.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Bully Pulpit

The term "bully pulpit" stems from President Theodore Roosevelt's reference to the White House as a "bully pulpit," meaning a terrific platform from which to persuasively advocate an agenda. Roosevelt often used the word "bully" as an adjective meaning superb/wonderful. The Bully Pulpit features news, reasoned discourse, opinion and some humor.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Bill Clinton Plays the Race Card -- and Loses

By Larry Elder
Human Events

"Stupid Black Men: How to Play the Race Card -- and Lose," my new book, comes out Feb. 5, Super Tuesday. Unfortunately for former President Bill Clinton and his wife, no one sent an advance copy.

"Jesse Jackson," said Bill Clinton, "won South Carolina twice, in '84 and '88. And he ran a good campaign, and Sen. Obama's run a good campaign here." Clinton gave this response in South Carolina to a reporter's question about why it took two Clintons to beat Barack Obama. Clinton's response had nothing whatsoever to do with the question.

So why did Clinton say it?

The Fall of the House of Clinton

By Cal Thomas
Human Events

The man of hope has beaten the man from Hope (and possibly his wife).

The endorsement of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign by three Kennedys from different generations was a political trifecta for the young upstart from Illinois. He is not to be confused with Sen. Hillary Clinton who is from Illinois, Arkansas, New York, or wherever you want her to be.

Who Hijacked the Primaries?

By Brett Winterble
Human Events

With John McCain’s all-too-easy road to the nomination paved through Florida and now nearly complete one thing is clear: The Republican Party has been hijacked. Over the past month a new Axis of Evil has emerged -- not one based in Damascus, Tehran or Pyongyang -- but instead in Cedar Rapids, Charleston, South Carolina, Derry, New Hampshire and Boca Raton, Florida. It is the liberal and “independent” voters in these 4 states that have nearly completed a deed that makes Kim Jong Il envious -- the near crippling of the American Electoral System. These four states have combined their native liberal populism with an imported liberal electorate and have forced the GOP to accept a nominee so distasteful that in more than one poll -- the numbers of voters choosing not to vote and those choosing to vote third party actually exceed those who will hold their nose and vote for Maverick, War Hero, Amnesty Supporter, John McCain.

GOP to Edwards: How Much For That Concession Speech?

By Ann Coulter
Human Events

The Democrats are trying to give away an election they should win in a walk by nominating someone with real problems -- like, for example, a first-term senator with a 100 percent rating from Americans for Democratic Action and whose middle name is "Hussein."

But we won't let them.

McCain Changes Story on Tax Cut Stance

WASHINGTON (AP) - Republican John McCain says he opposed President Bush's tax cuts because they didn't come with spending cuts. That is not what he said at the time.

In a presidential debate on Wednesday, McCain said he voted against the Bush tax cuts because he wanted to rein in spending.

"I disagreed when we had tax cuts without spending restraint," the Arizona senator said.

The explanation fits with his history of railing against wasteful federal spending. But it does not fit with McCain's comments when he opposed the Bush tax cuts in 2001 and 2003.

In 2001, McCain said the tax cuts favored the wealthy at the expense of the middle class. In 2003, he said there should be no tax cuts until the Iraq war costs were known.

His aversion to the Bush tax cuts is just another reason McCain gives heartburn to many in the conservative GOP base. Besides taxes, there is also his more forgiving attitude toward illegal immigration, his effort to limit money in politics and his long-running feuds with leaders of the Christian right.

The debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., came on the heels of Tuesday's Florida primary, when McCain defeated former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, gaining an advantage going into next week's Super Tuesday primary.

Ronald Reagan 1980 TV Ad

Romney to run ads in California

(Yahoo News) - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney plans to run a "significant" level of television ads in California and other states that vote Tuesday in essentially a national primary, aides said Thursday, signaling a willingness to aggressively try to derail Republican front-runner John McCain.

Since his defeat in Florida Tuesday, the former Massachusetts governor has been debating over just how much of an effort to make in which of the 21 states that hold primaries and caucuses Tuesday. Romney has tried to cast himself as more conservative than McCain.

Romney is trying to get back on track after two straight losses to McCain — in South Carolina on Jan. 19 and more recently in the winner-take-all state of Florida. That victory gave McCain the advantage in the all-important delegate count as well as the momentum in the GOP race.

Lawsuit over ballot rules heads to trial

Libertarian, Green parties say N.C. law favors 2-party system

RALEIGH (Winston-Salem Journal) -
A lawsuit filed by the Libertarian and Green parties complaining that it is too difficult to get their candidates on North Carolina ballots is headed to trial after a judge declined to rule in favor of either the parties or state attorneys yesterday.

Judge Leon Stanback of Wake County Superior Court denied motions for summary judgment sought by the parties and the state of North Carolina. The trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 11 but is likely to be delayed.

The lawsuit, originally filed in September 2005, argues that state law setting the standards to be identified as a political party - and allowing the party’s candidates to be on the ballot - is so onerous that it violates the rights of party members to freedom of speech and association.

Obama: Decriminalize pot

(Washington Times) - Last fall during a nationally televised presidential debate, Sen. Barack Obama hesitantly raised his hand and joined with most of his Democratic rivals to declare that he opposed decriminalizing marijuana.

But as a candidate for the U.S. Senate four years ago, Mr. Obama told Illinois college students that he supported eliminating criminal penalties for marijuana use or possession, according to a videotape of a little noticed debate that was obtained by The Washington Times.

County, school system eager to address facility needs

(The Stokes News) - The week has been busy for members of two county boards as they work toward one common goal; meeting the facility needs of Stokes’s students.

The Stokes County Board of Education met in a work session last Tuesday to prepare for a joint meeting with the county commissioners, which was held last Wednesday at Germanton Elementary School’s Professional Learning Center.

School and county officials seem to agree on the top two construction needs in the county and are taking the next steps to move toward meeting those needs; a new elementary school in the West district and addressing safety concerns at Nancy Reynolds Elementary School.

Reinstate Conaway

From The Stokes News:

Dear Editor,

I want to express my appreciation for the prayers and support that Barry and our family has received during this challenging time in our life. As witnessed by the testimonials on the news and in the newspapers, Barry has always gone above and beyond the call of duty. It is a comfort to know that there are people who do appreciate all of his hard work. I could give you hundreds of stories of the selfless acts that Barry had done in his many years of service that on one knows about. Whenever there was a need, Barry was there. No one knows better than me the sacrifices he has made to serve others, especially in serving the town. That is why I find the statements and comments made by Mr. Dearmin and Mayor Hodgkin, publically and privately, irresponsible and inappropriate. It is not Barry’s dignity that is at stake. No one deserves to be treated the way that Barry was treated. If people are angry now, they will be even angrier when they learn why a valued employee was unjustly terminated and how he has been treated.

Anyone who knows Barry knows that he doesn’t talk that much. That is why I am speaking out now. Barry is not making public comments in regard to the circumstances of his termination at this time. He stands by his contention that he was wrongfully terminated. Therefore, he has filed a grievance to appeal his termination. Barry believes that it is appropriate to allow the town due process as they carefully review the actions of Mr. Dearmin and reevaluate the appropriate course of action as they consider his appeal for reinstatement as police chief. Additionally, Barry does not want to limit his recourse options by prematurely disclosing the basis for his claims in the event that an acceptable resolution is not reached with the town and we are forced to pursue legal remedies. The only way that healing can begin for our town and community is for the town to work with Barry and reinstate him as chief.

Please contact or write your elected officials and let them know how you feel. After all, our elected officials are elected to serve all the people, not a chosen few. Several members of our community have written letters and have received responses which they have shared with Barry. If you write a letter or receive a response that you are willing to share, please let us know. We would love to hear from you.

Please join us on Feb. 5 at the next town meeting to support Barry’s reinstatement as police chief. We need your help.

Sharon Conaway

Walnut Cove

Right the wrong

From The Stokes News:

Dear Editor,

While I may not live within the city limits of Walnut Cove, I still have a right to express my disagreement with Mr. Dearmin’s decision to fire Barry. The impact of his decision does not end at the city limits, it impacts our entire community. People from the surrounding community support the Town of Walnut Cove each and every time they spend their money in town. There are numerous Walnut Cove business leaders who do not live within the city limits. I am challenging everyone that is impacted by Mr. Dearmin’s decision to let the elected officials know how they feel. I believe that the first order of business for the next town meeting should be to fire Mr. Dearmin in order to save his “dignity”. The commissioners need to take a hard look at what has taken place. Mr. Dearmin has given himself the power of judge, jury and executioner in violation of state and federal law and has excluded the commissioners in the process. Mr. Dearmin has forgotten that he works at the pleasure of the board - that’s four commissioners and the mayor”. How is that only Mr. Dearmin and Mayor Hodgkin were aware of what was going on? If Mr. Dearmin does not follow the direction of the Commissioners and willfully refuses to consider their instructions and opinion on a matter as devastating to the town as terminating the police chief, then the commissioners have to ask themselves what else is he doing that they are unaware of and more importantly, how can they trust him in the future. Mr. Dearmin reports to the council, they are his superiors, and such insubordinate behavior is not acceptable in any manager-employee role and cannot be tolerated. The commissioners have the responsibility to look after the best interest of the town. The next thing that the commissioners should address is the Mayor’s role in this whole situation. Apparently the Mayor has forgotten his own role in council-manager form of government and is attempting to run the town under a “mayor-manager form of government.”

That being said, Barry Conaway is our son-in-law and the father of our grandchildren. Firing Barry was wrong. We respectfully request that the commissioners and citizens stand behind Barry in his request for reinstatement as police chief. Barry has provided the town and our community with unbeatable service throughout his career and what was done to him was not justified. Let’s fix a great injustice before any more damage is done.

Lee and Doris Caudle


Obama to Report $32 Million Raised in Jan.

(Washington Post) - The campaign of Barack Obama will report having raised at least $32 million in the month of January, a staggering amount for one month, campaign manager David Plouffe said this morning.

That included contributions from 170,000 new donors. That brings the campaign's total number of contributors to 650,000, Plouffe said.

Plouffe said the money came in at a consistent pace throughout the month, but the campaign's strongest day of fundraising came the day after the New Hampshire primary, which Obama narrowly lost to Hillary Clinton.

"We took a lot of encouragment from that because it showed the resolve of our existing donor base," Plouffe said.

He said the money has enabled the campaign "to advertise in just about every Feb 5 state at pretty high levels."

"Our ability to raise this kind of money is going to be critical to transacting what is a very challenging calendar," he said.

Bill Clinton: 'We Just Have to Slow Down Our Economy' to Fight Global Warming...

(ABC News) - Former President Bill Clinton was in Denver, Colorado, stumping for his wife yesterday.

In a long, and interesting speech, he characterized what the U.S. and other industrialized nations need to do to combat global warming this way: "We just have to slow down our economy and cut back our greenhouse gas emissions 'cause we have to save the planet for our grandchildren."

At a time that the nation is worried about a recession is that really the characterization his wife would want him making? "Slow down our economy"?

Romney Not Ready to Commit to Big TV Buys

WASHINGTON (Time.com) — In a major boost for John McCain, Republican presidential rival Mitt Romney signaled Wednesday he's not ready to commit to a costly campaign in the states holding primaries and caucuses next week.

Several officials said that on the heels of a defeat in Tuesday's Florida primary, Romney's campaign was not attempting to purchase television advertising time in any of the states on the Super Tuesday calendar.

Instead, the former Massachusetts governor's current plans call for campaigning in California and other primary states, said the officials, who had knowledge of the internal discussions. There would be organizational efforts primarily for caucus states.

Not Welcome

(Fox News) - An update on a story we told you a few weeks ago about residents of Brattleboro, Vermont who want to arrest President Bush and Vice President Cheney if they ever visit. A petition with more than 400 signatures was submitted last week — and so the question will be on the ballot March 4.

But the town clerk says she is getting so many nasty complaints that the town office stopped answering its phones Monday. One caller from Minnesota said he'd like to see terrorists cut off the heads of town officials. Other criticisms have been a bit more tame — such as calling residents "wackjobs" and "nuts."

Conspiracy Theory

(Fox News) - Incumbent Maryland Democratic Congressman Albert Wynn says there is a vast left-wing conspiracy against him — as he fights a bitter primary battle against an opponent he says is getting illegal help.

The Washington Post reports Wynn is accusing Donna Edwards of colluding with independent organizations that support her — without reporting it as required by law.

Wynn says — "There seems to be a vast, dare I say, left-wing conspiracy designed to circumvent campaign finance laws."

He says he is being targeted by the groups because they think he votes with Republicans too often — and accepts contributions from corporate interests.

Edwards denies any wrongdoing — and calls Wynn's allegations a desperate 11th hour move.

King of All Media

(Fox News) - Bill Clinton's attacks on Barack Obama earned him more media coverage than any Republican presidential candidate last week.

The Project for Excellence in Journalism reports Mr. Clinton was the focus of 18 percent of the campaign stories in major media. The closest Republican was Rudy Giuliani at 14 percent.

Obama and Hillary Clinton were neck-and-neck — at 41 percent and 40 percent respectively.

Democrats got almost twice as much coverage as Republicans – 56 percent to 30 percent.

How One News Organization Handled the Edwards and Giuliani Stories

Post Mortem

(Fox News) -
This is what the Associated Press wrote today about John Edwards' decision to drop out of the presidential race.

The AP said Edwards was — "ending a scrappy underdog bid in which he steered his rivals toward progressive ideals while grappling with family hardship that roused voters' sympathies."

It added that — "Edwards waged a spirited top-tier campaign against the two better-funded rivals, even as he dealt with the stunning blow of his wife's recurring cancer diagnosis."

And here's what the AP said about Rudy Giuliani — "Once the Republican presidential front-runner, Giuliani suffered a debilitating defeat in Tuesday's Florida primary." "Tuesday's result was a remarkable collapse for Giuliani... Florida proved to be less than hospitable."

Hispanics were key to McCain's victory

(MiamiHerald.com) - John McCain won Florida's Republican primary with the help of the state's wildly popular governor, his own war-hero biography and some crafty campaigning.

Hillary Clinton won the Democrats' vote on the strength of her experience, her race and a campaign that oddly wasn't a campaign at all.

The strange race for the presidency -- some late Republican mudslinging, no slinging of anything by Democrats -- has exited the biggest swing state for now, giving the nation a glimpse of the issues and ideas on the minds of voters of all stripes heading into Super Tuesday.

In Florida, both candidates can thank one group above all others for their win: Hispanics.

Hispanics backed Clinton by a 2-to-1 margin over Barack Obama, according to exit polls conducted by Edison/Mitofsky for the National Election Pool. Pollsters say the Hispanic vote reflects a fondness for Bill Clinton's White House years and a long-standing trend of voting against black candidates.

The Hispanic numbers were even more striking for McCain: 51 percent of Hispanics backed him, with 15 percent supporting Mitt Romney, who came in a close second statewide, and 25 percent for Rudy Giuliani.

(Hillary) Clinton Remained Silent As Wal-Mart Fought Unions

Tapes Reviewed by ABC News Show Clinton As a Loyal Company Woman

(ABC News) - In six years as a member of the Wal-Mart board of directors, between 1986 and 1992, Hillary Clinton remained silent as the world's largest retailer waged a major campaign against labor unions seeking to represent store workers.

Dems Want to Lose -- But GOP Doesn't Want to Win

By Victor Davis Hanson
Real Clear Politics

Just a few months ago, the 2008 presidential contest seemed predetermined. The New York lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton were far ahead in their respective party polls. And in the one-on-one match-up, Sen. Clinton was all but declared the foreordained winner a year in advance.

But not now.

Is McCain a Conservative?

By Bob Novak
Real Clear Politics

As John McCain neared his momentous primary election victory in Florida after a ferocious campaign questioning his conservative credentials, right-wingers buzzed over word that he had privately suggested that Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito was too conservative. In response, Sen. McCain recalled saying no such thing and added Alito was a "magnificent" choice. In fact, multiple sources confirm his negative comments about Alito nine months ago.

Rush Limbaugh's Morning Update: Dead

Something ugly happened this week in California's liberal-dominated legislature: Governor Schwarzenegger's health-care overhaul -- negotiated with Democrats, successfully passed the state assembly -- could not muster enough votes to get out of a key Senate committee. No life support, folks; the thing is dead.

This was a breakthrough plan, at a discount price. Why, for a mere 15 billion dollars -- a mere pittance -- 70 percent of California's uninsured population (over 5 million people) could have had instant free health care! Sure, government mandates would have increased; businesses, hospitals, and smokers would have faced higher taxes. But California was in a position to once again lead the way, to show the rest of America how to deliver socialized medicine to the masses.

With so much at stake, with the dream so close to being realized, why -- how -- could liberal senators kill it? Democrat Sheila Kuehl, who headed the execution Committee, says: "It doesn't matter if there are all these good things in the bill, if there's not sufficient funding to pay for them."

That's it? That's the excuse? No money? This bill, which would have given hope and free health care to millions, was killed over... money? Minorities and the poor are now going to be hardest hit -- again -- because a few heartless, mean-spirited, shortsighted California bimbo legislators don't want to spend the money? When has that ever stopped them, folks?

This is humiliating! I don't know how California legislators can ever show their faces in public again. (Actually, dirty little secret is, unlike the feds, the state can't print money.) They're cooked!

Read the Background Material on the Morning Update...
AP: Calif. Senate Panel Blocks Health Push

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Clinton Says She Can Control Her Husband

(ABC News) - Senator Hillary Clinton, in an interview with ABC News' Cynthia McFadden for ABC News' Nightline, was asked about President Clinton’s controversial comments about race and Senator Obama in the past weeks. Clinton apologized for her husband.

“I think whatever he said which was certainly never intended to cause any kind of offense to anyone,” Clinton said, “if it did give offenses then I take responsibility and I’m sorry about that.”

"Can you control him?" asked McFadden.

“Oh of course,” Clinton replied.

Gov. Schwarzenegger to Endorse McCain

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. (AP) - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will endorse John McCain on Thursday, giving a certain boost to the Republican presidential front-runner six days before California's high-prize primary.

The two will appear at a news conference after touring a Los Angeles-based solar energy company and the governor will make his endorsement official, his senior aides confirmed Wednesday.

Schwarzenegger's endorsement is yet another setback for Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who saw Florida slip from his grasp Tuesday after McCain rolled up the support of that state's two top elected Republicans, Gov. Charlie Crist and Sen. Mel Martinez.

Seeing Red Over Hillary

The New York Times

Even newly armored by the spirit of Camelot, Barack Obama is still distressed by the sight of a certain damsel.

It’s already famous as The Snub, the moment before the State of the Union when Obama turned away to talk to Claire McCaskill instead of trying to join Teddy Kennedy in shaking hands with Hillary.

Nobody cared about W., whose presidency had crumpled into a belated concern about earmarks.

The only union that fascinated was Obama and Hillary, once more creeping around each other.

How McCain Lost And Won

By John Hood
Carolina Journal

Here’s what happened Tuesday, according to the exit polls: three-quarters of conservative Republicans voted against John McCain. And he won the Florida primary anyway.

Romney: ‘In a two-person race, I like my chances’

(The Hill) - Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said Wednesday that he looks forward to a head-to-head battle for the Republican presidential nomination with Sen. John McCain (Ariz.).

Coming off a solid but disappointing second-place finish in Florida Tuesday, Romney vowed to carry on.

“We’re finally getting where we wanted to be, and that is to have a two-person race,” Romney said on Fox News, adding, “In a two-person race, I like my chances.”

Romney acknowledged that the continued presence of Mike Huckabee in the race is a problem for him and made the point that the former Arkansas governor is no longer a contender.

“I don’t know what kind of support Mike Huckabee will get going forward,” Romney said. “I think conservatives recognize that a vote for Mike Huckabee right now really means a vote for John McCain. So that may have them re-think that.”

John Edwards Drops Out, Endorses McCain :-)

(ScrappleFace) — Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards today quit the race for the Democrat presidential nomination, and immediately endorsed Republican frontrunner Sen. John McCain.

“As the presidential field narrows,” Sen. Edwards will reportedly say at an afternoon news conference, “I just didn’t feel there would be room in the race for two white males who favor leniency for illegal aliens, who opposed Bush’s tax cuts for the rich, who fight man-made global warming, who support limits on so-called free speech in political campaigns, who have worked to hinder approval of conservative judicial nominees, and who stand against the Bush administration’s desire to torture terror suspects with waterboarding.”

Mr. Edwards added that, while he’s young enough to run for president 10 more times, the septuagenarian Sen. McCain “may have only five or six more shots at it.”

While Mr. Edwards played down speculation that he might bring balance to the ticket as Sen. McCain’s running mate, he noted that it would be “a once-in-a-lifetime thrill to team up with an actual Vietnam war hero.”

Obama calls Clinton divisive figure

(Yahoo News) - Democratic White House candidate Barack Obama on Wednesday said rival Hillary Rodham Clinton is too polarizing to win the presidency and she has taken positions shared by President Bush and Republican candidate John McCain for political expediency.

Obama depicted Clinton as a calculating, poll-tested divisive figure who will only inspire greater partisan divisions as she sides with Republicans on issues like trade, the role of lobbyists in politics and national security. At the same time, he elevated McCain, fresh off victory in Florida's crucial primary, as the likely Republican nominee.

Woods impressed by Barack Obama

(Breitbart.com) - Tiger Woods says he has been impressed with Democratic Party presidential candidate Barack Obama and believes he is an inspiration to many in the United States.

Asked for his views on the senator from Illinois, who like himself has an African-American father, ahead of the Dubai Desert Classic, Woods replied: "I've seen him speak. He's extremely articulate, very thoughtful.

"I'm just impressed at how well, basically all politicians really do, how well they think on their feet. Especially those debates. It's pretty phenomenal to see them get their point across.

"But I just think that he's really inspired a bunch of people in our country and we'll see what happens down the road."

Clinton and the King

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton could easily have been all shook up, but instead she proved she's no hound dog.

The New York senator opened her campaign day with a surprising twist while shaking hands in a local diner—a personal serenade from The King.

"A black Elvis," exclaimed Clinton, as she was greeted Dwayne Turner, decked out in the signature white suit and impressive sunglasses.

"This is Clinton Country," said Turner, who quickly broke into the opening bars of "Blue Suede Shoes," drawing a delighted laugh from Clinton.

"We're going to build a bridge to the 21st Century," said Turner. "We're going to do this thing."

"Yes, we are," replied Clinton, interrupting her greeting of patrons.

Turner said he performs often in the Little Rock area. His business cards say, "Let me shake up any occasion for you."

Clinton started her campaign day by dropping by a local diner to greet customers during the breakfast hour, but Turner quickly stole the moment—and the attention of a bank of cameras—with his crooning entertainment of the presidential candidate. Clinton was building ties to activists in the state where she was first lady before her husband was elected president.

Rush Does Not Concede, Vows to Fight On

SCOTT MOONEYHAM: Jesse Helms' Legacy

Raleigh (ThePilot.com) - There's a lesson for current-day politicians in "Senator No: Jesse Helms," a documentary examining the life and career of the controversial five-term U.S. senator.

The 90-minute documentary from independent filmmaker John Wilson aired recently on UNC-TV. It provides a fair, balanced account of Helms, from his days as a fiery, pro-segregation orator on Raleigh's WRAL-TV to his years pushing socially conservative causes in Washington.

The film makes clear Helms' place as one of the more important political figures of the latter half of the 20th century, guiding and shaping the "New Right" conservative movement.

Dana Milbank: Much Ado About Not Much...

DAVIE, Fla. (Washington Post) - Cheering supporters? Check. Election returns on the projection screen? Check. Andrea Mitchell and Candy Crowley doing stand-ups? Check and check. In fact, the only piece missing from Hillary Clinton's Florida victory party here Tuesday night was a victory.

Yes, Clinton, as expected, beat Barack Obama by a wide margin in the Florida primary. But all the Democratic candidates had agreed months ago to boycott the contest after the Democratic National Committee stripped Florida of its delegates to punish the state for moving up its primary date. The result was a primary without purpose, a show about nothing.

But in a political stunt worthy of the late Evel Knievel, the Clinton campaign decided to put on an ersatz victory party that, it hoped, would erase memories of Obama's actual victory Saturday night in South Carolina's Democratic primary. "Thank you, Florida Democrats!" Clinton shouted to the cheering throng. "I am thrilled to have this vote of confidence."

Burr calls for sales tax holiday

April break offered as stimulus

WASHINGTON (The News & Observer) -
U.S. Sen. Richard Burr wants a national sales tax holiday to goose the ailing economy -- figuring discount prices would do the nation's cash registers more good than rebate checks.

Reaction to his idea ranged from "crackpot" to it-ain't-gonna-work, as economists said sales tax holidays don't inspire consumer spending so much as change the date that shoppers are pulling out their wallets.

Burr said he welcomed the discussion. And the Senate's majority leader, Sen. Harry Reid, said Tuesday that he expects to see plenty of good ideas from both Democrats and Republicans on the best way to get more money flowing through the economy.

Clinton Wins Primary but No Delegates

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) - Hillary Rodham Clinton won the Florida Democratic primary Tuesday night, an event that drew no campaigning by any of her presidential rivals and awarded no delegates to the winner.

But Clinton promptly declared it a welcome victory.

The New York senator, fresh off her lopsided loss to Barack Obama in last weekend's South Carolina primary, arranged a rally in the state as the polls were closing, an evident attempt to gain campaign momentum.

Grand Theft

(Fox News) - A 29-year veteran employee with New York State's Department of Education has been arrested for allegedly stealing hundreds of historic documents from state archives and selling many of them on eBay.

Police say Daniel Lorello stole some very famous items — such as a letter written in 1823 by vice president John Calhoun — and copies of the "Davy Crockett Almanacs." Lorello apparently did not take such other treasures as the state's original first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation or a complete set of autographs from the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Lorello has pleaded not guilty to charges of grand larceny, possession of stolen property and fraud. But the attorney general's office has released a written confession made earlier. Authorities say Lorello did it — to pay off his daughter's $10,000 credit card debt.

Bull Market

(Fox News) - You've heard a lot lately about the horrible housing market in the U.S. But there is one place in the world with soaring prices — a shortage of homes — and bidding wars among buyers.

The city — is Baghdad. The Los Angeles Times reports decreased violence has led to a huge influx of returning Iraqis – 67,000 since September. And that has produced what it calls a real estate "frenzy." The Times reports sales prices in some neighborhoods have doubled — and houses are being snatched up as quickly as they are put up for sale.

And it's not just traditional family houses. Multi-million dollar homes are being bought by retired military officers, doctors, and Iraqis who got rich from government contracts.

Place Your Bets

(Fox News) - The students at Virginia's Washington and Lee University have had an uncanny knack for picking the right nominee for the party not currently in the White House. Students have been holding elaborate mock conventions since 1908 — and have been wrong only once in the last 60 years — when they chose Ted Kennedy over George McGovern in 1972. This year — it wasn't even close.

Hillary Clinton easily won the nomination in the mock convention — with more than 2,100 delegates — about 100 more than needed. Obama finished more than 400 delegates behind, with Edwards a distant third.

Who Howled the Loudest Over Senator Ted Kennedy's Endorsement of Barack Obama?

Hell Hath No Fury

(Fox News) -
There is dissension in the National Organization for Women over Ted Kennedy's endorsement of Barack Obama — and the rejection thereby of Hillary Clinton.

The head of the New York state chapter of NOW — Marcia Pappas — called Kennedy's move — "the ultimate betrayal." She says women have forgiven, stuck up for and stood by Kennedy despite his being late in his support of issues such as Title Nine and the Equal Rights Amendment — and now are being repaid with what she calls "his abandonment."

But the leader of New York City's NOW chapter — Sonia Ossorio — tells The New York Observer that Kennedy has been a tremendous friend to women. And the organization's national president — Kim Gandy — is also giving Kennedy a pass on the Clinton snub — saying — "we respect Senator Kennedy's endorsement."

Romney Vows to Carry on With Campaign

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) - Republican Mitt Romney, his family and supporters vowed to carry his campaign into the vote-rich Super Tuesday contests next week after narrowly losing Florida's primary to rival John McCain.

In his concession speech Tuesday night, Romney issued a call to arms to conservatives to support him, vowing to cut federal spending, end illegal immigration and teach children "that before they have babies, they should get married."

But it was his wife, Ann, who took the microphone after Romney delivered nine minutes of prepared remarks, who explained the reasons for continuing to fight.

Schwarzenegger hints at endorsing McCain

SACRAMENTO (KABC) - Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger Tuesday stopped short of announcing which Republican presidential candidate he will endorse. The Governor will meet all of the GOP candidates Wednesday in Los Angeles. But it is clear which one Schwarzenegger favors: John McCain.

At his annual address to the Sacramento Press Club, Governor Schwarzenegger stopped short of endorsing a Presidential candidate, but it's clear he's leaning toward his dear friend, Senator John McCain.

"I enjoy him because he also, of course, is someone who's working on the environment and believes strongly that you can have a strong economy and good environment," said Gov. Schwarzenegger.

Carter Stays Neutral in Race, But Praises Obama's Oratory

PLAINS, Ga. (The Wall Street Journal) - Former President Jimmy Carter lavished praise on Illinois Sen. Barack Obama during an interview at his home on Monday, though he won't formally endorse any candidate in the race for the Democratic nomination.

"Obama's campaign has been extraordinary and titillating for me and my family," Mr. Carter said. The 83-year-old former president, who left the White House in 1981, compared Mr. Obama's speeches to those of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and said he believed the candidate could carry some southern states if he becomes the Democratic nominee.

Mr. Carter also said he talked by telephone at length on Monday with former President Bill Clinton, who was "trying to explain that he was not raising the race issue" on the campaign trail. Mr. Carter said the phone call was to finalize speaking arrangements for Mr. Clinton's appearance at a meeting organized by Mr. Carter of moderate Baptists in Atlanta beginning today. But much of the conversation centered on the presidential campaign, Mr. Carter said.

Giuliani to Exit Presidential Race Today

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - Following his third place finish in Florida, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani is expected to drop out of the presidential race today and endorse Sen. John McCain.

Last night, Giuliani stopped short of announcing he was stepping down, but delivered a valedictory speech that was more farewell than fight-on.

The former mayor finished a distant third to the winner, McCain, and close second-place finisher Mitt Romney. Republican officials said Giuliani would endorse McCain on Wednesday in California. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in advance of the public announcement.

John Edwards to Quit Presidential Race

DENVER (AP) - Democrat John Edwards is exiting the presidential race Wednesday, ending a scrappy underdog bid in which he steered his rivals toward progressive ideals while grappling with family hardship that roused voters' sympathies but never diverted his campaign, The Associated Press has learned.

The two-time White House candidate notified a close circle of senior advisers that he planned to make the announcement at a 1 p.m. EST event in New Orleans that had been billed as a speech on poverty, according to two of his advisers. The decision came after Edwards lost the four states to hold nominating contests so far to rivals who stole the spotlight from the beginning—Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama.

The former North Carolina senator will not immediately endorse either candidate in what is now a two-person race for the Democratic nomination, said one adviser, who spoke on a condition of anonymity in advance of the announcement.

Romney loses one he needed to win

Tough immigration stance hurts him with Cuban Americans

By Bob Novak
Chicago Sun-Times

Florida's primary was the one former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney badly needed going into next week's 21-state Mega Tuesday. Instead, his loss by a slim margin to Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) sends McCain into the Feb.5 showdown with a leg up on the Republican presidential nomination.

How McCain Won

Real Clear Politics

John McCain won Florida by putting together the same basic voting coalition he forged in New Hampshire and South Carolina. What is impressive is that he did it in a closed primary. Registered Independents and Democrats were not allowed to vote, but McCain still won. Let's take a look at how he did it...

Rush Limbaugh's Morning Update: Lid Blown!

At the State of the Union show on Monday night, Democrats predictably sat on their haunches when the President called for the tax cuts to be made permanent, and when he warned the Senate not to load the stimulus plan with a lot of pork. Even as he spoke, Democrats were hatching plans to add more welfare spending for even more people who don't pay taxes.

So along comes an AP article that blows the lid off liberal economics. AP reports that economists are concerned that "the affluent" are cutting back on spending -- which will hurt the economy -- and, "deliver more pain to lower-income workers, who are dependent on their business and fat tips."

AP's economists say -- surprise! -- that when the wealthy cut spending, there's a "ripple effect across all consumer spending." Households making over $150,000 account for almost 40 percent of all spending and two-thirds of all economic activity. Our economy depends on the affluent to "spend with enthusiasm," because the top 20 percent of earners spend almost five times as much as the bottom 20 percent. When they stop spending, everybody suffers.

By gosh, folks! It's a total vindication of supply-side economics! And Ronaldus Magnus! These affluent Americans are the very people Democrats hate -- and say don't deserve tax cuts -- who aren't even included in this so-called stimulus package. The same people who pay for every big government program the Democrats propose.

Conservatives know this. Liberals know it, too, but they can't dare admit it, which is why electing real conservatives matters. I hope that this AP reporter still has a job tomorrow!

Read the Background Material on the Morning Update...
AP: Luxury Shoppers' Cuts Could Harm Economy

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

McCain Beats Romney to Win Fla. Primary

MIAMI (AP) - Sen. John McCain won a breakthrough triumph in the Florida Republican primary Tuesday night, edging past former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and seizing precious campaign momentum for next week's string of contests across 21 states.

I have to give kudos to John McCain. Just a month ago, I thought his campaign was dead; now I believe he's going to be the 2008 GOP nominee. I don't see Romney doing well next Tuesday; he needed a Florida win to give him some momentum. With this loss, I believe Romney is done. According to the exit polls, the economy was the #1 issue among voters, and the voters chose McCain over Romney on that issue. I thought economic issues would be to Romney's strength; obviously it wasn't. At least McCain does have Phil Gramm as his economic advisor... Most people believe if McCain becomes president, he'll name Gramm as Treasury Secretary.

Mitt Shouldn't Get A Free Pass

By Philip Klein
The American Spectator

Jonathan Martin reports that Mitt Romney, in an effort to woo senior citizen voters in Florida, has launched robo-calls declaring, "John McCain voted against the AARP-backed Medicare prescription drug program."

This is an abomination for several reasons.

One by One, Angry Liberals Turn Their Backs on Team Clinton

(Fox News) - Like lovers scorned, Bill Clinton’s longtime liberal supporters are walking out on him, slamming the door behind them and rebuking the 42nd president for his behavior leading up to last weekend’s South Carolina primary.

Clinton’s base seems to be eroding fast as liberal Democratic stalwarts join up with Barack Obama, whose message of change seems now to apply not only to the Bush Administration of the last seven years, but the eight-year Clinton Administration that preceded it.

Bush Says Faith Helped Him Beat Drinking

BALTIMORE, Md. (AP) - President Bush on Tuesday referred to his former struggles with alcohol as an "addiction," a blunt characterization of his less disciplined adult days before a reliance on faith help him turn his life around.

"Addiction is hard to overcome," Bush said in speaking at a faith- based center that helps former prisoners get job training and other help.

"As you might remember, I drank too much at one time in my life," Bush said. "I understand faith-based programs. I understand that sometimes you can find the inspiration from a higher power to solve an addiction problem."

Increasingly, Bush has reflected in candid terms about his days of drinking. Last month, he told some young recovering addicts to stick with their fight against drugs and cited his own experiences with alcohol years ago. He said then that "addiction competes for your affection ... you fall in love with alcohol."

Bush, 61, decided to quit drinking alcohol after a boozy night in 1986 celebrating his 40th birthday. He went on to win election and re- election as Texas governor before bidding for the White House.

The president spoke Tuesday at the Jericho Program, which helps former prisoners get their lives in order and contribute to society. The stop came as Bush sought to keep some attention on his faith-based programs, one of the themes from his final State of the Union address on Monday night.

Truman's daughter dies at 83

(Yahoo News) - Margaret Truman, the only child of former President Harry S. Truman who became a concert singer, actress, radio and TV personality and mystery writer, died Tuesday. She was 83.

Truman, known as Margaret Truman Daniel in private life, died at a Chicago assisted living facility following a brief illness, according to Susan Medler, a spokeswoman for the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum in Independence. She had been at the facility for the past several weeks and was on a respirator, the library said.

RETURNING: Vitale will be back for Duke vs. UNC

(Winston-Salem Journal) - Dick Vitale, the voice of college basketball on ESPN, said he thought his 29-year career behind the microphone was finished.

“I really thought that was it,” Vitale said in a short telephone interview from his home near Sarasota, Fla. “All that screaming of ‘Awesome baby’ and all that was something I thought I’d never do again.”

Vitale, whose last game was Dec. 4, had extensive laser throat surgery to remove ulcerated lesions. A few days later, he had to have noncancerous prostate surgery.

But the lesions in his throat gave Vitale the bigger scare, because Vitale without his voice would be like Michelangelo without his paint. He was greatly relieved to hear after the surgery that there were no signs of cancer.

But Vitale wasn’t allowed to speak for almost a month after his surgery.

On Jan. 13, Vitale was back at Massachusetts General Hospital. Steven Zeitles, a well-known laryngologist who had performed the surgery, got to hear Vitale’s first words. “I didn’t know if I could speak, but the words came out, and now they have given me clearance to resume my normal life,” Vitale said. “That day in the hospital when they told me to start talking again is one of those days I’ll never forget for as long as I live.”

He’ll return to the air Feb. 6 when North Carolina plays host to Duke.


(The Washington Prowler) - Look for former Virginia Gov. George Allen to begin putting in place the light infrastructure for a possible run for governor again. Allen, who traveled with Sen. Fred Thompson in South Carolina, is believed to have some volunteer staffing commitments in place to at least begin the process of setting up a statewide organization for the 2009 gubernatorial elections.


(The Washington Prowler) - Former Sen. Fred Thompson has made it clear that he will not endorse another candidate in the near future, if at all. Last week, staffers for Sen. Tom Coburn were on Capitol Hill encouraging others to sign on with Coburn's candidate, John McCain, saying that Thompson was endorsing the candidate. Coburn, who months ago had made a promise to Thompson to endorse him but never did so, hasn't spoken to Thompson in months.

One source of the Thompson endorsement rumors is believed to be former Tennessee Sen. Howard Baker, who has been fielding phone calls about Thompson from other campaigns and media outlets, and has done nothing to tamp down the rumors. "He's enjoying what he knows will be short-lived relevancy," says a member of Baker's law firm in Tennessee. Baker, who was an honorary national chair of the Thompson campaign, officially endorsed McCain on Saturday.

Thompson is expected to speak publicly about his future plans at a later date, and rumors had him and his wife, Jeri, down in Nashville looking at houses over the weekend.

Heavy-Handedness Backfires


(The Washington Prowler) -
In the past week both Florida Sen. Mel Martinez and Gov. Charlie Crist wavered on their promised endorsements for Sen. John McCain, before finally having their fill of the heavy-handed arm-twisting of the Mitt Romney campaign.

"It finally got to the point for both of them that they just got fed up with the constant harassment," says a source close to both men who has worked for them as a political consultant. "They weren't going to endorse Romney and under the right circumstances, one or both of them might have chosen to sit the primary out, but the Romney people just made it intolerable."

In the middle of last week, it appeared that both Martinez and Crist would sit out what has become the battleground state for the Republican nomination for President.

It is believed that the Romney campaign has been able to use its candidate's unfettered wealth to run a successful absentee ballot program, something the other campaigns have not been able to do as well. Those absentee ballots may swing Romney to victory, and keeping Martinez and Crist on the sidelines was part of the strategy for victory.

Another subtext: the diminishment of Rudy Giuliani in a state that he had pegged as his pivot for Super Tuesday. He didn't have a shot at either endorsement, and his campaign has long been warring with the Crist crowd, in part because after Giuliani worked hard for Crist's election as governor, he was repaid by having a Crist staffer leak to the McCain camp an important Giuliani fundraising PowerPoint presentation early last year.

The Romney camp appears to have picked up much of the ideologically conservative support from the Thompson team, including the bulk of his "Lawyers for Thompson" operation. But it doesn't appear that any members of Thompson's longstanding inner circle who started the "Draft Thompson" movement about a year ago will sign on with another campaign.

GEORGE WILL: Dishonesty From the Clintons & McCain...

(Real Clear Politics) - Imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, the Clintons should bask in the glow of John McCain's Clintonian gloss on this fact: Ten months ago Romney said that President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki should discuss, privately, "a series of timetables and milestones." That unremarkable thought was twisted by McCain, whose distortions are notably clumsy, as when Romney said, accurately, that he alone among the candidates has had extensive experience in private-sector business. That truth was subjected to McCain's sophistry, and he charged that Romney had said "you haven't had a real job" if you had a military career. If, this autumn, voters must choose between Clinton and McCain, they will face, at least stylistically, an echo, not a choice...

...Obama is running against two Clintons -- or one and a fraction of one, given how much she has been diminished by her overbearing spouse. Romney is marginally better off running against a Clinton impersonator.

Rated XXX?

(Fox News) - Peace activists in Berkeley, California want to make it much more difficult for military recruiters to set up shop in their town — by creating a new restriction modeled after laws pertaining to adult-oriented businesses.

Media reports say a proposed ballot initiative would prohibit recruiting offices within 600 feet of residential districts, public parks, schools, and churches.

Supporters say they want to protect young people from what they call the detrimental, dangerous influence of military recruiters. Berkeley activists were incensed last year when the Marines opened a recruiting office — and they say they still hope to eventually get rid of it.

Muscling Up

(Fox News) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is trying to form a new military alliance against the U.S.

Chavez is calling on Cuba, Bolivia and Nicaragua to help him guard against what he calls an American plan of aggression against him. He says the U.S. is trying to provoke a war between Venezuela and Colombia.

Chavez is also urging his Latin American allies to withdraw billions of dollars in reserves from U.S. banks — and deposit the money in a new development bank launched by his regional alliance.

Out of Line

(Fox News) - TIME Magazine columnist Joe Klein is taking Hillary and Bill Clinton to task over what he calls their creaky, transparent, out-of-date and distasteful actions toward Barack Obama — and he says they learned that behavior from the Bush family.

Klein writes on TIME Magazine's Web site that the entire Democratic Party is sick of what he called "games-playing" and "sewage" by the Clintons. He calls Obama's win in South Carolina a "wholesale rejection of Bill Clinton."

Klein adds that Obama believes — "the entire country is tired of the pestilence of tactical tricks that the Clintons learned from their co-dynasts, the Bushes."

Dirt Is Found on the Clinton Campaign Trail in Iowa

(Fox News) - Campaign workers for Hillary Clinton left such a mess when they cleared out of their headquarters in Clinton, Iowa — that the building manager says he will never rent office space to a political candidate again. The Quad-City Times reports the campaign rented six rooms from last summer until after the Iowa caucuses early this month.

Building manager Duane Jones says when the staff left — he found garbage, spoiled food, holes drilled in the walls for phone lines without permission, and stains on the carpets. He also says a smoke alarm was missing — and noticed that windows were often open on cold days — leading him to believe staffers were smoking in the non-smoking building.

Jones says he kept the campaign's $500 deposit — and finally received a check last week to cover the additional cleanup expenses. The local Clinton campaign chairman says he was not in the office much — but never noticed any damage — and that he only learned about the allegations was last week.

Edwards eyes a brokered convention

(The Hill) - Former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) has his sights set on playing kingmaker at the Denver convention in August, one of his most senior campaign officials hinted Monday.

While dismissing suggestions that this implied Edwards had accepted he was out of contention for the nomination, Deputy Campaign Manager Jonathan Prince said the candidate would probably get enough delegates to play a decisive role in tipping the Democratic nomination under party rules.

Stokes residents object to animal-shelter policy

County commissioners take public comments on issue

DANBURY (Winston-Salem Journal) -
Stokes County residents and animal-rights activists turned out to talk about issues at the county’s animal shelter during a commissioner’s meeting last night.

Citing state laws, animal-rights activists said that they were concerned that the shelter was operating in violation of euthanasia laws and urged the Stokes County Board of Commissioners and county officials to investigate the practices at the shelter.

The commissioners did not discuss the animal shelter last night, but heard comments from the public. Of about 20 people who showed up, eight people signed up to speak.

Stokes board to decide on emergency dispatch grant

Part of a state project, it speeds up response of emergency personnel

DANBURY (Winston-Salem Journal) -
Stokes County has been offered an emergency-medical-dispatch grant that could cut about 30 seconds off its emergency-medical-dispatch time, which is now two minutes, officials said.

The state has issued about $72,000 to Stokes as part of an Emergency Medical Dispatch Enhancement Project, if the county agrees to a 20 percent match of the grant.

BOB NOVAK: Black vs. Brown Risky For Clinton...

LOS ANGELES (Washington Post) - Sen. Hillary Clinton is relying on the big Latino vote as her firewall to prevent her losing the Feb. 5 primary in California, the most important of 22 states contested on the Democratic side on Mega Tuesday. But that reliance, both pro-Clinton and anti-Clinton Democrats say, is fraught with peril for the Democratic Party coalition because it threatens to alienate its essential African American component.

Clinton Cancels TV interviews...

(MediaBistro.com) - Sen. Hillary Clinton's staff had confirmed interviews earlier today with Fox News Channel, MSNBC and CNN. They were to be conducted after the President's State of the Union address. After wrapping an interview with Sen. Obama, CNN's Anderson Cooper said, "Senator Clinton agreed to talk with us. At the last minute she canceled. Her campaign is offering no explanation."

MSNBC and FNC confirm with TVNewser that Clinton canceled her appearances on those networks as well.

Sen. Clinton was interviewed by NBC's Brian Williams at 10:26pmET, that appears to have been her only TV interview of the night.

A Frosty Moment Between Clinton, Obama

WASHINGTON (AP) - The state of their union? Icy.

Rival Democrats Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama came within a foot of one another just before President Bush's State of the Union speech Monday night and managed not to acknowledge each other.

Remembering the Gipper...

“Speech delivery counts for little on the world stage unless you have convictions and, yes, the vision to see beyond the front row seats. The Democrats may remember their lines, but how quickly they forget the lessons of the past. I have witnessed five major wars in my lifetime, and I know how swiftly storm clouds can gather on a peaceful horizon. The next time a Saddam Hussein takes over a Kuwait, or North Korea brandishes a nuclear weapon, will we be ready to respond? In the end, it all comes down to leadership. That is what this country is looking for now. It was leadership here at home that gave us strong American influence abroad and the collapse of imperial Communism. Great nations have responsibilities to lead, and we should always be cautious of those who would lower our profile because they might just wind up lowering our flag.”

Ronald Reagan

Rush Limbaugh's Morning Update: Results

All right, folks. Now, before we look to the results of Florida's primary, a final word or two on South Carolina -- where Barack Obama trounced the "inevitable" Democrat nominee: Mrs. Bill Clinton.

As predicted by me before the first votes were cast, Clinton, Inc. employed their "Southern Strategy."

Hillary left the state to campaign in the Northeast -- the white Northeast -- while Bull Connor Clinton injected race into the contest through the Drive-By Media at every opportunity. Bull Clinton predicted Hillary would lose because the "blacks" would come out for Obama. He reminded everybody that the Reverend Jackson won South Carolina's primary, too. (Big deal... He's black, they're black -- you get it?)

But something unanticipated happened when the votes were counted. The number of whites who voted for Obama [were] greater than the pre-primary polls had predicted. And that's due to another factor I've been talking about for years: Bull Clinton is a liability on the campaign trail. The truth is that Bull Clinton turns off more people than he turns on. In South Carolina, late-deciding blacks and whites all told the pollsters -- the exit pollsters -- that they were impacted by Bull Clinton's race-baiting campaign, negatively.

So now it's on to California and other states, where the Clintons will use race like they did in Nevada; this time, Hispanics versus blacks -- to try to wedge Obama out.

Now, two things are clear. 1) Clinton, Inc. will do anything to win; and 2) Mrs. Clinton's incapable of succeeding under her own steam. She needs her man. Don't doubt me -- ever!

Read the Background Material on the Morning Update...
AP: Bill Clinton Affected SC Race Marginally

Monday, January 28, 2008

Clinton Brings Campaign to Florida

SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) - Stung by her lopsided loss to Barack Obama in South Carolina, Hillary Rodham Clinton is trying to shift her momentum in Florida - even though its Democratic primary won't count for much.

Like her rivals, Clinton has agreed to a pledge imposed by national party leaders not to publicly campaign in the state. But after South Carolina, Clinton was skating up against the edge of that agreement and trying to lend some credibility to the outcome Tuesday.

She arrived in Florida on Sunday for two events - both closed fundraisers, in keeping with the pledge not to campaign. She clearly winked at that pledge with her arrival, joking about the warm weather and positioning herself so photographers had a palm tree for a backdrop.

"It is absolutely glorious," said Clinton. "It is a perfect day here in Florida."

Earlier, Clinton said there's intense interest in the campaign in Florida, where early voting is heavy.

Clinton’s Camp Seeks Gentler Role for Ex-President

(The New York Times) - Democrats inside and outside the Clinton campaign on Sunday debated and in some cases bemoaned the degree to which former President Bill Clinton’s criticism of Senator Barack Obama last week had inflicted lasting damage on his wife’s presidential candidacy.

“I think his harsh style hurt Senator Clinton — it polarized the campaign and polarized the electorate, and it also made it harder for Senator Clinton’s positive message to break through,” said Celinda Lake, a Democratic strategist and pollster who is not affiliated with any of the candidates.

Sen. Kennedy: Obama Endorsement About 'The Future'

(ABC News) - Heading into a 22-state, delegate-rich Super Tuesday showdown Feb. 5, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., got a boost from the liberal lion of the Senate, earning the highly sought Kennedy anointment Monday afternoon at an American University rally.

Romney Criticizes McCain Legislation

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Mitt Romney and John McCain accused each other Monday of being liberals, a charge tantamount to blasphemy in the caustic campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.

One day before the crucial Florida primary, Romney lambasted the Arizona senator for a host of "liberal answers" to the country's problems. Among them: McCain's legislation curbing money in politics, his more forgiving view of illegal immigrants and his backing of an energy bill that Romney said would raise consumer costs.

A moment for strategy

I think Democrats have realized that the Republicans are so determined to nominate [insert pubbie dipstick name here], that they no longer need their "A" team. It occurs to me that the smarter Democrat strategists (potential oxymoron, I know), have discerned that removing the "Hillary Hate" factor from the election cycle will help ensure that the maximum number of center-right voters stay home this Fall. The offer of Attorney General to Edwards brings the unions and the victim class firmly under Obama's tent. He could potentially have the Democrat base sewn up by Spring.

For the first time in two years, Hillary has developed cracks in her inevitability.

Is anyone else as awed as I am at the irony of Hillary's ambitions being dashed by the complete incompetence of the Republicans themselves?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

3 GOP candidates won't do debate

They say they have schedule conflicts; all Democrats will attend

RALEIGH (Winston-Salem Journal) - The North Carolina chapter of the NAACP is holding a debate today for candidates running for governor, but three Republican candidates will be elsewhere.

The three - Mayor Pat McCrory of Charlotte, lawyer Bill Graham of Salisbury and state Sen. Fred Smith of Johnston County - all said they would like to attend the debate, but are tied up with previous commitments.

Bob Orr, a former justice on the N.C. Supreme Court, is the only other Republican in the governor’s race. Orr plans to attend the debate, as do the three Democratic candidates.

The absence of the Republicans is reminiscent of a one-person presidential “debate” sponsored last July by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The NAACP invited all 10 Republican candidates running for president at the time, but only the fringe candidate Tom Tancredo showed up. The stage was lined with empty podiums.

In North Carolina, the president of the state’s NAACP chapter said yesterday that he wishes that all seven major-party candidates running for governor would attend today’s debate.

BOB NOVAK: John Edwards will be named Attorney General in an Obama White House...

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Rasmussen Reports) - Illinois Democrats close to Sen. Barack Obama are quietly passing the word that John Edwards will be named attorney general in an Obama administration.

Installation at the Justice Department of multimillionaire trial lawyer Edwards would please not only the union leaders supporting him for president but organized labor in general. The unions relish the prospect of an unequivocal labor partisan as the nation's top legal officer.

In public debates, Obama and Edwards often seem to bond together in alliance against front-running Sen. Hillary Clinton. While running a poor third, Edwards could collect a substantial bag of delegates under the Democratic Party's proportional representation. Edwards then could try to turn his delegates over to Obama in the still unlikely event of a deadlocked Democratic National Convention.

Bill Clinton Takes on the ‘Polarizing’ Issue

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (The New York Times) – Bill Clinton just staged a passionate defense of his wife here, after a voter asked how Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton could unite this country when it is so split, politically and racially, and when she is such a polarizing figure.

The question unleashed an attack against the Republicans and an unusual assertion that Mr. Clinton had somehow escaped those attacks (has he forgotten so quickly?); he said he understood the right-wing bullies because he grew up with them. And he said that when they “didn’t have me to kick around anymore,” they went after his wife.

Bill Clinton: John McCain and Hillary are 'very close'

(CNN) — If Hillary Clinton and John McCain become their party's presidential nominees, the general election race is likely to be a love-fest.

At least according to Bill Clinton.

Campaigning in Spartanburg, South Carolina, Friday, the former president brushed aside suggestions his wife would prove to be a divisive nominee for the Democratic Party, pointing out how she has successfully worked with Republicans in the Senate — including one of the current GOP presidential candidates.

"She and John McCain are very close," Clinton said. "They always laugh that if they wound up being the nominees of their party, it would be the most civilized election in American history, and they're afraid they'd put the voters to sleep because they like and respect each other."

The comments may not be welcome by the McCain camp — which yesterday faced fire from several of its rivals for winning the backing of the New York Times — a longtime archenemy of conservatives.

Sens. McCain and Clinton last met publicly at an ABC debate earlier January, when presidential candidates of both parties shared the same stage. The two were seen exchanging pleasantries, and a Clinton side said she told the Arizona senator he’d done a “good job” staging a comeback in New Hampshire. He asked that she say hello to Bill Clinton for him.

Friday, January 25, 2008

John Edwards: Losing Ugly

By Charles Krauthammer
Real Clear Politics

There's losing. There's losing honorably. And then there's John Edwards.

Has Rudy Blown It?

What the Florida strategy means to the GOP’s former frontrunner.

By Byron York
National Review Online

Last November, when Rudy Giuliani was still the national frontrunner in the Republican presidential race, I asked him about his strategy for the weeks to come. His campaign would be moving into Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, he told me. “Everybody has their own theory,” Giuliani said. “Our theory was to get the big states organized, try to beat everybody else to getting the big states organized, so you have them as a fallback, and then take your resources and start to expend them in the states that come up first. And now we’re going to do that.”

But he didn’t, really. Giuliani didn’t make an all-out effort in Iowa, he didn’t make an all-out effort in New Hampshire, and he didn’t make much of an effort at all in Michigan and South Carolina. Rather than try to win in any of those states — in some of them, he had been leading in the polls as recently as December — Giuliani decamped to Florida, where he has been campaigning almost nonstop for weeks.

There was no single reason for Giuliani’s decision. Rather, his move was the result of falling ratings in some early-state polls, the effects of a damaging — and inaccurate — report on Giuliani’s personal life, and the candidate’s own campaign style. Put them all together, and Giuliani was left with an ostensibly national campaign that had shrunk to a single state.

Kerry blasts Bill Clinton for 'abusing truth'

WASHINGTON (CNN) — John Kerry, the Democratic Party's 2004 nominee for president, took aim at Bill Clinton Friday, telling the National Journal the former president does "not have a license to abuse the truth."

The Massachusetts senator, who endorsed Barack Obama's White House bid earlier this month, said Clinton's criticisms of the Illinois senator have been "over the top," and suggested the former president is getting "frantic."

“Dogs, cats latest victims of subprime-mortgage mess.”

(The Patriot Post) - As our capitalist economy plunges toward Armageddon—or so the Leftmedia would have us believe—we urge readers to remember the most defenseless among us. Though the media constantly peddles the idea, we are not referring to women and children, nor minorities, nor even minority women and children that are always hardest hit by bad economic news. Just this week, a Reuters dispatch was titled, “Poor still suffering from last recession.” After all, George W. Bush cut taxes only for the rich, so the poor (who by the way don’t pay taxes) didn’t get a tax cut. Then again, the Bush tax cuts removed about 25 million Americans from the federal tax rolls, but we digress. These most defenseless among us are cats. And dogs. The Chicago Tribune reports on the disaster created by the sub-prime-mortgage crunch with a headline: “Dogs, cats latest victims of subprime-mortgage mess.” Now we know it’s bad. All we can say is, they forgot to mention birds, fish, snakes, rabbits, other miscellaneous rodents, horses and maybe most important, donkeys.

Around the nation: The ‘gun show loophole’

(The Patriot Post) - A bill that would have closed the so-called “gun show loophole” failed to pass a Virginia House committee on 18 January, and a similar bill was defeated in a Senate committee five days later. The bills were backed by Virginia Democrat Governor Timothy Kaine, anti-gun lobbyists and the families of certain Virginia Tech shooting victims. While our condolences go out to the latter, we can’t help but notice that the “gun show loophole” —the sale of firearms between private parties at gun shows without background checks—had nothing to do with the Virginia Tech shooting. Seung-hui Cho bought his guns from licensed dealers and passed government-mandated background checks before going on a rampage in a “gun-free” zone. “The bill would not have changed anything,” said Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League. “If this had passed last year, Virginia Tech would still have happened.”

Gun-rights groups worry that a law requiring “instant” background checks on private sales at gun shows would be the first step toward a California-style law that requires a ten-day waiting period on private sales anywhere. We can forgive said groups for believing that the Virginia bills were nothing more than an attempt by gun grabbers to restrict further the rights of law-abiding citizens, with the Virginia Tech tragedy used as an emotional, albeit false, pretext. In the end, the shooting at Virginia Tech was politicized by the Left and the families were only pawns in the process.

Regulatory Commissars: Freedom = prosperity

(The Patriot Post) - Rather than focusing on practices that have the short-term appearance of increasing wealth (like tax “rebate” checks), the government ought to be working to enhance and strengthen the only real foundation for prosperity: freedom. In the long-term, income redistribution stifles innovation, encourages dependence and simply makes everyone poorer. As much as the demagogues on Capitol Hill and the campaign trail may try to convince us otherwise, the reality is that only free Americans can generate prosperity by working hard and investing wisely.

This basic principle of a connection between freedom and prosperity is demonstrated once again by the “2008 Index of Economic Freedom,” recently released by the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal. The report rates the levels of economic freedom in 150 nations, taking into account factors like low taxes, low government spending, property rights and courts that reliably enforce contracts. The results are clear: the freer a nation’s economy, the higher the average income of the nation’s citizens. The freest are eight times as prosperous as the most oppressed.

Specific situations are often complicated, but the principle is clear. The best thing a government can do for the economy is to cease meddling, to keep its citizens free and to allow them to keep their income and spend, share or invest it as they see fit. It is perhaps most important to remember this during an election season. Presidents don’t create jobs or wealth, entrepreneurs do. What presidents can do is make sure the citizens of our country remain free under the Constitution.

Frontiers of Science: Active Antarctica volcano

(The Patriot Post) - During the lifetime of Alexander the Great, a massive volcanic eruption rocked Antarctica, punching a hole through the ice sheet and sending up great plumes of debris that littered the surrounding landscape, an area spanning about 110 miles. The layer, hidden beneath the snows of more than two millennia, was discovered during airborne radar surveys conducted in 2004 and 2005. The thickness of the ice above the ash along with acids found in ice cores aided in dating the eruption to approximately 325 B.C. Scientists F.J. Corr and David Vaughan discovered the evidence for this volcano and reported in a Sunday post on the Web site of the journal Nature Geoscience that it is still active today. The scientists agree that the heat from a volcano could be a contributing factor to Antarctica’s melting ice. Meanwhile, global-warming alarmists would have you look the other way while they repeat their “man-made” mantra.

Village Academic Curriculum: What we meant was...

(The Patriot Post) - The University of California at San Francisco issued a press release last week stating that homosexual men are much more likely than heterosexual men to be diagnosed with a new strain of drug-resistant staphylococcus known as MRSA USA300. This disease has quickly become known as “the new HIV.” While it is no surprise that homosexual behavior puts a person at greater risk to get an infection or HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, for years the politically correct police have been denying that fact. It is therefore interesting to note that, after the press release had been published and conservative groups took note, the University quickly rushed to cover up its candor. They issued an apology saying that their release had “contained some information that could be interpreted as misleading.” The statement continued, “We deplore negative targeting of specific populations in association with MRSA infections or other public health concerns.” Political correctness such as this should not take priority over the need to convey accurate information to the public. The truth is that homosexual behavior increases the risk of psychological problems and sexually transmitted diseases. Of course, the only way to avoid such risks is to take responsibility and accountability for one’s actions, a behavior modality that runs contrary to the liberal agenda.

Good economic medicine needed

(The Patriot Post) - The White House is currently considering a plan to take inflation into account when taxing capital gains. The President, by executive order, may have the Treasury Department define “cost” as “historical cost plus inflation” when assessing capital-gains taxes. The National Center for Policy Analysis says that the current system, which does not account for inflation, means “investors pay billions of dollars of tax on phantom gains.” In other words, taxpayers fork over money on “profitable” investments that didn’t actually gain purchasing power over time. It’s high time this was fixed.

Another way to stimulate the economy would be to expand oil drilling. Crude has dropped to around $90 a barrel on the news of the looming economic slump, but it is estimated that the U.S. spends about $1 billion per day more on oil than just two years ago. Meanwhile, we are sitting on billions of barrels in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) and two trillion barrels in oil shale in the western U.S. and Canada. Drilling in one location is currently being held up for fear of the effect on polar bears. From the We’re-Not-Making-This-Up Files, Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) wants to block drilling in the Chukchi Sea (OCS lease 193) until the Department of Interior classifies the polar bear as an “endangered species,” despite the fact that the polar-bear population is healthy and growing. In fact, the population of about 25,000 is nearly three times what it was 50 years ago. Lease 193 and ANWR together represent nearly $3 trillion to the economy.

Income Redistribution: Economic ‘stimulus’

(The Patriot Post) - Now that foreign and domestic markets are trembling at the possibility of a recession in America, President Bush, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and congressional leaders all agree that the time has come to create an economic-stimulus package to revive the economy. In a display of surprising bipartisanship (or is that “buy-partisanship”?), “House leaders and the administration reached tentative agreement today on a roughly $145 billion economic stimulus that would quickly send payments to poor and middle class workers while offering businesses one-time incentives to invest in new equipment and write off tax losses,” The Washington Post reports.

Both sides gave up important demands. Republicans agreed to tax rebates of up to $1,000, even for families who don’t earn enough to pay income taxes to begin with. This is otherwise known as “income redistribution.” Democrats, on the other hand, gave up on extending unemployment benefits and food stamps—for now. As for the rebates, again The Post: “Under the deal, nearly everyone earning a paycheck would receive at least $300 from the Internal Revenue Service. Most workers would receive rebates of $600 each, or $1,200 per couple. Families with children would receive an additional payment of $300 per child. Workers who earned at least $3,000 last year—but not enough to pay income taxes—would be eligible for $300.”

As with past tax rebates, the idea behind the scheme is that returning this money to taxpayers will lead to a rush of consumer spending that will boost the economy. President Bush used this option in 2001, but there is little evidence that the $300-$600 payout actually was what turned the country around. In fact, it was the tax cuts that revived the economy after the 2001 recession, not the tax rebates, that ended up being put into savings and used to pay existing expenses. Rather than falling back on political parlor tricks that have never been proven to work, Congress should make the Bush tax cuts permanent. Lower taxes are what keep the economy growing, no matter how you crunch the numbers.

From Russia with love

(The Patriot Post) - The United Nations Security Council Permanent 5 (P5) + 1 (USA, Britain, France, China, Russia + Germany) announced on Wednesday that they had agreed on language for a new Security Council resolution on Iran’s nuclear program. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov couldn’t even wait for the joint press release before he broadcast the message that Iran had nothing to worry about: “Additional measures of influence on Iran are envisioned, but they are not of the tough or sanctionative [sic] kind.” The other P5 + 1 members all tacitly confirmed Lavrov’s statements, acknowledging that the new language ruled out any serious measures aimed at Iran’s economy. The draft reportedly calls only for monitoring Iranian financial transactions and certain military organizations. Attempting to put some lipstick on this pig, State Department rep Nicholas Burns said, “Iran had been predicting that the Security Council was no longer unified enough to pass a third resolution, and they were wrong.” We suppose it depends on what the meaning of “unified” is.

It is common knowledge that Russia and China have fought tooth and nail to water down the UNSC language, but observers should keep their eyes on three other known trouble-makers: Libya, Indonesia, and South Africa currently occupy non-permanent seats on the UNSC, and all three have backed Iran against the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in the past. In November 2005 they were among five countries that abstained on an IAEA Board of Governors vote over whether to refer Iran to the UNSC. As if that wasn’t enough, the rotating UNSC Presidency will pass to Russia in March, just as the UNSC will likely get down to voting on the proposed resolution. Iran has thus far successfully gamed the IAEA and is within one year of waiting out the Bush administration, with a key assist from the very organization—the IAEA—that exists solely to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.

Profiles of valor: USAF Staff Sgt. Kimberling

(The Patriot Post) - In August 2006, Staff Sgt. Jason Kimberling was one of three members of a security force assisting a convoy of 35 Afghan personnel from the National Police (ANP) and the Afghan National Army (ANA). The convoy was sent to aid at a highway checkpoint in Qalat Province that had come under attack. More than 100 Taliban fighters suddenly attacked Kimberling’s convoy with rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns. The driver of the security force’s Humvee positioned the vehicle to provide cover. Kimberling returned fire from outside the vehicle until nearly being hit by an RPG. He quickly recovered from the blast to kill two Taliban fighters headed his way, which further enabled his Afghan allies to kill other jihadis. After more fighting, the convoy was able to move to higher ground, where, still under fire, Kimberling used a satellite phone to call in air support to end the battle. An estimated 20 jihadis were killed in the firefight, while not a single casualty occurred among the good guys. Kimberling was awarded the Bronze Star with combat “V” for valor and the Army Commendation Medal for his actions.

Homeland Security front: Padilla gets 17 years

(The Patriot Post) - Convicted al-Qa’ida conspirator Jose Padilla (a.k.a. Abdullah al Muhajir) was sentenced this week to 17 years in prison. The Associated Press headline read, “17 Years for Ex-’Dirty Bomb’ Suspect.” That led The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto to ask, “So what, it’s a crime to have once been suspected of something?” He continues, “Oh, by the way, what exactly was it that Padilla was convicted for? The AP finally gets around to telling us in the fifth paragraph.” Here is the AP’s account: “Padilla, 37, and co-defendants Adham Amin Hassoun, 45, and Kifah Wael Jayyousi, 46, were convicted in August of terrorism conspiracy and material support after a three-month trial. Jurors concluded they were part of a support cell that sent recruits, money and supplies to Islamic extremists worldwide, including al-Qaida.”

As we noted in August, Padilla’s arrest and, in particular, his detention as an “enemy combatant” rather than a criminal (he is a U.S. citizen and Chicago native) sparked outrage among leftists who decried the “violation” of his civil rights. He became the poster child, as it were, for the debate over classification of terrorists. The AP’s “reporting” only highlights the problem.

From the Department of Military Correctness

(The Patriot Post) - If Western civilization falls, one of the root causes will be political correctness. Sadly, even the Pentagon is now infected. Major Stephen Coughlin, a lawyer and reserve military intelligence officer, is the Pentagon’s sole specialist on Islamic law, providing senior military officers with information on Islamic jihad doctrine. Considering that we are in fact fighting jihadis, that’s not a bad idea. If you recall, one of the initial—and valid—criticisms of the U.S. military after we went on the offensive was that we knew little to nothing about the enemy we were fighting. Unfortunately, Major Coughlin’s contract with the military ends in March because he has hurt the PC sensibilities of a key aide to the Deputy Secretary of Defense. The name of that key aide? Why, it’s Commander Hesham Islam, an Egyptian-born Muslim. Commander Islam has confronted Major Coughlin and told him to “soften his views of Islamist extremism,” and the PC crowd at the Pentagon is willing to go along and throw Major Coughlin under the PC bus. No doubt the message will be received by others, who may now think twice before speaking the truth about Islam. So, Commander Islam (shudder) now dictates what our military leaders will hear about our jihadi enemies. Sheer stupidity.

Gen. Petraeus to head NATO?

(The Patriot Post) - According to a senior Pentagon official, General David Petraeus, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq and architect of the highly successful counter-insurgency “surge” strategy, is reportedly being considered for command of NATO. However, the official also said that there are “no final decisions” yet. By this fall, a potential start date for the NATO post, Petraeus will have served 19 months as U.S. commander in Iraq and accumulated almost four years of service in Iraq during three tours since 2003. In the NATO job, Petraeus would help shape the growing alliance’s identity, helping it cope with an increasingly aggressive Russia and, more significantly, overseeing the NATO mission in Afghanistan, where his counter-insurgency tactics may be put to good use. While it may be time for Petraeus to move on up, we hope that he doesn’t leave Iraq too soon. By setting us on a course for victory there (regardless of what the Surrendercrats say), he has done a tremendous service to our troops and to our country, and he should be given the opportunity to finish the job.

From the Left: The Clinton Chronicles continue

(The Patriot Post) - Former President Bill Clinton told the media that he personally witnessed voter intimidation by Culinary Workers Union supporters of Barack Obama at last week’s Nevada caucus. Obama and Hillary Clinton split Nevada with 13 and 12 delegates, respectively, which was probably what led to the baseless accusations of intimidation. After all, the Clintons believe that Hillary should just be anointed as the Democrat nominee, and any loss that she suffers must be the work of fraud. The Las Vegas press has yet to find any evidence of voter suppression or intimidation in the Nevada contest, and the Obama campaign has urged the Clintons to file complaints if they have evidence. Obama’s people certainly realize that the Clintons don’t work that way. For them, it’s not about evidence; it’s about what kind of story they can spread in the media.

In another story, it appears Bill’s post-presidential work as a financial consultant for longtime supporter Ron Burkle, a billionaire investor, could net him a cool $20 million. Clinton was an adviser in Burkle’s Yucaipa investment group, which reaped hundreds of millions of dollars in profits from large domestic sales in recent months. Clinton has been looking to cash out of the deal to remove any potential conflicts of interest with his wife’s White House candidacy. The extent of Bill’s involvement with Yucaipa still remains unclear and, based on the Clintons’ history of questionable business dealings, is worthy of further public scrutiny.

Finally, Hillary Clinton accused Barack Obama in the latest debate of “practicing law and representing your contributor, [Tony] Rezko, in his slum landlord business in inner city Chicago,” a nasty shot that one could read as racially bigoted. Well, what do you know... a photo of Clinton with Rezko surfaced. Hillary pulled out the old standby “I don’t recall...” when questioned about it. “I probably have taken hundreds of thousands of pictures. I don’t know the man. I wouldn’t know him if he walked in the door.” Maybe true, but with Clinton, who knows?

Campaign watch: The Republican field thins out

(The Patriot Post) - For the Republicans, Mitt Romney and John McCain each walked away with victories last week, winning Nevada and South Carolina, respectively. Romney was able to pull 50-percent support in Nevada, where Mormons provided a boost for him. For McCain, victory in the state that symbolized the bitter end of his 2000 White House run was further vindication of his renewed candidacy. Still, McCain secured fewer votes in South Carolina this year than when he lost eight years ago—not the direction he wants to be going. The official delegate count shows Romney in the lead with 72 to McCain’s 38. Both candidates appear to have the edge on Rudy Giuliani in Florida, where the former New York City mayor has placed all his chips. A loss there could doom the Giuliani campaign. Then again, only registered Republicans can vote in the Florida primary, taking away McCain’s base. Meanwhile, Mike Huckabee is looking more and more like a one-hit wonder.

Fred Thompson called it quits this week after his dismal third-place finish in South Carolina, a state he desperately needed to win. Many conservatives, including those in our humble shop, thought that Thompson was a good fit for the conservative coalition, but his popularity peaked even before he officially announced his candidacy, and his poor finishes in the early states suggest that he waited too long to get into the race.

Another fine conservative, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), also bowed out this week after taking a beating in the Nevada and South Carolina contests. Hunter fielded more questions from the media about the viability of his candidacy than about the issues he championed, which resulted in low national recognition, little money and a string of poor finishes.

New & notable legislation

(The Patriot Post) - Congress failed this week to override President Bush’s veto of the attempted expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). However, liberals have found new clarity of vision in trying to work Medicaid expansion into any economic stimulus. A recession strikes liberals as a sure-fire reason for the government to relieve parents of their responsibility for their children’s health care.

The Senate re-approved the defense-authorization bill this week, after President Bush vetoed it over Christmas break because of the provision allowing Iraq to be held legally liable for actions perpetrated by Saddam Hussein’s regime. The bill was amended to remove the provision. The House passed the revised version last week, and President Bush is expected to sign it.

The Senate is also considering legislation that would do two things: expand government healthcare on Indian reservations and also expand the Davis Bacon Act, which requires prevailing wages and benefits be paid to contractors brought in for the work of building new facilities on the reservations.

Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) introduced the Middle Class Jobs Protection Act (H.R. 4995), a significant part of which would reduce the top corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent.

Former presidential candidate Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) reintroduced the Secure Fence Act Wednesday, which mandates construction of double-layered fencing along the U.S. /Mexico border within six months, something that the Homeland Security Department has been apparently loath to do. “Today, DHS has built approximately 75 miles of new fence along the border, of which only five miles is double-layered,” Hunter said. “The Secure Fence Act was clear in that it required double-layered fencing, separated by a road for Border Patrol vehicles, extending over 700 miles of land border.”

News from the Swamp: Earmarks

(The Patriot Post) - As for obviously wasteful government spending, it looks as if President George W. Bush will pass up the opportunity to reject the large number of congressional earmarks that are not part of binding legislation by simply instructing executive agencies to spend the money differently, but he is expected to push for greater justification in the future for the earmarks that do exist in conference-committee reports. Congressional Republicans are reluctant to get behind the President in his effort to shut down “the congressional favor factory” because, like their colleagues across the aisle, they want to bring money home to their constituents. They also fear a political backlash in a future Democrat administration.

However, more than 20 House and Senate members have vowed not to seek new earmarks for their districts. House conservatives led by Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) hope to force a conference vote for an earmark moratorium, but they need 50 GOP votes to do so. Even then, once the vote is forced, they need a majority of the 199 House Republicans to sign on, which is unlikely. These brave souls no longer want to be a part of the problem, but they may pay the price back home, where constituents are angered at losing money for projects they believe are worthwhile.

The White House Office of Management and Budget did suggest that the total number of earmarks has decreased since 2005, with spending reduced by $2.1 billion, or 11 percent.

Faith and Family: RU-486 use on the rise

(The Patriot Post) - It’s butchery in a bottle, and it’s becoming the weapon of choice against unborn babies. RU-486, the so-called “non-surgical abortion,” is on the rise. According to a new survey by the Guttmacher Institute, RU-486 abortions “expanded substantially between 2000 and 2005.” The survey reported that although overall abortion rates are at their lowest since 1974, RU-486 abortions have been surging by 22 percent per year and now constitute 13 percent of all reported abortions and 22 percent of abortions performed by the ninth week of pregnancy. The reasons range from the increasing availability of the drug to its “privacy,” as it can be distributed in any doctor’s office, allowing women to avoid abortion clinics.

According to Beth Jordan, Medical Director of the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, “It’s going a long way towards normalizing abortion.” Indeed, RU-486 already accounts for more than 60 percent of abortions in some European countries, and experts expect its popularity in the U.S. to continue growing. If that happens, the downward abortion trend may only be temporary. Unfortunately, because reporting requirements for RU-486 lag behind requirements for surgical abortions, we many never know the true number of unborn babies lost to the “convenience” of this pill.

On Nancy Reynolds School [RE: (Stokes County) School board setting priorities for construction projects]

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a ‘line-by-line’ response on the ol’ BP. I’ve been watching this situation from afar, and am understandably intrigued. I’m a native of the community and went to school at Nancy Reynolds. So did my sister, my mother, and my father. My grandmother taught her entire career there, as did my mom. So yes, there’s some history there. I know the school, the setting, and the grounds comparatively well.

By Wendy Byerly Wood

First off, thanks to Wood for regularly reporting on this subject. Please keep it up, and keep asking questions.

With more than $55 million in construction needs already noted, the Stokes County Board of Education Tuesday met to decide where its focus should be in preparation for a joint meeting with the county commissioners set for yesterday afternoon.
At the school board’s first January meeting, members received an updated study of the school system’s population growth and a prediction of where it will go heading into the next couple of years.
The board was advised by Jeff Zie, of North Carolina State University’s OR/Ed. lab that the county only needs one new elementary school to address its overcrowding issues in the western district as opposed to the original recommendation two years ago of two new elementary schools and a new middle school.

Well, that’s good news. Instead of new construction, investment can be made to preserve what the Stokes County already has. Let’s hope the board can see it that way.

In light of finding out this new data, school board members Tuesday decided to first identify priorities or standards they would like to use in setting forth a long range, comprehensive facility needs plan. During their discussions, the four standards the board members decided the county’s schools should meet are safety, energy efficiency, age and condition and quality space.
From that point, they identified the first construction priorities as being a new elementary school in the west district as well as additional classrooms at Lawsonville, Mount Olive and Pinnacle elementary schools.
Another priority of the board and the school system’s staff is to address needs at Nancy Reynolds Elementary School, which is facing major structural deficiencies, according to an engineering study by Jerry Moorefield. The school system has done some temporary work to address the deterioration of the school’s foundation and is working to reinforce the rafters, which Maintenance Director Ricky Goins said are separating at the knee joints and beginning to sag slightly.
But Moorefield told Goins that those temporary measures will not last more than three years and a more permanent solution needs to be found in addressing the structural safety of the school, either through a historical reconstruction, which could cost twice what a new $7 million school would cost, or through a replacement of the school.

To recap, “major structural deficiencies” exist at Nancy Reynolds, but first construction priorities exist at Lawsonville, Mount Olive, and Pinnacle with an entirely new school prioritized around King, Winston-Salem's rapidly-growing, tax-ducking bedroom community. (By the way, Nancy Reynolds-area residents and parents should remember this prioritization, possibly around the time of the next BOE election cycle.)
Out of “$55 million in construction needs,” surely complete structural preservation of Nancy Reynolds Elementary School — the educational landmark built as a memorial for Nancy Jane Cox Reynolds, mother of Mr. R.J. Reynolds — warrants $14 million. After all, Nancy Reynolds is in this state because it wasn’t properly maintained for years. The school and the community finally deserve some service in lieu of what it was gypped out of in decades past.
Also, Stokes News readers should remember that Moorefield is a structural engineer hired by the board, not a builder or a historic building restoration expert. Let’s look to more than one source of information when it comes to speaking in the millions of dollars while pushing specific agendas.

The school board also noted that work needs to be done at Southeastern Middle School to bring its facility up to date. That work mainly would be addressing the old elementary building, which has classrooms too small for middle school class sizes and only one bathroom for each gender.
Looking at the cost estimates provided in a workbook by David Burge, director of operations, those projects could total close to $30 million.
Also, Superintendent Dr. Stewart Hobbs suggested the board interview and choose an architectural firm to come in to Stokes County and do a full long-range facility needs plan based on a structural analysis of the schools’ life cycle, efficiency, population, age, use, etc.
"When we start talking about $20 million, $30 million, even $40 million, the commissioners owe it to the community to have done all their homework and know what we want to have happen. It is easier to get support from the community that way," Hobbs said. "I really feel like there is a lot of information in here and we need to make sure we have enough information to make the right decisions … I think we need to make sure we give them as much good information as we can so that we can sell it to the public," he said … We’ve got a lot of schools over 50 years old," Hobbs said. "If you know you’re going to replace a school in five years, then you’re not going to spend millions on cosmetic work."

Regarding schools over 50 years old, yes: Nancy Reynolds is definitely that — 85 years old, to be exact, which is the exact same age as Winston-Salem’s flagship public high school, R.J. Reynolds. Both were built in 1923 with the generous funding of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, and to this day both continue to receive financial benefits of those initial philanthropic achievements in education. For a hint of how such historical public buildings should be maintained and updated, call R.J. Reynolds’ principal for an in-person visit.

The school board agreed with Hobbs suggestion to bring in an unbiased firm to look at the system’s needs. He said that most architectural firms will do plans like that at no cost with the understanding that the school system has that firm on retainer for its future projects.
"We keep bandaiding, bandaiding, bandaiding and begging, begging, begging. It is time we put our real priorities on the table," said school board Chairman Steve Shelton. "If it can’t happen this year, then we need to at least have a plan."

Yes, let’s hire an architectural firm — maybe even more than one! — for appraisals. However, is getting a free appraisal contingent on hiring a firm post-appraisal the best way to get good data?

For the board’s meeting with the commissioners on Wednesday, the school board planned to update the commissioners on the structural status of Nancy Reynolds as well as have some dialogue with them on what the county is looking for as far as a timeline on funding any school facility projects and then share with them the school board’s standards for determining what its construction priorities will be and the desire to complete a long-range facility needs plan.

Interestingly enough, the Winston-Salem Journal article on Stokes school construction failed to even mention Nancy Reynolds School by name. Yet, according to the local news, it seems that the story is mainly about what to do with Nancy Reynolds.
Yes, it’s a touchy subject, it seems. With other schools and communities salivating at the $55 million dollar mark named by the board, you can imagine that it’s in the best interest of the board to keep its majority of school construction advocates happy. However, serving this interest should not be at the expense of losing a most historical, important community landmark of Northwest Stokes County. Besides, Nancy Reynolds is long overdue for its fair share when it comes to structural maintenance. Once again, I say, it’s time to do it right and preserve what those before so generously gave us.