Sunday, January 31, 2010

Too good to be true? Our self-obsessed, self-dealing political class on history's scrap heap?

A year ago, the Tea Party movement didn't exist. Today, it is arguably the most popular political entity in America. The movement is already more popular than the Republican or Democratic parties, according to a recent NBC / WSJ poll .

Even in blue-state California, three in 10 voters identify with the Tea Party movement.

And, of course, Scott Brown's come-from-behind blowout in Massachusetts occurred in no small part because of money and volunteers from the Tea Party movement around the nation.

This is heady stuff -- and, for people in the political establishment, both Republicans and Democrats, it's worrying stuff. If political movements can bubble up from below, and self-organize via the Internet, what will happen to the political class?

Minnesotans shocked, shocked to find their new wind turbines don't work in winter weather

UN "expert" on climate change based claim of melting Himalayan glaciers on anecdotes

The United Nations' expert panel on climate change based claims about ice disappearing from the world's mountain tops on a student's dissertation and an article in a mountaineering magazine.

Officials were forced earlier this month to retract inaccurate claims in the IPCC's report about the melting of Himalayan glaciers. The revelation will cause fresh embarrassment for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which had to issue a humiliating apology earlier this month over inaccurate statements about global warming.

However, it can be revealed that one of the sources quoted was a feature article published in a popular magazine for climbers which was based on anecdotal evidence from mountaineers about the changes they were witnessing on the mountainsides around them.

The other was a dissertation written by a geography student, studying for the equivalent of a master's degree, at the University of Berne in Switzerland that quoted interviews with mountain guides in the Alps.

The revelations, uncovered by The Sunday Telegraph, have raised fresh questions about the quality of the information contained in the report, which was published in 2007.

45% believe random selection would produce a better Congress; 12% think it's doing good job

During his State-of-the-Union address Wednesday night, President Obama spoke about a deficit of trust between the American people and political leaders. New Rasmussen Reports polling on the president’s speech shows just how deep that trust deficit has become.

The president in the speech declared that his administration has cut taxes for 95% of Americans. He even chided Republicans for not applauding on that point. However, just 21% of voters nationwide believe that taxes have been cut for 95% of Americans. Most (53%) say it has not happened, and 26% are not sure. Other polling shows that nearly half the nation’s voters expect their own taxes to go up during the Obama years.

It’s important to note that the deficit of trust applies to all politicians, not just President Obama. “Americans are united in the belief that our political system is broken, that politicians are corrupt, and that neither major political party has the answers,” according to Scott Rasmussen in his new book, In Search of Self-Governance,

Seventy-five percent (75%) of Republican voters say their party’s representatives are out of touch with the party’s base. Other data shows that, among all voters, 45% believe people randomly selected from the phone book would do a better job than the current Congress. Only 36% disagree. Overall, only 12% say that Congress is doing a good or an excellent job.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The revolution must be over: the UAW is selling its $33 million lakeside resort in northern Michigan

Legend has it that during a brutal contract bargaining session, Harry Bennett, Henry Ford's enforcer, attempted to break the tension by passing around snapshots taken during a visit to Maxon Lodge, a gorgeous hideaway in the woods of northern Michigan.

Walter Reuther, architect of the United Auto Workers' rise, looked over the photographs, tossed them on the table and said to Bennett: "Come the revolution, we'll own that place."

It was no idle threat. In 1967, flush with cash from a bulging membership, the UAW purchased the lodge and 1,000 acres on Black Lake.

And, as often happens with revolutionaries, the temptations of power were too strong to resist.

The UAW turned the lodge into a stunning and sprawling $33 million complex, adding another 200 acres and a $6 million golf course rated among the best 100 public courses in the nation.

Although it bills itself as an education center, it is actually a world-class resort, long a favorite spot for the union's leaders to unwind. Reuther, who made the place his personal retreat, died in a plane crash on his way to Black Lake in 1970. His ashes are scattered on the grounds.

But today a "For Sale" sign hangs from the resort, which has required more than $25 million in subsidies from the union's depleted treasury over the past five years. The UAW's membership has fallen to roughly 430,000, from a peak of 1.5 million in 1979.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Climate watchdog knew before Copenhagen summit that Himalayan glaciers weren't melting

The chairman of the leading climate change watchdog was informed that claims about melting Himalayan glaciers were false before the Copenhagen summit, The Times has learnt.

Rajendra Pachauri was told that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment that the glaciers would disappear by 2035 was wrong, but he waited two months to correct it. He failed to act despite learning that the claim had been refuted by several leading glaciologists.

The IPCC’s report underpinned the proposals at Copenhagen for drastic cuts in global emissions.

Dr Pachauri, who played a leading role at the summit, corrected the error last week after coming under media pressure. He told The Times on January 22 that he had only known about the error for a few days. He said: “I became aware of this when it was reported in the media about ten days ago. Before that, it was really not made known. Nobody brought it to my attention. There were statements, but we never looked at this 2035 number.”

Asked whether he had deliberately kept silent about the error to avoid embarrassment at Copenhagen, he said: “That’s ridiculous. It never came to my attention before the Copenhagen summit. It wasn’t in the public sphere.”

However, a prominent science journalist said that he had asked Dr Pachauri about the 2035 error last November. Pallava Bagla, who writes for Science journal, said he had asked Dr Pachauri about the error. He said that Dr Pachauri had replied: “I don’t have anything to add on glaciers.”

The Himalayan glaciers are so thick and at such high altitude that most glaciologists believe they would take several hundred years to melt at the present rate. Some are growing and many show little sign of change.

White House won't support health care for injured residents and rescuers at Twin Towers collapse

The Obama administration stunned New York's delegation Thursday, dropping the bombshell news that it does not support funding the 9/11 health bill.

The state's two senators and 14 House members met with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius just hours before President Obama implored in his speech to the nation for Congress to come together and deliver a government that delivers on its promises to the American people.

So the legislators were floored to learn the Democratic administration does not want to deliver for the tens of thousands of people who sacrificed after 9/11, and the untold numbers now getting sick.

"I was stunned — and very disappointed," said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who like most of the other legislators had expected more of a discussion on how to more forward.

"To say the least, I was flabbergasted," said Staten Island Rep. Mike McMahon.

The 9/11 bill would spend about $11 billion over 30 years to care for the growing numbers of people getting sick from their service at Ground Zero, and to compensate families for their losses.

Kimberley Strassel: In stoking his political base, Obama stifled economic recovery

The problem with fires is that they can blow in any direction. Consider the White House, which is seeing a backdraft from the anti-Wall-Street flame it has been dousing with gasoline.

His agenda on the ropes, President Obama made a calculated decision to pivot to populism. The Massachusetts Senate race highlighted a fed-up public. The White House strategy: Channel that anger away from itself and to easier targets. Its opening shots were a new tax on banks, new restrictions on banking activities, and Mr. Obama roaring, "We want our money back!"

The president fed the fire with his State of the Union address. Americans are angry at "bad behavior on Wall Street." It is time to "slash the tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas." Lobbyists are trying to "kill" financial regulation. American "cynicism" is the result of "selfish" bankers, CEOs who "reward" themselves "for failure" and lobbyists who "game the system." (No mention of Cornhusker Kickbacks or backroom union deals, but never mind.)

For an administration that claims to know its political history, the White House appears to have misread at least one decade. FDR was re-elected in 1936 for many reasons, but among them was his fiery denunciations of "economic royalists," "economic tyranny," and "economic slavery." Business knew it was in the president's crosshairs and put its capital on strike. The economy didn't recover until the war.

Team Obama is already witnessing a repeat. The U.S. economy ought to be flying out of recession. Yet bank lending is sluggish. Companies refuse to hire. Business is going elsewhere to raise capital: China last year outstripped the U.S. as a center for initial public offerings. The market gyrates on Washington's latest political drama.

.A venture capitalist recently remarked to me that the uncertainty the administration has created is "nothing short of paralyzing."

"Obama was elected ... because he is black"

You don't pick brain surgeons by the color of their skin. You pick them by competence only. Same thing with airplane pilots. But we have allowed the profoundly irrational liberal media to persuade the American public that we are supposed to pick a U.S. president by affirmative action. Obama was elected to universal Hosannas because he is black. It wasn't a secret. That's why the Left around the world went into ecstasies when Obama ran and got elected.
We've been using affirmative action to hire and promote teachers and cops and to popularize movie stars and media heroes. We've had a generation of affirmative action agitprop, 24/7/365. Hillary Clinton was going to dictate racial and gender preferences for medical school admissions under HillaryCare. You can bet that reverse-racism is all over the 2,200 pages of ObamaCare. It's reverse-racism forever!

In America today, competence is suspect, and incompetence gets all the attention. Yet competence is what keeps us alive.

Affirmative action was allowed by the Supreme Court as a temporary exception to the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution until blacks had the same opportunities others did. It has now been about forty years, and the goal posts have just moved farther and farther Left. Today it's not just blacks -- it's women, homosexuals, and illegal aliens. And it's no longer equality of opportunity, but equality of outcome, which was the goal of Communism for seventy years in the Soviet Union, until the whole Soviet Empire crumbled as a result.

What's driving Hitler nuts today? The iPhone

Hug Hewitt and Sen. Kyl on cramdown of Obamacare

Most question government's handling of crisis, want free market solutions to problems

A new national poll finds a crisis of confidence on economic issues among Americans – and younger Americans (those 18-29) – alike.

Among the key findings, Americans and Millennials:

• Are not confident in the government’s ability to handle the economic crisis. (59% of Americans; 55% of Millennials)

• Want a free market approach and oppose greater government regulation of business. (55% of Americans; 53% of Millennials)

• Believe the country is headed in the wrong direction. (67% of Americans; 60% of Millennials)

• Want the same set of moral standards in business life as in personal life. (75% of Americans; 66% of Millennials)

• See business decisions based on greed as morally wrong. (74% of Americans; 77% of Millennials)

• Think their careers will be negatively impacted for the long-term by the current economic situation (55% of Americans under 65 years old; 55% of Millennials).

“A year into the Obama administration, we find that Americans – and younger Americans – are having a crisis of confidence,” says Carl Anderson, CEO of the Knights of Columbus, the group that commissioned the poll. “People are increasingly pessimistic about the government's ability to handle the economic crisis and a majority believes that increased government regulation will hurt the economy.”

How social engineering by government made U.S. vulnerable to Russian scheming

Jan. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Russia urged China to dump its Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bonds in 2008 in a bid to force a bailout of the largest U.S. mortgage-finance companies, former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said.

Paulson learned of the “disruptive scheme” while attending the Beijing Summer Olympics, according to his new memoir, “On The Brink.”

The Russians made a “top-level approach” to the Chinese “that together they might sell big chunks of their GSE holdings to force the U.S. to use its emergency authorities to prop up these companies,” Paulson said, referring to the acronym for government sponsored entities. The Chinese declined, he said.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Who will shout "You lie" during Obama's speech?

Tonight, President Obama will unveil his State of the Union.

Said one well connected Democrat last night, “Things are so bad there is a betting pool on which DEMOCRAT screams ‘You Lie!’ tomorrow night.” Well, tomorrow night is now arrived.

Arthur Laffer says Obama's economic policies taking U.S. toward a "train wreck" in 2011

Arthur Laffer, creator of the Laffer Curve that showed how low tax rates boost economic growth, is warning anyone who will listen that the economy is headed for a “train wreck” in 2011 that will make the current recession look tame by comparison.

The famed economist, whose supply-side, tax-cutting policies enacted by President Reagan in 1981 put the economy on a record-breaking, 25-year economic trajectory of growth and prosperity, is telling Americans not to be lulled by sporadic signs of growth this year, because the economy is headed for a sharper decline next year when tax rates are expected to jump sharply, sending the economy into a new tailspin.

“It will make the decline in U.S. output from 2010 to 2011 worse than the decline in output in 2008 and 2009 which will catastrophic,” Laffer said in an interview with HUMAN EVENTS.

In a wide-ranging discussion about where the economy is headed, and the fiscal, tax and monetary reasons why, Laffer gives a bleak forecast of where President Obama and his administration are taking the country in the next three years -- which he predicts will end with Obama’s defeat in 2012.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Obama's outstretched hand has yielded nothing but rebuffs from the world's dictators

...Mr. Obama's first year in office amounts to a long parade of rebuffs. His inaugural address famously offered the world's dictators an outstretched hand in exchange for an unclenched fist. From North Korea, he got missile and nuclear tests. From Iran, he got a contemptuous rejection of his extraordinary offer to enrich uranium for it. From Cuba, Fidel Castro said last month that "the empire's real intentions are obvious, this time beneath the kindly smile and African-American face of Barack Obama." From Venezuela, Hugo Chávez is now comparing Mr. Obama to the devil, a shtick he first tried out on George W. Bush back when liberals thought it was kind of funny.

Of course these are America's enemies, so we probably should not have expected better even if Mr. Obama seemed to believe we might. What about our (ostensible) non-enemies? The president pre-emptively conceded the Czech and Polish missile-defense bases to Russia in hopes of getting Moscow to take a tougher line on Tehran's nuclear programs. The Kremlin isn't biting. Neither is China, never mind Mr. Obama's gratuitous snub last year of the Dalai Lama.

As for the Muslim world that Mr. Obama has been at such pains to court (the Cairo and Ankara speeches, his opposition to Gitmo and the war in Iraq, etc.), the 2009 Pew Global Survey that measures opinions about the U.S. finds as follows: Turkey, 14% favorable views of the U.S.; Palestinian territories, 15%; Pakistan, 16%; Jordan, 25%; Egypt, 27%. Granted, this is up slightly from the last year of the Bush administration, but only by a couple of percentage points on average. So that's the great Obama perception dividend?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Obama is obsessed by health care; public ranks it eighth among priority issues

Poverty = vulnerability: Despite $8.4 billion in foreign aid, Haiti is poorer than it was in 1980

Economic growth has made it possible for countries around the world, increasingly including developing nations, to mitigate damage done by "acts of God." Growth typically brings sturdier construction, insurance schemes, better infrastructure, a more diversified economy, an improved ability to respond to emergencies, access to savings and credit, and so on. Unfortunately, growth has bypassed Haiti. Despite receiving more than $8.4 billion in foreign aid since 1980, Haiti is poorer today than it was 30 years ago.

The sustained lack of freedom goes a long way in explaining the precarious nature of Haitian's lives.

Haiti's poverty—80 percent of Haitians live on less than $2 per day—is especially tragic given the strong link between poverty and vulnerability to natural disasters. A study by the Belgium-based Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters looked at a recent 30-year period comparing natural disasters in the world's 10 richest countries to those in the 10 poorest countries. The center found that the average annual number of victims per 100,000 population per rich country was 36; for the poor countries it was 2,879 even though rich countries experience the same amount of disasters.

Why is Haiti so vulnerable? Its insular economic policies and dysfunctional institutions have kept Haitians poor. While developing countries around the world have successfully implemented economic reforms and significantly increased growth by participating in globalization, Haiti has not. It ranks in the bottom half of nations listed in the Fraser Institute's economic freedom index, and its rating has barely improved since 1980. The sustained lack of freedom goes a long way in explaining the precarious nature of Haitian's lives.

Those who think U.S. is off the track favored Obama in 2008 but oppose him in 2010

WASHINGTON (AP) - Voter discontent with the direction of the government, economy and the health care overhaul helped send Republican Scott Brown to his Senate victory in Massachusetts, a poll says.

About 63 percent of Massachusetts voters in Tuesday's election said the country is seriously off track, and Brown won two-thirds of those voters, according to the poll by The Washington Post, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard University's School of Public Health.

In contrast, Barack Obama had solid support from the more than 80 percent of Massachusetts voters in the presidential election who viewed the country as off-course in November 2008.

Nearly two-thirds of those who supported Brown over Democrat Martha Coakley said their vote was intended partly to show opposition to the Democratic agenda in Washington, including the health care overhaul.

Friday, January 22, 2010

In test run, Huckabee beats Obama, surpasses Republican rivals among independent voters

Mike Huckabee has a 45-44 advantage over Obama, aided largely by a 44-38 lead with independents. There continues to be no evidence of any negative fallout for Huckabee after murders of police officers committed by an ex-Arkansas inmate whose sentence he had commuted. His 35/29 favorability breakdown is actually slightly better than it was in November before that incident.

Mitt Romney does the next best, trailing Obama 44-42. His favorability is 36/32, and he's the most popular Republican among independents (41/32). Romney actually matches Huckabee with GOP voters this month and gets over 50%, ending a trend in his numbers that had seemed to spell difficulty for snagging a Republican nomination.

Sarah Palin trails Obama 49-41 largely because she loses 14% of the Republican vote to him, making her the only one of the GOP candidates we tested who Obama could get double digit crossover support against. At the same time Palin continues to be the most well liked potential GOP candidate within her party- at 71% favorability. Her problem appears to be that the Republicans who don't care for her will go so far as to vote for Obama instead of her.

Click on this headline to go to draft Larry Kudlow web site in opposition to Sen. Chuck Schumer

Ann Coulter explains the American poitical system

...for the past four decades, American politics has consisted of Republicans controlling Washington for eight to 14 years -- either from the White House or Capitol Hill -- thus allowing Americans to forget what it was they didn't like about Democrats, whom they then carelessly vote back in. The Democrats immediately remind Americans what they didn't like about Democrats, and their power is revoked at the voters' first possible opportunity.

Obama has cut the remembering-what-we-don't-like-about-Democrats stage of this process down from two to four years to about 10 months. Folks, I'm convinced that if we all work really hard, we can get it down to three months.

Four years of Jimmy Carter gave us two titanic Reagan landslides, peace and prosperity for eight blessed years -- and even a third term for his feckless vice president, George H.W. Bush.

Two years of Bill Clinton gave us a historic Republican sweep of Congress, which killed the entire Clinton agenda (with the exception of partial-birth abortion and felony obstruction of justice) -- and also gave us two terms for George W. Bush.

And now, merely one year of Obama and a Democratic Congress has given us the first Republican senator from Massachusetts in 31 years.

Why does the econmy stubbornly refuse to recover? Obama is seen as inept, antibusiness

U.S. investors overwhelmingly see President Barack Obama as anti-business and question his ability to manage a financial crisis, according to a Bloomberg survey.

The global quarterly poll of investors and analysts who are Bloomberg subscribers finds that 77 percent of U.S. respondents believe Obama is too anti-business and four-out-of-five are only somewhat confident or not confident of his ability to handle a financial emergency.

The poll also finds a decline in Obama’s overall favorability rating one year after taking office. He is viewed favorably by 27 percent of U.S. investors. In an October poll, 32 percent in the U.S. held a positive impression.

“Investors no longer feel they can trust their instincts to take risks,” said poll respondent David Young, a managing director for a broker dealer in New York. Young cited Obama’s efforts to trim bonuses and earnings, make health care his top priority over jobs and plans to tax “the rich or advantaged.”

Peggy Noonan sees U.S. recovering its conservative bearing, as Noonan also seems to be doing

Ted Kennedy took his era with him. But what has begun is something new and potentially promising.

President Obama carried Massachusetts by 26 points on Nov. 4, 2008. Fifteen months later, on Jan. 19, 2010, the eve of the first anniversary of his inauguration, his party's candidate lost Massachusetts by five points. That's a 31-point shift. Mr. Obama won Virginia by six points in 2008. A year later, on Nov. 2, 2009, his party's candidate for governor lost by 18 points—a 25 point shift. Mr. Obama won New Jersey in 2008 by 16 points. In 2009 his party's incumbent governor lost re-election by four points—a 20-point shift.

In each race, the president's party lost independent voters, who in 2008 voted like Democrats and in 2010 voted like Republicans.

Is it a backlash? It seems cooler than that, a considered and considerable rejection that appears to be signaling a conservative resurgence based on issues and policies, most obviously opposition to increased government spending, fear of higher taxes, and rejection of the idea that expansion of government can or will solve our economic challenges.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Buyer's remorse is rampant among U.S. voters, but they won't have a return desk for three years

Americans were giddy about getting rid of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, but they are clearly suffering from buyer's remorse a year later.

The seeds of Obama's current political dilemma were sown the day of his inauguration. The expectations heaped on his shoulders were clearly impossible to sustain, and there was little effort by his administration to dampen the "hope" that had propelled him from first-term senator to first African-American president. And when those expectations weren't met, someone had to be held accountable.

Polling done over the past 30 days paints a very clear picture of a president who has fallen short of expectations:

• Only 39 percent of the country would vote to re-elect Obama, according to a National Journal poll, while 50 percent would "definitely" or "probably" vote for someone else. This is significant. George W. Bush is the only candidate in modern times to win re-election with less than half of the country expressing a desire to re-elect him.

• According to Gallup, Obama has suffered the greatest fall in approval of any elected president since the company started ongoing tracking during the Eisenhower administration. Obama came into office with the approval of two out of every three voters (67 percent) but ended his first year with just half the electorate (50 percent) offering a positive evaluation of his performance. Only the unelected Gerald Ford fared worse in the court of public opinion.

• It's not just the Obama agenda that is under attack. It is his philosophy that has America balking. For example, Americans are increasingly returning to the conservative ideology they held before the perceived failures of the Bush administration crushed conservative self-identification levels. According to Gallup, fully 40 percent of Americans now identify themselves as conservative, compared with just 21 percent who call themselves liberal.

• And finally, while the Republican brand has barely moved since its electoral disasters of 2006 and 2008 and remains unpopular, Democratic popularity has collapsed as well. Most surveys now have the GOP even or even slightly ahead in the generic congressional ballot, and Americans now see the Republicans to be as good if not better in handling the economy.

But the single most damning polling result doesn't mention Obama or his administration or even government in general. Rather, it's the collapse of intergenerational optimism that had characterized American attitudes and driven the American spirit of achievement for more than half a century.

One more reason to hate Congress: Arlen Specter

JFK's unionization of federal work force made Democrat Party a public-sector dependency

The central battle in our time is over political primacy. It is a competition between the public sector and the private sector over who defines the work and the institutions that make a nation thrive and grow.

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy planted the seeds that grew the modern Democratic Party. That year, JFK signed executive order 10988 allowing the unionization of the federal work force. This changed everything in the American political system. Kennedy's order swung open the door for the inexorable rise of a unionized public work force in many states and cities.

This in turn led to the fantastic growth in membership of the public employee unions—The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the teachers' National Education Association.

They broke the public's bank. More than that, they entrenched a system of taking money from members' dues and spending it on political campaigns. Over time, this transformed the Democratic Party into a public-sector dependency.


It is this Kennedy legacy, the public union tax and spend machine, that drove blue Massachusetts into revolt Tuesday.

Supreme Court strikes some prohibitions against corporate and union campaign spending

The U.S. Supreme Court today struck down part of the landmark McCain-Fiengold campaign finance bill that prevented union and corporate-paid issue ads in the final days of election campaigns. The court also ruled that cooperations can spend as much as they want to support candidates for Congress of President.

In a 5-4 decision in Citizens United v. FEC, the court overturned a 20-year-old ruling that said corporations can be prohibited from using money from their general treasuries to pay for their own campaign ads.

Under the ruling, corporations and unions will still be prohibited from giving direct contributions to candidates.

The majority opinion fell in line with those who argued stricter limits on campaign finance amounted to an unconstitutional muzzle on free speech.

"The censorship we now confront is vast in its reach," Justice Anthony Kennedy said in his majority opinion, joined by his four conservative colleagues.

Redecorating the living room as the house tumbles

Democratic demagoguery and hubris never fails to amaze. On the morning after the Massachusett's miracle or the revolt against out-of-touch lawmakers, we in Lansing, MI were greeted by two articles in the morning paper that help put the statist democrats into perspective: "Michigan to Furlough 17000 State Workers" and "First Gentlemen's Office Make-Over Just Routine."

While thousands of state workers, represented in Michigan of course by the UAW, will take 10 unpaid furlough days to help the state save money, the Governor's husand recently had his office remodeled. A concerned citizen emailed the paper:

"Thought you would be interested in the following: Dan Mulhern, the governor's husband, who has an office in the (Romney Building), paid for by Michigan taxpayers, is having his office remodeled. New carpet, paint ... all new everything!

"And just last weekend the state brought in workers, on overtime, to rip out all of the old (carpet) from his office ...

"What are they thinking when this state is in such a financial mess?"

An administration spokesperson confirmed the construction calling it "routine" and dismissing the whole matter by saying it cost less than $5,000. The state journal writer was provided an email response, that said in part:

"The First Gentleman does not have an office budget, per se. At this time he has one staff person, who is actually a member of the governor's executive office staff, who is assigned to assist Dan in the work he's doing on behalf of the administration."

Rasmussen: If midterm elections were held today, Dems would be down to 52 senators

With Tuesday night’s upset by Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts, the GOP gained more than just a 41st vote to disrupt the Obama agenda. As attention turns to the midterm elections in November, the Republican Party has strong momentum. A few months ago, even GOP leaders said that taking over the Senate was a pipe dream, and it is still not probable. But as some independents sour on the Democratic Party, the possibility for a GOP majority can no longer be dismissed out of hand. More likely, next year’s Senate will still have a Democratic majority but be much more closely balanced between Democrats and Republicans.

In fact, it is likely that the Republicans will gain at least 3 to 5 Senate seats in November. Even more startling, in the aftermath of the Massachusetts special election, Republicans would do even better IF the general election were being held today. The Crystal Ball projects that the Democratic majority in the Senate would be reduced to just 52 seats if November’s contests were somehow moved to January.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

U.S. economy falls to 8th freest in Heritage index

The United States’ economic freedom score is 78.0, making its economy the 8th freest in the 2010 Index. Its score is 2.7 points lower than last year, reflecting notable decreases in financial freedom, monetary freedom, and property rights. The United States has fallen to 2nd place out of three countries in the North America region.

The U.S. government’s interventionist responses to the financial and economic crisis that began in 2008 have significantly undermined economic freedom and long-term prospects for economic growth. Economic freedom has declined in seven of the 10 categories measured in the Index.

Uncertainties caused by ongoing regulatory changes and politically influenced stimulus spending have discouraged entrepreneurship and job creation, slowing recovery. Leadership in free trade has been undercut by “Buy American” provisions in stimulus legislation and failure to pursue previously agreed free trade agreements with Panama, Colombia, and South Korea. Tax rates are increasingly uncompetitive, and massive stimulus spending is creating unprecedented deficits. Bailouts of financial and automotive firms have generated concerns about property rights.

Hitler flies into a rage when he finds out Obama's agenda has crashed in Massachusetts

Perhaps leftists will now return to something they often do well: making music out of sadness

Who knew that FDR's happy crooners would sing the anthem for our own time?

Haiti is vulnerable to earthquakes because its policies are a prescription for poverty

HaiAs tragic as the Haitian calamity is, it is merely symptomatic of a far deeper tragedy that's completely ignored, namely self-inflicted poverty. The reason why natural disasters take fewer lives in our country is because we have greater wealth.

It's our wealth that permits us to build stronger homes and office buildings. When a natural disaster hits us, our wealth provides the emergency personnel, heavy machinery and medical services to reduce the death toll and suffering. Haitians cannot afford the life-saving tools that we Americans take for granted.

President Barack Obama called the quake "especially cruel and incomprehensible." He would be closer to the truth if he had said that the Haitian political and economic climate that make Haitians helpless in the face of natural disasters are "especially cruel and incomprehensible."

The biggest reason for Haiti being one of the world's poorest countries is its restrictions on economic liberty.

Zuckerman: Obama ignored main issue, pursued "revolting" and "corrupt" course on priorities

He’s misjudged the character of the country in his whole approach. There’s the saying, “It’s the economy, stupid.” He didn’t get it. He was determined somehow or other to adopt a whole new agenda. He didn’t address the main issue.

This health-care plan is going to be a fiscal disaster for the country. Most of the country wanted to deal with costs, not expansion of coverage. This is going to raise costs dramatically.

In the campaign, he said he would change politics as usual. He did change them. It’s now worse than it was. I’ve now seen the kind of buying off of politicians that I’ve never seen before. It’s politically corrupt and it’s starting at the top. It’s revolting.

U.S. workers paying price for Obama's fixation on growing government instead of jobs

Monday, January 18, 2010

New web site for college reformers

We've had the Tea Party protests, the overdue collapse of the global warming charade and the, and the rapidly vanishing Obama adoration. Now, as if on cue, we have Let's hope the growing examination leads to a cleanup of our liberal arts colleges.

Now that climate change has become a tree ring circus, Himalayan glaciers no longer are melting

A WARNING that climate change will melt most of the Himalayan glaciers by 2035 is likely to be retracted after a series of scientific blunders by the United Nations body that issued it.

Two years ago the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a benchmark report that was claimed to incorporate the latest and most detailed research into the impact of global warming. A central claim was the world's glaciers were melting so fast that those in the Himalayas could vanish by 2035.

In the past few days the scientists behind the warning have admitted that it was based on a news story in the New Scientist, a popular science journal, published eight years before the IPCC's 2007 report.

It has also emerged that the New Scientist report was itself based on a short telephone interview with Syed Hasnain, a little-known Indian scientist then based at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi.

Hasnain has since admitted that the claim was "speculation" and was not supported by any formal research. If confirmed it would be one of the most serious failures yet seen in climate research. The IPCC was set up precisely to ensure that world leaders had the best possible scientific advice on climate change.

Patrick Kennedy: ...the next senator from Massachusetts...what was your name again?

As audience members streamed out of Pres. Obama's rally on behalf of AG Martha Coakley (D) here tonight, the consensus was that the fault for Coakley's now-floundering MA SEN bid lies with one person -- George W. Bush.

"People are upset because there's so many problems," Rosemary Kverek, 70, a retired Charleston schoolteacher said as tonight's rally wrapped up. "But the problems came from the previous administration. So we're blaming poor Obama, who's working 36 hours a day ... to solve these problems that he inherited."

Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), speaking with a gaggle of reporters after the event, said that while state Sen. Scott Brown (R) offers voters a quick fix, in reality, the problems created by "George Bush and his cronies" are not so easily solved.

"If you think there's magic out there and things can be turned around overnight, then you would vote for someone who could promise you that, like Scott Brown," Kennedy said. "If you don't, if you know that it takes eight years for George Bush and his cronies to put our country into this hole ... then you know we have a lot of digging to do, but some work needs to be done and this president's in the process of doing it and we need to get Marcia Coakley to help him to do that."

(Curiously, Kennedy mentioned Coakley repeatedly during his remarks to reporters, each time referring to her as "Marcia," not "Martha.")

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Dissed by Obama in July, Cambridge police endorse Republican Scott Brown for Senate in MA

In July, the very last time Barack Obama held a press conference, Obama took the time to offer his thoughts on the professionalism of the Cambridge Police Department in their arrest of his friend Henry “Skip” Gates. After saying that Sergeant James Crowley “acted stupidly” despite not having “all the facts,” several of Crowley’s colleagues expressed their support of him by announcing that they wouldn’t vote for Obama in 2012. Their union has found a way to make their displeasure known much earlier — by endorsing Scott Brown over Martha Coakley:


There are a couple of points of embarrassment here. First, Coakley’s husband, as Killion notes, was a former Cambridge police officer. Not only didn’t that give Coakley an edge, the 11-2 vote shows that it didn’t make much difference at all. Note too that the union opposes Coakley expressly on ObamaCare, but from the perspective of protecting their collective bargaining ability. They’re accusing her of being more or less anti-union, an interesting charge coming from any union towards a Democrat.

The other embarrassment comes with having an AG get opposed by a police union, which we saw in Worcester as well. We missed another instance of a police organization turning its back on the highest-ranking law enforcement officer in the state earlier this week, too — when the State Police Association of Massachusetts endorsed Scott Brown.

Why wait three years?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Krauthammer: magic gone because Obama too left

WASHINGTON -- What went wrong? A year ago, he was king of the world. Now President Obama's approval rating, according to CBS, has dropped to 46 percent -- and his disapproval rating is the highest ever recorded by Gallup at the beginning of an (elected) president's second year.

A year ago, he was leader of a liberal ascendancy that would last 40 years (James Carville). A year ago, conservatism was dead (Sam Tanenhaus). Now the race to fill Ted Kennedy's Senate seat in bluest of blue Massachusetts is surprisingly close, with a virtually unknown state senator bursting on the scene by turning the election into a mini-referendum on Obama and his agenda, most particularly health care reform.

A year ago, Obama was the most charismatic politician on earth. Today the thrill is gone, the doubts growing -- even among erstwhile believers.

Liberals try to attribute Obama's political decline to matters of style. He's too cool, detached, uninvolved. He's not tough, angry or aggressive enough with opponents. He's contracted out too much of his agenda to Congress.

These stylistic and tactical complaints may be true, but they miss the major point: The reason for today's vast discontent, presaged by spontaneous national Tea Party opposition, is not that Obama is too cool or compliant but that he's too left.

Failing economy points to "colossal miscalculation" by White House fixated on healthcare issue

Honorable and intelligent people can disagree over the substance and details of what President Obama and congressional Democrats are trying to do on health care reform and climate change. But nearly a year after Obama's inauguration, judging by where the Democrats stand today, it's clear that they have made a colossal miscalculation.

The latest unemployment and housing numbers underscore the folly of their decision to pay so much attention to health care and climate change instead of focusing on the economy "like a laser beam," as President Clinton pledged to do during his 1992 campaign. Although no one can fairly accuse Obama and his party's leaders of ignoring the economy, they certainly haven't focused on it like a laser beam.

Could joblessness still be above 9 percent when the 2012 presidential election year begins?

Last week's disappointing December unemployment report was the final blow in what was already a bad week for Democrats. One of the most sobering findings in the report was that if 661,000 Americans had not given up even looking for work that month, the unemployment rate would have moved up rather than holding steady at a horrific 10 percent.

Most economists had been expecting an increase of about 50,000 jobs in December; instead, the total declined by 85,000. Some 6.1 million Americans, the highest number in the post-World War II era, have been unemployed for 27 weeks or more. The "U-6" rate of unemployment, which adds in people who are working part-time while seeking full-time work and those who have stopped looking, stands at 17.3 percent, the highest level in the 15 years that the Labor Department has calculated it.

Ben Nelson booed out of Omaha pizzeria

Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson and his wife were leaving dinner at a new pizza joint near their home in Omaha one night last week when a patron began complaining about Nelson’s decisive vote in favor of the Senate’s health care bill.

Other customers started booing. A woman yelled, “Get him the hell out of here!” And the Nelsons and their dining companions beat a hasty retreat.

“It was definitely a scene in there,” said Tom Lewis, a 41-year-old dentist and registered Republican who witnessed the incident. A second witness confirmed the incident to POLITICO.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Where's the upturn? Obama has presided over America's slowest economic turnaround

Foreign born workers in U.S.

Things so tough the UAW is selling its retreat

The United Auto Workers is hoping to sell its $33 million lakeside retreat in northern Michigan, long a symbol of the union's success but now a financial liability.

The UAW cited the recession and shrinking membership as reasons it is seeking a buyer for the Walter and May Reuther Family Education Center, located on 1,000 heavily forested acres near Onaway. The union bought the property in 1967.

The center, named for the union's iconic leader, was a jewel in which many UAW members took great pride. It is expected to go on the market yet this month.

The property includes the top-notch Black Lake Golf Club and the ashes of Reuther and his wife, who died along with four others when their small plane crashed en route to the property in 1970.

The center recently became a target of critics who grumbled that the UAW shouldn't keep such a luxury while hundreds of thousands of its members have lost their jobs or taken buyouts or early retirement as the domestic auto industry restructured.

The facility lost an estimated $23 million in the past five years and the UAW was forced to borrow to keep it afloat, according to filings with the U.S. Labor Department.

Popularity spent while getting nothing done, Obama staggers into unpromising second year

A year into his tenure, a majority of Americans would already vote against Pres. Obama if the '12 elections were held today, according to a new survey.

The Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor poll shows 50% say they would probably or definitely vote for someone else. Fully 37% say they would definitely cast a ballot against Obama. Meanwhile, just 39% would vote to re-elect the pres. to a 2nd term, and only 23% say they definitely would do so.

Obama's first year in office has been marked by an unemployment rate that surged to 10%, an increased commitment of troops to Afghanistan and a health care battle that has taken a serious political toll on the WH.

Obama's approval rating is down to 47%, the poll showed, a 14-point drop since the April survey. 45% disapprove, up 17 points from April. Only 41% say they trust Obama more than Congressional GOPers, while 33% pick the GOP over the WH. That 8-point gap is down from a 21-point edge Obama sported as recently as Sept.

Just 34% say the country is moving in the right direction, down 13 points since April, and 55% say it is off on the wrong track, up 13 points over the same period.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Scott Brown overmatches media tool David Gergen

U.S. is on brink of historical no-growth debt limit

WASHINGTON — A new report that reviewed 200 years of economic data from 44 nations has reached an ominous conclusion for the world’s largest economy: Almost without exception, countries that are as highly indebted as the United States is today grow at sub-par rates.

The report was written by two respected academic researchers who recently published a thick book on eight centuries of economic crises.

The study by Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff — well-regarded economists from the University of Maryland and Harvard University, respectively — found statistical breaks at different points in the relationship between a country’s national debt and its gross domestic product. GDP is the broadest measure of a country’s trade in goods and services.

When a nation’s debt exceeds 60 percent of its GDP, its growth rate slows precipitously, the study found. When that ratio exceeds 90 percent, nations’ economies barely grow, and can even contract.

The U.S. national debt is at roughly 84 percent of the country’s GDP, and it is projected to cross the authors’ 90 percent threshold late this year or early next year.

The implication is stark: The authors don’t say that the U.S. economy can’t grow briskly despite even higher debt, but if it does, it would be an outlier in roughly 200 years of economic statistics.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Rasmussen: 55 % oppose Obamacare

Voter expectations that the health care legislation before Congress will become law have reached a new high, but most are still opposed to the plan.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that just 17% believe passage of the legislation will achieve the stated goal of reducing health care costs. Fifty-seven percent (57%) think it will lead to higher costs.

Fifty-two percent (52%) also believe passage of the legislation will lead to a decline in the quality of care.

Overall, 40% of voters nationwide favor the health care reform plan proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats. Fifty-five percent (55%) are opposed. As has been the case throughout the debate, those who feel strongly about the issue are more likely to be opposed. Just 19% of voters Strongly Favor the plan while 45% are Strongly Opposed.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Clueless White House kicks away intel gold mine

WASHINGTON -- On Wednesday, Nigerian would-be bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was indicted by a Michigan grand jury for attempted murder and sundry other criminal charges. The previous day, the State Department announced that his visa had been revoked. The system worked.

Well, it did for Abdulmutallab. What he lost in flying privileges he gained in Miranda rights. He was singing quite freely when seized after trying to bring down Northwest Flight 253 over Detroit. But the Obama administration decided to give him a lawyer and the right to remain silent. We are now forced to purchase information from this attempted terrorist in the coin of leniency. Absurdly, Abdulmutallab is now in control.

And this is no ordinary information. He was trained by al-Qaeda in Yemen, and just days after he was lawyered up and shut up, the U.S. was forced to close its embassy in Yemen because of active threats from the same people who had trained and sent Abdulmutallab.

This is nuts.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Adjusted by climate scientists, actual temperatures in New Zealand went up instead of down

Whistleblower may collect on climate fraud

As I said yesterday, one of our jobs this year is to wipe the complacent smiles off the smug faces of the lobbyists, “experts”, “scientists”, politicians and activists pushing AGW.

This is why I am so glad to report that Michael Mann – creator of the incredible Hockey Stick curve and one of the scientists most heavily implicated in the Climategate scandal – is about to get a very nasty shock. When he turns up to work on Monday, he’ll find that all 27 of his colleagues at the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University have received a rather tempting email inviting them to blow the whistle on anyone they know who may have been fraudulently misusing federal grant funds for climate research.

Under US law, regardless of whether or not a prosecution results, the whistleblower stands to make very large sums of money: it is based on a percentage of the total government funds which have been misused, in this case perhaps as much as $50 million.

No rise in atmosheric carbon dioxide in 150 years

ScienceDaily (Dec. 31, 2009) — Most of the carbon dioxide emitted by human activity does not remain in the atmosphere, but is instead absorbed by the oceans and terrestrial ecosystems. In fact, only about 45 percent of emitted carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere.

However, some studies have suggested that the ability of oceans and plants to absorb carbon dioxide recently may have begun to decline and that the airborne fraction of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions is therefore beginning to increase.

Many climate models also assume that the airborne fraction will increase. Because understanding of the airborne fraction of carbon dioxide is important for predicting future climate change, it is essential to have accurate knowledge of whether that fraction is changing or will change as emissions increase.

To assess whether the airborne fraction is indeed increasing, Wolfgang Knorr of the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol reanalyzed available atmospheric carbon dioxide and emissions data since 1850 and considers the uncertainties in the data.

In contradiction to some recent studies, he finds that the airborne fraction of carbon dioxide has not increased either during the past 150 years or during the most recent five decades.

Friday, January 1, 2010

How has the war in Afghanistan made U.S. safer?

How has occupying two nations at a cost of 5,000 dead, 35,000 wounded and a trillion dollars made us safer from an enemy that more resembles the Apache of Geronimo than the panzers of Rommel?

If protection of the homeland against another Sept. 11 is the goal of this war, how relevant to that goal is the building of clinics and schools in Kabul and keeping the Taliban at bay in Helmand?

Are we fighting other people's wars, rather than our own war?

We Americans are today widely hated in the Arab and Islamic world by scores of millions, out of whom al Qaeda need but recruit a few hundred suicide bombers to wreak havoc on our country.

Does having 200,000 U.S. troops in their part of the world, fighting and killing Muslims, make our country more secure than defending our borders, keeping radicals out, running al Qaeda down, and tracking and killing them where they are?

To win the war we are in, we have to fight the war we are in, not the war we prefer to fight because no one else is so good at it.

"We the Living," a 1940s movie based on an Ayn Rand autobiographical novel, is available in DVD

An extraordinary film just came out on DVD which couldn’t be more timely. It’s about a fiercely outspoken, beautiful woman trapped in a country rapidly descending into socialism, with the government steadily ratcheting up control over all aspects of life

The movie is We the Living, based on the Ayn Rand novel of the same title. Rand said that this work “is as near to an autobiography as I will ever write.”

Conservatives and libertarians have long lamented the scarcity of movies that depict the evils of communism. Let’s see, there’s Doctor Zhivago, The Killing Fields, The Lives of Others, and ... well, now there’s We the Living — a long-lost classic filmed in 1942, and now available on DVD for the first time ever.

We the Living takes place soon after the Bolshevik takeover of Russia, which Rand experienced as a young woman. The stunning Alida Valli plays Kira, a fiery college student who detests the communists ruining her country. (Valli is perhaps best known to American audiences for her indelible performances in The Third Man and The Paradine Case.)