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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Obamacare Shutdown

There is more yelling and screaming today about whether or not it makes sense to refuse to fund any more of the implementation costs for Obamacare.  There is a group of Republicans who are signing pledges that they will not vote for any funding if it includes funds to implement Obamacare.  Then there is another group that is loudly proclaiming that such a move would be suicidal for the GOP.  Just this afternoon, Rush Limbaugh actually had a Utah senator as a guest on his show (which is extremely unusual) and spent much of the time discussing the effort to stop funding for Obamacare.

The truth is that there is a simple way that ought to resolve this problem, about which I have written in the past.  Congress needs to break the continuing resolution into pieces.  In other words, there should be one continuing resolution passed to fund the departments of Defense, Veterans' Affairs and Homeland Security, another to fund the Departments of Interior, Commerce, and Energy, and then others for different groups of departments and agencies.  If the House were to pass a continuing resolution to continue funding for all of the defense related agencies like DOD, the VA and DHS, would the Democrats and president Obama really refuse to pass them because other resolutions did not include funds for Obamacare?  That would mean that Obama and the Obamacrats would be holding the military and the national defense hostage to Obamacare.  The Republicans could then easily answer the claim that they were shutting down the government by saying that they had already passed bills that continued things without change for nearly the entire government.

This process would result in either the Democrats choosing to shut down the entire government or just shutting down the Department of Health and Human Services (where the Obamacare fnds come from) while allowing the rest of the government to function.  A shutdown of just HHS would not have anything like the impact on the public that a shutdown of the entire government would have.  It would also focus the attention just on Obamacare.  Oh, surely the media would lambaste the Republicans for cutting off funds, but that was what they did with the sequester, and we all know how that worked.



The Riddle of the Day

Here is a riddle:  What cost twelve billion dollars but takes health insurance coverage away from more than a million Americans?

The answer is president Obama's action to delay the employer mandate of Obamacare for one year.  I am not making this up.  According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, Obama's act will result in over an extra million folks being uninsured and it will cost the government an extra twelve billion dollars.  So, with one quick action, Obama has managed to waste an enormous sum of money and to increase the numbers of people without health insurance at the same time.  Here is the Reuters article explaining all of this.  (And since it comes from Reuters, it is probably safe to assume that they are trying hard to make things look better for Obama.  The actual truth must be even worse.)

The strange thing is that what Obama has done is completely illegal.  As president, he does not get to pick and choose which laws or parts of laws are in effect.  Only Congress can do that.  Congresses make the laws, presidents just carry them out.  So Obama illegally inflicts enormous costs on the country and snatches health insurance away from one million people.  I wonder how many of these million will die from disease because Obama decided to do this.  And why did Obama make this move?  The answer makes things even worse:  he did not want the employer mandate to go into effect until after the next election so it would not hurt the Democrats.  America is getting hit with a double whammy that will likely kill people just so the Democrats can do better at the polls.

Obama is a nightmare.



The New GDP Figures

We now have the figures for the growth of the GDP in the second quarter of 2013.  According to the federal government America's economy grew at the paltry annual rate of 1.7% during April, May and June.  This is down from the 1.8% rate that, until today had been the estimate for the first quarter.  Today's report revised the first quarter number down to 1.1%, however, so the usual slant in the media is calling the terrible 1.7% figure for the second quarter an "increase".

Let's remember what we have seen in the last few months.  The first report on the first quarter growth number came out three months ago.  It showed the economy growing at about 3 percent.  That has been revised down now three times to only 1.1%.  If the second quarter suffers a similar revision, it may turn out that we are already in a recession with the economy contracting.

Government growth statistics are not supposed to change from 3 percent to 1.1 percent over the course of three months.  There are always adjustments, but usually some go up while others go down, and the magnitude of the adjustments is about 0.2 or 0.3%, not ten times that amount.  The differences are so large here that one has to wonder if the first report was intentionally inflated in order to make president Obama and the economy look better.

Nearly everyone in America realizes that Obama does not tell the truth.  Okay, we got that.  If government statistics are now going to become totally suspect, that is another terrible step towards the destruction of all trust in government.



Time To Prosecute Lois Lerner

Over at NRO, there is a report detailing how the Federal Election Commission asked for and got confidential information about a conservative group from the IRS.  The general counsel's office at FEC asked IRS official Lois Lerner for information about the application for tax exempt status filed by a conservative group that the FEC official was investigating for the Democrat party of Minnesota.  Lerner sent the information and then updated it many months later when the general counsel of FEC asked her to do so.

This is bad stuff.

1.  The IRS is prohibited by law from disclosing the information in question to the FEC and anyone else.  That means that Lerner violated the law when she sent the stuff to FEC.  It also means that she violated the law when she update the status.  As a high official at IRS, Lerner knew that her actions were illegal.  She ought to be prosecuted if the report at NRO is true.

2.  The FEC general counsel is prohibited from investigating political groups unless the six commissioners of the FEC vote to authorize such an investigation.  There had been no such vote prior to the request to the IRS, so the general counsel was acting outside his authority.

Lois Lerner thumbed her nose at Congress not long ago when she refused to answer questions based upon the Fifth Amendment even though she first testified that she had done nothing wrong.  (that waves the right to take the Fifth).  She seems to have been in the mix of the persecution of conservative groups for years.  Here there seems to be clear evidence of criminal conduct on her part.

Once again, if the evidence portrayed at NRO is real, Lerner ought to be prosecuted. 

Don't hold your breath, however, waiting for Eric Holder and the Department of Justice to take action.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Pointless Nonsense -- Obama's Latest

This afternoon, president Obama is going to propose what he is calling a "concession" regarding corporate taxes.  We will have to wait to see the details, but the ones the White House is putting out there now include basically a reduction in the corporate rate from 35% to 28% together with the elimination of all sorts of deductions and exemptions that currently reduce the corporate taxes of American companies.  These changes are expected to increase the total amount of taxes paid by American companies.  Obama wants to use the extra income to spend more on unnamed job programs like more construction of infrastructure and hiring of teachers.

Leave it to Obama to increase taxes on business for more spending and to call it a tax cut.  The net effect of the plan is to take money from the private sector and give it to the government where it will be spent on the Democrats' constituent groups.  Overall, draining funds from the private sector kills jobs; it does not create them.  Obama's calling this a tax cut and a concession is completely dishonest.  It is the economic equivalent of calling the murder of 13 soldiers by Major Hassan who says he did the killings as part of jihad in the name of Allah as "workplace violence" instead of terrorism.  Obama's plan is bigger government, slower growth, more unemployment, lower incomes for Americans and a pointless mess.  It is just another lie from Washington.


Eliott Spitzer is Actually Funny

I remember the days when Elliot Spitzer was Attorney General of New York and then Governor of the state.  He was always angry and strident.  Everyone was either a friend or an enemy; there were no innocent bystanders.  He was anything but humorous.  That appears to have changed now that Spitzer is running for office again, this time as Comptroller of New York City.  Yesterday, Spitzer announced that Anthony Weiner was unfit to be mayor of the city and that he should leave the race.  Really?  REALLY?  Think about that.  Spitzer, as governor, used state money to travel to visit hookers all over the east coast.  He actually cheated on his wife, illegally used tax funds to attend his trysts and thought he could keep his "activities" a secret.  All that Weiner has done is to send lewd emails and text messages.  Without a doubt, Weiner is unfit to be mayor.  He clearly is delusional to think that all this stuff would not come out.  But what Spitzer did was much, much worse.  He actually slept with hookers and used public money to do so.  Hearing Spitzer condemn Weiner is a joke.  Indeed, it is probably the only funny thing that Spitzer has ever said.


The "Peace" Talks

John Kerry must be ecstatic today.  The Israelis and the Palestinians are talking in Washington about how to move forward with further talks about the peace process.  That's right, the talks are not about peace; they are talks about having more talks.  For Kerry, however, this is his ticket to a Nobel Peace Prize.  In truth, however, this is much ado about nothing.

The talks proceed in what is perhaps the most stilted atmosphere imaginable.  President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority cannot make peace.  He has no legitimate claim to authority.  His term in office expired five years ago, but he remains in place on an emergency basis.  The emergency is that he know that his party, the Fatah, would lose if another election were held.  The main opposition is Hamas which rules in Gaza after a short but bloody conflict that ousted all of Fatah from the government in that area.  Hamas is stridently anti-peace, and Abbas knows that if he were to make peace with the Israelis, he would inevitably be assassinated by Hamas or its allies.  As a result, Abbas says things like his comments yesterday to the Egyptian press in which he announced that his goal was the removal of all Israelis from Palestinian lands.  To clarify what Abbas said, one needs to understand that for Abbas, "Palestinian lands" include all of what is now Israel.  In other words, Abbas' says his goal is the removal of all Jews from Israel.  To put it mildly, that is not exactly a good way to approach peace talks.

Someone in Washington ought to realize that the only way there could ever be movement towards peace would be to isolate, weaken and eventually destroy Hamas.  There is an opportunity to do that now since the new government of the Egyptian military forces consider Hamas part of the Moslem Brotherhood that they just removed from power in their country.  Hamas is also supporting the rebels in Syria, so it has lost the patronage of Iran which backs Assad.  By itself now for the first time in a while, Hamas in Gaza could crumble if appropriate pressure were applied.  That would require a carefully coordinated plan, however, and Kerry and his cronies at State don't even seem interested in considering such a move.  After all, there would be no television cameras and no glory in that move; it would just be of enormous benefit to the United States and the cause of peace.  So we have just another missed opportunity.


Monday, July 29, 2013

Income Inequality Obama Style

One of the big news items of the day is that during recent years the top 7% of the country increased its wealth by over 20% on average while the other 93% decreased its wealth by about 4%.  President Obama is busy lamenting this news as more proof of income inequality which must be remedied.  What Obama proposes is more of the same policies he has had in place for the last five years which led to this increasing inequality. If it did not work before, why should it work now?

The real problem here is that Obama seems oblivious to the reasons why the income inequality has been growing.  Here are the actual facts:

1.  The way that most Americans increase their income and wealth is by earning more at their place of employment.  Increasing wealth for the middle income groups and the poor requires creating more jobs and obtaining higher wages/salaries for the folks with jobs.  Obama has totally failed to follow policies that increase jobs or that push wages up.  That is why the vast majority of the country has seen its net worth sag.

2.  The wealthiest segment of society increases its wealth and income through both salaries and income from investments.  For the last four years, the Federal Reserve has been pumping money into the economy at a breakneck speed.  In 2013, for example, the Fed should add over one trillion dollars to the money supply.  For the most part, this additional cash gets used to buy investment assets like stock, bonds, precious metals and hard assets.  All this extra cash from the Federal Reserve has forced up the prices of stock so that the stock market indices have all hit new highs even though the economy is still limping along.  It is the policies of the Fed which have made the wealthy even richer.

Although the Fed is nominally independent, you can be sure that the central bank would not keep pumping money into the economy through quantitative easing if Obama opposed that action.  The truth, therefore, is that although he laments the increasing inequality of income, Obama is more responsible for that inequality than anyone else in America.

Sadly, most of the folks in the Democrat party are so enmeshed in their economic dogma that they do not see the actual results of their policies.  If Obama is able to push through his policies for another three years, we will see fewer new jobs, less economic growth, and a greater reduction in the wealth of most of the country.  While he talks about how he is trying to help the middle class, Obama is actually taking a course that will destroy that group.  America needs to wake up to the truth.



A List of Ten

It never fails to amaze me just how easily the federal budget could be cut with there being no ill effects for the country.  So much money gets wasted in Washington, that most of the world's nations could live comfortably just on that amount alone.  Despite this horrendous waste, whenever president Obama talks about spending, he is always pushing for more; he never talks about getting rid of the waste and fraud and useless programs in any meaningful way.

I have a suggestion that could easily be accomplished and which would move us all towards avoiding the problems of a crushing debt burden.  Let's have the secretary of each federal department and the chairman or other head of each independent federal agency put forth a list of ten items in that department/agency's budget that can be eliminated or cut by at least 50%.  The total amount to be cut must be at least 1% of the budget for the entire department/agency for the year.

This program would cause many of the Democrats to scream like stuck pigs, but if there were actual programs that were proposed to bear the brunt of the tiny cuts, Americans could see the actual impacts of what was being proposed.  Any department that put for essential programs to be cut could easily be seen trying to game the system and avoid all cuts.  Without a doubt, each of these units has ten items that could be cut.  Suppose, for example, the Department of Veterans' affairs proposed closing a VA hospital.  Unless this were a place that served very few, no one would accept the idea that this was a good faith effort to cut spending.  On the other hand, if the same department suggested that it reorganize the job training programs intended for disabled veterans so that there was one large program with only one management instead of the seven or more that exist today, there is no question that Congress would go along with the cut.  The only folks who are served by having seven veterans' training programs rather than one are the people in the duplicative management of the extra six programs.  They are unnecessary to get the services to the vets; they just live off the public treasury without reason.

Let's be clear.  A reduction of 1% in projected federal spending this year which carries on into the future means a cut in the deficit over the next decade of just about half a trillion dollars.  This will not solve the problem entirely, but it certainly will be a great next step in the fight against waste.



It's Public Transportation!

My favorite target among the liberal intelligentsia is (and probably always will be) Paul Krugman, the New York Times columnist.  Krugman comes complete with the imprimatur of the Nobel Prize Committee that gave him an award in economics for his work regarding international trade.  Sadly, Krugman decided that the prize made him an authority on just about everything.  Yesterday, he was opining on the reasons for reduced social mobility.  Krugman "explained" on the pages of the Sunday Times that it was lack of public transportation that the keeps the children of the poor from making it into the ranks of the richest in society.  No, really, that is what Krugman wrote. 

Krugman based his argument on a study that found that in Atlanta (with a poor transportation system) only 4% of the children born into families in the lowest fifth in family income make it into the top fifth while in San Francisco it is 11% of the children in the lowest fifth who make it to the top fifth.  Krugman explains that since the poor in Atlanta are stuck in their own neighborhoods, they cannot get to the jobs which are in the better neighborhoods.

This is one of those studies done by academics with too much time on their hands and too much of an agenda to push. First of all, let's be clear about one thing:  in a society with perfect opportunity only 20% of the children born into the lowest fifth would make it to the top fifth.  That, however, assumes that the folks in the lowest fifth have children of equal opportunity to those higher on the income ladder.  That is not right though.  Being in the lowest fifth in income does no mean one is of lower intelligence, but people with lower intelligence are more likely to be in the bottom fifth.  Children of folks with lower intelligence are also more likely to also have lower intelligence, so it stands to reason that on this basis alone, the children born into the lowest fifth of income are more likely to stay there than those born higher up the income chain.  Second, because income depends in part on inherited wealth, those born to folks who have wealth to leave behind are also more likely to end up higher on the income ladder.  Similarly, children born into families that can pay for college without huge loans are not burdened with debt when they enter the workforce and they can raise their incomes faster as a result.  Third, without question, the public transportation system in New York City is better than the one in San Francisco.  Indeed, the majority of New Yorker do not even use cars but rely on the subways and buses to get to work.  If Krugman were correct, the figures in the Big Apple should show much more social/income mobility than elsewhere, but they don't.  Fourth, one thing that well all know is that a person can buy a used car for next to nothing in this country.  Sure, it won't be an Aston-Martin or even a new Ford Focus, but one can get an old car nevertheless.  If the jobs are there but not available due to lack of public transport, someone with drive can buy an old car to get to work.

This whole post may seem unimportant, but it is not.  In the days and weeks to come, we are likely to see another push by the left for more public transportation in order to foster social equality.  You need to be ready when you hear "experts say that better public transportation will lead to more social equality."  As the song goes, "it ain't necessarily so!"



Sunday, July 28, 2013

Doesn't He Read the News?

Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew was on the Sunday morning shows today.  His main message was to warn Republicans to avoid what he called "false crises" over a government shutdown and the debt limit in the coming months.  It seems that Lew must not read the news.  Just two days ago, the media was filled with reports how president Obama was planning to force a government shutdown to get his way with regard to the budget.  So we hear that Obama is pushing for a government shutdown at the same time that Lew is already blaming that shutdown on the Republicans.

Some things never change.


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Going for Number Six

New York City is one of the most Democrat cities in the country.  For many decades, the city provided the margin of votes that pushed state elections into the Democrat column.  The city council has fifty one members, but only four are Republicans.  Strangely, however, the Democrats have lost five straight elections for mayor.  The first two were won by Republican Rudy Giuliani and the last three were won by Republican and then Independent Michael Bloomberg.  In any normal year, the odds would now be overwhelming that the Democrat would win the mayoralty in November, but this just does not seem to a normal year. 

First of all, the Democrats have a selection of truly terrible candidates.  Let's start with John Liu, the current city comproller.  Liu's campaign treasurer was indicted by the US attorney for violations of the campaign finance laws, among other things.  The indictment indicates that Liu himself was involved in the crimes, although he has not been indicted.

Next the Democrats have Anthony Weiner (aka Carlos Danger).  Here is a guy who actually thought he could get away with sexting with a series of young women after claiming to be "cured" of his prior addiction.  Even forgetting the tawdry nature of his conduct, Weiner must be delusional to think he could get away with this.

Then there is Christine Quinn, the current president of the City Council.  She has taken ultra-left positions on a variety of subjects.  For example, she wants to limit the policies of the New York City police department which have made New York the safest large city in America.  (For what it is worth, the murder rate last year was less than 20% what it was twenty years ago when the Democrats were voted out of office.)  Quinn also wants to make sweetheart deals with the municipal unions -- can you say bankruptcy like Detroit?  There's more, but that is enough. 

There are more candidates, but they all have the same policies as Quinn.  Only their faces are different.

Strangely, there is a possibility that the Republicans could win the mayor's race this year.  The likely GOP candidate is Joe Lhota who was the chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority until recently.  Lhota would be the candidate fighting to keep the streets safe and crime down.  He would be the candidate fighting to keep the budget under control and taxes from rising.  (Taxes in New York City are already extraordinarily high).  He is far from a wonderful speaker, but then again, none of the crazies running as Democrats have any charisma either.  At the moment, the odds are probably around 3 to 1 that the Democrat will win in November.  Even so, those are surprisingly high numbers for a Republican in New York.  It will be fun to watch what happens next.


Intentional Misunderstanding?

The other night I watched a small portion of Al Sharpton's show on MSNBC.  I do this from time to time in order to get a sense of what the folks like Sharpton are saying.  It is an important exercise because it makes clear just how dishonest the conversation is on shows like that.

On Thursday, Sharpton was talking about the Zimmerman verdict for a change.  Most likely, it will still be the main topic of conversation on that show in November.  One of Sharpton's guests explained the comments of one juror who had explained that she would have liked to convict Zimmerman but that the requirements of the law as to when one can find someone guilty had not been met, so the jury voted to acquit.  This is not a difficult concept to grasp.  American criminal law requires the prosecution to prove all parts of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.  If the jury still has doubts about these elements, they must acquit.

Sharpton's response was priceless.  He asked the panelist if the prosecutor and the judge must accept the responsibility for this confusion of the jury.  Get it?  The juror properly stated the requirements of the criminal law of Florida (and every other state).  The juror made clear that the jury followed the requirements of the law exactly.  Sharpton then says that they were confused because they did what the law requires.

If I had overheard the conversation at a diner or at an office water cooler, I could understand that the person speaking had not been listening and was confused.  Sharpton, however, is being beamed into the homes of millions to spread this kind of idiocy. 


Myths of the Media

I happened upon an article this morning about the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, and it annoyed me to see the way that the reporter spun the story.  Here is the beginning of the key section which uses a quotation to make its point:

Mano-Shen said her grandfather was forced into a camp near Missoula, Mont., during WWII, and some of the nation's responses to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 evoked memories of the Japanese internments. Muslims, she said Thursday, "have been put on FBI lists and detained in the same way my grandfather was."

This is complete BS.  It is not slanted or misinformed; it is completely phony and malicious BS that puts down the American response to 9-11 as some sort of racist extravaganza.  Here's why:

In the months right after the attack on Pearl Harbor brought America into the Second World War, the federal government rounded up 120,000 people of Japanese descent and put them into internment camps just because they were Japanese.  Anyone found spying for or otherwise helping the Japanese armed forces was treated as a spy or a saboteur and prosecuted as a criminal.  Two thirds of those interned were American citizens.  In the 12 years since 9-11, not a single Moslem has been interned just because he or she was a Moslem.  The federal government has taken no action against American Moslems.  Quite the contrary, the federal government has gone out of its way to make sure that no American Moslem suffers any reprisal due to the terror attacks.  On the other hand, Americans who assist the Islamic terrorists or who carry out acts of terror are being prosecuted as criminals.   Right now, Major Nidal Hassan who killed 13 men and wounded many more at Fort Hood in the name of Allah and Islam is on trial for his acts.  The Boston Marathon bomber and the Times Square bomber are being treated similarly.  The simple truth is that no one has been detained for being a Moslem; terrorists, however, are in jail.

For the media to perpetuate the myth of America's supposedly racist response to 9-11 is not just offensive, but also extremely revealing of the true beliefs of most of the left wing reporters who supposedly are informing Americans about what is happening.  They are writing about political myths rather than facts.  After all, how hard would it actually be to check on the numbers of Moslems "detained" after 9-11?  One could find the true facts in less than a minute on the internet, but somehow the AP reporter just couldn't find the time.  No one is that stupid.  It has to be intentional.

It is sad that the AP thinks it should promote a phony belief in non-existent racism rather than report the truth.  Sadly, claims like this one of racism make it harder to deal with actual racism that still pops up in America.  After a while, most people just turn off what the media says.


I Don't Want To Forget This One

For a few days, I have been meaning to write about New York governor Andrew Cuomo and his comments on Eliott Spitzer and Carlos Danger (AKA Anthony Weiner).  After originally making disparaging comments about the return to politics of the two men, Cuomo has done an about face.  In an interview earlier this week after Weiner was exposed as still sexting long after his supposed reformation, Coumo said this about having the two in this year's primary:

It's part of the charm of New York.

I'm not kidding; Cuomo actually said this in an interview.  In my view, that is almost as bad as Spitzer and Weiner.



What Really Happened in Egypt? It's Hard to Know

We know that Friday in Cairo was bloody.  Depending on reports, somewhere between 22 and 215 people were killed.  Either the army opened fire on a demonstration in support of ousted president Morsi or residents in the neighborhood where the demonstration was being held tried to reopen a street closed for more than 24 hours by the Moslem Brotherhood with resulting violence followed by tear gas being fired by the army and police and then shots coming from the demonstrators in response with fire returned by the army.  Literally, there is no way to know which side is telling the truth (if either is).

We do, however, know one thing.  The Moslem Brotherhood has a history of staging injuries and deaths for political purposes.  Hamas, which is an offshoot of the Brotherhood, used the body of a dead child to blame Israeli troops for his murder in the past.  After world media picked up the story and condemned Israel, a UN investigation (which surely was not friendly to Israel) determined that the boy had not been killed by Israelis (a fact which got little publicity).  There are also occasional photos of dead bodies of people supposedly killed by Israeli artillery which get followed an hour or so later of new photos showing the "dead" man walking away from the scene.  The Brotherhood stages the photos but is not to good about covering its tracks.

In this case, it may be that the 215 dead are really 50 dead and 165 phonies.  Again, there is no way to know for certain.  There is also no way to know for certain who began the melee.

One thing is certain.  Tempers are rising in Egypt and calm is not being restored.  Hopefully, the injection of these deaths into the political climate there will result in people being hesitant to go back into the streets to demonstrate.  If that happens, we will see new calm spread across Cairo.  More likely, however, is an increase in violence and revenge.  If that happens, no one will win.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Obama Picks Caroline Kennedy

President Obama sent the nomination for US ambassador to Japan of Caroline Kennedy to the Senate today.  Perhaps the best question one could ask here is a simple one:  Why?

Let's look at Kennedy's qualifications for this important foreign policy post.  That was fast; she does not have any.  Living in the White House as a child does not really teach much about how to be an ambassador.  Will Obama name Sasha or Malia to be ambassador to Canada?  How about Jena Bush as ambassador to Germany?  Will Chelsea become ambassador to India?  It is all nonsense; being the child of a president is not a qualification to be an ambassador.

Remember, Japan is not a backwater.  It has the third largest economy in the world and it is presently in a confrontation with China over some disputed islands.  The Chinese navy and air force have been consistently intruding into the Japanese territory near the islands.  While unlikely, there actually could be a war there.  Even aside from the threat of war, Japan is one of our most important allies and trading partners.  There are frequently important negotiations that have to be undertaken between our two countries.  Wouldn't it make more sense to have an ambassador with some experience at diplomacy?  And how does the Japanese government feel about this appointment?  Those folks don't have fond memories of Caroline's father; they probably have no memories of him at all.  All they know is that a celebrity is being appointed ambassador, just as if Japan were some small unimportant country where ambassadorships could be used as political prizes without much problem.

I have nothing against Caroline Kennedy being an ambassador, just not to an important country like Japan.  Luxembourg might do well.  So would Slovenia or Macedonia.  Maybe she could go to Belize or the Ivory Coast.  Just not Japan; it is too important a post.



The Washington Post Reveals the Obama Budget Game Plan

In an interesting article, the Washington Post today sets forth the plan of president Obama to deal with the impending budget talks in Congress.  In September, Congress has to pass the next spending authorizations in order to fund the federal government.  As usual, the Republicans want to spend less than the Democrats.  Indeed, Obama wants to use the occasion to undo the spending cuts he put in place with the sequester.  On the other hand, some Republicans want to refuse to authorize any spending if it includes money to fund implementation of Obamacare.  Right now, both sides are in the dancing phase of these negotiations; that is where they all dance around the basic issues and make strong pronouncements designed to please their base.  The expectation is that at the last minute both sides will approve some sort of compromise that keeps the government going.

I think it is time for the Republicans to change tactics in part.  They should adopt the following procedures:

1.  The House should continue to complete and pass spending bills for the various federal departments that increase good programs and cut or delete those which do not work well.  The goal should be a further decrease in federal spending coupled with a more efficient government that achieves more for lower cost.

2.  If any of these bills gets passed by the Senate or worked out in a conference committee, that will take care of the funding for the agency or department in question.  This is highly unlikely by September, however.  That will bring Congress back to the need for a continuing resolution to fund federal activities.

3.  The House should break up the continuing resolutions by department and agency.  For example, it should pass one resolution for Defense and Homeland Security.  By breaking the resolutions up, there can be some for which the Senate can have no reason not to pass them.  In other words, if the House passes funding for America's armed forces at levels that Obama and his party should find acceptable, there is no way that Obama can use the threat of cutting off the troops from their pay as a means to put pressure on the GOP to accept other spending increases.

4.  The continuing resolutions passed by the House regarding agencies or departments whose spending needs to be cut should be for no more than 30 days.  After 30 days, if there is no final agreement on spending, the House should pass another continuing resolution for these agencies but reduce spending by 1%.  This process should be repeated until the House gets these agencies down to the spending levels that the House has approved.

5.  The House should also start work on a bill to achieve tax reform.  It should be designed to get rid of deductions and loopholes (particularly ones that let companies like GE pay no tax) and lower rates to promote economic growth.  Obama may have no idea how to grow the economy, but that does not mean that Congress should give up the battle.

This plan could possibly result in a partial government shutdown if Obama chooses to fight spending reductions.  That shutdown should be his choice.  The Republicans should be in position to tell America that they have already passed spending bills that will fund the government operations.  They should say that they want to spend more on programs that work and less on those that are failures.  Let Obama argue why no program can be cut.  Let Obama explain why everything that the federal government does is so critical that even a reduction of 1% cannot be tolerated.  Even Obama could not say that with a straight face.



What Took You So Long Silda?

Elliot Spitzer is a nasty angry man.  Anyone who lives in or near New York knows that.  Spitzer is also sufficiently off the wall to have repeatedly gone to prostitutes while he was governor of New York.  When that was discovered and publicized, he was forced to resign from office.  Even before the prostitution scandal, however, Spitzer spent his time in office as a divider; he attacked and attacked and attacked, always trying to get what he wanted through intimidation using the vast power of the State.  Now this jerk is trying to get the nomination for Comptroller of the City of New York.

Through all this mess, Spitzer's wife Silda stayed with him.  Okay, recently Spitzer and she have been living apart.  My guess is that it was just too hard for Silda to have to live with him.  Today comes the news according to the New York Post that Silda is telling friends that she intends to divorce Spitzer after the election is over.  The only conceivable response is to ask this:  "Hey Silda, what took you so long."



Racism in Hartford!

The other day, I had a colonoscopy.  I know, that's too much information, but I promise not to talk about the procedure.  My point is entirely different, namely this:  before I could have the procedure, I was required by Connecticut law to produce a government issued picture ID.  That's right, in Connecticut one must have a photo ID in order to get medical treatment.  The law is designed to combat insurance fraud.

Now it is important to understand that this law was passed by a legislature that is overwhelmingly composed of Democrats.  I want to know where are the marches and protests about this obviously racist patient suppression law.  If requiring photo ID's for voting is racist, then requiring the same photo ID's for getting medical treatment is doubly racist.  The Democrats in the legislature are trying to kill off minorities by denying them proper medical treatment.  How many blacks and Hispanics will die of cancer because they could not produce the photo ID's needed in order to get cancer screening tests?  It is an outrage.

I intend to forward this article to Attorney General Eric Holder.  Perhaps he can sue to have Connecticut put under the protection of the federal government so that more folks need not die as a result of this clearly racist law.


Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Ultimate Response

This evening, I happened to see Special Report on Fox News.  They showed what can only be described as the ultimate response to the current White House scheme to denounce the "phony scandals" that have occupied the attention of the country.  There was a piece of an interview with the mother of Sean Smith, a State Department employee who was killed in the attack on the American embassy in Benghazi.  In two sentences, Patricia Smith showed president Obama and the White House staff for the liars that they are.  Here is what she said:

"My son is dead.  How could that be phony?"

Mrs. Smith went on to say that she is still waiting to be told what happened in Benghazi, why there was no security in place despite requests for it, and who ordered the soldiers who were prepared to go to rescue those under attack to stand down.

Obama should be ashamed to try to diminish the memories of those who were killed in Benghazi by calling it a phony scandal.  And as for the IRS targeting of conservatives, Christians, Jews and pro-life groups, Obama himself previously said that the conduct at the IRS was outrageous and that he would get to the bottom of it.  That is hardly a phony scandal.

As Obama's poll numbers sink closer and closer to the dreaded 40% approval rating, he is getting desperate.  Still, calling the scandals phony will not help.  It just makes Obama look foolish.



Why Are There Chaplains in the Military?

The armed forces of the United States have chaplains stationed nearly everywhere there are soldiers, sailors, marines, and the like.  This is not a new practice but has been in place since the start of our republic.  Why is that?  It is not a difficult question to answer.  The chaplains are meant to minister to the spiritual needs of the military.  That is what they have always done and that is what they are and should be doing now.

Lately, however, the existence of chaplains performing this function has come under attack.  First, a group of atheists tried to get the Pentagon to accept atheist chaplains into the forces.  So far, that move has failed.  That is no surprise.  Second, an atheist pressure group has attacked an army chaplain for using the phrase "there are no atheists in foxholes" in an article he wrote on a base website.  The base commander immediately had the "offending" article removed from the website, but the atheist group is demanding the chaplain be punished for using what they call "faith based hate speech". 

The claim that the Constitution requires atheist chaplains or that it bars military chaplains from expressing faith in God is just ridiculous nonsense.  The First Amendment prohibits the establishment of a state religion; it does not require that the government work to stamp out religion.  The First Amendment protects freedom of speech; it does not allow punishment of religious speech just because another group does not like it.  This has always been the law, and there is no reason for it to change now.

So why is there an atheist group pushing this agenda now?  Are atheists to become the next big group of supposed "victims" that the left can support?  Are we all to become so politically correct that each of us must hide our belief in God?  No way!

Each American has the right to believe or not in God.  Each American can join whatever religion he or she wants.  The people who protect our country in the military do not give up their rights to religion just because they enlist.  Quite properly, the military provides chaplains to minister to the troops.  And guess what?  Christian chaplains will speak in the name of their God, Jewish chaplains will speak in the name of their God, Moslem chaplains will speak in the name of their God.  If a Moslem chaplain says, "There is no God but Allah and Mohammed is His prophet", is that to be understood as anti-Christian hate speech?  Is it anti-atheist hate speech?  Should Jews consider it an attack on them?  Of course not!  If a Christian chaplain speaks in the name of "our Lord Jesus Christ" is that an attack on the atheists, Jews or Moslems?  NO! 

There needs to be strong push back against this new effort by the crazies on the left to undermine the faith of millions.  The very nature of our country is being threatened.