Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Political Digest July 7, 2010

I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree (or disagree) with every—or any—opinion in the posted article.

Feds sue to block Arizona illegal immigrant law
People who support this should vote Democrat in the fall. People who support Arizona should vote Republican. If the administration wins, states should cite the decision and save money by refusing to help enforce ANY federal law. Simple. Excerpt: The U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Arizona's new law targeting illegal immigrants, setting the stage for a clash between the federal government and the state over the nation's toughest immigration crackdown.

Will Michael Steele stay or go?
Excerpt: Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele's most recent gaffe -- this one about the war in Afghanistan -- has effectively eliminated any chance he might have had to return to his post after the 2010 election, according to a number of individuals close to the committee. However, those same sources insisted that Steele is likely to survive until the election. "If you believe in death by 1,000 cuts, he is around 896," said one Republican operative who keeps a close eye on the RNC's inner workings. Another high-level Republican strategist said there had been a series of calls over the weekend about possibly naming a placeholder chairman through the election. But the strategist acknowledged that scenario is very unlikely for three reasons. First, Steele remains relatively popular with the 168 Republican national committeemen and committeewomen who ultimately decide his fate. Second, the source said, "the prevailing sentiment is that it's not worth the commotion with four months to the midterm [elections] and six months until a new chairman." Third, no Republican incumbent has directly called on Steele to resign, although he was scolded by Sens. John McCain (Ariz.), Jim DeMint (S.C.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.) on the Sunday talk shows. The next major moment for Steele -- barring another gaffe -- is early next month at the RNC summer meeting in Kansas City, Mo. At that gathering, Steele's commitment to overhaul (or at least to adjust) the 2012 presidential nominating contest will be up for vote.

New Federal Subsidies Marred by Marriage Penalty
Excerpt: Analysis of President Obama’s health care overhaul reveals its system of federal subsidies is structured in ways that reward cohabitation and discourage people from getting married. Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington DC, says the effect will be felt most acutely by the poorest Americans. “What's problematic is the interaction of the health affordability credits with the poverty line,” said Furchtgott-Roth. “If you have one person in the family, the poverty line right now is $10,830. With two people in the family, the poverty line is $14,570.” According to the Department of Health and Human Services 2009 guidelines, the poverty line for a family increases at a rate of $3,740 with each additional member of a household. Furchtgott-Roth uses an example of two people living together, each with income at the poverty line of $10,850, to illustrate the problem. “If they decide to get married, their income would be around $22,000. They would be counted as being in a two-person household and would be considered well above the poverty line, despite not having any more income,” Furchtgott-Roth said. “They would immediately lose the affordability credits if they got married. And given that the tax credits under this legislation are computed by where you stand on the poverty line, and that these tax credits are going to get more valuable as health insurance becomes more expensive, the costs of getting married will only increase.”

The EU's response to global warming is a costly mistake
Excerpt: New research shows that the EU's "20/20/20" policy, which aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 20 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020 (and ensure 20 per cent renewable energy), will cost hundreds of billions of euros but yield only tiny benefits. The UK alone will be hit to the tune of an annual 35 billion euros (£28 billion). As a cost-benefit analysis by the climate-change economist Richard Tol shows, any single regional carbon-reduction scheme will have a very small effect on emissions and temperature rises across the globe. That's not an argument against ever implementing one: but it means that it's crucial that the numbers stack up. The EU recently stated that it would cost £39 billion a year to meet its emissions target. That figure is implausibly optimistic. Averaging out the best-regarded economic models shows that, even if politicians got their policies exactly right, the cost would come to at least £90 billion a year. And Europe has not got it exactly right. Instead, it has made things worse, by introducing additional red tape, complication and constraints – in particular, that 20 per cent renewable-energy target. This is expensive because popular "green" energy sources such as wind and solar power cost more than replacing coal with gas. As a result, the real cost of EU policy is likely to be as much as £170 billion.

Back To the Drawing Board for Climate Modellers. Alarmist Scenarios Unrealistic
Excerpt: The Max Planck Institute in Jena, Germany has just put out a press release in English on a new study on the role of terrestrial ecosystems in the global carbon cycle: A new balance for the global carbon balance. If anything, the report shows there remains lots of uncertainty in the science that many like to call “settled”. In climate science the only certainty is uncertainty. Well worth reading. ALSO, A FOLLOW-UP STORY DIRECTLY BELOW THE ORIGINAL POST, PERFECT EXAMPLE OF SELECTIVE REPORTING BY BIASED MEDIA. The left of centre German online Sueddeutsche Zeitung had, for a very short time, a quite inconvenient piece up today called, in English: News On Nature’s Respiration, which reported on findings just out from the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemicals in Jena, Germany, on the earth’s CO2 cycle and possible future impacts. Mysteriously, the SZ suddenly ripped it down from its website! [Update: 6 July - The SZ has reposted its story]

Public workers are straining state budgets and ought to accept cuts
Since the public employee unions are major Democrat donors and campaign muscle, this, too, won’t be fixed until the collapse. Excerpt: In 2009, state and local government employees had total compensation packages which averaged $39.66 per hour, 45 percent more than the $27.42 per hour earned by workers in the private sector, according to a study by the Cato Institute. Several states and many municipalities are on the verge of bankruptcy, chiefly because of the vast sums they are paying in salary and benefits to public employees. Government employees make more in part because they have more education than do workers in the private sector. But it's mostly because of the strength of public employee unions and the willingness of political leaders to give them taxpayer money in exchange for votes and campaign contributions.

Iran Takes the Scissors to Western Hairstyles
Excerpt: Worried that Western ideas might be seeping into -- and onto -- the heads of their nation's young men, Iran's religious leaders have issued a catalog of acceptable "Islamic" male haircuts. Ponytails, spikes, mullets and Mohawks are now forbidden, but Elvis-style locks, floppy fringes and Simon Cowell-esque flattops get the ayatollahs' seal of approval. The entire selection of state-sanctioned styles will be revealed later this month at Tehran's Modesty and Veil Festival, whose organizers -- with help from Iran's Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance -- designed the hair guide. "The proposed styles are inspired by Iranians' complexion, culture, religion and Islamic law," Jaleh Khodayar, the fair's female organizer, told Agence France-Presse. "We are happy that the Islamic republic of Iran's government has backed us in designing these hairstyles." (...) But well-groomed men aren't the only group facing increased scrutiny this summer. The growing number of wealthy Iranians who keep dogs -- viewed as "unclean" by the mullahs -- could also face a crackdown. Last month, a senior Shiite cleric placed a fatwa on the pets and called for such displays of hound-human companionship to be outlawed.

A Nobody Angling for a Knockout
Excerpt: Sometimes provocative people become that way because they were provoked. Sharron Angle, 60, could be enjoying the 10 grandchildren she loves even more than her .44 magnum. Instead, she is the Republican nominee against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's quest for a fifth term. Her campaign began, in a sense, three decades ago, when a judge annoyed her. When her son was depressed about having to repeat kindergarten -- "He was a 6-year-old dropout" -- she decided on home schooling, which Nevada law permitted. But a judge construed the law to require that parents who home school must live at least 50 miles from a public school. She and many kindred spirits descended on Carson City to get the Legislature to correct this. One legislator, irritated by such grass-roots impertinence, said, "If I'd known there would be 500 people here instead of 50 and it would take five hours instead of 30 minutes, I would have thrown it (the legislation) in my drawer and it would never have seen the light of day." Angle asked a cowboy standing next to her, "Can he do that?" The cowboy said yep. She has been politically incandescent ever since.

Is Elena Kagan Morally Blind?
Excerpt: Elena Kagan has now admitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee that as a Clinton lawyer in 1997, she fraudulently revised an official medical opinion by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The medical society was going to publicly reveal that "its panel of experts found no circumstances in which the (partial birth abortion) procedure was the only option for saving the life of the woman." In a secret internal memo, she wrote that "This, of course, would be a disaster[.]" Kagan therefore secretly revised the language so the final statement in 1997 claimed that the partial-birth abortion "may be the best and most appropriate procedure in particular circumstances to save the life or preserve the health of the woman." That was a pernicious lie. The medical panel originally said that was false. Kagan substituted her own judgment for a medical consensus. No wonder eight hundred Jewish rabbis have publicly stated that in their opinion, Elena Kagan is not morally qualified to be on the Supreme Court. Her fraudulent actions in 1997 legally authorized the killing of approximately two thousand newborns or almost-newborns each year, according to the pro-abortion Gutmacher Institute.

Lack of jobs increasingly blamed on uncertainty created by Obama’s policies
Excerpt: Federal Reserve Governor Kevin Warsh said in a recent speech in Atlanta: “Owing to a less-than-assured economic outlook and broad uncertainty about public policy, employers appear quite reluctant to add to payrolls.” Roberton Williams, senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center, said in an interview, “The whole tax situation is very much in flux, very uncertain. It makes it hard to plan. It’s clear that firms are not yet hiring. A lot of them are sitting on big bundles of cash,” Williams said, citing the examples of Google and Apple, which are both hoarding about $30 billion in cash instead of investing it or using it to expand. Seidenberg’s comments last month were a significant political moment. The Verizon CEO has been one of President Obama’s strongest allies in the business community, and as president of the 170-member Business Roundtable, he had tried to cooperate with the Obama administration on its trademark agenda items – health care, financial reform and energy legislation. But, Seidenberg said he was “troubled” by Obama’s agenda, so much so that he had “reached a point where the negative effects of these policies are simply too significant to ignore.” Seidenberg was not the last major business leader and Obama ally to turn on the president in recent days. Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of GE, said in Italy late last week that Obama and the business community did not like one another and are not getting along with each other. Immelt said the U.S. is “a pathetic exporter,” according to the Financial Times. “We have to become an industrial powerhouse again but you don’t do this when government and entrepreneurs are not in synch,” Immelt was quoted as saying.

TSA to Block "Controversial Opinion" on the Web
Government employees shouldn’t waste time reading about politics. They should be surfing for porn like the SEC lawyers do! Excerpt: The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is blocking certain websites from the federal agency's computers, including halting access by staffers to any Internet pages that contain a "controversial opinion," according to an internal email obtained by CBS News.

Obama Decried, Then Used, Some Bush Drilling Policies
Excerpt: Less than four months after President Barack Obama took office, his new administration received a forceful warning about the dangers of offshore oil drilling. The alarm was rung by a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., which found that the government was unprepared for a major spill at sea, relying on an "irrational" environmental analysis of the risks of offshore drilling. The April 2009 ruling stunned both the administration and the oil industry, and threatened to delay or cancel dozens of offshore projects in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico. Despite its pro-environment pledges, the Obama administration urged the court to revisit the decision. Politically, it needed to push ahead with conventional oil production while it expanded support for renewable energy. Another reason: money. In its arguments to the court, the government said that the loss of royalties on the oil, estimated at almost $10 billion, "may have significant financial consequences for the federal government." The U.S. Court of Appeals reversed its decision and allowed drilling in the Gulf to proceed—including on BP PLC's now-infamous Macondo well, 50 miles off the Louisiana coast. The Obama administration's actions in the court case exemplify the dilemma the White House faced in developing its energy policy. In his presidential campaign, President Obama criticized the Bush administration for being too soft on the oil industry and vowed to support greener energy forms. But, once in office, President Obama ended up backing offshore drilling, bowing to political and fiscal realties, even as his administration's own scientists and Democratic lawmakers warned about its risks.

Illegal Immigration Costs U.S. $113 Billion a Year, Study Finds
Excerpt: The cost of harboring illegal immigrants in the United States is a staggering $113 billion a year -- an average of $1,117 for every “native-headed” household in America -- according to a study conducted by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).

Calling O's deficit bluff
Excerpt: Catching flak from our European allies at last month's G-20 Summit over our failure to rein in spending, President Obama once again pointed his now-familiar finger elsewhere. "Next year, when I start presenting some very difficult choices to the country," he asserted, "I hope some of these folks who are hollering about deficits and debt step up -- because I'm calling their bluff." Coming from a president who two years ago captured the minds and imaginations of millions by promising to unite the country, this divisive rhetoric is self-defeating. It's also profoundly ironic. Since the president was sworn into office, America has run up red ink at an astounding rate of $4.9 billion a day. Yet the president continues to kick the can down the road -- and there's not much road left. The president could have come clean to the American people about the serious nature of Washington's spending problem, could have discussed the need to build consensus around some tough but reasonable spending cuts. Instead, he ducked any debate on spending by promising to "call the bluff" of a straw man of his own creation.

High Noon in Pahrump, Nev.: Sheriff Arrests the District Attorney
Excerpt: Like a scene from a Western movie, the two top lawmen here are settling their scores in public. In May, a Nye County sheriff's deputy arrested the district attorney. The sheriff, Tony De Meo, alleges that the D.A., Robert Beckett, was misusing public funds. According to Mr. De Meo, public money had gone to supporting the local cheerleading squad, led by the D.A.'s wife, and to make a family friend's car payments. No charges have been filed, in part because Mr. Beckett, the D.A., refuses to charge himself.

IDF increases, enhances its urban warfare training centers
Excerpt: Recognizing that the next battles with Hizbullah and Hamas will be fought in densely populated areas, the IDF is significantly increasing the number of urban warfare centers it has to train troops for future complex operations. The Ground Forces Command recently approved plans to increase the number of urban warfare training centers by 50 percent by the end of 2011. Currently, there are about 15 different training centers scattered throughout the country, the largest of which is located near the Tze’elim Base in the Negev. Two of the new centers will be built with underground sections so IDF troops can simulate the type of combined urban-tunnel warfare they would encounter in a future war in southern Lebanon against Hizbullah or in the Gaza Strip against Hamas.

Headmaster Beheaded In Afghanistan By Taliban
Didn’t get the “Islam is a religion of peace” memo. Excerpt: Suspected Taliban militants beheaded a headmaster and torched two schools in southern Afghanistan, officials said on Sunday. Sakandar Shah Mohammadi, head of Al Berooni School in Qara Bagh district of Ghazni province was beheaded on Saturday, the education ministry said in a statement. On the same day, dozens of militants, riding on motorbikes, came to Zardalo area of the district and torched two elementary schools, Muhibullah Khepilwak, district governor, said. One of the schools was a girls' school and the other for boys.

Santa and Frank by Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: People who remember the old comic strip "Peanuts" will recall an often repeated situation where Lucy offers to hold a football for Charlie Brown to kick. Then, as Charlie coming running up to kick it, Lucy snatches away the ball and Charlie Brown loses his balance and goes crashing on his backside. The reason this same scene remained funny, despite how often it was repeated, is that in the later repetitions Charlie Brown would express suspicion at Lucy, recalling how she had tricked him before. She would then come up with some claim that she wasn't going to do that any more-- and of course she did. There is a similar routine that has been repeated many times in Washington, over the years, with the Democrats playing Lucy and Republicans playing Charlie Brown. It goes like this: Democrats start spending money wildly, handing out goodies to a wide range of people who they want to vote for them, while Republicans complain about deficits and the national debt. Then, when the public becomes alarmed about the debts that are piling up, the Democrats get the Republicans to vote for higher taxes to deal with the debt crisis, in the name of "fiscal responsibility." Sometimes the deal is sweetened by the Democrats promising to make spending cuts if the Republicans vote for higher taxes, so that there can be one of those "bipartisan" solutions so beloved by the media. But, after the Republicans vote for the tax increases, and come running up to find the spending cuts, the Democrats snatch away the spending cuts and the Republicans fall right on their backsides, just like Charlie Brown. This old trick is now being unveiled by the Obama administration, like so many other old political tricks used in this "change" administration….. When the Obama administration said that it could provide health insurance to millions of additional people without increasing the national debt, shouldn't common sense have told you that somebody was just insulting your intelligence? When the two thousand page bill was rushed through Congress too fast for anybody to read it, shouldn't that have made you realize that you were being played for a sucker? When this bill that was passed with lightning speed was scheduled to take effect only after the 2012 election, didn't that suggest that they didn't want you to find out how it works in practice in time to turn against Obama when he is up for reelection?

Video: ObamaCare’s impact on doctors
Excerpt: Because many doctors double as small businessmen, they face the reality of meeting a bottom line in addition to treating patients. Boone figured she had three options: lay off her office manager, drop patients who rely on Medicare or relocate her office. She didn’t like her options, but didn’t have much of a choice. After months of agonizing over the decision, Boone this month moved her practice to a less expensive office in an older building. It was hardly the ideal outcome, but it allowed her to keep her staff intact and continue treating her Medicare patients. “I feel a sense of shame; I feel failure because, on some level, I want to provide the very best for my patients and for my employees,” Boone said.

Banks Financing Mexico Gangs Admitted in Wells Fargo Deal
Excerpt: Just before sunset on April 10, 2006, a DC-9 jet landed at the international airport in the port city of Ciudad del Carmen, 500 miles east of Mexico City. As soldiers on the ground approached the plane, the crew tried to shoo them away, saying there was a dangerous oil leak. So the troops grew suspicious and searched the jet. They found 128 black suitcases, packed with 5.7 tons of cocaine, valued at $100 million. The stash was supposed to have been delivered from Caracas to drug traffickers in Toluca, near Mexico City, Mexican prosecutors later found. Law enforcement officials also discovered something else. The smugglers had bought the DC-9 with laundered funds they transferred through two of the biggest banks in the U.S.: Wachovia Corp. and Bank of America Corp., Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its August 2010 issue. This was no isolated incident. Wachovia, it turns out, had made a habit of helping move money for Mexican drug smugglers. Wells Fargo & Co., which bought Wachovia in 2008, has admitted in court that its unit failed to monitor and report suspected money laundering by narcotics traffickers -- including the cash used to buy four planes that shipped a total of 22 tons of cocaine.
How Europeans Invented the Modern World
Excerpt: Both Greece and Rome made significant contributions to Western civilization. Greek knowledge was ascendant in philosophy, physics, chemistry, medicine, and mathematics for nearly two thousand years. The Romans did not have the Greek temperament for philosophy and science, but they had a genius for law and civil administration. The Romans were also great engineers and builders. They invented concrete, perfected the arch, and constructed roads and bridges that remain in use today. But neither the Greeks nor the Romans had much appreciation for technology. As documented in my book, Science and Technology in World History, Vol. 2, the technological society that transformed the world was conceived by Europeans during the Middle Ages. Greeks and Romans were notorious in their disdain for technology. Aristotle noted that to be engaged in the mechanical arts was "illiberal and irksome." Seneca infamously characterized invention as something fit only for "the meanest slaves." The Roman Emperor Vespasian rejected technological innovation for fear that it would lead to unemployment. Greek and Roman economies were built on slavery. Strabo described the slave market at Delos as capable of handling the sale of 10,000 slaves a day. With an abundant supply of manual labor, the Romans had little incentive to develop artificial or mechanical power sources. Technical occupations such as blacksmithing came to be associated with the lower classes.

A Hero’s Welcome Home
Excerpt: I had glanced over at the Memorial site for one last look and noticed a little girl hugging the statue of the young, returning vet. I got choked up. I reached over for my camera, but she had already moved on and was now hugging the parents. I did capture that:

Why aren’t businesses hiring?
Excerpt: That’s a question a lot of people have been asking, including Hale “Bonddad” Stewart at liberal Democrat Nate Silver’s highly informative blog. Stewart’s answers are plausible: there’s lot of unusued capacity and productivity increases indicate that employers are getting more production out of current employees. Then a simple final paragraph, which could have come from a Wall Street Journal or Washington Examiner editorial: “Uncertainty: there has been a tremendous amount of change over the last 12 months. Businesses are still trying to figure out what that means for their own bottom line. Until there are firm answers, they will freeze hiring.” Hmmm. What kind of change over the last 12 months? Who’s been producing that change? Stewart doesn’t say, but it’s not too hard to figure out. This is as pungent and concise an indictment of the Obama Democrats’ vast expansion of the size and reach of government as I’ve seen anywhere. I just didn’t expect to see it on Nate Silver’s blog.

The Talking Feds
Political humor.

No comments:

Post a Comment