Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Political Digest February 2, 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.

New media help conservatives get their anti-Obama message out
Excerpt: In November, the morning after Election Day, a conservative blogger in Georgia blasted an e-mail to 65,000 people. Erick Erickson's 5 a.m. "Morning Briefing" seemed counterintuitive -- the election of a Democrat to a U.S. House seat in Upstate New York held by Republicans for more than a century, he wrote, was "a huge win for conservatives." Yet the missive immediately was posted online by the conservative publication Human Events, a corporate sibling of Erickson's blog, RedState. It next reached the Web site of the American Spectator magazine, whose publisher, Alfred S. Regnery, sits on the board of the conservative publishing house that owns RedState and Human Events. Ricocheting inside the Beltway, Erickson's analysis fueled discussion later that morning at two influential weekly meetings of D.C. conservatives. Next, it was endorsed by radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, considered by many conservatives the ultimate authority. "We kept a horrible Republican from possibly winning," Limbaugh said. The ability of a single e-mail to shape a message illustrates the power of the conservative network -- loosely affiliated blogs, radio hosts, "tea-party" organizers and D.C. institutions that are binding together to fuel opposition to President Obama and, sometimes, to Republicans.

Jon Stewart's Obama barbs on 'The Daily Show' are creating buzz
Excerpt: Days before the 2008 election, Jon Stewart jokingly asked Barack Obama whether his "white half" would have trouble making a decision in the voting booth.
Yeah," the candidate said, "I've been going through therapy to make sure that I vote properly." Last week, though, the president was the punch line. After showing video of Obama speaking to schoolkids, the "Daily Show" host said in amazement: "You set up a presidential podium and a teleprompter in a sixth-grade classroom? . . . I'm not a political adviser, campaign strategist, et cetera, but that's not a great photo op in a middle school classroom." It was inevitable that Obama would become a late-night target, at least when Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien and Dave Letterman have taken time out from sliming one another. But Stewart, who makes no secret of leaning left, is a pop-culture bellwether. And while the White House notes that Obama used the prompter to address journalists, not the students, the details matter little in comedy.

The Fix
Excerpt: Massachusetts Sen.-elect Scott Brown (R) -- the newest, hottest thing in politics -- sat down with ABCs' Barbara Walters over the weekend, delivering a steady performance that suggests his victory last month was not a fluke. The full transcript is available but here are the highlights: 1) On 2012 presidential speculation: "I don't have any -- anything. It's overwhelming, and it's extremely humbling. I don't know how -- what else to tell you." (He didn't rule it out!) 2) Brown affirmed his pro-choice stance; "I feel this issue is best handled between a woman and her doctor and her family." 3) He described himself as a "Scott Brown Republican" and defined it as: "I'm going to go down there and be accountable, accessible, open, and honest, and I'm going to bring good government and fairness back to the equation." 4) Brown on the health care bill: "I think it was on its last legs before I even got elected, because the Democrats even were upset at the backroom deals, for example, in Nebraska." 5) On his nude photo shoot: "My -- my grandmother saw it. She laughed. You know, you have to have a sense -- have to have sense of humor about yourself. It wasn't Playgirl. It was Cosmo."

Republicans urge Democrats to start all over on health care
Excerpt: As senior Democrats struggled to rescue their health-care legislation, Republicans urged President Obama and congressional leaders to give up on the unpopular bill and launch bipartisan talks on a new consensus approach. Ever since Senate Democrats lost their filibuster-proof majority with the Massachusetts special election, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) have explored using special budget rules to fix the Senate version of the bill before passing it through the House. It's a highly unusual and risky manuever, albeit the most direct route Obama's desk, and Pelosi and Reid already have run into numerous internal problems as they search for Democratic votes. Liberals want to strip out the primary source of funding in the Senate bill -- an excise tax on high-cost insurance plans -- and are pressing to add a public insurance option. Yet Democratic moderates are reluctant to take another partisan vote on health care, whatever the bill's contents. Now Reid and Pelosi also must contend with GOP leaders, newly emboldened by their surprise Senate victory, who have latched onto the private talks as the latest example of Democratic strong-arm tactics to push through a bill that polls show Americans view with great skepticism.

We Have To Do Something To Save Social Security
Excerpt: For the next few years, Social Security is fine, however, the system is already setting off alarm signals. The disability program is already in a negative cash flow position and the retirement and survivor's income program is expected to have a negative cash flow in 2010-2011. If we keep on doing nothing until the trust funds that finance the program run dry in 2037, monthly benefits will have to be cut by about 24 percent across the board and the cuts will get deeper than that, says David Walker, who served as the seventh comptroller general of the United States and was the CEO of the U.S. Government Accountability Office. In his new book, "Comeback America," Walker has several suggestions on how to save Social Security.

New Zealand rolled back government and rebuilt economy
Submitted by goldwater on January 26, 2010
Excerpt: Prior to comprehensive reforms 20 years ago, New Zealand was an economic mess, suffering from debt, continual deficits, and a stagnating economy. Out of desperation, New Zealand’s political leaders reduced government spending and enacted fundamental, wide-ranging reform. Since then, New Zealand’s national government has seen a single deficit; it was this year and due to the worldwide recession. One instructive example given by Mr. McTigue concerned agriculture subsidies, which, among other things, were artificially inflating land prices. Everybody knew land prices would collapse when those subsidies ended. Some estimated 31 percent of farmers and at least seven major banks would go bankrupt. Yet, with no bailout or any other government involvement, only one-half of 1 percent of farmers went bankrupt. And not a single bank went under.

Obama's $3.8T budget faces tough reaction from Dem, GOP lawmakers
Excerpt: President Barack Obama's $3.8 trillion budget will get a much tougher reception from lawmakers than last year's request.
Obama's budget will pinch pennies on one side and increase spending to jumpstart the ailing economy with a $100 billion jobs bill. Despite cutting maneuvers, the budget is still projected to leave a $1.27 trillion deficit.

The United States Is ‘Ungovernable’ by Design
Excerpt: Matt Yglesias of Think Progress took a lot of heat from the right last month for stating that America has become ungovernable [1]. Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey said Yglesias wasn’t making these complaints when the Democrats were in the minority [2] and obstructing judges and social security reform. Kim Priestap of Wizbang suggested [3] that Yglesias was trying to make excuses for Obama’s flailing agenda. Yes, Yglesias was being hypocritical. Yes, Yglesias was making excuses. Nonetheless, Yglesias was essentially right. America is ungovernable. It has been for the better part of its history. Regarding the U.S. Senate, Yglesias complained: “It’s a system in which the minority benefits if the government fails, and the minority has the power to ensure failure. It’s insane, and it needs to be changed.” Yglesias hit on the left’s problem, but he stopped short. Yglesias and the left complain about the bind in which they find themselves. They can spare 4o votes on any House vote, and they have a Senate majority, but they can’t get anything done. It’s as if a genius schemed against them to thwart their efforts and require impossibly large majorities to accomplish something. A genius did conspire against the left, but their foe isn’t Karl Rove. In fact, he’s been dead for 173 years. By fingering the system as the problem, Yglesias identified the system’s creators as the enemy and James Madison in particular. But our founders didn’t set out to frustrate any specific people. They were concerned with one big question: how does one prevent a republic from degenerating into tyranny, as all historical republics had?

Nine Days Before Election, Boston Globe's Pierce Ridiculed Notion Brown Could Win
Nice to see the biased media get stuffed. Excerpt: veteran Globe Magazine writer Charles Pierce ridiculed the idea Brown could win, in a piece formulated as a letter to Brown: Well, we’re almost here, aren’t we? The end of a long, arduous, four-month campaign for a Senate seat that you have approximately the same chance of filling as you did the pilot’s chair of the Starship Enterprise. The cocky Pierce wasn’t done, writing in his weekly “Pierced” column toward the front of the January 10 magazine: The notion that Massachusetts would elect a Republican to fill the seat left vacant by Edward Kennedy was the property of people who buy interesting mushrooms in interesting places. You might as well expect the House of Windsor to be succeeded on the British throne by the Kardashian sisters. Pierce is infamous for his 2003 Globe Magazine tribute to Ted Kennedy in which he ludicrously postulated: “If she had lived, Mary Jo Kopechne would be 62 years old. Through his tireless work as a legislator, Edward Kennedy would have brought comfort to her in her old age.”

Obama: We Had Nothing to Do With Cornhusker Kickback, Emanuel: Yes We Did
Who’s on first? Mr. Clean and Mr. Chicago.

Democrats slip but still dominate in party affiliation
Excerpt: New data out of Gallup shows that Democratic party affiliation has shrunk in 39 states over the past year but the party still retains a considerable edge in the overall partisan makeup of the country. The Democratic edge has narrowed by five points or more in 14 states, according to the numbers, which take a year's worth of daily tracking polls to produce their results, released today by Gallup. The biggest shrinkage -- with apologies to George Costanza -- came in Ohio where Democrats had an 18-point self-identification advantage in 2008 and just a 10-point margin in 2009. That erosion should be of serious concern to Democrats as the Buckeye State will play host to a very competitive governor's race as well as an open seat Senate contest this fall.

Joseph Massad at UCLA: Gay-Bashing 101
Excerpt: From inception to completion, Massad’s lecture was nothing more than gay-bashing. This was on par with the thesis of Massad’s 2007 book, Desiring Arabs, which posits that gay sexuality among Muslims does not exist. Rather, it is a Western plot designed to undermine the Muslim world. Massad echoed many of these bigoted themes in his lecture. He explained that “Queer is about resistance to Islam.” Similarly, he said that “There is no Arabic transliteration of queer. It is a judgmental notice of deviance.” In a particularly striking claim, Massad insisted that, for Muslims, concepts like “hate and sexuality are only translatable to English-speaking people.” Muslim honor killings, presumably, are only a figment of non-Muslims imagination. Massad also used the occasion to present a novel – and decidedly homophobic – conspiracy theory. “Queer is an imperialist term,” he announced. “It is part of the Anglo-American gay agenda.” Indeed, according to Massad, “queer is an example of cultural imperialism.” It followed, by his perverse logic, that the “use of ‘gay’ in Iran is imperial politics.” The claim called to mind Mahmoud Ahmadinejad notorious speech at Columbia University, in which he assured the audience that there are no gay people in his country. It’s notable that the views of a theocratic despot should find such staunch backing in the hear of supposedly progressive academia.

A GOP Senate Majority May Not Be Out of Reach in 2010
Excerpt: “A few months ago, even GOP leaders said that taking over the Senate was a pipe dream, and it is still not probable. But as some independents sour on the Democratic Party, the possibility for a GOP majority can no longer be dismissed out of hand,” writes Larry Sabato, the director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.

Leader of Pakistani Taliban thought to be dead after U.S. strikes
Hopeful news. Excerpt: ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN -- U.S. and Pakistani officials said Sunday that they were growing increasingly confident that the leader of the Pakistani Taliban had died after being wounded in a U.S. missile strike, signaling the possible demise of an insurgent commander notorious for his role in a series of high-profile bombings, including a devastating strike against the CIA. Pakistani state television broadcast news of Hakimullah Mehsud's death and said he had been buried in the Orakzai tribal agency after succumbing to injuries sustained in a U.S. unmanned aerial strike in mid-January. A senior White House official later said he was "95 percent" certain that Mehsud had been killed. A senior U.S. military official said he also believed Mehsud was dead. But other U.S. officials said the reports still needed to be investigated.

Nightmare in the Middle East
Excerpt: Whatever planet Earth may find in short supply in 2010, violence and misrule will remain abundant, from the most-recent round of Muslim-vs.-Christian massacres in Nigeria to Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez's delight in unleashing his thugs on students marching for freedom. But no region — not even sub-Saharan Africa — competes with the greater Middle East when it comes to wanton savagery, thwarted opportunities and the danger posed to innocent populations around the world. With fanatical terrorists of unprecedented brutality, Islamist extremists pursuing nuclear weapons, rogue regimes, disintegrating states and threats of genocide against Israel, the lands of heat and dust between the Nile and the Indus form a realm of deadly failure that will haunt the civilized world throughout our lifetimes. A survey of the region's key countries — and problems — doesn't offer much good news for the Obama Administration's naive foreign policy efforts:

UAE: Pakistani man beats wife to death for "disobedience"
Excerpt: There can be no truly frank and forthright discussion about domestic violence in Islamic societies without acknowledging the role of Qur'an 4:34: "Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them."

Terrorists 'plan attack on Britain with bombs INSIDE their bodies' to foil new airport scanners
So now what—X-rays? Excerpt: Britain is facing a new Al Qaeda terror threat from suicide ‘body bombers’ with explosives surgically inserted inside them. Until now, terrorists have attacked airlines, Underground trains and buses by secreting bombs in bags, shoes or underwear to avoid detection. But an operation by MI5 has uncovered evidence that Al Qaeda is planning a new stage in its terror campaign by inserting ‘surgical bombs’ inside people for the first time.

The Islam Tax
Excerpt: Look at your next airline ticket and you will find a "Security Fee". What is the Security Fee that was passed after September 11, 2001? It is an Islam tax. It is more money out of an American's pocket to pay for the privilege of living with Muslims amongst us. It turns out that we pay an enormous amount of money for our life with Islam. Let's look at a list of expenses that we bear because of Islamic ideology. If there were no Islam we would not have the Transportation Security Administration, Homeland Security, the Iraq war, the Afghanistan war, all that so-called terrorist work by the FBI, rebuilding the World Trade Center and who knows what else. The Iraq war has cost about $700 billion, the Afghan war has cost about $250 billion and all of the government agencies cost in the neighborhood of tens of billions per year. We are up to at least a TRILLION dollars of our Islam tax. That little $10 Security Fee may seem small, but that is for every round trip ticket sold in the US. What will the trial in NYC for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed cost? Millions of dollars. And the hits just keep coming.

Hamas leader linked to Iranian weapons
Excerpt: Days after Hamas accused Israel of electrocuting and poisoning one of its commanders in his Dubai hotel room, Israel claimed Sunday that the dead man played a critical role in smuggling rockets from Iran to Palestinian militants in Gaza……Hamas has been quiet about the reason for Mr. al-Mabhouh’s travels, though a brother says he was on a mission for the militant group. One senior Hamas figure, Osama Hamdan, denied Mr. al-Mabhouh was on a special assignment or that he was planning to head on from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to Iran. Israeli defense officials said Mr. al-Mabhouh was key to smuggling Iranian arms to Gaza, in particular rockets that could fly as far as the metropolis Tel Aviv, some 40 miles to the north. Several rockets fired during the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza last winter hit cities as far as 25 miles away.

New Marine toy for dealing with IEDs, etc.

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