Archive for the ‘Internet’ Category

I’ve had a mildly frustrating day today. I could access LFR. I just couldn’t access my WP dashboard. (I kept getting 404 could not find errors.) After trying every trick in the book, & a few that weren’t, I decided “Screw this, download Firefox’, which I did. I got Firefox all setup the way I like it about a half hour ago. Or so I thought. I couldn’t access my TrueNorth dashboard with Firefox. MAJOR GRRRRR!!!

The next logical thing to do was to use Internet Explorer for TrueNorth & Firefox for everything else.

That’s when I noticed something unexpected and totally appreciated. When I started IE7, everything came up just like it’s supposed to, including my preset tabs.

HOORAY!!!

Now I’m back in business. It’s time to make up for lost time. It’s been an entire morning and afternoon since I’ve harrassed high profile liberals. With all this frustration, it won’t take me more than an hour for me to crank out at least 3-4 posts harassing liberals.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

Each election, candidates are scrutinized from a variety of directions and on an even wider variety of issues. Two issues that shouldn’t be debated, though, are the First Amendment and our nation’s prosperity. With that in mind, every candidate or incumbent nationwide should answer some questions on those subjects. Let’s get to the questions:

Do you support reviving the Fairness Doctrine? If you do, explain why? If you don’t, why not? Please keep your answers as precise and on point as possible.

If you support the Fairness Doctrine, outline with specificity how it could be implemented. Also, explain what impact it would have on the radio industry.

To House candidates:

Do you support Rep. Michael Capuano’s proposal to make it mandatory that representatives get prior approval to post work-related content on blogs, YouTube and other websites containing advertising on them? If you support it, why do you support it? If you don’t, why don’t you?

To all candidates and incumbents:

Does McCain-Feingold need to be reformed? If yes, which specific portions of it need reforming? If it doesn’t need reform, why doesn’t it?

Has McCain-Feingold been a success? If it has, what successes can you cite that happened directly because of McCain-Feingold? If it hasn’t been a success, why wasn’t it successful?

If McCain-Feingold wasn’t successful, were its shortcomings forseeable?

Does McCain-Feingold limit free speech? If it doesn’t, explain why it doesn’t.

As for prosperity, let’s ask the candidates this:

1) What specific steps would you take to curb inflation?

2) Can you curb inflation without dropping the price of oil? If you think you can, explain how that’s possible. If you think you can’t, explain how you’d lower the price of a gallon of gasoline.

3) Can you lower gas prices without exploration in areas that are currently offlimits? If you can, explain how that’s possible.

4) If you think you can’t lower prices without expanding exploration in areas currently offlimits, would you support opening up new areas for exploration?

5) Are marginal tax rates an important component to national prosperity? If they aren’t, why aren’t they? If they are, explain what role they play in fostering prosperity.

Candidates should be willing to answer each of these questions. Any reticence on their behalf to answer these questions specifically should be seen as their attempt to hide their unpopular opinions. This should tell us where candidates stand on two of the most important issues of this election cycle.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

Salena Zito has a must read post on her Primary Colors blog that talks about the disconnect between superdelegates and voters. It’s a stinging rebuke of the Democrats’ nominating process, too.

Joe Andrew, a Democratic National Committee chair for five minutes, lives and operates out of Washington, D.C. But when it comes to giving news conferences about the presidential campaign, his podium is in Indianapolis. That is where Andrew went from Beltway boy to Hoosier to make his “big” announcement on changing sides from Sen. Hillary Clinton to Sen. Barack Obama.

And the whole word gasped.

Well, not really the whole world. In all honesty, the collective gasp was heard from within the Beltway, that patch of geography where the chattering elite class of politicos live, breathe and eat.

But drive 15 minutes in any direction outside of the Beltway, and no one knows who Joe Andrew is or why his deflection should affect their vote.

Here is the problem that the media seems to ignore in this race for the Democrats: While there is plenty of headlines and pontifications about superdelegates moving their support to Obama, there is a curious dismissal of Clinton’s string of strong wins with the John Deere voters.

The reality is that elitist Democratic Washingtonians love being in the power chair. They love to think that their’s is the final opinion, that their’s is the opinion that matters most.

As blogs become the voice of Mainstreet America, the superdelegates’ opinions matter less and less. That’s where the disconnect is most clearly seen. At the center of this is Howard Dean, the man who fancies himself as an outsider. In reality, he, like Markos Moulitsas, is a Washington insider with a brash voice pretending to speak for the people.

Salena does the nation a great service by calling voters in the Heartland John Deere voters. They’re trying to tell people who their preference is for the Democratic nomination. The superdelegates aren’t listening. Here’s one of Salena’s most stinging rebukes:

While putting nearly 2,000 miles in the Hoosier State in the past week, the reflections and opinions of the voters is not that different than what I saw in Ohio and Pennsylvania. And those opinions are that superdelegates to them are people who make their minds up based on their experiences and geography, i.e. Washington D.C.

The voters make their opinions and decisions on their experiences in their geography, i.e. Middle America.

Yet the story remains that Clinton cannot mathematically win. Well since Barack Obama cannot win either without her dropping out, perhaps what the analysis should be is why voters continue to vote her in while Beltway news conferences tell them “no, no, no.”

There’s a reason why Sen. Obama is in deeper trouble than DC insiders think. It’s because he hasn’t connected with John Deere voters. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think that Hillary Clinton really connects with them, either. It’s just that she’s connecting with them better compared with how Obama is right now.

Neither compares with how Bill Clinton connected with how he connected with John Deere voters. That’s diminished now, mostly attributable to his spending the last 16 years inside the Washington-New York media bubble. That’s another post for another day.

Here’s another key Salena observation that the Democrats have ignored:

There is a huge disconnect between the Joe Andrew voters and the John Deere voters in this world. No one can win in the general election without them. They are the Reagan Democrats that swing elections. The last time I checked, the voters who live in the Beltway have never swung a national election. Ever.

Predictably, the best description of why Democrats are in trouble in their bid to reclaim the White House comes from a voter:

As one Hoosier voter said to me along the road, “just let us vote. Stop telling us it is over before we go to the booth.”

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

The last thing Howard Dean wanted to do on Sunday’s Meet the Press was defend the process in the Democrats’ presidential nominating process. That’s what he was forced to do, though, thanks to this quote from Ed Rendell:

GOV. ED RENDELL (D-PA): The popular vote is, to me, a much fairer indicia than the pledged delegates because the pledged delegates are elected in a very undemocratic way.

Here’s Dean’s reply to Russert’s question:

MR. RUSSERT: Do you agree with that?

DR. DEAN: Well, no, I don’t. First of all, I don’t agree with it. And secondly, look, we have a set of rules. My job here is not to side with one candidate or the other and talk about pledged delegates or superdelegates or any of that stuff. My job is to take the rules that everybody started with and enforce the rules without fear or favor of any candidate. The–somebody’s going to lose this with 49 percent of the delegates in Denver, and that person has to believe that they were treated fairly if–otherwise, we can’t win. Look, John McCain is a weak candidate. He’s wrong on Iraq, as far as the American people are concerned. We don’t want to stay there for a hundred years. He’s wrong on the economy; it wasn’t the mortgage holders that, that, whose fault this was. He’s wrong on healthcare. We should have health insurance for all our kids. He is not a strong candidate.

The only thing that’s going to beat us is if we’re not unified. And my, in order to be unified, both the losing candidate and the winning candidate have to feel like the system was fair. So Senator Rendell may say–I mean, Governor Rendell may not like the rules, but the rules are what we started with. Most of them have been in place for the last 25 years. That’s what we’ve got to go by, whether you like the rules or you don’t like the rules.

Dean’s got a point that both sides knew the rules going in. That said, Gov. Rendell is justified because he’s saying that it goes against the Democrats’ own principles. How can Dean’s Democrats justify Hillary winning Texas by a healthy margin but Obama getting more delegates than Hillary? How can they call that proportional apportionment? That’s what Al Gore called fuzzy math throughout the 2000 campaign.

Dean’s answer isn’t pure spin but it’s close. Dean’s calling John McCain a weak candidate isn’t close to the truth. Though Dean will attempt to paint Sen. McCain as a George Bush double, the truth is that that’s an uphill fight for Democrats. They’d have better luck selling parkas in Miami than selling John McCain as a Bush clone.

I’m left questioning why he’s even attempting that tack, especially given all the articles that’ve been written about McCain the maverick, the biggeest thorn in President Bush’s side. Howard Fineman was on Chris Matthews’ show all the time talking about how much trouble Sen. McCain was supposedly causing him. I never bought into that meme, though the internet is littered with those types of stories. (For all the heartburn Sen. McCain was supposedly causing President Bush, the list of achievements on President Bush’s resume is rather lengthy.)

Here’s proof that Gov. Rendell is right about the undemocratic methods used by Democrats:

MR. RUSSERT: The candidate with the most elected delegates is not guaranteed the nomination?

DR. DEAN: The rules say that the candidate with the most delegates gets the nomination, and I support the rules.

MR. RUSSERT: So that the superdelegates could, in effect, overrule the elected delegates?

DR. DEAN: That, you know, you shouldn’t think of it that way. So-called “superdelegates” are, in fact, elected by exactly the same people who vote for the elected delegates. This is just–this is like an–a representative democracy. You elect a–80 percent of the delegates, and they have to do what you ask them to do. The others, the 20 percent you elect, essentially do what’s in their best judgment, just like the House and the Senate does. Sometimes you like it, and sometimes you don’t. But these folks are elected, all, all of them, almost all of them are elected. A tiny minority are not elected; they’re appointed. But most of them are elected. They’re elected by the same people who went to the–who go to the conventions and go to the–vote in the primaries. They’re governors, senators. A lot of them are, are, are DNC members. There’s 21-year-olds there, there’s–50 percent are women and so on, and on, on it goes. So this should not be looked at as some bunch of cigar-smoking folks in the back room slapping each other in the back and electing the next president. It doesn’t work that way.

Is it just me or is Gov. Dean doing an excessive amount of tapdancing around these questions? Personally, it sounds like Gov. Dean would rather be taunting a cobra than facing Mr. Russert. To be fair, he should be nervous. Both Democratic candidates have been exposed, one as a lightweight with questionable judgment, the other as someone who can’t give a straight answer if her life depended on it.

This exhange will give you mental whiplash if you think it through:

MR. RUSSERT: But the elected delegates were elected because they ran supporting the person that won the primary or the caucus. What should be the criteria of a superdelegate when they make their judgment as to who to vote for?

DR. DEAN: Well, I’m not going to say what their criteria should be because that’s not what the rule–the rules don’t give you a criteria. They’re supposed to vote their conscience. My personal belief is they’re going to vote for the person they think, think can beat John McCain, which is what I think a lot of these voters are voting for. I think a lot of these folks are going to the polls and are going to go the week after next in Indiana and North Carolina are saying, “Which one of our folks, of our folks, Senator Obama or Senator Clinton, can best beat John McCain?”

MR. RUSSERT: So your personal view is that even if someone has won more elected delegates, if you think the other person would be a stronger candidate against John McCain, you’d opt for the other person?

DR. DEAN: Tim, that is not my personal view. My personal view is, I am the chairman of this party, we have a set of rules that have been in place for a year and a half, and I am the person who’s in charge of upholding the rules whether I like them or not. Are there some rules I might change next time around? Yeah, maybe so. But right now we’re focusing on the rules we have. Look, that’s all we’ve got. No–I feel like I’m the referee here at the NCAA finals. You know, you make some calls, but if you stick to the rules and do the right thing according the rules, you’re going to end up with a decent process. And that’s what we have to do.

There you have it. Gov. Dean was for voting the superdelegates voting their conscience until he was against the superdelegates voting their conscience. That was Gov. Dean’s personal belief until it wasn’t his belief 20 seconds later. Was Gov. Dean lying the first time when he said that it was his personal belief that the superdelegates were “going to vote for the person they think, think can beat John McCain” or was he lying when he said that that wasn’t his personal belief? Or is it just that he’s tapdancing as frantically as any political party chairman has ever tapdanced?

Whether it’s A, B or C, it’s indisputable fact that Gov. Dean’s appearance hurt his party by sounding so incoherent.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

As I posted earlier, Republicans walked off the floor when Democrats refused to debate the FISA bill. Here’s Michele Bachmann’s statement about the GOP Walkoff:

American’s safety must come before partisanship

(Washington, D.C) Today, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN) released the following statement after Democrats allowed the Protect America Act to expire:

“It is unconscionable that with America’s security on the line, the Democrats chose to spend Congress’ time on pointless partisan posturing. As a member of Congress, I serve no higher duty than to help keep our friends, families and loved ones safe. The Protect America Act has been a critical part of the effort to prevent, interrupt and foil terrorist attacks. Yet with it set to expire in just two days, the Democrats refused to work with Republicans to reauthorize it.

“The Protect America Act provides vital updates to the original 1978 FISA provision, allowing law enforcement and intelligence services to meet the threat posed by the enemies of today. For over six months House Democrats have refused to bring a comprehensive, long-term FISA bill to the floor.

“Even the Senate passed a bipartisan reauthorization bill. And the President cleared his schedule to ensure that terrorist chatter wouldn’t slip through the cracks while our intelligence officers awaited these important surveillance tools.

“But the Democrats were more interested in establishing commemorative weeks, honoring groups and taking cheap shots at Administration officials. About the most substantive thing they had planned for today were technical corrections to a 36-year-old fungicide bill. And so I joined my fellow House Republicans in walking off the floor today in protest.

“America’s safety must come before partisanship. Democrats need to work with Republicans to pass long-term FISA reform. I hope that today’s Republican action will help propel a FISA bill onto the floor so we can get back to the business of protecting the American people.”

If that isn’t bad enough, Democrats now are prepared to let the Protect America Act lapse:

President Bush said Thursday that failure to update the Protect America Act will “harm our ability to monitor new terrorist activities and could reopen dangerous
gaps in our intelligence.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in response, dubbed such talk fear-mongering. The president has every authority to continue needed eavesdropping under another law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), she said. Moreover, the authorities granted under the temporary surveillance law enacted in August will carry on for a year, she added.

To be blunt, Ms. Pelosi is feeding us a line of BS. The FISA appellate court ruled that the NSA had to get a warrant anytime foreign communications were routed through American switches:

The prelude to approval of the plan occurred in January, when the administration
agreed to put the wiretapping program under the oversight of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The court is charged with guarding against governmental spying abuses. Officials say one judge issued a ruling in January that allowed the administration to continue the program under the court’s supervision. A ruling a month or two later, the judge who made it and its exact timing are not clear, restricted the government’s ability to intercept foreign-to-foreign communications passing through telecommunication “switches” on American soil.

The security agency was newly required to seek warrants to monitor at least some of those phone calls and e-mail messages. As a result, the ability to intercept foreign-based communications “kept getting ratcheted down,” said a senior intelligence official who insisted on anonymity because the account involved classified material. “ We were to a point where we were not effectively operating.”

Mr. McConnell, lead negotiator for the administration in lobbying for the bill, said in an interview that the court’s restrictions had made his job much more difficult.

“It was crazy, because I’m sitting here signing out warrants on known Al Qaeda operatives that are killing Americans, doing foreign communications,” he said. “And the only reason I’m signing that warrant is because it touches the U.S. communications infrastructure. That’s what we fixed.”

Simply put, Ms. Pelosi’s actions should enrage thinking people of all political stripes. It’s unconscienable to think that Congress would simply walk away from their responsibility of protecting the American people.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the fact that the FISA Appellate Court ruling is idiotic. In their ruling, they effectively said that yes, even though a communication was from one foreign country to another foreign country, it wasn’t a foreign call because it went through a US switch.

The new 2008 Protect America Act would expand and update the government’s
ability to monitor technologies such as the Internet and cellphones. If the current law is allowed to lapse, the US will be unable to respond quickly to new terrorist threats, say Republicans and some Democrats, who are urging approval of a bill the Senate passed on Tuesday.

If the NSA has to resort to antiquated laws, then we aren’t doing everything that’s needed to keep us secure. That message should be the NRCC’s campaign theme from now until Election Day.

To do anything less than our utmost is unacceptable.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

Fred Thompson has offered more detailed plans to fix what ails this country than all the other candidates combined. Now he’s posted his plan for balancing the budget. Here’s the highlights of the plan:

  • Limit Non-Defense Federal Spending to Inflation. Federal spending is expected to grow an average of 4.5 percent each year over the next five years. This growth is more than twice as fast as the estimated rate of inflation! Slowing the rate of growth in federal spending would help the federal government balance its books. Further cost savings can be achieved by limiting increases in the annual rates of growth for mandatory federal spending programs.
  • Implement a One-Year Hiring Freeze Pending Completion of Federal Government Strategic Assessment. Initiate a senior-level Administration assessment of the federal government’s activities to determine their proper alignment with national priorities. This assessment will permit a re-shaping of the federal government to best address these priorities. Until that assessment is completed, institute a one-year freeze on the hiring of all non-essential civilian workers and contractors. This will give a new Administration time to assess its personnel requirements in order to “right size” the federal workforce, commensurate with national priorities, to match staffing and contracting needs to agency responsibilities across the executive branch.
  • Conduct a Comprehensive Cost-Benefit Analysis of All Federal Programs. Over the past few years, the Office of Management and Budget’s Program Assessment Rating Tool has found that many federal programs are ineffective or only moderately effective. With the aid of rigorous cost-benefit analysis and relying on the Government Performance and Results Act, the President must work with Congress to determine which federal programs to eliminate, reduce, combine, or place on probation.

My friend King will especially approve of conducting a comprehensive CBA of all federal programs. Frankly, that type of clear-headed thinking should’ve been implemented decades ago. I’m sure Democrats will criticize Sen. Thompson’s plan but that’s ok. When they criticize Fred’s plan, we’ll simply ask what they have against efficient government. (The dirty little secret is that they hate efficient spending because that’s how they pay off their political allies.)

Buckle up because that’s just the first part of Fred’s plan. Here’s another important, and impressive, portion of his plan:

Enact Meaningful Earmark Reform

Congressional earmarks add up to tens of billions of dollars each year. In Fiscal Year 2006 alone, the cost to the American taxpayer was more than $64 billion. Even more disconcerting is the fact that many earmarks do not benefit the America people but only serve to support special interests. To accomplish real and meaningful earmark reform, the following actions must be taken:

  • Provide President with Line-Item Veto Authority. Congress can provide this authority without a Constitutional amendment. Such authority would better control spending and prevent the use of public funding for wasteful earmarks.
  • Direct Agencies to Ignore “Soft” Earmarks. “Soft” earmarks are those included in Congressional report language, but not in actual legislation. Failure to include such earmarks in the bill language itself makes it easier for Members of Congress to hide their earmarks and prevents the full House and Senate from voting on them. Federal agencies must not fund these “soft” earmarks unless they otherwise meet agency standards for a funding award.
  • Propose Legislation on Earmark Procedures. Promote greater transparency by urging Congress to approve legislation that requires the posting of all earmarks on the Internet for the public to view at least 24 hours before the underlying bill is brought to the floor for consideration.

Now that’s a robust reform agenda that voters can rally around. Everyone from good government liberals like Mort Kondracke, David Broder and Norm Ornstein to fiscal conservatives like Jeb Hensarling, Jim DeMint and Michele Bachmann would applaud these provisions.

Like I said, these are just some of the highlights of Fred’s fiscal responsibility package. By comparison, here’s the entire contents of Gov. Romney’s Spending page:

The Federal government must stop its borrowing and spending binge. The debt is a burden on our economy, our currency, our foreign policy, and our future.
This is beyond pork barrel spending. We must address entitlement programs, not just to save money, but to give Americans confidence in their future.

“Every legislator and politician knows this spending can’t be justified, so why do they do it? Because it gets politicians praised, and re-elected.
There’s no courage involved in spending more money. Drawing a line on spending is hard and fraught with criticism. When I vetoed $458 million of excessive spending in the budget this spring, I knew that community newspapers across the Commonwealth would decry my elimination of local pet projects. And, I knew that the Legislature would over ride most of my vetoes. In fact, they over rode all of them, to a chorus of community acclaim. But someone has to say no.”
– Governor Romney, Boston Globe, September 12, 2006

Here’s the other quote from Mitt’s page:

“I don’t want to add entitlements. I want to find ways to reform our entitlement programs.”

– Governor Romney, Boston Globe, January 27, 2006)

Fred’s page is full of details that tell voters that he’s thought this through and he’s serious about balancing the budget and restoring the GOP’s image of fiscal responsibility. Mitt’s page isn’t the blueprint of a comprehensive reform agenda.

Expect conservatives to start rallying to Fred once they examine this. Fred’s plan is the agenda of a serious reformer. This also spotlights the fact that Fred was part of the congress that balanced the budget 4 years in a row. When Fred chaired the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, his committee assembled a report listing over 1,000 programs that were either inefficient or didn’t serve a useful purpose. Let’s see anyone else match that record.

That’s a track record and agenda that’ll make Ron Paul look like a fiscal liberal. That’s the track record and agenda of a serious man seeking the highest office in the land.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

Just when you thought that Hillary Clinton couldn’t be more manipulative, we find more proof that she’s the most manipulative presidential candidate in recent history. Here’s what happened to cement that belief:

It turns out that Keith Kerr, retired Colonel., U.S. Army; retired Brigadier General, California National Reserve, who submitted a YouTube question about gays in the military, is actually a member of Hillary Clinton’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transexual Americans For Hillary Steering Committee. He’s also part of a film production crew trying overturn the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

Please explain why Hillary pulls stunts like this. That’s such a punk move. It proves once again that the Clintons are shameless, disgusting human beings. The good news is that Hillary’s getting taken to task on it:

Keith Kerr a retired Colonel., U.S. Army; retired Brigadier General, California National Reserve pushed forward his issue of allowing gay Americans to serve openly in the US Military. While that is certainly a fair issue and open for debate, once again CNN looks to be in the hip pocket of the Clinton campaign.

It would have slipped by except CNN commentator Bill Bennett actually let the cat out of the bag and told CNN host Anderson Cooper that the former soldier apparently works for Clinton in the post debate analysis. Cooper played dumb at the time, but it did not last long as moments after the debate a bit of investigation showed that he is indeed a member of Hillary Clinton’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transexual Americans For Hillary Steering Committee.

I don’t know how this will play with Democrats, though it’s possible it’ll help there. What I’m certain of is that (a) independents will be turned off by it and (b) it’ll get conservatives fired up about beating her and (c) she’ll get pounded in the press for it.

Here’s how the Washington Times is reporting this stunt:

Gen. Kerr was in the live audience, and moderator Anderson Cooper invited him to give what turned out to be a two-minute speech on the issue that drew audience boos. The general identified himself in his question as “an openly gay man” but remained in the closet about his ties to the Clinton campaign.

Here’s how FNC is reporting the incident:

Keith Kerr of Santa Rosa, Calif., who revealed himself as gay, challenged the eight candidates via video message and on stage at the CNN/YouTube debate in Florida on the right of gays and lesbians to serve openly in the U.S. military.

The broadcast, however, failed to mention that Kerr, who served as a brigadier general in the reserves, is a member of a gay and lesbian steering committee for Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Here are the key paragraphs from Politico’s article on Kerr:

The retired general who asked about gays and lesbians serving in the military at the CNN/YouTube Republican debate on Wednesday is a co-chair of Hillary Clinton’s National Military Veterans group.

Retired Brig. Gen. Keith H. Kerr was named a co-chair of the group this month, according to a campaign press release.

David Bohrman, a CNN senior vice president and executive producer of the debate, later said: “We regret this, and apologize to the Republican candidates. We never would have used the general’s question had we known that he was connected to any presidential candidate.”

Politico’s article also points out the fact that Kerr isn’t exactly truthful, which makes him a perfect plant for Hillary:

Kerr told CNN that he had not done work for the Clinton campaign, and CNN verified before the debate that he had not contributed money to any candidate, the broadcaster said in a blog post after the debate.

Captain Ed’s got it right: CNN takes two steps back. I’d add that Hillary should take 5 steps back.

Instapundit says CNN should discover Google, saying “It’s not that hard.”

Glenn, obviously it is for lazy MSM types.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

That’s what they’re calling Eliot Spitzer in this editorial. Suffice it to say that the editorialist refered to him that way with tongue planted firmly in cheek.

Time magazine named him Crusader of the Year in 2002. Bill Richardson says he’s the future of the Democratic Party. But Eliot Spitzer, rookie governor of the greatly overtaxed state of New York, keeps stumbling and bumbling.

He disappointed New York Times editorial writers everywhere Wednesday last by deciding his plan to give driver’s licenses to illegal aliens wasn’t such a swell idea after all.

That same afternoon he decided it was dumb to institute a new tax policy, effective Dec. 7, requiring online retailers to charge state and local sales taxes on everything purchased from New York soil.

Rumor has it that the NY Times’ editorial board is considering changing the spelling on Spitzer’s name to O-O-P-S. On the other hand, I have it on good authority that Republican presidential candidates are calling him ‘the gift that keeps on giving’ due in large part for his assistance in helping Hillary have a bad couple weeks in which she exposed some major flaws that’ll haunt her in the general election.

The short-lived tax proposal, which would have been emulated nationwide and clearly subject to legal challenges, would have nicked Internet retailers that are not physically situated in the state but use millions of affiliated New York-based Web sites to direct sales to them through click-throughs.

Gov. Grinch’s flacks and spinners swore that Spitzer was unaware of the tax chicanery; it was stealthily concocted and launched by bureaucrats in the Department of Taxation and Finance and would have forced some shoppers to pay as much as an 8.375 percent sales tax on Internet purchases.

The fact that Eliot Spitzer, the nation’s Great Democrat Hope, is looking at a $4.3 billion deficit next year apparently was just a coincidence.

Such cynicism. Of course this tax proposal is pure coincidence. It isn’t like Democrats are genetically predisposed to increasing taxes:

Hatch gave his task an initial shot in a rambling acceptance speech that punched some of the right buttons. He cast Pawlenty as too stingy with education, responsible for large class sizes and rising college tuition. He tagged him for an inadequate response to soaring health care costs and the emerging biosciences industry. He promised more state investment in those things. Significantly, he said, “we can do this without raising taxes.”

Oh wait…

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Based on this article, Bill DeWeese is the runaway winner of this week’s Chutzpah trophy. Here’s what I’m basing my opinion on:

House Democrats plan to try again today for a vote on legislation that would expand public access to legislative records and other government documents after their first attempt flopped. House Democratic Leader Bill DeWeese, D-Waynesburg, announced late Monday that he’s gearing up for a full House vote on a revamped version of the state’s Open Records Law.

The law governs access to documents ranging from school board budgets to lawmakers’ travel receipts. “We are going to make a full-court press toward our objective of an open records proposal,” he told reporters at an impromptu news conference in the Capitol.

That’s utterly laughable considering DeWeese instructed Babette Josephs to gut the bill in committee:

The committee approved House Bill 443. In its original intent, this measure would have improved Pennsylvania’s weak open-records law. But when the Democratically controlled committee was through with it, House Bill 443 had become a step backwards. Considering that the existing open-records law is among the weakest nationwide, that is a depressing fact.

Both the committee’s process and the content of the bill are outrageous. Committee Chair Babette Josephs, D-Philadelphia, pushed through amendment after amendment, most of which the members were seeing for the first time. Their cumulative effect was to exempt broad categories of state records from being open. When members of the committee pleaded with Rep. Josephs to slow down by either holding more hearings or not reporting the bill to the floor for a quick vote, she refused. Alarmingly, at one point she even said she could not do so because the Democratic leadership (Majority Leader H. William DeWeese, D- Waynesburg) didn’t want to.

DeWeese doesn’t want truly open records. He only wants to say that he’s for open records. He wants to pass a RINO- Reform In Name Only. This post at PassOpenRecords.com explains why DeWeese & the Democrats don’t want true transparency:

One theory for lawmakers’ insistence on secrecy is that email gives lobbyists access to lawmakers at the instant they are voting on legislation. In previous eras of corruption, PA was notorious for the influence lobbyists had over lawmakers. The leading industries of the Gilded Age were given seats on the floor of the House so that they could conveniently tell lawmakers how to vote. Eventually, lobbyists were banned from the floor of the General Assembly and relegated to the lobby outside the ornate House and Senate chambers.
Until email. Now, email puts lobbyists back on the floor of the House and Senate, but in a way that neither citizens nor reporters can see.

The last thing that career politicians want is to have to turn over their communications with lobbyists, especially communication they have while they’re voting on legislation. If those communications were exposed, citizens would likely want to string up the politicians & their lobbyist friends together.

Bill DeWeese isn’t a reformer. I’ve yet to see an entrenched incumbent who’s been a reformer in the true sense of the word. Lots of legislators claim to be reformers but many of the so-called pieces of reform legislation that they produce are simply more layers of bureaucracy. They don’t change the culture or the mindset.

Ted Kennedy signed onto the immigration reform bill but I’d doubt that anyone thinks that that legislation would positively reform our immigration laws. Bill DeWeese isn’t any different when it comes to reforms.

State Rep. Tim Mahoney, D-South Union Township, sponsored legislation in March intended to overhaul the Open Records law. But House members spent an entire day in October weakening Mahoney’s bill by adding language that would keep certain documents off-limits to the public, including all government officials’ e-mail messages and 911 recordings.

Another amendment tacked onto Mahoney’s bill would have allowed state and municipal officials to deny information requests deemed burdensome. Good government groups criticized the massive loopholes, claiming the bill could give the public less access to information on how government spends taxpayer money.

On Monday, Mahoney said he realized that his bill had been severely weakened.He plans to support the revised bill that will look more like one introduced in the Senate than his own.”I’ve said all along that I want the best open records bill that we can pass,” Mahoney said. “I know that my bill was watered down. It was hit by a tidal wave. I believe this is a way to put it back together.”

Listen to what this legislation attempts to do:

Another amendment tacked onto Mahoney’s bill would have allowed state and municipal officials to deny information requests deemed burdensome.

Think of how ridiculous that is. At least theoretically, the citizens should be the customers while the state and municipal employees are the employees. Since when did service personnel tell a customer that they wouldn’t honor their request because “That’s too burdensome” and get away with it? If that happened at Walmart or Macy’s, that employee would be unemployed in a New York minute.

Another provision included in this ‘reform’ legislation is putting emails off-limits. Who told these legislators what is and isn’t off-limits? Isn’t that We The People’s call? I’d doubt that the citizens told legislators ‘Keep entire segments of communications away from public scrutiny’. I know watchdog groups like Common Cause PA & PassOpenRecords.com didn’t tell them to put those communications off-limits.

Bill DeWeese didn’t just have this dubious award drop in his lap. He earned it with his repulsive behavior.

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Based on Liz Sly’s article in the Chicago Tribune, conditions are improving in Iraq, including Baghdad. While more articles are popping up on news websites, House and Senate Democrats are attempting to tie President Bush’s hands by codifying a ‘Get out of Iraq’ date into the Iraq supplemental. Here’s what Ms. Sly said in her article:

Since the last soldiers of the “surge” deployed last May, Baghdad has undergone a remarkable transformation.

No longer do the streets empty at dusk. Liquor stores and cinemas have reopened for business. Some shops stay open until late into the evening. Children play in parks, young women stay out after dark, restaurants are filled with families and old men sit at sidewalk cafes playing backgammon and smoking shisha pipes.

Despite this news, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Co. have tried passing an Iraq supplemental that demands President Bush start withdrawing troops. Despite this good news, Harry Reid continues to making pessimistic statements:

“Every place you go you hear about no progress being made in Iraq,” said Senate Democratic majority leader Harry Reid. “The government is stalemated today, as it was six months ago, as it was two years ago,” Reid told reporters, warning US soldiers were caught in the middle of a civil war. “It is not getting better, it is getting worse,” he said.

If Sen. Reid continues making statements like this, he won’t have any credibility left. That’s assuming his credibility hasn’t already disappeared altogether. This is just more verification that Harry Reid, Ted Kennedy, Nancy Pelosi and John Murtha aren’t dealing with reality. Here’s what I mean:

Reid, Pelosi, et al, are operating from the mindset that we’re relying on them for our information. That’s an antiquated approach to the news. The defeat of the ‘Grand Bargain’ immigration/shamnesty plan should’ve told Washington politicians that we have alot more information at our fingertips than ever. Instead, people like Harry Reid make statements while we read articles like Ms. Sly’s.

With information like this, is it any wonder why Congress has the lowest job approval rating in history?

But for the first time in years, Baghdad’s residents are starting to remember what an ordinary life is like. “I used to close my shop at 6 p.m. but now I stay open till 9 or 9:30. Then I walk home and I feel completely safe,” said Jawad al-Sufi, 64, who runs the House of Hijab head scarf shop in the much-bombed district of Karradah. He had to replace his windows five times because of bombings outside his shop, but there has hardly been an attack in Karradah since September.

“It happened very suddenly,” he said. “There was a sharp turnaround, right after Eid,” the Muslim holiday in late October. “Since then, security has improved 85 percent.”

We know that a transformation is happening because this gentleman can pinpoint when the transformation started. This year, Eid was celebrated Dec. 20-24. According to Centcom’s article, here’s what Gen. Petraeus testified to at his conformation hearing:

“If we are to carry out the Multinational Force Iraq mission in accordance with the new strategy, the additional forces that have been directed to move to Iraq will be essential, as will greatly increased support by our government’s other agencies, additional resources for reconstruction and economic initiatives, and a number of other actions critical to what must be a broad, comprehensive, multifaceted approach to the challenges in Iraq,” Army Lt. Gen. David Petraeus said at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

As I recall, President Bush announced this plan after the midterm elections, then set it in motion before Democrats took control of the House or Senate. The gospel according to Harry says:

“It is not getting better, it is getting worse.”

Here’s what Ms. Sly says from Baghdad:

The number of explosions of all kinds has fallen sharply, from 1,641 nationwide in March to 763 in October. That is still a high number but a level not seen since September 2005, according to the U.S. military. Mortar attacks also are down, from an all-time high of 224 in Baghdad in June to 53 in October. A senior U.S. general said Thursday that the number of bombings in the country had dropped by almost half since March.

Reliable casualty figures have been hard to come by since the government stopped publicizing monthly tallies earlier this year, but inevitably the reduction in attacks also has reduced the number of deaths. According to an Associated Press tally, 750 people were killed in Iraq in October, down from 2,172 last December. Iraq’s Interior Ministry gives an even lower figure for the month: 506 civilians killed nationwide.

Though 2007 has been the deadliest year for U.S. troops in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, U.S. military casualties also have dropped recently, from a year’s high of 126 in May to 38 in October, and 23 killed in the first two weeks of November.

Ms. Sly’s report include verified statistics. Sen. Reid’s statements don’t contain statistics. Instead, they’re a desperate attempt to spin the truth. Thanks to Al Gore’s invention, Sen. Reid’s spin isn’t working.

This information begs another question, namely this: What type of politician would push this hard, this often, to cut off funding for a plan whose results are this impressive?

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Cross-posted at California Conservative