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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Democrats Fear Occupy Movement

The Occupy movement, initially endorsed by Democrats, is quickly becoming a noose around their neck as there is more and more anti-social actions occurring around the protests. Once thought to be an antidote to the Tea Party, they are beginning to realize there is no comparison and that Occupy is an anti-democratic movement. The initial idea of a bottom up, leaderless liberal protest was appealing to many who did not agree with the more conservative Tea Party. However, as polls are starting to show, support for the Occupiers is falling.

As the Occupy movement becomes more civil insurrection, what are the Democrats, including the President, who praised them, going to do?  They must distance themselves and maybe even disavow any support.  That will probably kill the movement.

For more on the subject, the following is an AP article on the issue.  Please tell us what you thnk.

Democrats see minefield in Occupy protests

Democrats see political minefield in Occupy Wall Street protests

NEW YORK (AP) -- The Republican Party and the tea party seemed to be a natural political pairing. But what may have seemed like another politically beneficial alliance — Democrats and Occupy Wall Street — hasn't happened.
Although both Democrats and the Occupy protesters have similar views on economic inequality and corporate responsibility, each holds the other at arm's length. There's little benefit to Democrats in opening their arms wide to a scruffy group that has erupted in violence, defied police and shown evidence of drug use while camping in public parks across the country — much as the prospect of such a pairing delights Republicans.
Many protesters, in turn, are contemptuous of Democrats, arguing that both political parties are equally beholden to corporate interests and responsible for enacting policies that have hurt the middle class.
Both sides may be missing an opportunity. Polling shows the public supports the message of the Occupy Wall Street movement even if people have reservations about the encampments themselves. And political observers say Democrats may be missing a chance to reinvigorate their base.
"It's injecting energy and life into progressive ideas and values, and it's showing some weak-kneed Democrats they should be more aggressive on those issues," Steve Rosenthal, a Democratic strategist and longtime labor leader, said. "I don't think it will translate into boots on the ground or a clear organization for the 2012 election, but it will definitely help shape the debate."
Occupy Wall Street hasn't been easy for risk-averse elected officials to endorse.
The movement has lacked leadership and a clear focus, and illegal behavior has turned off some politicians. Mayors, citing concerns over sanitation and public safety, have begun to crack down on the encampments, and police in riot gear have cleared protesters from several cities, including New York, Portland, Ore., and Oakland, Calif.
Republicans have largely dismissed the Occupy Wall Street as a band of anti-capitalist ruffians, while trying to goad Democrats into embracing the movement or answering for its excesses.
GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has called the movement dangerous class warfare, while Michele Bachmann called the protesters "ignorant" and "disrespectful."
So far, Democrats have tried to have it both ways — embracing the movement's economic concerns while steering clear of its rougher edges.
"I think people feel separated from their government," President Barack Obama told ABC News. "They feel that their institutions are not looking out for them." The president has said his jobs plan, which would boost taxes on high earners, is a way to address some of the protesters' concerns.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has gone a step further, posting a petition, "100,000 Strong Standing With Occupy Wall Street," that blames Republican policies for the nation's economic discontent.
But many Occupy Wall Street activists say they are disillusioned with Obama and have no interest in helping him or other Democratic candidates.
"The Occupy movement is rooted in the idea that the political system is broken to such a degree that we can no longer work through the Republican or Democratic parties," Tim Franzen, a spokesman for Occupy Atlanta, said.
"This is not about politics. This is about people," said Marsha Spencer, an Occupy volunteer in New York. "We've lost our government. It's not by the people, for the people anymore. We need to get it back, and we don't need a political party to do that."
Such talk has frustrated some Democratic leaders, who say engaging electoral politics would make the Occupy Wall Street movement more effective.
"I want them to get up and start registering voters, start playing towards the 2012 election," former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell said at a seminar at Harvard University last week. "Not just the presidential, but congressional and Senate elections and state legislative elections. That's where they can make real change."
At least one candidate seems to be channeling the energy of the Occupy Wall Street movement: Democrat Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard Law School professor challenging Republican Sen. Scott Brown in Massachusetts.
Warren's campaign has drawn national attention after she described how the rich should pay more in taxes since they had benefited the most from government policies. Warren later claimed to have laid the "intellectual foundation" for the Occupy movement but stressed that protesters need to obey the law.
While Warren's campaign has drawn intense grass-roots enthusiasm — an estimated 1,000 people jammed a volunteer meeting in Boston on Sunday — Republicans are eager to turn her ties to the Occupy movement against her.
Crossroads GPS, a Republican super PAC with ties to former George W. Bush political director Karl Rove, released a television ad in Massachusetts linking Warren to rowdy Occupy protests. The group also called on Warren to "condemn the Occupy Wall Street movement for the escalating criminality, violence and extreme radicalization."
For their part, Republicans recognized an electoral ally in the tea party movement soon after its inception in early 2009, when activists began protesting government spending and the federal bank bailouts.
While many tea party members claimed to be nonpartisan, they were mostly white, older and Republican-leaning and shared the GOP's goal of limiting government and cutting spending. Obama was the poster child for the opposite view. Tea party activists helped drive many of the angry congressional town hall meetings protesting Obama's health care overhaul, and the sweeping Republican victories in the 2010 midterm elections were fueled in large party by tea party enthusiasm.
While the Occupy movement has not had similar tangible goals, activists say it has already had an impact on the political dialogue.
Labor leaders say the movement's message of economic inequality was a factor in Ohio, where voters overwhelmingly repealed a law curtailing public employees' right to collective bargaining. And some are crediting the movement with successfully pressuring Bank of America to drop its plan to charge customers a $5 monthly fee to use their bank cards.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., introduced legislation last week to prevent banks from circumventing state-level caps on interest rates. In an interview with The Associated Press, Whitehouse credited the Occupy movement for renewing public focus on banking practices.
"I'm hoping we can take advantage of some of that interest and energy in this," Whitehouse said.
Karin Hofmann, an Occupy activist in New York, said she was sure Obama's decision to delay approval of the controversial Keystone oil pipeline was a reaction to the Occupy movement.
"We've changed the whole conversation. It's been a paradigm shift," she said.
Associated Press writers Erika Niedowski in Providence, R.I., and Leonard Pallats in Atlanta contributed to this report.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Should Kagan Recuse Herself On ObamaCare?

Would someone who is smarter than we are, tell us how in the bloody Hell can Supreme Court Justice Kagan refuse to recuse herself from hearings on Obamacare?  Was she not the Solicitor General for Obama during the approval process. Did she not give legal advice to the Administration during the time she was the President's attorney?

Even if she was segregated from others in the White House, did she not get "tingly" feelings when the bill passed?  (She acknowledges same in an email.)

If not a conflict, this looks like an "appearance of conflict."  It just smells wrong.

What do you think?  For more background the attached article gives you some more background on the mess!!

Sessions Demands Written Testimony from Holder on Kagan and Obamacare

Eric Holder
Attorney General Eric Holder being sworn in before he testifies in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Nov. 8, 2011. (AP Photo/J.Scott Applewhite)
( - Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, a senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, is demanding that Attorney General Eric Holder provide the committee with written testimony related to Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan’s possible involvement in President Barack Obama’s health-care legislation or litigation that was filed against that legislation during the time she was solicitor general.
A federal law, 28 USC 455, says that a Supreme Court justice must recuse from “any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned” or anytime he has “expressed an opinion concerning the merits of the particular case in controversy” while he “served in governmental employment.”
During Kagan’s 2010 confirmation process, Sen. Sessions and other Judiciary Committee Republicans asked Kagan two questions in writingabout whether she had ever been asked or had ever offered her views “regarding the underlying legal or constitutional issues related to any proposed health care legislation” or “potential litigation resulting from such legislation?” Kagan’s response to both questions was: “No.”
Sessions’ call for Holder’s written testimony follows up not only on Holder’s appearance at a Judiciary Committee oversight hearing last week but also on sets of internal DOJ emails regarding Kagan and the health care and recusal issues that the Justice Department released on March 15 and Nov. 9 in response to lawsuits filed by the Media Research Center, the parent organization of, and Judicial Watch. The lawsuits were based on Freedom of Information Act requests that and Judicial Watch had filed with DOJ.
Sen. Jeff Sessions and Elena Kagan
Sen. Jeff Sessions meets with then-Solicitor General Elena Kagan on May 12, 2010, two days after President Barack Obama nominated her to the Supreme Court. (AP Photo/File) initially filed its FOIA request on May 25, 2010, before then-Solicitor General Elena Kagan’s June 2010 Supreme Court confirmation hearings in the Judiciary Committee. 
Sessions' call for Holder’s written testimony also follows up on a request that House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith of Texas sent on July 6 to Holder requesting that the Justice Department provide the committee with the documents and witness interviews the committee needed to “properly understand any involvement by Justice Kagan in matters relating to health-care legislation or litigation while she was Solicitor General.”
In the letter to Holder making this request, Smith cited the written questions that Sen. Sessions and the Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans had asked Kagan during her confirmation process and said that the emails DOJ had subsequently released in response to FOIA requests raised questions about Kagan’s answers to those questions.
“During her Senate confirmation,” Smith wrote Holder in that letter, “then-Solicitor General Kagan answered ‘no’ when questioned whether she had ever been ‘asked about [her] opinion’ or ‘offered any views or comments regarding the underlying legal or constitutional issues related to any proposed health care legislation … or … potential litigation resulting from such legislation.’ Yet, documents released by the Department in response to recent Freedom of Information Act requests raise questions about that unequivocal denial.”
In an Oct. 27 letter, Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich informed Smith that the Justice Department was not going to comply with the House Judiciary Committee’s request for Kagan-related documents and witness interviews. On Oct. 28, Smith responded directly to Attorney General Holder, asking him to either comply with the request by Nov. 4 or assert what legal privilege DOJ was invoking in refusing to comply. The Nov. 4 deadline came and went and DOJ did not respond to Chairman Smith.
At last week's hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah asked Holder directly whether he was going to respond to the House Judiciary Committee’s request.
"I'm not familiar with that request. I'd have to look at it," Holder testified. "I'm just not familiar with the request that has been made or what materials have been sought in that regard."
Holder also volunteered in response to Lee’s questioning that he remembered Kagan being "physically" removed from the room on occasions when health care come up in discussions at the Justice Department.
"Well, I can tell you that certainly one of the things that we did while she was solicitor general was to physically--physically, literall--move her out of the room whenever a conversation came up about the health-care reform legislation," Holder testified. "I can remember specific instances in my conference room where, when we were going to discuss that topic, we asked Elena, Justice Kagan, to leave and she did."
[Here is video of Sen. Lee questioning Holder:]

Among the emails that DOJ released to and Judicial Watch are a Jan. 8, 2010 email chain in which then-Solicitor General Elena Kagan assigned her top deputy, Neal KatyalObamacare, which had passed the Senate two weeks before. (See page 3 of this PDF.) That was four months before President Barack Obama nominated Kagan to the Supreme Court and she recused herself as solicitor general. In the meantime, Obamacare was enacted and lawsuits were filed against it. Katyal--the lawyer who Kagan had originally assigned to the issue--eventually argued the cases in multiple appeals courts.
In other Jan. 8, 2010 emails to an individual in the associate attorney general's office, Katyal indicated his own desire to "crush" legal challenges to the health care law (see page 56 of this PDF), and said: "Elena would definitely like OSG [Office of Solicitor General] to be involved in this set of issues. I will handle this myself, along with an Assistant from my office [name redacted] and we will bring Elena in as needed." (See page 57 of this PDF.)  
The emails released last week include an exchange between Kagan and Harvard Law Prof. Lawrence Tribe, who was working for the Justice Department in 2010. The exchange took place on  March 21 of that year, the day the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed the House of Representatives. The exchange shows Kagan expressing apparent enthusiasm for the imminent passage of the legislation that she would now judge as a Supreme Court justice were she not to recuse herself from the case.
“I hear they have the votes, Larry!!” Kagan wrote. “Simply amazing.”
“I am deeply disturbed by these developments and believe that the Justice Department should have provided these documents to the Senate Judiciary Committee during Justice Kagan’s confirmation hearing,” Sessions told Holder in the request for written testimony. “The Department’s failure to provide this information to Congress and to comply with FOIA requests, as well as your apparent inattention to these matters, is unacceptable. I have set forth the substance of the aforementioned emails below. Please review them and provide answers to the questions that follow.”
Sessions submitted his questions to Holder on Tuesday as part of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s standard process in which members of the panel have a week after a hearing to submit additional questions for the record to the witnesses.
In submitting his written questions to Holder, Sessions specifically cited a number of the internal DOJ emails that DOJ has released as a result of the and Judicial Watch FOIA lawsuits.
These include the Jan. 8, 2010 exchange in which Kagan assigned her deputy to handle the expected health care litigation for her office, which was responsible for defending the administration’s position in federal court disputes.
Sessions also points to email chains—including one that DOJ released March 15 and another that DOJ released last week—dating to the week before the passage of Obamacare in the House that deal with the possibility that the then-Democrat-controlled chamber might use a procedure called “deem and pass” to push the Senate version of the health care bill through the House without actually voting on it.
The Landmark Legal Foundation, headed by Mark Levin, was then very publicly preparing to file a complaint in federal court if the House in fact used that maneuver. Also, former U.S. Appeals Court Judge Michael McConnell had written an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal arguing that "deem and pass" was unconstitutional.
In one of these email chains, written on March 16 (five days before the House voted on Obamacare), carried the subject line: 'Health care q." In it, then-Solicitor General Kagan asked David Barron, who then headed DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel, whether he had seen McConnell’s piece in the Wall Street Journal. He emails back: “YES—HE IS GETTING THIS GOING.”
On March 18, 2010 (three days before Obamacare passed the House), in an email chain under the subject line "Health Care," Kagan’s top deputy, Katyal, copied Kagan on an email to Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli. (See page 5 of this PDF.) In this email, Katyal discusses the Landmark Legal Foundation's draft complaint. Noting that the complaint was evidently written to be filed before the president actually signed health-care legislation pushed through via “deem and pass,” Katyal said: “As such, we could be in court very very soon. In light of this, for what it is worth, my advice (I haven’t discussed this with Elena, but I’m cc’ing her here) is that we start assembling a resonse [here a block of text is redacted].”
Sessions put seven specific questions to Holder that he wants Holder to answer for the committee in written testimony as a continuation of last week's oversight hearing. The questions revolve around Holder’s awareness of Kagan’s involvement in any discussion or treatment of the health-care legislation or litigation challenging it. (To see all the questions Sessions has put to Holder click here.)
One question asks: “When did your staff begin 'removing' Solicitor General Kagan from meetings on this matter? On what basis did you take this action? In what other matters did you take this action?”

Moderate Islamist--What Do Those Words Mean?

This is a very interesting article. Most Americans and Europeans are not aware of how Islam differs from Christianity or Judaism. In fact, most Americans believe that it is just "another religion" that anyone in the US can practice. And this is true in the United States today. Any Muslim can practice his or her religion without fearing any reprisal for doing so.

In other parts of the world that is not the case. Try reading a Christian bible in Saudi Arabia or Iran?  Your sentence would either be flogging or jail time.

So in an effort to give my readers more information, here is an article on the Moderates in the Middle East and the meaning of those words.  Tell us what you think.

Conservative Tom

What Does 'Moderate' Islamist Mean?

Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi - The Jerusalem Post,  November 17th, 2011

In the run-up to the Tunisian Constituent Assembly elections and the aftermath that saw a plurality of seats won by the al-Nahda (Renaissance) party, you may have noticed frequent references in the media to this political organization as a “moderate Islamist” party. This is of course not the first time such terms have been used to denote Islamist political factions: recall for example how the ruling AKP party in Turkey is often called “mildly Islamist” (to borrow the Economist's phrasing).
Unfortunately, however, such terminology can only be characterized as part of what Hussein Ibish – director of the American Task Force on Palestine – calls an “intellectually and politically indefensible rush” to portray Islamist parties as “more moderate or pluralistic than they actually are.”
Take the case of al-Nahda in Tunisia, which outperformed by a factor of two most analysts' expectations that it would win 20% of seats at most. The party's leader- Rashid Ghannouchi- has tried to reassure secularists of his supposedly moderate credentials by pointing to the example of Turkey, which is often viewed as a model for harmonizing secular traditions with Islamism under the allegedly pragmatic AKP.
In fact, the AKP government's record demonstrates how the Islamists in Turkey have gradually been reversing the democratic reform process that was initiated in the first three years after the AKP's rise to power in the 2002 elections. The aim at the time was to win EU membership for Turkey, and given the widespread support among the Turkish population back then for such a goal, as well as the fact that the military had intervened to ban the AKP's ideological predecessor known as the “Welfare Party” in 1998, the AKP pragmatically went along with implementing the reform process.
Yet since 2005, as the EU bid process has stalled, the AKP's authoritarian tendencies have become increasingly apparent, in accordance with a step-by-step implementation of an Islamization program also supported by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Examples of these worrying trends include wiretaps on the cell phones of political opponents, hefty “tax fines” imposed on the independent media company Dogan, which was recently forced to sell one of its three television channels to reduce the fines, and greater control of the media as a whole by pro-AKP businesses as Turkish authorities have lobbied to reduce Dogan's share of the media market.
Meanwhile, more and more journalists and military figures have been imprisoned on flimsy allegations of coup plots. As the International Press Institute reports, Turkey leads the world in the number of jailed journalists, with 57 currently behind bars, and as analyst Soner Cagaptay points out, around half of all Turkish naval admirals have been imprisoned.
On the wider international stage, the AKP government has pushed for the Muslim Brotherhood to take advantage of the unrest in Syria, while Assad hopes to use the Kurds as proxies against Turkey by granting them autonomy, according to a report in Le Figaro. The AKP's belligerence towards Cyprus and Israel is also worthy of note, as the Turkish prime minister has threatened to send “frigates, gunboats and…air force” against Cyprus should it go ahead with plans to exploit potentially very large oil and gas reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean's international waters.
Coming back to Tunisia, Ghannouchi is also on record in Arabic for pointing to Hamas-led Gaza as the “model for freedom today.” The Palestinian areas are a case in point to discuss. It is of course true that Hamas was democratically elected in the Palestinian legislative elections in 2006, but Hamas' term in power expired last year and the group has since blocked all attempts by the Palestinian Authority to hold elections.
The reason for Hamas' behavior here is the blow to its popularity the group has suffered for its poor governance in Gaza, where Fatah was ousted from power completely in 2007 and where Hamas has established the rule of Islamic law.
Thus, one must surely concur with Ibish's point that “it's simply foolish not to recognize that they [the Islamist parties] remain in every meaningful sense radical and retain their totalitarian impulses. That they would like to broadly and severely restrict the rights of individuals, women and minorities in the name of religion is obvious.”
Given the significant support base groups like al-Nahda and the Muslim Brotherhood have, does it follow that we are back to the old dichotomy of “secular tyranny or Islamists”? Not necessarily. The general point to be made is that if democracy is going to work in the Middle East and North Africa, strong constitutional checks on government power, enforced by the military, together with a firm, healthy secular opposition are needed to prevent Islamists from attaining unrestrained power.
Hence, secularists can learn much from the Turkish experience with the AKPIslamist authoritarianism become apparent. Unfortunately, after hundreds of arrests, the Turkish officer corps is choosing to act too late, if it is planning on any action to counter the AKP's autocratic initiatives. In Tunisia, it is disconcerting to note that the army appears to be largely withdrawing from the political realm, while in Egypt, the army panders to Islamist sentiment, as when it facilitated an attack on the Israeli embassy in Cairo and massacred Coptic Christian protestors in Maspero, Cairo.
In the meantime, secularist parties in Tunisia and other countries need to put aside factionalist squabbling and stand together in the promotion of liberal-democratic values, while making an effort to offer a comprehensive program of policies for voters, rather than just attacking the Islamist parties for their radical records. In Turkey, the opposition has failed to get its act together for ten years, and is behaving too erratically, condemning for the pure sake of being oppositional more sensible AKP policies like the stationing of a NATO radar system.
Ultimately, the solution for reducing the appeal of the Islamist parties and eventually marginalizing them lies in reform within mainstream Islam to bring the religion as a whole in line with modern conceptions of human rights and liberal democracy- above all in separating Shari'a from the public realm- but the suggestions outlined above should stand a reasonable chance of at least keeping the Islamist parties in check and perhaps forcing them to moderate out of political expediency, even as they remain radical at heart.
Update: Secretary-General of Al-Nahda- Hamadi Jbeli, was also recently caught on film footage proclaiming “We are in the sixth Caliphate, God willing.” So much for “moderate Islamist,” then.
Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi is a student at Brasenose College, Oxford University, and an intern at the Middle East Forum. His website is

Gingrich Should Celebrate Occupy Wall Street

The following article by Bernie Quigley points out an interesting development. Newt could become President as a result of the creation of Occupy Wall Street (OWS)!  Nothing would make us happier if that would happen. As you know, we are not fans of Obama, however it is ironic that with the President's endorsement of OWS could be his downfall as well as another Democratic "shellacking" at the polls in 2012.

However before we celebrate, it is over a year before the elections and a lot of things could happen. We could have  a major economic problem, a new war, a new attack on the US or something else catastrophic which could make voters decide they don't want to change horses.  Or the Republican candidate could really stumble in his/her debate with Obama or say something really stupid which would give Obama the inside track. There is a lot of time for good or bad things to occur that could drastically change the election. So keep your powder dry.

Here is the article--what do you think?

How OWS could advance Newt Gingrich to the presidency

By Bernie Quigley 11/18/11 08:55 AM ET
Politics is antidotal. That is, what comes next is the antidote or the equal and opposite counterforce to the disturbance of the force that just happened. It is nature finding its way back to balance. Had there been no Summer of Love, no hippies, diggers and all the adventurers of the Summer of ’67, there would have been no Ronald Reagan coming out of the wings. Reagan was California calling itself back to center just as the body responds to a virus: a stronger countervailing force than normal to balance the astonishing and rapid rise of the California counterculture.

And that is where Newt Gingrich comes in. As Reagan was antidote to the hippie movement, Gingrich is the equal and opposite counterforce to the Occupy Wall Street movement. His sudden recent support can be seen rising as a graph exactly in correlation to the rise in intensity of Occupy Wall Street.

Today’s astonishing Drudge headline: “Shock Poll Iowa: Gingrich 32% Romney 19% Cain 13%,” citing the current Rasmussen report. Gingrich is a great debater and an intellectual gadfly, but had their been no Occupy movement he might have spent out the remainder of his life in a dog-and-pony show, traveling a debate circuit of small colleges to debate policy with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as hippie high priest Timothy Leary and Watergate plumber G. Gordon Liddy did; the last exit at political Palookaville. Now he could well go all the way to the presidency. 

If I recall correctly, Gingrich’s first comments on the OWS were that it would take down the Obama presidency. He recognized that whatever was said by the spinners and sycophants, Obama was a lifelong dissident, and Gingrich correctly intuited that Obama would be connected with the squalid aspects of OWS through association. This is especially true now that Obama’s best bud (and ghostwriter?), Bill Ayers, was videotaped recently giving advice to Occupy Chicago protesters, according to a report from NBC Chicago.

Gingrich may have recognized as well, when he saw that OWS would take down the presidency, that these events would send him there instead.