Monday, November 26, 2007

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST November 26, 2007

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Our schedule is very tight for the coming week. We'll send the National/World Digests as often as possible but may miss some days.

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Ray and Michael


Romney and Giuliani Turn Negative in N.H.
Former Mayor Tries To Chip Away at Lead

By Dan Balz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 26, 2007; A01

CONCORD, N.H., Nov. 25 -- With Rudolph W. Giuliani looking to spring asurprise against Mitt Romney in the state hosting the nation's firstprimary, the race for the Republican presidential nomination took a sharplynegative turn here Sunday as the two candidates traded accusations abouttaxes, crime, immigration, abortion and ethical standards.

The rhetorical volleys underscored the growing stakes here in New Hampshire,where Romney leads in the polls but Giuliani now believes he has a chance toderail the former Massachusetts governor's campaign before it can build thekind of momentum that could make him unstoppable.

Leading in national polls, Giuliani had long appeared to be playing down the importance of early-voting states such as Iowa and New Hampshire in favor ofthe bigger states that hold their contests in late January and earlyFebruary. But he said in an interview Saturday that he intends to win here."We think we can catch him and get ahead of him," he said of Romney.

Romney responded by tweaking the former New York mayor, saying Giulianisounded increasingly worried about losing the nomination. "He's not in thetop three in Iowa, and he's not in the first two in New Hampshire, sodesperate times for Mayor Giuliani call for desperate efforts," he saidbefore leaving Concord for campaign events in western New Hampshire.

Romney dramatically escalated the attacks Sunday with a salvo at Giuliani,who had earlier criticized him over a judicial appointee who had overruled alower court and ordered the release of a convicted killer, who has sincebeen charged with another killing. Romney has called on the judge to resign.With his wife, Ann, and other members of his family at his side, he said itis essential for Republicans to pick a nominee "who can distinguish himselfon family values" from the Democratic front-runner, Sen. Hillary RodhamClinton (N.Y.).

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The False Conservative

By Robert D. Novak
Monday, November 26, 2007; A15

Who would respond to criticism from the Club for Growth by calling theconservative, free-market campaign organization the "Club for Greed"? Thatsounds like Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich or John Edwards, all Democratspreaching the class struggle. In fact, the rejoinder comes from MikeHuckabee, who has broken out of the pack of second-tier Republicanpresidential candidates to become a serious contender -- definitely in Iowaand perhaps nationally.

Huckabee is campaigning as a conservative, but serious Republicans know thathe is a high-tax, protectionist advocate of big government and a strong handin the Oval Office directing the lives of Americans. Until now, they did notbother to expose the former governor of Arkansas as a false conservativebecause he seemed an underfunded, unknown nuisance candidate. Now that hehas pulled even with Mitt Romney for the Iowa caucuses and might make moreprogress, the beleaguered Republican Party has a frightening problem.

The rise of evangelical Christians as the force that blasted the GOP out ofminority status during the past generation always contained an inherentdanger: What if these new Republican acolytes supported not merely aconventional conservative but one of their own? That has happened withHuckabee, a former Baptist minister educated at Ouachita Baptist Universityand Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The danger is a seriouscontender for the nomination who passes the litmus test of socialconservatives on abortion, gay marriage and gun control but is far removedfrom the conservative-libertarian model of Barry Goldwater and RonaldReagan.

There is no doubt about Huckabee's record during a decade in Little Rock. Hewas regarded by fellow Republican governors as a compulsive tax-and-spender.He increased the Arkansas tax burden 47 percent, boosting the levies ongasoline and cigarettes. When he lost 100 pounds and decided to press hisnew lifestyle on the American people, he was hardly being a Goldwater-Reaganlibertarian.

As a presidential candidate, Huckabee has sought to counteract hisreputation as a taxer by pressing for replacement of the income tax with asales tax. More recently he signed the no-tax-increase pledge of Americansfor Tax Reform. But Huckabee simply does not fit within normal boundaries ofeconomic conservatism, such as when he criticized President Bush's veto of aDemocratic expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program.Calling global warming a "moral issue" mandating "a biblical duty" toprevent climate change, he has endorsed a cap-and-trade system that isanathema to the free market.

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Politics of Race and Religion
Moral Issues Leave Black Evangelicals Torn Between Parties

By Krissah Williams
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 26, 2007; A04

Pastor Harry R. Jackson Jr. will often exhort his congregation to "standagainst" abortion and same-sex marriage. "You are on the battlefield in aculture war," he'll say, urging his listeners to help serve as the "moralcompass of America."

In his rhetoric and his political agenda, Jackson has much in common withother evangelical Christians who are part of the conservative wing of theRepublican party, except that Jackson is African American and so is hiscongregation at Hope Christian Church in Prince George's County.

Jackson, head of a group of socially conservative black pastors called theHigh Impact Leadership Coalition, in many ways personifies the possibilitiesthat Republican strategists such as Karl Rove have seen in appealing to thesocial conservatism of many African American churchgoers. Blacksoverwhelmingly identify themselves as Democrats and typically supportDemocratic candidates, but optimists in the GOP think one way to become amajority party is to peel off a sizable segment of black voters by findingcommon ground on social issues.

As a group, blacks attend religious services more frequently than whites andare less supportive of gay rights. In a Washington Post-Kaiser FamilyFoundation-Harvard University poll this summer, 43 percent of whiteDemocrats supported same-sex marriage, about double the percentage of blackDemocrats who said they do. More than half of blacks said they oppose bothsame-sex marriage and legal recognition of same-sex civil unions.

In the 2004 election, there was evidence that an appeal aimed at thosedifferences could work. President Bush nearly doubled his share of the blackvote in Ohio, thanks to a same-sex-marriage initiative on the ballot and thetargeting of black churchgoers through mailings and radio ads. But it'sunlikely that the 2008 Republican presidential candidate will be able toconsolidate those gains, and Jackson is one indication of why.

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A Jovial Air on Picket Lines for Hollywood Writers

November 26, 2007

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 25 - When the 12,000 members of the Writers Guild ofAmerica decided on Nov. 4 to strike, Hollywood wondered how hard thewhite-collar group would fight. The guild addressed the worry before thefirst pickets hit the streets.

"In years past, our picketing schedule has gone, 'Picket on Mondays for twohours and then meet at a bar until the following Monday,'" said David Young,the union's director, early this month. "That's not how we're going to do itthis time."

Studio executives rolled their eyes, but they soon blanched aswell-organized pickets fanned out across Los Angeles and New York, and onlygrew in intensity. It turns out, many union members say, that striking inHollywood - at least short term - is not that bad. A lot of strikers saythey are enjoying networking, taping YouTube videos, organizing theme daysand dreaming up placard slogans.

"The studios think we are having a horrible time out here," said RichardPotter, a screenwriter who made "Strike Dancing," a YouTube video showingpickets bebopping in formation to "Play That Funky Music."

"What's actually happening is we're having a great time."

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Social Security Reform Divides Dems, GOP Candidates

by The Associated Press
Posted: November 26, 2007 - 8:00 am ET

(Washington) Three years after the collapse of President Bush's plan forprivate Social Security accounts, Republican presidential contenders areeager to try again. Not so the Democrats, who gravitate toward increasingpayroll taxes on upper-income earners to fix the program's finances.

With the notable exception of former Sen. Fred Thompson, a Republican,presidential hopefuls in both parties shy away from suggestions that mightoffend their own primary voters. As a result, bipartisan commissions toresolve the program's long-term financial problems are in. And longer waitsfor retirement are most definitely out.

Thompson's proposal, by contrast, includes lower-than-promised benefits forfuture retirees, as well as new private accounts to make Social Securitysolvent for 75 years. "If somebody's got a better idea let them put it onthe table," he said recently, daring his rivals.

Given the divide between the parties, Social Security seems likely to becomemore of an issue during the 2008 general election than it has been in thecampaigns for the presidential nominations.

For now, the most favored suggestion, creation of a bipartisan commission,seems to hold different meanings for different candidates.

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Obama Touts Health Care Plan

by The Associated Press
Posted: November 26, 2007 - 8:00 am ET

(Council Bluffs, Iowa) Democrat Barack Obama, seeking to distance from hisleading rivals, touted his health care expansion package as doing more tocut costs and deal with root problems facing consumers "than any otherproposal in this race."

Obama's two main rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination - NewYork Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and former North Carolina Sen. JohnEdwards - have offered universal health care plans, while his stops short ofmandating everyone have health insurance. Obama routinely describes hisrivals' plans as similar in thrust.

"Cost is the number one reason that 47 million Americans do not have healthinsurance and thousands more are edging toward bankruptcy every day," Obamatold a town hall-style meeting of about 350 people at a Council Bluffs highschool. "That is wrong, and it's why my plan does more to cut the cost ofhealth insurance than any other proposal in this race."

Obama argued against elements of his rivals' plans that would requireconsumers to buy health insurance, saying that thinking is misplaced.

"What I have said repeatedly is that the reason people don't have healthinsurance is not because they don't want it, it's because they can't affordit," said Obama.

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Forwarded from Susan Frishkorn

Happy in their personal lives, Americans worry about country

Associated Press Writers

WASHINGTON (AP) - Julie Murray says life is good. Yet gasoline prices arecrimping her grocery budget, she can't afford a larger house, and she saysPresident Bush is not focused enough on people's problems at home.

"My husband and I are happy," said Murray, 46, a homemaker from Montpelier,Miss. "We just wish we could buy more into the American dream."

Like Murray, most in the U.S. say they are personally happy and feel incontrol of their lives and finances, according to an extensive AssociatedPress-Yahoo! News survey on the mood of voters. Beneath the surface, though,personal and political discontent is bubbling.




Holocaust Denial, American Style

By Mark Weisbrot, AlterNet
Posted on November 21, 2007
Printed on November 26, 2007

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad's flirtation with those who deny thereality of the Nazi genocide has rightly been met with disgust. But anotherholocaust denial is taking place with little notice: the holocaust in Iraq.The average American believes that 10,000 Iraqi civilians have been killedsince the US invasion in March 2003. The most commonly cited figure in themedia is 70,000. But the actual number of people who have been killed ismost likely more than one million.

This is five times more than the estimates of killings in Darfur and evenmore than the genocide in Rwanda 13 years ago.

The estimate of more than one million violent deaths in Iraq was confirmedagain two months ago in a poll by the British polling firm Opinion ResearchBusiness, which estimated 1,220,580 violent deaths since the US invasion.This is consistent with the study conducted by doctors and scientists fromthe Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health more than a year ago.Their study was published in the Lancet, Britain's leading medical journal.It estimated 601,000 people killed due to violence as of July 2006; but ifupdated on the basis of deaths since the study, this estimate would also bemore than a million. These estimates do not include those who have diedbecause of public health problems created by the war, including breakdownsin sewerage systems and electricity, shortages of medicines, etc.

Amazingly, some journalists and editors - and of course some politicians -dismiss such measurements because they are based on random sampling of thepopulation rather than a complete count of the dead. While it would be wrongto blame anyone for their lack of education, this disregard for scientificmethods and results is inexcusable. As one observer succinctly put it: ifyou don't believe in random sampling, the next time your doctor orders ablood test, tell him that he needs to take all of it.

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