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Showing posts from October, 2010

A Tale Of Two Bushes

Does this signify something?



Meanwhile, The One has trouble drawing a crowd:President Obama wrapped up a weekend of last-minute campaigning in Ohio on Sunday, addressing Democrats in an indoor arena that, in a sign of the “enthusiasm gap” that the president is working so hard to close, was little more than half full.

About 8,000 people attended the Democratic National Committee’s Moving America Forward’ rally at Cleveland State University’s Wolstein Center, a hall where the capacity is 13,000. The rafters were largely empty.

Organizers noted the president was competing on a Sunday afternoon with church, football and Halloween.Sorry, but I don't think that's the reason...

Meet The New Czars, Same As The Old Ones

Twenty years after they got rid of Communism, Russia is still muddling through:The current government has made progress in fixing the economy and reducing the atmosphere of lawlessness. But corruption is still rampant, and the newly centralized government is seen as a return to autocratic rule of the past. The problem with autocratic strongmen is that they tend to stay in power long past the point where they are effective. The czars and communists both suffered from this, and it is feared that new "democratic dictatorship" will do the same.
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A new mayor in Moscow (the old one had been in power for over a decade, but had gone against the national leadership and was dismissed) has said he will clean up police corruption and inefficiency. As part of that effort, 12 percent of Moscow police (11,900) will be fired. Cops taking bribes is only part of the problem here. A larger issue was police jobs becoming political patronage, with a proliferation of different police forces …

Reporters Just Don't Understand

Suppose there was a revolution in Canada-and the media were totally caught off guard?The people who work in much of the major media – the CBC, the Toronto Star, even my own beloved paper – were stunned by the Ford tsunami. After all, the polls had predicted a squeaker. But there’s another reason they didn’t see the big wave coming. Very few of these people live or work outside downtown Toronto. Very few ever hang around with someone who voted for Mr. Ford and will own up to it. They remind me of the super-smart editorial writers at The New York Times who are sincerely convinced that Tea Partiers are dangerous crackpots – even though they’ve never met any.

The media think they understand why people voted as they did. As one Toronto Star pundit helpfully explained, the voters – Ford voters, that is – “were full of largely pointless rage.” Only pointless rage could explain why voters ignored the editorial endorsements of two leading newspapers, as well as a long line of former mayors who…

The Eleventh Hour

The clock is ticking. The Democrats seem to be imploding. And the usual suspects are having really bad days:This is going to be terrible. In fact, future historians will probably look back at the 2010 election as a catastrophe for America, one that condemned the nation to years of political chaos and economic weakness…

In fact, if they get their way, we’ll get the worst of both worlds: They’ll refuse to do anything to boost the economy now, claiming to be worried about the deficit, while simultaneously increasing long-run deficits with irresponsible tax cuts — cuts they have already announced won’t have to be offset with spending cuts.

So if the elections go as expected next week, here’s my advice: Be afraid. Be very afraid.Hmm. Maybe Stephen Colbert has a point...

Bloggin' In The Years: 1800

This year's Presidential contest has become nothing if not brutal between the two candidates. Witness the ferocity of their attacks upon each other:



Perhaps future generations will see more civility-or, perhaps not...

The Hand Of Clinton

How desperate was Bill Clinton (and apparently the White House) to stop Rubio's rise in Florida? He tried to get the Democratic nominee to quit and support Charlie Crist instead:Clinton campaigned with Meek in Florida on October 19 and 20, and thought he had won Meek over in an evening conversation the night they spent together in Jacksonville. But as the week wore on, Meek lost his enthusiasm for the arrangement, spurred in part, a third Democratic source said, by his wife’s belief that he could still win the race. Clinton spoke with Meek again at week’s end, three Democrats said, and again Meek said he would drop out…

The Crist, Meek and Clinton camps even set a date for an endorsement rally: the following Tuesday, October 26. Meek was to give Crist his blessing and explain to his disappointed supporters — many of whom deeply distrust the governor, who was elected as a Republican — that their votes could save the Senate for the Democrats and save America from the rise of Rubio, …

The Left Gene

Researchers claim they've found the long sought-after liberal gene:According to scientists at UC San Diego and Harvard University, "ideology is affected not just by social factors, but also by a dopamine receptor gene called DRD4." That and how many friends you had during high school.

The study was led by UCSD's James Fowler and focused on 2,000 subjects from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Scientists matched the subjects' genetic information with "maps" of their social networks. According to researchers, they determined that people "with a specific variant of the DRD4 gene were more likely to be liberal as adults." However, the, subjects were only more likely to have leanings to the left if they were also socially active during adolescence.

"It is the crucial interaction of two factors -- the genetic predisposition and the environmental condition of having many friends in adolescence -- that is associated with being…

Who Killed The Great Pumpkin?

With the holiday right around the corner, a relevant look at how the nannystate wrecked Halloween:Think of how Halloween used to be the one day of the year when gaggles of kids took to the streets by themselves—at night even. Big fun! Low cost! But once the party moved inside, to keep kids safe from the nonexistent poisoners, in came all the nonsense. The battery-operated caskets. The hired witch. The Costco veggie trays and plastic everything else. Halloween went from hobo holiday to $6 billion extravaganza.

And it blazed the way for adult-supervised everything else. Let kids make their own fun? Not anymore! Let’s sign our toddlers up for “movement” classes! Let’s bring on the extracurricular activities, travel soccer and manicure parties for the older kids. Once Halloween got outsourced to adults, no kids-only activity was safe. Goodbye sandlot, hello batting coach! . . . We can kill off Halloween, or we can accept that it isn’t dangerous and give it back to the kids. Then maybe we …

The Elite Brigade

Megan McArdle on why elites are so often out of touch:Elites are often missing crucial knowledge, and unaware of it. In some ways, that effect is more pronounced than it used to be, with more and more of the elites drawn from a narrow class of extremely well-educated people from a handful of metropolitan areas, few of whom have ever, say, been responsible for a profit and loss statement, or tried to bring a gas station into compliance with local and federal EPA regulations. In a world where your primary output is words, it is easy to imagine a smoothly operating process based on really smart rule-making. And there's a certain impatience with the grimy, self interested folks who complain about the regulations imposed for the good of society--a certain forgetting that in aggregate, those whiners are society. In essence, elites are always missing one vital piece of information: what it is like to be someone who is not in the elite.
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The problem is not that the elites are ven…

Haunted By Healthcare

It's become the proverbial albatross around the necks of those who supported it:There’s no doubt that the health care bill is unpopular. A new Battleground Poll shows 54 percent opposed to it, 40 percent strongly. This weeks' Society for Human Resource Management/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll, conducted with the Pew Research Center, showed voters favor repealing the law by a 10-point margin, 51 to 41 percent. Republicans have been hammering Democrats across the country over their votes for the legislation, even in solidly Democratic states and districts. Of the many Democratic lawmakers in trouble, only a brave and principled few, such as Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., and Rep. Scott Murphy, D-N.Y., have even mentioned their support for the bill – and the latest polls have both trailing in their reelection bids.

By contrast, Democrats who opposed the bill are in surprisingly decent shape, given the lousy political environment. Many of the anti-health care Demo…

Looking For A Few Good Fools

What's one of the best ways to beat the terrorists? By exposing their incompetence:To be sure, some terrorists are steely and skilled—people like Mohamed Atta, the careful and well-trained head of the 9/11 hijackers. Their leaders and recruiters can be lethally subtle and manipulative, but the quiet truth is that many of the deluded foot soldiers are foolish and untrained, perhaps even untrainable. Acknowledging this fact could help us tailor our counterterrorism priorities—and publicizing it could help us erode the powerful images of strength and piety that terrorists rely on for recruiting and funding.
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Current U.S. public diplomacy centers on selling America to the Muslim world, but we should also work to undermine some of the myths built up around our enemies by highlighting their incompetence, their moral failings, and their embarrassing antics. Beyond changing how the Muslim world perceives terrorists, we can help ourselves make smarter counterterrorism choices by being …

On The Road Again

Katie Couric, among the commoners:Rick Kaplan, her executive producer, says that “when she’s on the road—in Iraq with David Petraeus—she has a great way with people. People like her and she likes them. There are anchors who consider being on the road a pain in the butt. She really looks for opportunities to feel the earth and touch people.”

That’s why Couric has spent recent weeks in Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston and New Brunswick, New Jersey. She is touring what she calls “this great unwashed middle of the country” in an effort to divine the mood of the midterms.

Therein lies a key reason why Couric has sometimes struggled in her current job. She’s always seemed constrained by the rigid, 22-minute format, a far cry from her freewheeling Today performances over a decade and a half. So she has devised ways to slip out of her $15 million-a-year prison—launching a Web show, engaging on Twitter, and getting out in the field.It's nice to know that she cares about the little people. Bei…

The Final Days

It's getting nasty out there as the various races come down to the wire. First, there's this:Some voters in Boulder City complained on Monday that their ballot had been cast before they went to the polls, raising questions about Clark County's electronic voting machines.

Voter Joyce Ferrara said when they went to vote for Republican Sharron Angle, her Democratic opponent, Sen. Harry Reid's name was already checked.

Ferrara said she wasn't alone in her voting experience. She said her husband and several others voting at the same time all had the same thing happen.

"Something's not right," Ferrara said. "One person that's a fluke. Two, that's strange. But several within a five minute period of time -- that's wrong."

Clark County Registrar of Voters Larry Lomax said there is no voter fraud, although the issues do come up because the touch-screens are sensitive. For that reason, a person may not want to have their fingers linger too …

The Afghan Money Trail

Hamid Karzai knows where the money comes from:Afghanistan – Afghan President Hamid Karzai acknowledged on Monday that he receives millions of dollars in cash from Iran, adding that Washington gives him "bags of money" too because his office lacks funds.

U.S. officials said the money flowing from Tehran was further proof that Iran is playing a double game in Afghanistan — wooing the government while helping Taliban insurgents who are fighting U.S. and NATO forces.

The United States has itself used cash as a weapon in the wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq — from local development projects to win public support, to salaries for Iraqi insurgents who switched sides, to cash payoffs to influential community leaders willing to back the U.S. and its allies.

Karzai said that once or twice a year, Iran gives his office $700,000 to $975,000 for official presidential expenses.

"This is transparent. This is something that I've even discussed while I was at Camp David with Presid…

Not Your Grandfather's Great Depression

Virginia Postrel puts things in perspective:Americans have a lot of stuff—so much, in fact, that getting it under control has become a major cultural fantasy. Witness the Container Store, whose aisles of closet systems and colorful boxes peddle dreams as seductive as any fashion shoot. Or consider shows like “Clean House,” on the Style Network, where hosts cajole, browbeat and bribe homeowners into getting rid of half their things and organizing the rest. . . . In today’s sour economy, however, what once seemed like waste is starting to look like wealth: assets to draw on when times get tough (and not just because of all those ads promising top dollar for your gold jewelry). Material abundance, it turns out, produces economic resilience. Even if today’s recession approached Great Depression levels of unemployment, the hardship wouldn’t be as severe, because today’s consumers aren’t living as close to the edge.Of course, this doesn't mean that times still aren't tough-just that…

Know The Enemy

Obama wants Hispanics to remember who the "Bad guys" are:In a radio interview that aired on Univision on Monday, Mr. Obama sought to assure Hispanics that he would push an immigration overhaul after the midterm elections, despite fierce Republican opposition.

“If Latinos sit out the election instead of saying, ‘We’re gonna punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us,’ if they don’t see that kind of upsurge in voting in this election, then I think it’s gonna be harder and that’s why I think it’s so important that people focus on voting on November 2.”

Referring specifically to Republicans such as Senator John McCain, who are stressing border security and supporting strict immigration laws like Arizona’s anti-illegal immigration measure, Mr. Obama said, “Those aren’t the kinds of folks who represent our core American values.”Well, at least he didn't call McCain an out-and-out racist. That would be, you, know, u…

The Silent Minority

Have two years of Obama and the 2010 elections finally emboldened Hollywood's conservative community?While a smattering of celebrities are trying to bolster Democrats in what may, in the end, be a death march to Election Day, it's entertainment figures from the right who've commandeered media attention.

"On this part of the spectrum, it is stronger than it has ever been," says writer-director Lionel Chetwynd, a longtime industry conservative whose involvement stretches back three decades.
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Some of the most enduring stars who lean to the center or to the right, such as Clint Eastwood, keep working. Jon Voight, who has addressed Tea Party rallies and even accused Obama of having "promoted anti-Semitism throughout the world," followed up a regular role on "24" with one on the short-lived "Lone Star." "Wheel of Fortune" host Pat Sajak more genially comments on such things as taxes and race relations in online blog posts --…

Slacking Is Our Business

The Obama Administration wants you-to remain unemployed:Congressional Budget Office director Doug Elmendorf said Friday that ObamaCare includes work disincentives likely to shrink the amount of labor used in the economy.

In a speech on ObamaCare’s economic impact outside the health care sector, Elmendorf said that those effects will primarily be related to the labor market and “will probably be small.”

Factoring in additional demand for workers in health care and insurance, CBO estimates that “the legislation, on net, will reduce the amount of labor used in the economy by roughly half a percent,” he said.

The reason: The expansion of Medicaid and new health insurance subsidies will reduce “the amount of labor that workers choose to supply.”In other words, Obamacare's goal is to turn us into...France.

You Say You Want A Revolution

There's a nutbar in every crowd:Republican congressional candidate Stephen Broden stunned his party Thursday, saying he would not rule out violent overthrow of the government if elections did not produce a change in leadership.

In a rambling exchange during a TV interview, Broden, a South Dallas pastor, said a violent uprising "is not the first option," but it is "on the table." That drew a quick denunciation from the head of the Dallas County GOP, who called the remarks "inappropriate."

Broden, a first-time candidate, is challenging veteran incumbent Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson in Dallas' heavily Democratic 30th Congressional District. Johnson's campaign declined to comment on Broden.

In the interview, Brad Watson, political reporter for WFAA-TV (Channel 8), asked Broden about a tea party event last year in Fort Worth in which he described the nation's government as tyrannical.

"We have a constitutional remedy," Broden said then.…

Harry The Saviour

So here's Harry Reid, making a somewhat dubious claim:



But even if it worked, who really saved us? Hint: It wasn't Harry.

National Politically Correct Radio

It's no secret that NPR has long had a liberal bias. Now they're stepping in it:NPR chief executive Vivian Schiller is defending the firing of news analyst Juan Williams after his comments on the Fox News Channel, saying his feelings about Muslims are between him and “his psychiatrist or his publicist.”

Schiller spoke Thursday at the Atlanta Press Club. She said Williams’ firing is not a reflection of his comments that he gets nervous when he sees people in Muslim garb on an airplane.

She says she has no problem with people taking controversial positions, but that such opinions should not come from NPR reporters or news analysts. Schiller says Williams is a news analyst, not a commentator or columnist.He spoke his mind, so obviously Williams must be crazy. Bernie Goldberg responds:Here's a bulletin, NPR: Lots and lots and lots of Americans feel the same way as Juan Williams. And that includes lots and lots of liberals. And probably a lot of liberals who work at NPR. Juan&#…

Credit Where Credit Is Due

When don't you blame your predecessor? When you can take credit for something they did:Out of 70 major wind farms that received the $4.4 billion in federal energy grants through the stimulus program, public records show that 11, which received a total of $600 million, erected their wind towers during the Bush administration. And a total of 19 wind farms, which received $1.3 billion, were built before any of the stimulus money was distributed. Yet all the jobs at these wind farms are counted in the administration's figures for jobs created by the stimulus.

In testimony to Congress earlier this year, the Department of Energy's senior adviser on the stimulus plan, Matt Rogers, touted the wind farm program for creating as many as 50,000 jobs. He acknowledges that these figures were provided by a wind industry trade and lobbying group. The trade group, in turn, cites a government study, which found that most of the jobs are short term.

The Investigative Reporting Workshop at Am…

The Age Of Shoddy

If Chicago is to be taken as a model for stimulus projects, there's a problem:A new report by the Department of Energy has found serious problems in stimulus-funded weatherization work -- problems so severe that they have resulted in homes that are not only not more energy efficient but are actually dangerous for people to live in.

The study, by the Department's inspector general, examined the work of what's called the Weatherization Assistance Program, or WAP, in Illinois. Last year, the Department awarded Illinois $242 million, which was expected to pay for the weatherization of 27,000 homes. Specifically, Energy Department inspectors took a close look at the troubled operations of the Community and Economic Development Association of Cook County, known as CEDA, which is the largest recipient of weatherization money in Illinois with $91 million to weatherize 12,500 homes. (Cook County is, of course, home to Chicago.)

The findings are grim. "Our testing revealed su…

All Tomorrow's Tea Parties

Meet Moe Tucker, conservative rebel:No country can provide all things for all citizens. There comes a point where it just isn't possible, and it's proven to be a failure everywhere it's been tried. I am not oblivious to the plight of the poor, but I don't see any reason/sense to the idea that everyone has to have everything, especially when the economy is so bad. I see that philosophy as merely a ploy to control.

My family was damn poor when I was growing up on Long Island. There were no food stamps, no Medicaid, no welfare. If you were poor, you were poor. You didn't have a TV, you didn't have five pairs of shoes, you didn't have Levi's, you didn't have a phone; you ate Spam, hot dogs and spaghetti. We all survived! I am not against food stamps, welfare or Medicaid, if only they would oversee these programs properly!

I am also against the government taking over the student loan program, car companies, bailouts and the White House taking control of …

Save Our Welfare State

In France, the kids are revolting:Masked youths clashed with police and set fires in cities across France on Tuesday as protests against a proposed hike in the retirement age took an increasingly radical turn. Hundreds of airline flights were canceled, long lines formed at gas stations and train service in many regions was cut in half.

President Nicolas Sarkozy pledged to crack down on "troublemakers" and guarantee public order, raising the possibility of more confrontations with young rioters after a week of disruptive but largely nonviolent demonstrations.

Sarkozy also vowed to ensure that fuel was available to everyone. Some 4,000 gas stations were out of gas Tuesday afternoon, the environment minister said. The prime minister said oil companies agreed to pool gasoline stocks to try to get the dry gas stations filled again.

Prime Minister Francois Fillon said, "The government will continue to dislodge protesters blocking the fuel depots. ... No one has the right t…

Get Out the Vote

A field trip-or indoctrination?Three van loads of Hughes High students were taken last week – during school hours – to vote and given sample ballots only for Democratic candidates and then taken for ice cream, a Monday lawsuit alleges.

The complaint was made by Thomas Brinkman Jr., a Republican candidate for Hamilton County auditor, and the Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending & Taxes against Cincinnati Public Schools.

“They plan to bring four more high schools (to vote) this week,” Christopher Finney, COAST attorney, said Monday after filing the suit.
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The suit alleges three van loads of Hughes High students arrived at the Downtown Board of Elections offices at 1 p.m. Wednesday, supervised by a school employee. School lets out at 3:15 p.m.

When they got out of the vans, the students, the suit alleges, also were accompanied by adults who appeared to be campaign workers or supporters for U.S. Rep. Steve Driehaus, D-West Price Hill, the congressman being challenged this fal…

The Evil One

Rush Limbaugh is puzzled by Obama's odd facial expressions:There are some pictures on the Drudge Report. I'm gonna hold them up here to the Dittocam. I've got too many things to do here, but, folks, these pictures, they look demonic. And I don't say this lightly. There are a couple pictures, and the eyes, I'm not saying anything here, but just look. It is strange that these pictures would be released. Snerdley is looking at them and ... see what I'm talking about? It's very, very, very strange. An American president has never had facial expressions like this. At least we've never seen photos of an American president with facial expressions like this.Of course, Drudge has a history of posting pictures of people he doesn't like in unflattering poses, but...this is kind of creepy, even creepier than when he simply looked arrogant.

Bloggin' In The Years: 1985

The late Yul Brynner delivers a message from beyond the grave:

Publius Anonymous

Darn those unknown authors:



Heh. As Reason TV asks:Is anonymous political speech really that new - or that bad?

Indeed, anonymous political speech isn't just a great American tradition. It helped create the United States of America. The Federalist Papers, the series of essays that influenced the adoption of the Constitution, were published under the pseudonym "Publius" (in reality James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay). The anti-Constitution position was in turn articulated by "the Federal Farmer," whose identity remains a mystery.Apparently it's only bad if the other side is doing it.

The Setting Sun

Is Japan a vision of the future?Few nations in recent history have seen such a striking reversal of economic fortune as Japan. The original Asian success story, Japan rode one of the great speculative stock and property bubbles of all time in the 1980s to become the first Asian country to challenge the long dominance of the West.

But the bubbles popped in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and Japan fell into a slow but relentless decline that neither enormous budget deficits nor a flood of easy money has reversed. For nearly a generation now, the nation has been trapped in low growth and a corrosive downward spiral of prices, known as deflation, in the process shriveling from an economic Godzilla to little more than an afterthought in the global economy.

Now, as the United States and other Western nations struggle to recover from a debt and property bubble of their own, a growing number of economists are pointing to Japan as a dark vision of the future. Even as the Federal Reserve cha…

Democrats, Defund Thyselves

You know all that criticism that Obama was giving the Chamber of Commerce? Well:Democratic leaders in the House and Senate criticizing GOP groups for allegedly funneling foreign money into campaign ads have seen their party raise more than $1 million from political action committees affiliated with foreign companies.

House and Senate Democrats have received approximately $1.02 million this cycle from such PACs, according to an analysis compiled for The Hill by the Center for Responsive Politics. House and Senate GOP leaders have taken almost $510,000 from PACs on the same list.

The PACS are funded entirely by contributions from U.S. employees of subsidiaries of foreign companies. All of the contributions are made public under Federal Elections Commission rules, and the PACs affiliated with the subsidiaries of foreign corporations are governed by the same rules that American firms' PACs or other PACs would face.Of course, since these are Democrats, maybe those rules don't apply…

Will The Real Libertarians Please Stand Up?

When it comes to whether or not the success of the Tea Party means that the Republican Party is moving in a more libertarian direction, Matt Welch is skeptical:If anything, the rise of the unwashed Tea Party types indicates that Republicans have lost the ability and/or incentive to produce credible candidates who take spending cuts anywhere near as seriously as tax cuts. Until that happens, and until anyone with an R by his or her name shows any inclination to cut back on defense spending, war making, and the stockpiling of Executive Power, let alone getting the hell out of whole swaths of private peacable transactions between consenting humans, the most enthusiasm you'll get from me is seeing politicians and parties get fired, while their captive customers increasingly defect from their tired, predatory bullshit.I tend to agree, especially when it comes to social issues, where some Republicans are still somewhat screwy. But that doesn't mean they still can't learn-if they…

The Obama Uncertainty Principle

Ken Langone, a co-founder of Home Depot, responds to Obama's business bashing:Your insistence that your policies are necessary and beneficial to business is utterly at odds with what you and your administration are saying elsewhere. You pick a fight with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, accusing it of using foreign money to influence congressional elections, something the chamber adamantly denies. Your U.S. attorney in New York, Preet Bahrara, compares investment firms to Mexican drug cartels and says he wants the power to wiretap Wall Street when he sees fit. And you drew guffaws of approving laughter with your car-wreck metaphor, recently telling a crowd that those who differ with your approach are "standing up on the road, sipping a Slurpee" while you are "shoving" and "sweating" to fix the broken-down jalopy of state.

That short-sighted wavering—between condescending encouragement one day and hostile disparagement the next—creates uncertainty that, a…

If The Crime Doesn't Fit, You Must Acquit

Call it a victory for free speech:In a surprising twist, the prosecution in the trial of Dutch MP Geert Wilders asked for complete acquittal today. With this, it strongly condemned the decision of a higher court to prosecute Wilders.

In a two-day long precise analysis of the remarks of Wilders, who had to stand trial for discrimination against Muslims and incitement to hatred, the prosecuting officers explained to the court that Wilders may have been insulting and provocative, but his words were within the limitations of Dutch law.

This doesn’t mean that the trial has stopped — next week the defense will continue. The Dutch law system demands a full cycle of prosecution and defense, and will end with an extensive verdict.

Though — in theory — the court could still convict Wilders, it now seems almost impossible.I hope the Canadian Human Rights Commission is paying attention...

The Non Comeback Kid

Victor Davis Hanson notes how different the tone of-and reaction to-the Endless Campaign is now from the bygone days of Hope and Change:Gone are the faux columns and classical backdrops. There are no more vero possumus seals (now they fall off the podium). All pretense of “no more red states, no more blue states” nonpartisanship has long ago been dropped. Even the shrill, boilerplate evocation of “Bush-Cheney did it” sounds strained. The blatant divisive appeal to unions, young people, and “black folks” is now unapologetic. Them versus Us is the new theme. Gone is the pretense of inclusivity. Even the fainting now seems rigged rather than spontaneous, the faux cadences forced and more Rev. Wrightish rather than inspired. The eyes of the crowd roll, and have lost their glazed zombie look of 2008. It all reminds me of the failed comeback tour of the proverbial fading rock star, the desperate promos for the sinking supposed blockbuster Hollywood movie, or perhaps something akin to Jerry …

Barney Frank's Excellent Adventure

Along with not being able to win a debate, Barney Frank makes no apologies for being a hypocrite:U.S. Rep. Barney Frank didn’t get just a free luxury jet ride to the Virgin Islands with a financier who got a $200 million federal bailout, he also stayed at the billionaire’s tropical mansion, his aide said.

“They’re friends. Are you not supposed to have friends if they’re wealthy?” Frank spokesman Harry Gural said of the Newton Democrat’s relationship with S. Donald Sussman.

The Herald reported yesterday that Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, flew to the Virgin Islands last Christmas on Sussman’s $25 million Dassault Falcon 2000EX luxury jet.
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Frank, who has become the face of the unpopular federal bailouts, told the Herald the trip was “personal,” saying he and his partner, Jim Ready, are friends of Sussman and his fiancee, U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine). Gural said all four stayed at Sussman’s St. Thomas manse.Of course it's OK to have wealthy fri…

The No BS Zone

Bill O'Reilly's been there before, but this time a debate over the NYC mosque/community center got testy:"Seventy percent of Americans don't want that mosque down there," O'Reilly said.

When asked why, O’Reilly explained that the mosque was not supported by the majority of Americans because its location was “inappropriate."

When Goldberg asked why it was inappropriate, citing 70 Muslims who died in the attacks, O'Reilly said: "Because Muslims killed us on 9/11. That's why.”

Goldberg responded, “That is such bulls**t."

"Muslims didn't kill us? Is that what you're saying?" O'Reilly asked.

"Extremists did that!” Goldberg said.

As the conversation became more heated, Behar got up from her seat beside O'Reilly.

"I don’t want to sit here right now, I don’t," Behar said. "I am outraged by that statement.”

Goldberg joined her colleague and the two walked off stage.They're both right, and O'…

Volunteers

Police departments are looking for a few good people:Police agencies across the country are recruiting thousands of civilians for a growing number of duties previously performed by uniformed cops, in an unusual concession to local budget cuts.
The positions — some paid and others volunteer — are transforming every-day citizens into crime-scene investigators, evidence gatherers and photographers in what some analysts suggest is a striking new trend in American policing.

"It's all being driven by the economy and we should expect to see more of it," says University of Pittsburgh law professor David Harris, who analyzes law enforcement practices. "As budgets are squeezed, an increasing number of duties are going to be moved off officers' plates."

The chief opponents of the movement are police union leaders who believe cash-strapped agencies are lowering standards and undermining professionalism in the ranks. In some cases, the civilian positions circumvent pay …

Don't Ask, Don't Enforce

A federal judge does what Obama wouldn't/couldn't:A federal judge issued a worldwide injunction Tuesday stopping enforcement of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, ending the military's 17-year-old ban on openly gay troops.

U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips' landmark ruling was widely cheered by gay rights organizations that credited her with getting accomplished what President Obama and Washington politics could not.

"This order from Judge Phillips is another historic and courageous step in the right direction, a step that Congress has been noticeably slow in taking," said Alexander Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United, the nation's largest organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans.I fully expect the Obama administration's Justice Department to challenge this, but shouldn't Obama himself be happy? He said he'd be:



"It's important to be honest with our friends." He probaly wishe…

Looking For Scapegoats In All The Wrong Places

If that's what Obama was doing, it seems to have backfired:In a potential sign of Democratic unease with the White House midterm political strategy, some of President Obama's allies have begun to question his sustained attack on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has long claimed bipartisanship but is being increasingly identified as a GOP ally.

Some Democrats on Capitol Hill worry that the White House is going too far in charging that the politically powerful business lobby may be using foreign money to fuel its election efforts. The charge ignites strong feelings among job-hungry voters. But Democrats are concerned that it may be overstated and could harm moderate Democrats in swing districts.
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Democrats expressing reservations have worked on behalf of moderate candidates with business backing. They recalled past attacks on former President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore for receiving foreign money and warned that White House charges now could lead to GOP reprisals,…

Going, Going...

Oh, how they turn:More than 4 of 10 likely voters who say they once considered themselves Obama backers now are either less supportive or say they no longer support him at all, according to a Bloomberg National Poll conducted Oct. 7-10.

Three weeks before the Nov. 2 congressional elections that Republicans are trying to make a referendum on Obama, fewer than half of likely voters approve of the president’s job performance. Likely voters are more apt to say Obama’s policies have harmed rather than helped the economy. Among those who say they are most enthusiastic about voting this year, 6 of 10 say the Democrat has damaged the economy.
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The poll shows that almost two-thirds of voters believe the country is on the wrong track and unemployment is the top concern for about half the electorate. The budget deficit, which was $1.291 trillion for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 and $1.416 trillion for 2009, ranks as the second most pressing issue, cited by 27 percent.Not good news, …

When In Doubt, Read

Byron York has a shockingly simple idea: Make Congresscritters actually read their own bills:It wouldn’t be hard to do. Republican Rep. John Culberson and Democratic Rep. Brian Baird already have a measure pending, H.R. 554 — aka the “Read the Bill” bill — that would require that the final language of a bill be available on the Internet for 72 hours before it is voted on. So far, it hasn’t passed.

Of course, the Pledge can’t promise that every lawmaker will actually read every bill. If enacted, it would just assure that all have a chance to do so. And even if lawmakers take the time to read a particular bill, there is always the question of whether they will understand it. While some things Congress passes are pretty simple, others are quite complex. Bills amend obscure sections of legislation that has been passed, amended and amended again over the years. Complicated formulas for Medicare are adjusted in ways that can cost the taxpayers billions. Byzantine tax provisions are laid out…

Retired Health Care

The unintended consequences of Obamacare just keep coming:3M Co., citing new federal health laws, said Monday it won't cover retirees with its corporate health-insurance plan starting in 2013.

Instead, the company will direct retirees to Medicare-backed insurance programs, and will provide reimbursement for that coverage. It'll also reimburse retirees who are too young for Medicare; the company didn't provide further details.

The company made the changes known in a memo to employees Friday; news of the move was reported in The Wall Street Journal and confirmed Monday by 3M spokeswoman Jackie Berry.

In its memo, the company said the new health-reform act would create new opportunities for people in their 50s and 60s to find affordable insurance.Of course, given that Obamacare's goal seems to be to give the people what it wants, rather than what they want, the question remains as to how these people will now be able to find such affordable insurance schemes in the future…

Sounding The Alarm

So who's the latest person to become concerned about our fiscal future? None other than Obama's own Federal Reserve Chairman:History makes clear that countries that continually spend beyond their means suffer slower growth in incomes and living standards and are prone to greater economic and financial instability.

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If current policy settings are maintained, and under reasonable assumptions about economic growth, the federal budget will be on an unsustainable path in coming years, with the ratio of federal debt held by the public to national income rising at an increasing pace. Moreover, as the national debt grows, so will the associated interest payments, which in turn will lead to further increases in projected deficits. Expectations of large and increasing deficits in the future could inhibit current household and business spending--for example, by reducing confidence in the longer-term prospects for the economy or by increasing uncertainty about future tax burdens an…

Some Speech Is More Protected Than Others

I'd hate to think this is where we're headed:Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders went on trial Monday for alleged hate speech, even as his popularity and influence in the Netherlands are near all time highs.

Prosecutors say Wilders incited hatred against Muslims with remarks comparing Islam to Naziism and by calling for a ban on the Quran. Wilders argues he has a right to freedom of speech and his remarks were within the bounds of the law.

If convicted, he faces up to a year in prison. He could keep his seat in parliament.

On his Twitter account, Wilders said the start of his trial was a "terrible day."

"The freedom of expression of at least 1.5 million people is standing trial together with me," he wrote, referring to the voters that made his Freedom Party the third-largest in national elections in June.

But his lawyer, Bram Moszkowicz, told presiding judge Jan Moors at the start of the trial that Wilders would not answer questions during the trial.

The Engine Of Unemployment

Is this just temporary? Or a sign of our economic future?The true figure of our jobs predicament is 17 percent: the combination of the unemployed and the underemployed—those who can only find part-time work. That 17 percent is the highest figure since the 1930s.

Men are bearing the brunt of the crunch. Recently, their unemployment rate was 11.4 percent; women's was 8.8 percent, making for the largest jobless gender gap since tracking became possible in 1948. Why? Because men predominate in manufacturing and construction, the hardest-hit sectors, which have lost almost 4 million jobs since December 2007. Women, by contrast, are a majority in recession-resistant fields such as education and healthcare, which gained slightly fewer than 600,000 jobs during the same period.

Finally, 2 1/2 years into the most stimulative monetary and fiscal policy in our history—with fiscal deficits running at twice the rate that President Franklin Roosevelt ran during the Great Depression—the economy, …

911 Is A Joke

Chuck D might have been more right than he knew, at least when it comes to folks in Florida:According to the Broward Sheriff's Office call center, nearly half the 911 calls they receive are for things not quite a life or death situation - unless you consider a fast food order an emergency.

To paraphrase the immortal words of Flavor Flav, 911 callers are a joke in this town.

"My toilet's overflowing, what do I do? That's my personal favorite," BSO Sheriff Al Lamberti said.

While it's a stretch, a busted toilet at least could, conceivably, be considered an emergency. But there is no rationale for the number calls that sound something like this:

"I ordered chicken nuggets and they don't have chicken nuggets," one woman called 911 to report.

The fast food offenses are usually the most common and often the most annoying because people think it's really an emergency worthy of 911, one operator said.

"Screaming in my ear, 'I wanted the sau…

The Exploding Greens

Suddenly, blowing people up who disagree with you isn't quite as popular as it was:The charities that backed a Richard Curtis film for the 10:10 environmental campaign said today that they were "absolutely appalled" when they saw the director's four-minute short, which was withdrawn from circulation amid a storm of protest.

The film, entitled No Pressure, debuted on the 10:10 website on Friday. Featuring a cast including film star Gillian Anderson and England footballer Peter Crouch, with music donated by Radiohead and shot by a 40-strong professional film crew led by director Dougal Wilson, it was intended to galvanise viewers into taking personal action to reduce their own carbon footprint.

In several graphic scenes, committed environmental campaigners use a detonator to blow up recalcitrant members of the public, including two schoolchildren and the ex-footballer David Ginola. Distribution plans for UK cinemas have now been scrapped.

The charity ActionAid, which c…

The Other Great Depression

It seems Americans are literally in a sad state of affairs:Nearly one in 10 Americans is depressed, and one in 30 meet the criteria for major depression, with the rate higher among the unemployed and those who can't work, a study said Thursday.

Nine percent of more than 235,000 adults surveyed between 2006 and 2008 across 45 U.S. states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, met the criteria for depression, and 3.4 percent for "major" depression, according to the study by US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Among people who classified themselves as unable to work, nearly a quarter -- 22 percent -- met the criteria for major depression, as did nearly 10 percent of those who said they were unemployed.

Although the survey did not ask respondents why they were unable to work, study co-author and clinical psychologist Lela McKnight Eily said they were probably disabled or suffering from illness.Or it could be, you know, the economy...

The Green Terror

Good news! Osama bin Laden has apparently become an environmentalist:Osama bin Laden criticised relief efforts in Pakistan and called for action against climate change in what appeared to be a new audio tape from the al Qaeda leader issued on Friday in an Islamist forum.

The audio message, entitled "Pauses with the Method of Relief Work", was about 11 minutes long and was broadcast with a video showing still images of Bin Laden and images of natural disasters, the Islamist website used by al Qaeda said.
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Bin Laden also touches on global warming, the second time he is believed to have made climate change a prominent theme of one of his statements.

"The huge climate change is affecting our (Islamic) nation and is causing great catastrophes throughout the Islamic world," he says in the tape.Considering that he's been rotting away in a cave for the last nine years, he could certainly make the case that he's greener than Al Gore. And, since real envirowhacko…

Bloggin' In The Years: 1995

So the verdict is in. There has already been a lot of reaction, but to recap, here's a look back via David Letterman.

Rest And Relaxation

Because, you know, he's had so little:At a Democratic fundraiser Thursday night, the president said, "I'd appreciate a little break."

The fundraiser -- $30,400 per person -- was at the home of Linda Douglass, the former CBS and ABC News reporter who joined the Obama White House to sell national health care to a skeptical public. Douglass is now a top executive at Atlantic Media, the Washington-based company that runs The Atlantic, National Journal, and other publications. Douglass' husband, John Phillips, is a wealthy lawyer, and according to a White House pool report, he introduced Obama tonight by saying, "I can remember walking down those snowy streets of Des Moines in the primary…We sleep much better knowing that you are our president at this difficult time."

According to the pool report, Obama thanked Phillips for the work he and his wife have done for Team Obama. Then the president mentioned that Phillips and Douglass have an opulent place in Ital…

Career Suicide

That looks like what CNN's Rick Sanchez is intent on committing:Sanchez calls Stewart “a bigot,” then walks it back a bit, and he implies CNN is run by Jews.
Dominick was not just a radio show host – he is a CNN contributor who has a regular gig on John King, USA (more on that below), and he formerly was the warm up comic at The Daily Show. Which is why when Sanchez says “I think Jon Stewart’s a bigot” early in the interview, Dominick pushed back:Dominick: How is he a bigot?
Sanchez: I think he looks at the world through, his mom, who was a school teacher, and his dad, who was a physicist or something like that. Great, I’m so happy that he grew up in a suburban middle class New Jersey home with everything you could ever imagine.
Dominick: What group is he bigoted towards?
Sanchez: Everybody else who’s not like him. Look at his show, I mean, what does he surround himself with?A few minutes later, Sanchez takes back the word “bigot,” changing it to “prejudicial” and “uninformed.”

La…