Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Political Digest February 16, 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.

Report: Sen. Bayh to retire
Thank you, Barack. Excerpt: Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) will not seek re-election in 2010, the Washington Post reports. If true, the news is a big loss for Democrats, opening up a very competitive seat in what's shaping up to be a tough cycle for Democrats. Bayh had over $13 million ready to wage a re-election campaign against former Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.), and Democrats had already begun to portray Coats as a Washington lobbyist who abandoned Indiana. A popular former governor, Bayh was first elected to the Senate in 1998.

Must Read: In Black Caucus, a Fund-Raising Powerhouse
From those right-wing racists at the New York Times! Excerpt: When the Congressional Black Caucus wanted to pay off the mortgage on its foundation’s stately 1930s redbrick headquarters on Embassy Row, it turned to a familiar roster of friends: corporate backers like Wal-Mart, AT&T, General Motors, Coca-Cola and Altria, the nation’s largest tobacco company.Skip to next paragraph The latest on President Obama, his administration and other news from Washington and around the nation. Join the discussion. Soon enough, in 2008, a jazz band was playing at what amounted to a mortgage-burning party for the $4 million town house. Most political groups in Washington would have been barred by law from accepting that kind of direct aid from corporations. But by taking advantage of political finance laws, the caucus has built a fund-raising juggernaut unlike anything else in town. It has a traditional political fund-raising arm subject to federal rules. But it also has a network of nonprofit groups and charities that allow it to collect unlimited amounts of money from corporations and labor unions. From 2004 to 2008, the Congressional Black Caucus’s political and charitable wings took in at least $55 million in corporate and union contributions, according to an analysis by The New York Times, an impressive amount even by the standards of a Washington awash in cash. Only $1 million of that went to the caucus’s political action committee; the rest poured into the largely unregulated nonprofit network. (Data for 2009 is not available.) The caucus says its nonprofit groups are intended to help disadvantaged African-Americans by providing scholarships and internships to students, researching policy and holding seminars on topics like healthy living. But the bulk of the money has been spent on elaborate conventions that have become a high point of the Washington social season, as well as the headquarters building, golf outings by members of Congress and an annual visit to a Mississippi casino resort. In 2008, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation spent more on the caterer for its signature legislative dinner and conference — nearly $700,000 for an event one organizer called “Hollywood on the Potomac” — than it gave out in scholarships, federal tax records show….. But caucus members have attracted increasing scrutiny from ethics investigators. All eight open House investigations involve caucus members, and most center on accusations of improper ties to private businesses.

Trial lawyers to Obama: Don’t deal on tort reform in healthcare negotiations
Not to worry. The Democrat leadership in the White House, US House and US Senate is all lawyers—and the Lawsuit Industry in not only one of the largest in the country, but one of the largest contributors to Democrats. BO wants Republican ideas—but not any that would lower healthcare costs at the expense of trail lawyers. Excerpt: President Barack Obama wants a bipartisan deal on health reform, but trial lawyers don’t want him to deal on a top Republican priority: tort reform. Trial lawyers defeated President George W. Bush’s push for medical liability reform and successfully lobbied to water down tort reform provisions in healthcare reform bills this Congress. But the battle is far from over. And in an odd twist, a longtime ally of the trial lawyers could be the one to resurrect the idea -- President Barack Obama. “I would hope this would be an area we just don’t go,” said Linda Lipsen, vice president for public affairs at the American Association for Justice, the trade group for trial attorneys.

The waiting game
Government-run health care in Ireland. Excerpt: The plight of those waiting for orthopaedic treatment does not typically elicit the same emotive response as cancer. But speak to one of the thousands of adults and children waiting for surgical procedures for more than three months, and you’ll come across some extremely frustrated individuals. Many of those - 5,673 to be precise - have been waiting for over six months (that figure includes the wait for all surgical specialities, such as plastic surgery). But, in some respects, they are the lucky ones. Lucky to be on a list at all, that is. As orthopaedic surgeons are increasingly forced to shut their outpatient clinics, many more people will find that they cannot even get to see a doctor, let alone get onto awaiting list. Aidan Gleeson, chief executive of Cappagh Hospital, which is the biggest orthopaedic hospital in the country, described patients who were waiting to be assessed by doctors in orthopaedic outpatient departments as the ‘‘uncounted souls’’.

U.S. has best health care in world
Excerpt: Every fact and statistic requires a comprehensive evaluation and consideration, including its possible effects to the total area within which it applies, before it can be effectively understood. Of current major civic subjects, national health care is near the top of the list. Here are some facts warranting understanding: As recently published by Investor Business Daily, a survey by the U.N. International Health Organization has reported: Percentage of men and women who survived a cancer five years after diagnosis: U.S. 65 percent, Eng-land 46 percent, Canada 42 percent. Percentage of patients diagnosed with diabetes who received treatment within six months: U.S. 93 percent, England 15 percent, Canada 43 percent. Percentage of seniors needing hip replacement who received it within six months: U.S. 90 percent, England 15 percent, Canada 43 percent.

Poll Shows Eroding Support for Health Reform
Excerpt: While half of Americans want some kind of health reform in the next two years, nearly 40 percent say it would be a good thing if the legislation proposed by the Democrats and President Barack Obama never materializes. And one-quarter aren't sure if health reform would be good or bad for the country, a new Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll finds." Essentially what they're saying is we want reform but we don't trust or like what we're seeing now," said Humphrey Taylor, chairman of The Harris Poll, a service of Harris Interactive. While reforming health care is still important for many Americans, the most pressing issue is fixing the troubled economy, the poll found. When asked to pick two top priorities for the President and Congress, about 8 out of 10 of respondents, regardless of their political persuasion, picked reducing unemployment and creating new jobs as a top priority over the next few months. Among Democrats, health reform came next (59 percent), while among Republicans preventing a terrorist attack in the United States (64 percent) took second place. (Suppose the question was worded, “Preventing a terrorist attack that would kill a member of your family?”

Republican group American Action hopes to mimic Democrats' success
Excerpt: For much of the past decade, Republicans jealously eyed the outside organizations built by Democrats -- groups that operate independently of the party's elected officials to provide polling, messaging and policy advice. Those organizations played no small part in the Democrats' takeovers of the White House, Senate and House in the past two elections. Many Republican strategists have acknowledged that even such successful conservative organizations as the Heritage Foundation lack the political sophistication of their counterparts on the Democratic side, such as the Center for American Progress. Out of power at every level in Washington, Republicans have adopted a "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" strategy -- mimicking some of the most successful ideas put in place by Democrats over the past decade (or so) in hopes of preparing the party for the 2010 midterm election and beyond. The latest iteration is an organization called the American Action Network, which aims to serve as a "conveyor belt of ideas" for the Republican Party, according to former congressman Vin Weber (Minn.), a member of the group's board.

Series of missteps by climate scientists threatens climate-change agenda
Not to worry. Algore will still make millions off of “climate change” this year, allowing him to keep his carbon-hog lifestyle. Excerpt: With its 2007 report declaring that the "warming of the climate system is unequivocal," the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change won a Nobel Prize -- and a new degree of public trust in the controversial science of global warming. But recent revelations about flaws in that seminal report, ranging from typos in key dates to sloppy sourcing, are undermining confidence not only in the panel's work but also in projections about climate change. Scientists who have pointed out problems in the report say the panel's methods and mistakes -- including admitting Saturday that it had overstated how much of the Netherlands was below sea level -- give doubters an opening. It wasn't the first one. There is still a scientific consensus that humans are causing climate change. But in the past year, a cache of stolen e-mails, revealing that prominent climate scientists sought to prevent the publication of works by their detractors, has sullied their image as impartial academics. The errors in the U.N. report -- a document intended to be the last nail in the coffin of climate doubt -- are a serious problem that could end up forcing environmentalists to focus more on the old question of proving that climate change is a threat, instead of the new question of how to stop it.

World may not be warming, say scientists
But, I thought the scientific consensus was the debate was over? Deniers will be persecuted! Excerpt: The temperature records cannot be relied on as indicators of global change,” said John Christy, professor of atmospheric science at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, a former lead author on the IPCC. The doubts of Christy and a number of other researchers focus on the thousands of weather stations around the world, which have been used to collect temperature data over the past 150 years. These stations, they believe, have been seriously compromised by factors such as urbanisation, changes in land use and, in many cases, being moved from site to site. Christy has published research papers looking at these effects in three different regions: east Africa, and the American states of California and Alabama.

There Has Been No Global Warming Since 1995
Great “science.” And if there has been no global warming since 1995, how did it cause Hurricane Katrina, as Algore said? Excerpt: The academic at the center of the "Climategate" affair, whose raw data is crucial to the theory of climate change, has admitted that he has trouble "keeping track" of the information. Colleagues say that the reason Professor Phil Jones has refused Freedom of Information requests is that he may have actually lost the relevant papers: Professor Jones told the BBC this weekend there was truth in the observations of colleagues that he lacked organizational skills, that his office was swamped with piles of paper and that his record keeping is "not as good as it should be." The data is crucial to the famous "hockey stick graph" used by climate change advocates to support the theory. Professor Jones also conceded the possibility that the world was warmer in medieval times than now -- suggesting global warming may not be a man-made phenomenon. And he said that for the past 15 years there has been no "statistically significant" warming.

How Larry Kotlikoff Would Fix the Financial System
Interesting, but way beyond my expertise. Excerpt: The publishing world is too slow for Laurence J. Kotlikoff. On a frigid January day, the 58-year-old Boston University economist is pecking away at his computer keyboard in his airy office overlooking the Charles River. Kotlikoff's forthcoming book, Jimmy Stewart is Dead, calls for a radical—and swift—reorganization of the financial system. So rather than wait for the book's Feb. 22 publication date, Kotlikoff is e-mailing PDF versions to dozens of economists, journalists, and policymakers. "We have miscreants running the financial system left, right, and center," says Kotlikoff. "Nobody is calling the [Obama] Administration to task and saying, 'You guys are putting a Band-Aid on cancer.'" Kotlikoff would drain the risk-taking out of commercial and investment banks, hedge funds, and insurance companies—turning them into boring, narrow intermediaries akin to mutual-fund firms. Instead of taking deposits and making loans, banks would connect borrowers and depositors with ultrasafe mutual funds created for those purposes. That would solve the problem of banks not keeping enough money in their vaults to pay depositors if they all wanted their money at once, a flaw vividly demonstrated to George Bailey, the character played by Jimmy Stewart in It's a Wonderful Life (hence the title of Kotlikoff's book). Kotlikoff sounds so unrealistic that, like George Bailey, he could use a guardian angel to set him straight. But he's beginning to catch the attention of powerful policymakers and the economists who have their ears. In Kotlikoff's biggest coup yet, Bank of England Governor Mervyn King—Britain's counterpart to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke—urged members of Parliament to study the plan. In the U.S., Kotlikoff's "limited-purpose banking" idea is finding support among economists across the political spectrum, including University of Chicago Nobel laureate Robert Lucas on the right and Columbia University's Jeffrey Sachs on the left.

Use of Genetically Modified Alfalfa Unnecessarily Held Hostage
Excerpt: What’s the most sustainable way to grow the food we eat? If you think the answer is always local and organic, you may be surprised by a new study from England’s most prestigious scientific body, the Royal Society. This highly anticipated report says there’s much we can learn from organic practices, but it embraces the use of science and technology for producing more food on less land. Importantly, the Royal Society says that protecting the environment in the 21st century will require the adoption of sophisticated agricultural technologies including biotechnology and genetically modified crops. That’s welcome news for America’s farmers and consumers. For most of the last two decades the U.S. has been the undisputed leader in the development and adoption of biotech crops. Ironically, as an increasing number of farmers in Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America take up these innovative varieties, burdensome regulations here at home have raised development and approval costs and kept many potentially important products from reaching the market. Opponents have even turned to courts to slow down the introduction of new varieties. Two years ago a group of activists and farmers sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture, claiming the department’s scientists didn’t follow, to the letter, a law called the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) when they approved a biotech crop called Roundup Ready alfalfa.

California is America's Greece
Excerpt: To think that Greece's troubles are an ocean and a sea away from where we stand in North America is to have your head in the Mediterranean sand. In Greece we have a near bankrupt, over-indebted, overspending nanny state, drowning in future liabilities; where civil servants are pampered and overpaid; in which unions are demanding a continuation of their inflated wages and entitlements; and productive individuals and businesses are leaving for more favorable climes. Where have we heard all this before? Ah yes: California. California is our Greece, and New York is our Italy.

American Thinker: A Further Inquiry into Obama's Origins http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/02/a_further_inquiry_into_obamas_1.html
I have stayed away from the “birther” movement, other than including the article attributing its origins to Clinton supporters at Hillbuzz.com. In my view, it’s a distraction from the issues before the country. No court would overturn an election; doubly so when doing so would result in massive riots, death and destruction in our cities. But I found this discussion interesting. Take it for what you will. Excerpt: Last week I contributed an article to American Thinker on Obama's origins that evoked a good deal of informed response. In it, I argued that the failure of the mainstream media to document the first year of Barack Obama's life has rendered the media accounts of the year before his birth suspect. Here is what we know about Obama's first year. On August 19, 1961, fifteen days after Obama's presumed birth, his mother, "Stanley Ann Dunham," enrolled for classes at the University of Washington at Seattle.

Palin for President: Not Just Yet
Excerpt: If anyone needs proof that a little-experienced candidate does not make a good President, all you have to do is relive the first year of the Obama Presidency. Even as the media incessantly pressured us to believe that he was the present-day version of John F. Kennedy, a few thoughtful observers noticed that the comparison didn’t really add up. After all, Jack Kennedy had spent 14 years in Congress before being elected President – eight of those in the Senate. He campaigned across the country for other candidates and worked through the legislative process in both houses. He had long-term relationships and actual national experience. Even with that, his ticket needed the addition of a political enemy, Lyndon Johnson, to secure an electoral victory. (My view was that she needed to stay in Alaska, get elected to the US Senate, and develop a reputation for seriousness and depth on the national issues. She will still be young enough to run in 2020.)

U.S. tax code grows increasingly unfair
Having just written a fairly large check to the Feds to go with my 2009 return, I can relate. Excerpt: The tax code of the United States of America is unfair - and getting worse. Millions of Americans don't pay their fair share. But these folks are not greedy Wall Street executives. The Americans who are not contributing to education, defense, transportation and the national debt are the "nonpayers." In 2007, nearly one-third of all income tax returns filed - some 46.6 million returns - resulted in no federal income tax due. "In about half the cases, additional money was 'refunded' to these tax filers - meaning they received a check from the government - similar to welfare spending programs," said Scott Hodge, president of the Tax Foundation, a nonprofit founded in 1937 to "educate taxpayers about sound tax policy." "The number of 'nonpayers' can be expected to soar due to programs such as President Obama's 'Making Work Pay' tax credit," Hodge said. "We now have an enormous class of Americans who are disconnected from the cost of government and have no skin in the game, and that is not good for democracy." Hodge elaborated in an interview. "It's a very serious problem for not only our democracy but for our society to have so many people disconnected from the cost of government," Hodge said. "If you know someone else is paying for something, you'll demand ever more of it." As an example, Hodge cited a situation with which Tennesseans are very familiar - "free" health care. As U.S. Reps. Phil Roe, R-Johnson City, and Marsha Blackburn, R-Brentwood, wrote in an op-ed for RealClearPolitics last summer, "TennCare's gold plated coverage included every doctor's appointment and prescription. As such, patients with a cold opted to charge the state hundreds of dollars for doctor visits and medicine instead of paying $5 out of pocket for over-the-counter cold medicine." They concluded, "When the illusion of 'free' care is fostered, it always leads to over-utilization."

Democrats exiting the sinking ship?--Part 22: Massachusetts
Excerpt: Democrat Bill Delahunt has represented the 10th congressional district of Massachusetts since 1996. Since his first election he has never had significant opposition. He won the seat 54%-41% in 1996 and received between 64% and 70% of the vote in general elections from 1998 to 2006. In 2008 he had no Republican opponent at all. This year looks different. In the January 19 special Senate election Republican Scott Brown carried the 10th district 60%-40%. Now the Boston Globe reports that Delahunt is considering retiring rather than running for reelection. He is quoted as saying, “I have held elective office for nearly 40 years. I understand that there is always an ebb and flow. Today you are up and tomorrow you are down. That is the rhythm of political life.” But this year the rhythm seems especially negative. As the Globe reports, Republican challengers are suddenly springing up in almost all corners of New England. First, Delahunt has a well-known Republican opponent, former state Treasurer Joe Malone. In addition three other Republicans are running for the party’s nomination. A poll conducted by the Republican firm of McLaughlin and Associates for Malone shows him leading Delahunt among likely voters 37%-34%. That’s a suspiciously high number of undecideds. But 34% is also far lower—in fact it’s only about half—of the percentages Delahunt won in general elections from 1998 to 200

Dudley leads GOP's West Coast offense
At 6’11,” Chris Dudley stands out in any room. But the former Portland Trail Blazer is especially noticeable in a room full of Republicans like Friday night’s Linn County GOP Lincoln Day dinner. He is younger than most except for the College Republicans from nearby Oregon State University and Western Oregon. He is new to politics. And he is a draw, fully wired into a social media network that will certainly grow as word of a serious hoopster-turned-pol spreads. (www.ChrisDudley.com) Dudley is running for governor in a state where Republicans have slipped to a level not seen in places except, well, like Massachusetts. Of Oregon’s two United States senators and five congressmen, only one is a Republican, Greg Waldon. President Obama bested Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, by more than 275,000 votes in 2008.

Obama Making Plans to Use Executive Power
Congress? We don’t need no stinking Congress! Excerpt: With much of his legislative agenda stalled in Congress, President Obama and his team are preparing an array of actions using his executive power to advance energy, environmental, fiscal and other domestic policy priorities. Mr. Obama has not given up hope of progress on Capitol Hill, aides said, and has scheduled a session with Republican leaders on health care later this month. But in the aftermath of a special election in Massachusetts that cost Democrats unilateral control of the Senate, the White House is getting ready to act on its own in the face of partisan gridlock heading into the midterm campaign. “We are reviewing a list of presidential executive orders and directives to get the job done across a front of issues,” said Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff.

The Marines move on Marja: A perilous slog against Afghanistan's Taliban
Excerpt: For the Marines of Charlie Company's 3rd Platoon, Sunday's mission was simple enough: Head west for a little more than a mile to link up with Alpha Company in preparation for a mission to secure the few ramshackle government buildings in this farming community.
It would take nine hours to walk that distance, a journey that would reveal the danger and complexity of the Marines' effort to wrest control of Marja from the Taliban. (“Everything in war is simple, but the simplest thing is difficult. The difficulties accumulate and end by producing a kind of friction that is inconceivable unless one has experienced war.” –Karl von Clausewitz)

Calif. Senatorial Candidate Responds To Muslim Hooliganism
Excerpt: Here is an "Alice in Wonderland" campus reality — in which the characters are deadly serious, and the suckers are us. Let's be clear: these are not campus "rowdies," or rude and disrespectful "students." These “students” are the front line of an army of Muslims that is waiting patiently to take over and subvert our country. Confrontation and disruption is their job. This is what they’ve been trained for, and they are right on target. As their numbers and influence grow, they will be attempting a political takeover, and if that doesn’t work, they will turn to further intimidation, murder and terrorism — just as they’ve already proved in dozens of countries around the world.

Five Australians jailed for jihad plot
They need to better distribute that “Islam is a Religion of Peace” memo. A lot of folks didn’t get it. Excerpt: Five Australian Muslim men convicted of plotting to commit violent jihad in Australia were jailed on Monday for terms ranging from 23 to 28 years.
The men were found guilty in October 2009 of conspiring to commit a terror attack between July 2004 and November 2005, by stockpiling weapons and chemicals to make bombs, in retaliation at Australia's involvement in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Two in custody after Fort Worth bomb scare
Didn’t get the memo. Excerpt: The Fort Worth bomb squad detonated four charges that were found in a pickup truck that spun out on a slick road during a police pursuit. Two people are in custody, and one of them — Kimberly Suzanne Al-Homsi — is well-known to police and federal agents.

"Is there any other religion they've had 'thousands' of townhalls and meetings with, or are they only listening to Muslims?"
Excerpt: Both Obama and Rashad Hussein refer to "thousands" of townhalls and meetings held around the world, where the US apparently "listened" to Muslims. Can we get a list of these? How much did they cost? Who did the talking? What was the agenda?
Is there any other religion they've had "thousands" of townhalls and meetings with, or are they only listening to Muslims? How about the Coptic and Iraqi Christians being slaughtered -- any listening going on with the authorities there? (My take is it’s just another of those casual lies BO tells when it suits his talk—like claimed that his parents got together because of the Selma Civil Rights march, which took place four years after his birth.)

Five Baha'i followers arrested in Iran
They must not understand how tolerant Islam is. Excerpt: Five members of the outlawed Baha'i faith, which has been a target in a security crackdown sparked by post-election violence in Iran, have been arrested on unspecified charges, an Iranian newspaper said on Sunday.

San Francisco helps out Haiti
Too funny.

Barack Obama statue removed from Jakarta park
Sad News. Excerpt: Authorities removed a statue of Barack Obama from a park in the Indonesian capital due to a public backlash and moved it Monday to a nearby elementary school that the U.S. president attended as a child. The bronze statue, inspired by a childhood photograph of a 10-year-old Obama in shorts with a butterfly perched on an outstretched thumb, had been targeted by critics since it was erected in the Jakarta park last December. Detractors argued that an Indonesian hero should have been honored instead, noting that Obama still could pursue policies that hurt Indonesia's interests. Obama, whose American mother married an Indonesian after divorcing his Kenyan father, went to school in the capital from 1967 to 1971 and is regarded fondly by most Indonesians.

Two Washington’s Birthday quotes from George
"The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the republican model of government, are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American People."

"Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great Pillars of human happiness -- these firmest props of the duties of Men and citizens." The Patriot Post - www.patriotpost.us/subscribe/

No comments:

Post a Comment