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5/26/2012 - "The demeanor of the alternate jurors [in the Edwards trial] and their behavior has become the talk of the courthouse. The alternates enter the courtroom each day giggling among themselves. One of the alternates, an attractive young woman, has been spotted smiling at Edwards and flipping her hair in what seems to some to be a flirtatious manner. On Friday, she wore a revealing red top with a single strap and an exposed right shoulder." The Washington Post (Submitted by Steffen Schmidt)

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5/15/2012 - The chief national political reporter for Bloomberg News asked me yesterday if the filibuster has been overused and abused in Congress. My answer was, "We are NOT seeing abuse of the filibuster -- it's much worse than that! We are seeing abuse of the THREAT of filibuster that is totally counter to what the founders and the constitution expected when the three-fourths rule was put in place. It was meant as a LAST resort and extreme measure of urgency to be used rarely to block legislation seen as likely to pass but dangerous by one member of the Senate.

The filibuster was not intended to paralyze the democratic process. Thomas Jefferson is rolling in his grave and planning to come back at night and haunt John Boehner! (By Steffen "Dr Politics" Schmidt)

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3/24/2012 - "Mitt Romney is getting fewer small donors at $200 and less) than any of the other GOP contenders and much less than Barak Obama. That's a huge problem!

First, it is a bad perception problem especially for Romney since he is the super rich guy who can't seem to connect with average Americans in the first place. If he gets the nomination the Democrats are sure to wallop him on that issue.

Second, it's an "enthusiasm and turnout" issue as well. People who give to a candidate have "bought" the product and will likely want their money's worth by also voting for him. Millions of ten dollar donors each have a vote so that's millions of votes. Thirty billionaires each giving a million dollars is great money but only 30 votes. You do the math."  Steffen Schmidt for Bloomberg News

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It is now quite lawful for a Catholic woman to avoid pregnancy by a resort to mathematics, though she is still forbidden to resort to physics or chemistry.  ~H.L. Mencken, *Notebooks*, 1956   *AMEN* (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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3/9/2012 - When Scott Walker was the governor-elect of Wisconsin, he had a vision. In 1981, his childhood hero, Ronald Reagan, fired more than eleven thousand striking air-traffic controllers and banned them from being rehired for life. Their union was destroyed. As Walker put it later, "That was the first crack in the Berlin Wall and the fall of Communism, because from that point forward the Soviets and the Communists knew that Ronald Reagan wasn't a pushover." - New Yorker writer William Finnegan  (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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"Moments after squeaking out a razor-thin victory in Super Tuesday’s crucial Ohio primary, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney was in an exuberant mood, telling supporters in Boston, “I stand before you tonight as the man people hate slightly less than Rick Santorum.” Mr. Romney said that he hoped to take the momentum of being marginally less despised than Mr. Santorum all the way to the Republican convention in Tampa. “The voters of Ohio have said that they want the lesser of two evils,” he told the crowd, “and I am lesser.” The Borowitz (Humor) Report (Submitted by Steffen Schmidt)

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3/2/2012 - "Some people were surprised by my conclusion, yet I have spoken on the floor of the Senate for years about the dysfunction and political polarization in the institution. Simply put, the Senate is not living up to what the Founding Fathers envisioned. During the Federal Convention of 1787, James Madison wrote in his Notes of Debates that “the use of the Senate is to consist in its proceedings with more coolness, with more system, and with more wisdom, than the popular branch.” Indeed, the Founding Fathers intended the Senate to serve as an institutional check that ensures all voices are heard and considered, because while our constitutional democracy is premised on majority rule, it is also grounded in a commitment to minority rights." Maine Senator Olympia Snowe  (Submitted by Steffen Schmidt)

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Rush Limbaugh's attack on Sandra Fluke on his nationally syndicated radio talk show:

"What does it say…. that she (Sandra Fluke*) essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She's having so much sex she can't afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex. What does that make us? The pimps." (WEDNESDAY'S TIRADE)

"So Miss Fluke, and the rest of you Feminazis, here’s the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch." (THURSDAY'S TIRADE) 

*Sandra Fluke, a law student at Georgetown U. (a Jesuit school), was asked to testify before Congress about the importance of contraception coverage for the women at religiously affiliated organizations. (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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2 - 21 - 2012 - Mitt Romney says that he opposed the government bailout of Detroit because the private market would have provided loans so GM and Chrysler could go through managed bankruptcy, but it turns out the firm Romney once led, Bain Capital, turned down the chance to do so. The government's auto task force asked Bain Capitol if it would like to invest in GM's European operations, The New York Times'  Jeremy W. Peters reports, but Bain said no thanks. Detroit executives and Obama administration officials say that Romney is wrong: government money was necessary because at the worst of the financial crisis, private companies would not have lent the $80 billion the automakers needed. Based on The Times report, we now know that the government's argument was true in the case of at least one company: the one Romney helped found and shape. - Elspeth Reeve The Atlantic Wire (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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"Glenn Beck wrote this week that on the issue of forcing Catholic institutions to provide contraceptives to their employees there must be total separation of church and state - "when it comes to separation of church and state we need absolutes" he claimed. So Glenn, I assume you also object to the state telling Mormons they can only have one wife. Right? There should be "total" separation of state and faith. Right? "

Steffen Schmidt comments in the Washington Post, 2-21-2012. (Note: Beck is a Mormon)

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1 - 2 - 2012 - New Rule If you were a Republican in 2011, and you liked Donald Trump, and then you liked Michele Bachmann, and then you liked Rick Perry, and then you liked Herman Cain, and then you liked Newt Gingrich ... you can still hate Mitt Romney, but you can’t say it’s because he’s always changing his mind. - Bill Maher (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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1 - 1 - 2012 - “The media coverage of Gingrich’s many problems after he hit first place where what really hurt him because most people didn’t know or had forgotten about his “colorful” past and his rise was due to his excellent debate performances.  Also the attacks by former colleagues and GOP elders didn’t not help at all even though we think that the “establishment” is not respected by the Tea Party. Their major attacks hit their mark with many Iowa GOP caucus participants who after all want a candidate who at least has the support of most of his own party.”  Steffen Schmidt, USA Today

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12 - 31 - 2011 - "It's a year when no candidate is able to fulfill the expectations of the Republicans," says Steffen Schmidt, an Iowa State University political scientist who has watched politics in the state for four decades. "You can't be a faith-based Christian social conservative and at the same time also have a nuanced position on how to run for the general election as well as have good credentials to deal with jobs and the economy."

“No wonder that several candidates have faded under scrutiny,” Schmidt says. “Expectations are oversized at a time many Republicans fear that failure to deny President Obama a second term would be catastrophic for the country.” USA Today

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12 - 15 - 2011 - "Without a big middle class there will be no recovery. Millionaires only buy 4 cars. The middle class buys thousands." - by Steffen Schmidt

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10 - 13 - 2011 - Re the New Hampshire GOP debate - I blogged it live for WNYC New York – here was our consensus – we always vote at the end of each of these sessions.

  • Romney won.
  • Santorum was the kid in the group. No gain here.
  • Perry did NOTHING for himself. Looked like he was reading from cue cards.
  • Bachmann slides further south.
  • Cain talked crazy and did not help himself.
  • Newt was, well, Newt – the sarcastic professor. He stays stuck wherever he is.
  • Huntsman continues to be the best possibility to challenge Obama  ... Wait for it ... Wait for it ... In the DEMOCRATIC primaries!  
  • Ron Paul expanded his passionate Paulista base – He could rise a few points.

Submitted by Steffen Schmidt

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9 - 6 - 2011 - Looks like we had 17,000 thousand new private sector jobs in August, which were 100 percent offset by 17,000 lost jobs in the public sector. The striking zero result should galvanize minds, but it’s worth noting that this has been the trend all year. The public sector has been steadily shrinking. According to the conservative theory of the economy, when the public sector shrinks that should super-charge the private sector. What’s happened in the real world has been that public sector shrinkage has simply been paired with anemic private sector growth. This is what I’ve called “The Conservative Recovery.” Conservatives complain about the results because the President is a Democrat named Barack Obama. But the policy result is what conservatives say they want. Steady cuts to the government sector, offset somewhat by private sector growth. The reality is that this dynamic sucks, and we ought to be forcefully trying to avoid public sector layoffs knowing that workers are also customers for the private sector. But we’re not. The Conservative Recovery Teeters Into Recession. By Matthew Yglesias (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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“Obama has ruined the Democratic Party. The 2010 wipeout was an electoral catastrophe so bad you'd have to go back to 1894 to find comparable losses. From 2008 to 2010, according to Gallup, the fastest growing demographic party label was former Democrat. Obama took over the party in 2008 with 36 percent of Americans considering themselves Democrats. Within just two years, that number had dropped to 31 percent, which tied a 22-year low.:”What Democrats can do about Obama- A liberal argues that the 2012 Democratic nomination should be debated -- with all options open. By Matt Stolle (Submitted by Steffen Schmidt)

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8 - 28 - 2011 - There are no mandated standardized tests in Finland, apart from one exam at the end of students’ senior year in high school. There are no rankings, no comparisons or competition between students, schools or regions. Finland’s schools are publicly funded. The people in the government agencies running them, from national officials to local authorities, are educators, not business people, military leaders or career politicians. Every school has the same national goals and draws from the same pool of university-trained educators. The result is that a Finnish child has a good shot at getting the same quality education no matter whether he or she lives in a rural village or a university town. The differences between weakest and strongest students are the smallest in the world, according to the most recent survey by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). “Equality is the most important word in Finnish education. All political parties on the right and left agree on this,” said Olli Luukkainen, president of Finland’s powerful teachers union. -  Why are Finlands schools so successful? (the most successful in the world) Smithsonian magazine by LynNell Hancock (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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“Labor Day is traditionally a time for picnics and parades. But this year is no picnic for American workers, and a protest march would be more appropriate than a parade.

Not only are 25 million unemployed or underemployed, but American companies continue to cut wages and benefits. The median wage is still dropping, adjusted for inflation. High unemployment has given employers extra bargaining leverage to wring out wage concessions.

All told, it’s been the worst decade for American workers in a century. According to Commerce Department data, private-sector wage gains over the last decade have even lagged behind wage gains during the decade of the Great Depression (4 percent over the last ten years, adjusted for inflation, versus 5 percent from 1929 to 1939).

Big American corporations are making more money, and creating more jobs, outside the United States than in it. If corporations are people, as the Supreme Court’s twisted logic now insists, most of the big ones headquartered here are rapidly losing their American identity.” This Labor Day We Need Protest Marches Rather Than Parades By Robert Reich (Submitted by Steffen Schmidt)

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8 - 22 - 2011 - "I've been spending a lot of time on this and it seems like there's no possibility for anything but a contested convention...The media and pollsters want this to be decided in primaries? Well, who gives a rip who wins New Hampshire? There's a bunch of left-leaning lunatics up there." -Curly Haugland (a RNC committeeman from North Dakota) (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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Economist Jeffrey Sachs slammed President Obama on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Friday. "We're almost three years into this administration, and there's never been a plan. And that's what everybody feels. And the president didn't lead. He waited. The quintessential image, sadly, of an administration that I supported and hoped for much better, is the president waiting by the phone to hear what Congress calls to tell him. It doesn't work in this country that way. It's not a matter that it's August. It's a matter that it's August 2011. So we've been drifting for a very long time. And we've been drifting down. And we had a short-term plan that failed. A short-term stimulus that was supposed to get the economy back on track, but it failed. And now we have nothing behind it. And we have no agreements, and we have no leadership. And, frankly, I do think it's pretty odd the president's on vacation right now. Normally I wouldn't care about such things, but the world markets are in deep crisis. It's no joke. This isn't just an up-and-down little blip. This is a very serious situation." (Submitted by Steffen Schmidt)

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8 - 9 - 2011 - “The E.C.B. president Jean-Claude Trichet urged Spain and Italy to quickly shore up their credibility with the markets, and called on European leaders to move quickly to implement measures agreed on July 21 to bolster the euro -zone’s bailout fund.        

“Taken together, and particularly since Lehman Brothers, this is the most grave crisis we have faced since World War II,” he said in an interview with Europe 1 radio in Paris, citing the “financial turbulence” that started in August 2007. “And I believe that it would be the worst since World War 1 if the authorities had not taken the important decisions they have.” New York Times (Submitted by Steffen Schmidt)

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8 - 8 - 2011 - Regarding the debt ceiling vote in Congress where both of these members voted “NO!” 

“Veteran Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II (D-Mo.), 66, who heads the Congressional Black Caucus and called the debt deal a “sugar-coated Satan sandwich,” said the final deal would cost jobs, hammer the poorest, further stall the economy and likely inflate the deficit, all while asking nothing of the wealthiest Americans.

“We’re in a situation where people are voting against their own best interests, which is the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen,” Cleaver, a former Kansas City, Mo., mayor, told a union audience.

Freshman Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.)a 35-year-old Republican who has served in Congress for eight months, invoked Popeye’s moocher friend J. Wellington Wimpy in explaining he was “not persuaded by the logic that Congress would gladly pay Tuesday for a hamburger today.”

“What we ended up with was such an abdication of the responsibility we have to solve these issues,” he said. “I just couldn’t be there.”

Both Cleaver and Yoder represent the greater Kansas City region — at some spots, their constituents can literally wave to one another across State Line Road, which divides Kansas and Missouri.” From the Washington Post (Submitted by Steffen Schmidt) 

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7 - 30 - 2011 - I told them: be yourself. Share yourself. Be open with people. Explain what you stand for. Use yourself. This is what counts. This is what conveys values in the political arena. - Gro Harlem Brundtland, Norway's 1st female PM (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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“If the nation defaults on its financial obligations, the blame belongs to the Tea Party Republicans who fragged their own leader, John Boehner. They had victory in their hands and couldn’t bring themselves to support his debt-ceiling plan, which, if not perfect, was more than anyone could have imagined just a few months ago. No new taxes, significant spending cuts, a temporary debt-ceiling solution with the possibility of more spending cuts down the line as well as action on their beloved balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution. These people wouldn’t recognize a hot fudge sundae if the cherry started talking to them.” Kathleen Parker, Washington Post (Submitted by Steffen Schmidt)

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7 - 29 - 2011 - "Any business that is paid with taxpayer dollars, should be required to disclose their political expenditures to the taxpayers. With public dollars come public responsibilities." Rep. Anna Eshoo (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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“Moderation in politics is about balance. It means believing in a vibrant and innovative private sector and a government substantial enough to do what the private sector doesn't and to enforce sensible rules for economic competition. It means incentives for success, help for those making their way up, and security for the sick, the aging, the poor, the unlucky. It means equilibrium between our love of individualism and our desire for community. This, in turn, means that reducing the budget deficit can't rely only on cutting programs. Yes, taxes need to go up.

All the polls I have ever seen peg the vast majority of Americans as moderate by this definition.” EJ Dionne column, Wash Post (Submitted by Steffen Schmidt)

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7 - 28 - 2011 - “Where this country is headed under the Obama-Pelosi-Reid axis of fiscal evil is not uncharted territory. Greece has been there and done that. The Greeks borrowed too much and spent too much, and they cannot tax their way out of their problems. Greece has created such an entitlement class that its politicians cannot cut spending without being voted out of office. The Greek economy is going the way of the Death Star in “Star Wars,” and the final explosion should be just as spectacular.

Americans are angry at the federal government and do not want their taxes raised. Nor do they want Congress to borrow more, considering how poorly lawmakers have managed the money we give them. By  Judson Phillips in the Washington Post (Submitted by Steffen Schmidt)

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7 - 27 - 2011 - 1. Obama has ceased to lead on the economy:

The management guru Stephen Covey famously said: "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing." Economic recovery is -- or should be -- the main thing. In 2009, Obama advanced a series of bold proposals to accelerate recovery: his big fiscal stimulus, the auto bailout and so on.

The president's proposals did not fail, exactly. But they did not work as advertised. The American economy limps weakly forward, leaving millions out of work.

During the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt demanded from his administration "bold, persistent experimentation." By contrast, Obama put measures in place at the beginning and waited for them to yield results. And waited. And waited. And waited.

Finally, at the end of 2010, he added one more measure to the mix: a partial cut to the payroll tax, included as part of the deal that renewed the Bush tax cuts.

The payroll tax holiday is welcome if late. But it was small (2 percentage points out of the 12.6% paid by workers and employers) and was almost immediately offset by the surge in oil prices after the so-called Arab Spring. That surge took back from workers every dollar of the $110 billion in tax relief delivered by the payroll holiday.

And since December, Obama has surrendered entirely to the claim that we can somehow fix the economy by fixing the debt problem. The truth is the opposite: Fix the economy, and the debt problem will shrink to much more manageable proportions.----- David Frum  from his piece Obama's 5 Big MIstakes. (quote 1...the rest will follow) (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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7 - 24 - 2011 - “Mrs. Merkel, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and Prime Minister David Cameron in Britain all recently declared an end to multiculturalism. Multiculturalism 'has failed, utterly failed,' Mrs. Merkel told fellow Christian Democrats last October, though stressing that immigrants were welcome in Germany." - from Norway Attacks Put Spotlight on Rise of Right-Wing Sentiment in Europe (Submitted by Steffen Schmidt)

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"My ideal citizen is the self-employed, homeschooling, IRA-gun owning guy with a concealed-carry permit. Because that person doesn't need the goddamn government for anything since he is the 'real' man in charge." - Grover Norquist  (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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6 - 9 - 2011 - "It is now clear, according to the U.S. Department of Education's own description, that the Department is in violation of the law by which it was created. Our criticism of the nationalization of standards, curriculum, and assessments elicited the following statement from Peter Cunningham, spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Education: 'Just for the record: we are for high standards, not national standards and we are for a well-rounded curriculum, not a national curriculum. There is a big difference between funding development of curriculum -- which is something we have always done -- and mandating a national curriculum -- which is something we have never done. And yes -- we believe in using incentives to advance our agenda.' Let's leave aside the double-speak of how incentivizing is somehow different from mandating. Instead, let's focus on his admission that the Department is 'funding development of curriculum' and is 'using incentives to advance our agenda.' The 1979 law by which the U.S. Department of Education is authorized in its current form clearly prohibits these activities. It states (in section 103b): 'No provision of a program administered by the Secretary or by any other officer of the Department shall be construed to authorize the Secretary or any such officer to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system, over any accrediting agency or association, or over the selection or content of library resources, textbooks, or other instructional materials by any educational institution or school system, except to the extent authorized by law.' So, the spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Education says that they are funding development of curriculum, but the Department is expressly not authorized to direct, supervise, or control curriculum. They are also prohibited from directing, supervising, or controlling textbooks or other instructional materials" -- University of Arkansas Professor Jay Greene blogging at jaypgreene.com (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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6 - 8 - 2011 - "You can't really blame Republican power brokers who are pining for a more exciting entry to the race. They feel about this crop of willing candidates a little like any teenage girl would feel about the nice-enough guy who begs her to go to the prom six months out. All that availability just isn't very attractive. Surely there's some more popular kid who will come calling if you just hold out a little longer and drop some hints. But if history tells us anything, it's that you're always better off with the small-time or flawed candidate who really, desperately, wants to be president than with a more imposing or romantic figure who has to be persuaded to run. (Just ask President Wes Clark about that, or President Fred Thompson.) Democrats, you may recall, once dreamed of Mario Cuomo and had to settle, instead, for some yokel named Bill Clinton." -- reporter Matt Bai blogging at nytimes.com on May 25. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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6 - 7 - 2011 - "The same prudence which in private life would forbid our paying our own money for unexplained projects, forbids it in the dispensation of the public moneys." --Thomas Jefferson (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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6 - 1 - 2011 - Question: Suppose the Fed/Treasury decided to buy back debt, starting today, in order to keep the US under the debt limit....wouldn't it allow the government to function without defaulting on any outstanding public debt?

Answer by Economist Dean Baker of CEPR: The debt ceiling is a legal barrier, not an economic one. The Fed could buy every outstanding Treasury bond and that would not change the amount of debt owed by the federal government, it would just changes who owns the debt. (The interest would all be returned to the Treasury-- meaning no interest burden to the Treasury. This is something that progressive policy types would be  talking about, if there were any.) (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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5 - 28 - 2011 - With Goldman Sachs' latest high-profile hire, the Wall Street giant is unlikely to shake its Government Sachs nickname or the reputation for exerting undue influence in Washington that it implies.

Goldman announced Friday that it had named three-term Sen. Judd Gregg an international adviser to the bank. The New Hampshire Republican will "provide strategic advice to the firm and its clients, and assist in business development initiatives across our global franchise," Goldman said in a statement.

"Judd Gregg's experience and insight will contribute significantly to our firm and our continuing focus on supporting economic growth," said Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman's chairman and CEO. - Marcus Baram (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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5 - 22 - 2011 - On the decision by Gov. Mitch Daniels not to run for President, “Mr. Daniels probably saw that he is lacking the one essential quality to run in the GOP field. He is not demonstrably a fruitcake.” AG Wilmette (Submitted by Steffen Schmidt)

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5 - 21 - 2011 - “As Obama stands for reelection next year, history and the power of incumbency are on his side. Other than Democrat Jimmy Carter in 1980, no president in the last century was turned out of office just four years after taking the White House from the opposing party.” Departures from GOP field stir a call to the undeclared, By  Mark Arsenault, Boston Globe (Submitted by Steffen Schmidt)

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5 - 19 - 2011 - So Donald Trump fired himself. Before he even tried to get the job. And he is laughing all the way to the several score banks he must do business with -- and perhaps also to higher ratings.

"Who wins out of this deal? Trump. Lord knows the monetary value of all the publicity he got as the media (including, briefly, yours truly) took seriously the possibility that he would run for president. Cable television especially hung on his every outlandish charge, and turned him, briefly, into the political-analyst-in-chief....

"Who has a lot to answer for? Members of the media...

"There is now a strange symbiosis where self-promotion, goosing ratings, selling books, kicking off a new TV season, winning more page-views and upping speaking fees all get masked together and the resulting porridge gets labeled as "politics." Mike Huckabee (for whom I confess to having a soft spot) and Sarah Palin (for whom I do not have a comparable soft spot) have all used the political media to enhance their market value. Now Trump – in a much shorter time -- has done the same. And the Republican contest for the presidency has been reduced to one big marketing exercise.

"Think of it as the privatization of American politics. Issues, schmissues. Celebrity rules." - EJ Dionne (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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5 - 18 - 2011 - "It looks like this Tony Kushner fiasco is going to become the litmus test for how people view university trustees, and my fellow blogger Todd Gitlin has made his perspective clear, asking about 'the role of know-nothings and yahoos in governing universities whose commitments and obligations they do not begin to understand.' Academic snobbery sure is alive and well, huh? I personally wish there were more Jeffrey Wiesenfelds out there willing to question the propaganda that passes for academic debate these days. I think Kushner's views on Israel are pretty despicable and I don't think his freedom of speech is being violated just because he doesn't get to receive an honorary degree. Moreover, to say that you are giving him an award for his art not his politics is disingenuous, to say the least. Clearly the man whose current Broadway offering is 'The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism With a Key to the Scriptures' is a guy who keeps his art and politics separate. Right? . . . In recent years there has been plenty of talk about how active trustees can help universities be more accountable to students, parents, and taxpayers. I am not hopeful. While there are some trustees who take a serious interest in what goes on at their campuses, far too many just write checks to their alma maters, attend football games and have nice dinners with the college president. . . . What qualifies you to be a trustee in the eyes of most faculty is your willingness to part with large sums of money in return for getting to keep your mouth shut" -- author Naomi Schaefer Riley blogging at chronicle.com (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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5 - 17 - 2011 - "I regret, as much as any member, the unavoidable weight and duration of the burdens to be imposed; having never been a proselyte to the doctrine, that public debts are public benefits. I consider them, on the contrary, as evils which ought to be removed as fast as honor and justice will permit." --James Madison (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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5 - 16 - 2011 - "Senator Obama opposed tribunals, renditions, Guantanamo, preventive detention, Predator-drone attacks, the Iraq War, wiretaps, and intercepts -- before President Obama either continued or expanded nearly all of them, in addition to embracing targeted assassinations, new body scanning and patdowns at airports, and a third preemptive war against an oil-exporting Arab Muslim nation -- this one including NATO efforts to kill the Qaddafi family. The only thing more surreal than Barack Obama's radical transformation is the sudden approval of it by the once hysterical Left. In Animal Farm and 1984 fashion, the world we knew in 2006 has simply been airbrushed away" -- historian Victor Davis Hanson writing at National Review Online (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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From an article by Nate Anderson - (Meredith Attwell Baker, one of the two Republican Commissioners at the Federal Communications Commission, plans to step down—and right into a top lobbying job at Comcast-NBC (a mere) four months after approving the massive transaction)

"No wonder the public is so nauseated by business as usual in Washington—where the complete capture of government by industry barely raises any eyebrows. The continuously revolving door at the FCC continues to erode any prospects for good public policy. We hope—but won't hold our breath—that her replacement will be someone who is not just greasing the way for their next industry job." - Free Press' Craig Aaron (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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5 - 14 - 2011 - To say that someone “did well” at the Republican debate in South Carolina, which proved to be a ridiculous and embarrassing spectacle, is akin to saying someone “did well” on Celebrity Apprentice. It bears no resemblance to “doing well” in terms of proposing or explaining policies that might improve our Republic, or in displaying anything like presidential wisdom or leadership. It means the candidate pandered successfully to nutballs. - joe klein (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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"The great hypocrisy of politicians who oppose school choice is that most claim allegiance to a party and philosophy that so often claims the moral high ground as defenders of the disadvantaged. Yet they callously oppose an opportunity to provide a better educational choice for children because they have a large constituency in unions. If education policy is truly about providing our children with the best opportunities possible, we ought to be enacting school choice everywhere we can" -- former Rep. Dick Armey (R., Texas) (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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5 - 13 - 2011 - "To preserve independence...we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and Liberty, or profusion and servitude. ... The fore horse of this frightful team is public debt. Taxation follow that, and in its turn wretchedness and oppression." --Thomas Jefferson  (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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This week, Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin and the chairman of the House Budget Committee, told reporters, “We shouldn’t be giving corporate farms, these large agribusiness companies, subsidies. I strongly believe that.”

...In 2011, taxpayers are projected to pay roughly $16 billion in aid to farmers through various programs....The most controversial of these programs are the $5 billion in annual so-called direct payments to farmers of corn, soybeans and other crops, awarded simply for owning tillable farm land, even if they do not plant on it.

“If we can’t figure out a way at this point to trim these payments,” said Representative Ron Kind, Democrat of Wisconsin, who has long fought against farm subsidies, “then it is just embarrassing.” - Jennifer Steinhauer - Farm Subsidies Become Target Amid Spending Cuts  (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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5 - 9 - 2011 - Five GOP presidential wannabes were in the state this weekend for back-to-back cattle calls with Granite State Republicans. The results were so underwhelming that Fergus Cullen, former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party declared, “The race needs more responsible adults who can actually do the job.” - from a post at bluehampshire.com (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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5 - 8 - 2011 - "The great hypocrisy of politicians who oppose school choice is that most claim allegiance to a party and philosophy that so often claims the moral high ground as defenders of the disadvantaged. Yet they callously oppose an opportunity to provide a better educational choice for children because they have a large constituency in unions. If education policy is truly about providing our children with the best opportunities possible, we ought to be enacting school choice everywhere we can" -- former Rep. Dick Armey (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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Since the election of Barack Obama, the Republican Party has proved that one of its central intellectual arguments was right all along. It has long claimed that evolution is a myth believed in only by whiny liberals – and it turns out it was on to something. Every six months, the party venerates a new hero, and each time it is somebody further back on the evolutionary scale. - Johann Hari: Donald Trump's lunacy reveals core truth about the Republicans (He is the Republican id - finally entirely unleashed from all restraint and reality) (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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5 - 7 - 2011 - Indiana is about to become the first state to block funding for Planned Parenthood. House Bill 1210 would prevent the state from dealing with "any entity that performs abortions or maintains or operates a facility where abortions are performed." Much like Planned Parenthood branches elsewhere in the country, the organization's Indiana locations provide a number of services to women, including cancer screenings, STD tests and contraceptive services. Remember: Life begins at conception ... and it ends with your undiagnosed ovarian cancer. [HuffPost's Laura Bassett] (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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4 - 20 - 2011 - "A recent Kaiser poll finds that only 52% of Americans realize that the Obama health care plan has not been repealed, with 22% believing that it has been, and 26% saying they don't know. The 52% figure probably slightly overestimates the percentage of people who really know the right answer to this question, since some survey respondents guess on multiple choice polls rather than admitting that they don't know the correct answer. Only 49% of Republicans and 50% of independents know that the law has not been repealed, compared to 64% of Democrats. Ironically, the uneven distribution of ignorance about repeal might actually help Democratic supporters of the law. To the extent that many Republicans and pro-repeal independents think that the law has already been repealed (30% of Republicans and 25% of independents, respectively), they are unlikely to press their representatives in Congress to make repeal a priority or focus on it as a major electoral issue. This result is not surprising in light of past data showing widespread political ignorance on other issues. Such ignorance is not primarily the result of 'stupidity,' but is actually rational behavior for most voters. Although not surprising, the recent Kaiser data is still troubling. If only a bare majority of the public knows so basic a fact about the health care bill, it seems highly unlikely that more than a small fraction know enough about the act to have a reasonably informed opinion about its merits -- a vastly more complicated issue. This reality surely reduces the quality of public debate on the subject, and also the quality of health care policy decisions made by the democratic process. Given widespread public ignorance, elected officials and interest groups will continue to exploit and manipulate ignorance to their benefit rather than enact good policies. Health care policy is a particularly complicated field, and therefore even more susceptible to this dynamic than comparatively simpler policies" -- George Mason University law professor Ilya Somin, writing at Volokh.com.  (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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"Don't you believe in liberty? Shouldn't we have the right as Americans to be energy producers? Shouldn't we have the right and liberty to be free from energy companies who dictate how much we pay, what air we breathe?" Coal and oil companies try to divide us with cultural stereotypes and political ideology, when a green economy is actually the truly American economy... The stereotype is that solar power is just hippie power. But it's also cowboy power, farmer power, rancher power, and Appalachian mountain power!" - Van Jones at the Power Shift 2011 conference (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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4 - 19 - 2011 - (Reuters) - The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times each won two coveted Pulitzer Prizes for journalism on Monday, and for the first time no award was given for breaking news coverage. (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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"What's happened in the Republican Party right now, you are having a deck-clearing. So [the GOP presidential nominee won't be] somebody who has been around for so long [that] it is . . . their turn. A longer primary is going to be better for Republicans. A primary based upon ideas is going to be better for Republicans." -- Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) in an interview with the Christian Science Monitor. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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4 - 18 - 2011 - "To preserve independence...we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and Liberty, or profusion and servitude. ... The fore horse of this frightful team is public debt. Taxation follow that, and in its turn wretchedness and oppression." --Thomas Jefferson (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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4 - 17 - 2011 - Former Republican Sen. Rick Santorum announced Wednesday that he was forming an exploratory committee for a possible presidential run. His slogan was, and remains on his website, "Fighting to make America America again."

But it might not be for long. Santorum, a well-known conservative, backed away from the phrase -- saying he had "nothing to do" with it -- after being told it derives from a poem by Langston Hughes.

Hughes, who died in 1967, was an African American Communist who advocated for civil rights and social justice. A key figure in the Harlem Renaissance, Hughes may well have been gay; some of his poems were homoerotic and others defended gay rights.

In 2003, then-Sen. Santorum came under fire for equating homosexuality with incest. "If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual [gay] sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything," he told the Associated Press. CNN wrote that Santorum "made clear he did not approve of 'acts outside of traditional heterosexual relationships.' " - from an article by Carolyn Kellogg (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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"[Last week], more than a year after hearing the case, U.S. Circuit Judge Denny Chin rejected the revised settlement agreement between Google, the Author's Guild and the Association of American Publishers regarding Google's plan to create a digital library of the world's books. A digital library is a great idea. Access to information is a recognized social good, and facilitating that access is one of the truly revolutionary impacts of the Internet and the digital revolution. Restoring accessibility to out-of-print books and "orphan works" for which the copyright owner is unknown or unreachable could address a real issue. But [the Institute for Policy Innovation] had problems with the settlement agreement, as did the Department of Justice, the Copyright Office, and thousands of authors and their representatives. So we were delighted that Judge Chin correctly recognized the legal issues at stake in the settlement, and rejected it. A big problem was that it had the effect of both changing existing copyright law and creating new copyright law. It would have taken rights away from authors that they currently have under existing law, and would have created binding legal structures that do not currently exist. The problem is that law should be made by elected legislatures, not by a cartel of private actors. A few friends can't get together and create a legal framework that binds other people and takes away rights that they retain under existing law, unless of course a court allows such a monstrosity to take effect. And sometimes courts do, such as in the tobacco settlement. But thankfully Judge Chin didn't allow that to happen. The judge did leave open the possibility that a modified settlement agreement might pass muster with his court. But a better option would be for Congress to finally get around to solving the orphan works problem through legislation." -- Institute for Policy Innovation President Tom Giovanetti. (Submitted by Michael Krull) 

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4 - 15 - 2011 - "On the one hand, this is the single largest year-to-year cut in the federal budget, frankly in the history of America in absolute terms . . . [and] probably for that we all deserve medals, the entire Congress. [But] relative to the size of the problem, it is not even a rounding error. In that case we probably all deserve to be tarred and feathered." -- Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R.,Texas) in an interview on CNN. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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4 - 14 - 2011 - You don't just walk up to the local bully and slap him across the face. If you are determined to confront him, then you try to knock the living daylights out of him. Otherwise, you are better off to leave him alone. Anyone who grew up in my old neighborhood in Harlem could have told you that. But Barack Obama didn't grow up in my old neighborhood. He had a much more genteel upbringing, including a fancy private school, in Hawaii. Maybe that is why he thinks he can launch military operations against Moammar Qaddafi, while promising not to kill him and promising that no American ground troops will be used. It is the old liberal illusion that you can measure out force with a teaspoon, not only in military operations micro-managed by civilians in Washington, like the Vietnam war, but also in domestic confrontations when the police are trying to control a rioting mob, and are being restrained by politicians, while the mob is restrained by nobody. We went that route in the 1960s, and the results were not inspiring, either domestically or internationally. The old saying, 'When you strike at a king, you must kill him,' is especially apt when it comes to attacking a widely recognized sponsor of international terrorism like Colonel Qaddafi. To attack him without destroying his regime is just asking for increased terrorism against Americans and America's allies." -- syndicated columnist Thomas Sowell writing at Townhall.com on March 26. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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4 - 13 - 2011 - It seems like we are trapped in a sort of abusive cycle, forever expecting elected officials to fix the problems and syndromes that they themselves, as often as not, created.  - comment at salon.com in april of 2009 after Sen. Durbin said that the bankers "own" this place. (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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"Sitting in on a March 1 Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) press conference regarding global warming and heavy snowfalls, I couldn't help feeling like the chairman of the Senate committee questioning mafia capo Frank Pentangeli in Godfather II. The chairman, listening incredulously as Pentangeli contradicts a sworn written statement he had earlier given to the committee, waves the written statement in the air and protests, 'We have a sworn affidavit -- we have it -- your sworn affidavit . . . Do you deny that confession, and do you realize what will happen as a result of your denial?' The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Third Assessment Report was as straightforward as Frank Pentangeli's earlier confession that he had killed on behalf of Michael Corleone.'  'Milder winter temperatures will decrease heavy snowstorms,' IPCC reported. That was in 2001. Now, however, with an unprecedented number of major winter snowstorms hitting the northeastern U.S. during the past two winters, the alarmists are clamming up and changing their tune faster than Tom Hagen can fly in Vincenzo Pentangeli from Italy to aid his brother in his time of trouble." -- James M. Taylor, senior fellow for environment policy at the Heartland Institute, writing at Forbes.com. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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“What have they done with President Obama? What happened to the inspirational figure his supporters thought they elected? Who is this bland, timid guy who doesn’t seem to stand for anything in particular?” Paul Krugman, New York Times (Submitted by Steffen Schmidt)

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4 - 12 - 2011 - "The Obama administration -- speaking through Attorney General Eric Holder -- announced that it would no longer argue in the courts for the constitutionality of Section 3 of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which declares that only a legal union of a man and a woman can be considered a marriage under federal law. Mr. Holder indicated that the department's attorneys would 'advise courts in . . . pending DOMA litigation' that in the administration's view 'Section 3 is unconstitutional.' There were some critics whose immediate reaction was to say, 'wait, where does the president get off doing the courts' job of judging the constitutionality of a law?' Others, who learned their constitutional law from Lincoln, recognized the legitimacy of a president's acting on his own understanding of the Constitution, and of whether a law measures up to it. But they noted rightly . . . that there is something curiously amiss with the administration announcing that Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional while still having the Department of Justice and other federal agencies enforce its terms until and unless a 'final judicial finding' declares the act invalid, or Congress chooses to repeal it. Can such a Janus-faced approach even be squared with the chief executive's oath to uphold the Constitution? It is a fair question forced on the administration by its own ill-considered action." -- Matthew Franck of the Witherspoon Institute blogging at thepublicdiscourse.com.  (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." -- John Kenneth Galbraith (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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4 - 11 - 2011 - "'The trouble with people is not that they don't know, but that they know so much that ain't so.' This line, variously attributed to Mark Twain, Will Rogers and Yogi Berra, actually originated with the 19th century humorist Josh Billings, which in itself proves his point. I spent a good deal of time last week writing about the ignorance and apathy of the general public when it comes to unions and collective bargaining. But specialists often complain that people lack interest in their specialty, so it wouldn't surprise or bother me to learn that many casual readers simply, uh, ignored it. It was with impeccable timing, then, that the Kaiser Family Foundation released the results of its latest tracking poll. It showed that 22 percent of those surveyed believe the federal health care reform bill has been repealed. Another 26 percent didn't know or refused to answer. Only a slim majority of 52 percent knew it is still the law of the land. Teachers may find it ironic that now all of us (by which I mean politicians, journalists, policy wonks, unionists and bloggers) are faced with an environment similar to what they face in the classroom – namely, people who don't pay attention. We're obligated to present the material in a clear, concise and logical manner, and we should constantly reevaluate whether we're doing that. But at some point, it's the responsibility of the student/audience/public to take it in. Will Rogers (really!) said, 'Everyone is ignorant, only in different subjects.' And he was right. But it seems we've reached a stage where a lot of people are ignorant of their ignorance of those subjects, but have strong opinions anyway." – Mike Antonucci, an education policy blogger, writing yesterday at eiaonline.com. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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4 - 10 - 2011 - "However little President Obama knows or cares about economics, he knows a lot about politics – and especially political rhetoric. 'High-speed rail' is simply another set of lofty words to justify continued expansion of government spending. So are words like 'investment in education' or 'investment' in any number of other things, which serves the same political purpose. Who cares what the realities are behind these nice-sounding words? Obama can leave that to the economists, the statisticians and the historians. His point is to win the votes of people who know little or nothing about economics, history or statistics. That includes a lot of people with expensive Ivy League degrees." – syndicated columnist Thomas Sowell writing at Townhall.com.  (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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3 - 17 - 2011 - "That's not the purpose for which they were hired," (he said while discussing the case of a CEO who was sued for sexual harassment). "I don't think of myself as a monster or strange in any way because of that. All I was was a young man who was the boss and I did it because I could." - Highly paid Conservative Talk show host Jay Severin was suspended last week for saying he had slept with female employees in the past, today he was fired losing his $1million a year contract. (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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3 - 16 - 2011 - "Anybody who says you can't save money at the Pentagon has never been to the Pentagon. We can save money on defense and if we Republicans don't propose saving money on defense, we'll have no credibility on anything else." - Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour (possible candidate for President) (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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Doyle McManus writes in the Los Angeles Times: A basic tenet of the U.S. war against terrorism under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama has been the need to "drain the swamp" — to eliminate the conditions that drive young Muslims toward extremism. Now, in much of the Arab world, the inhabitants of the swamp have pitched in courageously to drain it themselves. Are we ready to help? (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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3 - 11 - 2011 - Reuel Marc Gerecht writes in the Weekly Standard: The United States has an enormous role to play midwifing democracy throughout the Middle East. And President Obama, if he could realize this despite his profound unease at becoming the successor to the freedom-promoting George W. Bush, might go down in history as America’s great third world president—the man who permanently buried our dependency on despots throughout the Middle East (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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(The police chief, the mayor and a local politician of a small town on the American side of the US-Mexico border have been charged with gun running.... they allegedly planned to sell (the guns) to drug cartels in Mexico)

The U.S. Attorney's office in New Mexico said the mayor of Columbus, Eddie Espinoza, the town's police chief Angelo Vega, and village trustee Blas Gutierrez were among those arrested on an 84-count indictment.

"Gutierrez, Espinoza and Vega were duty sworn to protect and safeguard the people of Columbus," U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales said in a statement.

"Instead, they increased the risk of harm that the people of Columbus face ... by allegedly using their ... positions to facilitate and safeguard the operations of a smuggling ring that was exporting firearms to Mexico," he added. -Reuters (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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3 - 6 - 2011 - Al-Jazeera has been a leader in changing people's minds and attitudes..."Like it or hate it, it is really effective. In fact, viewership of Al-Jazeera is going up in the United States because it is real news."

"You may not agree with it, but you feel like you're getting real news around the clock instead of a million commercials and, you know, arguments between talking heads and the kind of stuff that we do on our news that is not providing information to us, let alone foreigners." - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaking before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

REACTION BELOW

...Fox News Channel's Michael Clemente said he was "surprised and kind of curious" by Clinton's remarks.

"We've got leadership issues there, the safety of people, the safety of our own people," said Clemente, senior vice president for news. "Some big issues. All of a sudden there are headlines about Al-Jazeera versus the news in this country? It's just surprising. Curious more than surprising."

...But former CNN Washington bureau chief Frank Sesno agreed with her assessment.

"She's right," said Sesno, who is now director of the School of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University.

"Cable news has become cable noise. It was intended to be an opportunity to inform people, and instead it has become an opportunity to inflame people." Clinton media criticism buoys Al-Jazeera  By DAVID BAUDER, AP Television Writer (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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3M Chief Executive George Buckley, speaking to the FT about President Obama: "We know what his instincts are - they are Robin Hood-esque. He is anti-business."  He went on, 'There is a sense among companies that this is a difficult place to do business. It is about regulation, taxation, seemingly anti-business policies in Washington, attitudes towards science." (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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3 - 4 - 2011 - Reuel Marc Gerecht writes in the Weekly Standard: The United States has an enormous role to play midwifing democracy throughout the Middle East. And President Obama, if he could realize this despite his profound unease at becoming the successor to the freedom-promoting George W. Bush, might go down in history as America’s great third world president—the man who permanently buried our dependency on despots throughout the Middle East (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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3 - 3 - 2011 - Wall Street Journal: The United Nations' nuclear watchdog said it has uncovered new information indicating that Iran is exploring ways to militarize its nuclear program, including ways to affix atomic weapons onto long-range missiles. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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3 - 2 - 2011 - Reuters: "The massive U.S. budget deficit is the gravest threat facing the economy, topping high unemployment and the risk of inflation or deflation, according to a survey of forecasters released on Monday. The National Association for Business Economics said its 47-member panel of forecasters increased its estimate for the 2011 federal deficit to $1.4 trillion from $1.1 trillion." (Submitted bt Michael Krull)

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The (Republican) crew that is in power now has distinguished itself by its ability to reject any kind of objective scientific or economic analysis that doesn't fit into their political schema. Whether it's the link between greenhouse gas emissions and global warming or the negative impact of subtracting demand from a weak economy is irrelevant. From the contemporary Republican point of view Obama's policies must be "job-killing" because, well, he's Obama!

And the converse simply can't be true. So no matter how impossible it is to make Republican numbers add up, that's not a problem for the Republican leadership, because reality just isn't something they are willing to accept. - Andrew Leonard (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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3 - 1 - 2011 - Yes, we have a reading crisis--with 83% of ALL low income children behind grade level by the end of 3rd grade.  (psst, most low income children in the USA are white).  It starts early.  By the time they enter kindergarten, a child from an affluent or moderately affluent home will have heard 30,000,000 MORE words than a child growing up in poverty.  This 'vocabulary gap' has consequences that you can readily imagine.- John Merrow, President of Learning Matters (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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From Warren Buffett's latest letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, released Saturday: "The prophets of doom have overlooked the all-important factor that is certain: Human potential is far from exhausted, and the American system for unleashing that potential ... remains alive and effective." (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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2 - 28 - 2011 - "If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy. ... I think we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious." --Thomas Jefferson (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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President Ronald Reagan often compared leaders of the Soviet Union to the movie producers against whom he once bargained as president of the Screen Actors Guild. That early experience, Reagan told serial biographer Lou Cannon, was where he “learned to negotiate.”

“The purpose of a negotiation,” Reagan added, “is to get an agreement.” (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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"You will never know what is going on unless you hear the whistle of the bullets" - General George S. Patton Jr. (Submitted by Steffen Schmidt)

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2 - 27 - 2011 - "Suddenly it seems everyone knew all along that President Mubarak was a villain and the U.S., who supported him until recently, was even worse. However it was actually former President George W. Bush who always believed in the democratization of the Muslim world and was broadly ridiculed by the Left for his convictions . . . Painful as it may be to admit, it was the despised George W. Bush who believed in the democratization of the Muslim world and incurred the scorn and mockery of the Left for his conviction. Everyone was sure -- without knowing any Muslims -- that the Western model of democracy could not be applied in a backward society like Iraq. Everyone knew that the neo-conservative belief in the universal desire for freedom and progress was naïve nonsense. It is possible that the critics were right, albeit for the wrong reasons. The prospect of stability and order seems to be at least as important to many people" -- From an article in the German news magazine Der Spiegel. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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The highest priority of America’s current political radicals is not to balance government budgets but to wage ideological warfare in Washington and state capitals alike. The relatively few dollars that would be saved by the proposed slashing of federal spending on Planned Parenthood and Head Start don’t dent the deficit; the cuts merely savage programs the right abhors. In Wisconsin, where state workers capitulated to Gov. Scott Walker’s demands for financial concessions, the radical Republicans’ only remaining task is to destroy labor’s right to collective bargaining.- Frank Rich (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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2 - 17 - 2011 - Hoping to win a lucrative agreement with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, three data security contractors for federal defense and intelligence agencies developed a proposal to monitor and manipulate the chamber's left-leaning critics, according to recently released e-mail correspondence.

Employees of the firms compiled short dossiers on a few activists that included photographs, references to their families and charts of their relationships with other liberal and labor leaders....

The proposals were received by Hunton & Williams, a law firm that represents the chamber....

The three security firms, all of which are government contractors with secret clearances, proposed coming together as "Team Themis," apparently named after a Greek goddess of law and order, to monitor and possibly disrupt chamber opponents.

"Who better to develop a corporate information reconnaissance capability than companies that have been market leaders within the [Defense Department] and Intelligence Community," the companies wrote in a pitch to Hunton & Williams.

-Government contractors targeted Chamber of Commerce's critics -Tom Hamburger and Matea Gold WASH. BUREAU LATIMES (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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"We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude." Thomas Jefferson (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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2 - 16 - 2011 - "If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself." --James Madison, Federalist No. 51 (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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Adam Gopnik:      "...the technological shifts in communication we’re living with are unprecedented. It isn’t just that we’ve lived one technological revolution among many; it’s that our technological revolution is the big social revolution that we live with. The past twenty years have seen a revolution less in morals, which have remained mostly static, than in means: you could already say “fuck” on HBO back in the eighties; the change has been our ability to tweet or IM or text it." (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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2 - 15 - 2011 - Bachmann: Founding fathers ‘worked tirelessly’ to end slavery

(can't wait for her first visit to NH)

By Sahil Kapur

WASHINGTON – Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) said the United States was founded on racial and ethnic diversity and that the founding fathers were responsible for abolishing slavery.

Speaking at an event sponsored by Iowans For Tax Relief, Bachmann hailed the "different cultures, different backgrounds, different traditions" of the early European settlers in America, adding that the "color of their skin" or "language" or "economic status" didn't preclude them from seeking happiness.

"Once you got here, we were all the same," she said. "Isn't that remarkable? It is absolutely remarkable."

The Minnesota Republican called slavery an "evil" and "scourge" and "stain on our history."

"But we also know that the very founders that wrote those documents worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States," Bachmann added, claiming "men like John Quincy Adams... would not rest until slavery was extinguished in the country." (well they rested till 1865 Michelle)

She's also no stranger to factual inaccuracies. Bill Adlair, editor of the Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact, said her claims tend to be false more often than just about any other politician.

A proclamation for Michelle Bachmann from the Wizard of Oz: “As coroner, I must aver / I thoroughly examined her / And she’s not only merely dead / She’s really, most sincerely (brain) dead."

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2 - 14 - 2011 - Social conservatives say they're trying to address the problems of family breakdown, crime and welfare costs, but there's a huge disconnect between the problems they identify and the policy solutions they propose. It's almost like the man who looked for his keys on the thoroughfare, even though he lost them in the alley, because the light was better. - David Boaz, LA Times (article entitled: Phony solutions for real social ills) (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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2 - 13 - 2011 - "If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions." --James Madison (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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2 - 12 - 2011 - "The principle of the Constitution is that of a separation of legislative, Executive and Judiciary functions, except in cases specified. If this principle be not expressed in direct terms, it is clearly the spirit of the Constitution, and it ought to be so commented and acted on by every friend of free government." --Thomas Jefferson (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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2 - 5 - 2011 - President Obama's political operation is quietly using the afterglow of his State of the Union address to begin activating grassroots supporters as the start of a continuous wave of engagement that will culminate when he stands for reelection on Nov. 6, 2012. The DNC's Organizing for America project kicked off the drive with State of the Union watch parties in all 50 states, and now will follow that up with service events, letter-writing parties and phone banks. One lesson Obama aides learned from his 2008 campaign was that grassroots organizing was in itself a selling point - that press coverage of local activity reinforced his appeal. So look for Obama's reelection campaign to draw early attention to individual supporters and registration drives in key states.

OFA officials tell us their focus this winter will include small business owners, community leaders, congregation leaders - opinion leaders in their communities who can help get bottom-up buzz going for Obama while his formal campaign staffs up in Chicago. The effort includes merchandise, starting with the "BIG THINGS" T-shirts, available in navy and gray. A shirt is free with a donation of $25 or more to Organizing for America. DNC communications director Brad Woodhouse: "The President's supporters are eager to get to work to win the future and ensure that the United States is globally competitive by out-innovating, out-educating and our-building the rest of the world." "Host Guide" for State of the Union watch parties. (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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"Amidst the turmoil in Egypt, it is important for the U.S. to remain focused on the interests of the Egyptian people as well as the legitimacy and stability of the Egyptian government. Only free and fair elections provide the prospect for a peaceful transfer of power to a government recognized as legitimate by the Egyptian people. We urge the Obama administration to pursue these fundamental objectives in the coming days and press the Egyptian government to: call for free and fair elections for president and for parliament to be held as soon as possible; amend the Egyptian Constitution to allow opposition candidates to register to run for the presidency; immediately lift the state of emergency, release political prisoners, and allow for freedom of media and assembly; allow domestic election monitors to operate throughout the country, without fear of arrest or violence; immediately invite international monitors to enter the country and monitor the process leading to elections, reporting on the government's compliance with these measures to the international community; [and] publicly declare that Mr. Mubarak will agree not to run for re-election. We further recommend that the Obama administration suspend all economic and military assistance to Egypt until the government accepts and implements these measures" -- statement of the Working Group on Egypt, a consortium of policy experts from Carnegie, the Council on Foreign Relations, Human Rights Watch, the Center for American Progress, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the Foreign Policy Initiative and Freedom House. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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2 - 4 - 2011 - LATimes' Tiffany Hsu reports: "President Obama has grand plans for a green nation - 1 million electric vehicles on the road within four years and clean power sources providing 80% of the nation's energy by 2035. But a day after getting a surprisingly extensive shout-out in Obama's State of the Union address ... industry officials were less than enthused and questioned whether the ambitious targets were even attainable. ... The guarded reaction to Obama's speech comes as many clean-tech companies are struggling to recover from the recession and at the same time are facing aggressive competition from China. Many fear Obama's long range objectives will be distracting and take the focus off crucial, short-term projects." (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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2 - 3 - 2011 - Bachmann, the superconservative member of Congress from Minnesota, made a big splash on Tuesday night with her Tea Party response to the State of the Union address. True, the placement of the cameras made her look as if she was talking to an invisible friend, and her eye makeup had a peculiar zombie aspect to it. But the next day all the attention was on her and not the official Republican response by Paul Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman.

And the Republicans were afraid to complain! One congressman from Utah told Politico that he thought “to try to upend Paul Ryan was just wrong.” Hours later he issued a retraction — through Bachmann’s office.- Gail Collins (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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The Hill's Peter Schroeder and Erik Wasson: "Conservative Republicans in the House are upping the pressure on their party leaders to take a firm stand against raising the federal debt ceiling. ... The [Republican Study Committee] bill is the latest indication that some Republicans are digging in their heels on the debt vote despite stern warnings from the Obama administration that failing to raise the ceiling would be disastrous for the country. It also signals a widening rift with GOP leaders who have suggested Republicans will ultimately have no choice but to approve the debt increase." (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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1 - 28 - 2011 - POLITICO's David Rogers: "New budget estimates ... paint a grim picture of the nation's fiscal state, with the government on pace to rack-up back-to-back deficits totaling $2.58 trillion over the life of this new Congress. With the Treasury already warning it will have exhausted the government's borrowing authority this spring, the [CBO] report is the most up-to-date analysis of just how big an increase in the debt ceiling will be needed. ... The numbers add fuel to the Republican fire for deep spending cuts." (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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SALT LAKE CITY – State lawmakers are debating whether to designate a semiautomatic pistol as the official gun of Utah, despite protests from people who believe it's inappropriate because of recent mass shootings.

The bill to make the Browning M1911 the official gun breezed through a committee hearing this week and is scheduled to be debated by the full House as early as Wednesday....

Utah has 24 state symbols recognizing the history, geography and culture of the state. They include a state cooking pot, a state tree, a state hymn and a state folk dance.

The committee approved the bill to add a state gun on a 9-2 vote. - JOSH LOFTIN, Associated Press (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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1 - 27 - 2011 - Earlier this month, Al Jazeera launched a new feature on its Web site called the Transparency Unit—the network’s in-house version of WikiLeaks. ...

Has Al Jazeera taken the first step in a journalism arms race to begin acquiring mass document leaks? It would be surprising if other large news organizations are not already at work on their own encrypted WikiLeaks-style portals. The New York Times and the Guardian, for instance, have every incentive to follow in Al Jazeera’s footsteps and give people a way to submit sensitive material directly to them rather than through an intermediary, such as WikiLeaks. If they aren’t doing this, they most likely will start doing it eventually, and this raises several questions: In a future where in-house WikiLeaks portals are common to mainstream news organizations, is there a role for the original site? Will Julian Assange’s creation become a victim of its own success? And if his movement is taken over by established news organizations, how might it change? - Raffi Khatchadourian from: A WikiLeaks Arms Race? (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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1 - 26 - 2011 - So far, most of the proposals from members of Congress for practical action to reduce gun violence have been directed at protecting themselves. Rep. Peter King of New York introduced a bill to ban anyone from carrying a gun in the vicinity of a federal official. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. of Illinois suggested reversing a recent cut in members’ office budgets and tacking on another 10 percent increase to pay for improved security. Rep. Dan Burton of Indiana urged enclosing the House gallery in Plexiglas. And two members vowed to carry their pistols with them when they go about the people’s business back in their districts. . . .

I would argue that Congress has the capacity for higher purpose. . . . I believe members of Congress can have a hearing and a civilized debate on a bill that is modest and relevant but that is opposed by a hyperpowerful lobbying group that scares the daylight out of them. . . .  - Gail Collins...protect itself, not the public (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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Financial Times’ Alan Beattie reports: "China must reduce unfair subsidies, stop the theft of intellectual property and let its currency appreciate, Tim Geithner has said. The US Treasury secretary, in a speech ... ahead of next week's visit by Hu Jintao, Chinese president, widened US concerns about Chinese economic policy well beyond currency, which has been a focus of Capitol Hill's anger. But he sought to reduce the blame put on China for domestic economic woes. ... Addressing the rising Chinese currency, Mr Geithner said the current rate of appreciation of about 6 per cent a year - closer to 10 per cent in real terms because of higher Chinese inflation - was substantial but inadequate." (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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1 - 25 - 2011 - Financial Times' Gregory Meyer in New York and Javier Blas and Jack Farchy in London report: "The world has moved a step closer to a food price shock after the US government surprised traders by cutting stock forecasts for key crops, sending corn and soybean prices to their highest level in 30 months. The price jump comes after the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation warned last week that the world could see repetition of the 2008 food crisis if prices rose further. ... While officials are drawing comfort from stable rice prices, key for feeding Asia, they warn that a sustained period of high prices, especially in grains such as wheat, would hit poorer countries." (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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Maserati, a Fiat SpA brand, said in December that its GranTurismo Convertible has sold out in the U.S., resulting in waiting lists. The luxury car starts at $136,000, according to Edmunds.com, a website that tracks car sales.

... as an aside: Consumer purchases reflect bigger gains among high-income households and “financial pressures on those of more-modest means,” according to minutes of the Fed’s Dec. 14 meeting. Feroli estimates the top 20 percent of wage earners account for about 40 percent of spending, while Dean Maki, chief U.S. economist at Barclays Capital Inc. in New York, puts their contribution at closer to 50 percent. (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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1 - 24 - 2011 - (A) source of demand growth is the use of crops to produce fuel for cars. In the United States, which harvested 416 million tons of grain in 2009, 119 million tons went to ethanol distilleries to produce fuel for cars. That's enough to feed 350 million people for a year. The massive U.S. investment in ethanol distilleries sets the stage for direct competition between cars and people for the world grain harvest. In Europe, where much of the auto fleet runs on diesel fuel, there is growing demand for plant-based diesel oil, principally from rapeseed and palm oil. This demand for oil-bearing crops is not only reducing the land available to produce food crops in Europe, it is also driving the clearing of rainforests in Indonesia and Malaysia for palm oil plantations.

The combined effect of these three growing demands is stunning: a doubling in the annual growth in world grain consumption from an average of 21 million tons per year in 1990-2005 to 41 million tons per year in 2005-2010. Most of this huge jump is attributable to the orgy of investment in ethanol distilleries in the United States in 2006-2008. - LESTER BROWN (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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Politico’s Jonathan Martin contrasts the president and the would-have-been vice president, Sarah Palin, yesterday. 'In the span of a single news cycle, Republicans got a jarring reminder of two forces that could prevent them from retaking the presidency next year. At sunrise in the east on Wednesday, Sarah Palin demonstrated that she has little interest-or capacity-in moving beyond her brand of grievance-based politics. And at sundown in the west, Barack Obama reminded even his critics of his ability to rally disparate Americans around a message of reconciliation,' J-Mart writes. 'It's difficult to imagine a starker contrast. ... The former Alaska governor has a knack for supplying rhetoric that will delight her supporters, send her critics howling and invariably create a frenzy of coverage. But her response suggests she is capable of hitting just that one note. ... 'The strongest way to rise above would have been to talk about suffering, tragedy, hope, strength and recovery,' said former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer. 'But instead she followed the more conventional political route and made it about herself rather than the victims.''  (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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“Obama's rating improved on several fronts, including job approval, how many like him personally and whether they think he'll do better in the next two years. His strengthening appeal was most noticeable in how he matches up against three potential Republican rivals. Today, Obama would beat Republican Mitt Romney by 51 to 38 percent, the poll showed. In a December McClatchy-Marist poll, he trailed the former Massachusetts governor, 46-44 percent. Obama would defeat Republican Mike Huckabee by a similar margin, 50-38 percent. The president led the former Arkansas governor in December by only 47-43 percent. He would defeat Palin, 56-30 percent, according to the poll. He led the former Alaska governor by 52-40 percent a month ago. At the same time, 48 percent of voters approve of how Obama is doing his job, up from 42 percent. Forty-three percent disapprove, down from 50 percent. In each case, Obama owes his lead to a unified base of support from Democrats and an edge among independents, who prefer the president by 10 points against Romney, 5 points against Huckabee and 28 points against Palin.” - Seattle Times (Submitted by Steffen Schmidt)

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1 - 23 - 2011 - "It's healthy, even natural, for Americans to feel populist resentment against elites that base their status through inherited wealth and family connections. But it's toxic, misguided and profoundly stupid to focus public hostility on leaders who achieved their positions through education, diligence and ability. Recent sniping between Sarah Palin and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Charles Krauthammer highlights the crucial distinction between rebellious attitudes that attack unfairly arrogated power and privilege and a trendy neo-populism that attacks brains. When Krauthammer dared to suggest that the former Alaska governor looked less than 'presidential' while shooting caribou with Kate Goselin on her hit TLC reality show, Palin told Bill O'Reilly: 'Well, bless his heart, he's probably used to those in the political beltway who perhaps aren't out there workin', but they're talkin' and they're meeting people, and they're out there doin' their "strategery," whereas I'm workin' and havin' a great time doin' it.' The irony in this attack involves the fact that Governor Palin is currently 'workin'' in precisely the same way Charles Krauthammer does -- by writing and making media appearances. The key difference is that Palin earns many times Krauthammer's income by focusing on her own ebullient personality rather than policy and ideas. Yes, Krauthammer would have to plead guilty to what Palin would deride as 'high-falutin'' educational credentials: he studied at Oxford and earned his MD at Harvard Medical School. But in what sense does this paraplegic, Canadian-raised son of struggling Eastern European immigrants qualify as representative of some perceived establishment that excludes a former governor, Vice Presidential nominee, certified TV star and number-one-bestselling author? Only in terms of intellectuality, not wealth or influence or celebrity status, could a Krauthammer qualify as more 'elitist' than a Palin" -- syndicated columnist Michael Medved writing at Townhall.com. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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1 - 17 - 2011 - Reuters reports: "To hear a number of prominent economists tell it, it doesn't look good for the U.S. economy, not this year, not in 10 years. Leading thinkers in the dismal science speaking at an annual convention offered varying visions of U.S. economic decline, in the short, medium and long term. This year, the recovery may bog down as government stimulus measures dry up. ... Harvard's Martin Feldstein said he believes the outlook for U.S. economic growth in 2011 is less sanguine than many believe. First, the boost to growth from government spending will be drying up this year, he said. Renewal of expiring tax cuts is no more than a decision not to raise taxes, and the impact of a one-year payroll tax cut is likely modest, he said." (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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They live in different worlds...and one wants to be president. (hat tip to Bluehampshire.com)

“Do we need civility in our political discourse? Absolutely. But if there’s any group of people who are not civil in their discourse, it’s the Left, it's not the Right. The Right is out there talking about how we need to restore American first principles. The Left is out there saying if you take a different point of view on a particular issue, you’re a racist, or a bigot, or a hater. They attack the person. They don't go after the issue. We talk about the issues.” - former Republican Senator Rick Santorum and possible candidate for President of the United States (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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Only one side has made the rhetoric of armed revolt against an oppressive tyranny the guiding spirit of its grassroots movement and its midterm campaign. Only one side routinely invokes the Second Amendment as a form of swagger and intimidation, not-so-coyly conflating rights with threats. Only one side's activists bring guns to democratic political gatherings. Only one side has a popular national TV host who uses his platform to indoctrinate viewers in the conviction that the President is an alien, totalitarian menace to the country. Only one side fills the AM waves with rage and incendiary falsehoods. Only one side has an iconic leader, with a devoted grassroots following, who can't stop using violent imagery and dividing her countrymen into us and them, real and fake. Any sentient American knows which side that is; to argue otherwise is disingenuous. - George Packer staff writer The New Yorker (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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1 - 16 - 2011 - “I ... hope the House Republicans are going to move a bill in the first month or so of their tenure to create a venue for state bankruptcy, so that states like California and New York and Illinois that think they're going to come to Washington for money can be told, you know, you need to sit down with all your government employee unions and look at their health plans and their pension plans and, frankly, if they don't want to change, our recommendation is you go into bankruptcy court and let the bankruptcy judge change it, and I would make the federal bankruptcy law prohibit tax increases as part of the solution, so no bankruptcy judge could impose a tax increase on the people of the states.”- Newt Gingrich (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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Financial Times’ Robin Harding reports: "The US Federal Reserve made a record profit of $80.9bn in 2010 and sent $78.4bn to the US Treasury as income poured in from its programme of quantitative easing. The figures show how the financial crisis has turned the Fed into the most profitable bank in history, earning income of $88.1bn in 2010 but paying only $2.7bn in interest and $4.3bn in operating expenses. ... From the Treasury's point of view, profits from the Federal Reserve have compensated for some of the other costs of the financial crisis, such as rescues for the auto industry." (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.  - Carl Sagan (Submitted by Ed Kelly)

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1 - 13 - 2011 - "To those who see a new era of post-racial politics, Chicagoans might ask: What are they smoking? People in this hardball town scarcely blinked at the bald racial calculations behind the recent 'unity' summit (convened by the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson) to produce a single major black candidate for mayor, a process that ultimately rallied behind former Senator Carol Moseley Braun. A black candidate who stepped aside last Friday, Congressman Danny K. Davis, made no secret that he and other African-American leaders feared a split in the black vote would hand a victory to the white candidate, Rahm Emanuel, or to the leading Latino contender, Gery Chico. 'In unity,' Davis proclaimed, standing near a beaming Braun, 'there is strength.' Davis said it was 'just kind of natural' for people to rally behind a candidate of their own color or ethnicity. He drew an example from his boyhood on a farm in Arkansas. 'When I went into the barnyard,' he explained later during an interview, 'I never saw a chicken leading a group of turkeys' . . . To win black support, Emanuel is expected to run television ads featuring him with his old boss, Barack Obama. The president remains overwhelmingly popular among people of all colors in his hometown. While Obama has praised Emanuel and said he would make 'a great mayor,' he is not expected to make a formal endorsement in the contest. It could be sticky business for Obama, especially if the race takes a turn for the brutal" -- reporter Dirk Johnson writing at the Daily Beast. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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Most smart people in the nonfinancial world understand that the big banks have become profoundly damaging to the rest of the private sector.  The idea that the president needed to bring a top banker into his inner circle in order to build bridges with business is beyond ludicrous. 

Bill Daley now controls how information is presented to and decisions are made by the president.  Daley’s former boss, Jamie Dimon, is the most dangerous banker in America – presumably he now gets even greater access to the Oval Office.  Daley is on the record as opposing strong consumer protection for financial products; Elizabeth Warren faces an even steeper uphill battle.  Important regulatory appointments, such as the succession to Sheila Bair at the FDIC, are less likely to go to sensible people....

Top executives at big U.S. banks want to be left alone during relatively good times – allowed to take whatever excessive risks they want, to juice their return on equity through massive leverage, to thus boost their pay and enhance their status around the world.  But at a moment of severe financial crisis, they also want someone in the White House who will whisper at just the right moment: “Mr. President, if you let this bank fail, it will trigger a worldwide financial panic and another Great Depression.  This will be worse than what happened after Lehman Brothers failed.”

Let’s be honest.  With the appointment of Bill Daley, the big banks have won completely this round of boom-bust-bailout.  The risk inherent to our financial system is now higher than it was in the early/mid-2000s.  We are set up for another illusory financial expansion and another debilitating crisis. Bill Daley will get it done. - Simon Johnson (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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If the democrats are to ever regain their footing and compete effectively with the GOP they need to get better organized, develop a consistent national THEME, do old fashioned grass roots mobilization, organize Democratic party charities and local social clubs where they provide services to needy people – in other words become important and useful to ordinary Americans, register people to vote, and then get people to actually VOTE! Quote of the Day from “Dr Politics,” Steffen Schmidt. 

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1 - 12 - 2011 - John Boehner is the ultimate Beltway hack, a man whose unmatched and self-serving skill at political survival has made him, after two decades in Washington, the hairy blue mold on the American congressional sandwich. - Matt Taibbi: The Crying Shame of John Boehner (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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"We hear all sorts of sad stories about people whose homes are 'under water' or who are facing foreclosure. But why should our attention be arbitrarily focused on these particular people, rather than on the many other people who would benefit from being able to buy those same houses, if the prices came down? The government is artificially keeping the prices up with subsidies and with pressures on lenders to accommodate the current occupants. Can we not walk and chew gum at the same time? Is our attention span so limited that we can only think about one set of people that the media and the politicians have chosen to highlight? Do other people count for less just because the media don't put their pictures in the paper or on the TV screen? Or because politicians are ignoring them? Sometimes we are more concerned about some people because they are especially deserving. But this cannot be said about those who borrowed money to buy homes that they could not afford, or who borrowed against the equity in their homes, and now find that what they owe is more than the home is worth. If anyone is especially deserving, it is those who had the common sense to avoid taking on bigger financial obligations than they could handle, but who are now expected to pay as taxpayers for other people's irresponsibility" -- syndicated columnist Thomas Sowell writing in Investor's Business Daily. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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1 - 11 - 2011 - "President Obama came to office with the assumption that economic distress would increase support for his policies to (in his words to Joe the Plumber) "spread the wealth around." But the 2010 midterms make it about as clear as these things can be that voters reject such efforts. American voters are not seething with envy over income inequality and are not convinced that we'll all do better if the government takes away more of Bill Gates' money. Obama, like the academics in whose neighborhoods he has always chosen to live, thinks they should be seething and that if the message is just delivered the right way they can be convinced" -- columnist Michael Barone, co-author of "The Almanac of American Politics," writing in the Washington Examiner. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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"The construction applied ... to those parts of the Constitution of the United States which delegate Congress a power ... ought not to be construed as themselves to give unlimited powers." --Thomas Jefferson (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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1 - 7 - 2011 - "The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined." --James Madison in Federalist No. 45 (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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I remember the death panels.- They are called Republicans who voted against 9/11 Heros Health care; Republicans who filbustered the 9/11 responders health care. The Republican death panels want every taxpayer to pay for their families to have government health care but want to deny it to taxpaying Americans. Republican death panels  want to reduce health care to the men and women in service. cleaned up comment at MediaMatters. (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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1 - 5 - 2011 -  "I learned when I was in social studies class in school that corporate ownership or corporate control of government is called Fascism. So that's really the question— is that the destination if this court decision (Citizen's United) goes unchecked?" - former Congressman John Hall NY (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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China agreed Wednesday to move toward lifting restrictions on some U.S. beef imports and provided new assurances that its efforts to promote domestic innovation won't discriminate against foreign firms. – Wall Street Journal (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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Senior Chinese officials pledged on Wednesday to better crack down on software piracy and other violations of intellectual property rights as part of a series of commercial agreements after two days of talks here. – Wall Street Journal (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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1 - 4 - 2011 - Iran has begun secret negotiations on proposals to surrender a substantial part of its uranium stockpile and suspend enriching nuclear fuel in return for an end to sanctions that have crippled the country's economy.  – Telegraph (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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Glenn Beck - The Lone Voice Of Reason In An Age Of Hysteria

In what has increasingly become an era defined by pandemonium, rancor, and blind ignorance, one stabilizing voice emerged from the din this year to soothe the souls of Americans everywhere, make us recognize the common decency that binds us all, and supplant the poisonous aura of fear and chaos with a simple, well-thought-out message of peace, prosperity, and reconciliation.

That man is television and syndicated radio host Glenn Beck.

Every single day of 2010, Beck's quiet words of humility and reason have touched the hearts of all Americans, healing countless wounds and elevating the level of our national discourse. Indeed, just as Martin Luther King, Jr.-to whom Beck has so aptly and correctly compared himself-once showed the nation the way forward to compassion and civility, so have Beck's stunningly eloquent broadcasts, inspiring political rallies, and bestselling books reassured every living citizen that we are all joined by the same ever-beating heart of kindness, and that gentler roads lie ahead if we could all just settle down, lower our voices, and focus on solving the actual, meaningful problems of our world together. The Onion  (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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1 - 3 - 2011 - New Yorker legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin - "In every major case since he became the nation's seventeenth Chief Justice, Roberts [and his conservative allies] has sided with the prosecution over the defendant, the state over the condemned, the executive branch over the legislative, and the corporate defendant over the individual plaintiff." (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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Matthew Kaminski writes in the Wall Street Journal: Pakistan is becoming more like Afghanistan—only with a more advanced economy and nuclear weapons…Pakistan's military has yet to show that it wants to—or that it can—control the Islamist wave. Many groups have slipped their leash and look at their old patron, the ISI, with distrust. Gen. David Petraeus, the American commander in Afghanistan, certainly has contingency plans for Pakistan that go beyond extra doses of drones or diplomacy. Putting American boots in Waziristan is an obvious idea. But, like so many options, it is unappealing. The fallout in Pakistan would be hard to predict. So for the moment, America gets to pretend that Pakistan can do this on its own. A successful terrorist attack on the U.S. with a Pakistani return address might quickly change that. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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12 - 24 - 2010 - Sweden's recent suicide bombing underscores a growing reality in the terror world: The threat of attacks is spreading beyond locations traditionally considered targets for Islamic extremists. Scandinavia is emerging as one such new frontier, with a number of arrests and other incidents over recent months in the region, including in Norway and Denmark. – Wall Street Journal (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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A Pakistani man planned to bomb Manchester city center in northern England as part of a wider al Qaeda plot to carry out attacks in Britain, the United States and Norway, a London court was told on Wednesday. – Reuters (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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12 - 23 - 2010 - "The first thing a president's going to have to do when he takes his hand off the Bible is start lobbying. He's going to need to lobby Congress. He's going to need to lobby the bureaucracy. He's going to need to lobby the governors. He's going to need to lobby our allies and our international competitors. And I'm a pretty good lobbyist" -- Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour on why he doesn't think his past as a lobbyist would hurt him if he ran for president, in the Dec. 27 issue of the Weekly Standard. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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...let’s admit it. Nothing would have gotten done if Obama hadn’t swallowed that loathsome compromise on tax cuts for the wealthy.

If he’d taken the high road, Congress would be in a holiday war. The long-term unemployed would be staggering into the new year without benefits. The rest of the world would look upon the United States as a country so dysfunctional that it can’t even ratify a treaty to help keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists. The people who worked at ground zero would still be uncertain about their future, and our gay and lesbian soldiers would still be living in fear.

It’s depressing to think that there was no way to win that would not have involved giving away billions of dollars to people who don’t need it. But it’s kind of cheery to think we have a president who actually does know what he’s doing. - Gail Collins (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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12 - 21 - 2010 - Speed matters--This isn't a post about the United States Senate.

It's about America's failure to keep up with the rest of the world in creating a high-speed broadband infrastructure....as of this month the U.S. has fallen behind Romania in the overall performance of our broadband connectivity.

Forty-nine percent of American households with Internet connections fail to meet the FCC's minimum standards, and only one percent of American communities meet the global benchmarks....At our present pace, it will take us 60 years to bring our broadband capacity up to the level that South Korea enjoys today. - Carl Pope (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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Sweden's recent suicide bombing underscores a growing reality in the terror world: The threat of attacks is spreading beyond locations traditionally considered targets for Islamic extremists. Scandinavia is emerging as one such new frontier, with a number of arrests and other incidents over recent months in the region, including in Norway and Denmark. – Wall Street Journal  (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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12 - 20 - 2010 - Matthew Kaminski writes in the Wall Street Journal: Pakistan is becoming more like Afghanistan—only with a more advanced economy and nuclear weapons…Pakistan's military has yet to show that it wants to—or that it can—control the Islamist wave. Many groups have slipped their leash and look at their old patron, the ISI, with distrust. Gen. David Petraeus, the American commander in Afghanistan, certainly has contingency plans for Pakistan that go beyond extra doses of drones or diplomacy. Putting American boots in Waziristan is an obvious idea. But, like so many options, it is unappealing. The fallout in Pakistan would be hard to predict. So for the moment, America gets to pretend that Pakistan can do this on its own. A successful terrorist attack on the U.S. with a Pakistani return address might quickly change that.  (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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The four Republicans appointed to the commission investigating the root causes of the financial crisis plan to bypass the bipartisan panel and release their own report Wednesday, according to people familiar with the commission's work.....

During a private commission meeting last week, all four Republicans voted in favor of banning the phrases "Wall Street" and "shadow banking" and the words "interconnection" and "deregulation" from the panel's final report, according to a person familiar with the matter and confirmed by Brooksley E. Born, one of the six commissioners who voted against the proposal....

"I certainly felt, and I think the majority of the commission felt, that deleting those phrases would impair the commissioners' ability to give a full and fair and understandable report to the American people about the causes of the financial crisis," Born said.

"Certainly, it's hard to imagine Wall Street wasn't involved," she added. -Shahien Nasiripour "Financial Crisis Panel In Turmoil As Republicans Defect:Plan to Blame Government for the Crisis (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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12 - 19 - 2010 - I am appalled that partisan politics and the archaic filibuster stood in the way of passing the DREAM Act today.  My mother came to the United States as an immigrant and because of the opportunities in this country, I was able to fulfill the American dream.  It is a shame that we cannot extend the same opportunities to others who are willing to contribute to our country and abide by the rules.

What’s frustrating is that the DREAM Act was originally a bipartisan bill that was introduced by a Republican.  In 2003, it had the support of 15 Republican cosponsors.  Unfortunately today the minority has put partisan politics ahead of common sense legislation. Senator Tom Harkin (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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From an Institute for the Study of War report: The coalition’s military successes in Kandahar in the last half of 2010, combined with steady progress in neighboring Helmand, have given it the momentum in southern Afghanistan. 2011 presents opportunities for the Afghan government and coalition forces to sustain that momentum, further degrade the Taliban, and make the reforms necessary to ensure a viable Afghan government. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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12 - 18 - 2010 - Washington Times - A referendum to decide the fate of an oil-rich province of Sudan is unlikely to be held on time as northerners and southerners remain locked in an impasse over issues that include voting rights, demarcation of borders and oil revenue. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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As a historical matter, government overreaction to publication of leaked material in the press has always been more damaging to American democracy than the leaks themselves. - from a letter sent to Obama and AG Holder from Columbia Journalism School Staff (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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12 - 17 - 2010 - Jon Stewart: "Since when does the Republican Party make 9/11 first responders stand over in the corner with the gays and Mexicans?  (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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Washington Post's Jon Cohen reports: "About seven in 10 Americans back the tax deal negotiated last week. ... The high bipartisan support for the package masks more tepid public approval for some of the main components of the agreement. ... A slender 11 percent of those polled back all four of the deal's primary tax provisions: an across-the-board extension of Bush-era tax cuts, additional jobless benefits, a payroll tax holiday and a $5 million threshold for inheritance taxes. Just 38 percent support even two of the components. But put all four items together, and 69 percent of all Americans support the package."  (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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12 - 16 - 2010 -  Reuters' Dave Clarke reports: "U.S. banking regulators meet on Tuesday to take the first steps toward implementing higher capital requirements set out in the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law. The [FDIC] board will consider a proposal on how to set minimum capital requirements for banks under a provision in the new law that was added by Sen. Susan Collins of Maine with the strong backing of FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair. ... Collins' provision would set a 'floor' for capital and leverage requirements."  (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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“Republicans have ruthlessly allowed the livelihoods of millions of out-of-work Americans to hang in the balance by refusing to extend unemployment benefits – unless they get extended income tax breaks for the top 3 percent and a smashing of the estate tax to an 80-year low. They inexplicably refuse to have America's most financially enriched contribute to the rebuilding our economy.” - Brian Miller, executive director of United for a Fair Economy (UFE) (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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12 - 15 - 2010 - In what appears to be a calculated dig at the US, the Kremlin urged non-governmental organisations to think seriously about "nominating Assange as a Nobel Prize laureate".

"Public and non-governmental organisations should think of how to help him," the source from inside president Dmitry Medvedev's office told Russian news agencies. Speaking in Brussels, where Medvedev was attending a Russia-EU summit yesterday , the source went on: "Maybe, nominate him as a Nobel Prize laureate." - Luke Harding The Guardian (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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Bloomberg's Rich Miller: "More than 50 percent of Americans say they are worse off now than they were two years ago when President Barack Obama took office, and two-thirds believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, a Bloomberg National Poll shows.” (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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12 - 14 - 2010 - Longtime Louisiana legislator Noble Ellington on his all but certain to defection to the GOP. "I think at this point it would probably be hypocritical for me to remain in the Democratic Party because I find myself farther and farther away from what has become the liberal philosophy of the national party.  At least nationally, the Republican Party seems to fit my philosophy more than the current Democratic Party." (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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12 - 13 - 2010 - Joe Scarborough: "I don't get it. ... I don't get why the president didn't take the high ground and say, 'I'll tell you what: We're gonna give you cuts up to a million dollars. But we're not going to give millionaires tax cuts.' ... You know what this is: ... Barack Obama couldn't get a second stimulus package. He's getting it now, with tax cuts that aren't going to be paid for, and unemployment benefits that aren't going to be paid for."  (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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12 - 12 - 2010 - Quote of the day reaction to Obama's so called compromise: "I disagree that we didn't get anything," Rep Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.) deadpanned to his colleagues. "We got screwed." - Jonathan Allen from his article Anger of House Dems boils over (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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12 - 11 - 2010 - "It's what I'm calling the Obama-McConnell plan. We're going to borrow $46 billion from the poor, from the middle class, from businesses of all sizes basically to give a tax cut to families in America today, that despite the recession, are making over a million dollars. I mean, this is unprecedented. Unprecedented. I want to repeat that....The median net worth of African-American families -- net worth, not income -- in this country today, according to our census, is $5,000. You want me to repeat that? $5,000. So we are borrowing money from constituencies, and large segments of the population like this-I want you all to get your heads around this." US Senator Mary Landrieu (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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"Sarah Palin has the political appeal of a train wreck and we know that that's a lot of appeal. Every move Palin or her clan make is s paparazzi bonanza and so the conventional wisdom that Americans and the media will get tired of her is incorrect. She's 'Politicking With the Kardashians' or 'British Royalty Misbehaves.' There is no end to the fascination! And, we all want the saga of 'Palin Runs For the White House' to continue forever. After all, it's better than anything on cable."  Steffen Schmidt, aka "Dr Politics," Prof. of Political Science, Iowa State University

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12 - 8 - 2010 - This is it. This is the last time I’m going to write the name Sarah Palin until she does something truly newsworthy, like declare herself a candidate for the presidency. Until then, I will no longer take part in the left’s obsessive-compulsive fascination with her, which is both unhealthy and counterproductive.

She’s the Zsa Zsa Gabor of American politics. She once did something noteworthy, but she’s now just famous for being famous.

People on the left seem to need her, to bash her, because she is, in three words, the way the left likes to see the right: hollow, dim and mean. But since she’s feeding on the negativity, I suggest three other words: get over it. - Charles Blow (She Who Must Not Be Named) (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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"The stunning collapse of American liberalism in 22 months since the U.S. elected its first African-American president is, in part, a replay of the comparable breakdown of Lyndon Johnson's presidency in 1965 and 1966. Then, as now, open discussion of some pressing issues was shut down in deference to racial sensitivities. Then, as now, triumph turned to ashes" -- Fred Siegel and Peter Cove, writing on the failures of liberal excesses in the December issue of Commentary magazine. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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12 - 7 - 2010 - Michael Auslin writes in the Washington Examiner: A squadron of F-22s should be sent to Osan Air Base in South Korea and start conducting air patrols along the DMZ and over South Korean territory that is targeted by the North. Anything that fires on the F-22s should be destroyed, just as the North should have destroyed the artillery guns that attacked its island this week. Let the F-22s show they have a real role to play in protecting our allies and in operating with impunity in conflict areas, just as they were designed to do. And let the message get through to Pyongyang that if we want to, we can buzz Kim Jong-il's breakfast room. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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There is a very simple reason WikiLeaks has sent a furious storm of outrage across the globe and it has very little to do with diplomatic impropriety. It is this: The public is uninformed because of inadequate journalism.  - James Moore (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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12 - 4 - 2010 - “I stand here before you as probably the second-most famous immigrant in California...The first is Meg Whitman’s maid.” - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger   (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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Roll Call's Steve Dennis reports on WikiLeaks: ''I feel personally violated,' said Rep. Jane Harman, whose name appears in a cable posted by WikiLeaks describing a conversation between a Congressional delegation, or CODEL, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding what to do about Iran's nuclear program.  Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry, when asked what he thought Congress should do, referred to the administration, which is investigating the leaks. 'I think there needs to be prosecutor action. I think it's treasonous, outrageous, counterproductive, dangerous," he said. "It impacts people's ability to have honest conversation and talk to you directly ... It complicates diplomacy enormously.'' (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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12 - 3 - 2010 - POLITICO's Jonathan Allen and Jake Sherman report: "Obama's embrace of the politically symbolic two-year freeze on federal government salaries aligns him with House Republican leaders and against unions, public workers and some leaders in his own party. ... The president's adoption of a GOP proposal that goes straight to the ideological divide between the parties ... could be an early sign of White House efforts to move toward the political center in advance of the 2012 election. It infuriated union leaders, some rank-and-file Democratic lawmakers and even a handful of Republicans - few of whom saw it coming - and thus put the president squarely to the political right of liberals and other labor allies." (Submitted by Michael Krull)

 

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Even the staunchest defenders of the euro now acknowledge that the currency union cannot survive if its weaker members are caught in a perpetual hell of austerity budgets and declining incomes while the stronger countries are forced to tap  taxpayers for financial rescues.   As the Continent faces more competition from emerging rivals, including Brazil, Russia, India and China — and low-wage Eastern European nations outside the euro — the problems of the euro’s southern tier threaten to become a vicious circle that could increase tensions and make the common currency untenable, some economists say.” Euro Zone Is Imperiled by North-South Divide, The New York Times (Submitted by Steffen Schmidt) 

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12 - 2 - 2010 - BusinessInsider's Henry Blodget reports on the rapid deleveraging of the American consumer: "[I]n the past two years, household borrowing has seen its biggest drop ever as a percentage of GDP. Of course ... this 'deleveraging' process has a long way to go. (And governments - federal, state, and local - are picking up most of the borrowing slack). What consumers spend on debt repayment, they can't spend on stuff. So if this deleveraging continues - which it must, if consumers are ever to return to a normal level of indebtedness - the repayment process will keep a lid on consumer spending for the foreseeable future."  (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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"We spend a lot of time in the military talking about integrity and honor and values...One of the things that is most important to me is personal integrity, and a policy or a law that in effect requires people to lie gives me a problem."  Defense Secretary Robert Gates on repeal of DADT (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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12 - 1 - 2010 - "Intense partisan polarization has raised the stakes in every debate and on every vote, making it difficult to lose with grace and nearly impossible to compromise without cost. Americans' distrust of politicians provides compelling incentives for senators to distrust each other, to disparage this very institution and disengage from the policy making process.'' Senator Dodd's farewell address (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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South Sudanese are abandoning north-south border villages fearing aerial attacks from the northern army, with at least 1,500 fleeing after recent attacks, U.N. and southern officials said on Monday. - Reuters (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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11 - 30 - 2010 - Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) in a Bloomberg TV interview: "The Republicans are joining the Central Bank of China in criticizing Ben Bernanke. This is really distressing to me. Because what is being said is not simply that he is wrong specifically. ... There has been a very conservative Republican attack on the Fed ... and it has been inaccurate in its predictions. It has not led to inflation because this is not the first unusual thing that has been done under the able leadership of Ben Bernanke. Let's just remember that he was a George Bush appointee, initially confirmed by a Republican Senate." (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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11 - 29 - 2010 - Dow Jones reports: "The U.S. says taxpayers have recovered more than $250 billion from the Wall Street rescue with Tuesday's delivery of proceeds from the [GM IPO]. The Treasury Department updated its recovery of [TARP] funds with the formal announcement of the delivery of the $11.7 billion in net proceeds from the GM IPO. ... With the GM proceeds, there have been $252 billion in TARP funds returned to taxpayers, Treasury said."  (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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“Ms. Palin — a paid Fox News commentator, star of a reality television program and mother of a dancing star — sure knows how to draw a crowd, pulling in at least five times the number of people who turned out here the previous week for Newt Gingrich." Donna Otis, 66, a small-business owner from Des Moines, said: “There’s a draw for her I can’t explain. You want to see Sarah.” New York Times (Submitted by Steffen Schmidt) 

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11 - 28 - 2010 - From Politico: "Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) at Harvard Business School delivering a PowerPoint presentation on fiscal policy to an enthusiastic crowd of more than 125 students packed into a 100-person classroom on the second floor of Aldrich late yesterday afternoon. ... Main takeaway: When a populist government meets a massive demographic shift in an entitlement society, you get unsustainable debt." (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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11 - 27 - 2010 - Longtime central bank critic Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) said he would hold a hearing on the Fed and QE2 next Tuesday, Nov. 30. One close Fed observer quipped to Morning Money yesterday: "When Dennis Kucinich, Sarah Palin and the Chinese Communists agree, be very afraid."  (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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PALIN: But obviously, we’ve got to stand with our North Korean allies. We’re bound to by treaty –

CO-HOST: South Korean.

PALIN: Eh, Yeah. And we’re also bound by prudence to stand with our South Korean allies, yes. (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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11 - 26 - 2010 - A recent Telegraph column made mention of the “47 percent of the population who pay no taxes at all.” Most probably this referred to the 47 percent of the population who earn so little that they pay no federal income tax.

But they do pay Social Security tax, Medicare tax, sales taxes, gasoline taxes, and other excise taxes and fees. The Wall Street Journal once styled those who pay no federal income tax “lucky duckies.” But we’re still waiting for the WSJ editorial writer to step up and volunteer to trade places with a “lucky ducky.” We’re likely to be waiting a long time. - Nashua Telegraph columnist Gary Vincent (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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POLITICO's Mike Allen reports: "Moving to repair a deep rift with leading CEOs ... Obama plans to speak at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event next month and the two sides are trying to work out details. ... The talks mark a dramatic rapprochement between the Chamber, which spent tens of millions of dollars in the midterm election to defeat Democrats, and the president, who openly criticized the 'world's largest business federation' for accepting contributions from undisclosed donors. ... The overture is the White House's clearest move to the center since the Nov. 2 elections, when independents sided decisively with Republicans. Democratic officials said the White House is looking for a variety of ways to lower the temperature with CEOs, some of whom have complained about Obama's agenda and the White House's treatment of business." (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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11 - 25 - 2010 - "Terror is not a new weapon.  Throughout history, it has been used by those who could not prevail either by persuasion or example. But inevitably, they fail either because men are not afraid to die for a life worth living, or because the terrorists themselves came to realize that free men cannot be frightened by threats and that aggression would meet its own response. And it is in the light of that history that every nation today should know; be he friend or foe, that the United States has both the will and the weapons to join free men in standing up to their responsibilities."  President John F. Kennedy to the United Nations, September 25, 1961. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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11 - 24 - 2010 - "She does not listen to other people. She only listens to people she agrees with unless she needs your vote" -- Retiring Democratic Rep. Brian Baird of Washington state on why he believes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is a poor choice to lead House Democrats in the minority. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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"You can't build bipartisanship on preemptive concessions,these are bullies who can't be appeased...Too much time was squandered pursuing bipartisanship — far beyond the point of a good-faith effort. Repeating the same hopeful approach would be tragic. They need to be open to bipartisanship, but there needs to be a demonstrated interest from the other side." - Christopher Edley, a former Obama campaign advisor. (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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11 - 23 - 2010 - “David has been a friend for many years, and for the last two years he has been an invaluable resource and trusted advisor...David’s experience in the private sector and commitment to public service will serve him well in this role as Chief of Staff. I am confident that he will be a tremendous leader for my office and a great resource for our caucus.” - Majority Leader Harry Reid 

Harry Reid’s New Chief of Staff is His Top Career Individual Donor

Updated: 11/17/2010, 1:25 pm | Fresh off his unanimous re-election by Senate Democrats to be Majority Leader for the 112th Congress, Nevada’s Harry Reid has promoted aide and long-time financial supporter David B. Krone to be his new chief of staff.,,  Krone held the distinction of being the single most generous individual career donor to Reid’s campaign committees and leadership PAC, with at least $35,000 in personal contributions.

Krone joined Comcast Corp. as senior vice president of corporate affairs in 2007 after serving as executive vice president of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA), the principal trade association of the cable industry, for five years. Krone lobbied on a number of bills for the industry, including a 2001 broadband access measure, which Reid cosponsored. In 2001, while working for lobbying firm Ryan, Phillips, Utrecht & MacKinnon, Krone was listed as a lobbyist for Duke Energy Corp. on two bills that Reid sponsored....

In December 2008, Krone gave up a private sector job that paid him upwards of $5 million in salary, severance, and living reimbursements for that year for a job with Reid paying $165,000 per year. Krone, whose original title had been “senior adviser,” is currently Reid’s deputy chief of staff. This promotion may garner him a bump in salary, but he will be unlikely to make up much of the gap with the private sector; Reid’s last chief of staff earned just over $170,000 annually. (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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Since the U.S. population continues to flow South and West, reapportionment will probably add House seats in red states and subtract them in blue states. Thus, the Census looks like a setback for Democratic chances to win the 270 electoral votes necessary to become president.  Texas, which has voted Republican in 9 of the last 10 elections will gain 4 electoral votes, according to projections from preliminary Census data by Polidata.com. The other gainers -- one vote each -- include Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina and Utah. All of these states have voted for the GOP candidate in at least 7 of the last 10 elections.  Take the 22 states that voted for John McCain as the GOP base in the 2012 presidential election. That base is about to grow from 173 electoral votes to 180. And if Republicans hold it, they could get to 271 by carrying just six more states -- Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Indiana, Virginia and Nevada -- each of which has voted GOP in a majority of the last ten elections.  As it happens, all six of these states, except for North Carolina, will have Republican governors next year, and all six, except for Nevada, will have Republican state legislatures. Sounds eminently doable.  - Washington Post columnist Charles Lane, writing on the impact of last week's election on the 2012 presidential race (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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11 - 19 - 2010 - A series of flawed Supreme Court decisions have expanded Congress's Commerce Clause authority well beyond what the text of the Constitution permits. These rulings allow the federal government to regulate almost any "economic activity." But, as Judge Roger Vinson (the Florida judge hearing one of the lawsuits against ObamaCare) has emphasized, even they do not give Congress the power to regulate people "based solely on citizenship and on being alive." Far from engaging in "economic activity," people who decide not to purchase health insurance are actually refraining from doing so . . .The anti-mandate plaintiffs still face an uphill struggle. Courts are rarely willing to strike down a law that is a centerpiece of the political agenda of the president and his party. Nonetheless, it is increasingly clear that lawsuits are far from "frivolous" and have a real chance to prevail.-- Ilya Somin, an associate professor at George Mason University School of Law, commenting on the prospects of lawsuits seeking to overturn President Obama's health care plan. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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11 - 18 - 2010 - “Princes who have recently acquired a state with the help of a faction within it … should weigh the reasons that might have moved this faction to support them. If it is not natural affection toward the prince that made it favor him, but rather discontent with the former government, it will be only with much toil and difficulty that the prince will maintain these malcontents as his allies, because it will be impossible to satisfy them.”- Machiavelli (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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"It's like she's a secret agent for the Republican Party." -- an anonymous House Democrat commenting to Roll Call on his frustration with Nancy Pelosi's decision to run for Minority Leader. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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11 - 17 - 2010 - "The problem with many traditional Republican leaders, like the incumbent Democrats they are seeking to displace, is that they know what cannot be done. They have almost by osmosis accepted the common wisdom that permeates the very air of Washington. They are the sort who have historically sought to slow, but not put a halt to, the growing centralization of power in this city and who tell each other at various D.C. watering holes that they'd love to change things, but can't. That's why the arrival of a new crop of believing conservatives without experience is so important, because these are men and women who . . . precisely because of their lack of experience . . . don't know what cannot be done and are therefore more likely to do it" -- David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, on the newly elected Republican members of Congress. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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I've been trying to figure out whether I have anything to say about the "chairman's mark" of the deficit commission report that was released today. In a sense, I don't...any serious long-term deficit plan will spend about 1% of its time on the discretionary budget, 1% on Social Security, and 98% on healthcare. Any proposal that doesn't maintain approximately that ratio shouldn't be considered serious. The Simpson-Bowles plan, conversely, goes into loving detail about cuts to the discretionary budget and Social Security but turns suddenly vague and cramped when it gets to Medicare. That's not serious. - Kevin Drum (Is the Deficit Commission Serious?) (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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11 - 16 - 2010 - Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netenyahu has made clear his intention to make the entirety of Jerusalem part of Israel. Which of course is giving every reason for Mahmoud Abbas to walk away from the negotiating table. No leader would accept a foreign power annexing an important part of their territory with no concessions in return.

There are parties on both sides that benefit from continued conflict: Hamas on the Palestinian side picks up more supporters whenever these sorts of announcements are made. Likud on the Israeli side picks up more supporters when Hamas fires rockets at Israel. Either way, the goal is to marginalize Fatah and Kadima, not to end the conflict, not to protect Israelis, and not to protect Palestinians.- Dave K. comment at the NY Times (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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"Let us therefore rely upon the goodness of the Cause, and the aid of the supreme Being, in whose hands Victory is, to animate and encourage us to great and noble Actions. The Eyes of all our Countrymen are now upon us, and we shall have their blessings, and praises, if happily we are the instruments of saving them from the tyranny mediated against them." --George Washington

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11 - 9 - 2010 - "[I]f the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted." --Noah Webster (Submitted by MIchael Krull)

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The parties share blame for the current fiscal situation, but federal budget statistics show that Republican policies over the last decade, and the cost of the two wars, added far more to the deficit than initiatives approved by the Democratic Congress since 2006....

Calculations by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and other independent fiscal experts show that the $1.1 trillion cost over the next 10 years of the Medicare prescription drug program, which the Republican-controlled Congress adopted in 2003, by itself would add more to the deficit than the combined costs of the bailout, the stimulus and the health care law. -  DAVID M. HERSZENHORN NY TImes (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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“China has accrued tens of thousands of experts working on the research and development of rare earth elements. Meanwhile, the numbers of rare earths scientific experts in the United States has diminished and pales in comparison.” The New York Times (Submitted by Steffen Schmidt)

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11 - 7 - 2010 - "Every civilization carries the seeds of its own destruction, and the same cycle shows in them all. The Republic is born, flourishes, decays into plutocracy, and is captured by the shoemaker whom the mercenaries and millionaires make into a king. The people invent their oppressors, and the oppressors serve the function for which they are invented." Mark Twain (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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"Whatever happens in 2012, the core of the Tea Party's big idea could stick. If Republicans win big on Tuesday, then even Obama and the Democrats will be talking about more limited government in the run-up to 2012. Two years ago, when a black man took the White House and the Democrats swept Capitol Hill, it looked as if a new era of American liberalism had dawned. Then came the Tea Party and with it the prospect of a new age of conservatism. Who would have thought it?" -- British journalist Andrew Neil writing in The Guardian newspaper on what he learned about American politics while shooting his new BBC documentary "Tea Party America." (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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11 - 6 - 2010 - "Mr. Obama's biggest mistake was to worry more about consoling morbidly dissatisfied Democrats than about keeping the centrists who voted for him in 2008 . . . Campaigning ahead of the midterms, he made it clearer than before that this was his priority. Every speech, every appearance, every meet and greet, leaned the same way. His message to the center has been: 'You say you are worried about the country's direction' Well, I know you have been under stress. Let's talk again when I have finished discussing strategy with these public-sector unions, liberal commentators, left-leaning television personalities and progressive bloggers' . . . So credit please where it is due. The whining utopian left has a very full schedule of despising Republicans and the idiots and scoundrels (a little over half the country) who keep voting for them. Yet it can always find time to attack its own team, cry and complain, and demand to be patted on the head. The left's role in Tuesday's elections should not go unacknowledged" -- Financial Times columnist Clive Crook, writing before the elections on the reasons for likely Democratic defeat. (Submitted by MIchael Krull)

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Politicians face the electorate as it is rather than the electorate as they think it should be or they rapidly become ex-politicians.- talkingpointsmemo.com comment AJM3 (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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11 - 5 - 2010 - "Sometimes 'no' is a good answer... Gridlock has always proven to be more effective at reducing government spending and deficit than anything else." - Bruce Josten, the chief lobbyist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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"[The Tea Party] is not an organization like the AARP or the AFL-CIO. There are no costs to claiming to be a member. It's not even like a political party, where you signal to the state that you belong to it. You can wake up in the morning as a tea-partier and go to sleep at night as a non-tea-partier. My feeling is that 'Tea Party' has really been a way for fiscal conservatives to communicate with each other. They've had to do that because the word 'Republican' has been run through the mud. If one fiscal conservative says to another, ''I'm a Republican!' that doesn't convey much information anymore. But say, 'I'm a tea partier,' and that is packed with information. So my feeling is that if the Republicans in Congress redeem themselves over the next two years, fiscal conservatives will once again feel all right calling themselves Republicans, and the 'Tea Party' label will fade. That would be a good thing, as it means that they have regained control over the Republican Party" -- Weekly Standard columnist Jay Cost, being interviewed about the impact of the Tea Party at National Review Online. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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11 - 4 - 2010 - "We need to stop writing bills in the speaker's office and let members of Congress be legislators again. Too often in the House right now we don't have legislators; we just have voters. Under Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi, 430 out of the 435 members are just here to vote and raise money. That's it. That's not right. We were each elected to uphold the Constitution and represent 600,000-odd people in our districts. We need to open this place up, let some air in. We have nothing to fear from letting the House work its will -- nothing to fear from the battle of ideas." -- Republican House leader John Boehner, in an interview with the National Journal. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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"Being your senator has been the greatest honor of my life( quoting from Bob Dylan's "Mississippi"): "But my heart is not weary, it's light and it's free/I've got nothing but affection for those who've sailed with me." - Senator Feingold's concession speech on Tues. night (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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11 - 3 - 2010 - If I were one of the big corporate donors who bankrolled the Republican tide that carried into office more than 50 new Republicans in the House, I would be wary of what you just bought.

For no matter your view of President Obama, he effectively saved capitalism. And for that, he paid a terrible political price.

Suppose you had $100,000 to invest on the day Barack Obama was inaugurated....

As of election day, Nov. 2, 2010, your $100,000 was worth about $177,000 if invested strictly in the NASDAQ average for the entirety of the Obama administration, and $148,000 if bet on the Standard & Poors 500 major companies. This works out to returns of 77 percent and 48 percent.   - By TIMOTHY EGAN (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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"In the long run the Tea Party is likely to fade into demoralization and recrimination, as its anti-statist ideology collides with the realities of 21st-century big government. In time it may even be viewed as the last gasp of Goldwater-Reagan conservatism. The coming [electoral] gains will bring dramatic changes in policy and personnel. However, to interpret them as evidence of a lasting realignment will be to misinterpret, as political climate change, what is only a tempest in a Tea Party" -- Michael Lind, policy director at the liberal New America Foundation, writing in the Financial Times. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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11 - 2 - 2010 - "I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves." --Thomas Jefferson (Submitted by Michael Krull

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Granny D, shortly before she was arrested at the Capitol: Dear friends, we would never seek to abolish now what has become our dear United States. But it is our constant intention that it should be a government of, by and for the people, not the special interests. Our right to alter our government must be used to sweep these halls clean of greedy interests so that people may use this government in service to each other's needs and to protect the condition of our earth. This we declare.  (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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I liked this comment on the state of American society. It puts it nicely without screaming and uses a Tsunami metaphor for greed and the “gimme” society we have created. Steffen Schmidt 

“The people first felt it as a rumble deep from within the land. First it swayed left, then it swayed right. Timbers creaked, farm animals scattered, and trees shook.  

Those next to the ocean noticed the sea drawing back, exposing a vast swath of wet sand loaded with gasping fish and large shells.  

"Free stuff," a youth called out, and thousands of people rushed onto this newly liberated land. Using wagons and boxes, they scooped up the bounty as best they could.  

They were so busy harvesting, the people hardly noticed a second group of citizens fleeing the scene, heading to higher ground.  

"Nothing is free," one remarked, " for one must give in order to receive." With a tear in his eye, he looked back briefly at his native land, and then resumed his climb up the hill.  

What happened next, few survived to tell. But when pieced together, their story told of a giant wave moving in from the sullen sea. With deliberate speed it moved across the ocean, and towering higher than the trees, it crashed upon the land, trapping the bounty hunters in-between.  

Days later, the people who had fled to the hill slowly returned to the ocean side. Only instead of building their new residences as before close to the sea, the now wiser people kept a safe distance from the calm sea.  

"The ocean gives," one said, "but alas it also takes. “ By mtpeaks responding to a blog on the Senate races 2010 by A Blake, Washington Post. 

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11 - 1 - 2010 - “The battle for the American mind right now is between talk show hosts and comedians. I choose the comedians.” - Alex Foxwarth, a 26-year-old doctoral student from Richmond, Va., (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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"Although Republican strategists are hardly panicking, they are noticing the tightening. As one Republican strategist put it, Democratic voters were so demoralized that their intensity had only one way to go, and that was up. . . . My reaction to recent polls is to think that the odds for a seven- or eight-seat Democratic loss in the Senate have increased, while the chances of losing nine, 10, or more seats have dropped some. . . . Even so, Republicans stand poised to make sizable gains that will flip the House and bring them close to winning the Senate" -- veteran political handicapper Charlie Cook, writing at NationalJournal.com (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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10 - 31 - 2010 - "Public affairs go on pretty much as usual: perpetual chicanery and rather more personal abuse than there used to be." --John Adams (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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“I watched part of the Rally to Restore Sanity on Saturday and got very bored.  It was like the night of the living dead with the revival of groups and entertainers who are flat and off key. Maybe that was on purpose and "symbolic." It was like Woodstock without mud, sex, drugs, or good rock n' roll! Too much of it was like a bunch of stupid high school kids with no sense of organization and a ME, ME ME! attitude putting on a skit. It was juvenile at best and not good entertainment at worst. If you were there it musta been cool jammed in with other white folk. For the rest of "The Nation" it was just a bunch of self important East Coast jerks prancing around a big stage and being stupid. I was VERY disappointed.

Ya think that the 100 million people living in small town America, in the Southwest, the South, the Midwest liked this or connected with it? Most of it was liberal inside baseball that all the people at the shopping malls all over the USA on Saturday would not even understand what the reference was to the jokes and comments.

If that’s what progressives have up their sleeves to mobilize voters they will probably be very disappointed. It was a missed opportunity to build a new political movement. Or even to just get Democrats voting on Nov 2.”     Steffen Schmidt “Dr Politics” on his Des Moines Register blog

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10 - 30 - 2010 - In the news media, we hear of the fragility of our country, how we're on the brink of catastrophe, how it's a shame we can't work together. "The truth is, we do." (invoking the metaphor of a traffic merger at the Lincoln Tunnel) "You go, then I'll go." "Sure, at some point there will be a selfish jerk who zips up the shoulder and cuts in at the last minute. But that individual is rare and he is scorned, and he is not hired as an analyst."- Jon  Stewart, Rally to Restore Sanity (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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"[After the 2006 Democratic victory that allowed Democrats to take control of the House] Rahm Emanuel sounded like a coach whose team had just won the national championship. Emanuel, the leader of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, had reason to boast. . . . He praised the new breed of Democratic politicians who -- thanks in most cases to disciplined campaign styles and moderate ideological profiles -- had 'expanded the field' into dozens of districts in the Northeast, the Upper South, the Ohio River Valley and the Rocky Mountain West, all previously claimed by the GOP. Four years later, Emanuel has just left Washington. And the odds, it seems, are that many of his star recruits of 2006 are about to do the same" -- John F. Harris, writing at Politico.com on the irony that many of the conservative Blue Dog Democrats who helped the party regain the House in 2006 may be defeated in the voter revolt against the Obama Administration's liberal agenda. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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10 - 28 - 2010 - "After the election, I'd say no more pointing back, no more blaming the Bush administration. It's O.K. to do that during the campaign and then stop. But to do it as much as we do it, it sounds like a broken record. And after two years, you own it" -- Democratic Governor Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania, giving the New York Times a harsh assessment of President Obama's efforts to lay the blame for economic conditions on the Bush administration. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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For decades, the word "liberal" has been dragged down and demonized by a very organized and well-funded far-right smear campaign. While many of us are proud to label ourselves "liberals" per the traditional definition, most Americans are afraid to associate themselves with the word, given the artificial right-wing pejorative redefinition. Put another way, Gallup pollsters might as well ask Americans if they identify themselves as "vaguely gay elitists who hate America." Conversely, and due in part to a self-conscious press, the word "conservative" has been pumped full of hot dogs, apple pie, country rock anthems and mindless bullhorn patriotism. It's no wonder the liberal self-ID numbers are in the crapper.- Bob Cesca Huffington Post (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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10 - 27 - 2010 - "With the advent of the Internet, prompt disclosure of expenditures can provide shareholders and citizens with the information needed to hold corporations and elected officials accountable for their positions. This transparency enables the electorate to make informed decisions and give proper weight to different speakers and messages." Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote in Citizens United. (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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"All indications coming out of the White House suggest that if Democrats suffer major losses, the president and his top aides will resolutely refuse to reconsider the policies -- national health care, stimulus, runaway spending -- that led to their defeat. Instead, they will point fingers in virtually every direction other than their own. Come November, it's likely the D-for-Democrat that the president refers to so often will actually stand for denial'" -- columnist Byron York, writing in the Washington Examiner. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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10 - 26 - 2010 - "[I]t turns out that the president was shoveling something all right when he was talking about shovel-ready jobs. . . . In the current New York Times Magazine, Obama admits that there's 'no such thing as shovel-ready' when it comes to public works. It's not that he was lying when he said all that stuff. It's just that he didn't know what he was talking about. All it took was nearly a trillion dollars in stimulus money and 20-plus months of on-the-job training for him to discover that he was talking nonsense" -- New York Post columnist Jonah Goldberg, commenting on President Obama's admission that the stimulus bill didn't contain the "shovel-ready" infrastructure projects he had previously touted. (Submitted by MIchael Krull)

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Something is profoundly wrong with the way we live today. For thirty years we have made a virtue out of the pursuit of material self-interest: indeed, this very pursuit now constitutes whatever remains of our sense of collective purpose. We know what things cost but have no idea what they are worth. We no longer ask of a judicial ruling or a legislative act: is it good? Is it fair? Is it just? Is it right? Will it help bring about a better society or a better world? Those used to be the political questions, even if they invited no easy answers. We must learn once again to pose them. -Tony Judt  (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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10 - 25 - 2010 - He (Andrew Cuomo, Democratic candidate for Gov. of NY) said if lawmakers failed to approve legislation allowing for independent ethics oversight of the Legislature, he would appoint a special prosecutor with powers to investigate what he called “chronic corruption” among lawmakers. - Reporter Nicholas Confessore NYTIMES (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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"After the election, I'd say no more pointing back, no more blaming the Bush administration. It's O.K. to do that during the campaign and then stop. But to do it as much as we do it, it sounds like a broken record. And after two years, you own it" -- Democratic Governor Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania, giving the New York Times a harsh assessment of President Obama's efforts to lay the blame for economic conditions on the Bush administration. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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10 - 24 - 2010 - Reuters reports: "The number of homes taken over by banks topped 100,000 for the first time in September, though foreclosures are expected to slow in coming months as lenders work through questionable paperwork, real estate data company RealtyTrac said on Thursday. Banks foreclosed on 102,134 properties in September, the first single month above the century mark, RealtyTrac said. There were 347,420 total foreclosure filings in September, 3 percent higher than August and 1 percent higher than a year earlier." (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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I like the little guy (Jerry Brown); he didn't have the money behind him like she did...

We don't shop at Walmart. We shop at the local store. He just seemed like more of a down-home candidate...

That message that they're sending to people is a very bad choice, we're looking to people to act their values rather than throw money at causes. People are holding their money really closely and those candidates are really splurging." - Paula Bennett, a California Schoolteacher (drawn to Brown as Whitman dumps even more cash in the race for Governor) (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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10 - 23 - 2010 - Poor people do not organize, they never have. It has always been people who have fairly good jobs. You don’t see Wal-Mart workers massing anywhere. The people who are the most militant are the people who had the best blue-collar jobs. Their expectation level was high. When they felt their jobs were being jeopardized they got really angry. But when you are at $7.25 an hour you want to hang on to $7.25 an hour. It is a strange thing.

...People have institutionalized oppressive power in the form of surrender, it is not that they like it. But what are you going to do about it? You make the best of it. The system of control is staggeringly dictatorial. It breaks new ground and innovates in ways no one in human history has ever innovated. You start in American history where these corporations have influence. Then they have lobbyists. Then they run candidates. Then they put their appointments in top government positions. Now, they are actually operating the government. Look at Halliburton and Blackwater. - ralph nader  (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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"How many balloons do you order for a party celebrating nearly 40 House Democratic losses? Are confetti cannons an appropriate response to retaining the House majority by a slender margin of one, two, or three seats? This bizarre conversation has taken on a somewhat comic urgency among party strategists closest to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Why? Because House Democrats are increasingly confident that they are going to beat back the Republican onslaught and keep control of the chamber -- even as they suffer massive losses across the country" -- National Journal's Major Garrett, writing that House Democratic leaders believe their early and relentless fund-raising efforts after the 2008 elections mean their House majority will narrowly survive 2010. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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10 - 22 - 2010 - "In the final weeks before the midterm elections, President Obama has adopted an inside-baseball closing argument against Republicans: campaign finance. . . . It's a telling line of attack. All expectations were that Democrats would hold a significant financial fundraising edge over Republicans, and that the money advantage would be their one saving grace in surviving an otherwise punishing election year. . . . Instead, the third-party money has evened the playing field, allowing underfunded Republican challengers to be financially competitive with well-heeled Democratic incumbents. Without groups like American Crossroads, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would have been able to dominate the airwaves against Republican Sharron Angle, who ended the primary campaign nearly broke while Reid was sitting on more than $8 million. . . . Democrats have portrayed the influx of GOP outside money into the political process as sinister, raising the unsubstantiated specter of foreign influence into the political process. But money chases momentum -- not the other way around. There's a simple reason for all of the cash flooding against Democrats this year -- voters are sending a clear message to Washington with their pocketbooks" -- columnist Josh Kraushaar writing at NationalJournal.com. (Submitted by MIchael Krull)

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 ...the majority of suicide terrorism around the world since 1980 has had a common cause: military occupation....We have lots of evidence now that when you put the foreign military presence in, it triggers suicide terrorism campaigns, ... and that when the foreign forces leave, it takes away almost 100% of the terrorist campaign - Robert Pape U of Chicago author of Cutting the Fuse - The Explosion of Global Suicide Terrorism and  How to Stop It (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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10 - 21 - 2010 - Outside spending by independent groups is dramatically changing the face and shape of elections in the United States in the 2010 midterms. So far, this year there has been more than $200 million spent on independent expenditures by all outside groups, including party committees. Aside from the increase in money spent the big change this election cycle is that independent groups are now spending more money on influencing the election than political parties. - Paul Blumenthal Sunlight Foundation (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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Reuters reports: "The number of homes taken over by banks topped 100,000 for the first time in September, though foreclosures are expected to slow in coming months as lenders work through questionable paperwork, real estate data company RealtyTrac said on Thursday. Banks foreclosed on 102,134 properties in September, the first single month above the century mark, RealtyTrac said. There were 347,420 total foreclosure filings in September, 3 percent higher than August and 1 percent higher than a year earlier." (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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10 - 20 - 2010 - Ernst & Young and the National Retail Federation are coming out this morning with a survey arguing that creating "a European-style Value Added Tax being proposed by some Washington policymakers to reduce the federal deficit would result in the loss of 850,000 jobs in the first year, reduce gross domestic product for three years, and bring a permanent drop in retail spending totaling $2.5 trillion over the first 10 years. ... According to the study, an add-on VAT ... would reduce retail spending by 5 percent in the first year, or $257 billion." Executive Summary: http://politi.co/cxQaua (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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“Given the choice, 53 percent of adults in the world's 24 leading economies said they would immigrate to Canada.” - statistic quoted by Joe Friesen, Globe and Mail (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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10 - 19 - 2010 - China's economy is thirsty, and so it's drinking deeper and planning deeper... It craves Iraq's oil and Turkmenistan's natural gas, as well as oil from Kazakhstan. Yet instead of spending more than a trillion dollars on an illegal war in Iraq or setting up military bases all over the Greater Middle East and Central Asia, China used its state oil companies to get some of the energy it needed simply by bidding for it in a perfectly legal Iraqi oil auction.

Meanwhile, in the New Great Game in Eurasia, China had the good sense not to send a soldier anywhere or get bogged down in an infinite quagmire in Afghanistan. Instead, the Chinese simply made a direct commercial deal with Turkmenistan and... built itself a pipeline which will provide much of the natural gas it needs.

No wonder the Obama administration's Eurasian energy czar Richard Morningstar was forced to admit at a congressional hearing that the U.S. simply cannot compete with China when it comes to Central Asia's energy wealth. If only he had delivered the same message to the Pentagon. - Pepe Escobar (salon.com) (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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The International Institute for Strategic Studies said Iran's missile development programe was expanding in tandem with its drive to acquire an atomic capability. The Sajjil-2 missile, with a range of 1,400 miles, was test-fired at the end of 2008 and will be ready for deployment in 2012. The weapon relies on solid fuel for propulsion, which means it has a short preparation time and can't be as easily deterred by a pre-emptive strike.  Although the missile is initially likely to carry a conventional warhead, the development of similar missiles in other countries has been closely tied to a nuclear weapons programe.  "Iran is the only country to have developed a missile of this reach without first having developed nuclear weapons," the report said. The missile would be capable of hitting Israel and parts of southern Europe depending on the size of the warhead. -  Telegraph (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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10 - 18 - 2010 - Foreign Policy Institute Policy Advisor John Noonan and Stuart Koehl write:  The NPR and the new START agreement are both seen as first steps towards a drastically reduced nuclear force, seemingly without carefully considering the deeper strategic implications. While President Obama’s goal of a nuclear free-world appears noble, it could ultimately jeopardize the stability that has kept America safe for over six decades. We should proceed cautiously. – National Review Online (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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What we're witnessing is a 21st century version of enclosure, where instead of a wealthy few closing off the commons and creating a huge underclass, a wealthy few are using their dominant political position to enclose other peoples' private property. And while the teabaggers, the shock troops of feudalism, are whining about government, their beloved private enterprise are the ones that are actually destroying property rights in this country with impunity. - Robert Cruickshank, Public Policy Director, Courage Campaign (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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10 - 17 - 2010 - The "logic" behind Citizens United is that third-party spending can't possibly be corrupting. The five-justice majority declared that "this court now concludes that independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption. That speakers may have influence over or access to elected officials does not mean that those officials are corrupt. And the appearance of influence or access will not cause the electorate to lose faith in this democracy." You can decide what's more stunning about this statement, its naivete or its arrogance. - EJ Dionne ( Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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"Obama was elected as the corrective to the Bush years. Yet when you're the winner, the temptation is always there to see yourself as something more than just an alternative . . . . 'When you win an election,' says political scientist Bill Galston, 'you are always inclined to believe you won for the reasons you wanted to win.' In other words, you believe you won for the big stuff, not just because the voters didn't like the other guy" -- CNN's Gloria Borger, on the basic miscalculation of the Obama administration in heedlessly preferring its own priorities, such as health care reform, over the public's concern with growth and jobs. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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10 - 16 - 2010 - "There is a Democratic mini-surge going on, we are told. . . . This often happens, though I must acknowledge that it didn't happen in 2008, when Republican campaign strategists and consultants were brutally honest with themselves in acknowledging that their candidates were going to get slaughtered in the fall elections. How refreshing that was. This cycle, many Democrats I talk with acknowledge that big defeats are inevitable, but they then go on to argue their candidate is the one who is going to survive, pointing either to a new poll, the presence of a third-party candidate on the ballot or the alleged unelectability of the GOP challenger" -- Stuart Rothenberg, editor of the Rothenberg Political Report, writing in Roll Call. (Submitted by Michael Krill)

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10 - 10 - 2010 - "Any political party that can't exploit 9.5 percent unemployment ought to hang up their gloves" -- Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, acknowledging potential GOP gains in House races next month. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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10 - 9 - 2010 - "A big employer mulls dropping health insurance coverage due to ObamaCare's mandates. The claim that if you like your plan you can keep it was a lie, and the effort to destroy private insurance is working. The 30,000 or so hourly workers at McDonald's undoubtedly like the health care plan their employer provides and would like to keep it. For $14 a week, a worker gets a plan that caps annual benefits at $2,000; $32 a week gets you coverage up to $10,000. They get minimum coverage at a minimum price, but most younger workers are healthy and for that reason, they constitute a high percentage of the uninsured. What McDonald's Corp. offers is not a one-size-fits-all nanny-state special that forces young males to pay for mammograms. President Obama promised that under ObamaCare these workers could keep these plans, but McDonald's has told federal regulators in a memo that it would be 'economically prohibitive' for its insurance carrier to continue to cover its hourly workers unless it receives a waiver to the ObamaCare requirement that 80% of premiums for such 'mini-med' plans be spent on medical care. Other large employers who offer such plans could find themselves in the same dilemma.... This administration doesn't understand how businesses operate and really doesn't care. As for private insurers, the White House doesn't care if they're driven out of business due to higher costs. ... Companies such as McDonald's, and insurance companies too, must manage their bottom lines to stay in business. ObamaCare distorts a system based on risk and turns it into an entitlement that is based on political considerations and aimed at getting as many people totally dependent on government as possible." -- Investor's Business Daily (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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10 - 8 - 2010 - "Things in our country run in spite of the government, not by the aid of it." --American humorist Will Rogers (Submitted by MIchael Krull)

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"Politicians never accuse you of 'greed' for wanting other people's money -- only for wanting to keep your own money." --columnist Joe Sobran (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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10 - 7 - 2010 - "Rahm [Emanuel] continues to be pilloried by liberals for hastening the deterioration of relations between the White House and the left. Ari Berman's new book, Herding Donkeys, adds another data point, reporting that Rahm was the force behind the White House's refusal to hire Howard Dean, something that enraged lefty grassroots activists. From page 204: 'Those with firsthand knowledge of the transition process said that Emanuel, an infamous score settler, made his intentions regarding Dean perfectly clear. "There was never any intention to hire Dean, and in fact there was a great deal of satisfaction at dissing him," said a senior member of the transition team. "The orders were coming down from Rahm that Dean was not to be considered for anything"'" -- Washington Post political blogger Greg Sargent, on White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's difficult relationship with the Democratic Party's liberal activist wing. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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10 - 6 - 2010 - Paul Krugman: "Perhaps the most important thing to realize is that when billionaires put their might behind 'grass roots' right-wing action, it’s not just about ideology: it’s also about business. What the Koch brothers have bought with their huge political outlays is, above all, freedom to pollute. What Mr. Murdoch is acquiring with his expanded political role is the kind of influence that lets his media empire make its own rules. Thus in Britain, a reporter at one of Mr. Murdoch’s papers, News of the World, was caught hacking into the voice mail of prominent citizens, including members of the royal family. But Scotland Yard showed little interest in getting to the bottom of the story."  (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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"The '12 Republican presidential race [potentially between Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney] could divide the GOP along the same lines of class and education that defined the '08 Democratic contest between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton . . . . Historically, such a fissure along educational lines has occurred more regularly in Democratic than Republican presidential primaries. Almost every Democratic presidential nominating contest since '68 has, in the end, resolved into a contest between a 'wine track' candidate whose support has been rooted among socially-liberal well-educated voters (think Eugene McCarthy, Gary Hart and Bill Bradley), and an economically populist 'beer track' candidate (like Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale and Bill Clinton) whose support has come mostly from working-class whites and minorities. . . . It's far too early to speculate who would have the upper hand in a Romney-Palin contest. But the signs are mounting that, if they do square off, they would appeal to very different constituencies in an increasingly upstairs-downstairs Republican electoral coalition" -- veteran political analyst Ronald Brownstein, writing at NationalJournal.com about a Gallup survey of the demographic divide between Palin and Romney supporters. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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10 - 5 - 2010 - "The multiplication of public offices, increase of expense beyond income, growth and entailment of a public debt, are indications soliciting the employment of the pruning knife." --Thomas Jefferson (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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"[In his Rolling Stone interview, President Obama offered] a prospective denunciation of anyone who'd voted for him in 2008 but might fail to turn out to vote in congressional races in 2010. . . . Even worse, the president was promising he'd judge such 'irresponsible' people harshly when it came to their seriousness of purpose: 'If people now want to take their ball and go home, that tells me folks weren't serious in the first place.' Obama is talking to voters as though he is their boss, or their principal, or their father. He is not any of those things. He is their employee" -- New York Post columnist John Podhoretz. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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10 - 4 - 2010 - Forget drafty windows and aging cars -- ... one of the biggest wastes of energy in America could be the food in your garbage can. 

Every rotten tomato or unwanted chicken wing represents wasted energy, since the calories in the food are never consumed. And the energy that went into growing the food, processing it, packaging it and transporting it to the consumer is also wasted. 

Each year, American food waste represents the energy equivalent of 350 million barrels of oil  (A study by the National Institutes of Health, which measured food waste by calories, put the portion of food that goes uneaten at about 40 percent as of 2005.) -  Wasted Food, Wasted Energy: The Embedded Energy in Food Waste in the United States - by Amanda D. Cullar Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy, The University of Texas at Austin and Michael E. Webber Mechanical Engineering, Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy, The University of Texas at Austin (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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"A Rasmussen Reports poll found that a [Mike] Castle write-in bid could breathe new life into the candidacy of GOP nominee Christine O'Donnell, the tea-party-backed conservative pundit who has been widely dismissed as too conservative to win the general election. According to the poll, a Castle write-in candidacy would derive its support most directly from supporters of Democratic hopeful Chris Coons. The poll found Castle would cut into Coons' support by at least 5 percent, potentially more, turning a likely blowout for Democrats into a more competitive contest" -- reporter Steve Peoples, writing at CQPolitics.com about the Delaware senate race. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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10 - 3 - 2010 - "[South Dakota Senator] John Thune is likely to run for president in 2012. . . . an exceptionally skilled retail politician who can communicate a kind of midwestern, common sense conservatism that is ascendant in reaction to liberal profligacy. . . . It also helps that he's cultivated the nationwide donor base that gave him $14.5 million to defeat Tom Daschle in 2004. And that South Dakota borders Iowa. And that he's good on television. And that he's a devout Christian who can quote Scripture without seeming to proselytize. But there are many obstacles. He has virtually no national profile. He worked briefly as a lobbyist. He voted for TARP. He is a defender of earmarks. He would be running against Washington from Washington" -- Weekly Standard writer Stephen Hayes, writing in the magazine's latest issue. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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10 - 2 - 2010 - "A good government implies two things; first, fidelity to the objects of the government; secondly, a knowledge of the means, by which those objects can be best attained." --Joseph Story (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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"Few things have captured in microcosm what has gone so painfully wrong, where racial issues are concerned, like the recent election for mayor of Washington, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, under whom the murder rate has gone down and the school children's test scores have gone up, was resoundingly defeated for re-election. . . . The mayor appointed the best people he could find, instead of running a racial patronage system, as a black mayor of a city with a black majority is apparently expected to. He also didn't spend as much time schmoozing with the folks as was expected. . . . How did we reach the point where black voters put racial patronage and racial symbolism above the education of their children and the safety of everyone?" -- Thomas Sowell, a scholar at Stanford's Hoover Institution, writing in his syndicated column. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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10 - 1 - 2010 - “Readier for bloodshed than at any time since at least the confrontations in the 1990s in Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and Waco, Texas, the radical right has raised the threat level against the President and other government targets....

...What authorities did not disclose was how close the country had come to a seismic political event. Von Brunn, authoritative sources say, had another target in mind: White House senior adviser David Axelrod, a man at the center of Obama's circle. The President was too hard to reach, in Von Brunn's view, but that was of no consequence. "Obama was created by Jews," he wrote. "Obama does what his Jew owners tell him to do."  - Barton Gellman Time magazine (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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"Here's how I know that Barney Frank's re-election race is tighter than he'd like. Yesterday I asked him some questions . . . [and] he didn't tell me I was asking something dumb. He didn't get mad. He didn't lecture me on what I should be asking instead. What's up? My guess: Barney's on good behavior because the country's angry. Lots of voters in his typically adoring 4th District are angry too. So he's taking no chances with Marine Reservist challenger Sean Bielat of Brookline who sounds reasonable and earnest, who looks all spit and polish on TV and who hopes to tie the financial collapse around the neck of Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee" -- Boston Herald columnist Margery Eagan. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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9 - 30 - 2010 - "It is too early for politicians to presume on our forgetting that the public good, the real welfare of the great body of the people, is the supreme object to be pursued; and that no form of government whatever has any other value than as it may be fitted for the attainment of this object." --James Madison (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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9 - 29 - 2010 - "I recognize that, in an effort to revive the economy, we engaged in a massive spending program. . . . But nobody should kid themselves into thinking that the government can invest in something like electric cars as well as the private sector can. When Congress allocates X billion dollars for electric cars, or for batteries, or for windfarms, the money ends up in the hands of some government agency which has to decide how to invest it. And I candidly don't believe that government is the best allocator of resources, especially within a compressed time frame." -- former Obama auto czar Steve Rattner, in an interview at the New Republic's Web site. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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9 - 28 - 2010 - "I'm not looking to pick another fight with Rahm Emanuel, but the contempt with which he held the progressive wing of the party was devastating and incredibly demoralizing, that's basically saying to your own people -- you got us here, now FU." - Howard Dean (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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"By Krugman's logic, it's the wealthiest two percent of Americans who have swamped the polls for primary elections that have upended the political status quo; who flocked to see Glenn Beck in Washington, DC a few weeks ago; and are fomenting anti-immigrant vigilante mob mentality in the border states because jobs are being swiped from 'real Americans.' This is truly priceless. I don't deny that the very wealthy in general aren't happy with Obama's rudderless economic policies. . . . But the reality, as Krugman's employers might tell him in a private moment, is that extraordinarily wealthy people pay a lot of money to accountants and tax attorneys to find loopholes, shelters and the like. The editorial writers at the Times have long championed confiscatory estate taxes, a fair enough opinion, but just once I'd like to see a disclaimer that explains how the Sulzberger family, which owns the Times Co., has dodged those very taxes that would necessitate a re-structuring of their 114-year-old enterprise" -- Russ Smith, proprietor of the web site Splice Today and founder of the New York Press and the Washington City Paper, responding to a Paul Krugman column in the New York Times claiming that political opposition to Mr. Obama stems from "the rich" seeking to avoid higher taxes. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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9 - 27 - 2010 - "Maybe it was just a coincidence, but it was striking, nevertheless. The mayor of Washington, Adrian Fenty, one of the so-called postracial black leaders, suffered a humiliating defeat in his bid for re-election last week when African-American voters deserted him in droves. The very same week President Obama, the most prominent of the so-called postracial types, was moving aggressively to shore up his support among black voters. Mr. Obama, who usually goes out of his way to avoid overtly racial comments and appeals, made an impassioned plea during a fiery speech Saturday night at a black-tie event sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus. 'I need everybody here,' he said, 'to go back to your neighborhoods, to go back your workplaces, to go to the churches and go to the barbershops and go to the beauty shops. And tell them we've got more work to do'" -- New York Times columnist Bob Herbert. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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Instead of a "Pledge to America," the Republicans should have written an "Apology to America." It should have gone something like this:

"We're sorry, America. Sorry we grew the federal government budget from $1.7 trillion to over $3 trillion. Sorry we added $5 trillion to the federal debt. Sorry we doubled the size of the Department of Education. Sorry we started two incredibly costly foreign wars. Sorry we supported the absurd and costly TARP bailouts. Sorry we created a huge and costly new Medicare entitlement. Sorry we did nothing to end the costly and destructive War on Drugs. Sorry we did nothing to reform the federal government's near-prohibition on immigration. But hey, at least we helped you by shifting a lot of your tax burden onto your children and grandchildren." - Wes Benedict Exec. Director Libertarian Party (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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9 - 26 - 2010 - (Christine O’Donnell doesn’t understand why monkeys can’t turn into people right before her eyes.... “Evolution is a myth.”

Maher shot back, “Have you ever looked at a monkey?” To which O’Donnell rebutted, “Why aren’t monkeys still evolving into humans?”

The comedian has a soft spot for the sweet-faced Republican Senate candidate from Delaware, but ... it’s “powerful stupid to think primate evolution could happen fast enough to observe it. That’s bacteria....

Sarah Palin will believe global warming is a hoax until she’s doing aerial hunting of wolves underwater. And in a 2009 clip, Sharron Angle, the Republican Senate candidate from Nevada, suggested that autism — a word she uttered with air quotes — is a phony rubric. She suggested that people are taking advantage of such maladies to get extra health benefits, adding that she doesn’t see why she should have to subsidize maternity benefits for other people either, especially since, as she said, she’s not having any more babies....) (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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"You have to recognize also that I don't think you win this war. I think you keep fighting. It's a little bit like Iraq, actually. . . . Yes, there has been enormous progress in Iraq. But there are still horrific attacks in Iraq, and you have to stay vigilant. You have to stay after it. This is the kind of fight we're in for the rest of our lives and probably our kids' lives" -- Obama Afghan commander General David Petraeus, quoted in a new Bob Woodward book, reacting to President Obama's plan to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan next year. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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9 - 25 - 2010 - "The head of Germany's federal crime office . . . [says] that since the beginning of 2009, Germany had noticed a growing number of residents traveling to terrorist camps and that he now classified 131 people in Germany as 'potential instigators.' He said 70 of them had 'completed paramilitary training in terror camps' and 40 had combat experience with the insurgents in Afghanistan. . . . What are the comparable figures for the United States? . . . What does the U.S. government think about these terrorism reports? Are they accurate or overblown? I can't offer any guidance for readers, because officials at the White House and various agencies still wouldn't comment as of late Tuesday. Americans shouldn't obsess constantly about terrorist threats. It's bad for our national psyche. But by the same token, if terrorism becomes an unmentionable subject -- with officials across the government clamming up -- then we're living in another sort of artificial world." -- Washington Post columnist David Ignatius. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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9 - 24 - 2010 - "When the government fears the people there is liberty; when the people fear the government there is tyranny." --Thomas Jefferson (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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"This year offers a terrific political environment for Republicans, one comparable, though certainly not identical, to 1994. But Republican primary voters, and particularly those backing the tea party candidates, seem intent on testing the GOP wave to see how high and how strong it really is. In Kentucky, primary voters cast aside a cinch winner and nominated ophthalmologist Rand Paul, who's not a heavy favorite. I would not extend this analogy to GOP nominee Sharron Angle in Nevada. Although she is by almost all accounts an awful candidate, her two rivals in the primary were nothing great either. . . . . With the Senate at best a long shot for Republicans, it will be interesting to see how the conservative independent expenditure groups react. Will they retool their efforts to back GOP House candidates, many of whom are chronically underfunded? Or will they pursue the more glamorous and less labor-intensive course of pushing Senate candidates? These conservative groups have put almost $3 into Senate races for every $1 they have put into House contests -- a strategy that seems to defy logic, even before their party's Delaware setback" -- National Journal columnist and political prognosticator Charlie Cook, on the priorities of Tea Party and other conservative donor groups before and after the upset win of Christine O'Donnell in Delaware. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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9 - 23 - 2010 - "No matter what happens in the midterm elections on Nov. 2, the Tea Party has moved the Democrats to the right and the Republicans even more so, and President Obama's agenda is dead. . . . Next year, when he is running for reelection, tax and budget reform will be the only issues he could realistically work on with a GOP majority or a razor-thin Democratic majority. . . . . The Tea Party candidates themselves -- like [Christine] O'Donnell, whom Karl Rove called 'nutty' -- matter little. Only a few will actually get elected this fall. Yet the Tea Party has won without them. There are no tea leaves left to read. Democrats have been spooked and Republicans threatened, cajoled or cleansed. The results are already in." -- A.B. Stoddard, associate editor of The Hill newspaper in Washington. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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...little of what is called "politics" is subject to reason.  The majority does not respect the rights of the minority when they feel threatened.  The platitudes that people say they live by mean nothing.  The ideals of the young are soon abandoned.  The need for more and more "structure" and control is constantly reinforced.  The wars go on and on and on.  The natural "default" position for the collective is reaction, not progress, not expansion, not "liberal". - Ben Sen, a blogger from NY (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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9 - 21 - 2010 - According to a study published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, only 1.6% of Americans receive $100,000 or more in inheritance. Another 1.1% receive $50,000 to $100,000. On the other hand, 91.9% receive nothing (Kotlikoff & Gokhale, 2000). Thus, the attempt by ultra-conservatives to eliminate inheritance taxes -- which they always call "death taxes" for P.R. reasons -- would take a huge bite out of government revenues for the benefit of less than 1% of the population. - from Wealth, Income, and Power by G. William Domhoff  (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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‘Don’t ask! It’s hell. I can’t stand it!’ Michelle Obama to France’s First Lady Bruni, as quoted in Bruni’s new book, when asked about her position as the U.S. president’s wife. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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“The tax code should not be a tool for income redistribution or social engineering; taxes should aim to raise needed revenue efficiently to fund our national priorities while maximizing economic growth.”  Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan as quoted in the Washington Post (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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“Obama misread his mandate. Obama’s 2008 victory was a personal one,” says Bill Galston, an adviser to President Clinton. “It wasn’t a vote for a more expansive view of the role and reach of government.” The stimulus, on its own, wasn’t the problem. It was the thousands of easy-to-caricature pages of new legislation that came on top of it, all of which revived the Republicans’ “big government” narrative.” Newsweek columnist Howard Fineman in the 12 September issue (Submitted by MIchael Krull)

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9 - 20 - 2010 - Gallup's Lydia Saad reports: “The financial reform bill President Obama signed into law in July is the most popular of five major pieces of legislation Congress has passed in the past two years -- in fact, it is the only one tested in a recent USA Today/Gallup poll that a majority of Americans support. Six in 10 Americans approve of the legislation to strengthen government regulation of the financial industry. By contrast, a majority disapprove of the 2009 economic stimulus package, the auto industry bailout, healthcare reform, and -- most of all -- the 2008 banking industry bailout. Financial reform does best due to a relatively high level of support from Republicans -- 42% approve of it -- as well as majority support from independents.”  (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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If you give a rich man a dollar, he will invest it until it grows to the point where it can be hidden in an offshore account and be safe from tax predators. If you give a dollar to a poor man, he’ll just waste it on food. - So Saith Supply Side Jesus (saw the post by an anonymous writer) (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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The head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Monday his agency was assessing a report by a dissident Iranian group that it had evidence of a new secret underground atomic site in Iran. - Reuters  (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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John Vinocur writes: With Iran now estimated to be in possession of enough low-enriched uranium to produce, with further enrichment, two nuclear weapons, and administration officials saying manufacturing one would take the mullahs about a year, American policy is hard-pressed to be credible…If this is a new American Moment, the administration’s approach to Iran appears to be providing its friends with at least as much uncertainty as motivation and resolve. – New York Times  (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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9 - 19 - 2010 - ...I think if our Democratic candidates would actually be proud of to stand for their votes that they’ve taken.... People who have supported health care shouldn’t run from it. They should be as proud of that vote as any vote they’ve taken in their lives. This is actually going to help people in a pretty serious way. It’s not going to hurt people. 

.... Yeah, and the fact that they’re cowards in such a serious way.  I mean, is this about their reelection or is this about helping people? What are they in politics for? What are they in government for, if they’re not in government to help people? They should simply get out.  They shouldn’t run for reelection. And we should put people in there who are strong leaders, who want to do something to help people. That health care bill is going to help young people, old people, poor people, middle-income people. It’s vitally important to this country and any one of them that walks away from it, isn’t proud of that vote, is a coward. Yeah, and the fact that they’re cowards in such a serious way.  I mean, is this about their reelection or is this about helping people? What are they in politics for? What are they in government for, if they’re not in government to help people? --STEVE HILDEBRAND: (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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Financial Services Roundtable's Scott Talbot on the Basel III agreement: “Overall if you look at the big picture of everything in this agreement, it is a positive. It sets out the new rules of the game. It ends uncertainty related to capital levels and that's important. The capital levels are reasonable. …The phase in period makes sense. At a time of economic difficulty like this you do not want to make less capital available for lending. … That capital is needed in the marketplace.”  (Submitted by MIchael Krull)

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9 - 18 - 2010 - "I think we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious." --Thomas Jefferson (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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"[House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi may have peaked on the day she assumed office, as an identity-politics champion. In four years she's helped drive her party into the ground and our country deeper and deeper into debt. Rather than draining the swamp, she's coddled corrupt pols. Her 'historic' achievement -- ramming through ObamaCare -- may turn to dust as states opt out of the individual mandate and a new Congress defunds and then sets out to repeal the measure. Come to think of it, that may be Obama's legacy as well" -- Commentary magazine's Jennifer Rubin, reacting to reports that Democrats are preparing for a future in which Nancy Pelosi is no longer House Speaker. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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John Vinocur writes: With Iran now estimated to be in possession of enough low-enriched uranium to produce, with further enrichment, two nuclear weapons, and administration officials saying manufacturing one would take the mullahs about a year, American policy is hard-pressed to be credible…If this is a new American Moment, the administration’s approach to Iran appears to be providing its friends with at least as much uncertainty as motivation and resolve. – New York Times (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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9 - 17 - 2010 - So, with mud on their faces, both sides of the aisle are trying to shred the personal credibility of the outsiders. They've blasted O'Donnell for not liking porn and blasted Paladino for liking it too much. They call O'Donnell a liar in a year when the Democratic Senate candidate from Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal, lied about serving in Vietnam, and Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters face serious ethics charges.

Make no mistake: Paladino's racist and lewd email forwards were disgusting and wrong. But his message is right: New York is financially broken. The porn we should worry about the most is the screwing we've gotten from Albany and Washington, something that Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo and other career politicians have no intention of fixing.

And although the outsiders aren't guaranteed victory, democracy has already won. Both Republicans and Democrats need to beware: The outsiders have broken into the institution of politics and cannot be ignored. After all, what's so crazy about restoring power to the people and a mandate to throw all of the big government bums out? In our current state of affairs, it sounds like the right kind of folly. - Andrea Tantaros NY Daily News opinion writier (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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"Democrats today are as pessimistic about their prospects of maintaining their majority in the House of Representatives as they were optimistic four years ago about gaining control of the House, according to the latest National Journal Political Insiders Poll. When asked to rate the odds that the Republicans would retake the House on a scale of zero (no chance) to 10 (virtual certainty) the 101 Democratic Insiders who participated in the poll this week gave an average score of 6.7. In September of 2006, when the same question was asked about the prospects for the Democrats toppling the GOP majority that existed four years ago, Democratic Insiders rated their chances of takeover at 6.6 on the same scale of zero-to-10" -- National Journal on the results of its latest poll of Washington political insiders.  (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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9 - 16 - 2010 - "We do have a commission on the deficit that is supposed to report by the end of this year. But keep in mind that the delay and uncertainty is very costly. This is not the Manhattan Project. Germany delivered a fiscal plan in weeks. The U.K. delivered a fiscal plan in weeks. There are three components of any feasible plan: spending (we need to spend less), taxation (we need to collect more) and distortions (we need a tax system that distorts fewer decisions). . . . Germany and the U.K. have voluntarily put their priority on fiscal sustainability. Many other countries, like Spain, Portugal and Greece, have done so involuntarily. The U.S. has opted for massive spending without a fiscal plan -- labeling sustainability a 'medium-term' problem. . . . Unfortunately there is no way to watch from the sidelines" -- Thomas F. Cooley, economics professor at NYU Stern School of Business and Forbes Magazine columnist. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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More needs to be done to put the numbers involved in extending the Bush tax cuts in context, so consider this: There is no policy that President Obama has passed or proposed that added as much to the deficit as the Republican Party's $3.9 trillion extension of the Bush tax cuts. In fact, if you put aside Obama's plan to extend most, but not all, of the Bush tax cuts, there is no policy he has passed or proposed that would do half as much damage to the deficit. There is not even a policy that would do a quarter as much damage to the deficit. - Ezra Klein (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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9 - 15 - 2010 - "I never felt so much like a hooker down by the bus station … as I did in a judicial race. Everyone interested in contributing has very specific interests. They mean to be buying a vote." - Paul Pfeifer, Ohio Supreme Court Justice (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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"The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse." --James Madison (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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“There’s just a lot of nutty things she’s been saying that just simply don’t add up,” Karl Rove, the Republican strategist, said in a television interview on Fox News. “I’m for the Republican, but I’ve got to tell you, we were looking at eight to nine seats in the Senate. We’re now looking at seven to eight. In my opinion, this is not a race we’re going to be able to win.” commenting on dissident Republican, Christine O’Donnell’s upset win over Representative Michael N. Castle in the race for the United States Senate nomination in Delaware. (Submitted by Steffen Schmidt)

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9 - 14 - 2010 - "The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse." -- James Madison (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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9 - 12 - 2010 - “You know, are there, you know, things that I might have done during the course of 18 months that would, you know, at the margins have improved some of the tone in Washington?” Obama asked. “Probably.“You know, are there, you know, things that I might have done during the course of 18 months that would, you know, at the margins have improved some of the tone in Washington?” Obama asked. “Probably.” Uncharacteristically valley girl, the usually eloquent president must have, you know, had a hard time acknowledging that.  - Maureen Dowd  (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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North Korea's closed borders, state-controlled media and authoritarian rule make divining its leaders' and citizens' thoughts largely a guessing game. North Koreans who traveled to Dandong last week for business declined to speak of conditions in their country. But Chinese traders and recent defectors from North Korea, who have spoken recently with residents, say the backdrop of the coming meetings appears to be hunger with an edge of martial restlessness. Some of these people say that as fall approaches, North Korea is in the midst of its worst food crisis since its late 1990s famine. – Wall Street Journal  (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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9 - 10 - 2010 - POLITICO's Jonathan Martin reports on the $50 billion plan: “The planes, trains and automobiles idea - which White House aides admitted wouldn't create jobs until 2011 - may win a fleeting headline, but with early voting starting later this month in some states Democrats' window for persuasion is closing. Increasingly, voters' minds are made up when it comes up to big-picture issues. That means Obama and the Democrats now must narrowcast their efforts by giving the faithful a reason to turn out … Obama offered an aside that spoke to his diminished state and captured the mood of a president and party under assault. 'They talk about me like a dog,' Obama said with a chuckle of his political opponents. 'That's not in my prepared remarks but it's true.'  (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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Iran is steadily stockpiling enriched uranium, even in the face of toughened international sanctions, according to a U.N. inspection report that raises new concerns about the ability to monitor parts of the Islamic nation's nuclear program that could be used to make a bomb.  – Washington Post (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Sunday said the international community should be prepared to confront Iran with tougher sanctions, and possibly military action, in an effort to prevent Tehran from obtaining nuclear weapons, - Wall Street Journal (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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Iran has launched a fresh crackdown on human rights activists by arresting an outspoken Iranian lawyer and charging a young activist with "waging war against God", a crime punishable by death in Iranian law. – Guardian (Submitted by MIchael Krull)

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9 - 9 - 2010 - “If the double dip does occur it could occur within the next 12 months” - Economist Nouriel Roubini (Roubini has forecast that there is a 40 percent chance that the U.S. economy would slip back into recession) (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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In an New York Times column ex-WH budget director Peter Orszag writes: “In the face of the dueling deficits, the best approach is a compromise: extend the tax cuts for two years and then end them altogether. Ideally only the middle-class tax cuts would be continued for now. Getting a deal in Congress, though, may require keeping the high-income tax cuts, too. And that would still be worth it. Why does this combination make sense? The answer is that over the medium term, the tax cuts are simply not affordable. Yet no one wants to make an already stagnating jobs market worse over the next year or two, which is exactly what would happen if the cuts expire as planned.” (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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9 - 8 - 2010 - "It does not take a majority to prevail ... but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men." --Samuel Adams (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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9 - 7 - 2010 - Tony Blair writes: Defeating the visible and terrifying manifestations of religious extremism is not enough. Indeed I would go further: This extremism won't be defeated simply by focusing on the extremists alone. It is the narrative that has to be assailed. It has to be avowed, acknowledged; then taken on, inside and outside Islam. It should not be respected. It should be confronted, disagreed with, argued against on grounds of politics, security and religion.  (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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"Too much and too long, we seem to have surrendered community excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our gross national product ... if we should judge America by that - counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage.

"It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them. It counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armored cars for police who fight riots in our streets. It counts Whitman's rifle and Speck's knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.

"Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it tells us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans." ---Robert Kennedy 42 years ago on Labor Day (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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9 - 6 - 2010 - Twenty-five per cent of all Medicare spending is for the five per cent of patients who are in their final year of life, and most of that money goes for care in their last couple of months which is of little apparent benefit....

Like many people, I had believed that hospice care hastens death, because patients forgo hospital treatments and are allowed high-dose narcotics to combat pain. But studies suggest otherwise. In one, researchers followed 4,493 Medicare patients with either terminal cancer or congestive heart failure. They found no difference in survival time between hospice and non-hospice patients with breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer. Curiously, hospice care seemed to extend survival for some patients; those with pancreatic cancer gained an average of three weeks, those with lung cancer gained six weeks, and those with congestive heart failure gained three months. The lesson seems almost Zen: you live longer only when you stop trying to live longer. - Letting Go by Atul Gawande (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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WSJ's Matthew Rosenberg and Maria Abi-Habib report: “A top shareholder in Afghanistan's largest bank called on the U.S. to shore up the lender after depositors withdrew about a third of its cash reserves in two days … Mahmood Karzai, brother of Afghanistan's president and the third-largest shareholder in Kabul Bank, urged the U.S. to calm the situation, saying the lender could keep up with the pace of withdrawals for only a few more days. … The U.S. said it has no plans to prop up Kabul Bank and has only sent in a small team of experts to help the Afghan central bank sort out the mess.”  (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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9 - 5 - 2010 - The Obama administration moved to fast-track the Middle East peace process, gaining Arab and Israeli support for twice-monthly negotiations aimed at establishing an independent Palestinian state within a year. – Wall Street Journal (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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It was announced today that Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein -- Iraq War supporter, champion of Bush appointees Michael Hayden and Michael Mukasey, Surveillance State cheerleader, and beneficiary of her husband's vast, defense contracting wealth -- will take the lead in working to defeat Prop 19 and thus keep marijuana criminalized, in turn keeping Mexican cartels empowered and adult American citizens prosecuted for using this substance which is far less harmful and dangerous than alcohol, if it is even "harmful" or "dangerous" at all. - Glenn Greenwald (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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Robert Reich's Blog: "The number of Americans willing and able to work but who cannot find a job hasn't stopped growing since the start of 2008. All told, about 22 million Americans are now jobless. Add in those who are working part-time who'd rather be working full time, and we're up to 25 million … It is not that America is out of ideas. We know what to do…The problem is lack of political will to do it." (Submitted by Steffen Schmidt)

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9 - 4 - 2010 - Consider these data (the most recent available), which explain the fear in the middle class:

Median family income:

2000: $63,430

2008: $61,521

Percentage of population in work force:

2000: 67.1

2010: 65.3

Unemployment rate:

2000: 4.0

2010: 9.6

Percentage of population in poverty:

2000: 12.4

2008: 13.2

U.S.-global trade deficit:

2000 (first six months): $180 billion

2010 (first six months): $247 billion

Trade deficit with China:

2000 (first six months): $44 billion

2010 (first six months): $119 billion

Percentage of wealth controlled by top 1 percent:

2001: 39.7

2007: 42.7

Elliot Spitzer does the numbers (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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New York Times’ Kirk Johnson: “The college vote is up for grabs this year - to an extent that would have seemed unlikely two years ago, when a generation of young people seemed to swoon over Barack Obama. “Though many students are liberals on social issues, the economic reality of a weak job market has taken a toll on their loyalties: far fewer 18- to 29-year-olds now identify themselves as Democrats compared with 2008. “Is the recession, which is hitting young people very hard, doing lasting or permanent damage to what looked like a good Democratic advantage with this age group?” asked Scott Keeter, the director of survey research at the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan group. “The jury is still out.” (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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9 - 3 - 2010 - "Christina Romer, chairman of President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, was giving what was billed as her 'valedictory' before she returns to teach at Berkeley, and she used the swan song to establish four points, each more unnerving than the last: She had no idea how bad the economic collapse would be. She still doesn't understand exactly why it was so bad. The response to the collapse was inadequate. And she doesn't have much of an idea about how to fix things. What she did have was a binder full of scary descriptions and warnings, offered with a perma-smile and singsong delivery . . . ." -- staff writer Dana Milbank, writing in the Washington Post. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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Hussein Agha and Robert Malley write: Abbas will return to a fractured, fractious society. If he reaches a deal, many will ask in whose name he was bartering away Palestinian rights. If negotiations fail, most will accuse him of once more having been duped. If Netanyahu comes back with an accord, he will be hailed as a historic leader. His constituency will largely fall in line; the left will have no choice but to salute. If the talks collapse, his followers will thank him for standing firm, while his critics are likely in due course to blame the Palestinians. Abbas will be damned if he does and damned if he doesn't. Netanyahu will thrive if he does and survive if he doesn't. One loses even if he wins; the other wins even if he loses. There is no greater asymmetry than that. – Washington Post (Submitted by MIchael Krull)

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9 - 2 - 2010 - Beset by mounting casualties on the battlefield and deepening disquiet at home over America's longest war, President Obama's Afghan policy now faces another big headache: the unraveling of central authority in Kyrgyzstan, a Central Asian nation that hosts an American air base critical to the battle against the Taliban. – Washington Post (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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9 - 1 - 2010 - The withdrawing troops leave behind a country with only a tenuous hold on stability: Nearly six months after the national parliamentary election, no new government has formed, violence is on the rise and Iraq's security forces are being targeted. Despite assurances that the United States is not abandoning Iraq, people here are scrambling to prepare themselves.  – Washington Post (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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...in his speech, President Obama let President Bush off the hook... “From this desk, seven and a half years ago, President Bush announced the beginning of military operations in Iraq,” Obama said. “Much has changed since that night. A war to disarm a state became a fight against an insurgency.” 

Oh. Was that all? But what did that “war against an insurgency” result in? A country in chaos without a government. (No, I am not talking about the United States; I am talking about Iraq.)

There used to be spoils to war. Territory won, reparations received. We don’t go to war for those things any more. But what did we win in Iraq? What did the enemy lose? Go down any Main Street in America and find me 10 people who can answer that. Find me one.

In the end, we got shattered bodies, shattered minds, and ended lives. - Roger Simon (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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8 - 31 - 2010 - In the 40 years that I've been in this business, I have to say I've never seen anyone quite like you. You're not a newsman. You're not a preacher. You're not a politician. -Fox News Host Chris Wallace to Glenn Beck (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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Financial Times' Ed Luce sums it up: “On Tuesday night Barack Obama will give a rare prime-time address from the Oval Office on the end of the US combat mission in Iraq. But if polls are to be believed … the president would get as much attention if he delivered a lecture on the merits of stamp-collecting. With just nine weeks to go before the US midterm elections, the economy is monopolising the minds of voters. … According to Gallup earlier this month, only 4 per cent of voters rate 'wars in general,' which include Iraq, Afghanistan and terrorism, as their most important concern. The economy, jobs and the deficit were cited by almost two-thirds of those polled.”  (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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8 - 30 - 2010 - Robert J. Samuelson opines in the Washington Post: “Why is the recovery faltering? There are many explanations … But consumers, representing 70 percent of the economy's $14.5 trillion of spending, are the crux of the matter.”  (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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What country has the highest exports in the world today? It’s the country with the highest wage rates and union restrictions. Germany has become more of a power, not less of a power as the world has become more global. Our problem isn’t competing with China, it’s competing with Germany in China. We’re so focused on China all the time, and low-wage assembly stuff, that we’re missing what’s going on. It’s Germany that’s going in and selling stuff in China that we ought to be selling that would hold down the trade gap between the U.S. and China. It’s not China’s fault; it’s Germany’s. But no one wants to talk about that. Because that would raise questions about the whole U.S. model: Why is this high-wage country beating us? Why are the European socialists beating us? It’s too subversive an idea so we don’t allow in the discourse.- Thomas Geoghegan, a labor lawyer in Chicago  (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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Bloomberg's Liz Capo McCormick and Susanne Walker reports: “The bond market is giving … Obama the green light to spend more money to boost the faltering economy. While the government has increased the amount of marketable Treasuries by 70 percent to $8.18 trillion the past two years, rising demand has driven yields so low that interest to service the debt has fallen 17 percent so far in fiscal 2010 ending Sept. 30 from all of 2008. … Obama has the bond market on his side as he heads into midterm congressional elections saddled with a 44 percent approval rating as measured by the latest Gallup poll.”  (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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8 - 29 - 2010 - Glenn Beck is the anti-King.

(I find it curious that many of the same people who object so strenuously to the Islamic cultural center proposed for Lower Manhattan, many on the grounds that it is inappropriate and disrespectful, are virtually silent on the impropriety and disrespect inherent in Beck’s giving a speech on the anniversary of King’s address.)

But Beck seems bent on appropriating the civil rights movement...

Beck wants to swaddle his movement in the cloth of the civil rights movement, a cloth soaked in the blood and tears of the innocent and oppressed, a cloth his divisiveness and self-aggrandizing threatens to defile....

And yet, I’ve come to the conclusion that anger is the wrong reaction to Beck’s rally in Washington. Anger provides too low a return on investment. It consumes a tremendous amount of energy, but yields little progress. Instead, we should each take this opportunity to listen to the “I Have a Dream” speech once more, paying particular attention to how the echoes of yesterday’s struggles reverberate in our present struggles, and to recommit ourselves to the nobility of righteous pursuits.

We should use Glenn’s nightmare to reconnect with Martin’s dream. - Charles M. Blow (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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FT's Jean Eaglesham and Brooke Masters report: The [SEC] has vowed to bring more high-profile enforcement actions against Wall Street over the financial crisis, following last month's $550m settlement with Goldman Sachs. US regulators told the Financial Times the SEC's contentious civil fraud case against the bank over the sale of mortgage-backed securities was an example of the type of high-profile action its revamped enforcement division was working on. 'Deterrence works in the white-collar world. Financial institutions look at cases like Goldman and review their own practices and risk-tolerance and think about how risky behaviour affects their brand,' said Robert Khuzami, SEC director of enforcement.”  (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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8 - 28 - 2010 - Douglas E. Schoen in the WSJ, “Time for Obama to pull a Clinton”: “As campaign season heats up-for the midterms, of course, as well as for 2012-President Obama is pursuing a strategy that is bound to fail. To secure his political future, he needs to change his approach in the way that Bill Clinton did halfway through his first term. I first met with Mr. Clinton privately in early 1995, after the Republicans gained control of Congress for the first time since 1954. I warned him that he could not be re-elected in 1996 unless he turned around his administration's reputation: from one of big-spending liberalism (represented by his attempt to massively overhaul the health-care system) to one of fiscal discipline and economic growth. Mr. Clinton did just that, and now Mr. Obama must do the same-and quickly. Yet the White House seems to believe its approach should be to blame George W. Bush for everything. Polls suggest that this approach is likely to have only the most limited success.”  (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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In a sign of his growing frustration with U.S. policy, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Thursday that President Obama's timeline for withdrawing troops was aiding insurgents and also suggested that the United States must do more to force Pakistan to stop supporting the Taliban. – Washington Post  (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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8 - 27 - 2010 - POLITICO's Jim VandeHei, Alex Isenstadt and Mike Allen report: “Top Democrats are growing markedly more pessimistic about holding the House, privately conceding that the summertime economic and political recovery they were banking on will not likely materialize by Election Day. In conversations with more than two dozen party insiders … Democrats in and out of Washington say they are increasingly alarmed about the economic and polling data they have seen in recent weeks. They no longer believe the jobs and housing markets will recover … They are even more concerned by indications that House Democrats once considered safe - such as Rep. Betty Sutton … are in real trouble. … Not all Democrats - or Republicans, for that matter - share this pessimistic assessment 68 days before the election. Republicans need to pick up 39 seats, and polls show most voters still have a downbeat view of the GOP's ability to govern any better than Democrats. Republicans have been out-raised and out-spent at the national level and in many of the key races.” (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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Remember the moment: a woman with matted hair and a shaky voice rose to express her doubts about Barack Obama. “I have read about him,” she said, “and he’s not — he’s an Arab.”

McCain was quick to knock down the lie. “No, ma’am,” he said, “he’s a decent family man, a citizen.”

That ill-informed woman — her head stuffed with fabrications that could be disproved by a pre-schooler — now makes up a representative third or more of the Republican party. It’s not just that 46 percent of Republicans believe the lie that Obama is a Muslim, or that 27 percent in the party doubt that the president of the United States is a citizen. But fully half of them believe falsely that the big bailout of banks and insurance companies under TARP was enacted by Obama, and not by President Bush. - Timothy Egan NY Times  (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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8 - 26 - 2010 - Now part of this conviction is rooted in my own experience. I’m a Christian, but my father came from a Kenyan family that includes generations of Muslims. As a boy, I spent several years in Indonesia and heard the call of the azaan at the break of dawn and at the fall of dusk. As a young man, I worked in Chicago communities where many found dignity and peace in their Muslim faith. - Obama (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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"Obama has been the most activist domestic president in decades, yet the philosophy behind his legislative achievements remains muddy in the eyes of many supporters and skeptics alike. There is not yet such a thing as 'Obamism.' The ability to transcend ideological divides and unite disparate parts of the electorate was a signal strength of his candidacy in 2008. But that has given way to widespread -- if often contradictory -- complaints about his agenda (too radical or too cautious?) and the political tactics (too partisan or too conflict-averse?) he uses to pursue it. At first blush, it is a mystery: How could a political leader preside over nearly a trillion dollars in stimulus and other spending, and pass overhauls of the health care and financial services sectors, but still leave many of his own supporters uncertain of his larger aims?" -- John Harris and James Hohmann writing at Politico.com. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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8 - 25 - 2010 - Washington Post lead story, “CIA sees increased threat in Yemen: AL-QAEDA AFFILIATE 'ON THE UPSWING,'” by Greg Miller and Peter Finn: “For the first time since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, CIA analysts see one of al-Qaeda's offshoots - rather than the core group now based in Pakistan - as the most urgent threat to U.S. security … The sober new assessment of al-Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen has helped prompt senior Obama administration officials to call for an escalation of U.S. operations there - including a proposal to add armed CIA drones to a clandestine campaign of U.S. military strikes … It took the group just a few months to … [get] an alleged suicide bomber aboard a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day.”  (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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U.S. officials believe al Qaeda in Yemen is now collaborating more closely with allies in Pakistan and Somalia to plot attacks against the U.S., spurring the prospect that the administration will mount a more intense targeted killing program in Yemen. – Wall Street Journal (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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8 - 24 - 2010 - New York Times' Andrew Ross Sorkin reports: “August is shaping up to be the busiest month for M.&A. in recent memory. On Monday, we drew near the threshold of $200 billion worth of deals worldwide for the year … Yet a chorus of senior deal makers, who ordinarily would be eager cheerleaders for a mergers revival, are saying: Not so fast. If you ask them, they will suggest that all the recent merger hoopla may be a positive sign, but it is overdone. 'I'm as befuddled as anyone,' said Mark G. Shafir, head of global mergers and acquisitions at Citigroup. 'This is a blow-away August. Yet I can't call it a trend.' … With unemployment hovering near 10 percent, the latest wave of deals is unlikely to bolster the job market any time soon. Indeed, expect quite the opposite: Some of these deals are being driven by 'savings,' an overused euphemism for layoffs.” (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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 “It’s not that I was above changing my positions, but McCain has made it an art form...He was a maverick, but I guess he’s not anymore. One thing he is is vulnerable. He can’t change that.” Former Senator DeConcini, 73, who represented Arizona for  21 years in the US Senate. (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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8 - 23 - 2010 - The prime movers in the campaign against the “ground zero mosque” just happen to be among the last cheerleaders for America’s nine-year war in Afghanistan. The wrecking ball they’re wielding is not merely pounding Park51, as the project is known, but is demolishing America’s already frail support for that war, which is dedicated to nation-building in a nation whose most conspicuous asset besides opium is actual mosques.

So virulent is the Islamophobic hysteria of the neocon and Fox News right — abetted by the useful idiocy of the Anti-Defamation League, Harry Reid and other cowed Democrats — that it has also rendered Gen. David Petraeus’s last-ditch counterinsurgency strategy for fighting the war inoperative. How do you win Muslim hearts and minds in Kandahar when you are calling Muslims every filthy name in the book in New York?- Frank Rich (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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The head of the U.S. military Pacific Command said Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea was causing concern in the region, and said the United States would work to ensure security and protect important trade routes. - Reuters (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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“What's worse, John  B. Judis [New Republic writer] says, Obama does not seem to realize that "populism has been an indelible part of the American political psyche, and those who are uncomfortable making populist appeals . . . suffer the consequences at the polls." David Broder, Washington Post. (Submitted by Steffen Schmidt)

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8 - 21 - 2010 - The Hill's Silla Brush, who says the battle to “overhaul the $11 trillion mortgage-finance system … could make the fight over Wall Street reform look tame.” More: “The administration aims to submit its proposal for rewriting housing policy to Congress early next year. But at a summit of bankers, housing experts and others this week, senior administration officials offered a preview of their position: The government should continue to back parts of the mortgage market but play a much more limited role than now or before the financial crisis. … While the administration and [Rep. Barney] Frank appear to be moving away from either a full nationalization or privatization of the housing finance system, any government guarantee will face stinging criticisms from Republicans.”  (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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"We don't want to turn an act of hate against us by extremists into an act of intolerance for people of religious faith." - Ted Olson, a longtime Republican attorney whose wife died on 9/11. (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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“But they [New York Russians] have not escaped the ethnic encounters often associated with urban migrations, including grumbling by natives that the newcomers are taking over. This has surfaced most vividly as a  result of a Russian-run community and day care center’s plan for a new 10,000-square-foot building that it promises would be for all Staten Islanders.  It  will become  another “Russian thing,” one skeptic, Joanne Bennetti, a 60-ish retired beautician, said at a meeting of the South Beach Civic Association. “You don’t know what it’s like to feel like a foreigner in your own neighborhood.” New York Times article. (Submitted by Steffen Schmidt)

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8 - 20 - 2010 - "There is too much at stake,Constitutional rights, the development of the Muslims here, how the world is watching the United States. We tell people America upholds religious freedom. We should not compromise those values....We are debating about having a healing dialogue, building bridges and this whole thing has turned into the opposite of what we have envisioned." - Daisy Khan, along with her husband Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, is one of the co-founders of Cordoba House, which has proposed to build a mosque more than two blocks from Ground Zero (Submitted by Arnie Arnesen)

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Washington Post's Zachary A. Goldfarb report: “For the all the changes to the regulatory fabric contained in the landmark Dodd-Frank law, none might be more significant to the financial sector's health than Section 956(a). That largely overlooked provision of the law gives federal agencies expanded powers to write regulations dictating pay at financial firms. How they choose to use these powers could have a major impact on whether banks pursue excessive risks. … Shortly before the law's passage, regulators issued guidance on bank pay. They can now decide whether to continue with that guidance, which outlines broad principles about how firms should pay their executives, or write specific rules dictating pay schemes. In either case, they will also have to decide how much compensation packages need to change to discourage bankers from taking excessive risks.” (Submitted by MIchael Krull)

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“The New York Cordoba House gang should have guessed that without proper preparation of the ground, springing a Mosque 2 blocks from Ground Zero was going to be a shock to most Americans. These folks are naïve beyond all imagination. If you are going to provide a security escort service for women coming home late at night from work you don’t suddenly jump out of an alley and say ‘I’m HERE TO ESCORT YOU HOME!” and then yell “NO FAIR!” if you get pepper sprayed.” Anonymous, overheard at the Sea-Tac Airport. 2010 (Submitted by Steffen Schmidt)

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8 - 19 - 2010 - "President Obama has achieved some significant successes so far in his presidency. But when it comes to reducing the influence of lobbyists, Obama has utterly failed to reach his own goals -- or perhaps he was only pretending to try . . . Why has K Street boomed under Obama? Because whenever government gets bigger, it makes lobbyists that much more valuable. That's bad for those who really want to constrain lobbyists. It's good for the lobbyists, and whoever can afford them" -- Columnist Tim Carney in the Washington Examiner. (Submitted by Michael Krull)

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Today, former Reagan Solicitor General Ted Olson -- whose wife, Barbara Olson, was killed on 9/11 -- said he saw no reason for Park51 to move.  And Peter Beinart, expediting his ongoing transformation from TNR Seriousness Guardian into shrill liberal blogger, today called on Democrats to -- as he put it -- "Grow a Pair

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