Daily Archives: 12/11/2011

Flashback: Panetta Wins $10,000 Bet Over OBL

Mitt Romney is attacked as being out of touch for suggesting that he is ready to take $10,000 from Rick Perry over the issue of health care mandates. But apparently, in the big world, this is the norm: In late October, AFP reported that Defense secretary Leon Panetta won a bet he made almost a year earlier when he was still CIA Director, namely, that he will get Osama Bin Ladin. The bet was on an old bottle of wine valued at $10,000 in the retail market.

(H/T @JacobKornbluh)


Perry: ‘It Was Over $500 Million That Went to the Country Solynda.”

CNN Reports of Perry in Iowa:

While criticizing President Barack Obama for picking winners and losers in the energy industry, he bungled the name of the most famous energy company to go under despite government assistance.

“No greater example of it than this administration sending millions of dollars into the solar industry, and we lost that money,” Perry began. “I want to say it was over $500 million that went to the country Solynda.”

Solyndra, a company which manufactured high-tech solar energy panels, went bankrupt this year after receiving $535 million in federal loan guarantees.


Opinion: Gingrich Seems to be Channeling Golda Meir

Dough Bloomfield at the Jewish Week writes: Golda once said, “There is no such thing as a Palestinian people…It is not as though we came and threw them out and took their country.  They didn’t exist.”

That was 52 years ago.  Now, long after Israel recognized the PLO as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people and successive Israeli governments of right and left have met with their leaders and conducted negotiations aimed at creating a Palestinian state, the former history professor from Georgia dismisses the Palestinians as an “invented” people.

“Remember, there was no Palestine as a state. It was part of the Ottoman Empire. And I think that we’ve have invented the Palestinian people, who are in fact Arabs and are historically part of the Arab community, and they had the chance to go many places,” Gingrich told the cable TV Jewish Channel, which posted portions of the interview online on Friday.

Support for Palestinian statehood has been the policy of the three past American administrations. Even Newt’s good friend Bibi Netanyahu has endorsed the two-state approach to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as do a clear majority of Israelis.

Elliott Abrams, who was President George W. Bush’s top Mideast advisor, dismissed Gingrich’s statement as out of touch with reality.  “There was no Jordan or Syria or Iraq, either, so perhaps he would say they are all invented people as well and also have no right to statehood. Whatever was true then, Palestinian nationalism has grown since 1948, and whether we like it or not, it exists,” he told the Washington Post.


Appeasement? U.S. Vacated Air Base Used for Drone Strikes

The NYT Reports: The Central Intelligence Agency has vacated an air base in western Pakistan that it had been using for drone strikes against militants in the country’s tribal areas, the Pakistani military said on Sunday.

Pakistan had ordered the C.I.A. to leave the Shamsi air base in protest over NATO airstrikes that killed at least 25 Pakistani soldiers near the border with Afghanistan on Nov. 26. Pakistan has also blocked all NATO logistical supplies from crossing the border into Afghanistan since the clash.

Pentagon and Obama administration officials declined to comment publicly on the departure from the Shamsi air base.

But a senior American counterterrorism official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the drone operations at Shamsi were classified, said that vacating the base would not end American counterterrorism operations in Pakistan. “The United States retains robust capabilities to fight Al Qaeda and its militant allies,” the official said. “Our operations will continue.”

Pakistani officials have repeatedly accused NATO forces of deliberately attacking the Pakistani soldiers at two military check posts; American officials have said the airstrikes were an unfortunate accident.

In response to the attacks, Pakistan gave the C.I.A. 15 days to vacate the Shamsi base, which is about 200 miles southwest of the city of Quetta in Baluchistan Province. Inter Services Public Relations, the media wing of the Pakistani military, said the last flight carrying American personnel and equipment left the base on Sunday. “The base has been taken over by the army,” the agency’s statement said.

While United States officials do not comment publicly on drone operations against militants who plan attacks on Afghanistan from havens in the Pakistani tribal areas, operations had been reduced at the Shamsi air base since May, when a Navy Seal commando raid killed Osama bin Laden near Islamabad. The United States also carries out drone strikes from bases in Afghanistan.

After the Bin Laden raid, Pakistan insisted that the C.I.A. shut down its operations at the Shamsi base, but it later relented, permitting scaled-down operations.


Texas DMV Board Approves ‘One State Under God’ License Plate

The governing board at the Texas Department of Vehicles approved a Calvary Hill license plate featuring the slogan “One State Under God,” resulting in both praise and disappointment from supporters and opponents.

By a 4-3 vote on Thursday, the state board decided to allow the religious design created by Glory Gang, a nonprofit youth organization, to be accepted into their specialty plate program, angering some who felt the state was favoring one religion over another.

“It’s become pretty clear that our governor [Rick Perry] is dismissive of religious beliefs other than his own, and now his governmental appointees have voted to send a message that Texas is unwelcoming to the religious faiths of some of its citizens,” Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller said in a statement.

“The truth is that giving government the power to play favorites ultimately diminishes religious freedom for everyone.”

Miller shared that the new license plate was not only disrespectful for the religious freedom of people of all faiths but for Christianity as well.

The Rev. Larry Bethune, a TFN board member and pastor of University Baptist Church in Austin, also expressed his disapproval. “I’m disappointed to see the state endorse a particular faith, even if it’s mine, and to see Christians trivialize our faith into slogans and symbols on the back of a bumper.”

Jonathan Saenz, an attorney and director of legislative affairs for the Liberty Institute, however, applauded the board’s recent decision, calling it a victory for religious freedom and free speech. He had testified before the DMV board in favor of the new plate.

“Private speech, protected by the First Amendment, should not be subjected to second class treatment,” Saenz stated in a statement. “The four members of the DMV board made the right decision. Anyone who opposed this plate either doesn’t know the law or has no respect for the First Amendment.”

The Liberty Institute, which works to protect religious freedoms for individuals, groups, and churches, believes that the phrase “One State Under God” is a reflection of Texas voters and Texas values, as a well as Texas’ support for the private religious speech of all in the state.

(Read More)


Loser: Former Top Gingrich Aide is ‘Open’ to Rejoin Team; Says He is Sorry for Leaving

NPR Reports: The past few weeks have seen a remarkable turnaround for Gingrich’s campaign. It wasn’t long ago when his bid was all but left for dead. This summer, nearly his entire campaign staff resigned on a single day. One of those staffers was Gingrich’s longtime communications aide Rick Tyler.

Tyler explains that he left because he lost perspective, but is now open to rejoining Gingrich’s campaign.

“I’ve left that door open,” Tyler tells weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz. “I want to help Newt.”

Tyler says Gingrich is the man to beat in Iowa and South Carolina, states that are key to Republican presidential hopefuls.

“In many ways, the gap between he and Romney is closing in [New] Hampshire,” Tyler says.

Gingrich’s critics call him undisciplined. He speaks off the cuff at times. He recently suggested that the Palestinians don’t have legitimate claims to statehood. But Tyler defends the former speaker’s approach.

“I think there has been occasion in his career where he is seemingly undisciplined,” Tyler says. “I’ve worked for Newt for over 12 years. He has always fostered a spirit of creativity and in many ways that’s served him very well.”

He credits Gingrich with several Clinton-era economic achievements: balanced budgets, welfare reform, tax cuts and job creation.


“That takes an extraordinary amount of strategy and creativity, and you have to foster creativity,” Tyler tells Raz. “So Newt does often listen to a lot of ideas and talks out loud about a lot of ideas.”

When asked what went wrong with Gingrich’s campaign that caused so many people to leave over the summer, Tyler says: “I think Newt’s biggest mistake actually was hiring senior advisers.

“Newt is probably the smartest political strategist in the country bar none. … And it turns out when Newt is the senior strategist of his campaign you can see the results. When he wasn’t, you saw the results there.”

Tyler says he thinks of Gingrich as his family and “felt terrible” to learn that he might have hurt Gingrich’s feelings by resigning.

“For my own part, I think I lost perspective in the campaign and that happens in politics from time to time,” Tyler says. “We had an avalanche fall on us.”

Tyler says that after the “onslaught of negative press and missteps,” he thought Gingrich’s campaign was doomed.

“I should have had the long view which Newt did, which is we’re going to dig ourselves out of the avalanche and ascend the mountain. That’s where he is today.”

When asked if he was apologetic, he said: “Newt, if I let you down, I’m sorry.”


7.7 Million Watched ABC Debate; Most of All 2012 Election Season Debates

ABC Reports: The ABC News Republican Presidential Debate in Iowa” drew 7.58 million Total Viewers and 2.10 million Adults 25-54 on Saturday, December 10 from 9:00-11:00pm/ET according to Nielsen’s true fast national ratings. Moderated by Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos, the “Your Voice, Your Vote” special ranked as the #1 program among Total Viewers on Saturday evening. It had more views than any other debate of the current election year.


CBS Video: Super PACs Blur the Lines of Campaign Finance

CBS Reports: The Super PAC is redefining the way money is raised and spent this campaign season. They can raise unlimited funds, but are not allowed to funnel money directly to a candidate or coordinate their activities with a campaign. However, as Wyatt Andrews reports, these lines may blur. Interesting stuff.



Video: Huntsman Ad Asks Romney to Hand Over the $10,000

The offer by Mitt Romney to bet Perry with $10,000 over mandates, has cause at least one campaign to take up Mitt on his offer. They produced a minute-long ad which shows Romney on multiple occasions saying that the individual mandate in Health Care should be used across the country; exactly what Perry claims the book says:



Video: Dem Ad Calls Gingrich ‘Original Tea Partier’

Political Punch Reports: For the first time in the presidential primary campaign, Democrats are turning their web video and “rapid response” email attack machine on former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Just hours after the ABC News presidential debate in Iowa Saturday, the Democratic National Committee blasted the GOP front-runner in a 90-second ad, labeling him the “original Tea Partier.”


Rick Perry Calls $10,000 ‘Pocket Change’ for Mitt Romney

ABC Reports: Texas Governor Rick Perry was swarmed by voters and the media as he left a wall-to-wall packed coffee house here Sunday, and as he was asked about Mitt Romney’s $10,000 wager, Perry suggested it was merely “pocket change” for the former Massachusetts governor.

“I would suggest to you that $10,000 is pocket change for Mitt to make that statement,” said Perry as he left Café Diem coffee house. “But you’ll need to ask him you know. Maybe it was just a misstatement or something.”

“Having an extra 10,000 that you would throw down on a bet just seems very out of the ordinary.”

Perry doubled down on his criticism of the Massachusetts governor for removing a sentence from his book which Perry believes suggests he viewed the Massachusetts healthcare law as a model for the country.

“I was right on the issue. In his book, “No Apologies,” he clearly had a sentence in there that talked about the individual mandates should be a model, could be a model, would be a model, I don’t have the wording exactly right, for the nation, and when they reprinted it, they took that out. That’s a fact and he can deny it as many times as he wants,” Perry said. “That is what he thinks in his heart.”


For a Change: Obamas Walk to Church Across from White House

AP Via Breitbart Reports: President Barack Obama and his family attended a worship service Sunday morning at an Episcopal church just across the street from the White House  where presidents frequently have visited.

The president, first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia made the short walk across Lafayette Square to St. John’s Church.

The sermon by Rev. Dr. Luis Leon was based on the story of John the Baptist, who told the religious leaders he was neither the Messiah nor the prophet, but a voice calling in the wilderness. Leon likened the story to the president, and voters having mistaken expectations of what Obama could realistically accomplish. Leon urged the congregation to open its eyes not to what they want him to be or how they wanted him to change life in America, but “to who he really is.”

The congregation laughed in amusement before the announcements as a young boy ran to the front of the church to get a good look at the Obamas.


Video: Obama Forgets Justice Ginsburg’s Middle and Last Name at Recent WH Event

When President Obama welcomed the guests to the Hanukkah event at the White House last Thursday afternoon, he totally forgot the full name of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is Jewish.

Said Obama while looking around the room: “We are honored to be joined by… one of the Justice of the Supreme Court Ruth.” At this moment the President made a move with his forehead and eyes saying “ah…” and then looked down at his papers and said “Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is here.”

This of course is worse than when Texas Governor Perry who was clearly referring to a specific 8-1 ruling said “eight unelected Justices,” nor is the same as when Perry said “Not Montemayor,” knowing clearly that he does not have the correct name of Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Here is the video:


Video: Former Arab Knesset Member asks ‘Since When are there Palestinian people’?

After Newt Gingrich has caused a media driven uproar by claiming that the Palestinians are an invented people, a YouTube clip has been brought to my attention where you can see a Former Arab member of the Israeli Knesset – MK Azmi Bishara – saying in an interview on the Israeli Channel 2 Television: “I Don’t think there’s a Palestinian Nation at all, There’s an Arab nation, I always thought so and I didn’t change my mind” and “Since when where there Palestinian people, where are they from”, and “I think that it is a Colonial Invention”.

So for all those Gingrich critics, Newt just reiterated what their own people say, see for yourself:

(H/T @JacobKurnbluh)


Obama Gains Support Of Once-Skeptical Group

From the Huffington Post: After a dreary summer marred by the fight over government borrowing, rank-and-file Democrats say they are growing more optimistic about President Barack Obama’s political prospects in 2012. They cite his tougher, more populist tone and what they view as a chaotic primary fight among Republicans.

Many Democrats acknowledged that high unemployment and economic uncertainty create formidable obstacles for the incumbent. But interviews with more than a dozen Democratic activists across the nation found support for Obama’s more forceful message against GOP lawmakers and interest in rebutting the presidential candidates.

Several pointed to Obama’s speech last week in Kansas, where he argued that the middle class had been under duress for the past decade and economic policies must give everyone a “fair shot and a fair share.”

“He didn’t have his voice and we didn’t have our voice,” said David Leland, an attorney in Columbus, Ohio, and former state party chairman. “But now he has successfully turned that particular corner and most people are much more enthusiastic and much more fired up about it.”

Entering 2012, Obama faces a set of economic numbers that have improved but that no incumbent would relish: unemployment of 8.6 percent in November, down from 9 percent in October; consumer confidence of 56, well below the level where a president typically gets re-elected; and an economy that has created 100,000 or more jobs five months in a row – the first time that has happened since April 2006.

Politically, Obama’s approval rating, as measured by Gallup, has been in the low 40s during the fall and hasn’t topped 50 percent since last May. Polls typically show about three-quarters of voters view the nation on the wrong track. Republicans have blamed Obama for high unemployment and rising debt, contending that his policies have failed to lift America from recession.


Video: Republican Weekly Address

From the GOP; “In the Weekly Republican Address, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) touts the Middle Class Tax Relief & Job Creation Act, legislation the House will vote on next week that will help to create thousands of new American jobs while helping families struggling with the consequences of President Obama’s failed economic policies. This jobs bill (H.R. 3630) will extend the payroll tax cut, protect Social Security, reform and extend unemployment insurance, and extend pro-growth tax relief for businesses of all sizes — while also advancing several bipartisan measures that will directly support the creation of private-sector jobs, including the Keystone XL energy pipeline. Everything in the House bill is offset by spending cuts, rather than through tax increases that would hit small businesses and destroy jobs, as proposed in Senate Democrats’ bill.”


Iran says will not return US drone

AP via Breitbart Reports: A senior  commander of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard says his country will not return a U.S. surveillance drone captured by its armed forces.

Deputy head of the Guard Gen. Hossein Salami said Sunday in remarks broadcast on state television that the violation of Iran’s airspace by the U.S. drone is a “hostile act” and warned of a “bigger” response. But he didn’t elaborate on what Iran might do.

Iranian television broadcast video Thursday of Iranian military officials inspecting what it identified as the RQ-170 Sentinel drone, and offered the first evidence that Tehranhad captured the aircraft.

Iranian state radio has said the unmanned aircraft was detected over the eastern town of Kashmar, some 140 miles (225 kilometers) from the border with Afghanistan. U.S. officials have acknowledged losing the drone.


Opinion: Gingrich Survives Debate; Perry, Paul Score

Kathie Obradovich at the DMR writers: The time Rick Perry has spent campaigning in Iowa finally began to pay off in tonight’s Republican presidential debate.  He slathered on the Iowa mentions and shoutouts to prominent state Republicans.

Giving Gov. Terry Branstad the chance to plug his initiative to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation was a shrewd move on Perry’s part.  The Iowa governor hasn’t endorsed anyone yet, and he loves the spotlight.

Rick Santorum also made the most of the time he’s spent in the state, referring to stops he’s made at Iowa businesses and delivering the first Branstad mention of the night.

But Perry really made his mark when he successfully goaded Mitt Romney into one of the worst moments he’s had in a debate so far.  Perry challenged Romney on a passage in his first book, claiming an early edition said the Massachusetts health-care program should be a model for the national plan.

Romney disputed the claim and when Perry persisted, he jokingly offered a $10,000 bet.  Perry didn’t take the bet, but he won the point.   Romney was casually offering the equivalent of about one-fifth of the average median income for an Iowa family. Romney’s privileged background was driven home later when the candidates were asked whether they’d ever had to cut costs in their own family budget.

“I didn’t grow up poor,” Romney said, and noted that if voters are looking for someone who did, they’ll have to vote for somebody else.

Perry has to make up a lot of ground, but he still has a chance to be that someone else.  He would have to beat Romney to get into the top three in Iowa, unless Newt Gingrich implodes or Ron Paul’s support proves illusory.

Gingrich, however, took on all comers and showed no sign of collapse.  Gingrich was the only target for Romney, who mocked his idea of establishing a lunar mining program and changing child labor laws.  Ron Paul smacked Gingrich for taking money from Freddie Mac. Michele Bachmann referred to him and Romney as “Newt/ Romney,” pointing out that both of them have supported individual insurance mandates in the past.

Bachmann had a strong debate, even though she tried a little too hard to appeal to supporters of Herman Cain, who dropped out of the race.  She praised his 9-9-9 tax plan for its simplicity and dubbed her own plan “win-win-win.”

Gingrich pledged as recently as Saturday afternoon that he would refrain from attacking other candidates. He’s claimed the high road throughout the series of debates, and many of Gingrich’s Iowa supporters have said they appreciate his restraint when it comes to attacking fellow Republicans. Gingrich didn’t quite keep his hands clean:  He said Romney missed being a career politician only because Teddy Kennedy beat him back in 1994. Romney got a laugh by saying if he’s realized his dream of being a pro football player, he might have spent his career in the NFL.


Debate Video: Perry Takes Down Obama Over Foreign Policy; Gets Strong Applause

RCP Reports: Gov. Rick Perry says since Obama did nothing about the drone that was taken down in Iran he is basically handing it over to Russia and China so they can take a peek at U.S. military technology.

“The idea this president now, with Iran getting one of our predator drones in their possession, and he had opportunities — he had two choices. Aactually, he had three. He chose the worse. And those two opportunities he had was to either retrieve that drone or to destroy it. And he did the worst of the three. And he did absolutely nothing. And the Russians and the Chinese will have our highly technical equipment now. This president is the problem,” Perry said at the ABC News debate in Des Moines, Iowa.

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