Thursday, December 1, 2011

Political Digest for December 1, 2011

Did you or someone in your family lose your job in the 2008 economic collapse? Was your retirement gutted? Is your mortgage underwater or your house foreclosed? This book by a NYT reporter will name the names. I’m a conservative guy, never taking a mortgage at even half of what my salary would max at, paying extra on it, and with a very low debt to income ratio. I figure the crisis cost me over $200,000 in home values and IRA losses. And we are among the lucky ones. (If you’ve lost everything except your 1911 colt semi-auto, you might not want to read the book. It would be an incitement to violence—except there are too many thieves to shoot them all.)

If you want to blame Jim Johnson, Frank Raines and Fannie Mae, here’s the evidence in spades. If you want to blame subprime mortgage lenders like Angelo Mozilo and Countrywide, who played fast and loose with the economy while giving sweetheart loans to politicians, here’s the evidence, in spades. If you want to blame Wall Street corruption and greed, here’s the evidence, in spades. I have nothing against anyone honestly making millions—more power to Bill Gates and Sam Walton. But these Wall Street mortgage bundlers were corrupt and dishonest. While I have contempt for the unwashed and economically ignorant slacker-children of Occupy Wall Street, they have it partly right. Many Wall Street firms screwed everyone—after Fannie Mae showed them how and politicians of both parties gave them the green flag. It’s amazing that guys socking away tens of millions of dollars in bonuses for ripping off the average guy could put politicians in their pockets for such paltry campaign contributions. OWS should be going after the politicians that opened the door and camping on Jim Johnson’s lawn—where I’d be tempted to join them.

If you want to blame politicians of both parties who aided the pirates, here’s the evidence. If you want to blame weak and captive regulators, here’s the evidence. If you want to blame the Fed, here’s the evidence. If you want to blame local mortgage brokers and dishonest buyers colluding to create millions of toxic liar-loan mortgages that were sold to mostly-unsuspecting investors, here’s the evidence. If you want to blame Standard and Poor, Moody’s and Fitch for giving solid investment ratings to toxic bundled sub-prime mortgage securities to keep their fees flowing, here’s the evidence.

What’s maybe worse, most of the people who cost each of us tens of thousands of dollars, and got away with millions, are either comfortably retired on their wealth, or, too often, still in the halls of power. Can it happen again? You bet. Many of the culprits are still pushing the same “affordable housing” scams that screwed so many poor or mid-level people who couldn’t afford what they were pushed into. The authors say, “Will a debacle like the credit crisis of 2008 ever happen again? Most certainly, because Congress decided against fixing the problem of too-big-to-fail institutions when it had its chance.” (p304)

I asked a friend who is a retired business executive, with far more experience than I in this kind of finance, what his take on the book was. He replied: “The principal author is a New York Times business writer who, I believe, has no ideological ax to grind. However, I think a fair reading of the evidence presented would lay the major blame for the financial crisis on the GSEs, with Jim Johnson of Fannie Mae as the major villain of the piece and Barney Frank, Chris Dodd and Countrywide Mortgage as supporting players. Goldman Sacks gets a special award for selling packages of toxic mortgages to its customers while at the same time shorting the market for these instruments. The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston also had a role in that it issued a flawed report on discrimination in lending which failed to properly assess the credit-worthiness of minority borrowers, thereby providing the basis for the Community Reinvestment Act and, ultimately, the subprime mortgage mess. (Note the same institution recently issued a report on income inequality which supports the contentions of the OWS crowd.) The bottom line: The behavior of Wall Street investment banks and other private sector firms led to the financial meltdown, but their actions were prompted by the policies of the government and the GSEs, and would not have occurred without the pathway to disaster created by the public sector. --Chuck

Worth Reading: A Pair of Threes by Jim Geraghty
A Guest Post, posted from National review with permission. ~Bob.

A Crude Hit to the Recovery
Excerpt: The U.S. economy missed out on creating up to a quarter-million jobs this year because it lacked the infrastructure to capitalize on a rare divergence in global oil prices, a National Journal analysis shows. Simply put, American consumers paid a historically high premium for their gasoline. The economy suffered for it.

Police Arrest More Than 200 in Raid of 'Occupy L.A.' Camp
Excerpt: Los Angeles police said more than 200 people were arrested during a raid of the Occupy Los Angeles encampment early Wednesday. Police Chief Charlie Beck said at a news conference that the arrests were mainly peaceful and there were no injuries.

Britain Orders Immediate Closure of Iranian Embassy in London
Excerpt: Britain's foreign secretary William Hague said Wednesday that the UK was ordering the immediate closure of the Iranian embassy in London and that Britain was closing down its embassy in Tehran.

Who Said Those Embassy-Storming Thugs in Tehran Were ‘Students’?
Excerpt: “By some strange reflex, Western media insisted the attackers were ‘students.’ To Iranians who know better, they were the basij militia, the regime’s first line of defense. These thugs were called out to brutally put down the 2009 Green Revolution, a genuine student-led uprising.” Exactly. (This particular ruse has been working for a long time. They are as much students today as they were in 1979. Ron P)

Yes, Obama Wants to Win - by Daniel Greenfield, Sultan Knish
Excerpt: Yes Obama wants to win and worse still he's on track to win. It doesn't matter how low his ratings are, so long as his opponent's ratings are even worse. This is not a campaign that he has to win by being the better man, he just has to sit there and let the press destroy his opponent.

VIDEO: Allen West: Illegal Immigration is an Invasion
Excerpt: Asked of Congress' role on Immigration, Allen West first consults his handy pocket Constitution, and delivers his response.  

3 Perdue associates indicted
Excerpt: A Wake County grand jury today handed down indictments alleging that a top aide to Gov. Bev Perdue's 2008 campaign schemed to pay a staffer $32,000 for work that was kept off the books in violation of state election laws. The new charges, all felonies, are part of a long-running investigation into Perdue campaign activities that have focused on expenditures that would have triggered election law violations for exceeding the limit on personal donations if they had been reported. (NC Democrat. That was her mistake. In Chicago, we call this type of thing “Tuesday.” ~Bob.)

Lady Thwarts Home Invasion Through Her CCTV : Robbery Fail
Dogs weren’t much help. ~Bob.

How Freedom Group Became the Gun Industry’s Giant
This article provides a complete story about Freedom Group. NRA sent out a notice that SOROS is not involved in this company, which was indicated in various blog articles. Interesting that Nardelli is the acting CEO. Met him years ago. He has not well running companies (Home Depot/Chrysler) since he left GE. At least they have a former USMC Commandant and Supreme Allied Commander sitting on their board. Don’t think black guns have peaked yet. 3 gun matches are becoming very popular, and that style rifle is used. Wouldn't be surprised if they bought Pistol companies like Kel-Tec or maybe Springfield. Doubt that their Remington 1911 pistol will do well. There are too many companies selling quality 1911 pistols. Just like Colt, they need to develop a polymer based pistol to compete with companies like Glock, Springfield and FN. There is a lot of competition for military contracts so Freedom Group has a lot of competition from quality companies like FN, Colt, and H&K. –GBH

'He's Unelectable'
Excerpt: Dennis explains his departure from the Cain Train, admitting that every once in a while, your gut can lead you down the wrong track.

Obama administration rejects Republican states' health law waiver requests
Excerpt: The Obama administration on Monday rejected two states’ requests for waivers from the healthcare reform law. The decision could rekindle the controversy over the waiver process, as the two states that were turned down, Indiana and Louisiana, have Republican governors. GOP leaders at the state level have been extremely critical of the healthcare law and the requirements that it imposes on states. (This will surprise folks who don’t understand The Chicago Way, which is about rewarding friends and punishing those who dare to oppose. ~Bob.)

Study: Under Obamacare, Employers Will Likely Engage In “Targeted Dumping” of Employees…
Excerpt: Minnesota Public Radio reports, “A loophole in the federal health care overhaul would allow many employers to game the system by dumping their sicker employees [into] public health insurance exchanges, according to two University of Minnesota law professors.” Such “targeted dumping” of sicker employees would cause Obamacare’s taxpayer-subsidized exchanges to cost more — potentially far more — than the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has projected. (See, we had to pass the bill to find this out. ~Bob.)

Unreal: Panel repeals CLASS Act by voice vote
Excerpt: Congressional Democrats are in a tough spot after the Obama administration announced last month that it could not make the program work "at this time." They dug in during Tuesday's markup, however, and sought to turn the tables on Republicans. (So let’s review. Obama and the Democrats included the CLASS ACT in Obamacare, claiming that it would produce savings that would make the PP&ACA reduce the deficit. That was short term, as everyone knew that long term it inflated the deficit. But the CBO wasn’t allowed to consider long term and the media carried water for the Democrats on the bill. Now that Obamacare is in place, the administration discovers that even short term the numbers don’t work, and pulls the plug on CLASS. The GOP, eager to take a bite out of Obamacare, offers to repeal it. The Democrats, ever attuned to nuanced symbolism of pretending to help the poor, are opposed both to implementing the CLASS Act and to repealing it. And some people wonder why I predict a fiscal collapse! ~Bob.)

Despite earmark ban, lawmakers try to give money to hundreds of pet projects
Excerpt: Members of the House and the Senate attempted to pack hundreds of special spending provisions into at least 10 bills in the summer and fall, less than a year after congressional leaders declared a moratorium on earmarks, congressional records show. The moratorium, announced last November in the House and in February in the Senate, is a verbal commitment by the Republican leadership to prohibit lawmakers from directing federal funds to handpicked projects and groups in their districts. (They aren’t getting the message. We have an avalanche of debt. ~Bob. “No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.” --Stanislaw Lem.)

Lawmakers propose end to congressional pensions
Excerpt: While vast numbers of the private-sector workforce have seen their pensions vanish over recent decades and find themselves with precarious, market-based 401(k) plans, members of Congress receive both a pension and a quality employer-match plan. According to at least two lawmakers, it’s time for elected officials to join the real world.

A new Newt?
Excerpt: Newt Gingrich isn’t the most likely candidate for a political transformation. He’s been in and out of elected office for more than three decades, building a reputation as a gifted but often undisciplined politician. And yet, a look at Gingrich’s campaign over the past few weeks suggests that the former House speaker is working to correct the mistakes he made earlier in the presidential race, mistakes that led to the departure of almost his entire senior staff in June.

Democrats Bet the Senate on Women
Excerpt: Of the eight open or Republican-held seats Democrats are aggressively contesting, there’s a good chance that a woman will end up as the standard-bearer in at least half. Democrats’ path to holding the Senate winds through Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts, Rep. Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin, Rep. Shelley Berkley in Nevada, and, potentially, Rep. Mazie Hirono in Hawaii. (Just from watching the evening news here in Massachusetts, I can tell you Elizabeth Warren is well financed. For the past few weeks, she’s been running 60-second commercials during the news reports at 6 and 11. And, the election is still more than 11 months away. About the only good news is she has tied the OWS Occupiers around her neck like an albatross, and eventually the Occupiers will learn she was one of the architects of the bank bailout in 2009. I wonder how she will claim credit both for being “against big banks” and for bailing them out, but no doubt she’ll find a way. --Ron P.)

Radical Chic Catastrophes: When Romanticism Trumps Reason
Excerpt: All of these reflections come as a result of the open revival of the far left in the West, and especially in America. In recent years, the far left has prospered by pretending to be liberal. All of the dreams in the 1930s about infiltrating liberal organizations and taking over the Democratic Party have now come true.

Stop Obama's Big Union Onslaught
Excerpt: What does it take to bring an airline to its knees? Uncompetitive union-negotiated labor contracts and a fundamental unwillingness to recognize that in a down economy, unions have a hard time raising wages without destroying jobs. That was a lesson that unions refused to learn in the case of American Airlines, which yesterday announced that it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, making it the last large U.S. full-fare airline to seek court protection from creditors.

Excerpt: The conventional wisdom in health policy is that the United States spends far more than any other country and enjoys mediocre health outcomes. This judgment is repeated so often and so forcefully that you will almost never see it questioned. And yet it may not be true. Indeed, the reverse may be true. We may be spending less and getting more.

Pakistan, Russia and the Threat to the Afghan War
Excerpt: Days after the Pakistanis closed their borders to the passage of fuel and supplies for the NATO-led war effort in Afghanistan, for very different reasons the Russians threatened to close the alternative Russia-controlled Northern Distribution Network (NDN). The dual threats are significant even if they don’t materialize. If both routes are cut, supplying Western forces operating in Afghanistan becomes impossible. Simply raising the possibility of cutting supply lines forces NATO and the United States to recalculate their position in Afghanistan.

Battleground Wisconsin
Excerpt: “Don’t retreat! Recall!” declared Wisconsin’s Democrats after failing to take back the State senate through a special election this August. Now, backed by their allies in public sector unions, they are trying to heed their own slogan, repurposing their efforts in a bid to recall their principal hate figure, Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

Obama to Blue-Collar America: Adios!
Excerpt: My father was a blue-collar worker and like all “working class” men he voted a straight Democratic ticket.  We lived in a lower middle class neighborhood and pretty much all the men were FDR blue-collar guys. I never took a survey, but I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a Republican within miles of our tenement. That’s how it was back then. Not anymore.

Giving bullies a veto on the First Amendment by Glenn Garvin
Excerpt: Imagine five Jewish kids go to school one day wearing their yarmulkes. The school's numerous skinhead students are furious. At lunch they mill around in the school yard, muttering threats and complaining to the assistant principal that that their political beliefs have been insulted. The assistant principal responds by calling the Jewish kids into his office and ordering them to take off their yarmulkes or go home.

Obama’s Labor Department Looks To Take The ‘Family’ Out of Family Farms
Excerpt: Let’s establish this right out of the gate so as not to confuse issues: It is wrong when corporations use child labor. Forgetting the law for a moment, whether it is here in the U.S. or overseas, children are children, and corporations should not exploit children. Got it? With that said, this is not about corporations, this is about families and farms. More specifically, family farms and the overreach of the federal government. For centuries, even before there was Willie Nelson and FarmAid, farming throughout the world (including here in the United States) has largely been a family affair. That is, parents and their children (when not in school) work from dawn until dusk to put food on the family table, and the tables of others. Recognizing this, when child labor laws were developed in the last century, there was an exemption built in for family farms. Now, however, the concept of the family farm may be getting gutted if the Obama Labor Department has its way.

Senate Votes To Let Military Detain Americans Indefinitely
Excerpt: And when people take up arms against the United States and [are] captured within the United States, why should we not be able to use our military and intelligence community to question that person as to what they know about enemy activity?" Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said. "They should not be read their Miranda Rights. They should not be given a lawyer," Graham said.

How Paulson Gave Hedge Funds Advance Word
Excerpt: Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson stepped off the elevator into the Third Avenue offices of hedge fund Eton Park Capital Management LP in Manhattan. It was July 21, 2008, and market fears were mounting. Four months earlier, Bear Stearns Cos. had sold itself for just $10 a share to JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) Now, amid tumbling home prices and near-record foreclosures, attention was focused on a new source of contagion: Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac, which together had more than $5 trillion in mortgage-backed securities and other debt outstanding, Bloomberg Markets reports in its January issue.

Ending Income Inequality? By Walter E. Williams
Excerpt: Joanne Rowling was a welfare mother in Edinburgh, Scotland. All that has changed. As the writer of the "Harry Potter" novels, having a net worth of $1 billion, she is the world's wealthiest author. More importantly, she's one of those dastardly 1-percenters condemned by the Occupy Wall Streeters and other leftists. How did Rowling become so wealthy and unequal to the rest of us? The entire blame for this social injustice lies at the feet of the world's children and their enabling parents.

The War in Europe by Jeff Carter
Excerpt: Lately, because of the debt crisis in Europe a lot of people are speculating that if we don’t save the Euro, the Europeans will go to war. The concept makes great headlines and sells newspapers. The idea of the Europeans devolving into war like states also injects a little fear for motivation into policy makers and the general public. The idea that if we don’t save the Euro tanks will start rolling over borders conjures up images of the German invasion of the Sudetenland in 1939.

65% Want to End Aid to Pakistan
Excerpt: Hardly any Americans view Pakistan as an ally of the United States and there is strong support for ending all foreign aid to that country. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 65% of Likely Voters want to all military and financial aid to Pakistan. Only 11% want it to continue while 24% are not sure

Bird Flu: Scientists Develop New Strain Of H5N1, Avian Influenza, That Could Kill Millions
Excerpt: It sounds like the setup for a Hollywood thriller: scientists in a lab create a virus as contagious as the flu that kills half of those infected. We're safe as long as the virus remains locked up, but if it escapes or gets into the hands of bioterrorists, it has the potential to become a pandemic and kill millions around the world....  According to New Scientist magazine, researchers in the Netherlands studying H5N1 -- commonly referred to as the bird flu or avian influenza -- have created a strain of the virus that's easily passed between mammals, and it's just as lethal as the original virus. (I suppose I can understand that the creators of this feel a measure of pride at their accomplishment, but to explain publicly how to do it yourself—at home?—is sheer madness. Ron P.)

Excerpt: Unemployment rates have fallen in Alabama amid new legal pressure on companies to comply with a popular immigration reform law. September was the first full month that the reform was in force, and the unemployment rate fell from 9.8 percent in September to 9.3 percent in October, according to a Nov. 18 report from the state government.

SJP's "Dialogue" Goes Nowhere
Excerpt: During a recent event co-sponsored with a liberal Jewish group at George Washington (GW) University, a pro-Palestinian student group unequivocally proved that it is not interested in peaceful coexistence. Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) is a radical student organization with chapters on more than 75 campuses across the country. Since its inception, SJP chapters have campaigned for divestment from Israel, which it categorizes as an apartheid state, and accuses of ethnic cleansing.

Why Not Pay Higher Taxes? by Victor Davis Hanson
Excerpt: The usual liberal complaint against the conservative opposition to higher income taxes is greed and the better-offs’ self-serving reluctance to pay their “fair share.” But while perhaps true in some instances, I don’t think that is an accurate writ against most of those in that now demonized $200,000 and above categories who resent forking over more. Rather, here are a random 12 complaints that I hear from those who become furious about proposed higher income tax rates:

Coptic Christians Living In Egypt Speak Out (VIDEO)

The Climategate email network infrastructure
Excerpt: To send an email to someone on a different email server, the two servers must “talk” to each other. In most cases they do so over the internet. How the clients interact with the servers however, is part of understanding why deleting an email that you sent (or received) is not straight forward. The reason is that an email is never actually “sent” anywhere. Once you write an email it exists on the disk drive of the computer the client software is installed on. Press “send” and it goes….nowhere. It is still there, exactly as it was before you “sent” it. A copy however, has now been sent to the email server you are connected to. (If one of your geeky friends has ever told you to be careful what you email out and you pooh-poohed him/her because you have that neat little “Delete” button, think again. This also explains why FOIA requests for emails are almost always possible to comply with, though time consuming. I wonder how many dirty jokes I’ve forwarded to friends over the years could be dredged up if someone really wanted to see them. Or, that time I called my boss a nasty name in print…. No wonder celebrities’ naked pictures stay on the net forever. --Ron P. Well, there goes my campaign for president. ~Bob.)

It’s the Numbers, Stupid
Excerpt: On Friday at 8:30 a.m., the Bureau of Labor Statistics will release the November unemployment figures. Like many other economic statistics and poll numbers, their impact on 2012 may now seem theoretical or hypothetical. But with the general election less than 12 months away, they are becoming more and more relevant.

Games Muslims Play
Excerpt: Given Islam's violent history and the unfavorable contrast of its oppressive practices against 21st century values, Muslims are hard-pressed to repackage their faith in the modern age. Some of its leading apologists have come to rely on tricks involving semantics and half-truths that are, in turn, repeated by novices and even those outside the faith. This is a document (which we hope to improve on and expand over time) that exposes some of these games and helps truth-seekers find their way through the maze of disingenuous (often blatantly false) claims about Islam and its history. (Not all Muslims, I think, but many terrorist apologists. ~Bob.)

Once a Black Panther, now he hopes to warn Republicans of the Left’s evil plans
Excerpt: Former Black Panther and Leftist activist Brandon Darby told a packed East Orlando Tea Party this week that he left the Black Panthers because basically he loves America. He said he just couldn’t take it anymore when he happened upon a video training session by anarchist leaders showing gullible young men how to make Molotov cocktails to shut down the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis in 2008.

Egypt's Christians try to stem Islamists in vote
Excerpt: Ahead of elections, Egypt's Coptic Church discreetly told followers to vote for an alliance of leftist and liberal parties sponsored by a Christian tycoon. The move by a Church normally wary of inserting itself into politics showed how deeply Egyptian Christians fear that Islamists will come to power. (A devil’s bargain. They are doomed. ~Bob.)

Two different approaches to future energy
An interesting pairing of articles. The following is excerpted from the editor’s comments accompanying the email. Ron P. Excerpt: “Why this uncharacteristic failure on the part of the Californian business wizards? According to energy analyst Andrew McKillop, it is because the Californian business model that produces innovation in communications technology cannot be applied to the much more complex and much larger energy problem. Breakthroughs in energy, he argues, require a different model, based on public-private partnerships that are focused on long-term strategic considerations rather than short-term profit-making. (…) Meanwhile across the pond in down-to-earth Norway, where long-term, strategic, public-private partnerships are the norm rather than the exception, they are steadily plugging away at the humdrum task of producing ever more of the dirty old fossil fuels oil and gas.”

Maryland Spends Millions on Renewable Energy for Just Thousands in Savings
Excerpt: For the past three fiscal years, Maryland residents have been eligible to reap the benefits of a state-run grant program that helps homeowners pay for the purchase and installation of solar energy systems, geothermal heat pumps and small wind turbines. The grant program is part of Maryland's aggressive push to expand the state's renewable energy industry, after lawmakers passed a measure requiring utilities to buy 20 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2022. However, a recent report by the state's energy agency has shown that the costs of the program significantly outweigh the benefits, says the Washington Examiner. According to that agency, Maryland has spent $150 million on clean energy initiatives between fiscal 2009 and fiscal 2011. The state spent $2.3 million last fiscal year on the grant program, but it brought in only $637,000 in savings. (The liberal elites get to feel Green and Fuzzy, and the average Joe gets to pay. ~Bob.)

WH: Obama Undecided on Whether to Impose Regulation Forcing Catholics to Act Against Their Faith
Excerpt: President Barack Obama has not yet decided whether to go forward with a proposed regulation under the health care law he signed last year that would force Catholic individuals and institutions to act against the teachings of the Catholic church. In August, Health and Human Service Secretary Kathleen Sebelius proposed a regulation--that would take affect next fall--that would require all health care plans to cover sterilizations and all FDA-approved contraceptives, including abortifacients. The proposed regulation includes a very narrow religious exemption that does not cover individual Catholics, or Catholic universities, hospitals or charitable institutions. (Off-hand, this sounds like a planted Q & A that will backfire on both Obama and the pro-abortion activists allied to him. Like my ex-wives, they don’t know when to stop selling. The status quo is that abortion is already legal under most circumstances for any who opt for it. That they have to find a willing provider to do it isn’t a national problem needing a national solution. (And, would they really want an UNWILLING doctor to attend them?) Why are we even having this discussion? We’ve historically made religious exemptions in many other areas, being drafted into the military in time of war, for instance. Is someone seriously claiming there is a severe shortage of doctors to provide this service that can only be averted by forcing doctors to act against their consciences? In Liberaland, maybe no one takes their religion very seriously; out here in the real world, we know better. Obama’s “allies” have set him up to fail. Either he offends his base by voiding or amending the regulation—which will cost him donations, support, and votes, weakening him politically—or he offends every Catholic, practicing or not—which costs him donations, support, and votes, weakening him politically. And just who, pray tell, are the Catholics? Hispanics, Irish, Italians, French, and a host of other ethnicities adding up to around 15% of the electorate who mostly vote Democrat. Perhaps he can have the FDA propose a regulation to require every American to eat pork at least twice weekly; that would irritate another 10% of the country and be just as useful. --Ron P.)

Obama's Cloud-Based Transparency
Excerpt: For three years, White House officials have rolled out countless executive orders and initiatives touting open government. Just this week, they unveiled plans to move federal archival records from a paper-based to an electronic system. But behind the scenes, Obama's lawyers systematically have stymied public information requests, carved out crater-sized disclosure loopholes, fought subpoenas on scandals from Fast and Furious to Solyndra, and made routine the holiday document dump.

Excerpt: The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) voted Wednesday to move forward with portions of a controversial union election rule after the board’s lone Republican member showed up to register his opposition. The two Democratic members of the labor board, Chairman Mark Pearce and Craig Becker, voted to advance the proposal, while Brian Hayes, a Republican, voted no.

Joseph Wambaugh solves the great UC Davis pepper-spraying incident
Excerpt: November 27, 2011In light of the terrible financial crisis at our California universities, I feel the need to rescue UC Davis, whose administrators are, according to The Times, negotiating a price with the Kroll security firm in New York for none other than former LAPD Chief Bill Bratton to fly West and tell us what went wrong on the day that students were pepper sprayed. I can save the university a hefty Kroll consulting fee by suggesting that the administrators carefully peruse a few of the newspaper articles of the past week and all will be revealed to them.

Andrew Napolitano’s Mistake: The McCain-Levin amendment does not authorize civil-liberties violations.
Excerpt: I really hope tea-party groups resist taking legal counsel from hysterions such as Fox News’s resident constitutional “expert,” Andrew Napolitano. On Tuesday morning, “the Judge” could be heard on the news railing about the McCain-Levin amendment to the defense-authorization bill (an amendment strongly supported by Senators Lieberman, Graham, Ayotte, and others). Napolitano contended that Congress is proposing to turn the entire globe into a battlefield and give President Obama the authority to have the U.S. armed forces swoop down on American cities and towns, arbitrarily detaining U.S. citizens on the mere say-so that they are enemies of the state. These contentions are absurd.

Obama 101: Few presidents have dashed so many illusions as Obama.
Excerpt: In the last three years, the president has taught us a great deal about America, the world, and himself. Before Obama, many Americans still believed in massive deficit spending, whether as an article of fairness, a means to economic growth, or just a lazy fallback position to justify an out-of-control federal government. But after the failure of a nearly $800 billion “stimulus” program — intended to keep unemployment under 8 percent — no one believes any more that an already indebted government will foster economic growth by taking on another $4 trillion in debt.

National Poll: Gingrich 45% Obama 43%
Excerpt: The Newt Gingrich surge has moved him to the top of the polls in Iowa, big gains in New Hampshire and now a two-point edge over President Obama in a hypothetical general election match-up. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely Voters finds Gingrich attracting 45% of the vote while President Obama earns support from 43%. Six percent (6%) prefer some other candidate, and six percent (6%) are undecided.

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