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WEDNESDAY,  APRIL 28,  2010

BRITISH GOVERNMENT IN WORST CRISIS IN ITS HISTORY – AT 9:12 P.M. ET:  We regret to inform you that there may not always be an England, not after today's disastrous actions of the prime minister.  This is worse than the blitz, infinitely more depressing than Dunkirk, and far more humiliating than the loss of India.  The Times of London has the sordid, unspeakable story:

Gordon Brown prostrated himself as a “penitent sinner” yesterday after a brush with a voter triggered a calamitous chain of events that threatened to derail Labour on the eve of tonight’s pivotal TV debate.

The Prime Minister spent an unscheduled 45 minutes inside the terraced house of Gillian Duffy apologising to the Labour-supporting widow for insulting her behind her back.

His muttered description of her as a “bigoted woman," picked up by a microphone as he drove off from their combative but apparently friendly encounter, plunged Labour’s high command into its most serious crisis of the campaign.

Instead of pressing the party’s record on the economy before tonight’s final trial by television, the election machine was reduced to desperate firefighting as Lord Mandelson led a series of Cabinet ministers on to the airwaves. The Business Secretary said that Mr Brown had been wrong to criticise Mrs Duffy, whose mistake, on her way to buy a loaf of bread, had been to buttonhole the Prime Minister over the deficit, immigration and student debts.

A mortified Mr Brown issued six apologies over the next six hours, including one by e-mail to Labour supporters for letting them down. Despite saying sorry to Mrs Duffy over the telephone, he ignored aides and insisted on driving back to Rochdale from Manchester, abandoning his preparation for tonight’s third and final leaders’ debate, to atone in person for his blunder.

COMMENT:  How did England sink so low?  What does this mean for the Royal Navy?  The RAF?  James Bond?

I must consult with my religious texts.

April 28     Permalink

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THE "FIRST VICTIM" - YEAH, RIGHT – AT 8:15 P.M. ET:  There's a not-very-old saying in international politics:  "Germany was a Nazi country and Austria is a Nazi country. 

All right, it may be a bit of an exaggeration, but Austria has always portrayed itself as the "first victim" of Hitler when, in fact, the Austrians welcomed him with open arms.  Hitler was himself an Austrian.

Now Austria is acting very badly again, this time in regard to Iran.  "The first victim" of Nazism doesn't seem to think there's anything wrong in trading with, and even increasing its trade with, a nation whose leaders deny the Holocaust.  Austria has become Iran's best friend in Europe. 

My friend Simone Dinah Hartmann (a wonderful name) directs a superb group called STOP THE BOMB, which puts pressure on European governments and companies to end their relationships with the Iranian regime.  She is based in Vienna and reports, in a piece for The Wall Street Journal, just how much of a problem Austrian policy has become:

While the Western world is trying to rally international support for tougher sanctions against Tehran to stop its nuclear-weapons program, Austria seems to seek even closer ties with the mullahs. Instead of isolating the Islamic Republic, Vienna just welcomed Manouchehr Mottaki, Iran's foreign minister, who in 2006 gave the opening speech at Tehran's Holocaust denial conference...

...While most European countries have reduced their business ties with the mullahs, Austrian exports to Iran, including sophisticated machinery and electronic goods, rose by almost 6% in 2009, reaching approximately €350 million. That figure is even more astounding given that during last year's world financial crisis, Austrian exports to the rest of the world fell 20%.

I guess this isn't the Austria of "The Sound of Music."  We've been misled.

As "Azadi," the call for freedom, was heard throughout the streets of Tehran this summer, the Austrian Chambers of Commerce organized an Iran seminar to intensify business ties with the mullah dictatorship. During the visit of a high-ranking Iranian business delegation to Austria in March of last year, the president of the Chambers of Commerce, Christoph Leitl, who like Foreign Minister Spindelegger is a member of the conservative party, clearly stated his vision for future trade between the two countries: "Bilateral business relations between Austria and Iran are excellent, but still expandable." No wonder his Iranian counterpart Ali Naghi Khamoushi said a few years back that "Austria is for us the gateway to the European Union."

Not much about this in the American press, I'm afraid.  Austria gets away with it once more. 

Kurt Waldheim, the Austrian president whose term in office was darkened by revelations about his Nazi past, became the first Western head of state to pay the regime in Tehran a courtesy visit in 1991. Waldheim even placed a wreath at Ayatollah Khomeini's sarcophagus. His trip to Tehran paved the way for further visits by high-ranking politicians from other Western European countries-especially from Germany.

COMMENT:  It's a depressing record.  It's inexcusable.  But Austrians see a weak, indecisive Obama, and they know they can get away with it.  Groups like STOP THE BOMB publicize Europe's deceptions regarding Iran, and they need all the support we can give them.

April 28    Permalink

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AND NOW THE PAIN IN SPAIN – At 7:36 P.M. ET: I urge you to follow this story.  There is a debt crisis in European nations.  Greece needs to be bailed out.  If the crisis spreads, and it looks as if it may, it could destabilize the international financial system.  Now we learn that Spain is on the brink.

We are told that President Obama is following this closely.  Maybe he'll blame it on Israeli settlements.

From The New York Times: 

BERLIN — European leaders scrambled Wednesday to quell the market instability growing out of Greece’s debt crisis, with German officials seeking legislative approval for a major contribution to an international aid package that looks as if it could reach 120 billion euros ($160 billion) over the next three years.

One day after cutting Greece’s status to junk and downgrading Portugal, a major ratings agency also cut Spain’s debt rating by a notch and the euro reached a one-year low, underscoring how difficult it will be for Europe to contain problems that started in Greece.

“Every day which is lost is a day where the situation is getting worse and worse, not only in Greece but in the whole European Union,” said Dominique Strauss-Kahn, managing director of the International Monetary Fund. “It’s the confidence in the zone which is at stake and that’s why we need to act swiftly and strongly.”

COMMENT:  I don't want to gloat.  Well, actually I do.  But aren't these the same countries that are constantly lecturing us and ridiculing us?  Same old story.  Europe struts around feeling very superior, while its foundations are crumbling.

A number of European countries are in trouble.  Can this affect our recovery?  I'm not economist, but the impression I get from a number of news sources is, definitely yes.  Europe is one of our largest export markets, and if its economy slides, purchases of American goods will slide as well.

This will be a day-by-day thing.

April 28     Permalink

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OH LAWD, OBAMA GETS A MAJOR ENDORSEMENT – AT 10:15 A.M ET:  I don't know what we can do to counter this.  This will surely put Obama over the top.   Who is this new, exciting endorser?  From the Washington Post:

His Excellency Brother Leader Moammar Gaddafi, Guide of the First of September Great Revolution of the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya...

..."I really endorse and support the policies that he has adopted so far," Brother Leader said Monday afternoon in a video teleconference arranged by the World Affairs Councils of America. Gaddafi referred affectionately to the president as "our son Barack Obama," helpfully translating Obama's name from the Arabic: "Barakah -- blessing."

"We would like to greet the American people who voted for their son, Mr. Barack Obama," Gaddafi, resplendent in a burnt orange cape, informed the audience watching from the National Press Club. Speaking through an interpreter, the colonel continued: "He is from Africa, from an African descent."

From Africa? Birther alert!

Gaddafi was not done stirring up conspiracy theorists. "The Muslim world welcomed very much the arrival of Obama to the presidency, because the ordinary citizen knows that President Obama is a youth of an African descent," the Guide of the Revolution added. "He comes from, originally from a Muslim family, maybe even of an Arab origin. . . . And at least psychologically, it was very useful."

COMMENT:  You know, somehow I understand Gaddafi's endorsement.  It actually makes quite a bit of sense, a compliment we usually don't extend to Brother Leader. 

I don't think you'll see the White House bragging about this, but we can legitimately ask (can't we?) why a screwball like Gaddafi would be so enthusiastic about a president of the United States. 

The answer is pretty obvious.

April 28     Permalink

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WELL, THIS IS REFRESHING – AT LEAST A LITTLE BIT – AT 9:53 A.M. ET:  We report here often on the support that the MSM has given President Obama.  But The Politico begs to differ, claiming that a hostility has grown toward the president among members of the White House press corps.  Very interesting:

One of the enduring storylines of Barack Obama’s presidency, dating back to the earliest days of his candidacy, is that the press loves him.

“Most of you covered me. All of you voted for me,” Obama joked last year at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner.

But even then, only four months into his presidency, the joke fell flat. Now, a year later, with another correspondents’ dinner Saturday night likely to generate the familiar criticism of the press’s cozy relationship with power, the reality is even more at odds with the public perception.

President Obama and the media actually have a surprisingly hostile relationship – as contentious on a day-to-day basis as any between press and president in the last decade, reporters who cover the White House say.

Reporters say the White House is thin-skinned, controlling, eager to go over their heads and stingy with even basic information. All White Houses try to control the message. But this White House has pledged to be more open than its predecessors – and reporters feel it doesn’t live up to that pledge in several key areas.

COMMENT:  It's a long story, but well reported and worth reading.  The problem of bias, though, may not lie with the reporters as much as with their editors.  In the case of The New York Times, portrayed in the story as very close to the administration, it lies with the publisher, Pinch Sulzberger.

So, bottom line, how much will the hostility between the press corps and the White House mean when the chips are down and an election must be won?  I would suggest that there will be a kiss-and-make-up period, and that the media, eager to do its part for the political left, will buy in.  There won't be the same enthusiasm the next time as there was for Obama the last time, but it may not matter at all if we see a similar shaping of news stories and editorials.  For the real bottom line is that the press would rather have a cold, hostile liberal in power than a warm, courteous Republican. 

But the hostility that has grown up is surprising, and a testament to the incompetence and arrogance of this White House.

April 28     Permalink

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IT'S FOR THE KIDS – REMEMBER! - AT 8:58 A.M. ET:  Well, this didn't take long.  Some New Jersey students have decided to skip class so they can protest budget cuts and the massive rejection of school budgets in the garden state. 

Their anger is directed at heroic Governor Chris Christie, the newly elected Republican, who has actually decided to do something about New Jersey's financial crisis.  Christie, and some very angry voters, understand what "the kids" don't – that education budgets are often inflated, misdirected, and aren't necessarily related to the success of the schools. 

The New York Times gives, naturally, a loving welcome to "the kids," while providing absolutely no understanding of school budgets:

It was a silent call to arms: an easy-to-overlook message urging New Jersey students to take a stand against the budget cuts that threaten class sizes and choices as well as after-school activities. But some 18,000 students accepted the invitation posted last month on Facebook, the social media site better known for publicizing parties and sporting events. And on Tuesday many of them — and many others — walked out of class in one of the largest grass-roots demonstrations to hit New Jersey in years.

Oh, it's the sixties again.  Aren't you elated?  Get out those flowered jeans.  Snap on that Gene McCarthy button.  Everything old is new again.  We wonder how many of these students actually examined the budget of their own school district.  We wonder how many counted the "administrative staff" at district headquarters.  We wonder how many looked at pensions.

The protest disrupted classroom routines and standardized testing in some of the state’s biggest and best-known school districts, offering a real-life civics lesson that unfolded on lawns, sidewalks, parking lots and football fields.

Real-life civics lesson?  It's a great lesson to skip class and tests?  The New York Times has really sunk.

At Montclair High School, it meant nearly half of the 1,900 students gathered outside the school in the morning, with some chanting, “No more budget cuts.”

In the largest showing, thousands of high school students in Newark marched past honking cars stuck in midday traffic to fill the steps of City Hall under the watchful gaze of dozens of police officers.

The Newark school district, which spends well above the national average per pupil, had to be taken over by the state because of massive incompetence.  We don't recall any protests against that.

“It feels like he is taking money from us, and we’re already poor,” said Johanna Pagan, 16, a sophomore at West Side High School in Newark, who feared her school would lose teachers and extracurricular programs because of the governor’s cuts. “The schools here have bad reputations, and we need aid and we need programs to develop.”

That's the garbage they're taught by local "leaders," many of whom have racial agendas.  The schools have poor reputations because of a poor cultural atmosphere, not because of budget problems. 

Bret D. Schundler, the education commissioner, also urged schools to enforce attendance policies and not let students walk out of class. State education officials said they had a call from one district that had moved students taking standardized tests to another part of the building because of potential noise.

That pretty much nails what this was really about.   Who needs them tests?

The protests were initiated by a college student, Michelle Ryan Lauto, described by The Times as an aspiring actress.

Ms. Lauto, enrolled at Pace University, said she has always had an activist streak. In seventh grade, she tried — but failed — to organize a protest over a new dress code, and after President George W. Bush was re-elected in 2004, she wrote “Going to Canada, Be Back in 4 Years” on a T-shirt and wore it to class.

Go play Lady Macbeth and leave us alone.

April 28     Permalink

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BARONE ON DEAR LEADER'S PRIORITIES – AT 8:06 A.M. ET:  Michael Barone, astute as always, turns his attention to the pivot shot being employed by Barack Obama.  From the Washington Examiner:

In his first 14 months in office, Barack Obama worked to change public policy, with partial success...

...But he paid curiously little attention to the substance of the legislation. One-third of the stimulus money went to state and local governments -- i.e., to public employee unions -- which helped ensure that the bill would not hold down unemployment to the promised 8 percent. And the health care bill, we now learn from Health and Human Services Department actuaries, is going to increase spending rather than hold it down.

Now Obama seems to be pivoting toward legislative priorities chosen not for policy but for political reasons.

The pivot is apparent from how he has depicted the financial regulation bill before the Senate...

...Democrats need Republican votes to pass a bill, but have refused to make compromises so they can provoke roll call votes that they can use during campaign season to argue that Republicans are soft on Wall Street. Politics over policy.

And...

The Democratic National Committee has released a video in which Barack Obama calls for "reconnecting" with the coalition that elected him in 2008. He appeals to "young people, African-Americans, Latinos and women who powered our victory" to "stand together once again." Others evidently need not apply.

That video was demeaning and insulting to the groups mentioned – as if the only value they have is to help keep Obama in power. 

The policy achievements of the first 14 months of the Obama administration clearly have not energized these voters...

...So if policy doesn't work, try politics. Gallup reports that "very enthusiastic" voters favor Republicans 57 percent to 37 percent in congressional elections.  Will attacks on Wall Street, deep-sixing the cap-and-trade bill and getting beaten on immigration change that? The Obama Democrats hope so. But I wouldn't bet heavily on it.

COMMENT:  I'm not as sure as Barone is, although I'll gladly yield to his expertise.  But Republicans have yet to come up with a positive, optimistic, winning strategy.  Dem scare tactics have worked before and they can work again.  Don't want to lose your health care or your Social Security, do you?

And those Republican hawks.  You know, they could bring back the draft.  Have a son?

Don't put it past the Dems.  We're talking Chicago politics here.

April 28     Permalink

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THE EMPIRE ALSO VOTES – AT 7:37 A.M. ET:  As Sinatra might have put it, leave us we should not forget that Britain will have a general election on May 6th, a week from tomorrow. 

We hope for a conservative victory, although a conservative victory in the mother country is like a victory of moderate Democrats in America.  But a little bit right is better than the firm left of the opposition.

The polls show the conservatives ahead, but not by enough to have a parliamentary majority.  From The Telegraph:

A new poll today suggested that the Conservatives have significantly extended their lead over Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

The Populus/Times poll last night put the Conservatives on 36 per cent, up four points in a week. Labour was on 27, down one. The Lib Dems were on 28, down three.

On the Populus figures, the Tory lead over the scond-placed party has risen from one point to eight in a week.

However, figures put Mr Cameron still 29 seats short of a Commons majority.

With a uniform national distribution of votes, the figures would give the Tories 297 seats, Labour 232 and the LibDems 89.

Other polls show the Tories maintaining their lead over the other parties.

A Comres/ITV poll put the Conservatives on 33 per cent, up one, the Liberal Democrats on 29 per cent, down two, and Labour on 29 percent, up one.

COMMENT:  If the Tories don't win a clear majority, there will be a hung Parliament, requiring a coalition government, meaning a bit of a mess.  Maggie, where are you when we need you?

April 28    Permalink

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TUESDAY,  APRIL 27,  2010

THE QUIET CRISIS – AT 7:58 P.M. ET:  As we struggle to recover from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, events in Europe may make it more difficult, threatening the whole world's economy in the process:

(Reuters) - Rating agency Standard and Poor's slashed Greek debt to junk status on Tuesday and also downgraded Portugal, as investors worried political pressures could block a multi-billion euro bailout of Greece.

Markets in Europe and the United States tumbled in reaction to signs that the Greek debt crisis was spreading to other highly indebted states on the periphery of the euro zone.

"It's contagion from the Greece crisis which has spiraled out of control," said William Sullivan at JVB Financial Group in Florida.

"It's like coconuts falling from the tree. There's a flight from sovereign debt issuers that have suspect national finances."

Sullivan said there was "outright panic" among investors who feared they would lose some of their principal if Greece restructured or defaulted on its 300 billion euro debt.

COMMENT:  Some European countries are in far worse shape than is the United States.  But they'll keep lecturing us nonetheless.

There's a growing fear that increasing debt around the world will make the next big bust far worse than the collapse of 2008.  Of course, the revolutionaries would love that...until it happens.

April 27, 2010     Permalink

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CRIST ON THURSDAY – AT 7:37 P.M. ET:  Republican Governor Charlie Crist of Florida will make a major political announcement on Thursday.  Crist is in a losing primary race against Marco Rubio for a U.S. Senate nomination.  There's been talk that Crist may pull out and run indy.  From The Politico:

The suspense swirling around Florida GOP Gov. Charlie Crist’s political future will culminate in an announcement Thursday.

Crist told his cabinet Tuesday morning that’s the day he’ll make clear whether he will stay in the Senate race as a Republican, run as an independent or drop out altogether.

“I’d like to go ahead and get that concluded then look forward to the last day of session,” Crist said, as reported by The Palm Beach Post.

Crist said he hasn’t made up his mind yet, but most political observers believe he’s likely to leave the GOP.

Friday is the deadline for federal candidates to file for office in Florida.

Many Republicans are betting that he’ll bolt the party.

“The clock is making him decide now. I just don’t see a path for him to stay in the Republican primary,” said David Johnson, a GOP consultant and former executive director of the party.

COMMENT:  Crist would be wiser to drop out graciously, but stay in the Republican Party.  Then he'll have some chits, will keep powerful allies, and has a future.  If he runs as an independent and loses, he's got no one. 

Senator Joe Lieberman did run as an "independent Democrat" after his own party knifed him and denied him renomination.  The difference is that Joe was the incumbent, with a huge popularity base.  He won as an independent and kept his committee chairmanship in the Senate.

April 27, 2010     Permalink

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BAIT AND SWITCH – AT 7:15 P.M. ET:  That's the tactic used most often by this administration.  You can't believe any position they take this week because it may change by next week.  A "crisis" will be declared, which is the way this crowd operates.  Exhibit A, from Fox:

President Obama said Tuesday that "everything has to be on the table" as his newly appointed debt commission goes to work, but he would not entertain questions about whether tax increases, including a value-added tax, or spending cuts will get serious consideration.

"We're not playing that game," the president said.

Unbelievable.  Incredible.  The man has no shame.  Maybe he thinks it's a game.  Most of us think of it as government. 

"We're not going to say what's in. I'm not going to say what's out. I want this commission to be free to do its work," he said, warning that the country would face a "day of reckoning" if the federal government cannot control its spending.

Wha..?  Did you get that?  Isn't he the guy whose programs have driven the national debt to unsustainable levels?  Now he's lecturing us?

You can see the campaign strategy emerging, and it's a clone of 2008:  Say anything.  The public won't notice and the press will help us out. 

Peter Orszag, White House budget office director, said in prepared remarks to the commission that persistently high deficits could eventually stifle the economy.

"The options to further reduce the deficit may not be popular, but they are necessary," he said.

As you can see, belaboring the obvious is another part of the strategy.  But don't expect the "unpopular" options to get much mention until after the election.

But finding consensus among the panel -- composed of 10 Democratically appointed commissioners and eight Republican appointees -- will be an especially challenging task because it takes 14 votes out of the 18 members to approve a recommendation.

The co-chairman, former Republican Senator Alan Simpson of Wyoming, called it "a suicide mission."  That appears to be true.

April 27, 2010     Permalink

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WHICH PRESIDENT DO WE THANK? – AT 10:59 A.M. ET:   There is all this yapping about multiculturalism.  You know the drill:  "We must understand other cultures."  But please notice what is missing from that declaration:  "We must understand other cultures...and they must understand us."

The multiculturalists would never include that full construction because multiculturalism is, for the most part, a branch office of anti-Americanism.  It's the oldest wine in the newest bottle, the leftist party line repackaged for the new century.

Other nations have, because they misunderstood the United States, made terrible mistakes.  Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor came about, in part, because the Japanese government ignored warnings that the United States would react ferociously.  Those in power in Tokyo didn't understand us.  Similarly, Hitler boasted that Americans would fight "like Boy Scouts," and he therefore wasn't afraid of us.  He declared war and took us on, not understanding that the Boy Scouts could be turned into superb soldiers.

It's pretty clear that Osama bin Laden, who knows nothing of Americans,  made a serious mistake in attacking us on 9-11.  And now one of his associates confirms that truth: 

WASHINGTON - Osama bin Laden had no idea the U.S. would hit al-Qaida as hard as it has since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, a former bin Laden associate tells WTOP in an exclusive interview.

"I'm 100 percent sure they had no clue about what was going to happen," says Noman Benotman, who was head of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group in the summer of 2000.

"What happened after the 11th of September was beyond their imagination, " says Benotman, who adds that al-Qaida thought the U.S. was a "paper tiger."

Sitting on the floor at bin Laden's compound in Kandahar, Afghanistan during a meeting the summer before the attacks, Benotman shocked bin Laden and more than 200 other international jihadist leaders by telling the al-Qaida leader his jihadi strategy was "a total failure."

And...

Benotman attributes al-Qaida's overconfident attitude to the United States' response to al-Qaida attacks on its in embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in 1998.

Zawahiri, according to Benotman, expected only a missile attack.

"When they attacked the embassies in East Africa, they estimated the U.S. launched 75 cruise missiles and eight people got killed. So they said this time, maybe they will launch 200 and they laughed about this."

COMMENT:  Hmm.  I think it was Bill Clinton who launched those ineffective attacks on Al Qaeda and then forgot about the issue.  It was George W. Bush who fought back hard and kept this country safe for the remainder of his presidency. 

But Clinton is treated like an elder statesman and Bush is still the butt of jokes.  Would you say that our media and intellectual elites have a misplaced sense of values?  Yeah, I'd say so.

We can only imagine how Barack Hussein Obama Jr. would have handled September 11th.  No, let's not imagine.  Aggravation shortens the life span.

April 27, 2010     Permalink

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BULLETIN:  BARACK OBAMA GETS POLITICAL – AT 10:06 A.M. ET:  It may seem strange to some, but the president of the United States, lofty and endlessly good-hearted, is playing politics, and even his loyal disciples admit it.  And the politics he is playing is ugly.  The Politico reports:

Mitch McConnell is in bed with Wall Street “movers and shakers” — and is fronting “cynical and deceptive” arguments on their behalf.

John Boehner is a health care Chicken Little to be mocked for predicting Armageddon if the Democrats’ reform bill passed.

Sarah Palin can be ignored on arms control because she’s “not exactly an expert on nuclear issues.”

And Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh are just a “troublesome” twosome spreading “vitriol.”

Democratic oppo research? Comments from Daily Kos?

No, this is your president speaking.

Once chastised for not being tough enough, President Barack Obama has lately been getting personal with his political adversaries — singling them out for scorn in speeches, interviews, asides and even in his weekly radio address.

Rather than just going after big groups of bad guys — insurance companies, lobbyists, the media — Obama has adopted a strategy that gives a face to the enemy.

By setting himself up against specific opponents, he provides a point of contrast that’s useful in invigorating a base hungry for bare knuckles and bravado — and forces those in the middle to choose between him and his villain du jour.

COMMENT:  Aren't you shocked?

One of the myths spread by the MSM is that Barack Obama is lofty and above us all, simply a higher-quality fellow than that last president, or, in fact, any other.  Well, maybe Lincoln edges him, but he was just another midwestern white guy, so he doesn't count.  Also, he talked funny.  I mean, who says "fourscore"?

In fact, Obama is a small-time Chicago politician who never took on the machine, but worked within it, who has been deceptive about his past, and who sat in a church pew for 20 years and then claimed he didn't know his pastor had hateful, anti-American views.  If he were on the right, Katie Couric and Christiane Amanpour would have laughed him out of politics years ago. 

Of the presidents I've seen, I'd rank Obama pretty much near the bottom in integrity.  This is the man, after all, whose campaign tried to label Bill and Hillary Clinton as racists.  They may be many things, but that ain't one of them. 

So don't be surprised by Obama's personal attacks.  They will get worse, not better.  And yesterday he openly played the race card, appealing to some ethnic groups, but not others, to get out and vote. 

Don't underestimate Obama's political skills.  He has a fanatical base.  Don't underestimate what he's willing to do to remain in power, with the congressional support he needs.  He has one of the best political teams in presidential history.

These are opening guns.  They're directed at our side.  Our side has yet to come up with a coherent strategy to insure a victory, rather than just dream of one.

April 27, 2010    Permalink

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WHERE THE MONEY DOESN'T GO – AT 8:31 A.M. ET:  With the profligacy of the federal government, and with the huge payouts by state governments (see the post just below), you'd think services to the citizenry would be at an all-time high.  Think again, suckers.  This is government we're dealing with.  From The Wall Street Journal:

TULSA, Okla.—It has become a recession mantra: Do more with less.

Now, this heartland city is testing whether that's possible when it comes to public safety.

Since January, Tulsa has laid off 89 police officers, 11% of its force. That has pushed the city to the forefront of a national movement, spurred by hard times, to revamp long-held policing strategies.

In the crosshairs: community-policing initiatives created over the past two decades, such as having officers work in troubled schools, attend neighborhood-watch meetings and help small-business owners address nuisance crimes like graffiti. Such efforts are popular, and some experts credit them with contributing to the steady drop in the national crime rate since 1991.

And...

n New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently vowed not to lay off cops, but tight budgets have slowed hiring so much that the force is down about 12% from 2000, with more attrition expected. Some violent crimes, including homicides, are on the rise. Paul Browne, a deputy police commissioner, says the department has kept a lid on problems by flooding high-crime areas with cops on foot patrol who practice community policing, such as checking in with merchants and pastors. Mr. Browne said the department is committed to such programs but acknowledges that "it's getting harder" to devote enough resources.

And...

The strain in New York and communities nationwide reminds William Bratton, former police chief in New York and Los Angeles, of the 1970s and 1980s. Then, departments lacked resources to focus on crime prevention and community partnerships, or deal with crimes such as drug dealing and prostitution.

"You'd think we would have learned our lessons from the past," says Mr. Bratton, who now runs Altegrity Security Consulting. "Policing still requires boots on the ground."

COMMENT:  We haven't learned our lessons.  Many cities are run by the kind of people who are skeptical of the police in the first place.  And crime reduction, strange as it seems, is not a priority in parts of the political spectrum.  If crime is reduced through police action, it violates one of the main foundations of modern liberal thinking – that crime is caused by "socio-economic problems of inner-city peoples," not given to law-enforcement solutions. 

So California and other states pay out huge pensions and salaries to public employees, while cutting the most vital service of all. 

It's a financial problem, we're told.  And yet The New York Times, just yesterday, informed us that the economy is really booming, if only those people out there without Ivy League degrees would simply understand it.

Get me the seasickness pills.

April 27, 2010     Permalink

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WHERE THE MONEY GOES – AT 8:18 A.M. ET:  California is near bankruptcy, and yet the liberals out there show no signs of compromise on anything.  After all, the "people" must have their cake.  But which people?

There is a budding scandal in California over the salaries and pensions paid to public employees.  There was a time when those joining the civil service would give up a certain amount of salary – compared with the private sector – in exchange for the security, the benefits, and the satisfaction of a public job.  Those days are long past.  Today you give up nothing, especially in the golden state.  From the very liberal San Francisco Chronicle:

More than 1 in 3 of San Francisco's nearly 27,000 city workers earned $100,000 or more last year - a number that has been growing steadily for the past decade.

The number of city workers paid at least $100,000 in base salary totaled 6,449 last year. When such extras as overtime are included, the number jumped to 9,487 workers, nearly eight times the number from a decade ago. And that calculation doesn't include the cost of often-generous city benefits such as health care and pensions.

The pay data obtained by The Chronicle show that many of the high earners bolstered their base pay with overtime and "other pay," a category that includes payouts for unused vacation days and extra money for working late-night shifts.

Leading 2009's $100,000 Club was the Police Department's Charles Keohane, a deputy chief who retired midyear.

His total payout was $516,118, city records show, the bulk of which came from cashing out stored-up vacation, sick days and comp time. Several other police employees who changed rank or retired also saw their annual earnings swell.

And...

The average city worker salary in San Francisco is $93,000 before benefits, according to Deputy City Controller Monique Zmuda. The data take into account everyone from park gardeners and street cleaners to attorneys and technology specialists.

COMMENT:  There's more where this came from, in other states as well.  But public-service unions have veto power in the Democratic Party, so don't expect anything to be done soon.  After all, we don't want to cheat "the kids."

April 27, 2010    Permalink

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THE FINE PRINT STORY OF THE DAY – AT 8:01 A.M. ET:  Fine print is something that journalists are supposed to read so they can alert us to what a piece of legislation is really about.  But don't bet on it these days, when most of the MSM is far too interested in grander things. 

Here's lesson one in the fine print of the health-care bill.  If you're a parent, read carefully:

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama's health care overhaul was supposed to take care of a major worry for parents of 20-year-olds making the transition to work: keeping the kids insured.

But what sounds like a simple solution—starting this year, letting young adults stay on their parents' health plan until they turn 26—involves a surprising amount of fine print.

As a consequence, some families may have to wait until 2011 to get their kids covered, particularly if the parents are working for a large employer, benefits experts and government officials say.

Some employers weighing whether to immediately extend coverage for young adults are wondering whether they'll have to withhold additional federal taxes from parents to cover the value of the benefit.

And employers and insurers are trying to figure out how to price the coverage. There could be sizable differences in cost.

With college graduations just weeks away—and the economy still uncertain—the No. 1 inquiry corporate benefit managers are getting from employees is how they can keep their adult children on the company plan, said Paul Dennett, vice president for health reform at the American Benefits Council.

COMMENT:  Great.  Really great.  All this "reform," and no one can understand how it should be applied...or taxed. 

Another overwhelming victory for "the people."  Certain people.

And we haven't even started with the rest of the 2,000-page bill.

Will Americans revolt against this?  Maybe yes, maybe no.  When they're told that they may lose health coverage of any kind if they vote those bad Republicans into office – and they will be told that – they may capitulate.  It's the way the left operates.

April 27, 2010    Permalink

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