Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Bond buyers trust Buffett more than Uncle Sam

For many decades, U.S. government securities have been the epitome of safe, dull investments. If you wanted to be absolutely positive you'd get your money back and then some, Treasury bills were the way to go. Right now, lots of Americans who put their money into big mortgages or stocks a decade ago wish they had gone the more mundane route.

But it's mundane no more. With federal budget deficits running wild, investors are growing uneasy at the idea of lending money to an institution that seems unable to stop spending beyond its means. Last month, something extraordinary happened: Two-year bonds offered by Berkshire Hathaway Inc. commanded lower yields than those offered by the U.S. government. As put it, "The bond market is saying that it's safer to lend to Warren Buffett than Barack Obama."

That may sound common-sensical — Buffett has experience at meeting payrolls, while Obama does not — but it's actually a surprising perception. Berkshire Hathaway, after all, conceivably could make so many mistakes that it runs out of money and closes down. But the U.S. government is not about to run out of money, even if it keeps overspending.

Why not? First, it can appropriate more of its citizens' earnings through the tax system. Second, and more important, it can print money to pay its bills. Warren Buffett doesn't have those options.

So it's hard to see why investors would be leery. Well, actually, it's not so hard: The federal government is digging itself deeper into debt every month and intends to keep doing so indefinitely.

Lansing State Journal says Gov. Jennifer Granholm on "shaky ground" in home day care controversy

If you received an unemployment check, do you think that qualifies you as a member of some kind of “unemployed union”? Would you expect the state, on your behalf, to deduct money from your payment to unionize you against some obscure agency that the state itself created?

Ridiculous, right? Well, it appears the Granholm administration has created a similar scheme with day-care providers who receive payments from the state to watch the children of the needy.

And when the Legislature tried to short-circuit this scheme by eliminating state funding for the obscure agency, the Department of Human Services kept right on going, using money from another account.

In an explanation to Sen. Bill Hardiman, R-Kentwood, DHS Director Ismael Ahmed said the state had entered into an "interlocal agreement" to provide services, thereby obligating DHS to fund the obscure agency - the Michigan Home Based Child Care Council - regardless of what the Legislature wanted.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm and her team are on the shakiest of ground. The work of DHS is too important to have it embroiled in such a political scheme.

These day-care providers are not state employees. They are independent contractors using their homes to provide a service. How can they form a union? Who are they unionizing against?

Who is the "employer?"

It just so happens that the state provides users of the service - needy families - with subsidies. That's a public policy, not a mediation of the employment market.

The state also provides a homestead exemption on property taxes - a lucrative one. Does that mean the state should create an agency to help homeowners organize a union against the local governments and assessors involved in determining the value of and taxes on a dwelling?

Some of the day-care providers, backed by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, are suing against the dues. In a filing to the Michigan Supreme Court, they say dues collection started in January 2009 and may have raised as much as $3.7 million in that year alone.

If the Granholm administration wants to discuss payment rates or working conditions in day care, fine. It should be pointed out though that the state already exercises licensing and regulatory powers over the field.

But collecting union dues from subsidy payments by using an "interlocal agreement" appears to be nothing more than a ploy to advance a particular group's interests without the messy involvement of the Legislature or the people of this state.

Shaky ground, governor, shaky ground.

Introducing Stephen Hill, Public Risk Manager of the Year in 2005, said to be a multitasker

Head of His Class

Whoever said men can't multitask never met Stephen A. Hill. With myriad responsibilities as a public risk manager, he has made the juggling act of running a major urban school system look easy.

Stephen A. Hill has always appreciated a good challenge. That's how the Texas native wound up in the Motor City, running the risk management department of the 10th largest urban school district in the nation and the largest in the state of Michigan. As the executive director of risk management for the Detroit Public School System, he is responsible for overseeing 300 schools, about 148,000 students and 22,000 employees--32 of which work in the risk management department.

He had originally planned to work in the radio or television industry, after earning a master's degree in communications from the University of Texas at El Paso in 1972. But all that changed in the course of two hours, in a meeting he had with a marketing manager from Aetna Life and Casualty Insurance Co. The man asked for 20 minutes of Hill's time to explain the opportunities in the corporate and international casualty insurance industry. Hill was hooked. Impressed by the possibilities for professional growth and the scope of service opportunities, he switched his career focus and never looked back.

Hill spent 18 weeks attending 12-hour classes at the Aetna Home Office Sales School in Hartford, Conn., and began working as a marketing representative in the San Antonio office of Aetna Life and Casualty. A year later, he was transferred to the insurance carrier's Detroit office via a promotion. Michigan has been his home ever since.

After working in marketing positions with large insurance carriers, including Aetna and Transamerica, Hill moved on to sales and account management positions with agencies and brokerages, including Frank B. Hall and Johnson & Higgins. His introduction into the world of public risk management came in 1986, when he was named risk manager of the city of Flint, Mich. Six months later, he was appointed deputy city administrator by then-Mayor James A. Sharp.

"The deputy city administrator job actually gave me some political clout and provided me with invaluable experience in executive municipal management and local politics," says Hill.

It was that position that opened the door for him to become the first risk manager of the Detroit Public Schools in 1993, and later the director of risk management for Cook County, Ill. Hill eventually returned to Detroit Public Schools to become executive director of risk management in 2001.

His hard work and dedication in the public arena was recognized by his peers in 2005, when the Public Risk Management Association and Trident Insurance Services LLC named him Public Risk Manager of the Year. The award is presented each year to an individual "who exemplifies what it means to be a public risk manager through a continual display of innovation and commitment to the field."

"Stephen Hill is someone others in the industry can look up to and emulate," says Marshall Davies, PRIMA's former interim executive director. "He has demonstrated his role as a leader in the public risk arena, and came out on top of the criteria collectively used to identify the Public Risk Manager of the Year."

(Please read the next post)

Detroit schools risk management officer accused of briskly generating risk by stealing $57 million

Who could have been surprised to read that Stephen Hill, a former risk-management officer for the troubled school district, is accused of diverting $57 million for phony contracts? Even the irony here -- someone in charge of risk management ripping off his employer -- fails to shock, given the steady stream of news about how thoroughly corrupt city schools have been.

Yet $57 million is no pittance, and it speaks volumes about the school district's accounting practices that Hill is alleged to have swindled that much without being detected or stopped. What family or business could be so impervious to a similar hemorrhaging of its own funds?

Stimulating the better off

"Jesus finally got through" - to White House agenda

The Cartel

Jamie Gorelik has new task; what could go wrong?

Jamie Gorelik is a member of a private group pushing for a rewrite of online privacy laws. William A. Jacobson, a law professor who blogs at Legal Insurrection, asks, "What could possibly go wrong?"

Here's why: As a staffer in the U.S. Attorney General's office, Gorelik drafted a memorandum that effectively erected a wall between intelligence gathering and law enforcement. That wall subsequently hampered the FBI's investigation of Zacarias Moussaoui in connection with 9/11.  Later, she became a lobbyist for Fannie Mae, where she benefited from Enron-style accounting that resulted in big bonuses for those in charge.

Now in private practice in Washington, D.C., Gorelik is part of a coalition that hopes to bring about a rewrite of online privacy laws.

Click on the headline to read Legal Insurrection.

World temperatures move by "jerks and jumps;" saving the planet "is a lot of nonsense"

The man who achieved global fame for his theory that the whole earth is a single organism now believes that we can only hope that the earth will take care of itself in the face of completely unpredictable climate change.

Interviewed by Today presenter John Humphrys, videos of which you can see below, he said that while the earth's future was utterly uncertain, mankind was not aware it had "pulled the trigger" on global warming as it built its civilizations.

'We're not really guilty. We didn't deliberately set out to heat the world.'

What is more, he predicts, the earth's climate will not conveniently comply with the models of modern climate scientists.

As the record winter cold testifies, he says, global temperatures move in "jerks and jumps", and we cannot confidently predict what the future holds.

'The world doesn't change its climate conveniently.'

Prof Lovelock does not pull his punches on the politicians and scientists who are set to gain from the idea that we can predict climate change and save the planet ourselves.

Scientists, he says, have moved from investigating nature as a vocation, to being caught in a career path where it makes sense to "fudge the data."

'Science has changed in our lifetime.'

And while renewable energy technology may make good business sense, he says, it is not based on "good practical engineering."

Renewable technology 'doesn't really work.'

At the age of 90, Prof Lovelock is resigned to his own fate and the fate of the planet. Whether the planet saves itself or not, he argues, all we can do is to "enjoy life while you can."

Trying to save the planet 'is a lot of nonsense.'

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

John Stossel on the magic nuclear energy bullet

Congress now spends your money on a host of intrusive new programs designed to make America "energy independent." President Obama recently announced $8 billion in loan guarantees for nuclear power plants.

I smiled when I heard. Finally, even Democrats woke up to the benefits of nuclear power. But Cato Institute energy analyst Jerry Taylor set me straight:

"If nuclear power made economic sense, we wouldn't need to subsidize it."

Affordable nuclear power, says Taylor, is a Republican fantasy. Promoting it makes no more sense than Nancy Pelosi's promotion of wind and solar power. "Take a Republican speech about nuclear power, cross out the phrase 'nuclear,' and put in 'solar' — you've got a Democratic speech about energy."

All these "alternative" fuels are economically impractical. Natural gas is practical. And plentiful.

Obamacare = generational theft

Remember those lower health insurance premiums Obamacare would bring us? Don’t count on it—especially if you’re young. The Associated Press reports that a new analysis by Rand Health predicts premiums for young adults could rise as much as 17 percent under the new law.

The new age rating requirement is the culprit. It bars insurers from charging older patients much more than their younger, healthier customers. Today, the AP notes, “Insurers typically charge six or seven times as much to older customers as to younger ones in states with no restrictions. The new law limits the ratio to 3-to-1….” So how will insurers make up the difference? It will be “will be shouldered by young people in the form of higher premiums."

Unions have snared 40,000 Michiganians through government shenanigans; is it a pilot program?

Gov. Jennifer Granholm's administration appears to be carrying out an audacious experiment in Michigan that could lead to the involuntary unionization of tens of millions of Americans.

At issue is a simple question: Can care givers be designated government employees simply because their customers receive public assistance?

The Granholm administration says yes. As a result, some 40,000 home day care providers have been enrolled in public employee unions, their dues subtracted from day care payments and paid directly by the state to the unions.

If the system survives court challenges, it seems likely that the Obama administration could apply it to other government programs, perhaps including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

The pilot program, if that is what it is, would explain why President Barack Obama administration seems to be deliberately trying to extend government aid to more and more people.  It also would account for Obama's determined effort to place SEIU  lawyer Craig Becker, who holds radical views on union questions, on the National Labor Relations Board.

Democrat Gov. Granholm, officials of the state Department of Human Services, and a union front named Child Care Providers Together Michigan came up with a scheme to designate all home care providers who benefit from state assistance as state employees. Any provider whose clients receive assistance falls into that group.

The United Auto Workers and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees are on course to negotiate with the Michigan Home Based Child Care Council representing the providers.

Only 15 percent of the providers voted in the union certification election. Nevertheless, the unions were granted exclusive bargaining rights.

The state now deducts union dues from the checks it sends to the providers and forwards the money directly to the unions. That's about $3.7 million a year.

Imagine the windfall for the unions if that system was replicated in Washington for the millions who receive Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, veterans benefits and other payments from government.

The free-market oriented Mackinac Center Legal Foundation, a public interest law firm, filed suit in the Michigan Court of Appeals arguing that Human Services illegally took money from day care providers to force them into a government employees union. The suit was dismissed, but has been refiled.

In February, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation filed a class action against government union officials and the Granholm administration on grounds they illegally forced the providers to pay union dues. The suit argues that the union scheme violates the Constitution's gurantees of free political expression and association.

Last Saturday, the story took another interesting turn when President Obama placed Becker on the National Labor Relations Board through a recess appointment. The appointment had been filibustered by Republicans because of Becker's radical views.

Becker has argued that "employers should be stripped of any legally cognizable interest in their employees' election of representatives." Taken at face value, that means Becker favors universal unionization and more union control over small businesses.

In a 1993 Minnesota Law Review article, written when he was a UCLA professor, he explained that traditional notions of democracy should not apply in union elections. He wrote that employers should be barred from attending NLRB hearings about elections, and from challenging election results even amid evidence of union misconduct. He argues that elections should be removed from work sites and held on "neutral grounds," or via mail ballots. Employers should also be barred from "placing observers at the polls to challenge ballots," he maintains.

The Wall Street Journal writes, "More extraordinary, Mr. Becker advocated a new 'body of campaign rules' that would severely limit the ability of employers to argue against unionization. He argued that any meeting a company holds that involves a 'captive audience' ought to be grounds for overturning an election. If a company wants to distribute leaflets that oppose the union, for example, Mr. Becker said it must allow union access to its private property to do the same.

Mr. Becker isn't clear about which of these rules can be implemented by NLRB fiat, and which would require an act of Congress, but his mindset is clear enough. He's willing to push NLRB discretion as far as possible to tilt today's labor rules in favor of easier unionization."

Rasmussen: 52% disapprove of Obama's work

Monday, March 29, 2010

72% disapprove of Congressional performance

The jury is in, and Democrats did indeed get a slight bump from healthcare reform. But will the sausage-making do them in?

Tucked away inside a new Washington Post/ABC News poll is a key figure — 72 percent. That’s the percentage of voters who disapprove of the job Congress is doing, and the number hasn’t been that high since — you guessed it — the week before the 1994 election.

The Cornhusker Kickback and Gator-aid — two controversial provisions in the healthcare bill — are a couple of attractively named and accessible reasons why people don’t like how Congress operates. And at no point in the last 16 years has that picture been so clear to voters.

George Soros affiliated Human Rights Watch's military expert collected swastikas

At the headquarters of Human Rights Watch, more than 30 storeys above the noise and bustle of Manhattan, there is so much high-mindedness hanging in the air you can almost taste it. This is the epicentre of a certain type of socially smart, progressive activism — the kind that persuades Hollywood grandees, power lawyers and liberal financiers to dig deeply into their pockets.

When the story broke that one of the organisation’s most prominent and vocal members of staff might be a collector of Nazi-era military memorabilia it felt like some sort of sexual scandal had erupted in the Victorian church. For a lobbying group accustomed to adulatory coverage in the media, it was a public-relations catastrophe.

Human Rights Watch is one of two global superpowers among the world’s myriad humanitarian pressure groups. It is relatively young — established in its current form in 1988 — but it has grown so quickly in size, wealth and influence that it has all but eclipsed its older, London-based rival, Amnesty International.

Unlike Amnesty, HRW, as it is known, gets its money from charitable foundations and wealthy individuals — such as the financier George Soros — rather than a mass membership. And, also unlike Amnesty, it seeks to make an impact, not through extensive letter-writing campaigns, but by talking to governments and the media, urging openness and candour and backing up its advocacy with research reports. It is an association that is all about influence — an influence that depends on a carefully honed image of objectivity, expertise and high moral tone. So it was perhaps a little awkward that a key member of staff was found to have such a treasure trove of Nazi regalia.

By day, Marc Garlasco was HRW’s only military expert, the person that its Emergencies Division would send to conflict zones to investigate alleged war crimes. He wrote reports condemning the dropping of cluster bombs in the Russia-Georgia war, the alleged illegal use of white phosphorus by the Israeli army in Gaza and coalition tactics that he said “unnecessarily” put Iraqi or Afghan civilians at risk. An enthusiastic source of quotes for the media, he was incessantly on the phone to journalists.

But by night, Garlasco was “Flak88”, an obsessive contributor to internet forums on Third Reich memorabilia and an avid collector of badges and medals emblazoned with swastikas and eagles.

Daily Caller describes high life of Michael Steele

While Steele has not purchased a plane, he continues to charter them. According to federal disclosure records, the RNC spent $17,514 on private aircraft in the month of February alone (as well as $12,691 on limousines during the same period). There are no readily identifiable private plane expenses for Democratic National Committee chairman Tim Kaine in the DNC’s last three months of filings.

The RNC explains that Steele charters jets only when commercial service is unavailable, or when his tight schedule requires it. “Anytime the chairman has taken any private travel has been a either to a route that doesn’t exist or because of connections and multiple travel to where he just wasn’t able to do so,” Heye said. Yet Steele’s office repeatedly refused to explain in specific terms the circumstances of the February charter flights.

Once on the ground, FEC filings suggest, Steele travels in style. A February RNC trip to California, for example, included a $9,099 stop at the Beverly Hills Hotel, $6,596 dropped at the nearby Four Seasons, and $1,620.71 spent [update: the amount is actually $1,946.25] at Voyeur West Hollywood, a bondage-themed nightclub featuring topless women dancers imitating lesbian sex.

RNC trips to other cities produced bills from a long list of chic and costly hotels such as the Venetian and the M Resort in Las Vegas, and the W (for a total of $19,443) in Washington. A midwinter trip to Hawaii cost the RNC $43,828, not including airfare.

Plus this:

Michael Steele dropped big bucks on bondage club

The RNC spent $1,620.71 spent at Voyeur West Hollywood, a bondage-themed nightclub featuring topless women dancers imitating lesbian sex

How the GOP civil war started

Millions of self-described conservatives manned the trenches for George W. Bush and the GOP. By the end of his presidency, many of them felt whupped by their own party. Now some of them are fighting back.

Case in point is the Not One Penny to the National Republican Senatorial Committee campaign, a boycott launched by conservatives who believed the NRSC -- an official party structure -- was systematically favoring moderate candidates in GOP primaries. Whenever possible, conservatives feared, the national party was trying to coronate the moderates and avoid competitive primaries altogether.

The Not One Penny crusaders first took to the blogosphere and social networking websites after the NRSC decided to weigh into the Florida Senate race on behalf of Gov. Charlie Crist, who was running to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Mel Martinez. But a former state house speaker, Marco Rubio, was also a candidate. Both in Florida and across the country, many activists considered Rubio the better conservative. They resented what they saw as meddling by Sen. John Cornyn, the Texas Republican who chairs the NRSC.

Why are we in Afghanistan? he asks; the inescapable answer: mission creep

Over the years I have heard 10 or more reasons, but not one that is convincing. "This will not end well," George Will wrote, and I agree with that. Yes, President Obama inherited the Afghanistan war, but he has dug himself in deeper, and as they say he owns it now. It will be hard for him either to win it or to extricate us.

Why are we there? At first it was retaliation for 9/11. We should "get the people who attacked us," as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said. It is the one reason that Americans understand and do accept. I was certainly in favor of the Afghanistan invasion of 2001, and perhaps that's why Obama called it the necessary war. Striking at al Qaeda made sense in a way that invading Iraq never did. But that was a reason for going into Afghanistan, not a reason for still being there eight and a half years later.

Rasmussen: 49% think health care will worsen

One week after the House of Representatives passed the health care plan proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats, 54% of the nation's likely voters still favor repealing the new law. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 42% oppose repeal.

Those figures are virtually unchanged from last week. They include 44% who Strongly Favor repeal and 34% who Strongly Oppose it.

Repeal is favored by 84% of Republicans and 59% of unaffiliated voters. Among white Democrats, 25% favor repeal, but only one percent (1%) of black Democrats share that view.

Only 17% of all voters believe the plan will achieve one of its primary goals and reduce the cost of health care. Most (55%) believe it will have the opposite affect and increase the cost of care.

Forty-nine percent (49%) believe the new law will reduce the quality of care. Sixty percent (60%) believe it will increase the federal budget deficit. Those numbers are consistent with expectations before the bill was passed.

85 government funded charter schools being operated by Islamists in United States

A secretive foreign network of Islamic radicals now operates dozens of charter schools -- which receive government money but are not required to adopt a state-approved curriculum -- on U.S. soil. The inspirer of this conspiratorial effort is Fethullah Gülen, who directs a major Islamist movement in Turkey and the Turkish Diaspora but lives in the United States. He is number thirteen among the world's "50 most influential Muslims," according to one prominent listing.

Gülen has been criticized as the puppet master for the current Turkish government headed by the "soft Islamist" Justice and Development Party, known by its Turkish initials as the AKP, in its slow-motion showdown with the secularist Turkish military. But Gülen is also known in Muslim countries for his network of 500-700 Islamic schools around the world, according to differing sources favorable to his movement. A more critical view of Gülen's emphasis on education asserts that his international network of thousands of primary and secondary schools, universities, and student residences is a key element in solidifying an Islamist political agenda in Turkey.

But in startling news for Americans, the Gülen movement operates more than 85 primary and secondary schools on our soil. A roster of the Gülen schools and of the numerous foundations that support them has been released to the public by the patriotic group Act! for America. The Gülen schools are often designated as "science academies" and are concentrated in Texas, Ohio, and California -- with others scattered across the rest of the country.

How to shrewdly set up the stupidity defense

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Solveig's Song, from Grieg's Peer Gynt Suite

In Obama's leftist fantasy, progress is marked by illusory successes and infuriated voters

In the fantasy that plays out between Barack Obama's ears, Vladimir Lenin's health care aspirations are taking shape, against all odds, in America as smoke-spewing corporations and evil Wall Street tycoons await the harsh discipline of a righteous White House.

The Obama-friendly Politico puts it this way:

"During protracted negotiations over the health care bill, Obama was criticized for giving congressional leaders too much leeway and too little direction, and for bending too easily to the timetables of Capitol Hill.

No more. Aides say that with the momentum from the most complex domestic bill to pass Congress in 45 years, Obama now will push Congress to close campaign-finance loopholes opened by the Citizens United case, adopt his overhaul of the No Child Left Behind education bill, and perhaps even tackle a clean-energy bill.

'He goes into these into these negotiations, and into these legislative battles, with a stronger hand because people understand that he’s going to fight for what he believes in,' White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said in an interview. 'Congress proved to itself that it’s well within their power to do the big things that’ll bring about the type of change that they were elected to bring.'"

At this point, Politico might have asked, "What real changes are you talking about?" but passed up the opportunity.

What we have is a carefully honed image of a forceful leader setting things right in a hurry. An unschooled oberver might miss the fact that, 14 months into the Obama presidency, few things have changed in the real world.

Obama has doubled down on George Bush's misbegotten effort to transform Afghanistan into a rational democracy, with a corresponding rise in bloodshed by American troops.


The number of U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan has roughly doubled in the first three months of 2010 compared to the same period last year as Washington has added tens of thousands of additional soldiers to reverse the Taliban's momentum.

Those deaths have been accompanied by a dramatic spike in the number of wounded, with injuries more than tripling in the first two months of the year and trending in the same direction based on the latest available data for March.

Effective leaders end ill-advised wars; they don't perpetuate them.

Yes, Obama and his Democrat allies have enacted Obamacare, making good on Lenin's observation: "Medicine is the keystone of the socialist arch." In doing so, however, they also magnified the instrusiveness of government against the wishes of a majority of Americans and used borrrowed federal money to bribe and coerce Democrat members of Congress into voting for the so-called reform.

As a result, U.S. corporations are taking a financial hit immediately at a time when the economy is struggling to recover from a nasty recession and unemployment remains stubbornly high.

While the pain inflicted by Obamacare is immediate, the benefits, if there are any, don't kick in for several years. Given the voter fury ignited by the Obamacare battle, it is likely that Republicans, who opposed Obamacare, will retake the House in the November election while unseating some Democrats in the Senate.

Subsequently, some aspects of Obamacare are likely to be repealed before they take effect. While Obama may veto any repeals, that will fuel the fury of Republican and Democrat opponents of Obamacare, reducing Obama's chance of reelection in 2012.

Some aspects of Obamacare also may be struck down on appeal to the courts.

After 14 months, Obama and the Democrats have little to boast about and much to fear from an aroused electorate.

But things can get worse, and probably will.

Coming soon: a renewed effort at cap and trade, a social engineering project designed to force consumers to buy  cars they don't want and pursue lifestyles that will enrich leftist-friendly investors in green technology while preserving oil fields off U.S. shores and in Alaska for whoever picks up the remnants of a once-powerful country.

Yes, the science behind the green revolution has been thoroughly discredited almost everywhere. In the fantasyland between Obama's ears, however, it's still persuasive and compelling.

So compelling that the White House will now try to enact rules and regulations that will drive up the costs of U.S. manufacturers and hinder their ability to compete in international markets.

The resulting downturn undoubtedly will be perceived by the White House as justification for a new stimulus package.

Gap on health care question widening

Saturday, March 27, 2010

How to throw hard and inside Murdoch style

It’s not just that Rupert Murdoch doesn’t like Arthur Sulzberger, or doesn’t think he’s a serious newspaper publisher. It’s that he think he’s weak—girly.

...on the front page of the Journal’s Weekend section this morning is a feature on how women from healthier populations prefer feminine-looking men. The piece is illustrated with a grid showing facial features of such feminine-looking men.


There is, in the bottom image of the lower quadrant of a male face, an unmistakable—if you pay attention to such things—dimple and odd right ear.

Without a doubt, the Wall Street Journal has selected Arthur Sulzberger as a prime example of its idea of a feminine-looking man.

Pure coincidence?

Murdoch often uses the editorial power of his papers to pursue his business goals. Foremost on his agenda is to maul The New York Times.

Using everyone's money to produce more Democrats; it's seamless and successful

"To make sure our students don't go broke just because they chose to go to college, we're making it easier for graduates to afford their student loan payments," Obama said.

"The average student ends up with more than $23,000 in debt. So when this change takes effect in 2014, we'll cap a graduate's annual student loan repayments at 10 percent of his or her income."

Under the measure, private banks would no longer get fees for acting as middlemen in federal student loans. The government would use the savings to boost Pell Grants and make it easier for some workers to repay their student loans. In addition, some borrowers could see lower interest rates and higher approval rates on student loans. Savings are also meant to go toward reducing the deficit and helping to pay for expanded health care.

My take:

Like amnesty for illegals and looser immigration laws, enhancements to student loan programs are guaranteed to generate votes for Democrats.

With looser immigration rules and amnesty, the relationship is direct. Grateful beneficiaries reward the party that helped them out. Yes, there are victims - American citizens who are displaced by the new arrivals and join the unemployment rolls. But those workers generally are displaced from low-level jobs and have been conditioned to vote Democrat. In most cases, they will continue to do so.  For the Democrat Party, it's a win-win transaction.

With students, the process is more prolonged. First, when student aid is enhanced, more young people have money to enroll in college. But college administrations quickly capture much of the new money by raising tuition.

As revenue grows, colleges hire more professors and admit more students. It is undeniable, however, that colleges - especially liberal arts colleges - serve as incubators of liberal and radical voters. If you doubt this, check the vote counts in communities where large numbers of students live. The net result: more votes for Democrats.

That's one reason why rich conservatives often turn out to have liberal or radical sons and daughters. Under the Obama administration, that won't change.

Michigan Right to Life rescinds Stupak endorsement, endorses his Republican opponent

Michigan Right to Life has always endorsed Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI) and was backing him for re-election this year. But after his pivotal vote for health care reform without the inclusion of legally binding language banning taxpayer funding of abortion, the group has rescinded its endorsement and pledged to support his Republican challenger, Dan Benishek.

Stupak, until Sunday one of Congress' most reliable pro-life legislators, was notified of this decision on Wednesday. The Right to Life of Michigan PAC's board of directors voted unanimously to switch sides in the race after Stupak's decisive shift.

Cato on the virtues of tax havens

The Class Act - another hidden deficit builder?

The Class Act, otherwise known as the Community Living Assistance Services and Support Act, is the federal government's first long-term care insurance program.

Under-reported and the under the radar of most lawmakers, the program will allow workers to have an average of roughly $150 or $240 a month, based on age and salary, automatically deducted from their paycheck to save for long-term care.

The Congressional Budget Office expects the government will collect $109 billion in premiums by 2019.

Supporters say the program will relieve pressure on Medicaid and should help keep us out of nursing homes by enabling Americans to save for something most will eventually need -- assistance in eating, bathing or dressing in their old age.

Opponents say the provision is little more than a short-term revenue fix that will eventually add to the federal deficit.

"This is a scary proposition where the government passed a huge new entitlement program with gimmicks and tricks and the American people don't know they will be automatically enrolled in it by their employer if they don’t watch out," said Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA).

Nunes says Republicans were blindsided by the provision because they were unable to see the final bill until the very end.

Yuval Levin: Obamacare vulnerable to repeal

In the days since the enactment of their health care plan, Democrats in Washington have been desperately seeking to lodge the new program in the pantheon of American public-policy achievements. House Democratic whip James Clyburn compared the bill to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Vice President Biden argued it vindicates a century of health reform efforts by Democrats and Republicans alike. House speaker Nancy Pelosi said “health insurance reform will stand alongside Social Security and Medicare in the annals of American history.”

Even putting aside the fact that Social Security and Medicare are going broke and taking the rest of the government with them, these frantic forced analogies are preposterous. The new law is a ghastly mess, which began as a badly misguided technocratic pipe dream and was then degraded into ruinous incoherence by the madcap process of its enactment.

The appeals to history are understandable, however, because the Democrats know that the law is also exceedingly vulnerable to a wholesale repeal effort: Its major provisions do not take effect for four years, yet in the interim it is likely to begin wreaking havoc with the health care sector—raising insurance premiums, health care costs, and public anxieties. If those major provisions do take effect, moreover, the true costs of the program will soon become clear, and its unsustainable structure will grow painfully obvious. So, to protect it from an angry public and from Republicans armed with alternatives, the new law must be made to seem thoroughly established and utterly irrevocable—a fact on the ground that must be lived with; tweaked, if necessary, at the edges, but at its core politically untouchable.

Rasmussen: 70% angry with federal policies

How long can Americans hold a thought? That will be the political test for the next seven-and-a-half months.

If the majority of voters stay as angry as they are now about the passage of the national health care plan, it could spell real trouble for Democrats in the November elections. But if, as Democrats hope, the anger fades, then the losses by the president’s party are likely to be more manageable.

Right now, after a year of stimulus plans, bailouts and now nationalized health care, driving deficits to historically high levels, 70% of voters are angry with the policies of the federal government. That includes 48% who are very angry.

GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham admits immigration reform effectively "dead" in Senate

South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham says Democrats' aggressive push for healthcare reform has "poisoned the well" for immigration reform, leaving it effectively "dead" in the Senate.

"When I say immigration's dead in the Senate, risk-aversion abounds," Graham told the media during a Capitol Hill news conference, "Some of my colleagues will lose over healthcare. The consequences of this vote are going to be long-lasting politically."

Graham's view that immigration reform had been torpedoed by healthcare reform should come as no surprise to leading Democrats.

Andrew Napolitano: Obamacare will be repealed

In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV's Ashley Martella, Napolitano says the president's healthcare reforms amount to "commandeering" the state legislatures for federal purposes, which the Supreme Court has forbidden as unconstitutional.

"The Constitution does not authorize the Congress to regulate the state governments," Napolitano says. "Nevertheless, in this piece of legislation, the Congress has told the state governments that they must modify their regulation of certain areas of healthcare, they must surrender their regulation of other areas of healthcare, and they must spend state taxpayer-generated dollars in a way that the Congress wants it done.

"That's called commandeering the legislature," he says. "That's the Congress taking away the discretion of the legislature with respect to regulation, and spending taxpayer dollars. That's prohibited in a couple of Supreme Court cases. So on that argument, the attorneys general have a pretty strong case and I think they will prevail.”

From IBD

Economist Gary Becker: Obamacare is bad legislation but it won't be repealed

"Here in the United States," Mr. Becker says, "we spend about 17% of our GDP on health care, but out-of-pocket expenses make up only about 12% of total health-care spending. In Switzerland, where they spend only 11% of GDP on health care, their out-of-pocket expenses equal about 31% of total spending. The difference between 12% and 31% is huge. Once people begin spending substantial sums from their own pockets, they become willing to shop around. Ordinary market incentives begin to operate. A good bill would have encouraged that."

Despite the damage this new legislation appears certain to cause, Mr. Becker believes we're probably stuck with it. "Repealing this bill will be very, very difficult," he says. "Once you've got a piece of legislation in place, interest groups grow up around it. Look at Medicare and Medicaid. Originally, the American Medical Association opposed Medicare and Medicaid. Then the AMA came to see them as a source of demand for physicians' services. Today the AMA supports Medicare and Medicaid as staunchly as anyone. Something like that will happen with this new legislation."

White House says it's "Irresponsible" for AT&T to criticize White House for costing it $1 billion

It's been a banner week for Democrats: ObamaCare passed Congress in its final form on Thursday night, and the returns are already rolling in. Yesterday AT&T announced that it will be forced to make a $1 billion writedown due solely to the health bill, in what has become a wave of such corporate losses.

This wholesale destruction of wealth and capital came with more than ample warning. Turning over every couch cushion to make their new entitlement look affordable under Beltway accounting rules, Democrats decided to raise taxes on companies that do the public service of offering prescription drug benefits to their retirees instead of dumping them into Medicare. We and others warned this would lead to AT&T-like results, but like so many other ObamaCare objections Democrats waved them off as self-serving or "political."

Perhaps that explains why the Administration is now so touchy. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke took to the White House blog to write that while ObamaCare is great for business, "In the last few days, though, we have seen a couple of companies imply that reform will raise costs for them." In a Thursday interview on CNBC, Mr. Locke said "for them to come out, I think is premature and irresponsible."

Meanwhile, Henry Waxman and House Democrats announced yesterday that they will haul these companies in for an April 21 hearing because their judgment "appears to conflict with independent analyses, which show that the new law will expand coverage and bring down costs."

If health care issue fades, Romney could run

No, Mitt Romney is not toast, contrary to some arguments I have read.

The dilemma that jeopardizes his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination may go away before it trips him up.

Judicial review might strike down parts of Obamacare, such as the individual mandate to buy health insurance, that seem likely to hobble Romney.

The White House is betting that the furore over Obamacare will subside, and polls show that is already happening as Americans adjust to the new reality. By convention time in 2012, Republican delegates may be choosing a candidate who differs little from Obama on the question of health care reform because it has become a nonissue.

That is the best possible outcome for Romney, who, as governor, initiated a health care reform in Massachusetts that has some of the same characteristics as Obamacare.

If, on the other hand, outrage against Obamacare remains at fever pitch among Republicans, Romney will be toast, or at least what passes for toast among the handsome, intelligent and rich. In that event, Republicans could look for a fire breather who would denounce both Obama and Romney for setting the nation on the road to ruin.

In the meantime, Republicans should mobilize promptly to seek repeal of Obamacare. If the Democrats have too much time, they will file their own appeal before a carefully chosen judge who hates conservatives and is about to embark on a one-year sabbatical to study rain forests.

'Republicans now have clear shot at Harry Reid

LAS VEGAS – A Nevada asphalt contractor who faces a legal challenge to his Tea Party of Nevada candidacy for U.S. Senate was hit Friday with felony theft and bad check charges in Las Vegas that allege he bounced a $5,000 business check last year.

Scott Ashjian is one of a record 22 candidates, including 12 Republicans, running for the seat held by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who is seeking a fifth term.

Bernie Zadrowski, head of the Clark County district attorney's office bad check unit, said he would seek an arrest warrant Monday in Las Vegas Justice Court. Ashjian could face up to 14 years in state prison if convicted.

The tea party movement is a disparate coalition of conservative groups angered by federal spending, rising taxes and the growth and reach of government. Other tea party activists have been distancing themselves from Ashjian, and an ad targeting him has been sponsored by the Tea Party Express, one of the most visible factions of the national tea party movement.

Friday, March 26, 2010

AT&T books $1 billion in noncash Obamacare costs

AT&T will book $1 billion in first-quarter costs related to the health-care law signed this week by President Barack Obama, the most of any U.S. company so far.

A change in the tax treatment of Medicare subsidies triggered the non-cash expense, and the company will consider changes to the benefits it offers current and retired workers, Dallas-based AT&T said today in a regulatory filing.

AT&T, the biggest U.S. phone company, joins Caterpillar Inc., AK Steel Holding Corp. and 3M Co. in recording non-cash expenses against earnings as a result of the law. Health-care costs may shave as much as $14 billion from U.S. corporate profits, according to an estimate by benefits consulting firm Towers Watson. AT&T employed about 281,000 people as of the end of January.

“Companies like AT&T that have large employee bases, are going to have higher health-care costs and, therefore, lower earnings unless they can negotiate something or offer less to their employees,” said Chris Larsen, an analyst at Piper Jaffray & Co. in New York, who rates AT&T shares “overweight” and doesn’t own any himself.

Stupak and other switchers in favor of Obamacare asked for $4.7 billion in earmarks the next day

The Sunlight Foundation comes through with a dagger of a story:

A day after Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., and ten other House members compromised on their pro-life position to deliver the necessary yes-votes to pass health care reform, the “Stupak 11″ released their fiscal year 2011 earmark requests, which total more than $4.7 billion–an average of $429 million worth of earmark requests for each lawmaker.

The eleven members were the focus of high level pressure by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats because they threatened to vote against the health care reform bill, which passed the House on Sunday, March 21, by a seven vote margin. Granting earmark requests are one of the ways leadership can encourage members to vote their way.

Stupak requested more than $578 million in earmarks, including $125 million for a replacement lock on the Sault Ste. Marie, $25.6 million to build a federal courthouse in Marquette, Mich., $15 million to repaint the Mackinac Bridge and $800,000 to preserve the Quincy Mining Company smelter near Hancock in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

In 2009, the first year that members disclosed earmark requests, most members requested far more earmarks than were funded by the Appropriations Committee, which approves or denies requests. According to Taxpayers for Common Sense, Stupak’s funded earmarks–including those he requested jointly with other members–totaled $28.6 million.

Rep. Bart Stupak keeps explaining his vote

The Petoskey News Review reports:

U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Menominee, is denying swelling accusations that he accepted a kickback in the form of $726,409 Federal Aviation Administration utility grants to shift his vote to support health care reform on Sunday.

The congressman has found himself in the middle of a vicious Republican backlash after accepting that an executive order from the president would be sufficient to prevent federal dollars from funding abortions under the Senate heath care reform bill.

Stupak called the allegations “grasping at straws” by conservative opponents.

“It is absurd to think I would change my vote for a tow truck and a fence to keep deer from walking onto the runway of an airport in Escanaba,” Stupak said. “I have long advocated for comprehensive health care reform and voted in favor of the House health care reform bill — a fact that many opponents of health care reform can’t seem to acknowledge.”

The grants were for a $179,209 for Delta County Airport in Escanaba to install a 10 foot fence, a $85,500 for Alpena Regional Airport to acquire friction measuring equipment and $461,700 to install lighted signs on the runway at Chippewa County International Airport near Sault Ste. Marie. The grants were officially announced Friday, two days before Stupak decided to alter his vote.

Cafe Hayek blog response:

I’m glad to know Bart Stupak is a man of principle. He wouldn’t sell his vote for a tow truck and a fence. But how about for $726,409 worth of benefits for his constituents? And the timing of the announcement was just a coincidence.

An enlightened Cuba would sack Castro and set up a "Welcome New American-Cubans" bureau

March 26 (Bloomberg) -- Cuba’s hotels could manage a sudden influx of 1 million American tourists if the U.S. Congress lifts its 47-year ban on travel to the Communist island, Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero said.

Additionally, the Caribbean nation is set to expand its capacity of about 50,000 rooms, with groundbreaking scheduled for at least nine hotels in 2010, Marrero said. About 200,000 rooms may be added in the “medium to long-term,” he said. Cuba is also seeking investment partners for 10 golf courses and luxury hotels aimed at Americans, according to a ministry official.

“I’m convinced that today, with the available capacity, we could be receiving the American tourists without any problem,” Marrero said in an interview yesterday in Cancun, Mexico where he was attending a conference of 40 American and Cuban tourist industry representatives.

The tourism industry meeting comes as the U.S. Congress considers a law that would lift the ban on travel to Cuba.

Click here for a time line of Obamacare kick-ins

In doling, it's better to be the doler than the dolee

Krauthammer: Obama's spend and tax strategy reverses Reagan's tax and spending cuts

American liberals have long complained that ours is the only advanced industrial country without universal health care. Well, now we shall have it. And as we approach European levels of entitlements, we will need European levels of taxation.

Obama set out to be a consequential president, on the order of Ronald Reagan. With the VAT, Obama's triumph will be complete. He will have succeeded in reversing Reaganism. Liberals have long complained that Reagan's strategy was to starve the (governmental) beast in order to shrink it: First, cut taxes -- then ultimately you have to reduce government spending.

Obama's strategy is exactly the opposite: Expand the beast and then feed it. Spend first -- which then forces taxation. Now that, with the institution of universal health care, we are becoming the full entitlement state, the beast will have to be fed.

And the VAT is the only trough in creation large enough

Obama targeted the young during the campaign, then drowned them in debt with his policies

The passage of Obamacare created many losers, but none greater than for Americans under the age of 30, the very voters on whom Team Obama performed a pixel-driven lobotomy during the 2008 presidential election.

The majority of Americans who opposed President Barack Obama’s healthcare bill are shaking their heads and wondering how such a legislative monstrosity could lurch its way to passage. The answer harkens back to the 2008 election: Team Obama brainwashed 66% of younger voters, the very citizens who will now be engulfed by the $1 trillion tidal wave Mr. Obama just sent crashing over their (and their children’s and grandchildren’s) heads.

During the presidential campaign, David Plouffe, David Axelrod and Obama built a technologically savvy marketing machine that shotgunned Twitter messages at Mach speed, sent YouTube clips ricocheting around the globe, and built a gargantuan digital tribe of Facebook followers. My generation fell for the marketing blitz. And now, we are the ones stuck with the consequences of what the healthcare debacle will mean for our health and our wealth (or lack thereof).

"Obama Zombies" - born of corrupt news, vapid celebrities, global warming alarmism, brainwash

In 2008, twenty-somethings like me began to notice a disturbing new creature appearing on their college campuses around the country and all over their favorite social networking sites. They seemed to spread out everywhere, spewing meaningless dribble in the form of campaign slogans and infecting others as the year went on until it appeared a full-blown epidemic had emerged. What were these ominous beings and where did they come from?

Well, Jason Mattera’s new book Obama Zombies: How the Liberal Machine Brainwashed My Generation answers that very question. In one of the most detailed and insightful looks behind the curtain of the Obama campaign’s assault on young voters Jason reveals facts that are imperative to learn if we, as conservatives, want to compete for the hearts and minds of young people.

This book shows precisely how a disgustingly corrupt news and entertainment media, vapid celebrities, healthcare and global-warming alarmism, hack comedians and a professionally coordinated online operation took advantage of a generation of young idealists who are too inexperienced at life to truly understand how ineffective and inefficient government really is. But instead of relying pure on conjecture, Obama Zombies provides details about how liberals use their tactics against young people and gives precise numbers on the success those tactics lead to. The book provides tangible standards for judging just how soundly the left and the Obama campaign dominated the right and the McCain campaign among young people on issues and online. The numbers Jason reveals are staggering and, indeed, quite troubling.

Obamacare may be Mexico's gain

After Obamacare, where will Americans go for quality care?
To Mexico, that's where.

The ink was still drying on the President's signature on the government takeover of American healthcare, when a notice went out from the Institute of the Americas at the University of California San Diego advertising a conference for April 21 entitled "The Future of Health Care for Americans in Mexico."

Mexico has always been the place where Americans can get whatever's banned in America. Alcohol during Prohibition (and underage drinking since), gambling before Indian casinos, Cuban cigars, power plants generating electricity for California that don't meet California environmental standards, maids and gardeners, illegal drugs. You get the idea. All along the border, Americans have always relied on Mexico to provide what we really want but publicly oppose.

Legal drugs too. In the debate a few years ago about prescription drugs, the availability of cheaper drugs in Canada was widely reported in the U.S., in part because the narrative fit the media template of extolling government-run healthcare as better and cheaper. Never mind the thousands of Canadians who come to the U.S. for treatment in a timely fashion—those stories didn't fit the template and were widely ignored.

But for decades, Americans near the Mexican border have traveled South to buy (much) cheaper prescription drugs. Given that it's Mexico, in the same way that Americans should be wary of the authenticity of the street vendor "Cuban" cigar, customers should check the prescription packaging carefully to detect tampering or dilution. But the same drugs and over-the-counter remedies available in the U.S. are available just a few miles away in Mexico for much less.

So too with medical care. Mexican dentists along the border do a land rush business from American customers. Many an eye glass wearer in El Paso bought those glasses in Juarez. Many an American women "on vacation" in Mexico is recovering from cosmetic surgery in a plush Mexican spa.

Romneycare vs. Obamacare - a preview

Income fell in 42 states in 2009; Nevada hardest hit

Personal income in 42 states fell in 2009, the Commerce Department said Thursday.

Nevada's 4.8% plunge was the steepest, as construction and tourism industries took a beating. Also hit hard: Wyoming, where incomes fell 3.9%.

Incomes stayed flat in two states and rose in six and the District of Columbia. West Virginia had the best showing with a 2.1% increase. In Maine, Kentucky and Hawaii, increased government benefits, such as unemployment insurance and Social Security, offset drops in earnings and property values.

Nationally, personal income from wages, dividends, rent, retirement plans and government benefits declined 1.7% last year, unadjusted for inflation.

One bright spot: As the economy recovered, personal income was up in all 50 states in the fourth quarter compared with the third. Connecticut, again, had the highest per capita income of the 50 states at $54,397 in 2009. Mississippi ranked lowest at $30,103.

Government of, by and for the governing class

Nearly 2,000 House of Representative staffers pulled down six-figure salaries in 2009, including 43 staffers who earned the maximum $172,500 — or more than three times the median U.S. household income.

Starting salaries on Capitol Hill are still low — many entry-level congressional jobs pay less than $30,000 a year. And many of the most highly paid staffers could make several times the maximum by jumping to lobbying and consulting jobs in the private sector.

But the salary data, compiled for POLITICO by, show that it’s possible to make an enviable living in Congress, even without winning an election.

The 43 staffers who maxed out at $172,500 — the salary cap for leadership and committee staffers — include John Lawrence, chief of staff to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi; Paula Nowakowski, the late chief of staff to House Minority Leader John Boehner; and House Parliamentarian John Sullivan. They earned only slightly less than rank-and-file members of Congress, who make $174,000.

CBO: Obama's 2011 budget will raise debt by $10 trillion over 10 years, to 90% of total U.S. output

President Obama's fiscal 2011 budget will generate nearly $10 trillion in cumulative budget deficits over the next 10 years, $1.2 trillion more than the administration projected, and raise the federal debt to 90 percent of the nation's economic output by 2020, the Congressional Budget Office reported Thursday.

In its 2011 budget, which the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released Feb. 1, the administration projected a 10-year deficit total of $8.53 trillion. After looking it over, CBO said in its final analysis, released Thursday, that the president's budget would generate a combined $9.75 trillion in deficits over the next decade.

"An additional $1.2 trillion in debt dumped on [GDP] to our children makes a huge difference," said Brian Riedl, a budget analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation. "That represents an additional debt of $10,000 per household above and beyond the federal debt they are already carrying."

The federal public debt, which was $6.3 trillion ($56,000 per household) when Mr. Obama entered office amid an economic crisis, totals $8.2 trillion ($72,000 per household) today, and it's headed toward $20.3 trillion (more than $170,000 per household) in 2020, according to CBO's deficit estimates.

That figure would equal 90 percent of the estimated gross domestic product in 2020, up from 40 percent at the end of fiscal 2008. By comparison, America's debt-to-GDP ratio peaked at 109 percent at the end of World War II, while the ratio for economically troubled Greece hit 115 percent last year.

Obama's pals talk revolution

Obamacare requires that everyone have health insurance but the mandate is not enforceable

it turns out that the Democrats who crafted this bill significantly – and I mean significantly – hamstrung the ability of the IRS or any other federal agency to enforce or collect on this mandate. Here is what the federal Joint Committee on Taxation had to say about this issue in a report released earlier this week:

Individuals who fail to maintain minimum essential coverage in 2016 are subject to a penalty equal to the greater of: (1) 2.5 percent of household income in excess of the taxpayer’s household income for the taxable year over the threshold amount of income required for income tax return filing for that taxpayer under section 6012(a)(1);67 or (2) $695 per uninsured adult in the household. The fee for an uninsured individual under age 18 is one-half of the adult fee for an adult. The total household penalty may not exceed 300 percent of the per adult penalty ($2,085). The total annual household payment may not exceed the national average annual premium for bronze level health plan offered through the Exchange that year for the household size…

The penalty applies to any period the individual does not maintain minimum essential coverage and is determined monthly. The penalty is assessed through the Code and accounted for as an additional amount of Federal tax owed. However, it is not subject to the enforcement provisions of subtitle F of the Code. The use of liens and seizures otherwise authorized for collection of taxes does not apply to the collection of this penalty. Non-compliance with the personal responsibility requirement to have health coverage is not subject to criminal or civil penalties under the Code and interest does not accrue for failure to pay such assessments in a timely manner.

According to a footnote in the report, “subtitle F of the Code” is the portion of the tax code which grants the IRS the authority to assess and collect taxes. In other words, as the law is written the federal government has no legal authority to enforce this mandate, nor will it have any recourse to collect any penalties that go unpaid!


... this is actually the worst possible news for those who believe in the merits of the mandate and the bill in general.

Because without an effective mechanism of enforcing the individual mandate, the entire system is likely to collapse.

Shocker: U.S. wouldn't qualify for foundering EU

...neither financial markets nor European citizens are convinced any longer that the EU can live by the very rules that made its common currency and economic policy existence possible. That rule, basically, is this: No EU nation can run a deficit of more than 3% of GDP annually, and none can exceed public debt of 60% of GDP annually.

The PIIGS are by far the worst when it comes to this critical measure of budget discipline. Portugal, for instance, has a deficit of 9.3% of GDP, and debt of over 80%. But it's not alone. No major nation in the EU meets the criteria for membership today. Investors don't want their bonds.

What's this got to do with the U.S.? Plenty. Right now, we wouldn't qualify for EU membership either. And just because our government refuses to address its own fiscal irresponsibility, doesn't mean the people aren't thinking about it.

In a newly released Fox News poll, 78% said they feared a U.S. financial collapse brought on by fiscal mismanagement. And by 3-to-1, respondents said the nation's exploding federal debt was a more serious problem than terrorism.

Obama's cousin, Dr. Milton Wolf, pans Obamacare

My message is simple: Patients will suffer under ObamaCare.

This plan goes "all in" on the government failures that have already had a tremendously detrimental effect on medicine. It's not that health care rationing might happen under the plan; it's that it will. In fact, it's already written into the plan.

Section 3403 of the Senate bill creates the Medicare Advisory Board, the express purpose of which is to reduce funding for Medicare. These unelected, unaccountable officials are required to make recommendations for Medicare cuts. These recommendations will have the effect of law, even if the Congress does not act on them.

We are given a preview of what this rationing board will try in section 3007 of the Senate bill. This portion of the health care bill addresses a scheme that actually penalizes your primary care doctor for providing the care he has determined that your family needs. The top ten percent of doctors who refer patients to specialists, no matter how valid the reason, will be penalized. This ignores the expertise of the family care physician. It does not care if your daughter hurt her arm and needs an orthopedic surgeon. It does not care if your mother is short of breath and needs a pulmonologist. It matters to them only how many of your doctor's patients are sick enough to need a specialist.

There's no other way to say it: "ObamaCare" penalizes your doctor for providing medical care. This is rationing. It will get worse as costs continue their upward climb and more doctors opt out of Medicare and medicine altogether.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mackinac Center fights Michigan's bid to force home care owners to pay dues to SEIU

The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation will appeal the case of Loar v. DHS to the Michigan Supreme Court, according to Director Patrick Wright. Wright and his clients, home-based day care owners Sherry Loar of Petoskey, Michelle Berry of Flint and Paulette Silverson of Brighton, will discuss the case at a press conference Wednesday at 9 a.m. outside the Hall of Justice in Lansing.

The public-interest law firm brought suit against the Michigan Department of Human Services in September on behalf of home-based day care providers who were forced into a government employees union and had dues withheld from state subsidy payments provided to low-income families. In late December, the Michigan Court of Appeals dismissed the case without explanation.

At least 40,000 home-based business owners and millions of dollars were affected by the DHS/union effort to designate the providers as government workers for unionization and dues-collecting purposes. The MCLF is suing to prevent the DHS from collecting dues from the providers. The brief will be submitted to the Michigan Supreme Court Wednesday morning.

New study: IPCC is losing its credibility mass

A new study suggests that the IPCC is losing 10% of it’s credibility mass every month, and could have completely disappeared by Christmas.

“It’s shrinking faster than we thought” said Anthony Watts the renowned skeptical blogger, who led a small team of dedicated bloggers, analysing over 10,000 news articles and blogs on the Internet. “Not one of them contained the phrase ‘The IPCC is innocent’”, explained Mr. Watts, “Not even their unofficial web-site“

Intrepid Spoof reporters sought comments worldwide. Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri, the eminent Himalayan glacier expert, was interviewed as he emerged from his hairdresser’s salon in downtown Delhi. “It’s a travesty!” he exclaimed, “I have newspaper cuttings and a 1988 photograph to prove it”.

Dr. Pachauri posed for photographs before he continued. “There was just one small error,” he explained. “They wrote their reports in English. If they’d used Sanskrit, none of this would have happened.”

Public attacks against Obamacare jeopardize prospects of Romney, who pioneered similar plan

As the public outcry against Obamacare proceeds, Mitt Romney's chances of capturing the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 are going aglimmering.

Perhaps that was the reason President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats pushed the health care reform so vigorously and quickly. They not only have accomplished their top legislative objective, but also have hobbled the man who was potentially their most dangerous challenger.

In any case, the Republicans are now in a box. Romney appears to be a frontrunner for the nomination, but Republican leaders, elected officials and voters are in full-throated outcry against an Obama health care reform that bears strong similarities to the one Romney initiated as governor of Massachusetts.

This complicates matters. If the Republicans nominate Romney in 2012, they open themselves to criticism that their attacks against Obamacare were phony. If they reject Romney to duck the hypocrisy charge, they may have passed up their best chance to beat Obama.

Romney is, after all, a very successful investor who grew rich and famous by rescuing things of value from the boneyards of corporate America, while also rescuing the flailing Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. Unless the Obama administration changes course, that is precisely the kind of leader the United States will need after the current wrecking crew leaves Washington.

The irony is that, in requiring all Massachusetts residents to have health insurance, the state's political class was hoping to provide a model for the rest of the country. At the time, the state's businesses were paying approximately $1 billion a year to subsidize the health care costs of the uninsured.

When the bipartisan health care measure was enacted, with almost unanimous legislative support, in 2006, Massachusetts House Speaker Sal DiMasi compared it to the Mayflower Compact that the pilgrims wrote after they landed on Plymouth Rock in 1620.

That was then. This is now.

What are the odds that the Republicans will nominate Romney if that would rob them of the issue that has riled much of the country and may still be hot two years from now?

This chart will soon get even scarier

When describing spending growth in federal programs, I often need to use words like “soaring” and “explosive.” But growth in federal health spending is almost beyond superlatives to describe it, and it will increase even faster as a result of President Obama’s new health legislation.

This chart shows total real spending by the Department of Health and Human Services, which includes the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Spending has increased almost nine-fold since 1970, and that’s after adjusting for inflation. And note how the slope of the bars increased around 1990. Health spending is truly skyrocketing and Obama has just put us into orbit.

Obama's election spurs big crop of black GOPers

Dean Nelson says as far as he knows, there have never been as many black Republicans running for Congress as there are this year.

Asked why that’s the case, the vice chairman of the Frederick Douglass Foundation, a conservative group of black people who promote smaller government, pointed to an unlikely inspiration for the Republicans: Democratic President Barack Obama.

“I think with his success, it has given a level of hope and expectation for African-American candidates, whether they’re Republican or Democrat that you know hey, this is something that can be done,” Nelson said in an interview with The Daily Caller.

Because many black conservatives share the same type of political experience Obama had at the state level before going to Washington, Nelson said, many are saying, “doggone it, I should throw my hat into the ring and I might be able to have success.”

Of the more than 30 black Republican congressional and senatorial candidates running for office this election cycle, the Frederick Douglass Foundation held a leadership summit for more than 15 of them this weekend.

“Because [Obama's] policies are so out of touch with most of America I think specifically you have black conservatives that are looking beyond just the image. They’re looking at policy and how it impacts us,” Nelson said.

Obama campaigned against what he just signed

Will Uncle Sam control health costs as he did gas?

If the government wants to get serious about making health care more affordable, it needs only to look in the mirror. It's tough to blame insurance companies for all our health care problems when the government controls more of the entire industry (around 50%) through Medicare and Medicaid. Not only do these program deny more people coverage per capita than private insurers, these programs significantly raise costs for everyone.

Medicare and Medicaid pay Walgreens, doctors, and pharmaceutical companies at a rate set by the federal government. This is a form of price controls. The wonderful news is that the Obamacare bill that was rammed through the House last Sunday is going to multiply this practice throughout the entire industry.

Governments have never been great at regulating prices. Remember the gas crisis in the 70s? The long lines and rationing came because the United States attempted to control gas prices. This is what we get to look forward to with Obamacare

In this comparison, Obama fares badly

Contemplate the reticence, and effectiveness, of George Washington in building this nation. Then compare it with the 500 + speeches that our current leader has given in less than a year and a quarter; all scripted fiction, (do you find that the word ‘lie’ perhaps applies here?), completely forgettable and delivered to a (or so Obama thought) gullible American public. These increasingly ineffective professorial lessons in everything that is wrong with us were delivered by Obama simultaneous to his systematic dismantling of the United States of America as created by George Washington and the others.

Hayek is again popular, but Obamacare intrudes government "in every nook and cranny..."

“The constitution was thus conceived as a protection of the people against all arbitrary action, on the part of the legislative as well as the other branches of government. A constitution which in such manner is to limit government must contain what in effect are substantive rules…It must lay down general principles which are to govern the acts of the appointed legislature.”

So wrote Friedrich Hayek in "The Constitution of Liberty" a half century ago. He went on to say that: “A group of men normally become a society not by giving themselves laws but by obeying the same rules of conduct. This means that the power of the majority is limited by those commonly held principles and that there is no legitimate power beyond them.” It is sad that Congress celebrated the 50th anniversary of Hayek’s work by ignoring any pretense that its power is limited. It is clear the Obama administration and the Democrat majority in Congress does not feel that the temporary majority is to be bound by any general principle other than “do you have the votes.” The 2000+page health care bill goes so far beyond what this country was founded on that it is difficult to know where to begin.

The bill is meant to involve the federal government in every nook and cranny of American life. Employers are told by their government what benefits they must provide employees. If we accept the proposition that the majority may tell employers and employees what their benefit package is, then where is the limitation that restricts this to health care? If the auto insurance companies have sufficient lobbying power, then we will be told that our benefit package must include auto insurance as well. And why not require employers to provide membership in health clubs, or country clubs? I personally would prefer season tickets to University of Michigan basketball games.

Obamacare back to House; let the ambushes begin

The reconciliation bill will have to go back to the House for another vote after Senate parliamentarian Alan Frumin ruled early this morning that two minor provisions violated the chamber's rules and could not be included in the final bill, according to Majority Leader Harry Reid's spokesman Jim Manley.

Both provisions made technical changes to the bill's Pell Grant regulations. All told, 16 lines of text will be removed from the 153-page bill, Manley told reporters as business on the Senate floor wrapped early Thursday morning.

A spokeswoman for the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) reiterated that the changes are "minor" and won't create problems when the altered bill goes back to the House for approval. The reconciliation bill is designed to make changes to the newly minted health care reform law.

Rasmussen: 55% favor repeal of Obamacare

Just before the House of Representatives passed sweeping health care legislation last Sunday, 41% of voters nationwide favored the legislation while 54% were opposed. Now that President Obama has signed the legislation into law, most voters want to see it repealed.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey, conducted on the first two nights after the president signed the bill, shows that 55% favor repealing the legislation. Forty-two percent (42%) oppose repeal. Those figures include 46% who Strongly Favor repeal and 35% who Strongly Oppose it.

In terms of Election 2010, 52% say they’d vote for a candidate who favors repeal over one who does not. Forty-one percent (41%) would cast their vote for someone who opposes repeal.

Not surprisingly, Republicans overwhelmingly favor repeal while most Democrats are opposed. Among those not affiliated with either major party, 59% favor repeal, and 35% are against it.

Most senior citizens (59%) also favor repeal.

The Obamattack already driving up costs

Democrats dragged themselves over the health-care finish line in part by repeating that voters would like the plan once it passed. Let's see what they think when they learn their insurance costs will jump right away.

Even before President Obama signed the bill on Tuesday, Caterpillar said it would cost the company at least $100 million more in the first year alone. Medical device maker Medtronic warned that new taxes on its products could force it to lay off a thousand workers. Now Verizon joins the roll of businesses staring at adverse consequences.

In an email titled "President Obama Signs Health Care Legislation" sent to all employees Tuesday night, the telecom giant warned that "we expect that Verizon's costs will increase in the short term." While executive vice president for human resources Marc Reed wrote that "it is difficult at this point to gauge the precise impact of this legislation," and that ObamaCare does reflect some of the company's policy priorities, the message to workers was clear: Expect changes for the worse to your health benefits as the direct result of this bill, and maybe as soon as this year.

Mr. Reed specifically cited a change in the tax treatment of retiree health benefits. When Congress created the Medicare prescription drug benefit in 2003, it included a modest tax subsidy to encourage employers to keep drug plans for retirees, rather than dumping them on the government. The Employee Benefit Research Institute says this exclusion—equal to 28% of the cost of a drug plan—will run taxpayers $665 per person next year, while the same Medicare coverage would cost $1,209.

In a $5.4 billion revenue grab, Democrats decided that this $665 fillip should be subject to the ordinary corporate income tax of 35%. Most consulting firms and independent analysts say the higher costs will induce some companies to drop drug coverage, which could affect about five million retirees and 3,500 businesses. Verizon and other large corporations warned about this

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Stack this up against polling place intimidation, vote fraud, assaults and intimidation by liberals

A coffin was placed on a Missouri Democrat’s lawn, another in a string of incidents against lawmakers after their vote Sunday on a health care overhaul.

Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.) had a coffin placed “near his home,” a spokesman said Wednesday evening.

This came after Rep. Tom Perriello’s (D-Va.) brother’s gas lines were cut, Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) received death threats and Rules Committee Chairwoman Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) received a message saying snipers were being deployed to kill children of those who voted for health care overhaul.

Several other Democrats have had threats leveled against them, prompting a closed-door briefing of Democratic members by the FBI, Capitol Police and the House Sergeant at Arms.

Issa threatens request for prosecutor to investigate White House job offer to Specter's Dem challenger

Rep. Darrell Issa, the top Republican on the House Oversight committee, told CBS News Wednesday that he will call for a special prosecutor to investigate the White House if it does not address Rep. Joe Sestak's claim that he was offered a federal job in exchange for dropping out of the Pennsylvania Senate primary.

"If the public doesn't receive a satisfactory answer, the next step would be to call for a special prosecutor, which is well within the statute," Issa (pictured) told Hotsheet.

The California Republican has been pushing for the White House to provide details of conversations between Sestak and administration officials in the wake of Sestak's comment during a radio interview last month that he was offered a high-ranking administration job in exchange for dropping his primary challenge against Sen. Arlen Specter.

What's the "good and welfare clause" cited by Rep. John Conyers? David Harsanyi has the answer

What does it say about your cause that nearly every policy idea you cook up is based in some form or another on coercing the American people?

When House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., was recently asked to identify where the Constitution granted Congress the authority to force all Americans to buy health insurance, he replied, "Under several clauses; the good and welfare clause and a couple others."

For those of you who aren't familiar with the "good and welfare" clause, it states that "The Congress shall have Power to make Citizens of each State compelled to partake of the Privileges of Health Care Insurance, & those who refuse will be fined, charged with a misdemeanor crime or lashed (or receive Medicaid)."

Now, I'm not a lawyer, but I was somewhat surprised to discover that the Constitution featured a "good and welfare" clause — though, obviously, Washington has done a laudable job fulfilling the latter part of this imaginary passage.

Tea Party Express adds Rep. Bart Stupak to its "Just Vote Them Out" target list

The Tea Party Express added Rep. Bart Stupak, the Democrat who has become the target for opponents of the health-care bill for his last-minute yes vote that enabled the bill’s passage, to its “Just Vote Them Out” tour.

The group that takes bus tours across the country will hold three rallies in Stupak’s Michigan district — more than any other district in the country.

“We’re trading votes with Bart Stupak,” said Joe Wierzbicki, coordinator of the Tea Party Express and a Michigan native. “He sold out the American people and voted for that awful health-care bill, so now we’re going to repay the favor and vote him out of office.”

The rallies will take place in April in the Michigan towns of Ironwood, Escanaba and Sault Sainte Marie. The Tea Party Express has also launched a fundraising drive for an Independent Expenditure campaign against Stupak that will include TV and radio ads calling for his defeat.

Next up: A strong bid for amnesty for illegals, followed by a surge in votes for Dem candidates

Between 1980 and 2008, 25.2 million people were granted permanent residency (green cards) by the United States. A comparison of voting patterns in presidential elections across counties over the last three decades shows that large-scale immigration has caused a steady drop in presidential Republican vote shares throughout the country. Once politically marginal counties are now safely Democratic due to the propensity of immigrants, especially Latinos, to identify and vote Democratic. The partisan impact of immigration is relatively uniform throughout the country, even though local Republican parties have taken different positions on illegal immigration. Although high immigration may work against Democratic policy goals, such as raising wages for the poor and protecting the environment, it does improve Democratic electoral prospects. In contrast, immigration may help Republican business interests hold down wages, but it also undermines the party’s political fortunes. Future levels of immigration are likely to be a key determinant of Republicans’ political prospects moving forward.

Will businesses keep buying health insurance?

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Is the scene set for a replay of Clinton and the 90s?

The undertakers of Bill Clinton's political doom showed up in Little Rock, Ark., in 1992 for a meeting with the president-elect two months before his inauguration. They were the leaders of the Democratic Congress, and they might as well have been draped in black crepe.

"You can trust us," House Speaker Tom Foley told Clinton, in an assurance as false as it was sincere. "We all want to make this administration succeed."

Two years later, Clinton stood among smoldering political ruins. Democrats had lost both houses of Congress. A Republican upstart had defeated Tom Foley. In trusting the Democratic leadership in Congress, Clinton had nearly destroyed his presidency.

He learned a bitter lesson in the perils of trying to govern a center-right country in league with a left-wing Congress. It's not an accident that the most sustained period of political success for any of the last three Democratic presidents, outside of their initial honeymoons, came after Clinton lost Congress. Only then was he forced to govern from the center.

Pew: Congress said to be dysfunctional, corrupt and selfish, but also incompetent, lazy and bad

Late on Sunday, March 22, the House of Representatives voted to approve a far-reaching overhaul of the nation's health care system. President Barack Obama is expected to sign the bill into law promptly, as well as fixes to the legislation also passed by the House if those changes are approved by the Senate.

Shortly before the House vote, the Pew Research Center asked Americans to provide the one word that best describes their current impressions of Congress. The results were overwhelmingly negative. Of those offering a response, 86% said something negative while just 4% gave a positive one-word description. The three most frequently offered terms were dysfunctional (21 people offered this), corrupt (20) and some version of selfish (19). Many of the words reflected perceptions that Congress has been unable or unwilling to enact legislation (inept, confusing, gridlock, etc.).

Please note that the figures shown in the chart represent the actual number -- not the percentage -- of people offering each word. With such a wide range of terms volunteered, no single word was offered by more than 3% of the 749 people asked the question.