Vucci/AP;Kourkounis/GettySecretary of State Hillary Clinton (left) has a fan in Christine O'Donnell.
If one-time witch Christine O'Donnell could cast a spell, she'd make President Obama disappear and Hillary Clinton would be the Democrats' presidential candidate in 2012 against Sarah Palin.
The Tea Party darling and failed GOP Senate candidate told ABC's "Good Morning America” Tuesday that a possible Clinton run would tempt her to change her party registration for the primary to help oust the President.
"Right now anybody is better than Obama," O'Donnell said.
Of course, O'Donnell's allegiance remains with Republicans.
"I love everybody in the Republican side who's even considering throwing their hat in the ring, so I'd be happy with any candidate who gets the Republican nomination," she said.
Neither Hillary Clinton, the current Secretary of State, or Sarah Palin has officially announced plans to run for President in 2012.
O'Donnell made a splash this summer with her upset win in Delaware's GOP Senate primary. Her campaign, however, was dogged by TV clips of her from the 90s talking about her dabbling with witchcraft and belief that masturbation is a form of adultery.
O'Donnell suffered a double-digit thrashing on Election Day, losing to Democrat Chris Coons.
Tea party speaker, banned by Archdiocese of Cincinnati, moves to new site
The Enquirer • November 29, 2010
Frantz Kebreau, a 43-year-old airline pilot and national director of an organization called the National Association for the Advancement of Conservative People of All Colors, will speak from 2 to 4 p.m. Dec. 11 in the Conference Center at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College. The event is free and open to all.
Kebreau recently told The Enquirer his speech, "Stolen History: What the Left Does Not Want You to Know," is a culmination of research he did independently and uncovers the truth about racism and civil rights in America's history.
Kebreau's visit was organized by Cincinnati 9/12 Project, part of a national effort championed by Fox News Channel's Glenn Beck. Initially he had planned to speak at Purcell Marion High School, but the archdiocese nixed the event once learning the title and sponsorship.
Buffalo Bills' wide receiver Steve Johnson sent out a tweet seemingly blaming God for his five dropped passes in yesterday's game against the Steelers, including one that could have been the game-winning catch. Gary Hamilton reports.
LINK TO VIDEO
Rove: Palin tour in Iowa 'smart,' but she has to reach outside GOP ranks
GOP strategist Karl Rove doesn't think Sarah Palin's reality show will earn her any points for a presidential run, but said Friday that putting three of her 16 book tour stops in Iowa is "a smart thing to do."
Palin is hitting the road, including in the early presidential state, to promote her new book "America By Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag."
"It gives her an excuse to be there as something other than a candidate, which is really important," Rove said on Fox News.
"That's a pretty smart move if you're thinking about running for president," he added.
As there's no love lost between the former Alaska governor and President George W. Bush's onetime senior adviser, Rove went on to say that Palin had difficultly expanding beyond a "paint-me-red Republican."
"She's got a problem with independents and a problem with Democrats, and over the course of the next year, like all of the Republican candidates, she's got to demonstrate that she has an ability to unify the Republicans and reach outside the Republican ranks," Rove said.
"I mean, in 1980 this was a key test for President Reagan when he ran for the presidential nomination and he demonstrated he can unify the party and that he had a special appeal outside the Republican Party's so-called Reagan Democrats," he added, stressing that Republicans want to win in 2012 and want a candidate who can draw voters from outside the party.
Sometimes words fail
In the lab and on the screen, stuttering gets its close-up.
Jessica Pauline Ogilvie
Special to the Los Angeles Times
November 29, 2010
Robin Sullivan was 10 when she first began looking for information about her stutter. She'd had the speech disorder for as long as she could remember — one of her earliest memories is of lying on a table practicing breathing exercises.
She wasn't bullied or teased, she says; she just felt ignored. "I went to the library, and I read everything I could get my hands on," she says. "I was looking for that feeling of not being alone."
It took Sullivan, now in her early 40s, until high school to find the help that she needed. "Up until then I felt out of control, helpless," she says.
An estimated 3 million American adults have a stutter that didn't resolve in childhood, according to the nonprofit Stuttering Foundation of America. As kids, many dealt with the giggles of classmates and confusion of teachers; as adults, they often deal with uncertain glances and the impatience of strangers. They've long sought comfort from each other, sharing their experiences at conferences and advocacy groups. Now, with the release of "The King's Speech," a critically acclaimed movie starring Colin Firth as King George VI, the so-called stuttering prince, many hope that the public will begin to comprehend their struggles.
There's no cure for stuttering — "I have good speech days and bad speech days," Sullivan says — but researchers and experts have made strides in understanding the complicated disorder. They've found versions of genes linked to stuttering risk; they've found differences in the brains of stutterers too. Both may offer clues to the roots of the speech block and, maybe, point the way toward medical therapies one day.
Stuttering affects about 1% of the adult population worldwide, and four times as many men as women. The disorder is classified by disruptions that happen during speech; people who stutter may alternately repeat part of a word multiple times, or be unable to produce sound at all.
"It's like time stops for a moment," says Sullivan of her own stutter. Her lips and face tense up, and even as she hears conversations and activity continuing around her, for the brief minute that her mouth refuses to form words, she's on the outside of it all. "You feel stuck," she says. "Just plain stuck."
As children first learn to speak, stuttering isn't unusual: Nearly 5% of kids around the age of 3 or 4 have trouble with fluency. In four out of five of those children, stuttering resolves on its own. It's unclear what causes the remaining children to retain the disorder, but experts believe that the answer may lie in family history.
In fact, approximately 60% of people who stutter have family members with the disorder, according to the Stuttering Foundation of America. And in a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in February, government researchers uncovered the first genetic mutations that may be at the root of the problem for some. In a large family with a strong history of the disorder, mutations in one of three genes — known as NPTAB, GNPTG and NAGPA — were found in some affected participants.
Though it's progress, experts aren't sure how the three genes lead to stuttering, and the findings don't go far in explaining the disorder in the entire population.
"Mutations in these genes account for about 9%" of stuttering cases, estimates Dennis Drayna, a genetics researcher at the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, who co-authored the study. To make things more complicated, not everyone with the gene will develop a stutter, he adds.
Researchers are also looking for neurological differences in people who stutter. They've found several.
Among people who stutter, a number of brain regions responsible for movement control (including movement associated with speech) are overactive in the right hemisphere. Experts believe that this is a result
of the right hemisphere making up for a defect in the left. (In people who speak fluently, the left hemisphere is the dominant one for language.)
Parts of the left hemisphere "never fully develop" in stutterers, suggests Dr. Gerald Maguire, director of the Kirkup Center for the Medical Treatment of Stuttering at UC Irvine. "So the right hemisphere begins to compensate."
The longer a person stutters, Maguire adds, the more the right hemisphere compensates and the stronger the brain imbalance grows.
Scientists also believe that key differences between stutterers and non-stutterers lie in parts of the brain that compose what's called the basal ganglia. These structures, located toward the center of the brain, together play a complex role in the smooth timing and initiation of movements. Recent research has confirmed that the severity of stuttering correlates with the level of activity in the basal ganglia — and that this activity improves after participants undergo speech therapy.
In a 2004 literature review, Swedish researcher Per A. Alm suggested that in people who stutter, the basal ganglia are probably dysfunctional in their ability to properly start, and rhythmically time, speech. His theory that stuttering is, at least in part, a timing issue is supported by the fact that singing, speaking with a metronome or speaking in unison with other people often helps to improve the fluency of people who stutter.
Researchers are also examining whether activity of a nerve-signaling chemical called dopamine, which is responsible for regulating the basal ganglia, might be dysfunctional in people who stutter. In a 2009 study of 112 people who stutter and 112 who don't, researchers in China found that stutterers were more likely to have a mutation in several genes that regulate dopamine.
It's not nervousness
Whatever the future may reveal about the physiological underpinnings of stuttering, there is one point on which experts agree: Stuttering is not an emotional disorder.
"The most common misconception about people who stutter is that it's a sign of nervousness. That's not true — people who have anxious personalities do not have a higher degree of stuttering," says speech language pathologist Phil Schneider, who has several offices in and around New York City.
And yet those who stutter deal with this "it's just nerves" misconception on a regular basis. "If I had a dime for every time I heard, 'Slow down, relax, take a deep breath, think before you speak,'" Sullivan says, "I'd be wealthy."
Although the disorder isn't caused by anxiety, it can be exacerbated by anxiety. And for many who stutter, the very act of speaking is anxiety-inducing. "You're always on the alert for sounds or words that might strangle you," Sullivan says. People who stutter therefore often develop specific fears: it may be speaking in front of crowds, it could be talking on the telephone. When speech-language pathologists begin treatment, Schneider says, one of the initial issues they address is often emotions associated with stuttering — giving people an opportunity to talk about their feelings.
From there, therapists help clients learn physical exercises to make their speech more fluent. The most widely used methods are ones that slow the speed of speech: prolonging the first sound or syllable of a word, pausing more frequently during speech, or easing gently into a word by starting with a humming noise.
"Stuttering is speed-sensitive," Schneider says. "The faster you go, the more likely you will have interruptions."
In treating children, parents are a key component. Specialists may recommend that parents set aside a few quiet minutes every day to talk to their child, model slow speaking and talk openly about the problem.
"What we try to emphasize with children and adolescents is the notion that what the child is saying is far more important than how he or she is saying it," said Tommie Robinson, president of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Assn.
Speech therapy may last anywhere from a few sessions to a lifetime. But the exercises are often difficult, and for that reason, Schneider often suggests practicing them for no more than a few minutes each day.
"To use the brain to think about speaking [instead of] what you want to say — it's like trying to walk backwards all day long," he says.
No medication is approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat stuttering. But doctors occasionally prescribe drugs off-label that have been shown to help, including antipsychotic drugs such as risperidone and olanzapine, which affect brain levels of dopamine. And some people who stutter find relief from anti-anxiety medication.
Recently, experts had high hopes for a drug called Pagoclone, but it failed in a trial to meet the goals of its manufacturer, Endo Pharmaceuticals, and it's unclear whether further trials of the drug will take place.
As more is understood about the genetics and the brains of people who stutter, researchers hope that medication aimed directly at the disorder eventually will become available. "The basal ganglia [could be] the target of our medication," Maguire says. "If we fix the timer or initiator [of speech] then we can jump-start the whole system."
For now, Sullivan says, many who stutter find solace in meeting others who struggle with similar issues, and in knowing that there are resources available. She runs regular stuttering support groups in the San Fernando Valley area, to help others find the community she sought as a child.
"If one teenager, one kid, finds out they're not alone," she says, "I'll have come full circle."
This story contains graphic photographs
Tracy McGrady says LeBron James and Dwyane Wade lack chemistry because both command the ballFrank Isola
Monday, November 29th 2010, 4:00 AM
Fuentes/APLeBron James (c.) and Dwyane Wade (r.) are not succeeding together in Miami because they are similar players and neither is a great shooter, says Pistons forward Tracy McGrady (below).
AUBURN HILLS - Tracy McGrady believes there is a fundamental problem with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
"When they're on the court together," McGrady says, "they're terrible."
McGrady isn't saying LeBron and Wade are terrible as individual players but rather that the chemistry between the two isn't good.
"Him and D-Wade don't complement each other," McGrady said. "They're somewhat the same type of players, 'Bron and D-Wade. If you look at Ray Allen and Paul Pierce, (Allen's a) traditional shooting guard. Ray Allen, he doesn't need the ball. And Paul Pierce is a small forward. You add Kevin Garnett ...
"(LeBron and Wade), they're not like that. Both of those guys need the ball and they don't shoot the ball like Ray Allen. That's why they're having trouble scoring in the halfcourt because they can't get a rhythm, because one of them is dominating the ball. That guy might be getting off, but the other guy (isn't).
"That's why when they're on the court together, they're terrible. They're rhythm players that need the ball. I'm like that. I can't stand out there and catch and shoot. I've never been a guy that sits out there waiting for the ball to come to me."
McGrady feels that if James had made up his mind to leave Cleveland he would have been better off in Chicago with Derrick Rose as his running mate.
"It was a better decision, a better place for him," said McGrady, who scored a season-high 13 points off the bench for the Pistons Sunday but was 0-for-3 after intermission. "You can't just go somewhere and have that type of chemistry he had in Cleveland."
McGrady appeared in 24 games for the Knicks last season and apparently the decision not to return to New York was mutual. McGrady never embraced Mike D'Antoni's system while the Knicks wanted to use McGrady's expiring salary to make a run at James.
"I told you that wasn't going to happen," McGrady said of the Knicks' failure to sign LeBron. "They obviously added an All-Star in Amar'e and a guy that I think will help them. (Raymond) Felton is a great addition for the team. Seems like he's playing with a lot more confidence than he did in Charlotte. I think they're capable of making the playoffs."
NOT BETTER LATE: Several Pistons players arrived at the arena less than 90 minutes prior to the 1:30 p.m. start. And on the television screen inside the Pistons locker room? A tape of the Knicks? No, it was ESPN's NFL pregame show.
Undocumented UCLA law grad is in a legal bind
| Luis Perez, who in May became the first undocumented immigrant to graduate from UCLA School of law, came to L.A. from Mexico at the age of 8 and made getting a good education his top priority. But because he's not in the country legally, he may not be able to practice law even if he passes the bar. (Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times)
His family crossed the border illegally when he was an 8-year-old, but he has done everything right since then. Will his adopted country now do right by him?
Getty German woman fears her boyfriend may want her implants after she doesn't cough up dough.
BERLIN- A German woman who splurged on breast implants with a loan from her then boyfriend now fears her assets could be repossessed after she failed to fully reimburse him, the 20-year-old woman told Bild newspaper.
Her ex-boyfriend is demanding that she return the $5,865 he gave her to pay for her breast enlargement surgery in 2009 or he'll call the police and get the repossessors involved, Bild reported on Wednesday.
"It's true that Carsten signed a loan agreement shortly before the operation," the woman named only as Anastasia is quoted saying. "The condition was that I wouldn't have to pay him back if I stayed with him for a year."
But the pair split shortly after she underwent the plastic surgery. The woman said she had transferred nearly $4,000 into her ex-boyfriend's account last week.
Neptune pastor may take time off after Facebook decree, three-way relationship landed him in news
NANCY SHIELDS • STAFF WRITER • November 24, 2010
FACEBOOK PASTOR: In a Jan. 17, 2010 photo, Pastor Cedric Miller, delivers the sermon during a service at Living Word Christian Fellowship in Neptune, N.J. Miller said 20 couples among the 1,100 members of his Living Word Christian Fellowship Church have run into marital trouble over the last six months after a spouse connected with an ex-flame over Facebook. Because of the problems, he is ordering about 50 married church officials to delete their accounts with the social networking site or resign from their leadership positions.
(STAFF PHOTO: MARY FRANK)
The Rev. Cedric A. Miller, who has received wide publicity for both his decree that church leaders to get off Facebook save their marriages and for the details of his own past marital indiscretions, appears headed for some time off.
Miller said Wednesday afternoon an official statement from Living Word Christian Fellowship Church will be read at the 9:30 a.m. service Sunday.
The Associated Press reported earlier Wednesday that Miller would be taking time off following a church vote Tuesday night. Miller told the AP that church members gave him a vote of confidence subject to some restrictions he would not list.
Later Wednesday, Miller again declined to say what those restrictions were. He said he would be at both the Thanksgiving service today and the Sunday service.
Miller, 48, leapt into the headlines a week ago after calling the Asbury Park Press to get coverage for his plan to ask his married church leaders — perhaps a couple dozen — to set an example and remove themselves from Facebook because he believes the social networking website was causing infidelity among people coming to him for counseling.
He said the church officers would have to step down from their leadership positions if they did not give up their Facebook accounts. Miller gave up his account last week.
Soon after that story came out, it was revealed that in court proceedings in 2003, Miller admitted to a three-way sexual relationship that had been ongoing, but ended, and included a close church male assistant and Miller's wife, Kim.
Hazel Samuels, chairwoman of the church board of trustees, said Wednesday she could not did speak for the church or congregation about the Tuesday night meeting because she did not attend.
At the service Sunday, a day after his previous indiscretions were in the news, Miller appeared to have strong backing from most of the 250 to 300 people attending, with many going up to stand behind him as he spoke.
He said that day that for many members, the revelations were old news, but "for others of you, it was shocking."
He said that Tuesday night there would be a church meeting where questions would be answered. He mentioned that if people wanted to leave the congregation, the elders would help them find another church.
Miller charged the church elders to do all they could do to protect the church.
The pastor and his wife founded their independent church in their then home in Neptune in 1987. They now live in Millstone Township. The church is on Route 35 in Neptune.
In his 2003 testimony concerning charges — later dismissed — on another matter he had brought against the man in the three-way relationship, Miller painted a picture of having near total control over the church.
He said in his testimony that for accountability purposes, he had an outside pastor he did not name who would listen to church tapes and look at the church's financial records.
And Miller testified that according to the church's constitution, he could be fired for gross, moral misconduct and refusal to repent.
"And who would fire you?" an assistant prosecutor asked.
"That's a very tricky question, because the trustees would have to do it, and they're appointed by me," Miller answered.
"OK, so if someone were to recommend that you would be fired, who would that be?" he was asked.
"I never thought of that. If somebody was to recommend that I'd be fired, they probably wouldn't have a job," Miller testified.
"Could it be a situation where the board on their own might decide to take up a vote?" he was asked.
"I guess it's conceivable, but it's not very probable in an independent church," Miller answered.
Teabaggers and other Republicans now claiming Thanksgiving is a lesson in socialism
You know who else used to rewrite history to their own political advantage? The Soviets. These guys are amazing. And of course, as always, the historians say they're completely wrong. And it's not just the Teabaggers, it's Dick Armey, their patron, and Rush Limbaugh. It's modern conservatism that passing this lie. From the NYT:
In the Tea Party view of the holiday, the first settlers were actually early socialists. They realized the error of their collectivist ways and embraced capitalism, producing a bumper year, upon which they decided that it was only right to celebrate the glory of the free market and private property.
Historians quibble with this interpretation.
Bradford did get rid of the common course — but it was in 1623, after the first Thanksgiving, and not because the system wasn’t working. The Pilgrims just didn’t like it. In the accounts of colonists, Mr. Pickering said, “there was griping and groaning.”
“Bachelors didn’t want to feed the wives of married men, and women don’t want to do the laundry of the bachelors,” he said.
The real reason agriculture became more profitable over the years, Mr. Pickering said, is that the Pilgrims were getting better at farming crops like corn that had been unknown to them in England.
As for Jamestown, there was famine. But historians dispute the characterization of the colony as a collectivist society. “To call it socialism is wildly inaccurate,” said Karen Ordahl Kupperman, a historian at New York University and the author of “The Jamestown Project.” “It was a contracted company, and everybody worked for the company. I mean, is Halliburton a socialist scheme?”
Pelosi's new mission: Limit Obama deals with GOP
JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS
The Associated Press
Wednesday, November 24, 2010; 3:10 PM
WASHINGTON -- Hers was the face on the grainy negative TV ads that helped defeat scores of Democrats. His agenda, re-election chances and legacy are on the line. Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, chosen after a messy family feud among Democrats to remain as their leader in the new Congress, and President Barack Obama share a keen interest in repairing their injured party after this month's staggering losses.
But Pelosi's mandate is diverging from the president's at a critical time, with potentially damaging consequences for Obama's ability to cut deals with Republicans in the new Congress.
Their partnership is strained after an election in which Pelosi and many Democrats feel the White House failed them by muddling the party's message and being too slow to provide cover for incumbents who cast tough votes for Obama's marquee initiatives.
Pelosi will lead Democrats "in pulling on the president's shirttails to make sure that he doesn't move from center-right to far-right," said Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif., a co-chair of the liberal Progressive Caucus in the House. "We think if he'd done less compromising in the last two years, there's a good chance we'd have had a jobs bill that would have created real jobs, and then we wouldn't even be worrying about having lost elections."
Behind Democrats' decision to keep Pelosi as their leader after historic losses lies intense concern among liberals who dominate the party's ranks on Capitol Hill: They fear Obama will go too far in accommodating the GOP in the new era of divided government, and they see Pelosi as a counterweight.
She's played that role before. When Democrats panicked after losing their Senate supermajority last winter, Pelosi rebuffed feelers by then-White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and others to settle for a smaller health care bill. She derided the approach as "kiddie care" and pushed forward with the sweeping overhaul she painstakingly steered through the House by a razor-thin margin.
A more recent example is Pelosi's stated refusal to consider extending Bush-era income tax cuts for the highest brackets past their January expiration. Obama's aides recently signaled he might be open to doing so temporarily if that were the only way of preserving the tax cuts for the middle class - a bargain the president had steadfastly resisted before the election.
Such a deal wouldn't be acceptable to her or House Democrats, Pelosi told the president last week.
Pelosi "can provide that balance with the White House," said Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md. House Democrats "want to make sure that they've got somebody at the table with the president, looking him eye-to-eye and saying basically, 'You've got some people who have been very, very loyal to you - not just progressives but moderates, too - and they truly believe that that's not the right thing to do.' "
The White House says Obama and Pelosi have uniform goals and a proven track record of working together, and insists they're on the same page on important issues, particularly preserving the health care and financial regulation laws enacted this year against Republicans' promised attempts to roll them back.
"The president and Speaker Pelosi have enjoyed a remarkably productive working relationship over the last two years, and he looks forward to continuing to work with her on an agenda to strengthen the economy, create jobs and move America forward," said Josh Earnest, a White House spokesman.
The president isn't going to be in a position during the next two years to work exclusively with either Democrats or Republicans, his aides argue. His challenge will be determining - with input from Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, among others - what concessions he needs from the GOP to forge a good compromise, the aides say.
People close to Pelosi say she trusts the president - perhaps moreso than some of her allies in Congress do - to defend core Democratic principles in his dealings with the GOP.
Some Democrats argue that Pelosi's liberal streak might help the president in that context - a bad cop to Obama's good cop.
"In his negotiations with the Republicans, (Obama) needs to be able to say, 'Look, you say you're not going to compromise, but I've got Nancy Pelosi over here who is very passionate about these issues, and I have to listen to what she's saying,'" Cummings said.
It's not likely to be a tidy process.
A band of centrist Democrats who last week failed to oust Pelosi in favor of a fresh, more moderate face for the party is ready to side with Republicans on key issues next year. They say they're eager to work with Obama and the GOP on middle-of-the-road initiatives that are unlikely to be embraced by Pelosi or her liberal allies.
"I'd like to think there's an opportunity to do that," said Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, a leader of the conservative "Blue Dog" Democrats.
The coalition, comprised mostly of Southerners who were once known as "Yellow Dog" Democrats, was born after the Republican takeover of 1994, when it was said they felt "choked blue" by their colleagues on the left.
In those days, Matheson noted, they worked with then-President Bill Clinton on welfare reform and balancing the budget - things that enraged liberals and led to angry accusations that the president was betraying his own party. Welfare is "an example of being honest brokers, working together to get things done, and that's what Blue Dogs want to do."
It's not what Pelosi or many other Democrats have in mind.
Rep. Brian Higgins, D-N.Y., said Democrats learned from the last two years and their shellacking at the polls that "we need to be more aggressive with the White House. They were looking for what was acceptable and then moving toward that, instead of what was important, and moving toward that," Higgins said. "We need to be true to our principles."
Full-body scanners popping up at courthouses
P. SOLOMON BANDA
Tue Nov 23, 9:21 pm ET
CASTLE ROCK, Colo. – Taking a trip during the holidays isn't the only time that people might get a full-body scan to pass through security. People heading to court to testify, get a restraining order, pay a ticket or answer criminal charges could also face a full-body scan at courthouses.
The U.S. Marshals Service, which is in charge of protecting federal judges nationwide, is exploring their use at federal courthouses. And two state courthouses in Douglas and El Paso counties in Colorado have already deployed full-body scanners that use radio waves to detect all objects on a person, including paper.
A guard in a separate room monitors the gray images with pixelated faces and genital areas, and the images aren't stored on a computer. officials said. All visitors to the Douglas County Courthouse in Castle Rock, Colo., undergo full-body scans, while guards at the El Paso County Judicial Center in Colorado Springs use the scanners during peak hours.
Angela Hellenbrand received a quick pat down Tuesday by security guard Mike Couts at the Castle Rock courthouse about 30 miles south of Denver. A guard in another room monitoring the full-body scans alerted Couts to an object in Hellenbrand's left rear pocket. It was the paper backing of a "Junior Deputy Sheriff" sticker that one of the guards had given her two young boys.
"It's OK," Hellenbrand said. "It's how they do security here. It's my second time through."
TSA officers, who handle security at airports, have been called molesters and threatened as they try to carry out patdowns called for in security measures for people who refuse to go through full-body scanners, including some that use X-rays.
The new security techniques are meant to thwart plots by would-be terrorists to use liquid explosives and bombs hidden in shoes and inside underwear. Court observers note that the threat in a courtroom is somewhat different.
"What we are still worried about at a courthouse is angry divorce litigants with a gun," said Sam Kamin, a law professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. "Metal detectors are pretty good at that."
Still, court officials note that evolving technology in materials, including plastic guns and knives, aren't detected by the 1970s technology of metal detectors.
"Although we have no current plans for deployment, the U.S. Marshals Service believes in the technology," said Washington-based Michael Prout, assistant director for judicial security for the U.S. marshals. "We will continue to explore the use of body scanners as a security measure for the federal judiciary."
Prout declined to discuss the results of a full-body screening test, citing sensitive law enforcement and procurement information.
In a statement, the marshals said they didn't receive any complaints from people passing through the scanners during the tests. The images of the full-body scans were saved on a computer hard drive, but weren't accessible without an administrative password and weren't reviewed by the marshals, according to the agency.
However, privacy became an issue when it was learned the images were stored. The Marshals Service received a request for the information under the Freedom of Information Act, but it wasn't immediately known who made the request.
Top of the Ticket
Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm
Lowest ever: Obama job approval sinks to 39%, as even Democrats' support melts away
President Obama has passed the Big 4-0 -- going the wrong way.
Turns out voters were not simply satisfied to spank the Democrat and his party in the Nov. 2 midterm elections with historic losses in the House of Representatives.
Obama's job approval rating as calculated by the Zogby Poll has now sunk to 39%, a new low for his 22-month presidency that began with so much hope and excitement and poll numbers up around 70. As recently as Sept. 20, his job approval was 49%.
A whopping 60% now disapprove of his job, up from 51% disapproval Sept. 20.
Obama now trails in hypothetical 2012 matchups against Republicans Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and the next Bush, Jeb.
And, oh, my! Lookee here! Obama has even fallen into a statistical tie with none other than Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor.
How embarrassing that is because other polls have shown a majority of Americans believe she is unqualified for the presidency. So it appears many have now decided, on second thought after a nearly two-year test drive, Obama looks that way too.
Obama began losing the support of independents in the summer of 2009, as he responded to polls showing voter concerns focused on the economy by staging 59 town hall meetings on healthcare. Independents were a crucial part of his coalition win in 2008 but have now dwindled to 39%.
Only 6% of Republicans, not surprisingly, approve of Obama's job performance. But younger voters, also crucial in the ex-state senator's convincing defeat of John McCain, now approve by only 42%.
Nearly 7 in 10 likely voters say the country is on the wrong track, rarely a good sign for incumbents.
But, Zogby notes, perhaps most ominous for the president is that he's now losing support among his own party people. His approval plopped nearly 10% in just one week, from 78% down to 72% in Zogby's latest read.
Obama, John Zogby writes, "is failing to please more than one-fourth of his own party’s voters. This is a perilous position for the President.
"Conventional wisdom calls for him to reach for the center and assume that Democrats will stay with him in 2012. But as we saw in the mid-terms, Democrats can't win without strong turnout from the young and minorities, both of which are demographics that need more motivation than others to vote."
Former governor Romney fares the best against Obama (44-38%), then comes Gingrich (43%-39%), then another former governor, Jeb Bush (40%-38%), who says he is not running. Palin ties (40%-41%). Obama does, however, destroy developer Donald Trump (39%-29%) and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (32%-13%). (A separate Quinnipiac Poll Monday found Obama in dead heats with either Romney or former Gov. Mike Huckabee.)
Carter: Fox commentators have ‘deliberately distorted’ news
Jimmy Carter said Sunday that Fox News commentators such as Glenn Beck have “deliberately distorted” the news.
Speaking on CNN’s "Reliable Sources" Sunday, the former Democratic president took aim at the cable news channel climate, often a target for President Obama, and says he tries to avoid the cable chatter.
“The talk shows with Glenn Beck and others on Fox News, I think, have deliberately distorted the news. And it’s become highly competitive,” Carter said. “And my Republican friends say that MSNBC might be just as biased on the other side in supporting the Democratic Party, the liberal element.”
The ex-president said opinions about the two channels were “part of give and take” in politics in the United States. Carter also believes CNN has suffered from trying to remain nonpartisan in comparison to Fox and MSNBC.
“And I think CNN, more than others, has kind of tried to play the middle to their detriment as far as viewership is concerned and profits are concerned,” Carter said.
Carter spoke about his relationship with the press during his one term in the White House. He said he was treated unfairly by reporters while president, but Carter also blamed himself, saying he could have reached out more to the press.
“Yes, I think I should have had a much more assiduous desire when I got into the White House to court the friendly relationship and a compatible and mutually trustworthy relationship with the key members of the press corps,” Carter said. “There's no doubt about that.”
AP/YonhapSmoke billow from Yeonpyeong island near the border against North Korea, in South Korea.
AP/YonhapNorth Korea shot dozens of rounds of artillery onto the populated South Korean island near their disputed western border.
Tensions between North and South Korea have boiled over, with shots being fired by both sides leaving at least two marines dead and wounding more than 13 others.
The conflict came to a head on Tuesday when the North fired artillery at an island belonging to the South in the Yellow Sea, according to military officials.
At least 100 rounds fell on Yeonpyeong, which houses a military garrison and is home to some 1,600 residents, according to the Yonhap news agency. However, the Defense Ministry has not confirmed how many rounds actually struck the island.
In response to the attack, the South Korean military fired more than 80 rounds into North Korea and launched fighter jets. The exchange of artillery lasted about an hour, CNN reports.
Images of smoke spewing into the sky over the small island were broadcast on Yonhap television, and showed several houses on fire. Residents have begun to flee to the South Korean mainland some 90 miles away.
"I was at home when I was surprised by the sounds of bomb explosions," a 35-year-old resident told the Korean news agency. "As I stepped out of my home, I saw the entire village had already turned into a sea of fire."
The attack began around 2:34 p.m. local time, a military official told Yonhap. Tensions between the neighboring nations have worsened since earlier this year, when a North Korean torpedo sank a South Korean navy ship, killing 46 people. It was also revealed this weekend that the North has secretly constructed a facility that allows it to produce low-enriched uranium.
The artillery fire followed a routine military drill by the South near Yeonpyeong island, Yonhap reports. The nine-day practice occurs annually at the site and started on Monday.
"North Korea's indiscriminate artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island is a clear military provocation on the Republic of Korea," Hong Sang-pyo, senior secretary for public affairs at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae, said in a statement. "Furthermore, recklessly shelling against civilians can never be tolerated."
The United States, which has tens of thousands of troops stationed in South Korea, was also quick to blast the North Korean attack.
"The United States strongly condemns this attack and calls on North Korea to halt its belligerent action," the White House said in a statement. The U.S. "is firmly committed to the defense of our ally, the Republic of Korea, and to the maintenance of regional peace and stability."
A U.S. official, speaking on anonymity, told Reuters that U.S. forces in Korea were closely monitoring the situation. But no U.S. troops were involved in the response to the North's artillery fire, the official said.
There are around 28,000 U.S. forces stationed in South Korea.
Officials in China has asked that both sides remain calm.
"We express our concern over the situation. The situation is to be verified," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a regularly scheduled media briefing in Beijing, according to Fox News.
Technically, the two Koreas have been at war for nearly 50 years. The Korean War, which began in 1950, ended only with a truce in 1953, but it was never officially ended.
With News Wire Services
Bower/Schreiber/APSarah Palin trails President Obama by 8 points in the latest Quinnipiac poll.
but they don't want Sarah Palin either, according to a new Quinnipiac University survey.
Obama leads the former vice presidential candidate by 8 percentage points in the survey, but is in a statistical dead heat with Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee.
That news may come as a shock to Palin who told Barbara Walters in an interview set to air Dec. 9 on ABC that she believed she could beat Obama in 2012.
"I believe I could," she told Walters.
That comment was met with near-panic by both sides – Republicans who believe if she got the party's nomination she would be trampled and Democrats who fear she could win.
In an interview with Larry King that aired Thursday night, Vice President Biden dismissed the TLC reality show star’s chances of booting his boss out of the White House.
"Were I a Republican senator or a Republican political leader, I would look and say, 'Wait, she's got a good chance of getting the nomination.' But look, it's hard enough for us to figure out our side of the aisle, let alone go over and sort of handicap whether she can win or lose."
When asked if she was his preferred opponent, Biden replied, "You know, my mom used to have an expression, 'Be careful what you wish for, Joe, you may get it.' So I never underestimate anyone. But I believe President Obama would be in very good shape."
When asked a similar question on MSNBC’s "Morning Joe" on Friday, Biden laughed before carefully answering. "I don't think she could beat President Obama, but she's always underestimated," he said. "I think I shouldn't say anymore."
While the election is less than two years away, speculation that Palin is gearing up for the run has been growing more rampant by the day.
On Sunday, the Guardian, a British newspaper, reported that her aides had been looking at office space as headquarters for the Iowa caucus campaign.
But the Des Moines Register repudiated that report, saying that the aide mentioned was merely a conservative Jew who was scouting out Kosher eating places for him to eat when Palin stopped there on her book tour.
Utah man posts video of TSA searching shirtless boy
The Salt Lake Tribune
Published Nov 22, 2010 12:08AM
A cell phone video taken Friday at a Salt Lake City International Airport security checkpoint is fanning controversy over Transportation Security Administration search methods.
The video, posted on YouTube by Utah Valley University student Luke Tait, shows a young boy being patted down while he is wearing no shirt. The filmer, Luke Tait, wrote that "the boy was shy so the TSA couldn’t complete" the search.
The child was physically resisting agents, Tait said.
"Twice before the video starts, his dad had to hold him and pulled his arms up in a V-shape to allow the TSA agent to continue," he told The Salt Lake Tribune.
The father pulled the boy’s shirt off "in frustration," prompting an agent to shout, "Sir, sir!" Tait said.
In a statement posted late Sunday to the TSA’s blog, a spokesperson wrote that the father removed the boy’s shirt "in an effort to expedite the screening."
"No complaints were filed and the father was standing by his son for the entire procedure," the blog states.
Tait said he walked toward the father and son to talk with them after agents sent them into the terminal, but a man in a dark suit pulled him aside. The man had just been speaking with TSA agents, Tait said, but he did not show a badge or identify himself.
"He started to question me: ‘Why was I recording the procedures of TSA?’ ‘What are your plans with this video?’ " Tait said. "I said it looked like something was going on; I never [before] saw a shirtless young boy getting patted down."
The man then told Tait to delete the video in front of him, arguing the video invaded the family’s privacy.
"I said, ‘I’m not going to do that,’ ... and left for my gate."
As for the removed shirt, the TSA statement stressed that passengers were not asked to disrobe.
"You should not remove clothing (other than shoes, coats and jackets) at a TSA checkpoint," the blog states. "If you’re asked to remove your clothing, you should ask for a supervisor or manager."
Tait’s video, which had been viewed nearly 190,000 times on YouTube as of Sunday night, was posted on the heels of debate over whether pat-downs and full-body scans are invasive security measures.
TSA head John Pistole last week defended the pat-downs against criticism that travelers should not have to submit to full-body scans or submit to a pat-down, including over-the-clothing contact with the subjects’ genital areas.
"Clearly it’s invasive, it’s not comfortable," Pistole said of the scans and pat-downs during an interview on CNN’s "State of the Union." But, he added, "if we are to detect terrorists, who have again proven innovative and creative in their design and implementation of bombs that are going to blow up airplanes and kill people, then we have to do something that prevents that."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
LINK TO VIDEO
MSNBC; Smialowski/GettyKeith Olbermann hit back at Newt Gingrich's claim he hosted a biased political debate.
Newt Gingrich and Keith Olbermann are at it again.
The two haven't gotten along since Olbermann slammed Gingrich for his remarks on the First Amendment in 2006, and have continued to spar over issues including welfare and other policies.
Now four years later, the former House Speaker told C-Span this morning that if Presidential debate organizers wanted him to participate in their forums, they would have to agree to some of his demands – most importantly, no Keith Olbermann or Chris Matthews as the moderators.
NBC, which employs both Olbermann and Matthews, is co-hosting the first Republican presidential debate in the spring of 2011 with Politico.
"I would not participate if it was a hostile reporter asking 'gotcha' questions with a certain time limit," he said on C-Span’s Washington Journal. "There's no possibility that I would ever go to a debate and have (MSNBC's Keith) Olbermann or (MSNBC's) Chris Matthews asking questions."
But Gingrich prompted a re-upping of the historical feud when he mistakenly said he thought Olbermann and Matthews had co-hosted a debate a few years ago.
"I watched the debate a couple of years ago and it was an embarrassment because they were so relentlessly hostile and they were so left-wing that every question they asked of the Republicans was designed to embarrass and divide the Republicans," Gingrich said on the show. "And every question they asked the Democrats was designed to make them look good. Well, why would we participate in that?"
Upon hearing the comments, Olbermann immediately took to Twitter to ridicule Gingrich.
"Just read Gingrich ripping me for my questions last time I moderated a GOP debate," the MSNBC host tweeted. "But I've NEVER moderated a GOP debate!"
He punctuated his post by adding the Twitter hashtag #delusional, a winking gesture to make fun of his opponent. "On C-Span, Newt appears to think Chris Matthews and I co-moderated a GOP debate AND a Democratic debate. We did neither," he later tweeted, also adding the Twitter hashtag #NewtsNuts.
His supporters flooded Twitter to help mock Gingrich’s comments, adding their own tongue-in-cheek insults which Olbermann re-posted.
"You were terrible that time you hosted the Oscars too!" one supporter tweeted.
"Yeah, Olbermann, you messed up the Lincoln-Douglas debate too," another wrote.
Olbermann supporters continued to pile on the exaggerated insults, joking that he did a terrible job as the Vikings quarterback today, failed as the 2008 GOP presidential nominee, was the cause of rain at Woodstock, broke up the Beatles, and more.
Olbermann, clearly having gotten his point across, did take responsibility for one thing.
"On the other hand," he admitted, "that WAS me in those Boston Market commercials."
As of Sunday night, Gingrich had not responded – at least not coherently. At approximately 6:30 he tweeted, "Uyyy."
Miller for NewsSecretary of State Hillary Clinton said on 'Face the Nation' that she's dodge the TSA's pat-down search if she were able to, but the invasive security measure is important for safety.
Walker/APA Transportation Security Administration agent performs an enhanced pat-down on a traveler at a security area at Denver International Airport.
WASHINGTON - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton put down TSA pat-downs on Sunday, calling it an "offensive" security measure she wouldn't want to experience herself.
"Everybody is trying to do the right thing," Clinton said on CBS' "Face The Nation." "I understand how difficult it is, and how offensive it must be for the people who are going through it."
Asked if she would be willing to submit to an airport frisk, Clinton laughed and admitted, "Not if I could avoid it. No, I mean who would?"
Clinton has likely rarely, if ever, dealt with metal detectors, explosives swabs, full-body backscatter scanners or pat-downs as an air traveler since she began receiving Secret Service protection with her husband, former President Bill Clinton, in 1992.
In Lisbon, President Obama said he understands frustrations and the Transportation Security Administration has "to think through, are there ways of doing it that are less intrusive?"
TSA Director John Pistole agreed on CNN's "State of the Union," that "to some people, it is demeaning" -- but his security screeners will continue doing patdowns.
"Not going to change," Pistole said.
Pistole said the measure was a response to Al Qaeda in Yemen airbomber Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried to destroy a Detroit-bound jetliner with a bomb in his underwear last Christmas. But the pat-downs policy didn't begin for 10 months because Homeland Security officials were awaiting Pistole's June Senate confirmation as director, an insider told the Daily News.
"I am absolutely confident that our security experts are gonna' keep tryin' to get it better and less intrusive and more precise," Clinton said.
Pope says condom use is acceptable in 'single justified cases'
Taking the Roman Catholic world by surprise, Benedict says that under some circumstances it might be acceptable for a prostitute to use a condom.
The pope leads a consistory in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. On the same day, excerpts from a book were published in which Benedict said "there can be single justified cases" in which condom use might be acceptable. (Alberto Pizzoli, AFP/Getty Images / November 20, 2010)
Pastor who banned Facebook had three-way sex affair
Rev. Cedric Miller told church's leadership social media site is portal to infidelity
Nancy Shields • STAFF WRITER • November 20, 2010
In this Jan. 2010 file photo, the Rev. Cedric Miller preaches at his Neptune church. Miller, the pastor who gained national attention this week when he banned his church's leadership from using Facebook because he said it is a portal to infidelity, had himself engaged in a three-way sex affair with his wife and a man a decade ago, according to testimony he gave in a criminal case. (PHOTO: ASBURY PARK PRESS
The Rev. Cedric Miller didn't need Facebook to be part of an extramarital affair.
Miller, 48, who gained national attention this week when the pastor banned his church's leaders from using Facebook because he said it is a portal to infidelity, had himself engaged in a three-way relationship with his wife and a man a decade ago, according to testimony he gave in a criminal case.
Miller, pastor of the 1,100-member Living Word Christian Fellowship Church on Route 35, admitted in his testimony to a sexual relationship that included his wife and a church assistant. Sometimes the assistant's wife was present, he testified.
The testimony was given in connection with a criminal case against the assistant that was eventually dismissed.
"It has come to my attention that a very painful part of my past has resurfaced,'' Miller said in an e-mail response Friday, stating that the same testimony was mailed to his church leaders and other pastors a number of years ago.
"This was resolved at that time and accordingly we will not allow it to detract from our mission at hand to save as many marriages as we can,'' Miller wrote.
In his testimony on April 15, 2003, Miller said his wife had an extramarital affair with a church assistant and that he (Miller) said he was present at many of their meetings. And sometimes the assistant's wife was present, Miller said.
"We would talk and laugh and play and just beyond what was appropriate,'' he testified.
Pressed by a defense lawyer to give more detail about what Miller meant by saying "we had crossed the line many times,'' the pastor said: "I mean between the four of us. It was just, I mean there was touching, there was … it was crazy, it was as wrong as wrong could get. Yes.''
"Okay, it was sex, correct?'' the lawyer asked.
"Yes,'' Miller said.
"And you knew about it.''
"And you watched it.''
"Yes,'' Miller said.
"And you knew your wife was engaging in this freely and voluntarily. Correct?''
"And it happened many, many times?''
On Tuesday, Miller said he would order his church leaders to give up Facebook in his Sunday sermon, claiming old boyfriends and girlfriends surfacing on the social network website were causing marriages to break down.
Miller said most of his marriage counseling stems from breakdowns, including infidelities, when couples link up on Facebook with former friends or lovers.
He said Tuesday there was a reason why "your past is the past and hopefully you have grown in the Lord, matured to not link up with a past that for many people is a Christless past.''
In his 2003 testimony, Miller said the encounters sometimes took place on Monday nights, during Thursday Bible study and Sunday after church. At another point in the testimony he said the sexual encounters between himself, his wife and the aide took place in his house.
He testified that the encounters "came to a crashing halt'' when several women in the church accused the assistant of sleeping with them.
"My wife found out about it and she just wanted nothing to do with what was going on with us,'' Miller testified. "And I didn't know what it was for awhile. And it wasn't till, as the other women came out publicly, that's when I found out about it. So, at first I didn't know why she just didn't want any part of it.''
In his e-mail on Friday, Miller said: "There are some very innocent people who could be hurt irreparably by the revisiting of this incident.
"I also stole a honey bun from a store when I was 7 or 8 which I was also reminded of,'' he said. "As with the Facebook issue, context is always important. I will be providing that context this Sunday morning. In the same vein, had I known the proceedings of that case would be public information, I would have provided the appropriate context at that time.
"In conclusion, my life as a minister, husband, father and friend has led me to the conviction that I must do all that I can to help as many people strengthen, preserve and repair the often times fragile cords of marriage,'' Miller wrote Friday.
The pastor said earlier this week he also planned to leave Facebook when he forced his leaders to choose between Facebook or their jobs. He said his wife had his password for his Facebook account, as did one of the church elders.
Actor Wesley Snipes headed to prison for tax evasion
Jim Spellman/WireImage.comUs Magazine
Reuters - November 19, 2010 9:40 PM PST
Snipes was ordered on Friday to start serving a three-year prison sentence for failing to file income tax returns by a federal judge who rejected the Hollywood star's bid for a new trial.
"The defendant Snipes had a fair trial ... The time has come for the judgment to be enforced," U.S. District Judge Terrell Hodges said in his ruling.
Revoking bail for the 48-year-old star of the "Blade" trilogy, the judge ordered him to report to prison as directed by the U.S. Marshals Service or Bureau of Prisons.
It was not clear when or where Snipes would begin serving his time behind bars, however. His lawyer, Daniel Meachum, has said he would appeal if a new trial was denied.
Meachum told the Orlando Sentinel the ruling was shocking.
"Wesley is very disappointed but staying strong and positive," the newspaper quoted Meachum as saying.
Snipes had already lost his appeal of the prison sentence stemming from his 2008 conviction in Hodges' Ocala, Florida, court on three counts of "willful failure to file tax returns" for 1999 through 2001.
Snipes was found not guilty of five other counts in the high-profile felony tax case.
In seeking a new trial, Meachum had argued that jurors in the original trial were biased and that the prosecution's star witness had his own criminal problems.
At his sentencing, prosecutors said Snipes, a resident of Windermere, Florida, had earned more than $38 million since 1999 but had filed no tax returns or paid any taxes through October 2006.
Although he is best known for his roles in action films, Snipes has also had critical success in comedies like "White Men Can't Jump" in 1992. He played the lead in director Spike Lee's interracial drama "Jungle Fever" in 1991 and also played the jazz saxophonist in Lee's "Mo' Better Blues" in 1990.
Eric Thompson, a supervisor in the U.S. Marshals Service office in Orlando, Florida, said the Bureau of Prisons would notify Snipes and his lawyer of a surrender date.
"He'll probably get it by certified mail," Thompson said.
He declined to say what prison was likely to be selected for Snipes except to say that it would not be in Florida.
A listing for Snipes already posted on the Federal Bureau of Prisons website says his prisoner ID or registration number as 43355-018, his location is "in transit" and his release date is "unknown."
(Reporting by Tom Brown, additional reporting by Pascal Fletcher; Editing by Doina Chiacu)
Biden wouldn't 'underestimate' Palin in 2012 bid
The vice president doesn't think she could defeat Obama, but says it would be 'a really, a really interesting race,' adding that Republicans should recognize she has a good chance to win the nomination.
Michael A. Memoli
Tribune Washington Bureau
November 20, 2010
Waters accuses ethics panel of having weak case after calling off her trial
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) accused the ethics committee of having a weak case that is unraveling after the panel abruptly cancelled her public trial.
“The committee’s decision to cancel the hearing and put it off indefinitely demonstrates that the committee does not have a strong case and would not be able to prove any violation has occurred,” she said in a lengthy statement Friday reacting to the announcement.She also said she was disappointed the committee once again postponed the hearing and said it showed “a complete disregard for due process and fairness.”
“For over a year, I have cooperated with the investigation and I have consistently asked for a public hearing on this matter,” she said. “I remain eager to present my case and demonstrate to my constituents and all Americans that I have not violated any House rules.”
The House ethics committee announced Friday it has delayed indefinitely Waters trial because the panel had discovered new evidence in the case.
It is unclear from the committee's statement whether the trial will move forward and what evidence was discovered.
According to a joint statement from Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), who chairs the ethics committee, and ranking member Jo Bonner (R-Ala.), the case is being referred back to the subcommittee investigating the matter. Waters's trial was set to begin on Nov. 29.
"The committee voted to recommit the matter regarding Representative Maxine Waters to the investigative subcommittee due to materials discovered that may have had an effect on the investigative subcommittee's transmittal to the committee," they wrote. "As a result, the adjudicatory subcommittee no longer has jurisdiction over this matter and the adjudicatory hearing previously scheduled for November 29, 2010 will not be held."
Waters, a member of the Financial Services Committee, is accused of using her position to arrange a meeting between Treasury Department officials and the National Bankers Association regarding OneUnited Bank. At the time, Waters's husband was a significant shareholder in the bank and had formerly served on its board of directors.
The California congresswoman has strongly denied the ethics charges against her and has repeatedly argued that she was acting on behalf of all small and minority owned banks, not just OneUnited, as she has done for other minority-owned businesses throughout her career.
Waters’s preparations for the public trial stand in stark contrast to Rep. Charles Rangel’s (D-N.Y.) experience this week. Unlike Rangel, who faced a jury of his peers without legal representation, Waters planned to have an experienced legal team by her side and was prepared to mount a vigorous, detailed defense.
Her chief of staff, Mikael Moore, attended the Rangel trial and took voluminous notes during the proceedings. Moore figures prominently in the investigation; the ethics committee has scrutinized his e-mail contacts with the Federal Reserve, as well as One United executives. But Moore, Water’s grandson, also has spent months preparing a legal defense and assisting her attorneys, well-known ethics expert Stanley Brand and his associate Andrew Herman, in preparing the case.
Waters had planned to rely mainly on Brand and Herman to present her defense before the ethics adjudicatory committee, but she and Moore were also planning to serve as witnesses and make their case directly to the panel.
Rangel this week complained about not having a chance to set up a legal defense funds so he could afford to hire a new attorney when he and his legal team parted ways in October after he paid them more than $2 million over the course of two years. In contrast, Waters opened a legal defense fund in September and held a fundraiser in October that raised nearly $100,000, according to a knowledgeable source.
Waters had planned on the entire legal defense costing $300,000, a small fraction of Rangel’s legal bill. Rangel’s case was far longer, involving 13 counts of House ethics violations, compared to the three charges Waters faces. Yet, Waters also chose a more pared down legal team consisting of two attorneys who focus primarily on Congressional ethics, instead of a legal team from a pricey firm specializing in white-collar crime.
The decision is a setback for the ethics committee, which had hoped to conclude the Waters trial during the lame-duck session of Congress. The announcement comes one day after the committee recommended the House censure Rangel for committing 11 violations of House ethics rules.
In her statement Friday, Waters said the new material in question was a document the committee has had since Oct. 29, and argued that it didn’t provide any new “significant” information. Without spelling out exactly what the document is, Waters said it shows only that she was working to ensure that the bill that awarded the money to OneUnited was drafted to assist small and minority institutions generally.
“The document does not reflect any action on behalf of any specific company,” she said. “Although the Committee continues to insist that the ‘small bank language’ was drafted to benefit only one institution, the facts do not support that assertion; in fact, the documentary record directly contradicts it.”
Waters also said she is puzzled by the committee’s delay.
“If this evidence is so <snip>ing, the Committee should present its case before the public, as we asked them to do when I first learned of their desire to postpone the hearing,” she said. “Apparently the Committee now recognizes, as I have maintained, that there was no benefit, no improper action, no failure to disclose, no one influenced, and there is no case.”
Late in August, Waters demanded that the ethics committee stop gathering new evidence against her. The ethics committee's announcement Friday may have to do with additional evidence discovered during this process — either evidence that would have helped exonerate her or material that complicates the case because it was discovered after formal charges were made against her.
Waters's attorneys sent a letter to the ethics committee taking issue with the panel's ongoing investigative activities after the formal probe was over and Waters was charged with violating House rules.
“Such inquiry violates both the Committee’s rules and comparable federal criminal procedure and raises significant questions about the sufficiency of the evidence that the Investigative Subcommittee replied [sic] upon when it issued the charges contained in the SAV [statement of alleged violation],” wrote Brand and Herman. “Most alarmingly, it calls into question the impartiality and good faith of the Investigative Subcommittee.”
The lawyers cited an ethics committee document request to Waters’s office that aides received Aug. 17 and ongoing contacts and interviews with witnesses. The information requested, they argue, relates solely to matters addressed in the statement of alleged violation.
In addition, a top ethics committee aide threatened Waters with a subpoena if she did not voluntarily provide the documents in question, according to Brand and Herman.
In her statement Friday, Waters accused the committee of breaking its own rules that prohibit any amendments to the statement of alleged violation, a charging document akin to an indictment, after it is transmitted to the adjudicatory committee.
“There is no provision or authority for the committee to take this action, but the same body which is charged with interpreting the rules now seems to be guilty of making them up as it goes along,” she said. “Neither the letter sent to me nor the statement on the committee website cites any rule or clear rationale for this decision.”
—This story was updated at 5:40 p.m.
Jordan Fabian contributed to this reportSource:
Apple Valley couple put abortion to an online vote
November 18, 2010 - 11:16 PM
A suburban Twin Cities couple touched off an Internet frenzy Thursday with their "birth or not" website -- an online poll on asking whether the woman, who is 17 weeks pregnant, should have an abortion.
"We wanted to give people a chance to voice their opinions in a real situation where it makes a difference," said Alisha Arnold, 30, of Apple Valley.
She and her husband, Peter Arnold, began the online vote because she was still healing emotionally from the most recent of three miscarriages, she said. They weren't sure whether she was ready for a baby.
"I wanted to wait longer because I was losing weight and living a healthier lifestyle," she said. "I wasn't sure what to do."
The solution: a poll. "We are using it to help determine our decision, but we will still make the final decision," she said.
News of the couple's Web poll spread to news websites and blogs. Bloggers debated whether it was a hoax, an effort to influence the nation's debate on abortion or simply a bizarre use of the Internet to publicize a normally deeply private matter.
Arnold said she and her husband, who was away on business Thursday, are both computer software trainers. She said they had been contacted by news outlets from Seattle, Canada and locally. They've also received some hateful e-mails, like "we were idiots and don't deserve to be parents and were irresponsible," Arnold said.
The public can weigh in until Dec. 7, the site says.
On Thursday, the vote was 23,840 to 5,978 for birth.
Staff writer Josephine Marcotty contributed to this report.
Link to photo
Stick-up suspect flees scene on mower
An Aiken man is in custody after a morning incident in which a clerk was beaten with a stick and the suspect tried to flee the scene on a riding lawn mower.
Ricky New is charged with assault and battery, first degree, and armed robbery.
Capt. Troy Elwell of the Aiken County Sheriff's office said the suspect entered the Kent's Corner convenience store this morning at 1925 Edgefield Highway.
"The suspect entered the store armed with a stick and demanded money from the clerk before assaulting her. He received an undisclosed amount of money and fled the scene on his getaway vehicle, a Craftsman riding lawn mower," Elwell said.
Deputies located and detained the suspect a short distance away. The condition of the clerk was not released.
He is currently being held at the Aiken County Detention Center.
Nancy Shields • STAFF WRITER • November 17, 2010
FRANK/AP Rev. Cedric Miller, at Living Word Christian Fellowship in New Jersey, ordered his church leadership to delete their Facebook accounts because too many couples had strayed from their marriages.
NEPTUNE — Rev. Cedric A. Miller has had it with what he says Facebook is doing to couples coming to him for help and is giving his married church leaders until Sunday to get off the social-network website or resign their posts.
Miller, senior pastor at Living Word Christian Fellowship Church, the popular interdenominational and evangelical church on Route 35, said a large percentage of his counseling over the past year and a half has been for marital problems, including infidelity, stemming from Facebook.
Miller said there was no problem when people just met with friends from high school in a platonic way.
But that has changed, he said, and now people are reigniting old passions and connecting with people who should stay in the past. He said a marriage can be going along fine when someone from the past breaks through and trouble begins.
"It's to the point now that this Sunday, anyone in our church in a leadership position and who is married and is on Facebook has to resign their church position if they do not give up Facebook," Miller, 48, said Tuesday.
He plans to speak on the subject at the 9:30 a.m. Sunday service, getting up to preach about 10:15 a.m.
"I spoke on it a few weeks back, and just admonished people that there's a reason why your past is the past and hopefully you have grown in the Lord, matured to not link up with a past that for many people is a Christless past," Miller said.
"Married couples are going on Facebook and what happens can end up in my office," the pastor said. "I know from where we stand in the Christian perspective, the connection is inappropriate."
Miller gave examples of church officers as the associate pastors, deacons, ministers, and auxiliary leaders. "I do have authority over the leaders — not the congregation at large," he said.
"The average citizen is going to see my action as controlling, not that I care about that," Miller said. "I'm not concerned with being politically correct. I'm trying to save families and marriages."
'He has been heartbroken over this situation" said Hazel Samuels of Asbury Park, who chairs the church's board of trustees. Samuels is single and not on Facebook. "It's a misuse of Facebook. People just don't use it properly."
Miller said has a Facebook account and that his wife has his password as well as one of the church elders. He has six children and uses Facebook to follow what they're doing, he said.
But he will drop off Facebook by Sunday as well.
Miller said that often the people he counsels go to another church but want to keep their marriage problems as private as possible, so they come to him. Often, it requires months of counseling to keep a couple together, he said.
Facebook, founded in 2004, has more than 500 million users worldwide.
"I wouldn't say Facebook is the problem," said William Rosenblatt, an Ocean Township psychologist and therapist. "What I would say is we live in a rapidly changing world, and we are facing stresses and opportunities that we've never had to face before.
"Facebook doesn't create dissatisfied marriages," Rosenblatt continued. "People who are dissatisfied now have better means of creating support systems and networks that are much more vast, and it's much easier to connect with people that way.
"I would see the pastor's decree as sort of another example of how, when we as a group are faced with dramatic change, there are three paths people take," Rosenblatt said.
"One path is we need to go back to the way things were, the conservative path," he said. "Another group are those who just want to rush ahead and change everything. Then a third group says, let's not paint this black and white. Let's be mindful and thoughtful how we do this."
Miller and his wife, Kim, also a pastor, started Living Word in their home in 1987. It has grown to about 1,100 people on the rolls and 500 to 600 attending Sunday services, Samuels said.
Miller has played a significant community role as a pastor and is a leader in the ongoing Asbury Park-Neptune relief efforts for Haiti.
"I've had people come to me in trouble because of the computer in general — a lot of computer widows — but not Facebook," said the Rev. Porter Brown, overseer at Faith Baptist Tabernacle in Asbury Park.
Brown said he's contemplating setting up a Facebook site to increase the church's communication with his congregation and community. At the moment, he said he sendse-mails to young people to let them know about the upcoming Sunday sermon so they can send him questions ahead of time.
"We continue to share with our folks that the Internet can be a good thing to use, but it has its own kind of dangers. Any access to people unfiltered may not be good."
The number of people subscribing to US cable television services has suffered its biggest decline in 30 years as younger, tech-savvy viewers lead an exodus to web-based operations, such as Hulu and Netflix.
The total number of subscribers to TV services provided by cable, satellite and telco operators fell by 119,000 in the third quarter, compared with a gain of 346,000 in the third quarter of 2009, according to SNL Kagan, a research company.
Sony’s PlayStation 3 can now access Hulu services
Although television services offered by telecoms and satellite providers added subscribers over the period, cable operators were hard hit, with subscriber numbers falling by 741,000 – the largest decline in 30 years.
The figures suggest that “cord-cutting” – one of the pay-television industry’s biggest fears – is becoming a reality as viewers drift to web-based platforms.
Online TV services are stepping up their efforts to reach new viewers and become profitable: Hulu, which is owned by News Corp, Walt Disney and NBC Universal, has slashed the cost of its online subscription service by 20 per cent to $7.99 per month and offers a vast array of film and TV programming.
Jason Kilar, Hulu’s chief executive, has maintained that Hulu, which is exploring an initial public offering, complements pay-television services.
Yet the data suggest that the growth of Hulu and Netflix, the DVD subscription company which began testing a $7.99 per month streaming-only service last month, has become problematic for cable operators.
Ian Olgeirson, senior analyst at SNL Kagan, said it was becoming “increasingly difficult” to dismiss the impact of web-based services on the pay-TV industry, “particularly after seeing declines during the period of the year that tends to produce the largest subscriber gains due to seasonal shifts back to television viewing and subscription packages”.
Hulu’s revenues are increasing sharply: the company is projected to generate more than $240m in 2010, up from $108m in 2009. It has extended the number of devices that can access its subscription service to include Sony’s PlayStation 3 console and will add internet-connected devices, including Vizio, LG Electronics and Panasonic Blu-ray players, in the next few months.
Devices such as Apple’s iPad also appear to be accelerating the move away from traditional multichannel television.
Research from The Diffusion Group, a technology research company, found that more than a third of iPad users were likely to cancel their pay-TV subscriptions in the next six months.
The cable industry has launched a vigorous defence against cord-cutting: companies such as Comcast, which has agreed to buy NBC Universal, are backing “TV Everywhere”, which gives subscribers access to channels and programming online, and via their cable box.
An uproar over Palin — Bristol, that is
The 'Dancing with the Stars' contestant is voted by viewers into the finals. Critics charge that 'tea party' activists did some scheming at the ballot box in favor of Sarah Palin's daughter.
Marie Elena Fernandez
Los Angeles Times
November 18, 2010
| Bristol Palin, left, and her partner Mark Ballas perform during "Dancing with the Stars." (Adam Larkey / ABC)
When TV viewers voted Bristol Palin into the finals of ABC's "Dancing with the Stars," one of prime time's most popular shows, her opponent Brandy cried, a Wisconsin man shot his television in disgust, and the blogosphere lighted up like a Christmas tree on fire.
It was the seventh consecutive time this season that the 20-year-old newcomer to dance performance had beaten out an opponent despite having lower scores from the judges on TV's second most-watched program, which draws an average audience of more than 20 million. The reason for her surprising success, charged fuming critics and some viewers across the Internet, was that "tea party" activists had spearheaded a campaign that essentially stuffed the show's ballot box in favor of Sarah Palin's daughter.
This latest reality show tempest highlights the power of popularity over talent when mostly unregulated public voting is involved and, perhaps more dramatically, the polarizing effect of the Palin family name, which received prominent attention earlier this month in one of the most heated elections in recent memory.
Dems vent to leaders as losses set in
House Democrats held a marathon venting session Tuesday as they tried to come to grips with a devastating midterm election that swept their caucus out of power.
The gathering was the first for the entire caucus since the election, and lawmakers described a solemn mood under which defeated members stood up, one by one, and delivered farewell speeches to their colleagues.
The meeting, which began at noon, stretched on for hours after the caucus passed a resolution allowing first defeated members and then returning lawmakers to address their colleagues for five minutes apiece. Staffers were kicked out of the meeting.
While many Democrats offered kind words, thanks and support for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), defeated Reps. Allen Boyd (D-Fla.), Travis Childers (D-Miss.) and Bill Foster (Ill.) called for new leadership, lawmakers said.
Boyd told The Hill that leaving Pelosi as the public face of the caucus would undermine candidate recruitment efforts in 2012.
“I don’t know how you recruit for some of these seats,” said Boyd. “How are you going to recruit somebody to run — a moderate, Blue Dog Democrat — to run down there? Can’t do it.”
Democrats are girding for an internal showdown on Wednesday as they meet for caucus elections over the objections of a growing number of lawmakers who want them postponed. Pelosi surprised many Democrats two weeks ago when she announced she would seek to stay on as the caucus leader.
Two Democrats, Reps. Peter DeFazio (Ore.) and Marcy Kaptur (Ohio), plan to call for a secret-ballot vote on their proposal to push the leadership elections into December, a scenario that would give opponents of Pelosi more time to rally support for ousting her from the party leadership.
Lawmakers described a tense meeting where members offered candid views of why they believed their party had lost at least 60 seats and their majority just two years after a historic presidential election where everything seemed to be going in the Democratic Party’s direction.
“People are being very forthright about what went right and what went wrong, how they feel about their colleagues,” Rep. David Wu (D-Ore.) said.
Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.) called the outpouring “cathartic.”
The caucus gathering was one of several meetings planned for this week where House Democrats are airing their frustrations with the party message, strategy and leadership. Pelosi is trying to hold onto power despite the Democratic defeat, arguing that the election results were a reflection of an ailing economy and not her own low standing with the public.
While the liberal Speaker retains broad support within a smaller and more left-leaning caucus, a smattering of lawmakers from both sides of the ideological spectrum have said she should step aside. The conservative dissidents are now led by Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.), who confirmed on Tuesday that he would challenge her for minority leader.
Shuler reiterated that he did not have the votes to win the race, but he said his leadership bid was not a protest campaign. “It’s not sending a message, it’s standing up for what you truly believe in,” Shuler said. “This is about we have a leadership that lost the most significant votes in almost a century. That’s what it’s really about, is getting that changed.
“In the NFL,” the former Washington Redskins quarterback added, “if you lost significantly, you were replaced.”
Shuler, who was first elected in 2006, said he was not actively collecting votes and did not know how much support he had. While only a handful of Pelosi foes have told The Hill they would back Shuler, one Blue Dog Democrat said Shuler could expect a minimum of 30 votes in the caucus election. Nearly 100 would be needed to win.
As Shuler launched his own quixotic campaign, DeFazio and Kaptur stepped up their push to delay Wednesday’s leadership elections until after the Thanksgiving recess.
DeFazio said Wednesday that 19 Democrats had signed on to a letter asking for a postponement and that he would ask for a vote at the outset of Wednesday’s leadership election meeting.
That effort could gain support from members of the Congressional Black Caucus, who had lingering questions over a deal brokered by Pelosi to create a new elected leadership position for Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), who accepted the post to avoid forcing the caucus to vote between him and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) for minority whip.
The CBC was scheduled to meet with Pelosi late Tuesday.
Still, other Democrats said the caucus should go ahead with the leadership elections before the Thanksgiving recess. “Just go do it,” Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said.
Rep. Robert Andrews (D-N.J.) said a large majority of Democrats still think Pelosi is best suited for the job.
“Most members, by far, suggested she should run,” Andrews told reporters. “I think she’ll be successful [Wednesday]. There’s a broad consensus ... that she will bring us back.”
Asked if Pelosi’s unpopularity in certain parts of the country could harm the party in 2012, Andrews dismissed the criticisms as an inevitable consequence of Pelosi’s effectiveness as a Speaker.
“Of course she’s going to be vilified,” he said, “because she got things done.”
Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.) said much of the discussion focused on how, looking forward, Democrats could sell their brand of legislating to voters who soundly rejected it in 2010.
“The talk in there is how to sell our message,” Ackerman said as the meeting neared its sixth hour. “We didn’t market it. People had no clue.”
The legislation passed by Democrats was “great,” Ackerman said, but the party simply “didn’t take credit” for it.
“It was easy to pin the tail on Nancy,” he said.
Sean J. Miller and Mike Lillis contributed to this article.
Impeach Obama? What about Bush?
5:07 PM EST
November 11, 2010
Peggy Alley says President Obama should be impeached (Nov. 8, Article found under this one). I remind Ms. Alley however, that all the conditions she mentions, including enforcement of immigration laws, existed, and in most cases were created, during the Bush administration. American citizens were losing jobs, having their homes foreclosed on and having to choose between food and prescriptions. Illegal immigrants were coming into the country in record numbers and sending their children to public schools. In addition the Bush administration embroiled us in two wars and lied about the reasons for one of them, resulting in the deaths of thousands of young Americans. We rewarded President Bush with a second term.
If we didn't impeach President Bush or even possibly charge him with war crimes, it is ludicrous to suggest impeaching a president who has spent two years trying to fix these problems with progressive reforms while being impeded on all sides by Republicans whose only interest is in the failure of this president.
The Baltimore Sun
Obama should be impeached
2:56 PM EST
November 8, 2010
In response to the op-ed "Should Obama walk away?" (Nov. 8), I say President Obama should be impeached for refusing to enforce our federal immigration laws. At a time when American citizens are losing jobs, having their homes foreclosed on and having to make decisions between food and prescriptions, the president is allowing millions of illegal immigrants to sneak into our country, take resources and benefits that belong to citizens and send their children to our already overburdened public school systems. Enough is enough!
The Baltimore Sun
JOHN BRESNAHAN | 11/16/10 11:57 AM EST Updated: 11/16/10 12:11 PM EST
Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) has been found guilty on 11 ethics charges, ending a two-year investigation into his personal finances.
A special eight-member panel of the House ethics committee, after deliberating for roughly six hours, found that there was "clear and convincing evidence" that Rangel had violated House ethics on 11 of the 13 charges he faced heading into a rare public ethics trial.
Rangel, 80, walked out of his ethics trial on Monday, complaining that he had not been given enough time to find new legal counsel after parting ways with his previous law firm last month. The full ethics committee will now consider punishment for Rangel, and possibly refer the case to the House floor with a recommendation for a sanction against the lawmaker. Rangel is likely to face either a reprimand or a censure from his House colleagues.
The sweeping verdict on Tuesday morning offered a powerful conclusion to a two-year ethics investigation that has tarnished the political legacy of Rangel, a Harlem giant who was stripped of his Ways and Means chairmanship while he was under investigation. He came to the ethics trial as a diminished political figure, complaining that he did not have enough money for a lawyer.
He offered a brief but spirited defense on Monday, then walked out after just 30 minutes, leaving the special adjudicatory panel to try him in abstentia. The bipartisan panel quickly heard the evidence and agreed in less than 24 hours that Rangel had violated a wide range of ethics rules.
Rangel was facing a 13-count “Statement of Alleged Violation” that included allegations that he improperly solicited millions of dollars from corporate officials and lobbyists for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at The City College of New York, failed to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars of income and assets on financial disclosure forms, illegally maintained multiple rent-stabilized apartments in a luxury Harlem apartment building and failed to pay income taxes on a villa in the Dominican Republic.
Sir, There's a Camera in Your Head
The Wall Street Journal
NOVEMBER 16, 2010
Students long have complained about teachers with eyes on the backs of their heads.
A New York University photography professor is going one further by implanting a camera in the back of his head.
The project is being commissioned by a new museum in Qatar. But the work, which would broadcast a live stream of images from the camera to museum visitors, is sparking a debate on campus over the competing values of creative expression and student privacy.
Wafaa Bilal, an Iraqi assistant professor in the photography and imaging department of NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, intends to undergo surgery in coming weeks to install the camera, according to several people familiar with the project.
For one year, Mr. Bilal's camera will take still pictures at one-minute intervals, then feed the photos to monitors at the museum. The thumbnail-sized camera will be affixed to his head through a piercing-like attachment, his NYU colleagues say. Mr. Bilal declined to comment for this story.
The artwork, titled "The 3rd I," is intended as "a comment on the inaccessibility of time, and the inability to capture memory and experience," according to press materials from the museum, known as Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art. Mr. Bilal's work would be among the inaugural exhibits of Mathaf, scheduled to open next month.
Because Mr. Bilal is an active professor, teaching three courses this semester and scheduled to teach this spring, his special camera could capture not just his personal activity, but also his interactions with students.
That possibility, of exposing private encounters without participants' consent, has raised concerns among NYU administrators and faculty.
"Obviously you don't want students to be under the burden of constant surveillance; it's not a good teaching environment," said Fred Ritchin, associate chairman of the department.
After Mr. Bilal received the commission, he informed the department chairwoman, Deborah Willis, of his project in January. "I said, what if students are upset?" Ms. Willis recalled. "What if you're documenting what they don't want you to see?"
Ms. Willis and Mr. Bilal brought the issue to the attention of the deans, Ms. Willis said, and Mr. Bilal presented the concept for his project at a faculty meeting several months ago, according to a university spokesman, John Beckman.
"It's fair to say that a good deal of discussion ensued," Mr. Beckman said. The school is still determining what rules it will set for Mr. Bilal and his camera on campus.
During the course of the discussions, Mr. Bilal has informed all of his students of his plans and has agreed to cover the camera with a black lens cap while on university property, according to Mr. Ritchin. Another proposal would require him to turn off the camera while in NYU buildings, Mr. Beckman said.
Mr. Bilal's personal activity is a separate matter, of course. "I guess anybody accepting a dinner invitation will have to realize that certain things will be going on," Mr. Ritchin said.
While Mr. Bilal's project represents a novel challenge for NYU, it is hardly the first time his work has caused a stir.
For a 2008 project, "Virtual Jihadi," Mr. Bilal hacked a video game to insert an avatar of himself as a suicide-bomber hunting President George W. Bush. The work incited a wave of protests, both for and against it, and eventually the New York Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in Mr. Bilal's defense after the exhibition was shut down.
In his 2007 work, "Domestic Tension," Mr. Bilal confined himself to a gallery in Chicago for a month, inviting the public to visit a website where they could "shoot" the artist by remotely firing a paintball gun at him.
And in June, Mr. Bilal tattooed on to his back a map of Iraqi cities for a work called "...and Counting." The names of the cities were spelled out in Arabic script, with dots added to mark the location of American and Iraqi casualties.
The new museum where Mr. Bilal's camera-based work is to be shown is overseen by the Qatar Musuems Authority, whose other projects include the National Museum of Qatar and the Museum of Islamic Art, which opened in 2008.
A curator of the exhibition that includes Mr. Bilal's work says the artist defies categorization. "He's not really a photographer, he's not really a video artist, he's not really a performance artist," curator Till Fellrath said.
"Whatever artwork he creates, he doesn't want people to just look at it, he wants them to participate in it."
Analysis: Europe is next test for weakened Obama
WASHINGTON | Mon Nov 15, 2010 2:07pm EST
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - If President Barack Obama is not yet convinced that his international star power has faded, his next round of transatlantic summitry should clear up any lingering doubts.
Coming off a marathon Asia trip where Obama often found himself rebuffed by fellow world leaders, he will head to Europe this week where the agenda will be clouded by a growing divide over economic strategy and a sense of neglect among traditional U.S. allies.
His challenge is to reassure European partners that, despite political weakness at home and embarrassing setbacks abroad, he remains committed to better cooperation on issues ranging from the war in Afghanistan to the fight against trade protectionism.
But it will not be easy for Obama, whose Democratic Party suffered heavy losses in this month's congressional elections, to dispel the impression that his stature has been diminished on the world stage. He will attend back-to-back NATO and European Union summits in Lisbon on Friday and Saturday.
"The tricky thing for Obama is to show the Europeans not only that he's still important to them but that they're still important to the U.S.," said Sally McNamara, a European affairs expert at the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington.
Accustomed to being at the center of U.S. foreign policy, Europe may be feeling jilted.
Despite the European love affair with Obama when he was elected two years ago, he has let transatlantic ties slip down his priorities list while focusing on rising Asian powers like China and India and domestic concerns such as high unemployment and an anemic economy.
It will not be lost on his European hosts that Obama, who visited Europe six times in his first year, is dashing to Lisbon for little more than 24 hours on the ground after conducting a 10-day four-country tour of Asia.
The White House insists that Obama's engagement with economically dynamic Asia will not come at the expense of America's "enduring partnership" with less-vibrant Europe.
But analysts believe sweeping Republican gains in the November 2 midterm elections, which could cause legislative gridlock, will make it harder for him to make progress on top European concerns like financial regulation, climate change and trade.
BACKLASH FROM EUROPE?
Obama may also have to deal with fallout from last week's Group of 20 summit in Seoul, where he faced a backlash over U.S. monetary easing policy, resistance to his push for hard targets on global balanced growth and reluctance to join in pressuring China over its currency.
Reflecting a growing estrangement over economic policy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron have strongly opposed Obama's call for stimulating economic expansion with more government spending. They prefer to stress fiscal discipline.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble took the rhetoric to a new level earlier this month when he said the Federal Reserve's decision to pump $600 billion into the U.S. economy was "clueless." Germany, China and other big exporters see it as a backdoor way to cheapen the dollar and give U.S. goods a trade advantage.
Meeting first with NATO leaders and then with heads of the 27-nation EU, the world's biggest economic bloc, Obama will undoubtedly seek to ease tensions.
Topping the NATO agenda will be Afghanistan. Obama wants allies to commit to a blueprint for shifting primary security responsibility to Afghan forces by 2014. He is mindful of NATO's need for an exit strategy in the increasingly unpopular war but hopes to avoid a disorderly rush for the door.
How well he fares could be a sign of how much sway he still holds with Europe. Though Obama remains popular among ordinary Europeans, their leaders are no longer starry-eyed about him.
Many welcome his more multilateral approach after what critics derided as "cowboy diplomacy" under George W. Bush.
But there is also disappointment in Europe that Obama has not done more to advance the fight against climate change or meet his promise to close the military prison at Guantanamo.
Nearly two years after he took office, traditional European powers have also seen their international clout heavily diluted with his push to elevate the G20 over the G8 as the main forum for coordinating global economic policy.
"It's a touchy issue," said Charles Kupchan, an expert on international relations at Georgetown University. "On Obama's watch, there has been a demotion of Europe's voice."
The EU summit was originally scheduled for May in Madrid, but it was called off after Obama decided not to go. U.S. officials said it would have been little more than a photo-op.
Then the euro zone debt crisis erupted, with the near-collapse of Greece's sovereign debt market and a spillover effect on U.S. financial markets and the economy.
That sent officials scrambling to reschedule the summit, which now is sure to discuss Ireland's emerging debt woes.
Obama said last week at the G20 that he had developed "genuine friendship" with some foreign leaders, including Merkel. But European diplomats demurred, saying he had mostly forged working relationships, not close personal bonds.
Born in Hawaii and raised partly in Indonesia, Obama -- who lacks the instinctive European focus of his predecessors -- has declared he wants to be America's first "Pacific president." Europeans may be wondering where that leaves the Atlantic.
Southern California -- this just in
In-state tuition for illegal immigrants is preserved with California Supreme Court ruling [Updated]
The California Supreme Court decided unanimously Monday that illegal immigrants may continue to be eligible for in-state tuition rates at the state's colleges and universities rather than pay the higher rates charged to those who live out of state.
In a ruling written by Justice Ming W. Chin, one of the panel's more conservative members, the state high court said a California law that guarantees the lower tuition for students who attend California high schools for at least three years and graduate does not conflict with a federal prohibition on giving illegal immigrants educational benefits based on residency.
California is one of several states that permit illegal immigrants to take advantage of lower college tuition for students who attend high school and graduate in state. About 25,000 illegal immigrants are estimated to receive in-state tuition rates in California.
A group fighting illegal immigration challenged the California law on behalf of U.S. citizens who pay the higher tuition as out-of-state students. The group won in lower court, and the state appealed.
The lawsuit contended the California law usurped a federal prohibition on giving educational benefits based on residency to illegal immigrants but not all U.S. citizens.
College students who are in the country illegally are barred from government financial-aid programs. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected eventually to decide whether the lower tuition rates also violate federal law.
Miller/NewsFormer Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel is running for mayor of Chicago, and may have presidential aspirations down the road.
Egan-Chin/NewsWhether they admit it or not, Mayor Bloomberg and Sarah Palin (below) have eyes for the White House.
CHICAGO - This time it was Rahm Emanuel in Chicago, making the speech that he hopes is the start of everything for him. This time it was Emanuel, a White House insider turned into a political outsider this fast, standing in the Coonley Elementary School, talking about a vision for the future for his city and really talking about himself.
"The question in this election is who has the experience, imagination and strength to see a better future," he said.
He is the tough guy from the Obama administration who now wants to be mayor of Chicago, then see where he can go from there. But you know he sees Chicago as just the beginning of something grander for him. This is American politics now, in the age of Barack Obama. The Obama who came from Chicago and really nowhere to become President.
They all think they can make it happen fast, as fast as the country turned around on Obama. The smart guys, and there is nobody around smarter than Emanuel, understand this has become Attention-Deficit America now, our society flattening out faster than it ever has in history, voters unable to distinguish between message and messengers in the age of Twitter and the Internet and the demagoguery, left and right, of cable TV.
You think Rahm Emanuel doesn't think he can be President someday? Think again. You think Michael Bloomberg doesn't see a way to the White House for him in 2012 with the country this dizzy? Think again.
Bloomberg never wanted a third term because he thought the city needed him to save it from financial doom. He needed to keep himself in play. He needed to buy himself time, which means one more thing Bloomberg has bought, starting with influence. Mostly he needed a little more time to figure out if he can make his run before he is too old.
Suddenly nothing is impossible in American politics. All over the country there are on-the-make Republicans assessing their chance to make their run at Obama in 2012, from young congressmen like Eric Cantor from Virginia to Mitch Daniels, the governor of Indiana, to a talking hairdo like Rick Perry in Texas. Chris Christie of Jersey, one of the most interesting guys around even though he looks like Gov. Ralph Kramden, keeps saying he isn't going to make his own run. We'll see about that.
There has rarely been a time more fluid than this, the politics of change in 2008 producing more change in 2010, even though all this change never seems to help voters, especially the ones from the middle class.
But they all see you can come from nowhere the way Sarah Palin, drum majorette for the Tea Party, has. Get big fast. Kirsten Gillibrand looked like some cute lightweight from upstate when David Paterson named her to replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate. Now you better watch Gillibrand, whether you think she has anything to say or not. She is young and good-looking and a moderate Democrat and before long, you will start to hear about her making her own run, whatever she says about that.
Two years ago, in the middle of the most thrilling race for the Democratic nomination the country had ever seen, Hillary Clinton was the most famous woman in the world. Now she is secretary of state and still Wife of Bill, and Palin, with the substance of a Hallmark card, has gone past her so fast it is as if Clinton has fossilized in front of our eyes.
You don't think things change fast? Suddenly George W. Bush is viewed as more of a statesman than Winston Churchill. And for what? Telling us he couldn't send troops into New Orleans after Katrina because it would have made the governor of Louisiana mad? Go back to Texas.
Nothing that happened with Bush is his fault. He sounds like the cowboy version of Isiah Thomas. But less than two years from when he officially left office, with approval ratings you could fit inside a shot glass, you get the idea that he could run against Obama's record - the way Obama ran against his record - and win.
Not long ago, somebody challenged Obama about his reliance on rhetoric over substance and he said, "Speeches got me here." They did. But as a Chicago political guy I know said Sunday, "Name one speech he's given as President that compares with what he did as a candidate."
This weekend Rahm Emanuel, one of Obama's inside guys, is the one who gave a speech in Chicago. Only it wasn't about Chicago. It was about him. A little guy thinking as big as you can, the way the mayor of New York does these days. The way they all do.
Detroit Free Press
DETROIT — When the Rev. Ronald Williams died this summer, St. Mary of Redford parishioners started an online drive to have the former priest buried in his old parish in Detroit. Parishoner Marge Staten said church members wanted to remember him in the church he helped restore. The Archdiocese of Detroit wouldn't allow it.
Out of deference to sexual abuse victims, church policy prevents a disciplined cleric from returning to his previous parish. Williams' funeral was held at neighboring St. Scholastica Church.Nearly a decade after the priest sex abuse scandal ignited in the U.S., the emotional issue continues to split the Catholic Church. This summer, Pope Benedict XVI's visits in Europe drew massive protests, prompting him to say victims are the priority.
Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron said the church remains committed to helping victims while continuing to deal with disciplined priests."I am not out to try to destroy anyone's affection for a priest — guilty as he might be of this crime," said Vigneron. "That doesn't mean everything was evil in this person's life." 'They bear the consequences' The Catholic Church still doesn't know what to do with priests like Williams, those accused of sexually molesting minors.
Although the church enacted a zero-tolerance abuse policy in the U.S. nearly a decade ago — with credibly accused priests being barred from public ministry — it has not developed uniform standards for how to support and monitor those disciplined priests.Many of the accused priests proclaim their innocence, despite both criminal and church investigations that have found the accusations against them valid — if not always prosecutable because of statutes of limitations.
Vigneron, the Detroit archbishop, said he has met with disciplined priests and listened to their stories." Some are much more at peace with the aftermath of what they've done and ... one or another does find it difficult to acknowledge where they've taken their lives," said Vigneron. He said the men are not ostracized, but are welcome at gatherings of priests and are helped financially when the need arises. But, said Vigneron, "they did a really awful thing, and part of it is, they bear the consequences of their behavior."
'It's a tightrope' Mary Jane Doerr, associate director for the Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, acknowledges that there aren't standardized guidelines for monitoring priests restricted from ministry, who are supposed to live a life "of prayer and penance." "There really isn't a template," said Doerr. "The goal is always to create a safe environment, keeping the children safe and balancing that with the needs of the man — who, being human, needs meaningful work. "It's a tightrope. It's a tension.
"Her office is currently surveying 195 dioceses in the U.S. on their monitoring practices of priests.Accused priests are under no legal obligation to accept church monitoring. But, by doing so, they retain ties with the church's support structure — financial stipends, therapy, mentorship and spiritual guidance. Before the reforms of 2002, archdiocese officials often sent men accused of abuse for treatment. In several cases, they were returned to ministry."
We thought we could restore them," said Michael Talbot, the Michigan Appeals Court judge who chairs the Archdiocesan Review Board that oversees abuse complaints. "We were forgetting the victim in the equation." Talbot said many local parishioners believe that some priests have been unjustly accused." I don't know of any who looked them in the eye and said, 'This is true.' They've looked them in the eye and said, 'It's unjust and unfair.'
And folks are operating out of a lack of information, and they have to trust that we didn't pull this out of the air." 'We have to do a ... better job'For the Archdiocese of Detroit, Williams' case is a tragedy on many tiers — for the victims, the church and the priest.In the years after Williams' removal, archdiocese spokesman Ned McGrath said, the Detroit archdiocese tried to help the priest. From 2002-07, as Williams appealed his removal through internal church trials that went all the way up to Vatican review, he drew his regular archdiocese salary and benefits. But in 2007, Vatican officials upheld Williams' removal from ministry, and the paychecks stopped. The archdiocese gave Williams a onetime stipend and agreed to reimburse him for 50% of the cost of his medical premiums. Like Williams, many of the removed priests struggle to provide for themselves, said Joe Maher, who started a defense fund for accused priests called Opus Bono Sacerdotii, which means "Work for the Good of the Priesthood." "I think that we have to do a much better job of taking care of our own, where Father Ron died penniless, destitute and alone," said Maher. "He had literally nothing."
Two short years ago, one of the presidential tickets had the wisdom to not only acknowledge the climate crisis, but also to present credible solutions to address it.
If elected, the tandem told Americans, they intended to do what the Bush administration would not: establish "a cap-and-trade system that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions" and pursue "alternatives to carbon-based fuels." The result, they said, would be "a better future for our children."
The candidates were John McCain and Sarah Palin.
The nuances matter, but the differences between the Democratic vision on energy policy and the McCain-Palin platform are relatively minor. In fact, if the White House were prepared to open negotiations with a Republican-led House next year, President Obama could do worse than starting with the McCain-Palin plan.
With that in mind, why doesn't he do just that? What better way for a Democratic President to demonstrate a commitment to bipartisanship than by embracing specific Republican proposals?
The conventional wisdom is that Obama is in a nearly untenable position in the wake of the midterm elections. He could continue to fight for his top priorities, butt heads with GOP lawmakers intent on destroying his presidency, and run into inexorable gridlock. Or he could drift to the right, concluding that more conservative policies are better than a stagnant government, running the risk of alienating his liberal base.
But there's an alternative behind door #3: embrace the handful of Republican ideas he already likes, effectively challenging the GOP to take "yes" for an answer.
There are more such ideas than you may realize.
Energy policy is arguably the easiest area for common ground, given the McCain-Palin agenda of 2008. Obama could endorse it with relative ease. Though it's unlikely today's GOP, which has lurched far to the right, would appreciate the gesture, it would be somewhat more challenging for Republicans to characterize a plan presented by their own party's presidential ticket as some kind of communist plot.
Second, there's immigration. The White House's vision of a comprehensive reform plan is already in line with the last administration's approach on the same issue. The President can keep the bipartisanship going by endorsing the Bush-Cheney immigration proposal, almost to the letter.
Likewise, the Dream Act, intended to help children of illegal immigrants with a path to citizenship, was written in large part by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).
Republicans want to make cuts to government spending? No problem - several prominent GOP lawmakers, including hard-line conservatives like Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), have recently endorsed trimming the enormous Pentagon budget, an idea Obama could also get behind.
Social Security judges facing more violent threats
(11-14) 08:03 PST WASHINGTON, (AP) --
Judges who hear Social Security disability cases are facing a growing number of violent threats from claimants angry over being denied benefits or frustrated at lengthy delays in processing claims.
There were at least 80 threats to kill or harm administrative law judges or staff over the past year — an 18 percent increase over the previous reporting period, according to data collected by the agency.
The data was released to the Association of Administrative Law Judges and made available to The Associated Press.
One claimant in Albuquerque, N.M., called his congressman's office to say he was going to "take his guns and shoot employees" in the Social Security hearing office. In Eugene, Ore., a man who was denied benefits said he is "ready to join the Taliban and hurt some people." Another claimant denied benefits told a judge in Greenville, S.C., that he was a sniper in the military and "would go take care of the problem."
"I'm not sure the number is as significant as the kind of threats being made," said Randall Frye, a judge based in Charlotte, N.C., and the president of the judges' union. "There seem to be more threats of serious bodily harm, not only to the judge but to the judge's family."
Fifty of the incidents came between March and August, including that of a Pittsburgh claimant who threatened to kill herself outside the hearing office or fly a plane into the building like a disgruntled tax protester did earlier this year at the Internal Revenue Service building in Austin, Texas.
A Senate subcommittee is expected to hear testimony on Monday at a field hearing in Akron, Ohio, about the rising number of threats, as well as the status of the massive backlog in applications for disability benefits, which are available to people who can't work because of medical problems.
Nearly 2 million people are waiting to find out if they qualify for benefits, with many having to wait more than two years to see their first payment.
Judges say some claimants become desperate after years of fighting for money to help make ends meet.
"To many of them, we're their last best hope for getting relief in the form of income and medical benefits," said Judge Mark Brown, a vice president of the judge's union and an administrative law judge hearing cases in St. Louis.
While no judges were harmed this year, there have been past incidents: A judge in Los Angeles was hit over the head with a chair during a hearing and a judge in Newburgh, N.Y., was punched by a claimant when he showed up for work.
In January, a gunman possibly upset about a reduction in his Social Security benefits killed a security guard during a furious gunbattle at a Nevada federal courthouse.
About 1,400 administrative law judges handle appeals of Social Security disability claims at about 150 offices across the country. Many are in leased office space rather than government buildings.
Brown said the agency provides a single private security guard for each office building that houses judges. Frye said he has sought more security and a review of the policy that keeps guards out of hearing rooms. He said Social Security Commissioner Michael J. Astrue has promised to look into it.
Social Security Administration spokeswoman Trish Nicasio said the agency continually evaluates the level and effectiveness of office security and makes changes as needed.
"We are taking appropriate steps to protect our employees and visitors while still providing the level of face-to-face service the public expects and deserves," Nicasio said.
Visitors and their belongings are screened before entering hearing offices and hearings room, she said, and reception desks are equipped with duress alarms to notify the guard immediately of any disturbance.
Shuler on Pelosi: If 'she doesn't step aside, I will challenge her'
Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) countered Pelosi would stay, saying she had led Democrats to the land "of milk and honey."
Blue Dog Rep. Heath Shuler (N.C.) said on Sunday that he will run for House Democratic Leader if Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) doesn't drop her bid for the top-ranking position.
Though he said he doesn't "have the numbers to win," Shuler told CNN's Joe Johns on "State of the Union" that his caucus deserves to have a moderate candidate to vote for when the caucus elects their leaders on Wednesday.
“If it comes down to this coming week, and she doesn’t step aside, then I will challenge her," Shuler said.
Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) was firm that Pelosi would not drop her bid to retain her status as the No. 1 ranked House Democrat.
"She's made the declaration ... and we all know that she will be a candidate and as Heath Shuler just said, if he were to get in the race, he would not be successful," Clyburn said on CNN following his junior colleague's interview.
Clyburn and Pelosi reached an agreement on Friday night to avert a divisive battle in the caucus when they created a new No. 3 ranking leadership position for Clyburn. Instead of serving as whip in the minority, Clyburn would take on the title of Assistant Leader.
The House's highest-ranking African-American lawmaker was locked in a fight with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) for the No. 2 ranking leadership spot in the 112th Congress.
Leading up to the late-night deal brokered by Pelosi, Clyburn said that some Democrats told him they would not go to the leadership meeting if they had to choose between Clyburn and Hoyer or Clyburn and Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson (Conn.).
"Some told me if a vote came up and they were in the room that they would leave the room, so what we did was look at this issue and see how we could best keep our caucus together," Clyburn said on CNN.
Shuler said that Clyburn should remain in a leadership post, but Pelosi needs to go.
“Let’s be realistic about it, there’s very few numbers of (moderates) left, the entire House is being pushed further and further apart in their different viewpoints and the moderates have to bring our country together to move our country forward. I would really hope that [Pelosi] would step aside to allow Steny Hoyer, James Clyburn -- those gentlemen-to step forward in the leadership positions that they held in the majority, to be the leader and to be whip,” Shuler said.
Shuler believes that his party didn't get the message on Election Day when voters kicked Democrats out of majority control of the House if his caucus keeps Pelosi at the top of their leadership team.
"I hope that with so many members that we need to go in a different direction, that we have to be able to recruit or get back those members of Congress that lost, and I just don’t see that path happening if she’s at the top of the Democrats,” Shuler said.
Clyburn said, however, that Pelosi led Democrats to the land "of milk and honey" back in 2006 when her party regained the majority after 12 years of GOP rule. Shuler was elected to the House in the class of 2006 -- the lawmakers who Pelosi has referred to as her "majority makers."
Officials seek to learn how retirement home resident got into walk-in freezer
The woman, 94, was hospitalized after being found in the cold storage locker at the upscale Silverado Senior Living in Calabasas. She is back 'safe and sound' and 'corrective action' has been taken against two employees, a facility official says.
Robert Faturechi, Los Angeles Times November 12, 2010|7:37 p.m.
House Democratic leaders maneuvered Saturday to lock down a lineup that would look exactly the same in the minority as it did in the majority, even as junior and disaffected rank-and-file lawmakers clamor for change at the top.
Outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi averted a Wednesday showdown between her top two lieutenants by announcing that she will create a new post for Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), who was expected to lose a race for minority whip to Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md. Clyburn would become "assistant leader" and would remain the third-ranking person in the Democratic leadership, Pelosi said in a letter to caucus members.
That may help Pelosi avoid a revolt from black lawmakers anxious to make sure that Clyburn, the highest-ranking African American in Congress, isn't booted from the leadership or demoted in rank. Moreover, the deal does little to alleviate the frustrations of a scattered but sizable set of junior Democrats who believe Pelosi and her senior allies exercise too much control over caucus structures, including campaign, policy and committee-assignment apparatuses. Those lawmakers are working to rewrite internal rules to take power away from the septuagenarians who run the party.
"You have a bunch of senior citizens at the buffet at closing time, fighting over the last piece of meat," said one veteran Democrat who talked about the "frustration of the younger generation" of talent that's upset at the prospect of keeping "the status quo."
Both Hoyer and Clyburn endorsed the deal, but one member of the younger generation, Heath Shuler of North Carolina, told a local newspaper in his district, the Clay County Progress, this week that he would challenge Pelosi for the leadership. He had previously said he would challege her if no one else did.
Despite losing control of the House and likely more than 60 seats in all, Pelosi contends that forces beyond her control are to blame for Republicans' success at the ballot box earlier this month.
"The reason the election results are what they are is because we have 9-1/2 percent unemployment in our country. We didn't lose the election because of me," Pelosi told National Public Radio on Friday. "The reason they had to try to take me down is because I've been effective in fighting the special interests in Washington, D.C. I'm also the most significant attractor of support for the Democrats. So I'm not looking back on this. [Democratic colleagues] asked me to run. I'm running. And again, our members understand they made me target because I'm effective."
Indeed, Pelosi is a monster fundraiser, a favorite of nearly every identifiable Democratic interest group, and an indefatigable activist for her party's legislative and political goals.
It's a message that's resonating with liberals in her caucus and outside Congress, particularly those who blame the White House for failing to adequately communicate with the public about the benefits of major Democratic agenda items. And Pelosi, who has not drawn a challenger yet, appears poised to win election as minority leader in a caucus that has become more liberal because its electoral losses were heavily concentrated in centrist districts.
But she's not taking anything for granted. Pelosi won letters of support from EMILY's List, the Sierra Club and 32 House Democratic women on Friday. Her continued effort to demonstrate backing from core Democratic constituencies — and the strange late-Friday announcement of the agreement with Clyburn — led some Democratic sources to suggest she's not entirely comfortable with her standing right now. Pelosi's office put tremendous pressure on the women lawmakers to sign the letter, according to two party sources, and still didn't win the support of 18 House Democratic women.
There's a strong undercurrent of dissent building within Democratic ranks. It may not be enough to topple Pelosi or the other elected leaders — Hoyer, Clyburn, Caucus Chairman John Larson of Connecticut and Caucus Vice Chairman Xavier Becerra of California — but Democratic insiders say diffuse calls for change could gather when lawmakers congregate in groups next week for the first time since the election.
Sources point to a handful of meetings this week that could lay the groundwork for a rebellion -— major or minor — against the existing power structure. For example, the chiefs of staff for members of the moderate Blue Dog Coalition are scheduled to meet Monday, CBC members gather Monday night and Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) has called for a discussion among midwesterners on Tuesday.
Kaptur and Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) are authors of a letter calling on Pelosi to postpone Wednesday's party leadership elections — a proxy vote for whether Pelosi and her lieutenants have a problem on their hands.
Meanwhile, Blue Dogs are working on a series of potential rules changes that would tear away Pelosi's authority to essentially appoint the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the co-chairmen of the Steering and Policy Committee, which hands out legislative committee assignments to rank-and-file lawmakers.
Pelosi's control over campaign strategy has come under fire in the wake of the election, in part because she was demonized as a symbol of voter frustration with Washington. Her name and image were used in tens of millions of dollars of campaign ads in districts across the country, prompting some Democratic incumbents and challengers to declare they would not vote for her to lead their party in the next Congress. She is deeply unpopular with the public at large — including independents whose approval of her rests in the high single digits — though she won reelection overwhelmingly in her San Francisco-area district.
The Steering and Policy Committee, run since 2003 by Pelosi confidants George Miller (Calif.) and Rosa DeLauro (Conn.) despite a two-term limit, has been criticized for a perception that it rewards only Pelosi loyalists with choice committee assignments, leaving important decisions to an ideologically and politically monolithic group.
Reps. Dan Boren (D-Okla.) and Larry Kissell (D-N.C.), who have said publicly that they do not support Pelosi's effort to transition from speaker of the House to minority leader, are among those drafting proposals to loosen Pelosi's grip on party leadership structures.
Pelosi's aides have not yet said whether she might embrace any of the proposals to give more influence to the caucus in choosing who will serve in secondary leadership roles.
You can almost feel the tidal wave of disappointment and furor and scrutiny forming.
You can practically see an entire community of basketball fans hovering over the panic button ready to press.
You can actually see Dan Gilbert wringing his hands in diabolical pleasure.
This Heat team that wasn't supposed to lose two games in a row all year just lost three of four, including two in a row at home.
This Heat team that was supposed to be relying on its defense while its offense caught up has given up 196 points over the past 77 minutes of basketball (that's about 31 points per 12 minutes).
This Heat team that was supposed to challenge the Celtics for superiority in the Eastern Conference has been handled twice by those Celtics and at 5-4 is closer to the Pacers, Cavaliers and Bucks than it is to the top of the conference.
If someone would've predicted before the season that the Heat would start off with this record, which included back-to-back home losses, you probably would've assumed some drastic change was on the way.
Even though every single aspect of the Heat's four losses can be explained away in some fashion, and even though all four of them have been, technically, close at the end, this is about as disappointing a start as this team could've envisioned. The Super Friends weren't supposed to fail this much this fast. Especially not when the most recent failure, Thursday's loss to the Celtics in which Boston absolutely dissected the Heat, came after a devastating overtime loss to the Jazz that was supposed to be a perfectly timed wakeup call.
Instead, it was as if the Heat slapped the snooze button.
``No one said this was supposed to be easy,'' Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
Except, a lot of people said exactly that. Enough, that is, for a lot of us to believe it would be. Certainly a lot easier than it has been.
It's safe to say nothing is going to happen as was expected for this Heat team, at least not this early.
What we expected to see Thursday -- two days after the Heat blew a 22-point lead, one day after the Heat had an intense day of reflection and just 16 days after getting trounced in Boston on opening night -- was a desperate, angry team that played with enough passion to make up for the fact that the parts are still trying to find their places.
What we actually saw was a Heat team getting schooled from the very start.
We saw Chris Bosh so used to being a spectator in his new role that he didn't even expect a pass from Dwyane Wade on what had been a perfectly executed pick-and-roll.
We saw Wade stand with his hands on his hips about 10 feet away from a scorching hot Ray Allen and appear surprised when the inbounds pass found Allen and his scorching hands in the corner for a three.
We saw LeBron James essentially take over the game and almost record a second triple-double in a row but mix in an airball on one wide-open three-pointer and hit the side of the backboard on another three, the second of which would've narrowed the Heat's deficit to four points with one minute remaining.
About the only player who responded exactly how we would've expected was captain Udonis Haslem.
Spoelstra and his players have been talking about this ``process'' it takes to meld this talent together. But even they probably didn't think that would require a 5-4 start and include this much frustration.
We're nine games into this team's most anticipated season of basketball, and the gratification hasn't nearly been instant enough to keep everyone happy. Four losses in nine games won't keep anyone happy.
POST WIRE SERVICES
7:22 AM, November 13, 2010
Sometimes it pays not to listen to experts. Pays $69 million, in fact.
A British couple once brought a family curio -- an ornate Chinese vase that they owned for decades -- onto the precursor of the "Antiques Roadshow" for a little bit of history about the heirloom.
The snooty curator of "Going For a Song" declared the 16-inch-tall porcelain vase nothing more than a "very clever reproduction."
Luckily, the couple, longtime residents of the working-class London suburb of Pinner, didn't listen to the "expert" some 40 years ago, and held onto the piece.
'POT' LUCK: An expert on the forerunner of "Antiques Roadshow" dismissed this $69 million vase as merely a "clever reproduction." AP
The vase went back to a bookshelf, and later to the dusty attic of their modest home.
The couple grew old, and eventually passed away. The vase was nearly forgotten.
Then this year, their surviving relatives, the 70-year-old sister of the husband and her adult two children, were cleaning out the attic.
They were hunting for family heirlooms and items to sell at a run-of-the-mill estate auction, like furniture or carpets.
"We were clearing her brother's house after he died, and I looked at the vase and said, 'Oh, that looks nice.' It had just sat on the bookcase doing absolutely nothing," David Reay, manager of the Bainbridges auction house, told the London Evening Standard.
"They told me it had been valued at just [$1,300] two months earlier. They also told me the owner had taken it on 'Going For a Song' on the BBC about 40 years ago. He was told it was a very clever reproduction."
Reay knew it was valuable, but he still had it sent to the Arts Club of London where it sat on a metal table in a busy kitchen in between public viewings.
Finally, experts evaluated the piece and estimated it could sell for over a million dollars, noting it was made around 1740 for the royal court of Qianlong, the fifth emperor of the Qing dynasty -- a period when Chinese porcelain-making had reached its zenith.
The two adult children, a brother and sister, believed it was "just an ornament" that had been in the family since the 1930s, and passed down from a relative who traveled internationally.
The auction house of Peter Bainbridge -- a tiny business with just three full-time employees -- went ahead with the auction on Thursday.
The vase had attracted worldwide attention, particularly from China's nascent but growing cadre of wealthy art collectors.
Bainbridge's modest auction house was packed.
"The room was crackling with excitement. The couple were down in the middle of the audience, but no one knew," said Bainbridge staffer Peggy Bates.
Then the bidding began.
Bainbridge, whose big gest sale to that point had been $160,000, kept his cool as bids pushed the price past $10 million, then $30 million, then $50 million, to finally close at $69.5 million after 30 minutes of in tense bidding.
"There was a si lence that wrapped it self around the sale as the figure grew slowly but surely up to the sky," Bainbridge said.
"I'm an auctioneer, so at that point, I'm just doing the professional job I'm paid to do. But once the hammer's down, you do take stock slightly, and think, Oh, wow, that's really rather a lot of money."
The couple had to run out of the room to catch their breath.
And Bainbridge himself had to pause to realize he'll collect a $13 million premium on top of the closing sale price.
Once Britain's value-added tax was tacked on, the final price was $85.9 million, won by an anonymous buyer in China who phoned in the bid.
The brother and sister were utterly stunned.
"She told me she wished it happened 30 years ago," Reay, the Bainbridge manager, said.
Bainbridge himself called it a "fairy tale" for an "utterly normal" family.
The couple, like the buyer, insisted on remaining anonymous.
Their sale was the most expensive piece of Chinese artwork ever. .
Little is known about the vase, but it was likely looted from a Peking imperial palace by British and French soldiers during the Second Opium War, some 150 years ago.
British troops were given free rein to loot Emperor Xianfeng's Summer Palace of Gold.
They then torched the place and marched away laden with tons of booty.
China's booming economy means new collectors are joining the market all the time, and wealthy buyers are keen to repatriate treasures from their heritage.
LINK TO VASE:
NPR says it's 'imperative' that its federal funding not be cut
NPR said it's "imperative" that it receives federal funding in light of a recommended cuts by the leaders of President Obama's fiscal commission.
"Federal funding has been a central component of public radio stations’ ability to serve audiences across the country," NPR said in a statement. "It’s imperative for funding to continue to ensure that this essential tool of democracy survives and thrives well into the future."
The co-chairmen of Obama's fiscal commission, Democrat Erskine Bowles and Republican Alan Simpson, proposed eliminating funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, among other ideas, in their report on how to bring down the long-term debt in the U.S. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting assists NPR and PBS stations in their operations.
"The National Commission’s proposal to eliminate federal funding for public media would have a profound and detrimental impact on all Americans," NPR said in response to the proposal.
The radio network has found itself come under political pressure from Republicans in Congress, who proposed defunding NPR through cuts to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. GOP figures called for such cuts after NPR fired longtime commentator Juan Williams over remarks he had made on Fox News regarding stereotypes of Muslims.
Crystal Simmons, founding principal of the Academy for Social Action, turned to officials for help after her former lover, Candy Jones, threatened to murder her, according to a report.
A beloved Harlem principal was yanked from her post after she had a two-year lesbian romance with a female assistant principal then gave her a lousy review, investigators said.
Crystal Simmons, founding principal of the Academy for Social Action, turned to officials for help after her former lover, Candy Jones, threatened to murder her, according to a report released Friday by the city Education Department.
"We are currently seeking to terminate both Principal Simmons and Assistant Principal Jones," said Department of Education spokeswoman Barbara Morgan. "In a setting where the focus is supposed to be on student learning, conduct like this is simply unacceptable."
During the investigation, Simmons fessed up to the dalliance with her subordinate.
Jones is accused of threatening to kill Simmons after being asked to resign, telling another school employee that "it was easy to purchase a gun down south" and that her father "had already purchased one," the report says.
Jones told investigators that she was only joking about an article involving a female corrections officer who gunned down her female lover, comparing her situation to that one.
She also claimed her relationship with Simmons became strained only after she vacationed with another woman, upsetting Simmons, according to the report.
Simmons told investigators she gave Jones an "unsatisfactory" rating after Jones' work ethic declined once the relationship fell apart.
Attempts to reach the two were not immediately successful.
A 17-year-old senior was one of dozens of students who attended a protest Friday to demand the return of their principal, whom she compared as "a second mother."
The teen described herself as "shocked" after learning of the sex scandal.
"I don't really know what to say. My God, I don't know what think," she said.
The eight-episode series Sarah Palin's Alaska is part documentary, part travelogue and part reality television.
WASILLA, Alaska — Sarah Palin may be able to see Russia from her house. Come Sunday, you'll be able to get an extended look at her from your living room.
With the state's stunning scenery as a backdrop, TLC's Sarah Palin's Alaska (9 p.m. ET/PT) offers the most telling look yet at the private life of 2012's highest-profile potential contender for president, mostly through a politics-free lens.
A hybrid of adventure travel, documentary — and, despite Palin's protests, reality TV — the eight-episode series follows Mama Grizzly encountering brown bears, Sarah Barracuda hauling in freshly caught halibut, and Caribou Barbie mingling with moose, bison and, yes, caribou.
"This is not Housewives of Alaska," Palin said in a rare interview at home on the shores of postcard-worthy Lake Lucille. "This is about the uniqueness of Alaska, the special place it is, and showing the rest of America why we are here and what we have to offer.
"Launching at a time when Palin has helped energize the grass-roots Tea Party movement and backed dozens of Republicans with mixed success in statewide, Senate and House races during the midterm elections, Alaska and its family-friendly tone could be an image-shaping public-relations bonanza.
For Palin, 46, the show represents a chance to begin redefining a shoot-from-the-hip reputation shaped by sharp anti-Washington rhetoric that has won her support among conservatives nationwide but raised questions about her qualifications and motives — and inspired parodies by Tina Fey on NBC's Saturday Night Live.
It's unclear whether Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee in 2008, will make a run at the White House in 2012. But if that's her plan, is an entertainment-oriented cable TV show an appropriate platform for a presidential contender? Skeptics, notably prominent Republicans such as strategist Karl Rove, have said Palin's TV foray is decidedly unpresidential. "For many Americans, it's hard to take her seriously, politically," says Stuart Rothenberg, publisher of the rothenbergpoliticalreport.com. "She doesn't do many things to demonstrate depth, seriousness and substance. She's not going that route with this TV show. "Even so, Rothenberg says, Alaska could help soften Palin's nails-tough, polarizing reputation and broaden her appeal beyond core conservatives.
"She's a celebrity, a brand and a phenomenon — much bigger than she was as a vice presidential candidate," he says. "But this isn't really about politics. It's about pop culture. And this could show a dimension that could make her appealing to people who think she's just snarky and opinionated.
"Joining TLC's slate of featherweight reality, lifestyle and cooking shows such as Kate Plus Eight , What Not to Wear and Cake Boss doesn't seem politically risky to Palin, a multitasking mother of five. After Rove's criticism last month, Palin noted on a Fox News show that former president Ronald Reagan — whose portrait hangs above the fireplace in the great room that doubles as Palin's pulpit for remote Fox satellite feeds — was a film and TV actor.
Palin spurned offers for TV gigs outside her role as a Fox News pundit until Mark Burnett, producer of Survivor and Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?, sold Palin and her husband, Todd, on an adventure-centric family exploration of Alaska's pristine outback and diverse cultures. "Basically, the other shows were all about following a day in the life of Sarah Palin, only it would be extended for days on end," she says. "How boring."Alaska "is a way to undo a lot of the untruths, inaccuracies and lies about our family," she says. "This is a way to show — as we're showcasing Alaska — what our family is all about.
"'We've been burned so many times' Lambasted by mainstream news media for lacking gravitas and for stepping down as governor after just two years as she parlayed political notoriety into celebritydom and wealth (Forbes recently pegged her net worth at $10 million), Palin's distrust of most news media — which she has called "limp, gutless and impotent" and "corrupt <snip>s" — runs deep. The University of Idaho journalism graduate says she's shocked at how she and her family have been portrayed. "We've been burned so many times. How else can they kick us? Can they keep saying Trig (her 2½-year-old son) is not really my child? That Track (her eldest son, 21 ) had to join the Army to avoid jail? That Todd and I are in the middle of a $20 million divorce?
"Alaska may provide National Geographic-style moments of Palin and her family fishing, camping, panning for gold and watching critters, but it's also a Family Circle-type platform to showcase Palin on her terms, warts and all. "This allows us to get the truth out there," says Palin, who prefers sending her message to the masses via social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
On Sunday's Alaska premiere, Palin gets to express some barely hidden contempt for author Joe McGinniss, whose pixilated image is seen from the home he rented next door while researching a Palin book due in 2011. "It's none of his flippin' business. ... It's an intrusion and an invasion of our privacy," Palin tells viewers. "If some dude you knew was out to get you, 15 feet away from your kids, how would you feel?" (McGinniss asked TLC to remove his likeness from the show.)
In her living room earlier in the episode, a tongue-in-cheek Palin makes sure that teen interloper "Andy" knows a safety gate blocking a staircase isn't just meant for Trig's protection but to block Andy's private time with Palin's 16-year-old daughter, Willow. "No boys upstairs. She'll be downstairs in a minute. You can text her," Palin tells the kid. He sneaks upstairs anyway. Other touches of family life are sprinkled through the series. Daughter Piper, 9, relishes a fishing trip to Big River Lake, as much for the adventure as the remote locale that could disconnect Mom from her ever-present BlackBerry.
And on an excursion near Denali National Park, the steely Palin's vulnerability is exposed as the young grandmother nervously crosses crevassed ice fields and fights fatigue and frustration scaling a mountainside.
Future episodes feature poignant moments with Palin ruminating about Trig's future after seeing an older child who, like Trig, has Down syndrome. TLC chief Eileen O'Neill says plotting out the series was a collaborative effort with the Palins. "There was no list of anything off-limits. Knowing she is certainly controversial, we weren't going to produce a controversial show," O'Neill says. "I think this will be really good television and storytelling about an amazing state and a charming family.
"Burnett, who has dealt with outsized egos of celebrities such as The Apprentice's Donald Trump, says he was surprised by the Palins' casual nature. "If you knew nothing about the political world, they're like any other relatable family," Burnett says. "They're genuine, fun and, if there's one thing people can take from the show, normal. They didn't take themselves too seriously, which is a nice quality and makes for an authentic show. "Palin says she's pleased with the series. "Critics are going to say what they're going to say," she says.
"I think the show is amazing and the scenery spectacular. It shows a real family with the same challenges and joys as any other. There's no made-up drama. What I didn't want to do is sit around talking about feelings and that kind of stuff. That's not our real life.'
'Who knows what she'll do?' Palin's campaign efforts on behalf of Fairbanks lawyer Joe Miller may not have panned out in Alaska's U.S. Senate race, but her backing of scores of Tea Party candidates helped them win five Senate, 15 House and six gubernatorial races, Politico says. "Lots of candidates (who) pundits said had no chance of winning — all the more reason for their messages to be heard," Palin says.
Potentially headed for political obscurity after the 2008 election and her abrupt resignation as Alaska governor in July 2009, Palin has become a force within the Republican Party.
A pre-election cover story in New York magazine suggested Palin could win the 2012 presidential race as a third-party candidate. The Daily Beast, a left-leaning website, weighed in with an opinion piece headlined "How to Derail Palin." Politico reports that mainstream Republicans are mounting a "Stop Sarah" campaign, fearful that her appeal, while strong among the party's most conservative members, isn't broad enough to win nationwide.Palin's parents, Chuck and Sally Heath, would prefer Palin to remain a private citizen. "I don't see why she needs to do this," says Chuck, 72, a retired Wasilla schoolteacher."She has so much to offer," Sally says. "But I say don't do it. It's too painful." "Who knows what she'll do?" says Todd, a soft-spoken snow machine racer, commercial fisherman and outdoorsman who was sought for ABC's Dancing With the Stars show before daughter Bristol agreed to sign up for this season. "He's my Captain America," Sarah says.
Palin, who says she'll run if "there's nobody else to do it," remains coy about 2012 and beyond while promoting Alaska through a few media outlets — including People magazine and Entertainment Tonight, whose fawning co-host, Mary Hart, presents an eye-rolling Palin with a "Palin for President 2012" T-shirt at the end of a lengthy autumn afternoon schmooze. "If it came down to raising money and fighting the political machine, it sure won't be me," Palin says of seeking the GOP nomination.
What about running as a third-party candidate?Palin pauses. "If people are tired of what they get out of big money and big machines running campaigns and candidates who have to compromise, then the American electorate would look to someone like me.
"Running for office, however, would mean leaving money on the table. Palin pulled in about $5 million from her 2009 best seller, Going Rogue: An American Life. She could make as much or more from the release Nov. 23 of America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith, and Flag. The new book, parts of which she says were composed in the family RV and on her back patio, is "a compilation on historic and present-day writings and some pop culture, things that have influenced me to be an American," she says.
Palin also is in demand on the lecture circuit, where she draws up to $100,000 an appearance. She's also being paid for Alaska but says it's nothing close to the widely reported $2 million.
"As it pencils out, it's not even half of that," she says. "All these things are lucrative, but for Todd and me, money is the last thing that drives us," Palin says. "Being raised by a schoolteacher in a big household, we had to work hard for everything we had. Todd's never stopped working. We were fulfilled when we were living paycheck to paycheck. "Palin says she will continue to speak her mind, "callin' it like I see it — and bringing to life issues that should be part of the national debate."
This week she blasted Ben Bernanke, urging the Federal Reserve chairman to "cease and desist" a $600 billion economic stimulus plan." I haven't played it safe," Palin says before a short SUV hop to Finger Lake Elementary School, where she catches Piper's basketball game before retrieving Trig from a dental procedure. "I don't play that game. I'm not wired that way."
Debt Plan Ideas Draw Scorn of Liberals and Tea Party
November 11, 2010
WASHINGTON — By putting deep spending cuts and substantial tax increases on the table, President Obama’s bipartisan debt-reduction commission has exposed fissures in both parties, underscoring the volatile nature and long odds of any attempt to address the nation’s long-term budget problems.
Among Democrats, liberals are in near revolt against the White House over the issue, even as substantive and political forces push Mr. Obama to attack chronic deficits in a serious way. At the same time, Republicans face intense pressure from their conservative base and the Tea Party movement to reject any deal that includes tax increases, leaving their leaders with little room to maneuver in any negotiation and at risk of being blamed by voters for not doing their part.
Mr. Obama, on a diplomatic tour of Asia in which the fiscal condition of the United States has been a recurring backdrop, maintained his silence on Thursday about the particulars of the draft deficit-reduction plan the commission chairmen had released the day before.
“The only way to make those tough choices historically has been if both parties are willing to move forward together,” he said at a news conference in Seoul, South Korea. “And so before anybody starts shooting down proposals, I think we need to listen, we need to gather up all the facts. I think we have to be straight with the American people.”
Mr. Obama’s stance was at the request of the chairmen, Alan K. Simpson, a former Republican Senate leader, and Erskine B. Bowles, a White House chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, who wanted to avoid any statements that might prejudice the panel’s deliberations before its Dec. 1 deadline. But it was also a response to the outcry from both conservatives against taxes and from Mr. Obama’s liberal base against the plan’s proposed long-term cuts in domestic programs across the board, including Social Security and Medicare.
The liberals are already frustrated with the White House on issues like the Afghanistan war and what to do about the Bush-era tax cuts, which expire Dec. 31, and are increasingly uncertain about Mr. Obama’s willingness to fight for long-held party priorities. That question loomed over a meeting at the White House on Thursday between progressive activists and administration aides about strategy for dealing with the Bush tax cuts in the Congressional lame-duck session that begins next week.
Several activists who attended said in interviews that they sought reassurance after a report Thursday suggesting that the White House was prepared to acquiesce in extending the tax cuts for income above $250,000, as Republicans have demanded.
While David Axelrod, Mr. Obama’s senior strategist, subsequently denied that the White House position had shifted, the immediate suspicion among liberals that the administration was abandoning them reflected broader insecurity among the president’s allies on the left that he would move to center for the rest of his term.
“Dealing seriously with these things is fraught with political peril for both parties, but at some point not dealing with these issues is also fraught with political peril,” Mr. Axelrod said in an interview.
So riled are some liberals about the Bowles-Simpson plan that, privately, several suggested that if Mr. Obama were to embrace its major parts, he would invite a primary challenge in 2012.
Republican Congressional leaders, three of whom are on the commission, similarly remained neutral about the draft, even as conservative groups condemned its proposals to raise revenues.
To these groups, the plan’s call to drastically lower income tax rates for individuals and corporations holds no appeal. That is because the reductions are tied to proposals to restrict or repeal tax breaks for investors and corporations, with additional tens of billions of dollars in revenue left over to reduce deficits.
The Web site of Americans for Tax Reform, which is led by the influential antitax activist Grover Norquist, warned Republicans bluntly, “Support for the commission chair plan would be a violation of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which over 235 congressmen and 41 senators have made to their constituents.”
Republicans would also be looking over their shoulders at the growing ranks of the Tea Party. Ryan Hecker, from the Houston chapter, said it would be “a big mistake” for Republicans to go along with tax increases. “I think that is something that would not sit well with members of the Tea Party,” he said.
Emboldened by their victories, Tea Party members are mobilizing for 2012 to work against any Republican who shows signs of compromising. Among Republicans who may well face rivals in the 2012 party primaries are Senators Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Richard Lugar of Indiana and Orrin G. Hatch of Utah.
Mr. Lugar, who began his long Senate career as indisputably conservative but is now seen by many as a moderate as the party has turned further right, said the Tea Party was no “irresponsible fringe” in an essay this week for a publication of the Ripon Society, a moderate Republican group. But, he added, Republicans must not reflexively oppose everything Democrats propose.
“Opposing unsound administration policies remains important,” Mr. Lugar wrote, adding, “But simple, unadorned ‘opposition’ is mistaken, from both the policy and political perspectives.”
With Republicans taking charge of the House, they face pressure to go beyond campaign claims and produce a budget with cuts that live up to their promises.
“There is a ton of postelection survey evidence that the American people are fed up with rejectionism, and want the parties to work harder to find common ground,” said William A. Galston, a former adviser to Mr. Clinton. “But there’s a caveat, and this is critical: While a majority of independents, Democrats and swing voters are for compromise over standing on principle, a majority of Republican voters are against compromise and for standing on principle.”
Certainly Mr. Obama’s inclination, before the election drubbing, was to turn to major long-term reductions in projected annual deficits and to make changes that would ensure Social Security’s solvency until the end of this century. But if he chooses a path like that, he must take time to educate the public about the tradeoffs, said Geoff Garin, a Democratic pollster and strategist.
“What he did in health care was he engaged Washington without first trying to engage America,” Mr. Garin said. “And on deficit reduction it has to work the other way around. For the next two years, who he is as president is as important as what he does as president.”
Steele foes maneuvering to block second term as Republican chairman
May dangle alternate party post as inducement to leave
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele addresses an election night results watch rally in Washington, November 2, 2010. (JIM YOUNG, REUTERS / November 2, 2010)
The Baltimore Sun
7:46 p.m. EST
November 11, 2010
As Michael S. Steele decides whether to seek another term as Republican national chairman, a faction within the party hierarchy is working aggressively behind the scenes to oppose a bid.
Party leaders have remained divided over Steele's administration since his 2009 election, and members of the party's national committee say that his expected effort to win re-election would mean a bruising intra-party fight.
"I think there will be numerous candidates," said Katon Dawson, a former South Carolina Republican chairman who lost to Steele and may run again. "Sometime next week, the pack will start breaking loose, because otherwise you'll start to run out of time."
His critics say Steele, a former Maryland lieutenant governor, is the wrong person to lead the national committee into the next election, when Republicans hope to defeat President Barack Obama and complete a takeover of Congress.
With Republican lawmakers gaining influence in Washington and the presidential contest about to begin, these critics contend, the party needs a chairman who can raise money and keep the internal apparatus running smoothly.
"It's not a matter of firing him. It's a matter of who we're going to hire to do the job for the next two years," said Jim Bopp, a national committeeman from Indiana who voted against Steele two years ago because he did not believe the Fox News commentator was conservative enough.
"I think he's demonstrated that he's not a successful fundraiser and he's not a good manager," said Bopp. "When he was running the first time, his principal asset was said to be his ability to command attention for our message. Of course, the opposite proved to be true."
A stream of major gaffes, along with embarrassing revelations about mismanagement and deepening money woes at party headquarters, have fueled anti-Steele sentiment since his election almost two years ago.
Steele surprised and angered Republican leaders, including those in Congress, when he decided to supplement his annual salary of $223,000 plus benefits by writing a book and picking up speaking fees. Among his remarks that angered fellow Republicans was a prediction earlier this year that the party would not take back the House in 2010 and a comment that the conflict in Afghanistan, begun under a Republican administration and widely supported by Republican officials, was "a war of Obama's choosing."
The Republican National Committee election is set for mid-January in Washington. Before then, a candidate would need to raise enough money to travel the country and solicit votes from the 168 national committee members who will choose the next chairman.
Steele has not declared his candidacy but signaled plans to run to some RNC members privately last month. Insiders say he can count on at least 40 to 50 of the 85 votes needed to win, with roughly an equal number firmly opposed and the rest undecided.
Saul Anuzis, a national committeeman from Michigan who was one of several unsuccessful candidates for the job Steele won, said recent conversations with RNC colleagues convinced him of a "growing consensus" for a change at the top. After his defeat, Anuzis was given a national party position by Steele, but may take him on again.
At least a half-dozen Republicans, mainly party insiders largely unknown to the general public, are considered potential candidates. Perhaps the most intriguing possibility is Reince Priebus, the Wisconsin Republican chairman, who helped oversee one of the party's most sweeping victories in this month's election.
Priebus, a close Steele ally, has advised Steele that he could have trouble winning re-election and might want to consider stepping down when his term ends in January, The New York Times reported this week, citing anonymous anti-Steele Republicans as sources.
Priebus, who did not respond to an emailed request for comment, may have backed off a tentative plan to run after Steele "screamed" at him on a phone call last weekend. RNC spokesman Doug Heye said he could not comment about the purported conversation, which was relayed by an RNC member who opposes Steele's re-election; Heye said party lawyers have advised him that, as an RNC employee, he may not be involved in the RNC leadership contest.
The anti-Steele forces, said to include former Bush political adviser Karl Rove, insist they are gaining ground. But the party's recent midterm election triumph may prompt RNC members to resist a change, in spite of Steele's uneven performance.
Bob Bennett, a longtime RNC member from Ohio, said Steele's re-election "prospects are pretty good. He just led the party to probably the best victory we've had in 60 years."
He said Steele had "done a good job" under the circumstances, including not having an incumbent president to help raise money for the national party.
"To the winner goes the spoils," said Sharon Day, a national committeewoman from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. She said Steele deserves "some credit" for the party's 2010 successes, even though "he hasn't been a perfect chairman."
She said she would be "forever appreciative" of Steele's 48-state "Fire Pelosi" bus tour, which gave a well-timed morale boost to several long shot congressional candidates in her state who eventually won.
"That meant as much to me as anything he has done," said Day. "I think the bus trip was very important."
Steele's antagonists dismiss the tour as nothing more than an effort to preserve his job.
"You can make a reasonable argument that those hundreds of thousands of dollars could have been better used," said Chris Healy, the Connecticut Republican chairman, who is considering a run for chairman.
Healy also criticized Steele's trip in September "on the RNC dime" to the U.S. territories of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. Votes from the 18 RNC members from island territories and Hawaii were key to Steele's upset victory, and he has remained attentive to their interests, holding a first-ever RNC meeting in Hawaii last winter and visiting Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
Among the issues Steele would have to deal with in a reelection contest is the state of the party's finances.
The RNC ended the 2010 campaign in debt, which is not unusual. But the size of the deficit — about $22 million, according to two national committee members — could raise fresh questions about his capacity to attract the vast sums needed for 2012. RNC spokesman Heye said he could not confirm the debt figure, which has yet to be disclosed.
Among those working to supplant Steele is Henry Barbour, a Republican committeeman from Mississippi. His uncle, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, is a former RNC chairman who partially eclipsed Steele as a national Republican spokesman in the closing weeks of this fall's campaign.
The governor is a potential presidential candidate, making it highly unlikely that his nephew could challenge Steele directly.
Politicians in both parties are leery of close ties between presidential contenders and national party officials, who are expected to remain neutral during the primary season. For that reason, some Republicans have privately expressed concern about speculation that former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin might endorse Steele for chairman.
Palin, one of the most popular potential presidential candidates, appeared with Steele last month in California and Florida, and he recently came to her defense on national TV by advising her critics to "shut up." The RNC provided about $250,000 earlier this year to help Palin retire legal bills dating from the 2008 campaign in exchange for her help with fundraising, and Steele spokesman Heye has said they have a "great working relationship."
Since the midterm election, Steele has given vague answers about when he would formally announce his plans. If he ran and lost, it could diminish his reputation and future earning power, which even his strongest critics say he's cagey enough to recognize.
"Why Steele is even attempting a run is beyond me. He can take credit for the Republican victory and go right back on as a Fox News contributor," said a Republican official who requested that his name not be used so he could speak freely on the matter. "Running and losing is not a good option for Michael Steele. Stepping down and moving aside is a heck of an option."
Posted: 1:57 AM, November 11, 2010
WASHINGTON -- Today is Veter ans Day. Do you know where your president is?
With his feeble flame of "hope" thoroughly doused here in the United States by last week's elections, President Obama has set out around the globe in search of throngs still enthralled by his flowery rhetoric.
He found them, of course, in Indonesia this week by telling them about how Americans must stop mistrusting Islam.
So that is why your president is halfway around the world instead of being here in the United States to celebrate the sacrifices American soldiers, sailors and airmen have made around the world to keep the real, still-burning flame of freedom alive.
KOREA MOVE: President Obama is greeted yesterday in Seoul, where he arrived for the G20 summit.
Obama honored our veterans from afar by laying a wreath during a ceremony at an Army base in South Korea last night.
That is a distance from here matched only by the chasm that has opened up between him and the voters who elected him two years ago.
This aloofness of his really is becoming a problem.
Not that Obama doesn't appreciate the sacrifices of veterans. He absolutely does. Just ask the Indonesians.
He was in Jakarta for their Heroes Day this week to honor their veterans "who have sacrificed on behalf of this great country."
"This great country," of course, being Indonesia.
"When my stepfather was a boy, he watched his own father and older brother leave home to fight and die in the struggle for Indonesian independence," Obama told the audience.
And the White House wonders why so many people think there is something foreign about this guy.
In the same speech, Obama gave voice to a harsh criticism he has heard about freely elected governments.
"Today, we sometimes hear that democracy stands in the way of economic progress," he said.
The shocking statement raises the question: Where has Obama heard this fatuous claim and with whom has he been talking politics?
Thankfully, your president tepidly disputed this calumny against democracy, but the alarming questions remain. He went on to tell the Indonesians, "Democracy is messy."
"Not everyone likes the results of every election. You go through ups and downs," he said.
At least it sounds like Obama is starting to get the message voters sent him last week.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Last updated: 5:30 pm
Expectant father allegedly lights joint at Uniontown hospital
Some expectant fathers pass out cigars to celebrate the arrival of a newborn child.
In Fayette County, one new dad is accused of celebrating by lighting up a marijuana cigarette -- in a hospital's designated smoking area.
Uniontown police Sgt. Jonathan Grabiak said a Uniontown Hospital nurse noticed the distinctive odor of marijuana when she took a cigarette break in the facility's designated smoking area early Tuesday morning. In a written report, Grabiak described the area as an enclosed shed on Delaware Avenue.
The nurse observed two men in the shed, but she did not see either smoking marijuana.
A hospital security officer who called police at 3:20 a.m. directed Grabiak to the two men, who at that time were walking in front of the hospital.
Grabiak said both men had glassy eyes. One of the men admitted to smoking marijuana in the shed while awaiting the birth of his child.
"I'm having a baby and wanted to get a buzz," the man told Grabiak.
The man reached into one of his shoes and pulled out a plastic bag containing suspected marijuana.
Grabiak told the man he will be charged with possession of marijuana, but no charges had been filed as of yesterday. The man was released to a family member and told to leave the hospital.
Amazon sells How-To guide for pedophiles, won't pull book despite instant customer backlashJaime Uribarri
Kamm/GettyAmazon.com says it has no plans to stop selling the offensive book, despite the backlash.
Amazon.com has something for every type of customer - even pedophiles.
The online retail giant is facing a huge public backlash for selling the digital book "The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure: A Child-Lover's Code of Conduct" on its Kindle electronic reader.
Retailing at $4.79, the disgusting, how-to book written by a degenerate named Phillip R. Greaves promotes itself as a guide that appeals "to the better nature of pedosexuals, with hope that their doing so will result in less hatred and perhaps liter [sic] sentences should they ever be caught."
Public reaction has been swift and angry, with hundreds of infuriated customers flooding the book's review section and calling for a boycott of Amazon.
"I will never buy another item from Amazon. You have crossed a line that is unconscionable. Goodbye, Amazon.com," wrote one customer using the screen name 'Child Protector.'
Despite the increasing negative reaction, Amazon claims it has no immediate plans to remove the book from its online inventory.
"Amazon does not support or promote hatred or criminal acts, however, we do support the right of every individual to make their own purchasing decisions," the Seattle-based company said in a statement released to TechCrunch and other blogs.
Chris Joyner, USA TODAY
JACKSON, Miss. — A Mississippi high school student has sued his school district, claiming his football coach dismissed him from the team for wearing pink cleats during October's Breast Cancer Awareness Month.According to the suit, filed last week in Simpson County Chancery Court, Mendenhall High School football coach Chris Peterson dressed down Coy Sheppard, a 17-year-old senior kicker, during an Oct. 8 football game for wearing the cleats.When Sheppard arrived at practice the next week wearing the shoes, Peterson cut him from the squad, says Oliver Diaz, a former state Supreme Court justice representing Coy.Because students in the Simpson County School District earn academic credit for sports, Diaz said, Coy's "graduation may be in jeopardy."District Deputy Superintendent Tom Duncan said the problem isn't the color of Coy's shoes but that the student ignored the orders of his coaches to take off the shoes."It had absolutely nothing to do with lack of support for breast cancer awareness," he said. Duncan also said the coach told Coy he would be allowed to make up his lost PE credit and graduate on time.The shoes were a present from Coy's 82-year-old great-grandmother, and he wore them in honor of his grandmother and step-grandmother, both cancer survivors, said his mother, JoAnne Sheppard. She said her son, who also plays soccer and works part time, has never been in trouble before.Busy with soccer practice and his after-school job, Coy was not available for comment, his mother said. The coach, she said, "belittled" her son. "That's hard from someone you look up to," she said.Diaz said Coy has apologized and promised to leave the pink shoes at home, but school officials have not budged. School board President Larry rell said he hopes the dispute can be worked out."I wish it could have been handled differently, where there could have been some compromise," he said. "I think all the kid wants is to play football and finish out the year."Coy's lawsuit asks the court to reinstate him to the football team, clear his record and for any monetary damages to go to the American Cancer Society.The school district has 30 days from the Nov. 4 filing to respond.
November 9, 2010
Behavior: Too Much Texting Is Linked to Other Problems
RONI CARYN RABIN
A new study suggests that the high school students who spend the most time texting or on social network sites (or both) are at risk for a host of worrisome behaviors, including smoking, depression, eating disorders, drug and alcohol abuse, and absenteeism.
The study by researchers at Case Western Reserve University, presented Tuesday at a meeting of the American Public Health Association in Denver, is based on data from questions posed last year to more than 4,000 students at 20 urban high schools in Ohio. About one-fifth sent at least 120 text messages a day, one-tenth were on social networks for three hours or more, and 4 percent did both.
That 4 percent were at twice the risk of nonusers for fighting, smoking, binge drinking, becoming cyber victims, thinking about suicide, missing school and dozing off in class.
The researchers emphasized that texting and social networking did not necessarily cause the other problems. But the lead author, Dr. Scott Frank, a family physician who is director of the public-health master’s program at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, said:
“It does make sense that these technologies make it easier for kids to fall into a trap of working too hard to fit in. If they’re working that hard to fit in through their social networks, they’re also trying to fit in through other behaviors they perceive as popular, like smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol, having sex and getting involved in higher-risk adolescent behaviors.”
Girls, members of minorities, and teenagers from low-income backgrounds or female-headed households were at greater risk, but the pattern persisted even after researchers controlled for those factors. (One in five teenagers reported no texting and no online social networking at all.)
Dr. Frank noted that the most avid texters and social networkers also rated their parents as more permissive. “This is a red flag for parents — a red flag for their parenting,” he said, “because they need to be monitoring and taking charge of the choices their kids are making. We want parents to set more restrictive rules for their kids regarding texting and networking, just as they would set rules about whether their child can go out on a school night and socialize for three hours.”
Originally Published:Monday, November 8th 2010, 3:52 PM
Updated: Monday, November 8th 2010, 4:05 PM
Jerry Jones kept saying Wade Phillips would not be fired during the season, but even Jones could not take it anymore.
He fired Phillips on Monday, a day after the Cowboys disgraced themselves in a 45-7 loss to the Packers. Dallas is now 1-7 and it won't get any easier this Sunday when they play the red-hot Giants in the New Meadowlands Stadium. Two weeks ago, the Giants KOd Cowboys QB Tony Romo for the season with a broken clavicle in a 41-35 loss.
Phillips will be replaced on an interim basis by offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, who in 2008 turned down the Ravens and Falcons head coaching jobs to remain in Dallas. Garrett was always considered the natural successor to Phillips, but not under these circumstances.
Garrett, who once was the backup quarterback to Troy Aikman in Dallas, also was Kerry Collins' backup on the Giants team that went to the Super Bowl following the 2000 season.
The Cowboys start is their worst since Jones' first year owning the club in 1989 when Dallas finished 1-15. But Jones and Jimmy Johnson had inherited the worst team in the league from Tom Landry. This year, the Cowboys were a popular preseason pick to make it to the Super Bowl, which will be played in Jones' year-old $1.2 billion Cowboys Stadium in Arlington on Feb. 6. But the Cowboys opened the season with losses to the Redskins and Bears and never recovered.
Last year, the Cowboys finished strong in the regular season and then defeated the Eagles in the wild-card round, their first playoff victory since 1996. But they lost 34-3 in the divisional round to the Vikings.
Phillips, 63, took over for Bill Parcells in 2007 and finishes with a 34-22 record in the regular season and a 1-2 playoff record. Phillips' contract runs through the 2011 season. This is the first time Jones has fired a coach in the middle of the season.
10:48 AM, November 8, 2010
This kid has something to fist-pump about.
High-school sophomore Ricky Smith has been collecting up to $15,000 an event in cover charges for hosting drug- and alcohol-free teen dance parties throughout the city.
Called "Lost Generation," the series of parent-friendly parties attracts up to 500 teens from elite Manhattan public and private schools to lofts and clubs for a night of nonstop, juvenile booty-shaking.
"My goal was to monopolize the teen party business in New York City," said Smith, who organized five megaparties this year.
Each party -- advertised on Facebook and by individual promoters he recruited in dozens of schools -- is staffed with professional bouncers who have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to booze, dope or fisticuffs.
"It's like walking into a club -- usually a lot of house music and popular music you'd hear on the radio," he said. "Lots of dancing and, yes, fist-pumping."
Music is provided by aspiring teen deejays.
Some older teens scoff at the whole concept, but for Smith, a sophomore at the Professional Performing Arts School, it just means better business to focus on 14- to 15-year-olds.
They like it, he said, because older teens aren't around to intimidate them and parents, especially girls' parents, feel it's a safer environment.
Still, his budding business, which is overseen by Smith's father, Donald, has had hiccups.
His planned Oct. 30 party in a Garment District loft was canceled at the last minute when he couldn't come up with the necessary $3,000 deposit and had trouble getting the proper permits.
Smith used his Facebook page to blame the adult who brokers space for events.
What happened next was a lesson for the 40-year-
old broker, who was barraged by hateful and threatening e-mails.
He finally had to threaten to call the cops before the lower Manhattan teen told his followers to back off.
"I have a lot of admiration for him, and he has a lot of promise," the broker said. "Ricky is a smart kid but, nevertheless, a kid still."
Ricky said he doesn't see a career in the club or party promotion business.
"I want to work in math or science, my strong subjects," he said.
Obama blames economy for losses, says he gets 'discouraged' but is resilient
President Obama blamed a sluggish economy for heavy Democratic electoral losses on Sunday's “60 Minutes.”
“I think first and foremost, [the election] was a referendum on the economy. And the party in power was held responsible for an economy that is still underperforming and where a lot of folks are still hurting,” said the president.
Asked whether he accepted Republicans’ claim that the election sends a clear message that Americans’ want smaller government, Obama said, “I think that first and foremost, they want jobs and economic growth in this country.”
Giving his first in-depth interview since a disastrous election day for Democrats, a downbeat Obama focused on his role in the electoral defeats.
The president accepted he should be held accountable for the state of the economy. “So, what you had was the economy continuing to get worse in the first several months of my administration, before any of our economic policies had a chance to be put into place," he said. "Appropriately, I’m held accountable for that.”
He also admitted to being discouraged by the lack of economic growth, saying, “I do get discouraged, I mean, there are times where I thought the economy would have gotten better by now.”
Obama said his administration’s economic policies had avoided another Great Depression, but slow economic growth could remain a long-term problem: “What is a danger is that we stay stuck in a new normal where unemployment rates stay high… And, as a consequence, we keep on seeing growth that is just too slow to bring back the eight million jobs that were lost.”
Nevertheless, he remained optimistic about the future: “I am constantly reminded that we have been through worse times than these, and we've always come out on top. And I'm positive that the same thing is going to happen this time.”
Two years after sweeping to victory on the promise of bringing “change” to Washington, Obama acknowledged that he has not always succeeded in promoting bipartisan dialogue.
“Part of my promise to the American people when I was elected was to maintain the kind of tone that says we can disagree without being disagreeable. And I think over the course of two years, there have been times where I’ve slipped on that commitment.”
He reinforced his stated desire to work with Republicans in the next Congress, hoping to find compromises on the extension of the Bush tax cuts and infrastructure projects. “What I’m going to do is I’m going to reach out to Republicans and I’m going to say, ‘There -- what can we work on together?’”
Yet the president said he had been disappointed by a lack of Republican support in the past, particularly in reference to the healthcare bill: “We thought that if we shaped a bill that wasn’t that different from bills that had previously been introduced by Republicans -- including a Republican governor in Massachusetts who’s now running for president. That we would be able to find some common ground there. And we just couldn’t.”
He said the healthcare bill had been “costly politically” because it distracted from the administration’s economic policies.
Despite the heavy setbacks on Tuesday, the president said he had resilience to make it through.
“You know, I'll get knocked down a couple of times," he said. "But whatever I'm going through, it's nothing like what families around the country are going through.”
Calif. fugitive tracked down in Cut Bank after Facebook posts
Thursday, November 4, 2010 12:18 am
A man who absconded from parole in California 12 years ago after shooting a man has been arrested in Cut Bank, where authorities say he’s been working harvests for a decade.
Sgt. Tom Siefert of the Glacier County Sheriff’s Office said a fugitive task force in California learned Robert Lewis Crose, 47, was working in the Cut Bank area from updates to Crose’s Facebook page.
He was on parole following prison for a 1996 incident in Ventura, Calif., in which Crose, then the owner of an appliance store, used a shotgun to fend off an intruder armed with a rubber hose, according to reports from the Los Angeles Times.
He was convicted of making a terrorist threat and another gun violation, served less than a year in prison before being released on parole, had his parole revoked, and was paroled again in October 1998.
California authorities sent pictures of Crose to Montana, which police and deputies handed out around town Friday. Saturday around 11:30 a.m., they got a call saying Crose was in a local casino, where he was arrested without incident.
“I talked to him, he said he’d worked cutting up here, harvesting, for the last 10 years,” Siefert said.
Several of his recent Facebook postings give a glimpse of his recent life. A couple of times, he mentioned snow. Oct. 24, he wrote, “Cutting barley in the rocks on the border sucks be so glad to be done.”
And Oct. 26, he wrote that he won $600 playing keno.
The morning of Oct. 28, he wrote that a water line had frozen in the sub-20 degree weather. When a friend asked where he was, he responded, “Cut Bank.”
“I said, listen, man, you’ve got to stay off Facebook,” Siefert said. “He kind of hung his head and laughed.”
It’s not the first time criminals have given themselves away online in Glacier County. A few years ago, Siefert said, a local youth posted videos of himself smoking marijuana on YouTube, leading to a search warrant and arrest.
Crose is in Glacier County Jail as California initiates the extradition process, Siefert said.
LINK TO PHOTO
November 3, 2010 02:01 AM
In 2009 the White House Underestimated the Economic Devastation, in 2010 Democrats Paid the Price
For all the hours of pre-election predictions and post-vote analysis, the 2010 midterms came down to a very simple truth: If unemployment were near double digits come November, Democrats would take a beating.
It is, and they have.
Exit polls found that nearly nine in ten voters believe the economy is in bad shape. The same percentage said they feel pessimistic about America's economic future. That's practically everyone!
And while a large majority of voters still believe that George Bush is to blame for getting us into this mess, they are clearly holding Obama accountable for not fixing it.
The Pottery Barn rule -- "you break it, you own it" -- was given a twist tonight. Turns out, sometimes even if you weren't the one who broke it, you own it. So it is with our broken economy. Bush broke it, but Obama, underestimating just how broken it is, owns it.
Indeed, the president laid claim to it back in July 2009 when, during a speech in Michigan, he strayed from his prepared text and said: "I love these folks who helped get us in this mess and then suddenly say, 'Well, this is Obama's economy.' That's fine. Give it to me!"
Many compared it to Bush's defiant "Bring 'em on!" And like that brash taunt, Obama's has doubled back to kick him in the butt.
He now owns an economy that 9 out of 10 people are unhappy with. Is it any wonder that they took their ire out on the Democrats?
With the "real unemployment" figures around 17 percent, it means almost no one in the country isn't being adversely affected by the economy -- or knows someone who is. And they were not going to be mollified by health care reform that doesn't kick in until 2014 and financial reform that isn't slowing down foreclosures or making borrowing money easier for small businesses.
As a result, voters no longer trust Democrats to fix things. Hard to believe, but Collier County in Florida, the county with the biggest unemployment jump in the country from March 2009 to March 2010, voted Republican.
Democrats still have the White House and still have the Senate, but they better do something about the economic devastation if they want to win back Collier County -- and the trust of the American people.
Jackson woman arrested for front-yard pot plant
Laurie Welch - Times-News writer
Friday, November 5, 2010 1:05 am
BURLEY — A Jackson woman faces felony drug charges after an anonymous tip led police to marijuana growing in her front yard.
Cassia County sheriff’s deputies and a Mini-Cassia Drug Task Force officer say they found 1.46 pounds of marijuana and 3 grams of white powder that tested positive for amphetamine at the home of Laurie M. Donald, 48. They also recovered various pipes, rolling papers and torches from the property.
Donald is charged with felony drug trafficking in marijuana, manufacturing a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia. She is scheduled for a preliminary hearing in Cassia County 5th District Magistrate Court at 9 a.m. Thursday.
Donald was released from the Mini-Cassia Criminal Justice Center on Tuesday, after her $5,000 bond was reduced from $25,000.
Court reports state that on Oct. 21, a deputy arrived at Donald’s home and knocked on her door, but no one answered.
As he was leaving he noticed a 4-foot-high marijuana plant at the southeast corner of her front yard.
A search warrant was issued for the home and police returned to Donald’s residence, although she was still not home. Deputies found her cell phone number and spoke with her, learning that she was in Jackpot, Nev.
By Oct. 26, police had still not made face-to-face contact with Donald.
A warrant was issued for her arrest on Oct. 29, when she was also taken into custody.
The baby, born last week in the southern city of Jerez de la Frontera, weighed 6 pounds, 4 ounces. Micaela Navarro, the Andalusia region's social affairs minister, said mother and child, whose gender was not revealed, are doing fine.
An official with the Spanish Justice Ministry in Madrid told the Associated Press that, under Spanish law, having consensual sex with someone under age 13 is classified as child abuse. But no criminal investigation is underway; it's not clear the underage father could be charged.
Time says the young mother is not the youngest on record.
Earlier this year, a 9-year-old schoolgirl in northeast China gave birth to a healthy baby boy. In 2008, another 10-year-old girl in Idaho, who got pregnant at age 9, carried a baby to term. And back in 1939, as Time reported, Lina Medina of Peru, became pregnant at the age of 5 years, 8 months, and became a mother by age 6 years, 5 months.
Time also writes that the mother told hospital staff that 10 years old is not considered young in Romania.
FDLE: Holly Hill woman tried to sell grandson for $30K
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement arrested 45-year-old Patty Bigbee on Friday on charges that she tried to sell her 12-week-old grandson.
| The Florida Department of Law Enforcement arrested 45-year-old Patty Bigbee, of Holly Hill, on Friday after they said she tried to sell her 12-week old grandson. (Volusia County Branch Jail / November 5, 2010)
Orlando Sentinel 9:47 p.m. EDT
Nov. 5, 2010
Four cures for Obama's woes
Roland S. Martin, CNN Contributor
November 6, 2010
10:35 a.m. EDT
Editor's note: Roland S. Martin is a syndicated columnist and author of "The First: President Barack Obama's Road to the White House." He is a commentator for TV One Cable network and host of a Sunday morning news show.
(CNN) -- The election results on Tuesday are a bitter pill for the president and his supporters to swallow. To be essentially routed by the Republican Party from top to bottom goes beyond humbling. It is a wholesale rejection of the Democratic Party, and by extension, many of the policies championed by President Obama.
So what world do we face now?
In many ways, I view the first half of President Obama's term like the first half of a basketball game, the president's favorite sport. Some things good, some bad, at times leading, but now, clearly losing at the half. And like any smart team leader, his job now is to go into the locker room and make some pivotal halftime adjustments.
Here are the four adjustments I think the president must make to regain his footing, get back in the game and lead his team to victory.
One. Team communication is a must. When a team is defending against the pick and roll, each player must communicate to know what the other is doing. That's basketball. Poor communication also hurts in politics.
By your own admission, Mr. President, you and your team have done a poor job communicating what you are doing, why you are doing it and what it will mean for the American people. You said on Jon Stewart's show that the American people don't know a lot of the things you have done. Well, that's not their problem, that's your problem. YOU have to make it clear and cut through.
Frankly, your communications team has been weak. They have missed or flubbed opportunities to make your case. Sir, you giving a great speech is one thing, but your communications team speaking persuasively to the American people on a daily basis is another, and that has to improve.
That leads me to the second issue, Mr. President. You have GOT to pass the ball. We often hear from your aides that no one is better at communicating the issues than you. That may very well be true. But just like in basketball, you CANNOT play all five positions.
In order for a team to win, that means every player must play their role and do their job. The business community has complained your administration is anti-business. So where is Gary Locke, the Commerce secretary?
Employment is issue No. 1, so where is Labor Secretary Hilda Solis? There's a foreclosure epidemic, so where is Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan? We've said before that Attorney General Eric Holder has had a straightjacket placed on him. Discussions about energy policy? I never see Energy Secretary Stephen Chu.
It seems the only Cabinet members who have free reign to speak are Arne Duncan at Education, Hillary Clinton at State, Bob Gates at Defense and to some degree, Kathleen Sebelius at Health and Human Services. Mr. President, those may be your starters, but you need to play the bench, too. Let them engage, take some fire, deliver some blows and show folks that they are in this battle with you. There simply is no way one player can take on the opposing team all by himself.
Three. Go on the offensive. A running team knows when to push the ball up-court, hoping to put their opponent on their heels and run them out of the gym. There has been a passive attitude emanating from your administration.
Sir, when the other team continues to drive the lane and score on you, sometimes you have to deliver a few hard fouls to get their attention and send a signal. You must do the same.
Your opposition is emboldened by ripping you to shreds. Only rarely has your team engaged in the kind of fighting that can get your opponents' attention quickly. This isn't time to keep taking hits and act like they wont stick.
Mr. President, those body blows have stuck. Your White House is holding back the Democratic National Committee. It's time to let it go. Let them foul hard, be aggressive. If you don't, your opponents will do whatever they want with you, and you'll be on the losing side in two years.
Four. You've got to be the true team leader, like Michael Jordan. Magic Johnson. Oscar Robertson. Bill Russell. Hakeem Olajuwon. Kobe Bryant. When times got tough, their teammates looked to them for inspiration, energy and guidance. Right now, your teammates, the broad coalition of millions who put you into office, are confused by the conflicting messages sent out by your administration.
In many ways, this movement has been abandoned. Young folks, African-Americans, Hispanics and so many others are waiting to be engaged, to be put to work and to work with you to achieve victory. But if you're standoffish, don't talk to them regularly, don't inspire them, your agenda will never resonate with them, and you'll have a team in disarray, not knowing what to do. You want to be a transformational figure like Ronald Reagan, but that means leading your movement and keeping the members involved.
For all sports fans, and President Obama knows this, no game is won in the first or second quarter. Yes, you can fall behind and look seemingly out of it. But until the clock reads zero, zero, zero, there is always time to rebound. Mr. President, I'm often asked whether you will win a second term. Frankly, we don't know. But what I do know is that right now, you are behind and in desperate need of a second-half comeback to have any shot in 2012.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Roland S. Martin.
Donovan McNabb looking at a one-and-done season with Mike Shanahan and the Washington Redskins
Sancya/AP; McIsaac/GettyMike Shanahan (r.) benches Donovan McNabb last week in Detroit with the Redskins trailing the Lions by six with 1:50 remaining.
Donovan McNabb was benched at halftime by Eagles coach Andy Reid during a 2008 game in Baltimore. Any time that happens to an established quarterback, especially one who has taken his team to a Super Bowl, it is unexpected and humiliating.
McNabb was the starter again the following week and responded by leading the Eagles to the NFC Championship Game for the fifth time in his career.
But what happened to him last Sunday, in just his eighth game for the Redskins, was not only embarrassing, but could lead to a one-and-done season for McNabb in Washington.
McNabb is having a mediocre year, but did not deserve to be disrespected by Mike Shanahan last week in Detroit. Shanahan not only benched McNabb with the Redskins down by just six with 1:50 remaining, but he benched him for Rex Grossman.
Grossman, one of the most maligned quarterbacks of the last 10 years, had not taken a snap this season and threw nine passes for the Texans last year. On his first play, he fumbled and the Lions took it back for a touchdown.
Shanahan tried to first explain the benching by saying Grossman was more familiar with running the two-minute offense.
Grossman's offensive coordinator in Houston was Shanahan's son, Kyle, who is now the Redskins' offensive coordinator. Grossman
did not run the two-minute offense in a game in Houston.
Then on Monday, Shanahan said McNabb did not have the "cardiovascular endurance," to run the two-minute offense. He had been bothered by a hamstring injury and didn't take a full turn in practice the previous week. But these excuses are pretty lame, even if McNabb's conditioning at the end of the Super Bowl nearly six years ago was questioned after Philly's hurry-up offense had no sense of urgency.
Plenty of big-name quarterbacks have been benched at some point in their careers: Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw, Phil Simms, Kurt Warner, Drew Brees, Boomer Esiason, Drew Bledsoe, Danny White and Kerry Collins, to name just a few.
But benched with 1:50 left down six, and for a QB who has stood around for 58 minutes? Hard to recall that ever happening. Obviously, there are larger issues here. Shanahan supposedly has not been happy with McNabb, who has seven TDs and eight INTs. The Redskins have already lost on the road to the Rams and Lions and are not taking advantage of a weak year in the NFC.
McNabb is in the final year of his contract. When Shanahan traded a 2010 second-round pick and either a third- or fourth-round pick in 2011 to Philly on April 4 for McNabb, he not only didn't extend his contract, but made a serious effort to get into position to draft Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford, who went first overall to St. Louis.
Clearly, McNabb is on a one-year trial. Shanahan is taking McNabb for a test drive.
But Shanahan undermined McNabb's ability to lead this team. How can McNabb trust him? Will it happen again? Unless McNabb plays lights-out the second half of the season, I find it hard to believe he will be back in Washington next year.
Possible landing spots: If Brad Childress, who was McNabb's offensive coordinator in Philly, doesn't get fired by the Vikings, he could sign him to replace Brett Favre in 2011; McNabb has a home in the Phoenix area and the Cardinals are wasting their time with Derek Anderson and Max Hall; there was even speculation last week about the Bears trading disappointing Jay Cutler after the season to Shanahan, who coached Cutler his first three seasons in Denver, and then the Bears signing McNabb, who is from Chicago.
The Redskins are off Sunday. It's McNabb vs. the Eagles again next week. He will start. The issue is will he finish?
NFL Films' top five players of all-time in its top 100 series: Jerry Rice, Jim Brown, Lawrence Taylor, Joe Montana and Walter Payton. My top five: Brown, Taylor, Montana, Rice, Payton. But you could put those five in any order and not go wrong.
Mecea for NewsTrifon Radef walks from his home Thursday. The school janitor is accused of forcing city employees to work on his properties.
A brazen school janitor is accused of forcing city workers to renovate his nine Queens properties on weekends in exchange for overtime pay, sources told the Daily News.
Trifon Radef, who raked in more than $170,000 last year as a custodial supervisor at Theodore Roosevelt High School in the Bronx, even had an official punch-in clock in his basement, said one staffer who worked for Radef for eight years.
The Office of the Special Commissioner of Investigation has been probing Radef since a January 2010 complaint, Education Department officials confirmed yesterday.
"The taxpayers pay for everything. Forget about it. He gets away with it until somebody says something," said the worker, who, like his colleagues, requested anonymity. "I was getting paid like I work in the school, $30 per hour."
Several workers told The News employees had done tiling, painting, carpentry, plumbing and landscaping for Radef on weekends and evenings dating back to 2000.
"I didn't think anything about it - he was the boss, and I worked for him," one of the custodians said.
Workers said they were paid just as they would have been for working at a school - and one even said there was an official time clock in the basement.
City records show Radef and his wife, Betty, own nine homes in Glen Oaks and Floral Park and have renovated them in recent years.
The workers say Radef rents out the properties and sent them to buy supplies like paint with taxpayer money.
"What could I do? He was the boss. You couldn't refuse," said a custodian who worked for Radef for three years. "I needed the money. I have family."
Staffers say they were recruited from schools where Radef worked: Roosevelt, Truman High School and Junior High School 158 in Queens.
Sources also said Radef is being investigated for paying friends for no-show jobs at Roosevelt.
Radef, who refused to comment when approached outside his Glen Oaks home, pulled in $226,234 in the 2008-09 school year due to retroactive raises and an additional janitorial assignment.
One former Roosevelt employee said he was laid off recently and blames the way Radef spent the custodial budget at the school.
"He said there was no more money, but we know he's been using it for his houses," he said.
Bank robber who tried to escape by bicycle gets prison
The Associated Press
An Anchorage man has been sentenced to prison for robbing a Wells Fargo branch bank and then fleeing the scene on a bicycle.
He was caught shortly after crashing his getaway bike into a police car.
Christopher Todd Mayer was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in federal prison on Friday.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kyle French says the 47-year-old man robbed an Anchorage branch of the bank on May 27 and took $1,731.
Mayer was arrested a short distance from the bank after speeding away on a bike.
Police say Mayer crashed his bike into a patrol car, slid across the hood and took off running but was detained half a block away five minutes after the robbery.
Republican leader reiterates hope for Obama to be one-term president
November 4th, 2010
8:53 pm PT
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell held a press conference Thursday once again saying he wanted to make sure President Barack Obama would be a one-term president. This comes a day after the president called for the parties to work together.Photo: Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
One day after President Barack Obama held a press conference to say he hoped Republicans and Democrats could work together, a top Republican official once again said that would not happen.
A week before the midterm elections, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Republicans’ No. 1 priority was to make President Obama a one-term president. Well, on Thursday he said the same thing again. Instead of saying he was willing to work with Democrats to solve the problems this country faces including high unemployment, increasing deficits and an economy that is sputtering along in its recovery, he said Obama needed to move toward the right or he would get no compromise.
“Over the past week, some have said it was indelicate of me to suggest that our top political priority over the next two years should be to deny President Obama a second term in office,” McConnell said in his press conference. “But the fact is, if our primary legislative goals are to repeal and replace the health spending bill; to end the bailouts; cut spending; and shrink the size and scope of government, the only way to do all these things is to put someone in the White House who won’t veto any of these things.”
He said he wanted President Obama to be defeated in 2012 because Republicans “can’t plan” on the White House listening to the American people and cooperating on some of his party’s top political priorities – although him thinking the American people specifically want conservative ideas over liberal or moderate ideas is a little out of touch and not listening to the American people either.
McConnell said he wanted the Senate – which is still Democratically controlled – to vote multiple times on repealing the new health care law. Because he did not expect President Obama to sign a repeal though, he wanted to work with the House on denying funding for its implementation, he said.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pushed back against McConnell’s suggestions by pleading with him to stop the partisanship and work together because that was what the American people wanted in order to get the country moving again.
“It means that we are going to have to work together, and anyone who tries to take more out of that, I think there’ll be a big mistake,” Reid said. “It’s not going to be our way or the highway. It’s not going to be their way or the highway. It has to be our way to get us down the road to success.”
What the American people need and want is for this economy to get moving again, for the unemployment rate to go down and for them to know kids will have a better chance at success than previous generations.
People can argue over Obama’s policy ideas and more often than not liberals and Democrats will say they were necessary to keep this country from going into a second Great Depression. Conservatives and Republicans will say the policies were a waste and have not helped – clearly ignoring and not wanting to admit the fact that before the stimulus this country was losing 700,000 jobs a month and after the stimulus once money started trickling through the economy the private sector has seen job growth every month for almost a year.
The solutions then fall with the independent voter – remember those people who are moderate thinkers and who do not vote always with the Democrats or always with the Republicans, but with the candidate they think will best serve this country. Those voters, although they might not like how Democrats handled things, do not necessarily like how Republicans handle things either. Not all independent voters went against the Democrats for the same reasons. Some might have said Democrats did too much while others might have said Democrats did too little.
That means McConnell should not take the Republicans regaining the House and almost regaining the Senate as a sign voters full-heartedly agree with their agenda. For him to suggest President Obama needs to go with their ideas or they will not compromise is not what is best for this country.
Fight for principles
Just as Republicans have said they will not compromise on their principles if they think policies are harmful, President Obama and the Democrats should do the same. It is admirable President Obama wants to continue trying to compromise and work together with Republicans, but if he is going to keep running into complete opposition then he needs to stick with his principles and what he believes is correct as well. After hearing McConnell’s message yet again, most in the Democratic base would say OK it is absolutely time to fight.
President Obama needs to use McConnell’s words and go on the offensive. Not in a year, not months and weeks before the 2012 election, but now. McConnell has effectively said he is not going to do what is in the best interest of the American people for these next two years just because he wants the Republicans to get control of the White House.
President Obama failed to communicate his policies these past two years and how they were beneficial for the American people not just in the short term but also in the long term. He only started to go on the offensive and get his base enthusiastic in the summer but by then the damage had been done. Voters want this economy to get moving again and for the parties to work together, but if McConnell and the Republicans’ single most important thing is for President Obama to be a one-term president then President Obama needs to get out there and communicate to the American people now that the Republicans do not want this country to succeed and move out of this economic mess, they just want him to fail
Kyle James Eckman, 22, of 541 E. Orange St., Apt. 1, picked out a pair of Elle heels — which cost $69.99 — in the Kohl's store Monday night, then he took them inside a men's fitting room in the shoe department, where he put them on, city police said.
Eckman put the shoe box in a shopping bag and left the store, police said. He was stopped outside Kohl's wearing the size-10 heels. His own shoes were in the shoe box inside his shopping bag, police said.
Because he has two prior retail theft convictions, Eckman was charged with felony retail theft, police said. He also was charged with giving police a false name.
He was arraigned before District Judge Mary Sponaugle and sent to Lancaster County Prison in lieu of $50,000 cash bail, a spokeswoman at Sponaugle's office said
Domino's Pizza to pay $31,000 for one hour of work
The Associated Press • November 4, 2010
TOKYO — It's a dream job for slackers. Domino's Pizza Japan, Inc. is offering a 2.5 million yen ($31,000) part-time job in December.
The popular American pizza outlet said Thursday it will hire one person for the one-hour job, which requires neither experience nor education, only that applicants must be over 18.
The company gave no further information. Domino said it will provide details on Nov. 10.
It said the 2.5 million yen job was part of its campaign commemorating the 25th anniversary of its arrival in Japan.
The average hourly wage of part-time workers in Japan is around 1,000 yen ($12), according to the government.
Obama’s turn to change
What is the most damaging — Democrats losing control in the House, the GOP falling short of control in the Senate, the decimated ranks of centrist and conservative Democrats, the coming investigations, the loss of 19 state legislatures to the Republicans, who will now have a lock on redistricting, or the flight of independents, women and suburban voters to the GOP? For President Obama, preparing a reelection campaign for 2012, it would be hard to imagine a worse outcome to the 2010 midterm elections.
Democrats have now vacated the South and the Midwest, and Republicans have reclaimed territory Obama won in 2008, including Pennsylvania, Florida, Indiana, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin. The election shrank the Obama coalition that won in 2008, with women, independents, Roman Catholics and suburban voters all trending away from Democrats. Seniors showed up in high numbers, and a majority of them voted for Republicans.
Rural areas represented by Blue Dog Democrats were wiped out, making them much harder for Obama to win in 2012. Moreover, the loss of those conservative Democrats, combined with a GOP takeover, will make Democrats remaining in Congress — liberals in safe, mostly urban seats — likely even tougher on Obama and more confrontational in the next two years.
Polls continue to confirm that what began as a problem for Obama in his primary battle against Hillary Clinton in 2008 — the lack of support among working-class white voters — has only grown worse. A recent Associated Press-GfK poll found that white voters without four-year college degrees now support Republicans by 22 points, twice the margin they did in the 2006 and 2008 elections.
A majority of voters oppose the healthcare reform law and punished Democrats who supported it. Republicans in Congress plan to de-fund as much as they can of the law, and any Democrats remaining from swing districts will be inclined to join Republicans to support at least some, if not all, of the rescissions.
Beyond joining with Republicans to pass spending cuts, and additional tax cuts, education reform is likely the only issue fellow Democrats would like to see President Obama push in 2011. Any ideas on energy reform that have already been rejected not only by Republicans but by Democrats, even when they had more votes, are out of the question — just ask Sens. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), Jim Webb (D-Va.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and other Democrats up for reelection in 2012. Immigration reform that couples earned legalization with border security? Forget it.
Finally, the 2010 midterms showed that the flood of outside money is only just beginning. After succeeding in spending more than $50 million on the midterm elections in 2010, conservative groups that harnessed the power of deep pockets supporting Republicans with the ability to raise funds in secret plan to aim their firepower at the presidential election in 2012. Obama — who has pushed for the passage of the Disclose Act to require more transparency — will find himself drowning, at a severe financial disadvantage should he not reverse direction so that groups on the Democratic side can hit up their own allies for large donations as well.
With forces such as these at play, the White House can no longer rely on the hope that the Republicans nominate a weak candidate and the economy improves. President Obama can’t get reelected campaigning on college campuses. He will have to realize that the voters are asking him for a change, but this time they don’t want the country to change, they want him to change. To do that he must adjust, or he will lose.
Stoddard is an associate editor of The Hill.
Free coffee Fridays at Burger King
MIAMI -- Burger King is looking to put some pep into its new breakfast push by giving out free cups of coffee every Friday morning this month.
The goal is to promote the company's new breakfast menu, which rolled out in September. The company launched a major marketing blitz, with the aim of eating up some of McDonald's market-leading morning business.
Coffee, including specialty coffee drinks like mochas, has been a major driver of business for McDonald's. Now Burger King is highlighting its Seattle's Best Coffee, which it started selling earlier this year, to drive more breakfast business its way.
The company will give out free 12-ounce cups of the coffee, which sells for $1 each. No purchase is necessary. Guests can receive the coffee during breakfast hours, until about 10:30 a.m.
Burger King declined to say how much it is spending on the promotion, which will be highlighted in a marketing campaign. It expects to give away between 2 million and 4 million free cups throughout the promotion.
The chain will also give away coupons for free iced Seattle's Best Coffee for a future visit. Those drinks, in either vanilla or mocha flavors, were among nine new breakfast items the company introduced earlier this fall.
Other items include blueberry biscuits and pancake platters.
Burger King North America Chief Marketing Officer Mike Kappitt said the company is seeing a significant increase in breakfast sales and traffic. He said the new line of breakfast platters are among the more popular items.
A young Democratic president comes into office with big ambitions, gets knocked back on his heels by Republicans in the mid-term elections, then makes some deft moves to recapture the center and waltzes to re-election two years later.
It sounds easy enough. And after Tuesday night’s humiliation, it must sound tempting to President Barack Obama and his battered political team. Some commentators have even suggested that losing control of the House might be a blessing in disguise for Obama’s prospects in 2012.
But the widespread speculation that what Obama needs to do now is simply “pull a Clinton”—replicating Bill Clinton’s comeback after being trounced by Newt Gingrich in 1994—grossly underestimates the challenge that Obama faces, even if he chooses to draw on a Clinton example he once disdained.
Clinton’s revival was hardly an easy process. It was a searing experience for him and his inner circle at both the personal and political levels. It came only after a stark—and intensely humbling—effort by Clinton to overhaul his White House team, recalibrate his ideological ambitions, and rethink his basic assumptions of how to be an effective president.
And even then the outcome was a tenuous thing. Clinton caught a series of lucky breaks from events and from his own enemies. And the comeback only won him 49 percent of the vote: The man widely regarded as one of the most talented Democratic politicians of modern history never commanded a majority in a national election.
The evidence is mixed about how relevant Obama finds the Clinton example. Obama recently told the New York Times that he was reading a book about Clinton, including his dire circumstances in 1994. But the Washington Post recently quoted a “senior White House official” saying archly, “This president is not like that president.” It’s a sentiment Obama aides have often expressed, often with undisguised scorn, over the past three years.
One Clinton veteran, former White House adviser Doug Sosnik, said Obama allies should disabuse themselves of the fantasy that the Tuesday results are a blessing in disguise: “The single greatest luxury you have in politics is the ability to control your own destiny.” Obama has now sacrificed some of that ability to Republicans.
In any event, there are a number of reasons why “pulling a Clinton” is a more formidable undertaking than even many political analysts and strategists imagine:
The circular firing squad.
Clinton now is generally recalled fondly among most Democrats, and also regarded as a supremely effective politician. But in 1995, when he began a series of policy and messaging moves to move to the center—known as “triangulation” by his then-consultant Dick Morris—Clinton faced a resentful and bitterly divided party.
After he announced his support for a balanced budget, it was easy for reporters to fill up a notebook on Capitol Hill with hostile quotes from Democrats calling Clinton a quisling, especially after they learned he was being advised by a Republican consultant. Rep. Patricia Schroeder of Colorado said Republicans were playing with the president “like a kitten with a string.” Rep. David Obey of Wisconsin jeered, “I think most of us learned some time ago, if you don’t like the president’s position on a particular issue, you simply need to wait a few weeks.”
During the midst of a troubled war in Afghanistan and more polarized politics generally, Obama has a tougher challenge keeping his party unified and any moves that liberals interpreted as abandoning them for reasons of political expediency would probably earn a much harsher reaction than Clinton received.
Change is hard
Clinton’s political reassessment was carried out in tandem with an exceptionally painful personal reappraisal by both him and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. Days after the election, she broke down in tears in a conversation with Morris, confessing: “I don’t know which direction is up or down. Everything I thought was right was wrong.”
The president himself was so disoriented he looked everywhere for guidance. At Camp David, he played host to self-help gurus like Stephen Covey (“The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”) or Anthony Robbins (“Awaken the Giant Within”), whose late-night infomercials advised that people could train themselves to walk across hot coals. But he also opened his West Wing operation to talented outsiders who weren’t intimates or veterans of his campaign like then-chief of staff Leon Panetta.
Some of Clinton’s advice-seeking was eccentric, but it revealed a willingness to listen and an instinct for brutal self-critique that, at least to date, has hardly been Obama’s signature.
Out with the old
Obama advisers who suggest that he study the Clinton example do so at their peril. One of the first things Clinton did upon concluding that he needed to change was to change the people around him.
Like Obama, Clinton was initially surrounded with an exceptionally talented but sometimes brash group of advisers, who felt a sense of ownership of his presidency. They soon learned that they were tenants, not owners.
Without explaining his actions even to the people affected, Clinton simply dropped many of his advisers, such as pollster Stan Greenberg. George Stephanopoulos for months found himself coldly on the outs, fighting to get in meetings. One-time adviser Paul Begala left Washington for Texas rather than try to fight for influence with people he loathed like Morris. Clinton became weepy as he parted ways with people with whom he felt an early bond, like press secretary Dee Dee Myers.
“We hired too many young people in this White House who are smart but not wise,” Clinton told Stephanopoulos, as recounted in the latter’s memoir.
Some of the Washington operatives who are urging Obama to pattern his recovery after Clinton are also rooting for a West Wing shake-up. Obama has shown a willingness to change personnel like economic adviser Larry Summers or national security adviser Jim Jones, but he has not indicated that he thinks change is needed among aides he is more personally close to. If he eventually decides his political revival depends on this, the result may or may not be effective but almost certainly will be messy and full of Washington recriminations.
As bumpy as Clinton’s recovery was, he had an advantage. For the most part, he was returning in 1995 to a core set of values that had become obscured amid the clamor of his first two years in office.
Clinton was a centrist Democratic governor who learned in Arkansas how to navigate a conservative political environment. His speeches from the triangulation period may have seemed like lurches to the center compared to 1993, but for the most part they were lurches back to the rhetoric he had used when he began his bid for the presidency in 1991.
Some of Clinton’s moves from the period of his recovery were easy to mock, such as allowing Morris to poll where to take the family vacation and giving speeches on such non-traditional presidential topics as support for school uniforms. But these seemingly trivial moves had a serious purpose. They were part of a sustained effort to reestablish Clinton’s connection with middle-class values and concerns. Almost every day brought a new speech or new presidential directive designed to show that he could still be a robust leader even without a legislative majority behind him.
Obama, who ran for president mostly on the strength of his biography and personal qualities, does not have the same set of clear first principles to guide his political rehabilitation. And he and his aides have been vocally critical of what they regard as Clinton’s instinct for “small-bore” politics. For the Obama team to adapt Clinton political techniques would require a radical shift in their own assumptions about how to use the power of the presidency.
Clinton’s comeback benefited immeasurably from some well-timed bounces.
Ghoulish as it is to contemplate, the reality is he and his political team took advantage of the horror of the 1995 bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City to invite people to reassess him as commander in chief. The incident also put the most extreme anti-government rhetoric of Washington conservatives in a menacing light.
In Obama’s case, by contrast, no one during an age of terrorism is unaware that he is commander in chief—but issues of national security are much more contentious than in the 1990s.
Clinton was most fortunate of all that his main antagonist among the Republicans was a flamboyant and undisciplined figure like Newt Gingrich, who announced modestly, “I think I am a transformational figure.” When Gingrich whined that Clinton had made him exit from the back of Air Force One rather than invite him upfront for budget negotiations, the New York Daily News depicted him on the cover as an infant in diapers holding a baby rattle.
Obama has no reason to suppose that such stolid and conventional politicians as John Boehner, the presumptive next House speaker, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will present him with quite the same opportunities to draw politically winning contrasts.
This points to what may be the most important reason it will be hard for Obama to easily draw upon the Clinton lessons. To this day, there is considerable debate even among Clinton aides themselves what those lessons are.
People like pollster Mark Penn, a centrist and one-time Morris ally, believe the essential ingredient was Clinton reclaiming the center through such steps as endorsing a balanced budget and signing welfare reform—as a way of showing that he shared the values of swing voters. People like Begala, James Carville, and Stephanopoulos believe the more important element was Clinton’s willingness to show spine during the budget showdown with Republicans, in which the GOP took the blame for two federal government shutdowns.
Tom Freedman, a Clinton 1996 campaign hand who remains an adviser, said both conciliation and conflict are important—so long as a president keeps the conflict on favorable political and policy terrain.
"The three keys: get the policy right, welcome cooperation, but be on high ground for a possible fight and be ready to win," Freedman said.
So, despite the obstacles, is the Clinton experience relevant to Obama? Veterans of that White House say it is—within limits.
“I don’t think it’s a perfect match, but I think it has some relevance,” said Don Baer, a former White House communications director. The most important similarity is Obama’s need to show he can be “the nation’s leader even beyond what [he] can do with Congress,” where he and Republicans aren’t likely to allow many legislative victories.
“It took a long time over many months, with lots of trial and error, and lots of internal battling, to get to something that was eventually successful,” Baer said.
As Sosnik sees it, what Obama must recover from 2008—more important than the debate over whether he should be more liberal or more centrist—is the widespread belief that he represents a clean break from what many voters regard as a broken political culture: “What’s most important for him is to keep himself separated from the same-old, same-old in Washington.”
John F. Harris, POLITICO's editor in chief, is author of "THE SURVIVOR: Bill Clinton in the White House."
John F. Harris
You think ’10 was tough? Check out ’12
For the first time in two cycles, Democrats will have more seats up for grabs than the Republicans, and the party could see its shrunken majority erased altogether.
Several of the senators up for reelection came in on the 2006 Democratic wave, when the party picked up six GOP seats and won control of the chamber.
Sens. Bob Casey Jr. (D-Pa.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Jim Webb (D-Va.) defeated GOP incumbents that year but will have to win reelection in 2012.
And two senators who won special elections Tuesday, Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), will face voters again in two years.
Democrats lost at least six Senate seats Tuesday, with results in Washington and Alaska undetermined as of press time, but they retained control.
That could change in two years, when Democrats have 21 seats up for grabs, compared to only 10 for Republicans. Also up for reelection are Sens. Joe Lieberman (Conn.) and Bernie Sanders (Vt.), the two Independents who caucus with Democrats — meaning the party has a total of 23 seats to defend.
“The numbers are really working against them, no question about it,” said Jennifer Duffy, a senior Senate analyst at The Cook Political Report. “It will come down to what it always comes down to: retirements and recruiting.”
Many of those Democratic seats up next cycle are in purple or red states, including those of McCaskill, Manchin, Tester, Webb and Sens. Kent Conrad (N.D.), Ben Nelson (Neb.) and Bill Nelson (Fla.).
Webb saw several House Democrats in his state lose reelection Tuesday, and McCaskill saw her party lose a Senate pickup opportunity when Roy Blunt (R) won retiring Sen. Kit Bond’s (R-Mo.) seat.
Some senators could opt to retire in 2012. Among those observers will be watching are Ben Nelson and Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.).Nelson is expected to face a difficult race, and Kohl saw his home-state colleague, Sen. Russ Feingold (D), lose on Tuesday.
Casey and Conrad also saw Democratic colleagues lose in their home states on Tuesday. And Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who’s up in 2012, watched fellow California Democrat Barbara Boxer fend off a tough challenge from the GOP.
“It is certainly true that the landscape will be tilted in 2012 in terms of the seats at risk,” said Stuart Rothenberg, editor and publisher of The Rothenberg Political Report. “[Democrats] will be defending more seats, so they could have more losses. On the other hand, it depends on the mood of the public.”
The other Democratic incumbents up next cycle are Daniel Akaka (Hawaii), Tom Carper (Del.), Jeff Bingaman (N.M.), Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Ben Cardin (Md.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Robert Menendez (N.J.) and Debbie Stabenow (Mich.).
The 10 GOP senators facing reelection are John Barrasso (Wyo.), Scott Brown (Mass.), Bob Corker (Tenn.), John Ensign (Nev.), Orrin Hatch (Utah), Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas), Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Richard Lugar (Ind.), Olympia Snowe (Maine) and Roger Wicker (Miss.).
Of that list, the only senator who could be considered in a “dangerous” position is Brown, who represents Massachusetts, a blue state.
Hutchison could retire. She ran for Texas governor in 2010 but lost in the GOP primary. At the time, Hutchison hinted she could resign her seat; she never committed to running again in 2012.
Ensign could leave the Senate if he faces charges stemming from the fallout of an affair he had with a former staffer.
An unknown factor for the Republicans is the Tea Party. The grassroots movement took down several party favorites in GOP primaries this year and has threatened to do the same next cycle.
Already, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), a Tea Party favorite, has said he’d consider challenging Hatch in the 2012 GOP primary.
Additionally, Republicans could always be doomed on pocketbook issues. If the economy rebounds, President Obama could be credited in the eyes of some voters. If it stays sluggish, voters could blame the GOP.
The top three Senate Democrats launched a strategy on that front on Wednesday, putting Republicans on notice that they expected cooperation now that the minority party is more powerful.
“We have made the message very clear that we want to work with Republicans,” said Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). “If they’re unwilling to work with us, there’s not a thing we can do about that, but the American people can see that like a very slow curveball.”
Curtis Gans, director of the Center for the Study of the American Electorate at American University, notes that the Republican revolution of 1994, ushered in by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.), dealt a major blow to President Clinton — though Clinton won reelection in 1996.
“My thesis is, we’re going to have a miserable two years, but this time not all the blame will go to the president,” Gans said. “Nobody knows what the climate will be in 2012.”
Rothenberg agreed, saying much depends on the messaging and issues that will dominate the political landscape over the next two years.
“There’s probably not likely to be as stark of a choice in 2012 as this year — however, it’s also true that most people think the president’s party runs things. It’s not as easy for Democrats to just say, ‘They share responsibility, too.’ ”
Dems find common ground: It's the White House's fault
November 3, 2010 06:21 PM EDT
The bodies aren’t even cold yet in the House, but the Democratic Party has already opened up a bitter debate over who’s to blame.
The party’s bloodied moderates Wednesday released two years of pent-up anger at a party leadership they viewed as blind to their needs and deaf to the messages of voters who never asked for President Barack Obama’s ambitious first-term agenda.
Liberals pushed back hard: The problem, they say, was those undisciplined moderates, who won delays, unsightly compromises and a muddled message from a too-accommodating administration.
Yet a third group of Democratic politicians and operatives blamed not policy but a failed sales job for the party’s woes.
One thing all sides agree on: The White House blew it.
“It is clear that Democrats over-interpreted our mandate. Talk of a ‘political realignment’ and a ‘new progressive era’ proved wishful thinking,” the retiring Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh wrote in a New York Times op-ed posted online as the scope of last night’s losses became clear.
Bayh called the decision to focus on health care in a bad economy “overreach."
“We were too deferential to our most zealous supporters,” he wrote.
Bayh spoke for a wing of the party that had been, before the election, reluctant to criticize Obama’s management of the government, but which on Wednesday spoke loudly.
“Fundamentally, Democrats lost the middle,” the president of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, Ed Gresser, said Wednesday.
“The party's apparent lack of interest in a long-term path away from emergency stimulus toward fiscal balance revived a pre-Clinton reputation for carefree attitudes toward public money.”
And Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, a proponent of bipartisanship if not always a policy centrist, lamented “missed opportunities in the last two years” in terms of bipartisan initiatives from the White House, particularly on tax policy.
But if the center is speaking loudly, it speaks from a narrower platform. The nature of a wave is to shear off moderate members in swing districts, and the House lost half of its Blue Dog Caucus. And liberals were quick to note that Bayh could have chosen to stay in the Senate, rather than offering advice from the sidelines.
“Evan Bayh for the sake of being a patriot and for the sake of being a Democrat should have stayed in – he would have protected us,” Gerry McEntee, the president of the giant public workers union AFSCME – a key backer of Democrats this year – told POLITICO.
McEntee said he blamed both the White House and congressional Republicans for failing to act more aggressively to create jobs.
“I don’t think that there was enough effort – and may be there just wasn’t enough knowledge, or maybe there wasn’t enough support in the Congress to really truly attack this problem of jobs,” he said. “You can talk about the tea party, you can talk about the coffee party, you can talk about all kinds of things, but you’ve got to talk about jobs.”
Others said Obama had allowed moderates to distract and muddle his message.
“What killed us was the conservative [Democrats] dragging health care out too long,” said another labor leader Wednesday.
“Democrats who decided to play ball with corporate interests found themselves friendless,” said a spokeswoman for MoveOn.org, Ilyse Hogue, citing Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and other defeated moderates while making the case for a purer, more confrontational party. “Claiming to support Democratic principles while quietly pandering to corporate interests is no longer a winning political strategy,” she said.
The criticism from within the Democratic Party may make some of Obama's goals all the harder. House members who walked the plank on a "cap and trade" energy bill vote and barely survived are all the less likely to take hard votes now. Legislators of all stripes may be more eager to show their distance from the White House, and legislative leaders less likely to cooperate.
Some internal critics are calling on Obama to reach out to Republicans, but any threat of factionalism inside his own party will likely push the president in the opposite direction. Democrats' best home, many believe, is uniting around a common enemy in congressional Republicans, and Obama's best bet for rallying both a restive base and skeptical moderates is pointing to a common enemy.
In his news conference Wednesday, Obama gave few firm clues as to which way he thinks he must turn – to the left or toward the middle. On the one hand, he acknowledged his "shellacking" at the hands of voters and offered to try to work with Republicans, but on the other, he said finding any common ground with the GOP would be difficult. And he defended his moves that inspired the most voter anger, his health care package and stimulus spending.
It’s a sign of Obama’s weakened position coming out of Tuesday that partisans on both ends of the party’s ideological spectrum felt free to take potshots – hoping they could still sway him as he tries to settle on a course for the last two years of his term.
Indeed, the broad Democratic defeat gave fodder to any number of arguments. Conservative Democrats lost – but they were tarred with Obama’s ambitious policy agenda.
And members’ attempts to maneuver away from the wave largely failed: Twenty of the 39 members who voted against the health care legislation the first time it came up in the House lost their seats anyway Tuesday.
The breadth of Obama’s defeat left some Democrats arguing that the White House’s real problem wasn’t policy and ideology but strategy and tactics.
“If you look at the stuff that we did, it was on an issue-by-issue level popular – but we have to do something different in the way we talk about the challenges we face and the way we deal with them,” said Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York.
“We clearly need much better air cover from the president,” he said, expressing skepticism of “this accepted wisdom that if you get things accomplished and explain them, you’ll win people over.”
To the degree Democrats had a bright spot Tuesday, it was their retention of the Senate, and one Democratic strategist argued that Senate campaigns kept their eyes on the ball when the White House wandered in the campaign’s final months.
“For a while there, they were focused on the oil spill, the Middle East peace process, Afghanistan, the anniversary of Katrina, the Ground Zero mosque, and redecorating the Oval Office,” said the Democrat.
And White House critics across the spectrum said the new focus would have to be almost entirely on core economic issues.
“Stop calling it ‘stimulus’ or ‘infrastructure’ or ‘R&E,’” former Clinton aide Paul Begala wrote Wednesday. “Call it jobs. Jobs. Jobs. Jobs.”
Neera Tanden, chief operating officer of the Center for American Progress, said: “Yesterday's elections were a vote of no confidence on Democratic stewardship of the economy. The President needs to both propose new policy proposals that will help foster economic growth and create new jobs and communicate every day that that issue is his priority. So that the American people understand that he knows their jobs are as important as his. "
WEST OC: Man says police wrong to arrest him while in baby costume
November 3, 2010
WEST OCEAN CITY — Maryland State Police arrested a 47-year-old man for disorderly conduct while he trick-or-treated on Halloween, saying he was wearing a diaper and shouting profanities at people. But Joseph David DiVanna, of Sarasota, Fla., said he was wearing a full baby costume for Halloween, complete with T-shirt, bib and bonnet, and was not simply parading around in a store-bought diaper.
He says he's angry a State Police press release implies otherwise — and angry that short news stories highlighting his odd dress when arrested spread across the country and overseas.
According to State Police, he was trying to get people to give him candy, and was cursing at adults and children.
DiVanna said he had drinks earlier, but wasn't drunk, and said he was provoked by teens pelting him with candy.
“I turned around and I go, guys, I don’t care if you follow me around, it’s Halloween, but you guys gotta stop throwing candy at me, this is ridiculous,” DiVanna said in an interview. "The kids were the ones who disorderly. I was running away from it all."
DiVanna has been living in West Ocean City for months while working on a long-term residential construction job. He had been invited by a friend, he said, to come trick-or-treat in the residential Fox Chapel neighborhood.
“They said why don’t you stop by, work your way down, and have a beer?” he said.
He said he had worn the outfit out at two local bars a few hours prior to the incident, and that the fact his arrest has made national news is “outrageous.”
“My phone’s ringing off the hook. This is amazing. I mean, just in a nutshell, the fact (police) didn’t mention I live three blocks down the road and I was going to meet somebody,” he said.
He said there were adults in the neighborhood who were upset to see him trick-or-treating, and believes they alerted nearby police, who were directing vehicle and pedestrian traffic.
DiVanna is scheduled to face charges of disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace Dec. 10 in Worcester County District Court.
Joseph David DiVanna gestures at a costume he wore on Halloween night, when he was arrested for disorderly conduct. The baby costume includes a diaper, bib, bonnet, bottle and children's book. DiVanna says he's upset police charged him instead of the children he says harassed him that night, and he's also unhappy that news reports saying he was arrested while wearing a diaper have circulated widely. (Brian Shane photo)
|November 3rd, 201002:53 AM ET
Bush says Kanye moment 'disgusting'
|CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
(CNN) – Long before rapper Kanye West ruined musician Taylor Swift's night at the 2009 MTV Music Awards, he single-handedly caused one of the lowest points in George W. Bush's presidency.
That's according to the former president in an interview with NBC's Matt Lauer, during which he said West's unexpected outburst during a 2005 Hurricane Katrina telethon amounted to "one of the most disgusting moments in my presidency."
"That [means] 'he's a racist,' " Bush tells Lauer in an upcoming interview, according to the Today Show Web site "And I didn't appreciate it then. I don't appreciate it now. I resent it, it's not true."
Pressed if Bush meant to say that the West moment was more difficult for him to deal with than witnessing the devastating destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina, Bush said no.
"I also make it clear that the misery in Louisiana affected me deeply as well," Bush said.
"There's a lot of tough moments in the book. And it was a disgusting moment, pure and simple."
During the widely-viewed 2005 Concert for Hurricane Relief, West said in an unscripted moment said that "George Bush doesn't care about black people." Telethon producers quickly cut West's microphone before he could say more.
Fox is top-ranked network, ends CBS winning streak
Even though Fox ended CBS' season-opening winning streak in the ratings, there have been few reasons for its executives to be gleeful this fall.
The Nielsen Co. said Fox was the top-ranked network last week on the strength of the World Series. No other network had beaten CBS this fall.
Otherwise, it's been a tough season for Fox, which has seen its viewership drop by 14 percent from last fall. By comparison, NBC and CBS are up, while ABC is down 3 percent, Nielsen said.
Some of Fox's established series have lost viewers this year. "The Simpsons" is down 9 percent from last fall and "Lie to Me" is off 27 percent. Most damaging of all is "House," a bona fide critical and commercial success that has seemingly fallen off the map. Its audience is down an alarming 35 percent from 2009, according to Nielsen.
Fox's new series "Lone Star," about a con man living with two women, was a disaster that was canceled after two episodes. Neither of the two new comedies, "Raising Hope" or "Running Wilde," have been hits, although "Raising Hope" has earned a full season's order of shows.
Even though the World Series between the Texas Rangers and San Francisco Giants helped last week, its average of 14.3 million viewers put it second only to 2008's Phillies-Rays series as the least-watched on record.
Fox's poor start this year is magnified because the network did unusually well in the ratings last fall, said Brad Adgate, an analyst for Horizon Media.
"They had such a strong fall last year that they hoped to build on that," he said. "They're back to where they were two, three, four years ago."
Rough autumns is something of a tradition at Fox, which has rebounded strongly with the return of "American Idol" in January and, in the past few years, a new season of "24." But "24" is done, and "Idol" faces some questions about its continuing popularity with the exit of Simon Cowell and the remodel of its panel of judges.
The bright spot for Fox is the blossoming of "Glee" into a genuine hit and cultural force; its ratings are up 47 percent over last fall. Fox has the Super Bowl this winter, too, which guarantees gigantic ratings. Despite the tough fall, the network notes that it is still a close second to CBS in ratings for 18-to-49-year-old viewers, Fox's target audience, with the best part of its season to come.
ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" was the most popular show on TV last week. ABC's second-season comedies "Modern Family" and "The Middle" both had their biggest audiences ever.
For the week, Fox averaged 12 million viewers (7.1 rating, 12 share). CBS had 11 million (6.8, 11), ABC had 9.2 million (5.9, 10), NBC had 6.6 million (4.0, 7), the CW had 2.2 million (1.4, 2) and ION Television had 1.1 million (0.7, 1).
Among the Spanish-language networks, Univision led with a prime-time average of 4.3 million viewers last week (2.1 rating, 4 share). Telemundo averaged 820,000 (0.5, 1), TeleFutura had 680,000 (0.4, 1), Estrella had 270,000 and Azteca had 190,000 (both 0.1, 0).
NBC's "Nightly News" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 8.1 million viewers (5.3, 11). ABC's "World News" was second with 7.4 million (5.0, 10) and the "CBS Evening News" had 5.5 million viewers (3.7, 7).
A ratings point represents 1,159,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation's estimated 115.9 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.
For the week of Oct. 25-31, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: "Dancing With the Stars," ABC, 20.41 million; "NCIS," CBS, 20.18 million; NFL Football: Pittsburgh vs. New Orleans, NBC, 18.11 million; "NCIS: Los Angeles," CBS, 15.99 million; "Dancing With the Stars Results," 15.93 million; World Series Game 4: San Francisco vs. Texas, Fox, 15.54 million; World Series Game 1: Texas vs. San Francisco, Fox, 15.01 million; "The Mentalist," CBS, 14.76 million; "World Series Pre-Game Show," Fox, 14.68 million; "The OT," Fox, 14.31 million.
Obama's final narrative: A negative mélange of historic proportions
The final narrative for President Obama, 24 hours before the midterm elections has evolved into a negative mélange of historic proportions. This was reported by the Global Language Monitor (GLM), which has been tracking the narratives that have dominated the perception of the administration and its handling of both its achievements and crises.
In July, the President’s five most prominent narrative arcs included being out-of-touch or aloof; being responsible for the ever-increasing deficit; not responding with enough vigor or authority to the Gulf Oil Spill; the victory of pushing through Healthcare Reform; and gaining a reputation as a Chicago-style pol. The President’s Oval Office Address on the Gulf Oil Spill seems to have been the temporal demarcation point between a positive or negative narrative carrying over into the 2010 Mid-term Election. Since that time there are many who contend that Obama’s narrative has been shaped by forces largely out of his control. And indeed, this may be true.
In the following months no single narrative has risen above the others; on the contrary the five Obama Narratives have largely blended into a largely negative, yet muddled, story line. The result has been an admixture of these five narratives, resulting in an unfortunate amalgam for the president and his party to overcome.
GLM has also been tracking political buzzwords for the last three election cycles. An analysis of the Top Buzzwords of the Mid-Term Elections completed yesterday, and published in a separate release, lend support to these conclusions.
Below is a list of the Obama narratives that have evolved through the last year.
1. Obama as out-of-touch or aloof
This has only grown stronger over time. Professorial has now been added to the mix, which is often considered condescending by certain academic communities.
2. Obama and the deficit
Words linking Obama to deficit have steadily increased as those linking Bush to the deficit have declined.
3. Obama and the Oil Spill
The completion of the relief well apparently did not provide the president with relief from the issue. In fact, the President now has more negative ties to the Katrina inundation of New Orleans than George W. Bush.
4. Obama as HealthCare Reformer
The president’s signature achievement has been largely avoided by members of his party for fear of the overall negative reception to the program adversely affecting their personal chances of (re-)election. The mistake is explain away the frustration with how the bill was passed, where many had a first-hand look at congressional (and presidential) wheeling dealing as it best (or worst).
5. Obama as the Chicago-style pol
This usually conveys the ability to make things happen -- though in a stealthy, force-your-hand manner reminiscent of the days of cigar-filled back rooms. Even this has been undone by the ongoing public perception of Obama's seeming inability to get things done (in spite of the things he actually did).
GLM has been tracking political language for the last three election cycles As we have detailed over the last two years, while in the midst of the positive media frenzy of the election and inauguration, we were already finding the elements of anger and outrage as one of the highest on record. At that time, GLM examined the global print and electronic media for the seven days after the following events: the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the start of the Iraq War, and the week after the Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, and the awarding of the AIG bonuses.
The ranking of ‘outrage’ found in the media was surprising, even startling.
1. The AIG Bonuses, 2009
2. The 9/11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001
3. Hurricane Katrina and the Inundation of New Orleans, 2005
4. The start of the Iraq War, 2003
During the last several months our analysis shows that anger and rage largely have been replaced by frustration and disillusionment. In fact, our continuing NarrativeTracker analysis has found what appears to be a major disconnection between what is reported in the media and what is being discussed in Social Media and the rest of Cyberspace. This includes a number of Media Memes that resonant among the media. For example:
1. Outrage in the Electorate
To a large extent, the rise of Outrage in the electorate (accompanying the AIG bonuses) was overlooked while the focus was on the ebullience accompanying the Obama election and Inauguration. Only this year have ‘anger’ and ‘rage’ become a focus -- while the citations show that the electorate has moved beyond this Media Meme to ‘disappointment’ and ‘frustration’.
2. The Great Recession
The electorate makes no distinction between Recession and Great Recession. In fact, the Great Recession Media Meme is found to be used only in the elite media, while the electorate seems to believe that something far larger is taking (or has taken) place. The analysis shows the underlying belief to be that that economy has undergone a structural change that will take years to mend, if ever. (They knew this when Bush tried to explain why the US, according to traditional definitions, was not yet in a recession, and again know this as today's economists try to explain how the Great Recession is now over because we grew 2 percent in the last fiscal quarter).
3. The Idea of Insurgency
The consensus is that there are now about one hundred, or fewer, congressional seats in play, which means that some 77 percent of the seats are basically locked in. The idea of insurgency makes great headlines (and ensures a plethora of more great headlines as the future unfolds). But the fact remains that a minimal number of congressional seats are now in play.
4. The Tea Party
Tea Party ‘members’ have turned out to be older, better educated, and far more influential than their originally portrayal. If the war in Afghanistan is fighting the last wars (the Surge in Iraq and the Vietnam ‘quagmire’ then viewing the Tea Party as anything other than a grass roots movement, was a mis-reading of the Obama ‘insurgency’ of ’07 and ’08.
5. The 24-hour News Cycle
The 24-hour news cycle is true only insofar as the headlines constantly shift. But the deeper currents are a much more prevailing force that apparently actually drive and shape events. Focusing on the swirling froth of the ever-changing headlines, allows many to miss the structural changes that are occurring below – much like a tsunami is only apparently when the submerged wave finally hits the shoreline.
Paul JJ Payack is the rresident and Chief Word Analyst at The Global Language Monitor in Austin, Texas.
Police: Destin bank robber drops wallet, arrested
October 30, 2010 09:06:00 AM
Florida Freedom Newspapers
DESTIN — A 26-year-old man was arrested a day after he robbed Union State Bank at gunpoint.
Jorman Sampaio of the 3800 block of Indian Trail Road walked into the bank on Airport Road about 10 a.m. Thursday and demanded cash, according to an Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office news release. Armed with a silver handgun, he made the employees get on the floor and left with about $6,000.
Click to see photos from the scene
Sampaio fled on foot and dropped a surgical-style glove near the bank’s door, the release said. While investigators processed the scene, a man found Sampaio’s wallet at the intersection of Main Street and Kelly Avenue, along the most commonly used direct route between the bank and his home.
Investigators used the image from Sampaio’s ID card to create a photo lineup. One employee identified him with 80 percent confidence, another with 50 percent confidence, a third narrowed it down between Sampaio and another subject and a fourth was unsure.
When lawmen executed a search warrant at his home, they found a surgical glove consistent with the one found at the bank, a silver semi-automatic handgun and cash.
He was booked into the Okaloosa County Jail in Crestview.
Man robs Capitola bank; offers bystanders $1,000 for getaway ride
CAPITOLA - Police are searching for a man who robbed a bank on 38th Avenue Saturday then apparently offered bystanders $1,000 for a quick getaway.
Around 11:40 a.m., the man entered a bank on 38th Avenue and demanded $20 and $100 bills from a teller, police said. The man then jumped onto the counter and pushed the teller, opened the till and stole an undisclosed amount of money, police said.
Police said the man was not armed.
Witnesses told police a man less than a block away from the bank around the time of the robbery was acting suspiciously and offering $1,000 for a ride to Santa Cruz.
Capitola Police, California Highway Patrol, sheriff's deputies and Santa Cruz Police searched the surrounding area but did not find the man, police said. They are also looking for anyone who may have given the man a ride.
"That $1,000 belongs to the bank," Capitola Sgt. Mark Gonzalez said.
The robber was described as a white man in his 40s or 50s with brown hair and a thin build, wearing blue jeans, a gray zip up sweatshirt and black shoes. The man was unshaven, had yellow teeth and appeared to have bad hygiene, police said. He left behind a green Pacific Wave hat and cell phone charger, police said.
Police believe the man may be a transient, Gonzalez said.
Moss to be waived by the Vikings
Michael Lombardi of the NFL Network first reported that Moss had been waived, but later amended his report to note that coach Brad Childress, who has final say on the 53-man roster, informed Vikings players that the enigmatic receiver was being let go, but did not tell the front office.
"[He said he] just wanted to give everybody a heads-up and say this is what's going on, and that's it," Vikings linebacker Ben Leber told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune "He didn't really dive into any details, and just said that's what we're going to go with."
Moss's agent, Joel Segal, confirmed to the Star Tribune via e-mail that Moss, who remained behind in Boston yesterday to visit family, was "very sad" to find out about being waived.
"He has and always will remain fond of the fans in Minnesota. We will let the process of the waiver wire take its course and we will move on from there."
Any team that claims Moss would be responsible for the remainder of his $6.4 million. Segal told the Star Tribune that he has already heard from the Dolphins and Seahawks about his client.
While Moss has been made aware of his situation according to Segal, his status is uncertain until the Vikings officially place him on waivers. His name did not appear on the waiver wire released by the league this afternoon, according to Fox Sports's Jay Glaser.
Once Moss is officially waived, teams will have the chance to claim him over the next 24 hours. If you think the Patriots would be on that list of interested teams, they would have to wait awhile. Thirty other teams would have to pass on Moss before the Patriots would have a chance to bring him back to New England. The team with the worst record, Buffalo, would have the first chance to claim him.
Patriots receiver Wes Welker had a common reaction to the news that his former teammate was being let go after less than a month with his former team.
"Yeah, absolutely," Welker said in the Patriots' locker room when asked if he was surprised to hear the news. "Randy is obviously a great player so that’s a tough deal if it is true. Who knows? But I find that hard to believe."
Asked if he'd be open to Moss returning to the Patriots, Welker said: "You know that’s all Coach (Bill) Belichick’s decision. So whatever he decides we’re open to as a team and I’m sure he’ll do what’s best for the organization."
Welker wouldn't say whether there was any relief in the locker room after Moss was traded.
"I wouldn’t attribute it to Randy or anything like that," Welker said. "We’ve got a lot of guys coming in and working hard and doing their job and young guys getting better every week. It’s paying off for us, we just need to keep it going."
While the Patriots are 6-1 -- and 3-0 since trading Moss -- the talented Vikings are free-falling, dropping to 2-5 after yesterday's 28-18 loss at Gillette Stadium.
Moss didn't help matters when, in a postgame press conference, he praised the Patriots and Belichick while suggesting the Vikings coaching staff didn't utilize his advice on the Patriots' schemes.
"The bad part about it is you have six days to prepare for a team, and on the seventh day, that Sunday, meaning today, I guess they come over and say, 'Dag, Moss, I guess you was right about a couple plays and a couple schemes they were going to run,'" he said.
"And it hurts as a player, that you put a lot of hard work in during the week, and at the end of the week, Sunday, when you get on the field, that's when they acknowledge about the hard work that you put in throughout the week. That's actually a disappointment."
Shalise Manza Young, Greg A. Bedard, and Chad Finn of the Globe staff contributed to this report.
Monday, Nov. 01, 2010
A judge on Monday set a $50,000 bond for an administrative assistant whose sons are accused of packing a pen with powerful explosives, injuring another student at a Charlotte alternative school.
Tracy Bauguess, 37, was charged with three counts of malicious use of explosives causing injury and one count of possession of a weapon of mass destruction after investigators found dangerous amounts of an unstable explosive in her house.
She was originally given no bond. But on Monday, Judge Regan Miller reduced her bond to a total of $50,000.
Police say her son, 16-year-old Jessie Bauguess, sent a fellow student at Turning Point alternative school to the hospital with burns and other wounds when he packed a pen with a powerful explosive and took it to school. He's being held in jail under $47,500 bond.
Tracy Bauguess' other son, whose name hasn't been released because he's 15, appeared in juvenile court two weeks ago, but the outcome wasn't made public because such proceedings are closed.
Bomb squads shut down Bauguess’ neighborhood in northwest Charlotte and probed the house with robots for two days, carrying out controlled detonations of the explosive TATP that they found there. Three firefighters were hurt as some of the material they were testing exploded. Their injuries were minor.
At Tracy Bauguess' bond hearing on Monday, a prosecutor argued that Baugess knew what her sons were experimenting with explosives. They said explosives were found throughout the home off Mount Holly Road where the family had lived for four months.
"Chemicals were all over the house, in plain view," said Assistant District Attorney Madelaine Colbert, who said investigators found a hole in Tracy Bauguess' bedroom, apparently caused by an explosion. "She knew her son had been having trouble with the teacher. Neighbors had been hearing for a long time explosions coming from the residence … She was aware of what was going on."
But Baugess' attorney, Jacob Setzer, described his client as a harmless administrative assistant and single mother, who never knew her children were in danger or endangering others. Setzer said she voluntarily allowed investigators to search her home and turned herself in shortly after learning authorities had issued warrants for her arrest.
Setzer said the case had been sensationalized.
"This is not some type of Columbine issue where guns are found throughout the house," Setzer said. "She still doesn't know what the chemicals are. I don't know what the chemicals are," Setzer said.
Study: Alcohol 'most harmful drug,' followed by crack and heroin
CNN Wire Staff
November 1, 2010
2:42 a.m. EDT
London, England (CNN) -- Alcohol ranks "most harmful" among a list of 20 drugs -- beating out crack and heroin -- according to study results released by a British medical journal.
A panel of experts weighed the physical, psychological and social problems caused by the drugs and determined that alcohol was the most harmful overall, according to an article on the study released by The Lancet Sunday.
Using a new scale to evaluate harms to individual users and others, alcohol received a score of 72 on a scale of 1 to 100, the study says.
That makes it almost three times as harmful as cocaine or tobacco, according to the article, which is slated to be published on The Lancet's website Monday and in an upcoming print edition of the journal.
Heroin, crack cocaine and methamphetamine were the most harmful drugs to individuals, the study says, while alcohol, heroin and crack cocaine were the most harmful to others.
In the article, the panelists said their findings show that Britain's three-tiered drug classification system, which places drugs into different categories that determine criminal penalties for possession and dealing, has "little relation to the evidence of harm."
Panelists also noted that the rankings confirm other studies that say that "aggressively targeting alcohol harms is a valid and necessary public health strategy."
The Lancet article was co-authored by David Nutt, a professor and Britain's former chief drug adviser, who caused controversy last year after he published an article saying ecstasy was not as dangerous as riding a horse.
"So why are harmful sporting activities allowed, whereas relatively less harmful drugs are not?" Nutt wrote in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. "I believe this reflects a societal approach which does not adequately balance the relative risks of drugs against their harms."
Nutt later apologized to anyone offended by the article and to those who have lost loved ones to ecstasy. He said he had no intention of trivializing the dangers of the drug and that he only wanted to compare the risks.
In the article released by The Lancet Sunday, ecstasy's harmfulness ranking -- 9 -- indicates it is only one eighth as harmful as alcohol.
The study was funded by the London-based Centre for Crime and Justice studies.
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