The Rise and Fall of Hope and Change

The Rise and Fall of Hope and Change

Alexis de Toqueville

The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money.
Alexis de Tocqueville

The United States Capitol Building

The United States Capitol Building

The Constitutional Convention

The Constitutional Convention

The Continental Congress

The Continental Congress

George Washington at Valley Forge

George Washington at Valley Forge

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Another Fine Pension Mess

From The American Thinker:

March 29, 2011


Another Fine Pension Mess

By Gary Jason

Amidst the raucous squawking occasioned by Obama's Kinetic Military Action in Libya, a story has gone unremarked in the general press. It concerns the pension tsunami that is looming at all levels of government.





The story is the flimsy state of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC). It is covered magisterially in a new paper written by the fine economist Charles Blahous of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. Entitled "The 'Other' Pension Crisis: Options for Avoiding a Taxpayer Bailout of the PBGC," it is easily found on the internet, and is a real eye-popper.





The PBGC is an ill-conceived, federally chartered corporation, established in 1974 in the wake of several business failures that left their pension funds broke. Congress, in effect, set up an agency to guarantee pensions negotiated between private industry and private industry unions; the taxpayer would be the guarantor of last resort for particular private pension contracts.





As such, the PBGC wasn't just redundant (duplicating Social Security's initial purpose) but was and is the ultimate exercise in moral hazard. It encouraged unions to demand unsustainably high pension plans, and companies to grant them, because all parties knew that the U.S. would be there no matter what.





Blahous starts by reviewing the current unfunded liabilities facing the PBGC. Its single-employer pension insurance covers about 33.8 million workers in some 26,000 plans. If a plan fails, the PBGC assumes both its assets and its liabilities (obligations). The fund pays the employees their pensions, up to $55,000 a year. As of last year, it was already paying out about $5.6 billion to over 800,000 retirees.





Now, PBGC's official deficit -- the amount it is obligated to pay out not covered by its asset base -- stands at $21.6 billion, nearly the highest it has ever been. But Blahous notes that even the PBGC estimates that its "reasonably possible" risk (i.e., the underfunded liabilities of the plans with below investment grade ratings) is more like $170 billion. That is just for the single-employer pension plans. Last year, the "reasonably possible" risk in multi-employer plans was an additional $20 billion.





Worse, he notes that three years ago, the PBGC stopped estimating the total underfunding of all the pensions it covers. That is believed to be in the hundreds of billions of dollars, but the PBGC won't even try to guess.





To close even the projected pension deficits, the PBGC reckons that the yearly contributions companies have to make would have to increase five-fold over the next five years -- up to $250 billion annually -- rather than the current meager $50 billion.





After an extensive review of the various causes for this disastrous deficit, Blahous looks at three options for reforming the PBGC. The first option would be to give it the requisite tools to eliminate the shortfall. These would include the powers to change the premiums necessary to insure permanent solvency of the plans, and to set the rules plans must follow (such as a consistent amortization schedule for all plans to close the deficit). They would also involve enhancing the legal power the PBGC has to compel companies to contribute to their pensions, and to desist from actions that hurt those pensions, as well as making the PBGC an independent regulatory agency.





The second option would be to simply eliminate the PBGC, and instead require all pension plans to carry private insurance at full market rates. This would automatically address the issue of underfunding; the insurance companies would have to enforce proper funding, or risk massive losses in the event of having to take over in the event of a pension plan failure.





The third option would be to require that until the federal government chooses either of the first two options, the federal government must treat the PBGC deficit as an official liability of the federal government, to be factored into federal budgets.





Regarding the second option, Blahous notes most of us suspect that as long as the PBGC is a government entity, legislators will always be tempted to tinker with it at the behest of some favored union or protected industry, which will make it hard to enforce full-funding of its liabilities. But there is a problem with the idea of allowing private insurers to take over: what to do with the existing "legacy debt"? Try to force private insurance companies to collect not just enough in premiums to cover future liabilities, but the past deficit as well? Or have the taxpayers assume that debt outright?





Without adopting either of the first two options, i.e., by keeping the status quo, the nation is drifting towards a massive bailout of a huge number of pension plans. This would be grotesquely unfair. The four-fifths of American workers who do not have defined benefit plans would be responsible to pay through their taxes the plush pensions of the one-fifth of workers who do have such plans.





Would that mean the federal government would then guarantee all defined contribution plans (such as 401ks) against any value lost in stock market declines? How would the federal government -- already facing trillions of dollars in unfunded Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid liabilities -- handle all that new debt?





Here is where the case for option #3 comes in. As long as we are as a nation liable for the future shortfalls of the PBGC, those liabilities should be honestly listed in our budgets. Perhaps seeing this will finally move the public towards one of the first two options -- preferably the second.





Of all the formidable challenges our country faces, the greatest one over the next decade will be dealing with the unfunded liabilities at both the state and federal levels. These liabilities are the cumulative consequence of 75 years of so-called progressive programs, and are exploding because of demographic changes, pushing the nation towards a fiscal cliff. The PBGC is a big part of this great challenge, and we all owe Blahous our gratitude for bringing us up to date.





Gary Jason is a contributing editor to Liberty and a philosophy instructor.

Obama Congratulates Himself

From The American Spectator:

5:13 AM (18 hours ago)Obama Congratulates Himselffrom The American Spectator and AmSpecBlog by Jeremy LottIn his speech on Libya Monday evening, President Barack Obama demonstrated why self-congratulation is an awful basis for foreign policy. The stated aim of the address was to tell the American people "what we've done [in Libya], what we plan to do, and why this matters to us." That might have been a genuinely interesting bit of oratory. It is not what we actually heard.




Perhaps the wrong speech got loaded onto his teleprompter, because the preachment Obama delivered fudged the past, gave us weasel words in place of real goals, and substituted a vigorous Nobel Peace Prize-winning pat on the back for any good reason to make this our fight. The evasions of fact and friction were so breathtaking that they need to be cataloged for posterity. What I offer here is only a first and flawed attempt:



1. What national interest? Obama said that when Americans' "interests and values are at stake, we have a responsibility to act." These are two very different things. If America got into it with other nations every time they offended our values, we would need a much bigger military. (Maybe we could borrow China's?)



By putting interests and values together, Obama tried to pull a switcheroo. He said that if he had "waited one more day" to act, a massacre might have occurred in the city of Benghazi, which might have "stained the conscience of the world." He explained, "It was not in our national interest to let that happen." More to the point, "I refused to let that happen."



2. What Constitution? The "one more day" line helped to set up Obama's justification for not seeking a congressional resolution for US actions in Libya. The administration has maintained, impossibly, that maintaining a no-fly zone is not an act of war, which only Congress has the power to declare.



Whatever you think of George W. Bush's wars in Afghanistan and Iraq -- I wholeheartedly approved of Afghanistan and was as indecisive as Hamlet about Iraq -- at least he went to Congress, twice, and got them to formally authorize hostilities. Obama assures us that he launched American war planes into Libya only "after consulting the bipartisan leadership of Congress," but why not at least hold a quick vote, or promise to hold one at the first possible opportunity?




3. What dithering? Obama last night painted himself as a decisive leader, but that is far from the truth. In fact, he dithered. He issued ultimata to Libyan strongman Moammar Gaddafi. He waffled on whether the U.S. would support a no-fly zone or help enforce one if the UN voted for it, and then he suddenly decided to go all-in. Obama indecision was the main reason a congressional vote wasn't called. There was one really good reason for this that he did his best to paper over in his speech.



4. What civil war? The thing that started the conflict, said Obama, was that "Libyans took to the streets to claim their basic human rights." They are, in his telling "innocent people," "men, women and children who sought their freedom from fear." For some Libyans, that is undoubtedly true, and Gaddafi is nobody's idea of a good guy, but the situation on the ground was much more complicated than the one Obama tried to spoonfeed us.



Libya is an unnatural political creation of three tribes in one nation, overseen by a strongman. What is happening now looks less like an uprising and more like a civil war. By enforcing a no-fly zone, the U.S. is taking sides in that civil war, though we're doing so in a manner ill-befitting a superpower.



5. What regime change? Obama's clear goal is regime change, but he doesn't want to call it that. Oh, don't misunderstand, he has "embraced the goal" of getting Gaddafi out of power and will "actively pursue it through non-military means." In the meantime, the US and NATO will continue the bomb the crap out of the ruler's forces and thus give support to the rebels. But, ahem, just who are these rebels?



6. What about al Qaeda? This is the point where it would be very helpful to have a clear idea of what is and is not in America's clearly defined national interest, rather than our vague ideals. How about this one: It is bad for U.S. interests to enter a conflict on the same side as al Qaeda.



Well, that's going to be a problem in Libya. Al Qaeda has for years schemed against the Libyan strongman. Its agents are on the ground working for his overthrow. Obama brought up al Qaeda twice in his speech but never once mentioned this troublesome fact.




Let's grant that it is possible that al Qaeda's influence is being overblown. But shouldn't our president have spent some time in his self-congratulatory address explaining to us mere mortals why his recent actions do not make it more likely that an al Qaeda-influenced government will rise to power?



The Libyan Psychodrama: It's All About Obama

From Human Events;

The Libyan PsychodramaIt’s all about Obama.


by John Hayward



03/28/2011







The long-awaited Obama address on Libya contained many of the expected points. We knew he would remind us about what a rotten guy Qaddafi is, and the world can always use another hard look at the sins of its monsters.



There was an attempt to explain how it was imperative to “stop Qaddafi’s advance” before his evil spilled beyond the borders of Libya. President Obama offered no theories for why it had not done so during the previous forty years. He also repeated the threadbare talking point that Qaddafi had “lost the confidence of his people,” without suggesting a point during the last four decades when it was his to lose.



The mystic chords of memory were plucked, with encomiums to America’s unique history as a child of revolution, and how “the world’s most powerful nation will always be called upon to help.” We do not hear these luminous hymms when politically inconvenient oppressed people call upon us to help. We have a sacred duty to “prevent genocide,” except for the one in Darfur, or Saddam Hussein’s obliteration of the Marsh Arabs.



The president made some entirely reasonable points about how the cold reality that we cannot act everywhere should not prevent us from acting anywhere. Foreign policy is made from such grim choices, a lesson the more mature President Obama of 2011 would have found challenging to explain to the childlike Candidate Obama of 2008.



The rest of the President’s address was an exercise in psychodrama, a weird journey through the mind of a narcissist who can’t believe all the nasty things people are saying about him.



Obama’s id is wrestling with the comparisons between his Libyan intervention and George Bush’s action in Iraq. He made a point of criticizing Iraq, which had a vastly larger international coalition behind it than Obama does now, united in the struggle to depose an even more gruesome and sadistic monster than Qaddafi. He warned us that we might be stuck in post-Qaddafi Libya for a while because “40 years of terror left Libya fractured.” The left never cut Bush any slack for trying to rebuild a country traumatized by decades of terror from Saddam Hussein.



The President’s ego is very sensitive to the criticism that his handling of the Libyan situation was lazy and disengaged. He’s constructed a new narrative in his own mind, where he “created the conditions for others to step up,” leading the Europeans to declare “a willingness to commit resources.” Thus does Obama retroactively become the hero of a military operation France, England, and Hillary Clinton dragged him into, and which he authorized with a few peevish phone calls from a South American junket.



Obama is clearly working through some deep issues about the Clintons. He took a few unexpected, oblique shots at Bill Clinton, noting that “the international community waited more than a year” before intervening in Bosnia, while Obama got ordinance dropped on Tripoli “in 31 days.” He also congratulated himself for refusing “to wait for images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.” You might want to put some ice on that, Mr. Clinton.



As he always does, the President sought refuge in the shadow of straw men, and worked to erase serious opponents of his policies from the debate. He declared his vindication over “those who doubted our ability to carry out this operation.” Did anyone seriously doubt we could take out the crappy little Libyan air force?



Obama portrayed his critics as offering a “false choice” between those who “question why we should intervene at all,” and others who “support broadening our involvement.” What about those of us who thought we should have intervened weeks ago, when Qaddafi was bottled up in Tripoli, after a proper debate in the United States Congress? It is possible to believe an intervention was necessary, or at least arguable, without supporting the way it was actually conducted.



Of course this President’s fragile self-image and political durability could not survive a failure in Libya, so he was careful to set the terms of success so he can escape responsibility for any outcome. A simple “Qaddafi must go” would set up a verifiable test for success next year. Instead, we’re going to work at getting him out of power through “non-military” means, but regime change is not our current military objective. It would be easy to write both the speech where Obama takes credit for killing or deposing the dictator, and the speech where he explains what a great success our no-fly zone has been even though Qaddafi is still there. In fact, you could probably do it by cutting and pasting lines from the address he gave tonight.



Obama concluded with a clumsy attempt to tie Operation Odyssey Dawn into his perpetual presidential campaign, waxing poetic about “deeply held principles” and how “young people are leading the way.” Well, young people in Palestine are firing rockets into civilian populations, and slashing Israeli families into bloody shreds while they sleep. Young people are indulging their bloodlust by helping to suppress demonstrations in Syria and Iran. It would be nice if all of their victims could find the same “friend in the United States” that Libyans have. We needed hard answers about that situation tonight. Instead, we got a journey through the tortured mind of a politician.









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John Hayward is a staff writer for HUMAN EVENTS, and author of the recently published Doctor Zero: Year One. Follow him on Twitter: Doc_0. Contact him by email at jhayward@eaglepub.com.



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President Obama Gives Last Week's Speech

From The Heritage Foundation:

President Obama Gives Last Week’s Speech


Posted March 28th, 2011 at 8:19pm in American Leadership with 9 comments Print This Post

Tonight, the president gave a long series of remarks that might have been appropriate last week when the administration kicked-off Operation Odyssey Dawn—explaining why US forces directly intervened in the Libyan civil war. Yet the questions asked at the outset of the intervention were still left largely unanswered. That airpower could turn back the advance of Gadaffi’s forces was never in doubt. The issue always was—what comes after that? Tonight, the President tried to answer the question—sort of. He stated finishing the job in Libya and rebuilding the country would be the responsibility of the “international community.” That’s an answer that gives cold comfort and merely reaffirms the belief that the administration undertook intervention without a clear plan on the way forward.



From the outset the best option was always “to minimize the commitment of the U.S. military, look after the best interests of Libya’s civilian population, and limit the spread of terrorism and instability throughout the region.” While the president promised tonight to pursue such a course—the real challenge now begins—and there are still far too few details of how the White House will deliver on these promises.

It is unlikely that Gaddafi can be quickly and easily rooted from his stronghold in Tripoli. It will be no small task to build a coalition that can (1) keep Gaddafi isolated until he is brought to justice; (2) maintain a military presence to keep Gaddafi’s forces from going back on the offensive; (3) identify support and sustain a legitimate opposition that brings democracy to Libya, fights the spread of terrorism, and looks after the humanitarian needs and the human rights of the peoples under its control. The president promised much in his remarks tonight—it will take real leadership rather than a single speech to deliver on these promises.



Voting With Their Feet

From Town Hall:


Thomas Sowell

Voting with Their Feet

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Sign-Up The latest published data from the 2010 census show how people are moving from place to place within the United States. In general, people are voting with their feet against places where the liberal, welfare-state policies favored by the intelligentsia are most deeply entrenched.



When you break it down by race and ethnicity, it is all too painfully clear what is happening. Both whites and blacks are leaving California, the poster state for the liberal, welfare-state and nanny-state philosophy.



Whites are also fleeing the big northeastern liberal, welfare states like Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, as well as the same kinds of states in the midwest, such as Michigan, Ohio and Illinois.



Although California has long been a prime destination of Asian immigrants and the homes of their descendants, the 2010 census shows a striking increase in the Asian American population of Nevada, more so than any other state. Nevada is adjacent to California but has no income tax nor the hostile climate for business that California maintains.



The movement of the black population-- especially educated young blacks-- is the most striking of all.



In the past, the massive movements of millions of blacks out of the South in the early 20th century was one of the epic migrations of a people-- comparable in size with the millions of the Irish who fled the famine in Ireland in the 1840s or the millions of Jews who fled persecution in Eastern Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.



In more recent decades, blacks have been moving back to the South, however. While the overall black population of the northeastern and midwestern states has not declined in the past ten years, except in Michigan and Illinois, the net increase of the black population nationwide has increasingly been in the South. About half of the national growth of the black population took place in the South in the 1970s, two-thirds in the 1990s and three-quarters in the past 10 years.



While the mass migrations of blacks out of the South in the early 20th century was to places where there were already established black communities, such as New York, Chicago and Philadelphia, much of the current movement of blacks is away from existing concentrations of black populations.



Blacks are moving to suburbs, and even to cities like Minneapolis. Overall, the racial residential segregation patterns are declining in the great majority of the largest major metropolitan areas.



Among blacks who moved, the proportions who were in their prime -- from 20 to 40 years of age-- were greater than in the black population at large, and college degrees were more common among them than in the black population at large. In short, with blacks, as with other racial or ethnic groups, those with better prospects are leaving the states that are repelling their most productive citizens in general with liberal policies.



Detroit is perhaps the most striking example of a once thriving city ruined by years of liberal social policies. Before the ghetto riot of 1967, Detroit's black population had the highest rate of home-ownership of any black urban population in the country, and their unemployment rate was just 3.4 percent.



It was not despair that fueled the riot. It was the riot which marked the beginning of the decline of Detroit to its current state of despair. Detroit's population today is only half of what it once was, and its most productive people have been the ones who fled.



Treating businesses and affluent people as prey, rather than assets, often pays off politically in the short run-- and elections are held in the short run. Killing the goose that lays the golden egg is a viable political strategy.



As whites were the first to start leaving Detroit, its then mayor Coleman Young saw this only as an exodus of people who were likely to vote against him, enhancing his re-election prospects.



But what was good for Mayor Young was disastrous for Detroit.



There is a lesson here somewhere, but it is very doubtful if either the intelligentsia or the politicians will learn it.





















Tags: Budget and Government , Elections , Census

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust

What Would Democrats Cut?

From The Heritage Foundation:

What Would Democrats Cut?




As a third temporary spending bill expires next week, the attention of Capitol Hill will once again be focused on producing a permanent spending bill to keep the federal government open and operating. The threat of a government shutdown would not exist had the Democratically controlled 111th Congress passed a budget for this fiscal year. In fact, not only did they fail to pass a budget, but for the for the first time in the history of the budget-making process, last year’s Congress failed to even vote on a budget. And now, even as the consequences of their failure are just days a way, the Democrats have still failed to agree on a plan that cuts spending.



Thirty-eight days ago, on February 19, the House of Representatives passed a budget that would keep the federal government open for the rest of this fiscal year. Responding to the overwhelming mandate from the American people delivered last November to cut federal spending, that House budget cut $61 billion in spending from 2010 levels. The Democrats then produced a plan that they said “cut spending,” but even The Washington Post Fact Checker found no real cuts.



And they will not even go on record identifying which cuts in the House’s bill they are willing to accept. The Post explains why: “Such a move would force Democrats to go on record defending programs that Republicans had identified as wasteful.”



It is understandable why the Senate is so afraid to offer its own spending plan. When the President offered his own budget for next year, he claimed that it would produce only a $7.2 trillion deficit over the next 10 years. At the time, we predicted that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) would produce vastly different numbers, since the President’s proposal included audaciously hopeful economic forecasts and fake spending cuts. Sure enough, on March 18 the CBO scored the President’s budget as causing $9.5 trillion in deficits over the next 10 years. That is more debt than the federal government accumulated from 1789 to 2010 combined. Heritage analyst Brian Riedl surveys the damage:



These large deficits will persist because the President’s steep tax hikes cannot keep up with his runaway spending. Relative to the historical averages (which were also pre-recession levels), President Obama would raise taxes by 1.3 percent of GDP yet increase spending by 4 percent of GDP. The main drivers of runaway spending—surging Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid costs—would not be reformed at all. Accordingly, the annual cost of interest on the national debt would quadruple.

...

Under President Obama’s budget proposal, taxpayers would see large tax increases, bigger government, and slower economic growth. The President who declared that “I didn’t come here to pass our problems on to the next President or the next generation—I’m here to solve them” would, over the next decade, drop an additional $80,000 per household in debt onto the laps of our children and grandchildren.



The White House spent all of 2010 deflecting criticism about its deficit spending by pointing to the President’s debt commission. Then when the commission finally produced a report that included actual spending cuts, the White House couldn’t run from it fast enough. Congressional Democrats have no plan to cut government this year, next year, or any year. Conservatives should hold firm to their $61 billion in cuts and force Democrats to produce their own spending cut plan

Wisconsin GOP Investigates Illegal Political Activity, Makes The Left Angry

From Red State:

Wisconsin GOP Investigates Illegal Political Activity, Makes the Left Angry




Laws are for the little people and nutty right wingers

Posted by streiff (Profile)



Sunday, March 27th at 8:36PM EDT



8 Comments

If there is a key difference between conservatives and liberals it is their view on the rule of law. Speaking in broad termsliberals believe that a person is not accountable for their actions if their cause is just or if they have the “right” background or the “right” politics. So not a peep is heard about the clown car that is the Ninth Circus but the left goes crazy about the benign appearances of Justices Scalia and Alito. Cass Sustein and Goodwin Liu can hold legal opionions that not only put them outside the mainstream of American jurisprudence but also on the fringe of American society and no one says boo. John Yoo, on the other hand, was excoriated for writing an opinion attempting to define “torture.” Union thugs, the New Black Panther Party, and anti-globalization crazies should not be prosecuted. Tea parties, on the other hand, are dog whistle calls for anti-government violence and should be suppressed.



Probably no where is this attitude more on display than in academia. Case in point is the case of University of Wisconsin professor William Cronon, recently elected president of the American Historical Association and Democrat party hack.

Cronon blogs at Scholar and Citizen, a rather pompous exercise in self-promotion, and decided to interject himself into the ongoing budget debate — guess on which side — with this post: Who’s Really Behind Recent Republican Legislation in Wisconsin and Elsewhere? (Hint: It Didn’t Start Here) in which he offers helpful hints like: Basic Tools for Researching Conservative Groups and undergoes a rapid descent into lunacy in which he identifies the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as the driving force behind American conservatism. As an aside, other than a belief that the rules don’t apply to them the left also holds dear the belief that any force that opposes them is the function of a conspiracy. Hence the frothing over the Koch family.



Unfortunately for Professor Cronon he works in Wisconsin, a state with a fairly “progressive” open records law.The Wisconsin GOP issued a records request:



From: Stephan Thompson

Sent: Thursday, March 17, 2011 2:37 PM

To: Dowling, John

Subject: Open Records Request

Dear Mr. Dowling,



Under Wisconsin open records law, we are requesting copies of the following items:



Copies of all emails into and out of Prof. William Cronon’s state email account from January 1, 2011 to present which reference any of the following terms: Republican, Scott Walker, recall, collective bargaining, AFSCME, WEAC, rally, union, Alberta Darling, Randy Hopper, Dan Kapanke, Rob Cowles, Scott Fitzgerald, Sheila Harsdorf, Luther Olsen, Glenn Grothman, Mary Lazich, Jeff Fitzgerald, Marty Beil, or Mary Bell.



We are making this request under Chapter 19.32 of the Wisconsin state statutes, through the Open Records law. Specifically, we would like to cite the following section of Wis. Stat. 19.32 (2) that defines a public record as “anything recorded or preserved that has been created or is being kept by the agency. This includes tapes, films, charts, photographs, computer printouts, etc.”



Thank you for your prompt attention, and please make us aware of any costs in advance of preparation of this request.



Sincerely,



Stephan Thompson



Republican Party of Wisconsin



Now this is pretty cut an dried. Cronon is a state employee and the email he has sent via his university-provided email account is covered by the law.



Now Cronon, naturally, is crying and not only is he crying, he is crying foul. His argument, here, is essentially that it doesn’t matter whether he broke the law, his cause was just (exposing the ravening right wing conspiracy represented by ALEC) and the Republicans are just being big poopyheads by using the law to force disclosure of his emails. It makes no difference that he has falsely claimed that the GOP is part of some conspiracy on the scale of the Bilderbergers, all that is important is his personal ability to libel and avoid consequences.



Now this would be a stupid argument under the best of circumstances (e.g., sorry, officer, you can’t give me a speeding ticket even though I was speeding because you are not out here trying to enforce the laws you are out here writing tickets so you can get a promotion) but what makes it worse is that the University of Wisconsin system warns employees about the engaging in activities that are partisan:



There are other “political” activities that might not fall within the scope of political campaign activities as discussed in this guidance. For example, advocating for governmental action or legislative change, at a local, state or federal level, may be political although not related to a political campaign. While this guidance does not cover those activities in detail, because of restrictions on state lobbying and personal use of state resources, individual employees should not use state work time or state resources to engage in political activities unless expressly designated with this responsibility on behalf of the institution.



Far from being a hero, at best Cronon is a charlatan for flogging a ridiculous story to his credulous readers, a story so bizarre that it calls into question his fitness for academic life. At worst he has used state resources to retail this theory — and heaven knows what else — and is mewling about his academic freedom being “chilled” because of a record request

Monday, March 28, 2011

GOP Foolishly Ignores Recall Battle In Wisconsin

From Town Hall:


Salena Zito

GOP Foolishly Ignores Recall Battle in Wisconsin

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Sign-Up For weeks the national media focused on union protests in Wisconsin.



Aging hippies trashed the state capital, union members were bused in from across the country in color-coded T-shirts, and Democratic state senators hid in an Illinois motel.



Each little drama was an organized response to Republican Governor Scott Walker’s budget-repair bill that negated labor’s influence with state employees.



You could not turn to any cable or network newscast without seeing Walker, or see other states’ Republican governors and legislators copying him.



Then, through a legislative maneuver, Walker outfoxed the Democrats and passed his budget bill.



The TV crews’ klieg lights went out. The political circus packed up. Our attention turned to Japan and Libya.



Perhaps we all looked away too quickly.



The story that no one talks about, that has the biggest impact on the 2012 election, is slowly brewing – with Republicans barely paying attention.



The two sides in Wisconsin did not drop their weapons. They just settled into high-stakes trench warfare.



Wisconsin has what can only be described as a screwy recall law; get enough signatures on a petition, and you can trigger new elections.



Democrats hope to use this law to undo the statehouse majority.



Recall elections possibly can begin as early as June for 16 Wisconsin senators who are being targeted – eight Republicans for their votes in favor of the law that ends most collective bargaining powers for public-employee unions, and eight Democrats for running and hiding in Illinois in what turned out to be a failed attempt to stop the GOP from voting on the measure.



When Republicans won big in 2010, Wisconsin was the best example of that midterm wave and the most significant warning to President Obama’s re-election campaign: Three-term U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisc., went down, and the GOP took the governor’s mansion, two more congressional seats, and state legislative majorities.



All in a state that Al Gore, John Kerry and Barack Obama won as the Democrats’ presidential candidates.



While Wisconsin’s story fell off the front page, the left – fueled by unions, the Democratic Governors Association, and MoveOn.org – have begun a multimillion-dollar TV campaign to support the audacious recall effort.



The only Republican strategy- and money-machine that really seems to understand the potential effect is the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC), headed by former national GOP chairman Ed Gillespie. The RSLC is so worried that it is making an unusual mid-cycle investment of money that it could have used in 2012.



Unions and the left are far outspending pro-business interests and the right on recall ads.



Democrats are wise to see more is at stake than a single state’s senate majority and a new political map that could unseat two freshmen Republican congressmen. They know this is the first battle of 2012 – their version of 2010’s surprise election of Scott Brown, R-Mass., who won a blue-state U.S. Senate seat formerly held by Democrat Ted Kennedy.



Republicans won in Massachusetts because conservatives around the country poured money into Brown's campaign; he raised a million bucks a day and couldn't spend it all.



His opponent, Democrat Margaret Coakley, was strapped and forced to beg money from Washington lobbyists in the last 10 days of the race, which Brown quickly used in a commercial against her.



Massachusetts Democrats got ambushed. Will Republicans let that happen to them in Wisconsin?



Make no mistake, this will have a chilling effect on every other state dealing with public-employee collective bargaining or pensions in the next two years – which is just about all of them.



If Walker and other governors cannot tame public pensions and union contracts, you will see tax hikes across the country enacted under freshmen GOP governors in the next few years. It is simple math.



If Republicans don't engage with real cash in Wisconsin, they could lose the state senate in advance of redistricting this summer, embolden unions, and scare hell out of Republicans in statehouses everywhere.



Walker may have won on policy – yet Republicans could face massive losses nationally if they don’t win those state recalls.



Just because the Democrats came back from Illinois doesn’t mean the left surrendered.



Salena Zito

Salena Zito is a political analyst, reporter and columnist.



Who Is Barack Obama? A Terrifying Analysis

From Israel Commentary and Vision to America:

« A Beautiful Gesture From A True Friend, Glenn BeckMuslims Take Over a Europe Afraid to Open Its Eyes »Who is Barack Obama? – A Terrifying Analysis


(corrected copy for Israel Commentary and those that were confused by the format of the last message)



Redacted from a speech by Dinesh D’Souza, President King’s College, NYC, NY



By Jerome S. Kaufman



On March 15, 2011, the Heritage Foundation sponsored a telecast featuring Dinesh D’Souza, President of King’s College New York and author of the best selling book, Roots of Obama’s Rage. After introducing himself, D’Souza got right into an in-depth analysis of current US President Barack Obama. Obama is the product of an unusual family history, far different from most Americans or people anywhere, for that matter. To say Obama is the product of his parentage and previous environment is a gross understatement.



D’Souza first described his own difficulty understanding Obama. Who did Obama represent, what were his ambitions, his goals, his mind set, etc.? D’Souza concluded that Obama was a different leader from previous Democrats – especially different from so-called liberals like Jimmy Carter, Michael Dukakis, Bill Clinton.



There are a host of theories trying to explain Obama. By the Right he has many different designations – a Progressive, a conventional Liberal, a Socialist, a Muslim, not born an American, an alien. But, all of these javelins bounce off Obama with no effect or just glancing blows. He continues to act in apparently mysterious ways – not easily explained. If he were truly a Socialist he would have tried to command the means of production. But, Obama did not nationalize banks but rather infused capital to them. Another inconsistency: Recently banks wanted to pay back their government loan and get off the hook with the Obama administration. But, Obama did not want to take their money. Rather he insisted that the bank undergo some sort of stress test before allowing them off the hook? Why?



There are claims that he is an environmentalist and simply acting out that role – banning vital oil drilling in America, limiting the production of coal, introducing and pouring billions into hair brain solutions like wind mills and sun energy which are far more expensive and will not supply anywhere near the energy required besides, requiring years to develop properly.



Others say he has been motivated by Al Gore’s global warming theory. Gore asks for the use of less energy and a smaller carbon footprint to solve this debatable problem. However, Gore wants everyone in the world to cut back, not just the US. Obama does not care who conforms or not. Faster growing economies like China and India, far more responsible for future theoretical global warming, are ignored. Obama’s thinking is thus, not that of a true environmentalist.



In addition, Obama is blocking oil drilling all over America and its coastline while, at the same time, encouraging oil drilling in Mexico. To add salt to our wounds, The US Export Import bank has given a two billion dollar loan guarantee to Brazil to do their own off shore drilling. But, the oil is not to go to us but to the Chinese!



Then, there is his inconsistent and apparently illogical approach to all our problems in the Middle East – one minute he is siding with the dictators of Egypt, Libya, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the next minute, making obligatory gestures of compassion to their long suffering populations. (Not to mention his dissing and enthusiastic participation in the dismantling of our only reliable ally in the Middle East, Israel jsk)



Other inane gestures: He somehow made the Muslims party to our space program praising them for their great contributions to its development – huh? He returned a bust of Winston Churchill given to us by the Brits that had been gratefully placed by us in the White House because of Churchill’s crucial contribution to the defeat of Adolph Hitler in WWII.



D’Souza ended up concluding it was difficult accounting for all of Obama’s apparent weirdness until D’Souza came to his own epiphany that Obama is not weird, foolish, inexperienced naive or any of the above. He knows exactly what he is doing and we had better stop misinterpreting and underestimating the man.



D’Sousa presented his conclusion combining these disparate facts in one impossible to refute hypothesis which negates all the previous theories we might have had. Obama is not Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton or just another American Black shake down artist. Obama has not really been raised American. His early years were in Kenya and then Indonesia. He was first thrust into American culture by his mother when he was already 10-12 years old.



Then, D’Sousa read Obama’s book, Dreams from my Father. D’Sousa discovered that indeed, Obama has nothing to do with Black America. He never sat at a segregated lunch counter nor was he descended from slaves. His Dad was an educated immigrant from Kenya and his Mom was white from Kansas. His is not an American dream. He has no understanding or sympathy for American exceptionalism. In fact, he resents the concept.



So, what is Obama’s dream? He tells us very explicitly that his dream is his father’s dream. Obama Sr. was raised in Kenya. In his 20‘s, he married a Black woman in Kezia, had two children by her, and while she was pregnant with the second, he left his family and went to Hawaii as a student. He there met Obama’s Mom – Stanley Ann, married her and before Obama Jr. was age two also left her. He then went to Harvard where he took up with a third woman, took her back to Africa and had two children by her. At the same time he reunited with his first wife, from Kezia, and had two more children with her. In total he had four wives, usually two at the same time, and 8 children and with no sense of obligation and nor did he supply care for any of them.



Obama Sr. was a chronic alcoholic who had multiple driving accidents. He kills a man in one, in another hurts himself so badly his two legs have to be cut off and replaced with iron rods. Nevertheless, his courtship style remains intact. He takes up with another woman who bears his eighth child, George Obama.



In summary – he was quite an unusual role model for President Obama! Later, Obama Jr’s sister took him to task and demanded how could he admire this despicable man who had abandoned all his wives and children, never gave them a dime or even paid them a visit. Obama Jr., in fact, barely knew him since his Dad had visited him only once, when he was about 10 years old. Consequently, Sr. had no direct influence upon Jr.



That influence was wielded by Obama Sr.’s first convert – Jr’s mother, Stanley Ann Obama. Obama’s mother was an only child. She grew up in Kansas and somehow became a bohemian rebel against her parents and her country. Despite her marriage and rapid abandonment by Obama’s father, she refused to learn from her experience. She finds and marries another third world, anti-American guy, Lolo Satora, He was Indonesian and grew up under the colonial Dutch. Satora wooed Stanley Ann Obama with stories of Indonesian colonialism, married her and took her and her son, Jr. to live in Indonesia.



By a quirk of fate and bad luck for the American people, the Indonesian husband becomes more pro Western, pro American, and anti Communist. He signs up with an oil company and fights against Indonesian rebels in his own countryside. Ann then attacks him as a traitor to the greater cause and quickly sends Jr. back to Kansas to be raised by her parents and escape the pro-American thinking of the Indonesian husband. She remains in Indonesia the rest of her life.



Obama’s father, Obama Sr.. was basically an anti-Colonialist – the dominant idea in the third world of the 20th Century. The simple core of this idea was that the world is divided into two – the colonizers or oppressors and the colonized or victims. The colonizers used to be Europe, Britain, France and now it is America in this line of thought. Furthermore, the rich got rich only by looting the colonized and even when they left, powerful economic forces remained in a position of exploitation. Banks, insurance and pharmaceutical companies, oil companies and anyone else that happens to make money are simply now the economic wing of colonialism still into exploitation. And, who to Barack Obama, Jr. is the lead elephant and current exploiter? Why we are, of course.



How is Obama to deal with us, the problem? First, bring us under the rod of the Federal government. Obama’s father in 1965 wrote an article in an East African journal saying how this should be done. Bring down all the rich guys by the power of the state, confiscate their land, property, raise taxes as high as you want – 100% if necessary, and obtain their wealth through fiat and legislative piracy. The rationale is that the wealth is not rightfully theirs, in the first place, but had been ripped off from the poor .



That is Dinesh D’Souza’s basic hypothesis. So, Obama far from being a multi-culture guy, far from being the first African American president, is actually the first anti-American, anti-colonialism president and driven by that mind-set!



Obama, like the naive would like to believe, is no buffoon, not inexperienced, not unworldly, not apolitical and not a mediocrity. He is a very clever but misdirected guy and out to do us all in. He is the most effective Democratic President since Lyndon Johnson. He has gotten more programs passed in the shortest time, by Democrat or Republican, since Reagan.



If he is to be voted out of office in 2012, Republicans will have to take the full measure of the man. They need a strong guy, perhaps a father figure, a person that appeals to the American public. It will be a very difficult election made more so by mindless, irresponsible media genuflections and the Obama useful idiots that may never see the awful danger that this man represents.



This entry was posted by Jerome S. Kaufman on March 23, 2011.

Wisconsin Governor Walker's Legislation Has Unions Caving Already

From Town Hall:


Kyle Olson

Gov. Walker's Legislation Has Unions Caving Already

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Sign-Up Apparently Gov. Scott Walker knew exactly what he was doing.



Before he signed the bill limiting collective bargaining privileges, teachers unions throughout the state were slow to respond to calls for salary and benefit concessions.



They believed their members should be held harmless during a period of necessary cost-cutting. They didn't seem to care that Wisconsin schools were operating with multi-million dollar deficits that were forcing the layoffs of younger teachers and the cancellation of student programs.



Their only answer was to raise taxes at a time when few people could afford it. They didn’t want to sacrifice anything, despite the fact that schools spend about 80 percent of their budgets on labor costs.



But now, with Walker's legislation set to become law once it clears legal hurdles, the unions are suddenly coming to their senses. They are jumping at the chance to extend their collective bargaining agreements, in exchange for meaningful concessions that will help schools survive the financial crisis.



In Madison, the teachers union has suddenly agreed to a wage freeze and increases in health insurance and pension contributions. The concessions will save the district an estimated $15 million next year, which would almost make up for the expected cuts in state aid.



In Oshkosh, the union has agreed to a wage freeze, increased contributions toward benefits and a change in the employee insurance carrier, which will save the district more than $5 million per year.



In the Slinger district, the union has agreed to commit 5.8 percent of teacher pay to pension costs and increase contributions toward health care costs. The concessions will save the district about $1.3 million per year. What are the unions gaining by accepting concessions at the last possible minute? Plenty.



They are salvaging things like automatic annual salary increases for teachers, a generous number of paid sick and personal days off, reimbursement for unused sick days, salary and benefits for union officials who do not teach, retirement bonuses, overage pay for teachers with a few extra students, and many other items.



Those contractual perks would have gone by the wayside if local collective bargaining agreements had been allowed to expire. Under the new law, the unions will not have the power to negotiate for many of the items listed in current contracts.



So the unions will save some time-honored perks and schools will save a lot of money. This type of compromise would not have occurred without pressure from Gov. Walker and his supporters in the legislature.



Perhaps the governor knew exactly what he was doing by creating a crisis and forcing the unions to face financial reality. Nothing else seemed to be working and schools were drowning in deficits.



Ironically, the loss of collective bargaining privileges would not have been necessary if the unions would have come to their senses months ago and started offering meaningful concessions. They lost most of their privileges by remaining stubborn for too long.



Kyle Olson

Kyle is founder and CEO of Education Action Group Foundation, a non-partisan non-profit organization with the goal of promoting sensible education reform.

Big Government Republicans

From Campaign For Liberty:

Big-Government Republicans


By Jack Hunter

View all 47 articles by Jack Hunter

Published 03/25/11



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Most Republicans remain as committed to big government as the Democrats



As the Tea Party continues to set its sights on astronomical and unsustainable government growth, Republicans have been eager to sing the movement's tune. Promising to cut spending and balance budgets, the GOP's newfound right-wing fiscal rhetoric has been characterized by mainstream pundits as a once "respectable" Republican Party kowtowing to conservative "extremists" for whom the debt crisis continues to represent the one and only crisis.



But mainstream defenders of America's economic status quo can rest easy. Washington's political establishment has nothing to fear from the Republican Party. Though good at talking the conservative talk, when it comes to actually walking the walk, the GOP remains as handicapped as ever.



Just ask the man The Daily Show's Jon Stewart recently described as the "walkiest" of Tea Party Republicans, Sen. Rand Paul. Paul rejected the budget proposals of both parties last week, pointing out that the Democratic plan features a $1.6 trillion deficit while the Republican plan includes a $1.5. trillion deficit.



While Democrats, predictably and laughably, could only come up with $4 billion in budget cuts, Republicans, whose Pledge to America during the midterm election promised to slash spending by $100 billion, could only come up with $57 billion in cuts. To put this in perspective, recently deposed Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak received more than $60 billion from the United States during his reign. To further put this in perspective, when Sen. Paul proposed we cut foreign aid last month, critics, including most Republicans, dismissed his proposal and pointed out that what America spends on foreign aid is too small to substantively address our debt.



Now many of these same Republicans expect grassroots conservatives to be satisfied with a paltry $57 billion in cuts. Paul isn't completely alone. Joined by Mike Lee of Utah and Jim DeMint of South Carolina, Paul was one of only three Republican senators to reject the GOP's budget plan as being so weak it means virtually nothing. Not surprisingly, Paul, Lee and DeMint make up the Tea Party Caucus in the Senate, a group Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who rode the Tea Party wave into office, says he will not join, fearing that the movement could be co-opted by the Washington establishment. Not surprisingly, Rubio voted for the Republicans' weak budget plan last week.



In Rubio's defense, this is what Republicans typically do. For decades Republican politicians have used conservative rhetoric to win elections but come to Washington, D.C., to spend as much as the Democrats. Critics on both the Left and Right who say the Tea Party represents a radical departure from plain, old vanilla "conservatism" are correct; so-called conservative Republicans haven't accomplished anything conservative for decades. For the Tea Party to mean business, it must deviate dramatically from the Republican status quo, and given the weight of our debt and the radical growth of government, any Tea Party-worthy proposals must be comparably radical in the opposite direction. How radical? Paul has proposed $500 billion in cuts, which, as he explained on the Senate floor this week, still isn't drastic enough:



"I recently proposed $500 billion in cuts, and when I went home and spoke to the people of my state, spoke to those from the Tea Party, they said, $500 billion is not enough and they're right ... $500 billion is a third of one year's problem. Up here that's way too bold, but it's not even enough ... So I implore the American public and those here to look at this problem and say to Congress, we're not doing enough. You must cut more."



Despite their rhetoric, the vast majority of Republicans are wholly unwilling to do anything to substantively address our big government woes, including some who've carried the Tea Party banner. The chasm between voters' desires and the establishment's will remains as wide as ever, reflecting the same disconnect that has long frustrated Americans from across the ideological spectrum.



Any real conservative movement would be up in arms that more Republicans didn't join Paul, Lee, and DeMint in rejecting the GOP's joke of a budget. But American "conservatism" has confused partisanship for principle for so long that talk radio finds more value in complaining about the First Lady's travel schedule or worrying about the Muslim Brotherhood than discussing the fiscal terrorists in this country and in both parties who continue to hold America's children and grandchildren hostage.



The Senate Republicans who voted for the GOP budget proposal proved once again that they are not the revolutionaries they pretend to be. They are liars. And the Tea Party must not forget it.







Reprinted with permission from the Charleston City Paper







Obama Regime's Anti-Drilling Agenda Costs Jobs Across America

From The Heritage Foundation:

Obama's Anti-Drilling Agenda Costs Jobs Across America




President Obama’s hometown of Chicago is nearly 1,000 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. But like many other communities across the country, it is suffering the consequences of his Administration’s anti-drilling agenda.



Illinois accounted for $376.2 million in shallow-water drilling expenditures over the past three years, according to an analysis by 14 oil and gas companies that spend money on vendors and subcontractors. The bulk of that money—$242.2 million—was spent in the Chicago district represented by Representative Danny Davis (D–IL).



It’s fresh evidence that Obama’s anti-drilling agenda is having a ripple effect across America since last year’s oil spill, claiming jobs not just in Louisiana and Texas but also in communities far removed from the shipyards in the Gulf of Mexico.



The study from the Shallow Water Energy Security Coalition paints a picture of the nationwide economic ramifications. Obama can’t even be blamed for playing politics. Five of the states that benefit most from shallow-water drilling backed him as a candidate in 2008. And Democrats represent many of the congressional districts that stand to lose millions.



The cost in jobs is startling. A new analysis by Louisiana State University professor Joseph Mason projects national job losses at 19,000 from the drilling moratorium, with wage losses at $1.1 billion. About one-third of those jobs are located outside the Gulf region.



Nearly a year after imposing his anti-drilling agenda, it’s quite clear that Obama is carrying out misguided policies causing widespread harm.



And job losses aren’t the only consequence. The Obama Administration’s deliberate delay in issuing permits for both deepwater and shallow-water drilling has led to a sharp decline in oil production for the Gulf of Mexico this year. The U.S. Energy Information Administration puts the figure at 240,000 fewer barrels every day.



With gas prices hovering around $3.56 per gallon nationwide, now is not the time to lower production. The only way to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil is to produce more of it here at home.



The recent approval of new drilling permits for the Gulf of Mexico is a welcome and long overdue move by the Administration, but it’s nothing to celebrate. The pace of permitting is far below the historical average, and there’s no indication that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) has any desire to return production to a pre-spill level.



Until that happens, expect more grim news like the unfortunate circumstances facing Seahawk Drilling, which was forced to declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a direct result of the bureaucratic delays at BOEMRE. Seahawk’s president and chief executive Randy Stilley, writing in The Washington Post, painted a dire picture:



The government’s drastic slowdown in the issuance of permits for shallow-water drilling operations—in which companies work in familiar geological formations, typically in less than 500 feet of water, mostly seeking to produce natural gas—has all but crippled the industry. The survivors (for now) like Hercules are staying afloat largely thanks to revenue from operations outside U.S. waters. Put another way, a once-proud industry born in the gulf during the Truman administration can no longer survive on operations in its own back yard.



Unless things change soon, Seahawk Drilling won’t be alone. Businesses located in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, California, and New York—top recipients of shallow-water drilling spending—will all face economic consequences as well.



It’s time for lawmakers to take notice. Representative John Sullivan (R–OK), who represents a district with $87.2 million in shallow-water expenditures over the past three years, recognizes the impact. He told us: “Continuing to keep American sources of energy under lock and key by failing to issue drilling permits only serves to place American jobs at risk, drives up costs at the pump and deepens our dependence on foreign oil.”



Things don’t have to be this way. The House of Representatives must continue to conduct rigorous oversight of the Obama Administration, challenging the Administration’s excuses and applying pressure when necessary. America’s energy future depends on it.



The Weiner Waiver Wormhole

From Town Hall:


Michelle Malkin

The Weiner Waiver Wormhole

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Sign-Up New York Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner toasted the one-year anniversary of Obamacare this week -- and accidentally spilled his champagne glass all over the disastrous, one-size-fits-all mandate. Ostensibly one of the federal health care law's staunchest defenders, Weiner exposed its ultimate folly by pushing for a special cost-saving regulatory exemption for New York City.



If it's good for the city Weiner wants to be mayor of, why not for each and every individual American and American business that wants to be free of Obamacare's shackles?



Weiner joins a bevy of the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's" loudest cheerleaders -- unions, foundations and left-leaning corporations -- in clamoring for more waivers for favors. (The list of federal waiver recipients now tops 1,000, covering more than 2.6 million workers.) And he follows a gaggle of health care takeover-promoting Democrats maneuvering on Capitol Hill for get-out-of-Obamacare loopholes.



At a speech before the George Soros-supported Center for American Progress, as reported by Politico.com, Weiner revealed that he's "in the process now of trying to see if we can take (President Barack Obama) up on" a favor waiver and is "taking a look at all of the money we spend in Medicaid and Medicare and maybe New York City can come up with a better plan." Echoing all the Republican critics of Obamacare who objected to top-down rules that override local variations in health care expenditures, Weiner explained: "I'm just looking internally to whether the city can save money and have more control over its own destiny."



More local control over taxpayers' destiny, eh? Give that man a "Hands Off My Health Care" sign, a Gadsden flag and a tea party membership card ASAP!



I kid, of course. The ultimate agenda of many waiver-seekers is to create a wormhole path to even more radical restructuring of the health system. Weiner has brazenly called for a single-payer "public option" to replace Obamacare should it be repealed. Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon has also crusaded for more Kabuki "flexibility" in the law through a bipartisan state waiver proposal.



But as The Heritage Foundation noted, the plan "simply changes a date on an existing 'state innovation' provision of Obamacare from 2017 to 2014 -- still well after the federal Obamacare infrastructure has been cemented in place." And it is essentially "a back-door vehicle for progressive states to enact the 'public option' and speed up the establishment of a single-payer system for health care." White House health care advisers Nancy-Ann DeParle and Stephanie Cutter further reinforced in a conference call to liberal advocates that the bill would help states implement single-payer health care plans, such as those tested in Connecticut and Vermont.



Weiner argues that the waiver process dispels "this notion that the government is shoving the bill down people's throats." But only the politically connected, deep-pocketed, lawyered-up and Beltway-savvy can apply. And the White House refuses to shed more light on its decision-making process. Obama's selective favor waivers simply underscore the notion that unaccountable regulatory bureaucrats are presiding over government by the cronies, for the cronies and of the cronies.



Real control over our destinies means flexibility and choice for all. Repeal is the ultimate democratic waiver.



Michelle Malkin is the author of "Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks & Cronies" (Regnery 2010). Her e-mail address is malkinblog@gmail.com.



COPYRIGHT 2011 CREATORS.COM





Michelle Malkin

Michelle Malkin is the author of "Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks & Cronies" (Regnery 2010).

I Don't Care, You Don't Care, No One Cares For ObamaCare

From The Heritage Foundation:

I Don’t Care, You Don’t Care, No One Cares for Obamacare








One year ago, when President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, he proclaimed it would lower costs, reduce the deficit, and lift the drag on our economy.



Since then, insurance premiums have not dropped; coverage has not increased; over half of the states have filed suit against the Department of Health and Human Services;

The Scoop



Doctors Give Practice of Medicine under Obamacare Grim Prognosis



Obamacare's Failed First Year



New Research: A Better Way Forward with Health Reform



New Podcast: Why Obamacare Is So Bad for America



What the Law Means for Seniors





and two courts have declared the legislation unconstitutional. Shouldn’t a year be long enough for Obamacare to secure a place in our hearts and minds?



Not when the bill is an unpopular, unconstitutional legislative behemoth designed to alter Americans’ relationship with the federal government.



Advocates of Obamacare were utterly disconnected from Americans’ concerns about the bill—most especially their concern that it violated the Constitution. Nancy Pelosi was surprised when a reporter asked what part of the Constitution justified a mandate on American citizens to purchase a consumer good or service: was this man serious? Her press spokesman later clarified, lest there be any confusion, that constitutional questions were not serious questions.



But that was not a satisfactory answer for Americans. They pressed Members to articulate the limits of Congress’s power. If it is permissible for Congress to require Americans to purchase health insurance, could it also require the purchase of grapefruits, cars, or homes? Congressman Pete Stark explained that there are no limits on Congress: “I think that there are very few limits that prevent the federal government from rules that would affect your private life… the federal government can do most anything in this country.”



As Robert Moffit explains in “Why the Health Care Law Has Sparked a National Debate Over First Principles,” Obamacare, at its core, alters the relationship between the individual and the federal government: it undermines liberty and promotes dependency. Indeed, much of Americans’ discontent with Obamacare focused “on the federal imposition of an unprecedented individual mandate to purchase a federally approved health insurance policy, but the law was pregnant with bureaucratic control over one-sixth of the economy, including the minute details of health care financing and delivery.”



In addition to changing the relationship between the individual and the federal government, it alters the relationship of the states to the federal government. Obamacare is a direct threat to American federalism. It promises to reduce the states to mere instruments of federal health policy. Specifically, the requirement for state-based health insurance exchanges represents a grave threat to states’ ability to govern. These exchanges serve as the means by which individuals and businesses purchase federally standardized health insurance plans. Such exchanges determine eligibility for government subsidies for insurance, administer the distribution of those subsidies, and facilitate enrollment in Medicaid. If states refuse to set up the exchanges or are unable to do so by 2014, then the Secretary of Health and Human Services will impose them and deprive states of any independent authority to run them. If state officials want to implement something different from the exchanges—perhaps something better—they must request a waiver from the Secretary of Health and Human Services.



At the most basic level, Obama care is not a law. Although both houses passed the same piece of legislation, and the President signed it, there is no rule of action in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. What you have is a 2,700 page bundle of delegations to a plethora of existing and soon-to-be-created administrative entities. These agencies, staffed with expert bureaucrats, will create the regulations and rules of action that will govern our lives. As Moffit explains, “we are finding out what’s in the law each and every day, ranging from genuinely odd outcomes to the standard, garden-variety unintended consequences that especially bedevil health policy.” Nancy Pelosi was correct when she predicted that we would only know what was included in the bill once it was passed.



Americans did not see Obamacare as a fabulous new entitlement with almost magical cost-saving, deficit-reducing abilities. They rightly saw it as a “narrowly partisan, hastily drafted legislative monster affecting every citizen and rushed through a flawed process to meet artificial political deadlines.” This is not the quality of legislative decision-making befitting the American people, their republic, or our first principles.





Political Cartoon: Drill, Brazil, Drill

From Town Hall:

Detroit's Liberal Nightmare

From The Heritage Foundation:

Detroit's Liberal Nightmare




What happens when a city buys the liberal dream hook, line and sinker? Just take a look at the City of Detroit. The once-great city lost 237,493 residents over the last decade according to the 2010 Census, bringing it to 713,777 – a population plunge of 25%. That's its lowest population since 1910, and it marks the city's fall from a 1950s peak of two million, over 60%. And that’s just the people who can afford to leave.



Detroit, once known as "the great arsenal of democracy," has made headlines of late for its notorious fall from grace. The "Big Three" automakers are no longer the biggest, falling behind their overseas rivals, and the Michigan economy lost 450,000 manufacturing jobs over the past 10 years all while Detroit lost population. And while the Motor City suffers unemployment from a decimated automotive industry, it suffers crime, high taxes, poor city services, plummeting home values, and a public education system in shambles with a $327 million budget deficit and a 19 percent dropout rate. Is it any wonder people are leaving in droves?



But to understand why folks are really leaving Detroit, its worth looking where they're headed. As Detroit suffered a population loss, its neighboring suburban counties with lower crime, better schools and an improving economic outlook saw their population increase. One former Detroiter told The Detroit News, "Detroit just got too messy for me ... I was not getting the benefits of those tax dollars. The city services are poor and I could not use the school system. And you look at the cost of living and the corruption, we had to leave." In other words, bad government drove her out, and she's seeking greener pastures elsewhere.



For the record, Detroit has been under liberal leadership for decades. And the city's big problem today is that its road forward is blocked by the very same political machine that helped deliver it to its state of ruin. Case in point: the state's powerful teachers unions. In 2003, a philanthropist pledged $200 million for the creation of 15 charter schools in the city. Despite the city's tragic public school system, the plan failed and the offer was withdrawn following protests by the Detroit Federation of Teachers. Little has changed, eight years later. A state-appointed emergency financial manager has proposed sweeping changes to the city's public school system, including a plan to convert 41 of the city's schools to charter schools. Guess who's opposed to the reforms? That very same union.



The newly elected governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder (R), is finding opposition to his efforts at reform, as well. Following eight years of Democrat Gov. Jennifer Granholm's rule, Gov. Snyder has embarked on efforts to change the way the state does business, including tax reform, spending cuts and empowering emergency financial managers to tackle problems in cities and schools. Who's opposed to his reforms? Unions, once again, in Wisconsin-style protests. William McGurn of The Wall Street Journal writes:



Michigan today is not a struggling state like California or New Jersey or even Wisconsin. It is a basket case, with worse to come if things do not change quickly—especially in the relation of the public to the private sector.



"Many of the protesters seem to think the war is between rich and poor," says Michael LaFaive, director of the Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative at the Michigan-based Mackinac Center. "But the real class war today is between government and the people who pay for it. And the government's been winning."



And the problems that plague Michigan and Detroit are the problems with liberal policies. The promise doesn't live up to the results. The Washington Examiner's Michael Barone writes: "When people ask me why I moved from being a liberal to being a conservative, my single-word answer is Detroit. The liberal policies which I hoped would make Detroit something like heaven have made it instead something more like hell."



And now, after living in that liberal nightmare, Detroiters have voted with their feet in record number.



The Democrats' Tyranny Of The Minority

From The American Thinker and Vision to America:

March 24, 2011


Democrats' Tyranny of the Minority

By Peter Heck

Talk radio kingpin Rush Limbaugh has repeated for years his belief that as a political party, the Democrats feel entitled to power. When they are denied it by the results of an election, they react as though they are the victims of a grave injustice, thereby at liberty to engage in whatever tactic is necessary to retrieve what is rightfully theirs. Beginning with the Wisconsin walkout and now embodied in the temper tantrum of Indiana Democrats, the self-professed Doctor of Democracy has once again been proven right.





Statehouse walkouts are not without precedent. In fact, they are a reasonably common occurrence. But they are largely symbolic gestures -- an attempt to demonstrate the minority's outraged disapproval of the majority's agenda. Seldom do they go on for days, and until now, never have they been legitimate attempts to undermine the entire democratic process by grinding the operation of government to a halt.





Yet that is exactly what the Wisconsin Democrats attempted, and what their Indiana counterparts are still shamefully perpetrating. What is taking place in the Indiana Statehouse is far from a mere regional or petty statewide issue; it is a direct assault on the democratic process that deserves national attention and collective, bipartisan scorn. For while the Wisconsin constitution allowed the Republicans a procedural recourse to rectify the stalemate (something they employed when it became apparent the Democrats could not be lured back by compromise), Indiana Republicans have no such option.





For those who may be unaware, Indiana Statehouse Democrats staged a walkout a month ago to deny the large Republican majority the ability to enact legislation opposed by public and private union bosses - specifically right-to-work and public education reform laws. The Democrat caucus fled across state lines to Illinois (where else?), and have been holed up in a hotel demanding concession after concession to earn their return. But even after capitulating to their juvenile fit and pulling the right-to-work law off the table, Republican leaders have been unsuccessful in luring the Democrats back to work.





Indiana House Speaker, Republican Brian Bosma, acknowledged as much when he lamented, "We can't do the Madison shuffle that Wisconsin legislators were able to accomplish." The consequence of that reality? Given that Indiana has a part-time legislature, the stalemate will most likely cease only when the session adjourns and Governor Mitch Daniels calls the Assembly back into special session to pass a budget and new redistricting maps - the only items the legislature is required by law to pass. This special session may give Republicans some wiggle room, but the likelihood is that the Democrat temper-tantrum will have killed the passage of virtually every bill introduced this year.





There's a phrase for what is occurring in Indiana; it's called the "tyranny of the minority." In Federalist #10, James Madison warned against the tyranny of the majority by proposing that a republican form of representative democracy would best protect the rights of the minority. What he apparently didn't count on was that in an effort to appease their union masters, the minority would one day use those protections to obliterate the democratic process. And that is precisely what is unfolding.





It's telling that the phrase "tyranny of the minority" has been employed in recent years by Democrat apologists angry at the Republican Party's use of the filibuster to stall Democrat-sponsored legislation. Watching Republicans require a supermajority of 60 Senators to pass some of Barack Obama's most controversial policies (thereby slowing his left-wing revolution of government), Democrat consultant Peter Fenn thundered, "This is the tyranny of the minority...This acceptance of a supermajority to get anything done in America has gotten way out of hand...There is a place for a supermajority: impeachment, eviction of members, veto overrides, votes on treaties and constitutional amendments. But we should not have such requirements for the regular conduct of legislative business, especially at times like these, when action is required to move the country forward."





One must wonder where Mr. Fenn and his counterparts are now. After all, while both parties' overuse of the filibuster to obstruct legislation is a fair topic of conversation, it pales in comparison to the unseemly tactic of a group of lawmakers who hold representative democracy itself hostage by refusing to show up for work. Because while a filibuster is levied to obtain critical changes and adjustments to pending legislation, these walkouts are a brazen attempt to thwart the will of the people expressed in an election.





As Bosma explained, "We've offered a number of concessions on substitutive matters on issues of concern to the Democrats. What we have not agreed to do is to meet their demand to remove issues for the remainder of the legislative session in both chambers, which is their continued demand, that these issues just go away, really nullifying the election results of November 2."





And that's why reasonable and fair minded individuals from around the country and from both sides of the aisle should be outraged at this stunt. The dangerous precedent being set here is that whatever party loses the election should just flee the state to prevent the winners from passing any laws. This un-statesmanlike chicanery annihilates the very republican form of government our Constitution guarantees.





In his article, Fenn complained, "We have seen the rapid evolution of a nation that covets the concept of majority rule to one where the tyranny of the minority threatens to paralyze the country." Indeed it does. Nothing less than the democratic process is at stake. And ironically, it's the group of folks who euphemistically and now wholly inappropriately refer to themselves as the Democratic Party who have the gun to its head.





Peter is a public high school government teacher and radio talk show host in central Indiana. Email peter@peterheck.com, visit www.peterheck.com, or like him on Facebook.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

IHOP Owner Fears ObamaCare's Impact On Jobs And Economy

From The Heritage Foundation:

IHOP Owner Fears Obamacare's Impact on Jobs and Economy












TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — In 2006, when Indiana small-business owner Scott Womack purchased a development agreement to expand his IHOP franchise into Ohio, he had no idea Congress would pass a massive overhaul of the health care system four years later.



Today, one year after that legislative overhaul became law, Womack is very aware of Obamacare — and of its effects on his plans for growth.



Under the year-old law, Womack must provide health insurance to all full-time employees beginning in 2014. Right now, he employs nearly 1,000 full- and part-time workers and already offers insurance to his management staff. He simply does not know how he’ll generate the revenue to do more.



Womack estimates the cost of the law to his company will be 50 percent greater than his company’s earnings — in other words, beyond his ability to pay.



That’s not because his company of 12 IHOP restaurants in Indiana and Ohio is unprofitable. Quite the opposite, in fact. By industry standards, he’s doing well. But labor-intensive restaurants generate profits of just 5 percent to 7 percent per employee.



With fears about how he’ll afford to provide health insurance with those low profit margins, Womack is worried about his expansion plans in Ohio. He can’t exactly cancel his development agreement. But he’ll only be able to fund his new restaurants — and the construction, real estate and manufacturing jobs that would go along with them — if Obamacare is repealed.



“If the health care reform law is not repealed or if the employer mandate doesn’t go away, we’re going to have to take drastic action,” Womack explains.



From his perspective, the law represents Congress’ fundamental misunderstanding of important differences among industries. He’s frustrated that so few lawmakers sought input from people like him — but he’s doing what he can to speak up now to offer a glimpse into the law’s effects on small-business owners.

Failure Is Obama's Strategy

From The Heritage Foundation:

Failure is Obama's Strategy




On March 2, President Barack Obama anointed Vice President Joe Biden as his lead negotiator on coming to an agreement with congressional conservatives on this year’s federal budget. Biden then spent half a day on Capitol Hill talking with Republicans before jetting off to Europe. The next week, Senator Joe Manchin (D–WV) attacked the President on the Senate floor: "Why are we doing all this when the most powerful person in these negotiations—our president—has failed to lead this debate or offer a serious proposal for spending and cuts that he would be willing to fight for?" What Manchin doesn’t seem to realize is that failure is Obama's plan.



After an unprecedented two-year spending spree, President Obama is not looking to change Washington's bad habits anytime soon. However conservatives got the message in last November's elections. The American people want them to take substantive steps towards scaling back an out-of-control government. House Republicans passed a seven-month continuing resolution to keep the government operating that cut $61 billion in spending and blocked funding for a host of terrible policies, including Obamacare. This was a good first step. A modest step Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and President Obama are unwilling to take. In response, Reid and Obama have offered only the status quo.



The White House strategy is clear as day: It knows the American people do not currently trust President Obama on federal spending. Not only do 62 percent of Americans currently disapprove of President Obama’s handling of the federal budget deficit, but for the first time in recent memory, more Americans say they prefer the approach of Republicans in Congress (47 percent) on "cutting programs to reduce the budget deficit and still maintaining needed federal programs" than President Obama's (43 percent) approach. The White House knows it has to improve these numbers before President Obama can negotiate short- and long-term spending deals that protect his big-government spending priorities. So how is the White House planning to change these numbers? Two words: government shutdown.



The plan goes like this: President Obama does nothing now and allows the existing continuing resolution to expire. The White House and its media allies then portray the resulting government shutdown as the end of Western civilization as we know it (remember the TARP debate!). Americans’ faith in the Republican approach on “cutting programs to reduce the budget deficit and still maintaining needed federal programs” tanks. President Obama then emerges as the centrist peacemaker balancing the spendthrift congressional Democrats with the mean-spirited congressional Republican spending-cutters. President Obama’s base then pretends they’re offended at some very minor cuts, centrist Republicans cut a deal, and the President’s popularity soars like it did after the December tax legislation. Conservatives then go into the deficit ceiling and 2012 budget debates as untrusted losers. That is the White House plan.



Conservatives can’t allow this to happen. They should fill the void that President Obama’s failure to lead has created. After all, this debate is occurring because the previous Congress failed to even try and pass a budget, one of their basic responsibilities. They must make sure their constituents understand that President Obama and Senator Reid are not acting in good faith. The time for more continuing resolutions is over. This is about much more than cutting $61 billion from this year’s budget. If we cannot trim a meager 2 percent now, what hope do we have of tackling entitlements? We must make the tough decisions now because we know President Obama won’t.



Saturday, March 26, 2011

POTUS's Attention Deficit Disorder

From Human Events--Guns & Patriots:

POTUS' Attention-Deficit Disorder


by Oliver North



03/22/2011







WASHINGTON -- Try this for a timeline of recent events that affect Americans, and see whether you can determine whether the leader of the Free World suffers from presidential attention-deficit disorder:



Wednesday, March 9: The 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit at Camp Lejeune, N.C., is alerted to deploy with all possible haste for the Mediterranean Sea and be prepared for military and humanitarian contingency operations off the coast of Libya. That night, President Barack Obama hosted a "TV party" at the White House to watch a basketball game: the Chicago Bulls vs. the Charlotte Bobcats. The Bulls won.



Thursday, March 10: Forces loyal to Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi recapture the city of Zawiyah from rebels. French President Nicolas Sarkozy formally recognizes the provisional "National Council" as the legitimate government of Libya and urges other governments to send aid to the rebels. Rather than focus on these events, Obama convened the "White House Conference on Bullying Prevention."







Friday, March 11: Shortly after midnight Eastern time, one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded, magnitude 8.9, triggers a devastating tsunami, destroying whole cities on Japan's eastern coast. POTUS' first public remarks on "the potentially catastrophic disaster" occur at 12:35 p.m. at a previously scheduled news conference on energy policy. At 2:50 p.m., he hosted the 2010 Stanley Cup champions, the Chicago Blackhawks. Nobody mentioned the tragedy in Japan.



Saturday, March 12: European Union leaders resolve that Gadhafi "surrender power and leave Libya immediately." An Israeli family of five -- including three children -- is brutally murdered in Itamar by Palestinian terrorists. In Bahrain, headquarters of the U.S. 5th Fleet, Shiite protesters demand the ouster of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, and police kill a half-dozen anti-government protesters in Sanaa, Yemen's capital. That afternoon, Obama played golf before headlining the annual Gridiron Club dinner with Washington's elite. His prepared remarks, delivered from a podium-mounted teleprompter, were deemed "devastatingly funny and humorously self-deprecating." He barely mentioned any of the events occurring around the world -- or his golf score.



Sunday, March 13: Violence and casualties in Bahrain and Yemen escalate, and Libyan rebels are driven out of Ras Lanouf amid calls from the Arab League for a no-fly zone. U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine units, experts from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and civil disaster teams deployed to assist earthquake/tsunami victims arrive in Japan after an explosion at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power complex. White House press secretary Jay Carney provides two written statements summarizing U.S. relief efforts and another five-line release that "strongly condemns the violence" in Yemen and Bahrain while urging "restraint." Obama had no public events posted on his official White House site, but he did have an opinion column posted in Tucson's Arizona Daily Star, calling for new "gun-control enforcement measures."



Monday, March 14: Saudi Arabia dispatches U.S.-trained and -equipped special operations units to Bahrain without consulting with or informing Washington. In northern Japan, a second nuclear reactor explosion injures 11. Obama began his day at 10:20 that morning with a visit to a public school in Virginia, where he spoke about "reforming education." He later met with Denmark's prime minister and then with the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus. That evening, he attended a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee.



Tuesday, March 15: Pro-Gadhafi forces capture Ajdabiya and Brega in the east and move toward the rebel stronghold at Benghazi. Bahrain declares martial law, and Oman places security forces on alert to deal with anti-government protests. In Japan, the nuclear safety alert goes from level 4 to 6 on a 7-point scale. Obama spent part of his morning taping segments for ESPN on the upcoming NCAA basketball tournaments. While the U.S. House of Representatives was voting to fund the U.S. government for another three weeks, the president found time for media interviews on education reform and meetings and a dinner with U.S. military commanders.



Wednesday, March 16: Anti-regime rebels, pounded by Gadhafi's air force and artillery, begin retreating toward Egypt. Increasingly violent protests rock Bahrain and Yemen. A third explosion and fire at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant threatens rescue workers. Rumors of spreading contamination prompt some Americans to start buying potassium iodide to prevent radiation poisoning. Asked about these fears, Dr. Regina Benjamin, the O-Team's surgeon general, said, "We can't be over-prepared." A subsequent "clarification" stated that "she wouldn't recommend that anyone go out and purchase" it now. That afternoon, as the U.S. stock market plunged, the president made time for brief meetings with the USAID administrator, met with his "senior advisers," canceled plans to receive an award for "government transparency" and headed off to yet another DNC event.



Thursday, March 17: U.S. citizens are warned to evacuate Japan. As Gadhafi's forces prepare to assault the remaining rebel strongholds in Libya, the U.N. Security Council debates what to do. Before celebrating St. Patrick's Day at the White House, O'Bama visited the Japanese Embassy, had our U.N. ambassador announce we may have to "go beyond a no-fly zone" in Libya, and told the world he is part Irish.



All of these tough decisions on Libya, the Middle East, the disaster in Japan, a teetering U.S. economy, the lack of a federal budget, basketball games, golf outings and DNC fundraisers are taking a toll on our chief executive. So it's only fair he should take a taxpayer-funded spring break in Rio de Janeiro.







--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Lt. Col. North (Ret.) is a nationally syndicated columnist and the author of the FOX News/Regnery books, "War Stories: Operation Iraqi Freedom," "War Stories II: Heroism in the Pacific" and "War Stories III: The Heroes Who Defeated Hitler." Lt. North hosts "War Stories Investigates: Drugs, Money and Narco-Terror" Saturday, Aug. 22, at 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. EDT on Fox News Channel