Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Political Digest for November 15, 2011

I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree (or disagree) with every—or any—opinion in the posted article. Help your friends and relatives stay informed by passing the digest on. In some cases I post things sent to me by readers I might not have posted on my own, to get ideas circulating.

Charities I support

Excerpt: The Supreme Court said Monday it will hear the legal challenges to President Obama’s healthcare law. As expected, the high court granted a hearing in the suit filed by 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Business. The court said it will hear the suit’s challenge to the health law’s individual mandate — the requirement that almost all Americans buy insurance. As they weigh the mandate, the justices will also have to consider how it affects other parts of the law. If they find the coverage requirement unconstitutional, they’ll have to decide whether to let it fall on its own or whether to strike all or part of the rest of the law along with it. (Won’t be all bad if we lose. We just get control of the WH and Congress and pass a law that all citizens without felony convictions or mental health problems are required to buy and carry a firearm to protect interstate commerce. No difference. ~Bob.)

Unemployment Insurance Taxes: Options for Program Design and Insolvent Trust Funds
Excerpt: Record high levels of unemployment and record low reserve funds have placed great pressure on the federal-state unemployment insurance (UI) tax and benefit system. Between 2008 and 2011, $174 billion was paid in unemployment taxes while $450 billion was paid out in benefits, a gap of $276 billion.1 In 2011 alone, employers and employees are projected to pay $51.8 billion in taxes, while $131.4 billion is projected to be paid out in benefits for workers recently unemployed.2 Benefits are drawn for an average of 18 weeks, with many claimants receiving the maximum 99 weeks of benefits. Over the past two years, 34 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands exhausted their unemployment insurance trust funds and have had to borrow from the federal government to pay unemploy­ment benefits;

Worth Reading: Plastic Bag Bans Are Bad for the Environment
“Green” is not about science or the environment. “Green” is about making yourself feel good by imposing costs and inconvenience on others. ~Bob. Excerpt: First consider why plastic products have prevailed in the marketplace. In addition to being very convenient for carrying groceries (plastic bags) and carrying food (foam cups keep our coffee hot and food warm), these products are highly energy and water efficient as well as sanitary. That also makes them very inexpensive to produce and transport. Numerous life-cycle studies, which track a product’s cradle-to-grave environmental impact, demonstrate this fact. For example, a review of several life-cycle assessments produced for a group called Use Less Stuff found that plastic bags: Generate 39 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than regular paper bags; Require 6 percent of the water necessary to make paper bags; Consume 71 percent less energy during production than paper bags; and Produce one-fifth the amount of solid waste compared to paper bags.

Police arrest Occupy Oakland campers
Excerpt: But Ronald "Rasta" Jones had already abandoned his tent this morning. "We're going to make the job easy for them. I can't go to jail," Jones said, adding however, "If they take over the camp, we're going to reoccupy. Our objective is for them to keep spending money. We are not going to stop." (Yup, money that could go to education or helping poor kids. ~Bob.)

Excerpt: First questions first: Can Wal-Mart provide care that is of higher quality and lower cost than conventional provision? If so, how? My answer: Wal-Mart can indeed improve on the current system. But here’s the catch. It can do so only if it continues doing what it and other retail medical outlets are already doing: ignore the third-party payers. Almost everything that’s wrong with our health care system is the direct result of third-party payment; and some of the most striking examples of efficient care are emerging in those parts of the market where third-party payment is either nonexistent or of marginal importance.

If the supercommittee fails...
Excerpt: A supercommittee failure would trigger $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts and set up a yearlong fight among lawmakers to protect favored programs. It would also launch a heavy lobbying effort on
K Street
, where defense firms in particular would be eager to prevent automatic cuts to the Pentagon budget. Failure could cause stock markets to crash, would raise new questions about the U.S. credit rating, and it will also frame a series of issues on taxes and spending central to the 2012 election.

What we can learn from Europe's mess
Excerpt: Today, the Western world, and Japan, have a single overriding problem: We have borrowed more than we can afford to pay back. This has happened because we are democratic societies with very large aging populations. Programs to serve those populations were set up with the expectation that many more people always would pay taxes than would take out benefits. It no longer works. Social Security in 1955 had 15 people paying taxes for every person receiving benefits. Today, it’s just two taxpayers per beneficiary.

Massachusetts on Front Line of 2012 Senate Battlegrounds
You don’t like RINO Scott Brown? Great, hope for Sen. Elizabeth “I founded OWS” Warren voting in lockstep with Majority Leader Harry Reid in 2013 to fund things like Cowboy Poetry. ~Bob. Excerpt: A battle here between Republican Sen. Scott Brown and likely Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren in next year's election is already drawing millions in out-of-state money because it could decide the Senate's balance of power.

The Wonk Who Slays Washington
Notice this book review is from liberal Daily Beast. --Ron P. Excerpt: Schweizer had been struck by the fact that members of Congress are free to buy and sell stocks in companies whose fate can be profoundly influenced, or even determined, by Washington policy, and he wondered, do these ultimate insiders act on what they know? Yes, Schweizer found, they certainly seem to. Schweizer’s research revealed that some of Congress’s most prominent members are in a position to routinely engage in what amounts to a legal form of insider trading, profiting from investment activity that, he says, “would send the rest of us to prison.” (…)

Judge Who Freed Sandusky on Bail Volunteered at His Charity, Report Says Amid Pension Revelations
Excerpt: The judge who ordered former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky be freed on $100,000 unsecured bail on charges he sexually abused eight boys reportedly volunteered for his charity. District Judge Leslie Dutchcot, who handled Sandusky's preliminary arraignment, gave his Second Mile charity between $500 and $1,000 and worked as a volunteer for the group, Fox affiliate WTXF-TV reports.

Debt by Degrees
Excerpt: There’s a big flaw in the bubble argument, though: things may look grim for college graduates, but they’re much grimmer for people without a college degree. Though recent college grads are having a hard time finding a job, it’s much harder for recent high-school graduates, who have an unemployment rate of nearly twenty-two per cent. And the over-all unemployment rate for college grads is still, at 4.4 per cent, very low. More striking, the college wage premium—how much more a college graduate makes than someone without a degree—is at an all-time high.

What America Does Best: We’re once again hearing the broken record of declinism.
Excerpt: We are in a fresh round of declinism — understandably, after borrowing nearly $5 trillion in less than three years and having very little to show for it. Pundit strives with op-ed writer to find the latest angle on America’s descent: We are broke; we are poorly educated; we are uncompetitive; we have gone soft; our political institutions are broken; and on and on. The Obama administration does its part, with sloganeering like “reset,” “lead from behind,” “post-American world,” and America as exceptional only to the degree that all nations feel exceptional.

The Blunders of Statesmen
Excerpt: What Hill did not know — and what Hoover, that evening, did not tell him — was that for several years Hoover had been at work on a book with a similar theme: a comprehensive, critical history of American diplomacy between the late 1930s and 1945, with emphasis on the misguided policies of President Roosevelt. It was a volume in which the Roosevelt administration’s wartime alliance with the Soviet Union would be subject to withering scrutiny.

Woman Spared Jail Over Scrotum Bite
Excerpt: Recorder Robin Mairs handed her a 12-month jail sentence, suspended for 18 months, and ordered her to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work. He also imposed a restraining order on the mother-of-four to prevent her from contacting Mr Douglas. "This relationship is over, I think both of you accept that," the judge said.

'I'm Among My Heroes' - Justin Timberlake Fights Back Tears as he Joins YouTube Date Corporal Kelsey de Santis at Marine Corps Ball
Excerpt: Justin Timberlake fought back the tears at a Marine Corps Ball he attended, calling the event 'one of the most moving evenings' he has ever experienced. The Sexy Back singer attended the Instructor Battalion party in Richmond, Virginia, on Saturday night with Corporal Kelsey de Santis, who invited him to be her date in a video she posted on YouTube in July. One guest said the star, who was dressed in a sharp black tuxedo, 'posed for pictures and seemed like a normal guy'.

Ex-cop-ex-Marine Teaches OWS Heckler a Lesson
Excerpt: Meet New York’s newest hero. Kevin Hiltunen, a former NYPD officer, yesterday grabbed an Occupy Wall Street demonstrator by the collar and dragged him out of a Queens school where he’d been heckling US Rep. Bob Turner at the congressman’s swearing-in ceremony. “I guess you could say I sorted him out,” said Hiltunen, 48, his jacket and tie barely mussed after dragging the scruffy protester out on his rear end.

Deadlocked deficit panel weighs Plan B
Excerpt: With the congressional deficit reduction committee locked in a stalemate as it enters its final 10 days before a critical deadline, members have hinted that they may be willing to punt and consider fallback plans.

Bon Jovi, Springsteen, Quincy Jones, Ted Turner received federal funds
excerpt: Wealthy celebrities including Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, Quincy Jones and Ted Turner have received federal subsidies, according to “Subsidies of the Rich and Famous,” a new report from the office of Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) identified several individuals receiving farm payments “whose professions had nothing to do with farming or agricultur[e],” says the report. These individuals include real-estate developer Maurice Wilder, a “part-owner of a professional sports franchise [who] received total of more than $200,000 in farm program payments in 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006.” (Can you see now why these miscreants gave "Free" concerts for Obama. --DH)

China: Google Earth Spots Large, Unidentified Structures in the Gobi Desert
Excerpt: In two images, available on Google Earth, reflective rectangles up to a mile long can be seen, a tangle of bright white intersecting lines that are clearly visible from space. Other pictures show enormous concentric circles radiating on the ground, with three jets parked at their centre.

Islamists Take Over Egypt: Library of Alexandria to Be Burned Again
Excerpt: The Royal Library of Alexandria in Egypt, the largest and most significant library of the ancient world, is now being targeted by radical Muslims who seek to replace it with a mosque. Radical Islamic groups claim that the library's art programs, which include music and ballet dancing, spread "depravity" in Egyptian society. The Islamist campaign against the library is taking place under the looking eyes of Egypt's military dictators, who are burying their heads in the sand and refusing to see the danger, noted columnist Mohammed al-Hamamsi.

UK to lose 'safe haven' status as US grows
Excerpt: The {Union Bank of Switzerland] bank is forecasting the American economy will expand faster than any other developed rival next year, offering appeal both for those after higher returns as well as a shelter from Europe's debt crisis. While US gross domestic product will expand by 2.3pc in 2012, Britain will muster growth of just 0.7pc, according to the bank.

Chelsea Clinton Hired As a Full-Time Correspondent For NBC News
Another reason to keep the tube off. I’m sure it’s on merit and not name. Unless they make her wear a blue dress. ~Bob. Excerpt: On Monday morning, NBC News is poised to announce that the network has hired Chelsea Clinton to work as a full-time special correspondent, reports the New York Times — an announcement that won‘t be a shock media observers who have been commenting on the presidential daughter’s more media-friendly behavior. This announcement, which will be effective immediately, means that Clinton will show up on television screens across America as early as today.

38% Favor U.S. Military Action If Diplomacy Fails to Stop Iran's Nuclear Program, 35% Oppose
Excerpt: Voters are strongly convinced that Iran will develop nuclear weapons in the near future and are pessimistic about diplomatic efforts to prevent this from happening. But they're narrowly divided over whether U.S. military force should be used if diplomacy fails to dissuade Iran from its course. Thirty-eight percent (38%) of Likely U.S. Voters believe the United States should use military force to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons if diplomatic efforts fail. (The rest say they’ll just suck it up if their city gets A-bombed. ~Bob.)

The EPA's Reliability Cover-Up
Excerpt: Why did the agency erase its own doubts about the U.S. electrical grid? Some 830,000 Connecticut customers are only now having their power restored after a snowstorm knocked out the state's grid last month—but the Environmental Protection Agency continues to claim that its regulatory agenda won't degrade U.S. electric reliability. The reality is that the EPA's own staffers are—or used to be—worried, and their political superiors have erased the warnings.

Excerpt: Rick Perry’s debate gaffe last week will go in the annals of political history as one of the most embarrassing gaffes on a Presidential primary debate stage. His recovery the next day will be studied by future campaigns as the textbook example of damage control. His Saturday night debate performance in South Carolina gets him the complete redemption he needs. In South Carolina Saturday night the Rick Perry so many people have been hoping would come out to play, came out to win. He gave a sharp answer on dealing with Iran and Pakistan and captured the tea party zeitgeist by saying we should start each year at zero in our foreign aid budgets, including with Israel. He then went on to explain that those countries, like Israel, that are shown to be our friends would get money in the foreign aid budget.

Excerpt: There was one moment in the CBS News debate that has not gotten a lot of attention and should get a great deal of attention. CBS News asked Rick Perry about Pakistan. Perry responded that Pakistan is not being controlled by its political leaders, but rather by its secret police and military. Likewise, Pakistan should not get foreign aid unless it can show it is our friend and right now it looks to be anything but our friend. You can hear Rick Perry in his own words right here. This was followed up by perhaps the most dangerous and willfully naive foreign policy view I have ever heard expressed by Republicans. Michele Bachmann had to disagree with Rick Perry and, by the way, Newt Gingrich. Rick Santorum chimed in to agree with Michele Bachmann. We can call it the Bachmann-Santorum policy. It is to the left of Barack Obama.

Excerpt: The last time I checked, didn’t the Left call this sort of thing ‘crony capitalism?’ (Crony Socialism. ~Bob.)

Israel rushes airliner defenses as Libya leaks SAMs
Thanks to Barack Obama, coming soon to an airport near you! ~Bob. Excerpt: Israel has accelerated the installation of anti-missile defenses on its airliners, a security official said on Friday, seeing an enhanced risk of attack by militants using looted Libyan arms. Jets flown by El Al and two other Israeli carriers are being equipped with a locally made system known as C-Music that uses a laser to "blind" heat-seeking missiles, the official said, giving a 2013 target for fitting most of the fleet.

United States denies asylum to gay Saudi diplomat
Muslim is more PC than Gay. Sucks to be him. ~Bob. Excerpt: The United States government denied political asylum to Ali Ahmad Asseri, the former first secretary of the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles, last week to avoid disrupting US-Saudi relations, according to a Saudi-American blogger and journalist based in Brazil. Asseri argued that if he returned to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia he would face execution because the country’s radically fundamental form of Islam mandates the death penalty for same-sex relations.

Excerpt: But what makes it especially ‘interesting’ for politics in Virginia — and to those who watch these signs and signals for what they portend on a larger scale — is the possible election in the 87th District of a sharia candidate for the Commonwealth’s House of Delegates (Virginia has always declared itself a “commonwealth” or a “dominion”, but never a mere state — no matter the customs elsewhere). The Blue Ridge Forum follows local doings in Virginia and Maryland. It posted some of the details on Mr. Ramadan, the fellow with the Muslim Brotherhood connections, and the results in the 87th:

Canadian prime minister tells Obama that Canada will sell oil to Asia as US delays pipeline
Paying too much for gas, electric and heat? Thank Obama. ~Bob. Excerpt: Canada’s prime minister said he made it clear in a weekend meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama that Canada will step up its efforts to sell oil to Asia since the Obama administration delayed a decision on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

The real Cain scandal: Video cringe alert by Michelle Malkin 
Excerpt: It has nothing to do with anything Gloria Allred has her hands in. It’s his continued lack of preparedness on, and familiarity with, basic domestic and foreign policy issues. Sorry, Cain fans. Tried to give him the benefit of the doubt. But like Rick Perry, Herman Cain is just not ready for prime time. The real Cain scandal: He can barely form a coherent thought on Libya when put on the spot and garbles collective bargaining 101 facts.

Can anyone here make a deal?
Excerpt: For two months now, 12 members of Congress have sat in a windowless room stocked with granola bars and high-quality coffee, trying to remember how Congress is supposed to work. So far, no luck. And time is running short.

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