version of the Che T-shirt, for instance, sports the slogan “fight oppression” under his famous countenance. This is the face of the second in command, chief executioner and chief KGB liaison for a regime that jailed political prisoners at a higher rate than Stalin’s and executed more people in its first three years in power than Hitler’s executed in its first six.

Air America Radio Closing, Filing for Bankruptcy
The news isn’t all bad. Excerpt: Air America Radio, a radio network that was launched in 2004 as a liberal alternative to Rush Limbaugh and other conservative commentators, on Thursday shut down abruptly due to financial woes. The network once boasted hosts such as Al Franken and Rachel Maddow, but struggled from the outset, including multiple management shake-ups, a bankruptcy in 2006 and sale for $4.25 million the following year. Air America ceased airing new programs Thursday afternoon and said it will soon file to be liquidated under Chapter 7 bankruptcy. It began broadcasting reruns of programs and would end those as well Monday night.

Union Mambership
Easier to make demands on the politicians and taxpayers, than on businesses that must compete. Excerpt: Labor movement membership continued to fall in 2009. While a full 23.0 percent of Americans belonged to labor unions in 1980, last year only 12.3 percent carried the union card. Last year there were 15.3 million union members in the United States, down 770,000 from the previous year. The real takeaway in the BLS report is the transformation of the labor movement. A majority of union members in America (52 percent) now work for the government. This is up sharply from 49 percent in 2008. Put another way, Sherk finds, three times more union members now work in the Post Office than in the auto industry. Union membership in the productive sector of our economy continued its long-term downward spiral, falling from 20.1 percent in 1980 to a mere 7.2 percent in 2009.

Obama Underwrites Offshore Drilling
Too bad it's not in U.S. waters.
Old but interesting. Excerpt: You read that headline correctly. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration is financing oil exploration off Brazil. The U.S. is going to lend billions of dollars to Brazil's state-owned oil company, Petrobras, to finance exploration of the huge offshore discovery in Brazil's Tupi oil field in the Santos Basin near Rio de Janeiro. Brazil's planning minister confirmed that White House National Security Adviser James Jones met this month with Brazilian officials to talk about the loan.

Justifiable homicide?
The price of tyranny: BEIJING – When Li Shiming was stabbed through the heart by a hired assassin, few of his fellow villagers mourned the local Communist Party official many say made their lives hell by seizing land, extorting money and bullying people for years. Instead, villagers in the northern town of Xiashuixi have made Li's teenage killer something of a local hero. More than 20,000 people from the coal-mining area petitioned a court for a lenient sentence. "I didn't feel surprised at all when I heard Li Shiming was killed, because people wanted to kill him a long time ago," said villager Xin Xiaomei, who says her husband was harassed for years by Li after the two men had a personal dispute. "I wanted to kill Li myself, but I was too weak."

Justice (Dept) refuses to release documents in Panther case
Think if they were white thugs intimidating black voters, this would have been different? When the black AG protects black voter intimidation, the chance for a post-racial future dies. Excerpt: The Justice Department, citing privilege claims, has refused to release e-mails and other documents sought under an open records request by The Washington Times to explain its decision last year to dismiss a civil complaint accusing the New Black Panther Party of intimidating voters at a Philadelphia polling place. In a letter, the department said that while 69 documents totaling 135 pages were responsive to the Freedom of Information Act request for information on how and why the decision to dismiss the complaint was made, they were being withheld because of "deliberative process" and "attorney work-product" privilege exemptions.

Taxpayers' bucks spent on trysts, golf, skiing
With Obama’s statists rapidly expending the government, only going to get worse. Excerpt: From an extra day's hotel stay so military officials can fit in a round of golf to federal workers who fly business class instead of coach, questionable travel expenditures have remained a persistent problem across the federal government in recent years. At the State Department, for instance, nearly 80 percent of the more than $300,000 in airfare reviewed at one little-known office in fiscal 2007 and 2008 went to pay for business-class airline tickets, and many of those purchases violated federal travel policy. One senior manager at the National Science Foundation took or extended taxpayer-funded trips totaling more than $10,000 to facilitate liaisons with women in Paris, Tokyo and Vancouver.

Are Republicans Due? Part IV. By Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: What the "smart money" fails to explain is how Reagan won two landslide presidential elections in a row. He certainly didn't do it by trying to act like Democrats. That's how the Republicans later turned off their own supporters, without gaining enough other voters to keep from being wiped out by the Democrats in two consecutive elections. There is no way that Ronald Reagan could have won two landslide elections in a row if the only votes he got came from hard-core conservatives. He obviously got the votes of other people who liked what he said when he was running for the presidency and liked what he had done when he was up for re-election.

The War Against the Infidels
Excerpt: In 2001, the monumental 6th century Buddhas of Bamiyan were dynamited on orders from Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar. The United States and other Western governments issued protests. Afghanistan's Islamist rulers shrugged them off. In 2010, Al-Kifl, the tomb of the Prophet Ezekiel, near Baghdad, is being desecrated. On the tomb are inscriptions in Hebrew and an ark in which a Torah was displayed centuries ago. Iraq's Antiquities and Heritage Authority, under pressure from Islamists, is erasing the Hebrew words, removing the Hebrew ornaments and planning to build a mosque on top of the grave.
So far, we're hearing protests from almost no one. But this is not just another "Where is the outrage?" story. The larger and more alarming trend is that in a growing number of Muslim-majority countries a war is being waged against non-Muslim minorities. Where non-Muslim minorities already have been "cleansed" - as in Afghanistan and Iraq -- the attacks are against their memory. Ethnic minorities also are being targeted: The genocidal conflict against the black Muslims of Darfur is only the most infamous example. Connect these dots: In Nigeria this week, Muslim youths set fire to a church, killing more than two dozen Christian worshippers. In Egypt, Coptic Christians have been suffering increased persecution including, this month, a drive-by shooting outside a church in which 7 people were murdered. In Pakistan, Christian churches were bombed over Christmas. In Turkey, authorities have been closing Christian churches, monasteries and schools, and seizing Christian properties. Recently, churches in Malaysia have been attacked, too, provoked by this grievance: Christians inside the churches were referring to God as "Allah." How dare infidels use the same name for the Almighty as do Muslims! In response to all this, Western journalists, academics, diplomats and politicians mainly avert their eyes and hold their tongues.

Turkey: 12-Year-Old Girl Sold By Father For 4 Cows
Excerpt: ANKARA - A 12-year-old girl from Corum, a village in central Anatolia not far from Ankara, has been sold twice by her father: the first time in exchange for four cows, and the second time for 10,000 Turkish lire (around 4,800 euros). Just yesterday the police discovered the crime and arrested the girl's father and the second buyer, while the first is still being sought. The story was reported by daily paper Vatan, which writes that Sukru A. (this is the name of the father) sold his daughter K.A last summer when she was just 12 years old to 29-year-old bricklayer Kamber Bostan in exchange for four cows, who married the girl in a religious ceremony in front of the imam. After several months however, the girl - who became pregnant in the meantime - went back home because she didn't get on with her husband. Last December, in her sixth month of pregnancy, she lost the child.

Muslim groups still MIA on terror
Excerpt: Another law-enforcement source tells me CAIR and other groups have been worse than useless: To this source's knowledge, US Muslims have played virtually no role in foiling local plots. Indeed, in some places, imams have reportedly withheld useful info and threatened to oust congregants who aid law-enforcement. Officials say Ahmad Afzali, the Queens imam helping agents probe Najibullah Zazi (the coffee vendor charged in a New York terror plot), later double-crossed them and alerted Zazi. "I know of no investigations" in which Muslims have been helpful, Rep. Peter King (R-LI), the ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, tells me. He says law-enforcement and counterterror officials invariably tell him Muslim cooperation doesn't exist. Sometimes agents say they're met with hostility. For folks who "understand the nature of the threat" and watch officials from "CAIR and the Muslim Public Affairs Council on major [TV] networks, it's incredibly demoralizing," a former FBI special agent says. A reluctance to even acknowledge pro-terrorist sympathies persists even beyond official Muslim groups. At universities, for example, Muslim students have blocked speeches by people like Nonie Darwish -- an anti-terror activist who calls herself a "former Muslim" and who speaks about the Islamic links to terror. In the last two months, scheduled Darwish talks at Princeton and Columbia were canceled at the last minute, after Muslim objections. At Boston University, someone lit a fire in a building where she was to speak.

The End of the Obama Mystique
Excerpt: But one thing is clear: Brown didn't just overcome an unworthy, machine-produced opponent, or even provide the crucial vote to prevent the further socialization of the United States. He destroyed a legend -- the legend of Obama the Omnipotent. We are seeing an intrusion of the mythic into everyday life, an instance of the Beowulf factor influencing millennial politics. The result has shocked and disturbed many onlookers. But Carl Jung would not have been surprised. The Obama of 2008 was a figure who came out of nowhere trailing clouds of glory. His followers hailed him as a new phenomenon, of a type unseen in America since JFK and perhaps not ever. He was hailed as superhuman, with more than a touch of the divine. Some openly called him a messiah. One of his media supporters stated for the record that Obama was a godlike entity. Perhaps it seemed like that to some after his November victory. The stunned opposition among Republicans and conservatives were certainly tempted to view it that way. How else to explain the near-mad adulation, the absolute certainty, the pseudo-religious frenzy? People rushed to make offerings at Obama's feet. Buildings and schools were renamed for him. The Nobel committee trashed its reputation to offer him a prize normally given only after lengthy and productive careers. To the opposition, he remained a mystery, an uncanny figure, certainly not what his followers claimed, but something out of the ordinary all the same, to be analyzed and pondered only at a safe distance. Stymied conservatives were reduced to watchful waiting, to near-hysterical pursuit of wills-of-the-wisp, or at worst to even turning their coats and going over to the other side. (In the case of David Brooks, I'd guess you'd have say turning his pants) Some had doubts. It all seemed too much like rock-star hype of the most vulgar sort. Obama was a pol for the age of Britney, a messiah for people who became famous for wearing their pants low. Such an epoch could never produce an FDR or even a Lyndon B. Johnson. The Big O had flaws, hidden though they might be. Remain alert, and they'd appear eventually. This was the impulse that fueled the Tea Parties of last summer.

Democrats' Senate majority could be scaled far back
Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia is saying that if the Senate elections were somehow held today, rather than next November, Democrats would lose another seven seats and would be reduced to a 52-48 majority. One of those 52, of course, would be Independent Democrat Joe Lieberman of Connecticut. Sabato is no partisan shill; he was quick to note how Republican fortunes were falling in the 2006 and 2008 cycles. He sees the Democrats losing the following seats if the elect ion were held today: Arkansas (Blanche Lincoln), Colorado (appointee Michael Bennet), Delaware (appointee Ted Kaufman, who is not running), Illinois (appointee Roland Burris, who is not running), Nevada (Harry Reid), North Dakota (Byron Dorgan, who is not running), Pennsylvania (Arlen Specter). He sees Republicans as holding open seats that seemed 366 days ago to be in jeopardy in Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, New Hampshire and Ohio.

On bombing suspect, tough questions for Eric Holder
Excerpt: It seems like a pretty simple question. Who made the decision to charge Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the accused terrorist arrested for trying to blow up a Northwest Airlines jet on Christmas Day, as an everyday criminal, as opposed to an enemy combatant?
After all, Abdulmutallab was trained by al Qaeda, equipped with an al Qaeda-made bomb, and dispatched by al Qaeda to bring down the airliner and its 278 passengers. Even though the Obama administration has mostly abandoned the term "war on terror," the president himself has said clearly that the United States is at war with al Qaeda. So who decided to treat Abdulmutallab as a civilian, read him the Miranda warning, and provide him with a government-paid lawyer -- giving him the right to remain silent and denying the United States potentially valuable intelligence that might have been gained by a military-style interrogation?
This week that simple question -- Who? -- became more complicated after several of the administration's top anti-terrorism officials testified on Capitol Hill. The director of the National Counterterrorism Center, Michael Leiter, said he wasn't consulted before the decision was made. The director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair, said he wasn't consulted, either. The secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, said she wasn't consulted. And the head of the FBI, Robert Mueller, said he wasn't consulted.

The Fix: Tough Year for Democrats
Excerpt: Political handicappers have begun readjusting their views of the national political landscape in the wake of Sen.-elect Scott Brown's (R) stunning victory on Tuesday night in Massachusetts. First came Larry Sabato, the mustachioed director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, who wrote Thursday that if the midterm elections were held today Senate Democrats would lose seven seats; "the Democrats' nightmare is the Republican dream scenario," Sabato concluded. Stu Rothenberg (of the Rothenberg Political Report) moved the Arkansas Senate race rating to "lean takeover", meaning that Republicans are now favored to beat Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D) this fall. Wrote Rothenberg of the move: "Given the bent of Independent voters (in the recent Massachusetts special election but also in national surveys), we are increasingly doubtful that the Arkansas Democratic Senator can win another term." Arkansas is one of FOUR Democratic-held Senate seats -- Delaware, North Dakota and Nevada are the others that Rothenberg ranks as leaning toward a Republican takeover. Finally came an analysis of the House playing field from the Cook Political Report concluding that in the wake of the Brown win, the operative question was not "Which Democrats are vulnerable?" but rather "Which Democrats are safe?" The trio of developments suggest the degree to which the political ground has shifted beneath Democrats in recent months -- typified by the party losing a Senate seat in one of the Democratic states in the country on Tuesday. While both parties appear to still be sorting through the results from Massachusetts, the next week or two will be instructive. Can Republicans find serious challengers to the likes of Sens. Evan Bayh (Rep. Mike Pence is mentioned) or Russ Feingold (former governor Tommy Thompson is mentioned)? And, can Democrats keep people like Lincoln as well as a growing number of House members from heading for the exits out of fear that 2010 is a stone cold loser for the party at the ballot box?

Obama To Mayors: I’m Going To Take Some Of Your Questions But First The Cameras Have To Go So You Can Tell Me The Truth
The king of transparency.

The Day ObamaCare Died - Sung by Barack Obama.avi
Too funny.

Theme Song for next decade

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