Monday, November 15, 2010

Political Digest for November 15, 2010

I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree with every—or any—opinion in the posted article. Nor that I disagree with them, of course.

Democrat vows to repeal 1099 filing rule from healthcare law
They looked at the election results and decided they needed to fix the worst parts. ~Bob. Excerpt: A leading Senate Democrat vowed Friday to introduce legislation killing a part of the new healthcare reform law that imposes new tax-filing requirements on small businesses. Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the Finance Committee and a leading architect of the reform law, said a provision requiring businesses to report more purchases to the IRS will impose undue paperwork burdens on companies amid an economic downturn when they can least afford it. Baucus, who had pushed legislation scaling back the requirement earlier in the year, now wants it repealed in full.

Health Rules Are Waived More Often
ObamaCare begins to rot. ~Bob. Excerpt: As Obama administration officials put into place some of the new rules that go into effect under the federal health care law, they are issuing more waivers to try to prevent some insurers and employers from dropping coverage and also promising to modify other rules because many of the existing policies would not meet new standards. Last month, federal officials granted dozens of one-year waivers that were aimed at sparing certain employers, including McDonald’s, insurers and unions who offer plans that sharply limit the coverage they provide. These limited-benefit plans, also known as “minimeds,” fail to comply with new rules phasing out limits on how much policies will provide in medical care each year.

Obama, weakened after midterms, reveals limited leverage in failed S. Korea deal
Excerpt: Obama's visit to four Asian democracies is aimed at promoting trade and other economic partnerships to boost long-term job creation in the United States, where voters pounded his Democratic Party this month over a moribund employment market.

Social Security reforms could be bombshell for House GOP
Excerpt: Republicans who took over the House on pledges to reduce federal spending and get the nation’s budget in order are running into the third rail of U.S. politics. A draft proposal from the co-chairman of President Obama’s fiscal commission this week put Social Security on the front burner, leading some Democrats to draw a line in the sand. The proposal would raise the retirement age, slightly reduce benefits and raise the cap on income subject to payroll taxes. While the proposal was drawn up to keep Social Security solvent and not to deal specifically with reducing the nation’s record deficit, Democratic strategists say it will be difficult for Republicans to duck an issue that has caused them political pain in the past. “It does put them in a tough position,” Mike Lux, a strategist who works with liberal advocacy groups, said of the GOP. “These kinds of proposals, raising the retirement age and cutting benefits, are overwhelmingly unpopular with the American people."

Many deficit commission staffers paid by outside groups
Excerpt: But the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform has also come under attack for its unusual approach to staffing: Many of its employees aren't employed by the panel at all. Instead, about one in four commission staffers is paid by outside entities, many of which have strong ideological points of view about how to tackle the deficit. For example, the salaries of two senior staffers, Marc Goldwein and Ed Lorenzen, are paid by private groups that have previously advocated cuts to entitlement programs. Lorenzen is paid by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, while Goldwein is paid by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, which is also partly funded by the Peterson group. The outsourcing has come under sharp criticism from seniors' organizations and liberal activists, who say the strategy is part of a broader conservative bias favoring painful entitlement cuts over other solutions. The fears of some liberal groups appeared to come true on Wednesday, when the commission's two leaders recommended significant reductions for Social Security and other social-welfare programs. Bruce Reed, the panel's executive director, defended the staffing arrangement as fiscally responsible and said the staff includes a broad range of views. Other staffers paid by outside entities include an analyst from the liberal-leaning Economic Policy Institute and a Clinton administration official who now teaches at Johns Hopkins University, he said.

A Progrowth Agenda for Congress
Excerpt: Uncertainty about future public policies coming out of Washington, D.C., and the prospect of huge tax increases is stifling potential recovery and job creation. The most important step Washington can take to spur recovery is to immediately and permanently reduce taxes on capital and labor, say Stephen J. Entin, president and executive director of the Institute for Research on the Economics of Taxation, and John C. Goodman, president and CEO and Kellye Wright Fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis. Following are measures that will lower the tax burden, create jobs and accelerate economic growth:

Scary: New Risks Emerge in Munis: Debtholders Are Left Steamed as Some Cities Forgo Repayment Promises
Another sign of the coming collapse. ~Bob. Excerpt: The housing crisis was fueled by cash-strapped homeowners who walked away from their mortgages. Some analysts and investors now are worried about the same problem happening with debts of cities and towns. For more than a year, Menasha, Wis., hasn't paid back about $23 million in principal for short-term notes tied to a failed steam plant, even though the deal's offering documents include a statement that the city would use tax revenue to cover any debt payments, if needed. But that statement "was no guarantee" to repay the debt, says Edward Fuhr, a lawyer for Menasha, a small industrial city that has spent an average of $80,000 a month to fight investor lawsuits in three courts over the notes, which matured in September 2009. The tangle underscores concern in the municipal-debt world about the longstanding assumption that local governments will do whatever it takes to repay their debts—including raising taxes—because failing to do so would make it more expensive or even impossible to turn to investors for future financing.

Job-Killing Environmentalists
Not to worry. In ten years, roving bands of hunters will be killing and eating greens. ~Bob. Excerpt: President Barack Obama seems more concerned with appeasing environmental extremists in his administration than he is with the lost jobs of poor Americans. He’s letting the environmentalists run wild with long pent-up schemes to force a change in the American way of life that includes small cars, small apartments and, for many, a return to an idealized 19th century lifestyle. It’s not China that’s responsible for American job losses; it’s Washington’s fault for shutting down whole industries and preventing new jobs from being created. What’s happened is that Obama has given the environmental extremists the power to make some of their wish list come true. Modern measurement techniques allow scientists to measure tiny parts per million; much of the technology did not exist when the Clean Air Act was first legislated in 1990. Using these new techniques environmentalists are able to impose their fantasies upon American business and labor. For industry, removing the last parts per million is prohibitively costly. For instance, technology which could have removed the Gulf of Mexico oil spill was prohibited by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) because the discharged ocean water would still contain more than 15 parts per million of oil.

California Dreaming: Missing America's Wake-Up Call
It will start in California. Buy ammo and canned goods. ~Bob. Excerpt: What happened to the notion that "where California goes, so goes the nation"? The Nov. 2 midterm election results demonstrated something very different: The Golden State zagged, while most of the country zigged. That dynamic applied pretty much across the liberal vs. conservative issue spectrum, including energy policy. At a time when the national appetite for cap-and-tax legislation gas gone gastric, Proposition 23, offering an antidote to the previously enacted economic poison pill called AB 32, was rejected by 62% of the voters.

School Reverses Course After Ordering Student to Remove American Flag From Bike
Excerpt: A California school has done a U-turn after it forced a student to remove an American flag attached to his bike, saying the Stars and Stripes could spur racial tensions on campus.

Glenn Beck's Horrific Lie
Excerpt: Now that you know how strongly I feel about that -- I think Glenn Beck should be fired. He has told a lie so grotesque that it goes beyond the pale of even dirty politics. Just when I thought he couldn't shock my conscience anymore, he has done it. Let me explain. George Soros survived the Holocaust. He is Jewish and when the Nazis caught up with his family his father saved his life by bribing an agricultural official to pretend Soros was his Christian godson. At one point, that man took the fourteen year old Soros to survey and appraise the property that had been confiscated from another Jewish family. Obviously Soros did not have a choice in the matter. Soros eventually survived the Holocaust. (Both liberals and conservatives have a tendency to want to believe and repeat anything negative about the other side, to picture it in the worst possible light. And sometimes to embellish, if not make up out of whole cloth. If that is the case here, both unerthical and stupid, as it will win support for Soros, whom I can’t stand. ~Bob.)

The $30 Bonanza
Excerpt: Imagine if class action lawsuits became a historical curiosity like spiked hair and platform shoes. While we would never underestimate the resilience of trial lawyers, a case heard by the Supreme Court on Tuesday could put a damper on the class action bonanza. In AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, Vincent and Liza Concepcion sued AT&T for false advertising because the company ran ads touting free cell phones without mentioning that, under California law, consumers would still be on the hook to pay sales tax on the retail value of the phone. Though the $30 tax would go to the government, not AT&T, lawyers for the Concepcions tried to gin up a class action on behalf of all consumers who had to pay it.

Deficit Fix: You Get a Second Job
Excerpt: President Obama tackled the job of the federal budget by creating a commission to study it. And now that commission has some answers for us. You will read much about its recommendations to raise the Social Security retirement age, get rid of mortgage interest as a tax deduction, cut the defense budget, etc. But here is all you need to know about the commission and its answers, from The Wall Street Journal. The plan's goal is to reduce federal spending and federal revenues to 21% of gross domestic product. Federal revenues currently are projected to be about 19% of GDP in 2015, and outlays about 23%. Do you know the last time federal revenues were 21% of GDP? Approximately the 13th of Never! Federal revenues have never been that high. Not at the peak of World War II. Not at the peak of the tech bubble. Not ever.

Explosive New Justice Department Black Panther Emails
Excerpt: The Obama Department of Justice (DOJ) cannot shake the New Black Panther Party scandal. Every week new revelations emerge about the racism and political favoritism that are corrupting our nation’s top law enforcement agency. This week, we released to the public brand new documents from the Obama DOJ that provide further evidence that top political appointees at the DOJ were intimately involved in the decision to dismiss the voter intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party

Our View: Air board's arrogance damaging
Excerpt: The message is that California energy prices will soar, on top of the added costs of huge taxpayer subsidies that will be needed to finance so-called renewable energy sources. Wind, solar and geothermal energy are all economically infeasible without massive subsidies. Like the huge amounts of taxpayer dollars already wasted in government subsidies for the ethanol industry, other renewable-energy endeavors are likely to face similar fates. In Spain, where large tax-financed subsidies spurred its solar industry, 50,000 subsidized solar entrepreneurs now "face financial disaster" as the government realizes it can't afford to continue propping up the industry with price guarantees, Bloomberg reports. Not only can't Spain afford to continue subsidies that paid 10 times the wholesale price per kilowatt-hour, but for every new "green" job created by the subsidies, more than two normal jobs were lost. Without generous tax breaks and subsidies, wind power costs $149 per megawatt hour compared with $100 for coal, according to estimates from the Energy Information Administration.

A New Consensus
Excerpt: Not every reader of Scientific American magazine is a scientist. But the responses of the 7,000 readers (6,767 as of Friday morning) who've taken the magazine's online poll strongly suggest that claims of a consensus are, at best, an exaggeration. More than three-fourths (77.7%) say natural processes are causing climate change and almost a third (31.9%) blame solar variation. Only 26.6% believe man is the cause. (The percentages exceed 100 because respondents were allowed to choose more than one cause on this question.) Whether climate change is man-caused or natural, most respondents don't believe there's anything that can be done about it anyway. Nearly seven in 10 (69.2%) agree "we are powerless to stop it." A mere one in four (25.7%) recommend switching "to carbon-free energy sources as much as possible and adapt to changes already under way." (Back on 27 Oct 2010, TOJ readers were pointed at a poll on climate change and Judith Curry in Scientific American magazine. At that time, it was noted the responses were tending heavily toward the skeptical view. I said the poll would likely be left up until the numbers were more favorable to AGW. Indeed, the poll is still open. And, the results are still very skeptical, with more than 6700 responses in. The editors can’t possibly be pleased with this result. Ron P.)

Climate Change: The Keywords (Part 2 of 3)
Excerpt: The second keyword for the long overdue reassessment of the climatic issues is knowledge, meaning a more comprehensive and better understanding of the climate dynamics. However, as a prerequisite it is necessary to clear up a concept commonly misused and abused by the Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) defenders: the idea that “science is settled” and that the so-called “scientific consensus” on the subject would be objected to only by some handfuls of diehard “skeptics.” For starters, there is no such a thing like “settled science,” neither in Climatology nor in any other branch of science. The body of scientific knowledge is an open-ended and permanently ongoing construction that is always open to new evidences, new hypotheses, debate, questioning and revision – that’s how real science advances. (Part 1 was carried in TOJ on 7 Nov 2010. I especially like the picture and quotation from Albert Einstein that accompanies this article. In 1931, the Nazis got together 100 physicists who published a report saying they disagreed with Einstein's Theory of Relativity. They bragged there were 100 of them. Einstein replied, "If I were wrong, then one would have been enough." That is why science isn't a democratic process, with truth determined by counting votes. Ron P.)

I Don’t Feel Sorry for Californians Anymore
Excerpt: I used to feel sorry for Californians, myself included. I felt sorry for them because, with the exception of a couple of years in the early eighties, our beautiful state had been hijacked by the brain-dead Democrats who had been running things in Sacramento for more than four decades. These otherwise unemployables have been uniformly choosing the wrong tax and spend and governance and regulatory policies for even longer than I've lived here (34 years). They have taken the best public educational system and trashed it. From what was on a par with any public school education in America just a generation ago, we have to now feel lucky there's a Louisiana, a Mississippi and an Alabama, or California would rank last out of the 50 states. Every survey of business leaders over the past several years ranks California in the bottom two or three states in terms of friendliness to business formation and operation. Maybe that's why so few choose to now relocate or open branch operations here.

'The memories don't leave you'
Excerpt: They gathered Tuesday, as they have each month for the past 15 years, in a small meeting room at Seasons Grille. A passer-by might mistake them for an aging Kiwanis club or maybe a local retirees group, drawn together by memories of the good old days. But the bond among these 20 or so men -- most in their 60s, 70s and even 80s -- runs much deeper. To a man, they are former Marines. Their club has no formal name, no officers, no dues. If you served at any time or any place as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps, you're in -- no questions asked.

The Progressive-Communist Alliance
The Commies are out of hiding and going fully public with the "Progressive" movements, as they join up to support Obama strongly. What does this tell us? It tells me that whether Obama is consciously Marxist or not, his goals in changing the country are close enough to satisfy the unabashed Marxists among us. Note the amazing number of Leftist groups described in this article. They form a shadow network of activists and radicals whose focus is to undercut democracy and capitalism, and steadily move our society into socialism and from there into a Marxist state. It sounds preposterous to say that, given the collapse of Communism in the last part of the 20th century, but that doesn't bother these people. As one of them said to me in a rally I infiltrated, the "Russians and others just didn't get it right, but this time, we will!". It was enough to make me wonder just how smart and sneaky these people were, how far they might get in their crusade to the Left. Now I don't wonder, I worry. –Del. Excerpt: Various communist and socialist groups were photographed and filmed during the October 2 “One Nation Working Together” rally in Washington, D.C. But the real controversy could be found in the fact that the Communist Party USA, a group that served as a subversive pawn of Moscow for decades, was officially invited to be part of it. The CPUSA was an official “endorsing organization” and was given space to set up a literature table by the rally organizers. Indeed, a two-page official list of “One Nation March” organizations shows that it was given a highly coveted “reserved space.”

Of missiles & money - don’t ask, won’t tell
I haven’t decided what I make of this story. Hard to believe the Chinese could get a sub in that close undetected. But the photo sure didn’t look like a contrail to me. ~Bob. Excerpt: Wednesday, November 10, 2010 A person of normal sensibilities would have to be intellectually numb, overly medicated or otherwise too preoccupied with keeping food on the table and the proverbial wolves from their door not to realize that there is something very, very wrong going on today. By now, most Americans have heard about the sighting of what appears to be a missile, and a big one at that, apparently being launched from a location about 35 miles off the coast of Los Angeles near sunset last evening. (I have been wondering about this since I saw the clip and though I still scratch my head I am inclined to accept the piece that even labels it as a UPS flight (I would not make book on this). Something else to support the contrail explanation - If the missile trajectory was generally west why do we not know where it splashed down? There was certainly enough time for the alphabet soup agencies to get their birds on the case. Additionally, there probably would have been a couple of USN CG/DD/FF warships in the SoCal Op areas that could have tracked the shot. Even if the US Gov was holding back or covering up I doubt news from recreational boats, fishing boats, academic survey ships and commercial vessels could have been suppressed this long. I seriously doubt it was a Chinese boat. They do not need to do something like that to get our attention. I think using the financial markets would be much more effective. However, North Korea or possibly Iran would be much more likely to try an in your face stunt like launching a missile in international water but close enough to be seen. It may not even have been a sub launch - it could have come out a container on a surface ship. A sub could be masked by a surface ship traveling in concert and even though SOSUS might wonder about an odd signature I am not sure we would explore the nuance even in this terrorist threat environment. I wonder about the significant volume of inbound surface traffic to the California ports. Could one of them get off the main shipping lane to pop off a missile without drawing attention? Al—Retired Navy Officer.)

Fewer Americans Want To Work: An Obamacare Success
Excerpt: It’s not that fewer Americans are searching for work. There are, to put it simply, less of us who want to work and to produce, and even among those of us who still want to work and produce, many of us are choosing to work fewer hours and to produce less. And the reason for this is simple: because of the generous federal entitlements provided in the new “Obamacare” law.

Top charities give £200,000 to group which supported al-Qaeda cleric
Even BO’s trying to kill this guy and they’re giving him money. ~Bob. Excerpt: The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust is giving Cageprisoners £170,000 in donations over three years - with the latest payment due this month - and The Roddick Foundation another £25,000. In its website, recently re-branded with some of the charities' cash, Cageprisoners carries more than 20 articles about al-Awlaki, describing him as an 'inspiration' and casting doubt on the evidence he is involved in terrorism. Awlaki is believed by Western intelligence services to be an ideological figurehead of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the group blamed for the cargo bombs. Last year he praised the Muslim US soldier who killed 13 colleagues at Fort Hood, Texas.

How the Campuses Helped Ruin California's Economy
The “Entitlement Riots” are coming. ~Bob. Excerpt: All across the country there were demonstrations on March 4 by students (and some faculty) against cuts in higher education funding, but inevitably attention focused on California, where the modern genre originated in 1964. I joined the University of California faculty in 1966 and so have watched a good many of them, but have never seen one less impressive that this year’s. In 1964 there was focus and clarity. This one was brain-dead. The former idealism and sense of purpose had degenerated into a self-serving demand for more money at a time when both state and university are broke, and one in eight California workers is unemployed. The elite intellectuals of the university community might have been expected to offer us insight into how this problem arose, and realistic measures for dealing with it. But all that was on offer was this: get more money and give it to us. Californians witnessing this must have wondered whether the money they were already providing was well spent where there was so little evidence of productive thought.

Britain's top soldier says al-Qaeda cannot be beaten
Excerpt: He said defeating Islamist militancy was "unnecessary and would never be achieved". However, he argued that it could be "contained" to allow Britons to lead secure lives. Gen Richards, 58, said the threat posed by "al-Qaeda and its affiliates" meant Britain's national security would be at risk for at least 30 years.

Dem leadership offices decry Larson's election schedule as self-serving
Excerpt: Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson (Conn.) angered other high-ranking Democrats on Friday by releasing a leadership election schedule that seemingly seals his own re-election as the first order of business. Larson, currently the fourth-ranking House Democrat, circulated an official announcement of next Wednesday’s leadership elections in which the post of caucus chairman would be decided first and the party’s only contested election, for minority whip, would be decided last.

Pelosi's new position for Clyburn to avert battle of the Dems: 'Assistant Leader'
Say, why not make all the Democrat Congress Critters “Assistant Leaders” and make them all happy? ~Bob. Excerpt: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) asked her colleagues Saturday to support Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) for "Assistant Leader," a newly created third-ranking position at the leadership table. In a letter to her fellow Democrats, Pelosi wrote "should I receive the privilege of serving as House Democratic Leader, I will be very honored to nominate our outstanding colleague, Congressman Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, to serve in the number three House Democratic position. I will also ask the Caucus to designate that position as Assistant Leader."

Boehner, Cantor vow vote to ban earmarks next Congress
Well, Obama promised to veto earmarks during his campaign. Let’s hope they mean it. ~Bob. Excerpt: The top two House Republican leaders said on Friday that they will hold a vote to ban all earmarks for the 112th Congress. Presumptive Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) and presumptive House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) announced that their GOP conference would vote next week to ban all earmarks.

Gangster government and the Gulf oil spill
Excerpt: Interior IG Mary Kendall investigated claims that the White House misrepresented the views of seven scientists who had been asked to assess the effect of a six-month moratorium on drilling in the Gulf. "After reviewing different drafts of the Executive Summary that were exchanged between DOI and the White House prior to its final issuance, the OIG determined that the White House edit of the original DOI draft Executive Summary led to the implication that the moratorium recommendation had been peer-reviewed by experts," Kendall said. White House energy czar Carol Browner was responsible for the revisions that prompted the outside scientists to protest publicly that they were being misrepresented by federal officials. The only surprise in all of this is that anybody would be surprised.


  1. Happy Monday!

    Speaker Pelosi said the lame-duck Dems will repeal the law of gravity to mitigate plane crashes.....SHOCKING details at:

    Peace! :-)

  2. Bob, thanks for the great list. You might want to add Cruel and Usual Punishment, by Nonie Darwish. This is a very scary, but excellent book by a woman who lived under Sharia Law in Egypt for her first 30 years of life. She has excellent advice for American citizens. What I take away from her book, is that Islam is an ideology of sex abuse, cruelty to women, and the primary goal of expanding the caliphate to encompass nothing short of the entire globe.