Thursday, November 11, 2010

Political Digest for November 11, 2010

I have several commitments over the next few days, so posts may be scarce. Sorry. ~Bob.

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.

Veterans Day
Thank you to all who wore the uniform in Freedom’s cause. You were willing to put your body between the barbarians and our homes. At the 11th Hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the guns of the “War to End All wars” fell silent. But of course we know, as Plato said a while back, “Only the dead have seen the end of war.” Honor to all who stand between our homes and war’s desolation.

Veterans Day, 2010!

Searching for a war hero Tarawa/Betio for Medal of Honor Recipient's Remains
Excerpt: Clay Bonnyman Evans stands on Betio island's coral sand beaches, trying to imagine his grandfather's last moments alive. Evans never met his grandfather. His only memory stems from the man's portrait hanging in the family's living room. "Seeing him on the wall and knowing that heroism and wondering could I possibly aspire to be that," Evans, 48, recalled. "He was a very real presence in my life." U.S. Marine Corps 1st Lt. Alexander "Sandy" Bonnyman Jr. fought and died in the Battle of Tarawa in World War II in November 1943. He was part of the U.S. effort to secure the Japanese-held island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll, which claimed the lives of nearly 1,000 American sailors and Marines. Many were buried in large common graves. Sixty-seven years later, the American servicemen are still buried, including Bonnyman who was awarded a Medal of Honor for his actions.

Ambush survivor up for Medal of Honor
Excerpt: The Marine Corps has recommended that a former corporal receive the Medal of Honor for braving a hail of enemy fire in September 2009 to pull the bodies of four U.S. troops from a kill zone in eastern Afghanistan, Marine Corps Times has learned. Dakota Meyer, 22, of Greensburg, Ky., was recommended for the nation’s highest award for valor, according to a source with knowledge of the process, speaking on condition of anonymity. Meyer could become the first living Marine recipient of the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War. Only one Marine, Cpl. Jason Dunham, has received the award for actions in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he was honored posthumously after throwing himself on a grenade in Karabilah, Iraq, in 2004 to save the lives of fellow Marines.

Boasting About Marines
Excerpt: Then in a 1992 study conducted by the Heritage Foundation, it was determined that “for every [U.S.] Army soldier in a combat position, one soldier is behind the lines in such supporting roles as administration and supply; for Marines the ratio is two combatants to one administrator or supplier. As a result, the Marine Corps delivers the most firepower in the quickest time when responding to a crisis. … The Marine Corps’ greatest advantage over other services is the speed and muscle with which it can respond to a crisis.” In 2006, national defense and economics historian Dr. Larry Schweikart – in his book, America's Victories: Why the U.S. Wins Wars and Will Win the war on Terror – describes the performance of U.S. troops during the 2003 invasion of Iraq: “The Marines, given their superiority in combat training and despite their youth (Marines are the youngest, on average, of the enlisted troops) generally fared far better than the regular Army in combat situations.”

American Spartans: Marines face uncertain future
Excerpt: Today's Pentagon is focused on saving money, no matter what. If the Marines are best suited for one kind of warfare, and that warfare is becoming obsolete, that begs the obvious question: Why have Marines at all? Yet here, Gates' view of history is distorted. The Marines have never been just a fighting force that existed to land and die on beaches. They literally wrote the book on counterinsurgency back in 1940, the "Small Wars Manual," based on their 180-year experience fighting in remote jungle and rough terrain environments from Latin America to the Philippines and North Africa. The Marines pioneered the strategy of not just fighting an enemy but understanding his mind-set and culture, as well -- a huge advantage in counterinsurgency operations -- which is why Marines have led the way in the surges both in Iraq and in Afghanistan. Five times past administrations have tried to take down the Marines, and five times they've failed. President Harry Truman was the last to publicly talk about dismantling the corps to save money. Then as (one hopes) now, Marines were too tightly woven into the fabric of American life to let that happen. And the Marines soon proved how wrong Truman had been in the Korean War, during the landings at Inchon and at Chosin Reservoir, where the Old Breed fought off 8-to-1 odds against the Red Chinese army in 40-degree-below-zero weather, and won 17 Medals of Honor. Still, the Marines have an even more powerful enemy in the Obama White House. (They can try, but they'll never dissolve the Corps! There are too many of us old Marines, including ones in politics, industry, and everywhere else, for the idea to ever really go anywhere in Congress. Idiots will try, every now and then. F*** 'em. S/F –Del. I’m not so sure, Del. The new strategy is to chip away, use the budget to reduce the size of the Corps, reduce the mission. Wear the Corps down, make it less effective. Taking Marines off capital ships was a mistake. ~Bob.)

Important: Did the tea party cost Republicans the Senate?
A look at the numbers. As I’ve been saying, beating RINOs doesn’t help if it keeps the likes of Harry Reid in power. I prefer a solid conservative in the Senate, but I’d prefer to win with a moderate Republican than lose to a socialist by supporting a conservative with bad baggage who isn’t ready for prime time. ~Bob. Excerpt: Tea party backed Senate candidates in several states significantly underperformed more establishment Republican candidates running on the same ballot last Tuesday, data that provides further evidence that the tea party movement may have cost the GOP seats. Ever since Republicans fell short of a Senate majority last week, tensions have been simmering beneath the surface about tea party candidates who upset the establishment in the primary and then fell short in the general election - candidates like Sharron Angle in Nevada, Ken Buck in Colorado and Christine O'Donnell in Delaware. Establishment Republicans -- including Rep. Spencer Bachus (Ala.) -- have argued that the tea party likely cost the party those three Senate seats, which may have been enough to bring them into a 50-50 tie. Tea Party advocates like Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) have attempted to throw water on this idea, making the case that tea party enthusiasm drove GOP gains broadly. "That is a very silly thing to say," DeMint said on NBC's Meet the Press this weekend. "The tea party is responsible for just about every Republican elected around the country." Though Republican strategists acknowledge the tea party's energy helped their cause broadly, they note that the vast majority of the candidates most closely associated with the movement lost. Losing, of course, does not necessarily make one a bad candidate (see: Clinton, Bill), so we need to dig a little further. How then to judge whether tea party candidates underperformed a generic Republican? Compare them to other members of their party who were running downballot. So The Fix looked at Angle, Buck, O'Donnell and two other faces of the tea party: New York governor candidate Carl Paladino and Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul. The five of them, it turns out, ran behind the vast majority of other Republican candidates -- and sometimes by wide margins. In almost every case, they ran behind more mainstream Republican candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state and other statewide offices. And in no case did the tea party candidate run significantly ahead of another statewide Republican candidate.

Dem Senators privately griping to Joe Scarborough about Obama?
Is it possible that some of the most powerful Dem Senators in the country are privately bitching to Joe Scarborough, of all people, about President Obama? No idea if it's true or not. But that's what Scarborough alleged on MSNBC this morning. Before you jump on me for quoting Scarborough on this, allow me to make a point about it. Scarborough, much to Republicans' delight, claimed that Dems in Washington have been "horrified by this president's handling of things for a year and a half now," adding that the "top Democrats in the United States Senate have all told me individually this guy has no idea what he's doing." Scarborough specifically claimed that "Democratic chairman in the Senate" -- among the most powerful Dems in Congress -- had complained privately to him that Obama had failed to adequately include Republicans in the governing process:

Would we be better off under a President Hillary Clinton?
Run, Hillary, run! ~Bob. Excerpt: Would unemployment have been lower under a President Hillary? Would the Democrats have lost fewer seats on Tuesday? It's impossible to know. But what can be said with confidence is that Clinton's toolkit is a better match for the current set of national woes than they were for 2008, when her support for the Iraq war dominated the campaign. Back then, Clinton's populist appeal to low-income white voters, union members and workers of the Rust Belt was not enough to overcome Obama's energized youth vote. But Clinton's working-class whites were the very ones who switched to the Republicans on Tuesday. Back in '08, Clinton's scars from HillaryCare were seen as a liability, proof that she was a product of the old ways of Washington. But now that Obama has himself succumbed to the partisanship, his talk of a "growth process" in office makes Clinton's experience in the trenches look like more of an asset.

Taxpayers' bill on Freddie, Fannie foreclosures: $2B
By “taxpayers” they now mean “Your Grandkids.” The rest is long spent. But remember when Democrats said Fannie & Freddie were sound, wouldn’t cost taxpayers a nickel, and that Republicans were being alarmist? ~Bob. Excerpt: Taxpayer-funded Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have spent more than $2 billion this year on foreclosed property expenses after acquiring tens of thousands of homes through foreclosures. The mortgage giants owned more than 240,000 foreclosed homes on Sept. 30, they reported last week. That's about 25% of all lender-owned homes in the U.S., according to RealtyTrac. Fannie and Freddie, which buy mortgages from lenders and package them into securities to sell to investors, own or guarantee half of all U.S. mortgages. Together, they have more than twice as many foreclosed homes now as they did this time last year, with a combined value of $24 billion. The U.S. Treasury has invested $148 billion in preferred stock in Fannie and Freddie — and received almost $17 billion in dividends — since taking them over two years ago. Their losses have narrowed, but further Treasury investments are expected. Excluding dividends, the government's cumulative cost could range from $142 billion to $259 billion by December 2013, estimates their regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The longer foreclosed homes stay on their books, the larger taxpayers' expenses will be. "Taxpayers are covering their losses. We are the ultimate deep pocket," says Lawrence White, a New York University economics professor.

America, the Rock; and U.S. Marines
Excerpt: As a Major assigned to work at the Pentagon, a “giant” expressed being a Marine better than anything I had heard it up until that time. Then Colonel (later Major General) Dennis Murphy characterized it as “owning a piece of the rock.” Owning a piece of the rock (America) is many things, events, places and people. Owning a piece of it is religious experience of sorts animated by young Marines who do the grinding hard work that keeps America free. Marines learn commitment and doing it right the first time better than anyone else on earth. Marines lead in military matters, science, industry, education, and even in government where they stand as a bulwark against shifting values in an increasingly valueless society…….The U.S. Marine Corps has the only credible forcible entry capability in the world, and everybody knows it. So, when some tin horned dictator gets too big for his britches or a threat arises to vital U.S. interests, a fleet of Navy ships moving in that direction with a U.S. Marine Battalion Landing Team aboard gives pause to most. So, if some brilliant analyst and/or politician gets the unsavory notion that there is money to be saved by eliminating or drastically cutting the Marine Corps, think again. If there wasn’t a U.S. Marine Corps, one would have to be invented; and as long as there is a U.S. Marine Corps there will be a United States of America!

Is Sen. Jim Webb Hinting at a Party Switch?
Excerpt: As you may recall, Webb was secretary of Navy under Reagan, but in 2006 ran as a Democrat against then-Sen George Allen, ultimately defeating him. Kuhn's interview may spark speculation that Webb is laying the groundwork for a future party switch. Webb voted for health care reform, but tells Kuhn: "I told him this was going to be a disaster," Webb recalls. "The president believed it was all going to work out." Kuhn goes on to note that Webb "identifies himself as a Democrat. But he has few Democratic leaders to identify with."

Student Tuition Fee Protests Turn Violent as Tory HQ Evacuated
Coming soon to California. ~Bob. Excerpt: After initially being ejected from the lobby of Millbank by police and security staff, the protestors smashed their way in through windows. Using sticks and chairs they destroyed CCTV cameras and broke windows from the inside of the office block. Employees had to be evacuated as masked youths rampaged through corridors and onto the roof. Dozens of police officers stationed outside the entrance were overwhelmed as the crowd of thousands pelted them with rocks and bottles. Reinforcements in riot gear were deployed in an effort to stem the damage but appeared unwilling to engage the troublemakers. The demonstration, organised by the National Union of Students, is thought to have attracted up to 50,000 people, in the biggest show of opposition to the Coalition Government. Students from towns and cities across the UK travelled to London in coaches to join lecturers, pensioners and medical trainees in voicing their opposition to the rise. Aaron Porter, president of the National Union of Students (NUS), said he was disappointed at the violence. He tweeted that he was "proud of the 50,000 students who have come to protest peacefully", adding "shame on those who are here to cause trouble".

Elizabeth Smart Reveals Moment Kidnapper Refused To Let Detective See Behind the Veil for 'Religious Reasons'
PC trumps saving a young girl. ~Bob. Excerpt: Elizabeth Smart, whose 2002 kidnapping captivated Americans, has told jurors how a Salt Lake City police detective tried to see behind her veil but backed down when the man accused of kidnapping her said her face was hidden for religious reasons. ‘I was mad at myself, that I didn’t say anything,’ she said on her second day of testimony in the federal trial of Brian David Mitchell. ‘I felt terrible that the detective hadn’t pushed harder and had just walked away.’ Smart, now 23, was 14 when she was taken at knifepoint in June 2002 while sleeping. Nine months later, motorists spotted her walking in a Salt Lake City suburb with Mitchell.

Massive Voting Fraud Reported in Massachusetts
Excerpt: While conservatives in most of the rest of the country woke up to a celebration last Wednesday, those of us marooned in Massachusetts found ourselves left high and dry by a red wave that didn’t have quite enough oomph to overcome the leftist machine our home state is so infamous for. In spite of a number of good candidates and a palpable level of Republican voter enthusiasm, most of the races weren’t even close. Many pundits have ascribed this surprising finish in large part to the effectiveness of the organized get out the vote effort that the Democrat establishment, along with their community organizer and union allies, were able to bring to bear. Even the best and most well-funded candidates versus the most scandal-ridden incumbents are hard-pressed to overcome the extra percentage points this structure is able to set into gear on election day. In general, this problem is a political one. As long as the requisite laws are obeyed, fair enough. We can debate the matter, try to bring a level of fairness to the system, and make an effort to expose the excesses while our side tries to do better next time. But what if existing laws and mores were, in fact, violated? That’s where what went on at the polls on Tuesday comes in. I have heard from multiple poll watchers who noted apparent or possible irregularities at the voting places they were stationed, and Neighbor to Neighbor Massachusetts takes center stage. (I didn’t see any of this in Shrewsbury, perhaps because I was about 150 feet away from the door of the polling place holding signs. We did hear of some of this from the Worcester polling places, but never believed it was this widespread. Ron P.)

Blaming voters for not getting the message:
"I think that, over the course of two years we were so busy and so focused on getting a bunch of stuff done that, we stopped paying attention to the fact that leadership isn't just legislation. That it's a matter of persuading people. And giving them confidence and bringing them together. And setting a tone. And making an argument that people can understand. And I think that we haven't always been successful at that. And I take personal responsibility for that. And it's something that I've got to examine closely as I go forward." --Barack Obama. Editor's Note: Obama gave 42 news conferences during his first year in office, which is twice as many as George W. Bush did in the same period. On top of that, he visited 58 cities in 30 states, held 21 town hall meetings and read 52 speeches off the teleprompter telling us the virtues of ObamaCare. The problem is not a failure to communicate -- the problem is that he did communicate. --The Patriot Post (I’d say the problem is WHAT he communicated. ~Bob.)

Ireland's crisis flares as investors dump bonds
Turmoil in Europe continues, as the PIIGS threaten to bring it down. Maybe California should apply for membership in the EU? ~Bob. Excerpt: Ireland's financial troubles loomed large Wednesday as investors - betting that the country soon could join Greece in seeking an EU bailout - drove the interest rate on the country's 10-year borrowing to a new high. The yield on 10-year bonds rose above 8 percent for the first time since the launch of the euro, the European Union's common currency, 11 years ago. The cost of funding Irish debt has risen steadily since September, when the government admitted its bailout efforts of five banks would cost at least euro45 billion, equivalent to euro10,000 for every man, woman and child in Ireland. That gargantuan bill, in turn, has made the projected 2010 deficit rise to 32 percent of GDP, the highest in post-war Europe. The yield, or interest rate, on 10-year Irish notes rose steadily from 7.94 percent to reach 8.18 percent by midmorning. As the value of bonds fall, buyers demand ever-higher yields as compensation. Bond traders increasingly believe that Ireland soon will be forced to tap Europe's emergency fund for euro-zone nations facing a threat of bankruptcy. The 16 nations of the euro zone created that euro750 billion backstop in May as the EU and International Monetary Fund provided an emergency euro110 billion loan to Greece. Another bailout would send more shock waves through the currency union, which has struggled to find ways to keep individual governments from overspending and threatening the currency's value.

U.S. Commander: U.S. Will Be Fighting in Afghanistan in 2014
Excerpt: U.S. Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, the commander of the NATO training mission in Afghanistan, indicated Tuesday that U.S. forces will still be fighting in Afghanistan in 2014. He said current plans aim to have "Afghan security forces in the lead" and U.S. forces in supporting roles by Dec. 31, 2014--more than four years from now. President Obama has said that U.S. forces will begin withdrawing from Afghanistan in July 2011. But Lt. Gen. Caldwell's statement today indicates that the drawdown will still be in progress three-and-a-half years after it begins.

The Arrogance of Health Reform
Excerpt: I’ve been through this three times. You’d think that someone would notice a pattern. Learn lessons. Avoid repeating dumb mistakes. Alas, it was not to be. First there was the Medicare Catastrophic Care Act of 1988. A drug benefit added to Medicare was passed one year and repealed the next. It was the first repeal of a major federal welfare program in 100 years. Grass-roots negative reaction was so intense that House Ways and Means Chairman, Dan Rostenkowski, was chased down the streets of Chicago by angry senior citizens. Then there was HillaryCare. After working for a year, the designers of this plan met ignoble defeat. There was never a hearing. Not even a vote. And now there is ObamaCare. In all these cases, politicians and special interests met behind closed doors to carve up huge chunks of the medical marketplace. They then emerged and announced their plan to push everyone around and tell them what to do in the most intimate and personal aspects of their lives. In all three cases, the voters replied “no.” The reaction of nonseniors to the latest reform is easy to understand. How many times did Barack Obama say, “If you like the health plan you are in, you can keep it”? Inside the Beltway, I’m sure no one bothered to count. They weren’t listening anyway. That’s because no one in Washington — whether Republican or Democrat, man or woman, old or young, tall or short, fat or thin — no one took this promise seriously from the get-go. But out in the Hinterland, people did take it seriously. And when it was obvious that the promise was not going to be kept and that no one who voted for ObamaCare could explain why the promise was not being kept, the negative reaction was palpable. Adding to the understandable fear and anxiety was a threat by McDonald’s to abolish health insurance for 30,000 employees and 3M’s announcement that it would end coverage for its retirees. Folks, this is only the beginning. Over the next two years, many more people will get hit with similar unpleasant surprises. In an earlier Health Alert, I predicted that this election would not go well for people who devised the Affordable Care Act (ACA). If this Rube Goldberg contraption is not opened up and seriously repaired, we will have another election in 2012 just like this one. As for seniors, this is all a no-brainer. For every $1 of benefits under the new bill, they will bear $10 of cost. As Joe Newhouse explained in Health Affairs, by the end of the decade their access to care will be worse than low-income families on Medicaid. (See the very excellent chart prepared by the Office of the Medicare Actuary.) Not only will seniors have to turn to community health centers and safety net hospitals for their care, they will be the least preferred patients in the waiting lines.

Muslim Hostiles Continue to Head for the Border
It’s not exactly news that wanna-be terrorists view America’s sieve-like southern border as a convenient door to their jihadist ambitions. The Mexican drug cartels already have a well established smuggling infrastructure and are happy to share for a price. One example from 2006 was the supposed illegal Mexican Miguel Alfonso Salinas, who turned out to be Ayman Sulmane Kamal, a Muslim from Egypt (Links between illegal immigration, terrorism, drug trade worry U.S officials). There are clearly many more like him who are vaguely categorized as OTMs (other than Mexicans) and SIAs (Special Interest Aliens) for the potentially nasty ones. Another example was the brief report last May of hundreds of Somali al-Shabaab members crossing the border into the US (Feds Issue Terror Watch for the Texas/Mexico Border). However, Washington doesn’t want us little citizens to worry over this obvious threat to national security, so the government honchos strenuously pretend open borders are not a problem to protecting the country. It’s nice that occasional reporters are curious about the issue…

Kevin Rubs It In
Excerpt: My Mom used to say, “When you’re blue, wear red.” America took that advice on Election Day, and you can color Kevin happy. My conservative brother celebrated by doing his year-end political letter early. Here is his tour d’horizon: As a semichastened Barack Obama appeared at the press conference following the election, he conjured up the image of the curtain opening in “The Wizard of Oz,” revealing a little old man working the controls, not the great and powerful Oz. The president had to wonder how this could happen in two short years. He must long for the days when the media routinely referred to him as “cerebral and brainy” (savvy was never mentioned) and salivated over “Michelle’s amazing arms.” The voters left no doubt about their feeling for his super-nanny state where the government controls all aspects of their lives and freedoms. Warning signs were up in the three elections held in Massachusetts, Virginia and New Jersey and with the noisy birth of the Tea Party. But the president, swathed in the protective cocoon of adulation and affirmation from the media and his own sycophants, soldiered on in his determination to turn our country into just another member of the failed European union — France without the food.

29 charged in bust of sex slave ring tied to 3 Minneapolis gangs
Excerpt: The teen, referred to as Jane Doe Three in the indictment, was one of the underage girls allegedly trafficked by three Somali gangs between the Twin Cities; Columbus, Ohio; and Nashville, Tenn. Twenty-nine people, including three women, were charged. (Gee, let’s bring in more of them. Create some competition in the sex slave trade. Of course, the Qur’an—Sura 4-24 among others—allows for forced sex with slave girls—“That which thy right hand possesses”—and is perfect and unchangeable. ~Bob. See:

Islam Channel breaks British broadcast rules, regulator says
Boy, to not let them promote rape and wife-beating undermines the beauty of multiculturalism and Muslims’ religious freedom. ~Bob. Excerpt: Britain's Islam Channel broke broadcasting regulations by condoning marital rape, encouraging violence against women, and promoting an anti-Israel, pro-Hamas line, the country's broadcast regulator Ofcom ruled Monday.

Saudi Man Gets Five-Year Prison Term, 500 Lashes for Gay Sex, Okaz Reports
No sweat. In the great PC Game, Muslim now trumps Gay, Female, Black and Hispanic, so there will be no outcry. But pay attention, as the rules change without warning. ~Bob.

Obama’s Clever Way to Punt the Tough Calls: Driving the Dollar Down
Excerpt: In his press conference on Monday, President Obama responded to critics of the Federal Reserve’s decision to start a new round of quantitative easing – a fancy term for printing money out of thin air. He claimed this move would drive up U.S. growth rates. He also warned that “the worst thing that could happen to the world economy, not just ours but the entire world’s economy is if we end up being stuck with no growth or very limited growth.” The latter is certainly true. It would be a global disaster if the U.S. economy remained permanently stuck in the mud. But the same cannot be said of his claim that the Fed’s experiment in pump priming would automatically lead to increased economic growth. By the time this experiment is over, QE will make us queasy. Will driving the dollar down in this way do anything to boost U.S. exports? The short answer is not really. A weaker dollar will temporarily boost exports by making our goods cheaper to sell; but inevitably other countries will respond in kind, triggering the kind of currency wars economists are warning us about. It’s precisely to prevent this scenario that World Bank President Robert Zoellick recently came out in favor of some new type of gold standard or “international reference point.” Will QE2 then at least boost domestic investment? No, again. As I explained in my speech in Phoenix, the reason banks aren’t lending and businesses aren’t investing isn’t because of insufficient access to credit. There’s plenty of money around, it’s just that no one’s willing to spend it. Big businesses especially have been hoarding cash. They’re not expanding or adding to their workforce because there’s just too much uncertainty created by a lot of big government experiments that aren’t working. It’s the President’s own policies that are creating this uncertainty.

Senate GOP should filibuster if Kirk is delayed
Democrats—thwarting the will of the people since 1932. ~Bob. Excerpt: Senator-elect Mark Kirk, R-Ill., is one of three senators elected Nov. 2 to fill seats vacated by individuals who joined the Obama administration. Illinois law requires that Kirk assume his office immediately following the election, but unnamed state officials say Kirk can't be sworn in until Nov. 29 due to "paperwork" delays. Kirk, who replaces Democratic appointee Roland Burris, won his election after promising to be a Republican vote against any attempts by Democrats to pass radical legislation during the lame duck session of Congress. The lame duck session that opens Nov. 15 gives shellacked Democrats two final weeks to pass legislation they failed to approve before the election. Burris will still sit with Senate Democrats if Kirk is not sworn in until Nov. 29. The seeming inability of unnamed Illinois officials to complete "paperwork" as required by law in a timely manner contrasts mightily with West Virginia and Delaware, where no such delays will delay seating Joe Manchin and Chris Coons, respectively, who will take office on the first day of the lame duck session. That both are Democrats replacing Democrats and thus won't change the Senate's partisan balance of power is probably not coincidental. Let's not forget, either, that the Democratic political machine holding up Kirk's appointment may be the most corrupt since Tammany Hall. Kirk defeated Democrat Alexi Giannoulias, the Illinois state treasurer best known for running his family bank into the ground while making multiple loans to people linked to the mob. And don't forget that Burris was appointed to the Senate seat formerly occupied by President Obama by impeached former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. He was subsequently tried by the feds for attempting to sell the appointment to the highest bidder. Fortunately, there is a simple remedy that can ensure that corrupt party bosses on Chicago's South Side aren't able to flout the law and the electorate by delaying Kirk's swearing-in.

Democrats' new agenda: Losing in 2012
Excerpt: A week past the midterms, the good news gets better, so far as the GOP is concerned…. Obama, Reid, and Pelosi together again, all of them bursting with warmth, common sense and their magic rapport with middle America. As someone said once, 'Bring it on!' The Tea Party worked out, on balance, and at least in contrast to what might have been. It did not, as predicted, embarrass its allies. It countered the baseless charges of nativism et al. by fielding a rich crop of star and diversity candidates, including two blacks for Congress, two Hispanics for governor, one Hispanic for senator (and possibly president), one Indian-American for governor to go with the GOP's other Indian governor, from yet another deep Southern state. True, it coughed up a couple of clunkers, but these were mercifully vetoed by voters before they could became large-scale, ongoing embarrassments. These cost the GOP its chance for control of the Senate, but this too can be a good thing.

Fiscal commission releases report with spending cuts and tax reforms
No one can win or keep public office promising to do what is needed, because the problem has been kicked down the road so often, and so many votes bought with money not there, that fixing it involves more pain than voters will accept. So there will be worse, unavoidable pain down the road. ~Bob. Excerpt: A preliminary report released by President Obama's fiscal commission on Wednesday proposed spending cuts, tax reform and dramatic changes to Social Security. The report, approved by the panel's co-chairmen, former Clinton Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles and former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.), proposes capping discretionary spending, instituting tax rate reductions while broadening the tax base, gradually raising the retirement age from 65 to 67 and reducing Social Security benefits for most future retirees.

Pakistan criticizes US support for Indian UN seat
No surprise here. Pakistan would prefer Israel got a seat before India. Hey, there’s an idea….~Bob. Excerpt: Pakistan's government criticized American support for India's attempts to get a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council, saying Wednesday it was "incomprehensible" given New Delhi's policies toward the disputed Kashmir region. Pakistan and India are regional rivals who have fought three wars since 1947, two over Kashmir. Relations between the two nuclear-armed nations continue to be marked by distrust. Neither likes anything that increases the standing and power of the other. President Barack Obama said Monday that America would support Security Council reforms that would include a permanent seat for India. He made the remarks at the end of a three-day visit to India that confirmed its status as a rising global power - a sharp contrast to Pakistan's reputation as an unstable, militancy-wracked nation. Pakistan's government expressed "strong disappointment" at Obama's support in a statement released after a Cabinet meeting.

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