Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Political Digest January 26, 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.

Republicans' allies eye state legislatures as redistricting nears
Excerpt: Seeking to capitalize on the excitement among Republican potential donors after Scott Brown's stunning capture of a Senate seat in Massachusetts last week, two independent groups focused on helping the party regain state legislative majorities before next year's nationwide redistricting are significantly ramping up their efforts. The American Majority Project (AMP) is the new kid on the block, a 527 group -- meaning it is allowed by law to accept unlimited contributions -- formed in recent days with the backing of Republican heavyweights such as former Florida governor Jeb Bush and an advisory board that includes former congressman Robin Hayes (N.C.), former Republican National Committee chairman Mike Duncan and GOP superlawyer Ben Ginsberg. The Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC), which has been around since 2002 to help aid GOP candidates running for state legislatures and other state offices, is getting something of a makeover -- bringing on former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie as its chairman and former National Republican Congressional Committee chairman Tom Reynolds (N.Y.) as its vice chairman. "Targeting 35 to 40 state legislative races this cycle could translate into 25 to 32 U.S. House seats over the next five cycles," Gillespie said. "It makes a lot of sense to get this right."

Biden will not run for father's former Senate seat
A Massachusetts ripple? Excerpt: Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden will not run for his father's former Senate seat, he announced via email to supporters this morning.
"I have a duty to fulfill as Attorney General - and the immediate need to focus on a case of great consequence," Biden wrote. "And that is what I must do. Therefore I cannot and will not run for the United States Senate in 2010. I will run for reelection as Attorney General."
The decision is a huge blow for Senate Democrats who had long insisted Biden was a certain candidate. Republican Rep. Mike Castle is now a strong favorite for the open seat.

Arkansas Rep. Marion Berry to retire
Another ripple? Excerpt: Arkansas Rep. Marion Berry is expected to announce his retirement tomorrow morning, according to three sources briefed on the decision.
Berry will become the sixth Democrat in a competitive seat to leave in the last two months but the first to announce his retirement since the party's special election loss in Massachusetts last Tuesday. "The message coming out of the Massachusetts special election is clear: No Democrat is safe," said National Republican Congressional Committee communications director Ken Spain.
Berry, first elected in 1996, had been noncommittal about his re-election bid for months although, privately, his allies insisted he was planning to run for re-election. While Berry had rarely been challenged in the 1st district over the past decade or so, the seat has a clear Republican tilt as Arizona Sen. John McCain (R) won it with 59 percent in 2008.

The Fix: What David Plouffe can do (and what he can't)
Excerpt: The news that 2008 campaign manager David Plouffe would expand his role within the Obama administration's political team created headlines over the weekend with the White House trying to sell it as a long-planned move. In an interview with on ABC's "This Week" David Axelrod, a senior adviser to the president, called the reaction to the revelation "overblown" and added: "I know that Washington loves the shake-up story. Washington loves the 'When are we going to throw a body out?' story. That's not how we roll." Of course, no White House likes to admit mistakes but it's hard not to see the expansion of Plouffe's role as a direct reaction to the party's stunning setback in Massachusetts six days ago. Plouffe is widely regarded within Obama's inner circle as simply the best-organized, most meticulous planner the party has and the belief is that he is the perfect person to avoid a repeat of Massachusetts, which is rightly blamed not on the candidate, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee or the White House, but all three. To lose a race in Massachusetts as a Democrat, it takes a series of blunders at all levels -- and that's what happened. While Plouffe may be the answer to many of the political side's organizational problems, he isn't likely to solve the biggest problem facing Democrats up for re-election in 2010: the flight of independents from their side.

Nebraska Deal for All States Would Cost $35 Billion Over Three Years
Excerpt: Should the oft-criticized Nebraska Medicaid deal in the Senate health care bill be extended to all states, the proposal would cost $35 billion over a three year span, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). House Budget Committee ranking member Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) requested that the nonpartisan CBO score the hypothetical scenario: Net spending on health care would increase by an estimated $35 billion between 2010 and 2019. All of the spending, however, would take place between 2017 and 2019.

Defusing the Debt Bomb
Excerpt: There is new evidence that massive debt hampers economic vitality. In a January 2010 paper, “Growth in a Time of Debt,” economists Carmen M. Reinhart and Kenneth S. -Rogoff find that, above a debt-to-GDP ratio of 90 percent, “median growth rates fall by one percent, and average growth falls considerably more.” Consider Japan, where public debt hovers around 200 percent of GDP and the economy has been stagnant for a decade and counting.

Charter School Demand Continues To Rise
Will poor black kids get the same opportunity as the Obama kids to choose their schools, or will the Democrats bow to the teachers unions and screw the kids? Need you ask? Excerpt: Parents are demanding more public charter schools according an annual survey conducted by the Center for Education Reform. While demand grew by 21 percent over the last year, there aren't enough charters to meet demand, often due to legislatively imposed caps. For every public charter school in the country, there are 239 students denied the opportunity to attend.

How public servants became our masters
You still have family in Germany, Ja? Excerpt: In April 2008, The Orange County Register published a bombshell of an investigation about a license plate program for California government workers and their families. Drivers of nearly 1 million cars and light trucks—out of a total 22 million vehicles registered statewide—were protected by a “shield” in the state records system between their license plate numbers and their home addresses. There were, the newspaper found, great practical benefits to this secrecy. “Vehicles with protected license plates can run through dozens of intersections controlled by red light cameras with impunity,” the Register’s Jennifer Muir reported. “Parking citations issued to vehicles with protected plates are often dismissed because the process necessary to pierce the shield is too cumbersome. Some patrol officers let drivers with protected plates off with a warning because the plates signal that drivers are ‘one of their own’ or related to someone who is.”

The Anger that Brought us Brown's Victory is Not Going Away
Excerpt: The American people are more than disappointed with the “change” they got this past year and are worried about their future and the condition of the economy.
The stunning upset in Massachusetts should send shock waves through the Democratic Party nationwide. The people have spoken, yet again, with the election of Republican Scott Brown to the U.S. Senate and as such, have soundly rejected the leadership of the president and the Democratically-controlled Congress. The elections in Virginia and New Jersey this past November should have been a wake-up call for Democrats. Democratic candidates were defeated because the people thought the candidates, like the leadership of the Democratic Party, were out of touch with the needs of the citizenry. While Republicans focused on the economy, job creation, deficit reduction and responsibility, Democrats were bogged down -- almost exclusively -- on health care, blaming Bush and defending their failed economic policies. What a difference a year makes. In January of 2009, Obama supporters and many in the media thought they were witnessing a messianic politician’s ascent to the presidency. The Democrats in January of 2009 thought they would rule for 40 years. They took the election of 2008 as a “mandate” to do whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted. Then reality set in. The Democrats set forth an agenda that was 180 degrees opposite of what needed to be done and what the American people wanted to see done. The Democrats manufactured a “crisis” on health care, when we have an honest to goodness economic crisis and recession -- the worst since the Great Depression. The American people kept asking themselves the following question: “what good is ‘affordable’ health care if you do not have a job to pay for it?” I honestly do not believe Democrats can recover in 2010 from the tremendous damage that has been done to their ability to govern, or lack there of, due to their own arrogance and abuse of power.

Howard Kurtz on the Scott Brown story
I think part of the story is that the liberal media fed Coakley’s complacency. Their liberal bias is so strong, they say what the candidate wants to hear. Excerpt: The Washington Post reported on Dec. 9 that Coakley, the state attorney general, had won the Democratic primary, "making her the favorite to win the seat next month. . . . Because of Massachusetts's heavily liberal tilt, Coakley is likely to become the state's first female senator." The New York Times said the next day: "Now poised to become the first female senator from Massachusetts, Ms. Coakley, 56, is seen as a highly disciplined, if not passionate, politician who rarely surprises or missteps." A companion piece on her opponent, a state senator, said that "for Mr. Brown, it is an uphill race to victory in January." But increasingly disaffected voters failed to follow the script. The Times didn't run a piece saying that Coakley's candidacy was in trouble until Jan. 8. The Post didn't do so until Jan. 11; the Los Angeles Times, until Jan. 14. The network newscasts were a step farther behind. ABC's "World News" reported Jan. 15 that Coakley was in a tight contest. The "CBS Evening News" and "NBC Nightly News" aired reports on Sunday, Jan. 17 -- the day that President Obama campaigned for Coakley, and two days before the election.

Government Unions Win, You Lose
Excerpt: Since President Barack Obama was sworn into office, the U.S. economy has shed 3.4 million jobs and the unemployment rate has risen to 10%. But not all sectors of the economy have been suffering equally. In fact, the sector of the economy most supportive of President Obama has not only avoided contraction, but has actually managed to grow instead. According to a report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) last Friday, in 2009 the number of federal, state and local government employees represented by unions actually rose by 64,000. Coupled with union losses in the private sector economy, 2009 became the first year in American history that a majority of American union members work for the government. Specifically, 52% of all union members now work for the federal, state or local government, up from 49% in 2008. Or, to better illustrate these statistics: three times more union members work in the Post Office than in the auto industry

The Recent Evidence of Astroturfing, Summarized; UPDATED: Ellie Light Located?
White House using fake letters to the editor to spread propaganda? Excerpt: Ellie Light was the quintessential Donald Trump Astroturfer. In fact, her real estate holdings would put Trump to shame. She published the very same pro-Obama letter in 65 publications — including 31 states, and the District of Columbia. It also appeared in 3 national publications and a Yahoo link — and in 2 foreign publications, including a publication in Bangkok, Thailand. And she claimed to live in almost all of these locations. Because that claim enhanced her ability to place her letters. So she claimed to live in Philadelphia, PA; and Daly City, California; and Mansfield, Ohio; and Waynesboro, Virginia; and Algoma, Wisconsin; and Bangor, Maine — and dozens of other places. (You’d think they’d be smart enough to use a different name on each letter.)

Cuba cold snap kills 26 at psychiatric hospital
Michael Moore’s Healthcare Paradise. Excerpt: Twenty-six patients at Cuba's largest hospital for the mentally ill died this week during a cold snap, the government said Friday. Human rights leaders cited negligence and a lack of resources as factors in the deaths, and the Health Ministry launched an investigation that it said could lead to criminal proceedings.

Why I Regret Voting For President Obama
Excerpt: I am a registered Independent. I voted for Barack Obama. And for that, I am sorry. I'm not sorry for you. I'm sorry for me. Because I voted for Obama for me, not for you. I voted for hope and change and all the intangibles that Obama was peddling in the wake of the financial crisis, Sarah Palin, Sept. 11 and all the other ills that shook our country in the last decade. I wanted something new. Something different. What I got was, I suppose, exactly what I voted for - a spin doctor. And not a very good one at that.

Harry Reid's dismal poll numbers (and why he will be the Democratic nominee)
Excerpt: A new independent poll commissioned by the liberal Daily Kos blog shows Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) continuing to struggle badly in advance of his re-election race this fall. But, unlike Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), who retired in the face of numbers that suggested he couldn't win, or Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), who is the subject of retirement rumors amid desultory poll numbers, there appears to be little talk that Reid might step aside. While some within the party have said that if Reid wasn't on the ballot the seat would be a win for Democrats, some of the data in the Kos poll suggests otherwise. First off, there is only one "Democratic" candidate tested who leads both businessman Danny Tarkanian and former state party chairwoman Sue Lowden -- the co-favorites for the Republican nod. That candidate is Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman who leads Tarkanian 44 percent to 41 percent and Lowden 44 percent to 40 percent. The only problem? Goodman isn't a Democrat, having switched his party affiliation to independent last December.

How Hugo Chavez's revolution crumbled
the ultimate fate of collectivism—the only question is how much death and misery they cause along the way. Excerpt: While the world has been preoccupied with the crisis in Haiti, Latin America has quietly passed through a tipping point in the ideological conflict that has polarized the region -- and paralyzed U.S. diplomacy -- for most of the past decade. The result boils down to this: Hugo Chávez's "socialism for the 21st century" has been defeated and is on its way to collapse.

Dangerous accommodations
Excerpt: Scott Brown can't get to Washington soon enough. In his victory speech on Tuesday night, the newly elected Senator from Massachusetts underscored a central plank in his campaign platform: "Let me say this: with respect to the people who wish to harm us, I believe - and I know all of you believe - that our Constitution and laws exist to protect this nation. They do not grant rights and privileges to enemies in wartime. And the message we need to send in dealing with terrorists: Our tax dollars should pay for weapons to stop them, and not lawyers to defend them." This commonsensical approach to dealing with our enemies clearly found resonance with the voters of one of the most liberal states in the nation. Polls suggest on related questions about closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay and bringing Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to trial in New York City, Americans across this country are of a similar mind. Yet, with each passing day it is evident that the Obama administration is committed to a very different course, one that is likely to get more of us killed. For instance, we discovered yesterday that neither the Director of National Intelligence, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency nor the Secretary of Homeland Security were consulted before the decision was taken to allow Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab to lawyer-up in Detroit. We are told that, for some reason, local FBI agents - who had gotten a wealth of valuable intelligence in the course of a few hours with the alleged Christmas Day pantybomber before they told him he had the right to remain silent - believed they needed to Mirandize the terrorist before he went into surgery.

United in Hate: The Left’s Romance with Tyranny and Terror
Excerpt: With the decline of communism, the Left began to support Islamism. Whereas journalists, novelists and activists led the charge in the first wave, Glazov explains in the second half of the book, the most vociferous defenders of Islamism now come from the Ivory Tower. After the Iranian revolution in 1979, French philosopher Michel Foucalt, who enjoyed stints at the University of Buffalo and University of California Berkeley, lauded Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini as a “saint.” The late English professor Edward Said, famous for his anti-Western philosophy, Orientalism, became a popular apologist for Palestinian Islamist violence in the 1990s. In 2001, Rutgers University English professor, Barbara Foley, called the 9-11 attacks a legitimate response to the “fascism” of U.S. foreign policy. In 2006, Noam Chomsky, an M.I.T. linguistics professor, lauded Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, whose group calls for the destruction of America and Israel.

Mahathir: Jews “had to be periodically massacred”
Diversity at its finest. Excerpt: This Jew-hating, terrorist-excusing conspiracy theorist was actually the elected leader of Malaysia - and spoke at a Muslim gathering where he expected his views to win support: Malaysia’s former premier Mahathir Mohamad said on Wednesday there was “strong evidence” the US faked the September 11 terror attacks as an excuse to go to war against Muslims. “There is strong evidence that the attacks were staged. If they can make Avatar, they can make anything,’ Mahathir told the Conference for the Support of Al-Quds (Jerusalem), as quoted by local media. The former premier also blamed Jews for hindering progress in US foreign policy. Voicing his disappointment that Barack Obama had not yet ended the war in Afghanistan or closed the US terror detention center at Guantanamo, he explained that “there are forces in the United States which prevent the president from doing some things. One of the forces is the Jewish lobby.” Jews “had always been a problem in European countries. They had to be confined to ghettoes and periodically massacred. But still they remained, they thrived and they held whole governments to ransom,” Mahathir said.

What the Christmas Flight 253 jihadist was revealing until he was read his Miranda rights
Excerpt: Obama should be asked about the fact that Abdulmutallab was talking, and revealing a great deal, until he was treated as an ordinary criminal suspect and told that he had a right to remain silent. "AP Exclusive: Feds detail Christmas Day attack," by Devlin Barrett for the Associated Press, January 24 (thanks to Choi): WASHINGTON - For hours after allegedly trying to use a bomb hidden in his underwear to blow up a Christmas Day flight to Detroit, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab talked and talked -- to Customs officers, medical personnel, and FBI agents. He spoke openly about what he'd done and why, and provided valuable intelligence, U.S. officials told The Associated Press in a series of interviews that spell out for the first time the details of Abdulmutallab's arrest and questioning on Dec. 25. [...] The bomb had severely burned Abdulmutallab but he was still conscious. As he was taken from the scene, federal agents repeatedly interviewed him or heard him speak to others. But when they read him his legal rights nearly 10 hours after the incident, he went silent.

37 killed in Baghdad as 'Chemical Ali' hanged
Leftists wish we had never invaded and that Chemical ali was still gassing people. Excerpt: Suicide bombers struck near three hotels popular with Western journalists and businessmen Monday just as Iraq announced the execution of Saddam Hussein's notorious cousin known as "Chemical Ali." At least 37 people were killed and more than 104 injured, security officials said.

Another Vietnam phony victimizing people
Wait ‘til I tell them how I got my National Defense Medal—won’t be a dry eye in the house! There I was, on fire watch.....

Watchdogs say More Needed to Fight Fakes
Excerpt: EL PASO --- They show up at Memorial Day ceremonies wearing the nation's highest medals for combat valor. They claim to have been prisoners of war in Vietnam, barely surviving in cells next to John McCain, the captured Navy pilot who went on to run for president. And they have glorious stories of heroic actions that saved the lives of countless fellow servicemen. Such tales are told in cities across the nation by men accused of faking military service to receive adulation and, in some cases, special license plates or medical care. Many of these impostors are listed on a privately maintained Web site called P.O.W. Network. Many others were exposed by Doug Sterner, a Colorado man, who created a separate online list of those who received the nation's highest honors for bravery in combat.

The Calley Apology: What Does It Mean?
Setting the record straight. In my view, Calley and some of his superiors should have done long, hard time.

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