Free Rush Limbaugh!

Photo courtesy Fresh Conservative, flickr

There is no industry in this country that is healthier, or less worthy of health, than the outrage industry — particularly as it pertains to the war against “controversial remarks.”

It is too hard for the media to let the public know that Congress has not passed (let alone balanced) a budget since 2009, but let someone speak words deemed beyond the pale and coverage will drag out for days on end. Activists will pounce. Scared parties will distance themselves. PR consultants will be called in for “crisis management.”

We can keep ourselves very busy — showing incredible focus and discipline — responding to things that don’t matter.

So the current hubbub over Rush Limbaugh’s labeling of Sandra Fluke as a slut is merely today’s storyline — along with the requisite calls for his advertisers to ditch him, radio stations to drop him and Republican politicians to denounce him. (Democratic politicians don’t need to be asked.)

I would not have said what Rush said. I would not have said that Hitler was good at the start, as the late Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott once did. I would not have said that blacks were bred to be good athletes, as odds maker Jimmy the Greek once did. I would not have uttered the term “macaca,” as now-former Sen. George Allen once did (especially since, to this day, I have no idea what it means and I don’t care).

I wouldn’t get drunk and start railing against Jews as Mel Gibson once did. I wouldn’t call a black football player a “little monkey” as Howard Cosell once did.

And of course, I wouldn’t have insulted Sarah Palin’s daughter like David Letterman did, nor would I have called Michelle Malkin a mashed up pig with lipstick like Keith Olbermann did.

I wouldn’t say a lot of things a lot of people have said.

But I have a notion about the penalty people should pay for such statements, and about the amount of public attention each such statement deserves, and that is: Nothing, and none.

Each of the above-mentioned examples was insensitive and stupid, but not one of them had the slightest impact on your life or mine. None of them will influence a policy to be implemented, or a decision that will matter to anyone. A few of them involve specific offended parties who were owed an apology, but the rest of us weren’t owed anything.

Yet every time someone makes “controversial remarks,” the nation makes it the cause of the day to hold the person “accountable” for words that are stupid but mean nothing and matter not at all. The more heat the person comes under, the more fascinated people become. If the person loses his or her job or career as a result of the ensuing pressure, then the story becomes absolutely riveting.

The whole thing is a waste of time, and usually a distraction from parts of the story that actually matter. Sandra Fluke may not be a slut, but she’s either ignorant or dishonest when she says it costs $3,000 to buy birth control over the course of a three-year law school career – as any number of media outlets have pointed out since she gave her testimony before Nancy Pelosi’s fake public hearing. That is actually relevant to the discussion, which is all about whether employers need to be forced by the federal government to pay for insurance coverage of contraception.

The dinosaur media should be reporting this, but they don’t because Rush gave them the opportunity to digress into a “controversial remarks” storyline instead. You can blame Rush for handing them the change-of-subject on a silver platter, but I say they are responsible for their news judgment. Covering the Rush controversy is more fun and easier — days of intrigue, easily obtained quotes from the outraged — but it does nothing to serve the public.

It’s time we offered amnesty to all utterers of controversial, ignorant, hateful and stupid remarks — not because they deserve it, necessarily, but because we don’t accomplish anything worthwhile by taking them down. It wouldn’t kill us as a nation to grow up a little and recognize that we can handle it when someone says something, and it would be very healthy to recognize that the time spent obsessing over such things is much more counterproductive than the remarks themselves.

Free Rush! And free yourself. The words truly will not hurt you —- unless you’re an ignorant macaca slut of a little monkey.

Uh oh.

(Dan Calabrese is editor-in-chief of the Michigan-based syndicate North Star Writers Group, and the author of the Royal Oak Series of spiritual thrillers, which are available at www.dancalabresebooks.com. Originally posted on Michigan View.)

Super Tuesday: Romney wins votes but no consensus, no broad support

Super Tuesday’s slew of presidential primary elections and state caucuses underscored a recurring challenge for GOP presidential nomination frontrunner Mitt Romney – his inability to clinch broad-based support within his own party.

Rick Santorum continues as the fly in the ointment for the Romney camp. The former Pennsylvania senator, for lack of a better option, has become the anti-Romney, to the chagrin of the former Massachusetts governor and many others concerned with nominating someone capable of defeating President Barack Obama.

Romney secured expected victories in Massachusetts, Vermont, Idaho and Virginia, though Rep. Ron Paul gave Romney a challenge in Virginia, where they were the only two on the ballot. Santorum won in Tennessee, Oklahoma and, unexpectedly, in North Dakota, a state Romney carried in the 2008 GOP race. Newt Gingrich won a decisive victory in his home state, Georgia.

Even the night’s biggest story, Romney’s paper-thin victory over Santorum in the battleground state of Ohio, offered more evidence of the weakness of the Republican field. Romney is not connecting with far too many voters, and the strongest alternative is a former senator with a lackluster message, little political cash to spend and such a disorganized campaign his name didn’t even appear on the ballot in Virginia.

(Read Full Article)

CA Tax Initiative Comparison

Check out the chart below to see a side-by-side comparison of the three tax initiatives that will be placed on the ballot for California’s upcoming elections. Includes Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal, California Federation of Teachers “Millionaires Tax”, and Molly Munger’s Education/ECE initiative.

(Click on the photo for a bigger version; made available by the California Budget Project.)

What will Super Tuesday mean for California and other delegate-rich states?

California’s potential relevance in the GOP presidential nomination process will come into clearer focus this week. March 6 is designated Super Tuesday, the largest one-day conglomeration of states holding primaries or caucuses to decide their state’s commitment of delegates to a particular presidential candidate.

More GOP presidential convention delegates will be apportioned Tuesday, 437, than have been at stake the entire primary season to date. If current front-runner, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, were to win a majority of Tuesday’s delegates – or even a plurality – he will add to his delegate lead but remain far from having the 1,144 delegates to clinch the nomination. If he doesn’t win the most delegates Tuesday, look for the candidates to continue to bash each other around as they shift focus to upcoming primaries in other delegate-rich states.

After last weekend’s caucus results in Washington state, Romney has amassed 203 delegates; former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum has 92, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has 33 and Texas Rep. Ron Paul has 25.

Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia are holding either primaries or caucuses Tuesday.

Georgia, Gingrich’s home state, offers the most delegates, 76. According to most major polls Gingrich was leading, followed by Santorum and Romney. Rasmussen Reports’ poll late last week had Gingrich at 33 percent, to Santorum’s 28 percent and Romney’s 20 percent.

(Read Full Article)

Drilling to Create Jobs

With the New Year come resolutions. Here, then, is a modest resolution for 2012: Cities and towns should exercise caution before adopting prohibitions on oil and gas extraction that could expose the municipalities to costly litigation and could make them less competitive at a time when job creation is both a national and regional priority.

A quick review of the latest city to adopt a moratorium – Binghamton – demonstrates why such a resolution is needed. New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Department of Environmental Conservation have spent nearly four years developing draft regulations to address gas development in the Marcellus Shale. The regulations – which, as the duration of rulemaking would suggest, were drafted with both caution and sensitivity to environmental concerns – would prohibit drilling within most if not all of Binghamton’s city limits given its proximity to a primary aquifer.

So Binghamton was unlikely to see much, if any, drilling in the near future, regardless of the city council’s action. The members of the city council nonetheless voted in favor of a two-year moratorium to, as some present at the hearing reportedly said, “send a message.”

But what message did they send? That they would prohibit drilling largely in areas where it would otherwise be prohibited? Or, as one business owner in Binghamton lamented at the hearing, “that Binghamton is not open for business?”

Binghamton may, however, be open for litigation. Other municipalities that instituted bans, such as Dryden, have found themselves hauled into court, defending their legally dubious positions.

The legal problem is that New York reserves the authority to regulate oil and gas through its Environmental Conservation Law, which is intended to prevent waste, provide for “greater ultimate recovery of oil and gas” and to protect the environment while also protecting the rights of oil and gas leaseholders and landowners. Rather than provide a patchwork of regulation, the DEC and ECL create a comprehensive framework, delving into details such as spacing of location of wells.

Of course, it is not just that localities will be spending tax revenue to defend these laws. It is that these moratoria necessarily mean that the cities are foregoing jobs and tax revenues. An average well developed in the region would generate more than $190,000 annually in tax revenues that would provide relief to counties which have had to make tough cuts during the recession. And at a time when New York’s unemployment rate persists at near 8 percent, development of the Marcellus Shale would produce sought-after, high-paying jobs.

Those who have promoted the moratoria have done so citing the need for caution. But greater caution needs to be taken before localities implement moratoria that potentially conflict with state law and draft regulations, create legal uncertainty and expense for cities and towns, and simultaneously cost jobs and tax revenue.

(Robert Alt is a fellow in legal and international affairs at the Ashbrook Center. Originally posted on Ashbrook.)

Obama uses Media Bias against Limbaugh for his own benefit

A year ago, liberal comedian Bill Maher unapologetically called Sarah Palin a “tw**” and piled on four months later calling her a “c***” and Michele Bachmann a “b**b.”

This as liberal talk show host Ed Schultz called Laura Ingraham a “slut” and Keith Olbermann called conservative commentator Michelle Malkin ” big mashed-up bag of meat with lipstick on it.”

Outraged by this “War on Women,” did President Obama phone Palin, Bachmann, Ingraham, or Malkin to soothe their pain as part of his national call for civility in the wake of Gabby Gifford’s shooting in January 2011? He did not.

His media allies ignored the insults as well.

Yet, this week, after CONSERVATIVE radio show host Rush Limbaugh let fly with ill-conceived comments about Sandra Fluke being a “slut,” President Obama called the Georgetown activist to express his sympathies. Such hot rhetoric – on the left and right – is the dally hurly-burly of talk radio and political comedy. Denounce it all – or none of it. The president’s calculated criticism of Limbaugh alone brought the predictable media attention – and an apology from Limbaugh.

But the president’s insincerity speaks volumes.

While Obama uses Fluke as a pawn in his political campaign, his Super Pac has accepted $1 million contribution from female-trashing Maher and other Democrats have received campaign contributions from Olbermann. President Obama has not demanded that his party return those monies.

Neither has he – nor anyone else in his party (most notably Michigan “Civility Cop” John Dingell) denounced the steady stream of hate and death threats directed at governors from Scott Walker to Rick Snyder. This is how President Obama uses his office to score cheap political points for his personal gain.

(Henry Payne is editor of The Michigan View.com, where this article was originally posted.)

Republican hopes for Senate majority may rest on Nevada

Photo courtesy of Rob Crawley, flickr

Arguably, the most important U.S. Senate race this year is in Nevada, where incumbent Republican Dean Heller is fighting against intense Democratic opposition for the seat that could decide which party controls the Senate next year.

Republicans need a net gain of four seats to regain control of the Senate, which they lost after 2006. Mr. Heller’s seat and Scott Brown’s seat in Massachusetts are two of the most critical for the GOP to hold. There are currently 47 Republican senators, 51 Democrats and two Independents, both of whom caucus with Democrats.

Mr. Heller spent last Wednesday in Orange County, meeting with business and political leaders, building relationships and raising funds. California, and Orange County, in particular, are key fundraising stops for Republicans across the country. Democrats also raise significant funds in the county; President Barack Obama held a heavily protested fundraiser recently in Corona del Mar.

Mr. Heller, 51, appointed by Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval after Republican Sen. John Ensign resigned in April amid ethics investigations, has a long political résumé in Nevada as a member of the House of Representatives, the state Assembly and a former secretary of state.

(Read Full Blog)

Gingrich focusing on California’s wealth of presidential delegates

Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore, flickr

While former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum duke it out in Michigan in a knock down drag out fight for the Wolverine State’s 30 delegates, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich, opted to campaign in the Bay Area of the Golden State where he moments ago  keynoted a luncheon event at the California Republican Party’s Spring Convention signaling a campaign strategy to capture the lion’s share of the state’s 172 presidential delegates at stake.

Gingrich was joined on stage by his wife Callista, former Godfather’s Pizza CEO and former presidential nomination rival, Herman Cain as well as Michael Reagan, the son of former President Ronald Reagan. Newt and his allies spoke  generally about boldness and how the former Speaker is the most bold of the remaining candidates in terms of his proposed policies if elected president.

Gingrich’s campaign is looking towards California’s June election as a potential resurgence point for his campaign which has been faltering in recent weeks. In fact, earlier Saturday morning at the CRP convention, Newt supporters gathered to discuss his campaign’s California strategy, which includes targeting congressional districts in both conservative and liberal areas because in California delegates are awarded based on congressional districts rather than winner-take-all.

Gingrich may be wise to focus in California as he is trailing both Romney and Santorum in the delegate race. Romney has collected 167 delegates to date and Santorum has 87. Gingrich has only won 32 delegates followed by Congressman Ron Paul with 19.

(Brian Calle is a columnist and editorial writer for the Orange County Register. Originally posted on Uncommon Ground.)

Even Jay Leno admits Obama hasn’t done anything to lower gas prices

Jay Leno took a shot at President Obama during his show on Friday, February 24. Citing the rising gas prices in California and Obama’s speech on the subject, he said, “[Obama] focused on the positive things his administration has done when it comes to energy prices. So, in other words, it was the shortest speech he’s ever given.”

“President Obama is starting to get a little overconfident. In an interview with Univision radio, he said, ‘My presidency isn’t over yet, and I’ve still got five more years.’ Even his predictions are over budget.” Check out the video below to see the monologue.

Photo Gallery: GOP Convention in Burlingame


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See below for photos from CRP Convention in Burlingame, CA: