This past weekend, as the victors of the Ames Straw Poll were being determined in Iowa, Texas governor Rick Perry declared his candidacy for the presidency. The talking heads of “conservative” talk radio and elsewhere were giddy with excitement. For more than one reason, I, for one, do not share their enthusiasm.

Already, comparisons between Perry and former President George W. Bush are being drawn in venues that are friendly to both our national parties. Admittedly, some commentators have noted the differences between the two, but these are largely stylistic and tangential. Their likenesses, though, are too obvious to be glossed over: both claim to be “conservative”; both are Texans; and both have served as governors of the Lone Star State. 
These similarities alone are sufficient to engender no inconsiderable degree of concern in numerous voters. George W. Bush’s approval rating was abysmal when he left office, and it hasn’t risen appreciably since.

A federal appeals court has ruled that it is unconstitutional for a Delaware school district to include prayer as part of its regular school board meetings. Prayer has been a part of Indian River board meetings since the school district was founded in 1969, and in 2004 the district formalized a policy in which board members rotate in leading a prayer or moment of silence to “solemnify” the meetings. The policy stipulates that the prayers may be either sectarian or non-sectarian, and may be “in the name of a Supreme Being, Jehovah, Jesus Christ, Buddha, Allah” — or some other religious entity.

However, the district was dragged into court over the policy when two families complained that the prayers violated the First Amendment’s supposed separation of church and state. Associated Baptist Press (ABP) reported that the case “stemmed from a lawsuit originally filed in 2005 by a Jewish family claiming they were harassed after speaking out against religious practices including prayers at graduations and board meetings. They claimed their daughter’s graduation was ruined when she, the only Jewish person in her class, had to listen to a minister pray in Jesus’ name.”

For the first time in his presidency, Barack Obama’s poll numbers in heavily Democratic New York have gone negative, with 49 percent disapproving of his job performance compared to only 45 percent who approve. The Quinnipiac University poll last showed the President with a 57 percent approval rating in late June, a drop of 9 points in six weeks. Among Republicans, the poll showed disapproval ratings of 86 percent, up from 74 percent in June, while among Democrats his approval rating dropped from 82 percent to 75 percent. Among independents 58 percent expressed their disapproval, up from 45 percent in June. “The evidence continues to mount,” writes Dan Weil at Newsmax.com, “that President Barack Obama’s re-election bid is in trouble.”

The latest daily Presidential Tracking Poll by Rasmussen Reports confirms those results, with their Presidential Approval Index rating at  -22 approval index rating, the lowest of Obama's presidency, and down from a +22 approval index rating at the start of his presidency in 2009. Gallup tracks his job approval on a daily basis where 48 percent disapprove of his job performance, his weakest standing since December of 2009.

The recently released study of “heavy hitters” by the Center for Responsible Politics showed the amount of money the top 140 political donors gave to Democrats and Republicans from 1989 through 2010. Four of the top six gave $170 million over that period, with $151 million going to Democrats, and less than $3 million going to Republicans (the difference going to unaffiliated or independent political groups). In simple math, Democrats received 89 percent while Republicans got less than two percent.

The top all-time political donor is ActBlue, which calls itself “the online clearinghouse for Democratic action,” and claims to have raised nearly $200 million since its founding in 2004 in order to “support thousands of Democratic candidates across the nation.” This far exceeds the amount shown in the study because the numbers in the study are based on figures obtained from the Federal Election Committee, which don’t include small donors giving less than $200. ActBlue is the largest funnel of funds supporting Democrats nationwide and as a result is “a major fundraising tool for Democrats, particularly favored by the netroots and left-leaning bloggers.”

I don’t know Peter Gadiel, and he apparently knows absolutely nothing about me. But that hasn’t stopped him from attacking me in a recent article (Influential Conservative is Dangerously Wrong on E-Verify). His article makes some outrageous statements about me, even to presume he can tell you what motives are in my head when I take a position.

Recently, I released an article entitled “E-Verify and the Emerging Surveillance State.” My opposition to E-Verify is that it is a major tool in the creation of a surveillance society; will give the government the power to decide who works and who doesn’t in America; will be a great burden on both worker and business; and will do absolutely nothing to protect us from illegal immigration or terrorism. In short, E-Verify represents another false promise of security and a greater threat to our freedom.

Angered over what they perceive to be a violation of free speech, hackers in California launched an online attack against a California transit agency after it turned off cellphone service at its stations in an effort to prevent a potential protest last week.

The hackers are apparently frustrated by efforts taken by police in San Francisco to jam cellphone communications so that protesters could not move forward with their protests. Gawker.com explains: "Protesters had planned to gather at a San Francisco BART [Bay Area Rapid Transit] station during rush hour to protest the fatal July shooting of Charles Hill by a BART police officer. But the protest never materialized. One reason, possibly, is the extreme lengths police went to make sure potential protesters couldn't communicate."

The latest ranking of contractors providing services to the federal government reveals that at least nine of the top 10 are tied to the Department of Defense and took in nearly $70 billion of the government’s money in 2010. Leading the pack as it has for the past 17 years is Lockheed Martin, with $17 billion, followed by Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Raytheon, and General Dynamics.

The top 27 contractors each received at least $1 billion in contracts from the government last year, with Number 100 on the list, Teledyne, getting $170 million. This reflects the enormous growth of government spending in general, and on outside vendors in particular, growing from $207 billion in 2000 to $535 billion last year.

While the private-sector is drowning under a perpetual recessionary storm, U.S. regulatory agencies are flourishing. "If the federal government’s regulatory operation were a business, it would be one of the 50 biggest in the country in terms of revenues, and the third largest in terms of employees, with more people working for it than McDonald’s, Ford, Disney and Boeing combined," writes John Merline of Investors.com.

Indeed, the federal regulatory business is thriving, and if there is one "victory" President Obama can declare, this is it, because government regulation has grown rapidly under his watch. From Investors.com:

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack claims food stamps and other forms of government welfare are camouflaged stimulus programs that stir job growth by pumping money into the economy. After questioned about the cancerous issue of unemployment and the growing number of impoverished Americans forced to live on food stamps, Vilsack responded that the reason so many Americans are on food stamps — 46 million, or one in seven people — is because the Obama administration has helped states get "the word out" about the program.

During an interview on MSNBC’s "Morning Joe," Vilsack asserted that though the food stamps program dates back to 1939, large states such as Texas and California have "underperformed" in bridging eligible participants to the program. "The reason why these numbers have gone up is that we’ve done a pretty good job of working with states that had done a poor job in the past in getting the word out about this program," he alleged. "We’re now working with them to make sure that people who are eligible get the benefits."
 

Now that Texas Governor Rick Perry has announced his candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination, there has been heightened scrutiny of his record and his rhetoric by the very organizations he likely counted on for support in the primary elections.
For example, Rick Perry’s hard-talking (“it takes balls to execute an innocent man”), don’t-mess-with-Texas, socially conservative image has been polished eagerly by many of the coterie of Tea Party organizations anxious to impact the contest to take the White House in 2012.
 
While his appeal to many Tea Partiers is unquestioned (particularly by Perry himself), more than a few discordant notes have sounded in the Tea Party chorus of praise. Some in the anti-tax band of the Tea Party spectrum have begun questioning Perry’s anti-tax bona fides in light of his record as Governor of the Lone Star State.

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