Saturday, December 18, 2010

op ed review 12/19

THIS WEEK’S NEWS

The Obama administration asked Congress to pass an omnibus spending bill containing $8 billion in earmark projects, even though the president recently said one of the lessons he learned from the 2010 midterm elections was to take more seriously the public’s disapproval of earmarks.

http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2010/12/president-obamas-8-billion-earmark-rerun-lesson-not-learned.html

Heritage: “This is exactly the kind of secretive, pork-laden, massive spending bill that induced a voter revolt last month. This brazen rejection of transparency and fiscal responsibility is a major reason why federal spending has soared to $30,000 per household and created trillion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can see.”

http://blog.heritage.org/2010/12/15/senate-omnibus-bill-nearly-2000-pages-of-runaway-spending-and-pork/

John McCain: “In the short time I’ve had to review this massive piece of legislation – I’ve identified approximately 6,488 earmarks totaling nearly $8.3 billion. Here is a small sample: $277,000 for potato pest management in Wisconsin $246,000 for bovine tuberculosis in Michigan and Minnesota $522,000 for cranberry and blueberry disease and breeding in New Jersey $500,000 for oyster safety in Florida $349,000 for swine waste management in North Carolina $413,000 for peanut research in Alabama $247,000 for virus free wine grapes in Washington $208,000 beaver management in North Carolina $94,000 for blackbird management in Louisiana $165,000 for maple syrup research in Vermont $235,000 for noxious weed management in Nevada $100,000 for the Edgar Allen Poe Cottage Visitor’s Center in New York $300,000 for the Polynesian Voyaging Society in Hawaii $400,000 for solar parking canopies and plug-in electric stations in Kansas….”

http://drudgereport.com/flash2n.htm

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid defended the thousands of earmarks in the measure as the basic function of Congress. "That's our job. That's what we're supposed to do…"

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/dec/16/reid-earmarks-are-what-were-supposed-do/

On Thursday night the Tea Party claimed it’s first genuine legislative victory when Majority Leader Reid pulled the $1.2 trillion omnibus bill with thousands of earmarks, conceding he didn't have the votes to pass it.

http://spectator.org/blog/2010/12/16/a-victory-for-the-tea-party

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson, appointed by George W. Bush, rejected a key provision of the Obama administration's health care law as unconstitutional Monday, ruling the government cannot require people to buy insurance. "The unchecked expansion of congressional power to the limits suggested by the Minimum Essential Coverage Provision [the individual mandate] would invite unbridled exercise of federal police powers….At its core, this dispute is not simply about regulating the business of insurance -- or crafting a scheme of universal health insurance coverage -- it's about an individual's right to choose to participate."

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101213/ap_on_bi_ge/us_health_care_overhaul_virginia

The Washington Post failed to publish its own poll, finding ObamaCare sunk to its lowest popularity yet: 52 percent opposed, and only 43 percent in favor.

http://newsbusters.org/blogs/tim-graham/2010/12/14/amazing-wapo-fails-publish-own-poll-obamacares-lowest-popularity-ever

Flashback: When CNSNews.com asked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) a year ago where the Constitution authorized Congress to order Americans to buy health insurance, Pelosi dismissed the question by saying: “Are you serious? Are you serious?”

http://cnsnews.com/news/article/flashback-when-asked-where-constitution

The Attorney General is supposed to be independent from the White House. So why did AG Eric Holder predict “devastating consequences” if challenges to Obamacare are "allowed to succeed."

http://unionleader.com/article.aspx?headline=Unchecked+power%3a+The+courts+and+Obamacare&articleId=5795c3f9-308b-4e17-973b-35762b8ca522

It’s Christmastime, so the ACLU is doing what it does best — hounding public officials to turn observance of this federal holiday into a winter solstice thingy — or else. On Dec. 7, Pearl Harbor Day, the ACLU of Tennessee dropped a letter bomb on all public school superintendents in the home state of freedom fighter Davey Crockett, warning them not to celebrate Christmas.

http://dailycaller.com/2010/12/17/aclu-plays-grinch-in-davey-crocketts-backyard/

A small-town bank in Oklahoma was told by Federal Reserve examiners that it can’t keep religious signs and symbols on display. The Bible verse of the day on the bank's webpage also had to be taken down. “…a Jew or Muslim or atheist may be offended and believe they may be discriminated against at this bank…”

http://www.koco.com/r/26162860/detail.html

A Dallas Church has launched a Web site that alerts holiday shoppers to area stores and businesses that refuse to use the phrase “Merry Christmas” this holiday season.

http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/grinch-list-highlights-businesses-won-t

Michelle Obama says childhood obesity is such an important issue that ‘We Can’t Just Leave It Up To The Parents’

http://www.breitbart.tv/michelle-obama-on-child-nutrition-we-cant-just-leave-it-up-to-the-parents/

Michelle wore a $2500 “thrift-store dress” to the "Christmas in Washington" concert.
http://www.nypost.com/p/news/national/michelle_goes_old_fashion_rj0dvqEemFTOKENmlYSIPJ#ixzz18O5cjetU

The California town made famous by Erin Brockovich has proven not to have lived up to all the anti-corporate fearmongering that brought the town to the country’s attention.

http://bighollywood.breitbart.com/wthuston/2010/12/14/activist-hollywood-wrong-again-no-cancer-increases-in-erin-brockovich-town/

“A fresh Gallup Poll released this morning reveals that somehow 13% of Americans still approve of the job being done by Congress.” (13% is a record low job approval for Congress since Gallup began compiling such data in 1974.)

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2010/12/gallup-poll-congress-approval-record-low.html

Washington state is third. Third from the bottom, that is. Only Arizona and Illinois have larger mid-year budget deficits, relative to the size of their budgets.

http://soundpolitics.com/archives/014478.html

America is the world’s largest debtor. Around $414bn of US taxpayers’ money went on sovereign interest payments last year--around 4.5 times the budget of America’s Department of Education.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/liamhalligan/8196283/Market-alarm-as-US-fails-to-control-biggest-debt-in-history.html

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THIS WEEK’S FEATURED COLUMN

Walter Williams 12/1/10

How about this: The law of gravity is applicable to the behavior of falling objects on the U.S. mainland but not applicable on our Pacific Ocean territories Samoa and Northern Mariana Islands. You say, "Williams, that's lunacy! Laws are applicable everywhere; that's why they call it a law."

You're right, but does the same reasoning apply to the law of demand that holds: The higher the price of something, the less people will take of it; and the lower its price, the more people will take of it? The law of demand applies to wages, interest and rent because, after all, they are the prices of something.

In 2007, the Democrat-led Congress and White House enacted legislation raising the minimum wage law, in steps, from $5.15 an hour to $7.25. With some modification, the increases applied to our Pacific Ocean territories. Republicans and others opposed to the increases were labeled as hostile toward workers. According to most opinion polls taken in 2006, more than 80 percent of Americans favored Congress' intention to raise the minimum wage. Most Americans see the minimum wage as a good thing, and without it, rapacious employers wouldn't pay workers much of anything.

On the eve of the 2007 minimum wage increase, someone got 650 of my fellow economists, including a couple awarded the Nobel Prize in economics, to sign a petition that read "We believe that a modest increase in the minimum wage would improve the well-being of low-wage workers and would not have the adverse effects that critics have claimed." At the time, I wrote that I felt embarrassment for them, but at least the petition was not signed by any George Mason University economists.

According to a Sept. 30, 2010 American Samoa government press release, "Governor Togiola Tulafono today expressed his sincere gratitude to President Barack Obama for signing legislation that will delay the minimum wage increase scheduled to take effect in American Samoa for 2010 and 2011." My question to you is why would a Democrat-controlled Congress pass a measure (HR 3940), and a Democrat president sign it, that would postpone the enactment of something as "wonderful" as an increase in the minimum wage law.

The fact of the matter is that increases in minimum wages have had a devastating impact on American Samoan workers. In my "Minimum Wage Cruelty: Update" column of May 26, 2010, I wrote: "Chicken of the Sea International moved its operation from Samoa to a highly automated cannery plant in Lyons, Ga. That resulted in roughly 2,000 jobs lost in Samoa and a gain of 200 jobs in Georgia. StarKist, the island's remaining cannery, announced that between 600 and 800 people will be laid off over the next six months, reducing the company's Samoan workforce from a high of more than 3,000 in 2008 to less than 1,200 workers." According to SamoanNews.Com, in August, 300 workers received layoff letters in phase one of Starkist's downsizing plans.

Stephen Dinan, The Washington Times staff writer who wrote "Territories snared in wage debate," (10/18/10) said, "A number of those involved with the minimum-wage issue appeared not to want to talk about it. The White House didn't return a call seeking comment, nor did the AFL-CIO, the chief umbrella group for labor unions."

Does the law of demand that we've seen applying to American Samoa also apply to the U.S. mainland? It does and particularly for teenagers and especially black teenagers. In 2007, the unemployment rate for all teens was 15 percent; today it's 25 percent. For black teenagers, in 2007, unemployment was 26 percent; today it's over 50 percent. Overall unemployment is a little over 9 percent. Those who argue that the minimum wage has no effect on labor markets in the U.S. but has an effect in American Samoa are either liars, lunatics or idiots, and that includes those 650 economists who signed that petition suggesting that a "modest increase in the minimum wage would improve the well-being of low-wage workers."

http://townhall.com/columnists/WalterEWilliams/2010/12/01/minimum_wage,_maximum_folly

Another good read: Gov. Tim Pawlenty, “Government Unions vs. Taxpayers: The moral case for unions—protecting working families from exploitation—does not apply to public employment.”

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703766704576009350303578410.html?mod=djemEditorialPage_h

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FROM OTHER COLUMNS

"If the federal government can get away with ordering individuals to buy health insurance based on interstate commerce laws, it could order us to submit to any other practice it deems for our good based on similar misinterpretations of the Constitution. Such a course would further erode our liberties and move us closer to dictatorship and away from principles the Constitution was written to protect."

-Cal Thomas

"According to Obama, the federal government can make you do something if your failure to do it, combined with similar inaction by others, has a 'substantial effect' on interstate commerce. By rejecting that premise on Monday, U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson took a stand for the principle that Congress may exercise only those powers that are specifically enumerated in the Constitution."

-Jacob Sullum

"…… even the Supremes have never gone as far as the Obama Justice Department desperately wants it to go. For the court to go that far, it will have to fundamentally break the Constitution, tearing out its strictures on a limited government. Such a ruling would mean the literal end of any limits on the power of Congress, posing the most dangerous political threat to our liberty since our nation's founding."

-Hans von Spakovsky

"Regarding the estate tax, or what has come to be known as the death tax, it is probably, of all the ways in which our government takes revenue, the most immoral. ... The death tax punishes the very behavior that defines the economic heart and soul of American prosperity. But perhaps worse, it attacks our most important social institution -- the American family. ... If we want to get back to prosperity, then it should be axiomatic that protecting freedom, entrepreneurship and family is the answer. Not the politics of power and envy."

-Star Parker

"Most people have no clue what military life is like, least of all the opinion makers in New York, Los Angeles and the nation's capital. The military is not representative of the country at large. It is disproportionately rural, small-town, Southern and Hispanic. We ask our troops to do a lot for very little money. Sometimes they die for us. The least Democrats could do is not pass grandstanding bills while self-righteously denouncing our servicemen as homophobes."

-Ann Coulter

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LEFTIST WATCH

Colombia's former President Alvaro Uribe told a U.S. diplomatic mission that the threat posed by his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez in Latin America was comparable to that of Hitler in Europe in the 1930s.

http://colombiareports.com/colombia-news/news/13364-uribe-compared-chavez-to-hitler-wikileaks.html

Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore said he has posted $20,000 to help jailed Wikileaks founder Julian Assange make bail in Sweden.

http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2010/12/14/michael-moore-contributes-k-julian-assanges-bail/

Jimmy Carter says America is ready for a gay president.

http://news.pinkpaper.com/NewsStory/4496/15/12/2010/former-us-president-jimmy-carter-says-americas-ready-for-gay-leader.aspx

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GLOBALONEY

The Metrodome, home to the Minneapolis Vikings, is known for being able to handle massive amounts of snow. But last weekend the snow was too much and the roof collapsed.

http://www.weather.com/outlook/weather-news/news/articles/metrodome-collapses-blizzard_2010-12-12

Sweden is having the ‘coldest December in 100 years'.

http://www.thelocal.se/30914/20101217/

Coldest December temperatures in Britain since records began in 1910.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1339149/Big-freeze-Coldest-December-100-years-brings-travel-chaos-holiday-rush-begins.html

Green activists fall for the old “Dihydrogen Monoxide” trick at the Cancun Global Warming Summit.

http://www.examiner.com/conservative-in-spokane/climate-change-delegates-sign-petition-to-ban-water

Three years after he led the charge to require consumers to ditch their comfortable old incandescent lights in favor of those twisty CFL bulbs, Rep. Fred Upton now wants to be the man to help undo that law as the next chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/dec/6/upton-flips-a-switch-on-cfl-bulbs/

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ISLAM

Terrorist bomb blasts in Stockholm.

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6BA2GZ20101212

"Now the Islamic state has been created. We now exist here in Europe and in Sweden. We are a reality….Our actions will speak for themselves…We are not a lie, or imagination. We are real."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/terrorism-in-the-uk/8198339/Stockholm-bomber-warns-actions-will-speak-for-themselves-in-chilling-warning.html

Indonesian prosecutors sought a seven-month prison sentence for a US retiree accused of blasphemy after he allegedly pulled the plug on a mosque loudspeaker during a prayer reading.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/indonesia/8202460/Indonesia-seeks-prison-sentence-for-blasphemous-American.html

Iraqi authorities have obtained confessions from captured insurgents who claim Al Qaeda is planning suicide attacks in the United States and Europe during the holiday season.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1338881/Al-Qaeda-plans-Christmas-suicide-attacks-Europe-U-S-warns-insurgents.html

Two white British men who were fighting alongside Al Qaeda militants in Pakistan have been killed in a drone attack. “Gerry and Stephen”

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1339036/2-white-Britons-killed-fighting-Al-Qaeda-US-drone-missile-attack-Pakistan.html

Islamic biker gangs in Australia?? Soldiers of Islam, also known as Sons of Islam, is believed to be an offshoot of outlaw biker gang the Bandidos…..comprising young Muslim men who sport "SOI'' tattoos…..the gang is coming under increasing attention from police investigating links to crimes involving drugs, guns and violence???

http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/new-bikie-gang-called-soldiers-of-islam-is-gaining-momentum-on-the-gold-coast/story-e6freoof-1225969788870

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ARTICLES

”On October 16th, someone threw a Molotov cocktail at the Latter Day Saints church in Mukilteo. The fire it started destroyed the building, which is valued at more than a million dollars. If the target of this arson had been a politically correct religious organization, our "mainstream" journalists (and many of our elected officials) would have been certain the arson was a hate crime, and would be calling for a massive investigation. They would be lecturing us on the importance of tolerance, and they might even be offering to add their own money to the modest reward now being offered. But that isn't what has happened. In fact the coverage has been minimal, and I have seen no reaction at all from our elected officials…..What I conclude from that lack of coverage is that this hate crime — assuming it was a hate crime — is an unimportant hate crime, at least for our local journalists, and for most of our local officials.”

http://soundpolitics.com/archives/014487.html

And just who are those people? Who are the forces that envision their task as “moving to establish a better distribution of American abundance”? We get some frightening clues in John Carter’s 1934 book. “Roosevelt had the benefit of several other great national experiments as useful points of reference for the American New Deal,” Carter forthrightly opines. “He had before him the spectacle of the Soviet Union with its recent dramatization of economic reorganization through the Five-Year Plan. He had before him the example of Fascist Italy with its regimentation of business, labor and banking in the ‘Corporative State.’ He had before him the instances of Kemal, Mussolini and Hitler in restoring national pride and self-confidence to beaten or dispirited peoples.” So there you have it, straight from the horse’s mouth. John Franklin Carter, an ally and advocate of the New Deal, a close confidante of FDR — without the benefit of political correctness — told the unvarnished truth. The New Deal was modeled after the examples and policies of Stalin, Hitler and Mussolini — the poster boys for communism, National Socialism and fascism.

http://www.dailyinterlake.com/opinion/columns/frank/article_f86b2788-0582-11e0-8496-001cc4c03286.html

Hey liberals! What if Obama's healthcare law required every American to buy a gun? How'd you feel about that?

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2010/12/ken-cuccinelli-obamacare-guns-federal-judge.html

The exodus of white Democrats to the GOP in southern state legislatures this year is the last chapter of a very old story about realignment, one that -- in this homogenous media age -- has finally come to the most local levels of politics. This, in Georgia, is something different -- and striking to insiders because one of the switchers, Ashley Bell, is a former president of the College Democrats seen not that long ago as a Democratic rising star: Two African-American Democrats on Thursday announced that they were joining the Republican Party.

http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/1210/Two_black_Democrats_switch_party.html

Appearing as a guest on CNN’s Parker-Spitzer, rocker Gene Simmons of the rock band KISS and the TV show Family Jewels related to viewers that he is "very conservative" on fiscal and foreign policy issues, voiced his support for President Bush and the war on terrorism - including "nation building" in Iraq - and declared that he wishes he could take back his vote for President Obama from the 2008 election. As he later explained that he normally does not talk about politics because he believes entertainers are not qualified to speak about such matters, he also took a jab at Hollywood liberal Sean Penn and suggested that politically outspoken celebrities are "morons."

http://newsbusters.org/blogs/brad-wilmouth/2010/12/08/kiss-s-gene-simmons-i-m-very-conservative-some-issues-regrets-voting-#ixzz17v0BKLmy

Mitt Romney: “Death and taxes, it is said, are life's only two certainties. But in the wake of President Obama's tax compromise with congressional Republicans, only death retains the status of certainty: The future for taxes has been left up in the air. And uncertainty is not a friend of investment, growth and job creation.”

http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/forum/2010-12-14-column14_ST_N.htm?loc=interstitialskip

“Kigali, Rwanda — It must puzzle Rwandans to watch the loud squabbling between and within America’s political parties over keeping old tax cuts for just two more years… During a four-day visit here, I found that the enthusiastic consensus for pursuing the free-market path out of poverty resembled an Amish barn-raising. Rather than practicing the class warfare that cripples America, Rwandans are pulling together to become prosperous. “What Rwanda has to offer is really a vision for the private sector,” says Jean-Philippe Kayobotsi, private-sector adviser to President Paul Kagame.”

http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/254972/rwanda-s-economic-miracle-deroy-murdock

“A funny thing happened on the way to spreading the wealth: wealth dried up…”

http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/12/class_warriors_got_what_they_w.html

The debate between liberals and conservatives has become, ever more explicitly, a debate about American exceptionalism — precisely as a National Review cover story predicted last spring. Conservatives seek to defend that exceptionalism from what they regard as the threat posed to it by the Obama administration’s agenda. Liberals have not yet hit on a unified response to this charge, but their commentary bears out our contention that these days their attitude toward American exceptionalism ranges from discomfort to hostility.

http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/254742/liberal-exceptionalism-editors

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NOTEWORTHY WEBSITES

“Hey there, reader! Are you looking for the perfect Christmas gift for your patriot in training? How about the Tea Party Patriots’ coloring book featured this morning on Fox & Friends? It’s fun, educational, and will give your kids something to do during the fifth hour of speeches at the next rally you drag them to. Watch out, though! Liberal bloggers will be looking over your kids’ shoulders as they color to make sure they vary up the skin tones in the group scenes.”

http://www.coloringbook.com/teapartycoloringbook.aspx

Some liberals are horrified. The author says he has received death threats over the publication of this coloring book.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/09/30/tea-party-coloring-book-reportedly-prompts-death-threats/#ixzz18VgmogPo

A new Ronald Reagan postage stamp which is to be released in February to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Reagan’s birth. Only NBC noted the unveiling.

http://www.reaganfoundation.org/

Google has just unveiled Body Browser, a detailed 3D model of the human body. Running only in browsers that support the new WebGL graphics standard (currently just Google Chrome or the latest Firefox beta), Body Browser lets you peel back the body's anatomical layers, zoom in, and navigate to parts that interest you.

http://bodybrowser.googlelabs.com/

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LATE NITE

Jay Leno: Al-Qaida is planning Christmas attacks in the U.S. and Europe. The U.S. government sprang into action and told al-Qaida, “Hey, you cannot call them Christmas attacks, you have to call them holiday attacks.”.....According to a new Rasmussen poll, only 23 percent say America is heading in the right direction. In Mexico, it's different. There, 77 percent say the right direction is heading to America……..Two feet of snow in the Midwest. But the good news is, these are the first shovel-ready jobs Obama has come up with since becoming president……..Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has been named Time magazine's Person of the Year. They said he has single-handedly changed the way we waste time at work.

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WISE WORDS

"The freedom and happiness of man ... [are] the sole objects of all legitimate government."

-Thomas Jefferson

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