Nasty Primary: Good Or Bad For GOP?

Consensus is split among analysts trying to decide whether the nastiness of recent GOP Presidential primary debates is creating problems for the Republican Party or forging a battle-tested, formidable opponent to emerge in the contest against Barack Obama in 2012.

Following each debate, headlines about the ongoing feud between Mitt Romney and Rick Perry have been abundant; and recently, rhetorical transfers between the two candidates have become more and more personal. According to The Hill, many Republicans think the “friendly fire” is doing little more than ensuring Obama a victory in the 2012 election.

“What happened last night was horrific. If you applaud what happened last night, then don’t come asking me in December of 2012 what happened,” GOP strategist Frank Luntz told activists last Wednesday at the Western Republican Leadership Conference following the Las Vegas debate.

Many Republicans agree with Luntz, using words like “childish,” “unprofessional” and “desperate” to describe Republican on Republican attacks that may resurface as Democratic ammunition in the general election.

Others say the attacks are simply a means by which Republicans will be better able to identify the best man or woman for the job, according to NPR. Many people believe that last Tuesday’s debate was the first moment that candidate Romney has abandoned his cool, collected demeanor to defend against attacks. In one of the debate’s most heated moments, an exchange occurred between Perry and Romney in which the Texas Governor brought up mud slung in 2008 regarding Romney’s employing a lawn care company found to have used illegal alien labor.

Republican strategist Mike Murphy believes arguments and attacks are good moments for Republican primaries, if they end well before the general election: “Having a spirited primary that ends at a reasonable time — like mid-March — is the best outcome, because you get battle-tested, you get better, but you can unify the party quicker, and the grinding and the clawing stops in enough time for the candidate to pivot to the general election and be competitive there.”

Complete Iraq Troop Withdrawal By Dec. 31

On Friday, President Barack Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki cemented an agreement for a planned end-of-the-year U.S. troop withdrawal from the country.

The Washington Post reports that, as a result of the withdrawal, only about 150 soldiers will remain in the country to protect the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad and the thousands of American diplomats who work there.

“The rest of our troops in Iraq will come home at the end of the year,” Obama said at the White House. “After nearly nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over.”

Originally planned was an agreement between the two leaders to create special teams of American troops that would continue to train Iraqi police and military personnel. However, Obama and al-Maliki were unable to come to an agreement about how the special operations and training were to take place and scrapped the idea.

The announcement represents a more definitive end to a war that has lasted nearly a decade at a cost of about $1 trillion dollars to the United States. Some people believe that the looming withdrawal will catapult Iraq into a state of sectarian violence and open doors for Islamic militants in the country.

About 39,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq today, and roughly 100,000 U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan. If the Obama Administration successfully withdrawals troops from Iraq, analysts say the feat will become valuable campaign fodder for the incumbent President in 2012.

 

 

Louisiana: No Cash For Secondhand Goods

If you’re in Louisiana and you plan to buy secondhand goods, cash may be useless.

By order of new legislation in the State, House Bill 195, those who buy or sell secondhand goods are no longer allowed to use cash to complete the transactions more than once a month, according to The Consumerist.

Lawmakers in the State claim that the new legislation will cut down on theft of metal and other goods by creating a paper trail of money orders, checks and electronic transactions for police to use as investigative leads.

The law puts requirements on any individual who has a yard sale more than one time in a month and will also affect trading posts and flea markets. They will now all be required to keep detailed records of transactions by logging customer IDs and accepting only checks, money orders or electronic transfers. Many individuals who operate trading posts and flea markets reportedly are unaware of the new law, but backlash is expected as knowledge of the cumbersome fiscal regulation spreads.   

“The government is placing a significant restriction on individuals transacting in their own private property,” Thad Ackel Jr., a lawyer in the State told KLFY.

Pawn shops, which were already required to record transactions in detail, and nonprofit organizations are exempt from the law.

Debate Follows Familiar Trend, Paul Speaks Up

The two-hour CNN/Western Republican Leadership Conference debate in Las Vegas on Tuesday followed the same plot that the four GOP debates since Labor Day have: contention between Rick Perry and Mitt Romney, Herman Cain and 9-9-9, Michele Bachmann’s love of Israel, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum not saying too much, and Ron Paul’s cry for liberty.

About midway through the first hour of the debate, the moment which most mainstream media chose to use as a headline occurred. Perry, in an attempt to alleviate scrutiny of hypocrisy that he has been accused of, accused Romney of hiring illegal aliens as landscapers, referencing a news story from the 2008 election cycle. The two continued to quarrel throughout the rest of the night, mostly over personal issues.

Cain, who has enjoyed favorable poll numbers in recent weeks, again came under scrutiny by other candidates over his 9-9-9 plan. When he called the attacks “mixing apples and oranges,” the candidate was attacked by Romney, who noted that some States don’t want the burden of a national sales tax.

“I’m going to be getting a big bushel basket that has apples and oranges in it, because I’m going to be paying both taxes. And the people of Nevada don’t want to pay both taxes,” Romney said in one of the debate’s early lines that drew applause.

Most news reports don’t make mention of Paul’s performance in the Tuesday debate, but on the heels of the release of his “Restore America” plan that announces $1 trillion in proposed budget cuts the candidate had much to say. Many times after Paul answered a question, candidates responding would preface their statements with, “Congressman Paul is right.”

Paul took a hard stance against military spending, but said he believes the cuts he has proposed will actually make the country safer.

“This debt bubble is the thing you better really worry about because it’s imploding on us right now; it’s worldwide,” Paul said. “To cut military spending is a wise thing to do.”

He also said that foreign aid should be the easiest cut to the Federal budget that Americans make, saying that it not only bankrupts this country but makes others dependent and unstable. To his assertion that Israel would be included in the cuts, Bachmann said there is no way the cuts should be made because, “Israel is our greatest ally.”

 

Gay Play Peeves High School Kids

A handful of students at a Connecticut high school reportedly walked out of a school play after witnessing a man-on-man kiss.

During the “Zanna Don’t” musical at Hartford Public High, a group of students walked out after the homosexual act, in what school officials referred to as “kind of a symbolic thing,” according to CBS Connecticut.

Reportedly, many students expressed a desire to skip the show beforehand because of the subject matter of the musical, which depicts life at a fictitious high school, where students with academically charged interests sit atop the popularity echelon while football players are the outcasts and heterosexuals must conceal their sexual preference to avoid public scrutiny.

School officials said they were given the opportunity to have the male kissing scene removed from the play, but opted not to because of “the importance of accepting homosexual intimacy as society accepts heterosexual intimacy.”

“Our specific task force voted for this project because we believe in it, especially in light of national and local stories about LGBTQ [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer] issues and bullying,” said Louise Provenzano, who worked with the leadership group that brought the production to the school. “It’s not a comfortable topic for many folks… but our group is very passionate about bringing the message of inclusiveness and… compassion to the community.”

Despite outrage among some students and parents, the school will host two more productions of the musical.

 

 

U.K. Military And Medical Officials: Climate Change Will Cripple Planet

Climate change proponents in the United Kingdom believe that global warming poses “an immediate, growing and grave threat” to health and security around the world.

In anticipation of the U.N.’s annual climate conference in six weeks, the British Medical Journal and a handful of military experts partnered on Monday to discuss what they believe will be the effects of global warming on societies around the world.

Among the environmental consequences the group said would be resultant of lacking action on the part of developed countries are extreme weather events, loss of habitat for humans, water and food shortages and threats to livelihood.

A statement issued by the group and signed by a number of European medical and military officials says that climate change will lead to mass migrations of human beings, causing worldwide security threats.

The group urges “modest lifestyle changes” like reducing dependence on automobiles as personal ways to reduce the chance that their dismal predictions will materialize. For U.N. member governments, however, the suggestions are a little more ambitious.

The group asks the following of world governments:

  • The European Union to unconditionally agree a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions domestically by 30 percent by 2020.
  • Developed countries to adopt more ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets, to increase their support for low carbon development and to invest in further research into the impact of climate change on health and security.
  • All governments to enact legislative and regulatory change to stop the building of new unabated coal-fired power stations and phase out the continuing operation of existing plants.
  • A mechanism ensuring that all people can share equitably the benefits of a safe atmosphere without penalizing those with the least historical responsibility for climate change must be established.
  • All governments to incorporate the U.N. Security Council Presidential statement from July 20 on the potential consequences of climate change on security.
  • All governments to strive to adopt climate change mitigation targets and policies that are more ambitious than their international commitments.

Half Of Americans Support Legal Marijuana

A Gallup poll released on Monday says that half of Americans support the legalization of recreational marijuana use, about four times as many as in the 1970s.

The poll found that 62 percent of people aged 18 to 29 support legalization of the drug.  In other age groups, 56 percent of those ages 30 to 49 support legalization, and 31 percent of those 65 and older support it. Women were less likely than men to support marijuana legalization, with 46 percent support among women and 55 percent among men.

Politically, favor for legalized marijuana use was at 69 percent among liberals and 57 percent among those who described themselves as moderates, independents and Democrats. People who said they were conservatives supported legalization 34 percent of the time and Republicans 35 percent.

In the Western United States, where States like California have already seen the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes and a subsequent Federal crackdown on marijuana dispensaries that propagated following the new policy, 55 percent believe full legalization should take place. Those in the Midwest felt similarly with 54 percent support, while only 44 percent of Southerners were willing to lend support for legal marijuana.

The poll results come just about two weeks after a Federal crackdown targeting medical marijuana dispensaries licensed and regulated by State and local governments in California.

Massachusetts Principal Maligns Christopher Columbus

The principal of a Massachusetts elementary school has warned teachers about the dangers of celebrating fall holidays in class.

Anne Foley, principal of Kennedy Elementary school in Somerville, Mass., sent a faculty email implicating Christopher Columbus for “atrocities” and also advising teachers that they needed to be careful in their handling of Thanksgiving lessons, according to The Boston Herald.

“When we were young we might have been able to claim ignorance of the atrocities that Christopher Columbus committed against the indigenous peoples,” said the email. “We can no longer do so. For many of us and our students celebrating this particular person is an insult and a slight to the people he annihilated. On the same lines, we need to be careful around the Thanksgiving Day time as well.”

Foley said that she simply wanted to open dialogue among teachers about how they could better address the very European perspectives offered to children in history classes. According to the article, when asked about specific atrocities committed by Columbus, the principal failed to cite any, saying instead that “she wasn’t going to dwell on that.”

Massachusetts Representative Michael Capuano (D-Somerville) disagreed with the school principal’s political correctness assault on fall holidays: “Christopher Columbus and the Pilgrims may have had shortcomings, but they also represent the adventurous, inquisitive side of our heritage and we should recognize that they played key roles in the foundation of our great nation.”

Foley also reportedly opted to ban Halloween celebrations at the school because of possible associations with witchcraft and the presence of students that come from cultures that do not celebrate the holiday.

Clinton Visits Libya, Pledges Support, Money

Secretary of State Hilary Clinton traveled to Libya on Tuesday to offer words of encouragement and millions of dollars in U.S. aid to the country’s fledgling transitional government.

Clinton, the first cabinet member of the Administration of Barack Obama to visit Libya, reportedly made a five-hour visit to the country, hosting a town hall-style meeting with top officials of the newly placed Libyan government, according to The Washington Post. She focused on assuring new Libyan leaders of the United States’ vehement dedication to aiding the country as it tries to re-establish basic infrastructure and social order, both of which were decimated in the battle to oust Moammar Gadhafi. The Secretary of State also vowed to ensure that the thousands of shoulder-fired rockets looted from the Gadhafi compound would be retrieved with U.S. help.

One State Department official said the purpose of the meeting was to focus on “setting the table for a long-term, completely different relationship between the United States and Libya that is deep and broad.”

Americans have provided more than $130 million in aid for Libyan rebels since the beginning of the uprising earlier this year, with more promised. Reportedly, the State Department has boosted funds and staffing in recent months for the sole purpose of returning Libya to a state of order. Clinton has also announced State Department intentions of providing long-term funding for medical facilities for those wounded in the country’s civil war.

Reports indicate pro-Gadhafi forces are still holding out in cities such as Sirte, Gadhafi’s birthplace. The whereabouts of the former leader, whom State Department officials call a “lethal nuisance,” are unknown.

Republicans Put The Heat On Healthcare Reform

Feeling optimistic about the possibility of taking control of the White House and Senate in the 2012 elections, Republican activists are setting the stage for a multi-step process to chip away at Obamacare in 2013.

Many conservatives are pressuring GOP candidates to commit to using every available option to fully repeal the law before pledging to support the candidates, according to the Los Angeles Times.  Conservative healthcare experts reportedly are also discussing draft versions of an alternative to the law, a tactic seen by many people as a way to shield the GOP from past criticisms that they were willing to leave some Americans with no health coverage.

According to The Hill, Republican lawmakers called on Monday for an immediate repeal to measures of Obamacare that the President’s Administration has said are unworkable. A long-term care provision of President Barack Obama’s plan called the CLASS Act was supposed to pay for itself, but last Friday officials announced that it simply could not.

White House officials’ announcement that the CLASS Act was unsustainable prompted swift response from Republicans, many of whom say it is too late to rework the plan. The White House has issued statements saying it is against repealing provisions of the healthcare law, and some experts believe Obama may veto any attempt to repeal any part of the law.