More than half of Democrats believed that it was at least "somewhat likely" that Bush was "complicit" in the 9/11 attacks

Ben Smith at Politico has been writing a lot about the "birther" issue. This last week he added the point below. I remember this (and I seem to remember other polls), but I hadn't seen anyone talk about it and surely none of the media have raised it when they have pushed Republicans on the issue. If I had been a Republican being pushed on the "birther" issue, I would have said that I was no more responsible for it than leading Democrats were on the Bush was complicit in 9/11 issue, indeed even less so because I had spoken out on the "birther" issue. Indeed, the Obama administration even had "truthers," such as Van Jones working in it, but there was never really any outrage in the MSM about that.

More than half of Democrats believed Bush knew

I've been looking for a good analogue to the willingness of Republicans to believe, or say they believe, that Obama was born abroad, and one relevant number is the share of Democrats willing to believe, as they say, that "Bush knew."

There aren't a lot of great public numbers on the partisan breakdown of adherents to that conspiracy theory, but the University of Ohio yesterday shared with us the crosstabs of a 2006 poll they did with Scripps Howard that's useful in that regard.

"How likely is it that people in the federal government either assisted in the 9/11 attacks or took no action to stop the attacks because they wanted the United States to go to war in the Middle East?" the poll asked.

A full 22.6% of Democrats said it was "very likely." Another 28.2% called it "somewhat likely."

That is: More than half of Democrats, according to a neutral survey, said they believed Bush was complicit in the 9/11 terror attacks.

I'm still not sure this represents actual belief, as opposed to a kind of trash talk about a president you hate. (Bush wasn't mentioned in that survey question, but had been earlier in the poll.) . . .

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The Obama Libyan mess

This is from someone at Brookings attacking Obama's policies. I still don't understand why we are involved in Libya but not another country such as Syria, where soldiers are shooting into crowds and 120 are dead in just the last two days. Apparently, even the Washington Post can't quite figure out what the administration is doing. The logic seems Ad Hoc.

“Deterring Qadhafi’s forces from moving forward doesn’t remove him from power, doesn’t create a functioning economy, doesn’t solve humanitarian problems of people being out of their homes, out of work — all of which comes from having this war drag on and on,” said Anthony Cordesman, a defense analyst at the Brookings Institution. “What gets totally lost here is you have hundreds of thousands of people displaced here — refugees … you’re losing economic opportunity, losing jobs, the educational system is breaking down, the whole infrastructure is coming under pressure.”

“The problem we face, is, having started this without evidently any clear plan as to what the outcome would be, we are everyday making this worse. These are not casual costs: When you don’t have medical services, you may not see people killed, but they’re dying,” Cordesman said. . . .

I will be interested in seeing what happens at the May 20th date. It seems to me that will be the crucial point in time for Obama with his base.

Under the War Powers Act, Obama is supposed to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from the Libya operation by May 20 if Congress has not authorized the mission. Presidents have generally complied with the notification requirement in the act, while contending the law is unconstitutional. . . .

Rand Paul has it right:

“I think it’s a big mistake and it’s a very bad precedent to allow a to be fought with no vote in Congress,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said at a policy luncheon this week in his home state. “Now, it also shows you the hypocrisy of the way politics goes. Many on the left criticized Bush to no end about the Iraq war. In fact, I wasn’t in favor of going to Iraq. But at the very least, Bush came to Congress and we voted before going to Afghanistan and Congress voted before going to Iraq.” . . .


Is Obama winning the class warfare debate?

Possibly Obama's rhetoric about tax cuts for "millionaires and billionaires" is working. It is pretty irresponsible, but it might be working.

Two new polls suggest there is broad support for raising taxes on households making more than $250,000 a year, and all in the name of deficit reduction.

Heck, even a majority of Republicans want the rich to pay more.

A full 72% of adults approve of increasing federal taxes on households making more than $250,000 starting in 2013, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

Fifty-five percent of Republicans want the tax hike, along with 74% of independents and 83% of Democrats.

In case you need more convincing, an ABC News/Washington Post poll released Wednesday asked a similar question. The results: Seventy-two percent of respondents want to raise taxes on the rich to help reduce the deficit, with a similar breakdown by political party. . . .



"'Atlas Shrugged' Finally Hits Theaters"

Strongly recommended. It will be expanding to about 500 theaters this weekend.


Let's redistribute GPA scores!

This was actually a very enjoyable video to watch. Hopefully it will get some people to think more. The unedited video is here:

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Obama administration tries to assure young people over deficits

Young people are the real losers over the deficits. Given that the Obama administration isn't really putting forward much effort to control spending, it mainly seems to be trying to buy young people's votes with expenditures. Given that these wealth transfers are small compared to the debt being piled up, if young people go for this, they are being very short-sighted.

President Obama on Tuesday told Virginia community college students that unless young people mobilize, special interests in Washington will balance the federal budget by slashing student aid and other education spending.

“I can’t afford to have all of you as bystanders,” Obama told a town-hall meeting at Northern Virginia Community College. "There are powerful voices in Washington; there are powerful lobbies and special interests in Washington. And they’re going to want to reduce the deficit on your backs. And if you are not heard, that’s exactly what’s going to happen."

He told students that Republicans want to cut Pell Grant scholarships with their budget, but that his own budget plan would increase education spending while reducing deficits by $4 trillion over 12 years.

The president got applause when he called for $400 billion in new cuts to the Pentagon and for taxing the wealthy.
“We are going to have to ask everyone to sacrifice, and if we are going to ask community colleges to sacrifice…then we can ask millionaires and billionaires to make a little sacrifice,” he said.

Young voters backed Obama in droves in 2008 and will be important to his reelection effort in 2012. Polls suggest Obama's support is stronger with voters younger than 40 than it is with voters older than 40. . . .

From the Politico:

. . . "A lot of young Americans are concerned about their future," Kalpen Modi, associate director of the White House office of public engagement, told students on the conference call. "They’re worried about the economy, particularly worried about increasing debt that their generation is going to have to shoulder."

Modi, who returned to the White House last year after a brief hiatus to complete the third "Harold and Kumar" movie, also talked with students this week at Florida A&M University. It was one of 100 roundtables the White House is organizing with young voters.

Modi and Austan Goolsbee, the chairman of Obama's council of economic advisers, told students on the conference call they want to bring the concerns of young voters to the president, so they can be included in the broader deficit reduction effort.


"Obama to Boeing: Drop Dead"

This will help with Boeing being able to export airplanes. So much also for Obama's attempt to pretend to be pro-business.

In what may be the strongest signal yet of the new pro-labor orientation of the National Labor Relations Board under President Obama, the agency filed a complaint Wednesday seeking to force Boeing to bring an airplane production line back to its unionized facilities in Washington State instead of moving the work to a nonunion plant in South Carolina. . . . Not only is the federal government saying to Boeing that it gets to decide where it puts its production lines, it's telling South Carolina it may as well not enact laws designed to attract investment. . . .

For more information, see this:

Boeing is going to fight the NLRB decision to sue them. One irony of the case is that Obama’s recently appointed Chief of Staff, Bill Daley, served as a member of Boeing’s Board of Directors when the company decided to create jobs in South Carolina by building a production line in the right to work state.

And that is the heart of the matter. South Carolina is a right to work state whose voters this past November overwhelmingly amended their state’s constitution to ensure that a worker has the right to vote on whether they want to be represented by a labor union. The workers at the Boeing plant in South Carolina have also taken the bold step of booting out the union that represented them, effectively ending the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers stranglehold on Boeing production.

Now, Obama’s NLRB is attacking Boeing’s job creation in South Carolina as “union retaliation” directly related to a 2008 labor strike which crippled Boeing’s production in Washington state. . . .

See also this:

The former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board told FoxNews.com that a board attorney's bid to stop Boeing from opening a production line at a non-union site in South Carolina is "unprecedented" and could have serious implications for companies looking to expand.
The comments Tuesday from Peter Schaumber add to the roiling debate over the complaint filed last week against the aerospace giant. NLRB's acting general counsel, taking up allegations from union workers at a Puget Sound plant in Washington state, had accused Boeing of violating federal labor law by moving to open a second 787 Dreamliner airplane production line in South Carolina. . . . .

UPDATE: Top Republicans demand Obama weigh in on Boeing dispute

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Biased Chicago Tribune news story on Concealed Carry

Second City Cop has this discussion about how the Chicago Tribune is covering the concealed carry debate in its state.

This is a misleading article by the anti-gun people over at the Tribune:
Chicago police joined gun control groups Wednesday to voice concerns about flaws in Illinois' mental health screening system for would-be gun owners, problems that could be amplified with passage of a bill to allow permits for carrying concealed firearms.

But evidently, the Tribune has neglected to mention the following organizations that have come out in favor of the Right to Carry in Illinois
Chicago Sgt's Association

Chicago Lt. Association

IL Association of Chiefs of Police

IL Sheriffs Association

The only people who seem to be against concealed carry are the exempts that Shortshanks sends down to Springfield - exempts who owe their continued employment as exempts to the political machine run by a midget who is protected 24/7 by armed guards. And who will continue to be protected by armed guards following his retirement from the public arena, despite the fact we've never seen a credible threat to his safety. At least Ed Burke had the foresight to publicize his threat from 30 years ago and managed to garner another more recent threat from a senile old man when Rahm made noises about removing his security detail.

Strangely absent from the above list - the Chicago FOP. Maybe it's about time the organization polled it's members and publicized where it stands, either with the citizens who know we're undermanned, who know we can't be everywhere at once and who are willing to help us out or with the political masters who don't trust citizens to be responsible for their own well being and less dependent on the government. . . .

Thanks to Gus Cotey and David Codrea for leading me to this story.

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More evidence that Environmentalism is a new religion for many

Now we can add confessions and sins to the list of similarities.

In a bizarre wrap-up to the 2 p.m. EDT hour of CNN "Newsroom" Thursday, anchor T.J. Holmes confessed his "eco-sins" to the audience. Commemorating the eve of "Earth Day," Holmes admitted to his "green" faults which included driving an SUV by himself to work daily, blasting the heat in his house during winter, and using "less efficient" incandescent bulbs for lighting.

"These are my eco-sins. I'm confessing them to you because tomorrow is Earth Day," Holmes announced to the audience.

"It often goes ignored by many of us, including me. Not going to ignore it this year. Why? Well, maybe it was an awakening. Maybe I was scolded recently by an environmentalist. Maybe I'm tired of wasting my own money," he rambled, before wishing the audience a happy Earth Day.
The awkward segment grew a little more so at the end, when 3 p.m. EDT anchor Brooke Baldwin applauded Holmes for his honesty and Holmes sheepishly replied that "there's some other stuff." . . .

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Racist attack at McDonald's

This is a horrible attack that apparently took place in Baltimore. I found it very difficult to watch. The video is available here.

. . . Two black females beating the hell out of a white patron, while several black employees stand by and watch. One black male manages to provide the facade of assistance to the white victim in this brutal attack.

The two black females exit, then re-enter the store to continue the beating, until a an older white woman attempts to stop them from dragging the white victim outside into the parking lot. note: the black male employees have disappeared from camera view, even though they are plenty well capable of stopping the attack.

At the end, the white victim is beaten until she has a seizure, at which point the camera operator warns the black female attackers to flee, because the police are on the way. Note: he makes sure to repeatedly tell the criminal attackers to flee, instead of keeping them there for the police to apprehend.

The Smoking Gun has more details available here. The person who took the movie and advised the attackers to flee before the police arrive is apparently not very bright. He posted the movie to his YouTube page. He also turns out to be black.

A McDonald’s worker has taken credit for filming and uploading to YouTube the latest viral video to capture a brutal assault at a fast food restaurant.

The employee, identified as Vernon Hackett on social network accounts, posted the video clip to his YouTube page earlier this week. According to his Facebook page, the 22-year-old Hackett, pictured at right, has worked for McDonald's since September 2009.

The April 18 assault, seen below, took place at a McDonald’s location on Kenwood Avenue in Rosedale, Maryland, a Baltimore suburb. According to the Baltimore County Police Department, a 14-year-old girl has been charged as a juvenile in connection with the assault, while charges are pending against an 18-year-old woman. “The incident remains under investigation and the State’s Attorney’s Office is reviewing the case,” added investigators.

Police have identified the assault victim as a 22-year-old woman "who appeared to be having a seizure" when officers arrived at the McDonald's at around 8 PM. . . .

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California's high costs of prison

So why do you think that it costs almost three times more for prisoners in California than Texas? Do you think that it is the public employee unions in California? What incentive does it create for the Federal government to pay more for states that spend more?

The number of criminal aliens incarcerated in California rose to 102,795 in 2009, a 17 percent increase since 2003, federal auditors reported Thursday.

This isn't cheap. Nationwide, the Government Accountability Office reports, it costs well over $1.1 billion a year for states to imprison criminal aliens -- those who committed a crime after entering the United States illegally. California, moreover, is more expensive than other states. GAO auditors estimated California spends $34,000 to incarcerate a criminal alien for one year; in Texas, it's only $12,000.

The audit, requested by Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, will provide ammunition for states' perennial effort to secure more federal reimbursement dollars. . . .

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Obama's new budget proposal would reduce planned deficits by $2.5 trillion

I don't know how they can know what the reductions would be for sure with so much not spelled out yet, but this is still much than the $4 trillion Obama claimed.

A leading panel of budget experts estimated Thursday that President Obama's latest spending plan does not save as much money as the White House initially claimed and is about $1.5 trillion more expensive than the Republican plan.
Since he delivered a major fiscal policy address last week, Obama and other officials have touted that the White House plan would cut $4 trillion over 12 years. Using that figure, they've claimed it's very similar to a House Republican plan which supposedly would cut $4.4 trillion over 10 years.
But given that most budget outlines use a 10-year window, as required by law, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget tried to offer an apples-to-apples comparison -- and determined Obama's proposal would actually cut deficits by $2.5 trillion over the next decade. It credited the president for "moving the ball forward," but said that based on Congressional Budget Office assumptions, the plan doesn't do enough to tackle the debt crisis.
"It appears unlikely that the policies proposed in the president's framework would be sufficient to reduce debt to a manageable level," they wrote.
In response, the White House claimed that using the 10-year window, the president's budget plan would cut $2.9 trillion, not $2.5 trillion. And officials continued to stand by the claim that it cuts $4 trillion over 12 years. A White House aide suggested the president's plan would save more than the committee claims in part because of a "failsafe" provision that would trigger additional spending cuts if debt reduction goals are not met. . . .

Yet, at the same time, Obama is making strong statements such as this:

Now, if we don’t close this deficit, now that the economy has begun to grow again, if we keep on spending more than we take in, it’s going to cause serious damage to our economy. . . .

I have tried pointing this out many times, but someone really needs to shame Obama from continually making this outrageous claim:

So we were left with a big deficit as I was coming into office. . . .

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Just getting started: 1,147,271 words of Obamacare regulations published so far

My understanding is that the new rules involve implementing only a very small percentage of the Obamacare law.

The Obamacare statutes together contain 425,116 words. Compare that to 1,147,271 words published so far in Obamacare regulation documents. The regulations are 270 percent as long as the statute itself. . . .

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Princeton Lecturer loses job over political correctness, commits suicide

I would be nice to know what the political correctness issue was here.

A Princeton University Spanish teacher committed suicide in Chelsea after the Ivy League school failed to renew his contract, a friend said yesterday.
Antonio Calvo, 45, was found inside his 12th-floor apartment on W. 26th St. April 12 with self-inflicted slash wounds to his neck and arm, authorities said.
Calvo, who began teaching at Princeton in 2000 but did not have tenure, had been told four days earlier that he would not be brought back as a lecturer and as director of the Spanish program.
"This news came after a long campaign was launched against him by a group of graduate students and a lecturer from the department," the friend, Marco Aponte, told The Post.
Aponte said he'd been told the attacks on Calvo involved "political correctness."
He said the Spanish Department recommended renewing Calvo's contract but was overruled by the university.
"Antonio was very devoted to his job and worked very hard," said Aponte, a professor at a British university.
One of Calvo's students, Philip Rothaus, said the professor was "an absolutely amazing man."
Aponte said Calvo would have been forced to leave the United States since his visa was sponsored by Princeton. . . .


Obama breaks Obamacare promise to drug companies

Well, Obama's promise to pass Obamacare lasted about a year.

The White House’s new deficit plan has the drug industry crying foul, and that means Big Pharma may now join Big Insurers to push back on health reform.
Drug industry sources tell FOX Business the Administration is backtracking on what is called the “PhRMA deal” in health reform, a deal that was struck behind closed doors in late 2009 and early 2010 in order to get the industry to support and endorse health-care reform.
In the “PhRMA” deal, drug companies would fork over $80 billion in fees as well as give drug discounts to seniors in Medicare over 10 years, among other things (The CBO has reported that those fees may be passed along to customers, anyway, in the form of higher drug prices. (See EMac's Bottom Line, "CBO Says Health Reform Causes Drug Costs to Rise")
In exchange, the White House agreed, among other items, to not force the drug industry to accept rebates on drugs sold through Medicare Part D, a program launched under President George W. Bush to subsidize prescription drugs for seniors.
But President Barack Obama's new deficit push calls for those Medicare rebates, via the Simpson-Bowles plan. . . .

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Fox News: Credit Rating Wake Up Call on Debt?

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Obama calls Republican budget plan "radical"

Obama's evaluation of the Republican budget proposal crafted by Rep. Ryan. Here is part of the transcript from Obama's presentation to Facebook. The Republican plan will still increase the deficit by $5.8 trillion. Obama's plan will probably increase it by at least $9.4 trillion, though there has been much specifics lacking in his proposal.

The Republican budget that was put forward I would say is fairly radical. I wouldn’t call it particularly courageous. . . .

Their basic view is that no matter how successful I am, no matter how much I’ve taken from this country -- I wasn’t born wealthy; I was raised by a single mom and my grandparents. I went to college on scholarships. There was a time when my mom was trying to get her PhD, where for a short time she had to take food stamps. My grandparents relied on Medicare and Social Security to help supplement their income when they got old.

So their notion is, despite the fact that I’ve benefited from all these investments -- my grandfather benefited from the GI Bill after he fought in World War II -- that somehow I now have no obligation to people who are less fortunate than me and I have no real obligation to future generations to make investments so that they have a better.

So what his budget proposal does is not only hold income tax flat, he actually wants to further reduce taxes for the wealthy, further reduce taxes for corporations, not pay for those, and in order to make his numbers work, cut 70 percent out of our clean energy budget, cut 25 percent out of our education budget, cut transportation budgets by a third. I guess you could call that bold. I would call it shortsighted.

And then, as I said, there’s a fundamental difference between how the Republicans and I think about Medicare and Medicaid and our health care system. Their basic theory is that if we just turn Medicare into a voucher program and turn Medicaid into block grant programs, then now you, a Medicare recipient, will go out and you’ll shop for the best insurance that you’ve got -- that you can find -- and that you’re going to control costs because you’re going to say to the insurance company, this is all I can afford.

That will control costs, except if you get sick and the policy that you bought doesn’t cover what you’ve got. Then either you’re going to mortgage your house or you’re going to go to the emergency room, in which case I, who do have insurance, are going to have to pay for it indirectly because the hospital is going to have uncompensated care.

So they don’t really want to make the health care system more efficient and cheaper. What they want to do is to push the costs of health care inflation on to you. And then you’ll be on your own trying to figure out in the marketplace how to make health care cheaper. . . .



More incorrect claims by Dems about consequences of not immediately increasing debt limit

If the debt limit isn't increased, for that period of time the Federal government will only be able to spend about $2.2 trillion at an annual rate. How is this so bad? Surely they can cover the interest payments and almost all the nondiscretionary government spending. Hitting the limit simply means no new borrowing until the limit is increased. An example of an extreme statement:

“Congress will not permit the nation to default on its obligations because it would be beyond irresponsible to do so,” said Brian Fallon, a spokesman for Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), in a statement to POLITICO. “Leader Cantor knows this, and should heed the many business leaders who are telling Republicans to stop playing games with the debt ceiling to gain political leverage.” . . .

UPDATE: At least some in Congress have gotten the message.

Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) believes the dangers of not raising the debt ceiling are being “overstated,” noting that Congress has failed to raise the limit before and “Armageddon didn’t hit.”

“Three or four times over the course of the last 20 years Congress has voted not to raise the debt ceiling, and it’s taken a few months and then they’ve come together and they’ve raised it,” the tea party favorite said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

"But over the course of those few months, when the debt ceiling wasn’t raised, Armageddon didn’t hit, the government paid its bills . . ."

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Appearing on Fox News Live tomorrow morning at 9:30 EDT

I will be appearing on Fox News Live at 10:30 AM EDT on Friday. The feed is available here. This is Fox News' internet news program. I will be interviewed about my piece on Standard & Poor's warning of a downgrade in the US credit rating.

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Your cell phone can give police a lot of information about you

If true, this is worrisome.

The Michigan State Police have a high-tech mobile forensics device that can be used to extract information from cell phones belonging to motorists stopped for minor traffic violations. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan last Wednesday demanded that state officials stop stonewalling freedom of information requests for information on the program.

ACLU learned that the police had acquired the cell phone scanning devices and in August 2008 filed an official request for records on the program, including logs of how the devices were used. The state police responded by saying they would provide the information only in return for a payment of $544,680. The ACLU found the charge outrageous.

"Law enforcement officers are known, on occasion, to encourage citizens to cooperate if they have nothing to hide," ACLU staff attorney Mark P. Fancher wrote. "No less should be expected of law enforcement, and the Michigan State Police should be willing to assuage concerns that these powerful extraction devices are being used illegally by honoring our requests for cooperation and disclosure."

A US Department of Justice test of the CelleBrite UFED used by Michigan police found the device could grab all of the photos and video off of an iPhone within one-and-a-half minutes. The device works with 3000 different phone models and can even defeat password protections.

"Complete extraction of existing, hidden, and deleted phone data, including call history, text messages, contacts, images, and geotags," a CelleBrite brochure explains regarding the device's capabilities. "The Physical Analyzer allows visualization of both existing and deleted locations on Google Earth. In addition, location information from GPS devices and image geotags can be mapped on Google Maps."

The ACLU is concerned that these powerful capabilities are being quietly used to bypass Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches. . . .

Meanwhile smart phones can apparently keep the information on your movements for the last year.

Security researchers have discovered that Apple's iPhone keeps track of where you go – and saves every detail of it to a secret file on the device which is then copied to the owner's computer when the two are synchronised.

The file contains the latitude and longitude of the phone's recorded coordinates along with a timestamp, meaning that anyone who stole the phone or the computer could discover details about the owner's movements using a simple program.

For some phones, there could be almost a year's worth of data stored, as the recording of data seems to have started with Apple's iOS 4 update to the phone's operating system, released in June 2010. . . .

UPDATE: Google also apparently keeps this data also and keeps even more detailed data such as the name of the phone user.

In the case of Google, according to new research by security analyst Samy Kamkar, an HTC Android phone collected its location every few seconds and transmitted the data to Google at least several times an hour. It also transmitted the name, location and signal strength of any nearby Wi-Fi networks, as well as a unique phone identifier. . . .

UPDATE: MSNBC goes off the deep end and claims that there is a racial bias to all this. How the fact that blacks are using their phones more often is irrelevant to this. This information is being collected whether one is using the phone or not as long as the phone is turned on.

“Well, look, you know, a lot of African-Americans and Latino-Americans are victims of racial profiling,” Wilson said. “We know that, you know we’re using these phones and are using the devices more frequently. So, this raised a huge issue. California Supreme Court just recently ruled that police officers can swipe or can take information from your cell phones upon arrest. So, we know that just by nature of the fact that we are stopped more, that we’re arrested more, that we’re going to be subject to this sort of technology more.” . . .

UPDATE: TomTom to Bar Police Data Use

The use by police of navigation equipment maker TomTom NV's data to position speed cameras looks to have been limited to the Netherlands, but the company still has to lay out more clearly how it protects the privacy of its customers, Chief Executive Harold Goddijn said.
Last week, it emerged that police in certain Dutch provinces used data collected by TomTom to better plan where to locate speed traps, causing an outcry in the country and forcing Mr. Goddijn to apologize in e-mails to its customers and in full-page advertisements in Dutch newspapers.
The company can't guarantee "a hundred percent" that the issue was limited to its home market of the Netherlands, but there is no indication right now that it occurred in other countries, Mr. Goddijn said in an interview Monday.
Meanwhile, the company's customers appreciated its "open communication" over the issue and doesn't expect its reputation to be harmed, he said. . . .

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So what is the value of Facebook's help to Obama?

Mark Zuckerberg and Chris Hughes had an extremely valuable role in getting Obama elected. Zuckerberg apparently spent a lot of hours working at the Obama campaign. For campaign finance regulations, how is the government supposed to value these contributions? From InventorSpot.com:

So was social networking responsible for Obama's successful political campaign? . . .

According to Fast Company, Hughes' key tool was My.BarackObama.com, or MyBO for short, a surprisingly intuitive and fun-to-use networking Web site that allowed Obama supporters to create groups, plan events, raise funds, download tools, and connect with one another -- not unlike a more focused, activist Facebook. MyBO also let the campaign reach its most passionate supporters cheaply and effectively. By the time the campaign was over, volunteers had created more than 2 million profiles on the site, planned 200,000 offline events, formed 35,000 groups, posted 400,000 blogs, and raised $30 million on 70,000 personal fund-raising pages.

All now agree, that is was because of the MyBarackObama.com site the tides turned in Barack Obama's favor. Raising more than $500 million through average donations of under $100, in addition to mobilizing new voters was the major tipping point for Obama's victory. . . .

The entire Fast Company story is available here and it is worth reading.

So if Facebook helps out Obama in this campaign, is that a campaign contribution? Can companies just hold mass meetings for candidates? How is providing Facebook access any different than providing a campaign plane to meet voters? Will Facebook be as favorable to Republican presidential candidates as they are to Obama? Is Facebook a media outlet like a newspaper or just another company?

President Barack Obama and Facebook both have a lot to gain when he holds a town hall meeting at the company’s Palo Alto headquarters Wednesday.

Obama can burnish his high-tech, “win the future” image by tying himself to Facebook ahead of the 2012 campaign. And Facebook can signal that it’s a serious player on the national stage by hosting the president ahead of a much-expected IPO. . . .

Facebook is downplaying the partisan aspects of Obama’s visit Wednesday. In a statement, a Facebook spokesman said: “We’re honored that President Obama will be visiting Facebook next week and will be using our platform to communicate directly with an international audience. More broadly, we’re heartened that political figures are using Facebook to organize and reach people in a direct, personal, simple way that was unimaginable a decade ago.” . . .

But the company isn’t blind to political reality — and it has shown some sensitivity to the notion that it’s taking sides. . . .

Obama used Facebook in his 2008 campaign with the help of a Facebook co-founder who took a leave of absence to join the campaign. Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg, who used to be at Google, sits on the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. In February, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg ditched his hoodie for a necktie and had dinner with Obama and other Valley leaders at the home of venture capitalist John Doerr. . . .


Obama still doesn't get it on economics

Reuters writes: "Obama blames speculators for rising fuel prices"

Obama doesn't understand that "speculators" smooth the swings in prices. Speculators make money by eliminating price differences over time. If they think that prices will rise, they buy oil now and store it to sell when those higher prices arise. If prices don't rise, those speculators LOSE money, losing their OWN money. Obviously there is a lot of turmoil in the Middle East. If Saudi Arabia has political trouble or other oil countries have problems, what happens to the price of oil then? BY storing some oil in case those events occur, speculators will make oil available when that short fall occurs.

President Barack Obama on Tuesday blamed speculators for driving gasoline prices higher and straining American consumers, saying there was enough oil in world markets to meet demand.

Speaking at a community college in suburban Virginia, Obama said increasing production of U.S. oil and creating a market for fuel-efficient cars would help meet the country's energy challenges. . . .

Rising fuel prices are a persistent concern for the White House, which is concerned about their impact on the economy and on voters' wallets as Obama runs for re-election.

Average U.S. gasoline prices hit $3.84 a gallon last week, the most expensive since August 2008, as oil prices have soared above $100 a barrel. . . .

Obama said that global oil supply is adequate and that speculators are driving up prices significantly.

"It is true that a lot of what's driving oil prices up right now is not the lack of supply. There's enough supply. There's enough oil out there for world demand," Obama said.

"The problem is ... speculators and people make various bets, and they say, you know what, we think that maybe there's a 20 percent chance that something might happen in the Middle East that might disrupt oil supply, so we're going to bet that oil is going to go up real high. And that spikes up prices significantly." . . .

Here is the transcript of part of his talk.

Now, I wish I could tell you that there was some easy, simple solution to this. It is true that a lot of what’s driving oil prices up right now is not the lack of supply. There’s enough supply. There’s enough oil out there for world demand. The problem is, is that oil is sold on these world markets, and speculators and people make various bets, and they say, you know what, we think that maybe there’s a 20 percent chance that something might happen in the Middle East that might disrupt oil supply, so we’re going to bet that oil is going to go up real high. And that spikes up prices significantly.

We’re now in a position where we can investigate if there’s unfair speculation. We’re going to be monitoring gas stations to make sure there isn’t any price gouging that’s taking advantage of consumers. But the truth is that it is a world commodity, and when prices spike up like this there aren’t a lot of short-term solutions. What we have are medium- and long-term solutions.

Now, one solution is making sure that we’re increasing production of U.S. oil. And we have actually continually increased U.S. production, so U.S. production is as high as it’s ever been. The problem is we only have about 2 to 3 percent of the world’s oil reserves, and we use 25 percent of the world’s oil. So when you say we should be using traditional sources, the problem is we’ve got finite sources when it comes to oil. And that means we’ve got to find some replacements. . . .

UPDATE: More on speculators from the Obama.

President Barack Obama said Thursday that the Justice Department will try to "root out" cases of fraud or manipulation in oil markets, even as Attorney General Eric Holder suggested a variety of legal reasons may be behind gasoline's surge to $4 a gallon.

"We are going to make sure that no one is taking advantage of the American people for their own short-term gain," Obama said at a town-hall style meeting at a renewable energy plant in Reno.

The national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline was $3.84 on Thursday, about 30 cents higher than a month ago and almost a dollar higher than a year ago.

Obama, decrying such levels as yet another hardship "at a time when things were already pretty tough," said Holder was forming the Financial Fraud Enforcement Working Group.

The task force will focus some of its investigation on "the role of traders and speculators" in the oil-price surge Obama said. The group will include several Cabinet department officials, federal regulators and the National Association of Attorneys General.

In Washington, Holder said he would press ahead with the investigation, even though he did not cite any current evidence of intentional manipulation of oil and gas prices or fraud.

"Based upon our work and research to date, it is evident that there are regional differences in gasoline prices, as well as differences in the statutory and other legal tools at the government's disposal," Holder said in a memo accompanying a statement announcing the task force. "It is also clear that there are lawful reasons for increases in gas prices, given supply and demand."

"Nonetheless, where consumers are harmed by unlawful conduct that has the effect of increasing gas prices, state and federal authorities will take swift action," Holder said. . . .

The AP article also made this inaccurate claim:

There's not much Obama can do to affect the price of gasoline in short term, something he acknowledged in his remarks. Gas prices have risen steadily as a result of tensions in the Middle East and northern Africa and rising demand from China and other emerging economies. . . .

The reason that this is inaccurate is simple: greater future supplies of gas increase current gas supplies. Just as higher future prices cause people to save gas to make it available when prices are expected to be high, the reverse is also true. Lower future prices mean that there is little reason to save gas for the future and existing inventories will be run down.

Here is part of his speech on Thursday.

"Last month, I asked my attorney general to look into any cases of price gouging, so we can make sure no one’s being taken advantage of at the pump. Today, we’re going a step further. The attorney general’s putting together a team whose job it will be to root out any cases of fraud or manipulation in the oil markets that might affect gas prices — and that includes the role of traders and speculators. We are going to make sure that no one is taking advantage of the American people for their own short-term gain." . . .

Some of the political fallout is discussed here. It isn't true that something can't be done in the short-run. Greater future supplies will reduce prices in the future and that in turn will reduce prices today. You don't have to wait for the supply to show up to reduce prices.

House Republicans are planning bill introductions, hearings, markups and floor votes on legislation aimed at expanding domestic oil production in response to high gasoline prices.

The plain truth that there is realistically nothing Congress can do in the short- or mid-term to affect gas prices won’t get in the way of both parties trying to score political points by complaining the other is not addressing the problem.

"The White House and the rest of the Democrats who run Washington are terrified about the political impact of gas prices, because many of their policies — like the national energy tax — are explicitly designed to raise energy prices,” said Michael Steel, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner.

Obama on Thursday pointed to high gasoline prices for his sagging poll numbers. "My poll numbers go up and down depending on the latest crisis and right now gas prices are weighing heavily on people," he said at a Los Angeles fundraiser. . . .

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Stossel on "Are Undercover Video Stings Ethical?"

His show on this will air this Thursday at 10 PM.



Michael Barone: Obama's Gangster Government

Michael Barone doesn't mince words:

Most important, it requires the General Accounting Office to conduct an audit of the waivers from the Democrats' health care bill that are being issued in large numbers by the secretary of health and human services.
This will raise an uncomfortable question. If Obamacare is so great, why are so many trying to get out from under it? And, more specifically, why are so many Democratic groups trying to get out from under it?
The fact is that HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has granted more than 1,000 waivers from Obamacare. Many have been granted to labor unions. Some have been granted to giant corporations like McDonald's. One was granted to the entire state of Maine.
By what criteria is this relief being granted? That's unclear, and the GAO audit should produce some answers. But what it looks like to an outsider is that waivers are being granted to constituencies that have coughed up money (or, in the case of Maine, four electoral votes) to the Democrats.
If so, what we're looking at is another example of gangster government in this administration. The law in its majesty applies to everyone except those who get special favors.
The GAO has also been ordered to produce audits on the effect of Obamacare on health insurance premiums. This is likely to reveal that the president did not keep his promise that you could keep your current health insurance if you want to.
And there will be an audit of the comparative effectiveness bureaucracy established in the 2009 stimulus package. Comparative effectiveness is supposedly an objective study of which medical techniques are most effective. But anyone who looks closely finds that the experts are constantly changing their minds, which suggests that this is more alchemy than science -- and maybe political favoritism, as well.
All of which tends to undercut the thrust of Obama's obviously-aimed-at-the-2012-campaign message: We can continue to fund Medicare and Medicaid indefinitely if we just tax rich people a little more. . . .

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Politics even enters the sale of the Government held GM Stock

This is probably one case where it is good that politics entered the picture, but still it shows how politics is always involved. Note that this discussion of the loss is always based on the "$50 billion rescue of the Detroit auto maker in 2009."

The U.S. government plans to sell a significant share of its remaining stake in General Motors Co. this summer despite the disappointing performance of the auto maker's stock, people familiar with the matter said.

A sale within the next several months would almost certainly mean U.S. taxpayers will take a loss on their $50 billion rescue of the Detroit auto maker in 2009.

To break even, the U.S. Treasury would need to sell its remaining stake—about 500 million shares—at $53 apiece. GM closed off 27 cents a share at $29.97 in 4 p.m. trading Monday on the New York Stock Exchange, hitting a new low since its $33-a-share November initial public offering. . . .

Government officials are willing to take the loss because the Obama administration would like to sever its last ties to the auto maker, the people familiar with the matter said. A summer sale makes it more likely Treasury could sell all of its stake in GM by year's end, avoiding a potentially controversial sale in the 2012 presidential election year. . . .

Ignored are the $45 billion in tax benefits given out shortly before the IPO was issued for company stock last year. Does anyone not believe that this announcement increased the price for the GM stock? What about also the "Cash for Clunkers" program?

General Motors Co. will drive away from its U.S.-government-financed restructuring with a final gift in its trunk: a tax break that could be worth as much as $45 billion.

GM, which plans to begin promoting its relisting on the stock exchange to investors this week, wiped out billions of dollars in debt, laid off thousands of employees and jettisoned money-losing brands during its U.S.-funded reorganization last year.

Now it turns out, according to documents filed with federal regulators, the revamping left the car maker with another boost as it prepares to return to the stock market. It won't have to pay $45.4 billion in taxes on future profits.

The tax benefit stems from so-called tax-loss carry-forwards and other provisions, which allow companies to use losses in prior years and costs related to pensions and other expenses to shield profits from U.S. taxes for up to 20 years. In GM's case, the losses stem from years prior to when GM entered bankruptcy.

Usually, companies that undergo a significant change in ownership risk having major restrictions put on their tax benefits. The U.S. bailout of GM, in which the Treasury took a 61% stake in the company, ordinarily would have resulted in GM having such limits put on its tax benefits, according to tax experts.

But the federal government, in a little-noticed ruling last year, decided that companies that received U.S. bailout money under the Troubled Asset Relief Program won't fall under that rule.

Note that now GM's stock is around $29 a share. Last fall I wrote:

The administration hopes that if GM's stock can rise from $33 per share to $52.79, a 60 percent increase, the government will be able to break even. . . .

UPDATE: The AFP gets it wrong on the losses because they ignore the $45 billion tax gift.

A report that the US government plans to sell off much of its remaining stake in General Motors this year despite the firm's lackluster share price caused investors to flee the stock Tuesday.
After the Wall Street Journal reported a government sale could come within the next six months, GM's shares fell by nearly 1.3 percent to end at $29.59.
The government sale would "almost certainly" mean that US taxpayers would take a loss from a politically controversial $50 billion rescue of the auto giant in 2009, according to the paper.
The government would need to sell its roughly 500 million shares for $53 dollars each in order to break even, but GM's stock is currently hovering at a price of just under $30 per share.
At the current price, the government would lose more than $11 billion, but the Obama administration is willing to accept the loss in order to cut its last ties to the auto manufacturer, the newspaper said, citing unnamed sources.
The summer sale would make it more likely that the government could unload the remainder of its shares before the 2012 election season. . . .

UPDATE 2: What is also ignored are all the protections that GM is getting from everything that happened prior to the bankruptcy.

General Motors Co (GM.N) is seeking to dismiss a lawsuit over a suspension problem on more than 400,000 Chevrolet Impalas from the 2007 and 2008 model years, saying it should not be responsible for repairs because the flaw predated its bankruptcy. . . .

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The mean Obama, again

Does Obama come off as a mean person? I think that more people are hopefully finally getting to see this less appealing side of him. How about this interview with a reporter from Texas?
President Obama has troubles with voters in Texas, and, apparently, with interviewers from the Lone Star State as well.

"Let me finish my answers the next time we do an interview, all right?" Obama told reporter Brad Watson after an interview with WFAA-TV of Dallas, one of four interviews with local television stations at the White House on Monday.

The exchange is toward the end of the video.

At one point, Watson asked the president: "Why do you think you're so unpopular in Texas?"

After some jousting about the size of his loss in Texas in 2008 -- the president said it was "a few percentage points," but it was more like 11.8% -- Obama told his interviewer: "If what you're telling me is that Texas is a conservative state, you're absolutely right." . . .
UPDATE: Politico headlines this "The outburst heard 'round the world'"
When the even-keeled and cool President Obama gets prickly in public, it never goes unnoticed.

For Obama, who has carefully cultivated a reputation of easily managing confrontations with people who disagree with him, these moments are as rare as they are revealing of the person behind the presidency.

So it’s no surprise that Washington took notice when after a tense interview with a Texas TV reporter on Monday, Obama unclipped his microphone with no smile in sight, and tersely warned, “Let me finish my answers next time we do an interview, all right?”

The president of the United States was not happy. Obama had been corrected (he lost Texas by 12 points, not “a few,” in 2008), he was accused of punishing the state for political reasons (he denied that the White House had any part in the decision not to award a space shuttle to Houston), and he was challenged with the most basic of political questions: Why are you so unpopular in Texas? . . .

The problem: The reporter’s questions weren’t particularly difficult, but they were clearly not what Obama was expecting. The result was a viral video that depicted Obama as angry when faced with tough questioning. And it unveiled some of the degree to which the White House would like to control its message. . . .

Pfeiffer was asked by Time reporter Michael Scherer, “So will WFAA's Brad Watson get another interview one day?”

Instead of quickly taking the high road, Pfeiffer suggested that Watson may truly be out in the cold after irritating the president. And he did it by revealing yet another trick of Washington communications: playing one news outlet against its rival. . . .

This isn't the only problem that Obama has had with local reporters going off the approved script.

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Newest Fox News piece: Don't Single Out Standard & Poor's for Being 'Political'

My newest Fox News piece starts this way:

If you think it's hard now to balance the budget, just wait until our credit rating gets trashed. Monday’s warning from the Standard & Poor’s rating agency -- that the U.S. government’s credit rating could be revised downward -- produced a firestorm in Washington. Republicans called it a "wake-up call," while the Obama administration's chief economist, Austan Goolsbee, lambasted Standard & Poor’s actions as purely "political."

Credit ratings aren’t just a matter of national pride. Less dependable, risky borrowers have to pay a higher interest rate to get people to buy their bonds. Right now the our government only has to pay 3.4% annual interest to borrow money for 10 years. But for countries who have had trouble paying their debts, interest rates are much higher. Portugal is forced to pay 9.1%, Ireland 9.8%, and Greece 14.6%.

But America's financial problems are catching up to what these other countries face all too quickly. . . .

For those interested, as of today, the debt per taxpayer is $128,650. The debt per citizen is $45,978 and per family of four it is $183,912.

UPDATE: "Obama administration officials tried to keep S&P rating at ‘stable’"

Is this appropriate behavior for the US government?

The Obama administration privately urged Standard & Poor’s in recent weeks not to lower its outlook on the United States — a suggestion the ratings agency ignored Monday, two people familiar with the matter said. . . .

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My son Roger tries to explain some basic economics to Dartmouth students

Roger's latest piece for the Dartmouth school paper is available here. To me the points seem obvious: 1) the large aid programs impact incentives to save and 2) the subsidies are going to the future well to do (even if students come from currently poor families). It starts this way:

Thanks to Dartmouth’s outstanding financial aid program, my family and I pay only a small fraction of the College’s sticker price. While I’m grateful to have been handed the world’s finest undergraduate opportunities at so little personal cost, it’s unsettling to realize that in one year I’m sponging tens of thousands of dollars of other people’s money. As much as I like Dartmouth, I can’t say I value being here enough to justify the massive burden the College is bearing on my behalf. It may be time to make selfish free-riders like myself assume more financial responsibility for their educations.

Dramatic increases in grant-based financial aid have led to widening disparity in the prices students pay to attend Dartmouth. The growth in spending on need-based undergraduate scholarships from about $30 million in 2000-2001 to a projected $80 million in 2011-2012 has led to greater assistance for some, but has presumably contributed to the simultaneous rise in cost of attendance from $33,210 to $55,365. As noble as it is to want to help those with less, the College wouldn’t need to charge students from wealthier backgrounds so exorbitantly if others had to carry more of their own weight.

Those who pay full price have valid reason for resentment. . . .

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The mean Obama

I never thought that Obama was a nice guy when I knew him at the University of Chicago Law School. Possibly other Americans are beginning to see the same person that I knew. Some points:
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin accepted Obama's offer to attend Obama's budget speech at George Washington University last Wednesday.
With Ryan in the audience, Obama made "false claims [that will] poison the debate and make serious budget cutting very difficult to accomplish." Obama attacked George Bush, congressional Republicans, and businesses and taxpayers.
On Thursday, Obama attacked Ryan personally this way: "When Paul Ryan says his priority is to make sure he's just being America's accountant, that he's being responsible, I mean this is the same guy that voted for two wars that were unpaid for, voted for the Bush tax cuts that were unpaid for, voted for the prescription drug bill that cost as much as my health care bill -- but wasn't paid for. So it's not on the level."
Of course, all of Obama's claims here were false. The deficit during 2007, the last year that Republicans had control of the Congress and the presidency was less than $170 billion. The prescription drug plan Ryan supported cost half as much as the Democratic alternative then on the table. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars under President Bush were regularly funded by Congress.

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Democrats supposedly never Demonized Republicans During Budget Battle

Maher: Democrats Didn't Use Any Violent Rhetoric Towards Republicans During Budget Battle

From the incoming Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz: Wasserman-Schultz stands by claim that GOP budget would "literally be a death trap for seniors". Question: where was this language when the Democrats cut $500 billion from Medicaid?
Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY): "Now they’re here to kill women.”
USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah: GOP budget would kill 70,000 children
Congressional Democrats uncover Republican plot to given them and their constituents cancer



White House attacks S&P rating as "political"

The White House puts forward a new plan that last week that does nothing to cut the deficit. We face huge deficits, and S&P is belatedly facing the obvious. While Republicans see this as a "wakeup call," the Obama administration still really just doesn't take the problems serious and call the S&P actions "political."

Standard & Poor's move to lower the company's outlook on the long-term rating of the U.S. sovereign debt to negative may have caught investors by surprise, but Michael Pento, senior economist with Euro Pacific Capital, has been making this case for years.
"It's not a surprise to me," Pento says of Standard & Poor's revision. "It's clearly late. But at least S&P is now waking up to the fact that the American sovereign debt picture is unsustainable and eventually we have to default on our debt in some form."
Just how late is S&P's revision to its outlook of U.S. debt?
"I heard that the ratings agencies just downgraded the Titanic's chances of crossing the Atlantic," Pento jokes.
Being late to the game is not a new criticism of credit ratings agencies like Standard & Poor's, Moody's and Fitch Ratings. They have been hammered for their role in the financial crisis, with critics arguing that the agencies were negligent for continuing to rate securities of subprime-related loans highly even as the market deteriorated. Once again, they are being lambasted for their inability to be forward looking.
In the report released Monday, S&P analysts write that there is a "material risk that U.S. policymakers might not reach an agreement on how to address medium- and long-term budgetary challenges by 2013."
If an agreement is not reached and meaningful implementation is not begun by then, S&P analyst Nikola Swann writes, the U.S. fiscal profile would be rendered "meaningfully weaker than that of peer 'AAA' sovereigns.". . .

So what does the Obama administration say?

In an interview with CNBC, Austan Goolsbee, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, characterized the S&P move as a “political judgement.”
“What the S&P is doing is making a political judgement and it’s one we don’t agree with, and it appeared to me that Moody’s and some others don’t agree with that judgement,” Goolsbee said.
The U.S. Treasury also voiced disagreement with the S&P revision.
“…We believe S&P’s negative outlook underestimates the ability of America’s leaders to come together to address the difficult fiscal challenges facing the nation,” Treasury Assistant Secretary Mary Miller said in a statement. . . .

Douglas E. Schoen argues that Obama just really is all rhetoric and nothing more on cutting the deficit.

To date, President Obama’s strategy on ‘fiscal responsibility’ has been to say most of the right things, most of the time, but do as little as possible. This tactic, after all, had long proved a political winner. But as others began stepping up to face the nation’s looming crisis, the backbench approach just appeared weak.
In an attempt to regain fiscal credibility, the president on Wednesday revealed what was advertised as his plan for deficit reduction. . . .
Regrettably, the president chose instead to tell Americans not what they needed to hear, but what they wanted to hear: we can keep on spending like we have been because, well, we’re Americans and we deserve it. While that may be a comforting thought, the reality of following such a plan will certainly not be so sweet. . . .

DeMint tries to bring some sanity to the situation by threatening to filibuster on debt ceiling increase.

Throwing down the gauntlet, Republican Sen. Jim DeMint threatened Monday to block a vote in Congress on raising the U.S. debt ceiling unless he wins a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution.
The filibuster threat comes a day after Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner suggested Republican leaders had offered private assurances to the White House that they ultimately would vote to raise the $14.3 trillion ceiling, regardless of whether a deal is reached on long-term spending cuts.
Publicly, Republicans say they will demand spending cuts as a condition for supporting a hike in the debt ceiling. They stood by that claim following Geithner's comments, and DeMint took their demands a step further.
"I will oppose any attempt to vote to raise the limit on our $14 trillion debt until Congress passes the balanced-budget amendment," the South Carolina conservative said. He first made the remarks to McClatchy, which his office confirmed to Fox News. . . .

The S&P reports are available here and here.


Is Obama really serious about cutting the deficit?


Atlas Shrugged Part 1 is Awesome

I saw Atlas Shrugged over the weekend (I actually saw it twice) and I thought that it was great. Movie review critics have been vicious, big surprise given their liberal biases, and all the more reason that I hope that people give this movie a real chance. The trailer is available here. A positive review of Atlas Shrugged 1 is available here.

But what about the movie itself? There’s no big name actors (unless you count genre actor Armin Shimerman from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Deep Space Nine”) and a very small budget. Yet a story told from the point of view that rich guys are trying to save society while an apathetic government is content to let it lapse into ruin is itself highly unusual and does make one think. This is a thought-provoking film that asks you to use your brains instead of enduring explosions, car chases, and weapons fire, meaning that, by definition, it was never intended to be a mainstream film. The director, Paul Johansson, is himself credited for playing the mysterious John Galt, not to mention that this is part one of three (as the book is reportedly 1100 pages.) For what they had to work with and what was accomplished, the film succeeds in creating heroes of the main characters, making the mystery of John Galt’s designs and motivations compelling, and most importantly, setting up the remaining two parts of the trilogy.



It is always the end of the world with the Obama administration and raising the debt limit is no different

Failing to raise the debt limit is not the same thing as producing a default. It isn't even close. Failure to raise the debt ceiling simply means that government spending will be limited to the revenue that the government brings in and that no new debt can be issued. That doesn't imply a default.

Geithner said the consequences of failing to raise the debt limit, and an ensuing default, would be worse than the deep recession the country is still climbing out of.

"We’d tip the U.S. economy and the world economy back into recession, depression," he said. "It would make the last crisis look like a tame, modest crisis. It would have a permanent devastating damage on our creditworthiness as a country."

Geithner said "no responsible person" would court that kind of "tragedy," but in what may have been an allusion to President Barack Obama's 2006 vote as an Illinois senator against increasing the debt limit, the Treasury secretary added: "There's been a little bit of a tradition that people play politics with this."

Last week, Obama said his opposition to a debt limit raise in 2006 was a mistake. . . .