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January 22, 2012, 5:34 pmRep. Gabrielle Giffords To Step Down From Congress
Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords will step down from the House this week to focus on her recovery from a gunshot wound to the head, but she vowed in a two-minute video announcement of her decision that she will be back.
“I have more work to do on my recovery and so to do what is best for Arizona, I will step down this week,” she said in the video (shown below) which was posted on her website and on YouTube. “I’m getting better every day. My spirit is high. I will return and we will work together for Arizona and this great country.”
Giffords has made a stunning recovery after being shot in the head by a gunman who opened fire while the Arizona congresswoman was meeting with constituents at a suburban Arizona supermarket in January 2011. But she said in the video today that she needs to focus on her rehabilitation.
“Thank you for your prayers and for giving me time to recover,” she says, speaking clearly but slowly and haltingly, her eyes bright and focused.
Before leaving office, Giffords will complete the “Congress On Your Corner” event that was interrupted last January when 22-year-old gunman Jared Loughner opened fire, killing six and wounding twelve.
Giffords, a Democrat, also plans to attend President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday.
In a statement today, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Giffords has been “an inspiring symbol of determination and courage to millions of Americans.”
“Gabby’s message of bipartisanship and civility is one that all in Washington and the nation should honor and emulate,” Pelosi said in the statement. “I join all my colleagues in Congress in thanking Gabby for the honor of calling her colleague and wishing Gabby and Mark great success and happiness. She will be missed in the House of Representatives, but her legacy in the Congress and her leadership for our nation will certainly continue.”
Full statement from Giffords:
“Arizona is my home, always will be. A lot has happened over the past year. We need to not change that but I know on the issues we fought for we can change things for the better. We can do so much more by working together. I don’t remember much from that horrible day but I will never forget the trust you placed in me to be your voice. Thank you for your prayers and for giving me time to recover. I have more work to do on my recovery and so to do what is best for Arizona I will step down this week I’m getting better every day. My spirit is high. I will return and we will work together for Arizona and this great country.”
Last Edited: January 22, 2012, 5:57 pm
January 19, 2012, 3:30 pmGeorgia Mom Arrested for Allowing 10-Year-Old to Get Tattoo
A Georgia mother who was arrested for allowing her 10-year-old to get a tattoo said she had no idea it was illegal for him to get one, even with her consent.
When Chuntera Napier’s son Gaquan Napier asked her if he could get a memorial tattoo for his 12-year-old brother Malik who died after being hit by a car, Napier was touched by the request.
“My son came to me and said, ‘Mom, I want to get a tattoo with Malik on it, rest in peace,’” she told ABC News’ Atlanta affiliate WSBTV. “It made me feel good to know that he wanted his brother on him.”
When Gaquan Napier was asked why he wanted the tattoo, he said, “Because it represents my brother.”
“What do I say to a child who wants to remember his brother? It’s not like he was asking me, ‘Can I get Sponge Bob?” Napier said. “He asked me [for] something that’s in remembrance of his brother. How can I say no?”
Gaquan got a tattoo on his right arm of his brother’s name and his former basketball jersey number. Napier also has memorial tattoos for her son on her right arm.
When someone at his school noticed the tattoo and contacted authorities, Napier was arrested on Tuesday and charged with misdemeanor cruelty and being a party to a crime, according to WSBTV. Napier bonded out of jail on Wednesday but is shocked that her consent was not enough for her son to get a tattoo.
“I always thought that if a parent gave consent, then it was fine,” she said. “How can somebody else say that it’s not okay? He’s my child, and I have the right to say what I want for my child. I can’t go tell anybody else what I want for their child.”
A Georgia law from 2010 states, “It shall be unlawful for any person to tattoo the body of any person under the age of 18, except a physician or osteopath.”
The Acworth Police Department did not respond to request for comment and the Smyrna, Ga. artist who did the tattoo is also under investigation.
Other parents have been arrested before in Georgia for allegedly giving their children tattoos.
Last April, a man in Floyd County, in northwest Georgia, was found guilty of giving a tattoo to a person under 18 after he tattooed “DB,” for “Daddy’s Boy,” on the shoulder of his 3-year-old son. He was sentenced to 12 months’ probation and fined $300.
About two years ago, a couple in Summerville, also in northwest Georgia, were arrested and charged with cruelty to children, reckless conduct and illegal tattooing after they allegedly gave all six of their youngsters, ages 10 to 17, small cross tattoos.
Last Edited: January 19, 2012, 3:49 pm
January 19, 2012, 7:01 amObamas Greet Tuskegee Airmen at "Red Tails" White House Screening
On Friday, January 13th, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greeted Tuskegee Airmen at a special screening of the movie “Red Tails” at the White House. The George Lucas film which stars Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard, Tristan Wilds, Nate Parker and R&B singer Ne-Yo, tells the story of the first black aviators in the American military. The paint job on the back of the fighter pilots’ planes gave the Red Tails their nickname.
The Tuskegee Airmen fought World War II on two fronts. Against the Germans, officially, but also against racism within the ranks. “You had to fight just to get in the fight,” said veteran Walter Robinson, a member of the Tuskegee Airmen’s Atlanta chapter.
On Thursday, January 12th, the Atlanta group hosted an advance screening of the film.
“It’s a real honor,” said veteran Val Archer (shown above on left) who served with the ground crew during his stint as one of the Tuskegee Airmen. “I think we’re pretty proud of who we are and our legacy.”
Archer grew up in Chicago and enlisted at age 15, thanks to a doctored birth certificate. He ended up serving for 13 years. He said his most terrifying moment during his military career came not at the hands of the Nazis but during a training course at Scott Field in St. Louis.
“There were at least four guys who were in the Klan,” he said. “They said they were going to ‘indoctrinate’ me.”
Before the movie, Archer visited with fellow veteran W.O. Smith (shown above on right), who grew up in Cincinnati and enlisted at 17 in hopes of a better life.
“I was the oldest of eight,” he said. “My father wasn’t even making a dollar an hour at the steel plant.”
He retired 35 years ago as of June 1. His memories of racial tension remain fresh.
“I always felt that you had to be better than the others,” he said. “They were always watching you. They didn’t think you were smart enough to be there.”
Indeed, the movie opens with a quote from a 1925 U.S. military study that declared blacks unfit for military service. The movie is scheduled for a Jan. 20 release. Thursday’s screening, at the AMC Southlake 24 in Morrow, served as both a fundraiser for the Atlanta Tuskegee Airmen chapter and a “key influencer” event that organizers hope will result in ticket sales.
In an interview with USA Today Lucas, who financed the film himself, said he was a bit worried about the impact the film’s box office performance could have. “I realize that by accident I’ve now put the black film community at risk. I’m saying, if this doesn’t work, there’s a good chance you’ll stay where you are for quite a while.
“This is an awesome film. Please tell at least four people,” chapter president Zellie Orr urged the packed theater just before the movie began. During the pre-screening reception, Orr, a researcher and historian, said she became active with the chapter in 2004. She contacted the Lucas film folks more than two years ago to secure Thursday night’s premiere in Atlanta.
“These men who made history get to see it on the big screen,” she said. Tuskegee Airmen came from practically every state in the U.S. They contributed to our freedom at home and abroad. They’re getting the recognition they deserve.”
While many of Thursday’s honored guests were Tuskegee Airmen, only a couple were actual Red Tails. One of them was Bob Friend, a Columbia, S.C., native who enlisted in 1942 at age 21 and retired in 1971.
“It was unique in the fact that you were essentially isolated,” he said of his military service during the era of segregation. “The training that we got, I think, was equal to anyone else. An airplane is an airplane. We were people just like they were. We had the same objective – to win that war.”
Bob Friend, above left, was a Red Tail. Seated is veteran The Rev. Ewell Black, who spent four months in a German POW camp during WWII. On the right is Tuskegee Airman Hillard Pouncy. Black and Pouncy live in the same retirement home now and attended the screening together.
January 19, 2012, 1:19 amEx-Wife Marianne Gingrich Interview To Air Before Primary; Gingrich Daughters Respond
CHARLESTON, S.C. -- The Drudge Report began teasing political reporters Wednesday that a network's holding a "bombshell campaign interview." And soon, Drudge revealed that the network in question, ABC, had conducted a two-hour interview with Marianne Gingrich, ex-wife of Newt Gingrich, that may not run until after the South Carolina primary. The decision, Drudge reported, sparked a "civil war" at the network.
ABC staffers were caught by surprise at the news, telling The Huffington Post that if there was a "civil war," they hadn't heard about it. That doesn't mean there wasn't any debate among ABC executives over when to air the interview, but simply that the war certainly wasn't raging through the newsroom.
It also looks like the interview will air before Saturday's South Carolina primary after all. One ABC insider said that the Gingrich interview, conducted with Brian Ross, will likely air on Thursday's "Nightline."
Marianne Gingrich, the former Speaker's second wife, of 18 years, hasn't been shy about her feelings toward her ex-husband's presidential ambitions, telling Esquire in 2010 that there's "no way."
"He could have been president," she said. "But when you try and change your history too much, and try and recolor it because you don't like the way it was or you want it to be different to prove something new ... you lose touch with who you really are. You lose your way."
"He believes that what he says in public and how he lives don't have to be connected," Gingrich added, in the Esquire interview. "If you believe that, then yeah, you can run for president."
In the Esquire interview, Marianne also dismisses the conversion to Catholicism during his current, and third, marriage. She said it "has no meaning."
It's unclear who leaked the story to Drudge -- perhaps an ABC staffer who didn't want the interview to possibly get held until next week or rival campaign operative hoping to get Gingrich's baggage front-and-center on the influential conservative aggregator. Whoever the source, they got the political tongues wagging just 72 hours before the primary.
Gingrich's two daughters from his first marriage pushed back Wednesday, writing in a letter to the network's leadership that "ABC News or other campaigns may want to talk about the past, just days before an important primary election [but] Newt is going to talk to the people of South Carolina about the future."
The Gingrich daughters' letter, provided to The Huffington Post, is below:
To: ABC News Leadership
From: Kathy Lubbers, Jackie Cushman
Date: January 18, 2012
The failure of a marriage is a terrible and emotional experience for everyone involved. Anyone who has had that experience understands it is a personal tragedy filled with regrets, and sometimes differing memories of events.
We will not say anything negative about our father’s ex-wife. He has said before, privately and publicly, that he regrets any pain he may have caused in the past to people he loves.
ABC News or other campaigns may want to talk about the past, just days before an important primary election. But Newt is going to talk to the people of South Carolina about the future -- about job creation, lower taxes, and about who can defeat Barack Obama by providing the sharpest contrast to his damaging, extreme liberalism. We are confident this is the conversation the people of South Carolina are interested in having.
Our father is running for President because of his grandchildren -- so they can inherit the America he loves. To do that, President Obama must be defeated. And as the only candidate in the race, including Obama, who has actually helped balance the national budget, create jobs, reform welfare, and cut taxes and spending, Newt felt compelled to run -- to serve his country and safeguard his grandchildren's future.
Last Edited: January 19, 2012, 1:53 am
January 18, 2012, 6:51 pmParalyzed Nevada Man Reaches South Pole - "I Am Unbreakable"
RENO, Nev. – A Nevada man paralyzed in a 2010 snowmobiling accident has reached the South Pole, traveling about 75 miles in sub-zero temperatures over two weeks to complete the trip on the 100th anniversary of Capt. Robert Falcon Scott's trek there with the Terra Nova Expedition.
Grant Korgan, 33, of Incline Village, used a device called a sit-ski to reach the pole 100 years to the day after the British explorer completed the journey on Jan. 17, 1912.
"Although my body has been broken, my spirit never will be. I am unbreakable!" Korgan said in a statement posted on the crew's Web site.
Korgan's expedition party included paralympian John Davis, two guides and cinematographers who are shooting for a documentary called "The Push: A South Pole Adventure." The film is expected to be released later this year.
The team trained for a year with various missions in Alaska, Norway, Lake Tahoe and South America. Korgan estimated he'd have to push the Sitski approximately 250,000 times over the course of the trip.
"Grant just pulled off one of the most amazing athletic achievements in modern history and a first for adaptive athletes," said Steven Siig, director of the documentary film.
"This is a historic day in the name of recovery, technology, adventure and the human potential," he said.
The challenge was intended to help raise money for the California-based nonprofit High Fives Foundation, which helps injured winter athletes recover and get back to their sport. It also supports the Reeve Irvine Research Center, a science research facility at University of California, Irvine devoted to the study of repair, regeneration and recovery of function after spinal cord injury.
January 18, 2012, 5:57 pmThe Six Dirty Secrets of Presidential Politics in 2012
It is amazing to me how many political opinions/predictions from seemingly intelligent people are so clearly wrong and how little it seems to matter to them or anyone else in the punditsphere when this is inevitably proven to be true.
The reasons why this is the case are many, but at the core of this phenomenon is the fact that there are several basic realities of presidential politics that appear to have somehow failed to pierce the bubble/echo chamber of the media elites. These are, if you will, the "dirty little secrets" of presidential elections in general and 2012 in particular.
You simply can't properly evaluate what will happen this November without first understanding that:
Ignorant votes rule
No matter how politically incorrect it may to say out loud, there is absolutely no doubt that the voters who determine who wins our presidential elections are frighteningly lacking in even basic knowledge of the issues or the candidates.
While this has probably always been the case, the evidence is overwhelming that, for a variety of reasons (most notably the fragmentation and "fluff-ification" of our celebrity-driven media), this problem is getting worse every cycle. In 2008, I commissioned two scientific polls as part of my documentary of the media coverage of the election which proved just how incredibly ignorant of fundamental facts the voters of each candidate were.
It is quite clear that the country is basically split politically into thirds. One third is known in overly polite circles as "independent" or "casual" voters. In truth, these are people who don't pay attention and don't really care about current events. Unfortunately, because the other two thirds of "partisans" tend to balance each other out, it is these voters (yes, regrettably, they do indeed vote) who usually decide the winner in presidential elections.
Because the media has by far the greatest influence over this group (because they get their political "news" almost entirely from headlines, comedians, and friends), they went for Obama in a huge way in 2008 and, to a lesser extent, probably will again this time.
Issues/Ideology Mean Very Little
Thanks to "dirty little secret" number one, I find it almost hilarious that so many political commentators still desperately hang on to the delusion that voters (at least the ones who matter) make their decisions the same way that said commentators do. This reminds of me of the identical fallacy which occurs when a woman interprets the actions of a man based on the erroneous belief that his brain works like hers does.
These ignorant voters don't delve deeply into the candidates' record/positions to decide which one is closest to their views. They have no real ideology. Instead, they make their choices based mostly on feeling, and often that doesn't even mean a sense about each of the candidates.
Instead, these people tend to vote based on which decision will make them feel better about themselves. Ironically, that usually means which side will make these "stupid" people feel as if they have made the "smart" selection.
A glance at recent history proves this point. In 2008, there was no doubt that the media had convinced the "middle third" that Obama was the "wise" choice. In 2004, despite the media's best efforts, the middle third felt like Bush 43 would keep us safer in a post-9/11 world. In 2000, there was no real sense as to which candidate was the "wise" option, and it basically ended in a tie. In 1996, thanks to the economy being good, they deemed Bill Clinton worthy of a second term. In 1992, thanks to a misperception of the economy, they simply felt like three straight Republican terms was enough.
Now, if one candidate is perceived as being ideologically outside the mainstream (which, thanks to a media-created matrix, can really happen only to Republicans), then that perception will very likely impact the way that the "middle third" decides which candidate is the "wise" pick. But this usually won't be because of the candidate's actual views, but instead because of the narrative that his or her ideology creates (for instance, Rick Santorum would get crushed not because most people disagree with him about gay rights, but rather because his misunderstood views on the issue would create the impression that he was outside the mainstream and therefore not the "wise" alternative).
The bottom line as this relates to 2012 is that the notion that Mitt Romney would be at a disadvantage against President Obama because he is supposedly a "right-leaning moderate" going up against a "left-leaning moderate" is just silly. As long as there is no conservative third-party candidate, Obama himself will single-handily produce a near-100% conservative voter turnout for Romney, regardless of how his ideology is perceived.
This is also why Newt Gingrich is so unelectable, especially against Obama. All these voters would ever really know about him is that he is a fat, old, angry white male, with two ex-wives, who resigned as speaker of the House because he got Clinton impeached while he himself was having an affair. Game, set, match.
The 2010 Midterms Are Largely Irrelevant
The biggest political misunderstanding that most hardcore conservative voters have is that presidential elections are pretty much the same as the midterm variety. This is like comparing the NFL's Super Bowl with the Pro Bowl. Even though they are both football games, it would be difficult for them to be more unlike each other.
Midterms are local and state elections with almost no national media narrative/impact or principal individuals and where the turnout is usually pretty light. Presidential elections are 50 separate state elections with a distinct national narrative set by the media where there are two much-focused-on individuals and where turnout out is much higher than normal.
In short, midterms are based largely on ideology/party affiliation, while presidential matchups are about mostly about the feelings of people who don't follow politics.
This misconception has caused a huge problem for conservatives in this cycle because the Tea Party people seem to think that, based on the relative success of the 2010 campaign, beating Obama should be rather easy. This, in turn, has caused them to consider a number of candidates who have no shot at winning and who would ordinarily never even be considered for the task of trying to bring down the Obama monster.
In the end, it is likely to create enormous disappointment when Romney wins the nomination based mostly on the idea that he is the most (only) electable alternative. I also fear that, should Romney lose, the incredibly false lesson that will be "learned" (much like with John McCain in 2008) will be that we lost because we nominated a "moderate."
The Liberal Media's Influence Is Increasing
The popular perception among most commentators is that the media's general influence is on the decline and that, therefore, liberals are slowly losing one of their most powerful political weapons. I have devoted most of the last four years of my life to proving that this premise is patently false.
The counterargument to mine goes something like this: because of fragmentation, the audience sizes of the traditional liberal news outlets is shrinking, and thanks to Fox News, talk radio, and the internet, we are able to get our message out around the old gatekeepers.
This might very well be the most dangerous fallacy in the conservative movement today.
There is no doubt that fragmentation has dramatically altered the entire media landscape for the worse (except for the Golf and History Channels) and that audiences for individual outlets are indeed getting smaller. The problem is that numerous factors (including having largely gotten away with singehandedly electing Obama in 2008) have freed up these same liberal outlets to allow their true selves to really come pouring out without a hint of self-restraint.
After what they so overtly did for Obama and against Sarah Palin in 2008, why would they ever go back to just the relatively tame "bias" of the Nixon and Reagan years? The referees have gone from putting a finger on the scales of justice to flat out sitting on them, and yet there have been almost no repercussions. Even though they don't have nearly the same weight/power that they used to, they are happy to simply use a much greater percentage of what they still possess in order to get the job done.
Conversely, it is a myth that Fox News, talk radio, and the internet allow conservatives to get our truth out. In reality, at best, these outlets allow the previously converted to feel better about what they already believe. At worst, they provoke the other side into justifying a more overt bias in order to "balance" things out.
The ultimate example of this comes in the way the cable news networks have positioned themselves. MSNBC is far more left than FNC is to the right, and now, significantly left CNN is somehow allowed to be perceived to be in the "middle."
It is important to note here that the definition of "media outlets" which influence presidential elections now goes far beyond the "news" variety. You can actually argue that entertainment media has even more control these days than news divisions do (assuming you can even tell the difference between them anymore).
Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Jay Leno, David Letterman, Bill Maher, Saturday Night Live, and other "entertainment" outlets all have incredible power to create the narrative of a presidential election (just ask Palin), and they are highly unlikely to do so in a way that would ever harm Obama.
One of the many reasons why Romney is the only Republican candidate with a chance is because he is the only one who would be the target of mostly harmless jokes (teasing about how rich, straight-laced, and boring he is won't be nearly as devastating what they would easily come up with for Gingrich, Santorum, Paul, or Perry). Interestingly, this past week's attempt by SNL to parody Romney in exactly that way bombed dramatically.
The 2000 election provided an important lesson in this area. Interviews since then indicate that SNL staff thought that they were destroying Bush 43 by making him seem stupid. Instead, they actually helped his candidacy by making him seem way cooler and more likable than Al Gore, whom they portrayed as incredibly annoying.
The media testified on behalf of Obama in 2008. They are simply not going to let him be a one-term disaster if they can possibly help it.
Which leads directly to the next "secret"...
Obama Will Be Much Tougher to Beat Than Perceived
Even if the economy doesn't improve (or at least provide enough data for the media to manipulate into making it seem as if it is), Obama has at least a 50% chance at reelection. This assessment may be shocking to many conservatives, but it is based on sound analysis.
Incredibly, even now, both Obama and Romney are almost exactly even when it comes to net approval ratings, with the only difference being that a few more people have made up their minds about Obama than have with Romney. The head-to-head polling data also indicates that they are approximately tied.
Taking out an incumbent is always difficult (even Bush 43 improved on his 2000 vote with an unpopular war and a partisan press working against him), but especially given two elements that seem to have been forgotten by overly optimistic conservatives.
The first is that the number-one argument (at least as approved by the cowardly McCain campaign) against Obama in 2008 was that he lacked any executive experience. Well, he now has essentially served four years in the most difficult executive position in the world. To the "middle third" voters, this weakness has now become a strength (as has, by the way, his lack of a foreign policy resume, which now boasts the killing of Osama bin Laden on it).
Second, "middle third" voters hate one party controlling all the levers of power, especially now, when trust in politicians and Congress is at all-time lows.
Republicans currently control the House and seem very likely to take over the Senate. This is a reality, I am quite certain, of which (unlike 2008, when my polls indicated that most Obama voters wrongly thought that Republicans were in control) the media will make very sure every "casual" voter is made painfully aware. The fact that they would be able to claim that a Romney victory would allow the "crazy" (and increasingly unpopular) Tea Party coalition to "take over" will only exacerbate the negative impact this will have on undecided voters.
The only reason why Romney has any real chance at all is because he is uniquely positioned to win in New Hampshire, Nevada, and Michigan, all of which are critical to Obama's various paths to 270 Electoral College votes.
But this all assumes that the economy stays basically where it is between now and November. If it is perceived as really getting better, then Romney will almost certainly lose barring some sort of significant scandal, which, given the incredibly high standards the media would use to judge any possible indiscretions, would seem to be highly unlikely.
The reason why Romney is indeed the most electable Republican left is because he makes the race more of a pure referendum on Obama than any of the others (though not as much as a Tim Pawlenty would have). This means that, to a large degree, his destiny is not in his own hands, and his candidacy is at the mercy of largely ignorant voters' feelings about the economy.
The only other plausible scenario here is that Iran, Iraq, and Syria explode to the point where foreign policy becomes a much bigger issue than anyone currently expects. This, of course, does not play into Romney's strengths, and unless he took the bold/risky step of picking Condoleezza Rice as his VP (and she surprisingly accepted), it would be hard to see how he could fully take advantage of this shift in the campaign's narrative.
The Conservative Media Has an Incentive for Obama to Win
The "dirtiest" little secret on my list is one that, because it is so obvious, I am astonished has not been mentioned in any significant way.
In my experience, the most universal misconception that conservatives have about politics is that most of those in the "conservative media" or those who are "activists" are motivated primarily because they believe in the cause. Unfortunately, for many reasons too numerous to get into in this space, this is simply not the case. The vast majority of the decisions made in the conservative media and by activists are decided by business considerations rather than by what is best for the cause.
In other words, it is ratings, traffic, and, ultimately, revenue/job security which dictate a huge portion (not all) of the content produced by Fox News, the Drudge Report, and talk radio, and it is donations which determine how most activists react. This is why Sarah Palin's irrelevant presidential tease and Herman Cain's always-doomed campaign were given so much more attention than they deserved. It is also a significant part of why the "Tea Party movement" evolved as it did.
It is also why there is a very good chance that many people in both groups will effectively lay down their arms in the battle to unseat Obama.
The reasoning behind this controversial declaration is quite simple. Those entities have absolutely no financial incentive for Obama to lose and, if fact, have a profound disincentive against facilitating his defeat.
The Obama presidency has been a financial windfall for all of them. Fox's ratings have never been higher, Drudge's traffic has never been better (which is rather "ironic," given how blatantly he protected Obama during the 2008 primaries), talk radio has been at least temporarily saved, and dozens of "Tea Party" groups have raised millions of dollars with which to line the pockets of their organizers and consultant friends. If Obama loses, not only does all of that stop, but the prospect of possibly eight long years of being "obligated" to support a rather boring Mitt Romney with no "boogieman" to attack must scare the daylights out of them.
To be clear, there will be no overt conspiracy. There is no need for there to be one. These are all people who live their daily lives based on pursuing their own interests, and many of them will have no problem coming to the conclusion that an Obama loss would be a terrible thing for their personal "cause" all on their own.
For those skeptical of my rather cynical hypothesis, I offer two quick examples.
If those I speak of really were primarily devoted to the cause of beating Obama, every conservative in the country would have been activated to support Pennsylvania's proposal to alter the way that it allocates its Electoral College votes because it would have made Obama's reelection almost impossible. Instead, the proposal got almost no attention, and the idea was unceremoniously dropped.
Similarly, some have compared the attacks on Romney's Bain record to what happened regarding Obama's "Rev. Wright" issue during his successful primary run. The big difference (other than the Wright issue being far more legitimate), of course, is that Hillary Clinton did not take up the attacks on the Wright connection, while Newt Gingrich has led the charge on the Bain issue.
While Gingrich has been criticized by many conservatives for his actions here, there has not been nearly the universality of ferocity of condemnation on the right as there would have been on the left had Hillary done the same to Obama (which is probably why she never dared to go there).
The primary reason for this is that the conservative elite are simply not as willing to go to the mat for Romney as their counterparts on the left were (and still will be) for Obama.
In a bizarre way, I am coming to see the coming Romney candidacy much as I view the Iraq War. It was a good idea; was based on seemingly sound, though ultimately flawed, assumptions; and was executed well under very difficult circumstances, but it ended up being doomed in public perception largely because too many weak-kneed conservatives weren't willing to pay the price to achieve ultimate victory.
In other words, if every conservative power broker sincerely wanted to defeat Obama as they claim they do and acted based on that as their primary priority, then, with any luck, Romney would win. Unfortunately, based on my extensive knowledge of these people, I have zero faith that most of them will be there for the cause when it really counts.
Therefore, the most likely scenario is that Obama gets re-elected, the country is harmed, and many so-called "conservatives" will smile.
Last Edited: January 18, 2012, 6:03 pm
January 18, 2012, 5:04 pmNew Jersey Governor Christie Wants 10 Percent Income Tax Cut
TRENTON, N.J. - January 17, 2012 (WPVI) -- New Jersey is making a comeback. Now come back!
That was the message Gov. Chris Christie tried to convey on Tuesday as he proposed an across-the-board 10 percent income tax cut he said would help lure families back to the nation's most densely populated state.
"This will send a loud signal to New Jerseyans and would-be New Jerseyans. ... New Jersey is once again a place to plan your future, raise your family, grow your business and someday retire," the first-term Republican governor told a joint session of the Legislature.
The proposal, held tightly under wraps, appeared to be a surprise to Republicans and Democrats.
Democrats literally refused to stand for it as he received a raucous standing ovation from the half of the chamber where Republicans were seated.
State Sen. President Stephen Sweeney, a Democrat, called the proposal a "B.S. tax cut" and a "windfall for millionaires at the expense of schools."
Ironically, Democrats who support a progressive income tax plan because it more heavily taxes the rich who can more easily afford it, objected to the governor's flat tax cut for the same reason - wealthier residents would receive more money than poor ones.
Christie said that doing so was fair since the rich paid more in to begin with: "Everyone made the sacrifice. Everyone will share in the benefit," the governor said. He also said he wants to restore the earned income tax credit for the state's working poor - a credit that was cut two years ago amid a fiscal crisis.
Christie said that after New Jersey residents shared the sacrifice during the depths of the recession, they should share in benefits now that the economy is improving. The tax changes, he said, would do just that - and he said they move in the opposite direction from states such as New York, Illinois and California, where there are proposals to raise some taxes
The first-term Republican governor did not say in his third State of the State speech how he would pay for the income tax cut, which would cost an estimated $1 billion according to projected tax collections. Under Christie's plan, a couple with a taxable income of $600,000 would save around $4,000. A family with taxable income of $50,000 would save about $80 a year.
In his address, Christie said that his fiscal discipline over the last two years has worked - proclaiming a familiar slogan uttered by his administration: "the New Jersey comeback has begun."
As part of that, he cited the addition of private-sector jobs, the reduction of more than 375 government programs, a cap on the allowed annual increase in property taxes, and an overhaul of the state's pension and benefits programs.
In addition to an income tax cut, Christie set his next priority as bolstering low-performing schools through measures he's long proposed, such as changing the tenure system and introducing merit pay for educators.
His third priority for the year, he said, is to crack down on violence in cities through steps like overhauling the bail system to keep suspects who have histories of violence in custody as they await trial on new charges. He also called for mandating low-level, nonviolent drug offenders get treatment instead of prison.
Former Gov. Jim McGreevey, who had not appeared in the Assembly chamber since he resigned in 2004 after announcing he is a "gay American," attended the speech to hear what Christie would say about crime issues. McGreevey, who has attended seminary and counseled female prison inmates since he left office, called Christie's plan "gutsy."
Political watchers said the speech was targeted with an eye toward Christie's national reputation as he looks to cement his conservative credentials by cutting taxes and the size of government.
"This was about the governor's political future. It was about looking ahead to 2013 and beyond," said Monmouth University political science professor Patrick Murray.
"He threw Democrats a curve ball on the tax cut, challenged them on education, and extended an olive branch on drug courts."
While Christie's profile has risen within the national Republican Party due to his blunt style and ability to work with Democrats, cooperative Democrats in the Legislature may become more of an endangered species for Christie, as they begin moving into position to challenge Christie for the governor's office in 2013.
Christie was also moving into campaign position Tuesday, releasing a highlight reel video titled "Governor Chris Christie: The Jersey Comeback Has Begun." He planned to follow that up with two town hall events this week in Voorhees and Irvington.
Last Edited: January 18, 2012, 5:05 pm
January 18, 2012, 10:23 amWhite House Briefly Locked Down After Apparent Smoke Bomb Tossed Over Fence
WASHINGTON, Jan 17 (Reuters) - The White House was locked down for more than an hour on Tuesday night as authorities investigated what appeared to be a smoke bomb tossed over the fence of the executive compound, a Secret Service spokesman said.
The device was thrown over the fence at one point when about 1,000 to 1,500 "Occupy DC" protesters were demonstrating outside the White House, Secret Service spokesman George Ogilvie said.
He gave the "all clear" later in the evening.
A majority of the protesters had left the area earlier and there had been no arrests, he said.
President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, went out to dinner to celebrate her birthday and were not at the White House when the incident began but returned while the investigation was under way.
Members of the White House press pool were prevented from leaving for about 45 minutes before they were escorted off the grounds. Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House was also closed during the investigation.
Demonstrators from the Occupy movement marched to the White House after earlier converging at the U.S. Capitol and congressional office buildings to protest against the influence of money on lawmakers.
Several hundred demonstrators, some from as far as Nevada and San Diego, staged rallies and attempts to meet lawmakers as they returned from a holiday break. One demonstrator was arrested for assaulting a police officer and three others for crossing a police line, a Capitol Police spokeswoman said.
The Occupy movement burst on the national scene in September in New York with its focus on income inequality in the United States.
January 18, 2012, 10:14 amInsulting Comments at Fox News Debate Show Newt Clueless on Black Americans
At the GOP debate Gingrich stood by his comments about African-Americans needing to demand work, and his description of Obama as the “food stamp” president, showing why he—and his party—can’t appeal to nonwhites.
If you want to understand why the GOP is so ill prepared to compete in an increasingly nonwhite America, just look at the exchange between Fox News questioner Juan Williams and Newt Gingrich halfway through last night’s Republican presidential debate.
It being Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Williams asked Gingrich whether some poor and minority voters might not be insulted at his claim that poor kids lack a work ethic and that black people should be instructed to demand jobs, not food stamps. Gingrich, as is his wont, haughtily dismissed Williams’s question, to wild applause.
Then Williams tried again, mentioning a black woman who had taken Gingrich to task for calling Barack Obama a “food stamp” president. By this point, the overwhelmingly white crowd had begun to boo the only African-American on stage. When Gingrich insisted that Obama was indeed the “food stamp” president—because more Americans are now on food stamps—and dismissed Williams’s criticism as “politically correct,” the crowd began to scream with delight. By the time Gingrich finished his answer, the crowd was on its feet in a standing ovation.
The fascinating thing about the exchange is that Gingrich is not a racist. I suspect he genuinely cares about the African-American poor. In fact, he’s convinced himself that his willingness to say things that many African-Americans consider insulting is an expression of that concern; that only he cares enough about African-Americans to speak the “politically incorrect” truths that black leaders won’t.
Gingrich’s problem isn’t racism; it’s ignorance. Only someone profoundly ignorant of African-American politics would suggest that black Americans have spent the past few decades seeking food stamps, not jobs. We celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, after all, in part because of the speech King gave at an event called the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. If you look at the budgets proposed by the Congressional Black Caucus over the years, you’ll see that they often include huge, FDR-style government jobs programs. Gingrich may not think that’s the best way to go about providing jobs, but to suggest that African-Americans and their leaders don’t consider jobs important just reveals how shut off from Africa-American politics he actually is.
I’m sure Gingrich also sees nothing offensive in calling Obama the “food stamp” president. After all, under Obama the number of people using food stamps has gone up! So because Alan Greenspan presided over predatory lending policies by banks, perhaps we should have called him the “Shylock” chairman of the Federal Reserve. And if child molestations by priests rise on this administration’s watch, perhaps we should call Joseph Biden the “pedophilia” vice president.
Gingrich would never use those phrases, of course, because he’s familiar enough with Jews and Catholics to understand why they’d find them offensive. But for Gingrich—a veteran politician from the state of Georgia, speaking at a debate in South Carolina on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday—not to understand why calling the first African-American in the Oval Office the “food stamp” president would offend African-Americans is simply amazing. The most plausible explanation is that Gingrich inhabits a cultural and intellectual bubble. A bubble called the Republican Party.
I don’t doubt that Newt Gingrich wants to help African-Americans, just like I don’t doubt that George W. Bush wanted to help Iraqis. But in politics, if you want to help people, it’s a good idea to learn something about them first.
Last Edited: January 18, 2012, 12:48 pm
January 17, 2012, 7:11 amValerie Jarrett Slams Republicans Praises Obama at Ebenezer Baptist Church
On the Sunday before the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett visited Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta to give a political speech in support of her boss (Barack Obama) and congressional Democrats:
"Teachers, and firefighters, and policemen, whose jobs are now in jeopardy because Congress--well let me be specific--because the Republicans in Congress," Jarrett told the crowd. According to the CBS affiliate in Atlanta, at this point, "Before she could finish her sentence, people in the congregation were laughing, and applauding."
At the Sunday service, Jarrett also brought up Osama bin Laden's death in order to praise the president. "We all sleep a little better at night knowing Osama Bin Laden and his lieutenants are not plotting a terrorist attack against the United States," Jarrett said. Then she pivoted to Iraq: "I saw so many soldiers returning home from their last tour of duty in Iraq, in time for the Christmas holidays."
At the end of Sunday's sermon, after Jarrett had delivered her remarks to the congregation, the church held a voter registration drive.
Last Edited: January 17, 2012, 7:12 am
January 15, 2012, 7:30 amNJ Doubles To Watch This Month
Doubles To Watch This Month:
202 212 232 292 393 454
020 121 323 929 939 545
565 575 595 606 909 969
656 757 959 060 090 696
January 9, 2012, 9:22 amNJ Pick-3 Test Picks 1/9th - 1/12th
Testing New System:
Series * 201 * 453 * 786 * 756
920 942 947 975 950 986 931
475 425 250 563 256 301 361
360 605 380 872 802 024 659
504 304 206 651 478
Last Edited: January 9, 2012, 9:26 am
January 5, 2012, 7:45 amGuess What Casey Anthony Is Doing Now!!
According To Good Morning America - She's Doing A Video Diary
And, Of Course, Someone Posted Her First Video On YouTube
January 5, 2012, 6:38 amTop Ten Lottery Stories Of 2011
People that win the lottery are unique in that one day they're regular people and the next day they're rich. Some of them even become somewhat of a celebrity - They're featured on the news, on TV shows, and also this website.
Lottery winners are also unique in that they get instant riches whereas, normally, people have to work hard to become rich. With instant riches, people don't have experience with money, so many of them don't know what to do with it. That's usually not a good thing, but it often makes for interesting stories.
2011 had it's fair share of interesting lottery stories. Here are the top 10:
10. Alicia Jongstra: The best place to hide a million dollars is in your bra.
9. Ronald Redden: He spent a lot of money on lottery tickets. Then Jesus helped him win!
8. Bridgette Allen: She couldn't afford her electrical bills prior to winning some money in the lotto.
7. Paul Turton: It feels strange to be a millionaire.
6. Karen Flook: It took her just 12 months to blow her lottery money.
5. Roy Chase: His lottery ticket was stolen by a store clerk, but he still managed to get his money.
4. Ann Lepine: Some people that win the lottery end up blowing all their money. Not many get a second chance - Ann Lepine did.
3. Franco Varone: The man that "no speaking da good English" wins $50 million.
2. Kathy Scruggs: Wins the lottery by mistake.
1. Patricia Manzitto: She tries to cheat the lottery, but then wins it fair and square.
Last Edited: January 5, 2012, 6:44 am
January 5, 2012, 6:16 amLotto Max Winners Must Wait For $50-Million Payout Because They Were Lottery Retailers
An Ontario couple will have to wait more than a month before they can collect the $50-million jackpot they won last week because they owned and operated a store that sold lottery tickets within the past year.
JoAnn and Gaetan Champagne held the winning ticket for the Lotto Max draw on Dec. 30, 2011.
The Champagnes owned Jo’s Depanneur in Hawkesbury until October 2011, and JoAnn Champagne continued to work in the store part-time after it was sold. Because of rules governing lottery retailers, their win will be subject to a review by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation and the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.
Lottery retailers are allowed to play the lottery, but they can’t buy or validate their tickets at their own store. And anyone who wins a major prize and who also sold tickets within the past year is subject to an OLG review called the Insider Wins process.
The Champagnes, who were in Toronto to start the claim process on Wednesday, said they won the prize on a free ticket.
Mr. Champagne redeemed his old ticket at a Hawkesbury Pharmaprix in December for the free-play ticket that turned out to be the jackpot winner.
When the couple checked the numbers at another convenience store on New Year’s Eve, both initially thought they had won $50,000. They said it took an excited cashier to point out that their ticket was actually worth much more. “She said there’s too many zeros there,” Ms. Champagne said.
“That’s when we knew it was real,” her husband added.
Ms. Champagne tucked the ticket away in her boot, inside the sock, and the couple drove to the Rideau Carleton Raceway in Ottawa to validate it.
“Everybody says if you win big, go to the Rideau,” Ms. Champagne said. The pair has been playing the lottery for 30 years – ever since they got married.
Immediately after putting their ticket into a Lotto machine at the racetrack, the Champagnes got a call from the OLG, a standard procedure for tickets worth $5,000 or more.
Tony Bitonti, a spokesman for the OLG, said the couple reported their insider status to the OLG from the beginning and was aware of the process they’d have to go through as recent lottery retailers.
“The good news about these folks is that they were very aware of what the policy was,” Mr. Bitonti said.
He said the OLG will review the win, and then pass the investigation off to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario for another round of scrutiny, a process that could take several weeks. If the couple isn't disqualified during the review, the corporation will hold the money for another 30 days to allow anyone to come forward with concerns about their win.
“Basically, this is fairly routine for us, when it comes to retailers, except that there’s $50-million on the line,” Mr. Bitonti said.
He said that in the Champagnes’s case, it will likely take between six weeks and two months for the couple to get their money. Until that time, the OLG considers the pair “prize claimants,” not winners.
Lottery retailers have been subject to review for years, Mr. Bitonti said, but the process was strengthened in 2009 when a new “No Play at Work” rule came into effect that barred retailers from buying, checking or redeeming tickets at their own stores.
The policy was created following a 2007 report by Ontario Ombudsman André Marin that found retailers had collected millions of dollars in “dishonest” lottery prizes.
One of the most well-known examples is that of Kathleen Chung, from Burlington, Ont., who claimed a $12.5-million Super 7 prize on a free ticket. The OLG later discovered the woman’s brother and father ran the convenience store the free play ticket came from, but paid her the money anyway after the ticket expired, according to Mr. Marin.
Police allege Ms. Chung’s father and brother stole the free ticket from a customer and gave it to her to cash in. The OLG still hasn’t recovered the money.
The Champagnes said they knew to expect a review of their winnings, and they aren’t concerned because their winning ticket didn’t come from the store they once operated.
The couple said they’ll go ahead with a planned vacation to the Dominican Republic next week, and then take some more time to think about what to do with the winnings. In addition to sharing with their two adult sons, the Champagnes say they will give some of the money to the Hawkesbury food bank, which was robbed last month.
Last Edited: January 5, 2012, 6:17 am