Friday, August 26, 2011

Rick Perry Gallups to Front of Republican Pack

Gallup has a new poll out showing Rick Perry leading the rest of the Republican field by double digits in the race for the 2012 Presidential nomination.

And where did that big lead come from? My theory: A third came directly off support for Mitt Romney. Another third came from Tim Pawlenty and Newt Gingrich. The final third from other candidates and undecideds.

from June
Rick Perry29%+29%
Ron Paul13%+5%
Michele Bachmann10%+3%
Mitt Romney17%-10%
Tim Pawlenty--6%
Herman Cain4%-6%
Newt Gingrich4%-5%
Rick Santorum3%-3%
Jon Huntsman1%-1%
No Preference17%-4%

The other gainers since June were Ron Paul and Michele Bachman, who I think both pulled Tea Party support away from Herman Cain. Cain peaked in June. Bachmann may have peaked in July. Romney may also have peaked, but is still in second place.

September will be make or break for Rick Perry. He is untested in the Presidential debates and there are three scheduled for September, one at the Reagan library in California and two in Florida.

Sarah Palin has also indicated she will make a decision on whether or not to make her unofficial campaign for President official by the end of September. So if Rick Perry falters on the debate stage, there is a maverick chomping at the bit and raring to join the race.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Herman Cain, We Need to Talk about Your Growth Plan

Herman Cain has an economic recovery plan, a vision for economic growth.

Herman, help me with the political math. You've got a 9% national sales tax (ugh) coupled with a 9% payroll/income tax with no or very limited deductions (ugh). Businesses pay another 9% on the wages they pay workers (if I read between the lines correctly). So that's a combined 18% on wages, and you thinks you're going to eliminate the double taxation of dividends and zero out capital gains taxes?

That's just Phase I. In Phase II you want to replace the payroll/income tax for individuals and businesses with a national sales tax of unspecified rate at an unspecified time in the future. And you can't do any of this without a Congress to support it.

After reading your complicated multi-phase plan, that line at the beginning about how "policy uncertainty is killing the economy" just kills me. To vote for you, I am going to need to take a tax accountant and a ouija board with me into the voting booth.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Jon Huntsman Admits He is Running for Vice President Not President

Jon Huntsman essentially admitted that he is running for Vice President not President in a CNN interview with Piers Morgan. What's more intriguing is that he offered himself as ticket-balancing moderate to a Tea Party candidate.

Piers Morgan: "Could you ever imagine running as a running mate to someone like Mitt Romney?"

Jon Huntsman: "There’d be too many jokes about that, no I can't imagine that at all."

Piers Morgan: "What about a Tea Party candidate? If Michele Bachmann continued to get real traction and she came to you and said, 'Look, you're the other part of the party here, together we can create sweet music.'"

Jon Huntsman: "You know, if you love this country, you serve this country. Every time I've been asked to serve over different administrations from Reagan to the two Bushes to President Obama, I have the same answer and that is: If you love this country, you serve her. And so if you're in a position to better the country by bringing whatever background you have to bear, whatever experiences to use in fine-tuning our future, I'll be the first person to sign up. Absolutely."
Yes, Huntsman backed off the idea somewhat by asserting that he believe he would win the nomination for President. But that's pro forma, and not really very realistic given where he is in the race.

This comes after a couple of weeks where Jon Hunstman has hit the Tea Party pretty hard, particularly on failing to support the debt ceiling increase. But in saying he would serve under a Tea Party President, he is finally giving the Tea Party some credibility and showing the Tea Party some respect.

Of course, Jon Huntsman is not the only Republican candidate for President who is really running for Vice President. In fact, until a generic Republican who can convincingly beat Barack Obama emerges, they all are.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Maxine Waters Can Go Straight to Hell

This town hall meeting at Inglewood High School looks a lot like a Tea Party Rally. Except, the the participants are black and the Congresswoman is Maxine Waters, who tells the Tea Party that, as far as she is concerned, it can go straight to hell.

If the Tea Party and the disaffected Democrats ever got together .... Maybe you'll say it's never going to happen. But a lot of things have happened in this country that you may have never thought would happen.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Sara Palin is Not Officially Running for President

Sarah Palin has not yet announced her candidacy with a nationwide bus tour and a series of YouTube videos:

She has quite a receptive audience with 3,227,212 followers on Facebook and 636,696 on Twitter. What other explanation is there? Others are beginning to notice.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Karl Rove Worries about Electability

Karl Rove is worried about the Republican 2012 Presidential candidates moving so far right in the primaries that it becomes impossible to win the general election.

Who do you think he has in mind? Michelle Bachmann who won the Ames Straw Poll? Ron Paul who came in second? Or Rick Perry who entered the race this weekend? The Wall Street Journal is worried about all three, and Mitt Romney too:

Michele Bachmann "has a record of errant statements (see Battle of Lexington and Concord, history of) that are forgiven by Fox Nation but won't be if she makes them as a GOP standard-bearer" and "her attempt to position herself at all times as the anti-establishment outsider has made her seem on occasion less principled than opportunistic."

Ron Paul "has no chance to win the nomination."

Rick Perry "can sound more Texas than Jerry Jones, George W. Bush and Sam Houston combined, and his muscular religiosity also may not play well at a time when the economy has eclipsed culture as the main voter concern."

Mitt Romney "is a weak front-runner" and "gives little evidence that he has convictions beyond faith in his own technocratic expertise."
Karl Rove wishes the current crop of candidates were more moderate. The WSJ wants a new new crop, but doesn't have a name to go with that wish. It all comes down what we wrote here last month, there is never a generic Republican around when you need one.

And who is the magic Republican who would come into the race? Sarah Palin comes to mind, but she's got electability issues too.

At some point the Republican Party is going to have to come around to an essential truth if it wants to win this election. It doesn't have to love its candidate, it doesn't even have to like its candidate. But it does need to rally around its candidate and vote for him or her.

Republicans, particularly conservative Republican pundits like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Ann Coulter didn't do that for John McCain in 2008. All they did was complain, and that's no way to win a campaign.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Twitter Gap Widens Against 2012 Republicans

The Twitter gap uncovered here two months ago has only widened, with Barack Obama adding three followers in the last two months for every one new Republican follower.

CandidateFollowers on 6/15/2011Followers on 8/15/2011
Barack Obama8,628,2739,654,446
Newt Gingrich1,324,9041,327,013
Sarah Palin561,050632,179
Jim DeMint95,266110,421
Michele Bachmann52,10075,731
Mitt Romney51,58071,882
Rick Perry44,43862,895
Ron Paul54,45561,763
Herman Cain43,54258,164
Thaddeus McCotter-19,726
Rick Santorum10,52917,424
Jon Huntsman70411,875
Donald Trump615,671686,929
Mike Huckabee165,040183,523
Mike Bloomberg99,413132,520
Paul Ryan59,09472,073
Bobby Jindal59,59861,530
Chris Christie42,04150,832
Tim Pawlenty40,98148,992
Jeb Bush14,93717,263
Total Republican Followers3,335,3433,702,735

Mitt Romney, the erstwhile Republican frontrunner, is merely in the middle of the pack. Meanwhile, Ron Paul as fallen three notches. Thaddeus McCotter debuts higher than the hapless Rick Sontorum and the phantom Jon Huntsman.

Newt Gingrich is an interesting case. Everyone wants to hear what he has to say but no one wants to vote for him.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Michele Bachmann Is Queen for a Day in Ames

This week she was dismissed as the Queen of Rage in Newsweek, This Saturday she was annointed Queen of Ames in Iowa. The results are in from the Ames Straw Poll:

Michele Bachmann28.55%4,823"Everything I needed to know in life, I learned in Iowa."
Ron Paul27.65%4,671"We won a historic number of votes today in Iowa!"
Tim Pawlenty13.57%2,293"Our campaign needed to show progress and we did."
Rick Santorum9.81%1,657"Thank you Iowa for the overwhelming support!"
Herman Cain8.62%1,456"This is just the beginning of our efforts in Iowa, and we're coming back soon!"
Rick Perry3.62%718"Just announced I'm running for president."
Mitt Romney3.36%567"Look forward to crossing paths on the campaign trail."
Newt Gingrich2.28%385"Looking forward to taking up the debate again at the Reagan Library."
Jon Huntsman0.41%69
Thaddeus McCotter0.21%35

How much does the Ames straw poll matter? It shouldn't. It's 16,674 people voting out of a nation of 311 million. And there will be 7 to 10 times that number for the Iowa Caucuses in January. But it does matter.

Michele Bachmann has taken a lot of heat this summer, her win validates her candidacy. That gives her a notch on new entrant Rick Perry for the right to challenge Mitt Romney for front-runner status.

Tim Pawlenty would have done better to have finished 5th rather than 3rd. That would have given him an out to make a graceful exit from the race. Now he has to stay in a while longer.

Newt Gingrich, as I have believed for several months, is just in this for the debates. Whether he finished high enough to qualify for the next debate remains to be seen. He's finished as a candidate to take seriously.

Herman Cain did very well, considering the disarray in his Iowa campaign operation. But politics doesn't make such allowances. His is a case of what might have been.

Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman were punished by Iowans for skipping the straw poll. But will anyone else care? In Huntsman's case, no. In Romney's case, it may actually help him in New Hampshire.

Iowa's importance in this cycle has been diminished. The straw poll went to Iowa's native daughter, a congresswoman in the neighboring state of Minnesota. She must now be considered the front-runner to win the Iowa caucuses. That gives candidates who want to skip Iowa a plausible case that what happens in Iowa is local and has limited national significance. New Hampshire and South Carolina, with their first primaries, have been enhanced.

Update: Tim Pawlenty went to bed still in the race but woke up this morning and saw the writing on the wall (or perhaps read Left Bank of the Charles):

"I wish it would have been different. But obviously the pathway forward for me doesn't really exist so we are going to end the campaign."

Friday, August 12, 2011

Sarah Palin Conquering the Storm

The last time we met Sarah Palin she was storming through Massachusetts on the way to New Hamshire like someone out of the Wizard of Oz. This time she is barnstorming through Iowa.

Sarah Palin may or may not be running for President but her commentaries are beginning to sound like Winston Churchill in the 1930s. Like him she has been pushed aside by her own party but not out of voice. This one she called Conquering the Storm:

Our economic news is disheartening and the task before us can seem daunting, but we must not lose our sense of optimism. People look around today and may see only the negative. They see a culture and a nation in decline, but that's not who we are! America must regain its optimistic pioneering spirit again. Our founders declared that "we were born the heirs of freedom." We are the heirs of those who froze with Washington at Valley Forge, who held the line at Gettysburg, who freed the slaves, carved a nation out of the wilderness, and allowed reward for work ethic. We are the sons and daughters of that Greatest Generation who stormed the beaches of Normandy, raised the flag at Iwo Jima, and made America the strongest and most prosperous nation in the history of mankind. By God, we will not squander what has been given us!
That phrase "held the line at Gettysburg" is not something you hear a lot on lists of American accomplishments these days. It will rub some southerners the wrong way. And that line "By God" will rub others wrong.

Another statement you might not expect from Sarah Palin is in her encouragement to get involved:

Please get engaged in 2012 electoral politics and support experienced, vetted, pro-free market fiscal conservatives who will dedicate all to preserving our Republic and protecting our Constitution.
Yes, the maverick is calling for experience, and she is almost admitting that she got burned on the inadequate vetting of Christine O'Donnell and Sharon Angle in 2010 Senate elections.

Sarah Palin is in Iowa today to visit the Iowa State Fair, not because she is running for President but because she is "excited to try some of that famous fried butter-on-a-stick, fried cheesecake-on-a-stick, fried twinkies, etc." And lest you think the visit is entirely nonpolitical she had this dig for President Obama: "I'll enjoy them in honor of those who'd rather make us just 'eat our peas'!"

In the cattle barn at the State Fair, Sarah was pressed to endorse one of the other Republicans in or about to join the race. She mooed,

"Oh, you know the process hasn't even played itself out yet, so no on premature endorsements. And I haven't even decided yet if I'm going to jump in or not yet."
"There is still plenty of room in that field for a common-sense conservative. Watching the debate, not just last night, but watching this whole process over the past year, it has certainly shown me there's plenty of room for more people."
"Common-sense conservative" is the label Sarah Palin uses to describes herself.

Congress Picks Twelve for Its Spending Cut Jury

Congressional leaders have picked the 12 members who will sit on the spending cut jury charged with finding $1.5 trillion in spending cuts by Thanksgiving.

Under the jury rules, 7 votes are needed to approve a set of spending cuts to be voted on by both houses of Congress. That means at least one Republican will have to join the Democrats or at least one Democrat will have to join the Republicans.

Of course, it's not really a question of finging the cuts but on finding cuts the jury can agree on and present to Congress for passage. With Tea Party Republicans against the deal, and excluded from the jury, that effectively means the verdict has to be nearly unanimous.

I expect the jury will be deadlocked. I will not be calling it the super committee or the super commission or the super congress, at least until they do something super.

Members of the spending cut jury:

Congressman Jeb Hensarling of Texas (co-chair) - age 54, first elected in 2002. Budget nanny who co-authored a Constitutional amendment that would prohibit federal spending from growing faster than the economy.

Congressman Dave Camp of Michigan - age 58, first elected in 1990. Chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.

Congressman Fred Upton of Michigan - age 58, first elected in 1986. Put us on the new daylight savings time schedule in 2005.

Congressman Jim Clyburn of South Carolina - age 71, first elected in 1992. The only member from South Carolina to support the debt ceiling deal.

Congressman Xavier Becerra of California - age 53, first elected in 1992. Turned down the position of position of U.S. Trade Representative.

Congressman Chris Van Hollen of Maryland - age 52, first elected in 2002. Ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee.

Senator Patty Murray of Washington (co-chair) - age 60, first elected in 1992. Held off a close challenge to be reelected in 2010.

Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts - age 67, first elected in 1984. Democratic Presidential nominee in 2004.

Senator Max Baucus of Montana - age 69, first elected in 1978. Chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee.

Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona - age 69, first elected in 1994. Senate Minority Whip, whatever that means.

Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania - age 49, first elected in 2010. One of two freshman senators on the panel and the only panel member under age 50.

Senator Rob Portman of Ohio - age 55, first elected in 2010. U.S. Trade Representative and Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

2012 Republicans Line up for Ames

The Republican Party is converging on Ames, Iowa for a debate tonight and a straw poll festival on Saturday.

Most all the announced candidates from Mitt Romney to Jon Huntsman are in Iowa campaigning. Unannounced candidate Rick Perry says he will be here Sunday. And Sarah Palin is swinging by too, although she may only get to the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines.

Were does the race stand on the day of the big debate? A McClatchy-Marist Poll National Survey of registered voters was published August 9, 2011 based on phone interviews August 2-4.

Half of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents said they are Tea Party supporters. While Washington and Wall Street may say they've had enough Tea, don't tell that to the Tea Party voters.

CandidateRep+IndRepIndTeav. BHO
Mitt Romney21%24%15%14%41% to 46%
Rick Perry18%16%24%25%33% to 52%
Sarah Palin10%10%9%12%35% to 56%
Rudy Giuliani9%9%9%6%43% to 48%
Michele Bachmann8%4%17%12%35% to 52%
Herman Cain6%4%9%9%
Ron Paul3%4%3%5%
Rick Santorum3%3%2%1%
Newt Gingrich2%2%2%1%
Tim Pawlenty2%2%2%1%36% to 49%
Gary Johnson2%2%2%1%
Buddy Roemer2%2%0%2%
Jon Huntsman1%1%1%1%

In this poll, no Republican beats Barack Obama but two are within the 6% margin of error. With 40% saying they will definitely vote for Barack Obama in 2012 and 40% saying they will definitely vote against him, that leaves a 20% middle to fight over in the general election.

Actually, that 40% who says they would definitely vote against Barack Obama is not quite so definite if the Republican is Perry, Palin, Bachmann, or Pawlenty. That's the problem with letting caucus and primary voters pick the nominee, they are in the 40% not the 20%.

Mitt Romney would give Obama the best run. And he's the frontrunner among the Republicans. If Republicans were ready to fully embrace Mitt Rimney, this would be over.

Rick Perry finished second among Republicans but second to worst against Barack Obama. However, he is a favorite among both Tea Party supporters and independents. Rick Perry's real play may be for VP. Romney-Perry may just be the establishment dream ticket.

Sarah Palin seems to be running a shadow campaign. She is not officially a candidate. But she keeps showing up in the early caucus and primary states. And she keeps tweeting into the big issues of the day, such as the debt ceiling vote and the debt rating downgrade. Sarah will only be 52 in 2016 and 56 in 2020, still a youngster in Presidential politics.

Rudy Giuliani is on this poll even though he has shown marginal interest in running. He would run well against Barack Obama but would have a lot of trouble securing the nomination.

Michele Bachmann probably ranks higher with Sarah Palin off the list. If she comes up short, expect to see her next in a 2014 run in Minnesota against Mark Dayton for Governor or against Al Franken for U.S. Senate.

Herman Cain got some early traction in the South Carolina debate this past spring but needs to regain that momentum. At this point he may be running for the VP slot or a Cabinet position. Romney-Cain was probably the point of his recent mosque apology, which Cain flubbed but not in a way that would stop a Senate confirmation.

Ron Paul, who in many ways invented and turned out the Tea Party movement in 2008, seems to have been eclipsed as the movemnt has expanded and other candidates have captured the movement's imagination. Still he could embarrass fellow Texan Rick Perry by outpolling him.

Everyone below Ron Paul is just in it for the national exposure and debate experience at this point. It's got to be hard to raise campaign contributions that far down the list. If they don't get rain soon, they may start dropping like flies in the hot Iowa sun.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

China Joins the Tea Party, France and Russia Shrug

Another Tea Party politician on a rant:

  • The days when the debt-ridden Uncle Sam could leisurely squander unlimited overseas borrowing appeared to be numbered.

  • The credit rating cut is an overdue bill that America has to pay for its own debt addition and the short-sighted political wrangling in Washington.

  • To cure its addiction to debts, the United States has to reestablish the common sense principle that one should live within its means.

  • If no substantial cuts were made to the U.S. gigantic military expenditure and bloated social welfare costs, the downgrade would prove to be only a prelude...

  • The U.S. government has to come to terms with the painful fact that the good old days when it could just borrow its way out of messes of its own making are finally gone.

  • No, those zingers are from an editorial in Xinhua, China's official news agency. The one thing China does not demand is that the U.S. raise taxes, so that puts China firmly in the Tea Party camp. The commentary also contained some ominous rumblings:

  • China, the largest creditor of the world's sole superpower, has every right now to demand the United States to address its structural debt problems and ensure the safety of China's dollar assets.

  • International supervision over the issue of U.S. dollars should be introduced and a new, stable and secured global reserve currency may also be an option to avert a catastrophe caused by any single country.

  • We should remind China that while the U.S. has gotten drunk on debt, China has been the enabler. Yes, the U.S. may "rely on the deep pockets of major surplus countries to make up for its perennial deficits." But China, the major surplus country, has unrealistically relied on the U.S. for a safe place to park those surpluses.

    For the old Chinese communists there is no going back to the good old days of safely stacking Chinese trade surpluses in U.S. Treasuries either. The "largest creditor of the world's sole superpower" will just have to learn that great American axiom: buy the ticket, take the ride.

    Europe, which has its own problems, is being more philosophical about the downgrade:

  • "We will not review it, because there is not much difference between AAA and AA+," says Russia's Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak.

  • "France has a total confidence to the solidity of American economy and its fundamentals, as well as to the determination of American government to implement the educing deficit plan approved by the Congress this week," says France's Economy Minister Fracois Baroin.

  • You know you are in trouble when France condescends to express its total confidence in you. France is one of 18 countries still holding a AAA debt rating from S & P. Russia's rating is BBB. China's rating is AA-. Yes, the harsh critic is also in Alcoholics Anonymous, with the U.S. and 11 other countries.

    S & P Sends the U.S. to Alcoholics Anonymous

    The U.S. government is drunk on debt and got an intervention Friday from Standard and Poors:

    "We have lowered our long-term sovereign credit rating on the United States of America to 'AA+' from 'AAA' and affirmed the 'A-1+' short-term rating."
    Washington is still in denial and the blame game will shift into high gear. I blame Obama, Biden, Reid, McConnell, Boehner, and Pelosi. They punted the debt celing compromise. They wanted 4 more months in April, they wanted 4 more months in August.

    I can stop drinking anytime I want, I'm not a drunk, I can handle my drinking, they insisted. Just give me a little more time, and when I'm ready I'll stop, they begged.

    Earlier Friday before the downgrade was announced, President Obama implored:

    "What I want the American people and our partners around the world to know is this: We are going to get through this. Things will get better, and we're going to get there together."
    The need to make this statement, addressed both at Americans and our foreign creditors is telling, but getting there together is not something that is not fully in Barack Obama's power to promise. Here is why Standard and Poors isn't buying the debt ceiling compromise:

  • no robust recovery from the recession

  • no containment of entitlements and other spending growth

  • no agreement on raising tax revenues

  • no stabilization of the debt burden

  • no end to political brinksmanship

  • Don't blame me, I'm from Iowa.

    Friday, August 5, 2011

    Rule #1: Don't Vote for the Texan

    Texas Governor Rick Perry wants to be President of the United States. And there is the problem, he is a Texan. And if there is anything I've learned in the hard experince of American poltics it is this: Don't vote for the Texan.

    Rule #1 is not about party affiliation or ideology. Whether its LBJ, GHWB, or GWB the outcome is the same, Texas-sized promise and cruel disappointment. I'm sure there are Texans who are more cattle than hat, but those Texans don't run for President.

    Here is the ad Rick Perry has put together for Iowa:

    On the surface, it sounds good, but

    (1) Rick Perry is a Texan.

    (2) Rick Perry's claims about creating jobs and balancing budgets in Texas have a lot more to do with the price of gasoline going from $1.50 in 2001 to $3.65 in 2011 than about Rick Perry.

    (3) The ad talks about creating jobs while a guy wearing a Rolex shucks corn. Is that his jobs plan, Iowans should go back to shucking corn? Nebraska is the cornhusker state.

    (4) Then the jobs for Iowa add shows a combine harvesting wheat. Iowa is corn and soybeans. Kansas is the wheat state.

    (5) The first 4 seconds of the ad create the unmistakable impression of George W. Bush peeking out from the right side of the screen. Then you find out it's Rick Perry. Subliminal message or another poor production decision?

    Tuesday, August 2, 2011

    Iowa Unanimously Rejects the Debt Ceiling Compromise

    In a spirit of bipartisan unanimity, here's how the seven members of Iowa's congressional delegation voted on the debt ceiling compromise:

    In the U.S. House of Representatives:

    Bruce Braley (D) - No
    Dave Loebsack (D) - No
    Leonard Boswell (D) - No
    Tom Latham (R) - No
    Steve King (R) - No

    In the U.S. Senate:

    Charles Grassley (R) - No
    Tom Harkin (D) - No

    Despite the objections of the Iowans, the compromise passed 269-161 in the House and 76-24 in the Senate.

    No, I doubt that Iowa will secede from the Union over this issue. To suggest such a thing in Iowa would get you hung from the nearest Defenders of the Union monument. But I predict we will have cause to see some "Don't blame me, I'm from Iowa" bumber stickers.

    Here are some problems with the compromise:

    (1) Congress punted on spending cuts, turning over the hard decisions to a commmittee of twelve: 3 Senate Republicans, 3 Senate Democrats, 3 House Republicans, and 3 House Democrats. That's a jury of their peers, not ours.

    (2) The spending cut jury is charged with reaching its verdict by November 23, the day before Thanksgiving. The House and Senate then have to vote on the jury verdict by December 23, the day before Christmas Eve. That will ruin two national holidays.

    (3) At the outset of this process, President Obama set a goal of finding $3 trillion in spending cuts. At this point only $900 million in spending cuts have been approved, and the jury is charged with finding only $1 to $1.5 trillion more. That leaves a lot of needed spending cuts on the table.

    (4) The compromise puts off a vote on the admittedly poorly-drafted balanced budget amendment to October, before the final spending cut verdict has been announced, virtually ensuring its defeat. If passed now, the ratification process could have begun.

    (5) The stock market is already voting with its feet. It fell in anticipation of the compromise, it fell even more after its announcement. The smart money realizes that even if Congress eventually approves the full $2.4 trillion in budget cuts, that is only a quarter of what's needed to get the budget back into balance. What's actually approved is only a dime.

    The spinsters in the administration have Barack Obama answering critics with this bit of wisdom:

    "But this compromise does make a serious down payment on the deficit reduction we need, and gives each party a strong incentive to get a balanced plan done before the end of the year."
    That's all it is, 10% down on a big problem the politicians really don't want to tackle. The deficit problem was there last December, it was there in March, and in June, and now in August. It will still be there in November and December and in November 2012. It isn't going away.

    Monday, August 1, 2011

    Naser Abdo and the Missing Story of Muslim Peacemaking

    When U.S. Army Private Naser Abdo sought conscientious objector status in 2010 based on his Muslim beliefs, he briefly became a darling of the anti-war crowd. The War Resisters League called Abdo a "Muslim peacemaker" and quoted him as follows:

    "As I studied Islam and Islam's commitment to peace, I developed an entirely new perspective on war and conscience… That's when I realized my conscience would not allow me to deploy."
    Ibrahim Ramey of the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation also supported Abdo:

    "We believe that his position is not a product of personal cowardice or disloyalty to his nation, but rather, a coherent expression of his faith and his personal belief in the tenets and laws of the religion of Islam."
    Abdo told CNN:

    "Islam is a much more peaceful and tolerant religion, it isn't an aggressive religion. I don't belive that Islam allows me to operate in any kind of warfare at all."
    All that was exposed as a lie in Texas last Thursday after Abdo purchased six pounds of smokeless gunpowder, shotgun ammunition and a magazine for a semi-automatic pistol on Tuesday. Something about Abdo aroused the suspicions of a gun-store clerk who called 911.

    Police tracked Abdo to his motel room where they found him with a backpack containing two clocks, wire, ammunition, a handgun and a "Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom" article from the English-language magazine Inspire produced by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

    Police say Abdo told them he planned to construct two bombs in his motel room using gunpowder and shrapnel packed into pressure cookers and then detonate the explosives at a restaurant frequented by U.S. soldiers.

    What happens when one of your featured conscientious objectors is exposed as a would-be terrorist?

    You can go to the website, but nothing is there. The page has gone missing.

    You could read Abdo's profile at but that page has gone missing too, with this explanation: "We have assisted hundreds of service-members who have 'refused to fight' in various ways since 2005. In light of PFC Abdo's arrest yesterday, we have removed PFC Abdo's 'resister profile' from those that we have proudly supported."

    The War Resisters League said they had no comment but did manage to first get in a jab on Islamophobia:

    "Naser Abdo came to us for information and support as a Conscientious Objector and as a soldier speaking out against the Islamophobic roots of the U.S. 'War on Terror.' ...

    We have no knowledge of the actions described in the charges that have been brought against Pfc. Abdo and therefore no comment."
    Over at Iraq Veterans Against the War, they say they had contact with Abdo in August, November, and December 2010 but no contact since that then. And they are adament:

    "Abdo is not now and has never been a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War."
    They also provided statement Abdo gave them in October which said in part:

    "Only when the military and America can disassociate Muslims from terror can we move onto a brighter future of religious collaboration and dialogue that defines America and makes me proud to be an American."
    On the day after the arrest, national security reporter Adam Weinstein had this to say in Mother Jones:

    "The full story isn't clear yet. The "bombmaking devices" Abdo possessed apparently amount to "firearms and smokeless powder," which aren't all that uncommon among folks in Texas (no, seriously)."
    It is uncommon however for a Texan to shout "Abeer Qassim al-Janabi Iraq 2006" and "Nidal Hasan Fort Hood 2009" at his court arraignment, as Naser Abdo did.

    There are said to be around 12,000 soldiers in the U.S. military who are Muslim. I'm sure the vast majority are loyal Americans ready to shoulder their rifles in defense of their country, the United States of America. But as we have seen with Muslims Naser Abdo, Nidal Hassan, and Hasan Karim Akbar, some of them are not.