Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Political Digest April 13, 2010

I’m away from home, on family business, so borrowing a slow computer. Deleting even more incoming email unread than usual. Sorry about your jokes, virus warnings, cute kittens and stuff that’s been forwarded 20 times already, but I have no time.

List of Obama's Friday departures grows
Excerpt: Did you hear about Dawn Johnsen? President Obama's pick to lead the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel bowed out of consideration on Friday afternoon, in the shadow of Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens's decision to announce his retirement. Johnsen's announced decision joins Team Obama's growing list of Friday departures. Let's recap them -- on a Monday:

Did FDR end the depression?
Excerpt: Roosevelt died before the war ended and before he could implement his New Deal revival. His successor, Harry Truman, in a 16,000 word message on Sept. 6, 1945, urged Congress to enact FDR's ideas as the best way to achieve full employment after the war. Congress—both chambers with Democratic majorities—responded by just saying "no." No to the whole New Deal revival: no federal program for health care, no full-employment act, only limited federal housing, and no increase in minimum wage or Social Security benefits. Instead, Congress reduced taxes. Income tax rates were cut across the board. FDR's top marginal rate, 94% on all income over $200,000, was cut to 86.45%. The lowest rate was cut to 19% from 23%, and with a change in the amount of income exempt from taxation an estimated 12 million Americans were eliminated from the tax rolls entirely. Corporate tax rates were trimmed and FDR's "excess profits" tax was repealed, which meant that top marginal corporate tax rates effectively went to 38% from 90% after 1945. Georgia Sen. Walter George, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, defended the Revenue Act of 1945 with arguments that today we would call "supply-side economics." If the tax bill "has the effect which it is hoped it will have," George said, "it will so stimulate the expansion of business as to bring in a greater total revenue." He was prophetic. By the late 1940s, a revived economy was generating more annual federal revenue than the U.S. had received during the war years, when tax rates were higher. Price controls from the war were also eliminated by the end of 1946. The U.S. began running budget surpluses.

Who's still biased?
Liberals always feel if their intent was good, actual results don’t matter. Excerpt: If you work at a large company, and especially if you manage other people, chances are you've gone through diversity training. The vast majority of the Fortune 500 and, by some estimates, the majority of American employers offer diversity training programs for their employees. Many make such training mandatory. The amount of money spent on it in the United States runs into the billions…..Now a few social scientists are taking a hard look at these programs, and, so far, what they're finding is that there's little evidence that diversity training works. A paper published last year by psychologist Elizabeth Levy Paluck of Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School and Yale University political scientist Donald Green comprehensively surveyed the literature on prejudice reduction measures and found no empirical support for the idea that diversity training programs change attitudes or behavior.

Battle-weary House Dems eye short weeks, easy votes ahead of election
They now spend so much time fund-raising, that “campaign mode” is 24/7/365. Excerpt: House leaders are preparing a schedule of short weeks and relatively easy votes over the next seven weeks as they aim for a smooth entry to election season. If December marked the point at which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) shifted mentally into “campaign mode,” April marks the point at which she and other House leaders are finally beginning to implement a campaign-first legislative ground game.

Health Care Reform Bill Violates the 1st & 5th Amendments
Excerpt: The health care bill passed into law on March 21 violates the First and Fifth Amendments to the United States Constitution. The bill mandates that almost all Americans acquire health insurance, thus divesting millions of Americans of money against their will and providing it as an enormous government mandated windfall to the nation’s insurance companies. Thirty-eight states attorneys general are preparing to file suit against the federal government to challenge the new law. This is the first time in American history that the federal government has compelled the citizens of this country to buy a specific product, health insurance. That mandate violates our basic right to liberty which includes not only the freedom to purchase goods and services lawfully available in the market, but also the freedom not to purchase those goods and services, and the right to associate and not associate with institutions of our choice.

`One forest, two Polish tragedies, 70 years apart
Excerpt: The leader of Poland's government in exile while the nation was under Soviet-backed rule. The shipyard worker whose firing helped ignite the labor uprising that ultimately toppled communism here. A banking head who helped keep the country stable while the rest of the European Union plunged into recession. When Poland lost its president and top military brass Saturday in a plane crash that killed 96, it also lost much of its living history and other elite members of society. It is a supreme bitterness that they died near, of all places, Russia's Katyn forest, where thousands of Polish officers were slain by Soviet forces in World War II in an attempt to eliminate some of the country's brightest. "This is so very much like Katyn, where our head was cut off," former President Lech Walesa said.

Health Law Bans New Doctor-Owned Hospitals, Blocks Expansion of Existing Oneshttp://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread560680/pg1
Physician-owned hospitals often are specialty-focused, such as orthopaedic hospitals, have better outcomes. But liberals don’t care about outcomes, except election outcomes they can demagogue. Excerpt: The new health care overhaul law, which promised increased access and efficiency in health care, will prevent doctor-owned hospitals from adding more rooms and more beds. The new health care rules single out physician-owned hospitals, making new projects ineligible to receive payments for Medicare and Medicaid patients. More than 60 doctor-owned hospitals across the country that were in the development stage will be canceled, said Molly Sandvig, executive director of Physician Hospitals of America.

Must Read: A Tour Through Recession America
Excerpt: Here follows some other unscientific observations. This is a funny recession. My grandfather’s stories of the Great Depression — 27 relatives in my current farmhouse and barn — were elemental: trying to find enough food to survive, and saving gasoline by shifting to neutral and gliding to stops or on the downhill. The problem I saw this week was rampant obesity, across all age and class lines. If anything, the wealthier in Palo Alto/Stanford eat less (yes, I know the liberal critique that they have capital and education to shop for expensive healthier fruits and vegetables while the poor and neglected must turn to fast food, coke, and pop tarts). No matter — a lot of Americans are eating too much and moving too infrequently — and no one, at least if girth matters, is starving. There is a new beggar. I see him on the intersections now on major urban boulevards. They are never illegal aliens, rarely African-Americans, but almost all white males, and of two sorts. One is someone who looks homeless, not crippled but in a walker or wheelchair (yet he gets up occasionally). He has a sign on cardboard with a wrenching narrative (fill in the blanks: veteran, of course; disabled; will work (not) for food, etc.). Choice corners become almost enclaves, as two or three cluster on islands and stoplights, as if certain franchises are choice and more lucrative than others.
A newer second sort is younger, more upscale. One fellow looked like a fraternity brat with a sign that said “Mom has cancer. No health insurance. Please help!” Another burly lad, well fed and toned, had a placard, “Need gas money. Broke down.” Yet a third waved a card, “Sudden wedding, need money.” My illiberal side suggests that if we were to investigate, both types have not inconsiderable cash in their pockets. They certainly feel there is no shame in begging. All that is changed from antiquity is that we have eliminated the vocabulary not the act: beggars don’t exist; “homeless” and the “needy” do. For a recession, there are lots of Mercedes, BMWs, Lexuses, and Volvos around — and in places like Fresno too. Maybe these are just leases (renters who prefer to lease a big car than buy houses), but for depression-era times, our contemporary versions of the Packard or Pierce-Arrow are pretty ubiquitous. (Note: I still can’t see how a Mercedes or Lexus warrants the far higher price over, say, a Camry or Accord that seem as comfortable and reliable). Thirty years ago one saw an upscale car on the Stanford campus; today you see them on an American high school campus. A new cohort between 21 and 30 is becoming a lost generation — and with good reason. They don’t seem to be working full-time or have good jobs with secure futures. Instead, from construction to teaching, there are far fewer sustainable careers for young people. But given family ties, they can live at home, postpone marriage, find part-time work, and rely on essentials like rent and food from the old embryo, while using what little is made for discretionary spending — allowing the veneer of middle class opulence to continue. That is, for a deep recession, there seems to be a lot of young people out on weekdays at about 10 AM at stores, with good clothes and appurtenances, and apparently no substantial incomes. Is this sustainable, this ability to have discretionary spending, while outsourcing housing and food to one’s parents?

Why I’m running for Congress
Excerpt: the barrier between America’s chronically poor and the American dream is the welfare state socialism which was supposed to be our answer to poverty. As a young woman I was on welfare myself. I saw from inside the perverse and destructive culture it created. A dehumanized culture of dependence and irresponsibility that encourages behavior exactly the opposite of what a successful life demands. The result speaks for itself. Fifty years and a trillion plus dollars in spending after President Johnson announced the War on Poverty, poverty rates are unchanged.

French Leader Sarkozy Slams Obama, Warns He Might Be Insane
I doubt this. Sarkozy is no Biden, wouldn’t say things like this where could be quoted. Excerpt: Excerpt: A new report circulating in the Kremlin today authored by France’s Directorate-General for External Security (DGSE) and recently “obtained” by the FSB shockingly quotes French President Nicolas Sarkozy [photo top right with Obama] as stating that President Barack Obama is “a dangerous[ly] aliéné”, which translates into his, Obama, being a “mad lunatic”, or in the American vernacular, “insane”. According to this report, Sarkozy was “appalled” at Obama’s “vision” of what the World should be under his “guidance” and “amazed” at the American Presidents unwillingness to listen to either “reason” or “logic”. Sarkozy’s meeting where these impressions of Obama were formed took place nearly a fortnight ago at the White House in Washington D.C., and upon his leaving he “scolded” Obama and the US for not listening closely enough to what the rest of the World has to say.

Obama's List
Excerpt: Over the past year and a half, we've seen much in the way of speculation of what Obama is really up to, what his true agenda might be behind all the soothing and meretricious rhetoric. It was quite clear that "Obama" was a construct, a carefully manufactured image, as all politicians are to one extent or another. But Obama was an extreme example -- all image, most of it having little or no connection with any discernible substance. The gap between what he said and what he would then proceed to do was wide and glaring. This obvious and undeniable discontinuity is the major factor feeding all the conspiracy theories -- the ones featuring George Soros as puppet-master, the claims of adherence to Islam, and so forth. If only it were that simple! The past few weeks have clearly revealed that Obama is something at the same time entirely more commonplace while also being more obnoxious. Obama is an example of that peculiar American contribution to the long line of political deviancy: the romantic leftist, a combination of undergrad Marxism, New Deal activism, Great Society idealism, and late '60s dementia. In fulfillment of this role, he is going down the list of left-wing daydreams, wish-fulfillment fantasies, and unfinished business, and doing his damnedest to see them made reality. No more than that, and certainly no less.

How Fannie and Freddie foiled regulators
Excerpt: Mismanagement of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and obstruction of their regulators by Congress and successive presidential administrations played a pivotal role in creating and then bursting the housing bubble at the heart of the economic meltdown of 2008, according to testimony of officials before the congressionally chartered Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. Rather than offer a serious discussion of how to reform the two government-sanctioned enterprises (GSEs), however, President Obama and the Democratic leadership in Congress are only offering legislation to punish bank CEOs and stiffen regulations for private sector banks. In 2006, Dan Mudd, then Fannie Mae's chief operating officer, wrote in an e-mail to Chief Executive Officer Franklin Raines that the GSE desperately needed reform because "the old political reality was that we always won, we took no prisoners ... we used to... be able to write, or have written, rules that worked for us." Mudd's e-mail was cited in testimony last week before the FCIC by James B. Lockhart, who in 2006 was acting director of the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO), the GSE watchdog. Lockhart said OFHEO's regulatory authority was inadequate because "[Fannie and Freddie] could borrow so cheaply and at unlimited amounts to fund their portfolios because their lenders and rating agencies applied no market discipline." Lockhart told the FCIC that before the housing bubble burst, he recognized that the GSEs faced serious credit risks and recommended freezing Freddie's portfolio. That recommendation ran into "quite intense" pushback, according to Lockhart. The neutered watchdog could barely enact any reform at all, he said: "OFHEO was regulating two of the largest and most systematically important U.S. financial institutions and yet its powers were much weaker than bank or even state insurance regulators ... OFHEO did not have all the necessary powers to deal with these giant housing enterprises."

Obama's numbers in a post-healthcare tailspin?
Excerpt: President Obama has just reached a new low in the Gallup Poll of adults.

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