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December 21, 2009

Remember the good old days when the national debt was only $8 trillion?

Actually, that was only four years ago.  In the years since, the acknowledged* debt has increased 50%, thanks mostly to the drunken spending binge in which Congress has engaged in the past year or so, with the encouragement of both presidents Bush and Obama (although Bush’s original TARP fund now seems quaint when compared with the spending initiatives of the Obama administration).

The Bureau of the Public Debt allows you to look up the acknowledged national debt for any given date in recent years.  At the moment I took this screenshot, the debt stood at TWELVE TRILLION, ninety-seven billion, nine hundred eighty-three million, one hundred sixty-one thousand, three hundred sixty-six dollars.  And sixty-five cents.

I say “acknowledged” national debt because the government holds substantial amounts of additional debt that are “off the books”.  For example, mandated future payouts in programs like Social Security and Medicare ought to be included because the government is supposedly committed to paying them, but the government doesn’t count these unfunded liabilities as debt until they have to borrow cash to pay them out. 

So how much would these unfunded liabilities add to the debt of the US government?  Richard W. Fisher, who heads up the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, had this to say in May of 2008:

Add together the unfunded liabilities from Medicare and Social Security, and it comes to $99.2 trillion over the infinite horizon. Traditional Medicare composes about 69 percent, the new drug benefit roughly 17 percent and Social Security the remaining 14 percent.

Now there’s a number that I doubt any of us will ever be able to get our minds around.  We could represent it with a stack of crisp, newly-printed dollar bills whose height is 25 times the distance from the earth to the moon (extending the calculation done here), but still, I don’t think anyone can truly appreciate how staggeringly-large that number is.

Just wait until the costs of Obama’s health care plan get added to the total (assuming it passes).  And then there’s Obama’s climate change agenda.  And then there’s the next economic stimulus.  And then there’s…….

Quick Quote: Founder Patrick Henry speaks out on ObamaCare

The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government - lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.
-- Patrick Henry
In fairness, the federal government as a whole has been guilty of this inversion of the Constitution’s purpose for several generations.  It was bad enough when the Bush administration gave us things like the Medicare Prescription entitlement. It’s just that the current administration has ratcheted things up a few notches from the worst excesses of any previous administration (including perhaps the FDR administration).

(By the way, I’m assuming this quote was actually from Patrick Henry.  I have looked for a site that gives the original reference for the quote, but so far, if there is any citation at all, the websites are citing each other.  If someone can point me to the quote’s actual source, I’d be much obliged.)

Fla. congressman wants online critic fined and “imprisoned for five years”

Most politicians enter the profession knowing that they must develop a thick skin.  Take a stand on anything, and the critics will come out of the woodwork.

Florida Congressman Alan Grayson has distinguished himself by his outrageously extreme characterizations of his political opponents.  A Florida resident, fed up with the embarrassment the congressman has brought to her state, set up the web site mycongressmanisnuts.com to rally support for the cause of unseating him in 2010.



Grayson apparently thinks that the constitutional guarantee of the right of free speech applies only to those who agree with him.  Instead of ignoring the site or defending his actions, he filed a federal complaint against the website owner.

Grayson won’t be content with having the site shut down.  Relying on technicalities related to how the activist set up her fundraising committee, he also wants the site owner fined and “imprisoned for five years”.

Perhaps the My Congressman is Nuts site could launch an investigation into Grayson’s own fundraising activities.  I’ll bet there are a few gems in there worth posting for the world to see.

Not that there isn’t sufficient evidence already that Grayson doesn’t have what it takes to serve honorably in Congress.

(Via: Orlando Sentinel, December 18)

December 16, 2009

Sam Elliot: It’s our duty to reward filmmakers who actively seek to attack our faith

Actor Sam Elliot just knows who is to blame for the fact that the film adaptations of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy will likely never go beyond the first part, The Golden CompassCatholic News Agency reports:
Actor Sam Elliot has blamed the Catholic Church for stopping sequels from being made to the Golden Compass movie based on the first book of Philip Pullman’s atheistic trilogy His Dark Materials. The film, starring Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig and Eva Green, grossed more than $380 million worldwide after its Christmas 2007 release, but took in only $85 million in the U.S. According to the Internet Movie Database, the film had a budget of $180 million.
The 65-year-old Elliot, who played a Texan “aeronaut” in the film, charged that a Catholic-led campaign against the movie stopped its sequels from being made.
Of course, the film’s horrible domestic box office take had nothing to do with the fact that the movie was based on the first novel of a trilogy that goes out of its way to deride the faith of Christians in general, and Catholics in particular.
The Golden Compass is the most benign book in the trilogy, and the film adaptation was cleaned up even more. However, it would be hard to cleanse the remaining books sufficiently:
According to CinemaBlend.com, the first book of the His Dark Materials trilogy is the most mild “by far” and the movie had most of its anti-religion references stripped.
“That kind of sanitization would have been impossible when adapting later books,” the movie website continued, noting that the series “quite literally” becomes a story about homosexual angels trying to kill God.
So, Mr. Elliot, tell us more about how the Catholics managed to scuttle what promised to be a beloved film series.

UPDATE: So, is Sam Elliot a Democrat or a Republican?

San Francisco’s city government defies gravity; fails to collapse under its own bloated weight

San Francisco has already been described as an increasingly child-free city.  Lately, many have come to recognize yet another dubious distinction for SF.  Benjamin Wachs and Joe Eskenazi report December 14 in SF Weekly:
Despite its good intentions, San Francisco is not leading the country in gay marriage. Despite its good intentions, it is not stopping wars. Despite its spending more money per capita on homelessness than any comparable city, its homeless problem is worse than any comparable city's. Despite its spending more money per capita, period, than almost any city in the nation, San Francisco has poorly managed, budget-busting capital projects, overlapping social programs no one is certain are working, and a transportation system where the only thing running ahead of schedule is the size of its deficit.
It's time to face facts: San Francisco is spectacularly mismanaged and arguably the worst-run big city in America. This year's city budget is an astonishing $6.6 billion — more than twice the budget for the entire state of Idaho — for roughly 800,000 residents. Yet despite that stratospheric amount, San Francisco can't point to progress on many of the social issues it spends liberally to tackle — and no one is made to answer when the city comes up short.
“Despite its good intentions”… For some, the nobility of one’s intentions cover a multitude of sins.  Sure, many of these problems are worse than ever despite all of the money we’ve thrown at them, but at least we care.

December 9, 2009

Obama administration intends to rule by fiat if Congress doesn’t submit?

[Cross-posted from C-Pol’s companion site, The Global Warming Heretic]

According to a Fox News story today, administration officials acknowledge privately that the EPA’s newly-claimed powers allow the executive branch to function as a dictatorship if it so chooses.
The Obama administration is warning Congress that if it doesn't move to regulate greenhouse gases, the Environmental Protection Agency will take a "command-and-control" role over the process in a way that could hurt business.

The warning, from a top White House economic official who spoke Tuesday on condition of anonymity, came on the eve of EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson's address to the international conference on climate change in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Jackson, however, tried to strike a tone of cooperation in her address Wednesday, explaining that the EPA's new powers to regulate greenhouse gases will be used to complement legislation pending in Congress, not replace it.

"This is not an 'either-or' moment. It's a 'both-and' moment," she said.

But while administration officials have long said they prefer Congress take action on climate change, the economic official who spoke with reporters Tuesday night made clear that the EPA will not wait and is prepared to act on its own.

And it won't be pretty.

"If you don't pass this legislation, then ... the EPA is going to have to regulate in this area," the official said. "And it is not going to be able to regulate on a market-based way, so it's going to have to regulate in a command-and-control way, which will probably generate even more uncertainty."
So.  Obama would prefer that Congress take the actions that the administration demands of it.  But if Congress fails to get its act together, the administration will publicly hold Congress responsible for the economic chaos that will follow.

And that economic chaos is a virtual certainty if the administration resorts to fiat rule through the EPA. Who would want to invest in an economy where regulations are changing suddenly and radically (and almost always to the detriment of businesses)?

EPA declares plant food to be a public health threat

[Cross-posted from C-Pol’s companion site, The Global Warming Heretic]

A bit late in reporting on this, but hey, this is a blog, not a news service.  But just for the record, here’s what happened on Monday, as reported by the Associated Press:
The Obama administration took a major step Monday toward imposing the first federal limits on climate-changing pollution from cars, power plants and factories, declaring there was compelling scientific evidence that global warming from manmade greenhouse gases endangers Americans' health.
Does anyone else see a logical disconnect here?  Not the Environmental Protection Agency, because they’ve consciously named carbon dioxide a dangerous pollutant.  A gas that occurs naturally, the existence of which is essential for plant life – is a dangerous pollutant.

And notice – only “manmade” carbon dioxide seems to be capable of causing global warming.  Oh, and how is it a danger to public health?  They don’t say here, but it’s obvious that they’re playing the Six Degrees game.

So, what kind of powers has the EPA amassed for itself by this “finding”?  The article gives us a taste:
The price could be steep for both industry and consumers. The EPA finding clears the way for rules that eventually could force the sale of more fuel-efficient vehicles and require plants to install costly new equipment — at a cost of billions or even many tens of billions of dollars — or shift to other forms of energy.
It almost certainly goes beyond this.  If human generated carbon dioxide emissions are as dangerous as the EPA says they are, there is no logical or moral reason why the EPA shouldn’t extend its regulatory tentacles into every aspect of our lives.

In other words, this finding will serve as the greatest mechanism ever devised for state control of American people and resources, all in complete, deliberate mockery of the constitutional limits on the powers of the federal government.

It’s almost as if that was the plan.

December 8, 2009

Demographic collapse in socialist paradise

Mark Steyn writes that Vermont (a state renowned for not only tolerating socialists, but electing them as well) is suffering demographic collapse, with children composing a steadily decreasing percentage of an otherwise-stable population:

Throughout Vermont, student enrollment at public elementary and secondary schools is declining. According to figures from the state’s Department of Education, there were 104,559 students at those schools during the 1999–2000 school year. Last year, that figure was down to 92,572.

Which is quite a drop. In fact, Vermont school enrollments have declined 13 years in a row. Since 1996, they’ve fallen by 13 percent, slumping below 100,000 in 2004 and projected to fall below 90,000 in 2014.

This blog has previously remarked on an identical phenomenon occurring in another leftwing paradise, San Francisco.

This may explain the Democrat Party’s seemingly insatiable desire to import voters – they’re trying to replace the ones they’re not (re)producing themselves.

When seconds count, the police are minutes away

A rural Oklahoma woman defends her home and her life in this two-minute excerpt from a 911 call.

It took police about half an hour to arrive – an unpleasant reality in rural areas.

(Via: The Tusk and Hot Air)

December 3, 2009

And the prize for “Most Pathetic Headline of the Week by a Major US Paper” goes to….

…the Los Angeles Times.  Here’s how they titled their story about yesterday’s vote by Honduras’ Congress regarding Manuel Zelaya:

Honduran Congress upholds coup

The LAT seems determined to set in stone the fiction that Zelaya was removed in a coup d'├ętat, rather than in a legal, constitutional action.  If you didn’t catch the “coup” in the title, don’t worry – they use the word four more times in the accompanying article.

The vote was overwhelmingly against Zelaya’s reinstatement (111-14), but the LAT dismisses it by suggesting that this was a vote by the Honduran elite to rid itself of a meddlesome man of the people.

The MSM’s reporting on Honduras’ political situation should be a badge of shame, but you’ll never read that in their newspapers.

December 1, 2009

War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Abortion is “preventative care”.

Life News, today:
Yesterday, the Senate began the process of considering amendments to Senator Harry Reid's pro-abortion health care legislation.

The first amendment offered was Mikulski Amendment No. 2791, sponsored by pro-abortion Sen. Barbara Mikulski, a Maryland Democrat, dealing with federally mandated coverage of "preventive care."

The amendment would essentially define abortion as preventative care and could result in mandates to private insurance plans that they define abortion as such and provide coverage of it.

Because of that, the National Right to Life Committee issued a letter to members of the Senate urging them to strongly oppose the Mikulski amendment.

"If Congress were to grant any Executive Branch entity sweeping authority to define services that private health plans must cover, merely by declaring a given service to constitute 'preventive care' then that authority could be employed in the future to require all health plans to cover abortions," NRLC explains.

"Therefore, NRLC opposes both the Mikulski Amendment No.2791, and the underlying language of Section 1001, unless additional language is added to explicitly exclude abortion from the universe of services that might be mandated as 'preventive care,'" the letter continues.