Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Political Digest for November 9, 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.

Beancounters and the Modern American Automobile
Guest Post.

They Who Eat Last
Thought this might be of interest after reading "Veteran Entitlement Mentality" by Greg Johnson. – MasterGuns. Excerpt: Anyone who has worn the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor knows the two-fold goal of Marine Corps leadership is 1) accomplish the mission; 2) welfare of the Marines. It is that simple, and it is that complex. To achieve the two-fold goal the Marine Corps teaches from a foundation of a complementary set of eleven principles and fourteen traits. There is nothing secretive, magical nor complex about them. Leading by them, through thought, word, and deed--in the best and worst of times, can be complex and will test the character but success is practically a given. Talk about them and act to the contrary and failure is guaranteed. That said, Marine officer leadership can be synthesized into three words--officers eat last.

The 'Golden State' Still Doesn't Get It
Well, Massachusetts went solidly Democrat and Illinois kept Blagojevich’s Lt. Gov. as Governor and a Democrat legislature. Personally, I think California is about two years away from Greece-France style riots, as every day there is less money and more people “entitled” to it. California, Illinois and Massachusetts through Romney-care have already hit the iceberg. Might be better not to have Republicans at the help as they go under. ~Bob. Excerpt: The midterm elections turned into a sweeping repudiation of the Democrats' failed status quo — except, that is, in California. There, not only did the Democrats not lose, they gained clout. Even as voters in other states said they'd had enough of ever bigger, more intrusive and higher-cost government by the Democrats, California voters said, "More please." With the exception of the governor's office, California has been a virtual one-party state since the 1960s. Now, thanks to decades of anti-business policies promulgated by a series of left-leaning legislatures, its economy and finances are a mess, and it's hemorrhaging jobs, businesses and productive entrepreneurs to other states.

Election Gives States Momentum to Defeat Obamacare
Excerpt: Yesterday’s election resulted in a resounding setback for Obamacare. The federal government takeover of Americans’ access to medical services will suffer significant setbacks in the new Congress. While Congress works towards repeal, states have to choose whether to enable or obstruct Obamacare, which will further pummel states’ fiscal situations. If Obamacare takes full effect in 2014, 16 to18 million more people will become dependent on Medicaid, the program for low-income Americans that is jointly financed by the federal and state governments. This influx will impose a huge burden on states’ finances. The law further requires increases to fees for Medicaid providers. Although the federal government promises to pay most of the money for this expansion, starting in 2014, it gradually drops as soon as 2016. The newly enlarged Medicaid will be so expensive that Ed Haislmaier of the Heritage Foundation and Dennis Smith (who used to run Medicaid’s federal office) have concluded that states’ best course of action under Obamacare is to quit Medicaid and give up federal matching dollars entirely. Newly elected governors and legislators will have to master the finances and politics of Medicaid quickly in order to make effective decisions over the next few years to head off this new Medicaid monster. Obamacare will also harm the health benefits that most working people currently enjoy. The legislation presumes that states will establish “exchanges” that would choose health insurance for many of their residents. These exchanges will devour federal subsidies. Official sources estimate that about half a trillion federal dollars will flow into Obamacare exchanges between 2014 and 2019, but these likely underestimate the true costs. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 24 million people will enter the exchanges in 2019, of which only 3 million will come from the 162 million who would have enjoyed employer-based benefits under the current system. The actual number will be far greater. Independent analysis concludes that anyone who earns less than $80,000 annually will be dumped into an exchange. Governors and legislators who collaborate by establishing exchanges will greatly weaken the effort to repeal Obamacare, and be forced to cough up tens of millions of dollars in annual administrative costs. Beyond the refusal to collaborate, governors and legislators can seize the initiative by passing the Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act, model legislation developed by the American Legislative Exchange Council. This resolution asserts the unconstitutionality of the federal government’s mandate that everyone buy health insurance. The measure has been proposed in 42 states, and enacted in statute form by Virginia, Idaho, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, and Missouri – where governors signed the bills to wide-ranging applause.

Rethinking Homeownership: A Framework for 21st Century Housing Finance Reform
Excerpt: The government-sponsored enterprises (GSE) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were significant contributors to the build-up of the housing bubble. Yet, virtually no substantive action has been taken to reform them. This delay, continuing a model that has been proven to be both bad business and problematic for the broader housing sector, is distorting the market and preventing a real recovery in housing. The GSEs must be reformed as soon as possible, as a part of a sweeping overhaul of the housing finance system. The main goal of reform should be remove the government from is role as financer and guarantor of the housing market. This will require a shift away from the mindset that promoting affordable housing is beneficial to individuals and families. With an economy and nation as dynamic as the United States, the government should not try to use policy to try and lower interest rates or encourage people to buy homes instead of doing other things with their money. The role of government should be to support a sustainable regulatory structure for the private sector financing of mortgages. Federal involvement in housing finance ultimately distorts the market by placing unnatural upward pressure on home prices and downward pressure on mortgage yields. This isn’t a stable system that benefits taxpayers in the long run. And a reformed housing finance regulatory structure should be used to align business and consumer interests more acutely, prevent fraud and ensure the market is a just field for competition.

Does ObamaCare Reduce Health Care Spending?
Excerpt: Yesterday, former Congressional Budget Office and Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag had a piece in The New York Times claiming that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 is an essential element to keeping future health care costs down. Worried that Republicans will make good on Election Night vows to repeal ObamaCare, Orszag's basic argument in summed up in his commentary's headline: "To Save Money, Save the Health Care Act." He writes: “Sure, the health care law is not perfect, but it would cut the nation’s long-term fiscal imbalance by a quarter and reduce the projected deficit within Medicare by three-quarters. That may seem fanciful, given how distorted the public discussion has become. But that’s what the projections show, as long as Congress sticks to its guns and the Obama administration does a good job carrying out the provisions of the law.” However, Orszag's article amounts to little more than wishful thinking. Using Congressional Budget Office (CBO) data, the chart below shows that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 have left the cost curve of federal healthcare spending virtually unchanged over the next 25 years.

Obama backs India bid for UN Security Council seat
Might ruffle some feathers in Pakistan! ~Bob. Excerpt: President Barack Obama on Monday backed India for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council, a dramatic diplomatic gesture to his hosts at the end of his first visit to this booming nation. Obama made the announcement in a speech to India's parliament on the third and final day of his stay. In doing so, he fulfilled what was perhaps India's dearest wish for Obama's trip here. India has sought permanent Security Council membership for years. "The just and sustainable international order that America seeks includes a United Nations that is efficient, effective, credible and legitimate," Obama said. "That is why I can say today - in the years ahead, I look forward to a reformed U.N. Security Council that includes India as a permanent member." The announcement brought the loudest applause of Obama's speech. But it does not mean that India will join the five permanent Security Council members anytime soon. The U.S. is backing India's membership only in the context of unspecified reforms to the council that could take years to bring about.

McConnell has eye on blocking health reform through de-funding the measure
Excerpt: Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) says he is looking for ways to de-fund the implementation of the sweeping healthcare reform Congress passed earlier this year. “What we’re doing in my office is looking for the various parts of it that are subject to funding. And we will be revising this issue time after time. The American people expect us to.” But McConnell and other Republicans acknowledge it will be difficult to repeal the bill with new legislation before 2013. “It will be difficult with him in the White House,” McConnell said, referring to President Obama, during an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation”. “But if we can put a full repeal on his desk and replace it with the kind of common-sense forms that we were advocating during the debate to reduce spending, we owe it to the American people to do that.” Republicans would need 67 votes in the Senate and two-thirds of the House to override Obama’s veto of any bill repealing or limiting his healthcare initiative. Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.), the incoming chairman of the House Budget Committee, said repeal of the law would not be possible before 2013. “You can’t fully repeal and replace it until you have a new president and a better Senate; and that’s probably in 2013, but that’s before the law fully kicks in in 2014,” he said during an interview on Fox News Sunday.

Being Stupid about Prices
Excerpt: Why does health care in the United States cost more than it does in other developed countries? In 2003, Gerald Anderson, Uwe Reinhardt and two coauthors gave their answer in a classic Health Affairs article, “It’s the Prices, Stupid.” The argument: Even though Americans make fewer trips to the doctor, spend fewer days in the hospital, take fewer pills, etc., the prices we pay are higher than the prices people pay in other countries — making the total amount we spend also higher. This idea was revived the other day by Alec MacGillis who wrote in The Washington Post that the great failure of health reform was the failure to control the prices we pay for health care services. Chris Flemming at the Health Affairs blog also chimed in, reminding everyone that Bruce Vladeck and Thomas Rice reiterated the argument last year in Health Affairs. Now although I like Gerald and Uwe and Bruce and Tom, and have great respect for all of them, I’m sorry to say that they are wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong. (That’s wrong six times over.) In particular: 1. Prices are a completely unreliable guide to the social cost of health care in all developed countries. 2. The real social cost of health care is reflected instead in the opportunity cost of the resources used. 3. When comparing real resource use, it is not obvious that the United States is spending more than other developed countries; we may be spending less. 4. Although the state can use its monopsony (buying) power to suppress provider prices, this behavior only shifts costs from one group of citizens to another; it does not lower the real social cost of health care. Although squeezing provider prices may have a level effect on the amount payers spend, it appears to have no effect on the rate of growth of spending over time. 5. The real problem (and the implied solution) is completely different: Prices appear to be reasonably controlled in every health care market when providers compete for patients based on price; prices are a problem only when third parties are paying them. 6. As my colleagues and I pointed out in our international survey of health care systems, the market for health care has been so completely suppressed throughout the developed world that participants in it almost never face a real price for anything.

U.S. deploying drones in Yemen to hunt for Al-Qaeda, has yet to fire missiles
Obama may be a leftie, but he seems to get that a successful terrorist attack here will hurt him in 2012. ~Bob. Excerpt: The United States has deployed Predator drones to hunt for al-Qaeda operatives in Yemen for the first time in years but has not fired missiles from the unmanned aircraft because it lacks solid intelligence on the insurgents' whereabouts, senior U.S. officials said. The use of the drones is part of a campaign against an al-Qaeda branch that has claimed responsibility for near-miss attacks on U.S. targets that could have had catastrophic results, including the recent plot to place parcels packed with explosives on cargo planes.

House Democrats could have same leadership team despite 60-seat loss
Excerpt: Republicans, thinking that the election was a rejection of Pelosi's liberal agenda, are ecstatic about the prospect of her leadership team remaining intact. "I don't think there is any question that this says to the voters, 'We're not listening to you. We think we're right and we're going to continue the same path,' " Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who will take the majority leader post in January, said on "Fox News Sunday."

Health-care law likely to remain intact under divided Congress, at least for now
Excerpt: Can Republican lawmakers repeal the law? Chances are slim to nil, at least through 2012. Although Republicans have regained control of the House, they will remain in the minority in the Senate. So it's unlikely that Congress could pass a repeal bill. But even if that were to change, as long as President Obama remains in office, it's a safe bet that he would veto such a measure.

Time to Tackle Right to Work
Pretty strong here in Crook County, IL, too. ~Bob. Excerpt: Almost one in five members of organized labor lives in the five rust belt states: Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Labor unions poured an enormous amount of money into the 2010 midterm elections, focusing almost exclusively on defeating Republicans. A poll conducted by Frank Luntz shows that individual union members overwhelmingly disapproved of this spending, and this same poll showed a strong unhappiness with current labor leadership. Enacting right to work laws in those five rust belt states would immediately deal a body blow to organized labor in America, reducing its power to influence elections in America dramatically. Republicans would be fools not to aggressively push this agenda against union bosses who are inextricably bound up with the corrupt leadership of the Left. But there is another vital reason why these five states should adopt right to work laws. States with right to work laws have lower unemployment rates than states without right to work. Unions are, in every sense of the word (except raw power for leftist bosses), an anachronism. Union dues come out of the income of union workers, reducing their real wages. Union contracts increase labor costs for employers and so induce businesses to leave for places which allow market forces to determine terms of employment. The cumulative effect for highly unionized states, like Michigan, is nothing short of calamitous. As unemployment rates rise and people leave for greener pastures, home values drop and companies forced to operate manacled by union contracts go belly-up. More than anything else, a regional adoption by these five contiguous states of right to work laws, perhaps effective the same day, would be the clearest signal to industry and commerce that the old attitude of antagonism between business and labor has been properly cast into the dustbin of history. If sweetened by incentives to business to invest again in these once-beehives of production, the flow of money, people, and enterprise out of this region and into right to work states might slow and even reverse. This would not just become a winning ticket for Republicans in these states in 2012 and 2014, when the governors of four of the five states will again face voters, but it would create a strong argument for Republicans in contiguous states like Illinois, Missouri, and Minnesota, where Republicans made big gains in 2010 but do not quite yet have the ability to pass right to work. Even more importantly, the success of right to work in these five rust belt state would be a powerful argument to enact a national right to work law. Would unions howl? Sure. What else is new? Politically, Republicans should take the attitude of President Reagan when cautioned about confronting irreconcilable enemies: "What are they going to do? Hang us from a higher tree?" Big labor will always do all it can to defeat Republicans, except for trained poodles and similar nominally Republican pets. Would unions strike? With unemployment so high, how many eager hands looking for work would quickly fill the jobs left by strikers? This is a reform that Republicans can enact and should enact. There is no political and no policy "downside." All it takes is vision and guts.

The sick Iraqi terrorist plot to bomb a U.S. plane with exploding DOGS
Excerpt: Sick Islamic terrorists tried to bring down a US cargo plane using two exploding DOGS, it was revealed today. The Kamikaze canines – whose stomach had been stuffed with bombs and detonators – were discovered at Baghdad airport two years ago, French daily Le Figaro said. They had been primed to explode in mid-flight, but were never loaded aboard the aircraft because freight handlers spotted both dogs had died in their cages. Post mortem examinations on the animals uncovered explosives and detonators set to go off several hours into the flight from the Iraqi capital to Los Angeles, Le Figaro said. The paper learned the information from a US military source earlier this week, it said. (Maybe the ASPCA will now support the war against Islamist terror. Or maybe we could just give Al Qaeda the address for Code Pink and tell them it's the Pentagon's western subsidiary? I'm only kidding, I think. Scary possibilities. Ron P. Actually, since Code Pink started raising funds by selling “Piss Mohammed” art works, modeled on the famous “Piss Jesus” funded by taxpayers, I’ve liked them a lot more. All the Muslims I tell about it seem less pleased, but as we all know, Islam is a tolerant and peaceful religion, so no worries. ~Bob.)

Progressives back Clyburn over Hoyer for minority whip post
I love it. Make the Democrat leadership more leftist for 2012. ~Bob. Excerpt: Both House leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus are throwing their support behind Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) in his race against Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) for minority whip. "I support Mr. Clyburn. They both have been effective leaders, but Jim Clyburn is our whip, and he’s been a good whip,” the co-chairwoman of the caucus, Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), told The Hill. Woolsey said the group’s co-chairman, Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), was also backing Clyburn, although the caucus as a whole was not taking a position in the intra-party battle.

What Happens When a State Goes Bankrupt?
Excerpt: Member David Guaspari writes in, asking: "It seems clear that the political classes of New York and California will continue to misgovern their states into ruin, confident that the states are too big to fail and will be bailed out by the rest of the country. Leaving aside prudential questions, what would it mean legally for a state to go bankrupt (or whatever would be the appropriate term)? Does there already exist a mechanism–like the bankruptcy courts for individuals and corporations–for dealing with it? If not, what might a salutory federal law look like–some shot across the bow making it likely that bail-outs will not be forthcoming? Presumably (unfortunately) the only liability destructive officeholders face is that of being voted out of office." Here are three questions, each of which deserves an extensive answer, which I don’t think that I can supply with sufficient fullness. But here are some hints along the way. (Interesting speculation, but I think he may have left out the part about the peasants with pitchforks and torches and good hemp ropes.... Also the part about China taking possession of.... Ron P. Yes. “Entitlement Riots” are coming, as in France and Greece. He left out Illinois? ~Bob.))

Obama surprised by political cost of health law
Excerpt: President Barack Obama says the political cost of overhauling the health care system turned out to be higher than he had expected. And he admits that he gets discouraged at times when dealing with the economy. In an interview airing Sunday night on CBS' "60 Minutes," Obama said the health care system itself is huge and complicated and that changing it eluded previous presidents because it was so difficult. "I made the decision to go ahead and do it, and it proved as costly politically as we expected—probably actually a little more costly than we expected, politically," he said.

No dogma
Excerpt: Why is there the need to label anyone who disagrees with any aspect of the IPCC as a skeptic or a denier? Even people like Steve Mosher (who I pick as an archetypal lukewarmer) who doesn’t question the basics of the science at all, but doesn’t think there is much evidence for high CO2 sensitivity and that the catastrophe is overblown. This is not an irrational position at all. What is the point of labeling such people as skeptics or deniers? Yes there are people that make arguments that are demonstrably incorrect; these arguments should be refuted. But people who think that climate change is mostly explained by natural variability, again this is not an irrational position that deserves the label of denier. There is enough uncertainty in our understanding to accommodate this explanation as at least plausible. Why is it so necessary to so vehemently defend the consensus against people that disagree with it, some of whom don’t disagree with it all that much? It is presumably because of the political relevance of this issue, and the perceived importance of consensus for implementing the UNFCCC policies. Well, that strategy didn’t work in terms of a justification and even prescription for policy, and it shouldn’t have worked; energy and climate policy has much more complex issues to deal with than consensus science (issues of politics and values). If the UNFCCC policies were removed from the table, would there be any reason to label as deniers people who disagree with a scientific consensus on a complex and uncertain topic? Of course there wouldn’t. (The first of three parts discussing the climate discussion itself. It seems to me that when money, political power, and science intersect, it’s always the science that becomes murky. Ron P.)

No dogma(tism): Part II
Excerpt: Text from the email message I received: I am currently reading a book entitled “Good Calories, Bad Calories” by Gary Taubes. I’m not sure if you have read it, and a quick perusal of other blogs finds no mention, so I thought I would bring it to your attention for the parallels to the development of the climate consensus. The book itself is concerned with various aspects of diet and health, and their interaction with public policy and public funding. In two chapters in particular (‘The Creation of Consensus’ and ‘Fiber’) Taubes lays out a very compelling story, which begins with forceful personalities laying out a hypothesis based on scanty and somewhat contradictory evidence, which then becomes the accepted hypothesis of the large funding agencies, even in the absence of further evidence, due to its prima facie plausibility. Once it hit this state, the hypothesis became a forced consensus through the intervention of governmental funding (and concurrent need to simplify the science and reduce uncertainties for governments) and the general impression expressed through the media (which always seems to require a simple message, preferably of doom). It then, of course, became the basis of public health policy related to diet. Throughout this whole period, the scientists and researchers who has doubts the base hypothesis were derided at conferences, told that they shouldn’t disagree publicly (as it would dilute the main message), found funding difficult, had results re-interpreted or quietly ignored (or found it hard to publish), and generally either ignored or treated like heretics to a true faith. As a result of all this, fifty or sixty years after the original (probably) flawed hypothesis our public health agencies are still toeing the line on dietary guidelines – with no more hard evidence than they had originally. (Dr. Curry is good at finding understandable examples that illustrate points. Here, she is showing how an orthodoxy built up around dietary recommendations with little (or no) science to back them up. Ron P.)

Who is distorting Islam
Excerpt: But while liberals assail Judaism and Christianity, condemn America and Israel, their choirs of academics and politicians sing the praises of Islam. If you believe them, then there is nothing wrong with Islam. Just a few black sheep like Al-Awlaki and some bigoted Islamophobes in America. But if that's the case, then why is the Muslim world so ugly? Why does it mistreat women and minorities? Why does it have the state sponsored murder of gay men? Why does it send Christians to reeducation camps? Why does it adopt the Mein Kampf as a second Koran and preach the murder of Jews?

NPR chief denounces defunding calls in speech on future of journalism
Excerpt: Speaking at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington Sunday on the “Future of Journalism,” National Public Radio President and CEO Vivian Schiller said she takes calls for defunding NPR “very seriously,” while stressing how important government funding is for public broadcasting, especially for NPR’s member stations. She also recognized there’s a possibility that, with the new GOP majority in the House, those calls for defunding might be renewed. “If defunding to public broadcasting were to occur, it would be devastating to public broadcasting. That’s a fact,” Schiller said. After Schiller fired commentator Juan Williams several weeks ago for comments he made about Muslims on Fox News’ “O’Reilly Factor,” calls for defunding NPR erupted again. “Almost all federal funding goes to member stations,” Schiller said. “Very, very little of it goes to NPR, but a lot goes to stations.” (It is both impractical and immoral to force citizens to pay for opinions they disagree with. If NPR listeners disagree, ask them how they’d feel knowing some of their tax money was being given to Fox. If they say it already is (in the form of advertising dollars spent by companies they do business with), point out they have the option to buy from other companies that advertise elsewhere; there is no alternative government to pay our taxes to. If “public” radio can’t survive without “public” funding, perhaps they would be more successful if they more closely reflected the public’s views and were truly politically neutral. If the amount is such a small part of their budget as to be a symbol, they’ll only miss it symbolically. De-fund them today. Ron P.)

The War Plan For 2012
Excerpt: “I’m hoping that the Tea Parties will produce a few real savages to thoroughly shake the place up. (I'm Irish -- I view that kind of thing as sport.)" Obama's economic programs have both deepened and broadened the depression. His antiterrorism "policy" relies more on General Dumb Luck than any other factor, and will break down completely more sooner than later. The "dignity of office" argument is being made on behalf of a man who habitually attacks his predecessor in the most vicious terms; save it for Hallmark cards. Barack Obama's policies have done more to damage to this country than the efforts of its deadliest enemies (and I include the leopard demons here). Simply shutting down those policies would be a heroic act, quite apart from the fact that there is no downside to opposing them. Whatever it takes -- the voters have spoken, and they expect action. Lastly, we must maintain and strengthen the bonds between the GOP and the Tea Parties. Their fates are now intertwined, whether purists in both camps like it or not. The 2012 election will be as great a struggle as this one; our alliances must be firm, our resources lined up. We need to learn the lessons of 2010 -- on one side, the truth that the TPs are in no way the throwbacks portrayed in the media, with rifle in one hand and Glenn Beck DVD in the other, and on the other side, the fact that traditional conservatives are not the enemy, and that figures such as Karl Rove have much to offer. Put these two forces together, and they will be unbeatable. We are off to a good start. Who could have imagined this state of affairs in the fall of 2008? The road continues upward, and we grow stronger as we go on. As the man said, "Keep on believing."

Court order blocks Okla. amendment on Islamic law
Excerpt: A federal judge has issued a temporary restraining order blocking a state constitutional amendment that prohibits state courts from considering international or Islamic law when deciding cases. U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange ruled Monday morning in Oklahoma City following a brief hearing. It prevents the state election board from certifying the results of Tuesday's general election in which the amendment was approved by 70 percent of the voters. The order will remain in effect until a Nov. 22 hearing on a requested preliminary injunction. It was issued in a lawsuit filed by the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Oklahoma. Muneer Awad said during the hearing that the law stigmatizes his religion. (A 70% majority reject the idea of using other countries' laws or Sharia Law from being considered in deciding cases. This is called protecting your own culture and way of life and system of laws. Kind of a good idea, unless you are in favor of a cultural suicide pact. So the judge says hold up on that? Because a Muslim says it "stigmatizes his religion"? If he doesn't like it, he can move to any of a number of countries where Sharia Law prevails, Saudi Arabia and Sudan come to mind. We are supposed to be a nation of laws, that's a critical thing. Yes, sometimes cultural differences should be taken into account, but that's for sentencing, not deciding the case. Otherwise you don't really have a legal system any more, everybody can start claiming some excuse for whatever they did, from speeding to shoplifting to assault to murder. Things just keep getting crazier and crazier. --Del)

Environmentalists Blocking Wind Farms? And Solar? And Geothermal?
Excerpt: Kansas is ranked second in the nation behind Montana for wind energy potential, a fact which should have environmentalists jumping for joy. Instead, they’re trying to block the construction of transmission lines to wind farms in south central Kansas and north central Oklahoma. Why? Well it all has to do with the lesser prairie chicken. According to a story by the Hutchinson News in February of this year, ranchers and wildlife officials in the area are teaming up with groups like the Sierra Club to block the construction of the lines, which would apparently run through prime breeding territory for the bird. Studies by Kansas State University show the birds will not nest within 400 yards of a power line, and the counties through which the lines would run are where the largest concentrations of the birds remain. Indeed, Kansas is the last state in the nation with a hunting season for lesser prairie Chicken. The problem developers ITC Great Plains (a Kansas subsidiary of a Michigan company) and Prairie Wind Transmission (a joint venture between Westar Energy and Electric Transmission America) are facing: the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is saying if more habitat is lost — and 60 percent of it has been lost in western Kansas alone — they’ll have to list the bird as “threatened.” In that case, the developers may find themselves with wind farms to nowhere. The developers find themselves under deadlines of a sort. Kansas has mandates to produce 10 percent of its power from so-called “green sources” by this year, and 20 percent by 2020. Additionally, the energy companies would like to cash in on the demand nationwide for “renewable energy,” and that means being able to transmit the power from Kansas wind farms outside the state before other companies get there — so they need these lines built, and built fast. Environmental groups, which are as quick to fang each other as they are dirty polluters, are lining up in opposition to the lines and to wind farms in general. In fact, they’re lining up against most current sources of renewable power: the Audubon Society hates wind farms because the blades kill birds and bats; hydroelectric covers up large swaths of land and releases “greenhouse gasses” when decaying material is exposed to the air; the Sierra Club has opposed solar plants in the Mohave. Apparently, even geothermal creates toxic waste no one wants. So what’s the solution? There isn’t one. (The battle cry of the greens: "Give me perfection or give me death." All the while, knowing perfection to be unattainable. Once any other objective has been placed as "more important" than human life, human discomfort and death are unavoidable (and expected by the intellectually honest). Ron P.

Supporters Block Funeral Protest in Weston
“Fighting Words” that incite violence are not protected speech. So if they get the tar beat out of them, their protests are no longer protected. ~Bob. Excerpt: People in Weston, Missouri banded together on Saturday. They wanted to protect loved ones who were saying goodbye to a fallen soldier and stood up to members of the Westboro Baptist Church who planned to protest at Sgt. First Class C.J. Sadell's funeral. Sadell died October 24 from injuries he suffered in a surprise attack in Afghanistan. On Saturday, there was quite a turnout of people who wanted to keep the protesters away from the funeral. "I'd say probably half the people in Weston are here," said Eric Moser, Marine Corp veteran. Weston has less than 2,000 residents, and hundreds of people showed up to support the family of First Sgt. Sadell.

The ACLU does its job
Excerpt: The American Civil Liberties Union and its state chapters spend most of their time these days fighting anti-terrorism laws, DNA databases of criminals and requirements that dangerous psychotics take their meds. Which is why it was welcome to see that the group's New Jersey chapter is doing what the ACLU does best -- defending free-speech rights. The group filed suit Friday on behalf of Derek Fenton, the New Jersey Transit worker who was summarily fired after he burned pages of a Koran last Sept. 11 during a Manhattan demonstration against the proposed Ground Zero mosque. The public utility axed Fenton, an 11-year employee, even though he was protesting on his day off, was not in uniform and never identified himself as an NJTransit worker.

Why the Tea Party is here to stay
Excerpt: My campaign for U.S. Congress ended with a smile–not because of the results, which were disappointing, but because of what it achieved. We ran a tough, issue-oriented, well-organized campaign. We out-raised incumbent Democrat Jan Schakowsky 2-to-1 in the third quarter. We raised the Republican vote by nearly 40 percent over 2006, and helped Republicans nearby and statewide by forcing our opponent to defend her seat. We also sent a powerful message to the Obama administration about the need for stronger U.S. support for Israel. While Israel was never the focus of the campaign, it was an important priority. We led a nationwide push-back against the far-left J Street organization, which supported Schakowsky lavishly. In so doing, we helped Republicans defeat J Street Democrats in races across the country, further marginalizing the group. Still, losing by a 66-31 margin is tough. Part of the reason we lost was that our opponent ran a relentlessly negative campaign, spending massive amounts of money on mailings falsely accusing me of wanting to “dismantle” Medicare and the like. She also made full use of the advantages of incumbency–dominating media coverage, promising federal dollars to key voting areas, and (corruptly, I believe) intervening in local foreclosures. Yet even those deplorable tactics cannot, by themselves, explain the result. The reason 9th district voters chose to retain the biggest spender in the U.S. House, in a year when much of the rest of the country rose up in revolt against excessive spending, was that Chicago and its immediate surrounding areas are heavily dependent on that spending. Cities like Chicago are no longer engines of industry, but wards of the government. Four of the city’s top five employers are government agencies–the U.S. government, the Chicago Public Schools, the City of Chicago, and Cook County. The pattern in many nearby suburbs is similar. The number one issue in our district is job creation, but voters tend to think of jobs as coming from the government. Few think that the money to pay for federal jobs comes out of their own pockets–because for lower earners, it doesn’t.

We Won - Now What?
The Republican win on Tuesday was far larger than the historic takeback of 1994, the stunning rebuke of Bill Clinton that subsequently forced a chastised president to enact welfare reform (a flying-pig moment). On Tsunami Tuesday, the Republicans won more seats in the House than at any time since 1948 -- 65 seats, the biggest swing by either party in the 62 years since then, along with another six seats in the Senate. We changed the world at the state level, completely flipping 18 state legislatures, including North Carolina, which hasn't seen a Republican majority since 1870. The Republicans gained over 500 legislative seats. Republicans picked up at least 10 governorships, giving them more than 30. Think about that. Even the sparse wins the subversive left managed to pull out on Tuesday were riddled with chicanery, cheating, union payoffs, and the buying of votes with "free lunches." Harry Reid's systemic corruption garnered a win funded by millions of dollars from public-sector unions. It was all in the game. Same for California -- a state from which decent, hardworking Americans (aka Republicans) have been fleeing, a state destroyed by a union choke hold. The stakes could not have been higher or more serious in the triumph of the rational on Tuesday. But despite the voter fraud, the SEIU/ACORN thugocracy, and the illegitimate tactics, the people spoke, and the people won. Now what? We are done with big government. We are done with recklessly stealing huge private-sector wealth. We are done being taxed half to death, our future leveraged and our competitive edge destroyed. Obama still doesn't get it. Obama's tone at his press conference on Wednesday was still contemptuous of the American people and shocking in terms of simple math. He had the audacity to say this: "We should be able to agree now that it makes no sense for China to have better rail systems than us, and Singapore having better airports than us. And we just learned that China now has the fastest supercomputer on Earth. That used to be us. They're making investments, because they know those investments will pay off over the long term." Singapore and China are free-market economies -- laissez-faire capitalism (though the Chinese people are politically repressed, which is why China will ultimately fail). So here we have Obama whining about more successful countries that are successful because of capitalism while driving America to the failed European model of socialism, Marxism, and serfdom. In Obama's big-government America, the conditions in which free men produce, invent, and prosper quickly deteriorate due to government taxation and regulation. Big government has been encroaching on our lives for decades now, and with Obama, the bottom falls out.

President Obama isolated ahead of 2012
Excerpt: President Barack Obama has performed his act of contrition. Now comes the hard part, according to Democrats around the country: reckoning with the simple fact that he’s isolated himself from virtually every group that matters in American politics. Congressional Democrats consider him distant and blame him for their historic defeat on Tuesday. Democratic state party leaders scoff at what they see as an inattentive and hapless political operation. Democratic lobbyists feel maligned by his holier-than-thou take on their profession. His own Cabinet — with only a few exceptions — has been marginalized. His relations with business leaders could hardly be worse. Obama has suggested it’s a PR problem, but several Democratic officials said CEOs friendly with the president walk away feeling he’s indifferent at best to their concerns. Add in his icy relations with Republicans, the media and, most important, most voters, and it’s easy to understand why his own staff leaked word to POLITICO that it wants Obama to shake up his staff and change his political approach.

The Next Set Of Cracks Appear…
Excerpt: You don’t send scores of your faithful blithely off the electoral precipice without consequences. Last January, in the thick of the Obamacare debate, nervous Blue Dog Democrats met with Obama and communicated their unease. They specifically brought up Clinton’s electoral backlash in 1994, caused – to some degree – by Clinton’s failed effort to do exactly what Obama was having them do now: pass a healthcare plan. According to retiring democratic Rep Marion Berry, as reported in ADG (subscription only, but here’s a good link from Politico to get the general gist), Obama dismissed their concerns, claiming his popularity would provide them adequate political cover. He told jittery Dems “Well, the big difference here and in ’94 was you’ve got me.” Fat load of good it did. One imagines Napoleon said the same to his generals before he invaded Russia. Yes, the Dems passed Obamacare, and yes, the French captured Moscow, but a month later Napoleon marched back out again and ultimately earned himself a long vacation at Elba. Now Obama’s in India and the word around the capital is the Dems sent him there to be rid of him while they assess the wreckage.

Child-Preacher Ammar: "A Child Must Be Raised on the Love of Jihad and on the Desire to Be Martyred for the Sake of Allah"
Didn’t hear the “Islam is a Religion of Peace” speech Obama just gave in India. ~Bob.

Investigate this
Your tax dollars at work, tearing down America. ~Bob. Excerpt: In a series of posts on Obama administration National Endowment for the Humanities Chairman Jim Leach, we have followed the descent of the NEH into political partisanship and rank buffoonery. Now we turn to problematic programming funded by the NEH. In July 2010 the NEH sponsored a workshop for college professors at the East-West Center, University of Hawaii. The title of the conference was "History and Commemoration: The Legacies of the Pacific War." As one of the 25 American scholars chosen to attend the workshop, Professor Penelope Blake anticipated an opportunity to visit hallowed sites such as Pearl Harbor, the Arizona Memorial and the Punchbowl Cemetery and engage with scholars who share her interest in studying this often neglected part of World War II history. Instead, Professor Blake was treated to the most disturbing experience of her academic career, a conference which she found to be driven by an overt political bias and a blatant anti-American agenda. Professor Blake has forwarded to us the following letter dated September 12, 2010, to Illinois Rep. Donald Manzullo, her congressman, documenting examples of what transpired at the conference. Copies of the letter were also sent to members of the NEH Council and to Leach. Professor Blake writes (all emphases are in the original): Dear Congressman Manzullo: As one of twenty-five American scholars chosen to participate in the recent National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Workshop, "History and Commemoration: Legacies of the Pacific War in WWII," at the University of Hawaii, East-West Center, I am writing to ask you to vote against approval of 2011 funding for future workshops until the NEH can account for the violation of its stated objective to foster "a mutual respect for the diverse beliefs and values of all persons and groups" (NEH Budget Request, 2011). In my thirty years as a professor in upper education, I have never witnessed nor participated in a more extremist, agenda-driven, revisionist conference, nearly devoid of rhetorical balance and historical context for the arguments presented. In both the required preparatory readings for the conference, as well as the scholarly presentations, I found the overriding messages to include the following: 1. The U.S. military and its veterans constitute an imperialistic, oppressive force which has created and perpetuated its own mythology of liberation and heroism, insisting on a "pristine collective memory" of the war. The authors/presenters equate this to Japan's almost total amnesia and denial about its own war atrocities (Fujitani, White, Yoneyama, 9, 23). One presenter specifically wrote about turning down a job offer when he realized that his office would overlook a fleet of U.S. Naval warships, "the symbol of American power and the symbol of our [Hawaiians'] dispossession...I decided they could not pay me enough" (Osorio 5). Later he claimed that electric and oil companies were at the root of WWII, and that the U.S. developed a naval base at Pearl Harbor to ensure that its own coasts would not be attacked (9, 13). 2. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor should be seen from the perspective of Japan being a victim of western oppression (one speaker likened the attack to 9-11, saying that the U.S. could be seen as "both victim and aggressor" in both attacks); that American "imperial expansion" forced Japan's hand: "For the Japanese, it was a war to defend their unique culture against Western Imperialism" (Yoneyama 335-336); and the Pearl Harbor attack could be seen as a "pre-emptive strike." (No mention of the main reason for the Pearl Harbor attack: the U.S. had cut off Japan's oil supply in order to stop the wholesale slaughter of Chinese civilians at the hands of the Japanese military.) Another author argued that the Japanese attack was no more "infamous" or "sneaky" than American actions in Korea or Vietnam (Rosenberg 31-32). 3. War memorials, such as the Punchbowl National Memorial Cemetery (where many WWII dead are buried, including those executed by the Japanese on Wake Island and the beloved American journalist Ernie Pyle), are symbols of military aggression and brutality "that pacify death, sanitize war and enable future wars to be fought" (Ferguson and Turnbull, 1). One author stated that the memorials represent American propaganda, "the right to alter a story" (Camacho 201). (Just when I thought I'd heard as much as possible about truly incredible revisionism of our real history, something like this comes up, to blow my mind and ruin my digestion. Read this, and then consider writing your congress people about it. I sure will. --Del)

Fire the Media
Excerpt: The Giant has awakened. The American voter just threw the bums out of Congress --- not enough of them, but a very good start. The crucial question today is: Will the Giant just turn over and go back to sleep? It's happened before. After Ronald Reagan and the Cold War, the Giant turned over, sighed deeply, and fell back asleep. We figured everybody got the idea, because it was obvious who won on the merits of the case for human happiness and genuine progress, after seventy years of Soviet Imperialism. Russia and China turned to free markets -- corruptocrat style -- to get their people back to real work for real wages. India and Israel liberated their domestic markets and found amazing success in technology and science. The basket cases of Eastern Europe turned to prosperity. Asia became a powerhouse, except for North Korea. In the new reactionary tyrannies of the Middle East, like Iran, talented people left and became prosperous in freedom.

Read it all: Why I quit... Desert Storm vet explains decision to leave Air Force
Excerpt: I never expected to write this letter, but my Mom e-mailed me to get information about my career for a writeup on Veterans Day, and as this is the first such holiday in 22 years when I will not be on active duty, I felt compelled to let you know why I decided to quit. Quit is a strong word, I know. Everyone I’ve talked to has repeated that I’ve had a marvelous career and that I’ve retired with honor. Maybe that’s true on paper; I guess that it’s reflected by the record. But that’s not how I feel. I feel like I’ve quit. And because I’m not a quitter, I feel I have to explain why — not that anyone is asking, but because perhaps they don’t know to ask. Briefly, my career had been a representation of the promise of this country. Starting out on the lowest rung of the rank ladder as an F-4G Wild Weasel crew chief, continuing on F-16s and the F-117A Stealth fighter in Desert Storm, then a small part of Desert Fox as a nuclear Maintenance Officer and finally a pilot that took part in numerous deployments in Southern Watch, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. I finished up an awesome year on the ground in Iraq, and was selected to receive a coveted “Definitely Promote,” assuring me of promotion to lieutenant colonel. They don’t pass out many of those. My dreams were right in front of me. All I had to do was grab them. And then I retired. Why? Atlas Shrugged. I had chosen, freely, to place my life between those that would do harm to the U.S. and those whom I would protect: her citizens. I had always believed in the best of America and the people of her lands; that despite occasional missteps there was a general “rightness” to our way. I lived that belief for 22 years, leading and following warriors into combat. I’m certainly no war hero; my brothers in arms have seen far more combat, more intense and personal than I. But I have become acquainted with death in a way that I hope you never do. My last tour, on the ground in Iraq was where my heart started to be hardened towards you, the electorate, and culminated in this letter, written two days before our elections. And here’s why. You’ve elected officials who, for partisan points, spoke openly that the “…war is lost.” I happened to be in a dining facility in Baghdad that day, filled with the (mostly) young faces of (mostly) Army men and women. CNN was on the TVs, and things got very quiet when this elected official continued on, railing that the mission that some of these very people were here to do, had “…failed.” Yet, they would be donning their body armor, strapping on med kits and weapons, mounting HMMVs or MRAPs and heading outside the wire, ensuring that the newborn democracy in Iraq, purchased with so many lives, would be safe another night. The newly re-invigorated insurgents would be waiting, teeth bared back in a hateful smile, gripping the IED detonator, the RPG launcher, or the AK-47s to ply their trade with new energy, because the Senate Majority Leader had said they were winning. You elected officials who continually defame and berate military members, whether it is the observation that if you’re not too bright, you’ll get “…stuck in Iraq” (this from a guy who has two Purple Hearts for self-inflicted wounds, and known for throwing someone else’s medals away in protest), or the calling of combat Marines cold-blooded killers (in a war; before trial). You’ve elected officials in the role of commander-in-chief who “loathe” the military, while using ROTC deferments and special treatment to avoid military service that the less “connected” take as a responsibility. On the basis of “change,” you elected someone who had close, ongoing associations with people who were part of an organization that tried to kill us [U.S. military] on our own soil. You elected officials that promised to take property from some Americans, and give it to you, merely because they had more than you did. Those Americans that these officials have labeled as the “rich” are your neighbors, who provide jobs and pay far more in taxes than you ever will. That means they are already subsidizing your lifestyle choices; you just want more of their property without the responsibility of risking your wealth and labor to get it. You would rather hire someone to take it from them. And you have. Yet these same officials from this same party are the wealthiest group of people in both the House and Senate. They have offshore accounts, forbid unions in their businesses and use every tax loophole they can find with their armies of accountants. But you keep sending them back to those jobs, because they promise to steal from some Americans and give to you. You elect officials who openly embrace illegal activity; but they don’t have to live with the consequences. Other Americans pay the price. You support “sanctuary cities” and open defiance of federal law, including supporting administrations who sue our sister states as they desperately try to control a crime epidemic by supporting federal law. You support an administration that leads a party that gives a standing ovation to the leader of a country that exploits our kindness and actively encourages law-breaking in our country while insulting our fellow citizens who dare to try to enforce the law. Check out your elected officials; did they stand and applaud the racist diatribe of the president of Mexico? Did they join the attorney general and the head of Homeland Security in applauding this gaping hole in (homeland) security and law? Do you have locks on your doors? Why? (See the rest. ~Bob.)

‘Neuter That Regime’: Sen. Graham Stuns Audience With Iran Attack Scenario
Excerpt: A U.S. lawmaker sent ripples through an international audience Saturday saying his country should be prepared to launch a military attack on Iran that would “neuter” the hard line regime. But Defence Minister Peter MacKay, who was in attendance, said a military attack on Iran would have negative fallout, and that international sanctions are preferable. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said Saturday his party would support military action against Iran that would destroy its ability to fight back while allowing its people to rise up. Graham surprised attendees at the Halifax International Security Forum with his hawkish rhetoric, saying an attack could cripple Iran’s nuclear program as well as its armed forces.

Why Mexicans keep raping America’s little girls
Excerpt: In September, Oscar Anibal Rivera-Lobo, age 31, coerced a 12-year-old Greenville, South Carolina, girl into leaving her home without her parents’ permission and had sex with her. On November 4th, Rivera-Lobo walked into a store owned by the girl’s family to confront her father, who was not in the store at the time. He instead, pointed a gun at the clerk and made threats of violence. He has been charged with second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor 11 to 14 years of age, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and pointing and presenting a firearm. And yes, he is an illegal alien Invader from Mexico. Are all immigrants from South of the border pedophiles, of course not. But they do view sexual contact with young girls MUCH differently than we do here in America. The ages of consent in the countries of Central America ranges from 15 to 18. In Canada it is 16 and all U.S. states it is at least 16 years of age. In Mexico City, the nation’s Capitol, and 18 Mexican states, the age of consent is 12.

Back to the Bush Coalition
Excerpt: The lesson here is that, while the Bush coalition remains a potential majority alliance, it is an unstable one. It requires a solid messenger, one whose appeal is too broad for him or her to be damaged by the Democrats’ predictable accusation of extremism. Republicans need to bear this in mind as they begin to deliberate over the party’s nominee for president in 2012. They need to ask themselves whether each contender is sufficiently conservative to be a good steward of both the government and the Republican brand, but they also must ask whether each can articulate the conservative message in a way that resonates with a broad cross-section of the American people. Perhaps the best metaphor is the political alignment of the decades after the Civil War. The Republicans were the majority party, but barely. Most elections were close-fought, and economic downturns easily swept the Democrats into the congressional majority. Yet the Republicans won most presidential battles during this period because they nominated politically attractive candidates—typically from Midwestern swing states—who satisfied all factions within the party without scaring off swing voters. Republicans need to do something like this in 2012. They should expect a tough, down-to-the-wire battle with President Obama, one where Midwestern swing voters will again determine the outcome. What they will need to win is a candidate in whom the conservative base has confidence, but who does not scare off those marginal Bush voters who have been deciding elections for a decade. If they can find such a candidate, Barack Obama and his Democratic party will be in a great deal of trouble. If they can’t, then Obama might very well be reelected in 2012, just as Reid and Bennet were last week, by default.

Here Are The 10 Worst States For Businesses In America
Can’t believe Illinois isn’t on the list. ~Bob.


  1. I read something by Robert Hall today that I took as an utter insult. It said there was only one kind of person in the US military; marines& those who want to be. That is crap. Look up the name Lynch. You will see it is (at least said) that it is the oldest name in the world & guess what the family slogan is. look it up. did the marines steal the slogan from my family ? NO.. But let me say to "BOB", you insulted the S_ _ _ out of me. Airman Bob McKenzie & Ps.. Did you see any B52s in Viet Nam ?

  2. Must be a different Robert Hall, or you are smoking stuff you shouldn't. I've never said that, Airman. One of the best people who ever worked for me was a former USAF SSgt. Would rehire her anytime. ~Bob Hall