Category Archives: Politics

Obama Could Alter Stance Of Federal Courts….And Worse

Posted on February 7, 2012, 4:30pm

These aren’t even the most dangerous appointments Obama could make. Justice Kennedy is retiring soon and Ginsberg is not far behind him. All it takes is one more appointment and the Supreme Court is a liberal one, with at least three Leftist judges.

AP – A second term for President Barack Obama would allow him to expand his replacement of Republican-appointed majorities with Democratic ones on the nation’s appeals courts, the final stop for almost all challenged federal court rulings.

Despite his slow start in nominating judges and Republican delays in Senate confirmations, Obama has still managed to alter the balance of power on four of the nation’s 13 circuit courts of appeals. Given a second term, Obama could have the chance to install Democratic majorities on several others.

Fourteen of the 25 appeals court judges nominated by Obama replaced Republican appointees.

The next president, whether it’s Obama or a Republican, also has a reasonable shot at transforming the majority on the Supreme Court, because three justices representing the closely divided court’s liberal and conservative wings, as well as its center, will turn 80 before the next presidential term ends.

The three justices are Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the leader of the court’s liberal wing, conservative Antonin Scalia, and Anthony Kennedy, who leans conservative but on some issues provides a decisive vote for the liberals.

The next high court opening would cause a titanic confirmation fight if it would allow a Republican president to cement conservative control of the court by replacing Ginsburg or if Obama could give Democratic appointees a working majority for the first time in decades by replacing Scalia or Kennedy.

The prospect of such dramatic change on the Supreme Court, along with the justices’ strikingly high-profile election-year docket could heighten the judiciary’s importance as an election issue, said Curt Levey, who heads the conservative Committee for Justice. The justices will hear arguments on Obama’s health care overhaul in March and Arizona’s immigration crackdown in April. The court also could soon decide whether to hear a Texas affirmative action case challenging the use of race as a factor in college admissions.

Even one new justice can produce dramatic change. Justice Samuel Alito replaced the more moderate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and shifted the outcome in cases on abortion, campaign finance and other key issues, even though both were appointed by Republicans.

Openings on the circuit courts of appeals get much less attention, but those courts have the last say in most legal disputes that are appealed in the federal system. Only about 80 cases make it to the Supreme Court every year.

There are still more Republicans than Democrats on the circuit appeals courts and on the entire federal bench. But if Obama merely filled existing vacancies, Democratic appointees would be the majority on the influential court of appeals in Washington, where four current Supreme Court justices once served, and the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Republicans also maintain their edge on the 10th Circuit in Denver only because two judgeships are empty.

Two other appeals courts on which Republicans have comfortable majorities could shift over the next four years. The Chicago-based 7th Circuit has four judges in their 70s who were chosen by Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. In the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit, Judge Emilio Garza, a Republican appointee, will take senior status in August, a move that will open a seat while Garza takes a smaller caseload. Two Reagan picks in their 70s remain on the court.

Twelve Reagan appointees now in their 70s remain on circuit appeals courts or, in the case of Scalia and Kennedy, the Supreme Court.

Republican presidents, in recent decades, have been more aggressive than Democrats in filling those seats with younger, more like-minded lawyers.

Many nominees of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush were in their early 40s, some even in their 30s, and with reputations as bold conservatives. By contrast, Obama has frustrated some liberal interest groups mainly by favoring older nominees over younger ones who might be the Democratic equivalents of some of the Reagan and Bush picks. Obama’s two youngest appeals court nominees, Goodwin Liu and Caitlin Halligan, were stymied by Republican filibusters in the Senate.

The average age of Obama-nominated appeals court judges is more than 55 years old, higher than any president’s going back to Jimmy Carter, according to the liberal interest group Alliance for Justice. The age of these judges matters in an era when presidents regularly look to the circuit appeals courts as the pool for Supreme Court candidates. Younger judges have a chance to develop a record that presidents can examine, yet still be young enough to be considered for the high court.

Alito and Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Clarence Thomas all became appellate judges in their early 40s. Chief Justice John Roberts, a Republican appointee, and Justice Elena Kagan, a Democrat, would have been on the appeals court in Washington before their 40th birthdays had senators not blocked their confirmations. Roberts had to wait another decade before becoming an appeals court judge, while Kagan is the only justice who did not serve as an appellate judge.

Obama’s picks have yet to surprise anyone with their decisions, said Levey, head of the conservative interest group. “So Obama’s liberal critics can rest assured that if he’s re-elected, his transformation of the appeals courts will make a big difference in the law.”

Party labels do not always foretell a case’s outcome. During recent challenges to the Obama administration’s health care overhaul, Republican appeals court judges in Cincinnati and Washington cast deciding votes upholding the law, while a Democratic appointee in Atlanta voted to strike down the requirement that most people buy health insurance or pay a penalty.

Still, there is wide agreement that Obama picks have sharply altered the Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which had been dominated by conservative, Republican appointees.

Obama could alter stance of federal appeals courts

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33% Of GOP Voters Want A New Candidate To Enter The Race

Posted on January 25, 2012, 7:20pm

We must keep those options open. The current field, minus Ron Paul, is more than qualified, but there are a few more out there who could stomp out the Socialist.

Rasmussen – While many pundits have taken to describing the race for the Republican nomination as a two-man competition, a third of all voters nationwide think it would be good for the GOP if someone else jumped into the fray.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 34% of Likely U.S. Voters think it would be good for Republicans if another candidate entered the race for the party’s presidential nomination. But nearly as many (31%) say it would be bad for the party, while 24% believe it would have no impact. Twelve percent (12%) are not sure.

33% of GOP voters want a new candidate to enter the race

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George Soros Wouldn’t Mind A Violent Class War

Posted by Fullcouch on January 25, 2012, 8:50am

“The key to avoiding cataclysm in 2012 is not to let the crises of 2011 go to waste.” – George Soros

“You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” – Rahm Emmanuel

“Cloward-Piven is a strategy for forcing political change through orchestrated crisis.
The strategy was first proposed in 1966 by Columbia University political scientists Richard Andrew Cloward and Frances Fox Piven as a plan to bankrupt the welfare system and produce radical change. Sometimes known as the “crisis strategy” or the the “flood-the-rolls, bankrupt-the-cities strategy,” the Cloward-Piven approach called for swamping the welfare rolls with new applicants – more than the system could bear. It was hoped that the resulting economic collapse would lead to political turmoil and ultimately socialism.”

They don’t mention violence, but they don’t have a problem with it.

Daily Beast – You know George Soros. He’s the investor’s investor—the man who still holds the record for making more money in a single day’s trading than anyone. He pocketed $1 billion betting against the British pound on “Black Wednesday” in 1992, when sterling lost 20 percent of its value in less than 24 hours and crashed out of the European exchange-rate mechanism. No wonder Brits call him, with a mix of awe and annoyance, “the man who broke the Bank of England.”

Soros doesn’t make small bets on anything. Beyond the markets, he has plowed billions of dollars of his own money into promoting political freedom in Eastern Europe and other causes. He bet against the Bush White House, becoming a hate magnet for the right that persists to this day. So, as Soros and the world’s movers once again converge on Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum this week, what is one of the world’s highest-stakes economic gamblers betting on now?

He’s not. For the first time in his 60-year career, Soros, now 81, admits he is not sure what to do. “It’s very hard to know how you can be right, given the damage that was done during the boom years,” Soros says. He won’t discuss his portfolio, lest anyone think he’s talking things down to make a buck. But people who know him well say he advocates making long-term stock picks with solid companies, avoiding gold—“the ultimate bubble”—and, mainly, holding cash.

He’s not even doing the one thing that you would expect from a man who knows a crippled currency when he sees one: shorting the euro, and perhaps even the U.S. dollar, to hell. Quite the reverse. He backs the beleaguered euro, publicly urging European leaders to do whatever it takes to ensure its survival. “The euro must survive because the alternative—a breakup—would cause a meltdown that Europe, the world, can’t afford.” He has bought about $2 billion in European bonds, mainly Italian, from MF Global Holdings Ltd., the securities firm run by former Goldman Sachs head Jon Corzine that filed for bankruptcy protection last October.

Has the great short seller gone soft? Well, yes. Sitting in his 33rd-floor corner office high above Seventh Avenue in New York, preparing for his trip to Davos, he is more concerned with surviving than staying rich. “At times like these, survival is the most important thing,” he says, peering through his owlish glasses and brushing wisps of gray hair off his forehead. He doesn’t just mean it’s time to protect your assets. He means it’s time to stave off disaster. As he sees it, the world faces one of the most dangerous periods of modern history—a period of “evil.” Europe is confronting a descent into chaos and conflict. In America he predicts riots on the streets that will lead to a brutal clampdown that will dramatically curtail civil liberties. The global economic system could even collapse altogether.

“I am not here to cheer you up. The situation is about as serious and difficult as I’ve experienced in my career,” Soros tells Newsweek. “We are facing an extremely difficult time, comparable in many ways to the 1930s, the Great Depression. We are facing now a general retrenchment in the developed world, which threatens to put us in a decade of more stagnation, or worse. The best-case scenario is a deflationary environment. The worst-case scenario is a collapse of the financial system.”

Soros’s warning is based as much on his own extraordinary personal history as on his gut instinct for market booms and busts. “I did survive a personally much more threatening situation, so it is emotional, as well as rational,” he acknowledges. Soros was just 13 when Nazi soldiers invaded and occupied his native Hungary in March 1944. In only eight weeks, almost half a million Hungarian Jews were deported, many to Auschwitz. He saw bodies of Jews, and the Christians who helped them, swinging from lampposts, their skulls crushed. He survived, thanks to his father, Tivadar, who managed to secure false identities for his family. Later, he watched as Russian forces ousted the Nazis and a new totalitarian ideology, communism, replaced fascism. As life got tougher during the postwar Soviet occupation, Soros managed to emigrate, first to London, then to New York.

Soros draws on his past to argue that the global economic crisis is as significant, and unpredictable, as the end of communism. “The collapse of the Soviet system was a pretty extraordinary event, and we are currently experiencing something similar in the developed world, without fully realizing what’s happening.” To Soros, the spectacular debunking of the credo of efficient markets—the notion that markets are rational and can regulate themselves to avert disaster—“is comparable to the collapse of Marxism as a political system. The prevailing interpretation has turned out to be very misleading. It assumes perfect knowledge, which is very far removed from reality. We need to move from the Age of Reason to the Age of Fallibility in order to have a proper understanding of the problems.”

Understanding, he says, is key. “Unrestrained competition can drive people into actions that they would otherwise regret. The tragedy of our current situation is the unintended consequence of imperfect understanding. A lot of the evil in the world is actually not intentional. A lot of people in the financial system did a lot of damage without intending to.” Still, Soros believes the West is struggling to cope with the consequences of evil in the financial world just as former Eastern bloc countries struggled with it politically. Is he really saying that the financial whizzes behind our economic meltdown were not just wrong, but evil? “That’s correct.” Take that, Lloyd Blankfein, the Goldman Sachs boss who told The Sunday Times of London at the height of the financial crisis that bankers “do God’s work.”

To many, the idea of Soros lecturing the world on “evil” is, well, rich. Here, after all, is an investor who proved—and profited hugely from—the now much-derided notion that the market, or in his case a single investor, is more powerful than sovereign governments. He broke the Bank of England, destroyed the Conservative Party’s reputation for economic competence, and reduced the value of the pound in British consumers’ pockets by one fifth in a single day. Soros the currency speculator has been condemned as “unnecessary, unproductive, immoral.” Mahathir Mohamad, former prime minister of Malaysia, once called him “criminal” and “a moron.”

In the U.S., where the right still has not forgiven him for agitating against President George W. Bush and the “war on terror” after 9/11, which he described as “pernicious,” his prediction of riots on the streets—“it’s already started,” he says—will likely spark fresh criticism that Soros is a “far-left, radical bomb thrower,” as Bill O’Reilly once put it. Critics already allege he is stoking the fires by funding the Occupy movement through Adbusters, the Canadian provocateurs who sparked the movement. Not so, says Soros.

Soros’s fragrant personal life will also prompt many to pooh-pooh his moralizing. Last year, Adriana Ferreyr, his 28-year-old companion for many years, sued him in New York Supreme Court in Manhattan, alleging he reneged on two separate promises to buy her an apartment, causing her extreme emotional distress. Ferreyr, a former soap-opera star in Brazil, said Soros had given the apartment he had promised her to another girlfriend. She also claimed he assaulted her. Soros has dismissed Ferreyr’s claims as “frivolous and entirely without merit” and “riddled with false charges and obviously an attempt to extract money.”

Despite his baggage, the man who now views himself as a statesman-philanthropist is undeterred. Having profited from unregulated markets, he now wants to deliver us from them. Take Europe. He’s now convinced that “if you have a disorderly collapse of the euro, you have the danger of a revival of the political conflicts that have torn Europe apart over the centuries—an extreme form of nationalism, which manifests itself in xenophobia, the exclusion of foreigners and ethnic groups. In Hitler’s time, that was focused on the Jews. Today, you have that with the Gypsies, the Roma, which is a small minority, and also, of course, Muslim immigrants.”

It is “now more likely than not” that Greece will formally default in 2012, Soros will tell leaders in Davos this week. He will castigate European leaders who seem to know only how to “do enough to calm the situation, not to solve the problem.” If Germany’s Angela Merkel or France’s Nicolas Sarkozy nurses any lingering hopes of finding their salvation outside the continent, they are mistaken. “I took a recent trip to China, and China won’t come to Europe’s rescue,” Soros says. Despite all its woes, he nevertheless thinks the euro will—just barely—survive.

While Soros, whose new book, Financial Turmoil in Europe and the United States, will be published in early February, is currently focused on Europe, he’s quick to claim that economic and social divisions in the U.S. will deepen, too. He sympathizes with the Occupy movement, which articulates a widespread disillusionment with capitalism that he shares. People “have reason to be frustrated and angry” at the cost of rescuing the banking system, a cost largely borne by taxpayers rather than shareholders or bondholders.

Occupy Wall Street “is an inchoate, leaderless manifestation of protest,” but it will grow. It has “put on the agenda issues that the institutional left has failed to put on the agenda for a quarter of a century.” He reaches for analysis, produced by the political blog ThinkProgress.org, that shows how the Occupy movement has pushed issues of unemployment up the agenda of major news organizations, including MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News. It reveals that in one week in July of last year the word “debt” was mentioned more than 7,000 times on major U.S. TV news networks. By October, mentions of the word “debt” had dropped to 398 over the course of a week, while “occupy” was mentioned 1,278 times, “Wall Street” 2,378 times, and “jobs” 2,738 times. You can’t keep a financier away from his metrics.

As anger rises, riots on the streets of American cities are inevitable. “Yes, yes, yes,” he says, almost gleefully. The response to the unrest could be more damaging than the violence itself. “It will be an excuse for cracking down and using strong-arm tactics to maintain law and order, which, carried to an extreme, could bring about a repressive political system, a society where individual liberty is much more constrained, which would be a break with the tradition of the United States.”

In spite of his warnings of political turmoil in the U.S., he has no plans to engage in politics directly. “I would prefer not to be involved in party politics. It’s only because I felt that the Bush administration was misleading the country that I became involved. I was very hopeful of a new beginning with Obama, and I’ve been somewhat disappointed. I remain a supporter of the Democratic Party, but I’m fully aware of their shortcomings.” Soros believes Obama still has a chance of winning this year’s election. “Obama might surprise the public. The main issue facing the electorate is whether the rich should be taxed more. It shouldn’t be a difficult argument for Obama to make.”

If there is a glimmer of hope for the world in 2012, Soros believes it lies in emerging markets. The democratic-reform movement that has spread across the Middle East, the rise of democracy and economic growth in Africa, even reform in Russia may yet drag the world out of the mire. “While the developed world is in a deep crisis, the future for the developing world is very positive. The aspiration of people for an open society is very inspiring. You have people in Africa lining up for many hours when they are given an opportunity to vote. Dictators have been overthrown. It is very encouraging for freedom and growth.”

Soros insists the key to avoiding cataclysm in 2012 is not to let the crises of 2011 go to waste. “In the crisis period, the impossible becomes possible. The European Union could regain its luster. I’m hopeful that the United States, as a political entity, will pass a very severe test and actually strengthen the institution.” Nor has he quite given up hope that the central bankers and prime ministers gathering in Davos this week have got what it takes to rally round and prove him wrong. This time, being wrong would make him happy indeed.

Soros says to gear up for a violent class war

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Does The Iowa Electoral Fraud Scam Lead To The White House?

Posted by Fullcouch on January 25, 2012, 8:05am

This is a page right out of Chicago politics. There’s NO way this president walks out of the White House scandal free? But then again Mayor Richard Daley seems to be made of Teflon.

Investors – In a scandal reeking of electoral fraud, a Democrat-linked political hack was arrested Friday for identity theft in an apparent bid to defame and replace Iowa’s GOP secretary of state. How far up does this go?

Zachary Edwards, who served as President Obama’s Iowa “New Media Director,” and a campaign organizer in critical battleground states such as North Carolina and New Mexico during 2008’s elections, apparently has quite a range of uses to the Democratic Party.

One of those uses may include identity theft.

The 29-year-old’s arrest in Des Moines, Iowa, on Friday, for attempting to steal the identity of Matt Schultz, Iowa’s Republican secretary of state, points to dirty tricks as a potential element of the Democratic agenda for 2012. The big question is how far up it goes.

According to a criminal complaint released by the Iowa Department of Public Safety, “Edwards fraudulently used, or attempted to use, the identity of Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz and/or Schultz’s brother, Thomas Schultz, to obtain a benefit, in an alleged scheme to falsely implicate Secretary Schultz in perceived illegal or unethical behavior while in office.”

Edwards worked for a consulting and opposition research operation with close ties to the Democrats, called Link Strategies. The firm has since fired him and claimed that his acts were unauthorized deeds of a lone wolf acting on his own.

But if one were to scroll back to 2006, the only response to that is: Not so fast.

In 2006, the hardest of the hardcore Democratic operatives — including the secretive rich-man’s club known as The Democracy Alliance, and the loud crazies of MoveOn.org, both funded by socialist billionaire George Soros — founded a “527” political group called the “Secretary of State Project.”

The aim was to elect “progressive” secretaries of state in swing or battleground states so that when elections were tight, the decisive official in the secretary of state’s chair would presumably rule in Democrats’ favor. This worked like a charm in Minnesota, when the SOS Project managed to place Democrat Mark Ritchie in that office to rule in favor of Democrat Al Franken after hundreds of ballots were “found” in his close Senate race.

But it didn’t always work to plan. Iowa, which the Secretary of State Project lists as one of its most important battleground targets, saw its voters elect Schultz, a very conservative Republican, secretary of state in 2008.

Does the Iowa electoral fraud scam lead to the White House?

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Romney Gave A Ton To Charities Last Year

Posted by Fullcouch on January 24, 2012, 4:45pm

The mainstream media might conveniently ignore this one as well. Or, maybe they’ll acknowledge that Romney gave millions, but only out of guilt and obedience to the cult of Mormonism.

Daily Mail – I’m really struggling to work out what all the fuss is about over this one. It seems to me to be much ado about nothing. Breaking news: Mitt Romney is very rich. He also gave millions and millions of dollars to charity and to the taxman.
In the early hours of this morning, some 550 pages of Mitt Romney’s tax returns and a 2011 tax summary were released by his campaign. Just after dawn, there was a long campaign conference call for bleary-eyed reporters in which an accountant (who sounded exactly like you’d imagine Mitt Romney’s accountant would sound) went into details of Mitt millions in mind-numbing detail.
There was an air of grumpy efficency about the call, which was led by Ben Ginsberg, who was George W. Bush’s lawyer during the Florida election recount in 2000. At one point Ginsberg noted that 26 people from Chicago were listening into the proceedings, a reference to the Obama campaign headquarters.
So what were the headlines? He raked in about $42 million in 2010 and 2011. His effective tax rate was just below 14 percent, lower than that for many American taxpayers. He paid $6.2 million to the taxman and donated a staggering $7 million to charity, including $4.1 million to the Mormon church.
OK, so Mormons are supposed to tithe 10 percent of their income. But it’s to Romney’s immense credit that he promised to do this in his youth and followed through with that – to the tune of scores of millions (maybe hundreds of millions) of dollars throughout his life.
In fact, in those two years, he paid 16 percent of his income to charity, compared to, er, 2.6 percent by Newt Gingrich.
And what about President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden in the run-up to their 2008 campaign?
USA Today broke it down here. In 2007, the Obamas gave more than $240,000 to charity, about 5.7 percent of their income. The Bidens gave an average of $369 to charity a year for the decade before he moved to the Naval Observatory – about 0.3 percent of their income. Back in 1997, then veep Al Gore and his then wife Tipper gave $353.
Since becoming veep, Biden hasn’t become much more generous. In 2010, he gave $5,350, about 1.4 percent of income. That same year, Romney gave some $3 million. The national average is about three percent.
As far as we know, Romney scrupulously adhered to all US tax laws. No one has accused him of tax evasion.
What we hear is: Funds in the Cayman Islands! Swiss bank account!
So will all this hurt Romney politically? The Obama campaign and White House clearly thinks so. An Obama guest for tonight’s State of the Union will be Warren Buffett’s secretary, a crude nod to the familiar Democratic trope about the secretary being subject to higher tax rates than Buffett himself.
Much of the media also thinks so. Covering the story, CNN made repeated use of the term “the one percent” – a blatant assimilation of the cry from the Occupy Wall Street movement.
In Britain and much the rest of Europe, immense personal wealth often breeds resentment. In the United States, not so much. Certainly, Americans want economic fairness and equal opportuity. But belief in capitalism and the notion that by striving hard you too can become wealthy remain are enduring American traits.
Last week, Romney was stunningly inept in his handling of questions about his tax returns, humming and hawing, prevaricating, stonewalling and then finally, in defeat in South Carolina, agreeing to release documents.
Now he’s done what he should have done earlier (politically-speaking – he’s releasing returns much earlier than any other candidate previously in modern times) this is going to fade away as an issue for most voters.
Democrats will try to foment resentment about Romney’s wealth. And certainly some people will never want to vote for a fat cat rich guy. But if Obama strategists think they it can win a re-election battle on a platform of class warfare they’re very much mistaken.

Romney gave millions to charity last year

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President Apologizer Tells Iran He Didn’t Want To Sanction Them

Posted by Fullcouch on January 23, 2012, 7:40am

President Apologizer strikes again. Well, Iran, mommy wants to put you in a timeout. Let me be clear, Iran, I don’t want to put you in a timeout, but I have to, so fear and respect me even less while you sit and ponder how sorry and weak your daddy is.

PJ Media – The threat by the Islamic regime in Iran to close down the Strait of Hormuz and of Revolutionary Guards Navy boats harassing U.S. Navy ships in the Persian Gulf has caused President Obama to send secret messages to the regime stating his concerns over the closure of the strait and the possibility of an accidental war.

Since then, Iranian officials have been revealing the contents of President Obama’s letter to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, which indicates a deep desire by the U.S. president for a dialogue with the radical leaders of Iran. However, on Saturday, Iranian officials also claimed that an oral message by Obama delivered through the Swiss ambassador in Tehran is even more revealing than the letter delivered to the Iranian supreme leader.

According to Fars News Agency, which is close to the Revolutionary Guards, Hossein Ebrahimi, the vice chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, alleged that on Saturday in a meeting between Swiss Ambassador Livia Leu Agosti and Iranian Foreign Ministry officials, Agosti informed the Iranian officials that Obama recognizes Iran’s right of access to and use of nuclear technology.

Ebarhimi also disclosed another important point that the Swiss diplomat delivered: Obama said that “I didn’t want to impose sanctions on your central bank, but I had no options but to approve it since a Congress majority had approved the decision.”

Last month, the Obama administration pressed key Democrats on the defense bill conference committee to get their colleagues to water down the strong sanctions language against Iran, which passed the Senate by a 100-0 vote as part of the fiscal 2012 defense authorization bill. The administration, threatening a veto, managed to delay the implementation of sanctions and penalties from 60 to 180 days in the final draft, also allowing the president to waive those penalties for national security reasons or if it would harm the global economy.

President Obama boasted on Thursday that U.S.-led sanctions had reduced Iran’s economy to a “shambles,” defending his policy towards Iran following sharp Republican attacks.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast also disclosed on Saturday that Iran had received Obama’s message through three different channels: U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice handed a letter to her Iranian counterpart, the Swiss ambassador conveyed the same message in Tehran, while Iraqi President Jalal Talabani delivered the same message to Iranian officials in Baghdad.

Last Wednesday, Ebrahimi for the first time disclosed the contents of Obama’s letter in which the U.S. president had mentioned that cooperation and negotiation are based on the mutual interests of the two countries, and assured Iran that America will not take any action against the Islamic regime.

This is not the first letter sent to the leaders of Iran by Obama, Ebrahimi said. “He has repeatedly spoken in a soft tone about the Islamic Republic of Iran, but in practice, he has not acted accordingly.”

In response to Obama’s message to the leaders of the Islamic regime and his request for negotiations, Iranian officials have decided to reveal his message in order to further embarrass him on the international scene, claiming that Obama’s approach shows the world the true power of the Islamic regime.

Obama: I did not want to sanction Iran’s bank

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GOP Race Starts To Feel Palin’s Power

Posted by Fullcouch on January 20, 2012, 6:15pm

Sarah is a kingmaker. Wishing she’d be a queenmaker as well.

N.Y. Sun – Who is the leader of the “Not-Romney” movement within today’s GOP?

Is it Newt Gingrich, whose surge in the South Carolina opinion polls puts him within striking distance of front-runner Mitt in tomorrow’s vote?

Is it Ron Paul, whose dedicated core of “hard-money” but isolationist supporters gives him 15 to 20% in every Republican contest?

Or is it Rick Santorum, recently endorsed by a raft of Christian evangelical leaders?

For my dollar, the leader is Sarah Palin, whose endorsements continue to carry more weight among conservatives than any other national figure and who is well-positioned to play a king-making role in the 2012 elections similar to her “Mama Grizzly” performance guiding the Republican surge in 2010.

How did this happen? She’s not running. She’s in Alaska. Since declaring herself a non-candidate at the beginning of October, Mrs. Palin has kept a pretty low profile.

Until recently, her main contribution to the political discourse was castigation of “Congressional insider trading,”a practice exposed by one of her SarahPac advisors, Hudson Institute fellow Peter Schweitzer, in a new book called “Throw Them All Out.” That expose gave rise to competing Congressional reform bills, the best of which would make it illegal for Federal legislators to routinely do what Raj Rajaratnam.

Before that, at a much-noted speech to Iowa Tea Partiers back in August, Mrs. Palin the political wordsmith injected “crony capitalism” into the public discussion. That phrase has captured the corrupt connivance between Big Business and Big Government which challenged the anti-business protestations of the “Occupy” crowd.

Recent weeks have seen a resurgence of the Grizzly factor. In a December 1 appearance, as a Fox News commentator on the GOP race, Mrs. Palin uttered one sentence in praise of Rick Santorum’s “ideological consistency.” Immediately the former Pennsylvania senator’s numbers began to climb.

By January 4 Mr. Santorum tied — or maybe, when the final figures are out, bested — Governor Romney in the Iowa straw poll, an accomplishment that seasoned observers attributed to good timing and months of hard work in Iowa’s rural precincts. Palin-watchers had their own theory of causality.

This week Mrs Palin was at it again. As Suzi Parker described it at the Washington Post:

[Mrs. Palin] told Fox News’s Sean Hannity on Tuesday night that if she was a South Carolinian, she would vote for Newt Gingrich. It wasn’t a straight endorsement, she stressed, but Palin simply believes the primary should be hard-fought and not easily handed to Mitt Romney on a silver platter.

“Iron sharpens iron, steel sharpens steel,” Palin said.

At RealClearPolitics, Palin-watcher Scott Conroy asked the Gingrich camp how significant they considered Mrs. Palin’s support to be? “Big,” was the answer of a top aide to the former speaker.

Now polls show Mr. Gingrich surging, as the not-Romney vote coalesces, at least for now, around the one-time college professor and speaker.

Mrs. Palin even went on Hannity’s radio program Thursday to lambast the “lame-stream media” for publishing an interview with Mr. Gingrich’s disgruntled “ex”, a rhetorical axe Mr. Gingrich himself swung at CNN’s John King later that night, with telling effect.

So what is next for the politician The New York Sun calls “the alert Alaskan”? For now, to keep the GOP pot boiling.

She is able to do so because millions think she is brilliant, incorruptible, and knows how to lead. Many of them hope she will still get into this race, but she has insisted that in this political season she will make her contribution from the side-lines with the goal of a Republican president in 2013.

Palin factor starts to emerge in GOP race

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Obama Bails On Keystone To Appease The Jagged Fringes Of The Left

Posted by Fullcouch on January 20, 2012, 8:55am

Nice work, Mr. President. Let’s dump on one of our biggest allies, keep funding the Middle East and China, keep gas prices high, throw a boost to national security and well-paying jobs out the window, just to make some environMENTALists happy. All this, and more, for an ideology. So empty, yet so revealing.

Robert Samuelson – President Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico is an act of national insanity. It isn’t often that a president makes a decision that has no redeeming virtues and — beyond the symbolism — won’t even advance the goals of the groups that demanded it. All it tells us is that Obama is so obsessed with his re-election that, through some sort of political calculus, he believes that placating his environmental supporters will improve his chances.

Aside from the political and public relations victory, environmentalists won’t get much. Stopping the pipeline won’t halt the development of tar sands, to which the Canadian government is committed; therefore, there will be little effect on global warming emissions. Indeed, Obama’s decision might add to them. If Canada builds a pipeline from Alberta to the Pacific for export to Asia, moving all that oil across the ocean by tanker will create extra emissions. There will also be the risk of added spills.

Now consider how Obama’s decision hurts the United States. For starters, it insults and antagonizes a strong ally; getting future Canadian cooperation on other issues will be harder. Next, it threatens a large source of relatively secure oil that, combined with new discoveries in the United States, could reduce (though not eliminate) our dependence on insecure foreign oil.

Finally, Obama’s decision forgoes all the project’s jobs. There’s some dispute over the magnitude. Project sponsor TransCanada claims 20,000, split between construction (13,000) and manufacturing (7,000) of everything from pumps to control equipment. Apparently, this refers to “job years,” meaning one job for one year. If so, the actual number of jobs would be about half that spread over two years. Whatever the figure, it’s in the thousands and important in a country hungering for work. And Keystone XL is precisely the sort of infrastructure project that Obama claims to favor.

The big winners are the Chinese. They must be celebrating their good fortune and wondering how the crazy Americans could repudiate such a huge supply of nearby energy. There’s no guarantee that tar-sands oil will go to China; pipelines to the Pacific would have to be built. But it creates the possibility when the oil’s natural market is the United States.

There are three things to remember about Keystone and U.S. energy policy.

First, we’re going to use lots of oil for a long time. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that American oil consumption will increase 4 percent between 2009 and 2035. The increase occurs despite highly optimistic assumptions about vehicle fuel efficiency and bio-fuels. But a larger population (390 million in 2035 versus 308 million in 2009) and more driving per vehicle offset savings.

The more oil we produce domestically and import from neighbors, the more we’re insulated from dramatic interruptions of global supplies. After the United States, Canada is the most dependable source of oil — or was until Obama’s decision.

Second, barring major technological breakthroughs, emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, will rise for similar reasons. The EIA projects that America’s CO2 emissions will increase by 16 percent from 2009 to 2035. (The EIA is updating its projections, but the main trends aren’t likely to change dramatically.) Stopping Canadian tar-sands development, were that possible, wouldn’t affect these emissions.

Finally, even if — as Keystone critics argue — some Canadian oil were refined in the United States and then exported, this would be a good thing. The exports would probably go mostly to Latin America. They would keep well-paid industrial jobs (yes, refining) in the United States and reduce our trade deficit in oil, which exceeded $300 billion in 2011.

By law, Obama’s decision was supposed to reflect “the national interest.” His standard was his political interest. The State Department had spent three years evaluating Keystone and appeared ready to approve the project by year-end 2011. Then the administration, citing opposition to the pipeline’s route in Nebraska, reversed course and postponed a decision to 2013 — after the election.

Now, reacting to a congressional deadline to decide, Obama rejected the proposal. But he also suggested that a new application with a modified Nebraska route — already being negotiated — might be approved, after the election. So the sop tossed to the environmentalists could be temporary. The cynicism is breathtaking.

Obama bails on Keystone to appease the environMENTALists

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Republicans Need To Exploit Obama’s War On Fossil Fuels

Posted by Fullcouch on January 19, 2012, 7:30pm

Remember when Obama said that under his watch “energy prices would necessarily skyrocket?”

Townhall – President Obama launched the New Year by blasting an unpopular Congress.

Following Obama’s successful outmaneuvering of Congressional Republicans over the payroll tax cut the President rammed through a recess appointment for Richard Cordray as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

By securing an estimated $40 a paycheck for the average family and appointing a consumer advocate, Obama is marketing himself as the savior of hardworking Americans by rescuing them from an ineffective Congress and Wall Street.

There is little doubt that economic issues will be a main factor in the 2012 election. Picking fights with Congress to highlight the President’s effort to help the “little guy” is a cornerstone of Obama’s re-election bid.

While the President is currently scoring short-term political points, his strategy may backfire if Republicans use the upcoming debate over the extension of the payroll tax cut to challenge Obama’s war on fossil fuels. They can do this by adding a pro-energy reform as part of the deal.

Obama’s war on fossil fuels is a big vulnerability for the President because it harms the prosperity of hardworking Americans. The issue illustrates the stark difference between what Obama says is good for average Americans and the reality of his policies.

High energy costs are an economic matter for Americans of every political persuasion. While Obama talks a good game regarding the welfare of hardworking Americans, his policies that raise energy prices will burden many families. Rising gasoline prices alone could easily negate the $40 tax savings from the payroll tax cut, but the Administration’s policies are unnecessarily pushing electricity prices higher as well.

All by itself, President Obama’s assault on coal – expected to be a main cause of predicted electricity price hikes — may have major implications for his re-election bid and the Democratic Senate majority.

Coincidently, key presidential swing states, including Michigan, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, derive over 45 percent of their electricity from coal – with some of these states generating over eighty percent of power from this source. Critically for Republican legislators looking for a way to recruit Senate Democrats to support lower-price, pro-energy reforms, each of these states also has Senate Democrats running for re-election.

With coal, Obama’s EPA is doing almost everything possible to bring about the President’s promise to make electricity prices “skyrocket.”

While Obama was pivoting around House and Senate Republicans with the end-of-year politics surrounding the payroll tax cut, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson was issuing the Utility MACT Rule – the most expensive regulation ever issued by the agency. According to the EPA, this rule will cost utilities almost $10 billion a year. Which is why it can’t help but cause substantially higher electricity prices for consumers.

The Utility MACT Rule and another new Obama Administration regulation, the Cross State Air Rule, both of which target coal-fired utilities, are estimated to result in up to double-digit utility rate increases and a loss of 1.4 million job-years by 2020.

Electricity price increases are being reported nationwide as a result of the EPA’s actions. In North Carolina, Duke Energy is seeking rate increases of 14 and 17 percent for households and businesses respectively, in Louisiana rates may go up 25 percent and in Chicago the rates may spike up to 60 percent.

Refusing to approve the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and the creation of an estimated associated 20,000 jobs (with the additional benefit of increasing our oil supplies from Canada at a time when Iran is rattling its saber) is but one example of the destructive nature of Obama’s energy policy.

In contrast, Congressional Republicans have consistently fought EPA’s overreach and, accordingly, have been on the right side of economic prosperity and the interests of lower and middle class citizens.

In addition to pushing for the construction of the Keystone pipeline, House Republicans, in a bipartisan effort, passed the Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation (TRAIN) Act of 2011 to slow down the EPA’s assault on our economy and coal-fired utilities.

In the Senate, Rand Paul (R-KY) led an unsuccessful effort to use the Congressional Review Act to stop the Cross State Air Rule. Senator Paul’s effort to stop the Cross State Air Rule was vindicated, as a federal court recently blocked the rule and its outcome will be determined later this year.

This presents reform-minded Republicans with an opportunity. If they attach a reform proposal, such as the TRAIN Act, to a high-profile issue such as the upcoming debate over the extension of the payroll tax cut, they can educate the voters in these states about the impact of Obama’s energy policies on their wallets.

Debating the pros and cons of the TRAIN Act would expose Obama’s role in driving electricity prices higher and apply pressure to Congressional Democrats to support pro-energy, lower-price reforms.

If Congressional Democrats recognize Obama’s attack on Congress provides meaningless benefits for their constituents while the President’s war on fossil fuels threatens their political future, they may resist being thrown under the President’s bus. After all, Democrats are part of Congress and, in fact, they control the Senate.

Given the political risk facing some Senate Democrats and Obama’s eagerness to run against Congress, Republicans might find some surprising support to stop Obama’s assault on fossil fuels.

GOP needs to attack Obama’s war on fossil fuels

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10 Reasons Mitt Romney Is In Trouble Over His Taxes

Posted by Fullcouch on January 19, 2012, 2:30pm

Daily Mail – It was all so avoidable. All Mitt Romney needed to do in Monday night’s debate when Rick Perry (in what may turn out to be his most enduring contribution to the 2012 race) asked him about his tax returns was to state that he would release them in April if he was the presumptive nominee.

That would have made news. He’d have agreed to disclose at the stage party nominees normally disclose and although his rivals would have kept demanding the returns now he’d have been able to stonewall fairly easily. Instead, he completely failed to answer the question. The following morning, yesterday, he was pressed into revealing that he paid a tax rate of just 15 percent on most of his income.

Here’s why Romney’s in big trouble over this:

1. This is a problem of his own making and will therefore give Republicans pause

Romney completely ignored Perry’s question. Even though that bought him some time, when the WSJ’s Kelly Evans, inevitably, brought it up again he gave a weirdly evasive and indecisive answer.

He initially said: “You know, I, I looked at what has been done in, in campaigns in the past, with Senator McCain and President George W. Bush and others. They’ve tended to release tax records in April, or tax season. I hadn’t planned on releasing tax records, because the law requires us to release all of our assets, all the things we own.

“That I’ve already released; it’s a pretty full disclosure. But, but, you know, if, if that’s been the tradition, then I’m not opposed to doing that. Time will tell. But I anticipate that most likely I’m going to get asked to do that around the April time period, and I’ll keep that open.”

When Evans asked simply, “Governor, you will plan, then, to release your income tax records around April?” it got even worse. Romney responded: “I, I think I’ve heard enough from folks saying, look, you know, let’s see your tax records. I have nothing in, in them that, to suggest there’s any problem, and I’m happy to do so.

“I, I, I, I sort of feel like we’re, we’re showing a lot of exposure at this point, and if I become our nominee I’m, and what’s happened in history is people have released them in about April of the coming year, and that’s probably what I’d do.”

A dreadful response. Although Romney has performed extremely well in the debates, this is not the kind of answer a Republican nominee should be giving in a debate against President Barack Obama in the autumn.

2. Chris Christie has said he needs to release his tax returns

This morning, Christie, a top Romney surrogate, charged straight off the reservation and said on NBC: “I would say if you have tax returns to put out, you know, you should put them out sooner rather than later, because it’s always better in my view to have complete disclosure, especially as the frontrunner.”

That effectively gives Romney little choice but to get his tax returns out this week. Otherwise, he’s going to get hammered in tomorrow’s debate in Charleston and it’ll look like he really goes have something to hide.

3. Romney’s own father released his tax returns early in the 1968 campaign

This boxes Romney in morally as well as politically. It could also make him extremely uncomfortable if confronted with his father’s own words in a debate. Romney reveres his father and is an intenseley private man. Again, it pushes him towards disclosure right now.

4. The Mormon thing

It’s barely reared its head here in South Carolina but from the Romney campaign’s point of view, I suspect, the tax issue is principally the Mormon issue. Throughout his life, Romney has tithed 10 percent of his income to charity. That’s a collosal amount of money – millions and millions of dollars.

Naturally, this money will have gone principally to Mormon-linked organisations. The tax returns will disclose which ones and prompt the media to crawl all over them asking questions about the charities, their practices and their rules. Quite sensibly, the Romney campaign doesn’t want this to happen until he’s got the nomination safey wrapped up.

5. Offshore investments

The peerless Brian Ross and his ABC colleagues report that Romney – as well as Bain Capital – has substantial offshore investments. They’re still subject to American tax laws but as Ross and Co point out these accounts “provided him – and Bain – with other potential financial benefits, such as higher management fees and greater foreign interest, all at the expense of the US Treasury”. For US Treasury, read American taxpayers.

6. Timing

The timing couldn’t be worse. There are just two full days before voting on Saturday. In the middle of that, there’s a debate. If Romney releases his tax returns, that will dominate the last 48 hours. If he doesn’t, his refusal will dominate just as much. It’s a Catch-22 situation. His best hope has to be that he’s far enough ahead in South Carolina for it not to matter and he wins anyway, even if it’s a squeaker.

7. The 15 percent rate plays right into Newt Gingrich’s hands

Gingrich is an erratic and undisciplined campaigner. But he’s also a clever and nimble one when the opportunity presents itself and he’s in the right mood. Gingrich already had a 15-percent flat tax plan.

After Romney revealed his tax rate, Gingrich quipped: “I think we ought to rename our flat tax,” Gingrich said Tuesday on the campaign trail. “We have a 15 percent flat tax. So this would be the ‘Mitt Romney flat tax’ that all Americans could then pay the rate Romney paid. I think that’s terrific.”

This is much better terrain for Gingrich that the class-warfare attacks on Romney’s time at Bain because it allows him to mock Romney while at the same time making a conservative case for a lower, flat tax rate for all.

8. Most Americans pay a much higher rate than 15 percent

America’s tax system is a complete mess. You need a degree in accountancy to understand it. There are some very good reasons for having low tax rates for investments. But Gingrich’s tax rate last year was 31 percent and Obama’s about 25 percent. Once you get into parsing the reasons for this on the stump then you’ve lost the argument.

Class warfare and proposals to increase taxes on the wealthy are hardly likely to turn the tide in a Republican primary battle. But there’s a real inequity here and it does not help Romney at all.

9. This feeds the “out of touch” meme about Romney

At the same time as revealing his 15 percent rate, Romney remarked that he earned “not very much” from speaking fees. In fact, he earned $374,327 from speaking fees last year – putting him way up in the top one percent of Americans.

This shows the same sort of tin ear as exhibited by Gingrich when he said that he made $60,000 a speech and was therefore incorruptible (the average household income for a family of four in South Carolina is about $58,000). After “I’m also unemployed” , “corporations are people”, $10,000 bets, “pink slips” and “I like firing people” it’s yet another unforced error by Romney on a similar theme.

10. The psychological effect – it hits Romney in a place where he feels beyond reproach

When John Kerry was assailed over his Vietnam war record in the 2004 campaign, the effectiveness of the attack was not just that it questioned Kerry’s truthfulness and even patriotism but that it hit him where it really hurt.

Kerry thought that Vietnam would be a huge net positive for him. When it suddenly looked like it could be an albatross it was a disorientating experience. The same thing is true of Romney and taxes. It goes to his business record with Bain and his charitable giving (colossal by the standards of any American).

Romney expected attacks on healthcare and flip-flopping. Having to defend himself on his business record and his personal wealth in a Republican primary could ruffle his usual calm – he’s proved brittle before in debates (particularly in the 2008 campaign) so tomorrow night will be a big test for him.

Why Mitt Romney is in trouble over his taxes

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