Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Political Digest January 6, 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.

Two words you should try living by, Mr. President,0,6413635.story
Excerpt: We have a president who is able to stun with eloquence and manage a teleprompter like a concert Steinway. But with all this mellifluousness, there are two words that President Barack Obama does not say, or at least not very much: personal responsibility. In recent weeks, the president has intensified the hectoring of Wall Street. In large part, he has blamed it for the behaviors that caused the global economic meltdown and liquidity crisis, which began in the summer of 2007. Excessive institutional leverage, misguided compensation structures favoring short-term profits, and a culture of risk-taking machismo are undeniably major factors. The scale of financial mismanagement was nothing short of shocking at some venerable Wall Street institutions, causing unrelenting public outrage. It is easy to criticize the banks, which are regulated by the FDIC, Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. There is anti-banking populism in America dating to certainly the Great Depression. But not surprisingly, the whole truth is much more complicated. American International Group, Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns were not regulated by this extensive network of federal regulators. Further, vast demand for mortgages was created for decades by the government-sponsored agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, with a Congress eager to promote universal home ownership, and an accommodative Federal Reserve which maintained an easy money policy. Bank regulators, moreover, demanded that banks extend credit in economically weak communities, or face censure for noncompliance and possible denial of applications for new banking facilities or acquisitions. Add to that rating agencies that did not know exactly what risks were being rated; unregulated mortgage companies; and populist laws that diminished the incentive to keep paying the debt when its amount exceeded the value of the real estate asset, allowing the borrower to walk away without other assets being attached by lenders.

Barack Obama: A President That Wasn’t
Excerpt: Hillary Clinton once said, during her run for President against her current boss, that the Presidency was no place for on the job training. She said she would be ready to lead from day one and that she would know what to do when that 3 am call came to the White House. Whether or not true of Hillary, we have learned these last 12 months that it is certainly not true of Barack Obama; Obama was NOT ready to lead from day one and he has failed to lead ever since. His own 3 am calls are going straight to voice mail (he’s out shooting hoops you see, or working on that birdie putt on Maui) and his on the job training continues with very little acquired knowledge to actually show for the troubles he has caused Americans.

Barack Obama: A leader without a cause
This is the view from an anti-Republican leftist! Excerpt: Last month, no American soldiers were killed in Iraq. Last month, the unemployment rate dipped a bit, the stock market ended the year up, the financial system did not crater, Detroit's Big Three began to get a pulse -- and yet a consensus started to form that Barack Obama, who is either responsible for or merely presided over all this good stuff, is a failure. What's more, the consensus came supported by numbers. The polls, according to Rasmussen Reports, showed the president's approval rating dropping two points in December while his disapproval rating gained a point. Obama began 2009 with 43 percent of Americans strongly approving of his performance and ended it with 26 percent feeling that way. Any way you measure the polls, Obama did not have a good year.

The Fix: Obama, congressional leaders plot final health care strategy
Assume this meeting will be on C-Span as Obama promised? Nah, that was a lie to get the rubes to vote for him. Excerpt: President Obama will convene a meeting with the top four Democrats in the House and Senate -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (Md.) will be at the White House while Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) and Majority Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.) will participate via phone -- later today to discuss the end-game strategy for the administration's health care bill. With several deadlines already blown through to complete the bill, the thinking now is to get it done before the end of the month -- making way for the president's expected pivot to a focus on the economy/job creation in his first state of the union address. The merging of the House and Senate bills will be a delicate dance as several senators who voted for the measure -- Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman and Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson in particular -- made clear that any significant revisions could force them to rescind their support. The process is so fraught with potential political peril -- and with the potential for significant procedural delay by Republicans -- that there is talk that a formal conference committee to fuse the bill might be ignored entirely. Today's meeting is rightly seen as the first step by the White House and congressional leaders to find as much common ground between the two chambers as quickly as possible. In order to begin what is expected to be a year-long focus on the economy, the legislative decks must be cleared of health care as soon as possible.

The big lie
Speaking at a town hall meeting on August 21, 2008, in Chester, Virginia, then-candidate Barack Obama promised the American people: “I’m going to have all the negotiations around a big table. We’ll have doctors and nurses and hospital administrators. Insurance companies, drug companies … what we will do is, we’ll have the negotiations televised on C-SPAN, so that people can see who is making arguments on behalf of their constituents … And so, that approach, I think is what is going to allow people to stay involved in this process.” The participants around Obama’s fictional big table may have changed depending on where he was speaking, but throughout his campaign the essential promise was always there: “negotiations televised on C-SPAN.”

Democrats on the Health-Care Precipice
Excerpt: Enacting health-care legislation in the face of overwhelming public disapproval may cost the party its chance of forging a sustainable majority. Barack Obama emerged from his meeting with Senate Democrats this week to claim Congress was on the "precipice" of something historic. Believe him. The president is demanding his party unilaterally enact one of the most unpopular and complex pieces of social legislation in history. In the process, he may be sacrificing Democrats' chances at creating a sustainable majority.

Happy Tax Year!
“If I (Barack Obama) am elected president, people making less than $250,000 a year won’t pay a penny more in taxes.” And some folks were stupid enough to believe that! Excerpt: While millions of Americans are more than ready to put 2009 behind them, they should know that Congress failed to reauthorize dozens of tax breaks for individuals and businesses before the Members scurried home for the Holidays. These “expiring provisions” affect every American in one way or another as individuals or businesses. By allowing them to lapse, Congress has enacted tax increases at time when these taxpayers can least afford it.

GOP retirements in House may affect party's gains in November
Excerpt: While the recent political chatter in Washington has focused on Democrats retiring from Congress, Republicans are leaving the House in greater numbers, a trend that could blunt the party's momentum heading into the November midterm elections. Rep. Henry E. Brown Jr. (S.C.) on Monday became the 14th Republican to announce that he will not run for reelection this year. Ten Democrats have said the same, including an attention-grabbing four in the past two months from swing and Republican-leaning districts. A broad look at those seats suggests more parity, in terms of the two parties' opportunities and vulnerabilities, than conventional wisdom would suggest.

Secret Service confirms third crasher at White House state dinner
It’s demeaning to call them “crashers.” The PC term is “Undocumented Guests.” I was there myself with a bunch of guys, but we only had beer and burgers in the kitchen with the butler, missed the photo ops. I wonder if they miss the Bush-era holdover they fired, who used to crosscheck the guest list at the door with the Secret Service. Save us from know-it-all rookies.

Must Read: How the disgraced James Riady, barred from travel to the U.S., made it back
Oh, you contribute to Democrats? Come on in! Change we can believe in. Excerpt: In March 2004, James Riady, an Indonesian tycoon and devout Christian, received an honorary doctorate from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkansas. The university -- which has a scholarship program funded by the Indonesian -- didn't announce the honor. Nor did Riady pick up the diploma in person: He'd been barred from America after pleading guilty in 2001 to a "conspiracy to defraud the United States" through illegal contributions to the campaigns of Bill Clinton and other Democrats. Last year, however, the Indonesian mogul finally made it to Arkansas. He traveled there during the first of two previously unreported trips he made in 2009 to the United States. He was allowed in only after receiving a waiver from a rule that forbids entry to foreigners guilty of "a crime involving moral turpitude," a term that government lawyers generally interpret to include fraud. Riady's return to the United States poses a prickly question for Hillary Clinton's State Department: How and why did a foreign billionaire stained by Clinton-era scandals get a U.S. visa after being kept out for so long under the Bush administration? …. He said he hadn't seen the Clintons during his 2009 trips to America but did pay $20,000 to become a member of the Clinton Global Initiative, an annual gathering of prominent figures in politics, business and philanthropy sponsored by Bill Clinton.

The True Goal Of The “Stimulus” Spending: It’s All About The Unions
Excerpt: Sure. Why not. The auto bailouts were about propping up America’s unionized domestic auto industry for the UAW. Why wouldn’t the “stimulus” be about preserving government jobs for the public workers’ unions? Public-sector employment peaked at 22.6 million in August 2008. It fell a bit in 2009, then has rebounded back to 22.5 million in November. That’s less than a 1 percent decline. This is not an accident; it is the result of deliberate public policy. About one-third of the $787 billion stimulus package passed in February 2009 was directed at state and local governments, which have been facing declining revenues and are, mostly, required to balance their budgets.

Dirty Money Watch: Rep. Andre Carson, D-Ind
Excerpt: Carson received $10,000 from Rep. Charles Rangel's National Leadership PAC, the political action committee of the powerful New York Democrat who is chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee that writes tax law. WHY IT'S DIRTY: Rangel is being investigated on multiple issues by the House Ethics Committee, including failure to report income from properties he owns in New York and the Dominican Republic. A company that gave $1 million to a New York school facility that will bear Rangel's name subsequently received lucrative tax breaks, and he has reportedly solicited political contributions on official stationery.

A Rodney Dangerfield America?
Excerpt: Why pretend? We have arrived at a point where nearly everyone's conversation of more than five minutes about what is going on in the nation or the world ends up in the ditch. The opinion polls are deep into the no-holiday spirit, competing to deliver low blows to the American psyche. Pew Research Center began dim December with a survey titled "Current Decade Rated Worst in 50 Years." Washington Post/ABC staggered in with the bad word that 61% of the American people think their country is in long-term decline. The U.S. is starting to sound like one long Rodney Dangerfield joke: "I looked up the family tree and found out I was the sap."

23 Million Would Remain Uninsured by 2018 Under Senate Bill
Tough for them, but that wasn’t the point. On the plus side, there will be thousands of new government union employees to vote and contribute to Democrats. THAT was the point.

Laugh of the day: Harry Reid 2006: I hate when people try to sneak secret special deals into important Senate bills without debate

Congress Declares War on HSAs
Tort Reform and HAS are two ways they could really “bend the cost curve down.” But the Dems don’t want to reduce real costs, only shift them to taxpayers. Heaven forbid that consumers, rather than bureaucrats, should make decisions. Excerpt: Right now, HSA plans are the only form of health insurance under which an individual’s out-of-pocket exposure is limited by law. Currently, the limits are $5,950 for individuals and $11,900 for families. For example, a plan could have deductibles as high as $5,950/$11,900 so long as the plan pays all costs above those amounts. Curiously, under the Senate bill the health insurance maximum out-of-pocket would be the same as under HSAs. However, the Senate bill limits the deductible for small group plans to $2,000 for singles and $4,000 for families — roughly one-third the level allowed under current HSA law. The additional out-of-pocket exposure under the Senate bill is from copays and coinsurance above the deductible. Given the option to do so, many people would choose a $5,950 over a $2,000 deductible and place the premium savings in an HSA. But this is a choice the Senate bill would deny them.

Democrats in Congress look for end run to health care win
Excerpt: Congressional Democrats, eager to complete health care legislation by the end of the month, will try to skip the step of having a committee of House and Senate members craft a compromise bill from the different versions produced by the two chambers. Democratic leaders are close to an agreement to negotiate a compromise informally between the two chambers, thus bypassing the conference committee process that would allow Senate Republicans many opportunities to block the bill through the use of a filibuster. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has spoken with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., about using the informal route, leadership aides confirmed to The Examiner.

Abdulmutallab attempted attack forces Obama to multitask
If the terrorists slip chewing gum into the White house, we’re sunk. Excerpt: The attempted bombing of an airplane on Christmas day has forced the Obama Administration to devote large amounts of its time -- publicly and privately -- to addressing the renewed threat of terrorism, raising the question of whether the attack will distract from its promised focus on jobs and the economy. For months, the White House has privately reassured its political allies that starting with Obama's State of the Union address, which has not yet been scheduled but is expected either late this month or early next, the President will make crystal-clear to the American public that his first priority is helping to rebuild the economy and create jobs. (Many Democrats -- particularly members of Congress -- have expressed worries that the extended fight over health care has led some voters to conclude that their party does not have their eye on the economic ball.) But, with the debate over proper next steps to combat global terrorism currently dominating chatter in Washington -- and with a health care bill still not passed through Congress -- some strategists have already begun asking whether the President's focus will drift, at least for the moment, to matters other than jobs and the economy.

Pakistan worried U.S. buildup in Afghanistan will send militants across border
Seem to be catching the “We can’t fight the enemy to hard or it will make them angry” disease from BO and American liberals. Excerpt: As 30,000 U.S. troops begin to deploy to Afghanistan, fears are rising in Pakistan that a stepped-up war just over the border could worsen the increasingly bloody struggle with militancy here. Residents in border areas such as the violence-plagued city of Peshawar worry that a tide of militants could flee Afghanistan to seek targets in Pakistan. Doubts linger among Pakistani security officials about the Americans' ability to intensify the campaign against the Taliban without further destabilizing Pakistan's vast southwestern border or the already volatile tribal areas in the northwest.

How to Recognize and Fight a Terrorist on a Plane
With the Obama Administration and Homeland Security busy watching American veterans for possible right-wing activity, you may need this to protect yourself from the real terrorists. Excerpt: As a passenger you must be observant and vigilant. Most often someone notices some unusual activity or behavior. It doesn’t have to be just a person either. Suspicious bags, luggage, packages, notes, pillows, and electronic devices have been found on planes. One of the biggest advantages you have is the ability to profile. TSA refuses to do the obvious thanks to political correctness. Everyone knows who is committing these attacks -- Muslim, Middle-Eastern men between 18 and 40. Maybe al Qaeda is trying to recruit others than don’t fit this profile but it sure fits the mold right now.

Muslim objections to new flight security measures
Better you and your kids should die than they be offended.

9/11 Didn’t Happen: The Obama Administration Tries to Prove George Bush Was Wrong
Excerpt: Barack Obama has decided he is going to show the world that George Bush was wrong in how he conducted the war on terror. Bush decided to send foreign terrorist enemies to GTMO for questioning by the military and, in a few cases, to be water boarded to get answers. Obama is above that He is better than that. Barack Obama is going to prove to the world and to the 55-60% of Americans who prefer to kill lest we be killed that he is better than them all. Unfortunately for us, our lives are at stake. According to the Washington Post, because Obama decided to treat the terrorist who wanted to blow up Delta 253 over Detroit as a criminal instead of a terrorist, the terrorist now has a defense attorney who has advised the terrorist that he does not have to cooperate or talk.

Somali threats against Swedish illustrator
The continued assault on free speech.

U.S. Muslim: "i could cut your neck with the sword of islam and watch you squeal like a bitch like daniel pearl"
Excerpt: Umar Lee is noteworthy because we are supposed to believe -- according to Honest Ibe Hooper of CAIR, Slick Salam al-Marayati of MPAC, and other Muslim spokesmen in America -- that no Muslims in the United States think this way. But Umar Lee proves that at least some do. It is ironic that he attached this bloodthirsty boast to a post railing about profiling.

Al-Qaida double-agent killed CIA officers
A moderate, well-to-do Muslim doctor. So much for poverty causes terrorism. Excerpt: The suicide bombing on a CIA base in Afghanistan last week was carried out by a Jordanian doctor who was an al-Qaida double-agent, Western intelligence officials told NBC News.

U.S. jihadists in Pakistan: "We are not terrorists. We are jihadists, and jihad is not terrorism."
Excerpt: But their understanding of jihad led these men from Northern Virginia to travel to Pakistan to train to wage war against American troops in Afghanistan. Would any American "moderate" Muslim spokesman care to refute Ramy Zamzam's understanding of jihad?

Treating terrorism as an ordinary crime
Excerpt: In other words, in President Obama's America, a man charged with brandishing a knife during a failed attempt to rob a local eatery could get more prison time than an aspiring suicide bomber who tried unsuccessfully to ignite explosives that would have incinerated him and nearly 300 other passengers and crew members on board Flight 253. This disparity unmasks the illogic of dealing with Islamic terrorists as if they are mere criminal defendants deserving of the same constitutional rights as common thieves.

Copenhagen's Dodged Bullet
Al Gore said the other week that climate change is "a principle in physics. It's like gravity. It exists." Sarah Palin agreed that "climate change is like gravity," but added a better conclusion: Each is "a naturally occurring phenomenon that existed long before, and will exist long after, any governmental attempts to affect it." Over time climates do change. As author Howard Bloom wrote in The Wall Street Journal last month, in the past two million years there have been 60 ice ages, and in the 120,000 years since the development of modern man, "we've lived through 20 sudden global warmings," and of course this was before--long before--"smokestacks and tail pipes."

Intellectuals and Society
Excerpt: But certainly, for the 20th century, it is hard to escape the conclusion that intellectuals have on net balance made the world a worse and more dangerous place. Scarcely a mass-murdering dictator of the 20th century was without his supporters, admirers or apologists among the leading intellectuals-- not only within his own country, but in foreign democracies, where intellectuals were free to say whatever they wanted to. Given the enormous progress made during the 20th century, it may seem hard to believe that intellectuals did so little good as to have that good outweighed by particular wrong-headed notions. But most of those who promoted the scientific, economic and social advances of the 20th century were not really intellectuals in the sense in which that term is most often used.

Couple face child-abuse complaints
The toddler had a broken leg and evidence of three previous breaks.
In a just society, it would be legal to shoot these parents. Excerpt: Fighting parents who allegedly played "tug of war" with their 2 1/2-month-old daughter face child-abuse complaints after it was discovered that the baby had four broken bones, authorities said.

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