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September 28, 2011

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PAT CADDELL, DOUG SCHOEN, JOHN LeBOUTILLIER – The CAMPAIGN CONFIDENTIAL Team – FOXNews GOP DEBATE

September 22, 2011

Pat Caddell, Doug Schoen and John LeBoutillier – The CAMPAIGN CONFIDENTIAL Team – will participate on Thursday night’s Fox/Google/YouTube GOP Presidential debate coverage onFoxnews.com.

This debate is certain to feature a concerted effort by the other seven GOP candidates to knock Rick Perry off his front-runner pedestal. Look for fireworks Thursday night.

Beginning at 8:30 PM ET, go to www.live.foxnews.com and watch us – along with Dana Perino, Juan Williams and others – do a live, 30-minute pre-debate show.

Then stay with us at 9 PM ET for the actual debate; then at 10:45PM ET, we will be back to do live, post-debate analysis until 11:30 PM ET – all onwww.live.foxnews.com

Also, you can see and hear John LeBoutillier on Friday morning at 6:35AM ET on IMUS IN THE MORNING on radio in your area (77WABC in the New York area) and on the Fox Business Network.

GEORGE WILL: Obstructing the right to recall – The Washington Post

September 21, 2011

Obstructing the right to recall

By George F. Will, Wednesday, September 21, 4:51 PM

The pleasant sound you hear — the clatter of bad laws crumbling — is the edifice of campaign finance restrictions disintegrating. Washington state provides a fresh example of the exhaustion of the “campaign finance reform” project, which tries to empower government to restrict speech about the composition and conduct of government.

The state law at issue is awful, but usefully awful: It perfectly illustrates how the political class crafts campaign regulations for the purpose of protecting the job security of members of that class — elected incumbents.

Pierce County, near Seattle, has an assessor-treasurer, Dale Washam, whose comportment in office has offended Robin Farris and others. The details about what Washam has done to stir a recall clamor need not concern us; courts consider whether the details are sufficiently grave before allowing a recall election to proceed. For the record, the Tacoma News Tribune says Washam’s two-year tenure “has turned a minor government office into a fountain of perpetual controversy. . . . Investigations state that Washam retaliated against his employees, wasted government resources, abused his power and hindered the inquiries. Costs of those investigations and other legal matters tied to Washam’s office now exceed $108,000. The four damage claims — preludes to lawsuits — seek a collective total of $4.25 million.”

via Obstructing the right to recall – The Washington Post.

Why PERRY’S CONSERVATISM May Help in a GENERAL ELECTION « Commentary Magazine

September 21, 2011

Why Perry’s Conservatism May Help in a General Election

BY Seth Mandel  09.20.2011

Michael Gerson writes today he is confident GOP primary voters will nominate Mitt Romney over Rick Perry because Romney seems to be the “safe” candidate at a turbulent hour in American economic history. Gerson writes that Republicans prefer to elect known quantities and are wary of nationally-untested firebrands.

“None of these historical precedents make Romney a shoo-in,” Gerson writes. “But they indicate his prospects are better than his current polling.” That’s probably true, and some polls–especially state polls–indicate Romney is still in the game. But Romney’s “safety” isn’t the advantage Gerson thinks it is, and more importantly, many writers and pundits are probably underestimating the appeal of Perry’s unapologetic conservatism to general election voters as well as Republican primary voters.

Perry does favor low taxes and is generally suspicious of heavy-handed regulation. But his record suggests he is not the absolutist he seems to be at first glance, and when he strays from such orthodoxy it is in favor of policies that are both more conservative and more palatable to the voting public.

Two of the most prominent examples of this are tort reform and Texas state housing regulations. To be sure, Perry does not get the credit for enacting one major piece of legislation, which limited mortgage borrowing to 80 percent or less of the borrower’s home value, preventing risky loans and shaky mortgages that contributed to the housing crisis. That legislation was passed under George W. Bush’s governorship. But Perry did, as Reason pointed out recently, resist the push to relax such laws around the country to make home ownership more available, especially to the poor. Many Republicans buckled under the pressure to expand ownership. Perry didn’t. Whose constituents fared better?

And as for tort reform, Perry has signed into law two pieces of legislation Republicans nationwide hoped–in vain–would be part of national health care reform efforts. In 2003, Texas passed a law limiting noneconomic damage payouts in medical malpractice cases, ensuring patients were still fully protected by the law while creating a more beneficial medical environment for both patients and doctors. And earlier this year, Texas passed a loser-pays law designed to limit frivolous lawsuits. As Ryan Brannan of the Texas Public Policy Foundation notes, the 2003 law has been a success, giving Texans high hopes for this year’s bill as well.

Both these reforms–limiting the lawsuit free-for-all that has been so damaging to health care nationally and the housing legislation that emphasizes personal responsibility and fiscal sanity–are undeniably conservative reforms. The argument Perry is “too conservative” for the electorate begins to crumble when you look at Perry’s record. His conservative ideology helped shield Texas from the post-bubble housing crisis and increased the availability of health care in his state without limiting personal freedom.

Gerson is right that Romney has a good resume–he’s been an executive in the public and private sectors with some impressive successes under his belt. But Romney’s lack of ideological consistency, while giving him credibility as a nimble and centrist problem-solver, faces a tough test when compared with Perry’s record. Conservatives have been making the case for stability and predictability in the tax code because people need to know what the likely result of their decisions will be. For the same reasons, Perry’s ideological consistency, buoyed by his state’s successful approach to housing policy and medical liability, will be reassuring to many voters.

via Why Perry’s Conservatism May Help in a General Election « Commentary Magazine.

Shutdown? House votes to reject SHORT-TERM SPENDING MEASURE – The Hill

September 21, 2011

Shutdown? House votes to reject short-term spending measure

By Russell Berman and Pete Kasperowicz – 09/21/11

The House stunned Republican leaders Wednesday by rejecting a temporary spending bill that would have funded the government through Nov. 18.

The vote failed, 195-230, after Democrats pulled their support for the bill and Republican leaders were forced to scramble for enough votes entirely within their own ranks. Four dozen conservatives voted against the bill because it left spending levels for 2012 higher than the cap set in the House GOP budget.

The defeat hands leverage to congressional Democrats in a dispute over federal disaster funding. Democratic leaders objected to a GOP provision cutting funding from a Department of Energy manufacturing loan program to offset additional money for disaster relief.

The House and Senate must pass a spending bill by Sept. 30 to keep the government running into the next fiscal year. Both chambers are scheduled to be out on recess next week.

The defeat was a stinging loss for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who pitched the measure to his conference as the lowest spending number they could get.

House GOP leaders retreated to the Speaker’s office after the vote to plot their next move.

“We are focused on trying to change the way business is done in Washington. Change like this is hard,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told reporters after the vote. “We’ll find a way forward so that we can reflect the expectations that taxpayers have that we are going to begin to start spending their money more prudently.”

Asked if the bill’s defeat increased the possibility of a government shutdown, Cantor replied: “I don’t think so.”

via Shutdown? House votes to reject short-term spending measure – The Hill’s Floor Action.

RICK PERRY unveils 48 NH, SC endorsements – Campaign 2012

September 21, 2011

Perry unveils 48 NH, SC endorsements

By Joel Gehrke Commentary Staff Writer

Gov. Rick Perry made a show of strength today in early primary states, revealing 48 legislative endorsements in New Hampshire and South Carolina combined on the day before the presidential debate in Orlando, Fla.

Perry’s campaign emphasized that the New Hampshire “triple the number of legislative endorsements announced by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney last week,” campaign manager Rob Johnson said, “and he’s been running for president continually for four years.”

Perry’s campaign also released the names of his South Carolina Steering Committee, comprised of 21 South Carolina law makers. “These conservative leaders understand that our nation cannot afford four more years of an administration that is trying to tax and spend our nation to prosperity,” Perry said in the announcement.

Perry and Romney traded shots today, as throughout recent weeks, over their respective economic records, with Romney’s campaign hitting Perry as “Governor Sub-Zero” and Perry’s team noting the weak job creation in Massachusetts during Romney’s term as governor.

via Perry unveils 48 NH, SC endorsements | Campaign 2012.

ISSA’S COMMITTEE: Obama’s ‘green jobs’ push is ‘propaganda’ – The Hill

September 21, 2011

Issa’s committee: Obama’s ‘green jobs’ push is ‘propaganda’

By Andrew Restuccia – 09/21/11

President Obama’s push to create “green jobs” is “nothing more than a propaganda tool” that has resulted in minimal benefits for the economy, a report set to be released by Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Thursday says.

The staff report, which was obtained by The Hill, is the latest missive in a frontal assault by Republicans on the Obama administration’s pledge to create millions of green jobs.

“The metric of a ‘green job’ is nothing more than a propaganda tool designed to provide legitimacy to a pre-determined outcome that benefits a political ideology rather than the economy or the environment,” the report says.

The report comes amid intensifying criticism from Republicans of Obama’s clean energy agenda, which includes investments in low-carbon energy sources like wind and solar.

Solyndra, a California-based solar company that received a $535 million stimulus-law loan guarantee from the Obama administration in 2009, said in late August it would file for bankruptcy and lay off 1,100 workers.

The incident has drawn the ire of Republicans, who say the administration missed red flags that hinted at the company’s financial troubles in its rush to invest in clean energy companies. They also allege that politics swayed the final decision on the loan guarantee.

The White House has strongly denied the allegations.

Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is holding a hearing Thursday called “How Obama’s Green Energy Agenda in Killing Jobs.” Issa will unveil the report at the hearing, which will include testimony from Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and Bureau of Labor Statistics Commissioner Keith Hall.

via Issa’s committee: Obama’s ‘green jobs’ push is ‘propaganda’ – The Hill’s E2-Wire.

BYRON YORK: Perry hits Romney: ‘We don’t need Obama lite’ – Campaign 2012

September 21, 2011

Perry hits Romney: ‘We don’t need Obama lite’

By Byron York Chief Political Correspondent

ORLANDO — In the hours before another high-profile Republican debate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is leveling some of the campaign’s sharpest rhetoric yet at rival Mitt Romney.  In an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity Wednesday night, Perry said Republicans “don’t need to nominate Obama lite — someone who’s going to blur the lines between President Obama and our nominee.”

When Hannity noted that, in Republican circles, “Obama lite” is a “pretty rough term,” Perry explained, “I think it’s important that we have a clear distinction between the candidates.  When you take a look at what Mitt did from the standpoint of Romneycare in Massachusetts, you’re going to have a hard time finding a difference between Obamacare and Romneycare.”  With that answer, Perry left no doubt that “Obama lite” refers to just one person: Mitt Romney.

The response from the Romney camp late Wednesday night suggested the campaign’s charges and countercharges are becoming more personal.  “It’s amusing to listen to Al Gore’s campaign chairman from Texas lecture Republicans on who they should nominate for president,” Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said.  “What we need to turn around this bad economy is Mitt Romney, who has a solid record of accomplishment creating jobs in the private sector.”

Perry’s stepped-up rhetoric comes amid a growing sense that his campaign has lost altitude in recent days.  Recent polls have shown Romney narrowing Perry’s lead, and a survey in South Carolina showed Perry’s margin shrinking from 20 points to just four.  The Perry and Romney camps spent the day before the debate lobbing attack press releases at each other on the subjects of jobs, Social Security, and health care.

On Social Security, it had appeared in recent days that Perry was subtly backing away from his use of the phrase “Ponzi scheme.” He did not use the words in an op-ed on Social Security for USA Today, and he did not use them in the last Republican debate except to say that others have also used “Ponzi scheme” to describe Social Security.  But on Wednesday night, Perry made clear he’s still willing to use the term, saying at one point that young people “know what a Ponzi scheme is” when they look at Social Security.  A moment later, Perry said, “I agree that this is a Ponzi scheme for our young people.”  So Perry appears to be all in on the “Ponzi scheme” question.

The debate, sponsored by Fox News, Google, and the Republican Party of Florida, is scheduled for 9 p.m. Thursday night in Orlando.

via Perry hits Romney: ‘We don’t need Obama lite’ | Campaign 2012.

PALESTINIANS won’t accept VOTE delay on UN BID – AP WIRE

September 21, 2011

Sep 21, 4:16 PM EDT

Palestinians won’t accept vote delay on UN bid

By TAREK EL-TABLAWY and STEVEN R. HURST – Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — A top Palestinian official said Wednesday that President Mahmoud Abbas would accept no political delays on his bid for membership in the United Nations, rejecting mounting pressure from the United States and France to first return to negotiations with Israel.

The Palestinians plan to submit their letter of application on Friday when Abbas is to speak to the U.N. General Assembly, but he faced a withering lack of support as the world body opened its annual meeting. President Barack Obama said there could be no “shortcuts” in the quest for Middle East peace, a message that was echoed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

“We will not allow any political manoeuvring on this issue,” said Saeb Erekat, a senior aide to Abbas and former chief of negotiations.

Erekat said Abbas had made that plain in discussions with all parties involved over the last three days of meetings in the lead-up to the annual UN global gathering of presidents, heads of state and ruling royalty.

Sarkozy proposed a one-year timetable Wednesday for Israel and the Palestinians to reach a peace accord, part of a concerted push with the United States to steer the Palestinians away from an application for U.N. membership.

Sarkozy spoke shortly after Obama warned against action on the Palestinian bid before there was a peace agreement. He said negotiations, not U.N. declarations, were essential to a lasting peace.

While Obama stopped short of calling directly for the Palestinians to drop their bid for full membership – an effort the U.S. has vowed to veto in the Security Council – Sarkozy sounded a more compromising tone and urged each side, and the international community, to approach the deadlocked process with new ideas and tactics.

via Daily Record | Morris County NJ | AP Wire.

US Stocks Drop After Fed Announce ‘OPERATION TWIST’; DJIA Down 1.3% – WSJ.com

September 21, 2011

US Stocks Drop After Fed Announcement; DJIA Down 1.3%

SEPTEMBER 21, 2011, 3:45 P.M. ET

By Jonathan Cheng

U.S. stocks dropped as investors questioned the effectiveness of the Federal Reserve’s latest unconventional attempt to bolster the faltering U.S. economy.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 148 points, or 1.3%, to 11260. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index shed 19 points, or 1.6%, to 1183 and the Nasdaq Composite lost 14 points, or 0.6%, to 2575.

The bulk of the declines came late in the trading day, after the Fed said it would increase its share of longer-term Treasurys by $400 billion by June 2012 in an effort to make credit cheaper and spur spending and investment.

The policy move, dubbed “Operation Twist,” effectively changes the composition of its securities portfolio so it holds more longer-term debt. To help keep mortgage rates low, the Fed also said it would reinvest the proceeds from maturing agency debt and mortgage-backed securities into mortgage-related debt.

While the market had largely expected the news, investors remained skeptical about the long-term effectiveness of the action to spur borrowing, hiring and spending. Underscoring the broad-based skepticism, three out of 10 voting officials opposed the action at the conclusion of a two-day meeting of the Fed’s policy making body — the Federal Open Market Committee — highlighting continued divisions within the central bank as it tries unorthodox new ways to provide support to the economy.

“The twist is like a popsicle when you have a sore throat — it makes you feel good but it doesn’t address the underlying disease, and the disease is confidence, not that liquidity is too expensive,” said Ron Florance, managing director of investing strategy and asset allocation for Wells Fargo Private Bank. “The Fed has been as accommodative as it can, and now it’s the other side of the balance sheet that needs to make a longer-term prudent fiscal policy…The super-committee on the budget is really the one that people are waiting for now.”

via US Stocks Drop After Fed Announcement; DJIA Down 1.3% – WSJ.com.

PERRY Brings ISRAEL to the Forefront – WSJ.com

September 21, 2011

POLITICAL DIARYSEPTEMBER 21, 2011, 1:45 P.M. ET

Perry Brings Israel to the Forefront

By CARL J. KELM

In recent days, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has revived Israel as a campaign-trail topic, despite the fact that foreign policy has played but a small role in the GOP primary so far.

Mr. Perry’s newfound interest in the Middle East dovetails with a Palestinian effort to secure recognition from the United Nations and a Republican special election win in a New York congressional district with a large number of Jewish voters. The Texan’s latest move, after publishing op-eds in The Wall Street Journal and in the Jerusalem Post, was speaking alongside American and Israeli leaders Tuesday at a Manhattan event.

Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry during a press conference with American and Israeli Jewish leaders in New York.

“We would not be here today at the precipice of such a dangerous move,” he said, referring to the Palestinian gambit, “if the Obama policy in the Middle East wasn’t naïve, arrogant, misguided and dangerous.”

The Texan’s views on the subject aren’t necessarily unique for a Republican candidate, but his decision to highlight Israel, a topic thus far neglected in the campaign, could be strategically useful. If the Jewish vote (or, more accurately, a greater-than-usual share of it) is indeed in play in 2012, taking a strong stand in Israel’s defense could help drive a wedge between Mr. Obama and a traditionally Democratic constituency.

But highlighting Israel could also be helpful in the primary. Showing leadership in this area allows Mr. Perry to cover up a foreign policy weakness that many governors share.

via Perry Brings Israel to the Forefront – WSJ.com.

23,000 NURSES to STRIKE California hospitals Thursday – SF Chronicle

September 21, 2011

Michele Anders (center) and Deirdre Power, Kaiser Permanente nurses, make picket signs at the California Nurses Association headquarters in Oakland in preparation for Thursday’s planned strike.

Nurses to strike California hospitals Thursday

Victoria Colliver, Chronicle Staff Writer

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

As many as 23,000 registered nurses are expected to walk off their jobs Thursday at Kaiser Permanente, Children’s Hospital Oakland and many Sutter Health medical centers in Northern and Central California.

The Kaiser strike – which will involve about 17,000 nurses represented by the California Nurses Association-National Nurses United – is in sympathy with 1,500 mental health and optometry employees at Kaiser facilities in Northern California represented by the National Union of Healthcare Workers.

Mental health workers at Kaiser said they’re striking over proposed cuts to their health and retirement benefits, and what they described as exceptionally long wait times for patients to receive individual psychiatric care. They are also expected to be joined by another 2,000 equipment engineers from another union.

Registered nurses at Children’s Hospital Oakland and Sutter Health centers are also holding a one-day walkout Thursday, but the strike is over their ongoing contract disputes at those facilities. In total, 34 hospitals in Northern and Central California will be affected by Thursday’s labor action.

Officials from the hospitals affected by the strikes said they will continue to provide care by hiring replacement workers and rescheduling elective procedures.

via Nurses to strike California hospitals Thursday.

BREAKING NEWS: Americans freed from prison leave Iran – AP Wire

September 21, 2011

Americans freed from prison leave Iran

Sep 21, 1:35 PM EDT

By ALI AKBAR DAREINI – Associated Press

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Two Americans jailed in Iran as spies left Tehran on Wednesday bound for the Gulf state of Oman, closing a high-profile drama with archfoe Washington that brought more than two years of hope then heartbreak for the families.

In the end, however, Iran’s clerics opted for a near mirror image of last year’s release of a third American captured with the other two – opening the doors of Tehran’s Evin prison in exchange of $500,00 bail each while Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was preparing for the spotlight in New York for the U.N.’s annual gathering of world leaders.

Although the fate of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal gripped America, it was on the periphery of the larger showdowns between Washington and Tehran that include Iran’s nuclear program and its ambitions to widen military and political influence in the Middle East and beyond. But – for a moment at the United Nations at least – U.S. officials and rights group may be adding words of thanks in addition to their calls for alarm over Iran.

Iran’s state news agency IRNA said Bauer and Fattal left Iran just as darkness fell in the capital Tehran. The fast-moving final steps – from the gray prison gates to Tehran’s urban Mehrabad airport in a diplomatic convoy – came after a week of mixed signals and political brinksmanship within Iran’s leadership.

It began last week with Ahmadinejad promising their release within days. But then came the voice of the hard-line ruling clerics, who have waged a stinging campaign against the president and his allies in recent months as part of power struggle.

The clerics’ appeared to be sending a message that only they have the power to set the timing and ground rules to release the men, who were detained along with friend Sarah Shourd along the Iran-Iraq border in July 2009. The three strongly denied the charges of espionage and said they were merely hikers in Iraq’s relatively peaceful Kurdistan region who wandered close to Iran’s border.

An Omani official told The Associated Press the men were flying to the capital, Muscat. He added that family members are in Muscat to be reunited with Bauer and Fattal. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. He did not say how long the two men will stay in the Gulf state before heading home to America.

This was the same route followed by last September by Shourd, who received a marriage proposal from Bauer while in prison. Oman has close relations with Tehran and Washington and has acted as mediator in the releases and the apparent transfer of the bail money because of U.S. economic sanctions on Iran. Oman plays a strategic role in the region by sharing control with Iran of the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, which is the route for 40 percent of the world’s oil tanker traffic.

In one possible parting shot by Iran, the release came just minutes before President Barack Obama addressed the U.N. General Assembly. There was no direct evidence that Iran timed the American’s freedom to overshadow Obama’s speech, but Iran has conducted international political stagecraft in the past.

Most famously, Iran waited until just moments after Ronald Reagan’s presidential inauguration in January 1981 to free 52 American hostages held for 444 days at the former U.S. Embassy after it was stormed by militants backing Iran’s Islamic Revolution. The timing was seen as a way to embarrass ex-President Jimmy Carter for his backing of Iran’s former monarch.

Associated Press reporters saw a convoy of vehicles with Swiss and Omani diplomats leaving Evin prison bound for Mehrabad airport, which is near Tehran’s massive Azadi Square. The site is used for military parades but also was a temporary hub for protesters after Ahmadinejad’s disputed re-election in 2009.

Switzerland represents American interests in Iran because the U.S. has no diplomatic relations with Tehran since after the storming of the embassy.

“I have finished the job that I had to do as their lawyer,” said their defense attorney Masoud Shafiei. He obtained signatures of two judges on a bail-for-freedom deal. A $1 million bail – $500,000 for each one – was posted.

via Daily Record | Morris County NJ | AP Wire.

SARAH PALIN: Rhetoric of Class Warfare – Parts 1 & 2 – FoxNews – VIDEO

September 21, 2011

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GOVERNMENT SPENDING: Justice Department’s $16 muffins don’t sit well – latimes.com

September 21, 2011

Justice Department’s $16 muffins don’t sit well

September 21, 2011 |  9:31 am

Remember the Pentagon’s $600 toilet seats and $400 hammers?

Now, the $16 muffins at a Justice Department conference are causing, well, heartburn.

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, is steamed over a Justice Department inspector general audit that found apparently “extravagant and potentially wasteful” expenses at conferences, including $16 muffins and coffee and tea that cost as much as $8 per 8-ounce cup.

“The Justice Department appears to be blind to the economic realities our country is facing,” Grassley said in a statement.

“The inspector general’s office just gave a blueprint for the first cuts that should be made by the super committee,” he added, referring to the panel tasked with reducing the federal budget deficit.

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), who chairs the House appropriations subcommittee that oversees Justice Department spending, also weighed in with his displeasure over the food and beverage tab for conferences.

“It is clear that while American taxpayers were tightening their belts and making difficult financial decisions, the department was splurging on wasteful snacks and drinks as well as unnecessary event planning ‘consultants,'” he said in a letter to U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric Holder.

via Justice Department’s $16 muffins don’t sit well – latimes.com.

ANDREW C. McCARTHY: The SOLYNDRA Non-Investigation – National Review Online

September 21, 2011

The Solyndra Non-Investigation

Bankruptcy examiners aren’t prosecutors.

ANDREW C. McCARTHY

SEPTEMBER 21, 2011 4:00 A.M.

As Andrew Stiles reported Tuesday on NRO, House Judiciary Committee chairman Lamar Smith (R., Texas) has written to Attorney General Eric Holder to seek the appointment of a special bankruptcy investigator in the Solyndra case. The operative word here is bankruptcy. The bankruptcy process conducted under the supervision of a trustee is very different from a criminal investigation conducted by a prosecutor. For those hoping for a full accounting of the $535 billion Solyndra debacle, there is less to Representative Smith’s request than meets the eye.

In my weekend column, I explained that if the Solyndra case came walking into a competent prosecutor’s office, the theory of the investigation would be fraud. We have the loss of over half a billion dollars in public money (in the form of government credits), which was pledged to back a company that had a hopelessly flawed business model and that was gushing losses with no realistic prospect of a turn-around. We have grossly misleading rosy-scenario pronouncements by key players (including President Obama and Vice President Biden) at a time when Solyndra backers were gearing up an initial public offering of stock — and when Solyndra’s independent auditors had issued a dire warning that it was doubtful the company could continue as a going concern. In addition, we have executive-branch officials renegotiating the loan arrangement so that corporate insiders, including Obama administration cronies, would be given priority over taxpayers in the liquidation of assets when the company inevitably went belly-up — a novation that appears to be as illegal as it is inexplicable.

But what is happening with Chairman Smith’s letter to Attorney General Holder is not what happens when a case comes in the door at a prosecutor’s office. Smith is not asking Holder for an ordinary criminal investigation in the sense of having federal prosecutors and agents pursue the case as they see fit.

To be sure, Smith would be delighted if that were an option. Alas, it is not, for three reasons. First, the deep and suspect involvement of the Obama administration in the facts of the case leaves the Holder Justice Department ineradicably conflicted when it comes to investigating Solyndra. Second, the conflict would not be cured if Holder were to appoint a quasi-independent counsel — i.e., one who would still ultimately report to Holder, or to other high-ranking political appointees in the Obama Justice Department if Holder were to recuse himself. Third, because prosecution is an executive-branch function, the appointment of a fully independent counsel would be legally dubious — and even if that weren’t so, independent-counsel investigations have a sorry history that we shouldn’t want to see repeated, regardless of which party is in power.

via The Solyndra Non-Investigation – Andrew C. McCarthy – National Review Online.

GOOGLE cozies up to GOP – POLITICO.com

September 21, 2011

Google cozies up to GOP

By MIKE ZAPLER | 9/21/11 4:32 AM EDT Updated: 9/21/11 10:34 AM EDT

Google has long been known as Barack Obama’s BFF: The company and its employees made the Top 5 list of contributors to the president’s 2008 campaign. Its executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, endorsed Obama and donated $25,000 to his inauguration fund. And Obama tapped Schmidt as an unpaid adviser.

But that’s all so 2008.

In 2012, the search giant based in bright blue Silicon Valley has wrapped itself in red, hiring a string of Republicans and even hosting a GOP presidential debate Thursday night with Fox News.

Tech observers say Google is finally wising up politically: Playing clear favorites with one party or the other was bound to backfire in Washington.

But neither the company’s reputation as liberal corporate poster child, nor its more recent rightward tack seem to be paying off so far.

Schmidt will raise his right hand to testify under oath before the Senate antitrust subcommittee Wednesday and likely be grilled by Democrats and Republicans alike about whether the company is abusing its position as the world’s primary gateway to information on the Web.

The hearing is a rare instance of bipartisan harmony, orchestrated by a staunch Democrat and a tea party Republican who both have voiced concerns about whether Google is leveraging its dominance in search to trample competitors and steer people to its own products.

via Google cozies up to GOP – Mike Zapler – POLITICO.com.

Audio Tapes Reveal More Details In ‘FAST AND FURIOUS’ Gunrunner Scandal – Fox News

September 21, 2011

Audio Tapes Reveal More Details in ‘Fast and Furious’ Gunrunner Scandal

By William Lajeunesse

Published September 21, 2011 | FoxNews.com

In a series of secretly recorded audio tapes, the owner of the gun store that sold a record number of weapons in Operation Fast and Furious admittedly sounds arrogant, crude and complicit in the U.S. government’s plan to sell high powered assault rifles to the Sinaloa Cartel.

However, the lawyer representing the Lone Wolf Trading Co. says owner Andre Howard made the tapes only after he suspected he was being lied to, and his language is meant to get Hope MacAllister, an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, to implicate herself and her agency in their illegal gun running scheme.

“He became very suspicious and in his own defense would tape key conversations with Ms. MacAllister and try to get her to make admissions about the truth of the matter,” said Dallas attorney Larry Gaydos. “Andre was trying to get her to admit that indeed they let guns go to Mexico.”

Howard has become a key witness in the congressional investigation of the Department of Justice and its alleged cover up of Operation Fast and Furious. The Justice Department has repeatedly said it did not allow guns — purchased under its direction and authority — to reach Mexico.

The facts in the case suggest otherwise, but the agency continues to deny it and refuses to turn over pertinent documents to Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

via Audio Tapes Reveal More Details In ‘Fast And Furious’ Gunrunner Scandal | Fox News.

HOLMAN W. JENKINS, JR.: The Google Problem Isn’t Antitrust – WSJ.com

September 21, 2011

The Google Problem Isn’t Antitrust

Think privacy, not monopoly.

BUSINESS WORLD SEPTEMBER 20, 2011, 10:58 P.M. ET

By HOLMAN W. JENKINS, JR.

Google’s critics get a chance to vent today, using the invective of antitrust. A hearing of the Senate antitrust subcommittee is also something of a swan song for its retiring chairman, the estimable Herb Kohl.

Mr. Kohl has not always been especially fastidious in applying antitrust to the facts at hand. He once summoned Bush antitrust officials to rake them over the coals about a proposed merger of AirTran and Midwest Airlines, two small airlines, and decidedly not a case of monopolization. He insisted trustbusters should nevertheless nix a deal, citing his family’s own unhappy sale of a Wisconsin grocery chain to an out-of-state company: “This experience has taught me firsthand what dangers can ensue and, in fact, happen when people from somewhere else take over a business.”

Right. Whatever the purpose of antitrust, it’s not to prevent people from “somewhere else” from taking over a business, and neither is antitrust a particularly apt bludgeon for the real concerns raised by Google.

Google will be accused of having a “monopoly” on search, though its market share is only 65%, and it charges consumers nothing for its services.

It will be pointed out that this market share is deceiving; Google’s share of search-related advertising revenues is 75%, but then advertising is much bigger than search. TV, radio, the print press, billboards, direct mail and the advertising blimp are not controlled by Google.

It will be charged that Google is using its strength in search to annex new businesses, but unless Google can be fitted with the retrospective legal moniker “monopoly,” Google is entitled to insist that the success of its ventures comes because they meet the needs of users, not because users are deprived of choice.

It will be said Google favors its own services in search results, which might be consumer fraud if true. But unless and until Google is found to be a monopolist, it’s also entitled to claim that its search algorithms are per se justified since consumers are free to use another search engine if not completely satisfied.

via Jenkins: The Google Problem Isn’t Antitrust – WSJ.com.

GALLUP POLL: More blame President Obama for economy – POLITICO.com

September 21, 2011

Twenty-four percent of Americans say Obama deserves ‘a great deal of blame.’ | AP Photo Close

Poll: More blame President Obama for economy

By MJ LEE | 9/21/11 6:38 AM EDT

For the first time since President Barack Obama took office, a majority of Americans believe he deserves at least some blame for the country’s economic troubles, a new poll Wednesday shows.

According to the USA Today/Gallup survey, 24 percent of Americans say Obama deserves “a great deal of blame” for the state of the economy – a 10 point jump since 2009. A majority of Americans, including six out of 10 independents, think the president deserves “a great deal or moderate” amount of blame.

The poll also finds the public’s pessimism about the economy is growing deeper – 8 out of 10 say the the country is in a recession, and a similar number of people think it hasn’t improved in the last year.

The public’s future economic outlook has also taken a downturn, with 61 percent of those polled predicting the economy will be “the same or worse” in a year. In 2009, only 35 percent of people believed that the economy would be the same or worse in a year.

via Poll: More blame President Obama for economy – MJ Lee – POLITICO.com.

PERRY & ROMNEY: Election 2012: Republican Presidential Primary – Rasmussen Reports™

September 21, 2011

Election 2012: Republican Presidential Primary

National GOP Primary: Perry 28%, Romney 24%

Wednesday, September 21, 2011 Email to a Friend ShareThis

As of now, the 2012 Republican Presidential Primary race is all about Texas Governor Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, with no other candidate reaching double-digit support.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely GOP Primary voters shows Perry with 28% support and Romney capturing 24%. Before Perry entered his first debate, the Texan held an eleven point advantage over Romney, 29% to 18%.

Trailing far behind the frontrunners are former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at nine percent (9%), Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann at eight percent (8%), Georgia businessman Herman Cain with seven percent (7%) support and Texas Congressman Ron Paul who earns six percent (6%). Rick Santorum, former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, draws the vote from three percent (3%) while ex-Utah Governor Jon Huntsman draws support from two percent (2%). Michigan Congressman Thad McCotter comes in with just one percent (1%) of the vote. Another 11% of GOP voters are undecided at this time. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

These latest numbers show a significant decline for Bachmann and some improvement for Gingrich.

Among conservative GOP primary voters, Perry leads by nine. Among moderates, Romney leads by 12.

via Election 2012: Republican Presidential Primary – Rasmussen Reports™.

Obama sparks DEMOCRATIC middle-of-road rage – POLITICO.com

September 21, 2011

Over the past two weeks, President Obama has pivoted from centrist to liberal populist. | AP Photo Close

Obama sparks middle-of-road rage

By GLENN THRUSH | 9/21/11 4:32 AM EDT

The moderate elite isn’t, by definition, an angry bunch, but President Barack Obama’s pivot from calibrated centrism to soak-the-rich liberal populism has tapped a vein of middle-of-the-road rage and centrist angst.

Over the past two weeks, Obama has convincingly channeled FDR, winning over suspicious liberals, even if many suspect he will eventually return to his old, compromising ways.

Yet to a small, but influential cadre of moderates, it’s political apostasy — an Obama-led return to the bad old days of the 1970s and 1980s, when tax-hiking liberals drove the Democratic Party to the powerless margins of politics.

And to some higher-minded moderates, led by New York Times columnist David Brooks, Obama is sacrificing his 2008 vision of a post-partisan presidency and purple national map on the altar of Democratic base politics.

“President Obama is basically tearing apart his own coalition,” said Mark Penn, former top strategist for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign and a pollster for President Bill Clinton who prodded the White House to the right after the disastrous 1994 midterms.

via Obama sparks middle-of-road rage – Glenn Thrush – POLITICO.com.

President OBAMA Hits New Low in NATIONAL POLL – RealClearPolitics

September 20, 2011

President Obama Hits New Low in National Poll

By Caitlin Huey-Burns – September 20, 2011

President Obama has hit new lows in the McClatchy-Marist poll on job performance, favorability and his handling of the economy. Compounding the problems for the president, the poll shows a majority of Americans hold a bleak outlook on the nation’s unemployment situation.

The McClatchy-Marist poll finds the president’s job approval rating at 39 percent among registered voters, while 52 percent disapprove. His grades are lower among independents: 32 percent approve and 57 percent disapprove.

Obama’s favorability ratings are also upside down: 46 percent view him favorably while 48 percent have an unfavorable opinion of him. Forty percent of independents view him favorably, down 10 points since last month.

The president’s score on the economy has also sunk, with just 33 percent approving and 61 disapproving. His grade has slipped nine points among independents in the past month. Now, 69 percent of independent voters disapprove of the way he is handling with the economy.

via RealClearPolitics – President Obama Hits New Low in National Poll.

RICK PERRY: Palestinians ‘Bolstered by the Obama Administration’s Policies and Apologists’ – The Weekly Standard

September 20, 2011

Perry: Palestinians ‘Bolstered by the Obama Administration’s Policies and Apologists’

12:01 PM, SEP 20, 2011 • BY DANIEL HALPER

Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry delivered the following remarks on the U.S., Israel, and Palestinian statehood in New York City earlier today:

Thank you. Let me begin by thanking Dr. Solomon Frager and Aron Hirtz for helping us organize this press conference today.

I am joined today by a diverse group of Jewish leaders from here and abroad who share my concern that the United Nations could take action this week to legitimize the Palestinian gambit to establish statehood in violation of the spirit of the 1993 Oslo Accords.

We are indignant that certain Middle Eastern leaders have discarded the principle of direct negotiations between the sovereign nation of Israel and the Palestinian leadership, and we are equally indignant that the Obama Administration’s Middle East policy of appeasement has encouraged such an ominous act of bad faith.

Simply put, we would not be here today at the precipice of such a dangerous move if the Obama Policy in the Middle East wasn’t naïve, arrogant, misguided and dangerous.

It must be said, first, that Israel is our oldest and strongest democratic ally in the Middle East and has been for more than 60 years. The Obama Policy of moral equivalency, which gives equal standing to the grievances of Israelis and Palestinians, including the orchestrators of terrorism, is a dangerous insult.

There is no middle ground between our allies and those who seek their destruction. America should not be ambivalent between the terrorist tactics of Hamas and the security tactics of the legitimate and free state of Israel. By proposing ‘indirect talks” through the U.S. rather than between Palestinian leaders and Israel, this administration encouraged the Palestinians to shun direct talks.

via Perry: Palestinians ‘Bolstered by the Obama Administration’s Policies and Apologists’ | The Weekly Standard.

DAVID HOROWITZ’S Point in Time – National Review Online

September 20, 2011

Horowitz’s Point in Time

A review of the conservative critic’s latest book

BRUCE THORNTON

SEPTEMBER 20, 2011 4:00 A.M.

Those who know David Horowitz only as a fierce critic of leftist delusions and a champion of democratic freedom may be surprised to discover that he is also the author of three volumes of memoirs laced with philosophical reflections. Yet a book such as A Point in Time, which joins the earlier volumes The End of Time and A Cracking of the Heart, complements beautifully Horowitz’s other work, which focuses more practically on contemporary ideologies and the pernicious policies they create. Politics, after all, is ultimately about ideas — about human nature, the goods states should pursue, and the limits of the possible given the brevity of a human life subjected to unforeseen change and suffering. Thus, conversations about policy must start first with those underlying ideas and ideals.

A Point in Time is one such conversation, subtly interwoven with Horowitz’s reflections on his own memories of loss, sickness, and anticipations of death, and deepened with perceptive explorations of timeless classics of philosophy and fiction, such as Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations and Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, that have addressed many of these same issues. The result is a melancholy yet hopeful story of one man’s search for order, meaning, and redemption in a world seemingly devoid of all three.

Central to the book is the recognition that, as creatures who naturally seek order and meaning, humans have been left adrift by the decline of faith and thus prey to modernity’s bloody pseudo-religions that promise a future redemption on earth to be delivered by the new god, “history.” Horowitz’s memories of his father, a faithful member of the American Communist Party, recall how that utopian creed and its failures darkened his family’s life: “Much later it occurred to me that my father’s inattention to primal needs was the other side of his passion for worlds that did not exist. . . . He never suspected that a fantasy so remote from the life directly in front of him might actually be the source of his isolation and gloom.” Yet the wages of this failure have been much more destructive, because the drive for perfection and redemption in this world, as Dostoevsky understood and brilliantly showed in his novels, ultimately justifies unthinkable horrors: “The passion to create a new world,” Horowitz says while concluding his meditation on Dostoevsky’s Devils, “is really a passion to destroy the old one, transforming the love of humanity into a hatred for the human beings who stand in its way.”

via Horowitz’s Point in Time – Bruce Thornton – National Review Online.

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