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Friday, March 8, 2013
Bill's Mugs
Filibuster envy
"It's been fascinating to see the reaction to Senator Rand Paul's filibuster of the John Brennan nomination. With a principled and persuasive argument against the use of drones on American soil, he drew support from people across the political spectrum. But of course not everybody was happy; the usual snarksters on MSNBC bared their fangs, calling Paul's stance weird and crazy. But what's surprising is that two GOP senators - John McCain and Lindsey Graham - launched their own drone strikes against Rand Paul. They have the right to disagree, but why didn't either of them have the moxie to debate their colleague face-to-face on the Senate floor? Were they jealous that a junior Senator dominated the headlines and managed to galvanize left and right? Are they worried that they are becoming increasingly irrelevant? Or do they really favor giving unlimited power to the President to order targeted killings? If anyone is on the fringe here, it's McCain and Graham. Both men made a big mistake with their drive-by hits on Rand Paul."
A huge embarrassment for the State Department
Laura moved to the State Department's aborted plan to honor an Egyptian activist named Samira Ibrahim, who has expressed virulently anti-American and anti-Jewish views. Mark Hannah, a former campaign advisor to Secretary of State John Kerry, elaborated on the controversy. "There's no doubt that Ms. Ibrahim is an effective activist and a pro-democracy proponent in Egypt," he stated, "but in that part of the world you can be pro-democracy and still hold very reprehensible views. Once this evidence came to light, the State Department did the right thing." But Laura accused government officials of negligence and incomptence: "The State Department just finished with the Benghazi, which was not handled right. And this is a smaller issue, but at least do a Google search!"
A group claims anti-government "Patriot" groups are on the rise; The Factor investigates
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which has a knack for finding "hate groups" under every rock, has accused some "patriot groups" of fomenting hate. Laura explored that claim with Bob Dane, whose organization opposes illegal immigration. "The Southern Poverty Law Center," he said, "masquerades as a civil rights group but is really a far-left political attack machine. They would label a ham and cheese sandwich as an extremist threat if it helped their fund-raising. This is a well-funded operation that acts as judge and jury and bars anyone who disagrees with them politically from the public process." Former FBI agent Bob Hamer agreed that the SPLC unfairly smears legitimate organizations. "I've seen real hatred in my 26 years as an FBI agent, I've seen NAMBLA and the Aryan Brotherhood. Some of the groups mentioned by the SPLC are not 'hate groups,' they are just passionate about defending their positions, which are legal." Laura concluded that the SPLC is afraid to actually argue on the merits, saying, "They do not want to debate the issues, they want to shut down your funding and run you out of business."
Should Americans be bracing for a stock market crash?
With major stock markets in the U.S. at an all-time high and unemployment down to 7.7%, Laura asked Fox Business anchor Lou Dobbs for his macroeconomic analysis. "The labor participation rate is at an all time low," Dobbs warned, "and we saw 300,000 more people leave the labor force. But there has been some real job creation in construction and services and that looks like confirmation of a real recovery that we ought to hail. It's a time to be in the stock market - earnings continue to grow and corporate America is in pretty good shape, so finding good companies doing good business is a way to make money." Laura contended that Friday's dip in unemployment is masking some serious underlying problems: "There is still stagnating income, people don't feel like they have the purchasing power they had five years ago, and they have enormous anxiety about the future."
Critics on the left blasting an NYC anti-teen pregnancy campaign
New York City has an ad campaign designed to discourage single parenthood, especially among teens. Laura welcomed Alexandra Brodsky and Gloria Malone, both of whom oppose the campaign. "I had my daughter at 15," Malone began, "and these ads make me feel stigmatized and ashamed. I've had other teen mothers contact me and say these ads make them feel like they should just give up, New York City is telling them that their child isn't going to graduate from high school." Brodsky denounced the campaign as insulting and counterproductive. "These ads are condescending, they treat young mothers as if they can't tell the difference between a doll and a baby. It's also really bad policy because it's discouraging teen moms from getting the services they need. Whether we like it or not, teens are having sex." Laura suggested that discouraging teen pregnancy is a valuable message: "We have all kinds of public service announcements about drinking and smoking and texting while driving because they're bad for society. But you're saying we can't talk to people frankly about the effects of promiscuity on young women."
Why is the Obama Administration trying Osama bin Laden's son-in-law, a terror suspect, in the U.S.?
Al Qadea spokesman Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, who married one of Osama bin Laden's daughters, has been charged with conspiracy to kill Americans. Laura debated the wisdom of trying him in a criminal court with Republican strategist Chip Saltsman and Democratic strategist Tara Dowdell. "We should be celebrating the fact that this guy was captured by our government," Dowdell declared. "And we've been trying terrorists in civilian courts for three decades, so I find it fascinating that everyone is acting like this is the first time this has ever happened." But Saltsman asserted that terrorists like Ghaith do not deserve a criminal trial. "This is a very bad person who plotted to kill Americans and he's very close to Osama bin Laden. When you catch these very bad guys they should go directly to Gitmo. If they want to give him a blindfold and a cigarette when he gets there, I'm fine with that, as are a lot of Americans."
NY Giants coach Tom Coughlin enters the No Spin Zone
Laura introduced Bill's interview with NFL coach Tom Coughlin, who has led the New York Giants to two Super Bowl championships. "When you're at the college level you feel like you can make an impact on young people," Coughlin said, "but the pro game is a little different. The players are very individualistic and they've been influenced by their family and their agents, so it's a lot about money. So you're constantly struggling for them to leave those issues behind and focus on winning. And when you get a good person, he wants to be the best he can be and he wants to be coached." Bill pointed out that NFL players know their careers are likely to be short-lived: "The injury rate is high and these guys know that they have to make the money now."
Ex-FBI agent missing in Iran
Former FBI agent Bob Levinson vanished six years ago when he went to the Iranian island of Kish. Laura spoke with Levinson's daughter, Sarah Moriarty, who believes her father is being held by Iran's government. "He is an American hostage," Moriarty claimed, "and it will never be enough until he's home. He had been retired from the FBI for ten years and he was investigating cigarette smuggling for his own firm. The last time he was seen was March 9th, 2007 when he signed into the hotel, and the Iranian government won't even publicly admit that he was ever in Iran. We just want him home." Laura expressed hope that the State Department is working behind-the-scenes to obtain Levinson's release: "I'm sure there is not a day that goes by that your heart doesn't ache for him, yet very few people know about this case."
Weekend reading
Take a look at the Wall Street Journal editorial "Obama's Not-So-Grand Offer," which buttresses Bill's contention that President Obama has offered little in the way of specific budget cuts.
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