Archive for November, 2011

How long can Gingrich sustain this political Lazarus act?

After a relaxing holiday weekend — family, turkey, football, some projects around the house — I return to … Newt Gingrich.

Over the weekend he won the endorsement of the Manchester Union Leader, the leading newspaper in New Hampshire and a bellwether of sorts for conservative voters. Money’s pouring in, and he’s cementing his position as the anti-Mitt, rising in polls in the three early states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

“Romney’s a guy who wants to be liked,” Union Leader editorial page editor Drew Cline said on CNN. “He’s a politician who wants to be liked. Gingrich is a politician who wants to be respected, who wants to actually accomplish – he has an agenda that he wants to set in place.”

Yes, Newt has a lot of baggage. But unlike Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain, Newt’s baggage is familiar to most voters. It has already been priced into the market, so to speak. Rehashing his history, troubling as much of it is, won’t damage him …

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Why oh why won’t government fix it for me?

From Jon Shirek at Channel 11 News:

WACO, Ga. — A west Georgia business owner is stirring up controversy with signs he posted on his company’s trucks, for all to see as the trucks roll up and down roads, highways and interstates:

“New Company Policy: We are not hiring until Obama is gone.”

“Can’t afford it,” explained the employer, Bill Looman, Tuesday evening. “I’ve got people that I want to hire now, but I just can’t afford it. And I don’t foresee that I’ll be able to afford it unless some things change in D.C.”

Looman’s company is U.S. Cranes, LLC. He said he put up the signs, and first posted pictures of the signs on his personal Facebook page, six months ago, and he said he received mostly positive reaction from people, “about 20-to-one positive.”

… Looman made it clear, talking with 11Alive’s Jon Shirek, that he is not refusing to hire to make some political point; it’s that he doesn’t believe he can hire anyone, because of the economy. And he blames the Obama …

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Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

This is my favorite holiday of the year. The kids are back in town, the turkey’s in the fridge, and for a little while at least, all is right with the world. Enjoy and be thankful, and remember that what divides us is much smaller and less significant than what unites us.

Now sing it, Louie!

– Jay Bookman

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Here’s one to add to your Thanksgiving list

As we head into the Thanksgiving holiday, add this to your list of reasons to be thankful:

From The Washington Post:

The leadership ranks of the main al-Qaeda terrorist network, once expansive enough to supervise the plot for Sept. 11, 2001, have been reduced to just two figures whose demise would mean the group’s defeat, U.S. counterterrorism and intelligence officials said.

Ayman al-Zawahiri and his second in command, Abu Yahya al-Libi, are the last remaining “high-value” targets of the CIA’s drone campaign against al-Qaeda in Pakistan, U.S. officials said, although lower-level fighters and other insurgent groups remain a focus of Predator surveillance and strikes….

U.S. officials who described al-Qaeda as being on the verge of defeat after Osama bin Laden was killed said they have been surprised by the pace and extent of the group’s contraction in the six months since then.

“We have rendered the organization that brought us 9/11 operationally ineffective,” a …

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CBO reports stimulus package was a major economic success

The Congressional Budget Office has released its latest assessment of the 2009 stimulus package and the economic impact of its various components.

According to the CBO analysis of stimulus provisions:

– They raised real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) by between 0.3 percent and 1.9 percent (see Table 1),
– They lowered the unemployment rate by between 0.2 percentage points and 1.3 percentage points,
– They increased the number of people employed by between 0.4 million and 2.4 million, and
– They increased the number of full-time-equivalent jobs by 0.5 million to 3.3 million. (Increases in FTE jobs include shifts from part-time to full-time work or overtime and are thus generally larger than increases in the number of employed workers.)


Two other points:

– The CBO estimates that the impact of the stimulus will continue to be felt over the next year, increasing GDP by up to 0.8 percent next year and creating up to 1.1 million jobs over what it would have …

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A case study in how nonviolence can often defeat violence

Many of you have probably seen versions of the first video below, showing campus police officers armed with riot gear at the University of California-Davis spraying pepper spray into the faces of nonviolent “Occupy” student protesters last Friday.

Two campus police officers and the campus police chief have been placed on administrative leave as a result of the action. The president of the 10-campus California university system said he was appalled by police action and would ensure it was not repeated. UC-Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi is also under pressure from students and alumni to resign. On Saturday evening, with campus emotions still raw, Katehi was forced to exit her office to her car through a gauntlet of protesters outraged at what had happened.

But it wasn’t quite what you think it might be:

Martin Luther King Jr. would be proud to see that.

– Jay Bookman

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USA in danger of becoming ’secular country’

Newt Gingrich sees “mortal threats” as often as that kid in “The Sixth Sense” sees dead people.

In the recent past, Gingrich has claimed that Sharia law poses a “mortal threat to the survival of freedom in the United States.” He argues that the Obama-led “secular-socialist machine,” whatever that is, poses “as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union once did.” Even the petition method of organizing a union represents “a mortal threat to American freedom.”

In an appearance in Iowa over the weekend, Gingrich expanded on his list of mortal threats. Liberals, he told an audience of social conservatives, are trying to abolish traditional religion in this country and are using government “to repress the American people against their own values.” Furthermore, he warned that conservatives need to be “very aggressive and very direct” in opposing this “mortal threat to our civilization.”

Lest there be any doubt about Gingrich’s meaning, the former speaker also …

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What Obama did on his Asian vacation

For those who don’t know his work, Walter Russell Mead is one of the nation’s more respected scholars and experts on foreign policy. He backed Barack Obama in the 2008 election, but he also backed the invasion of Iraq as well, so on those two he’s batting .500.

Mead’s a centrist, in other words. Consider, for example, his devastating critique of Al Gore:

” … while some forms of inconsistency or even hypocrisy can be combined with public leadership, others cannot be. A television preacher can eat too many french fries, watch too much cheesy TV and neglect his kids in the quest for global fame. But he cannot indulge in drug-fueled trysts with male prostitutes while preaching conservative Christian doctrine. The head of Mothers Against Drunk Driving cannot be convicted of driving while under the influence. The head of the IRS cannot be a tax cheat. The most visible leader of the world’s green movement cannot live a life of conspicuous consumption, spewing far more carbon …

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Jon Corzine and the missing $1.2 billion

Jon Corzine, the former CEO of Goldman Sachs and a former Democratic governor and senator from New Jersey, could be in very big trouble. And if reports such as these prove true, he damn well ought to be:

From Associated Press:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The court-appointed trustee overseeing MF Global’s bankruptcy says up to $1.2 billion is missing from customer accounts, double what the firm had reported to regulators last month.

Regulators are investigating whether MF Global tapped money from clients’ accounts as its own financial condition worsened. That would be a violation of securities rules. The FBI is investigating whether New York-based MF Global violated any criminal laws.

Corzine recently resigned as head of MF Global.

It is illegal for a brokerage to use clients’ money as its own. If the facts are as alleged, the missing $1.26 billion — still a preliminary figure, the court trustee has stressed — was in effect stolen from MF Global customers in order to cover for the …

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For GOP, deficit reduction was never the goal in the first place

You could offer a lot of reasons for the apparent failure of the supercommittee to reach agreement on cutting the deficit before its deadline of midnight tonight.

However, the bottom line was the Bush tax cuts.

The Republicans insisted on making them permanent. The Democrats refused. And the Democrats had the better part of the argument. After all, everybody supposedly agreed that the supercommittee’s overwhelming priority — its entire reason for existence in the first place — was to cut the deficit and debt.

And if that’s the goal, you cannot responsibly insist on maintaining the Bush tax cuts in their entirety, given that such a step INCREASES the national debt by $2.5 trillion over the next 10 years. You can cut Medicare, cut Medicaid, cut student loans and cut Social Security, but if you do all those things AND make the tax cuts permanent, you have succeeded in making life tougher for a lot of people but you accomplished nothing toward reducing the deficit. In fact, …

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