The judge declared a mistrial Thursday in the John Edwards case after jurors found him not guilty on just one count but were deadlocked on the remaining five.It remains to be seen whether or not a retrial will happen, but for noww, John-Boy is a free man.
The decision by Judge Catherine Eagles came after the judge initially ordered the jurors to resume deliberations following an announcement earlier in the day that they had reached a verdict on one of the six counts. At the time, that verdict was not announced.
But a little over an hour later, Eagles announced she was declaring a mistrial -- with Edwards having been acquitted on one count pertaining to campaign contributions in 2008.
It's unclear whether federal prosecutors will seek to retry him.
The announcement capped a day marked by confusion and miscommunication at the North Carolina courthouse. The judge initially indicated the jury was ready to announce a verdict on all counts. But the jury had only reached a verdict on one.
Thursday, May 31, 2012
John Edwards gets a walk:
May was not a good month for the Obama campaign, and to top it off, this:
Mitt Romney arrived at the shuttered headquarters ofSolyndra Inc. this morning, a surprise visit that was shrouded in secrecy and part of the presumptive GOP presidential candidate’s attack on President Obama’s record on jobs creation.Romney seems to be in fighting mode after all, heh.
“The reason for keeping it quiet is because we knew if word got out that Solyndra would do everything in their power and the Obama administration would do everything in their power to stop us from having this news conference,” an aide said in a briefing en route. “But taxpayers made a substantial investment in Solyndra, there are serious questions about what happened at Solyndra, why that investment was selected, what happened to that money.”
Solyndra is the failed California-based solar technology company that received more than $500 million in federal stimulus money before it went bankrupt last year. It has since become a mantle of Romney’s argument that Obama doesn’t know how to run the economy.
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Artur Davis switches sides:
Artur Davis, one of President Obama’s earliest supporters and a former co-chairman for his presidential campaign, announced Tuesday that he was leaving the Democratic party for good.Unfortunately for Mr. Davis's former colleagues, symbolism counts far more than substance these days...
In a post published Tuesday on his website, Davis was vague about his future political endeavors, but declared: “If I were to run, it would be as a Republican. And I am in the process of changing my voter registration from Alabama to Virginia, a development which likely does represent a closing of one chapter and perhaps the opening of another.”
Renouncing the party “is no light decision on my part,” he wrote. “Cutting ties with an Alabama Democratic Party that has weakened and lost faith with more and more Alabamians every year is one thing; leaving a national party that has been the home for my political values for two decades is quite another.”
But “wearing a Democratic label no longer matches what I know about my country and its possibilities,” he said.
“On the specifics, I have regularly criticized an agenda that would punish businesses and job creators with more taxes just as they are trying to thrive again,” he said. “I have taken issue with an administration that has lapsed into a bloc by bloc appeal to group grievances when the country is already too fractured: frankly, the symbolism of Barack Obama winning has not given us the substance of a united country.”
President Obama, friend of corporations:
President Obama on Wednesday signed a reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank that would raise its lending authority 40 percent to $140 billion by 2014 and pressed Congress to pass a list of other top White House priorities aimed at creating jobs and boosting the economy.I guess he decided he'd rather have them on his side after all...
Enough Republicans came to the 78-year-old bank’s aid to move the bill to the president’s desk earlier this month after conservatives in Congress assailed it for meddling in the free market.
Increasing the bank’s lending power ensures “that we’re not just known as a nation that consumes,” the president said Wednesday at a signing ceremony. “We’ve got to be a nation that produces.”
Republicans quickly accused the president of hypocrisy, pointing out that he had called the bank “little more than a fund for corporate welfare” during the 2008 campaign and promised to eliminate it.
They also reminded voters that despite Mr. Obama’s longtime disdain for corporate jets and corporate jet owners, the bill includes $1 billion in subsidies for corporate jet manufacturers, which have experienced a steep decline in demand for the jets in recent years.
“I’m sure you all remember the good old corporate jets the president used to rail against on the stump — he must have forgotten about that bright shiny object already because the reauthorization includes $1 billion for corporate jet manufacturers,” a Republican National Committee spokeswoman said in a release. “Goes to show you it’s more rhetoric and less principle when Obama is on the stump.”
As part of his jobs proposal last year, Mr. Obama wanted to raise taxes on corporate jets by shortening the number of years their owners could depreciate their cost from seven to five years, a plan the White House estimated would have raised $3 billion in revenue.
It's Obama's legacy:
The economic recovery that Obama has presided over has been far from extraordinary. It hasn't even been ordinary.The more things don't change, the more they tend to get worse.
In fact, it's come in well below average on several key indicators compared with the previous 10 economic recoveries, dating back to 1949, according to an IBD analysis of various economic data.
And on several measures, the current recovery — which started five months after Obama took office and is now in its 35th month — is the worst on record since World War II.
The current recovery is so slow, in fact, that it just barely beats GDP growth 11 quarters after the 1980 recession ended — even though there was the intervening long and painful 1981-82 recession. And unless GDP shoots up in Q2, the current recovery will soon be the absolute worst since the Great Depression.
Looks like it's time for another apology:
Poland demanded a “strong and clear response” from the U.S. after President Barack Obama’s mention of a “Polish death camp” while honoring a Pole who told the world about the Holocaust.It's the sort of thing this administration has been doing quite a bit lately...
“We can’t accept such words in Poland, even if they are spoken by a leader of an allied country,” Prime Minister Donald Tusk told journalists in Warsaw today. “Saying Polish concentration camps is as if there was no German responsibility, no Hitler.”
Since, 2004 Poland has sought clarifications from several news outlets for the use of a phrase “Polish concentration camps” that were run by the Nazis during the country’s occupation in the World War II, according to the Foreign Ministry’s website. The government has convinced publications including the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle to stop using the phrase.
The U.S. administration regrets “this misstatement,” the Wall Street Journal’s website cited Tommy Vietor, the National Security Council spokesman, as saying. The text of Obama’s remarks on the White House website hasn’t been corrected as of today.
“The White House will apologize for this outrageous mistake,” Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski wrote on his Twitter Inc. account. “It’s a shame that such a momentous ceremony has been overshadowed by ignorance and incompetence.”
You could call it the era of procrastination:
It fits on a Post-it note, but some lawmakers are still confused by what’s on President Barack Obama’s “to-do” list — and so far, neither chamber has scheduled a vote on any of the five items the president has urged them to tackle “right now.”I'm sure Harry Reid would find somebody to blame aside from his own party...
When Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) outlined his agenda for the June work period this week, only one item from Obama’s to-do list made the cut — a business tax cut package. That’s the item most likely to win GOP support, given that Democrats at this point plan to follow the lead of House Republicans and simply borrow the money to pay for it.
Reid also mentioned a half a dozen items that aren’t on Obama’s list, although one — preventing the doubling of interest rates on student loans — is a separate White House priority.
In the meantime, several Senators confessed to Roll Call that they don’t know what is on the to-do list anyway, despite several speeches in which Obama has urged his followers to tweet, call, write and email lawmakers urging them to take it up.
“Didn’t we do some things he wanted us to do?” asked Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.). “[Export-Import] Bank, that doesn’t count? That wasn’t on the to-do list?”
No. The president wanted that, too, but it’s not on the list.
“Do you have a copy of the to-do list?” Landrieu asked.
After a reporter told her what was on the list, she quipped, “We’re adding to that list by doing some great things.”
“I don’t have a copy of it; I’m sure my staff does,” said Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), when asked when the Senate might get to it.
“We’ve got June, July. We’ve got some time. What time frame did he put on that to-do list?”
When told the president said the to-do list could be done “now,” Casey joked, “Now is a very expansive term. It’s not even the summer yet.“
“Didn’t we just try to move on student loans. Wasn’t that on his list?” asked Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.).
No, that’s a separate priority.
“You’d have to ask Harry Reid” why the list hasn’t moved, Levin said.
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
New Yorkers are leaving in droves:
New York State accounted for the biggest migration exodus of any state in the nation between 2000 and 2010, with 3.4 million residents leaving over that period, according to the Tax Foundation.This is a familiar pattern, as California has shown. But New York's loss is Florida's economic gain.
Over that decade the state gained 2.1 million, so net migration amounted to 1.3 million, representing a loss of $45.6 billion in income.
Where are they escaping to? The Tax Foundation found that more than 600,000 New York residents moved to Florida over the decade – opting perhaps for the Sunshine State’s more lenient tax system – taking nearly $20 billion in adjusted growth income with them.
It's a good thing Skynet is on our side:
A massive, highly sophisticated piece of malware has been newly found infecting systems in Iran and elsewhere and is believed to be part of a well-coordinated, ongoing, state-run cyberespionage operation.The cyber wars have begun, and so far, the good guys seem to be a step ahead.
The malware, discovered by Russia-based antivirus firm Kaspersky Lab, is an espionage toolkit that has been infecting targeted systems in Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Sudan, the Israeli Occupied Territories and other countries in the Middle East and North Africa for at least two years.
Early analysis of Flame by the Lab indicates that it’s designed primarily to spy on the users of infected computers and steal data from them, including documents, recorded conversations and keystrokes. It also opens a backdoor to infected systems to allow the attackers to tweak the toolkit and add new functionality.
The malware, which is 20 megabytes when all of its modules are installed, contains multiple libraries, SQLite3 databases, various levels of encryption — some strong, some weak — and 20 plug-ins that can be swapped in and out to provide various functionality for the attackers. It even contains some code that is written in the LUA programming language — an uncommon choice for malware.
Monday, May 28, 2012
Heh. Maybe climate change skeptics aren't so dumb, after all?
A study published Sunday in the journal Nature Climate Change finds that people who are not that worried about the effects of global warming tend to have a slightly higher level of scientific knowledge than those who are worried, as determined by their answers to questions like:Real science, real knowledge.
"Electrons are smaller than atoms -- true or false?”
"How long does it take the Earth to go around the Sun? One day, one month, or one year?"
“Lasers work by focusing sound waves -- true or false?”
The quiz, containing 22 questions about both science and statistics, was given to 1,540 representative Americans. Respondents who were relatively less worried about global warming got 57 percent of them right, on average, just barely outscoring those whose who saw global warming as a bigger threat. They got 56 percent of the questions correct.
"As respondents’ science literacy scores increased, their concern with climate change decreased," the paper, which was funded by the National Science Foundation, notes.
Sunday, May 27, 2012
Is the age of foreign dependency ending?
From Canada to Colombia to Brazil, oil and gas production in the Western Hemisphere is booming, with the United States emerging less dependent on supplies from an unstable Middle East. Central to the new energy equation is the United States itself, which has ramped up production and is now churning out 1.7 million more barrels of oil and liquid fuel per day than in 2005.Let's hope it keeps turning.
“There are new players and drivers in the world,” said Ruben Etcheverry, chief executive of Gas and Oil of Neuquen, a state-owned energy firm that is positioning itself to develop oil and gas fields here in Patagonia. “There is a new geopolitical shift, and those countries that never provided oil and gas can now do so. For the United States, there is a glimmer of the possibility of self-sufficiency.”
Oil produced in Persian Gulf countries — notably Saudi Arabia, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Iraq — will remain vital to the world’s energy picture. But what was once a seemingly unalterable truth — that American oil production would steadily fall while the United States remained heavily reliant on Middle Eastern supplies — is being turned on its head.
A South American pizza chain has apparently decided to fight world hunger by making their customers go hungry:
A risky advertising campaign cooked up by agency ONIRIA/TBWA has seen two pizzerias in Paraguay provide a deliberately slow service to raise awareness of hunger.If you want to go out of business, I guess you do...
Teaming up with the Food Bank Foundation, the agency persuaded the “two most important pizzerias in Asuncion” to accept delivery requests from customers, advising them that the food would arrive within 45 minutes. Feigning bad service, all the pizzas were delivered much later than this specified time frame, prompting angry calls from those who had placed an order. However, when the food finally arrived, each box came with a note explaining: “When you’re hungry, you understand hunger.” Couriers then told each customer that the pizza was free of charge, but any money they did give would be donated to the Food Bank Foundation to help those for whom hunger is a genuine fear, rather than an irritation. The idea behind the concept was to help those who can afford takeaway food to put their complaint into perspective, in return offering them a pizza for free as a thank you for taking part in the experience.
Where traditional campaigns may appeal to rational thought or emotion to convince viewers to help, the ONIRIA/TBWA campaign gave pizza customers an unusual experience they are not likely to forget. According to a Fast Company report, the campaign helped collect 50 tons of food for the Food Bank Foundation, but would you be prepared to risk permanently dissatisfying your customers for a single campaign?
Seriously, what the...?
One man was shot to death by Miami police, and another man is fighting for his life after he was attacked, and his face allegedly half eaten, by a naked man on the MacArthur Causeway off ramp Saturday, police said.Isn't this how it always starts? You've got to get them in the head:
The horror began about 2 p.m. when a series of gunshots were heard on the ramp, which is along NE 13th Street, just south of The Miami Herald building.
According to police sources, a road ranger saw a naked man chewing on another man’s face and shouted on his loud speaker for him to back away.Meanwhile, a woman also saw the incident and flagged down a police officer who was in the area.
The officer, who has not been identified, approached and, seeing what was happening, also ordered the naked man to back away. When he continued the assault, the officer shot him, police sources said. The attacker failed to stop after being shot, forcing the officer to continue firing. Witnesses said they heard at least a half dozen shots.
So how's that Wisconsin recall effort going?
Recent polls have pointed toward a victory for Republican Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin’s June 5 recall election. But here’s the clearest evidence to date that national Democratic party officials believe their side is losing: Democratic officials are playing down the potential impact.Maybe now they'll get tired of this nonsense and move on. I'm sure that most people in Wisconsin want to.
Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) insisted in a television interview that a loss for the Democratic candidate in the recall, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, wouldn't have any implications for other races, such as the presidential election.
“I think, honestly, there aren’t going to be any repercussions,” Wasserman Schultz said on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” program. “It’s an election that’s based in Wisconsin.”
Public employee unions and liberal activist groups have spearheaded the effort to recall Walker, who became a hero to conservatives last year when he pushed a bill through the state Legislature that ended most collective bargaining rights for state workers. Although Walker’s opponents gathered more than 900,000 signatures on recall petitions earlier this year – in a state where Walker was elected governor with just over 1.2 million votes – polls have indicated that the effort to end his tenure early will probably fall short.
The Green Economy hasn't grown:
Since taking office more than three years ago, Obama has routinely promoted wind, solar and other green energy efforts, touring factories — often the beneficiaries of federal grants — and touting the manufacturers as cutting-edge job producers who are leading America’s transition to energy independence. He had promised in 2008 to help those companies create millions of jobs.When it comes to industry, goverment doesn't create jobs. It does, however, reward cronies and campaign donors...
“We can invest $15 billion a year in renewable sources of energy … to create 5 million new jobs, new energy jobs, all across [the] country, jobs that pay well, jobs that can’t be outsourced,” Obama, the candidate, told an Ohio crowd.
But the president has fallen far short of his own mark.
The wind industry has actually lost about 10,000 jobs since 2009, even though it doubled its domestic production, the American Wind Energy Association reports. And Republicans were quick to point out that as Obama blocks the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to Texas, the oil and gas industry has added 75,000 jobs since the start of his term.
Obama spent $90 billion of his stimulus package on green energy projects, including weatherization of buildings and development of electric vehicles. Yet, by the end of last year, just 16,100 people landed new jobs in the so-called green industry, Labor Department statistics show, far short of the 200,000 jobs the White House projected it would help create each year.
In lending its support to Mitt Romney, the UK Telegraph notes:
Mitt Romney might not be the most charismatic candidate, but that’s a hidden strength in an election that’s all about competence and getting back to the basics of what once made America work so well. This week, the pro-Obama journalist Andrew Sullivan wrote that with his wealth, good looks and apple-pie conservatism, Romney is like “a focus-group tested model president from 1965”. Sullivan obviously doesn’t realise how popular the TV show Mad Men is. Who wouldn’t warm to a candidate that represents an age marked by low unemployment, stable families and a laissez-faire attitude towards drinking at work?Romney represents another side to the Sixties-the side that didn't rebel. If Obama was the "cool kid", then perhaps Romney is the square but sensible Dad waiting in the wings.
Thanks, but no thanks:
House lawmakers will consider an international proposal next week to give the United Nations more control over the Internet.Governments that don't exactly have their citizens' freedom in mind aren't exactly the best ones to make decisions regarding Internet control...
The proposal is backed by China, Russia, Brazil, India and other UN members, and would give the UN’s International Telecommunication Union (ITU) more control over the governance of the Internet.
It’s an unpopular idea with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in Congress, and officials with the Obama administration have also criticized it.
“We're quite concerned,” Larry Strickling, the head of the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration, said in an interview with The Hill earlier this year.
He said the measure would expose the Internet to “top-down regulation where it's really the governments that are at the table, but the rest of the stakeholders aren't.”
At a hearing earlier this month, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) also criticized the proposal. He said China and Russia are "not exactly bastions of Internet freedom."
"Any place that bans certain terms from search should not be a leader in international Internet regulatory frameworks," he said, adding that he will keep a close eye on the process.
Saturday, May 26, 2012
So, does this mean that smoking is OK, after all?
Illinois’ Medicaid program faces a $2.7 billion shortage that its governor has promised to deal with. So how does Gov. Pat Quinn propose to close the fiscal gap for his biggest budget item and largest health program? By relying on the state’s smokers to keep puffing — and paying — away.Of course, that's not keeping them from trying-anything except actual entitlement reform.
Quinn wants to shore up the fiscal health of Illinois’ ailing Medicaid program by imposing a new per-pack tax on cigarettes, thus making the health coverage of millions of disabled and low-income individuals in the state directly dependent on keeping smoking rates up.
But if previous experiences with state smoking taxes are any indication, it won’t work. In his February budget address, Quinn was blunt with state lawmakers. “Our rendezvous with reality has arrived,” he said. He declared his intention to pass a $2.7 billion reform to the state’s Medicaid system. Quinn’s proposal, released in April, included a variety of cuts and payment reductions, as well a $1-per-pack cigarette tax that his office said would raise an estimated $337.5 million directly.
Sadly, the governor does not seem as eager to meet with fiscal reality as he claims: That revenue estimate from the smoking tax is almost certainly inflated. The anti-smoking advocacy group Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids recently estimated that a $1 increase in the state smoking tax would raise a little less than $300 million — leaving the governor’s office at least $37 million short. But even those numbers probably overstate the tax’s actual revenue potential since cigarette taxes consistently produce less money for state coffers than expected.
The real figures behind Obama's supposed non-spending binge:
We still know the reported spending figures for the two years involved: $2.729 trillion in fiscal 2007, and $3.603 trillion in fiscal 2011. That’s a 32% increase, or a 7.2% compounded annual rate, all of which occurred while Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. Even if one concedes (which I don’t) that a spending increase of many hundreds of billions was at first necessary as the recession hit, what possible legitimate justification is there for staying at or above that level in perpetuity after that?Beating your own spending record isn't exactly the hallmark of fiscal restraint...
This argument of course will not satisfy those who insist on a Bush 43-Obama faceoff, so let’s have at it.
The effect of Obama’s failure to rein in spending once his failed stimulus plan ran its course is obvious if you compare his administration’s reported four-year historical and projected spending total for 2010-2013 to 2006-2009, revised upward in fiscal 2008 to properly treat Bush’s $94 billion in IRS stimulus checks as spending instead of as negative receipts (who says we can’t be fair about this?). After incorporating that change and the Obama stimulus-related adjustment Nutting made, Obama will have spent 21% more by the end of fiscal 2013 than the government under Bush and then Obama did during 2006-2009.
Friday, May 25, 2012
Say that again?
At the Iowa State Fair Grounds on Thursday, Obama said: “We don’t need another political fight about ending a woman’s right to choose, or getting rid of Planned Parenthood or taking away affordable birth control. We don’t need that. I want women to control their own health choices, just like I want my daughters to have the same economic opportunities as my sons. We’re not turning back the clock. We’re not going back there.”In all fairness, he did have an imaginary girlfriend in college...
Both the transcript of the Iowa speech distributed by the White House and a video of it posted by the Des Moines Register indicated that Obama mistakenly said “my sons.”
The video of the speech posted by the Des Moines Register also shows that despite his slip about "my sons," the president was speaking with the help of a teleprompter.
On Wednesday at the Fox Theatre in Redwood City, Calif., Obama made the same mistaken reference to “my sons.”
Can you say awkward?
President Obama will host former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, at the White House next week for the unveiling of their official portraits, bringing the two presidents together at a time when Mr. Obama has been castigating Mr. Bush’s record on the campaign trail.I'm sure it's just politics as usual...
The ceremony on Thursday follows a longstanding tradition of welcoming back former presidents and first ladies for the hanging of their portraits in the White House. Each time a new painting is added, those of other recent presidents are rotated to different spaces in the main floor of the White House and up the large staircase. The first lady paintings are generally hung on the floor below.
Such ceremonies often bring together current and former presidents with rivalries, grudges or awkward relationships. But the timing of this unveiling is particularly delicate as Mr. Obama uses Mr. Bush as a foil on the campaign trail against former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, his presumptive Republican challenger.
They can't handle the truth:
The co-owner of a major Pentagon propaganda contractor publicly admitted Thursday that he was behind a series of websites used in an attempt to discredit two USA TODAY journalists who had reported on the contractor.They save that for Romney campaign donors...
The online "misinformation campaign," first reported last month, has raised questions about whether the Pentagon or its contractors had turned its propaganda operations against U.S. citizens. But Camille Chidiac, the minority owner of Leonie Industries and its former president, said he was responsible for the online activity and was operating independently of the company and the Pentagon.
The Pentagon said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was aware of the statement and "has directed the department to review this matter and to take appropriate action."
"We were deeply disappointed to read this disclosure from Leonie Industries. Smear campaigns — online or anywhere else — are intolerable, and we reject this kind of behavior," Pentagon press secretary George Little said.
Obama apparently likes vampires after all:
Though the Obama campaign has repeatedly attacked Mitt Romney for his career at Bain Capital, President Obama still accepted $7,500 in campaign contributions from three Bain executives. His campaign press secretary, Ben LaBolt told The Politicker the president has no intention of giving the money back.I guess it's nice to see he counts Bain among them...
“No one aside from Mitt Romney is running for President highlighting their tenure as a corporate buyout specialist as one of job creation, when in fact, his goal was profit maximization,” said Mr. LaBolt. ”The President has support from business leaders across industries who have seen him pull the economy back from the brink of another depression, manufacturing and the auto industry revived, and support his agenda to build an economy that lasts where America outinnovates and outeducates the rest of the world and economic security for the middle class is restored.”
The Democrats were hoping that 2012 would be a cakewalk. They were wrong:
“There was this sense maybe a month or two ago that Obama was really riding high — that he had gotten his base behind him and the economy was doing better and it had this Clinton vs. Bob Dole 1996 feeling — that he was going to cruise,” said one 2008 Obama aide who does not work for this year’s campaign. “And now it feels like it’s going to be really tough — a 2004 race.”It's not just their imaginations, either. Pride goeth before a fall, and all that...
Indeed the campaign is shaping up to be a close-combat battle for one percent of swing voters in a few hundred precincts across three or four states…
Moreover, a campaign that two months ago seemed infallible has proven to be very capable of making mistakes. Obama’s aides were taken aback when Vice President Joe Biden publicly backed same sex marriage — and spent a week punishing him for speaking out in the press. Long preparation for attacks on Romney’s time at Bain Capital, aimed at changing the narrative, nevertheless left them flat-footed when Republicans (and even a few Democrats) counter-attacked. Romney, who stumbled into the Republican nomination, scored his first tactical victory of the general election and further shored up the Republican base in the process.
Detroit is literally going dark:
Detroit, whose 139 square miles contain 60 percent fewer residents than in 1950, will try to nudge them into a smaller living space by eliminating almost half its streetlights.Considering where Detroit is headed, that sounds like a lot of distress...
As it is, 40 percent of the 88,000 streetlights are broken and the city, whose finances are to be overseen by an appointed board, can’t afford to fix them. Mayor Dave Bing’s plan would create an authority to borrow $160 million to upgrade and reduce the number of streetlights to 46,000. Maintenance would be contracted out, saving the city $10 million a year.
Other U.S. cities have gone partially dark to save money, among them Colorado Springs; Santa Rosa, California; and Rockford, Illinois. Detroit’s plan goes further: It would leave sparsely populated swaths unlit in a community of 713,000 that covers more area than Boston, Buffalo and San Francisco combined. Vacant property and parks account for 37 square miles (96 square kilometers), according to city planners.
“You have to identify those neighborhoods where you want to concentrate your population,” said Chris Brown, Detroit’s chief operating officer. “We’re not going to light distressed areas like we light other areas.”
Why the Democrats are wrong in their claims that they've cleaned up Republican messes:
The Democrats took control of Congress in January 2007, one-third of the way through FY 2007.It's not exactly something to be proud of. I can understand why they wouldn't want to talk about it...
Now we get to the Obama administration.
So Obama has presided over the four largest federal budget deficits in history, by an extremely wide margin. This is how he “cleaned up” the “wild debts” of his Republican predecessor. Of course, federal spending is not entirely, or even primarily, about the president: only Congress has the power to spend money. So this is one more fact that should not be forgotten: since the Democrats took control of Congress in 2007, federal spending has risen by more than $1 trillion, or 39%.
Leave it to Marion Barry to continue to be his own worst enemy:
D.C. Council member Marion Barry stepped up his campaign on Thursday to mend relations with the Asian community, apologizing again for disparaging remarks he made about Koreans and Filipinos and pledging to work to improve ties between them and African Americans.Marion Barry, an equal opportunity offender...
Yet on his way toward racial harmony, Barry (D-Ward 8) committed another faux pas — this time directed at Polish people — and presided over a sometimes raucous community meeting at which African Americans repeated complaints about the way Koreans maintain carry-out shops.
At a news conference after the meeting, Barry and several Asian American leaders sought to present a united front, saying that the dialogue is an important step toward defusing long-standing tension between blacks and Asians. Asked about the underlying sources of the conflict, Barry said the United States “has had racial tensions since it was founded.”
“The Irish caught hell, the Jews caught hell, the Polacks caught hell,” Barry said, invoking a word that Polish people have viewed as disparaging. “We want Ward 8 to be the model of diversity.”
Asked later about his reference to “Polacks,” Barry at first denied using the word, then retracted it, saying, “I meant Poles.”
His remark prompted a demand from Gary Kenzer, executive director of the Chicago-based Polish American Association, that Barry “apologize to the Polish American community of this country.”
“You wouldn’t say a derogatory statement to an African American, a Jewish American, and we deserve the same respect,” he said.
Thursday, May 24, 2012
The anti-Bain attacks continue to backfire:
President Obama is losing ground in the latest polls to Republican challenger Mitt Romney, who's pushing back against Democrats criticizing his business experience.Corey Booker had it right. The blame games are going nowhere fast.
In the past two weeks, the Obama campaign has rolled out several attacks on Romney and his time at Bain Capital.
"He's running for president, and if he's going to run the country the way he ran our business, I wouldn't want him there," a steelworker says in one ad.
But so far, it's not working.
Instead of a bump in public opinion for the president, recent polls show Romney's approval ratings on the rise -- and sharply so in the key swing state of Florida.
Not this BS again:
Nearly half of the Republicans serving in the New York State Assembly have proposed legislation that would ban anonymous online comments.I'm sure they'll get "input" now, and they should. Unfortunately the Stupid Party is alive and well in New York state.
If enacted, the legislation would require websites — including social networks and online newspapers — to remove all anonymous comments that are brought to the attention of administrators.
An anonymous comment could remain if the author “agrees to attach his or her name to the post and confirms that his or her IP address, legal name, and home address are accurate.”
UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh told The Daily Caller that the bill is “clearly unconstitutional.”
“The Supreme Court has held for 50 years that anonymous speech is protected,” explained Volokh, pointing to the 1960 case Talley v. California. “This kind of breach of anonymity on demand is just not constitutional.”
The sponsor of the state Senate’s version, Republican Thomas O’Mara, told TheDC that he had not initially considered that the legislation might ban First Amendment-protected speech.
“Today is the first day that these issues have been raised,” O’Mara said. “I haven’t gotten any comments from any of my colleagues in the Senate who said that this wasn’t a good idea.”
“I certainly didn’t introduce the legislation with the thought that it was violative of the First Amendment. We’re certainly looking forward to any and all input.”
Once again, those sexist Republicans are...oh, wait:
A group of Democratic female senators on Wednesday declared war on the so-called “gender pay gap,” urging their colleagues to pass the aptly named Paycheck Fairness Act when Congress returns from recess next month. However, a substantial gender pay gap exists in their own offices, a Washington Free Beacon analysis of Senate salary data reveals.Pot, meet kettle, et cetera...
Of the five senators who participated in Wednesday’s press conference—Barbara Mikulski (D., Md.), Patty Murray (D., Wash.), Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.), Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) and Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.)—three pay their female staff members significantly less than male staffers.
Murray, who has repeatedly accused Republicans of waging a “war a women,” is one of the worst offenders. Female members of Murray’s staff made about $21,000 less per year than male staffers in 2011, a difference of 35.2 percent.
That is well above the 23 percent gap that Democrats claim exists between male and female workers nationwide. The figure is based on a 2010 U.S. Census Bureau report, and is technically accurate. However, as CNN’s Lisa Sylvester has reported, when factors such as area of employment, hours of work, and time in the workplace are taken into account, the gap shrinks to about 5 percent.
A significant “gender gap” exists in Feinstein’s office, where women also made about $21,000 less than men in 2011, but the percentage difference—41 percent—was even higher than Murray’s.
Boxer’s female staffers made about $5,000 less, a difference of 7.3 percent.
Charlie Rangle may be in trouble:
There is a growing sense among New York political insiders that next month’s primary could mark the end of 81-year-old Rep. Charlie Rangel’s storied Congressional career.At the very least, a new argument for term limits...
Rangel, the third-most-senior House Member, has been weakened by health, the weight of an ethics rebuke and redistricting. Moreover, he is battling a message, being delivered on multiple fronts, that it’s time for a change and new leadership.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
The Obama administration is now promoting...financial literacy?
According to the campaign, three- to five-year-olds should learn that you need money to buy things, that you earn money by working, that you might need to wait before making purchases, and that wants are not necessarily needs. Six- to 10-year-olds are taught to make spending choices, compare prices, save their money in safe spots, and avoid sharing personal information online. Each lesson comes with helpful ideas for activities: One suggests giving a six-year-old $2 and letting her choose which fruit to buy; another involves setting up a savings account in the child’s name.Those who can't do, teach...
According to the campaign, three- to five-year-olds should learn that you need money to buy things, that you earn money by working, that you might need to wait before making purchases, and that wants are not necessarily needs. Six- to 10-year-olds are taught to make spending choices, compare prices, save their money in safe spots, and avoid sharing personal information online. Each lesson comes with helpful ideas for activities: One suggests giving a six-year-old $2 and letting her choose which fruit to buy; another involves setting up a savings account in the child’s name.
The lessons progress in their complexity up through the 18-and-over category, which highlights the importance of avoiding credit card debt, taking out health insurance, building an emergency savings fund, and investing wisely by avoiding fees and managing risk.
There's still a place of opportunity left in the world:
The new mall culture in Zambia's capital, which I've watched expand almost exponentially in visits over the last three years, is booming all over Africa, in places like Accra and Dakar, Windhoek and Gaborone, Nairobi and Maputo. Driving it are young people like Joshua and his friends, a generation that is growing up like none that preceded it: a bulging new cohort of young people with disposable income, however modest, a keen and up-to-the-minute sense of youth trends and of consumerism around the world, and, most importantly, the expectation that life that will continue to get better and richer and fuller of choices.Remember when it used to be like this in America?
Africa, with a population expected to roughly double by mid-century, has become recognized as the world's fastest growing continent. But the less-told story is of Africa's economic rise. In the last decade Africa's overall growth rates have quietly approached those of Asia, and according to projections by the IMF, on average Africa will have the world's fastest growing economy of any continent over the next five years.
Seven of the world's 10 fastest-growing economies are African. The continent is famously resource rich, which has surely helped, but some recent studies suggest that the biggest drivers are far less customary for Africa, and far more encouraging for its future: wholesale and retail commerce, transportation, telecommunications, and manufacturing.
Obama isn't doing so well the second time around:
President Barack Obama continued to have trouble on Tuesday performing in Democratic primaries in traditionally conservative states, barely eking out wins in Kentucky and Arkansas.Obama most likely won't have any real problems with his re-nomination. But it is telling that Obama can lose to "Uncommitted".
The president didn’t even have an opponent in Kentucky, but with 99 percent of the vote counted, Obama took just 57.9 percent of the vote, with the remaining more than 42 percent of ballots cast for “uncommitted.”
In Arkansas, with 70 percent of the vote tallied, Obama nabbed just 59 percent of the vote. His opponent there, John Wolfe, was able to take 41 percent of the vote at that point, according to The Associated Press.
How the recovery turned into one that isn't:
Of course, recoveries always go in the right direction—that is, things get better over time. But merely going in the right direction is an incredibly low performance standard. Moreover, since deep recessions are generally followed by more robust recoveries, this should have been one of the strongest recoveries ever.Starting at the bottom after having hit rock bottom isn't exactly the way to climb your way back up...
So what went wrong? All the available Keynesian levers for achieving economic growth have been pulled, yet the recovery is one of the weakest since World War II. The problem lies with the way the “stimulus” was carried out, the uncertainty of looming higher taxes, and the antibusiness rhetoric and regulatory strong-arming of this administration.
First, exactly how weak has this recovery been? The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis tracks economic performance for each recovery and compares gross-domestic-product growth and job growth, the two most important indicators of economic performance. Over the past 60 years, there have been 11 recessions and 11 recoveries.
Sadly, this recovery is near the bottom of all 11.
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
The cost of old age:
Growing numbers of older Americans are spending their retirement years in poverty, according to a recent Employee Benefit Research Institute study. The proportion of older people living below the poverty line has been growing steadily since 2005, and many of those people are falling into poverty as they age and spend down their savings.I guess Joe Biden knows who to blame...
Poverty rates for people ages 65 to 74 climbed from 7.9 percent in 2005 to 9.4 percent in 2009, according to the EBRI analysis of University of Michigan health and retirement study data. For older retirees ages 75 to 84, there was an even steeper increase, from 7.6 percent to 10.7 percent over the same time period. But it's the oldest retirees who are the most likely to live in poverty: 14.6 percent did so in 2009.
Many older Americans are falling into poverty as they age. In 2009, the most recent year included in the study, 6 percent of those age 85 older were new entrants in poverty, up from 4.6 percent in 2005. And while 3.3 percent of people ages 75 to 84 fell newly into poverty in 2005, that number increased to 5.6 percent by 2009.
Nascar goes green, sort of:
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, NASCAR will encourage fans to buy “sustainable concessions” at races, expand the use of “safer chemical products,” conserve water, reduce waste, promote recycling, push products approved by the EPA that have a small enviro footprint and encourage suppliers to get an “E3 tuneup” aimed at promoting sustainable manufacturing.In other words, the costs are passed on to the fans in what is mostly a symbolic move. I guess this is part of the Obama administration's "all of the above" approach...
Missing: any talk of greening races or race cars that consume about two million gallons of gas a year and average five miles per gallon.
“Yes, the focus is on suppliers and programs, not green cars,” said an EPA spokesman.
Instead, it’s a first step to get fans and suppliers to think green while favorites like Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Stewart lay down some rubber.
“Because NASCAR is followed by millions of passionate fans and many businesses, it can be a powerful platform to raise environmental awareness, drive the adoption of safer products by more Americans, and support the growing green economy,” said Jim Jones, EPA’s acting assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.
Next item up for bid: The Gipper's blood?
Thirty-one years after Ronald Reagan was shot and nearly killed by a would-be assassin, an online auction house on the island of Guernsey (an autonomous British protectorate and controversial tax haven just off the northern coast of France) is making available to the highest bidder a glass vial it says once held the president’s blood.You could call it "bodily fluids wars..."
Now fans can put in a bid for a 5-inch long, plasma-stained glass tube and an accompanying medical form listing Reagan’s patient identification number, age, sex, and the name of the hospital’s chief cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon. None of the boxes on the form indicating which tests should be done are ticked off, but instructions are written onto the page requesting the sample’s “lead level” be examined.
The anonymous seller provided online auctioneers with a “letter of provenance,” claiming that his mother, then a technician at Bio Science Laboratories in nearby Columbia, Md., was given permission by a supervisor to take the vial home at the end of the week Reagan was shot. When his parents died, the seller writes, the vial was passed on to him.
“About 3 to 4 months ago,” he continues, “I contacted the Reagan National Library (sic) and spoke to the head of the library, a Federal Agent. I told him what I had, how I came across it and so on. We spoke for about 45 minutes. The reason that I contacted the Reagan National Library was to see if they would like to purchase it from me. He indicated that if I was interested in donating it he would see to it that he would take care of all of the arrangements.”
But he wanted to sell it, and after finding that the “National Archives was not interested in what I had, nor was the Secret Service, the FBI and other agencies,” he decided to put it on the block.
In Egypt, it's apparently Mitt Romney:
Presented with a choice between President Obama and likely Republican candidate Mitt Romney, 73% said they preferred Romney, and only 25% chose Obama. It is unlikely that most Egyptians know much about Romney, and the choice is more likely to be an expression of disappointment with Obama. When Obama first came to office in 2009, even before his important speech in Cairo, Egyptian public opinion of the President was more favorable than unfavorable.I thought for sure they'd go for his stimulus plans...
Monday, May 21, 2012
It's a rebellion in progress:
Catholic archdioceses and institutions filed suit in federal district courts across the country Monday against the so-called contraception mandate, claiming their “fundamental rights hang in the balance.”If he's lost Notre Dame...
The plaintiffs include a host of schools and organizations, including the University of Notre Dame and the Archdiocese of New York. The lawsuits, though related, were filed individually.
The schools are objecting to the requirement from the federal health care overhaul that employers provide access to contraceptive care. The Obama administration several months back softened its position on the mandate, but some religious organizations complained the administration did not go far enough to ensure the rule would not compel them to violate their religious beliefs.
Sunday, May 20, 2012
Oh, my. Newark's own Cory Booker defends "vampires":
As far as that stuff, I have to say from a very personal level, I’m not about to sit here and indict private equity. It’s—to me, we’re just getting to a ridiculous point in America. Especially, I know, I live in a state where pension funds, unions and other people are investing in companies like Bain Capital. If you look at the totality of Bain Capital’s record, they’ve done a lot to support businesses, to grow businesses; this to me, I’m very uncomfortable.The more Obama's cronies attack the kinds of businesses that can actually create business, the more they continue to alienate themselves from those who actually know how businesses work in their states. So much for bloodsucking.
Students get a lesson in free speech:
Last Monday, a high school student in North Carolina engaged his social studies teacher in a heated debate about politics and the two leading presidential candidates. During the exchange, the teacher (an obvious Obama supporter) got very angry with the student and accused him of disrespecting the president. She even went so far as to tell the boy that he could be jailed for speaking ill of Obama.Needless to say, attempts at a fair debate didn't go down well:
Sarah Campbell of the Salisbury Post first reported on the story. She claims that the school district is not releasing the name of the teacher and that she is not responding to requests for public comment (although the two students identified her to the newspaper). According to Campbell’s story, the teacher will not be suspended or even face disciplinary action for what was heard on the recording.
As one student attempted to argue for a fair, two-sided debate on the history of the candidates, he was shouted down and talked over by the teacher. She continued:This is the equivelant of the Left sticking their fingers in their collective ears. The desperation is showing, big time.
“You got to realize, this man is wanting to be what Obama is. There’s no comparison.”
Once again, the students pressed for equal discussion of the histories of both men, with one saying:
“If you’re gonna talk trash about one side, you gotta talk trash about the other.”
The teacher just seemed to dig her heels in deeper and press her defense of Obama telling the defiant teen:
“You will not disrespect the president of the United States in this classroom.”
Again the student persisted and invoked his First Amendment right.
“I’ll say what I want.”
The still unidentified teacher read the student her rules…her Obama rules.
“Not about him, you won’t!”
Saturday, May 19, 2012
I guess they had to use the money somehow:
The state of West Virginia is using $24 million in federal economic stimulus money to put high-powered Internet computer routers in small libraries, elementary schools and health clinics, even though the pricey equipment is designed to serve major research universities, medical centers and large corporations, a Gazette-Mail investigation has found.But not all needs are equal, and for a state like West Virginia which has a smaller population, one size definitely doesn't fit all.
The state purchased 1,064 routers two years ago, after receiving a $126 million federal stimulus grant to expand high-speed Internet across West Virginia.
The Cisco 3945 series routers, which cost $22,600 each, are built to serve "tens of thousands" of users or device connections, according to a Cisco sales agent. The routers are designed to serve a minimum of 500 users.
Yet state broadband project officials directed the installation of the stimulus-funded Cisco routers in West Virginia schools with fewer than a dozen computers and libraries that have only a single terminal for patrons.
"The routers have a lot of power," said Karen Goff, executive secretary of the West Virginia Library Commission. "Because the routers are so big, our tech guys had to build shelves for them. The libraries had no other place to put them."
West Virginia Homeland Security chief Jimmy Gianato, who's leading the state broadband project, defended the $24 million router purchase last week, saying the devices "could meet many different needs and be used for multiple applications..."
...Gianato said putting the same size router in every school was about "equal opportunity."
"We wanted to make sure a student in McDowell County had the same opportunities as a student in Kanawha County or anywhere else," he said. "A student in a school of 200 students should have the same opportunity as a student in a school with 2,000 students."
Meet the "peaceful" left:
Three NATO Summit protesters have been arrested and charged with possession of an explosive device and conspiracy to commit terrorism, police said.I wonder if they had any friends in Ohio...
Sources said the protesters were suspected of building Molotov cocktails — bottles filled with flammable liquid that are used as firebombs.
The three men were identified by police and their attorneys as Brian Church, 20, of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; Jared Chase, 24, of Keene, New Hampshire; and Brent Vincent Betterly, 24, of Oakland Park, Fl.
They were charged early Saturday as dozens of dignitaries from around the globe are heading to Chicago for the NATO Summit. The men have a noon bond hearing Saturday, their lawyers said.
The men have been each charged with three felony counts: possession of an explosive or incendiary device, conspiracy to commit terrorism, and providing material support to terrorism, said Harrison District Police Lt. Kenneth Stoppa.
Welcome to the USA:
Chen Guangcheng, the blind legal defender who made a dramatic escape from house arrest and whose decision to seek refuge in the American Embassy here jolted American-Sino relations, left China aboard a commercial flight bound for Newark on Saturday.Chen is, at least, free, and a reminder that many of his fellow Chinese still are not.
Mr. Chen and his family departed around 5:30 p.m. on a United Airlines flight after facing earlier delays. The Chens, accompanied by American officials, were brought onto the plane shortly before takeoff and seated in the business-class cabin. Flight attendants drew a curtain around their seats and barred other passengers in the cabin from using the toilet while the plane was on the runway.
In a statement, American officials obliquely praised the Chinese government for its cooperation in resolving what had become a diplomatic headache for both sides. “We also express our appreciation for the manner in which we were able to resolve this matter and to support Mr. Chen’s desire to study in the U.S. and pursue his goals,” Victoria Nuland, a State Department spokeswoman said.
Speaking by cellphone before he boarded the flight, Mr. Chen told friends he was excited to leave China but that he was also worried about the fate of relatives left behind. “He’s happy to finally have a rest after seven years of suffering, but he’s also worried they will suffer some retribution,” said Bob Fu, president of ChinaAid, a Christian advocacy group in Texas that championed Mr. Chen’s case.
Eat not, lest ye be judged:
New research has determined that a judgmental attitude may just go hand in hand with exposure to organic foods. In fact, a new study published this week in the journal of Social Psychological and Personality Science, has found that organic food may just make people act a bit like jerks.The arrogance of imagined superiority can do that...
"There's a line of research showing that when people can pat themselves on the back for their moral behavior, they can become self-righteous," says author Kendall Eskine, assistant professor of the department of psychological sciences at Loyola University in New Orleans. "I've noticed a lot of organic foods are marketed with moral terminology, like Honest Tea, and wondered if you exposed people to organic food, if it would make them pat themselves on the back for their moral and environmental choices. I wondered if they would be more altruistic or not."
To find out, Eskine and his team divided 60 people into three groups. One group was shown pictures of clearly labeled organic food, like apples and spinach.
The results did not bode well for the organic folks.
"We found that the organic people judged much harder compared to the control or comfort food groups," says Eskine. "On a scale of 1 to 7, the organic people were like 5.5 while the controls were about a 5 and the comfort food people were like a 4.89."
When it came to helping out a needy stranger, the organic people also proved to be more selfish, volunteering only 13 minutes as compared to 19 minutes (for controls) and 24 minutes (for comfort food folks).
"There's something about being exposed to organic food that made them feel better about themselves," says Eskine. "And that made them kind of jerks a little bit, I guess."
The narrative of the Trayvon Martin case seems to have developed a few holes:
A medical report by George Zimmerman’s doctor has disclosed that Zimmerman had a fractured nose, two black eyes, two lacerations on the back of his head and a back injury on the day after the fatal shooting. Moreover, the New York Times has reported that traces of marijuana were found in Trayvon Martin’s body and that Martin’s father initially said that the voice crying for help was not that of his son. It is also been reported that a bruise was found on Martin’s ring finger that would be consistent with Martin having punched Zimmerman. No other wounds, aside of course from the fatal bullet hole in the front of Martin’s body, were found.Facts and evidence. Things that the media-but hopefully, not the court-seem to keep ignoring.
Friday, May 18, 2012
Why Facebook flopped:
Market pros will be debating the lessons to be drawn from the disastrous first-day trading in Facebook’s initial public offering. But one lesson is that when given enough information, investors can find their way through fogbanks of hype.Well, at least now Mark Zuckerberg can claime he meant what he said.
When a stock offering is as closely followed as Facebook’s, it’s much more likely that the shares will be fully valued than that they’ll harbor hidden treasure. Facebook went public at $38 a share, and after a day of epically heavy trading, closed at $38.23, for a gain of 0.61%. Not quite the huge pop market mavens were predicting.
The expected pattern is that public investors — “dumb money” in Wall Street regard — react more to hype than to fundamentals. That’s why savvy Wall Street traders take it as a bearish signal when small investors pile into a stock or the stock market.
This time the expected frenzy didn’t materialize. What accounts for the disappointing showing? A few things come to mind. Among the downsides of becoming a public company is that your dirty laundry gets a public airing. In the run-up to the IPO, Facebook’s linens were out on the clothesline for all to see.
The Democrats seem to be worried:
After a poll released this week showed President Barack Obama only beating his Democratic primary opponent John Wolfe Jr. by seven points, 45 percent to 38 percent, in Arkansas's Fourth Congressional District, state Democrats moved to practically disenfranchise Arkansas voters. "[D]elegates Wolfe might claim won't be recognized at the national convention," national party officials are telling state Democrats. Wolfe is being accused of not following the party rules.At least Joe Biden seems to understand where he's coming from:
“They want a coronation,” Wolfe tells THE WEEKLY STANDARD. “They’re conflating [Obama] with the party. Are we supposed to call him ‘Dear Leader’? Is this some kind of North Korea thing?”
Wolfe insists he’s done the due diligence to qualify for delegates and that the state party is making decisions ad hoc to get the results they desire. “This is ridiculous," he says. "These guys are trying to tamp down voter enthusiasm.”
The war on guitars continues:
Lawmakers are scrambling to save the summer concert season from federal agents poised to seize the instruments of rock and country stars because the wood used to make them may have been illegally harvested--and without their knowledge.I guess the Justice Department needs a distraction these days...
“I don’t want the musicians from Nashville who are flying to Canada to perform this summer to worry about the government seizing their guitars,” said Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander.
Alexander, whose state is home to famed Gibson Guitars used by bands and stars like Van Halen, the Allman Brothers, Sheryl Crow, Ted Nugent and Paul McCartney, said Friday that he and Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden are working to protect the artists, their instruments and makers and eventually change the law governing illegal wood harvesting.
“Senator Wyden and I are going to write the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service a letter in the next couple of weeks and try to make it clear that wood harvested before 2008 to make musical instruments can’t be seized by the federal government,” Alexander said in a statement. “The Justice Department and Fish and Wildlife have said they have no intention of doing that, but Sen. Wyden and I are going to make it absolutely clear. We hope to get a clear ruling within a few weeks, and if we can’t get a clear ruling, we’ll introduce legislation to change the Lacey Act.”
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Remembering Donna Summer:
Unlike some other stars of disco who faded as the music became less popular, she was able to grow beyond it and later segued to a pop-rock sound. She had one of her biggest hits in the 1980s with "She Works Hard for the Money," which became an anthem for women's rights.The queen is gone, but not forgotten:
Soon after, Summer became a born-again Christian and faced controversy when she was accused of making anti-gay comments in relation to the AIDS epidemic. Summer denied making the comments but was the target of a boycott.
Still, even as disco went out of fashion she remained a fixture in dance clubs, endlessly sampled and remixed into contemporary dance hits.
Her last album, "Crayons," was released in 2008 and marked her first full studio album in 17 years. She also performed on "American Idol" that year with its top female contestants.
A new survey suggests that most people already know what they've been told all along:
People understand that we are spending more over the last ten years. Nearly nine of ten Republicans know it (86%), and almost as many independents (81%). Only 61% of Democrats correctly answer that question, while 16% believe it’s stayed the same. Younger voters tend to follow the same pattern (66% and 10% respectively), while older demos have more than 80% each answering correctly. Self-identified Tea Party members do a little better than non-members (87% to 73%), while the working-class incomes score higher than lower and higher brackets.If the political class had it right, they wouldn't be so wrong so much of the time...
The most ironic part of the survey? The political class, which should know this better than most, only gets 65% answering correctly, while 85% of the mainstream gets it right.
Well, this is somewhat strange:
Breitbart News has obtained a promotional booklet produced in 1991 by Barack Obama's then-literary agency, Acton & Dystel, which touts Obama as "born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii."I wouldn't call it a "smoking gun" that the conspiracy theorists were right after all, but here's the image with the aforementioned information:
The booklet, which was distributed to "business colleagues" in the publishing industry, includes a brief biography of Obama among the biographies of eighty-nine other authors represented by Acton & Dystel.
It also promotes Obama's anticipated first book, Journeys in Black and White--which Obama abandoned, later publishing Dreams from My Father instead.
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Is this connected to anything?
Puzzling break-ins over the last month at the offices of at least three House members and several committees have U.S. Capitol Police gumshoes working to find a pattern and the culprits, with missing items ranging from cash and expensive computer equipment to autographed baseballs and alcohol.It could all just be a coincidence, of course...
In at least four of the cases, thieves broke into the offices at night when doors were locked, leading some staffers to believe they were victims of an inside job.
“The evidence points to someone with access to my office, and other offices in the Capitol complex, as the perpetrator,” freshman Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., surmised in a letter to the House’s Office of the Chief Administrative Officer.
Other offices hit—many of which handle information dealing with issues of national security, though nothing of a sensitive nature was reportedly taken—include those of Reps. Jerry Lewis, R-Calif., and Jon Runyan, R-N.J.; the Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security; and the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
John McCain is at it again:
Sen. John McCain is talking with Democrats about a joint effort to require outside groups that have spent millions of dollars on this year’s elections to disclose their donors.I'm no fan of unions, but they have a right to make political contributions just as much as "rich donors" do. Real reform would get rid of the need for Super PACs in the first place, which are McCain's real legacy.
Good-government advocates who worked with McCain in the 1990s and early 2000s had begun to think he’d given up on the issue. But McCain said Tuesday he could join Democrats once again to form a bipartisan coalition, even though it would annoy the Republican leadership.
“I’ve been having discussions with Sen. [Sheldon] Whitehouse [D-R.I.] and a couple others on the issue,” McCain told The Hill.
McCain said he wants to ensure the legislation is balanced to cover labor union activity as well as spending by corporations and rich individuals.
“I want it to be balanced and address the issue of union contributions as well as other outside contributions,” he said.
There's no question that people are pessimistic these days:
If voters conclude that Mr Obama has failed them on the economy, they will fire him and hire Mitt Romney in November. That is normal. Less normal is how many Americans have come to think that the country is not just passing through a rough patch but is in long-term decline. A survey of 12 swing states found 55% agreeing that the jobs being created in the recovery are of lower quality than those jobs lost during the recession. By a margin of nearly two to one, Americans expect their children’s jobs, salaries and benefits to be worse than their own. Some 35% go so far as to say that America’s best days are behind it.Of course, many will argue that things will get even better when we have real hope and change in Washington...
America is prone to bouts of “declinism”. In the 1980s the country was in a funk about the rise of Japan and its own vanishing competitiveness. Another bout was bound to follow China’s rise, two grinding wars and the deep recession of 2008. The gloom is nourished by a fountain of declinist literature. In “Time to Start Thinking” Ed Luce of the Financial Times ponders an America “in descent”. Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute and Thomas Mann of Brookings claim in a book on America’s politics (reviewed here two weeks ago) that “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks”.
Yet anyone who prefers their glass half-full can find grounds for optimism. The first Boeing 787 Dreamliner has just landed in Washington, DC. It will be decades before China can make such a machine. The IMF is predicting average growth of over 2% for 2012 and 2013, not meteoric but not bad for a mature economy. America has a young workforce, with plenty of skilled people knocking at the door to come in. It still has more of the world’s best universities than any other country. It is the world’s largest producer of natural gas and its biggest food exporter. Amid the gloom, the economy is getting “Better, Stronger, Faster”, argues Daniel Gross, in a book of that name published this week.
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
One man's vampire is another man's campaign donor:
On Monday night Mr. Obama spoke at a fund-raiser at the Manhattan home of Tony James, the president of the private-equity giant, the Blackstone Group. Attendees, many from the private-equity world, paid $35,800 a head for the privilege of dining with the President who purports to loathe Wall Street when he isn't asking its greedy denizens to redistribute their wealth to his campaign. Mr. James donated the legal maximum of $35,800 to the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee in November 2011.Obama may be trying to play both sides of the street, but it's not helping, especially when others start noticing:
This is the same private-equity business the Obama campaign is now smearing as morally repugnant when undertaken by Mitt Romney. On Monday Team Obama rolled out a two-minute television ad focusing on a steel company that was bought and eventually shuttered by Bain Capital, the private-equity firm that Mr. Romney founded.
One clip features a steelworker comparing Bain to "a vampire. They came in and sucked the life out of us." Mr. Romney's GOP rival Rick Perry had used the phrase "vulture capitalism," so perhaps the Obama campaign decided it had to go one better and compare private equity to the undead.
Asked about the attack on Mr. Romney, deputy Obama campaign manager Stephanie Cutter said yesterday the President isn't "questioning private equity as a whole." But that wasn't the message as recently as April, when Team Obama posted on a website a list of eight private citizens who were Romney donors and whom it said had "less than reputable records."
A Catholic university bails on Obamacare:
“The Obama Administration has mandated that all health insurance plans must cover “women’s health services” including contraception, sterilization, and abortion-causing medications as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA),” the university says in a new post on its website. “Up to this time, Franciscan University has specifically excluded these services and products from its student health insurance policy, and we will not participate in a plan that requires us to violate the consistent teachings of the Catholic Church on the sacredness of human life.”Needless to say, they're not the only ones who would get hurt by health care "reform". The simple reality is that "free stuff" is never free...
“Additionally, the PPACA increased the mandated maximum coverage amount for student policies to $100,000 for the 2012-13 school year, which would effectively double your premium cost for the policy in fall 2012, with the expectation of further increases in the future,” FUS continues.
“Due to these changes in regulation by the federal government, beginning with the 2012-13 school year, the University 1) will no longer require that all full-time undergraduate students carry health insurance, 2) will no longer offer a student health insurance plan, and 3) will no longer bill those not covered under a parent/guardian plan or personal plan for student health insurance,” the college said.
Democrats in Wisconisn aren't happy with their national party colleagues apparently abandoning them:
The failure to put up the money Wisconsin Dems need to execute their recall plan comes at a time when the national Republican Party is sinking big money into defending Walker, raising fears that the DNC’s reluctance could help tip the race his way.Maybe the DNC doesn't want to back a potential loser...
“We are frustrated by the lack of support from the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Governors Association,” a top Wisconsin Democratic Party official tells me. “Scott Walker has the full support and backing of the Republican Party and all its tentacles. We are not getting similar support.”
Team Obama, meet your constituents:
Dozens of demonstrators dashed into the Loop building housing President Barack Obama's campaign headquarters this morning, slipping past security guards and running up escalators as they kicked off what they called a "Week Without Capitalism."Of course Obama wasn't there, but I'm sure he was with them in spirit as he attended his latest Hollywood fundraiser.
Eight protesters were led out in handcuffs about half an hour later after they refused to clear the lobby. They were cheered by other demonstrators who began dancing and singing folk and gospel songs.
The demonstration, organized by the Catholic Worker movement. began with about 100 demonstrators picketing at Prudential Plaza and passing out rolls to commuters in what they called a symbolic invitation to break bread with world leaders expected here this weekend for the NATO summit.
After about 30 minutes marching and singing outside the building, the group tried to enter the building and reach Obama’s campaign offices around 8:30 a.m.
Monday, May 14, 2012
And the public service unions wonder why people don't trust them:
Government workers are among the employees most likely to cheat their employers, according to a new study.They've learned well from their Union bosses...
The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), the world’s largest anti-fraud organization, found that public-sector administration employees are responsible for more than 10 percent of fraud cases, ranking behind only financial professionals. In 141 cases examined, the group found that a crooked employee costs taxpayers a median loss of $100,000.
ACFE analyzed nearly 1,400 cases of fraud and corruption worldwide and found that “banking and financial services, government and public administration, and manufacturing accounted for a combined 37 percent of the fraud cases reported.”
It seems that the Obama administration may have blown a spy's cover:
Just a week ago the establishment media was aflutter with news that a CIA double-agent had thwarted a new type of underwear bomb attack targeting U.S. flights in a plot devised by al-Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula.Spiking the football has turned into a fumble...
But as the week progressed, a developing bombshell story got buried under President Obama’s gay marriage announcement. Not only is the supposed CIA asset not a CIA asset at all, but the entire operation was exposed prematurely and the double-agent’s life was immediately threatened by an intelligence leak that very well may have come out of the White House for political gain.
As the story broke, the establishment media was more than happy to attribute the intelligence coup to the CIA and the Obama administration, describing the mole as a “CIA informant.”
It turns out that wasn’t true. The double-agent hadn’t been recruited and placed by the CIA, but by British intelligence, who also managed the operation. In fact, the Americans had only recently been made aware of the joint British-Saudi effort.
The leaks about the operation from the American side have infuriated British intelligence officials, who had hoped to continue the operation. The leaks not only scuttled the mission but put the life of the asset in jeopardy. Even CIA officials, joining their MI5 and MI6 counterparts, were describing the leaks as “despicable,” attributing them to the Obama administration.
Sunday, May 13, 2012
As those who can still afford to live in California know, the state is in deep financial do-do. So, what's Jerry Brown's solution?
“We are now facing a $16 billion hole, not the $9 billion we thought in January,” Mr. Brown said. “This means we will have to go much further and make cuts far greater than I asked for at the beginning of the year.”Congratulations, liberals-you've turned California into Greece.
Mr. Brown disclosed the news in a video that had all the trappings of a campaign announcement. In it, he aggressively accounted for the steps he said he had taken to try to scale back a $26 billion deficit he found upon taking office. And he urged viewers to back an initiative he is putting on the November ballot that would increase sales taxes by 0.25 percent and impose an income tax surcharge on wealthy Californians to try to stave off more cuts.
State officials said Mr. Brown’s proposal would include a package of immediate cuts, as well as others that would be triggered only if voters failed to approve his tax plan. The sales tax increase would expire after four years, while the income tax surcharge would last for seven years.
State officials said the shortfall was a result of disappointing revenue collections in April as California continued to struggle to pull out of the recession. “We are still recovering from the worst recession since the 1930s,” Mr. Brown said.
We may soon be gaining an edge on the rare earth front:
Encouraged by rising prices and political support, new mines are starting up around the world, most notably in Malaysia and in California, where a company called Molycorp has reopened what until the 1980s was the world’s flagship rare-earth mine.This is assuming, of course, that the environmentalists and the EPA don't find ways of preventing mining first...
“In five years there will be rare earths produced all over the world and China will lose its edge,” said mining analyst John Kaiser, editor of Kaiser Research Online. “Molycorp is part of that equation. They’re putting back into production what was once the largest rare-earth mine in the world. And this is a good thing because it takes away power concentrated in China.”
Located in Mountain Pass, California, about an hour west of Las Vegas, the mine sits atop mineral deposits discovered in the late 1940s by geologists looking for commercial-grade uranium. They found some of the world’s richest reserves of bastnasite, a mineral containing higher-than-usual concentrations of rare-earth elements like cerium, lanthanum and yttrium.
What happens when you put the green agenda before the horse:
Under the 2007 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency stipulates that gasoline and diesel refiners must blend a certain amount of "renewable fuel" into their products or face penalties.Of course, we do have fuel alternatives in natural gas-but of course that's the wrong kind of energy...
The vast majority of the biofuel being produced now is corn-derived ethanol, on which the RFS places a cap of 15 billion gallons by 2015. So to satisfy the federal mandate that 36 billion gallons of biofuel be blended into the overall supply by 2022, the U.S. biofuels industry will have to produce a substantial amount of other types of biofuels—especially cellulosic ethanol, which can be made from wood chips and grasses.
But in 2007, Congress vastly overestimated the government's ability to create a market for cellulosic biofuels, which remain much more expensive to produce than corn ethanol. There was no commercial production of cellulosic fuel in 2010 or 2011—even though the 2007 law originally called for 100 million and 250 million gallons, respectively, for those years (the requirements were subsequently scaled back to around 6.5 million gallons for each year).
Several more facilities should begin commercial production in 2013, but it's hard to believe that the industry will come even close to producing a billion gallons—the goal for that year, set by Congress in 2007. And the 2022 mandate of 36 billion total gallons of biofuel—16 of that cellulosic—is looking more unrealistic every year.
Well, Newsweek's latest cover is now, er, out:
With not everybody in his own party on board with Obama's "evolution," I have to wonder how far Andrew Sullivan's agenda will actually help The One. I don't have a problem with gay rights in general-just with those who see it as a purely political agenda, as Obama apparently does.
With not everybody in his own party on board with Obama's "evolution," I have to wonder how far Andrew Sullivan's agenda will actually help The One. I don't have a problem with gay rights in general-just with those who see it as a purely political agenda, as Obama apparently does.
Saturday, May 12, 2012
When being an American becomes too inconvenient:
Eduardo Saverin, the billionaire co- founder of Facebook Inc. (FB), renounced his U.S. citizenship before an initial public offering that values the social network at as much as $96 billion, a move that may reduce his tax bill.Maybe he just saw the signs?
Facebook plans to raise as much as $11.8 billion through the IPO, the biggest in history for an Internet company. Saverin’s stake is about 4 percent, according to the website whoownsfacebook.com. At the high end of the proposed IPO market capitalization, that would be worth about $3.84 billion. His holdings aren’t listed in Facebook’s regulatory filings.
Saverin, 30, joins a growing number of people giving up U.S. citizenship ahead of a possible increase in tax rates for top earners. The Brazilian-born resident of Singapore is one of several people who helped Mark Zuckerberg start Facebook in a Harvard University dormitory and stand to reap billions of dollars after the world’s largest social network holds its IPO.
“Eduardo recently found it more practical to become a resident of Singapore since he plans to live there for an indefinite period of time,” said Tom Goodman, a spokesman for Saverin, in an e-mailed statement.
Friday, May 11, 2012
What Bill Clinton really thought about The One:
Bill Clinton thought so little of President Obama — mocking him as an “amateur” — that he pressed his wife last summer to quit her job as secretary of state and challenge him in the primaries, a new book claims,It's one of those rare occurances where I actually agree with Bill Clinton...
“The country needs you!” the former president told Hillary Clinton, urging her to run this year, according to accounts of the conversation included in Edward Klein’s new biography of Obama.
The title of Klein’s explosive, unauthorized bio of Obama, “The Amateur” (Regnery Publishing), was taken directly from Bill Clinton’s bombshell criticism of the president, the author said.
“Barack Obama,” Bill Clinton said, according to book excerpts, “is an amateur.”
The withering criticism is incredible, given the fact that Bill Clinton is actively campaigning for Obama’s re-election.
But according to the book, Bill Clinton unloaded on Obama and pressed Hillary to run against her boss during a gathering in the ex-president’s home office in Chappaqua last August that included longtime friends, Klein said.
“The economy’s a mess, it’s dead flat. America has lost its Triple-A rating . . . You know better than Obama does,” Bill said.
Bill Clinton insisted he had “no relationship” with Obama and had been consulted more frequently by his presidential successor, George W. Bush.
Obama, Bill Clinton said, “doesn’t know how to be president” and is “incompetent.”