Thursday, August 19, 2010

Political Digest August 19, 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.

Important: Dismantling America: Part II by Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: "We the people" are the central concern of the Constitution, as well as its opening words, since it is a Constitution for a self-governing nation. But "we the people" are treated as an obstacle to circumvent by the current administration in Washington. One way of circumventing the people is to rush legislation through Congress so fast that no one knows what is buried in it. Did you know that the so-called health care reform bill contained a provision creating a tax on people who buy and sell gold coins? You might debate whether that tax is a good or a bad idea. But the whole point of burying it in legislation about medical insurance is to make sure "we the people" don't even know about it, much less have a chance to debate it, before it becomes law. Did you know that the huge financial reform bill that has been similarly rushed through Congress, too fast for anyone to read it, has a provision about "inclusion" of women and minorities? Pretty words like "inclusion" mean ugly realities like quotas. But that too is not something that "we the people" are to be allowed to debate, because it too was sneaked through. Not since the Norman conquerors of England published their laws in French, for an English-speaking nation, centuries ago, has there been such contempt for the people's right to know what laws were being imposed on them. Yet another ploy is to pass laws worded in vague generalities, leaving it up to the federal bureaucracies to issue specific regulations based on those laws. "We the people" can't vote on bureaucrats. And, since it takes time for all the bureaucratic rules to be formulated and then put into practice, we won't know what either the rules or their effects are prior to this fall's elections when we vote for (or against) those who passed these clever laws.

Obama has already brought 'change' to America by Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: One of the few campaign promises that President Obama has kept was this: "We are going to change the United States of America!" As in many other cases, those who were thrilled by the thought of "change" seldom seemed to consider whether it would be a change for the better or for the worse. True believers in the Obama cult assumed that it had to be a change for the better. Now it is slowly dawning on more people that it is a change for the worse-- runaway government spending, under the banners of "stimulus" and "jobs," is not stimulating anything except political pay-offs to special interests. As for jobs, the percentage of the population with jobs keeps on declining, even as the administration points to all the jobs it is creating. It is of course not pointing to all the other jobs that it is destroying, whether by taking money out of the private sector or by loading so many mandates on employers that labor is made artificially too expensive for many employers to do much hiring. But the most dangerous and most lasting damage that this administration has done to this nation has been in the international jungle, where it is alienating our long-time allies, dismantling our credibility by reneging on our commitments to putting up a missile shield in Eastern Europe and-- above all-- doing nothing meaningful to stop the leading terror-sponsoring nation in the world, Iran, from getting nuclear weapons.

The Tea Parties and the Future of Liberty
Excerpt: Then there was American Recovery and Reinvestment Act project number 1R01AA01658001A, a study entitled: “Malt Liquor and Marijuana: Factors in their Concurrent Versus Separate Use.” I’m not making this up. This is a $400,000 project being directed by a professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo. The following is from the official abstract: “We appreciate the opportunity to refocus this application to achieve a single important aim related to our understanding of young adults’ use of male [sic] liquor (ML), other alcoholic beverages, and marijuana (MJ), all of which confer high risks for experiencing negative consequences, including addiction. As we have noted, reviews of this grant application have noted numerous strength [sic], which are summarized below.” So what were those strengths? “This research team has previous [sic] been successful in recruiting a large (>600) sample of regular ML drinkers.” Also, “the application is well-written.” Well-written? With three spelling mistakes? But who am I to judge? As for the other strength, there is no question that the team’s recruitment had been strong. But is that really a qualification for federal money? After all, they were paying people to drink beer! These same scholars were behind a groundbreaking 2007 study that used regression analysis to discover that subjects who got drunk and high were more intoxicated than those who only abused alcohol. The new study pays these pot-smoking malt-liquor drinkers at least $45 to participate. They can buy four beers per day for the three-week project—all of it funded, at least indirectly, by the American taxpayer. (...) In recent years, the Republican Party has seen its approval levels sink to new lows. In 2005, 33 percent of registered voters told Gallup they considered themselves Republican. By 2009, that number was 27 percent. The number of voters who identified themselves as independent showed a corresponding rise. But what’s interesting is that over that same time-frame, the number of voters self-identified as conservative stayed relatively constant: 39 percent in 2005 and 40 percent in 2009. (Self-identified liberals constituted 20 percent of respondents in both 2005 and 2009.) So even as the number of self-identified Republicans declined and the number of self-identified independents grew, the number of self-identified conservatives was constant. Of course, it’s too simple to postulate a one-for-one swap, but the trend seems clear. The Tea Party movement arose in an environment in which a growing number of Americans believed neither party was voicing its concerns. (Damn, Bob! We missed out! They might have PAID us to be part of the control group that only drank beer AND they would have paid for the beer! I thought your sources were better than that. How could they have let us miss an opportunity like this? Ron P. You missed out. I just didn’t tell you. I was afraid there wasn’t enough beer! ~Bob)

Judge Tosses Piracy Charges Against 6 Somalis
Excerpt: A judge on Tuesday dismissed piracy charges against six Somali men accused of attacking a Navy ship off the coast of Africa, concluding the U.S. government failed to make the case their alleged actions amounted to piracy. The dismissal of the piracy count by U.S. District Judge Raymond A. Jackson tosses the most serious charge against the men, but leaves intact seven other charges related to the alleged April 10 attack on the USS Ashland in the Gulf of Aden. A piracy conviction carries a mandatory life term. Defense attorneys argued last month that the Ashland defendants did not meet the U.S. legal definition of piracy because they did not take command of and rob the amphibious dock landing ship. (Why were they even in a civilian court? More madness. Perhaps the judge thought the Somalis were just waterskiing. I liked the Russian solution better. –Ron. P. Note to Navy: Next time please let them take over the ship and kill you so we can prove piracy, if it’s not too much trouble. ~Bob)

Iran Won't Stop Enriching Uranium Once Russian-Built Reactor Is Online
Excerpt: Iran’s plan to fire up its first nuclear power reactor will not affect its ongoing uranium enrichment activities, despite Western governments’ arguments that the power plant’s operating arrangements will render enrichment unnecessary. Years behind schedule, the 1,000-megawatt reactor in the southern Iranian port of Bushehr will finally be loaded with Russian-supplied low enriched uranium (LEU) late this week during a ceremony to be attended by senior officials from both countries. From that point on, according to the Russian nuclear power agency Rosatom, the plant will be effectively up and running. Iranian reports say actual operation will begin sometime during the Persian month of Shahrivar, which runs from Aug. 23 to Sept. 22. Under a 10-year agreement signed in 2005, Russia will supply the LEU fuel for Bushehr, and Iran is required to ship the spent fuel back to Russia – a move designed to allay concerns that Tehran may try to separate plutonium which could be used in a weapons program. The U.S. and other governments suspect Tehran is using its civilian nuclear program as a cover to develop atomic weapons capability, and they were not altogether satisfied with the arrangement: Before the irradiated fuel can be returned to Russia, it must be stored to allow sufficient radioactive decay for safe transportation, and this “cooling” period could arguably give the Iranians time to covertly separate plutonium.

Arizona's illegal immigrants can easily avoid E-Verify system
Excerpt: Companies have opportunities to make sure they aren't hiring illegal immigrants. Prospective hires must show proper identification, and they must submit U.S. government-required paperwork. Under Arizona law, new hires must be vetted by E-Verify, a federal system designed to catch illegal-immigrant workers. But there are many ways for unauthorized workers to slip through the cracks. It's not hard, experts say, for an illegal immigrant with high-quality fake identification to collect a paycheck. An undocumented worker could remain on a company's payroll a few days or indefinitely, especially if he or she uses a matching name and Social Security number taken from a friend or relative, or stolen. How can this happen? Among the reasons: Most hiring staffers aren't fake-ID experts. The state's push to use E-Verify has had limited success. Identity theft isn't always detected immediately. Surprise federal audits can't reach every business. Because the existing safeguards can't stop every illegal worker, the risk of getting caught is the greatest deterrent for workers or employers who may want to skirt the rules. (No doubt E-verify can be gamed, but "easily" is surely an exaggeration. –Ron P.)

For Rod Blagojevich, conviction is a victory
Excerpt: A federal jury in Chicago found former governor Rod Blagojevich guilty of a single count of lying to federal agents but deadlocked over the other 23 charges against him, a major victory for the Illinois Democrat. "I didn't let you down," he said outside court after the verdict was read. "The jury has shown the government couldn't prove that I did anything wrong." The conviction carries a maximum punishment of five years in prison. Prosecutors are reportedly planning to re-try Blagojevich on the 23 counts on which the jury hung. The judge has given the prosecution until Sept. 7 to officially decide whether to re-try Blagojevich. The verdict brings a partial resolution to an 18-month political soap opera that has dominated the state's politics. While the outcome is a clear victory for the former governor, the conviction and the possibility of a second prosecution almost certainly extend a story line that has badly imperiled his party's prospects in the state this fall. (One juror held out against conviction. Polls suggest that Blago’s efforts to poison the jury pool worked, with the number of Illinois residents saying he should be convicted dropping for 79% when he was arrested to 59% at trial time. We need to remember that Blago ran as a Democrat “reformer” in November, when they will give us many other young “reformers” eager to get their hands in the public cookie jar. ~Bob)

FASB's Tort Bar Gift
Excerpt: In the eternal war between the plaintiffs bar and corporations, the lawsuit pack already owns the Senate and many state courts. Now it seems the nation's accountants want to give the lawyers another edge. The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) will soon begin considering whether to require companies to account for the potential cost of ongoing litigation. Supporters insist this is merely about disclosure, but the proposal would hurt investors by offering roadmaps for new litigation and bigger settlements. We first wrote about this in 2008, and FASB retreated amid a business backlash. But FASB's revised proposal, issued last month, isn't much better. Take the provision requiring companies to disclose their liability insurance coverage. Lawyers would be able to target their damage requests to the coverage maximum, or launch new lawsuits in the knowledge that more insurance dollars remain. This is why judges typically insist that coverage only be divulged under a secrecy order. Another provision proposes that companies disclose the "average settlement amount" in various categories of litigation. This is another bull's-eye for the trial bar, which will seek to meet or exceed that figure in each of its demands. It also sets a prejudicial standard for all companies in similar litigation to meet. Oh, and don't forget proposed disclosure of "the existence of studies in reputable scientific journals . . . that indicate potential significant hazards related to the entity's products or operations." So corporate America would be obliged to do the trial bar's research.

Who is Really Politicizing Ground Zero?
Excerpt: After crunching the numbers and realizing that backing a mosque near Ground Zero, plays to average Americans about as well as flag burning on 4th of July, the Dems have emerged with a new talking point. The Republicans are "politicizing" Ground Zero. Thanks to the exposure of Jornolist, we've already seen how liberal media pundits and Democratic campaign strategists collaborate to develop and distribute talking points in response to a setback. Now we're seeing the same thing at work as Time's Mark Halperin goes around promoting the "politicizing Ground Zero" talking point. It's already been picked up by Senator Robert Menendez and Governor Christie, who worked to help Hamas linked Imam, Mohammad Qatanani, stay in America. But let's talk about who's really been politicizing Ground Zero. The mosque's biggest supporter, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, had aggressively tried to politicize Ground Zero back in 2005 with the International Freedom Center, with George Soros and the ACLU pushing exhibits on Islamophobia and the loss of civil liberties in America. Governor Pataki shut down the IFC's plans to politicize Ground Zero over Bloomberg's loud protests. Meanwhile the current plans for exhibits commemorating 9/11 at the site are being attacked by liberals complaining about a "lack of context", which is their way of saying that they want to politicize the site by suggesting that America was to blame.

Important: Hollow Talk in the South China Sea
Excerpt: Lurking about the presidency in the guise of secretary of state, America's chief diplomat has embarked upon a mistake that someday may rival Dean Acheson's exclusion of Korea from the Pacific defense area, or April Glaspie's muddled words to Saddam Hussein. At a regional meeting in Hanoi in late July, Hillary Clinton unveiled an initiative the effect of which is an attempt to forge a defensive alliance along the maritime perimeter, with nations such as Vietnam and the Philippines. Like her predecessor Acheson, Mrs. Clinton seems averse or blind to military analysis. Her inevitably stillborn South China Sea initiative is showy diplomacy that may lead either to a military clash with China or, more likely, a ratification of China's aims as the United States lets its implied guarantees die on the vine. China's assertions in regard to the potentially oil rich and strategically important South China Sea are consistent, clear, and patently absurd. Based upon the questionable ownership of uninhabited rocks and shoals, some which do not rise above water and others roughly the size of a Volkswagen, it claims an area almost as large as the Caribbean Basin and as far as 1,800 miles from its nearest shoreline. In linking America's national interests to those of the coastal states thus insulted, Mrs. Clinton's recent comments are commendable but insufficiently backed. China above all is sensitive to "paper-tigerism" and ready to challenge it, especially in regard to its essential interests and where the balance of applicable power is swinging in its favor. A naval battle in which China has the upper hand? Do we not have the most powerful military in the world? We do, but strategic appraisal must not be one-dimensional. Although decisive to some, that this country spends more on defense than the next 14 countries combined is irrelevant to things such as the scope of its commitments, personnel costs, the willingness or reticence of allies, purchasing power parity, force structure, asymmetrical advantage and disadvantage, domestic politics, strategical genius, its absence, and many other factors including not least geography. China fought us to a draw in Korea more than half a century ago. In Vietnam we stayed our hand for fear of drawing it into the battle, when its primitive navy was not even a tenth the size of ours, it had no nuclear weapons that could threaten us, and the Western Pacific was an American lake with a necklace of massive military installations now largely abandoned and an alliance structure we are at present trying to rebuild with words. Whittled down by successive administrations, the big stick now turns on the Obama lathe as it is pressed against the Gates knife. If present trends merely continue, in five or 10 years, when the U.S. will have to decide whether to challenge China's claims or acquiesce, the correlation of forces will have shifted much more to China's advantage. China hungers for the oil in these waters that break upon its coast. The South China Sea has long been the subject of its perfervid declarations and domestic propaganda as a kind of oceanic Tibet. Yet it is hardly likely that an American president in his right mind would go to the brink in the South China Sea.

More on the subject: The Democracy Fix for the South China Sea
Excerpt: By Nguyen Dan Que and Al Santoli China is once again mixing belligerent rhetoric with military exercises, sending shudders through Southeast Asian capitals. At the heart of these words and actions is the claim that the entire South China Sea—through which nearly 50% of all international trade must transit—is exclusive Chinese territory. Last month, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rightly challenged these claims at an Association of Southeast Asian Nations' meeting in Hanoi. Calling freedom of navigation a "national interest of the United States," Mrs. Clinton called for multilateral efforts to resolve territorial disputes in the sea, parts of which are also claimed by Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines. As far as they go, Mrs. Clinton's words are most welcome. They also reflect a real congruence of interests between Washington and Hanoi. This is particularly true at a time when China has just conducted military exercises in the South China Sea that are arguably the largest in the history of the People's Liberation Army Navy. China has a history of harassing, sometimes fatally, Vietnamese fishermen in the Sea, especially around the Paracel and Spratly archipelagos that are claimed by both countries. Yet even amid these interests, one critical point of realism is conspicuously missing from U.S. policy: The recognition that only a free and democratic Vietnam can be a reliable partner for peace in this region. Plainly the U.S. is counting on its growing friendship with Vietnam to offset China's worrying moves in the region. At an Asean press conference, Mrs. Clinton was effusive in her praise of the Vietnamese government: "The extraordinary economic progress, the strengthening of institutions that we've seen, are encouraging," she said. "Both South Korea and Vietnam are very important models for other countries around the world." But such statements overlook a central fact: Vietnam is far more similar to Beijing than to Washington. Both are nominally communist regimes that repress their people. For all the advances Vietnam has made, freedom of information—particularly Internet communication—and freedom of expression under all forms are harshly controlled and suppressed.

Rep. Pelosi calls for investigation of WTC mosque opposition
Excerpt: Chilling dissent, investigate funding of opponents, but not of the jihadists behind the mosque. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, called for an investigation of those who are protesting the building of the Ground Zero Mosque on Tuesday.

The Battle for France
Excerpt: What a difference a riot can make. The three nights of armed mayhem in a Muslim quarter of Grenoble in July that saw numerous cars burned, police officers fired upon and their families threatened has ignited an unexpected and energetic response from France’s politicians. In what may be the last chance to halt France’s slide into anarchy as well as an indication of how endangered the French social order is, the country’s center-right ruling party, the Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (Union for a Popular Movement (UMP)), is set to introduce two constitutional amendments into the National Assembly next month to deal with the country’s deteriorating social situation. Both concern cancelling French citizenship for convicted criminals. France’s immigration minister, Eric Besson, the person responsible for drafting the amendments, said revoking French citizenship is not anti-constitutional and therefore will receive clearance from France’s constitutional council. The forfeiture of French nationality, Besson says, currently exists in France, but only for convictions for serious offences like terrorism and espionage. Before 1998, however, it was allowed under common law “for a certain number of crimes.” “It is relatively simple,” said Besson. “It suffices to return to the law that prevailed until 1998. That is not anti-constitutional.” The first proposed constitutional amendment concerns stripping criminals of foreign origin who receive more than a five-year prison sentence of their French citizenship. This new measure would only occur if the crime was committed during the first ten years after naturalization.

Infighting Threatens to Rip Dems Apart
Excerpt: Democrats have a long history of fighting among themselves, but the spectacle of the White House attacking its liberal base and party leaders distancing themselves from their president in the midst of a critical midterm election is a new low even for them. Democratic candidates from Texas to Indiana do not want to be seen campaigning with President Obama. His chief spokesman says the president's critics in the party's left wing ought to be drug tested because of their extremist views on health care and defense. And Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid rejects Obama's insensitive remarks supporting the right to build a mosque near Ground Zero. Individually, each of these issues reflect a party at war with itself. Collectively, they suggest a dysfunctional party in turmoil that raises profound questions about its inability to govern and a troubling disconnection from mainstream America. The party's internecine divisions broke wide open when White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told the Hill newspaper last week: "I hear these people saying he's like George Bush. Those people ought to be drug tested. I mean, it's crazy."

Jobbed In America
Excerpt: Obamanomics has done more than just keep unemployment high during a modest recovery. It may also be keeping high joblessness permanent by raising the costs to businesses of hiring new workers. July's 9.5% unemployment level was bad enough. But the real problem is that the private-sector jobs machine, which is usually going full tilt at this point in a recovery, now seems to be broken. To many, it's becoming clear that if President Obama's radical job-killing agenda stays in place, job growth will be nonexistent. One of America's great advantages has always been its flexible, private-sector labor markets. From 1985 to 2008, U.S. unemployment averaged 5.6%. For the six largest economies in the European Union, the average rate was 34% higher, at about 7.5%. Yet many of those countries now have jobless rates lower than ours. Why? They've been dropping Keynesian stimulus as a strategy and moving more toward cutting spending and, in some cases, cutting taxes. Not Obama. He and Congress remain wedded to an outdated economic model that replaces the private sector's animal spirit and dynamism with the dead hand of government bureaucrats and their unions as the main economic forces in our country. That's what last week's $26.1 billion state "bailout" was all about. We were told it was to keep teachers from being laid off and "for the children." In reality, it was a cynical taxpayer-funded payback to teachers' unions, which gave Obama and his party enthusiastic support and millions in donations in the last election. This is Obama's New America — a government-run economy, with special benefits for unions and plenty of government jobs, but few private ones.

Great quotes from The Patriot Post
"People unfit for freedom -- who cannot do much with it -- are hungry for power. The desire for freedom is an attribute of a 'have' type of self. It says: leave me alone and I shall grow, learn, and realize my capacities. The desire for power is basically an attribute of a 'have not' type of self." --American writer and philosopher Eric Hoffer (1902-1983)

"The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants, and it provides the further advantage of giving the servants of tyranny a good conscience." --French Algerian author Albert Camus (1913-1960)

"It would be hard to think how Obama could have done a worse job on the Ground Zero mosque controversy. He took a position objectionable to the vast majority of Americans, within 24 hours chickened out, and then sent his press minions forward to assure his base and the Muslim World and its American community (over which he fawns incessantly) that he really does think we must accept a mosque that will produce nothing but pain for his countrymen and a sense of vindication to those who incinerated 3,000 Americans. It's bad policy, bad politics, and bad execution, with a side order of political cowardice." --columnist Jennifer Rubin

"The White House is defending President Obama's sports activities over the past week, saying that everyone needs leisure time. Thanks to these economic policies, 9.5 percent of Americans have all the leisure time they need." --comedian Jay Leno

Work Hard Till You're Crazy or Dead
If you are dealing with children bleeding you dry, this song by my friend Bob Woody (Psychologist, professor, author, attorney, cop and musician) will hit home.

Palestinian 'threatens to kill Jews as he takes hostages at Turkish embassy'
They should have had Obama call him and explain that Islam is a Religion of Peace. End of story. Excerpt: An armed Palestinian man held two hostages at the Turkish embassy in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, threatening to "kill any Jews" and demanding political asylum before he was shot by security guards.

Generous donations stream from wealthy Islamic nations to their desperate brethren in Pakistan -- no, wait...
Excerpt: While Gaza is lavished with attention, money, and weapons for a vastly exaggerated "crisis" that is of Hamas' engineering and staging (those poor people have to smuggle in luxury cars!), tens of millions of Muslims are suffering in Pakistan after the floods -- hungry, wet, and under the threat of outbreaks of cholera and dysentery. The response from Islamic nations in the Arab world? Beyond lackluster, while the U.S., Britain, Japan, and other non-Muslim countries bend over backwards. The question for the Muslim governments of the petrodollar-glutted Gulf: Are you racists, regarding the needs of your non-Arab brethren as less important, or would you just rather be waging jihad?

Religious minorities in Indonesia push back
Didn’t get the memo. Excerpt: "The Batak Christians deserve to be stabbed to death," yelled Murhali Barda, who heads the FPI chapter in Bekasi. "If they refuse to go home we are ready to fight." An argument broke out between Barda and three female members of the congregation. The hard-liners shoved and started punching them. All the while, men chanted from a truck and clerics made speeches saying "Leave. ... We will not let you perform prayers here!" The crowd, made up largely of children, cheered in response: "God is great!"

American Muslim organization says President Obama is wrong
Maybe someone got the memo! Excerpt: Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, a devout Muslim and the president and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy issued the following statement regarding remarks from President Obama on the proposed mosque and Islamic Center at Ground Zero: "As an American Muslim whose family fled persecution in Syria and as someone who has stood in the face of some resistance to the building of many of our houses of worship in the U.S., I fully understand the value of standing for religious freedom in America. But President Obama's statement about the Ground Zero mosque at last night's White House Iftar dinner is the latest example of political correctness gone awry.

Pentagon to Blast Missile in Laser Weapon Test
Excerpt: The Defense Department plans to conduct a key test of a powerful missile-destroying laser equipped on a Boeing aircraft, a senior Pentagon official says. The test, described as "unprecedented," is scheduled for late tonight at a test range off California, Lt. Gen. Patrick J. O'Reilly, the director of the Missile Defense Agency, told reporters this morning. The agency conducted the first ever shoot-down using the Airborne Laser earlier this year, during which the weapon destroyed a target meant to represent the popular Scud ballistic missile. "Our objective is to shoot [the missile] down at twice the range" of the last test, O'Reilly said. The Airborne Laser is a chemical laser housed in the nose cone of a Boeing 747, and is designed to shoot down ballistic missiles in their initial phase of assent, known as the boost phase. The exact range of the laser is classified, O'Reilly said, but he added that the last test was conducted from more than 50 miles away, so tonight's test would be over 100 miles away. (The good news: this may be a valid defense against missiles. The bad news: we cut off its funding back in January or December. The successful prior test referred to in the article was mentioned in TOJ on 18 Feb 2010. Ron P.)

Election Promises
Excerpt: The mid-term elections coming in November are crucial to the future and survival of the United States as a limited constitutional republic. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could choose between candidates who were able to speak knowledgeably about the role they see the government playing within the limits that were established by the ratification of the Constitution. It would also be nice if we could all hit the lottery, eliminate tooth decay, and develop a way to use sea water instead of gasoline. The reality we face is that in the silly season preceding the elections, we are going to be inundated by promise after promise to "fix" problems that we weren't even aware that we had! These promises will echo the tone if not the words of: "a car in every garage and two chickens in every pot". Regardless of what they are promising, if you vote for Candidate "X", he or she will claim to have what every politician dreams of -- a mandate. Bill Clinton twice claimed that he had a "mandate." Of course in both his terms he was sort of loose in applying the term.

The Main Thing
Excerpt: That the world economy is in turmoil is quite obvious. But it is less obvious what the problem is and where it will lead. The wise men are not very helpful; some of them tell us that things are getting better and we will pull through, while others lament that things are critical and all is lost. The president's financial wizards assure us that the situation is under control. They all offer erudite analyses to prove their point, most of which contain concepts and data that are difficult to grasp. Very often, these yield contradictory results. So how does one know whom to believe? How are we to make sense of this jungle of abstruse analysis and conflicting material? As we try to cut through the confusion, we would do well to take a cue from Lee Iacocca, former President and CEO of the Chrysler Corporation, who once said, "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing."

Deconstructing ACOs
Excerpt: Accountable care organizations (ACOs) are the latest fad. They were even included in the newly passed health reform bill, whose backers expect ACOs to raise the quality and lower the cost of patient care at the same time. Detractors, on the other hand, describe them as “HMOs on steroids.” A point-counter-point on the topic is at the Health Affairs Blog. As is so often true in health policy, the clearest way to think about this topic is to imagine applying the concept to some other good or service. Say automobiles. What would it be like to buy an automobile from an accountable CAR organization?

You are now subsidizing luxury apartments in Manhattan
There goes President Bush again, helping the rich. How does he keep doing it? Excerpt: The Federal Housing Administration agreed in March to insure mortgages for apartments at the 98-unit Gramercy Park development, known as Tempo. That enables buyers to make a down payment of as little as 3.5 percent in a building where apartments are listed at $820,000 to $3 million.

Donkey bloodbath: GOP takes largest-ever lead in Gallup’s generic ballot poll
Over confidence kills. ~Bob. Excerpt: Fifty percent of the public says they’re going to vote for Republicans in November, a seven point lead over Democrats. That’s the biggest lead for Republicans ever measured in the 60 years Gallup has been taking this poll. Further, this poll question has a history of understating Republican support in the past. In August of 1994, a year when Republicans made historic electoral gains, Democrats were actually ahead in Gallup’s generic poll.

Three more things we learned about Obamacare after it passed
Excerpt: The result has been a series of unpleasant surprises, which kept coming throughout the summer. Paperwork Increase Act: In an effort to squeeze as much blood as possible out of small businesses that are already reeling in a bad economy, Obamacare trebles the number of tax forms each one has to fill out. The bill requires even the smallest firms to draw up and send IRS 1099 forms to every vendor with whom they do more than $600 in business. Did you buy office furniture this year? A laptop? Better find the seller's taxpayer identification number and address, fill out the paperwork, and mail it in duplicate. The provision won't raise much money, but it will treble compliance costs for 30 million U.S. businesses and the amount of paperwork the Internal Revenue Service processes. When Congress returns next month, this will probably be the first part of Obamacare to be repealed.

Gun-toting soccer moms a scary thought in D.C. area, but not out west
Excerpt: In the red rock and sand of the Arizona desert, just past the retirement villages and golf greens that have made this sun-worshipping city famous, sits the biggest public shooting range in the United States. Not far away are the Wal-Marts where Arizonans pay Sun City retirees to wait in line when a new ammo shipment arrives, lest the supply run out. Residents have the right to carry handguns openly, and starting last month residents who have no criminal records and are at least 21 also are able to carry concealed weapons just about anywhere, without the bother of getting a permit. The full embrace of firearms is just as fervent to the north in Montana, where nearly two-thirds of all households have firearms. Montanans feel so strongly about their right to own guns for hunting, fending off grizzlies and -- if it comes to it -- fellow humans that lawmakers passed a measure last year that challenges the federal government's authority to regulate guns made and kept in their state. This is the gun culture of the American West, and it is from here that the latest challenge to the District's firearms laws has come. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) have proposed a law that they say would sweep away overly stringent regulations imposed by the D.C. Council after the Supreme Court struck down the city's 32-year ban on handguns.

It's unanimous, president's visit leaves L.A. boiling,0,7604411.story
Excerpt: We have one word for you, Mr. President, the next time you want to sweep into Los Angeles late on a weekday afternoon: Helicopter. That way, you can avoid the streets the rest of us mere residents must use to get around. President Obama's fundraising mission in Los Angeles on Monday evening may have been a whirlwind trip for him, but it was a tedious slog for the thousands who found themselves in gridlock from the Westside to downtown. A Brentwood resident's two-mile jaunt took 45 minutes. An Echo Park couple who left home at 5:30 p.m. found their usual 20-minute drive west to Olympic and Rimpau boulevards took a whopping hour and 15 minutes. An attorney left his Miracle Mile-area office at 5:45 p.m. and sat unmoving in traffic for 45 minutes. No matter their politics, Los Angeles residents found themselves united. "It was a beautiful thing," said Brentwood resident Myles Berkowitz, commiserating with his neighbors on Montana Avenue. "Young, old, black, white — everyone was pissed off."

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1 comment:

  1. Nice blog with some catchy commentaries. Kudos!

    Semper fi brother!

    Dunno if you saw it but it's barely in the news, the Marines are doing back to back missions into Pakistan for relief work.

    Marine air came in 700 miles from the ocean and have already evac'd like 5,000 people by chopper who were trapped in remote areas surrounded by flood water. A buddy of mine is with the carrier group and he emailed me pictures. Unbelievable! It makes Johnstown Flood and Katrina look like a cloud burst - - 25 million homeless.

    Anyhow it might be worth a look-see as a story post, I don't know why it hasn't gotten more news coverage. Go Marines!! - - Jarhead