Huckabee Gives Clue to 2012 Bid

Sunday, 23 Jan 2011 12:24 PM

By Specil From Newsmax's Most Informed Sources

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Huckabee Book Tour Points to 2012 Run
2. State Budgets: The Worst Is Yet to Come
3. Report Refutes ‘Tear Gas Death’ of Palestinian
4. Rep. David Wu Loses Staffers After ‘Bizarre Behavior’
5. Piracy Hits Record High in 2010
6. We Heard: Linda McMahon, Ron Paul
 

1. Huckabee Book Tour Points to 2012 Run

Political observers doubt it’s a coincidence that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is kicking off his upcoming book tour in Iowa — the first state to hold presidential caucuses.

Rather, Huckabee’s itinerary for his book “A Simple Government,” due Feb. 22, is a strong indication that the 2008 White House contender is gearing up for another run for the Republican presidential nomination.

Huckabee launches his tour in Davenport, Iowa, on Feb. 27, then hits five more cities in the state, according to CNN. After stops in several other Midwestern states, Huckabee moves on to South Carolina, the third state on the Republican primary calendar, where he is planning visits to five cities.

That means Huckabee will be spending more than a quarter of his 40-city tour in two states that play a major role in determining who the Republican presidential nominee will be in 2012.

“The schedule indicates that he clearly wants to remain part of the 2012 discussion,” Politico observes.

Huckabee, who now hosts a TV show on Fox News, enjoys a strong grass-roots following in Iowa and South Carolina dating back to 2007. He entered the last presidential race as a long shot but finished first in the Iowa caucuses and a strong second in the South Carolina primary.

And he has performed strongly in a series of recent polls.

“What can I say? The American people are extremely smart,” Huckabee said tongue-in-cheek during a Thursday interview with Fox News. “I’ve always said it. That proves it.”

“A Simple Government: Twelve Things We Really Need from Washington (and a Trillion That We Don’t!)” features prescriptions for what Huckabee believes would be a simpler, more common-sense federal government, and covers topics ranging from national defense to immigration.

“How well the book sells,” Politico notes, “could be the most important factor influencing whether or not Huckabee runs.”

Editor's Note:



2. State Budgets: The Worst Is Yet to Come

To close more than $400 billion in budget shortfalls, states have resorted largely to spending cuts, tax increases, and borrowing over the past four years.

But as governors and state legislatures prepare to write their budgets for fiscal 2012, they are “bracing themselves for what is likely to be the hardest year yet in what already has been the most difficult budget period in modern history,” according to Stateline, the news service of the Pew Center on the States.

State revenues have been up recently, but they dropped so deeply in 2008 and 2009 that it could take years for states to return to pre-recession levels. Also, the federal stimulus program, which helped states narrow budget gaps, is expiring just as healthcare costs are rising.

The dire prospects for 2012 are compelling state leaders to contemplate moves that “were once considered unthinkable,” Stateline reported.

• Maryland faces a budget shortfall of as much as $1.6 billion and may cut education spending and lay off government workers for the first time.

• New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to take the politically unpopular step of scaling back his state’s Medicaid program.

• South Carolina will stop paying for hospice care for the poor.

• California Gov. Jerry Brown is arguing for the broad-based tax increases that voters overwhelmingly rejected two years ago.

• Georgia may begin applying the sales tax to groceries, despite legislation passed 15 years ago repealing the grocery tax.

• In Oregon, officials are considering cuts to pension benefits for current and future public employees.

Overall state tax revenue has grown over three consecutive quarters and economists expect economic growth in 2011.

But Scott Pattison, executive director of the National Association of State Budget Officers, said the growth masks the reality that states are dealing with.

“You might have some ridiculously high-sounding revenue growth but that’s because the base is so low,” Pattison told Stateline.

“I’ve been telling a lot of people, ‘Compare the budget totals to pre-recession levels, because that’s a better measure. Don’t assume happy days are here again.’”

Editor's Note:



3. Report Refutes ‘Tear Gas Death’ of Palestinian

Following an anti-Israel demonstration on the West Bank on Dec. 31, Palestinian woman Jawaher Abu Rahmah died at a hospital and reports circulated that she had inhaled a fatal dose of tear gas fired by security forces to disperse the demonstrators.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the incident as a “new Israeli crime carried out by the occupation army against our helpless nation.”

Palestinians staged a massive memorial demonstration in the town of Bilin, where the earlier protest had taken place, and the Palestine Monitor website referred to Rahmah’s “martyrdom.”

But a new report from an Israel Defense Forces investigative committee asserts that Rahmah was in fact not present at the demonstration, and that she died at the hospital due to faulty medical care.

According to the IDF’s findings, based on hospital documents, doctors at the hospital in Ramallah believed that Rahmah, 36, was sickened by phosphorous fertilizer and nerve gas. Therefore they treated her with atropine and fluids, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.

The Israeli website Ynetnews stated: "Abu Rahmah felt ill after inhaling infinitesimal amounts of tear gas. The investigation revealed that the medical team hadn’t properly diagnosed her case, and thought that she needed to receive large amounts of atropine. After the event it was revealed that had she received a smaller dose, her life would have been saved.”

An IDF source said: “As we claimed to begin with, tear gas doesn’t kill. Our estimation was that she had a medical history and had received inappropriate medical care which led to the tragic circumstance and that is the state of things.

“It’s a pity that there were sources who took advantage of the incident in order to accuse the IDF without first examining the circumstances.”

Editor's Note:



4. Rep. David Wu Loses Staffers After ‘Bizarre Behavior’

Seven-term Democratic Congressman David Wu has lost at least six staff members and part of his political team since his re-election in November, following several incidents of bizarre behavior.

The tally includes the Oregon legislator’s longtime chief of staff, communications director, two members of his Portland office, a Washington staffer, and a legislative assistant.

He has also lost his chief fundraiser and chief pollster.

“It is highly unusual for successful campaigns to change teams after the election,” Michael Meehan, a veteran Democratic consultant, told The Oregonian newspaper.

The departures come amid questions about Wu’s actions during his re-election campaign.

On Oct. 27, Wu gave a speech blasting his opponent as a telemarketer, calling The Oregonian unfair, and branding the Republican gubernatorial candidate as stingy with tips. He also stated that he had quit drinking in July.

A Democratic precinct leader sent Wu a letter following the spectacle, saying “you sounded bitter and angry.” She also said in an interview that Wu “yelled a lot, which I didn’t think was necessary.”

Two days later, Wu used his influence as a congressman to gain access to a restricted area at Portland International Airport, where he campaigned for votes from passengers leaving a plane. He allegedly told a security officer, “Do me a favor, bend the rules.”

One passenger filed a complaint, and the officer had to undergo retraining for his lapse.

During the campaign Wu ran through three campaign directors, did not hold any public events in the days before the election, and did not surface until after 10 p.m. on Election Day, according to The Oregonian.

Wu has exhibited what The Hill newspaper termed “bizarre behavior” in the past. In a floor speech in 2007, he warned that there were “faux Klingons” in the White House, and during the Medicare prescription bill vote in 2003, he fell into a state described as “almost catatonic,” The Washington Post reported.

Erik Dorey, Wu’s new spokesman, called the airport incident “unfortunate” and said Wu “is always eager to greet and engage his constituents, but Congressman Wu sincerely regrets if his actions at PDX were at all inappropriate.”

Wu won a seventh term with 55 percent of the vote in November, his lowest winning percentage since his first election to Congress in 1998.

Editor's Note:



5. Piracy Hits Record High in 2010

Pirates increased their attacks on shipping for the fourth straight year in 2010, striking a record 445 ships, according to an annual report.

The Piracy Reporting Centre of the International Maritime Bureau disclosed that pirates seized a record 1,181 hostages last year and killed eight.

Attacks were up 10 percent over 2009, as were the number of hostages.

“These figures for the number of hostages and vessels taken are the highest we have ever seen,” said Captain Pottengal Mukundan, director of the Malaysia-based Piracy Reporting Centre, which has monitored piracy worldwide since 1991. “The continued increase in these numbers is alarming.”

“As a percentage of global incidents, piracy on the high seas has increased dramatically over armed robbery in territorial waters. On the high seas off Somalia, heavily armed pirates are overpowering ocean-going fishing or merchant vessels to use as a base for further attacks. They capture the crew and force them to sail to within attacking distance of other unsuspecting vessels.”

More than 90 percent of ship seizures occurred off the coast of Somalia, which has not had a functioning central government for nearly 20 years.

Violent attacks on ships have taken place in other areas, including off the coast of Nigeria, Indonesia, and Bangladesh. However, the number of attacks in the Gulf of Aden, between the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, has dropped sharply due to an international naval presence there.

“But with dozens of naval ships, including those from the United States, patrolling the Gulf, many pirates appear to have simply gone elsewhere, extending their reach hundreds of miles from shore into the Indian Ocean,” The New York Times reported.

The Piracy Reporting Centre estimates that so far this year, pirates have launched 39 attacks on shipping, with Somali pirates attacking 32 ships and taking 136 hostages.

On Friday, South Korean special forces freed the crew of a South Korean freighter hijacked a week earlier in the Arabian Sea, killing eight of the Somali pirates who seized the vessel.

The pirates were armed with heavy machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades.

South Korea began patrolling Somali waters in 2009.

Editor's Note:



6. We Heard. . .

THAT Connecticut Republican Linda McMahon, the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment who ran unsuccessfully for the Senate last year, says seeking Joe Lieberman’s Senate seat “remains an option.”

In a statement posted to her Facebook page, McMahon praised independent Democrat Lieberman, who announced on Wednesday that he will not seek re-election in 2012.

She also said: “While running for the U.S. Senate in 2012 remains an option for me, I will spend the next few months focusing on how I can best serve the people of Connecticut.”

THAT Republican Congressman and two-time presidential candidate Ron Paul says it has “certainly crossed my mind” to run for Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s Senate seat from Texas next year.

Hutchison has said she won’t seek re-election in 2012.

Rep. Paul’s remark came after a survey by Public Policy Polling found him leading all but one potential candidate — Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst — when Texas Republicans were asked who they want to see run for the seat in 2012, The Hill reported.

Paul’s son, Republican Rand Paul, was elected to the Senate from Kentucky in November.

Editor's Note:



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