Monday, April 30, 2012

The Non-Golden Years

It's the era of Change:
The average age at which Americans expect to retire has been steadily creeping up since the mid-1990s, and has now reached 67 years old, according to a new Gallup poll.

That’s up significantly from 1996, when people expected to retire at age 60.

The results are consistent with other recent research into the topic, and show that Americans’ retirement plans have been dealt a significant blow thanks to the recession, financial crisis, high unemployment and housing bust.

Still, younger workers are more optimistic than their older peers.

Gallup’s annual Economy and Personal Finance survey, which was conducted in mid-April, found that people who are currently under age 40 expect to retire at age 65. Those who are 40 and over, and not yet retired, expect to retire at 68.
But hey-maybe they enjoy it...

The Old Guard

How contemporary liberals are stuck in the past:
Twenty-first century progressivism is not aimed at political reform. There is no new effort at racial unity. There is not much realization that we are in a globalized, rapidly changing, high-tech economy or that race and gender are not as they were fifty years ago. Instead, progressivism has become a reactionary return to the 1960s—or even well before. The new regressivism seeks to resurrect the machine ethos of Mayor Daley, the glory green days of the Whole Earth Catalog, the union era of George Meany, Jimmy Hoffa, and Walter Reuther, the racial polarization of the old Black Panther Party and the old Al Sharpton, and a Walter Cronkite, John Chancellor, or Peter Jennings reading to us each evening three slightly different versions of the Truth.
They're living in the past, and it shows.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Land For Losers

What's the latest Occupy gimmick? Taking over a farm and doing everything but actual, you know, farming:
The farm they seized was not a working farm per se, but rather a “research farm” for the University of California, near its Berkeley campus. The only difference between the way the farm used to be (prior to a week ago) and the way it is now is that the Occupiers have transformed what was essentially a well-maintained and important open-air laboratory into a disheveled and ultimately purposeless pretend-farm for trustafarian dropouts.
....

To clarify matters for those not familiar with the area:

The University of California has its main campus in the center of Berkeley, but that’s not the only property it owns. Scattered around the East Bay, the university also owns several other large tracts of land, used for housing, office buildings, research facilities, storage, and so forth. One of these properties, known colloquially as “Albany Village” because it’s in the adjacent small town of Albany, is home to a housing complex for students who are married (and/or who have children) which is called “University Village”; and nearby on the same property is an experimental farm technically known as the “Agricultural Research Fields” but more commonly referred to simply as “the Gill Tract,” named after the Gill family which farmed the land originally.

The Gill Tract, about the size of a city block, is used by researchers and graduate students in UC’s College of Natural Resources to study biology, crop yields, plant diseases and genetics — often with an eye toward ecologically friendly, sustainable and organic practices.
In other words, the university was actually doing something worthwhile with the land, while the hippies are just sort of there, taking up space and ruining other peoples' property. Which is basically what hippies do...

Calling Eric Holder

Eric Holder, in contempt?
House Republicans investigating the Fast and Furious scandal plan to pursue a contempt citation against Attorney General Eric Holder, senior congressional aides told CBS News.

The resolution will accuse Holder and his Justice Department of obstructing the congressional probe into the allegations that the government let thousands of weapons fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.

The citation would attempt to force Holder to turn over tens of thousands of pages of documents related to the probe, which has entered its second year.

For months, congressional Republicans probing ATF's Fast and Furious "Gunwalker" scandal - led by California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, have been investigating a contempt citation. They've worked quietly behind the scenes to build support among fellow Republicans, since it could ultimately face a full House vote.

CBS News has confirmed that House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, was provided a 48-page long draft by Issa, who heads the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

"While there are very legitimate arguments to be made in favor of such an action, no decision has been made to move forward with one by the Speaker or by House Republican leaders," a Republican leadership aide told CBS News.
He certainly hasn't been all that forthcoming in any case...

Amazon Warriors

Amazon scores in its fight against online taxation:
First up, Colorado.
A federal court has thrown out a 2010 Colorado law, which had already been temporarily blocked in federal court last year, meant to spur online retailers like Amazon to collect state sales tax. ‘I conclude that the veil provided by the words of the act and the regulations is too thin to support the conclusion that the act and the regulations regulate in-state and out-of-state retailers even-handedly,’ U.S. District Judge Robert Blackburn wrote in his opinion. The law and the rules to carry it out ‘impose an undue burden on interstate commerce’ and are unconstitutional, the judge wrote.
The story played out pretty much the same way in Illinois.
A Cook County Circuit judge ruled against the state of Illinois in its attempt to tax online sales from out-of-state companies.
Judge Robert Lopez Cepero today ruled that the 2011 law doesn’t pass muster because simply having an affiliated company in the state that makes sales or refers customers to an online retailer doesn’t create enough of a presence, or nexus, for tax purposes.
He also ruled that the Illinois law is unenforceable because of a federal Internet tax moratorium that runs through 2014.
The revenue issue won't go away for the states, of course, but this would seem to be a win for free-market competition, which Amazon has simply been better at.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

To Interpret the Truth

Jay Carney is an honest man (at least according to Jay Carney):
Jay Carney said he never lies in his capacity as White House press secretary at a Friday scholarship lunch hosted by the White House Correspondents’ Association:
JAY CARNEY: So I don’t have these moments of crisis very much. Credibility’s enormously important for press secretaries. All of the predecessors, my living predecessors, I spoke with all of them before I took this job. I knew all of them, already. Whether they served a Republican president or a Democratic one, they all talked about the need to maintain your credibility. Which means, when I go and stand up in front of the podium, in front of the White House press corps, I never lie. I never say something that I know is not true. That means when I don’t know the answer to something, I say I don’t know and I’ll take that question, that means that when I—which is often the case, I know more than I can say—I answer it in a way that is truthful without obviously betraying the things that I can’t say for national security reasons or other reasons. But that’s—it’s a fundamental principle of doing the job that, for the folks who cover a president, they have to have some faith–substantial faith—that while they know I can’t say everything, and those who work for the president can’t say everything, what we are saying is true.
Carney has made a number of questionable statements as press secretary, however.
Truth is fiction, or at least creative spin...

Bloggin' In The Years: 1992

Reporters talk to the man who rescued truck driver Reginald Denny as riots break out in L.A.:

The Savage Savage

What happens when the guy you invite to your school to talk about bullying turns out to be a nutcase?
As many as 100 high school students walked out of a national journalism conference after an anti-bullying speaker began cursing, attacked the Bible and reportedly called those who refused to listen to his rant “pansy asses.”


Savage was supposed to be delivering a speech about anti-bullying at the National High School Journalism Conference sponsored by the Journalism Education Association and the National Scholastic Press Association. But it turned into an episode of Christian-bashing.
Rick Tuttle, the journalism advisor for Sutter Union High School in California, was among several thousand people in the audience. He said they thought the speech was one thing – but it turned into something else.
“I thought this would be about anti-bullying,” Tuttle told Fox news. “It turned into a pointed attack on Christian beliefs.”
Tuttle said a number of his students were offended by Savage’s remarks – and some decided to leave the auditorium.
“It became hostile,” he said. “It felt hostile as we were sitting in the audience – especially towards Christians who espouse beliefs that he was literally taking on.”
While I would agree that there is plenty of BS in religion in general, it seems Savage misrepresented himself here, Video of the walkout can be seen below:

Blind Man's Bluff

Eat your heart out, James Bond:
The dramatic nighttime escape of a blind rights lawyer from extralegal house arrest in his village dealt a major embarrassment to the Chinese government and left the United States, which may be sheltering him, with a new diplomatic quandary as it seeks to improve its fraught relationship with Beijing.

The lawyer, Chen Guangcheng, one of the best-known and most politically savvy Chinese dissidents, evaded security forces surrounding his home this week and, aided by an underground network of human rights activists, secretly made his way about 300 miles to Beijing, where he is believed to have found refuge in the American Embassy, according to advocates and Chinese officials.

An official in the Chinese Ministry of State Security on Friday said that Mr. Chen had reached the United States Embassy, but American officials would not confirm reports that Mr. Chen had found shelter there.

Mr. Chen’s escape represents a significant public relations challenge for the Chinese government, which has sought to relegate him to obscurity, confining him to his home in the remote village of Dongshigu and surrounding him with plainclothes security guards, even though there are no outstanding legal charges against him.
China's not the only ones who seem to have been embarrassed. So who would play him in a movie?

Who Killed California?

Look no further than big government:
Four million more people have left California for other states than have come here from other states in the past two decades, according to demographer Joel Kotkin. The population growth has been coming mainly from immigrants and births from people already living here, but now the USC study shows that immigrants are going elsewhere. A cynic might say that California’s liberal elites have ended the state’s contentious battles over illegal immigration by destroying opportunities here.

Kotkin, an old-time liberal, sees troubling trends. “Basically, if you don’t own a piece of Facebook or Google and you haven’t robbed a bank and don't have rich parents, then your chances of being able to buy a house or raise a family in the Bay Area or in most of coastal California is pretty weak,” he said in a recent Wall Street Journal interview. “The new regime wants to destroy the essential reason why people move to California in order to protect their own lifestyles.” He says the state is run for the benefit of the very rich, the very poor, and public employees.

This is not a healthy society. And the demographic changes point to an aging population. Far from reducing the burdens on the state government, this will increase them. State officials are not building to meet future needs, but they have been squandering future dollars on excessive pay and pension packages for public employees. Look for a coming battle between services for lower-income Californians and retirement benefits for the most powerful special interest group in the state, public employees.
"Animal Farm" comes to mind here. Also the French Revolution, and other metaphors for a place where the very wealthy tell the very poor what they're not allowed to have or achieve.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Speechifying For Dummies

Does Obama talk dumber than Bush did?
The Washington Free Beacon assessed dozens of Obama speeches from different stages of his career using the Flesch-Kincaid method and found that the pattern of simple speeches did not start with his reelection campaign.

Since taking office, Obama has routinely spoken to the American people in a more simplistic manner than his predecessor, George W. Bush.

Obama’s State of the Union addresses peaked at a 10th grade level in 2009 and declined to an eighth-grade level by 2012. Bush, on the other hand, scored consistently above the 10th grade level with his State of the Union addresses, including a high of 11.84 for his 2005 address.

Bush’s appeal for his signature tax cuts was delivered at a higher level of complexity than Obama’s argument for their repeal.

The former president’s June 2001 signing statement was at a 10th grade level, compared with the seventh grade level at which Obama spoke in 2010. Bush’s “Axis of Evil” State of the Union speech, given in 2002 and derided by academic critics as overly simplistic, was delivered a full grade level above Obama’s lauded 2002 “dumb war” oration.
Now, clearly Obama's not a dumb guy. He just thinks everyone below his intellectual level is.

The List

It's the Chicago way:
Richard Nixon's "enemies list" appalled the country for the simple reason that presidents hold a unique trust. Unlike senators or congressmen, presidents alone represent all Americans. Their powers—to jail, to fine, to bankrupt—are also so vast as to require restraint. Any president who targets a private citizen for his politics is de facto engaged in government intimidation and threats. This is why presidents since Nixon have carefully avoided the practice.

Save Mr. Obama, who acknowledges no rules. This past week, one of his campaign websites posted an item entitled "Behind the curtain: A brief history of Romney's donors." In the post, the Obama campaign named and shamed eight private citizens who had donated to his opponent. Describing the givers as all having "less-than-reputable records," the post went on to make the extraordinary accusations that "quite a few" have also been "on the wrong side of the law" and profiting at "the expense of so many Americans."

These are people like Paul Schorr and Sam and Jeffrey Fox, investors who the site outed for the crime of having "outsourced" jobs. T. Martin Fiorentino is scored for his work for a firm that forecloses on homes. Louis Bacon (a hedge-fund manager), Kent Burton (a "lobbyist") and Thomas O'Malley (an energy CEO) stand accused of profiting from oil. Frank VanderSloot, the CEO of a home-products firm, is slimed as a "bitter foe of the gay rights movement."

These are wealthy individuals, to be sure, but private citizens nonetheless. Not one holds elected office. Not one is a criminal. Not one has the barest fraction of the position or the power of the U.S. leader who is publicly assaulting them.

"We don't tolerate presidents or people of high power to do these things," says Theodore Olson, the former U.S. solicitor general. "When you have the power of the presidency—the power of the IRS, the INS, the Justice Department, the DEA, the SEC—what you have effectively done is put these guys' names up on 'Wanted' posters in government offices."
Guilty of supporting the eventual Republican nominee? This is what happens when you bring Chicago style politics to the national level.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

How The Other Half Thinks

A pollster confirms that Obama isn't all that popular with the working class:
McLaughlin handled blue collar and Catholic voters in Pittsburgh on April 3 and Cleveland on March 20. He found that they are very depressed about the economy and feel that their tax dollars are being sucked up by both the rich and those living on government assistance.

During the focus group discussions about debt and spending cuts, many in his group volunteered criticism of the presidential vacations as something that should be cut. Among the lines McLaughlin wrote down was one from a Democratic woman who said, “Michelle Obama spends $1 million to take the kids to Hawaii,” and another who said, “President Obama was the only president to take so many trips.”

The theme, said McLaughlin, is that the first family “is out of touch” with working class voters.

He added that the president’s attack on the rich and GOP presidential challenger Mitt Romney’s wealth is working, but the voters were also lumping in the president’s vacation spending in with the General Services Administration’s Las Vegas scandal and federal spending for those who aren’t looking for work.

“There really wasn’t a real dislike for Romney. It was just that he is too rich. But on the other hand there is a start of resentment of the government,” he said. “What surprised me is that these were Democrats back biting on their own president,” added McLaughlin.
The Hope is long gone, it seems...

Big Brother's Internet

Why the bill that was recently passed in the House is such a bad idea:
Previously, CISPA allowed the government to use information for "cybersecurity" or "national security" purposes. Those purposes have not been limited or removed. Instead, three more valid uses have been added: investigation and prosecution of cybersecurity crime, protection of individuals, and protection of children. Cybersecurity crime is defined as any crime involving network disruption or hacking, plus any violation of the CFAA.

Basically this means CISPA can no longer be called a cybersecurity bill at all. The government would be able to search information it collects under CISPA for the purposes of investigating American citizens with complete immunity from all privacy protections as long as they can claim someone committed a "cybersecurity crime". Basically it says the 4th Amendment does not apply online, at all. Moreover, the government could do whatever it wants with the data as long as it can claim that someone was in danger of bodily harm, or that children were somehow threatened—again, notwithstanding absolutely any other law that would normally limit the government's power.

Somehow, incredibly, this was described as limiting CISPA, but it accomplishes the exact opposite.
To the government, "limiting" is strictly subjective...

The Imperial Apology

Suddenly, comparing yourself to the Roman Empire going after Christians doesn't sound like such a good idea:
The Obama-appointed Environmental Protection Agency official who explained that the agency uses a “crucify them” enforcement philosophy against oil and gas companies apologized for his comments on Wednesday night.

“I apologize to those I have offended and regret my poor choice of words,” Region 6 EPA Administrator Al Armendariz said in a statement provided to The Daily Caller. “It was an offensive and inaccurate way to portray our efforts to address potential violations of our nation’s environmental laws. I am and have always been committed to fair and vigorous enforcement of those laws.”
Of course, it all depends on what they think "fair" is...

Another Day, Another Secret Service Scandal

Not another one:
As the fallout continues from revelations that Secret Service agents took prostitutes back to their hotel in Cartagena, Colombia, just days ahead of President Obama's recent trip there, it appears others may have done the same with strippers in El Salvador in 2011, CBS affiliate KIRO-TV in Seattle reports.

In El Salvador, KIRO-TV reporter Chris Halsne spoke to a U.S. government subcontractor who claims to have accompanied a group of Secret Service agents to a strip club shortly before Mr. Obama's 2011 trip to the country. The subcontractor, who is not named in the KIRO-TV report, claims members of the Secret Service advance team received "sexual favors" in a VIP section of the club. Additionally, the subcontractor said at least two of the agents took escorts back to their hotel.

According to the subcontractor, an agent said they "did this all the time" and "not to worry about it."
Some more on that here.There seem to be a lot of knuckleheads running around loose these days...

The Manchurian Moguls

Oh, my. It looks like some of Obama's friends might be in trouble:
The SEC is investigating at least five Hollywood studios—including 20th Century Fox, Disney, and DreamWorks Animation—for allegedly making illegal payments to Chinese officials, Reuters reported Tuesday.

DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg is the largest donor to the Obama reelection super PAC Priorities USA.

Dreamworks announced in February a $2 billion deal with the Chinese government for the company to build a production studio in Shanghai. The deal came just days after Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping held an extensive meeting with Barack Obama in Washington, followed by the Chinese Vice President’s trip to Los Angeles to meet with Katzenberg.

The deal was part of a larger agreement under which China increased its annual quota of foreign-produced films to 34 from 20 and increased the revenue it allowed foreign studios to keep to 25 percent from 15 percent.

The additional films must use either Imax or 3-D technologies, according to the deal.

At the time of the deal, Katzenberg spokeswoman Jennifer Lin denied to the Free Beacon that there was any collusion between Katzenberg and the Obama administration.

However, the New York Times reported Tuesday that Biden joined Xi in personal negotiations to secure the deal.

Katzenberg and Robert A. Iger, Disney’s chief executive, also helped negotiate, according to the report.
What did they know, and when did they know it?

Changing All The Rules

Team Obama backs down from its war on farm chores:
“The decision to withdraw this rule — including provisions to define the ‘parental exemption’ — was made in response to thousands of comments expressing concerns about the effect of the proposed rules on small family-owned farms,” the Department said in a press release Thursday evening. “To be clear, this regulation will not be pursued for the duration of the Obama administration.” [Translation: "Please, please let's forget about this." -- ed.]
The rule would have dramatically changed what types of chores children under the age of 16 could perform on and around American farms. It would have prohibited them from working with tobacco, operating almost all types of power-driven equipment and being employed to work with raw farm materials.
“Prohibited places of employment would include country grain elevators, grain bins, silos, feed lots, stockyards, livestock exchanges and livestock auctions,” read a press release from last August…
Parents and children who grew up on farms across the country told TheDC that the rule was overprotective and would have prevented kids from learning valuable skills at early ages.
You offend "flyover country" at your own risk...

Taking From Ma And Pa To Pay Paul's Loan

So the Democrats have a plan to help students pay their bills. The problem?
Millions of small, family owned businesses around the country are classified as S-corporations, and would be caught up in this tax net for no reason other than that they are small, and successful. And keep in mind that the profits which are credited to shareholders of S-corporations often remain in the business, funding the salaries of new employees and other investments.

The worst of it is that this a new, permanent tax on small businesses – $9 billion over 10 years according to the CBO - to fund the cost of just one year of the interest rate freeze ($6 billion).
There's no such thing as a free ride, kids...

The Unpopular Crowd

Not surprisingly, government approval is at an all-time low:
Today, just one in three has a favorable view of the federal government — the lowest level in 15 years, according to a Pew survey. The majority of Americans remain satisfied with their local and state governments — 61 percent and 52 percent, respectively — but only 33 percent feel likewise about the federal government.

In 2002, nearly double that figure, 64 percent viewed the federal government favorably, and Americans held their local and state governments in similar esteem, at 67 percent and 62 percent, respectively.

There’s the expected partisan gap: A majority of Democrats, 51 percent, view the Obama-led government favorably, compared with 27 percent of independents and 20 percent of Republicans. During the Bush presidency, a majority of Republicans viewed the federal government favorably, while support for it faded among Democrats.
Who says Obama hasn't been able to bring people together?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Immigrant Song And Dance

You can tell Team Obama has had another bad day in court when Sonya Sotomayor is skeptical:
Justices across the ideological spectrum appeared inclined on Wednesday to uphold a controversial part of Arizona’s aggressive 2010 immigration law, based on their questions at a Supreme Court argument.

“You can see it’s not selling very well,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a member of the court’s liberal wing and its first Hispanic justice, told Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., referring to a central part of his argument against the measure.

Mr. Verrilli, representing the federal government, had urged the court to strike down a provision requiring state law enforcement officials to determine the immigration status of people they stop and suspect are not in the United States legally.
If Obama's lost his own nominee, he's lost the Court?

Crucify, Crucity!

The EPA admits its agenda:

Down On The Farm

Remember, it's for their own good:
A proposal from the Obama administration to prevent children from doing farm chores has drawn plenty of criticism from rural-district members of Congress. But now it’s attracting barbs from farm kids themselves.

The Department of Labor is poised to put the finishing touches on a rule that would apply child-labor laws to children working on family farms, prohibiting them from performing a list of jobs on their own families’ land.

Under the rules, children under 18 could no longer work “in the storing, marketing and transporting of farm product raw materials.”

“Prohibited places of employment,” a Department press release read, “would include country grain elevators, grain bins, silos, feed lots, stockyards, livestock exchanges and livestock auctions.”
....

Rossie Blinson, a 21-year-old college student from Buis Creek, N.C., told The Daily Caller that the federal government’s plan will do far more harm than good.

“The main concern I have is that it would prevent kids from doing 4-H and FFA projects if they’re not at their parents’ house,” said Blinson.

“I started showing sheep when I was four years old. I started with cattle around 8. It’s been very important. I learned a lot of responsibility being a farm kid.”

In Kansas, Cherokee County Farm Bureau president Jeff Clark was out in the field — literally on a tractor — when TheDC reached him. He said if Solis’s regulations are implemented, farming families’ labor losses from their children will only be part of the problem.

“What would be more of a blow,” he said, “is not teaching our kids the values of working on a farm.”
Yes, but values and responsibility don't mix with government bureaucracy...

Made In Japan

How Europe could be facing its own lost decade:
It is true that banks have slowed the pace of credit tightening, but they are nevertheless still tightening. "A banking crisis remains very much in play for much of the region," said David Owen from Jefferies Fixed Income.

The credit squeeze is entirely predictable – and was widely predicted – given that banks must raise their core Tier 1 capital ratios to 9pc by July to meet EU rules, or face nationalisation. (The pro-cyclical folly of this beggars belief: by all means impose higher buffers, but not during a recession, and not by letting banks slash their balance sheets. The US at least forced its banks to raise capital, an entirely different policy since it does not lead to a lending crunch.)

The IMF said last week that Europe’s banks would slash their balance sheets by €2 trillion – or 7pc – by next year. This amounts to an economic shock. The Fund said deleveraging on this scale at a time of sharp fiscal tightening risks a "bad equilibrium".

Indeed it does. It ensures hell for countries containing 200m people, or more. Judging by the rise of Sinn Fein, the Dutch Freedom Party, the Dutch Socialist Party (hard-Left), France’s Front National, and some true fire-breathers in Greece, they victims will not readily put up with this.
Once again-this is what we're supposed to emulate?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Now Or Never-Ever

It's a classic case of politicians doing what they won't do:
It happens all the time that Congressional leaders will trumpet a budget agreement that allegedly saves the taxpayers trillions of dollars–not now, of course, but in the “out years.” But the out years never come. Tax increases are rarely deferred to the out years; they take place now, when it counts. But spending cuts? Never today, always tomorrow.

Purported agreements about what federal spending will be years from now are utterly meaningless. Congressmen will make a deal, brag about the ostensible savings in the press, and then walk away from it the moment our backs are turned, as the Democrats (and a handful of Republicans) did today. A compliant press, always anxious to see federal spending skyrocket–Why? That’s a question for another day–will never blow the whistle. So I don’t want to hear about spending cuts in the out years, or, as in the present case, next year. Spending is either cut right now, or it isn’t cut at all.
The Kabuki theater carries on...

Reverse Migration

So much for the hue and cry over immigration reform:
A new study from the highly esteemed Pew Hispanic Center says the millions of Mexicans who risked their lives crossing the desert to get here to the promised land for a better life have given up on the U.S.
....

Now we know why all the politicians in Washington have finally agreed to beef up security and build a fence along the southern border. They’re desperate to keep all the Mexicans from leaving.

That’s right, who would raise their children and mow their lawns and do all of America’s dirty work if all the Mexicans left?

Authors of the Pew report call the stunning shift in migration patterns historic. Not since the Great Depression, they say, has a shift of this magnitude occurred along the U.S.-Mexico border. Not since the Great Depression?
These days, it looks like everyone is looking for the jobs that Americans now want to do...

The Price Of Fame

An actor's life is not an easy one in the new Egypt:
A court found Egypt’s most popular comic actor guilty on Tuesday of insulting Islam in roles in films mocking religious hypocrisy, alarming liberal-minded artists and intellectuals already anxious about the growing power of Islamists here after the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.

The court fined the actor Adel Imam about $170 and gave him a suspended sentence. Mr. Imam is expected to appeal. Although laws criminalizing insults to Islam or Christianity have been on the books for years, convictions have been relatively rare, especially in the context of popular movies.

Mr. Imam was convicted for performances in the blockbuster films “The Terrorist,” in which he plays a radical Islamist hiding among a moderate, middle-class family, and “Terrorism and Kabab,” in which his character becomes enraged at a lazy civil servant pretending to pray to avoid work.

Mr. Imam’s films routinely use humor to skewer many layers of society.

Heba Morayef, a researcher with Human Rights Watch, said the case was one of several similar ones since Mr. Mubarak’s ouster. “We are seeing a growing number of convictions,” she said, calling it “very, very frightening, if this is considered normal.”
Yeah, and how's that working out for ya?

Not Working For A Living

The disturbing trend of being out of work:
Right now, unemployment is mainly the result of what economists call cyclical factors: during the recession, demand plummeted, and during the recovery consumer spending, government stimulus, and exports haven’t been sufficient to make up the difference. But if high long-term unemployment continues there’s a danger that, sooner or later, cyclical unemployment could become structural unemployment—that is, unemployment that won’t go away once the good times return. The longer people are unemployed, the harder it is for them to find a job (even after you control for skills, education, and so on). Being out of a job can erode people’s confidence and their sense of possibility; and employers, often unfairly, tend to take long-term unemployment as a signal that something is wrong. A more insidious factor is that long-term unemployment can start to erode job skills, making people less employable. One extraordinary study of Swedish workers, for instance, found that there was a strong correlation between time out of work and declining skills: workers who had been out of work for a year saw their relative ability to do something as simple as process and use printed information drop by five percentile points.
Well, liberals did keep saying we should be more like Europe. Are they happy now?

Big Brother Wants To Tweet You

A former British top spy wants the power:
Mr Omand wants a Green Paper to be published on monitoring social media sites and for private industry to link up with the Government to develop analytical tools to monitor developments.

There have been reports to suggest that Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden are using social media to communicate with one another and Mr Omand said that in such circumstances the authorities need to be able to gain access to private accounts.

He added: ‘I don’t know anybody who thinks that it should be ring-fenced and allowed to become a secret space.’

A new report by the think-tank Demos indicates that Twitter and Facebook accounts could be legally accessed by using the Regulatory and Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA).

The act states that warrants are not necessary for ‘directed surveillance’ of a suspect – for example when monitoring a person’s movements – and that the principle could be extended to the internet where investigators were using publicly available information.

However, the former director of GCHQ said it was essential that monitoring was put on a legal footing so that where individuals have put up privacy settings on their social network accounts any monitoring which involves the interception of communications should require a warrant.

However, the former director of GCHQ said it was essential that monitoring was put on a legal footing so that where individuals have put up privacy settings on their social network accounts any monitoring which involves the interception of communications should require a warrant.
Considering how our own government feels about warrantless searches, I'm not that convinced...

Blame Games

Don Lemon commits liberal heresy by daring to hold the President accountable:
LEMON: The agency that protects him under fire. The agency representing the country on the battlefield under fire. The agency that oversees government agencies under fire.

The Secret Service, the GSA, the armed forces. While the president doesn’t directly run these organizations, he is the president and as much as Democrats don’t want to hear it, people like Sarah Palin have a point.

SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER VICE PRESIDENT CANDIDATE: His department — the buck stops with the president, and he’s really got to start cracking down and seeing some heads roll. You know, he’s got to get rid of these people at the head of these agencies.

LEMON: At the head of these agencies. He’s also the head of the economy. He’s in charge of it, yet almost four years later his entire administration is running, still blaming a bad economy on George W. Bush.
....

LEMON: It is true that they inherited the worst economy since the great depression. The research shows it. It does. It shows it. But it’s the same talking points he ran on last time. … So, everyone understands it’s an election year and you need something to hang your hat on. It’s something to hang your hat on. But no one likes a broken record. And at some point you’re going to have to take responsibility for the things that happened on your watch, regardless of what went down or up before you took office. And stop pointing fingers backwards.
Of course, the choir doesn't like this. But somebody on his side had to say it.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Boss Power

Richard Trumka likes to say how he's for the little guy. But as far as he's concerned, it's good to be a union king:
As President of the union, Trumka makes over eight times as much as the average American worker.

According to the Center for Union Facts, Trumka brought home a gross salary of $264,827 in 2010, plus another $18,513 in additional compensation, to represent his union. The union leader has earned well over $200,000 every year since he was promoted to Secretary Treasurer in 2003.

In 2011, Trumka earned $293,750.

According to the recent email from Trumka’s desk, the average American worker makes about $34,000 a year.

The president is also onboard with Trumka’s message. Obama’s union connections are well documented: White House visitor rolls show the godfather of organized labor making some 70 visits to Obama’s White House.

The AFL-CIO is a major contributor to Democrats during election years, spending almost $1 million on the 2010 midterm elections, 93 percent of those donations going to Democratic candidates. In 2008, over a million dollars, a full 91 percent of the $1.3 million the union donated to congressional campaigns, went to filling Capitol Hill with Democrats.
It's good work if you can get it...

The Unilateral One

Obama seems intent on doing things his way:
Branding its unilateral efforts “We Can’t Wait,” a slogan that aides said Mr. Obama coined at that strategy meeting, the White House has rolled out dozens of new policies — on creating jobs for veterans, preventing drug shortages, raising fuel economy standards, curbing domestic violence and more.

Each time, Mr. Obama has emphasized the fact that he is bypassing lawmakers. When he announced a cut in refinancing fees for federally insured mortgages last month, for example, he said: “If Congress refuses to act, I’ve said that I’ll continue to do everything in my power to act without them.”

Aides say many more such moves are coming. Not just a short-term shift in governing style and a re-election strategy, Mr. Obama’s increasingly assertive use of executive action could foreshadow pitched battles over the separation of powers in his second term, should he win and Republicans consolidate their power in Congress.

Many conservatives have denounced Mr. Obama’s new approach. But William G. Howell, a University of Chicago political science professor and author of “Power Without Persuasion: The Politics of Direct Presidential Action,” said Mr. Obama’s use of executive power to advance domestic policies that could not pass Congress was not new historically. Still, he said, because of Mr. Obama’s past as a critic of executive unilateralism, his transformation is remarkable.

“What is surprising is that he is coming around to responding to the incentives that are built into the institution of the presidency,” Mr. Howell said. “Even someone who has studied the Constitution and holds it in high regard — he, too, is going to exercise these unilateral powers because his long-term legacy and his standing in the polls crucially depend upon action.”
Maybe that's why others are so worried...

Rules Are For Suckers

Silly Republicans, you thought they were serious?
When it has suited their purposes, the Democrats have been champions of the Budget Control Act. Thus when House Republicans adopted a budget that would have spent less than the maximums under the BCA, Democrats alleged that the budget “violated” the Act. They thus turned the Budget Control Act on its head, pretending that the maximum spending levels agreed on in the Act–caps–were actually minimums.

Now, with no fanfare and no press coverage, the Democrats are attempting to negate–effectively, to repeal–the Budget Control Act by adopting spending bills that exceed its limits. Harry Reid and his Senate confederates have offered a bill to increase spending on the Post Office, S. 1789. The bill has been scored by the Congressional Budget Office as increasing the federal deficit by $34 billion, and no provision has been made to recoup that money somewhere else in the budget. (Of course, we don’t have a budget because the Democrats in the Senate won’t pass one. But spending could still be cut somewhere else.)
Well, the Democrats have an excuse for that, too...

All The Bias That Fits

Coming from the Times, this is quite an admission:
Many critics view The Times as constitutionally unable to address the election in an unbiased fashion. Like a lot of America, it basked a bit in the warm glow of Mr. Obama’s election in 2008. The company published a book about the country’s first African-American president, “Obama: The Historic Journey.” The Times also published a lengthy portrait of him in its Times Topics section on NYTimes.com, yet there’s nothing of the kind about George W. Bush or his father.

According to a study by the media scholars Stephen J. Farnsworth and S. Robert Lichter, The Times’s coverage of the president’s first year in office was significantly more favorable than its first-year coverage of three predecessors who also brought a new party to power in the White House: George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan.

Writing for the periodical Politics & Policy, the authors were so struck by the findings that they wondered, “Did The Times, perhaps in response to the aggressive efforts by Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal to seize market share, decide to tilt more to the left than it had in the past?”

I strongly doubt that. Based on conversations with Times reporters and editors who cover the campaign and Washington, I think they see themselves as aggressive journalists who don’t play favorites. Still, a strong current of skepticism holds that the paper skews left. Unfortunately, this is exacerbated by collateral factors — for example, political views that creep into nonpolitical coverage.
And, sometimes, in their political coverage...

Some States Are More Equal Than Others

What was that about a culture of corruption?
In Debacle, Norquist and Lott catalog the stunning degree to which Stimulus funds were allocated to the very states that needed them least. For example, richer states got more, not less, Stimulus money. For every additional $1,000 in a state's per-capita income a state received an average $86 more per capita in Stimulus money.

Furthermore, states with high foreclosure rates got less, not more, money. Specifically, for every percentage point increase in a state's foreclosure rate, a state received $217 less per person.

The amounts given to states ranged widely. For example, while Florida only received $553 per capita, the District of Columbia walked away with $3,745 per capita. And as Norquist and Lott reveal, "The patterns early show that the money went to the places the Democrats represented."
They knew who their friends were...

That's The Ticket

Jon Lovitz unloads on Obama (Warning: NSFW!):

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Failure For The Greater Good

Freedom versus failure:

Seeing God

A new generation of doctors looks at getting high while you die:
Grob and his colleagues are part of a resurgence of scientific interest in the healing power of psychedelics. Michael Mithoefer, for instance, has shown that MDMA is an effective treatment for severe P.T.S.D. Halpern has examined case studies of people with cluster headaches who took LSD and reported their symptoms greatly diminished. And psychedelics have been recently examined as treatment for alcoholism and other addictions.

Despite the promise of these investigations, Grob and other end-of-life researchers are careful about the image they cultivate, distancing themselves as much as possible from the 1960s, when psychedelics were embraced by many and used in a host of controversial studies, most famously the psilocybin project run by Timothy Leary. Grob described the rampant drug use that characterized the ’60s as “out of control” and said of his and others’ current research, “We are trying to stay under the radar. We want to be anti-Leary.” Halpern agreed. “We are serious sober scientists,” he told me.
This time around, anyway...

One Man's Scandal

...Is another party's political opportunity:
CROWLEY: Let me ask you in the broader sense, so you have got the GSA, you've got the Secret Service scandals, you had sort of an ongoing thing about government money that was given to Solyndra, solar power company that went bankrupt and how they got the backing that they did. You've had Fast and Furious, the ATF scandal that Eric Holder has been working on.

Do you think that the totality of that hurts the president?

AXELROD: Do I think that the GSA problem is concerning? Yes. And the president was furious when he learned of it. Obviously we've revamped the whole operation as a result of it. But is it emblematic of our administration? Absolutely not.

Candy, we've imposed new strictures relative to waste and inefficiency and fraud that have saved tens of billions of dollars on travel, on printing, on leases, on fraud.

Our Medicare, our health care fraud unit over at the Justice Department and in HHS has recovered over $10 billion. Those prosecutions are up 70 percent. We are saving taxpayers money all the time.

CROWLEY: To the extent that this is -- that these are scandals as we see them in Washington, do you think -- and we've had -- I want to play quickly for you, this is Jeff Sessions, a Republican, and what he had to say. He was talking specifically about GSA and the Secret Service.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS, R-ALA.: I don't sense that this president is showing that kind of managerial leadership.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: So if you take this, is it fair to say, listen, the president is the guy in charge?

AXELROD: People will judge him based on his record. I think in your own poll he had a big edge in strong and decisive on all those leadership qualities. Part of it is we've been through some big things. We ended a war. We dealt with an oil leak of epic proportions. We've brought bin Laden to justice -- we've been involved in a lot of things that required very strong management, very strong leadership, very strong coordination and oversight. And I think people will judge him on the totality, not these transient stories.

CROWLEY: If this were happening in a Republican administration, would you be one of the first guys out there going hey, this guy is in charge.

AXELROD: Maybe, although I must say that the stories that stick are the ones that are really emblematic and reflective of an administration. These are not.
Then why are they sticking? Must be part of the Republicans' reign of terror...

Le Republic

Over in France, Sarkozy appears to be in trouble. But it's not just about him:
Final polls showed Hollande narrowly ahead of conservative Sarkozy for Sunday's first round and comfortably winning the May 6 runoff to become France's first Socialist president since Francois Mitterrand left office in 1995.

The prospect of record abstention loomed over Sunday's ballot, with many people complaining that none of the candidates appealed to them.

Under the banner "They Don't Represent Us", hundreds of young demonstrators marched through Paris.

"Not one of the candidate appears credible to me. Politics is controlled by finance," Duncan, a 19-year-old student, told Reuters as the protest converged on the stock exchange.

On the otherwise quiet streets of the capital, many passersby expressed frustration that mainstream candidates had not focused on the main challenges facing the euro zone's second largest economy, such as unemployment running at a 12-year high.

"The campaign has not been serious enough. The important issues have not been discussed," said Frederic Le Fevre, a self-employed businessman. "They've focused on childish arguments, throwing blame at each other."

Candidates argued for weeks about halal meat and the cost of a driving license. Even the leading contenders tried to win the limelight with largely symbolic proposals, like Hollande's plan to scrap the word "race" from the constitution and Sarkozy's offer to bring monthly pension payments forward by eight days.
They say they don't want to be like us uncouth Americans, yet they are...

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Plastic Parade

The war on women has apparently reached new, er, lows:
The new “LEGO Friends” rolled out in December featuring LadyFigs, curvier takeoffs on the traditional boxy LEGO men. Construction sets include a hot tub, a splash pool, a beauty parlor, an outdoor bakery and a “cool convertible," as well as an inventor's workshop.

But the SPARK Movement objects to the "LadyFigs," the female version of the little figures who man the spaceships, trucks and forts children create. "Ladyfigs" are somewhat anatomically correct, which hypersexualizes girls, according to the group.

"They have little breasts and they have fancy hair," the organization's executive director, Dana Edell, told FoxNews.com. "And it just disturbs us that this is the image that they want girls to see."

Edell also objects to what she calls stereotyping of preferred pastimes for girls.

"What it's doing is telling girls that this is what's important to you," Edell said of the beauty parlor and hot tub sets. "Girls aren't building space shuttles, they're getting their nails done."

But not everyone thinks LEGOs for girls should have parents ready to snap.

Dr. Leonard Sax, author of "Why Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know About the Emerging Science of Sex Differences," said gender differences are natural, and that while some girls may prefer traditional LEGOs, there is nothing wrong with the company offering what it sees as a girl-friendly version.

According to Sax, even animals in the wild show differences along gender lines from the earliest ages.

"These particular women's groups are disconnected from reality in their desire to promote the idea that these gender differences are taught by the patriarchy or through socialization," Sax, who also authored "Boys Adrift" and "Girls on the Edge," told FoxNews.com. "The sexualization of children is indeed an important issue, but this is not a part of that."
Of course, to radical feminists, gender differences are sexist-except when they want to exploit them...

Bloggin' In The Years: 2010

It's the dog days of politics:

Boston Blues

Was Obama booed in Boston?
The video message was part of the elaborate pre-game ceremony celebrating the 100th anniversary of Fenway’s opening, replete with appearances from Sox legends like Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky, Carl Yastrzemski, Pedro Martinez, Jim Rice, Carlton Fisk, and on and on. The Yankees were in town too and both teams were in 1912 “throwback” uniforms. Point being, if ever there was a game where you’d expect lots of cell-phone video to be taken and posted on YouTube, this was it. And yet, when it comes to the stadium’s reaction to a presidential cameo, nada so far. Huh.
There is one video circulating online that purports to show O being booed by the crowd but it’s obviously not of yesterday’s game. Watch it here. Among the many problems with it: (a) the Sox were wearing white and the Yankees gray but the players in the vid are wearing red and blue; (b) it looks like a night game when yesterday’s game was played at 3 p.m. in bright sunshine; (c) I can’t hear any audio of Obama over the stadium speakers and it’s hard to believe the booing was so loud that he was completely drowned out; (d) Obama’s video would have been broadcast during the pre-game or between innings, but in the vid the booing’s happening while the game is being played.
If Obama's getting this kind of a response in one of the bluest of blue states, he's got bigger problems than whether or not he ate Fido as a kid.

All Your Mail Are Belong To Us

Does the NSA have your mail? Via Slashdot:
National Security Agency whistleblower William Binney reveals he believes domestic surveillance has become more expansive under President Obama than President George W. Bush. He estimates the NSA has assembled 20 trillion 'transactions' — phone calls, emails and other forms of data — from Americans. This likely includes copies of almost all of the emails sent and received from most people living in the United States. Binney talks about Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act and challenges NSA Director Keith Alexander's assertion that the NSA is not intercepting information about U.S. citizens.
Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they aren't reading your letters...

Friday, April 20, 2012

Putting The Hurt On

I suppose this could be seen as their way of managing the decline:
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Friday that President Obama’s 2013 budget will hurt the economy in the long term, arguing the larger deficits it would produce would reduce the amount of capital available to businesses.

After five years, the CBO says, the Obama proposals would reduce economic output by between 0.5 percent and 2.2 percent.

Larger deficits caused by the budget would cause the government to issue more bonds, sucking up private capital to finance its debts and thereby reducing the funds businesses could use to expand and hire, the CBO said. An increased tax on capital gains included in the president's plan would also tend to reduce private capital, it says.
It's a long-term path towards austerity...

Donation Drop

Team Obama isn't bringing in the cash like they used to:
From Wall Street to Hollywood, from doctors and lawyers, the traditional big sources of campaign cash are not delivering for the Obama campaign as they did four years ago. The falloff has left his fund-raising totals running behind where they were at the same point in 2008 — though well ahead of Mr. Romney’s — and has induced growing concern among aides and supporters as they confront the prospect that Republicans and their “super PAC” allies will hold a substantial advantage this fall.

With big checks no longer flowing as quickly into his campaign, Mr. Obama is leaning harder on his grass-roots supporters, whose small contributions make up well over half of the money he raised through the end of March, according to reports filed Friday with the Federal Election Commission. And Mr. Obama is asking far more of those large donors still giving, exploiting his joint fund-raising arrangement with the Democratic National Committee to collect five-figure checks from individuals who have already given the maximum $5,000 contribution to his re-election campaign.
Maybe they just don't want to pay their "fair share..."

Burn, Heretic, Burn

It's come to this:
Comparing climate change skeptics to residents in Tennessee who refused to pay a $75 fee, resulting in firemen sitting back and watching their houses burn down, Zwick rants that anyone who actively questions global warming propaganda should face the same treatment.

“We know who the active denialists are – not the people who buy the lies, mind you, but the people who create the lies. Let’s start keeping track of them now, and when the famines come, let’s make them pay. Let’s let their houses burn. Let’s swap their safe land for submerged islands. Let’s force them to bear the cost of rising food prices,” writes Zwick, adding, “They broke the climate. Why should the rest of us have to pay for it?”
Shouldn't somebody be telling Janet Napolitono about this?

A Scandal A Day

It's been a bad year so far for Team Obama:
The daily parade of details of incompetence and impropriety among Washington agencies accentuates the findings of a Gallup poll last year which found an alarming loss of public faith over the last decade in US government institutions.
....

The series of scandals are especially galling for Mr Obama, as Republicans have constantly tried to link him to government waste and over-reach, tied together with attacks on “Washington”, an all-purpose political swear word.

Congress has held at least four separate hearings into spending by the GSA, and the agency’s top officials, two senior aides and at least ten others have been fired or placed on leave or have resigned.

One Republican senator, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, linked Mr Obama to the scandals, saying he did not “sense that this president has shown” the necessary “managerial leadership”. The White House, however, declined to get into a slanging match with the senator.
Officialdom's response has, shall we say, been somewhat lacking. Rather like their leadership.

Over The One

The era of smart diplomacy doesn't seem to be working out so well:
US leadership has lost some of its luster abroad, suggesting President Barack Obama can't count on as much global euphoria as he gears up for a fierce reelection campaign, a new survey found Thursday.

The report card was particularly dire from Serbia and Iran where approval ratings for the White House were below 10 percent. India, Cyprus, Belarus and Egypt also gave the Obama administration less than stellar marks.

Overall, median approval ratings for Washington's leadership across 136 countries stood at 46 percent in 2011 -- largely unchanged from 47 percent across a smaller sample of 116 states a year earlier, but better than during the final years of George W. Bush's presidency.

Approval ratings for the original pool of 116 countries, meanwhile, declined from 47 percent to 43 percent between 2010 and 2011.

"US leadership ratings in 2011 failed to regain the momentum they lost in 2010 and instead remained static or retreated even more in some places," said the "US-Global Leadership Project" report, released jointly by Gallup and the Meridian International Center.
The problem with "leading from behind" is that nobody can see you...

Dirty Old Beer

What happens when you enforce selective morality? Nonsense like this:
The state alcoholic beverage control agency said Thursday it has banned the sale of Dirty Bastard beer in the state because of the profanity on its label.

Beer and wine are commonly sold in grocery and convenience stores and anyone can see the labels, so staff members rejected the brand because parents may not want young people to see rough language on the shelves, said Bob Martin, an attorney with the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board.

"That's the whole reason for the rule, to keep dirty pictures and dirty words away from children," he said. "Personally, I believe the staff made the right call."

Workers at the agency consulted sources including the Federal Communications Commission and Wikipedia to develop a list of objectionable words that should not appear on product labels, Martin said, and the list includes "bastard."

The state allows the sale of Fat Bastard wine and also approved the sale of another brand of beer called Raging Bitch, Martin said, but both of those decisions were made years ago.

"I have no idea how or why or exactly when that went through," he said.

He said the agency considered revoking those earlier approvals when it denied the application for Dirty Bastard, but officials decided against such action.
Some bastards are more equal than others...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Monkey Business

If you treat a wild animal like a pet and it turns on you, whose fault is it? Apparently not the owner's:
Bridgeport attorney Charles Willinger, who represents Nash, exclusively told Schneidau that he believes that the near-fatal mauling could have been avoided.

He said the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection ignored its own regulations regarding private ownership of potentially dangerous animals.

“They knew it was an accident waiting to happen. They knew the animal had no permit, and in spite of all this, the DEEP took no action,” Willinger told Schneidau. “Under Connecticut law… the DEEP must either issue a permit or the statute says it shall seize and dispose of the animal. It chose to do neither.”
In today's society, personl stupidity sells cases...

OF-Who?

You may not have heard of them, but chances are they know you:
The Office of Financial Research, or OFR, was created by the Dodd-Frank financial services overhaul that President Obama signed into law in July 2010. Technically housed under the Treasury Department, the agency has until now received its funding not from the Congress, but directly from the Federal Reserve.
....

Detractors call it "the CIA of financial regulators,” and conjure "Orwellian" visions of "an omniscient Soviet-style central risk manager."

The agency’s official mission is to collect financial data and funnel it to another Dodd-Frank creation: the Financial Stability Oversight Council. These agencies were designed with the idea of preventing another systemic shock of Lehman Brothers magnitude.

Toward that end, OFR was invested with virtually unlimited subpoena power. It can compel just about any company in America to turn over to the federal government sensitive internal data, even proprietary information.

“We're only going to be collecting the data that we absolutely need, to fulfill our mission,” testified Michele Shannon, the new agency’s chief operating officer. “We're trying to fill data gaps. We're not going to be collecting for collection's sake. We're going to be making sure that only those people who absolutely need to have access to sensitive data have that access.”

But Republicans on the panel remained skeptical about the potential for abuses of power.

“You're able to tax corporations without any oversight by the U.S. Congress,” said Rep. Steve Pearce, R-New Mex. “Our Constitution is pretty clear, and so if we're a little scratchy on our side, just understand it's because you're conducting things that we feel like are completely unconstitutional.”
An agency with no oversight and unlimited funding? What could go wrong?

Dog Days

What Dog Gate may really be about:
We may be seeing the end of an era dominated by ability of Leftist comedians like Jon Stewart, Bill Maher or the cast of SNL to create a false image of a political figure. Perhaps the trashing of Sarah Palin was the high point of their power, just as Watergate was for the MSM.

Ridicule is the most potent political weapon. Obama is rapidly looking less and less like a President and more and more like an inept pol who’s also something of a doofus. Romney looks like a President, he acts and talks like a President; Obama was always surrounded by a rock star aura. But a rock star is not blamed for high unemployment or soaring gas prices. Obama will always have his groupies, but his hold on the Oval Office is slipping away.
Rock stars are never taken seriously.

Amendment Agendas

According to Nancy Pelosi:
“We have a clear agenda in this regard: [DISCLOSE], reform the system reducing the [role] of money in campaigns, and amend the Constitution to rid it of this ability for special interests to use secret, unlimited, huge amounts of money flowing to campaigns,” Pelosi said at her Thursday press briefing.
“I think one of the presenters [at a Democratic forum on amending the Constitution] yesterday said that the Supreme Court had unleashed a predator that was oozing slime into the political system, and that, indeed, is not an exaggeration,” said Pelosi. “Our Founders had an idea. It was called democracy. It said elections are determined by the people, the voice and the vote of the people, not by the bankrolls of the privileged few. This Supreme Court decision flies in the face of our Founders’ vision and we want to reverse it.”
But if that's the case, then shouldn't the following also apply?
If corporations as such don’t have natural rights (and I’d agree that they don’t, but the individuals that comprise them still do, including the right to pool their money for the purpose of political speech), then Congress certainly doesn’t have any rights of its own, either, including the right to regulate corporate political speech.
Mrs. Pelosi should be careful that she doesn't get what she wishes for...

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Fair Share Is Fair Play

A reminder that fair share begins at home:
The IRS reported earlier this year that a few dozen of Obama's top staff owe over $800,000 in back taxes. In a group of remarkably well-paid individuals - top White House staffers usually make six figures - how hard could it be for the Obama Administration to urge their own staffers to square up with the IRS?

They could also take a harder look at federal workers. In 2010, current and former government employees owed over $3.4 billion in unpaid taxes - including $270 million by U.S. Postal Service workers alone.
Of course, "the rich" make for a convenient target. Some tax dodgers are more equal than others...

Argentinian Surprise

Another example of "smart diplomacy" in action:
After a weekend of cavorting in Colombia, the White House was caught flat-footed by Argentina’s takeover of a big oil company whose loss will hike gas prices, harm Spain and slam U.S. investors. Lucky us.
Never was a response to a global outrage more mealy-mouthed than the one from the U.S. after Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, standing under a portrait of Evita Peron, announced a brazen grab for YPF, the Argentine oil company that’s 57% owned by Spain’s Repsol.
Markets fell, world leaders denounced the violation of contracts and economically battered Spain rallied European Union support.
But the U.S.? “We are following developments on this issue. We are not currently aware of any WTO complaints related to this issue,” the State Department said.
Well, everybody else seems to be complaining. Time for an Argentina reset?

The Last Dance

Remembering Dick Clark:
Born in Mount Vernon, N.Y., on Nov. 30, 1929, Richard Wagstaff Clark began his lifelong career in show business began before he was even out of high school. He started working in the mailroom of WRUN, a radio station in upstate New York run by his father and uncle. It wasn't long before the teenager was on the air, filling in for the weatherman and the announcer.

Clark pursued his passion at Syracuse University, working as a disc jockey at the student-run radio station while studying for his degree in business. After graduating in 1951, Clark went back to his family's radio station, but within a year, a bigger city and bigger shows were calling.

Clark landed a gig as a DJ at WFIL in Philadelphia in 1952, spinning records for a show he called "Dick Clark's Caravan of Music." There he broke into the big time, hosting Bandstand, an afternoon dance show for teenagers.

Within five years, the whole country was watching. ABC took the show national, and "American Bandstand" was born.
Here he is in his prime, from a 1982 special:

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Taxpocalypse

It will soon be the end of an era:
At the end of the year, some $500 billion in tax breaks expire all at once, hitting American households with an average tax increase of $3,800 dollars -- if Congress doesn't act.

The potential increases include $165 billion more from taxpayers as a result of expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts, which would push taxes from a bottom rate of 10 percent and a top rate of 35 percent to a bottom rate of 15 percent and a top rate of 39.6 percent.

"Taxmageddon is a $500 billion, one-year tax hike that hits the economy on Jan. 1, 2013," Curtis Dubay of the Heritage Foundation said.
....

The expiring cuts would hit all income groups but those at low and middle incomes the hardest.

"Taxmageddon falls 70 percent on middle and low income families. That's because 60 percent of the Bush tax cuts were for middle- and low-income taxpayers," Dubay said. The payroll tax cut was aimed at the same taxpayers.

"No American will be unscathed at the end of this year," Hodge said. "Taxmageddon hits all of us."
So much for those tax cuts being just for the wealthy...

Weeds In The Green

How's that green economy working out for ya?
Three years after Obama launched a push to build a job-creating "green" economy, the White House can say that more than 1 million drafty homes have been retrofitted to lower heating and cooling costs, while energy generation from renewable sources such as wind and solar has nearly doubled since 2008.

But the millions of "green jobs" Obama promised have been slow to sprout, disappointing many who had hoped that the $90 billion earmarked for clean-energy efforts in the recession-fighting federal stimulus package would ease unemployment - still above 8 percent in March.

Supporters say the administration over-promised on the jobs front and worry that a backlash could undermine support for clean-energy policies in general.

"All of this stuff is extraordinarily worthy for driving long-term economic transformation but extremely inappropriate to sell as a short-term job program," said Mark Muro, a clean-energy specialist at the Brookings Institution.

Others say the green-jobs push has crowded out less fashionable efforts that would have put people back to work quickly.

"From my perspective it makes more sense for us to arm our clients with the basic skills, rather than saying, 'By golly, you will do something in the green economy or you won't work,'" said Janet Blumen, the head of the Foundation for an Independent Tomorrow, a Las Vegas job-training organization that has seen positions in trucking and accounting go unfilled because training money had been earmarked for green efforts.
Trying to force people into a program with questionable results tends to have that effect. Breitbart.com sums up the details:
Since 2009, the wind industry has lost 10,000 jobs, even as the energy capacity of wind farms has almost doubled. By contrast, the oil and gas industry have created 75,000 jobs since Mr. Obama took office.
"A $500 million job-training program has so far helped fewer than 20,000 people find work, far short of its goal." The program was so bad that "the Labor Department's inspector general recommended last fall that the agency should return the $327 million that remained unspent." They didn't. And now, the department "remains far short of its goal of placing 80,000 workers into green jobs by 2013."
According to the Labor Department's own figures, the push for so-called "green jobs" has been an abysmal failure. "By the end of 2011, some 16,092 participants had found new work in a "green" field, according to the Labor Department - roughly one-fifth of its target."
The only green that seems to have been produced here is the green that has gone into the pockets of the program's creators...

Bob Goes Ballistic

While we're on the subject of apologies and bad words, it seems that Bob Beckel said a mouthful on Fox News:

Sorry Is The Easiest Word

As John Wayne once said, apologizing is a sign of weakness. So why are so many doing it these days?
Sorry to bring this up. But has anyone noticed the surfeit of apologies flying around in the current political season?

Not President Obama, of course. He went to Harvard.

But so many other Americans in public life are apologizing to each other and even to entire sectors of society. Members of the media and Congress. Political strategists. Soldiers. Almost everyone's apologizing for something. (Scroll down for videos)

It's the new thing the media seeks as a subsequent stage in any controversy to prolong the story if possible. Sincerity is something else. Doesn't matter.
It's all theater, and not very effective theater, at that.

"C" What?

In Britain, you can apparently go to jail for cussing out the local politicians:
Mr Kerlen was arrested after a complaint from the councillor in question, and was charged with an offence under Section 127 of the Telecommunications Act 2003.

And in a case which could have huge legal repercussions for Twitter and its millions of users, Kerlen was convicted of the offence by Greenwich magistrates and now faces a possible jail term.

His legal battle has since been supported in large numbers on Twitter, where the hashtag #freethebexleyone became a trending topic.

Political campaigner and blogger Mark Wallace wrote: 'Shockingly, a man has been convicted for swearing on twitter.'

Another Twitter user called Nick wrote: 'This has far ranging implications for free speech.'

Royston Westbrook also tweeted in support, saying: 'If someone wants to call someone else a c*** that is their choice, and their opinion.'

Mr Kerlen, whose website was not working today and claimed on his Twitter page that he had been 'censored by the state' appeared before Bexley magistrates in January.
What's in a bad name? Jail time in a supposedly democratic country.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Legislators' Remorse

From uber-liberal Barney Frank, of all people, comes this little nugget:
You think Obama overinterpreted his mandate with health care?

The problem with health care is this: Health care is enormously important to people. When you tell them that you’re going to extend health care to people who don’t now have it, they don’t see how you can do that without hurting them. So I think he underestimated, as did Clinton, the sensitivity of people to what they see as an effort to make them share the health care with poor people.

I think we paid a terrible price for health care. I would not have pushed it as hard. As a matter of fact, after Scott Brown won, I suggested going back. I would have started with financial reform but certainly not health care.

And if you’d done it with that sequencing, you could have still gotten health care before 2012?

I’m not sure, but I think you could have gotten some pieces of it. And yeah, if we’d held the House, we could have gotten it.
And then the mandate would have come anyway once they got the popular parts of it passed. Even so, for Barney Frank to say that maybe they should have taken it slower is an indication of how far out of favor Obamacare has fallen.

Buffett Bounced

The "Buffett Tax" has failed to pass (again). Not that it would have done much to begin with:
For starters, its effect on the deficit is subject to a huge degree of uncertainty. The Joint Committee on Taxation, which scores the effects of all tax bills in Congress, said that under current laws, the proposal would produce $47 billion more in revenue over the next decade - less than 1 percent of the additional deficits Mr. Obama’s budget would deliver during that time.

If the Bush-era tax cuts are extended, the tax bites more deeply - to the tune of $162 billion over 10 years, according to Mr. Whitehouse’s office.

About 89,000 people would be subject to the full 30 percent minimum, while another 134,000 would be in the phase-in range between $1 million and $2 million in income.
Team Obama knew this wouldn't fly, yet they keep trying to pass it in the absence of any actual deficit reduction ideas on their part. Class warfare is pretty much all they've got left.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Derailed

Via HotAir, a lesson in light-rail politics and its impact on local businesses in St. Paul:
Business fell off nearly 60% when construction got underway, and as anyone who has worked in the difficult independent-restaurant business knows, that’s not a situation that can continue for very long. It’s amazing that the Panellis stayed in business as long as they could — and they’re hardly alone. The light rail agency claims that they try to promote businesses along the corridor, but they’re not having much of an impact. During construction, the agency claims net-positive business growth as 61 businesses have opened while 55 have closed, but that’s a pretty pathetic net growth of six businesses along what had been one of the main thoroughfares of St. Paul in over a year’s time. Furthermore, the 55 businesses that have closed were established, successful enterprises like Caribe, whose pre-light-rail leases and taxes probably generated more private and public revenue than more recent operations that can take advantage of declining lease values in the area. And how many of these new operations are retail businesses, generating sales and local tax revenues? Given the damage to traffic in the area, I’d be inclined to guess that retail businesses in the University Avenue corridor are going to be a thing of the past — like Caribe.
But that wasn't taken into account by the builders of this boondoggle. So, guess who will wind up paying for it otherwise?

Business Is Business

And for crony capitalists, business is good:
Patrick J. Kennedy, the former representative from Rhode Island, who donated $35,800 to an Obama re-election fund last fall while seeking administration support for a nonprofit venture, said contributions were simply a part of “how this business works.”

“If you want to call it ‘quid pro quo,’ fine,” he said. “At the end of the day, I want to make sure I do my part.”

Mr. Kennedy visited the White House several times to win support for One Mind for Research, his initiative to help develop new treatments for brain disorders. While his family name and connections are clearly influential, he said, he knows White House officials are busy. And as a former chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, he said he was keenly aware of the political realities they face.

“I know that they look at the reports,” he said, referring to records of campaign donations. “They’re my friends anyway, but it won’t hurt when I ask them for a favor if they don’t see me as a slouch.”
He works hard for their money...

Don't Hold Back

He's back:
Former Vice President Dick Cheney walked onstage without any assistance and spoke for an hour and 15 minutes without seeming to tire in his first public engagement since he underwent a heart transplant three weeks ago.

"He has been an unmitigated disaster to the country," Cheney said of President Barack Obama.

"I can't think of a time when I felt it was more important for us to defeat an incumbent president today with respect to Barack Obama. I think he has been an unmitigated disaster to the country," Cheney said at the Wyoming Republican Party state convention in Cheyenne on Saturday.

"I think to be in a position where he gets four more years in the White House to continue the policies he has, both with respect to the economy, and tax policy, and defense and some other areas would be a huge, huge disappointment," the former Vice President said.
But how does he really feel?

The Singles Revolution

Ann Althouse talks about jump-starting the single-earner movement:
If the single-earner household movement were to flourish, we wouldn't need so many jobs, and we wouldn't need to drive ourselves so hard. Then there are taxes. If you're living alone, filing as an unmarried person, you've probably noticed how much less you would pay if you added a spouse. And what about feminism? If the woman stays home, maybe the man will leave her some day — leave her for a younger woman! — and then what will she do, not having developed her career? The women's movement made a big deal out of warning us about that danger, but something I want to examine — not here, but in later posts — is the way this women's movement came along just when we Baby Boomers in the 1960s were inspired by the hippie movement, which tipped us off that life might be about freedom and not about taking one's place in the conventional workworld. Wouldn't it be a kick in the head if it turned out feminism served, above all, the interests of commerce and not individual liberation?

I'll end this post now, but I'm beginning a conversation. I want to reject the idea — which Obama himself propounded — that the single-earner household is a luxury available only to a few lucky people. Let's consider the possibility that it is available to most people and what we need is to understand when it works and how to make it work.
Call it the Single Earners' Manifesto-the creed, if you will, for a new take on a traditional way of living. Because a lot of people still do it, and it's not a luxury for them.

Busted In Bogata

On top of being derelict in their duty, those Secret Service agents who got caught with their pants down were also apparently cheap:
Most of the Secret Service agents embroiled in a prostitution scandal brought women back to their Colombia hotel rooms before President Obama arrived in town for an international summit, Rep. Pete King said Saturday.

King said the raunchy rendezvous involved 11 agents and went sour when an agent refused to pay one of the women, who were presumed to be hookers.

“The agent said, ‘I don't owe you anything,’ but gave the woman some money,” said King (R-L.I.),the head of the House Homeland Security Committee, who was briefed on the matter. “I don't know how much, and it was settled right there.”
Hey, she made more than women in the Obama administration...

They Live

Yes, the Tea Party is still around:
In researching her recent book, "The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism," Harvard professor Theda Skocpol found that about 1,000 local tea party groups formed in 2009-2010. Today, she estimates there are about 600. A declining number, yes, but still what Skocpol, an expert on civic engagement, calls "a very good survival rate."

"They're not dressing up and going to demonstrations in the street. They're meeting. They're poring over the legislative records of these Republicans that they've elected. They're contacting their representatives, and they're keeping the pressure on. They're following the debates, and they're going and they're voting.

"They're determined," she says, "and they haven't gone away."
If Orrin Hatch's reaction is any indication, they're going to be around for a while yet...

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Those Doggone Libertarians

Orrin Hatch really doesn't like them very much:
"These people are not conservatives. They're not Republicans," Hatch angrily responds. "They're radical libertarians and I'm doggone offended by it."

Then Hatch, a former boxer, turns combative. "I despise these people, and I'm not the guy you come in and dump on without getting punched in the mouth."

What's got Hatch's knickers in a twist? A serious primary challenge steeped in Tea Party candidates:

Utah Republican Orrin Hatch has spent 36 years in the U.S. Senate, including stints as chairman of the Judiciary and Labor committees. He's in line to become chairman of the Finance Committee if Republicans gain control of the Senate in November.

But back home in Utah, Hatch's quest for a seventh term is not the cakewalk he had in the last five elections, in which he didn't even have to run in primaries.

In fact, the Hatch campaign has spent more than $5.7 million in the past 15 months just to make sure he'll survive the Utah Republican nominating convention on April 21.

"We've got to have new leaders in Washington if we're going to change the direction of this country," says Dan Liljenquist, a former Utah state senator and business consultant, considered the biggest threat to Hatch among nine GOP challengers.

In 2010, similar forces dispatched another long-time Beehive State glad-hander, Robert Bennett, which led to the horrors of electing Mike Lee, who along with Rand Paul, is leading the charge for lower spending in the Senate.
How radical! It's like they were more serious about it than he was, or something.

Der Fuher Goes To Washington

It's the kinder, gentler, Nazi Party:
What could the Nazis want to lobby the Congress about? "Political Rights and ballot access laws," according to the registration form, which also lists lists accounting, agriculture, clean air and water, civil rights, health issues, the Constitution, immigration, manufacturing, and retirement as "general lobbying issue areas." Who knew the Nazis had strong views on agriculture?

Bowles seemed genuinely puzzled when I asked him whether he really thinks that any members of Congress or Hill staffers would take a meeting with a Nazi lobbyist. "I don't see why not," he says, adding that he knows lobbyists rely on their credibility. "Of course I won't approach anybody in Congress unless it's a very interesting issue or law," he promises. "I'm going to be very careful about the issues I choose for this."
Like that business about Aryan supremacy, I suppose...

Friday, April 13, 2012

Don't Comment, Don't Tell

There are Democrats like Corey Booker (see below), and then there's this:
A former North Carolina Democratic Party staffer was sexually harassed by a party official, made a financial settlement with the party and signed a non-disclosure agreement to keep the incident quiet, according to emails obtained by The Daily Caller.

“If this hits the media, the Democratic Party, our candidates, and our credibility are doomed in this election,” reads one email exchange between state Democratic leaders.
,,,,

“Rest assured there is a statewide gathering (I am told) that are upset over this and want people held accountable,” Jones continued. “In all honesty, I am being told by several reliable sources that the Associated Press is itching to get this out. Thankfully, some are trying to stop it. Do we want the Republicans to get this information? They are also asking questions.”

Jones added that he expects that the “Democratic Party, our Candidates, and our credibility are doomed in this election,” if the alleged sexual harassment story is made public.
I think it's a bit late for that...

Super Mayor

Yes, he's a Democrat-but he's still a hero:
Newark Mayor Cory Booker was taken to a hospital Thursday night for treatment of smoke inhalation he suffered trying to rescue his next-door neighbors from their burning house…
Centanni said the mayor executed a professional rescue and possibly saved the life of one resident.
After being released from the hospital, Booker recounted his experience at the fire and said he thought he might have to jump out of a window because of the heavy flames.
“We got everybody out of the house, but their daughter’s screaming, ‘I’m upstairs!’ ” he told The Star-Ledger.
Well done, sir.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

An Outrageous Lack Of Outrage

When it comes to women, the hypocrisy of the MSM has never been more obvious:
Every time a conservative steps in it, be it on TV or radio, the stormtroopers from Media Matters, along with their partners from the White House and DNC, leap into feigned outrage and begin their tiresome boycotts.

Where are the Soros flying monkeys today? Not a peep about this assault on stay at home mothers and Ann Romney. An off-color remark about a DNC plant whining about contraception costs and there’s weeks of national headlines. The biggest story in America this day? Meh.

It’s been incredibly amusing watching Democrats distance themselves today, pretending they hardly have anything to do with each other. Funny, considering Rosen has contributed at least $189,000 to them. Not to mention another $157,000 to special interests. Oh, she did toss a couple of bucks to a few Republicans over the years. Last one? Mark Foley.

I highly doubt she found any conservative causes special or interesting. Heck, Rosen is listed No. 27 in the contributor power rankings. She’s the upper crust elite, the, ahem, 1%. Yet, she somehow manages to find her way into the White House 35 times to visit our heroic middle class warrior.

This woman has been lavishing money on Democrats going back to the 1980s. Don’t buy the nonsense they’re not joined at the hip. Her PR firm has an “In the News” section, and she and Dunn and featured many times.
It does seem rather presumptuous for them to claim they don't know her now...