Thursday, February 10, 2011

Political Digest for February 10, 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.

Important and scary: Easy Money and the Decapitalization of America
Excerpt: The Federal Reserve is supposed to be a monetary servant, but its masters in the general public don't seem to be able to control it. Its actions keep distorting returns in the economy and creating bubble after bubble. Since past expansionary monetary policies led to bubbles, we should expect the even more expansionary policies pursued since the onset of the current financial crisis to produce new bubbles, and this is exactly what we find. Within the United States there are at least three very obvious bubbles currently in full swing, each fuelled by the flood of cheap money: Treasury bonds, financial stocks, and junk bonds. We can be confident that these bubbles will come to unpleasant ends like their predecessors, but on a potentially much grander scale. The bubbles will then burst in quick succession. We have to consider also the nontrivial knock-on effects: the Treasuries collapse will trigger an immediate financing crisis for governments at all levels, and especially for the federal government, one that will likely involve the downgrading of its AAA credit rating, and so further intensify the government's by-then already chronic financing problems. Nor should we forget that these financial tsunamis are likely to overwhelm the Federal Reserve itself: the Fed has a highly leveraged balance sheet that would do any aggressive hedge fund proud; it too will therefore suffer horrendous losses and is likely to become insolvent. The events of the last three years will then look like a picnic. There is also the problem of resurgent inflation

Tossing Britain Under the Bus
Excerpt: On Friday February 4th, British newspaper The Telegraph published what is arguably one of the most damning indictments of the Obama administration — or any American administration — in modern history. According to a Wikileaks document release obtained by the paper, a "series of classified messages sent to Washington by US negotiators show how information on Britain's nuclear capability was crucial to securing Russia's support for the 'New START' deal." In a word, that's outrageous. What's just as outrageous? As I write this column 24 hours later, not a single, major American media organization has reported the story. This then is the state of America: we are being held in the abominable grip of an administration which no longer even makes even a cursory attempt to hide its New World Order, Marxist ambitions. It is one for which the "special relationship" this country has maintained with our British cousins for the better part of two centuries, through two devastating World Wars, right up to their commitment as our staunchest ally in the war against global jihdism, can now be tossed under the bus. This betrayal is apparently an integral part of the so-called "reset button" by which this administration pursues a fantasy whose ostensible destination, a "nuclear-free" world, is nothing more than a facade. The real destination? The abdication of U.S. supremacy in world where very passing day reveals the utter stupidity of progressive determination to make this country "one of the bunch," instead of the leader of the free world.

Sen. James Webb won't run for reelection in 2012
I’m not surprised. Webb is one of the most admired Marine veterans of Vietnam with the medals to prove it. Because of my admiration and awe for him, I supported him financially in 2006, but I’ve been disappointed in his willingness to go along with Harry Reid and company. I think it finally choked him. He sent me a fund raising e-mail last year. I responded that as a Marine, I wasn’t fit to shine his boots, but that I couldn’t again support a Reid supporter. ~Bob. Excerpt: Sen. James Webb (D-Va.) has announced that he will not run for reelection in 2012. Webb's decision, long anticipated by many in Virginia politics, will make his seat more difficult to hold for his party. Ex-Sen George Allen (R), who lost the seat in 2006 to Webb, is running to win it back, and a handful of other GOP candidates are also running. Jamie Radtke (R), former chairwoman of the Virginia Tea Party Patriots Federation, is also running for the seat. Some Democrats hope ex-Gov. Tim Kaine will decide to run for the seat, but he has given no indication yet that he is interested.

Jim Webb's retirement (and what it means)
Excerpt: Virginia Sen. Jim Webb's decision not to seek re-election creates an open seat in traditionally Republican territory that could further tilt the map in the GOP's favor as they aim to win back the Senate in 2012. Webb's announcement, which came this morning in the form of a statement from his office, was not terribly surprising to Democratic observers who had long believed that the Senator was a toss up -- at best -- to run for a second term. "This seat is going to flip," predicted one veteran Democratic operative familiar with the Commonwealth's politics. "The bench is so shallow." Webb is the third Democratic (or Democratic-affiliated) Senator to call it quits already this year, joining Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Kent Conrad (N.D.) on the sidelines. Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison is the lone Republican to announce she will not seek re-election in 2012. While holding the Connecticut seat should pose limited problems -- if any -- for Democrats, both Virginia and North Dakota have deep Republican roots and will be major targets for Republicans in 2012. The open seats in Virginia and North Dakota -- when coupled with the fact that there are 23 Democratic seats up this cycle as compared to just 10 for Republicans -- paint a stark portrait of the challenge before Democrats to hold their majority next November.

Some of us shouldn't be homeowners
Excerpt: The Great Recession brought plumes of new laws and regulations, raining down like suffocating volcanic ash on just about every aspect of America's financial sector, except for one. That's the one that caused the housing bubble and its explosion: The Community Reinvestment Act and related government policies that encouraged lenders to write mortgages to people who couldn't afford them. America ended up racking up 27 million mortgages valued at $4.5 trillion that were subprime or risky, many of them ready to default at the economy's slightest hiccup. Astonishingly, the CRA remains on the books, still diverting portions of its lending resources to families that can't afford mortgages.

Republican lawmaker compares defunding health law to Vietnam
What goes around….but Democrats could point out that shutting off funds to The Republic of Vietnam caused it to collapse, and led to twice as many deaths in the first two years afterwards as during the long war. But they might not want to bring that up, with the media still saying the military lost the war in Vietnam. ~Bob. Excerpt: Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) says to defund the healthcare law, his party should use the precedent set by House Democrats some three decades ago in cutting off funding for the Vietnam War. "We should follow the model of the appropriations bill that shut off the funding for the Vietnam War," King told a crowd of Tea Party activists at a town hall forum in Washington on Tuesday night. "It went back to any money that was in the pipeline. That precedent is there."

Patriot Act extension fails in the House by seven votes
Excerpt: House Republicans suffered an embarrassing setback Tuesday when they fell seven votes short of extending provisions of the Patriot Act, a vote that served as the first small uprising of the party's tea-party bloc. The bill to reauthorize key parts of the counter-terrorism surveillance law, which expire at the end of the month, required a super-majority to pass under special rules reserved for non-controversial measures. But it fell short of the required two-thirds after 26 Republicans bucked their leadership, eight of them freshman lawmakers elected in November's midterm elections. With most Democrats opposing the extension, the final tally was 277 members in favor of extension, and 148 opposed.

Cold truths about electric cars' cold-weather shortcomings
The New Government Motors Coal-Powered Volt! Get one now before the price goes down. ~Bob. Excerpt: Count me among the many thousands of Washington area residents who spent Wednesday night stuck in traffic as a snowstorm sowed chaos all around us. Being car-bound in sub-freezing weather for six hours can make a guy think. I counted my blessings. The situation could have been worse, I realized: My fellow commuters and I could have been trying to make it home in electric cars, like the ones President Obama is constantly promoting, most recently in his State of the Union address.
It is a basic fact of physical science that batteries run down more quickly in cold weather than they do in warm weather, and the batteries employed by vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf or the Chevy Volt are no exception.

Government Guarantee for Housing Is Bad Idea
Excerpt: There are many possible ways to reform the U.S. housing finance system, but any explicit government guarantee for housing would be a tragic mistake. It would repeat the errors of history by putting taxpayers and the housing industry itself at risk, says Anthony Randazzo, director of economic research at the Reason Foundation. In his new study, "Ten Arguments against a Government Guarantee for Housing Finance," Randazzo says: Government guarantees always underprice risk in order to provide a subsidy for lending. Guarantees eventually create instability. Guarantees inflate housing prices by distorting the allocation of capital investments. Guarantees degrade underwriting standards over time. Guarantees are not necessary to ensure capitalization of the housing market.

Calls for Professional Licensing Spread
Excerpt: Amid calls for shrinking government, cat groomers, tattoo artists, tree trimmers and about a dozen other specialists across the country are clamoring for more rules governing small businesses, says the Wall Street Journal. They're asking to become state-licensed professionals, which would mean anyone wanting to be, say, a music therapist or a locksmith, would have to pay fees, apply for a license and in some cases, take classes and pass exams. The hope is that regulation will boost the prestige of their professions, provide oversight and protect consumers from shoddy work. But economists -- and workers shut out of fields by educational requirements or difficult exams -- say licensing mostly serves as a form of protectionism, allowing veterans of the trade to box out competitors who might undercut them on price or offer new services. While some states have long required licensing for workers who handle food or touch others -- caterers and hair stylists, for example -- economists say such regulation is spreading to more states for more industries, says the Journal. In 2008, 23 percent of U.S. workers were required to obtain state licenses, up from just 5 percent in 1950. In the mid-1980s, about 800 professions were licensed in at least one state; today, at least 1,100 are. Among the professions licensed by one or more states: florists, interior designers, private detectives, hearing-aid fitters, conveyor-belt operators and retailers of frozen desserts. At a time of widespread anxiety about the growth of government, the licensing push is meeting pockets of resistance, including a move by some legislators to require a more rigorous cost-benefit analysis before any new licensing laws are approved. Critics say such regulation spawns huge bureaucracies including rosters of inspectors. They also say licensing requirements -- which often include pricey educations -- can prohibit low-income workers from breaking in to entry-level trades. (Every profession is a conspiracy against the laity. George Bernard Shaw.)

Leviathan: The government payroll is longer than you might think.
Excerpt: Over the next few years, even before 9/11, the true size of government increased significantly, almost all in the “shadow” sector. By 2005, the federal government employed 14.6 million people: 1.9 million civil servants, 770,000 postal workers, 1.44 million uniformed service personnel, 7.6 million contractors, and 2.9 million grantees. This amounted to a ratio of five and a half “shadow” government employees for every civil servant on the federal payroll. Since 1999, the government had grown by over 4.5 million employees. Professor Light’s figures are from 2006, but there can be little doubt that the size of the federal government has increased still further since. There are those new contractors and grantees working on “stimulus” projects to add. Then there are the employees of bailed-out and partially nationalized firms:

The Whooping Cough’s Unnecessary Return
Excerpt: Parental concerns about vaccine safety are mostly wrongheaded. Plaintiffs’ lawyers, eager to translate junk science into jury awards, have long spread misinformation about the dangers of vaccination. They’ve been especially successful among the affluent and well-educated, presumably because those groups have greater access to vaccine pseudoscience. Last October, the National Committee for Quality Assurance issued a report finding that vaccination rates among privately insured two-year-olds declined by nearly 4 percent in 2009—even as rates among enrollees in Medicaid, the government-run insurance program for low-income families, increased. In fact, 91.2 percent of children in Medicaid received the measles-mumps-rubella vaccination, compared with 90.6 percent of children in private plans. In California’s wealthy Marin County, public health official Fred Schwartz reports that parents are “signing waivers to opt out of immunizing kindergarten-bound children.” About 7 percent of all children entering kindergarten in Marin County are unvaccinated, the seventh-highest percentage among California’s 58 counties. It isn’t surprising, then, that Marin County accounts for 15 percent of all California whooping-cough cases, despite having just 0.67 percent of the state’s population.

Quotes from The Patriot Post
"I think all the world would gain by setting commerce at perfect liberty." --Thomas Jefferson, revered as the founder of the Democrat Party.

"[T]he Hawaii House is considering legislation that would outlaw the sale of toy guns to minors. Apparently some kids use these guns to spray other youngsters with dangerous dihydrogen monoxide. It seems to us this is a wrongheaded policy, not to mention a violation of the Second Amendment. Remember, squirt guns don't squirt squirts, squirts squirt squirts." --Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto.

The Real 'Realism' on Israel
Excerpt: One of the few things that critics and friends of Israel can agree on is that Israel is different, a special sort of nation representing a special idea. That's true whether you subscribe to the heroic narrative, popularized by Leon Uris, of Israel's birth or the sadly more familiar anti-colonialist fable so popular among the campus left and the anti-Israel industry. This is especially so for America's so-called realists. Whether they are sympathetic to Israel or scornful, they are convinced U.S. support for Israel fuels hatred and instability. Hence their obsession with the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

A Killer Agency By Walter E. Williams
Excerpt: Sam Kazman's "Drug Approvals and Deadly Delays" article in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (Winter 2010), tells a story about how the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's policies have led to the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans. Let's look at how it happens. During the FDA's drug approval process, it confronts the possibility of two errors. If the FDA approves a drug that turns out to have unanticipated, dangerous side effects, people will suffer. Similarly, if the FDA denies or delays the marketing of a perfectly safe and beneficial drug, people will also suffer. Both errors cause medical harm. Kazman argues that from a political point of view, there's a huge difference between the errors. People who are injured by incorrectly approved drugs will know that they are victims of FDA mistakes. Their suffering makes headlines. FDA officials face unfavorable publicity and perhaps congressional hearings. It's an entirely different story for victims of incorrect FDA drug delays or denials. These victims are people who are prevented access to drugs that could have helped them. Their suffering or death is seen as reflecting the state of medicine rather than the status of an FDA drug application. Their doctor simply tells them there's nothing more that can be done to help them.

Excerpt: Barack Obama has said on numerous occasions that if you make less than $200,000 he wants the government to look after you, but if you make more than that you’re on your own and can fend for yourself. Okay, I know those weren’t his exact words. But it’s a reasonable approximation. Now consider this. What if we lived in a world where the average family earned more than $200,000? What if almost every family earned more than $200,000? I’ll tell you in a moment why it’s reasonable to speculate this way and why it’s relevant for current public policy. First, I want to consider the implications of almost everybody being rich. For one thing, we could forget the funding problems of Social Security and Medicare. People who are rich can take care of themselves. In fact, without too much trouble we could cut the federal budget in half. We could eliminate the federal debt in fairly short order. Then we could cut everyone’s federal taxes in half. We wouldn’t need ObamaCare. There would be no appealing argument for card check. In fact, other than some environmental goals, the entire Obama domestic policy agenda would become unnecessary, superfluous and undesirable. Indeed, from the Obama administration’s point of view, if everyone were rich there would be almost nothing for government to do! Have I got your attention? Okay, now I’ll tell you why this is not a pipe dream. (But we are destroying the free market system that made the income growth possible. ~Bob.)

Nguyen Minh Chau – Distinguished Vietnamese Comrade-in-Arms
Great story. ~Bob.

CIA Officers Made Grave Mistakes, Then Got Promoted
Excerpt: In December 2003, security forces boarded a bus in Macedonia and snatched a German citizen named Khaled el-Masri. For the next five months, el-Masri was a ghost. Only a select group of CIA officers knew he had been whisked to a secret prison for interrogation in Afghanistan. But he was the wrong guy. A hard-charging CIA analyst had pushed the agency into one of the biggest diplomatic embarrassments of the U.S. war on terrorism. Yet despite recommendations by an internal review, the analyst was never punished. In fact, she has risen to one of the premier jobs in the CIA's Counterterrorism Center, helping lead President Barack Obama's efforts to disrupt al-Qaida. (No surprise here; so goes government bureaucracy. Mike)

Marijuana use may hasten schizophrenia, psychosis
Excerpt: Cannabis use in young people precipitates schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders earlier than their non-pot smoking peers, according to researchers at Australia's University of New South Wales. Evidence suggests that psychotic illnesses begin at a younger age among marijuana users than among those who do not take the psychotropic drug, according to the Australian study. Medical researchers involved in the New South Wales project say they conducted a comprehensive analysis of 83 studies involving 8,167 participants who used cannabis or other mind-altering substances and 14,352 who did not. Each of the studies compared the age at the onset of psychosis among the two groups. According to the researchers, they discovered that pot smokers developed psychosis approximately 3 years younger than those who did not use marijuana or its active ingredient THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol).

Justice Dept. charges 4 with insider trading at hedge funds
Excerpt: On Nov. 20, after reading reports about a federal probe of insider trading, hedge fund manager Samir Barai allegedly sent a BlackBerry message to a colleague with some blunt instructions: Go to the office and "Shred as much as u can," "Put all ur data files onto an encrypted drive," and "delete all e-mails" from two particular contacts. Those communications and others are at the heart of insider trading and obstruction of justice charges the government announced Tuesday in a widening investigation of hedge funds and firms that feed them research.

Unauthorized Immigrant Population: National and State Trends, 2010
Excerpt: The number of unauthorized immigrants in the nation’s workforce, 8 million in March 2010, also did not differ from the Pew Hispanic Center estimate for 2009. As with the population total, the number of unauthorized immigrants in the labor force had decreased in 2009, from its peak of 8.4 million in 2007. The number of children born to at least one unauthorized-immigrant parent in 2009 was 350,000, essentially the same as it was a year earlier. An analysis of the year of entry of unauthorized immigrant parents of babies born in 2009 indicates that 61% arrived before 2004, 30% arrived from 2004 to 2007, and 9% arrived from 2008 to 2010. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, unauthorized immigrants made up 3.7% of the nation’s population and 5.2% of its labor force in March 2010. Births to unauthorized immigrant parents accounted for 8% of newborns from March 2009 to March 2010, according to the center’s estimates, which are based mainly on data from the government’s Current Population Survey.

Russian (JIHADI) militant claims airport attack
Excerpt: The leader of Islamist militants in Russia's North Caucasus on Tuesday claimed the attack at Moscow's main airport that killed 36 people and issued a chilling warning of more suicide strikes to come.

Bam's blue dog sham: Centrists fall to prez's spin
Excerpt: What to make of the news that the "centrist" Democratic Leadership Council -- the vehicle that helped propel Bill Clinton to the presidency in 1992 -- is suspending operations as it ponders an uncertain future? Conventional wisdom says that the DLC, which favored more business-friendly policies in order to make the party appealing to corporate contributors, could no longer compete in a hyperpartisan political environment. Or that the rabid Howard Dean/Daily Kos "Netroots" wing of the party simply overwhelmed its message. Or that in the age of Obama, as Clinton has faded, Hillary has vanished into the swamps of Foggy Bottom and Council favorite Joe Lieberman has chosen retirement, the DLC was just a dodo bird. The truth is somewhat different: The DLC lost its political influence and donors because, as part of his well-choreographed and thoroughly dishonest "creep" to the center, President Obama and his media flunkies have co-opted its image and message -- without the slightest intention of implementing its philosophy.

Excerpt: Pretty scary stuff, huh? But haven’t we heard this all before? “Gee, this is some crazy weather we’ve been having.” I’m old enough to remember some pretty darn extreme weather, like Hurricane Camille, a monster Cat 5 storm that devastated the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 1969. There was the Super Tornado Outbreak of April, 1974: a complex of 148 twisters that spun across hundreds of mile of the Midwest, killing 148, injuring 5,300, and wiping the town of Xenia, OH off the map. And lest we forget the record cold winter of 1977-78, when natural gas supplies ran low. Many of our impressions of current extreme weather conditions have to do with the fact that 1) they’re fresh in our memories; 2) we have better communications and 3) higher population densities than in times past. Complaining about extreme weather is part of the human condition. Let’s take a stroll down memory lane with The New York Times, all the way back to 1888: (great links to past NYT weather scare stories. ~Bob.)

New German Freedom Party leader: "We criticise the socio-political component of Islam, which I see as an ideological one similar to other totalitarian systems, and which I think is dangerous"
Excerpt: I met Rene Stadtkewitz when I spoke in Berlin for Pax Europa in 2009. He is a stand-up guy. And of course he is quite correct when he says that "Islam is far more than a religion. It's an entire model of society that is incredibly binding for many people. It's basically a political system with its own legal system that seeks to regulate all aspects of life." Islamic spokesmen in the West say that all the time, and no one minds. Only when a non-Muslim like Stadtkewitz says it does it become "Islamophobic."

This One Is Egypt's to Lose
Excerpt: Those Americans who know which Republican will win next year's Iowa caucuses can complain about those who did not know that when a Tunisian street vendor set himself on fire, he would set a region afire. From all other Americans, forbearance would be seemly. It also would be amazing, because there is a cottage industry of Barack Obama critics who, not content with monitoring his myriad mistakes in domestic policies, insist that there must be a seamless connection of those with his foreign policy. Strangely, these critics, who correctly doubt the propriety and capacity of the U.S. government controlling our complex society, simultaneously fault the government for not having vast competence to shape the destinies of other societies. Such critics persist because, as Upton Sinclair wrote in 1935, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it." America has one source of leverage over Egyptian events -- the close relations between that nation's military leadership and America's, including the material dependence of the former on U.S. assistance. But saying that Egypt's military is the nation's most impressive institution constitutes faint praise. Can Egypt's soldiers fine-tune a whirlwind? It is largely forgotten that when Mikhail Gorbachev began contemplating reform of the Soviet Union -- before things spun out of control, as they have a way of doing -- he imagined only a more efficient communism still administered by a one-party state. Today, residual sentimentality about him obscures the fact that real multiparty pluralism was not in his original plans. And two decades later, it still is not in Russia's foreseeable future.

Friend of Shariah
Excerpt: Like ordinary folks, presidents of the United States are known by the company they keep. It is a test of their character. Often it shapes their policies. And, in the case of Barack Obama, it may blight his legacy and our nation’s security interests…..President Obama’s trusted circle has been, if anything, even more problematic. For example, Mr. Obama has consorted with people who are revolutionaries, communists, liberation theologians and Islamists. Some have even been appointed “czars” in his administration. At the moment, though, we must be concerned not only with who Barack Obama considers his friends, but with those who deem him to be one of theirs: The record suggests he must be seen as a “Friend of Shariah.” How else can we explain the seeming inconsistency between, on the one hand, the president’s indifference to demonstrations in Iran last year that were vastly larger and more sustained than those to date in Egypt, and, on the other, his insistence after a week’s worth of protests in the latter that there be nothing less than complete “regime change,” starting immediately?

Buildings Ablaze in Protest in Central Java
Ah, yes, “moderate” Indonesia. ~Bob. Excerpt: Roving mobs of Muslims on Tuesday attacked and vandalized five buildings, including two churches, in the small Central Java town of Temanggung following the sentencing of a man on trial for contempt of Islam. Judges at the district court in Temanggung on Tuesday sentenced Antonius Richmord Bawengan, 58, to five years in jail, as the prosecutors had requested. The verdict angered members of hard-line Islamic groups, who thought it was too lenient, setting off the spasm of violence. Two churches, a school and two police stations were vandalized by the mobs and a number of cars and motorcycles were set on fire. Nine people were injured in the violence, most by thrown stones, police said. The defendant and the judges and prosecutors had to be rushed out of the courtroom by police officers after hundred of people rushed toward them amid shouts of “Allahu Akbar” after the verdict was announced.

Donald Rumsfeld Condemns False Newsweek Story on Koran Flushing: You Can't Apologize to the Dead
Excerpt: Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld appeared on Tuesday's Hannity and recounted the harm Newsweek did in 2005 with a false report about U.S. soldiers flushing a Koran down the toilet at Guantanamo Bay. Discussing the story with host Sean Hannity, he complained, "Later [Newsweek] said 'if part of our story wasn't correct, we apologize.' Of course, the people they were apologizing to were dead. Now, how does that happen?" 15 people died in rioting resulting from the article. Rumsfeld lamented, "Well, I suppose people want to be first instead of accurate and that's too bad."

20 stupidest quotes from politicians
Bi-partisan hits. ~Bob.

California taxes away jobs while Texas adds them
Excerpt: While many states have been struggling through the economic downturn, there's been a giant neon sign hanging over Texas that says "OPEN FOR BUSINESS." In 2008, 70 percent of all the jobs in the country were created in Texas. In 2009, all of America's top five job-creating cities were in Texas. More recently, "Texas created 129,000 new jobs in the last year -- over one-half of all the new jobs in the U.S. In contrast, California lost 112,000 jobs during the same period," according to "Texas vs. California: Economic growth prospects for the 21st Century," a new report by the Texas Public Policy Foundation released in October. Texas is home to 64 Fortune 500 companies -- more than any other state in the union. (California has 51 and New York has 56.) For five years in a row, Texas has topped Chief Executive magazine's poll of the best state to do business. Meanwhile, California is ranked dead last in the Chief Executive's survey.
Excerpt: States and municipalities around the country are struggling to tighten their fiscal belts, but few cities face as stark a choice as the hard-luck southern New Jersey city of Camden. One of America's most dangerous cities, Camden seeks to close a $26.5 million budget hole by laying off one-quarter of its city government workers -- including half of its police force. In an austerity plan that went into effect last month, the city laid off 180 uniformed officers and 20 police dispatchers from its 375-strong force. Camden expects to save $14 million, but there is growing alarm that the city, one of the country's poorest and most violent, will wind up paying a much higher price for its budget savings. …. Camden's Democratic mayor, Dana Redd, has held firm on the budget cuts. Echoing Republican Gov. Chris Christie's tough talk about fiscal responsibility, Redd has insisted that Camden has no choice but to "live within our means." Redd has also adopted Christie's confrontational stand against public-sector unions. She has placed responsibility for the layoffs -- not implausibly -- on the police union, which rejected her plan to save 100 police jobs through a pay cut in the form of unpaid furloughs. The average salary for a rank-and-file police officer in Camden, after benefits, the mayor points out, is around $140,000 a year -- in a city where more than half of the residents live below the federal poverty line. Camden's police chief, Scott Thomson, vows that the city can absorb the cuts by restructuring the police to focus more on violent crime and on street patrols. (New Jersey has also supplied state police officers to help patrol Camden for years.)

NYT continues to sink
Excerpt: The Company continues to scramble to sell assets and find new sources of borrowings in order to keep afloat. However, there seem to be few questions asked as to why the loss of readership which impacts advertisers. Over the period 2004 to 2010 the average daily circulation has dropped from 1,124,700 to 877,000 an overall decline of 22%. Certainly it could not be due their one sided and overwhelmingly left-wing approach to the news and not so subtle cheerleading for the Obama Administration and the Democratic Party which has driven many to seek comparatively unbiased news sources elsewhere such as the internet, Fox News and a few still objective newspapers.

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