Black Republicans seem certain to get elected to congress this year

Tim Scott seems certain to win in South Carolina in November. Scott is one guy that I really like if just from reading this quote:

"My dad was gone by the time I was seven," the black candidate for the House of Representatives told a mixed group of students at Fort Dorchester High School in North Charleston. "I was flunking out of high school. I failed geography, civics, Spanish and English. When you fail Spanish and English, you are not bilingual, you are bi-ignorant."

But the conclusions that Scott, 45, drew were very different from those of Obama. When he was 15, a man who ran a Chick-fil-A fast-food restaurant taught him "that there was a way to think my way out of the worst conditions". Scott went on to became a small businessman and a proud "conservative Republican." . . . .

There are two other great candidates:

Scott will be the first black Republican congressman from the Deep South in more than a century. Republicans hope to elect at least two other black candidates to Congress next month. Allen West, in Florida, and Ryan Frazier in Colorado, both with distinguished military records, are in very close races against Democrats. . . .


Daily Kos and Google Searches

The Daily Kos has figured out how to get voters reading the most negative stories about Republican candidates in closest 98 congressional races. They are going to drive up the rankings of negative stories about the candidates so that voters doing research on who to vote for will see the negative stories. As of 3 PM on Saturday, Daily Kos readers identified actual or possibly acceptable negative news articles about the Republican candidates that meant their requirements that they could up the Google rankings. Here is a nice synopsis of what they are planning on doing.
“…as a group, we need to find and choose the damaging articles on Republican candidates that we want undecided voters to read. It is only after finding the articles that we can push them up search engine rankings. As such, finding those articles is the main purpose of this diary. (We are targeting House campaigns since Senate campaigns are so much more difficult to influence, due to their extensive media coverage."

Next they want participants to do their own searches and find the most damaging articles they can with these stipulations:

Title damaging in and of itself. Not many people who see the article will actually click through and read it.
Name of candidate in title. In addition to a catchy title, it is key that the name of the candidate appear in the title itself.
...Find negative articles from as high profile a news organization as possible. When high profile can’t be found, then local news outlets will do just fine. Whatever you find, make sure said news organization is at least ostensibly claims to be non-partisan.
...Already has a high Google ranking. Increasing the visibility of the article will be a lot easier if the article already has a decent Google ranking. For our purposes, top 100 is OK, and top 50 is good. Something already in the top 20, or even the top 10, would be awesome. (Note: make sure you sign out of Google before conducting keyword searches on the candidate’s full name to test the Google ranking of the article).
Name of candidate in URL. The SEO effort will be greatly enhanced if the name of the candidate appears in the URL of the article.
Keep it short... Keep it recent…

Once the participant finds good (for their purposes) articles they are to send it to the folks at the daily Kos, who will publish the list for all the participants to publish, tweet, Facebook etc.

“That’s it. Once we get the articles we can start working to push them up search engine rankings. We need to launch the campaign early next week, so let’s gather these articles as quickly as we can.”

Google appears to have more directly been involved in manipulating the political debate in the past. They have been accused in the past of "purging Conservative news sites." Al Gore has been a Senior Advisor to Google.
Now Gore and MoveOn are, if not joined at the hip, at least extremely simpatico. Gore also sits on the board of Google. Its $600 a share stock has made him so rich he could fund his own presidential campaign with one check.

Why do you think Google has denied Republican Collins ad space to fight back against MoveOn, which is trying to put her out of business?

Google says her ad against MoveOn violates some policy or other and they have to tell her no. Translation: It's Al Gore's Google in this situation and Al Gore is more interested in MoveOn getting its anti-Bush, anti-war message out there than helping a Republican fight the Soros MoveOn machine to hold onto to her Senate seat.

MoveOn has been a very, very Clinton-centric organization, of course. But do you think maybe, just maybe, MoveOn might be interested in the candidacy of the environmental saint Al Gore if she should stumble? . . .

The amazing thing is that the Daily Kos is so open about this. I can't find any statement by Google responding to this. In any case, here is a copy of the Daily Kos discussion just in case they ever decide to remove the post (click on pictures to make them larger).

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500 pages of rules on teachers being able to touch students in the UK?

The UK is getting a little bit of sanity.

“At the moment if you want to become au fait with what this department thinks on how to keep order in class you have to read the equivalent of War And Peace,” he said.
“There is about 500 pages of guidance on discipline and another 500 pages on bullying. We will clarify and shrink that.
“Teachers worry that if they assert a degree of discipline, one determined maverick pupil will say, ’I know my rights’ and so teachers become reticent about asserting themselves,” he said in an interview with today’s Guardian. . . .

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Another book review of my son Roger

Roger's newest book review in the Washington Times starts this way:

In "The Right to Earn a Living," Timothy Sandefur, a lawyer and adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, argues that the government has no business infringing on economic activities unless it has compelling health or safety reasons for doing so. Mr. Sandefur shows that when the government does have to explain its anti-competitive regulations in court, the justifications it provides tend to be nothing short of absurd. . . .

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NRA gives endorsements to pro-gun Democrats

The NRA has been giving endorsements to both Republicans and Democrats this election. The ratio in the House races is by about 3-to-1. Republicans are grumbling that the Democrat endorsements that the NRA is making are in precisely those races where there endorsements will make the most difference. Would the NRA rather have Speaker Pelosi or the Republicans in charge of the House? Anyway, here is the line up of endorsements:

US Senate:
23 Republicans
2 Democrats

US House:
197 Republicans
61 Democrats

19 Republicans
3 Democrats

Lt. Gov:
9 Republicans
2 Democrats

14 Republicans
6 Democrats

State Senate:
509 Republicans
143 Democrats

State House:
1916 Republicans
588 Democrats

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Secretary of Defense Robert Gates Says that Obama's New National Security Adviser is a "disaster"

Jake Tapper has this dirt on what is the direction Obama's foreign policy is going to take (at least that is my take on what he writes). Gen. Jim Jones and Robert Gates were brought in to alleviate people's concerns about the radicals in Obama's administration. Now those guys will soon be gone and there is no one similar to take their place.

A defense source tells ABC News that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates no longer feels that Tom Donilon would be a “disaster” as National Security Adviser, as Gates is quoted telling National Security Adviser Gen. Jim Jones (ret.) in Bob Woodward’s “Obama’s Wars.”

“They had some issues during the Af/Pak review, which everyone knows got contentious at times,” the defense source says. “But since then, they have addressed and overcome those issues and now enjoy a good working relationship.”

Throughout the Af/Pak review in 2009, Donilon, a former vice president for embattled mortgage giant Fannie Mae, had heated disagreements with Gates. In Jan. 2010, Gates praised Jones to The Washington Post’s David Ignatius, calling him “the glue that holds the team together.”

Reports Woodward: “Gates did this in part, he told an aide, because he did not think Donilon would work out as Jones’s successor. Gates felt that Donilon did not understand the military or treat its senior leadership with sufficient respect. The secretary later told Jones that Donilon would be a ‘disaster’ as Obama’s national security adviser.” . . .


So you thought that President Obama wanted to get rid of waste and fraud in the health care system?

This is a pretty amazing interview with Mort Zuckerman, a Democrat. They are discussing the offer from IBM's Chairman and CEO Samuel Palmisano to use its expertise to root out fraud in the health care system. IBM offered to do this work for free.


Senator Harry Reid's son disowns Obamacare that his dad pushed through the Senate

Rory Reid (D), candidate for Nevada governor, says that Obamacare could cause Medicaid rates to go up substantially. Harry Reid's own son says that Obamacare has a real potential of increasing costs. Possibly this should be used as an ad against Harry Reid in his Senate race.

"The law that was passed gives time for the new system to go into effect, but there is potential for it to put significant pressure on states because Medicaid rates could go up significantly."

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Indian givers?: "FBI demand GPS bug back from tracked US student"

There have been past stories about whether the government can attach GPS devices to people's cars without a warrant. Now in this story the FBI wants one of their tracking devices back.

Afifi unsurprisingly gave them the tracker, though he believes they’d been following him for some time. One of the FBI agents apparently intimated they knew which restaurants he and his girlfriend had been frequenting, as well as complimenting him on his recent change in employment.

“We have all the information we needed,” were their parting words, “you don’t need to call your lawyer. Don’t worry, you’re boring.” However, the ACLU plan to use the case to challenge recent rulings that allow law enforcement to place tracking devices without requiring a warrant.


Dems are caught putting up another fake Tea Party Candidate

Why isn't there more media coverage of Democrats doing this? Here is some previous notes on this.

On a balmy evening last May, about three dozen members of the South Jersey Young Democrats convened at the Camden County Democratic Committee Headquarters in Cherry Hill.

Freeholder Jeffrey Nash warned the assembled crowd of party volunteers and legislative aides that the sour economy would make the coming election season difficult for the Democratic majority.

He told the young activists they had to get out the vote for Democrats in the fall.

Then Steve Ayscue -- a paid CCDC consultant -- took the floor with a bearded, flame-haired man few had seen before. The latter was Geoff Mackler, dispatched from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to lead freshman Rep. John Adler's re-election campaign.

Ayscue and Mackler had a plan to ensure Adler's victory. They just needed volunteers.

Internal numbers-crunching showed the difference between Adler and his Republican opponent -- then undetermined -- would hover around 5 percent. To give Adler an edge, Ayscue had recruited a then-unidentified man to run as a third-party candidate.

That candidate would act as a conservative spoiler to confuse voters and pull votes from Adler's eventual Republican challenger. But first he had to get on the ballot. With the filing deadline just weeks away, CCDC needed volunteers to hit the streets and collect signatures -- fast. . . .

Now candidate Jon Runyan has issued a statement on the false Tea Party candidate in his race.

A fake Tea Party Candidate in Nevada might hold the margin between Angle and Reid. See also this.

There is another example in Florida:

GOP congressional candidate Bruce O’Donoghue is intensifying his campaign to brand the Florida Tea Party as a front group for Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.)

In an interview with POLITICO Thursday, O’Donoghue called the Florida Tea Party a “sham,” alleging that the organization was coordinating with Grayson and fielding a third party candidate, conservative activist Peg Dunmire, in an effort to split the Republican vote in the November general election.

“The issue at hand is there seems to be a real connection with Alan Grayson,” said O’Donoghue. “There’s something going on.”

O’Donoghue echoed his comments at an Orlando news conference earlier in the day, where he appeared with local tea party activists Diana Evans, Lisa Ferloi, Ron McCoy, and Linda O'Keefe to decry the Florida Tea Party’s presence in the race.

O’Donoghue’s charges come three days after the Orlando Sentinel published a report detailing alleged ties between the Florida Tea Party and Grayson. The story noted that Doug Guetzloe, a Florida Tea Party co-founder and Orlando political consultant and radio talk show host, had at one point been appointed by Grayson to serve on an advisory panel and that Guetzloe’s son had once interned for Grayson. . . .

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Another imperfect law

Kind of a basic oversight in the Stimulus law. Apparently a lot of money has been given out to people who shouldn't have gotten it, but the law is written in such a way as the government can't get this money back.

The [Social Security Administration] says that the stimulus package didn’t include a provision allowing it to try to retrieve funds that were mistakenly sent out, so it can’t try to retrieve the rest of the money. Money transferred electronically may be sitting untouched in bank accounts of dead people. . . .

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New Fox News piece: Despite White House Spin, Obama Believes Government Should Run Our Economy

This is how my newest Fox News piece starts off:

The White House is in full spin mode trying to convince Americans that President Obama doesn't hate business. The president claims: "it's very hard to find evidence of anything that we've done that is designed to squash business as opposed to promote business." His administration's economists were out in force at the end of last week trying to argue that Obama was actually pro-business. The impression here matters because Americans see how incredibly slow this "recovery" and they intrinsically understand how eliminating incentives will stop growth.

President Obama may hope Americans will forget that he called Wall Street executives "fat cats," bondholders "speculators," and accused doctors who zealously test patients of being "driven from a business mentality." But he has made these attacks too often. Voters can too easily recall him regularly blaming private companies rather than the government for the financial crisis. Indeed, the only blame he gives to the federal government is that there wasn't enough regulation.

Businesses remember the outrageous and factually inaccurate attacks on companies. For instance, Obama pretended that firms and industries are more monopolistic than they are to justify government intervention. And who can forget him lashing out against doctors numerous times accusing them of preferring to amputate a foot rather than "treated [diabetes] as effectively as it could" because they can earn more money (here and here).

The problem comes down to how Obama thinks the market operates. . . .

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How to do your best to make sure that banks won't lend out money

Does anyone understand how counterproductive this policy is? If you make these loans riskier, fewer loans will be given out and the interest rate will rise. See a related earlier discussion here.

President Obama will not sign into law a bill that would allow foreclosure documents to be accepted among multiple states, the White House said Thursday, arguing that it will make it easier to foreclose on homes.

But supporters of the legislation say the technical fix does nothing to accelerate the chance homeowners will face foreclosures, and the president doesn't even have the authority to "pocket veto" the legislation.

A "pocket veto" is a tactic that allows the president to not sign legislation while Congress is out of session, forcing it to go back to Capitol Hill. Supporters of the bill say the president can'teven use the measure because technically the Senate is not adjourned.

The bill had been criticized by consumer advocates and state officials who said it would make it difficult for homeowners to challenge foreclosure documents prepared in other states.

White House chief spokesman Robert Gibbs said Thursday that officials across the country had raised concerns about "unintended consequences" from the bill. The administration would work with Congress to revise it, he said. . . .

NPR has a leftwing defense of the veto here. What opponents see as the ability to mass produce documents is actually efficiency.

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Gallup Survey shows increases in Unemployment

The official unemployment rate numbers are from a survey done for the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Gallup has produced its own survey that shows that things are getting much worse than the official numbers indicate.

Friday's Unemployment Rate Report Likely to Understate

The government's final unemployment report before the midterm elections is based on job market conditions around mid-September. Gallup's modeling of the unemployment rate is consistent with Tuesday's ADP report of a decline of 39,000 private-sector jobs, and indicates that the government's national unemployment rate in September will be in the 9.6% to 9.8% range. This is based on Gallup's mid-September measurements and the continuing decline Gallup is seeing in the U.S. workforce during 2010.

However, Gallup's monitoring of job market conditions suggests that there was a sharp increase in the unemployment rate during the last couple of weeks of September. It could be that the anticipated slowdown of the overall economy has potential employers even more cautious about hiring. Some of the increase could also be seasonal or temporary. . . .

Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking Sept. 1-30, 2010, with a random sample of 18,146 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, selected using random-digit-dial sampling.

One must also not forget that but 250,000 of those "saved or created" jobs in 37 states from the Stimulus just disappeared on October 1.

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Federal Government Moves to Prevent For-Profit Schools from Getting Student Aid

The Department of Education is moving to stop Student Aid to For-profit schools. Is it surprising that students going to for-profit schools have more debt? Public institutions get much more of a subsidy from taxpayers that allow them to pay less in tuition. The question is what is the total cost when one looks at the subsidies in other forms to public universities.

A recent study completed for the Florida legislature concluded that for-profit institutions were more expensive for taxpayers on a per-student basis due to their high prices and large subsidies. . . .
Unlike public or private nonprofit institutions, for-profit institutions are legally obligated to make profitability for shareholders the overriding objective. Furthermore, for- profit institutions may be subject to less oversight by States and other entities.
There are reasons for concern that some students attending for-profit institutions have not been well served. Student loan debt is higher among graduates of for-profit institutions. For example, the median debt of a graduate of a two-year for-profit institution is $14,000, while most students at community colleges have no student loan debt. There are 18 title IV, HEA loan defaults for every 100 graduates of for-profit institutions, compared to only 5 title IV, HEA loan defaults for every 100 graduates of public institutions. Investigations and news reports have also produced anecdotal evidence of low-quality programs that leave students with large debts and poor prospects for employment. Despite these concerns, these institutions and suspect programs have never been required to substantiate their claim that they meet the statutory requirement of preparing students for ‘‘gainful employment.’’ . . .
The number of institutions with very low loan repayment rates, particularly in the for-profit sector, is alarmingly high. . . .
For certificate recipients, less than 2 percent at public institutions and 11 percent at for-profit institutions have debt of $20,000 or more. . . .
The proposed regulations would lessen the potential for these negative consequences by ensuring that programs subject to the gainful employment standards actually produce students with sufficient incomes (relative to their debt) to make their debt payments. . . .

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Selective health care waivers given out by government

These 30 companies are getting a one year pardon. Just one year? Does anyone think that they will keep getting this exemption for ever? There are a lot more companies that are going to find themselves in a bind than just these 30 ones. Also, why does the story concentrate on private companies when the biggest waiver is given to unions?

Nearly a million workers won't get a consumer protection in the U.S. health reform law meant to cap insurance costs because the government exempted their employers.

Thirty companies and organizations, including McDonald's (MCD) and Jack in the Box (JACK), won't be required to raise the minimum annual benefit included in low-cost health plans, which are often used to cover part-time or low-wage employees.

The Department of Health and Human Services, which provided a list of exemptions, said it granted waivers in late September so workers with such plans wouldn't lose coverage from employers who might choose instead to drop health insurance altogether.

Without waivers, companies would have had to provide a minimum of $750,000 in coverage next year, increasing to $1.25 million in 2012, $2 million in 2013 and unlimited in 2014. . . .

The biggest single waiver, for 351,000 people, was for the United Federation of Teachers Welfare Fund, a New York union providing coverage for city teachers. The waivers are effective for a year and were granted to insurance plans and companies that showed that employee premiums would rise or that workers would lose coverage without them, Santillo says.



Divorce rates higher for people in jobs that help people or touches them

This makes some sense. Jobs that involve helping others or touching them facilitate emotional relationships with someone other than your spouse.

If your spouse helps people or touches them for a living, be careful -- you might be headed for a divorce. Helping professions and hospitality workers have some of the highest divorce rates in the country, according to a comparison of divorce rates among occupations.
The conventional wisdom is that police officers have high divorce rates. But a year-old analysis of the top 15 jobs with the highest divorce rate that recently made the rounds of the Internet doesn't even list police officers among the worst offenders. Based on data from the 2000 U.S. Census, it found that law enforcement workers had a lower divorce rate than the general population.
Before we try to explain why some of these jobs might have high divorce rates, here are the top 15 professions and their divorce rates . . .


White House blocked science panel report on "Worst-case Oil Spill Estimate"

Not that I ever believed that this administration was science based, but it is interesting to see the difference in media reaction to claims that the Bush and Obama administrations put the kibosh on some sort of science report. The Obama actions did get some coverage, but not on the national evening news reports.

The White House blocked efforts by federal scientists to tell the public just how bad the Gulf oil spill could have been, according to a panel appointed by President Obama to investigate the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

In documents released Wednesday, the national oil spill commission's staff reveals that in late April or early May the White House budget office denied a request from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to make public the worst-case discharge from the blown-out well. The Unified Command — the government team in charge of the spill response — also was discussing the possibility of making the numbers public, the report says, citing interviews with government officials.

The White House didn't not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.

But Jerry Miller, head of the White House science office's ocean subcommittee, told The Associated Press in an interview at a St. Petersburg, Fla., conference on the oil's flow that he didn't think the budget office censored NOAA. . . .

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Austan Goolsbee has some explaining to do

Back on August 27th, Austan Goolsbee made this statement during an on-the-record background briefing on corporate taxes:
So in this country we have partnerships, we have S corps, we have LLCs, we have a series of entities that do not pay corporate income tax. Some of which are really giant firms, you know Koch Industries is a multibillion dollar businesses. . . .
The White House claims that this is publicly available information, but they can't point to where in the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board report that the information is available.
Mark Holden of Koch tells TWS that the White House's response leaves a number of questions unanswered. "My primary concern is, Why does our name keep coming up, why do they single us out?" says Holden. "They don’t respond to that. That leads me to believe that it is part of a campaign against us because of our political views."

The White House official's claim that "No senior administration officials have any access to anyone's tax returns" is less than an absolute denial of wrongdoing. Is it possible that a junior administration official had access to Koch's tax information and relayed it to a senior administration official? We don't know for sure. White House press officials still refuse to respond to requests for comment from THE WEEKLY STANDARD.

Holden also expresses doubt that the administration official based his claim merely on publicly available information. "The White House’s statement doesn’t cite anything particular or specific" on Koch's tax status in the PERAB report. "And what we’ve seen in the publicly available documents thus far, we have not seen anything referring to us and our corporate tax payment issues.... Even if [experts who testified to PERAB] did address that issue, it wouldn’t make that information publicly available necessarily."
Politico has an email from the WH pointing to "testimony before the the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board (PERAB) and from Koch's own website," but neither source pans out.

So it is publicly available information, but the White House can't point to exactly where this data was available. Now today the WH says that Goolsbee "misspoke," but it seems like a bit of stretch to explain that he just happened to accidentally guess how much taxes Koch Industries had actually paid. I have asked the WH about both of these points, but I have received no response back.

This isn't the first time that Goolsbee has done the political dirty work for Obama (see also here).

Now an investigation is going to take place:
Obama’s press office wouldn’t say which of the PERAB’s witnesses made the claim — or why he would alert reporters to a potentially embarrassing detail about a company run by Obama’s political rivals.

In a letter released Wednesday and first obtained by the Weekly Standard, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George informed Grassley he had “ordered the commencement of a review into the matters alleged.”
Obama and the Democrats have long disliked the political activities of libertarian billionaires Charles and David Koch.
In an August 9 speech, President Obama singled out Americans for Prosperity, a free-market political group founded by David Koch in 2004. In the wake of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, Obama said:
Right now all around this country there are groups with harmless-sounding names like Americans for Prosperity, who are running millions of dollars of ads against Democratic candidates all across the country. And they don't have to say who exactly the Americans for Prosperity are. You don't know if it’s a foreign-controlled corporation. You don't know if it’s a big oil company, or a big bank. You don't know if it’s a insurance company that wants to see some of the provisions in health reform repealed because it’s good for their bottom line, even if it’s not good for the American people.
Unfortunately, Mr. Goolsbee's actions aren't the only ones involving the IRS in politics. Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) wants to use the IRS to investigate whether Crossroads GPS (Karl Rove's group) and Americans for Job Security are violating any tax rules. Dana Perino reports at Fox News that one of the big unions were called and told not to worry they weren't going to be one of the organizations investigated.

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"Goldman Sachs Says U.S. Economy May Be `Fairly Bad'"

So much for predictions that the economy will improve. During recoveries aren't unemployment rates supposed to fall?

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said the U.S. economy is likely to be “fairly bad” or “very bad” over the next six to nine months.

“We see two main scenarios,” analysts led by Jan Hatzius, the New York-based chief U.S. economist at the company, wrote in an e-mail to clients. “A fairly bad one in which the economy grows at a 1 1/2 percent to 2 percent rate through the middle of next year and the unemployment rate rises moderately to 10 percent, and a very bad one in which the economy returns to an outright recession.”

The Federal Reserve will probably move to spur growth as soon as its next meeting on Nov. 2-3, Hatzius said. Expectations for central bank action have already led to lower interest rates, higher stock prices and a weaker dollar, according to Goldman, one of the 18 primary dealers that are required to bid at government debt sales.

Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and his fellow policy makers are debating whether to increase Treasury purchases to spur the U.S. economy by keeping borrowing costs low. U.S. five-year yields dropped to a record 1.1755 percent today amid signs the recovery is losing momentum.

The “fairly bad” outlook for slow growth and rising unemployment without a recession will probably be the one that occurs, the e-mail said. . . .

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Remembering some things that Democrats have said over the last few years

An older video on a more serious note:


Bizarre 10-10 ads on cutting carbon emissions

No discussion about the costs versus the benefits. No attempt to mention that global warming might likely be better for animal life. No attempt to mention that eliminating all man-made carbon emissions will have a trivial impact on total green house gases and that there are huge costs to even small percentage reductions in man-made emissions. The girl whose family is going to ride bicycles rather than take the car might be told that cars are actually very efficient these days compared to people and that she will be producing carbon dioxide as she rides her bike. Bizarre and self-destructive seems the best way to describe this movement.


Mitt Romney won't back away from Massachusett's health care law

Does Romney still not understand the problems with central planning of health care?

So far, anyway, Romney is showing no signs of backing down. His message is the same today as it was in March, when there was still hope that voters would warm up to the Obama legislation once it passed. Romney blasts the federal law as a takeover of health care, while defending the 2005 Massachusetts version. He argues the two are as different as night and day, despite their common and most reviled feature, the mandate on individuals to purchase insurance. . . .

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D.C.'s online voting experiment fails miserably

I am not very surprised that this type of computer system can be hacked.

Last week, the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics opened a new Internet-based voting system for a weeklong test period, inviting computer experts from all corners to prod its vulnerabilities in the spirit of "give it your best shot." Well, the hackers gave it their best shot -- and midday Friday, the trial period was suspended, with the board citing "usability issues brought to our attention."

Here's one of those issues: After casting a vote, according to test observers, the Web site played "Hail to the Victors" -- the University of Michigan fight song.

"The integrity of the system had been violated," said Paul Stenbjorn, the board's chief technology officer.

Stenbjorn said a Michigan professor whom the board has been working with on the project had "unleashed his students" during the test period, and one succeeded in infiltrating the system.

The fight song is a symptom of deeper vulnerabilities, says Jeremy Epstein, a computer scientist working with the Common Cause good-government nonprofit on online voting issues. "In order to do that, they had to be able to change anything they wanted on the Web site," Epstein said. . . .


How a Democrat thinks jobs are create: Government, Government, Government

Does it matter each of Blumenthal's "solutions," such as preventing the closing of plants, actually deter the creation of jobs in the long run?

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One reason that banks aren't lending to many whom they used to lend to, regulations

Previously regulation forced banks to make loans that they didn't want to make, now they probably can't make may loans that they would want to make.

Tighter regulatory requirements are compelling giant investment banks in the U.S. and Europe to tone down their risk-taking and shift to more staid strategies. Now hot on Wall Street: trading securities for clients, processing trades, exchanging currency, managing assets and advising clients on deals and financing.

The latest example of this new pressure came Monday, when a Swiss bank panel recommended that the country's banks be forced to raise their capital cushion against risky assets by a higher margin than standards issued last month by a global bank-reform group. Analysts say U.S. regulators could take similar steps as they implement the Basel III Accord.

Adding to the urgency to adopt plain-vanilla strategies: a recent slowdown in the volume of U.S. stock trading, traditionally a big source of revenue. If this shift continues, analysts say, it will pinch profits but also lead to less risk for the financial system.

Investor presentations by top bank executives in London last week, combined with increasingly dour projections for the third quarter that ended Thursday, are crystallizing the challenges banks face.

"The business models on the Street are going through dramatic changes," says Clayton Rose, professor of management practice at Harvard Business School, based on the most drastic shifts in the "political, regulatory, and economic environment since the 1930s in the financial industry." . . .

Isn't it ironic to see this story about the UK also today in the WSJ?

Osborne also directed his comments to the financial world, saying that if banks don't lend, the government wouldn't allow them to allocate "unimpeded bonuses." . . .

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So these were some of the "created" jobs?

What was the point of these jobs? About the only thing that these jobs did was keep people from getting more useful jobs. Shouldn't these "jobs" for adults simply have been classified as "unemployment insurance"? This is part of the chaos generated in the labor market created by the stimulus that I have written about. People take these temporary "jobs" and then have to go back in and look for new jobs all over again. For the Democrats at least the timing of when this program ends assures that it won't show up in the unemployment numbers until after the election.

Tens of thousands of low-income workers lost their jobs Thursday as a stimulus-subsidized employment program came to an end.

About a quarter of a million people in 37 states were placed in short-term jobs thanks to a $5 billion boost to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. States used about $1 billion to provide subsidized employment, with the remaining funds going to cash grants, food programs, housing assistance and other aid.

About half the jobs were summer employment for youth and the rest were for disadvantaged parents. Each state configured its initiative differently. Some covered all the workers' wages for a few months, while others paid for a portion of their salary.

With the program expiring, many of the adults have been told not to report to work anymore. And it won't be easy for them to find a new position at time when the unemployment rate continues to hover at 9.6%

"They are just joining the millions of other people looking for permanent work," said Elizabeth Lower-Basch, senior policy analyst at the Center for Law and Social Policy, an advocacy group known as CLASP.

The TANF jobs initiative was one of several stimulus initiatives that ended Thursday. Also running out are a $2 billion subsidized child care program and a $2.1 billion boost for Head Start, an early learning program for needy children. . . .

The UK has at least learned what happens with these very long unemployment benefits. This will do more than a lot of things to reduce the UK's unemployment rate, though it could go even much farther.

U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne Monday announced a major shake-up of the welfare system saying there will be an absolute cap on the amount of benefits any one family can receive.

Speaking at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham, Osborne vowed to put an end to what he called the "open-ended chequebook" of welfare benefits.

He said money will still go to families in need, but that no one family could receive benefits worth more than the average family wage.

Osborne also said he would end child-benefits welfare payments for wealthier families.

From 2013 the policy change will affect families with someone earning more than about GBP44,000 a year, he said. . . .

"We have to sort out public finances because any other road leads to ruin," he said.

A delay in tackling the deficit--as the opposition Labour Party proposes--would cripple the recovery and lead to a "decade lost to debt," he said. . . .


Philippine Judges want to be Armed after Attack

I am not sure what the problem is with judges' images. If the police can't obviously protect them, I am not sure what the alternative is. Intimidating judges is a very serious problem.

Motorcycle-riding gunmen killed a regional trial court judge in the northern Philippines on Monday, prompting calls to exempt judges from a current gun ban.
Judge Reynaldo Lacasandile was waiting for a ride to go to work when one of two men on a motorcycle shot him twice with a pistol in Vigan province's Tagudin township. He died while being brought to a hospital, police said, adding the attack could be work-related.
It was the second fatal attack on a judge this year. A judge was shot to death in northern Cagayan province last May. Two other justices survived separate grenade and bomb attacks in April.
The Philippine Judges Association condemned Lacasandile's killing and asked the police to track down and punish the gunmen. It said judges facing threats should be exempted by the Commission on Elections from a gun ban ahead of nationwide village elections on Oct. 25.
While some judges facing threats should be allowed to bear arms, Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona said he opposes the wholesale arming of judges.
"It's not good for the judiciary's image if all our judges will go around with .45 pistols or M16 rifles," Corona told reporters. . . .

Thanks to Gus Cotey for the link.

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Government comes to the rescue, well, sort of

Anti-smoking laws aren't an invasion of property or privacy? The Cincinnati Reds win the National League Central division and then, gasp, the owner gives out cigars to his players and some of them start puffing away.

Reds celebration cigars spark health probe
(AFP) – 2 days ago
CINCINNATI, Ohio — City health officials will inspect the home ballpark and locker room of the Cincinnati Reds after complaints that players violated an indoor smoking ban by puffing on cigars in a celebration.
Television scenes of the Reds in the locker room showed the smokers after their National League Central division title-clinching 3-2 home victory Tuesday over Houston and five complaints were made to a state telephone hotline.
State law requires the complaints over a violation of Ohio's smoking ban be followed up with an investigation within 30 days, although Cincinnati Health Department spokesman Rocky Merz said any action from the probe is unlikely.
The Reds reached the Major League Baseball playoffs for the first time since 1995 and will begin their post-season title quest next week. . . .


Americans don't like the government's Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan

Well, this is one way to reduce government spending. Put out government give aways that virtually no one wants to take advantage of. Might the pre-existing condition problem have been greatly exaggerated? I think that there is another reason that this is failing. People are going to wait until they are really sick before they get this insurance. This wasn't how the new program was supposed to work:

It's a centerpiece of President Obama's health care remake, a lifeline available right now to vulnerable people whose medical problems have made them uninsurable.

But the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan started this summer isn't living up to expectations. Enrollment lags in many parts of the country. People who could benefit may not be able to afford the premiums. Some state officials who run their own "high-risk pools" have pointed out potential problems.

"The federal risk pool has definitely provided critical access, in some cases lifesaving access, to health insurance," said Amie Goldman, chair of a national association of state high-risk insurance pools. "That said, enrollment so far is lower than we would have expected."

California, which has money for about 20,000 people, has received fewer than 450 applications, according to a state official. The program in Texas had enrolled about 200 by early September, an official in that state said. Goldman, who runs the pool in Wisconsin, said they've received fewer than 300 applications so far, with room for about 8,000 people in the program. . . .

Government economists projected as recently as April that 375,000 people would gain coverage this year, and they questioned whether $5 billion allocated to the program would be enough.

Federal officials won't provide enrollment figures, saying several large states have yet to get going. . . .

The AP points to some potential problems (not mentioning what I point out above).

A barrier may include requirements that people be uninsured for at least six months and that people provide documentation that they've been turned down by an insurer. "There are many people who don't meet the criteria for the federal pool, particularly the six months without coverage," said Goldman. . . .

So does this mean that few people are uninsured for very long? Where have we heard that argument before? The claims about the number of uninsured rarely point out that many uninsured are just temporarily uninsured and that even then they are probably still covered even if they don't know it (most people don't seem to realize that they are still covered by their previous health insurance for a month after they leave the job).

This is how the program was sold by sympathetic media:

A new nationwide insurance program designed to help people who’ve been turned down for health insurance because they have preexisting health conditions such as cancer, acne, diabetes or back pain got off the ground Thursday. Now or soon to be accepting applications: New high-risk pools in 29 states and Washington D.C., and the federal government’s Preexisting Condition Insurance Plan, which serves the remaining 21 states that chose not to offer their own programs. The coverage is a major transitional protection carved out in the health-reform law for people whose medical problems have caused them to be uninsured for at least six months. . . .

The Obama administration unveiled on Thursday a new website, www.healthcare.gov, where people who’ve been turned down for health coverage can go to find new options until the health-reform law’s major provisions take effect in 2014. . . . .

Applicants deemed eligible for the Preexisting Condition Insurance Plan may see their new coverage start as soon as Aug. 1. The program is open to U.S. citizens and legal residents who’ve been uninsured for at least six months due to a medical problem. . . . .


Some evidence on how high permit fees impact who gets permits

John Tedesco with the San Antonio Express-News and Brandi Grissom and Matt Stiles with the Tribune have this very interesting article on the cost of getting a concealed handgun permit in Texas.

But like many of his neighbors on the low-income South Side, Hartsfield hasn't applied for a gun permit, which costs $140 for the license fee and $100 or more for the 10-hour instruction class. . . .

But in a pattern that's playing out in San Antonio and other major cities in Texas, residents in low-income neighborhoods aren't taking advantage of the concealed-carry law as often as residents living in wealthier, more conservative areas.

The pattern surprises some gun owners, who wonder why more law-abiding citizens aren't applying for concealed handgun licenses in the inner city, where rates of violent crimes are higher. . . . .

The Texas Tribune version of the story has much more detailed information here.

This is the point that I have been trying to make with my research for years. Higher permit fees and the costs of getting training not only reduce the number of permit holders, but they also make it so those who benefit the most from permits don't get them. Both of those reasons work to reduce the benefit from right-to-carry laws.

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Americans still up set about GM bailout

Rasmussen shows that people may be more angry over the bailout now than a year ago.

Think the auto bailouts are still unpopular? Fifty-four percent (54%) of Americans say they are less likely to buy a General Motors car because the federal government is the automaker’s majority owner.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just nine percent (9%) say they are more likely to buy a GM car for that reason, while 33% say the government’s majority stake in the company has no impact on their purchasing decisions. (To see survey question wording, click here).
Twenty-seven percent (27%) say they or someone they know has avoided buying a GM car because of the bailout and government takeover. Fifty-three percent (53%) say that’s not true for them, but another 21% are not sure.
A year ago, 17% favored a boycott of GM products. . . .

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Greta van Susteren nails Gloria Allred

Greta nails Allred, making Allred look like a political opportunist. A copy of the interview is available here.

van Susteren: Gloria, I got to get -- you know I like you, Gloria, but I think this is absolutely unthinkable! Let me tell you what you've done. Three things. One, you're getting your client deported by putting a big neon sign, Hey, I'm here illegally, I signed documents falsely, and I've done that under penalty of perjury, saying that I was -- that this is my Social Security number. That's the first thing.

The second thing is, is I think your inferences from this document, this Social Security document -- I think you got it all wrong. I actually think it helps Meg Whitman and her husband because I think that's the more reasonable inference and you'd get barbecued if you took it to court. And finally, on the eve of an election, to raise something like this, which has the possibility of smearing unfairly, calling someone a liar and subverting the electoral process.

So all three things -- and you know I like you, but I think all three things are rotten. So go ahead. Respond. . . .

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