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Rep. James Clyburn is a raging racer

Thursday, May 26th, 2011 - by Bryan Preston

Unemployment hangs around 9 percent, despite promises that if spent a trillion dollars on a stimulus, it would stay below 8.5 percent. The national debt has skyrocketed to an unsustainable $14.2 trillion. The housing market is moribund as foreclosures run rampant. Gas is eating up about 9 percent of US household budgets. The regulatory state is making it ever harder to run a business or have a job, and the border remains dangerously unsecured, while natural disasters hammer the US from one end to the other as the president searches for his lost apostrophe overseas.

These are not good times for any president, but this president’s own actions have made them far worse. But Rep. James Clyburn thinks he knows why President Obama’s approval rating is weak: Because you’re a filthy racist.

House Assistant Democratic Leader Jim Clyburn, the highest-ranking African-American in Congress, on Wednesday blamed most of President Barack Obama’s political problems on racism.

Clyburn, who’s from South Carolina and is a close ally of the president, offered his views in response to a question about Obama’s re-election prospects next year.

“I think they’re improving every day,” Clyburn said. “I think the president has been a good president, a great commander in chief.”

There’s problem number one right there: By what criteria has Obama been a “good” president? The extravagant government waste? The high unemployment? The partisan attacks on state economies and laws? Clyburn doesn’t answer any of that, because he knows he has a Get Out Of Logical Arguments card to play:

“You know, I’m 70 years old,” he said. “And I can tell you; people don’t like to deal with it, but the fact of the matter is, the president’s problems are in large measure because of the color of his skin.”

The Race Card: Don’t leave home without it — if you’re a racer.

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President Obama and freedom

Thursday, May 26th, 2011 - by Dan Miller

President Obama has lauded democracy in many of his speeches but has seldom used the word “freedom.” There can be democracy without freedom (sometimes we call it mobocracy), and maybe even freedom without democracy; the words are not synonymous. In many countries, lack of freedom eviscerates even the pretense of democracy. Venezuela has elections, and el Presidente Chávez has used them to remain in power; freedom is conspicuously absent. Many other examples could be cited. The United States may be in danger of forfeiting many of her freedoms.

During his address to the British Parliament on May 25th, President Obama spoke of freedom as well as democracy. He stated,

“Let there be no doubt: The United States and United Kingdom stand squarely on the side of those who long to be free,” Obama vowed. “And now, we must show that we will back up those words with deeds. That means investing in the future of those nations that transition to democracy … by deepening ties of trade and commerce, by helping them demonstrate that freedom brings prosperity.”

He also spoke of the great alliance between Britain and the United States and observed that it remains both viable and necessary:

“Even as more nations take on the responsibilities of global leadership,” Obama said, “our alliance will remain indispensable to the goal of a century that is more peaceful, more prosperous and more just. After a difficult decade that began with war and ended in recession, our nations have arrived at a pivotal moment once more.”

“Perhaps, the argument goes, these nations represent the future, and the time for our leadership has passed,” he said. “That argument is wrong. The time for our leadership is now.”

The grand alliance aspect of his address seems to have received more notice than the linking of freedom and democracy, but the latter seems more interesting and could, perhaps, be more important. The Financial Times (subscription required) noted,

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Did Tennessee legislative staff sabotage budget amendment defunding Planned Parenthood?

Thursday, May 26th, 2011 - by Patrick Poole

A mystery is afoot in the state of Tennessee, where legislators who thought they had defunded Planned Parenthood abortion mills from receiving Title X money for women’s health services discovered earlier this week that a provision in the state budget that had been removed reappeared in the final version of the budget voted on by the state legislature that might negate the defunding amendment. Who exactly reinserted the provision into the budget is still a mystery, but a legislative staff attorney claims he was ordered to reinsert it into the budget at the direction of a top legislator. But when the staff attorney was asked by the defunding amendment’s authors who had given him that direction, he refused to answer claiming attorney-client privilege. And state leaders who would have been in position to give such an order are quickly denying they had anything to do with it. The plot thickens.

Here’s Tom Humphrey’s report in the Knoxville News-Sentinel:

Campfield said earlier that he believed that his amendment had been deliberately sabotaged by legislative staff . But Wednesday he contacted Doug Himes, a legislative attorney who handles budget drafting.

Himes told him, Campfield said, that “someone on the House side” had instructed staff to put the overturn amendment back into the budget bill. But the senator said declined to say who had issued those instructions, citing the attorney-client privilege that exists between the Legislature’s lawyers and the members of the Legislature.

When contacted by a reporter, Himes said he could not even comment on whether he had spoken with Campfield.

There is ongoing discussion whether Governor Haslam can use his line-item veto authority to strike the negating language out of the bill. It should be noted that the defunding amendment would not cut the amount of money spent on women’s health services, but redirect the money to county health agencies instead of third-party providers – like Planned Parenthood.

That a legislative staff attorney is now refusing to tell legislators which of their colleagues directed him to reinsert the provision into the bill by claiming attorney-client privilege is so problematic on so many levels it’s hard to know where to begin. As Tennessee radio show host Steve Gill said on his program this morning:

The legislative lawyers represent the legislature, not individual legislators. This excuse is like a lawyer representing a partnership conspiring with one partner to defraud the other partners to whom he/she owes a fiduciary duty.

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Arizona immigration reform picks up a partial win at SCOTUS

Thursday, May 26th, 2011 - by Bryan Preston

Just breaking:

The Supreme Court has sustained Arizona’s law that penalizes businesses for hiring workers who are in the United States illegally, rejecting arguments that states have no role in immigration matters.

By a 5-3 vote, the court said Thursday that federal immigration law gives states the authority to impose sanctions on employers who hire unauthorized workers.

The decision upholding the validity of the 2007 law comes as the state is appealing a ruling that blocked key components of a second, more controversial Arizona immigration enforcement law. Thursday’s decision applies only to business licenses and does not signal how the high court might rule if the other law comes before it.

Dissenters? Ginsburg, Breyer and Sotomayor. Kagan recused herself — because she worked on the Obama administration’s case against the law when she was solicitor general.

She also worked on the administration’s defense of ObamaCare.

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Breaking: WI Judge Sumi strikes down collective bargaining law (Updated)

Thursday, May 26th, 2011 - by Bryan Preston

Fox is reporting it now, though stories haven’t hit the wires yet. The ruling fits with Sumi’s prior activism; she and her family are Democrat/union activists, and she signaled her intent to jettison the law when she initially halted its implementation back in March, before she headed off for vacation.

More to come…

Update: Her grounds to dismiss the law? Open meetings.

A Wisconsin judge has struck down a law taking away nearly all collective bargaining rights from most public sector workers.

Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi ruled Thursday that Republican legislators violated Wisconsin’s open meetings law during the run-up to passage. She said that rendered the law void.

The Democrats, of course, initially prevented a vote by running off to Illinois. Republicans re-worked the bill so that the Democrats’ presence wasn’t necessary, and passed it in open session. The idea that this wasn’t an “open meeting” is risible.

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Ryan’s budget crushes Obama’s budget in Senate votes

Thursday, May 26th, 2011 - by Bryan Preston

Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget picked up 40 votes in yesterday’s Senate action. President Obama’s budget, on the other hand, picked up…zero.

Zero.

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DSK’s successor at the IMF under corruption investigation

Thursday, May 26th, 2011 - by Bryan Preston

The International Monetary Fund sure knows how to pick ‘em. Its last leader resigned in disgrace after assault and pulling a “Do you know who I am?” on a hotel maid; the woman seen as his likely successor is a synchronized swimmer. And that’s the least of her troubles.

Christine Lagarde, a 55-year-old former lawyer and synchronised swimmer, is being investigated for abusing her position to help a controversial businessman.

She is said to have awarded some £270million to Bernard Tapie, a convicted football match fixer and tax dodger who supported her governing UMP party. …

Judges will take a decision on whether to prosecute Ms Lagarde on June 10th – at a critical moment in her campaign to succeed Strauss-Kahn at the IMF.

Ms Lagarde’s bid for the IMF’s top job had been endorsed by the UK’s coalition government, which indicated she was preferred to former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown.

So we’re learning that the IMF had/had a unique atmosphere during Strauss-Kahn’s tenure. What did US Treasury Sec. Timmy Geithner see while he was there? He. Ain’t. Sayin’. So he says “go ask a woman” who worked there. (Geithner clip via Ace)

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Waste Watch: how the Feds study March Madness, online dating and rap music

Thursday, May 26th, 2011 - by Richard Pollock

Ever hear of the U.S. National Science Foundation?  Don’t be too broken-hearted if you haven’t.  It is one of at least 15 federal departments, 72 sub-agencies, and 12 independent agencies engaged in federal scientific research. And now we can say we know what types of ridiculous research they are conducting over there at the NSF — and at taxpayer expense.

In the name of “scientific research,” NSF researchers have studied online dating services, March Madness, Farmville on Facebook, trendy baby names, and rap songs. Other NSF researchers concluded that “people who often post pictures on the Internet from the same location at the same time are usually friends.” Overall, there is at least $1.2 billion “due to waste, fraud, duplication and mismanagement.”

This is the conclusion of a fascinating study released today by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), titled “The National Science Foundation: Under the Microscope.”

Sen. Coburn found that hundreds of millions of dollars were lost to ineffective contracting. And his staff identified “at least” $3 million in excessive travel funds.

And, the NSF left $1.7 billion on the table unspent.

However, the Senator did demolish the myth that government researchers are kind of quiet and dorky.  He noted that at an NSF operated facility in Antartica, there was “porn surfing and Jello wrestling and skinny-dipping.”

Skinny-dipping in artic waters? Now these must be wild and crazy NSF guys.

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Chris Christie presser to make ‘climate’ news?

Thursday, May 26th, 2011 - by Christopher Horner

At least one source who claims to know tells me that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a rising star with conservatives if with some unsettling blemishes on his ‘global warming’ record, is going to make some news on that front this week. It could come at his 11 a.m. Eastern press conference for which, at this moment, still no topic has been announced.

Christie took office having voiced his skepticism on climate alarmism as candidate, also inheriting participation in a cap-and-trade scheme among all Northeastern states called ‘Reggie’ (RGGI, for Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative). It’s akin to the scheme that Jon Huntsman roped Utah into, now roped around his own ankles as he prepares a run for the Republican nomination (compounded by the disingenuous attempt to deflect, of ‘that was five years ago’ under different economic circumstances, which elides the fact that he came to Washington to pitch it to President-elect Barack Obama as a great national idea, in the throes of the economic downturn — an enthusiasm that obviously impressed the incoming chief).

So, New Jersey’s scheme wasn’t Christie’s doing, but he gave no succor to those demanding various states withdraw from it. First, his administration continues a legal challenge to requests for documents reflecting how much the utilities that lobbied RGGI into place are making off the electricity rate payer’s back. And the plan was, after all, expressly one of lying in wait to cash in on a national cap-and-trade scheme, having accumulated ‘early action’ credits to sell the poor saps in the coal-fired heartland suddenly in need. And a national plan is dead for the foreseeable future.

Christie could have treaded water by claiming he didn’t start the fire but, now that he was getting the state’s books in order, the new tax would have to stay around for a while longer.

Instead, he got tongues wagging by recently telling a reporter that his initial skepticism reflected a ‘not fully formed opinion’, and that he was about to meet with some activists with advanced science degrees, including among their leadership a Castro toady.

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Dershowitz – will he or won’t he (back Obama)?

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011 - by Roger L Simon

Despite misgivings, the famous legal-eagle-defender-of-Israel Alan Dershowitz has been solidly in the Barack Obama camp – until now. In an article on the Hudson New York site – “Obama Explains – and Makes It Worse” – he appears to be backing way from the president:

This recent statement clearly reveals the underlying flaw in Obama’s thinking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There is no way that Israel can agree to borders without the Palestinians also agreeing to give up any claim to a “right of return.”

Indeed. But Dershowitz goes on:

It’s not too late for President Obama to “explain” that that is what he really meant when he declared that Israel must remain a Jewish state and that any Palestinian government that expects compromises from Israel must recognize that reality.

For many of us, Obama has done quite enough explaining, thank you very much. We know what he really thinks now. (Just ask Rashid Khalidi, if you have any doubts.) Any “explaining” would not be believed. Yet Dershowitz still “hopes” for a “change.” Maybe it’s time for the esteemed professor to make a full break. Come on in, the water’s fine. (And it would be better for Israel and the USA if he did.)

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Joplin tornado update

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011 - by Patrick Richardson

The death toll in Sunday’s tornado in Joplin, Mo., has now risen to 124 as thousands of volunteers stream into the city. The damage is astounding. I’ve lived in this area for 11 years now, and generally go to Joplin at least once a week for one reason or another. A few years ago when I had my own mobile tool sales business I was in Joplin almost daily driving all over town. The city is now unrecognizable in the damaged areas. The familiar landmarks which told you what part of town you’re in are simply gone. At the same time, when you get into the undamaged areas Joplin looks like Joplin. It’s surreal.

Still the digging has begun and aid is arriving daily. I have little doubt at this point that Joplin will be back. It will simply take some time.

The resilience and determination of the residents has to be seen to be believed. The school district announced the 2011-12 school year will begin on time, in Joplin schools — 84 days from now — despite the fact that the high school looks like it was struck by a Tomahawk cruise missile and several other schools were heavily damaged.

Following are some pictures from the scene.

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Joe Bastardi: It’s ‘despicable’ to blame the rash of tornadoes on global warming

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011 - by Bryan Preston

Caution, liberals: Joe Bastardi knows more about weather and climate than you do. He knows more than Tamron Hall and Al Roker do, too.


“They own every answer. It could snow cheese in New York tomorrow morning and that would be from global warming.”

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Special treatment for Jesse Lee and Nita “Betray Us” Choudhary … at a State dinner!

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011 - by David Steinberg

Yesterday, utilizing my intelligence acquisition expertise — the kind of competence one can only accrue via being alive since the year 2000 — I searched the background of Jesse Lee, the newly hired White House Director of Progressive Media & Online Response/Woodrow Wilson Comes Alive! Laser Light Show Project.

I typed “Jesse Lee” into Google. Thirty seconds later, I knew that not only did Lee once sound like a navel-gazing twit at an undergraduate philosophy conference a decade ago, but that he recently married a woman named Nita Choudhary. Choudhary is a prominent figure at MoveOn.org, was the leader of MoveOn.org’s anti-Iraq war campaign, and also may have once made a tiny error in judgment, nothing to speak of really, but for the sake of transparency, she may have purchased a full-page ad in a national newspaper dubbing General Petraeus “Betray Us,” and then suffering from Crime and Punishment-level pangs of guilt, or the opposite of that, she went on C-SPAN and ardently defended the ad.

As Lee is now responsible for defending the administration from damaging PR, and as Petraeus is a member of the administration whom Lee might be asked to defend, you might identify this as a showstopper conflict of interest. The NSA, or whoever is in charge of WH employee background checks — let’s say Al Franken — did as well, which is why, at an elaborate State dinner, Valerie Jarrett went out of her way to create the perfect opportunity for Lee to propose marriage to Choudhary. Don’t question Franken. (Hat tip: Dan Riehl.)

It’s not necessary to bother Petraeus’ office for comment regarding how the very person who slandered him received special treatment by the White House, we won’t be doing that.

What you should take from this story: the most anti-American, anti-military elements of our society are not simply tolerated by the Obama administration; they are not simply, and cynically, welcomed as potential voters.

This administration is more comfortable around people like Nita Choudhary then around people who disagree with her. Lee’s relationship with Choudhary was not a negative for his White House career. I’ll posit it was a plus.

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Dem Rep: Let’s raise the gas tax to pay for yet more Obama spending!

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011 - by Bryan Preston

The Democrats are bound and determined to absolutely wreck the American economy.

Rep. Nick Rahall (W.Va.), the ranking Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said President Obama should be more specific about how he plans to fund a long-term transportation spending bill, and that raising the gas tax should be one of the options.

“We’ve not had an increase in the gas tax since 1993,” Rahall said Tuesday during a speech at the Transportation Construction Coalition’s 10th annual Washington fly-in.

“Cars are more efficient,” Rahall said. “They get better mileage.”

But with gas prices near $4 a gallon, Rahall also acknowledged the unlikelihood that the political will exists in Washington for any proposal to raise the gas tax to get serious traction.

Let’s see. Rahall wants to tax…so he can spend. Tax. Then spend. Maybe jokers like him are where the phrase “tax and spend Democrat” comes from.

By the way, weren’t we supposed to get a trillion bucks worth of infrastructure spending from the Obama stimulus bill?

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Democrat consultant, former DNC staffer launches anti-Pawlenty web site

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011 - by Bryan Preston

Here’s the site, which by modern political attack standards is pretty mild. It says Pawlenty is unexciting, har har. On a tip, though, here’s the site’s registration information.

Registrant:
   Matt Ortega

   Registered through: GoDaddy.com, Inc. (http://www.godaddy.com)
   Domain Name: EXCITINGTHINGSABOUTTIMPAWLENTY.COM

   Domain servers in listed order:
      NS75.DOMAINCONTROL.COM
      NS76.DOMAINCONTROL.COM

Who’s Matt Ortega? He is a former DNC staffer and current Democrat consultant (and not a very good one, in leaving his tracks uncovered here). The question is, for whom did he launch this site?

T-Paw, by the way, has been a bit more exciting lately, coming out against ethanol subsidies in Iowa, and then going to Florida to take on Medicare and Social Security reform. Let’s see Obama take back-to-back trips without TOTUS to tell people things they don’t want to hear.

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Tuscon shooter ruled incompetent to stand trial

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011 - by The Tatler

AP reports:

federal judge ruled Wednesday that the suspect in the Tucson shooting rampage that wounded U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is mentally incompetent to stand trial, putting the criminal case against him on hold indefinitely.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Larry Burns means Jared Lee Loughner, 21, will be sent to a federal facility for up to four months in a bid to restore his competency.

Loughner, dressed in a khaki prison suit and sporting bushy, reddish sideburns, was removed from the hearing after an outburst and had to watch part of the proceeding on a TV screen in another room. Burns had Loughner escorted from the courtroom after Loughner lowered his head and said what sounded like: “Thank you for the freak show. She died in front of me.” His head was inches from the table in front of him.

His trial is now on hold for four months, during which time he will be evaluated. He has been remanded to the custody of the US attorney general.

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Congress may probe IMF’s $250K golden parachute for DSK

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011 - by Richard Pollock

Congress may begin scrutinizing the $250,000 golden parachute given to disgraced and indicted IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn. American taxpayers will be footing the bill for his severance pay.

Fox News is reporting that Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Calif., will “request hearings in the Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs on the IMF directorship, and review what leverage the U.S. might have over operations. Lewis is a member of that subcommittee.”

Other sources tell the Tatler that they may examine the entire pay structure at these development banks.  DSK and World Bank President Robert Zoellick both receive higher salaries than the President of the United States and the Federal Reserve Chairman.

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Obama’s Aunt graduates from Sun Myung Moon Seminary

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011 - by Charlie Martin

H/T Warren Throckmorton:

President Obama’s Aunt, the Rev. Margaret Obama from Kenya, graduated recently from the Unificationist Theological Seminary according to a statement on the church’s website.

Friends, family and fellow students enthusiastically applauded as twenty-two students received their diplomas at the 35th commencement ceremony of the Unification Theological Seminary (UTS) at its New York City campus on Thursday, May 19, 2011. The 15 students receiving their Masters in Religious Education included Rev. Margaret Obama from Kaisumu, Kenya, U.S. President Barack Obama’s aunt, who wrote her thesis on “Religious Education to Support Orphaned Teen Girls in Kenya: a Curriculum.” Rev. Obama has told friends that she will spend the coming year doing pastoral care in service to her local church, the Church of the Incarnation, in Jersey City, New Jersey

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Mark Haines, RIP

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011 - by Charlie Martin

From Mediaite:

CNBC anchor Mark Haines has died, the network said Wednesday morning. CNBC president Mark Hoffman called Haines a “building block” of the financial networks’ programming.

“With his searing wit, profound insight and piercing interview style, he was a constant and trusted presence in business news for more than 20 years,” Hoffman said in a statement to CNBC employees. “From the dotcom bubble to the tragic events of 9/11 to the depths of the financial crisis, Mark was always the unflappable pro.,” said Hoffman. “Mark loved CNBC and we loved him back. He will be deeply missed.”

From CNBC:

Haines may be best remembered for his calming and commanding presence during the 9/11 tragedy when he reacted unflappably to the furious stream of incoming rumor and even more astonishing truth with a professionalism that rivaled any television anchor, said CNBC senior economics reporter Steve Liesman.

Haines was well-known around the newsroom for giving his colleagues on-air nicknames. He was responsible for calling David Faber “The Brain,” Joe Kernen “The Kahuna” and Steve Liesman “The Professor.” If a colleague ever complained about it, he would respond, “What’s worth more, your name or the nickname?”

He also often helped make his colleagues look good on air, saying, “Hey, when they look good, I look good, too.”

Haines served as a news anchor for KYW-TV in Philadelphia, WABC-TV in New York, and WPRI-TV in Providence, before joining CNBC.

Haines held a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and was a member of the New Jersey State Bar. In 2000, he was named to Brill’s Content’s “Influence List.”

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Michele Bachmann launches money bomb

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011 - by The Tatler

Hm. This is hitting email inboxes nationwide today.

The facts are startling. Almost 14 million Americans are unemployed. Oil prices are at an all-time high. Obamacare is bringing socialism to our doorstep, and the national debt is over $14.3 trillion. Yet, our President is too busy gallivanting around Europe with his Irish cousins, to focus on rebuilding our economy and strengthening our nation.

Americans around the country are struggling to make ends meet, and looking towards our government to provide answers and a path towards recovery. It is clear these answers and solutions will not be provided under the Obama Administration. Barack Obama’s failed policies have led our nation down a path of economic downfall and despair. We cannot afford another four years of an Obama White House.

Watch my video now and join my money bomb to ensure Barack Obama is a one-term President. I need your help right now to show Barack Obama that he is no match for our conservative base. We’ve set a goal to raise $240,000 in 24 hours, but we can only do this if you act now.

And so forth. This is a pretty strong hint that she’s running for president.

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Let this be your last Jon Huntsman story

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011 - by Christian Adams

It is worse than Bryan writes.  MSNBC and Time aren’t the only places devouring their reader’s time with stories on Jon Huntsman’s doomed campaign.  Here is all you need to know about Jon Huntsman: he will not win Iowa, he will never win South Carolina.  If you cannot win South Carolina you cannot be the nominee.  It doesn’t happen.  I wrote at PJM:

As it always does, the path to the nomination will go through South Carolina. One can lose Iowa and New Hampshire and still win the nomination.  Pro-business mainstream conservatives who give no offense to evangelicals and mainline Protestants — and, ideally, who have demonstrable national security credibility — are the candidates who win the South Carolina primary. Everyone wondering who will be the GOP nominee in 2012 should read that last sentence ten times over. Failure on any point means failure in South Carolina.

Huntsman gives offense, lots of it.  Now you can return to your regularly scheduled “Who Is Jon Huntsman” programing.

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Video: A RINO stalks the heartland

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011 - by Bryan Preston
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In the last couple of days I’ve started and then not finished posts varying on the theme that Jon Huntsman will not be the GOP nominee in 2012. He just won’t. There is no rationale for his candidacy as anything but Obama-lite with shades of Schwarzenegger redux. He will not rally the base. But hey, who am I to argue with those conservative stalwarts at Time magazine and E.J. Dionne at MSNBC?

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School district plans to push iPads on kindergarten parents

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011 - by Bryan Preston

What a plan:

Parents in Ashburnham are questioning a school proposal to buy 150 new iPads for children in kindergarten.

The idea is for the school district to purchase 150 iPads for children to use in class. Parents would be given the option to lease them for 25 dollars a month for two years. At the end of the two year term, the parents would own them.

Lease them? What do tax dollars pay for these days?

Prediction: Lots of busted iPads, lots of irate parents.

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First and last moonwalkers blast Obama space policy

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011 - by Christian Adams

Few are more qualified to speak about space exploration policy than Neil Armstrong, Jim Lovell and Gene Cernan.  Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon, and Gene Cernan the last.  All three are American heroes.  They don’t like what Obama is doing to wreck the space program.  In a joint USA Today op ed they write:

But today, America’s leadership in space is slipping. NASA’s human spaceflight program is in substantial disarray with no clear-cut mission in the offing. We will have no rockets to carry humans to low-Earth orbit and beyond for an indeterminate number of years. Congress has mandated the development of rocket launchers and spacecraft to explore the near-solar system beyond Earth orbit. But NASA has not yet announced a convincing strategy for their use. After a half-century of remarkable progress, a coherent plan for maintaining America’s leadership in space exploration is no longer apparent.

For a contrary view, read Rand Simberg today at PJ Media.  One thing is for sure, commercial ventures won’t be able to put humans beyond low earth orbit anytime soon, if they can even accomplish that “minor” goal.

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Unions backing down in Massachusetts

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011 - by Bryan Preston

Interesting. When Scott Walker or John Kasich cut government union bargaining privileges and benefits, they’re eeevil henchmen of big business out to destroy the entire American middle class. But when Democrats in Massachusetts do the same thing, the unions fight at first but end up going out with a whimper.

Today, the Senate is to open debate on a state budget that includes a proposal, long sought by mayors and other local officials, to allow them to shift workers into less expensive health plans, even if unions oppose the changes.

A month ago, before the House overwhelmingly approved a similar measure, labor leaders ran dramatic radio ads, held protests at the State House, and threatened to oust lawmakers. The standoff, they said, was a historic effort to ensure Massachusetts did not slide toward the tougher measures imposed in Wisconsin, Ohio, and elsewhere.

But now, as the Senate prepares to debate its bill, unions have issued a conciliatory press release, and tried to put a positive spin on the developments.

The changed tactics reflect shifting political ground and a tacit acknowledgement that their earlier hardball tactics did not work in an economy that has hit city and town budgets hard.

Unions recognizing that their thuggery isn’t working? I never thought I’d see the day. Instead of issuing threats and running a constant stream of negative ads, the unions have found a new tactic:

The union proudly declared that the 700 letters its members sent to state senators had won the day.

Declare victory and go back to assaulting Republicans.

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Today’s rumor: Texas Gov. Rick Perry is moving toward a presidential run

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011 - by Bryan Preston

This rumor comes straight out of Austin, and the circumstances of a bill signing on Tuesday:

Perry’s remarks Tuesday were similar to a statement the governor gave to reporters last week — namely, that he won’t get “distracted” by talk of a presidential campaign. Perry is, after all, in the throes of the 2011 legislative session, where weighty matters like sweeping budget cuts and immigration restrictions are being considered.

But Perry’s non-denial denial is a little more significant this time because he was asked specifically if he would “rule out” running for president. Here is how the longest serving governor in America answered that question:

“I’ve got my focus on where it’s appropriately supposed to be, and that’s this legislative session,” Perry said. “I’ve said multiple times I’m not going to get distracted from my work at hand, and I’m not going to get distracted today, either.”

But the legislative session is almost over. True, a special session may yet happen, and if it does, Perry is unlikely to make any presidential moves without dealing with that session first.

Just a week ago, I made the case here for why the Texas governor and fellow Tatler blogger should run. Since that time, another data point has emerged in his favor, a data point that can be summed up in a number: 732,800. That’s the number of jobs Texas has added over the past 10 years, while no other state manages to top 100,000. In the teeth of the great recession, Texas is doing something right.

Texas fatigue (or Bush fatigue) is probably the strongest argument against a Perry run. But come 2012, Obama fatigue may be the single most prevalent affliction in the nation, and the Texas governor just might hold the cure.

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Video: Elizabeth Warren skips out of House hearing about her own agency

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011 - by Bryan Preston

At issue here is accountability. Warren’s new agency was created without debate by having it tucked into the mammoth finance reform bill. The House now wants to get to the bottom of the agency’s aims and purpose, hence the hearing. But Warren, basically saying she has better things to do than answer questions from Congress, and claiming the existence of an agreement to get her out of the hearing in an hour, bolts. The Democrats, predictably, come to her defense — even though it’s evident that the committee held the hearing on Tuesday to accommodate Warren’s schedule in the first place. What meeting was more important than answering questions about her agency? Warren doesn’t say.

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Philip Klein wrote the fracas up shortly after it occurred Tuesday.

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Video: Paul Ryan pushes back on Medicare

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011 - by Bryan Preston

The NY-26 special election gave the GOP a glance at how the Democrats plan to run next year: They will defend the unsustainable status quo on spending and accuse Republicans of plotting to kill Medicare, using Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan as the basis for those attacks (and where possible, they will run fake Tea Party candidates to split the vote on the right). Ryan is ready for the disingenuous MediScare attacks.

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Barone gives campaign theme to Republicans

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011 - by Roger L Simon

If Republicans are looking for an early campaign theme, they should start by running ads based on Michael Barone’s new article on Obamacare waivers. Naturally, they are given to Obama campaign supporters. But as Barone points out, “If Obamacare is so great, why do so many people want to get out from under it?”

There’s your campaign ad – mixed with back room deals a la Chicago.

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Nazis trained dogs to talk, write poetry says new research

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011 - by Rick Moran

Uh-huh. I’m skeptical too. But here it is, in black and white (or whatever color your monitor displays):

Nazis tried to train dogs to talk, read and spell to win WW2

Maybe its Sweeps Week on Fleet Street and this is all a tremendous gag. But it is an incredible story. And if it’s not true, the reporter should get a raise for being so wildly creative.

Hitler hoped the clever creatures would learn to communicate with their SS masters – and he even had a special dog school set up to teach them to talk.

The incredible findings show Nazi officials recruited so-called educated dogs from all over Germany and trained them to speak and tap out signals using their paws.

One mutt was said to have uttered the words ‘Mein Fuhrer’ when asked who Adolf Hitler was.

Another ‘spoke’ by tapping letters of the alphabet with his paws and was said to have speculated about religion and learnt poetry.

It’s an old carnival trick you’ve probably seen with horses. Domesticated animals have an extraordinary ability to read the human face and pick up subtle clues via our body language. So over the years in America, there have been horses who could count, and even answer “yes-no” questions simply by watching their handler closely, who always gives them a treat when they answer “correctly.” Trainers have similar successes with dogs who have learned extraordinary tricks simply by keying off signals – sometimes given unconsciously – by their human masters.

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IAEA: Syria site Israel bombed in 2007 was ‘likely nuclear’

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011 - by The Tatler

Israel saves the world from a Baathist nuclear menace, a second time.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has been investigating US claims that Syria was building a secret nuclear reactor with North Korean help.

The strongest IAEA report yet on Syria came after several years of blocked investigations, and is likely to increase the pressure on Damascus.

Israel bombed the remote desert site of the alleged reactor in September 2007.

Syria says the site – near Deir Alzour in the country’s remote north-east – was an unused military facility under construction. It also denied having any nuclear links to North Korea, which has itself denied transferring nuclear technology to Syria.

But the confidential IAEA report, obtained by the BBC, says the bombed building was similar in type and size to a reactor and that samples taken from the site indicated a connection with nuclear activities.

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John Edwards prosecution gets the green light

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011 - by Bryan Preston

Threatening collateral damage among major Democrat funders.

Edwards has been the focus of a lengthy federal investigation focusing on hundreds of thousands of dollars allegedly provided by two wealthy supporters. The government will contend those were illegal donations that ultimately went to support and seclude his mistress, Rielle Hunter.

Hunter was a campaign videographer with whom Edwards had a lengthy affair that resulted in a daughter, Frances Quinn Hunter, now three years old.

If the case were to proceed to trial, legal experts said, the government would have to prove that the intent of the donations was to cover-up the affair so that Edwards could continue his pursuit of the 2008 Democratic nomination for president.

That shouldn’t be too hard to do, since the late Fred Baron admitted that he pushed money Edwards’ way to help cover the situation up. Baron is gone but his money still props up the Texas Democratic Party and still funds its extensive shadow party, led by Matt Angle. Baron was not alone in paying to help cover Edwards’ alternate lifestyle up; the question is how many other major Democrat funders are caught up in all this? Inquiring prosecutors want to know.

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Scotland Yard code name for Obama: “smart alec”

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011 - by Richard Pollock

Brits woke up this morning to learn that Scotland Yard has code-named President Obama “smart alec” during his visit to Britain.

For the Presidential code word, Scotland Yard are using a Punjabi term “Chalaque”.  According to the Daily Mail it means “to denigrate someone who we think is too clever for their own good.”  Another interpretation says the Daily Mail is “‘cheeky, crafty and cunning.”

The premier police agency claims the code name was randomly selected by computer. But when the offensive term came up Scotland Yard could have selected an alternative.  They did not.  

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Video: ‘To the Queen’

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011 - by Bryan Preston

My fellow English soccer fan, Mike McNally, and I have a slight disagreement over who is to blame for President Obama’s royal toast debacle. I blame the president, he blames the band. Here’s the video, you make the call.

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Mike is actually English so he has a better chance of being right about this than I do. But looking at the video, I can’t help but notice that the president needed note cards…to get through a toast. I didn’t count but its length can’t be more than 100 words or so. He can’t memorize that and get the timing down right? For the Queen of England? What a duffer.

In any case, here’s to better seasons next year for Arsenal, Bristol City, and of course, Preston North End.

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Democrat wins special election in NY-26

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011 - by Bryan Preston

Chris Chocola has the post mortem: This election was not a referrendum on Medicare reform, but a bank shot win due to a candidate who failed to connect, and a fake Tea Party candidate who siphoned off just enough to let the Democrat slip by.

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