Thursday, February 24, 2011

Political Digest for February 24, 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.

Pass this one on: Rhetoric versus Reality
Great short video on “civility” and the Wisconsin situation.

Two-Thirds of Wisconsin Public-School 8th Graders Can’t Read Proficiently—Despite Highest Per Pupil Spending in Midwest
How will they understand death threats from teachers against the governor if they can’t read the signs? ~Bob. Excerpt: Two-thirds of the eighth graders in Wisconsin public schools cannot read proficiently according to the U.S. Department of Education, despite the fact that Wisconsin spends more per pupil in its public schools than any other state in the Midwest.

Gov. Walker on Fake Sick Leave: State Employees will be Terminated, Doctors Investigated
Excerpt: Gov. Walker talks with Sean Hannity about the repercussions of teachers and state employees faking their sick leave with fraudulent doctor's notes. He stressed that the teachers are employees of each individual district and the superintendents can determine what action to take. But state employees are under the governor's jurisdiction.

Great video from Ford about vets

Good column: The city wanted a strongman — and it got one
Excerpt: Yet no matter what you call him, no matter what you think of him, by winning Tuesday's election without a messy runoff, Rahm Emanuel is boss of Chicago. He'll govern that way. It's what was sold. It's what is expected. The thing is, he's smarter than the old boss, more talented, skillful, adept, more focused. If one of Rahm's relatives ever receives $70 million in City Hall pension funds to invest in a real estate deal, he won't be able to say that he didn't know what was going on. No one would believe him. Rahm will begin making moves almost immediately, what with the city's finances in disastrous shape. And he will change minds. This is no game. And becoming mayor of Chicago isn't his last stop. It's one of his first. Rahm's last stop might just be back in the White House, but not as another chief of staff. Don't think it hasn't crossed his mind…. What Tuesday's victory prevents is outside examination of the City Hall books. That lack of scrutiny is what Mayor Richard Daley wanted, after two decades of spending Chicago into near-bankruptcy with all that cronyism and favoritism. Emanuel's victory completes an interesting switcheroo, with Rich Daley announcing his retirement, Rahm stepping down as White House chief of staff, and mayoral brother Billy Daley stepping into Rahm's old job.

Indiana Dem chair confirms: Dems have fled statehouse to stall anti-union push
No one is surprised to find Democrats deserting the post of duty. Wait them out. ~Bob. Excerpt: It's spreading. Democratic state legislators in Indiana have fled the statehouse in an effort to stall anti-union legislation being pushed by Republicans, and they are saying they won't come back until the offending provisions are taken off the table, the Indiana Democratic Party chair confirms in an interview with me. Indiana Dem chair Dan Parker confirmed an anonymously sourced report in the Indianapolis Star claiming that House Dems had fled the statehouse to protest a GOP bill that would "bar unions and companies from negotiating a contract that requires non-union members to kick-in fees for representation," which would limit collective bargaining. "Republicans have decided to bring their Wisconsin assault to Indiana, and we're not going to just sit around and take it," Parker told me, confirming that Dems went "into caucus last night and they remain in caucus today." That phrase means they are "not returning to the floor," he said.

Indiana Democrats trigger Statehouse showdown over anti-union legislation
Excerpt: Seats on one side of the Indiana House were nearly empty today as House Democrats departed the state rather than vote on anti-union legislation. A source tells the Indianapolis Star that Democrats are headed to Illinois, though it was possible some also might go to Kentucky. They need to go to a state with a Democratic governor to avoid being taken into police custody and returned to Indiana. The House came into session twice this morning, with only three of the 40 Democrats present. Those were needed to make a motion, and a seconding motion, for any procedural steps Democrats would want to take to ensure Republicans don’t do anything official without quorum. (The headline seems to have nothing to do with the story. The cowards know there can be no “showdown” if only one side shows up. The now-minority Dems don’t dare vote against the unions, also know they can’t vote for them, and can’t vote “present” without allowing the majority to make the decision anyway. The only solution remaining is to “visit” some other state and pray the Indiana and Wisconsin voters will blame the majority (who stayed) for shutting off the process. I also wonder if Wisconsin could “draft” a few Indiana senators to make up for the Wisconsin senators that also ran for Illinois, or perhaps arrange a trade for an early draft pick in 2012? Our grandchildren will laugh at the stupidity of this if they live long enough.  Ron P.)

Fleebaggers: The New Cut-and-Run Democrats
Excerpt: Voters have spoken: In Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio and across the heartland, they put Republican adults in charge of cleaning up profligate Democrat-engineered messes. Instead of defending their same old tax-hiking, union-protecting, spending-addicted ways, Democrats are crossing their state borders into big government sanctuary zones -- screaming "la, la, la, we can't hear you" all the way. Wisconsin Democrats warned that their delinquent members -- evading state troopers and literally phoning it in -- could be gone "for weeks" to prevent a quorum on GOP Gov. Scott Walker's modest plan to increase public union workers' health insurance and pension contributions, end the compulsory union dues racket and rein in collective bargaining powers run amok. Big Labor insists its intransigence isn't about money, but about "rights." But the dispute is about nothing but money and power -- the union's power to dictate and limit its members' health insurance choices to a lucrative union-run plan, for example, which adds nearly $70 million in unnecessary taxpayer costs.

Bumper Sticker Suggestion
New Democrat Slogan:
“Run away! Run Away!”

How the Left Sees the Union Crisis in Madison
Excerpt: No wonder that the teacher union protestors in Madison resort to picket signs that depict their elected governor as Hitler, Mussolini or Mubarak. It is far easier to slander their opponent as a tyrant than come up with a serious discussion of how to solve the fiscal crisis facing the state they work in. Because if they did get serious, they would have to start by realizing that the concessions that Governor Walker is asking them to make are both fair and necessary.

Labor unions lining up strike votes if Walker’s bill is approved
All this surprises me. I was expecting the European-style entitlement riots to start in California. In five years, all this will seem like nothing. ~Bob. Excerpt: As the Wisconsin Legislature reconvened this morning, a key federation of nearly 100 labor unions in the state is calling for a general strike for about 45,000 people if Gov. Scott Walker’s budget repair bill is signed into law. The South Central Federation of Labor is calling for a general strike if the bill becomes law, according to a report by The Cap Times in Madison. The SCFL represents workers in 97 unions in Dane, Sauk, Columbia, Jefferson and Iowa Counties. The SCFL website calls for rallies at the Capitol at noon and 5 p.m. today, and for rallies to continue through the week outside and a "constant vigil" inside the Capitol.

Union Bonds in Wisconsin Begin to Fray
Excerpt: Among the top five employers here are the county, the schools and the city. And that was enough to make Mr. Hahan, a union man from a union town, a supporter of Gov. Scott Walker’s sweeping proposal to cut the benefits and collective-bargaining rights of public workers in Wisconsin, a plan that has set off a firestorm of debate and protests at the state Capitol. He says he still believes in unions, but thinks those in the public sector lead to wasteful spending because of what he sees as lavish benefits and endless negotiations. “Something needs to be done,” he said, “and quickly.” Across Wisconsin, residents like Mr. Hahan have fumed in recent years as tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs have vanished, and as some of the state’s best-known corporations have pressured workers to accept benefit cuts. Wisconsin’s financial problems are not as dire as those of many other states. But a simmering resentment over those lost jobs and lost benefits in private industry — combined with the state’s history of highly polarized politics — may explain why Wisconsin, once a pioneer in supporting organized labor, has set off a debate that is spreading to other states over public workers, unions and budget woes. There are deeply divided opinions and shifting allegiances over whether unions are helping or hurting people who have been caught in the recent economic squeeze. And workers themselves, being pitted against one another, are finding it hard to feel sympathy or offer solidarity, with their own jobs lost and their benefits and pensions cut back or cut off.

Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else. -Frederic Bastiat, French Economist (1801-1850)

Important: It's Never Just the Economy, Stupid
A sobering recitation of the grimly matter-of-fact examination of the things that are facing us in these troubled times. --Del. Excerpt: WE ARE OFTEN TOLD that we possess the most powerful military in the world and that we will face no serious threat for some time to come. We are comforted with three reassurances aimed at deflecting any serious discussion of national security: (1) that Islam is a religion of peace; (2) that we will never go to war with China because our economic interests are intertwined; and (3) that America won the Cold War and Russia is no longer our enemy. But these reassurances are myths, propagated on the right and left alike. We believe them at our peril, because serious threats are already upon us. Let me begin with Islam. We were assured that it was a religion of peace immediately following September 11. President Bush, a good man, believed or was persuaded that true Islam was not that different from Judaism or Christianity. He said in a speech in October 2001, just a month after the attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon: “Islam is a vibrant faith. . . . We honor its traditions. Our enemy does not. Our enemy doesn’t follow the great traditions of Islam. They’ve hijacked a great religion.” But unfortunately, Mr. Bush was trying to understand Islam as we would like it to be rather than how countless devout Muslims understand it. Organizationally, Islam is built around a belief in God or Allah, but it is equally a political ideology organized around the Koran and the teachings of its founder Muhammad. Whereas Christianity teaches that we should render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s—allowing for a non-theocratic political tradition to develop in the West, culminating in the principles of civil and religious liberty in the American founding—Islam teaches that to disagree with or even reinterpret the Koran’s 6000 odd verses, organized into 114 chapters or Suras and dealing as fully with law and politics as with matters of faith, is punishable by death.

Voices of Moderation by Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: Moderation -- at least verbal moderation -- is suddenly in vogue.
President Obama's rhetoric has moderated, even if his policies and practices have not. Among Republicans, voices of moderation are warning that the party cannot win elections without having a "big tent" and reaching out to Hispanics, for example. Recently, talk show host Michael Medved has suggested that Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin should moderate their attacks on Obama. Moderation is fine -- if it is not carried to extremes. But some moderates seem to think that it is always a good thing to tone down your words. Yet history shows that muffling your message can mean forfeiting many a battle to extremists. No one has had more of a mixed and muffled message than Senator John McCain, which is why Barack Obama is President of the United States. Republican moderates warn their fellow Republicans that they need to move away from the Ronald Reagan approach, in order to attract a wider range of voters. But Ronald Reagan won two consecutive landslide elections -- and he couldn't have done that if the only people who voted for him were dedicated conservatives. What Reagan had was a clear, coherent and believable message. Even voters who did not agree with him 100 percent could respect that and prefer it to the alternative.

New clashes reported in Tripoli; U.S. citizens to evacuate
Excerpt: Heavy gunfire was reported in Tripoli Wednesday, as anti-government demonstrators clashed with loyalists of Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi. The longtime dictator is vowing to "fight until the last drop of my blood" to maintain his 41-year hold on power, and has called on supporters to reclaim control after a week of rebellion that has left his government's authority in tatters.

Sen. John Thune won't run for president in 2012
Excerpt: South Dakota Republican Sen. John Thune has decided not to run for president in 2012, saying he wants to remain in the Senate to fight for conservative principles. "There is a battle to be waged over what kind of country we are going to leave our children and grandchildren, and that battle is happening now in Washington, not two years from now," Thune said in a statement. "So at this time, I feel that I am best positioned to fight for America's future here in the trenches of the United States Senate." Thune had been weighing a run for national office for months. He recently spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, a gathering widely regarded as one of the first cattle calls of the 2012 fight.

NCPA Expert: Mideast Unrest Is Not the Only Cause of High Oil, Gas Prices
Excerpt: The ongoing turmoil throughout the Middle East highlights the continuing and pervasive vulnerability of the U.S. economy to oil price instability, yet the Obama administration continues to thwart any efforts to increase domestic oil production, according to National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) Senior Fellow H. Sterling Burnett. "We have billions of barrels of oil just waiting to be accessed, yet the Obama administration has thrown one roadblock after another to prevent new domestic production," Dr. Burnett said. "These actions have made it nearly impossible to tap new domestic reserves." Overdependence on supplies of oil from what are now increasingly unstable regions of the world throw into stark relief the need to develop our own domestic reserves of oil, Burnett explained. "Even after the Horizon oil blowout, offshore oil production is safer for the environment, and better for domestic job creation and energy security than increased imports," Burnett continued. "While it's true that full access to the U.S.'s existing reserves will not make us energy independent, it will make us less dependent and less vulnerable to foreign supply disruptions." 

Revisiting the Value of Elite Colleges
Excerpt: A decade ago, two economists — Stacy Dale and Alan Krueger — published a research paper arguing that elite colleges did not seem to give most graduates an earnings boost. As you might expect, the paper received a ton of attention. Ms. Dale and Mr. Krueger have just finished a new version of the study — with vastly more and better data, covering people into their 40s and 50s, as well as looking at a set of more recent college graduates — and the new version comes to the same conclusion. Given how counterintuitive that conclusion is and, that some other economists have been skeptical of it, I want to devote a post to the new paper. The starting point is the obvious fact that graduates of elite colleges make more money than graduates of less elite colleges. This pattern holds even when you control for the SAT scores and grades of graduates. By themselves, these patterns seem to suggest that the college is a major reason for the earnings difference.

Market-Based Medicaid Reform
Excerpt: Incremental policy changes are not sufficient to address the projected doubling of Medicaid costs every decade. Reform must be carefully designed to ensure against recreating the same problems that have plagued Medicaid since its inception: rising caseloads and mandated benefits, says the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF). The TPPF proposes dramatic reforms to the way medical care and services are provided to low-income individuals in Texas, under a new assistance program: TexHealth. TexHealth offers a starting point for the discussion of reforming Medicaid into a free market-based program. TexHealth would change the dynamic of Medicaid from a defined benefit program to a defined contribution program, allowing individuals to make their own decisions in regards to their health insurance needs. A defined contribution program will not only allow better access to health care, but allow Texas to subsidize individuals earning up to 175 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL). TexHealth would subsidize the costs of purchasing health insurance in the private market, basing the amount of the subsidy on a sliding scale tied to the individual's income and assets. Under a defined contribution plan, TexHealth will provide better access to health care services and be available to potentially 4 million more individuals than currently served, for less money.

The 19 Percent Solution: How to balance the budget without increasing taxes
Excerpt: Here’s an appalling snapshot: During fiscal year 2010, which ended on September 30, the government spent around $3.6 trillion, or 25 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), while collecting $2.1 trillion in tax revenue, or 14.5 percent of GDP. The resulting deficit was $1.5 trillion. The total debt held by the public—the sum of all accumulated annual deficits and interest payments—reached 63 percent of GDP.
You have to go back to 1946, in the immediate aftermath of World War II, to find spending that was as large a percentage of GDP. You need to return to 1945 to find a deficit that big on a percentage basis as well. Just a few years ago, in 2007, the debt was 36.2 percent of GDP. If current trends continue, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects, the number will reach 87 percent in 2020. Most economists talk about a debt equal to 60 percent of GDP as a trigger point where investors become very nervous about a country’s ability to pay its obligations.

Reforming the Criminal Defense System
Excerpt: Proposals for improvement of the criminal defense system commonly stress the need for more resources and, somewhat less often, the importance of giving indigent defense providers legal independence from the government that funds them. Yet virtually every suggestion for reform takes for granted the feature of the current American system that is most problematic and least defensible -- the fact that the indigent defendant is never permitted to select the attorney who will represent him, say Stephen J. Schulhofer, Robert B. McKay professor of law at New York University School of Law, and David D. Friedman, professor of law at Santa Clara University School of Law. In violation of free-market principles that are honored almost everywhere else, the person who has the most at stake is allowed no say in choosing the professional who will provide him one of the most important services he will ever need. The government's refusal to honor the defendant's own preferences is compounded by an acute conflict of interest: the official who selects his defense attorney is tied, directly or indirectly, to the same authority that is seeking to convict the defendant. With pressure for reform rising and with unprecedented Justice Department interest in new initiatives, it would be a simple matter to institute a voucher plan on an experimental basis in a few federal districts. In particular, defense vouchers will improve the quality of legal representation for the poor. Better legal representation will, in turn, produce at least three benefits to the community, says Schulhofer and McKay: Reduce the likelihood of mistakes -- that is, it will be less likely that innocent persons will be wrongfully convicted of crimes. Minimize adverse consequences to the innocent persons who would have been acquitted under current systems of indigent defense. Bring more complete information to the sentencing phase of the criminal justice system -- making it more likely that just punishments will be imposed on those who are guilty of committing criminal offenses.

Excerpt: I can’t even count the number of articles and blog posts I’ve seen asserting that markets can’t work in health care. Or that they work very imperfectly. Or that they suffer from serious “market failure.” In every case, the writer just assumes that government can remedy these problems. Yet when Gerry Musgrave and I wrote Patient Power, we concluded that our most serious health care problems stem from bad government policies, rather than from markets failing to work. In other words, “government failure” not “market failure” is the source of most of what is going wrong. Why is our perspective so different from so many other health policy analysts? I think the answer is: the vast majority of people in health policy do not understand the concept of “government failure.”

Sharia in the U.S.A.: Christians Jailed for Preaching to Muslims--Dearborn, MI Officials Sued
Excerpt: The Thomas More Law Center (TMLC) announced today that the City of Dearborn, its Mayor, John B. O’Reilly, its Chief of Police, Ronald Haddad, 17 City police officers, and two executives of the American Arab Chamber of Commerce were named as defendants in a ninety-six page federal civil rights lawsuit filed in the Federal District Court in Detroit this morning. The lawsuit, brought by TMLC and co-counsel and Sharia law expert, David Yerushalmi, stems from two separate police actions at the June 2010 Dearborn, Michigan Annual International Arab Festival. Richard Thompson, TMLC President and Chief Counsel, commented, “Muslims dominate the political and law enforcement process in Dearborn. It seems that police were more interested in placating the Mayor and Muslims than obeying our Constitution. Sharia law makes it a crime to preach the Gospel to Muslims. This is a classic example of stealth Jihad being waged right here in America. And it should be a wake-up call for all patriotic Americans.” (Yep, creeping Islamism is alive and well in Dearborn. When people get handcuffed and jailed for even watching someone discuss theology in public, we know that things have gotten truly dangerous. We have to hope and pray that this lawsuit goes the distance and establishes that these actions were in fact wrong and violated the basic rights of Americans, and that the public officials involved will face penalties for their dereliction of duty. --Del)

FBI: Muslim Brotherhood deeply rooted inside U.S.: Terror-support group controls most Islamic groups, mosques in America
Excerpt: Staff investigators with the House and Senate intelligence committees say they are probing the domestic security threat posed by the radical Muslim Brotherhood and, specifically, whether Brotherhood operatives have penetrated the U.S. government. The true nature, ambitions and global reach of the Cairo-based Muslim Brotherhood suddenly have become the focus of debate in Washington, following unrest in Egypt and other parts of the Middle East. As the Muslim Brotherhood threatens to effectively replace Egypt's secular, pro-Western regime, the tentacles of its worldwide jihadist movement have reached deep into the Muslim community in America. Shockingly, federal court documents reveal that virtually every major Muslim organization in America is a front group for the Brotherhood. They also show that its U.S. network has raised millions of dollars for Hamas, al-Qaida and other terrorist groups.

Good Sowell Columns
I was researching a response to a columnist, and came across these older Sowell columns. Worth reading if you haven’t seen them. ~Bob.
Black rednecks and white liberals
Friends’ of blacks

Government Unions Have Not Benefited The Public
They weren’t intended to “benefit the public.” They were intended to benefit public employees, who would in turn benefit Democrats. ~Bob. Excerpt: Excerpt: Government workers were making good salaries in 1962 when President Kennedy lifted, by executive order (so much for democracy), the federal ban on government unions. Civil service regulations and similar laws had guaranteed good working conditions for generations. The argument for public unionization wasn't moral, economic or intellectual. It was rankly political. Traditional organized labor, the backbone of the Democratic Party, was beginning to lose ground. As Daniel DiSalvo wrote in "The Trouble with Public Sector Unions," in the fall issue of National Affairs, JFK saw how in states such as New York and Wisconsin, where public unions were already in place, local liberal pols benefited politically and financially. He took the idea national. The plan worked.

Against Voter Fraud Protests, Worcester Mayor Plays the Race Card
Excerpt: As I reported previously, voting had hardly begun in Worcester, an urban area west of Boston, before word began coming in of questionable activity, mostly centered around community organizing group Neighbor to Neighbor, or N2N. N2N workers were escorting voters in to the polling places and pointing to the boxes on the ballot the voter was to choose. They were accompanying voters in to the booth as “translators” even though the ballots had Spanish translation. (…) While many in the leftist establishment undoubtedly hoped that the events of last November would disappear down the memory hole when the carpets were rolled up after election day, and the volunteers all went back to their day jobs, that simply hasn’t been the case. (As it happens, this is in my backyard (so to speak, it’s actually in the next town over) and I know some of the people involved and named in the article. Within the article is a link to a video taken live during the Election Commission meeting. So much for the new “civility.” These “whining complainers” are just ordinary folks like you and me who watched at the polls on election day, saw potential violations of the law and reported them. It is to the advantage of EVERY American that our elections be honest. While I observed no violations myself—I was about 200 feet from a polling place in my own town holding a sign on that day—I have no reason to think Desiree or the others are being anything other than completely and accurately truthful. To be vilified in this fashion by an elected official is a disgrace to the city of Worcester, and the majority Democrat party. That the local media have all but buried the story simply tells us where they see their bread being buttered. Perhaps a little national attention will shine a light in dark places. Nah, never happen! --Ron P.)

Arizona Muslim who ran over his daughter convicted in honor killing
He was probably confused by all the multiculturalism,” since Islamic law allows you to kill your child. ~Bob. Excerpt: A jury convicted an Iraqi immigrant of second-degree murder Tuesday for running over and killing his daughter in a case prosecutors called an "honor killing." Faleh Hassan Almaleki, 50, also was convicted of aggravated assault for injuries suffered by the mother of his daughter's boyfriend during the October 2009 incident in a suburban Phoenix parking lot, and two counts of leaving the scene of an accident. Prosecutors told jurors during the trial that he mowed down 20-year-old Noor Almaleki with his Jeep Cherokee because she had brought the family dishonor by becoming too Westernized. He wanted Noor Almaleki to act like a traditional Iraq woman, but she refused an arranged marriage, went to college and had a boyfriend.

Two million Egyptians in Tahrir Square chant "To Jerusalem we are heading, martyrs in the millions"
The Religion of Peace, on the march. ~Bob.

Worth Reading: The Post-Western Middle East
Excerpt: There are two phases to recent Arab history. The modern Middle East was an Anglo-French concoction, cooked up by London and Paris somewhat haphazardly after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. In the waning of British and French imperial power after World War Two, Washington and Moscow stepped into the breach, in many cases replacing sputtering monarchies with strongmen of a secular pan-Arab nationalist bent. Say what you like about dynastic rulers but generally they're beyond ideology: in a sense, a king is his own ideology. When you replace an hereditary monarch with a designated sonofabitch, it's easy to get misled into thinking he represents some force larger than himself. As we now know, Mubarak represented nobody and nothing: Both "Nasserism", the ideology that propped up the regime in its first two decades, and the region's broader post-war secular nationalism were fictions, and unsustainable ones. An hour or so after the dictator fell, I said to Megyn Kelly on Fox that we were witnessing "the unraveling of the American Middle East". That's looking at it from our point of view. Looking at it from theirs, the regimes are belatedly aligning themselves with demographic reality. Across the last half-century, the chancelleries of the great powers invested their effort in maintaining "stability": The result was that governments were superficially stable while their populations wholly transformed - and a huge chasm opened up between an ever more Islamic populace and the regimes they're ruled by. Say what you like about Mubarak but he wasn't into female genital mutilation. Unfortunately for him, his people were - or at any rate the menfolk were. So he banned it. Because he's a dictator, and what he says goes, right? And the net result of that ban is that, on the day he fell, precisely 91 per cent of the country's women were estimated to have undergone FGM: Long before the "Facebook Revolution", Egypt voted with its clitorises.

Obama administration sunk $535 million in Porkulus funds in green-energy turkey
Excerpt: Solyndra, Inc. was supposed to have showcased the effectiveness of the Obama administration’s stimulus and green jobs initiatives, but instead it has become the center of congressional attention for waste, fraud and abuse of such programs. Gosh, who could have predicted that the Solyndra pork project might fail? Perhaps all of those Wall Street investors that avoided Solyndra for one obvious reason: A closer look at the company shows it has never turned a profit since it was founded in 2005, according to its Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings. And Solyndra’s auditor declared that “the company has suffered recurring losses, negative cash flows since inception and has a net stockholders’ deficit that, among other factors, [that] raise substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a growing concern” in a March 2010 amendment to its SEC registration statement. (More taxpayer dollars down the proverbial rat hole. Not to worry. Obama will just order the printing presses to go to full production mode to make up for the loss. MasterGuns)

US intervention in Libya could cause more harm than good
Excerpt: Libyan dictator Muammar Qadaffi is refusing to step down, and civil war looms on the horizon. Opinions are flying fast and furious over the proper role of the American military and NATO in bringing stability to the region. We should proceed with caution, especially given our shaky moral footing in the middle-east. Undermining protestors by making this an invasion rather than a homegrown revolution could have far-flung consequences. After decades of botched meddling in other nations’ domestic affairs, American foreign policy reached fever pitch during the Bush administration. More often than not, our meddling has resulted in backlash or terrible unintended consequences, from the installation of right-wing dictators in South America, to the Iranian Islamic Revolution. This doesn’t even take into account the various foolhardy wars we’ve stumbled into, from Vietnam to Iraq. So I come at foreign policy from a very cautious position. I’m not quite a full-on pacifist, but I’m close. All that said, reports out of Libya are disturbing to put it mildly - the violence against Libyan protestors is truly horrendous. For all the defections of air force officers and diplomats, there is report after report of slaughter. Qaddafi’s special forces are attacking protestors with snipers, artillery, tanks, and from the sea and air. They are dropping bombs from helicopters. Hundreds are dead, though we have no way of knowing the actual death-toll. I suppose I still come down on the non-interventionist side, no matter how horrible the actions of the Qaddafi government may be.

Get government employee unions out of politics
Excerpt: Wisconsin's Democratic state senators and leaders of the Badger State's government employee unions have given taxpayers nationwide an illustration of the corrupt political bargain at the heart of collective bargaining wherever it is found in the public sector. One side of this corrupt bargain is seen in the fact that public employee unions in Wisconsin contributed more than $130,000 in the 2010 election cycle to Democrats in the state legislature, compared with a mere $8,050 to Republicans. As The Washington Examiner reported last week, nearly half of the Democrat total went to the unions' favorite state legislator in his unsuccessful campaign for lieutenant governor; a victory would have set him up for the governorship. The hard data on campaign contributions don't include significant independent spending by the public-sector unions on behalf of Wisconsin Democrats, nor does it count the value to them of union volunteers licking envelopes, manning telephone banks and doing get-out-the-vote work on their behalf. The other side of the corrupt bargain is the excessively generous, tax-paid compensation and benefits for public-sector employees, approved by the very same legislators who benefited from their campaign contributions. In Wisconsin, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median annual household income -- including families with two incomes -- is $52,000, while the average single-income family brings in only $40,500. By comparison, the average full-time individual Wisconsin state employee receives, depending upon a variety of factors, between $50,000 and $60,000 annually in combined salary and benefits, while contributing little toward either pensions or health insurance.

Public unions force taxpayers to fund Democrats
Excerpt: Everyone has priorities. During the past week Barack Obama has found no time to condemn the attacks that Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi has launched on the Libyan people. But he did find time to be interviewed by a Wisconsin television station and weigh in on the dispute between Republican Gov. Scott Walker and the state's public employee unions. Walker was staging "an assault on unions," he said, and added that "public employee unions make enormous contributions to our states and our citizens." Enormous contributions, yes -- to the Democratic Party and the Obama campaign. Unions, most of whose members are public employees, gave Democrats some $400 million in the 2008 election cycle. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the biggest public employee union, gave Democrats $90 million in the 2010 cycle. Follow the money, Washington reporters like to say. The money in this case comes from taxpayers, present and future, who are the source of every penny of dues paid to public employee unions, who in turn spend much of that money on politics, almost all of it for Democrats. In effect, public employee unions are a mechanism by which every taxpayer is forced to fund the Democratic Party.

As Wisconsin and Ohio try to fix their budgets, Illinois banks on a federal bailout
Excerpt: Illinois, which plans to sell $3.7bn of pension bonds next week, may seek a federal guarantee on retirement-system debts if its unfunded liabilities can’t be eliminated, according to budget documents. Illinois's pension plans have an unfunded liability estimated at over 60%, the documents show. Governor Pat Quinn disclosed the potential need for a federal guarantee of pension debt in his $35.3bn general-fund budget on February 16, without going into specifics. Significant long-term improvements will come only from additional pension reforms, refinancing the liability and seeking a federal guarantee of the debt," the document said.

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