"Union Issues Threat to Dems: Help Us or Pay"

From Fox News:

AFL-CIO union boss Richard Trumka issued a threat to Democrats nationwide at the National Press Club on Friday, calling on them to support his and other unions or face losing their support.

"We will spend the summer holding elected leaders in Congress as well as the states accountable on one measure: Are they improving or degrading life for working families? We are looking hard at how we work in the nation's political arena," Trumka said, according to prepared remarks. "We have listened hard, and what workers want is an independent labor movement that builds the power of working people - in the workplace and in political life." . . .



Kagan was involved in formulating a legal defense for Obamacare before she was appointed to the Supreme Court

Given this new evidence, it would seem to be pretty clear that Kagan should recuse herself from the case on Obamacare. Yet, it also seems pretty clear that she won't. Unfortunately, it is up to the Supreme Court Justice herself to determine whether she should be recused. This is from an article in the Daily Caller:

Newly released documents reveal Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan was more involved with President Obama’s health-care law than she disclosed previously. The documents likely will lead to a revival of questions about whether the Kagan should recuse herself from future cases.

Specifically, the documents show that Kagan was involved with crafting the legal defense of the Affordable Care Act in her role as solicitor general, before her appointment to the bench. The Media Research Center and Judicial Watch obtained the documents through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit that was filed in February 2011.

In an email dated Jan. 8, 2010, then-Deputy Solicitor General Neal Katyal sent an email to Senior Counsel Brian Hauck and Deputy Attorney General Thomas Perrelli that indicates Kagan played a key role in coming up with a legal defense. . . .

Labels: ,


WBAL on Illegal Immigrants Get Special Treatment At University Of Maryland

You can listen to Maxim's interview here.

Labels: ,

New Fox News piece: Team Obama's Debt Limit Scare Tactics Are Getting Old -- Fast

My newest Fox News piece starts this way:

Wasn't the world supposed to end on Monday? No, I'm not talking about May 21. But on Monday, the U.S. government officially hit its debt limit, but where are disasters that the Obama administration have been predicting for months? We were warned that hitting the debt limit would be "deeply irresponsible" or “insanity” or “abrupt contraction would likely push us into a double dip recession.” But Americans woke up today to find nothing really changed from last week.

The Obama administration’s scare tactics are getting old. Unfortunately, they keep on getting away with this and aren’t held accountable when their scare stories prove false.

Take the warning Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner made on January 6th. He wrote Congress a letter asserting: "the debt limit will be reached as early as March 31, 2011, and most likely sometime between that date and May 16, 2011. . . . it is strongly in our national interest for Congress to act well before the debt limit is reached” (italics added). Failure to act before this deadline would lead to "default on legal obligations," "catastrophic damage to the economy, potentially much more harmful than the effects of the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009." Spending will be "discontinued [or] limited" on everything from Social Security and Medicare, U.S. military salaries, Medicaid payments to states, to "forced default on legal [interest] obligations."

The debt limit increase was so critical that President Obama has long opposed any attempts by Republicans to use the debt limit increase to cut the debt, claiming that it had to be a “clean” bill. White House Budget Director Jack Lew told lawmakers in March that it had to be “clean -- it’s irresponsible to do anything but extending the debt limit.” . . .

Labels: , ,

Change in Total Public Debt Outstanding by Month

The data is available here. This is relevant for lifting the debt ceiling debate and how much government spending will have to be cut in August and September. Click chart to make it larger.

For 2009 and 2010, the increase in debt during August and September averages about 90% of what it has in the other 10 months of the year. The bottom line is that without the ability to borrow money next year government spending will have to be cut by 29.5 percent. For August and September, assuming that no additional short-term fixes can be found, spending will have to be cut by 36 percent.



Look at the special favors given to Nevada and Pelosi's district

Is it a coincidence that Pelosi's congressional district and Harry Reid's Nevada rate such special exemptions? This smacks of corruption, that those who have the right political views get rewarded while those on the other side are punished.

Nevada got a partial waiver from the health care law - a significant development that Democrats are dismissing as par for the course and Republicans are claiming as a political victory.

The Health and Human Services Department announced late Friday that Nevada had secured a statewide waiver from certain implementation requirements of the Obama administration's health care law, because forcing them through, the department found, "may lead to the destabilization of the individual market."

The announcement makes Nevada one of only three states to have compliance requirements under the health care bill waived.

Nevada's Insurance Division had appealed to the feds to reduce the federal requirement that health plans serving people who buy insurance on their own must spend at least 80 percent of the money they collect on medical expenses. Under the national rule, companies that don't spend that percentage of revenue on medical costs have to cut policyholders rebate checks starting this year. . . .

And this.

Nancy Pelosi's San Francisco district was the hands-down winner in the latest set of health care law waivers announced by the Obama administration.
More than three dozen businesses with locations in Pelosi's district were granted temporary exemptions from the law in April, according to information released by the Department of Health and Human Services. The businesses -- mostly restaurants and cafes, with a few upscale hotels and clubs mixed in -- accounted for about 20 percent of all waivers granted last month.
Pelosi's office did not respond to a request for comment. It was unclear why so many of the affected businesses were in her district, though the Obama administration, in a statement on the White House blog, said the original waiver requests came from a "third-party administrator" called Flex Plan Services.
According to the administration, the company administers health plans in several states, including California, and made a total of 92 waiver requests in March. Many of them were apparently for businesses in San Francisco. . . .

Labels: ,

Should media be allowed to cover the White House events based on whether they give Obama positive coverage?

At what point will these types of events become news worthy? Doesn't the media get upset about this type of political favoritism? From the Boston Herald:

The White House Press Office has refused to give the Boston Herald full access to President Obama’s Boston fund-raiser today, in e-mails objecting to the newspaper’s front page placement of a Mitt Romney op-ed, saying pool reporters are chosen based on whether they cover the news “fairly.”

“I tend to consider the degree to which papers have demonstrated to covering the White House regularly and fairly in determining local pool reporters,” White House spokesman Matt Lehrich wrote in response to a Herald request for full access to the presidential visit. . . .

But Lehrich said the Herald wasn’t purposefully barred from the press pool, saying local pool duty by the Boston Globe was arranged earlier with the White House Correspondents Association. And Lehrich insisted the Herald may yet be allowed into Obama events.

“As we have in the past — including the multiple occasions on which the Herald has supplied local pool reporters — we will continue to consider the Herald for local pool duty for future visits,” Lehrich wrote.

Obama is in town today to raise money for his 2012 re-election campaign. His afternoon speech in the South End’s Cyclorama is open to all media, but only a selected pool can attend other aspects of his fund-raiser. Pool reporters must share all their material with other press. The Herald has been bypassed for pool duty during Obama’s last two visits despite asking the White House to be the local pool reporter.

“Newspapers don’t have to be unbiased to get access. You can’t just let only the newspapers you want in,” said Boston University journalism professor Fred Bayles. . . .


Mexico: When the police can't protect you

So what do you do if the government can't protect your from crime? Well, in Mexico, it is pretty hard for you to do much of anything, legally.

BTW, one other point. Apparently I don't live next to the cool US gun stores. If the Mexican drug gangs get their weapons from the US, could someone please tell which gun stores sell anti-aircraft guns, a grenade launcher, and dozens of grenades. This is a useful article on many points.

Despite strict gun-control laws in Mexico, crime scenes are riddled with bullet holes. Both drug cartels and common criminals have guns. Now more private citizens are arming themselves for protection, even if it means breaking the law.

“People are desperate,” said Rogelio “Chief” Bravo, a private investigator in El Paso who has worked for clients just across the border in Ciudad Juarez too. “They’re telling the government, if you can’t protect us, let us protect ourselves.”

Juarez is ground zero in the drug war with 8,000 killings since the city exploded in violence in 2008.
Mexican authorities regularly display the weapons they confiscate from powerful drug traffickers.

Earlier this month, federal police raided a home in an upscale neighborhood in Ciudad Juarez looking for kidnapping victims. Instead they found a well-stocked arsenal that included three anti-aircraft guns, a grenade launcher, dozens of grenades, AK47s and several machine guns.

The stash was hidden behind a mirrored wall in a gym that opened at the touch of a button on the floor. Inside with the weapons and ammunition there was a poster of the 1983 movie drug lord “Scarface” played by Al Pacino.

Many ordinary residents in Mexico believe guns are banned.

“The Mexican constitution allows people to possess firearms,” explained John Hubert, a certified-concealed hand gun instructor in El Paso. “But over the years the government has passed so many requirements and laws and restrictions that it’s basically almost impossible.” . . . .

Gun owners in Mexico by law must register their weapons with the military, which is the only authorized gun dealer. Any weapon above 22 calibers is only authorized for military use.

“People cannot defend themselves,” said Bravo, the private investigator as he practiced his shot at a shooting range in El Paso. He then demonstrated the tiny bullet hole from a 22 compared to the larger 9 mm, or even larger 40 caliber firearm on the target. . . .

Labels: , , ,

Democrat accuses Republicans of trying to disenfranchise voters

Donna Brazile has this at USA Today:

The motivation is political — a cynical effort to restrict voting by traditionally Democratic-leaning Americans. In more than 30 states, GOP legislators are on the move, from a sweeping rewrite of Florida's election laws to new rules for photo identification in Ohio, Wisconsin, North Carolina and more than 20 other states.

As a result, 11% of Americans —21 million citizens of voting age who lack proper photo identification — could be turned away on Election Day. And these people tend to be most highly concentrated among people of color, the poor, the young and the old. . . .

People get IDs if they have a reason to get one. If they want to drive, they get a driver's license. If they want to vote, they can get some type of state or Federal issued photo ID. If the cost of the ID is $20 or $25, it hardly seems like that it is much of a burden, but states even go beyond that and will pay for the IDs for those who can't afford this small fee. If people don't get an ID, they likely didn't want to vote. Here is the irony, Dems demand a free ID because anything else would deny people the option to vote. Yet, these same people have no problem allowing much, much larger fees before people can own a gun.



Why is the CDC doing this "research" on guns?

Why does USA Today cover this? Why is this news worthy enough for an article by them? If it was important enough for a news story, why couldn't USA Today simply assign a reporter to spend a few hours going through the FBI UCR reports to get this information? The value added from the CDC doing this seems negligible. I can only imagine how much tax dollars was wasted by the CDC restating the FBI UCR numbers. In the discussion of 10 to 19 year olds committing most of the murders, couldn't they have mentioned that virtually none of these were by the younger kids in this range. Why not include have the range from 5 to 19? It would be even more sensational.

UPDATE: Let me be clear about this. The title of this posting was important. The central issue was the CDC report and the news coverage given to the CDC, not the point about gun violence per se. Given that the CDC is just repeating information already put out by the Justice Department, why is this news worthy enough for an article by them? There is nothing new in this CDC report. Not only is this out in the DOJ numbers, it has been discussed for years. My first edition of More Guns, Less Crime pointed out that in 1992 over 70 percent of the murders take place in just 3.5 percent of the counties. The fact that most murders occur in urban areas and actually a very small portion of those urban areas is nothing new. Note as an aside, that the gun ownership rate among law-abiding citizens is also much lower in these urban areas. The CDC is just restating what is already in the FBI UCR numbers and adding nothing new to that discussion and they are distorting even that by not making it clear over what ages the murders are occurring. If the CDC is going to do a study, it should add something new to the debate. Otherwise our tax dollars are just being wasted.

Typo fixed in the original first paragraph.

UPDATE 2: Media Matters has an attack on this post available here. Can Media Matters get anything right? There claim about "Based on the CDC data" is the whole point of my post. This is DOJ data, and the CDC added nothing to the DOJ UCR report about murders being concentrated in urban areas.

The USA Today piece is available here.

Large metropolitan areas suffer about two-thirds of all firearm homicides in the United States, with inner cities most affected, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"The central cities really bear the burden of firearm homicides," said Linda L. Dahlberg, the associate director for science in CDC's Division of Violence Prevention, noting that the gun murder rate was highest among male children and teens.
These findings "speak to the importance of addressing youth if we really want to do something about the gun violence problem," Dahlberg said.
According to the CDC, 25,423 murders by gunfire took place in the United States in 2006 through 2007 — the years of the most recent available statistics.
Among these deaths, the rate of firearm homicides was higher in inner cities than in other parts of cities and higher than the murder rate of the country as a whole, Dahlberg said. People living in 50 of the largest cities, in fact, accounted for 67% of all firearm homicides.
In addition, children and teens aged 10 to 19 in these areas — more than 85% of them male — accounted for 73% of all firearm homicides, Dahlberg noted. . . .

Labels: , , ,

Bachmann moves up her announcement decision

Bachmann would be an awesome candidate. My own guess is that she is going to run. It would be tough losing her in the house, but she needs more of a national platform.

Rep. Michele Bachmann hasn't declared yet whether she's in it to win it, but the Minnesota Republican may be "moving up" her June deadline for announcing a presidential campaign decision, she said Tuesday.
Claiming an "outpouring of interest" for her to make a go for a 2012 GOP nomination, Bachmann told Fox News that her decision will be made in part on her ability to raise money, grassroots support and development of a winning strategy.
Bachmann, who last quarter raised more than $3 million for a political action committee, said she has collected more money than any other candidate, including former Minnesota governor and would-be frontrunner Mitt Romney, that can be used in a presidential bid.
Bachmann added that she has traveled numerous times to early primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina and has received tremendous support. . . .

This headline says everything about Mitch Daniels: "GOP elite see Mitch Daniels as 2012 savior"

Labels: ,

"How politicians dodge questions" & "Conservative Candidates are Often Better-Looking"

A couple of interesting articles are available here.


Home building plunges again

If you thought that home building was already low, here it is dropping further.

For homebuilders, it hardly feels like an economic recovery.
Nearly two years after the recession ended, the pace of construction is inching along at less than half the level considered healthy. Single-family home building, the bulk of the market, has dropped 11 percent in that time.
Builders are struggling to compete with waves of foreclosures that have forced down prices for previously occupied homes. The weakness is weighing on the economy: Though new homes represent a small portion of overall sales, they have an outsized effect on jobs.
The Commerce Department said Tuesday that new-home construction plummeted in April to a seasonally adjusted rate of 523,000 homes per year. A major drop in volatile apartment building pulled down the monthly figures. And strong tornadoes and flooding also disrupted construction projects throughout the South. . . .
The April drop in new-home construction was largely because apartment and condominium building plunged more than 28 percent. Single-family home construction, which makes up roughly 80 percent of the market, fell about 5 percent. . . .


With all the scare stories about what will happen from a government "shutdown" will the economy really be hurt?

So what impact did the previous big shutdown have on GDP during the fourth quarter of 1995 and the first quarter of 1996? If you can see a negative impact on national income, you have a better eye than I do.

There was also no real changes in unemployment rates.

Labels: , ,

Why it can be valuable to carry a gun and a recorder

Carrying a gun protects people from criminals, but it turns out that carrying a tape recorder can also pretty important. The Phildelphia Daily News yesterday showed just how valuable a tape recorder can be. Some police in Philadelphia apparently didn't know what Pennsylvania and Philadelphia laws are on law-abiding citizens carrying handguns. Given that there are about 800,000 concealed handgun permit holders in Pennsylvania, there could be a lot of misunderstandings. Police are extremely important in stopping crime, but even they can make mistakes. Hopefully because this incident was taped there will be a few less mistakes in how Philadelphia police treat permit holders in the future.

On a mild February afternoon, Fiorino, 25, decided to walk to an AutoZone on Frankford Avenue in Northeast Philly with the .40-caliber Glock he legally owns holstered in plain view on his left hip. His stroll ended when someone called out from behind: "Yo, Junior, what are you doing?"
Fiorino wheeled and saw Sgt. Michael Dougherty aiming a handgun at him.
What happened next would be hard to believe, except that Fiorino audio-recorded all of it: a tense, profanity-laced, 40-minute encounter with cops who told him that what he was doing - openly carrying a gun on the city's streets - was against the law.
"Do you know you can't openly carry here in Philadelphia?" Dougherty asked, according to the YouTube clip.
"Yes, you can, if you have a license to carry firearms," Fiorino said. "It's Directive 137. It's your own internal directive."

Unfortunately, referencing the actual law correctly didn't have the desired effect on the police.

Fiorino offered to show Dougherty his driver's and firearms licenses. The cop told him to get on his knees.
"Excuse me?" Fiorino said.
"Get down on your knees. Just obey what I'm saying," Dougherty said.
"Sir," Fiorino replied, "I'm more than happy to stand here -"
"If you make a move, I'm going to f------ shoot you," Dougherty snapped. "I'm telling you right now, you make a move, and you're going down!"
"Is this necessary?" Fiorino said.
It went on like that for a little while, until other officers responded to Dougherty's calls for backup.
Fiorino was forced to the ground and shouted at as he tried to explain that he had a firearms license and was legally allowed to openly carry his weapon.
"You f------ come here looking for f------ problems? Where do you live?" yelled one officer.
"I'm sorry, gentlemen," Fiorino said. "If I'm under arrest, I have nothing left to say."
"F------ a------, shut the f--- up!" the cop hollered.
The cops discovered his recorder as they searched his pockets, and unleashed another string of expletives.
Fiorino said he sat handcuffed in a police wagon while the officers made numerous phone calls to supervisors, trying to find out if they could lock him up.
When they learned that they were in the wrong, they let him go. . . .



Decision reached in Richards v. County of Yolo

The Federal judge in the Yolo case has ruled against the plaintiffs would had been denied concealed handgun permits. The judge's decision was that since you can carry an unloaded gun that you can quickly load openly, there isn't a problem.

Under the statutory scheme, even if Plaintiffs are denied a concealed weapon license for self-defense purposes from Yolo County, they are still more than free to keep an unloaded weapon nearby their person, load it, and use it for self-defense in circumstances that may occur in a public setting. Yolo County’s policy does not substantially burden Plaintiffs’ right to bear and keep arms. Therefore, rational basis review applies. . . .

So what does the California state legislature do today?

The California Assembly voted Tuesday to ban openly carrying handguns in public. . . .

Supporters of the bill, including author Lori Saldana (D-San Diego), argued that the practice intimidates the unarmed and wastes police resources because officers frequently have to respond to worried callers saying there's a person with a gun outside Starbucks, or a similarly crowded public space. The ban is supported by the California Police Chiefs Assn.

It is currently legal to openly carry a gun in public in California as long as it's not loaded. Some gun enthusiasts have been known to carry ammunition in a separate pocket, supporters of the bill said.

Opponents argued that there have been no serious incidents associated with openly carrying firearms in California, and called the bill a solution in search of a problem. . . .

Labels: ,

The EU bailout hasn't worked so well

It is pretty hard to keep a country from going further into debt if they don't face a penalty from doing it. The bailouts just protect the country from having to fix things.

IT WAS a year ago that the European Union produced its big bazooka to quell the euro area’s sovereign-debt crisis: a €750 billion fund to safeguard the single currency, following within days of the €110 billion bail-out of Greece. It did not work. Ireland has since been bailed out, and a rescue of Portugal is in the works. Greece looks closer than ever to defaulting, or at least to having its debt restructured.

After a year of muddling along, the EU seems more muddled than ever. The disarray was painfully apparent over the weekend. News of a secret meeting of selected European finance ministers (including Greece's man, George Papaconstantinou, pictured above) in Luxembourg on May 6th was promptly leaked. Der Spiegel reported that Greece was considering leaving the euro zone; the briefing note for the German finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, made clear this would be economic suicide. It would greatly expand (perhaps double) Greece’s debt burden, provoke capital flight, cause turmoil across Europe’s banks and endanger the country’s membership of the EU. Greece described the report as "borderline criminal".

. . . Greece was downgraded again by Standard & Poor's yesterday . . . .

Labels: ,

Dem Congressman says higher taxes on oil companies will lower fuel prices

Lower taxes is the same as subsidies to Democrats. In any case, whatever you want to call these lower taxes, it seems like a big stretch to go from raising taxes to lower prices. You can read this discussion multiple times and I don't think you will see an explanation for the claim.

CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC HOST: "Let me ask you is there anything Congress can do to lower fuel prices?"

REP. STEVE ISRAEL (D-NY): "Yeah, there's lots of things we can do. Start by eliminating the $4 billion subsidy that big oil companies get."

JANSING: "They say, Congressman, they say that will not affect the price of gas."

ISRAEL: "Well, of course they're going to say that. They're getting the subsidies. It doesn't surprise me that a bunch of rich oil executives would go to Congress and say 'don't touch our subsidies, you have to lower our taxes.' That's a self-serving argument. It is just ludicrous that we are continuing to provide $4 billion a year in subsidies to big oil companies that are making more profits than they've ever made. And the notion that we can end Medicare in order to fund tax cuts and tax subsidies to oil companies is really transforming this election and electoral battleground."

Labels: ,

With Fed ban on 100 Watt bulbs looming, substitute LED bulbs cost $50

If these mandated bulbs were efficient, that they saved enough energy to offset their higher initial price, no one would have to mandate them.

Two leading makers of lighting products are showcasing LED bulbs that are bright enough to replace energy-guzzling 100-watt light bulbs set to disappear from stores in January.
Their demonstrations at the LightFair trade show in Philadelphia this week mean that brighter LED bulbs will likely go on sale next year, but after a government ban takes effect.
The new bulbs will also be expensive — about $50 each — so the development may not prevent consumers from hoarding traditional bulbs. . . .
To encourage energy efficiency, Congress passed a law in 2007 mandating that bulbs producing 100 watts worth of light meet certain efficiency goals, starting in 2012. Conventional light bulbs don't meet those goals, so the law will prohibit making or importing them. The same rule will start apply to remaining bulbs 40 watts and above in 2014. Since January, California has already banned stores from restocking 100-watt incandescent bulbs.
Creating good alternatives to the light bulb has been more difficult than expected, especially for the very bright 100-watt bulbs. Part of the problem is that these new bulbs have to fit into lamps and ceiling fixtures designed for older technology.
Compact fluorescents are the most obvious replacement, but they have drawbacks. They contain a small amount of toxic mercury vapor, which is released if they break or are improperly thrown away. They last longer than traditional bulbs but not as long as LEDs. Brighter models are bulky and may not fit in existing fixtures. . . .

Labels: ,


Here is an interview that I did a couple of years ago on Coast-to-Coast AM, George is always a lot of fun to talk to


"The True Story of the Financial Crisis"

Peter J. Wallison has an excellent article available here.