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SUNDAY, AUGUST 1, 2010
WOULD ANN LANDERS APPROVE OF THIS BEHAVIOR? – AT 9:02 P.M. President Obama is making himself available on the campaign trail. Some of his fellow Democrats apparently wish he'd stay home:
ATLANTA -- President Obama makes his first Atlanta appearance since his inauguration.
The President will fly into town Monday morning.
If you think this will be a time for Democrats running for office to rally around the chief executive- -you probably haven't been following the campaigns this summer.
Former Governor Roy Barnes will not be available to meet Mr. Obama. The Democratic gubernatorial candidate will be somewhere in Georgia- - far from Atlanta.
Campaign manager Chris Carpenter released a statement:
"Roy has a busy campaign schedule in Middle and South Georgia on Monday where he'll be talking to farmers and local law enforcement. Roy's priority is to continue traveling across the state, talking to voters about jobs, education, and transportation- his plan to make Georgia work."
Sounds like a high-school girl turning down a date from a guy she doesn't like.
Meanwhile, Governor Sonny Perdue will greet the President planeside when the Democrat arrives in Georgia. Mr. Perdue's spokesperson Bert Brantley told 11Alive reporter Jeff Hullinger the governor had to juggle his schedule to be able to greet the president.
Oh dear, oh dear. When you complain that you had to juggle your schedule to meet the president, you're saying a great deal about the president.
We're sure we can find a place where the president will be greeted warmly. I just don't know what language will be spoken.
August 1, 2010 Permalink
WELL, AT LEAST HE ISN'T PRESIDENT - AT 7:30 P.M. ET: But he is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. And John Kerry has put his foot in it once more. From The Hill:
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) said Sunday that he would say no if Gen. David Petraeus wanted more time or more troops to get the job done in Afghanistan.
Speaking on CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS," Kerry said that President Obama's strategy with a transitional point in mind was underscoring to Afghans and the Pakistanis "that they need to begin to make this their battle."
I have no doubt that the Taliban will receive this news with great glee, just as the North Vietnamese received young John Kerry's remarks before Congress in the early 70s with unbridled joy. This guy is a one-man morale team – for America's enemies.
"And the only way to get them to do that is for them not to believe you're there forever," Kerry said. "Now there is a delicate balance, obviously. But you don't need 150,000 troops on the ground, at a million dollars a troop or whatever it is, in order to be able to achieve the goals that we have."
A million dollars a troop? What a nice, round number. Wonder where yachtsman Kerry got it.
Kerry holds an important post, and this kind of posturing just does damage. It gives the enemy a road map for what to expect. It demoralizes American soldiers who want to know they'll be backed if things get more critical. And it must frustrate General Petraeus to know that Lieutenant Kerry will pull the rug out from under him if he requests greater resources.
Good going, John. Whose morale will you boost next? Do you speak Chinese? Persian?
August 1, 2010 Permalink
NICE TO KNOW THEY'RE GETTING AROUND TO THIS – AT 10:40 A.M. ET: There have been some worrisome reports that the United States, some nine years after 9-11, still isn't prepared for a WMD attack. And I'm not terribly optimistic that Janet Napolitano, who runs Homeland Security, is the person to whip things into shape. At least Congress is interested. From The Hill:
A Senate Judiciary subcommittee will assess government preparedness for a terrorist attack with weapons of mass destruction in the wake of a report calling Justice Department planning inadequate.
The Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security will hear testimony Wednesday from senior Justice Department and Homeland Security officials concerning the ability of the United States to prevent as well as respond to an attack using a WMD.
The sense of urgency just isn't there. Once again, it will probably take a catastrophe to get things moving.
The hearing comes after several damning reports about the country’s ability to prevent such an attack, including a report card this year from a blue-ribbon commission that gave the White House three failing grades on WMD preparedness.
How much of that did you hear from the major networks or newspapers? Hmm. Maybe page 22.
On top of this, the intelligence and security lapses that preceded a string of recent domestic attacks — the deadly shooting at Fort Hood and failed bombing attempts on Northwest Flight 253 over Detroit on Christmas and on Times Square — have done little to inspire confidence from homeland security hawks in Congress.
Huh? Only the hawks don't have confidence? You mean, no one else is worried?
The blue-ribbon commission, chaired by former Sens. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) and Jim Talent (R-Mo.), was created by Congress following a recommendation from the 9/11 Commission. Graham and Talent’s initial report in 2008 warned that a terrorist attack using WMDs was “likely” to occur somewhere in the world by 2013, with the United States being a prime target.
We point out that 2013 is only three years away, and that America is run by a party that seems to want to deal with almost anything except national defense.
August 1, 2010 Permalink
CONTROL OF THE SENATE – TOUGH FOR REPUBLICANS: AT 9:52 A.M. ET: While there is guarded optimism that the GOP can take the House in November, predictions about the Senate are more guarded. It's a very tough road. Rasmussen reports:
New polling from Washington shifts that state’s Senate race from Toss-Up to Leans Democratic. Earlier today new polling from Pennsylvania shifted that state’s Senate race from Leans Republican to Toss-Up status.
With three months to go, Rasmussen Reports polling shows that Republicans are poised to pick up Democratic-held Senate seats in three states— Arkansas, Indiana and North Dakota. One other is leaning that way--Delaware, Arkansas' Blanche Lincoln is the only incumbent senator currently projected to lose a seat. The others are open-seat races following retirements by Democratic incumbents.
At the moment, no Republican-held seats appear headed for the Democratic column.
Currently, there are just five states in the Toss-Up category. Outside of the Toss-Ups, projections indicate that Democrats can probably count on having 51 Senate seats after Election Day, while Republicans will hold 44.
Four of the five Toss-up states are currently Democratic seats, while one is held by the GOP.
Among the four Democratic seats in the Toss-Up category, three are open seat races (Colorado, Illinois, and Pennsylvania). The Democratic incumbent in the Toss-Up category is Russ Feingold of Wisconsin.
The Republican Toss-Up is found in Florida, where Republican Marco Rubio is essentially even with Independent Charlie Crist.
COMMENT: In a way, this is disappointing. In my view, the Senate is more important than the House because it confirms Supreme Court justices. And it appears the GOP will fall short in the Senate, at least if the election were held today.
But it's not being held today, and a little fight from our side wouldn't hurt. The tossup states can be won. By definition, they're very close.
August 1, 2010 Permalink
A SAD COMMENTARY – AT 9:32 A.M. ET: We mentioned this yesterday – the injection of the race factor into congressional ethics investigations. This can get ugly, and divide the nation still further. From the L.A. Times:
The prospect of two long-serving African American lawmakers in the House enduring unprecedented public ethics trials seems likely to add to the growing tension between black members of Congress and Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill and in the Obama administration.
Congressional sources confirmed late Friday that later this year Rep. Maxine Waters (D- Los Angeles) will face an ethics proceeding likely related to allegations that she sought to help a bank with ties to her husband receive federal bailout funds.
The House trial could come on the heels of the high-profile trial of Rep. Charles B. Rangel, the venerable Democrat from New York who is accused of 13 violations of House ethics rules. Like Rangel, Waters chose not to seek a settlement with House ethics investigators that would have involved some admission of wrongdoing.
Between them, Rangel, 80, and Waters, 71, have served in the House for six decades and are leading members of the Congressional Black Caucus. The caucus has long complained that the House ethics process disproportionally targets African Americans in the chamber.
I've not seen any evidence of that. Many of the black members of Congress come from old political machines, where ethical issues pop up all the time.
Since its 2009 inception, the Office of Congressional Ethics — an independent watchdog set up at the behest of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) — has investigated at least eight members of the black caucus.
Earlier this summer, Rep. Marcia L. Fudge (D- Ohio), a member of the caucus, introduced a resolution that would strip the ethics panel of some of its power and allow House members to keep unflattering reports from public view. The caucus has stood behind Rangel even as other House members have called for his resignation.
Kenneth Gross, an ethics lawyer in Washington, said the push against Rangel and Waters "fuels the racial dimension."
It's unwise for Congressional Black Caucus members automatically to back members under probe. And trying to weaken the ethics panel looks like the Caucus has too much to hide.
As African-Americans rise in American society, some will go bad. It's inevitable. The proper response is to let the facts come out, and not ask for special privileges. Some racists will say, "That's the way they are," but the great majority of black members of Congress aren't under investigation.
The old Washington line prevails: It isn't the crime, it's the cover-up. If the public feels the CBC is helping with cover-ups, the corruption becomes magnified.
August 1, 2010 Permalink
MAJOR ELECTION NEWS – AT 9:12 A.M.: While most Americans think about the congressional midterms, another really important election campaign is underway. On this the fate of the nation may depend:
On Sunday, the White House Correspondents' Association will vote on who gets the front-row UPI seat long held by Helen Thomas, and two liberal groups have come out urging the WHCA to vote for NPR instead of Fox.
Leading the charge is CREDO Action, a liberal activist mobile phone company that has gone after Fox in the past. The group launched a petition on Wednesday that reads: “FOX News is a right-wing propaganda operation, not a legitimate news organization. Award the seat vacated by Helen Thomas to NPR, which has provided public interest coverage of the presidency and the White House for almost four decades.”
MoveOn.org issued a letter to members supporting the petition, calling Fox “a tool in the right-wing propaganda machine.”
WHCA President David Jackson, of USA Today, declined to comment on the matter, and Fox News did not reply to a request for comment.
But NPR issued a statement Friday trying to distance itself from the petitions: “NPR would like to make it clear that we are not involved in any way in the petitions now circulating that encourage the White House Correspondents Association to select NPR for the lead White House correspondent seat…We have no position on the petitions, and no comment on the other media organizations that are competing for the seat.”
Frankly, it would be improper for NPR to have the lead seat in a forum designed to question the president of the United States. NPR is a federal operation, though it has private contributors.
The drive for NPR is being waged by those on the left who would have no problem with federally funded news programming, similar to Britain's. As they say, that's not the American way.
The group has gathered 250,000 signatures on its petition in the last three days, she said, and overnighted boxes of the signed petitions to WHCA officers on Thursday.
“None of them have responded,” she said. “But we are hoping that when they get the boxes, they will respond, because we also sent a coupon for a free pint of ice cream."
COMMENT: Oh, just the symbolism is hilarious. Bribing journalists. With ice cream, no less. And only a pint.
The left does things in such small ways.
August 1, 2010 Permalink
SATURDAY, JULY 31, 2010
TERROR CONCERN OVER YOUNG MUSLIMS IN EUROPE – AT 8:22 P.M. ET: Europe's security problem is our security problem. And it's reaching dangerous levels. From The New York Times:
FRANKFURT — Before Abi left her parents’ house in northern Germany last year, she asked her father, “Daddy, what can I bring you from my journey?” He looked up from his book and answered, “Some perfumed oil.” “Will do,” she said, hugging him goodbye.
He is still waiting, more than a year later, for her to return.
Abi, now 23, and her husband never made the trip they said they had planned to Saudi Arabia to visit Mecca and Medina. Instead they became part of a growing number of young Muslims from Germany and other European countries who travel to the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region, eventually ending up in the camps of groups affiliated with Al Qaeda or the Taliban.
This is an important story that deserves a full reading. Infiltration is real. A small cell in the U.S. and Europe can pull off a major operation, as we've learned painfully. Get this little bit of weirdness:
Abi has told her mother that Muslims in Afghanistan and Pakistan are oppressed and need help. That reaction is typical for her daughter, who always wanted to help people, Abi’s mother said, adding, “I was always proud of her for this.”
Then tears filled her eyes, as she said: “My husband and I became very weak because of what she has done, and I would like to ask her, ‘Doesn’t the Koran say you should never lie to your parents and have to honor them?’ ”
COMMENT: The Koran says a lot of things. This is political Islam, and its followers will interpret the holy book any way it can help their cause.
July 30, 2010 Permalink
OBAMA'S ABYSMAL NUMBERS – 7:44 P.M. ET: Low poll numbers, consistent over months, can hve a devastating effect on a president. People stop listening to him, Congress won't do his bidding, he isn't invited to campaign for some members of his own party.
Obama's poll numbers as of today are depressing to anyone not taking appropriate tranquilizers. Real Clear Politics pegs his approval, culled from an average of the major polls, at 45.3%, with disapproval at 49.8%. No major poll has the presidential approval number above 48%, nor disapproval lower than 47%.
Nor does there appear to be anything on the horizon that could change those numbers drastically. Americans appear to be coming to a consistent opinion about the president, and it isn't good. The recent flareup over race will do him no favors. The economic news is not what he could have wanted. Our foreign policy has yet to include a major Obama victory.
By contrast, the GOP numbers are solid, although more because of opposition to Obama than became everyone loves Republicans. The Republican line keeps moving forward, but, in terms of depth, it is thin.
The midterms are in three months. If Republicans don't pull them off spectacularly, they should head for voluntary extinction.
July 31, 2010 Permalink
WELL, IT'S A START – AT 1:41 P.M. We're always glad to acknowledge when journalists correct serious mistakes. Anderson Cooper of CNN has done just that:
On Thursday’s Anderson Cooper 360, anchor Anderson Cooper faulted himself for not pressing Shirley Sherrod when she appeared on the show back on July 22 and claimed that conservative Andrew Breitbart was a “vicious” racist who “would like to get us stuck back in the times of slavery.”
Cooper now says he should have challenged Sherrod to support such an inflammatory charge with facts: “I believe in admitting my mistakes....I didn't challenge her that night and I should have.”
The July 22 interview was one of numerous appearances Sherrod made on CNN after she was fired by the Department of Agriculture on July 19. Cooper asked Sherrod about her phone conversation that day with President Obama, and then about Breitbart.
COMMENT: Shirley might avail herself of the opportunity to shut up.
As far as Cooper is concerned, we commend his apology. However, he might take a few minutes to reflect on why he didn't challenge Shirley when she made her outlandish comment about Andrew Breitbart. Maybe the problem is that this kind of crazed, over-the-top stuff is commonly heard around the mainstream media. Cooper perhaps didn't think it at all unusual.
The Shirley story is over. Next, please.
July 31, 2010 Permalink
WATERS IN HOT WATER, COMPLICATING LIFE FOR THE DEMS – AT 12:40 P.M. ET: Another congressional Democrat is facing ethics charges, making it hard for the Dems to say they cleaned house after the last election. From the Washington Times:
WASHINGTON (AP) — A second House Democrat, Rep. Maxine Waters of California, could face an ethics trial this fall, further complicating the election outlook for the party as it battles to retain its majority.
People familiar with the investigation, who were not authorized to be quoted about charges before they are made public, say the allegations could be announced next week. The House ethics committee declined Friday to make any public statement on the matter.
Waters, 71, has been under investigation for a possible conflict of interest involving a bank that was seeking federal aid. Her husband owned stock in the bank and had served on its board.
New York Democrat Rep. Charles Rangel also faces an ethics trial this fall on charges that include failure to disclose assets and income, nonpayment of taxes and doing legislative favors for donors to a college center named after him.
Both Waters and Rangel are prominent members of the Congressional Black Caucus and the trials would be an embarrassment for the group. Dual ethics trials would also be a major political liability for Democrats, forcing them to defend their party's ethical conduct while trying to hold on to their House majority.
COMMENT: The racial angle here should not be underestimated. Many African-Americans may start to believe that their representatives are being targeted...by the Democratic-controlled House. That's not a great incentive to come out on election day and support the usual party.
On the other hand, if the charges against Rangel and Waters are minimized, or either (if guilty) gets off with a slap on the wrist, there'll be genuine public anger, and the Dems will certainly lose on the corruption issue. And, among whites, there may then be a greatly increased feeling of a double standard.
Either way, the Dems have a major problem.
July 31, 2010 Permalink