Washington Examiner: "Lott doubts political influence in closed Chrysler dealers, sees size as key"
"I just don't see the evidence for partisanship," said Lott, who is a senior research scientist at the University of Maryland. He's prevously held professorships at the Wharton School, University of Chicago and Yale. When this guy has an opinion about an issue that is subject to data-driven analysis, I listen.
Turns out Lott's oldest son, Maxim, is a chip off the old block. Maxim Lott analyzed a data sample and found the more likely explanation for the closing of any particular dealership is how many of Chrysler's four distinct brand channels it sells. Those dealerships selling two fewer lines are more likely to get the axe.
Here's Maxim's summary:
Price controls imported on Prescription Drugs
SA 1229. Mr. DORGAN (for himself, Ms. SNOWE, Mr. MCCAIN, Ms. STABENOW, Mr. SANDERS, and Ms. KLOBUCHAR) submitted an amendment intended to be proposed by him to the bill H.R. 1256, to protect the public health by providing the Food and Drug Administration with certain authority to regulate tobacco products, to amend title 5, United States Code, to make certain modifications in the Thrift Savings Plan, the Civil Service Retirement System, and the Federal Employees' Retirement System, and for other purposes; which was ordered to lie on the table; as follows:
At the appropriate place, insert the following:
DIVISION __--IMPORTATION OF PRESCRIPTION DRUGS
SEC. 1. SHORT TITLE.
This division may be cited as the ``Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act of 2009''.
SEC. 2. FINDINGS.
Congress finds that--
(1) Americans unjustly pay up to 5 times more to fill their prescriptions than consumers in other countries;
(2) the United States is the largest market for pharmaceuticals in the world, yet American consumers pay the highest prices for brand pharmaceuticals in the world;
(3) a prescription drug is neither safe nor effective to an individual who cannot afford it;
(4) allowing and structuring the importation of prescription drugs to ensure access to safe and affordable drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration will provide a level of safety to American consumers that they do not currently enjoy;
(5) American spend more than $200,000,000,000 on prescription drugs every year;
(6) the Congressional Budget Office has found that the cost of prescription drugs are between 35 to 55 percent less in other highly-developed countries than in the United States; and
(7) promoting competitive market pricing would both contribute to health care savings
and allow greater access to therapy, improving health and saving lives.
SEC. 3. REPEAL OF CERTAIN SECTION REGARDING IMPORTATION OF PRESCRIPTION DRUGS.
Chapter VIII of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. 381 et seq.) is amended by striking section 804.
SEC. 4. IMPORTATION OF PRESCRIPTION DRUGS; WAIVER OF CERTAIN IMPORT RESTRICTIONS.
(a) In General.--Chapter VIII of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. 381 et seq.), as amended by section 3, is further amended by inserting after section 803 the following:
``SEC. 804. COMMERCIAL AND PERSONAL IMPORTATION OF PRESCRIPTION DRUGS.
``(a) Importation of Prescription Drugs.--
``(1) IN GENERAL.--In the case of qualifying drugs imported or offered for import into the United States from registered exporters or by registered importers--
``(A) the limitation on importation that is established in section 801(d)(1) is waived; and
``(B) the standards referred to in section 801(a) regarding admission of the drugs are subject to subsection (g) of this section (including with respect to qualifying drugs to which section 801(d)(1) does not apply). . . . .
Judge Sonia Sotomayor on "Wise Latina" and "a Wise Woman" making better decisions
Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor delivered multiple speeches between 1994 and 2003 in which she suggested "a wise Latina woman" or "wise woman" judge might "reach a better conclusion" than a male judge.
Those speeches, released Thursday as part of Sotomayor's responses to the Senate Judiciary Committee's questionnaire, (to see Sotomayor's responses to the Senate Judiciary Committee click here and here) suggest her widely quoted 2001 speech in which she indicated a "wise Latina" judge might make a better decision was far from a single isolated instance.
A draft version of a October 2003 speech Sotomayor delivered at Seton Hall University stated, "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would, more often than not, reach a better conclusion." That is identical to her October 2001 remarks at the University of California, Berkeley that have become the subject of intense criticism by Republican senators and prompted conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh to label her "racist."
In addition, Sotomayor delivered a series of earlier speeches in which she said "a wise woman" would reach a better decision. She delivered the first of those speeches in Puerto Rico in 1994 and then before the Women's Bar Association of the State of New York in April 1999. . . . .
Appearance on Glenn Beck's show
Sotomayor belongs to elite women's only group
Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor last year accepted an invitation to join the Belizean Grove, an elite but little-known women’s-only group.
Founded nearly 10 years ago as the female answer to the Bohemian Grove — a secretive all-male club whose members have included former U.S. presidents and top business leaders — the Belizean Grove has about 125 members, including Army generals, Wall Street executives and former ambassadors.
Sotomayor’s membership in the New York-based group became public Thursday afternoon in a questionnaire submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Since then, the group has been deluged with press calls, said its founder, Susan Stautberg, who explained that “we like to be under the radar screen.”
The group — which on its website describes itself as “a constellation of influential women who are key decision makers in the profit, nonprofit and social sectors; who build long-term, mutually beneficial relationships in order to both take charge of their own destinies and help others to do the same” — hosts periodic meetings around New York, as well as an annual off-the-record three-day retreat in Central or South America at which its members attend cocktail parties with U.S. diplomats and host-country officials and participate in panel discussions on public policy and business affairs.
At last year’s retreat in Lima, Peru, for instance, Sotomayor and the other members attended a reception at the American Embassy with U.S. Ambassador to Peru P. Michael McKinley and several female members of the Peruvian cabinet, Stautberg said. . . . .
Obama pays off his supporters
It is not unusual for a presidential administration to find ways to reward its supporters through federal largesse, particularly in this case, when the goal of the stimulus program is push money out the door to states and localities that can spend it quickly to jump-start the economy. The Bush administration was criticized in 2004 for sending Cabinet officials on trips that critics said doubled as campaigning for the president’s reelection bid.
But the numbers tell the tale: 52 of the 66 events were in states that backed Obama. And taken together, the itineraries amount to a veritable map of Obama’s election-night victories — big-money states like California and New York, swing states like Ohio and Colorado that Obama turned blue and other solidly Democratic states Obama kept in his column. . . . .
Of the other 14 events, Vice President Joe Biden and Cabinet officials often touched down in places where Obama lost narrowly and that Democrats hope to pull into their column by 2012, such as Missouri, Arizona, Montana and North Dakota. . . . .
More ACORN workers to face vote fraud trials
PITTSBURGH (AP) - Four former ACORN workers in western Pennsylvania will face trial on charges that they forged, illegally solicited or illegally filled out voter registration cards before the November election.
That's after a court hearing in Pittsburgh on Friday.
Twenty-year-old Pittsburgh resident Eric Jones waved his preliminary hearing. Three others were held for trial: 23-year-old West Mifflin resident Alexis Givner and two Pittsburgh residents, 21-year-old Ashley Clarke and 28-year-old Mario Grisom.
Prosecutors charged seven ACORN workers in May. One had already been ordered to stand trial and two others had their preliminary hearings postponed.
ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, has also come under scrutiny for registration irregularities in other states.
Why Socialism doesn't work
An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before but had once failed an entire class.
That class had insisted that socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.
The professor then said, "OK, we will have an experiment in this class on socialism. All grades would be averaged and everyone would receive the same grade so no one would fail and no one would receive an A.
After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B.
The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy.
As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little.
The second test average was a D! No one was happy.
When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.
The scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.
All failed, to their great surprise, and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed.
Could not be any simpler than that.
New "Pay Czar"
WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration plans to appoint a "Special Master for Compensation" to ensure that companies receiving federal bailout funds are abiding by executive-pay guidelines, according to people familiar with the matter.
The administration is expected to name Kenneth Feinberg, who oversaw the federal government's compensation fund for victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, to act as a pay czar for the Treasury Department, these people said.
Feinberg's appointment could be announced as early as next week, when the administration is expected to release executive-compensation guidelines for firms receiving aid from the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program. Those companies, which include banks, insurers and auto makers, are subject to a host of compensation restrictions imposed by the Bush and Obama administrations and by Congress.
Wall Street has been anxiously awaiting more details on how the rules will be applied. "The law is confusing and a bit ambiguous, and so we're looking for certainty as to how to structure pay incentives," said Scott Talbott, senior vice president of government affairs for the Financial Services Roundtable, a trade association. . . . . .
"Sotomayor's Controversial 'Wise Latina' Remark Not Isolated"
They include more instances in which she said she hopes a "wise Latina" would reach a better decision than a man without that experience.
The comments in 2002 and 2003 echo a much-criticized remark she made in 2001 at the University of California-Berkeley law school that has prompted a furor among conservatives who say they suggest President Barack Obama's first Supreme Court nominee brings a personal bias to her legal decisions.
Obama has said he is "sure she would have restated it." In fact, she said it almost precisely the same way in speeches to the Princeton Club in 2002 and one at Seton Hall law school in 2003, according to copies she sent the Senate. . . . .
Will Russians be given the right to carry concealed handguns?
The recent shooting in a Moscow supermarket by police major Denis Yevsyukov, who killed three people and wounded six others, only added to the negative image of those who are supposed to protect the population from armed criminals.
Yevsyukov used a pistol that had been missing for nine years, and it is now suspected that he and his deputy were engaged in illegal gun trade. The incident has spurred debate over further legalisation of gun ownership in Russia, including the right to carry a gun.
One problem facing Russian authorities is the frequent involvement of law enforcement officers in the illegal arms trade.
Unlike in the United States, where citizens have a right to bear arms under the constitution, the Russian federal government has a monopoly on gun legislation. The Soviet Union prohibited civilian gun ownership in 1929. Josef Stalin once reportedly said: "We don't let them have ideas. Why would we let them have guns?"
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, gun laws became less stringent. Current law divides those who are allowed to own firearms into three categories: regular citizens, military personnel and law enforcement officers. Each category can own only particular types of firearms: civilians are permitted to use firearms for self-defence, hunting, sports shooting and signalling.
People looking to buy a gun have to obtain a license from the Interior Ministry, which involves having a medical and a criminal record check, as well as completion of a gun safety course.
There are also restrictions concerning keeping and carrying guns around. To hunt, one has to be a member of a hunting club. Certain rules regulate the safe storage of a firearm in the house, but many argue that storing a gun apart from ammunition defeats the purpose of owning a gun for self-defence.
Advocates of further gun legalisation in Russia argue that any kind of weapon can be purchased on the black market, and thus the government should allow the public to defend itself from criminals. Plus, the legalisation of weapons would provide for a better control mechanism through licensing and taxation. . . . .
Thanks to Michael Rash for this link.
No Free Speech Rights for Those Wanting to End Gun Free Zones?
WASHINGTON — The First Amendment guarantees Americans the right to free speech. The Second Amendment guarantees the right to possess firearms. Now the first two clauses in the Bill of Rights have come together in an ongoing debate over the right of college students to advocate that they be allowed to carry guns on campus.
The bloody massacres at Virginia Tech and Columbine High School, as well as smaller campus shootings across the country in the last decade, have fomented a lively debate over whether citizens should be allowed to carry concealed weapons to defend themselves on campus.
But that debate has hit a wall of resistance from school officials in some places, bringing into focus the dual issues of gun rights and free speech.
Many gun-rights advocates are arguing that college campuses, which are supposed to be open to diversity of thought, provocative dialogue, politics and protest, are hardly bastions of free speech when it comes to discussing firearms.
"The fact is, the topic is so explosive," said Robert Shibley, spokesman for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which tracks discriminatory practices against students involved in conservative issues on campus. They've been dealing with "more and more" complaints about efforts to "squelch gun speech," he said.
The latest flareup involves Christine Brashier, who says officials at the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) violated her First Amendment right to free speech when they stopped her from posting and distributing fliers advocating for concealed carry on campus, and for a new chapter of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus (SCCC) at the college. The group has about a dozen chapters on other Pennsylvania campuses, Shibley said.
"I genuinely wanted to start discussion on the topic," Brasier told FOXNews.com this week. " I am not such an avid gun owner as much of the news has made me out to be — I simply believe in liberty and that college is the place for a debate about important issues such as this one." . . . . .
Read the rest.
Thanks to Anthony Troglio for the link.
Pastor invites congregants to bring guns to church
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- A Kentucky pastor is inviting his flock to bring guns to church to celebrate the Fourth of July and the Second Amendment.
New Bethel Church is welcoming "responsible handgun owners" to wear their firearms inside the church June 27, a Saturday. An ad says there will be a handgun raffle, patriotic music and information on gun safety.
"We're just going to celebrate the upcoming theme of the birth of our nation," said pastor Ken Pagano. "And we're not ashamed to say that there was a strong belief in God and firearms - without that this country wouldn't be here."
The guns must be unloaded and private security will check visitors at the door, Pagano said.
He said recent church shootings, including the killing Sunday of a late-term abortion provider in Kansas, which he condemned, highlight the need to promote safe gun ownership. The New Bethel Church event was planned months before Dr. George Tiller was shot to death in a Wichita church.
Kentucky allows residents to openly carry guns in public with some restrictions. Gun owners carrying concealed weapons must have state-issued permits and can't take them to schools, jails or bars, among other exceptions.
Pagano's Protestant church, which attracts up to 150 people to Sunday services, is a member of the Assemblies of God. The former Marine and handgun instructor said he expected some backlash, but has heard only a "little bit" of criticism of the gun event. . . . .
Thanks to Anthony Troglio for the link.
"How to Win the Spelling Bee"
That is the secret to winning the National Bee. The natural advantage of David, Kavya and all the other kids who have taken the trophy is a fierce and unswerving dedication to their study. The Spelling Bee is a workaholic's game. No weekend enthusiasts need apply.
In addition to discipline, winning the Bee requires a broad education. No mind can memorize the spelling of 450,000 words. Top spellers must be able to make an educated guess about obscure words using their wide-ranging knowledge of etymology, science, geography, history and literature.
So a top speller needs a rise-at-dawn work ethic and a multidisciplinary education. Still, you ask, why are there so many Indian winners given the fact that people of Indian descent only make up around 1% of the U.S. population? Surely there are American kids of all backgrounds who are hard workers with a great education. . . . .
The bottom line is that hard work pays off.
Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock temporarily delays Chrysler Bankruptcy case
Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock is getting his day in court, again. His appeal against a ruling allowing the sale of the bankrupt carmaker's assets, filed on behalf of three Indiana state pension funds, has made its way to the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York. Arguments will be heard Friday. . . . .
Mourdock said the funds, as secured creditors, should not be left behind in the bankruptcy process. He argued that the funds shouldn't have to play second fiddle to unsecured creditors, such as the Italian automaker Fiat, which is getting 20% of the New Chrysler, the soon-to-be-formed, post-bankrupt version of the company.
"This is the first time in American history that unsecured creditors have received more value in a bankruptcy than secured creditors," said Mourdock. . . . .
"IRS files $800,000 lien on '04 Kerry campaign"
Mr. Kerry's office said the IRS claim is erroneous and that the campaign paid its taxes correctly in 2004 when the Massachusetts Democrat challenged President Bush and lost.
"The IRS merely has a gap in their electronic records of the 2004 campaign's payroll forms," Kerry spokeswoman Whitney Smith said of the lien. "We filed these forms correctly, and we're working with the IRS to provide them any and all needed information to set the record straight.
"There's no there there; nothing to see here so move along folks, end of story," she said.
IRS spokesman Anthony Burke declined to comment on the lien or on the Kerry aide's characterization of the tax issue, saying federal law bars IRS employees from discussing individual cases. . . . .
Governor Phil Bredesen's veto of the "guns in restaurants" bill overridden in House
The Tennessee House of Representatives has voted to override Governor Phil Bredesen's veto on the controversial "guns in restaurants" bill. The State Senate is expected to follow suit. The vote was 69 to 27, an increase of three votes from when it originally passed.
The bill was spearheaded in the House by State Rep. Curry Todd (R-Memphis) who prior to the override vote introduced executive director of the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action Chris Cox and other NRA officials on hand to witness the proceedings.
Last week, Bredesen flanked by over fifty law enforcement officials from across the state vetoed the legislation calling it "reckless" and that it "defied common sense." He did admit at the time that he believed his veto would be overridden but that he hoped legislators would reconsider.
Todd and a majority of the House obviously disagreed with Bredesen's assessment of the legislation and voted accordingly. Countering Bredesen's move on flanking himself with law enforcement, Todd did the same and was joined at the podium by members of the Tennessee House who are also law enforcement officials. . . . . .
The Washington Post gets it wrong on comparing Easterbook's decision on applying the Second Amendment to the states to Sotomayer's decision
But yesterday a panel of conservative luminaries on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit reached the same conclusion. The unanimous ruling rejecting a challenge to Chicago's tough handgun law could complicate efforts to portray Sotomayor as a judicial activist trying to undermine the Supreme Court's landmark decision last year holding that the amendment protects the right to own a gun for self-defense. . . . .
Easterbrook agrees with the conclusion, but he does make some important differences and the language in the two cases is important.
Although the rationale of Cruikshank, Presser, and Miller is defunct, the Court has not telegraphed any plan to overrule Slaughter-House and apply all of the amendments to the states through the privileges and immunities clause, despite scholarly arguments that it should do this. See Akhil Reed Amar, America’s Constitution: A Biography 390–92 (2005) (discussing how the second amendment relates to the privileges and immunities clause). The prevailing approach is one of “selective incorporation.” Thus far neither the third nor the seventh amendment has been applied to the states—nor has the grand jury clause of the fifth amendment or the excessive bail clause of the eighth. How the second amendment will fare under the Court’s selective (and subjective) approach to incorporation is hard to predict. . . .
Read Sotomayer's decision here.
Obama Administration stops voter registration checks for citizenship in Georgia
The Justice Department has rejected Georgia's system of using Social Security numbers and driver's license data to check whether prospective voters are citizens, a process that was a subject of a federal lawsuit in the weeks leading up to November's election.
In a letter released on Monday, the Justice Department said the state's voter verification program is frequently inaccurate and has a "discriminatory effect" on minority voters. The decision means Georgia must halt the citizenship checks, although the state can still ask the Justice Department to reconsider, according to the letter and to the Georgia secretary of state's office.
"This flawed system frequently subjects a disproportionate number of African-American, Asian and/or Hispanic voters to additional, and more importantly, erroneous burdens on the right to register to vote," Loretta King, acting assistant attorney general of the Justice Department's civil rights division, said. King's letter was sent to Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker on Friday.
The decision comes as Georgia awaits word on whether a law passed in the spring that requires newly registering voters to show proof of citizenship will pass muster with DOJ. Under the law that takes effect in January, people must show their proof up front compared to doing checks through databases.
A three-judge federal panel in October ordered the state to seek Justice Department preclearance for the checks under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the same reason the federal agency must sign off on the new law that made Georgia only the second state after Arizona to require such proof. Georgia is one of several states that need federal approval before changing election rules because of a history of discriminatory Jim Crow-era voting practices.
Secretary of State Karen Handel blasted DOJ's decision, saying it opens the floodgates for non-citizens to vote in the state.
"Clearly, politics took priority over common sense and good public policy," said Handel, a Republican candidate for governor in 2010.
Justice Department officials said the citizenship match through driver's license and Social Security data has flagged 7,007 individuals as non-citizens but that many have been shown to be in error.
"Thousands of citizens who are in fact eligible to vote under Georgia law have been flagged," the Justice Department letter said.
The Justice Department decision marks the first time the new Democratic Obama administration has weighed in on Georgia's election laws. It is also the first time the Justice Department has rejected a change in election procedures by Georgia since the 1990s, according to a spokesman for the Georgia attorney general. . . . .
Macon.com has more useful info here.
Another report flagged 7,007 people as potential non-citizens. Those individuals would have to take, under the state’s procedures, inconvenient steps to be considered registered voters.”
The DOJ found that the verification process hit Hispanics, Asians and African Americans hardest. Of those flagged as non-citizens more than half were valid Americans, 14.9 percent of those had verified their citizenship with a birth certificate. “Another 45.7 percent provided proof they were naturalized citizens.” That led the DOJ to determine that data used to check citizenship was inaccurate.
The DOJ also calculated that although blacks and whites made up equal numbers of the newly registered, blacks were flagged 60 percent more than whites. “Hispanic and Asian individuals are more than twice as likely to appear on the (flagged) list as are white applicants,” the DOJ said. . . . .
Federal ID rules:
After 9/11, the federal government has added extra security measures when obtaining a state identification card, driver license, and social security card among other legal documents. A new federal law (called the Real ID Act) was introduced that made it a requirement to show proof of legal immigration status in the United States to obtain a drivers license from any state. As of May 2008, driver licenses issued by the states that do not meet these requirements will not be accepted as legal identification to gain entry into a federal building or to board an airplane in the United States.
"Was Benjamin Cardozo the first Hispanic Supreme Court nominee?"
"Sixty-seven percent (67%) of voters oppose the GM bailout deal"
Most U.S. voters continue to worry that the federal government will do too much in reacting to the country’s current economic problems.
For the second month in a row, 52% of voters express concern about the possibility of too much government action, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. That’s up from a low of 43% in mid-February to and remains the highest level of concern since Barack Obamawas elected president in November.
Thirty-seven percent (37%) fear the government will not do enough to help correct the ailing economy. That’s a rebound from 31% in April, but 40% to 43% have registered that concern every other month since Obama was elected. Twelve percent (12%) are not sure which is the bigger worry right now.
The survey was conducted just before the government took a 60% percent ownership stake in General Motors in exchange for an additional $30 billion in taxpayer funds to keep the auto giant in business. GM has already gotten $20 billion in government loans to stay afloat.
Sixty-seven percent (67%) of voters oppose the GM bailout deal, a view shared by most Americans for months.
Want a free daily e-mail update? If it's in the news, it's in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter.
Republicans remain far more concerned than Democrats about too much government action on the economy. Seventy percent (70%) of GOP voters worry the government will do too much, a view shared by 56% of voters not affiliated with either major party. But 56% of Democrats are fearful that the government will not do enough to help the economy.
Middle-income Americans, those earning between $40,000 and $100,000 per year, are more concerned than others about the government doing too much.
While 62% say the Bush administration, not President Obama, is more to blame for the country’s continuing economic problems, concern about the level of government action has been rising in recent months as Obama unveils his various spending initiatives to help the economy.
Thirty-one percent (31%) of voters now believe the president’s $789-billion economic stimulus package passed earlier in February has helped the economy. That's down from 38% at the time Congress approved it.. . . . .
Roll Call: "Visclosky’s Top Aide Resigns"
Chuck Brimmer has resigned as chief of staff to Rep. Peter Visclosky (D-Ind.) after being served with a subpoena as part of the federal grand jury probe of the PMA Group, a now-defunct lobbying firm.
The news came as Visclosky announced Tuesday that he is handing off control of the energy and water spending bill while the federal inquiry proceeds.
Visclosky spokesman Jacob Ritvo confirmed that Brimmer “has retired,” citing “respect for the process” in declining to comment further.
Visclosky on Friday announced that some staffers — and his Congressional and campaign offices — had been subpoenaed in the probe. Brimmer disclosed the development in a letter that was read into the Congressional record on Tuesday. He was the only Visclosky aide to report being served.
Brimmer has worked for Visclosky on and off since at least 2000, according to salary figures posted on LegiStorm, a Web site that tracks Congressional information. While on Visclosky’s payroll, Brimmer mostly split his time between the lawmaker’s personal office and the Appropriations Committee. . . . .
Roll Call: "Murtha Apparently Moved Earmark Between Brother’s Clients"
In early 2005, Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) apparently added language to a tsunami relief bill shifting $8.2 million from a former client of his brother’s lobbying firm to a new client of the same firm.
That earmark is now tangled up in a federal indictment alleging that some of the money was skimmed by contractors and a Defense Department employee for their personal use.
Murtha’s spokesman said that no one in his office has any recollection of the transaction, and the House Appropriations Committee was unable to provide any information about how the language appeared in the tsunami relief bill.
But sources familiar with the appropriations process agreed it was impossible that a provision removing earmarks from one company in Murtha’s district and transferring the money to another company in his district could have been added to the bill without Murtha’s involvement, since he was at the time the ranking member on the subcommittee with jurisdiction over the language.
The provision appears in the House committee report of a March 2005 bill providing billions of dollars worth of military spending and aid to the Asian countries that were devastated by the December 2004 tsunami that killed more than 250,000 people.
The bill included a “technical corrections” section, which transferred $8.2 million to “other procurement, Air Force” for a project called the “mobile common data link gateway.” This project — later called the “ground mobile gateway” — was an effort to build a unified battlefield communications platform for the Air Force by a Pennsylvania company called Coherent Systems. . . . . .
The Guy who is running the US Auto industry
Here's the one thing and there's absolutely nothing funny about it: the wunderkind in charge of saving our auto industry is a 31-year-old with about as much experience as a summer intern.
Despite having no formal business education, no business experience and no auto industry experience, 31-year-old Brian Deese is now in charge of dismantling General Motors.
So what does this guy's resume look like? It should be impressive, considering he's managing America's $458,000 per day involuntary investment.
Deese grew up in a Boston suburb, the son of a political science professor at Boston College. He moved to Vermont and attended Middlebury College, where he studied political science and also took time to host a campus radio show called "Bedknobs and Beatniks," described in one write-up as "a format of music, news, discussion and banter."
He graduated college in 2000 and then it was onto a pair of non-profit think tanks: the Center for Global Development and the Center for American Progress.
Eventually Deese went to Yale for a law degree, but a few credits short of graduating, he went "on leave" to work on Senator Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, quickly becoming her top economic policy staffer.
Last summer, Deese moved to the Obama campaign as a deputy economic policy director and, just before this current gig, he served on Obama's transition team as an economic adviser.
He was apparently the only full-time member of the auto task force from election night until about Valentine's Day, which Deese says was, "a little scary."
What should be more than a little scary for GM, much less the American people, is that however smart Deese may be, he has literally no private sector experience; he is not formally trained in economics or business; and, according to The Times, he "never spent much time flipping through the endless studies about the nature of the American and Japanese auto industries." . . . .
Center for Global Development -- "nonprofit policy research organization that is dedicated to reducing global poverty and inequality and to making globalization work for the poor." Deese was a research assistant here.
Center for American Progress -- "We combine bold policy ideas with a modern communications platform to help shape the national debate, expose the hollowness of conservative governing philosophy, and challenge the media to cover the issues that truly matter." Deese was a "senior policy analyst" here.
He has some weak five pieces that he wrote while he was at the the Center for American Progress:
1) explaining that a 5.4 percent unemployment rate was bad. Seemingly blaming Bush for all the increase in unemployment after he took office. The comparisons over the course of Bush's first term never mention the 9/11 attack and the impact that had on the economy.
2) How the economy was "stalled" and experiencing dramatically slow growth. The original piece is deleted from their website.
3) A piece saying that Americans should be concerned that they should be concerned about a "3 percent rate in the second quarter" in GDP.
4) Co-authored short piece advocating "debt relief for the world's poorest countries."
5) A 21 page co-authored report advocating restrictions on corporations using offshore workers, tax credits for so-called "energy efficient" cars and houses, on the important of reducing the Federal deficit, and giving Americans government healthcare. This document doesn't contain any detailed analysis but just a wish list of programs with a brief discussion about them.
New Fox News Op-ed: Is the Stimulus Working?
Has the $787 billion stimulus package worked? In California last Wednesday, President Obama declared, “we are already seeing results.” That is in line with the predictions Obama and his advisers made when they warned of dire consequences if the stimulus did not pass.
“If we fail to act, we are likely to lose millions more jobs and the unemployment rate could reach double digits,” Christina Romer, Obama’s chairwoman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, warned on February 4.
Obama agreed. “If we do not act, a bad situation will become dramatically worse. Crisis could turn into catastrophe for families and businesses across the country,” he said.
The administration was also very clear about the expected benefits from the legislation. On Jan. 25, Larry Summers, Obama’s chief economic adviser, said that the economy would start improving “within weeks” of the stimulus plan being passed.
The administration made specific predictions about the impact the bill would have. For instance, on Feb. 28, 11 days after the stimulus bill passed, the Obama administration predicted that the national unemployment rate was going to average 8.1 percent this year and then decline to an average of 7.9 percent next year. It also predicted that GDP was going to decline by only 1.2 percent this year.
Such predictions were less pessimistic than those of most economists. While the administration was expecting an average annual unemployment rate of 8.1 percent for the year, business economists and forecasters surveyed in January by the Wall Street Journal expected the June unemployment rate to be 8.2 percent and the December rate to be at 8.6 percent.
How did the predictions stack up? . . . .
7th Circuit says that the 2nd Amendment doesn't apply to the states
"Why'd Obama switch on detainee photos?: Maliki went ballistic"
President Barack Obama reversed his decision to release detainee abuse photos from Iraq and Afghanistan after Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki warned that Iraq would erupt into violence and that Iraqis would demand that U.S. troops withdraw from Iraq a year earlier than planned, two U.S. military officers, a senior defense official and a State Department official have told McClatchy.
In the days leading up to a May 28 deadline to release the photos in response to an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit, U.S. officials, led by Christopher Hill, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, told Maliki that the administration was preparing to release photos of suspected detainee abuse taken from 2003 to 2006.
When U.S. officials told Maliki, "he went pale in the face," said a U.S. military official, who along with others requested anonymity because of the matter's sensitivity.
The official said Maliki warned that releasing the photos would lead to more violence that could delay the scheduled U.S. withdrawal from cities by June 30 and that Iraqis wouldn't make a distinction between old and new photos. The public outrage and increase in violence could lead Iraqis to demand a referendum on the security agreement and refuse to permit U.S. forces to stay until the end of 2011.
Maliki said, "Baghdad will burn" if the photos are released, said a second U.S. military official. . . . .
"How the UAW got its Deal"
The bankruptcy of General Motors delivers an unwanted present to the roughly 472,000 retirees and dependents who once held some of the cushiest benefits in business.
When the automaker emerges from bankruptcy later this year, those retirees will be the proud owners of a shriveled health care package and a 17.5% stake in the new General Motors ( GM - news - people ), their compensation for giving up a perk once estimated to be worth more than $60 billion. . . . .
By 2005, the Big Three automakers were in deep financial distress, so the UAW and the automakers negotiated a VEBA package that would remove the retiree benefits from the balance sheet and place them in independently funded billion trusts. There was only one problem: The UAW doesn't legally represent retirees, who quit the union when they leave the assembly line.
To get around that, the union recruited two retirees to file a class-action lawsuit seeking to declare their benefits vested and unchangeable. The union also supplied them with an attorney, Pittsburgh lawyer William T. Payne, who would ultimately receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in court-ordered fees. Within weeks, Payne announced a settlement: The benefits were not vested, nor were they unchangeable. In fact the settlement closely resembled the package the UAW had already negotiated.
Some 1,200 retirees cried foul and sued to block the agreement, saying the UAW was more interested in saving jobs for its members than in preserving benefits for retirees.
"It creates a ridiculous conflict of interest," said Mark Baumkol, who represented the dissident retirees. "How can the union say to GM 'you better give us good wages or we'll strike,' if that causes a drop in the price of the stock that funds the VEBA?"
Baumkol would seem to have a good case. The Supreme Court considered a similar situation back in 1940 when Carl Hansberry challenged a deed restriction barring the sale of properties to "any person of the colored race." Hansberry, a black man and the father of author Lorraine Hansberry, had purchased his house in Washington Park only to be challenged by residents who said he'd violated the deed restriction. . . . .
"Most Americans Agree on Second Amendment"
Most adults in the United States believe the Second Amendment is intended to give individual Americans the right to keep and bear arms for their own defence, according to a poll by Opinion Research Corporation released by CNN. 77 per cent of respondents agree with this assessment.
Conversely, 21 per cent of respondents feel the Second Amendment was only intended to preserve the existence of citizen-militias.
The U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment guarantees Americans the right "to keep and bear arms." Some American states have enacted their own gun control regulations, independent of existing federal legislation.
In June 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled—in a 5-4 decision—that "the right of the people to keep and bear arms" is not limited to state militias and protects "the inherent right of self-defence."
On May 26, U.S. president Barack Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. Sotomayor has served as a judge at the District Court for the Southern District of New York and the Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. . . .
"Oakland homeowner shoots, kills intruder"
OAKLAND, TN (WMC-TV) - Authorities in Fayette County are investigating a shooting during a home invasion Monday morning near Oakland that left one person dead.
Homeowner Willie Woods said he awoke in the middle of the night to his wife, daughter, and to grandchildren screaming that someone was on their porch. Then, he heard the sound of breaking glass and saw an intruder entering his home. Woods said he tried to warn the intruder off.
"I ordered him not to come into the house," he said.
Fearful about what might happen next, Woods grabbed his pistol, and pulled the trigger when the intruder stepped inside.
"Right through the window - just walked right through the window, so I shot," he said. "I fired about three shots."
The intruder, Anthony Webb, was struck and killed by the bullets.
Webb was Woods neighbor. Woods said he didn't know who he'd shot until after the fact, and he wants a chance to speak with Webb's father, Leroy.
"I'd tell him how sorry I was," Woods said. "I'd let him know - I did that because I had to."
Investigators said the shooting was justified, and refused to file charges. . . . .
Most people believe that Stephen Colbert is an 'arch conservative'
Obama ignores science & Back from the Brink?
President Obama's push to force Americans into smaller cars ignores one big problem -- small cars are less safe than big cars. Ignoring this fact will cost lives.
Mr. Obama announced new miles-per-gallon regulations on May 19 that mandate that automobiles achieve 42 mpg by 2016. During last year's presidential campaign, Mr. Obama's Web site boasted that his positions on fuel economy were "science-based." Rep. Henry A. Waxman, California Democrat, said on Jan. 15 that efforts "to reduce global warming and our dependence on foreign oil ... must be based on the science ...." Apparently, this faith in science does not apply to the science of auto safety.
The scientific evidence on car size and safety is overwhelming. The National Academy of Sciences, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Congressional Budget Office, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and numerous academic studies are all in agreement on this point: Higher miles-per-gallon requirements lead to more deaths from car accidents . . .
On May 12, the White House withdrew the nomination of Chuck Hurley to head the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Mr. Hurley had a long record of backing hyperregulation as chief executive officer of Mothers Against Drunk Driving and as a board member of the National Campaign to Stop Red Light Running. Environmental groups reportedly opposed his nomination because he had said that increased Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards made cars less safe. Contradicting environmentalist orthodoxy carries a price.
A May 13 headline in the National Journal explained the politics of Mr. Hurley's political demise: "Enviros Forced NHTSA Nominee to Withdraw." This saga shows that even proponents of the nanny state take a back seat to greens in the Obama administration..
From the Washington Times:
President Obama declared Wednesday that "we have stepped back from the brink." Who knows what numbers brought him to that conclusion.
Fundamental economic statistics are worse than they were months ago. Any growth economists were predicting in December and January to start in midyear is expected to be weaker.
Consumer confidence and the stock market have been rising, but that is because the president and the press are no longer misleadingly bashing the economy and now are misleadingly cheering things on. Lawrence H. Summers, the president's chief economic adviser, was right when he said on March 13 that an "excess of fear" had driven down the economy and the stock market, but it was Mr. Obama who led the pack getting people to panic. For months, he hammered away that the economy was in an "unprecedented crisis." . . . .
Judge Sonia Sotomayor on Race, worse than I first thought
"I...accept that our experiences as women and people of color affect our decisions. The aspiration to impartiality is just that--it's an aspiration because it denies the fact that we are by our experiences making different choices than others. ... Justice O'Connor has often been cited as saying that wise old men and wise old--and a wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases. I am...not so sure that I agree with the statement. ... I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who wasn't lived that life. ... Personal experiences affect the facts that judges choose to see. My hope is that I will take the good from my experiences and extrapolate them further into areas with which I am unfamiliar. I simply do not know exactly what the difference will be in my judging. But I accept there will be some based on my gender and my Latina heritage."
Concealed handgun permits soar in St. Louis Area
From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Conceal carry permits could set record
By Susan Weich
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Missourians are rushing to arm themselves with concealed weapons at a record pace so far this year.
Criminologists and law enforcement officials say the increase may be driven by fear of increased crime due to the recession and the perception of potential loss of gun rights from a new Democratic president.
"People just don't feel safe, whether it's with the political structure or the economic situation," said Noelle Fearn, assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice at St. Louis University.
In the St. Louis area, the surge is most marked in St. Charles, Warren, Lincoln and Jefferson counties, where applications for the first four months of 2009 are between 114 percent and 144 percent higher than for the same period last year, according to data provided by sheriff's departments.
In St. Louis, applications are up 49 percent this year, and St. Louis County's have risen 53 percent. Illinois does not allow concealed carry.
In Missouri, no central database exists for new permits, but the Highway Patrol tracks the mandatory criminal background checks it performs for new applicants.
The patrol did 14,333 checks in 2004, the first year the permits were issued in Missouri. The number never came close until 2008, when it spiked dramatically to 18,466. However, through the third week of May this year, the number of checks had already reached 14,088. Most applicants pass the background check and get a permit. . . .
Thanks as always to Tony Troglio for sending me this link.
Obama to gradually force Netanyahu from office?
Senior Israeli officials were dismissive and defiant on Saturday night, following Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's visit to Washington, highlighted by a report in which PA officials said the leadership is waiting for US pressure to bring down the Netanyahu government.
The report in Friday's Washington Post came a day after Abbas's White House meeting with US President Barack Obama.
"It will take a couple of years" for this American pressure to force Netanyahu from office, the Washington Post quoted one of Abbas's officials as saying, presumably bringing opposition head Tzipi Livni to power.
"With all due respect to the United States, our strategic ally, we are an independent democratic country, and our political leadership is chosen by internal democratic processes," coalition chairman and Likud MK Ze'ev Elkin said on Saturday night. . . .
Judge Sonia Sotomayor on Racial Quotas
she has described her academic struggles as a new student at Princeton from a Roman Catholic school in the Bronx — one of about 20 Hispanics on a campus with more than 2,000 students.
She spent summers reading children’s classics she had missed in a Spanish-speaking home and “re-teaching” herself to write “proper English” by reading elementary grammar books. Only with the outside help of a professor who served as her mentor did she catch up academically, ultimately graduating at the top of her class.
She become the outspoken leader of a Puerto Rican students group, Acción Puertoricaño, leading other Hispanics to file a complaint against Princeton with the federal government to force the hiring of Hispanic faculty members and administrators. “She was very passionate about affirmative action for women and minorities,” said Charles Hey, another Puerto Rican student.
At Yale Law School, she was co-chairman of a group for Latin, Asian and Native American students — a catchall group for nonblack minorities. There she led fellow students in meetings with the dean to push for the hiring of more Hispanic faculty members at the law school. And, friends say, she shared the alarm of others in the group when the Supreme Court prohibited the use of quotas in university admissions in its 1978 decision Regents of the University of California v. Bakke.
As a lawyer, she joined the National Council of La Raza and the board of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund, two Hispanic civil rights groups that advocate for vigorous affirmative action. As a judge, she has repeatedly argued for diversity on the bench by alluding to the insights she gleaned from her Latina background.
In one of the few cases dealing with the subject that she helped decide on the federal appeals court, Ricci v. New Haven, she ruled in favor of the city’s ’s decision to discard the results of an exam to select firefighters for promotion because too few minority firefighters scored high enough to advance. White firefighters who had scored well on the discarded test sued, and the Supreme Court heard arguments on the case in April. . . . .