The Golden Weiner

From Weiner Facts

In the Weiner report about Glenn Beck and Goldline, Weiner fires up his Congressional research machine and sources…a message board?

“According to customer complaints, that can be found on consumer complaint boards
such as ‘Rip-off Reports’”

Here at WeinerFacts.com we don’t lower ourselves to sourcing message boards. We’ll stick with the Better Business Bureau, and even the New York Times:

“The Better Business Bureau, which has given Goldline an A+ rating, said Tuesday that it was standing by that. A representative of the bureau said it had recently re-reviewed Goldline in response to Mr. Weiner’s accusations and saw no reason for a change. “It’s a company with not that many complaints,” said Gary Almond, from the bureau. When compared with other companies that sell gold, “there was a remarkable difference in how each one addressed complaints,” noting that some of those other companies had F ratings.”

Girl Outs Mother’s Citizenship Status During First Lady’s School Visit

By MATTHEW STABLEY

A second-grader may have unwittingly blown the whistle on her mother’s citizenship status during Michelle Obama’s visit to a Silver Spring, Md., school — and right in front of Mexico’s first lady.

Margarita Zavala joined Mrs. Obama for a visit to New Hampshire Estates Elementary School Wednesday.

During a question-and-answer session, one girl took her immigration concerns to the top, telling Mrs. Obama that her mom says that “Barack Obama is taking everybody away that doesn’t have papers.”

The first lady replied that they have to make sure people living in the United States have the proper citizenship papers.

“That’s exactly right,” Mrs. Obama added.

“But my mom doesn’t have papers,” the worried girl said.

“Well, we have to work on that,” Obama said. “We have to fix that and everybody’s got to work together in Congress to make sure that happens.”

For her mother’s sake, we hope the girl was talking about the Washington Post.

The first ladies also participated in gym class, hopping and skipping with students and even joining them in the parachute game, the Associated Press reported. They preached the importance of healthy living for both body and mind, and they were there for the free lunch program, helping students pass bowls of broccoli around the cafeteria.

New Hampshire Estates Elementary won the USDA’s Healthier U.S. School Challenge Silver Award in 2009 for teaching healthy living. The school serves more than 400 pre-kindergarten, Head Start, and first- and second-grade students — including many from countries in Central America and South America — and is involved in a program designed to protect and restore butterfly habitats across North America, the AP reported. Mrs. Zavala gave students she met butterfly books from the Mexican state of Michoacan.

‘Everybody Draw Mohammed’ Day Unleashes Facebook Fracas/05/20/10: The Beginning…..

By Joshua Rhett Miller- FOXNews.com

What started out as a cartoonist’s call to action against censorship — an open invitation to submit caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad — has led to death threats, a court order to temporarily block parts of the website in Pakistan and a call for a boycott of Facebook to protest what Muslims believe is blasphemy.

“Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!” began last month as the brainchild of a Seattle-based cartoonist named Molly Norris, who was appalled by Comedy Central’s decision to censor an episode of “South Park” that depicted Muhammad in a bear costume.

As a way to protest the network’s decision — which came after an Islamic extremist website warned of retaliation against the show’s creators, Matt Stone and Trey Parker — Norris created a poster with likenesses of Muhammad as a domino, a teacup and a box of pasta.

She declared May 20 “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!” — and her efforts quickly went viral, spawning several Facebook pages with thousands of followers dedicated to the event.

They also prompted a “protest” movement by thousands of other Facebook users opposed to it.

Now the day is almost upon us, and Norris herself has withdrawn from the cause — but she says she’s glad her efforts encouraged others to speak out.

“I just thought that Viacom or Comedy Central had overreacted to a veiled threat from a tiny blog or website that not many people even belong to, and I think it just set a precedent for a slippery slope in censorship,” Norris told FoxNews.com.

“If artists have to be afraid of what they draw, then what’s the point of even living here? That’s what really bothered me.”

She insists she “never wanted to lead anything,” but she acknowledges her brainchild ignited a controversy.

“It’s turned into something completely different, nothing I could’ve imagined it morphing into,” she said. “I’m happy some people are talking, because obviously this needs to be addressed.”

As of Wednesday, more than 41,000 Facebook users associated themselves to one page dedicated to the event, and a similar page was “liked” by at least 4,400 users. More than 56,000 users, meanwhile, joined a Facebook page opposing it.

Mimi Sulpovar created her “Everybody Draw Mohammad” Facebook page on April 22 to protest what she calls the “manifestation of gradual silencing and subjugation” of free speech rights in the name of political correctness.

“I and members of my group feel that we, as citizens of the free world, should be able to discuss Islam openly and honestly — even if it means drawing Muhammad, being very critical of some of the elements of that religion and/or culture,” she wrote FoxNews.com in an e-mail.

“Our group does not advocate violence or hatred toward Muslims as people — instead, we talk openly about Islamic practices and, of course, terrorism.”

As administrator of the page, Sulpovar said she moderates users’ comments and removes any references to violence or bigotry in their posts. She said she and others in the group have received death threats, but she has no plans to stop anytime soon.

“Our goal is to demonstrate that it’s OK to talk about Islam specifically, and that if we want to draw Muhammad, we will not be intimidated or silenced by those who want to subjugate us simply because they find what we do offensive,” Sulpovar wrote.

She said she’s received about 200 depictions of Muhammad, and more than 300 caricatures have been uploaded to her page. She said she plans on continuing the campaign well after this week.

“Free speech and the rights guaranteed by the Constitution are not limited to just one day — so as far as we are concerned, every day should be ‘Draw Muhammad Day,'” she wrote.

But they won’t be celebrating in Pakistan, where a court on Wednesday ordered the government to block Facebook pages associated with the campaign until May 31. Muslims consider any depiction of the Prophet Muhammad to be blasphemous, and it is a crime punishable by death.

“The court also has ordered the foreign ministry to investigate why such a competition is being held,” Azhar Siddique, a representative of the Islamic Lawyers Forum who filed a petition in the Lahore High Court, told Reuters.

Organizers of the Facebook page protesting the drawing campaign are calling for users to boycott the social networking site on Thursday — and beyond — for the company’s inaction against the “Everybody Draw Mohammad” pages. Some say the campaign is nothing more than a way to incite Muslims.

“Now a days it has became a fashion for the west to irk muslims,” one post read. “We never scolded jesus for ur misdeeds. That shows the difference of character.”

A Facebook spokesman told FoxNews.com it has no plans to censor any of the pages associated with the campaign or the counter-campaign, though threats will be removed.

“Threats of violence and direct statements of hate against particular communities violate our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and are removed when reported to us,” reads a company statement to FoxNews.com. “Facebook is highly self-regulating, and users can and do report content that they find questionable or offensive. Groups that express an opinion on a state, institution, or set of beliefs — even if that opinion is outrageous or offensive to some — do not by themselves violate our policies. When a group created to express an opinion devolves into threats or hate speech, we will remove the threatening or hateful comments and may even remove the group itself.”

The statement continued: “With now more than 400 million people around the world with varying opinions and ideals using Facebook as a place to discuss and share things that are important to them, we sometimes find people discussing and posting about controversial topics.”

Matthew Quigley, a member of the “Everybody Draw Mohammad Day” group, said he joined the cause after Comedy Central censored “South Park,” which happened after a message on RevolutionMuslim.com warned that the cartoon’s creators “will probably end up” like Theo van Gogh, a Dutch filmmaker who was murdered after releasing a film critical of Islam.

“It is a line drawn in the sand,” Quigley wrote FoxNews.com. “On one side are those who are unwilling to allow the threat of violence to blunt the edge of Free Speech. It is a vocal and organized and headless movement to deny extremism the power of control.”

Quigley, who has already uploaded his depiction of Muhammad, said he’s pleased to see the solidarity behind the cause.

“My depiction featured Muhammad staring blankly at what I imagine were the open expanses on the road between Medina and Mecca,” Quigley wrote.

“Above him, in Arabic script are the words that all Muslims speak after saying his name: Sallallahu Alayhi Wasalam (“May God’s Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him”). Below, in Arabic, is the phrase, ‘I Love Hummus.’ I think we can all connect more with a man if he likes our favorite food.”

Facebook blocked in Pakistan over Prophet Mohammed cartoon row

The court in Lahore ordered Facebook to be blocked until May 31 ? after the date of the contest ? when a longer hearing is expected. Photo: AP

A Pakistani court has blocked Facebook amid a growing row over a competition on the social networking website to design cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

By Rob Crilly in Islamabad

Plans for the “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” contest drew an angry reaction, provoking street demonstrations in the Muslim majority country.

On Wednesday, Lahore High Court responded to a petition by the Muslim Lawyers Movement, ordering Pakistan’s internet regulator to block the entire site.

Users lost access to Facebook about two hours later.

Rai Bashir, a lawyer involved in the case, said the site was blasphemous.

“There are so many insults to the Prophet on the internet and that’s why we felt we had to bring this case,” he said.

“All Muslims in Pakistan and the world will be supporting us.”

It is widely considered offensive to visually depict the Muslim prophet. The Koran does not explicitly forbid images of Mohammed, but a number of hadith, or interpretations of the Islamic holy book, forbid figural representations.

The court in Lahore ordered Facebook to be blocked until May 31 – after the date of the contest – when a longer hearing is expected.

The contest was based on an idea by Seattle-based artist Molly Norris, who posted a cartoon on her website of a chair, cotton reel, cherry and other items each claiming to be Mohammed.

However, she said her idea was only ever a spoof. It was meant as a protest against censorship of the television show South Park, she said. The US cartoon recently featured the Muslim prophet dressed in a bear suit.

She added that she was horrified that her satire had been turned into a Facebook competition.

It is not the first time Pakistanis have reacted angrily to depictions of the Prophet Mohammed.

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets in 2006 when cartoons, which had originally been published in a Danish newspaper, were reprinted around the world.

Five people died when the demonstrations turned violent.

Lawyers for the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority had argued that only the offending page be removed, but Justice Ijaz Ahmad Chaudhry ordered the whole social networking site to be barred on Wednesday.

Don’t ask, don’t care

No more turning a blind eye toward evildoers among us

By Ted Nugent

The nonstop news orgy, in its never-ending scramble to figure out why the Times Square bomber would want to hurt innocent Americans, is laughable. That’s like getting a headache trying to determine the causation of Jeffrey Dahmer’s demonic predisposition to drug, rape, torture, murder and eat the remains of his homosexual victims.

Uncle Ted News Alert: He was a sick, deranged, subhuman criminal, that’s why. Case closed.

Does anybody really care why evil people do evil things? There have always been evil, rotten maniacs among us, and we should probably be prepared for more evil, rotten maniacs among us. It is a well-established human flaw going all the way back to cave-jackers and spear-runners. Bad guys are not a new phenomena. Old news.

Don’t get over it, get rid of it.

The real question isn’t why these monsters do what they do. Rather, it is how the rest of us can learn from our historic mistake of ignoring the glut of overt warning signs that come from these devils, and why – over and over again and again – we fail to make intelligent counter-moves, either before tragedy strikes, or at the very least, to stop them after their first few violations.

Recidivism isn’t simply the result of the perpetrator’s choice as much as it is the result of a society too stupid and disconnected from our responsibilities to be vigilant and act decisively to protect the innocent by stopping these evildoers. The only reason repeat offenders repeat is because we let them.

Uncle Ted News Alert: Stop them.

So many catastrophic failures throughout history – from ignoring warnings from radar operators at Pearl Harbor, to watching the jihadists motoring up to the USS Cole, to eliminating the sharing of critical interagency intelligence prior to Sept. 11, to the coyotes repeatedly attacking children at Griffith Park in Los Angeles – are a direct result of a combination of politically-correct tolerance and good old-fashioned blindness. Both open doors to tragedies waiting to happen.

Close the damn door.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t live on a flood plain or in Tornado Alley. My addiction to pragmatism and my powerful instinct to survive keeps getting in the way.

Liberals seem to be consumed with the desperate need to try to answer the question why. Their predictable excuse-mongering and efforts to uncover the troubled youth of evil people – as if discovering a series of events that brought psychological suffering can somehow shortstop tragedy – is futile at best. Show me one human being who doesn’t know that child abuse and drug abuse are likely to bring about complications in life. Even the abusers will admit that they knew better. But we cannot monitor the private lives of everybody and intervening after the fact is too late.

The name of the game is for society to make a stand on behalf of the good guys by sending a consistent, loud message and warning that criminal and dangerous behavior will simply not be tolerated. We should show clearly that the consequences are swift, painful and certain.

When neighbors, teachers, authority figures – and even cops – are afraid of being sued for interfering in the misbehavior of another’s child, this hands-off disconnect has its consequences, and they are never very pretty. A brief look into the recent murder of the college lacrosse player is another tragic example of turning a blind eye to a long life of violent, dangerous behavior by the alleged killer. How many more documented warning signs do we need?

A new era of dramatically upgraded awareness and involvement in our neighborhoods, the workplace, school and everyday lives is desperately needed across America. With the war on terror, increased countryman-on-countryman violence and criminality on the upsurge, Americans need to turn up their societal radar a few notches and rid ourselves of the deadly “don’t get involved” mentality.

We have all seen the tragic outcome of the suicidal anti-snitch mentality in our inner cities, literally placing allegiance to murderers and rapists above the citizen’s responsibility of life-saving whistle-blowing. Those who fail to turn in a criminal are complicit in that criminal’s next crime, and there is blood on your hands.

Some people just don’t know better. Those of us who do must turn up the heat and be the eyes and ears and whistle-blowers for law and order. We the people can actually save lives, and when we refuse to get involved, we are part of the problem, not the solution.

Pay attention. Get involved. Demand action. Trample the weak. Hurdle the dead.

Ted Nugent is an unstoppable American rock ‘n’ roll, sporting and political-activist icon. He is author of “Ted, White & Blue: The Nugent Manifesto” and “God, Guns & Rock ‘N’ Roll” (Regnery Publishing).

Global Cooling Is Coming — and Beware the Big Chill, Scientist Warns

The Statue of Liberty, depicted as frozen solid in the movie The Day After Tomorrow. New research from a leading geologist indicates a coming period of "global cooling" may be dangerous.

By Gene J. Koprowski

Contrary to the commonly held scientific conclusion that the Earth is getting warmer, a scientist who has written more than 150 peer-reviewed papers
has unveiled evidence for his prediction that global cooling is coming soon.

The hottest new trend in climate change may be global cooling, some researchers say.

Contrary to the commonly held scientific conclusion that the Earth is getting warmer, Dr. Don Easterbrook, emeritus professor of geology at Western Washington University and author of more than 150 peer-reviewed papers, has unveiled evidence for his prediction that global cooling is coming soon.

“Rather than global warming at a rate of 1 F per decade, records of past natural cycles indicate there may be global cooling for the first few decades of the 21st century to about 2030,” said Easterbrook, speaking on a scientific panel discussion with other climatologists. This, he says, will likely be followed by “global warming from about 2030 to 2060,” which will then be followed by another cooling spell from 2060 to 2090.

Easterbrook spoke before a group of about 700 scientists and government officials at the fourth International Conference on Climate Change. The conference is presented annually in Chicago by the Heartland Institute, a conservative nonprofit think tank that actively questions the theory of man’s role in global warming. Last year the Institute published Climate Change Reconsidered, a comprehensive reply to the United Nations’ latest report on climate change.

“Global warming is over — at least for a few decades,” Easterbrook told conference attendees. “However, the bad news is that global cooling is even more harmful to humans than global warming, and a cause for even greater concern.

Easterbrook made several stunning claims about the effects of the coming cold. There will be twice as many people killed by extreme cold than by extreme heat, he predicted, and global food production will suffer because of the shorter, cooler growing seasons and bad weather during harvest seasons.

But not everyone is breaking out the overcoat and mittens.

“It’s absurd to talk of global cooling when global heating is with us now and accelerating,” said Dan Miller, managing director of the Roda Group, and an expert on climate change. “According to NASA, this past April was the hottest since temperature measurements began. And 2010 is on track to be the hottest year since temperature records began.

“North America was relatively cool last year, but the Earth as a whole was much warmer than average,” he said.

Data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) also points to a warming trend. The agency recently reported that global land and ocean surface temperatures for the first four months of 2010 were the warmest it had on record.

Easterbrook, one of 75 climate and policy experts presenting at the conference, uncovered sudden climate fluctuations of warming and cooling — all of which occurred before 1945, when carbon dioxide levels began to rise sharply — through geologic evidence.

Ten big climate changes occurred over the past 15,000 years, and another 60 smaller changes occurred in the past 5,000 years.

Based on new analysis of ice cores from Greenland to Antarctica, Easterbrook said global temperatures rose and fell from 9 to 15 degrees in a century or less — swings that he said were “astonishing.”

In addition, he explained that energy consumption will rise — and consumer prices will rise along with it — and political and social instability could result as the world population grows 50 percent in the next 40 years while food and energy demand soars.

Another presenter at the conference, James M. Taylor, an environmental policy expert and a fellow at the Heartland Institute, said that global cooling is already happening. Based on figures provided by the Rutgers University Global Snow Lab, he noted that snow records from the last 10 years exceeded the records set in the 1960s and 1970s.

A sign of global cooling? This past “decade set a record for largest average global snow extent,” Taylor said.

Surprise! Mexico’s President Blasts Arizona Immigration Law During White House Visit

President Obama stands with Mexican President Felipe Calderon during the playing of the American National Anthem, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, May 19, 2010. President Calderon will be attending a state dinner at the White House with President Obama later in the evening (AP).

FOXNews.com

Mexican President Felipe Calderon seized the opportunity to blast Arizona’s controversial immigration law on Wednesday after President Obama welcomed him to the White House.

Arizona’s law, which takes effect in July, will call for state and local police to determine if people are in the country illegally.

At the start of Wednesday’s state visit to Washington, Calderon said the law discriminated against Mexicans and called for the two countries to work together to develop an immigration policy that did not force people to live in the shadows “with such laws as the Arizona law, which is forcing our people to face discrimination.”

Calderon, whose remarks were translated from Spanish, said “We can do so if we create a safer border — a border that will unite us instead of dividing us.

“We can do so with a community that will promote a dignified life in an orderly way for both our countries, who are some of them still living here in the shadows,” he said. “If we are divided we cannot overcome these problems. We can only do this if we actually face our mutual problems.”

Sprinkling in a bit of Spanish, Obama went to great lengths to greet Calderon, who is fighting an escalating, bloody battle against drug cartels in his country and facing pressure to get results on immigration reform. Around the White House grounds, Mexican and U.S. flags waved together, while cheering school children and military in their finest dress uniforms gathered on the South Lawn to embrace the pageantry.

“I say to you and to the Mexican people: Let us stand together,” Obama said in a South Lawn ceremony heralding the start of Calderon’s visit.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Arizona dares L.A. to carry out boycott

By Stephen Dinan

The spat over Arizona’s new immigration expanded Tuesday as a state official dared the city of Los Angeles to follow through on its new boycott by agreeing to give up the 25 percent of electricity that city gets from Arizona sources.

In a letter to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Arizona Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce said a boycott war is bad for both sides, and said he would “be happy to encourage Arizona utilities to renegotiate your power agreements” to end the electricity flowing to Los Angeles.

“I am confident that Arizona’s utilities would be happy to take those electrons off your hands,” Mr. Pierce said. “If, however, you find that the City Council lacks the strength of its convictions to turn off the lights in Los Angeles and boycott Arizona power, please reconsider the wisdom of attempting to harm Arizona’s economy.”

Los Angeles’s city council voted overwhelmingly last week to adopt a boycott of Arizona businesses — at least in instances where the boycott wouldn’t impose a significant economic cost to the city.

Arizona’s law requires police to ask for proof of legal residence from anyone they have reasonable suspicion is not in the country legally. In most cases a driver’s is sufficient to comply, and the law prohibits using race or ethnicity as a reason for suspicion, but critics say they expect the measure to spark racial profiling nonetheless.

Civil rights and Hispanic groups have sued to try to block the law, and the Obama administration is reviewing the legislation to see if it violates civil rights laws.

The law goes into effect in July, but already a number of municipalities have condemned or announced boycotts of Arizona. Mr. Villaraigosa said his city’s boycott was intended to hurt the Arizona economy.

Mr. Pierce, the Arizona official, said in his letter to Mr. Villaraigosa that this was the wrong way to go.

“I received your message; please receive mine,” he said.

A message left with the Mr. Villaraigosa’s office was not immediately returned.

But Mr. Villaraigosa offered his own tongue-in-cheek challenge to Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon this week in a bet over the NBA playoff series between the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns.

Mr. Villaraigosa said if Phoenix wins, Los Angeles will have to accept Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a fierce opponent of illegal immigration. If the Lakers win, Mr. Villaraigosa said Phoenix will have to accept Steve Poizner and Meg Whitman, two Republicans battling for the GOP’s gubernatorial nomination in California, where illegal immigration is a major issue.

Judgement Day

Rep. Joseph Sestak, helped by leftist activists, toppled longtime Sen. Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania’s Democratic Senate primary on Tuesday.

The arch-liberal congressman won by a 53% to 47% margin over five-term Sen. Specter in the senator’s first reelection bid since he switched parties last year. One month earlier, a Susquehanna Poll showed Specter defeating Sestak by a margin of 42% to 28% among likely Democratic voters.

Much like the 2006 primary defeat of centrist Sen. Joe Lieberman (D.-Conn.) at the hands of anti-war Democrat Ned Lamont, the triumph of Sestak (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 0%) over Specter (lifetime ACU rating: 43%) was largely the work of leftist activists who are becoming increasingly powerful within the Democratic Party.

Like Connecticut’s Lamont, Sestak (a retired U.S. Navy vice admiral who opposed U.S. action in Iraq) benefited from the nationwide fund-raising machine of the antiwar Moveon.org. Specter, like Lieberman, had voted for the U.S. going into Iraq.

But where Lieberman had only upset the Democratic left over a few other issues, Specter had a long history of siding with Republican Presidents. Sestak hit that hard during the campaign. Helped by a $1.5 million television broadside in the last month of the race, the challenger denounced Specter for voting for the Bush tax cuts and for Supreme Court nominees John Roberts and Samuel Alito. (After President Obama nominated Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court earlier this month, Sestak supporters gleefully pounced on the fact that Specter had voted last year against her nomination as U.S. solicitor general.)

Sestak also slammed Specter for taking different positions on organized labor’s cherished “card-check” legislation (which would severely weaken the secret ballot in union elections) in recent years.

In the twilight days of the campaign, one much-discussed Sestak TV attack featured Specter with Sarah Palin during the ’08 campaign, being hailed by George W. Bush in ’04, and explaining to reporters that he changed to the Democratic Party “to be re-elected.”

Traditional Democratic powers were all solidly behind the newly minted Democrat Specter (who had made an earlier change from Democrat to Republican in 1965 to run successfully for district attorney of Philadelphia). His backers ranged from the President and Vice President, the major labor unions, Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell, the city Democratic organization and much of the black clergy in Philadelphia. But they weren’t enough to stop Sestak or the political powerhouse of the far left.

When I was in Philadelphia and Harrisburg April 15-17, the consensus opinion among pundits and pols was that Republican-turned-Democratic Specter would probably win the Democratic primary on May 18th. But virtually everyone I spoke to said this with qualification, warning that challenger and two-term Rep. Sestak should not be taken likely.

“Joe is one tough customer and should never be written off,” said Philadelphia “superlawyer” James Baumbach, who has managed campaigns for both Democrats and Republicans in the Keystone State. “He could play very rough in the next month.”

Now the stage is set this fall for a classical ideological shootout, with the leftist Sestak squaring off against Republican nominee Pat Toomey, stalwart conservative and former congressman (who had narrowly lost in the Republican primary to Specter six years ago). Toomey, who has raised more money than any non-incumbent Senate candidate in the nation (more than $8 million), told me last month he was prepared to face either Sestak or Specter.

“They’re not all going to agree with me, but I’ll tell you, they’re going to know exactly where I stand,” Sestak told a pre-election meeting in Johnstown, Pa. Now Keystone State voters will have the opportunity to see a race of contrasts between Sestak and Toomey, with both of them sure to let all know exactly where they stand and differ.

“Son of Paul” Stands Tall in Kentucky

Like three Republican House primaries in Illinois earlier this year and the recent GOP nomination battle that denied renomination to Utah Sen. Robert Bennett, the race for nomination to succeed retiring Sen. Jim Bunning in Kentucky was a clash between the “ins” and the “outs” in the Republican Party.

Last night, the “outs” won, as ophthalmologist and first-time candidate Rand Paul demolished the favorite of the “ins”—Secretary of State Trey Grayson. Paul, son of Texas Rep. Ron Paul, rolled up 57% of the vote.

Paul’s victory was all the more impressive as many of his supporters among libertarians and independents could not cast votes for him if they had not registered as Republicans by December 31. Clearly aware of this, sources in the Bluegrass State told me the Grayson team made a concerted effort to turn out voters in areas that were traditional Republican strongholds, such as the district of 30-year Rep. Hal Rogers.

But it wasn’t enough to stop Dr. Paul, whose campaign was fueled by eager volunteers from the state’s large “Tea Party” movement and his father’s mighty nationwide fund-raising machine. Paul also had the early backing of Sen. Jim DeMint (R.-S.C.) and his Senate Conservatives Fund political action committee.

Both candidates agreed on most issues, but Paul put a stronger emphasis on repealing the Obama-backed healthcare bill and opposing government bailouts of industry and the stimulus package. Grayson, while also taking a conservative line on these issues, put greater emphasis on state matters.

Underscoring Grayson’s credentials as the “establishment” candidate was his support from former Vice President Dick Cheney, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R.-Ky.).

“On my side, I’m viewed as this proxy for McConnell,” Grayson told the New York Times on the weekend before the voting, “If I win or lose, it’s a big victory or loss for him. I think that’s an exaggeration.” (McConnell actually endorsed Grayson before Bunning announced his retirement last year, leading the angry Baseball Hall of Famer to strongly come out for Paul).

Exaggeration or not, Paul has won and, in a state that went for John McCain by a margin of 57% to 43% for Barack Obama two years ago, is the strong favorite over Democratic nominee and State Attorney General Jack Conway.

A Footnote: When I interviewed Rand Paul earlier this year, I asked him if there was any issue in which he disagreed with his famous father. Without hesitation, he replied: “He never accepts payment from patients through Medicare and, because a lot more of my practice depends on Medicare patients, I do.” Also, contrary to a widespread rumor, the younger Paul is not named for the legendary author and libertarian heroine Ayn Rand but carries a family name. That information came to me from Lew Moore, campaign manager for the elder Paul’s 2008 presidential bid.

Murtha seat won by Democrat

In terms of national politics, the most- watched race on “Little Super Tuesday” last night was the special election to fill the seat of the late Rep. John Murtha. (D.-Pa.).

Murtha’s longtime top aide Mark Critz narrowly kept the Western-Pennsylvania-based 12th District in Democratic hands, edging out Republican Tim Burns, a businessman and first-time candidate, with about 52% of the vote, with only a few ballots still to be counted.

Obviously the results were a disappointment to Republicans nationwide. Coming less than four months after Republican Scott Brown’s dramatic special election win in the Massachusetts Senate race, a Burns capture of the seat Murtha had held for 36 years would have provided major momentum to the GOP in the midterm elections this fall.

But is the Critz win a mandate for the Obama agenda and a sign Democrats are on the political rebound? Although Democratic publicists and administration spokesmen are likely to claim just that, a look at how Critz campaigned renders that conclusion ridiculous.

For weeks after area Democrats named him as their nominee, Critz ducked questions as to how he would have voted on the healthcare measure that passed the House, finally saying he would have voted against it. Critz also campaigned as an abortion opponent and strong supporter of the right to keep and bear arms.

On the day before the voting, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told me he didn’t know if the President was “directly aware” of these three conservative positions taken by fellow Democrat Critz, but added “I’ve certainly seen those reports [of Critz’s stances] sure.” (President Obama himself never campaigned for Critz).

But these positions did not deter either the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee or major labor unions from bombarding the 12th District on Critz’s behalf.

As Politico reported days before the voting, “The AFL-CIO, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and Service Employees International Union are all on TV airwaves in the district and dropping mail pieces into union homes. Furthermore, officials from the state AFL-CIO are visiting workplaces throughout the district to urge support for Critz.”

Although Pennsylvania-12 is the lone House district of all 435 to go from backing John Kerry for President in ’04 to John McCain in ’08, it remains 2-to-1 Democratic in terms of registered voters.

For its part, the DCCC raised an issue in the closing weeks of the campaign that may re-emerge in other races with conservatives such as Burns who are close to the “Tea Party” movement: the fair tax, a national sales (or consumption) tax that many conservatives want in place of the income tax.

DCCC-run TV spots attacked Burns for supporting the fair tax, charging that the Republican hopeful supported higher taxes on groceries, gas and medicine. The ad cited an interview Burns gave last year in which he said he “would love to ultimately see the fair tax implemented.”

“Foul!” GOP campaigners charged, pointing out that in the same interview Burns said that a fair tax “straight out of the gate” was out of the question because “any discussion like the fair tax would have to be part of a debate on creating an entirely new tax code.”

Four days before the voting, former Rep. Phil English (R.-Pa.) told me, “I get the sense PA-12 is slipping away from the Republicans because of that fair tax attack.” Over protests from the Burns campaign that his words were being taken out of context, the DCCC “fair tax” ad was pulled over the weekend. But clearly, it had done its damage and is sure to re-emerge in other House races this fall.

As Critz was elected to fill out the remainder of John Murtha’s term last night, he and Tim Burns also won nomination to be their parties’ respective nominees for the full term this November. So stay tuned: the last chapter in PA-12 has yet to be written.

Lincoln On the Ropes

It wasn’t a good night for Sen. Blanche Lambert Lincoln (D.-Ark). While the two-term senator topped the Democratic primary, she nonetheless must face a run-off battle June 8 with her leading opponent, arch-liberal Lit. Gov. Bill Halter.

With most of the votes tallied, Lincoln was in a near tie with Halter (about 43% of the vote each) with the rest going to conservative Democrat D.C. Morrison. Lincoln becomes the first Arkansas senator to be forced into a run-off since Sen. John L. McClellan in 1972.

What made last night’s primary especially intriguing was the performance of the third candidate who forced the run-off. Little Rock businessman Morrison campaigned as an outright conservative, calling for repeal of the Obama-backed healthcare bill, the estate tax, and the federal income tax (to be replaced by a consumption tax). Where Morrison’s votes will fall in a run-off between two liberal Democrats will be a key question as the run-off approaches.

The top vote-getter in the seven-candidate GOP Senate primary was Rep. John Boozman who was poised to win an outright majority of the vote and avoid a runoff. Numerous polls have shown Boozman defeating either Lincoln or Halter in a state that has been trending more Republican.

Like Connecticut in ’06 and Pennsylvania this year, the Arkansas Senate primary is a study in a Democrat being liberal on most things but just not liberal enough to assuage the party’s increasingly left-wing (and very active) grass-roots.

While generally voting the liberal line (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 19%), Lincoln made some significant shifts on key issues in the last year. An original sponsor of organized labor’s cherished Employee Free Choice Act (which includes the “card-check” measure to gut the secret ballot in union elections), the Razorback State senator later came out against the legislation. Last year, she threatened to filibuster any healthcare bill in the Senate that included a public option (although, after weeks of holding out, Lincoln joined all fellow Senate Democrats in voting for the healthcare measure in December). She also opposed the “cap-and-trade” climate legislation.

Because of those positions and her support for a tax-funded bailout of Wall Street during the financial crisis in ’08, Lincoln faced vigorous opposition from the Service Employees International Union (which blitzed the state with more than $1 million in anti-Lincoln spots) and other unions. Steve Rosenthal, former political director of the AFL-CIO, mobilized anti-Lincoln voters on the ground.

Such support made Halter competitive, despite Lincoln’s spending advantage (her $3.1 million to his $558,147) and endorsements from Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Halter blasted the incumbent as “Bailout Blanche” and said he would have never voted to bailout Wall Street. He said he would have voted for the public option in a healthcare bill and supported “a woman’s right to choose.” For all the furor sparked by Lincoln’s change on “card check,” union favorite Halter would not take a position because, as he told the Washington Post, “it is no longer being discussed.” (He did say he favors a compromise that includes imposing sanctions on those who try to inhibit ‘democratic elections,’” reported the Post).

John Gizzi is Political Editor of HUMAN EVENTS.

Bangkok Burns After Protest Leaders Surrender

May 19: Smoke rises from burning fires in downtown Bangkok, Thailand, following the surrender of anti-government leaders to the police.

Associated Press

BANGKOK — Downtown Bangkok turned into a flaming battleground Wednesday as an army assault toppled an anti-government group’s leadership, enraging followers who fired grenades and set numerous fires that cloaked the skyline in black smoke.

Using live ammunition, troops dispersed thousands of Red Shirt protesters who had been camped in the capital’s premier shopping and residential district for weeks. Four protesters and an Italian news photographer were killed in the ensuing gunbattles and about 60 wounded.

After Red Shirt leaders gave themselves up to police, rioters set fires at the Stock Exchange, several banks, the headquarters of the Metropolitan Electricity Authority, the Central World, one of Asia’s biggest shopping malls, and a cinema that burned to ground. There were reports of looting.

Thick smoke drifted across the sky of this city of 10 million people. Firefighters retreated after protesters shot guns at them.

The chaos in Bangkok in the wake of the two-month protest will deepen the severe impact dealt to the economy and tourism industry of Thailand, a key U.S. ally and long considered one of the more stable countries in Southeast Asia. The Red Shirts had demanded the ouster of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s government, the dissolution of Parliament and new elections.

The government declared an 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew in Bangkok, and said army operations would continue through the night.

“Tonight is going to be another worrisome night,” government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said.

It also imposed a partial media blackout on local TV stations, saying all of them will have to air government-prepared bulletins.

“They might be able to show their regular news programs. But we are concerned about their live broadcasts from the scenes,” Panitan said. “There will be more (government) programs … to be shown simultaneously by all stations,” he said.

Protesters turned their rage on the local media, which they have accused of pro-government coverage. They attacked the offices of state-run Channel 3, setting fire to cars outside and puncturing water pipes that flooded the building.

“At Channel 3 need urgent help from police, soldiers!!!” tweeted news anchor Patcharasri Benjamasa. “News cars were smashed and they are about to invade the building.”

Hours later its building was on fire. Its executives were evacuated by helicopter and police rescued other staff. The English-language Bangkok Post newspaper evacuated its staff after threats from the Red Shirts. A large office building down the street from the Post was set afire.

Unrest also spread to the rural northeast of the country, where Red Shirts, who claim Abhisit’s government is elitist and oblivious to their plight, retain strong support.

Local media reported protesters set fire to government offices in the city of Udon Thani and vandalized a city hall in Khon Kaen. Udon Thani’s governor asked the military to intervene. TV images also showed troops retreating after being attacked by mobs in Ubon Ratchathani.

Cabinet minister Satit Vongnongteay described the chaos as anticipated “aftershocks.”

“There are violent-prone protesters who remain angry,” Satit told a news conference.

At least 44 people have been killed, most of them civilians, in a week of violence in Bangkok as a military attempt to blockade the protesters — who had camped in the 1-square-mile (3-square-kilometer) Rajprasong district for six weeks — instead touched off street fighting, with soldiers firing on protesters who fought back mostly with homemade weapons.

The final crackdown began soon after dawn Wednesday, as hundreds of troops armed with M-16s converged on the Red Shirt base in Rajprasong, where high-end malls and hotels have been shuttered by the prolonged protest.

Armored vehicles crashed through barricades of piled tires and bamboo stakes, then soldiers gradually moved toward the protesters’ hub, opening fire and drawing return fire from militant Red Shirts, Associated Press journalists saw.

Bullets flew overhead and several grenades exploded near the soldiers, forcing them to pull back and take cover briefly before pushing forward. A Canadian freelance reporter was injured by grenade shrapnel. Two other journalists were wounded earlier, one Dutch man and an American documentary filmmaker. An Italian photographer was killed.

With no hope of resisting the military’s advance, seven top Red Shirt leaders turned themselves in on Wednesday afternoon, saying they cannot see their supporters — women and children among them — being killed anymore.

“Brothers and sisters, I’m sorry I cannot see you off the way I welcomed you all when you arrived here. But please be assured that our hearts will always be with you,” Nattawut Saikua, a key leader, said as he was being arrested.

“Please return home,” he said.

By mid-afternoon, the army announced it had gained control of the protest zone and the operations had ended — nine hours after troops launched the pre-dawn assault.

“Police officers and soldiers have now stopped their operation,” army spokesman Col. Sansern Kawekamnerd said.