THE OTHER SHOE DROPS: Updates To Previous Posts
† Coakley’s Campaign Croaking: In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Jon Keller, political analyst for WBZ-TV and WBZ Radio in Boston, notes that “the next political trend the Bay State might foreshadow is a voter backlash against the Democratic Party”:
With characteristic hubris, people in this state like to think they've been at the leading edge of American politics since the "shot heard 'round the world" in 1775. …
After Kennedy's death in August, few imagined there would be any problem replacing him with another Democrat in the U.S. Senate. It's been 16 years since Massachusetts elected a Republican to a congressional seat, 31 years since the last Republican senator left office.
The Associated Press attributes the sea-change in voting patterns that haven’t changed for decades to “A Republican's surprising nimbleness, his opponent's missteps and shifting political winds”:
In a span of weeks, state Sen. Scott Brown has capitalized on voter dissatisfaction to erase a double-digit lead held by Democrat Martha Coakley, the state attorney general. He's done it by knocking on doors in conservative South Boston to get out the vote and by holding kitchen-table conversations with voters of all stripes across the state. His pickup truck, with nearly 200,000 miles on the odometer, became a symbol of his workmanlike approach.
Coakley ran a textbook primary campaign but then stopped after winning a four-way race with 47 percent of the vote. She cut back on her appearances and disappeared from public view entirely Christmas week, confident she needed only community and political activists and their networks in what was projected to be a low-turnout special election. …
There was no stump, only press releases. And she balked at debates. When the final one a week ago ended, Brown had clearly won it.
Keller writes that Coakley then went straight to “a tired strategy out of the Obama campaign playbook linking [Brown] to ‘the failed policies of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.’” In response, Brown “link[ed] … Coakley to Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Deval Patrick - people actually in power.”
“Listen for the sound of horse hooves on the pavement,” advises Keller, “and a modern-day version of Paul Revere's historic warning - the backlash is coming.”
President Barack Hussein Obama’s advisers must have heard the hooves, because more than a few of them “have privately told party officials that they believe … Coakley is going to lose, reports CNN Senior White House Correspondent Ed Henry. (Last week, political handicappers Stu Rothenberg and Charlie Cook said the race was a toss-up, and now Rothenberg is giving Brown “a slight edge,” while Cook says “[t]his race could still go either way, but we put a finger on the scale for Brown.”)
Maybe that’s why Obama couldn’t work up the enthusiasm to make the case for Coakley. His half-hour speech before a crowd of just 1,100 at a small gym at Northeastern University, “heavy on partisan rhetoric, without much appeal to the independent voters who account for nearly half the state's electorate,” reports The Washington Post. “Obama and a parade of Democrats who appeared on stage … spent much of their time trying to explain to the audience, and to themselves, how they had lost their grip on the public “anger” - a word that has replaced “hope” as the emotion Democrats seek to channel,” notes Politico’s Ben Smith.
By tomorrow night we’ll see how persuasive Obama was, but after he jetted off on Air Force One former Quincy mayor James Sheets (D) endorsed Brown.
For his part, Brown held a rally to coincide with Coakley’s and spoke before “a packed hall of rowdy supporters” that numbered over 2,000, reports The Boston Herald. “Brown was serenaded by his daughter, former “American Idol” semi-finalist Ayla Brown, backslapped by Red Sox ace pitcher Curt Schilling, and pumped up by former “Cheers” know-it-all John Ratzenberger during the electric rally.”
And as for Ted Kennedy’s son Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), National Journal reports that after the event, he told reporters that Obama needs “Marcia Coakley” [sic] to help him dig out from the hole “George Bush and his cronies to put our country into.” And he kept calling her "Marcia." Repeatedly. Unless, he was saying “Martha,” but his speech was slurred for some reason.
† Now Is Not The Time To Talk About Race: A new Washington Post-ABC News poll that compares expectations on the election of the nation’s first biracial president when Barack Hussein Obama was inaugurated and a year into his only term as president finds that there’s been a significant dampening of hope for change, reports The Washington Post:
Although most of all those polled view Obama's election as a mark of progress for all African Americans, three in 10 say it is not indicative of broader change. About two-thirds see Obama's election as a sign of progress for all blacks in the United States, a figure unchanged from last year, but about half say his time in office has not made much difference in race relations. One in eight say it has hurt relations. …
African Americans' views on achieving racial equality have become more pessimistic since the inauguration, returning to their preelection levels. The share saying blacks have reached racial equality dropped 9 percentage points, to 11 percent, and the percentage saying equality will not be achieved in their lifetimes climbed 9 points, to 32 percent. About one in five blacks say they will never achieve racial equality. Among whites, four in 10 say African Americans already have it and 31 percent say it will happen soon.
The political polarization that drives much opinion about Obama's presidency carries over to perceptions of his impact on race relations as well. Among Democrats, about six in 10 say his presidency has helped race relations, compared with about four in 10 independents and just a quarter of Republicans. Expectations were high across party lines a year ago, with 75 percent of Democrats, 53 percent of independents and 43 percent of Republicans predicting that Obama's would help relations.
† Updates To Previous Posts (second item, Is Hasan A Crazy Terrorist, Or A Terrorist Crazy?): In "Protecting the Force: Lessons from Fort Hood," the Defense Department’s review of why Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan was repeatedly promoted, despite his supervisors’ concerns that his political and religious convictions were at odds with his oath as an officer and the country’s military commitment to defeat al-Qaeda in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. Army is unable or unwilling to name the enemy – which has serious implications for the safety of our troops and for how the generals are conducting the war.
“The public version of the report … makes no mention of Islamist extremism, and refers to the internal security threat posed by unspecified "external influences" on troops, reports The Washington Times:
Former Army Secretary Togo D. West Jr., who co-led a Pentagon review of the shooting, dismissed concerns that Maj. Hasan's religion was a factor in performance reviews during his career as an Army medical counselor. …
Mr. West said "radicalization of any sort" is the issue and that "our concern is with actions and effects, not necessarily with motivations." …
Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, a former military medical doctor [and president of the Phoenix-based American Islamic Forum for Democracy], said political correctness is a major problem for the military and the government as a whole in dealing with Islamism. …
Steven Emerson, executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, said the military's failure to understand the problem of radical Islamism is the reason the Fort Hood shootings were not prevented.
"The military is still mired in this murderous political correctness," Mr. Emerson said, adding that religion, contrary to what Mr. West said, is "every part of the problem" in the shootings.
"Hassan's jihadist beliefs were that infidels should be killed in the military," Mr. Emerson said.
Mr. Emerson said the neglect of Islamist extremism "stands in sharp contrast to the military's decision to weed out white supremacists a few years back at Fort Bragg by throwing out any serviceman who supported the Ku Klux Klan." …
Dr. Jasser said he fears that the Army will use several officers as Fort Hood "scapegoats" although they were never provided the training and directives needed to identify those prone to conducting terrorist attacks.
"We need to begin a national conversation on what is fueling terrorists and that terrorism is simply a symptom of those who mix religion with a global political goal of creating an Islamic state," he said. "Until we address that, we're going to see people who are threats fall through the filter."
As the ancient Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu advised: “The clever combatant imposes his will on the enemy, but does not allow the enemy's will to be imposed on him.” Political correctness allowed al-Qaeda to kill U.S. soldiers on a military base on American soil with one of our own soldiers (allegedly) carrying out the mission.
† Updates To Previous Posts (second item, Global Warming Is In The Eye Of The Beholder): Two years ago the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a report that included the jaw-dropping claim that there was a “very high” probability (90+ percent) that Himalayan glaciers could melt away by 2035. It has now been revealed that the report was not based on a “peer-reviewed” journal article or even on manipulated data, but on nothing more than an eight-year old article in the magazine New Scientist that included quotes from Indian scientist Syed Hasnain from a brief telephone interview. “The revelation is the latest crack to appear in the scientific concensus [sic] over climate change. It follows the so-called climate-gate scandal, where British scientists apparently tried to prevent other researchers from accessing key date [sic], reports The Times of London:
The IPCC was set up precisely to ensure that world leaders had the best possible scientific advice on climate change.
Professor Murari Lal, who oversaw the chapter on glaciers in the IPCC report, said he would recommend that the claim about glaciers be dropped: "If Hasnain says officially that he never asserted this, or that it is a wrong presumption, than I will recommend that the assertion about Himalayan glaciers be removed from future IPCC assessments." …
Some scientists have questioned how the IPCC could have allowed such a mistake into print. Perhaps the most likely reason was lack of expertise. Lal himself admits he knows little about glaciers. …
Rajendra Pachauri, the IPCC chairman, has previously dismissed criticism of the Himalayas claim as "voodoo science".
Last week the IPCC refused to comment so it has yet to explain how someone who admits to little expertise on glaciers was overseeing such a report. Perhaps its [sic] one consolation is that the blunder was spotted by climate scientists who quickly made it public.
Before “climategate,” it was easy for those who had a stake in proving global warming is a man-made phenomenon - no matter what it took - to tar skeptics as “deniers.” Now, it is becoming easier for the skeptics to counter that their critics are liars.
Every era has its scientific hoaxes and frauds, and in the fullness of time man-made global warming will take its place amongst them. Previous hoaxes and frauds were perpetrated by a single scientist, whereas man-made global warming is an international conspiracy involving dozens of scientists and will prove the most egregious scientific fraud of them all because it will have precipitously eroded the public’s trust in the objectivity of scientific methodology and analysis.
† Updates To Previous Posts (Census Worker’s Lynching Not A Case Of Right-Wing Extremism After All): KY census worker Bill Sparkman, 51, whose naked body with the word “fed” written on his chest was found hanging from a tree “had told a friend he intended to kill himself and that he had chosen the time, place and method to do it, according to State Police records, The Associated Press reports:
The records show that Sparkman's friend, Lowell Adams, who had worked for Sparkman as a part-time security guard since 2007, told investigators that the federal employee wanted his suicide to look like a murder.
Adams said Sparkman told him that he had even practiced self-asphyxiation and had been able to cause himself to black out before he staged his death. …
"In reality Bill spoke with me several times about killing himself and, on the Saturday before his death he told me he was going to kill himself on the next Wednesday," Adams said in a written statement included in more than 200 pages of investigative records. …
"Bill said he had chosen a place to kill himself 'in the woods' in Clay County and he intended to hang himself," Adams said. "He said he intended to tie his hands behind his back so it would appear that someone else did it, to appear like a murder." …
Sparkman had taken out two accidental life insurance policies totaling $600,000 that would not pay in case of suicide, authorities said. One policy was taken out in late 2008; the other in May.
Had Sparkman been killed on the job, his family also would have been be [sic] eligible for up to $10,000 in death benefits from the government.
† Updates To Previous Posts (Take The Veil Off, Or Go Home): Andre Gerin, a member of Parliament who conducted six months of hearings on the burqa controversy, believes that “full-face veils are the visible tip of an Islamist underground that threatens the French way of life” and will make his formal recommendations to the legislative body later this month, reports The Washington Post:
Gerin, who also is mayor in the working-class Lyon suburb of Venissieux, said his parliamentary commission will present formal recommendations for legislation Jan. 26. They will probably urge a nonpartisan parliamentary resolution condemning full-face veils in principle, he said, to be followed by targeted decrees or laws banning veils in public facilities such as town halls, and then a general law prohibiting full veils in as many places as possible under the French constitution. As Gerin described it, that law would bar fully veiled women from, for instance, walking down the Champs Elysees.
"Our objective is not to stigmatize these women, but to be clean, clear-cut and precise - the full-face veil has no place in France," he declared.
The WaPo adds that based on his interviews, Gerin will also press the government “to hand down new guidance for doctors, teachers and mayors who have to deal with what he called ‘threats and violence’ from fundamentalist Muslims”:
[D]octors at the Mother and Child Hospital in Lyon told him during a visit Thursday that they are threatened several times a week by angry Muslim men who refuse to allow their pregnant wives or daughters to be treated by male doctors, even for emergency births when nobody else is available. "The scope of the problem is a lot broader than I thought," he said at a news conference … "It is insidious." …
History or biology teachers frequently are challenged by fundamentalist adolescents whose religious beliefs are contradicted by what they hear in school, he said, and in some communities half the girls in junior high physical education classes refuse to participate on religious grounds.
"Their ideas are not in conformity with our society," he added.
† Updates To Previous Posts (second item, Fed Up With Farmers): CO sheep ranchers claim that they can turn a profit only if they import sheepherders from Peru, pay them less than the $9.88 per hour that other farmworkers in the state get and house them in shacks without indoor plumbing or electricity, reports The Associated Press:
Colorado Legal Services, a Denver-based nonprofit legal assistance network, visited sheepherders with temporary work visas in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming and found they sometimes toil more than 90 hours a week, can't leave the isolated sites where they work and are grossly underpaid by U.S. standards. …
Rep. Daniel Kagan, a Democrat from Denver, said sheepherders often don't speak English, don't know where they are, and depend entirely on their employers for food, water and contact with the outside world.
"It struck me as a situation rife with the possibility of abuse, and I was afraid that we were looking at a situation of indentured servitude, of near slavery, right here in Colorado, and that troubled me a lot," Kagan said. …
Colorado Legal Services interviewed 93 shepherds over two years in western Colorado and adjacent parts of Wyoming and Utah. Sixty-one came from Peru.
They work seven days a week and are on call 24 hours a day, the survey found. In some cases they are miles from the nearest town, living in small, often shabby trailers with room only for a bed, a woodburning stove and 5-gallon water coolers.
Seventy percent of workers interviewed said they didn't have a toilet and 54 percent said they had no electricity. Forty-two percent said their employers kept their passports and other documents and that they feared deportation if they complained about conditions. …
The sheepherders with the H2-A visas are exempted from federal minimum wage standards because it's hard to tabulate their hours. And while housing and food are provided, federal rules don't mandate running water, toilets or electricity.
† Updates To Previous Posts (fifth item, What It’s Like To Live In The Bronx): Last summer, The Stiletto suggested that New York magazine broaden its culinary horizons beyond Manhattan and (parts of) Brooklyn by hiring Baron Ambrosia to review restaurants in The Bronx - the latest annual "Where To Eat" issue doesn't include a single restaurant in the borough. Well, the magazine admits it "just got wind of" his show, so maybe the staff will spring for the $5.50 Express Bus fare (one way) and trek on up there and find something other than pizza to eat.
† Updates To Previous Posts (last item, 10 Reasons Michelle Obama Should Be Proud – Really Proud – Of America): This latest installment in The Stiletto Blog’s ongoing series meant to help instill the necessary pride of country in Michelle Obama’s consciousness to enable her to serve as an unofficial ambassador focuses on truck driver T.J. Lyon, whose quick wits and courage helped police capture escaped murderer Justin Welch, who had bummed a ride from him. WITI-TV (Channel 6-Milwaukee) reports:
Attendants in the gas station mentioned to Lyon that the man who was with him, Welch, looked like a guy in the newspaper. …
Lyon texted his sister, mentioning that there was a man in his truck who's wanted for murder and has a gun. Lyon's mother is a dispatcher in the Provo, Utah area and contacted Oklahoma authorities … [who] pull[ed] over the truck. … Welch apparently tried reaching for his gun but Lyon disarmed him as authorities were approaching the vehicle.