Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Political Digest July 20, 2010

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.

A hidden world, growing beyond control
This is nothing. Wait until you see the new healthcare bureaucracy. Excerpt: The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work. These are some of the findings of a two-year investigation by The Washington Post that discovered what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight. After nine years of unprecedented spending and growth, the result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine.

Response from a correspondent: As a former member of the intelligence community (pre 9/11), redundancy is nothing new in the intelligence community. In the heat of the Cold War, each branch of the armed forces has its very own intelligence gathering and disseminating network. Each one was interested producing the best reports, the best analysis, the most current intelligence. As the Soviet Union crumbled and peace allegedly broke out across the free-world, members of the intelligence community knew better. We knew that the enemy had only morphed and become more decentralized. In the days between the fall of the Soviet Union and the Gulf War, many analysts knew their day would come, again. A day when information would again be king and the source of funding and glamour. Personally, I find it egregious that the Washington Post would spend two years researching and revealing the intelligence assets of the United States. Yes, there may be hundreds and thousands of employees in a new military industrial complex. Yes, they may receive annual salaries that baffle the average American. Yes, they may disseminate information at a painfully slow pace. Yes, the members of the intelligence community ARE well funded. It is my opinion that for the safety of my family, my children, my grandchildren, my nation, and my way of life this is money well spent. As I recall, the last successful terrorist attack on US soil was September 11, 2001. Should we as a nation elect to stop paying those who labor in SCIF's to protect our way of life, then we should fling open the doors, the ports, the airline gates and allow havoc to reign. The Washington Post ought spend its time effort and energy objectively report newsworthy events and allow those gainfully employed in the protection of our way of life to get on with what they do best; "Supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States against ALL enemies foreign and domestic."

Lost in Taxation: The IRS's vast new ObamaCare powers.
Excerpt: If it seems as if the tax code was conceived by graphic artist M.C. Escher, wait until you meet the new and not improved Internal Revenue Service created by ObamaCare. What, you're not already on a first-name basis with your local IRS agent?
National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson, who operates inside the IRS, highlighted the agency's new mission in her annual report to Congress last week. Look out below. She notes that the IRS is already "greatly taxed"—pun intended?—"by the additional role it is playing in delivering social benefits and programs to the American public," like tax credits for first-time homebuyers or purchasing electric cars. Yet with ObamaCare, the agency is now responsible for "the most extensive social benefit program the IRS has been asked to implement in recent history." And without "sufficient funding" it won't be able to discharge these new duties. That wouldn't be tragic, given that those new duties include audits to determine who has the insurance "as required by law" and collecting penalties from Americans who don't. Companies that don't sponsor health plans will also be punished. This crackdown will "involve nearly every division and function of the IRS," Ms. Olson reports. Well, well. Republicans argued during the health debate that the IRS would have to hire hundreds of new agents and staff to enforce ObamaCare. They were brushed off by Democrats and the press corps as if they believed the President was born on the moon. The IRS says it hasn't figured out how much extra money and manpower it will need but admits that both numbers are greater than zero. Ms. Olson also exposed a damaging provision that she estimates will hit some 30 million sole proprietorships and subchapter S corporations, two million farms and one million charities and other tax-exempt organizations. Prior to ObamaCare, businesses only had to tell the IRS the value of services they purchase. But starting in 2013 they will also have to report the value of goods they buy from a single vendor that total more than $600 annually—including office supplies and the like. Democrats snuck in this obligation to narrow the mythical "tax gap" of unreported business income, but Ms. Olson says that the tracking costs for small businesses will be "disproportionate as compared with any resulting improvement in tax compliance." Job creation, here we come . . . at least for the accountants who will attempt to comply with a vast new 1099 reporting burden.

IRS starts mopping up Congress's tax-reporting mess
Excerpt: With a new mandate looming that will require business owners to file millions more tax forms, the Internal Revenue Service has begun the daunting process of figuring out how to turn the law's sweeping demands into actual rules for taxpayers. The new regulations, which kick in at the start of 2012, require any taxpayer with business income to issue 1099 forms to all vendors from whom they purchased more than $600 of goods and services that year. That promises to launch a fusillade of new paperwork: An estimated 40 million taxpayers will be subject to the requirement, including 26 million who run sole proprietorships, according to a report released this week by National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson.

Changing Stance, Administration Now Defends Insurance Mandate as a Tax
Excerpt: When Congress required most Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty, Democrats denied that they were creating a new tax. But in court, the Obama administration and its allies now defend the requirement as an exercise of the government’s “power to lay and collect taxes.” And that power, they say, is even more sweeping than the federal power to regulate interstate commerce. Administration officials say the tax argument is a linchpin of their legal case in defense of the health care overhaul and its individual mandate, now being challenged in court by more than 20 states and several private organizations. Under the legislation signed by President Obama in March, most Americans will have to maintain “minimum essential coverage” starting in 2014. Many people will be eligible for federal subsidies to help them pay premiums.

Insurers Push Plans That Limit Choice of Doctor
Excerpt: As the Obama administration begins to enact the new national health care law, the country’s biggest insurers are promoting affordable plans with reduced premiums that require participants to use a narrower selection of doctors or hospitals. The plans, being tested in places like San Diego, New York and Chicago, are likely to appeal especially to small businesses that already provide insurance to their employees, but are concerned about the ever-spiraling cost of coverage. But large employers, as well, are starting to show some interest, and insurers and consultants expect that, over time, businesses of all sizes will gravitate toward these plans in an effort to cut costs. The tradeoff, they say, is that more Americans will be asked to pay higher prices for the privilege of choosing or keeping their own doctors if they are outside the new networks. That could come as a surprise to many who remember the repeated assurances from President Obama and other officials that consumers would retain a variety of health-care choices.

Firms cancel health coverage
Excerpt: The relentlessly rising cost of health insurance is prompting some small Massachusetts companies to drop coverage for their workers and encourage them to sign up for state-subsidized care instead, a trend that, some analysts say, could eventually weigh heavily on the state’s already-stressed budget. Since April 1, the date many insurance contracts are renewed for small businesses, the owners of about 90 small companies terminated their insurance plans with Braintree-based broker Jeff Rich and indicated in a follow-up survey that they were relying on publicly-funded insurance for their employees.

The Bush Tax Cuts and the Deficit Myth
Excerpt: President Obama and congressional Democrats are blaming their trillion-dollar budget deficits on the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003. Letting these tax cuts expire is their answer. Yet the data flatly contradict this "tax cuts caused the deficits" narrative. Consider the three most persistent myths: The Bush tax cuts wiped out last decade's budget surpluses. Sen. John Kerry (D., Mass.), for example, has long blamed the tax cuts for having "taken a $5.6 trillion surplus and turned it into deficits as far as the eye can see." That $5.6 trillion surplus never existed. It was a projection by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) in January 2001 to cover the next decade. It assumed that late-1990s economic growth and the stock-market bubble (which had already peaked) would continue forever and generate record-high tax revenues. It assumed no recessions, no terrorist attacks, no wars, no natural disasters, and that all discretionary spending would fall to 1930s levels. The projected $5.6 trillion surplus between 2002 and 2011 will more likely be a $6.1 trillion deficit through September 2011. So what was the cause of this dizzying, $11.7 trillion swing? I've analyzed CBO's 28 subsequent budget baseline updates since January 2001. These updates reveal that the much-maligned Bush tax cuts, at $1.7 trillion, caused just 14% of the swing from projected surpluses to actual deficits (and that is according to a "static" analysis, excluding any revenues recovered from faster economic growth induced by the cuts).

Fundraising winners and losers for the quarter
Excerpt: Money matters massively in politics. You knew that already, didn't you? But the numbers tell a story every time, and so it's worth looking at them every time. Like it or hate it, how much cash a candidate can collect in the run-up to an election is a good -- though far from perfect -- indicator of success at the ballot box. Money buys television ads and direct-mail appeals and helps candidates and their campaigns hone voter lists to ensure every available supporter turns out when Election Day rolls around. And so, when candidates for federal office reported their contributions and expenditures for the past three months late last week, the Fix put on our green accountant visor -- doesn't everyone have one of those lying around? -- grabbed our calculator and began tabulating those who won and those who lost over the most recent quarter of fundraising.

As Massachusetts health 'reform' goes, so could go Obamacare
Excerpt: If you want a preview of President Obama's health-care "reform," take a look at Massachusetts. In 2006, it enacted a "reform" that became a model for Obama. What's happened since isn't encouraging. The state did the easy part: expanding state-subsidized insurance coverage. It evaded the hard part: controlling costs and ensuring that spending improves people's health. Unfortunately, Obama has done the same. Like Obama, Massachusetts requires most individuals to have health insurance (the "individual mandate"). To aid middle-class families too well-off to qualify for Medicaid -- government insurance for the poor -- the state subsidizes insurance for people with incomes up to three times the federal poverty line (about $66,000 in 2008 for a family of four). Together, the mandate and subsidies have raised insurance coverage from 87.5 percent of the non-elderly population in 2006 to 95.2 percent in the fall of 2009, report Sharon Long and Karen Stockley of the Urban Institute. People have more access to treatment, though changes are small. In 2006, 87 percent of the non-elderly had a "usual source of care," presumably a doctor or clinic, Long and Stockley note in the journal Health Affairs. By 2009, that was 89.9 percent. In 2006, 70.9 percent received "preventive care"; in 2009, that was 77.7 percent. Out-of-pocket costs were less burdensome. But much didn't change. Emergency rooms remain as crowded as ever; about a third of the non-elderly go at least once a year, and half their visits involve "non-emergency conditions." As for improvements in health, most probably lie in the future. "Many of the uninsured were young and healthy," writes Long. Their "expected gains in health status" would be mostly long-term. Finally -- and most important -- health costs continue to soar.

The failed-state conundrum
Excerpt: "What happened in Kampala is just the beginning!" So warned Abu Zubeyr, the leader of al-Shabab, which claimed responsibility for the bombings in the Ugandan capital that killed more than 70 people who had gathered to watch the World Cup soccer finals. In the bombings' wake, al-Shabab has drawn renewed attention for its murky links to al-Qaeda, and analysts once again are warning that failed states are a mortal threat to American national security. In fact, the case of Somalia and al-Shabab proves precisely the opposite. That Somalia is a failed state is beyond dispute. Foreign Policy magazine just published its annual Failed States Index, and for the third year running Somalia ranks No. 1. Somalia has had no functioning government since 1992, longer than probably any other present-day state. This is a tragic situation, but U.S. policymakers seem convinced it's also one that poses a grave danger to American national interests. "Dealing with such fractured or failing states is, in many ways, the main security challenge of our time," Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said. Hillary Clinton has voiced strong support for this view. When Condoleezza Rice was secretary of state, she used to call failed states the worst threat to American security, as did a host of scholars, U.N. officials and pundits. The chief exhibit for this far-reaching claim was, of course, Afghanistan, which descended into chaos in the 1990s and became a staging ground for al-Qaeda as it prepared to attack America. But Afghanistan's story is a bit more complicated. The Taliban came to power there with support from the Pakistani military, which had long supported radical Islamists. The group also received private and public support from Saudi Arabia, which viewed it as a convenient dumping ground, far from home, for its radicals. Today there are very few al-Qaeda members in Afghanistan -- 60 to 100, says CIA head Leon Panetta -- and al-Qaeda operates out of Pakistan. As scholar Ken Menkhaus has pointed out, global terrorism seems to profit less from failed states and more from weak ones, such as Pakistan, where some element of the regime is assisting the terrorists. After all, many drastically failed states (Burma, Congo, Haiti) pose no global terrorist threat.

President Haters
Excerpt: Two weeks ago, the White House informed the state of Oklahoma that it could expect no federal aid to help deal with the damage caused by recent flooding. There was no explanation, no expression of sympathy, no offer of alternatives. Last week, it was revealed that NASA's new mission will be centered on making Muslims "feel good" about their scientific achievements of roughly a millennium in the past. This comes right on the heels of the cancellation of the Constellation program, which employed tens of thousands and promised to put the U.S. back into space in a big way. At roughly the same time, J. Christian Adams, a former Department of Justice attorney, revealed that the voter harassment case against the New Black Panthers had been dropped for purely racist reasons, and that the word had come down to "never bring another lawsuit against a black or other national minority, no matter what they do. While this doesn't match killer baboons, it'll do until Obama gets his pack trained. Consider these actions. If anyone during the 2008 elections had implied, or even speculated, that Obama was capable of anything of the sort, he'd have been dismissed as a demagogue, a hater, even a lunatic. But today, after his abandonment of the state of Tennessee (also wracked by flooding); his betrayal of the Georgians; his pulling the rug out from under the Poles and Czechs; his dragging and cold response to the Gulf blowout; and his insults to the U.K., the GOP, the Supreme Court, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Dalai Lama, it scarcely raises a shrug. That's Obama. That's how he acts -- with arrogance, superciliousness, and indifference. We can search the entire roster of American presidents, and we will not find a match. This is not the behavior of an elected chief executive; it's the conduct of a divine right monarch, and a pretty inadequate one as well. Conduct of this sort inevitably produces a reaction -- contempt from equals and hatred from victims. Obama has created a lot of victims in eighteen months of power, and that reaction has been growing. In plain fact, Obama is on his way to becoming the most hated president of the modern epoch. More so than Roosevelt, more so than Nixon, more so than Bush -- keep in mind that W. was truly hated only by the hard left. With steady and unrelenting pressure over a period of six years, the left did succeed in planting doubts and discomfort in the country as a whole...but never extending to actual hatred.

Breaking: Phil Jones got to endorse papers for Oxburgh inquiry
Excerpt: Previously I have said this about the lack of integrity regarding the recent Climategate investigations: The investigations thus far are much like having a trial with judge, jury, reporters, spectators, and defendant, but no plaintiff. The plaintiff is locked outside the courtroom sitting in the hall hollering and hoping the jury hears some of what he has to say. Is it any wonder the verdicts keep coming up “not guilty”? Now from Bishop Hill we learn that it appears that the Oxburgh investigation let Dr. Phil Jones endorse what evidence (papers he’s published) to review. (If they were stock traders, the SEC would have them all in jail for inside trading. And, they didn't even bother to hide it well. This is beyond shameful, it's insulting. Ron P.)

Navy laser roasts incoming drones in mid-air
Buck would be proud. Excerpt: A video released at the biannual aerospace convention in Farnborough, UK, today, shows a laser mounted on a warship's gun turret obliterating a remotely piloted drone. Built by Raytheon Missile Systems of Tuscon, Arizona, the 32-kilowatt infrared laser is shown illuminating and heating the wingtip and then the underside of what looks like a radar-seeking drone – until its remote pilot loses control and the aircraft catches fire and plummets into the ocean. "Three similar drones were also successfully engaged at militarily significant distances by the solid-state laser" in May and June, says Mike Booen, the firm's vice president. "It's a world first over open sea."

Mass. may join effort to bypass Electoral College
Wait until the national vote goes to a Republican, and the 12 (soon 11) Mass electoral votes put him over, though the people of the Commonwealth voted for the Democrat. Do the votes go before or after a recount as would have been needed in 1960? Excerpt: The state Legislature is poised to give final approval this week to a new law intended to bypass the Electoral College system and ensure that the winner of the presidential election is determined by the national popular vote. Both the [Mass] House and Senate have approved the National Popular Vote bill. Final enactment votes are needed in both chambers, however, before the bill goes to the governor's desk, the Globe reported last week. Governor Deval Patrick's press office didn't immediately return a message this morning seeking comment on whether he would sign the bill, if it makes its way to his desk. Under the proposed law, all 12 of the state's electoral votes would be awarded to the candidate who receives the most votes nationally. Supporters are waging a state-by-state campaign to try to get such bills enacted. Once states possessing a majority of the electoral votes (or 270 of 538) have enacted the laws, the candidate winning the most votes nationally would be assured a majority of the Electoral College votes, no matter how the other states vote and how their electoral votes are distributed.

Puerto Rico, Guam Kneecap Gulf Coast
Actually, I think they are Us Citizens. Excerpt: In a stunning turn of events late last week, a five-vote bloc of U.S. “non-voting” territorial delegates were the deciding votes blocking an amendment to kill the Obama administration’s moratorium on offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) offered an amendment in the House Natural Resources Committee markup of the CLEAR Act that would have banned the moratorium that has already been thrown out twice by a U.S. federal court. The Obama administration has ignored the court orders issuing an additional ban. The moratorium is currently wreaking havoc on the Gulf Coast economy. The CLEAR Act is another of the myriad energy bills Democrats seek to ram through Congress as a result of the oil spill aftermath that have little to do with the spill and everything to do with their faux green energy power grab. Cassidy’s amendment was killed by the “non-voting” members of the U.S. territories who have been granted the right to vote by the majority in any committee on which they serve. These delegates represent territories of the United States whose constituencies are not U.S. citizens: Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands. Natives of these territories pay no U.S. federal income taxes. In 2007, Democrats granted these delegates the ability to vote on amendments on the floor of the House with the concession that the vote will be done over if their votes are the deciding factor.

Gitmo, Free Markets and Red Tape
Excerpt: “The Obama administration would quickly send home six Algerians held at the military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but for one problem: The men don’t want to go,” reported the July 10 edition of The Washington Post. “Given the choice between repatriation and incarceration, the men choose Gitmo, according to their lawyers.” This is amusing, in part simply because it reminds us that the controversial detention center remains open. After all, in one of his first actions as president, Barack Obama had declared it would be closed by January 2010. Moreover, there’s no sign it will ever close. But it’s downright hilarious because of the way candidate Obama described the facility when on the stump in 2008. Guantanamo represented a “sad chapter in American history,” he opined. It was “a legal black hole” and “a false choice between fighting terrorism and respecting habeas corpus.” Obama wasn’t alone. During the Bush years, the words “Guantanamo Bay” were a verbal talisman. They could be deployed at any time to wound a sitting president, and the speaker never had to explain why Gitmo was bad or what he’d do to replace it. The idea that Guantanamo might be a decent place, that detainees might actually prefer American custody to being repatriated, never seemed to come up. Yet that’s the reality, and the joke’s on the president.

At reunion in St. Petersburg, 'Donut Dollies' Red Cross workers swap Vietnam War stories
Excerpt: They were at the cusp of change — women's liberation, civil rights and a walk on the moon. And in an era when a youthful president challenged a generation to national service, 627 young women answered a call to boost the morale of American GIs in Vietnam. Clad in light blue uniforms and armed with jokes and games, these representatives of the American Red Cross — nicknamed "Donut Dollies" — brought a touch of home to war-weary troops half a world away. "We were the cheerleaders," said Ann Copeland Young of Brooksville, who landed in Vietnam in 1968. "We had to make everyone laugh."

Latino KKK says Whites Don't Belong in America Go Back To Europe
Yes, there is racism in America. Obama approved racism.

Pity the Postmodern Cultural Elite
Excerpt: I think most of our problems transcend politics, which is increasingly a reflection of an elite, insider culture that is completely at odds with the majority of the country that it oversees. So what is a cultural elite? It is a sloppy term that might include the academic class in the university that educates our children in college. The upper echelons that run government departments constitute part of this cultural elite. So does an entertainment cadre that oversees television and Hollywood. Corporate managers are elites as well. There is no racial, regional, religious, or tribal commonality. One shared allegiance perhaps is to higher education that certifies the cultural elite by diplomas of all sorts from a “good school,” as well as a respectable salary and a nice home with appurtenances. The good life of the elite is defined by both the absence of worry about necessities, and a certain status that accrues from properly recognized advanced education and sensitivity. How would we characterize the new aristocracy? In a number of ways. 1) Untruth. One requisite to being a cultural elite, unfortunately, is a certain allegiance to untruth, to saying one thing and doing another. Consider the manifestations of falsity from ecology to race. Often exempt from worry over a weekly check, and distanced from the mechanics of how things work, the elite clamors for a green cap-and-trade revolution. It rejects compromise with a fossil fuel near future that would transition us in a half-century or so to renewable energy. That said, it is hard to find cultural elites who live green lives. Most use their money at times to fly on jets or boat (like the president this weekend). As in the manner of the tastes of a John Edwards or Al Gore, the bigger and more impressive the home, the better to contemplate how lesser others use too much carbon-based power. Usually green sacrifice is to be made by coal miners, oil drillers, and timber men of politically incorrect industries — the distant horny-handed classes whose unmentioned work brings us instant convenience. On matters racial, it gets complicated since advocacy is one thing, living another. The cultural elite use “pull” to get their kids into college, money to live in a “good” neighborhood, and “networking” to marry and “place” like others from a good background. All that remains unspoken and rarely articulated. Why so? Because otherwise the logical ramifications of such a liberal belief system would be to live in the San Jose or Fresno mixed suburbs, to have their children school with the “other” at Cal State Stanislaus or Indiana State, and to marry their children to Rick Lopez or Tyrone Hiller to encourage “diversity.” (A nice reflection on what is a substantial fraction of the upper class of our society. It is an interesting (if somewhat less than encouraging) analysis of the psychology of the class of people who actually dominate much of our politics and upper level education, in fact, some of our basic education as well. We're back to the hypothesis that ample security and prosperity allow people to build their own reality, since they seldom or never have to deal with the harsher side of the real world. And once they get comfortable in that world, they resist strongly any intrusions into it by facts or ideas that run counter to their cherished worldview. What's most striking is that they will also strongly try to impose their reality on everyone else, and unfortunately, some of them wind up in positions where they can implement their ideas. I think we need to go to some electoral reform that will bring into Congress a serious fraction of people who have worked for a living using their hands to make things and their brains to solve problems. Or soldiers or cops who have come up from the ranks, have done the dirty jobs, and been face to face with harsh reality at its worst. Fat chance....—Del)

Muslim bus drivers refuse to let guide dogs on board
Excerpt: Blind passengers are being ordered off buses or refused taxi rides because Muslim drivers or passengers object to their 'unclean' guide dogs. One pensioner, a cancer sufferer, told how had twice been confronted by drivers and asked to get off the bus because of his guide dog, and had also faced hostility at a hospital and in a supermarket over the animal. The problem to carry guide dogs on religious grounds has become so widespread that the matter was raised in the House of Lords last week, prompting transport minister Norman Baker to warn that a religious objection was not a reason to eject a passenger with a well-behaved guide dog.

Riots in Dudley, Reports of Muslim Gangs Attacking People
Guess they didn’t get the memo.

(This song/video is supposedly causing an upset in the US. People (politicians) are wanting it banned, etc. The Bellamy's are on a bus tour right now in the states and are singing this on every stop and are getting ready to go overseas. This has caused quite the uprising. People (politicians) are saying it offends them...Guess the truth hurts!!!!!!!! Radio stations all over are playing this song and telling people to go toYouTube for the video. –DH)

1 comment:

  1. Sick folks will feel even sicker when they discover that under ObamaCare they will no longer visit their doctors - instead they will be "Tweeted" - SHOCKING STORY at:


    Peace! :-)