Saturday, November 20, 2010

The GOP's lame-duck hardball WASHINGTON POST David S. Broder

Washington began last week to come to grips with the new order of things, a regime in which Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell holds as much sway as the president of the United States.

With the additional leverage that six more Republican senators and a new Republican majority in the House has given him, McConnell is challenging President Obama's agenda for the lame-duck session of Congress and signaling that he is prepared to keep up the fight right into the 2012 election.

Whether it is tax rates or nuclear arms, Republicans are being assertive about their views and challenging Democrats to step up to the fight. Not one sign has appeared so far of any willingness to compromise.

On the face of things, Democrats hold the high ground rhetorically. When it comes to taxes, Obama is calling for extending the Bush cuts for every family making below $250,000 a year, which he says will take care of 98 percent of the population. Only Republicans are holding out for the millionaires to be included.

But if McConnell and his partners are embarrassed by their roles, they certainly don't show it. Instead, they are playing chicken with the White House, in effect daring Obama to let rates rise for everyone on Jan. 1, whatever the risk to the fragile economic recovery.

Despite the good news that General Motors, which needed rescue in 2009 from impending bankruptcy, has recovered enough to become a star on Wall Street, the broader economy as this Christmas season opens is still barely limping along. It makes no sense even to be talking about a broad tax increase. Yet that is what could result from the partisan warfare in Washington.

The international counterpart of this fight is the debate over ratification of the New START treaty with Russia on control of nuclear weapons. A central goal of American foreign policy under both Republican and Democratic administrations has been securing our ability to monitor and limit Russian missile development.

Intrusive examination of Russian facilities ended with the expiration last December of the START treaty negotiated by President George W. Bush. A follow-on agreement, reducing the number of missiles on both sides and guaranteeing the inspections will continue, was negotiated and signed by Obama and the Russians this year.

Obama has urged publicly and privately that the Senate ratify the treaty in the lame-duck session, rather than letting the unmonitored period extend into some point next year, when the new Senate may or may not get around to it.

At a White House event last week, his call for action was endorsed by former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and James A. Baker III and by former national security adviser Brent Scowcroft.

But those three, representing the Republican foreign policy establishment of the past two administrations, are being countermanded by Jon Kyl, the senator from Arizona who is No. 2 to McConnell in the Senate.

McConnell has made it clear that he backs his partner in delaying the treaty, forcing Obama to seek at least nine Republican votes despite the opposition of the GOP leadership.

It is notable that McConnell bases his opposition on the claim that the Senate schedule does not allow sufficient time for debate on the treaty. That is normally a judgment that would be made by the majority leader, Harry Reid, who backs the president in calling for action by the lame-duck session.

It is typical of these Republicans to usurp that role, even if they did not reach their goal of claiming a Senate majority in the midterm elections.

All this signals that they are feeling their oats and will be hard to deal with.

The Weekly Standard goes negative on Palin

The Weekly Standard goes negative on Palin -- "R U Lovin' Sarah's Alaska?

From governor to TV star," by Matt Labash: "On [TLC's] 'Sarah Palin's Alaska,' shortly after she does a shot with Bill O'Reilly from the television studio that she's had built into her house, Palin confides to the reality-show camera, in a rare moment of genuine self-reflection, 'You know, having every word, every action scrutinized and in some cases mocked, I can handle it, you know. I kind of have asked for it, right?' ...

In fact, when surveying the two-year output of her books and tweetings and Facebook updates and speeches and television spots and reality-show utterances, where every minute issue of the day is remarked upon, every slight noticed, every petty retribution repaid, it's hard to imagine she still has any thoughts that remain unexpressed.

But that's what going rogue is all about. Letting it fly. Following your gut. Which has made Sarah Palin wealthy, and intensely discussed, and now has secured her a spot in the Reality TV Star pantheon. And good for Palin if she's happy following her gut.
Though there's no compelling reason to suggest the rest of us should tag along behind."

Two teenage girls love triangle deadly ending

It's the familiar tale of a love triangle but with
contemporary complications: Two teenage girls, each
jealous of the other's relationship with the same boy,
lash out at one another through cell phones and the
Internet -- a feud that, though largely played out in
cyberspace, love triangle One of the girls, Sarah Ludemann, grew up in a
working class neighborhood in Pinellas Park, Fla. She
was considered a late bloomer when it came to boys,
until, when at age 17, she walked into a Chick Filet
restaurant where Josh Camacho worked.

"He poked his head out the back 'cause he was
working in the back and he just kind of winked at h
er," Ludemann's friend, Amber Lee Ayala, said. "She
wanted to know him."

Camacho paid attention to Ludemann and called her
pretty, but pictures on her cell phone showed
Camacho had a dangerous, edgy side: He could be
seen flexing his muscles, waving a gun and boasting
his name tattooed across his back.

From the get-go, Ludemann's parents weren't

"There was always something about him that kept you
thinking, was he good, was he bad?" said her mother,
Gay Ludemann.

It turns out they had reason to worry. Camacho was
dating another girl, Rachel Wade, at the same time.

At 19, Wade, who also grew up Pinellas Park, was
more independent than Sarah. She had a job, her own
apartment and more experience with boys. But she,
too, friends said, was attracted to Camacho for his
"bad boy" ways.

Click here to see photos of Sarah Ludemann and
Rachel Wade.

Camacho kept his two girlfriends in the dark about
each other as the family and friends of both girls
began to see them change -- they were acting and
dressing differently. Camacho insisted they wear long
pants, despite Florida's oppressive heat, to keep other
guys from looking at their legs. He even told the girls
which friends they could be with and when.

"I would see her, and she didn't look like Sarah. She
didn't dress like Sarah," said Danielle Eyermann,
another friend of Ludemann's. "Even parts of her
didn't act like Sarah anymore."

Ludemann's parents grew even more concerned when
they noticed bruises on their daughter. They said she t
old them the marks just came from "play fighting."

Wade's friend Lindsey Atticks said Wade told her that
Camacho had threatened her with a gun.

"He held the gun out and said, 'You will never leave
me, you will never leave me,'" Atticks said.

'My Man, Not Yours'

"If he said something to Rachel, that's what she had to
do," said Stephanie Pilver, another friend of Wade's.
"He is very controlling, and I think to a point she felt
like maybe that's what she deserved. ? Maybe she
should be with him because maybe he is doing that to
her, and it's her fault that he is treating her like that."

advertisement Teenage Love Triangle Turns Deadly
Cyberspace Feud Between Two Girls Culminates in Lethal Confrontation
It didn't take long before Wade and Ludemann found
out about each other. Camacho brushed it off, calling
them "friends with benefits."

Both girls' friends urged them to end their
relationships with Camacho, but they didn't listen.
Ludemann lost 30 pounds and was losing herself in
Camacho, friends said.

"She couldn't help it. She wasn't willing to let him go,"
Ayala said.

The tipping point came when Ludemann posted a
picture on the social networking site MySpace. It was
of herself and Camacho on a trip to New York. Wade
was devastated.

It was "obviously to make sure Rachel saw them,"
Atticks said. "[Sarah Ludemann] messaged her and
said, "Oh, how do you like my new pictures? That's
with my man, not yours."

Angry and dejected, Wade used MySpace to lash out
at Camacho.

"I deserve so much better," she wrote on her page.

But the message prompted a taunting post from
Ludemann, who wrote, "You think you can find

Enraged, Wade dialed Ludemann's cell phone, leaving
an angry, profanity-laced message. Listen to the
voicemail here.

The taunting went back and forth for months on
MySpace, text messages and voice mail. The
technology made it all too easy to lash out, but it also
made it worse.

It was Ludemann who first took the feud offline and
started to harass Wade at work. Pilver said Ludemann
and her friends would visit the restaurant Wade
worked at so they could trip her while she was
carrying beer or complain that she spit in their food.

Camacho seemed to enjoy the two women vying for
his affection. He even encouraged them to go to battle
for him.

"Josh would say, Well, if you want to be with me, then
you'll fight with her for me," Atticks said.

On April 14, 2009, the wheels for a face-off were set
in motion. Camacho sent a text message to Wade,
asking to see her that night. But soon after, he sent
another message, canceling the get-together. Wade
suspected Ludemann was the reason.

The Fight

Wade "called me and she was bawling," Atticks said.
"She told me, 'I think Josh is with Sarah. I am so upset.
He ditched me again for her."

Shortly after dark, according to Wade's friends,
Ludemann pulled up outside Wade's apartment,
honked the horn and drove off.

In fear, Wade called an ex-boyfriend, Javier Laboy,
who invited her to seek refuge at his home.

As Wade hurried out of her apartment, she paused in
the kitchen for a moment and made a fateful decision:
She grabbed a steak knife.

"She was afraid that they were gonna, you know, show
up (again) and ... she had no way to defend herself,"
Laboy said.

On the way to Laboy's, witnesses said Wade took a
detour to spy on Camacho. And from her car, she
allegedly sent a text to Camacho, saying, "Now I know
why you're not talking to me because you have her."

Camacho texted back, 'That's right. I don't like you no

Wade left to find comfort at Laboy's house. Ludemann,
on a tip, found out where Wade was, and decided to
confront her face to face. She raced off in her minivan
toward Laboy's.

"We hear a car screeching around the corner. If she
would've gone any faster she would've tipped that
van," Laboy said. "By the time we realized what was
going on, Sarah had already jumped out of the car,
grabbed Rachel's hair. She was punching. Rachel's
arms were flying everywhere."
After seconds, Wade and Ludemann separated.
Ludemann, bleeding from a gaping wound, staggered
back toward her minivan and collapsed. Wade calmly
walked back toward Laboy's house, tossing the knife
onto a neighbor's roof.

Wade had "such a blank look on her face," Laboy said.
"It didn't look like she was there with us."

When police arrived, Ludemann was lying on the
ground with barely a pulse. When her parents and
Camacho arrived at the scene, she was surrounded by

Her father, Charlie Ludemann, confronted Wade,
whom he said he saw sitting at the scene, smoking a

"I said, Rachel, why -- you stupid bitch, you couldn't
fight with your hands. And Sarah's layin' there in a
puddle of blood," he said.

Wade, he said, didn't answer.

The doctors struggled to save Sarah Ludemann, but
her wound was too massive. At 2:29 a.m., the
teenager was pronounced dead.

On Trial for Murder

Ludemann's parents went to see their daughter as
doctors worked to revive her, but Camacho, they said,
stayed in the waiting room.

"I said to Josh, "I gotta go see Sarah. You ought to
come," Charlie Ludemann said. "[He said] 'No, I can't
see her like that.' And I told him, 'You're the reason
she's like that.' And then I left."

Camacho was banned from the funeral.

Police arrested Rachel Wade for the murder of
Ludemann soon after her death. This past July, at age
20, Wade went on trial.

Camacho was among 12 witnesses to testify. He
conceded that Ludemann and Wade had fought over
him but said little else otherwise.

"There was this young ? petite man that would come
into court wearing a coat and tie, but he certainly was
somebody who wanted to be tough, wanted to be the
puppet master and tell these girls what to do and how
to do it," said Wade's defense attorney, Jay Hebert.

Wade was the last to testify. The teenager told the
court that she was just trying to defend herself.

Prosecutors weren't buying it: They played a
threatening voice mail message that Wade had left for
Ludemann. Wade said, "Now your ass is mine, and I
am guaranteeing you I am going to f--king murder
you. I am letting you know that now ... you're a
f**king fat bitch, and I am going to f**king kill you, I
swear on my life."

Wade told the court that Ludemann had also
threatened her.

"Nobody really ever approaches people anymore and
just talks to them," Wade said.

"So everybody goes out there and takes a knife and
stabs people in the heart," prosecutor Lisset Hanewicz
replied. "That is what happens?"

The jury needed only 2½ hours to reach a verdict.
They found Wade guilty of second degree murder.
She was later sentenced to 27 years in prison, where
she remains today.

Wade told "20/20" that she now talks to Ludemann,
asking for her forgiveness.

"I wish that we could have sat down and talked," she
said, "and that I wish that, you know, both of us could
have been smart enough to just walk away and to
realize we deserve better."

Watch the full interview with Rachel Wade on
"20/20" Friday at 10 p.m. ET


The Biggest Leaks From Palin's Book THE SIMPLE PEOPE WILL BUY ANYTHING!

A racially charged swipe at Michelle Obama plus attacks on Levi Johnston, Eric Holder, and Idol contestants—Shushannah Walshe previews the juiciest points of Sarah Palin’s America by Heart.

It's still days until Sarah Palin's new book, America by Heart: Reflections on Faith, Family and Flag hits store shelves this Tuesday, but leaked pages are popping up all over the media and only adding to the coming frenzy that is sure to accompany the political superstar's book tour, which launches in Phoenix.

Palin's last book, Going Rogue, was a massive bestseller with sales of 1 million copies in the first two weeks alone.
This book is set to be an instant hit as well, with Palin describing it on her Facebook page as "a collection of essays and reflections about our exceptional country.
It discusses the ideals we must pass on to the next generation to ensure that we remain, in the words of Reagan, 'the shining city on a hill,' and in the words of Lincoln, 'the last best hope of Earth.'"

In Going Rogue, Palin famously lashed out at her McCain advisers, raising eyebrows by mentioning Steve Schmidt's "rotund physique" and calling a former campaign adviser and legislative director in Alaska, "a BlackBerry games addict who couldn't seem to keep the lunch off his tie."

Although the publisher HarperCollins describes America by Heart as ranging "widely over American history, culture, and current affairs, and reflects on the key values—both national and spiritual—that have been such a profound part of Governor Palin's life and continue to inform her vision of America's future," she does still seem to relish in attacks on Levi Johnston and even goes after American Idol contestants, Michelle Obama, and Eric Holder.

In portions leaked on Gawker, The Washington Post's Reliable Source, and the anti-Palin website Palingates, we got the first taste of Palin's new book.

“What Bristol and I both went through hasn’t changed my pro-life view, but it has changed my perspective.”

The harshest hit in what's available publicly is saved for the Obamas and could foreshadow a talking point if she runs in 2012.

"The second reason the charge of racism is leveled at patriotic Americans so often is that the people making the charge actually believe it. They think America—at least America as it currently exists—is a fundamentally unjust and unequal country. Barack Obama seems to believe this, too.

Certainly his wife expressed this view when she said during the 2008 campaign that she had never felt proud of her country until her husband started winning elections. In retrospect, I guess this shouldn't surprise us, since both of them spent almost two decades in the pews of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright's church listening to his rants against America and white people."

It's important to note that in the 2008 campaign, John McCain forbade anyone on his campaign from mentioning Wright because he feared he would be called a racist. Palin fought against this mandate from above, feeling strongly that it was a legitimate line of attack and repeatedly went to aides pushing to be able to go after Obama on the Wright issue. If she runs in 2012, this is undoubtedly one issue she will push hard.

In the next line, Palin goes after Eric Holder:

"It also makes sense, then, that the man President Obama made his attorney general, Eric Holder, would call us a 'nation of cowards' for failing to come to grips with what he described as the persistence of racism."

Here are some other interesting portions:

As Palin has done previously she goes after Levi Johnston, father of grandson Tripp:

"Because the new father wasn't there until the end of Bristol's labor, I helped deliver Tripp."

And of Levi's Hollywood pursuits, Palin is sympathetic to the former fiancé of Bristol:

"Of course, we all had to bite our tongues—more than once—as Tripp's father went on a media tour through Hollywood and New York, spreading untruths and exaggerated rhetoric. It was disgusting to watch as his 15 minutes of fame were exploited by supposed adults taking advantage of a lost kid. But we knew him well enough to see how confused he was during that time, and our hearts broke for him and the price he would pay."

The former Alaska governor known for her competitive spirit reveals she gave up chocolate for a year to prove she could do it:

"I believe this feeling of accomplishment is what everyone is created to crave."

She brings up her oft-mentioned motto about Alaska subsistence, which is on display in her new TLC show Sarah Palin's Alaska, "I eat therefore I hunt"

"I often explain that the meat we eat is wrapped in fur instead of the cellophane that customers purchase in grocery stores."

Palin has a moment of reflection during the media firestorm surrounding Levi's more outrageous comments and the coverage of her family.

"Let's just go back to Wasilla and stop feeding the media beast," she writes. "Let's give ourselves and our family a break."

Palin dedicates the book to her 2-year old son, Trig, who has Down syndrome. In the excerpts, she repeats the pro-life language she uses in speeches. She also writes that she enjoys the "submersive moral messages" in the movies Juno, Knocked Up, and The Forty-Year-Old Virgin.

"What Bristol and I both went through hasn't changed my pro-life view, but it has changed my perspective. I understand much better why a woman might be tempted to take what seems like the easy way out and change the circumstances. I understand what goes through her mind, even if for a brief moment, a split second, because I've been there."

Palin took to her Twitter account Thursday evening to question the legality of websites posting pages from the book, "The publishing world is LEAKING out-of-context excerpts of my book w/out my permission? Isn't that illegal?"