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Will Obama Use 'Localism' to Crush Rush?

By    |   Sunday, 23 November 2008 05:32 PM

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Will Obama Use ‘Localism’ to Crush Rush?
2. Waxman Win Shows Democrats’ Left-wing Colors
3. Economic Meltdown Could Threaten Chinese Regime
4. Obama Faces ‘Strategic Dilemma’ on Economy
5. U.N. Watchdog Issues Troubling Report on Iran’s Nukes
6. Cokie Roberts: Palin Could Be the ‘White Oprah’
7. We Heard: Schwarzenegger, Michelle Obama

1. Will Obama Use ‘Localism’ to Crush Rush?

Barack Obama has said he won’t seek to reinstate the so-called Fairness Doctrine requiring broadcasters over the public airwaves to give equal time to opposing political views.

But he could instead mount a “far more dangerous” attack on free speech and conservative talk radio, a media watchdog discloses.

The tactic: Using a vague rule already on the books to threaten any radio station that airs conservative programs with the loss of it broadcast license, according to Jim Boulet, Jr., founder of the Web site KeepRushontheAir.com.

The Federal Communication Commission rule in question is called “localism,” which requires radio and TV stations to serve the interests of their local community — by covering local issues and providing an outlet for local voices — as a condition of keeping their licenses.

Writing on the American Thinker Web site, Boulet observes: “Obama needs only three votes from the five-member FCC to define localism in such a way that no radio station would dare air any syndicated conservative programming,” such as Rush Limbaugh’s top-rated show.

In September 2007, Obama submitted a statement supporting localism to an FCC hearing.

The head of his transition team is John Podesta, whose organization the Center for American Progress issued a report last year complaining that there is too much conservative talk on the radio because of “the absence of localism in American radio markets” and urging the FCC to “ensure greater local accountability over radio licensing.”

Podesta’s choice as head of the FCC’s transition team is Henry Rivera, whose law firm is also the former home of current FCC Chairman Kevin Martin — himself an advocate of more stringent localism requirements, Boulet points out.

He warns that a single complaint from anyone can hinder a station’s license renewal process or even lead to the loss of the license.

To protect free speech and conservative talk radio, “station owners need to become engaged in the localism issue and then take the time to educate their own congressman and senators about the dangers of the FCC’s proposals,” Boulet urges.

“If broadcasters get involved, it just may be possible to block implementation of any localism rules during the few months remaining of the Bush Administration.

“This delay is critical, since once it is the Obama administration leading the fight for rules which would shut down conservative talk radio, Republican congressmen and senators will find it easier to fight back.”

Editor's Note:

2. Waxman Win Shows Democrats’ Left-Wing Colors

Democrats’ surprising selection of liberal Rep. Henry Waxman of California as the new chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee signals that the new Congress will take a definite turn further to the left.

By a 137 to 122 vote on Thursday, the Democratic caucus voted to oust John Dingell of Michigan from a post he has held as chairman or ranking Democrat since 1981.

Some senior Democrats were stunned by Waxman’s victory, which violated the party’s long-held principle of seniority.

Seniority has “just been buried,” said Rep. Charles Rangel of New York, a Dingell supporter.

Moderate to conservative Democrats viewed the vote “as a rebuke by the caucus’ liberal wing, which has accused Dingell of not supporting global warming legislation,” the Washington Post observed.

The powerful committee has broad jurisdiction over a range of issues, from consumer protection and regulation of energy resources to global warming, conservation, telecommunications policy, health, and auto emissions.

Waxman, who represents Beverly Hills and parts of Los Angeles, told reporters after the vote: “Seniority is important, but it should not be a grant of property rights to be chairman for three decades or more.”

He also said, “I am very gratified by the trust put into me,” Reuters reported.

Dingell, a prominent supporter of his state’s auto industry, has clashed with junior committee members over efforts to impose fuel efficiency standards on vehicles.

Waxman argued that Dingell would be roadblock to legislation the Obama White House will want to push.

“This is a big deal since it rejects the sacred seniority system for chairmen,” a Washington insider told Newsmax.

“It also suggests far-left House Democrats are finished holding their fire like they did over the first two years of Democratic control.

“If they can do this, all kinds of nutty left-wing legislation is possible.”

“I heard one moderate Democrat say, ‘I guess we’re trying to help you guys [House Republicans] get out of the wilderness.”

Editor's Note:

3. Economic Meltdown Could Threaten Chinese Regime

After years of stupendous economic growth, China is suffering a downturn that has sparked widespread labor protests and could ultimately threaten the Chinese regime.

Some 10,000 factories have closed in the Pearl River Delta, a manufacturing center in southern China, and angry workers — many owed back pay — have taken to the streets in protest.

In one incident, around 300 suppliers and creditors attacked a factory whose owners had vanished, “looting warehouses in the hopes of salvaging something,” USA Today reported.

This unrest is likely to spread, according to China-watching writer Joshua Kurlantzick, and “could mean the breakdown of the entire political order.”

Writing in The New Republic, Kurlantzick observes: “For years, the Beijing regime has stayed in power using a basic bargain with its citizens — tolerate our authoritarian rule and we’ll make you rich. And for years, this seemed to work…

“But as the financial crisis shows, that bargain rests on weak foundations. And if Beijing breaks its end of the deal, its people, already holding rising numbers of protests, may well break theirs.”

As Newsmax reported, the Chinese government has announced a $586 billion economic stimulus package, seeking to boost its economy through a mix of spending, subsidies, looser credit policies and tax cuts. But the signs remain ominous, according to Kurlantzick:

  • Foreign orders for Chinese products are plummeting, and exports account for 40 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product — compared to 10 percent most years in the U.S.
  • In addition to the 10,000 factories already shuttered in the Pearl River Delta, another 20,000 are likely to close by next summer, and worker demonstrations — some of them violent — are spreading, Radio Free Asia disclosed.
  • In one main exporting city, Wenzhou, about 20 percent of the workforce has been idled, Reuters reported.
  • In the third quarter of 2008, China reported its fifth consecutive quarterly drop in growth, and a sharper slowdown is forecast for next year.
  • The Shanghai stock market has dropped from 6,000 points to just over 1,800 in the past year, dwarfing the downturn in U.S. stocks.
  • Chinese banks are said to be holding some $1 trillion in bad loans.
  • The value of homes — the only major asset held by many Chinese — has dropped more than 50 percent in some cities within the past year.

Kurlantzick concludes: “China has granted enough freedoms that average Chinese now demand wages, fair housing, and other rights. So, unless Beijing can get its economy going again, [China is] likely to face the first sustained wave of protests in decades,” and “its first serious threat to the regime.”

Ironically, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao recently said rich nations must abandon their "unsustainable lifestyle."

Editor's Note:

4. Obama Faces ‘Strategic Dilemma’ on Economy

Incoming President Barack Obama will be confronted with a “major strategic dilemma” as he tries to reconcile economic necessities with the new political landscape.

That’s the view of John J. Hamre, president of the Center for Strategic & International Studies, who observes in a memo sent to the CSIS Board of Trustees and others that the U.S. is in a recession that is likely to be long-lasting.

“The asset collapse here in frighteningly similar to what happened in Japan, which has now endured 15 years of recession,” Hamre states.

“Japan’s economy has grown only because of massive government deficit stimulus spending” and “everyone here argues that we need massive stimulus injections next year and maybe beyond.”

But it may be difficult to obtain Congressional approval for massive stimulus packages when, as expected, next year’s budget deficit surpasses $1 trillion, according to Hamre.

He notes that the next Congress will be composed of three minority parties — progressive Democrats, “blue dog” Democrats, and Republicans.

After eight years of increased federal spending and their loses on Election Day, Republicans now intend to recover their tradition of fiscal responsibility “to rebrand their image in the public arena,” Hamre said.

Progressive Democrats won’t hesitate to run up the deficit, according to Hamre. But blue dog Democrats, he believes, “are bound together by a shared commitment to balanced budgets, and may be nearly 30 percent of Democrats in the new House of Representatives.”

These Democrats could make common purpose with Republicans to form a working majority in the Congress.

So when Obama is sworn in on Jan. 20, “he faces “a major strategic dilemma,” Hamre adds — the “need to spend massive amounts of money to lift America out of a deep recession and a political landscape where a functional majority may choke on the idea.”

Editor's Note:

5. U.N. Watchdog Issues Troubling Report on Iran’s Nukes

The latest United Nations report on Iran’s nuclear program steps up concerns about its efforts to produce nuclear weapons.

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s Nov. 19 report to its Board of Governors discloses that Iran’s “heavy water production plant appears to be in operational condition.”

The agency said it made its determination from satellite imagery because no ground inspections have been allowed by the Iranians, according to Newsmax U.N. correspondent Stewart Stogel.

Heavy water contains a larger than normal proportion of deuterium, an isotope of hydrogen that, unlike ordinary hydrogen, contains a neutron in its nucleus. It is a key ingredient for nuclear weapons production.

Iran’s giant Bushehr nuclear power station, expected to go on line next year, uses light water, not heavy water.

It is not clear why Iran insists that it needs its own heavy water facility, other than for so-called “research” purposes, Stogel reports.

If Israel decides to attack Iran, the heavy water facility cited by the IAEA could be a target.

The IAEA report, forwarded to the U.N. Security Council, also stated that Iran has yet to provide access to locations related to the manufacturing of centrifuges, research and development on uranium enrichment, and uranium mining and milling.

The IAEA said: "Iran needs to provide the Agency with substantive information to support its statements and provide access to relevant documentation and individuals in this regard. Unless Iran provides such transparency ... the Agency will not be able to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran."

Editor's Note:

6. Cokie Roberts: Palin Could Be the ‘White Oprah’

Political reporter Cokie Roberts says Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin could be the “white Oprah” in the near future.

Roberts, who covered the presidential race for ABC News and National Public Radio, told a Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce meeting on Tuesday: “There’s more of Sarah Palin in our future,” adding: “The camera loves her.”

Roberts also said Palin feels “she was vastly disserved by the McCain campaign, and I agree with her,” the Boston Herald reported.

Following the defeat of John McCain on Nov. 4, there was much grumbling by his top aides that Palin caused his defeat.

But Palin blamed Bush administration policies for the loss.

Editor's Note:

7. We Heard . . . 

THAT California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has offered to “pump Obama up.”

In an interview with Brian Kilmeade on Thursday’s edition of “Fox & Friends,” Schwarzenegger said he and Obama had joked about remarks Arnold had made during the campaign about Obama’s “scrawny” physique.

"He told me that he's going to build a big gymnasium in the White House to bulk up and that I should help him bulk up," Schwarzenegger said.

"And I said only if he helps me play basketball."

THAT future first lady Michelle Obama will be featured in a comic book.

The comic from Bluewater Productions will be the third book of its Female Force series, which already includes Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin. The quarterly publication showcases women who are pioneers in modern history, The Guardian reports.

The Clinton and Palin comics will be released early next year, and Obama’s is scheduled for April.

The book will follow Obama from her youth to her career as an attorney, through the presidential campaign and Election Day.

Editor's Notes:

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):1. Will Obama Use Localism to Crush Rush? 2. Waxman Win Shows Democrats Left-wing Colors 3. Economic Meltdown Could Threaten Chinese Regime 4. Obama Faces Strategic Dilemma on Economy 5. U.N. Watchdog Issues Troubling Report...
Sunday, 23 November 2008 05:32 PM
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