Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Political Digest for April 20, 2011

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. Help your friends and relatives stay informed by passing the digest on.

For those who want further information about the topics covered in this blog, I recommend the following sites. I will add to this as I find additional good sources.

Important: S&P lowers its outlook on U.S. debt; stocks decline
Not unexpected, part of the start of the Collapse. I guess most people didn’t know in November of 2008 this was the “change” they were saying, “Yes, we can,” to. ~Bob. Excerpt: The ratings agency Standard & Poor’s warned the United States on Monday that it could lose its coveted status as the world’s most secure economy if lawmakers don’t rein in the nation’s nearly $14.3 trillion debt. The finding, the first of its kind in the 60 years that S&P has been judging the country’s credit quality, sent a jolt through the markets and injected a new sense of urgency into the debate gripping Washington over whether to allow the Treasury to keep borrowing. S&P changed its outlook on the United States from “stable” to “negative” and said the federal government could lose its AAA rating if officials fail to bring spending in line with revenue. The AAA rating identifies the United States as one of the world’s safest investments — and has helped the nation borrow at extraordinarily cheap rates to finance its government operations, including two wars and an expensive social safety net for retirees. A downgrade would drive up the cost of borrowing and throw into question the global role of the Treasury bond.

Timely: Devalued by Democrat Debt stamp
Excerpt: Add a little bit of fun to our country's current financial cesspool. While we would not advocate defacing currency, we know you will think of many amusing and satisfying uses for our RED self-inking stamper, “Devalued by Democrat Debt.”

On point, as always: Bull About Bullying by Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: There is a lot of talk from many people about bullying in school. The problem is that it is all talk. There is no sign that anybody is going to do anything that is likely to reduce bullying. When politicians want to do nothing, and yet look like they are doing something, they appoint a blue ribbon committee or go to the U.N. or assign some Cabinet member to look into the problem and report back to the President -- hoping that the issue will be forgotten by the time he reports back. When educators are going to do nothing, they express great concern and make pious public pronouncements. They may even hold conferences, write op-ed pieces or declare a "no tolerance" policy. But they are still not going to do anything that is likely to stop bullying…. For years, there have been stories in New York and Philadelphia newspapers about black kids beating up Asian classmates. But do not expect anybody to do anything that is likely to put a stop to it. If these were white kids beating up Hispanic kids, cries of outrage would ring out across the land from the media, the politicians, the churches and civic groups. But it is not politically correct to make a fuss when black kids beat up Asian kids.

Economic anxiety threatens Obama in 2012, but in poll he edges GOP rivals
If a Republican replaces Obama in 2012, his/her numbers will quickly go south, because what’s needed to fix the country’s economy and finances will be so painful that people will hate it. So much of it won’t get done, and things will get worse. ~Bob. Excerpt: Deepening economic pessimism has pushed down President Obama’s approval rating to a near record low, but he holds an early advantage over prospective 2012 rivals in part because of widespread dissatisfaction with Republican candidates, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. In the survey, 47 percent approve of the job Obama is doing, down seven points since January. Half of all Americans disapprove of his job performance, with 37 percent saying they “strongly disapprove,” nearly matching the worst level of his presidency. Driving the downward movement in Obama’s standing are renewed concerns about the economy and fresh worry about rising prices, particularly for gasoline. Despite signs of economic growth, 44 percent of Americans see the economy as getting worse, the highest percentage to say so in more than two years.

The Economic Cost of Paying Taxes
Excerpt: There is a lot more to taxes than simply paying the bill. Taxpayers must spend significantly more than $1 in order to provide $1 of income tax revenue to the federal government, says Arthur B. Laffer, the chairman of Laffer Associates. To start with, individuals and businesses must pay the government the $1 in revenue plus the costs of their own time spent filing and complying with the tax code; plus the tax collection costs of the IRS; plus the tax compliance outlays that individuals and businesses pay to help them file their taxes. In a new study, Laffer and his colleagues estimate that these costs alone are a staggering $431 billion annually. This is a cost markup of 30 cents on every dollar paid in taxes. A tax reform to a simple flat-rate tax with no deductions would significantly reduce the current complexity inherent in our progressive tax system. If a static, revenue-neutral flat-tax reform were to reduce the tax complexity in half, the long-term growth in our economy would increase by around one-half of 1 percent per year. Small increases in our annual economic growth rate make a big difference over time, says Laffer. Consider a family that made $40,000 in the year 2000. If their income grew by 3.2 percent per year, the average long-term gross domestic product growth rate, their income by 2010 would be $53,110. Now imagine that the growth in the family's income was not 3.2 percent but 3.72 percent (the impact from halving the costs of our current complex tax system). Under this higher growth scenario, the family's annual income would have been $55,568 in 2010. The slight increase in the economic growth rate raises this family's purchasing power by 4.6 percent. Regardless of the reform approach taken, the U.S. economy will be enhanced greatly by significantly reducing the complexity of the current tax code.

Violent criminals expand into cigarettes
Warning, liberals at work, raising taxes and feeding crime. ~Bob. Excerpt: A recent wave of state tobacco tax increases, designed to pump revenue into cash-strapped local governments, is inspiring an increasingly dangerous cigarette smuggling industry where big profits lure violent criminal gangs and drug traffickers into the booming illegal market, according to law enforcement officials and court records.

Sacred cow—it’s what’s for dinner! ~Bob. Excerpt: Thanks to their influence in Washington, and the iconic status of the American farmer, for decades U.S. agriculture enjoyed a sacred place in the federal budget and received massive handouts from Congress. That may be coming to an end, but not without a fight. "Farmers and ranchers are willing to do their share, we just don't want to do more than our fair share," says Mary Kay Thatcher of the American Farm Bureau. "We compete with farmers around the world and until other farmers and other governments are willing to give up their subsidies, we are unwilling to give up ours."

Higher Taxes on Rich May Prove Bad Fiscal Policy
Gee, if we just raise taxes on “the rich” and corporations high enough, maybe we can get them to move ALL their money and jobs out of the country! ~Bob. Excerpt: President Obama wants higher rates and fewer breaks, but only for the over-$250,000 set. That may or may not work politically, but as fiscal policy it's likely to make a bad situation worse, says Investor's Business Daily (IBD). Internal Revenue Service data tell why. Over an adjusted gross income threshold of $200,000 total taxable income from all returns was $2.061 trillion in 2008 (the latest year available). This income generated $531 billion in taxes. Let's say the top rate had been the Clinton era 39.6 percent instead of 35 percent, and the capital gains rate was back to 20 percent. That would have raised the 2008 tax yield by about $50 billion. Even assuming 2010 incomes are higher than in the recession year of 2008, these rate hikes don't add up to serious deficit relief. Since the last real reform in 1986, the tax system has been tweaked with credits, deductions and rate adjustments into a highly progressive structure. The bottom half of earners pay almost nothing and the top 1 percent pay close to 40 percent. The bottom 90 percent, which in 2008 included all returns with adjusted gross income of up to $114,000, were paying 30 percent, down from 44 percent in 1987. As the tax system has grown more top-heavy, its revenues have also grown more volatile. Very high incomes are produced not so much by wages and salaries but by capital gains and bonuses, which rise and fall with booms and busts. In good years, the government gets a windfall; in bad years, revenues collapse, but the spending can't be so easily rolled back.

Iran: Dog Ownership to Be Outlawed Under Lawmakers' Plan
Mohammad didn’t like dogs, so Allah said dogs are unclean. And that’s that. ~Bob. Excerpt: For much of the past decade, the Iranian government has tolerated what it considers a particularly depraved and un-Islamic vice: the keeping of pet dogs. During periodic crackdowns, police have confiscated dogs from their owners right off the street; and state media has lectured Iranians on the diseases spread by canines. The cleric Gholamreza Hassani, from the city of Urmia, has been satirized for his sermons railing against "short-legged" and "holdable" dogs. But as with the policing of many other practices (like imbibing alcoholic drinks) that are deemed impure by the mullahs but perfectly fine to many Iranians, the state has eventually relaxed and let dog lovers be. Those days of tacit acceptance may soon be over, however.

61% Oppose U.S. Citizenship for Children Born to Illegal Immigrants
Excerpt: Several Republican senators are seeking to amend the law that grants full U.S. citizenship to children born to illegal immigrants in this country, and voters strongly support such an effort. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 61% of Likely U.S. Voters believe that a child born in the United States to a woman who is here illegally should not automatically become a U.S. citizen. That’s up slightly from last August but is the highest level of support for a change in the existing law found in five years of Rasmussen Reports surveying. Twenty-eight percent (28%) disagree and feel that children born to illegal immigrants in this country should automatically become American citizens as is currently the practice. That’s down six points from August.

The only news here is that anyone thinks this is news. In the politically-correct world of the Obots, “Green” trumps jobs just as Muslim trumps women’s rights or gay rights. ~Bob. Excerpt: The Obama administration has repeatedly said job creation is a top priority, but apparently the memo seems to have missed the bureaucrats at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This became evident when EPA Assistant Administrator Mathy Stanislaus testified Thursday before an Environment and Energy subcommittee hearing that his agency does not take jobs into account when it issues new regulations. “We have not directly taken a look at jobs in the proposal,” Stanislaus said, referring to a regulation that would govern industries that recycle coal ash and other fossil fuel byproducts.

Arizona Sheriff Cites Flood of Border Agents Confirming Feds' No-Apprehension Policy
Excerpt: An Arizona sheriff says he has been flooded with calls and emails of support from local and federal agents who back his claims that the U.S. Border Patrol has effectively ordered them to stop apprehending illegal immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexican border.

Border Patrol Banned From Top Smuggler Routes
Excerpt: For the third time in a few months a federal report exposes how the U.S. government prioritizes environmental preservation over national security by keeping Border Patrol agents out of wildlife refuges that are heavily transited by Mexican drug and human smugglers. Among them is a popular smugglers’ corridor, the 2,300-acre San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge, used by an illegal immigrant who murdered an Arizona rancher last spring. For years, Border Patrol agents have been prohibited by the Interior Department and the U.S. Forest Service from actively patrolling such areas because it threatens natural resources.

The American Dream Is In Jeopardy
Illinois just raised taxes on Cat, and the Governor, who secured his re-election by granting concessions to state unions, basically dared them to leave! ~Bob. Excerpt: Companies like General Electric and Caterpillar might sound as American as apple pie, but like many other multinational firms, which employ a fifth of all American workers, they’re cutting back on their domestic workforces and increasing hiring overseas. That disturbing trend points to a serious problem in the United States: the Land of the Free is not the attractive place to do business that it once was.

Obama Empire Strikes Back on My PJM ‘Holdergate’ Reporting: ‘We Blame Bush!’
If that doesn’t work, they’ll blame Global Warming. ~Bob. Excerpt: My source cited a March 31, 2010, internal DOJ memo from Assistant Attorney General David Kris to Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler effectively dropping the prosecution of Ahmad. When I contacted the Department of Justice National Security Division, public affairs representative Dean Boyd refused to provide me a copy of the memo and declined to comment on the matter. Boyd directed me to submit a FOIA for the information. (…) But now we’re starting to get wind of the Obama administration’s response. Fearful that this could easily turn into “Holdergate,” the administration is trying to spin its way out of this potential morass by returning to an old standard: WE BLAME BUSH!!

Duke Lacrosse Accuser Indicted on Murder Charge
Will the Duke faculty put out a statement supporting her as they did after she made the rape charge against Duke students? ~Bob. Excerpt: The woman who falsely accused three Duke lacrosse players of raping her was charged Monday with murder in the death of her boyfriend. Crystal Mangum was indicted on a charge of first-degree murder and two counts of larceny. She has been in jail since April 3, when police charged her with assault in the stabbing 46-year-old Reginald Daye. He died after nearly two weeks at a hospital. (Don't Worry - Al Sharpton Will Be Right There To Help Again - Or Maybe Not. –Rod.)

Too Late To Ask For A Refund, Obama Has Union Bosses & Other Lefty Loons Feeling Double Crossed
Excerpt: There must be some pretty cynical political strategists inside the White House who, all knowingly, believe that defecating on the deli sandwiches of the Democrats’ core constituencies before 2012 is an okay thing to do because—Hey! What’re they going to do? … Support the Republicans? Nevertheless, while union bosses, liberal allies and even African Americans publicly put on a happy face about President Obama, they’re privately grousing over a growing concern that they may be losing the war to further fundamentally transform the nation.

Political Ad Compares Philly 2 Libya
Excerpt: Republican mayoral candidate John Featherman is turning heads with a new satirical video comparing Philly to Libya. In the video, an employee of the fictional "Dictator Relocation Program" tries to convince Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi that Philly would be a great place for him to move. Throughout the video, she speaks on the similarities between Libya and the city of brotherly love, claiming that “Philadelphia’s been a one party state for 59 years, like Libya! Just one! The Democratic machine!”

China and the End of the Deng Dynasty
Excerpt: Beijing has become noticeably more anxious than usual in recent months, launching one of the more high-profile security campaigns to suppress political dissent since the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989. Journalists, bloggers, artists, Christians and others have been arrested or have disappeared in a crackdown prompted by fears that foreign forces and domestic dissidents have hatched any number of “Jasmine” gatherings inspired by recent events in the Middle East. More remarkable than the small, foreign-coordinated protests, however, has been the state’s aggressive and erratic reaction to them. Meanwhile, the Chinese economy has maintained a furious pace of credit-fueled growth despite authorities’ repeated claims of working to slow growth down to prevent excessive inflation and systemic financial risks. The government’s cautious approach to fighting inflation has emboldened local governments and state companies, which benefit from rapid growth. Yet the risk to socio-political stability posed by inflation, expected to peak in springtime, has provoked a gradually tougher stance. The government thus faces twin perils of economic overheating on one side and overcorrection on the other, either of which could trigger an outburst of social unrest — and both of which have led to increasingly erratic policymaking.

Deadly riots hit north Nigeria as results show Jonathan wins
Voting for a non-Muslim is an insult to Islam, I suppose. ~Bob. Excerpt: Results from all of Nigeria's states announced by the electoral commission showed Jonathan had handily beaten his northern rival, ex-military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The electoral commission was yet to officially declare him the victor. Returns from all 36 states and the capital showed Jonathan with more than 22 million votes compared to some 12 million for Buhari. The rioting began after allegations of rigging in Saturday's vote as results showed sharp divisions between the mainly Muslim north and predominantly Christian south of Africa's most populous nation.

UK: Man faces sentencing for burning Qur'an
Excerpt: UPDATE: He got seventy days in prison. … He apparently stole the book from the library and should face charges for that. But I don't think that burning a book is in itself illegal in Britain. So he is actually facing sentencing for "religiously aggravated harassment." In British Newspeak, that means "doing something offensive to Muslims." It is virtually certain that if he had burned a Bible, he wouldn't be in the fix he is in today. And that makes this a Sharia Alert from the U.K.:

Christian governor named in S. Egypt, protests flare
Excerpt: Muslims in southern Egypt protested for a third day on Sunday over the appointment of a Christian governor, saying his predecessor, also a Christian, had failed to solve their problems. Thousands rallied outside the governor's office in Qena and prevented employees from entering, blocked highways leading to the town and sat on a railway line into the province demanding that the appointment of Emad Mikhail be reversed.

What's Donald Trump Really After?
with his past support for Obama, and contributions to Dems like Charlie Rangel, he should run on the Dem side. ~Bob. Excerpt: Despite an almost universal refusal by Republican establishment figures and the press to take him seriously, Donald Trump is taking very concrete steps toward forming — and announcing — a presidential campaign. He has interviewed at least two people for a campaign manager position, sources said. He is in contact with several well-known media consultants and has spoken to figures in the evangelical community such as Ralph Reed and Tony Perkins. Still, the question remains: Is Trump serious?

'I Was a Marine, and I Love Jesus!'
Excerpt: That was the explanation of Steven Hoag to ABC11-TV in Wilson, N.C. for how he remained preternaturally calm while narrating the approach of a tornado straight towards him. (Was? WAS! Get down and give me 50, Marine! ~Bob.)

Unhinged Lunatics Message to Madison Tea Party & Sarah Palin
The Left. When they are not blaming conservatives for creating a “climate of violence,” the yare busy making threats and shouting insults. ~Bob. Excerpt: These protesters at the Madison, Wisconsin Tea Party Protest featuring Andrew Breitbart and Sarah Palin unleashed a furious message in the following video. Unfortunately, we have absolutely no idea what this message means …

Excerpt: It's peculiar how the Left embraces choice when it comes to aborting children, but opposes it for children languishing in failing public schools. These substandard schools virtually guarantee their students a life of poverty, teen pregnancy, near illiteracy and welfare dependence. Washington, D.C., a city that is 52.7 percent African-American, has one of the highest abortion rates in the country. There are 265 abortions for every 100 live births, according to Guttmacher Institute statistics published by The Movement for a Better America, a pro-life website. Since aborting blacks, immigrants and the poor, was a goal of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger (she compared them all to "human weeds"), one might think black lawmakers would do more to preserve the lives of a new generation of black children.

Uprisings in Islamic world undermine U.S. war on terrorism
Excerpt: Violent uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa, coupled by strained relations between the Untied States and Pakistan, are overwhelming American counterterrorism efforts aimed at al Qaeda, giving the terrorist organization breathing room to plan attacks on the West, intelligence analysts and military officials say.

Rep. Frank: Administration 'wasting time' with online poker crackdown
 Excerpt: Frank mocked the seizures as the administration "protecting the public from the scourge of inside straights," and lamented that the Justice Department is more focused on prosecuting online poker sites than those responsible for the mortgage crisis and financial meltdown. "Go after the people responsible for empty houses, not full houses," Frank added. "I'm not saying violate the law, but to give this priority in law enforcement over some other things I think is a terrible idea and I think the administration is wrong on this." (It’s difficult to believe I’m agreeing with Barney Frank on something. Of course, I happen to see him as one of those who should be prosecuted for causing the housing crisis, and he likely doesn’t. Ron P.)

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