Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Political Digest September 14, 2010

I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree (or disagree) with every—or any—opinion in the posted article.

Post-Racial Chicago
With the announcement that Mayor Daley (D-Cash) won’t run again, politicians in Chicago are scrambling. This weekend, according to news reports, there was a meeting of “Black Religious and Political Leaders” to try to select a strong African American candidate for the position. Hispanic leaders have stated there needs to be a strong Hispanic candidate for the position. White Democrats are keeping their mouths shut because to be accused of racism by Black or Hispanic leaders is death for a Democrat. Not many saying we need the best person regardless of race. Given that the city is a mess with huge deficits, cops being shot dead on the streets, 303 shootings and 33 murders in July (mostly of Black or Hispanic folks), and the looting has already been done, hard to believe so many want the job.

What Daley leaves behind
Excerpt: In an age of media-tested politicians who are better at sound bites than substance, Daley is an anomaly: an inarticulate politician with a homely countenance, a prickly disposition and an appetite for important but mundane tasks. Yet he has reigned like a monarch, largely unchallenged and unchallengeable. His political success is due partly to his skill in accommodating a variety of interest groups, notably corporations and unions. He took great care to defuse opposition among African-Americans to make sure they didn't mobilize behind a black mayoral candidate — as they did in electing Harold Washington (and rejecting Daley) in 1983. His tangible achievements owed much to his ability to ride the rising economic tide of the 1990s, making Chicago an appealing place to live, shop, play and do business. But they also owed a lot to his willingness to mortgage the future in pursuit of his vision. He kept the Bears here with a deal to renovate Soldier Field at a cost of more than $400 million in tax dollars, producing an expensive eyesore. He created a major downtown attraction in Millennium Park — which cost three times what it was supposed to. In his effort to get the 2016 Summer Olympics, he was willing to put local taxpayers on the hook for $500 million. But his habits have caught up with Chicago. City pensions are grossly underfunded, leaving taxpayers with billions in obligations. Spending has risen far faster than inflation, which Daley accomplished by piling up debt. With his approval, the Cook County Board raised the sales tax, giving Chicago a rate of 10.25 percent, the highest of any major city in America — before voter anger forced a rollback that left locals grateful to be paying only the second-highest rate. The pleasure of living beyond your means can only go on so long before the party comes to a bitter end. With a big city budget deficit and a future of diminishing help from the state and federal governments, Daley is leaving before the truly painful decisions have to be made

Tension as Defense bill's fate in limbo
Excerpt: The fate of the 2011 defense bills is in limbo even as the new fiscal year quickly approaches. The next few weeks will be tense for the defense community, which is still in the dark about when the Senate will take up a defense authorization bill. The majority leader’s office says that the 2011 defense authorization bill is on the list of “possible items” that the upper chamber might consider during the upcoming work period. Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) objects to bringing the bill to the floor because he opposes two provisions: one that would repeal the military’s ban on openly gay service members, and a second that would allow abortions to be performed at military hospitals, so long as federal funds aren't used.

Fate of tax cuts is key issue as Congress returns
Excerpt: Congress is returning for a final pre-election legislative session on Monday to confront the thorny issue of potentially raising taxes during an economic downturn, with neither party showing clear consensus on a solution. The main order of business in the coming weeks will be debating the fate of income tax cuts approved under the George W. Bush administration in 2001 and 2003 that are scheduled to expire at the end of this year. House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) surprised Democrats on Sunday when he said he might not oppose President Obama's plan to extend the cuts for all but the wealthiest households, although he reiterated his preference for keeping the lower rates in place for all income groups.

In Del., GOP comes out swinging against tea party
Excerpt: It's the "tea party" vs. the Republican Party in Tuesday's Senate primary in Delaware, where a popular moderate is suddenly under siege from a little-known conservative who in any other year might have been relegated to the footnotes of 2010's election records. That's not an entirely unfamiliar narrative in a year in which tea party organizations have ousted two incumbent senators. But Christine O'Donnell's battle with Rep. Mike Castle perhaps embodies the movement's greatest test, because unlike in other races in which the GOP has offered the tea party an awkward embrace, the Republican Party is fighting back. The reason, state GOP officials argue, is that O'Donnell is simply unqualified to hold office. A two-time losing candidate against then-Sen Joseph R. Biden Jr. - whose old seat she and Castle are seeking - O'Donnell has a history of financial difficulties documented in the Wilmington News Journal that includes an IRS lien, a near-foreclosure on her mortgage and a dispute with her alma mater for not paying college expenses. She has a tiny campaign operation and, for most of the year, she received virtually no grass-roots financial support within Delaware. (Harry Reid has to be rooting for O’Donnell, as he did for Angle. Gives him a good shot at being Majority Leader in 2013, as she can’t win Delaware. But the Tea Party would rather have Reid, Vicki Kennedy in Massachusetts and any number of liberal Democrats running the US Senate, than vote for a “RINO.” In many states, a Jim DeMint or Tom Coburn can’t win, and the choice is between a moderate “RINO” Republican who will vote for Republican control of the Senate, or a Liberal Democrat who will vote for Democrat control. Ye reap as ye sow. ~Bob.)

Poll: Christine O'Donnell over Mike Castle by 3
Harry Reid will be happy. ~Bob

What’s At Stake In Delaware
No one hates RINOs more than Eric at Red States. But…~Bob. Excerpt: The Castle-O’Donnell race has become perhaps the most divisive primary of this cycle within the conservative movement, for reasons I’ll explain in a moment. There are a couple of important questions at stake that are worth considering, which really go to the heart of what kind of party the GOP should be; but it’s equally important to recall that we are compelled to face those questions only because of the particular weaknesses of these two candidates and the conditions in Delaware. The result is that there are good arguments on both sides of this one, arguments that have been made eloquently already on the RS front page by people on both sides. As I’ll explain, I come out on the side of backing Castle, but the case for backing O’Donnell can’t be dismissed out of hand and deserves serious reflection.

Goolsbee: High unemployment likely to continue
Excerpt: New chief White House economic adviser Austan Goolsbee said Sunday that unemployment is likely to stay high for the foreseeable future. "I don't anticipate it coming down rapidly," he said during an appearance on ABC's "This Week." Goolsbee, who on Friday was named the new head of the Obama Administration's Council of Economic Advisers, also said he disagrees with former Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag's suggestion that Democrats extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy for two years and then get rid of all of them. He noted that Orszag was making a political argument, rather than an economic one, but that he doesn't agree with the political advantage of such an approach, either. "I don't think that, politically, is correct," Goolsbee said. (Might it be that business is afraid to expand and consumers to spend in the face of record deficits and the threat of higher taxes, particularly on the most productive? Nah. Bush’s fault. ~Bob.)

Dems could lose 8 Empire State seats in US House
From AP. Excerpt: For all the Democrats' strength and swagger in New York, the party could lose as many as eight U.S. House seats in the Empire State alone in November. The top of the Democratic ticket is formidable. Attorney General Andrew Cuomo enjoys a hefty, double-digit lead in polling for the governor's race and Sen. Charles Schumer is cruising to a third term against token opposition. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, an appointed replacement for Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, is far head in the polls after initially being tagged as vulnerable. Gillibrand is expected to easily capture the party nomination in Tuesday's primary, and all three top Democrats stand as prohibitive favorites in a state where registered Democratic voters outnumber Republican 2-to-1. Complicating the GOP prospects, Republicans don't have a single A-list name running statewide this year. But recession-weary voters are unlikely to be as kind to some of the lower-profile New York Democrats who now control 26 of the state's 29 seats in the U.S. House.

States fight Obamacare
Excerpt: Opposition to the new health reform law is continuing to grow in the states - just as Congress prepares for its final pre-election legislative session. Colorado, for instance, just placed an initiative on the ballot that would, if passed, block many aspects of Obamacare - including the requirement that individuals purchase health insurance. A similar measure was overwhelmingly approved by voters in Missouri last month. And several states recently announced that they don't believe they have the authority to enforce the new law. With actions like these, the message to Washington is clear: If Congress doesn't repeal Obamacare, the states just might do it themselves. The health reform law remains unpopular. The August Kaiser Health Tracking poll found that 45 percent of Americans disapprove of the new law. Among likely voters, the numbers are even worse. The most recent Rasmussen Reports survey found that 56 percent favor repealing health care reform. State officials across the country have heard their constituents - and acted accordingly. This fall, voters in Arizona and Oklahoma will consider ballot initiatives similar to the ones in Colorado and Missouri. Lawmakers in Florida tried to put a measure invalidating the individual mandate on the ballot, but their effort was struck down by the state Supreme Court.

As Stadiums Vanish, Their Debt Lives On
Politicians buying the votes of sports fans with their grandkids’ money. ~Bob. Excerpt: It’s the gift that keeps on taking. The old Giants Stadium, demolished to make way for New Meadowlands Stadium, still carries about $110 million in debt, or nearly $13 for every New Jersey resident, even though it is now a parking lot. The financial hole was dug over decades by politicians who passed along the cost of building and fixing the stadium, and it is getting deeper. With the razing of the old stadium and the Giants and the Jets moving into their splashy new home next door, a big source of revenue to pay down the debt has shriveled. New Jerseyans are hardly alone in paying for stadiums that no longer exist. Residents of Seattle’s King County owe more than $80 million for the Kingdome, which was razed in 2000. The story has been similar in Indianapolis and Philadelphia. In Houston, Kansas City, Mo., Memphis and Pittsburgh, residents are paying for stadiums and arenas that were abandoned by the teams they were built for.

'Stimulus' Snake Oil
Excerpt: A year after the US economy stopped falling, we are still mired in "the worst labor-market crisis since the Great Depression," writes Laura Tyson in The New York Times. Voicing the consensus of the left-liberal economic establishment -- she's reportedly a leading candidate to head up President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers -- Tyson argues that the US unemployment rate, still stuck at 9.6 percent, is reason to try "a second fiscal stimulus" to raise "aggregate demand." She's wrong in a number of illuminating ways. First, the highest unemployment rates are highly concentrated in relatively few states -- largely the ones with the highest home-foreclosure rates. That suggests that the root problems are localized, lingering debt woes -- so a nationwide quick fix designed to entice people to borrow more and save less is doubly off-base. Two-thirds of the states have jobless rates lower than the national average, which is an amalgamation of 3.6 percent unemployment in North Dakota and 13.1 percent in Michigan. For most of America, this has not been the worst postwar labor-market crisis. True, the unemployment rate did reach a postwar high this year in three states hit hardest by the boom-bust cycle in housing -- California, Nevada and Florida. Unemployment also hit postwar peaks in Georgia, North and South Carolina and Rhode Island in 2010 and in Kansas last year. For all other 42 states, however, unemployment reached higher peaks during the recessions of 1976 or 1982. Tyson's second problem: This stubbornly high unemployment is not simply the result of sluggish growth.

How Much Should We Spend on Health Care?
Excerpt: This is a question that is rarely asked. When it is asked, the answers are almost never sensible. If you’ve spent a lot of time reading conventional health policy analysis, get ready for something completely different. To paraphrase Bette Davis, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. To an economist, the titular question has a straightforward answer, at least at the theoretical level. We should spend on health care until, at the margin, a dollar’s worth of health care is equal to a dollar’s worth of anything else money can buy. As a practical matter, I have no idea what tradeoffs you’re willing to make between health care and other uses of money. And you have no idea what tradeoffs I’m willing to make. That’s why, whenever possible, we should favor institutions that allow individuals to make these decisions on their own. People will reveal their preferences through their actions. Economic theory teaches that whenever relative prices change, people will change the basket of goods they consume. A very famous study by the RAND Corporation discovered what this means for health care. If a person’s health insurance deductible is increased from zero (completely free care) to about $2,500 (at today’s prices), they will reduce their consumption of health care by almost one-third. Furthermore, in the RAND experiment, this reduction in care had no impact on peoples’ health. Suppose we redid the RAND experiment, but with a new twist. Start people with a zero deductible but meet them at the doctor’s office, the hospital admitting room, etc., and on the cusp of their use of the health care system offer them the cash equivalent of what they are about to spend if they agree to forgo the care. The RAND results suggest that many people would take the cash and skip the care.

Congress to be told of 60-billion US-Saudi arms deal
Will they be used against Iran? Or Israel? ~Bob. Excerpt: In the largest US arms deal ever, the administration of US President Barack Obama is ready to notify Congress of plans to offer advanced aircraft to Saudi Arabia worth up to 60 billion dollars, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. The newspaper said the administration was also in talks with the kingdom about potential naval and missile-defense upgrades that could be worth tens of billions of dollars more. The administration sees the sale as part of a broader policy aimed at shoring up Arab allies against Iran, the report said. The 60 billion dollars in fighter jets and helicopters is the top-line amount requested by the Saudis, even though the kingdom is likely to commit initially to buying only about half that amount, the paper said. In its notification to Congress, expected to be submitted this week or next, the administration will authorize the Saudis to buy as many as 84 new F-15 fighters, upgrade 70 more, and purchase three types of helicopters -- 70 Apaches, 72 Black Hawks and 36 Little Birds, The Journal noted, citing unnamed officials.

Cities Increasingly Turn to 'Trash Police' to Enforce Recycling Laws
Obama’s promised green jobs—poking through folk’s trash. Excerpt: Beware the green police. They don't carry guns and there's no police academy to train them, but if you don't recycle your trash properly, they can walk up your driveway and give you a $100 ticket. They know what's in your trash, they know what you eat, they know how often you bring your recycles to the curb -- and they may be coming to your town soon. That is, if they're not already there. In a growing number of cities across the U.S., local governments are placing computer chips in recycling bins to collect data on refuse disposal, and then fining residents who don't participate in recycling efforts and forcing others into educational programs meant to instill respect for the environment. From Charlotte, N.C., to Cleveland, Ohio, from Boise, Idaho, to Flint, Mich., the green police are spreading out. And that alarms some privacy advocates who are asking: Should local governments have the right to monitor how you divide your paper cups from your plastic forks? Is that really the role of government?

A couple of quick notes on the economy (from a blog reader)
1) I own a small business (current employment: 4) that I could expand in the next year. However, I am facing higher costs at every level from the current administration, health care, taxes, regulation, and administrative costs. Why should I take the risk of hiring and training new people when these same costs may drive some of my customers out of business or to lower cost alternatives, thus taking away sales. 2) Where in the new proposal by the president are real tax breaks for small business? Most of us don't have an R & D department, aren't considering big purchases, and don't have time for the paperwork for some of the other "credits". We're too busy trying to survive. 3) Why doesn't anyone seem to get the concept of the "rich" moving their assets, spending habits, and incomes to avoid tax exposure? John Kerry, the richest US Senator, keeps his boat in Rhode Island to avoid paying taxes in his home state of Massachusetts. The "rich" will hunker down, move assets, delay/change spending, move income, and otherwise avoid taxes because it will now be cost effective to do so. This does not improve the economy or tax revenues. The (and the converse) fact that increasing tax rates only drives tax revenue down has been proven repeatedly in world history. Yet, we keep making the same mistake. We need to wake up! The solution is cut SPENDING and TAXES!
David R. Fry http://thehick.wordpress.com/

The Rule of Law Suffers Another Blow from the DOJ
Excerpt: But the real outrage occurred Friday afternoon in a DC federal courtroom. A Voting Section trial attorney told the judge that the court shouldn’t reach the constitutional question because Shelby County could always “bail out” from the VRA by submitting a request to be relieved from the Act’s onerous pre-clearance requirements. This statement was almost certainly untrue, and the attorney surely knew as much. I would rather be wrong about this than for the Justice Department to misrepresent the law to the court. I am perfectly happy to stand corrected. But I don’t think I am wrong. Indeed, Shelby County is not eligible for a bailout because — as the Supreme Court reminded the country just two years ago — Section 4(a) of the VRA mandates that a bailout applicant demonstrate (among other things) that no change affecting voting within that jurisdiction has been the subject of an objection by the Justice Department within the last 10 years. The Department of Justice, however, has interposed two separate objections against Shelby County (each involving proposed annexations) within the last two years, the latest of which occurred just two years ago. Moreover, the Department’s own website underscores that this requirement “appl[ies] to all governmental units within the geographical boundaries of the jurisdiction. Thus, if a county is seeking to ‘bailout,’ it must establish each criteria for every city, town, school district, or other entity within its boundaries.” There are no exceptions.

The General Gunning for WikiLeaks
Excerpt: As WikiLeaks prepares a new dump of secret war documents, the feds’ intel SWAT team races to do damage control. Philip Shenon reports on its leader and its inner workings. In a nondescript suite of government offices not far from the Pentagon, nearly 120 intelligence analysts, FBI agents, and others are at work—24 hours a day, seven days a week—on the frontlines of the government’s secret war against WikiLeaks. Dubbed the WikiLeaks War Room by some of its occupants, the round-the-clock operation is on high alert this month as WikiLeaks and its elusive leader, Julian Assange, threaten to release a second batch of thousands of classified American war logs from Afghanstan. Thousands more leaked documents from another American war zone—Iraq—are also reportedly slated for release by WikiLeaks this fall. (I'd recommend the .45 solution. From close range. Applied twice. –Ron P.)

Mexican Marines Arrest Presumed Cartel Operator
Excerpt: Mexican authorities said Sunday they had captured Sergio Villareal, an alleged top drug trafficking operative in Mexico, marking the latest high-profile capture in President Felipe Calderón's assault against the nation's crime organizations. Mr. Villareal, 40 years old, was arrested by special forces of the Mexican marines on Sunday about 50 miles from Mexico City, the public security ministry said in a press conference that evening.

Dems plan for a future without Pelosi
Who says there is no good news? ~Bob. Excerpt: For House Democrats, planning for a future without Nancy Pelosi is neither pleasant nor easy. But as the polls worsen and a Republican-controlled House looks more and more possible, Democrats are beginning to realize they face a top to bottom leadership shakeup if the powerful speaker steps aside in a Democratic minority. For the most part, Democrats have no obvious roadmap, no heir apparent to the Pelosi mantle, and a fairly thin bench around which to plan the future of their party. After the election, Democrats would face a power vacuum in the lower ranks – assuming current Majority Leader Steny Hoyer takes the helm as minority leader in a post-Pelosi Democratic caucus. “This is a subject that everybody in town is thinking about,” said a former House Democrat who keeps close contact with his former colleagues. Pelosi herself has privately discouraged any talk of a Democratic minority – despite multiple predictions that as many as 80 Democratic seats are in play. The most likely scenario after a Republican takeover would be for Pelosi to step down, with Hoyer replacing her. But the idea of a clean sweep of Democratic leadership - forcing out all the elected leaders is clearly something being considered by rank-and-file.

Democrats challenge Nancy Pelosi on taxes
Excerpt: Red-district Democrats are pressuring Speaker Nancy Pelosi to extend Bush-era income tax rates for all brackets, revealing a high-stakes rift between the party's vulnerable moderates and its safe liberals as the issue increasingly dominates the national debate. POLITICO has obtained a draft of a letter from rank-and-file lawmakers to Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer urging them not to let tax rates rise for Americans at the highest income levels.

83-Year-Old Marine Fights Off Teen Attacker
Excerpt: An 83-year-old marine fought off a teen who allegedly broke into his Yarmouth home last Monday. According to police, 19-year-old Alan Menchin of South Dennis allegedly broke into the man's South Street home and attacked him with a glass candlestick as he sat in the living room watching TV. The unidentified victim's wife ran downstairs when she heard the commotion and immediately called police. But before police could arrive, the retired U.S. marine and WWII veteran fought back against the teen, and drove him out of the house. "It was quite a fight," said Yarmouth Police Lt. Steven Xiarhos. "There was blood splattered throughout the house, broken glass basically signs of a violent attack." Police said they later found Menchin about a quarter mile from the marine's home. He was soaking wet and had blood stains all over his t-shirt. The 83-year-old man was treated at his house for cuts to his head and face. He was later taken to Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis for an evaluation. "That marine didn't cooperate," said Xiarhos. "He fought back, which helped save his own life and his wife's life… Don't mess with marines and people who can defend themselves." Menchin faces several charges including home invasion and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.

Hillary’s First Shot
Excerpt: Has the Democratic presidential primary of 2012 started already? Is Hillary Clinton beginning to position herself for a challenge to her boss? Yesterday, Hillary fired what may have been the first shot: She said: “I think that our rising debt level poses a national security threat, and it poses a national security threat in two ways: It undermines our capacity to act in our own interests, and it does constrain us where constraint may be undesirable. And it also sends a message of weakness, internationally.” (Very hard to defeat a sitting president from his own party, and usually hands the election to the other party. Put him down another ten points in the polls, and maybe. ~Bob.)

Sic Transit Gloria Green Jobs
Excerpt: Thanks to the Democrats, we spent 800 billion on a stimulus package that didn’t work. Thanks to the Democrats, we allocated 92 billion of that money (meant to be spent on, well, things that would stimulate the economy) on renewable energy policies. Thanks to the Democrats, we’ve managed to spend only about 20 billion of that money in a year and a half (remember; this was supposed to be emergency spending). Thanks to the Democrats, our best-case scenario (via those mad optimists in the White House) is that the money spent netted us 191K jobs, or $105K a job. The Department of Energy estimates 82K jobs, or $244K/job. And, thanks ever so much to the Democrats, “as much as 80 percent of some green programs, including $2.3 billion of manufacturing tax credits, went to foreign firms that employed workers primarily in countries including China, South Korea and Spain, rather than in the United States.” You know, it used to be that you could count on the Democratic party to be provincial and short-sighted obstructionists when it came to putting the brakes on international trade, sure - but at least they used to know how to be competent provincial and short-sighted obstructionists. This is embarrassing. If you’re wondering what happened, the problem is that ‘green’ technologies are notoriously more expensive than ‘non-green’ ones. That’s because ‘more expensive’ and ‘less efficient’ are more or less synonymous in this context: if the ‘green’ solution already is a clearly superior option, generally we would have already started using it. You would think that this elementary observation is, well, elementary: but apparently it comes as a continual unwelcome surprise to environmental activists and the legislatures that deign to listen to them, as anyone familiar with phosphates and dishwashers could tell you. In other words, it’s expensive to ‘go green’ - so if you want to keep competitive, you need to find a place to reduce costs elsewhere. And that’s where the rest of the planet’s ability to make some things more cheaply than we can comes into play. You should not be surprised by this. Contemptuous of the Democratic party’s inability to function, govern, and/or set a coherent set of policies - but not surprised.

The Media Campaigns That Promote Dubious Science
Excerpt: Over the past week we have looked at several very potent symbols that were misused by major media campaigns that pushed a political agenda to promote vigorous action to combat global warming. We saw that they had to ignore basic arithmetic to paint polar bears as threatened, hyperventilate over GRACE findings that less than 0.5% of East Antarctic ice may have disappeared, and ignore IPCC scientists so they could insist that Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035. It would be very easy to write exactly the same type of story about the frequency and intensity of hurricanes and floods, the Amazon rainforest and African agriculture. In all cases, grey literature, a lack of perspective and some dubious research were packaged together to paint a widely disseminated but inaccurate portrait of danger posed by global warming. But in this guest post I would like to talk about the media campaigns themselves. I have a bit of experience in this, as I have been advising companies on media strategies for almost 20 years now. An organisation like Greenpeace, with a budget of $213 million for 2007, doesn’t say how much it spent on advertising, although they report spending over $3 million on media and communications. However, a source has told me that their combined media spend (and including that of their 27 country offices) comes to a bit over $50 million. The German branch of Greenpeace spent $2.5 million on advertising just by itself. Greenpeace International spends its money on ‘campaigns’ such as Oceans, Forests and Trees. And of course, Climate and Energy, on which Greenpeace International spent $4.3 million. And much of the money spent on their campaigns is on advertising. (And of course, a lot is spent on fundraising, staff and things like maintaining the Rainbow Warrior.) (...) WWF puts out a press release and targets some advertising to show the Amazon turned into a desert, or savannah. Another organisation pipes up with their own analysis of satellite photography of the Amazon that may lend support. Other environmental organisations piggy-back on the WWF’s work with their own press releases, advertising, op-ed contributions, letters to the editor and to politicians (Greenpeace alone has 2.8 million members), and it becomes big news. The fact that it is becoming big news stimulates a second round of media targeting, going after the mainstream media, getting columnists and broadcasters to cover the story–because the story now is the media campaign, not just the Amazon (which by itself is too remote to touch the flinty hearts of editors). (While Anthony Watts is spending a few weeks dealing with family/personal issues, WUWT has been running a series of guest posts from Thomas Fuller. This is the 3rd or 4th that has been interesting enough to pass on to TOJ. Like the late Michael Crichton, MD, Fuller seems concerned about the economic, political, and social implications of climate science and its integrity. No doubt there are other commenters as concerned, but few are as accessibly articulate about it. Ron P.)

Reid says extending Bush tax cuts for the wealthy would hurt economy
Wouldn’t want the most productive folks to have money to invest in job creation in the private sector, when we can tax it and use it to support public unions who vote Democrat! ~Bob.

Righteous defenders of the Qur'an murder two in Afghan Qur'an-burning protests
Excerpt: These killers are monstrous. They have assassinated innocent people for something that did not happen, and that the murdered people couldn't conceivably have had anything to do with. And yet instead of calling them monstrous and demanding that Islamic leaders stop inciting and approving of such behavior, Barack Obama and David Petraeus urged pastor Terry Jones to drop his plans. It is, apparently, the West's responsibility to make sure the Islamic world behaves in a civilized manner. How paternalistic and ethnocentric of Obama and Petraeus.

When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators. - P. J. O'Rourke

Gingrich: Obama’s ‘Kenyan, anti-colonial’ worldview
Excerpt: Citing a recent Forbes article by Dinesh D’Souza, former House speaker Newt Gingrich tells National Review Online that President Obama may follow a “Kenyan, anti-colonial” worldview. Gingrich says that D’Souza has made a “stunning insight” into Obama’s behavior — the “most profound insight I have read in the last six years about Barack Obama.” “What if [Obama] is so outside our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior, can you begin to piece together [his actions]?” Gingrich asks. “That is the most accurate, predictive model for his behavior.” “This is a person who is fundamentally out of touch with how the world works, who happened to have played a wonderful con, as a result of which he is now president,” Gingrich tells us. “I think he worked very hard at being a person who is normal, reasonable, moderate, bipartisan, transparent, accommodating — none of which was true,” Gingrich continues. “In the Alinksy tradition, he was being the person he needed to be in order to achieve the position he needed to achieve . . . He was authentically dishonest.” “[Obama] is in the great tradition of Edison, Ford, the Wright Brothers, Bill Gates — he saw his opportunity and he took it,” Gingrich says. Will Gingrich take it back in 2012? “The American people may take it back, in which case I may or may not be the recipient of that, but I have zero doubt that the American people will take it back. Unlike Ford, the Wright Brothers, et cetera, this guy’s invention did not work.” “I think Obama gets up every morning with a worldview that is fundamentally wrong about reality,” Gingrich says. “If you look at the continuous denial of reality, there has got to be a point where someone stands up and says that this is just factually insane.”

How Obama Thinks
Excerpt: Barack Obama is the most antibusiness president in a generation, perhaps in American history. Thanks to him the era of big government is back. Obama runs up taxpayer debt not in the billions but in the trillions. He has expanded the federal government's control over home mortgages, investment banking, health care, autos and energy. The Weekly Standard summarizes Obama's approach as omnipotence at home, impotence abroad. The President's actions are so bizarre that they mystify his critics and supporters alike. Consider this headline from the Aug. 18, 2009 issue of the Wall Street Journal: "Obama Underwrites Offshore Drilling." Did you read that correctly? You did. The Administration supports offshore drilling--but drilling off the shores of Brazil. With Obama's backing, the U.S. Export-Import Bank offered $2 billion in loans and guarantees to Brazil's state-owned oil company Petrobras to finance exploration in the Santos Basin near Rio de Janeiro--not so the oil ends up in the U.S. He is funding Brazilian exploration so that the oil can stay in Brazil. More strange behavior: Obama's June 15, 2010 speech in response to the Gulf oil spill focused not on cleanup strategies but rather on the fact that Americans "consume more than 20% of the world's oil but have less than 2% of the world's resources." Obama railed on about "America's century-long addiction to fossil fuels." What does any of this have to do with the oil spill? Would the calamity have been less of a problem if America consumed a mere 10% of the world's resources?

Pelosi has pocketed nearly twice as much lobbyist cash as Boehner
Excerpt: If you read this weekend’s New York Times’ hit job on would-be Speaker John Boehner and his “lobbyist friends,” you might think, as the reporter clearly thinks, that John Boehner is cozier with lobbyists than most powerful politicians are. But did you know: Nancy Pelosi has raised almost twice as much money from lobbyists this election as Boehner has? At least 18 House Democrats have raised more lobbyist cash this election than Boehner has. Chuck Schumer and Harry Reid have pocketed more lobbyist cash in the past 18 months than Boehner has raised in the past 6 elections, combined?

Geert Wilders’ Speech at the 911 Rally of Remembrance
Excerpt: Coverage of our rally is coming. The media is ignoring this historic event. Hundreds of newspeople there, no coverage, But here is the text of Geert Wilders speech that he made before forty thousand in New York today.

Markets have taken the measure of Barack Obama
Excerpt: Thus no matter how you look at it, and no matter how you do the numbers, the president's two signature legislative "victories" -- the "stimulus" and Obamacare -- are abject failures. The toll of economic misery his policies have brought managed to stall and reverse the country's recovery from the Dodd-Frank panic of 2008. Forward-looking investors first priced in the calamity he would bring to the private sector and now are again hedging their bets about the president's ability to do other than mouth Alinksyisms and bash business. If the GOP does not triumph as expected on Nov. 2, watch out for falling indices. The markets have the measure of this president and his advisers, and those markets know that unchecked, they will wreak even more havoc.

The public hates almost everything Congress has done
Excerpt: Gallup has released a new poll asking respondents to assess the major accomplishments of Congress in the last two years: the national health care bill, the stimulus, the bailout of auto companies, the bailout of major banks and financial institutions, and the financial regulatory reform bill. The pollsters found majority opposition to all those measures, with the exception of financial reform.

Christian pastors attacked in Bekasi, one stabbed
Didn’t get the memo. Excerpt: More violent attacks on religious freedom in Indonesia occurred Sunday morning when two pastors from the Huria Kristen Batak Protestant (HKBP) church in Bekasi, West Java, were mobbed. One pastor was stabbed. The information was confirmed by a Bekasi Police officer identified as Daimun. “That information is correct. The attack took place around 9 a.m. Our officers are on site to investigate the incident,” Daimun said, as quoted by kompas.com. The incident took place near the HKBP church in the Ciketing, Mustika Jaya housing complex, Daimun said.

Only Nixon Could Go to China
Excerpt: "One of the things that I most admired about President Bush was after 9/11, him being crystal-clear about the fact that we were not at war with Islam," President Obama said in his Friday press conference. It doesn't speak well of Obama's leadership, or his manners, that one's first thought on hearing this is the old gag about the shortest book ever written. Step aside, "Dr. Kevorkian's Motivational Speeches," and make way for "The Things I Most Admire About George W. Bush" by Barack Obama. It speaks still more poorly of Obama's leadership when even Obama's most devoted supporter, Barack Obama, implicitly acknowledges that Bush did a better job in this regard than Obama is doing. The excitable Peter Beinart exaggerates when he complains that under this president's leadership, America is "in the worst spasm of paranoia and bigotry since the Cold War." But there's no doubt that American mistrust of Muslims has been surfacing lately with some intensity, or that Obama has exacerbated matters by managing the situation insensitively. The prevailing media narrative has it that America is suffering from an acute case of "Islamophobia," an irrational fear of Muslims. This seems to us quite wrong. American mistrust of Muslims is no more irrational than black mistrust of whites or Jewish mistrust of Germans. That is not to say that it is completely justifiable, only that it is completely understandable, for Americans have been, and continue to be, the targets of Islamic supremacist violence. Because mistrust of Muslims is not completely justifiable, Obama and his backers in the media feel no obligation to understand it. "I think that at a time when the country is anxious generally and going through a tough time, then fears can surface, suspicions, divisions can surface in a society," Obama said Friday, echoing Robert Reich's Marxism Lite analysis, which we noted last month. This is a complete non sequitur. No one, not even the unhinged anti-Muslim types on the right, is blaming Muslims for America's current economic difficulties. American mistrust of Muslims is a reaction to Islamic supremacist terrorism, especially 9/11. That mistrust has surfaced recently because another group of Muslims is seeking to exploit that atrocity by building a fancy mosque adjacent to its site….. Al Qaeda operatives still cite Guantanamo as a justification for attacks against the United States. Still to this day. And there's no reason for us to give them that kind of talking point when, in fact, we can use the various mechanisms of our justice system to prosecute these folks and to make sure that they never attack us again. (So, the Islamists attacked the World Trade Center in 1993 and 2001 because of Gitmo, which didn’t exist then? It doesn’t matter what we do. They will find talking points to justify violence against both infidels and fellow Muslims. They will push the limits of freedom to create talking points, because they believe the Qur'anic injunction that unbelievers should be converted to their particular view of Islam, or become second class citizens paying Jizra, with only those rights the Muslim political authority chooses to grant at a particular time—or be killed. ~Bob.)

Cuba to cut 500,000 gov't workers, reform salaries
Alert Michael Moore! Even Fidel gets it, Barack! ~Bob. Excerpt: Cuba announced Monday it will cast off at least half a million state employees by mid-2011 and reduce restrictions on private enterprise to help them find new jobs — the most dramatic step yet in President Raul Castro's push to radically remake employment on the communist-run island. Castro suggested during a nationally televised address on Easter Sunday that as many 1 million Cuban workers — about one in five — may be redundant. But the government had not previously laid out specific plans to reduce the work force. The layoffs will start immediately and continue through the first half of next year, according to the nearly 3 million-strong Cuban Workers Confederation — the only labor union allowed by the government. To soften the blow, it said the government would increase private-sector job opportunities, including allowing more Cubans to become self-employed, forming cooperatives run by employees rather than government administrators and increasing private control of state land, businesses and infrastructure through long-term leases.

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