June 11, 2012

Posted by orrinj at 7:08 PM


Obama: Too busy to help Wisconsin Democrats in recall election (Olivier Knox, 6/11/12, Yahoo :  The Ticket)

President Barack Obama explained in a radio interview Monday why he didn't do more to help Wisconsin Democrats in their battle to recall Republican Governor Scott Walker: He was too busy.

"The truth of the matter is that, as president of the United States, I've got a lot of responsibilities," he told WBAY of Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Posted by orrinj at 6:58 PM


The Tipping Point (John Ellis, 6/11/12, Real Clear Politics)

In 2008, 43 percent of white voters cast their presidential ballots for Sen. Barack Obama. That was more than he needed to win. Today, according to the most recent FOX News poll, 35 percent of white voters say that they support President Obama's re-election. This is what makes the 2012 presidential election too close to call.

The overriding fear of Team Obama is that the president's support among white voters will collapse. The math is simple. If Romney gets 65 percent of the white vote (which will likely comprise -- at least -- 72 percent of the electorate) then he gets 48 percent of the total vote. From there, Romney need only get 20 percent of all non-white voters to win by a comfortable margin.

Posted by orrinj at 6:47 PM


THE SECOND TERM : What would Obama do if reëlected? (Ryan Lizza, JUNE 18, 2012, The New Yorker)

In November, 1984, President Ronald Reagan was reëlected in a landslide victory over Walter Mondale, taking forty-nine states and fifty-nine per cent of the popular vote. The Reagan revolution was powerfully reaffirmed. Soon after, Donald Regan, the new chief of staff, sent word to a small group of trusted friends and Administration officials seeking advice on how Reagan should approach his last four years in office. It was an unusual moment in the history of the Presidency, and the experience of recent incumbents offered no guidance. No President since Dwight D. Eisenhower had served two full terms. John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Lyndon Johnson, overwhelmed by the war in Vietnam, had declined to run for reëlection in 1968. Richard Nixon resigned less than seventeen months into his second term. Gerald Ford (who was never elected) and Jimmy Carter were defeated. By the nineteen-eighties, it had become popular to talk about the crisis of the Presidency; a bipartisan group of Washington leaders, with Carter's support, launched the National Committee for a Single Six-Year Presidential Term. [...]

Every President running for reëlection begins to think about his second term well before victory is assured. In early 2009, Rahm Emanuel, Obama's first chief of staff, told me that the White House was already contemplating the Presidency in terms of eight years. He said that it was folly to try to accomplish everything in the first term. "I don't buy into everybody's theory about the final years of a Presidency," Emanuel said. "There's an accepted wisdom that in the final years you're kind of done. Ronald Reagan, in the final years, got arms control, immigration reform, and created a separate new department," that of Veterans Affairs.

Posted by orrinj at 4:23 PM


Newer tablets cost less than originals, with little sacrifice (Donna L. Tapellini, Jun 11, 2012, Consumer Reports)

Three tablets in our Ratings show how manufacturers make virtually the same device for less money, and what trade-offs--usually minimal--you'll make when choosing the less expensive tablet. Asus, Samsung, and Toshiba each recently debuted cheaper versions of their tablets, keeping the new ones as appealing as the earlier, more expensive versions.

Posted by orrinj at 4:20 PM


Ultra-Orthodox Jews Vandalize Jerusalem's Holocaust Memorial (Alex Klein, Jun 11, 2012, Daily Beast)

On a typical Sunday afternoon, the central courtyard at Yad Vashem, Jerusalem's storied Holocaust memorial, is filled with visitors: Tel Aviv tourists, Israeli Defense Force cadets, American Birthrighters. But on an unseasonably cool day yesterday, the memorial's gates were ringed with security tape, its walls stained with black paint. Beside a statue of Mordecai Anielewicz, the hero of the Warsaw uprising, dripped a crude cartoon of an Auschwitz-bound train. Below an engraved procession of victims looped rows of hateful graffiti: "Hitler, thanks for the Holocaust," "Israel is the secular Auschwitz," and so on.

But the neat cursive writing was not in Arabic; it was in Hebrew. And although the police have not identified any suspects, a museum spokeswoman told The Daily Beast, it's almost certain that the can-wielding vandals were haredim, or ultra-orthodox Jews. Yad Vashem's chairman, Avner Shalev, has already told the press that one of the tags was signed "World Haredi Jewry." According to a guide at the site who asked not to be named, a few key grammatical errors in the Hebrew would confirm authorship by a member of the ultra-orthodox--many of whose first language is Yiddish. "Arabs didn't write this," he told me, visibly shaken. [...]

Why would Jews desecrate this place? Because, in the eyes of far-right fundamentalists, even Nazism is preferable to the secularism of the Jewish state.
So why would Jews desecrate this place? Because, in the eyes of far-right fundamentalists, even Nazism is preferable to the secularism of the Jewish state. The first killed merely the body, while the latter kills the soul. And a liberal Israel that fosters strong Reform and Conservative Jewish traditions--an Israel of nightclubs, shopping malls, and topless beaches? Blasphemous.

The haredim believe that no formal government should exist in Israel before the Messiah comes and reestablishes a Jewish kingdom. Some on the far right even subscribe to the classic anti-Semitic lie that the Holocaust was made up to provide a pretext for the establishment of Israel. One wall bore the phrase, "An alternative museum will be built next to the selective Yad Vashem"--a museum, apparently, for the "true" Jews: the orthodox Ashkenazim from Eastern Europe, and not the "Sephardic Jewry" demeaned in another line of paint.

Posted by orrinj at 4:15 PM


The Supreme Court's Passive-Aggressive Gutting of Habeas Corpus (SCOTT LEMIEUX, JUNE 11, 2012, American Prospect)

Since it requires four votes to hear an appeal, however, we know that at least one of the Court's Democratic appointees voted not to hear the appeals. This could mean a number of things. The worst-case scenario is that one or both of President Obama's nominees do not take habeas corpus rights as seriously than the moderate Republican nominees (John Paul Stevens and David Souter, both part of the Boumediene majority) they replaced. It's also possible that one or all of the more liberal members of the Court didn't trust Anthony Kennedy to critically evaluate the standards established by the D.C. Circuit, and made the strategic calculation that not hearing the case was better than establishing a bad precedent. Either way, as of now Boumediene has essentially be reduced to an empty shell, holding out a promise of constitutional protections the federal judiciary has no intention of actually fulfilling.

What's alarming is anyone taking seriously the notion that foreign enemies have habeas corpus rights under the Constitution of We the People.

Posted by orrinj at 6:22 AM


Mitch Daniels Says Public-Sector Unions Should Be Abolished (ROLAND LI, June 10, 2012, IB Times)

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels said on "Fox News Sunday" that public-sector unions should be abolished in the wake of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's victory in a recall election.

"I think, really, government works better without them," said Daniels, who restricted unions' collective-bargaining rights in his own state. "Money is being devoured by very high salaries, almost bulletproof job protection, and huge pensions."

He said private-sector unions remain "necessary," but hopes that the Walker victory will be a "turning point" in the public union system.

Posted by orrinj at 6:19 AM


Pro-Pinochet documentary triggers clashes in Chile (Deutsche Welle, 6/10/12)

Simply entitled "Pinochet," the documentary portrays the Chilean dictator as a national hero who saved the country from communism. The Corporacion 11 de Septiembre organized the screening, which also hosted the biggest gathering of Pinochet supporters since his death in 2006. The group is named after date when Pinochet ousted socialist president Salvador Allende in a 1973 US-backed coup.

"We want to set the record straight on Pinochet," Juan Gonzalez, a retired army officer who leads the pro-Pinochet group. "We have stoically put up with the lies and cheating and seen how the story has been manipulated."

Pinochet supporters claim that his 1973-1990 dictatorship prevented Chile from becoming a failed socialist state and helped pave the way for the South American nation's current economic success.

Even had the regime not saved the country from communism and pioneered the Third Way, it would still be worth celebrating the Washingtonesque transition to liberal democracy the General led.
Posted by orrinj at 6:11 AM


Middle class rejects Dems' class warfare (Nolan Finley, 6/10/12, Detroit News)

That middle-class voters feel more affinity with those who stand higher on the economic ladder than those who occupy the lower rungs suggests some things about the electorate.

Clearly, those in the middle haven't stopped striving to get to the top. If they really felt as if they were being pushed out of the middle class, they'd align themselves politically with the lower-income voters who are the beneficiaries of Obama's redistributionist crusade.

They also understand that the transfer of wealth won't stop with the wealthy. To capture enough revenue to sustain the entitlement state Obama is crafting, broad tax hikes will be required. Since much of the money resides with the middle class, that's who will pay the tab.

Although middle-income families have been battered during the lingering economic doldrums, they aren't seduced by a Robin Hood who promises to ease their pain with an exhaustive menu of government handouts.

They want more and better jobs, income growth that keeps up with the cost of living, restoration of their home values and a chance to move up in life. They've given Obama nearly four years, and he hasn't delivered.

Posted by orrinj at 6:08 AM


Trying to Kill Bashar al-Assad Not So Radical Given U.S. Security Interests (Peter Beinart, Jun 11, 2012, Daily Beast)

[I]t's hard to discern any principle that distinguishes killing Assad from the targeted assassinations and humanitarian wars that command significant American political support. A key principle of just-war theory is the principle of discrimination: You should tailor your violence as narrowly as possible. Some justify drone strikes on exactly those grounds: They hurt fewer people than the full-scale invasions the U.S. launched in Afghanistan and Iraq. The same principle applies to sanctions: Most people would agree that sanctions that target a ruling elite are preferable to ones that affect an entire people. If that's the case, then why isn't it preferable to target Assad personally instead of bombing Syrian conscripts, or Syrian civilians, in order to bring down his regime?

Establishing the principle that dictators are fair game is entirely worthwhile.

Posted by orrinj at 5:31 AM


Move over, Wisconsin -- the union battle is beginning in California (Jon Ortiz, Jun. 10, 2012, Sacramento Bee)

"Unions have just two channels of influence," said Daniel J.B. Mitchell of the Anderson Graduate School of Management at UCLA, "collective bargaining and the political side, so this initiative is extremely important to them."

The measure, which has not yet received a proposition number, would ban both unions and corporations from contributing directly to candidates, although both sides could still freely spend money on their own independent efforts.

Another provision forbids both sides from using money gathered from payroll deductions for political purposes. It promises to gut the power of labor unions because they raise nearly all of their money for political and other purposes via payroll-deducted dues from their members' paychecks.

...ban the independent efforts too.