George Soros hid huge donations to NPR

From John Fund at the WSJ's Political Diary:

. . . At a time of trillion dollar deficits, every Democrat voted to continue funding the network even though the sum total of public radio's budget that comes from government sources amounts to only 10%. Interestingly, seven Republicans voted to support NPR, most of them from tony suburbs of Seattle, Atlanta and New York City where NPR is popular with chablis-and-brie listeners of all parties.

The NPR vote came just hours after the Daily Caller revealed how much NPR gets from key liberal donors, and how much it strives to make sure that isn't well known. In the third tape that video provocateur James O'Keefe made of conversations with top NPR executives, its director of institutional giving revealed that left-wing billionaire George Soros had made significant donations to the organization before his controversial $1.8 million gift last year, which went to support NPR reporting in state capitals.

Ms. Lilley explained to an associate of Mr. O'Keefe's, who was masquerading as a potential donor from a Muslim group, that Mr. Soros had decided he didn't want on-air publicity about his grant. "George Soros and the Open Society Institute gave us $1.8 million, and they have decided not to use on-air credits because of what's happening in Congress (with attacks on NPR)," Ms. Lilley said.

She also noted that Mr. Soros's foundation first contributed to NPR in 2000 and that some of the money went to fund a documentary critical of the death penalty as it's employed in Texas. It aired on October 12, 2000, a day after then-Texas Governor George W. Bush was questioned about the death penalty in a debate with Democratic candidate Al Gore. . . .


My Newest Fox News piece: Why Unions Are Harmful to Workers

My pieces starts off this way:

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has finally won his first battle with public employee unions. But the fight against excessive union rights now moves to Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Tennessee.
Of course, union leaders are upset, with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka recently telling PBS’s "News Hour": “This is about [Gov. Scott Walker] trying to take away the rights of workers to come together to bargain . . . .”
But in fact, Governor Walker’s budget will help the vast majority of workers in the state. Mr. Trumka naturally wants to make it appear that he is fighting for workers generally, but that is not the case. He is just fighting for some workers, but he is hurting other workers -- other union workers who are laid off because the state cannot afford them or other workers who are forced to pay higher taxes.
Unions are harmful because they act as monopolies. . . .

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Democrats indicted for trying to placing fake Tea Party candidates on the ballot

Democrats indicted for trying to put fake Tea Party candidates on the Michigan ballot.

The indictment alleges that the pair attempted to place two county commission candidates, Aaron W. Tyler and Ruth Ann Spearman, and a state senate candidate, Johnathan M. Young, on the ballot without the candidates' knowledge. The two men forged the signatures on the affidavit of identity and falsely swore under oath to qualify them to run, the indictment says. . . .

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Inaccurate claims about Obama's views on guns

The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne seems to actually believe the Obama administration's claim that he has helped gun rights (see here). Yet, it almost seems as if many on the left attack Obama simply to make him appear more moderate than he actually is. What set Dionne off was President Obama's claim this past Sunday in an op-ed: "My administration has not curtailed the rights of gun owners, it has expanded them, including allowing people to carry their guns in national parks and wildlife refuges." In fact, Obama allowed the change in regarding the guns in national parks, not because he supported the idea, but because it was a very popular amendment to a bill that he wanted, the "Cardholders' Bill of Rights Act of 2009."

The Obama administration has been a consistent opponent of gun ownership. It has enacted a ban on the importation of semiautomatic guns because: “The U.S. insisted that imports of the aging rifles could cause problems such as firearm accidents.” They have also imposed much more extensive reporting requirements on sales of long guns. However, possibly the biggest threat is Obama’s nomination of Andrew Traver to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. There is also the Obama administration’s push for the U.N.’s Arms Trade Treaty and its continual inaccurate statements about the source of Mexico’s crime guns. In addition, President Obama’s appointments to the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, are adamantly against any protection for individual ownership of guns. If one of the five justices in the majority of the Heller or McDonald cases were to die or retire, not only would further gains be prevented, but even those two precedents would be threatened.

UPDATE: For a discussion about the inaccuracy in Media Matters' posts on guns please see this here.

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"Clinton says no to second term," feed up with Obama's indecisiveness

On CNN, Hillary Clinton announced three times that she was not interested in serving in a second term in the Obama administration.

Q- If the president is reelected, do you want to serve a second term as secretary of state?
Q- Would you like to serve as secretary of defense?
Q- Would you like to be vice president of the United States?

Clinton is feed up with Obama's indecisiveness on foreign policy.

Fed up with a president “who can’t make his mind up” as Libyan rebels are on the brink of defeat, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is looking to the exits.

At the tail end of her mission to bolster the Libyan opposition, which has suffered days of losses to Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s forces, Clinton announced that she’s done with Obama after
2012 — even if he wins again.

“Obviously, she’s not happy with dealing with a president who can’t decide if today is Tuesday or Wednesday, who can’t make his mind up,” a Clinton insider told The Daily. “She’s exhausted, tired.”
He went on, “If you take a look at what’s on her plate as compared with what’s on the plates of previous Secretary of States — there’s more going on now at this particular moment, and it’s like playing sports with a bunch of amateurs. And she doesn’t have any power. She’s trying to do what she can to keep things from imploding.”
Clinton is said to be especially peeved with the president’s waffling over how to encourage the kinds of Arab uprisings that have recently toppled regimes in Egypt and Tunisia, and in particular his refusal to back a no-fly zone over Libya.

In the past week, former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton’s former top adviser Anne-
Marie Slaughter lashed out at Obama for the same reason.

The tension has even spilled over into her dealings with European diplomats, with whom she met early this week. . . .

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Congressional Democrats increasing frustrated with Obama not working on budget negotiations

Obama seems a lot more concerned about his standing in the polls than fixing the budget deficit. He wants Congressional Republicans and Democrats battling each other why he can stay out of the picture. So much for Obama's promises on the deficit. From Roll Call:

President Barack Obama’s laissez-faire approach to the ongoing spending debate is winning him few friends on Capitol Hill.
Republican and Democratic Members alike are becoming increasingly critical of the president and are demanding the White House immediately step up its role in the standoff over funding the government. And Democrats fear that if Obama doesn’t engage more directly — and soon — they will lose the war of words to the Republicans on the critical issue of federal spending.
Members have used Obama’s upcoming five-day trip to Latin America, which begins Friday, to argue that the administration seems to have other priorities.
Sen. Kay Hagan said she was frustrated that the Senate would have to vote this week on yet another short-term continuing resolution; the North Carolina Democrat said she would be reluctant to support another one, adding that leaders of both parties “need to get to a negotiation on this.”
“We need to be sitting down,” Hagan said. “We need to have leadership from the president, but we also need to focus on the task at hand.”
The House passed a three-week continuing resolution Tuesday to keep the government funded through April 8. The Senate is poised to adopt the measure today. In the meantime, Members have been struggling behind the scenes to negotiate a broader agreement on a long-term spending measure that would fund the government through Sept. 30. The two parties are about $50 billion apart on spending cuts as part of that larger package.
Several House Democrats, including Reps. David Price (N.C.) and John Garamendi (Calif.), used Tuesday’s closed-door Caucus meeting to tell White House Chief of Staff William Daley that the president needs to increase his visibility on the issue. Members have grumbled for several weeks that Obama isn’t involved enough in the debate, but sources said those frustrations are growing.
“They did have an exchange, and several Members did express some frustration and concern about the low-key approach of the president,” one Democratic leadership aide said of Tuesday’s Caucus meeting. “What was expressed is, we’re losing the budget debate and when are you going to lead?”
The aide said House Democrats in particular want Obama to engage more directly because as the minority party they no longer control the conversation.
Sources in the room said Daley listened to lawmakers’ concerns but explained that the White House doesn’t want to appear too shrill and on the attack. . . .



Biden and DOJ officials meet in private with gun control advocates on Tuesday

So it looks like the Obama administration is moving into high gear on gun control. From the left wing Huffington Post, though it isn't surprising that they get this inside scoop on the Obama administration.

With the Obama administration gearing up for its first attempt at reforming federal gun policy, Vice President Joe Biden’s office has begun assuming more of an active role.

Aides to the vice president were present at a 90-minute meeting that the Department of Justice hosted with gun control advocates on Tuesday, administration officials said. And while those officials stressed Biden’s involvement in the gun policy discussion was still very much in its beginning stages -- “at this point, we are just gathering ideas from people,” said an administration official, “and [the Vice President’s staff is] involved in that” -- those in attendance were pleased to see Biden emissaries at the table, interpreting it as a sign of seriousness on the administration’s behalf.

“We have had other meetings with folks at justice and meetings with other people in the administration,” said one attendee. “This was the most thorough engagement we have had to date.”

The vice president, after all, was the lawmaker most closely associated with the last major congressional effort to refigure Second Amendment rights. The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 was written, in large part, by then-senator Biden. It included major curbs on assault weapons, not only barring the manufacturing of 19 different brands of firearms, but also outlawing the possession of newly manufactured high-capacity magazines.

The law expired in 2004, and despite several high-profile gun-related incidents since then, efforts at re-introduction have failed. . . .

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Update on Unions pushing recalls in Wisconsin

The very Left wing Huffington Post has this story on the Wisconsin recall efforts. Union money from around the country is going to make this ground zero for union battles.

Both national and Wisconsin-based Republican operatives tell the Huffington Post the party is being dramatically outworked and out-organized by Democrats in the recall campaigns being launched against state Senators.

The operatives, who raised their concerns out of hope it would jar the GOP into assertiveness, argue complacency has taken over after Governor Scott Walker successfully shepherded his anti-collective bargaining bill into law. While the Wisconsin Democratic Party, with major assists from progressive groups and unions, has harnessed resentment towards the governor into a full-throttled effort to recall eight GOP Senators, neither the enthusiasm nor organizational acumen exists on the Republican side of the aisle.

“It's clear that Democrats and liberal organizations are engaging in an attempt to make recall more than a mere hypothetical possibility for some Wisconsin Republicans,” said Liz Mair, Vice President of Hynes Communications and former RNC Online Communications Director, who has followed closely the work of conservative groups in Wisconsin. “Even though Governor Walker acted to end the impasse, Republicans and conservatives should not be acting like this is done and dusted.”

A conservative activist working inside the state on recall efforts was even more explicitly distraught. The Wisconsin Republican Party, the operative said, was not lending resources to the recall campaign groups had launched against Democratic Senators, in turn causing those groups to narrow their target list down from eight lawmakers to just three. . . .


Forcing Republican union members to support Democrat campaigns

Rasmussen Reports has a new poll that shows significant percentages of union members' dues are going to support political parties that they don't agree with.

A Rasmussen Reports telephone survey finds that 50% of public sector union members are ready to vote for a Democratic congressional candidate from their district, while just 22% would vote for a Republican. Ten percent (10%) would prefer a third party option, and 18% are not sure at this time.
Among private sector union members, 47% would vote for a Democrat and 34% for a Republican. Seven percent (7%) would prefer a third party candidate, and 11% are undecided. . . .

Here is a different way of looking at it. Unions obviously give money to support liberal causes.

Union members are more politically liberal than the population at large. Among all union members, 32% are conservative, 34% moderate and 32% liberal. Among all voters nationwide, there are twice as many conservatives as liberals. Even in this area, there is a modest gap between public and private sector union members.
Thirty-six percent (36%) of public sector union members are politically liberal, while just 27% are conservative.
For private sector unions, the numbers tilt in a slightly different direction—35% conservative and 30% liberal. . . .


Obama's strategy for not getting actively involved in budget debate

So the reason for ignoring the budget battle and focusing on basketball predictions is apparently to keep voters from focusing on the budget battle. Obama wants to keep the attention off of the battle as long as the Republicans are making relatively small cuts. He wants to wait for the larger cuts so that he can demonize them then. From John Fund at the WSJ's Political Diary.

The Obama White House is sharing its internal polling with private Democratic audiences to explain its remarkable detachment from the federal budget debate on Capitol Hill. White House aides say that the polling shows the public isn't focused on the battle over continuing resolutions to fund the government and is confused by the details.

That inattention will allow Democrats to delay responding to GOP demands for spending cuts until House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan reveals the GOP's spending priorities for next year's budget in early April. "That's when we jump 'em," a Democratic strategist told me. "There will be Medicare cuts and other things we'll be able to talk a lot about."

President Obama has apparently decided to borrow some political plays from Bill Clinton, who after his party's defeat in the 1994 mid-term elections began running ads attacking Republican plans to reform Medicare. At the same time, Mr. Clinton focused on a series of granular policy initiatives -- promoting school uniforms was one memorable example -- that were politically safe and popular with independent voters. Mr. Obama appears to be following the same strategy -- offering little in terms of policy substance, remaining disengaged in budget negotiations and waiting for Republicans to present a target for him to shoot at. Until then, Mr. Obama is filling the time with foreign travel and speeches touting alternative energy. He leaves for a five-day trip through South America this weekend. . . .

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Eric Zorn's "Five Reasons concealed-carry backers in Springfield are optimistic . . ."

Eric is an interesting guy, and I have enjoyed talking to him a few times. Here is his take on the bill becoming law. I would be happy to have him right, though what "reasonable" regulations would be required will be important. In addition, the fact that people will have to be eventually allowed to carry guns in someway will eventually matter.

Is this the year when Illinois becomes the last of the 50 states to allow adults to carry firearms in most public settings?

Supporters of the idea are optimistic. Legislation moving through the General Assembly calls for sheriff's departments to issue licenses to qualifying citizens permitting them to carry concealed guns, and backers offer five reasons why prospects for this perennial idea have never been better.

1. The tide of history . . .
2. The lesson of history . . .
3. A wink from the U.S. Supreme Court . . .
4. Law enforcement's lowered resistance . . .
5. The downstate natives are restless . . .



The Housing Market mess

People just don't want to invest in housing in the US.

Builders broke ground last month on the fewest homes in nearly two years and cut their requests for permits to start new projects to a five-decade low. The decline in construction activity is the latest evidence that the housing industry is years away from a recovery.
Home construction plunged 22.5 percent in February from January to a seasonally adjusted 479,000 homes, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. It was the lowest level since April 2009 and the second-lowest on records dating back more than a half-century.
The decline followed a surge in highly volatile apartment construction in January, which pushed the overall construction rate up to more than 600,000 units — the fastest rate in 20 months. Still, the building pace has been far below the 1.2 million units a year that economists consider healthy.
Single-family homes, which make up roughly 80 percent of home construction, fell 11.8 percent in February. Apartment and condominium construction dropped 47 percent, reversing much of January's gains.
Building permits, an indicator of future construction, fell 8.1 percent last month to the lowest level on records dating back to 1960. Permit requests for single-family homes saw the biggest decline. Apartments and condos remained flat. . . .

Given that this is from the Huffington Post, I am not sure that it is true, though it does fit in with past administration pushes (see also here). This will destroy the incentive to invest in mortgages.

The Obama administration is seeking to force the nation's five largest mortgage firms to reduce monthly payments for as many as three million distressed homeowners in as little as six months as part of an agreement to settle accusations of improper foreclosures and violations of consumer protection laws, six people familiar with the matter said.

Described as a "shock and awe" approach, the deal would accomplish the four goals set out by state and federal policy makers and regulators as part of their multi-agency investigations into abusive mortgage practices by the nation's largest financial firms: punish banks for violations of state law and federal regulations; provide much-needed assistance to distressed borrowers; stabilize a deteriorating housing market; and dissuade firms from abusing homeowners in the future.

The modified mortgages could cost the five financial behemoths -- Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo and Ally Financial -- as much as $30 billion, according to sources. Combined, the five firms handle three out of every five home loans, according to newsletter and data provider Inside Mortgage Finance.

It also could lead to reduced mortgage payments or lowered loan balances for nearly two-thirds of the 4.7 million delinquent homeowners who have yet to fall into foreclosure, according to data provider Lender Processing Services. . . .


"Why 33 rounds makes sense in a defensive weapon"

A discussion of why longer clips are useful is available from the Washington Post here.

. . . In fact, the extended magazine actually vitiates the pistol's usefulness as a weapon for most needs, legitimate or illegitimate. The magazine destroys the pistol's essence; it is no longer concealable. Loughner allegedly wrapped the clumsy package in a coat for a short distance, but he could not have worn it in a belt or concealed it for an extended period. It had really ceased to be a pistol.

That's why extended magazines are rarely featured in crime - and that awkwardness spells out the magazine's primary legitimate usage. It may have some utility for competitive shooting by cutting down on reloading time, or for tactical police officers on raids, but for those who are not hard-core gun folks it's an ideal solution for home defense, which is probably why hundreds of thousands of Glocks have been sold in this country.

Particularly in rural Arizona, given the upsurge in border violence, it's likely that residents feel the need to defend themselves against drug predators, coyote gunmen or others. Yes, they can use semiautomatic rifles and shotguns, protected by the Second Amendment and unlikely to be banned by local law, but women generally don't care to put in the training needed to master them. Nor can the elderly handle them adeptly.

For them, the Glock with a 33-round magazine is the weapon of maximum utility. You can load it on Sunday and shoot it all month. (Nobody wants to reload a gun while being shot at.) It's light and easy to control. You don't have to carry it or conceal it; it's under the bed or in the drawer until needed. When the question arises of who needs an extended magazine, the answer is: the most defenseless of the defenseless. . . .


TSA made mistakes with X-ray body scanners, subjecting people to 10x the radiation promised

It would have been nice if the TSA had actually tested the scanners out first.

The Transportation Security Administration is re-analyzing the radiation levels of X-ray body scanners installed in airports nationwide, after testing produced dramatically higher-than-expected results.

The TSA, which has deployed at least 500 body scanners to at least 78 airports, said Tuesday the machines meet all safety standards and would remain in operation despite a “calculation error” in safety studies. The flawed results showed radiation levels 10 times higher than expected.

At least one flier group, the Association for Airline Passenger Rights, is urging the government to stop using the $180,000 machines that produce a virtual-nude image of the body until new tests are concluded in May.

“Airline passengers have enough concerns about flying — including numerous ones about how TSA conducts its haphazard security screenings — so it is TSA’s responsibility to ensure passengers are not being exposed to unhealthy amounts of radiation,” Brandon Macsata, executive director of the group, said in a statement.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center has been a loud voice opposing the machines. Last week, it urged a federal appeals court to stop using them until further health studies were conducted. Marc Rotenberg, EPIC’s executive director, is expected to tell the same thing to a congressional panel Wednesday.

“The agency should have conducted a public rule-making so that these risks could have been more carefully assessed,” (.pdf) according to a transcript of his expected testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. . . .

“It would appear that the emissions are 10 times higher. We understand it as a calculation error,” TSA spokesman Sarah Horowitz said in a telephone interview. . . .

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Gun control rules for normal citizens but not for politicians

California politicians see the need for concealed carry when it comes to themselves, though they still oppose them for other citizens.

Politicians in California say their working lives are now so dangerous that they should be given special dispensation to carry concealed guns to their offices in order to protect themselves.

Members of the California state assembly in Sacramento from both main parties have introduced a bill that would put politicians in the same class of workers vulnerable to violence as agents who arrange bail for defendants or jewellery shop owners.

The bill would grant California's representatives to Congress in Washington and its state politicians a "good cause" classification, entitling them to carry hidden guns while in the state on the grounds of self-defence.

The legislation, sponsored by two Democrats and one Republican politician in the Californian assembly, specifically refers to January's mass shooting in Tucson in which six people were killed and 13 injured, including Congress member Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head.

Lou Correa, a Democrat member of the Californian senate, told the Los Angeles Times that, in the wake of Tucson, he was considering keeping a stun gun in his office and said one of his employees had asked for increased protection from potentially violent members of the public.

"I've had guys physically come up to me ready to punch me out," Correa said, adding he had received email death threats. . . .


Protestor in Tennessee wearing hammer and sickle symbol on shirt

You have to love the union protestors wearing communist symbols on their shirts. I am not sure how many people know what these symbols mean, but hopefully a few do. The news story on the disruptive union and student protestors is available here.


"Story on pros, cons of concealed carry was one-sided"

The Peoria Star Journal had this attack on my work last week. I wrote Ms. Adams an email, but she refused to respond so I turned my email to her into a letter and sent it in. Here is my response that was published a week later.

Reporter Pam Adams' March 6 news article ("Concealed carry debate picks up steam with Gun Owners Lobby Day, testimony before Congress this week") provided a very lopsided discussion on my academic research regarding right-to-carry laws. The piece only quotes organizations and researchers who are opposed to letting people carry permitted, concealed handguns.

One person is quoted as claiming, "It's hard to find a serious researcher who says the research indicates concealed carry laws reduce violent crime." In fact, the overwhelming majority of studies support my research. Among peer-reviewed studies in academic journals by criminologists or economists, 18 studies examining national data find that right-to-carry laws reduce violent crime, 10 indicate no discernible effect or just a small benefit, and none find a bad effect from the law. Among non-refereed studies, three found drops in crime and two said either no effect or temporary, small increases in crime.

With Wisconsin likely adopting a right-to-carry law, Illinois may soon be the last state that bans people from being able to carry concealed handguns for protection. Despite gun control advocates worrying about what might go wrong, there is a reason why none of the states adopting right-to-carry laws have ever held even one single legislative hearing about rescinding their laws.

Since Ms. Adams wasn't able to find researchers to interview who have found right-to-carry laws reduce violent crime, here are a few names: Carl Moody at William & Mary, Stephen Bronars at Georgetown, David Mustard at the University of Georgia, and Eric Helland of Claremont College.

John R. Lott, Jr.
Author, "More Guns, Less Crime"
Alexandria, Va.


Why isn't the Constitution read in schools any more?

This survey is pretty depressing, even if it is not surprising.

A wide majority of Americans know the U.S. Constitution is important, but less than one-third of them say they've taken the time to read the entire thing. . . . only 28 percent say they've read all of the document, and 14 percent say they've read most of it . . .

Given how short the constitution is, how is it possible that schools can only justify people reading secondary discussions and never the original document?

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"Only 27% Have Positive View of Government Bailouts"

Latest Rasmussen Poll:

While the economy keeps stumbling along, voters continue to express little confidence in government as the solution.
Just 27% of Likely U.S. Voters now think the government bailouts of banks, auto companies and insurance companies were good for the United States. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 57% regard the bailouts as bad for the country, identical to findings last month. Sixteen percent (16%) are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
The latest numbers are consistent with findings since the first bailout was under discussion in September 2008. Since then, voters have consistently opposed the bailouts for both the financial sector and the auto industry. . . .

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If you are worried that high gas prices will dislocate the economy, why not put on regulations that make the disruption even worse?

Anne Jolis writing at the WSJ's Political Diary:

As Libya burned and oil prices edged up, Madrid reduced Spain's maximum highway speed limit to 110 kilometers per hour (68 mph) from 120 kilometers per hour. Ostensibly, the forced deceleration is intended to save Spaniards money and reduce oil imports, on the claim that cars will consume roughly 15% less regular gasoline when moving at the lower speed. The BBC reports that the government has deployed workers across Spain to change 6,000 road signs to reflect the new speed limit, which will last at least until the summer.

"Sometimes you have to adopt measures, even if they are unpopular," Spain's Socialist Deputy Prime Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba told journalists. "With the price of a liter of gasoline at its highest in history, we have to save because what is at stake is the economic recovery."

Not all studies agree that driving more slowly means driving more efficiently. Car type, road conditions and other factors play key roles. But forcing drivers to slow down isn't Madrid's only play to cut fuel use and "save" people's money for them. The government will also be dropping fares on state-owned rail networks, subsidizing the purchase of energy-efficient tires and requiring oil companies to use 7% biofuels in their diesel and gasoline, rather than 5.8% currently. . . .

It is bad enough that Spaniards are already bearing the burden of higher cost gas, but now they are limited in figuring out the best way to bear those costs.

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Pennsylvania state Senator justifies castle doctrine

This gets to the bottom line pretty clearly.

State Rep. Scott Perry said he wants to give crime victims that extra split second to make a life-or-death decision.

They shouldn’t have to weigh an array of legal limitations or worry that they might be sued while deciding how to defend themselves in a kill-or-be-killed situation, the Dillsburg Republican said. . . . .

“That’s no time for victims to be second-guessing,” he said.

Law-abiding citizens should be allowed by law to react quickly and to use deadly force if necessary to save themselves anywhere and any time that danger finds them, he said.

Perry said that’s why he’s sponsoring the latest proposal to expand the state’s so-called Castle Doctrine. . . .


Obama's broken promise on curbing deficits

Of course, Obama made very strong promises during the 2008 presidential debates about cutting spending and the deficits, but it is at least nice that he is being held somewhat accountable for more recent promises.

When President Barack Obama opened the first meeting of his fiscal commission last April, he promised to be “standing with them” as they produced recommendations for curbing the nation’s escalating debt.

Republicans and Democrats say they are still waiting.

While Obama has said he’s committed to deficit reduction, he has also has made clear it is secondary, at least for now, to his “winning the future” agenda. And that reflects a strategy driven by what his senior aides believe voters care about most — jobs, not deficits.

Obama’s reluctance to join the debate in a sustained way has provoked rising frustration among lawmakers from both parties, who are speaking more forcefully about what they view as his absenteeism on one of the most pressing issues before them. . . .



The AP on Obama: "PROMISES, PROMISES: Little transparency progress"

Another broken Obama promise:

Two years into its pledge to improve government transparency, the Obama administration took action on fewer requests for federal records from citizens, journalists, companies and others last year even as significantly more people asked for information. The administration disclosed at least some of what people wanted at about the same rate as the previous year.
People requested information 544,360 times last year under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act from the 35 largest agencies, up nearly 41,000 more than the previous year, according to an analysis by The Associated Press of new federal data. But the government responded to nearly 12,400 fewer requests. . . .


Democratic Secretary of State delays publishing public sector union reform bill

From WSJ's Political Diary by John Fund today:

Last Friday, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was set to sign a bill rolling back collective bargaining for state employees in a public ceremony that afternoon. Instead, he privately signed the bill at 9:30 a.m. while continuing to hold the public signing later that day. Why the hurry? Apparently, several cities and counties are rushing to conclude union contracts under the old rules, something the governor feels will only trigger local job layoffs or property tax hikes.

But it looks as if his efforts will be unavailing. Democratic Secretary of State Doug La Follette has announced that rather than promptly publish the law he will wait the maximum 10 days he is allowed, thus delaying its implementation. "We'll just automatically do it on the tenth day," Mr. LaFollette told reporters. "I see no reason to divert from it."

During his signing remarks, Mr. Walker went out of his way to say that the tradition in which a law is published one business day after the state's chief executive makes such a request should be honored. But Mr. La Follette has ignored the governor, even as he conceded that he can "recall no occasion" in which he similarly denied such a request in the 30 years he has served in his office. . . .


Corruption Washington Style: "D.C. insiders can reap fortunes from federal programs for small businesses"

This is a pretty outrageous example of government corruption.

For years as a lawyer in Washington, Paralee White had helped small and disadvantaged firms break into the federal contracting market.

Then she decided to help herself.

She started a business and was soon making more than $500,000 a year through a contracting program intended to help poor Alaska natives, even though she isn’t an Alaska native.

White also helped her family. She hired her sister and brother, paying them as much as $280,000 a year. She helped her sister’s boyfriend set up his own firm in partnership with Alaska natives. He made more than $500,000 a year.

White’s story offers a look at how Washington insiders can make fortunes from government programs intended to benefit small, disadvantaged and minority entrepreneurs. It also illustrates how government officials who are supposed to keep tabs on these programs often fail to do so.

White’s native partners eventually accused her and her siblings of fraud and self-dealing, saying they were paid more than the rules allowed and hid the transactions from the government. The allegations spilled out in a civil lawsuit in Alaska, and the case was quickly settled. . . .

Over several years, White and her associates landed more than $500 million in construction contracts for the Navy and other Pentagon departments, nearly all of them through an SBA program aimed at boosting Alaska native corporations. But less than 1 percent of that money made it back to the native-owned corporations, a Washington Post investigation found. . . .

UPDATE: Tim Carney has a related discussion here for other businesses.

Here's a typical example of how Ex-Im works: Luxembourg's CargoLux (an air cargo carrier) is looking to buy Boeing jets with General Electric engines. The companies have lined up JP Morgan to finance the deal. Ex-Im is considering offering a loan guarantee.

The Ex-Im guarantee lowers the interest rate JP Morgan charges, thus lowering the effective price CargoLux would pay. This helps Boeing beat out heavily subsidized European jetmaker Airbus.

Boeing, GE and Ex-Im will all say this isn't a taxpayer subsidy or corporate welfare because it comes "at no cost to the taxpayer": Congress recently moved Ex-Im's subsidies off-budget so that new loans and guarantees are covered by fees and the repayments of old loans and guarantees.

So, Ex-Im claims to be "profitable" and not reliant on taxpayers in its work to grease the wheels of commerce through financing. If you lived through the housing crisis, this probably sounds familiar.

Ex-Im is the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac of the export industry. But where Fannie and Freddie's guarantee was only implicit, Ex-Im is explicitly backed by the full faith and credit of the United States. In other words, if CargoLux doesn't pay, Ex-Im cuts a check to JP Morgan. . . . .



"Teachers Unions explained"