Palin reminds Occupy protesters: Obama gives the fat cats their cat nip

Yesterday, in a speech to Florida Republican donors, Sarah Palin called out the connection between Big Government and Big Business and echoed Herman Cain’s admonition to Occupy Wall Street to occupy Washington instead. But, with typical Palin flair, she said it all in a descriptive, easy-to-remember way:

“They say, ‘Wall Street fat cats got a bailout so now I want one too,’” Palin said. “And the correct answer is no one is entitled to a bailout.”

Palin said that rather than bailouts, “The American dream — our foundation — is about work ethic and empowerment, not entitlement.”

“Barack Obama is owned by Wall Street,” she said. “The fat cats, as he calls them, they’re his friends. They’re his pals. That’s where he gets his campaign donations. And he’s very generous about giving these cats their cat nip: bigger returns on their investments in bailouts.”

Little to add to that. As conservatives have said pretty much from the minute the Days of Rage first broke out, if the Occupy Wall Street movement seriously wants to eliminate crony capitalism, the protesters will have to advocate for a smaller, less powerful federal government, too.

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Gingrich getting that second look?

Newt Gingrich cracked the double digits for the first time in today’s ABC/Washington Post poll, attracting 12 percent support from those polled.

Gingrich’s spokesman told ABC the campaign is pleased:

“Any progress is good progress,” spokesman R.C. Hammond said. “What we’re looking to do is continually march toward the caucus and put forth ideas and solutions.” …

“We’re seeing steady growth and that’s important,” Hammond said. “We’ve got a growing base and we’re seeing three out of every four donors coming in is a new person.” …

“Our goal is to make sure that the time for voters to latch onto Newt as their candidate will be when it’s time to vote and caucus,” Hammond said. “As long as we’re seeing steady progress, that means we’re on track, we’re not looking to have everyone on board by a certain date.”

It’s not hard to believe voters have begun to reconsider Gingrich. His scandal-plagued personal life is very much a part of his past, not present, and his statesmanlike presentation and long-established opinions cast a reassuring aura of consistency over his candidacy.

In the same poll, 45 percent of voters said they’re still apt to change their minds about a candidate — and 25 percent picked Gingrich as the winner of the Republican debates so far. Those are both positive signs for Gingrich, who, except for the early implosion of his campaign staff, as his advisers rushed away to persuade Rick Perry to run, hasn’t drawn much negative attention to himself throughout the primary season — and has even gradually begun to attract positive speculation.

But, on the subject of negative attention: Despite all he’s received this week, Herman Cain’s share of support in the ABC/WaPo poll still grew, from 16 percent to 23 percent. Whether that’s because GOP voters actually think he’d make a professional president or just want to show support in the face of a poorly reported (and subsequently poorly handled) scandal remains to be seen.

In the meantime, voters will see who handles in-depth policy questions better when Gingrich and Cain go head to head tomorrow in Houston.

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Romney still hitting Perry on immigration

The Mitt Romney campaign recently launched its first paid attack on Rick Perry — a series of robo calls in Iowa, featuring the voice of Arizona border-county Sheriff Paul Babeau. In the call, Babeau brands Perry “part of the illegal immigration problem.” Not surprisingly, Babeau mentions Perry’s opposition to a border fence and support for in-state college tuition for the children of illegal immigrants as evidence of Perry’s troublesome positions on the issue.

Babeau doesn’t mention, however, that Perry also supports work visas for illegal immigrants — perhaps because Perry only recently prominently articulated that position:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry proposed the federal government should extend work visas allowing illegal immigrants to move freely between the U.S. and their home countries — but stressed that he opposes amnesty or a path to citizenship.

Perry said in an interview with CNN’s John King on Thursday that expectations that U.S. authorities are going to arrest and deport up to 15 million illegal immigrants isn’t realistic. He added, however, that other Republicans, including fellow Texan George W. Bush, went too far when they previously proposed an immigration overhaul that included a path to citizenship. …

“You can put a program into place in which these individuals can be identified, and work visas in which they can move back and forth between their countries but not to become United States citizens,” Perry said. “And I think that’s where McCain, that’s where Romney, that’s where even Bush went wrong when they talked about the issue that, `we’re going to give amnesty to these individuals,’ and people just said, `no, we’re not.”‘

That Romney has directly invested dollars to oppose Perry’s already problematic immigration positions underscores the fact that the former Massachusetts governor must still perceive Perry as his long-term rival, despite Herman Cain’s recent domination of both the polls and the news cycle.

Perry’s best attempts to revive his campaign have not yet seemed to catch on — and his early defense of his in-state tuition law was inelegant and clumsy, at best — but his positions on immigration really shouldn’t disqualify him from the GOP nomination. Taken in totality, they reflect a pragmatic approach that yet respects the rule of law. He recognizes securing the border — including with strategic fencing — as the necessary first step to a sound immigration policy and rejects amnesty as the ultimate sanction of illegal entry into the country, but also proposes policies that might enable the U.S. economy to legitimately benefit from the productivity of non-U.S. citizen workers.

At a time of high unemployment, that might not be a top concern. In fact, the top concern might be the opposite: How do we retain jobs for American workers? But support for in-state tuition or work visas can’t necessarily be held against Perry from a rule of law standpoint and, again, need not disqualify him for the nomination, especially in light of Romney’s equally squishy positions.

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Down twinkles: Occupier now occupying jail cell for $10M arson

Another week of peaceful protesters bringing their succinct message of hope and change to the oppressive forces of capitalism and despotic tyranny has come and gone. Lots of attention has been focused on the activities taking place in New York and Oakland, but Friday brought us news from yet another drum circle gathering, this time in Fort Collins, Colorado. Let’s check in and see what sort of announcements are coming in over the human microphone network, shall we?

Police have arrested an Occupy Fort Collins protester in connection with a $10 million arson fire that damaged dozens of condominiums and businesses in Fort Collins.

Benjamin David Gilmore, 29, was arrested on Thursday night on suspicion of arson, burglary and criminal mischief.

On Oct. 24, a fire started at 3:30 a.m. in a four-story apartment complex under construction. The fire spread to the occupied Penny Flats condominium and retail building next door.

The fire at Penny Flats caused heavy fire damage to the fourth floor and roof, and heavy smoke and water damage to the first, second and third floors, according to Poudre Fire Authority spokesman Patrick Love.

Gilmore showed up in court and reportedly “broke down in tears” when telling the judge that he just wanted to go home with his wife. The judge, apparently not familiar with the trials and tribulations of the put upon 99%, promptly set bail at one quarter million dollars… cash only, please. The accused apparently hadn’t come up with that kind of spare change, and was promptly returned to jail.

The protesters were quick to point out that this one, scurrilous individual clearly shouldn’t be associated with the larger movement as a whole. Gilmore? Benjamin Gilmore? Hmmm… doesn’t ring a bell.

“He may have stopped by the protest, but he is in no way a direct relation to our movement,” said protester Julia Crisafi. “We are peaceful protesters.”

Demonstrating the spot on, well coordinated messaging for which the movement has become famous, some other occupiers quickly echoed that sentiment. Or… maybe not.

Gilmore Well Known At Occupy Fort Collins

Gilmore joined the Occupy Fort Collins movement in mid-October.

“He showed up on the 3rd or 4th day,” said Rich Crisler, who identified himself as the media coordinator for Occupy Fort Collins.

Crisler said he doesn’t believe Gilmore started the fire.

“He had no reason to do this,” Crisler said. “They’re [investigators] just looking for a scapegoat.”

Crisler said Gilmore owns a honey business. Crisler said Gilmore is very kind, soft-spoken and wants to help people.

Well, if the charges are proven true at trial, he’s certainly helping motivate some renters and business owners to find new locations. And as a bonus, he’s probably going to save or create any number of jobs as workers attempt to clean up, repair and replace the badly damaged real estate.

Way to keep up that positive public image, folks!

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In Mississippi, voters to decide whether fertilized egg is a person

Next Tuesday, voters in Mississippi will vote on a measure that, if passed, will become the first law of its kind in the country. Pro-life activists, frustrated by the slow incremental pace of legislative change on the issue of abortion, have sought a way to circumvent Roe v. Wade – and think they might have hit on it with a state amendment that essentially says life begins at fertilization — earlier even than conception — and explicitly designates a fertilized egg as a human person, entitled to all accompanying rights (first and foremost of which is the right to life!).

If approved, the nation’s first “personhood” amendment could criminalize abortion and limit in-vitro fertilization and some forms of birth control. It also would give a jolt of energy to a national movement that views mainstream antiabortion activists as timid and complacent.

“They’ve just taken an incremental approach,” said Les Riley, the founder of Personhood Mississippi and a self-described tractor salesman and father of 10 who initiated the state’s effort. “We’re just going to the heart of the matter, which is: Is this a person or not? God says it is, and science has confirmed it.”

Mississippi is not the first state to attempt such legislation. An effort to pass a similar ballot initiative recently failed in Colorado. Currently, efforts to define an embryo as a person are underway in about a dozen states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia and Ohio, according to The Washington Post.

Not surprisingly, Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union are actively opposing the initiative in Mississippi, combating pro-life information distribution efforts pamphlet by pamphlet. More surprisingly, some doctors have described the measure as “dangerous,” suggesting it might make it difficult for obstetricians and gynecologists to act in the best interest of a patient in the cases of molar or ectopic pregnancies. Most surprisingly, some pro-life groups also have concerns about the amendment. Eagle Forum, for example, has suggested its vague language might actually “enable more mischief from judges.” Others — including Mississippi Democratic pro-life gubernatorial candidate Johnny DuPree — just fret about the implications for birth control, in vitro fertilization and extreme cases. For example, would a pregnant mother with cancer not be able to take chemotherapy if it threatened the life of her baby?

The measure does reveal the close links among the issues of birth control, in vitro fertilization and abortion — links doubtless even many pro-life advocates would rather not examine. But the question of personhood — not only when it accrues to a living being, but also what it is (that is, how human beings differ from animals) – is an important one to hash out, for it is key to consistent positions on all these issues, just as it is key to the question of whether abortion should be permissible in “exceptional cases” like rape, incest and situations that threaten the life of the mother.

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Is it now Gingrich’s turn? Update: Video added

While Mitt Romney has remained a constant in polling for the Republican presidential nomination at around 25-28%, inconstancy has been the constant among his opponents.  Michele Bachmann became the first to ride a wave to Romney’s relative polling position, only to fade when Rick Perry entered the race.  Now Perry has faded after a series of awful debate performances and Herman Cain has taken his place for the last six weeks.  If Cain can’t maintain his momentum, who will be the next Not-Romney?  Byron York reports from Iowa that it may well be Newt Gingrich:

For days, there’s been talk of a Newt Gingrich boomlet in the Republican presidential race here in Iowa.  After Friday night’s Reagan Dinner at Hy-Vee Hall in downtown Des Moines, that Gingrich boomlet talk might turn into talk of a Gingrich boom.

Five candidates — Gingrich, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, and Ron Paul — addressed a crowd of about 1,000 GOP faithful at the state Republican party’s biggest fundraiser of the year.  In brief interviews after the dinner — the only question was which speaker did the best job — audience members were unanimous: Gingrich, Gingrich, Gingrich.

“It was Newt,” said Chad Kleppe of Waukee, Iowa.  “I think he’s the smartest one in the field.”

“Gingrich knocked it out of the park,” said Earlene Nordstrom of Fort Dodge, Iowa.

Byron talked to twelve people at the event, and all twelve scored it a knockout for Gingrich.  Neither Romney or Cain made an appearance at the Reagan Dinner.  Romney sent his son, who confessed that he had no idea where his father chose to be rather than the Iowa GOP’s big fundraiser.  York also wondered why Cain, who said this week that he must win Iowa and is conducting a money bomb specifically for that purpose this week, chose to stay in Washington DC rather than try to keep momentum with an appearance.   Both are attending AFP’s Defending the American Dream conference, and Cain has been a regular on AFP’s circuit, and presumably committed to that event long in advance of his sudden rise in the presidential polls.

Why is Newt poised to catch fire?  York credits Newt with a counterintuitive strategy, at least for the former Speaker and his public reputation: he is on a charm offensive.  No, really:

Gingrich won the night in large part by doing one simple thing: He lavished praise on his fellow candidates.  Perry has been “my mentor on the 10th Amendment,” Gingrich said.  Bachmann deserves credit for efforts to stop the Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill.  Rick Santorum has worked to “rouse America to understand the challenge of radical Islam.” Ron Paul has been “consistently correct” about a sound dollar.  Gingrich did not offer praise for the two frontrunners, Herman Cain and Mitt Romney, who skipped tonight’s dinner.  But had they attended, Gingrich said, “I would have said nice things about them, too.”

“I am here with very fine competitors, but no opponents,” Gingrich concluded.  “We only have one opponent, and that’s Barrack [sic] Obama.”

Gingrich has figured out that voters in this primary want to be inspired, rather than choosing which candidate to despise least.  Herman Cain has campaigned the same way, and his optimism and vision has been a key to his ascent to the top tier.  If that seems odd considering Gingrich’s well-earned reputation as an infighter, it’s another indication that Gingrich is a master at politics and campaigning.  He has another advantage that some of his opponents — excuse me, competitors — do not in this regard.  Unlike Tim Pawlenty, Cain, Romney, and everyone else currently or formerly in this race, Gingrich has earned his reputation for hard-nosed battles inside the Beltway.  He can afford to be gracious now, but no one thinks for a moment that Gingrich would insist on a rainbows-and-flowers campaign in a general election.

Gingrich’s polling has begun moving upward in the last couple of weeks.  Who would have guessed in May that Gingrich would have the second-highest positive intensity score in the field in November, tied with Romney behind Cain?  Plus, even though Cain was the immediate beneficiary of Perry’s debate performances, the lesson may well redound to Gingrich’s benefit in the longer run:

“He is so good,” said Becky Ervin of Urbandale.  “I want to see a debate between him and Obama.”

We’ll see more of that tonight in Gingrich’s Lincoln-Douglas style debate in Texas with Cain.  If Republicans want a proven substantive fighter who can out-debate Barack Obama, they may come to Newt Gingrich — even if it’s just by default.

Update: The Right Scoop gives us the video of the speech itself, and it’s just as York described:

I was trying to come up with a word to describe Gingrich’s approach in this primary, and I think the right word is “statesmanlike.” That doesn’t mean he’s the best person for the job, but it’s hard not to take him seriously for the job, either.

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Justice drops proposed rule that would have allowed FOIA lies

So much for institutionalized lying billed as “transparency”:

The Department of Justice has canceled a controversial planned revision to Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) rules that opponents said would have allowed federal agencies to lie about the existence of records.

In a letter to Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley on Thursday, the DOJ wrote that the proposed rule “falls short” of its commitment to transparency, and it “will not include that provision when the Department issues final regulations.”

As part of larger revision of FOIA practices, the proposed rule would have allowed federal agencies to deny the existence of records when applying an exclusion, even if the records did exist.

As the PJ Tatler says, this is good news … presuming that they’re not lying about the not lying.

Even with this reversal, this episode should be kept in mind, especially when Obama inevitably claims to have run the most transparent administration in history.  The FOIA process forces government to be transparent and open, which is the reason Congress enacted it in the first place.  In an administration that has its fingers in Solyndra, Fast & Furious, and other scandals, we need the Department of Justice to be more forthcoming, not less — especially on its own Fast & Furious documents.  Enshrining the ability to lie into the rules is not what Americans expect out of a government that is expected to operate under the rule of law, rather than the rule of whim and because-I-said-so.

The only aspect of this proposal that was transparent was its absurdity.  The DoJ’s retreat now doesn’t make the previous two efforts to push it any less absurd.

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