Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Political Digest for April 12, 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.

For those who want further information about the topics covered in this blog, I recommend the following sites. I will add to this as I find additional good sources.

Obama Haiku Challenge
Offer Hope and Change,
No need for more with voters
Short attention spans.

Send me your entries or post on my blog.

Civic Literacy Exam
Missed one, got 96%, think I misread the answer. Very annoying. Average score is 49%, but 55% for college professors.

Important: PIMCO goes short US government debt, raises cash holdings
This is really scary. The country may collapse before I can finish my book on the coming collapse! ~Bob. Excerpt: PIMCO has shifted to a short position in U.S. government-related debt in the world's largest bond fund, while also raising cash holdings in a sign of the asset manager's serious concerns about the U.S. fiscal outlook.

Quote from The Patriot Post www.patriotpost.us/subscribe/
"You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot help small men by tearing down big men. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot lift the wage-earner by pulling down the wage-payer. You cannot help the poor man by destroying the rich. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred. You cannot establish security on borrowed money. You cannot build character and courage by taking away men's initiative and independence. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves." --Presbyterian clergyman William Boetcker (1873-1962)

The Debt Bomb Showdown
Excerpt: "We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude." Thomas Jefferson. There's currently a lot of talk about deficits and debt among the new House Republican majority; much of it is contentious intraparty debate about whether to raise the "debt ceiling," and if so, how to leverage that in order to get Democrats to approve more cuts. This month, the central government accrued a $223 BILLION record deficit. Republicans are trying to scrape together a few more cuts, but Senate Democrats indicate they will only approve $4.7 billion in additional cuts to the whole year's expenditures, when what is needed is $4.7 billion in additional cuts every day of the next year.

I hope Republicans have caught on that the Obama loyalists praise those Republicans they are scared of and attack those Republicans, like Palin and Trump, they think would be easy to beat, thus helping them with the people who are blinded with hatred of Obama. Costs them nothing and, who knows, might tilt the Republicans primaries to a candidate like Trump whop would, in my opinion, be a disaster as a candidate and as a president. ~Bob Excerpt: “There is zero chance that Donald Trump would ever be hired by the American people to do this job,” says Plouffe. “I saw Donald Trump kind of rising in some polls and given his behavior and spectacle the last couple of weeks, I hope he keeps on rising.”

President Trump?
Excerpt: President Donald Trump. Do those words, strung together in that order, seem strange? After the release of last week’s Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll showing Trump tied for 2nd among the prospective Republican presidential nominees, a lot of people are undoubtedly trying to wrap their minds around the idea. If it seems out of reach for you, consider this: it was only three and a half years ago that the words “Barack” and “Obama” were so foreign to the American lexicon that they drew red flags from your spellchecker…

Obama’s new approach to deficit reduction to include spending on entitlements
Since WWII, ever $1.00 in increased federal taxes has resulted in $1.23 in increased federal spending, so this is sure to work well. Just positioning himself to blame the Republicans for the mounting debt. Will looking in “all corners” include the Planned Parenthood abortion” corner or the NPR corner? ~Bob. Excerpt: President Obama this week will lay out a new approach to reducing the nation’s soaring debt, proposing reductions in spending on entitlements such as Medicare and Medicaid and renewing his call for tax increases on the rich. In an effort to go on the offensive in the battle over government spending, Obama will look for cuts in “all corners of government,” senior adviser David Plouffe said on several Sunday talk shows.

Obama Puts Taxes on Table
Excerpt: President Barack Obama will lay out his plan for reducing the nation's deficit Wednesday, belatedly entering a fight over the nation's long-term financial future. But in addition to suggesting cuts—the current focus of debate—the White House looks set to aim its firepower on a more divisive topic: taxes. In a speech Wednesday, Mr. Obama will propose cuts to entitlement programs, including Medicare and Medicaid, and changes to Social Security, a discussion he has largely left to Democrats and Republicans in Congress. He also will call for tax increases for people making over $250,000 a year, a proposal contained in his 2012 budget, and changing parts of the tax code he thinks benefit the wealthy. (...) Until now, Mr. Obama has been largely absent from the raging debate over the long-term deficit. The White House has done little with the recommendations of its own bipartisan deficit commission. And Mr. Obama's 2012 budget didn't offer many new ideas for tackling entitlement spending, among the biggest long-term drains on the federal budget.  (...) The White House move caught Democrats in Congress off guard, according to aides, and details of the president's proposals were sketchy.

Excerpt: I used to think the biggest obstacle to getting agreement about health care reform was ideology (socialism vs. capitalism). Then I decided it was sociology (engineers vs. economists). I now am inclined to believe it is psychology (bureaucrats vs. entrepreneurs). I came to this realization after reading through a long list of comments to a Health Alert I posted the other day about a health care entrepreneur (more on that below). The entrepreneurial approach is the way we are trying to solve big problems in many other fields. Take the Ansari X Prize, established by citizen-astronaut Anousheh Ansari and her husband, Amir. They awarded $10 million to the first group to build a privately-funded spacecraft capable of carrying three people 100 kilometers above the earth’s surface twice within two weeks. Interestingly, 26 teams from seven nations spent more than $100 million competing to win the prize.

The New Health Care Law's Effect on State Medicaid Spending: A Study of the Five Most Populous States
Excerpt: Unless it is repealed, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 promises to increase state government obligations for Medicaid by expanding Medicaid eligibility and introducing an individual health insurance mandate for all U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents. Once PPACA becomes fully effective in 2014, the Medicaid benefits of those who become newly eligible and enroll into Medicaid will be almost fully covered by the federal government through 2019, with federal financial support expected to be extended thereafter. But PPACA provides states with no additional federal financial support for new enrollees among those eligible for Medicaid under the old laws. That makes increased state Medicaid spending from higher enrollments by "old-eligibles" virtually certain as they enroll in Medicaid in response to the individual mandate to purchase health insurance. This study estimates and compares potential increases in Medicaid expenditures from PPACA by the five most populous states: California, Florida, Illinois, New York, and Texas. State Medicaid spending is projected to increase considerably even without PPACA in California, Florida, and Texas, with smaller increases in Illinois and New York. With PPACA, projected spending is actually reduced for California, while spending increases are positive and large for Florida and Texas. Both Illinois and New York have the potential for considerably higher enrollments and increased expenditures.

Worth Reading: Of Space Ships and Bullet Trains
Excerpt: With the final landing of the space shuttle Discovery on March 9, a significant chapter in NASA history came to a close. It’s the beginning of the end for the space shuttle program—the final flights of Endeavour and Atlantis are scheduled for later this year—and thus a fitting occasion to reflect on an effort that dates back to the Nixon administration. As President Obama calls for a new era of “doing big things”—from creating a high-speed rail system to building wind farms—the record of the shuttle program and other “megaprojects” worldwide suggests a simple warning: beware the “unbiased expert.”

Two George Soros Events Aim to Remake the Financial Order and the Media -- So Where's the Reporting?
Excerpt: The emphasis of both conferences is a familiar one to American voters – change. Soros wants to begin changing the global economy in one event. In the other, his flunkies want to “Change the world. Change the media.” Now that is change you can believe in. Sadly, those who actually report the news must believe in it because they sure as heck aren’t reporting on Soros or either event. And that’s even though staffers or even executives from Reuters, the Financial Times, NPR, PBS, The Washington Post and other major media outlets are speaking at one event or the other. The first gathering in Bretton Woods, N.H., is an economic conference Soros once described as “a grand bargain that rearranges the entire financial order.” … That “change the world” conference includes two commissioners from the FCC, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Bernie Sanders, four Democratic representatives, the head of Columbia University, and assorted left-wing journalist types, from Salon’s Glenn Greenwald to disgraced former MSNBC host David Shuster, who now works for a Soros-funded investigative operation.

Is Our Civilization a Bubble? Part II
Excerpt: Liberty though a natural right wasn’t assumed to be a natural state, but something that required courage and alertness to guard. Debates in Congress over banks, tariffs, expansion, to say nothing of slavery and Reconstruction, bristled with invocations of the right of free men to resist illegitimate power, sometimes punctuated by personal clashes between legislators, bordering or even crossing into violence, when procedural rights and individual honor were thought to be under challenge. Power in the hands of others, and most especially in the hands of government, was deeply distrusted. (…) Today we blanch, or affect to, over the unconscious use of military metaphors in routine political discourse. Men no longer call each other out and rarely go armed, relegating law enforcement to uniformed professionals. Our military has become sexually polymorphous, with manly jocularity a possible career-ender. We agonize about eroding civility, but manage to settle our debates over matters of far wider sweep than any taxes on tea, with little more disturbance than those wrought by peaceful demonstrations and a few exercised words. (There is also a link in the header to Part I. Ron P.)

Coyote Preservation Act
Excerpt: Suburban Glendale is less a community with professional sports facilities than a sports enterprise with a community held hostage to previous improvident decisions. Now Glendale's government may multiply its follies -- unless Arizona's Constitution saves the city from itself. Taxes provided $346 million of the $455 million cost of the huge (up to 72,200 seats) retractable-roof NFL stadium where the Arizona Cardinals will play 10 times this season, if there is a season. (The NFL is having labor problems.) But Glendale (population 253,000) has a more immediate problem with its hockey team, the NHL's Phoenix Coyotes.

The Razor’s Edge
Excerpt: We calibrate California’s decline by its myriad of paradoxes. The nation’s highest bundle of gas, sales, and income taxes cannot close the nation’s largest annual deficit at $25 billion. Test scores are at the country’s near bottom; teachers’ salaries at the very top. Scores of the affluent are leaving each week; scores of the indigent are arriving. The nation’s most richly endowed state is also the most regulated; the most liberal of our residents are also the most ready to practice apartheid in their Bel Air or Palo Alto enclaves.

The New, Improved War Cabinet
Excerpt: What does all this tell us about policy? What we knew in the first place: that there isn’t anything approaching a coherent policy in this administration, and so Obama is likely to look for a War Cabinet whose members will do his bidding, whatever that might be. There’s not a single name on the list that is associated with a definable global vision, even if you expand the list to include the likes of Senator Reed, or General Odierno. It’s all about himself, about his reelection campaign, and thus about tactical decisions with no strategic goals aside from looking cool. Yes, they are “talented men.” They do their jobs well. But we’re at war and Obama isn’t very comfortable around warriors. Which is why he seemingly wants Petraeus in internal exile.

In the long run, free trade benefits everyone; in the short run it is bound to produce much pain—Henry Hobhouse

Wave Disc Engine
Excerpt: The Wave Disk Generator revolutionizes auto efficiency at lower vehicle costs. Currently, 15% of automobile fuel is used for propulsion; the other 85% is wasted. A Wave Disk Generator hybrid uses 60% of fuel for vehicle propulsion. MSU’s shock wave combustion generator is the size of a cooking pot and generates electricity very efficiently. This revolutionary generator replaces today’s 1,000 pounds of engine, transmission, cooling system, emissions, and fluids resulting in a lighter, more fuel-efficient electric vehicle. This technology provides 500-mile-plus driving range, is 30% lighter, and 30% less expensive than current, new plug-in hybrid vehicles. It overcomes the cost, weight, and driving range challenges of battery-powered electric vehicles. (I’m shocked. The government may actually be funding something worthwhile. There’s supposedly a video, but it doesn’t sound as if they’ve actually built one, so I’m not sure what the video would show if I could find it.  Ron P. yeah, but they’ll insist it run on wind power or something. ~Bob.)

An Imbalanced Budget Deal?
Excerpt: There’s a pretty broad consensus that Republicans got the better of the budget negotiations that concluded late Friday. Here’s David Weigel of Slate making the point. Here’s Andrew Stiles of the National Review. And Richard Eskow of the Huffington Post. And Carl Cameron of Fox News. And Ezra Klein of the Washington Post. As you may have inferred from the media outlets they write for, these analysts don’t normally agree on all that much. Mr. Cameron makes the most succinct case for why they’re all thinking along the same lines: While Republicans wanted to cut more spending in Saturday’s early morning compromise to keep the government open, they think they got the better of the deal. Here’s why: HR1 was originally to seek spending cuts of $32 billion until Tea Party conservatives insisted on more than $60 billion. House Speaker John Boehner won more cuts than he originally sought and got the Senate to agree to votes to defund the health care reform law and groups like the nation’s largest abortion provider Planned Parenthood – once votes Senate Majority leader Harry Reid said he’d never allow to come to the floor. Back on Feb. 3, Reid called $32 billion in cuts “extreme” and “draconian.”… The deal may not look quite so bad for Democrats, however, if you consider the positions that different sides were taking at an earlier stage of the negotiation — or if you consider the results of last November’s election.

20 Canadians have joined Somali terror group: official
Funny that devout members of a “Religion of Peace” would be drawn to a violent ideology. ~Bob. Excerpt: About 20 Canadians have travelled to Somalia to join Al-Shabab, a federal official said two weeks after a Toronto man was arrested as he was allegedly leaving to enlist in the al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group. As many as three of the Canadians may have been killed so far, the official added, although such deaths are hard to verify because of the armed conflict and the lack of a diplomatic corps in Somalia…. A major counter-terrorism investigation underway in Toronto is trying to identify Canadians who have joined Al-Shabab and how they are being recruited. Most appear to be young Somali-Canadians drawn to al-Qaeda’s violent ideology.

Brazil school shooter: "Four hours every day I spend reading the Koran"
Gee, how you could read the Qur’an four hours a day and miss the part about “Islam is a Religion of Peace,” and murder kids? ~Bob. Excerpt: Wellington Menezes de Oliveira murdered twelve children in a school in Realengo, a poor suburb of Rio de Janeiro, last Thursday. Here is more indication that the shooting was jihad-related, rather like the attempted murders that Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar committed in North Carolina after making his own close study of the Koran.

Tim Pawlenty lands a presidential campaign manager
Excerpt: Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty has signed GOP operative Nick Ayers to serve as his campaign manager, scoring one of the best-regarded young strategists in the party to lead his 2012 presidential effort. “I’ve chosen to work for the man whose record, principles and vision will give us the strongest Republican nominee, who has the greatest chance of victory in November 2012,” Ayers said in an email to The Fix. “[Pawlenty] is someone who knows what he believes and doesn’t need polls to know how to say it, and he has lived honorably in both his public and private life.” Ayers, who served as executive director of the Republican Governors Association during the 2008 and 2010 election cycles, was courted by at least four other potential presidential candidates.

A deal conservatives should be happy about
Excerpt: As I had anticipated, with the clock running out, Republicans and Democrats cut a deal that will keep the government running, and cut spending by $38.5 billion for the remainder of the year. It's deal that conservatives should be happy about. To be sure, conservatives didn't get much of what they wanted. They didn't get $100 billion in cuts, or even $61 billion. Planned Parenthood won't be defunded, neither will ObamaCare. And the EPA won't be stripped of funding to regulate carbon emissions. But let's get real. There's a liberal president and a liberal Senate -- House Majority Leader John Boehner cannot impose his will on the rest of the government. But he did use what leverage he had to get a lot more out of Democrats than they wanted to give up. Democrats didn't want any spending cuts, and President Obama's original budget proposed spending that was $78.5 billion higher than what was agreed upon tonight.

Planned Parenthood spent more than $1 million electing Democrats last cycle
Bumper Sticker: “Support Planed Parenthood—Abort Black Babies” ~Bob. Excerpt: Here's something to keep in mind as Democrats risk a government shutdown in order to preserve federal subsidies of Planned Parenthood.

Inside the biggest GAO scandal you never heard about
Excerpt: If there is a code for lying, then Rule No. 1 ought to be to make the lie believable. Not adhering to that first rule exposed a fraud perpetrated by the Government Accountability Office and helped uncover suspicious activity at the Department of Education. Last August, Gregory Kutz, then head of the GAO's Forensic Audits and Special Investigations unit, gave stinging testimony to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. His target was career colleges. Unlike state-owned institutions and private, not-for-profit colleges, career colleges operate on a for-profit basis. A GAO report accompanied Kutz's testimony.

The Iranian Armageddon
Excerpt: In a nuclear age, as Nikita Krushchev, a former Premier of the Soviet Union, once said, “The living will envy the dead.” Those were the days of the Cold War and, with both the U.S. and Russia possessing nukes, the concept of mutually assured destruction, MAD, was understood. This, however, does not apply to the ayatollahs. They need massive destruction to bring about their Islamic End Times scenario. In a recent Wall Street Journal interview with Bernard Lewis, the West’s leading scholar on the Middle East, he pointed out that the mullahs “are religious fanatics with an apocalyptic mindset. In Islam, as in Christianity and Judaism, there is an end-of-times scenario—and they think it’s beginning or has already begun.” The result, said Lewis, is that “mutually assured destruction is not a deterrent—it’s an inducement.”

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