9/04/2010

Who is most likely to destroy Social Security and Medicare?

Democrats cut $500 billion from Medicare and it is Republicans who are going to destroy it? With the huge deficits created by Democrats, that will be what threatens Social Security the most. If the deficits were still around $160 billion per year as they were the last year that the Republicans controlled both the Congress and the presidency, there would be much less of a threat to Social Security. I am hardly a fan of keeping Social Security or Medicare as they currently are, but it seems that the huge deficits that Democrats have created are what really endangers Social Security.

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Americans are upset that Obama is giving money to Wall Street and bailing out unions, how will they react to Obama bailing out an Afghan bank?

Bailing out Afghan banks? Why can't the Afghan government do this?

The planned injection of cash into the beleaguered Kabul Bank is meant to slow the run on the bank by its customers, who have withdrawn more than $200 million in the past few days amid fears of a wider economic collapse.

But on Saturday, thousands of nervous Afghan depositors, unaware of the bailout and unconvinced of the bank’s solvency, stormed the bank’s central branch in Kabul to withdraw their savings.

Hundreds of men pushed and shoved their way to the front, while others waited behind them for hours in the saunalike atmosphere of the lobby, making it impossible to discern where the lines ended and began. Furious customers shouted angry complaints. An elderly woman in a black dress cried out in distress.

But the teller drawers were largely empty and most customers left empty-handed. “What should I give you when I have nothing to give?” a teller told one agitated customer. . . .

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Replacing lower marginal tax rates with a tax system that micromanages what companies do

Apparently, Obama will reveal his new proposal on Monday. These guys don't understand why firms have a better idea where to invest their money than governments do.

With the job market stuck in neutral, the Obama administration is moving toward using the revenue from expiring tax cuts for the wealthy to finance about $35 billion of tax cuts for small businesses and workers, administration and congressional officials said Friday. . . .


If goal is to improve economic efficiency, tax cuts should not distort business decisions across time or between different activities. To accomplish this cuts should be permanent rather than temporary, and if the deadweight losses are to be minimized, the highest marginal rates should be cut (since these are the most distorting). Should also cut capital income taxes since capital is more responsive to tax rates than labor.
When considering these points, the temporary payroll-tax holiday is not especially appealing. It might shift new hires to the present, but at a cost of reduced hiring when the holiday expires. This future offset can also occur with a temporary investment tax credit, but the new capital is durable.
Instead of a temporary extension of the research and development tax credit, a permanent cut would be more efficient. Better yet would be a lower tax rates on investment across the board, so government is not encouraging some kinds of investments over others.

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More Democrat dirty tricks?

As previously noted, Democrats have been posing as Tea Party members to get people on the ballot to take votes away from Republicans (see also this). Their effort to do something similar in Michigan has failed.

A shadowy group calling itself "The Tea Party" won't be allowed on the state's November ballot after a Friday order from the Michigan Supreme Court.
The high court's 5-2 vote lets stand a ruling earlier this week from the Michigan Court of Appeals that keeps "The Tea Party" off the ballot because it didn't comply with some technical requirements in state law.
Republicans and tea party activists consider "The Tea Party" a Democrat-supported fake aimed at siphoning away votes from conservative candidates. The effort has connections to a former Oakland County Democratic Party official.
The appeals court ruled earlier this week "The Tea Party" could not be on the ballot because of an irregularity on its petitions circulated to make the ballot. The word "the" in "The Tea Party" title was not in 24-point bold face type on its petitions as required by law. . . .
A message was left seeking comment after Friday's ruling with Michael Hodge, an attorney representing "The Tea Party." . . .
Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Marilyn Kelly and Justice Diane Hathaway, both nominated by Democrats, would have granted "The Tea Party" request to appeal and further contest the case.
The majority was formed by three Republican-nominated justices and two Democratic-nominated justices, including Alton Thomas Davis, who was appointed to the Supreme Court by Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm last week.

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How to remove combat forces from Iraq: Change the name to non-combat brigades

"Combat brigades in Iraq under different name"

As the final convoy of the Army’s 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, based at Fort Lewis, Wash., entered Kuwait early Thursday, a different Stryker brigade remained in Iraq.

Soldiers from the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team of the 25th Infantry Division are deployed in Iraq as members of an Advise and Assist Brigade, the Army’s designation for brigades selected to conduct security force assistance.

So while the “last full U.S. combat brigade” have left Iraq, just under 50,000 soldiers from specially trained heavy, infantry and Stryker brigades will stay, as well as two combat aviation brigades.

Compared with the 49,000 soldiers in Iraq, there are close to 67,000 in Afghanistan and another 9,700 in Kuwait, according to the latest Army chart on global commitments dated Aug. 17. Under an agreement with the Iraqi government, all U.S. troops must be out of Iraq by Dec. 31, 2011. . . . .

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Vanity Fair Reporter writes false claim about Palin even though he had been told that the claim was false

From the Associated Press:

Reporter Michael Joseph Gross describes Palin's youngest son, Trig, being pushed in a stroller by his older sister, Piper, before a rally in May in the Kansas City suburb of Independence.
"When the girl, Piper Palin, turns around, she sees her parents thronged by admirers, and the crowd rolling toward her and the baby, her brother Trig, born with Down syndrome in 2008," according to the article. "Sarah Palin and her husband, Todd, bend down and give a moment to the children; a woman, perhaps a nanny, whisks the boy away; and Todd hands Sarah her speech and walks her to the stage."
Later, Gross describes Piper joining her mother on the stage to "allow Palin to make a public display of maternal affection."
The problem, which was first reported by the website Politico, was that the boy the reporter described was another child with Down syndrome.
The mother of that child, conservative activist Gina Loudon, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that she told Gross during the rally that the child in the stroller was her son, not Palin's. She said she tried to make it clear because the two children look a lot alike.
"I told him that. And he ignored it," Loudon said. "It's not even like he didn't fact check — he just ignored facts."
Gross said in a written statement sent to The Associated Press that he was mistaken.
"Trig was with his mother the next day in Wichita (Kan.), but the child in Independence was someone else, and I regret the error," he said. . . .

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Sharpton explains that why a state senate district should be represented by a Black

Washington Times on the Obama administration blocking the sale of semi-automatic guns

Media this coming week

Tuesday at 9:30 AM EDT I will be on Fox News' Strategy Room. We will discuss my pieces "Obama Is Repeating the Mistakes of the 1937 Economic Collapse" and "More Bad Economic News, Yet Here Comes ANOTHER Wall Street Bailout."

Tuesday at 3:35 PM EDT I will be on Lou Dobb's radio show to talk about my piece on Obama and illegal immigration.

On Wednesday morning at 1:10 to 2 AM EDT/ 10:10 to 11 PM PDT, I will again be on Coast to Coast AM with George. Always a fun show to be on.

Talking to Brian Sussman on KSFO on FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, at 11:15AM Eastern time.

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Get ready for the battle over the third stimulus

It looks like Obama in moving towards a third stimulus package. Of course, the Obama administration doesn't want to count the $26 billion jobs bill as a stimulus.

Obama dismissed a reporter who asked if he regrets calling the past months the “summer of recovery.” “I don’t regret the notion that we are moving forward because of the steps that we’ve taken,” he said. “We are moving in the right direction. We just have to speed it up.”


It is getting tiring hearing that the economy would have been worse if it weren't for the stimulus. If we only had spent more money, things would have been fine they claim. Few discuss the theory for why the stimulus would increase unemployment. So what is in store this next week?

The few things that might pass Congress — such as a payroll tax holiday or extended research-and-development tax credits — won’t work, or at least not before November’s midterm elections, when Democrats face potentially devastating losses.

And the few things that might work — such as an aggressive new infrastructure spending bill — can’t pass, uniformly viewed as politically impossible at a time of trillion-dollar-plus deficits.

What to do? If you’re President Barack Obama, you go out and talk about the economy — in Milwaukee on Monday, Cleveland on Wednesday and at a White House news conference Friday. He’s expected to propose some new business tax breaks next week, including possibly a payroll tax break and R&D credits, but the White House said no final decisions have been made. . . . .


Of course, the Obama people don't even want to call this new bill a second stimulus.

The White House press office on Thursday refused to say how much a financial package might be, other than to say it won’t be a “second stimulus.” But the administration will have a tough time selling nearly any package to terrified, Obama-phobic Hill Democrats who increasingly blame the president – and his ambitious, expensive legislative agenda – for their dismal prospects this November. . . . .

The R-and-D tax cut, which Congressional Democrats have already considered would, for example, be paid for by closing overseas corporate loopholes. . . . .


Even NPR sorta gets it:

This was supposed to be the season the economy heated up, thanks to a wave of public works projects, funded by the government's stimulus program. But summer is coming to an end, and the recovery has not taken root. (The Labor Department on Friday reported a slight rise in the unemployment rate to 9.6 percent in August as more people were looking for work.)

And before long, stimulus dollars will be fading like autumn leaves.

None of that is encouraging for President Obama, who launched the summer with a crew in hard hats in Columbus, Ohio, on June 18.

"Today, I return to Columbus to mark a milestone on the road to recovery: the 10,000th project launched under the Recovery Act," Obama said, announcing a $15 million effort to widen a roadway and add bike lanes.

Recovery summer was partly designed to recover the reputation of the government's $787 billion stimulus program. While many economists believe that program has worked to boost employment, the public is unimpressed. Advisers say by front-loading the stimulus with tax cuts and aid to states, they were able to get the money out quickly, but at the expense of visibility. . . .


A new Fox News poll indicates that Americans have little confidence that Obama's new plan will work any better. I wish that these polls would give several options on the impact of the stimulus. Right now they just as if the stimulus helped or not, but not whether it did harm.

The latest Fox News poll shows that out of eleven concerns, the greatest one is the nation’s economy, with nearly all voters either extremely (46 percent) or very (47 percent) concerned.

Unemployment is a nearly equal concern (43 percent extremely and 49 percent very).

In addition, more than 9 in 10 voters are concerned about “the future of the country” (43 percent extremely and 48 percent very concerned).

Fewer voters -- though still sizable numbers -- are as worried about their own personal economic situation. The poll finds that 37 percent of voters are extremely (19 percent) or very worried (18 percent) about losing their job. However, two-thirds are concerned about being able to pay their bills (32 extremely and 34 percent very). . . .

When asked whether the Obama administration has made the economy better or worse, 47 percent feel the economy is worse because of the administration’s efforts while 36 percent say the economy is better.

Not surprisingly, Democrats (63 percent) are more likely than Republicans (8 percent) to say the Obama administration has made the economy better. Slightly more independents feel Obama has made the economy worse than better (43 percent compared to 37 percent).

A majority -- 57 percent -- think the $800 billion dollar economic stimulus plan hasn’t worked. Just over one in three -- 37 percent -- think it has helped the economy.

There has been some discussion whether the stimulus was large enough to give the economy the boost it needed. Still, just 24 percent would favor another stimulus plan. Most -- 70 percent -- oppose a second stimulus. That includes 52 percent of Democrats, 73 percent of independents and 87 percent of Republicans.

With the economic recovery seemingly stalled, only 32 percent of voters are confident the Obama administration can handle the economy. Nearly twice as many -- 61 percent -- are concerned about the administration’s ability to deal with the situation. Political independents, the key swing group in most elections, are much more likely to be concerned (64 percent) than confident (24 percent). . . .

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Homeowner "turned the tables on his intruder"

From Atlanta, Georgia on September 3:

Detectives in Atlanta said the victim of a home invasion turned the tables on his intruder.
Police said the homeowner shot and killed a man who was inside his home on Abner Place in northwest Atlanta just before midnight Thursday.
A neighbor told Channel 2 Action News reporter Darryn Moore at the scene that the person who was killed may have been the same person who had been seen casing the neighborhood earlier in the week.
Police said they got a call about a shooting at the home and arrived to find one man shot in the chest.
“Most likely the individual that was that was shot and killed was the person committing the home invasion,” said Lt. Paul Guerrecci of the Atlanta Police Department.
Detectives searched around the home looking for evidence and making sure the homeowner’s version of what happened is legitimate. Officials also searched a white pickup truck that was parked in front of the victim’s home.
“The homeowner indicated that he doesn’t know what the truck is doing here. We’ll attempt to find out if that truck is involved,” said Guerrecci. . . . .

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9/03/2010

Taxpayers likely to lose money on the GM IPO

The government will apparently own part of GM for three more years. These guys don't seem to understand how prices work. The current price is the future expected price of the stock. The government might hope that future stock prices will rise, but they are losing money on the current sale and that means that future prices will have to rise by enough to make up those losses. As to the claim that the Obama administration is selling off the stock as quickly as possible, that is false. If they wanted to, they would sell it off all at once. Doing that would also help the stock price as political meddling with business decisions is surely helping to depress the stock.

The U.S. government is likely to take a loss on General Motors Co [GM.UL] in the first offering of the automaker's stock, six people familiar with preparations for the landmark IPO said.

Subsequent offerings of the government's holdings may be profitable depending on how investors trade the newly listed stock, the sources said.

But the question of whether taxpayers are ultimately made whole on GM's $50 billion bailout could be left open for years, the people said.

It could take more than three years for the Treasury to sell down its remaining stake in GM after the IPO, one person said. That would push a final accounting into the next presidential term. . . .

The Obama administration has pledged to exit its investment in GM as quickly as possible while holding out the prospect that taxpayers could ultimately be paid back in full. . . .

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How is violence against women defined?

The story in this article of a man almost driven to ruin by his ex-wife abusing these violence against women statutes is pretty disturbing. What is almost hard to believe is that violence against women is defined in terms such as "getting annoyed," “withholding information from the victim,” and even “disregarding what the victim wants.”

The Violence Against Women Act, passed during the first term of the Clinton administration, includes a definition of domestic violence that is so wide you could drive a Mack truck through it.

States picked up on the loophole, and now most states include within their definitions of abuse, actions like making your partner “annoyed” or “distressed.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) likewise followed suit. The CDC’s Uniform Definitions and Recommended Data Elements declares that partner violence includes “getting annoyed if the victim disagrees,” “withholding information from the victim,” and even “disregarding what the victim wants.” . . . No proof of violence is necessary. . . .

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An amazing discussion of the Beck rally in DC

This article here is definitely worth reading.

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Oregon Democrat Senator Wyden backing away from Obamacare?

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Newest piece at Fox News: What Milton Friedman Knew about the 1937-38 Collapse

I might have picked a title like: "What Milton Friedman Knew about the 1937-38 Collapse." But, in any case, my newest piece starts of this way.

Does the 1937-38 economic collapse, the so-called "depression within the Depression" offer any lessons on what we should do now? In 1937, it seemed that things were improving, some light was seen in the Great Depression, but unemployment suddenly jumped from 14.3 percent in June 1937 to 19 percent in June 1938. With the unemployment rate stuck at 9.6 percent, the Obama administration is planning to unveil what would be its third stimulus package. Supporters are pointing to the late 1930s to justify yet another increase government spending.

Today Keynesians are out in full force defending the massive $1.3 plus trillion deficit that we have run since Obama became president, warning that cutting it would lead to a scenario similar to what we saw in the late 30s.

Economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, has this to say in The Times earlier this summer, declaring that those opposing more government spending were pointing us towards disaster: "It raises memories of 1937, when F.D.R.’s premature attempt to balance the budget helped plunge a recovering economy back into severe recession."

Last Saturday, Yale’s self-described "New Deal economist" Robert Shiller made the same point in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, attacking the "concern about the national debt" and advocating more government spending.

Both men point out that the federal deficit declined from $2 billion in 1937 (in inflation adjusted dollars, about $30.3 billion today) to a near balanced budget in 1938. . . .


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New Fox News piece: Obama Is Repeating the Mistakes of the 1937 Economic Collapse

My newest piece at Fox News starts this way:

Does the 1937-38 economic collapse, the so-called "depression within the Depression" offer any lessons on what we should do now? In 1937, it seemed that things were improving, some light was seen in the Great Depression, but unemployment suddenly jumped from 14.3 percent in June 1937 to 19 percent in June 1938. With the unemployment rate stuck at 9.6 percent, the Obama administration is planning to unveil what would be its third stimulus package. Supporters are pointing to the late 1930s to justify yet another increase government spending.

Today Keynesians are out in full force defending the massive $1.3 plus trillion deficit that we have run since Obama became president, warning that cutting it would lead to a scenario similar to what we saw in the late 30s.

Economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, has this to say in The Times earlier this summer, declaring that those opposing more government spending were pointing us towards disaster: "It raises memories of 1937, when F.D.R.’s premature attempt to balance the budget helped plunge a recovering economy back into severe recession." . . .

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"Former Car Czar Rattner Rats on Obama"

For those who believed politics was involved in the decisions in the car industry, it appears that Mr. Rattner's new book will provide a lot of information. So much for Obama's promise not to let politics interfere with how the companies were run. Bold added by me to the discussion below.

-When Obama was told of the plan to pay GM CEO Rick Wagoner a $7.1 million severance package after Obama ordered that he be sacked, Rattner writes: "Suddenly I felt that I was indeed in the presence of a community organizer..."

-Rattner describes presidential political adviser David Axelrod coming to car meetings armed with poll data to support the takeover and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel identify Congressmen in whose districts large Chrysler facilities were located.

-"[Obama's economic team] veered dangerously close to having the government take control of the two most troubled banks, Bank of America and Citigroup."

-"If his team had linked arms with the outgoing administration, as President Bush's advisers had proposed, billions of dollars could well have been saved."

-Rattner says Chief of Staff Rahm Emanual dictated Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner's schedule, public appearances and staff selections.

-He says Obama economic advisers Larry Summers and Austan Goolsbee and FDIC Chair Sheila Bair as enemies who slowed down decision making with infighting

-Rattner said Obama was frustrated with the auto companies from the start: "Why can't they make a Corolla?" he has Obama asking.

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Obama moves for third stimulus

I know that they only think of this as the second stimulus bill. After all the recently signed $26 billion spending bill was just a "jobs" bill and this stimulus really is about something different than jobs, right? OK, I am just confused. This is also a jobs bill, but the previous jobs bill was not a stimulus bill.

The Obama administration is mulling a raft of emergency fixes to stimulate the economy before the midterms, including an extension of the research and development tax credit and new infrastructure spending, according to several people familiar with the situation.

Administration officials have been huddling almost continuously during the past week, brainstorming for ideas that would boost employment without hiking the massive federal deficit – with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner rushing to the West Wing for further consultations late Thursday.

The White House press office on Thursday refused to say how much a financial package might be, other than to say it won’t be a “second stimulus.” But the administration will have a tough time selling nearly any package to terrified, Obama-phobic Hill Democrats who increasingly blame the president – and his ambitious, expensive legislative agenda – for their dismal prospects this November.

The meetings, which had Obama huddling with his economic advisers twice in the last seven days, have yielded no specific proposals. But he’s given the team a priority: find ways to pay for as many of the ideas, mostly tax breaks, as possible without a deficit increase, an administration official told POLITICO.

The R-and-D tax cut, which Congressional Democrats have already considered would, for example, be paid for by closing overseas corporate loopholes.

But party leaders were dubious that even a modest, targeted spending bill could pass muster at the height of an anti-tax, anti-deficit, Tea Party-fueled Republican resurgence. . . . .

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Newest piece at Fox News: President Obama, You're Not Fooling All of Us On Immigration

My newest piece starts this way:

President Obama thinks that by recently signing a new bill spending $600 million to beef up border enforcement he will look tough on illegal aliens. But decisions such as today’s lawsuit by the Justice Department against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio to stop his policies regarding illegal aliens shows where the administration’s policies are really headed.

The bill Obama signed, which authorizes the hiring 1,500 new border personnel, the deployment of a pair of unmanned reconnaissance drones, and replacing some bases along the border is valuable, but it hardly undoes what the president has done up to this point. With a recent Rasmussen poll showing that 68 percent of U.S. voters support a plan to continue building a fence on the Mexican border, Obama's change strikes one as a temporary smoke screen.

Up until now the president has worked to cut the number of border agents. 384 border agents were cut last October 1st and in the 2011 fiscal year budget Obama proposed cutting another 180 agents through attrition.

But it isn't just his record of previously reducing the number of border agents. . . .

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Proof on gender discrimination on the job

A large and significant salary difference exists between unmarried men and women in their 20s. I hope that the government will do what is necessary to quickly eliminate this horrid discrimination. This wage differential can obviously only exist due to discrimination.

Single, childless women in their twenties are finding success in the city: They're out-earning their male counterparts in the USA's biggest metropolitan areas.
Women ages 22 to 30 with no husband and no kids earn a median $27,000 a year, 8% more than comparable men in the top 366 metropolitan areas, according to 2008 U.S. Census Bureau data crunched by the New York research firm Reach Advisors and released Wednesday. The women out-earn men in 39 of the 50 biggest cities and match them in another eight. The disparity is greatest in Atlanta, where young, childless single women earn 21% more than male counterparts.
The shift in earnings power started showing up in a few big cities a few years ago and has become widespread. It isn't true for all women in their 20s working full time — overall, they earn 90% of what all men in their 20s make — just for those who don't marry or have kids.
Education is the key: "Young women are going to college in droves," Reach Advisors reports. "Nearly three-quarters of girls who graduate from high school head to college, vs. two-thirds of the boys. But they don't stop there. Women are now 1.5 times more likely than men to graduate from college or earn advanced degrees." Armed with degrees, young women command higher salaries. . . .

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9/02/2010

The twenty most popular conservative websites for August

Death by 1000 paper cuts has put this together.

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Auto sales fall from July, worst August since 1983

More evidence that the economy is getting worse.

The nation's top automakers reported disappointing sales Wednesday, resulting in the worst August for industrywide auto sales in 27 years.

According to sales tracker Autodata, U.S. new vehicle sales fell just short of 1 million vehicles, a drop of 21% from a year ago, which included Cash for Clunkers. That federal program created a sugar rush of sales by dangling an incentive of up to $4,500 in cash for buyers who traded in older gas guzzlers for more efficient models.

Industry sales also fell 5% from July levels. August sales typically outpace July, as deals become available on older models ahead of the fall introduction of new model year cars. August sales would equate to an annual sales pace of about 11.5 million vehicles.

"Car buying is far from repaired, and consumers hesitate before they make a big ticket purchase," said Jesse Toprak, an analyst with the auto pricing Web site Truecar.com. "It shows that the recovery is going to be much slower and more painful than expected."

This year was the weakest August sales total since the 993,100 sold in 1983. Analysts had been forecasting a weak month, with expected sales of about 1.03 million. Most of the major automakers fell short of estimates. The soft demand for autos is seen by economists as another sign of growing weakness among nervous consumers. . . . .

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9/01/2010

So will the general media cover that the person who attacked the Discovery Channel with bombs and gun was inspired by Al Gore?

This connection with Al Gore is getting some news coverage, but not a lot.

James Jay Lee wasn't a stranger to the Discovery Channel employees he terrorized Wednesday with a gun and with what appeared to be makeshift bombs strapped to his chest and back.

Lee, a 43-year-old California man with a seemingly religious fervor for his environmental causes, had a history of targeting the channel for its programming, most notably in a 2008 protest in front of the channel's Silver Spring, Md., headquarters, where 1,900 employees work. On that day, the protest included tossing wads of cash in the air, and it ended in his arrest. . . .

Lee said he started his crusade after being laid off from a job in San Diego. He also appears to have been inspired by books by the environmental novelist Daniel Quinn, notably Quinn's "Ishmael." He singled out pages of that novel in his manifesto, saying that Discovery should create programming based on its message. He said he also was inspired by Al Gore's documentary "An Inconvenient Truth." . . .


Here is a Google news search that I did at 10:45 PM today.


The incident as a whole has gotten a lot more coverage.


It will be interesting to see if this imbalance is corrected over time.

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Philadelphia harasses and jails concealed carry permit holders

Philadelphia makes it difficult for people to get permits and then those who have gotten concealed permits legally have been arrested and harassed by Philadelphia police. They took guns from security guards and locked them up in custody for up to 18 hours. This raises questions about whether Philadelphia should be classified as a right to carry city.

In the last two years, Philadelphia police have confiscated guns from at least nine men - including four security guards - who were carrying them legally, and only one of the guns has been returned, according to interviews with the men.

Eight of the men said that they were detained by police - two for 18 hours each. Two were hospitalized for diabetic issues while in custody, one of whom was handcuffed to a bed. Charges were filed against three of the men, only to be withdrawn by the District Attorney's Office.

The civil-rights unit of the City Solicitor's Office confirmed that it is handling eight such cases. Two of the men interviewed by the Daily News said that they rejected settlement offers from the city ranging from $3,500 to $7,500. One accepted a $5,000 offer.

Most of the cases hinge on what local authorities call the "Florida loophole," under which a Pennsylvania resident can obtain a nonresident permit to carry a concealed weapon through the mail from another state, even without a permit in Pennsylvania.

The "loophole" is unpopular with Philadelphia cops, who say that it allows those denied a permit here or whose permits were revoked to circumvent Philadelphia authorities and obtain it elsewhere.

But proponents say that it's necessary because Philadelphia has unusually strict criteria for obtaining a concealed-carry permit. Philadelphia, according to police and gun owners, relies heavily on a clause that allows denial of a permit based on "character and reputation" alone.

The men interviewed by the Daily News had varying reasons for seeking nonresident permits from Florida or other states, including having been denied a Philadelphia permit because of unpaid parking tickets. Some said that they carry a Florida permit because it is recognized by more states than a Pennsylvania one. . . .

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Canada's gun registry didn't make Canadians safer

Lorne Gunter has this piece in the National Post:

The key factor to consider when determining the fate of the federal long-gun registry is whether or not it prevents crime. That was its initial objective. That is how Jean Chretien's Liberal government justified the nearly $2-billion that has been spent on the project and a bureaucracy that continues to consume between $87-million (RCMP estimate) and $106-million (Canadian Taxpayers Federation estimate) annually.

If the registry prevents murders and cuts down on other gun crimes such as robberies and armed drug deals, then there might be a case for keeping it -- might. Otherwise, there is no justification for the way it makes criminals of law-abiding gun owners.

In fact, on the crime-prevention front, the registry has been an abject failure. . . . .

In a study on the effectiveness of the registry, released Tuesday, the RCMP argued that the registry has had a positive effect on suicides committed with guns. To which I say: So what? The key number we should be looking at is suicides, not suicides performed through this or that method.

The overall number of suicides in Canada has not subsided since the advent of the registry. Each year, between 3,500 and 3,800 Canadians end their own lives. There are fewer now killing themselves with guns, true, but more doing so with rope, pills, gas and cars. . . .

Interesting, too, is a chart on page 23 of the new RCMP report that compares total U.S. homicides (all weapons and methods) with total Canadian homicides. Since 1991, the U.S. murder rate has fallen by over 40%, the Canadian rate by less than a third.

Since both rates involve far more than just firearms-related homicides, it's impossible to say definitively whether gun control has had any impact. However, it is interesting that while we have been wasting years on the registry, the Americans, with no registry, have seen a much larger drop in murders. . . . .

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Listing Research by Criminologists and Economists on Right to Carry Laws

Clicking on the picture will make it bigger. This is from Chapter 10 of More Guns, Less Crime (University of Chicago Press, third edition, 2010).


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Dems micro-managing small businesses

Krauthammer has this to say about the Small Business Jobs Bill:

Charles Krauthammer: "First of all, it's about targeting tax cuts. This is how liberals operate. You raise the rates across the board and then the government will deign to return some of the money on a targeted tax cut, meaning if you do exactly as they say. Which means, for example, if they favor, say, high-tech investment and they'll give you a cut in capital gains, and you have a business in which you don't need that, but you need to spend on marketing, the government thinks it knows how to redirect your capital in a superior way. It's a classic liberal way to operate whereas Republicans want lower rates across the board and eliminate the targeting of tax cuts as you had in the '86 tax bill, the Reagan-Bradley bill."

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Some examples of the impact of gun bans on murder rates

So what happened to murder rates in island nations? These figures are from the third edition of More Guns, Less Crime from the University of Chicago Press (2010). Click to make the figures larger. The numbers for the UK are available here in Table 1.01.

Other inform for Ireland and Jamaica.


How about for DC and Chicago?
The raw data for DC over a long period of time is available here (the crime rates are available on the bottom half of the screen).

Does it look like murder rates fell in any of these places after a ban was enacted?

Here is some other information that might be useful on the two places available here and here.

The International Crime Victimization survey also provides some interesting comparisons on overall violent crime rates across countries.  To roughly get the violent crime totals add robbery, sexual incidents, and assaults.

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Obama's Kids are Off-limits to press except for the personal information that the Obamas give the media

A little bit of a double standard here.

Barack and Michelle Obama put their girls off-limits to the news media after they moved to the White House, saying they wanted to keep their daughters' lives as normal as possible. But tidbits about the private doings of the youngest children to live in the White House since the Kennedy family do dribble out. Often they come from a surprising source: Mom and Dad. . . .

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Harry Reid denies ever saying that "This War is Lost"

Small businesses are getting significantly worse

A video on this survey is available here. For those interested in reading the mess that is the "Small Business Jobs Bill" see this.

Both the loans and the tax cuts micro-manage how companies should be run. Take the "bonus depreciation," which provides a 50 percent first year depreciation. Among the lucky assets that are eligible: "Single purpose agricultural (livestock) or horticultural structures," "Storage facilities (except buildings and their structural components) used in connection with distributing petroleum or any primary product of petroleum." "sewage disposal services," and "off-the-self computer software."

What brilliant Obama administration officials and Democratic congressional leaders decided that if you build an agricultural building that does just one purpose, you get a deduction. If it does two or more things, you are out of luck. So a farmer who would have built one building will now build two buildings so that they can get the huge depreciation. What sense does that make? Or that you can quickly write-off certain types of computer software and not others. Why does "sewage disposal services" deserve such special treatment?

The loans are no different. The Obama administration and Democrats are picking what type of firms will get loans and what they can get loans for. "Brick and mortar" operations get a loan "to acquire major fixed assets for expansion or modernization." Why are those particular operations singled out in the CDC/504 loan program? Why can't those loans be used to for marketing? Similarly, if you export certain products, you can get a special loan.

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8/31/2010

The cost of the Iraq War

Fox News has some interesting numbers on the cost of the Iraq War.

According to CBO numbers in its Budget and Economic Outlook published this month, the cost of Operation Iraqi Freedom was $709 billion for military and related activities, including training of Iraqi forces and diplomatic operations. . . .

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The number of "problem banks" keeps climbing



The number of problem banks keeps growing:

The government's list of troubled banks hit its highest level since 1993 during the second quarter, although the pace of growth continued to slow, according to a government report released Tuesday.

The number of banks at risk of failing rose by 53 to 829, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said in its quarterly survey of the nation's banking system. That increase marks the smallest rise since the first quarter of 2009.

However, it's still nearly double the 416 banks that were on the FDIC's watch list a year ago and is up from 775 in the first quarter of this year.

Banks that end up on the problem list are considered the most likely to fail. But few of the lenders on the list actually reach the point of failure. On average, just 13% of banks on the FDIC's problem list have been seized and shuttered by regulators.

So far this year, 118 banks have failed, with 45 closings during the last quarter.

While FDIC chief Sheila Bair said she expects 2010 bank failures to exceed last year's tally of 140, the total amount of assets from this year's failures will likely be lower since banks have been cleaning up their balance sheets. . . .

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$2.6 Million by US Gov to Get Prostitutes in China to Drink Les

I am not sure what could be said about this.

The federal government is spending $2.6 million to make sure prostitutes in China drink less on the job.

That's the goal of a five-year study, bankrolled by the National Institutes of Health, designed to help lower HIV infections among China's "female sex workers," who are referred to in the study as "FSWs."

Researchers will visit 100 houses of ill repute -- a whole hamlet of harlots -- to collect data on 700 prostitutes and 150 pimps and madams, referred to as "gatekeepers" in the study's sterile abstract.

Phase one of the study is intended to research "alcohol use/abuse and related sexual risk among FSWs in China," according to the abstract -- a cold hard look at why prostitutes engage in dangerous sex while drunk. . . .

The project comes thanks to a grant from the NIH's National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, which is also funding a $400,000 study of bars in Buenos Aires to find out why gay men engage in risky sexual behavior while drunk -- and just what can be done about it. . . .


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Democrats just can't help trying to demonize corporate executives

The Financial Times talks about the absurd consequences of Dodd-Frank Financial Regulations bill.

US companies face a “logistical nightmare” from a new rule forcing them to disclose the ratio between their chief executive’s pay package and that of the typical employee, lawyers have warned.

The mandatory disclosure will provide ammunition for activists seeking to target perceived examples of excessive pay and perks. The law taps into public anger at the increasing disparity between the faltering incomes of middle America and the largely recession-proof multimillion-dollar remuneration of the typical corporate chief.

S&P 500 chief executives last year received median pay packages of $7.5m, according to executive compensation research firm Equilar. By comparison, official statistics show the average private sector employee was paid just over $40,000.

Business sees the disclosure provision – buried in section 953(b) of the Dodd-Frank financial reform act – as a bureaucratic headache that may encourage false comparisons.

“We’re not debating the concept of disclosure – we think it’s a good thing,” said Larry Burton, executive director of the Business Roundtable, which represents chief executives of the biggest US companies. “But you can do more harm than good if you take a well-intended piece of policy and implement it badly. That’s the risk here.”

The rules’ complexity means multinationals face a “logistical nightmare” in calculating the ratio, which has to be based on the median annual total compensation for all employees, warned Richard Susko, partner at law firm Cleary Gottlieb. “It’s just not do-able for a large company with tens of thousands of employees worldwide.”

Pay experts said business had been caught off-guard by the measure, which was not one of the high-profile battlegrounds of the Dodd-Frank legislation. Companies are now gearing up to lobby the Securities and Exchange Commission, which has to write detailed provisions for the new rule.

The rule could also reward with a relatively low ratio those companies that outsourced low-paid work rather than keeping jobs in-house, lawyers said. . . .


More on the new rules is here:

Lawyers caution that the formula mandated by the act has some seemingly perverse consequences, in terms of factors that will produce a low ratio – an apparent but potentially misleading sign of a company without excessive executive remuneration.

“It will favour companies that outsource and use independent contractors, and those that use franchised rather than company-owned stores, since these relatively low paid jobs will not count towards the median tally,” says Richard Susko, a partner at law firm Cleary Gottlieb.

Many of the crucial factors affecting the ratio have been left to the discretion of the Securities and Exchange Commission, which has to draw up the regulations to implement the new rule. The act does not specify whether non-US employees need to be included in the total, the treatment of subsidiaries and affiliates, the date on which the pay needs to be calculated each year or the exchange rates to be used. . . .


Also this:

The $1,025,000 median salary of an S&P500 chief executive last year, according to the Equilar analysis, is 25 times the $40,174 that official statistics show was paid to the average US private sector employee. The chief executive’s $7.5m median total pay package, including bonuses and stock options, is 187 times that average private sector pay and some 19 times President Barack Obama’s basic $400,000 salary. . . .

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Is this the new affirmative action?

8/30/2010

Book review of new Third Edition of More Guns, Less Crime in America's First Freedom

Clicking on images will produce a larger picture and make it easier to read text.




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Proxying for People Carrying Concealed Handguns When There Are No Longer Permits

The new law eliminates the requirement for training, but a lot more people are going through training. I think that it shows how seriously people take this obligation to carry concealed handguns.

Firearms have been a hot topic in Arizona in recent months as several laws loosening gun regulations were recently enacted.
And while it is too early to discern whether those laws, particularly SB 1108, which makes it legal for citizens 21 and older to carry a concealed weapon without a permit, will make things more difficult or dangerous from a law enforcement standpoint, Arizona Game and Fish officials said shooting training is on the rise.
Ben Avery Shooting Range, which is on the border of north Peoria and Phoenix and is the largest outdoor range in the Valley and one of the largest in the country. It had perhaps its best statistical year ever in the 2009-2010 fiscal year, said Doug Burt, a public information officer for Arizona Game and Fish.
The range experienced more “shooting days,” which measure the number of individual visits to the range, not the number of different visitors, last fiscal year than any previous year. About 200,000 shooting days were recorded, marking a 5-10 percent increase from the previous fiscal year.
“That’s pretty significant. I know we’ve had some good years the last couple years at Ben Avery. Our shooting program has been growing,” Burt said.
Despite several new laws in Arizona that went into effect July 29, including SB 1108, range officials said they’ve seen little sign of drop-offs in shooting days at Ben Avery.
“Nothing could be further from the truth. We’ve seen an increase in people coming out here,” said Mike Morgan, a shooting instructor and range master with Game and Fish. “You’re still going to have people who realize they need to be knowledgeable. There are a lot of user groups who come and use the facility.” . . .

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Former Chi. Alderman: weapons are so much easier to obtain illegally that the gun laws only make it more cumbersome for citizens to register firearms.

The new Chicago rules make it a time consuming process for even retired police officers to register their handguns.

The city ordinance has also been used to keep guns from citizens who try to register them legally. Gun owners rejected for registration violations have the right to appeal the decision and have an administrative hearing.

In 2009, Niles Sherman’s effort to register a handgun was denied, even though he had been allowed to register the weapon and four others since before the handgun ban went into effect. Mr. Sherman, 81, an alderman of the 21st Ward from 1979 to 1987, is supposed to be exempt from the handgun ban because he had been a Chicago police officer. But last year he was told that the city had no evidence that he was collecting a police pension.

Mr. Sherman said that was because his police pension was wrapped into the pension he got from his time on the City Council. Presented with further documentation, a hearing officer reversed the police department’s decision.

“The whole thing was so much you-know-what,” Mr. Sherman said. “I earned the right to have those guns, I bought them and, last but not least, if need be, I can use them.”

Mr. Sherman said he recently tried to register under the new ordinance, along with 255 others as of mid-August, a police spokesman said, adding that 156 applications have been approved. Mr. Sherman’s was not one of them; he was told he had to undergo a new round of training on a shooting range.

The original intent of the handgun ban was to make it more difficult to get a firearm in Chicago. Now, Mr. Sherman said, weapons are so much easier to obtain illegally that the gun laws only make it more cumbersome for citizens to register firearms.

“Why don’t I just do like these punks on the street have done,” he said, “and put my guns away and pull them out and use them when I want?”

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Israelis and Palestinians battle over the statements in Wikipedia

Just a warning that one should be very careful in trusting Wikipedia on anything controversial.

Influential sections of the Israeli-right and Palestinians are set to clash in the virtual world of Wikipedia, the internet-based free encyclopaedia which depends on contributions by its readers.

Abed A-Nassar, chairman of the Association of Palestinian Journalists, has called on Palestinian institutions to prepare for the conflict, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

Mr. Nassar's call for a "public relations war" follows a report in the newspaper that Israeli settlers had organised a class to train supporters to register and edit Wikipedia pages, so that the "Zionist" viewpoint could be better projected in cyberspace.

The course had been launched in order to sway domestic and international public opinion in favour of the organisers by encouraging Wikipedia contributions in Hebrew and English.

"The idea is not to make Wikipedia rightist but for it to include our point of view," Naftali Bennett, the director of the Yesha Council of Settlements, was quoted as saying.

In 2008, Mr. Bennet had resigned as the chief of staff of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"The Internet is not managed well enough, and Israel's position there is appalling. Take for example the Turkish flotilla [to Gaza]. During the first hours we were nowhere to be found. In those first hours millions of people typed the words Gaza-bound flotilla and read what was written on Wikipedia,"

Mr. Bennet observed. The Yesha Council has announced a prize for the "best Zionist editor", a person who would generate the most "Zionist" changes in Wikipedia over the next four years. The winner would receive a hot-air balloon ride over Israel, Haaretz said. . . .

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8/29/2010

Obama administration condemns Arizona immigration law in its report to UN

This story still doesn't quite describe the Arizona law correctly. If someone is being detained by police or are arrested by police and police suspect that the person is illegal, the police can ask for ID. Police will always ask for ID in this circumstance.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer demanded Friday that a reference to the state's controversial immigration law be removed from a State Department report to the United Nations' human rights commissioner.
The U.S. included its legal challenge to the law on a list of ways the federal government is protecting human rights.
In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Brewer says it is "downright offensive" that a state law would be included in the report, which was drafted as part of a UN review of human rights in all member nations every four years.
"The idea of our own American government submitting the duly enacted laws of a state of the United States to 'review' by the United Nations is internationalism run amok and unconstitutional," Brewer wrote.
Arizona's law generally requires police officer enforcing other laws to investigate the immigration status of people they suspect are illegal immigrants. . . .

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U.S. set to lose its Triple-A rating



Here is a piece by ABC News, though I seriously doubt that investors don't care. I suspect that what we are actually seeing is investor indifference because they already anticipated this.

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"Democrats got 88 percent of 2008 contributions by TV network execs, writers, reporters"

Given the massive news coverage of News Corp's recent donation to the Republican Governor's Association, you might think that this would get some attention:

Senior executives, on-air personalities, producers, reporters, editors, writers and other self-identifying employees of ABC, CBS and NBC contributed more than $1 million to Democratic candidates and campaign committees in 2008, according to an analysis by The Examiner of data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.
The Democratic total of $1,020,816 was given by 1,160 employees of the three major broadcast television networks, with an average contribution of $880.
By contrast, only 193 of the employees contributed to Republican candidates and campaign committees, for a total of $142,863. The average Republican contribution was $744.
Disclosure of the heavily Democratic contributions by influential employees of the three major broadcast networks follows on the heels of controversy last week when it was learned that media baron Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. contributed $1 million to the Republican Governors Association. . . .

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Systematic voter registration fraud in Houston, Texas

Even the top people in this organization appear to be directly involved in personally getting fraudulent voter registration. Well, I guess that we have found who replaced ACORN.

HOUSTON - Harris County Voter Registrar Leo Vasquez announced Tuesday that Houston Votes - a local non-profit organization that recruits voters - turned in more than 5,000 fraudulent voter registration applications.
"The integrity of the voter role of Harris County Texas appears to be under an organized and systematic attack by the group operating under the name Houston Votes," Vasquez said.

Vasquez said some of the problems include multiple applications for the same person, applications for people already registered, incomplete applications, applications from non-U.S. citizens and several from people too young to vote.

"We have evidence indicating violation of the Texas Election Code, falsified documents being submitted to this office and possible violations of federal election laws," said Vasquez.

Houston Votes admits volunteers could have submitted some faulty applications. However, organizers said if any deficiencies occurred, they were not on purpose.

"If someone was signed up fraudulently, whoever did it was terminated," Houston Votes Director Sean Caddle said.

But Vazquez said the problems go right to the organization's top management.

"Volunteer Deputy Sean Caddle has submitted 23 incomplete [applications], 37 pre-existing voters, two underage and numerous duplicate applications," Vazquez said. . . .

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