South Korea deal sparks AFL feud

December 6, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 

Jane Hamsher has the latest on an intense fight inside the AFL-CIO at the moment over whether the federation — which tries to speak with one voice — will follow the United Auto Workers in its unusual support for a trade deal with North Korea. 

Leo Gerard, the president of the Steelworkers and a key player in swaying the federation, offered a pointed non-endorsement of the deal to Huffington Post, and Hamsher reports that an official at another key union, the Machinists, was …less enthused, calling the UAW’s move a “yellow belly flip flop” for token concessions worth “worth a bucket of warm spit” and a deal that amounts to "a suicide mission for the 2012 election."

A particular concern: That the deal will open the door to Chinese suppliers. 

I’ve got calls out to the Steelworkers and Machinists, and will update if I get more detail.

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South Korea–U.S. Trade Deal: Better Late Than Never

December 6, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 

When the proposed South Korea–U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) was initially signed on June 30, 2007, Heritage Foundation analysts recognized significant benefits that would come from implementation of this landmark trade deal. Those benefits included more exports, more export-related jobs, and a stronger economy. As the Obama Administration has pointed out, the agreement would increase U.S. exports by billions of dollars and create tens of thousands of new export-related jobs.

KORUS would also strengthen the U.S. economy by reducing domestic trade barriers that act like a tax on American consumers and businesses, such as the “temporary” 25 percent tariff on imported pickup trucks that has been driving up prices ever since the U.S. government imposed it in 1963. As economic theory and facts reported in The Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom demonstrate, reducing trade barriers—including those we place on ourselves—increases our economic growth. Exports are good, but imports create jobs for Americans, too. Just ask the longshoremen, truck drivers, lawyers, accountants, marketers, and sales clerks whose livelihoods depend on the streams of imported goods that increase our standard of living.

Although KORUS was completed over three-and-a-half years ago, President Obama refused to submit it to Congress until he put his Administration’s mark on it.

His changes include charging American consumers a 2.5 percent tax on cars made in South Korea for five more years instead of eliminating it immediately, as originally agreed to, maintaining the 25 percent tariff on imported pickup trucks for eight more years, and forcing South Koreans to pay taxes on U.S. pork until 2016 instead of 2014.

Although the final document has yet to be released to the public, it appears that despite such backtracking, KORUS will eliminate 95 percent of barriers to trade in consumer and industrial goods between people living in the United States and those living in South Korea within the next five years.

If so, this trade agreement will represent a welcome deviation from the Obama Administration’s other job-killing initiatives. Given the highest unemployment rates and weakest economy in a generation, it is just unfortunate that Americans had to wait for it for so long.

The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.

Santorum steered money to Iowa and South Carolina

December 6, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 

Washington (CNN) – Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum used two recently-formed political action committees to send tens of thousands of dollars to candidates in Iowa and South Carolina in the closing weeks of the midterm election, another indication that the Republican’s presidential ambitions are very real.

Between its launch on Sept. 20 and Election Day, Santorum’s Iowa Keystone PAC contributed over $ 48,000 to 16 GOP candidates in the first-in-the-nation caucus state, including two contributions totaling $ 10,000 to Republican Gov.-elect Terry Branstad.

Two other statewide candidates – Secretary of State candidate Matt Schultz and Treasurer candidate Dave Jamison – also received $ 10,000 from the PAC, while Attorney General candidate Brenna Findley got a $ 9,000 assist. Schultz won his race. Jamison and Findley, despite strong challenges, came up short.

During the same period, Santorum also used a new Pennsylvania-based group, PA Keystone PAC, to send $ 16,000 to 10 Republican candidates in the pivotal early primary state of South Carolina.

Of those, Republican Gov.-elect Nikki Haley received the largest check, a $ 3,500 contribution. Lieutenant Gov. candidate Ken Ard, Attorney General candidate and Treasurer candidate Curtis Loftis, all of whom won their races, collected $ 2,500 each.

Santorum is wrapping up a two-day tour of the Palmetto State on Monday.

CNN Political Ticker

Obama inks South Korea free-trade agreement

December 6, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 

But will Congress ask, “Where’s the beef?”

When Barack Obama came back empty-handed from his trip to South Korea, we noted the failure to get a free-trade agreement as a major and embarrassing failure.  Over the weekend, though, the administration announced that the US and the RoK had finalized an agreement on free trade, and that Obama would push hard for quick […]

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Hot Air » Top Picks

South Koreans provoke the North- Assange provokes me

December 6, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 

I know it is wrong, but I’m having trouble being too worried about the Koreas trying out some of their hardware.

SEOUL, South Korea – South Korean troops pushed ahead with naval firing drills Monday, a day after North Korea warned the exercises would aggravate tensions between the rivals following the North’s deadly shelling of a front-line South Korean island.

Regional powers stepped up diplomatic efforts to head off further conflict, with President Barack Obama speaking to China’s Hu Jintao by telephone Monday and top diplomats from the U.S., South Korea and Japan scheduled to hold talks later in Washington.

I look forward to reading about the diplomatic efforts when Assange takes his next public dump. He was whining in an interview and claimed to have received hundreds of death threats, which I believe, but also that their were hundreds of US military militants after him. I don’t recall that MOS, anyone know what militant is. Oh and Ass-Flange, if the US military wanted to hush your cakehole it would just be hushed. The only question would be a nice hole ventiliating your cranium or a larger pile of rubble and your rescrambling into component molecules.

The sad thing is this most recent collection of missives from those we send to do our formalized lying in formal wear shows they were actually doing something beside nibbling petir fours by the pool. Hillary had ‘em spying, good on ‘ya Hills. I think that maybe we should publish all their cables as a regular practice. But aside from the fact that our diplomats may actually be in the game, this collection of tabloid fodder obscures the fact that when Assange released the sitreps from Afghanistan, there were names and villages of Afghans who had worked with us. That was so far over the line, that I think he should have disappeared right then. That is an attack on our war efforts and the lives of anyone who conspires with the evil crusaders as we try to scrabble some sort of peace together.

We have been bitch-slapped around by that pitiful, petty villian for way too long. Either Eric Holder and Obama man up and indict Assange frog marching him in chains to a civilian courthouse in NYC (Ha ha ha ha I know), or we should just make him go away, pour encourager les autres. Stealing from the United States and screwing up our good work around the world should hurt if you do it. Bring the pain!



Pigford: Obama’s Down Payment on the 2012 Rural South Vote

December 6, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 

This past Tuesday, Nov 30th, the Democratically-controlled lame-duck House passed the $ 1.2 billion Black Farmer’s Settlement funding known as Pigford II. The previous week the bill had passed the Senate with assurances of strict measures to protect the taxpayers against the rampant fraud that has been widely documented from multiple sources in both the media and government.

The bill passed the House 256-152, and is now headed to President Obama to sign: the man who single-handedly introduced the Pigford II legislation in 2007 to curry favor with rural black Southern voters, to which he was trailing significantly to then front-runner Hillary Clinton.

Obama and National Black Farmers Association Founder John Boyd

As of today, the American taxpayer is now on the hook for an additional $ 1.2 billion of payments to black “farmers,” whom did not have to provide proof of:

-Having ever farmed or having attempted to farm

-Having ever had a loan at the USDA

-Having ever filled out paperwork for a farm loan

-Having ever attempted to get a loan.

The only burden of proof requirement was filling out a form stating that they had “attempted” to farm, and have a family member vouch for that assertion.

The U.S. government would then send a  $ 50,000 check to these “farmers.”

With both the USDA and Black farmers advocate group’s estimating a maximum of 3,000 farmers who may have had legitimate grievances at the time of the original action, President Barack Obama and the Democratic majorities in Congress have just approved payments covering up to 94,000 claimants, although no more than 33,000 black farmers ever existed at any period the suit covers.  Of those 33,000 only a tiny fraction ever had loans with the USDA.

After Pigford I, once the word was out that the U.S. government was handing out $ 50,000 checks with reckless abandon, the floodgates of new “farmers” claiming discrimination opened.  The judge in the Pigford case refused to re-open the settlement for these late claimants, and in 2007 Barack Obama single-handedly ignored the checks and balances of our system of government, and overturned the work of our judicial branch and a Clinton-appointed judge.

This past Tuesday Nov 30th, criminals, fraudsters, trial and reparations attorneys, the Congressional Black Caucus, President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid won. To add injury to insult, these politicians stripped out numerous Republican attempts to add more stringent fraud safeguards to the legislation while assuring a maximum payday for the trial attorneys: at least $ 100 million in taxpayer money will go their way.

The American people lost. The following report shows that most if not all of the $ 1.2 billion is likely fraudulent, and instead of buying justice, President Obama has just put a down payment on his purchase of the 2012 rural Southern vote with American taxpayer funds.

Big Government

D’oh! South Carolina Inadvertently Bans Beer And Wine Permits

December 6, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 

Oops, looks like it could be a pretty dry month in South Carolina. A new law authored by state Rep. Mike Pitts (R) inadvertently bans businesses and individuals from obtaining temporary beer and wine permits.

The bill was designed to make it easier for nonprofit organizations to obtain temporary beer and wine permits, including multiple permits under one application. Traditionally, an organization would have to obtain a new permit — and also submit to a new background check — for each individual event, Tom Sponseller, head of the South Carolina Hospitality Association, told TPM.

The new law helps streamline that process — but because of the way it’s worded, it also (unintentionally) limits the scope of the law regulating beer and wine permits to apply only to nonprofits and political groups.

As the Free-Times explains:

Because of that law, starting in January, the Department of Revenue will only grant special-event permits to serve beer and wine to nonprofit organizations and political parties. They will stop issuing permits to businesses and individuals — promoters, caterers and other event organizers, for example — who must obtain licenses every time they want to serve beer and wine in a location without a permanent beer and wine license.

“Somebody screwed up,” says Tom Sponseller, head of the South Carolina Hospitality Association.

Republican state House Majority Leader Kenny Bingham told the Free-Times that officials are now trying to figure out what exactly happened.

“There was not a hoopla on the floor about it,” Bingham told the Free-Times. “Usually when there’s something controversial, we hear about it.”

But lawmakers’ hands are tied until the next legislative session, which begins January 11. In the meantime, Sponseller said, a prominent beer festival is scheduled in Columbia, and the event organizers won’t be able to obtain a permit unless they find a nonprofit to partner with.

“We don’t want this to harm some of the great events this state has to attract visitors,” he said. “Hopefully the legislature will fix this as soon as they come back.”

Bingham told TPM the mistake was a result of an error made in the bill drafting process.

“No one asked for (the bill) to be changed, no one intended it to be changed,” Bingham said. “I’ve been told by members of the judiciary committee that the language will be reverted in January.”

Pitts did not respond to TPM’s request for comment.


Wonkbook: Likely deal will extend tax cuts and unemployment insurance; South Korea and U.S. finalize trade pact; Romer on uncertainty

December 6, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 


Top Stories

Senate Republicans successfully filibustered middle-class tax cuts, reports Shailagh Murray: “The Senate on Saturday rejected two Democratic proposals to let tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans expire, a symbolic but bitter defeat that now forces the Democratic majority to compromise with Republicans or risk allowing tax breaks to lapse for virtually everyone at year’s end. Efforts quickly shifted to negotiations that would temporarily extend the Bush-era tax cuts for all Americans, an outcome that seemed increasingly likely. The pair of nearly party-line votes – one to preserve the tax cuts for only the first $ 250,000 of family income, and the other for the first $ 1 million of income – also represented a final stand for Democrats.”

A likely compromise would extend all of the tax cuts as well as unemployment insurance, report David Brown and Lori Montgomery: “The Senate Republican leadership telegraphed on the Sunday morning talk shows that a compromise to extend unemployment compensation and the George W. Bush-era tax cuts is in the offing. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Jon Kyl (Ariz.), the Republican whip, told different interviewers that they expect Congress to vote for the tax cuts, which have been in effect for a decade, to continue unaltered for at least several years in exchange for an agreement to extend jobless benefits that are about to expire for millions of workers.”

David Leonhardt names nine other things we could buy with the $ 60 billion-a-year it’ll take to extend the tax cuts for the rich:

The Bush tax cut fight isn’t the main source of economic uncertainty, writes Christina Romer: “The biggest question is whether the top tax rate will be 35 or 39.6 percent. That is not the degree or kind of uncertainty that is likely to cause businesses and consumers to put hiring and spending decisions on hold. The more genuine source of tax uncertainty is related to the government’s long-run budget deficits. Congressional Budget Office projections show that the current budget trajectory is grossly unsustainable…The only way to resolve this fundamental uncertainty is to enact a credible long-run deficit reduction plan that shows what spending will be cut and what taxes will be raised, once the economy returns to full employment.”

The US and South Korea have finalized a free trade pact, reports Howard Schneider: “U.S. and South Korean negotiators agreed Friday to a free-trade deal that the Obama administration hopes will increase American exports by billions of dollars annually and create momentum for a broader push on free trade in 2011. The pact is the administration’s first major foray into the arena of free-trade politics, and officials said it may be followed by efforts to have Congress approve pending deals with Panama and Colombia, and reinvigorate the larger Doha round of global trade talks. The deal marks a victory for President Obama, who was widely criticized after failing to secure the pact during his Asia trip after last month’s midterm elections.”

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’90s flashback interlude: Pavement play “Kennel District” live.

Still to come: Wall Street is issuing bonuses now in case the Bush tax cuts lapse; Republicans plan to make Democrats choose between funding public health and funding a “doc fix”; the Department of Homeland Security is juking the stats on immigration; a Mexican draft proposal is starting off the Cancun climate summit; and dogs using laptops improperly.


Wall Street is moving up bonuses in case the Bush tax cuts do not expire, report Louise Story and Gretchen Morgenson: “Worried that lawmakers will allow taxes to rise for the wealthiest Americans beginning next year, financial firms are discussing whether to move up their bonus payouts from next year to this month…If Congress does not extend the Bush-era tax cuts for the highest income levels, a typical worker who earns a $ 1 million bonus would pay $ 40,000 to $ 50,000 more in taxes next year than this year, depending on base salary. Goldman Sachs is one of the companies discussing how to time bonus season, according to three people who have been briefed on the discussions. Pay consultants who work with major Wall Street companies say that just about every other large bank has also considered such a move in recent weeks.”

Fed chair Ben Bernanke hinted more quantitative easing may be coming, reports John Maggs: “Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is defending the Fed’s decision to borrow $ 600 billion to help stimulate the struggling economy, saying it’s possible the Fed might spend even more…One reason why more economic stimulus might be needed is that the recovery is weak, said Bernanke. Asked whether the recovery was ‘self-sustaining,’ he replied ‘It may not be. It’s very close to the border — it takes about two and a half percent growth just to keep unemployment stable. And that’s about what we’re getting. We’re not very far from the level where the economy is not self-sustaining.’”

Elizabeth Warren could end free bank accounts, reports Tom Braithwaite: “Elizabeth Warren, the US administration’s consumer financial protection supremo, is working on a deal with banks that would lead to more transparent products but could spell the end of free bank accounts. Ms Warren is seeking – through transparency rather than prohibition – to wean the industry off ‘hidden’ fees, such as overdraft charges, which can represent up to a third of core revenues for some banks. She is pushing the industry to adopt a shorter mortgage form and clearer disclosure for credit cards.”

Democrats should let the Bush tax cuts expire, writes Paul Krugman: “Think about the logic of the situation. Right now, the Republicans see themselves as successful blackmailers, holding a clear upper hand. President Obama, they believe, wouldn’t dare preside over a broad tax increase while the economy is depressed. And they therefore believe that he will give in to their demands. But while raising taxes when unemployment is high is a bad thing, there are worse things. And a cold, hard look at the consequences of giving in to the G.O.P. now suggests that saying no, and letting the Bush tax cuts expire on schedule, is the lesser of two evils.”

European governments could learn from the 2008 American bailouts, writes Alistair Darling:

Adorable, computer-illiterate animals interlude: 31 puppies use laptops incorrectly.

Health Care

Republicans will force Democrats to choose between Medicare or health-care reform’s public health initiative, reports Sarah Kliff: “Congressional Republicans are hoping to put Democrats in a no-win new year’s jam: defund a big chunk of their health care overhaul or slash Medicare payments instead. Despite rampant repeal rhetoric, Republicans have so far struggled to dismantle any part of health reform. Now, they see a new path forward: pilfer health reform dollars to pay for the next ‘doc fix,’ the must-pass patch to Medicare doctor payments. Republican Senate aides familiar with the issue told POLITICO they are seriously looking at the new law’s $ 15 billion public health commitment to finance a one-year doc fix in the next session of Congress.”

The federal government is compiling a database of federal employees’ health records:

Arizona is leading the country in health care cuts, reports Kevin Sack: “The options available to states for cutting Medicaid have been limited because the federal stimulus package and the health care law have required them to maintain eligibility levels. That has left states to cut payments to providers and trim benefits not required by federal regulations. Many states, including Arizona, have done both. A September report by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 39 states cut provider payments and 20 cut optional benefits in their 2010 fiscal years, with similar numbers planning to do so in 2011. Arizona reduced Medicaid payments to doctors by 5 percent last year and has frozen payments to hospitals and nursing homes for two years. All providers will undergo another 5 percent cut on April 1, Ms. Carusetta said.”

Domestic Policy

The Senate will vote Wednesday on the DREAM Act:

The GOP wants to use tax-exempt bonds to force disclosures about pension funding, reports Michael Corkery: “A bill introduced last week by three prominent House Republicans to deny states and localities the ability to sell tax-exempt bonds—the lifeblood for many governments—unless they report their pension-fund liabilities to the Treasury Department…The goal, the congressmen say, is to get a better handle on funding woes of public pensions, which they say are not always forthcoming about the true extent of their financial exposure.”

The Obama administration will require cars to have rear-view video cameras and monitors:

SNES interlude: A guy proposes via EarthBound.


The Mexican government has issued a draft climate proposal at the Cancun summit, reports Fiona Harvey: “At the weekend, the Mexican hosts published a draft negotiating text that would require countries to try to prevent global warming of more than 2ºC above pre-industrial levels – viewed by scientists as the safety limit – while giving options for providing funding to developing countries and protecting forests. Jake Schmidt, of the US environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council, said: ‘This text sets the stage for an agreement, but only if countries find ways to compromise. Narrowing down the differences that remain will not be easy.’”

Republicans are resisting attempts to regulate “fracking”

Billions in ethanol subsidies could pass in the lame duck session, reports Darren Goode: “Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) undoubtedly gave comfort to backers of the corn-based gasoline additive when he included a sought-after one-year extension of a key expiring ethanol tax credit as part of a much-larger middle class tax cut package he unveiled Thursday…The credit cost taxpayers an estimated $ 5 billion this year and lowering it to 36 cents would bring the annual cost down to $ 3.8 billion. Baucus also proposed extending for a year the 54-cent-per-gallon tariff on importe;

Rep. Joe Barton is gaining conservative support in his bid to chair the Energy and Commerce committe:

Closing credits: Wonkbook is compiled and produced with help from Dylan Matthews, Mike Shepard, and Michelle Williams. Photo credit: White House.

Ezra Klein

Morning Brief: South Korea: We will retaliate if North strikes again

December 6, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 

South Korea: We will retaliate if North strikes again

Top news: South Korean President Lee Myung-bak’s nominee to take over as defense chief said in his parliamentary confirmation hearing that his jets would bomb the North if North Korea forces staged another attack like last week’s deadly shelling. 

"In case the enemy attacks our territory and people again, we will
thoroughly retaliate to ensure that the enemy cannot provoke again," said Kim Kwan-jin, a four star general and former infantry commander. The hearing is considered a formality since parliament doesn’t have the power to reject Lee’s choice.

Lee’s government, which came into office promising a tough line against North Korea, has come under intense criticism for its mild response to last week’s attack and the sinking of a South Korean destroyer in March. The South fired only 80 round of artillery last week in response to 170 by the North. 

The South Korean government has been reluctant to take major military action against the North as Seoul likes only 30 miles from the North Korean border, well within rocket range. 

Japan and the United States began their largest ever joint military drills on Friday. The exercise comes just a few days after similar drills with U.S. and South Korean forces in the Yellow Sea. 

World Cup:Russia and Qatar were named by FIFA as the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosts.


  • WikiLeaks was forced to switch to a Swiss domain name this morning as a result of repeated hacker attacks on its U.S. domain. 
  • The Spanish government has approved a new package of austerity measures.
  • Police have arrested four men in connection with an attempted car bombing in Northern Ireland.  


  • Middle East



  • A Nigerian military raid in the Niger delta killed as many as 150 people according to human rights groups.  
  • The Ivory Coast’s electoral commission declined to certify presidential election results.
  • Nigeria’s anticorruption police announced plans to file charges against former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney. 


FP Passport

Financier for ‘Mullah Dadullah Front’ captured in Afghan south

December 4, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 

The corpse of Taliban commander Mullah Dadullah. Click to view.

Coalition and Afghan security forces captured a “key” financier for a little known, radical wing of the Taliban known as the Mullah Dadullah Front, which is led by a former Guantanamo Bay detainee.

The Taliban financier, who was not identified, was captured along with an undisclosed number of fighters yesterday by a combined special operations force during a raid in the district of Kandahar in the province of the same name.

ISAF said the Taliban financier “worked directly for the Mullah Dadullah Lang Allegiance leader” and “was heavily involved in financing and the transferring of funds for Helmand province-based insurgents.”

The Mullah Dadullah Lang Allegiance is better known as the Mullah Dadullah Mahaz, or Front. It is named after Mullah Dadullah Lang, a popular but brutal and effective commander, was killed by British special forces in Helmand province in May 2007. Dadullah was responsible for embracing al Qaeda’s ideology of waging global jihad, and incorporated al Qaeda tactics, including the use of suicide bombers, on the battlefield.

The Mullah Dadullah Front operates largely in the southern Afghan provinces of Kandahar, Helmand, and Uruzgan, and is considered the most effective and dangerous Taliban group in the region. The Mullah Dadullah Front has been active in attempting to sabotage negotiations between the Afghan government and lower-level Taliban leaders and fighters in the south.

Although ISAF did not name the leader of the Mullah Dadullah Front, US military and intelligence officials told The Long War Journal that it is led by none other than Mullah Adbul Qayoum Zakir, the former Guantanamo Bay detainee who has since been promoted as the Taliban’s top military commander. He is considered to be one of the most radical Taliban commanders and is closely allied with al Qaeda.

Zakir, who is also known as Abdullah Ghulam Rasoul, was released released from US custody in December 2007, and was then promptly freed by the Afghan government [see LWJ report, The Taliban’s surge commander was Gitmo detainee]. Zakir immediately returned to the Taliban and quickly rose in the ranks. This spring, Zakir was designated as one of two Taliban commanders to replace Mullah Baradar, Mullah Omar’s former deputy and the second in command of the Taliban who was put into protective custody by Pakistan’s intelligence service earlier this year. Zakir now commands all military operations in Afghanistan.

Zakir and other Taliban leaders operate from the Pakistani border city of Chaman in Baluchistan as the location shields them from US and NATO operations.

The spokesman for the Mullah Dadullah Front has been identified as Barialay Rahbarmal. In mid-October, Rahbarmal claimed the Taliban killed seven Afghan soldiers in Marja area of Helmand province using a new type of hand grenade. Rahbarmal made the claim to Al Qalam, a jihadist website run by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed, a terror group that supports al Qaeda and is backed by Pakistan’s military and intelligence services.

1 The Long War Journal

SEC title game arrives for Auburn, South Carolina – Atlanta Journal Constitution

December 3, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 

Kansas City Star
SEC title game arrives for Auburn, South Carolina
Atlanta Journal Constitution
The past two SEC championship games were 3 1/2-hour commercials for the league's dominance. Powerhouses Florida and Alabama squared off in de facto national championship semifinals. Both games starred past or eventual Heisman Trophy
Auburn plays for a title — and shot at
Clash In Atlanta: SEC Title Game
Hoops plays second fiddle in
Orlando Sentinel –Opelika Auburn News –New York Times (blog)
all 1,396 news articles »

Sports – Google News

South Florida congressional delegation faces challenges working together

December 1, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

When U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Plantation, becomes part of the local congressional delegation – the seven-member group with districts that include parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties – don’t expect the group to join in singing Kumbaya anytime soon – if ever.

West has been in touch with, and received congratulations from, two of the four Broward-Palm Beach county members who live in the two counties, U.S. Reps. Tom Rooney, R-Tequesta, and Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton.

Relations appear less harmonious with U.S. Reps. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston.

Both were sharply critical of West during the campaign. Wasserman Schultz held a late October rally outside West’s campaign office at which she condemned him as anti-woman and labeled him an extremist.

As a candidate, West referred to Hastings – who was removed from the federal bench in the 1980s – as an “impeached federal judge.” Post-election, West included Hastings among the black congressmen who are “black eyes” for the Congressional Black Caucus. He put Hastings as No. 3 on that list – behind U.S. Reps. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., and Maxine Waters, D-Calif., both of whom face ethics charges.

West said he’s willing to work with his colleagues – if they’re willing to put aside ideological differences.

“Folks need to understand if you want to be rigid ideologues and not do the things which are best for the people down here in South Florida then we will have a little bit of a gnashing of teeth,” he said in an interview.

Broward Politics

The disappearing Democratic south, cont’d

December 1, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

(function(){var s=function(){__flash__removeCallback=function(i,n){if(i)i[n]=null;};window.setTimeout(s,10);};s();})();

WNYC’s The Takeaway has interviews with two state legislators who switched from the Democratic Party to the GOP. Walker Hines, a Louisiana state Rep. on the show:

"The national Democratic party led by President Obama and Nancy Pelosi from my experience has ostracized cultural conservative Democrats so much that most including myself could no longer feel comfortable remaining a Democrat.

POLITICO’s Jonathan Martin recently addressed the same theme, reporting that Democratic ranks have thinned drastically in the South, and the party lost control of several legislative chambers across the region.

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Ben Smith’s Blog

Iranian missiles in South America

December 1, 2010 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comment 

Germany’s Die Welt had a major story that was overlooked last week:

Iran plans to build a missile base in Venezuela

Iran plans to place medium-range missiles on Venezuelan soil and to deepen the strategic cooperation with the regime of Hugo Chávez. “Welt Online” learned from Western security sources that an agreement between the two countries was signed during the last visit of the Venezuelan president to Tehran on October 19. The previously undisclosed contract provides for the establishment of a jointly operated military base in Venezuela and the joint development of ground-to-ground missiles.

The agreement follows a recommendation of the Supreme Security Council of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and religious leader Ali Khamenei a few months ago. According to information of this newspaper, the Security Council had proposed a joint military facility on Venezuelan soil to increase the deterrent power of Iran against the West. The cooperation would be a way for Iran to establish a strategic base in the South American continent – in the United States’ backyard.

“Welt Online” learned that Venezuela has agreed to allow Iran to establish a military base, which would be manned by Iranian missile officers, soldiers of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Venezuelan missile officers. The base is mainly as a storage location for a strategic Iranian weapons reserve. In addition, Iran has given permission for the missiles to be used in case of an emergency. In return, it says in the agreement that Venezuela can use the basis for “national needs”. This would increase the threat to neighbors like Colombia. Iran also pledged to help Venezuela in rocket technology expertise, such as intensive training of officers.

Also planned is the joint development of a ground-to-surface missile, based on the extensive experience of the Iranians. The agreement also provides for Iranian Shahab 3 (range 1300-1500 km), Scud-B missile (285-330 kilometers) and Scud-C missiles (300, 500 and 700 km) on the new base to relocate, and four mobile launchers.

(h/t Joel via Israel Army Radio Online)

Elder of Ziyon

South Korea Trade Pact: More Important Than Ever

November 30, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Cargo-Shipping Cranes

The economic case for the South Korea–U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) has been variously described as a “slam dunk,” a “pareto-optimal solution,” and “an easy ‘yes.’” However, aside from the economic arguments for KORUS, recent events in the Korean peninsula make approval of the agreement more important than ever.

On November 23, a North Korean artillery attack on the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong Island killed two civilians and two marines. Earlier this month, the country revealed a covert uranium enrichment facility that could be used to strengthen its nuclear arsenal. In August, North Korea fired 110 artillery shells into Yeongpyeong and another island. In March, North Korea torpedoed the South Korean naval vessel Cheonan, resulting in 46 deaths.

In the face of these threats, President Obama should present a show of support for our South Korean friends by asking Congress to approve KORUS. In addition to unleashing mutually beneficial economic rewards, such a move would demonstrate the willingness of the United States to back one of our country’s key strategic allies.

The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.

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