Thursday, April 14, 2011

Political Digest for April 14, 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.

Happy Birthday, Mark.

My blog’s page views in last week
United States: 3,376. Canada: 126. UK: 84. Germany: 80. Russia: 62. Iran: 46. Denmark: 45. Indonesia: 38. Ukraine: 31. Israel: 30. I’d like to welcome all those reformers in Iran and Indonesia who are reading my blog. I hope you’ll stop by and visit me at home at
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC
. Come around to the back—it gets crowded up front.

Must read: Taxes and Politics by Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: Someone once said that taxes are the price we pay for civilization. That may have been true when he said it, but today taxes are mostly the price we pay so that politicians can play Santa Claus and get reelected. That's not the worst of it. We may think of taxes as just a source of government revenue. But tax rates are a big political statement on the left, whether they bring in any revenue or not. For more than 80 years, the political left has opposed what they call "tax cuts for the rich." But big cuts in very high tax rates ended up bringing in more revenue to the government in the Coolidge, Kennedy, Reagan and Bush 43 administrations. This included more-- repeat, more-- tax revenue from people in the highest income brackets than before.

Poll: Health care law support dips on budget woes
They had to pass the bill so you can find out what you hate about it. ~Bob. Excerpt: Amid a budget debate that will affect the health care of virtually every family, a new poll finds support for President Barack Obama's overhaul at its lowest level since passage last year. But in a ringing defense of Obama's policies, Medicare chief Donald Berwick pleaded Tuesday for more time on the health care law, and branded a leading Republican plan "unfair and harmful" and "a form of withholding care." The Associated Press-GfK poll showed that support for Obama's expansion of health insurance coverage has slipped to 35 percent, while opposition stands at 45 percent and another 17 percent are neutral. That nearly ties the previous low in September 2009, when after a summer of heated town hall meetings dominated by critics, only 34 percent supported Obama's approach.

Hoyer joins Obama in calling past vote on debt ceiling 'a mistake'
Another Democrat repents a moment of sanity. Of course, Bush was President then. ~Bob. Excerpt: House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer has joined President Obama in conceding that he blundered by voting against an increase to the government’s debt ceiling. “I have voted against the debt limit in the past. That was a mistake,” Hoyer (Md.), the second-ranking House Democrat, said in an unprompted admission to reporters on Tuesday. His comment came two days after White House adviser David Plouffe said Obama made a mistake by voting against raising the debt ceiling when he was a senator.

Obama unveils framework for cutting deficit by $4 trillion over 12 years
Excerpt: President Obama unveiled a framework Wednesday to reduce borrowing over the next 12 years by $4 trillion — a goal that falls short of targets set by his deficit commission and House Republicans — and called for a new congressional commission to help develop a plan to get there. In his most ambitious effort to claim the mantle of deficit cutter, Obama proposed sharp new cuts to domestic and military spending, and an overhaul of the tax code that would raise fresh revenue. But he steered clear of fundamental changes to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — the primary drivers of future spending.

Must Read: Donald Trump's Donations to Democrats
Trump is not the new “Mr. Conservative.” You can’t even call yourself a RINO if you donated to Wrangle! This is just an attention-demanding ego. ~Bob. Excerpt: In all, Trump has contributed to 96 candidates running for federal political office since the 1990 election cycle, the Center finds. Only 48 of the recipients -- exactly half -- were Republicans at the time they received their contribution, including ex-Gov. Charlie Crist (I-Fla.) and ex-Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.), who both of whom received their Trump contributions as Republicans. Since the 1990 election cycle, the top 10 recipients of Trump's political contributions number six Democrats and four Republicans. Embattled Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.), who was censured last year by his U.S. House colleagues, has received the most Trump money, totaling $24,750. The most recent contribution from Trump to Rangel was a $10,000 gift during the 2006 election cycle. In the most recent election cycle, Trump doled out $22,500 to political candidates, of which $16,200 benefited Democrats.

Women aren’t pet rocks
Excerpt: “Yes, well, the women. Too bad about the women. They’ll suffer.” Women, and by extension children, suffer what too many have come to accept as “collateral damage” in theaters of war. We hate it, of course, but what can one do? It isn’t in our strategic interest to save the women and children of the world. Or, as an anonymous senior White House official recently told The Post: “Gender issues are going to have to take a back seat to other priorities. There’s no way we can be successful if we maintain every special interest and pet project. All those pet rocks in our rucksack were taking us down.” (See: “When the Taliban Comes back.”

Reasserting Federalism in Defense of Liberty 
Excerpt: We have asked government to do more for us, and all the government asks for in return is a little bit more of our liberty. Over the decades, we kept asking. And because the courts and the politicians were all too happy to oblige, regardless of what the Constitution said, we no longer have a federal government of limited powers. We have an overreaching central government—a government that seeks to plan and control virtually every aspect of our lives and our economy, from health care, to energy, to automobile manufacturing, to banking and insurance. Thankfully, though, in the last several years, people have woken up and are pushing back. With this pushback, we are seeing the idea of federalism reemerge. People want to return to a government of limited, enumerated powers, and an arrangement in which states serve as a check when the federal government oversteps its constitutional bounds. In the current lawsuits brought by the states over health care and against the EPA, state governments are pushing back and reasserting federalism as the Founders intended them to do.

Fiesta Bowl Investigation: Report Reveals Parties, Trips and Strip Clubs
“Whom the gods would destroy, they first give a sense of entitlement.” Hall’s update of the old adage. ~Bob. Excerpt: "Top executives at the Fiesta Bowl, the host of one of the nation’s pre-eminent college football games, funneled campaign contributions to local politicians, flew other Arizona elected officials around the country at the bowl’s expense, racked up a $1,200 bill at a strip club, and even spent $30,000 on a birthday party for the chief executive, according to an investigative report commissioned by the bowl’s board of directors," Thomas writes.

Health-Care Overhaul Could Ironically Increase Consumer Power—for Some
Excerpt: President Obama’s health care law will bring a major transformation of the nation’s health care over the next decade in the form of a large migration of patients, doctors, facilities, and services out of the third-party payer system. It will cause a major increase in concierge doctors, concierge facilities, and concierge-type services. It will lead to the creation of new markets where providers are free to repackage and reprice their services without third-party payer approval; where transparency of price and quality becomes the norm for patients; and where suppliers of services compete for patients on price, quality and amenities…..Millions of people will soon be forced to buy a health plan whose cost will grow at twice the rate of growth of their incomes. The combination of the 32 million newly insured plus those with more generous insurance will push health care spending higher than it otherwise would have been. Traditional tools to control costs—limited benefits, greater cost sharing, etc.—will be limited. One of the few tools employers and insurers will have left is to use limited networks. You may end up in a plan that covers only half the doctors in your area, and you may have to pay full cost if you go outside your plan’s network.

Where Does Democracy Grow Best?
Excerpt: When it comes to the distribution of democracy across the globe, it’s mostly about the rainfall, a new study suggests: The researchers revealed a robust relationship between rainfall levels and regime type for countries that existed from 1965 to 2009.

Playing Favorites In San Francisco
Liberal tax breaks for the rich and well-connected. Tweet are for Twits. ~Bob. Excerpt: Twitter threatens to bolt for the 'burbs and squeezes a concession from its host city. It's an old story — and a study in how the high cost of government and corporate welfare go hand in hand. Like it or not, we can learn a thing or two from one of our more unusual big cities. If nothing else, San Francisco is playing out the pros and cons of being a government workers' paradise. It's one of the few places where voters have balked at cutting back lavish health or pension benefits for public employees. It's also an expensive place to do business (surprised?). At least it is for most companies.

Bad accounting hides America's coming pension disaster
The Collapse is Coming. ~Bob. Excerpt: How do you solve a fiscal crisis if you don't have the right numbers? That is the dilemma facing governors, legislators and would-be reformers around the country trying to deal with the public employee pension crisis. Faulty accounting practices stipulated by the Government Accounting Standards Board have allowed state retirement systems to dramatically underestimate their pension deficits. In most states, the trustees of these funds have not provided the right data or even agreed to release it. This cover-up stands in the way of designing the reforms needed to fix the most serious calamity facing state and local finances. A pension deficit is the shortfall between a fund's assets and liabilities.

Left’s angst grows over Obama’s shift
Nominations are won on the Right or The Left, where the money, activists and primary voters are. Elections are won in the center, decided by the swing independents, who are less informed and involved than the Right or Left. Thus the party’s base is unhappy with winners, and hates losers. ~Bob. Excerpt: Anxiety over President Obama’s shift to the political center is threatening to alienate the White House’s liberal base. As Obama prepares Wednesday to outline his deficit reduction strategy, liberals worry he’ll embrace Medicare and Medicaid cuts as an olive branch to Republicans in advance of larger fights over the nation’s debt.

Obama’s Reactive Approach Makes Paul Ryan Intellectual Leader in the Congress in Budget Debate.
Interesting discussion. ~Bob.

Keith Ellison's Slurs
Excerpt: His emotional testimony, choking back tears as he discussed a Muslim-American first-responder killed on 9/11, garnered national headlines last month for U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison. But two days after a House committee hearing on Muslim radicalization, the Minnesota Democrat had a far more hostile tone. In a speech in Rochester Hills, Mich., Ellison made a series of personal attacks against three other witnesses who were on the opposite side of the issue.

West to critics: Beware whom you target
If a liberal member received this, it would headline the MSM for a week. ~Bob. Excerpt: Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) used an email to constituents to respond to a threat against his Florida office last week and to warn critics to "be careful of whom you are choosing to employ these tactics against." Last week, West's Florida office received an envelope containing white powder and a letter with derogatory remarks directed at the congressman. A hazmat team later determined the powder wasn't harmful.

Excerpt: However each may turn out in the long run, Iraq in 2003 made sense; Libya in 2011 does not. The Left is terribly embarrassed about the U.S. intervention in Libya. We have preemptively attacked an Arab Muslim nation that posed little threat to the national-security interests of the United States. President Obama did not have majority support among the American people. Nor did he even attempt to gain approval from Congress — especially egregious because he seems to be the first president since Harry Truman who sought and obtained sanction for military action from the United Nations without gaining formal authorization from his own Congress.

Dem Sen to Introduce Internet Tax Bill
If it moves, tax it. ~Bob. Excerpt: A Democratic senator is preparing to introduce legislation that aims to end the golden era of tax-free Internet shopping. The proposal–expected to be made public soon after Tax Day– would rewrite the ground rules for Internet and mail order sales by eliminating the ability of Americans to shop at Web sites like and without paying state sales taxes. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the second most senior Senate Democrat, will introduce the bill after the Easter recess, a Democratic aide told CNET.

Worth Reading: Ending America as We Know It
Excerpt: America, 2011: A man gets driven in a motorcade to sneer at a man who has to drive himself to work. A guy who has never generated a dime of wealth, never had to make payroll, never worked at any job other than his own tireless self-promotion literally cannot comprehend that out there beyond the far fringes of the motorcade outriders are people who drive a long distance to jobs whose economic viability is greatly diminished when getting there costs twice as much as the buck-eighty-per-gallon it cost back at the dawn of the Hopeychangey Era. So what? Your fault. Should have gone to Columbia and Harvard and become a community organizer.

Ann Barnhardt: The Keystone of the Islamic Milieu: Inbreeding
Excerpt: Muslim men are never, ever allowed to be around, see, converse with or otherwise interact with any females outside of their families. However, they are permitted to act as chaperones for their female first cousins. If your first cousin is the only person of the opposite sex you ever get to interact with, is it any surprise that Muslims are marrying their first cousins more as the rule than as the exception? According to the BBC, 55% of Pakistani-Britons are married to a first cousin, and as a corollary to that produce "just under a third" of all children in the UK with genetic illnesses, despite being only 3% of the total births. As a direct result of inbreeding, the Muslim population is the only population on earth that is mentally and physically devolving. This inherent weakness makes Muslim populations more susceptible to nefarious, oppressive leadership and mass manipulation. The amount of objective evidence supporting this statement is colossal and obvious.

The social crisis of the working class
Excerpt: The size of government threatens the American way of life as we know it. The solution is straightforward -- cut government. A vibrant grassroots movement insists that it happen, and Washington is lousy with rival plans for how to go about it. The social threat to the American way of life is as dire, if not more so. But it is more insidious, and more complicated. No grassroots movement has mobilized against it, and no high-profile bipartisan commission is suggesting remedies. Yet it proceeds apace, all but ignored except in the lives of Americans. Among those trying to sound the alarm is Charles Murray of the American Enterprise Institute, an author and a thinker who has a well-earned reputation for prescience and fearlessness. In a bracing lecture on "The State of White America," he notes that America has long had an exceptional civic culture. "That culture is unraveling," he warns. "America is coming apart at the seams. Not the seams of race or ethnicity, but of class."

The President Will Offer Unicorns
Excerpt: Today at 1:00 p.m., President Barack Obama will address the nation to talk about balancing the budget. Yesterday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told the White House Press Corp that Paul Ryan’s budget plan is a non-starter because the budget is not balanced. Carney failed to mention that Barack Obama’s budget does not balance either.

Boundless Immigration: The Silent Killer of the Welfare State
Excerpt: As we finally embark on the imperative discussion of entitlement reform, we cannot overlook immigration and its disproportionate effect on the welfare state. Our immigration system is stuck in the Kennedy days of the 1960’s when our population was half of what it is today. Over the past few decades, in addition to the migration of 12 million+ illegals, we have allowed legal immigration to spiral out of control. We no longer promote an immigration system which benefits Americans, rather an unsustainable system of chain migration. This system encourages immigration which is too random, too low skilled, and quite simply too much. While our historical average for annual immigration ranged from 200,000-400,000, the current inane system has allowed for over 1 million new immigrants almost every year for the past decade. Again, a disproportionate number of those immigrants are low skilled.
PKS lawmaker ordered to recite Koran after porn incident
Dear God, is there no end to their cruelty? ~Bob. Excerpt: Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) lawmaker Arifinto has been ordered to recite the Koran at least one khatam (from cover to cover) within 30 days following the widely spread photographs depicting him looking at pornographic materials on his tablet computer during a plenary session at the parliament.

Italy: Muslim father slits daughter's throat 28 times to "uphold family honor"
Didn’t get the “Islam is a Religion of Peace” memo. ~Bob. Excerpt: Whenever an honor killing takes place in North America or Europe, the mainstream media tells us that honor killing is a cultural practice that has nothing to do with Islam -- despite several facts indicating the contrary. It is no accident or coincidence that Muslims commit 91 percent of honor killings worldwide. A manual of Islamic law certified as a reliable guide to Sunni orthodoxy by Al-Azhar University, the most respected authority in Sunni Islam, says that "retaliation is obligatory against anyone who kills a human being purely intentionally and without right." However, "not subject to retaliation" is "a father or mother (or their fathers or mothers) for killing their offspring, or offspring's offspring." ('Umdat al-Salik o1.1-2). In other words, someone who kills his child incurs no legal penalty under Islamic law.

New Provisional INES Rating + A Chernobyl Primer
Excerpt: Today the Japanese Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency revised its INES rating of the Fukushima Daiichi event. The previous assessment treated the events at each of the ailing reactors as separate: the core damage to units 1-3 resulted in an assignment of a 5 (accident with wider consequences) for each reactor; the problems at unit 4′s spent fuel pool were assigned a 3 (serious incident). NISA is now treating the situation as a single event, assigned a rating of 7 (major accident). This rating is still being assessed as information about the disposition of radioactive materials originating at the reactor site comes in. Because the rating is now the same as that assigned to the Chernobyl accident, the blog has received a number of questions about how the events at Fukushima differ from it. We present a sequence of events at Chernobyl, along with links to some denser technical matter for interested readers, and an IAEA report on the human costs of the disaster. For comparison, it’s been estimated that the radiation released by the Fukushima reactors is 1/10th that released to the environment at Chernobyl. (I wouldn’t be surprised if this provisional rating is reduced to “6” by the IAEA in the future. It simply isn’t in the same category as Chernobyl. -- Ron P.)

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