Archive for December 22nd, 2011|Daily archive page

Could We Get One All-Surrogate Debate?

NationalReview

So in the past 24 hours, we’ve seen New Jersey governor Chris Christie give a feisty, combative defense of Mitt Romney, tweaking Mika Brzezsinki for defining “compromise” as “giving Obama want he wants . . .”

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32545640

We have seen Louisiana’s Gov. Bobby Jindal correct Rick Perry about a detail in his tax plan, and offer a more compelling argument in defense of that plan . . .

While answering a question during a town hall meeting in Maquoketa, Iowa, Perry forgot about the about the standard deduction he built into his own flat tax plan, saying it would be gone.

Jindal quickly chimed in to correct him. “You actually keep the standard deduction in your flat tax,” said the popular Bayou State Republican. 

“Oh that’s right, as a matter of fact we raise it to $12,500, uh, per family I think,” Perry replied. “Thank you for correcting me on that governor . . . not that I ever make a mistake.”

. . . and today J. C. Watts will be endorsing Newt Gingrich. Somehow it’s easy to envision Watts, part of the Republican Revolution of 1994,  making a compelling argument for his preferred candidate, without Newt’s reflexive grandiosity and comparison of himself to Reagan and Thatcher.

2012: The cycle the surrogates made better arguments for the candidates than the candidates themselves!

Pot, Kettle. Kettle, Pot.

Hugo Chavez: Obama’s a ‘clown’ president

Return of the Episodic Apologists

AmericanSpectator

WASHINGTON — They are back! I speak of the Episodic Apologists who have been a phenomenon of the Clinton Saga since its earliest days back when the Clintons were flipping real estate and exchanging bad checks in Arkansas. The Episodic Apologists, like the legendary Court Historians of Franklin Roosevelt’s time, are an essential ingredient of the era in which they labor. The Court Historians gave us Roosevelt’s “One Hundred Days,” “He Saved Us From Communism,” and other legends of the 1930s — forget not, “He Ended the Great Depression.”

The Episodic Apologists are admittedly somewhat different. Drawn from the ranks of journalists, historians, and politicians, they have contributed more actively to the soap opera of the Clinton Saga than mere historians, for they are active participants in the drama. After every disappointment that the Clintons perpetrate these saps go into an emotional tailspin: with all their trembling alases, forsooths, and oh-woe-is-me’s. The Clintons were reputedly prodigies of public service; before he got caught with the fat intern, or the Independent Counsel fingered Hillary lying to the grand jury or scores of other scandals: Travelgate, Filegate, Bill’s impeachment, the plundering of the White House, the presidential pardons. Then there was his performance in the 2008 election.

After every major Clintonian scandal the Episodic Apologists go through their sorry act. The boobs are crestfallen. They denounce the Clintons in the firmest possible terms — terms not easily erased from the public record. I have them all on file. Then slowly, steadily, hope springs anew. Bill is “President of the World,” according to MSNBC. Or Hillary’s 2010 was a “good year” claims the Washington Post. Now along comes someone named Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post to note that all three Clintons have had their “Best year” in 2011 — “Mental note: Stop counting out the Clintons,” he writes.

Cillizza brings in the hapless Chelsea who has just signed a contract with NBC and been widely panned on her first interview. He praises a “fully rehabilitated” Bill Clinton for his new book, Back to Work: Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy, a repudiation of much of what Bill did right in policy terms during his presidency when the Boy President said “the era of Big Government is over.” Yet he saves his most sanctimonious adulation for Hillary who never lied to anyone, never obstructed justice, and now in 2011 “managed to stay gold” — yes, gold, not golden. Actually, in foreign policy the problems are multiplying as she flies around the world — “some 60 trips abroad and nearly 600,000 miles” — in her ineffectual bustling way. This secretary of state is no Dean Acheson or John Foster Dulles or Henry Kissinger. She might not even by a Cyrus Vance. She is a frequent flier without a clue.

This week a day after our last combat troops withdrew from Iraq the fragile coalition there is falling apart as the Shiite-dominated government orders the arrest of its Sunni vice president. North Korea’s tyrannical Kim Jong Il assumes room temperature, making way for his 28-year-old son, and as John Bolton says, “in defiance of all logic and history,” the Obama administration continues to negotiate “food aide for more empty promises to denuclearize.” Secretary of State Clinton has blundered in Egypt and Libya and, having prevailed on Morocco to liberalize, gives the King there no credit while awaiting the Muslim Brotherhood to warm up to us. The Arab spring has come and gone and winter is upon us with fewer friends in the area than before.

Hillary famously tried to “reset” policy with Russia and now has Vladimir Putin crudely badgering her for supposedly sending “a signal” to marshal his enemies. Moscow has grown increasingly authoritarian, committed aggression against the pro-American state of Georgia, supported our enemies such as Venezuela and Syria and in response Washington has pulled the plug on American allies Poland and the Czech Republic for supporting an American missile defense on their soil.

Then there is Iran. It is fast approaching the status of a nuclear power. It is as intransigent as ever. It is aiding terrorists intent on killing Americans. And Secretary of State Clinton steadfastly insists “we want to see the Iranians engage…. We are not giving up.”

These Episodic Apologists were part of the Clintons’ supporting cast in the 1990s and they were inadvertently a lot of fun. Now when they encourage Secretary of State Hillary’s ineptitude in time of war, they are not so amusing.

Yale Coach Resigns After Rhodes Scholarship Claim

NYTimes

For a couple of weeks in November, the story captivated even the casual college football follower, perhaps because it did not concern allegations of child sexual abuse or recruiting violations.

Yale’s senior quarterback, Patrick Witt, the most productive passer in the program’s history, was wrestling with a decision that generated national attention and debate. Should he play in the Harvard-Yale game one more, final time, or should he attend an interview in Atlanta as a finalist for a Rhodes scholarship? Because of the schedule of the events, he could not do both.

The quarterback’s situation had an unlikely twist. His coach, Tom Williams, said he had faced almost identical circumstances in 1992 when he was a linebacker at Stanford. Williams said he had chosen to pursue a career in professional football at the expense of a possible Rhodes scholarship — and never regretted the decision. Witt leaned on his coach for advice, and eventually decided to play in the game. Yale was crushed, 45-7.

As it turned out, the shellacking of the Bulldogs by their rival in the Yale Bowl on Nov. 19 was far from the worst of it. The appealing back story — Williams’s providing counsel to his talented quarterback based on his own experience — turned out to be founded on a lie.

The coach had never been in Witt’s position. He had never been a Rhodes scholar candidate or applicant, let alone a finalist, as he had let the world believe. He had told Yale he was a candidate with an entry on his résumé. His biography on the Yale Web site said the same thing.

On Wednesday, a day before his 42nd birthday, Williams paid with his job. Yale, which had undertaken an internal review to investigate Williams’s Rhodes scholarship assertion after an article in The New York Times raised doubts about its legitimacy, announced that the coach had resigned.

In a news release from the university, Williams said he had been encouraged to apply for a Rhodes scholarship while at Stanford, but never did so: “I considered the opportunity, sought advice, and was encouraged to apply by faculty members and my coach, Bill Walsh. But I did not apply.”

Yale Coach Tom Williams during a game on Nov. 19.Bob Child/Associated PressTom Williams coaching Yale on Nov. 19.

Williams’s story began to unravel shortly after Witt announced he would forgo the Rhodes interview to play in what is widely known as the Game. A Rhodes Scholarship Trust official, Elliot Gerson, its American secretary, told The Times he had never heard of a candidate bypassing the final interview to play in an athletic event. Gerson has been overseeing the scholarships for more than three decades.

The Times then asked the Rhodes trust to check on Williams’s claim. After a thorough investigation, the trust reported that no one named Williams had even applied for a scholarship in 1991, 1992 or 1993. Asked about the trust’s findings later that day, Williams said: “I wasn’t trying to confuse anyone or make it sound different than it was. I was in the preliminary stages at Stanford and I had to decide, but the interview wasn’t official.”

The next day, Yale announced that it would investigate Williams’s claim and would not comment until its findings were completed. But before Wednesday’s announcement, Yale defensive lineman Reed Spiller said he could not envision a situation in which Williams, completing his third year as coach, would leave of his own volition.

“He’s not going to leave here voluntarily under any means — from the very beginning he’s said how excited he was to be getting this job,” said Spiller, a senior from Portsmouth, N.H. “There’s no chance he’d leave on his own.

“But that being said, I think there are a whole lot of people at this school that are overplaying the article about his Rhodes scholarship candidacy. I think that’s a moot point, really. I think that doesn’t really have anything to do with what kind of football coach he is. He’s a great guy and a great football coach, and he’s the right person for the job at this school.”

Williams, it turns out, also misrepresented his pro football credentials as part of his official Yale biography.

He had asserted that he signed with the San Francisco 49ers as a free agent in 1993 and spent 1993 on the team’s roster as a linebacker. Both claims proved to be untrue. There is no mention of him in the team’s media guide under “all-time roster,” and when contacted by The Times about Williams’s claim that he had signed with the team as a free agent, a spokesman said the team’s accounting office had no record of ever issuing a W-2 form to Williams.

Williams, Yale’s first African-American head football coach and the Ivy League’s second, took over the program in 2009. It was his first head coaching assignment. In three seasons his record was 16-14, including three losses to Harvard.

In his first meeting with Harvard, in 2009, Yale was holding a 10-7 lead with two and a half minutes to play when he ordered a fake punt on fourth-and-22 from the Yale 25-yard line. The call mystified almost everyone. Harvard stopped the fake, took over in Yale territory and went on to score with 92 seconds left to post a 14-10 victory.

The story line for this year’s game centered on Witt’s choices: the interview or the Game. Rhodes officials took plenty of heat for not rescheduling the interview, even though the date is known well in advance and applicants are informed it is set in stone. Witt knew it.

His situation was well chronicled in the local and national news media. There was talk of perhaps chartering a plane. But with a noon start to the game and a morning interview in Atlanta — with the possibility of a second in the afternoon — there was no wiggle room. At the time, Williams said of Witt: “I know it’s hard. It’s difficult to be put in that situation.” Williams added, “I know he’ll the make the right decision.”

Witt’s story gained attention just as the child sexual abuse scandal fully engulfed Penn State. Jerry Sandusky, a longtime top assistant to Joe Paterno, had been charged with molesting young boys over many years. Paterno, who had failed to act aggressively when alerted years ago that Sandusky had been seen assaulting a child on Penn State property, was soon fired.

The Penn State scandal, at the time, was only the latest and worst in a series of embarrassments for college football programs. The University of Miami was placed under investigation this fall after it was reported that a convicted swindler had deeply infiltrated the football team, with cash and favors. Ohio State Coach Jim Tressel lost his job, in part for failing to report and later lying about a scandal involving his players.

Before arriving in New Haven, Williams had coached linebackers for two years for the Jacksonville Jaguars in the N.F.L. Before joining the pro ranks, he had been an assistant at San Jose State, Stanford, Hawaii and Washington.

Williams’s resignation is effective Dec. 31. Yale’s athletic director, Thomas Beckett, said the university would begin a search for his successor.

‘Waa, No Pizza Night': Sad Stories Roll In at Request of Obama White House

CNSNews


The White House says it’s been flooded with responses to the question it posed Wednesday: “What does $40 mean to you?”

One day after the White House asked “working” people to “tell us what your family will give up if your (payroll) taxes increase,” the stories are rolling in, including one from a person who worried about not having enough to pay the cable bill — or continue family pizza nights.

“Our cable internet bill is $49 per month. If we lose this payroll tax cut then we will have to give up either (our) internet access or possibly our ‘Friday Family Pizza’ night. Either way, we will lose something that brings us together as a family,” wrote “K.Z” from Frederick, Maryland.

Another person wrote that $40 will “buy lunch from the cafeteria for almost a whole month for my twins.”

Someone else who “can barely get by now” said taking $40 out of his paycheck “would just about put me under.”

A person from New Mexico said “$40 less a paycheck means I will have to pick between my insulin and the water bill. It means never being able to see my doctor — even though I have insurance.”

Many of the responders said they need the money to pay for medicine, medical bills, a tank of gas, or groceries.

The White House said it received over 18,000 submissions through a form on Whitehouse.gov, averaging over 1,000 an hour and coming in from every state in the nation. It also is accepting Twitter submissions.

An extension of the payroll tax cut will save a “typical” family earning $50,000 around $40 a paycheck, the White House says. It also will reduce the only dedicated funding source for Social Security benefits, but only a few people in Washington are talking about that.

‘Raid on Social Security’

President Obama and his fellow Democrats are blaming House Republicans for the current stalemate over extending the payroll tax cut. The House bill calls for a year-long extension; but the Senate passed a bill extending it for two months. Unless the two bills are reconciled by the end of the year, the payroll tax will go up.

Some conservative Republicans say the payroll tax cut extension is a bad idea, period, because it siphons money from the Social Security Trust Fund.

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) is among the conservatives who voted against extending the payroll tax cut. “While I support comprehensive tax reform, I do not support the flawed legislation presently before us,” Wolf said on Dec. 13.

“The issue today, as defined by both political parties and the president, is whether or not a temporary – and costly – one-year payroll tax “holiday” should expire at the end of the month. The real issue is whether it is responsible for Washington to further shortchange the Social Security Trust Fund at a time when it is already on an unsustainable path.”

Wolf called the payroll tax extension a “raid on Social Security, which is already going broke,” and he noted that the money paid into the system now — through payroll taxes — pays benefits for existing retirees.

“Granting another tax holiday is unwise. It puts the existing benefits of those 55 million Americans who currently receive Social Security at risk to continue a failed ‘stimulus’ policy,” Wolf said.

Killing the Internet to save Hollywood

NYPost

All Hollywood wants for Christmas this year is to see Congress pass the Stop Online Piracy Act — and the industry’s thrown Santa-sacks of cash at lawmakers in hopes of making the copyright scofflaws on their “naughty list” disappear.

But the law, which would empower the US government to start censoring foreign Web sites, would be a lump of coal in every Internet user’s stocking.

The goal of SOPA (and its Senate counterpart, the PROTECT-IP Act) is legitimate enough: To fight copyright violators and counterfeiters who run sites beyond the reach of US courts. The trouble is the method. These bills empower the attorney general to seek orders compelling thousands of Internet service providers to block purported “rogue sites,” forcing search engines to redact their results and requiring ad networks and payment processors to sever ties.

SOPA’s supporters have made a New Years resolution to continue ramming these bills through as early as January, ignoring calls to pause to hear from experts about the bill’s unintended consequences.

As Uncle Sam’s own cybersecurity experts at Sandia National Labs have noted, the measure is “unlikely to be effective.” Anyone with a tiny bit of technical know-how can easily bypass the proposed blocks in any number of simple ways.

For the computer illiterate, there are several one-click circumvention tools already in circulation. As we’ve seen again and again over the last decade, shutting down pirate sites and services ultimately does little to hinder piracy.

But SOPA wouldn’t just be costly and futile: It would deter innovation, interfere with legal speech protected by the First Amendment and (as the geeks at Sandia put it) “negatively impact US and global cybersecurity and Internet functionality.”

Under SOPA, any foreign site that allowed users to upload — or even just link to — content would have to fear being wrongly branded a “rogue site,” effectively shut down and cut off from revenue until it could prove its innocence in a US court. That’s the kind of risk that sends investors running — and why tech entrepreneurs are among the voices loudly opposed to SOPA.

More than 100 eminent constitutional scholars have joined that chorus. They point out that blocking entire Web domain names after a one-sided hearing will inevitably shut down discussion forums where protected speech coexists with links to infringing content, and block Americans’ access to their own legal files along with pirated material — as we’ve already seen happen under existing authorities. Such sweeping “prior restraint” flies in the face of our First Amendment traditions.

Perhaps even more troubling, SOPA would lead to the creation of a sophisticated legal and technological architecture for censorship — a single Internet blacklist implemented across the entire country. Once that machinery is in place, it would be easy, and all too tempting, for future administrations to turn that blacklist to other purposes. Citizens would have to trust the government to only block truly criminal sites — or join the pirates in evading the blocks to judge for themselves.

Network engineers hate SOPA too: A who’s-who of the proud geeks who built the modern Internet has warned that domain blocking — and users’ inevitable efforts to evade it — would have unpredictable and disruptive consequences for the network’s architecture. Stewart Baker, a former top official with the Department of Homeland Security, has pointed to language in the bill that he fears will “kill” an expensive and ongoing effort to make the Internet more secure.

The same “anticircumvention” clause, though a joke to pirates, could threaten programmers who build the vital tools our own State Department has promoted and funded for dissidents seeking to escape the more aggressive online censorship of regimes like China and Iran — regimes that will surely be delighted to point out that the United States, too, now blocks foreign sites it considers “harmful.”

These are high costs to pay for a law that would, at best, amount to an impotent symbolic gesture against piracy. Lawmakers should be wary of meddling with technology they admit they don’t understand, and instead focus on measures aimed at shutting off the flow of money to criminals, without starting down the dark road of Internet blacklists and government firewalls.

SEIU Job Description: Train & Lead Members to Occupy State Buildings & Takeover Banks

RedState

If there was ever any question whether the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is a radical and militantly Marxist union, this SEIU job description for a Senior/Lead Internal Organizer, Home Care, posted on the SEIU’s website should remove all doubts.

The SEIU is advertising on its main site for SEIU Healthcare 775NW in Washington State. Among the job duties (screenshot below the fold) listed includes the training of members in civil-disobedience, peaceful resistance (how to get arrested), as well as the occupation and takeover banks and state buildings [emphasis added]:

Leadership Development:

• Leading members and organizers to develop curriculum and lead leadership development trainings

Train and lead members in non-violent civil disobedience, such as occupying state buildings and banks, and peaceful resistance.

• Implement leadership program with the goal of engaging 10% of members in active leadership and majority participation

Member Mobilization:

Execute field plans mobilizing members around political campaigns, annual Leadership Convention, lobby days, regional meetings.

• Execute field plans for special campaigns including contract campaigns, ballot initiatives, COPE contributions, general membership growth and the broader campaign to fight for a fair economy.

Plan and execute strategic direct action field plans including banner drops, bank takeovers, and capitol occupations with membership, other local unions, and coalition partners

Additional Responsibilities:

• Assignments to electoral, legislative and growth new organizing campaigns as required• Other duties as assigned

Since the SEIU has already shown it has no respect for private property, the question that lingers is: Will 2013 be the year when a real attorney general finally begins to look at the entire SEIU structure with RICO in mind?

______________

“Socialism has no place in the hearts of those who would secure the fight for freedom and preserve democracy.” Samuel Gompers, 1918

Why Am I Not Surprised?

As legacy media sees their sales and interest in their “news” plummet, they will latch onto anything which makes them seem relevant again…. Legacy media bankrolling campaigns of SOPA cosponsors

Traditional big media firms have contributed more than $5 million to the sponsors of the Stop Online Piracy Act, with California Democratic Reps. Howard Berman and Adam Schiff as the top recipients.

The bill, known as SOPA, would strengthen and extend the penalties for online copyright violations, and could force websites hosting pirated content to come down or prevent search engines from sending users their way. Legacy media companies stand to benefit if there's less unlawful movement of their content on the web, like pirated movies and songs for download.

Some of the nation's top tech companies — Facebook, Google and Microsoft, among others — have spoken out against the bill while media companies have pushed to defend it. SOPA's companion legislation in the Senate, the PROTECT IP Act, is on hold.

Earlier this month we noted that Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, the bill's sponsor in the House, has received nearly $400,000 from the TV, music and movies industry during his career, including some recent timely donations from broadcasting and television groups that are lobbying for the bill.

Legacy media companies stand to benefit if there’s less unlawful movement of their content on the web, like pirated movies and songs for download.

Among the 25 SOPA cosponsors from both sides of the aisle, here's a breakdown of which legislators have brought in donations from big media in TV, music and movies during their careers in Congress.

The nearly 40 cosponsors of the Protect IP Act, SOPA's partner legislation in the Senate, have received more than $13.5 million from the TV, music and movies industry since entering Congress. Here's a rundown:

Many groups have lobbied for the PROTECT IP Act, including several that employ lobbyists who have worked for the members of Congress who have signed on to the legislation. Among them:

Amazon spent $450,000 on lobbying during the third quarter, some of which was pushing against this bill. Google Inc. also spent some of its $80,000 in third quarter lobbying on fighting this measure, as did Intel, which spent nearly $1 million lobbying in Q3.

SOPA was introduced at the end of October, so lobbying on that bill will show up on fourth quarter lobbying disclosure forms.

Cal State campuses overwhelmed by remedial needs

MercuryNews

Wracked with frustration over the state’s legions of unprepared high school graduates, the California State University system next summer will force freshmen with remedial needs to brush up on math or English before arriving on campus.

But many professors at the 23-campus university, which has spent the past 13 years dismissing students who fail remedial classes, doubt the Early Start program will do much to help students unable to handle college math or English.

“I’m not at all optimistic that it’s going to help,” said Sally Murphy, a communications professor who directs general education at Cal State East Bay, where 73 percent of this year’s freshmen were not ready for college math. Nearly 60 percent were not prepared for college English.

“A 15-hour intervention is just not enough intervention when it comes to skills that should have been developed over 12 years,” Murphy said.

The remedial numbers are staggering, given that the Cal State system admits only freshmen who graduated in the top one-third of their high-school class. About 27,300 freshmen in the 2010 entering class of about 42,700 needed remedial work in math, English or both.

By requiring the Early Start courses, the university is trying, in part, to cut down the number of students kicked out for failing to complete remedial classes their first year. College-level math and English are required for many other Cal State courses, so students who are ineligible for
entry-level classes in one or both subjects have a significant disadvantage.

The courses may be taken online, at a Cal State campus or at some community colleges.

Few instructors believe the 15-hour Early Start courses will ease the burden for remedial students or the university, said Jim Postma, a Cal State Chico chemistry professor and chairman of the systemwide Academic Senate.

If half the students eligible for the Cal State system are unable to handle college work, he said, California is in bad shape.

“It’s a terrible indictment of the K-through-12 system,” Postma said. “If a factory was building cars and the lug nuts kept falling off the tires, you would do something pretty dramatic about it. We keep adding the lug nuts back to the tires rather than trying to figure out what the problem is.”

The remedial problem is hardly confined to California. Schools across the country have puzzled over how to better prepare students for college and what to do with those who are not ready.

But budget cuts have staggered the Cal State system’s ability to teach childhood math and English skills to tens of thousands of students every year. One solution would be to do a better job figuring out exactly what kind of help students need to focus remedial education, said Linda Wong, executive director of the University of Southern California’s Center for Urban Education.

“There have been a lot of problems with the assessment tools that colleges use,” she said. Because of that shortfall, “it’s very difficult to customize the curriculum to address specific needs of the students.”

The Cal State system’s remedial pressures have, for the past few years, led many students to take basic classes at community colleges. That influx has, in turn, made it more difficult for full-time community college students to get into classes they need to prepare for four-year schools.

Budget cuts also have hurt the community colleges: Thousands of classes have been cut the past few years on the state’s 112 two-year campuses.

“We’re all trying to figure out how to handle these students who are woefully unprepared,” said Mark Wade Lieu, an Ohlone College instructor who directs remedial education for the state’s community colleges. “The greatest fear is we’re going to lose a generation of students.”

Girl swept away by 2004 tsunami found alive

MSNBC

A girl who was believed to have been swept away by a massive tsunami that devastated coastlines in Asia has reportedly shown up alive, nearly seven years to the day after she vanished.

Indonesian state news agency Antara reported the girl, named only as Wati, was aged eight when she was ripped from her mother’s arms by the rushing waters near her home in West Aceh, Indonesia, in December 2004. Her mother, Yusniar, was trying to get her and two other children to safety at the time.

Antara reported Wednesday that the girl’s grandfather, Ibrahim, met a teenager who had traveled from another region, Banda Aceh, saying she was trying to find her way home.

The girl said she could not remember any of her relatives’ names apart from one — Ibrahim, Antara said.

He became convinced the girl was Wati, and her parents also later identified the girl as their daughter by a small mole and a scar over her eyebrow, Antara said.

It added that reporters were not immediately told what had happened to the girl during the time she was away.

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