Monday, March 29, 2010

Great Quote. Too Bad We Don't Know Who Wrote It.

The current danger to America is not (primarily)Barack Obama but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with the presidency. It will be easier to limit and undo the follies of an Obama presidency than to restore the necessary common sense and good judgment to an electorate willing to have such a man for their president. The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Mr. Obama, who is a mere symptom of what ails us. Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince. The republic can survive a Barack Obama. It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools such as those who made him their president."

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Health Bill Fails The Country

House Republican leader John Boehner says congressional health care legislation fails the country and says Congress has failed to listen to America. Boehner drew hisses from Democrats as he criticized the Democratic overhaul of health coverage. He asked for Democrats to conduct a rare roll call vote on the bill. Democrats did not immediately agree.
Not a single Republican is expected to vote for the bill, a priority of President Barack Obama. Democratic leaders appear to have secured the votes to pass it. Boehner said the vote "disgraces" the values of history's lawmakers. And he said voters will hold House members to account for passing the bill.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Monday, March 15, 2010

Demand For Obama Wanes Among Democrats

Moderate House Democrats facing potentially difficult reelections this fall have a message for Barack Obama: Don’t call us; we’ll call you. Interviews with nearly a dozen congressional Democrats on the ballot this year reveal a decided lack of enthusiasm for having Obama come to their districts to campaign for them — the most basic gauge of a president’s popularity. Some cite the president’s surely busy schedule. Others point to a practice of not bringing in national politicians to appear on their behalf. While these members aren’t necessarily attempting to distance themselves from the administration, there is nevertheless a noticeable reluctance to embrace the president among a certain class of incumbent, now that Obama’s approval rating has fallen to a new low — 46 percent in the latest Gallup survey. It’s not an unusual development — President George W. Bush suffered a similar fate. As his popularity dipped and he became a more polarizing figure, few moderate Republicans wanted to be seen with him in their states for fear the association would be used against them by their rivals. The difference, however, is that Bush was narrowly elected twice in a country divided between red and blue states, while Obama shredded that map.With his success in the interior West and upper South, Obama was thought to be such a political asset that he could play almost anywhere in the country. But the sense of uncertainty over what to do with Obama seen last year in Virginia — in which Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds wrestled with whether to run with or from the president before ultimately embracing him in the campaign’s final weeks — now seems to be evolving into a firmer feeling among many centrist Democrats that they’d be better off without Obama appearing in their districts with them. The White House got a taste of the awkwardness to come last week in Missouri, when Democratic Senate candidate Robin Carnahan and Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.) were both no-shows at a fundraiser Obama keynoted in suburban St. Louis. (Sen. Claire McCaskill, an early Obama supporter who received some of the event’s proceeds for her 2012 reelection campaign, did attend.) Other Democrats want to spare Obama the trouble. “This will be my second election with a Democratic incumbent president, and what I’ve found is that their schedules are usually booked full — and so I don’t expect him,” said North Dakota Rep. Earl Pomeroy, whose campaign for a 10th term is shaping up as his most difficult yet.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Arizona Town Bans Bible Study

The pastor of the seven-member Oasis of Truth Church in Gilbert, AZ was ordered by a cease and desist letter to terminate religious meetings in his home, no matter the size or frequency, based on zoning regulations. The small church, which had held meetings in various members’ homes on a weekly rotation, met for just a few hours each week. The town cites its zoning codes which it contends prohibit churches from holding home meetings of any size. This includes Bible studies, potluck dinners or even three person church leadership meetings. The defense of the ban cites traffic, parking, and building safety concerns, yet doesn’t specifically prevent the likes of Cub Scout Meetings, football or business parties. In November, the church was ordered by letter from a Gilbert code compliance officer to terminate the church meetings in Pastor Joe Sutherland’s home. Although no complaints were cited, the termination order was a response to signs about the meetings near Sutherland’s home. In response, Sutherland ceased the meetings in December and requested clarification of the zoning code from the town’s zoning administrator. He was answered first with an informal response to his questions.The reply offered a more detailed and formal response in the form of a zoning interpretation, provided at a fee of $305, upholding the alleged basis for the ban. Attorneys for the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) have filed an appeal in the past week to overturn the decision. “Christian church groups shouldn’t be singled out for discrimination and banned from meeting in their own homes. The interpretation and enforcement of the town’s code is clearly unconstitutional. It bans 200,000 Gilbert residents from meeting in their private homes for organized religious purposes-an activity encouraged in the Bible, practiced for thousands of years, and protected by the First Amendment,” said ADF Litigation Counsel Daniel Bloomberg. The appeal argues, in part, that the Constitution’s Free Exercise Clause doesn’t permit a ban on church meetings where other meetings are permitted, and Arizona’s Free Exercise of Religion Act (FERA) protects “Arizona citizens’ right to exercise their religious beliefs free from undue government interference.” Meanwhile, the church holds a weekly meeting at a local school. Due to the rental costs and the size of the group, they’ve scaled back to meeting once a week on Sunday.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Business Groups Launch Ad against Health Care Bill

Major business groups Tuesday announced a multimillion-dollar ad campaign to stop President Barack Obama's health care overhaul as it approaches a make-or-break vote in the House. The ad buy, costing between $4 million and $10 million, will start Wednesday on national cable outlets. Later in the week, the campaign shifts to 17 states home to moderate and conservative Democrats. Their votes are critical to Obama's endgame for passing legislation to expand coverage and revamp the health insurance market. The timing of the ads comes as Obama is building up momentum in his final health care drive. But congressional Democratic leaders are still short of the votes to pass the bill, and they're courting many of the same lawmakers targeted by the business groups. Health insurance companies, excoriated by Obama over a recent spate of double-digit premium hikes, are helping to pay for the ads, said Bruce Josten, a top lobbyist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, coordinating the campaign. "Health care costs will go even higher under this bill, making things even more difficult for business," said Josten. "We are trying to tell Congress to stop with this bill and start over, and get it moving in a direction that makes it more affordable."In addition to the Chamber of Commerce, other groups in the coalition include the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Retail Federation, and groups representing the construction and food service industries. The business groups refused to release a list of the lawmakers they are targeting. Jeri Kubicki, an employee benefits expert with the manufacturing group, said employers are putting off hiring new workers because of concerns that the bill's passage would raise their costs. "There is too much uncertainty," she said. The script for the ad says, "Health care costs will go even higher, making a bad economy worse." It urges viewers to tell their lawmakers: "Stop this health care bill we can't afford to pay." Obama's plan would not require companies to provide coverage to their workers, but it would slap a hefty fee on firms whose workers end up getting taxpayer-subsidized policies through a new health insurance marketplace. Companies with 50 or fewer workers would be exempt. Small businesses with up to 25 workers would be eligible for federal assistance to provide coverage. Josten said the new requirements and penalties add up to a bad deal for business, and he predicted that fees on insurance companies, drug makers and other health industry players would be passed on to employers who provide coverage for most American workers and their families.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Northfield Arson Suspect Caught With Pants On Fire

The suspect in two arson fires, one of which damaged the Northfield City Hall, was caught with his pants on fire, according to police. Northfield police said Mark Cole, 43, set fire to his home on College Street, drove to city hall, parked between two vehicles and set his van on fire. The van fire destroyed the two other vehicles and caused smoke and water damage to city hall.
Mark Cole
According to police, a Rice County deputy saw Cole running away from city hall with his pants on fire. Cole was arrested. Police said Cole told them he was unemployed, behind on his mortgage payments and frustrated with the state and federal government. Police said he told them he set the fires wanted people to notice his problems. Cole is in jail and will likely be charged with arson.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Obama Now Selling Judgeships for Health Care Votes?

Barack Obama hosted ten House Democrats who voted against the health care bill in November at the White House; he's obviously trying to persuade them to switch their votes to yes. One of the ten is Jim Matheson of Utah. The White House just sent out a press release announcing that today President Obama nominated Matheson's brother Scott M. Matheson, Jr. to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. “Scott Matheson is a distinguished candidate for the Tenth Circuit court,” President Obama said. “Both his legal and academic credentials are impressive and his commitment to judicial integrity is unwavering. I am honored to nominate this lifelong Utahn to the federal bench.” Scott M. Matheson, Jr.: Nominee for the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. Scott M. Matheson currently holds the Hugh B. Brown Presidential Endowed Chair at the S.J. Quinney College of Law, University of Utah, where he has been a member of the faculty since 1985. He served as Dean of the Law School from 1998 to 2006. He also taught First Amendment Law at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government from 1989 to 1990. While on public service leave from the University of Utah from 1993 to 1997, Matheson served as United States Attorney for the District of Utah. In 2007, he was appointed by Governor Jon Huntsman to chair the Utah Mine Safety Commission. He also worked as a Deputy County Attorney for Salt Lake County from 1988 to 1989.Prior to joining the University faculty, Matheson was an associate attorney from 1981 to 1985 at Williams & Connolly LLP in Washington, D.C. Matheson was born and raised in Utah and is a sixth generation Utahn. He received an A.B. from Stanford University in 1975, an M.A. from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar, and a J.D. from Yale Law School in 1980. So, Scott Matheson appears to have the credentials to be a judge, but was his nomination used to buy off his brother's vote? Consider Congressman Matheson's record on the health care bill. He voted against the bill in the Energy and Commerce Committee back in July and again when it passed the House in November. But now he's "undecided" on ramming the bill through Congress. "The Congressman is looking for development of bipartisan consensus," Matheson's press secretary Alyson Heyrend wrote to THE WEEKLY STANDARD on February 22. "It’s too early to know if that will occur." Asked if one could infer that if no Republican votes in favor of the bill (i.e. if a bipartisan consensus is not reached) then Rep. Matheson would vote no, Heyrend replied: "I would not infer anything. I’d wait to see what develops, starting with the health care summit on Thursday." The timing of this nomination looks suspicious, especially in light Democratic Congressman Joe Sestak's claim that he was offered a federal job not to run against Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania primary. Many speculated that Sestak, a former admiral, was offered the Secretary of the Navy job.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Israeli DM: No Need to Coordinate With US on Attacking Iran

Suspected al-Qaida-linked militants raided a village in the southern Philippines early Saturday, killing 11 people in the country's worst militant attack on civilians in nine years. Gunmen from the extremist Abu Sayyaf group backed by renegade Muslim separatist rebels fired grenade launchers and automatic rifles on houses while residents were asleep, killing one government-armed militiaman and 10 civilians in the village of Tubigan on Basilan Island, said deputy regional police commander Sonny David. "The villagers were sleeping when the Abu Sayyaf came with their guns blazing. They spared no one, not even the children," David said. The attack came in the wake of the recent killing of an Abu Sayyaf commander and the arrest of two key members. Government forces had been told to be on alert for reprisal attacks. "It's a normal thing for them to retaliate," David said. "We're not lowering our guards, particularly at soft targets like markets, schools, churches, piers and public utility terminals." Four children were among those killed, said armed forces spokesman Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner. He corrected an earlier report that the target of the attack was the village's militia detachment. "They really attacked the villagers," he said. One of the villagers, who are mostly citrus farmers, told police he was awakened by the sound of gunfire and saw blood oozing from his body, David said. The gunmen strafed and torched at least 10 houses before escaping, David said. A 32-year-old woman and her 1-year-old daughter burned to death in their house, he said. At least 11 who suffered burns and gunshot wounds were taken by boat to two hospitals in the nearby port city of Zamboanga, hospital staff said. David said about 70 Abu Sayyaf gunmen backed by rogue elements of the Muslim separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front were involved in the attack.Mohagher Iqbal, the chief rebel negotiator in peace talks with the government, said his group's local cease-fire committee reported no members of the Moro front were involved. It was the worst attack on civilians since 2001, when militants seized dozens of villagers and later beheaded nine farmers and shot to death another in Basilan's Lamitan township. Basilan Island is about 550 miles (880 kilometers) south of Manila. It is one of several islands where the Abu Sayyaf is active. Abu Sayyaf commander Albader Parad - wanted for murder and kidnappings, including last year's abduction of three Red Cross workers - was killed last weekend during a raid on his camp on Jolo Island farther south of Basilan. A day earlier, police captured Mujibar Alih Amon, an alleged Abu Sayyaf logistics officer who took part in the 2000 abduction of American Muslim convert Jeffrey Schilling, who later escaped, and 21 Western tourists and staff of a Malaysian resort earlier that year. Last week, security forces captured Jumadali Arad, who allegedly operated the speedboat used in the abduction of 20 hostages snatched from a southwestern resort in 2001. The hostages included three Americans, two of whom were later killed. In the last six years of U.S.-backed counterterrorism strikes, Philippine security forces have killed or arrested more than 800 suspected militants, including 12 in February alone, said Justice Undersecretary Ricardo Blancaflor. The Abu Sayyaf, which is fighting to create an Islamic state in the predominantly Christian nation, still has about 400 fighters. It is on the U.S. list of terrorist organizations. Saturday's attack came a day after security forces rescued two Chinese nationals in nearby Sumisip township. The two men were abducted by suspected militants from a plywood factory in Maluso in November. A Filipino worker who was seized along with them was earlier beheaded by the kidnappers.