Political Digest for April 15, 2011
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 Tax Day. Happy 65th Birthday to me—how the hell did that happen?
Dollars, doughnuts, guns.
Bread is buttered on the side
Of the bill writers.
I will give you all
If you bow down and serve me.
One people for sale.
Worth reading: Steyn: Cometh the Hour, Punteth the Man
Excerpt: There’s something sad about a man so carelessly revealing himself as entirely inadequate to the moment. Government spending is an existential threat to the
. Whether or not anyone at the White House knows this, the viziers decided to shove the sultan out on stage with a pitifully unserious speech retreating to all his lamest tropes — the usual whiny, petty, and unpresidential partisan snippiness, and the ponderous demolition of straw men even he barely bothered to pretend he believed in: “Politicians are often eager to feed the impression that solving the problem is just a matter of eliminating waste and abuse — that tackling the deficit issue won’t require tough choices.” Yeah, right. Why don’t we start by eliminating whatever dope got paid to write that sentence? United States
Worth reading: Obama’s Dreamland: From the national debt to
, the political class is asleep at the wheel. Libya
Excerpt: Barack Obama just gave a belated but stern warning about escalating debt — a few weeks after he presented a 2011 budget with a $1.6 trillion deficit, the largest shortfall in American history. Congressional Republicans are now crowing about reducing Obama’s red ink by forcing some $38 billion in cuts. Such supposed slashing means
would borrow just $1,562 billion this year rather than the scheduled full $1,600 billion. The administration expects that someone will have enough money to float us $4 billion to $5 billion a day in loans — either foreigners such as the Chinese, whom we are accustomed to lecturing about their illiberal habits, or our own wealthy, whom President Obama so often chides and threatens with higher taxes. Meanwhile, shrill critics of Congress’s modest cuts claim that the elderly, poor, sick, and helpless will be cast adrift if their government dares to trim its massive borrowing by less than 3 percent — or just about 1 percent of this year’s projected $3.7 trillion budget. America
VIDEO: Ayaan Hirsi Ali Interviewed on BBC Newsnight – Separate Sharia From Islam
Excerpt: The following is a BBC interview of feminist Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The BBC interviewer made excuse after excuse for Islam in response to Hirsi Ali’s cogent analysis. It seems that the agents of the BBC simply believe the taqiyya that they are fed by the Muslim establishment and take it at face value.
Obama tells NASA: Boost Muslims' self-esteem
Excerpt: And considering that the International Space Station was built using mostly American money and manufacturing, one has to wonder how we're going to send our astronauts back and forth? Fear not, good friends, we have the answer.
, that paragon of virtue, has offered to help. At a price, of course. We have a contract with the Russians to rocket our folks to the ISS for only $56,000,000.00 per chair. And starting in 2014, the price goes to $63,000,000.00 per ride. I guess when you have a monopoly you can charge whatever you want. And we have a Government which, in a short-sighted decision, has given them that monopoly. Russia
Senior House Republican unveils leadership-backed plan to boost offshore drilling
Republican energy plan: develop safer, cleaner versions of proven sources like coal, oil, gas and nuclear. Democrats plan: tiny, wind-powered cars for everyone. Except the rich leftist elites like Obama, Gore,
, Kerry, Soros, etc. ~Bob. Excerpt: House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) unveiled bills Tuesday that would require fast action on offshore drilling permits and a major expansion of areas open to development. “In contrast to the President’s drill nowhere new plan, this is a drill smart plan,” Clinton said in a statement. The bills mark the first GOP leadership-backed legislative response to White House offshore oil-and-gas policies that Republicans allege are wrongly locking up Hastings resources. U.S.
Boehner sees 'hollow targets' in speech; Ryan calls it 'hopelessly inadequate'
Democrats continue to support pass-the-pain-to-the-future plans for dealing with the debt. But the future is almost here, and it won’t be pretty. ~Bob. Excerpt: House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Wednesday President Obama has failed to present a detailed and "serious" plan for tackling the national debt and budget deficits. He also raised the specter that the House will not vote to raise the nation’s debt ceiling if the plans do not get more concrete.
GE calls tax refund release a 'hoax'
General Electric has said a press release stating it would return a $3.2 billion tax refund to the Treasury Department is a hoax. Anne Eisele, a GE spokeswoman, added that the company “did not receive a tax refund last year,” as the purported release said. The Yes Men, a group with a history of these sorts of tricks, is behind the fake statement, Reuters reported. In the fake release, which The Associated Press temporarily reported as legitimate, GE said the tax havens it used were entirely legal but that it would phase out its use of havens. GE has been under criticism since The New York Times reported in March that the conglomerate made more than $14 billion in worldwide profits in 2010, yet paid nothing in taxes to the federal government.
Does Employer-Based Health Insurance Discourage Entrepreneurship?
Excerpt: Nearly three-quarters of all full-time workers in the
get health insurance from their employers. Concerns have long been voiced that workers with employer-based insurance may be reluctant to leave their jobs to start new businesses because of the high cost of premiums or the possibility of disrupting or losing insurance coverage -- a phenomenon referred to as "entrepreneurship lock," says the Kauffman-RAND Institute for Entrepreneurship Public Policy. So does the United States health insurance system impede business creation? A Kauffman-RAND study considered whether people with employer-based health insurance are more likely to become self-employed (1) if they have an alternate source of health insurance through a spouse or (2) if they have reached the age of 65 and become eligible for Medicare. Findings include: Individuals with access to a spouse's health insurance plan are much more likely to become self-employed. Self-employment rates rise when Medicare becomes available; there was a large and statistically significant increase in business ownership rates during the month when a worker turns 65 and qualifies for Medicare. The analysis provides some evidence that entrepreneurship lock exists, which raises concerns that the bundling of health insurance and employment may discourage business creation. The implication of this research is that the availability of affordable health insurance for the self-employed has an important impact on whether individuals are likely to become entrepreneurs. U.S.
Debt And Deficits: The Symptoms, Not The Disease
Excerpt: Debt and deficits are the symptoms, not the disease, but the persistent failures of lawmakers to cut spending have resulted in a situation where these symptoms have started provoking other symptoms. Think of them like tumors. Tumors are a symptom of cancer. But independently tumors wreak all sorts of havoc on the body. They not only fuel their growth by stealing nutrients from other bodily purposes, but they also impinge on the function of vital organs like the brain, the lungs, and the liver. So it is with debt and deficits. They hinder economic growth and destroy jobs. Besides being expensive and self-perpetuating, they increase the probability of a severe fiscal crisis and can signal to investors that the United States may be getting closer to the time when it won‘t be able to pay those investors back. While economists understand the negative consequences of the failure to cut spending and the persistence of deficit and debt, they can‘t pinpoint at what point these debt levels become unacceptable to global credit markets.
Must read: Tax inequity
has one of the most progressive tax systems in the world. The top 1 percent of taxpayers pay 38 percent of all the income taxes despite having just 20 percent of the income. The top 10 percent of taxpayers pay 70 percent of the income tax while having just 46 percent of the income. At the other end, the bottom 50 percent of taxpayers pay just 2.7 percent of the income tax while having 13 percent of the income. The income tax has become much more progressive in the past 30 years, resulting in a situation in which a relatively small minority of taxpayers pay the bulk of the taxes, while most American pay little or any income tax. This is causing an increasing disconnect between benefits from government and what most citizens pay for. One result is a greater polarization in the political realm where a majority of citizens increasingly demand more government benefits for which they want others to pay. The Swedes were on this same destructive path, but they reversed course over the last couple of decades and made their tax system far less progressive even though their tax rates at all levels are above most of those in the United States . The result has been a tempering of demand for new government services as people at all income levels realize they will be the ones paying for those services and not some mythical “rich” person. United States
ICE: McDonald's Managers Sold Stolen IDs
Would you like a stolen ID with that order? ~Bob. Excerpt: Two McDonald's Corp. restaurant managers in Savannah, Ga., were charged Wednesday with selling identities stolen from US citizens to prospective workers -- a case that federal authorities said shows the risks employers are increasingly taking to mask the hiring of illegal immigrants.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said Wednesday that agents executed search warrants at two McDonald's outlets and the headquarters of McDonald's-NTG Enterprises, where they seized employee records and other evidence. The Savannah-based company owns and operates six McDonald's restaurants in the area. US
Romney and Obama -- Bipartisan Brothers
Excerpt: Mitt Romney is too much like Barack Obama. I don't see how he'd win the 2012 GOP nod because he's got too much in common with the guy he wants to replace. Both men began a run for the White House during their first term in statewide office. Romney never bothered to run for re-election as
governor. He didn't stick around to solve the state's problems. He treated the job like a stepping-stone. Likewise, Obama ran for the White House in his first term as a Massachusetts senator. Each could win a gold medal in flip-flopping. U.S.
Phone hacking: senior News of the World journalist arrested
Excerpt: The police investigation into phone hacking at the News of the World has taken a dramatic turn with the surprise arrest of James Weatherup, a senior journalist at the paper. He is the third current or former News of the World journalist to be arrested as part of Scotland Yard's new investigation into alleged phone hacking at the paper. Weatherup, who has not previously been named in connection with the scandal, was arrested early on Thursday. He is currently in custody at a police station in outer
. There are also expected to be further searches of the News of the World offices in Wapping shortly. It is thought that police felt the paper had failed to be fully co-operative during searches last week and officers are now determined to be more robust. (This story began last week with the arrest of two of “News of the World’s” editors. It is alleged they’ve been intercepting private emails, voicemails, and such intended for a wide variety of newsworthy targets; sort of operating a private spying operation. Ron P.) London
House approves budget deal that averted shutdown
Excerpt: Eliminating any threat of a government shutdown until the fall, the House on Thursday approved a funding plan that reduces federal agency budgets by more than $38 billion for the second half of the year. On a 260-167 vote, a bipartisan coalition supported the plan, as conservatives revolted over what they considered budgeting gimmicks and liberals opposed the plan as too draconian in its impact on programs that benefit lower-income individuals. The Senate will take up the measure Thursday evening and is expected to pass it on a large bipartisan vote, sending it to the White House for President Obama’s signature in time to meet the Friday midnight deadline for when the current funding resolution expires.
Budget deal: CBO analysis shows initial spending cuts less than expected
Excerpt: A budget compromise that was touted as cutting $38.5 billion from the 2011 federal budget would actually only cut $352 million in expected spending during this fiscal year, according to a Congressional Budget Office analysis — news that stirred conservative anger in the hours before a key vote.
Another Border Agent Convicted for Stopping a Mexican Drug Smuggler
Excerpt: In what appears to be yet another case of the Mexican Government orchestrating a fake crime against one of their drug smuggling criminals hauling dope into the U.S., Border Patrol Agent Jesus Diaz, a 7-year Border Patrol veteran, was convicted in Federal Court on February 24 of one count of excessive force (under color of law) and 5 counts of lying to Internal Affairs. He is facing a maximum of 35 years in prison when he is sentenced in November. Meanwhile, he’s been in jail since the verdict nearly two months ago. He’s in solitary confinement 23 hours per day for his safety. So far, the judge has refused to allow bond while Diaz awaits sentencing.
Example is the great teacher. ~Bob. Excerpt: The California Teachers Association is planning a week’s worth of Wisconsin-style protests and rallies, from May 9-13, to “force legislature to pass tax extensions.” That’s the short term objective of the “State of
” protests, according to the website for the rallies (screen shot below). The longterm objective is to, “educate and convince communities to change tax structure and achieve tax fairness in order to achieve adequate, stable and ongoing funding for public education and essential public services.” Emergency
Iran’s Supreme Leader Declared the Mythical Figure in End of Times
Are you scared yet? ~Bob. Excerpt: On Tuesday, April 12, Mojtaba Zolnoor, the representative of Iranian leader Ayatollah Khamenei in the Revolutionary Guards Corps, told the Iranian regime-run news outlet Khabar Online that a number of the Ulama (Islamic scholars) and authoritative grand ayatollahs have announced that Ali Khamenei is quite possibly the fabled “Seyed Khorasani.” According to the Islamic Hadith, Khorasani is an individual from the region who is not only a companion of the Mahdi (or 12th Imam), but is responsible for setting the stage for the Mahdi’s emergence. (Isn’t this like having a Jim Jones or a David Koresh as President/Dictator of a soon-to-be nuclear-armed country? I notice the best informed columnist on the
Middle East, Michael Ledeen, has remained very quiet about this issue. Ron P)
Santorum Explores Presidential Bid
Suggested slogan: Better than Trump. ~Bob. Excerpt: Santorum has spent the past few months visiting early primary states and has committed to several Republican primary debates, including one in
on May 5. Santorum, a favorite of social conservatives, is a staunch opponent of abortion rights and stem-cell research. He served in the U.S. Senate from 1995-2007, and was defeated for a third term by Democrat Bob Casey. South Carolina
Dutch News: Bring Back Border Controls says PVV
Full Post: The anti-immigration PVV has called for border controls to be reintroduced around the
Netherlands following ’s decision to give visas to thousands of young Libyans and Tunisians fleeing the fighting. Italy France and Germany are already considering reopening checkpoints on their borders with Italy and . Party leader Geert Wilders said Austria ’s decision is a scandal. ‘We don’t need any more North Africans here,’ the Telegraaf quotes Wilders as saying. On Tuesday, immigration minister Gerd Leers said he was very angry about Italy 's move. Italy
Geert Wilders: Hans Jansen on the Witness Stand
Excerpt: As regular readers will recall, last year’s prosecution of Geert Wilders in
was terminated abruptly when Mr. Wilders’ lawyer revealed that one of the judges in the case had apparently attempted to tamper with a witness just before the trial began. The witness in question was Prof. Hans Jansen, one of the world’s foremost experts on Islam. Now that Mr. Wilders’ trial has reconvened before a new panel of judges, Prof. Jansen has been called to the witness stand to explain the sensational events at a dinner party last fall. Amsterdam
British Prime Minister David Cameron: Migration Threatens Our Way of Life
They may have noticed too late. ~Bob. Excerpt: Pledging to cut the numbers entering
to tens of thousands, rather than hundreds of thousands, Mr Cameron will say that "for too long, immigration has been too high". He will also promise to "stamp out" forced marriages, saying that "cultural sensitivity" cannot be allowed to stop the Government from acting. In the speech to party members in Hampshire, the Prime Minister will attack Labour for claiming it was racist to talk about immigration, saying it is "untruthful and unfair" not to speak about the issue, however uncomfortable. Britain
Pentagon Says It Has Kept Up Some Strikes on
Excerpt: Pentagon officials disclosed Wednesday that American warplanes had continued to strike targets in
Libya even after the Obama administration said the was stepping back from offensive missions and letting NATO take the lead. United States
British Tourist Beaten to Death in
Prison Cell Dubai
Excerpt: The first his family heard about the incident was when his sister received a call from a fellow inmate who contacted her in the
. The prisoner had apparently found her number as the next of kin contact in his passport which was left in his cell. Mr Bradley Brown’s family were formally told about his death on Wednesday. UK
FBI Snatches Alleged Pirate Inside
Great first step. Next the speedy trial and public execution. ~Bob. Excerpt: In a first for
U.S. anti-piracy efforts, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents ventured into to arrest the man who allegedly oversaw ransom negotiations for four Americans held hostage and later killed by pirates. Mohammad Shibin, 50 years old, was captured in a joint operation, led by the FBI and coordinated with Somali authorities. Somalia U.S. agents had never before apprehended an alleged pirate on land, though it has prosecuted a number of Somali pirates caught attacking U.S. ships in the Arabian Sea. To date, counter-piracy efforts had been waged almost exclusively in millions of square miles of ocean off the Horn of Africa.
Who Do You Trust?--Obama and Ryan agree: This is a "defining moment."
Excerpt: They say America is politically divided. But in the days following the appearance of Paul Ryan's GOP budget in the firmament last week, the planets of political debate finally aligned. We were all agreed: The issues before us were the future of federal spending, the future of federal entitlement programs, and the future of federal taxes. The terms set, the debate would proceed—after the president of the United States addressed the subject in a major speech on the nation's fiscal future. Instead, Barack Obama at George Washington University poisoned the well. Where is Rahm Emanuel when we need him? Mr. Emanuel was Little Lord Fauntleroy compared to the tone of discourse Bill Daley loosed on the body politic. What Mr. Obama delivered yesterday was a campaign speech, and a petty rank one at that. After Republicans won the House in November, the question was whether a standard-issue politician named John Boehner had it in him to rise to the responsibility of being Speaker of the House. There's near universal agreement he has.
The Perceived Car Bomb Threat in Mexico
Excerpt: On April 5, Mexican newspaper El Universal reported that a row of concrete Jersey barriers was being emplaced in front of the U.S. Consulate General in Monterrey, Mexico. The story indicated that the wall was put in to block visibility of the facility, but being only about 107 centimeters (42 inches) high, such barriers do little to block visibility. Instead, this modular concrete wall is clearly being used to block one lane of traffic in front of the consulate in an effort to provide the facility with some additional standoff distance from the avenue that passes in front of it. Due to the location and design of the current consulate building in Monterrey, there is only a narrow sidewalk separating the building’s front wall from the street and very little distance between the front wall and the building. This lack of standoff has been long noted, and it was an important factor in the decision to build a new consulate in Monterrey (construction began in June 2010 and is scheduled to be completed in January 2013).
Excerpt: Planned Parenthood claims to support women’s health. Their institutional actions, though, indicate they support criminal activity that would harm a child. How? By facilitating abortions for children raped by adult men. Fully 91% of the abortion clinics contacted would help an underaged girl receive an abortion even when the clinic counselor knew the father was an adult male. Consider only one of 813 examples of Planned Parenthood participating in the exploitation of a minor shared by Steven Ertelt: One video showed staff at a Wisconsin facility counseling a purportedly 14-year-old girl to not divulge how a 31-year-old man impregnated her. The video also shows Planned Parenthood staff coaching the girl on how to obtain an abortion without her parent’s consent — in violation of Wisconsin state law.
Suspect in Ark. soldier death says killed before
Excerpt: A man charged in the killing of a soldier outside an Army recruiting center in Arkansas says he also killed a man in Tennessee. Abdulhakim Muhammad makes the claim in a letter to Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Herb Wright. The letter doesn't say who was killed in the 2006 incident, only that it was a man who robbed and terrorized Muslims.
Philly Health Dept Giving Condoms to 11-Year-Olds
Where were these people when I was 16 and had to walk three miles to a gas station with a vending machine? ~Bob. Excerpt: “Playing it safe just got easier. If you live in Philadelphia and are between the ages of 11 and 19 you can now have condoms mailed directly to you for FREE.” So it goes on the website TakeControlPhilly.org, a condom campaign initiated by Philadelphia’s Department of Health.
TSA Officer Admits Plot to Post Porn on Christian Site
Excerpt: On April 10, Bob Seashols, a Coordination Center Officer for the Transportation and Security Administration (TSA) at the Richmond International Airport (RIC) and an administrator for Atheists United’s Facebook page, took part in a coordinated effort to populate pornographic images, extreme profanity, and sexually explicit anti-Christian hate-speech on the Facebook page of Ken Ham, an internationally known Christian ministry leader who serves as president of Answers in Genesis-U.S (AiG) and the popular Creation Museum, located near Cincinnati, Ohio.
'Atlas Shrugged' is a movie for our times
Excerpt: Twenty-nine years after her death, novelist Ayn Rand is coming to a theater near you. After many failed attempts, her 1957 novel "Atlas Shrugged" has been made into a film. In an age when overspending, overreaching, higher-taxing and overregulating government increasingly strangles the private sector, robbing us of our liberties and transforming the country into the model of a socialist state, Rand's story reminds us how far ahead of her time she was and just how dangerous a time we live in now. At least one member of Congress has recognized Rand's intuitiveness. Rep. Paul Ryan, the author of the Republican budget proposal, reportedly directed his staff to read "Atlas Shrugged" back in 2010. Ryan, writes Christopher Beam of New York magazine, even credits Rand as "the reason I got involved in public service."