Thursday, February 9, 2012

Political Digest for February 9, 2012

Political Digest for February 9, 2011
Robert A. Hall

On the road, looking at 500 e-mails, will pull what I can between meetings. ~Bob

Crazy Juice Ghost Chili Sauce
This is a rare commercial plug, but not for me. My cousin Bruce’s son Jim has developed a small business selling this hot sauce he makes. They gave me a bottle. A drop pretty much does it for a bowl of chili. Hottest sauce I ever had, if your taste runs that way.

Santorum revives campaign with wins in Colorado, Missouri and Minnesota
Brokered Convention – Daniels/Rubio. ~Bob. Excerpt: Rick Santorum had a breakthrough night Tuesday, winning GOP presidential contests in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado, all of which is expected to breathe life into his struggling campaign and slow Mitt Romney’s march to the Republican presidential nomination.

Excerpt: In a rare speech on the House floor, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Wednesday vowed that Congress would repeal a regulation from the Obama administration's Department of Health and Human Services requiring some faith-based employers to provide birth control coverage in their employees' health plans. "If the president does not reverse the Department's attack on religious freedom, then the Congress, acting on behalf of the American people and the Constitution we are sworn to uphold and defend, must," Boehner said.

Excerpt: I didn’t vote for Barack Obama. But like a lot of Americans, I was hopeful about his presidency. Just as it took a Republican to thaw our relationship with China, it will probably take a Democrat to reform our entitlement programs. Again and again, Obama promised to step up to the challenge. Then he left the country at the altar and pursued partisan politics instead. Bill Clinton was going to be the first Democratic president to tackle entitlement spending. Although the effort has been completely ignored by the establishment media, Clinton was planning historic reforms during his second term. These were to include private accounts under Social Security and vouchers for Medicare. If that doesn’t knock your socks off, you haven’t been paying attention. When Republicans propose these things, Democrats invariably claim the GOP is trying to destroy the social safety net and leave the elderly to fend for themselves.

The human capital imperative: bringing more minds to America
Excerpt: For Americans long accustomed to stable growth and low unemployment rates, the past few years have come as a profound and unsettling shock. As policymakers rattle around their tool kits looking for ways to help the American economy, now is a good time to take a new look at immigration, in particular high-skilled immigration.

When Criminals Face Armed Resistance from Citizens
Excerpt: One of the most divisive issues in American politics is that of gun control. Many who oppose gun licensing for citizens do so because they believe that guns do more harm to a populace than good. They emphasize incidents of accidental death in which one's incompetence cost them their life. They also argue that increased gun ownership will result in increased gun use in cases of anger or passion, say Clayton E. Cramer, a history teacher at the College of Western Idaho, and David Burnett, the director of public relations for Students for Concealed Carry. However, such incidents have been overblown in severity and frequency, and cloud the debate over gun control. Specifically, they draw attention away from the fact that, by prohibiting the ownership of guns by private individuals, the government would leave its citizens more vulnerable to criminal activity. The government should recognize this fact and allow for one of the most basic of human rights: the right to self-defense. The most widely known study of gun-related self-defense, by Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz, was completed in the 1990s and found that there were somewhere between 830,000 and 2.45 million defensive gun uses per year in the United States. Another prominent study, by the National Crime Victimization Survey, found that there were about 108,000 defensive gun uses per year. The National Survey of Private Ownership of Firearms, performed in 1994, arrived at a figure of 1.5 million incidents of self-defense with a firearm.

America's Flawed, Outdated, Trade Policy By Matthew Jensen
Excerpt: First, it makes no sense to favor American companies over foreign companies. These are the types of policies that will drive plants for Toyota, BMW, Hyundai, Volkswagen, and Honda out of the American South. Second, punishing companies for locating segments of the production chain in other countries makes those industries less efficient. This point requires a brief invocation of trade theory.

Capitol Assets: Some legislators send millions to groups connected to their relatives
Excerpt: Some members of Congress send tax dollars to companies, colleges and community groups where their spouses, children and parents work as salaried employees, lobbyists or board members, according to an examination of federal disclosure forms and local public records by The Washington Post. A U.S. senator from South Dakota helped add millions to a Pentagon program his wife evaluated as a contract employee. A Washington congressman boosted the budget of an environmental group that his son ran as executive director. A Texas congresswoman guided millions to a university where her husband served as a vice president. (A former US Senator from Illinois got a large earmark for a university where his wife was employed. She got a huge raise, but after she left, the job was abolished. Guess Who? ~Bob.)

The Job-Killing Medical Device Tax
Excerpt: Americans consume nearly $100 billion dollars' worth of medical devices annually. Medical devices include simple things, such as cotton swabs, as well as complex instruments, such as pacemakers and artificial joints. Beginning in 2013, a 2.3 percent tax will be imposed on the manufacture and importation of medical devices in an attempt to offset a portion of the $1 trillion cost of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Though seemingly small, if this tax is implemented it will destroy jobs and stifle innovation, says Devon M. Herrick, a senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis. The 2.3 percent tax will be imposed on revenue, not profits. This means the tax will be paid even on devices sold at a loss. Further, the increased tax burden represents a significant portion of the profit margin on each dollar of medical device sales: In 2006 the medical device industry paid corporate income taxes of $3.1 billion on taxable income of $13.7 billion. The medical device tax would add approximately $3 billion annually to the taxes paid by medical device firms -- a 100 percent increase. Medical device firms in the United States are relatively small -- about 95 percent have annual sales of less than $100 million. Over the 2013 to 2019 period, these firms would pay a projected $20 billion in additional taxes -- imposing one of the highest effective corporate tax rates in the world. The medical device tax will result in the loss of high-paying manufacturing jobs. Indeed, firms have already begun preparing for the tax by reducing payrolls:

Ideology, not science by Dr Michael Keane
Excerpt: The notion that freedom can be usurped under the guise of public health arouses great antipathy in many; often expressed as a frustration with the Nanny State. However, many also feel compelled to accept the advice of vocal public health advocates who assure us that these measures are necessary. Similarly, anyone who voices concerns about the Nanny State is ruthlessly labelled as an intellectual Neanderthal who can't appreciate the supposedly impartial and ideologically-neutral ‘science'. However, those who warn against the Nanny State are, in effect, demonstrating a far more comprehensive and sophisticated understanding of all the relevant academic and scientific information than many public health campaigners whose simplistic pronouncements ignore established societal, historical, economic, biological, medical and ethical principles.

Excerpt: Thirty-three members of Congress have steered more than $300 million in earmarks and other spending provisions to dozens of public projects that are next to or near the lawmakers' own property, according to a Washington Post investigation. Under the ethics rules Congress has written for itself, this is both legal and undisclosed.

Excerpt: A new tax proposal could be the answer to our state's budget mess. The proposal? Tax illegal immigrants. The people behind the initiative said they can get illegal immigrants to pay income taxes, but first the Governor must get a promise from the federal government, it won't go after anyone here illegally and is part of the program. (And I bet the drug cartels would be willing to pay sales and income tax on selling Heroin and Cocaine if we promised not to arrest them for the crime. ~Bob.)

Conservative Films Make More Money Than Liberal Ones
Excerpt: Patriotism and traditional values, like those displayed in “Thor,” “The Artist,” “Soul Surfer” and “Hugo,” are what moviegoers want, says a group that will honor such films at an awards gala Friday. Wanna make money in Hollywood? Release patriotic movies that promote conservative values and do not denigrate Christianity.

Clean Air Act may effect Navajo Generating Station
Too bad—Greens more PC than Indians. ~Bob. Excerpt: The 2,250 megawatt Navajo Generating Station, which employs nearly 460 Navajo people, has been facing a proposed EPA rule that would mandate the nearly 40-year-old plant to install costly emission controls that principle operator Salt River Project said could force the plant to close. The technology is projected to cost $1.1 billion to install.

A Post-American World?: The reports of our demise are greatly exaggerated. By Victor Davis Hanson
I hope he’s right. Hard for me to understand how Dr. Hanson can report on the rolling disaster engulfing our nation, but be so much more optimistic than I am. ~Bob. Excerpt: Where to start with Mr. Zakaria’s indictment? George Bush traveled frequently to “emerging nations,” as did Bill Clinton. The former’s multibillion-dollar initiatives to help battle AIDS in Africa have saved millions of lives. Long before Obama, the G-something meetings were already more than “the old Western club.” Unlike Obama in Libya or Clinton in Serbia, Bush did not intervene in Afghanistan or Iraq without first obtaining congressional support.

Girls, 13 given contraceptive implants at school - Telegraph UK
 Excerpt: [One mother] said: "I feel really angry about this. I agree that teaching teenagers about sexual health and contraception is very important but this is a step too far. To perform a minor surgical procedure on school grounds, without parents knowing is morally wrong. I'm told a long list of checks were made before she had this implant but how many 13-year-olds are aware of their full medical history? I cannot understand how this is allowed to happen. ' [ I can understand. Liberals. Liberals is how this is allowed to happen. Kate]

Editorial: California voters may face triple tax-hike threat
Excerpt: It's not good when people want to raise taxes. But, ironically, it may turn out to be good that so many different people want to raise taxes in California. It appears increasingly likely that three competing tax initiatives will appear on the November ballot, which could result in voters rejecting them all. We don't often agree with Gov. Jerry Brown, who is pushing one of the three tax increases. But we do agree with the governor that several initiatives on the same ballot could confuse voters and divide the pro-tax vote, resulting in none of them passing. The difference is that Gov. Brown is distressed by this likelihood. We're delighted.

Worth Reading: Economic Chaos Ahead By Walter E. Williams
Excerpt: Let's think about the kind of mess that we're in. Federal 2010 Medicare and Medicaid expenditures totaled $800 billion. The projected annual growth of both programs is about 7 percent. Social Security expenditures are more than $700 billion a year. According to the 2009 Social Security and Medicare trustees reports, by 2030, 49 percent of federal revenues will go for Social Security and Medicare payments. The unfunded liability of both programs is already $106 trillion. (Maybe he read my book. ~Bob.)

A Defining Moment By Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: But Romney's statement about not worrying about the poor -- because they "have a very ample safety net" -- was followed by a statement that was not just a slip of the tongue, and should be a defining moment in telling us about this man's qualifications as a conservative and, more important, as a potential President of the United States. Mitt Romney has come out in support of indexing the minimum wage law, to have it rise automatically to keep pace with inflation. To many people, that would seem like a small thing that can be left for economists or statisticians to deal with.

A U.N. - but for Good Guys By Jonah Goldberg
Excerpt: The governments in Russia and China very much want to uphold the principle that every now and then the state must crush people who want freedom. That is why they worked together to veto a fairly toothless United Nations resolution condemning the regime in Syria and calling for President Bashar Assad, the lipless murderer who runs the place, to step down. The free world, still nominally led by the United States, erupted in outrage.

The '1 Percent' Exodus By Arnold Ahlert
Excerpt: Some posit the director's departure "fits the trend of wealthy Americans pulling their money out of the country and reinvesting it to buy land in the southern hemisphere, escaping spiraling tax rates and protecting themselves against the potential for widespread social dislocation." Is such an assessment a conspiracy theory, or is there any truth to it? Certainly, there is an ominous sound to the fact that, according to the INS/Census Bureau & Zogby International, the top one percent of U.S. taxpayers are leaving at the highest rate in history.

Strike, Israel! Strike Now By Ken Blackwell
Excerpt: "Whoever says later may find later is too late," says Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak. His words drove Western policymakers into a tizzy. Everyone wants to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, but not everyone is willing to do what it takes to bring that about.

Worth Reading: A Fairness Quiz for the President: Is it fair that some of Mr. Obama's largest campaign contributors received federal loan guarantees? By Stephen Moore
Excerpt: President Obama has frequently justified his policies—and judged their outcomes—in terms of equity, justice and fairness. That raises an obvious question: How does our existing system—and his own policy record—stack up according to those criteria? Is it fair that the richest 1% of Americans pay nearly 40% of all federal income taxes, and the richest 10% pay two-thirds of the tax? Is it fair that the richest 10% of Americans shoulder a higher share of their country's income-tax burden than do the richest 10% in every other industrialized nation, including socialist Sweden? (If it’s blocked, you cab n probably find with a Google search for the title. ~Bob.)

Middle East Crumbles Around Obama's Foreign Policy
Excerpt: Thousands are dead in Syria, with more blood spilled each day. Iran is within arm's reach of a nuclear weapon, threatening Israel's very existence. And in Egypt, 19 Americans are banned from leaving the country, making them veritable hostages in an unfriendly land. All indications are that the Middle East is crumbling, and President Barack Obama's foreign policy is collapsing right along with it.

100% renewable electricity for Australia – the cost
Excerpt: That is, the wholesale cost of electricity for the simulated system would be seven times more than now, with an abatement cost that is 13 times the starting price of the Australian carbon tax and 30 times the European carbon price. (This cost of electricity does not include costs for the existing electricity network). Although it ignores costings, the EDM-2011 study is a useful contribution. (The operator of this site is a firm believer in climate change who also has respect for scientific and economic realities. This study is very detailed, but should be easily accessible to most people. For any with the desire to check his calculations, the author has included links to a PDF of all of them and all the source data, as well. When reading and thinking about this study, for practical purposes, assume the Australian dollar is about at par with the US dollar ($1.07USD to $1.00AUD). The really important difference is population. Currently, there are only about 22,000,000 Australians; there are about 310,000,000 Americans, roughly 14 times greater. That difference of scale would be reflected in both the usage of electricity and the attendant costs. Again, these figures are from true believers of CAGW; multiply by 14 and add a fudge-factor to account for political inefficiencies that would have to occur here. Don’t be stunned when you realize the total costs would be approximately equal to the ENTIRE GDP of the USA for a year. Even if CAGW was proven (which it isn’t), we can’t afford to stop it; our only road to success is to adapt to it, just like humanity has done every previous time the climate changed. Ron P.)

Dependency Index Surges 23% Under President Obama By John Merline
Excerpt: The American public's dependence on the federal government shot up 23% in just two years under President Obama, with 67 million now relying on some federal program, according to a newly released study by the Heritage Foundation.

Bolstering the Military Option on Iran: Providing Israel with advanced bunker-busting munitions and refueling tankers to extend the range of its jets would help convince the Iranians to pursue a diplomatic solution. By Charles S. Robb and Charles Wald
Excerpt: In his recent State of the Union address, President Obama declared, "Let there be no doubt: America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon." Yet Iran is fast approaching the nuclear threshold, despite new, tough international sanctions.
The clock must be stopped. The best hope for doing so is a triple-track strategy of diplomacy, sanctions and a more credible threat of force by the U.S. and Israel. The time has come for American leaders to begin preparations for, and a robust public debate about, military action against Iran.

Revisiting the Auto Bailout With Clint: Detroit is hostage to the administration's green energy schemes—a perfect vehicle for granting favors and extorting tribute.

Excerpt: Clint Eastwood-- is receiving grief for his Super Bowl ad for Chrysler, which many saw as an Obama campaign ad trumpeting the president's Detroit bailout.
Mr. Eastwood's previously recorded remarks on the subject were: "We shouldn't be bailing out the banks and car companies." A further complication is that Chrysler is now owned by Fiat, an Italian company, which received its stake largely as a gift of the U.S. taxpayer in return for meeting fuel-economy goals, not financial goals.

Breaking: Fugitive Obama Fundraiser Linked to Fast and Furious
Excerpt: Some developing news in the case of Juan Jose Rojas Cardona, who is a fugitive on drug and fraud charges. In 2009 it was discovered that he was involved in a plot to assassinate a rival and bribe Mexican officials.

Obama’s Vision of ‘Fairness’
Excerpt: If one relies on government in order to achieve fairness — a somewhat dubious concept in the first place — a class of bureaucrats will enforce the rules of economic engagement. These people will decide who gets and who gives. Power will be centralized and absolute. Moreover, the tax system becomes an instrument for imposing redistribution arrangements.

Fast and Furious: Three Questions Not Asked
Excerpt: To date, the media has largely buried the story of the Department of Justice scheme that contributed to the deaths of a federal agent and more than 300 Mexican citizens. Such a story would have held front-page, top-of-the-hour focus until answers were provided and officials had been hounded out of office or imprisoned had it occurred under a Republican administration. (…) It is inconceivable for the mainstream media to grill the decisions, motives, or goals of black Democrats for fear of being “racist” according to their own definition of the term, which is criticism of a minority member who professes the “correct” political ideology. Radically different rules apply for minority Republicans.

How Dangerous Is Obama?
Excerpt: It's now quite clear that Obama is playing chicken with Israel on Iranian nukes. That is why Leon Panetta came out with a statement this week accusing Israel of planning to attack Iran. If that statement is true, it's the worst kind of sabotage, undermining the advantages of surprise. If it's false, it is intended to place Israel at the focus of Iranian rage. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Obama to Return Major Donations Tied to Fugitive
Excerpt: Two American brothers of a Mexican casino magnate who fled drug and fraud charges in the United States and has been seeking a pardon enabling him to return have emerged as major fund-raisers and donors for President Obama’s re-election campaign. (Can’t really blame Obama. He learned politics in Chicago where this type of thing is business as usual. ~Bob.)

Israel and Iran on the Eve of Destruction in a New Six-Day War: There are plenty of arguments against an Israeli attack on Iran. And all of them are bad. By Niall Ferguson.
Excerpt: The single biggest danger in the Middle East today is not the risk of a six-day Israeli war against Iran. It is the risk that Western wishful nonthinking allows the mullahs of Tehran to get their hands on nuclear weapons. Because I am in no doubt that they would take full advantage of such a lethal lever. We would have acquiesced in the creation of an empire of extortion. War is an evil. But sometimes a preventive war can be a lesser evil than a policy of appeasement. (Niall Ferguson is a professor of history at Harvard University. He is also a senior research fellow at Jesus College, Oxford University, and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. His Latest book, Civilization: The West and the Rest, has just been published by Penguin Press. Reading it now. ~Bob.)

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