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share save 120 16 The Morning Flap: January 24, 2013

Dianne Feinstein2 The Morning Flap: January 24, 2013California Senator Dianne Feinstein

These are my links for January 23rd through January 24th:

share save 120 16 The Morning Flap: January 24, 2013
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share save 120 16 Hillary Clinton Fails in Benghazi Senate Hearing

Hillary Testifys in Senate Hillary Clinton Fails in Benghazi Senate Hearing

Can’t really say this was a good performance by Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, testifying before Congress on the September attacks in Libya that killed four Americans, warned Wednesday that the United States must not retreat from hazardous diplomatic posts overseas.

“We have come a long way in the past four years, and we cannot afford to retreat now,” Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “When America is absent, especially from unstable environments, there are consequences. Extremism takes root, our interests suffer, and our security at home is threatened.”

Clinton’s voice broke moments later when she told the committee her commitment to the safety of diplomats is more than professional.

“It’s personal,” she said, describing the sight of the four returning coffins and the grieving families there to receive them.

It was an uncharacteristic display of emotion for Clinton, who is usually collected and reserved in public.

In one of her last duties as America’s top diplomat, Clinton went to Capitol Hill on Wedneday to testify before committees of both houses of Congress and answer questions about the attacks on U.S. compounds in Benghazi, Libya. The attacks killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans and exposed lapses in judgment and security at the State Department.

Hillary showed the emotion, but did not answer the questions with alacrity. She evaded, and dissed U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, while accepting responsibility for the Benghazi disaster.

Questions will be more pointed this afternoon in the House.

I don’t think she will get away so easy.

share save 120 16 Hillary Clinton Fails in Benghazi Senate Hearing
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share save 120 16 The Morning Flap: January 23, 2013

Hillary Clinton Libya The Morning Flap: January 23, 2013

These are my links for January 22nd through January 23rd:

  • Clinton set for long-awaited Libya testimony, as senator urges ‘top-to-bottom review’ – More than four months after the deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in eastern Libya, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will deliver long-awaited testimony on the historic security failure.The secretary, after missing prior sessions before Congress due to illness, is set to take lawmakers’ questions Wednesday before a House and Senate committee. As Clinton prepares to leave the department after a busy four years, the hearing is a chance to address what is arguably the biggest controversy of her tenure.
  • Rothenberg: The 2016 Presidential Race Begins Today – After recent work on congressional deals, Biden looks like a more serious contender in 2016, if he chooses to run.For many, Clinton, who started as the solid favorite for the Democratic nomination only to have Obama snatch it from her, is the prohibitive favorite for her party’s nomination if she wants it. At this point, we just don’t know if she will want it. Maybe the former first lady doesn’t even know yet.

    Biden, who will turn 71 toward the end of this year, was mocked often during Obama’s first term, but the former Delaware senator’s role in negotiating a deal to avert the fiscal cliff and his lead role in trying to come up with gun legislation that could be both effective and enacted suddenly makes him look like a more serious contender in 2016, if he chooses to run.

    After Clinton and Biden, the list becomes more speculative. New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley are seen as ambitious and interested. Former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer probably should be on the list as well.

  • Health Insurance Brokers Prepare Clients For Obamacare Sticker Shock – A California insurance broker, who sells health plans to individuals and small businesses, told me that she’s prepping her clients for a sticker shock. Her local carriers are hinting to her that premiums may triple this fall, when the plans unveil how they’ll billet the full brunt of Obamacare’s new regulations and mandates.California is hardly alone. Around the country, insurers are fixing to raise rates by double digits. They’re privately briefing politicians in Washington on what’s in store. Those briefings are leaving a lot of folks up and down Pennsylvania Avenue jumpy.

    What’s gives? President Obama, after all, said he’d prevent these sorts of prices. His new health law gave state regulators the power to block premium increases. It even created a federal agency to oversee insurance rates. But these bureaucrats are spectators to the price hikes. They’re mere wallflowers. Even in the bluest of states.

    Their silence is the best evidence of who is culpable for the increases. It’s the policymakers. It’s Obamacare. The President is accepting the premium hikes as an allowable consequence of his healthcare policies.

  • Behind the Curtain: Joe Biden ‘intoxicated’ by 2016 run – Joe Biden summoned more than 200 Democratic insiders to the vice presidential residence Sunday night to chat about the 2012 triumph — but many walked away convinced his rising 2016 ambitions were the real intent of the long, intimate night.“I took a look at who was there,” said longtime New Hampshire state Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, “and said to myself, ‘There’s no question he’s thinking about the future.’ ”

    He’s right. Biden, according to a number of advisers and Democrats who have spoken to him in recent months, wants to run, or at least be well positioned to run, if and when he decides to pull the trigger.

    Biden has expressed a clear sense of urgency, convinced the Democratic field will be defined quickly — and that it might very well come down to a private chat with Hillary Clinton about who should finish what Barack Obama started.

  • Clinton to face Congress on Libya assault – Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton faces tough questions in her long-awaited congressional testimony concerning the assault on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.Clinton is the sole witness Wednesday at back-to-back hearings before the Senate and House foreign policy panels on the September raid, an independent panel’s review that harshly criticized the State Department and the steps the Obama administration is taking to beef up security at U.S. facilities worldwide.

    Clinton had been scheduled to testify before Congress last month, but an illness, a concussion and a blood clot near her brain forced her to postpone her appearance.

  • Red-State Democrats’ Re-Election Playbook – President Obama won’t have to face voters again, but a handful of Democratic senators from conservative states will, and the president’s agenda, newly stamped with a liberal imprimatur at the inauguration, could prove tricky for them to navigate.How they go about doing that will require distancing themselves from the national Democratic Party and keeping their political antennae attuned to possible stumbling blocks in the Senate–what Democratic strategist Jim Manley calls a “yin and a yang equation.”

    “The yin is differentiation; the yang is also trying to avoid the minefield that the Republicans are going to lay for you on the floor of the Senate,” he said.

  • Flap’s Blog @ Flap Twitter Daily Digest for 2013-01-22 – Flap’s Blog – FullosseousFlap’s Dental Blog – Flap’s Blog @ Flap Twitter Daily Digest for 2013-01-22 #tcot
  • My Daily Twitter Digest for 2013-01-22 – Locum Tenens (Temporary) Dentist – Gregory Cole, D.D.S. – My Daily Twitter Digest for 2013-01-22
  • The Mickelson Vote – Lefty offends the lefties – California golfer Phil “Lefty” Mickelson says he will no longer publicly criticize the government for taking most of his paycheck. That’s a shame. But even if it’s now socially unacceptable for high achievers to suggest they should keep the fruits of their labor, that doesn’t mean they will keep supplying that labor.After a brilliant round Sunday at a tournament in La Quinta, California, Mr. Mickelson hinted that new tax burdens might drive him out of the state, out of professional golf, and perhaps even out of the country. “There are going to be some drastic changes for me because I happen to be in that zone that has been targeted both federally and by the state, and it doesn’t work for me right now,” he said. “So I’m going to have to make some changes.”
  • Harry Reid Threatens GOP with Nuclear Option On Senate Filibuster – Harry Reid Threatens GOP with Nuclear Option On Senate Filibuster Rules #tcot
  • Hillary Clinton 2008 campaign now debt-free – More than four years after Hillary Clinton lost the Democratic nomination for president, Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign is finally debt-free, new reports filed by the campaign show.Clinton’s campaign committee paid off about $25 million in debt and now has a surplus of $204,832. The campaign retired its debt just as Clinton is preparing to step down from her job as secretary of state. Clinton supporters are pushing her to run for the presidency again in 2016.
  • Phil Mickelson, taxes, and the Laffer curve | AEIdeas – RT @JimPethokoukis: ICYMI: Phil Mickelson, taxes, and the Laffer curve
  • Tiger Woods Says High Tax Rates Made Him Leave California – During a press conference Tuesday, golf legend Tiger Woods said he moved to Florida in 1996 because of California’s high tax rates. The comments came after fellow golfer Phil Mickelson hinted Sunday that he might leave the Golden State — or perhaps even move out of the U.S. completely — because of income tax increases.“I moved out of here back in ’96 for that reason,” Woods told reporters at the Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, Calif.
  • Flap’s Dentistry Blog: Dentist Robert Garelick Charged with Drunk Drilling – Dentist Robert Garelick Charged with Drunk Drilling
  • Medscape: Medscape Access – Big Xylitol Trial Finds Scant Benefits in Adult Caries #tcot
  • Video: Work Out With Your Pet? – Locum Tenens (Temporary) Dentist – Video: Work Out With Your Pet?
  • Glendale City Council To Consider Gun Show Ban « CBS Los Angeles – Glendale City Council To Consider Gun Show Ban
  • Flap’s Dentistry Blog: The Daily Extraction: January 22, 2013 – The Daily Extraction: January 22, 2013
  • Honda v. Khanna: Could Silicon Valley be ground zero for 2014 House Asian-American battle royale? | Politics Blog | an SFGate.com blog – Honda v. Khanna: Could Silicon Valley be ground zero for 2014 House Asian-American battle royale?
  • Sandy Koufax to advise Los Angeles Dodgers, be at spring training – ESPN Los Angeles – Excellent! RT @ESPNlosangeles: Koufax to advise Dodgers, be at spring training
  • Ryan: Obama ‘Shadowboxing a Straw Man’ – Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan knocked President Barack Obama for “shadowbox[ing] a straw man” in his inaugural address. Speaking Tuesday morning on the Laura Ingraham Radio Show to guest host Raymond Arroyo, Ryan responded to Obama’s statement that Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security “do not make us a nation of takers, they free us to take the risks that make this country great.”Ryan called Obama’s insinuation that he and other reform-minded Republicans consider recipients of these benefits “takers” a “switcheroo.”

    “It’s kind of a convenient twist of terms to try and shadowbox a straw man to try to win an argument by default,” Ryan said.

    “No one is suggesting that what we call our ‘earned entitlements’, entitlements you pay for, you know, like payroll taxes for Medicare and Social Security, are putting you in a ‘taker’ category,” Ryan continued. “The concern that people like me have been raising is we do not want to encourage a dependency culture. This is why we called for welfare reform. This is welfare reform in 1996 was. This was what the new rounds for welfare reform we’re calling for do, which is to increase social mobility, economic opportunity, self-responsibility, those sort of things.”

    “I understand the president will continue to use straw man arguments, affix views to your political adversaries they do not have in order to try and win an argument by default,” Ryan added.

  • Nebraska governor Dave Heineman OKs Keystone XL route through state – Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman has approved a revised route for the Keystone XL pipeline, one that supporters say will avoid the most ecologically sensitive regions of his state.The action is part of a chain of events that will lead to an eventual decision by President Barack Obama, which has emerged as a crucial test of the president’s pledges to tackle climate change versus his embrace of “all of the above” energy. Heineman sent a letter Tuesday to Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton noting his approval of the new route.
  • Reid to Senate Republicans: Filibuster deal in 36 hours or face nuclear option – The Hill’s On The Money – RT @thehill: Administration ‘not opposed’ to GOP debt limit bill
  • Day By Day January 22, 2013 – Link This – Flap’s Blog – Day By Day January 22, 2013 – Link This #tcot
  • Republicans aim to suspend debt limit until May – @ThePlumLineGS The first olive branch form the House:
  • Did Beyoncé Lip-Sync the Star-Spangled Banner? | Inauguration 2013 | Washingtonian – RT @MelissaTweets: <eyeroll> RT @DRUDGE_REPORT: Did Beyoncé Lip-Sync the Star-Spangled Banner?
  • Home – ContraCostaTimes.com – California engineers question high-speed rail oversight – #tcot
  • President Obama dodges ‘hard choices’ on entitlements – President Barack Obama insisted four years ago that the nation must make “hard decisions” to preserve entitlement programs.But on Monday, the “hard choices” he spoke of on health care and the deficit came with a major caveat: He’s not willing to give up much.

    “The commitments we make to each other — through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security — these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us,” Obama told the cheering crowd as he launched his second term. “They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.

    His inaugural address promised an ambitious progressive agenda — and laid bare Obama’s deeply conflicted relationship with entitlement reform.

    He’s done just enough to earn credit for trying harder than any other Democratic president to tackle the issue, but he has yet to throw the full weight of his office or his formidable campaign operation behind it. His best chance will come early in his second term as lawmakers confront a series of budget battles, but Obama appears more ready to spend his political capital on guns, immigration and climate change.

    The president has never precisely defined what hard choices he would be willing to make on Medicare and Social Security. It’s not even clear what he would do if he had the power to remake the programs on his own, without worrying about opposition from Republicans or Democrats.

    And though Obama has talked about shared sacrifice from both parties, he has not gotten to the point in deficit negotiations at which he’s had to pressure rank-and-file Democratic lawmakers to cross their red line on the sacred issues, as House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) did with his own party in raising taxes.

    Unless Obama seizes the opportunity in the next few months, entitlement reform will hang over his second term, lurking like a legacy-killer if he hands off the task to the next president, deficit hawks warn.

  • The California Flap: January 22, 2013 – Flap’s California Blog – The California Flap: January 22, 2013
  • CalPERS nears a record $260 billion in assets – latimes.com – CalPERS nears a record $260 billion in assets
  • California engineers question high-speed rail oversight – ContraCostaTimes.com – California engineers question high-speed rail oversight
  • Tobacco tax hike eyed for 2014 state ballot | news10.net – Tobacco tax hike eyed for 2014 state ballot
  • The Morning Flap: January 22, 2013 – Flap’s Blog – The Morning Flap: January 22, 2013 #tcot
share save 120 16 The Morning Flap: January 23, 2013
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share save 120 16 The Morning Flap: December 19, 2012

Time POTY Cover The Morning Flap: December 19, 2012

These are my links for December 18th through December 19th:

  • A Bad Budget Deal – Higher taxes now for notional reform later is worse than nothing – It’s clear by now that the budget talks are drifting in a drearily familiar Washington direction: Tax and spending increases now, in return for the promise of spending cuts and tax and entitlement reform later. This is a bad deal for everyone except the politicians who want more money to spend.Consider the tax increase now being touted as a sign of “compromise.” Speaker John Boehner has moved from opposing higher tax rates to offering higher rates for incomes above $1 million a year. While that’s better than the scheduled increase on incomes above $200,000 a year (for singles), it would still put the GOP on record as endorsing a tax increase, in particular on small businesses that file individual returns.President Obama has countered with a ceiling of $400,000. If they compromise at $500,000, we are all supposed to thank the two sides for their reasonableness. Yet both parties will have declared that raising tax rates is no big economic deal. This will hurt the economy, and it further advances Mr. Obama’s political goal of separating the middle class from the affluent on tax policy.

    What about tax reform next year? A final judgment on this prospect depends on the fine print, but it’s already looking grim. The GOP has prepared the ground for a genuine tax reform, on the Simpson-Bowles model, that lowers rates in return for fewer deductions. In what is shaping up as this budget deal’s prototype, tax reform looks like it means both higher rates and fewer deductions.

    This isn’t reform. It’s another tax increase next year disguised as reform. The Fortune 500 CEOs who are lobbying Republicans don’t mind because they hope to get a cut in the corporate tax rate. But small businesses will be stuck with a huge immediate tax increase, at least until their owners can scramble to reorganize as corporations instead of Subchapter S companies or LLCs.

  • How Do We Know an ‘Assault Weapon’ Ban Would Not Have Stopped Adam Lanza? Because It Didn’t – Although Friday’s massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School has prompted renewed calls for reinstating the federal “assault weapon” ban, we know for a fact that such a law would not have stopped Adam Lanza or made his attack less deadly, because it didn’t. The rifle he used, a .223-caliber Bushmaster M4 carbine, was legal under Connecticut’s “assault weapon” ban, which is similar to the federal law that expired in 2004. Both laws, in addition to listing specifically prohibited models, cover semiautomatic rifles that accept detachable magazines and have at least two out of five features: 1) a folding or telescoping stock, 2) a pistol grip, 3) a bayonet mount, 4) a grenade launcher, and 5) a flash suppressor or threaded barrel designed to accommodate a flash suppressor. The configuration of the rifle used by Lanza, which his mother legally purchased and possessed in Connecticut, evidently was not covered by that definition.
  • Democrats Dismiss Boehner’s “Plan B” on Budget – With one eye on the clock and the other on the White House, House Speaker John Boehner introduced a “fiscal cliff” backup plan Tuesday that would only address taxes — an apparent attempt to pressure President Obama into moving Boehner’s way in deficit-reduction negotiations.“Plan B” would permanently extend current tax rates on those with annual incomes below $1 million, a concession by Boehner from his earlier opposition to any rate increase. The speaker insisted he was not walking away from the negotiating table, but said he wants to move faster to ensure that most Americans’ taxes won’t rise starting Jan. 1.
  • Benghazi review slams State Department on security – The leaders of an independent panel that blamed systematic State Department management and leadership failures for gross security lapses in the deadly Sept. 11 attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya will explain their findings to Congress on Wednesday.The two most senior members of the Accountability Review Board are set to testify behind closed doors before the House and Senate foreign affairs committees on the classified findings of their harshly critical report.An unclassified version released late Tuesday said serious bureaucratic mismanagement was responsible for the inadequate security at the mission in Benghazi where the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed.

    “Systematic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus of the State Department resulted in a Special Mission security posture that was inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place,” the panel said.

    Despite those deficiencies, the board determined that no individual officials ignored or violated their duties and recommended no disciplinary action. But it also said poor performance by senior managers should be grounds for disciplinary recommendations in the future.

    Wednesday’s classified testimony from the review board – retired Ambassador Thomas Pickering and a former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, Adm. Mike Mullen – will set the stage for open hearings the next day with Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, who is in charge of policy, and Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides, who is in charge of management.

  • Inquiry Into Libya Attack Is Sharply Critical of State Department – An independent inquiry into the attack on the United States diplomatic mission in Libya that killed four Americans on Sept. 11 sharply criticized the State Department for a lack of seasoned security personnel and for relying on untested local militias to safeguard the compound, according to a report by the panel made public on Tuesday night.
  • 2012 Person of the Year: Barack Obama, the President | TIME.com – Why of course. He won decisively RT @TIME Barack Obama is TIME’s 2012 Person of the Year | #POY2012
  • Resolutions: So Irresistible, So Hard to Keep – WSJ.com – RT @WSJ More than half of the 45 million smokers in the U.S. tried to quit in 2010, but < 10% of them managed to stop.
  • Sleep’s Surprising Effects on Hunger – WSJ.com – RT @WSJ Study: sleep deprivation triggers hormonal changes that can lead to overeating, weight gain.
  • Obama to Announce Gun Task Force – President Barack Obama will on Wednesday announce the first step on gun control following the Newtown school shootings: an interagency task force, led by Vice President Joe Biden, charged with guiding the administration’s continuing response.The announcement will be the third time in five days Obama has addressed the massacre that killed 20 first-graders and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. And it will follow a call on Friday for “meaningful action” and his Sunday pledge to use the White House to “engage” Americans to prevent mass shootings.
  • Magazine Clips, Background Checks Lead Gun Talk – All of a sudden a dam broke, and it’s OK for members of Congress to talk about guns. The discussion is civil and calm for now, and everyone hopes that means sanity will prevail when it comes to new firearms policies.“I think elected officials are thinking about trying a little experiment. They might try to get the policy right in the hopes that the politics will take care of themselves,” said Mark Glaze, director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, an organization run by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.In an incredibly divided Congress, it seems ridiculous to assume lawmakers would focus on policy before politics. (For Exhibit A of political gamesmanship, look at the back and forth on a fiscal-cliff deal on Tuesday.) But on guns, it turns out there is a lot of rational agreement among even gun enthusiasts about trying to protect innocent people from being killed by them.

    New rules being tossed around by lawmakers include banning high-capacity magazine clips, the kind that allow hundreds of rounds to be fired at a time, and tightening up background checks for gun purchases. Existing gun laws could also be enforced with greater regularity, such as compelling or enticing states to do a better job of reporting red flags like drug abuse or domestic violence to a national crime database.

  • New GOP polling firm goal: Catch up with Dems – The Republican polling community is about to get a shake-up.With the GOP still reeling from its defeats in the 2012 election, a new Republican polling firm is seeking to help the party bounce back with a fresh stream of data on the state of the electorate.The outfit, Harper Polling, launches this week with the goal of putting the party on parity with Democrats in the field of IVR polling – a term that stands for interactive voice response polling, commonly known as “robo-polling.”

    For several cycles now, Democrats have benefited from a high-volume, relatively inexpensive flow of survey data from the company Public Policy Polling, which takes hundreds of polls in any given cycle checking up on individual races and national issue debates. Some of those surveys are released to the public, while others are conducted for private purposes by Democratic campaigns and interest groups.

  • Flap’s California Blog @ Flap Twitter Digest for 2012-12-18 – Flap’s California Blog – Flap’s California Blog @ Flap Twitter Digest for 2012-12-18
  • Flap’s Blog @ Flap Twitter Daily Digest for 2012-12-18 – Flap’s Blog – FullosseousFlap’s Dental Blog – Flap’s Blog @ Flap Twitter Daily Digest for 2012-12-18 #tcot
  • My Daily Twitter Digest for 2012-12-18 – Locum Tenens (Temporary) Dentist – Gregory Cole, D.D.S. – My Daily Twitter Digest for 2012-12-18
  • Behind the Curtain: Grand old white male party gets diversity memo – Republicans are in full panic mode about being the party of old, white, straight, conservative men for years to come — and struggling big time with how to change things.Under pressure from party leaders, most Republicans have chucked the anti-gay marriage, anti-illegal immigrant hostility — at least in public — that defined the party the past three elections. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other prominent Republicans are privately warning conservatives to put a sock in it when it comes to arguments that turn off large swaths of voters, sources tell us. Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy is doing the same on the House side.
  • The Morning Flap: December 18, 2012 – Flap’s Blog – The Morning Flap: December 18, 2012 #tcot
  • Byron York: Anxiety rises as Americans face start of Obamacare | Mobile Washington Examiner – Anxiety rises as Americans face start of Obamacare #tcot
  • Log In – The New York Times – President Delivers a New Offer on the Fiscal Crisis to Boehner #tcot
share save 120 16 The Morning Flap: December 19, 2012
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share save 120 16 The Morning Flap: November 19, 2012

Not Impressed The Morning Flap: November 19, 2012These are my links for November 16th through November 19th:

  • OBAMA ORGANIZATION TO REMAIN ACTIVE NATIONWIDE – DEMS GETTING DATA JUMP ON 2016- The Obama campaign continues to refine, update and expand its vast database, working the muscle to increase its value for 2014 and 2016. The organization wants to avoid a post-2008 lull, when Obama’s high command was so focused on building a government and staving off a depression that some in the grassroots network felt neglected. This time, supporters are already being asked if they are interested in running for office, and “how many hours per week” they would be willing “to volunteer in your community as part of an Obama organization.”Campaign manager Jim Messina blasted a 24-question email to the campaign’s tens of millions of supporters and eavesdroppers last evening, with the subject line, “Your feedback needed: Take this quick survey.” Participants must enter email address, first and last name, ZIP code, birthdate and gender. This question makes it clear that Obama’s brain trust will keep the machine oiled and cranking: “What would you choose as the top priority for this organizations [sic] in the weeks and years to come?” Choices are: 1) “Passing the President’s legislative agenda”… 2) “Supporting candidates in upcoming elections” … 3) “Training a new generation of leaders and organizers” … 4) “Working on local issues that affect our communities.”
  • Requiem for the Twinkie? – Hostess Brands goes Ding Dong dead, leaps into the Dumpster- Friday’s news that the company making Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Wonder Bread is preparing to liquidate touched off a blame game among Americans shocked that these iconic products are in danger of going away forever.The move follows a strike that began Nov. 9 by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union. It refused to swallow additional wage and benefit concessions to keep the bankrupt Hostess Brands afloat. Its 5,000 members were nearly unanimous in rejecting the company’s final contract offer.As a result, the company said, most of the 18,500 Hostess employees will lose their jobs. That includes members of the largest union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which did agree to the company’s concession demands.The bakery union’s self-defeating refusal to accept financial reality is only part of the story however. For Hostess, the strike was the final blow of many. High commodity costs hurt the company. Not only did it pay a fortune for food ingredients, but also for the energy to run its facilities and fuel its delivery trucks.

    The recession hurt too. Hostess was unprepared to meet difficult business conditions that prevailed in 2009, when it emerged from a previous bankruptcy reorganization in which it obtained big concessions from its workforce. It had been, in fact, a poorly managed company for a long time. A string of short-sighted executives were quick to take money out of the business and slow to make the capital investments it needed to stay competitive.

    Perhaps most damaging, the company failed to innovate in response to changing consumer tastes. Hostess didn’t have to make Ho Ho’s out of tofu to stay relevant. Food companies such as Kraft, Sara Lee and Nabisco have long understood their success depends on sophisticated market research, product development and creative marketing. It doesn’t come cheap.

  • The GOP’s Latino Opportunity- In winning re-election, President Obama carried nearly all the same demographic groups as in 2008, but by smaller margins. The major exception: Hispanics, America’s fastest-growing bloc. Having given Mr. Obama 67% of their votes in 2008, they gave him 71% this time.This has alarmed Republicans. Mr. Obama had offered Hispanics little more than a broken promise to reform immigration in his first term, yet he scored the largest victory among them since Gerald Ford visited Texas in 1976 and tried to eat a tamale without removing its husk.Mitt Romney’s margin of defeat among Hispanics in Nevada (47 points) and Colorado (52 points) made those states unwinnable. In Florida, where Republican winners routinely carry the Hispanic vote, he lost it by 21 points. Mr. Romney carried Arizona but lost Hispanic voters there by an astonishing 55 points. In 2004, George W. Bush lost Arizona Hispanics by only 13 points.Republicans—even outspoken ones like talk-radio and Fox News host Sean Hannity—are now claiming to have changed their views on immigration. Columnist Charles Krauthammer was frank with his prescription: “Yes, amnesty. Use the word. . . . The other party thinks it owns the demographic future—counter that in one stroke by fixing the Latino problem.”

    Such open-mindedness is laudable and probably necessary, but the immigration issue is no silver bullet. And Mr. Krauthammer’s phrase—”the Latino problem”—helps illustrate the real problem. For too long, Republicans have been content to cram Hispanics into gerrymandered Democratic districts and forget about them. Some GOP candidates consciously avoid targeting Hispanics too aggressively, lest they actually turn out to vote.

    In 1983, Republican pollster Lance Tarrance wrote a private memo urging the Republican National Committee to “redouble our efforts to attract the Mexican-American populations. We need to ‘double our budget’ in this area if we stand any chance for the future.” This warning went unheeded.

    In 1999, when I worked in the RNC press shop, Chairman Jim Nicholson told me the GOP deserved an “F” for its outreach efforts to date. Republican presidential contender Bob Dole had won just 21% of Hispanics in 1996. A Univision survey from 1998 had shown that Hispanics overwhelmingly believed the Republican Party either “ignores me” (41%) or “takes me for granted” (22%). This left plenty of low-hanging fruit.

  • Why ObamaCare Is Still No Sure Thing- Champions of ObamaCare want Americans to believe that the president’s re-election ended the battle over the law. It did no such thing. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act won’t be fully repealed while Barack Obama is in office, but the administration is heavily dependent on the states for its implementation.Republicans will hold 30 governorships starting in January, and at last week’s meeting of the Republican Governors Association they made it clear that they remain highly critical of the health law. Some Republican governors—including incoming RGA Chairman Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Ohio’s John Kasich, Wisconsin’s Scott Walker and Maine’s Paul LePage—have already said they won’t do the federal government’s bidding. Several Democratic governors, including Missouri’s Jay Nixon and West Virginia’s Earl Ray Tomblin, have also expressed serious concerns.Talk of the law’s inevitability is intended to pressure these governors into implementing it on the administration’s behalf. But states still have two key choices to make that together will put them in the driver’s seat: whether to create state health-insurance exchanges, and whether to expand Medicaid. They should say “no” to both.
  • Can conservatives prevent the U.S. from becoming California?- As bad as last Tuesday night was for the national Republican Party, it was far, far worse for the California Republican Party. Not only did Golden State Democrats maintain control of every statewide elected office; not only did Gov. Jerry Brown’s $6 billion Proposition 30 tax hike pass by solid margins; but Democrats also secured supermajorities in both state legislative chambers. Now, Brown and the Democrats can raise taxes by as much as they want.The California Republican Party is functionally dead. And how is California doing, now that liberals have successfully terminated the state’s remaining conservatives?For starters, it’s still in debt. Despite Brown’s historic tax hike, the California Legislative Analyst’s Office announced this week that the state still faces a $2 billion budget deficit just for the next fiscal year. California’s liberal electorate has already racked up an additional $370 billion in state and local debt over that last decade. That is more than 20 percent of the state’s gross domestic product.According to the California State Budget Crisis Task Force, that comes to more than $10,000 in debt for every Californian. And because the state’s credit rating is so low, California taxpayers must fork over about $2 for every new dollar borrowed. In 2012 alone, the state budget included more than $7.5 billion in debt service — more than most states’ budgets.

    Don’t think for a second that California’s chronic deficits are caused by low taxes. Even before last Tuesday’s tax hikes, California had the most progressive income tax system in the nation, with seven brackets, and the second-highest top marginal rate. Now it has the nation’s highest top marginal rate and the nation’s highest sales tax. And the budget still isn’t balanced.

    The real cause for California’s fiscal crisis is simple: They spend too much money. Between 1996 and 2012, the state’s population grew by just 15 percent, but spending more than doubled, from $45.4 billion to $92.5 billion (in 2005 constant dollars).

  • Gallup Blew Its Presidential Polls, but Why?- Last week’s presidential election has widely been seen as a victory for pollsters who, on balance, saw President Obama as the favorite before Election Day. But that wasn’t the case for the esteemed Gallup Organization. Its polling showed Republican Mitt Romney with a significant lead among likely voters 10 days before Nov. 6 and marginally ahead of Obama on the eve of an election that Obama won by about 3 percentage points.At an event on Thursday at Gallup’s downtown Washington offices, Gallup Editor in Chief Frank Newport told a gathering of fellow pollsters that the organization was reviewing its methodology in light of these inaccuracies. But its fairly consistent Republican bias in 2012 and its overestimation of the white portion of the electorate raise important questions about sampling and the way Gallup determines which respondents are registered and likely to vote.”We don’t have a definitive answer,” Newport said.The day before Election Day, Gallup released data culled from the four previous days, showing Romney with a 1-point lead among likely voters, 49 percent to 48 percent. Before that final survey, Gallup had suspended polling for three days in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, when nearly 10 million Americans were without electricity.

    Immediately before the storm hit, Gallup showed Romney ahead by 5 points, 51 percent to 46 percent, and Romney led by as many as 7 points in mid-October. All the while, most other national polls showed a neck-and-neck race.

  • Are the DREAMers a Special Case? – DREAMERS vs. COMPREHENSIVISTS- Now that the GOP leadership has signaled its eagerness to again support the Democrat drive for amnesty and open borders, a fight has broken out on the other side. This is a revival of the public spitting match between the “comprehensive” amnesty crowd in D.C., who want amnesty for all illegal aliens or nothing, and the DREAMers, illegal aliens who came here as children, who are willing to cut a separate deal for themselves.The fight has resurfaced on NBC Latino’s website (why is there such a thing?), where a professor Stephen Nuno has written that “Immigration reform should not focus on Dreamers” because “I think Dreamers can be detrimental to the goal of immigration reform.”
  • Republicans at a crossroads – Stay the Course?- Republican governors are torn between essentially staying the course in the wake of Mitt Romney’s loss and a more proactive strategy aimed at radically shaking up their party in an effort to reach out to young and minority voters.Some governors believe that Romney’s loss two weeks ago to President Barack Obama was just that — a loss by a single candidate who ran a defensive campaign pummeled by negative ads and lacking in vision. They advocate sticking to a tried-and-true formula of running their own races and hewing to local instead of national dynamics.
  • Tribal America – Mark Steyn on our suddenly race-obsessed politics- To an immigrant such as myself (not the undocumented kind, but documented up to the hilt, alas), one of the most striking features of election-night analysis was the lightly worn racial obsession. On Fox News, Democrat Kirsten Powers argued that Republicans needed to deal with the reality that America is becoming what she called a “brown country.” Her fellow Democrat Bob Beckel observed on several occasions that if the share of the “white vote” was held down below 73 percent Romney would lose. In the end, it was 72 percent and he did. Beckel’s assertion — that if you knew the ethnic composition of the electorate you also knew the result — turned out to be correct.This is what less enlightened societies call tribalism: For example, in the 1980 election leading to Zimbabwe’s independence, Joshua Nkomo’s ZAPU-PF got the votes of the Ndebele people while Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF secured those of the Shona — and, as there were more Shona than Ndebele, Mugabe won. That same year America held an election, and Ronald Reagan won a landslide victory. Nobody talked about tribal-vote shares back then, but had the percentage of what Beckel calls the “white vote” been the same in 2012 as it was in 1980 (88 percent), Mitt Romney would have won in an even bigger landslide than Reagan. The “white vote” will be even lower in 2016, and so, on the Beckel model, Republicans are set to lose all over again.
  • White House denies editing talking points on Benghazi attack, contradicting Petraeus- The White House yesterday denied it edited talking points about the terrorist attack that killed the American ambassador to Libya — contradicting remarks made a day earlier by disgraced ex-CIA chief David Petraeus.“The only edit that was made by the White House and also by the State Department was to change the word ‘consulate’ to the word ‘diplomatic facility,’ since the facility in Benghazi was not formally a consulate,” Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters aboard Air Force One.“Other than that, we were guided by the points that were provided by the intelligence community. So I can’t speak to any other edits that may have been made.”
  • Flap’s California Blog @ Flap Twitter Digest for 2012-11-17 – Flap’s California Blog – Flap’s California Blog @ Flap Twitter Digest for 2012-11-17
  • Flap’s Blog @ Flap Twitter Daily Digest for 2012-11-17 – Flap’s Blog – FullosseousFlap’s Dental Blog – Flap’s Blog @ Flap Twitter Daily Digest for 2012-11-17 #tcot
  • My Daily Twitter Digest for 2012-11-17 – Locum Tenens (Temporary) Dentist – Gregory Cole, D.D.S. – My Daily Twitter Digest for 2012-11-17
  • Gregory Flap @ Ronnie’s Diner – Half Marathon training run with L A Roadrunners is finished. Now, some food and USC Trojan football (@ Ronnie’s Diner)
  • Flap’s California Blog @ Flap Twitter Digest for 2012-11-16 – Flap’s California Blog – Flap’s California Blog @ Flap Twitter Digest for 2012-11-16
  • Flap’s Blog @ Flap Twitter Daily Digest for 2012-11-16 – Flap’s Blog – FullosseousFlap’s Dental Blog – Flap’s Blog @ Flap Twitter Daily Digest for 2012-11-16 #tcot
  • My Daily Twitter Digest for 2012-11-16 – Locum Tenens (Temporary) Dentist – Gregory Cole, D.D.S. – My Daily Twitter Digest for 2012-11-16
  • Newt Gingrich on Romney’s “Gifts”- The former Speaker in colloquy with the Texas Tribune’s Evan Smith:EVAN SMITH: So Governor Romney said yesterday now somewhat famously, that “the reason that the president won is because he gave gifts to minorities in the form of healthcare or to young people in the form of preferable college loan…”NEWT GINGRICH: I am very disappointed…EVAN SMITH: With Governor Romney saying that?

    NEWT GINGRICH: With Governor Romney’s analysis, which I believe is insulting and profoundly wrong.

    EVAN SMITH: Can you talk about that? Why is that?

    NEWT GINGRICH: Well first of all, we didn’t lose Asian-Americans, because they got any gifts. He did worse with Asian-Americans than he did with Latinos.

    EVAN SMITH: Right, seventy-three percent of Asian-Americans, seventy-one percent of Latinos.

    NEWT GINGRICH: This is the hardest working and most successful ethnic group in America, okay. They ain’t into gifts. Second, it’s an insult to all Americans. It reduces us to economic entities who have no passion, no idealism, no dreams, no philosophy, and if it had been that simple, my question would have been “Why didn’t you out bid him?”

  • Politics with LisaV: California GOP vs. Dem. party registration trends – RT @lvorderbrueggen: California GOP vs. Dem. party registration trends in a cool Google Fusion table. @lvorderbrueggen
  • The Yeshiva World BRINK OF WAR: Israel Taking Steps To Mobilize Up To 75,000 Reservists [PHOTOS] « » Frum Jewish News – The Yeshiva World BRINK OF WAR: Israel Taking Steps To Mobilize Up To 75,000 Reservists [PHOTOS] « » Frum… #tcot
  • The Yeshiva World BRINK OF WAR: Israel Taking Steps To Mobilize Up To 75,000 Reservists [PHOTOS] « » Frum Jewish News – RT @JedediahBila: Israel Taking Steps To Mobilize Up To 75,000 Reservists:
  • An Awakened Giant: The Hispanic Electorate is Likely to Double by 2030- The record number1 of Latinos who cast ballots for president this year are the leading edge of an ascendant ethnic voting bloc that is likely to double in size within a generation, according to a Pew Hispanic Center analysis based on U.S. Census Bureau data, Election Day exit polls and a new nationwide survey of Hispanic immigrants.The nation’s 53 million Hispanics comprise 17% of the total U.S. population but just 10% of all voters this year, according to the national exit poll. To borrow a boxing metaphor, they still “punch below their weight.”
  • California Unemployment Rate Dips To 10.1 Percent « CBS San Francisco – RT @KNX1070: California #Unemployment Rate Dips To 10.1 Percent « CBS San Francisco @knx1070
  • Flap’s Dentistry Blog: The Morning Drill: November 16, 2012 – The Morning Drill: November 16, 2012
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