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Woefully unprepared for an EMP attack

Kenneth Timmerman /

Whenever the left-wing media wants to conjure up an image of Republican failure and incompetence, they point to Hurricane Katrina? and the days it took the Federal Emergency Management Agency? (FEMA) to respond in any effective manner.

Forget for the moment the fact that President Bush and his team were hampered in their efforts to provide emergency assistance by New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and Louisiana Governor Kathleen Bianco (both Democrats), and the fact that New Orleans actually had plans to evacuate the city in the event of a major hurricane that Nagin failed to implement.

Katrina was an afternoon thunderstorm compared to what could hit the United States in the near future.

After three days of table-top exercises last week in and around Washington, DC to simulate the impact of a major solar event or a nuclear electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack, officials and experts concluded that our nation is woefully unprepared to handle the aftermath of such an event. . . . Experts have been warning for some time that a major geomagnetic event or a nuclear EMP attack would mean “TEOTWAWKI” – The End Of The World As We Know It.

“This is the potential catastrophic incident,” said Michael Fisher, the head of Maryland’s Emergency Management Agency (MEMA). “It’s not a snow storm, it’s not a rain event, it’s not a building that had some bricks fall off when the earth shook. This is a potential catastrophic event that will change life as we know it.”

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The Left’s Tea Party envy

Of all that the Tea Party has accomplished, perhaps the movement’s most unlikely achievement to date is the admiration it has inspired on the activist Left. Disillusioned with President Obama and the rapid dissipation of a long-term left-wing dominance that Obama’s victory was supposed to usher in, left-wing activists and commentators have come to look upon the Tea Party as a model to revive their faded political fortunes.

Speaking for many on the Left, Washington Post? columnist Richard Cohen recently acknowledged, “I suffer from Tea Party envy.” Similarly, the disgruntled twenty-somethings taking part in the Occupy Wall Street campaign have styled their protests as a left-wing and anti-capitalist version of the Tea Party. The latest left-wing admirer of the Tea Party is none other than Van Jones, the disgraced former Obama administration official who was ousted from his post as green jobs czar following revelations of his radical past, which included signing a 9/11 “Truther” petition. Time off from professional politics has afforded Van Jones an opportunity to reflect, and like many on the Left he has concluded that in order to regain their relevance, progressives must take a page from the Tea Party’s playbook.

Van Jones made his appreciation of the Tea Party’s success clear on Monday, when he was the keynote speaker at the Take Back the American Dream Conference in Washington D.C. The conference, featuring a number of prominent left-wing groups, was intended as a first step in the left’s attempt to build a cohesive national movement as a progressive counterpart to the Tea Party.

That is clearly how Van Jones sees it. In his remarks, he chastised the Left for its lack of organization and urged activists to imitate the Tea Party’s strategy. The Tea Party “talks individualism,” Van Jones observed, “but they act collectively.” If progressives wanted the Tea Party’s influence, they would have to stop looking to Obama for leadership and create their own national movement. As his own contribution to movement building, Van Jones announced the creation of his new group, which is called Rebuild the American Dream. According to Jones, Rebuild the American Dream will be a “support center” for the Left as it works to build its own movement. Van Jones also praised the protestors of the Occupy Wall Street campaign, which he hailed as a forerunner of the movement that is supposedly emerging on the Left.

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How TV debates have changed the race

Fred Barnes / Wall Street Journal

Neither fund raising nor the building of grass-roots organizations in key primary states is driving the Republican presidential race. Endorsements haven't mattered much either. Stump speeches have been of minimal importance. And policy papers—such as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's 59-point economic plan or ex-Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman's proposal for tax rate cuts—have been largely overlooked.

By far the biggest influence on the Republican contest has been the series of nationally televised debates. There have been more debates than ever—six so far—and they have attracted record audiences. The most recent debate on Sept. 22 on Fox News drew more than six million TV viewers, plus another six million watching on streaming video.

The debates have overwhelmed the Republican race. "They are about all there's been to the campaign," says Fox political commentator Brit Hume. After each debate the campaign has been frozen until the next one, except for arguments over issues spawned by the debates themselves.

Gov. Rick Perry's policy of offering instate tuition at Texas colleges for illegal immigrants, and his effort to require 12-year-old girls to be inoculated against HPV virus, became prominent issues once he was pelted with questions about them in the debates. When Mr. Romney attacked Mr. Perry's position on Social Security, it emerged as a front-burner issue. Mr. Perry gave the issue a news hook by calling Social Security a "Ponzi scheme."

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The threats to Latin American democracy

by Porfirio Lobo / Wall Street Journal

In June 2009, my country faced political crisis that culminated in my predecessor's removal from office following his attempt to remain in power beyond his original mandate. In November of that year, Hondurans affirmed their belief in the democratic process, turning out to vote in larger numbers than ever in our history. Yet when I assumed office in January 2010, my country faced international isolation—including from longtime allies like the United States.

As I meet this week for the first time with President Obama, Honduras has rejoined the Organization of American States and reaffirmed its traditionally warm ties with the U.S. Significant economic and security challenges remain in Central America, however, and they would be served by further American engagement in this vital neighborhood.

Americans have invested hundreds of millions of dollars over the past decades to bolster democracy in our hemisphere. Honduras has been a beneficiary of this policy, and our strong and vibrant constitutional democracy is evidence of America's success. But as was evident by the crisis that occurred in my country, democracy faces many challenges.

Abuse of power, authoritarianism and international terrorism are some of the many threats confronting us. We yearn for the consolidation of democracy in the Americas, with a flourishing economy and tens of millions more people lifted out of poverty.

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