Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tea Party TV

I know, some people will say this is what Fox News is for:
The Tea Party News Network, self-described as "the only trusted news source and the antidote to mainstream media bias," is already live but will announce its launch tomorrow morning, with plans to start live video on election day. TPNN claims to have a "war room of 40-plus volunteers" who will operate out of the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas, and has established partnerships with the Talk Radio Network and radio host Rusty Humphries, who will be co-anchoring the election night coverage.

"There are plenty of news websites out there, but there isn’t one that caters directly to Tea Party conservatives, providing activists with coverage and opinion that matters to them. The Tea Party News Network changes that," Todd Cefaratti, editor of the Tea Party News Network, said in a statement for the forthcoming press release.
A young, scrappy, alternative news organization. But they laughed at the aforementioned Fox News, too...

The Invisible Jobs

Something doesn't add up:
Revisions to the way payroll data firm ADP counts private sector job creation have resulted in a sharp drop in the September employment count.

ADP's new calculations put the monthly job creation at just 88,200, down from the 162,000 the firm originally reported earlier this month.

When the Labor Department revealed its September job count, it sparked criticism from some quarters that the numbers were being manipulated for political purposes as the November presidential election drew near.

The soft ADP count could add credence to those who believe the pace of job creation is slower than the government's numbers indicate.

"It's huge, no doubt about it," said Todd Schoenberger, managing principal at the BlackBay Group in New York. "Their changing the methodology tells me that if the number is cut in half with that revision, then the revision we're going to see Friday is going to be a disaster."
This seems to have been the case with the last several reports...

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Don't Call Us

Now is not the time for a photo-op:
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg told residents at a Tuesday night briefing that he asked President Obama not to visit the storm-stricken city to view the devastation caused by Sandy.

"We'd love to have him, but we've got lots of things to do," Bloomberg said, adding that the president's planned trip to New Jersey Wednesday is "fine."

"It represents the whole region," he said. "People understand the storm and he doesn't have to...he's got a lot of things to do."

The mayor said he was "flattered" that Obama offered to visit, but "the thing for him to do is to go to New Jersey and represent the country."
Maybe he could do a flyover, because that worked so well in the past...

Feeding FEMA

Why cutting spending for FEMA may actually be a good idea:
Like many otherwise worthwhile federal endeavors, including those that happen inside that famous five-sided building in Washington, FEMA has managed over the years to waste truly shocking amounts of money, e.g. spending $416,000 per capita to temporarily house people displaced by Hurricane Katrina, spending nearly $1 billion on manufactured homes that FEMA’s own regulations rendered unusable in many situations, etc.
As Glenn reynolds notes:
...the heroic first responders you saw last night were mostly NYPD and NYFD, and their counterparts in New Jersey, etc. With the exception of the Coast Guard, nearly all the rescuing was being done by state and municipal employees, not by FEMA.
No agency is immune from waste or incompetence, and when safety and lives are at risk, accountability simply becomes all the more necessary.

President Of Europe

Tony Blair says it's time for one:
In a move interpreted by some as a job application, the former prime minister said the EU could do with a strong leader approved by the people.

He also warned that too deep a political divide between Britain and the core eurozone countries could lead towards a break-up.

"Out of this European crisis can come the opportunity finally to achieve a model of European integration that is sustainable," said Mr Blair. "A Europe-wide election for the presidency... is the most direct way to involve the public."

Europe's millions of residents might feel "alienated" unless they have a direct say in who is governing them, Mr Blair told the Nicolas Berggruen Institute on Governance.
I think they already feel alienated by their unelected Eurocrats, don't they?

The Dark Empire

I sense a great disturbance in the Force:
The Walt Disney Company has agreed to buy Lucasfilm Ltd., which includes the Star Wars franchise, for $4.05 billion in cash and stock from George Lucas, it was announced Tuesday.

The deal includes a tentative 2015 release date of Stars Wars Episode 7, along with the possibility of growing the franchise with more feature films.

“Lucasfilm reflects the extraordinary passion, vision, and storytelling of its founder, George Lucas,” Robert A. Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company, said in a statement.

Current Co-Chairman of Lucasfilm, Kathleen Kennedy, will become President and report to Walt Disney Chairman Alan Horn.

“This transaction combines a world-class portfolio of content including Star Wars, one of the greatest family entertainment franchises of all time, with Disney’s unique and unparalleled creativity across multiple platforms, businesses, and markets to generate sustained growth and drive significant long-term value,” Iger said.
We'll see how this works out...but somewhere, I fear that the ghosts of Obi-Wan, Yoda and Anakin Skywalker aren't happy...

The Votes Are In

At least as far as Obamacare seems to be concerned:
The repeal of Obamacare is now supported by men (by 24 points), women (by 7 points), voters between the ages of 40 and 64 (by 22 points), seniors (by 32 points — and better than 2-to-1), Republicans (by 75 points — and better than 7-to-1), independents (by 9 points), those who make less than $20,000 annually (by 15 points), those who make between $20,000 and $40,000 (by 18 points), those who make between $40,000 and $60,000 (by 12 points), those who make between $60,000 and $75,000 (by 35 points — and better than 2-to-1), those who make between $75,000 and $100,000 (by 12 points), those who make $100,000 or more (by 3 points), those who work for private companies (by 6 points), those who are entrepreneurs (by 28 points), those who are retired (by 30 points), those who didn’t graduate from high school (by 49 points — and better than 3-to-1), those who graduated from high school but haven’t attended college (by 51 points — and better than 2-to-1), those who went to college but haven’t graduated (by 29 points), and those who graduated from college but haven’t attended graduate school (by 8 points).

The repeal of Obamacare is opposed by voters under the age of 40 (by 4 points), Democrats (by 40 points — and better than 2-to-1), government employees (by 3 points), and those who have attended graduate school (by 10 points) — in other words, by Obama’s core constituency.
Obama seems to be preaching to an increasingly smaller choir these days...

The Campaign Must Go On

Never let a natural disaster go to waste:
President Obama may have suspended his campaign rallies due to Hurricane Sandy, but he managed to squeeze in his campaign slogan — intentionally or not — during a briefing Tuesday with federal emergency officials.

"The president made clear that he expects his team to remain focused as the immediate impacts of Hurricane Sandy continue and lean forward in their response," the White House said in a statement about Mr. Obama's video-teleconference that he conducted from the White House Situation Room. "Forward" is the slogan of his re-election campaign.
Ever forward, come hell or high water...

Storm Paper Chasers

Well, as long as they're taking care of the important things:
The Labor Department sought on Monday to quell worries that Hurricane Sandy, which has closed federal offices as it bears down on the East Coast, could delay the scheduled release of its monthly employment numbers on Friday.

“The employees at the Bureau of Labor Statistics are working hard to ensure the timely release of employment data on Friday, Nov. 2,” Labor Department spokesman Carl Fillichio said in a statement. “It is our intention that Friday will be business as usual regarding the October Employment Situation report.”

Although the monthly jobs numbers are always closed watched, Friday’s will be particularly so, coming just days before the Nov. 6 presidential election. Economists surveyed by Reuters expect nonfarm payrolls to grow by 124,000 and the unemployment rate to edge up to 7.9 percent after falling to 7.8 percent in September from 8.1 percent in August.
Given what the last few job reports were like, perhaps it's not too surprising that they'd prefer to wait...

When Mouthpieces Attack

The NY Times gets attacked by...another left-wing newspaper:
The mouthpiece newspaper of China's Communist Party has launched a blistering attack on The New York Times, accusing it of "faking" and "distorting" news and being a government "propaganda tool".
The 1,500 word People's Daily editorial appeared to be a direct response to The New York Times's explosive exposé last week about the $2.7 billion (£1.67 billion) "hidden fortune" of the family of Chinese prime minister Wen Jiabao.
But in a humiliating about-turn, within hours of the People's Daily publishing its lengthy assault on the American newspaper's journalistic integrity it emerged that much of the Chinese newspaper's critique had in fact been plagiarised from other sources.
The Beijing-based People's Daily turned its canons on the 161-year-old newspaper on Monday, three days after The New York Times published the highly embarrassing results of its one-year investigation into Mr Wen's family's finances.
The Times may be a propaganda tool, but they're an American propaganda tool...

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sensitive Sexism

Why women who consider themselves feminists should be upset by Obama's attitude towards women:
To start with, there’s the innuendo-laced voting-as-sex (or sex-as-voting) metaphor, in which a woman’s exercise of her basic right of citizenship is analogized both to choosing her first lover and to giving her virginity to the man she chooses as leader. It plays like a parody of the sexist clichés that reduce women’s lives to their sexual functions—and women’s politics to eroticized worship for the ultimate alpha male.

This particular alpha male is more sensitive than dominant, but make no mistake: it is still his role to take care of the little woman. It’s almost as if the ad makers wanted to validate conservative claims that the Democrats’ pitch to women is the state as a substitute husband -- Uncle Sam taking over the traditional male role of provider and protector.

Young female voters, moreover, are portrayed in nakedly stereotypical terms: besides a mention of bringing soldiers home from Iraq and an obscure pay equity reference, they seem to care only about birth control and perfect weddings.
Sexism, it seems, is in the eye of the binder holder...

The Orthodox Position

In Putin's Russia, monastery serves you:
Two women were arrested on suspicion of prostitution after seven rooms were found in a building close to Sretensky Monastery where sexual services were offered from 1,750 roubles (£35) per hour.

Father Tikhon, the abbot of the monastery, is said to be a religious counsellor to Mr Putin, who is a confirmed Russian Orthodox believer.

There were conflicting reports over the ownership of the brothel, found in one of a chain of mini-hotels called Podushkin.
It's so hard to find good service these days...

Obama's Revenge?

So much for second-term moderation:
If the president wins re-election, he believes he’ll have the winds of public opinion at his back to hike taxes on nearly a million small businesses, resulting in an estimated loss of 700,000 American jobs. Just what the doctor ordered for this economy, yes sir. He also mentions in passing that perhaps he’ll “look at” entitlement fixes in a second term. A sense of what that plan might would look like certainly would be helpful to voters. Alas, those details didn’t quite make the cut for the glossy brochure.
If you thought he was arrogant before, you might not have seen anything yet...

Phony Outrage Endgame

Oh, shut up already:
Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz on Saturday demanded a UN resolution condemning insults on monotheistic religions after a low-budget film produced in the US sparked deadly protests last month.

"I demand a UN resolution that condemns any country or group that insults religions and prophets," he said during a meeting at his palace with religious figures and heads of hajj delegations in the Mina valley where pilgrims were performing final rituals of hajj.

"It is our duty and that of every Muslim to protect Islam and defend the prophets."
Sorry, but that's why we have freedom of speech, and aren't a monarchy.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Blogging In The Years: 1860

Why the New York Times is endorsing Lincoln:
We have great confidence in his pacific and concliliatory disposition. He seems to us much more likely to be too good-natured and tolerant towards his opponents, than not enough. Rail-splitting is not an esciting occupation. It does not tend to cultivate the hot and angry passions of the heart. It is much less stimulating than the business of overseer on a slave plantation. It teaches a man to strike heavy blows, and to plant them just where they are needed-but, he learns, also, to deal the them only when they are needed.
The Times seems to be gambling that Mr. Lincoln will be a moderate. But will calls for moderation really sway the South?

Libertarian In Chief?

Why Romney may be a better choice for libertarians:
Today’s libertarian oriented Tea Parties are middle-aged men and women who came of age with the pro-freedom rhetoric of Ronald Reagan.

Romney may not be a libertarian, yet Romney not infrequently launches wonderful verbal defenses of hard core libertarian views. I can scarcely imagine another major party presidential candidate who would take on leftist hecklers about the rights of individuals organized using the corporate form; or defend the value of being able to fire people for incompetence; worry openly about individual dependency on government; or demand that voters “take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
It should be noted that nearly forty years ago Ronald Reagan was also a libertarian at heart. So, Mitt Romney may be Reagan's heir in more ways than one.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Their Man Mitt

Why the Des Moines Register is endorsing Mitt Romney:
The president’s best efforts to resuscitate the stumbling economy have fallen short. Nothing indicates it would change with a second term in the White House.

The president’s prescription upon entering office was a dose of government stimulus, which was the right call because it put cash in the pockets of consumers, made investments in vital infrastructure and kept millions of teachers and police officers on the job.

That stimulus was necessary to bridge the nation from recession to recovery, but the time is past for more government stimulus.

Consumers must feel more confident about their own economic futures to begin spending on the products and services that power the economy. A renewed sense of confidence will spark renewed investment by American companies. Industry will return to full production and hiring will begin again.

That should come with Mitt Romney in the White House.
For them, this is a big deal as they haven't endorsed the Republican nominee in forty years. So, at least as far as newspaper endorsements go, this could be the endgame.

Where Honor Lives

As the official Benghazi story continues to unravel, a reminder that there were heroes there, if not in the White House:
A short distance from the American compound, two Americans were sleeping. They were in Libya as independent contractors working an assignment totally unrelated to our embassy. They also happened to be former Navy SEALs. When they heard the noise coming from the attack on our embassy, as you would expect from highly trained warriors, they ran to the fight. Apparently, they had no weapons, but seeing the Libyan guards dropping their guns in their haste in fleeing the scene, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty snatched up several of these discarded weapons and prepared to defend the American compound.

Not knowing exactly what was taking place, the two SEALs set up a defensive perimeter. Unfortunately Ambassador Stevens was already gravely injured, and Foreign Service officer, Sean Smith, was dead. However, due to their quick action and suppressive fire, twenty administrative personnel in the embassy were able to escape to safety. Eventually, these two courageous men were overwhelmed by the sheer numbers brought against them, an enemy force numbering between 100 to 200 attackers which came in two waves. But the stunning part of the story is that Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty killed 60 of the attacking force. Once the compound was overrun, the attackers were incensed to discover that just two men had inflicted so much death and destruction.
It's high past time for the MSM to start doing its job here.

At Long Last, A Tax Cut?

Desperate times call for desperate measures:
The White House is weighing the idea of a tax cut that it believes would lift Americans’ take-home pay and boost a still-struggling economy, according to people familiar with the administration’s thinking, as the presidential candidates continue battling over whose tax policies would do more for the country.

Obama administration officials have concluded that the economy, while improved, is still fragile enough that it may need another bout of stimulus. The tax cut could replace the payroll tax cut championed by President Obama in 2011 and 2012, which was designed as a buffer against economic shocks such as the financial crisis in Europe and high oil prices. It expires at year’s end.

The new tax cut could provide hundreds of dollars or more a year to workers and show up in every paycheck. It may be similar to a tax cut Americans received in 2009 and 2010, which provided up to $400 for individuals and $800 for married couples, sources close to the administration said.
But tax cuts are evil! Or they would be if Mitt Romney were proposing them... Update: Not so fast, says Team Obama. But wouldn't this actually have been good for them politically?

Thief Of The Year

A politician, doing what comes naturally:
On Thursday, a jury convicted 66-year-old Estelle Carson of felony identify theft and felony theft from an at risk adult for stealing checks from the woman and using them to pay her own cable, cell phone and internet bills.

The victim is partially blind, developmentally disabled, has cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair. She is on a fixed income of $596 per month according to the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office.

Nearly as bothersome as the theft itself to Maxwell and other supporters of the victim, is the fact the Jefferson County Democratic Party was made aware of the ongoing criminal investigation and honored Carson anyway.

According to documents obtained by CBS4, in November of 2011, the Jeffco Democratic Party announced it planned to honor Carson for her activism on behalf of Democratic causes and her efforts to register voters.
They were just paying tribute to one of their fellow crooks...

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Non-Negotiator

Peggy Noonan adds her criticism of Obama's non-existant political skills to Bob Woodward's:
He is bad at negotiating—in fact doesn't know how. His confidence is consistently greater than his acumen, his arrogance greater than his grasp.

He misread his Republican opponents from day one. If he had been large-spirited and conciliatory he would have effectively undercut them, and kept them from uniting. (If he'd been large-spirited with Mr. Romney, he would have undercut him, too.) Instead he was toughly partisan, he shut them out, and positions hardened. In time Republicans came to think he doesn't really listen, doesn't really hear. So did some Democrats.

Business leaders and mighty CEOs felt patronized: After inviting them to meet with him, the president read from a teleprompter and included the press. They felt like "window dressing." One spoke of Obama's surface polish and essential remoteness. In negotiation he did not cajole, seduce, muscle or win sympathy. He instructed.

He claimed deep understanding of his adversaries and their motives but was often incorrect. He told staffers that John Boehner, one of 11 children of a small-town bar owner, was a "country club Republican." He was often patronizing, which in the old and accomplished is irritating but in the young and inexperienced is infuriating. "Boehner said he hated going down to the White House to listen to what amounted to presidential lectures," Mr. Woodward writes.

Mr. Obama's was a White House that had—and showed—no respect for trying to negotiate with other Republicans. Through it all he was confident—"Eric, don't call my bluff"—because he believed, as did his staff, that his talents would save the day.

They saved nothing. Washington became immobilized.
Obama believed in his own talents-but only because other people kept telling him how great he was.

Green Wars

When it comes to green energy, it's green versus green:
Nationally, environmental activists push the expansion of renewable energy — solar, wind, etc. But when industries work to implement those initiatives at the community level, local greens scream at the impact on their community; they’d rather keep the land as it is.

Or the waters: Environmentalists are part of the coalition trying to stop a cable that would bring cheap hydropower electricity from Canada to the city, warning of risks to the Hudson.

Even “clean” power has environmental costs. Wind farms routinely kill endangered birds and bats. Solar plants wreak havoc on traditional farming. Hydroelectric dams disrupt the habitats of aquatic animals. And all require hundreds if not thousands of acres of land.

The benefits, on the other hand, tend to be exported. Utilities usually send the produced energy elsewhere, and any benefits from lower carbon production are global. Thus, local costs outweigh local benefits.
Greens are all for green energy-just as long as it's not in their back yard...

The $500 Trillion Man

Joe Biden, in action again:

At least it's an alternative to what Biden himself wants:

Remember, he's the intellect of the Democratic Party...

Boeing Bails?

Outsourcing for me, not for thee:
Boeing is urging its employees and suppliers to participate in a Nov. 15 event in Chicago, where Obama cast his vote for president Thursday, which will focus “on how to do business in Mexico,” according to a letter sent to the company’s suppliers by Patrick McKenna, Boeing’s director of Supply Chain Strategy and Supplier Management.

“Several of our suppliers have successfully set up factories in Mexico because of the numerous advantages that Mexico offers to aerospace suppliers,” McKenna wrote, according to the letter sent Oct. 17 and first reported on by the Seattle Times. “Boeing will be sending several people to this event, and we wanted to inform our supply base of this opportunity.”

The letter encouraging outsourcing has raised some eyebrows because Boeing CEO Jim McNerney currently serves as chairman of President Barack Obama’s Export Council.
I suppose this technically counts as creating jobs in North America...

Too Stimulated To Succeed

Green job creation? Not so much:
The Labor Department’s inspector general also said grantees who received the green jobs-training money did a poor job of reporting their results.

Only 38 percent of those who have completed training got jobs based on it, and only 16 percent kept jobs for at least six months — the key measure of success for the program.

“Outcomes for participants were far less than originally proposed,” the auditors said.

The government earmarked more than $400 million for green jobs training programs, and $328.5 million has been spent so far.

About half were already working in the energy sector and wanted retraining, and half were potential new energy workers.

Of those workers who already had energy-sector jobs, the auditors said they were retrained, even though they didn’t need it.

“We found no evidence that the incumbent workers in our sample required services or training to keep their job or obtain a new one,” the investigators said in their report.
If you don't need it, they will still pay...

Observers Go Home

UN election observers aren't welcome in Texas:
Lawmakers from the group of 56 European and Central Asian nations have been observing U.S. elections since 2002, without incident. Their presence has become a flashpoint this year, however, as Republicans accuse Democrats of voter fraud while Democrats counter that GOP-inspired voter ID laws aim to disenfranchise minority voters.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott further fueled the controversy on Tuesday when he sent a letter to the OSCE warning the organization that its representatives “are not authorized by Texas law to enter a polling place” and that it “may be a criminal offense for OSCE’s representatives to maintain a presence within 100 feet of a polling place's entrance.”

The letter goes on to accuse the group of having met with liberal organizations that oppose Voter ID laws. The OSCE put out an interim report last week saying that “recent state-level legislative initiatives to limit early voting and introduce stricter voter identification have become highly polarized.”

“The OSCE may be entitled to its opinions about Voter ID laws, but your opinion is legally irrelevant in the United States, where the Supreme Court has already determined that Voter ID laws are constitutional,” Abbott wrote. “If OSCE members want to learn more about our election processes so they can improve their own democratic systems, we welcome the opportunity to discuss the measures Texas has implemented to protect the integrity of elections. However, groups and individuals from outside the United States are not allowed to influence or interfere with the election process in Texas.”
If they want to see how free and fair elections work, they can do so, but some seem to be concerned that's not why they're here...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Reasons For Romney

The Detroit News on why they're supporting Romney:
A country built on rugged individualism finds itself increasingly under the thumb of a federal government that is ever expanding its reach into the lives of its citizens.
Obama has proved himself a disciple of the doctrine that for every problem there's a government solution.
Romney, by contrast, embraces individual initiative and entrepreneurship. He would turn back the encroachment of the bureaucracy into the private sector.
Romney would replace the heavy hand of government with the invisible hand of a rational marketplace working to produce broad prosperity.
While both poverty and dependency have increased on Obama's watch, Romney promises to replace government checks with private sector jobs and reverse the decline in middle class incomes. It is heavy lifting, but we favor the candidate who is committed to it.
Romney's goal is to help all Americans live independent and productive lives, free to rise to the extent of their personal capabilities. He would not shield them from risk or the consequences of their decisions, but neither would he deny them their earned rewards.
Leaders who respect the people-and their rights-will earn respect in turn. Romney seems at least willing to give that respect a shot.

Muddling Through The Non-Recovery

Paul Ryan was right: this is not what a real recovery looks like:
Obama often boasts that the economy has added 5.2 million private-sector jobs in the 31 months since employment bottomed out in February 2010. But that rate of job growth lags every previous recovery as well if, as Obama does, you start counting at the point where jobs bottomed out.
Bush oversaw 5.3 million new private-sector jobs in the 31 months after employment hit bottom in mid-2003. Under Reagan, private-sector jobs climbed 8.2 million during a comparable time period.
What’s more, Obama’s recovery has reclaimed only about half the jobs lost during the recession. That’s a far cry from prior recoveries, which saw the number of jobs exceed the previous peak by this point.
More on the failures of Obamanomics here. Maybe it's time for a president who's better at math?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Board Of Repeal

How to challenge Obamacare:
The health law makes it virtually impossible to get rid of its Independent Payment Advisory Board — so much so that critics say that the wording violates Congress' constitutional powers.

ObamaCare's IPAB will recommend changes to Medicare payments in years that the mammoth health care program exceeds spending targets. Congress can override IPAB decisions, but only if it comes up with equivalent savings.

IPAB cuts likely will generate major opposition from seniors, doctors and others, but lawmakers could only repeal the unelected panel in a tiny window in 2017. Many say that imposes unconstitutional restraints on Congress.

"IPAB is unconstitutional for a number of reasons and one of them is that the statute limits the ability of future Congresses to repeal IPAB by saying that the only way Congress can repeal it is with a special procedure in 2017," said Michael Cannon, director of health policy studies at the libertarian Cato Institute. "Congress cannot bind a future Congress like that. Only the Constitution can."
Something else that Team Obama seemed to have forgotten in the push for "free" care...

Wasted Energy

If Romney wins, hopefully fixing this will be a top priority:
Current and former agents in the DOE’s Office of Special Operations (OSO), which is tasked with protecting the secretary and other senior officials, allege a stunning lapse in security guidelines and procedures intended to deal with a catastrophic situation, according to a recent letter sent to lawmakers and obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

The agents’ letter exposes a dysfunctional security office marred by corruption.

From wasteful spending habits to agents consuming alcohol on the job, the security officers decry a culture of “mismanagement” and cronyism that has led at least 14 “highly qualified and experienced line agents” to quit their posts in protest over the past several years.

“From its very inception, this office is completely backwards,” the agents write.

“This negligence has perpetuated a disgusting cycle of promoting unqualified agents to key positions which has lead to an incredibly high attrition rate among line agents, an inappropriately low level of tactical readiness, and ultimately an increased liability and risk to the Secretary, Deputy Secretary, and special agents.”
Corruption and incompetence have been a hallmark of government agencies under the current regime. Will the next one be different?

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Elephant Not In The Room

The national debt seems to be MIA when perhaps it shouldn't be:
A chorus of former military leaders, current administration officials and fiscal hawks have all labeled the country's debt a threat to national security.

"A nation with our current levels of unsustainable debt ... cannot hope to sustain for very long its superiority from a military perspective, or its influence in world affairs," Admiral Michael Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last month.

The concern: If the debt continues to grow unbridled, the U.S. government will be constrained in its ability to pay for what it wants to do militarily and diplomatically. And it could limit the country's leverage with foreign powers.
Considering what we owe, losing that influence could cost us dearly, indeed...

Shaky Logic

Stupidity marches on:
Scientists reacted with alarm to the manslaughter conviction of six earthquake experts in Italy for failing to give adequate warning of the 2009 earthquake in the city of L'Aquila that killed 308 people.

Scientists warned that researchers in areas involving unpredictable natural threats, like volcanology and even meteorology, will now be more reluctant to offer advice and insight to the public.

"If it stands, this verdict will have a chilling effect on earthquake science in Italy and throughout Europe," said Sandy Steacy, professor of earthquake physics at the University of Ulster.

"Who would now be willing to serve on an earthquake hazard evaluation panel when getting it wrong could mean a conviction for manslaughter?"
This in spite of the fact that predicting earthquakes is impossible. Welcome to the new Dark Ages.

Passing The Imperial Torch (And Buck)

Why the legacy of Obama's imperial policy is so troubling:
Taken individually, none of Obama’s unilateral maneuvers are particularly outrageous; presidents have been making similar moves for decades now. And yet together they represent a break from the past. Unlike most his predecessors—think FDR inventing the modern administrative state during the Great Depression, or Bush pushing the limits of torture and surveillance after Sept. 11—Obama is not expanding executive power to meet the demands of an external crisis. Instead, he is counteracting a new pattern of partisan behavior—nonstop congressional obstruction—with a new, partisan pattern of his own.
The result is an extraconstitutional arms race of sorts: a new normal that habitually circumvents the legislative process envisioned by the Framers. On one side of the aisle, Republicans are providing a blueprint for minority parties to come, demonstrating how it is possible, and politically advantageous, to use procedural tricks to incapacitate a president they oppose. On the other side of the aisle, Obama is drafting a playbook for future presidents to deploy in response: How to Get What You Want Even If Congress Won’t Give It to You. “Obama is the first president to use his unilateral powers so routinely, especially in the domestic sphere,” says University of Virginia presidential scholar Sidney Milkis, a self-described moderate Democrat. “And in some ways, that may be more insidious than what came before.”
And so the question now is not whether the presidency has changed Obama. It’s whether Obama is changing the presidency.
Using the excuse that others have done it before isn't good policy-and it's never a good precedent.

The Court Of Political Correctness

Really, Ms. Kagan? What would actual feminists say?
During a talk before law students on Friday at the University of Tennessee Law School, Kagan said, “And to tell you the truth, there were also things that I got because I was a woman. I mean I'm not sure I'd be sitting here.”

“I'm not sure that I would've been President Obama's nominee if I weren't a woman,” she said. “And if he wasn't as committed as he was to ensuring that there was diversity on the Supreme Court.”

Kagan replied that most of the challenges of being a woman in the legal profession were already overcome by the women who preceded her.

“Well, I feel pretty lucky that I haven’t had to surmount all that many barriers or leap over all that many hurdles that were there because I was a woman,” said Kagan. “And I think that that’s because of the time I came along where a lot of the women who preceded me had done a lot of the hard work to make sure that women and men were evaluated equally and had the same opportunities as each other.”
Except that, in Kagan's case, equal opportunity and hard work didn't seem to have mattered that much, did it?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Overseas Candidate

President Obama may be getting illegal campaign donations:
In September, Obama’s campaign took in more than $2 million from donors who provided no ZIP code or incomplete ZIP codes, according to data posted on the Federal Election Commission Web site.

The Obama campaign said the FEC data was the result of “a minor technical error.”

“All the ZIP codes and numbers are real and can be verified,” spokesman Michael Czin said.

The Obama campaign’s apparent lack of safeguards makes it possible to violate the law, says a report released by the Government Accountability Institute, a Florida-based watchdog group.

The report found that one Obama site — — gets almost half of its traffic from foreign computer addresses. The site directs users to an Obama donation page.

“We are not suggesting that just foreign traffic by itself is a problem,” said Peter Schweizer, president of the GAI. “But for a campaign that is very sophisticated in its fund-raising capabilities, they do not make one effort to try to even see or ask somebody to check a box that says they are a US citizen.”
Remember the old days, when they just used dead voters?

The Last Campaign

George McGovern, who was defeated by Richard Nixon in a landslide forty years ago, has died. From Nick Gillespie, a libertarian appreciation:
In a 1997 New York Times op-ed article, he emphasized that simply because some people abuse freedom of choice is no reason to reduce it. “Despite the death of my daughter,” he argued, “I still appreciate the differences between use and abuse.” He rightly worried that lifestyle freedom, like economic freedom, was everywhere under attack: “New attempts to regulate behavior are coming from both the right and the left, depending only on the cause. But there are those of us who don’t want the tyranny of the majority (or the outspoken minority) to stop us from leading our lives in ways that have little impact on others.”

McGovern believed that attempts to impose single-value standards were profoundly un-American and “that we cannot allow the micromanaging of each other’s lives.” But as governments at various levels expand their control of everything from health- care to mortgages to the consumption of soda pop and so much more, that’s exactly what’s happening.

In 1972, McGovern was out of step with the American public. Not anymore. Large majorities see the long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as the mistakes and failures they plainly were. And his criticism of paternalism is wildly popular with everyone but our rulers. An August 2012 CNN/ORC International Poll found that only 40 percent of registered voters want the government to “promote traditional values,” a finding that is down from 57 percent in 2008. CNN also found that “six in 10 say that government is doing too much that should be left to businesses and individuals.”

These days, it’s politicians of both parties who are out of step with the voting public. As the nation prepares to pay its last respects to George McGovern, we can only hope that our leaders will learn from his example and become less confident in telling us how to live our lives.
George McGovern may have been wrong on some things, not so wrong on others. RIP.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Pennsylvania Gold

Unexpected abundance:
Two independent financial firms say the Marcellus isn't just the biggest natural gas field in the country — it's the cheapest place for energy companies to drill.

One of the reports adds that the Marcellus reserves that lie below parts of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and New York are far larger than recent government estimates, while another said the powerful combination of resource, cost and location is altering natural gas prices and market trends across the nation.

The Marcellus could contain "almost half of the current proven natural gas reserves in the U.S," a report from Standard & Poor's issued this week said.
It really does seem to be an enormous resource on our own soil-which makes it all the more imperative to keep it out of the hands of Obama's EPA...

Blogging In The Years: 1992

Desperation is unbecoming in an incumbent:
At a midday GOP rally at Macomb Community College, the president unleashed a rhetorical fusillade on Bill Clinton and running mate Sen. Albert Gore Jr., attacking their fitness for office, their character and charging, "My dog Millie knows more about foreign policy than these two bozos."

In particular, Bush targeted Gore, whom he now calls "Ozone Man," or just plain "Ozone." "You know why I call him Ozone Man?" Bush said. "This guy is so far out in the environmental extreme, we'll be up to our neck in owls and outta work for every American. He is way out, far out, man."
He may be right about Gore, but it's not very Presidential, and if Bush is pleased about the polls now he might not be after an outburst like this.

Don't Mention The Stimulus

Once again, President Obama is ignoring his own rules:
...“the most transparent administration in the history of our country” is now four reports behind schedule and has so far not released any reports whatsoever in 2012. Its most recent quarterly report is for the quarter than ended on June 30, 2011.

Indeed, the old reports that the administration released begin, “As part of the unprecedented accountability and transparency provisions included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) was charged with providing to Congress quarterly reports on the effects of the Recovery Act on overall economic activity, and on employment in particular.”

Section 1513 of the ARRA further specifies, “The first report…shall be submitted not later than 45 days after the end of the first full quarter following the date of enactment of this Act….The last report required to be submitted…shall apply to the quarter in which the [Recovery Accountability and Transparency] Board terminates under section 1530.” Section 1530 declares, “The Board shall terminate on September 30, 2013.”

In other words, the Obama administration is required by law to submit quarterly reports on the “stimulus” through the third quarter of 2013. Yet the administration has apparently found it more convenient to stop after the second quarter of 2011 — more than two years early. Or perhaps it has just decided to put the release of these reports on hold until after the election. Either way, the Obama administration is now in violation of the president’s most prominent piece of legislation this side of Obamacare.
It does seem like President Obama is afraid of it these days...

Dissing Darwin

What happens when you let fanatical fundamentalists run education:
A series of books for primary schoolchildren, describing Charles Darwin as a Jew with a big nose who kept the company of monkeys and other historical figures in anti-Semitic terms, has caused outrage in Turkey amid fears of rising religious intolerance.

A teachers’ union is taking legal action over the distribution of the books last week to about 1,000 schoolchildren in the Maltepe district of Istanbul. The local education authority, which approved the books and ultimately answers to the central government, has denied knowledge of their content.

“The education system is becoming reactionary; imams are now teaching religion in schools,” said Mehmet Aydogan, an official in the union asking for the books to be impounded. “These books are discrediting worldwide accepted artists and scientists and forcing students to think unscientifically.”
In America, the left is already doing that last part...

Friday, October 19, 2012

Yard Binders

A look back at President Obama's sexist past:
When Barack Obama was president of the Harvard Law Review, he faced a heated battle with the law school's Women’s Law Association (WLA) because women comprised only 25% of the editors selected for the Review during his tenure.

Obama sparked a heated controversy when 27 men, but only 9 women, were selected for the Review. He blamed the result on an insufficient number of women choosing to compete for editorial slots. The arithmetic flaw with Obama’s defense was that women were 40% of the Harvard Law class, 37% of the competitors, and yet only 25% of the editors Obama selected. Under the prior president of the Review (Peter Yu), women were also 37% of the writing competitors but were 41% of selectees. Under Obama’s successor (David Ellen), 37% of the new editors were women. Therefore, among these three successive male editors of the Review (two of whom were minorities), only Obama had a dramatic underrepresentation of women editors.
Maybe his own binders just weren't big enough back then?

Fight Club

Ooh, a challenge:

Card Sharks

Stimulus workers love to work at nothing all day:

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Means Season

Welfare spending tops the trillion-dollar mark:
The government spent approximately $1.03 trillion on 83 means-tested federal welfare programs in fiscal year 2011 alone — a price tag that makes welfare that year the government’s largest expenditure, according to new data released by the Republican side of the Senate Budget Committee.

The total sum taxpayers spent on federal welfare programs was derived from a new Congressional Research Service (CRS) report on federal welfare spending — which topped out at $745.84 billion for fiscal year 2011 — combined with an analysis from the Republican Senate Budget Committee staff of state spending on federal welfare programs (based on “The Oxford Handbook of State and Local Government Finance”), which reached $282.7 billion in fiscal year 2011.

According to the CRS report, which focused solely on federal spending for federal welfare programs, spending on federal welfare programs increased $563.413 billion in fiscal year 2008 to $745.84 billion in fiscal year 2011 — a 32 percent increase.
As President Obama might say, it's all part of the seven-per cent plan...

Print Is Dead, Long Live Digital

From Newsweek's official announcement:
Currently, 39 percent of Americans say they get their news from an online source, according to a Pew Research Center study released last month. In our judgment, we have reached a tipping point at which we can most efficiently and effectively reach our readers in all-digital format. This was not the case just two years ago. It will increasingly be the case in the years ahead.
It is important that we underscore what this digital transition means and, as importantly, what it does not. We are transitioning Newsweek, not saying goodbye to it. We remain committed to Newsweek and to the journalism that it represents. This decision is not about the quality of the brand or the journalism—that is as powerful as ever. It is about the challenging economics of print publishing and distribution.
Well, you can argue about the quality, but the trending is certainly accurate. The end of an era, indeed.

No Fun In The Sun

Here we go again:
A solar company that got a multi-million-dollar grant from the Department of Energy earlier this year announced Wednesday that it will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, making it the second taxpayer-backed green energy company to file for bankruptcy this week.

Satcon Technology Corp. announced the decision in a Wednesday news release. “This has been a difficult time for Satcon,” president and CEO Steve Rhoades said. “After careful consideration of available alternatives, the Company’s Board of Directors determined that the Chapter 11 filings were a necessary and prudent step, allowing the Company to continue to operate while giving us the opportunity to reorganize with a stronger balance sheet and capital structure.”

Satcon received a $3 million DOE grant in January to develop “a compact, lightweight power conversion device that is capable of taking utility-scale solar power and outputting it directly into the electric utility grid at distribution voltage levels—eliminating the need for large transformers.”

“If successful,” noted DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E) at the time, “Satcon would simplify the solar power conversion process and significantly reduce the cost of operating, installing, and siting a PV power system—helping to facilitate their widespread use.”
Well, it didn't quite work out that way...maybe they should have given more? At any rate, the list of these companies just seems to keep growing.

The Women

The War On Women takes a turn with an admission on MSNBC:

But if the women complain, will they be whiners?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Silenced Minority

African Americans now feel less empowered than before:
A new study from Washington University in St. Louis finds that under Obama, many black Americans feel less free than whites when it comes to political participation.

"First we saw the 'empowerment effect,' the boost that happens when a member of your group gets elected to an important political position," says study author James L. Gibson, a professor of government and African-American studies at Washington University. Gibson's findings are based on national surveys conducted between 2005 and 2011.

In 2009, the year after Obama was elected, 71 percent of blacks reported feeling as free to speak one's mind as they used to.

"But then perceptions of political freedom deteriorated among conservative and religious blacks," says Gibson. By 2011, the percentage of blacks who felt as free to speak their mind had dropped to 56 percent, back to pre-Obama levels. (White Americans also reported feeling less free to speak one's mind under Obama, but the decline was far less than among blacks).
Under Obama, some speech is more equal than others...

Wasted Days

Apparently Kabul is the place to have a high old time:
Cellphone video recorded earlier this year at an operations center of a U.S. defense contractor in Kabul, Afghanistan appears to show key personnel staggeringly drunk or high on narcotics, in what former employees say was a pattern of outrageous behavior that put American lives at risk and went undetected by U.S. military officials who are supposed to oversee such contractors.

The video, provided to ABC News by two former employees, is scheduled to be broadcast in a report this evening on "ABC World News with Diane Sawyer" and "Nightline."

The video shows the security manager for the company staggering about the operations center late one evening after taking large gulps of vodka and then engaging another employee in a half-naked wrestling match.

"It was like a frat house for adults," said Melson. "Some of them to the point where they were passing out, there's firearms laying around, some of them still carrying the firearms on them."
There are stupid people in all walks of life. Unfortunately this doesn't help make the case for our staying there.

Cuban Exit

I can imagine that a lot of Cubans will want to take advantage of this:
The Cuban government announced Tuesday that it will eliminate a half-century-old restriction that requires citizens to get an exit visa to leave the country.

The decree that takes effect Jan. 14 will eliminate a much-loathed bureaucratic procedure that has kept many Cubans from traveling or moving abroad.

"These measures are truly substantial and profound," said Col. Lamberto Fraga, Cuba's deputy chief of immigration, at a morning news conference. "What we are doing is not just cosmetic."

Under the new measure announced in the Communist Party daily Granma, islanders will only have to show their passport and a visa from the country they are traveling to.

It is the most significant advance this year in President Raul Castro's five-year plan of reforms that has already seen the legalization of home and car sales and a big increase in the number of Cubans owning private businesses.
Is the revolution finally over after all, then?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The New British Porn

That seems to be what a publishing company is turning its hunting magazines into:
Country sports enthusiasts are furious at a decision by Britain's biggest newsagent to ban children from buying shooting magazines after a campaign by animal rights activists.

WH Smith says youngsters under 14 will not be sold shooting titles, even though it is legal to hold a shotgun licence below that age.

And even adult customers attempting to buy a magazine featuring shooting now face a humiliating alert as staff receive a "till prompt" to check the buyer's age. The high street retailer based the policy on the qualifying age for a firearms certificate and says checks are already in place for a range of products, including scissors and adhesives "where an element of common sense" is required.

However, sports groups point out that there is no minimum age for holding a shotgun licence in Britain, although children below 18 cannot buy or own a gun themselves and under-14s must be supervised by an adult.

Countryside campaigners say the company has shown a "complete lack of understanding of the law" and may now feel the backlash of an angry countryside.

Alison Hawes, South West regional director of the Countryside Alliance, said the ban was "ignorant and ridiculous".

"I hope they will realise they have made a big mistake and have a change of heart," she added. "If word gets around, as is likely, then it may be that country people will no longer buy their magazines from WH Smith.

"They are now going to face the backlash of the countryside rather than a handful of animal rights activists."
Just look for the magazines in the plain brown wrappers...

Profits Not Included

And yet another government-backed green company goes bust:
A123 Systems Inc. (AONE), the electric car battery maker that received a $249 million federal grant, filed for bankruptcy protection and said it would sell its assets to Johnson Controls Inc. (JCI)

The filing may fuel a debate over government financing of alternative-energy and transportation businesses. Federal grants and loans to companies including A123, Fisker Automotive Inc. and Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA) have drawn scrutiny from congressional Republicans following the September 2011 bankruptcy filing of solar-panel maker Solyndra LLC two years after it received a $535 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Energy Department.

The Waltham, Massachusetts-based company said yesterday it expected to fail to make an interest payment due yesterday on $143.8 million of notes expiring in 2016.
Living in a free-market society means not having to buy what the government is selling...

Monday, October 15, 2012

Ten To One

The job numbers aren't trending the way they were supposed to:
A new chart from the minority side of the Senate Budget Committee details the fact that, since January 2009, for every person added to the labor force, 10 have been added to those not in the labor force.

"For Every 1 Person Added To Labor Force Since January 2009," the chart reads, "10 People Added To Those Not In Labor Force."

That is, in nearly the four years, since President Obama took office in January 2009, only 827,000 people have been added to the labor force, while during that same time period, 8,208,000 have been added to those not in the labor force.
Needless to say, to the Obama administration, the added jobs will be touted as a sign that the recovery is working...

World Motors

General Motors, outsourcing government money:
Thanks to a leaner manufacturing footprint, debt eliminations and steadily recovering sales, GM’s US operations have generated the lion’s share of the company’s profit since the bailout. And now, as the rest of the world economy slows, GM is spending more and more of its taxpayer-enhanced cash pile to shore up its faltering foreign divisions. In fact, according to an analysis of GM’s SEC filings, the company is likely to incur over $6.5 billion in losses and expenditures overseas in the 2011-2014 period, not counting over $1.6b in foreign potential legal liabilities or several other incalculable expenses that could add up to billions more. Not only are these expenses a challenge to GM’s overall financial health at a time when it also faces billion-dollar expenditures on pensions in the US, it shows the basic problem with national bailouts of global companies. Taxpayers who were told they were saving an American company are now seeing their tax dollars flowing overseas by the billions.
Once again, the law of unintended consequences (or were they unintended?) in action...

Good Times?

Michelle Obama tries to make the case for recovery:
In an interview, Pablo Sato, co-host of Pablo & Free on WPGC 95.5, a D.C.- metropolitan area hip-hop radio station, asked the first lady, “Mrs. Obama, you know what, in your words, tell us what you think the state of the union is in right now?”

Mrs. Obama said, “I mean, we are seeing right now that we are in the midst of a huge recovery. Right? Because of what this president has done.”

Free: “Yes.”

Obama: “Pulled this economy from the brink of collapse when we were losing 800,000 jobs a month. Now were gaining every -- throughout most of his presidency, we’ve been adding jobs to this economy because of what he’s been doing. The stock market has doubled. Housing prices are rising. Foreclosure rates are lowering. But in the face of that, you still have people trying to convince us that things aren’t better.”

Free: “Uh huh.”

Obama: “And that just doesn’t make sense. Now, Barack of all people knows that we still have a long way to go to completely rebuild the economy. But we’re headed in the right direction. And when you see all of that truth, it’s hard to understand why are people blocking this? Why are people talking about not raising taxes on wealthy people? Why is it that people don't want to fight to make sure that veterans have job opportunities?”

Free: “They just like to talk, Mrs. Obama.”

Obama: “Yeah. Yeah.”
Well, with all due respect, sometimes the talkers have the facts on their side.

Keeping Up With Big Government

The stimulus sure is keeping people busy:
The government’s chief spending watchdogs have already secured nearly 600 convictions and judgments against people and companies accused of misusing stimulus funds and have a whopping 1,900 investigations currently open into possible wrongdoing, officials say.

The wave of scrutiny more than three years after the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was passed by Congress early in the Obama administration means the question of how money was managed early in the program is certain to extend well into the next year as many of the current investigations come to conclusion.

The Recovery Board charged with coordinating efforts among than inspectors generals at more than two dozen federal agencies that distributed stimulus money posted an item on its official blog last month claiming the total amount of money lost to fraud from the $840 billion stimulus program was a miniscule $11.1 million so far.

Vice President Joe Biden even made reference to the figure as he defended the stimulus program from attacks from Republican Rep. Paul Ryan during the vice presidential debate last Thursday. But that number only identifies money that is considered lost to fraud and does not include funds still under investigation or those recommended for reimbursement after audits identified misspending, officials said.

And a senior official familiar with the ongoing investigations by inspectors generals at federal agencies told the Washington Guardian the government expects the loss figure to balloon in coming months.

“These cases often take months or years, and we’ve got hundreds open right now across the government so that number is going to go up, probably by a large amount over the next 18 months,” the official said, speaking only on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak to the media.
Well, at least the Obama administration can claim that the stimulus has some people working...

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Racketeers' Local

Union thugs are getting called out in court:
Two companies that operate senior-care facilities have filed a federal racketeering lawsuit against local SEIU chapters accusing them of engaged in a long-term pattern of "criminal sabotage, intimidation and other acts of extortion" in connection with an ongoing labor-contract dispute.

The so-called RICO suit -- usually filed against organized crime operations -- was filed Wednesday by HealthBridge Management LLC and CareOne Management LLC. The suit states the two SEIU chapters' alleged activities are a "coordinated illegal campaign" to put the companies out of business if they fail to yield to the union's demands.

Some of allegations are related to a strike in July at five Connecticut HealthBridge facilities. The alleged criminal sabotage occurred at three of the facilities and purportedly included union workers switched IDs on Alzheimer patients before the walkout.

In addition, the suit alleges personal attacks against one of the indirect owners of the two companies, Daniel E. Straus, to "intimidate him by invading his privacy, harassing him and impeding business and philanthropic activities" unrelated to the two companies, according to a joint press release by the companies.
You can take the union out of Chicago...

Warm Enough Already

Well, this won't be good for the climate change narrative:
The world stopped getting warmer almost 16 years ago, according to new data released last week.
The figures, which have triggered debate among climate scientists, reveal that from the beginning of 1997 until August 2012, there was no discernible rise in aggregate global temperatures.
This means that the ‘plateau’ or ‘pause’ in global warming has now lasted for about the same time as the previous period when temperatures rose, 1980 to 1996. Before that, temperatures had been stable or declining for about 40 years.
The new data, compiled from more than 3,000 measuring points on land and sea, was issued quietly on the internet, without any media fanfare, and, until today, it has not been reported.
This stands in sharp contrast to the release of the previous figures six months ago, which went only to the end of 2010 – a very warm year.
Ending the data then means it is possible to show a slight warming trend since 1997, but 2011 and the first eight months of 2012 were much cooler, and thus this trend is erased.
Paging Al Gore...hello? Hello?

RIP Arlen Specter

Remembering the controversial legacy of Arlen Specter:
Hard-bitten and tenacious yet ever the centrist, Mr. Specter was a part of American public life for more than four decades. As an ambitious young lawyer for the Warren Commission, he took credit for originating the theory that a single bullet, fired by a lone gunman, had killed President John F. Kennedy.

In the Senate, where he was long regarded as its sharpest legal mind, he led the Judiciary Committee through one of its most tumultuous periods, even while battling Hodgkin’s disease in 2005 and losing his hair to chemotherapy.

Yet he may be remembered best for his quixotic party switch in 2009 and the subsequent campaign that cost him the Senate seat he had held for almost 30 years. After 44 years as a Republican, Mr. Specter, who began his career as a Democrat, changed sides because he feared a challenge from the right. He wound up losing in a Democratic primary; the seat stayed in Republican hands.

He relished his work on the Judiciary Committee. In 1987, he enraged conservatives by derailing Judge Bork’s nomination to the Supreme Court and then delighted them four years later by backing Justice Thomas. The Thomas confirmation nearly cost Mr. Specter his Senate seat; even now, millions of American women remain furious with him for his aggressive questioning of the law professor Anita Hill, who had accused Justice Thomas of sexual harassment.

If he had any regrets, Mr. Specter rarely admitted them.

“I’ve gone back and looked at every frame of the videos on Professor Hill, and I did not ask her one unprofessional question,” he said in a 2004 interview with The New York Times. Of both the Bork and Thomas confirmations, he said, “I may be wrong, but I’m satisfied with what I did in both those cases.”

Brash confidence and outsize ego were characteristic of Mr. Specter, a man so feared by his own aides and so brusque with colleagues that he earned the nickname Snarlin’ Arlen on Capitol Hill. In 1992, when Mr. Specter’s Senate seat was in danger after the Thomas hearings, Paul Weyrich, a founding father of the modern conservative movement, campaigned for him. His rationale was expressed in a statement he made to fellow conservatives, as quoted by the conservative magazine National Review.

“Arlen Specter is a jerk,” he was said to have remarked, “but he’s our jerk.”
He was, for better or worse, a fixture of the Senate for decades. RIP.

Saved By Junk Mail

The Post Office is safe for now, thanks to...political ads:
While still low on cash, the postal service has enough to avoid insolvency this month, thanks in large part to the mountains of political junk mail and the influx of Super PACs paying top postage rates.

Federal candidates, political parties and special interest groups are mailing out more fliers and postcards via the postal service in 2012 than in previous election cycles. Spending topped $28.9 million through the end of August, compared to $27.9 million for the entire election cycle in 2008, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The postal service is on track to surpass an original estimate of $285 million, which includes the haul from local races nationwide, said Cliff Rucker, vice president of USPS sales.

It's still not enough to save the postal service. But it's enough to get the agency past an October cash crunch that the postal service had warned about.
Maybe they should only operate during election years...

Economic Defense

Timothy Geithner is still standing by his man:
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Friday defended the White House approach to the deficit as his department officially confirmed a fiscal 2012 deficit of $1.089 trillion.

That figure is $207 billion less than in 2011, and $238 billion less than forecast in February.

In a joint statement with acting Budget Director Jeff Zients, Geithner sought to blame Congress for the deficit.

“The president has put forward a balanced proposal to further strengthen the economy and reduce the country’s future deficits,” he said. “It is time for Congress to act on these necessary steps that will help create sustainable economic growth for years to come.”

“The path forward on deficit reduction is clear,” said Zients. “Congress needs to work with the administration to enact balanced deficit reduction that includes further spending cuts and additional revenue from asking the wealthiest to contribute their fair share.”
Given that the current majority party is adverse to maiking others pay their "fair share," that's not likely to happen. But I suppose as long as these two can find somebody else to blame except for their boss...

Unemployment: The Next Generation

You can call them the children of the Great Recession:
At the height of the economic crisis, in 2010, more than 8 million children and teenagers in the United States lived with an unemployed parent, according to the Brookings Institution. That’s one of every nine kids, living in the shadow of the most severe wave of job losses since the Great Depression.

Their experiences and worldviews, although still coming into focus, are part of the trickle-down effect of the jobless recovery. The Obama administration says that the economy is slowly improving, and unemployment has fallen below 8 percent; but for many children and teens of jobless parents, the experience of the Great Recession lives on and will probably stay with them for years.

“We need to think of this recession as a two-generation phenomenon. We focus on tracking job losses with the parent generation, but you rarely think about what will happen to the kids,” says Ariel Kalil, a psychology professor at the Harris School of Public Policy Studies at the University of Chicago.
Maybe many of them will look back someday and realize just how naive they were about Obama and his policies...

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Sun Cheaters

Taxes are for little people!
The IRS urged a bankruptcy judge to reject solar panel maker Solyndra LLC’s bankruptcy plan Wednesday, saying it amounts to little more than an avenue for owners of an empty corporate shell to avoid paying taxes. “The undeniable conclusion is that tax benefits drive this plan,” attorneys for the IRS wrote in a bankruptcy pleading.

Arguing that the bankruptcy court ought not confirm a plan “whose principal purpose is tax avoidance,” attorneys said in filings in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware that the tax breaks would be worth more money than funds set aside for creditors.

Taxpayers are on the hook for more than a half-billion dollars after the company filed for bankruptcy last year, just two years after winning a loan guarantee from the Department of Energy.

What’s more, government attorneys said that as far back as 2010, Solyndra owners had “planned meticulously” to be able to use Solyndra’s net operating losses to offset future tax liabilities. “The only reason for the shell corporation to exist post-confirmation is to enable its owners to exploit these tax attributes, which would be lost in liquidation,” the IRS argued in court papers. One owner valued the so-called tax attributes at $150 million, dwarfing the $7 million to $8 million set aside by the reorganization plan for unsecured creditors, according to the government’s objection, which was filed by the Justice Department on behalf of the IRS.
Maybe somebody should call for them to release their tax records...

All Your Internet Are Belong To Us

Will the U.S. really have to pay for the privilege of using the Internet in other countries?
U.S. Ambassador Terry Kramer warned on Friday that a proposal to give a United Nations agency more control over the Internet is gaining momentum in other countries.

The proposal by the European Telecommunications Network Operators' Association could force websites like Google, Facebook and Netflix to pay fees to network operators around the world.

Kramer said the idea of an international Internet fee is "gaining more interest in the African states and also in the Arab states."

He said the United States delegation to the conference will have to redouble its efforts to convince other countries that the proposal would only stifle innovation and economic growth.

"We support efforts to grow broadband markets—not just divvying a static pie of revenue between operators and governments," Kramer said in a speech in Washington hosted by the Telecommunications Industry Association.

Democrats and Republicans in the United States are united against proposals to increase international control of the Internet. Congress passed a non-binding resolution earlier this year urging the United States delegation to "promote a global Internet free from government control and preserve and advance the successful multistakeholder model that governs the Internet today."
Hopefully whoever wins the election will listen to Congress on this one.

Jesse Junior's Money

Like father, like son?
...federal investigators have launched a probe into the South Shore congressman’s finances — a completely new area of scrutiny, sources told the Chicago Sun-Times.

The investigation — based in the Washington, D.C., FBI field office — is not related to the attempted sale of the U.S. Senate seat that figured in former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s corruption conviction, but is focusing on “suspicious activity” involving the congressman’s finances related to his House seat and the possibility of inappropriate expenditures, sources said.

The probe was active in the weeks prior to Jackson taking a leave from his U.S. House post on June 10, a leave his office ultimately attributed to his need for treatment for a bipolar disorder, the sources said.
The apple doesn't seem to have fallen far from the tree...

More Sugar

The Big Gulp revolt has begun:
Soft-drink makers, restaurateurs and other businesses are suing to block the city's move to end the sale of super-sized, sugary drinks in many eateries.

The American Beverage Association and others sued the city Friday. City officials had no immediate response.

The city Board of Health approved the unprecedented regulation last month. It would stop restaurants, cafeterias and concession stands from selling soda and other high-calorie drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces.

The lawsuit says the unelected health board shouldn't be telling people how much soda to drink. The suit also says the rule "burdens consumers and unfairly harms small businesses."
Nannystaters take note: the people are paying attention...

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Wrong Target

The Democrats continue their own war on women:
The first female combat pilot in U.S. military history would seem an unlikely target for a kitchen-themed attack ad, and yet that’s exactly what Nancy Pelosi’s House Majority PAC and Rep. Ron Barber have cooked up for Martha McSally, a retired Air Force colonel and pioneering A-10 pilot.

McSally has made requests of Barber’s campaign and the House Majority PAC to take the ad down, calling it “totally false and misleading”:
McSally’s running in a new 2nd Congressional District formed by redistricting, which is very narrowly Republican, split almost in thirds between the GOP, Democrats, and Independents. Barber is a former staffer for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was injured during Jared Loughner’s rampage in Tucson and recovered, later winning a special election to serve out Giffords’ term in Congress. Barber has good will in the district, but McSally said the special election, in which Jesse Kelly was bested, turned a page. Kelly decided not to run in the new 2nd CD.
“The community went through a horrible tragedy over a year and a half ago that put us in this place but that’s what the special election was about. They cleared the field for [Barber] and Gabby Giffords endorsed him in order to be a placeholder and a caretaker… and he’s doing that and I thank him for his service, but this November election is about the future,” McSally said. “This is a new fresh election between Ron Barber having to run in his own right, and myself, who brings a very different alternative that more closely fits the kind of people who get elected from this district.”
The NRCC has about $330,000 of ads scheduled in McSally’s district right now. A DCCC poll showed a 14-point lead for Barber at the beginning of October, but McSally and Republicans believe the race is far closer. A McSally poll showed her trailing by five points in August, and a more recent one reported in Roll Call showed a dead heat.
Nowhere in the country perhaps is the irony of the Democrats’ “war on women” attack more glaring than in McSally’s race, which National Journal rates at No. 70 on a list of 71 House races likely to flip.
The real war is against those women who actually think-and fight-for themselves...

Booby Prize 2012

And the winner is...the EU?
The European Union won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for promoting peace and democracy in Europe - an honor that came as 27-nation bloc was struggling with its biggest crisis since it was created in the 1950s.

The Norwegian prize committee said the EU was being honored Friday for six decades of contributions "to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe."

"The stabilizing part played by the European Union has helped to transform a once-torn Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace," Nobel committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland said.

Social media exploded with strong reactions Friday, both for and against awarding the prize - worth 8 million Swedish kronor ($1.2 million).

"The EU is an unique project that replaced war with peace, hate with solidarity. Overwhelming emotion for awarding of (hash)Nobel prize to EU," Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament, wrote in a tweet.

"Nobel prize for the EU. At a time Brussels and all of Europe is collapsing in misery. What next? An Oscar for Van Rompuy?" said Dutch euro-skeptic lawmaker Geert Wilders, referring to Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council.
Needless to say, not everyone in the Old World is happy about this year's choice. It must be nice for Eurocrats to be able to give themselves an award...

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Harry Reid Rides Alone

Are some Senate Dems finally getting fed up with their leader?
Much like the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository he so opposes, Reid seems to be toxic.

Reid’s tenure as majority leader in the upper house of Congress has been notable for his iron-fisted control, which has drawn indignation from Republicans. However, in recent months, Reid has also been making headlines as a rabid, partisan attack dog for President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign. In July, Reid claimed—without any evidence—that GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney had paid no taxes for the past ten years. That claim was proved false last month when Romney released his 2011 tax return along with a letter from his tax advisers detailing his tax liability from 1990 and 2009.

Democrats remain cagey about Reid. For example, Politico reports Arizona Democratic candidate Richard Carmona “demurred” when asked about supporting Reid.

“You’re asking me who I’d vote for, and I don’t have a slate of candidates,” Carmona said. “I’ll look and see who the best one is, and then I’ll go ahead and support that person. Majority leaders change all the time at the whims of the Senate.”

Carmona’s refusal to back Reid must sting, given that the Reid-connected Majority PAC has spent more than $400,000 trying to get him elected and Reid’s Searchlight Leadership Fund has given him $10,000.
Sometimes money can't always buy you friends...

Forward Into The Fake Past

Why Obamanomics is a path to a false past:
Obamanomics is a bridge to the past. A backward movement rather than a forward one. Obama has directly dismissed Washington’s pro-market shift – including deregulation and lower marginal tax rates – of the past generation as an economic error that produced greater inequality but not much else.
Obamanomics is a bridge to the past, but a fantasy past where high taxes rates, widespread unionization, and a heavily regulated economy produced “shared prosperity” in the 1950s and 1960s. Former Bain Capital exec Ed Conard, however, dispelled the myth in his book Unintended Consequences:
The United States was prosperous for a unique set of reasons that are impossible to duplicate today, including a decade-long depression, the destruction of the rest of the world’s infrastructure, a failure of potential foreign competitors to educate their people, and a highly restricted supply of labor. For the sake of mankind, let’s hope those conditions aren’t repeated. It seems to me anyone who makes comparisons between today’s economy and that of the 1950s and 1960s without fully disclosing their differences is deceiving their readers.
Obamanomics is stuck in the 1970s as Obama and Biden today talk up public television, high-speed rail, and Keynesian economic tinkering.
Those who only remember the past the way they want to, are doomed to repeat that it...

Fatcat Slim

In the Obama economy, the poor stay poor while the rich get richer:
Carlos Slim, who has an estimated net worth of $70 billion, owns a controlling stake in TracFone, which makes $10 per phone for each device it provides to poor Americans. The company, whose president and CEO is Frederick "F.J." Pollak, also makes money from extra minutes and data plans it sells to subscribers who get phones and service through the government's Lifeline program. The program, which began in the mid-1980s, has exploded in the past four years after being expanded from supplying landlines to the poor to providing cellular phones.

Slim's Movil America owns TracFone and recently snapped up service provider Simple Mobile for $100 million. TracFones and Simple Mobile service are huge players in the Lifeline program through the company's "SafeLink Wireless" brand. TracFone had 3.8 million subscribers through the federal program as of late 2011.
It's good to be the king of Obamaphones...

Gore's Greens

For Al Gore, being green has been very good for business:
Just before leaving public office in 2001, Gore reported assets of less than $2 million; today, his wealth is estimated at $100 million.

Fourteen green-tech firms in which Gore invested received or directly benefited from more than $2.5 billion in loans, grants and tax breaks, part of President Obama’s historic push to seed a U.S. renewable-energy industry with public money.
What's good for green energy, is good for Al Gore...

False Witness

It depends on what the meaning of false is:

What's sinister is the administration changing its story from day to day, admitting that they were flat out wrong about how and why the attack took place, and the mainstream media not doing its job.

The Price Of Loyalty

In Massachusetts, non-supporters will be fined:

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Waiver Wars

Welfare reform was one of the great achievements of the Clinton era. Unfortunately, the Obama administration looks determined to undo it:
Since 1996, welfare caseloads have dropped by more than 50 percent. Millions of Americans once consigned to a lifetime of dependency have moved into the mainstream culture of work.

Now, however, welfare reform is potentially being undercut. In July 2012, the federal Department of Health and Human Service (HHS) announced that it would begin "encouraging states to consider new, more effective ways to meet the goals of TANF, particularly helping parents successfully prepare for, find, and retain employment." To that end, HHS issued a "guidance" memorandum expressing its willingness to unilaterally waive existing TANF rules "to allow states to test alternative and innovative strategies, policies, and procedures that are designed to improve employment outcomes for needy families."[2] The HHS memo undermines TANF's work rules by:

Doing away with work participation rates in some instances;
Extending periods of education and training;
Liberalizing the counting of subsidized employment; and
Discouraging one-time non-assistance payments.

The Obama administration said that the change was a response to requests by governors for more flexibility in administering the program and that it was not intended to "waive or dismantle" the work requirement. But in some key respects, the HHS waiver is inconsistent with this statement. The language itself signals the agency's willingness to water down the program's current focus on work participation rates as the primary test of each state's compliance with the goals of welfare reform.
The "flexibility" seems to be focused more on expanding the culture of dependency than on continuing with real reform. And in the long run that helps no one who actually wants to get out of the system.

Americans Against Obama

The anti-Obama protesters come out-in San Francisco:
Protesters swirled around the entrance to the Bill Graham Auditorium, tormenting the ticket-holders waiting in line to see Obama and radical socialist musician Michael Franti. What made this particular protest unique was that its participants spanned the entire spectrum of American politics, from conservatives to leftists, from marijuana enthusiasts to the NRA, from the Tea Party to Code Pink, from Occupy San Francisco to “Porn Stars for Romney” to PETA, and everyone in between. Who can unite them all? Only Obama!
He's a uniter, not a divider!

Bird Brains

Big Bird is not amused:
The folks at Sesame Street are asking the Obama campaign to pull down a TV ad released Tuesday that mocks Mitt Romney for vowing to yank the subsidy to PBS.

The ad is airing on national cable and broadcast TV, in time slots devoted to comedy shows, the Obama campaign said.

Sesame Street isn’t amused. Sesame Workshop, a nonprofit educational organization that produces and owns the show, issued a statement Tuesday saying “we do not endorse candidates or participate in political campaigns. We have approved no campaign ads, and as is our general practice, have requested that the ad be taken down.”

An Obama campaign spokesman, Ben LaBolt, said the campaign is “reviewing their concerns.”
That seems to be about as far as Team Obama gets in just about anything. At any rate, it's not like Big Bird would be in the poorhouse without PBS.

A Kiss Is Just A Kiss

As Victory Girls points out:
This photo wasn’t an example of sexual assault. It was an example of the exuberance of a nation exhausted by war, having millions of the best and brightest among them either be killed or injured. The photo captures that moment, the emotions behind it and the excitement, relief, and enthusiasm of the day, perfectly.

Feminists deriding this picture are, as usual, bitter harpies making a mountain out of a molehill, missing the picture and finding another reason to be angry over nothing.
There's a reason Rush Limbaugh called them "Feminazis," after all...

Fire Wall

It's still OK to curse the President:
When Professor Kirk spotted the anti-Obama comment, he confronted Morgan Freeman, the president of SHSU Lovers of Liberty, demanding that it be removed. As Freeman explains in FIRE’s video, she refused to censor the university-approved wall. Kirk then took it upon himself to procure a box cutter, return to the wall, and slice out the word “Fuck.” He left all other instances of the swear (and there were many, including at least one reference to former President Bush) intact. The students called the SHSU Police Department to report the vandalism, but the campus police took Kirk’s side and threatened the students with criminal charges unless they covered up all of the profanity on the wall—thereby effectively shutting down the demonstration.

FIRE quickly came to the students’ defense, and while it does not appear the professor was ever punished, the crazy social media policy was soon repealed.
Time for a new Free Speech Movement?

The Last Refuge Of A Conspiracy Theory

When all else in the lawyers: The DNC is alleging, in a complaint filed in federal district court in Manhattan, that top Trump ...