Saturday, October 9, 2010

Political Digest for October 9, 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.

Battle of Tours, October 10, 732
Tomorrow is the Anniversary of the Battle of Tours. When my ancestor (if the genealogy books are right, but given the math, probably an ancestor of you as well) Charles Martel (the Hammer!) defeated the first Muslim invasion intended to conquer all of Europe, saving Christianity. Tours was their high water mark. The Muslims had already conquered Spain, were working on France. Note this was before the much-maligned Crusades, which were Europe’s re-action to Muslim invasions.

The Muslims turned their attentions to the east of Europe, conquering the Eastern Roman Empire with the fall of the Christian Constantinople, now the Muslim city of Istanbul, Turkey, in 1453, when Constantine XI and his 7,000 defenders gallantly died fighting 80,000+ Turks:

The Muslim “crusade” only faltered with the successful defense of Vienna in 1529:
Remember this history when you hear whining about the Crusades. Now they are back, planting bombs in Britain and Spain, throwing rocks and rioting in Paris. Charles would be appalled. But not surprised.

Jim Jones stepping down as national security adviser; Thomas Donilon to replace
Excerpt: Gen. James Jones, President Barack Obama's national security adviser, is stepping down and will be replaced by his top deputy Tom Donilon, two senior administration officials told The Associated Press on Friday. Obama will announce the change in a Rose Garden ceremony on Friday with both men. Jones' resignation will take effect in two weeks. The move, though expected, is the latest high-profile departure among Obama's leadership team. Chief of staff Rahm Emanuel left just last week, and the president is expected to see more change at the top as Obama's tenure nears the two-year mark and the grinding pace of the White House takes a toll. Jones, who retired from active duty in February 2007 after more than 40 years of uniformed service, had planned all along to leave the national security adviser's post within two years, said one official. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the president had not yet announced the decisions. Donilon's promotion has a significant spillover effect on the rest of the White House. He had emerged as a top candidate to replace Emanuel as the permanent chief of staff. Now that job appears even more likely to go to Pete Rouse, the newly installed interim chief of staff and a longtime adviser to Obama. (Another piece of the puzzle is assigned to an amateur. Donilon's entire national security experience is his recent, less than two years as Deputy NSA, an almost entirely political post. Keep in mind, the NSA is one of the three "required deciders" to authorize the disposition of nuclear weapons; if he doesn't agree, it is very difficult to authorize their use (not that I really think Obama would have the cojones to use them in an emergency). Ron P.)

Obama and his pals need some scarce Hopium for the next election,0,7435344.column
Great John Kass column in the Chicago Trib about the upcoming election. ~Bob. Excerpt: Here in Illinois, we've got Alexi Giannoulias and Rahm Emanuel seeking the president's help so they can get elected. That way, hope can waft across the state and soothe our fears. Yes, we can. Alexi, the famed Broadway Bank loan officer with those mob loans dragging him down, sure needs Obama to raise some big money at Thursday's fundraiser. I'm betting on a staged man-hug for TV, with a couple of shoulder slaps. But open mikes can be treacherous, so they probably won't be whispering, "Dude, how's Tony?" Remember Tony Rezko? He's Obama's personal real estate fairy and loyal customer of the Giannoulias family's now-failed Broadway Bank. Rezko is also the convicted influence peddler who might testify in the retrial of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. o fill a bowl of Hopium and tell me the story of how we had all transcended the broken politics of the past. And Rahm? Barack's former chief of staff is now on a "tell it like it is" listening tour, while pondering a run for mayor of Chicago. He was at Izola's Restaurant on the South Side the other day, sitting beneath a smiling portrait of Chicago's first black mayor, the late Harold Washington. Without Hopium, you might think that some crafty public relations types set up the news photo, since African-American voters haven't exactly warmed up to Rahm.

Rope-a-dope: Obama's plan,0,6028082.story
Excerpt: Yet, like Clinton, Obama may still have a good chance at re-election. Here's why. Currently, banks, corporations and small businesses are sitting on trillions of dollars in cash from two years of low interest rates, a rebounding world economy, and massive cutbacks and downsizing. But they will continue to stay on the sidelines as long as they are unsure of the actual costs of ObamaCare and a proposed federal income tax hike. A constant barrage of anti-business and anti-wealth diatribes from the president makes them even more skittish. Yet, if the GOP regains the House, the Obama redistributive agenda will stall. That stasis will give far more certainly to the business cycle — and probably provide the necessary psychological lift for businesses to start hiring and buying. In a weird way, by losing the Congress, Obama may well see the economy rebound — a turnabout for which he'll take credit, despite the failure of his earlier massive borrowing schemes that will seem like ancient history by 2012. Without Democratic congressional majorities, the president will also have to agree to vast budget cuts, as Republicans try to stave off fiscal insolvency. Again, the president can let the Republican Congress take the hit for the unpopular pruning of entitlements, even as he points to a more encouraging balance sheet. In a Zen sort of way, Obama will allow Republicans to restore financial sanity to his administration, even as he blasts them for cutting programs and hurting the needy. Much of Obama's left-wing base is disenchanted and may not give money or get out the vote in the manner of 2008. With control of the presidency and both houses of Congress the last two years, true-blue liberals were sure Obama could easily fulfill campaign promises such as shutting down Guantanamo, ending "don't ask, don't tell," and passing into law amnesty for illegal aliens, card-check for unions and cap-and-trade for the green lobby. He did none of that, largely because much of his liberal agenda polls well below 50 percent. But if Republicans take over Congress, they — not Obama — can be blamed for the failure to enact the liberal dream. Obama can nostalgically soar with hope-and-change platitudes about his aborted left-wing vision, with the assurance that there is absolutely no chance he will offend the majority of Americans by seeing any of it passed. Overseas, much of the reset Obama foreign policy either stalled or simply reverted back to the policies of George W. Bush. Iran and North Korea are more anti-American — and loonier — than ever before. China is pushing around its neighbors in a way not seen just a few years ago. Russia hasn't helped stop the likely Iranian bomb. We can say that Cuba, Syria and Venezuela sound friendlier, but they still act like enemies. Iran, Afghanistan and anti-terrorism policies are simply Bush policy rehashes.

Economy loses 95,000 jobs in last report before election
Excerpt: The last unemployment report before the midterm elections brought more unwelcome news for Democrats, as the nation's economy lost jobs in September and private-sector growth remained sluggish. The unemployment rate stayed at 9.6 percent as the overall economy lost 95,000 jobs for the month. Most of that loss came from a decline in government employment, and particularly from a drop in temporary Census 2010 jobs. The private sector added 64,000 jobs for the month. The string of negative news on the jobs front is hurting Democrats ahead of an election where Republicans hope to retake majorities in the House and Senate. President Obama said earlier this week that unemployment is giving Republicans political momentum ahead of the Nov. 2 election. Republicans on Friday sought to capitalize on the report as a final verdict on the White House's economic policies ahead of the election. "After nearly two years of weak leadership and broken promises, the American people will go to the polls in less than a month and reject this administration's economic mismanagement," Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said in a statement. Democrats argue the economy would be in much worse shape without their efforts.

At the Mercy of the Obama Tax Hikes
Excerpt: When will the Obama administration admit their economic stimulus plan, which cost more than the Iraq war, failed? The stimulus has already failed to create the 3.5 million jobs President Barack Obama promised it would. It has already failed to keep unemployment below the 8% the President’s top economists predicted it would. And now, the Department of Labor reported today, a full 15 months after the National Bureau of Economic Research certified that the recession ended, that the U.S. economy lost another 95,000 jobs in September. Total employment in the United States economy now stands at 130.2 million. This is 7.6 million jobs short of where the President promised the economy would be by December 2010 if Congress adopted his economic policies. 9.6% unemployment. A 7.6 million jobs gap. Unemployment is actually higher now than when the recession ended in June. If this is not the definition of failure, then what is? By contrast, when the 1980s recession ended in December 1982, unemployment stood at 10.8%. Fifteen months into President Ronald Reagan’s economic recovery, and unemployment had already fallen three full points to 7.8%. Why was the Reagan recovery such a success? And why is the Obama recovery such a failure? Well, for starters, President Reagan did not saddle our children with a brand new $1 trillion entitlement. But more urgently, President Reagan also did not threaten the U.S. economy with the largest tax hike in American history.

Report: Islamic numbers, influence surging
Excerpt: Muslims are taking over parts of the world into which they move simply by outnumbering the previous residents, concludes a new study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. Study coordinator Brian Grim says that of the estimated 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide, most are South Asian, largely in India and Indonesia. The second largest Muslim group comes from the Middle East. But in other parts of the world, such as Western Europe and America, they also are wielding increasing influence, and Grim says it's simply a flexing of their power through outnumbering other groups. …"In the U. K. there are some places where there are so many Muslims [that] non-Muslims can't go there. They are called 'no-go' areas for non-Muslims," he explained. "Because of this, human rights violations are happening. We have reported attacks on Christians in a neighborhood in the U. K. Evangelists were stopped by the police for preaching the Gospel. The Muslim policeman stopped them and said they couldn't preach in that area," Racho said. "There's been some scary situations. I'm not trying to be alarmist, but I'm just stating the facts. The situation is really bad for Christians in some areas where Muslims are now in the majority in Europe," Racho added.

Italy move to ban the burka
Didn’t the Obamaites want us to be more like Europe? Well? ~Bob. Excerpt: A group of MPs from the Northern League, part of Silvio Berlusconi's ruling right wing coalition, proposed the bill, which states that burkas should be banned in Italy, not for "religious reasons but for security reasons". The move comes a month after the French parliament approved a ban on wearing a full-face veil in public. The proposal would amend a 1975 law, introduced amid fears of home-grown terrorism, which punishes with hefty fines and up to two years in jail people who cover their faces with anything preventing their identification by police. Until now an exception has been made for the wearing of the Muslim veil on the grounds of religious freedom. The Northern League said it wanted the law changed so that it included Italy's burgeoning population of 1.2 million Muslim immigrants.

Federal Judge Upholds Constitutionality of Health-Care Law
Excerpt: A federal judge in Detroit Thursday afternoon rejected a request for a preliminary injunction to halt the health-care overhaul signed into law by President Obama back in March. In his 20-page opinion, Judge George Caram Steeh upheld the constitutionality of the law, finding that Congress possesses the authority under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause to require that every American purchase health insurance. Click here for the Bloomberg report; here for the opinion; here for other LB coverage of challenges to the health-care law. Steeh’s analysis under the Commerce Clause was broken into two parts. First, he found that the economic decisions that the Act regulates as to how to pay for health care services affect the interstate health care market …..Steeh, nominated to the bench by Bill Clinton in 1997, is the first to rule on the constitutionality of the so-called individual mandate. A federal judge in Virginia denied a motion to dismiss a similar lawsuit. A federal judge in Pensacola, Fla., has indicated he is inclined to do the same.

Treasury IG to review allegations against Austan Goolsbee
Bought 500 shares of Acme Whitewash stock when I saw this. ~Bob. Excerpt: Federal tax watchdogs plan to review allegations that Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Austan Goolsbee may have illegally accessed the confidential tax information of Koch Industries Inc., a privately held firm owned and operated by brothers Charles and David Koch, who generously bankroll conservative causes. A group of Senate Republicans, led by Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), announced Wednesday that the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration plans to review the allegations against Goolsbee. But TIGTA sources stressed the office is only reviewing the allegations and has not determined whether it will launch a more formal investigation. In a late August conference call with reporters, Goolsbee "used Koch Industries as an example when discussing an issue noted in the [President's Economic Recovery Board] report that half of business income goes to companies that do not pay corporate income tax because they are pass-through entities and that many of them are quite large," White House officials said Wednesday evening. "The statement that Koch is a pass-through entity implies direct knowledge of Koch's legal and tax status, which would appear to be a violation of" federal tax laws, Grassley and his colleagues wrote to TIGTA in late September. "Alternatively, if the statement was based on speculation, it raises the question of whether the administration speculating about any specific taxpayer's liability is appropriate."

TARP: How it's playing in the midterm campaigns
Excerpt: A new poll from the Pew Research Center/National Journal Congressional Connection indicates that the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which officially came to an end last Sunday, continues to be a major voting issue ahead of the November midterms. Forty-six percent of adults in the new survey said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who "supported the government providing major loans to banks during the 2008 financial crisis." This was more than the number of voters who said they were less likely to vote for a candidate on any other issue. Two years after then-President George W. Bush signed the bill into law following its passage by the Senate and House, TARP (or "the Wall Street bailout," as most voters know it) continues to haunt candidates up and down the ballot. It has helped cause primary losses to longtime incumbents (see Bennett, Bob), and is even part of the calculus, as evident in Monday night's Connecticut Senate debate, for candidates who aren't members of Congress. Even the news late last week that TARP may end up costing taxpayers less than $50 billion instead of its original $700 billion price tag looks unlikely to re-shape the midterms four weeks from Election Day. (I’m sorry they are shutting it down. I figure another case of Belhaven Ale and I’ll be “Too Big To Fail” myself. ~Bob.)

India Irate After Anchor's Not-So-Diplomatic Play on Name
Excerpt: India today blasted New Zealand after a television anchor made fun of Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit's name, pronouncing it phonetically over and over, even after being told by another announcer that her name was pronounced "Dixit." Dikshit is in the news because New Delhi is hosting the Commonwealth Games, which kicked off last Sunday with a grand opening ceremony following weeks of bad press about the mismanagement of the event. "It looks like Dick-sh--," Paul Henry said during a breakfast show on the television station TVNZ and then proceeded to repeat his joke and laugh loudly for over a minute. "And it's so appropriate because she's Indian. ... So she would be in Dick-in-sh-- ... walking along the street." (Maybe he thought she was a boot Marine. My DI used to call me “Dipsh*t.” That was when he liked me. ~Bob.)

Senate panel: U.S. money was funneled to Afghan warlords with links to violence
A WAR-lord with a link to violence? Who would have guessed? “Hey, Abdul, who’s payroll you on today? I don’t know if we should shoot each other or not!” ~Bob. Excerpt: The leading Senate panel on military affairs has found that several private security contractors in Afghanistan funneled money from their Pentagon contracts to warlords and strongmen linked to murder, kidnapping and bribery. The private security contractors at the center of the yearlong Senate Armed Services Committee investigation also used U.S. taxpayers’ money to pay off individuals who supported the Taliban or took action against NATO-coalition forces in Afghanistan, according to Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), the panel’s chairman. Levin said on Thursday that his panel’s report underscores the need to “shut off the spigot” of U.S. money going into the “pockets of warlords.” One of the companies investigated, ArmorGroup, a subsidiary of the British company G4S, relied on Afghan warlords — some of whom were Taliban supporters — to provide manpower for the company’s guard force at an Afghan air base, the report said.
Rangel, Waters public ethics trials won't start until after election
Then comes the dreaded wrist slap. ~Bob. Excerpt: Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) won't face public ethics trials until after the election. The House ethics committee announced Thursday that Rangel’s trial will begin Nov. 15 and Waters’s will start Nov. 29. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), who chairs the panel, made the decision unilaterally after Republicans publicly balked last week about the delay in setting the schedule and argued the trials should be held before the November midterms. Both lawmakers are accused of breaking multiple House ethics rules and have chosen to fight the charges in public trials.

China's Liu Xiaobo wins Nobel Peace Prize
Conniving SOB beat out Michelle Obama, who deserved it for being named “Obama” and living in the White House. ~Bob. Excerpt: Liu Xiaobo, an irrepressible, chain-smoking Chinese dissident imprisoned last year for subversion, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for helping to spearhead a campaign for more freedom in China. In a statement, the Nobel committee said Liu, 54, deserved the prize "for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China." Liu joins German pacifist Carl von Ossietzky, who was awarded the prize in 1935 while he was jailed by the Nazis, as the only two to win the prize while in prison. Analysts said the honor was aimed at pressuring China to ease its crackdown on religious and political activists. China's government denounced the award as "a desecration" and said the honor should have gone to someone focused on promoting international friendship and disarmament. "Liu Xiaobo is a sentenced criminal who has violated Chinese law," a spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry said in a statement. The spokesman, Ma Zhaoxu, said honoring Liu "runs counter to the principles of the Nobel Peace Prize."

Green Jobs Promises Dwindle As Policies Backfire
But for liberals, intentions matter. Results—not so much. ~Bob. Excerpt: The subject of green jobs was conspicuously absent from President Obama’s most recent $50 billion stimulus proposal. By contrast, about $92 billion in taxpayer funds—more than 11 percent—of Obama’s original $814 billion stimulus package, enacted in early 2009, went to an assortment of renewable energy projects. But the jobs that were supposed to be created never materialized—at least not in the United States. According to the White House, last year’s stimulus created 190,700 green jobs, but the administration’s own Department of Energy (DOE) puts the figure at only 82,000. And, as the Washington Times reported on September 10, as much as 80 percent of some green programs, including $2.3 billion in tax credits, went to foreign firms that employed workers primarily in China, South Korea, and Spain…..Other problems have arisen on the green-jobs front. In 2007 the newly elected Democratic Congress joined forces with the Bush administration to enact an energy bill which, among other things, provided for the phase-out of traditional incandescent light bulbs. It turns out, however, that their replacement, the compact fluorescent light (CFL), can be manufactured much more cheaply in China. As a result, 200 workers at a GE light bulb factory in Winchester, Virginia recently lost their jobs. Disillusionment with the broken promise of green jobs has even made its way into the ranks of the Obama administration’s political allies. In early September the United Steelworkers union filed a trade complaint against China, charging the Chinese with unfairly subsidizing the manufacture of components used by the renewable energy industry, at the expense of U.S. workers. Ruffling even more feathers was a report issued last fall by American University’s Investigative Reporting Workshop finding 11 U.S. wind farms used government grants to purchase most of their wind turbines—695 of 982 purchased—from foreign suppliers.

The Muslim Brotherhood is ready; is the West?
Scary how many tens of thousands of Muslims (perhaps millions), including leading religious spokesmen, didn’t get the “Islam is a Religion of Peace” memo. ~Bob. Excerpt: In August 1996, al-Qaeda declared war on America, the West, Christians, and Jews. Almost nobody paid attention. Last month, says Barry Rubin, the Muslim Brotherhood, a group with one hundred times more activists than al-Qaeda, issued its declaration of war, endorsing anti-American jihad and much of the rest of al-Qaeda's dogma. The declaration is contained in a speech called, "How Islam Confronts the Oppression and Tyranny." You can read the speech, as translated by MEMRI, here. Among its key points are: Arab and Muslim regimes are betraying their people by failing to confront the Muslim's real enemies, not only Israel but also the United States. Waging jihad against both of these infidels is a commandment of Allah that cannot be disregarded. All Muslims are required by their religion to fight: "They crucially need to understand that the improvement and change that the [Muslim] nation seeks can only be attained through jihad and sacrifice and by raising a jihadi generation that pursues death just as the enemies pursue life." (Notice that jihad here is not interpreted, as it is so often in the West, as spiritual striving. The clear meaning is one of armed struggle). The United States is immoral, doomed to collapse, and "experiencing the beginning of its end and is heading towards its demise." Palestinians should back Hamas in overthrowing the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and unite in waging. Will those who matter pay attention to this declaration? Probably not. For as Rubin points out, the Muslim Brotherhood is a group that many in the West, some in high positions, are saying should be engaged as a negotiating partner because it is "moderate." Once a group, any group, is deemed moderate by the liberal elite, its immoderate pronouncements, if noticed, are explained away. But it would be criminally foolhardy not to take the Muslim Brotherhood's declaration of war at face value. First, it comes directly from the group's "Supreme Guide", Muhammad Badi. And Rubin notes that Badi ascended to that position just a few months ago. Thus, his declaration reflects current thinking.

ObamaCare and the Election
Excerpt: Republicans haven't fit ObamaCare into their guiding political and economic narrative, which is built around the recovery and jobs (or lack thereof) and the GOP perennials of taxes and spending. The "repeal and replace" catch-phrase did earn a mention in the House campaign manifesto, details to come, but it is clearly a subsidiary theme. A National Journal survey of 91 leading Republican strategists in late September found that only 2% ranked ObamaCare as the party's top electoral priority, and 7% as the second choice. The danger is that if the party doesn't use the campaign to create a mandate, it won't be strategically positioned to repeal, let alone replace. That fight will be hard enough as Republicans vie with President Obama's veto merely to chip away at the edges. And unless the GOP pours the political foundations now for more lasting health reforms, they won't have anything to build on going into 2012. In other words, Republicans ought to be using the 2010 campaign to build opposition to ObamaCare and educate voters about the differences between private and government health care. They could also begin persuading the public—and maybe even themselves—of the virtues of an alternative system based on market principles and more consumer choice. The irony is that most Democrats are currently running away from ObamaCare—no doubt because they can read the polls showing that public opinion has swung from 2 to 1 in favor in the spring of 2009 to 2 to 1 opposed today, with heavy defections among independents. The double irony is that the politicians making the most effective case against ObamaCare aren't Republicans, but the House Democrats who voted against it, if only to separate themselves from their party. There are some rare Democrats trying to save their seats by running on health care. One is Senator Russ Feingold, who may very well be toppled in November by Republican Ron Johnson. The Wisconsin liberal is aiming for a comeback with TV ads blasting Mr. Johnson for supposedly wanting to "put insurance companies back in control." We're glad to see Mr. Johnson is fighting back hard with his own ad that notes "A majority of Wisconsinites opposed the government takeover of health care" that Mr. Feingold voted for anyway and will result in "Higher taxes. Higher insurance rates. Lower quality."…. For one, the plan's march to the sea is only beginning and the trail of destruction will grow. The last six months have seen 2011 premium increases as high as 9% due to ObamaCare; multibillion-dollar corporate writedowns by Verizon, AT&T, Caterpillar and others; disruption in the insurance markets leading to the erasure of child-only policies and other types of specialty coverage as shown in the McDonald's imbroglio; the Administration beginning to impose price controls on premiums; insurers withdrawing private options from Medicare Advantage; and Democratic protection of a 1099 tax reporting mandate that will slam small businesses. Republicans should be repeating all of these tangible harms in a litany, while predicting the damage to come. Every wonk in Washington knows this bill creates a new entitlement that will transfer the costs of covering the uninsured to the government but do nothing to control underlying health costs. Democrats will embrace more restrictions on care of the kind we are already seeing in Massachusetts since Mitt Romney's ObamaCare dress rehearsal.

Rory Reid: Healthcare reform could end up hurting Nevada
Excerpt: Gubernatorial candidate Rory Reid (D) said Thursday that the new health reform law could hurt Nevada. During a televised debate, Rory Reid, the son of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), said he does not support the legal challenges against the health overhaul. Yet, he does believe that President Obama’s signature achievement could negatively affect Nevada. “I don’t deny, however,” Rory Reid said, “that Nevada needs to be vigilant on this issue. The law that was passed gives time for the new system to go into effect, but there is potential for it to put significant pressure on states because Medicaid rates could go up significantly.”

The Mysterious Appeal of Polygamy and Obama
Excerpt: Morality aside, I don't see why it ever appealed to Mormons or Muslims. If you think about it for two minutes, you can see that it makes no sense. If anyone is going to have multiple spouses, it should be the woman, not the man. A man, after all, is a simple creature. By nature, he is not a multi-tasker. Working at the top of his game, he can barely manage to maintain a civilized relationship with one wife. The very idea that he is capable of keeping up with three or four or more wives makes me laugh. For one thing, a normal wife doesn't even want another woman setting foot in her kitchen and certainly not in her bathroom. For another thing, any time a polygamous husband hears laughter in his house, he knows who the ladies are laughing about. Worse yet, he has a pretty good idea what they're laughing about. On the other hand, a woman could easily juggle six or seven husbands. To start with, if she married wisely as well as often, she could have one husband who enjoys going to museums, another who likes going shopping, a third who like to travel, a fourth who lives to go dancing, a fifth who shares her belief that Kahlil Gibran's "The Prophet" is the greatest book ever written, a sixth who never gets tired of seeing Jennifer Aniston movies, and so forth. What's more, at those times when the woman just wants to be alone, there are enough guys around for a poker game. (As the old joke goes, you don’t have to be a polygamist to have one wife too many. ~Bob.)

The Colbert Democrats
Excerpt: A president's first midterm election is inevitably a referendum on his two years in office. The bad news for Democrats is that President Obama's "re-elect" number is 38 percent -- precisely Bill Clinton's in October 1994, the eve of the wave election that gave Republicans control of the House for the first time in 40 years. Yet this same poll found that 65 percent view Obama favorably "as a person." The current Democratic crisis is not about the man -- his alleged lack of empathy, ability to emote, etc., requiring remediation with backyard, shirt-sleeved shoulder rubbing with the folks -- but about the policies. And the problem with the policies is twofold: ideology and effectiveness. First, Obama, abetted by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, tried to take a center-right country to the left. They grossly misread the 2008 election. It was a mandate to fix the economy and restore American confidence. Obama read it as a mandate to change the American social contract, giving it a more European social-democratic stamp, by fundamentally extending the reach and power of government in health care, energy, education, finance and industrial policy. Obama succeeded with health care. Unfortunately for the Democrats, that and Obama's other signature achievement -- the stimulus -- were not exactly what the folks were clamoring for. What they wanted was economic recovery. Here the Democrats failed the simple test of effectiveness. The economy is extraordinarily weak, unemployment is unacceptably high and the only sure consequence of the stimulus is nearly $1 trillion added to the national debt in a single stroke.

Stimulus Checks Sent to the Dead
Probably a Democrat get-out-the-vote drive. ~Bob. Excerpt: The Social Security Administration sent about 89,000 stimulus payments of $250 each to dead and incarcerated people — but almost half of them were returned, a new inspector-general’s report has found. The agency was charged with distributing the one-time payments, worth about $13 billion in total, as part of the economic-stimulus package passed in February 2009. Most of the payments were made in May 2009. The inspector general found that about 72,000 payments were sent by electronic-transfer and as checks to people who would have qualified to receive them — had they still been alive. The report said that of these payments, about 55,000 were sent because the recipients had died recently, and the Social Security Administration had not been informed of their deaths by states, families or funeral homes at the time the payments were sent. The remaining 17,000 of the mistaken payments were attributed to the SSA failing to properly process death records that it did have. Another 17,000 payments went to recipients who were in prison at the time the payment was made in May 2009. However, not all of those payments were necessarily against the letter of the law. While lawmakers intended to prevent payments to people in prison, the law included only a provision prohibiting payments to people incarcerated in the three months before the plan was passed — from November 2008 through January 2009.

Battle Scars
The state of higher education (or, more accurately, “higher indoctrination). In 1971 I took a class at U-Mass on the history of the Vietnam war. I was the only vet in the class. The professor and the other 25 students were all cheering for a Communist victory. ~Bob. Excerpt: Every class I feel like I have to do extra reading—just to balance out what’s been assigned. I’m sitting here writing a paper knowing the sources I have been provided with have already determined the position I am suppose to argue. I know students who don’t say anything, because they know they can’t challenge the whole class. Knowing that they don’t know everything about an issue, they say nothing. Maybe that’s what scares me most about education. The classroom is designed to be a place for the exploration of ideas, but because an idea is not popular, it is not spoken. For suggesting that inequality could in any way be good, because it is through inequality that airplanes were invented and medicine advanced, I was laughed at. My peers condemned Hayek before they even read what he had to say and have attributed global warming to the writings of John Locke. My physics textbooks informs me in a single paragraph that Adam Smith was wrong and that there are no costs attached to adjustments in energy infrastructure in Germany, because the government pays for it. My government TA asserted that Reagan had nothing to do with the fall of communism. I have fought with students and challenged my professors, but it doesn’t stop. I’m not saying it ever will or that somehow my experience is unique, but it is discouraging. I know I’m right, but I can’t win every battle. I can’t always articulate my answers the right way. I can’t force the person I’m talking with to stay on topic or convince him that I really do know what I’m talking about, even though I can’t outline Sweden’s rise to social democracy. Already, a limited number of people will listen to anything that I have to say, and the more I speak up, the more they stop listening. Discerning when to speak up and when to leave an issue alone is my greatest struggle.

Jewish Republicans Seen on Edge about Tea Party
Excerpt: “The Tea Party movement gives a public face to the fact that all moderation has been driven out of the Republican Party of today,” said David Harris, president of the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC). “Inevitably, that just further drives away Jewish support.” But predictions are risky in today’s highly charged political environment. “So much of this will depend on which face of the Tea Party movement emerges as dominant,” said University of Florida political scientist Kenneth Wald. “It’s an amazingly diverse and decentralized movement at this stage. We don’t know what it will look like in six months.” Ryan Hecker, for one, believes the Tea Party movement has room in its tent for Jews. Hecker is a Houston lawyer and the godfather of the “Contract From America,” a Tea Party manifesto that is exerting a gravitational pull on this year's congressional contests. And he’s Jewish. Hecker, once a campaign staffer for former New York Mayor and GOP presidential hopeful Rudolph Giuliani, said Jewish voters should have no problems with the Tea Party phenomenon. “I’m from New York — we elected Rudy Giuliani twice with huge backing from the Jewish community,” Hecker told The Jewish Week. “The reason is that he appealed to the idea that spending was out of control in New York, corruption was out of control, and that we needed to cut back and government needs to be more transparent.”

Study hits waste in Cook lawsuits
Excerpt: A study to be released today by a grass-roots watchdog group says Cook County spent $54 million in litigation costs last year, the equivalent of 1,200 new police officers or 740 new nurses for the Health & Hospitals System. The annual study, produced by the Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch, said the county has spent $312 million in litigation since 2005, 136 times the amount spent by neighboring DuPage County. Cook has spent $190 million in judgments and settlements over that time, DuPage $1.4 million. Bartlett Republican Commissioner Timothy Schneider said that was partly apples and oranges, in that DuPage doesn’t have the same sort of publicly funded health system, but added, “They absolutely have a point. Any dime we spend toward a malpractice settlement or a workers’ comp settlement is money we’re taking away from the taxpayers of the county in providing services for the people of the county or returning the money to the people. It’s essentially the taxpayers who are footing the bill. (Government of the Democrat Lawyers, by the Democrat Lawyers and for the Democrat Lawyers. They probably blame the Republicans who live here. Both of us. ~Bob)

Japanese View of the Palestinians
Going around the net. Not sure of it’s veracity as “Japanese, but the questions are good. ~Bob. Excerpt: If you are so sure that "Palestine, the country, goes back through most of recorded history", I expect you to be able to answer a few basic questions about that country of Palestine: When was it founded and by whom? What were its borders? What was its capital? What were its major cities? What constituted the basis of its economy? What was its form of government? Can you name at least one Palestinian leader before Arafat? Was Palestine ever recognized by a country whose existence, at that time or now, leaves no room for interpretation? What was the language of the country of Palestine? What was the prevalent religion of the country of Palestine? What was the name of its currency? Choose any date in history and tell what was the approximate exchange rate of the Palestinian monetary unit against the US dollar, German mark, GB pound, Japanese yen, or Chinese yuan on that date. And, finally, since there is no such country today, what caused its demise and when did it occur? You are lamenting the "low sinking" of a "once proud" nation. Please tell me, when exactly was that "nation" proud and what was it so proud of?

Global finance chiefs deliver tough talk on currency, China
Excerpt: World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick warned Thursday against the outbreak of a global currency war while his counterpart at the International Monetary Fund said China must quicken its pace of currency reform if it hopes to gain a greater voice in the international organization. The unusually blunt remarks on sensitive matters came as the two sister organizations prepared for a weekend meeting of 187 world finance ministers in Washington, with discussions centering on increasing strains over currency issues and a proposal to give China and other major developing nations greater voting power on the groups' boards of directors. Mr. Zoellick said tensions are growing because unemployment remains high in the United States and other developed nations, causing political leaders to focus public anger on nations like China whose fast-growing exports appear to have taken away manufacturing jobs.

Splattergate - When Greenwashing Blows Up
Excerpt: Not surprisingly, Sony is a sponsor of 10:10 no more. Its logo is no longer present on the 10:10 site, and a blog post written by a Sony employee has apparently been removed from the 10:10 site as well. Kyocera Mita is also no longer listed as a sponsor on the 10:10 site. Of course, the damage has already been done, as Sony, Kyocera Mita and O2 will forever be associated with Splattergate. Unfortunately, many brands make the same mistake Sony, Kyocera Mita and O2 made: they provide explicit endorsements to organizations and initiatives that have little to do with their businesses, and which they have little to no control over. While most individuals know that an advertisement doesn't represent an endorsement, corporate sponsorships are endorsements, so there's far more at stake. This is not to say that corporations need to be amoral beasts. Few individuals are reasonably going to fault a brand for assisting individuals genuinely in need. But when it comes to supporting 'causes' and their associated messages -- not people directly -- brands often take on unnecessary risk. Whether one believes a particular cause to be just is beside the point. Cause-oriented messaging is often heavily laced with political and social overtones that have the potential to create not just overwhelmingly positive reactions, but overwhelmingly negative ones as well.

Quotes from “my” Representative in Congress
Click through until your head explodes. ~Bob.

‘Eco-Fascist Snuff Movie’
Excerpt: Richard Curtis, the British director of Love Actually (2003), has produced a new climate-change awareness video that includes gruesome images of exploding schoolchildren. In the spot, students who refuse to comply with carbon-cutting standards are slaughtered by their teacher. The video — dubbed an “eco-fascist snuff movie” by James Delingpole of the Daily Telegraph — has caused a stir across the pond. Due to public outcry, the video has since been removed from the web by its sponsor, the 10:10 group. Sen. James Inhofe (R., Okla.), the ranking member of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, tells National Review Online that the clip is an “outrageous, last-ditch effort” by the green movement to “scare little kids into thinking that they could be killed if they don’t believe what they’re told to believe.”

Life suddenly too hot for the eco-fascists of 10:10
Lectured by people whose carbon footprint is 100 times mine. ~Bob. Excerpt: Curtis lives in Notting Hill and has a country house in Walberswick, Suffolk … with script editor and broadcaster Emma Freud. They have four children; daughter Scarlett Rachel Anne, and three sons, James, Charlie and Spike. They have another country retreat in Henley, Oxfordshire.

Romney and the 'Good Ol' Boys' Snub Two Female GOP House Candidates in Lavish
Excerpt: Does Mitt Romney have a "woman problem"? He graced the Phoenix-metro area this week for an affluent fundraiser for four male house candidates in Arizona, but managed to snub two strong conservative women running for Congress in the same state, one of which, Janet Contreras, now refers to Romney as part of the "Good Old Boys" club. Ouch!

Obama is Casting Actors for Town Hall Audience per Nielsen’s ‘Back Stage’
Call Central Casting. Have them send down a few hundred “useful idiots.” ~Bob. Excerpt: What are you doing, October 14th? Would you like to be a “town hall meeting” shill for Barack Obama? According to this official casting notice in Nielsen’s Back Stage site, you still have time to apply and/or audition. Here is the link to the live listing in the Back Stage casting call.

BREAKING: SFO Chronicle says “Faulty science behind state’s landmark diesel law” – an error of 340%
Excerpt: California grossly miscalculated pollution levels in a scientific analysis used to toughen the state’s clean air standards, and scientists have spent the past several months revising data and planning a significant weakening of the landmark regulation, The Chronicle has found. The pollution estimate in question was too high – by 340 percent, according to the California Air Resources Board, the state agency charged with researching and adopting air quality standards. The estimate was a key part in the creation of a regulation adopted by the Air Resources Board in 2007, a rule that forces businesses to cut diesel emissions by replacing or making costly upgrades to heavy-duty, diesel-fueled off-road vehicles used in construction and other industries. The staff of the powerful and widely respected Air Resources Board said the overestimate is largely due to the board calculating emissions before the economy slumped, which halted the use of many of the 150,000 diesel-exhaust spewing vehicles in California. Independent researchers, however, found huge overestimates in the Air Board’s work on diesel emissions and attributed the flawed work to a faulty method of calculation – not the economic downturn. The overestimate, which comes after another bad calculation by the Air Board on diesel-related deaths that made headlines in 2009, prompted the board to suspend the regulation earlier this year while officials decided whether to weaken the rule. Today, after months of work, the Air Board and construction industry officials announced they agreed on a major scale-back of the rule – a proposal that includes delaying the start of the requirements until 2014 and exempting more vehicles from the rule. The announcement was made as The Chronicle was preparing to publish this report, which had been in the works for several weeks. (Remember yesterday's stories about the California ballot initiative to delay or repeal AB32, the "air quality" act so dear to the greens out there? Not only is this story from the ultra-leftist San Francisco Chronicle, it appears to be based on the same inside info that had been leaked to the people backing the repeal over a year ago. Or, perhaps the entire board is being paid by out-of-state oil companies. Emphasis added. Ron P. )

Refusal to Pledge Allegiance Lands Lawyer in Jail
Excerpt: But on Wednesday morning in Tupelo, Miss., a grown man more than 70 years of age -- a Chancery Court official generally charged with presiding over domestic matters and sanity hearings, a jurist with the unimprovable name of Talmadge D. Littlejohn -- sought to compel another grown man -- a member of the bar in good standing, a 49-year-old solo practitioner with a history of work on civil rights cases concerning such matters as Ku Klux Klan rallies and prayer in public schools -- to stand and recite the 31 familiar words ending in "justice for all." The lawyer, Danny Lampley, declined. Matters escalated. A standoff ensued, one without much precedent in adult affairs. "Be it remembered, this date, the Court having ordered all present in the courtroom to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance, and having found that Danny Lampley, Attorney at Law, failed and refused to do so, finds said Danny Lampley to be in criminal contempt of court," Judge Littlejohn wrote in an order committing Lampley to the custody of Lee County Jail. (...) Nearly all legal precedents in the case involve schoolchildren, partly because grown-up recitations tend to take place in settings such as a Knights of Columbus Hall, where the assembled arrive with a mindset amenable to allegiance-pledging. In 1943, the U.S. Supreme Court established the right to opt out of a ceremony involving pledging allegiance to the flag, siding against compulsory speech in its majority opinion on a West Virginia Board of Education case. Since the words "under God" were added to the pledge in the 1950s, new disputes have emerged on other First Amendment grounds. The Supreme Court most recently addressed the pledge in 2004, ruling on technical grounds against the atheist father of an elementary school girl in California. Experts on First Amendment law were hard pressed to name a case involving adults. (I guess I haven't been to court enough. In my innocence, I assumed all courts automatically said the pledge as a normal matter of course. They are enforcing OUR laws, aren't they? Don't we require attorneys to be members of the bar in the United States or do we allow foreign lawyers to enforce the laws of some other country here? If so, I want to hire a barrister or a King's Council. I don't currently need one, I just like the way they look with those wigs. Ron P.)

Lobbyist to firm: Fire me, and I'll turn my congressman brother against you
Excerpt: Tanya Rahall, sister of Rep. Nick Rahall, allegedly threatened to make sure the “doors on Capitol Hill will be closed” to a lobbying firm that fired her, according to a civil lawsuit filed against her and another lobbyist. Tanya Rahall “made threats that her brother, Congressman Nick Rahall of West Virginia, would exercise his power and influence on Capitol Hill to harm the businesses and reputations of RJI and its personnel,” according to a lawsuit filed by RJI Government Strategies, a D.C.-based lobbying firm where Tanya Rahall worked for nine months from 2008 to 2009.

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