Thursday, September 22, 2011

Political Digest for September 22, 2011

Got “Blog Removed” again Wednesday morning. Don’t know why they can’t fix. Sorry. If you get it online, please check back.

Digest posts may be spotty due to my schedule over next few days.

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.

Unsound Bites by Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: The so-called "debates" among Republican presidential aspirants are classic examples of the media spreading misunderstanding instead of enlightenment. The ancient admonition, "With all you're getting, get understanding" has been replaced in the media by, "With all you're getting, get sound bites -- and, if possible, 'gotcha' sound bites." After all the media hype over Governor Rick Perry's having called Social Security "a Ponzi scheme," viewers are no more informed than before as to what specifically is a Ponzi scheme, what are the objections to such schemes, and whether those same objections apply to Social Security. Even if such questions were answered, we would still not have weighed the alternatives to Social Security. Serious issues like that cannot be covered in sound bites or with "gotcha" questions from the media. The whole "debate" format, with far more candidates than have any realistic chance of getting the nomination, means that serious issues cannot get serious attention, because there is just not enough time with so many people. Most of what we learn from those "debates" is who is glib and fast on his feet.

Can a Palestinian Authority Rooted in an Untenable Status Quo Survive the U.N. Clash?
Excerpt: Quiz question: Who is applying to the United Nations for membership of a Palestinian state not-yet-born? Is it a) the Palestinian Authority, or b) the Palestine Liberation Organization? Much of the media reporting treats the two as if they were interchangeable labels for the same thing -- hardly surprising, perhaps, given that Mahmoud Abbas is both the President of the PA and the Chairman of the PLO (and also the leader of the Fatah party, which dominates both). But the distinction is important, since even though the U.N. bid is in the hands of the PLO, its consequences could land the PA in a mortal crisis in the months ahead, with profoundly destabilizing consequences for the region. The U.N. bid -- whose precise content is not yet known, or perhaps even decided -- will be made by the PLO, which since 1973 has represented the Palestinians via observer status in the international. The PA has no standing at the U.N. -- it was created, under the 1994 Oslo Accords signed between Israel and the PLO, as an interim body that would administer the West Bank and Gaza during the six-year period in which the peace process was to have been completed, serving also as the bureaucratic and political foundation of the state the Palestinians expected would be created through talks between the PLO and Israel. (From TIME...this will be a significant vote and a turn-around point in the will Israel handle this?...the position of the Islamic nations in that part of the world is pretty damn clear...will Israel sit back and wait for Iran to become nuclear?...I think will get real hot over in that region in the not too distant future...the UN will likely vote for statehood...many feel sorry for the Palestinians and abhor Israel...look for some serious military actions over the next few years...and do not be surprised if Israel plays the nuclear card well ahead of Iran... –Wayne.)

How Perry Could Prove Patriotic Immigration Reform Credentials--Recall TX Legislature
Excerpt: The Perry people must have been whooping it up in Austin at the end of June. Despite coming into town with towering Republican majorities and clear mandates to act on the Texan immigration disaster [1], the legislature adjourned having done - nothing! Even “Sanctuary Cities [2]” were saved. (The pleasant-sounding term masks the evil of local jurisdictions willfully blocking the enforcement of Federal immigration laws.) Nothing like the Arizona legislation [3]- mandating that local law enforcement officers enforce the Federal laws - got anywhere near passage. Perry’s wealthy supporters were happy and so no doubt was he, a situation I discussed in Texan Plutocrats Nullify State Election, Protect Sanctuary Cities: Where Was Governor Perry? [4] But running for President creates problems. Politico did a fine job of discovering the smoking guns in this squalid transaction: Rick Perry's pro-immigration Texas base [5]By Maggie Haberman 9/2/11; and his opponents noticed and began to speak up [6].

Taliban suicide bomber assassinated head of Afghan High Peace Council
Two thoughts. Did he get the idea to hide a bomb in is turban from the Danish cartoonist—who was maligned for suggesting this wasn’t a “religion of peace”? And if you don’t search a member of the Taliban as a “sign of trust,” you get a Darwin Award for taking yourself out of the gene pool. ~Bob. Excerpt: The Taliban have claimed credit for today's suicide attack in Kabul that killed Burhanuddin Rabbani, the chief of the Afghan High Peace Council and former president of Afghanistan. The suicide bomber killed Rabbani in his home and seriously wounded Masoom Stanekzai, the peace council's secretary, after detonating an explosive device that was hidden in his turban. "A Taliban member who went to Rabbani's house for peace talks detonated a bomb hidden in his turban," a statement released by the Kabul police chief's office said, according to Reuters. The suicide bomber was not searched by security forces prior to entering Rabbani's home as a sign of trust.

Does Buffett Rule Add Up For Obama Deficit Plan?
Excerpt: But Williams points out that more heavily taxing CEOs, celebrities, sports stars and hedge fund managers isn't the answer to the nation's deficit woes — not even close. He put together an estimate based on a tax rate that's so high it probably would never happen — 50 percent — and says that if you taxed all income above $1 million at that rate, you'd only get 10 percent of what most experts say is needed to tackle the nation's deficit. Alan Viard, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, says the president is making a mistake by putting a focus on taxing millionaires. "I think what we have to see from both Republicans and Democrats is a greater emphasis on the hard choices we will ultimately have to make, instead of the easy choices we would like to think would be enough," Viard says.

Cairo, Egypt and Cairo, Illinois
Excerpt: It should surprise no-one that Middle Eastern politics have taken on a new, apocalyptic tone. Cairo, Egypt - the site of President Barack Obama's effusive address to the Muslim world in June 2009 - is becoming the world's epicenter of despair. Five years earlier, as a candidate for Illinois State Senate, (Think he means US Senate ~Bob.) Obama also spoke in Cairo, Illinois, at the southern tip of the state where the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers converge. It merited a mention in his campaign book The Audacity of Hope: "We discussed what might be done to restart the area's economy and get more money into the schools; we heard about sons and daughters on their way to Iraq and the need to tear down an old hospital that had become a blight on downtown." A third of Cairo's population lives below the poverty line and its unemployment rate is 12%. Three-fifths of its people are African-American. Obama singled it out as a subject for hope and change. There is a component of the American population whose marginalization compares to Egypt, and that is African-Americans aged 16 to 19 years. Their official unemployment rate is 46.5%, although the effective rate is much higher, for only 13% of blacks in that age bracket actually have jobs. Only a quarter of black high school seniors will graduate college. Cairo, Egypt and Cairo, Illinois have another thing in common: their economic misery is the outcome of political models that warehouse the poor rather than prepare them for productivity. Like most Third World dictators, the rulers of Egypt from Nasser to Mubarak kept most of their people poor, illiterate, and down on the farm, while employing the putative higher education system as a political pressure valve. Starting with the Johnson administration, America's incipient welfare state made the poor, and especially the African-American poor, dependent on a political regime that encouraged economic dependency. That is why the people of Cairo, Egypt and Cairo, Illinois are starving in the midst of plenty. There are plenty of jobs for people who can read the new edition of the manual. Just 4% of Americans with a four-year college degree or better are unemployed, a remarkable fact given the mediocre quality of American university graduates. Evidently, basic reading comprehension, basic math and the ability to produce work on time are sufficient qualifications for a job in corporate America. (I received the Spengler item below from an Israeli, along with the following comment: This is what is sitting next door to us in Israel. The irresponsibility and down right stupidity O'Bama has shown by dumping Mubarak is appalling. While O'Bama's "experts" may be incapable of reading and understanding simple statistics, we in Israel are reasonably literate and can see that within the next three months there will be massive starvation in Egypt. The same is probably true of Syria as well. Then what? –D)

Will The U.S. Save Israel or Will Israel Save The U.S.?
Excerpt: With a vote at the UN this week on Palestinian statehood it is appropriate to ask if the United States will save Israel or will Israel save the United States. Having spent ten days visiting defense installations in Israel and talking to members of the general staff, my confidence about Israel’s ability to defend itself has soared. This tiny nation of seven million is a miracle of technical marvels and remarkable spirit. Every weapon system this nation buys is Israelized. The Israeli drone is a composite of parts from several nations and Israeli avionics. The F-15 is an American plane adapted for the unique conditions in the Middle East neighborhood. While some sabras lament the decrease in national spirit, the IDF education program instills in each and every draftee a sense of national history and purpose. It is inspiring to meet teenagers of eighteen and nineteen who are prepared to make battlefield decisions. I almost fainted when I encountered a twenty-one year old brigade commander in an elite unit who is an articulate warrior and, at least as sophisticated as most officers ten years his senior in the United States. (21-year-old brigade commander? Have to see to believe. Shades of George A. Custer at 23. ~Bob.)

Jailed U.S. Border Agent Scary Inside Look at Drug Cartels
Excerpt: A corrupt U.S. border agent sitting in a federal prison cell is offering a chilling view of the Mexican drug cartels whose drug shipments he protected for years in return for hefty bribes. He is so terrified of the cartel's famous vicious streak that he fears for his own life -- and the lives of his family -- if he is identified as speaking to ABC News. He depicts a dangerously paranoid crime organization that has spies throughout U.S. law enforcement. To illustrate the cartel's pervasive reach, he said he got his introduction to them through an American cop. From there the former border patrol agent was convicted of shepherding cartel vehicles loaded with drugs safely over the border. Prosecutors say he profited handsomely, being paid $4,000 per car and $6,000 to escort vans - in addition to a $10,000 retainer fee.

Would Obama Retaliate against a Nuclear Attack?
Excerpt: What if a Muslim country, such as Iran, launched a nuclear attack against us, or if agents aligned with Pakistan using dirty bombs were to attack America? Would Barack Hussein Obama retaliate with nuclear force, as has been our stated policy since the 1950s? Would he even unleash a barrage of non-nuclear shock and awe that would level those countries so that they'd be incapable of striking a second time? When queried in Japan in November 2009, Mr. Obama declined to defend President Harry Truman's nuclear attack on Hiroshima, despite it having saved hundreds of thousands of American soldiers who would have otherwise died trying to defeat the recalcitrant Japanese. Many on the left and in academia have gone so far as to characterize it as a display of American racism, questioning if we would have done so had the victims been British. They ignore the efficacy of how that one-time use of a nuclear weapon spared this country from ever being a victim of nuclear attack. This is a question the president needs to be asked, given how he is a proponent of a doctrine labeled Responsibility to Protect, "R2P." The question is, though, what is Mr. Obama's conceptual understanding of the term "responsibility" and how will it influence the manner in which he wages war? The past may be a guide. As with all references to "responsibility," domestic or foreign, Obama sees responsibility as a type of sacrifice by the more powerful to those less powerful, be it redistribution of wealth or sacrificing one's optimal protection when weighed against how it effects those he considers innocent. A nuclear response to a nuclear attack on us, or even a devastating shock and awe campaign, would certainly kill many non-combatants Obama would consider innocent. (A nuke attack on the US could lead to a dictatorship and a suspension of civil liberties. And terrible retaliation. See the scary novel Caliphate by Tom Kratman. ~Bob.)

Solyndra execs to take 5th, refuse to testify before House panel
Hey, it’s the
Chicago Way
. ~Bob. Excerpt: Solyndra Inc.'s chief executive officer and chief financial officer will invoke their 5th Amendment rights and not answer questions during a Friday hearing before a House investigative committee, their attorneys said. Attorneys for Solyndra Chief Executive Brian Harrison and W.G. “Bill” Stover, the company’s chief financial officer, sent letters to the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s investigative subcommittee Tuesday saying the two executives would not answer any questions during the hearing. “I have advised Mr. Harrison that he should decline to answer questions put to him by this subcommittee based on his rights under the Fifth Amendment,” Harrison’s attorney, Walter F. Brown Jr., said in a letter to Rep. Clifford B. Stearns (R-Fla.), the committee’s chairman, and Rep. Diane DeGette (D-Colo.). “This is not a decision arrived at lightly, but it is a decision dictated by current circumstances,” Brown said in the letter.

Beware of Presidents Wearing False Yarmulkes
Excerpt: This week, with a major U.N. assembly taking place, there seems to be a great deal of behind the scenes scrambling to prevent Palestinian statehood. Scrambling is the key word. Why exactly are we scrambling? Should we not have taken the steps we now scramble to take months ago? The scrambling is to form a multi-nation block of statehood for Palestine so that the U.S. does not stand alone in the U.N. Security Council in opposition to Palestinian statehood. This should have been a done deal a long, long time ago but that isn’t the case. It seems that Obama promised Palestinian Authority leader Abbas that Palestine would indeed gain recognition and statehood upon which now, Obama seems to have reversed course. The first question is, why would Obama advocate Palestinian statehood to begin with? I’ll get back to that. The second question is why would he reverse course at such a late date and be forced to scramble for diplomatic backing? The answer to the second question seems obvious. Political expediency.

Excerpt: Public Policy Polling, a highly respected Democratic firm, is out with it's poll in the Massachusetts Senate race, and the results should serve as a wake up call to us all. In the poll released today, Elizabeth warren and Scott brown are in a statistical dead heat at 46%-44% with warren showing a two point lead. (Those complaining that Sen. Brown is a RINO will like Sen. Warren about as much as they like Sen. Reid and Sen. Coons [C-Del.], who control the senate courtesy of the Tea Party candidates in those states. ~Bob.)

Excerpt: Mind you, all of this was set up by 2 Moms, Kenna and Tara, with a staff of 20 simple volunteers, most of them women who had sons, daughters, husbands, and friends on the fire lines. Someone always knew someone who could get what they needed- beds, mechanics, food, space. Local people using local connections to mobilize local resources made this happen. No government aid. No Trained Expert. At one point the fire was less than a mile from the school, and everyone but hose volunteers were evacuated.  The fire was turned. The Red Cross came in, looked at what they were doing, and quietly went away to set up a fire victim relief center nearby. They said they couldn’t do it any better. FEMA came in and told those volunteers and Kenna that they had to leave, FEMA was here now. Kenna told them she worked for the firefighters, not them. They were obnoxious, bossy, got in the way, and criticized everything. The volunteers refused to back down and kept doing their job, and doing it well. Next FEMA said the HEB supplies and kitchen had to go, that was blatant commercialism. Kenna said they stayed. They stayed. FEMA threw a wall eyed fit about chewing tobacco and cigarettes being available in the commissary area. Kenna told them the firefighters had requested it, and it was staying. It stayed. FEMA got very nasty and kept asking what organization these volunteers belonged to- and all the volunteers told them “Our community”. FEMA didn’t like that and demanded they make up a name for themselves. One mother remarked “They got me at my boiling point!” and suddenly the group was “212 Degrees”. FEMA’s contribution? They came in the next day with red shirts embroidered with “212 Degrees”,  insisting the volunteers had to be identified, never realizing it was a slap in their face. Your tax dollars at work- labeling volunteers with useless shirts and getting in the way. The upshot? A fire that the experts from California (for whom we are so grateful there are no words) said would take 2-3 weeks to get under control was 100% contained in 8 days. (And they wonder why regular folks loath government bureaucrats. ~Bob.)

Is Barack Obama the American Neil Kinnock?
Excerpt: Barack Obama reminds me of Michael Foot and Neil Kinnock when they were Labour Party leaders in the 1980s, both out of touch politicians stuck in the language of class war, and devoid of any real ideas to create jobs and generate wealth. Back in June 1983, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had a terrific response to the rather pathetic class war warriors of the Labour Left, telling ITN: The really divisive policies are those of the Labour Party who start to talk about ‘class war’, ‘class struggle’—all the old Marxist language. That is outdated. It is not suitable for Britain. I thought when the first Parliament which I came into, in Harold Macmillan's time, we got rid of all that stuff. It is ridiculous—it belongs to a different age. They brought it back and it's they who deliberately set out to be divisive. We are British and I do not divide between one group and another.

Legitimizing Cold Blooded Murderers; The New Rave!
Excerpt: There is barely a day that passes without the drone-like reminder that the world we now live in is riddled with the carnage left by the blood lusting and demonically influenced hordes in our midst. One would think that after 10 years of studying and fighting this enemy, we might actually have a firm understanding of him and have determined how best to defeat him. We certainly should have been able to determine what doesn't work. Instead, we unilaterally placed a "governor" on our force projection which presumed to increase trust and goodwill amongst the Afghan population by reducing civilian casualties. In so doing, we necessarily extended the need for US forces there into perpetuity.

Mordant Parody of the Paranoid Obananoid Website
Excerpt: Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t find anything funny about Adolf Hitler. Never have. Not even slightly. One exception was the great Carole Lombard, Jack Benny and Robert Stack film of 1942, To Be or Not To Be directed by Ernst Lubitsch. One other exception just surfaced this week. The new video shows Adolf Hitler, in full, furious Führer mode, as he discovers that his web team designed‘s site and did such a terrible job that it’s become the butt of Internet jokes, threatening Obama’s chances for reelection.

Hastings pushes supercommittee to expand oil drilling
Excerpt: House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) is pressing the bipartisan supercommittee that will seek $1.5 trillion in deficit cuts to raise revenue by expanding U.S. oil-and-gas drilling. Hastings’s effort signals a push to address contentious energy policy issues on the 12-member, bicameral panel that begins meeting this week. The Washington State Republican used a Fox News op-ed Tuesday to make that case that expanding areas available for drilling will bring in billions of new revenues through royalties, lease bids and other sources. “If the Joint Committee is serious about addressing America’s long-term budget issues, it must recognize the substantial economic potential of developing America’s energy resources,” Hastings wrote. He cited analysis by the industry consulting firm Wood Mackenzie, which concluded that opening the Atlantic and Pacific Coast, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other areas could bring in $64 billion in federal revenue by 2020. (Oil? We don’t need no stinking oil! We got Green Energy through Solyndra! BO promised us. ~Bob.)

Health spending bill clears Senate panel over GOP's opposition to health law
Excerpt: Senate GOP appropriators on Tuesday voted en bloc against next fiscal year's spending bill for health programs, dispelling any doubts that the partisan rancor over Democrats' healthcare law remains as strong as ever a year and a half after its passage.
The $158 billion spending bill cleared the Senate Health appropriations panel along party lines. The full committee takes up the bill on Wednesday. Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said the bill cuts spending by $308 million over FY 2011 levels and eliminates 15 programs. Republicans said it's not enough, and assailed its $4.5 billion for provisions of the healthcare reform law.

U.S. assembling secret drone bases in Africa, Arabian Peninsula, officials say
I hate that they put operational details in the paper. Must have been nice in WWII when the press was on our side. ~Bob. Excerpt: The Obama administration is assembling a constellation of secret drone bases for counterterrorism operations in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula as part of a newly aggressive campaign to attack al-Qaeda affiliates in Somalia and Yemen, U.S. officials said. One of the installations is being established in Ethi­o­pia, a U.S. ally in the fight against al-Shabab, the Somali militant group that controls much of that country. Another base is in the Seychelles, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean, where a small fleet of “hunter-killer” drones resumed operations this month after an experimental mission demonstrated that the unmanned aircraft could effectively patrol Somalia from there.

U.S. sharpens warning to Pakistan
Excerpt: The Obama administration has sharply warned Pakistan that it must cut ties with a leading Taliban group based in the tribal region along the Afghan border and help eliminate its leaders, according to officials from both countries. In what amounts to an ultimatum, administration officials have indicated that the United States will act unilaterally if Pakistan does not comply.

A $16 muffin? Justice Dept. audit finds ‘wasteful’ and extravagant spending
Excerpt: Where does a muffin cost more than $16? At a government conference, it turns out. They may run just over $2 at your average coffee shop, but the Justice Department paid seven to eight times as much at a gathering it held at the Capital Hilton in Washington. And on Tuesday, the muffins seemed well on their way to joining the Pentagon’s $600 toilet seat as symbols of wasteful spending. Justice Department auditors also criticized a $76-per-person lunch at a conference at a Hilton in San Francisco, featuring slow-cooked Berkshire pork carnitas, hearts-of-romaine salad — and coffee at $8.24 a cup. (I manage a small non-profit. Unlike most government bureaucrats, I try to be more careful when I’m spending other people’s money. The government is so big, that they don’t see it makes a difference. That said, the price of hotel meals is shocking. Easy to pay $40 per person for a box lunch—sandwich, chips, apple, cookie and coffee or soda. A $76 lunch in San Francisco sounds in range for what hotel charge if you want to meet there. ~Bob.)

Important: Economic Freedom of the World
Don’t bother me with this—I’m busy trying to figure out why our economy is doing poorly. ~Bob. Excerpt: The foundations of economic freedom are personal choice, voluntary exchange and open markets. The Economic Freedom of the World report seeks to measure the consistency of the institutions and policies of various countries with voluntary exchange and the other dimensions of economic freedom. The report is copublished by the Cato Institute, the Fraser Institute in Canada and more than 70 think tanks around the world. This year's report notes that economic freedom fell for the second consecutive year. The average economic freedom score rose from 5.53 (out of 10) in 1980 to 6.74 in 2007, but fell back to 6.64 in 2009, the most recent year for which data are available. In this year's index, Hong Kong retains the highest rating for economic freedom, 9.01 out of 10, followed by Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Chile, the United Kingdom and Mauritius. The world's largest economy, the United States, has suffered one of the largest declines in economic freedom over the last 10 years, pushing it into 10th place. Much of this decline is a result of higher government spending and borrowing and lower scores for the legal structure and property rights components. This year's report also contains new research comparing policies that promote "freedom" compared to "entitlement" in relation to economic development. The findings suggest that fundamental freedoms are paramount in explaining long-term economic growth. Countries that favor free choice -- economic freedom and civil and political liberties -- over entitlement rights are likely to achieve higher sustainable economic growth and to achieve many of the distinctive proximate characteristics of success identified by the Commission on Growth and Development (World Bank, 2008). In contrast, pursuing entitlement rights through greater coercion by the state is likely to be self-defeating in the long run. The report also includes findings on the positive relationship between increases in economic freedom and improvements in women's wellbeing.

Got Cheap Milk?
Excerpt: First-World food fetishes such as locavorism and organics are positively terrible for the world's poorest people. If you want to do the right thing, become a globally conscious grocery buyer, says Charles Kenny, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development. Perhaps it is psychologically better to have close contact with the people who grow your food, but that doesn't make it good for the environment. For example, it is twice as energy efficient for people in Britain to eat dairy products from New Zealand than from domestic producers. It is four times more energy efficient for them to eat lamb shipped from the other side of the world than it is to eat British lamb. That's because transporting the final product accounts for only a small part of the energy consumed in the production and delivery of food, and it's far better to eat foods from places where production itself is more efficient. For example, New Zealand cattle eat clover from the fields while British livestock tend to rely on feed -- which itself is often imported.
And the environmental benefits of organic in terms of lower energy costs and less pollution? Norman Borlaug, father of the Green Revolution, estimated that we would need 5 billion to 6 billion additional cows to produce enough natural fertilizer to sustain our current crop production -- which, of course, would increase the demand for forage crops and thus the need for agricultural land. Meanwhile, weed-killing herbicides allow for no-till farming. When you don't plough, you don't erode topsoil nearly as much -- so it doesn't end up being washed into rivers, leaving behind a dust bowl. Whether organic is as efficient as conventional farming -- in terms of land yield, energy or labor productivity -- depends on the place and the crop. But even organic sympathizers report that the average land yield in the industrial world is about 8 percent lower on organic farms than on conventional ones. There are still as many as 1 billion people worldwide who are malnourished; and many are living on around a dollar a day. The best way to help poor people eat well is to make healthy food cost less. But the more agricultural land we divert into lower-efficiency organic production, the higher the price of all food will climb.

The Case for Competition in Medicare
Excerpt: Abstract: Rapidly rising Medicare spending is a major cause of the federal government’s budget problems. Proposals to reform Medicare and slow its spending fall into one of two categories: more government micromanagement or empowerment of health care consumers in a functioning marketplace. Those who promote top-down spending controls optimistically assume that federal regulators can accomplish now something that has eluded Medicare’s administrators for more than 40 years. In contrast, the market-based approach to reform would harness the power of financial incentives to encourage health care consumers to choose the best, most efficient means of getting services and would reward providers for finding ways to deliver more for less.

Does Health Insurance and Seeing the Doctor Keep You Out of the Hospital?
remember when we were promised that ObamaCare would bend the healthcare cost curve down? ~Bob. Excerpt: We obtain estimates of associations between health insurance and hospitalization and between use of doctor visits and hospitalization. We used data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and proprietary data from a private insurer. We provide estimates that under certain assumptions may be interpreted as causal. Results from the NHIS indicate that health insurance is positively associated with hospitalization; insurance is associated with a 33% to 72% increase in hospitalization. Our analysis of private insurer data indicated that a $500 increase in outpatient spending was associated with a 32% increase in the probability of having any inpatient spending.

Jobs Act Might be Worse than Nothing
Obama doesn’t want the Jobs act. He wants the political benefit of having Republicans defeat the Jobs Act. ~Bob. Excerpt: Now that the President’s “jobs” speech has been digested by analysts and commentators, most observers wonder whether Congress will be willing to pass legislation to aid the economy even if it provides the President with a substantive political victory. In a moment, the narrative has switched from whether the President’s plan will do any good for the economy to whether the President’s political opponents would allow his plan to do any good for the economy. This is an unfortunate twist considering that there is no reason to believe that a collection of measures to temporarily increase after-tax household and corporate income, transfer more money to state and local governments, and change terms of unemployment insurance would reliably boost growth. In many ways, the focus on political dynamics masks the discussion about economic effectiveness – for which there is little to no empirical basis. Of course, it’s easy to be misled into believing such evidence exists based on the very precise projections offered by some forecasters. Mark Zandi, one of the most quoted macroeconomists, believes the plan would add 1.9 million jobs, boost GDP growth by 2 percentage points, and cut unemployment by 1 percent. While this may seem like a strong case in favor of swift passage, the dark little secret about Zandi’s predictions is that they’ll be true no matter what actually happens. As professor Robert Barro explained with respect to the previous stimulus, “the administration found the evidence it wanted…by consulting some large-scale macroeconometric models [like Zandi’s], which substitute assumptions for identification.” What this means is that Zandi’s estimates depend on assumptions about the impact of policies on growth that cannot be empirically verified without identifying how the economy would have performed in their absence. Therefore, the forecast is always accurate and non-falsifiable; the adjustment comes from the difference in the strength (or weakness) in the underlying economy. Here is how this “1.9 million new jobs” forecast works in practice. If the economy, let’s say, generates 4 million net new jobs between passage of the Act and the end of 2013, the economy would have only generated 2.1 million jobs without the “jobs” act. Conversely, if the economy were to shed 1 million net jobs over this period, total job losses would have been 2.9 million without the latest stimulus. This is how Zandi found in 2010 that the 2009 stimulus was a huge success even as output and employment gains fell well below predictions.

Worth Reading: The Obama Investigations
If these scandals happened on Bush’s watch, Chris Matthews would break into your house and tattoo the story on your chest. ~Bob. You wouldn't know it if you solely paid attention to the mainstream media, but while President Barack Obama attempts to sell the country on hundreds of billions in new stimulus spending and $1.5 trillion in new taxes, his Administration is smack in the middle of several growing scandals: the Operation Fast and Furious gun-running debacle and the crony capitalism wrongdoing involving Solyndra and LightSquared. In the fall of 2009, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), which is overseen by President Obama's Department of Justice, launched an effort to sell weapons to small-time gun buyers in the hopes of tracing them to major weapons traffickers along the southwestern border and into Mexico. Their effort, which is known as Operation Fast and Furious, failed terribly.

Obama Admin. Ignored Saudi Pleas to Combat Takeover of Lebanon
A frightening prevue of why there is a war to come in the Middle East. As little as I like Obama, it should be clearly understood that previous administrations did little better. Ron P. Excerpt: Once a key U.S. partner in the Middle East, the Saudis are unhappy with the Obama administration, and thus the United States. They are angry that the White House never consulted them about helping to bring down the Mubarak regime in Egypt. But their greatest wrath is reserved for the U.S. government’s failure to oppose the Iranian regime’s expansionism and subversion. In one Wikileaks-leaked State Department document after another, Riyadh’s anger is apparent. The “traditionally confrontation-averse” Saudis — as a phrase in one of the reports calls them — also make clear that the threat of force as well as words is necessary to stop Iran. A recently released secret 2009 U.S. State Department memo written for General Petraeus discussed this Saudi view of Iran and U.S. policy toward Iran at length: “The Saudis see a dangerous Shia power bent on destabilizing the region. … They remain concerned that we might be prepared to accept an enhanced role for Iran in the region in exchange for concessions on its nuclear program.” In other words, the Saudis thought the United States might sell them out. The king correctly predicted that the Obama engagement policy toward Iran would fail.

Experts on trial for failing to warn of quake that killed 300
Excerpt - SEVEN scientists and experts are standing trial in Italy for failing to deliver sufficient warning of an earthquake that killed more than 300 people in 2009. The seven are accused of manslaughter for giving "inexact, incomplete and contradictory information" about whether tremors felt by the residents of the historic town of L'Aquila, in the Abruzzo area of central Italy, were the precursor of a major quake, which hit on 6 April. The case is being closely watched by the seismology community around the world, who insist it is impossible to predict earthquakes and dangerous to suggest otherwise since experts would be discouraged from issuing any guidance or advice fearing they might later face prosecution (I wonder if Saudi Arabia would be trying them for witchcraft and sorcery?- Al. I wonder if they will blame Global Warming or George Bush. ~Bob.)

Ex-President Clinton to Newsmax: Raising Taxes Won't Work
Excerpt: Former President Bill Clinton tells Newsmax that Washington should not raise taxes until the slumping economy is turned around — and says President Obama’s plan to increase taxes on the wealthy won’t solve the debt problem. Clinton sat down for an exclusive interview with Newsmax Founder and CEO Christopher Ruddy in New York, where Clinton is holding the 10th annual gathering of the widely praised Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), an event that brings together heads of state, business leaders, humanitarians and celebrities to devise and implement innovative and successful solutions to some of the worlds most pressing challenges. (Some Dems have already abandoned their messiah and condemn him for various sins -- often for not being far enough LEFT. (Bill Clinton says Obama's plan to tax the rich is not going to work, and that will ingratiate the Clintons with some moderates and conservatives. One thing to beware of here is that if the Dems abandon Obama for any reason and run Hillary instead, then the GOP will have an even more formidable challenge, because disenchanted Democrats and some independents may very well vote for Hillary instead of a Republican. We are in dangerous shoals. --Don Hank)

Jury Gets Irvine 11 Case
Excerpt: Jury deliberations begin this morning in the case of 10 students charged with misdemeanors stemming from an orchestrated series of interruptions during a February 2010 speech by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren at the University of California, Irvine. In closing arguments, attorneys on both sides claimed the case is about preserving First Amendment rights. Defense attorneys say their clients exercised their rights to protest. But in doing so, prosecutors say, they violated Oren's right to be heard. The 10 defendants are among 11 people arrested during the speech. The disruptions were spelled out in great detail by emails distributed by UC Irvine's Muslim Student Union (MSU). They stood up and shouted accusations of murder and genocide at the ambassador, before being escorted out by police. A large group of cheering pro-Palestinian supporters staged a walkout shortly after the students' disruption.

Religious Affiliation by state
Put your cursor on a state to see the details. Interesting. ~Bob.
Obama Rejects Obamaism
Excerpt: I liked Obama’s payroll tax cut ideas and urged Republicans to play along. But of course I’m a sap. When the president unveiled the second half of his stimulus it became clear that this package has nothing to do with helping people right away or averting a double dip. This is a campaign marker, not a jobs bill. It recycles ideas that couldn’t get passed even when Democrats controlled Congress. In his remarks Monday the president didn’t try to win Republicans to even some parts of his measures. He repeated the populist cries that fire up liberals but are designed to enrage moderates and conservatives. … He talks about fundamental tax reform, but I keep forgetting that he has promised never to raise taxes on people in the bottom 98 percent of the income scale. That means when he talks about raising revenue, which he is right to do, he can’t really talk about anything substantive. He can’t tax gasoline. He can’t tax consumption. He can’t do a comprehensive tax reform. He has to restrict his tax policy changes to the top 2 percent, and to get any real revenue he’s got to hit them in every which way. We’re not going to simplify the tax code, but by God Obama’s going to raise taxes on rich people who give to charity! We’ve got to do something to reduce the awful philanthropy surplus plaguing this country!

Excerpt: It is not terribly surprising to find that the former White House communications director, Anita Dunn, lied when confronted with her past comments that put the Obama White House in a deeply unflattering light. It is a bit surprising that she lied so foolishly, either forgetting or not realizing that her on-the-record interview with a reporter was recorded. In the Washington Post today: One of the most striking quotes in the book came from former White House communications director Anita Dunn, who was quoted as saying that, “this place would be in court for a hostile workplace. ... Because it actually fit all of the classic legal requirements for a genuinely hostile workplace to women.” (Dunn is a big fan of mass murderer Mao. ~Bob.

The President’s Deficit Plan
Excerpt: Last week, in the wake of President Obama’s jobs speech, I wrote that the president seemed poised to campaign for re-election on an essentially centrist policy agenda: A short-term payroll tax stimulus, a plan for tax reform that would close loopholes while lowering corporate rates, and a long-term plan for deficit reduction modeled on the grand bargain that the White House and John Boehner were supposedly close to striking during the debt ceiling negotiations. The president’s goal in 2012, I suggested, would be to try to paint himself as the moderate bipartisan grownup, and dismiss the Republicans as extreme, intransigent, and hyper-ideological. Based on the actual details of the deficit plan that the administration just released, though, I would like to retract that analysis. Between the size, scope and design of the tax increases and the skimpiness of the entitlement reforms (nothing on Social Security, minimal tinkering on Medicare), it seems that the president will be running for re-election as Nancy Pelosi instead. The White House is essentially proposing to raise taxes on the wealthy (and only the wealthy) in not one but three different ways — higher rates, fewer deductions, and the so-called Warren Buffett tax on millionaires who draw most their income from capital gains — in order to keep our entitlement system almost exactly as it is. Or, more aptly, in order keep our entitlement system almost exactly as it is for a few extra years, since nothing in the proposal is commensurate with the size of our long-term fiscal gap.

Election 2012: Republican Presidential Primary
Excerpt: As of now, the 2012 Republican Presidential Primary race is all about Texas Governor Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, with no other candidate reaching double-digit support. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely GOP Primary voters shows Perry with 28% support and Romney capturing 24%. Before Perry entered his first debate, the Texan held an eleven point advantage over Romney, 29% to 18%.

Quotes from The Patriot Post
"If, from the more wretched parts of the old world, we look at those which are in an advanced stage of improvement, we still find the greedy hand of government thrusting itself into every corner and crevice of industry, and grasping the spoil of the multitude. Invention is continually exercised, to furnish new pretenses for revenues and taxation. It watches prosperity as its prey and permits none to escape without tribute." --Thomas Paine

"As the Founders warned, there is an ineluctable conflict between Liberty and equality. You cannot make men equal without taking away their Freedom. The Founders devised a Constitution designed to thwart what they called 'wicked schemes' to take wealth from one segment of the nation and distribute it to another. The reason prosperity took hold in America is because of inequality. The great American businesses that have so enriched us all came about because of great concentrations of private wealth, not though government-engineered equality. All of us live richer lives precisely because of the unequal distribution of wealth. Inequality, for lack of a better word, is good. Inequality makes the world go around." --columnist Jon N. Hall

Poverty President Gaming Blacks
Excerpt: Poverty for American blacks is the highest in 52 years according to the U.S. Census Bureau. If Black-Americans also learned that their Constitutional freedoms are being taken away, that government regulations are closing businesses where they could have jobs, that under Barack Obama more government money targets aborting black babies as a form of genocide, that working for the man will mean working for Obama's fat-cat union bosses who will take a large chunk out of their paychecks as forced union dues and that Obamacare will demand they pay for a universal healthcare system that will treat them like cattle -- will black leaders decry "racism" and denounce those responsible for such policies as racists? Not likely. The majority of black leaders have bowed to the Democrat Party for decades. Gaming Blacks is a Democrat specialty.

Gov. Perry's Right About Social Security By Walter E. Williams
Excerpt: During the recent GOP presidential debate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry said that Social Security is a "monstrous lie" and a "Ponzi scheme." More and more people are coming to see that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, but is it a lie, as well? Let's look at it. Here's what the 1936 government pamphlet on Social Security said: "After the first 3 years -- that is to say, beginning in 1940 -- you will pay, and your employer will pay, 1.5 cents for each dollar you earn, up to $3,000 a year. ... Beginning in 1943, you will pay 2 cents, and so will your employer, for every dollar you earn for the next 3 years. ... And finally, beginning in 1949, twelve years from now, you and your employer will each pay 3 cents on each dollar you earn, up to $3,000 a year." Here's Congress' lying promise: "That is the most you will ever pay." Another lie in the Social Security pamphlet is: "Beginning November 24, 1936, the United States government will set up a Social Security account for you. ... The checks will come to you as a right." Therefore, Americans were sold on the belief that Social Security is like a retirement account and money placed in it is our property. The fact of the matter is you have no property right whatsoever to your Social Security "contributions."

Worth Reading: The Famous State of Palestine
Excerpt: So what will this famous “State of Palestine” be like? It will be a racist state ethnically cleansed of Jews, as the PLO representatives proclaimed the last week. It will be a state led by Holocaust enablers like Hamas or by a Holocaust-denier like Mahmoud Abbas, who in a book downgraded the number of Jewish victims and denied that the gas chambers were used to murder Jews. In any case, it will be a state committed to the destruction of the nearby Jews’ homeland. A state that will banish freedom of conscience for artists, journalists and writers. A state that will drive away Christians from the land, while proclaiming Jesus “the first fedayeen”. A state that will stone to death Arab homosexuals and prostitutes, who are now finding a shelter in Israel. A state that will torture Arab inmates in prisons and that will throw political dissidents from the roofs of public buildings.

Congressman Issa discards mainstream media for bloggers
Excerpt: This morning bloggers who have written extensively on the ‘Project Gunwalker’ scandal–also known as ‘Operation Fast and Furious’–had an email waiting for them from U.S. Congressman Darrell Issa, R-California, inviting them to participate in a conference call on the investigation into the scandal. In issuing the invitation, Issa went around the mainstream media, discarding them in fact, in order to go directly to the ones who have faithfully investigated and reported the facts concerning this case.

Obama sparks middle-of-road rage
Excerpt: The moderate elite isn’t, by definition, an angry bunch, but President Barack Obama’s pivot from calibrated centrism to soak-the-rich liberal populism has tapped a vein of middle-of-the-road rage and centrist angst. Over the past two weeks, Obama has convincingly channeled FDR, winning over suspicious liberals, even if many suspect he will eventually return to his old, compromising ways. Yet to a small, but influential cadre of moderates, it’s political apostasy — an Obama-led return to the bad old days of the 1970s and 1980s, when tax-hiking liberals drove the Democratic Party to the powerless margins of politics. And to some higher-minded moderates, led by New York Times columnist David Brooks, Obama is sacrificing his 2008 vision of a post-partisan presidency and purple national map on the altar of Democratic base politics.

Internet Jokes
Biblical Teachings: Give a liberal a fish and he will ask for seconds. Teach a liberal to fish and he will file for unemployment. Teach three liberals how to fish, they will form a union and demand that no one else can fish.

America is at that awkward stage. It's too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards.

Sen. Schumer Expresses Reservations About President Obama’s Tax Plan
Excerpt: “$250,000 makes you really rich in Mississippi but it doesn’t make you rich at all in New York and there ought to be some kind of scale based on the cost of living on how much you pay,” Schumer said. (What he essentially said was that he was in favor of taxing all those millionaires EXCEPT those that vote for him. MasterGuns)

The Broken Planet Fallacy
Excerpt: When Solyndra went belly up last month, less than a year after it started making solar arrays in Fremont, Calif., an Energy Department spokesman insisted that the $535 million the federal government had loaned the company was well spent. "The project that we supported succeeded," he said. "The facility was producing the product it said it would produce." That rather short-sighted definition of success exemplifies the loopy logic of President Obama's "green jobs" agenda, which justifies subsidies based on good intentions and employment opportunities rather than profitability or cost-effectiveness. This policy is rooted in the broken planet fallacy, which treats global warming not as an environmental threat to be handled as expeditiously as possible but as an economic opportunity to be milked for all the jobs it can provide. When he took office in January 2009, Obama promised to "help create 5 million new jobs by strategically investing $150 billion over the next 10 years to catalyze private efforts to build a clean energy future." The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which he signed the following month, included a down payment on that plan, described by Vice President Joseph Biden as "more than $20 billion for investment in a cleaner, greener economy," aimed at showing "how investing in green jobs will help build a strong middle class."

Why Obama Is Responsible for the Mideast Powder Keg
Excerpt: President Barack Hussein Obama has a choice this week at the United Nations as the Palestinian Authority led by Mahmoud Abbas calls for a vote on Palestinian statehood, whether or not the vote is actually averted by some sort of Western payoff to the terrorist organization. As background, it should be noted that it has long been the position of the United Nations that there ought to be a Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza Strip. So what would change with any such resolution? Presumably, in any vote, the Palestinians would ask for – and, in the General Assembly, receive – voting rights. They would also attempt to grab East Jerusalem as their capital, including the Temple Mount, and probably ask to control their own borders. Given the presence of Hamas in the middle of this proposed deal – and given the history of the PLO itself — such a demand would create the largest single terror state on the planet. (I hope if they get a state, they have the gratitude to invite Obama to the first stoning of a woman, hanging of gays and execution of an apostate, in accord with the NYT-endorsed Shari’a Law. ~Bob.)

Good stuff from Red State today. ~Bob.

Sen. Sherrod Brown’s (D-OH) wife quits newspaper job after covering Josh Mandel campaign event
Excerpt: Yesterday the Cleveland Plain Dealer announced the resignation of Connie Schultz, wife of Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH). Schultz had come under fire recently for attending a Tea Party rally near Cleveland at which her husband’s likely opponent in 2012, Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, was a featured speaker. Schultz was spotted videotaping Mandel’s speech, but she conspicuously neglected to mention in her article that Mandel was even at the rally. Once news about Schultz’s covert-op became known, the Pulitzer prize winning journalist and 18-year veteran of the Plain Dealer issued a breathless apology, claiming that she never thought for a minute she was doing anything wrong and just “felt sick about it” and had learned her lesson. Of course, the real issue was whether or not she was engaging in campaign activities at the behest of or on the tab of the Plain Dealer, the largest newspaper in Ohio. If so, this would be this would be too obvious even for the mainstream media. They still like to maintain the appearance of impartiality.

A Point Without Partisanship — A Scandal Everyone Should Be Concerned About
Excerpt: With the exception of CBS News, few media outlets have paid much attention to Operation Gun Walker a/k/a “Fast and Furious,” which has no relation to Vin Diesel. The lack of media attention may be about to change. This is a huge and troublesome scandal. The left is, I think, afraid to touch it because of just how far up within the Obama Justice Department the scandal appears to go. The right has been focused more on other fights. The media is focused elsewhere. But the wind is shifting. Without throwing any partisan punches, let me just objectively get in to this business and why the left, the right, and the media should be paying attention. I wrote about Operation Gun Walker back in March. In short, the ATF allowed Mexican drug lords to buy guns in the United States and walk them across the Mexican border. The too clever by half theory was that the American government would be able to then track the guns via their serial numbers and paint a picture of drug cartel activity by where the guns showed up. The federal government never advised Mexico nor sought Mexico’s permission. Perversely, the ATF reported decided to then use the gun sales it authorized as evidence that the federal government needed more gun regulations. As you might expect, the whole operation blew up in the ATF’s face. Using a Gun Walker gun, Mexican drug lords killed an American border patrol agent. Recently another murder on this side of the border turned up tied to a Gun Walker gun. New evidence in the investigation conservative shows more than 200 murders linked to Operation Gun Walker guns. Now, even more damning evidence is showing up in the form of secret recordings obtained by CBS News.

Is the US Department of Labor About To Develop Hit Lists of Individuals To Be Targeted By Unions?
Excerpt: As a preface, sometimes it helps to have been “on the other side” when trying to determine what the unions’ game plan is within the Obama Administration. What you are about to read comes from having been on the other side and, quite frankly, putting two and two together. And, if you are not alarmed when you finish reading this, you should be, because there may be something much more sinister afoot at the Department of Labor than most people realize. Yesterday, information was shared with you about the importance of submitting a comment by Wednesday on the Department of Labor’s proposed regulatory change on who would be newly classified as ‘persuaders.’ There has been one sentence, more than others, in the Department of Labor’s 160-page proposed rule change that indicates the DOL’s expansion of the definition of ‘persuader’ to mean just about any vendor who has anything to do directly or indirectly with an employer’s relationship with employees since activities may implicitly influence the decisions of employees with regard in the exercise of their rights in the workplace. Until now, however, one part of the sentence has been overlooked which, unless addressed, may cause individuals great harm—literally, physical harm.

EPA Regulations Will Result in 1.44 Million Job Losses
Excerpt: Last week, I wrote about how the EPA was warring with industry, one can only assume in an attempt to destroy jobs. As that war continues, I thought it might be helpful to put some actual numbers in front of our readers so they can get the clearest picture possible about just how many jobs are being lost in the name of environmental protection against the man-made theory of global warming. National Economic Research Associates (NERA) used the Federal Government’s own data in finding that Obama’s proposed EPA regulations would cost America over 180,000 jobs per year between 2013 and 2020. This includes effects from the Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) as well as Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) rules.

UK troops' 'sweetheart' Cheryl Cole gets death threat from al-Qaida
Didn’t get the memo. ~Bob. Excerpt: Pop icon Cheryl Cole has become a "prime target" for al-Qaida after she visited the British troops in Afghanistan recently. According to UK-based radicals, the 28-year-old singer has put herself in danger and could now be targeted by the Jihadis. "I find it completely outrageous that Cheryl Cole can go to Afghanistan and start praising the soldiers when thousands of innocent men, women and children are being slaughtered by the Americans and their allies," inflammatory cleric Anjem Choudary told Daily Star Sunday in an exclusive interview. "A large percentage of the population has been murdered. Far from going over there and supporting the war effort she should be condemning what is taking place in Afghanistan," he said. "She has put herself in great danger by being such a high-profile visitor to the region. The more she is seen as the sweetheart of the forces and the more she is involved in Afghanistan, the more she will create enemies among the Muslims. She will only have herself to blame for the repercussions on her own security," he added.

Islamist radio station in Somalia giving guns, bombs to children
The Religion of peace. ~Bob. Excerpt: An Islamist militia-run radio station in Somalia said it is awarding guns and bombs to three children who won a Quran recital contest. Andulus radio station — operated by the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab rebels — announced that the first prize winner in the contest received a rifle and $700, the second prize winner got a rifle and $500, and the third prize winner received two bombs. All three children also received Islamist books.

Obama meets Libya's pro-Sharia leader, praises Libya's turn toward Sharia
Shari’a—it’s not just a misogynist, homophobic, anti-freedom good idea. It’s the religious law. Two stories interlocked here. ~Bob.

Excerpt: "Middle-class families shouldn't pay higher taxes than millionaires and billionaires. That's pretty straightforward." That's what President Obama said in his White House speech Monday on deficit reduction. It was even more straightforward than he seemed to think. Not only should middle-class families pay less than millionaires and billionaires, but in fact they already do pay less than millionaires and billionaires. Much less. Obama tried to blunt anticipated criticism of his remarks with a parenthetical: "This is not class warfare. It's math." But the actual math tells a very different story
In 2009, about 237,000 individual income tax filers reported adjusted gross income of $1 million or more. Taken together, these filers -- families and small businesses -- made a grand total of $722 billion, and paid $178 billion of that in income taxes. Their effective federal income tax rate was 24.6 percent, between three and four times the effective rate on middle-income families that pull in $50,000 to $75,000 per year.

Excerpt: Former Democratic National Committee Chairman, and doctor, Howard Dean backed a McKinsey & Co. survey today that found that almost a third of private-sector employers will drop their employee health insurance coverage when Obamacare's government-managed insurance exchanges come online. Dean told Morning Joe, "The fact is it is very good for small business. There was a McKinsey study, which the Democrats don't like, but I do, and I think its true. Most small businesses are not going to be in the health insurance business anymore after this thing goes into effect."

Money for Nothing: Taxpayers foot the bill for government union work
Excerpt: Taxpayers across the nation spend millions of dollars annually to pay the salaries and benefits of government employees to work exclusively for labor unions, an investigation by the Arizona-based Goldwater Institute has found. The practice is called "official time" in federal law, or "release" time in local labor agreements reviewed by the Institute. At the federal level, it cost taxpayers more than $129 million in 2009, the last year for which figures are available, according to a report from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Similar provisions have become standard in labor agreements between unions and governments at the state and local level. Finding the total cost would require analyzing every government union contract in every state, county, city and school district in the country, a monumental task that those who have studied the issue say has not been done. But one example exposed by the Goldwater Institute's investigation shows the City of Phoenix spent about $3.7 million to pay its employees to do union work last fiscal year, which ended in June.

Pennsylvania's resurgent energy industry can lead America
Excerpt: In America's original oil patch, where I live, we have safely drilled and completed thousands of shallow oil and natural gas wells much closer to the water table. Today, we are now producing energy form formations more than a mile below the surface. What's safe a few hundred feet from the surface is safe a few thousand feet from the surface. So what is hydraulic fracturing, and is it a new, unregulated technology, as some submit? Despite claims, fracturing has been in commercial use since the Truman administration, and has been safely used to enhance the flow of American oil and natural gas more than 1.1 million times. The process requires water, sand and a small fraction of commonly used additives -- all contained within the cased wellbore -- to be pumped into the formation under high pressures with surgical precision, creating pathways for the hydrocarbons to flow. Without fracturing, America's abundant tight oil and natural gas reserves -- which are helping to create tens of thousands jobs here at home at a time when they're most needed -- would remain out of reach.

Times Atlas Apologizes for Global-Warming Error
Excerpt: Publishers of the Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World scrambled Tuesday to correct a controversial statement that Greenland had lost 15 percent of its permanent ice cover over the last 12 years -- an assertion scientists labeled "incorrect and misleading." The claim came in a HarperCollins press release on the publication of the 13th edition of the atlas, stating that global warming was "turning Greenland 'green.'" The gradual melting was also depicted in the atlas itself, as cartographers carved out huge chunks of ice to reflect the apparent results of a warming planet. That was a mistake, scientists say. Poul Christoffersen, a glaciologist at the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge, said the 15 percent decrease in permanent ice cited "is both incorrect and misleading." He believes the actual number is closer to 0.1 percent. “It is regrettable that the claimed drastic reduction in the extent of ice in Greenland has created headline news around the world,” Christoffersen said. “There is to our knowledge no support for this claim in the published scientific literature.” That was a mistake, scientists say.

Diplomacy, Obama style
Hope the leader he dissed doesn’t have nukes. Is this picture funny or sad? ~Bob.

Issa Says He Wants a Special Prosecutor to Probe 'Fast and Furious'
Don’t hold your breath waiting for this to happen. Ron P. Excerpt: Skeptical that Attorney General Eric Holder and other Obama administration officials did not know about the botched gun-walking operation carried out by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives along the Southwest border, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) wants to see a special prosecutor appointed to investigate the matter. “We’d like to have a true special prosecutor, particularly when it’s obvious if Eric Holder didn’t know, it’s because he didn’t want to know or because he wasn’t doing his job,” Issa said in a conference call with reporters on Tuesday.

Stiletto Brothel Expansion Proposal Rejected By Sydney City Council
Excerpt: Plans to supersize a brothel were scuttled by the city council in Sydney, Australia, but it wasn't the bordello's business that politicians found objectionable. In argument familiar to battles over big box stores like Walmart, the members of the city council claimed on Monday the mega-brothel might squash smaller mom-and-pop cathouses. From AFP: “Sydney's city council has voted down plans for a mega-brothel featuring rooms with multiple beds and pool tables, likening the development to a super-sized shopping mall that would threaten competition.” The proposed extension to Stiletto would have doubled the number of rooms to 40 and would have created a wing for group bookings, according to AFP. (“Mom-and-Pop cathouses”? A very disturbing image. ~Bob.)

Fraud case targets grants awarded by President Obama’s friend
Excerpt: The indictment of a Chicago nurse accused of diverting hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer funds for her personal use has turned a spotlight on an Illinois state agency that awarded her money while it was headed by one of President Barack Obama’s closest friends, Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, records show. Under Whitaker, the Illinois Department of Public Health awarded Margaret A. Davis — the former program director of the Chicago Chapter of the National Black Nurses Association — a no-bid contract and seven AIDS- and cancer-related grants that became part of her $500,000 cash-siphoning scheme, prosecutors say. According to federal subpoenas and other records, Davis’ June 9 indictment by a federal grand jury in Springfield is part of a larger criminal investigation involving the health department and other state agencies. Whitaker — who’s now a top executive at the University of Chicago Medical Center — has not been accused of any wrongdoing. He says he couldn’t have known about the problems the Davis indictment describes and that he and his staff acted quickly when they became aware of problems with other contractors.

Obama’s Predictable Scandals: The media can no longer shield Obama from scrutiny.
Excerpt: The media finally conceded the Obama administration to be inexperienced and inept, reminiscent of the Carter administration — but, they maintained, not possibly involved in any corruption. Then suddenly scandals erupted on nearly every conceivable front: the crony-capitalist half-billion-dollar loan guarantee to a now bankrupt Solyndra; the Fast and Furious gun deal, in which, in lunatic fashion, the U.S. government sold deadly automatic weapons to Mexican drug-cartel killers; the administration’s pressure on a four-star general to fudge his testimony as a favor to a big campaign donor whose suspect company, LightSquared, was doing business with the Pentagon; and the politically inspired dropping of investigations by the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department.

Presidential prevarication
Excerpt: Not that there was ever any doubt, but the Associated Press ran the numbers on President Obama’s soak-the-rich tax scheme, and guess what? The president’s a fibber. The news agency culled figures from a number of key authorities -- like the IRS and the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center -- and demonstrated conclusively that top US earners pay far higher rates than other folks. And foot a wildly outsized portion of the federal tax tab. “It is wrong that in the United States of America, a teacher or a nurse or a construction worker who earns $50,000 should pay higher tax rates than somebody pulling in $50 million,” Obama huffed Monday. Well, it would be wrong -- if it happened. Which it rarely does.

Rick Perry - Proven Leadership
Powerful ad. ~Bob

Rodney Dangerfield's First Economics Class

Poker site accused of $440 million Ponzi scheme
I dunno. A 25-year-old probably has a better chance at getting something back from on-line poker than Social security. ~Bob. Excerpt: Federal prosecutors on Tuesday accused executives at the online site Full Tilt Poker of operating a Ponzi scheme, siphoning more than $440 million in gamblers' winnings to board members and owners. The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York also charged poker celebrities Howard Lederer and Christopher Ferguson of taking part in and profiting from the scams.

1 comment:

  1. Comment on 22 Sep 2011’s: Poker site accused of $440 million Ponzi scheme

    I actually played regularly at Full Tilt Poker for a bit under a year before the FBI shut them down. I never played for real money (IT’S THE INTERNET! ARE YOU CRAZY?) because even a non-geek like me can think of ways to cheat. I know at least one of those ways would work because I actually caught a player using it—and that was in the free games; I’m sure the cash games were more dangerous. I accumulated a bit over 900.000 “chips” before they shut it down. (While I’m not all that good, there are many who are downright bad at the game, and those, I gobbled up.) I’ve also played at some other sites.

    My experience at FTP was very pleasant. Not only were the games free, there was no charge for playing there, which is unusual. Neither were there any distracting audio/visual ads to speak of. Their program operated smoothly, uncommon. They didn’t pass my email address on to others, again unusual. They didn’t spam me, unheard-of.

    Chat between players could be—and was—conducted in numerous languages and several alphabets. Chat was moderated for abusive remarks (“You lucky bastard” isn’t abusive; “You [racial, sexist, religious, nationalist] pejorative” is abusive).

    Players were literally from around the world. Many were from South America, more were from Europe and Russia, Australia and New Zealand, but there were also players from Japan, Korea, and China. There was even one player from Katmandu, Nepal who claimed to be a monk. During the first days after the Japanese tsunami, I was able to connect one of the Japanese players to a website with good information on the reactor problems at Fukushima—info he couldn’t get locally, and was afraid for his family because of the MSM news coverage he could get (he then passed the website on to his 200 closest friends). A player known to me only as Pelito invited me to visit her in Brazil (and yes, I should bring my wife) if I ever got down that way.

    Was it all a Ponzi? I have no idea. We’ll have to wait for the evidence at the trial. But, they didn’t invest a whole lot of effort in trying to get me to play for cash, and the very essence of a Ponzi is: it must grow or there’s no more money left to pay off either the “early investors” or those running it.

    Ron Pittenger