Saturday, October 30, 2010

Political Digest for October 30, 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.

My new slogan, borrowed from the Army recruiting commercials, and used below. “There’ stupid and then there’s PC Stupid!”

Important: Shipping out jobs: A myth pols find convenient
This old, useful canard is all over the TV attack ads here in Chicago, because the voters are highly ignorant of basic economics. ~Bob. Excerpt: With campaign season comes predictable charges that Candidate X favors "tax breaks for corporations that ship US jobs overseas." It's a bogus claim. With unemployment still stubbornly high, Americans are rightly worried about the economy. And politicians of both parties -- from President Obama on down -- have seized on US multinational companies as a convenient scapegoat. The charge sounds logical: Under the US corporate tax code, US-based companies aren't taxed on profits that their affiliates abroad earn until those profits are returned here. Supposedly, this "tax break" gives firms an incentive to create jobs overseas rather than at home, so any candidate who doesn't want to impose higher taxes on those foreign operations is guilty of "shipping jobs overseas." In fact, American companies have quite valid reasons beyond any tax advantage to establish overseas affiliates: That's how they reach foreign customers with US-branded goods and services. Those affiliates allow US companies to sell services that can only be delivered where the customer lives (such as fast food and retail) or to customize their products, such as automobiles, to better reflect the taste of customers in foreign markets. In 2008, US companies sold more than $6 trillion worth of goods and services through overseas affiliates -- three times what US companies exported from America. And, no, those affiliates aren't mainly "export platforms," set up to ship goods back to the United States: Almost 90 percent of what they produce abroad is sold abroad. It's not about access to "cheap labor," either: More than three-quarters of outward US manufacturing investment goes to other rich, developed economies like Canada and the European Union. That's where they find the wealthy customers, skilled workers, open markets, efficient infrastructure and political stability to operate profitably. Indeed, US manufacturing companies invest a modest $2 billion a year in China, compared to $30 billion a year in Europe. Nor do jobs created by those investments come at the expense of American workers. In fact, the more workers US multinationals hire abroad, the more they tend to hire at their parent operations in America. Ramped up production at affiliates stimulates demand at home for managers, accountants, engineers and sales reps. It also stokes demand for the export of higher-end components and services from the US-based parent. But the charge is worse yet -- because if Congress were to repeal the tax exemption for income earned abroad, it would kill American jobs. Affiliates would have to pay the relatively high US corporate income-tax rate, rather than the usually lower rate imposed by the host country -- putting US affiliates at a competitive disadvantage with their foreign counterparts, which would still be paying the lower domestic rate. Without the ability to defer taxes on income earned and kept abroad, US multinationals would be forced to cut back their foreign operations, ceding important markets to their competitors from Japan, Korea or the European Union. That would mean fewer foreign sales and fewer jobs created by their US operations. But it's the big picture that really shows how absurd these claims are. Year after year, the rest of the world invests more in their affiliates here in the United States than American companies invest in operations outside our country.

A Crossroads Election by Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: Most elections are about particular policies, particular scandals or particular personalities. But these issues don't mean as much this year-- not because they are not important, but because this election is a crossroads election, one that can decide what path this country will take for many years to come. Runaway "stimulus" spending, high unemployment and ObamaCare are all legitimate and important issues. It is just that freedom and survival are more important. For all its sweeping and scary provisions, ObamaCare is not nearly as important as the way it was passed. If legislation can become laws passed without either the public or the Congress knowing what is in those laws, then the fundamental principle of a free, self-governing people is completely undermined. Some members of Congress who voted for ObamaCare, and who are now telling us that they realize this legislation has flaws which they intend to correct, are missing the point. The very reason for holding hearings on pending legislation, listening to witnesses on all sides of the issue, and having Congressional debates that will be reported and commented on in the media, is so that problems can be explored and alternatives considered before the legislation is voted into law. Rushing ObamaCare into law too fast for anyone to have read it served no other purpose than to prevent this very process from taking place. The rush to pass this law that would not take effect until after the next two elections simply cut the voters out of the loop -- and that is painfully close to ruling by decree. Other actions and proposals by this administration likewise represent moves in the direction of arbitrary rule, worthy of a banana republic, with only a mocking facade of freedom. These include threats against people who simply choose to express opinions counter to administration policy, such as a warning to an insurance company that there would be "zero tolerance" for "misinformation" when the insurance company said that ObamaCare would create costs that force up premiums. Zero tolerance for the right of free speech guaranteed by the Constitution?

The Bear Election
Excerpt: There's an old joke that says that to survive a bear attack, you don't have to be faster than the bear, you just have to be faster than the other guy. (A bit morbid we know but apt.) In this election, the bear is the voting public -- a public dissatisfied with the pace of change, anxious about its economic future and ready to shake up the political status quo. The two political parties are the two guys running from the bear. Democrats, if all the political prognostication is accurate, are the ones likely to be swallowed up. But Republicans would be making a gross miscalculation if they thought their escape from the bear merited any sort of celebration. In the New York Times/CBS News poll released this morning, 46 percent of people had a favorable view of the Democratic Party while 48 percent saw it in an unfavorable light. The Republican Party was held in lower regard; 41 percent viewed it favorable while 52 percent regarded it unfavorably. Those numbers only tell half of the story, however. The political atmospherics -- just one in three people think the country is headed in the right direction, one in five voters say the economy is in "fairly good" shape and just one in ten (14 percent) approve of the job Congress is doing -- all point to significant unrest in the electorate. That unrest, coupled with the widespread understanding that Democrats are in charge of all the levers of power in Washington, seem likely to overwhelm the very real doubts that voters -- and particularly independents -- have about the Republican brand. Never before -- in modern political memory at least -- has a party so unpopular with voters been on the verge of such sweeping gains, a development that should rightly be read by astute GOP strategists as less an affirmation of their agenda than a warning signal of what be waiting for them at the ballot box in two years time. Returning to our "bear election" theory, being the "other guy" only works for so long. If -- and it now seems far more likely than not -- Republicans are handed control of the House or, in a much longer shot, the Senate, the bear will turn to the GOP to see what they can do. Simply standing in opposition won't be enough. While President Obama will continue to bear -- heyooo! -- considerable burdens in terms of producing accomplishments to take to the public in 2012, he will also be able to call on Republicans to walk the walk as well. There is always a tendency -- prevalent among both parties -- to assume that an electoral victory is a broad validation of their agenda and views.

Muslims Wearing Things
Interesting. I thought Juan Williams was incorrect, because when they attack us, they don’t do so openly as Muslims. War is deceit as Muhammad said. There’s Stupid and then there’s PC Stupid. I thought it was beyond PC Stupid to fire him for expressing an opinion, rather than debate him.

Alaska poll shows Joe Miller slipping to third
Given how tough a write-in is, this may be another Tea Party gift to Harry Reid. ~Bob. Excerpt: A Hays Research Group poll shows attorney Joe Miller (R) falling to third place in the three-way Alaska Senate race against Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) and Sitka Mayor Scott McAdams (D). The survey showed "write in candidate" taking 34 percent, McAdams garnering 29 percent and Miller trailing with 23 percent.

Obama beating Reagan?
Doesn’t drive me over the edge. Because a team years ago came from 20 points down to win the Super Bowl doesn’t mean it’s a good thing for your team to be 15 points down this year. On the other hand, much will depend on the next two years. Clinton did well running against an obstructionist Republican Congress. Much depends on who the GOP nominates. People opposed to Obama are stupid if they are complacent. ~Bob. Excerpt: This will likely drive some people over the edge. Recent polling indicates that President Obama is in better shape politically today than Republican icon President Ronald Reagan was at the same point in his first term. That’s right. Obama at the midterm outpolls Ronald Reagan at this point in his presidency. The National Journal/Congressional Connection poll conducted with the Pew Research Center over Oct. 21-24 found that 47 percent of the public would like President Obama to run again in 2012. While that number isn’t overwhelming, it certainly beats Reagan’s number in August 1982 — an underwhelming 36 percent, according to Gallup. At that point, 51 percent said Reagan should not run for reelection, and his numbers worsened after the midterm elections that year. Of course, we all know, President Reagan won reelection in 1984 despite these troublesome early numbers.

Newt Gingrich: Out of the wilderness and into the mix for 2012
I like Newt. He’s right on most issues, especially the challenge presented by Islamist Jihadism, very bright, experienced, and a historical view lacking in most candidates on either side. That said, he has a LOT of baggage, and you can’t be a good president unless you get elected. But think he’d be a stronger candidate and better president that Palin or Huckabee, for example. Excerpt: It has all the makings of Newt Gingrich's favorite kind of election: A cranky electorate. A Democratic president on the ropes. Republicans poised to take one or both houses of Congress. In fact, 2010 feels a lot like 1994 - especially if you happened to be sitting with the rapt conservatives in the ballroom of the Crowne Plaza Hotel here on Tuesday, when the former House speaker railed against Democrats as the "party of food stamps" and President Obama as an elitist with no "idea what American exceptionalism is." What's different, of course, is that Gingrich is no longer leading his party's assault on the ramparts - he isn't even on a ballot. And yet, just like in the old days, Gingrich is pretty much everywhere you look: raising millions for the Republican Party, stumping for candidates in 30 states, hurling verbal hand grenades on Fox News and Twitter. In other words, Newt Gingrich looks an awful lot like a man who is running for president. The former speaker, who flirted with the idea in the past, is less coy about it this time. Gingrich says he won't make an official announcement until early next year. But he notes that he is already "transitioning" his four businesses so that they don't become political impediments.

Obama's imaginary tax cut
Excerpt: How many times have you heard the president and the congressional Democrats say Americans who make less than $200,000 a year have not had, and will not have, any of their taxes increased? Unfortunately, it is not true, and it is likely to become a whole lot worse. The 111th Congress has already enacted $352 billion in net tax increases and may, in the upcoming lame-duck session, enact the largest tax increases in history, which will hit every man, woman and child - as well as every business in America. The good folks at Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) have put together the data on what the current Democrat-controlled Congress has done already. I have summarized their analysis in the accompanying table. The tax increase of $725.7 billion dwarfs the tax cuts of $373 billion, leaving a net tax increase of $352 billion. But it gets worse. Just $107.6 billion of the tax cuts are permanent - the rest are temporary - but all of the $725.7 billion increases are permanent.

A Pre-Election Day Prediction: Massachusetts Will Retire Barney Frank
Hard to believe. This article seems more likely intended to motivate the base than a real prediction. Barney is a terrific campaigner. I served with him in the Massachusetts legislature and like him personally, though we disagree on most issues. I spoke on the senate floor for his bills prohibiting discrimination against gays. I gave a moment’s thought to running against Barney for Congress in 1980, as I was a popular senator and my district covered about 25% of the Congressional district. Barney won 52-48 against an unknown with no money. But Barney raised $500k for the race. I would have had to raise at least half that. And Massachusetts was due to lose a seat. They would have put me in with GOP Rep. Silvo Conte and I’d have had no chance, so would have had it for only one term, if I won, and you’d have had to bet on Barney. Most of all, the fire had gone out of my belly—I retired undefeated from a then-safe senate seat two years later, wanting out of politics. ~Bob. Excerpt: Like a movie shown out of focus and at a high rate, the election in Massachusetts’s Fourth Congressional District has been exhilarating but difficult to appreciate fully. However, in the last week, the film has slowed and there is a laser-like focus to the race. Massachusetts will do it again. A little-known but young, intelligent, and energetic candidate will transfer a seat thought to be impregnable by the Democrats and the pundits into the Republican camp. Support for this prediction is both objective and subjective. Recent polling shows that the race has narrowed to a gap that is well within the range that cannot be measured accurately by polling. Moreover, the polls show that Bielat’s momentum has continued to build and that the momentum has occurred among crucial independents and in the usual Democratic strongholds in the southern part of the district. Frank’s support, which has been consistently below 50% (a crucial indicator of an incumbent’s chances), does not appear to be rising. The curve of Bielat’s support is on a vector to exceed Frank’s support before the date of the election. (I truly hope this turns out to be a correct prediction, but when I went to school, “too close to call” meant exactly that. Bielat’s supporters need to bust their buns to have ANY chance to win. Ron P.)

Move over, McConnell: Boehner poised to drive GOP agenda
Excerpt: A Republican takeover of the House will reorder the relationship between the top-ranking GOP leaders in Washington, Rep. John Boehner (Ohio) and Sen. Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Republican insiders say. For the past two years, McConnell, the Senate minority leader, has been the most powerful elected Republican in the federal government. Since January of 2009, he has often held the Senate Republican Conference together as the last line of defense against President Obama’s agenda. Boehner, the House GOP leader, has played a less tactical role — but that is about to change. Polls suggest Republicans are on track to pick up 45 to 55 seats in the House on Election Day, paving the way for Boehner to become Speaker and set the chamber’s agenda. Like McConnell, Boehner has kept his conference unified against Democrats, but with less impact, since House rules give the controlling party broad power to limit debate and pass legislation with simple majority votes. But if the GOP controls the House after the election, the power dynamic in Congress will change. As Speaker, Boehner would be able to put Senate Democrats on the defensive by sending them legislation to extend tax cuts and trim spending. Senate Democrats, at least 20 of whom face reelection in 2012, will be forced to take tough votes on bills that did not have a chance of passing in the 111th Congress, making Boehner the quarterback of the GOP offense.

Court Allows Use of Stolen Social Security Number
Excerpt: The Colorado Supreme Court has reversed the conviction of a man who admitted using someone else's Social Security number to obtain a loan, concluding that the defendant wasn't really trying to assume a false identity. The opinion was written by Michael Bender, who was joined by Mary Mullarkey, Gregory Hobbs and Alex Martinez. A strongly worded dissent by Nathan Coats was joined by Nancy Rice and Allison Eid. The case involved Felix Montes-Rodriguez, who was convicted of criminal impersonation for using another person's Social Security number on a loan application. (Let us hope for his next fraud, he uses the judge’s SS number. ~Bob.)

It Costs $424 Per Gallon, It Ruins Your Engine, But It Is Green!
Excerpt: US navy completes successful test on boat powered by algae. The experimental boat, intended for use in rivers and marshes and eventually destined for oil installations in the Middle East, operated on a 50/50 mix of algae-based fuel and diesel. The navy plans to roll out its first green strike force, a group of about 10 ships, submarines and planes running on a mix of biofuels and nuclear power, in 2012, with deployment in the field scheduled for 2016. The current cost of a gallon of algae-diesel mix is $424 a gallon. The early versions of algae-based fuels had a short shelf life, with the fuel separating in the tank, sprouting, or even corroding engines. “They had some not very good characteristics at the end of the day,” he admitted. But the navy appears committed. Last month it placed an order for 150,000 gallons of algae-based fuel from a San Francisco firm. OK. So they purchased $64 million dollars worth of corrosive green algae which sprouts in the engine and needs to be supplemented with diesel and nuclear. (The US Navy is now being used to push the green agenda. I wonder how many sailors and Marines will miss out on some protective device to pay for this? The top line links to the original article in the (UK) Guardian, but this assessment is too good to pass up. Ron P. At some point not far in the future, we will pay a huge price when it becomes clear that the purpose of a military is to fight and defeat enemies who would enslave and our people and destroy our free way of life, not as a taxpayer-funded Petri Dish for the latest progressive experiment. ~Bob.)

Mohammed is now the most popular name for baby boys ahead of Jack and Harry
Excerpt: Mohammed has become the most popular name for newborn boys in Britain. It shot up from third the previous year, overtaking Jack, which had topped the list for the past 14 years but was relegated to third spot. A total of 7,549 newborns were given 12 variations of the Islamic prophet. Since 1999 the number of babies called Mohammed, however spelled, has increased by more than half. In 1999 the name was given to 4,579 newborns. Going even further back, the single spelling Mohammed appeared at 73 in the list in 1964 and 87th in 1944. (I suppose if you named you dog or pet pot-bellied pig Mohammad that might get you some unfavorable attention. ~Bob.)

Scruggs Represents the System at its Worst
Excerpt: A new book titled “The Fall of the House of Zeus” by newspaper reporter Curtis Wilkie reads like, as the Wall Street Journal describes, a John Grisham novel. Unfortunately, this story isn't fiction. The book tells the story of Dickie Scruggs, the infamous Mississippi trial lawyer who made his vast fortune on asbestos and Big Tobacco cases, was found guilty of bribery and sent to prison in 2008. In a feature on the book, the Wall Street Journal describes Scruggs’ former kingdom, the world of Mississippi politics, as a “network of fixers and back-scratchers who have controlled the state for half a century.” The book quotes Scruggs at a Prudential Financial panel discussion in 2002: “The trial lawyers have established relationships with the judges that are elected. They’re state court judges; they’re populists. They’ve got large populations of voters who are in on the deal. They’re getting their piece in many cases. And so, it’s a political force in their jurisdiction, and it’s almost impossible to get a fair trial if you’re a defendant in some of these places . . . The cases are not won in the courtroom. They’re won on the back roads long before the case goes to trial. Any lawyer fresh out of law school can walk in there and win the case, so it doesn’t matter what the evidence or the law is.” (See below for why the Trial Lawyers continue to get rich. Guess whose hide it comes out of? ~Bob.)

Trial Lawyers Donate Millions of Dollars to Democratic Candidates
Excerpt: Trial lawyers representing investors, injured people and consumers have donated millions of dollars this election cycle to Democratic political candidates

Risky side effects of vaccine act challenge: Trial lawyer win could be another blow to pharmaceutical industry
Excerpt: Today, the vast majority of America's children reach adulthood. We take that fact almost for granted. But what if diseases such as whooping cough, diphtheria and polio, which crippled and killed so many children in prior generations, were still widespread? What if we lacked the vaccines that have wiped out these scourges, or if they were prohibitively expensive? What if the research efforts to develop new vaccines stopped? These questions are at stake in the case of Bruesewitz v. Wyeth, which is now before the U.S. Supreme Court. At issue is the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVI) of 1986. The NCVI was passed when a liability crisis was driving vaccine makers out of business. Why? Because vaccines are inherently dangerous. Yes, immunization prevents large numbers of individuals from contracting a dehabilitating and potentially fatal disease. But we also know that a few individuals will react adversely to immunization, no matter how safely and carefully a vaccine is designed and manufactured. This is unfortunate, to say the least, but the benefit provided to the vast majority of individuals clearly outweighs the detriment to the small number harmed by the vaccine - except, of course, in the eyes of the plaintiffs' bar. A series of lawsuits against vaccine manufacturers in the 1970s not only caused several critical vaccines - including for diphtheria, tetanus toxinoids, pertussis (DPT), polio and measles - to increase dramatically in price, but threatened to make them unavailable.

Clinton says he tried to talk Florida Senate candidate out of race
Excerpt: Former president Bill Clinton tried to persuade Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek to drop out of the Florida Senate race, he acknowledged Thursday night, saying that Meek didn't have enough money to win the race. Clinton told the congressman that he could make a greater impact if he quit the three-way race and endorsed Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (I), a Clinton official confirmed Thursday. But Clinton himself would not elaborate in an interview with CNN on the specifics of his conversations with Meek, a longtime friend. 9if a conservative said a black candidate should drop out—or called the President “dude” as Jon Stewart did—the media would scream racism for weeks. Maybe years. ~Bob.)

Take a Whiff: Southern California Republican Uses Ad That Really Stinks
Excerpt: Ewww! Are you ready for a political ad that really stinks? If you live in Southern California, you could be on the receiving end of a "scratch and sniff" mailer sent out by the campaign of Republican Van Tran, who is challenging Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez in the Orange County district. Tran's campaign manager told the Orange County Register the ad looks like a perfume packet but actually smells like trash. What the big idea? "It's the stench of Washington," the flier announces." Something smells rotten about Loretta." Democrat Sanchez's campaign manager Caroline Hogan says it's a gimmick -- no foolin' -- and in poor taste. Uh, yeah. Sanchez, who is in her seventh term, is facing a stiff challenge this time. Tran, a California state legislator, got a boost in September when Sanchez told a Spanish-language television station that Republicans and Vietnamese-Americans "are trying to take away" the congressional district away from "us." She later apologized for a "poor choice of words." Earlier this week, the Register endorsed Tran, saying he had made jobs and the economy the "focal point of his campaign." (Over the top. Instead of saying “Something smells rotten about Loretta,” I think the gimmick would have worked if he said, “Something smells rotten in Washington—and Rep. Sanchez votes to keep it that way.” Just my take, but I had pretty good political instincts. No pun intended. ~Bob.)

There They Went Again
Excerpt: Democrats and their allies are already rationalizing their likely defeat next Tuesday, variously blaming the economy, GOP obstructionism, corporate money, or an inexplicable collapse in President Obama's communications skills. Whatever minor truth lies in these excuses, they obscure the larger reality: Americans appear ready to repudiate Democratic governance for the fourth consecutive time. Far from being a unique historical event, a GOP victory on Tuesday will repeat the pattern we have seen since the 1960s. Four times Democrats have won control of both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, and four times they have attempted to govern from the left. Each time Americans saw that agenda and its results, and they rejected it at an early opportunity. Maybe there's a lesson here. We cite the 1960s as a watershed because it marked the creation of the modern Democratic Party. The Southern conservatives who had checked the left since the de facto end of the New Deal in 1938 were swept away by LBJ's 1964 landslide. Democrats implemented their fondest ambitions—the Great Society, Medicare and Medicaid—only to lose 47 House seats in 1966 and the White House two years later, as the Democratic coalition split over Vietnam and flower power.

Taking It to the Mat in Connecticut
The one good thing about electing a liar to the senate is you don’t have to brake him in. ~Bob. Excerpt: It has been said that American politics and professional wrestling share a paucity of honest emotions. But Linda McMahon, who as CEO built World Wrestling Entertainment into a billion-dollar company, might think comparing wrestling to politics insults wrestling. As she seeks the Senate seat being vacated by Chris Dodd, she says the honesty deficit concerns not emotions but facts. Her Democratic opponent, Richard Blumenthal, who served six years in the Legislature, has been Connecticut's attorney general for 20 years, so he knows how to parse sentences. Yet his penchant for (to be polite) tactical imprecision goes beyond his various falsehoods -- he says he "misspoke" every time -- about serving in Vietnam. He says he served on "active duty" in the Marine Reserve. That is true only if training is counted. He says he joined in 1970 even though the draft lottery gave him a high number that made him unlikely to be conscripted. His number, however, was 152, and men with numbers up to 195 were vulnerable to induction. In 2002, he said he enlisted because he had a "pretty low draft number." On MSNBC he intimated that he would not take "special interest" or PAC money, promising fundraising "from ordinary citizens." But he flew to Vancouver, British Columbia, for a PAC fundraising event for him and 11 other Democratic Senate candidates. Blumenthal said it was not for Harry Reid. Hartford Courant columnist Kevin Rennie reports that the invitation to the event and documents filed with the Federal Election Commission say Reid was among the beneficiaries. Blumenthal says it was an opportunity to discuss problems "affecting ordinary people." Rennie says the top ticket price was $43,200.

The Biggest Election Myths of 2010
Excerpt: If on Election Day voters hear tales of frolicking unicorns, flying pigs and President Obama walking on water, don't worry. Consider them more myths of the 2010 campaign season. Elections are about who wins. But the months leading up to elections are also about laying out a narrative. The more a party is losing, the wilder its explanations. The less the press identifies with the winning side, the more it presents them as fact. That's why 2010 has already had its fair share of political fairy tales.

Obama's Plight
Bush better? Ouch! ~Bob. Excerpt: Whether you prefer to believe expert predictions that it will be a "maelstrom," a "bloodbath," or merely a "blowout," Republicans are poised to make substantial gains in Congress next Tuesday and deliver a severe blow to the Obama presidency in the process. Just two years after sweeping into power on a platform of hope and change, Obama finds himself and his agenda a political liability to Democratic candidates throughout the nation. Though he took office with a 67 percent Gallup approval rating in January 2009, it stood at 44 percent in the most recent survey and has dipped as low as 41 percent. And though he built his candidacy by positioning himself as the anti-Bush, by a 48 percent to 43 percent margin, Americans now think that George Bush was the better president, according to a new survey by Democratic pollster Doug Schoen. The same poll found that 56 percent of the nation wants Obama fired in 2012. It's true that as sharp as Obama's decline has been, the speed of his reversal of political fortunes should serve as a warning to Republicans who are feeling emboldened right now. Just as Obama's meteoric rise has been followed by a precipitous fall, he could conceivably make a triumphant comeback two years from now. That said, the two most recent examples of presidential comebacks following defeats in the midterm elections are Bill Clinton after Republicans took back Congress in 1994 and Ronald Reagan after Democrats gained 26 seats to build on their majority in 1982. But there are a number of reasons why Obama's situation is different.

'Slasher' in line to lead House panel
Excerpt: Fred Upton is no longer known as the “Young Slasher,” but the Michigan Republican is preparing to bring a sharp edge to the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Upton earned the nickname early in his career for repeatedly offering floor amendments imposing across the board cuts on spending bills. Now, the 12-term congressman hopes to be chairman of the panel that will be a major focus of GOP efforts to fight President Barack Obama on everything from health care to energy policy to business regulation. Already, he’s planning an attempt to repeal portions of the Democrats’ health care reform law – his way. “I know there’s going to be a vote to repeal the whole thing if we take over, but in all likelihood we’re not going to have the votes to override,” Upton told POLITICO. “I look at this a little bit like a Jenga game. It’s a good game with my kids. We’re going to look at the pieces.” Upton has a conservative track record going after fraud, abuse and spending mismanagement, lessons he learned as a key staffer in President Ronald Reagan’s White House Office of Management and Budget. "If you work at OMB, you know where everything is buried," said a long-time Upton friend tied to the domestic auto industry. "Then, you put 25 years of experience in the House in understanding every program that's out there. And there's one person who can inject some common sense into all that's coming through the committee. He's the guy."

Muslim students in Malawi desecrate New Testaments
Many will be offended, but I doubt anyone will die because of this, as they would if it happened to copies of the Qur’an. That is the difference between the two religions. ~Bob. Excerpt: Muslim students attending a Catholic primary school in Malawi tore up New Testaments that were being distributed by the Gideons International organization, which promotes the distribution of Bibles. “Although the school’s director had made it absolutely clear that no New Testaments were to be given to the Muslim pupils and that in no way was any student obliged to take a copy of the book, there was a subsequent uproar on the part of some Muslim youths, who tore up the New Testaments, threw them, howling at their teachers, and then threw the torn-up pages out onto the streets,” Aid to the Church in Need reported. “The behavior of the youths has been an indicator of a danger in our midst,” said Father Medrick Chimbwanya, the parish priest. “Normally, the primary school youth in Malawi would not have the courage to tear up any book in the presence of their teacher, let alone a holy book. My conclusion is that there must be some awful training given to these youths which if left unchecked, means that we may have dangerous militants in Malawi in the near future.” 28% of Malawi’s 13.2 million residents are Catholic, according to Vatican statistics; 52% are Protestant, and 13% are Muslim.

Two teenage girls executed by Somali militants
Didn’t get the “Islam is a Religion of Peace” memo. ~Bob. Excerpt: A Somali militant group publicly executed two teenage girls Wednesday after accusing them of being spies for the Somali government, according to the group, eyewitnesses and a relative of one of the girls. "Those two girls were evil and they were spies for the enemy (the Somali government), but the mujahedeen caught them and after investigation, they admitted their crime, so they have been executed," said Sheikh Yusuf Ali Ugas, commander of Al-Shabaab in Beledweyne, a town in central Somalia. The teens were blindfolded with their hands behind their backs against a tree, and shot, according to a local journalist. A resident of Beledweyne told CNN that Al-Shabaab called on the town's residents to come out and watch the execution. "Hundreds of people came out to watch the execution," he said. "It was very bad ... the girls looked shocked and were crying but [no one] could help." A relative of one of the teens denied they were spies. "My cousin, Ayan Mohamed Jama, was just 16 years old and she was absolutely innocent," said the relative, who did not want their name used out of fear of retribution from Al-Shabaab. "And Al-Shabaab caught her and the other girl between El-gal and Beledweyne and simply accused them of what they were not." The other girl, said the relative, was 15. Al-Shabaab refused their families' request to see the teens while they were in detention, "and they executed them at a public gathering, so this is inhumane and cruelty."

Muslim groups urge boycott of Niger vote
Because it gave separation of Mosque and state, unacceptable to Islam, which is a political party and system of government as well as a religion. ~Bob. Excerpt: It also formalises a separation of powers between the secular state and Islam in a country 98 percent of whose 15 million citizens are Muslim. “Separating state and religion means quite simply that Allah does not figure as a priority in this state funded by the money of Muslims -- that you can govern Nigeriens with all sorts of atheistic, anti-religious ideologies and ideas," said Harouni Fodi of the Islamic association Anassi.

Armed gunmen seen in Vekol Valley along I-8 may be Mexican assassins
Excerpt: On Monday, a Pinal County, Ariz. sheriff's deputy spotted two Hispanic males armed with long rifles along Interstate 8 in the Vekol Valley. The men were hiding in the bush next to the road, and fled when the deputy spotted them. As they fled, one suspect dropped a backpack containing a loaded magazine and .223 caliber ammunition. Other evidence discovered at the scene indicated that a load of marijuana had recently been transferred to a vehicle. Law enforcement was unable to catch the fleeing gunmen.

Excerpt: Once the pressure for a consensus disappears, the politicization of the science can disappear along with it. And scientific debate about climate change can be scientific again. What role for scientists in the politics and policy deliberations? One of the things I really like about David Robert’s scheme is that climate scientists are removed from the political debate. Scientists and science inform the debate, but the political battles stay in the realm of politics. While I support the general idea of the climate hawks and doves, I don’t support this idea put forward by John Rennie and Keith Kloor that somehow I could make this all work by declaring my position as a climate hawk. I think this is exactly what not to do: the beauty of this idea is that it separates the climate science from the politics. This only works if the scientists stay out of the politics. Climate scientists have no particular expertise on politics, economics or social ethics. A scientist’s personal sense of values and morality has no more legitimacy in this debate than any other individual’s personal sense. There’s an additional reason for climate scientists to stay out of the public debate on this topic: they are biased because of their personal research interests and results, with professional egos and other factors likely weighing into their policy preferences. (It is just barely possible Dr. Curry has found a way to deal with the climate debate that will take all the rancor away and put the science back in. It seems too easy. Ron P.)

Scientists In Hiding
Excerpt: Academics who dare to question the scientific establishment’s consensus on Darwinism or global warming increasingly find themselves ostracised and demonized Three months ago I spent a fascinating few days in a villa opposite Cap Ferrat, taking part in a seminar with a dozen very bright scientists, some world authorities in their field. Although most had never met before, they had two things in common. Each had come to question one of the most universally accepted scientific orthodoxies of our age: the Darwinian belief that life on earth evolved simply through the changes brought about by an infinite series of minute variations. The other was that, on arriving at these conclusions, they had come up against a wall of hostility from the scientific establishment. Even to raise such questions was just not permissible. One had been fired as editor of a major scientific journal because he dared publish a paper sceptical of Darwin’s theory. Another, the leading expert on his subject, had only come lately to his dissenting view and had not yet worked out how to admit this to his fellow academics for fear that he too might lose his post. So embedded in our culture is the assumption that Darwin was right that few realise that it was Darwin himself who first raised some of the most basic objections to his own theory. If each form of life gradually evolved through tiny variations, as he asked in The Origin of Species, why does every fossil we find so identifiably belong to a discrete species? Where are all the ‘intermediate forms’ between one species and another? How could his gradualist theory account for all those complex organs, such as the eye, which require so many interdependent changes to take place simultaneously? How could it account for those startling ‘evolutionary leaps’, when all sorts of changes emerged together in an improbably short time, such as those needed to transform land mammals into whales in barely two million years?

Would He Rather Fight Than Switch?
Excerpt: It follows that the success or failure of President Obama’s response to a new Republican Congress will depend very much on whether he accurately reads the public’s mind. If he thinks the country is center-right, he will accommodate, as Clinton did. If he thinks it is center-left, he will “give ’em hell,” as Truman did. So far, the president has telegraphed that he intends to fight. He has warned that a Republican victory would mean “hand-to-hand combat.” A comment the president made in a recent interview with the New York Times Magazine suggests he expects Republicans to move his way, not vice versa: "It may be that regardless of what happens after this election, they feel more responsible either because they didn’t do as well as they anticipated, and so the strategy of just saying no to everything and sitting on the sidelines and throwing bombs didn’t work for them, or they did reasonably well, in which case the American people are going to be looking to them to offer serious proposals and work with me in a serious way.” What is animating this sentiment? Part of the answer appears to be Obama’s belief that, deep down, the country is with him. He seems to think that Republicans—much like their forebears in 1946—have made political hay out of economic uncertainty, but that when it comes time to govern they will have to come to the table, his table, or suffer a rebuke in 2012. (...) They saw the 2008 presidential election as the first of many victories for this new majority. The president’s apparent plan to fight the GOP makes sense in light of this theory. If he thinks his election really was a leftward realignment, it follows that he will hold the new line against the conservatives, who in this view cannot sustain their coalition into 2012.

Send Biden back to history class
Excerpt: Vice President Biden has regularly delivered impromptu comments of dubious logic and questionable relevance since assuming the second highest office in the land. His remarks are usually harmless, though calling Obamacare "a big deal" was both crass and embarrassing. Now Biden has made a statement that exposes an apparent ignorance of American history that is genuinely disturbing coming from the man who is one heartbeat away from the presidency. Speaking on a campaign swing in New York on Wednesday, Biden offered this gem about the role of government: "Every single great idea that has marked the 21st century, the 20th century and the 19th century has required government vision and government incentive. In the middle of the Civil War, you had a guy named Lincoln paying people $16,000 for every 40 miles of track they laid across the continental United States. ... No private enterprise would have done that for another 35 years." Biden's words are perfectly suitable as a liberal Democrat's expression of blind faith in the good intentions of politicians and bureaucrats, but they also reflect a fantasy version of American history. As the Cato Institute's Tad DeHaven pointed out, private enterprise, not government, built America's railroads. To that end, DeHaven quotes Cato transportation expert Randall O'Toole: "Early American railroads were built almost entirely with private funds. These railroads provided such superior transportation that by 1850 they had put most toll roads and canals out of business. Individual states still competed with one another for business -- and may have offered various favors to the railroads serving those states. ... For the most part, however, no federal and few state subsidies went to railroads in the eastern United States." As for President Lincoln and the Transcontinental Railroad, DeHaven points us to Jim Powell, another Cato scholar, who notes that the federal subsidies reflected the fact that there was no market then for such a railroad line. Ultimately, the federal government's effort to spend the grandiose scheme into being succeeded in building a transcontinental rail line, but along the way it also inspired Credit Mobilier, one of the worst government corruption scandals in American history.

What to Watch For Tuesday
From The Patriot Post
As Tuesday's mid-term elections near, Democrats are facing historic losses in Congress. Granted, this isn't because voters love the GOP -- far from it. It's because Democrats have done an even more abysmal job of governing than Republicans did. Here are a few races to watch. Nevada: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is trailing in most polls to Sharron Angle, who came out of nowhere to win the GOP primary thanks to backing by the Tea Party. Despite having a massive campaign war chest in a state that Barack Obama won by 12 points just two years ago, Reid could very well join Tom Daschle as Democrat leaders who lost re-election. Illinois: Obama may be in for particular embarrassment in his home state, as GOP Congressman Mark Kirk leads Democrat Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias for Obama's former Senate seat. Normally, Illinois would be in the "safe" column for Democrats -- not this year. Delaware: Can Christine O'Donnell pull off the upset against Democrat Chris Coons to take Joe Biden's former Senate seat? It's not likely, as she trails by double digits in the polls. However, the Leftmedia have taken a particular interest in taking out O'Donnell, which makes us wonder if this race is closer than it seems. Alaska: Incumbent Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski has mounted a surprisingly successful write-in campaign after losing the primary to Tea Party-backed attorney and Army vet Joe Miller. If voters can remember how to spell her name, she has a chance to become the first winning write-in candidate since Strom Thurmond (R-SC) in 1954. Democrat Senate incumbents are likely to lose in Arkansas and Wisconsin, and Democrats are certain to lose seats that retiring senators Evan Bayh and Byron Dorgan are vacating in Indiana and North Dakota, respectively. In Pennsylvania, Democrat Joe Sestak is trailing conservative Republican Pat Toomey, and in West Virginia, popular Democrat Gov. Joe Manchin is neck-and-neck with businessman John Raese in his bid to assume the late Robert Byrd's seat. Manchin is campaigning hard against Obama, who is deeply unpopular there. Two late-concluding Senate races that bear watching are in California and Washington. If Republican Carly Fiorina can knock off the loathsome Barbara Boxer in the Golden State, and if Dino Rossi can eke out a win against Patty Murray in Washington, Republicans may well pull off the 10-seat swing they need to take control of the Senate. In the House, Democrat prospects look even worse. Multiple committee chairmen are sweating it out, including Jim Oberstar of Minnesota, Ike Skelton of Missouri and John Spratt of South Carolina. Even Barney Frank, chairman of the powerful House Financial Services Committee, is in trouble in Massachusetts. Republican Sean Bielat, a Marine and businessman, is charging hard, and Frank is stuck below 50 percent in the polls, which is dangerous territory for a long-time incumbent. Michigan's 85-year-old John Dingell, who's been in Congress since 1955 and is the longest-serving member in that body's history, is also in a tight race against Dr. Rob Steele, a fiscally conservative cardiologist bent on repealing ObamaCare. Veteran political guru Charlie Cook says of the number of seats Democrats will lose, "To be honest, I think the odds are higher that it's over 60 than under 40." Republicans need to take 39 net seats to gain control of the House. Cook declared that he'll be "sacking groceries" if that doesn't happen. Across the nation, the electorate is riled up. According to Rasmussen, "65% of Likely U.S. Voters say if they had the option next week, they would vote to get rid of the entire Congress and start all over again." Sounds good to us. Perhaps Michelle Obama summed it up best: "This year's elections are just too important to sit out. There's so much at stake right now for our future and for our children's future." Fellow Patriots, this is a critical election, the first of many battles in our fight to restore Essential Liberty and the Rule of Law. Be sure to bring a few like-minded friends to the polls with you. Here are several handy voter guides for your reference.

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