Saturday, April 9, 2011

Political Digest for April 9, 2011

Traveling, but snuck in some computer time

Guest Post on Tax Fraud
If you missed it while I was traveling. ~Bob.

Obama Speaks
Obama in his own words, in cast you missed this post while I was traveling. ~Bob.

The Job of Congress
While in Washington, DC on business, I was in a meeting with a legislative policy aide to a US Senator. Explaining why they had delegated authority to a non-elected panel to make decisions, she said, “As you know, Congress isn’t good at making money decisions.” “Excuse me,” I said, “Isn’t that their job? Suppose I sent you to a surgeon, and told you, ‘He’s really not very good at surgery, but you should go to him anyway, and pay him well for his services,’ would you go?” She had no answer.

So, the situation is that when the Democrats controlled everything by large majorities, back when the 2011 budget was supposed to go into effect in October of 2010, they couldn’t pass a budget. Now the Republicans control the House, and the House has passed a budget, like it or not. The Senate, controlled by Democrats, has not. But if the government shuts down, the media will make people believe it’s the Republicans’ fault. The heart despairs.

Planned Parenthood
They were outside the Capital with “I support Planned Parenthood” signs. I was tempted to join them with a sign, “I do to—PP aborts more minorities!” But I was afraid they’d lose their civility.

Excerpt: Is this “the end of progressive government?” asks E.J. Dionne in The Washington Post. Do Republicans intend to break “America’s promise to seniors and to the poor?” asks Jon Cohn in The New Republic. Will the Republicans leave “the old and the poor without health care,” as Ezra Klein suggests? There’s no question in Paul Krugman’s mind. The “savings will come entirely from…denying medical care to those who can’t afford to top up their premiums,” he says. It’s “radical,” “irresponsible,” and “extreme,” adds Dionne. They’re writing about the Medicare reform in Paul Ryan’s Republican budget plan. That’s the reform he devised with former Clinton-era budget director Alice Rivlin, which mainly reflects a bipartisan proposal made by a Clinton-era Medicare reform commission. Perhaps this is as good a time as any to introduce
Goodman’s Rule For Civil Discourse: Everyone is entitled to become hysterical, but only on topics you actually know something about…..before reminding everyone that all these critics were unapologetic supporters of ObamaCare. Now take a look at the graph below.

Great News: Prosser gains 7,500 votes in Waukesha County after inputting error
Excerpt: Incumbent Justice David Prosser gained a 7,500-vote lead in the hotly contested state Supreme Court race Thursday after the clerk in conservative-leaning Waukesha County announced she undercounted the votes because of an inputting error. If the new results stand, they would swing the election to Prosser after unofficial results Wednesday showed challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg was the winner with a 204-vote lead out of nearly 1.5 million votes cast.

Excerpt: In a dramatic turn of events on Thursday, the Waukesha County clerk announced that the vote total announced for Tuesday's Wisconsin Supreme Court race had been mistaken -- and that the corrected numbers changed the outcome of the entire election. There were 3,456 missing votes for Democratic-backed challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg and 11,059 for incumbent GOP-backed Justice David Prosser. Kloppenburg has previously been beating Prosser by just 200 votes of the roughly 1.5 million cast statewide. The new total puts Prosser on a significant path to victory, about 7,500 votes ahead of Kloppenburg. (This story is still developing, but the MSM (or at least Huffington Post) is doing its best to make it sound sinister. I’ve noticed over many years that the immature often try to judge the actions of others by what they would themselves do in the same circumstances. Ron P.)

Waiting 18 months, in pain, for surgery is excessive
Coming soon to a healthcare system near you. ~Bob. Excerpt: After reading continued denials by the provincial government that waiting times for surgeries are not excessive, I feel compelled to relate the story of my 83-yearold mother.…She contacted the Hip and Knee Replacement Clinic (through which all surgeries are supposedly scheduled) in January 2011 and was told the surgery would probably not occur until July or possibly August. She was discouraged, but at least there was a glimmer of hope and a possible date. Phoning again in early March to check progress of the waiting list, she was informed the wait would be at least another 10 months. It has been truly heartbreaking to watch her struggling along in so much pain for over 18 months. Does the government truly believe there are no problems with the wait times, or are they completely lacking in compassion for the large number of people living in chronic pain awaiting surgeries?

Hip patients in pain now wait longer to get surgery
Excerpt: Patients waiting for hip and knee surgery are left in pain for longer after being denied the surgery to save money, it has been claimed. The findings come after 692 surgeons in England sent the BBC information about their primary care trust's policy on hip and knee replacement. It says that 152 specialists claim patients now have to be more disabled or in greater pain, while just over 100 said that routine operations had been put on hold in their area.

Excerpt: A new study from the Adam Smith Institute in the United Kingdom provides overwhelming evidence that class-warfare tax policy is grossly misguided and self-destructive. The authors examine the likely impact of the 10-percentage point increase in the top income tax rate, which was imposed as an election-year stunt by former prime minister Gordon Brown and then kept in place by his feckless successor, David Cameron. They find that boosting the top tax rate to 50 percent will slow economic performance. And because of both macroeconomic and microeconomic responses, tax revenues over the next 10 years are likely to drop by the equivalent of more than $550 billion. Here's a key paragraph from the executive summary of the new study.

Fannie and Freddie as Private Enterprises
Excerpt: One of the eight government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) reform bills debated this week is aimed at making Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac charge a more appropriate fee for the guarantee they provide (a "g-fee"). The bill, introduced by Rep. Neugebauer (R-TX), instructs the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to determine what the market would charge as a g-fee if it were setting the price. Put another way, if Fannie and Freddie were private companies with no government support, what fee would they charge to guarantee payment on mortgage-backed securities to investors? Certainly higher than their current fee, which is subsidized, says Anthony Randazzo, director of economic research at the Reason Foundation. So how much should the fee go up? There are a range of potential answers to the question and it all depends on the approach to estimating the fee and what factors are considered. In a paper last year, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) outlined its budget treatment of Fannie and Freddie. Part of the report estimated the subsidy cost to the government of being the backstop of the GSEs. For example, CBO estimated that the cost of providing a guarantee to Fannie and Freddie cost $291 billion in 2009. This meant the GSEs would have to charge 440 basis points more than usual if they were to operate the same way but be a fully private company without the government backstop. The report estimated that the GSEs should charge 150 basis points (or 1.5 percent) more in their g-fee for 2011 in order to account for the subsidy, 120 basis points for 2012 and 110 basis points for 2013.

Green tax credits in the form of greenbacks: Who's getting them
Excerpt: Energy subsidy reporter Russ Choma of the Investigative Reporting Workshop pointed me to data on who is pocketing cash from a stimulus-created "tax credit" that provides payments to investors in green energy. The Treasury Department includes the data only as an Excel spreadsheet, so I decided to make it more accessible. Here it is below.

Excerpt: The school choice movement sprung up and met with fierce resistance from the public school establishment and the politicians who benefited from their political contributions. Politicians who would never have defended the late Alabama Gov. George Wallace, who barred the doors to the University of Alabama in 1963 to keep two black students from entering, now have no problem effectively standing in the door of failed public schools to keep minority students from leaving.

The Attack of the Cash Register
Excerpt: Fuel and food prices have been defined out of the calculation of “core inflation” by the Fed. Excluding food and fuel from the accounts means measuring demand in categories for which demand has shrunk because less disposable income is left over. By measuring only non-food and non-fuel prices, policymakers can make the argument that inflation is actually stable or going down. That may convince the press, but it may not convince the public. Inflation is the one piece of news that the administration’s allies in the media cannot conceal. The daily news from the supermarket cash register speaks, and the gas station is more eloquent than anything that the New York Times can print. (...) But some economic analysts say it is already too late. They argue inflation is going to keep rising because of the pressures of supply and demand. Jim Rogers of the Quantum Fund, citing commodities prices, says that when raw materials cost more, products cost more. Since government spending does not produce real goods and services, the terrible effects of the law of declining supply and rising demand are inescapable. There is no “stash,” and those blacks and Hispanics who may have believed in it will soon discover it’s a myth. The despotisms of the Middle East had total control over their media and yet now face widespread unrest. The driver of discontent was in nearly all cases rising consumer prices. (Facts? The MSM don't need no stinkin' facts! They'll simply claim it's all Bush's fault. Ron P.)

Libya removes itself from the net
As fighting inside the country intensifies, Libya's links to the net have been completely severed. Net monitoring and security firms are reporting that no net traffic is entering or leaving Libyan net space. Renesys said the outage was more than just a "blip" as many sites have been unreachable for more than 12 hours. Net traffic into and out of the country had been intermittent during recent protests but the cut coincided with a push to oust rebels.

Ryan's Leap
Excerpt: In 1983, the British Labor Party under the hard-left Michael Foot issued a 700-page manifesto so radical that one colleague called it "the longest suicide note in history." House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan has just released a recklessly bold, 73-page, 10-year budget plan. At 37 footnotes, it might be the most annotated suicide note in history. That depends on whether (a) President Obama counters with a deficit-reduction plan of equal seriousness, rather than just demagoguing the Ryan plan till next Election Day, (b) there are any Republicans beyond the measured, super-wonky Ryan who can explain and defend a plan of such daunting scope and complexity, and (c) Americans are serious people. My guesses: No. Not really. And I hope so (we will find out definitively in November 2012).

Brazil: Muslim who recently "got closer to Islam" murders 11 at school
Excerpt: His letter contained "the words of a person who no longer believes in anything, full of sentences that made no sense and references to Islamic fundamentalism."

Boy, 16, badly hurt after Hamas fires missile at school bus
Didn’t get the “Islam is a Region of Peace” memo. ~Bob. Excerpt: An anti-tank missile fired from the Gaza Strip struck a school bus in the Negev on Thursday, critically wounding a 16-year-old boy and setting off a fierce round of clashes between the IDF and Palestinian terrorists. The missile, which was fired by Hamas, hit the bus moments after most of the children got off, while it was driving near Kibbutz Saad, about 2.5 km. from Gaza. Only two people were on the bus when it was hit – the driver, who was lightly injured, and the boy, who was en route to visit his grandmother. The bus driver is a friend of the family.
GOP Freshmen Senators Led by Marco Rubio Pledge Support for Israel
Excerpt: Even as they push for huge spending cuts, 11 freshman GOP senators say the U.S. must continue to provide foreign aid to its strongest ally in the Middle East: Israel. The senators delivered a letter Wednesday to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), reaffirming their support for security assistance for Israel. The U.S. spends more than $3 billion a year to help keep the nation safe.

Ann Barnhardt Receives Thanks From US Marines in Afghanistan [No direct links to her business website which is] [Twitter is @AnnBarnhardt]
Excerpt: Letter from Camp Leatherneck Thanks Ann for your videos. I'm with the USMC in Afghanistan right now and as such, I'm prohibited from speaking my mind about our enemies. Thanks for speaking up for us as we continue to pretend that these people are our allies. We had a meeting with the commander of the local Afghan army unit and he was blue in the face complaining about Terry Jones. The officer in charge of the meeting had to tip toe around and pretend that he was also offended. The things we have to do out here . . . You're quite the spit fire. Please take care, and I hope your message grows. Major X USMC

Regulatory Limits on Radiation Dose
Excerpt: Safety limits are designed to protect the public from a potential harm and are often set well below the point of potential danger to prevent that point of danger from being accidentally reached. Safety Limits are determined in two steps. First, by identifying the amount of exposure to any given agent, above which causes a health effect to be observed. This amount is determined for the most vulnerable members of the population, and considers the effects of both short and long-term exposure. That resulting number is then divided by a safety factor to ensure that the public is never exposed to dangerous levels. The reason for the safety factor is so the regulator will have time to fix the problem before the levels reach a point that can cause harm to the public, if for whatever reason, the safety limit is exceeded. The more uncertain the dividing line between safety and harm is, the larger the safety factor used to protect the public. (I think it’s a safe bet the scientists at MIT are as liberal as the rest of Massachusetts (they can’t ALL commute from New Hampshire). Being scientists, though, they promote accurate science. In the last five paragraphs of this article, notice the accidental support they give Ann Coulter’s column on the benefits of radiation everyone made fun of a few weeks ago. Ron P.)

Illegal Immigration is not an Ethnic Issue
Excerpt: In most schools in Mexico, hatred for Americans is fostered on that issue with the hope that someday the lost territories will be annexed. Message to Mexico: That was a century and a half ago. You lost that war. Get over it. Move on. Some Mexicans seem to believe that if enough Mexican nationals settle in the U.S. Southwest, then in an ironic turn, what happened in Texas with the Anglo immigration in 1836 will reverse itself. During World War II, when Japan, Germany and Italy were at war with us, U.S. citizens of Japanese, German and Italian descent were the most ferocious fighters against the Axis, even when, as with the Japanese-Americans, they had a legitimate grudge against the U.S. government. Because I'm Hispanic and speak fluent Spanish, one of the illegal immigrants I talked to left me speechless when he smiled and said, “Before too long we'll take over all of this.” Over my dead body.

Stolen sacred objects returned to New Haven church
Bible destroyed? How many will die in the rioting? Answer—None. Christianity is a Religion of Peace. ~Bob. Excerpt: The objects were stolen early Saturday by one or more vandals who broke into the 19th-century church and broke four stained-glass window panes, two of them in the main window over the front doors. The linens on the altar and other items were strewn about, and a Bible was torn in half.

One Woman, One Vote
Excerpt: One of the fundamental rights in our constitutional republic is the right to vote. But just as importantly, our free society is built on the idea of voter integrity: one person, one vote. When the validity of a vote, or the voting process, is called into question, both the legitimacy of the government and society as a whole suffer.

Illegal Immigrants [Colonists] Make Heavy Use of Welfare Programs
Excerpt: One clue that what is happening to us is not immigration but colonization is that a large percentage of the unassimilating invaders come from one place: Mexico. Of households with children headed by colonists from Mexico, 75% collect welfare benefits.

Beyond the Welfare State
Excerpt: All over the developed world, nations are coming to terms with the fact that the social-democratic welfare state is turning out to be untenable. The reason is partly institutional: The administrative state is dismally inefficient and unresponsive, and therefore ill-suited to our age of endless choice and variety. The reason is also partly cultural and moral: The attempt to rescue the citizen from the burdens of responsibility has undermined the family, self-reliance, and self-government. But, in practice, it is above all fiscal: The welfare state has turned out to be unaffordable, dependent as it is upon dubious economics and the demographic model of a bygone era. Sustaining existing programs of social insurance, let alone continuing to build new ones on the social-democratic model, has become increasingly difficult in recent years, and projections for the coming decades paint an impossibly grim and baleful picture. There is simply no way that Europe, Japan, or America can actually go where the economists' long-term charts now point — to debts that utterly overwhelm their productive capacities, governments that do almost nothing but support the elderly, and economies with no room for dynamism, for growth, or for youth. Some change must come, and so it will. (...) Nearly all of the dozens of small and large programs that compose our welfare state have come to exhibit similar problems: out-of-control costs, mediocre results, harmful unintended consequences, and by now a growing sense of inadequacy and exhaustion. This combination of problems is hardly a coincidence; it runs to the heart of the social-democratic project. The three key arguments in favor of this vision of the welfare state — its rationality and efficiency, its morality and capacity for unifying society, and its economic benefits — all turn out in reality to be among its foremost failings.

Daniel Greenfield: Can Obama Be Beaten?
Excerpt: Now let's list two more names. George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter. Strip away the party affiliation of these two incumbents who lost their second term races and what do you have in common? They were both weak candidates. Two men who had more in common with the names on that first list. They still might have made it to a second term, but they faced opponents who were strong and bold personalities. Men who registered on a national stage the way they didn't. And the rest is history. Incumbency has its weaknesses and its strengths. Its chief strength is that unless you completely outrage and disgust 51 percent of the country as distributed across key battleground states, the voters may be disappointed in you, but they will still let you stay. That is unless your opponent beats your name recognition and familiarity factor and comes in like a breath of fresh air. And that is the chief weakness. Voter complacency is the chief strength of the incumbent. That is why Obama's campaign opening video looked so bland. He's not out there to win, just to stay ahead of the competition. And voter dissatisfaction is the chief strength of his opponent. Not the mob with pitchforks kind, but the "We could use something better about now" type. So back to the original question. Can Obama be beaten? Yes he can.

Nihad Awad, Co-founder of CAIR Unplugged: Portrait of an Anti-Semite
Excerpt: In the past few years, Nihad Awad, head of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and other top CAIR leaders have been feted to a dizzying array of non-Muslim defenders in the media, Congress, local law enforcement like Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca (who recently asserted that any attack on CAIR is an attack on all Muslims). Never mind that CAIR was created in 1994 as a Hamas front group but no one paid any attention as CAIR successfully portrayed itself as a "civil rights" group, ready to issue diatribes and calls of racism to anyone who questioned CAIR's ulterior agenda and modus operandi.

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