America

Magic Numbers in Politics

Posted on October 14, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , , , |

by Thomas Sowell

Back in the days of the Soviet Union, two Russian economists who had never lived in a country with a free market economy understood something about market economies that many others who have lived in such economies all their lives have never understood. Nikolai Shmelev and Vladimir Popov said: “Everything is interconnected in the world of prices, so that the smallest change in one element is passed along the chain to millions of others.”

What does that mean? It means that a huge increase in the demand for ice cream can mean higher prices for catchers’ mitts, among other things.

When more cows are needed to produce more milk to make ice cream, then fewer cows will be slaughtered and that means less cowhide available to make baseball gloves. Supply and demand mean that catchers’ mitts are going to cost more.

While this may be easy enough to understand, its implications are completely lost on many people in politics and in the media. If everything is connected to everything else in a market economy, then it makes no sense to have laws and policies that declare some given goal to be a “good thing,” without regard to the repercussions, which spread out in all directions, like waves that spread across a pond when you drop a rock in the water.

Our current economic meltdown results from the federal government, under both Democrats and Republicans, declaring home ownership to be a “good thing” and treating the percentage of families who own their own home as if it was some sort of magic number that had to be kept growing– without regard to the repercussions on other things.

We are now living with those repercussions, which include the worst unemployment in decades. That is the price we are paying for increasing home ownership from 64 percent to 69 percent.

How did we get from home ownership to 15 million unemployed Americans? By ignoring the fact that there was a reason why only 64 percent of families owned their own home. More people would have liked to be home owners but did not qualify under mortgage lending standards that had been in place for decades. Continued…TownHall.com

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Job Creation 101

Posted on October 12, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , , |

A hiring tax credit returns from the dead.

The White House is finally coming to realize that taxes affect job creation. Terrific. Its solution seems to be to bribe employers for hiring new workers, albeit only for a couple of years. Less than terrific.

Alarmed by the rising jobless rate, Democrats are scrambling to “do something” to create jobs. You may have thought that was supposed to be the point of February’s $780 billion stimulus plan, and indeed it was. White House economists Christina Romer and Jared Bernstein estimated at the time that the spending blowout would keep the jobless rate below 8%.

The nearby chart compares the job estimates the two economists used to help sell the stimulus to the American public to the actual jobless rate so far this year. The current rate is 9.8% and is expected to rise or stay high well into the election year of 2010. Rarely in politics do we get such a clear and rapid illustration of a policy failure.

This explains why political panic is beginning to set in, and various panicky ideas to create more jobs are suddenly in play. The New York Times reports that one plan would grant a $3,000 tax credit to employers for each new hire in 2010. Under another, two-year plan, employers would receive a credit in the first year equal to 15.3% of the cost of adding a new worker, an amount that would be reduced to 10.2% in the second year and then phased out entirely. Why 15.3%? Presumably because that’s roughly the cost of the payroll tax burden to hire a new worker.

The irony of this is remarkable, considering the costs that Democrats are busy imposing on job creation. Congress raised the minimum wage again in July, a direct slam at low-skilled and young workers. The black teen jobless rate has since climbed to 50.4% from 39.2% in two months. Congress is also moving ahead with a mountain of new mandates, from mandatory paid leave to the House’s health-care payroll surtax of 5.4%. All of these policy changes give pause to employers as they contemplate the cost of new hires—a reality that Democrats are tacitly admitting as they now plot to find ways to offset those higher costs.

Alas, their new ideas are little more than political gimmicks that aren’t likely to result in many new jobs. Congress doesn’t want to give up revenue for very long, so it would make the tax credits temporary. Thus anyone who is hired would have to be productive enough to justify the wage or salary after the tax-credit expires—or else the job is likely to end. An employer would be better off hiring a temp worker and saving on the benefits for the same couple of years. read the rest in opinion Wall Street Journal

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Top Twenty Things Obama Doesn’t Say

Posted on October 12, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , , |

by Jill S. Sprik

 Despite countless speeches and news conferences, did you ever hear President Obama express the following ideas?

  1. Not everything is a federal issue; some things are for the states to decide.
  2. I hear what you’re saying and you have a good point.
  3. One of the beautiful things about our constitution is the liberty given to individuals to pursue their dreams.  There is great opportunity in our country to succeed.
  4. In an effort to stimulate job growth and despite the objections from my party, I am working with Congress to reduce taxes for small businesses.
  5. I am saddened by the cycle of poverty that exists in our major cities, and here is a way we can empower the next generation to break the cycle and fulfill their God-given potential….
  6. The folks at the town hall meetings and those who came to Washington on 9/12 were exercising one of the greatest rights we have as Americans, freedom of speech.
  7. Stop already with all forms of ‘cult of personality’ behavior.  I am a public servant, just like all those who have served before and all who will come after my term is complete.  It’s not about me, it’s about the country.
  8. I heard a great message Sunday morning at church.
  9. History teaches us that evil exists in the world; for this reason the United States must remain strong, ready to defend itself and its allies.
  10. I didn’t realize a communist was part of my administration.  It won’t happen again.
  11. The billions siphoned out of health care into lawyers’ pockets never healed a single person.
  12. No other country on earth offers its citizens the opportunity to pursue life, liberty, and happiness as does the United States of America.
  13. The experts have looked at the proposed (fill-in-the-blank) program, and when it is extrapolated out beyond just the initial offering there is clear evidence it will cost too much money and will eventually fail.
  14. I disagree 100% with the Cloward-Piven strategy of increasing the welfare rolls and overwhelming the financial system, and I am not affiliated in any way with the implementation of such an idea.
  15. I don’t know the answer to your question but I will give it some thought.
  16. The goal of my presidency is not to implement a political ideology, but to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.
  17. Every person has value regardless of age, gender, color, physical characteristics, or any other factor.
  18. Any healthcare bill I sign must include a provision to exclude the rationing of care, keep the door open for competition among insurers, and promote the opportunity for our young people to pursue an education in the medical fields to ensure future supply meets future demand.
  19. It is important for legislators to remember that what helps someone in the short-term may actually hurt them in the long-term, and we must avoid this kind of scenario.
  20. It has become clear to me after meeting with military experts that their recommendations should be implemented in our current situation; this is not an area in which politics can be allowed to interfere.

 

The list could continue, but you get the point:  by not saying the kinds of things that show – read the rest of this great article at The American Thinker.com
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White House Tells CNN They Are Punishing Fox News

Posted on October 12, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , |

In an interview with CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” White House Communications Director Anita Dunn elaborates on comments she made in Time magazine about Fox News, calling the network “opinion journalism masquerading as news.”

During the interview, Dunn admits the White House is punishing Fox News for its “negative” coverage of the president–including the exclusion of Fox during Obama’s weekend media blitz last month.  Despite not giving any examples of actual inaccurate reporting on Fox’s part, Dunn whined that “Fox News often operates as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party.”

As ridiculous as that sounds, somehow I doubt Fox is losing sleep over the White House’s one-man boycott; the network now claims all top 10 show slots in the cable news ratings race:
Posted by: Meredith Jessup On Townhall.com see video

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Democrats stymie GOP efforts to pass immigration measures

Posted on October 11, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , , , , |

By Walter Alarkon

Republicans failed this week to keep provisions addressing illegal immigration in the Homeland Security spending bill, the latest sign that Democrats want to hold off on that debate until next year.

GOP senators had succeeded in attaching a pair of border security and enforcement provisions to the Senate version of the appropriations bill: one would have completed the 700-mile fence authorized along the Mexican border and the other would have permanently extended a requirement for all federal contractors to verify their employees through a government database.

But Democrats stripped both provisions out in conference. They did extend the verification program by three years along with several expiring visa programs, including one for international medical graduates in rural states and another for religious workers.

“Clearly in our bill, we assumed nothing was permanent,” said Rep. David Price (D-N.C.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee for Homeland Security. “We took some stop-gap measures.”

Lawmakers, Price said, know that immigration won’t be a top priority in coming months, when Congress is looking to pass bills on healthcare, climate change and financial regulations, and address the struggling economy. Price said he believed Congress had the political will to tackle immigration early in 2010 but that it would be hard to pass anything once campaigning for the mid-term elections begins next summer and the presidential race begins in 2011.

Leaving the provisions out will give advocates for a path to citizenship for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in they country more leverage to win over centrists once the immigration debate begins.

The most recent immigration overhaul stalled in 2007 when lawmakers couldn’t agree, even though the effort was supported by President George W. Bush, Democratic leaders and centrist Republicans.

The path to citizenship, which was in that bill, ended up being a dealbreaker for conservatives, who view it as amnesty.

Sen. Lindsay Graham (S.C.), one of the Republicans who backed the immigration overhaul, said that the 3-year extensions of current policies were good steps but no substitute for broader reform.

“You may extend a program or two, but you’re never going to solve this problem piecemeal,” Graham said.

He suggested that compromises will be necessary to pass any legislation that realistically deals with the millions in the country illegally.

“I think America is ready to embrace give-and-take politics on this issue only if you can convince them that this will solve the problem,” he said. “That’s our challenge, to convince the American public that the border is more secure.”

Republicans who opposed the last immigration overhaul are again pushing for increased immigration enforcement provisions in the 2010 spending bills.

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) failed to get an amendment attached last week to the Commerce, Justice and Science spending bill that would have barred local law enforcement groups from receiving federal money for community policing programs if they refused to report illegal immigrants they encountered to federal authorities.

Large police departments, including those in New York City and Philadelphia, have long objected to the proposal to end “sanctuary cities”. They say it would have a chilling effect on policing in immigrant communities, with potential witnesses to crimes avoiding police for fear they will be reported.

Senators voted to table the amendment on a 38-61 vote, with every Democrat opposing the measure.

Vitter said that he hasn’t seen any evidence that the gap between supporters and opponents of the comprehensive immigration overhaul has shrunk.

“I think there’s very much still the same divide in Congress,” Vitter told The Hill. “And I think there’s still very much the same support among the American people for getting serious first with enforcement.”

Great articles on The Hill.com

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Senate 2010: Most endangered seats

Posted on October 11, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , , , , |

By CHARLES MAHTESIAN

The 2010 Senate landscape is almost evenly split down the middle: Republicans will be defending 18 seats, while the Democrats will be defending 19 seats, including the January special election in Massachusettes for the full watch list.
Connecticut

Chris Dodd, a five-term Democrat, is arguably the party’s most vulnerable Senate incumbent — just look at the lengthy list of Republicans who are champing at the bit to take him on. Dodd has experienced marked improvement in his poll ratings in recent months, a development no doubt assisted by the Senate Ethics Committee’s August dismissal of complaints alleging that Dodd and Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) had received special mortgage deals from Countrywide Financial. Yet the committee also noted that the two should have “exercised more vigilance” to avoid the appearance that they received preferential treatment, so the issue isn’t entirely wiped away. Leading the crowded GOP field is former three-term Rep. Rob Simmons, who was defeated for reelection in 2006. Simmons has led Dodd in head-to-head polling matchups for months; Quinnipiac had him at a 5-percentage-point advantage in mid-September.

Nevada

The only thing stopping Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid from being rated as the most vulnerable Democratic senator is the quality of his opposition. Republicans struggled for months to come up with a top-tier challenger to Reid, despite his anemic ratings in the polls. Now the GOP has at least three prospective challengers — former state Republican Party Chairwoman Sue Lowden, state Sen. Mark Amodei and businessman Danny Tarkanian — but none of them has ever run a race quite like this or against a smash-mouth opponent quite like Reid. If the GOP nominee turns out to be equal to the task, the general election may end up resembling the epic 2004 South Dakota battle between then- Majority Leader Tom Daschle and Republican John Thune, fueled by national money and contingent on whether the challenger can convince voters that Reid’s power hasn’t translated into results for Nevada — which is suffering from high unemployment and foreclosure rates.

Read more: Politico.com

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Illusions of Insignificance –Weinstein

Posted on October 10, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Rachel Maddow: Every member of every country that was in the finals sent a head of government or a head of state…

Mike Murphy: But there’s a difference, Rachel. The president of the United States is a special category of one, and you don’t put a president in that position…

Rachel Maddow: Sure. And tell a Spaniard that King Carlos is second rate…

Mike Murphy: King Carlos knows deep down he’s second rate to the president of the United States…

– Discussion (edited for clarity and brevity) on President Barack Obama’s trip to Copenhagen, Meet the Press, October 4, 2009

It is unlikely that one would have to convince Spanish King Juan Carlos that he is not as significant an international figure as any American president. Unlike MSNBC commentator Rachel Maddow, the Spanish King surely is fully aware of this reality. Indeed, with the possible exception of megalomaniac dictators and French presidents, most world leaders understand this implicitly.

To be sure, there are some who see things changing in the international arena; others who would like things to change; and a few who are acting to make such a change a reality. Still, as of now, the United States is the world’s only superpower. Why would Maddow, an American, be more deluded then the rest of world’s leaders as to the significance of the American president?

Perhaps it’s because she is consumed by a mania that infects left-wing “intellectuals.” Many leftists refuse to see America as an exceptional nation. To them, the notion is egotistical, inconsistent with the multiculturist worldview with which they were indoctrinated in college. To these global citizens, America is just another country in the world. If it is exceptional in anything, it is exceptionally imperialistic or exceptionally racist or exceptionally (insert a pejorative).

On ABC’s This Week on Sunday, Maddow’s point was indirectly echoed by The Nation magazine editor Katrina vanden Heuvel. Vanden Heuvel declared that “America is no longer a superpower.” She didn’t put it out there for debate. She just stated it as if it was an inarguable, uncontroversial fact.

Of course, the statement is false, even if vanden Heuvel, like Maddow, relishes the idea that America is just one country of many. But it is not hard to find commentators these days gleefully predicting the demise of Pax Americana. While the United States unquestionably remains the world’s strongest country both militarily and economically, long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have led some to suggest America is overstretched. With the financial collapse, some countries have argued that America’s economic leadership has come to an end. At the same time, some see China’s rapid rise as a forthcoming threat to America’s dominance in the world. Combine all this, some say, and the American epoch is over, or if not over yet, rapidly coming to a conclusion.

Whatever the merit of these arguments, the fact is that America remains the top dog in the world. And we shouldn’t be resigned to losing that position. After all, such songs of America’s demise have been sung before only to be proven premature. There are certainly great obstacles and challenges that confront the United States, but these can be overcome. There is no reason the 21st century cannot be another “American Century.”

Read the rest at FrontPage Magazine

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Scientist: Carbon Dioxide Doesn’t Cause Global Warming

Posted on October 9, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , |

By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers

A noted geologist who coauthored the New York Times bestseller Sugar Busters has turned his attention to convincing Congress that carbon dioxide emissions are good for the Earth and don’t cause global warming. Leighton Steward is on Capitol Hill this week armed with studies and his book Fire, Ice and Paradise in a bid to show senators working on the energy bill that the carbon dioxide cap-and-trade scheme could actually hurt the environment by reducing CO2 levels.

I’m trying to kill the whole thing,” he says. “We are tilting at windmills.” He is meeting with several GOP lawmakers and has plans to meet with some Democrats later this week.

Much of the global warming debate has focused on reducing CO2 emissions because it is thought that the greenhouse gas produced mostly from fossil fuels is warming the planet. But Steward, who once believed CO2 caused global warming, is trying to fight that with a mountain of studies and scientific evidence that suggest CO2 is not the cause for warming. What’s more, he says CO2 levels are so low that more, not less, is needed to sustain and expand plant growth.

Trying to debunk theories that higher CO2 levels cause warming, he cites studies that show CO2 levels following temperature spikes, prompting him to back other scientists who say that global warming is caused by solar activity.

In taking on lawmakers pushing for a cap-and-trade plan to deal with emissions, Steward tells Whispers that he’s worried

that the legislation will result in huge and unneeded taxes. Worse, if CO2 levels are cut, he warns, food production will slow because plants grown at higher CO2 levels make larger fruit and vegetables and also use less water. He also said that higher CO2 levels are not harmful to humans. As an example, he said that Earth’s atmosphere currently has about 338 parts per million of CO2 and that in Navy subs, the danger level for carbon dioxide isn’t reached until the air has 8,000 parts per million of CO2.

Steward is part of a nonprofit group called Plants Need CO2 that is funding pro-CO2 ads in two states represented by two key lawmakers involved in the energy debate: Montana’s Sen. Max Baucus and New Mexico’s Sen. Jeff Bingaman.

Check out our gallery of political cartoons on Washi

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BREAKING: Catholic Bishops On Health Care – Change Bills Or Else

Posted on October 8, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , , , |

In a letter just released, the three Catholic bishops leading the Church’s efforts on health care warned Congress that “we will have no choice but to oppose the bill” unless current bills are amended.

The letter signed by Bishop William Murphy, Cardinal Justin Rigali and Bishop John Wester outlines three main areas of concern:  “that no one should be forced to pay for or participate in abortion, that health care should be affordable and available to the poor and vulnerable, and that the needs of legal immigrants should be met.”

Of those, of course, abortion poses the gravest threat to the bill.  The bishops simply don’t buy the argument that House Democrats found a way to block public funding for abortions with the Capps amendment, and they insist that the Hyde amendment doesn’t apply to the bills because they are not appropriations measures.  A sizable bloc of House Democrats, led by Bart Stupak of Michigan, agree and are pressuring for a clear prohibition on public funding.

Add this to the list of complications I outlined this morning. Here’s the Bishop’s letter.
 
– George Stephanopoulos

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Selling Your Tweets to the Enemy

Posted on October 8, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , |

By Ryan Tate

Tech bloggers are in a tizzy over the prospect of tech giants Google or Microsoft getting real-time access to the thoughts of Twitterers, but Valleywag has learned that cash-hungry Twitter is already selling access to its “firehose” of data.

Various startups, we’re told, have already been able to buy access (for thousands of dollars, not the millions Google or Microsoft would have to pay) to tweets. Twitter is in “advanced talks” with both those companies to sell access to a full feed of tweet data for use in the companies’ search engines, according to Kara Swisher at All Things D. Such a feed would presumably include all new tweets as they are posted along with public data on favorites and who is following whom.

Thought they haven’t widely publicized the practice, Twitter is already in the business of selling access to its “firehose” of public data, according to a source close to one customer of the service. Twitter typically charges between $1,500 and $3,000 per month for such access, this person said.

Then again, a typical customer until now has been a relatively small startup company with little revenue, utterly dependent on the Twitter ecosystem. Google and Microsoft are more fearsome competitors, with much deeper pockets. Google CEO Eric Schmidt just this past March called Twitter a “poor man’s email system,” and his company recently added real-time features to its GMail product, making it more Twitter like.

Read the rest at Gawker.com

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Labor Unions Battle High-End Policy Tax

Posted on October 8, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , , |

By SEAN HIGGINS, INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY

Prodded by Big Labor, House Democrats are rising up against Senate Democrats’ efforts to pay for President Obama’s health care overhaul in part via a tax on high-end insurance plans.

A total of 157 House Democrats — over 60% of the party’s 256-member caucus — sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Wednesday announcing their opposition to the tax.

Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., who organized the petition, said the tax would hurt too many middle-class people in addition to the wealthier people it is intended to hit.

“This would have an impact far wider than just the Paris Hiltons of the world,” Courtney told reporters Wednesday.

Their move creates the latest snag in the already-troubled efforts to pass a health care bill this year. Democratic leaders are struggling to balance various factions in crafting legislation. Now Big Labor is making its demands as well.

The Senate Finance Committee, led by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., last week included a 40% tax on insurance plans that would cost families more than $21,000 a year or individuals more than $8,000. The threshold would increase by 1% above inflation each year.

The thresholds would move to $26,000 and $9,850 respectively for people more than 55 years old and those in high-risk professions.

The tax would fall on insurers, but they would almost certainly pass that on to customers in the form of higher premiums.

Read the rest at Investors.com

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Climate Talks Failure Would Embarrass Obama, EU Says

Posted on October 8, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , , |

Oct. 8 (Bloomberg) — U.S. President Barack Obama faces “more than an embarrassment” should his nation fail to lead international negotiations to complete a new climate-protection treaty by December, a senior European climate negotiator said.

Obama’s scope is limited because the U.S. Congress may not approve a domestic law to control emissions before the December deadline for signing an international climate accord in Copenhagen, Karl Falkenberg, director-general for environment at the European Union’s executive body, said in an interview.

“Obama and his administration are very committed, and it will be more than an embarrassment for them if at Copenhagen they would have to admit they are not ready,” Falkenberg said late last night in Bangkok, where more than 180 nations are meeting for talks. “We can just help, but helping them also means directly telling them that the world has an expectation.”

Delegates wrap up two weeks of talks in Thailand tomorrow in an effort to replace or extend the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, whose emission limits for industrialized nations expire in 2012. Kyoto requires reductions of about 5 percent in greenhouse gases from 1990 levels, with no limits for developing nations.

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed legislation, and a companion bill has yet to be considered in the Senate. Failure to have a new law in time for Copenhagen’s final round of negotiations would raise question marks over what commitments the U.S. can make, Falkenberg said.

U.S. negotiators “have to admit their margin will be defined by what happens in the Congress,” he said. What the U.S. commits to will “trigger what countries like China or India or Brazil are going to be prepared to do,” he said.

White House officials declined to comment.

Stalled Talks

Two years of climate talks have stalled as developed nations disagree over 2020 emission limits. Developing nations said they are waiting for richer countries, which have put most of the gases into the atmosphere over the past century, to cut their output first.

The talks in Bangkok are going “too slow to make a deal in Copenhagen,” Falkenberg said. “It needs to very seriously accelerate. We need more political commitment.”

After the Bangkok talks, countries have another week in Barcelona in November before the December summit in Copenhagen.

While “significant advances” have been made in Bangkok, “lack of leadership on the key political issues” has impaired the process, Yvo de Boer, the UN’s top climate official, told reporters today in Bangkok.

‘No Good Faith’

Read the rest of the store at Bloomberg.com

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Calling ‘Em Out: The White House Takes on the Press

Posted on October 8, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , , |

There was never a single moment when White House staff decided the major media outlets were falling down on the job. There were instead several such moments.

For press secretary Robert Gibbs, the realization came in early September, when the New York Times ran a front-page story about the bubbling parental outrage over President Obama’s plan to address schoolchildren — even though the benign contents of the speech were not yet public. “You had to be like, ‘Wait a minute,'” says Gibbs. “This thing has become a three-ring circus.”

For deputy communications director Dan Pfeiffer, the more hyperbolic attacks on health-care reform this summer, which were often covered as a “controversy,” flipped an internal switch. “When you are having a debate about whether or not you want to kill people’s grandmother,” he explains, “the normal rules of engagement don’t apply.”

And for his boss, Anita Dunn, the aha moment came when the Washington Post ran a second op-ed from a Republican politician decrying the “32” alleged czars appointed by the Obama Administration. Nine of those so-called czars, it turned out, were subject to Senate confirmation, making them decidedly unlike the Russian monarchs. “The idea — that the Washington Post didn’t even question it,” Dunn says, still marveling at the decision.

All the criticism, both fair and misleading, took a toll, regularly knocking the White House off message. So a new White House strategy has emerged: rather than just giving reporters ammunition to “fact-check” Obama’s many critics, the White House decided it would become a player, issuing biting attacks on those pundits, politicians and outlets that make what the White House believes to be misleading or simply false claims, like the assertion that health-care reform would establish new “sex clinics” in schools. Obama, fresh from his vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, cheered on the effort, telling his aides he wanted to “call ’em out.”

Read the rest at Time.com

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Another Snowe Job?

Posted on October 8, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , |

Congress: If the people of Maine want a dysfunctional health care system, that’s their business. But why must their senator insist that the rest of us have the same?

Now that Rhode Island’s Lincoln Chafee is gone and Pennsylvania’s Arlen Specter has defected, Maine’s senior senator, Olympia Snowe, may be the least reliable Republican in the U.S. Senate. She may have been all along.

Which is why Democrats hope she’ll vote against her party once again on health care reform. Snowe is the lone Republican on the Senate Finance Committee that’s open to the Democrat-backed bill expected to move to the Senate floor.

Officially, Snowe is undecided. And even if she votes for the measure in committee, that doesn’t mean she’ll back it in the full Senate. Or so she says. But her name keeps popping up when Democrats count the noses they’ll need for a filibuster-proof 60 votes.
If Snowe goes along with the Democrats, it won’t be the first time. She has voted against the GOP on issues including tax cuts, Social Security, free trade, the war in Iraq, missile defense, cap and trade, illegal immigration, and abortion.

The National Journal had her voting more with liberals than conservatives in 2008, and Americans for Democratic Action gave her an 80 rating, higher than some Democrats, including Max Baucus, chairman of the Finance Committee. The American Conservative Union, on the other hand, rated her a lowly 12.
Read the rest on Investors.com

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Congress’ Secret Plan to Pass Obamacare – CONFIRMED

Posted on October 8, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , , , |

Leaders in the House and Senate have a plan to pass President Barack Obama’s sweeping health care plan by Thanksgiving without any significant participation by the American public. CNS News has confirmed the details in our September 22nd titled “Passing a Shell of A Bill: Congress’ Secret Plan to Ram Through Health Care Reform.” Nicholas Ballasy reports “a senior aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told CNSNews.com that it is ‘likely’ that Reid will use H.R. 1586—a bill passed by the House in March to impose a 90-percent tax on bonuses paid to employees of certain bailed-out financial institutions—as a ‘shell’ for enacting the final version of the Senate’s health care bill, which Reid is responsible for crafting.”

This story confirms the four part scenario that would railroad the bill through the Senate using a very unusual closed door procedure to craft the bill with no input from the American people.

The four stage plan to pass Obamacare has been publicly confirmed and is ready to be implemented. The following is a comprehensive update:

Step One: “The Senate Finance Committee will finish work on the marking up of Senator Max Baucus’ (D-MT) conceptual framework for legislation by this Friday.” Progress on this had been stalled and the bill was not passed by the end of last week. Foxnews.com is reporting that the Congressional Budget Office score of the bill will be released later today and a high score may further stall progress on the Committee’s Vapor Bill.  Senate Finance Committee’s progress on passing something out of committee – INCOMPLETE

Congress’ Secret Plan to Pass Obamacare – CONFIRMED

Leaders in the House and Senate have a plan to pass President Barack Obama’s sweeping health care plan by Thanksgiving without any significant participation by the American public. CNS News has confirmed the details in our September 22nd titled “Passing a Shell of A Bill: Congress’ Secret Plan to Ram Through Health Care Reform.” Nicholas Ballasy reports “a senior aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told CNSNews.com that it is ‘likely’ that Reid will use H.R. 1586—a bill passed by the House in March to impose a 90-percent tax on bonuses paid to employees of certain bailed-out financial institutions—as a ‘shell’ for enacting the final version of the Senate’s health care bill, which Reid is responsible for crafting.”

This story confirms the four part scenario that would railroad the bill through the Senate using a very unusual closed door procedure to craft the bill with no input from the American people.

The four stage plan to pass Obamacare has been publicly confirmed and is ready to be implemented. The following is a comprehensive update:

Step One: “The Senate Finance Committee will finish work on the marking up of Senator Max Baucus’ (D-MT) conceptual framework for legislation by this Friday.” Progress on this had been stalled and the bill was not passed by the end of last week. Foxnews.com is reporting that the Congressional Budget Office score of the bill will be released later today and a high score may further stall progress on the Committee’s Vapor Bill.  Senate Finance Committee’s progress on passing something out of committee – INCOMPLETE.

Step Two: Next, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will take the final product of the Senate Finance Committee and merge it with the product of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee. CNSnews.com has confirmed that “the actual final text of the legislation will be determined by Reid himself, who will consolidate the legislation approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and the still-unapproved legislation from the Senate Finance Committee. Reid will be able to draft and insert textual language that was not expressly approved by either committee.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will write the final version of Obamacare to be considered in the Senate with no input from the American people. This is an extremely complex procedure that will not be done in public, or in the form of a hearing, or a public conference committee, and only Senator Harry Reid, some other Senators chosen by Reid and Obama Administration officials will be allowed to read the bill before the Senate debate starts. Merger of the bills – IN PROGRESS.

Read the rest Blog. Heritage.org

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Begala to Obama: Listen to me, dummy

Posted on October 8, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , |

Hugh Hewitt

Chicago and the Olympics weren’t a great mix from the start. Sort of like holding an international gathering of Alcoholics Anonymous in the Guinness St. James’ Gate Brewery in Dublin, Ireland.

The grifters and graft merchants of the Windy City couldn’t have helped themselves, and the results wouldn’t have been pretty. As a lover of the Olympics, I am disappointed, but perhaps we can nominate a less problematic locale for 2020 than Chicago and New York have proved to be in the last two rounds.

The aftermath of the president’s pratfall has been interesting to watch. The first-round knockout was so embarrassing that even the Beltway’s cadre of professional friends of the powerful were eager to telegraph that they were out of the loop and without influence on this one.

Paul Begala, who is beginning to make Brutus look like a paragon of loyalty, rushed to Politico’s Josh Gerstein to reaffirm to the world that he had warned the president not to go.

When the media’s merchants of inside scoop are looking for opportunities to broadcast how little their advice matters, you know the smash-up was pretty bad.

The obvious question: If the president cannot persuade the International Olympic Committee, which is, after all, merely corrupt, to go his way, how will he persuade Iran’s mullahs, who are both corrupt and fanatical, to give up their nukes?

Answer: He won’t, but the legacy media will be able to cover for his failure in that far more significant arena.

The stunned disbelief on the faces of a half-dozen Beltway-Manhattan media elites when the live announcement of the big boot to Chicago’s backside was made could not have been more revealing.

How could this be happening to their most favorite, best prepared and least unilateral president ever? It didn’t take long for the senator from Blagojevich, Roland Burris, to blame George Bush for the catastrophe that befell Chicago’s speculator class, and by Monday morning the momentarily stunned David Axelrod will have worked that line into his explanation.

The usually never-at-a-loss-for-spin Axelrod had sounded bitter on CNN when he rushed out to blame politics for the disaster, an unexpected if refreshing break from the Bush-centric rhetoric of the Obama inner circle.

Read the rest in The Washington Examiner

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Compare and Contrast

Posted on October 8, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , , |

As we wend our way through the first year of the Obama administration, it is hard not to notice a stark contrast in style between the American president and another democratic leader who has been in power for almost the same amount of time: Binyamin Netanyahu. The political trajectories of the two men have been almost perfectly opposite. Obama started off his presidency blessed by great popularity only to see his fortunes plummet, while Netanyahu began under a cloud of public uncertainty and suspicion yet today enjoys healthy public-approval numbers. More than anything else, the leadership styles of the two men explain their divergent fortunes.

The most obvious difference between the two is in the level of public exposure that each has pursued. Obama seeks to place himself in the headlines of newspapers and to lead the television news broadcasts on a daily basis, achieving an omnipresence unprecedented in American politics. He has given scores of speeches, each heralded to be of great consequence to the nation and the world. He has staked much of his presidential power on the sheer force of his personality, giving little consideration to the sustainability of such a strategy or whether so much narcissistic pageantry is becoming to a national leader. His public pronouncements are astonishingly self-absorbed: to take one example, in their speeches to the International Olympic Committee in Copenhagen, the First Couple used the first-person pronoun 70 times in 89 sentences.

Obama’s permanent publicity blitz has rendered his pronouncements banal and is helping to create an impression that he is all talk, no results. Who can recall with any precision what the president says from one day to the next? Why bother trying when another speech is moments away? CBS News’ White House correspondent noted on July 13 that Obama had already delivered his 200th speech — on his 177th day in office.

Netanyahu has taken a completely different approach. He goes days without making public statements, often only commenting on events at his weekly cabinet meeting, and even so, by making the tersest of remarks. His response to the Goldstone Commission report was delivered without fanfare in a cabinet meeting and consisted in its entirety of a 330-word statement. Netanyahu has given only two major speeches during his premiership: the June address at Bar-Ilan University, where he rebutted Obama’s Cairo speech and laid out Israel’s terms for the peace process; and his UN General Assembly speech, where he shamed the “international community” for its indulgence of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Read more on Commentary Magazine

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Dems Gang Up on McChrystal

Posted on October 6, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , |

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: With members of Congress set to huddle at the White House this afternoon to discuss Afghanistan strategy with President Obama, leading Democrats are ratcheting up criticism of Gen. Stanley McChrystal for publicly discussing his recommendations to the president as part of the strategic review.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last night told Charlie Rose that McChrystal should be making his arguments only in private.

“Let me say this about Gen. McChrystal, with all due respect: His recommendations to the president should go up the line of command. They shouldn’t be in press conferences,” said Pelosi, D-Calif.

Pelosi also had praise for Vice President Joe Biden’s view — that al Qaeda should be dealt with in Afghanistan through the use of more drone strikes and special forces, not additional troops.

“Let me say this: The vice president’s views are ones that widely shared,” Pelosi said.

This morning, Sen. Jim Webb, a former Navy secretary and a veteran, said it was “pretty odd” that McChrystal gave an interview to “60 Minutes” and spoke to a London think-tank about his recommendations, even as President Obama deliberates on the best way forward.

“At a time when people were meeting in the White House discussing Afghanistan, he was giving a speech in London,” Webb, D-Va., told MSNBC. “I thought that was pretty odd.”

At a forum last night, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates said decisions regarding troop strength should not be made as part of a public debate.

But Gates said his comments were “absolutely not” aimed at McChrystal, and he voiced his support for the general’s leadership in Afghanistan.

McChrystal’s grave assessment of the situation in Iraq was leaked to The Washington Post last month. The Obama administration has resisted calls from members of Congress to have McChrystal testify in front of Congress on his recommendations before the president makes up his mind.

visit ABCNews BLOG

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The Noble ‘Sacrifice’ Of Michelle Obama

Posted on October 5, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , |

By Michelle Malkin

It’s hard out there for a first lady of the United States. Take it from travel-weary Michelle Obama. On Tuesday night, she boarded a luxury 757 for Copenhagen. Think of the stairs she had to climb. Oh, the agony of the feet!

Upon arrival, Mrs. O, her “chit-chat buddy,” Chicago-based talk-show queen Oprah Winfrey, and Chicago powerbroker/interest-conflicted real estate mogul/senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett immediately embarked on a grueling, grip-and-grin campaign to secure the Olympics for their hometown. Our smile muscles ache in sympathy.

You will be comforted to know that the gracious FLOTUS feels your pain for her pain. “As much of a sacrifice as people say this is for me or Oprah or the president to come for these few days,” the first lady told a group of fellow Chicago 2016 boosters, “so many of you in this room have been working for years to bring this bid home.” Translation: Thank me, thank you, for all we do.

Never has self-congratulatory gratitude been raised to such an art form, but there was no time for loyal subjects to dwell. The selflessly indefatigable Michelle Obama had to rush off for an 800-meter wine-and-cheese dash with International Olympic Committee members, followed by a rigorous aerobic Heads of State luncheon hosted by Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and another high-heeled trek to the IOC Opening Ceremony at the Copenhagen Opera House.

Of course, it’s not entirely clear which “people” out there are saying that the Obamas’ jaunt to Denmark is a “sacrifice.”

Certainly not the families of the 43 American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who have died in Afghanistan since Gen. Stanley McChrystal called for more reinforcements.

Certainly not the families of the nearly 40 children and teens in Chicago who lost their lives on the out-of-control streets of the Windy City so far this year.

The first lady’s slip of self-absorption reminds me of a useful passage in Washington Post writer Liza Mundy’s biography of Mrs. Obama. After graduating from Princeton University and Harvard Law School, the bitterly oppressed Michelle Obama headed back to her native Chicago to join the high-powered law firm of Sidley Austin — the ninth largest in the world. There, Mundy’s book reported, the future first lady griped about having to do the duties of a second-year associate while she was a second-year associate — demonstrating the trademark attitude of entitlement and inflated ego that led the law partner who recruited her to later describe her as “perennially dissatisfied.”

Doing her first job was a burden then. Enjoying the perks of her current job is a “sacrifice” now.

Read the rest of Michelle Malkin on GOPUSA

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Afghan battle probe a reminder of war’s challenges

Posted on October 5, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , , |

As President Barack Obama grapples with the way ahead in Afghanistan, a decision to launch a new investigation into a deadly firefight is a painful reminder of the challenges the U.S. faces in a country known as the graveyard of empires.

Fought in the small village of Wanat near the Pakistan border, the battle claimed the lives of nine American soldiers and wounded 27 others after their platoon-sized unit was attacked by as many as 200 insurgents during the early hours of July 13, 2008. Accounts of the battle indicate senior commanders may have made serious mistakes, leaving the soldiers short-handed and without critical support needed to blunt such an intense raid.

On Saturday, just days after Army Gen. David Petraeus ordered the inquiry, U.S. forces in Afghanistan endured a stark echo of that tragedy: eight U.S. soldiers were killed when several hundred militant fighters struck two American outposts in the same rugged region in northeastern Afghanistan where the earlier assault occurred.

The emerging story of the 2008 battle along with Saturday’s attack adds new weight to calls by Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top officer in Afghanistan, for thousands more American forces to deal with the dicey political, cultural and geographical conditions there.

McChrystal has warned that the Taliban-led insurgency is becoming more potent and that the U.S. is in danger of losing the war unless more troops are sent to turn the tide against a formidable opponent.

But the president’s top national security adviser is downplaying those concerns. Gen. James Jones, a retired Marine Corps general, said Sunday in television interviews that Afghanistan is not in imminent danger of falling to the Taliban and that al-Qaida’s presence in the country is “very diminished.”

Read more By RICHARD LARDNER on Townhall.com

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