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Are Democrats panicking over Obama's economic disaster?
When the New York Times runs an article like this either Democrats are really panicking or it is part of some strategy to make it look like Obama is coming back.
Democrats are expressing growing alarm about President Obama’s re-election prospects and, in interviews, are openly acknowledging anxiety about the White House’s ability to strengthen the president’s standing over the next 14 months. . . .
But a survey of two dozen Democratic officials found a palpable sense of concern that transcended a single week of ups and downs. The conversations signaled a change in mood from only a few months ago, when Democrats widely believed that Mr. Obama’s path to re-election, while challenging, was secure. . . .
His own economic advisers concede that the unemployment rate, currently 9.1 percent, is unlikely to drop substantially over the next year, creating a daunting obstacle to re-election. . . .
For all the hand-wringing among Democrats, some party leaders say Mr. Obama has time to reverse his slipping fortunes — but not much. . . .
For some reason I suspect that Time Magazine will not be running an article correcting Obama's mistake. The media is always correcting mistakes that Republicans make, but they seem to constantly ignore mistakes made by Democrats. However, I thought that this is one fact that everyone knew.
"He gives a good speech, but he’s loose with the facts. He called Abraham Lincoln the ‘founder’ of the Republican Party. Nope. Lincoln was not the founder of the party; he wasn’t even the first Republican nominee (John Fremont was, in 1856). Lincoln was, of course, the first Republican to be elected president.” - Jay Carney, TIME Magazine bureau chief, on Mike Huckabee’s GOP Convention Speech, September 3, 2008 “We all remember Abraham Lincoln as the leader who saved our union. Founder of the Republican Party.” - President Barack Obama, address to Congress, September 8, 2011 Hat tip to Byron York. – Jake Tapper
"We all remember Abraham Lincoln as the leader who saved our Union. But in the middle of a Civil War, he was also a leader who looked to the future - a Republican president who mobilized government to build the transcontinental railroad; launch the National Academy of Sciences; and set up the first land grant colleges. And leaders of both parties have followed the example he set." . . .
Half of Democrats think that the economy is in bad shape
Rasmussen Reports has these findings. 49% of Democrats think that the economy is in poor shape. 23% of Democrats say their finances are getting better while 48% say they are getting worse. Republicans and Independents are much more depressed and pessimistic.
Let's face it, a one time $4,000 tax break per employee may be a good sound bite, but it is small compared to the cost of hiring the worker
Firms find it costly to fire workers. A one time $4,000 payment may make some difference, but you are only going to make permanent hires if you think that the jobs will last and that depends on demand for the products. From the NY Times.
. . . many employers dismissed the notion that any particular tax break or incentive would be persuasive. Instead, they said they tended to hire more workers or expand when the economy improved.
Companies are focused on jittery consumer confidence, an unstable stock market, perceived obstacles to business expansion like government regulation and, above all, swings in demand for their products.
“You still need to have the business need to hire,” said Jeffery Braverman, owner of Nutsonline, an e-commerce company in Cranford, N.J., that sells nuts and dried fruit. While a $4,000 credit could offset the cost of the company’s lowest-cost health insurance plan, he said, it would not spur him to hire someone. “Business demand is what drives hiring,” he said. . . .
Chesapeake Energy, one of the biggest explorers of oil and gas in shale fields across the country, for example, said it had 800 positions open, and had already received tax credits for hiring the long-term unemployed.
But Michael Kehs, vice president for strategic affairs and public relations, said in an e-mail that the credit “does not drive our hiring.” . . .
Romney makes up claims about Texas in debate with Perry
Romney is simply wrong when he makes this claim about Perry and Bush.
ROMNEY: Look, the reality is, there are differences. There are differences between states.
I came into a state that was in real trouble -- a huge budget gap, losing jobs every month. We turned it around. Three out of four years, we had unemployment rate below the national average, we ended up with 4.7 percent unemployment rate. I'm proud of what we were able to do in a tough situation.
PERRY: I know back and forth -- Michael Dukakis created jobs three times faster than you did, Mitt.
ROMNEY: Well, as a matter of fact, George Bush and his predecessor created jobs at a faster rate than you did, Governor.
PERRY: That's not correct.
ROMNEY: Yes, that is correct.
During Bush's administration, Texas employment grew by 963,243. That is less than during Perry's tenure when it grew by 1,774,799. But Perry was governor for 10.58 years and Bush for only 6 years. At an annual rate, it grew by 160,541 under Bush and 167,748 under Perry.
Did FBI help conceal evidence that third Gunwalker gun was at the scene where border agent was killed?
You have multiple government agencies within the Justice Department involved in this scandal and Holder wants to argue that no political appointees outside the BATFE knew what was going on? From Fox News:
Sources say emails support their contention that the FBI concealed evidence to protect a confidential informant. Sources close to the Terry case say the FBI informant works inside a major Mexican cartel and provided the money to obtain the weapons used to kill Terry. Unlike the two AK-style assault weapons found at the scene, the third weapon could more easily be linked to the informant. To prevent that from happening, sources say, the third gun "disappeared." In addition to the emails obtained by Fox News, an audio recording from a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent investigating the Terry case seems to confirm the existence of a third weapon. In that conversation, the agent refers to an "SKS assault rifle out of Texas" found at the Terry murder scene south of Tucson. The FBI refused to answer a detailed set of questions submitted to officials by Fox News. Instead, agency spokesman Paul Bresson said, "The Brian Terry investigation is still ongoing so I cannot comment." Bresson referred Fox News to court records that only identify the two possible murder weapons. . . .
Back to post. No discussion about where the money comes from and what jobs are lost because of that. A copy of Obama's speech is available here. From Michael Barone:
He called for further cuts in the payroll tax (which if continued indefinitely would undermine the case of Social Security as something people have earned rather than a form of welfare) and for a further extension of unemployment insurance (perhaps justifiable on humanitarian grounds, but sure to at least marginally raise the unemployment rate over what it would otherwise be). He called for a tax credit for hiring the long-term unemployed (unfortunately, these things can be gamed). He gave a veiled plug for his pet project of high-speed rail (a real dud) and for infrastructure spending generally (but didn’t he learn that there aren’t really any shovel-ready projects?). He called for a school modernization program (will it result in more jobs than the Seattle weatherization program that cost $22 million and produced 14 jobs?) and for funding more teacher jobs (a political payoff to the teacher unions which together with other unions gave Democrats $400 million in the 2008 campaign cycle). “We’ll set up an independent fund to attract private dollars and issue loans based on two criteria: how badly a construction project is needed and how much good it would do for the country.” Yeah, sure. Like the screening process that produced that $535,000,000 loan guarantee to now-bankrupt Solyndra. And Congress should pass the free trade agreements with Panama, Colombia and South Korea. Except that Congress can’t, because Obama hasn’t sent them up there yet in his 961 days as president. . . .
If the administration was serious about paying for the debt, they wouldn't put off the budget cuts for so many years after Obama will no longer be in office. From Politico:
. . . “Is it at the cost of our deficit? Is this another stimulus?” Gene Sperling, one of Obama’s top advisers, was asked on Fox News Friday morning.
“As we said, this is going to be paid for, every single penny,” Sperling answered. “Those of us who work on the president’s economic team have worked at the same time and are working on the details right now on how exactly we will pay for this and still have the additional deficit reduction to hit the commitment of Congress, the congressional bipartisan agreement, and, most importantly, to get our debt stabilized.”
He also added that while Obama’s plan includes asking the rich to pay more, this is “not out of class warfare,” but rather “just to make sure we have a shared sacrifice.” . . .
Dems still pushing for increased taxes. A week from this coming Monday Obama will explain how he is going to raise taxes to pay for his programs.
Temporary tax cuts may cause people to temporarily work harder, but they don’t lead to much investment and the claim is that it doesn't do much for job creation. Government spending doesn't create new wealth. But even if you believe that this creates new spending and jobs, the long lead times involved, infrastructure spending is an odd way to combat a double dip that might be starting right now. Much of the job subsidies often go to companies that would have hired the people anyway. The plurality of the people hired under the last stimulus package already had jobs and, as I have predicted since February 2009, they were just switching from one to another.
Obama administration floods reporters' inboxes after Obama's jobs speech (available here).
Solar energy requires that you be able to store the energy for after the sun sets requires batteries. Massive battery production means more dealing with lead, and thus more lead pollution. See an extended discussion here:
Solar power plants stand as major culprits in lead emissions and lead poisoning in India and China, according to a study conducted by a University of Tennessee-Knoxville professor Chris Cherry. Solar plants make significant use of lead batteries. . . .
How Democrats run Tax Policy: The Example of Connecticut
Raise Taxes and they decide what businesses you want. I disagree with the WSJ that this policy is arbitrary. If you want an example of how of this not being arbitrary, look at how Obama rewarded a campaign contributor with a half billion dollar very low interest loan to Solyndra.
For the latest instruction in arbitrary tax policy, we turn to Connecticut, where Governor Dannel Malloy is opening the state's coffers to retain businesses ready to bolt his new tax regime. Mr. Malloy has promised $20 million of forgivable state loans to UBS AG if it keeps at least 2,000 jobs in the Nutmeg State for five years.
Look for a line to form outside the Governor's office. Mr. Malloy parlayed a narrow election victory in November into a $2.6 billion new tax increase this spring, the biggest in state history. Key among the dozens of targets are state businesses. A "temporary" 10% corporate tax surcharge signed in 2009 by former Republican Governor Jodi Rell was extended, hitching Connecticut corporations with annual gross income of $100 million with a 20% surcharge for 2012 and 2013.
Mr. Malloy now says the state is "open for business," though it sure helps if the Governor likes your business. Under his "First Five" initiative, he offered tax perks to the first five businesses that brought 200 jobs to Connecticut within two years or pledged $25 million investment plus 200 jobs within five years. The lucky winners include health insurer Cigna Corp, sports network ESPN and a company called TicketNetwork, which will each get tens of millions in tax incentives. . . .
"Holder Denies Prior Knowledge of 'Fast and Furious'"
So you have something that involved the BATFE, the FBI, and the DEA, but no one above those agencies involved? Even if Holder and others can convince people that they aren't involved, shouldn't they have been? What about the coverup? Isn't that often considered worse than the original crime and hasn't there been testimony by people at the BATFE that they were ordered not to provide information by higher ups at DOJ? From Fox News:
The head of the U.S. Justice Department launched his strongest personal defense yet in the growing furor over Operation Fast and Furious, the controversial sting targeting Mexican drug cartels and American gunrunners. On Wednesday, Attorney General Eric Holder said for the first time that not only he but also other higher-ups at the Justice Department were not aware of the operation as it was being carried out. Holder also suggested politics could be a driving force behind Republican lawmakers' forceful inquiries into the matter. "The notion that somehow or other this thing reaches into the upper levels of the Justice Department is something that. ... I don't think is supported by the facts," Holder told reporters at an unrelated press conference in Washington. "It's kind of something I think certain members of Congress would like to see, the notion that somehow or other high-level people in the department were involved. As I said, I don't think that is going to be shown to be the case -- which doesn't mean that the mistakes were not serious." A spokeswoman for the Republican leading a congressional investigation described Holder's comments as baseless "whining," and earlier Wednesday the House Republican himself said the issue is about more than who knew what, when. "Whenever you talk about human mistakes, you have to say, 'What was in the system that allowed that human mistake to go on and perpetuate itself?'" Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said on Fox News Channel. . . . "I believe it was his obligation to know, " Issa told Fox News in June. "The fact that there was a 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy in Eric Holder's office is to say really he wasn't doing his job." . . . .
Police have arrested a U.S. man for smuggling American grenade parts into Mexico for use by the Sinaloa cartel, and a U.S. official said the case has now been included in investigations into flawed law enforcement operations aimed at gun-trafficking networks on the Mexican border. The arrest of a man who Mexican police identified as Jean Baptiste Kingery has provided details on a network that allegedly supplied hundreds of hand grenades to Mexico's powerful Sinaloa cartel. Such grenades have been blamed in the injuries or deaths of dozens of civilians in Mexico, where grenades have been tossed into public squares, streets, bars and nightclubs. A U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives operation, known as Fast and Furious, was designed to track small-time gun buyers at several Phoenix-area gun shops up the chain to make cases against major weapons traffickers. But a congressional investigation says ATF agents of lost track of about 1,400 of the more than 2,000 guns whose purchase they had watched. In Washington D.C., Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said the department's inspector general has expanded that investigation to include the Kingery case. "The department is aware of concerns raised" about the Kingery case "and has been looking into it," said Schmaler. "We have notified Congress about this operation and offered to brief them on it." Schmaler did not say specifically why the greande-smuggling case was being investigated, but the Wall Street Journal reported that Kingery had been detained in Arizona in June 2010 and then released, purportedly because officials wanted to use him as an informant or in a sting operation. . . .
A useful comparison between the Great Depression and the current recession
The second myth here is particularly useful in that it points out the policies followed during the Great Depression made things worse. The useful comparison is between the US and other countries. That same point is relevant today as I have pointed out in several of my op-ed pieces and posts regarding Canada, Germany, and the rest of the world generally.
. . . . "Criminals should not have a greater right to life than us," said Rep. Jenn Coffey, an Andover Republican and women's self-defense advocate, flanked by about 50 people gathered in the Legislative Office Building in support of the bill. The state's senators are set to take up the override vote when their session opens at 1 p.m.
Senate Bill 88, which passed both houses by veto-proof margins, allows citizens to use deadly force in self-defense wherever they "have a right to be" without attempting to retreat from the situation, a provision that currently applies only to situations occurring in the victim's home or surrounding area. The bill also includes provisions related to the experience of Ward Bird, who was imprisoned for waving a gun at a woman on his property. Lynch has said he would sign those provisions into law separately, but Republican legislators say they want the entire bill to become law.
Yesterday's Republican press conference follows a public relations push by Lynch in recent weeks to see his veto of SB 88 stand. Backed by the top law enforcement officials in the state, the Democratic governor has visited local communities to argue that the bill will lead to more gang violence and avoidable homicides.
Lynch released a statement yesterday ahead of today's vote.
"This debate should not be about political wins or losses inside the State House. It is about public safety," Lynch said. "And it should not be about a political ideology.
"The only ideology of law enforcement is keeping us safe, and law enforcement from across the state and at all levels oppose this bill, because they say it will make our communities more dangerous." . . .
I was looking through some past articles on Krugman and I came across this piece that did a good job of summarizing my views on Krugman's after the Tucson shooting earlier this year. It was amazing that within just a couple hours after the attack, with no evidence, Krugman was already assigning blame.
HOW did a deadly shooting spree by a disturbed young man with the typically inscrutable politics of political killers turn into a crazy referendum on the state of American political discourse?
Mere minutes after the identity of the alleged Tucson gunman hit the wires, partisans began a reprehensible scramble to out Jared Loughner as ideological kin to their political opponents. Actually, well before that time, some left-leaning opinionators began suggesting that Sarah Palin's now-infamous crosshairs map probably had something to do with the shootings. At the very least, intemperately fiery right-wing rhetoric probably had something to do with creating a cultural "climate" unusually encouraging to would-be assassins. Before anybody really knew anything, some people seemed to have become convinced that if not for the heavy weather of partisan antagonism summoned by intemperate tea-party types, Gabrielle Giffords would not have got a bullet through the brain.
In a blog item on Saturday, before any significant details about Mr Loughner's motivations had come to light, Paul Krugman wrote:
You know that Republicans will yell about the evils of partisanship whenever anyone tries to make a connection between the rhetoric of Beck, Limbaugh, etc. and the violence I fear we’re going to see in the months and years ahead. But violent acts are what happen when you create a climate of hate. And it’s long past time for the GOP’s leaders to take a stand against the hate-mongers.
This struck me as irresponsibly premature, and one might have thought that, given a little more time and information, Mr Krugman would change his tune, or at least turn down the volume. Nope. . . .
The announcement by the World Economic Forum was the latest bad news for the Obama administration, which has been struggling to boost the sinking U.S. economy and lower an unemployment rate of more than 9 percent. Switzerland held onto the top spot for the third consecutive year in the annual ranking by the Geneva-based forum, which is best known for its exclusive meeting of luminaries in Davos, Switzerland, each January. Singapore moved up to second place, bumping Sweden down to third. Finland moved up to fourth place, from seventh last year. The U.S. was in fourth place last year, after falling from No. 1 in 2008. The rankings, which the forum has issued for more than three decades, are based on economic data and a survey of 15,000 business executives. The forum praised the U.S. for its productivity, highly sophisticated and innovative companies, excellent universities and flexible labor market. But it also cited "a number of escalating weaknesses" such as rising government debt and declining public faith in political leaders and corporate ethics. The results of a survey of 142 nations comes a day before Obama is preparing to tackle jobs issues in a speech to the U.S. Congress, and just as U.S. polls show a clear majority of those surveyed say they disapprove of the way Obama is handling the economy. . . .
It is often funny to see the media always coming up with explanations for even the tiniest changes in stock prices. Every day when the market closes the media gives a short sentence saying why the market went up or down. Now the market supposedly is going up a hundred points according to the future markets because of Obama's new "stimulus" plan?
U.S. stock futures pointed to a higher open amid speculation that President Obama will inject $300 billion into the economy to spur jobs growth. . . .
UPDATE: Notice that after Obama's new Stimulus speech on Thursday, September 8th, 2011, the market crashed, but the media barely mentioned that it was a response to Obama's speech. Granted events in Greece undoubtedly played an important role, but it could have been played as Obama's speech not stemming the concern.
Government work rules restrict what public employees can do, often in the name of safety. But critics say the rules have, over the years, been manipulated for political ends by bureaucrats and unions. Sometimes, the rules restrict public employees so much that they put lives in danger. From an incident in California in which police and firefighters watched as a man drowned himself, to a public school teacher in Texas who stood by as one of his pupils was beaten up by another student, government and union work policies have had tragic consequences. FoxNews.com takes a look at five of the most serious cases. 1) Firefighters Not Allowed to Save Drowning Man On Memorial Day -- . . .
Concern about costs are a fine reason to include in making foreign policy decisions. Concerns about short term political considerations is not so laudable. From Fox News:
The Obama administration has decided to drop the number of U.S. troops in Iraq at the end of the year down to 3,000, marking a major downgrade in force strength, multiple sources familiar with the inner workings and decisions on U.S. troop movements in Iraq told Fox News. . . .
The generals on the ground had requested that the number of troops remaining in Iraq at the end of the year reach about 27,000. But, there was major pushback about "the cost and the political optics" of that decision that the number was then reduced to 10,000. . . .
Apparently before 9 AM this morning a killer enter an IHOP in Carson City and killed three people, wounding seven others. I am posting this story because I willing to bet that this news story has the fact wrong about the killer having used an automatic weapon.
UPDATE: The killer himself died at the scene. UPDATE 1/18/2013: Apparently a fourth person died from the wounds that they sustained at this attack the day after the attack. UPDATE 10/30/2015: There have been a lot of claims regarding the IHOP shooting. Richard Bowen of Reno asked the sheriff there about some recent claims and published those findings in the Reno Gazette-Journal.
I received the following reply from my query made to Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong regarding this erroneous claim:
"Thanks Mr. Bowen. No, the Carson City Sheriff’s Office does NOT stand by this article/information (that is NOT contained in the final IHOP report). Based on what you’ve provided me, and I had to read it a couple of times to make sense of it, I cannot stand by the detail. What I get from this article is that someone is trying to make a point that may not be consistent with true data."
Ron Paul runs a pretty dishonest campaign ad against Rick Perry
This ad uses some subterfuge that is disheartening. First, on the theatrics, note that a young Ron Paul is shown with Reagan, but when Perry is linked with Al Gore, current pictures of Rick Perry are used. The obvious implication is that Rick Perry recently endorsed Al Gore for president, not long ago as it actually occurred in 1988, 23 years ago. The other thing that was left out was that when Gore ran for the presidency in 1988, he was considered the conservative Democrat in the race. Al Gore's views on gun control, abortion, and spending were much more conservative than they were later. It was basically after that run that Gore realized that the had to move well to the left if he was going to have a place in the national Democratic party, and it was before Gore went nutty on the environment. Rick Perry was still a Democrat at that time in 1988 and it was just before he switched parties to run as a Republican.
Germany and its Northern European allies believe only intense market pressure can force weak economies to cut spending and improve competitiveness. But Greece has learned that whenever the crisis in Europe's periphery threatens to overwhelm the core, Europe will ignore previous broken promises and step up with a fresh bailout.
Italy now appears to be making the same calculation. The government insists it will fulfill its commitment to balance the budget by 2013, but ministers show no appreciation of the urgent need for structural reforms to address the chronic weakness of an economy that grew on average 0.3% between 2001 and 2010 and experienced a 25% increase in unit labor costs relative to Germany over the same period. Instead, they talk incessantly of euro-zone bonds as a solution to misfortunes they blame largely on external forces. . . .
Greeks apparently believe that they have Europe and the world over a barrel, that they can make the rest of the world pay their bills by threatening to default. Greece’s default would be painful for everyone, but for Europe and the United States, indeed for the world, the alternative would be even worse. If politicians in Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Italy, and other countries think that their bills will be picked up by taxpayers in other countries, they won’t control their spending and they won’t sell off assets to pay off these debts. Countries such as Greece have to be convinced that they will bear a real cost if they don’t fix their financial houses while they still have the assets to cover their debts. . . .
Obama has been so consistently blaming Republicans in recent months for not approving the free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama that it came as an utter surprise to his deputy press secretary, Josh Earnest, that he hasn't sent them to Congress yet. . . .
Biden refers to Republicans as "the Barbarians" at the gates
"you are the only folks keeping the barbarians from the gates" "stop this onslaught" "the other side has declared war on labor's house"
"President Obama, this is your army. We are ready to march. Let's take these son of bitches out and give America back to an America where we belong." James Hoffa spoke before Obama, but Obama didn't reprimand Hoffa for the type of language used here. Realclearpolitics refers to this as "Hoffa Threatens GOP at Obama Event." In fact, Obama said that he was "proud" of Hoffa immediately after the union leader's remarks shown above. Obama's talk was not billed as a political talk so it was billed to the taxpayers to pay for its costs. Listen to this portion of the speech at the bottom of this page and tell me it was not a political speech.
MR. CARNEY: Mr. Hoffa speaks for himself. He speaks for the labor movement, the AFL-CIO. The President speaks for himself. I speak for the President.
What the President was glad to do yesterday was have the opportunity to present his views on the importance of working Americans and on the importance of taking measures to help working Americans --
Q Okay, so the precedent --
MR. CARNEY: -- to create jobs and grow the economy.
Q So the precedent you’re setting right now for the 2012 election is, the candidate -- the Republican candidates are the ones that we need to pay attention to, and those who introduce them at rallies, their surrogates -- you don’t have to pay attention to anything that they say.
MR. CARNEY: Jake, I really -- I think I’ve said what I can say about this.
Q I just -- is that the standard now?
MR. CARNEY: You can report it as you --
Q I’d rather not have to do this Washington Kabuki every time something happens --
MR. CARNEY: It’s up to you to do the Kabuki --
Q -- but if that’s the standard -- if that’s the standard, then --
MR. CARNEY: The standard is, we should focus on the actions we can take to grow the economy and create jobs, instead of focusing on Kabuki theater.
Q Did the President find the comments appropriate?
HOFFA: Everybody here's got to vote. If we go back and keep the eye on the prize, let's take these son of a bitches out and give America back to America where we belong! Thank you very much!
Listen to the video of the speech from above and see if Hoffa made the statement the way that everyone is reporting it. Hoffa might have made other statements, but surely this is the one that has gotten people upset. Media Matters seems to be willing to do anything to go after Fox News.
UPDATE 2: DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz refuses to criticize Hoffa's comments available here.
UPDATE: Someone in the UK had the same thoughts that I did. Obama calls Republicans on language when Democrats constantly use much worse language, yet he never specifically condemns Democrats for what they have said.
. . . But the statements today by Jimmy Hoffa Jr and Vice President Joe Biden demean the presidency and, tactically speaking, are stupid own goals. Hoffa, the Teamsters president, was warming up a Detroit crowd when he said: “President Obama, this is your army. We are ready to march. Let’s take these son of a bitches out and give America back to an America where we belong.” Biden, whose mouth has long been a liability for Obama, was at an AFL-CIO rally when he told union members: “You are the only folks keeping the barbarians from the gates…the other side has declared war on labour’s house.” These comments were not nearly as bad as the statement last week by Congressman Andre Carson last week that members of the Tea Party want black people “hanging from a tree”. Let’s not get too sanctimonious here – they’re fairly common sentiments behind the scenes on both sides of the political divide. The difference, of course, is that they were uttered publicly by someone chosen by the White House to introduce Obama and by the sitting vice-president at a time when Obama is calling for a bipartisan coming together to tackle the economy. To add to their foolishness, they follow on from Obama’s sensible call in January for “civility” in public discourse and for people to talk “in a way that heals, not a way that wounds”. Hoffa’s comments were much worse than Biden’s, though the vice-president’s demeanour suggests he could be a liability on the campaign trail (I’d wager there’s a campaign plan for him to be used only in “rev up the base” type events). Put together, they are embarrassing enough to require an apology from Obama. . . .
What impact did the German regional election have on German stocks? The Conservative government has done a fairly good job running things. Their unemployment rate was exactly the same as ours in January 2009, but while ours is now at 9.1 percent and theirs is 7 percent. The US and Germany have both incurred a lot of debt since then, though theirs has gone up because they are trying to bail out the other spendthrift countries in Europe. My own guess is that it is the fear that the German Social Democrats will regain control that is causing stocks in Germany to fall.
In a recent study done at an Italian restaurant, researchers found that diners who used larger utensils ate less, surprisingly enough. The researchers believe that bigger forks somehow trick people's minds into thinking they've eaten more. . . .
Another possibility is that eating a meal with a big fork is awkward and more difficult. Could it simply be that if you make eating more difficult, people will eat less? I did see some research years ago that babies who were breastfeed consumed less milk during any given meal than those feed from a bottle. The reason was that more work was required by the baby. One interesting consequence of this is that breastfeed babies are thus more likely to wake up during the night wanting to eat more. It seems hard to think that breastfeed babies are having some "mind tricks" occurring to them.
Just as the size of our houses have doubled over the last 30 years, so apparently also have the sizes of our meals (though the meal sizes have grown more slowly).
Meal sizes have grown over the past few decades, contributing to an obesity epidemic in the United States. In fact, Cornell University researchers recently found amusing proof of portion swelling when they compared the 1936 and the 2006 editions of that homemaking classic, Joy of Cooking. They found that the recipe for chicken gumbo went from 228 calories per serving in the 1936 version to 576 calories in the 2006 edition. Why? The editors simply had to jack up the portion sizes to meet our oversized modern-day appetites. . . .
US Post Office Deficit will reach $9.2 billion this fiscal year?
While everyone wants Congress to give the Post Office billions of dollars, there is a solution to all this: get rid of the Post Office's monopoly. Whose fault is it that the Post Office has these horrible labor contracts that force all this inefficiency? From the New York Times:
the agency is so low on cash that it will not be able to make a $5.5 billion payment due this month and may have to shut down entirely this winter unless Congress takes emergency action to stabilize its finances. “Our situation is extremely serious,” the postmaster general, Patrick R. Donahoe, said in an interview. “If Congress doesn’t act, we will default.”
In recent weeks, Mr. Donahoe has been pushing a series of painful cost-cutting measures to erase the agency’s deficit, which will reach $9.2 billion this fiscal year. They include eliminating Saturday mail delivery, closing up to 3,700 postal locations and laying off 120,000 workers, nearly one-fifth of the agency’s work force.
The post office’s problems stem from one hard reality: it is getting squeezed on both revenue and costs.
As any computer user knows, the Internet revolution has led to people and businesses sending far less conventional mail.
At the same time, decades of contractual promises made to unionized workers, including no-layoff clauses, are increasing the post office’s costs. Labor represents 80 percent of the agency’s expenses, compared with 53 percent at United Parcel Service and 32 percent at FedEx, its two biggest private competitors. Postal workers also receive more generous health benefits than most other federal employees.
Missing the $5.5 billion payment due on Sept. 30, intended to finance retirees’ future health care, won’t cause immediate disaster. But sometime early next year, the agency will run out of money to pay its employees and gas up its trucks, officials warn, forcing it to stop delivering the roughly three billion pieces of mail it handles weekly. . . .
Judge Napolitano has a slightly old piece on why we should abolish the USPS available here.
In the 1840's, the cost of mailing a letter was determined by weight and distance. An average one-ounce letter cost $0.14.5 to mail from New York to Boston. And in 1841, it took five days to get there. Then a man named Lysander Spooner started a business to compete with the post office. He charged lower rates. He delivered in less time. And he brought the mail directly to your home, not just to the post office in your town. Not to be outdone, the post office kept lowering its charges for stamps. By 1851, both Spooner's company and the government were charging $0.03 to deliver that same one-ounce letter from Boston to New York. And so the federal government, unaccustomed to competition, sued Spooner and his company and tried to get a jury to put him out of business. The jury loved what Spooner did. He made life better and cheaper. The feds lost. And then they did what they always do when they have competition they can't tolerate, they outlawed it. So in 1851, the feds were losing money by delivering mail from post office to post office and Spooner was making money by delivering mail from post office to private homes and businesses. And Congress thought it would make the post office solvent by banning the competition from charging less than the post office charged. The $0.03 stamp stayed in place for over 100 years with Congress using tax dollars to fill in the deficits in the post office's budget. . . . Since the 1960s, the price of a stamp has gone up from $0.05 up of $0.44. The service is worse. . . . .
11 Crimes committed with Guns from "Gunwalker" Program
The information is provided here. In some sense, with 11 crime scenes from 2,000 guns SOLD to violent drug gangs, wouldn't you think that there would be more than 11 crime scenes? Is it because the American guns aren't used by drug gangs? Is it because these guns can't be linked to crimes? I don't think that either of these options don't make the government look good.