Saturday, December 4, 2010

TSA Replacement; Did Ford Take Fed Money?; A Therapeutic Barack Obama; Illegals and Dream Act; Rangel's Censure

The Washington Times writes: "I'd like to send Washington a clear signal that these aggressive pat-downs and body scanners may have crossed the line," said Sean Paige, a member of the Colorado Springs City Council. "We want to maintain airport security, but need to speak up for the passengers who come through our city."
He has asked the Colorado Springs airport's aviation commission and director to prepare a briefing on a proposal to replace the TSA with a private security firm. The council is expected to hear the results in January, Mr. Paige said.
Similar discussions are under way in Dallas and in Orlando, Fla., as local officials attempt to gain a measure of control over the safety-screening process. The TSA's decision to intensify its airport screenings in early November has passengers balking about having their rights violated in the name of security.
Jalopnik Daily [automobile news and gossip for those obsessed with the cult of cars] writes: In the depths of the financial collapse, the U.S. Federal Reserve pumped $3.3 trillion into keeping credit moving through the economy. It eventually lent $57.9 billion to the auto industry — including $26.8 billion to Ford, Toyota and BMW.
The Fed on Wednesday was forced to reveal the identity of the companies it aided during the crisis, after contending to Congress that keeping their identities and the details of such lending secret was essential. Much of Wall Street, and corporate giants such as General Electric, Harley Davidson and McDonald's, took advantage of the Fed's help. We've done the math on how the Fed propped up the auto industry.
National Review writes: Old laws predicated on human nature cannot so easily be discarded — even by utopians who think they have the power to cool the planet and stop the rising seas. Borrowed money really has to be paid back. Governments cannot operate without confidentiality. Nations perish if they cannot protect themselves from existential threats. Watching a therapeutic Barack Obama grow up and learn these tragic lessons is as enlightening as it is sometimes scary.
In short, from Sacramento to Athens the world is reminded that obligations, despite in-vogue euphemisms like “stimulus” and “Keynesian,” really do have to be met. There is an iron law that transcends politics and limits the application of fiscal liberalism: Print more money and money becomes less valuable; default just once and all future credit is lost or intolerably expensive.
Fox News reports: A group advocating for tighter immigration laws estimates that a hotly debated bill that would give tens of thousands of illegal immigrants who attend college or join the military a path to legal status would cost taxpayers $6.2 billion a year and "crowd out" U.S. students in the classroom.
A new report from the Center for Immigration Studies says the so-called DREAM Act, which would give more than 2 million young immigrants brought to the United States before the age of 16 a chance to become legal residents, could erode the educational opportunities available to U.S. citizens.
Read more:
I have heard that when Charlie Rangel stood in the well of the House of Representatives to endure the reading of his Censure and the eleven counts against him, a unique thing happened: Nancy Pelosi read only one of the eleven counts against him, after which many in the Congress stood up and applauded him.  So, the only time he was put to the full judgement of his peers was on the day I attended the Ethics Committee hearing several weeks ago. At that time, no words were spared and no one applauded him.  Too bad so few learned the full extent of his misdeeds.  And so much for Nancy Pelosi and her "most ethical" House.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom visited and praised a well-known extremist mosque in London Monday, and invited its youth to participate in an embassy-funded initiative to travel to the United States.
The East London Mosque(ELM) hosted recent speeches by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula leader and now Specially Designated Global Terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki, a prominent leader of extremist group Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh, and a wide variety of other radical leaders. That’s beside hate and terrorism promoted by the mosque’s leaders and the Islamic Forum for Europe (IFE), a group headquartered in the mosque complex.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Great Lakes Lose on Asian CarpReid Pushes Dream Act.; Stock Market Crash?; Obama vs. Chambers of Commerce; Deficit Commission Vote

News from Chicago: In a long-awaited ruling, U.S. district court Judge Robert M. Dow said "the bottom line is that even giving every benefit of doubt ... squeezing that testimony for every ounce of weight ... plaintiffs cannot establish a showing of irreparable harm" that would justify a preliminary injunction closing the locks.
But Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox today vowed to continue the fight and made an appeal to President Obama to step in and force the locks closed.
"Our legal fight against Asian carp will continue, but President Obama could stop the spread of Asian carp with the flick of a switch," said Cox. "Obama's persistent failure to stop Asian carp is a slap in the face to Great Lakes citizens genuinely concerned about preserving their livelihood."
Fox News reports: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has pushed four different versions of the controversial immigration bill known as the DREAM Act without a hearing on any of them, drawing outrage from the top Republican on the committee that would have handled the package.
Read more:
US News opines: Failure by Congress to extend the Bush tax cuts, especially locking in the 15 percent capital gains tax rate, will spark a stock market sell off starting December 15 as investors move to lock in gains at a lower rate than the 20 percent it would jump to next year, warn analysts. [See who gets the most money from the financial industry.]
Since taking office nearly two years ago, President Obama has frequently clashed with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a major business group that has plowed millions of dollars into opposing his plans to overhaul healthcare and impose new regulations on Wall Street.

Obama and his aides have criticized the group publicly. But the administration's campaign to neutralize the group went further, according to a source involved in the dispute.

Over the last year the White House has hosted meetings with business leaders to discuss policy, and in some of those sessions asked that they persuade the chamber to cancel TV ads aimed at defeating Obama's healthcare plan, said a business lobbyist familiar with the matter.

Illustrating the depth of the dispute, the White House also asked corporate executives to drop their membership in the chamber, said the lobbyist, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid becoming personally entangled in the conflict. Another source said there had been discussions at the chamber regarding the White House urging resignations.
In campaign stops during the midterm election season, Obama at one point devoted part of his stump speech to a claim that the chamber was relying on foreign money to pay for TV ads meant to influence the vote. He later dropped that argument amid fact-checks that showed the evidence was scanty.,0,4934784.story?track=rss&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+latimes%2Fnews%2Fpolitics+%28L.A.+Times+-+Politics%29
The Washington Times writes: Six members of President Obama's deficit commission are expected to vote on Friday against its final report, meaning the panel will not be able to submit any recommendations to Congress for action.
Late Thursday, Sen. Max Baucus, Montana Democrat, announced his opposition, joining one House Democrat, three House Republicans and one of Mr. Obama's appointees, who also are expected to vote against it, leaving the 18-member panel short of the 14 votes Mr. Obama said would be needed to adopt a final report. Also late Thursday, Andrew Stern, the former president of the Service Employees International Union, announced his opposition.
When Mr. Obama formed the commission by executive order in February, he required that 14 of the 18 members support any final recommendations, in order to ensure bipartisanship.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Senator Pearce of AZ; State Dept. Leaks; John Conyers and His Son; Rockefeller Channels Stalin;

Floyd Reports opines: Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce authored Arizona’s immigration law S.B. 1070. During a speech on November 19, Pearce told an audience:
Think about it. This is the first time in the history of the United States that a sitting president has sided with a foreign government to sue the citizens of its country. For defending our laws? For defending and protecting the citizens of the state of Arizona? It’s outrageous, and it’s impeachable.
Senator Pearce was referring to the Obama administration’s decision to invite 11 Central and South American nations to join the federal government’s lawsuit against Arizona. This outsourcing ignores the president’s numerous lawsuits against the state, as well as motions against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio for “racial profiling,” on the grounds he arrested too many Hispanics near our open border with Mexico.
The lawsuit was perhaps the least offensive or forceful measure the president has taken against the will of his own citizens. The Obama administration hauled Arizona before the UN Human Rights Council after it passed Pearce’s bill.
Yahoo News writes: In Washington, the State Department severed its computer files from the government's classified network, officials said, as U.S. and world leaders tried to clean up from the leak that sent America's sensitive documents onto computer screens around the globe.
By temporarily pulling the plug, the U.S. significantly reduced the number of government employees who can read important diplomatic messages. It was an extraordinary hunkering down, prompted by the disclosure of hundreds of thousands of those messages this week by WikiLeaks, the self-styled whistleblower organization.
The documents revealed that the U.S. is still confounded about North Korea's nuclear military ambitions, that Iran is believed to have received advanced missiles capable of targeting Western Europe and — perhaps most damaging to the U.S. — that the State Department asked its diplomats to collect DNA samples and other personal information about foreign leaders.;_ylt=AnYTIpBPKPpcxVNYXQcIM2.s0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTNhdTJkbzA4BGFzc2V0A2FwLzIwMTAxMjAxL3dpa2lsZWFrcwRjY29kZQNtb3
Fox Detroit reveals:  (WJBK) - The son of Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., says items were stolen out of the government vehicle he was driving last Wednesday in downtown Detroit, FOX 2's Simon Shaykhet reports.
John Conyers III, 20, told police two Apple MacBooks, valued at $1,100 apiece, and more than $27,000 worth of concert tickets to the Fillmore were stolen out of a burgundy 2010 Cadillac Escalade registered to the 14th Congressional District.
According to the U.S. General Services Administration Web site , if an employee allows an unauthorized person to use a government vehicle, that employee could be suspended or fired.

Currently, there is no word on why John Conyers III was driving the vehicle. A spokesperson for the congressman's office tells FOX 2 she will get back to us on the allegations.
FOX 2 is also working to get details on what the concert tickets were for and if the stolen laptops had any sensitive government information.
Conyers has been a member of the U.S. House since 1965.
His wife, Monica, is serving a 37-month federal prison sentence for corruption after pleading guilty last year to a bribery scheme involving her vote on the Detroit City Council in favor of a sludge-hauling contract.

Hub Pages writes: Jay Rockefeller Channels Inner Stalin

Jay Rockefeller spoke at some hearing before various executives of cable news outlets and said, in effect, that if they don't fix their problems that he will fix them for them. He then went on to state that he wants quality news, that he's tired of the right and the left.
Here's some news for you, Rocky: The news has NEVER been objective. They hid it much better before, but now with hundreds of cable channels they don't have to do that anymore. Here's some more news: Freedom of speech includes freedom of the press and I, for one, do not appreciate a high government official telling any press member, right, left or in-between, what they can and cannot do. I especially dislike the threatening aspect of the statement. For the time being at least, this is still the USA and the Constitution is still in effect.
Roll Call reports: A food safety bill that has burned up precious days of the Senate’s lame-duck session appears headed back to the chamber because Democrats violated a constitutional provision requiring that tax provisions originate in the House.
By pre-empting the House’s tax-writing authority, Senate Democrats appear to have touched off a power struggle with members of their own party in the House. The Senate passed the bill Tuesday, sending it to the House, but House Democrats are expected to use a procedure known as “blue slipping” to block the bill, according to House and Senate GOP aides. The debacle could prove to be a major embarrassment for Senate Democrats, who sought Tuesday to make the relatively unknown bill a major political issue by sending out numerous news releases trumpeting its passage
The Washington Times writes: Attracting immediate fire from congressional Republicans, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday outlined a modified "net neutrality" plan that would expand the federal government's power to regulate traffic over the Internet.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, President Obama's pick to head the agency, said he was pushing for an FCC board vote later this month on his proposal - before the next Congress is seated with a GOP majority in the House and an expanded Republican minority in the Senate.
The chairman's modified proposal was seen as decidedly more friendly to business interests than a proposal he outlined in October 2009, but Republicans on Wednesday were already promising oversight hearings and legislative action early next year if the Obama administration endorsed it.
Thomas Sowell opines: [Regarding tax cuts] These are not new arguments on either side. They go back more than 80 years. Over that long span of time, there have been many sharp cuts in tax rates under Presidents Calvin Coolidge, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. So we don’t need to argue in a vacuum. There is a track record.
What does that record say? It says, loud and clear, that cuts in tax rates do not mean cuts in tax revenues. In all four of these administrations, of both parties, so-called “tax cuts for the rich” led to increased tax revenues— with people earning high incomes paying not only a larger sum total of tax revenues, but even a higher proportion of all tax revenues.
Most important of all, these tax rate reductions spurred economic activity, which we definitely need today.
These are the facts. But facts do not “speak for themselves.” In terms of facts, the Republicans have the stronger case. But that doesn’t matter, unless they make the case, which they show little sign of doing.
Democrats already understand the need for articulation. Robert Reich is only one of many articulate Democratic spokesmen. But where are the articulate Republicans? Do they even understand how crucial articulation is? The outcome of this lame duck session of Congress may answer that question.
The UK Telegraph writes about our FED: The disclosures came because the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act forced the Fed to reveal which banks and companies it lent money to in an effort to shore up the financial system from the end of December 2007 onwards. It released the details of more than 21,000 individual transactions on its website on Wednesday, which showed that British banks represented more than a third - about $1.5 trillion--of the $3,300bn lent by the US authorities to prop up the financial sector. Barclays borrowed $863bn from the Fed, with almost half coming in overnight loans through the Primary Dealer Credit Facility.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My Badge of Honor - Another Letter to the Editor - Denied

This week the local paper carried a Guest Commentary by their former Editor which spewed hatred for Republicans and their stalling on the New Start Treaty. Republicans are war mongers, shameless in their effort to delay, unconcerned about American security, and playing politics with nuclear weapons according to him.  Here is my denied response: 
Speaking of the diatribe concerning the new Start Treaty printed in this newspaper, it omitted legitimate concerns which must be resolved prior to passing. Here are some of the concerns, described by the Heritage Foundation and others.
Russian leadership has said that any increase in our missile defense system would be considered a breach of the treaty.  Obama gave up our missile defense presence in the Czech Republic and Poland in order to appease Russians.  Does this not increase our vulnerability?
While agreeing that we need to renew our nuclear weapons and labs, Obama also promised not to develop any new nuclear weapons. Obama is promising $80 billion in spending on the "nuclear weapons complex" over the next decade, but supporting legislation has not been produced.
Some question the treaty’s methods of verification.  This administration admitted in Congressional testimony that they do not even care if the Russians cheat on the treaty, for we will be able to detect expansion. This administration concedes that the security risk is not immediate.  Then why have a hurried treaty?
There have been historically few Congressional hearings, and Senator John McCain notes that this administration continues to withhold critical documents needed for an informed decision in doing its constitutional duty to provide advice and consent.  This treaty will possibly weaken America’s defenses against a rising Russia while containing contradictory statements issued by the United States and Russia on the meaning and legal force of that language. 

What I find shameful is your former Editor, who covers only one side of this important dilemma, while asking for some in Congress to say “to hell” with Republicans.  Our discussions should be honest and intellectual, not caustic and divisive.  Histrionics and name-calling are counter- productive. We need a good and effective treaty, not a quick one.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tom DeLay Convicted; Halt Economic Growth in US for Twenty Years?; We Will Pay 80% of Gov't Pensions; Texas Proposes Dropping Out of Medicaid; Bombs in Dog on Airplanes; Obama Freezes Federal Workers' Pay

The Washington Post reports: Former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay argued throughout his trial that the deck was stacked against him by a politically motivated prosecutor and a jury from the most Democratic city in one of the most Republican states,
But following DeLay's conviction Wednesday on money laundering and conspiracy charges, some legal experts say the edge may now shift to the Republican who represented a conservative Houston suburb for 22 years.

The UK Telegraph reports: Cancun climate change summit: scientists call for rationing in developed world

Global warming is now such a serious threat to mankind [so they are saying] that climate change experts are calling for Second World War-style rationing in rich countries to bring down carbon emissions.

In a series of papers published by the Royal Society, physicists and chemists from some of world’s most respected scientific institutions, including Oxford University and the Met Office, agreed that current plans to tackle global warming are not enough. 

In one paper Professor Kevin Anderson, Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, said the only way to reduce global emissions enough, while allowing the poor nations to continue to grow, is to halt economic growth in the rich world over the next twenty years.
Taxpayers, according to The Week magazine, are now "on the hook to provide pensions to 80% of the nation's 27 million state and local government workers and retirees.  The combined shortfall in funding those pensions could be as much as 3.4 trillion- more than double this year's federal deficit. In many cities, pension obligations will soon consume a quarter or more of the annual budget - money that will be unavailable for parts, libraries, street maintenance and public safety.  Part of the cause was acceding to public union demands to increase benefits without thinking of the long term."
Republican lawmakers, according to The Week, "proposed that Texas drop out of Medicaid to help close their budget deficit, creating their own insurance program for the state's Medicaid recipients. The Heritage Foundation estimates that Texas could save $60 billion between 2013 and 2019.  Not a good plan, says the chief of Dallas' Parkland Hospital."
Keeping the current TSA directives in mind, I bring to you information from The Week which states that "Al Qaida in Iraq tried to blow up a U.S. plane by planting bombs inside dogs two years ago.  Since the dogs died prior to their carriers being loaded onto the plane, investigators had time to discover thru autopsy the bombs inside them."  [Now what will we Americans be asked to do in order to fly?]
The NY Daily News reports: Irate federal workers in New York had a few choice words for President Obama's decision Monday to freeze their wages for the next two years.
"That's why Obama's ratings are below [ex-President George W. Bush's, and that's hard to be unless you're Osama Bin Laden," said Rosemarie Clemmens of Manhattan.
Clemmens, who works for the Social Security Administration, said she voted for Obama but won't again. "I can't wait until I retire," the life-long government worker added.
Even the Secret Service and FBI, among other federal law enforcement agencies, are taking a hit thanks to Obama's decree.  [At last, a sign that this administration gets it. Join the Congress, fed workers. - see below.]
Read more:
 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ writes: Congress voted to freeze its own pay for 2010. Any pay raise for 2011 will take place automatically under existing law, unless Congress votes to freeze its pay again before then.
Update, May 17, 2010: There will be no House or Senate raise for 2011 either. Congress passed, and the President signed, H.R. 5146, which eliminates the automatic adjustment in pay for Members of Congress that would have taken place in 2011.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Airport Scanners Are Dangerous; TSA Agents Can Now Unionize; 13,000 Square Miles of Alaska Set Aside; Chamber of Commerce SWAT Teams?; More Obama Health Law Woes

Newsmax reveals: A group of scientists and professors from the University of California at San Francisco voiced their concern to Obama’s science and technology adviser John Holdren in a well-stated letter back in April.
The group included experts in radiation biology, biophysics, and imaging, who expressed “serious concerns” about the “dangerously high” dose of radiation to the skin.
In a Newsmax exclusive, nationally recognized neurosurgeon and author Dr. Russell Blaylock describes how the latest generation of airport scanners pose grave risks to skin, blood cells and organs like the eyes. Children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems are at especially serious risk from the scanning machines that hundreds of thousands of travelers will pass through during the holidays.
One of the main concerns is that most of the energy from the airport scanners is concentrated on the surface of the skin and a few millimeters into the skin. Some very radiation-sensitive tissues are close to the skin — such as the testes, eyes, and circulating blood cells in the skin.
As we grow older, our DNA accumulates a considerable amount of unrepaired damage, and under such circumstances even low doses of radiation can trigger the development of skin cancers, including the deadly melanoma. I would also be concerned about exposing the eyes, since this could increase one’s risk of developing cataracts. 
From Glen Beck: Remember when the progressive left complained non-stop about warrantless wiretaps and the Patriot Act? It seems they no longer fear government overreaches because the same people who were screaming are now cheering on the new TSA procedures. One possible reason? The TSA recently won the right to unionize, and the AFL-CIO is running to the defense of TSA agents who are getting lots of heat. Was this a ploy by the unions?  And:
Glenn spoke today with the traveler who captured the video of TSA patting down a shirtless boy. Even more shocking than the video itself is the fact that, according to the caller, a 'man in a black suit' approached him and attempted to get him to delete the video. Fortunately the caller did not back down and America got to see what is actually going on. But now, the TSA is claiming that the story is untrue. 
Newsmax reports: (AP) — The Obama administration is setting aside 187,000 square miles in Alaska as a "critical habitat" for polar bears, an action that could add restrictions to future offshore drilling for oil and gas.
The total, which includes large areas of sea ice off the Alaska coast, is about 13,000 square miles, or 8.3 million acres, less than in a preliminary plan released last year.
Tom Strickland, assistant Interior secretary for fish, wildlife and parks, said the designation would help polar bears stave off extinction, recognizing that the greatest threat is the melting of Arctic sea ice caused by climate change.
Michael Gerson opines: For some, the solution is to lay the blame on President Obama. He hasn't been liberal enough. He can't communicate. "I cannot recall a president," Robert Kuttner says in the Huffington Post, "who generated so much excitement as a candidate but who turned out to be such a political dud as a chief executive." Obama is "fast becoming more albatross than ally."
This is an ideological movement at its most cynical, attempting to throw overboard its once-revered leader to avoid the taint of his problems.
But there is an alternative narrative, developed by those who can't shake their reverence for Obama. If a president of this quality and insight has failed, it must be because his opponents are uniquely evil, coordinated and effective. The problem is not Obama but the ruthless conspiracy against him.
So Matt Yglesias warns the White House to be prepared for "deliberate economic sabotage" from the GOP - as though Chamber of Commerce SWAT teams, no doubt funded by foreigners, are preparing attacks on the electrical grid. Paul Krugman contends that "Republicans want the economy to stay weak as long as there's a Democrat in the White House." Steve Benen explains, "We're talking about a major political party . . . possibly undermining the strength of the country - on purpose, in public, without apology or shame - for no other reason than to give themselves a campaign advantage in 2012." Benen's posting was titled "None Dare Call it Sabotage."
So what is the proof of this charge? It seems to have something to do with Republicans criticizing quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve. And opposing federal spending. And, according to Benen, creating "massive economic uncertainty by vowing to gut the national health care system."
One is tempted to respond that it is $1 trillion in new debt, the prospect of higher taxes and a complicated, disruptive health-reform law that have created "massive economic uncertainty." For the purposes of this argument, however, it is sufficient to say that all these economic policy debates have two sides.
A Wall St. Journal blog opines: One of the largest union-administered health-insurance funds in New York is dropping coverage for the children of more than 30,000 low-wage home attendants, union officials said. The union blamed financial problems it said were caused by the state’s health department and new national health-insurance requirements.
The fund is administered by 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union. Union officials said the state compelled the fund to start buying coverage from a third party, which increased premiums by 60%. State health officials denied forcing the union fund to make the switch, saying the fund had been struggling financially even before the switch to third-party coverage.
The fund informed its members late last month that their dependents will no longer be covered as of Jan. 1, 2011. Currently about 6,000 children are covered by the benefit fund, some until age 23.
From the Washington Post: Want an appointment with kidney specialist Adam Weinstein of Easton, Md.? If you're a senior covered by Medicare, the wait is eight weeks.
How about a checkup from geriatric specialist Michael Trahos? Expect to see him every six months: The Alexandria-based doctor has been limiting most of his Medicare patients to twice yearly rather than the quarterly checkups he considers ideal for the elderly. Still, at least he'll see you. Top-ranked primary care doctor Linda Yau is one of three physicians with the District's Foxhall Internists group who recently announced they will no longer be accepting Medicare patients.
"It's not easy. But you realize you either do this or you don't stay in business," she said.
Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) slammed international whistleblower WikiLeaks on Sunday, ahead of a reported data dump that opponents say could damage U.S. diplomatic efforts around the world.
“Leaking the material is deplorable,” Graham told Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday."
“The people at WikiLeaks could have blood on their hands,” he said, before admitting he wasn’t sure how the dump would affect the country’s strategic negotiations abroad.
The NYT writes: The articles published today and in coming days are based on thousands of United States embassy cables, the daily reports from the field intended for the eyes of senior policy makers in Washington. The New York Times and a number of publications in Europe were given access to the material several weeks ago and agreed to begin publication of articles based on the cables online on Sunday. The Times believes that the documents serve an important public interest, illuminating the goals, successes, compromises and frustrations of American diplomacy in a way that other accounts cannot match.