Daily Archives: 01/02/2012
In a dramatic moment on Monday, Rick Santorum fought back tears and his wife Karen grew misty-eyed when a voter asked them about criticism of their 1996 decision to bring home a newborn who died soon after childbirth.
Santorum choked up as he described the family’s decision to bring home their child Gabriel after the newborn died in the hospital. Noting that his wife worked as a neo-natal nurse, Santorum said: “It was so important … for the family to recognize the life of that child and for the children to know they had a brother.”
The Obama administration is engaged in a full-court press to persuade Israel that Iran’s nuclear threat can be contained short of war.
The U.S. lobbying has received a mixed reception from Israel, where the Netanyahu government has not ruled out a unilateral strike on Iran.
Iran, meanwhile, is taking an aggressive stance in response to mounting sanctions.
Last week the Iranian naval chief, Adm. Habibollah Sayyari, threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz if Western sanctions intensified. The threat to close the strait — the passageway for oil from the Persian Gulf states — could presage a war, experts said.
“We may be further along the road to war than most people believe,” said Michael Adler, an Iran scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
Experts are divided as to the seriousness of the threat to cut off the strait and whether it will lead to war.
Adler said that a direct confrontation between the U.S. and Iran may be inevitable, and that the two countries are headed down that road in “slow motion.”
“Don’t underestimate what the Americans have been saying,” he said, referring to the longstanding U.S. line that all options for dealing with Iran are on the table.
Stephen Rademaker, a former top nuclear arms negotiator in the administration of President George W. Bush, said the blowback Iran would suffer for shutting down the strait suggests that Sayyari was bluffing.
“It would be extremely difficult for them to close the strait for more than a brief period of time,” said Rademaker, now a principal at the Podesta Group, a lobbying shop and think tank. “The U.S. Navy knows how to keep waterways open.”
The resultant war also would give the U.S. a pretext to attack suspected Iranian nuclear sites, he said.
Brooklyn Councilman Charles Barron appears quite confident indeed about his recently launched Congressional campaign, even though it looks to be a difficult three-way slog against both the incumbent, Ed Towns, and Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries.
A post earlier today announced, “Change is inevitable. Lead, follow or get out of the way. OUR VICTORY IS CERTAIN! HAPPY NEW YEAR!”
Such confidence is hardly surprising from a candidate who announced his campaign by assuring his supporters, “Remember the struggle may be long, but the victory is certain.”
The AP Reports: A New Jersey lawmaker is making a last-minute bid to legalize Internet gambling that occurs within the state’s borders.
Democratic state Sen. Raymond Lesniak tells The Associated Press he’ll try to get a bill through the Legislature and on Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s desk by next week. The goal is to make New Jersey a national leader in online gambling, now that the federal government says in-state bets don’t violate the law.
New Jersey tried to become the first in the nation to approve Internet gambling in 2011, but Christie vetoed the bill, fearing it would violate federal law.
If you think Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul or Mitt Romney is the solution to the nation’s problems, you’ve got to be a registered Republican to express your support in Florida’s primary.If you’re not, you’ve got to act fast.
Tuesday is the registration deadline for the Jan. 31 primary.Requirements are simple: Be at least 18 years old by primary day — Jan. 31 — and a U.S. citizen. Felons who haven’t had their voting rights restored and people judged mentally incompetent aren’t eligible.
Those who want to register may do so by filling out a registration form and getting it back to the Supervisor of Elections Office by the end of the business day Tuesday, or make sure it’s postmarked by the deadline.People can register at county elections offices, public libraries and driver’s license offices.
Other government offices, such as city halls and post offices, often have the forms. But it’s up to the person registering to get the form to the Elections Office. Application forms also are available online, but they need to be printed out and returned to the Elections Office because a signature is required.
A total of 119,188 people participated in the 2008 Iowa Republican caucuses. That’s about 20 percent of Iowa’s registered Republicans, 4 percent of the population of Iowa, and .04 percent of the total U.S. population; it’s also less than half as many people as fit into the seats at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Every four years, this relatively tiny group of people — a subset of a subset of a subset – holds extraordinary power. Their whims, and those of their Democratic counterparts, are breathlessly followed by a narrative-hungry media laser-focused on the first-in-the-nation voting event, and candidates that do poorly in the caucuses often drop out of the presidential race.
This despite the fact that they are far from a representative sample of the U.S. population or their party as a whole. Iowa caucus-goers are overwhelmingly white – the state’s population is less than ten percent black and Hispanic combined, compared to 28 percent nationwide – and on the Republican side, 60 percent identified as born again or evangelical in 2008. The Hawkeye State is more rural than much of the country, meanwhile, and its 6 percent unemployment rate is 2.6 percentage points below the rest of the country.
Then there’s the fact that Iowa holds caucuses instead of a primary, a system that requires voters to attend an evening community meeting on a chilly night and sit through a series of speeches before casting a ballot. (Work in the evening? Tough luck!) The caucus process tends to attract only the most committed voters, which tends to skew the results in the direction of party activists rather than the more casual voters more likely to cast ballots in a primary.
AJC urged President Obama to approve the Keystone XL pipeline construction as a vital step for strengthening energy security, particularly crucial following recent threats by Iran to block a major oil supply channel.
“As if to emphasize the need for urgent action, just this week, in direct response to pending U.S. economic sanctions, Iran threatened to blockade the Strait of Hormuz—a move that, if carried out, would have profound economic and strategic consequences,” AJC Executive Director David Harris wrote in a letter to President Obama.
The latest sanctions were introduced after the International Atomic Energy Agency warned in its latest report that Iran is progressing toward nuclear weapons capability. In response, Iran’s first vice president, Mohammad-Reza Rahimi, threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, through which about one-fifth of the world’s oil flows.
“As AJC wrote earlier to Secretary Clinton, we have long recognized the link between energy security and national security—and believe the United States must pursue a comprehensive, multifaceted energy policy targeted at substantially reducing dependence on oil from hostile or unstable foreign sources,” Harris wrote. “The Keystone project will be a critical part of that broad-ranging approach.”
The administration has until late February to make a decision on whether to approve the Keystone project, according to a provision of a bill that President Obama signed into law on December 23, setting a 60-day deadline for the administration to rule on the project.
AJC continues to recognize the need to ensure that the 1,700-miles pipeline be environmentally sound. But the global advocacy organization points out that according to a State Department assessment, a set of 57 additional safety requirements issued for the pipeline would, if met, provide “a degree of safety over any other typically constructed domestic oil pipeline system under current code.”
Reuters Reports: The number of civilians killed in violence in Iraq rose slightly in 2011 from the previous year, as daily bombings and attacks continued to claim victims almost nine years after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, a study showed on Monday.
A total of 4,059 civilians were killed in violent incidents in Iraq in 2011, compared to 3,976 in 2010, rights group Iraq Body Count said in its annual study.
That took the number of civilian deaths recorded since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam and unleashed a sectarian conflict to more than 114,000.
“The number of civilian deaths in Iraq in 2011 was almost at the same level as in 2010 – there has now been no noticeable downward trend since mid-2009,” IBC said in a statement.
Perry will make three campaign stops today, joined by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, state Comptroller Susan Combs, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback.
Perry’s goal Tuesday is to exceed expectations — which a third-place finish would probably accomplish. That would allow him to position himself as the leading alternative, other than Paul, to Romney, who is ahead in Iowa polls and is also expected to win next week’s primary in New Hampshire.
Expectations have fallen considerably since Perry entered the race in August and quickly shot to the top of polls. And on Sunday, Perry sought to keep them low.
“We got in the race, obviously, in August,” Perry said on “Fox News Sunday.” “Some of these folks have been running for years in Iowa and multiple times in Iowa.”
Romney and Paul have been in a close race for first place in numerous Iowa polls. Santorum, who has been near the back of the pack for most of the race but is now running third, is the candidate who shows the most momentum by stressing a socially conservative message.
Perry ignored Santorum for most of the campaign but has targeted him over the past week, noting that Santorum voted for debt ceiling increases and earmarks when he represented Pennsylvania in the U.S. Senate. Earmarks allow members of Congress to quietly direct federal dollars to pet projects in their home states and districts.
South Korea‘s president, Lee Myung-bak, has said he is willing to “open the door” to better relations with North Korea under its new leader, Kim Jong-un, but warned of strong retaliation if provoked by the regime.
Lee, a conservative who ended unconditional aid to the North four years ago, said the coming year could bring change in cross-border relations and, perhaps, progress on Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programme.
“The situation on the Korean peninsula is now entering a new turning point,” he said in a televised address on Monday. “But there should be a new opportunity amid the change and uncertainty.
“Our biggest goal is the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula. We are leaving the window of opportunity open. We will be willing to open the door to a new era on the Korean peninsula if North Korea shows sincerity.”