December 10th, 2010
Fox Nation / December 10, 2010
Cupcakes, once a delightful source of sugary indulgence, later a cliched trend much derided on blogs like this one, have sunk to a new low: racial controversy. A video for Duncan Hines' Amazing Glazes has angered viewers for its depiction of, uh, cupcakes in black face.
December 10th, 2010
Representative Ron Paul, Texas Republican and author of “End the Fed,” will take control of the House subcommittee that oversees the Federal Reserve.
House Financial Services chairman-elect Spencer Bachus, an Alabama Republican, selected Paul, 75, to lead the panel’s domestic monetary policy subcommittee when their party takes the House majority next month, the committee chairman said today.
“This is the leadership team that crafted the first comprehensive financial reform bill to put an end to the bailouts, wind down the taxpayer funding of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and enforce a strong audit of the Federal Reserve,” Bachus said in a statement.
Paul, in an interview last week, said he plans a slate of hearings on U.S. monetary policy and will restart his push for a full audit of the Fed’s functions.
“We are ready to hit the ground running, and I look forward to continuing our work in the next Congress,” Bachus said.
Paul, who has introduced legislation to abolish the Fed, became nationally known during his 2008 presidential campaign. His campaign to audit the Fed picked up steam as the central bank deployed trillions of dollars in emergency loans in the midst of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Paul’s bill gained the support of 320 of 435 members of the House and a portion of the measure ended up in the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory overhaul enacted this year.
Attacks on Bernanke
Paul’s assignment comes as the Republican Party has stepped up attacks on Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and the central bank in the wake of the Nov. 3 announcement that it would buy bonds in an attempt to bring down unemployment and prevent inflation.
“Congress must act to rein in Chairman Bernanke and the Fed before they destroy our currency and permanently damage our economy and financial system,” Senator Jim Bunning, a Kentucky Republican, said in his farewell speech on the Senate floor today. “Public awareness of what the Fed is doing is increasing while public opinion of the Fed is falling.”
Bunning’s views are reflected throughout the country, according to a Bloomberg National Poll that reveals deep skepticism about the Fed.
Americans across the political spectrum say the central bank shouldn’t retain its current structure of independence, according to the poll. Asked if the central bank should be more accountable to Congress, left independent or abolished entirely, 39 percent said it should be held more accountable and 16 percent that it should be abolished. Thirty-seven percent favor the status quo.
Paul, who has been passed up twice before for the subcommittee chairmanship, may cause a problem for Republicans who have traditionally defended the central bank, Representative Barney Frank, the outgoing chairman of the Financial Services Committee, said today in a Bloomberg Television interview.
“I think you’re going to see a significant dispute within the Republican Party,” said Frank, who was re-appointed by his party as the senior Democrat on the committee. “I do not believe that Ron Paul’s views on the Fed represent the views of most Republicans.”
Bachus will keep the senior Republicans on the panel in leadership positions. Representative Jeb Hensarling of Texas will take over as the panel’s vice chairman, replacing fellow Texas Republican Randy Neugebauer, who moves over to lead the oversight and investigations subcommittee.
Representative Scott Garrett of New Jersey will become chairman of the capital markets panel, which would oversee any work done on government-owned mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Representatives Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Judy Biggert of Illinois will take over the financial institutions and housing subcommittees, respectively. Representative Gary Miller of California will take over as chairman of the international monetary policy panel.
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December 10th, 2010
Camilla hit by rioter through Window
London Evening Standard
Ross Lydall and Justin Davenport
A rioter managed to push a stick through an open window of the limousine and jab her in the ribs. Camilla's terrifying ordeal came as a baying mob surrounded her and husband Prince Charles when they rode through central London in the vintage Rolls-Royce last night.
A police source said one of the car's rear windows was opened by mistake as tuition fee protesters moved in. The attack is the biggest royal security breach in decades and raises new questions about the protection of the couple.
The Standard can now reveal the breach was even more serious than first appeared, with thugs managing to reach deep into the car's interior.
Armed officers were seconds from drawing their weapons but the police driver managed to accelerate away from trouble. Police sources have revealed that the Duchess was “very scared” when the yob leaned into the car.
He said: “She is laughing about it now but everyone was rather shaken.” A Clarence House spokesman said today: “Their Royal Highnesses totally understand the difficulties the police face and are always very grateful to them for the job they do in often challenging circumstances.”
The Rolls-Royce was surrounded as it drove down Regent Street, with protesters kicking at the doors and shattering a rear window. At one point it was rocked and hit with paint bombs.
Shocked shop workers said the crowd had been “baying for blood” as 40 activists chased after the car.
It was attacked as it headed up Regent Street to a Royal Variety Performance at the London Palladium, causing a major royal security scare.
Gordon Spurs, 26, who works in a clothes shop near where the attack happened, told the Standard: “The Rolls-Royce took a real pasting. It was pretty terrifying to watch. The crowd were baying for blood. At one point where were 40 or 50 protesters chasing the car up towards Argyll Street. It was completely out of control.
“There were bottles and bins being thrown. People were also ripping up barriers from the building sites along the street. If one of them had hit the royal car it could have been far worse.”
The police source said that at first the students did not appear to be aggressive. He said “The students were very friendly but then things turned nasty when the hard core stepped in.”
Serious questions were today being asked about how police allowed Charles and Camilla to become trapped by an angry mob. But Met chief Sir Paul Stephenson praised armed protection officers for their restraint in reacting to the attack. He was forced to defend the route taken by the royal couple as MPs vowed to grill Home Secretary Theresa May over the dangers they faced.
Today Sir Paul revealed there was reconnaissance on the route “minutes” before it set off from Clarence House and blamed the “the unpredictability of thugs” for causing the royal convoy to separate as it became stuck in traffic at around 7.15pm. This allowed rioters — who were believed to have been moving to target the Topshop store in Oxford Circus — to attack.
The incident prompted the Commons home affairs committee to announce that the Home Secretary will be asked next Tuesday to explain whether there was “a breakdown in communications” between riot and protection officers.
Committee chairman Keith Vaz said: “Was it wise to take a car that was so distinctive through the middle of London during the aftermath of the biggest demonstration seen for years?”
Sir Paul was facing the most serious crisis since taking control of the Met two years ago. His predecessor Lord Stevens considered resigning in 2003 when “comedy terrorist” Aaron Barschak bluffed his way into Prince William's 21st birthday party at Windsor Castle.
The Met is likely to face an inquiry conducted by another force into how the royal couple ended up in such a vulnerable situation.
David Davis, the former shadow home secretary, told The Daily Telegraph: “Sir Paul has very serious questions to answer about this operation. Why were professional anarchists and violent agitators allowed to come anywhere near the car?” Brian Paddick, a former Met deputy assistant commissioner, said: “I don't think that Charles and Camilla should have ever found themselves in that situation.”
Former Scotland Yard Commander John O'Connor said: “I really do think the police have put Prince Charles and his wife in considerable danger.”
Sir Paul promised a “full criminal investigation”. Members of the Met Police's's special escort group were understood to have been summoned to a briefing today.
But the commissioner said a balance needed to be struck between ensuring that the Royal Family were protected and maintaining their wish to be seen in public.
In the attack on Topshop in Oxford Street, masked rioters tried to smash windows and sprayed the words “Pay your tax” on the building in front of terrified shoppers and staff.
Part of Oxford Street was cordoned off while the rioters were dispersed and the Oxford Circus tube station was closed because of fears over public safety. More than 20,000 students marched through London but the protests descended into vandalism and violence as rioters attacked police in Parliament Square.
Agitators hurled huge metal barriers and placard poles at heavily armed officers in an effort to breach police lines protecting Parliament.
Benches were set alight in Parliament Square, Winston Churchill's statue was vandalised and windows were smashed at the Treasury and the Supreme Court.
Police responded by striking protesters with batons and charging them on horseback.
What caused the violence?
The first problem was that a “significant number” of protesters came apparently determined to cause trouble. Some demonstrators also added to the challenge facing police by failing to keep to the route agreed by student leaders and the Met.
Could the Met have handled the protest differently?
Since the controversy over its robust handling of the G20 protests, the Met has been under political pressure to allow peaceful protest. That meant the demonstrators were allowed to go to Parliament, despite the risk of a violent confrontation.
But what went wrong then?
The trouble broke out as protesters pulled down barriers in Parliament Square. Student leaders today blamed the police for “kettling” them prior to this, but some demonstrators were intent on confronting the police and vandalising property. Questions will be asked as to why the barriers were so flimsy, and why other debris that could be used as weapons was left in the area.
Were there other tactics the police could have used to prevent violence?
Continental police might have used water cannon or CS gas once the protest turned violent. But the British tradition of policing is different and puts officers face to face with protesters. That makes it hard to prevent clashes if some are determined to cause trouble.
Why was the car carrying Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall allowed to go where demonstrators were present?
This was an obvious blunder by police. The Met says the route had been checked minutes before and found to be clear. But given the potential risk to the Prince, better intelligence should have been obtained and the royal car diverted.
What does this mean for the future?
With further demonstrations over government spending cuts likely and the London Olympics, where large crowds would make demonstrations difficult to handle, another reassessment of public order policing is inevitable. The question for police, politicians and the public will be whether tighter controls — and even the use of methods such as water cannon — might be needed or whether yesterday's scenes are the regrettable price of democracy.
December 10th, 2010
Wall Street Journal
By Peggy Noonan
The left has been honestly disappointed in Mr. Obama. He did not come through as they think he should have in myriad ways—the public option, closing Guantanamo, war, now the tax plan. But—and this makes it all more complicated and fascinating—the left does not say Mr. Obama has been revealed to be at heart a conservative, or a Republican. Most of them know he is one of them—his worldview is more of less theirs, his assumptions are theirs. Does anyone doubt he would have included a public option in health care if he thought he could have? He judged that he couldn't. He didn't have the numbers in the Senate. It isn't an argument about philosophy or ideology. It's only an argument about what's practical and possible.
Some on the left argue that if only the president had talked more, and more passionately, if he'd worked it harder, he could have brought the country to support leftist programs. But why do they think this? The general public has seen the president out there for two years talking and promoting a generally leftist direction. Voters demonstrated in elections through 2009 and '10 that a generally leftist direction is not what they want.
All of this—the disenchantment of the left, the confusion of the party's professionals—has led to increased talk of a primary challenger to Mr. Obama in 2012.
And here too the president's position would be without parallel.
When Pat Buchanan challenged an incumbent president in his party's presidential primary in 1992, he was going at George H.W. Bush from the right. Mr. Bush's base wasn't the right, it was the party's center. His support came from people who said not "I am a conservative," but "I am a Republican." Mr. Bush wasn't challenged from his base.
When Ted Kennedy challenged a sitting president of his party in 1980, he was going at Jimmy Carter from the left. But Mr. Carter's base wasn't the left, it was more or less in the party's center.
When Ronald Reagan challenged a sitting president of his party in 1976, he was going at Gerald Ford from the right. Like Mr. Bush, Ford's base wasn't the right, it was the party's establishment. Eugene McCarthy in 1968 the same—he challenged Lyndon Johnson from the left, while Johnson's base within the party was the establishment.
Modern presidents are never challenged from their base, always by the people who didn't love them going in. You're not supposed to get a serious primary challenge from the people who loved you. But that's the talk of what may happen with Mr. Obama.
The Democratic Party is stuck. Their problem is not, as some have said, that they don't have anyone of sufficient stature to challenge the president. Russ Feingold and Howard Dean have said they aren't interested, but a challenger can always be found, or can emerge. If anything marks this political age, it's that anyone can emerge.
The Democrats' problem is that most of them know that the person who would emerge, who would challenge Mr. Obama from the left, would never, could never, win the 2012 general election. He'd lose badly and take the party with him. Democratic professionals know the mood of the country. Challenging Mr. Obama from the left would mean definitely losing the presidency, as opposed to probably losing the presidency.
There is only one Democrat who could possibly challenge Mr. Obama for the nomination successfully and win the general election, and that is Hillary Clinton. Who insists she doesn't want to.
What are the Democrats to do? If you are stuck with a president, you try to survive either with him or, individually, in spite of him. Some Democrats will try to bring him back. How? Who knows. But that will be a great Democratic drama of 2011: Saving Obama.
The White House itself still probably thinks the Republicans can save him, by overstepping, by alienating moderates. But so far, on domestic matters, they're looking pretty calm and sober. They didn't crow at the tax compromise, for instance, even though they knew the left is correct: It wasn't a compromise, it was a bow. To reality, but a bow nonetheless.
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Hackers Rise for WikiLeaks
December 10th, 2010
Some say they will withhold funds for the next election. Even if they come around before the campaign kicks into gear, the initial backlash could hurt early Democratic efforts to counter GOP-allied groups.