Does anyone believe that the Senate health care bill be changed once the House passes it?

The notion that the House will not be accepting the Senate bill when it votes on it is a fiction.

President Barack Obama says he wants projects helping specific states yanked from the health care bill Congress is writing. Democratic senators, being senators, beg to differ.

The Senate-approved health measure lawmakers hope to send to Obama soon would steer $600 million over the next decade to Vermont in added federal payments for Medicaid and nearly as much to Massachusetts.

Connecticut would get $100 million to build a hospital. About 800,000 Florida seniors could keep certain Medicare benefits. Asbestos-disease victims in tiny Libby, Mont., and some coal miners with black lung disease or their widows would get help, and there are prizes for Louisiana, the Dakotas and more states.

"We're going to do what we have to do to get a bill out of the House and Senate," said James Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. As for Obama's wish list of deletions: "We'll certainly keep it in mind as we pull together a final bill."

That tepid salute underscores the prickliness with which many senators have greeted what they consider Obama's meddling in their business and raises questions about how successful the president will be in erasing the special projects from final legislation. . . .

Labels: , ,

Fallout from Climategate?

USA Today tries to make Michael Mann appear as sympathetic as possible, but the piece still lists out what environmentalists think have been the problems that they have faced since Climategate.

• Citing doubts raised by the "climategate" e-mails, state governments in Texas, Virginia and Alabama filed legal challenges last month to stop the federal government from regulating carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. The challenges could force the Obama administration to modify or abandon its plans to regulate carbon emissions from factories and vehicles.

• Senate Democrats including John Kerry of Massachusetts have set aside House legislation that would limit greenhouse gas emissions from factories and other businesses nationwide. They are pursuing a new bill that may instead focus on utility companies, Kerry says.

• After more than a decade of fruitless efforts to negotiate a binding global treaty to cut greenhouse gas emissions, culminating in last December's summit in Copenhagen, the USA may now pursue a more narrow strategy, State Department climate change envoy Todd Stern said last month. He said future talks might be limited to a smaller group of major polluters such as the USA and China — and leave out small countries that blocked a deal at Copenhagen, such as Sudan.

• The United Nations announced Wednesday that it would bring in an outside panel of scientists to help review an occasional study put together by a U.N. body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The study was regarded as the gold standard of climate science until several errors came to light this year.

Will Al Gore now admit that the science is far from settled?

In retrospect, [Michael] Mann says the movie contributed to a "premature elation" among some scientists that they had won the battle for public opinion on global warming. He also says his colleagues and policymakers were too eager to present certain scientific conclusions as "settled" — particularly with regard to possible consequences from climate change, which he says need further study. . . .

Labels: , ,

Homicides in Venezuela have quadrupled in 11 years under Chavez, government no longer releases crime data

The Chavez government has accomplished a lot in 11 years. From Reuters:

The Venezuelan Observatory of Violence (OVV), whose data is widely followed in the absence of official statistics, said the South American nation has one of the highest crime rates on the continent, with 54 homicides per 100,000 citizens in 2009.

That rate is only surpassed in Latin America by El Salvador where 70 in every 100,000 citizens were murdered last year, the OVV said, citing official statistics from that country.

Crime repeatedly comes first on Venezuelans' list of worries. It has also begun to drag on Chavez's traditionally high approval ratings as well as scare tourists who come to Venezuela.

"The problem is not so much the criminals, but rather the government's inaction and lack of policies," OVV director Roberto Briceno Leon told Reuters.

Chavez says he is doing his best to combat crime, which he blames on wealth inequalities caused by former governments.

He accuses foes of exaggerating the problem to foment fear, and has recently hiked pay for police officers, as well as launching a new national force.

The Interior Ministry, which last gave official crime statistics in 2004, declined comment on the OVV's new figures.

Briceno, a criminology professor at the Central University of Venezuela and at the Sorbonne in Paris, blamed a weak judicial system and ineffective and corrupt policing in Venezuela, where he said 91 percent of crimes go unsolved.

He collates his figures from police sources and media reports. When Chavez came to power in 1999 there were 4,550 homicides whereas in 2009 there were 16,047, the OVV said. . . .

With a murder rate of 140 per 100,000 citizens, Venezuela's capital Caracas has the highest murder rate in South America, only exceeded in the hemisphere by Mexico's Ciudad Juarez.

Most of the deaths occur in crowded slums, but crime impinges on all sectors. In richer residential areas at night, cars shoot through red lights on often deserted streets and few people are willing to risk walking outside. . . .

Labels: ,

Want to know the political views of Movie Reviewers?: See how they rated "The Green Zone"

I had noted privately that there was something pretty obvious about the reviews when I looked at them collected at Rotten Tomatoes. Here is a conspiracy theory about the Bush administration lying about WMD in Iraq to trick people into supporting the war. While trying to demonize a duplicitous Bush official as lying about the WMD, there is no mention that all the other security services in the world believing pretty much the same thing. Movie reviewer What Would Toto Watch? has a similar reaction here.

It looks as though the $100 million movie that is showing at 3,003 movie theaters will be a flop, bringing in $15 million the first weekend.

UPDATE: Here is what Box Office Mojo wrote about the opening weekend receipts.

Speaking of director-actor collaborations, director Paul Greengrass and actor Matt Damon failed to replicate the box office success of The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum with their third teaming, Green Zone. The Iraq-set action thriller posted a mediocre estimated $14.5 million on approximately 3,400 screens at 3,003 sites, and it will ultimately gross only a fraction of its reported $100 million production budget. This was the latest Middle East-themed movie to disappoint, landing between the opening weekends of The Kingdom ($17.1 million) and Body of Lies ($12.9 million). Instead of politics, though, Green Zone's marketing sold nondescript action and intrigue and stressed the Bourne connection, banking that that would carry the day. According to distributor Universal Pictures' exit polling, Green Zone's audience was 54 percent male and 67 percent over 30 years old, and its "B-" from moviegoer pollster Cinemascore suggests that word-of-mouth will likely be tepid at best. . . .

Labels: ,

If you have to make a choice between appearing on Fox News or one of the other networks, pick Fox

Fox gets more of an audience than CNN, MSNBC, and HLN (and I assume also CNBC) combined. It doesn't matter if you look at day or prime time or whether you look at total viewers or the 25 to 54 demographic.

Labels: ,

Stupak says that Pro-Life Democrats are being turned by Democrats and Unions

I guess that I don't accept the "without means available" to have an abortion claim. We are talking about a procedure that costs $450. A woman can pay for it in installments, and it seems hard to believe that there are many women who can't afford this. The subsidies that go to incomes several times above the poverty line are obviously not related to whether a woman can pay for an abortion.

According to Stupak, that group of twelve pro-life House Democrats — the “Stupak dozen” — has privately agreed for months to vote ‘no’ on the Senate’s health-care bill if federal funding for abortion is included in the final legislative language. Now, in the debate’s final hours, Stupak says the other eleven are coming under “enormous” political pressure from both the White House and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.). “I am a definite ‘no’ vote,” he says. “I didn’t cave. The others are having both of their arms twisted, and we’re all getting pounded by our traditional Democratic supporters, like unions.”

Stupak says he also doesn’t trust the “Slaughter solution,” a legislative maneuver being bandied about on Capitol Hill as a way to pass the Senate bill in the House without actually voting on it. “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me,” he says. “I don’t have a warm-and-fuzzy feeling about what I’m hearing.”

Stupak notes that his negotiations with House Democratic leaders in recent days have been revealing. “I really believe that the Democratic leadership is simply unwilling to change its stance,” he says. “Their position says that women, especially those without means available, should have their abortions covered.” The arguments they have made to him in recent deliberations, he adds, “are a pretty sad commentary on the state of the Democratic party.”

What are Democratic leaders saying? “If you pass the Stupak amendment, more children will be born, and therefore it will cost us millions more. That’s one of the arguments I’ve been hearing,” Stupak says. “Money is their hang-up. Is this how we now value life in America? If money is the issue — come on, we can find room in the budget. This is life we’re talking about.” . . .

Labels: ,

Vote Count for House Health Care Vote as of Friday Afternoon

If the Dems get all 11 Toss-Up votes, they would have to get 4 of the leaning no or probable no votes to pass the legislation. From Hannity.com. If you live in the district of any of the Congressmen from Probable Yes to Probably No, you still have until possibly this next Friday to contact them. The earlier that you contact them, the better. If you are a Democrat or have voted in Democrat primaries, you should let them know that fact when you call. Potentially losing a Democrat vote will make a bigger difference to them.

UPDATE: The Vote Count From this morning. Warning: I am pretty sure that Bishop (NY) is leaning "Yes."


Obama: subsidize exports to increase them

Subsidizing exports to expand them? Selling products for less than they are worth is not exactly a way to make the US wealthier.

President Obama unveiled plans Thursday to double U.S. exports over the next five years . . .

Designed to deliver on a pledge he made in his State of the Union speech, Obama's plan includes $2 billion in new export financing through the Export-Import Bank, which helps U.S. companies finance overseas sales; establishment of a Cabinet group to promote U.S. goods and services abroad; and an expanded role for the Nixon-era President's Export Council, to be chaired by W. James McNerney, Boeing's president and chief executive. Restrictions on the overseas sale of some high-end technology goods may also be eased.

If successful, the president said, the program would create 2 million jobs. Experts said the viability of that figure would depend on the type of exports that are expanded. . . .

Labels: ,

The Obama administration announces a three-year offshore drilling ban

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama said that he would allow offshore oil drilling.

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has also moderated his stance, moving from staunch opposition to suggesting that new drilling could be part of a new energy strategy. That shift led to accusations from some of his supporters that he had flip-flopped. . . .

Or this:

Sen. Barack Obama responded Saturday to criticism that he has changed his position on opposing offshore oil drilling.

Obama said Friday that he would be willing to compromise on his position against offshore oil drilling if it were part of a more overarching strategy to lower energy costs.

"My interest is in making sure we've got the kind of comprehensive energy policy that can bring down gas prices," Obama told The Palm Beach Post early into a two-day swing through Florida.

But on Saturday morning, Obama said this "wasn't really a new position." . . .

However, now Obama has imposed a three year ban on offshore oil drilling.

The Obama administration’s six-month delay in approving new offshore drilling leases in federal waters will become a new three-year ban, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar quietly told reporters last Friday. Which means that no new oil and gas leases will be approved during President Obama’s term even though two –thirds of the American public supports such activity, according to a December 2009 Rasmussen poll.

Sixty percent also believe that gas and oil prices will drop if the government allows offshore drilling, opening up an estimate 14 billion barrels of oil and 55 trillion cubic feet of natural gas

On July 14, 2008 President George W. Bush lifted an executive ban on Outer Continental Shelf leasing. On October 1, 2008, in a bipartisan agreement, Congress lifted another longstanding ban on new oil and gas leasing in the OCS.

Drilling was supposed to begin this July. But Salazar said he intends to discard the 2010-2015 lease plan developed by the Bush administration in favor of a new plan that won’t even go into effect until 2012.

“Secretary Salazar has finally confirmed what had long been feared – that the Obama Administration has no intention of opening up new areas for offshore drilling during his four-years in office,” said Rep. Doc Hastings, the ranking Republican on the House Natural Resources Committee. , , ,

Labels: ,


Pelosi explains why health care takeover is so important

From the Rachel Maddow Show last night:

"Think of an economy where people could be an artist, a photographer, a writer without having to worry about keeping their day job in order to keep their insurance."

We are supposed to do this damage to the health care system so that people can quit their jobs and get free health care? Maddow frames this as a pro-freedom vote.

Labels: ,

Obama and Executive Orders

Another set of broken promises:

Despite being an open critic during his campaign of former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush’s frequent use of executive orders and signing statements, Obama will now go back on yet another campaign promise and take over the role of decider-in-chief by laying down his own authoritarian decrees.

Frustrated by the failure to get health care reform and cap and trade bills through Congress, the Obama administration will whip up a fresh batch of executive orders and presidential signing statements to effectively shape its owns laws and progress its own agenda.

“With much of his legislation agenda stalled in Congress, President Obama and his team are preparing an array of actions using his executive power to advance energy, environmental, fiscal and other domestic policy priorities,” reported The New York Times.

The Obama presidency has barely hit the one-year mark and has already issued nearly 50 of his own executive orders on a wide variety of issues. He may even be well on his way to surpassing Bush, who ended his two terms as president with a stock of 289 executive orders.

“We are reviewing a list of presidential executive orders and directives to get the job done across a front of issues,” said Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, in The New York Times article. . . .

Labels: ,

Why Romney will have a very difficult time running for president.

"I Never Really Called Myself Pro-Choice"

People can judge for themselves whether he ever said that he was "pro-choice."




While he doesn't appear to have liked the book very much, my son Roger's book review starts this way:

Stephen Green, an ordained priest in the Church of England and chairman of the British Bankers' Association, seeks in "Good Value" to use a history-based understanding of globalization to come to terms with the recent financial meltdown. The author ultimately describes the need for a "new world order" in which businesses "must consider value from the perspective not just of investors, but of customers, employees, suppliers, communities and - increasingly - the environment too."

Mr. Green describes a need for a new sort of "capitalism" more compatible with the realities of an economic system in which "all sorts of institutions, large and not so large, can be too interconnected to be allowed simply to fail." He cites Lawrence Summers, chief economic adviser to President Obama, as a "strong defender of free markets" who admits that the belief that the market is inherently self-stabilizing has been "dealt a fatal blow." Mr. Green doesn't understand that the belief that institutions are "too-big-to-fail" is fundamentally incompatible with capitalism, which weeds out weak businesses in a manner akin to natural selection.

Mr. Green seems to think of the modern global economy as consisting of chains whose weakest links must be preserved to prevent the whole thing from coming apart. What he forgets is that bailing out these weak links encourages the creation of more such risky "chains" of questionable strength. The worse it gets, the more bailing out the government would have to do, leading to a vicious cycle until people stop blaming the banks for failing and start blaming the government that's encouraging them to fail despite noble intentions to the contrary. The free market does have a self-regulating mechanism. It's just that the government isn't letting it work. . . .

Labels: ,

The Hill Newspaper is counting noses on House Health Care Vote

The headline "House Democrats' 'no' votes are piling up on healthcare reform" tells the story.

More than two dozen Democrats are expected to vote against the healthcare reform bill that will hit the House floor in the coming weeks.

At least 25 House Democrats will reject the healthcare reform legislation, according to a survey by The Hill, a review of other media reports and interviews with lawmakers, aides and lobbyists. Dozens of House Democrats are undecided or won't comment on their position on the measure.

The 25 opposed include firm "no" votes and members who are likely "no" votes. Most Democrats on The Hill's whip list are definitely going to vote no, but others, such as Reps. Lincoln Davis (Tenn.) and Harry Teague (N.M.), could vote yes.

However, The Hill has not yet put Democrats who are insisting on Rep. Bart Stupak's (D-Mich.) language on abortion in the "no" category. Stupak has said there are 12 Democrats who supported the House bill in November who will vote no unless his measure blocking federal funding of abortions is melded into the final bill.

If leadership doesn't make changes to the abortion language and Stupak does indeed have 12 votes in his pocket, it will be very difficult to pass a bill. Yet if they do change the provisions, supporters of abortion rights in the House will threaten to vote no. . . .

So Democrats are trying to pass the bill without requiring a vote.

Would House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her fellow House Democratic leaders try to cram the Senate version of Obamacare through the House without actually having a recorded vote on the bill?
Not only is the answer yes, they would, they have figured out a way to do it, according to National Journal's Congress Daily:
"House Rules Chairwoman Louise Slaughter is prepping to help usher the healthcare overhaul through the House and potentially avoid a direct vote on the Senate overhaul bill, the chairwoman said Tuesday.
"Slaughter is weighing preparing a rule that would consider the Senate bill passed once the House approves a corrections bill that would make changes to the Senate version.
"Slaughter has not taken the plan to Speaker Pelosi as Democrats await CBO scores on the corrections bill. 'Once the CBO gives us the score, we'll spring right on it,' she said."


Student stopped by police for openly carrying gun at Utah Valley University

From KSL Channel 5 in Utah.

A student confronted by police for openly carrying a gun at Utah Valley University says he's within his rights. Now advocates on both sides say his story points to a problem in Utah law.

The student posted on YouTube the confrontation he had with officers after they responded to a report of a man with a gun.

Steven Gunn of the Utah Gun Violence Prevention Center says it points to a problematic gap in Utah law that has not been addressed.

"I can't imagine what the reaction might be, well actually I can," he says, "of a student walking along the campus and seeing another student carrying a shotgun."

Gunn says Utah's gun laws are vague and don't clearly state whether open carry is legal. He says a bill clarifying that issue needs to be drafted.

The student told KSL he was not trying to make a fuss. He agreed to keep his gun concealed for now, but he doesn't feel he should have to.

Labels: , ,


5 years in prison for a BB gun?

Five years in prison from bringing an unloaded BB gun to school to show student ROTC members seems nonsensical. Of course, this BB gun is neither a "firearm or dangerous weapon."

A 17-year-old student at Huntington High School has been arrested after allegedly bringing an unloaded BB gun onto the campus.

Authorities say Freddiericka Terrell was in or near the school's auditorium when she reportedly showed the gun to a group of students during a JROTC class on Wednesday. Shreveport police spokesman, Sgt. Bill Goodin, says the students reported the alleged incident to the school's security officer and Terrell was arrested.

Terrell, a junior, was booked into the Shreveport City Jail on one count of carrying a firearm or dangerous weapon on school property. If convicted, she faces up to five years in prison.

In addition, Terrell has been suspended from school, pending a hearing.

Thanks to Kirk Mooneyham for mentioning this to me.

Labels: , ,

New piece at BigHollywood: Television and Gun Accuracy Don’t Mix

My piece starts this way:

Has “Burn Notice” gotten new writers? They used to have some very insightful comments about guns and crime (e.g., see the episode in season 2 entitled “Lesser Evil”). Yet, now one needs a scorecard to keep tracks of all the errors in some of the shows. Take some of the errors in the most recent show, “Partners in Crime,” posted on Hulu. . . .

Labels: ,

Obama administration wants to change how poverty is measured

Obama wants to define poverty as relative and not absolute levels of income.

This week, the Obama administration announced it will create a new poverty-measurement system that will eventually displace the current poverty measure. This new measure, which has little or nothing to do with actual poverty, will serve as the propaganda tool in Obama’s endless quest to “spread the wealth.”

Under the new measure, a family will be judged “poor” if its income falls below a certain specified income threshold. Nothing new there, but, unlike the current poverty standards, the new income thresholds will have a built-in escalator clause: They will rise automatically in direct proportion to any rise in the living standards of the average American.

The current poverty measure counts absolute purchasing power — how much steak and potatoes you can buy. The new measure will count comparative purchasing power — how much steak and potatoes you can buy relative to other people. As the nation becomes wealthier, the poverty standards will increase in proportion. In other words, Obama will employ a statistical trick to ensure that “the poor will always be with you,” no matter how much better off they get in absolute terms.

The Left has promoted this idea of an ever-rising poverty measure for a long time. It was floated at the beginning of the War on Poverty and flatly rejected by Pres. Lyndon Johnson. Not so President Obama, who consistently seeks to expand the far-left horizons of U.S. politics. . . .

Labels: ,

Remember how the media was bogged down for a month about what Dennis Hastert knew about Mark Foley?

For a month it seemed as if there was nothing but media stories about Foley and the stupid emails that he sent former interns. It turns out that then House Speaker Dennis Hastert didn't really know that much and certainly hadn't seen the emails. Will there now be a media feeding frenzy about what Nancy Pelosi knew? Apparently Massa is accused of making advances to at least one intern as well as multiple staff members.

But a Pelosi aide told POLITICO on Wednesday evening that Massa’s chief of staff, Joe Racalto, informed a member of Pelosi’s “member services” operation in October that Massa was living with several aides, had hired too many staff members and used foul language around his staff.

Racalto also raised concerns about “the way Massa ran his office” and informed Pelosi’s member-services staffer that he had asked Massa to move out of the group house on Capitol Hill, the Pelosi aide said.

Democratic insiders say Pelosi’s office took no action after Racalto expressed his concerns about his then-boss in October.

Hoyer’s aides say he was informed of sexual-harassment allegations against Massa by Ron Hikel, another Massa aide, Feb. 8 and gave the New York Democrat’s office an ultimatum: Take the charges to the ethics committee within 48 hours, or Hoyer would. . . .

Now comes this information from CBS that indicates that Massa may have had a long reputation for this activity. For his time in Congress, they write:

Reports surfaced earlier in the day that Massa had been under investigation for allegedly groping multiple male staffers and behaving inappropriately with interns. . . .

Labels: ,

Did the Obama administration really offer Sestak a job to drop out of Senate race?

I am not sure that I believe Sestak, but Sestak claims that the Obama administration offered him a high-ranking government job if he’d stay out of the race.

The top Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee says the Obama administration may have broken the law by offering Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) a job in order to persuade him not to mount a primary challenge against Sen. Arlen Specter.

Sestak has said that the administration offered him a high-ranking government job if he’d stay out of the race. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs has been asked repeatedly about the accusation in recent weeks but so far has neither confirmed nor denied that a job was offered.

But in a letter to White House general counsel Robert Bauer Wednesday, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said that, if Sestak’s allegation is true, administration officials may have violated a federal statute which makes it a crime for a government employee to use his authority “for the purpose of interfering with, or affecting, the nomination or the election of any candidate” for certain offices, including Senate seats. . . . .

Labels: ,

Census finding it very hard to hire many Hispanics in Texas and other states?

With unemployment high, you would think that it would be easy to fill the quotas for Hispanics to do the Census. If I read this article in the WSJ correctly, the claim is that there are so few legal Hispanics in some areas that they can't find anyone who qualifies.

But recruiting Latinos is hard for some of the same reasons they are difficult to count, recruiters say. Census workers must be proficient in English, pass a test to prove their math and map-reading skills, and preferably be U.S. citizens. (The bureau hires legal residents as a last resort if no citizens from a particular area are available.) In certain places, such as rural areas, Colonias or neighborhoods with a high proportion of undocumented immigrants "there may be a very small fraction who are eligible," said Mr. Salinas. . . .

The reason they can't find these workers then is because of the citizenship or legal resident citeria.

See also here for a discussion of how easy the test is and how they have dropped the drug test requirement.


Sen. Byrd Stopped Clinton from Using Reconciliation for Clinton's health care bill

"President Clinton got on the phone and called me also and pressed me to allow his massive health care bill to be insulated by reconciliation's protection."
"I felt that changes as dramatic as the Clinton health care package, which would affect every man, woman, and child in the United States should be subject to scrutiny. I said Mr. President, I cannot in good conscience turn my face the other way. That's why we have a Senate to amend and debate . . . That health bill, as important as it is, is so complex, so far reaching, that the people of this country need to know what is in it, and more over Mr. President we Senators need to know what is in it. And he accepted that. "

Labels: ,

New Fox News piece: The Truth About Unemployment

My newest piece starts off this way:

According to Friday's announcement by the Labor Department, the nation’s unemployment rate remains unchanged from the previous month at 9.7 percent. The number was generally greeted as good news by the media. The Wall Street Journal's headline reported "Outlook Brightens for Jobless." The Los Angeles Times headline said: "Employment outlook brightens in U.S., state." But the cheeriness overlooks the fact that most of the new jobs are largely temporary, part-time jobs. And not the types of jobs workers held before the recession.

36,000 jobs were lost in February, according to the Labor Department's survey of businesses, up from the 26,000 lost in January. Nevertheless, the increase in job losses is viewed by some as good news because fewer jobs were lost than the 50,000 the 20 forecasters surveyed by Reuters had expected. Claims are made that jobs could very likely have been added if it wasn't for the snow storms on the East coast, but no empirical evidence is offered. Cutting down the number of work days may have delayed people being hired, but it might just as well delayed some employees from being laid off.

While the unemployment rate held steady at 9.7 percent in February, the percent of the workforce "employed part time for economic reasons" rose from 5.3 to 5.7 percent. They work between 1 and 34 hours per week, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, "because of an economic reason, such as their hours were cut back or they were unable to find full-time jobs." . . .

Labels: , , , ,

The House Democrats who say that they will vote "No" on Health care bill unless abortion language fixed

Reportedly there are at least 12 of these 14 have strong enough feelings on the abortion issue to vote against the health care takeover. I haven't seen a list previously of these congressmen. Hopefully people in these districts will let them know they support this action. Links on how to contact each congressmen are below. Those in italics have confirmed to Fox News that they will not vote for the Senate Health Care bill.

Rep. Marion Berry, D-Ark.
Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Ill.
Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper, D-Pa.
Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.
Rep. Steve Driehaus, D-Ohio
Rep. Brad Ellsworth, D-Ind.
Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio
Rep. Dale Kildee, D-Mich.
Rep. Daniel Lipinski, D-Ill.
Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-Minn.
Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich.
Rep. Charlie Wilson, D-Ohio
Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio
Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Ga.


Democrats having harder time getting health care takeover passed?

From the Drudge Report today:

TODAY: Obama pushing on health care end game (AP)

Last year:

July 28: Healthcare endgame on Capitol Hill (Reuters)
August 21: Analysis: Health care endgame near but uncertain (AP)
October 14: Senate, administration begin healthcare endgame as Dem leaders express unity (Hill)
October 25: Senators say health care bill endgame is in sight (Politico)
October 27: End Game: So When Will Health Care Really Happen? (TPM)
October 30: Health reform inches closer to endgame (WaPo)
November 23: The Health Care Endgame (NPR)

From Michael Barone:

Some liberals claim that Democrats would be better off passing a bill, any bill, even if it's unpopular with the general electorate. The idea is to energize the Democratic base, currently demoralized by the prospects of failure. Current polls show Democrats far less enthusiastic and far less likely to vote; passing a law might change that.
Others, mostly conservatives but also some liberals speaking privately, figure that Democrats would be better off letting the issue drop. Back in January, Barack Obama said he would emphasize "jobs, jobs, jobs," currently a higher priority for voters than health care. By November, these folks hope voters will have forgotten about health care and may be impressed by Democratic economic policies.
I'm inclined to think both sides are wrong. They both assume that there exists some optimum course that will produce happy results. But sometimes in politics there is no course that leads to success. Disaster lies ahead whatever you do. . . . .

Even if both paths are problematics, which is worse? If the Democrats think that neither looks good politically, it could still make it more difficult for Dems to pass the health care takeover because there will be at least some Dems who have different views on which direction is worse.

Labels: ,

A note on last quarter's GDP growth

This note was of interest.

Prof. Peter Morici of the University of Maryland commented on Wednesday: "Fourth quarter GDP growth was 5.9%, but 66% of that was a slower pace in depletion in business inventories. Businesses continued to sell more goods off their shelves than they produced, but depletion of inventories fell from $157 billion in the third quarter to $20 billion in the fourth. The difference, $137 billion, counts as growth in the arcane world of GDP accounting.

Of the 5.9% increase in GDP, consumption, investment, government, and net exports contributed a paltry 2.0 percentage points to growth. That statistic is more indicative of the sustainable pace of GDP growth, and would indicate job losses will continue or gains will be too small to keep up with the natural growth of the labour force. Hence unemployment, however, will remain terribly high."

Morici says that in January manufacturers added 11,000 breaking a long losing streak, thanks to a 22,700 pickup in motor vehicles and parts production. Trailing auto sales and troubles at Toyota are expected to dampen gains or push manufacturing employment down going forward. Though industrial production has been rising overall, many gains are in durable goods industries that have learned to make many more goods with few workers. . . .


Senator Schumer moves to try to end filibusters

Apparently using reconciliation wasn't enough for the Democrats.

With Democrats lacking a filibuster-proof majority, Sen. Chuck Schumer plans to begin holding hearings to reform the potent stalling tactic, an issue that has picked up steam among liberal and junior Democratic senators.

The hard-charging New Yorker, who chairs the Rules and Administration Committee, plans to move forward with a hearing on March 24 after discussing the issue with Sens. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.), two men who have grown concerned with the increased use of filibuster threats to derail legislative business, an aide said Tuesday.

The first hearing is expected to examine the history of the filibuster, with Senate historians testifying before the committee. The following hearings will likely focus on specific filibuster reform proposals that have been offered by Udall, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), and other senators. The aide said there will be at least three hearings on the issue.

With their agenda stalled and Democrats one vote shy of the 60 needed to break filibusters, Democrats have grown increasingly frustrated that Republicans have demanded that many pieces of legislation require a supermajority of senators to advance. Democrats acknowledge they lack the votes to reform the filibuster, but are eager to argue that the procedural tool has been abused to an unprecedented level in recent years.

Schumer's move comes after his potential rival for the majority leader spot, Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), has recently signed onto Harkin's bill to reform the filibuster and has advocated more aggressive tactics to put a spotlight on the GOP's dilatory acts. Some may view the senators' latest efforts as ways to score points with Senate Democrats frustrated by seeing bills die in the upper chamber and eager for more aggressive leadership. . . .


Massive stimulus fraud

From the Washington Times:

Federal investigators have received more than 730 allegations of waste or fraud in stimulus act funding so far, have canceled the contracts of some bad actors and have sent a couple of dozen cases to the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service and prosecutors.

As the pace of spending peaks, continuing to police the $862 billion will take a huge portion of investigators' resources over the next year - as much as 60 percent of some inspector generals' budgets, according to a report released Tuesday by Sen. Mark Pryor, Arkansas Democrat, who has taken a keen interest in weeding out fraud from stimulus spending.

One auditor warned that reports of fraud are expected to increase as the money continues to flow.

"HUD reports that they have obligated 98 percent of [stimulus] funds. However, the majority of these funds have not yet been received by grantees," Kenneth M. Donohue, inspector general at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, said in a letter to Mr. Pryor. "While it is early in the process, we anticipate seeing trends of waste, fraud and abuse once the grants are received, especially in light of the results of our capacity reviews." . . . .

Labels: ,


Indiana Appeals Court rules that a concealed handgun permit is not sufficient cause for a search

Given the recent searches upheld by courts in other states, this was nice to see:

Police may not search a vehicle merely because its driver has been issued a valid concealed carry permit, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled on Thursday. A three-judge appellate panel weighed the actions of Indianapolis Police Officer Danny Reynolds who pulled over Melvin Washington for driving with a burned-out headlight on September 17, 2008 at 12:30am.

On that morning, Reynolds first asked Washington whether he had a gun, and Washington said he had one under his seat. Washington also carried a valid concealed carry permit. At this point, Reynolds ordered Washington out of the car and handcuffed him so that he could conduct a search under the seat of Washington's vehicle. Reynolds spotted a small bag of marijuana and issued Washington a court summons and a ticket for the defective headlight. Washington was then released with his handgun placed in the trunk of his vehicle, unloaded.

Washington moved to have the evidence against him suppressed because the warrantless search, he argued, violated the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches. A lower court disagreed, insisting that "officer safety" justified the search. The court of appeals did not buy the safety argument. . . .

A copy of the court's decision is here.


Missouri Democratic Rep. Emanuel Cleaver says that Dems have 201 of the 216 votes needed to pass the government health takeover bill

The interview on KCUR's "Up to Date" can be heard here.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) says that the House isn't sticking with the March 18th deadline given to them by the White House.

"None of us has mentioned the 18th, other than Mr. Gibbs," Hoyer said in response to a question about whether Congress can pass a health care package by March 18, the date laid out last week by White House press secretary Robert Gibbs. "We are trying to do this as soon as possible. That continues to be our objective."

In the meantime, Hoyer said an internal fight over abortion restrictions "has to be resolved."

The majority leader didn't offer any ideas for a possible compromise between abortion opponents and their equally enraged adversaries in the abortion-rights camp, nor would he comment directly on whether Democrats could pass the bill without changing the Senate's current restrictions, which require insurance companies to set up separate accounts for anyone who wants coverage of elective abortions.

"I think it will be resolved one way or the other, and I think the bill will pass," Hoyer said after acknowledging that he wouldn't answer a question directly. "It's got to be resolved." . . .


The Hill Newspaper does a Whip Count on the Government Takeover of Health Care Bill

The Hill has the position of some congressmen here. I wish that they had more information on the congressmen who initially voted "no" last fall, but they do have the positions (or lack of positions) for those who originally voted "yes." If you live in the district of any of the congressmen who are at all undecided, please consider contacting them.


Not wanted by local little league baseball teams, a local NJ gun dealer helps out a Rugby Club

It would be nice if the little league baseball teams were embarrassed by this behavior, but they problem won't be.

The local baseball league might not want Matt Carmel’s money. But he’s found a league that does. After the South Orange-Maplewood Baseball Committee turned down Carmel’s $300 check to sponsor a team, the nearby Morris Rugby Football club said “We’ll take that.” And so now, there will be a local rugby team called Constitution Arms, the name of Carmel’s gun dealership.

The baseball committee rejected Carmel’s sponsorship application, without giving him a reason why. But one of the committee members tells Fox News he voted against it because he was “certain that…it would generate controversy.” Craig Gruber, who’s been on the committee for 7 years told us, “We are a group of volunteers and quite frankly, we have our hands full running the league and deciding things like whether or not the infield fly rule should apply to 9 year olds.”

But Matt Carmel says that’s not fair. He says people have an irrational fear of guns and that besides, the league allows local wine stores to sponsor teams. He also points to another approved sponsor, a chicken restaurant called Cluck U, as being objectionable considering its risqué advertising campaign and name.

But the baseball league says it has broad authority to reject potential sponsors based on the well being of the kids who play. And the league just didn’t think a gun dealer was an appropriate sponsor. They tried to negotiate with Carmel to have remove the word “Arms” from his application, but that wasn’t good enough for him. Besides, he says, he’s selling legal products.

“I want to be able to sponsor and have people understand firearms and get some business from it. Obviously, profit is not a dirty word. I don’t know that I will get a lot of business from it. But I want to advocate and agitate for the 2nd amendment,” Carmel told Fox News. . . .

Labels: ,

Book Review by Roger Lott on Replacing income tax with sales tax

Roger's review starts of this way:

James Madison once said, "It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood." The great Founding Father's words aptly describe the problem we have today with an arcane 67,500-page federal income tax code.

We need a simplified tax system that treats everyone by the same basic set of rules. Ken Hoagland, national communications director for Americans for Fair Taxation, may have the answer in "The FairTax Solution." The idea is simple: Replace all federal income taxes, including those on investments and capital gains, with a flat consumption tax on new goods and services.

Most of us dread April 15, but Mr. Hoag- land says that if the FairTax is enacted, it'll be just any other spring day. No more saving receipts all year, only to find that you need to scramble to find missing ones. No more lousy 1040s or W-2s. Instead, when you purchase a new good or a service, 23 percent of its price will go to the federal government. . . .

Labels: ,

Democratic pollsters warning Democrats

Pollster Mark Penn warns Democrats not to pass the partisan Health Care bill.

. . . Reconciliation has been used before to pass major legislation. Proponents of this approach are fond of pointing to the passage of welfare reform, COBRA, and Bush's '01 and '03 tax cuts as evidence that the Democrats are fully inside the lines. For the administration, the most crucial difference between those bills and this is not their urgency, partisan nature, or even particularly their impact on the deficit; for Obama and his team, the most critical variant is that those bills were popular with the public. In 1996, 68% of Americans favored welfare reform. In 2000, before Bush's $1.3 trillion tax cut was introduced (by the notably bipartisan duo of Senators Phil Gramm and Zell Miller,) 63% of Americans thought they were paying too much income tax; by the spring of 2001, after a month of legislative wrangling, 56% favored Bush's proposed cuts. In 2003, with the Iraq war railing in the background and a post-9/11 economy flailing at home, 52% supported the second round of cuts. Not a huge margin, perhaps, but still a majority.

A February CNN poll puts voter support for the current bill (or a similar variant thereof) at just 25%. An equal percentage thinks Congress should forget health care reform altogether, while 48% think they should start work on an entirely new bill. Of more concern to any Democrat with an eye on reelection, Independents remain unmoved by the arguments in reform's favor, with only 18% supporting it and 52% calling for an entirely new bill.

I went back to look at some of the big Democratic fights of the past -- Medicare and Civil Rights -- both of which had long, multi-year histories and were eventually fostered amid the kind of bare-knuckle wrangling we're seeing today. The AMA opposed Medicare but a Gallup poll from January of '65 shows it had 63% support when passed. And while most opposed Civil Rights legislation when Kennedy proposed it, polling from the period shows 60% of the public favored the legislation once Johnson got it passed.

In every one of these contentious national debates, public support was solidified as a pre-condition to final passage. There simply is no shortcut or parliamentary maneuver around that process. The public is uncomfortable with the current bill and this is likely to be a Dirty Harry moment for the Republican party as they dare Democrats to "make their day." . . .

Labels: , , ,


Did ABC stage news report on Toyota?

It will be interesting to see ABC's explanation for the pulled video and why the new video doesn't seem to fit what was originally claimed.

Toyota Motor Corp. on Monday criticized ABC News, saying a recent report it ran on sudden acceleration used video showing an engine revving in a parked Toyota vehicle, not a car that was being driven on a road.

The car maker raised questions about the ABC video as part of a Webcast intended to rebut critics who have alleged electronics problems could be causing Toyota vehicles to accelerate suddenly on their own.

"An engine responds very differently in park than when it is being driven and is under load," said Matthew Schwall, an engineer at Exponent Inc., a consulting firm Toyota has hired to evaluate its electronics and the charges of its critics.

In the Webcast, Mr. Schwall showed still frames from ABC's broadcast showing a Toyota Avalon's instrument panel, with certain warning lights illuminated that are on when a car is in park.

Toyota said in its Webcast that ABC subsequently pulled this video from its Web site and replaced it with a modified one where the engine tachometer never reaches close to the 6,500 revolutions per minute shown in the original version.

An ABC spokeswoman said the network had no comment on Toyota's presentation and added it was preparing its own story about it. . . .


Home schooling German family gets asylum in US

Apparently the Obama administration is appealing this decision.

In America, another fascinating home-education tussle has been going on. Uwe and Hannelore Romeike have been granted asylum because, they say, they face persecution in Germany for home-educating their children (they have been fined and say they feared losing custody of their five offspring, who are aged between 2 and 12). The judge in their case agreed, saying not only that there was a "well-founded fear of persecution," due to their educational philosophies, but also that that the German policy was "utterly repellent to everything we believe as Americans." . . .

The Romeikes told Time magazinethat it was their "fundamental right to decide how we want to teach our children." Uwe Romeike is an evangelical Christian (yes, this is relevant) and he added that their main objection involved what was being taught in the classroom. "The curriculum goes against our Christian values," he said "German schools use textbooks that force inappropriate subject matter onto young children and tell stories with characters that promote profanity and disrespect. . . .


Federal pay for same jobs 13 percent above private sector, of course this doesn't account for the fact that they don't work as hard

From Dennis Cauchon at USA Today:

Federal employees earn higher average salaries than private-sector workers in more than eight out of 10 occupations, a USA TODAY analysis of federal data finds.
Accountants, nurses, chemists, surveyors, cooks, clerks and janitors are among the wide range of jobs that get paid more on average in the federal government than in the private sector.

Overall, federal workers earned an average salary of $67,691 in 2008 for occupations that exist both in government and the private sector, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. The average pay for the same mix of jobs in the private sector was $60,046 in 2008, the most recent data available.

These salary figures do not include the value of health, pension and other benefits, which averaged $40,785 per federal employee in 2008 vs. $9,882 per private worker, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Federal pay has become a hot political issue in recent months because of concerns over the federal budget deficit and recession-battered wages in the private sector. . . .


So where does Obama's March 18th deadline for the government health takeover come from?

So we have a deadline for rushing through something as important as health care reform because the president has to go traveling abroad? Is this a serious reason for a deadline to quickly pass such a bill?

Barack Obama has given Democrats a March 18 deadline for the House to pass the Senate version of a healthcare reform bill before he leaves on a trip to Asia, leading to a frenzy of arm-twisting and vote tallying on Capitol Hill. . . .

From an interview with Georgia congressman Congressman Phil Gingrey:

He also said President Obama's reform effort, which he has pushed almost relentlessly in recent weeks, will lose momentum when he embarks March 18 on a official trip to Indonesia, Guam and Australia.

"He's so heck bent and determined to run off to Indonesia, Guam and all of those places to improve our image across the world," Mr. Gingrey said.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters he thinks the House is on schedule to approve the landmark legislation by March 18, when the president leaves for an Asian trip, and he can sign it into law "shortly thereafter," according to the Associated Press.

Labels: ,


Criminals painting orange tips on real guns to try confusing the police

I haven't verified this nor have I determined how frequent it is:

a considerable amount of the criminal element are now painting the tips of their ‘Real Weapons’ with an orange tip. It’s easy to understand their reasoning. Once again, Law Enforcement find themselves in a deeper hole. Ironically, if this criminal who has no criminal record and is allowed to own this weapon in the first place, there is no law preventing him from painting the tip of his real gun orange in the attempt to make it appear as a toy. . . .


Stimulus as welfare?

Why not? I guess that the point of the stimulus was wealth redistribution so why not distribute the money based on the race of the recipients?

Latinos and blacks have faced obstacles to winning government contracts long before the stimulus. They own 6.8 and 5.2 percent of all businesses, respectively, according to census figures. Yet Latino-owned business have received only 1.7 percent of $46 billion in federal stimulus contracts recorded in U.S. government data, and black-owned businesses have received just 1.1 percent.
That pot of money is just a small fraction of the $862 billion economic stimulus law. Billions more have been given to states, which have used the money to award contracts of their own.
Although states record minority status when they award contracts to businesses, there is no central, consistent or public compilation of that data, according to Laura Barrett, director of the Transportation Equity Network. She and other minority advocates are calling for complete and publicly accessible demographic information on all contracts and jobs financed by the stimulus. . . .