A couple of weeks ago the International Relations and Security Network issued an analysis suggesting that in the case of an attack on Iran’s nuclear program, the Islamic Republic might respond through proxy militias targeting the Persian Gulf island nation of Bahrain, where the US 5th Fleet is stationed. But the Bahrainis themselves seem to have the opposite fear: that Bahrain is likely to find itself in the crosshairs if Iran succeeds in building nuclear weapons, as Ben Birnbaum reports:
Bahrain’s ambassador to the United States told The Washington Times that she fears her country - home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet - could become the first casualty of a nuclear-armed Iran.
“Iran has had claims in the past on Bahrain,” Ambassador Houda Nonoo said in an interview. “The latest was on their 30th anniversary in February 2009, where they mentioned Bahrain as the 14th province. Very similar to [Saddam Hussein’s] Iraq mentioning Kuwait as their 19th province.”
“We’re a small country, we’re just across the pond,” she said, noting that the island nation is “just 26 miles away from Bushehr,” the Iranian port city that hosts one of the nuclear program’s key installations. “If Iran has [a nuclear] capability, nobody is going to be able to stop them.”
Nonoo doesn’t quite say that Bahrain would prefer a military strike on Iran to Iran going nuclear, but she doesn’t say the opposite either — “That’s the million-dollar question,” she says. The experts Birnbaum talked to agree that the Bahraini government would be happy to see Iranian nuclear facilities pulverized, even given the risk. And Nonoo does say she’s skeptical that US/UN/EU sanctions can succeed in halting Iran’s progress: “The sanctions never had a chance of working because they’ve placed so many sanctions before, and they’ve never worked. Why was this one going to be any different?”
…on this pitch:
Might as well reference the gold standard of politicians throwing first pitches:
This morning the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the monthly jobs numbers. The news is all bad.
Payroll employment decreased by 95,000, leaving the unemployment rate unchanged at 9.6 percent. The private sector’s gain of 64,000 was wiped out by the loss of 159,000 government jobs, 77,000 of which were temporary Census jobs.
Make no mistake, those are terrible numbers.
In general, bad news on employment hurts the administration and the Democrats politically. But today’s numbers won’t shape the political landscape one way or another, as close as it is to the election. There was almost no jobs report imaginable that could have made people think better of the incumbents’ economic stewardship.
The administration’s spin is that this is the ninth month in a row that the private sector has added jobs. True, that is an indication that the economy is improving. But when 15 million workers are out of a job, the underemployment rate increases (to 17.1 percent from 16.7), and the unemployment rate has been above 9.5 percent for the longest period since the Great Depression, it’s futile to argue that the private sector is growing robustly.
Similarly, the liberal, pro-government spending interpretation of the report is that the problem is Republican opposition to fiscal aid to the states, which are shedding government jobs. There’s truth to this, but remember that states could simply cut employees’ wages instead of firing them. Also, the state employee job losses are insignificant relative to the private sector job growth that would represent real recovery, that is, hundreds of thousands of jobs per month. But at least we no longer have to suffer claims that fiscal stimulus will “prime the pump” or “kick-start the economy.”
The Massachusetts state government decided to spend $2.6 million to build a bridge to connect two halves of a horse reservation. It actually ended up spending $4.6 million. It is used by about 50 horses and the people who ride them.
That means it took the entire income of 70.4 median households to pay for the bridge. At 2.51 people per household, that’s 176 people’s entire earnings.
Projects like this are one reason why Massachusetts is looking at a $2.7 billion budget deficit next year.
The New York Times and other media outlets are breathelessly reporting a “record” of more than 390,0000 deportations of illegal immigrants from the United States under President Obama and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. But what they aren’t reporting is the other side of the story: while deportations of criminals under the Secure Communities program, begun under Bush, are up 81,000, deportations of non-criminal aliens are down 58,000.
“Once the pipeline opened under the Bush administration has been emptied, removal of illegal aliens who are not violent criminals will be reduced to a trickle,”Dan Stein of the Federation of American Immigration Reform (FAIR) said in a statement. “Resources appropriated by Congress intended to carry out worksite and other enforcement in the interior of the country are being used for meaningless paperwork audits, rather than serious enforcement against employers and the removal of illegal aliens from jobs that are desperately needed by American workers.”
According to DHS data, administrative arrests have decreased by 77 percent, criminal arrests have fallen by 60 percent, indictments are down 64 percent, and convictions have declined by 68 percent since 2008. The removal of illegal immigrants who commit violent crimes is important and obviously ought to be the highest DHS enforcement priority. But to make a dent in the illegal population and deal with the other problems created by illegal immigration, you need to have enforcement that targets more than illegal alien criminals already in state or local custody. Otherwise, you have window dressing on top of a policy of non-enforcement.
Many people do not realize Joe Sobran influenced Ann Coulter’s writing. Coulter pays tributes to him in her latest column.
Todd Purdum has published a lengthy article in Vanity Fair arguing that not only is John McCain now untrustworthy, bitter, erratic, and angry, but that he always has been. This is the price McCain pays for running for president — now he gets special attention as a senator. And being a senator involves a certain amount of flip-flopping and politicking.
I don’t think that Purdum brings too much new evidence for the case that McCain is more loathsome than the average D.C. player. But one of his passages was thought-provoking:
At one point last summer, J. D. Hayworth said the country was better off with Obama as president than it would have been with an unreliably conservative McCain. McCain took great umbrage, but it’s an interesting thought experiment to imagine what the first two years of a McCain-Palin partnership in the White House might have produced. There would probably have been no stimulus bill, and the country’s economic condition would be no better (and probably worse). General Motors and Chrysler would have been allowed to go bankrupt rather than helped to emerge into a state of healthiness, as they may well be doing. There would have been no significant new regulation of the financial industry. The Bush tax cuts for those Americans with the highest incomes-something McCain had opposed before reversing himself-would have been extended. There would have been only modest health-insurance reform, at best-McCain’s proposals were Republican boilerplate and meant for use in the campaign, never a serious program. Perhaps there would have been greater progress on immigration, though McCain had already abandoned that issue, and it’s easier to imagine his taking the more nativist stance he has since adopted. There would be no Supreme Court justices Kagan and Sotomayor, but there would likely be two more conservative justices, and the days of Roe v. Wade would be numbered.
Would we be in a worse situation now if McCain had been elected? Let’s take these one by one.Continue reading…
Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo has won the Nobel Peace Prize. The Washington Post reports that Liu is currently in jail for helping publish the “Charter 08,” which demanded, among other things, “a judiciary not controlled by the Communist Party, meaningful elections and the freedoms of association, assembly, expression and religion.”
Apparently Liu has never been afraid to put everything on the line:
In 1989, he left a cushy post as a visiting scholar at Columbia University to return to China to participate in demonstrations in Tiananmen Square.
On the night of June 3, 1989, he was one of four dissidents who negotiated with the People’s Liberation Army to allow the last several hundred students to peacefully vacate the square. After the crackdown he spent two years in jail.
Liu was dispatched to a re-education camp in 1996 for co-writing an open letter that demanded the impeachment of then-president Jiang Zemin.
From then until his arrest in December, 2008, two days before the charter was released, Liu lived a life of constant harassment by the security services. He was repeatedly questioned because of his views or his essays, which were passed around the Internet by thousands of his readers.
Here is Liu’s wikipedia entry, which is growing right now.
It hardly needs to be said…Liu’s going to have a hard time following in the footsteps of last year’s winner.
A federal judge has ruled that it is constitutional to force individuals to purchase health insurance, a central pillar of ObamaCare. To be clear, the decision was in response to a suit brought by the Thomas More Law Center, which is separate from the two larger suits brought by dozens of states.
U.S. District Court Judge George Steeh of the Eastern District of Michigan, a Bill Clinton appointee, argued that the federal government does indeed have the power under the Commerce Clause to impose the individual mandate to purchase health insurance.
Citing the Roosevelt-era case that extended the Commerce Clause to regulate a farmer growing wheat for his home consumption, as well as the more recent ruling against home-grown medical marijuana, Steeh argued that all the government needs to do is prove that it has a rational basis to conclude that taken in aggregate, the regulated activity affects commerce. He ruled that in this case, “the costs of caring for the uninsured who prove unable to pay are shifted to health care providers, to the insured population in the form of higher premiums, to governments, and to taxpayers. The decision whether to purchase insurance or to attempt to pay for health care out of pocket, is plainly economic. These decisions, viewed in the aggregate, have clear and direct impacts on health care providers, taxpayers, and the insured population who ultimately pay for the care provided to those who go without insurance. These are the economic effects addressed by Congress in enacting the Act and the minimum coverage provision.”
Even though ObamaCare is a novel application of the Commerce Clause because it regulates the act of not engaging in economic activity, the judge concluded that in reality the Commerce Clause power extends to all economic decisions that affect commerce. He also argued that a person can not garuntee that he or she will opt out of the health care market.
In addition, the judge ruled that the individual mandate is essential to a “broader regulatory scheme” because it’s connected to the regulation forcing insurers to cover those with pre-existing conditions.
While this decision will likely generate a lot of discussion because it’s the first ruling on the merits of the constitutional challenges to ObamaCare, opponents of the law may have a lot better chance of prevailing in the two other major suits, one brought by Virginia and the other one led by Florida and involving 20 states.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez admitted last week that his government is “carrying out the first studies” of a nuclear program. He attempted to portray it as an innocuous program designed solely for peaceful purposes.
On Sept. 21, I held a briefing for journalists and regional experts where I revealed for the first time information about Chavez’s nuclear program and his troubling and substantial collaboration with Iran. This research — conducted during the past 12 months by a team of experts who analyzed sensitive material obtained from sources within the Venezuelan regime — paints a far darker picture of Chavez’s intentions.
Chávez has been developing the program for two years with the collaboration of Iran, a nuclear rogue state. In addition to showing the two states’ cooperation on nuclear research, these documents suggest that Venezuela is helping Iran obtain uranium and evade international sanctions, all steps that are apparent violations of the U.N. Security Council resolutions meant to forestall Iran’s illegal nuclear weapons program.
Last month Noriega noted that two US citizens were indicted on charges of attempting to sell the Chavez government on building a bomb of its own. And here’s more from Noriega on whether or not the Venezuelan opposition will be able to force Chavez to trim his sails.
Today’s Hill article on a Tax Foundation study of the effects of the expiration of the Bush tax cuts caused a stir after Republicans spread it far and wide because of its headline — “Study: Expiration of Bush tax cuts will hit poorest hardest.”
It’s a great line for GOP rhetorical purposes, but it obscures the value of the report. It’s not big news that raising taxes right now would be bad for the poor — if one believes that raising taxes in a recession will hurt the economy, it should follow that raising taxes will especially hurt the poor. Anything bad will have an outsized effect on the poor. One recent example that drew a lot of commentary: the recession has led to far worse unemployment and underemployment among the poor than among higher income earners. And the disproportionate impact on the poor is invoked to support almost every policy issue — erratic weather caused by climate change will plague the poor most, a lack of health insurance affects the poor most, etc.
At some point, people are going to realize that to be poor is to lack security from all these bad outcomes.
So it’s not news that growth-killing tax hikes will hurt poor people. What is news (or what I think would be news to most people) in the Tax Foundation study is that the Bush tax cuts included a number of designed measures to aid poorer workers, most of which fixed small problems in the tax code, but ended up being significant in the aggregate. From the report:
While many people view the Bush tax cuts as targeted towards the wealthy, taxpayers across the entire income spectrum received a significant tax cut. It’s certainly true that wealthier taxpayers received a bigger cut as measured in dollars because they were paying higher taxes to begin with. However, a better measure of tax cuts is the percentage change in after-tax income, which reflects tangible lifestyle benefits and is intuitively understood.
Comparing changes in after-tax income shows that the benefits of the tax cuts were distributed much more equally along the income spectrum because the Bush tax cuts included a number of provisions targeted specifically at low-income people.
The report goes into some detail about what those provisions are, specifically.
Townhall’s Guy Benson spoke to former UN Ambassador John Bolton about a potential 2012 presidential bid. Among other things, Bolton doesn’t think a mustache would doom a candidate. “I think the American people would say it’s a complete non-issue,” he said.
The massive economic stimulus package President Obama pushed through Congress last year is coming in on time and under budget - and with strikingly few claims of fraud or abuse - according to a White House report….
Coming barely a month before November’s midterm elections, which will determine whether Democrats retain control of Congress, the report challenges public perceptions of the stimulus aid as slow-moving and wasteful - an image that has fueled voter anger with the dominant party. Even some former skeptics who predicted that the money would lead to rampant abuse now acknowledge that the program could serve as a model for improving efficiency in government.
By the end of September, the administration had spent 70 percent of the act’s original $787 billion, which met a White House goal of quickly pumping money into the nation’s ravaged economy, the report says. The administration also met nearly a dozen deadlines set by Congress for getting money out the door.
Today, from Associated Press:
A government investigator says 89,000 stimulus payments of $250 each went to people who were either dead or in prison. The Social Security Administration’s inspector general said in a report Thursday that $18 million went to 72,000 people who were dead.
The report estimates that a little more than half the payments were returned. The report said $4.3 million went to a little more than 17,000 prison inmates.
The payments were part of the government’s massive economic recovery package enacted in February 2009. Under the law, the $250 payments were sent to about 52 million Social Security recipients and federal retirees.
Guess they got that money “out the door” a little too fast.
From the left, Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake — very liberal, but very very smart; my favorite liberal blogger — explains 10 reasons Dems may not be doomed. And at The American Thinker and also at Red State, Ed Lasky and “LaborUnionReport” respectively echo and further develop my theme from this morning about the coming wave of attempted vote fraud. And at Pajamas Media, the indispensable J. Christian Adams updates us on the ongoing disenfranchisement of military voters. Finally, the AP reports on the coming wave of legal battles that could block official results long apst Election Day. Uh…. and guess who will have an edge in those battles? The folks who run the Justice Department. Scary, huh? The good news for conservatives is that, according to AP, the RNC really is lawyering up, as well it should. This could get very, very ugly. And it could provide exactly the sort of crisis that Barack Obama and fellow Alinskyites like to create, because in a crisis, he figures he can seize more power by claiming to be restoring order.
The only way to inoculate the body politic against all this is for conservatives to win elections by big margins, not small ones. Otherwise, a discouraging spectacle of crisis politics might commence.
The federal deficit reached nearly $1.3 trillion in fiscal year 2010, according to an estimate the Congressional Budget Office released Thursday afternoon.
The shortfall for the fiscal year ended Sept. 30 was $125 billon smaller than a year ago, making it the second highest ever recorded since World War II (2009 being the highest).
Despite the extrardinary deficit, it was actually $50 billion lower than the CBO had forecast in August, due to higher than expected tax revenue, and lower outlays for TARP, Fannie and Freddie, and federal deposit insurance. Other spending actually rose by 9 percent in 2010.
More details here.
Read all about it here.
Short version: New letters from US Commission on Civil Rights throw down gauntlet to Eric Holder, and (without saying so) raise the specter of perjury by DoJ official Thomas Perez.
In a stunning display of Liberal Media brazenness, Media Matters, the left-wing media organization ginned up by George Soros and currently keeping its donors a secret, has attacked the ethics of both Fox News and Sean Hannity for Hannity’s campaign contributions to a childhood friend.
All this without acknowledging that David Brock, the CEO of Media Matters, has made repeated campaign contributions to liberal candidates including: Joe Sestak, the Pennsylvania Democrat running for the U.S. Senate; Al Franken, elected in 2008 as the Democrat Senator from Minnesota; and the presidential campaign of Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The revelation came to light as Media Matters accused Fox News of having a “continuing ethics problem.” This so-called “problem” is supposedly symbolized by Hannity’s arranging a Newt Gingrich fundraiser for John Gomez, a Long Island GOP congressional candidate who is also a childhood friend of Hannity’s. Both Hannity and his wife have made financial contributions to the Gomez campaign.
Having now raised the question of whether contributions from a Fox media figure (Hannity, it should be noted, is a commentator, not a news anchor) are unethical, the media figures running Media Matters have fallen silent when it comes both to their own shadowy donors and the campaign contributions of Brock, listed at Media Matters as the news media institution’s CEO. Who funds Media Matters? Billionaires? MSNBC anchors? New York Times anchors? The now-exposed clique of liberal journalists exposed in the “Journolist” scandal? That, as the childhood taunt went, is for Media Matters to know and the rest of us not to find out. So much for transparency.
In another troubling turn of events for Media Matters, Hannity’s fellow talk radio star Mark Levin, who is also the head of the Landmark Legal Foundation, has raised the question as to whether Media Matters is acting not simply unethically but criminally.
Media Matters is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt non-profit organization. As a matter of law, it must not use its funds in any political manner. Yet, if you examine the Media Matters website, the only causes it promotes are whatever Obama and the Democrats are promoting. It is a propaganda outlet for the Democrats. That’s the sole purpose. And it attacks any person on TV and radio who disagrees with Obama and the Democrats. It is not advocating a particular principle, say, free speech. Media Matters’ entire existence is political. And I’m confident it works closely with Democrat organizations, PACs, and officials.
So, while it attempts to intimidate and silence others, Media Matters uses tax exempt funds to promote Obama and the Democrats, and it uses the Internal Revenue Code to conceal the identity of its donors.
Levin goes on to accuse Media Matters of using “tax exempt funds to promote Obama and the Democrats” while using “the Internal Revenue Code to conceal the identity of its donors.” He calls for transparency saying:
The IRS needs to audit them to determine the extent of its evasions. It’s unlawful to use tax exempt funds for political purposes and this outfit needs to be flushed out of the shadows, exposed for what it is, and subjected to all fines and penalties associated with deceiving the IRS.
The problem here is obvious.
Neither Fox News nor Sean Hannity have any ethics problem, let alone a “continuing ethics problem.”
Media Matters, on the other hand, which refuses to bring its wealthy donors out of the shadows and into the sunlight — has awkwardly turned the spotlight on a genuine ethics problem of its own. A supposed non-profit that may be, in Levin’s words, actively “deceiving the IRS” has unethically criticized Hannity for behavior which its own CEO, Brock, has routinely engaged in himself.
Double-standard? Hypocrisy? At Media Matters?
Now there’s a media matter to discuss.
Eager to prevent an embarrassing loss of his old Senate seat, President Obama is heading to Chicago Thursday for two fundraisers on behalf of Democratic Senate nominee Alexi Giannoulias, and CNN has learned Obama will be returning home yet again in the final days of the midterm election to try and help Giannoulias win a race that could determine who controls the chamber next year.
Two senior Democratic officials told CNN to expect Obama to return to Illinois at least one more time in the final few weeks of the campaign in order to go to bat for Giannoulias, who is locked in a virtual dead heat with Republican nominee Mark Kirk.
Kirk has a statistically insignificant 1.2% edge in an average of the polls compiled by Real Clear Politics.
Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that McDonald’s may be forced to drop health coverage for nearly 30,000 employees as a result of ObamaCare. Today, the New York Times reports that McDonald’s, as well as dozens of other companies, will be granted waivers to get around the onerous new requirements imposed by the new law. At issue in the case of McDonald’s was something called the medical loss ratio, which says that insurers have to spend at least 85 cents out of every dollar they collect in premiums, on paying out claims. The problem is, that it’s difficult to achieve such a ratio for lower benefit plans, or if you’re a smaller insurer — in both cases, there’s a certain bare minimum administrative costs that you’re going to need.
Yet by granting waivers to avert PR nightmares, like the news of McDonald’s dropping coverage, it also adds another disturbing element to the ObamaCare regime. Those companies with the best access and lobbyists are in the best position to be granted a waiver. Bureaucrats can choose to apply a different set of rules to different businesses, and in some cases those rules can determine whether a given business survives. Thus, the waivers themselves are another example of the arbitrary nature of government power.
If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck… well… the chances are excellent you are looking at a duck.
Or a liberal.
By now the news that CNN anchor Rick Sanchez was briskly fired by CNN for calling the liberal champion Jon Stewart a “bigot” because of various Stewart mockings is old news. Right?
Not so fast.
As noted here the other day, the news reports that CNN had quickly fired Sanchez for calling Stewart a bigot contrasted sharply with the CNN response after Sanchez had aired a 100% bogus report that Rush Limbaugh had once spoken out in favor of slavery. The Limbaugh episode arose when Rush was part of a deal to buy an interest in the NFL St. Louis Rams. Because of flat-out untruths such as the one uttered by Sanchez on CNN, the deal fell through. Under legal pressure, Sanchez retracted on-air. But the damage to Rush Limbaugh — real-time, serious damage to a personal business deal — was done.
Now comes a small, but telling detail that illuminates the real behind-the-scenes relationship of those in the mainstream media with their fellow liberals.
The New York Post reported yesterday that… get this… Rick Sanchez’s wife Suzanne… his wife… has manned up to go on the Sanchez Facebook page to say… what? Here’s the first line of the Post story:
Embarrassed Rick Sanchez is wisely letting his wife do the talking for him.
And what talking might that be? Well, it appears that while there is a nod to reports Sanchez harbored some anti-Semitic feelings, and his wife apologizes for that to “anyone who was offended by his unintended comments” — there was another, much more specific apology made by the ex-CNN anchor.
That’s right. You guessed it. Let’s quote directly from Mrs. Sanchez as reported by the New York Post:
“Rick apologized to Jon Stewart (on Monday.) They had a good talk. Jon was gracious and called Rick ‘thin-skinned.’ He’s right. Rick feels horrible that in an effort to make a broader point about the media, his exhaustion from working 14 (hour) days for 2 (months) straight, caused him to mangle his thought process inartfully.”
Are we getting this? Of course we are.
Jon Stewart is the quarterback of Team Liberal when it comes to television entertainment. Rick Sanchez was a block-and-tackle liberal for Team Liberal, CNN News Division. In his “inartful” moment Sanchez mistakenly sacked Stewart, his liberal media teammate, with the bigot comment.
What would any sensible teammate do if he had just screwed up in such a fashion by sacking his own teammate? Why apologize, of course! And in this very revealing little flash of a media story, the curtain is pulled back just long enough for the rest of us to know that’s exactly what Sanchez did. He called up Jon Stewart and apologized. Stewart graciously accepted.
Why would he not? Sanchez is a teammate. They both spend their time before the cameras wearing the jersey with the big “L” on it. Although Jon Stewart does so unashamedly, Sanchez — and more importantly CNN — has to see if they can do this while still insisting they are about just-the-facts-ma’am straight news.
But what about an apology from Sanchez to Rush Limbaugh back when CNN was airing Sanchez’s flat-out untruth about Rush supporting slavery? We’re not talking here about any legally-induced on-air retraction. We’re talking about the simple, respectful gesture like the one Rick Sanchez made to Jon Stewart. A personal phone-call. An e-mail, even. A snail mail. Did any of these take place?
Let’s remember that Jon Stewart lost not a thing in this dust-up. He didn’t lose his show because Sanchez contributed to some stark, untruth that helped fuel an anti-Jon Stewart jihad. Nor did Stewart lose out on a business deal that meant something to him because of Rick Sanchez. On the contrary, Sanchez did add fuel to the bonfire that eventually burned Rush’s opportunity to be an owner of an NFL team — a chance that for any serious football fan is a dream come true.
Did Sanchez pick up the phone somewhere along the line and say what any person who had made such a serious mistake would say? Did he call Rush? Did he e-mail him? Snail mail? Did he have his wife go to Facebook to inform the world that he had made a terrible mistake, that he had called Rush to apologize — and maybe even offered to call the NFL Commissioner personally to correct the record?
Of course not. Is there anyone who thinks Rush — at this point in his life — expected to be treated any differently?
This small, seemingly insignificant incident of the Sanchez apology-call to Jon Stewart casts a spotlight yet again on what millions of Americans know to be the reality of the so-called mainstream media today.
Remember what Mrs. Sanchez said her husband was really trying to do? She said he was engaged “in an effort to make a broader point about the media.”
Not to worry, Mrs. Sanchez. By calling Jon Stewart and stiffing Rush Limbaugh, Rick Sanchez has indeed made his “broader point about the media.”
Which is exactly why Rush Limbaugh has an audience of twenty million people, Rick Sanchez is out of a job — and CNN has no audience.
Josh Rogin of Foreign Policy reports:
The United States may be the largest donor of foreign assistance in the world, but it ranks among the lowest in terms of the quality and effectiveness of its aid, according to a new report.
The Center for Global Development (CGD), in cooperation with the Brookings Institution, released its “Quality of ODA Assessment” report Tuesday, which assesses the aid provided to 23 countries by more than 150 aid countries to determine how much value they are getting for their foreign aid money…
The study looked at 30 separate, measurable indicators and evaluated them in terms of four dimensions: maximizing efficiency (how smartly the money is distributed), fostering institutions (whether the money is helping host governments), reducing the burden on recipient countries (how much the host countries need to do to get the money), and transparency and learning (how much we know about how the aid is being spent).
You can use this interactive page to compare various aid countries’ scores along those four dimensions; the US is below average on all of them.
There’s a lot not to like in Dinesh D’Souza’s National Review interview, in which he defends his new book and Forbes piece which both make the case that Barack Obama is motivated by some kind of secret anti-colonialist ideology. Among a number of other statements that, I’m sorry to say, verged on conspiracy theory, this remark stood out:
D’SOUZA: Ramesh Ponnuru and others say Obama is a conventional liberal. But conventional liberals don’t come out for the release of the Lockerbie bomber. Conventional liberals don’t return the bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office. Conventional liberals don’t block oil drilling in America while subsidizing oil drilling in Brazil. Conventional liberals don’t try to turn the space agency NASA into a Muslim-outreach program.
My anti-colonial theory beautifully explains all these facts…. plug in the anti-colonial theory and you can explain the facts; remove it and Obama’s behavior becomes almost impossibly difficult to account for.
There are two problems here. The first is that this line of reasoning is fallacious at a very basic level. You would hope that a reasonable person would come to that realization before using such logic as the basis for a book.
The other is that each of the “facts” D’Souza finds so troubling and bewildering — most of which are not real facts — are not related to the real-life bad things that Obama is doing. It’s worrying that someone as influential as Newt Gingrich would invoke D’Souza’s thesis as his basis for opposing Obama when Obama is promoting so many disastrous policies, none of which you need to dig through his background to find out. There really is no need to profile Obama’s mentality or motivation to know that he has a lot of bad ideas.
And if you really wanted to know about Obama’s background, the place to start would not be an apocalyptic reading of inconsequential and half-true stories from his presidency or poignant memories of his youth taken from his autobiographies — that way lies madness. Instead it would be a review of his personal history and career as a politician. As far as I know, there is only one such non-fawning book, and it is The Case Against Barack Obama by David Freddoso. It’s now ancient history, but with D’Souza’s new book it’s worth revisiting an interview I did with Freddoso when his book came out:Continue reading…
Well 10:10.org apparently is not only embarrassed about their bloody schoolroom splatter flick, but also by the first “apology” they issued for it, as it’s been removed from their Website. “Oh well, live and learn” has been replaced by something a little more serious (which was posted on Monday — for a while both “apologies” were online simultaneously).
The first “sorry” certainly had an “Age of Stupid” tone about it, which is the title of high-flying Franny Armstrong’s aviation-causes-global-warming crockumentary from last year. 10:10’s Franny helped make the Splattergate video as well, which she was extremely giddy about as Friday’s release date approached. Among the comments from her Twitter account leading up to the debut:
And on September 29 Franny hosted a contest on Facebook and Twitter that promised a copy of “Age of Stupid” to the first person who could “guess what’s going on in this pic.” Franny’s answer: “We’re just finishing editing 10:10’s Richard Curtis-written mini movie, ‘No Pressure,’ and we needed some sounds of blood and gore splattering on the floor after the children/footballers/celebrities blow up.”
Ironically, a month ago Franny was promoting this video in which art dealer Fred Mulder gives 10 reasons why people should financially support 10:10. Reason #3: “Everyone who gives money to 10:10 gets an incredible bang for their buck.”
I’m sure Sony and Kyocera agree.
Here in Massachusetts, I keep seeing these television commercials saying that Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker plans to outsource jobs. In fact, he has even signed a pledge to support tax breaks for outsourcing jobs. When I squint and look down at the fine print, they name a source for this claim: Americans for Tax Reform.
This is an awfully misleading representation of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. Those who take the pledge promise to oppose the elimination of any tax breaks unless they are compensated for by offsetting reductions in marginal tax rates. In other words, Baker is pledging not to raise taxes rather than pledging to ship your job to India.
At the Washington Times, we note an aspect of last week’s Colbert brouhaha that has not gotten anywhere near the attention it deserves. The same congresswoman who invited Colbert is the one who, as chairman of the Ethics Committee, refuses to hold an ethics trial for Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters.
Oh, yes, ethics… Where is the establishment media in demanding that these trials go forward? Seems they were beside themselves when Tom DeLay, Duke Cunningham, and other GOPers were accused. But, after a few perfunctory tut-tuts about Rangel and Waters, they have all gone silent over the decision to sweep these matters under the rug. Wrote the Times:
[A]ll five Republicans on the ethics committee joined a statement by ranking Republican Jo Bonner of Alabama that blasted Ms. Lofgren’s inaction…. “After months of trial preparation,” they wrote, “Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren should have already issued notices of public trial schedules.”….Ms. Lofgren remains unmoved. Her standards are nothing if not bizarre. In the Colbert matter, even the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, radical Detroit Rep. John Conyers Jr., asked her not to let the comedian testify live, but she - as chairman of the relevant subcommittee - insisted….The thumbs up to Mr. Colbert’s comedic routine and thumbs down to serious ethical charges show, beyond a doubt, that ethics really are a joke in Mrs. Pelosi’s Democratic Congress.
If you were reading the National Review — which had a soft spot for Mitt — I can see why you would have that impression, but the reality is a lot more complicated.
For starters, there were a lot of conservatives who did raise issues about his health care plan, and we published a lot of them here at the Spectator. I was a frequent critic of both Romney and his health care plan, as was Dave Hogberg, who devoted a column to the issue in 2007 called “Mitt’s Biggest Flop.” The Club for Growth, in its evaluation of Romney’s record during the primaries, blasted RomneyCare, writing, “Commonwealth Care is a far cry from free-market healthcare. Besides the individual and employer mandates, the program expands Medicaid, does not deregulate enough, and will likely cost more than the current system…”
That said, I will agree with Chait that the Massachusetts health care plan did not hurt Romney as much as it should have, and there are a number of reasons why. For one thing, despite the impression given by Chait, Romney didn’t run on his health care plan. He spent much of the primaries distancing himself from the plan by saying the liberal legislature ruined it, or that it worked well for Massachusetts, but he wasn’t proposing it at the national level. Toward the end, he did begin to defend the mandates, but that doesn’t mean that conservatives, by in large, were “fine” with his mandates. What happened was that the 2008 GOP field was deeply flawed, with no one candidate appealing to all constituencies of the conservative movement. Rudy Giuliani was unacceptable to social conservatives, Mike Huckabee was unacceptable to economic conservatives, and Fred Thompson, despite the initial fanfare, proved too lazy as a candidate. So, by the end of the campaign, you had a lot of conservatives rally around Romney as the best chance to stop John McCain, not because they were particularly fond of him. During a debate around this time, Romney defended health insurance mandates as conservative, and I asked while liveblogging, “Okay if conservatives have many problems with McCain, but seriously, are economic conservatives ready to rally around a candidate who believes that it is conservative to force individuals to purchase health insurance or face fines?”
There is another reason that Romney didn’t generate more criticism among conservatives for his health care plan in 2008 — most of the attention in the Republican primaries was on national security, social issues, taxes and immigration, because they were seen as more pressing at the time. And unfortunately, health care was viewed as a liberal issue, and conservative voters weren’t overly concerned with the candidates’ stances. So, during Romney’s typical campaign stump speech, he’d talk about how he’s an economic, social issues, and national security conservative; blast other candidates for being insufficiently conservative; talk about his management/economic expertise; and then, maybe, have a throwaway line like, “In Massachusetts, we found a way to insure everybody with a free market approach…” And a lot of people who didn’t take time to study the details of his plan, gave him the benefit of the doubt. Others argued that he did the best he could in liberal Massachusetts. But what happened in 2009 was that conservatives became a lot more interested in health care policy, and a lot more aware of what Obama was proposing and how closely it resembled what Romney did in Massachusetts. And so that’s why he’s facing a lot more grief for it than he did in 2008. That said, he could still win the nomination in 2012 in a weak field — as McCain did in 2008 in spite of immigration, campaign finance reform, voting against the Bush tax cuts, and a number of other deviations from conservatism.
Remember all those “reformist conservatives” who were peddling books, op-eds, and magazine articles saying that the Republican Party would die after the 2008 elections unless GOP pols followed the five- or fifty-point plans contained therein? Well, Dave Weigel followed up and asked the logical question: What do you think now that the Republicans are likely to win again not just by ignoring your advice but by doing the opposite?
The reformists mostly double down, arguing that they have either been proven right or will be proven right just around the corner (the piece concludes with a characteristically obnoxious quote from Mickey Edwards). Snark aside, governing is different than campaigning against an unpopular administration that has tried to do too much during a horrible economy. Maybe we’ll need to dust off our copies of Comeback and Grand New Party in the run-up to the 2012 election. And I do think Republicans are returning to power prematurely, though given the way the Democrats have governed I don’t see what the alternative is.
But as I observed in a recent Wall Street Journal review of two triumphalist Democratic books — both smart books in their way, just like the two reformist conservative books I just mentioned — we’ve been in a very volatile political environment for quite some time. There is a tendency to overreact to the last election cycle. Those predicting a permanent Democratic majority and the reformist conservatives overreacted to 2006 and 2008, mainstream conservatives overreacted to 2002 and 2004, and I’m sure we’ll see all kinds of Tea Party triumphalism in the overreaction to 2010.
Sometimes it’s better to take the long view.
A Pew Hispanic Center poll out yesterday had bad news for Democrats counting on amnesty and Arizona to bail them out this November: Hispanics don’t seem that interested in voting and aren’t primarily motivated by immigration.
While Hispanics favor Democrats by 65 percent to 22 percent, only 51 percent of registered Hispanic voters say they plan to vote compared to 70 percent of all registered voters. Only 32 percent of registered Latino voters say they have followed the fall campaign “quite a lot” compared to 50 percent of all registered voters. Only 28 percent of Latino Democrats have followed the election that closely compared to 44 percent of Hispanic Republicans, suggesting that the Hispanics who do turn out may, pace Harry Reid, be disproportionately Republican. Hispanic Republicans are favored to be elected governor and lieutenant governor of New Mexico, governor of Nevada, and U.S. senator from Florida.
Although the New York Times suggests the problem is Hispanics are disillusioned by the immigration debate, the poll suggests actual Hispanic voters don’t care that much about the issue. Hispanics consider it the fourth most important issue after education, jobs, and health care. Among Hispanic registered voters, it only ranks fifth. Only 31 percent rated it “extremely important,” 20 points less than health care, four points less than the federal budget deficit, and only four points more than the war in Afghanistan.
The reality is that Hispanic voters have ambivalent attitudes about immigration, especially illegal immigration. In some cases, the illegals are their family members and in others they are their economic competitors. Legal immigrants and native-born Hispanic Americans sometimes take a particularly dim view of illegal immigration. As Steve Sailer points out, “The press routinely ignores this because they talk to professional Hispanic activists who are all in favor of increasing the population of Hispanics in the U.S. to boost their personal careers by giving them more putative followers to claim to be the leaders of.”
How’s this for “the most transparent administration in history”? After returning from travel I thumb through my emails for some indication that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has decided to stop violating the law, giving up its stonewall of access to what they originally said were 8,000 pages of responsive documents to a “climate”-related FOIA (think Hockey Stick, Michael Mann, and IPCC). I’m not sure what the holdup is — maybe it has something to do with some “climate” litigation, early November, or possibly a lame-duck push on related issues, I just don’t know — but NOAA first told me that they were sorting through them to determine “which are agency records and which are IPCC records”.
Yes, you read that correctly; and you are right as well that there are no such thing as “IPCC records”, sitting on taxpayer-funded computers produced by taxpayer servants in their official time in officially assigned roles, as a not overly clever way to get around FOIA. It should come as no surprise that after I confirmed this statement in writing, three days later and presumably after speaking with their lawyers, they wrote back to say they never said that. It’s come to this.
So, anyway, I don’t see anything from NOAA but I do encounter a copy of another FOIA request, this one from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to the US EPA’s regional office in Philadelphia. The long and the short of it is that Barack Obama vowed to “bankrupt” coal, and is proceeding down that path, in several ways. With cap-and-tax stalled, these ways include trying to use the regulatory process to strangle surface coal mining. And the administration is trying to keep their formal steps toward this end under wraps even in violation of the law.
Specifically, West Virginia would like to see a copy of an EPA recommended determination about continued surface mining in that state. Distilled, they want to know if the Obama administration has decided to essentially shut down that state’s economy. And some of Ohio’s. And other neighboring states. This was, as you might imagine, a very high profile decision when the strategy first emerged, but is being treated as top secret now; sort of like apparently sensitive records at NOAA.
As WV DEP notes, according to the law and rumor EPA did indeed make its recommendation about the Spruce Fork mine two weeks ago. It’s just that EPA is not complying with the law by refusing to let anyone see it in the form of Federal Register publication.
I understand from the Campaign Spot that WV Gov. and Senate candidate Joe Manchin has decided to not wait for an answer but to sue, an announcement of which is being made today. It’s bad enough when politicians preen, worse when they do so to boast of behavior that is precisely the opposite of how they behave. This is further worse when an administration declares war on an industry and, inescapably, a region. Even worse still is when they violate their legal obligations in order to keep this from the public, even telling a state regulator that they’ll have to guess at the answer about their fate, or pry it out of them.
The only good news, for many of you, is that you’re not an Appalachian miner. Or living in a town dependent on those miners producing abundant, reliable, politically assailed energy resources. Or, maybe not a farmer or rancher or living in such a community out West. Your livelihood isn’t under assault by the full force of the federal government. Yet. You just depend on what these fellow Americans do to make you richer, freer and safer. Unlike our political class.
Had enough yet?
In 2008, Barack Obama won the presidency by expanding the electorate, and competing for votes among ideological groups and within geographic areas that Democrats don’t normally go near. He ended up winning in states such as Virginia and Indiana, which Bush carried easily. And he beat John McCain among independents by 8 points. But a lot has changed in two years.
With less than a month left before the midterm elections, the New York Times reports that the White House has narrowed its focus to trying to rile up the liberal base, in hopes that it can mitigate the potential disaster facing the Democratic Party. This strategy became apparent to me back in July, when I was covering the Netroots Nation conference of liberal activists. At the time, Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid essentially delivered the same message to the audience: We’ve accomplished a lot, a lot more needs to be done, so work to get us reelected or else Republicans will try to undo our gains and thwart the rest of our agenda.
In a pretty pathetic episode for a sitting president, the Times reports that Obama has been reduced to pleading with college students not to abandon him:
“You can’t sit it out,” he told a conference call of college student journalists last week. “You can’t suddenly just check in once every 10 years or so, on an exciting presidential election, and then not pay attention during big midterm elections where we’ve got a real big choice between Democrats and Republicans.” He added that “the energy that you were able to bring to our politics in 2008, that’s needed not less now, it’s needed more now.”
Whenever a party is reduced to shoring up its base, it is a pretty good indication that their own internal polls aren’t very encouraging, and suggests that they have given up on winning the independents. The problem for Democrats, as the article itself notes, is that there simply aren’t as many liberals as there are conservatives. So while Republicans may be able to get away with a “get out the base” strategy in the midterms, Democrats need to win over independents, as they did in 2006 and 2008. Instead, they’re running away from independents.
There’s been a lot of talk about Democrats narrowing the gap, but the White House sure isn’t acting like it.
You’ve surely heard the information presented here, right? Or, given the inane visual and rhetorical campaign promoting windmills and solar panels to reduce our dependence on foreign oil — because, you know, the menace of all of those (foreign-) wind- and solar-powered cars…er, …because we get electricity from burning oil…or, something — you’ve seen this in stories about windmills just as you recently were inundated with snaps of the oil-covered pelican?
There are plenty more where that came from. And as one fellow just emailed me, with an amazing series of photos of wind turbines ablaze:
There have been at least 152 [fires caused by turbines] to date. Sooner or later, forest fires are bound to be caused by burning wind turbines. Some may have occurred already, and the cause covered up - politically correct oblige.
Given the obsession with the media portraying any downside of energy sources that actually work, and provide that which in fact makes us richer, freer and safer, just consider these things when you read about the sunshine and lollipops that await us if only we would get beyond our fear of success and leap forward to the future to relying on inefficient, uneconomic, and yes ecologically harmful windmills and solar panels. The stuff we abandoned when we learned to liberated even better energy.
Coal saved the forests, petroleum saved the whales and all hydrocarbons saved an awful lot of birds.
Tal al-Mallohi, a 19-year-old blogger, was arrested in Syria in December. After holding her without charge for nine months — during which, until last week, she was not allowed to see her family — the authorities have finally bothered to make something up. Not an official charge, mind you, but a background comment to a Daily Telegraph reporter:
“She was detained on accusation of spying for a foreign country,” the Syrian official said. “Her spying led to an attack against a Syrian army officer by the agents of this foreign country.”
The official did not specify which country Ms al-Mallohi allegedly spied for or elaborate on the attack on the Syrian officer.
In February, President Obama appointed an ambassador to Syria for the first time since 2005; the appointment has been stalled in the Senate.
The Hill reports:
Vice President Biden jokingly expressed his frustration toward Republicans on Tuesday, accusing them of harboring insincere concerns about the budget deficit.
Biden jokingly said that GOP protests about the need for a balanced budget made him want to strangle them, which the vice president quickly clarified was a figure of speech.
“If I hear one more Republican tell me about balancing the budget, I am going to strangle them,” Biden said at a fundraiser in Minnesota, according to a pool report. “To the press, that’s a figure of speech.”
Today Joe Sobran was laid to rest. This was his best long essay and as good an introduction to the conservative temperament as any.
Rich Lowry has an optimistic column out today touting what he calls the “Honesty Caucus” — essentially, Tea Party inspired candidates who have been willing to speak the truth about our looming entitlement crisis. The problem is, in an article aimed at highlighting gutsy Republican candidates, Lowry could only muster two examples (other than current Rep. Paul Ryan).
In his column, Lowry praises Rand Paul and Marco Rubio for their openness. While Rubio has spoken of raising the retirement age, as I wrote last week, he’s also said that the time for personal accounts had “come and gone” — a position that at one time would have been grounds to brand him a RINO.
As even Lowry acknowledges, the GOP’s “Pledge to America” dodged the entitlement issue because serious reform was not a consensus position among Republican candidates (more here). In reality, it has been much more common to see Republicans running away from entitlement reform.
Take just these few examples of GOP candidates gunning for Democratic seats identified as “toss ups” by Cook Political Report…
Tom Ganley, a Republican candidate for the seat in Ohio’s 13th Congressional District, takes this bold stand on Social Security on his website: “My views on Social Security are simple. I believe the retirement age should remain the same, that taxes should not be increased to benefit the program, the program should not be privatized and above all, the program should be protected.”
Sarah Palin endorsed Republican Paul Gosar in Arizona’s 1st District, writing on Facebook that he, “shares our belief that the federal government’s reckless spending is putting us on a dangerous path towards insolvency — and he’s determined to do something about that.” Yet here’s what Gosar has to say about Social Security on his website:
In addition to opposing the privatization of Social Security, I believe the retirement age should not be raised. We must protect benefits while keeping our agreement with seniors by not raising taxes.
Meanwhile, in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, Republican candidate Scott Tipton has just run an ad in which he’s surrounded by senior citizens, attacking John Salazar for cutting Medicare as part of his vote for the new national health care law, and vowing, “I’ll never put our seniors’ future at risk. No cuts, no privatization, and no scaring our seniors just to try and win this election.”
Unfortunately, my experience is that these sort of statements on entitlements are much more common among this year’s crop of GOP candidates than are statements by candidates admitting hard truths, and that’s discouraging. In 2004, President Bush was willing to campaign on Social Security reform, and yet when he tried to get it passed the next year, he was stymied by a Republican Congress. While there may be a few standouts elected this year, it’s hard to see a new GOP majority being any better on entitlements than the prior GOP majority.
A Florida Democrat widely considered one of the most endangered incumbents in Congress is the target of a new radio advertisement from a leading national pro-life group.
“Congressman Alan Grayson voted for taxpayer-funded abortions in Nancy Pelosi’s health-care bill,” says the ad aimed at pro-life voters in Florida’s 8th District, south of Orlando. “Alan Grayson doesn’t represent Florida values. In Washington, he voted for the largest expansion of taxpayer-funded abortions ever.”
An outspoken liberal, Grayson was called the “most loathsome member of Congress” by Reason magazine’s Michael Moynihan after the Democrat aired a TV ad blatantly distorting a statement by Republican challenger Daniel Webster.
The new anti-Grayson ad (click here to download in MP3 format) is part of a $600,000 “Life Counts” nationwide campaign by AUL Action, the political action committee of Americans United for Life.
“Americans are overwhelmingly opposed to taxpayer-funded abortion,” Dr. Charmaine Yoest, President and CEO of AUL Action said in a press release. “Candidates who supported the largest expansion of federal funding of abortion ever are going to find out that in this election, Life Counts.”
AUL Action has produced similar ads targeting 10 other at-risk House incumbents in key districts: Rep. Baron Hill (D-Ind.), Chris Carney (D-Pa.), John Boccieri (D-Ohio), Tom Perriello (D-Va.), John Spratt (D-S.C.), Bob Etheridge (D-N.C.), Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.), Kathy Dahlkemper (D-Pa.), John Salazar (D-Colo.) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.).
In addition, AUL Action has produced an ad against Joyce Elliot, the Democrat running for the House seat in Arkansas’ 2nd District being vacated by Democrat Rep. Vic Snyder. That ad (click here for MP3) notes that as a state legislator Elliot “voted against a ban on partial-birth abortion in Arkansas.”
The National Football League has asked Sen. Russ Feingold to pull a new ad, claiming unauthorized use of a clip of wide receiver Randy Moss, then with the Vikings, “mooning” Green Bay Packer fans in the end zone. The idea is to attack opponent, Republican Ron Johnson, for prematurely celebrating victory, by showing footage of over-the-top touchdown dances. More details, plus the video, here.
Johnson leads Feingold by an average of 9 points, according to polls compiled by Real Clear Politics.
Poor Chris Mooney. The Discover magazine blogger had just started a series of posts on how to effectively communicate the dangers posed by rising greenhouse gas levels leading to global warming, when the 10:10.org video (officially called Splattergate now) hit on Friday.
Only Mooney isn’t just the victim of bad timing, but also his own poor judgment, as he chose to begin his series with a lengthy video with Lawrence Livermore Lab Alarmist Ben Santer — you know, the Climategate bloke who wanted to “beat the crap out of” former Virginia state climatologist (and global warming realist) Pat Michaels.
The challenge, Mooney says, facing alarmists in advancing their message is that their audience is broken up into (paging John Edwards!) six Americas.
Little did he know that his cohorts in climate alarmism needed a remedial class in public relations. Lesson 1: Do not portray the detonation of schoolchildren into bloody bits to get your message across!
Bob Woodward’s new book, Obama’s Wars, has so many telling and compelling anecdotes. So many freshly reported vignettes that shed new and revealing light on senior-level policy-makers and U.S. wartime decision-making.
For this reason, Obama’s Wars is an important book that surely will be a touchstone in the ongoing political and historical assessments, yet to be written, of the Obama presidency and the war in Afghanistan.
Wall Street Journal scribe Max Boot dissents. Woodward, he complains “tosses out facts seemingly at random, with no context or analysis.”
This is true, but Boot misses the point. Woodward has never pretended to be an analyst. He’s a reporter, and a superb one at that. The mass of facts, details and first-hand accounting that he provides all empower us, his readers, to conduct our own analysis.
But Boot nails Woodward with some well-deserved and amusing hits. He merrily exposes, for instance, Woodward’s false conceit to have visited the Afghan front lines.
While chronicling the Obama administration’s Afghanistan policy, Mr. Woodward apparently visited Afghanistan only once, traveling with Mr. Jones. His description of the trip is inadvertently hilarious and revealing. He recounts flying “into the heart of the Taliban insurgency in Helmand province.”
Here, he proclaims, “was the war without the filter of a Situation Room briefing. The cool evening air hit my face as the plane’s rear loading ramp was lowered.… All that was missing was the haunting and elegiac theme music from Oliver Stone’s movie Platoon.” The experience, he continues, is “exhilarating and frightening.”
The camp is “supposedly safe from sniper and mortar fire,” but when he makes a midnight head call, he is decidedly nervous, “anticipating a random shot.”
You would think that Battlefield Bob had bivouacked in a foxhole a few hundred yards from an enemy position.
Actually he is in Camp Leatherneck, a giant Marine base (1,500 acres of housing, 10,000 personnel) in the middle of nowhere. The greatest danger at Leatherneck is overeating in the chow hall. That Mr. Woodward makes it seem like a frontline position is indicative of how far removed he is from the war.
I’d have to disagree with Stacy’s take on Christine O’Donnell’s “I am not a witch” ad. It struck me as overly defensive, and I can’t help but think that if I were a Delaware voter who weren’t following the race that closely, I’d be thinking, “That’s weird, why is this woman telling me she isn’t a witch?”
We’ll see how it plays out in Delaware, but thus far, I haven’t seen any empirical evidence in the form of actual polling data to suggest she has a chance to win this race, and I don’t see how this ad changes that dynamic in an overwhelmingly Democratic state.
West Virginia has turned into one of the most interesting Senate races in the country. When the popular governor, Joe Manchin, decided to seek the seat that deceased Robert Byrd held for more than a half a century, he was viewed as a heavy favorite. But the problem for him is that President Obama and the Democratic agenda is so overwhelmingly unopoular in the state, that it’s dragging him down.
A new Fox poll released today shows Manchin’s Republican oponent John Raese with a 48 percent to 43 percent lead — even though Manchin enjoys a 66 percent approval rating. In West Virginia, just 29 percent approve of Obama, and 63 percent support repeal of ObamaCare, which Manchin supported.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee has responded to this sentiment with a new ad delivering the message that voters should keep him in West Virginia as governor, because in Washington, he’ll just help pass Obama’s agenda.
Following last month’s ad from Let Freedom Ring that painted Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski as Daddy Frank’s little princess who thinks she’s entitled to her seat, Tea Party Express came up with their own effort to take down the incumbent’s write-in campaign:
The Associated Press reports Murkowski is warning Alaska broadcasters not to air the ads, because they are “littered with lies and intentional mischaracterizations” about her and her write-in campaign. One aspect of the ad she disputes is that she “manipulated” the Libertarian Party to ask them to put her on their ticket in Alaska. But her behavior screams “sore loser:”
Murkowski has acknowledged not being ready for the impact the group would have. It ran seemingly ubiquitous ads in the primary’s final stretch after touring the state for weeks, holding at-times sparsely attended rallies.
Murkowski promised to avoid a repeat this time. She is running ads aimed at Tea Party Express featuring people vowing not to be “fooled” again, saying the group is poised to drop a “dirty money bomb” and is trying to “take our seat.”
Murkowski has called Tea Party Express an outside “extremist” group that “hijacked” the state GOP.
Visiting my parents in Massachusetts, I was surprised to learn they no longer own their own trash cans. My hometown apparently borrowed $800,000 in the middle of a recession to give everyone new trash cans with tracking devices in them, so they can be retrieved if lost or stolen. The idea is to limit people’s ability to throw away trash, forcing them to recycle more and pay fees to the government for additional garbage removal. Call it trash can socialism if you’d like, but it is garbage and it smells horrible.
Ten weeks ago, after three days of shadowing Christine O’Donnell’s campaign team at the Right Online conference in Las Vegas, I wrote this:
That political candidates are judged nowadays in large part on how they look on TV is lamentable. Insofar as that factor influences the Delaware Senate race, however, it works to the Republican’s advantage.
Much online debate was engendered Monday night by the debut of O’Donnell’s first TV ad of the general-election campaign, which begins with the memorable line: “I’m not a witch.”
The problem is that the people debating the effectiveness of the ad are political junkies, and typical independent voters — “Ordinary Americans,” as I’ve sometimes called them — don’t look at politics the way we junkies do.
The ineffable quality known as “likeability” (which helped George W. Bush against snobs like Al Gore and John Kerry) matters a lot with independent voters. That’s the basis of my initial reaction to the O’Donnell ad: “With a smile like that, she’s awfully hard to hate. The Castle campaign tried to demonize her and it backfired.”
Dave Weigel notes that liberals seem obsessed with O’Donnell “because at the end of the day they expect to beat her.”
And what if their expectations are disappointed?
For the first time in 31 years, it seems that there will soon be direct flights between Egypt and Iran, which may presage a more general rapprochement. “The pronouncement baffled observers” according to the LA Times, but it doesn’t seem all that baffling. If Iran becomes a nuclear power, it will have a much freer hand to push its neighbors around. As it becomes clear that the current US Administration might let that happen, Arab countries that have traditionally allied with Washington against Tehran are beginning to hedge their bets.
Republicans have opened up a commanding lead among those most likely to vote in the November election, according to data released by Gallup today.
While, among registered voters, Gallup shows Republicans enjoying a slim 3-point lead in the generic ballot asking whether people prefer the Republican or Democratic candidate in their districts, in reality, most registered voters won’t vote. And among likely voters, Republicans now enjoy a double digit lead over Democrats, the size of which varies based on the turnout assumptions.
In a higher turnout election, Gallup gives Republicans a 53 percent to 40 percent advantage — and in a lower turnout scenario, that gap widens to a staggering 56 percent to 38 percent.
Gallup asks participants a series of questions to determine their likelyhood of voting, and the GOP enthusiasm advantage that has been reflected consistently in their polls this year, makes a huge difference when the sample universe is narrowed to those most likely to vote.
It looks like Sony and Kyocera Mita have demanded their removal from all associations with the extremist climate group 10:10.org, which produced that exploding schoolchildren video last week. The corporations’ names have been removed from the list of partners, and a lengthy post by Sony’s point-person on climate change, Naomi Climer, has been deleted from the 10:10 site.
Not only that, but a huge U.S. environmentalist promoter and partner, 350.org (headed by Bill McKibben), is no longer listed as an organizational partner. Both 10:10 and 350 have been heavily promoting an October 10 (10/10/10) “global workday” to supposedly bring fresh attention to the global warming threat. The message from 350.org’s press shop:
We respect 10:10’s previous work to encourage companies, schools, and churches to voluntarily cut their carbon emissions 10%. Upon seeing the video, however, we have informed 10:10 that we can no longer remain partners on 10/10/10 or any other initiative. 350.org maintains an absolute commitment to nonviolence in word and deed.
We also issued a statement apologising but there has subsequently been quite a lot of negative comment, particularly on blogs, and understandable concern from others working hard to build support for action on climate change.
We are also sorry to our corporate sponsors, delivery partners and board members, who have been implicated in this situation despite having no involvement in the film’s production or release.
I am very sorry for our mistake and want to reassure you that we will do everything in our power to ensure it does not happen again.
10:10 is a young and creative team but we will learn lessons from this. We are going to investigate what happened, review our processes and procedures, and share the results with our partners. Responsibility for this process is being taken by the 10:10 board of directors.
Being “young and creative” is a bunch of garbage and another lame excuse. Gillian Anderson, whose CGI-generated guts were splattered in the film, is neither young nor creative, yet she went along with the program. Dozens if not hundreds of others were involved in the creation of the video and you can’t tell me they all were “young and creative.” They were just committed to the message. As Iowahawk wrote:
In order for your “No Pressure” advert to have been made, I am assuming several writers pitched a professionally-prepared storyboard to a committee, detailing shot-by-shot each second of the film. The committee approved it, along with a minimum $250,000 budget to hire actors, director, & crew. Each scene probably took 3-10 takes, and weeks of post production by special effects wizards.
At no time did a single person involved in this (expletive) say, “hey, maybe it isn’t the best PR to air our fantasies about detonating the people who don’t agree with us into a mist of blood meat and bone fragments.”
At his site Iowahawk imagines how the video plans came together, which sounds pretty plausible.
Last week, Massachusetts Treasurer Tim Cahill lost his running mate in the race for governor. Former Republican state legislator Paul Loscocco had joined with the Democrat-turned-independent earlier this year to run on a ticket to the right of the GOP on some key issues. But Loscocco just left the ticket and endorsed Republican gubernatorial nominee Charlie Baker.
So this week, the Boston Herald is reporting that Cahill is launching a $1 million negative ad campaign. His targets will presumably be both Baker and Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick. Patrick narrowly leads in most polls — though sometimes within the margin of error — and might be more likely to lose if the center-right vote could be consolidated. Presumably, some swing voters were waiting to see whether Baker or Cahill had a better chance of taking the incumbent down.
Cahill’s Republican campaign support, including head honcho John Weaver, has similarly bailed. It remains to be seen whether he can become competitive again with the time that remains. I’ve written about Cahill’s candidacy twice before on the main site.
You knew this was coming. Linda McMahon is out today with a hard hitting ad against Richard Blumenthal, highlighting his history of lying (or at least being repeatedly misleading) about his Vietnam record:
UPDATE: Since writing this, a new poll by Democratic firm PPP shows Blumenthal with a more comfortable 12-point lead.
Isn’t this interesting?
CNN’s Rick Sanchez has been fired by CNN. Depending on the news account, it was either because Sanchez spent some time in a radio interview calling Comedy Central’s liberal champion Jon Stewart a “bigot.” (Stewart has been mocking Sanchez periodically on his show.) Some versions of the Sanchez firing attribute it to alleged anti-Semitism expressed in the same interview.
If the latter, then c’est la vie. There is no room for anti-Semitism in this world, much less spewing forth from a prominent CNN anchor.
But there’s enough press out there saying the real reason for the Sanchez dismissal was that he called liberal icon Stewart a “bigot.”
Now think about this.
If that’s true, here’s a curious fact.
Rick Sanchez gets fired in a blink because he calls the liberal Jon Stewart a bigot. But not all that long ago Sanchez said on the air that Rush Limbaugh had “once declared that had ‘Slavery built the South. I’m not saying we should bring it back; I’m just saying it had its merits. For one thing, the streets were safer after dark.’”
This was during the major media-induced assault on Rush when he was being considered for an ownership stake in an NFL team, the St. Louis Rams.
There was not a single word of truth to what Sanchez said. Not one. It was a total, complete untruth. Retraction? Eventually — after El Rushbo’s lawyer’s raised a more than justified stink.
The point? CNN didn’t fire Sanchez for maligning the conservative Rush. Nope. No problemo there. It was only when he said the liberal Jon Stewart was a bigot that he lost his job.
Huh. As they use to say on the old Laugh-In TV show: “Verrrrrrrrrrrry interesting.”
Jason Zengerle’s latest GQ piece trying to reduce Rand Paul to a fringe figure has elicited an unlikely reaction: concern — especially pronounced among antiwar conservatives — that Paul is too much of a mainstream Republican. That’s because the New Republic reporter who revealed Paul to be a “paleo wacko” met in Washington, D.C. with such leading neocons and hawks as Bill Kristol, Dan Senor, and Tom Donnelly.
The fact is that whether we agree with their foreign policy views or not, all of the above gentlemen are influential in the Republican Party and broader conservative movement. People in their orbit will advise the next Republican president and will staff Senate offices. Conservatives who do not like this reality need to get right-wingers of a less interventionist stripe into the talent pool from which future conservative elected officials will draw. Rand Paul’s campaign represents a significant opportunity to do that. Even if he is imperfect himself, his openness to different influences and potential willingness to hire serious libertarians or noninterventionist conservatives would still be an asset.
That’s not to deny that there are reasons to worry about Rand going native — Zengerele does a good job showing the tension between Paul’s ideology and his ambition. In fact, some of this criticism is beneficial because Paul the younger needs pressure from harder-core libertarians and noninterventionists to balance the overwhelming pressure he’s going to face from the other side. But let’s take a deep breath here.
Rand Paul remains opposed to the Iraq war. He left National Review with the clear impression that he wants out of Afghanistan. He has been restrained in his rhetoric about Iran even when invited to make bellicose statements. He still talks about closing military bases, Congress’ constitutional authority to declare war, and not exempting the Pentagon from spending cuts. And that’s without mentioning his domestic positions, which make him likely to be the most limited-government member of the Senate. Even Ron Paul has trimmed a bit in his successful campaigns for conventional Republican votes.
Given these facts and the paucity of other viable options, I’m inclined to let this play out rather than jump to conclusions based on Rand Paul’s attempts to mend fences with conservatives and Republicans outside the Ron Paul movement. Robert Taft didn’t need to be the most consistent noninterventionist conservative to be the most influential.
I believe today is Joseph Sobran’s wake and tomorrow is his funeral. I have a piece up at Enter Stage Right that hopefully does a little more justice to the points I was trying to make in my initial reaction to his death. Here’s Sobran’s own final take on some of the controversies mentioned therein, with an introduction by Peter Brimelow. But today I’d like to focus on what the next Congress could learn from the writer who was once one of National Review’s finest.
During the 1992 presidential election, Sobran observed:
The real opposite of a legislating party is not a foot-dragging party, but a party of repeal. What we need is a conservative Congress whose chief business will be chopping down the jungle of bad laws that oppress us, laws that range from misconceived to iniquitous and unconstitutional.
Amen. As true today as it was then.
California Democrat Rep. Jane Harman’s family business is laying off American workers - including engineering employees in California - and shifting jobs overseas.
A letter from the human resources director of one Harman company, obtained exclusively by The American Spectator, describes a “permanent” layoff of dozens of California workers that went into effect last week.
“I am writing to inform you that Harman Consumer, Inc. has decided to consolidate their global engineering operations located at 8500 Balboa Boulevard, Northridge, California 91329, to Shenzhen, China,” Sandra Buchanan wrote in the letter dated July 20. “The separation is expected to be on September 30, 2010 and will affect forty-eight (48) employees… . The layoffs are expected to be permanent … .”
Harman is the third-richest member of Congress, and her net worth increased last year $40 million, according to a study of Federal Election Commission records conducted by The Hill newspaper. Her husband, Sidney Harman, founded Harman International Industries, which was valued in 2007 at about $8 billion.
By May 2009, the company had already slashed its U.S. workforce by 900 and expected to make more than a thousand more layoffs by mid-2010, according to a Saturday Evening Post article that noted: “[W]hile shutting down U.S. facilities, Harman was simultaneously opening factories in China and India, as well as massive multimedia outlets in Dubai and New Delhi.”
Sidney Harman recently purchased Newsweek magazine. His wife is seeking re-election in California’s 36th District, which has been hit hard by the current recession. Mrs. Harman’s Republican challenger, Mattie Fein, has been harshly critical of the incumbent’s record on economic issues. One of the main newspapers in the district, the Torrance Daily Breeze, has said it is “not interested” in covering the GOP candidate.
The U.S. Ryder Cup team, outside of Stewart Cink, has so far performed like exactly what it is: a collection of good but not-yet superby accomplished players along with a very good grinder (jim Furyk) with an awful four-ball record and two all-time greats in a serious, serious phunk. This team is so far away from Ben Hogan’s legendary “12 best players in the world” as to be a sign of societal decline.
What’s most baffling is the body language of Phil Mickelson. He has been walking around all week with a hangdog look, like he’s wearing a “Kick me” sign. He has now won only something like two of his last 18 Ryder Cup matches. That’s pitiful. And his 0-3 record this week so far is really strange. Twice his team has battled back from deep early holes to pull either even or just about even, only to then throw it away. And it was Phil doing some of the most devastating throw-aways, especially by three-putting a green down the stretch today and then failing to get up and down on 16 while Ian Poulter of Great Britain did get up and down from a worse spot.
Overall, the U.S. condition going into Monday’s finale is pitiphul. And they do not have nearly the firepower of the great 1999 comeback team of Brookline, nor the mystical leadership of Ben Crenshaw. Down 9 1/2 to 6 1/2, I see no way on Earth they can win. Tiger is still doing experiments on his swing, Dustin Johnson looks lost, Steve Stricker is putting great but looks exhausted, and nobody seems to be looking like somebody to rally around. This is awful.