Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Political Digest for April 26, 2012

I’m in Washington, DC, our country’s beautiful capital. Or, as we outside the beltway know it, this parasite-ridden sewer of waste and corruption. Trying to keep up with e-mail between meetings.

I apologize if the formatting is screwed up. Blogger/Blogspot has given us a "new look," and the Digest is no longer formated when I paste it. Must go through & bold the headlines, make the links live. Takes ten times as long. I hate "improvements." ~Bob

Newt Gingrich to suspend presidential campaign Former House speaker Newt Gingrich is expected to suspend his presidential campaign within the next week, according to a Republican operative familiar on the decision. (Reason has returned to her throne. If we could have had Good Newt/Debate Newt all the time, I’d have strongly supported him. But every time I moved toward him, he wandered off the reservation. ~Bob.)

Bernie Madoff Accounting for Medicare By John Goodman
Excerpt: On the eve of the release of this year’s Medicare Trustees report, the Obama administration released its own version of it. In the administration’s telling: Health reform (ObamaCare) will save taxpayers $200 billion in the Medicare program through 2016. About 90% of these savings will be produced by lowering “excessive payments” to Medicare Advantage plans, lower payments to doctors, hospitals and other providers to reflect their “improved productivity,” and through efficiencies gained by what is learned from “demonstration projects.” The demonstration projects include pay for performance, bundling, Accountable Care Organizations, and other frequently discussed ideas. But whereas the Trustees report is expected to be a serious document, reflecting accepted accounting principles, the administration’s document was clearly a piece of political propaganda — one that stretched the truth so much that the word “spin” would be a charitable description.

Trustees Issue Warnings On Medicare, But Make No Changes To Solvency Projections
Excerpt: Trustees of the Medicare program today forecast increased financial troubles as a result of an aging population and rising health care costs, increasing the visibility of an issue that is already proving divisive in the 2012 presidential and Congressional campaigns. "Both programs took a turn for the worse this year," trustee Charles Blahous III, a senior research fellow at George Mason University in Virginia, said of Medicare and Social Security.

Medicare’s Dirty Little Secret: It’s already insolvent. By Douglas Holtz-Eakin & Jim Nussle
Excerpt: It’s something everyone knows, but no one wants to talk about: Medicare’s cash position makes Enron’s business model look downright reputable. Medicare is bleeding cash — a fact disguised by creative accounting. According to Monday’s release of the 2012 Trustees Report, in 2011 Medicare took in $260.8 billion in payroll taxes and beneficiary premiums, but spent $549.1 billion in medical services. That means last year Medicare ran a $288.3 billion cash shortfall.

Understanding Tax Fairness
From I recommend following and supporting their work. ~Bob . Excerpt: President Obama has called for the implementation of the Buffett Rule (a higher tax rate on the rich) because he says that the current tax system unfairly favors the wealthy. To support this point, he has emphasized the low tax rates paid by American millionaires and those few cases in which millionaires pay no taxes, says Alex Brill of the American Enterprise Institute. However, this degradation of the wealthy as tax evaders and unwilling to pay their fair share is misleading the voting public. There are numerous injustices present in the tax system that manifest themselves in much larger problems than a handful of millionaires. President Obama took to Twitter recently to decry the fact that 1,470 millionaires paid no federal income tax in 2009. Yet the president's argument ignores the fact that 5.1 million households with incomes ranging from $40,000 to $100,000 also paid no income taxes in 2009. For the 35.8 million other people in the same income range who paid, on average, thousands of dollars in federal income taxes, this is also a significant matter of fairness. This growing group of non-paying filers is a long-term trend for the American tax structure, and it suggests that the largest problem with our taxes is not that the rich do not face higher rates. While the number of tax returns filed jumped from 107 million in 1987 to 140.5 million in 2009, the number of taxable returns actually fell from 87 million to 82 million. Of the 10.8 million taxpayers with adjustable gross incomes (AGIs) between $40,000 and $50,000, 22 percent paid no federal income tax in 2009, while those who did have tax liability paid an average of $3,000. Of the 18.7 million taxpayers with AGIs between $50,000 and $75,000, 12 percent paid no federal income tax. Among the remaining 16.4 million returns in this income bracket, the average tax bill was about $4,700. If the president were truly dedicated to tax fairness, he would lead a charge to do away with the tax expenditures that make all of this avoidance possible.

The U.S. Experience with Fiscal Stimulus: A Historical and Statistical Analysis of U.S. Fiscal Stimulus Activity, 1953- 2011 By Antony Davies, Bruce Yandle, Derek Thieme, and Robert Sarvis
Excerpt: Even with ARRA and other federal actions taken to stabilize specific sectors, the economy continued to stumble along a bumpy recovery road after the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) declared June 2009 to be the end of the 2008–2009 recession. The recession was the most severe since the 1929 financial collapse and Great Depression that followed. At a glance, stimulus spending looks ineffective, but the stimulus effectiveness debate will no doubt continue for years, primarily because there is no conclusive way to resolve the matter. (Interesting paper, but doesn’t take into account the benefit to politicians of buying the votes of favored interest groups with tax dollars, the real purpose of these programs. ~Bob.)

Justices seem favorable to Arizona immigration law
Excerpt: Supreme Court justices on Wednesday appeared highly doubtful of the Obama administration’s objections to a controversial immigration law in Arizona. The ideologically diverse group of justices pummeled Solicitor General Donald Verrilli with a morning full of questions, expressing serious doubts to the government’s claim that Arizona cannot require state law enforcement officials to verify a person’s legal status when they’re stopped on suspicion of committing a separate offense. “You can see it's not selling very well,” said Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic woman to be seated on the bench, to Verrilli after the solicitor general had delivered a significant portion of his argument. “I’m terribly confused by your answer.”

Once Obama's, younger voters in play this election
Ungrateful Sods don’t like him spending their retirement money to buy votes this year. ~Bob. Excerpt: Once thought to be solidly behind President Barack Obama, younger voters burdened by a bleak employment picture, high gas prices and student loan debt are being aggressively wooed by the Democrat and his likely Republican challenger, Mitt Romney.

Rural kids, parents angry about Labor Dept. rule banning farm chores By Patrick Richardson
Excerpt: A proposal from the Obama administration to prevent children from doing farm chores has drawn plenty of criticism from rural-district members of Congress. But now it’s attracting barbs from farm kids themselves. The Department of Labor is poised to put the finishing touches on a rule that would apply child-labor laws to children working on family farms, prohibiting them from performing a list of jobs on their own families’ land. Under the rules, children under 18 could no longer work “in the storing, marketing and transporting of farm product raw materials.

Marines Moving Women Toward the Front Lines
Excerpt: The Marine Corps, the most male of the armed services, is taking its first steps toward integrating women into war-fighting units, starting with its infantry officer school at Quantico, Va., and ground combat battalions that had once been closed to women. (…) In the coming months, General Amos said in an interview, the Marine Corps plans to assign about 40 women to 19 battalions of six different types: artillery, tank, assault amphibian, combat engineer, combat assault and low-altitude air defense. Infantry battalions, however, will remain closed to women. (I’m pleasantly surprised by NYT’s coverage of this; they don’t bring in critics until the final few paragraphs. It’s as close to “fair” as they are capable of. Ron P. I was very impressed with Gen. Amos Saturday night, not inclined to second guess him. You could do a lot worse in a tough spot than to have a female Marine at your back. Might be an OWS draftee, wetting his knickers. ~Bob.)

ICNA's Radicalization Continues
Excerpt: The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) is leading a pro-Sharia public relations campaign, aimed at persuading Americans that these beliefs aren't something to fear or leading to domination. As it does this, however, it continues to guide followers toward texts that go in a starkly contrasting direction. It has pushed underground a series of curricula detailing its adult radicalization program, but more extremist materials pop up in youth events, the group's bookstore, and elsewhere.

West Bend High School students wear Walker t-shirts to school
Excerpt: For anyone that thinks these kids shouldn’t be wearing these shirts, realize this: a bunch of WI teachers skipped out of work at the last second last year so they could attend the anti-Walker rallies in Madison, saying their action was an excellent example to the students of how a democracy works. Their skipping work resulted in a lot of schools being shut down in their absence. Seems to me these students showing support for Walker is a way better example of how a democracy works. And as an added bonus, these kids are showing their support while tending to their obligations of school (unlike the teachers that skipped out on their jobs last year).

87% Think Media More Interested in Candidate Controversy Than in the Issues
Excerpt: However, voters overwhelmingly see those stories as media hype and believe it’s the candidate that really counts.

High Court’s Immigration Case Is Just the Beginning
Excerpt: Legal analysts disagree about which are the most problematic parts of the law, but the ID requirement certainly ranks at the top of the list from a practical point of view. What is to be done with legal foreign minors? What counts as a valid ID? It is also unclear how justices will view the provision criminalizing work solicitation.

Poll Finds Public Skeptical, Leaning Slightly Democratic
Excerpt: The newest findings of the United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll show a public that’s predisposed to voting more Democratic. In a head-to-head race, President Obama bests Mitt Romney 47 percent to 39 percent, with 9 percent of respondents saying neither and 5 percent refusing or not knowing. Likewise, 50 percent of respondents wanted Democrats to keep control of the U.S. Senate, compared to 39 percent who favored a GOP majority. (It would be interesting to see how they worded their questions. I can’t help thinking something is off, as another of their findings is that Hispanics favor Obama by 94% to 1%. It’s difficult to get that many people to agree what time it is (maybe they’re all Black-Hispanics?). Ron P.)

Egyptian Actor Insulted Islam, a Court Finds
Excerpt: A court found Egypt’s most popular comic actor guilty on Tuesday of insulting Islam in roles in films mocking religious hypocrisy, alarming liberal-minded artists and intellectuals already anxious about the growing power of Islamists here after the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak. (ah, that wonderful democratic “Arab Spring,” hailed by the media, Obama and other leftists. You can have Shari’a Law or freedom. Not both. ~Bob.)

Worth Reading: O’s filthy money man --A job for Occupy Wall Street
Excerpt: Because the Obama re-election campaign just announced that Corzine is still one of its top-tier bundlers. Corzine has raised more than $500,000 for Obama. Obama constantly denounces “millionaires and billionaires” for playing by their own rules. The campaign told one reporter in February that it wouldn’t take more money from Corzine himself, but it’s been happy to let the man solicit donations for Obama even as Corzine is under investigation by Obama’s Justice Department.

Obama’s Incompetence May Fuel Racial Violence
Excerpt: The election of Barack Obama was seen as a pivotal moment of the 21st century: an opportunity for America to be healed by a black President who embraced the ideals needed for a new America. There was a comedy about ancient Rome titled “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.” More recently, a funny thing happened on the way to the Oval Office.

Police investigating threats against Marco Rubio
Excerpt: The U.S. Capitol Police confirmed Wednesday that they are working with law enforcement agencies in Miami to investigate a threat against Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).

Obama's Fallon Appearance Violated Campaign Law
Excerpt: Only one problem, aside from the fact that this was possibly the worst “comedy” segment in the history of mankind: it violated campaign finance law. The equal time rule states that if a licensee permits a person “who is a legally qualified candidate for any public office to use a broadcasting station, he shall afford equal opportunities to all other such candidates for that office in the use of such broadcasting station.” (Huh. I thought the equal time law was dead. ~Bob.)

Taxpayer cash used to pay off alleged NC Dems’ sexual harassment victim?
Excerpt: Ortega’s allegations came the news that the NCDP made a financial settlement with Ortega and had both Ortega and Parmley sign non-disclosure agreements to keep the issue quiet. To this day, it’s unclear if taxpayer money was used to make that financial settlement and the NCDP won’t answer questions related to that aspect of the scandal.

Republicans Note Then-Senator Obama Didn’t Show Up for Vote on Student Loan Bill in 2007
Excerpt: As the president prepared for his push — which Democrats hope will also shore up support for the president among younger voters, a group among which enthusiasm for Mr. Obama has been lagging — Republicans on Capitol Hill noted that then-Senator Obama seemed to make the lower interest rates for student loans a lower priority.

Now Available Online: Heritage Guide to The Constitution
Excerpt: To help lawmakers and the public understand the Constitution and its meaning, in 2005 The Heritage Foundation published The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, a clause-by-clause analysis of our Founding Document. This comprehensive resource is now available online in its entirety—for free.

Spain is About to Enter a Full-Scale Collapse
Excerpt: A few facts about Spain: Total Spanish banking loans are equal to 170% of Spanish GDP. Troubled loans at Spanish Banks just hit an 18-year high. Spanish Banks are drawing a record €316.3 billion from the ECB (up from €169.2 billion in February).Things have gotten so bad that Spanish citizens are pulling their money out of Spain en masse: €65 billion left the Spanish banking system in March 2011 alone.

Senate Votes to Violate Budget Control Act And Keep The Spending Spree Going
Excerpt: The Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee Jeff Session's (R-AL) valiant attempt to stop Congress from spending $34 billion above the Budget Control Act limits was defeated yesterday by a vote of 62-37. The fact that Sen. Sessions's attempt to slow Washington's runaway spending could not even garner the full support of Republicans paints an ominous sign for citizens worried about America's nearly $16 trillion debt.

The Battle for Wisconsin: Scott Walker awaits his challenger. By John Mccormack
And Wisconsin? Unemployment has dropped from 7.7 percent to 6.9 percent since Walker took office. Property taxes are down for the first time in 12 years. A $3.6 billion deficit was eliminated without lots of layoffs. The message resonates with the machinists. Almost all applaud enthusiastically for Walker.

Mia Love: black, conservative, Mormon, GOP House candidate from Utah
Excerpt: Amid the crowded field of House candidates across the country in 2012, expect to hear a lot about Mia Love, a Republican who is an African American and a Mormon and who on Saturday defeated a handful of rivals to clinch the party nomination in the campaign for Utah's fourth congressional district. Love is preparing to face incumbent Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson. Victory in November would make her the first black Republican congresswoman in history.

Cronyism, corporatism, and green energy by Timothy P. Carney
Excerpt: When Obama bundlers get special government subsidies they didn't deserve, I don't see the main lesson as being one of corruption in the Obama administration. I think the main lesson is the nature of government intervention in the economy.

Islam Today By Khaled Abu Toameh
Excerpt: I am an Arab Muslim living in Jerusalem. I am also an Israeli citizen, not because I am a collaborator with Israel, but because my father belongs to the Israeli-Arab community inside Israel. We are talking about nearly 1.4 million people living inside Israel. And I also happen to be a Palestinian because my mother is a Palestinian from the West Bank. So if you're confused you can call me an Israeli-Arab-Muslim-Palestinian. We have a crisis of identity over there. (I think that as a group, liberals are afflicted by an inverted kind of racism that they cannot see in themselves. Behavior that they would not tolerate from their children, neighbors, town council or national government, are excused and apologized for when the perpetrators are an "oppressed" people. We see this in the mainstreaming of race-monger Al Sharpton and the anointment of jihadist CAIR as a pillar of the Democratic establishment. So it follows that liberals in our society excuse the behavior of Arabs and Muslims in their own countries who, among other atrocities, are today's unrepentant wannabe Nazis. At least in their homelands, they are open about their hatreds and fantasies. The cleaned up jihadists among us practice taqiyyah. Taqiyyah is Quran-sanctioned duplicity to conceal their identities and true intentions, treachery that gives them the time to become powerful enough to subvert and conquer ( --especially play close attention to minutes 5 to 8:30). At a small recent conference at Temple University exposing the abuses of shari`a. Robert Spencer, Nonie Darwish and Pamela Geller discuss specific acts of human rights abuse and oppression (especially honor killing) sanctioned by Islam, You will also see there the attempt to hijack the conference by Islamists whose reprehensible beliefs are protected by our Constitution. Also, I came across the above talk by Khaled Abu Toameh in 2009, who I had mentioned to you yesterday (I have met him--in addition to being a "good Arab," he is a gentleman and nice guy). Nothing in his analysis has changed in the 3 years since this speech. --Cordially, Larry Greenberg)

Reuters Publishes a Major Walkback on George Zimmerman
Excerpt: To recap: Not a self-appointed vigilante. Not a racist. Did not utter a racist slur and was not suspicious of Martin because of his skin color. Stand your ground laws probably don’t apply to his case. Other than that, the MSM has done a bang-up job on this story.

Hospital of Cards by Andrew Foy, MD
Excerpt: The US healthcare system is a huge bubble fueled by misguided policies that are sustained by the government's ability to borrow money at artificially low interest rates. When either the policies change or the flow of credit to the US government stops, the bubble will burst.

Chet Nagle on TV
Chet Nagle, author of The Iran Covenant and The Woolsorter’s Plague, two excellent novels about terror from Iran, appeared on CBN-TV to discuss the threat to America from terrorists and biological weapons. See the "Stakelbeck on Terror" show at this link by holding down 'control' and clicking on it. ~Bob.

Britain’s “Wettest Drought” Embarrasses Government Agency and Big Green Media
Excerpt: As April deluges soak Britain a top long-range weather forecaster denounces error-prone Environment Agency and mainstream media spin over “widespread” drought claims. Londoner Piers Corbyn, the maverick long-range forecaster of has poured more cold water over Britain’s discredited Environment Agency and gullible eco-crazed national newspapers. Corbyn reveals how self-serving pro-green zealots obstruct his efforts to help give Britons a chance of a more effective national long-range weather prediction service.

An $8 billion trick?: Toying with Medicare to fix elex By Benjamin E. Sasse & Charles Hurt
Excerpt: Call it President Obama’s Committee for the Re-Election of the President — a political slush fund at the Health and Human Services Department. Only this isn’t some little fund from shadowy private sources; this is taxpayer money, redirected to help Obama win another term. A massive amount of it, too — $8.3 billion. Yes, that’s billion, with a B. Here is how it works.

Family Misses Flight After TSA Gives Pat-Down To Girl With Cerebral Palsy
Excerpt: The Transportation Security Administration is once again the subject of national scrutiny, this time after aggressively screening a 7-year-old female passenger with cerebral palsy which caused her family to miss their flight.

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