Friday, August 12, 2011
“In selecting men for office, let principle be your guide. Regard not the particular sect or denomination of the candidate — look to his character.” –Noah Webster
All Eyes on Iowa, Except for Those on Perry
The focus of the GOP presidential race turned to the corn fields of Iowa this week, as the candidates debated Thursday night and will face off in the Ames Straw Poll Saturday. That’s when, as political analyst Michael Barone sarcastically observed, “[S]ome 15,000 to 25,000 Iowans in a state of 3 million will travel to Ames and pay a $30 fee that may determine who will be president of a nation of 311 million.” Actually, the poll is by no means the final determinant in the race, and the caucus isn’t until Feb. 6, 2012, but a poor showing in the poll might eliminate a candidate or two.
Competing with the festivities in Iowa, Texas Gov. Rick Perry will announce his presidential bid Saturday in Charleston, and that will surely rock the boat. His entrance is timed to coincide with the attention in Ames, but also to avoid the poll and the debate, which many watchers say he “won” by virtue of not being there.
Back in July, we said the race really boiled down to three or four candidates — Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, Tim Pawlenty and Rick Perry. Unless Pawlenty wins or finishes a close second in Ames, however, we will likely strike him from that list — especially given his rather lackluster performance in last night’s debate. He and Bachmann spent most of their energy attacking each other. Pawlenty hasn’t gained the kind of traction we expected for an experienced governor who offers a pretty solid conservative choice. Newsweek had some fun with its cover photo of Bachmann this week (more on that below), but she continues to enjoy strong Tea Party support. As for Romney, still the frontrunner, Obama’s campaign has already signaled that they think he will be the nominee with their leaked intention to “kill Romney” – figuratively, of course, but what is it with this intemperate rhetoric from the Left?
The elephant not in the room last night, Rick Perry, is running well in most polls. His entrance is more likely to hurt Bachmann and the rest of the field than to dent Romney’s support — for now, anyway. Perry was elected governor to succeed George W. Bush in 2000, and he is serving his third term. He was a Democrat until 1989, and he even campaigned for Al Gore in his 1988 presidential bid, back when a Texas Democrat was a far different animal. In fact, he jokes, “I was 25 years old before I think I ever met a person who would admit being a Republican.”
Perry has a long way to go to convince conservatives that he’s the “real deal,” however. Some conservatives find a few things on Perry’s record to be disqualifying — whether his push for the Trans Texas Corridor, a $150 billion transportation network through the state, his 2007 executive order requiring teenage girls to be vaccinated against cervical cancer, or Texas’ possible $27 billion budget deficit this year. The state receives sizable chunks of federal money, but Perry also rejected $555 million in “stimulus” cash in 2009. His record on energy is good — being from Texas helps — and he’s been a frequent and vocal critic of the EPA’s policies. And according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Lone Star State added 732,000 private sector jobs in the last decade, while no other state cracked 100,000.
Socially, Perry is very conservative, though he seems to be having a tough time reconciling that with his 10th Amendment support. In July, he said that New York had the right to legalize same-sex marriage, but that he would support a constitutional amendment preserving traditional marriage. He hopes the Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade, returning the issue to the states, but that he “would support amending the U.S. Constitution … to protect innocent life.” His statements are not complete contradictions, but he should clarify where he stands. (Erring on the side of the 10th Amendment is a good start.) He hosted a prayer rally at Houston’s Reliant Stadium last week, too — an event attended by 32,000 people.
The bottom line is that Perry’s entrance will shake things up in the GOP field. In fact, it may be a few candidates smaller come next week as a result. The question is whether he’s the genuine article, and, at this point, that’s open for debate.
Our staff works long hours and they have earned some RR with their families prior to the resumption of the school year. Thus, they will be out on a recess — or, as Congress now calls it, a “District Work Period,” next week. The daily Founder’s Quote, Patriot News Review and The Right Opinion will still be available per our normal posting schedule. Please visit the website for those resources. We’ll be back with the Brief on Aug. 22.
On the Campaign Trail: Newsweek’s Bachmann Cover
Childish, mean-spirited ridicule from the Left is often a rite of passage for popular conservative figures in the country, and this week Michele Bachmann came of age. Newsweek published a cover photo of the Minnesota congresswoman and presidential candidate that unflatteringly portrays as her as a wild-eyed “Queen of Rage.” It’s just the latest in a series of attempted slams at the increasingly popular Bachmann, who has gained a strong following among conservatives. That’s why reports have poured out of the media about migraines, slanderous speculation about her husband’s sexuality, and of course her strong ties to the Tea Party, which leftists now deride as economic “terrorists.”
Bachmann had no comment about the matter, but, surprisingly, even the National Organization for Women spoke out on her behalf. NOW has long been nothing more than a tool of the Left — siding with Hillary Clinton during her media grilling, but not Sarah Palin; remaining silent about Bill Clinton’s skirt-chasing antics in Arkansas and the White House, but pouncing on every irresponsible Republican they could find. This week, though, NOW President Terry O’Neill broke that double standard, stating that Bachmann “is a serious viable candidate for the United States presidency and there is no male viable candidate who has ever been treated this way.” O’Neill’s statement may have been anti-Newsweek, but it was not pro-Bachmann — she noted more than once that she wants to defeat Bachmann.
As for Newsweek, its readership has shrunk to insignificance, and the magazine is now little more than PC coffee table reading of a paltry few. Its fawning coverage of Obama before and during his campaign and through much of his presidency earned it the nickname “Obamaweek” from The Weekly Standard. Newsweek’s coverage of Michele Bachmann is meant to be digested by leftists only, and there’s no reason for clearer minds to bother with it.
News From the Swamp: The Debt ‘Super Committee’
Capitol Hill Democrats and Republicans have announced their 12 picks for the so-called Congressional Super Committee that is charged with finding a way to reduce the debt by $1.5 trillion over 10 years. The evenly split bipartisan committee will have until Thanksgiving to agree on a plan, and speculation is rampant about what that plan will look like, or if it will even materialize. Based on the picks, the latter is most likely.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) chose Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) to co-chair the committee while also managing her duties as chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. It’s a sure bet that any debt decision she makes will be geared toward holding on to the Democrats’ majority in 2012, regardless of the cost. The other Democrats are Sen. John Kerry (MA), fresh from his labeling of the Standard Poor’s credit move a “Tea Party downgrade,” and Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (MT), who is somewhat more reasonable than either of his colleagues. From the Republican side of the Senate, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) appointed Sens. Jon Kyl (AZ), Rob Portman (OH), and Pat Toomey (PA), the only member of the committee who voted against the debt-ceiling hike.
On the House side, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) named House Republican Conference Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) as co-chair with Murray. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman David Camp (R-MI) and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) were also named to the committee. Upton is probably the only one of the three with a spotty record. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Chairman of the Budget Committee, would have been an obvious choice, but, though he approved of the selections, he requested that Boehner not appoint him so he could focus on the budget process. House Democrat leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) chose three defenders of the entitlement status quo in Minority Whip Rep. James Clyburn (SC), Chris Van Hollen (MD) and Xavier Becerra (CA).
The Republican picks demonstrate a wide degree of fiscal experience in the congressional, executive and private sectors. The GOP’s goal is to reform entitlements — the biggest drivers of the debt. They also want to tackle tax reforms that will aid our bleak economy, not punish the wealthy. Democrats have signaled with their picks that they are entrenched in calling for higher taxes and resisting entitlement reform. No surprise at all.
For more on the SP credit downgrade and what it means for American Liberty, see Mark Alexander’s essay, The Obama Degrade.
Recess? What Recess?
A few House Republicans are holding the fort against Barack Obama’s recess appointments this month while the rest of their colleagues are on August recess. According to the Constitution, the president may make unilateral temporary appointments to various agencies when Congress is not in session. However, neither the House nor the Senate may adjourn without the consent of the other chamber. The nine GOP representatives are holding pro-forma sessions every three days, thereby blocking the Senate from adjourning and preventing any Obama appointments. They are freshmen Jeff Landry (LA), Andy Harris (MD), Jeff Duncan (SC), Mick Mulvaney (SC), Jeff Denham (CA), Trey Gowdy (SC), Steve Stivers (OH), Allen West (FL), as well as three-term Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH).
The most recent benefit of this maneuver has been the House’s blocking of Richard Cordray’s appointment as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. These Republicans are living up to a promise made by 77 freshmen in June to do whatever was necessary to prevent Obama’s ability to make another recess appointment. This procedure isn’t new; Obama’s two most recent predecessors were also stumped by it. Yet it still didn’t stop Bill Clinton from making 139 recess appointments, or George W. Bush from making 171. Obama has made 21 in two-and-a-half years, due in part to the actions of Republicans like the group currently meeting in the House.
Unions Stumble in Wisconsin Recall Elections
Earlier this year, Wisconsin’s Republican legislature and GOP Gov. Scott Walker made a series of reforms that took a bite out of public unions’ lavish benefits. Predictably, the unions threw a tantrum. First, they spent millions to defeat a conservative justice on the state supreme court to help them win legal challenges. That didn’t work, but they also forced several GOP lawmakers into recall elections. Those were held Tuesday, and, for the most part, that didn’t work either. Republicans won four out of six elections — a major blow to the unions and their allies, who once again spent millions to try to buy victory. One of the losing Republicans represented a heavily Democrat district, and the other was plagued by scandal and lost only narrowly. The four victors, however, also represented districts Barack Obama won in 2008.
Round three will be recall elections next Tuesday for two Democrats who fled the state earlier this year in a vain attempt to obstruct Republicans in passing budget legislation. Delusional Democrats are trying to cast Tuesday’s outcome as a win, but it’s possible that the unions could go 0-for-3 if Democrats lose next week. Who would have thought it possible in Wisconsin, the home of “progressivism”?
Warfront With Jihadistan: SEALs Suffer Tremendous Loss
The Long War continues, and, sadly, more of America’s best and bravest gave their last full measure this week. While every battle casualty, regardless of circumstances, is a tragedy, this most recent loss is notable for both the size of the loss, as well as who was lost. Last weekend, jihadis shot down a CH-47 Chinook in eastern Afghanistan, killing 38 people. Among the dead were 30 Americans, most of whom belonged to the Navy SEAL unit that killed Osama bin Laden. Seven Afghan commandos were also killed. It was the deadliest single loss for American forces in the decade-old Afghan war. The loss of so many members of SEAL Team 6 just months after terminating bin Laden is a heavy blow. Although none of the 22 SEALs killed was part of the bin Laden hit team, they belonged to the same unit.
Thankfully, it appears that the jihadis who downed the helicopter joined bin Laden on Monday. Marine Corps General John R. Allen, senior Afghan commander, said the U.S. military tracked the terrorists after the helicopter was downed, and a strike by an F-16 sent the group of 10 or so jihadis to their awaiting virgins.
In regard to the OBL mission, an interesting development: Hollywood is planning to release a movie about the SEAL team and its mission next October, obviously timed to remind voters of Obama’s “very gutsy call” and give him a boost heading into Election Day. Though we caution you consider the source, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd writes, “The moviemakers are getting top-level access to the most classified mission in history from an administration that has tried to throw more people in jail for leaking classified information than the Bush administration.” The Defense Department denies the charge.
On the Iraqi front, Obama’s famed “phased withdrawal,” which he said would “change the political dynamic in Iraq” is nearing its end and the “political dynamic” in Iraq is far from changed. Recognizing this, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said that all of Iraq’s political factions, with the exception of Moqtada al-Sadr’s cohorts, want a sizable number of U.S. troops to stay and train Iraqi forces, no doubt hoping a sizable U.S. presence will help stabilize the still-fragile democracy there. Here’s hoping Obama will recognize that reality, but he has yet to recognize any reality, anywhere.
Profiles of Valor
Kimberly Vaughn, wife of SEAL Aaron Vaughn, who was among 30 American Patriots and seven Afghan allies killed on Aug. 6, offered these words to CNN: “There was no way — even if you could tell him that this would have happened he would have done it anyway. All those men are like that. They’re selfless. I want to tell the world that he was an amazing man, that he was a wonderful husband and a fabulous father to two wonderful children. He was a warrior for Christ and he was a warrior for our country and he wouldn’t want to leave this Earth any other way than how he did.” When CNN aired her comments in subsequent stories, however, “He was a warrior for Christ” was, despicably, edited out.
The Syrian Problem
Finally, after nearly five months of escalating violence by the Syrian regime against its own people, the Obama administration appears ready to call for Bashar al-Assad to step down from power. Casual followers of international news might have expected the White House to call for Assad to step down after he turned tanks against civilians, or after he orchestrated a mob attack against the U.S. Embassy in Damascus, but they would have been mistaken. Neither of those events, nor the estimated 2,000 or more civilian deaths that Assad is responsible for, were enough to sway the administration to call for his resignation, or even to withdraw the U.S. Ambassador from Syria. No, the administration was too busy praising Assad as “a reformer.” But now, when even regional Arab nations such as Saudi Arabia have begun recalling their diplomats, it appears Barack Obama is finally ready to lead from behind.
The usual suspects appear equally determined to prevent calling Assad to account. The Russians opposed even a proposal for the UN’s human rights section to brief the full General Assembly on events in Syria, as if reviewing what everyone already knows would be too upsetting. “We believe that the crucial thing for the international community is to make sure that the dialogue starts,” said Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s UN envoy. Assad and the protesters have been exchanging dialogue since March — a decidedly one-sided dialogue expressed mostly with brute force and bullets. Serious people have asked the serious question of why NATO has bombed Libya for five months due to that regime’s murderous rampage against protesters, but Syria is somehow off limits even to diplomatic coercion. A resolute call for Assad to step down should have taken place months and many lives ago.
Communities Against Terrorism
The FBI in Denver recently released a flyer listing “potential indicators of terrorist activities related to military surplus stores.” On the one hand, DHS/FEMA has an entire preparedness division and many of these items used to be standard on household lists during the Cold War. On the other hand, anybody who follows the Boy Scouts motto — “Be Prepared” — could find themselves on the terrorist watch list. Specifically, anyone who pays with cash to make bulk purchases of Meals Read to Eat (MREs), high-capacity magazines or bi-pods for rifles could be suspicious. The point is that the FBI warning goes a lot farther than terrorists. In fact, our nation’s Founders might have been on FBI watch lists.
Income Redistribution: More Money to Fannie
In a typical example of the economic failure of Barack Obama’s big government policies, the SP downgraded not just the credit rating of the nation but also those of government mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and other agencies linked to long-term U.S. debt. While Democrats continue to blame the refereeing of the SP in addition to scapegoating the Tea Party (which, by the way, didn’t incur $15 trillion in national debt) or the inability of voters to understand the genius of Mr. Obama, we think what leftists aren’t saying is the true reason. It’s also the very reason cited by the SP for downgrading these government mortgage entities: too much debt.
Since Fannie Mae was seized by the U.S. government in 2008, it has been given about $104 billion in taxpayer funds to stay afloat. Together with Freddie Mac, the two entities’ bad debt has consumed $169 billion of taxpayer money. As if wasting that isn’t enough, a 2010 report by the Federal Housing Finance Agency estimated Freddie and Fannie might end up costing taxpayers as much as $363 billion through 2013. The only reservation is that the report assumes the U.S. housing market recovers and the country doesn’t experience a double-dip recession. Never content with bungling everything, the federal government reportedly is considering turning repossessed Freddie and Fannie homes into cheap rentals with burdensome and complicated rules. What could possibly go wrong?
Regulatory Commissars: Tentative Steps in Alaska
The Obama administration finally allowed Shell Oil to begin the process of obtaining the necessary permits and authorizations to drill in Alaska as soon as next year. It’s a hopeful sign after the virtual shutdown of drilling over the last 15 months. Predictably, there are a few caveats, as Interior Secretary Ken Salazar still stressed the need for additional government oversight and study of drilling in Arctic conditions. While the waters off Alaska are far shallower than those found under a number of Gulf wells, the climatic conditions and lack of infrastructure in the far reaches of the region could make spill response difficult. Also embedded in the memory of many Alaskans is the damage caused by the massive Exxon Valdez spill in 1989. Until Deepwater Horizon, that was regarded as our nation’s worst oil-related accident.
Alaska Republican Gov. Sean Parnell has established a goal of one million barrels per day through the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline by the end of this decade, yet he needs the cooperation of the federal government, which owns nearly 70 percent of Alaska’s land mass. That mass includes the hotly disputed Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR, where millions of barrels of oil have remained untapped as the debate over drilling on that frigid wasteland has raged for more than a decade.
While the bickering between envirofascists, the oil industry, and the federal government continues in a number of venues, we still need energy. We hope this latest development is the start of a thawing for energy exploration up north.
Opening Up the Trade Door
They have been several years in the making, but passage of free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea may finally be on the horizon. These agreements were stalled by union and Obama administration opposition, which led to the inclusion of a $1.5 billion trade adjustment assistance package within the South Korean pact. That made it a non-starter among fiscally conservative House Republicans, but the administration wouldn’t turn over any trade agreement to Congress without that proviso included.
Finally, in the wake of persistent high unemployment, Obama caved. He may have also seen the rest of the world taking advantage of America’s lack of urgency in passing these deals. South Korea recently inked a $10 billion pact with the European Union, allowing those markets to take advantage of each other’s strengths. Meanwhile, Canada and Columbia forged their own trade alliance that will take effect later this month. It’s a deal certain to reduce America’s market share in that rapidly growing South American republic, a nation that’s one of our staunchest allies on the continent and serves as a counterweight to Hugo Chavez in Venezuela.
The trade adjustment assistance package may still pass as a separate bill, but the unions that loudly denounced some of these agreements will no longer hold them hostage. “Let them complain,” said one Democrat staffer. Opening up key markets to American goods could be a big job creator, and whether they’re union jobs or not should be irrelevant.
Village Academic Curriculum: NCLB Waivers
The Obama administration is once again making use of the waiver to circumvent Congress, this time offering a pass to states that don’t want to be held to the educational standards set by No Child Left Behind (NCLB). As justification for this move, Education Secretary Arne Duncan stated simply, “Congress is dysfunctional.” On that note, at least, he’ll get no argument from us. But true to form, Obama and his henchmen are playing on public perception, in this case, of Congress’ performance — or lack thereof — to mask the real issue. This is, of course, the administration’s utter contempt for the American form of government.
NCLB, the late Ted Kennedy’s brainchild, was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2002 and mandated that students be “proficient” in math and reading by 2014. Under the current guidelines, however, 82 percent of American public schools will be deemed failing by next year under a virtually impossible one-size-fits-all standard. No one is arguing that the law doesn’t need to be reworked, and, in fact, Republican lawmakers have come up with three separate bills to address NCLB’s shortcomings. These measures would limit the federal role in education and give more flexibility to the states, including allowing them to opt out altogether. They were to be voted on this fall, but apparently that wasn’t fast enough for Obama and company.
Not surprisingly, Secretary Duncan has neglected to release the details of the waivers, but this much is known: They are not unconditional. States applying for the waivers must submit to certain federal demands, including national standards. “The standards will be high. The bar will be high,” said Melody Barnes, director of the White House’s Domestic Policy Council. “Accountability will remain one of the bellwethers for our system as it has in the past.” Except when it comes to holding the administration accountable, anyway.
‘Flash Mobs’ Have Racial Element Both Here and in UK
If you’re unaware of the epidemic of black-against-white violence that’s plaguing cities in the U.S. and beyond, you’re not alone. In the past few years, black “flash mobs” have attacked innocent white victims apparently based solely on race — often inflicting serious or even deadly injury. Yet, instead of reporting the stories fully, most in the Leftmedia have raced to cover up the perpetrators’ race. As John Bennett writes in the American Thinker, “The hateful murders of Matthew Shepard, who was gay, and James Byrd, Jr., who was black, were memorialized with national legislation. When similar crimes are committed by blacks against whites, they are greeted with ignominious silence.” For those brave enough to say something, the accusation of “race-baiting” awaits. “Presumably, it would not be considered race-baiting if the races were reversed,” Bennett writes of this double standard.
Just last week in Wisconsin, black-against-white flash-mob violence at the state fair led to 11 injuries and 31 arrests. In Philadelphia, mob violence led Mayor Michael Nutter — himself black — to tell black youths, “You’ve damaged yourself, you’ve damaged another person, you’ve damaged your peers and, quite honestly, you’ve damaged your own race. Parents who neglect their children, who don’t know where they are, who don’t know what they’re doing, who don’t know who they’re hanging out with, you’re going to find yourself spending some quality time with your kids in jail.” Good for the mayor. And over in London, a few brave souls have stated the obvious: that the majority of the rioters are black.
We don’t think it’s coincidence that many of the cities where flash-mob violence has occurred — Detroit, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, New York — have for decades been run by leftists. Given the non-consequences faced by perpetrators in the now-famous Black Panther voter intimidation case (thank you, Obama Justice Department), flash mobs probably know there will be no repercussions for acts of violence. What there will be, though, is protection for the perpetrators behind a media too steeped in politically correct hogwash to report the truth.
Algore got a bit hot under the collar the other day as he was complaining about opposition to his big-government climate agenda. During remarks at an Aspen Institute forum, he had an ox to gore. He assailed climate-change skeptics as those who “pay pseudo-scientists to pretend to be scientists, to put out the message: ‘This climate thing, it’s nonsense. Man-made CO2 doesn’t trap heat. It may be volcanoes.’”
“Bulls–t!” thundered Gore. “‘It may be sun spots.’ Bulls–t! ‘It’s not getting warmer.’ Bulls–t!” Hey, if anybody knows anything about the subject of barnyard excrement, it’s Gore.
He wasn’t finished, either. “There are about 10 other memes that are out there, and when you go and talk to any audience about climate, you hear them washing back at you. The same crap, over and over and over again,” he whined. “There is no longer a shared reality on an issue like climate even though the very existence of our civilization is threatened. People have no idea!” he cried. “It’s no longer acceptable in mixed company, meaning bipartisan company, to use the g–d–n word ‘climate.’”
We understand why the Nobel-, Oscar-, and Grammy-winner is all worked up. After all, he’s made nearly a billion dollars doling out this global warming alarmism while denying the inconvenient truth that the science is far from “settled.” Still, it sounds like somebody needs to take a serious chill pill.
Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
The Patriot Post Editorial Team