Sunday, February 26, 2012

op ed review 2/26

Editor’s note: No OER next week, I’ll be out of town.


Unemployment in the U.S. rose to nine percent in mid-February, up from 8.3 percent a month earlier, according to a new Gallup survey.

With their unemployment-insurance checks running out, some of the country’s long-term jobless are scrambling to fill the gap by filing claims for mental illness and other disabilities with Social Security — a surge that hobbles taxpayers and making the employment rate look healthier than it should as these people drop out of the job statistics.

With the economy on its knees, many American families have had to forgo their annual holiday just to make ends meet. But barely a month after returning from a luxury Christmas break in Hawaii Michelle Obama is on holiday again - this time at the exclusive Colorado ski resort of Aspen.

This makes the 16th time members of the first family have gone on extended vacations during their three years in office.

It's February, nine months before a presidential election, and only 22 percent of Americans say they are satisfied with the way things are going.

The Obama administration is starting to shut down a program that deputized local police officers to act as immigration agents.

Another reason to defeat President Obama: Ruth Bader Ginsburg will step down from the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015.

Seven states asked a federal judge Thursday to block an Obama administration mandate that requires birth control coverage for employees of religious-affiliated hospitals, schools and outreach programs.

Some Florida drivers are spending nearly $6 a gallon to fill up their gas tanks.

An Obama plan to triple the tax rate on dividends would hurt all shareholders, especially retirees and near-retirees who depend on dividend income. Almost three of four dividend payments go to those over the age of 55, and more than half go to those older than 65, according to the IRS.

A judge on Wednesday declared the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional and ordered the federal government to ignore the statute and provide health benefits to the wife of a lesbian federal court employee.

A federal judge ruled that Washington State cannot require pharmacists to dispense emergency contraceptives if to do so violates their religious beliefs. U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton declared the state regulation unconstitutional because it trampled on pharmacists' right to "conscientious objection." The ruling only applies to Washington State but is sure to reverberate nationally.

The 20th, and possibly last, televised debate among Republican candidates for president of the 2012 cycle. “My analysis of how each contender performed: Newt Gingrich won the debate, Rick Santorum was tonight's clear loser. Although he offered a few flashes of excellence, Santorum's stumbling illustrated the perils of running for president with decades of Congressional votes hanging around your neck.”

Remember Solyndra? The solar-panel maker’s abrupt closure now threatens to leave behind an environmental mess. The company plans on paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to clean up its own property in Fremont, Calif., but a separate leased property in nearby Milpitas sits vacant with barrels of unknown chemicals and lead-contaminated equipment.

A Delaware bankruptcy judge has approved close to $370,000 in bonuses for 20 former Solyndra employees.

President Obama sent Afghan President Karzai a letter of apology over the accidental burning of copies of the Koran…..”Afghan laborers found charred copies of the Koran while collecting rubbish at the Bagram Airbase, about an hour's drive north of Kabul.”

By contrast, in 2009, the U.S. military confiscated copies of the Bible that a church had sent to an American soldier to use in an outreach geared toward Afghan citizens. When the military discovered the Bibles, they were confiscated and burned, and the U.S. military defended its actions as a ‘force protection’ measure so it wouldn’t be perceived that the U.S. military was trying to convert Muslims.”….Robert Spencer, founder of Jihad Watch, called the actions taken by U.S. Gen. John Allen offensive. “Allen’s statements amount to groveling before Muslims around the world,” he said. “This is the United States military, and he is the commander of all U.S. forces in Afghanistan. This is embarrassing and an insult to every American.”

Krauthammer: ”…..after the president apologized and after we have been on our knees groveling there was an increase in the violence.”

President Obama also plans to tinker with federal police curriculums for counterterrorism training classes. The first bit of “revamping” is the removal of all material that is offensive to the Council on American Islamic Relations.

Democrats are poised in November to lose their Senate majority and hand over control of Congress entirely to the Republican Party. With 22 Senate seats up for grabs this fall, Democrats are fighting to hold on to their 53-47 seat majority. They must defend at least seven seats considered "tossups" and are watching three others that could become competitive. Republicans, who already have a 24-seat majority in the House, need to win just four more Senate seats to achieve a 51-seat majority in that chamber.

A Survey USA poll for KING-TV in Seattle of 650 registered voters showed Barack Obama is in trouble in the Evergreen State.



Herb Meyer 2/23

As we head into some crucial GOP primaries -- Arizona and Michigan on February 28, then Super Tuesday one week later -- grassroots Republicans remain sharply divided over which presidential candidate to support. A lot of us would vote for None of the Above, if we had that choice. But we're united in the belief that if our country continues on its present course for another four years, the damage to our economy and our national security will be catastrophic and irreversible. And we're perplexed by the obstinate refusal of so many Americans who aren't Republicans to acknowledge the acute danger we're in, and to at least consider voting in November for whichever candidate the GOP finally chooses to run against President Obama.…..Let's stop talking to voters as though they were children who need to be cajoled into eating their vegetables. Let's change the political culture itself by talking to voters as adults responsible for dealing with their problems -- or not dealing with their problems, if that's their choice:

My fellow Americans, we're in trouble. The national debt is staggering, government spending at all levels is out of control, and we've been passing laws that make it harder than ever for business owners to grow their companies and create new jobs. Congress has enacted a health care law that will devastate our country's health care system and reduce the services we depend upon, literally, for our lives. We're on the verge of turning our country's free-market economy -- the most productive, most innovative, most powerful economy the world has ever known -- into a socialist economy that will lead to decades of stagnation.

And our nation's security is at risk. At a time when radical Islam threatens to destroy Western civilization, and when Iran is on the brink of having nuclear bombs, we are slashing the Pentagon's budget. By pulling our troops out of Iraq too soon, we are now in danger of snatching defeat from the extraordinary victory our troops had won. We are about to give up in Afghanistan, precisely at that moment when our troops on the ground there are making real progress. And rather than taking steps to make our country energy-independent and no longer in need of Mideast oil, we are throwing every legal obstacle we can under the feet of our domestic energy production companies.

If we continue on our present course, more and more of you will lose your jobs, your homes, and even the pensions you've worked so hard, and for so long, to earn. The quality of our health care will decline. We will leave our children's generation crippled by debt and with no hope of prosperity or even economic stability. And we will leave our country vulnerable to another 9-11 attack -- this time, perhaps, with nuclear weapons.

You may believe we're exaggerating, and that you don't need to think about all this, at least not yet. Perhaps. There's just no way to predict whether our economy will hit the wall next year, or in the coming decade -- or two weeks from Wednesday because of a market crash triggered by the collapse of some obscure bank in Europe, or in China. Your own job may be safe, your pension well protected. You may not notice a drop in the quality of our country's health care system for quite a while, if you're one of the lucky ones who stays healthy. And while no intelligence service can prevent every terrorist attack on our homeland, perhaps ours will succeed in stopping the the next one, so we won't suffer another 9-11 for years to come.

All we can tell you is that if we remain on our present course, we're heading straight for that proverbial cliff.

We still have time to turn around. Changing course won't be easy or pleasant, but together we can do it. We can bring down the national debt to a manageable level, we can bring government spending under control, and we can restore the free-market incentives that will encourage business owners to invest in new products and services, and by doing so create new jobs. We can undo the health care laws that Congress has passed. We can make ourselves energy-independent. We can leave our children's generation with a robust economy that will enable them to live at least as well as we've lived, perhaps even to live in greater prosperity than we have known. And we can keep our country safe from the world's genocidal lunatics.

Ladies and gentlemen, if you're driving down the road and you realize you're going in the wrong direction, changing speed or changing lanes doesn't solve the problem. You have to get off at the next exit and make a U-turn. In politics, that "next exit" is called an election. Please, take this next exit and vote for us. Don't bet your money -- and perhaps your lives -- that there's no cliff up ahead, or that if there is a cliff ahead we're nowhere near it.

Edited from a longer column. Herb Meyer, formerly a senior intelligence official for President Reagan, now helps people understand what's happening in the world. He is rumored to live in Friday Harbor, WA



"The semiotic search for the racism beneath Newt's food-stamp line. The dismissal of 'the Constitution' in haughty air quotes. The wasting of primetime minutes pondering which wife would make the best first lady. The obsessive deposing of Romney on the legality of condoms. The condescending identity politics of carting out a token Latino to ask an immigration question. The dings. The bells. The buzzers. The Google Chat notification tones. ... These are just some of the lowlights of the umpteen Republican debates thus far. And ... they were all brought to us by the mainstream media. That's the same media that daily carry water for the Obama administration, approach the tea parties as anthropological curiosities, and persistently skew the public discourse leftward in ways large and small, conscious and unconscious. ... While dismantling the presuppositions of the political media is surely a skill a conservative president would do well to acquire, it does not rank with the ability to clearly and persuasively articulate a conservative policy vision for solving America's most pressing problems, or with the ability to display fiscal sobriety, strategic acumen, and strong instincts toward liberty when presented with new challenges, foreign and domestic. These abilities -- and not the ability to cleverly parry liberal inanities -- are what the primary debates are meant to test. ... [W]e favor the plan recently floated by Hugh Hewitt. Come the 2016 election season, the RNC should set the number, dates, and locations of debates. They should be fewer in number than the 20-odd we will see before this year is out, so that they are not so unduly agenda-setting. And the party should partner with local party officials, conservative think tanks, alternative media, tea-party groups, and grassroots organizations to determine formatting and questions. ... The alternative is to hope MSNBC and CNN come into the flock between now and 2016. Don't hold your breath."

-National Review



“Sometimes I miss the good old days–what was it, a year ago?–when liberals were in favor of civility. Remember when talking about “targeting” a Congressional district could get you accused of murder? Things were a lot more genteel back in 2011. On Thursday, Charles Koch authorized employees of Koch Industries to reveal the contents of “hundreds of e-mails that the Kochs and employees have received in the last year, containing death threats and obscenity-laced hate messages.”

Rep. Maxine Waters of California, who sees frightful apparitions everywhere she looks, told the California state Democratic convention last week that House Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, are “demons” and now she’s afraid to watch television.

Guess who was a key player in pushing through the birth control mandate in ObamaCare? Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards. According to reports, not only did Obama listen to Richards, but took her word over the suggestions his top advisers.



A trial court in Iran has issued its final verdict, ordering a Christian pastor to be put to death for leaving Islam and converting to Christianity. The 34-year-old father of two who was arrested over two years ago on charges of apostasy, may now be executed at any time.

“Arab flies into a rage over couple's kiss at lodge”



Mitt Romney’s favorability among Republicans is on the upswing, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.,0,516566.story

Romney has jumped back into the lead in Michigan’s Republican Primary race. The vote’s on Tuesday.

Romney leads President Obama by 4 percentage points in Gallup’s latest national head-to-head polling. If the election were held Thursday, 50 percent said they would support Romney, versus 46 percent who would support Obama, according to Gallup.

Rep. Ron Paul (R.-Texas.) told Candy Crowley on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday that social conservatism is "a losing position" for the Republican Party.

With his candidacy surging, Rick Santorum on Saturday questioned the legitimacy of state-run public education systems and suggested that President Obama’s agenda sprang from a “phony theology.” At one appearance here, he said the idea of schools run by the federal government or by state governments was “anachronistic.”

On today’s Up with Chris Hayes, the host unveiled a 2008 talk by Rick Santorum that could possibly be the only thing to make him lose the American religious vote: one in which he condemns “mainline protestantism,” of all things, and claims it is now “gone from the world of Christianity.” Needless to say, these sorts of words coming from a Catholic cannot inspire confidence in the sort of voter that looked askance at John F. Kennedy for being a Papist

Wes Pruden, Washington Times: “There is no religious test for office in America, and God forbid there ever will be. But if the nation survives, there will always be a conscience test. Conscience, that wee small voice that instructs in right and wrong, good and evil, is tutored by moral and ethical codes born of knowledge and fear of God. Every president so far has acknowledged his debt to a power greater than anything in himself, understanding that if he forgot that debt there would be the devil to pay. Rick Santorum may or may not make it to the White House; the likeliest way he’ll see the Oval Office is at the invitation of Mitt Romney. His views on sex and contraception lie far outside the American mainstream. For his own good, he ought to keep his lip buttoned until he is sure of what he wants to say (and then not say some of it). But even a presidential candidate has the right to teach dogma and creed in chapel and Sunday school. If that gets the skeptics, in Sarah Palin’s felicitous phrase, “all wee-weed up,” they’ll just have to get over it…”

To help Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich pull off a needed win in Georgia, former candidate Herman Cain stepped onto Gingrich’s campaign bus Saturday to ride along for all three campaign events of the day and introduce the candidate, whom he endorsed in January, at each stop.

This is worrisome: “Gingrich’s Transcendent Self-Regard”

Goldberg: “If we could just take a little bit from each of them." I've lost track of how many people I have heard say some version of this in the last couple of months. The "each of them" refers to the final four combatants for the Republican nomination…”,0,2730736.column

President Obama trails three of the four Republican candidates in head-to-head match-ups if the election were held today, according to a new Iowa Poll.

Unions say they are gearing up to spend more than $400 million to help re-elect President Barack Obama and lift Democrats this election year in a fight for labor's survival. Under siege in state legislatures around the country - and fearing the consequences of a Republican in the White House - union leaders say they have little choice as they try to beat back GOP efforts to curb collective bargaining rights or limit their ability to collect dues.



If you were a president who for three years presided over an economy with more than 13 million unemployed, a growth rate gasping around 2%, an historic credit downgrade and underwater home mortgages drifting like icebergs toward the American Titanic, what would you do? You'd do what Barack Obama's done: Reboot. With his recently announced campaign platform—An Economy Built to Last—President Obama has essentially constructed a virtual economy. Instead of the economy we all live in, he's making one up and inviting us to pretend we are living in it. Welcome to the Sim City Economy.

“I have frequently discussed in this column the concept of Calculated Deception. That is President Obama's practice of taking advantage of what he calculates average people don't know, and what the Democratic Party-controlled media won't tell them, to mislead them into thinking and believing what will most benefit him politically. That practice is now spreading across the entire Democrat party. We are seeing this play out now in particularly ugly fashion in regard to the fabricated issue of contraception. President Obama, the Democrats, and their party-controlled press are play-acting as if the Republicans are campaigning to ban contraception. That is their interpretation of Republican opposition to President Obama's mandate forcing Catholic institutions to provide for their employees free contraceptives, abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization.”

The House Judiciary Committee recently passed a bill that would ban selective abortions based on race or gender by a 20-13 vote. The biggest hurdle to passage was the bill's name. Democrats proposed calling the bill “The Ronald Reagan Impose Your Beliefs on a Woman's Womb Act” and “The Tea Party Determines What Rights a Woman Has Act.”

“In the most recent round of National Assessment of Educational Progress tests, which are administered by the U.S. Department of Education, the winners were indeed indisputable. Catholic schools thrashed public schools. It wasn't close. "In 2011," says the Department of Education in a report on the NAEP tests, "the average reading score for eighth-graders attending public schools was 19 points lower than the overall score for students attending private schools,and 20 points lower than for students attending Catholic schools specifically." If the Catholic school in your community beat the public school in basketball by 20 points, partisans of both teams would deem it a rout. If the Catholic school beat the public school by similar margins year after year, people would wonder what was wrong with the public-school basketball program. Were the coaches incompetent? Did they not care about instilling excellence in their teams?.....So, what is the matter with public schools? Why can't they compete with Catholic schools in basic academic disciplines like reading and math? One thing is certain: It isn't a lack of money……”

In an apparent fit of rage against Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, liberal New York Times columnist Charles Blow took to Twitter to tell him to "stick that in your magic underwear" for supporting the idea that society ought to concern itself with the large numbers of children born outside of wedlock.

A shameful story: “The Struma’s story is seminal in understanding why the Holocaust was possible and why a second Holocaust cannot be ruled out. More than anything, the Struma powerfully illustrates what happens when Jews rely on others’ goodwill.”

News item: “Harvard University plans to host conference next week based on a "one state solution" calling for dismantling the state of Israel.”



Chart: Nearly Half of All Americans Don’t Pay Income Taxes

Chart: The Scariest Housing Market Ever

Chart: America’s Per Capita Government Debt Worse Than Greece

Didn't get the memo? Hillary Clinton dons lime green shirt for G20 'family photo' while everyone else wears white

Moose checks into Alaska Regional Hospital in Anchorage as captured by the hospital’s security camera.

That was 4 years ago, but it happened again this week:



"Excessive taxation ... will carry reason and reflection to every man's door, and particularly in the hour of election."

-Thomas Jefferson

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