More of Maine's population getting welfare than paying taxes?

Despite the numbers debate here, when you include the children on welfare the answer is clearly yes.

There are more Mainers receiving welfare benefits than there are income tax filers paying taxes, Republican Gov. Paul LePage said Saturday.

But Democrats said LePage’s numbers are deceptive and not entirely truthful.

In reiterating his call for the need to cut humans services programs to save money, the governor said in his weekly radio address that Maine had 453,000 people receiving welfare benefits in 2010. At the same, he said, the state had only 445,000 people who paid taxes.

LePage said he doesn’t relish the thought of people being hurt by spending cuts, but said it isn’t fair to cover the $221 million Medicaid funding shortage by raising taxes or asking other state agencies to make up the difference. Rather, the state needs to rein in Medicaid costs and restructure the program, he said. . . .

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How bad is California's Public Employees Retirement Fund?

Daniel Borenstein has a great article here that should be clear to everyone. He explains how the severe problems are being hidden.

The return rates also affect assessments of the current health of the pension systems. If they're counting on greater investment returns, the pension systems don't need as many assets now. Using a 7.75 percent investment forecast, CalPERS, as of June 30, had only about 74 percent of the funds it should have had, Nation calculated. But assuming a 6.2 percent annual return means the system had only 58 percent of funds it should have had.
Here's another way of thinking about it: Assuming future annual returns of 7.75 percent, the three pension systems combined were short $143 billion, or $11,703 for each California household. At a more realistic 6.2 percent investment assumption, they're short $291 billion, or $23,852 per household. Thus, the higher assumptions hide the magnitude of the problem.
We can insist on properly funding the systems now. Or we can keep hoping we'll win this risky gamble on the markets -- and we'll keep piling up more debt when we lose. . . .


Libertarian cities?

While this is interesting, the problem that I have is: what guarantee do these places have that a future Honduran government won't renege on the agreement?

DISGUSTED by an increasingly invasive state, America’s most capable entrepreneurs retreat to Galt’s Gulch, a libertarian commune. That was the theme of Ayn Rand’s magnum opus, “Atlas Shrugged”, a sacred text for libertarians ever since it was published in 1957. Actually creating such an enclave has been the dream of many fans of small government (or of none at all). Several have had a try at it, but their efforts have always ended in disaster (see table).

Now, for the first time, libertarians have a real chance to implement their ideas. In addition to a big special development region, the Honduran government intends to approve two smaller zones. And two libertarian-leaning start-ups have already signed a preliminary memorandum of understanding with the Honduran government to develop them. . . .

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Democrats say that Obama will kill the Keystone pipeline deal

From The Hill newspaper:

. . . A senior Obama administration official noted that the president said he would not accept an attempt by Congress to mandate construction before adequate review of health and safety regulations.

The officials said the House-passed Keystone language merely speeds up the decision process but does not determine whether the project would be approved.

Officials at the State Department, which has authority over approving the project, said they would not be able to conduct the necessary review if given only 60 days, the timeline set by House Republicans.

A spokesman for Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Democrats are trying to spin the outcome of the payroll tax relief talks in the best possible light.

“If it was not such a big deal, why did they fight so hard to keep the language out of the bill,” said the aide. “Take it with a grain of salt.” . . . .

What isn't mentioned is how incredibly long the decision process on the pipeline has already been. Here is a New York Times article from July 27, 2010 where they were talking about delaying the decision until the end of 2010 instead of September 15th, 2010 as they planned. Now we are at the end of 2011, and Obama announced on November 10th that he wanted to delay the decision until 2013.

The State Department said it would delay its decision on a permit for a contentious $7 billion pipeline project intended to deliver crude oil from the oil sands of the province of Alberta in Canada, to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast. . . .

The department provided no timeline for completion of the environmental assessment, but at the least, a decision on the permit would be delayed until the end of this year. . . .

Here is an AP article from October 2010. This indicated that the project was giving a positive report from the State Department back in April 2010.

The steel is staged, and crews are waiting to lay the last and most expensive leg of TransCanada Corp.'s multibillion-dollar pipeline network that would carry Canadian oil to refineries along the Gulf Coast.
Yet final U.S. government approval for the massive project, once assumed to be on a fast track, is now delayed indefinitely, with little official explanation. The company had hoped to begin laying pipe by the end of the year, but those prospects have dimmed. . . .
"I don't know that it was expected to take this long, but it's not a simple process," State Department spokesman Bill Cook said last week. "It's cross-border, across several states, and all these interests have to be reconciled."
In April, the State Department published a draft report giving the Keystone XL pipeline a favorable environmental score, but that was just days before the Gulf Oil spill hit. Other oil-related disasters followed, including Enbridge Inc.'s broken pipeline that spilled hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan. . . .

Back in the beginning of 2009, money was being raised for the project.

Oilsands firms want TransCanada Corp. (TSX: TRP) to charge ahead with its Keystone pipeline to the U.S. Gulf Coast even though that sector has been seeing a big slowdown recently, executives for the pipeline company said Tuesday.

"Our shippers are keen on getting that pipeline built as quickly as we can," said Russ Girling, president of pipelines, on a conference call to discuss the company's earnings. . . .

The continual delays are imposing real costs on the project as well as oil production in the Midwest and the refining capability in the gulf area. Canada will instead start selling the oil to China if the Obama administration continues to delay the project. The environmental problems from shipping by sea are much greater than shipping over land.

A further delay would not only be a blow to TransCanada, it could also prolong a massive gap between U.S. and global oil prices because oil traders are counting on Keystone's 700,000 barrel-per-day capacity to relieve a build-up of crude in the Midwest, which doesn't have enough pipelines to ship growing Canadian output to Gulf Coast refineries for use around the United States. . . .

Remember Obama's statement from just 10 days ago. At that

"Any effort to try to tie Keystone to the payroll tax cut I will reject. So everybody should be on notice."

Newt had this quote in the Fox News debate this past week.

The president of the United States cannot figure out that it is utterly irrational to say, 'I am going to veto a middle-class tax cut to protect left-wing environmental extremists in San Francisco, to say we are going to kill American jobs, weaken American energy, make us more vulnerable to the Iranians,' and do it in a way that makes no sense to any normal rational American," Gingrich said to a loud ovation from the audience at the Sioux City Conference Center. . . .

The Cable has this:

Former National Security Advisor Jim Jones called today for quick action on the Keystone XL pipeline construction, directly opposing the White House he worked for only a few months ago. . . .

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"Boy disciplined after waving gun-shaped pizza slice"

Zero Tolerance gone mad. The school says that he isn't being punished for having a piece of pizza shaped like a gun, but because he was "making some threatening hand gestures" with the piece of pizza and handled the pizza like a gun.

For the rest of the semester, a Rutherford County elementary student has to eat lunch at the "silent table" for allegedly waving around a slice of pizza some say resembled a gun.

Nicholas Taylor attends David Youree Elementary School in Smyrna, about 30 miles southeast of Nashville.

School leaders say the 10-year-old threatened other students at his lunch table with a piece of pizza with bites out of it so it looked like a gun and when asked about it was initially not truthful.

Nicholas' mother LeAnn calls her son's punishment "absolutely ridiculous" saying he was just playing around and never said anything derogatory or anything about shooting anyone.

"The kid across the table from him said it looked like a gun so he picked it up and started shooting it in the air," she told Nashville's News 2 Investigates.

Taylor said she learned of the incident when the school sent her a note saying her son was threatening other students.

James Evans, spokesperson for the Rutherford County School District, said the boy isn't being punished because he had a piece of pizza shaped like a gun.

He's being punished because "some students reported he was making some threatening hand gestures, that he was shooting other kids at the table and they reported it to a teacher," according to Evans. . . .


American Taxpayers paying for hidden climate data?

A new piece by my son Maxim:

Are your tax dollars helping hide global warming data from the public? Internal emails leaked as part of “Climategate 2.0” indicate the answer may be "Yes."
The original Climategate emails -- correspondence stolen from servers at a research facility in the U.K. and released on the Internet in late 2009 -- shook up the field of climate research. Now a new batch posted in late November to a Russian server shows that scientists at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit refused to share their U.S. government-funded data with anyone they thought would disagree with them.
Making that case in 2009, the then-head of the Research Unit, Dr. Phil Jones, told colleagues repeatedly that the U.S. Department of Energy was funding his data collection -- and that officials there agreed that he should not have to release the data. . . .

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"75% Support Showing Photo ID At The Polls"

Despite the Obama administration's best efforts to strike down photo IDs, Rasmussen reports that there is an overwhelming level of support for these rules.


Why the intolerance from liberals?

This clip has a discussion by Bill Press. I am not a particularly religious person myself, but does anyone really have to listen to such commentary by Tim Tebow so carefully that they get this upset? Why does Press get so angry?


The SEC sues Ex-Freddie, Fannie CEOs over Fraud

Now even the SEC is accusing Fannie and Freddie of committing fraud.

The lawsuits filed today in Manhattan federal court were followed by an SEC statement that it had entered into “non- prosecution agreements” with each company. Fannie Mae, the government-sponsored enterprise which issues almost half of all mortgage-backed securities, and Freddie Mac, the McLean, Virginia-based mortgage-finance company, had “agreed to accept responsibility” for their conduct, the SEC said.
In the lawsuits, the SEC said Syron, Mudd and other executives understated exposure to subprime mortgage loans. From 2007 to 2008, Freddie Mac executives said the company’s exposure was from $2 billion to $6 billion when it was actually as high as $244 billion, according to one SEC complaint.
From 2006 to 2008, Washington-based Fannie Mae executives said the firm’s exposure to subprime mortgage and reduced- documentation loans was about $4.8 billion when it was almost 10 times greater, according to the regulator.
‘Told the World’
“Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac executives told the world that their subprime exposure was substantially smaller than it really was,” Robert Khuzami, director of the SEC’s enforcement division, said today in a statement. “These material misstatements occurred during a time of acute investor interest in financial institutions’ exposure to subprime loans, and misled the market about the amount of risk on the company’s books.” . . .

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Incandescent light bulb ban enforcement temporarily stopped

From the Washington Times (December 16, 2011):

Congressional negotiators struck a deal Thursday that overturns the new rules that were to have banned sales of traditional incandescent light bulbs beginning next year.

That agreement is tucked inside the massive 1,200-page spending bill that funds the government through the rest of this fiscal year, and which both houses of Congress will vote on Friday. Mr. Obama is expected to sign the bill, which heads off a looming government shutdown.

Congressional Republicans dropped almost all of the policy restrictions they tried to attach to the bill, but won inclusion of the light bulb provision, which prevents the Obama administration from carrying through a 2007 law that would have set energy efficiency standards that effectively made the traditional light bulb obsolete. . . .

The title of the Washington Times piece ("Congress overturns incandescent light bulb ban") is misleading because Congress didn't repeal the ban, it only "defunded" it, which means the law is still on the books. It's just not enforced given zero money to do so. Does anyone have any doubts that a future Democratic-controlled Congress with a statist President, like Bush, will happily vote funds to implement the law?

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Obama White House rewrites story for Marine who won Medal of Honor

So why isn't this part of the Washington Post story the lead? You have to get to the 17th paragraph to find this.

The Marine officials, who requested anonymity because of the issue’s sensitivity, acknowledged that portions of the narrative were changed from the account Williams submitted. They said that the changes occurred between July, when Obama approved Meyer’s medal nomination, and the September White House ceremony. Inaccuracies were written into the citation and the narrative of Meyer’s deeds, although the narrative contained far more errors and exaggerations.

The president’s version drew on materials the Marine Corps provided but it was written in the White House, the Marine officials said. While there’s no indication that the White House knew that Obama was narrating an embellished story — to an audience of several hundred Meyer family members, top officials, lawmakers and service members — the revelations could tarnish one of the signature moments of his time as commander in chief.

The White House said Obama’s remarks were based primarily on “extensive documentation provided by the Department of Defense and the Marine Corps,” including sworn testimony from Meyer and other eyewitnesses. It also relied on news reports and on a 2011 book, “The Wrong War” by Bing West. However, McClatchy found that the book’s account of the battle is riddled with inaccuracies.

Sterner said errors in citations had always haunted recipients and that many Medal of Honor winners had been cited for things they didn’t do. He added that the mounting pressure to find a living recipient has made mistakes in details almost inevitable. . . .


Why do dinners cost more than lunches at the same restaurant?

Well, I am glad that my book Freedomnomics mentions a couple of those explanations (I don’t have the one about the A-team). The competition explanation doesn’t seem right. You can see this phenomenon in DC with a whole row of restaurants right next to each other. Lunch might compete with “in-house cafeterias, the dirty water hot dog cart, chain restaurants, and delivery businesses,” but for dinner you are also less likely to eat right near where you work or live. Jonas M Luster has this discussion:

. . . Some things are static, such as my lease, power, linens, licenses, etc. Other things vary between lunch and dinner:

Lunch isn't prepared and served by my A-team. Many times waiters and cooks have to prove themselves during lunch before being allowed on the dinner line. This means I pay less in payroll.
Lunch doesn't usually serve a full menu. The menu is optimized for faster production and oftentimes smaller portioned. Smaller menu means less storage, smaller dishes mean less storage, and faster turnaround means less secondary storage costs (hot/warm holding, etc.)
Lunch diners spend an average of 45 minutes from entry to exit, dinner guests take over twice as long. This means faster turnaround during lunch hours, which either means more covers or less staff needed. Both saves me money.
Lunch guests don't want/need candles and expensive bottles of water. They want food. We cater to this by dropping down to the bare bone of fine dining hospitality, removing fluff.

Last, but not least, lunch is a competitive market. We compete with in-house cafeterias, the dirty water hot dog cart, chain restaurants, and delivery businesses. By pricing ourselves competitively we ensure good covers every day of the week (low day is Tuesday, high day is Thursday, by the way) and a hot, pre-stocked, kitchen for dinner. That saves us money (I don't have to pay someone to come in at 3pm and set up stocks and sauces, for example, I can have the lunch crew do those during slows and as part of their prep) and time, which in and by itself is money. . . .

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Obama claims that he is the fourth most successful president?

I don't think that this is true about the amount of legislation passed, but let's say it is. Does it matter if what was done was beneficial? How has our economic recovery compared to that in other countries? Hint: not very well. Does it matter that he is willing to brag so much about what he has done?


On George Will claiming that Newt isn't a conservative

George Will consistently supported Gerald Ford over Ronald Reagan during the 1976 Republican Presidential primaries. Here are some examples of his writing and the discussions it engendered.

From the St. Petersburg Times January 21, 1976

Sarasota Herald-Tribune - Feb 1, 1976
Here is another piece by Will available here (Sarasota Herald-Tribune - Jan 23, 1976).

In 1979, Will was still critical of Reagan and happily taking Ford's statements about Reagan as accurate (Sarasota Herald-Tribune - Sep 4, 1979). Here is a piece where Will was relatively positive about Howard Baker as the 1980 Republican presidential candidate (Sarasota Herald-Tribune - Mar 10, 1979).

Will likes Romney, and (correctly) attacked Newt for going after Romney's business decisions to lay off workers. But I might also add that Mitt Romney attacking Newt over his wealth hardly seems like a conservative line of attack. From CBS News:

In the wake of his attempt to make a $10,000 bet with Rick Perry during Saturday's Republican presidential debate - a move that put a spotlight on Romney's $190 million-plus net worth and prompted critics to cast him as out of touch - the former Massachusetts governor told CBS News on Wednesday that his chief rival for the nomination is a "very wealthy man."

"Newt Gingrich has wealth from having worked in government," Romney told CBS News political correspondent Jan Crawford in an interview in New York. "He's a wealthy man, a very wealthy man. If you have a half a million dollar purchase from Tiffany's, you're not a middle class American." . . .

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Remember when Obama touted the success of the Stimulus

It seems like so long ago, but way back in 2009 Obama claimed that the Stimulus was working.

President Obama offered a laudatory assessment Wednesday night of his early days in office, suggesting the worst of the economic crisis has passed and Americans have regained some of their old confidence.

Speaking to a well-heeled audience of campaign donors in Beverly Hills, Obama was strikingly upbeat and assured. He said he would stack his first four months in office against any president going back as far as Franklin D. Roosevelt. . . .

Now look at what Obama claims two-and-a-half years later:

"We didn't create the condition. We haven't solved it fully yet because it was three decades in the making," President Obama said about the economy in an interview with WVEC-TV. . . .


The rise of regulations under Obama

Obama blames automation for unemployment

Before he was blaming kiosks for the problems. From Real Clear Politics:

Obama also blames "automation" for a continuing poor economy.

"I mean, if you look at the trend lines, essentially what’s happened is that because of automation, because of globalization. You had a lot of manufacturing move out of the United States," Obama told WVEC-TV's David Alan. . . .


Hurricane forecasts apparently no better than a random guess

This is almost too hard for me to believe. You would have to think we know enough to narrow down the range of possibilities a little bit. But if we really can't forecast the number of hurricanes a few months in advance, what about longer term forecasts? Philip J. Klotzbach and William M. Gray write this:

We have suspended issuing quantitative forecasts at this extended-range lead time, since they have not proved skillful over the last 20 years. We attribute the primary reasons for the lack of skill of our early December forecast due to the breakdown of several long-term relationships that worked well in many years of hindcast data, but not in real-time forecasting.

We would never have issued a seasonal hurricane forecast that did not show significant skill on many years of hindcast data. In addition, no statistical or dynamical models have shown skill at predicting El Niño – Southern Oscillation (ENSO) at this extended forecast lead time of 9-12 months. . . .


Even liberals find the White House Budget rhetoric over the top

Here is the Washington Post evaluation of the Obama administration's rhetoric about spending cuts in the House GOP payroll tax bill.

“Their proposal ... makes harmful cuts to things like education, that strengthen middle-class security. Their plan seeks to put the burden on working families, while giving a free pass to the wealthiest and big corporations, by protecting their loopholes and subsidies.”

--White House spokesman Jay Carney, Dec. 9, 2011 . . .

But no matter where you look in the CBO score, you cannot find cuts for education, energy or veterans. So how does the White House justify this claim?

At the bottom of Table 1 of the CBO report, there is a line regarding changes in spending subject to “caps on discretionary funding.” That shows a reduction in outlays of about $9 billion over five years and $26 billion over 10 years.

House Republicans say they wanted to capture the savings from a proposed one-year freeze in federal employee wages. The freeze would amount to about $1.2 billion in one year, but over time the freeze builds up savings because all future salaries would increase from a lower base. . . .

In a stunning leap of logic, the White House claims that it knows this reduction in spending will fall on education, clean energy and veterans programs. House Republicans did not reduce the defense side of the ledger, even though civilian Pentagon salaries are affected, giving some credence to the White House focus on such programs. But, still, the White House has no idea how future Congresses will write the budget, especially 10 years from now.

Moreover, the money is almost a rounding error in the context of the federal budget. The nondefense discretionary budget will be $5 trillion to $6 trillion over the next 10 years, so this amounts to perhaps one-half of one percent of that amount — even if you accept the White House line that this law will mean additional cuts. . . .

Administration officials say that Carney was merely offering an illustrative list of what could be cut, but it certainly did not sound like that. He spoke with certainty, decrying the “burden on working families” that would result from the House GOP bill. . . .

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Can Plymouth State University in New Hampshire ban permitted concealed handguns?

A hearing in New Hampshire court will decide it.

A temporary restraining order that would prohibit weapons on the Plymouth State University campus remains in effect following a court hearing Tuesday on whether they can be banned.

The order was made last Thursday, the day before two men planned to bring loaded firearms to the campus in protest of a policy that bans deadly weapons. Through a statement issued last week on www.FreeKeene.com, former Epping police officer Bradley Jardis of Dover and Tommy Mozingo of Manchester announced their action to carry “unconcealed, loaded, slung rifles” in protest of what they say is an illegal ban.

On Tuesday, attorneys for PSU and Jardis and Mozingo argued the restraining order in Grafton County Superior Court. At the conclusion of the 45-minute hearing, Judge Timothy Vaughn took the arguments under advisement and set a Jan. 3 court date for both sides to further argue the constitutional issues in the case. With no ruling, the restraining order remains in effect. . . .

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Unions require PIcture Voter ID to Vote in their elections

From Politico

Something to remember when you read things such as this:

The American Civil Liberties Union sued the State of Wisconsin on Tuesday over a new law requiring voters to show government-issued photo identification, charging that the measure violates the U.S. Constitution.

The lawsuit says that the state is infringing on some citizens' right to vote and to be treated equally under the law and amounts to a kind of poll tax on voters who lack the documents needed to get an approved ID.

Republican lawmakers and Gov. Scott Walker, who is named in the lawsuit along with a long list of other state officials, have said they believe the measure will withstand a court challenge.

The action came Tuesday ahead of a scheduled speech by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in which he vowed to enforce civil rights protections amid a flurry of voter ID laws recently passed around the country. The Wisconsin lawsuit was filed in federal court in Milwaukee by the national ACLU and its Wisconsin affiliate and the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty on behalf of a group of senior citizens, minorities and homeless residents.

"This lawsuit is the opening act in what will be a long struggle to undo the damage done to the right to vote by strict photo ID laws and other voter suppression measures," said Jon Sherman, an attorney with the ACLU Voting Rights Project.

Critics of the photo ID law say that there are no cases of voter impersonation and that the law will make it harder for vulnerable groups to vote. Proponents argue the measure will discourage voter fraud and give the public more faith in elections. . . .


House GOP will "Kill People"

Democrats use very moderate language to discuss Republicans. From Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Ca):

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) on Tuesday accused Republicans of pushing legislation that would poison more than 8,000 people to death as a Christmas gift to Americans.

"They have attached a poison pill — literally, colleagues — because it will kill 8,100 more people more than would have otherwise been killed from pollution,” said Boxer, referring to a provision Republicans have included in their payroll tax cut extension bill that would delay the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) industrial boiler regulations. . . .


Another Stimulus recipient seeing stock collapse

First Solar's stock fell an additional 20% early today. The company received $1.5 billion from the Stimulus. The award was given out on August 5, 2011.

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Newt at 40 percent in newest WSJ/NBC poll

From the WSJ:

Republican voters now heavily favor Newt Gingrich over Mitt Romney as the party's nominee, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey, but the poll also found deep unease with Mr. Gingrich among independents and swing voters who normally decide presidential elections.

With less than three weeks before the first votes are cast in Iowa, Republicans give the former House speaker the most commanding lead of any candidate this year: He has 40% support among likely GOP voters, compared with 23% for Mr. Romney. All of the other Republican candidates fell short of 10% support in the poll. . . .

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Food Stamp fraud

Here is a nice article in the College Conservative, a publication that I didn't know existed. This piece available here is on Food Stamp fraud.

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Dem Congressman blasts ‘Professor Obama’ as arrogant, alienating

Congressman Dennis Cardoza (D-Ca) has some rough words for Obama.

In the president’s first year in office, his administration suffered from what I call “idea disease.” Every week, and sometimes almost every day, the administration rolled out a new program for the country. There was no obvious prioritization and, after the rollout, very little effort to actually pass the latest idea/imperative/plan/edict. . . .

Early in his administration, President/Professor Obama repeatedly referred to “teaching moments.” He would admonish staff, members of Congress and the public, in speeches and in private, about what they could learn from him. Rather than the ideological or corrupt “I’m above the law” attitudes of some past administrations, President Obama projected an arrogant “I’m right, you’re wrong” demeanor that alienated many potential allies. Furthermore, the president concentrated power within the White House, leaving Cabinet members with no other option but to dutifully carry out policies with which they had limited input in crafting and might very well disagree. From my experience, this was especially true in the environmental, resources, housing and employment areas. . . .

The president’s disinterest in input from those outside his inner circle is costing him many wasted opportunities. Recently, a senator told me Obama went to his/her state, but issued an invitation for the senator to attend the event only the day before. . . .


Is this evidence that there isn't much interference from at least Tablets on airplanes?

I was told once by a former member of the FCC that the claims about electronic interference from cell phones and other devices is simply false. Anyway, this article at CNET caught my eye.

Starting this Friday, American Airlines is expected to start using iPads in all phases of flight operation, replacing hefty paper charts and manuals.
That's according to a report today from CNET sister site ZDNet, which says that American has received U.S. Federal Aviation Administration approval to use Apple's tablets at any time during a flight.


Hollywoods exploitation of Margaret Thatcher?

This article in the Daily Mail has a lot of interesting comments by a lot of people who knew Margaret Thatcher personally. I suspect that these articles are as interesting as the new movie about her is. One typical comment is given by Eve Pollard:

this invasion of the privacy of an 86-year-old-widow is truly shocking.
It reveals the most powerful woman the West has ever known as frail, feeble and lonely. But, you feel, almost against their will, director Phyllida Lloyd and screenwriter Abi Morgan (neither of whom, I suspect, would have approved of Mrs T when she was in office) couldn’t help but make an ill and powerless Margaret Thatcher sympathetic. . . .

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Did the Federal government poison alcohol during prohibition?

I knew that alcohol poisonings increased during prohibition, but I assumed that it all was due to ensure quality. From Slate:

Although mostly forgotten today, the "chemist's war of Prohibition" remains one of the strangest and most deadly decisions in American law-enforcement history. As one of its most outspoken opponents, Charles Norris, the chief medical examiner of New York City during the 1920s, liked to say, it was "our national experiment in extermination." Poisonous alcohol still kills—16 people died just this month after drinking lethal booze in Indonesia, where bootleggers make their own brews to avoid steep taxes—but that's due to unscrupulous businessmen rather than government order.
I learned of the federal poisoning program while researching my new book, The Poisoner's Handbook, which is set in jazz-age New York. My first reaction was that I must have gotten it wrong. "I never heard that the government poisoned people during Prohibition, did you?" I kept saying to friends, family members, colleagues. . . .

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Canada formally drops out of the Kyoto Protocol

The amazing thing is that other developed countries aren't also dropping out of the treaty. From the AFP:

Canada became the first country to formally withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol, saying the pact on cutting carbon emissions was preventing the world from effectively tackling climate change.
"We are invoking Canada's legal right to formally withdraw from Kyoto," Environment Minister Peter Kent said following a marathon UN climate conference in South Africa, at which nations agreed to a new roadmap for worldwide action. . . .
Pulling out of Kyoto now allows Canada to avoid paying penalties of up to CAN$14 billion (US$13.6 billion) for missing its targets. . . .
"Under Kyoto, Canada is facing radical and irresponsible choices if we're to avoid punishing multi-billion-dollar payments," Kent said, noting that Canada produces barely two percent of global emissions.
"To meet the targets under Kyoto for 2012 would be the equivalent of either removing every car, truck, ATV, tractor, ambulance, police car, and vehicle of every kind from Canadian roads or closing down the entire farming and agricultural sector and cutting heat to every home, office, hospital, factory, and building in Canada."
For Kyoto supporters, the anticipated Canadian pullout was expected to be a symbolic blow and badly damage a UN climate process already weakened by divisions. . . .

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Senator Harry Reid claims: "Millionaire job creators are like unicorns. They are impossible to find and don't exist."

Does anyone believe these claims by the Democrats? Are job creators really as imaginary as "unicorns"? Have Democrats ever heard of Steve Jobs or tens of thousands of other businessmen? From The Hill:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) suggested on Monday that millionaires who create jobs are a mere figment of Republicans' imaginations.

"Millionaire job creators are like unicorns,” said Reid from the Senate floor. “They are impossible to find and don't exist."

Reid's frustration has grown in past weeks as Republicans have repeatedly and overwhelmingly blocked almost every fragment of President Obama's jobs package brought to the floor because Democrats have attempted to pay for them by raising taxes on millionaires. Republicans say they oppose that tax because it would hamper job creation.

But Reid said Monday morning that there was no evidence of a correlation between taxes on the wealthy and jobs. . . .

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Newt the libertarian on technology issues?

How would the world look differently today if Newt hadn't been there to stop many attempts to regulate technology? From Politico:

. . . Twenty years ago, Gingrich’s appreciation of technology was more novel among Republicans, showing that there was a conservative libertarian interest in preserving the burgeoning Internet from efforts to regulate it. The 1995 Wired magazine cover interview was headlined “Friend and Foe.” At the time, Gingrich talked up the transformative power of the Internet and a world where schools and hospitals would be wired.
Media in his home state dubbed him “Newt Skywalker.”
As House speaker, Gingrich marshaled forces on issues such as data scrambling technologies, freedom of speech on the Internet and securities litigation reform. He helped launch Thomas, the Library of Congress website that provides information about bills. He started the High Technology Working Group, now the Technology Working Group, composed of Republican leaders involved in a wide swath of tech issues.
Gingrich is "sensitive to innovation, to job creation, to startups and not having the government doing — but getting out of the away," said McNealy, who is now chairman of social media startup Wayin. Gingrich "is a spectacular idea guy."
Some of the early, libertarian-leaning views that won him fans in Silicon Valley were potential time bombs with the GOP faithful, but he stood his ground. In 1996, Gingrich — then the speaker of the House — resisted an attempt to fight porn on the Internet.
When the Senate began to push for the Communications Decency Act of 1996, Gingrich put up a road block that helped to undermine the act, which was later struck down by the Supreme Court. The act, introduced by then-Sen. Jim Exon (D-Neb.), would have made indecent materials on the Internet illegal and made intermediaries — such as Internet service providers — responsible for policing content on the Web. . . .


New Report says that LightSquared Network Could Block GPS Devices

The Obama administration has been accused of putting pressure on the military to drop their opposition to LightSquared. The military was told to say that there wasn't really much to be concerned about. A new report puts the lie to that belief. George Soros and other wealth Democrats are said to be big investors in LightSquared. From the WSJ:

New government tests show wireless start-up LightSquared's network could knock out a "great majority" of GPS devices, according to a congressional aide who has seen a draft government report on the tests.
Preliminary data from recent government and industry tests of LightSquared's network suggest that the start-up hasn't solved concerns that its network would knock out a large number of personal or military GPS devices, the report said, according to the aide.
LightSquared, a startup funded largely by hedge fund Harbinger Capital Partners, wants to build a national wireless broadband network and offer wholesale Internet access to companies including Leap Wireless International Inc. and Best Buy Co.
LightSquared's airwaves are close to those used by GPS devices. After government tests this summer showed LightSquared's network would knock out a large number of aviation, commercial and consumer GPS devices, the company said it would only use the frequencies that are farthest away from the GPS signals. . . .

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Congresswoman Adams Grills Eric Holder over Fast & Furious

Also, Holder unwilling to provide his own emails on Fast & Furious.

. . . “Most of the 5,000 documents you turned over are emails,” Issa said to Holder. “Mr. Attorney General, I have a question for you. Not one of these emails, in fact, is yours. Aren’t you a prolific emailer?”

Holder responded that, “No,” he is not a “prolific emailer.”

Issa followed up: “Don’t you email?”

Holder responded in the affirmative. “Do you have a personal email account as well as an attorney general email account?” Issa pressed.

“I have an email account at the Justice Department, yes,” Holder equivocated.
“Do you have a personal email?” Issa asked again. Holder replied that, “yes” he has a personal email account.

“Do you regularly email to Lanny Breuer, your former partner, and your criminal division head?” Issa then asked.

“I wouldn’t say regularly,” Holder answered. “But there are only a limited number of people who know my email address in the Justice Department.” (RELATED: Full coverage of Operation Fast and Furious)

Issa, still not satisfied with Holder’s response, pressed further. “Let’s cut to the chase,” Issa said. “Don’t you think it’s a little conspicuous that there’s not one email to or from you related to Fast and Furious in any way, shape or form?”

Instead of answering whether or not there were any emails to or from him, Holder said the Department of Justice’s document production to the House oversight committee had been “unprecedented.”

“There are a variety of reasons why the emails we have shared with you are there,” Holder said. “We have shared in an unprecedented way emails and information that no Justice Department and no attorney general has ever authorized before. You have deliberative information contained in that.”

Issa has issued subpoenas and made official requests for many of the emails Holder has withheld from Congress. Because Holder isn’t citing any legal or constitutional exemption, Issa said later in the hearing that he “stands in contempt of Congress” if he continues to stonewall. . . .


Here is my bet: Britain's financial sector will do better than the EU's in the future

For those who blame private financial institutions and not the government for the recession, the EU is offering them what they want. The problem is that they have the government to blame and more government isn't the solution. It should be a pretty simple test to see who is right. From Reuters:

At that point, the British prime minister set out two concessions he wanted in exchange for Britain's support on treaty change. "One was a safeguard on the internal market ... but that was not the problem," the official said. "Then he launched the idea on financial services."

Financial services account for about 10 percent of Britain's economy and the government has been at pains to shield the sector from regulation emanating in Brussels. Britain had shared the outlines of its thinking with some of its partners, officials said, but it hadn't circulated anything approaching a document sufficiently detailed to form the basis of discussion. For that reason, the demands were news to many of the people around the table. But it wasn't just the way Cameron went about it, it was the substance of the demands. He was effectively asking for a softening of regulation on Britain's financial sector at a time when many voters and politicians believe banks are largely to blame for the crisis Europe is suffering and want tighter regulation on the sector.

"Politically speaking, when the banks are considered the enemy and the root of all the problems we have today, Cameron's arguments were the wrong arguments at the wrong time for the wrong people," the official said. "Politically, he was dead from the start." . . .

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When Republicans make Keynesian arguments

This is from Investors Business Daily. The problem here is that they basically accept the Keynesian concept of saving, meaning that it is the equivalent of not being spent. But saved money isn't hidden in a hole in the backyard. If you leave your money in the bank, that money is lent out or used to buy bonds. If the person with the savings account doesn't spend it, someone else spends it.

While adding $250 billion to the deficit, according to Alex Brill of the American Enterprise Institute, extending the payroll tax holiday would provide up to $1,500 per family.

But, Brill notes, researchers Matt Shapiro and Joel Slemrod found that among recipients of tax rebates in 2001, only 22% spent the rebate, while the rest saved it or used it to pay off debt. A similar study of 2008 tax rebate recipients found only 20% spent it. . . .

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