The latest C-Poll is closed. You can read all about it here!

February 27, 2009

Obama has openly declared his plans to transform America; we can't say that we weren't warned

President Obama on Tuesday declared for all the world to hear that he won't rest until our country has been remade in the image of the European Union.

You know, that worker's paradise of freedom and entrepreneurship.

That place where the health care is free, if you can get an appointment.

That place with a bureaucracy that rivals the one found in Terry Gilliam's dystopic masterpiece Brazil.

Charles Krauthammer summarizes Obama's bold plans:
(1) Obama wants to be to universal health care what Lyndon Johnson was to Medicare. Obama has publicly abandoned his once-stated preference for a single-payer system as in Canada and Britain. But that is for practical reasons. In America, you can't get there from here directly.
Instead, Obama will create the middle step that will lead ultimately and inevitably to single-payer. The way to do it is to establish a reformed system that retains a private health-insurance sector but offers a new government-run plan (based on benefits open to members of Congress) so relatively attractive that people voluntarily move out of the private sector, thereby starving it. The ultimate result is a system of fully socialized medicine. This will likely not happen until long after Obama leaves office. But he will be rightly recognized as its father.
(2) Beyond cradle-to-grave health care, Obama wants cradle-to-cubicle education. He wants far more government grants, tax credits and other financial guarantees for college education -- another way station to another universal federal entitlement. He lauded the country for establishing free high school education during the Industrial Revolution; he wants to put us on the road to doing the same for college during the Information Age.
(3) Obama wants to be to green energy what John Kennedy was to the moon shot, its visionary and creator. It starts with the establishment of a government-guided, government-funded green energy sector into which the administration will pour billions of dollars from the stimulus package and billions more from budgets to come.
The America he leaves behind at the end of his term will be nothing like the one any of us have known.

February 26, 2009

Did the "era of big government" REALLY end during the Clinton administration?

Reuters gets my vote for the most clueless news article introduction of the day:
Obama brings back era of big government
Thu Feb 26, 2009 8:48pm GMT

By Steve Holland - Analysis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Bill Clinton declared more than a decade ago "the era of big government is over." With his new budget, President Barack Obama has brought it back.
Attention, Steve Holland: Bill Clinton's declaration was nothing more than hot air. Big government hardly slowed its expansion under Bill Clinton.

The era of big government certainly did not end under George W. Bush, either. Among many egregious examples, Bush's addition of prescription drugs to the Medicare entitlement was an abomination of big government expansion.

Of course, as Mr. Holland's article goes on to describe, Barack Obama has already beggared his predecessor's worst big-government accomplishments.

But, good grief -- there must be a better way to intro this fact than by resurrecting a meaningless throwaway line from a Clinton speech.

Sen. Robert Byrd: Convenient constitutionalist

West Virginia senator Robert Byrd usually busies himself diverting a disproportionate amount of federal expenditures into his state (and thereby getting an increasing number of public works named after him there).

Every once in a while, though, he erupts in a fit of constitutionalism, correctly calling attention to some abuse of the clearly-delineated restrictions on federal power.

For example, yesterday the senator criticized the Obama administration for violating the constitutional separation of powers, as Politico reported:

Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), the longest-serving Democratic senator, is criticizing President Obama’s appointment of White House “czars” to oversee federal policy, saying these executive positions amount to a power grab by the executive branch.

In a letter to Obama on Wednesday, Byrd complained about Obama’s decision to create White House offices on health reform, urban affairs policy, and energy and climate change. Byrd said such positions “can threaten the Constitutional system of checks and balances. At the worst, White House staff have taken direction and control of programmatic areas that are the statutory responsibility of Senate-confirmed officials.”

While it's rare for Byrd to criticize a president in his own party, Byrd is a stern constitutional scholar who has always stood up for the legislative branch in its role in checking the power of the White House. Byrd no longer holds the powerful Appropriations chairmanship, so his criticism does not carry as much weight these days. Byrd repeatedly clashed with the Bush administration over executive power, and it appears that he's not limiting his criticism to Republican administrations.

Byrd also wants Obama to limit claims of executive privilege while also ensuring that the White House czars don’t have authority over Cabinet officers confirmed by the Senate.
Byrd's criticism appears to be on the mark, but in my opinion his motives are not entirely pure.

The third paragraph is key: "Byrd is a stern constitutional scholar who has always stood up for the legislative branch in its role in checking the power of the White House."

In other words, "constitutional scholar" Byrd stands up for the Constitution only when the power of the legislative branch is threatened.

You'll rarely (if ever) hear his thundering protests when Congress itself routinely steps out of its constitutional sandbox.

That said, we'll take whatever we can get.

Obama administration surprised, dismayed at its own immigration enforcement action

You can't make this stuff up. Washington Times, February 26:
Immigrant rights groups blasted President Obama on Wednesday for breaking what they called his "personal commitment" to change Bush-era immigration raids after U.S. authorities raided an engine machine shop in Washington state and detained illegal immigrants.
The Obama administration itself seemed taken aback by the raid by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano vowing to Congress that she would "get to the bottom of this."
ICE agents enforce the law, and their boss vows she'll "get to the bottom of this".

And that phrase "Bush-era immigration raids" is a work of art.

Quick Quote: We know our cell phone contract better than we know the Constitution

As I have traveled across the country, I have been astounded just how many of our fellow citizens feel strongly about their constitutional rights but have no idea what they are, or for that matter, what the Constitution says. I am not suggesting that they become Constitutional scholars -- whatever that means. I am suggesting, however, that if one feels strongly about his or her rights, it does make sense to know generally what the Constitution says about them. It is at least as easy to understand as a cell phone contract -- and vastly more important.

-- Clarence Thomas, U.S. Supreme Court Justice, October 16, 2008 speech

Quick Quote: The U.S. is NOT a democracy!

Q. If we are not a democracy, why are our officials elected by a majority of the people, and why are our laws passed by a majority of the lawmakers?

A. We are not a democracy because both the people and the lawmakers are limited by the fundamental law of the land, our written Constitution. Election by the people is not a grant of power beyond the constitutional limits of the office. A representative government limited by law is a republic, not a democracy. In a republic a majority of the people cannot vote away their own rights, or the rights of others unless ... unless they step outside the Constitution.

-- Preserve The Constitution, By Don Fotheringham (October, 1995)

The rich don't make enough to fund Obama's spending spree

The Wall Street Journal does some basic arithmetic that gives the lie to President Obama's promise that households making less than $250,000 won't see their taxes go up "one single dime".

In fact, even if Obama seized 100% of the taxable income of the richest Americans, it wouldn't come close to covering the amount the administration wants to spend next fiscal year.

Face it. One way or the other, your taxes are going up.

February 25, 2009

Bernanke to borrowers: You picked a good time to take out an irresponsible loan

Let me get this right.

A borrower takes out a mortgage, knowing full well that he is buying more house than he can really afford in the long run.

Even in the best of economic times, this fellow stood a good chance of defaulting. But in the economic tsunami currently overwhelming the housing market, his mortgage is just one piece of debris among many.

Even though he, with premeditation, took out a loan that he knew he could not repay, should he have his fortunes restored at the expense of the taxpayers?

You betcha, says Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke.

CNNMoney reports today:
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Wednesday that the embattled housing market has crippled the economy, and at-risk homeowners need a bailout - even if they knew they couldn't afford their home in the first place.

"Some borrowers presumably knew what they were getting into," Bernanke said before the House Financial Services Committee. "But from a public policy point of view, the large amount of foreclosures are detrimental not just to the borrower and lender but to the broader system."

"In many of these situations we have to trade off the moral hazard issue against the greater good," he added.

Are we witnessing the abolition of personal responsibility in financial matters? For how long? Barney Frank agrees that "moral hazard needs to take a back seat for the time being". "For the time being" -- whatever that means.

That giant sucking sound you hear is the draining away of the livelihood of our children and grandchildren -- all of whom will be footing the bill for our current drunken spending spree:
"I'm worried that the [government's] policies will only delay the inevitable -- a full correction of the market -- while saddling future generations with trillions of dollars in debt," said Rep. Scott Garrett, R-N.J.

February 20, 2009

Another creepy example of Obama's personality cult

Detroit Free Press, January 21:
See Obama in yourself -- and take a photo for our gallery

You can help build our gallery of faces from people who see a part of President Barack Obama in themselves.

We've got a photo of Obama you can cut out for yourself -- click here to download it. Then follow the instructions, take a picture and send it to us here. Tell us what part of Obama is in you and we'll add your comments to your photo.

See more photos at freep.com/obamaportraits.

Of course we can trust the media to provide us fair and objective reporting on the Obama administration.

Internet SAFETY Act: Exchanging liberty for safety yet again

Did you ever notice that encroachments on our privacy and liberty are so often justified as being For The Sake Of The Children™? CNet's Declan Mccullagh reports:
Republican politicians on Thursday called for a sweeping new federal law that would require all Internet providers and operators of millions of Wi-Fi access points, even hotels, local coffee shops, and home users, to keep records about users for two years to aid police investigations.
The legislation, which echoes a measure proposed by one of their Democratic colleagues three years ago, would impose unprecedented data retention requirements on a broad swath of Internet access providers and is certain to draw fire from businesses and privacy advocates.
"While the Internet has generated many positive changes in the way we communicate and do business, its limitless nature offers anonymity that has opened the door to criminals looking to harm innocent children," U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, said at a press conference on Thursday. "Keeping our children safe requires cooperation on the local, state, federal, and family level."
Joining Cornyn was Texas Rep. Lamar Smith, the senior Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who said such a measure would let "law enforcement stay ahead of the criminals."
Two bills have been introduced so far--S.436 in the Senate and H.R.1076 in the House. Each of the companion bills is titled "Internet Stopping Adults Facilitating the Exploitation of Today's Youth Act," or Internet Safety Act.
Each contains the same language: "A provider of an electronic communication service or remote computing service shall retain for a period of at least two years all records or other information pertaining to the identity of a user of a temporarily assigned network address the service assigns to that user."
The article goes on to describe how sweeping this data retention requirement is.

Republicans can be forgiven for this encroachment, because it's For The Sake Of The Children™. Anybody who objects must hate children.

After all, I've got nothing to hide, so why do I care if the government has the ability to track my Internet usage?

CNN 'rescue' poll assumes too much, misses half of story

CNN/Money is running the following online poll today:

At the moment, "Housing" has a significant lead at 52%, and it is not likely to give up its lead.

I'm amazed at how much is assumed by the poll question. For example, the assumption that all of the listed programs will 'help' people.

Sure, many individuals will be able to benefit from, say, a government-subsidized mortgage adjustment. But is that the whole story?

Where will the money for that mortgage adjustment come from? How many other people will be harmed (through the confiscation of their assets) so that this person can be helped?

What is the net number of people that will be helped by these bailouts? It's quite possible that the net will be negative.

I apologize. The only real negative here is my selfish attitude. I must remember the words of our soon-to-be dear leader when he taught us last October:
"My attitude is that if the economy's good for folks from the bottom up, it's gonna be good for everybody. I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."
Never mind. I'm okay now. Forget I said anything.

February 19, 2009

Quick Quote: The trouble with socialism

"The trouble with socialism is that
you eventually run out of
other people's money."

-- Margaret Thatcher

(Found here)

Rick Santelli's most excellent rant on Obama's mortgage bailout

Updates at bottom of post:
  • Kudlow piles on
  • White House yelps
  • Santelli the rock star

There's quite a buzz on the 'net today about CNBC floor reporter Rick Santelli's inspired rant at the Chicago Board of Trade this morning. He not only tells it like it is regarding the folly of Obama's mortgage bailout, he does it in fine style.

Here's the transcript, thanks to Freedom Eden:
RICK SANTELLI: The government is promoting bad behavior. Because we certainly don't want to put stimulus forth and give people a whopping $8 or $10 in their check, and think that they ought to save it, and in terms of modifications... I'll tell you what, I have an idea.

You know, the new administration's big on computers and technology-- How about this, President and new administration? Why don't you put up a website to have people vote on the Internet as a referendum to see if we really want to subsidize the losers' mortgages; or would we like to at least buy cars and buy houses in foreclosure and give them to people that might have a chance to actually prosper down the road, and reward people that could carry the water instead of drink the water?

TRADER ON FLOOR: That's a novel idea.

(Applause, cheering)

JOE KERNEN: Hey, Rick... Oh, boy. They're like putty in your hands. Did you hear...?

SANTELLI: No they're not, Joe. They're not like putty in our hands. This is America! How many of you people want to pay for your neighbor's mortgage that has an extra bathroom and can't pay their bills? Raise their hand.


President Obama, are you listening?

TRADER: How 'bout we all stop paying our mortgage? It's a moral hazard.

KERNEN: It's like mob rule here. I'm getting scared. I'm glad I'm...

CARL QUINTANILLA: Get some bricks and bats...

SANTELLI: Don't get scared, Joe. They're already scaring you. You know, Cuba used to have mansions and a relatively decent economny. They moved from the individual to the collective. Now, they're driving '54 Chevys, maybe the last great car to come out of Detroit.

KERNEN: They're driving them on water, too, which is a little strange to watch.

SANTELLI: There you go.

KERNEN: Hey Rick, how about the notion that, Wilbur pointed out, you can go down to 2% on the mortgage...

SANTELLI: You could go down to -2%. They can't afford the house.

KERNEN: ...and still have 40%, and still have 40% not be able to do it. So why are they in the house? Why are we trying to keep them in the house?

SANTELLI: I know Mr. Summers is a great economist, but boy, I'd love the answer to that one.

REBECCA QUICK: Wow. Wilbur, you get people fired up.

SANTELLI: We're thinking of having a Chicago Tea Party in July. All you capitalists that want to show up to Lake Michigan, I'm gonna start organizing.

(Whistling, cheering)

QUICK: What are you dumping in, what are you dumping in this time? Housing...?

SANTELLI: We're going to be dumping in some derivative securities. What do you think about that?

QUINTANILLA: Mayor Daley is marshalling the police right now.

KERNEN: Rabble-rouser.

QUINTANILLA: The National Guard.

After Jason Roney of Sharmac Capital makes some comments, it's back to Santelli.
QUINTANILLA: You know, Rick, one of our producers says if Roland Burris steps down, man, "Senator Santelli," the junior senator from Illinois. It's a possibility. I'm just saying...

SANTELLI: Do you think I want to take a shower every hour? The last place I'm ever gonna live or work is D.C.

KERNEN: Have you raised any money for Blago?

SANTELLI: No, but I think that somebody's gonna have to start raising money for us.

QUICK: Hey, Rick? Can you do that one more time, just get the mob behind you again?

QUINATILLA: Have the camera pull way out.

QUICK: Yeah, pull way out. Everybody listen to Rick Santelli.

KERNEN: He can't... I don't think... You can't just do it at will, can you Rick? I mean, you have to say something.

QUICK: No, do it at will. Let's see.

SANTELLI: Listen, all's I know is, is that there's only about 5% of the floor population here right now, and I talk loud enough they can all hear me. So if you want to ask 'em anything, let me know. These guys are pretty straight forward, and my guess is, a pretty good statistical cross-section of America, the silent majority.

QUICK: Not so silent majority today. So Rick, are they opposed to the housing thing, to the stimulus package, to everything out there?

SANTELLI: You know, they're pretty much of the notion that you can't buy your way into prosperity, and if the multiplier that all of these Washington economists are selling us is over... that we never have to worry about the economy again. The government should spend a trillion dollars an hour because we'll get 1.5 trillion back.

WILBUR ROSS: Rick, I congratulate you on your new incarnation as a revolutionary leader.

SANTELLI: Somebody needs one. I'll tell you what, if you read our founding fathers, people like Benjamin Franklin and Jefferson,... What we're doing in this country now is making them roll over in their graves.
UPDATE: Lawrence Kudlow followed up with a good rant of his own on Thursday:
President Obama’s massive mortgage-bailout plan is nothing more than a thinly disguised entitlement program that redistributes income from the responsible 92 percent of home-owning mortgage holders who pay their bills on time to the irresponsible defaulters who bought more than they could ever afford. This is Obama’s spread-the-wealth program in action.

Team Obama is rewarding bad behavior. It is enlarging moral hazard. It is expanding its welfarist approach to economic policy. And with a huge expansion of government-owned zombie lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Team Obama is taking a giant step toward nationalizing the mortgage market.
UPDATE: The Obama administration is certainly not feelin' the love, as Politico reports:
The White House is lashing out publicly and personally at a CNBC reporter whose attack on President Barack Obama’s anti-foreclosure plan caught fire on the Internet on Thursday.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs jumped at the chance to go after the CNBC journalist, Rick Santelli, when a question about his bracing critique was asked at Friday’s news briefing.

“I’ve watched Mr. Santelli on cable the past 24 hours or so. I’m not entirely sure where Mr. Santelli lives or in what house he lives but the American people are struggling every day to meet their mortgages, stay in their jobs, pay their bills, send their kids to school,” Gibbs said. “I think we left a few months ago the adage that if it was good for a derivatives trader that it was good for Main Street. I think the verdict is in on that,” the press secretary said, poking directly at the cable journalist, who reports from the trading floor at the Chicago Board of Trade.

Gibbs insisted Santelli was misinformed when he said Obama’s program would amount to a transfer of money from prudent taxpayers to those who had taken reckless risks.
So, Mr. Gibbs... If the money is not coming from the prudent taxpayers, where is it coming from?

UPDATE: CNBC's Becky Quick notes the response to Santelli's outburst:
"Dear CNBC,
Santelli is the man.
good day,
p.s. The rest of you are morons."

That's an actual e-mail that a viewer just sent us, at 11:22 this morning. There are about 5,000 others just like it that have flooded our e-mail box since yesterday morning, when Rick Santelli issued the shot heard round the world. And that's just in the Squawk e-mail box. Close to 1.4 million people have relived the moment on CNBC.com ... hundreds of thousands more have checked out bootleg copies on YouTube and other Web sites.

The Bizarro World of the U.S. Constitution

Vince Leibowitz, who runs the left-wing Texas politics website Capitol Annex, writes for Pegasus News:

A bizarre House Concurrent Resolution filed Tuesday by three members of the Texas House of Representatives would have the state claim “sovereignty” under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution over every power not specifically authorized the federal government in the U.S. Constitution and demands that Congress repeal any law requiring “states to comply under threat of civil or criminal penalties or sanctions or that requires states to pass legislation or lose federal funding be prohibited or repealed.”

Although the resolution, HCR 50, has no force of law whatsoever and, if passed, amounts to no more than an toothless demand made of congress on fancy paper sent by the Secretary of State, it could send the lower chamber of the legislature into a dizzying turmoil were it to ever hit the floor.

I can understand why Mr. Leibowitz considers the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to be bizarre. Think about it: in all of your years in grade school (especially if you went to public schools) and college, how many times did you ever hear the Tenth Amendment even mentioned, much less explained?

Many areas of the Constitution are no-go zones nowadays. The Tenth Amendment has long been walled off and hermetically sealed in some sub-basement of one of those zones.

The Texas resolution is little more than a symbolic protest of the fact that the federal government has essentially demolished a great number of the meaningful constitutional limits on its power. Once free of those limits, the federal tentacles have spread into just about every aspect of life in this country -- such as governance, commerce, health care, and even our choices about how we spend our personal time. This is evidenced by Leibowitz' sample list of federal programs that would be threatened if Congress went bizarre itself and submitted to the demands of HCR 50.

The limits of the Tenth Amendment probably could not be restored without an extremely long, painful and disruptive process of destruction and reconstruction that the citizens of this country -- regardless of political alignment -- have absolutely no stomach for.

I'm sure the sponsors of the HCR 50 know this. Perhaps they are like me, indulging every once in a while in some nostalgia about an America that is gone forever.

February 18, 2009

Russia warns against statist solutions to economic crisis

Talk about living in a topsy-turvy world.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Puting, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, has a message for western countries flirting with central planning of their economies: We tried it. It didn't work.

The Wall Street Journal has the complete transcript online. This excerpt is especially interesting:
Excessive intervention in economic activity and blind faith in the state's omnipotence is another possible mistake.

True, the state's increased role in times of crisis is a natural reaction to market setbacks. Instead of streamlining market mechanisms, some are tempted to expand state economic intervention to the greatest possible extent.

The concentration of surplus assets in the hands of the state is a negative aspect of anti-crisis measures in virtually every nation.

In the 20th century, the Soviet Union made the state's role absolute. In the long run, this made the Soviet economy totally uncompetitive. This lesson cost us dearly. I am sure nobody wants to see it repeated.

Nor should we turn a blind eye to the fact that the spirit of free enterprise, including the principle of personal responsibility of businesspeople, investors and shareholders for their decisions, is being eroded in the last few months. There is no reason to believe that we can achieve better results by shifting responsibility onto the state.
President Obama, are you listening?

Economic crisis gives death penalty opponents an unexpected opportunity

Some cash-strapped state governments have come up with a new way to save money: by shutting down death row. AFP, February 17:
In an unexpected twist to the economic crisis, several US states are weighing whether to abolish the death penalty as the execution process proves too great a drain on dwindling resources.

Death penalty laws remain on the books of 36 of the 50 US states, and capital punishment is supported by some two-thirds of the American public.

But across the nation, states as diverse and far-flung as Montana, Kansas, New Mexico and Maryland are among those actively considering abolishing capital punishment in a bid to overcome ballooning budget shortfalls.

"It is quite unusual that we've seen this blossoming of state legislative activity this year. It's because there is a renewed inspection of the death penalty," Steve Hall, director of the anti-capital punishment group Standdown, told AFP.

Most of the states involved in the move are those which have only executed a few people -- five or less -- in the past 30 years since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976. But "state legislators across America seem to be re-examining the death penalty," he said.

The financial savings could be considerable.

Carrying out the death penalty can leave a state footing a bill that is 10 times higher than for an inmate serving life imprisonment.

On top of a complex and lengthy process, appeals can last years and the prisoners are often represented by lawyers paid by the state.

Guarding death rows and death chambers are also costly items on a state's budget.
It is true that the death penalty process is horribly wasteful and inefficient -- decades of seemingly endless appeals can be quite a drain on the public treasury. But instead of finding ways to reduce the waste and inefficiency, legislators want to give up the process completely.

Something else is going on here.

The article excerpt shows that most of the states considering the abolition of the death penalty hardly ever carry it out in the first place, so it seems clear that the sentiment against capital punishment itself is already strong in those states.

It is hard to escape the conclusion that the economic crisis is providing political cover for death penalty opponents to end the practice altogether.

Public support for the death penalty remains strong. Public demand for the government to fix the economic crisis is also strong.

Just about every other constituency of the left has found a way to use the current chaos to their advantage. Death penalty opponents would be foolish to pass up an opportunity like this.

February 17, 2009

Comic books continue to push social, moral boundaries

I've known for many years that comic books, once the prized domain of young boys, have become adult-oriented, seemingly determined to go out of their way to shock the sensibilities of the older generations. Still, articles like this news.com.au one cause me to do a double-take (and cause me to wonder how this represents a step forward for our culture):
SHE first swung into action 50 years ago, helping her boyfriend Batman rid Gotham City of villains until she was killed off in 1979.

Now Batwoman is making a comeback, replacing Batman - who is missing, presumed dead - in the popular DC Comics series.

And this time around the superheroine's alter ego, Kathy Kane, is a red-headed lesbian.

Billed as a "lesbian socialite by night and a crime-fighter by later in the night", the new Batwoman is clad in a figure-hugging black outfit with knee-high red stiletto boots.

She is set to appear in at leasty 12 issues of the Detective Comics, the first of which will appear in June, the BBC reports.

"We've been waiting to unlock her - it's long overdue," DC Comics writer Greg Rucka said.

"Yes, she's a lesbian. She's also a redhead.

"If people are going to have problems with it, that's their issue."

February 16, 2009

Great Expectations: Did we just elect Willy Wonka?

Kidthing teamed up with the nonpartisan, nonpolitical National Education Association to present the hopes and dreams of our children to their dear leader, Barack Obama, as the Associated Press reported yesterday:
End war, forever. Make the planet greener. Please help my dad find work. Make it rain candy!

Thousands of kids detailed their hopes and expectations for President Barack Obama in letters and drawings as part of a worldwide project, with 150 chosen for a free e-book being released on Presidents Day.

Most had tall orders for the new guy in the White House.

Anthony Pape, 10, of Du Bois, Pa., offered: "I hope that we will have no war ever again. I mean why are we fighting why can't we all be friends."

Fellow 10-year-old Sasha Townsend of Soquel, Calif., had a similar request, and then some.

"I would appreciate it if you would try to make this a greener planet and try to bring home the troops and end the war," the fifth-grader wrote. "I am very luckey because I am not part of a military family, but it saddens me to hear about all the people who die in Iraque and know that somewhere In the world people are greiving over a lost family member."

Seven-year-old Aaron Van Blerkom's letter was simpler — but no less problematic.

"Dear Mr. Obama," the Pasadena, Calif., first-grader began, "Please Make it rain candy!"
As we read the article, we find that the fondest hopes and dreams of our nation's youth align quite nicely with the Democratic agenda.

Even the part about raining candy -- something Obama and the Democrats are attempting to do with the economic stimulus.

February 13, 2009

Abomination of Legislation passes House without GOP support -- Not entirely noble, but still the right choice

ABC News today:
The House passed the $787 billion economic stimulus bill by a vote of 246-183, although a week of negotiations and lobbying by President Obama failed to convince a single Republican to support the bill.

Instead of voting for the gargantuan package of tax cuts and public works spending, key Republicans made last ditch speeches denouncing the bill. Seven Democrats also voted against it.
House Minority Leader John Boehner, in explaining GOP opposition to the bill, says something rather curious:

"It's disappointing the way this process has worked, and the outcome," House Minority Leader John Boehner, waving the bulky report in his hands, said on the House floor. "Bad process leads to bad policy and that's what we have in my view. ... I hope it works but I surely have my doubts. ... This is the epitome of what I came here to stop."

"I'm going to vote no and I'm going to hope that next time. ... You'll include us and you'll include our ideas," the Ohio Republican said, clearly addressing Democratic leaders.

Am I reading this correctly? Is Boehner saying that this abomination of legislation is the result of bad process? That if, somehow, the Republicans and their ideas had been included in the process, they wouldn't be united in opposition?

Suppose that House Dems had included the Republicans, and that many Republican "ideas" ended up being included in the final bill -- let's say the final result was 40% Republican ideas and 60% Democrat ideas. Would the 40% the Republicans got be enough to get them to vote Yea, in spite of the mindboggling shortcomings of the 60% the Democrats got?

If you've got a better "spin" on Boehner's remarks, I'd love to hear it.

And now, it's on to the Senate, where it's almost certain that the GOP opposition will not be unanimous.

What Congress thinks qualifies for emergency funding

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell highlights some of the lowlights of the "stimulus" bill. Apparently, things like these are so critical to our economy's survival that, as President Obama assures us, "we don't have a moment to spare" in rushing this bill into law.

Taxpayers Take Home “$8 A Week” While They Pay Billions For Golf Cart Tax Breaks, New Cars For Government Bureaucrats, ACORN-Eligible Block Grants, Fish Hatcheries, An Arts Endowment, And The Census

*** Due to the unfinished nature of the product currently available for review on the House Rules Committee website, page numbers are likely to change.

• Tax Benefits For Golf Carts, Electric Motorcycles and ATVs: (Pg. 60 of the Tax Division of Conference Report, lines 9-16, “(2) SPECIFIED VEHICLE.—The term ‘specified vehicle’ means any vehicle which—‘‘(A) is a low speed vehicle within the meaning of section 571.3 of title 49, Code of Federal Regulations (as in effect on the date of the enactment of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Tax Act of 2009), or ‘‘(B) has 2 or 3 wheels.”)

• $300 Million For Federal Employee Company Cars: (Pg. 90 of the Appropriations Division of the Conference Report, lines 7-13, “For capital expenditures and necessary expenses of acquiring motor vehicles with higher fuel economy, including: hybrid vehicles; electric vehicles; and commercially-available, plug-in hybrid vehicles, $300,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2011”)

• $1 Billion For ACORN-Eligible Block Grants: (Pg. 261 of the Appropriations Division of the Conference Report, lines 11-18, “For an additional amount for “Community Development Fund” $1,000,000,000 to remain available until September 30, 2010 to carry out the community development block grant program under title I of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 (42 U.S.C. 5301 et seq.)”)

• $50 Million For An Arts Endowment: (Pg. 143 of the Appropriations Division of the Conference Report, lines 11-25, and lines 1-3 of Pg. 144, “For an additional amount for “Grants and Administration”, $50,000,000, to be distributed in direct grants to fund arts projects and activities which preserve jobs in the non-profits arts sector threatened by declines in philanthropic and other support during the current economic downturn: Provided, That 40 percent of such funds shall be distributed to State arts agencies and regional arts organizations in manner similar to the agency’s current practice and 60 percent of such funds shall be for competitively selected arts projects and activities according to sections 2 and 5(c) of the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 951, 954(c)): Provided further, That matching requirements under section 5(e) of such Act shall be waived.”)

• $165 Million For Fish Hatcheries: (Pg. 133 of the Appropriations Division of the Conference Report, lines 21-25, and lines 1-2 of Pg. 134, For an additional amount for “Resource Management”, for deferred maintenance, construction, and capital improvement projects on national wildlife refuges and national fish hatcheries and for high priority habitat restoration projects, $165,000,000.”)

• $1 Billion For The Census: (Pg. 36 of the Appropriations Division of the Conference Report, lines 1-4, Bureau of the Census, Periodic Censuses and Programs. For an additional amount for “Periodic Censuses and Programs,” $1,000,000,000.”)


ASSOCIATED PRESS: “Next year, the measure could yield workers about $8 a week.” (“Economic stimulus package on track for final votes,” Associated Press, 02/12/09)

(Via Red State)

Another reason to fear Friday the 13th

How appropriate that on Friday the 13th -- a day associated by many with ill fortune -- Congress is preparing to pass an $800 BILLION "stimulus" bill that is in reality little more than an attempt to stimulate the reelection chances of our senators and representatives (via strategic bribery of the electorate).

Our congressfolks are undoubtedly intimately aware of the sections in the 1000-page bill that are directly related to their pet projects, but it is also quite likely that they have little significant knowledge of everything else that is in there. But, as CNSNews reports today, that won't stop many of them from voting for it [typos in original]:
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) predicted on Thursday that none of his Senate colleagues would "have the chance" to read the entire final version of the $790-billion stimulus bill before the bill comes up for a final vote in Congress.

“No, I don’t think anyone will have the chance to [read the entire bill],” Lautenberg told CNSNews.com.

The final bill, crafted by a House-Senate conference committee, was posted on the Website of the House Appropriations Committe late Thurday in two PDF files.

[...] Both Republicans and Democrats told CNSNews.com they were eager to read the unseen bill--once they could get get their hands on a copy of the final legislation.

Nonetheless, members from both sides of the aisle in both the House and Senate admitted they doubted they would have adequate time to read the bill before they actually voted for it.

“Certainly I hope to have the opportunity to go through [the bill] before the vote takes place,” said Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) told CNSNews.com. “But that’s something I’ve found doesn’t always happen around here.”
Whether from principle or from the fact that this gives them political cover, some Republicans have stated this as one of the reasons they will vote against "Porkulus" (one of the popular derogatory nicknames for the bill on the internet: pork + stimulus = porkulus).

Whatever their reason for voting against, more power to them. This bill must die.

UPDATE: For good measure, here's what Rep. John Shadegg has to say about it over at RedState:
How fitting is it that the stimulus bill is coming to a strong-arm vote on Friday the 13th?

This entire process has been a horror story. The exclusion of Republicans. The pork and paybacks for special interests. The secret, closed-door meetings. The mammoth bill text kept hidden until hours before the vote.

But of course the greatest horror is not the process – it is the product. At the end of the day we have an economic stimulus without economic stimulus. A recovery package that the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office says will shrink the GDP. An historic transfer of wealth and power to the federal government – which the government has no plans of returning to the people.

Commonsense Americans have been expressing their concern, frustration and outrage for weeks. But Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid – and yes, President Obama – have not listened.

With the clock ticking before this vote, we must continue sounding the alarm. We must raise our voices. We may lose the day – but do not let history record that we went down without a fight.

Congressional Switchboard: (202) 224-3121

February 9, 2009

Go ahead and have another child, you planet-hater

In 2007 we heard about Toni Vernelli, who saw getting an abortion as a moral duty in light of the AGW crisis. We also heard from an Australian researcher who proposed that any family having more than two children should buy what amounts to an excess-child carbon offset to atone for these kids' share in the destruction of the planet.

It's been more than a year, and you just haven't been paying attention, have you? Some of you have even gone ahead and made more babies, haven't you? And let's not even get started on Nadya Suleman, who just birthed octuplets.

Scott Kotler at Psychology Today's blog has a message for you: You're unbelievably selfish, you're a resource thief, and you're a murderer.

Kotler believes that a global population of 2 billion people is the utter limit of sustainability, and that we need to get right on to the task of reducing the human headcount to that level.

His solution: STOP HAVING KIDS FOR FIVE YEARS. Everybody, everwhere. This isn't quite as far-reaching as the solution of the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, to wit, that we stop having kids forever, but it is extreme nonetheless.

We have spent the past 4000 years trying to shrug off the nightmare that is Biblical advice. We no longer sanction slavery or believe it okay to stone a woman to death for wearing sexy clothing or any of that other nonsense—but go forth and multiply?

Got to be the worst advice in the history of the world.

And sure, a five year ban won’t fix all of this and it raises some questions as well—like how do we insure that year six won’t produce an influx of offspring?

So here’s my answer: Personal responsibility. A grassroots movement means we mean it. It means people having children in year six would feel shame and embarrassment at their unbelievable selfishness.

And yeah, if you are having children right now you are being selfish. You’re stealing. Stealing from the future. Stealing from the rest of humanity. Stealing from every living thing on the earth right now.


We are soon going to be killing each other over resources, just like we’ve always killed each other over resources—only this next time it won’t be over something to put in our gas tanks. It’ll be over something to put in our belly.

And it won't be an isolated incident, it'll be a global catastrophe.

That’s our future. That’s what happens if we don’t stop having children. In fact, if we don’t stop having children then we’re going to get to meet another bad Biblical idea head on: the four horseman of the apocalypse.

Pestilence, War, Famine, Death.

How can he be any more clear? If you don't get with the program, the death of our planet from climate change will be on your conscience.

(Message cross-posted on The Global Warming Heretic)

Do foster parents have a duty to PREVENT the religious conversion of children in their care?

At least one town council in England appears to think so, as The Telegraph reported February 8. After removing the young woman from foster care, they even tried to persuade her to convert back to her former religion:
A foster mother with 10 years' experience was struck off after a Muslim girl in her care converted to Christianity, it has emerged.
The woman has been banned by her local council for failing to prevent the teenager from getting baptised, even though the girl was 16 and made up her own mind to change religion.
The carer, a churchgoer in her 50s who has fostered more than 80 children, has now been forced to move out of her home.
She has lost the farmhouse she rented to look after vulnerable teenagers, due to the loss of income.
The foster mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, insists that she did not pressurise the teenager to convert, and actually tried to discourage her initial interest.
The girl, who is now 17, was taken into care after being assaulted by a family member, saw baptism "as a washing away of the horrible things she had been through and a symbol of a new start," the woman said.
"I offered her alternatives. I offered to find her places to practise her own religion.
"I offered to take her to friends or family. But she said to me from the word go: 'I am interested and I want to come [to church]'."
The carer claims that social services were aware that the girl was attending her evangelical church, and council bosses only objected when she they found out she had been baptised.
Officials advised the teenager to reconsider her decision and stop attending Christian meetings, and in November struck the carer off their register, claiming she breached her duty of care as a foster parent.
"They consider that in some way she should have taken steps to prevent the conversion," said solicitor Nigel Priestley, who is representing the carer.
He is demanding a judicial review into the council's decision, claiming they have breached Article 9 of the Human Rights Act, which guarantees freedom of religion for both the carer and the girl.
He said that the teenager, who is now back with her parents, was "distressed" that her private faith had had such repercussions, and is supporting her former carer's legal bid.
It is clear that the teen does not regret her decision to convert, but no matter.

Remember: it's not discrimination unless it happens to a politically-favored victim group. Britain's government, bending over backward to show how tolerant it is, takes just about every opportunity it can to atone for the centuries of Christianity's dominance there. It's just not fair that Christianity should continue to dominate -- so the government aims to do all it can to help level the playing field.

(Image stolen from Searching for Liberty)

February 6, 2009

Our sexist recession

Liberals typically agree with the notion that "disparate impact" is de facto evidence of discrimination. Even if an institution or a policy wasn't intended to discriminate, if one of the politically favored victim classes is disproportionally negatively affected by said institution or policy, BAM! It's discrimination.

The key, of course, is the term "politically favored victim class" -- if the victims are not politically favored, there is no discrimination.

Which is why the following February 6 AHN story is a non-story:
With mass lay offs in the U.S. taking place in the manufacturing and construction sectors, employed female workers may surpass males since 82 percent of the recorded job losses involved men.

Experts attribute the rising male unemployment to more women being employed in the education and health care sectors, which are not as affected with the economic downturn as traditionally male-dominated industries.
If eighty percent of the job losses had involved women instead of men, you wouldn't have to go to a second-tier news site (no offense, AHN) to read about it.

February 2, 2009

President Obama's ingenius plan to get tax cheats to pay up

Scott Ott notes:
Obama Plan Has Already Boosted IRS Tax Collections

(2009-01-31) — In office less than two weeks, President Barack Obama has already increased tax receipts at the U.S. Treasury with an innovative plan to get tax-dodgers to pay up, in full, immediately.

“The president’s plan is simple but ingenious,” said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, “He targets wealthy individuals who filed inaccurate tax forms, cheating the government out of tens of thousands of dollars. Then he just nominates them for cabinet positions. They suddenly see the error of their ways, and they cut checks for the full amount owed, plus interest.”

In the month of January alone, Mr. Obama has forced Timothy Geithner, former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, to cough up $43,000 he owed the IRS, and former Sen. Tom Daschle to pay off his $128,000 tax obligation. Mr. Geithner will put his tax-paying experience to good use, overseeing the IRS as Secretary of the Treasury. Mr. Daschle hopes his recently-good behavior will garner Senate confirmation as the next Secretary of the Health and Human Services.

Hey, Hollywood! Time to walk the talk!

Writing for Big Hollywood, blogger Iowahawk pokes fun at movie stars whose lifestyles belie their claims to be concerned about the environment:
A Go-Green Guide for the Hollywood Community

More than ten years after the Kyoto accords, our planet continues to careen helplessly toward certain environmental destruction. The skies are choked with pollutants. Adorable helpless polar bears plunge through thinning ice caps. Ben Affleck still can’t find a decent comeback project.

The signs are ominous, but it’s not too late to do something. As a member of the entertainment community, you are uniquely qualified to save our planet from coming climate disaster. But it will take more than raising awareness — it will take action. Have your personal assistant add these 10 to-dos to your Blackberry, and let’s get the Earth on the road to recovery!

1. Reduce Water Consumption. One single dripping faucet or flushed bidet may not seem to be much of an environmental threat, but those numbers really add up when you’re hosting an NRDC fundraiser for Laurie David and all 10 of your bathrooms are in use. When possible, encourage guests to pee in the pool, and remind them that “if it’s yellow, let it mellow.” Unless you’re serving asparagus canapes.

2. “Green Begins At Home.” Whether you live in East Hampton or Topanga Canyon, there are dozens of little things you can do around your compound to reduce your carbon footprint. For instance, tell your groundskeeping crew to plant a tree. Save your leftover foie gras to grow your own homemade organic Botox. Turn off your energy wasting security cameras between 1 AM and 7 AM. If you own a vanity cattle ranch in Montana, email the trail boss and tell him/her to add Beano to your herd’s feed to reduce ozone-depleting methane emissions.

3. Upgrade To a New Gulfstream G550. Next time you take off for Cannes or Sundance or that big Environmental Defense Fund gala, stop and think how much fuel that clunky old G450 is using. Not only does the new G550 have real burled walnut and 10.8% better fuel efficiency, it has smoother ride — meaning 20% fewer annoying turbulence-related Cristal and cocaine spills. And with a maximum cruising speed of Mach 0.885 you’ll never be late for the red carpet at the Palm d’Or!

4. Crush a Third World Economic Development Movement. One of the most pressing threats facing our environment is rising income in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. A generation ago these proud little dark people were happily frolicking in the rain forest, foraging for organic foods amid the wonders of nature. Today, corrupted by wealth, they are demanding environmentally hazardous consumer goods like cars and air conditioning and malaria medicine. You can do your part to stop this dangerous consumerism trend by supporting environmentally progressive leaders like Hugo Chavez and Robert Mugabe, and their programs for sustainable low-impact ecolabor camps.
The remaining suggestions are well worth the read.

(Cross-posted at The Global Warming Heretic)