Thursday, January 20, 2011

Political Digest for January 20, 2011

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. Help your friends and relatives stay informed by passing the digest on.

Bipartisan Compromise
Now that the Democrats no longer hold complete power in the Congress, they and their lickspittle allies in the media are calling for “compromise” and “bipartisanship.” There have been a lot of famous “compromises” in history. For example: “The Missouri Compromise was an agreement passed in 1820 between the pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions in the United States Congress, involving primarily the regulation of slavery in the western territories. It prohibited slavery in the former Louisiana Territory north of the parallel 36°30' north except within the boundaries of the proposed state of Missouri.”
So there was a great compromise, right. Slavery was evil—we now all agree and wish fervently that not one slave had ever been brought to the western hemisphere, not to mention the millions of Europeans and Africans enslaved in the Muslim lands. But in the spirit of “bipartisanship and compromise,” should the free-soil Democrats and Whigs compromised with the pro-slavery Democrats? A “compromise” constitutional amendment was later proposed that would have guaranteed slavery forever in the south in exchange for keeping it out of the territories. As Ayn Rand said, “When good compromises with evil, evil always wins.”

Worth Reading: Budget Crisis Rhetoric: Part II by Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: We all know not to take politicians' rhetoric at face value. But not enough of us have yet learned not to take media rhetoric at face value either, even when it appears in what looks like a "news" story, but is actually a disguised editorial on the front page. For example, a front page story in the January 14th issue of the San Francisco Chronicle began: "From Eureka's waterfront to San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter, California's redevelopment program has transformed polluted and blighted areas across the state into thriving destination spots and commercial districts for nearly 60 years." This reads like a commercial for something -- and it is. It is a political commercial for continuing to spend taxpayer money on California's "redevelopment" programs costing billions of dollars, despite a budget crisis brought on by a record-breaking state deficit. An accompanying "news" story on an inside page of the same newspaper has a headline that says: "Cut is a Threat to Affordable Housing in S.F." The opening sentence says: "San Francisco has built thousands of affordable housing units thanks to redevelopment funds, which Gov. Jerry Brown wants to eliminate."… Where do all the customers and all the money that they spend come from to create what the San Francisco Chronicle calls "thriving destination spots and commercial districts"? They come from other places. In other words, we are not talking about creating wealth. We are talking about transferring wealth from one community to another, with no net increase -- and doing so at a cost of billions of tax dollars.

Joe Lieberman to retire in 2012
No room in either party for those who don’t toe the base line 100%. ~Bob. Excerpt: Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman (I) will not seek a fifth term in 2012, according to two Democratic sources familiar with the decision. Lieberman's office did not offer any comment on his plans, saying only that he would make an announcement tomorrow in Stamford, Conn. "The Senator's remarks tomorrow will stand on their own," said a Lieberman spokeswoman. Lieberman will be the second senator who caucuses with Democrats to make public his plans to leave the chamber in the past 24 hours. On Tuesday morning, North Dakota Sen. Kent Conrad said he would not seek a fifth term in 2012. On the Republican side, Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison announced her retirement last week.

Dallas Morning News: Health Care Tax Filing Rule Burdens Small Businesses
Excerpt: The health care law includes a provision that requires even the smallest businesses to send a 1099 form to the IRS whenever they buy more than $600 a year in goods or services from a single company or individual. Andy Ellard, who runs Manda Machine Co., a 20-employee manufacturing shop in Dallas, estimates the provision will take 160 hours of his bookkeeper's time. "It seems like in government, you don't ever look past your nose to see what's going to happen in the future," Ellard said. "Somebody says, oh, good, this is a great idea for raising $17 billion. But they don't think about all the costs involved to do things the proper way, and what a burden it is to us, especially as a small business." (They aren’t paid to think, just enforce rules and they are bureaucrats—couldn’t care less if the rules they are paid to enforce screw up the world. ~Bob.)

State budget outlook: the worst isn't over
Excerpt: That’s the good news. The bad news is that the uptick won’t be anywhere near enough to save Maryland from what will likely be the worst year yet of its current budget crisis. Even with the recent revenue growth, Maryland faces a budget shortfall for the coming fiscal year of somewhere between $1.3 billion and $1.6 billion. As a result, this year may be the first time in the current economic downturn that Maryland cuts K-12 education spending to a lower amount than it was the year before. Also for the first time, major layoffs of state workers may be coming. “This budget is going to feel a lot more painful than the last few,” Governor Martin O’Malley said in December. In most states around the country, it’s hard to imagine how the budget situation could get any worse. Over the past four years, states already have had to close more than $400 billion in budget gaps through budget cuts, tax hikes, tapping rainy day funds or borrowing. Yet as the nation’s governors and legislatures prepare to write budgets for fiscal year 2012, which for most of them begins July 1, they are bracing themselves for what is likely to be the hardest year yet in what already has been the most difficult budget period in modern history.

Has Massachusetts Experience Put ObamaCare On A Path To Repeal?
Excerpt: The new GOP majority plans to introduce a bill to repeal ObamaCare soon. What the Republicans are trying to prevent is what is already happening in Massachusetts, where a similar health care bill was enacted in April 2006. It is already imploding. Unless ObamaCare is repealed, we're on a path to Massachusetts' future. Eager politicians from former Gov. Mitt Romney to current Gov. Deval Patrick marketed Massachusetts' health care plan, like Obama's, with a series of distortions:….. Spending has exploded. Medicaid, a problem in every state, is destroying Massachusetts. The health overhaul was really Medicaid expansion, and with the rolls up nearly 25% since 2006, Massachusetts is struggling to pay the bills. The other promises turned out to be bogus as well. Despite the near-universal insurance, the state still spends $414 million on uncompensated care, an expense that Romney and his architects promised would disappear. Emergency-room use has not dropped as predicted. From 2006 to 2008, emergency room use under Mass Care increased by 9%. And private employer insurance costs, far from dropping, have continued to increase.

Obamas reap windfall in diplomatic gifts
A non-story since they don’t get to keep the largess. ~Bob. Excerpt: Foreign leaders showered President Barack Obama and his family with hundreds of thousands of dollars in art, jewelry, rare books and other presents during their first year in the White House. Saudi Arabia's king was the most generous gift-giver, according to documents released by the State Department on Tuesday. Saudi King Abdullah gave Obama, his wife and daughters nearly $190,000 in luxury baubles in 2009, including the single most valuable gift reported to have been given to U.S. officials that year: a ruby and diamond jewelry set, including earrings, a ring, a bracelet and necklace, for the first lady worth $132,000. But don't be looking for the first lady to be wearing the dazzling gems anytime soon. By law, most gifts to U.S. officials must be turned over to the government and the jewelry has already been sent to the National Archives.

22 Signs of Crushing Government Austerity
Excerpt: Over the past couple of years, most Americans have shown little concern as austerity measures were imposed on financially troubled nations across Europe. Even as austerity riots erupted in nations such as Greece and Spain, most Americans were still convinced that nothing like that could ever happen here. Well, guess what? Austerity has arrived in America. At this point, it is not a formal, mandated austerity like we have seen in Europe, but the results are just the same. Taxes are going up, services are being slashed dramatically, thousands of state and city employees are being laid off, and politicians seem to be endlessly talking about ways to make even deeper budget cuts. Unfortunately, even with the incredibly severe budget cuts that we have seen already, many state and local governments across the United States are still facing a sea of red ink as far as the eye can see. Most Americans tend to think of "government debt" as only a problem of the federal government. But that is simply not accurate. The truth is that there are thousands of "government debt problems" from coast to coast. Today, state and local government debt has reached at an all-time high of 22 percent of U.S. GDP. It is a crisis of catastrophic proportions that is not going away any time soon.

Runaway Slave Movie Teaser

How much does illegal immigration cost Georgia?
One state, not the largest. ~Bob. Excerpt: Illegal immigration costs Georgia $1.6 billion annually. The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) conducted a study to analyze the impact of illegal immigration on Georgia's economy. This 2008 study showed that illegal aliens cost the state more than $1.6 billion per year. This amount equates to $523/year per "native-born headed household." There are fiscal costs of illegal immigration but there are social costs also. In education, one of every 10 students in the K-12 public school system are the children of illegal aliens. This amounts to over 153,000 students and at a rate of $8,500 per child, Georgians spend $1.37 billion annually and an additional $81 million annually on programs for limited English students. The costs of medical care fall into two main categories: Medicaid and Emergency Room care. Although illegal aliens are not eligible for Medicaid, forged documents are used and the subsequent costs for healthcare amount to $111 million/year. Emergency room care costs for illegal aliens are $90 million/year. The total healthcare costs are $210 million each year. The costs to incarcerate deportable illegal aliens in Georgia's state and local prisons amount to approximate $22.6 million/year at an approximate cost of $18,853 per prisoner.

The Slow-Motion Exodus of European Jews
Excerpt: Do Jews have a future in an increasingly Muslim Europe? Often explored by Daniel Pipes, this question recently drew a disconcerting answer from prominent Dutch politician Frits Bolkestein, who opined on the grim choices facing visible (e.g., Orthodox) Jews in his nation: The former EU commissioner says there is no future for this group in the Netherlands because of "the anti-Semitism among Dutchmen of Moroccan descent, whose numbers keep growing." He feels that this group of Jews should encourage their children to emigrate to either the United States or Israel, because he has little confidence in the effectiveness of the government's proposals for fighting anti-Semitism. Bolkestein's remarks echo those of Benjamin Jacobs, the country's chief rabbi, who told Arutz Sheva in 2010 that "the future for Dutch Jewry is moving to Israel." Indeed, some Jews are acting. The same news service reported in December that the son of Raphael Evers, another leading Dutch rabbi, "has announced plans to move to Israel due to anti-Semitism": "It's not that you can't leave the house, but you need to constantly hide, to be careful," he explained. He related his own cautionary measures, which include avoiding certain neighborhoods, and hiding his kippah (yalmulke) when walking through areas with a high number of Muslim immigrants. Next consider Sweden. Last month, the Simon Wiesenthal Center urged traveling Jews to exercise "extreme caution" due to "harassment of Jewish citizens in the southern city of Malmö."

California Court Strikes Down Ammunition Law!
Excerpt: In an important victory for California gun owners, the Fresno Superior Court ruled today that California's new ammunition regulation law is unconstitutional, and blocked further enforcement. The law, passed last year as AB 962, would have banned mail order ammunition sales and required all purchases of so called “handgun ammunition” to be registered. In an unwritten ruling from the bench, Judge Jeffrey Hamilton found the law unconstitutionally vague on its face and issued an injunction against its enforcement. For now, at least, mail order ammunition sales to California residents can continue, and ammunition sales need not be registered under the law.

Social Security Is in Far Worse Shape Than You Think
Excerpt: For years, politicians and policymakers have reassured the American public that the Social Security system, which sends monthly checks out to 53 million beneficiaries, is safely solvent -- and will be for decades to come. But federal spending and income data from the Treasury Department reveal that the Social Security program is already deep in the red, with outlays exceeding payroll tax revenues by $76 billion in 2010 alone. This stunning shortfall calls into question the rosy fiscal forecasts made by the Social Security Administration (SSA) about the program's future solvency. (This is today’s (19 Jan 2011) 2nd leading news story on AOL News, not anyone’s idea of a right-leaning media outlet. When even the “moderates” begin to worry.... Ron P.)

Gates Challenges Marine Corps' Mission
Not unexpected. Can’t destroy American freedom unless you first destroy freedom’s best defender. ~Bob. Excerpt: The Marine Corps is facing a historic defeat at the hands of Defense Secretary Roberts Gates, and hardly anyone inside or outside the Corps seems to grasp what is happening. On January 6, Gates disclosed a series of proposed budget cuts that included termination of an amphibious vehicle the Marines have been developing for 15 years. He said the vehicle cost too much — around $17 million per copy — and that the service therefore should extend the life of existing amphibious vehicles while searching for a more affordable replacement. Gates stressed that, “This decision does not call into question the Marines’ amphibious assault mission.”
Repealing Obamacare will increase deficit? Please
Excerpt: FROM the congressional chutzpah department: Democrats say Republicans will balloon the deficit by repealing the new trillion-dollar federal health care program.
There's nothing wrong with your eyes: Dems claim that retracting Obamacare, which will spend about $1 trillion over the next decade, will add $230 billion to the deficit between by 2021. They cite a Congressional Budget Office analysis, but it's an inside-the-Beltway shell game. Watch closely. First, savings credited to Obamacare are based on data given to CBO numbers crunchers by the program's proponents. CBO can only run estimates with the data it receives. Garbage in, garbage out. Only if you believe Obamacare is going to save money — as it adds 32 million people to the insurance rolls — would repealing the program increase the deficit. The idea that Obamacare will save money is crazy.

Why We're a Divided Nation
Excerpt: The lesson here is that the prime feature of political decision-making is that it's a zero-sum game. One person's gain is of necessity another person's loss. As such, political allocation of resources is conflict-enhancing, while market allocation is conflict-reducing. The greater the number of decisions made in the political arena, the greater the potential for conflict.

Why We Still Heart Sarah Palin
Excerpt: No one is saying Sarah Palin doesn’t make the odd gaffe. But no matter how many gaffes she makes – and this won’t be the last – it isn’t going to alter the fact that President Obama is a socialist and his administration a crazy house of eco-loons, crypto-Marxists, progressives, collectivists, surrender monkeys and anarcho-lesbian harpies. Nor that Sarah Palin remains the figurehead for the counter-revolution.

A False Truce in Obama’s War on Business
Excerpt: In fiscal year 2010, the first full fiscal year under the Obama Administration, the federal government issued 43 major new regulations. According to the Administration’s own estimates, the total cost of these rules was $28 billion. Only two of the new rules reduced measured regulatory costs, and then by only $1.5 billion. On net, the Obama Administration inflicted $26.5 billion in new regulatory costs on the economy last year, an all-time record. This was on top of the $1.75 trillion in existing regulatory costs already inflicted on the U.S. economy by the federal government. No wonder the business community, large and small, felt it was under attack. But now that the President has been “shellacked” at the polls, and unemployment is over 9 percent for a post–World War II record 20th month in a row, the Obama Administration is desperate to convince the public that their war on business is over. Hence President Barack Obama’s Wall Street Journal op-ed yesterday announcing “a government-wide review of the rules already on the books to remove outdated regulations that stifle job creation and make our economy less competitive.” This is a nice sentiment. But even a cursory examination of the President’s actual order shows he is all talk and no action.

Our Anglophobic President
Excerpt: Whatever the cause of President Obama’s anti-British outlook, its result — namely, a fatigued partnership across the pond — is more concerning. On the eve of the G20 summit in Pittsburgh, former UK premier Gordon Brown’s requests — no fewer than five, according to aides — for a meeting with President Obama were rebuffed. During that same period, the president held meetings with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Chinese President Hu Jintao and Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama. Even when Obama has been unfaithful, America’s compatriots across the Atlantic have held up their side of the bargain. England’s steadfast commitment to the special relationship forged decades earlier has been no where more evident than her cooperation in America’s war on terror. Like candidate Obama, who once called the Afghan front the “war we need to win,” the Brits appreciated the necessity of the military incursion, realizing the promise Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher made to Ronald Reagan three decades ago: “Your problems will be our problems and when you look for friends we shall be there.”

Deep Layoffs Hit Struggling N.J. City
My hometown, Collingswood, is right next door. ~Bob. Excerpt: CAMDEN, N.J. | Some firefighters turned in their helmets and police officers their badges Tuesday as part of deep municipal layoffs destined to further erode the quality of life in Camden, already one of the nation's most impoverished and crime-ridden cities. About 335 workers, representing one-sixth of the local government work force, lost their jobs, according to Mayor Dana Redd. It was worst in the public safety departments, where nearly half the police force and close to one-third of the city's firefighters were laid off. Laid-off firefighters walked eight blocks together from the police union hall to Fire Department headquarters, snaking past City Hall, then lined up their helmets in front of the building, picked them back up and started to turn them in along with their other gear. "It's one of the worst days in the history of Camden," said Ken Chambers, president of the firefighters union. Miss Redd blamed the public safety employee cuts on their unions, saying they have not been willing to make job-saving concessions or accept the reality that the state government will no longer bail out the city as it has for the past two generations.

George Washington Boxed Up and hidden by NAACP for MLK Event

Stuxnet Authors Made Several Basic Errors
Excerpt: ARLINGTON, VA--There is a growing sentiment among security researchers that the programmers behind the Stuxnet attack may not have been the super-elite cadre of developers that they've been mythologized to be in the media. In fact, some experts say that Stuxnet could well have been far more effective and difficult to detect had the attackers not made a few elementary mistakes. In a talk at the Black Hat DC conference here Tuesday, Tom Parker, a security consultant, presented a compelling case that Stuxnet may be the product of a collaboration between two disparate groups, perhaps a talented group of programmers that produced most of the code and exploits and a less sophisticated group that may have adapted the tool for its eventual use. Parker analyzed the code in Stuxnet and looked at both the quality of the code itself as well as how well it did what it was designed to do, and found several indications that the code itself is not very well done, but was still highly effective on some levels. Parker wrote a tool that analyzed similarities between the Stuxnet code and the code of some other well-known worms and applications and found that the code was fairly low quality. However, he also said that there was very little chance that one person could have put the entire attack together alone.

Heritage Minister orders Library and Archives Canada to show controversial film
Standing up for freedom of Speech after threats from “the Religion of Peace.” ~Bob. Excerpt: Heritage Minister James Moore has instructed Library and Archives Canada to show the documentary film Iranium after “threats of violence” caused a screening of the film Tuesday to be cancelled, the minister’s office has announced. Both Mr. Moore and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney had earlier criticized Library and Archives, a federal Crown agency, for cancelling the screening. “The principle of free speech is one of the cornerstones of our democracy,” MR. Moore’s office said in a prepared statement. “Minister Moore took action as soon as he heard that the film was cancelled. The minister has instructed the Library and Archives to honour their commitment to show the film, while taking all appropriate steps to ensure security. Canada does not accept attempts from the Iranian Embassy to dictate what films will, and will not be shown in Canada.”

Iranium the Movie

Ibis hotels host islamic extremists' conference, despite protests
Excerpt: A conference by anti-gay Islamic preachers went ahead at a London hotel last weekend, despite protests from human rights campaigners….. The iERA has featured Muslim fundamentalist preachers who advocate the criminalisation of homosexuality and even the death penalty for same-sex acts. They argue that it is necessary to execute gays to keep society pure.

“Captured: America in Color from 1939-1943”
You think things are tough today? Not yet. ~Bob.

High-speed rail is a fast way to waste taxpayer money
Excerpt: Where can the new Congress start cutting spending? Here's one obvious answer: high-speed rail. The Obama administration is sending billions of stimulus dollars around the country for rail projects that make no sense and that, if they are ever built, will be a drag on taxpayers indefinitely. When incoming Govs. Scott Walker of Wisconsin and John Kasich of Ohio canceled high-speed rail projects, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood refused to let them spend the dollars on other forms of transportation and sent the funds instead to California and other states.

Recall donations followed buses
Excerpt: The day after controversy erupted about busing homeless voters to the polls, the group trying to recall Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle hit pay dirt….. Forward Omaha has reported 13 donations of $1,000 or more since Jan. 10, but only three of those came after Jan. 13, when the group bused homeless people to the Douglas County election office to vote early and paid some of them $5 for get-out-the-vote training. Two of those three donations came from unions, the Communications Workers of America and the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades. Suttle's separate mayoral campaign committee, also active in opposing the recall, raised almost $30,000 from 15 donors. The Nebraska Leadership PAC, a Democratic Party committee, gave $5,000, as did the Ironworkers union and former World-Herald publisher John Gottschalk.

Shelter's objections went unheeded
Caution—Demo-corrupts at work. ~Bob. Excerpt: When campaign workers called the Open Door Mission and asked if they could load up homeless people and drive them to the election office — with the promise of $5 and a job — they were told “no” two days in a row. It appeared to be an attempt to “exploit” the homeless and it was wrong, said Candace Gregory, head of the Open Door Mission. The refusals, however, didn't stop Forward Omaha from sending three buses to the homeless shelter Wednesday and loading up about 10 men before a staff member with the shelter intervened, Gregory said. “Our program director did go on the bus and explain to the men that this was actually unethical and inappropriate, and you shouldn't be told you're going to get something for voting,” said Gregory. Gregory said she also questioned the campaign's promise of a job. The homeless people were told they could receive $10 an hour canvassing neighborhoods if they successfully completed a training program.

1 comment:

  1. Regarding bureaucrats: While the elected officials may occasionally get booted out, the bureaucrats go on forever!