Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Political Digest for December 15, 2019

I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree with every—or any—opinion in the posted article. Nor that I disagree with them, of course.

Why no digest?
Sorry for the small digest for December 14. Had a series of pulmo tests in Madison Monday, drove home, did a business conference call for 90 minutes, got six hours of sleep, and was at an association meeting all day downtown Chicago Tuesday. Went through 400+ e-mails Tuesday night in about three hours, deleting those I’d seen 20 times over the past year, jokes, pictures of kittens and those without enough info to tempt me to open. (Must Watch! isn’t information).  Left this to post and hit the rack—long days coming up. ~Bob.

Huge Senate majority votes to advance $858B tax-cut package
Excerpt: President Obama's $858 billion tax package won a huge bipartisan majority in the Senate on Monday evening, setting it up for a contentious debate in the House. On an 83-15 vote, the Senate quashed a filibuster by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Fifteen lawmakers voted against it, including five Republicans: Sens. Tom Coburn (Okla.), Jim DeMint (S.C.), Jeff Sessions (Ala.), John Ensign (Nev.) and George Voinovich (Ohio). Nine Democrats and one Independent voted against the bill: Sens. Jeff Bingaman (N.M.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Russ Feingold (Wis.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Kay Hagan (N.C.), Frank Lautenberg (N.J.), Patrick Leahy (Vt.), Carl Levin (Mich.), Mark Udall (Colo.) and Sanders. 

Senate spending bill contains thousands of earmarks
Message from the voters? I didn’t hear any message. ~Bob. Excerpt: Senate Democrats released a massive spending bill Tuesday that contains money for thousands of lawmakers' pet projects, setting up a fierce debate over so-called earmarks in the waning days of the lame-duck congressional session.

Following the Money, Doctors Ration Care
huh. Thought Obama had repealed the laws of economics. ~Bob. Excerpt: The underlying problem is that doctors are reimbursed at different rates, depending on whether they see a patient with private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. As demand increases relative to supply, many doctors are likely to turn away patients whose coverage would pay the lower rates. Let’s see how this works. Medicare is the major federal health program for the elderly, who vote at high rates and are politically influential, and so it is relatively well financed. Medicaid, which serves poorer people, is paid for partly by state governments, and the poor have less political clout than the elderly, so it is less well financed. Depending on the state and on the malady, it is common for Medicaid to reimburse at only 40 percent to 80 percent the rate of Medicare. Private insurance pays more than either. A result is that physicians often make Medicaid patients wait or refuse to see them altogether. Medicare patients are also beginning to face lines, as doctors increasingly prefer patients with private insurance.
Government Unions vs. Taxpayers
Excerpt: Much has changed. The majority of union members today no longer work in construction, manufacturing or "strong back" jobs. They work for government, which, thanks to President Obama, has become the only booming "industry" left in our economy. Since January 2008 the private sector has lost nearly eight million jobs while local, state and federal governments added 590,000. Federal employees receive an average of $123,049 annually in pay and benefits, twice the average of the private sector. And across the country, at every level of government, the pattern is the same: Unionized public employees are making more money, receiving more generous benefits, and enjoying greater job security than the working families forced to pay for it with ever-higher taxes, deficits and debt. How did this happen? Very quietly. The rise of government unions has been like a silent coup, an inside job engineered by self-interested politicians and fueled by campaign contributions. Public employee unions contribute mightily to the campaigns of liberal politicians ($91 million in the midterm elections alone) who vote to increase government pay and workers.

Practical Lessons in Budget Cuts: The WWII and Canadian Experiences
Excerpt: In Canada, a left-wing government turned a federal debt of 70 percent of GDP to 29 percent and a surplus of 1.8 percent GDP in 10 years – without raising individual income taxes or losing control of the parliament. Reforms came more than 85 percent from spending cuts, the remainder in closing tax loopholes or limiting growth in spending. The architect of the budget reform, Paul Martin, issued a specific plan for how to make cuts both for the first year and then how to make other cutting decisions in the future, creating a standard to judge politicians’ performance. Martin was consistently re-elected for nearly 10 years and was later elevated to Prime Minister.

Excerpt: For all his talk of job creation, President Obama has targeted many occupations for extinction. Using un elected bureaucrats to implement a host of job-killing measures, his administration is generating piles of pink slips:

Time to Freeze Global Warming
Excerpt: The global warming prophets and propagandists, who enjoy living in style on other people's money, gathered last month in the plush resort of Cancun, Mexico, where January temperatures usually hover around 80 degrees. God must have a sense of humor because Cancun was hit by its coldest temperature in a hundred years. The first day of the conference featured an address from Mexico's President Felipe Calderon, who spoke with much concern about global warming and the damage that humans are perpetrating on the planet. He cited the deaths of 60 people in Mexico because of weather extremes, but didn't mention Mexico's 22,000 deaths caused by the illegal drug trade. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced that "we need to fundamentally transform the global economy, based on low-carbon, clean-energy resources." Barack Obama's announced goal of fundamentally transforming the United States has morphed into transforming the world. (A much more detailed commentary on the program than I gave you. (But still a lot less than Lord Monckton's report! --Del)

Christmas Books by Thomas Sowell
And you can’t go wrong giving any of Sowell’s own books, such as Race and Culture or Applied Economics. ~Bob. Excerpt: It is hard to come up with Christmas gifts for people who already seem to have everything. But there are few-- if any-- people who can keep up with the flood of books coming off the presses. Books can be good gifts for such people. Among the books I read this year, the one that made the biggest impact on me was "New Deal or Raw Deal" by Burton Folsom, Jr., a professor at Hillsdale College. It was that rare kind of book, one thoroughly researched by a scholar and yet written in plain language, readily understood by anyone. So many myths and legends glorifying Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal administration have become part of folklore that a dose of cold facts is very much needed. The next time someone repeats one of the many myths about FDR, or tries to use the New Deal as a model of how we should try to solve current economic problems, whoever reads this book will have the hard, documented facts with which to shoot down such claims. Another book by the same author was published this year-- the 6th edition of "The Myth of the Robber Barons." When I have asked people, "Just whom did the robber barons rob?" I have never gotten an answer. This book shows why.

The Feminist Deception
Excerpt: For instance, every year hundreds of Muslim women and girls in Western countries are brutally murdered by their male relatives in so-called "honor killings." Pamela Geller, the intrepid blogger at Atlas Shrugs website has steadfastly documented every case she has found. This year she ran an ad campaign on public buses and taxis in major US cities to raise public awareness of their plight. And for her singular efforts in championing the right to life of Muslim women and girls, she has been reviled by the Left as an anti-Islamic bigot. Former Dutch parliamentarian Ayaan Hirsi Ali was forced to flee Holland and live surrounded by bodyguards for the past six years because she has made an issue of Islamic oppression of women and girls. The Left - including the feminist movement - has treated this remarkable former Muslim and champion of women's rights as a leper. If all the feminist community's policy of ignoring Islamic oppression of women did was keep it out of the headlines it would still be unforgivable. But the fact is that by not speaking of the central challenge to women's rights in our times, the organized feminist movement, and the Left it is a part of, are abetting Islam's unspeakable crimes against women and girls. It does so in two ways. Tyranny unchallenged is tyranny abetted.

Silvio Berlusconi vote sparks violence in Rome
Excerpt: Outside the Italian parliament, around 100,000 students and demonstrators clashed with police as they railed against the government, in particular its plans to cut university funding. They hurled stones, bottles, paint bombs and fire crackers at police and threw uprooted traffic signals through the windows of banks, including a branch of Barclays close to the Vatican. As word spread that Mr Berlusconi had won the vote, demonstrators banged on the metal blinds of shuttered shops and surged towards symbols of authority such as the two houses of parliament, daubing them with paint. They fought running battles along Via del Corso and in Piazza del Popolo, close to the Spanish Steps, digging up cobblestones and throwing them at riot police, who responded with tear gas and baton charges.

Satellites Image the Urban Heat Islands in the Northeast
Excerpt: Summer land surface temperature of cities in the Northeast were an average of 7 °C to 9 °C (13°F to 16 °F) warmer than surrounding rural areas over a three year period, the new research shows. The complex phenomenon that drives up temperatures is called the urban heat island effect. Heat islands are not a newly-discovered phenomenon. Indeed, using simple mercury thermometers, weather watchers have noticed for some two centuries that cities tend to be warmer than surrounding rural areas. Likewise, researchers have long noticed that the magnitude of heat islands can vary significantly between cities. However, accurate comparisons have long eluded scientists because ground-based air temperature sensors tend to be unevenly distributed and prone to local bias. The lack of quantifiable definitions for urban versus non-urban areas has also hindered comparisons. (...) The compact city of Providence, R.I., for example, has surface temperatures that are about 12.2 °C (21.9 °F) warmer than the surrounding countryside, while similarly-sized but spread-out Buffalo, N.Y., produces a heat island of only about 7.2 °C (12.9 °F), according to satellite data. Since the background ecosystems and sizes of both cities are about the same, Zhang’s analysis suggests development patterns are the critical difference. (For many years, one of the major bones of contention about whether or not AGW is real is the Urban Heat Island effect. Since a disproportionate number of weather stations are located in urban areas, this effect—if real—must impact the temperature readings of many (perhaps most, in some countries) stations. At last, UHI has been proven to exist, and some mechanisms of its causes and variation have been postulated. Good article, possibly even an important article. Ron P.)

Will The U.S. Go Into Mexico Next?
Excerpt: When a 14 year old is kidnapped and made to kill and other children are volunteering to join the cartel, you know that not only Mexico but the U.S. has a big problem brewing on the other side of the border.

Britain's Left Are Panicking
Excerpt: London's descent into anarchy over a rise in university tuition fees shows just how deeply the entire leftist enterprise relies on their takeover of the university system. Ignore the apologists wringing their hands and claiming that last week's riots were not riots, but healthy protests that were signs of a "vibrant democracy" and "an engaged youth." London has been held hostage to the tyranny of anarchist and socialist rioters for the past two weeks, and the situation shows no sign of letting up. These came to a head last Thursday when London descended into anarchy, the royal family were attacked and threatened with death, police officers were injured and nearly killed, and enormous amounts of damage were done to the city...Over time, student life has focused more on drink, drugs, and casual sex...than on lectures. Less time in the library and more time in the Student Union bar means more opportunities to be roped into left-wing-controlled "activism," whether it is fair-trade, animal rights, eco-extremism, or plain old Marxism and anti-Americanism...

I love the symbolism of two Democratic presidents–not one, but two–endorsing Bush tax cuts, saying, ‘We need them crucially to help the economy’. -- Paul Gigot

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