Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Political Digest August 4, 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.

Conservative Cook Book
A fellow Vietnam vet sent me Tax Bites & Tasty Morsels. The recipes are great, the commentary is terrific, and the website is great too. Enjoy.

Powerful cartoon
This guy is good.

Martin Frost, Tom Davis say House majority is in play this fall
Excerpt: Former Reps. Tom Davis (R-Va.) and Martin Frost (D-Texas) -- both of whom chaired their party's respective campaign committees -- agreed that the House majority is in play although they disagreed about likely Republican pickups in a joint appearance on the ABC/Washington Post "Topline" program today. Davis, the former Virginia Congressman who led the National Republican Congressional Committee in the 2000 and 2002 election cycles, predicted Republicans would win 50 seats while Frost, the Democratic Congressional Committee Chairman in 1996 and 1998, said a 30-seat loss was in order for his party but added that larger losses were possible. The two most influential congressional handicappers largely agree with the two former Members' analysis. The Cook Political Report currently projects a pick-up of 32 to 42 seats for Republicans in the House; the Rothenberg Political Report predicts that Republicans are likely to pick up 25 to 33 House seats. Republicans need a 39-seat gain this fall to take back control of the House. The last time that many seats changed hands was in 1994 when Republicans won 53 Democratic-held districts. In 2006, Democrats netted 30 seats.

Obama vs the Congressional Black Caucus?
Excerpt: President Obama's relationship with members of the Congressional Black Caucus is being tested over a series of high-profile incidents, the latest of which is the ethics investigation into New York Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel. On Friday, Obama told CBS News that he believed it was time for Rangel to end his career "with dignity", adding: "I think Charlie Rangel served a very long time and served his constituents very well, but these allegations are very troubling." A Politico story quoted a person close to Rangel saying that the congressman "doesn't give a damn about what the president thinks about this." And New York Gov. David Paterson, who is black and whose father came up in New York politics with Rangel, seemed to offer a thinly veiled criticism of Obama in a radio interview over the weekend. Paterson said he was "especially surprised when people from our own community" jump to conclusions before all the facts have been aired "because we've been the greatest victim of it for centuries." (Worth noting: The White House discouraged Paterson from a reelection bid last year.) According to sources familiar with the CBC, Obama's comments were seen as an unnecessary piling-on of Rangel who is facing allegations that he broke 13 House rules and the prospect of a trial this fall. (Another member of the CBC -- Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) -- will also face a congressional trial on ethics allegations this fall.) "The CBC has a very protective attitude toward CBC members who face ethics troubles," said Alabama Democratic Rep. Artur Davis, who is black. Davis added that several CBC members were unhappy with comments he made about Rangel recently. Some CBC members believe the organization "should observe some code of silence" when it comes to ethics charges against their membership, Davis said. While the Rangel back-and-forth dominated the headlines over the weekend, it is only the latest example of the CBC and the Obama Administration not seeing entirely eye to eye of late. (Translation of Paterson’s remarks: Blacks should give blacks a pass on ethics due to race. ~Bob)

Is a VAT the Answer?
This will not increase taxes for just those making more than $250k as Obama pledged to the voters. When a VAT drives up the cost of everything, what happens to the economy and jobs? Excerpt: All over the developed world, countries are facing an extremely unpleasant budgetary reality: Per capita health care spending is growing at twice the rate of growth of per capita income. Couple the fact that government promises of health care for the elderly are almost everywhere unfunded with the fact that pension promises are mostly unfunded and that aging populations mean an ever-increasing number of retirees per worker, and just about every first world country is projecting a fiscal nightmare. So what is the answer? The Obama administration has made it about as clear as it is going to get that after the fall election its solution to trillion dollar deficits is going to be a value-added tax (VAT). But is that a good idea? Expected Tax Rates. Economist Laurence Kotlikoff and his colleagues have estimated what tax rates will have to be if we stay on the present course and try to fund excess government spending with a VAT, a payroll tax or some other form of a consumption tax. As Figure I shows: In the United States, the average tax on wage income will rise from 40.6 percent today (a 15.3 percent payroll tax plus a 15 percent income tax plus state and local taxes) to 55 percent by 2030 and 62.1 percent by midcentury. If Europe follows the same path, the average tax on wage income will rise from 60.1 percent today to 72.5 percent in 2030 and 79.3 percent by 2050. And note that these are average tax rates. Marginal rates will have to be even higher

Millions spent on doctor 'gagging orders' by NHS, investigation finds
Coming soon to a healthcare system treating you. Excerpt: Hospital doctors who quit their jobs are being routinely forced to sign "gagging orders" despite legislation designed to protect NHS whistleblowers, it is revealed today. Millions of pounds of taxpayers' money are being spent on contracts that deter doctors from speaking out about incompetence and mistakes in patient care. Nearly 90 per cent of severance agreements hammered out between NHS trusts and departing doctors contain confidentiality clauses.

Green Investment Failure
Whenever a liberal gets a great idea to save the world, it comes out of the hides of the average working folks. Excerpt: Building “green” is all the rage in Portland. Eco-roofs and solar panels have become routine, and now the goal is for “net-zero” buildings that consume less energy or water than they produce. However, while the idea is green, expect red. The City of Portland’s last attempt to promote net-zero construction ended in a subsidized spending spree. In 2005, the Green Investment Fund was established as a competitive grant program, awarding money for five years to spur green building. Enormous government subsidies were required for most grantees. DaVinci Arts Middle School, the only project actually to achieve net-zero energy, was realized because of $500,000 in community-donated services. The June Key Delta House, a proposed net-zero community center, received over $400,000 in PDC grants and loans. The Blanchet House of Hospitality, also hoping for net-zero energy, is enabled by a PDC $2 million grant and land swap. Other subsidized Green Fund projects failed miserably. Construction never began on the million-dollar Shizen condominiums or the Kenton Living Building, both net-zero energy contenders. Now the City wants to build the Oregon Sustainability Center, a $90 million high-rise near Portland State University. The proposed net-zero building would require $80 million in University bond revenue, $6 million from the City, and various other subsidies. Yet even then, the rents would be the most expensive of any office building in the state. Going “green” takes green. The city should learn from the experience of the Green Investment Fund before it commits taxpayer money to a new “sustainability” center.

The Economic Case Against the Death Tax
Abstract: 2010 is the only year since 1916 in which heirs to an estate will not have to pay the dreaded death tax. Victory for small businesses? Not yet—due to a legal quirk, the death tax is scheduled to come back to life in 2011. Studies, statistics, and real life have shown again and again that the businesses and families burdened with the death tax often see themselves forced to cut back on benefits, investments, and employees. The death tax keeps new jobs from being created, hurting not just the affected businesses, but the economy as a whole. Because it is a tax on capital, the death tax destroys as many as 1.5 million jobs that the economy needs as it struggles to recover. Heritage Foundation tax policy expert Curtis Dubay details a replacement for the death tax, and explains why Congress must kill the death tax—now.

Drunk illegal alien, awaiting deportation kills nun in Va.
Excerpt: On Sunday, Prince William County police arrested Carlos A. Martinelly Montano, 23, after he slammed head on into a car in which three Benedictine nuns were traveling. Sister Denise Mosier was killed instantly, her two companions were taken by helicopter to the hospital where they both remain in critical condition. Montano was charged with DUI and involuntary manslaughter. This is actually Montano’s third DUI arrest in Prince William County over the last five years. At the time of the crash, the illegal alien was free on bond while awaiting deportation proceedings. Montano is currently being held without bond at the Prince William-Manassas regional jail. A list of a of few Montano’s offenses follows: (This is an outrage! How do they know he was an undocumented worker unless they profiled him and asked for proof of citizenship? It is exactly to keep people like this poor immigrant on the roads and driving that the Obama administration has taken such a strong stand in Arizona. I’m sure if it was a family member of yours who died, you’d understand the need not to profile!)

WikiLeaks must be stopped
Excerpt: Let's be clear: WikiLeaks is not a news organization; it is a criminal enterprise. Its reason for existence is to obtain classified national security information and disseminate it as widely as possible -- including to the United States' enemies. These actions are likely a violation of the Espionage Act, and they arguably constitute material support for terrorism. The Web site must be shut down and prevented from releasing more documents -- and its leadership brought to justice. WikiLeaks' founder, Julian Assange, proudly claims to have exposed more classified information than all the rest of the world press combined. He recently told the New Yorker he understands that innocent people may be hurt by his disclosures ("collateral damage" he called them) and that WikiLeaks might get "blood on our hands." Beyond getting people killed, WikiLeaks' actions make it less likely that Afghans and foreign intelligence services (whose reports WikiLeaks also exposed) will cooperate with the United States in the future. And, as former CIA director Mike Hayden has pointed out, the disclosures are a gift to adversary intelligence services, and they will place a chill on intelligence sharing within the United States government. The harm to our national security is immeasurable and irreparable. And WikiLeaks is preparing to do more damage. Assange claims to be in possession of 15,000 even more sensitive documents, which he is reportedly preparing to release. On Sunday, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told ABC News that Assange had a "moral culpability" for the harm he has caused. Well, the Obama administration has a moral responsibility to stop him from wreaking even more damage. (This is somewhat like what I wrote a week ago, but in more detail and better. I wonder if anybody in this Administration has the chops to do this. –Del No. ~Bob)

Medicare Reform Means Some Seniors Face Benefit Cuts
Excerpt: First, the good news: According to a report released by the White House on Monday, America's new health reform law will generate $575 billion in Medicare cost savings over the next decade, allowing the program to survive until 2029. The report says this will result in lower Medicare premiums of nearly $200 a year by 2018. Part of those savings, amounting to $5.3 billion by 2011, will come from reduced "overpayments" to Medicare Advantage, a system that allows Medicare recipients to receive benefits via private health insurance providers. The savings associated with Medicare Advantage efficiencies will rise to $145 billion by 2019. Now for the bad news: Seniors enrolled in Medicare Advantage may soon find that their benefits have been cut. Under changes contained within America's new health reform law, reduced payments to private insurers may lead to a reduction in benefits such as dental coverage and free eyeglasses. That could trigger an exodus from Medicare Advantage plans back to traditional fee-for-service Medicare, though at much higher costs.

Video you might want to see
Haven’t seen yet, but the trailer looks good.

Arizona and the Pottery Barn-rule
Excerpt: What happened last week to the Arizona illegal immigration law is a clear indication that in these serious times America has an un-serious President… as if we needed more proof. U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton has acquiesced to the Obama Administration’s pleading and issued an injunction preventing implementation of the Arizona law. What’s likely to happen next? To those who feel that Judge Bolton’s decision is a sure disaster I say, “Yes, it will be a disaster. But, let’s slow down and see if we can find a ‘bright side’ to any of this.” And, you know, there just may be. Barack Obama may have given the people of Arizona an insurance policy. A few years ago regarding Iraq policy someone warned George W. Bush of the Pottery Barn-Rule; “You break it, you own it.” By telling the people of Arizona, "Relax. I'll take care of it" the President has taken ownership of the illegal immigration issue and of all the collateral problems that result from it. Okay, Mr. President, you’re in charge. From here on out, if anything breaks you get the bill. That includes shootings, kidnapping and headless bodies found in the desert.

Fertility's New Legal Front
Excerpt: Every year, more babies are born stemming from sperm or embryos that have been stored for months or years. In some cases, one parent has already died, usually the father. Although the federal government generally must pay monthly benefits to children when parents die, the law is murky on whether it has to do the same for a child conceived after a parent's death. Sometimes, the Social Security Administration pays, sometimes it doesn't. So far, the decision has largely depended on the laws in the state in which the deceased parent lived. "We're in a brave new world here.…Technology has gone far beyond where the law ever dreamed it would," said Sonny Miller, a lawyer in Minnesota and a member of the legislative committee of the Minnesota bar association's probate and trust law section. State laws on posthumous birth—or the birth of a child after the death of a parent—vary widely. Eleven states explicitly allow recognition of a parent-child relationship that begins with posthumous conception. (Entitlement from beyond the grave? Sounds like the title of a bad movie. Ron P.)

High seas segregation
Excerpt: Fifty-six years after the Supreme Court struck down the concept of "separate but equal" treatment of races, the U.S. Navy is erecting a wall of segregation between what will amount to two parallel promotion systems: one for the "diverse" and another for the monotone. If this isn't illegal, it should be. (Apparently the Navy is intent on making the color of a sailor's skin, or his/her ethnic background, more of a factor in the promotion process than leadership skills. Can the Corps be far behind? --Master Guns)

NOAA to Issue Updated Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook
Excerpt: Here’s the last NOAA release on hurricane season: NOAA Expects Busy Atlantic Hurricane Season from May 27, 2010. Now an update is coming. Still busy? We’ll see. (...) NOAA will update the Atlantic hurricane season outlook this Thursday and provide the latest information on the climate factors behind the outlook, including the role of ENSO (La Niña/El Niño) in the tropical eastern Pacific. This scheduled update coincides with the approaching historical peak of the hurricane season. (On July 21st, I sent an email to some friends pointing out NOAA's forecast (linked in the article below) was more than just a little bit off. At that time, my point was that predicting weather or climate was neither easy nor straight-forward, and the farther out the prediction, the less likely that it would be correct. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina (11th letter) came ashore in Louisiana at the beginning of August. I notice "Colin" (3rd letter) has only become a Tropical Storm within the last 24 hours. Does anyone wish to offer odds on how accurate the "new & improved" hurricane season outlook will be? Ron P.)

Response to Fallen Soldiers' Families Denied Cash as Insurers Profit
Bob, my "un-named well-placed source" in the insurance industry had some very interesting points to make. She asked that they be paraphrased so they cannot be traced back as she has no authority to speak for the company or the industry, and doing so would subject her to severe disciplinary action by both company and industry ethics enforcement groups. There are also a few points I discovered on my own that are worth mentioning first (numbered 1 through 4). You may use this or not as you see fit, but this information may give some perspective to those who saw the original story. I'm a little surprised Bloomberg, being a financial sector publication, didn't provide any context to begin with.
1. All insurers view the person owning and paying for the policy as their customer. The payee (beneficiary) who gets the death benefit is not the customer. The payee is designated by the customer, as are the terms of the policy, in agreement with the insurer. The payee merely collects the money if the customer incurs a loss.
2. When a loss occurs, the payee must provide satisfactory proof of the loss (various forms), and await approval before the insurer pays out the benefit.
3. Some insurers pay benefits in a lump sum by check, some by a draft account (this is becoming the industry "best practice" because it is most convenient for most customers and allows the company to also profit from continuing to have the short-term--but, not long term--use of the money).
4. I googled up Prudential Life Insurance + Draft Account. The link following is what I found. It is to the claim form and instructions for filing the claim and brief instructions on how to use the draft account (Alliance Account). See page 4 (top of the page) of 7 pages for terms of the Alliance Account at this link (the link was put up in 2007):

From the un-named source:
Most people are aware insurers are not banks. It is unlikely the woman in the article wasn't told the money was being held by the company rather than a bank. Grief can impact someone's memory. The woman in the article received her draft book within two weeks of the loss. That is an incredibly quick approval time. While the draft accounts aren't covered by FDIC, the insurers are regulated by the SEC. Even if the money was in a bank covered by the FDIC, it would only be covered up to $100,000 (with "temporary coverage" extended to $250,000 for the duration of the current financial emergency). While many major banks have gone broke and been taken over by FDIC in the past two years, only one major insurer, AIG, has had serious trouble, and it was bailed out. Had the money been in a bank that went bust, a large portion of it (whatever was NOT covered by FDIC, conceivably $150,000) would have simply vanished, irretrievably. The interest paid on the account actually is competitive with what would be paid by most banks for similar accounts. (Note: almost no banks pay interest on checking accounts. In the states where they are legal, Negotiable Order to Withdraw accounts--which are actually savings, not checking, accounts--do pay about that much interest. [I checked a local MA credit union, it was at 0.6% per year, but required a minimum balance of $5,000 to get it.] Keep in mind, the insurer must stand ready to pay this entire lump sum on a moment's notice--so this money cannot be invested in long term items.) In the process of filling out the paperwork to file the claim, the payee would have had to see--though no one would have forced him or her to read--the instructions for using the drafts (checks). The instructions specify the payee may write a single check for the entire balance. The VA person who tried to help the woman in the article clearly didn't have up to date information. This prevented the giving of sound advice, and may in fact, have led her astray. What should have happened is the woman in the article should have found a financial planner to give her advice. It is not the insurer's responsibility to do this, and far more people would be angry at the "pushy insurance salesmen" trying to get her to "invest in something" than seem to have problems with the current system. Somehow, the whole thing looks different when you ask someone who is familiar with the industry. --Ron P.)

Video Montage of the SB 1070 rallies!
Meanwhile, the administration thinks the Tea Party is dangerous.

Anti-White, Anti--American, Anti-Arizona SB 1070 protesters desecrate the American Flag
If you did this to a Mexican Flag, you’d be lucky if all they did was call you racist.

US Terror Map

Judge Gives Virginia OK to Press On With Health Care Lawsuit Against Feds
Excerpt: The state of Virginia can continue its lawsuit to stop the nation's new health care law from taking effect, a federal judge ruled Monday. U.S. District Court Judge Henry Hudson said he is allowing the suit against the U.S. government to proceed, saying no court has ever ruled on whether it's constitutional to require Americans to purchase a product. "While this case raises a host of complex constitutional issues, all seem to distill to the single question of whether or not Congress has the power to regulate -- and tax -- a citizen's decision not to participate in interstate commerce," Hudson wrote in a 32-page decision. "Given the presence of some authority arguably supporting the theory underlying each side's position, this court cannot conclude at this stage that the complaint fails to state a cause of action," he wrote. The decision is a small step, but in no way a minor matter to opponents of the health care bill rejected by all congressional Republicans but signed into law by President Obama earlier this year. "This lawsuit is not about health care, it's about our freedom and about standing up and calling on the federal government to follow the ultimate law of the land -- the Constitution," said Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who brought the suit. "The government cannot draft an unwilling citizen into commerce just so it can regulate him under the Commerce Clause."

Cross-border killings make small Texan town edgy
Excerpt: Despite its name, Ft Hancock would rather not see itself as a watchful frontier garrison. "We have all kinds of races and religions, right here on the border," says farmer Gail Carr, tucking into breakfast at Angie's Diner, where locals congregate several times a day. "It is a border culture... and we're happy with it." But that culture, along this stretch of the Mexican border, east of El Paso, is being tested by horrific events taking place on the other side. "We just wish they weren't killing so many people on the other side to where we have to worry about security like this," says Mr Carr. Barely two miles from this sleepy Texan town, its Mexican neighbour, Porvenir, is being torn apart by drug-related violence. Gruesome murders are taking place throughout the valley towards Juarez. Earlier this year, one drug cartel warned the people of Porvenir to leave town or face the consequences.

Worth Reading: Arizona, Borderlands and U.S.-Mexican Relations
Excerpt: Arizona’s new law on illegal immigration went into effect last week, albeit severely limited by a federal court ruling. The U.S. Supreme Court undoubtedly will settle the matter, which may also trigger federal regulations. However that turns out, the entire issue cannot simply be seen as an internal American legal matter. More broadly, it forms part of the relations between the United States and Mexico, two sovereign nation-states whose internal dynamics and interests are leading them into an era of increasing tension. Arizona and the entire immigration issue have to be viewed in this broader context. Until the Mexican-American War, it was not clear whether the dominant power in North America would have its capital in Washington or Mexico City. Mexico was the older society with a substantially larger military. The United States, having been founded east of the Appalachian Mountains, had been a weak and vulnerable country. At its founding, it lacked strategic depth and adequate north-south transportation routes. The ability of one colony to support another in the event of war was limited. More important, the United States had the most vulnerable of economies: It was heavily dependent on maritime exports and lacked a navy able to protect its sea-lanes against more powerful European powers like England and Spain. The War of 1812 showed the deep weakness of the United States. By contrast, Mexico had greater strategic depth and less dependence on exports. The American solution to this strategic weakness was to expand the United States west of the Appalachians, first into the Northwest Territory ceded to the United States by the United Kingdom and then into the Louisiana Purchase, which Thomas Jefferson ordered bought from France. These two territories gave the United States both strategic depth and a new economic foundation. The regions could support agriculture that produced more than the farmers could consume. Using the Ohio-Missouri-Mississippi river system, products could be shipped south to New Orleans. New Orleans was the farthest point south to which flat-bottomed barges from the north could go, and the farthest inland that oceangoing ships could travel. New Orleans became the single most strategic point in North America. Whoever controlled it controlled the agricultural system developing between the Appalachians and the Rockies. During the War of 1812, the British tried to seize New Orleans, but forces led by Andrew Jackson defeated them in a battle fought after the war itself was completed. Jackson understood the importance of New Orleans to the United States. He also understood that the main threat to New Orleans came from Mexico. The U.S.-Mexican border then stood on the Sabine River, which divides today’s Texas from Louisiana. It was about 200 miles from that border to New Orleans and, at its narrowest point, a little more than 100 miles from the Sabine to the Mississippi. Mexico therefore represented a fundamental threat to the United States. In response, Jackson authorized a covert operation under Sam Houston to foment an uprising among American settlers in the Mexican department of Texas with the aim of pushing Mexico farther west. With its larger army, a Mexican thrust to the Mississippi was not impossible — nor something the Mexicans would necessarily avoid, as the rising United States threatened Mexican national security. Mexico’s strategic problem was the geography south of the Rio Grande (known in Mexico as the Rio Bravo). This territory consisted of desert and mountains. Settling this area with large populations was impossible. Moving through it was difficult. As a result, Texas was very lightly settled with Mexicans, prompting Mexico initially to encourage Americans to settle there. Once a rising was fomented among the Americans, it took time and enormous effort to send a Mexican army into Texas. When it arrived, it was weary from the journey and short of supplies. The insurgents were defeated at the Alamo and Goliad, but as the Mexicans pushed their line east toward the Mississippi, they were defeated at San Jacinto, near present-day Houston. The creation of an independent Texas served American interests, relieving the threat to New Orleans and weakening Mexico. The final blow was delivered under President James K. Polk during the Mexican-American War, which (after the Gadsden Purchase) resulted in the modern U.S.-Mexican border. That war severely weakened both the Mexican army and Mexico City, which spent roughly the rest of the century stabilizing Mexico’s original political order.

Democrats Bite Democrats by Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: You expect Republican politicians to criticize Democratic administrations and vice versa. But when Democrats start criticizing Democratic administrations, that is news. Someone once said that the headline "Dog bites Man" is not news, but "Man bites Dog" is. We are now starting to get "Democrat bites Democrat" news. Long-time Democratic pollsters Patrick Caddell and Douglas Schoen last week took on one of President Barack Obama's most bitter betrayals of his campaign rhetoric and the high hopes of people who voted for him. Their op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal dealt with race, and it pulled no punches: "Rather than being a unifier, Mr. Obama has divided America on the basis of race, class and partisanship. Moreover, his cynical approach to governance has encouraged his allies to pursue a similar strategy of racially divisive politics on his behalf." Cynical? This man with the lofty rhetoric and sermonizing style? Only if you follow his deeds, instead of his words. Part of the polarization that Barack Obama has caused among the American public has been due to the fact that some people do not look behind rhetoric and symbolism. Such people are prime candidates to become part of the Obama cult. Those who look only at deeds tend to become critics. But those who closely follow both his words and his deeds are the most outraged of all, because of the gross contradictions between those words and those deeds. Caddell and Schoen go all the way back to Jeremiah Wright in tracing Barack Obama's actual track record when it comes to race. That Obama spent 20 years in the church of a man preaching racial hate should have told us all we needed to know.

'We will resume suicide attacks'
Excerpt: The Islamic Jihad organization said on Sunday that it has decided to resume suicide attacks against Israel from the West Bank. The threat came in response to attacks launched by IAF planes on the Gaza Strip following the firing of rockets on Israel in the past few days. The group, however, admitted that it has become very difficult to launch suicide attacks out of the West Bank because of security coordination between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. Islamic Jihad has only a few hundred followers in the West Bank. Members of the group have in the past carried out a number of suicide bombings in Israel.

Democrats declare swamp of corruption drained
Mission Accomplished say Speaker Yoda Pelosi. Excerpt: Democratic leaders say they've emptied the swamp of congressional corruption. Never mind the ethics trials to come for two longtime party members. "Drain the swamp we did, because this was a terrible place," Speaker Nancy Pelosi said last week of the Republican rule in the House that ended in January 2007. Pelosi's statement might seem odd, but it's an emerging strategy: Separate Democratic-initiated ethics reforms from the cases of Reps. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., and Maxine Waters, D-Calif. Pelosi needs a strategy because Republicans have been adept at jumping on the troubles of Rangel, the former House Ways and Means chairman, and Waters, a senior member of the Financial Services Committee.

Leftist "Historian" Howard Zinn Lied About Red Ties
Excerpt: The prominent "progressive" historian Howard Zinn, whose books are force-fed to young people on many college campuses, was not only a member of the Moscow-controlled and Soviet-funded Communist Party USA (CPUSA) but lied about it, according to an FBI file released on Friday. The file, consisting of three sections totaling 423 pages, was made available on the FBI's website and released in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from this writer. Zinn taught in the political science department of Boston University for 24 years, from 1964 to 1988, and has been a major influence on the modern-day "progressive" movement that backed Barack Obama for president. Although Zinn denied being a member of the CPUSA, the FBI file discloses that several reliable informants in the party identified Zinn as a member who attended party meetings as many as five times a week. What's more, one of the files reveals that a reliable informant provided a photograph of Zinn teaching a class on "Basic Marxism" at party headquarters in Brooklyn, New York, in 1951. A participant in the class said that Zinn taught that "the basic teaching of Marx and Lenin were sound and should be adhered to by those present." The FBI file also includes information on Zinn's pro-Castro activism and support for radical groups such as the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), Progressive Labor Party (PLP), Socialist Workers Party (SWP), and Black Panther Party. Much of the latter was in connection with Zinn's support for a communist military victory in Vietnam. His dealings with the Communist regime in Hanoi included a visit to the communist capital. (No surprise.)

Adaptation the best climate change policy
Excerpt: In 2010, although the media has dedicated much time and interest to both Labor and the Coalition's climate platforms, the issue itself is not an overriding priority for the broad cross-section of the electorate. The idea of paying substantially higher energy prices when the rest of the world is doing very little to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is hardly a voter winner, especially in those marginal seats where voters are mortgaged to the hilt. No wonder neither Julia Gillard nor Tony Abbott are campaigning on an economy-wide cap-and-trade scheme. Now, many environmentally conscious people slam both major parties for jettisoning plans to price carbon. But the politics is far more complicated. However much there may be a scientific consensus on man-made global warming, the fact remains no policy or global consensus exists. None whatsoever. Without these conditions, unilateral action to price carbon would inflict collateral damage on the Australian economy, in terms of higher energy prices, lost jobs and lower growth. (...) But the lack of policy consensus is important. Indeed, it is striking how many prominent warmists Al Gore, James Hansen and James Lovelock advocate quite different ways of going about things such as emissions trading, a carbon tax and nuclear energy which indicates less than unanimity among even the so-called alarmists. Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, among other US environmental lobby groups, oppose the ETS as an effective way of reducing greenhouse gases. Even the intellectual architects of cap and trade such as American professor Thomas Crocker have repudiated the concept of cap and trade, saying it rewards big polluters while failing to tame global warming. (...) There is, moreover, no global consensus on climate change. The Copenhagen fiasco merely reflected this reality and the next climate change circus in Mexico promises more of the same. A legally binding global agreement to reduce emissions, frankly, is a chimera, because different states have different interests. If Washington, where the Democrats control the White House and hold big majorities in the House and Senate, can't even legislate a tiny 4 per cent cut to emissions of 1990 levels by 2020 (with loads of loopholes and pork to the big polluters), why would trade competitors slash emissions unilaterally?

Many of Rangel's colleagues hanging on to his dirty money
Excerpt: At least 45 Democratic members of Congress -- including nine senators and 43 congressmen -- are hanging on to more than $303,000 in donations they received from embattled former House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., during the 2008 election cycle. Those 45 are in marked contrast to the 27 incumbent Democrats who earlier this year returned $378,000 in campaign donations from Rangel's political action committee, including nine who returned $165,000 but only after being asked about the funds by The Examiner. Rangel, who stepped down from the committee chairmanship in March, faces 13 complaints of ethical wrongdoing filed by the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct. He is accused of using his congressional authority to solicit donations and to enrich himself personally.

Ariz. sheriff: Report of $1M bounty on my head
On the plus side, this would divert money from Democrat campaign contributions. Probably BS—if they were going to kill him, why warn him? Excerpt : A sheriff in Arizona known for his anti-immigration policies says his office is investigating a report of a $1 million bounty on his head. A spokeswoman for Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio says the report was relayed by the FBI and by a caller who told Fox affiliate KSAZ-TV in Phoenix that the threat was from a Mexican drug cartel. Phoenix is the seat of Maricopa County. Lisa Allen says it wasn't known whether the threat actually came from a drug cartel but authorities believe it was made using a disposable cell phone in Mexico. Arpaio says it's not unusual for him to receive death threats as sheriff and an outspoken advocate of immigration enforcement.

Liberal Sophistry And The End of Freedom
Excerpt: During her confirmation hearings, Elena Kagan was asked whether the Congress has the authority to direct that citizens eat so many fruits and vegetables each day. She first dismissed the idea as a “dumb law” that would not be enforced. When pressed, she could not articulate a meaningful limit to the power of the Federal Government under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. Clearly she belongs to the school that holds that the Commerce Clause grants Congress plenary power to regulate anything that touches upon commerce between the States. This broad reading underlies much of the economic regulation of the New Deal, portions of Great Society civil rights laws and the recent health care “reform.” Yet this argument contains a potentially fatal flaw – “commerce between the States” is apparently a term without limits. It applies equally to one state attempting to tax goods imported from another state to the lunch counter owner who does not want to serve Jews or other “infidels” to your choice of health care provider. 9I think, when in power, the Republicans should pass a law requiring, under the commerce clause to protect commerce, all adult citizens without criminal or mental health records, to purchase and carry a firearm at all times. That would be every bit as “constitutional” as being required to buy health insurance. ~Bob)

GOP aides: Reid to punt on oil-spill legislation
Excerpt: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is going to yank consideration of legislation responding to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill for the summer without floor debate or votes this week, according to Democratic senators and Senate GOP aides. Reid has scheduled a press conference for 2:30 p.m. with fellow Democrats to discuss energy. Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) confirmed that Reid said the energy bill would wait; both said they assumed that also means the spill response. Senate Democratic leaders have proposed a strategy to address the Gulf spill and future spills that does away with liability limits for producers. Unlike a Republican alternative, the Democratic strategy does not try to scale back the administration's temporary offshore drilling ban or quicken revenue sharing for coastal-producing states.

Why did feds claim Kindle violates civil rights?
The statist environmentalists fighting with the statist disability crusaders. Reminds me of statist Nazis and Statist Communists killing each other in WWII. Excerpt: Did you know the Justice Department threatened several universities with legal action because they took part in an experimental program to allow students to use the Amazon Kindle for textbooks? Last year, the schools -- among them Princeton, Arizona State and Case Western Reserve -- wanted to know if e-book readers would be more convenient and less costly than traditional textbooks. The environmentally conscious educators also wanted to reduce the huge amount of paper students use to print files from their laptops. It seemed like a promising idea until the universities got a letter from the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, now under an aggressive new chief, Thomas Perez, telling them they were under investigation for possible violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Scientists Take Quantum Steps Toward Teleportation
Guess this would solve the oil problem. Excerpt: "Quantum entanglement" may sound like an awful sci-fi romance flick, but it's actually a phenomenon that physicists say may someday lead to the ability to teleport an object all the way across the galaxy instantly. It's not exactly the Star Trek version of teleportation, where an object disappears then reappears somewhere else. Rather, it "entangles" two different atoms so that one atom inherits the properties of another. "According to the quantum theory, everything vibrates," theoretical physicist Michio Kaku tells NPR's Guy Raz. Kaku is a frequent guest on the Science and Discovery channels. "When two electrons are placed close together, they vibrate in unison. When you separate them, that's when all the fireworks start." This is where quantum entanglement — sometimes described as "teleportation" — begins. "An invisible umbilical cord emerges connecting these two electrons. And you can separate them by as much as a galaxy if you want. Then, if you vibrate one of them, somehow on the other end of the galaxy the other electron knows that its partner is being jiggled." This process happens even faster than the speed of light, physicists say.

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