Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Gas Man

Well, you do have to give him credit for being honest:
“We agree there is great suffering when the price of gasoline increases in the United States, and so we are very concerned about this,” said Chu, speaking to the House Appropriations energy and water subcommittee. “As I have repeatedly said, in the Department of Energy, what we’re trying to do is diversify our energy supply for transportation so that we have cost-effective means.”
....

“But is the overall goal to get our price” of gasoline down, asked Nunnelee.

“No, the overall goal is to decrease our dependency on oil, to build and strengthen our economy,” Chu replied. “We think that if you consider all these energy policies, including energy efficiency, we think that we can go a long way to becoming less dependent on oil and [diversifying] our supply and we’ll help the American economy and the American consumers.”
It's about diversity! It's just too bad it will be paid for at the pump...

The Cheering Section

Why do liberals want higher taxes? Michael Barone gives a possible answer:
Higher tax rates on high earners, even if they produce less revenue, are an attempt to centralize power in government and to limit the autonomy and countervailing power of individuals in the voluntary sector.

Which is why the liberal bloggers cheer them on. And why they eagerly join the Obama White House in demonizing the Koch brothers, who donate large sums to conservative causes. (Disclosure: I have spoken at two Koch conferences and was reimbursed for travel expenses.)

The Obama Democrats don't want their funders like George Soros getting competition from the likes of Charles and David Koch.
Corporate statists don't like it, after all...

Monkee Man

As someone who watched the show when I was younger, this is sad news. Remembering Davy Jones:
That he was short -- at 5-foot-3, he had apprenticed as a jockey -- just made him a more comfortable fit for the daydreams of the little girls who bought Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine and pasted his picture on their walls or in their scrapbooks; he was a pre-teen idol, and the series' designated romantic lead. (If in Marx Brothers terms -- the other great influence on "The Monkees" -- this made him Zeppo, he also got his fair share of comedy to play.)

Still, becoming famous as a version of yourself is a hard legacy to escape. As a performer in subsequent years, Jones was often asked to play Jones: Once a Monkee, always a Monkee. Did this bother him? I don't know. But when there was Monkee business to do, he always showed up smiling.
There are worse ways for a musician/actor to have a legacy. R.I.P.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Lights Out

Crony capitalism doesn't always pay off:
LightSquared CEO Sanjiv Ahuja abruptly announced his resignation Tuesday amid revelations of his company’s political proximity — and his own closeness — to the White House and Obama administration officials.
....

Ahuja, who had never donated to Democrats before and has not since, gave the maximum allowable $30,400 contribution to the Democratic National Committee on the same day his lawyers were trying to arrange a meeting for him at the White House with top Obama technology adviser Aneesh Chopra and other officials.

In emails between Ahuja’s lawyers and White House officials Ahuja wanted to meet with, his lawyers pointed out that he would attend an Obama fundraiser on or about the same day he wanted the meeting.

In a statement accompanying the company’s announcement of Ahuja’s resignation, he made no mention of those revelations.
That would have been kind of embarrassing, wouldn't it?

Mad Money

The Occupiers will soon be raking in big bucks:
A group of business leaders—including Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry's ice cream and former Nirvana manager Danny Goldberg—are planning to pour substantial funds into the Occupy Wall Street movement in hopes of sustaining the protests and fostering political change.

Their goal is to provide some ballast to an amorphous movement that captured the world's attention with nonstop, overnight protests in dozens of cities but has had trouble regaining momentum since most of those encampments were broken up by police in the past few months.

The latest Occupy supporters call themselves the Movement Resource Group and have raised about $300,000 so far to parcel out in grants to protesters, said Mr. Cohen. Their goal is to raise $1.8 million.

A little more than two-thirds was donated by the Ben & Jerry's Foundation and members of the group's steering committee, which includes Dal Lamagna, founder of the company Tweezerman, entertainment-industry executive Richard Foos and Judy Wicks, founder of the White Dog Café in Philadelphia, along with Messrs. Cohen, Greenfield and Goldberg.
Rich hippies giving semi-wealthy hippies money? Welcome to the One Percent!

The Peoples' Choice

At least you know he wouldn't make any campaign gaffes:

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Misfortune Cookie

The Linsanity continues:
Ben & Jerry’s tweeted an apology to anyone who was offended by its new limited-edition Taste the Lin-Sanity frozen yogurt flavor.

The company tweeted, “On behalf of Ben & Jerry’s Boston Scoop Shops, we offer a heartfelt apology if anyone was offended by our handmade Linsanity flavor that we offered at our Harvard Square location. We are proud and honored to have Jeremy Lin hail from one of our fine, local universities, and we are huge sports fans. We were swept up in the nationwide Linsanity momentum. Our intention was to create a flavor to honor Jeremy Lin’s accomplishments and his meteoric rise in the NBA, and recognize that he was a local Harvard graduate. We try to demonstrate our commitment as a Boston-based, valued-led business and if we failed in this instance, we offer our sincere apologies.”
If I were them, I'd apologize for making yogurt instead of ice cream in the first place...

What's Fair Is Fair

So much for class warfare. Most Americans apparently don't want to punish the rich:
Precisely 75 percent said the right level for top earners was 30 percent or below.

The current rate for top earners is 35 percent. Only 4 percent thought it was appropriate to take 40 percent, which is approximately the level that President Obama is seeking from January 2013 onward.

The Hill poll also found that 73 percent of likely voters believe corporations should pay a lower rate than the current 35 percent, as both the White House and Republicans push plans to lower rates.

The new data seem to run counter to several polls that have found support for raising taxes on high-income earners. In an Associated Press-GfK poll released Friday, 65 percent said they favored President Obama’s “Buffett Rule” that millionaires should pay at least 30 percent of their income. And a Pew poll conducted in June found 66 percent of adults favored raising taxes on those making more than $250,000 as a way to tackle the deficit.
You'd think those other polls were skewed, or something...

Silence At The Top

They told me that if Republicans ran, we'd have a President who used the law to silence his critics, and they were right!
In case after case, the Espionage Act has been deployed as a kind of ad hoc Official Secrets Act, which is not a law that has ever found traction in America, a place where the people’s right to know is viewed as superseding the government’s right to hide its business.

In the most recent case, John Kiriakou, a former C.I.A. officer who became a Democratic staff member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was charged under the Espionage Act with leaking information to journalists about other C.I.A. officers, some of whom were involved in the agency’s interrogation program, which included waterboarding.

For those of you keeping score, none of the individuals who engaged in or authorized the waterboarding of terror suspects have been prosecuted, but Mr. Kiriakou is in federal cross hairs, accused of talking to journalists and news organizations, including The New York Times.
First, they came for the whistleblowers...

Reaping The Rewards

They say that history is written by the winners, and they can get rewarded for it, as well:
Consider the case of Aurora Health Care, a Wisconsin organization, like Epic. Judy Murphy, formerly a vice president of information services at Aurora, now the deputy national coordinator for programs and policy at HHS’s Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT—and like Faulkner, a member of the Health IT Policy Committee—also wanted to delay the implementation of Stage 2 criteria. Aurora was working to attest to Stage 1 criteria with another vendor, but providers must use certified electronic health records (EHR) technology for a full year before applying for Stage 2 stimulus fund payments. Curiously enough, in October of 2010, Aurora announced that it was going to switch to Epic as a vendor, but that the switch would take place over a three-year period, at least.

If it takes three years from Aurora’s announcement that it will switch to Epic, then the switch won’t be completed until 2013. Once the switch takes place, Aurora will have Epic as a vendor for one year until 2014, when the delayed implementation of Stage 2 criteria is now supposed to occur . . . at Faulkner’s recommendation. This means that Aurora will qualify for stimulus fund payments, while Epic gets to have a new customer. Both companies get rich.
Of course, according to the Obama administration, this would be an economic success story...

Wide Asleep

Just a reminder of what listening to endless monotony is like:



“Americans are tired of being tired,” Joe Biden said. “It’s clear that the American people have decided it’s time to get up. They’re tired of being told that we’re in a long, slow drift.”

The Other John Hinckley

Don't you realize, he's an artist:
The man who tried to kill President Ronald Reagan more than 30 years ago said he would like to be known as something other than a would-be assassin.

John Hinckley made the statement to a doctor who interviewed him in the past year at a Washington mental hospital. The statement and other pieces of information about Hinckley’s life are part of hundreds of pages of documents prepared for court hearings in Hinckley’s case.
....

A doctor who testified for the government noted in his 80-page report that Hinckley regrets not being able to show or sell the paintings he does, most of them landscapes.

“I would like to be known as something other than the would-be assassin,” Hinckley said.

Another doctor reported that around the time Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in January 2011, Hinckley commented: “Wow. Is that how people see me?” Then he vented frustration about being unable to change the public’s perception.

“I don’t have a microphone in my hand. I don’t have the video camera. So no one can hear my music. No one can see my art. I have these other aspects of my life that no one knows about. I’m an artist. I’m a musician. Nobody knows that. They just see me as the guy who tried to kill Reagan,” he said.
Yes, it's terrible to be known for being totally insane, isn't it?

Hooray For Holly-Old

The Oscars literally showed their age:
The whole night looked like an AARP pep rally, starting with an introduction by Morgan Freeman, who was followed by Billy Crystal, returning to host his ninth Oscar ceremony. And age was his theme of the night. He did his usual comic medley of movie moments, including a sketch with George Clooney in “The Descendants,” urging Mr. Crystal to host the show. He promised “the youngest, hippest writers in town” and the camera panned to a group of drooping, old white men from the film “Moneyball.”
....

Similarly, Christopher Plummer, 82, won for the supporting actor award for playing an gay father in “Beginners.” That character, too, is shown through the prism of a straight leading man, Ewan McGregor. The industry congratulates itself on its big, progressive heart but it’s the progressivism of a 62-year-old white man — the median age of Academy voters, according to a study by The Los Angeles Times.

Even “The Artist,” which seems so fresh, works as a fantasy for older Hollywood men — a star facing decline finds new vigor from the love of a younger, trophy wife.
Hollywood does seem increasingly haunted by its past these days.

Growth Patterns

How the beast gets fed:
As the following animation from the NYT so vividly shows, government benefits across the US have nearly tripled from a modest 7.8% of all personal income in 1969 to a 'European' 17.6% in 2009. And this before Obama went to town (as a reminder total debt has risen by over $4 trillion under Obama - a significant portion of that has gone to fund social welfare). Thus, we are confident that as of this writing, the government accounts for at least 20% and possibly as high as a quarter of all personal income. One can use any word to describe that transition depending on one's personal political preferences, except for one: "sustainable."
Short-term thinking eventually leads to long-term disaster...

Cash Cutoff

G20 to Europe: You're on your own:
A communique agreed by G20 finance ministers in Mexico City last night said a decision by eurozone leaders to boost their own firewall was "essential" before any more external resources were allocated via the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

"Euro area countries will reassess the strength of their support facilities in March. This will provide an essential input in our ongoing consideration to mobilise resources to the IMF," the official said, quoting from the draft.

George Osborne, the Chancellor, said: "The rest of the world will only consider extra resources for the IMF once the eurozone themselves contribute more to supporting their own currency. We have to see the colour of the eurozone's money first – and, quite frankly, that hasn't happened. Until it does, there's no question of extra IMF money from Britain or probably anyone else."

G20 finance ministers did agree that any extra IMF funding would come via bi-lateral loans. Christine Lagarde, managing director of the IMF, added: "G20 countries must now strengthen resilience to further shocks that could result from still fragile financial systems, high public and private debt, and higher world oil prices."
Don't tell the Spaniards, they're already mad.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Flat Broke

Well, this is good news:
In a stark warning ahead of next month’s Budget, the Chancellor said there was little the Coalition could do to stimulate the economy.

Mr Osborne made it clear that due to the parlous state of the public finances the best hope for economic growth was to encourage businesses to flourish and hire more workers.

“The British Government has run out of money because all the money was spent in the good years,” the Chancellor said. “The money and the investment and the jobs need to come from the private sector.”

Mr Osborne’s bleak assessment echoes that of Liam Byrne, the former chief secretary to the Treasury, who bluntly joked that Labour had left Britain broke when he exited the Government in 2010.
Over here, our liberals seem intent on doing the same thing...

Ashes To Ashes

Ryan Seacrest meets Sacha Baron Cohen on the red carpet:

Drinking Games

Utah has come up with a unique solution to a sticky situation:
In a state where drinking is a discouraged pastime, one lawmaker is pushing a bill that would require the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission to include at least two drinking members.

The proposal by Democratic state Rep. Brian Doughty doesn't specify how frequently or heavily one would have to imbibe to qualify. The bill states the resident drinkers must "for at least one year before being appointed and during their term, be consumers" of alcohol.

And they'll have to sign an affidavit attesting to that.

The sponsor isn't looking for alcoholics. He testified that he just wants consumers of the product to have "representation" on the commission.

"This just ensures that we have a voice from those that we are regulating," Doughty said.
Who says governments don't listen?

Reviewing The Reviewers

This is why lawyers get a bad reputation:
A Florida lawyer unhappy with poor reviews posted in an online attorney review site is threatening legal action to shutter the LawyerRatingz.com site.

In response to the threatened legal action, the Electronic Frontier Foundation asked a federal judge Thursday to declare the website immune from any threatened legal action on the matter. The EFF contends that, even if third-party comments about attorneys are defamatory, federal law immunizes the Sunnyvale-based website from being sued for the speech of its users. . . . The EFF, in a complaint filed in San Francisco federal court, said LawyerRatingz.com is protected by the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which says “interactive computer services” cannot be “treated as the publisher or speaker of any information” provided by a third party.
In other words, get over yourself, sir.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Meet Your Constituents

What happened when one Congresscritter did:
Even though Hochul's town hall meeting was open to any topic, the large crowd focused on the contraception coverage issue.

When Hochul spoke in support of the President, the crowd booed. Many in the audience carried signs, including one that read: "Kathy why have you betrayed our Catholic institutions?" One woman in the crowd told Hochul: "This President has lied to us repeatedly when he proclaims support for conscience protection in his infamous speech at Notre Dame as well as in the executive order he signed following passage of the health care law. He is not worthy of your support in this matter." Another man shouted "It's an insult to the Catholics in this country to even listen to that gibberish. It is an absolute insult and Catholics deserve better. We were taking care of this country's sick long before the government got involved in it."
People are still upset about this, it seems.

A Passage To Protest

Imperialism, environmentalist style:
The Indian prime minister has blamed US non-governmental organisations for the delay in commissioning the Koodankulam nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu state.

Manmohan Singh told the prestigious Science journal that these groups did not appreciate India's growing energy requirements.

The plant has been stalled by protests from local people over safety concerns.

Mr Singh also blamed US and Scandinavian groups for opposing genetically modified crops in India.
....

Referring to a 2010 government decision to defer the commercial cultivation of the genetically modified vegetable BT brinjal, Mr Singh said biotechnology had enormous potential and India must make use of it to increase agricultural produce.

"But there are controversies. There are NGOs, often funded from the United States and the Scandinavian countries, which are not fully appreciative of the development challenges that our country faces."
The new imperialists appreciate them. They just don't want you to solve them except on their terms.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Volunteers

In tough times, the volunteer spirit isthriving:
According to a Volunteering in America study, last year 63 million Americans volunteered more than eight billion hours. When you calculate average wages and benefits for city employees, local governments saved $173 billion.

In many places churches are leading the way. “We’re at a time when, as citizens we need to be giving ourselves away freely to serve our communities,” says Dave Edler, pastor at Yakima’s Foursquare Church which held a park cleanup with several hundred volunteers recently.

But not everyone is thrilled about the civic spirit. Some unions are pushing back, fearing volunteers are cutting into their territory. “They’re eroding the number of hours for our people,” says Ian Gordon of Laborer’s Union 1239 in Seattle. “It’s of great concern that they might be doing further work that we would normally do.”

Gordon’s union represent 900 city employees, nearly half of them maintenance workers in the Parks Department, which cut staff by 14 percent. He’s met with city officials over the volunteer issue and insisted on a significant roadblock. Volunteers are not allowed to drive work trucks or use power equipment of any kind. No lawnmowers, no weed whackers, no leaf blowers.

Len Gilroy of the Reason Institute says it’s about protecting their turf. “Unions see a threat to jobs and lavish benefits that they’ve secured for their employees,” says Gilroy.
They're only doing the jobs that unionized workers sometimes won't do unless they get extra money...

DOMA For The Defense

Never mind the economy or Iran, the Republicans have a real issue to deal with:
House GOP leaders are appealing a federal court’s decision on Thursday that found a section of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to be unconstitutional.

The action by the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, which moved on behalf of GOP leaders, will send the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, which earlier this month ruled against a ban on gay marriage in California.

Democrats are not supporting the appeal. “The Democratic leader and the Democratic whip decline to support the filing of this notice of appeal,” the notice read.

George W. Bush appointee Judge Jeffrey White found the DOMA unconstitutional in the Golinski v. Office of Personnel Management decision. He wrote that it was unconstitutional to offer healthcare benefits to heterosexual couples while denying the same benefits to same-sex couples.
Regardless of the merits of their argument, do Boehner and company really think this will go anywhere in the 9th Circuit, of all places?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Unshared Sacrifice

Share as I say, not as I don't:
First Lady Michelle Obama delivered a vigorous defense of her husband’s administration to about 300 supporters at a fundraising at a downtown Cincinnati hotel Thursday afternoon, saying President Obama’s work “is not done.”

“If any family in this country is struggling, we can not be satisfied with our own families’ good fortune," said the First Lady, who spoke before an audience at the Westin Hotel who had paid anywhere from $250 to $10,000 for the mid-day event.

Mrs. Obama spoke for nearly half an hour to the people in the ballroom. Before that, she appeared at a private reception with big donors where attendees had an opportunity to have their picture taken with the First Lady.

Mr. Obama, dressed in a sleeveless black dress, was introduced by Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory, who called her “a woman of poise, a woman of elegance, a woman of grace, and, I would say, a woman of intelligence.”

Her speech was largely devoted to reciting the accomplishments of the Obama administration and telling the crowd that her husband – raised by a single parent, with the help of his grandmother – understands the problems of struggling families “because he has lived them.”

“Who do we want to be?,’’ Mrs. Obama asked. “Will we be a country where success is limited to a few at the top? This country is strongest when we are all better off.”
Well, the people in her audience would certainly know what she was talking about, wouldn't they?

Naked Aggression

Jake Tapper shows how tough journalism is supposed to work:
TAPPER: The White House keeps praising these journalists who are — who’ve been killed –

CARNEY: I don’t know about “keep” — I think -

TAPPER: You’ve done it, Vice President Biden did it in a statement. How does that square with the fact that this administration has been so aggressively trying to stop aggressive journalism in the United States by using the Espionage Act to take whistleblowers to court?

You’re — currently I think that you’ve invoked it the sixth time, and before the Obama administration, it had only been used three times in history. You’re — this is the sixth time you’re suing a CIA officer for allegedly providing information in 2009 about CIA torture. Certainly that’s something that’s in the public interest of the United States. The administration is taking this person to court. There just seems to be disconnect here. You want aggressive journalism abroad; you just don’t want it in the United States.
As they say, you should watch the video-but for an administration used to softball questions from the media, this must have been an attention-getter.

In The Village

How well are all those cameras working out for Britain? Apparently not so good:
Privacy activists are worried that Britain will become the bleak totalitarian society George Orwell painted in his classic novel “1984,” where citizens were spied on and personal freedom sacrificed for the benefit of an all-powerful state.

“We are sleepwalking into a surveillance society where we’re watched from control rooms by anonymous people, says Emma Carr of the BBW. “The worrying thing is that we don’t actually know how many CCTV cameras there are out there."
....

The civil rights group Liberty estimates that the average Londoner is captured on camera around 300 times a day while BBW claims Britain has 20 percent of the world’s CCTV cameras and only 1 percent of the world’s population.

There is a perception that the cameras reduce the crime rate, but there is no evidence for that, say activists. “The Met police have said that in 2008, only one crime was solved for every 1,000 CCTV cameras,” says Carr.
Of course, some are fine with this:
“I’ve never really thought about them,” says Jane Taylor who commutes this route to work. “They’re not particularly obtrusive and I think it’s a good thing especially at night to think someone is keeping an eye on things.”

Nadine Shah, a bank worker, agrees. “If you’re not doing anything wrong, you’ve got nothing to worry about have you? If they deter crime and help the police I don’t see that being a problem. People say it’s like ‘1984’ but it’s a long way from that.”
Until it happens to you, that is...

Guitar Men

So, what happened with that infamous Gibson guitar raid?

The Christie Rule

Chris Christie tells Warren Buffett to pay up or shut up:
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who called for the nation’s wealthiest people to pay more taxes, should “just write a check and shut up.”

“I’m tired of hearing about it,” Christie told CNN’s Piers Morgan in an interview that aired last night. “If he wants to give the government more money, he’s got the ability to write a check. Go ahead and write it.”

Christie, a 49-year-old first-term Republican known for a blunt and caustic style, has proposed a 10 percent income-tax cut for every New Jersey resident. Democrats who control the Legislature say his plan would favor the rich. A family with a $50,000 annual income would pay $80 less under his plan, while someone earning $1 million would save $7,200, Democrats say.

Democrats “want you to be angry because your neighbor makes more than you do,” Christie said today at a town-hall meeting in Palisades Park. “That’s not the New Jersey I know, and it’s not the America that I know.”

The required video:

Mountain Man

Via PowerLine, this:
I don’t think most Americans understand how much federal spending and debt have risen during the Obama administration (and even before it, when Democrats took control of Congress in 2007) and are projected to rise in the future under Obama’s budget proposal. These two charts, from the Senate Budget Committee, tell the story in a very simple way. This one shows the federal debt per household from 2000 through 2022; the numbers are actual to the present and thereafter represent the projections in Obama’s FY 2013 budget. Those projections are taken at face value, rosy assumptions and all. Still, the picture is staggering:


Afghan Hound

Wow. I guess he really has turned into Bush after all:


"Afghan demonstrators parade an effigy representing US President Barack Obama as they shout anti-US slogans during a protest against Koran desecration in Jalalabad. At least nine demonstrators were shot dead and dozens wounded in violent protests across Afghanistan over the burning of the Koran at a US-run military base, officials said."

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Dependency By Numbers

What the official unemployment rate really means:
At the end of 2007, Heritage conservatively estimates there were 59.4 million Americans significantly dependent on the government.

By the end of 2010, this number had risen to 67.3 million, an increase of nearly 8 million. It is likely that another two or three million were added in 2011, for a net increase of 10 million to 11 million over the past four years.

It is not a coincidence that the number of people participating in the labor force has comparably declined over the same period.

At the end of 2007, participation in the labor force was 66% of the available working age population, with a labor force of 146.2 million.

By the end of 2011, it was 64%, with a decrease of 5.4 million workers to 140.8 million. The official number of unemployed people rose from 7.7 million at the end of 2007 to 13.1 million at the end of 2011, without any accounting for those who were "too discouraged to look for work."

Nevertheless, as the government has included fewer and fewer people in the category of searching for work, the official unemployment rate continues to fall because both the numerator and the denominator used to make that calculation are losing equal amounts.
According to officialdom, if everybody were out of work and dependent on the government, then the unemployment rate would be zero. Wouldn't that be great?

Course Correction

Remember, it's not propaganda:
Montgomery College is revising plans to offer a summer class on the Occupy Wall Street movement -- geared toward high school students -- after residents complained that the class is promoting the Occupy movement's agenda to students.

The course in question, part of a summer program for students in grades 9 through 12, is called "Occupy MoCo!" (which, coincidentally, is also the Twitter handle of what appears to be a branch of the Occupy movement based in Montgomery County).

The course description asks students if they're "ready to join the movement for justice" and adds that "young people have the power to change their community, their schools, their future."

The Maryland school is the latest to bring Occupy into the classroom. Columbia, Brown and New York universities have similar offerings. But Montgomery College say the course isn't designed to teach teenagers to pick up a placard and pitch tents in a park. Rather, it's a critical look at grassroots social movements through the lens of Occupy, they said.

"It wasn't advocating or taking any stance on the Occupy movement," said Montgomery College spokeswoman Elizabeth Homan. "It's taking a current events subject that all the students have either read about or heard on the news and using it as a pivot point to talk about what's happening historically."
That's funny; I don't seem to recall similar courses about the Tea Party movement being offered...

Son Of Malaise

Welcome to the Change:
Only 22 percent of Americans say they are satisfied with the way things are going. Voters haven't been this unhappy with the country since George H.W. Bush's presidency, when only 21 percent of Americans reported being happy with the country's direction. And before that, the lowest approval rating was 19 percent during Jimmy Carter's first term.

What do the two presidencies have in common? Neither of them won re-election. And, if the trends holds true, Obama looks to be in an equally precarious situation.

The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research released its 2012 campaign outlook, and it's clear Obama's sitting in the same position George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter were in during the February before their election losses—voters don't feel good about the country.
Since liberals are all about feelings, shouldn't Team Obama be worried about this?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Regulators Are Coming

Why the U.S. should be concerned about international efforts to control the Web:
Many countries in the developing world, including India and Brazil, are particularly intrigued by these ideas. Even though Internet-based technologies are improving billions of lives everywhere, some governments feel excluded and want more control.

And let's face it, strong-arm regimes are threatened by popular outcries for political freedom that are empowered by unfettered Internet connectivity. They have formed impressive coalitions, and their efforts have progressed significantly.
....

Any attempts to expand intergovernmental powers over the Internet—no matter how incremental or seemingly innocuous—should be turned back. Modernization and reform can be constructive, but not if the end result is a new global bureaucracy that departs from the multi-stakeholder model. Enlightened nations should draw a line in the sand against new regulations while welcoming reform that could include a nonregulatory role for the ITU.
Some people just can't leave well enough alone...

Pipeline Pipe Dream

Jay Carney says it wasn't their fault:
"But the President didn't turn down the Keystone pipeline. There was a process in place, with long precedent, run out of the State Department because of the issue of the pipeline crossing an international boundary, that required an amount of time for proper for review after an alternate route was deemed necessary through Nebraska at the request of the Republican Governor of Nebraska and other stakeholders in Nebraska and the region that needed to play out, to be done appropriately. You can't review and approve a pipeline, the route for which doesn't even exist.

"The Republicans were the ones who unfortunately decided because they were looking for scalps, I guess, or wins in a situation where they somehow found themselves on the wrong side of cutting taxes for 160 million Americans last December. They decided to play politics with this decision and attack the payroll tax cut extension. Even though it was made clear by the State Department that doing so would make it impossible for them to conduct the review responsibly, they did it anyway knowing what the result would be."
Except that, well, they did. So much for revisionist spin.

Black Gold Rush

Domestic production experiences a boom:
After declining to levels not seen since the 1940s, U.S. crude production began rising again in 2009. Drilling rigs have rushed into the nation's oil fields, suggesting a surge in domestic crude is on the horizon.

The number of rigs in U.S. oil fields has more than quad­rupled in the past three years to 1,272, according to the Baker Hughes rig count. Including those in natural gas fields, the United States now has more rigs at work than the entire rest of the world.

"It's staggering," said Marshall Adkins, who directs energy research for the financial services firm Raymond James. "If we continue growing anywhere near that pace and keep squeezing demand out of the system, that puts you in a world where we are not importing oil in 10 years."
That's assuming President Obama and environmentalists don't screw it up first...

Monday, February 20, 2012

Crazy Nation

Is the economy literally driving people crazy?
With their unemployment-insurance checks running out, some of the country’s long-term jobless are scrambling to fill the gap by filing claims for mental illness and other disabilities with Social Security — a surge that hobbles taxpayers and making the employment rate look healthier than it should as these people drop out of the job statistics.

“It could be because their health really is getting worse from the stress of being out of work,” says Matthew Rutledge, a research economist at Boston College. “Or it could just be desperation — people trying to make ends meet when other safety nets just aren’t there.”

As of January, the federal government was mailing out disability checks to more than 10.5 million individuals, including 2 million to spouses and children of disabled workers, at a cost of record $200 billion a year, recent research from JPMorgan Chase shows.

The sputtering economy has fueled those ranks. Around 5.3 percent of the population between the ages of 25 and 64 is currently collecting federal disability payments, a jump from 4.5 percent since the economy slid into a recession.

Mental-illness claims, in particular, are surging.

During the recent economic boom, only 33 percent of applicants were claiming mental illness, but that figure has jumped to 43 percent, says Rutledge, citing preliminary results from his latest research.
You don't have to be crazy to claim disability, but it helps...

Dented Armor

Another misguided attempt at humor, another apology:
The ESPN editor fired Sunday for using “chink in the armor” in a headline about Knicks phenom Jeremy Lin said the racial slur never crossed his mind – and he was devastated when he realized his mistake.

“This had nothing to do with me being cute or punny,” Anthony Federico told the Daily News…
He said he has used the phrase “at least 100 times” in headlines over the years and thought nothing of it when he slapped it on the Lin story.

Federico called Lin one of his heroes – not just because he’s a big Knicks fan, but because he feels a kinship with a fellow “outspoken Christian.”

“My faith is my life,” he said. “I’d love to tell Jeremy what happened and explain that this was an honest mistake.”
Linsanity will survive. Unfortunately, so will poltically correct overreactions.

By Their Genes You Shall Know Them

Welcome to the 21st century:
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s annual report, released last month, there were 245 genetic-discrimination complaints in fiscal year 2011, up more than 20% from a year earlier. At the same time, the EEOC reported that the “monetary benefits” it helped collect related to genetic discrimination — in damages, back pay and other penalties — jumped more than sixfold, from $80,000 to $500,000.

These numbers will almost certainly increase greatly in coming years. Many people still do not know about their rights under GINA or even what genetic discrimination is. There will also no doubt be more lawyers developing genetic-discrimination practices. But the main reason these claims are likely to rise is that, as biological science advances, there is likely to be even more genetic information available about people. Tests are getting better at identifying those who are predisposed to cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Even though this sort of medical information should remain private, employers and insurance companies will have strong financial incentives to get access to it — and to use it to avoid people who are most likely to get sick.
While I support medical privacy, at the same time employers should have the right to not hire people who could hurt productivity. In the meantime, look for more of this to show up in claims court.

The Academy

For a town that likes to profess its progressive views and liberalism, Hollywood isn't all that diverse:
A Los Angeles Times study found that academy voters are markedly less diverse than the moviegoing public, and even more monolithic than many in the film industry may suspect. Oscar voters are nearly 94% Caucasian and 77% male, The Times found. Blacks are about 2% of the academy, and Latinos are less than 2%.

Oscar voters have a median age of 62, the study showed. People younger than 50 constitute just 14% of the membership.
....

The Times found that some of the academy's 15 branches are almost exclusively white and male. Caucasians currently make up 90% or more of every academy branch except actors, whose roster is 88% white. The academy's executive branch is 98% white, as is its writers branch.
It's a group of older white guys running things. And yet, they complain about how racist conservatives and Republicans are...

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Online Spring

There's an Internet revolt brewing:
A grassroots protest movement erupted last month in Poland and spread quickly across the former Eastern Bloc and beyond. The growing opposition against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, or ACTA, has raised questions about the fate of the treaty, which is important to the governments of the United States and other industrialized economies.

There have been street protests across Eastern Europe, attacks on government websites in the Czech Republic and Poland, even a heartfelt apology from a Slovenian ambassador who signed it and then decried her act as "civic carelessness."

In a region where people remember being spied upon and controlled by oppressive communist regimes, the treaty has provoked fears of a new surveillance regime.

The pact aims to fight intellectual property theft - like fake Gucci handbags and violations of pharmaceutical patents. But it also targets online piracy - illegal downloads of music, films and software - and calls for measures that critics say would bring surveillance of Internet users.

"Most of the people who have gone to the streets are young and don't remember communism themselves, but Polish society as an entity remembers," said Jaroslaw Lipszyc, the president of the Modern Poland Foundation, an organization devoted to education and developing an information society.

"In Poland freedom of speech is of special value, and there is a history of fighting for it."
It sounds like a fight that politicians should be paying attention to here, as well.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Loving The North

Canada, how do we love thee?
Americans may not have been there and may be abysmally ignorant about a next-door neighbor (or neighbour) that is by far its largest trading partner, best friend and closest ally. (Until the last election Harvard grad Barack Obama thought they had a president up there.)

But Gallup finds that a record 96% of Americans are feeling the love for that northern land of toques that's 10% larger than the United States with one-tenth the population. U.S. lovers of Canada are up 4% just in the past year.

In fact, liking Canada is almost unanimous in the 57 states. Only 3% of Americans think unfavorably (or unfavourably) of Canada, and they probably don't even know where it is. (North of everything except Alaska and Detroit.)
Of course, there's a downside (at least from the Canuck POV):
The reason the U.S. affection is bad news for them is because the United States, its loud culture, raucous politics and immense economy loom so large in the life of Canadians that the American presence can be overwhelming, even if accidental. They're best friends, like it or not.

When Americans start paying attention to anything, even if it's positive, they tend to unintentionally smother, crush the bushes and walk all over the flower beds, telling you how really glad they are to be there, you know what I mean? It's as if Randy McQuaid came for the weekend -- and stayed a month.
But hey, at least we are your friends, eh? Or, we would be if a certain Harvard grad didn't diss your oil...

The Lonely Ones

Mike Rappaport on the perils of being a Libertarian:
Libertarians are in a tricky situation. Being neither liberal nor conservative, they must navigate in a world in which they are a small minority. For those in the academy, there is a strong temptation to emphasize the distinction with conservatives, so that they can “pass” for non-conservatives. Back in the day, which I was less conservative than I am now, I was invited to a wedding of a guy I knew in law school. His bride admitted to me at the wedding itself, that I would not have been invited, had I been a conservative. A libertarian could pass, but not a conservative.

Libertarians who are in other circles dominated by conservatives — say in Republican politics — have the reverse situation, where they are treated badly by social conservatives. Sadly, the Weekly Standard for many years was quite unfair to libertarians.

I have seen this from different perspectives over the course of my life. In my early years as a libertarian, I equally resisted the conservative and liberal labels. (Hence, I was invited to the wedding.) But over time I came to move a bit to the conservative side, and often was viewed as a conservative — I still am to this very day.

There is, whether we like it or not, a social side to politics, and people — being both social and political animals — respond to both.
You shall know them by their leanings. And if you do, do you cast them out?

Rebranding The Change

Team Obama is trying to figure out what will sell this time around:
Advisers say a fresh slogan to replace the winning "Change we can believe in" mantra of 2008, is unlikely to appear before Obama knows who his Republican opponent will be and starts big campaign travel swings, likely in the spring or summer.

His campaign posters now say simply, "Obama 2012."

But Obama's surrogates have roadtested some slogans in recent months, including "Winning The Future," which the White House used to promote its budget, and "Greater Together," which the campaign has used to brand its youth outreach effort.

A new tagline will have to reflect a new reality.

Obama is no longer a Washington outsider, unemployment is falling but still high, and economic insecurity for many voters is a huge concern that a simple slogan cannot overcome.
....

In his State of the Union address last month, the president also played up the issue of economic fairness, which branding experts said could encapsulate his 2012 pitch.

"Owning 'fairness' is a powerful idea, but getting that idea communicated in a clear, sticky way is very hard," said Allen Adamson, managing director of marketing firm Landor Associates.

"Telling that story is more difficult than telling a 'change' story because you have to define fairness for who, and what's unfair, and why is fairness important. Change was a brutally simple idea."
Maybe that's because when most people hear "Fairness" from Obama, they know they'll be expected to pay for it...

Mourning In America

The entitlement mentality rears its ugly head at...Whitney Houston's funeral:
As three limos pulled out of the funeral home with a police escort fans were pushed away and moved up the street behind barricades. According to CBS 2’s Christine Sloan, that’s when tempers started to flare.

“I’m a taxpayer in the city … born and raised in this city … They should stop treating us like animals. We’re taxpayers … We made this lady who she is today,” resident Floyd Bishop said.

“Cissy Houston should come out and wave to us and say thank you. She shouldn’t have them keep us away. We bought her music. We helped succeed in what she had done over the years,” added Charlene Williams.

“Taxpayers paying for all this, treating us like we’re from the street or something. Make no sense,” resident Shawn Holsted said.
Um, maybe they were keeping you away because you were coming in from the street, uninvited to, you kow, a private service?

Britain's Sacred Cow

The British health system is facing changes:
Prime Minister David Cameron, the Tory MP who heads a coalition government in England, is apparently not a Moore fan: He is working to partially privatize the NHS, beginning a massive outsourcing of medical services to private health care providers throughout the U.K.

Britain’s media, in particular the Washington Post–Huffington Post hybrid The Guardian, is publishing near-panic-attacks alerts daily about the conservative plan, which comes as the British government scales back on entitlement spending, hoping to avoid a Greek-style financial meltdown.

But in the United States, left-wing enthusiasts of socialized medicine don’t seem bothered at the loss of a role model. Many won’t even acknowledge it.

“I handle media and public relations for the Catholic Health Association,” Fred Caesar told The Daily Caller. “We will pass on commenting.” Caesar is special assistant to the president of the CHA, a vocal advocate of President Obama’s health care overhaul.
....

Sally Pipes, an American health policy expert who leads the Pacific Research Institute in San Francisco, told TheDC that President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will likely ignore any changes in U.K. health policy. Their allies in the U.S. media and public policy establishment, she said, would follow suit.

“They are ideologues,” Pipes said. “They don’t care whether the system really works or not. They have an ideological goal in mind.”
And, as such, they'll continue to defend it-even long after it dies.

Big Contribution Country

John McCain will not be pleased:
The Supreme Court on Friday blocked Montana from enforcing state restrictions on corporate political spending while it considers arguments that those restrictions, enacted in the century-old Montana Corrupt Practices Act, were nullified by the 2010 Citizens United ruling.

In Citizens United, the justices voted 5-4 to strike down federal limits on corporate and union electioneering, saying Congress failed to show that its interest in fighting political corruption justified limits on campaign advertising.

....

Montana's early history, the court observed, was pervaded by political corruption underwritten by out-of-state mining interests, prompting a 1912 voter initiative intended to limit "naked corporate manipulation" of state and local government, Montana Chief Justice Mike McGrath wrote. A century later, Montana remains "especially vulnerable to continued efforts of corporate control to the detriment of democracy and the republican form of government," he wrote.

American Tradition Partnership and two corporate co-plaintiffs asked the U.S. Supreme Court to summarily reverse the Montana court, arguing that the state justices had flouted Citizens United and that their ruling threatened "irreparable harm to the Corporations' First Amendment free-speech right."
In other words, a hundred years' worth of reform didn't really work after all. So much for "Reform."

Friday, February 17, 2012

Together They Stand

Well, he did want to bring the country together:
Media pundits have often tried to point out the similarities between the Tea Party and the Occupy movement, in a futile attempt to get the two groups to merge. Unfortunately, the differences were too great, and we have yet to see the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street protesting against the same thing side-by-side at the same protest.

That is, until now.

The unthinkable finally happened last night in San Francisco: the Tea Party shared a protest with the Occupiers, both groups angry with the same person.

And who was this unifier, the only man who can bridge the divide and bring together all sides of the political spectrum? Why, President Obama, of course.
He's a Uniter, not a Divider!

Stepping Aside

It seems some people are a bit nervous about being associated with one of their own:
A half-dozen members of the House Ethics Committee have recused themselves from the troubled investigation of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and been replaced by a new team, a sign that the stalled probe is set to restart.
....

Last year, the committee hired veteran defense lawyer Billy Martin Jr. to conduct an outside review of the probe. In a letter Friday to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), six committee members said Martin had found no evidence of any “actual bias or partiality” by the lawmakers, but they were voluntarily recusing themselves from the case anyway to “eliminate the possibility of questions being raised” and “move this matter forward.”

Waters’s office had not provided comment on the recusal as of this posting.

The lawmakers recusing themselves are Reps. Jo Bonner (R-Ala.), Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.), Michael McCaul (R-Texas), Michael Conaway (R-Texas), Charles Dent (R-Pa.) and Gregg Harper (R-Miss.). Bonner and Sanchez are the chairman and ranking Democrat on the panel, respectively.
The rats have left the ship; new rats wanted...

Hoarders

Meanwhile, on the subject of legal medication:
To prevent hoarding of materials and their potential for theft and illicit use, the Drug Enforcement Agency sets quotas for the chemical precursors to drugs like Adderall. The DEA projects the need for amphetamine salts, then produces and distributes the materials to pharmaceutical companies so that they can produce their drugs. But with the number of prescriptions for Adderall jumping 13 percent in the past year, pharmaceutical companies claim that the quotas are no longer sufficient for supplying Americans with their Adderall. The DEA contends that their quotas do, in fact, meet demands, and that any shortages arise from pharmaceutical companies selectively producing only certain, typically name-brand and more expensive versions of ADHD medications.
Who are the real hoarders-patients, or a government that wants to control the market?

Drug Warrior In Chief

Wait a minute-you mean he wasn't serious?
Back when he was running for president in 2008, Barack Obama insisted that medical marijuana was an issue best left to state and local governments. “I’m not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue,” he vowed, promising an end to the Bush administration’s high-profile raids on providers of medical pot, which is legal in 16 states and the District of Columbia.

But over the past year, the Obama administration has quietly unleashed a multi­agency crackdown on medical cannabis that goes far beyond anything undertaken by George W. Bush.
They told me that if John McCain ran, we'd have...heck, you know the rest.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Old Guys And Gals

Hoo boy. I get his greater point, but this isn't exactly the way to "help" your guy when he's running for President:

Packing Heat

Taking money from an anti-gun group while carrying isn't such a good idea:
Media Matters reportedly took more than $400,000 from the Joyce Foundation specifically earmarked to promote a $600,000 initiative on "gun and public safety issues." At the same time, Media Matters' gun-guarded boss David Brock reportedly obsessed over his own security.

"It doesn't look good," said Fraser Seitel, president of Emerald Partners Communications and a public relations expert who authored the book "Rethinking Reputation."

"But it is a gray area in terms of public relations. Since (Media Matters) is so anti-NRA, to have their members packing heat leaves them open to criticism," he said.

Brock reportedly told confidantes that he feared for his safety and needed hired guns to keep him safe. The District's gun laws are among the strictest in the nation, which raises the question of whether Brock's assistant at times was in violation of its ban on carrying a concealed weapon.

"He had more security than a Third World dictator," one Media Matters employee told The Daily Caller. Brock's guards rarely left Brock's side and even accompanied him to his home in a tony Washington neighborhood where they "stood post" nightly, the source told the DC.
Being paranoid means never having to admit that you're a hypocrite...

Wind Storm

The Federally subsidized wind industry could be in trouble:
An extension of the Wind Production Tax Credit (PTC), a federal incentive allowing for the wind energy industry to remain competitive with traditional forms of energy production, has been left out of a payroll tax cut extension currently making its way through the U.S. House of Representatives.

An earlier version of the highly contentious payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance bill contained the PTC extension, but North American Windpower and other organizations associated with the wind industry reported Wednesday afternoon that a final compromise between congressional democrats and republicans excluded the renewable energy funding — a move that has some in the industry worried.

Mark Parriott, director and general manager of TPI Composites in Newton, has been logging some extra phone minutes in the last 24 hours to area code 202. The local arm of the U.S. wind blade manufacturer is lobbying to persuade Washington lawmakers to pass an extension of the PTC.

“We continue to be concerned as a company and as an industry about the negative effect of an expiring PTC on activity in our industry,” Parriott said in an interview at his Newton office Wednesday.
Supporters are worried. But, as we've seen with solar energy and electric cars, until there's a real market, people just won't see a reason to buy-no matter how much the government would like to force them to.

Yes, We Have No Solution

Well, I guess you have to give Geithner some credit for being honest:



Of course, that's not the real problem:
[A]s Ryan pointed out, the Treasury Secretary, more than anybody, should recognize how problematic it would be for bond investors to lose faith in America’s finances. If they stop buying U.S. bonds, a crisis can hit much sooner than a chart would suggest. Furthermore, virtually every budget expert recognizes that the longer the nation waits to do address its problems, the more drastic the possible solutions have to become.
Maybe they'll have a "definitive" one by then...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

One Man's Tax Is Another's Mandate

I guess it depends on what the meaning of "Tax" is:



Funny, that's not what the DOJ itself said.

Getting Green For Green

This is what crony capitalism looks like:
White House officials stress that staffers and advisers with venture capital ties did not make funding decisions related to these companies. But e-mails released in a congressional probe of Obama’s clean-tech program show that staff and advisers with links to venture firms informally advocated for some of those companies.

David Gold, a venture capitalist and critic of Obama’s investments in clean tech, said that even if staffers had been removed from the final decision-making, they had the kind of inside access to exert subtle influence.

“To believe those quiet conversations don’t happen in the hallways — about a project being in a certain congressman’s district or being associated with a significant presidential donor, is naive,” said Gold, who once worked at the Office of Management and Budget. “When you’re putting this kind of pressure on an organization to make decisions on very big dollars, there’s increased likelihood that political connections will influence things.”

Energy Department spokesman Damien LaVera said the companies won awards based on merit, not political connections. He said the staffers and advisory board members reviewed by the Post had no role in funding decisions, nor did they have any personal financial stake in the companies.
They just reward those that do...

Latino Heat

So, how long before the Left demands that this guy resign?
Jim Messina, who is helming the president's reelection effort, tweeted a line from a column written by The Washington Post's Dana Milbank, in which he argues that Republicans will struggle to attract the Latino vote after coming out against the DREAM immigration reform act.


"Line of the day from WAPO's Dana Milbank: 'The chimichanga? It may be the only thing Republicans have left to offer Latinos,' " Messina tweeted.

But the comments drew rebuke from Republicans, who argued the reference to the deep-fried burrito was culturally insensitive.

"The fact that the campaign manager of President Obama's reelection campaign thinks it's appropriate to disseminate insulting jokes about the Hispanic community is a perfect example of the kind of empty rhetoric that characterizes this White House's so-called outreach to Latinos. We demand that Mr. Messina immediately apologize and we ask that President Obama disavow his campaign manager's ridiculous statement," said Jennifer Sevilla Korn, executive director of the conservative Hispanic Leadership Network, in a statement.
Will there be a liberal double standard here? Remember, only conservatives can be racist...

Devil In Her Heart

Maxine Waters literally demonizes the opposition:

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Revolution Is Teh Gay

Welcome to the New Libya:
A United Nations delegate from Libya’s newly formed government told a human rights panel that gays and other groups threaten “reproduction of the human race,” drawing a stern rebuke from leaders of the international body.
....

The Libyan outburst prompted questions by human rights activists about Libya's reinstatement on the council. The nation was one of 47 represented on the council for a term that was scheduled to end in 2013, but the full body kicked it off the council in March 2011, amid criticism of Qaddafi’s human rights record. Gays were subject to flogging and imprisonment during his regime, according to human rights advocates.

“This is our duty to all the men and women who are hoping and struggling to have their rights respected and who, today, are running the greatest risks,” General Assembly President Joseph Deiss told the body before the vote. “Their hopes must not be dashed.”

But the harsh stance against gays voiced Monday has some critics wondering if the new government ushered in by the so-called Arab Spring is any more tolerant than its predecessor.
Meet the new bigots, same as the old ones?

Is Our Addicts Learning?

Another untimely celebrity death, another lecture:
The nation’s top drug-policy enforcer told CBS that this type of drug use affects a “huge number” of people throughout the country and causes deaths in “very, very high numbers.”

“They’re coming right out of our medicine cabinets and yet these drugs are as addictive and dangerous as any other drug,” he added.

Kerlikowske said that Houston’s struggles with substance abuse highlight the fact that the issue spans all demographics and socioeconomic barriers.


“We can use this a moment to help people understand and remember that there are literally billions of Americans suffering from this problem,” he said.
So much for the lack of availibility. But isn't the real problem here a lack of personal responsibility?

A Political Education

Which is the party that's supposed to hate poor people and their kids, again?
Buried on page 1321 of President Obama's new budget is a sign the White House is ready to play hardball with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).

Fox News has learned the president is trying to zero out funding for the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program, a $60 million program which helps underprivileged children in Washington get vouchers for private schools and has been vehemently opposed by teachers' unions.

The program has been a pet project of Boehner, who even invited some of the kids who benefit to sit in his box at the State of the Union to highlight its effectiveness and undoubtedly make a political point. The program has also won support across the ideological spectrum from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.).

Lieberman told Fox News he's "very disappointed" the president wants to zero out the program but is vowing to fight to keep it alive after more than 700 D.C. families showed up for an event last month to get applications for the next school year.

"I am committed to ensuring that this valuable program gets the support it needs and deserves," said Lieberman.

A Boehner aide said the Speaker is not happy that the White House is reneging on a deal cut last April to re-authorize the program for five years, and the move is "definitely something we noticed" as an effort to take aim at the leader.

A senior administration official downplayed any tension with Boehner. "What we do this year is consistent with our budget proposals of the last three years -- we support funding so the kids now in the program can stay in the program but, otherwise, winding it down."
Because Democrats care about the children-until they're no longer needed for political purposes...

Redistribution, Worldwide

Well, at least he's being honest about "sharing the wealth":

Monday, February 13, 2012

"I've Had It With These Mother&%$#@! Racists On This Mother@#$%&! Campaign!"

Of course he did:
“I voted for Barack because he was black. ’Cuz that’s why other folks vote for other people — because they look like them,” the actor recently told Ebony magazine via Page Six. “That’s American politics, pure and simple. [Obama’s] message didn’t mean [bleep] to me."

Jackson, who skipped the Oscars to campaign for Obama four years ago, expressed his disappointment in the president, complaining that “in the end, he’s a politician."

"I just hoped he would do some of what he said he was gonna do," Jackson said. "I know politicians say [bleep]; they lie. ’Cuz they want to get elected.”

Dropping the N-word many times, Jackson added, “When it comes down to it, they wouldn’t have elected a [bleep]. Because, what’s a [bleep]? A [bleep] is scary. Obama ain’t scary at all. [Bleeps] don’t have beers at the White House. [Bleeps] don’t let some white dude, while you in the middle of a speech, call [him] a liar. A [bleep] would have stopped the meeting right there and said, ‘Who the [bleep] said that?’ I hope Obama gets scary in the next four years, ’cuz he ain’t gotta worry about getting re-elected.”
If guys like Jackson keep opening their mouths, that might change...

Covering For Past Mistakes

Why President Obama's going nowhere fast budget would cost taxpayers even more:
Chief among the problems with Obama’s refinancing ideas is that the budget renews calls for a bank tax as a way to help pay for the latest housing initiative. It is a funding idea that has repeatedly gone nowhere on Capitol Hill and has even worse chances of moving in a divided Congress in an election year.

The proposed fee would generate $61 billion over 10 years. The budget said the fee would help “offset the cost of the President’s new, broad-based mortgage refinancing program which is designed to help homeowners who are still suffering as a result of the financial crisis.”

The big banks are blamed for helping fuel the financial crisis and for benefiting from the 2008’s Troubled Asset Relief Program emergency $700 billion financial bailout, so the fee is envisioned to help make up these costs.

But the administration’s goal of spending all of the $45.6 billion set aside for housing initiatives under TARP will likely drive up the ultimate cost to taxpayers of the TARP program to $68 billion from last year’s projected $48 billion.
For someone who always talks about how he "inherited this mess," he sure seems to love wanting others to pay for it...

Money Talks

In politics, everything is eventual:
iWatch News reports that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Trade Representative Ron Kirk have all expressed their willingness to attend super PAC events, now that the president’s given his sign off for them to appear at Priorities USA Action events.

The shift gives big corporate donors, unions and other wealthy individuals time with policymakers, lawmakers and key administration aides that they haven’t had since McCain-Feingold took effect in 2002.
....

Bush administration ethics lawyer Richard Painter said cabinet secretaries are put in a particularly odd spot from this kind of fundraising.

"They're too powerful, it's too easy to buttonhole them — to get an earmark. They shouldn't be at fundraisers at all," Painter said about Cabinet members.

Administration officials note that the White House has generally put in place tough voluntary ethics rules, including a lobbyist ban and the release of millions of visitor logs — acts that have gone above and beyond the legal disclosure requirements. And the administration has decided not to let the president, vice president, first lady or Dr. Jill Biden participate in super PAC events.

“The president has been unequivocal in his opposition to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and the broken finance campaign system that has resulted from it. The administration supported congressional legislation in 2010 which would have required enhanced disclosures for these fundraising entities – legislation that was ultimately blocked by Republicans. Just this past weekend, the president said more should be done to reduce the influence of money in politics," White House spokesman Eric Schultz said. “Our goal has been to reduce the influence of special interests in Washington – which we’ve done more than any administration in history.”
Until now, I suppose...

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Welfare Revisionism

What the NY Times gets wrong about the safety net:
Social Security and Medicare were sold to America as earned benefit programs, not welfare. It’s the ‘secondary mission’ of middle-class vote-buying — and the Boomers heading into retirement — that accounts for most of this story. The NYT overlooks that the US welfare state contributes to the supposed income inequality problem progressives have been decrying for the past few years. Moreover, compared to other developed countries, the US system is unique only in terms of low upward mobility from the bottom among men (although cross-country comparisons of mobility can be tricky). The left would no doubt argue this means we must have ever-higher taxes and more redistribution, while the right would argue we need lower taxes and less redistribution. However, what seems clear is that the Democrats’ version of the welfare state has been a political boon to Democrats and less beneficial to the poor they claim to champion. Moreover, if the NYT is at least correct that the increase in the safety net is fueling anger at the government, it may be that the political value of the welfare state to Democrats is diminishing as well.
Which may be why they're so desperate to keep it going...

Saturday, February 11, 2012

King Obama

Mark Steyn on Obama's idea of religious freedom:
The president of the United States has decided to go Henry VIII on the Church’s medieval ass. Whatever religious institutions might profess to believe in the matter of “women’s health,” their pre-eminences, jurisdictions, privileges, authorities, and immunities are now subordinate to a one-and-only supreme head on earth determined to repress, redress, restrain, and amend their heresies. One wouldn’t wish to overextend the analogy: For one thing, the Catholic Church in America has been pathetically accommodating of Beltway bigwigs’ ravenous appetite for marital annulments in a way that Pope Clement VII was disinclined to be vis-à-vis the English king and Catherine of Aragon. But where’d all the pandering get them? In essence President Obama has embarked on the same usurpation of church authority as Henry VIII: As his Friday morning faux-compromise confirms, the continued existence of a “faith-based institution” depends on submission to the doctrinal supremacy of the state.
Gee, it's a good thing we don't have one of those crazy fundamentalists in the White House, right? Oh, wait...

Whitney Houston Has Died...

R.I.P.:
Whitney Houston, who reigned as pop music's queen until her majestic voice and regal image were ravaged by drug use, erratic behavior and a tumultuous marriage to singer Bobby Brown, has died. She was 48.

Publicist Kristen Foster said Saturday that the singer had died, but the cause and the location of her death were unknown.

At her peak, Houston the golden girl of the music industry. From the middle 1980s to the late 1990s, she was one of the world's best-selling artists. She wowed audiences with effortless, powerful, and peerless vocals that were rooted in the black church but made palatable to the masses with a pop sheen.

Her success carried her beyond music to movies, where she starred in hits like "The Bodyguard" and "Waiting to Exhale."

She had the perfect voice, and the perfect image: a gorgeous singer who had sex appeal but was never overtly sexual, who maintained perfect poise.
....

But by the end of her career, Houston became a stunning cautionary tale of the toll of drug use. Her album sales plummeted and the hits stopped coming; her once serene image was shattered by a wild demeanor and bizarre public appearances. She confessed to abusing cocaine, marijuana and pills, and her once pristine voice became raspy and hoarse, unable to hit the high notes as she had during her prime.

"The biggest devil is me. I'm either my best friend or my worst enemy," Houston told ABC's Diane Sawyer in an infamous 2002 interview with then-husband Brown by her side.

It was a tragic fall for a superstar who was one of the top-selling artists in pop music history, with more than 55 million records sold in the United States alone.
Indeed, but we can still remember her in her prime:

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Cost Of Compromise

Because somebody's gotta pay:
President Barack Obama's compromise on free birth control coverage left health insurers stuck with the bill, sparking worries over the precedent set by the new policy.

Obama on Friday made insurers responsible for providing free birth control to employees of religious groups, aiming to placate outraged leaders of the Catholic church who oppose contraception and to defuse an election-year landmine.

Free birth control is mandated under Obama's 2010 healthcare law. The administration has exempted houses of worship from the rule, but requires the coverage be made available to employees of religiously affiliated organizations such as hospitals and universities.

Providing free birth control is not expected to hurt profits for the multibillion dollar insurance industry. But insurance companies questioned the principle of making them pay for coverage with no clear way to recoup the expense.
Principle has little to do with making sure a convenient scapegoat is available...

Kim Jong Un-Done

Forget about spies; we've apparently got ninjas:
A team of trained ninja assassins snuck into North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un’s room overnight and assassinated the new leader while he was on a business trip in Beijing — if rumors spreading across microblogging service Twitter and its Chinese counterpart Weibo are to be believed, that is.

The rumors — unsubstantiated by any major news service or government agency — started on the Chinese language Twitter clone earlier today, claiming Jong-Un had been killed in his residence.

“According to reliable sources, North Korean leader [Kim Jong-Un was killed] in Beijing in February 10 2012, at 2 o’clock and 45 minutes. Unknown persons broke into his residence shot and were subsequently shot and killed by the bodyguard,” one Tweet claimed.
Of course it's not true. But wouldn't it be kind of cool if we did have ninjas?

The Arab Winter

One year later: How's that Egyptian revolution working out?
Egypt remains in political turmoil a year after a military council took over from Mubarak, when popular demonstrations forced him to end his 30-year rule.

The Muslim Brotherhood, while not involved in the protests has called for a coalition government to replace the military-appointed one criticized for its handling of soccer violence in Port Said in which at least 74 people were killed.

"The people want the overthrow of the Marshal," activists chanted during the march in Cairo, referring to Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, who heads the army council.
....

Egypt's religious authorities called on unions and youth groups to scrap plans for a wave of strikes aimed at forcing the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) from power, saying the people must show duty to the nation and spare its economy.

Activists ignored the calls, chanting "civil disobedience is legitimate, civil disobedience against poverty and hunger," as some people cheered protesters from their balconies, while others criticized them for snarling traffic.
In the new Egypt, eternal unrest seems to be the new duty...

Rich Man, RIcher Man

What was that about crony capitalism?
Warren Buffett’s stake in Bank of America Corp. increased in value by $154 million after President Obama and the U.S. Justice Department announced a $25 billion foreclosure abuse settlement with the five largest U.S. banks Thursday, records show.
....

This is not the first time Buffett has profited from Obama administration policies. In November 2011, it was reported that President Obama’s two-year postponement of the deadline to determine the future of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline would force North Dakota oil producers to rely more heavily on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad. Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. holding company purchased the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad Corp. in a total package worth $44 billion in 2009.

Buffett has personally contributed $5,000 to Obama this election cycle, while Berkshire Hathaway has contributed $30,800 to the Democratic National Committee.

This summer, Obama will accept the Democratic Party’s 2012 presidential nomination with a speech at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.
He knows who his friends are, after all...

Give Madonna A Chance

No war for...Like a Virgin?
Recent verbal exchanges and remarks concerning alleged Israeli plans to attack Iran’s nuclear program later this year has Israelis scared, and not for the obvious reasons.

In a newly launched Facebook page, Israeli fans of U.S. pop megastar Madonna are pleading Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to hold off any such plans to strike Iran until the Queen of Pop’s planned show in Tel Aviv on May 29.

The group, simply and directly enough, is named: “Bibi don’t start a war with Iran until after Madonna’s show on May 29.”
There will be concerts and rumors of concerts...

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Disregard Last Transmission

The Obama administration apparently doesn't trust its own data:
President Barack Obama will forecast a U.S. unemployment rate averaging 8.9 percent in 2012 in his annual budget on Monday - but before the document was even released a top aide called the projection "stale" and said it should be lower.

"We would certainly lower our forecast of the unemployment rate from the figures that will appear in Monday's budget if we were to do another forecast today," top White House economist Alan Krueger said in an e-mail.

"The forecast of the unemployment rate that will accompany the budget should be considered stale and out of date," wrote Krueger, who is chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

In mid-November, when the economic forecasts were compiled, the nation's latest reported unemployment rate was 9 percent. Last month, the jobless rate dropped to a three-year low of 8.3 percent as employers added 243,000 new jobs.

Because of that, Obama's aides said their previous forecasts are already out of date.

Under pressure to reduce unemployment in an election year, Obama has welcomed a series of monthly reports showing unexpected declines in the unemployment rate.
That's assuming, of course, that the data isn't "Stale..."

The Crazy Years

Heh! There are apparently a lot of crazy people out there:

We Are The World Order

The United Nations just wants to keep the green agenda going:
At a closed-door retreat in a Long Island mansion late last October, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and his topmost aides brainstormed about how the global organization could benefit from a "unique opportunity" to reshape the world, starting with the Rio + 20 Summit on Sustainable Development, which takes place in Brazil in June.

A copy of the confidential minutes of the meeting was obtained by Fox News. According to that document, the 29-member group, known as the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB), discussed bold ambitions that stretch for years beyond the Rio conclave to consolidate a radical new global green economy, promote a spectrum of sweeping new social policies and build an even more important role for U.N. institutions “ to manage the process of globalization better.”
....

At the same time, conference organizer Sha noted, “2012 was not the best year” for driving new environmental bargains, due to the global financial crisis walloping the world’s rich economies, a prevalent “atmosphere of general trust deficit” between the world’s rich and developing countries and that many countries (notably including the U.S.) were holding national elections that left their future policies up in the air.

Those realities had already stymied the latest attempt to forge a multi-trillion-dollar bargain to transfer wealth from rich nations to poor ones in the name of controlling “climate change,” at a meeting last December in Durban, South Africa.
"Control" seems to be the operative word here, as that appears to be what the UN is about these days...

Indian Beer Givers

What do tribes that can't afford to build casinos do for money? This:
An American Indian tribe sued some of the world's largest beer makers Thursday, claiming they knowingly contributed to devastating alcohol-related problems on South Dakota's Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

The Oglala Sioux Tribe of South Dakota said it is demanding $500 million in damages for the cost of health care, social services and child rehabilitation caused by chronic alcoholism on the reservation, which encompasses some of the nation's most impoverished counties.
....

The lawsuit alleges that the beer makers and stores sold to Pine Ridge residents knowing they would smuggle the alcohol into the reservation to drink or resell. The beer makers supplied the stores with "volumes of beer far in excess of an amount that could be sold in compliance with the laws of the state of Nebraska" and the tribe, tribal officials allege in the lawsuit.
There's no question that alcoholism is a big problem on reservations. But there's also something called personal responsibility, which never seems to matter in these types of lawsuits.

No State Left Behind

The Unitary Executive strikes again:
President Obama granted 10 states (Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Tennessee) waivers from the federal government's No Child Left Behind law today. The action will temporarily prevent schools in each states from suffering federal sanctions for not meeting reading and math standards by 2014.

Any time the federal government decreases its role in education should be a good thing. But that is not what Obama is doing.

....

...nothing in federal law grants Obama the power to issue these conditional waivers. He is unilaterally rewriting federal education policy through selective enforcement. The American Enterprise Institute's Frederick Hess tells the Christian Science Monitor: "NCLB, for all its flaws, was crafted by the US Congress … [but] these waivers impose a a raft of new federal requirements that were never endorsed by the legislative branch. Once this administration opens this door, it’s hard to imagine future administrations not building on this precedent."
From the article, a reminder:
It is one thing for an administration to grant waivers to states to respond to unrealistic conditions on the ground or to allow experimentation and innovation. ... The NCLB waiver authority does not grant the secretary of education the right to impose any conditions he considers appropriate on states seeking waivers, nor is there any history of such a wholesale executive branch rewrite of federal law through use of the waiver authority.
It's not about whether or not No Child Left Behind works or not; it's about the misuse and abuse of waivers-again.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Breaking The Silence

A German Green goes against orthodoxy:
He wants to break a taboo. “The climate catastrophe is not occurring,” he writes in his book “Die Kalte Sonne” (The Cold Sun), published by Hoffmann and Campe, which will be in bookstores next week.

He has only given the book to one climatologist, Jochem Marotzke, the director of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, to read prior to its publication. Marotzke’s assessment is clear: Vahrenholt represents the standpoints of climate skeptics. “A number of the hypotheses in the book were refuted long ago,” Marotzke claims, but adds, on a self-critical note, that his profession has neglected to explain that global temperatures will not increase uniformly. Instead, says Marotzke, there could also be phases of stagnation and even minor declines in temperature. “This has exposed us to potential criticism,” says Marotzke.

While books by climate heretics usually receive little attention, it could be different in Vahrenholt’s case. “His fame,” says Marotzke, “will ensure that there will be a debate on the issue.”
The Cult does not look kindly on whistleblowers. We'll see how long he lasts...

The Need For Need

Maybe Newt Gingrich had a point:
The American public's dependence on the federal government shot up 23% in just two years under President Obama, with 67 million now relying on some federal program, according to a newly released study by the Heritage Foundation.

The conservative think tank's annual Index of Dependence on Government tracks money spent on housing, health, welfare, education subsidies and other federal programs that were "traditionally provided to needy people by local organizations and families."

The two-year increase under Obama is the biggest two-year jump since Jimmy Carter was president, the data show.

The rise was driven mainly by increases in housing subsidies, an expansion in Medicaid and changes to the welfare system, along with a sharp rise in food stamps, the study found.
Maybe this is one reason why Obama has gone elsewhere for support...