Obama demands derivative legislation

Obama obviously doesn't understand how futures markets work. He doesn't understand that these trades minimize expected price swings.

"I want to see what emerges, but I will veto legislation that does not bring the derivatives market under control and some sort of regulatory framework that assures that we don’t have the same kind of crises that we’ve seen in the past," he told reporters before beginning a meeting with the Economic Recovery Advisory Board. . . .

Obama charged that "some in the industry are not happy with the prospect of these reforms" and said lobbyists have "found some willing allies on the other side of the aisle in Congress." Still, he voiced his hopes for a "bipartisan bill" that stops firms from taking reckless risks. . . .

Obama claims that we have to adopt his proposals or disaster will occur.

The U.S. is destined to endure a new economic crisis that sticks taxpayers with the bill unless Congress tightens oversight of the financial industry, President Barack Obama said Saturday.
The overhaul is the next major piece of legislation that Obama wants to sign into law this year, but solid GOP opposition in the Senate is jeopardizing that goal.
"Every day we don't act, the same system that led to bailouts remains in place, with the exact same loopholes and the exact same liabilities," Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address. "And if we don't change what led to the crisis, we'll doom ourselves to repeat it.
"Opposing reform will leave taxpayers on the hook if a crisis like this ever happens again," the president said. . . .

Is it any surprise that the Obama administration is going after securities fraud just as this legislation is coming up. What Goldman is being accused of is similar to what Fannie and Freddie did.

"Politically the timing could not have been worse for Wall Street." -- Damian Paletta, Wall Street Journal Reporter.

"Goldman Sachs case could help Obama shift voter anger" -- Los Angeles Times

But Obama has vulnerabilities of his own. Goldman Sachs employees contributed nearly $1 million to his 2008 presidential campaign, the second largest source of his donations, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. . . .

"Hedge fund manager in Goldman Sachs case is major Democratic donor" -- The Hill

The Wall Street Journal describes Goldman Sachs as defending themselves this way:

Goldman says "we did not structure a portfolio that was designed to lose money." It says the investors involved were sophisticated and were provided "extensive information about the underlying mortgage securities." As for not disclosing Paulson's role, it says "As normal business practice, market makers do not disclose the identities of a buyer to a seller and vice versa." It says it never represented to ACA that Paulson was long. The firm is fighting the charges. . . .

Just a reminder about Fannie's and Freddie's role in creating the current problems (here, here, and here).

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If the media had this many gripes with any other president, what would be the outcome?

The media apparently believe that this president is trying to control news coverage to an unprecedented level.

Ed Chen, a White House correspondent for Bloomberg News who is president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, said he asked for the meeting “to clear the air because in my 10-plus years at the White House, rarely have I sensed such a level of anger, which is wide and deep, among members over White House practices and attitude toward the press.” . . .

Among the issues discussed:

—More behind-the-scenes access for news photographers. Obama aides often post photos by White House staff photographers of scenes that in the past might have been recorded by a selected news photographer, or by the rotating “tight pool” of photographers that has more access than the general press.

—CNN’s Ed Henry, who represented the networks at the meeting, pushed for more bill signings and world leader meetings to be opened to cameras.

—Journalists have complained of instances in which the White House declared a “full lid,” meaning no more scheduled releases or travel for the day, then later puts out a newsworthy release such as a readout of a presidential call with a world leader. A White House official told POLITICO: “We vowed to ensure that full lid violations were rare.”

—Internet access on Air Force One is being explored. Currently, the White House staff has access to communications equipment. But except in extraordinary circumstances, such as a presidential trip to Iraq or Afghanistan, the press is not able to file while airborne. . . .

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Concealed handguns allowed at Colorado state universities

If Republicans do well in the election this coming November in Colorado, a ban on concealed handguns on campus seems unlikely to be reimposed.

The University of Colorado's governing board ought to be able to decide whether individuals can tote guns on its campuses, even if those individuals own concealed-carry permits.

We were disturbed by this past week's decision of the Colorado Court of Appeals, which ruled that CU did not have the authority to ban students and visitors with concealed-carry permits from carrying guns on campus.

The decision likely has wider impacts than CU, as Colorado State University's governing board also recently banned concealed-carry weapons on its grounds.

CU has banned guns on its campus since 1970, but after the state legislature passed the Concealed Carry Act in 2003, regents asked then-state Attorney General Ken Salazar whether the act applied to college campuses. Salazar determined that universities could craft their own polices regarding guns.

However, the appeals court said otherwise, ruling that an El Paso County district judge was wrong to dismiss a previous challenge to CU's rules filed by a pro-gun group at CU.

"For us, the issue has always been about more than 'guns are good or guns are bad,' " said Ken McConnellogue, spokesman for the University of Colorado system. "For us, it's been the issue of autonomy for the Board of Regents to govern the CU campuses as the Colorado Constitution stipulates. In that regard, it's disappointing." . . .

CU can appeal the decision to the Colorado Supreme Court, but the appellate court seems to have suggested another way for universities to maintain their autonomy regarding the concealed-carry permits.

The court said that the CCA "statute's plain language applies to 'all areas of the state' and does not specify public universities in its list of exceptions. Had the legislature intended to exempt universities, it knew how to do so."

We suggest CU, CSU and other interested parties take the appellate court's cue and lobby Colorado lawmakers to tweak the CCA and allow governing boards of colleges and universities to legally ban concealed firearms should they so choose to. . . .

Lawsuit filed over new Colorado State University rules.

Fort Collins-area gun owners have sued CSU over the university system's new campus ban on concealed weapons.

The gun owners had promised to sue when the Board of Governors of Colorado State University approved the ban in February. On Tuesday, they filed the suit asking a judge to block the ban and rule it illegal.

CSU officials say they believe banning concealed weapons on campus will improve overall safety. Gun owners say the university lacks the power to implement what they see as an unconstitutional violation of their rights. The ban takes effect Aug. 1.

"We've asked them to reconsider, and they refused," said Ray Hick-man, a spokesman for the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners.

RMGO filed the suit on behalf of a CSU student, the parent of a student and Hickman, who said his security business requires him to visit campus. All said CSU’s proposed ban would affect their legal right to carry a concealed weapon. . . .

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Obvious questions about the hockey stick graph

This guy doesn't question the underlying temperature measurements, just how different data sets were combined.

A key piece of evidence in climate change science was slammed as “exaggerated” on Wednesday by the UK’s leading statistician, in a vindication of claims that global warming sceptics have been making for years.

Professor David Hand, president of the Royal Statistical Society, said that a graph shaped like an ice hockey stick that has been used to represent the recent rise in global temperatures had been compiled using “inappropriate” methods.

“It used a particular statistical technique that exaggerated the effect [of recent warming],” he said.

The criticism came as part of a report published on Wednesday that found the scientists behind the “Climategate” e-mail scandal had behaved “honestly and fairly” and showed “no evidence of any deliberate scientific malpractice”.

The e-mails were hacked last autumn from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia. They caused a storm, as they appeared to show scientists manipulating and concealing data.

Although Wednesday’s report – commissioned by UEA with advice from the Royal Society, the UK’s prestigious national science academy – exonerated the unit’s scientists, it criticised climate experts for failures in handling statistics.

“It is very surprising that research in an area that depends so heavily on statistical methods has not been carried out in close collaboration with professional statisticians,” the report concluded.

The hockey stick graph was a key part of the scandal. In the e-mails, UEA’s Professor Phil Jones referred to a “trick” to “hide the decline” in temperatures suggested by certain sources of data. A similar trick was used in the hockey stick graph.

The UEA scientists said that “trick” merely referred to a scientific technique – an explanation accepted by some sceptics, including Lord Lawson, former Tory chancellor. . . .


What Goodwin Liu says passes for "Flowery" language

So much for judicial temperament.

A top Senate Republican hammered liberal law professor Goodwin Liu’s writings as “vicious, emotionally and racially charged” at his confirmation hearing Friday – igniting the first real test of whether Republicans will be able to block the most controversial of President Barack Obama’s lower court judicial nominees.

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) slammed Liu’s testimony against Samuel Alito during his confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court.

“Judge Alito’s record envisions an America where police may shoot and kill an unarmed boy to stop him from running away with a stolen purse … where a black man may be sentenced to death by an all-white jury for killing a white man,” Liu wrote. “I humbly submit that this is not the America we know. Nor is it the America we aspire to be.”

The testimony was “vicious, emotionally and racially charged, very intemperate, and to me it calls into question your ability to approach and characterize people’s positions in a fair and judicious way,” Kyl said.

Liu only acknowledged that this language was “unnecessarily flowery.”

The Liu nomination has captured the attention of conservatives on Capitol Hill because Liu has espoused a series of liberal views on affirmative action and interpretation of the Constitution, and his hearings are seen as a preview of this summer’s upcoming battle over Obama’s Supreme Court pick.

“Welcome to the Judiciary Committee and the Supreme Court nomination process,” joked Sen. Ted Kaufman (D-Del.).

Liu, 39, represents “the very vanguard of what I would call intellectual judicial activism, a theory of interpretation of our Constitution and laws that empowers a judge to expand government, and to find rights there that often have never been found before,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee. . . .

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New Fox News piece: Poland's Economic Architect Will Be Missed

My newest piece at Fox News starts this way:

Among the Polish leaders lost in the plane crash in Russia last weekend was Slawomir Skrzypek, head of the National Bank of Poland. Skrzypek was the architect behind the scenes of what has been Poland’s economic success over the last couple of years.

Americans know all too well the effects of the big drop in economic growth we suffered last year. That same fate has befallen virtually all of Europe. While Europe’s GDP has fallen by 2.2 percent over the last year, Poland’s grew by 3.1 percent. It is quite a feat for a country's economy to grow while its neighbors, and close trading partners, have been contracting.

Poland stands out because of its commitment to free-market policies, and Skrzypek pushed for this behind the scenes as well as ensuring a fairly stable money supply. Facing down the global economic crisis, Poland slashed marginal tax rates, cut government spending and temporarily suspended some government regulations. The U.S. and the rest of Europe adopted a Keynesian economic policy and went in the opposite direction. . . .

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Texas Sheriff advises citizens to get guns for protection

Sheriff says that he has 17 deputies to cover 5,000 square miles in his county (one officer to cover every 294 square miles). The police simply don't have the resources to protect everyone.

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Arizona becomes fourth state to eliminate concealed handgun permit requirement

Arizona joins Alaska, Montana (about 99 percent of the state), and Vermont as states that do not require a permit to carry a concealed handgun. Of the top of my head, this probably leaves only Texas with a 10 hour training period to get a concealed handgun permit.

Republican Gov. Jan Brewer on Friday signed into law a bill making Arizona the third state allowing people without a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

The bill she signed Friday afternoon takes effect 90 days after the current legislative session ends. That likely will put the effective date in July or August.

"I believe this legislation not only protects the Second Amendment rights of Arizona citizens, but restores those rights as well," Brewer said in a statement.

Alaska and Vermont now do not require permits to carry concealed weapons.

By eliminating the permit requirement, the Arizona legislation will allow people 21 or older to forego background checks and classes that are now required.

Supporters say the bill promotes constitutional rights and allows people to protect themselves from criminals, while critics worry it will lead to more shootings as people with less training have fewer restrictions on carrying weapons.

Some police officials are concerned the law will lead to more accidental gun discharges from people untrained in firearm safety, or that shooters in stressful situations will accidentally strike innocent bystanders with stray bullets. . . .



New Fox News piece: The Real Reason We Have the Highest Long-Term Unemployment Rate In 70 Years

My newest Fox News piece starts this way:

How bad is the economy? With a record percentage of the unemployed out of a job for more than six months, the media and politicians are claiming that the economy is in crisis. Politicians are again rushing to keep extended unemployment insurance benefits in place. The only serious debate among politicians was over how the benefits should be financed: should the program be paid for with spending cuts or tax increases or should we add to the deficit to cover the expense. And the Democratically-controlled Senate has passed the extension on Thursday by borrowing more money. President Obama signed it today.

Take the Los Angeles Times' concern: "Never since the Great Depression has the U.S. labor market seen anything like it. The previous high in long-term unemployment was 26% in June 1983, just after the deep downturn of the early '80s. The 44% rate this year translates into more than 6.5 million people." . . . .

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It looks like DC's gun laws will soon be history

Giving the DC delegate the right to vote in Congress suddenly seems more important to the Democrats than their strong opposition to gun ownership.

Congressional leaders intend to resurrect a D.C. voting rights bill as early as next week, despite opposition from many city leaders to an amendment that would eliminate most of the District's gun-control laws.

The final details of the bill were being worked out Wednesday, but House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) said he expects the legislation to clear the House and to include some version of the pro-gun language that has bogged down the measure since last year.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), the city's non-voting House member, and congressional leaders said they are negotiating to weaken the gun amendment language. But Norton said she is unwilling to sacrifice the opportunity to win a long-sought voting seat for the District by insisting on a stand-alone bill.

"This is the best chance we've had to get a House vote for D.C. in my lifetime," Norton said. "Nobody would leave it on the table because it's not at all clear when there will be another chance."

The time is right, Norton and other advocates said, because the bill's prospects could diminish if the Democratic majority narrows after this year's midterm elections and if the release of 2010 Census figures undercuts the legislative deal. . . .


Editorial in the Washington Times

Mark Levin Interview on the Obama that I knew

Here is a very short segment from the Mark Levin Show on 4/15 where Mark was nice enough to have me on to discuss Barack Obama. You can listen to the MP3 file by clicking here.

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20 states have now brought suit to stop the government health care bill

From the Legal News Line:

Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue is suing the federal government over the constitutionality of the new health care reform law without the help of Democratic state Attorney General Thurbert Baker.

On Tuesday, the Republican governor announced the appointment of Frank C. Jones as a special attorney general to direct Georgia's participation in the lawsuit. . . .

The states involved in the lawsuit are Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Nebraska, Texas, Utah, Louisiana, Alabama, Colorado, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Washington, Idaho, South Dakota, Indiana, North Dakota, Mississippi, Nevada and Arizona. The Virginia attorney general is pursuing his own lawsuit. . . .


Why the Banking Regulation Bill Institutionalizes Bailouts

Senator Chris Dodd claims that this bill ends bailouts.

it’s just a Wall Street lie. This bill ends bailouts. . . .

Senator Mitch McConnell does a good job explaining the other side:

Central to the criticism spearheaded by Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell is a proposed $50 billion fund that big banks would finance and that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. would use to liquidate giant, interconnected financial firms on the verge of collapse.

McConnell, R-Ky., said the very existence of the fund "would of course immediately signal to everyone that the government is ready to bail out large banks." . . .

So how does the Washington Post describe this?

So that's what McConnell does. But is it true? "If there’s one thing Americans agree on when it comes to financial reform, it’s this," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. "Never again should taxpayers be expected to bail out Wall Street from its own mistakes. We cannot allow endless taxpayer-funded bailouts for big Wall Street banks. And that’s why we must not pass the financial reform bill that’s about to hit the floor." . . . When compared to the status quo, absolutely not. The Dodd bill makes bailouts less likely by empowering regulators and increasing transparency, raises a $50 billion fund from banks to pay for future too-big-to-fail bankruptcies, and then makes the outcome a predictable punishment rather than a chaotic rescue. That last is known as "resolution authority" -- as bloodless a word as one could possibly imagine -- and it wipes out both shareholders and management. It's all there in Section 206 of the bill: "Mandatory Terms and Conditions for All Orderly Liquidation Actions." What we call "resolution" would better be described as "execution." . . .

Huh? Possibly the Post doesn't understand what the term "absolutely note" means. Either McConnell is right that bill allows bailouts or not, and it clearly does allow such bailouts that are at the discretion of the Executive branch with no ability to appeal these decisions. Relative to the current law? I am not sure how that fits in, and current authority to bailout these institutions ends at the end of the this year. Does the Washington Post even try a little bit to hide its political bias?

Here is Dodd's explanation for why this ends bailouts. To me, this is a pretty scary increase in government power and it doesn't end the government's power to give bailouts. In fact, it institutionalizes bailouts.

Cracking down on the biggest players is critical to ending bailouts.

And if a Wall Street firm does become too big or too complex and poses a grave threat to financial stability, the Federal Reserve will have the power to restrict its risky activities, restrict its growth, and even break it up.

Additionally, our bill extends oversight to dangerous nonbank financial companies like AIG that could pose a risk to our financial stability.

And it prohibits banks and other financial institutions that own banks from engaging in proprietary trading, making risky bets with money that doesn’t belong to them. . . .


Single women and guns on TV

The TV show "Human Target" is a fun show to watch. Christopher Chance (Mark Valley) is an expert at self defense and his job is to protect people from life threatening situations. This episode is about the case that moved Chance from being an assassin to his current job of protecting people. In this case, he has decided to protect a witness named Katherine Walters (Amy Acker). The following exchange takes place at about the 12:50 mark.

Christopher Chance: [Hands Katherine Walters a gun.] Now you don't have to take this. I am just saying . . .

Katherine Walters: [Pulls back the slide and turns off the safety on the gun.]

Chance: Apparently you know what you are doing

Katherine Walters: I'm single and I live downtown.

Chance: [Nods his head approvingly.]

It is nice to see a show accurately acknowledge what women benefit the most from owning a gun. My own research shows that women benefit much more from owning guns than men do.

The reason is actually pretty simple. The vast majority of violent crimes are committed by men and when a man attacks a woman there is a much bigger differential in strength on average than when a man attacks a man. The presence of a gun represents a much bigger change in a woman's ability to resist an attack than it does for a man. Knives and baseball bats are particularly problematic, because women have to get very close to their attackers to use them, and male criminals tend to be much stronger physically than their female victims. When it comes to physical contact, women generally lose those fights. It turns out that pepper spray may not do you a lot of good when it is raining or snowing. A woman is just as likely to disable herself as the attacker when it's windy or when using the spray indoors.

The advantage of a gun is that it is ideal for keeping the criminal far away from the victim. And the victim isn't responsible for restraining the criminal, as police officers are when arresting suspects. A woman simply wants to keep the criminal away from her. In More Guns, Less Crime, I find that for each additional woman carrying a concealed handgun the drop in the murder rate for women by about 3–4 times more than one additional man carrying a concealed handgun reduces the murder rate for men.

Only one of the Human Target episodes seems to have strayed into liberal dogma. That episode had an obligatory bashing of private health care when the final vote on the government health care bill was about to take place in the House.

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When will the onslaught of new regulations end?: Airlines may be taxed for bag fees

These Senators have no clue the trade-offs that airlines face to operate. Do people think that the airlines want to charge more for a carry-on? As the price of gas has gone up, the benefit from taxing extra weight from bags outweighs the costs of doing the tax. If some other airline can figure out a better pricing mechanism, they will get more customers. This airline proposal was to get people through security and boarding faster.

Six Democratic senators want to hit U.S. airlines with a tax if they charge passengers for their carry-on bags.

The senators said Wednesday that this would keep more airlines from following Spirit Airlines' lead. The small Florida airline said last week that starting Aug. 1 it will charge its customers as much as $45 to bring a bag aboard its aircraft and put it in an overhead bin.

Air travelers have been forced to pay fees for once-free amenities since 2008, for everything from checked bags to pillows to food. That has not stopped them from flying, but critics say charging for carryons is stepping over the line.

The senators -- Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Charles Schumer of New York, Ben Cardin of Maryland, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Robert Menendez and Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey -- want a law that would designate carry-on baggage as a necessity for air travelers. . . .


The impact of increasing the length of unemployment benefits on how long the unemployed are out of work: Figure 1

See this page from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for information on the percent of the unemployed who have been unemployed for at least 26 weeks.
See p. 33 of this study for the Average Maximum Duration of Unemployment benefits from 1954 to 2003.
See these links here, here, and here for more recent changes in the Average Maximum Duration of Unemployment benefits.


The impact of increasing the length of unemployment benefits on how long the unemployed are out of work: Figure 2

See this page from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for information on the percent of the unemployed who have been unemployed for at least 26 weeks.
See p. 33 of this study for the Average Maximum Duration of Unemployment benefits from 1954 to 2003.
See these links here, here, and here for more recent changes in the Average Maximum Duration of Unemployment benefits.


The impact of increasing the length of unemployment benefits on how long the unemployed are out of work: Figure 3

See this page from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for information on the percent of the unemployed who have been unemployed for at least 26 weeks.
See p. 33 of this study for the Average Maximum Duration of Unemployment benefits from 1954 to 2003.
See these links here, here, and here for more recent changes in the Average Maximum Duration of Unemployment benefits.



Regulations that will drive up the price of meat

Well following scares about bird and swine flu now we have another one.

And the reason for these new regulations is what?

Across the U.S. small meat processing plant owners are hoping for an 11th hour development that will prevent the U.S. Department of agriculture from implementing a new set of regulations that will force them out of business.

The new regulations, proposed by the USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service will require an extensive battery of testing for meat processing products, intended for commercial retail, to validate each plant's effectiveness in assuring food safety.

On the surface, it sounds like a good thing. But for plant owners like Paul Bubeck, of Lewright Meats in Eagle Grove, and thousands more like him, the new layer of testing will be cost prohibitive.

Bubeck and wife, Barbara, took over operation of Lewright Meats in 1981. Barbara Bubeck's family started the plant in 1936. In 2009, Ethan Bubeck, the couple's son and his wife, Shanae, joined the company.

Bubeck said all meat processors, regardless of size, already follow an exacting array of procedures and monitoring protocols to assure food safety, and cannot understand the need for the expanded tests.

According to Dr. Gary Johnson, bureau chief for the state's meat and inspection department, a division of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the new regulations are designed to validate if the existing protocols are working.

The problem is that a large amount of meat products must be shipped to inspection labs for a battery of expensive tests for which the plants themselves must cover the cost.

In Bubeck's case, the initial tally for the extensive tests will cost $455,592. That would be followed by an annual ongoing series of tests tallying $140,182. . . .

Assume that about 45 million tons of meat are consumed in the US each year (US tons, not metric tons, about 11 million tons every three months). Apparently over the three months from November 2009 to January 2010 there were 2.8 million pound recalled (1,400 tons). That is about 0.01 percent.

What I would like to find out is the number of deaths from just E. coli and Salmonella in meat. Anyone know that number and have a reference? A report does mention the number of people dying from all sorts of food.


Obama and NASA

Obama has found an additional $2.4 billion for NASA to study climate change. I have to say that it bothers me to think that we will have to pay the Russians to get fights up to the space station.

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Obama's iron fisted control of the press

Liberal Washington Post Columnist Dana Milbank says "Obama's disregard for media reaches new heights." Why does the media keep so quite about this? The second story below discusses the claim that the White House tells the White House Correspondents' Association who is allowed to attend the association's annual dinner.

Reporters, even those on the White House beat for two decades, said these were the most restricted such meetings they had ever seen. They complained to both the administration and White House Correspondents' Association, which will discuss the matter Thursday with White House press secretary Robert Gibbs.

The restrictions have become a common practice for the Obama White House. When Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu came to the White House a couple of weeks ago, reporters were kept away. Soon after that, Obama signed an executive order on abortion, again without any coverage.

Over the weekend, Obama broke with years of protocol and slipped off to a soccer game without the "protective" pool that is always in the vicinity of the president in case the unthinkable occurs. Obama joked about it later to Pakistan's prime minister, saying reporters "were very upset."

In "bilateral" meetings with foreign leaders, presidents usually take questions, or at least trade statements. But at most of Obama's, there were only written "readouts." Canada: "The president and the prime minister noted the enduring strength of our bilateral partnership." India: "The two leaders vowed to continue to strengthen the robust relationship between the people of their countries." Pakistan: "President Obama began by noting that he is very fond of Pakistan."

Finally, away from other leaders, Obama took reporters' questions for 20 minutes. They were tough and skeptical questions that punctured the banal readouts: pointing out that the nonproliferation agreements weren't binding, noting China's equivocation on sanctions against Iran, and pressing Obama on the failure to curb North Korea's weapons. . . .

The Obama administration intercedes to prevent the WND from getting a table at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner.

"This year, in anticipation of the event, which will take place on May 1, 2010, WND tendered $6,750 USD for three tables. However, the WHCA cashed only one of the checks, number 13662, for one table. ... The amount of the check is $2,250.00 USD. Accordingly, WHCA accepted WND's offer to buy at least one table for the event."

The complaint explains WND also was "led to believe" it would get the two additional tables for which it submitted payment, and "WND invited guests ... for three tables."

"On information and belief, after the WHCA accepted WND's order for one table for the event, the Obama administration and White House intervened and put pressure on the WHCA to reneg on even this commitment. As a result, and in an insulting manner, WND was then informed that it would only get three seats at the event, and not even its own table," the complaint continues. . . .

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"Armed homeowner holds suspect at bay"

From Marion, Ohio:

A 24-year-old man accused of breaking into a home in Yorkshire Estates on Tuesday morning was held at gunpoint by the homeowner until sheriff's deputies arrived.

Scott B. Baker, 183 Stark Court, was walking around the home in the 1100 block of Kingwood Drive when the 62-year-old homeowner saw him. He armed himself with his handgun and called 9-1-1 at about 11:07 a.m.

"By the time we got there, the guy had entered the home and was held at gunpoint," said Maj. Aaron Corwin of the Marion County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies reported the suspect got in through an unlocked window. Two other suspects were seen waiting outside in a car. . . .

Corwin said Baker didn't give the homeowner any trouble while they waited for deputies.

"I think he knew he was caught at that point," he said.

The homeowner was the only one home at the time, and no one was hurt in the incident.

Corwin said he didn't think the homeowner was too shaken.

"He handled it very well," he said. "I don't know too many people who wouldn't have been shaken." . . .


Quantifying Obama's violations of his no tax pledge for those making less than $250,000

More on Democrats infiltrating Tea Party groups to pose as racists

Where is the media outrage about these tactics?

New Hampshire Democrats are engaged in a statewide search for liberal activists willing to attend so-called tea parties on Thursday and carry signs expressing racist or fringe sentiments, a Democratic source with knowledge of the effort tells NowHampshire.com.
According to the source, who sought anonymity for fear of reprisals, the Dems’ last minute scramble reflects a growing obsession among party leaders that they need to discredit the tea party movement soon or it will overwhelm them come the November election.
Former Democratic State Party Chairman Kathy Sullivan is heading up the search, the source said. Sullivan has been calling and e-mailing liberal activists trying to get them to attend tea parties in different parts of the state and hold signs denying the authenticity of President Barack Obama’s birth certificate and make racially disparaging comments to reporters.
“This is Kathy’s [Sullivan] project,” the source told NowHampshire.com. “She is absolutely obsessed with painting the tea party people as racists.” . . .

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Eric Massa makes Mark Foley look incredibly clean

This guy was completely out of control. The Washington Post has this amazing description of this completely crazy sexual predator. You can read the Washington Post piece here. I fail to see the symmetry in the way the Massa and Foley cases were covered by the media.

UPDATE: There might now be lawsuits in the Massa case.

A onetime aide to former Rep. Eric Massa has filed a complaint with the congressional Office of Compliance alleging that he and other staffers were subjected to various forms of sexual harassment by their boss, who resigned in March amid an ethics investigation into his behavior toward aides.

The filing, for the first time, raises the specter that Massa’s case could end up in the legal sphere.

Debra Katz, the attorney for the former aide, says a complaint alleges that Massa, a freshman Democrat from New York, “subjected my client and other young gay men” to “unwelcome touching, sexual propositions, groping, sexualized comments” and similar forms of harassment both inside his official congressional office and outside of it. . . .

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Democrats don't need Republicans for Banking Reform Bill

Previously I posted a Talking Point Memo about Democrats hoping that Republicans would oppose the financial regulations bill so that they could use the issue in the coming election. Well, the Democrats appear to be making it impossible for Republicans to support the bill.

“I would say all signs we get from the White House is they’re not interested in talking, they’re not interested in making a deal with us,” McConnell told reporters. “They want to jam through a totally partisan bill. And if they do that, and it looks like the Dodd bill, it will guarantee perpetual taxpayer bailouts of Wall Street banks.”

Republicans are gravitating toward a strategy that defies the conventional wisdom held by Democrats — that the GOP, from a political standpoint, cannot throw up uniform opposition to Wall Street reform as it did with health care reform. A senior Senate Republican aide said the conference believes it has “a strong case to make as to why the bill is bad.” . . .

UPDATE: So much for Obama's bipartisanship.

For weeks, the White House strategy on financial regulatory reform remained an open question: Would President Barack Obama water down his bill just to get something passed — the way he did on health care?

A Palinesque “Hell no!” was the answer coming from the White House on Wednesday as the president, his senior aides and his allies on Capitol Hill issued an ultimatum to Republicans fighting Democrats’ plans to overhaul financial oversight.

“For the president, you have to be willing to accept a strong bill,” said White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, after Obama emerged from a contentious meeting with GOP congressional leaders.

“If the effort to get this close is simply to take steps to weaken that legislation, that’s not what the president is interested in.”

Democrats are so emboldened that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is prepared to bring the Banking Committee bill to the floor with no major concessions to Republicans and essentially dare them to vote against the measure, senior leadership aides said. . . .

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Some thoughts on the supply of medical services

From a recent survey discussed in the New England Journal of Medicine
• 72% of physicians feel that a public option would have a negative impact on physician supply, with 45% feeling it will “decline or worsen dramatically” and 27% predicting it will “decline or worsen somewhat.
• 24% of physicians think they will try to retire early if a public option is implemented.
• 21% of physicians would try to leave medicine if a public option is implemented, even if not near retirement age at the time.
• 36% of physicians would not recommend medicine as a career, regardless of health reform.
• 27% would recommend medicine as a career but not if health reform passes.
• 25% of physicians would recommend medicine as a career regardless of health reform.
• 12% would not recommend medicine as a career now but feel that they would recommend it as a career if health reform passes

While doctors are leaving the profession, it is difficult to get many new doctors in the profession.

The new federal health-care law has raised the stakes for hospitals and schools already scrambling to train more doctors.

Experts warn there won't be enough doctors to treat the millions of people newly insured under the law. At current graduation and training rates, the nation could face a shortage of as many as 150,000 doctors in the next 15 years, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

That shortfall is predicted despite a push by teaching hospitals and medical schools to boost the number of U.S. doctors, which now totals about 954,000.

The greatest demand will be for primary-care physicians. These general practitioners, internists, family physicians and pediatricians will have a larger role under the new law, coordinating care for each patient.

The U.S. has 352,908 primary-care doctors now, and the college association estimates that 45,000 more will be needed by 2020. But the number of medical-school students entering family medicine fell more than a quarter between 2002 and 2007. . . .

One response might be to increase what nurses can do, but nurses are also in short supply. This type of deregulation should be done anyway. Not just because the government health care bill is going to make the supply of doctors even worse.

A nurse may soon be your doctor. With a looming shortage of primary care doctors, 28 states are considering expanding the authority of nurse practitioners. These nurses with advanced degrees want the right to practice without a doctor's watchful eye and to prescribe narcotics. And if they hold a doctorate, they want to be called "Doctor."

For years, nurse practitioners have been playing a bigger role in the nation's health care, especially in regions with few doctors. With 32 million more Americans gaining health insurance within a few years, the health care overhaul is putting more money into nurse-managed clinics.

Those newly insured patients will be looking for doctors and may find nurses instead.

The medical establishment is fighting to protect turf. In some statehouses, doctors have shown up in white coats to testify against nurse practitioner bills. The American Medical Association, which supported the national health care overhaul, says a doctor shortage is no reason to put nurses in charge and endanger patients.

Nurse practitioners argue there's no danger. They say they're highly trained and as skilled as doctors at diagnosing illness during office visits. They know when to refer the sickest patients to doctor specialists. Plus, they spend more time with patients and charge less. . . .


Retired police sergeant denied concealed carry permit despite being attacked

This shows how arbitrary permit issuing can be when issuing authorities are granted discretion. If a retired police sergeant who has legitimate safety concerns can't get a permit, it must be pretty difficult for people who aren't politically connected to get one. The thing that I don't understand is here is someone with police training and experience who is willing to carry a gun for free and will undoubtedly protect others. How can gun control advocates claim that denying this person a permit enhances safety?

Matt Speckman, a former Turlock police sergeant, used to be in charge of processing concealed gun permits. Now retired, he'd like one himself.
"I'm not a gun nut," Speckman said. "But I've been involved in investigations of people now getting paroled who have probably been throwing darts at my picture in their cells."
Speckman, 49, attended the FBI academy, trained at a nationally recognized firearms course, earned an MBA, is studying for a Ph.D, toted a gun for 30 years and screened gun permit applicants for seven years.
Yet Turlock Police Chief Gary Hampton and Sheriff Adam Christianson, both of whom have approved gun permits for politicians and prominent businessmen, turned him down.
Speckman since has moved from Turlock and says he doesn't obsess about his safety. But reports about people who find favor with law enforcement executives despite relative lack of experience, he says, point up the arbitrary nature of concealed gun permits in California, where many agencies endure charges of political favoritism.
As commander of his former department's internal affairs, Speckman once investigated a former officer whose resignation was demanded in lieu of firing, he said. But Christianson approved a permit for the former officer two weeks before denying Speckman's, he said.
Having been on the other side, Speckman said he understands the heavy burden of determining good cause. What if someone granted a permit uses a gun recklessly? On the other hand, what if someone denied a permit later is harmed?
"I understand the need for case by case (discretion)," he said. "But the intent of the law is that someone who has more chance of being victimized should be given a permit.
"It's just gotten to the point where I wish there were something a little bit more standard."
He's experienced firsthand the threats that can follow people who work in the judicial system. That's one reason the list of people who have concealed weapons permits in Stanislaus County contains judges, deputy district attorneys and retired police officers. . . .

Thanks to Gus Cotey for the link.


Editorials in the Washington Times

Sigourney Weaver explains about sexism in Hollywood

For those who always knew that Hollywood was a sexist, discriminatory place.

Sigourney Weaver has launched a blistering attack on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, saying James Cameron didn't win the Oscar for Best Director because he "didn't have breasts."
Outspoken "Avatar" star Weaver said she believed Cameron -- who lost out to his ex-wife, "The Hurt Locker" director Kathryn Bigelow -- didn't win because the academy wanted to make history by naming its first ever female Best Director.
"Jim didn't have breasts, and I think that was the reason," Weaver told Brazilian news site Folha Online over the weekend. "He should have taken home that Oscar." . . .


Congress operating without a budget resolution

This isn't too surprising.

If the House does not pass a first version of the budget resolution, it will be the first time since the implementation of the 1974 Budget Act, which governs the modern congressional budgeting process.

The practical consequences of failing to produce a federal budget for next year are about the same as they are for a family that doesn’t set a plan for income and spending: Congress doesn’t need a budget to tax or spend, but enforcing discipline is harder without one. And, like a family that misses out on efficiencies because it hasn’t taken a hard look at its finances, Congress can’t use reconciliation rules to cut the deficit if the House and the Senate don’t adopt the same budget.

But there are political consequences to the budget conundrum, too — and for Democrats, they’re of the “damned if you, damned if you don’t” variety.

Republicans are certain to castigate the majority Democrats if they fail to put a fiscal blueprint in place amid a public backlash against spending and a torrent of dire warnings from economic experts about the consequences of imbalanced federal books.

But they’ll also call Democrats on the carpet if they approve a new budget that includes more spending, higher deficits or increased taxes.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said last week that the government’s books must be put in order through tax increases or slashing spending for entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

“These choices are difficult, and it always seems easier to put them off — until the day they cannot be put off anymore,” Bernanke said. . . .

More confirmation from Steny Hoyer. Apparently it is the fault of the Bush deficits.

If Democrats can’t pass a budget it won’t wholly be on their shoulders, Hoyer said. The “deep debt” brought on by the economic policies of the Bush administration still linger over the budget process – 90 percent of the debt is a “direct consequence of those policies,” the No. 2 House Democrat said. . . .

Here is another explanation from Congressman Hoyer:

"It's difficult to pass budgets in election years because they reflect what the [fiscal] status is."

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Risky banks should pay a higher deposit insurance premium, but the rate shouldn't be based on bank size

The question is whether the insurance premium per dollar deposited should vary with the size of the bank. Obviously the premium should vary with risk (whatever its cause), but there shouldn't be an additional higher insurance premium per dollar deposited based on the size of the bank.

Regulating bank size through the back door.

Some of the largest U.S. banks would have to pay higher government fees under a proposal that federal regulators are considering to discourage risky behavior by big financial institutions.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.'s five-member board approved a preliminary proposal Tuesday that would alter the way the agency assesses deposit-insurance fees for banks with more than $10 billion in assets.

Regulators would use new financial measures to gauge a bank's risk profile and how the bank would deal with financial stresses. Those determined to be more risky, or which would cost the FDIC more if they were to fail, would have to pay more to the government.

Additionally, the proposal would allow the FDIC to take a special look at "highly complex" financial institutions: those with more than $50 billion in assets and holding company assets of more than $500 billion. FDIC staff said these firms, which number less than 10, would be subject to additional risk evaluations given the nature of their business.

The proposed change wouldn't result in the FDIC receiving more money but would shift the burden for funding the deposit-insurance fund to riskier, large institutions. FDIC staff said if it had been in place at the end of 2009, roughly half of large banks would have paid higher fees, while the other half would have paid less. . . .

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Gay Marriage Amendment doesn't qualify for the California Ballot

Who cares about what the voters want if you think that you have the courts to create a new right?

A challenge to California's gay marriage ban failed on Monday to qualify for the 2010 ballot, leaving gay activists mulling a 2012 push and hoping a federal court will overturn the measure before then.

Los Angeles-based Love Honor Cherish carried out a volunteer-driven signature-gathering effort after large groups decided there was not enough time to ensure victory this year, even with some polls showing more than 50 percent support for same-sex marriage.

A 150-day period to gather signatures to place the question on the ballot ended on Monday. . . .


Dems plan for new campaign finance regulations

Will this apply to unions? What about all the in-kind transfers given by unions?

The White House and leading Democrats in Congress are close to proposing legislation that would force private companies and groups to disclose their behind-the-scenes financial involvement in political campaigns and advertising, officials involved in the discussions said Monday.

One provision would require the chief executive of any company or group that is the main backer of a campaign advertisement to personally appear in television and radio spots to acknowledge the sponsorship, the officials said. . . .

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"60 hospitals cancelled due to new health law"

So much for Obama's promise let you keep your doctor if you are happy with him. This is a great outcome of the new Obama government health care law:

The new health care overhaul law – that promised increased access and efficiency in health care – will prevent doctor-owned hospitals from adding more rooms and more beds.

These hospitals are advertised as less bureaucratic and more focused on doctor-patient decision making. However, larger corporate hospitals say doctor-owned facilities discriminate in favor of high-income patients and refer business to themselves.

The new rules single out physician-owned hospitals, making new physician-owned projects ineligible to receive payments for Medicare and Medicaid patients.

Existing doctor-owned hospitals will be grandfathered in to get government funds for patients but must seek permission from the Department of Health and Human Services to expand.

The get the department’s permission, a doctor-owned hospital must be in a county where population growth is 150 percent of the population growth of the state in the last five years; impatient admissions must be equal to all hospitals located in the county; the bed occupancy rate must not be greater than the state average, and it must be located in a state where hospital bed capacity is less than the national average.

These rules are under Title VI, Section 6001 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The provision is titled “Physician Ownership and Other Transparency – Limitations on Medicare Exceptions to the Prohibition on Certain Physician Referral for Hospitals.”

More than 60 doctor-owned hospitals across the country that were in the development stage will be canceled, said Molly Sandvig, executive director of Physician Hospitals of America (PHA).

“That’s a lot of access to communities that will be denied,” Sandvig told CNSNews.com. “The existing hospitals are greatly affected. They can’t grow. They can’t add beds. They can’t add rooms. Basically, it stifles their ability to change and meet market needs. This is really an unfortunate thing as well, because we are talking about some of the best hospitals in the country.”

The organization says physician-owned hospitals have higher patient satisfaction, greater control over medical decisions for patients and doctor, better quality care and lower costs. Further, physician-owned hospitals have an average 4-1 patient-to-nurse ratio, compared to the national average of 8-1 for general hospitals. . . .



Left wingers seek to pretend to be crazy Tea Party members to discredit them

The Associated Press sure didn't ask the tough questions here:

Opponents of the fiscally conservative tea party movement say they plan to infiltrate and dismantle the political group by trying to make its members appear to be racist, homophobic and moronic.

Jason Levin, creator of http://www.crashtheteaparty.org, said Monday the group has 65 leaders in major cities across the country who are trying to recruit members to infiltrate tea party events for April 15 - tax filing day, when tea party groups across the country are planning to gather and protest high taxes. . . .

UPDATE: The leftist Talking Points Memo actually likes Levin's idea (remember that TPM is now actually considered to be part of the press (it participates in WH press conferences)).


Misunderstanding the benefits from Air Marshals

Congressman John J. Duncan, Jr. might be a Republican, but this is an amazingly stupid statement.

"Actually, there have been many more arrests of Federal air marshals than that story reported, quite a few for felony offenses. In fact, more air marshals have been arrested than the number of people arrested by air marshals."

The benefit from the Marshals is with regard to deterring crime, not just the people that they arrest.


Pelosi doesn't want to set "precedent that they have to pay for new spending"

Senator Coburn explains the negotiations that he had over trying to make sure the extended unemployment insurance benefits are paid for.

We came to an agreement in the us senate with Harry Reid, myself, Mitch McConnell and Dick Durbin, that we agreed to pay for it for two weeks. We agreed to pay for it for one week or two weeks, but we found less important programs that they agreed to get rid of that would have done it. When that was communicated to the House, the speaker's words back is they don't want to set a precedent that they have to pay for new spending. That's the truth. That's the worst. So I want to set that precedent. . . .

Here is some background on what got the Senate to this position.

As lawmakers head home for a two week recess, Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., led Senate Republicans in blocking a vote to extend unemployment insurance and health benefits for thousands of people who are out of work.

“What I wanted us to do is to pay for it and these people get their unemployment insurance,” Coburn said.

Republicans believe the benefits should be paid for by the legislation. Democrats, who failed to rally the necessary 60 votes to override GOP objections, argue the country faces an emergency situation because of the swelling ranks of unemployed.

“We chose not to work it out, not to solve the problem because we didn’t want to make difficult choices about where we cut spending and eliminate additions to the debt,” Coburn said. . . .


More Washington Times Editorials

Piracy helps the economy?

At least that is what "academics" claim.

"Some experts we interviewed and literature we reviewed identified potential positive economic effects of counterfeiting and piracy."--GAO report

If this were true, why do firms fight people stealing their music and other products? Are the firms just stupid?

Cnet has a discussion here.

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Crime soaring in NYC and LA?

Last year murder rates fell across the nation. I was asked about this by the Economist magazine, and the reporter was obviously really interested in pushing the idea that this was some new trend. I said that while the drop was large there was no way to see this as some longer term trend. Now this from NYC:

Homicides are up nearly 22 percent in 2010, compared with the same period last year. Shootings are up in the city, to 293 from 257, a 14 percent increase. And there are more victims of gunfire: 351 through April 4, up from 318 in the same period a year ago. . . .

The mayor warned in January that the governor’s proposal would force the Police Department to lay off 3,150 officers, bringing the force down to same level it was in 1985. He backed off that statement last week, saying on his weekly radio program that the city was “not going to lay off cops.”

Nonetheless, the police force has been shrinking steadily, from a high of 40,285 officers in 2000, to about 35,600 last year.

Even if the cuts in the governor’s proposal were fully restored, the department’s uniformed count is still on course to drop below 33,000 through attrition by July 2011, its lowest level since 1990, when it had 32,441 officers, including housing and transit police before the departments were merged.

That was the year murders in the city peaked at 2,245, making it one of the nation’s top murder capitals. Not only is the force smaller, but it is also being pulled in more directions, with roughly 1,000 officers on counterterrorism duty. The department devotes cars and resources to a critical response team and to provide a presence near potential terrorist targets, though those resources can be redeployed to areas with elevated crime. . . .

The problem is a little more complicated here than cutting the number of police means that crime will rise. When crime initially fell, the number of police remained high. With the number of police rising or constant and the number of crimes falling, there were more police to solve each crime, further working to increase the arrest rate and reduce crime. One could thus reduce the number of police somewhat and still not get an increase in crime.

Any predictions on what is going to happen to crime rates in Los Angeles:

The city's budget crisis and cap on overtime is forcing homicide detectives to stop work for days at a time, hurting their ability to solve cases, authorities said.

Some detectives said they had to delay interviewing witnesses to killings after supervisors ordered them to take days off.

"Could this cause us to not solve a case? Sure," said Detective Chris Barling, who oversees the LAPD's South Bureau homicide unit.

The 11 detectives in the Southeast Division's homicide squad had to take off 700 hours in February despite opening five new investigations.

Nine of 14 killings reported in the area this year are unsolved.

"That is horrible compared to our typical rates," said Detective Sal LaBarbera, division supervisor. "A few of them would likely already be solved, if I could just let my guys loose to work." . . .


Few Support New Proposed Internet Tax

No tax of any sort on people earning less than $250,000 per year? I guess it must be true that only the very rich use the internet. From Rasmussen Reports:

The Obama administration recently released its proposed plan for government regulation of the Internet that includes federal taxes on digital goods and services.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 20% of Americans favor the federal government taxing goods and services on the Internet. Sixty-one percent (61%) oppose such taxes. Another 19% are undecided.
Sixty-four percent (64%) of those who use the Internet every day or nearly every day oppose such taxes, while 22% of that group think they’re a good idea.
The administration’s regulatory efforts ran into trouble last week, however, when a U.S. federal appeals court rejected a Federal Communications Commission move to impose “net neutrality” rules on Internet providers which would force them to treat all Web traffic equally. But some Internet providers have been attempting to slow the traffic of major downloaders, arguing that they slow Internet service for other customers.
Fifty-three percent (53%) of adults do not believe the FCC should regulate the Internet the way it does radio and television. . . .

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So will the British government cut the $100 million to this channel?

How bad does a government TV channel have to be before its funding is cut?

Audiences for many programmes on S4C, Channel 4 for Wales, were so low that they failed to register.

S4C, which gets more than £100m of subsidy from taxpayers, officially attracted zero viewers on 196 out of its 890 programmes. . .

Just 139 out of all the station's entire programmes for the period were watched by more than 10,000 viewers. . . .

196 programs get zero viewers = 0

555 programs get between zero and 10,000 viewers (say 5,000 on average) = 2,775,000

139 programs get over 10,000 viewers (say 20,000 on average) = 2,780,000

Total = 5,555,000

In dollars (exchange rate 1.53938), that comes to $27.71 per viewer per show.

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How left wing is Goodwin Liu, Obama's nominee to the 9th Circuit Appeals Court?

From Debra J. Saunders:

The National Journal's legal authority, Stuart Taylor Jr., estimates that Liu's writings put "him markedly to the ideological left of all 41 Senate Republicans, at least half of the Democrats, and 80 percent or more of voters." . . .


Ohio "Judge tells residents to 'Arm themselves'"

It sounds like some very practical advice from this judge.

Ashtabula County: Judge tells residents to "Arm themselves"
By Jeff Maynor, wkyc Updated: 4/9/2010

In the ongoing financial crisis in Ashtabula County, the Sheriff's Department has been cut from 112 to 49 deputies. With deputies assigned to transport prisoners, serve warrants and other duties, only one patrol car is assigned to patrol the entire county of 720 square miles.

"I did the best with what they (the county commissioners) gave me. If it wasn't enough, don't blame me, don't blame this department," said Sheriff Billy Johnson.

Johnson said he is suing the commissioners to get a determination of whether he should use his limited budget to carry out obligations defined by law or put more patrol cars on the streets.

"I just can't do it anymore," he said. "I have to have the court explain to the commissioners and to me what my statutory duties are."

The Ashtabula County Jail has confined as many as 140 prisoners. It now houses only 30 because of reductions in the staff of corrections officers.

All told, 700 accused criminals are on a waiting list to serve time in the jail.

Are there dangerous people free among the 700 who cannot be locked up?

"There probably are," Sheriff Johnson said, "but I'm telling you, any known violent criminal, we're housing them. We've got murderers in there."

Ashtabula County is the largest county in Ohio by land area.

Ashtabula County Common Pleas Judge Alfred Mackey was asked what residents should do to protect themselves and their families with the severe cutback in law enforcement.

"Arm themselves," the judge said. "Be very careful, be vigilant, get in touch with your neighbors, because we're going to have to look after each other." . . .

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Washington Post's Ombudsman says claims of racial slurs during demonstrations against government medical care bill should finally be investigated

Is the Washington Post's Ombudsman sounding unbiased here? It should also be noted how unusual it was for Democrat leaders to enter the building through the entrance that they used. That they were purposely trying to create a confrontation. That they even had their own video cameras going to tape the interaction.

If there is video or audio evidence of the racial slurs against Lewis and Carson, it has yet to emerge. Breitbart insists they "made it up." If so, they're good actors.

Roxana Tiron, a reporter for the Hill newspaper, said she was talking with a congressional staffer inside a House entrance to the Capitol when a "trembling" and "agitated" Carson said he and Lewis had just been called the N-word by protesters outside. "He literally grabbed me by the arm and . . . said 'You need to come out with me,' " imploring her to step back outside to listen to the taunts. Post reporter Paul Kane was nearby and witnessed Carson's reaction. "It was real. It was raw. It was angry. It was emotional. And he wanted it documented," recalled Kane, who said U.S. Capitol Police prevented them from going outside. Carson later told the Associated Press the protesters had chanted the N-word "15 times." Breitbart told me the "phantom 15 words" is "beyond absurd."

Through spokesman Justin Ohlemiller, Carson stands by his assertion. The spokeswoman for Lewis, Brenda Jones, insists he and his chief of staff heard repeated uses of the N-word. They are declining interviews, she said, because they don't want to "fan the flames of destructive language."

Breitbart's $100,000 challenge may be publicity-seeking theater. But it's part of widespread conservative claims that mainstream media, including The Post, swallowed a huge fabrication. The incidents are weeks old, but it's worth assigning Post reporters to find the truth. After all, a civil rights legend is being called a liar. That aside, there's serious money at stake. . . .

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Dennis Hopper, gun owner

The New York Times refers to Dennis Hopper liking guns as "a gun fetish."

Mr. Hopper’s mushrooming profile as a Hollywood madman. It was an image that Mr. Hopper, who even described his former self as a “maniac” to Mr. Biskind, nurtured with acid trips, a gun fetish, . . .

Of course, this isn't the first time that Hopper has been attacked for owning guns.

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Wasn't it going to be Jobs, Jobs, Jobs as the central focus of the Obama administration?

Not that I was particularly thrilled by the "jobs" program that the Obama administration promised, but they did promise it. They also promised that any new programs would be paid for and not add to the deficit. It appears that the two promises are creating problems for Democrats.

The election-year jobs agenda promised by President Barack Obama and Democrats has stalled seven months before voters determine control of Congress.

Democrats have no money to pay for the program. That's because both Republicans and the Democratic chairman of the Senate Budget Committee objected to taking money left over from the fund that bailed out banks, automakers and insurers and using it for the jobs bill.

Such a move, they insisted, would add tens of billions of dollars to the $12.8 trillion national debt.

An $80 billion-plus Senate plan promised an infusion of cash to build roads and schools, help local governments keep teachers on the payroll, and provide rebates for homeowners who make energy-saving investments. Two months after the plan was introduced, most of those main elements remain on the Senate's shelf.

Obama's proposed $250 bonus payment to Social Security recipients is dead for the year, having lost a Senate vote last month.

What's going ahead instead are more modest initiatives. That includes some help for small business or simple extensions of parts from last year's economic stimulus measure. None is expected to make an appreciable dent in an unemployment rate, stuck at 9.7 percent.

Even legislation to help the jobless has run into trouble. . . .

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"66% Say America Is Overtaxed"

Rasmussen Reports shows:

When thinking about all the services provided by federal, state and local governments, 75% of voters nationwide say the average American should pay no more than 20% of their income in taxes. However, the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that most voters (55%) believe the average American actually pays 30% or more of their income in taxes.
Sixty-six percent (66%) believe that America is overtaxed. Only 25% disagree. . . .