With the nation in a long and steep economic decline, few Americans are expected to base their votes this fall on international issues. Issues relating to diplomacy and the intricacies of international trade are, well, foreign to most of us. But one mysterious, far-off land seems to be very much on the minds of candidates and voters this year. A large number of campaign commercials are focusing on our nation's trade with and outsourcing of jobs to China, an emerging superpower that that has amassed a large share of America's wealth and holds huge amounts of America's debt.

A Pledge to AmericaAlthough former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is no longer on Capitol Hill, he still casts a long shadow there. The former Republican Representative from Georgia, once Bill Clinton's most visible foil in Congress, has long since hit the political consultant circuit, but his Republican allies on Capitol Hill are -- 16 years after Gingrich was the face of the dramatic Republican takeover of the House -- still playing in the House that Newt Built, if the newly issued "Pledge to America," transparently modeled on the Republican "Contract with America" of 1994, is any evidence.

The New York Times is worried: Tea Party activists and the candidates they support are openly criticizing that most sacred of quasi-governmental institutions, the Federal Reserve. Worse still, some of these candidates might actually win and join forces with Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), author of End the Fed, who is poised to head the House Financial Services Committee, which oversees the Fed, if Republicans regain control of the House of Representatives in November.

Yesterday, October 12, the White House lifted the moratorium on deepwater oil and gas drilling that was imposed immediately following the British Petroleum Gulf oil spill. Both the spill and the moratorium hurt the oil industry and frustrated Gulf Coast communities that were dependent on offshore drilling for their livelihood.

California's state and local governments are going broke. Public employees unions have demanded compensation and pension plans that are unsustainable. Politicians have shown incredibly little courage in confronting a very real collapse of confidence in the governments of California.

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