Sunday, May 31, 2009

When Democrats derailed a GOP Latino nominee for his race

The Democratics derailed a Latino from a judgeship, because he was Latino. Remember? When Democrats derailed a GOP Latino nominee | Washington Examiner : Unless something entirely unforeseen happens, confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor will be a lovefest for the Democrats who run the Senate Judiciary Committee. There will be much talk about Sotomayor's historic opportunity to become the first Hispanic on the Court, about her inspiring background, and about the sterling qualifications she would bring to the job. Sotomayor will have the majority party strongly on her side, and odds are things will end happily for her. For some Republicans, however, it will be hard to avoid thinking back a few years, to a confirmation hearing that didn't end happily at all. In 2001, President George W. Bush nominated former Justice Department lawyer Miguel Estrada to a seat on the federal courts of appeals. In that instance, as today, the nominee was was a Hispanic with a compelling story and impressive qualifications. And some of the very people who are today praising Sotomayor spent their time devising extraordinary measures to kill Estrada's chances. Born in Honduras, Estrada came to the United States at 17, not knowing a word of English. He learned the language almost instantly, and within a few years was graduating with honors from Columbia University and heading off to Harvard Law School. He clerked for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, was a prosecutor in New York, and worked at the Justice Department in Washington before entering private practice. Estrada's nomination for a federal judgeship set off alarm bells among Democrats. There is a group of left-leaning organizations -- People for the American Way, NARAL, the Alliance for Justice, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the NAACP, and others -- that work closely with Senate Democrats to promote Democratic judicial nominations and kill Republican ones. They were particularly concerned about Estrada. In November, 2001, representatives of those groups met with Democratic Senate staff. One of those staffers then wrote a memo to Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin, informing Durbin that the groups wanted to stall Bush nominees, particularly three they had identified as good targets. "They also identified Miguel Estrada as especially dangerous," the staffer added, "because he has a minimal paper trail, he is Latino, and the White House seems to be grooming him for a Supreme Court appointment. They want to hold Estrada off as long as possible." It was precisely the fact that Estrada was Hispanic that made Democrats and their activist allies want to kill his nomination. They were determined to deny a Republican White House credit, political and otherwise, for putting a first-rate Hispanic nominee on the bench.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Self-motivated citizens show up union/government workers on assignment

Liberty Belle got 400 people from around the state to Westlake Park to counter the astroturf march for government takeover of our health care. Her report: Redistributing Knowledge:
Ladies and gentlemen of liberty: Today was my favorite protest of all time. You know I love the Tea Parties, but today takes the cake thus far. Why? Because we had barely three weeks (and no money) to mobilize against a heavily funded and well organized opponent. Almost 400 people from all over Washington State drove themselves to join our counter protest against the ugly beast of socialized health care. Our people made their own signs, by hand. We had no chartered busses, paid for by the unions, to drive our people to Seattle. We had no money to preprint signs and t-shirts to hand out to our people as our opposition had from the unions and Planned Parenthood. But you know what we had that they didn't? Heart. Passion. Spirit. Deep convictions and a principled belief in freedom, liberty, and justice for all individuals. We had life and hope on our side and everyone knew it. They knew it too. They had a rock band. We had two bagpipers in full regalia. Their emcee tried to get chants started using a very sophisticated and professional sound system, to which their people limply responded. We screamed ourselves hoarse, sweating in the hot sun, with not even a bullhorn in sight. Everyone had a great time too! People smiled and laughed and got to know one another. We shook hands, patted backs, and gave hugs. People bought water to hand out to their fellow protestors. We sang Amazing Grace and the National Anthem. We waved American flags. We met new friends. It was obvious to everyone that was there that we won. We may have had a smaller crowd, but we weren't bought and paid for, and it showed. I will never forget the look of shock on their faces as they marched into Westlake and saw us across the street. They couldn't believe it because we've never stood up to them before. It was the most joyous sight I could ever hope to see. Their guest speakers referred to us over and over again, "Don't listen to those people over there.." "... like those people over there..." "be louder than those people over there..." Please. They made us the stars of their event. Gracias. We interrupted their mojo and everyone could feel it. It was palpable. An ominous moment occurred when we were chanting, "Who will pay?" and two of the guys across the street holding their astroturfed signs were pointing back at us. They know who will be forced to foot the bill for this, and they greedily sign on. They are vultures and they know we are to be the meat. But that is why we were there today, and why we will there from now on.
Well, we haven't stood up to them that much. I was at the counter rally against Hillary Care in 1994. Our group in Seattle turned the tide against it. After Kirby and John's Saturday event protesters met Hillary at every stop across the country. She couldn't get the momentum back, so her national tour was a negative, not a booster.

Uighurs: Sometimes, the Obama Friday Night Bad News Dump Is Bad for the Left

HIde this! It will make mad those who want us to surrender our sovereignty. Uighurs: Sometimes, the Obama Friday Night Bad News Dump Is Bad for the Left - Andy McCarthy - The Corner on National Review Online: The Obama Justice Department told the Supreme Court this evening that the Uighurs have no right to be released into the United States. The Uighurs, Chinese Muslim detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, received terrorist training at al Qaeda affiliated camps (from an organization formally designated as a foreign terrorist organization under U.S. law) and were captured after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. They are the Left's combatant cause célèbre. The military took the incoherent position that they were trained al Qaeda terrorists but that their real beef was with China, not us. Thus, the federal courts have held that they are not enemy combatants. The government has been trying to relocate them for years but no country will take the remaining 17 — other than China, where our treaty obligations arguably forbid us from sending them because there is reason to believe they'd be persecuted. Of course, it's one thing to say that they are not enemy combatants and should therefore be released. It is quite another thing, though, to say that they should be released into the United States (which, because of their terrorist affiliations, would violate federal immigration law). But as Cliff noted earlier today, alluding to the stellar work of Tom Joscelyn at the Standard, federal judge Richard Urbina did try to order their release into the U.S. (Here at NRO, the editors weighed in on Judge Urbina's absurd decision, here.) Fortunately, in a well reasoned decision authored by Judge Raymond Randolph (which I discussed here), the DC Circuit Court of Appeals overruled Judge Urbina, holding that just because courts have the power to review whether a prisoner is properly designated an enemy combatant does not mean they have the power to order the release into the United States of those found not to be enemy combatants. The Uighurs appealed, and today the Justice Department filed its responsive brief. Solicitor General Elena Kagan argued — consistent with the Bush administration position — that the Uighurs have no right to be released into the U.S.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Washington state is far short of its target for biofuel

Another bold Locke/Gregoire move. Set a high goal, then miss it by a mile. Then say... What do they say? Governor Locke set the goal of the state's fleet of vehicles using 20% biodiesel by June 1, 2009. No single agency will meet that goal, let alone the total fleet. They got to 2.1%. Hey, that's over 10% of their goal! A subsequent law, HB2424, signed by Chris Gregoire in 2006 has no penalties for noncompliance. This is the government! Penalties are for citizens and private industry. What does Chris Gregoire say now?
"I don't want to lose the momentum that we've built up..."
The big problem was cost. Biofuels cost more. Surprise! Supply is somewhat tight because farmers won't plant unless there is a market for their crops. The refiners invested big money and have idle plants, like Imperium in Hoquiam. That state said "Go ahead and invest;" it would be the market, but hasn't been good for its word. But it's good for us taxpayers that Chris Gregoire's government has had some restraint on costs Everett Herald: Washington state way off its target for biofuel

Speak out against government takeover of medical care Saturday

If our US government can save money on health care why don't they do it first with Medicare? But without rationing. Hugh Hewitt explains. Dick Morris has a succinct way to express the big problem of single-payer. Now when your insurance denies a benefit to you they say "we won't pay for it." You have to option of paying for it yourself. But when Big Government runs the whole show they will say "You can't have the treatment." Just plain "NO" and you will have no options. The strategy is not to go straight to single-payer, but to allow private insurance to "compete" against the federal government. The government doesn't compete; it monopolizes. After it starts they will change the rules to drive out the privates. Then they will have complete control.

There will be a march against the government takeover of medical care - in response to a march in favor.

Saturday 1:00 pm across from Westlake Park - on the north side of Pine St. between 4th and 5th Avenues.

This gathering is ahead of when the march will arrive. So plan to be there for a long time. Bring a creative sign. Organized by Seattle Sons & Daughters of Liberty.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Goode Family: Creator of Beavis and Butt-Head and King of the Hill Has a New Target: Environmentalists

You can enjoy fun being poked at the sincere, serious people who fall for every environmental cause du jour - on prime-time TV; it started Wednesday on ABC WSJ.com:
Director Mike Judge’s new animated television series “The Goode Family” is a send-up of a clan of environmentalists who live by the words “What would Al Gore do?” Gerald and Helen Goode want nothing more than to minimize their carbon footprint. They feed their dog, Che, only veggies (much to the pet’s dismay) and Mr. Goode dutifully separates sheets of toilet paper when his wife accidentally buys two-ply. And, of course, the family drives a hybrid. ... Much as Mr. Judge’s series “King of the Hill” finds humor in the dramas of a working-class Texas family, “Goode” lampoons a liberal Midwestern household. In “Goode,” the characters are often mocked for being green just to fit in with their friends and neighbors. They are a perfect target for the 46-year-old Mr. Judge and his two longtime co-writers, John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky, who have made careers out of finding humor in the follies and pretensions of everyday people....
The New York Times hits Judge hard:
But the show feels aggressively off-kilter with the current mood, as if it had been incubated in the early to mid-’90s, when it was possible to find global-warming skeptics among even the reasonable and informed. Who really thinks of wind power — an allusion to which is a running visual gag in the show — as mindless, left-wing nonsense anymore? Mr. Judge, who remains obsessed with the absurdities of political correctness, still has his head very much in the Clinton years, and it is possible to watch “The Goode Family” feeling so thoroughly transported back to another time that you wonder where all the Monica Lewinsky jokes went. Sometimes you’ve just got to grab your cup of free-trade coffee and move on.
And the Seattle PI says:
Why?
One link is via Redistributing Knowledge.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Shake-up in Seattle schools coming?

A group of parents are telling Seattle Schools "enough!" The circus in the Seattle central office has hampered the schools for years. Principals have been chosen for diversity and political reasons rather than to put in the leader who will focus on improving instruction. But even if the right leader is there they don't allow him/her to control the school.* And the financial mismanagement is legendary. But it's Ho Hum... We are so used to politics over quality. But this year's layoff of all the young, energetic, new teachers has energized people. The "seniority over capability" policy in the Seattle Education Association’s contract reads, under article XII, section A.5:
“The performance ratings (evaluation) of employees shall not be a factor in determining the order of layoff….”
It's there in print: how successful or how effective a teacher is, does not factor at all in the layoff decisions. Even Danny Westneat has to notice: Shake-up in schools coming soon | Seattle Times Newspaper:
Maybe it was brought on by lean times. Or maybe long-simmering angst about the state of Seattle schools is finally boiling over on its own. But the decision this month to lay off 165 of Seattle schools' newest teachers in a "last hired, first fired" manner has got some of liberal Seattle suddenly sounding more like a conservative red state. More than 600 school parents have signed an online petition, at supportgreatteachers.com, that calls out the teachers union for causing "great distress and upheaval" in the schools. At issue is the policy of choosing who gets laid off solely by seniority. "Wake up and see how union refusal to consider merit is damaging the profession and our kids," wrote one parent. "We want the best teachers, not the oldest, teaching our kids," wrote another. "Teacher unions are an anachronism," said another. The organizers of the petition are a group of parents called Community and Parents for Public Schools. They agree what they're doing is very un-Seattle. They're fed up with calcified bureaucracy. They see how schools in Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., are being shaken up by market-oriented approaches. Such as charter schools. But in Seattle, no politician seems willing to question the system. So it is left to parents. "I am so not a Republican," laughed Andrew Kwatinetz, vice president of the group. He's an ex-Microsoftie with two kids in Seattle Public Schools. "I think what we are is extremely frustrated about policies that make little sense that are eroding the quality of the schools." The latest issue — the last-hired, first-fired seniority policy — has become a hot button because many schools are set to lose two or three of their youngest, most energetic teachers. "We're asking that they apply some judgment," Kwatinetz said. "The blanket way they do it now is kind of an insult to our intelligence as parents."
Kwatinetz is right on his last point; it's in line with what school administrators think of parents. It's not that they specifically want to protect younger teacher. They want to put effectiveness first. Their web site is SupportGreatTeachers! * Update: Putting the principal in charge is the first of Liv Finne's "Eight practical ways to reverse the decline of public schools" at Washington Policy Center

Dishonest headline of the day

This analysis of adding 131 million people to Medicare covers the likelihood of rapid cost increases. Tennessee got burned by its bold experiment to cover everyone. Massachusetts also. Medicare was projected to save money, but costs increased right away. Politico's headline calls the game for Obama. But the analysis is shows clearly what can go wrong and chances that it will. See? How Obama can win health care debate - Philip Klein - POLITICO.com:
... To defeat him, Republicans will have to expose his claims for being about as honest as those old comic book ads hawking 7-foot-long submarines. ... But history and good sense contradict the president. People who receive subsidies for any good or service consume more, driving up costs. This has proved true for health care wherever government has expanded coverage. Tennessee launched TennCare in 1994, which made more people eligible for Medicaid benefits. By 2003, a McKinsey and Co. report commissioned by the state deemed the program “not financially viable,” and Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen was forced to rein it in. In 2006, Massachusetts enacted universal health care legislation that created an exchange enabling individuals to use subsidies to purchase state-regulated insurance plans. Costs have since skyrocketed, and less than three years into its implementation, experts have concluded that the program is unsustainable. Despite this, Obama’s own campaign proposal and most of the ideas floating around Congress involve creating something similar at the national level. With the Social Security and Medicare Trustees warning last week that the entitlement crisis is approaching sooner than previously anticipated, Obama is asserting that health care reform is entitlement reform. But Medicare is costly not simply because each unit of health care is expensive but also because its beneficiaries consume a lot of units of health care. And once baby boomers retire, there will be many more beneficiaries. ...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Rachel Corrie Foundation | * * *

The Rachel Corrie Foundation | Columnists | Jerusalem Post : The Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice was established. It supports "programs that foster connections between people, that build understanding, respect and appreciation for differences and that promote cooperation within and between local and global communities. The foundation encourages and supports grassroots efforts in pursuit of human rights and social, economic and environmental justice." However, the foundation's Web site almost exclusively focuses on Israeli injustices (its homepage is dominated exclusively by Gaza related stories), which contradicts its contention that it seeks to enhance peace among fractured communities around the globe. And yet, human rights violations that are daily occurrences in places like Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and Sudan, as well as the human rights abuses that take place in Gaza, perpetrated by the very people that Rachel Corrie innocently went to help, are nowhere addressed. To read through the Web site, Israel is the major civil liberties villain in the world. I WRITE these lines because I was recently in Olympia. In virtually every store I entered in this small picturesque town overlooking Puget Sound, there was a portrait of Rachel Corrie. So prominent is her presence in the town that those who attach to her death a manifestation of heroism tried to push through a resolution that would establish Rafah as a sister city of Olympia. The city council rejected the proposition. The Web site creates the clear impression that there is an official relationship between Olympia and Rafah, which prompted me to write Cathie Butler, the communications manager of Olympia, who responded: "Mr. Forman - The city of Olympia does not have a sister city relationship with Rafah. The city council considered such a proposal from a citizen group a few years ago, but did not endorse it." Olympia's city council recognized that which the Corrie family has yet to accept: A rush to a discriminatory proposal does not serve a higher goal of social concern based on fairness and egalitarianism. This discriminatory attitude is reinforced as the Web site calls attention to a presentation by Rachel's parents, Craig and Cindy Corrie, on their recent visit to Gaza. If the purpose of the foundation is to "foster connections between people that build understanding and respect," why did the Corries not visit southern Israel at the same time? Then again: Why should facts confuse those who are involved in the work of the foundation? Given its lofty goals, how is it that there is not a word mentioned about a high-level delegation from Gaza that joined Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's gathering in Iran to lend support to President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan after he was accused by the International Court of the Hague of committing genocide, or for that matter, any mention of the violent takeover of Gaza by Hamas, or the firing of rockets into the Negev?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Blue-Star Highway - Honoring our veterans

Aurora Avenue in Seattle has a plaque marking it as a Blue-Star Highway. Blue-Star Highways - there are many - honor our US military veterans. Aurora is State Highway 99; for decades it was US 99 - the Pacific Coast Highway from Tijuana to Vancouver, BC, Canada. The plaque on Aurora Aveneu is at N. 65 St. Two friends and neighbors, Gary Epps and Mike Shelton, saw the sign was in bad shape, so they did something; they repaired it. Seattle Times Newspaper:
The Blue Star Memorial Highway marker, on a triangular patch of grass just north of North 65th Street on Aurora Avenue North, was among hundreds installed across the country to honor the men and women of the armed forces after World War II. But over the years, the 57-year-old marker had been run over, bent and haphazardly welded together. A bad paint job had left the sign nearly impossible to read. The two men have been close friends since Shelton and his family moved across the street from Epps and his family about 16 years ago, and they decided to move quickly. "We saw a need to do it, so we did it," said Shelton, a 50-year-old property manager, husband and father of three who once mowed the lawn of a nearby school simply because it needed doing. They spent less than $100 and less than three weeks getting the marker pressure-washed, primed, repainted and ready for a rededication ceremony Saturday attended by members of the state's Garden Club and the Washington State Guard.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

How Boeing is fighting climate change

The CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes takes to the national media to explain what Boeing is doing. Does he make the case for a new fuel-efficiency standard for new airplanes? Boeing has already flown a GE powered 747 using biofuels. And Rolls Royce powered 747. So is he right that the government is needed to get the biofuels industry going? How Boeing Fights Climate Change - WSJ.com:
Addressing climate change is a particularly difficult challenge for commercial aviation. While technologies like batteries work for cars, they don't work for airplanes that require powerful propulsion systems. The good news is that there are things we can do to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of commercial planes -- and we're well on our way. At Boeing, we're tackling carbon emissions on three fronts. First, we are working to make each new generation of airplane lighter and more fuel efficient. There's plenty of incentive to develop more efficient airplanes. Historically, fuel has been the airlines' second-biggest operating expense next to labor. Last year, with oil reaching $140 a barrel, fuel costs even outstripped labor costs, rising to 40% of total airline operating expenses. So airlines have demanded increased efficiency from airplane and engine manufacturers. And manufacturers have responded big time. Over the past 50 years, the efficiency of commercial jets has risen an astounding 70%. This means that carbon emissions per mile flown have dropped 70% -- all without a regulatory requirement for greenhouse gas emissions. That said, we believe properly structured regulations could be useful. It's not often that an industry asks for additional regulation, but Boeing, GE and other airplane and engine manufacturers are convinced that a fuel-efficiency standard for new airplanes is an effective way to drive the development of fuel-saving technologies. ... While it's important to make airplanes more efficient, it's also critical that the system in which they fly is modernized. That's why our second major initiative is the work we're doing to improve air-traffic management. Fortunately, the technologies needed to give controllers and pilots a more precise picture of weather conditions and airplane positions, and the networking technologies needed to instantaneously share that information, already exist. Precision information, commonly shared, safely enables such fuel-saving and emissions-reducing operational changes as continuous, low-power descents, more direct routing, closer spacing, and curved approaches to landing. The challenge is getting the government to make the Federal Aviation Administration's plan for implementing these technologies, called NextGen, a priority. The government should commit long-term funding to ensure that it's completed as swiftly as possible. Third, we have been testing various advanced, sustainable biofuels with the goal of finding renewable fuels for aviation that don't compete with food crops for land and water and that emit 50%-80% less carbon than petroleum. We have conducted test flights using mixtures of standard jet fuel and several different sustainable biofuels, among them fuels made from algae and camelina (a plant that produces seeds that aren't used for food). All performed extremely well in flight. What's more, we have demonstrated that these and other sustainable biofuels have a lower freeze point than petroleum -- a very important characteristic for aviation. They also can have higher energy content per gallon. We're confident that sustainable biofuels will be price competitive with petroleum in the long-term. But government help -- consistent with international trade agreements -- is needed to get an aviation biofuels industry up and running....

How The Private Sector, Not The Feds, Is Tracking Stimulus Spending in Real Time

Our esteemed Vice President doesn't know it, but someone is tracking the massive spending undertaken by Obama/Biden. He promised to do it, but is very slow to carry out his word. His web site is mostly show now; it will be up to speed in October. Recovery.org is working today. Reason.tv Remember the day when President Barack Obama promised that concerned citizens would be able to track "every dime" of stimulus money online? He was talking about the official government website, Recovery.gov. Which doesn't have any details about contracts or grants yet—and won't until October 2009 or, more likely, sometime next year, long after the thrill of living is gone and a huge chunk of the $787 billion stimulus package has already been frittered away on "shovel-ready" projects such as the John Murtha-Johnstown Cambria County Airport (pop. 20 passengers a day). Thankfully, the folks at the information-services firm Onvia stepped in and created the site Recovery.org, which is already on the case and showing, as much as is possible, who is getting what.

Chrysler and the Rule of Law - WSJ.com

Stealing from the Chrysler bond holders was unconstitutional. Of course, Obama says not to do so would have been unfair. But what Obama did was illegal. He took the oath to uphold the Constitution, but violated it. Chrysler and the Rule of Law - WSJ.com: The rule of law, not of men -- an ideal tracing back to the ancient Greeks and well-known to our Founding Fathers -- is the animating principle of the American experiment. While the rest of the world in 1787 was governed by the whims of kings and dukes, the U.S. Constitution was established to circumscribe arbitrary government power. It would do so by establishing clear rules, equally applied to the powerful and the weak. Fleecing lenders to pay off politically powerful interests, or governmental threats to reputation and business from a failure to toe a political line? We might expect this behavior from a Hugo Chávez. But it would never happen here, right? Until Chrysler. The close relationship between the rule of law and the enforceability of contracts, especially credit contracts, was well understood by the Framers of the U.S. Constitution. A primary reason they wanted it was the desire to escape the economic chaos spawned by debtor-friendly state laws during the period of the Articles of Confederation

Friday, May 22, 2009

Chris Gregoire asks Legislature then goes around it

She supported a bill for cap and trade. The Legislature didn't pass it so she found she didn't need legislative approval; she can dictate Washington participation. What made the Governor suddenly realize that that legislative support she had sought for a strong climate-action bill was not necessary? In case democracy doesn't work - Washington Policy Blog:
The Environmental Protection Agency is in Seattle today to hear testimony on their effort to regulate carbon emissions to mitigate the impact of climate change. One theme is emerging in government efforts on this issue -- don't leave legislation to legislators. This was put bluntly by a professor from Yale in today's Seattle Times. "In effect, the prospect of EPA regulation is a bulwark against Congress falling down on the job," said Dan Esty, a Yale University environmental professor. The philosophy expressed here is that constitutional checks and balances from elected representatives are useful only to the extent Congress does what is "right." Otherwise, the executive needs to step in and do whatever is necessary, other branches of government, and public opinion, notwithstanding. That general philosophy was put into action today in Washington when the Governor, who previously argued that the legislature must endorse her climate change legislation, suddenly realized that legislative approval was not needed. The Democratic majority in the legislature rejected the Governor's bill. As a result, she today announced an executive order that mirrored many of the elements of the bill lawmakers turned down. Here is the intent language of HB 1819, which failed to clear the House. NEW SECTION. Sec. 1. The legislature finds that Washington should maintain its leadership on climate change policy by implementing a cap on carbon emissions and developing strategies to achieve those reductions, including continuing Washington's participation in the design of a regional cap-and-trade program with the western climate initiative. Here is the language included in the Governor's executive order today. The Governor ordered: The Director of the Department of Ecology to: (a) Continue to participate in the Western Climate Initiative to develop a regional greenhouse gas emission reduction program and to work with the federal Administration, Washington’s congressional delegation and appropriate committees to help design a national greenhouse gas emission reduction program that reflects Washington State priorities. The Governor herself testified before the legislature in an effort to get support for the above language. The bill, despite that effort, died. In an opinion piece in April, the Governor wrote "Now we need a strong climate action bill from this year's Legislature to grasp the opportunities that await us." The question is, what made the Governor suddenly realize that that legislative support she had sought for a strong climate action bill was no longer necessary?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Jobs saved? VP has no data

Well, it's coming... real soon new... CNS News Vice President Joe Biden last week claimed that the federal stimulus spending program has created or saved 150,000 jobs since February, when President Barack Obama signed the stimulus bill into law. “In the first 77 days of the two-year Recovery Act program, 150,000 jobs have been created or saved,” Biden said in a press release accompanying the report.  However, the basis for his claim is elusive at best.   The progress report on the stimulus plan released last week by the vice president’s office contained no such figure, nor did it reference any other document that might corroborate Biden’s claim. “The Quarterly Report to the President on Progress Implementing the Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009” did mention another, mandatory report that won't be released until October 2009. It adds that the vice president’s office is instituting an “unprecedented” level of transparency.

'Paradox' of carbon cap and trade dawns on German warmists

Some Germans are waking up. Those in the know avoid saying anything and claim it is a paradox. * * Adding a lot of wind turbines at great expense has not lowered the CO2 levels. * * American Thinker Blog: Once again, the adverse consequences of poorly-conceived environmental policies dawns on mush-headed greenies. Germany's Spiegel posts an article puzzling over the consequences of that nation's sweeping carbon emissions legislation, conceding that it has not reduced carbon emissions one gram. To Spiegel and the warmists, this is somehow a "paradox"
The EU-wide emissions trading system determines the total amount of CO2 that can be emitted by power companies and industries. And this amount doesn't change -- no matter how many wind turbines are erected. Experts have known about this situation for some time, but it still isn't widely known to the public. Even Germany's government officials mention it only under their breath. No one wants to discuss the political ramifications.
They are correct to be worried. Never mind the flaws in warmist consensus-based "science" targeting CO2, part of the life cycle, as a pollutant supposedly causing global warming. Even within the closed circle of warmist thinking, these policies are not working. The Germans have been conned into a lot of expense, and don't accomplish their stated goal.
In the worst case scenario, sustainable energy plants might even have a detrimental effect on the climate. As more wind turbines go online, coal plants will be able to reduce their output. This in itself is desirable -- but the problem is that the total number of available CO2 emission certificates remains the same. In other words, there will suddenly be more certificates per kilowatt of coal energy. That means the price per ton of CO2 emitted will fall. ... Germany was able to sell unused certificates across Europe -- to coal companies in countries like Poland or Slovakia, for example. Thanks to Germany's wind turbines, these companies were then able to emit more greenhouse gases than originally planned. Given the often lower efficiency of Eastern European power plants, this is anything but environmentally beneficial.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Does President O support Pelosi that CIA lied to her?

Does our president support the CIA? They keep us safe. Or politician Pelosi? She said the CIA lied to her about interrogation. CIA Director Leon Panetta says they have records that they told her certain interrogation techniques were being used. Barack, get off the fence: New York Daily News: He's the man with the silver tongue, "a gift," as he once called his inspired ability with words. Yet while a heated battle with national security implications rages around him, President Obama has pushed his mute button. It's been six days since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi went wiggy and accused the Central Intelligence Agency of repeatedly lying to her and others in Congress, saying "they mislead us all the time." But Obama has not said a single word on the subject. His press secretary has brushed off efforts by reporters to learn whether Obama agrees with fellow Democrat Pelosi or with Leon Panetta, his CIA director. Panetta, a former Democratic congressman himself, forcefully rejected Pelosi's charges, which, if true, would constitute serious crimes.

Soak the Rich, Lose the Rich and Jobs

Don't you wish we had an income tax, so we could be like California and New York? We could really crank it on the rich. Make them suffer by paying a lot more and reducing the burden on us. But they can leave and when they do so you can't milk them anymore. And the rich are investros; when they depart, so do jobs. Many academic studies have shown that high state and local taxes send jobs away - more on this below. In New York Thomas Golisano is a Rochester business big wig with strong ties to the community. But Governor Patterson is raising their already high taxes even higher, so Golisano is leaving and New York is going to lose a lot of tax revenue. Buffalo News
Ending any speculation about another possible run for governor, Rochester businessman and Sabres owner B. Thomas Golisano said Thursday he will be moving his legal residence to Florida to escape New York state taxes. Golisano told a gathering of Rochester business executives that he will remain as owner of the Buffalo hockey team, but he is fleeing the Empire State to avoid paying $13,000 a day in state income taxes.
And the Wall Street Journal shows that New York is not alone. High tax states are losing people and the lows are gaining. It seems that low-tax is usually synonymous with having no income tax. But we know they are separated in Washington. WSJ.com: (I don't think a subscription is required.)
With states facing nearly $100 billion in combined budget deficits this year, we're seeing more governors than ever proposing the Barack Obama solution to balancing the budget: Soak the rich. Lawmakers in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York and Oregon want to raise income tax rates on the top 1% or 2% or 5% of their citizens. New Illinois Gov. Patrick Quinn wants a 50% increase in the income tax rate on the wealthy because this is the "fair" way to close his state's gaping deficit. Mr. Quinn and other tax-raising governors have been emboldened by recent studies by left-wing groups like the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities that suggest that "tax increases, particularly tax increases on higher-income families, may be the best available option." A recent letter to New York Gov. David Paterson signed by 100 economists advises the Empire State to "raise tax rates for high income families right away." Here's the problem for states that want to pry more money out of the wallets of rich people. It never works because people, investment capital and businesses are mobile: They can leave tax-unfriendly states and move to tax-friendly states. And the evidence that we discovered in our new study for the American Legislative Exchange Council, "Rich States, Poor States," published in March, shows that Americans are more sensitive to high taxes than ever before. The tax differential between low-tax and high-tax states is widening, meaning that a relocation from high-tax California or Ohio, to no-income tax Texas or Tennessee, is all the more financially profitable both in terms of lower tax bills and more job opportunities. Updating some research from Richard Vedder of Ohio University, we found that from 1998 to 2007, more than 1,100 people every day including Sundays and holidays moved from the nine highest income-tax states such as California, New Jersey, New York and Ohio and relocated mostly to the nine tax-haven states with no income tax, including Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire and Texas.
Jobs and income growth also:
We also found that over these same years the no-income tax states created 89% more jobs and had 32% faster personal income growth than their high-tax counterparts. Did the greater prosperity in low-tax states happen by chance? Is it coincidence that the two highest tax-rate states in the nation, California and New York, have the biggest fiscal holes to repair? No. Dozens of academic studies -- old and new -- have found clear and irrefutable statistical evidence that high state and local taxes repel jobs and businesses. Martin Feldstein, Harvard economist and former president of the National Bureau of Economic Research, co-authored a famous study in 1998 called "Can State Taxes Redistribute Income?" This should be required reading for today's state legislators. It concludes: "Since individuals can avoid unfavorable taxes by migrating to jurisdictions that offer more favorable tax conditions, a relatively unfavorable tax will cause gross wages to adjust. . . . A more progressive tax thus induces firms to hire fewer high skilled employees and to hire more low skilled employees." More recently, Barry W. Poulson of the University of Colorado last year examined many factors that explain why some states grew richer than others from 1964 to 2004 and found "a significant negative impact of higher marginal tax rates on state economic growth." In other words, soaking the rich doesn't work. To the contrary, middle-class workers end up taking the hit.
And we know that first it's only the rich and investment, then it's you. The original US income tax was started at 1% (up to 7%) and only on the richest 1% of taxpayers. But soon the workers were ensnared by increases by Woodrow Wilson, then FDR.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Netanyahu stands firm against demands from Obama

The European journalists don't suck up to Obama. Here is the straight story Netanyahu stands firm against demands from Obama - Telegraph: Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, in his first meeting with the US president, made it clear that while he welcomed Mr Obama's commitment to the region, he was more concerned about dealing with the threat of Iran than peace talks. Mr Obama was unable to secure any commitments on ceasing the construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank or embracing the "two-state solution" to achieving peace in the Middle East. Sitting side by side in the White House, the two leaders hailed the friendship between their two countries but remained far apart on how to proceed towards a resolution of the 60-year conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

Obama backs away from reforming free trade deal

Obama lies during campaign. Decides to ask responsibly after elected. He made foolish promises to hinder international trade, but his advisors remind him that trade helps our economy, not hurts. And when he promised to reopen NAFTA Canada and Mexico responded "Yes, let's. We want terms more favorable to us." Washington Examiner : Congressional Democrats from economically struggling regions are getting frustrated as President Barack Obama backs away from campaign promises to renegotiate NAFTA. “I am greatly disappointed that the administration seems to have backpedaled on trade, specifically on the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement,” said Rep. Mike Michaud, D-Maine., who says his state has lost thousands of jobs because of NAFTA. “President Obama campaigned on this issue, and I’m disappointed that he’s walking away from that commitment.” Just last month, Obama’s trade representative, Ron Kirk, backed off the much tougher stance on the 15-year-old trade agreement between the U.S., Mexico and Canada that the president took last year as he vied for votes in some of the most economically depressed areas of the country. “The president has said we will look at all options,” Kirk told reporters in April. “But I think they can be addressed without having to reopen the agreement.” Kirk’s statement dealt a blow to senators such as Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Kay Hagan, D-N.C., who blame NAFTA for destroying the manufacturing economies in their states. “I’m disappointed,” Brown said. “There is pent-up demand for a new approach that starts with fixing what is not working, including NAFTA.” Kirk’s words also surprised Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, who accompanied candidate Obama last year though places like Youngstown and Toledo, which she says have been devastated by cheap Mexican imports. When Obama was trying unsuccessfully to close the gap on Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Ohio Democratic primary, he pushed hard against the trade agreement Clinton’s husband had championed. Obama not only verbally promised voters there a NAFTA re-do, he did it in writing. “Bad Trade Deals Hit Ohio Harder Than Most States and Only Barack Obama Consistently Opposed NAFTA,” declared an Obama campaign leaflet picturing a shuttered factory. “He made those statements in the Youngstown area,” Kaptur recalled. “And when these words are heard, they mean something. Now people are waiting for the results of that.” In December, Obama decided to appoint Kirk to the job of U.S. trade representative. The former mayor of Dallas is a vocal supporter of NAFTA, as trade with Mexico has created jobs in Texas and a steady stream of truck traffic through his city.

Monday, May 18, 2009

State Auditor Sonntag plays hardball over "dumb" cut to performance audits

In their desperation to save money the Legislature made a cut that will result in more spending, not less. State Auditor Brian Sonntag has made some real hits (baseball analogy) with his performance audits. He is hurting our elected officials' ability to protect their favorite programs and hire each other's kids. He is using objective measures and informed judgment. They just had to do something! Seattle Times Newspaper:
State Auditor Brian Sonntag is a serious baseball fan. He's a regular at Mariners games and has a rack stuffed with 20 wooden bats in his office. An inscribed ceramic ball on his desk reads: "Sometimes you just have to play hardball." Hardball is what the 57-year-old Democrat seems to have in mind when it comes to fighting the Legislature's $29 million cut to his performance-audit program, which seeks to find efficiencies in state and local governments. He's asked Gov. Chris Gregoire to restore at least some of the money, saying the cut "decimates" a program that's found millions in potential savings. Gregoire is expected to decide by Tuesday. Sonntag has publicly described the money grab as a "sucker punch" and has thrown around words like "stupid," "dumb," "ridiculous" and "unacceptable" when talking about the plan. That's not how politicians typically describe the work of other elected officials, especially members of their party who control the purse strings. Senate Ways and Means Chairwoman Margarita Prentice, D-Renton, said Sonntag is blowing the impact of the cut out of proportion. Her advice to him: "Cool it." ... Sonntag's office said it's working on a report that will show how much money the audits have saved. It's not available yet, but the office points to an audit of the state Department of Labor and Industries as an example. The audit recommended ways to improve the agency's collection of benefit overpayments. As a result, the department had a 50 percent increase in collections, worth $4.6 million in 2007, according to the auditor's office and Labor and Industries. Overall, Sonntag's office has received high marks for several performance audits, including a 2007 review of the Port of Seattle that said its contracting practices were lax and ripe for fraud and abuse. The audit prompted a federal investigation and a Port-funded probe that identified 10 cases of fraud. A series of audits of the state Department of Transportation, however, received mixed reviews. ...
If you agree with distinguished Senator Prentice then sit on your hands. If you agree with Sonntag then call Chris Gregoire. See also Save Perfornance Audits - Evergreen Freedom Foundation - Olympian "Give the money back to audit program" At one of those sources I saw the email addresses of Chris Gregoire's senior staff members in a comment; don't recall which.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Employee health cost becomes a King County Exec issue

What kind of person will rule King County - one of the largest county governments in the country? A person who will put the unions first? Or the taxpayers? Why don't county employees pay anything for their health care? Politics Northwest at Seattle Times
As the council looks at a 2010 budget shortfall of up to $50 million, more people are asking why county employees don't pay a monthly premium for health-care coverage as most other Washington workers do. It's a particularly tricky issue for county exec candidates Dow Constantine and Larry Phillips, Democrats who have had cordial ties with organized labor but who are facing candidates who say the county should cut labor costs before asking taxpayers to pony up more money. They face potentially strong opponents in three "outsiders" -- state legislators Ross Hunter and Fred Jarrett and former TV news anchor Susan Hutchison. Constantine is trying to get his arms around the problem by proposing that non-union-represented employees pay 2 percent of any earnings above about $60,000 for health coverage. The county can't impose cost-sharing on union members without first bargaining the issue.
A commenter there says that 800 people making over $100,000 and 2000 making more than $80,000 receive full medical benefits without paying. I don't know the source for this number. But why don't people in safe jobs at high salaries pay part? Now Ron Sims, true to form, "did something" about rising costs. He appointed a commission and directed them to stay away from making employees pay. The commission was hard hitting: they commended county efforts. And he formed an alliance. And the result is... higher costs and employees don't take any more responsibility for their own care. Did anyone see anything beyond bold words come out of the 2003 commission or Puget Sound Health Alliance? I will give the county and its employees credit for taking days off without pay this year. But how about next year? And we are electing a leader for 4 or more years.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Majority of Americans are Pro-Life for the first time

Gallop Poll A new Gallup Poll, conducted May 7-10, finds 51% of Americans calling themselves "pro-life" on the issue of abortion and 42% "pro-choice." This is the first time a majority of U.S. adults have identified themselves as pro-life since Gallup began asking this question in 1995. The new results, obtained from Gallup's annual Values and Beliefs survey, represent a significant shift from a year ago, when 50% were pro-choice and 44% pro-life. Prior to now, the highest percentage identifying as pro-life was 46%, in both August 2001 and May 2002. The May 2009 survey documents comparable changes in public views about the legality of abortion. In answer to a question providing three options for the extent to which abortion should be legal, about as many Americans now say the procedure should be illegal in all circumstances (23%) as say it should be legal under any circumstances (22%). This contrasts with the last four years, when Gallup found a strong tilt of public attitudes in favor of unrestricted abortion. I get an error uploading the graphic. Add it later. It makes the situation clearer.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Medicare is going to bankrupt us so make it much much larger. NOT

Megan McArdle points out that this is nonsense. Megan McArdle at The Atlantic Perhaps predictably, someone showed up in the comments to my post on Medicare and Social Security to argue that liberal analysts have very serious plans to cut Medicare's costs, which is why we need universal coverage, so that we can implement those very serious plans. I hear this argument quite often, and it's gibberish in a prom dress. Any cost savings you want to wring out of Medicare can be wrung out of Medicare right now: the program is large and powerful enough, and costly enough, that they are worth doing without adding a single new person to the mix. Conversely, if there is some political or institutional barrier which is preventing you from controlling Medicare cost inflation, than that barrier probably is not going away merely because the program covers more people. Indeed, to the extent that seniors themselves are the people blocking change (as they often are), adding more users makes it harder, not easier, to get things done.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The president is wrong to block oil and gas production

Reason Magazine: It's only a matter of time before President Barack Obama's vast popularity runs aground on his energy policies. In the name of saving the planet from global warming, he has delayed new oil drilling, an action that will have major political repercussions once the world economy recovers. Instead of using some the stimulus billions to produce more gas and oil, Obama's wild-eyed supporters dream of "renewable" energy derived from corn, wind, sunshine, and even grass. With the appointment of extremists like climate czar Carol Browner and science adviser John Holdren, Obama has placed his administration's environmental policy in the hands of radicals. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar proposes replacing oil and coal with windmills. Yet Barron's recently reported that America would need to build 500,000 giant offshore windmills and transmission lines to produce Salazar's specified 1,900 gigawatts of electricity. In contrast, oil and gas drilling could provide hundreds of thousands of solid, well-paying blue-collar jobs. Washington Post economics columnist Robert Samuelson explains this in "The Bias Against Oil & Gas," describing how alternative energy job creation is miniscule compared to what an expansion of oil production would create. Meanwhile, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) have proposed legislation giving legal standing to allow Americans to sue any company that produces "greenhouse" gasses. All of these things are happening at a time when natural gas is abundant and cheap. The new technology of horizontal fraccing has made it economically feasible to drill into vast shale deposits in many states, even famously difficult ones like Michigan and New York. Many cars could run on natural gas, much like many buses do already. On a recent trip to Peru, I learned that most taxicabs have been converted to natural gas for a cost of about $1,000 each. New technologies continually revive old oil and gas fields and make new ones economically viable. So it's little more than socialist Malthusianism to argue that the world is running out of cheap energy. Science will always find and harness new sources. Even the liberal New Republic recently admitted that, "Utopian environmentalism has, to some extent, always promised to heal the alienation wrought by modernity... it is a form of escapism and disengagement from reality." The extremists scoff at science and would apparently prefer scarcity so that bureaucratic rationing will enforce a change in American lifestyles.

Ready to hold the hospitals hostage to a general tax increase

Joe Turner of the Tacoma News Tribune found money that was going to be held hostage to convince voters they had to vote to increase the state sales tax. Both houses of the Legislature decreased the cut to hospitals after they gave up on asking for the tax increase. They no longer could use the hostage, so they let it go and increased funding by $36.5 million (that is, decreased the cut). Political Buzz - The News Tribune | Tacoma, WA:
... The final budget restored $36.5 million to the amount of money that was going to cut from state payments to hospitals for inpatient and outpatient, the biggest component. When the House and Senate came out with their original budgets March 30-31, BOTH of them were going to cut hospital funding by $157.6 million in 2009-11. The final budget cut funding by only $121.1 million. The final budget restored $36.5 million to the amount of money that was going to cut from state payments to hospitals for inpatient and outpatient, the biggest component. When the House and Senate came out with their original budgets March 30-31, BOTH of them were going to cut hospital funding by $157.6 million in 2009-11. The final budget cut funding by only $121.1 million. That's not a case of the two chambers having different amounts and then compromising on an amount somewhere in between the two. I suspect state budget-writers decided to lessen the blow to hospitals because there wasn't enough support to put a 0.3 percent sales tax hike on the ballot. That meant, there was no chance to raise $1.1 billion over 3 years. And that meant there was no way to buy back cuts to health care programs, mainly to hospitals and nursing homes. (If you'll recall, the hospitals and nursing homes, along with the Service Employees International Union locals 775 and 1199, were the driving forces behind the tax package. Well, and House Speaker Frank Chopp.) But as my critical reader says, I'm just looking for conspiracies. And I am. One reason this is important is because I asked -- before the final budget came out and before the tax referendum went into the tax -- if the budget would be revised if there were no tax measure on the ballot. And key House leaders told me, "No." And yet, it does appear the budget was redone to soften the blow to hospitals and nursing homes. That's my conspiracy theory and I'm sticking to it.

One year of recovery fun

May 13, 2008 I was riding my Easy Racer Folding Gold Rush home from work. It was rainy; I was descending a steep hill just east of Microsoft's headquarters when i slipped, fell and broke the left hip socket of my pelvis. See Broken pelvis about the original injury, surgery and recovery and Thanks. I never got my energy back and continued to require a cane to walk. Then I was putting more weight on the cane when I should be progressing to less. The surgery at Harborview Hospital successfully helped my pelvis to heal, but despite three stainless-steel plates, the hip socket didn't form round like it needs to be. So it tore up the ball at the end of my femur. So I had a second surgery March 16 to patch up an unhealed area and do a complete hip replacement at Valley Medical Center in Renton. I have a huge chunk of stainless steel in me now. The "patch" was a bone graft. Now don't wince because when they do a hip replacement there is lots of bone to spare; they don't have to cut into another area of your body. The additional repair put me on crutches at 50% weight bearing for - well, I am over - "4 to 6 weeks," now it will be 9 weeks. I missed over 4 months work and have days less than 5 months using crutches - plural. I also used one crutch for about a month. One crutch gives a little more weight bearing and a lot more stability compared to the cane. I have no big complaints. Well, one exception below. Life has not been bad. I have received support from friends and strangers all the time. At coffee shops their instinct is to carry the drink for a person on crutches. People always hold the door for me. And lots of people prayed for me and gave me support. Boeing's short-term leave covered the first three months last summer (not at full pay, but much more than half) and 5 weeks this spring. But when I wanted to return to work in late August I could work in the morning but had to sleep in the afternoon. But Aetna did not cover it. Their book said 8 to 12 weeks: "Mr. Hebron doesn't have to carry over 10 lbs. (but I do) and he can sit," so I didn't need any more according to the experts at saying "No." But my management doesn't pay me to take naps. So I used up what little sick leave and vacation I had and was out thousands of dollars. I expect to be off crutches next week and soon full weight bearing. I started physical therapy last week, so I can use more muscles now. Thank you for your prayers and support. - Ron Hebron

Video: Freshly painted All Nippon Airways 787 ZA002 rolls out

The 787 will fly soon. Boeing committed to the first flight during the second quarter of 2009. Here is the #2 aircraft coming out of the paint hangar yesterday. See the video at: FlightBlogger - Aviation News, Commentary and Analysis: Yesterday afternoon in Everett, shortly after ZA001 activated its auxiliary power system for the first time, ZA002 emerged freshly painted from Paint Hangar 45-03 wearing the company colors of 787 launch customer Japan's All Nippon Airways.

Stimulus watch - Money for jobs, but not where needed most

Even the Associated Press is noticing Obama isn't doing what he claims. Associated Press:
The billions in transportation stimulus dollars that President Barack Obama promoted as a way to create jobs shortchange counties that need the work the most, an Associated Press analysis has found. The AP's review of more than 5,500 planned transportation projects nationwide is the most complete picture available of where states plan to spend the first wave of highway money. It reveals that states are planning to spend 50 percent more per person in areas with the lowest unemployment than in communities with the highest. The Transportation Department said it will attempt to replicate the AP's analysis as it continues pressing states to dole out money fairly. One result among many: Elk County, Pa., isn't receiving any road money despite its 13.8 percent unemployment rate. Yet the military and college community of Riley County, Kan., with 3.4 percent unemployment, will benefit from about $56 million to build a highway, improve an intersection and restore a historic farmhouse.
But reality is optional to Obama's wise spokesman Robert Gibbs.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the findings don't mean that the neediest communities will not benefit. "Just because a road project is in one part of one county doesn't mean the benefits of those jobs created or the economic impact of that spending is simply isolated to that one area," he said.
But some Demos can see what's in front of their faces:
Others responded to the analysis Monday with concerns about the way the administration has represented stimulus spending and its effect on areas hardest hit by unemployment. "To some extent, I think the administration oversold the transportation aspect of this," said Jim Berard, spokesman for Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. "It was sold as the heart and soul of the package, and it really just isn't."

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

STIMULUS WATCH: Jobs, but not where needed most

Even the Associated Press is noticing Obama isn't doing what he claims. Associated Press:
The billions in transportation stimulus dollars that President Barack Obama promoted as a way to create jobs shortchange counties that need the work the most, an Associated Press analysis has found. The AP's review of more than 5,500 planned transportation projects nationwide is the most complete picture available of where states plan to spend the first wave of highway money. It reveals that states are planning to spend 50 percent more per person in areas with the lowest unemployment than in communities with the highest. The Transportation Department said it will attempt to replicate the AP's analysis as it continues pressing states to dole out money fairly. One result among many: Elk County, Pa., isn't receiving any road money despite its 13.8 percent unemployment rate. Yet the military and college community of Riley County, Kan., with 3.4 percent unemployment, will benefit from about $56 million to build a highway, improve an intersection and restore a historic farmhouse.
But reality is optional to Obama's wise spokesman.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the findings don't mean that the neediest communities will not benefit. "Just because a road project is in one part of one county doesn't mean the benefits of those jobs created or the economic impact of that spending is simply isolated to that one area," he said.
But some Demos can see:
Others responded to the analysis Monday with concerns about the way the administration has represented stimulus spending and its effect on areas hardest hit by unemployment. "To some extent, I think the administration oversold the transportation aspect of this," said Jim Berard, spokesman for Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. "It was sold as the heart and soul of the package, and it really just isn't."

Monday, May 11, 2009

What Congress Knew about interrogation techniques but now denies knowing

Pelosi... Rockefeller ... They were present at briefings about interrogation techniques. Madam Pelosi says she was never informed. And Senator Rockefeller claims the same. She can go on the Sunday news talk shows to answer questions and clear this understanding. Oh. She was suddenly called to Iraq, so she is not available. How inconvenient. What Congress Knew - WSJ.com: On September 4, 2002, Porter Goss, then the Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and Nancy Pelosi, the ranking Democratic member, were given a classified briefing by the CIA on what the Agency calls "enhanced interrogation techniques," or, in persistent media parlance, "torture." In particular, the CIA briefed the members on the use of these techniques on Abu Zubaydah, a high-ranking al Qaeda operative captured in Pakistan the previous March. Abu Zubaydah was a name the future Speaker was already familiar with. That spring, information obtained from the terrorist had the FBI and other government agencies scrambling to prevent possible attacks on the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge. It wasn't clear whether Abu Zubaydah was being truthful. "He is also very skilled at avoiding interrogation," Ms. Pelosi was quoted in Time magazine. "He is an agent of disinformation." It is precisely for such reasons that the CIA resorted to its enhanced techniques later that year, after gaining legal authorization. These days, Speaker Pelosi insists she heard and saw no evil. "We were not -- I repeat -- were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation methods were used," she told reporters late last month. "What they did tell us is that they had . . . the Office of Legal Counsel opinions [and] that they could be used, but not that they would." That doesn't square with the memory of Mr. Goss, who has noted that "we were briefed, and we certainly understood what the CIA was doing," adding that "Not only was there no objection, there was actually concern about whether the agency was doing enough." Ms. Pelosi's denials are also difficult to square with a chronology of 40 CIA briefings to Congressional Members compiled by the CIA and released this week by Director Leon Panetta... ... Amusingly, or almost, Senator Rockefeller's denial is flatly contradicted by his own report on the subject released last month, which notes that "On May 19, 2008, the Department of Justice and the Central Intelligence Agency provided the Committee with access to all opinions and a number of other documents prepared by the Office of Legal Counsel . . . concerning the legality of the CIA's detention and interrogation program. Five of these documents provided addressed the use of waterboarding." So much for the canard that the Bush Administration didn't keep Congress informed. But Congressional Democrats are being equally disingenuous when they pretend they could do nothing about what they were hearing from the CIA. Members could, and sometimes did, object to proposed CIA actions and could stop them in their tracks.

More importantly, Congress had the power of the purse. Pete Hoekstra, the House Committee's current ranking member, tells us there was "pretty bipartisan support for the authorization bills and the funding bills," at least until the issue blew wide in the pages of the press. Latter-day opponents of the interrogation techniques, he adds, "never used a tool that was available to them if they wanted to stop them."

Sunday, May 10, 2009

I'm Sick of Pelosi, Her Sanctimony and Her as Speaker

Marty Peretz is a titan of the left - publisher of The New Republic. When he speaks everyone listens. And he is willing to point out the elephant in the living room that no one else seems to notice. At his blog at The New Republic I'm Sick of Pelosi, Her Sanctimony and Her as Speaker; Maybe She Should Hand the Gavel Over to Jane Harman Read in Saturday's Washington Post the devastating report by Paul Kane about what she did and did not know about waterboarding. Well, my reading is that what she did not know was nothing. Nancy Pelosi is one of those Democrats who is trying to keep the ghost of George Bush alive so that his dishonesty and bumptioun continue to deflect from what's going on in Washington now. You see, it turns out that the C.I.A. did hold a briefing at which the waterboarding of Zayn al-Abidin Muhammed Hussein (Abu Zubaida) was discussed. This was in September 2002. Of course, Pelosi was invited but sent a top aide instead. Was she too busy to attend? We are to believe that Michael Sheehy told her nothing of any importance. But Jane Harman, whom left-wing Democrats often characterize as a patsy of the intelligence apparatus, did attend. What's more she wrote to the C.I.A. legal counsel protesting the use of waterboarding as being against American and constitutional norms. And Pelosi herself has admitted knowing that Harman had objected to such procedures. Every top Democrat is trying to cover her or his ass. Now that they are making such a fuss about the Bush administration having held everything in secret the news that it hadn't is mortifying to the Democrats now in power.

President of Costa Rica said positive words for the US at summit where

At the recent Summit of the Americas Barack Obama refused to defend America, apologized for America, chuckled with thugs and listened to Marxist tirades against the United States, while ... President Oscar Arias of Costa Rica said United States not to blame for past, present or future ills confronting Latin America; M3 Report: La Prensa (Managua, Nicaragua) 5/7/09 (Full translation of speech by Oscar Arias, President of Costa Rica, at the Summit of the Americas meeting in Trinidad & Tobago on April 18, 2009)
“I have the impression that every time Caribbean and Latin American countries get together with the president of the United States of America it is to ask for things or to demand something. Almost always it’s to blame the United States for our past, present and future ills. I don’t believe that is at all just. We cannot forget that Latin America had universities before the United States created Harvard and William & Mary, which are the first universities of that country. We cannot forget that in this continent, as in the whole world, at least until 1750 all Americans were more or less the same: all were poor. When the industrial revolution came about in England, other countries hopped on that wagon: Germany, France, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand…… and thus the Industrial Revolution passed over Latin America like a comet, and we didn’t realize it. Certainly, we lost the opportunity. There’s also a very big difference. Reading the history of Latin America, compared with the history of the United States, one realizes that Latin America did not have a Spaniard John Winthrop, nor a Portuguese who might have come with a bible in hand, ready to build “a City on a Hill”, a city that would shine, as was the wish of the pilgrims who arrived in the United States. Fifty years ago, Mexico was richer than Portugal. In 1950, a country such as Brazil had a higher per capita income than that of South Korea. Sixty years ago, Honduras had more riches per capita than Singapore, and today Singapore – in something like 35 or 40 years – is a country with $40,000 annual income per person. Well, we Latin Americans did something wrong. What did we do wrong? I cannot list all the things we did wrong. To start, we have a seven-year schooling. That is the average length of schooling in Latin America and it’s not the case with the majority of Asian countries. It’s certainly not the case in countries such as the United States and Canada, with the best education in the world, similar to the Europeans’. For every 10 students who enter high school in Latin America, in some countries only one finishes. There are countries with an infant mortality of 50 children per thousand, when in the more advanced countries it is 8, 9 or 10. We have countries where the tax load is 12 percent of the gross national product, and it’s no one’s responsibility, except our own, that we don’t tax the richest people of our countries. No one is to blame for that, except we ourselves. In 1950 each American citizen was four times richer than a Latin American citizen. Today, an American citizen is 10, 15 or 20 times richer than a Latin American. That is not the fault of the United States, it’s our fault.
And he continues ...

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Barack Obama's rich supporters fear his tax plans show he's a class warrior

Duh. Obama is doing what he said he would do - restructuring our economy. Attacking the successful entrepreneurs. Slowing our economic growth with a huge tax increase called "cap and trade." He is doing what he said he would. And It's going to hurt all of us, not just "the rich." Telegraph (UK): Some of Barack Obama's richest supporters fear they have elected a "class warrior" to the White House, who will turn America's freewheeling capitalism into a more regulated European system. Wealthy Wall Street financiers and other business figures provided crucial support for Mr Obama during the election, backing him over the Republican candidate John McCain as the right leader to rescue the collapsing US economy. But it is now dawning on many among them that Mr Obama was serious about his campaign trail promises to bring root and branch reform to corporate America - and that they were more than just election rhetoric. A top Obama fundraiser and hedge fund manager said: "I'm appalled at the anti-Wall Street rhetoric. It was OK on the campaign but now it's the real world. I'm surprised that Obama is turning out to be so left-wing. He's a real class warrior." Chris Edwards of the Cato Institute, a free enterprise think tank, said Democrats in Congress were unnerved by the president's latest plan to raise $210 billion over 10 years from multinational corporations. The money is needed to pay for a national debt that will double over the next five years; and triple over the next 10 years to $17.3 trillion. But the crackdown already faces fierce Democratic resistance. "These big companies are based in New York Boston, Seattle and Silicon Valley, where Democrats dominate," Mr Edwards said. "Obama's tax plan is already cleaving him from his big corporate supporters," he said. Mr Obama made no secret of his plans to raise taxes on the "working rich" (individuals earning more than $200,000) by imposing a top income tax rate of almost 40 per cent, and there is little surprise that those plans remain on track, even during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. But Democratic opposition is building in Congress to many of the President's proposals. A plan to reduce tax deductions for charitable gifts by richer people may have to be scrapped, because the charitable sector - which includes hospitals, museums and voluntary service groups - depends heavily on tax-deducted donations. Charles Rangel, the New York chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, which drafts tax legislation, raised a red flag about the proposal last week. "I would never want to adversely affect anything that is charitable or good," he said. Mr Obama also wants to "cap and trade" carbon emissions - seen by business as effectively yet another tax - to tackle global warming. The president's plans are direct repudiation of the model of light touch regulation credited with creating economic growth and wealth in America in recent decades.

Friday, May 08, 2009

TaxSleuth.com | Taking the mystery out of your tax bill

Now there is a place citizens of Washington can go to see what goes into their property tax rate in one place. There are countless taxing districts - water districts, fire districts, school districts, and more, in addition to the obvious city, county and state that are happy to tax you and always need more. Their districts overlap, so its hard to know which ones your property is in. Its also useful for comparing the property tax rates for different cities and even neighborhoods. It also has some other features I haven't explored yet. TaxSleuth.com sponsored by Evergreen Freedom Foundation. I was shocked by what I found. We looked at buying in a major Washington city, but noticed the tax rates seemed high. But looking up the total actual tax rates I find that our suburban city is one of the worst. This is a nonscientific sample of places that interest me. The data: The number shown is the total property tax rate on the assessed value of the property as a per cent per year. 1.0 means you pay 1.0 per cent of the assessed value, i.e., $1,000 on $100,000 value every year. Not that bad: Mountlake Terrace .80 Bellevue .85 Lake Bay on Key Peninsula .86 Seattle .88 Even better: Hunts Point .79% Anacortes .75 Oak Harbor .70 Langley (Whidbey Island) .59 Much worse: Tacoma 1.09 Lake Forest Park 1.13 in parts; 1.07 in other parts. Shoreline 1.19 - But its not the worst. Look up where you live and ask your elected officials why your tax rate higher than sleepy Anacortes. Of course the answer will be "It's Ron Sims' fault," since he is out of bounds.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Airline industry complains about Slow Joe Biden

The airline industry was hurt last week by run-away-mough VP Joe Biden. They don't like losing business because he can't control his mouth. (Dan Quayle had a fraction of the infractions by Biden and the worst was when he was reading a cue card written and held up by the teacher of the classroom he was in.) Boyd Group International, Inc. - Aviation Hot Flash & Insights: There must be political reincarnation. Dan Quayle is back. And he looks just like Joe Biden. It's Gaffe City with our new Veep. The classic, of course, was when Biden urged some guy in a wheelchair at a political rally to stand up and take a bow. Later, during the campaign debate he proudly stated he regularly talks to the common folk at some local home town cafe. A cafe that'd been closed for years. The latest is the Veep's advice last week on national television, urging people to avoid airline travel for fear of getting swine flu. It was yet another example of how really oblivious this administration is to aviation, how it works, and the enormous value it has to the national economy. There Is A Message Here. And It's Not About Swine Flu. This is not a question of whether Biden should be passing out medical advice or not. Over the past six months, he's proven himself to be a laughable loose cannon, without much credibility, but causing repeated embarrassment and distraction to a new president trying to deal with all sorts of mayhem. Obama's probably put a child gate on the doorway to the Oval Office, just so he can get some work done without Biden barging in. The real story is the total lack of understanding of the damage that dumb comments from uninformed public officials can do to an industry that's a vital part of the US economy. Telling the nation to stay off airliners was no different in Biden's mind than telling citizens to stay out of the rain. His view is that both can be detrimental to your heath, see. What Biden is oblivious to is that rain doesn't have thousands of employees dependent on it for their livelihood. His inept, thoughtless comments directly threatened the jobs of thousands of people in the airline industry. He has no expertise whatsoever in disease control. And quite obviously, Biden has no clue that a recommendation from the Vice President of the United States might have consequences, even from a walking parody like him. To be sure, the ATA, the Washington Post, and others immediately came out swinging, informing the public that Biden was "misinformed" or he "misspoke." Biden's office clumsily tried to backtrack, only making the guy look like a bigger buffoon. But the damage was already done.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

ACORN, vote fraud central, is receiving our tax dollars

ACORN which has a pattern of submitting illegal false voter registration forms in several states receives our tax dollars! $53 million so far! And much, much more coming. See ACORN workers went to jail for vote-registration fraud in Seattle. www.washingtonexaminer.com At least $53 million in federal funds have gone to ACORN activists since 1994, and the controversial group could get up to $8.5 billion more tax dollars despite being under investigation for voter registration fraud in a dozen states. The economic stimulus bill enacted in February contains $3 billion that the non-profit activist group known more formally as the Association for Community Organizations for Reform Now could receive, and 2010 federal budget contains another $5.5 billion that could also find its way into the group’s coffers. An Examiner review of federal spending data found that ACORN has received at least $53 million in federal money since 1994. A downloadable spreadsheet of the $53 million is posted on washingtonexaminer.com. Scott Levenson, ACORN's national spokesman, said "we have received no significant federal funding." When asked by The Examiner about the $53 million, Levenson said: "If you listen to some of the Republicans who are going to get a billion dollars from the stimulus package, I'm still waiting for my share. Their claims are overinflated, this is a gimmick and an attempt to demonize ACORN." At least one lawmaker, Rep. Michelle Bachmann, R-MN, wants to stop the flow of tax dollars to ACORN, but House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, D-MA, stands in her way. Frank plans to strip out an anti-ACORN provision Bachman succeeded in inserting in the proposed Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act that could be voted on by the House today or Thursday. Bahmann’s amendment was unanimously approved by Frank’s committee in a voice vote last week. It would block organizations that have been indicted for voter registration or vote fraud from receiving housing counseling grants and legal assistance grants.

Obama's tax dodge experts

Obama has the experts on dodging taxes. Rangel can show us how to. Geithner also. OBAMA'S TAX DODGERS . . . - New York Post: Here's a tip for President Obama: Next time you excoriate tax cheats, try to keep Rep. Charles Rangel's name out of the discussion. Somehow, it doesn't further your case. Yet that's precisely what Obama did Monday, singling out the powerful Harlem congressman for praise as he announced legislation meant to close what he calls tax "loopholes" for corporations that expand their operations abroad. Rangel, of course, knows a thing or two about offshore tax shelters: He'd been operating one for years. The congressman had to fork over nearly $11,000 in back taxes last year after The Post reported that he failed to disclose more than $75,000 in rental income on his Dominican Republic villa. Plus, he's under investigation by a House committee for allegedly helping a company preserve its offshore tax loophole -- in exchange for a million-dollar gift to a school named in his honor.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The rush to ration your health care

The Democrats have a plan for you and they are in a big hurry. They want to rush it through while everyone is busy with summer vacations. When the government is in charge and the costs have to be reduced they ration - deny care. It is inevitable. See Canada's health care monopoly: A Short Course in Brain Surgery - Single-payer healthcare is cheaper, but for less and poorer quality care - 10 Surprising and positive facts about American health care Hugh Hewitt at Washington Examiner explains the certainly of rationing and the current rush.
The reality of President Obama’s vision for medicine in America is a “single-payer” system, and the reality of “single-payer” is rationing. Because the government is the ultimate provider of medical services, it provides only what it can afford, and when its money runs out, your care ends. Almost anyone familiar with the push for what is euphemistically called “health care reform” knows that many experts on the left believe that far too many dollars are spent on providing health care to people in the final weeks or months of their earthly lives. If controls can be placed on these expenditures, then more of the government’s resources will be available for younger and much healthier people. Thus, rationing’s first target is going to be the expensive demands made by the elderly. The new system will simply scoff at the idea of a liver transplant for anyone over the age of 65. Or 60. Or maybe even 55. Liver transplants are expensive. Rationing’s second target will have to be those very expensive services laid out for the profoundly disabled. Any ideology which rejects the value of even completely healthy late term fetuses (and support for late term abortion rights absolutely means the rejection of that value) is simply not going to be able to support the expenditure of scarce resources on hugely expensive medical interventions on behalf of the severely handicapped. After the easy cuts are made at the beginning and end of life, expect the government to begin to squeeze on disfavored behaviors via the minimization or withdrawal of medical care for, say, lung cancers in smokers or heart disease among the obese. And if you should pass a prescribed number of children, well, surely you can’t expect the government to treat a family of eight the same as it does a family of three –where’s the equity in that? “Equity” is, of course, in the eye of the beholder, or in this case, the holder of the purse strings. If Obama/Pelosi/Reid “health care” reform blasts through Congress on jam-down minimum majorities and with a huge delegation of subsequent rule-writing authority built in, the holder will be the federal government. Most amazing about this debate is that thus far there hasn’t been any. Republicans in Congress have been off-balance on the issue from the summer of 2008. Their confusion has spread to obviously interested parties like the AMA and the insurance industry. The AARP seems not to even understand that most of its membership will be shocked at the prospect of rationing and unsatisfied with explanations that the D.C. staff didn’t see it coming. This is a way of saying that there is as of yet no organized resistance....
Dick Morris has a succinct way to express the big problem of singe-payer. Now when your insurance denies a benefit to you they say "we won't pay for it." You have to option of paying for it yourself. But when Big Government runs the whole show they will say "You can't have the treatment." Just plain "NO," you will have no options.

ACORN workers went to jail for vote-registration fraud in Seattle

People have forgotten that ACORN workers in Seattle went to jail for fraudulent voter registrations. I am posting this so it can be found later. Ex-ACORN worker: 'I paid the price' for voter registration fraud - CNN.com: SEATTLE, Washington (CNN) -- Clifton Mitchell helped register nearly 2,000 voters for the community group ACORN. But not one of them actually existed. "I regret it. I paid the price for it," he said. Mitchell was convicted last year and spent nearly three months in prison. He's one of the few ACORN workers convicted of voter registration fraud. Today, he lives with his wife and two boys, ages 3 and 1, in a small apartment in suburban Seattle, Washington. Mitchell said he scammed the system because, "I needed money; I had to support my family and I was new to the area. It was the only job I had." Mitchell said ACORN threatened to close the office if he and his team didn't meet their quota to register 13 to 20 voters a day. So, without consulting their supervisors, he said, they came up with a plan. Ballotpedia 2007 In Washington, five Washington state ACORN workers were sentenced to jail time.[6] ACORN agreed to pay King County $25,000 for its investigative costs and acknowledged that the national organization could be subject to criminal prosecution if fraud occurs again. According to King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg, the misconduct was done "as an easy way to get paid [by ACORN], not as an attempt to influence the outcome of elections." Seattle Times - when the charges were filed Workers accused of concocting the biggest voter-registration-fraud scheme in state history said they were under pressure from the community-organizing group that hired them to sign up more voters, according to charging papers filed Thursday. To boost their output, the defendants allegedly went to the downtown Seattle Public Library, where they filled out voter-registration forms using names they made up or found in phone books, newspapers and baby-naming books. One defendant "said it was hard work making up all those cards," and another "said he would often sit at home, smoke marijuana and fill out cards," according to a probable-cause statement written by King County sheriff's Detective Christopher Johnson. Prosecutors in King and Pierce counties filed felony charges Thursday against seven employees of ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, claiming they turned in more than 1,800 phony voter-registration forms, including an estimated 55 in Pierce County.