Monthly Archives: November 2009

Combat anti-American narrative

antiamerica“After two decades in which U.S. foreign policy has been largely dedicated to rescuing Muslims or trying to help free them from tyranny — in Bosnia, Darfur, Kuwait, Somalia, Lebanon, Kurdistan, post-earthquake Pakistan, post-tsunami Indonesia, Iraq and Afghanistan — a narrative that says America is dedicated to keeping Muslims down is thriving,” columnist Thomas Friedman wrote, noting how alleged Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan even bought into the “cocktail of half-truths, propaganda and outright lies about America that have taken hold in the Arab-Muslim world since 9/11.” Friedman suggested that President Obama could spark needed debate in the Muslim world by asking this question: “Why is it that a million Muslims will pour into the streets to protest Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, but not one will take to the streets to protest Muslim suicide bombers who blow up other Muslims, real people, created in the image of God? You need to explain that to us — and to yourselves.”

Beck acts as ‘fearmonger-in-chief’

beck,glenn2The Anti-Defamation League singled out Fox New host Glenn Beck among the mainstream media for promoting hate and conspiracy theories. In its new report, “Rage Grows in America: Anti-Government Conspiracies,” ADL said that Beck has acted as a “fearmonger-in-chief,” and that his conspiratorial claims “create an intersection between the mainstream and the extreme.” In contrast, the report notes that conservative media hosts Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, while being very critical of the Obama administration, “have usually dismissed or refused to give a platform to the conspiracy theorists and anti-government extremists.” Some conservatives have complained that the report focused on right-wing media and didn’t include left-wing offenders. But James Besser of Jewish Week noted that ADL has a long history of calling out Democrats and Republicans alike who cross the line.

Open thread 11/30

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More gunfighting by Bloomberg, Tiahrt

gunThe political fight over gun records, and particularly the “Tiahrt amendment” regarding release of gun-trace data, has reached the Fort Hood shooting. In a Washington Post commentary provocatively headlined “Enabling the next Fort Hood?” New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean charged that “one of the many restrictions on gun data sponsored by Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Kan., meant that (Maj. Nidal) Hasan’s investigators were blocked from searching records to determine whether he or other terrorist suspects had purchased guns,” adding that Tiahrt legislation interferes “with preserving, sharing and investigating data on gun purchases by terrorist suspects.”
A Tiahrt statement on the issue said in part: “Contrary to what Mayors Against Illegal Guns have asserted, the Tiahrt amendment does not affect background check outcomes, does not affect who is permitted to own a firearm, and does not restrict law enforcement officials from accessing and effectively using all available firearm data for criminal investigations. Allowing the federal government to maintain a firearm registry of law-abiding American citizens who have passed a background test will do nothing to prevent terrorist attacks. Retaining a federal registry for 45 days or even 45 years will not make us any safer but will expose which citizens own guns and how many they own — something every violent criminal would like to access. Unfortunately, many opponents of the Tiahrt language, including Mayor Bloomberg, appear to be more interested in lawsuits against firearm manufacturers than about protecting law enforcement officers, the public, and privacy rights of law-abiding citizens who own firearms.”

Less fond of Obama now

ObamaIf President Obama decided to visit Wichita, his late mother’s birthplace, to highlight its aviation job losses as part of his year-ending focus on employment, he’d be entering increasingly hostile territory, according to the latest SurveyUSA poll. Last week’s survey, co-sponsored by KWCH, Channel 12, found Obama’s approval among Kansans at a new low of 38 percent, compared with 62 percent when he took office.

Open thread 11/29

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Americans more ‘food insecure’

foodbankA Department of Agriculture survey released last week showed that 17 million American households (14.6 percent) were “food insecure” at some point in 2008. That’s up from 13 million households (11.1 percent) in 2007. What’s even more troubling is that among households with children, the percentage that were food insecure was 21 percent. Being “food insecure” refers to reduced or disrupted food supplies due to a lack of money or other resources. Given the sharp increase in unemployment this year, the number of households facing food insecurity likely has continued to increase — which is why it is important to increase support, if possible, for such charities as the Kansas Food Bank and the Lord’s Diner.

Parkinson getting praise

parkinsongovMany governors would get blasted for slashing the state budget. Gov. Mark Parkinson is drawing praise, from The Eagle editorial board and others. “I’m proud of him for what he’s doing,” said state Rep. Bob Bethell, R-Alden, adding, “these are things that needed to be done and needed to be done now.” “That shows more leadership than we’ve seen from the governor’s office in many, many years,” said state Rep. Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls. Parkinson shows no signs of changing his mind about running for his job outright next year. But the Topeka Capital-Journal editorialized that Parkinson suggested “he’s worthy of a four-year term” by standing up to the threat of a schools lawsuit. The editorial concluded: “His leadership on the matter has been even-handed, much like when he broke the stalemate earlier this year on the Sunflower power plant expansion project. Parkinson has only been in office since last spring, but he continues to create a memorable legacy.”

So they said

brownback“I’ve started reading it, but it’s going to take a while.” — Sen. Sam Brownback (in photo), R-Kan., placing his hand on the Senate’s 2,000-page health reform bill at an Olathe town hall meeting

“If you’re the least bit politically active, and the party doesn’t have the governor’s job, you realize the effect it has in every department in the state. I think we’re all ready to have a Republican governor.” — Former state GOP chairman and state Treasurer Tim Shallenburger, who lost the 2002 governor’s race to Kathleen Sebelius

“My sense is that there is not a lot of enthusiasm, especially among moderate Republicans, for a Brownback governorship.” — Kansas Democratic Party chairman Larry Gates

“He’s got a name identification o f zero.” — University of Kansas political scientist Burdett Loomis, on the gubernatorial prospects of Democratic candidate Tom Wiggans, a former pharmaceutical company executive who returned to Kansas from California early this year

Will Dobbs run? And for what?

dobbslouWhen comedian Al Franken joined the U.S. Senate this year, the idea of it being a highly select and serious chamber loosened up considerably. So why not Sen. Lou Dobbs? The ousted CNN host (in photo) is being discussed as a potential challenger to Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J. But in a Monday interview, the self-described “Mr. Independent” said he also is thinking about a White House run. “I think that being in the public arena means you’ve got to be part of the solution.” No word on whether Dobbs would run as an independent or a Republican.

Open thread 11/28

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Pro-con on Palin’s presidential prospects

palinbookThe similarities between Andrew Jackson, William Jennings Bryan, Ronald Reagan and Sarah Palin are striking. This is not to say that they are alike in every respect. Nor is it to say that Palin’s achievements to date rank with the others’. But it’s nonetheless true that a couple of traits span the centuries and unify these four political figures. The first is the reaction they provoke among the elites of their age — what one might call the “Coonskin Cap Critique.” The second is their advocacy of dispersed power, open markets and American individualism. Elites routinely underestimate the capacities of populist leaders. They mock their enemies as uneducated provincials who lack expert knowledge and therefore have no place interfering in politics. — Matthew Continetti, Weekly Standard

Sarah Palin’s book publishers started early leaking tidbits to drum up sales. This one was a gem: Palin, the former GOP governor of Alaska, claimed she was charged $50,000 by Sen. John McCain’s Republican presidential campaign to cover the cost of vetting her as a potential vice president. Because McCain’s vetters must have gone gaga over her good looks, or maybe her down-home style, they somehow missed the fact she was more suited to be a talk-radio host. The thought of this daffy beauty contestant running things in the Oval Office during a military crisis sent chills up the nation’s spine. The nation could relate to Katie Couric’s dumbfounded expression as she unpeeled Palin’s layers in that infamous nationally televised interview and found nothing at the core. — New Jersey Star-Ledger editorial

Appropriate that ‘Dow 36,000′ author will head Bush Institute

glassmanColumnist and author Thomas Frank finds it “cosmically correct” that James K. Glassman (in photo), the co-author of “Dow 36,000,” will be the executive director of the George W. Bush Institute at the George W. Bush Presidential Center. “This great Wall Street optimist will oversee the remnants of an administration whose members once pooh-poohed the ‘reality-based community,’ who thought voluntary compliance was a good way to regulate industry, who took almost no action to deflate the mortgage bubble, who anticipated being greeted in Iraq as liberators,” Frank wrote.

Illegal immigration unaddressed

immigrationnoamnestyAs if health care, cap-and-trade, the economy and two wars weren’t enough, immigration looms as an unsolved problem, noted columnist Michael Barone. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the status quo is “is simply unacceptable,” calling for stronger enforcement and some legalization. Barone wrote: “Now that a combination of public indignation and high-tech ingenuity have increased government’s enforcement capacity, and while the inflow of immigrants is slowing and an outflow of illegals may be accelerating, we may have reached a point when we can put in place immigration laws with enforceable limits and that encourage an influx of the kind of immigrants we need most. Can Congress act?”

Open thread 11/27

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Wind-turbine jobs blow in China’s direction

turbine“The Obama administration’s plan for stimulating the creation of green-energy jobs is going in an odd direction,” noted Dallas Morning News columnist Jim Landers. Most of the wind-energy projects seeking money under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are using foreign-made turbines, often from China.
Meanwhile, David Brandon, a consultant analyzing the Wichita area’s economic development potential for the Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition, told The Eagle editorial board that manufacturing wind-turbine parts is an obvious fit for Wichita, given its manufacturing base and proximity to potential wind farms.

Obama’s hands-off strategy vindicated?

APTOPIX Obama Health CareSome administration officials are saying that the progress on health care reform legislation, and the increasing likelihood that it will become law, vindicates President Obama’s largely hands-off strategy to reform. Rather than come out with his own reform plan, as President Clinton did, Obama set broad principles and let Congress develop the details. The approach had its risks, especially as the debate about a public insurance option threatened to derail the entire effort (and still could). And many lawmakers complained that Obama needed to be clearer about what he would and wouldn’t sign into law. But by keeping some distance, Obama has forced lawmakers to take ownership of the legislation and work through their differences.

Repeal some exemptions

taxrevenueThe state’s 5.3 percent sales tax produced $3 billion in revenue in 2008. But the state missed out on another $4 billion in taxes from sales that were exempt, the Lawrence Journal World reported. If all those sales had been taxed, the state sales tax rate could have been lowered to 2.3 cents to raise the same $3 billion. “Undoubtedly, many sales tax exemptions do not help increase the tax base, and we should repeal them,” said Bradley Borden, an associate professor at Washburn University School of Law.

Thanksgiving happier for Palin than Obama

What a difference a year has made for Barack Obama and Sarah Palin, mused New York Daily News columnist Michael Goodwin. Last November, Obama was fresh off his historic presidential election and Palin had been sent packing to Alaska. Now, his approval rating is below 50 percent and Palin is everywhere, including atop the best-seller lists. Goodwin wrote: “This flip-flop in fortunes stems from many factors, war and recession chief among them. Yet ultimately, Obama has mostly himself to blame. He’s aligned himself with the left wing of his party instead of the ordinary Americans who identify with Palin. His Ivy League eloquence seems tired next to her wrong-side-of-the-tracks passion. That she could quit her job as governor and still rise from the dead is a testament to fury at Obama and his policies. She is probably not a viable 2012 candidate; then again, he’s not looking so hot himself.”

Open thread 11/26

Thanksgiving

Good Thanksgiving for banks

monopolymanBankers may have the most to be thankful for today, wrote Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank. A year ago, the financial system was near collapse and had to be rescued with hundreds of billions of taxpayers’ dollars. Yet because of its lobbying strength on Capitol Hill, the industry may escape any major reform of financial regulations, such as the creation of a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency. Milbank noted that some of the same companies that were propped up with taxpayer money “are determined to fight off regulatory efforts to prevent a repeat of the same cycle of bubble, collapse and bailout.”

Late-night laughs

“President Obama is getting ready to pardon the White House turkey, the Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner. . . . I don’t want to say Geithner is not doing a good job. But today God asked for his name to be taken off the bill.” — Jay Leno

“President Obama pardons the White House turkey. Dick Cheney didn’t miss an opportunity. This proves that Obama is soft on poultry.” — David Letterman

“According to a new poll, more Americans would like to have Thanksgiving dinner with Hillary Clinton than with Sarah Palin. Mainly because no one wants to eat elk pie. With caribou syrup on it.” — Conan O’Brien

Hacked files could raise doubts about global warming

globalwarming2There doesn’t appear to be any smoking gun so far regarding the thousands of e-mails and documents stolen by computer hackers from the Climatic Research Unit in England — contrary to the conspiracy claims of some global warming skeptics. But some of the documents are embarrassing and troubling, showing petty disputes and grudges between scientists. And the controversy could increase doubts among the public about global warming. Though Americans overwhelmingly believe that global warming is happening, the percentage of believers has dropped from 80 to 72 percent in the past year, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Most of that drop is among Republicans, whose belief in global warming went from 76 to 54 percent. Americans still support cap-and-trade legislation to help combat global warming by 53 to 42 percent, according to the poll.

Despicable, generous acts

freemealThere is not much worse than abusing mentally ill people — hence U.S. District Judge Monti Belot’s appropriate decision this week to double the sentence of Linda Kaufman, who aided in the abuse of residents of a Newton care home. But it was also low and despicable that someone broke into a storage shed at Parallax Program Saturday and stole wrapped presents meant for children of adults undergoing drug and alcohol treatment. Thankfully, there also have been reports of kindness and generosity in the news this week, including Bishop’s Family Dining serving a free Thanksgiving meal to members of Word of the Lord International Church (see photo).

Open thread 11/25

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