Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Political Digest for September 27, 2011

Obama 2012

Best older posts for new blog readers

Excerpt: Barack Obama’s critique of the income tax system is way off the mark. Since the days of Ronald Reagan, says the president, Republicans have been protecting the rich at every opportunity — shielding them from the obligation to pay their fair share. Yet here are some facts about U.S. income taxes that most people don’t know: Over the past quarter century, our income tax system has become increasingly progressive — with the tax burden almost continuously shifting through time from the bottom half to the top half of the income distribution. (See the graph below.) As a result of this seismic shift in the tax burden, more than half of U.S. households (taxpayer units”) pay no income tax at all and 30% of all households actually make money off the income tax system (pay “negative taxes”) through the Earned Income Tax Credit. More than one-third of all income taxes are now paid by the top 1 percent and almost three-fourths of all income taxes are paid by the top 10%. According to an OECD report, the U.S. currently has the most progressive tax system among all developed countries. Although it’s hard to assign responsibility to the two political parties, Republicans are probably responsible for 80 percent of the increase in progressivity. If you find any of this surprising, the obvious question is: why? If the president wants to have a national discussion about the distribution of the tax burden, why are the American people not better informed? There are three reasons: Republicans, Democrats and the news media.

Must Read: Why Does the Good Life End?
Excerpt: The city-states could not stop 30,000 Macedonians in a way — when far poorer and 150 year earlier — they had stopped 300,000 Persians descending on many of the same routes. The French Republic of 1939 had more tanks and troops on the Rhine than the Third Reich that was busy overrunning Poland. A poorer Britain fought differently at el-Alamein than it does now over Libya. A British battleship was once a sign of national pride; today a destroyer represents a billion pounds stolen from social services. (…) Why is it more moral for a federal bureaucrat in a state-supplied SUV to shut down an offshore oil rig on grounds that it is too dangerous for the environment than for a private individual to risk his own capital to find some sort of new fuel to power his government’s SUV fleet? All affluent societies believe that they are just too rich not to be able to afford another regulation, just one more moralizing indulgence, yet again an added entitlement. But as we see now in postmodern America, idle 250,000 acres of farmland for a tiny fish, shut down an entire oilfield, put off a new natural gas find in worry over possible environmental alteration, add a cent to the sales tax, mandate yet another prescription drug entitlement not funded, or offer yet another in-state tuition discount to an illegal alien — and the costs finally equate to an implosion as we see in Greece or California. And as we know from past collapses, a new entitlement in a matter of minutes becomes an institutionalized right whose withdrawal causes far more anguish than its prior nonexistence. (…) When poverty is defined as relative want rather than existential need, states decay and societies decline. In the fifth century, Athenians were content to be paid to go to the theater; by the fourth, they were paid also to vote…. (Most of the conservatives I’ve known have at least some interest in—and a basic working knowledge of—history, both world and American. Liberals often have a belief in what they’ve been taught was the history of this or that liberally-favored group (sexual, racial, national, or ethnic) that may or may not have anything to do with actual occurrences in the past. Question: are we conservative because we know some history or did we learn some history because we are conservative? Either way, there does seem to be a connection. Hanson the historian reminds us of where we’ve been before. Ron P.)

Pelosi and Reid at odds with Obama over trade
Excerpt: The White House and Democratic leaders in Congress are at odds over three pending trade deals that President Obama is poised to send to Capitol Hill. Throughout the summer, Obama has been making the case that the trade accords with Colombia, South Korea and Panama will help the ailing economy by creating jobs. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) disagree. The politically awkward situation comes at a time when the nation's unemployment rate is 9.1 percent and Republicans and Democrats are jockeying for position on job creation. Reid has vowed to vote against all three deals when they arrive on the Senate floor, possibly as early as next month. "I am not a big fan of free-trade agreements," Reid said on the Senate floor in June. "My voting record is in accordance with that." Reid has a long track record of voting against free trade deals, including no votes on the U.S. agreements with Chile and Singapore in 2003, the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States-Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) in 2005, Oman in 2006 and Peru in 2007. (In this case, Obama is right, if plodding. See this column by Dr. Thomas Sowell. ~Bob.)
A Mind-Changing Page by Thomas Sowell

Two Cheers For A Big U.S. Trade Deficit
Excerpt: News that the U.S. trade deficit narrowed this summer has brought the usual cheers from commentators. The Associated Press celebrated, noting, “[A] narrowing trade deficit adds to economic growth.” Bloomberg News called the smaller trade gap a “boost to the economy.” Meanwhile, opponents of pending free trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia claim that the trade deficit is still too large and the trade deals should be abandoned. But the truth is there’s nothing to fear about trade imbalances. They only mean more investment in U.S. industries and businesses. While a “deficit” in trade sounds bad, no real deficit exists. Most trade statistics simply fail to account for foreign investment. Foreign investors do not sit on their dollars. If they do not buy American goods and services, they invest in dollar-denominated assets like stocks and bonds, real estate, or even government debt. The trade deficit has helped the U.S. maintain the highest level of foreign direct investment in the world by far.

GOP to sink its teeth deeper into Solyndra and White House
Excerpt: House Republicans have sunk their teeth into the bankruptcy of an Obama administration-backed solar firm, and they made it clear this week that they’re not letting go. Unlike other GOP-led probes of the White House that quickly faded away, Republicans are vowing to intensify their investigation into the California-based Solyndra. The company declared bankruptcy and laid off 1,100 workers this month just two years after receiving a $535 million stimulus-law loan guarantee from the administration.

A Blue-State Bailout in Disguise: Our new study shows that under the Obama jobs bill, debt-ridden states will get another big handout.
Excerpt: Last Thursday, the president urged Congress to pony up roughly $200 billion in taxpayer money to "provide more jobs for teachers [and] more jobs for construction workers" and more money to carry out other state and local activities. He urges Congress to spend this money even after handing out hundreds of billions of dollars for similar purposes as part of the 2009 stimulus package, as well as a score and more billion dollars again in 2010. These vast contributions to the coffers of state and local governments, though pitched as a jobs bill, are in reality the latest in a series of bailouts for debt-ridden state and local governments. They are of special benefit to states in the blue regions of the country where the president's most fervent supporters reside. In many blue states, legislators have copied the politicians in Washington by running up state debts to extraordinary levels. Nationwide, state debt is running around $3 trillion. If unfunded pension liabilities are factored in, estimated liabilities leap forward by another $1 trillion to $3 trillion, depending on the optimism of the assumptions made. The bond market has taken notice.

59% Oppose Government Loan Help for Alternative Energy Company Like Solyndra
Excerpt: The questionable financial dealings of solar panel manufacturer Solyndra and its ties to the Obama administration are drawing little public attention so far, but most voters agree government help is not the best way to develop alternative energy sources. Fifty-seven percent (57%) of Likely U.S. Voters think free market competition is more likely than government subsidies and regulation to help the United States develop alternative sources of energy. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 27% believe government subsidies and regulations are the better way to go. Sixteen percent (16%) are not sure. (The other 41% don’t pay federal income taxes, so couldn’t care less. ~Bob.)

The next time some liberal or moderate tells you there is no bias in the MSM, make him/her read this article for more examples than are easy to count. When this series of articles began back on 8 August, I never expected to still be reading new articles at the end of September. It appears we’re still not finished, either. Emphasis within the article is in the original, links to all the previous articles are in the header. Ron P.
‘Every Single One’ Fallout: Justice Dept. in Turmoil From PJMedia Series
Excerpt: What’s happened up until now, and what internal leaks say about what’s coming. Hint: jobs may now be at stake. (This is the twelfth of a series of articles about the Justice Department's hiring practices since President Obama took office. Read parts one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, and eleven.) (…) Following the Justice Department’s long-delayed compliance with a Freedom of Information Act request, PJMedia recently published content from the resumes of each career attorney hired to the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division under Attorney General Eric Holder. The articles were written by two former Civil Rights Division attorneys — J. Christian Adams and Hans von Spakovsky — and PJMedia Editor Richard Pollock. The Justice Department is forbidden by federal law from hiring employees based on political affiliation. Yet the resumes revealed the following ideological breakdown among the new hires: Leftist lawyers: 113; Moderate, non-ideological, or conservative lawyers: 0. That represents the basest headline for the series, the matter-of-fact evidence that should lead any reasonable observer to believe the DOJ has employed an illegal political litmus test during the interview process. But the “Every Single One” series has provided additional benefits: the results present the inherent flaw in leftism’s perversion of the term “civil rights,” while providing a real world example of the flawed belief actualized. Additionally, the “Every Single One” series presents ramifications that reach far beyond the individuals most directly affected by DOJ activity. We hope not to understate it: this perversion of “civil rights“ is the beating heart of leftism itself.

Obama's Hope and Change Promise Reconsidered

Excerpt: Most socialists are not about economic prosperity. Oh, they'll use Keynesian theory that deficit spending stimulates economic growth to justify their demand for more government expenditures. But in the end, Obama's "stimulus" package wasn't even fair to John Maynard Keynes. Don't get me wrong; the obscene forced federal expenditures wouldn't have succeeded in stimulating the economy even if Obama had used them for that purpose. But he didn't, and it is pretty hard to deny in hindsight that he never intended to. Before he commandeered the $868 billion, he assured us it would go to shovel-ready jobs and get people back to work again. It was only after the fact that he cynically laughed in our faces about the unavailability of such jobs. (He's doing the same thing all over again with his latest jobs bill.) Despite his promise that he would strictly account for this money and watchdog against its waste, he threw gobs of it away to locations with phantom ZIP codes, to ACORN-like political allies, to unions and to corrupt environmental wastelands, such as Solyndra. There was no private-sector economic multiplier effect for any of Obama's stimulus expenditures. The only multiplier effect in this and his other spending bills was in the public sector.

Quote from The Patriot Post
Every collectivist revolution rides in on a Trojan horse of 'emergency.' It was the tactic of Lenin, Hitler, and Mussolini. In the collectivist sweep over a dozen minor countries of Europe, it was the cry of men striving to get on horseback. And 'emergency' became the justification of the subsequent steps. This technique of creating emergency is the greatest achievement that demagoguery attains. --President Herbert Hoover (1874-1964)

Something's Fishy in Arizona
Excerpt: Cindy Vong is a tiny woman with a problem as big as the government that is causing it. She wants to provide a service that will enable customers "to brighten up their days." Having fish nibble your feet may not be your idea of fun, but lots of people around the world enjoy it, and so did some Arizonans until their bossy government butted in, in the service of a cartel. Herewith a story that illustrates how governments that will not mind their own business impede the flourishing of businesses. Vong, 47, left Vietnam in 1982 and after stops in Indonesia, Thailand, Taiwan and Hong Kong, settled in San Francisco for 20 years, before coming here to open a nail salon with a difference. Her salon offered $30 fish therapy, wherein small fish from China nibble dead skin from people's feet. Arizona's Board of Cosmetology decided the fish were performing pedicures, and because all pedicure instruments must be sterilized and fish cannot be, the therapy must be discontinued. Vong lost her more than $50,000 investment in fish tanks and other equipment, and some customers. Three of her employees lost their jobs. The plucky litigators at the Goldwater Institute are representing Vong in arguing that the Constitution protects the individual's right to earn a living free from unreasonable regulations. (The Nanny State destroying freedom, jobs and the economy, one regulation at a time. ~Bob.)

Damascus Implicated in Attacks on Dissidents' Families
Excerpt: The Syrian government is targeting relatives of regime critics through a campaign of terror, ranging from threatening phone calls to beatings and murder, the Associated Press reported Friday. One recent murder victim was Zainab al-HosnI, an 18-year-old resident of Homs in central Syria. She was arrested by plainclothes security officials July 27 in an apparent effort to silence her brother Mohammed, who had been organizing protests there. According to Amnesty International (AI), he was informed by telephone that Zainab would not be released unless he ended his activities. Mohammed was arrested earlier this month and died in government custody. Security forces summoned his mother Sept. 13 to retrieve his body, which showed signs of gunshots, burns and bruises. At the same morgue, she found her daughter's body. Zainab had been decapitated and her arms were cut off, AI reported.

Obama Circumvents Congress on Education Policy
Excerpt: For the past few decades, the federal government has continuously increased its power over local schools, through funding with strings-attached, with depressing results. Since the 1970's federal spending on education has nearly tripled, yet student achievement has remained flat and graduation rates have not improved. However, that increased spending has had a major impact on the amount of red tape, paperwork and administrative costs imposed on local schools and teachers, taking valuable time away from their core mission-educating children. While federal policymakers are busy spending billions to make matters worse for public schools, they're also busy preventing students from having better choices, at the behest of powerful teachers unions. While charter, parochial and private schools offer better results and graduation results, President Obama and his allies are trying to prevent children from enrolling in them through cost-effective aid for school choice that measurably puts them on a path of success.

Herman Cain Sheds Dark-Horse Status in Crucial Florida
Excerpt: The first time I heard Herman Cain refer to himself as “the dark-horse candidate,” I knew that man had the kind of character and wisdom which smart people look for when picking a leader. Cain has risen so far above the superficiality of racialist, skin-color thinking that he makes those who pander to it or run from it look like a bunch of kindergarteners hurling spitballs. Yes, until this weekend, Herman Cain was a dark-horse candidate, given very little chance of winning the nomination by everyone who is anyone. Well, that was then and this is now. Not even Herman Cain can call himself a dark-horse candidate after Florida’s Presidency 5 vote, where Herman pulled in the winning 37% of Republican Party activists to Perry’s dismal 15% and Romney’s even worse 14%. (I like Cain. If we nominate him, I’ll vote for him, but we really need someone who can win in November of 12. I wonder if he can do that. Ron P.)

DOJ Releases Islamic Bank Agreement
Excerpt: The Department of Justice has released a multimillion dollar agreement reached last month with an international Islamic banking network after a four-year criminal investigation. After stonewalling all requests for a copy of the report and refusing to discuss the non-prosecution agreement with the Islamic Investment Company of the Gulf (Bahamas), or IICG, for weeks, a copy was given to U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., late Friday. Wolf had written to Attorney General Eric Holder urging its release after reports of the secret deal first surfaced. The agreement strictly is based on tax issues, leaving it a mystery as to why DOJ officials fought against its release. During a hearing on terror financing Wednesday, Assistant Attorney General Lisa Monaco told U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, that she had no information on the deal and could not explain why it was being withheld. In the agreement signed Aug. 12, IICG admitted failing to pay $22.5 million in restitution, $4.5 million in fines and millions more in interest in exchange for not facing criminal charges. The agreement describes money flowing out of a Boston-based company in which IICG controlled the majority of stock and into a network of Cayman Island accounts. Millions of dollars came back in the United States to start up 32 different development companies involved in apartments and other multi-family housing. All the companies were incorporated in Delaware and have overlapping directors.

Michael Moore: "Patriotic Americans" Will Wait Longer For Healthcare
Excerpt: Michael Moore defends Obamacare and healthcare programs similar to it around the world. Moore says the only "things you maybe have to wait for" are a knee replacement surgery or cataracts. "Things that are not life-threatening," Moore said on HBO's "Real Time" with host Bill Maher. "The reason why you have to wait sometimes in those countries is they let everybody in the line. We make 50 million people out of the line so the line is shorter, so sometimes you have to wait as long. If you are a patriotic American, you want every American to be covered the same as you. No, not 'I'm going to get ahead because I have health insurance and they don't,'" Michael Moore explained. (One hopes that one day Moore needs both and has to wait three years in excruciating pain and half blind for his knee replacement and cataract surgery. Let’s start a charity to buy Moore a dozen donuts, delivered to his door, every day. ~Bob.)

Black Panther Supporter Warns Conservative Student: I Could ‘Exercise’ My 2nd Amendment Right on You
Excerpt: Here’s the irony about the Constitution: it doesn’t matter if you believe in it or fully accept it, it still protects you. That’s the case with one Black Panther supporter at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. During an exchange with a Constitution-loving student on campus on Sept. 16, the Black Panther supporter said that he could “exercise” his 2nd Amendment right against his fellow student while also admitting later that he doesn’t actually believe in the Constitution.

Bill Maher: Sarah Palin Would 'F--k' Rick Perry If He Was Black
Sorry for the vulgarity, but you can’t report what the left says without it. ~Bob. Excerpt: For the second week in a row since returning from his summer hiatus, it didn't take HBO's Bill Maher long to begin attacking conservatives. Roughly one minute into his opening monolog on Friday's "Real Time," the host mocked Texas governor Rick Perry's performance at Thursday's presidential debate and disgustingly quipped, "Sarah Palin was watching and she said, 'If only he was black, I'd f--k him'" (video follows with transcript and commentary, vulgarity alert):

Nurses 'at breaking point' as morale plunges
Excerpt: …NHS workers are facing "unprecedented challenges to their pay, in the midst of mass re-organisation and cuts, in some cases losing 25 per cent in pay as a result". …"We know the nurses are stressed because there is a shortage out there. People do not realise it. We have known for a while and we are always saying when we get an opportunity that we could do with more nurses and doctors, but it never seems to happen.” (Aren’t we glad our socialized medicine is so much better than the UK? –Al P.)

Obama's HUD execs deliver $730,000 to ACORN spinoffs
Excerpt: The Obama administration has given ACORN spinoffs $729,849 so far this year and may hand out billions more in federal cash to these and other Saul Alinsky-inspired organizations, according to award-winning investigative journalist Matthew Vadum. "Barack Obama is doing everything he can to enrich radical activist groups at the expense of the American people," said Vadum, author of the explosive newbook "Subversion Inc.: How Obama's ACORN Red Shirts are Still Terrorizing and Ripping Off American Taxpayers."

Kelly: NYPD can blow planes out of sky
Excerpt: Police Commissioner Ray Kelly dropped a bombshell last night — the NYPD has weapons powerful enough to blow a rogue aircraft out of the sky. Kelly — answering questions about the department's state-of-the-art anti-terrorism system on CBS’s “60 Minutes’’ — admitted that the city is packing an arsenal on par with some militaries. “Do you mean to say that the NYPD has the means to take down an aircraft?” interviewer Scott Pelley pressed Kelly. “Yes. I prefer not to get into details, but obviously, this would be in a very extreme situation,” Kelly replied. Police sources told The Post that the weapon that Kelly was referring to involves a Barret .50 caliber rifle, which can be mounted on almost any police chopper. (Good luck with that. ~Bob.)

Blind to the mullahs’ missile menace
Excerpt: Official estimates suggest that Iran might be able to strike the United States with an ICBM as soon as 2015. But under current White House plans, a US missile-defense system capable of stopping it won’t be ready until 2020 -- or later. Anyone else see a half-decade disconnect there? Indeed, it looks like we may have to live with a sworn enemy’s expected long-range nuclear threat for at least five years, if not more. Nor is this a mere White House oversight: After all, the Obama folks knew well enough about Tehran’s quest for both nukes and long-range missiles when they first took office. Indeed, to their credit, they ignored the, let’s say, hard-to-understand thinking of the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, which concluded Tehran was no longer working on nukes. Add to this a 2010 report to Congress on Iranian military power that projects that, with outside help, Iran could “probably develop and test an ICBM capable of reaching the United States by 2015.” (I don’t think they need missiles. Recently read The Woolsorter’s Plague, a great novel by a former CIA agent, Chet Nagle about a combined nuke/bio agent attack on the US from Iran. Harder to trace if brought in by agents, and we are wide open. ~Bob.)

The Census, ObamaCare and the Uninsured
Excerpt: Health insurance remains closely tied to employment. Don't expect a turnaround until the jobs picture improves. The U.S. Census Bureau has released its latest estimates on poverty, income and health-insurance coverage. Strikingly, the official poverty rate is the highest it's been in 50 years. As one might expect, the number of Americans without health insurance also rose—to 49.9 million, an increase of 919,000 since 2009. But that large number hides more than it reveals. And diving into it shows that the uninsured rate won't fall unless the economy starts humming again. Unfortunately, ObamaCare's billions of dollars in new taxes and regulations won't allow that to happen. Let's take a closer look at the 49.9 million uninsured. The Census reports that 9.5 million of them, about 19%, have household incomes over $75,000. In other words, a fifth of the uninsured make at least 50% more than the median American. They can afford to purchase a plan but have chosen not to.

Russia’s corruptionism
Excerpt: WE’D LIKE TO CONGRATULATE Vladimir Putin on his exciting, come-from-behind victory to become Russia’s next president. After barnstorming across steppe and taiga, presenting a detailed program for the next six years, Mr. Putin won the enthusiastic support of —. Oh, no, wait. That’s not how things work in Russia today. Actually, the story is simpler: Vladimir Putin decided that he would like to be president again, and so he will be. This may be good news for Dmitry Medvedev, the hapless incumbent whom Mr. Putin installed in the Kremlin in 2008, after Mr. Putin already had served eight years as president. Mr. Medvedev, who had to pretend to lead while Mr. Putin ran the show, can subside into a No. 2 post (prime minister) more suited to his character and to reality. But it is bad news for President Obama, who invested heavily in his relationship with Mr. Medvedev, hoping he would emerge as a true leader. It is bad news for Russia’s neighboring countries, such as Georgia and Ukraine, whose independence Mr. Putin views as a temporary and irritating historical aberration. Most of all, it’s bad news for the Russian people, who face corruption and stagnation persisting perhaps — if Mr. Putin now seeks, like Stalin, to rule for life — as long as their president. (From the Washington Post...this is right on the mark...twenty years ago, I said to a Russian colleague just before the collapse of the USSR as we knew it that the answer for the Russians future would be controlled socialism...that has indeed come to pass...the Russian mentality does not lend itself to democracy as we in the west know it...too little too late in the history of mother Russia...corruption and cronyism was, is and will continue to impeded any move toward true democracy...that is just the way it is...Russians want stability literally at any cost... --Wayne. In ten years, Americans may want stability at any cost. ~Bob.)

Leader for Life? How Vladimir Putin Set Up His Kremlin Comeback
Excerpt: In Russia this weekend, an image went viral of Vladimir Putin as he might look in his 70s, withered and morose, his jowls packed into the collar of a general's uniform. The drawing pulsed around the Russian blogosphere like the signals from a pinched nerve, making visual sense of the political future that Russians faced on Saturday. That was the day it became official: Putin, who is now Prime Minister, will run for President next spring, opening the door for him to reclaim his throne for another 12 years — until the ripe old age of 71. Barring some kind of revolution, this amounts to the prospect of another Kremlin leader for life, a tradition that stretches back 450 years to the reign of Ivan the Terrible, Russia's first Czar. No matter how popular or effective a leader may be, that seems like a long commitment, and Putin's ruling party, United Russia, made every effort over the weekend to cast it as the shining path to the glory of the nation. (From TIME...there was never a doubt about Putin's ambition in my mind through my knowledge of the governance...or lack of...process in mother Russia... –Wayne.)

Worth reading: Operation Twisted Logic
Excerpt: Our present problems are excessive levels of debt, now mainly public-sector debt, weak financial institutions, and distorted asset markets. On their present scale these problems would be inconceivable without a system of fully elastic fiat money and persistent periods of artificially low interest rates. … Like all interventionists, the Fed has to run ever faster to prevent the laws of economics from catching up with the unintended consequences of its interventions. "Operation Twist" is another attempt to keep interest rates low and to encourage borrowing when the present crisis is in fact the result of low interest rates and excessive borrowing. The only solution to our problems is to stop printing ever-larger quantities of money and to finally allow the market to set interest rates and to cleanse the economy of its accumulated dislocations.

The Week That Was: 2011-09-24 (September 24, 2011)
Excerpt from introductory comments of editor: The work of many of the practitioners of climate science is that of physical science. But the interpretation of the work by political bodies, such as the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is not physical science because, among other reasons, it emphasizes the results of unverified computer models and claims a certainty that simply is not credible. The physical evidence of carbon dioxide being the major cause of global warming is lacking. The support that the leadership of some science societies give to the IPCC exacerbates the problem. If climate science is to advance as a physical science, the deference to the IPCC cannot continue.

Salazar's Priorities
Excerpt: At issue are uranium-mining rights in about one million acres of federal land bordering Grand Canyon National Park. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) estimates that the area contains some 375 million pounds of high-grade uranium ore. That's the energy equivalent of 13 billion barrels of oil—the amount of recoverable oil in Alaska's Prudhoe Bay, the largest oil field in North America. (…) But the Department of Interior needs to give its blessing before mining can go forward. In response to concerns raised by environmental groups, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced in July 2009 that he was considering withdrawing the land from mineral entry for 20 years. New mining claims were put on hold for two years while Mr. Salazar's staff studied the issue. And studied, and studied. After months of consultation with federal, tribal and local authorities, thousands of comments, and dozens of public meetings, the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued its verdict this February, in a draft environmental impact statement of more than 1,000 pages. The conclusion? Mining would do little irreparable harm. That didn't sway Mr. Salazar, who announced in June that he intended to go ahead with the 20-year withdrawal.

The Education Our Economy Needs
Excerpt: Which leaves history as the answer, the subject in which students perform the most poorly. It's a result that puts American employers and America's freedoms in a worrisome spot. But why should a C grade in history matter to the C-suite? After all, if a leader can make the numbers, does it really matter if he or she can recite the birthdates of all the presidents? Well, it's not primarily the memorized facts that have current and former CEOs like me concerned. It's the other things that subjects like history impart: critical thinking, research skills, and the ability to communicate clearly and cogently. Such skills are certainly important for those at the top, but in today's economy they are fundamental to performance at nearly every level. A failing grade in history suggests that students are not only failing to comprehend our nation's story and that of our world, but also failing to develop skills that are crucial to employment across sectors. Having traveled in 109 countries in this global economy, I have developed a considerable appreciation for the importance of knowing a country's history and politics.

Obama: A billionaire should pay the same tax rate as a Jew.

Now don’t go all Islamophobic on me—what teacher hasn’t beaten an eighth grader over a spelling error? ~Bob. Excerpt: It may have been a mere misplaced dot that led to accusations of blasphemy against a Christian eighth-grader, whose miniscule error led to her expulsion from school and uproar amongst local religious leaders. Faryal Bhatti, a student at the Sir Syed Girls High School in Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) colony Havelian, erroneously misspelt a word in an Urdu exam while answering a question on a poem written in praise of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). The word in question was ‘laanat’ instead of ‘naat’ – an easy error for a child to make, as the written versions of the words are similar. According to the school administration and religious leaders who took great exception to the hapless student’s mistake, the error is ‘serious’ enough to fall within the realm of blasphemy, Saturday. … On Thursday, Faryal’s Urdu teacher was collecting the answer sheets from her students when she noticed the apparently offensive word on her pupil’s sheet. The teacher, Fareeda Bibi, reportedly summoned the Christian girl, scolded her and beat her. Her punishment, however, did not end here. When Faryal’s class fellows learnt of the alleged blasphemy, the teacher brought the principal’s notice to the matter, who further informed the school management. In the meanwhile, the news spread throughout the colony. The next day, male students of the POF colony school as well as certain religious elements took out a rally, demanding the registration of a criminal case against the eighth-grader and her expulsion from the area.

Inside the EPA -- Memos show that even other regulators worry about its rule-making..
Excerpt: The Environmental Protection Agency claims that the critics of its campaign to remake U.S. electricity are partisans, but it turns out that they include other regulators and even some in the Obama Administration. In particular, a trove of documents uncovered by Congressional investigators reveals that these internal critics think the EPA is undermining the security and reliability of the U.S. electric power supply. With its unprecedented wave of rules, the EPA is abusing traditional air-quality laws to force a large share of the coal-fired fleet to shut down. Amid these sacrifices on the anticarbon altar, Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski and several House committees have been asking, well, what happens after as much as 8% of U.S. generating capacity is taken off the grid? A special focus of their inquiry has been the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, which since 2005 has been charged with ensuring that the (compact florescent) lights stay on. That 8% figure comes from FERC itself in a confidential 2010 assessment of the EPA's regulatory bender—or about 81 gigawatts that FERC's Office of Electric Reliability estimated is "very likely" or "likely" to enter involuntary retirement over the next several years. FERC disclosed the estimate in August in response to Senator Murkowski's questions, along with a slew of memos and emails. FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff, a Democrat, has since disavowed the study as nothing more than back-of-the-envelope scribblings that are now "irrelevant," as he told a recent House hearing. OK, but then could FERC come up with a relevant number? Since he made the study public, Mr. Wellinghoff has disowned responsibility for scrutinizing the EPA rules and now says that FERC will only protect electric reliability ex post facto once the rules are permanent, somehow.

A tale of two executions
Excerpt: This past Sept. 21, a man named Lawrence Russell Brewer was executed in Texas. He went to his death without so much as a whimper of protest. Brewer went to his death without howls of protests from supporters, and without much media fanfare. About five hours later that same night, a man named Troy Anthony Davis was executed in Georgia. Davis went out whining about his innocence to the bitter end. Davis had a plethora of supporters opposing his death sentence, among them Pope Benedict XVI, former President Jimmy Carter, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and its president and CEO, Benjamin Todd Jealous, National Action Network leader Al Sharpton and far too many bloggers, protesters and second-guessers of the jury's verdict to count. If you watched CNN in the days leading up to Davis' execution on Sept. 21, you might have listened to quite a few stories about Davis and his supporters' efforts to not have him executed. You could lose both hands and still count the number of stories CNN did about Brewer on one of them. Brewer is one of three men convicted of dragging James Byrd to his death in Jasper, Texas, in 1998. Brewer and his two fellow miscreants are white; Byrd was black. I'm sure you're starting to get the picture now. Davis was black. He was convicted in the fatal 1989 shooting of off-duty Savannah, Ga., police Officer Mark MacPhail. MacPhail was white. Neither he, nor Brewer, was of any use to the liberal horde constantly in search of black bodies to feed their maw of victimhood. (Worth noting, I suppose, that the writer of this excellent piece is black. ~Bob.)

Long Lines At State Offices For Low-Income Aid; Confusion About Food Stamps
Excerpt: Long lines formed early Monday morning outside state Department of Social Services field offices, as low-income residents sought one-time payments for losses incurred during Tropical Storm Irene. By mid-morning Monday, more than 400 people stood in line outside the DSS office on North Main Street, next to the Connecticut Works center. The office is one of 12 statewide where state officials are distributing ATM-style cards allowing people to make approved purchases. But many of those standing in the long, snaking line early Monday said it wasn't clear who was eligible for the one-time payments or who needed to stand in line. Information was not readily available to applicants until they reached the front of the line, a two to four hour wait. The program is not available for recipients of food stamps, which is the regular Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Eligible food stamp clients are already receiving disaster aid under another program and do not need to apply in person.

BBC Speechless As Trader Tells Truth: "The Collapse Is Coming...And Goldman Rules The World"
Excerpt: In an interview on BBC News this morning that left the hosts gob-smacked (google it... it is the BBC after all), Alessio Rastani outlines in a mere three-and-a-half-minutes what we all know and most ignore. While the whole interview is worth watching, the money shot for us was "This economic crisis is like a cancer, if you just wait and wait hoping it is going to go away, just like a cancer it is going to grow and it will be too late!".

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If the Greeks riot next week, will they take their traditional 5-hour lunch break?

Worth Sharing: Tax Demagogues Are Lying Liars, in One Graph
Excerpt: The rich pay lower tax rates than we do. Bush's tax cuts were only for the rich. Both the Reagan and Bush tax cuts were sops to the rich. Schmucks like you and me pay all the taxes so the rich can ride free. You hear these lies every day. In case you think I make these lies up, here are some examples.

Excerpt: Barack Obama’s latest rhetorical and policy prescription assaults on Americans who make money are his alleged “jobs” and “deficit reduction” plans. In which the President calls for nearly half a trillion dollars in new taxes – under the oh-so-tired guise of making the “rich” “pay their fair share.”

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