Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Political Digest for October 27, 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.
American Hero
Good ad for the election, nationwide. Please circulate.

Vietnam vet creates a billboard

Brass Oldies by Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: Classic songs from years past are sometimes referred to as "golden oldies." There are political fallacies that have been around for a long time as well. These might be called brass oldies. It certainly takes a lot of brass to keep repeating fallacies that were refuted long ago. One of these brass oldies is a phrase that has been a perennial favorite of the left, "tax cuts for the rich." How long ago was this refuted? More than 80 years ago, the "tax cuts for the rich" argument was refuted, both in theory and in practice, by Andrew Mellon, who was Secretary of the Treasury in the 1920s. When Mellon took office, there was a large national debt, the economy was stagnating, and tax rates were high, though the tax revenues were still not enough to cover government expenditures. What was Mellon's prescription for getting out of this mess? A series of major cuts in the tax rates! Then as now, there were people who failed to make the distinction between tax rates and tax revenues. Mellon said, "It seems difficult for some to understand that high rates of taxation do not necessarily mean large revenue for the Government, and that more revenue may often be obtained by lower rates." How can that be? Because taxpayers change their behavior according to what the tax rates are. When one of the Rockefellers died, Mellon discovered that his estate included $44 million in tax-exempt bonds, compared to $7 million in Standard Oil securities, even though Standard Oil was the source of the Rockefeller fortune…. Between 1921 and 1929, tax rates in the top brackets were cut from 73 percent to 24 percent. In other words, these were what the left likes to call "tax cuts for the rich." What happened to federal revenues from income taxes over this same span of time? Income tax revenues rose by more than 30 percent. What happened to the economy? Jobs increased, output rose, the unemployment rate fell and incomes rose. Because economic activity increased, the government received more income tax revenues. In short, these were tax cuts for the economy, even if the left likes to call them "tax cuts for the rich."…. President John F. Kennedy made the same argument in the 1960s -- and tax revenues increased after the tax rates were cut during his administration. The same thing happened under Ronald Reagan during the 1980s. And it happened again under George W. Bush, whose tax rate cuts are scheduled to expire next January. The rich actually paid more total taxes, and a higher percentage of all taxes, after the Bush tax rate cuts, because their incomes were rising with the rising economy. Do the people who keep repeating the catch phrase, "tax cuts for the rich" not know this? Or are they depending on your not knowing it?

Aide to Harry Reid Lied to Feds, Submitted False Documents About Sham Marriage
Excerpt: An aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid repeatedly lied to federal immigration and FBI agents and submitted false federal documents to the Department of Homeland Security to cover up her illegal seven-year marriage to a Lebanese national who was the subject of an Oklahoma City Joint Terror Task Force investigation, has learned. Diana Tejada, Reid’s Hispanic Press Secretary, admitted to receiving payment for “some of her expenses” in exchange for fraudulently marrying Bassam Mahmoud Tarhini in 2003, strictly so he could obtain permanent U.S. residency, according to court documents. Tarhini, now 37, was held in jail and at an immigration detention center in connection with his 2009 indictment on felony charges, documents show. He pleaded guilty to entering a fraudulent marriage to evade immigration laws — a Class D felony — in November 2009, and he was deported in March 2010.

In Nevada, it's can't live with Harry Reid and can't live without him
Unfortunate results of the Republican primary. The other two candidates were leading Reid in the polls. ~Bob. Excerpt: Reid attended the subdivision's groundbreaking in 2005. He even helped developer Gary Wells resolve permit problems that delayed construction. But he couldn't prevent the 2008 collapse of Silver State Bank, which dried up credit for Cottonwood Lake Homes and helped drive Wells into bankruptcy. "I just felt these guys were supposed to be watching our backs," Wells said of Reid and every other public official in Nevada and Washington. "Did he even know that Silver State Bank was in trouble? My God, why didn't he know?" Gritty and stoic, Reid embodies Nevada's paradoxical relationship with the federal government, a can't-live-with-him, can't-live without-him dilemma that has turned his quest for a fifth Senate term into the fight of his long career. Win or lose, most of Reid's elections have been decided by whisker-thin margins and his battle against tea party star Sharron Angle figures to be another. But the dynamics of this one are different. Never before has Nevada been so tired of Reid - and yet so dependent on him.

House and Senate shatter fundraising records for midterm election and may exceed $2 billion
Spreading the wealth around. Obama should be happy—a $2B stimulus for the economy, thanks mostly to his policies. ~Bob. Excerpt: House and Senate candidates have already shattered fundraising records for a midterm election and are on their way to surpassing $2 billion in spending for the first time, according to new campaign finance data. To put it another way: That's the equivalent of about $4 million for every congressional seat up for grabs this year. The frantic fundraising by candidates has largely been overshadowed in recent weeks by a tide of spending by outside interest groups, most of it targeting vulnerable Democrats. Such groups could spend $400 million or more by Nov. 2. But the latest Federal Election Commission data, along with a new study from a campaign watchdog group, show that most of the money sloshing around the 2010 elections is being raised and spent by the candidates themselves…. Some of the most striking increases are evident on the House Republican side, where a deep bench of competitive candidates could wrest control of the chamber from Democrats. Republicans have also raised more and spent less, giving them an even larger advantage in the last week of the campaign. Through the third quarter of 2008, Democratic House candidates had outraised their opponents by $64 million. This year, the balance has been reversed, with Republicans outraising Democrats by $30 million, according to the action fund's analysis, which is based on data from the Center for Responsive Politics.

Washington vs. Oregon
You don’t have to understand the role of incentives in economics to be a policymaker. In fact, it doesn’t help, because the things that get you votes are often the same things that create long-term economic pain. But by then, you are out of office, or can blame it on someone else, because the public doesn’t have a clue how economics works. ~Bob. Excerpt: In the battle to promote growth and job creation, Washington state is especially important this election year. While the Bill Gates family and government unions work together to impose a state income tax, the business community is bidding to bust the state monopoly over workers' compensation insurance. The fight is over ballot initiative I-1082, which would allow private insurers to compete in the market for insurance providing medical benefits and wage replacement to workers injured on the job. Many large Washington companies self insure, but others are required to buy this insurance from the state Department of Labor and Industries. Washington is one of four states that retains a monopoly, with predictable results. The average worker in Washington with a time-loss claim misses 270 days of work, twice the national average. Nearby Oregon, which privatized workers' comp long ago, averages 70 days. Washington's rate of awarding lifetime pensions for workers it deems permanently disabled is also the highest in the nation. In 2007 and 2008, Washington pensioned 3,600 workers. Oregon pensioned 24. The Olympia agency's administrative costs continue to balloon, up 82% in 10 years. There's more: Despite a 52% decrease in job injuries since 1990, Washington's insurance taxes have climbed 53% in 10 years. These premiums are borne by employers and employees, as Washington is the only state in which workers must still pay a portion of workers' comp premiums. Last year the Labor and Industries department hit the business community with a 7.6% premium increase, essentially a $117 million tax hike. Oregon hasn't raised its premiums in two decades and this year it returned $100 million to employers.

Hot air? White House takes credit for Bush-era wind farm jobs
Fox news? No, MSNBC—Modern Socialism’s National Broadcasting Center. ~Bob. Excerpt: The Obama administration is crediting its anti-recession stimulus plan with creating up to 50,000 jobs on dozens of wind farms, even though many of those wind farms were built before the stimulus money began to flow or even before President Barack Obama was inaugurated.

Good article: The best Congress money can buy?
Excerpt: IT IS fair to say that the Supreme Court of Chief Justice John Roberts is not extravagantly admired by Democrats. Of all its conservative rulings, the one they find most enraging as November’s mid-term elections approach is undoubtedly its 5-4 decision in January in the case of Citizens United. This held that since the first amendment tells Congress to make no law abridging the freedom of speech, previous legislation that barred companies, unions and other groups from paying directly for political advertisements during election campaigns was unconstitutional…. In other words: a pretty fair fight. Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution says that the Citizens United decision will no more determine the mid-terms than Mr Obama’s outspending of John McCain in 2008 swung the presidential race. That contest was determined by the fundamental politics (rejection of the Bush legacy, the charm of Mr Obama), as November’s will be (the jobless “recovery”, disappointment with Mr Obama). Bill Galston, also at Brookings, goes so far as to wonder whether the fuss about it might be a pre-emptive attempt to explain away a defeat. Politics in the United States is contaminated by money in many ways. But if the Democrats are hammered in November, it will not be because of the judicial activism of a conservative Supreme Court. It will be because they have done too few things that voters admire, and too many they do not like. To that extent at least, American democracy remains in rude health.

Look who's trying to buy the election
Excerpt: Just when we'd been told the Chamber of Commerce had bought the election, along comes the American Federation of State, Country and Municipal Employees to pour nearly $90 million into the campaign. According to The Wall Street Journal, this makes the public-sector union the biggest spender of all the outside groups. The National Education Association and the Service Employees International Union rank among the top five. Collectively, these three unions representing millions of public workers -- only the SEIU is majority private -- are devoting an estimated $170 million to an election Democrats insist that they are losing because of the nefarious influence of outside money. AFSCME is the ideal champion of a Democratic Party that is increasingly run by and for the public sector. At their most basic, the stakes of the 2010 election are whether government works for us, or we work for government. No one has a more direct political and financial stake in this question than AFSCME and its compatriots. Their bottom line depends on making us work for them -- for their ever-expanding ranks, for their salaries, for their benefits, for their pensions. And, ultimately, for their campaign coffers. The head of AFSCME's political operation, Larry Scanlon, explained to the Journal, "The more members coming in, the more dues coming in, the more money we have for politics." Q.E.D. In this sense, President Obama's signature economic initiative, the stimulus, contributed to AFSCME's extravagant campaign to save the officeholders who voted for the stimulus. More than $150 billion in stimulus and other federal funds flowed to the states to ensure that AFSCME members were spared layoffs from the recession, or from potential reforms to loosen the fiscal death grip unions have on states like California and New York.

Story of the Midterms, Told Through 5 Races
Excerpt: The House of Representatives increasingly looks as though it will shift significantly in favor of Republicans as campaigns head into the final week before Election Day. A growing number of analysts believe nearly 100 Democratic House seats are at least somewhat competitive, and Republicans need to win 39 of those to gain control of the chamber—assuming they hang on to their current seats. A handful of Republicans in the House also are considered to be vulnerable. "Let me tell you something," Vice President Joe Biden wrote Monday in a message on behalf of Democratic House candidates. "I've been around campaigns for a long time and I have never seen a midterm election with this many races in play." Republicans appear poised to pick up the biggest concentration of seats in the industrial states of the Midwest, along with Pennsylvania. Democrats captured numerous swing districts in these states in 2006 and 2008, and Republicans are favored to take a good number of them back this time. As many as 21 Democratic incumbents from this area of the country face tough challenges, in part because many of their states have been hit especially hard by the economic downturn. In states with early voting, Democrats are turning out more strongly than initially predicted, in what could be one good sign from the party. Even so, few strategist believe Democrats will retain their House majority. Whatever the final results, this has been an unusually volatile campaign season. Here are five races that suggest the scope and type of change this election may bring to the House.

Labor holds nose, backs former foes
Why? Because as I keep preaching, the vote to organize, deciding which party controls the committees and the flow of business, is the most important vote a legislator casts every two years. RINOs vote to put conservative Republicans in charge. Blue Dog conservative Democrats vote to put liberals in control. Conservatives aren’t the only ones dreaming of ‘No More RINOs.” That’s the dream of Barack Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, because it keeps them in power. They will probably have liberal control of the senate for two years, thanks to the defeat of the RINOs. It will be a great irony if the Tea Party saves the Obama agenda by keeping the senate in liberal hands. ~Bob. Excerpt: Big Labor’s big threat to punish misbehaving Democrats has largely evaporated in the heat of the midterms, as unions now scramble to rescue incumbents they once pilloried for opposing health care reform. It’s a bitter, but necessary, political pill, considering that would-be Speaker John Boehner, the top Republican in the House, has threatened to roll back many of the pro-union policies of President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees — on pace to spend a record-shattering $90 million on the midterms — has begun a phone-banking, door-knocking, leafleting and get-out-the-vote effort for a handful of conservative Democratic House members the 1.6 million-member union once blackballed. The must-save list now includes former pariahs such as Maryland’s Frank Kratovil Jr., Colorado’s Betsy Markey, who voted no on the first House health care vote, and even Zack Space of Ohio, whose opposition to health reform prompted the Service Employees International Union and the Communications Workers of American to start a website urging members to oppose Space in the general election, is getting help. Unions are also making direct cash contributions to other health care dissenters, including Reps. Heath Shuler and Larry Kissell, both of North Carolina. “We’re at a situation now where it’s the 218 strategy in the House: If you don’t have the gavel, if you don’t have 218, you are in serious doo-doo,” says Larry Scanlon, political director of AFSCME, which recently took out a $2 million loan to cover election expenses. “The situation is, will you support a mediocre Democrat, [or] will you let a rabid Republican get in?” he said. “For us, it’s a no-brainer. ... Once you get back into session, we’re going to be trying to move people on votes. But right now, we’re all about getting people elected.”

America Is Gone
Excerpt: There is a whiff of anarchy in the air this morning. As I sit here writing, a conservative victory in the midterm elections looms. But I find no reason to be optimistic. The midterm elections will solve nothing. The plain fact is that conservatives have lost the battle for America. The country that many of us were born in has ceased to exist. And we have no one to blame but ourselves. Nothing can or will change until we come to terms with the grim reality of moral degeneration. And I have no hope that this can happen, save by some terrible trial. Last week in Oklahoma City, two pedestrians were run down by cars at the same intersection within a few hours. In one incident, the driver did not bother to stop, but continued driving as if nothing had happened. It was a horrific but perfect metaphor for the self-absorbed entitlement mentality that grips the country. Every day, the news brings a startling new incident of moral corruption. A few days ago it was reported that an eighteen-year-old geology student at Arizona State University had starred in an online pornographic film in which she performed "explicit and degrading" sex acts for a one-time payment of $2,000. The young woman explained that she needed the money to supplement her scholarship, and then inexplicably proclaimed, "I have morals!"… Children are not as smart as their parents. The average child today spends thirteen hours watching television for every hour he spends reading. We blame teachers and schools for failing to educate our children. But what can they do with undeveloped and undisciplined minds that expect to be entertained and rebel at the labor of thought? The decline in intellectual aptitude is so dramatic that the authors of the SAT test have had to add a hundred points to the combined math and verbal score just to make current averages equal of those of a generation ago. (Rather my view, though I cite different reasons in my longer piece, “The Coming Collapse of the American Republic,” linked below. I think the entitlement state cannot be fiscally maintained nor politically rebuked, and given the pressures of radical Islamic supremacism, illegal immigration, and the rise of China, we cannot deal with it before a complete fiscal collapse overwhelms us. But the softness and self-centeredness of America bodes ill for survival. Think Rome. I’m supporting conservative candidates not because it will save America, but because it will slow the drift into the socialist collapse. And who knows—some game-changer might appear. ~Bob.)
The Coming Collapse of the American Republic

The Curse of the Welfare State
Excerpt: What we see happening in France and across Europe are the devastating effects of the welfare state. We see a citizenry whose work ethic, morals, power of reason, and grasp on reality have been grievously damaged. They balk at hard work, yet they want to enjoy lives of plenty and ease. Their governments are bankrupt, but they still keep demanding benefits that are impossible to deliver. And while they refuse to engage in hard labor themselves, they see nothing wrong with living at someone else's expense. The welfare state -- once the pride and glory of European democracies -- has become a curse. This sad situation should have not come as a surprise. The outcome was predictable, given what we know about human nature and the workings of government. More than two hundred years ago, John Adams warned of welfarism's pernicious effects: Like a cancer; it eats faster and faster every hour. The revenue creates pensioners, and the pensioners urge for more revenue. The people grow less steady, spirited and virtuous, the seekers more numerous and more corrupt, and every day increases the circles of their dependents and expectants, until virtue, integrity, public spirit, simplicity and frugality become the objects of ridicule and scorn, and vanity, luxury, foppery, selfishness, meanness, and downright venality swallow up the whole of society.

FBI: Man Applied to Army to Join Enemy
Didn’t get the “Islam is a Religion of Peace” memo. ~Bob. Excerpt: A New York City-born man was ordered to return from Hawaii where he was arrested on charges he tried to join the U.S. military at a Times Square recruiting station so he could he could be deployed to Iraq, desert and fight with anti-American insurgency forces. Abdel Hameed Shehadeh, 21, was charged with making false statements in the midst of a New York-based terrorism investigation, authorities said Monday. A U.S. Department of Justice news release said Shehadeh was arrested Friday in Honolulu. A judge there ordered him on Monday to return to Brooklyn to face charges. It was unclear when he would appear in a New York court.

G.O.P. Senate Odds Slip on Colorado, West Virginia Polls
Democrat running as anti-Obama seems to be working in WV. ~Bob. Excerpt: While Republicans’ position is holding steady in the House — where they are 4:1 favorites to win control of the chamber according to our analysis — their chances of also taking over the Senate declined in today’s forecast. Those chances are now 16 percent, down from 19 percent in our forecast over the weekend. The modest decline in the Republicans’ chances today is a result of new polling in two states. The first is Colorado, where two new polls, from Public Policy Polling and SurveyUSA, each show the exact same result, with the Republican, Ken Buck, and the Democrat, Michael Bennet, tied at 47 percent each. Colorado had appeared to slightly favor Mr. Buck for most of the cycle, with his winning chances peaking at 79 percent in our Sept. 30 update. Since then, however, he has endured some decline after a series of minor gaffes, with polls suggesting that Mr. Bennet may have improved his standing among female voters. We now project Colorado’s Senate race to be the closest in the country — slightly closer than others like Nevada or West Virginia. Mr. Buck is now an 0.4-point favorite, according to the model, and his chances of winning are 54 percent. The other significant move today is in West Virginia, and it is toward the Democrat, Joe Manchin, as a Public Policy Polling survey gives him a 6-point lead over Republican John Raese.

Heresy and the creation of monsters
Excerpt: I’m having another “Alice down the rabbit hole” moment, in response to the Scientific American article, the explication of the article by its author Michael Lemonick, Scientific American’s survey on whether I am a dupe or a peacemaker, and the numerous discussions in blogosphere. My first such moment was in 2005 in response to the media attention associated with the hurricane wars, which was described in a Q&A with Keith Kloor at collide-a-scape. While I really want to make this blog about the science and not about personalities (and especially not about me), this article deserves a response. The title of the article itself is rather astonishing. The Wikipedia defines heresy as: “Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma.” The definition of dogma is “Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, ideology or any kind of organization: it is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from.” Use of the word “heretic” by Lemonick implies general acceptance by the “insiders” of the IPCC as dogma. If the IPCC is dogma, then count me in as a heretic. The story should not be about me, but about how and why the IPCC became dogma. And what exactly is the nature of my challenges to the dogma? Lemonick made the following statement: ““What I found out is that when [Curry] does raise valid points, they’re often points the climate-science community already agrees with — and many climate scientists are scratching their heads at the implication that she’s uncovered some dark secret.” This statement implies that I am saying nothing new, nothing that climate scientists don’t already know. Well that is mostly true (an exception being my recent blog series on uncertainty); I am mostly saying things that are blindingly obvious to everyone. Sort of like in the story “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” (A few days ago, TOJ covered a profile of Judith Curry that appeared in Scientific American and the next day, a defense of her at WUWT by Dr. Pielke, Sr. While I said at the time "it (the SA article)is fairer than (I) expected," that didn't mean it was either fair or kind because it was neither. Unfortunately, Dr. Curry is now learning the price of blasphemy. All religions try to protect themselves, especially from internal change; global warming is no different. This is Dr. Curry's courageous response. Being an honest scientist, she expects reason to work. I think she'll be disappointed. The high priests of AGW will accept nothing less than 100% conformity to the approved dogma, which do not allow for questioning. That's one of the things I dislike about the AGW crowd. Ron P.)

ALIPAC Rebukes Democratic Leadership Reversing Endorsements in NC and GA
Excerpt: Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC) is reversing two endorsements in highly contested congressional districts today, to rebuke the national Democratic leadership for promising Amnesty to illegal immigrants, deploying illegal aliens as election workers, and enticing illegals to vote in the 2010 elections. ALIPAC is rescinding their endorsement of Congressman Mike McIntyre (D-NC-7), originally made in 2008, and transferring that endorsement to Ilario Pantano the Republican challenger who has promised to stand up for the enforcement of America's existing border and immigration laws, instead of any form of Amnesty for illegal immigrants. ALIPAC believes Pantano will be more aggressive about securing America's borders. ALIPAC is also transferring their endorsement of Democratic Congressman Jim Marshall (D-GA- to Republican challenger Austin Scott. Scott voted as a state legislator to pass some of the first strong state laws against illegal immigration in Georgia before the new Arizona law took center stage. Congressman Marshall voted against defunding sanctuary cities. Many Americans have lost their lives due to sanctuary city policies!

Seeking Proof in Near-Death Claims
Excerpt: Some investigators say the most remarkable thing about near-death reports is that the core elements are the same, among people of all cultures, races, religions and age groups, including children as young as 3 years old. In his new book, "Evidence of the Afterlife," Jeffrey Long, a radiation oncologist in Louisiana, analyzes 613 cases reported on the website of his Near Death Research Foundation and concludes there is only one plausible explanation: "that people have survived death and traveled to another dimension." Skeptics say there is no way to verify such anecdotal reports—and that many of the experiences can be explained by neurobiological changes in the brain as people die. In the 1980s, British neuroscientist Susan Blackmore theorized that oxygen deprivation was to blame and noted that fighter pilots also encountered tunnel vision and hallucinations at high altitudes and speeds. This year, a study of 52 cardiac-arrest patients in Slovenia, published in the Journal of Critical Care, found that the 21% who had near-death experiences also had high blood levels of carbon dioxide, which has been associated with visions, bright lights and out-of-body experiences. A study of seven dying patients at George Washington University Medical Center, published in the Journal of Palliative Medicine, noted that their brainwaves showed a spurt of electrical activity just before they were pronounced dead. Lead investigator Lakhmir Chawla, an intensive-care physician, notes that the activity started in one part of the brain and spread in a cascade and theorized that it could give patients vivid mental sensations.

Obama relegates Republicans "to the back of the bus."
If a Tea Party activist had said this, the media would be screaming about Racist Republicans for weeks. ~Bob. Excerpt: We'll make a prediction here and now: If Republicans win like most polls are projecting they will do so next Tuesday they will spend the next two years being attacked by Barack Obama. He's already started. While he claims he wants to work together for the good of the country, he has spent the last two weeks demeaning and castigating Republicans at every chance he's gotten. But today (10-25-10) it reached a new low. He used a racially charged pejorative that no other national leaders would ever be able to get by with as far as the Elite Media is concerned. He said: "Republicans had driven the economy into a ditch and then stood by and criticized while Democrats pulled it out. Now that progress has been made, he said, "we can't have special interests sitting shotgun. We gotta have middle class families up in front. We don't mind the Republicans joining us. They can come for the ride, but they gotta sit in back." And this is how he plans to get cooperation from the victors?

How America Can Stand By Arizona
Excerpt: I knew Arizona’s SB 1070 would be controversial when I introduced it, but I did not expect the national immigration debate to revolve around a state law. While the anti-American open borders Left attacks me and the law as “racist,” “nativist” and their other empty pejoratives, the vast majority of the people of Arizona and America support the law. Naturally, politicians of both parties on the state and local level are trying to jump on the bandwagon as the election approaches. On the state level, dozens of gubernatorial and attorney general candidates are campaigning to enact SB 1070 style legislation. Even Democrats like Georgia’s Roy Barnes say they’d sign such a bill. Of course a politician’s promise isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. Even if they would in fact sign the bill, they must also pledge to fight the Obama administration and its far left buddies like the ACLU and Mexican American Legal Defense Fund who are sure to file lawsuits and do whatever they can to block implementation of the law.

The crusade against cars
Excerpt: As an automotive writer, I’m always driving a new car, even in the confines of Boston. In between the Versas and Volkswagens, that means commanding powerful machinery: luxury sedans with more than 380 horsepower, convertibles shoehorned with massive V-8s and rude exhausts, and even a supercharged 2½-ton Range Rover painted in metallic grape soda. Save for weekend trips with my girlfriend and her golden retriever, I drive alone, most times without any destination. Did you know a Ferrari California will go through an entire tank of high-test in less than 24 hours? Or that there are two ways to start the 11-mile-per-gallon Mercedes SL63? I ought to be fined. Perhaps we should all be limited to 100 horsepower and 14-inch tires, lest everyone start driving for pleasure’s sake. That would be irresponsible. “Social responsibility” is the media topic du jour, the latest feel-good narcissism of those leading government, corporations, and other big-mouth organizations. Part of the idea is to give an appearance of top-down restraint – that it’s not OK for the CEO to upgrade his Gulfstream V while downsizing his company. In the auto world, social responsibility comes with good intentions – tougher federal fuel economy mandates, tighter emission controls – but for car lovers like me, it’s a sucker punch in the face.

War of Attrition Against Regulators Needed
Excerpt: However, the method for reversing the federal intrusion and excessive regulation in our lives and business is not obvious. To attempt it without control of the executive branch just compounds the difficulty. And yet, if the public elects a Republican majority in one or both houses, they must immediately put their collective shoulders to the cause of reversing federal intrusion. Between 1978 and the late 1990s, under four presidents, real legislative efforts were taken to reduce by statute some regulations. For example, the 1978 Airline Deregulation Act removed governmental regulation of fares, market entry and routes. But these rifle-shot deregulation statutes -- which took massive bipartisan and bicameral support over several years -- have still left the United States over all far more regulated and intruded upon than we were 30 years ago. (...) But the greater part of federal intrusion is generated by the permanent regulatory bureaucracy that burrows away in almost all our federal agencies. Sometimes, they are authorized by Congress to create and enforce regulations (like the incandescent light law). But over the generations, the culture that exists amongst the regulatory bureaucrats drives them to constantly seek out new targets for regulation and new methods for entangling Americans in their webs. I experienced it firsthand when I was deputy assistant secretary of education in 1982 under President Reagan. Our 'crats conspired with congressional staffers, members and lobbyists to try to foist excessive regulations against the policy of Reagan's administration. The 'crats even organized hundreds of protesters to encircle the Department headquarters in Washington to support their willful opposition to official Reagan governmental policy. (Yes! Hang the beancounters first! Ron P.)

SEIU targets blacks because they are "persuadable."
The SEIU couldn’t be more racist if they tried. ~Bob. Excerpt: One paragraph in a story about a Chicago politician teaming up with the SEIU to get out the vote on November 2nd says a lot about the SEIU and its views of African Americans. It is one thing for the SEIU to send in paid (and unpaid) operatives to get people out to vote, it is quite another for them to target a race because they are more “persuadable” than others. On Election Day they [the SEIU] will dispatch 4,000 workers — 2,000 paid operatives and 2,000 volunteers — to juice up turnout on Chicago’s South and West sides and in the south suburbs. The effort mirrors a sweeping national Democratic push to energize black voters. Why do the Democrats’ last hopes hinge on the black vote? For better or worse, African Americans remain staunch Obama defenders. The SEIU funded polling research showing that, given the anti-Democratic mood, other voting blocs were not “persuadable.”

Congressional Report: Obamacare Costs America Nearly 800,000 Jobs
Excerpt: Today brings us the latest report from Senators Coburn and Barrasso, the two Republican physicians who’ve been doggedly following up on all the things we were promised about Obamacare, particularly the ones that have already turned out to be flat-out lies (”The gall!” shrieks a Democrat Hill staffer). Much of the report is based on combining the findings of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and news reports following up with people who’ve already felt the law’s impact. Central to this issue: the impact of the legislation on America’s unemployment picture. Remember when Nancy Pelosi promised the health care bill would create four million jobs — “400,000 of them almost immediately?”

Sen. Coburn: GOP should repeatedly attempt to repeal health reform
Excerpt: Senate Republicans should repeatedly offer bills to repeal health reform even if it's in vain, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla) said Tuesday. Coburn acknowledged efforts to repeal the legislation, or even defund it, were unlikely to be successful as long as President Obama is in the White House, but said making repeated efforts to dismantle the legislation is the best political strategy for the GOP. "I think the best strategy is to call for a repeal bill and pass that bill," Coburn told a group of conservative bloggers. "And if you can't pass it the first time, then offer it again the next month, and offer it again the next month." Republicans have publicly wrestled with how they might follow through with their pledge to repeal the healthcare bill Obama signed into law earlier this year. The GOP is poised to make major gains in Nov. 2's elections and is in position to win back the House and possibly the Senate. Retiring Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), who's the top GOP member in the Senate Budget Committee, said last week that repealing the bill wasn't realistic and that Republicans should focus on retooling the new reform law instead.

The Coming Political Tsunami
From former Democrat mayor on NYC. ~Bob. Excerpt: For the last six months in various public forums, I have said that Republicans will take both the House and Senate. Most political observers, citing statistics from various states, continue to say that, while it appears certain that the House will go Republican, there are too few Senate seats in play for a Republican takeover. Why would intelligent voters leave the Democratic Party that they endorsed so heavily two years ago in the 2008 presidential election? The reason is obvious — deep, deep disappointment in the record of President Obama. The President has wasted many opportunities in his term to date, and has lost by his own admission almost every battle for the hearts and minds of the electorate in pushing through Congress monumental legislation that he signed into law. Why did the President and Congress insist on reinventing the wheel when it came to health care coverage? Weren't there prototypes in Europe and elsewhere developed and used for more than 50 years with proven track records that could have been used as models? Did the President and Congress have to terrify people who had insurance coverage in order to provide coverage for the additional 32 million Americans covered under the new law? Couldn't those without insurance have been attached in some way to the Medicaid rolls? Why did the President and Congress sell out to the prescription drug companies and strip Medicare of the right to negotiate volume discount purchases that could have saved U.S. taxpayers more than a trillion dollars over ten years? What rankles most for many, including me, is why have there been so few criminal prosecutions of those who are responsible for having brought the U.S. economy to its knees, destroyed the nation's prosperity and caused millions of Americans to lose their homes, their jobs and a substantial portion of their retirement savings? Why when looking at Obama's cabinet and advisers, do we see the faces of those who many hold responsible for the economic debacle?

White House Adviser: US Must Prepare for Asteroid
Excerpt: If an asteroid were on a collision course with Earth, would we be ready to defend against its destructive impact or would we be helpless and defenseless? NASA, America's space agency, is being charged with leading the way to protect not only the U.S. but the entire world in the event of such a horrifying scenario. And a top White House science adviser says we have to be prepared. In separate 10-page letters to the House Committee on Science and Technology and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, or OSTP, outlines plans for "(A) protecting the United States from a near-Earth object that is expected to collide with Earth; and (B) implementing a deflection campaign, in consultation with international bodies, should one be necessary." While Holdren indicates that no large asteroid or comet presents an immediate hazard to our planet, the fact that devastating impacts have occurred on Earth in the distant past is enough to warrant safety precautions for the future. "Indeed, a steady stream of these objects enters the Earth's atmosphere on a daily basis, consisting mostly of dust-sized particles and estimated to total some 50 to 150 tons each day," Holdren wrote. As remote as it may seem that Earth could be the target of a giant rock from space, nevertheless, Holdren insists that "the possibility of a future collision involving a more hazardous object should not be ignored." (Perhaps this summer's near miss of only 25,000 miles got someone's attention. TOJ has mentioned this possibility several times, mostly in conjunction with complaining about the near reduction to zero of the manned-space programs. We can only "own" space if we have a continuing physical presence there. Most of the impact damage of a planet-killer is a result of the object's speed (5 to 50 miles per second, much faster than a bullet). Depending on how far away a planet-killer (any object greater than 500 meters) is detected, and how far away we can act on it to change its course, that determines how large an object we can safely influence away. It would NOT be safe to simply blow it up and leave the debris on course. If it rifles in like a bullet, the damage would be from heat transfer upon atmospheric entry (slight because of the speed) and impact shock and heat (huge). If it hits like a shotgun blast instead, almost all the energy would be transferred to the atmosphere during entry, and we'd still fry. If we have only a few hours notice, we may not be able to do much with objects greater than a hundred meters or so. If we could intercept weeks or months earlier, we might be able to safely influence objects as large as several kilometers. If we had years, we could probably move planetary-sized objects. Although nukes are probably everyone's first thought, we may be able to use such simple things as black or white paint to make the object heat unevenly and wobble into a different orbit. Several fine novels have used this premise, notably Lucifer's Hammer by Niven & Pournelle and The Earth is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein. There are also some plausible simulations on the History Channel. Ron P. Preparation involves sacrifice. Democrats are running ads against opponents with geezers like me saying, “Keep your hands off my Social security” because the Republican suggested raising the age for future retires. Forget it. ~Bob.)

Pakistan: Police break up Mass held in front of chapel seized by Muslims
Excerpt: Imagine the reaction if they had disrupted Muslim prayers on any legal pretext…. The situation remains tense between Christians and local authorities in Rawalpindi (Punjab) over the illegal occupation of the Christian chapel of Gordon College, a Presbyterian Church University. Yesterday, the police stopped the celebration of a Mass organized by the Protestant community in front of the chapel. To prevent the gathering local authorities applied law 144 / c, which bans any gathering of more than two individuals. More than 20 police trucks arrived on site, dispersing the crowd. On 19 October, a group of 20 armed men occupied the chapel and have barricaded themselves inside. These are Muslim faithful who have the backing of the local government with false documents claiming ownership of the building.

Religious demands rise in French state schools: study
Support separation of Mosque and State—fight creeping Shari’a. ~Bob. Excerpt: Muslim pupils and parents in France are increasingly making religious demands on the state school system that teachers should rebuff by explaining the country's secular principles, according to an official report. The High Council for Integration (HCI) reported growing problems with pupils of immigrant backgrounds who object to courses about the Holocaust, the Crusades or evolution, demand halal meals and "reject French culture and its values." "It is becoming difficult for teachers to resist religious pressures," said the report, published in draft form by the newspaper Journal du Dimanche over the weekend. The final report will be presented to the government next month. "We should now reaffirm secularism and train teachers how to deal with specific problems linked to the respect for this principle," it said. France's strict separation of church and state relegates religion to the private sphere, an approach challenged by a growing Islamic identity among some of the five million Muslims in the country's 65 million population.

Bomb kills 5 people at Sufi shrine in Pakistan
Didn’t get the memo. Note that most of the people murdered by Islamic extremists are fellow Muslims. ~Bob. Excerpt: A bomb planted on a motorcycle exploded at the gate of a famous Sufi shrine in central Pakistan during morning prayers Monday, killing at least five people, officials said. The blast at the Farid Shakar Ganj shrine in Punjab province was the latest in a string of attacks targeting Sufi sites in Pakistan. Islamist militants often target Sufis, whose mystical practices clash with their hardline interpretation of Islam.

They that will not be counseled, cannot be helped. If you do not hear reason she will rap you on the knuckles. – Benjamin Franklin

SIGTARP Report: Treasury Hid AIG Losses
Well, Gaither knows how to avoid taxes. ~Bob. Excerpt: Need to hide $40b in losses from view? You can, in one easy step — just change the accounting methodology, and like magic, you can make the loss disappear! “The United States Treasury concealed $40 billion in likely taxpayer losses on the bailout of the American International Group earlier this month, when it abandoned its usual method for valuing investments, according to a report by the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program . . .In early October, the Treasury issued a report predicting that the taxpayers would ultimately lose just $5 billion on their investment in A.I.G., a remarkable outcome, since the insurance company was extended $182 billion in taxpayer money in the early months of its rescue. The prediction of a modest loss, widely reported as A.I.G., the Federal Reserve and the Treasury rushed to complete an exit plan, contrasted with an earlier prediction by the Treasury that the taxpayers would lose $45 billion.” This is my favorite part of the article: “[SIGTARP Inspector Neil] Barofsky said he had written to the Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, in mid-October, after widespread reports in the news media about the possibility that the Treasury could wind down its position in A.I.G. with just a $5 billion loss. He recommended that the Treasury correct the October report, perhaps by adding a footnote saying the methodology for calculating its losses had changed. The Treasury declined. It sent back a letter saying its methodology for calculating losses had not really changed, although its assumptions had . . . “

TARP: Obama's black hole at Treasury
Excerpt: A new report from Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program in the Treasury Department, says it all: Americans have "entirely legitimate concerns about the lack of transparency, program mismanagement and flawed decision-making processes that continue to plague the program." Under President Obama and his Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, the department's management of TARP has made a mockery of the Freedom of Information Act, even as the program has clearly failed to accomplish its stated purposes. Barofsky cites numerous failed TARP goals, including increasing lending, alleviating unemployment and preserving home-ownership against the foreclosure meltdown. With those failures, the public's confidence in Treasury's ability to repair the economy is sinking faster than the dollar against foreign currencies.

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