Saturday, February 6, 2010

Political Digest February 7, 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.

Illinois LT. Governor Story
This just gets more delightful. All the Democrats are desperate to get the guy off the ticket. But I read he spent $3M of his own money winning the primary. So if they are going to buy him off the ticket, it will cost them at least that, right? Republicans are staying quiet, trying to keep from bursting out in chuckles. Myself, I think he fits fine with the Chicago political scene: Blagojevich, Tony Rezko, whom columnist John Kass calls Obama’s real estate fairy, 29 Aldermen convicted of corruption in the last 40 years, Daley, Rahm who won his Congressional seat illegally using city workers he knew nothing about to campaign for him…

Pressure grows on Cohen,0,1975189.story
Excerpt: The calls for Democratic lieutenant governor nominee Scott Lee Cohen to step aside grew louder Friday as party leaders fear allegations of domestic abuse and other unsavory behavior will ultimately doom their chances in the November election. Top Democrats from Springfield to Chicago said Cohen should drop out, including Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, comptroller nominee David Miller, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and U.S. Reps. Danny Davis and Phil Hare. They join Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, the U.S. Senate nominee, in asking Cohen to withdraw. Madigan said Cohen's "extreme character flaws are an insult to the people of Illinois" and called on him to step down "immediately."

Ex-girlfriend: Cohen not fit to hold public office
Excerpt: The ex-girlfriend of embattled Democratic lieutenant governor nominee Scott Lee Cohen put out a statement through her lawyer this evening saying Cohen is not fit to hold public office. Amanda Eneman, 29, issued the statement through Gloria Allred, a high-profile California attorney. Cohen, a pawnbroker, was accused of holding a knife to the throat of his then-girlfriend Eneman, a convicted prostitute, in October 2005. Charges were dismissed after Eneman failed to show up in court. Allred said Eneman lived with Cohen for “about a year some four or five years ago.”

Mark Steyn: Unsustainable's the new normal
Excerpt: Which is embarrassingly true. Hence, the awful flop speeches, from the Copenhagen Olympics to the Berlin Wall anniversary video to the Martha Coakley rally. The palpable whiff given off by the White House inner circle is that they're the last people on the planet still besotted by Barack Obama, and that they're having such a cool time starring in their own reality-show remake of "The West Wing" they can only conceive of the public – and, indeed, the world – as crowd-scene extras in "The Barack Obama Show." They expect you to cheer and wave flags when the floor manager tells you to, but the notion that, in return, he should be able to persuade you of the merits of his policies seems entirely to have eluded them. But, since Obama's mispronunciation is a pithier summation of the State of the Union than any of the dreary 90-minute sludge he paid his speechwriters for, let us consider it: Is America a Corpseman walking? Well, we're getting there. National Review's Jim Geraghty sums up Obama's America thus: "Unsustainable is the new normal." Indeed. The other day, Douglas Elmendorf, director of the Congressional Budget Office, described current deficits as "unsustainable." So let's make them even more so. The president tells us, with a straight face, that his grossly irresponsible profligate wastrel of a predecessor took the federal budget on an eight-year joyride, so the only way his sober, fiscally prudent successor can get things under control is to grab the throttle and crank it up to what Mel Brooks in "Spaceballs" (which seems the appropriate comparison) called "Ludicrous Speed." Obama's spending proposes to take the average Bush deficit for the years 2001-08, and double it, all the way to 2020. To get out of the Bush hole, we need to dig a hole twice as deep for one-and-a-half times as long. And that's according to the official projections of his Economics Czar, Ms. Rose Colored-Glasses. By 2015, the actual hole may be so deep that even if you toss every Obama speech down it on double-spaced paper you still won't be able to fill it up. In the spendthrift Bush days, federal spending as a proportion of GDP averaged 19.6 percent. Obama proposes to crank it up to 25 percent as a permanent feature of life…. Speaking of roads, I see that, according to USA Today, when the economic downturn began the U.S. Department of Transportation had just one employee making over $170,000. A year and a half later, it has 1,690.

Rising revolt in Pennsylvania
Excerpt: ‘I’m running like I’m 20 points behind and I’ll continue to run like I’m 20 points be hind,” says Pat Toomey, the presumptive GOP nominee for Senate in Pennsylvania — who in fact now leads Sen. Arlen Specter 45 percent to 31 percent among likely voters in the latest Franklin & Marshall College poll. Specter, who switched parties last year for fear of losing a Republican primary to Toomey, still has to finish off a challenger from the left, Rep. Joe Sestak, in the May 18 Democratic primary. Meanwhile, as the nation turns sour on the Obama agenda that Specter has helped enact, Toomey’s been charging up — six months ago, he was down eight points. Campaigning across the state, Toomey says he’s hearing time and again that it’s Washington’s “lurch to the left” that “Pennsylvanians don’t like.” The bailouts and ObamaCare are both flashpoints. The effort to pass the “card-check” bill to ease union organizing is a loser for Specter, too, even in this union-friendly state. Above all, Toomey reports, voters are asking the government, Why aren’t you focused on the economy?

Obama seeks to rally glum Dems amid GOP challenges
Excerpt: Just a year after celebrating Barack Obama's inauguration, despondent Democrats on Saturday heard from their party leader who urged optimism in the face of Republicans' strong challenge to their congressional dominance. The president said political leaders must plot their way forward to November with an understanding of the economic difficulties Americans face. "I understand their frustration. You understand it as well," Obama said. At its winter meeting, a defiant Democratic Party worked to project a message of strength even as loyalists acknowledged the prospect of several defeats in November. The party that controls the White House typically loses seats during midterm elections at an average rate of 28 net House seats. President Bill Clinton, the last Democratic commander in chief, lost control of Congress in his first term and Democrats privately are predicting it could happen again.

The myth of Washington bipartisanship and the art of true compromise
Excerpt: Give this to Scott Brown: He's just been sworn in, and he's already having a positive impact on the governing dynamic in the capital. The president, key lawmakers and even the press have begun to focus on the dysfunctionality of the political process that now threatens all incumbents, irrespective of party and ideology. People have begun to talk to one another -- Obama with House Republicans, Jon Stewart with Bill O'Reilly -- and the tone has gotten noticeably more civil. In the 12-step program for overcoming our partisan addiction, we're now somewhere between Step 1 (acknowledging the problem) and Step 2 (accepting personal responsibility for doing something about it).

Analysis: Obama-Dalai Lama meeting only option
Just a week after enraging China with an arms sale package for rival Taiwan, President Barack Obama risks more damage to this crucial relationship by agreeing to meet with the Dalai Lama in two weeks. The truth is, he has little choice. Obama already postponed the visit once, angering U.S. lawmakers and human rights groups. As Obama struggles to regain his footing after political setbacks, the last thing he needs is to open himself up to fresh criticism that he is kowtowing to China. So on Thursday, his administration confirmed what had long been expected: Obama will meet with the Dalai Lama when the Tibetan monk visits Washington on Feb. 17-18. China immediately urged the United States to scrap the meeting to avoid hurting bilateral ties. China accuses the Dalai Lama of pushing for Tibetan independence, which the Dalai Lama denies, and believes that shunning the exiled Tibetan monk should be a basic principle of international relations for countries that want to deal with China. In reality, China could not have been surprised by Thursday's announcement. Every U.S. president for the last two decades has met with the Dalai Lama, and those visits are considered powerful signs of the American commitment to human rights. Obama also told Chinese leaders last year that he would meet with the monk.

Obama’s aunt battles deportation order in Boston court
Your tax dollars at work. Excerpt: An immigration hearing that could lead to the deportation of President Obama’s aunt, Zeituni Onyango, ended today without a decision being issued. Onyango has been living in Boston and has been under a deportation order since 2004 when her request for asylum was denied by a US Immigration Court judge.

Taliban to execute US soldier if Aafia not released
I’m sure they read the soldier his Miranda rights. Excerpt: The Afghan Taliban on Thursday demanded the release of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani scientist who has been convicted by the US court on charges of her alleged attempt to murder US soldiers in Afghanistan, and threatened to execute an American soldier they were holding currently. They claimed Aafia Siddiqui’s family had approached the Taliban network through a Jirga of notables, seeking their assistance to put pressure on the US to provide her justice.

Police launch investigation into anti-Semitic Facebook group
Didn’t get the memo. Excerpt: Police have launched an urgent investigation into a horrific Facebook group that gave graphic details of anti-Semitic incidents perpetrated by its members against Ilford's Jewish community. The group, created by a student at Loxford School of Science and Technology, attracted more than 500 members in two weeks following its launch last month and featured teenagers boasting about engaging in anti-Semitic behaviour. It featured messages from youths using language rife with spelling errors, profanities and teenage colloquialisms. One girl wrote: "Jews are the ones that killed prophets in the past. Dirty filthy scum-bags. No wonder they have the curse of Allah upon them. Burn Jew burn."

Vietnam’s Clampdown on Dissent Draws U.S. Objections, but No Consequences
Excerpt: Vietnam’s communist government on Friday was holding yet another trial of a democracy activist, despite appeals by U.S. lawmakers and a warning by the American ambassador that its suppression of dissenting views was having an adverse effect on bilateral relations. Hanoi’s expanding clampdown comes at a time when the country is preparing to mark the 15th anniversary of the normalization of ties with the United States, and to assume the chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. President Nguyen Minh Triet has invited President Obama to attend an ASEAN summit scheduled for October.

Vietnam revolutionaries bitter on anniversary American leftists still haven’t figured out what we vets knew then. Liberation fighters and former Communist Party officials in Vietnam have bitterly denounced what they say is a corrupt system whose leaders are sullying the country's hard-won independence.
Vietnam's most powerful political figure, Communist Party General Secretary Nong Duc Manh, marked the ruling party's 80th anniversary Tuesday by saying it will prevent "hostile forces" from exploiting democracy and human rights to sabotage the country's revolution. But critics say Vietnamese leaders themselves have distorted the legacy of liberation. They allege they have used power to serve their own interests and have compromised the country's independence through ties with China, which occupied Vietnam for about 1,000 years in ancient times.

Pictures from Afghanistan

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