Saturday, April 16, 2011

op ed review 4/17


The House on Friday approved a fiscal year 2012 budget resolution that will impose $5.8 trillion in spending cuts over the next decade… least half of the Republican Caucus supports even tougher spending cuts. Every Democrat voted "no."

JP Morgan has radically downgraded its projection of the nation’s short-term prospects for economic growth. Morgan now thinks the economy will grow at an annual rate of 1.4 percent this year.. Numbers are "a potential death knell for Barack Obama’s presidency."

President Barack Obama’s approval among the poorest Americans dropped to an all-time low of 48 percent last week, according to the Gallup poll, leaving the president with less-than-majority approval among all income brackets.

The share of the population that is working fell to its lowest level last year since women started entering the workforce in large numbers three decades ago, a USA TODAY analysis finds.

President Obama announced a fiscal plan that punishes the American people with higher taxes if politicians overspend. Called a “debt failsafe trigger,” Obama’s scheme would automatically raise taxes if politicians spend too much.

The latest Rasmussen poll of likely voters shows that Americans have now supported the repeal of Obamacare for 56 consecutive weeks (every single week since it was passed).

By 45%-42%, voters back Republican efforts to balance state budgets by limiting collective bargaining rights for government unions, according to the latest IBD/TIPP poll.

Republican won 24 of the 37 Senate contests last year, giving them a head start not only on winning a Senate majority in 2012 but possibly winning a 60-seat supermajority two years later.

The recent economic downturn has exposed as ridiculous the feminist claims that our economy is ruled by a sexist patriarchy. A study of single, childless urban workers between the ages of 22 and 30 found that women now earn 8% more than men.

The Washington State unemployment rate has increased to 9.2 percent.


Big government on the brink

Robert J. Samuelson 4/10/11

We in America have created suicidal government; the threatened federal shutdown and stubborn budget deficits are but symptoms. By suicidal, I mean that government has promised more than it can realistically deliver and, as a result, repeatedly disappoints by providing less than people expect or jeopardizing what they already have. But government can’t easily correct its excesses, because Americans depend on it for so much that any effort to change the status arouses a firestorm of opposition that virtually ensures defeat. Government’s very expansion has brought it into disrepute, paralyzed politics and impeded it from acting in the national interest.

Few Americans realize the extent of their dependency. The Census Bureau reports that in 2009 almost half (46.2 percent) of the 300 million Americans received at least one federal benefit: 46.5 million, Social Security; 42.6 million, Medicare; 42.4 million, Medicaid; 36.1 million, food stamps; 3.2 million, veterans’ benefits; 12.4 million, housing subsidies. The census list doesn’t include tax breaks. Counting those, perhaps three-quarters or more of Americans receive some sizable government benefit. For example, about 22 percent of taxpayers benefit from the home mortgage interest deduction and 43 percent from the preferential treatment of employer-provided health insurance, says the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

“Once politics was about only a few things; today, it is about nearly everything,” writes the eminent political scientist James Q. Wilson in a recent collection of essays (“American Politics, Then and Now”). The concept of “vital national interest” is stretched. We deploy government casually to satisfy any mass desire, correct any perceived social shortcoming or remedy any market deficiency. What has abetted this political sprawl, notes Wilson, is the rising influence of “action intellectuals” — professors, pundits, “experts” — who provide respectable rationales for various political agendas.

The consequence is political overload: The system can no longer make choices, especially unpleasant choices, for the good of the nation as a whole. Public opinion is hopelessly muddled. Polls by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago consistently show Americans want more spending for education (74 percent), health care (60 percent), Social Security (57 percent) and, indeed, almost everything. By the same polls, between half and two-thirds of Americans regularly feel their taxes are too high; in 2010, a paltry 2 percent thought them too low. Big budget deficits follow logically; but of course, most Americans want those trimmed, too.

The trouble is that, despite superficial support for “deficit reduction” or “tax reform,” few Americans would surrender their own benefits, subsidies and tax breaks — a precondition for success. As a practical matter, most federal programs and tax breaks fall into one of two categories, each resistant to change.

The first includes big items (Social Security, the mortgage interest deduction) whose benefits are so large that any hint of cuts prompts massive opposition — or its specter. Practical politicians retreat. The second encompasses smaller programs (Amtrak, ethanol subsidies) that, though having a tiny budget effect, inspire fanatical devotion from their supporters. Just recently, for example, the documentary filmmaker Ken Burns defended culture subsidies (“an infinitesimally small fraction of the deficit”) in The Post. Politicians retreat; meager budget gains aren’t worth the disproportionate public vilification.

Well, if you can’t change big programs or small programs, what can you do? Not much.

If deficits were temporary — they were certainly justified to temper the recession — or small, they would be less worrisome. That was true for many years. No more. An aging population and uncontrolled health costs now create an ongoing and massive mismatch between spending and revenue, even at “full employment.” The great threat is a future debt crisis, with investors balking at buying all the Treasury bonds the government requires to operate. So President Obama and Congress face a dilemma: The more they seek to defuse the economic problem of too much debt, the greater the political risks they assume by cutting spending or raising taxes.

The package to prevent a shutdown barely touches the prevailing stalemate. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s proposed 2012 budget forthrightly addresses health spending but doesn’t make any cuts in Social Security. Ryan’s plan would ultimately gut defense and some valuable domestic programs; it wouldn’t reach balance until about 2040. Compared with Democrats, however, Ryan is a model of intellectual rigor and political courage. Obama would run huge deficits from now to eternity; the Congressional Budget Office has projected about $12 trillion of added debt from 2010 to 2021 under his policies. Obama urges an “adult” conversation and acts like a child, denying the unappealing choices.

Government is suicidal because it breeds expectations that cannot be met. All the partisan skirmishing over who gets credit for averting a shutdown misses the larger issue: whether we can restore government as an instrument of progress or whether it remains — as it is now — a threat.



"Republicans want to 'end Medicare as we know it.' Cue cat shriek! This 'end Medicare as we know it' line -- and many like it ('end Medicaid as we know it,' 'end carbon-based life as we know it,' etc.) -- is the lead-off talking point for the entire Democratic Party in response to Rep. Paul Ryan's just-released budget proposal, 'The Path to Prosperity.' Here's the thing: Of course he wants to end Medicare as we know it. You know why? Because the way we know it right now, the program is barreling toward insolvency. Personally, if I were on a plane that had one engine out and was belching smoke, I would certainly hope somebody with some judgment and competence might calmly remove his oxygen mask long enough to suggest 'ending this flight as we know it.'"

-Jonah Goldberg

"In 2010, three of the five top campaign contributors to the Democrats were public sector unions. Service Employees International was No. 2 at $11.6 million in campaign contributions to Democrats, the National Education Association was No. 3 at $8 million, and the American Federation of Teachers was No. 5 at $7 million. ... Liberals don't love big government because they think it's efficient, compassionate, fair or even remotely useful. They support big government because they are guaranteed the support of nearly everyone who works for the government. Public sector employee contracts are written by the union and rubber-stamped by Democrats -- and the taxpayers only find out years later that public school teachers are allowed to get a full year's pay for 30 days' work over three years after they retire -- as is the case in Green Bay, Wis., where one out of every 12 teachers retired this year to take advantage of the 'emeritus' scam. This is what all the commotion is about in Wisconsin. Republican Gov. Scott Walker isn't even trying to eliminate collective bargaining for government workers' salaries. He only wants to eliminate collective bargaining over their conditions of employment, which has led to massive inefficiencies."

-Ann Coulter

"There is no question that Terry Jones [the Florida pastor who burned a Koran] is an opportunist. Yet what would one call those Muslims who both incite and commit violence at the slightest provocation? It is worth remembering that when Newsweek falsely reported a Koran being flushed down a toilet at Guantanamo Bay in 2005, 15 people were killed in rioting. Former Seattle Weekly cartoonist Molly Norris has been forced into hiding -- in the United States -- after she became the target of a death threat following her 'Everybody Draw Mohammed Day' satire for that newspaper. The most compelling argument against what Jones did can be reduced to the idea that you don't swat a hornet's nest. Yet it is precisely that kind of self-censorship which allows the hornets to continue stinging whenever they choose to do so. ... This is where the West's infatuation with political correctness has taken us. It is an ideological bankruptcy so profound, that we are reduced to a disturbing reality brought on by equal amounts of weak thinking, apologist inanity and reflexive appeasement: It takes a bigot to expose a death cult."

-Arnold Ahlert

"While it's true that Muammar Gaddafi is a brutal tyrant, that's par for the course in Arab and Muslim nations. In fact, the only thing I've noticed that sets him apart from the norm is that he appears to be a transvestite. So, why the heck are we looking to depose him? For offending the international dress code?"

-Burt Prelutsky



“The Flipside of Feminism: What Conservative Women Know -- and Men Can't Say “ by Susan Venker and Phyllis Schlafly. Ann Coulter says, "A gutsy and profound book. Those who crave the truth will inhale The Flipside of Feminism, while those beholden to feminism will resist it. For both, Flipside is a must-read. Schlafly and Venker show how insidious the feminist movement is - and what is its real motive." Mark Levin says "The Flipside of Feminism exposes the lies at the core of the feminist agenda: there is no difference between men and women, the hook-up culture is liberating, women are oppressed victims in the home and office, and children are fine when left all day in daycare. Those who consider themselves 'socially liberal but fiscally conservative' will re-examine their attitudes after reading this book."

“Class Tax Mass Tax” by Peter Rush. No one loves to pay taxes. From the time the first tribal leader demanded a share of his kin's produce as a price for protection, tax systems have been inequitable and contradictory. But the American personal income tax, converted to a mass tax in 1941, has expanded the government's ability to raise revenue beyond the wildest dreams of any king. The income tax, once hailed as the way to prevent the concentration of wealth in a few hands, has become an albatross around the neck of the common man and driven many into the underground economy. Class Tax Mass Tax expertly weaves the stories of regular (and not so regular) Americans striving for their dreams with the complex history and ramifications of America's income tax as well as the federal government's increased reliance on it.

Who is John Galt? “ promote fiscal conservatism and have a great evening, see "Atlas Shrugged" (Part 1), on opening night, this Friday, Tax Day. Liberals hate Ayn Rand. Hundreds of great thinkers from Adam Smith through Milton Friedman have argued that free markets work better than government control. Rand takes a different approach, arguing for the morality of capitalism, and "Atlas Shrugged" is her greatest work. A 1991 study commissioned by the Library of Congress listed "Atlas Shrugged" as the second most influential book of all time, right after The Bible. This is an independent film with limited distribution. Box office receipts in the first few days will determine if the film gains wider distribution and if the second two parts are made. A list of Seattle-area theaters showing "Atlas Shrugged" is here.

The trailer:

“After more than 50 years, Ayn Rand’s seminal novel and ode to free market capitalism “Atlas Shrugged” is finally hitting the big screen this weekend, in the first of a planned trilogy of movies…….Reaching out to conservative organizations such as the Cato Institute, FreedomWorks and Tea Party groups, the filmmakers are actively courting a target audience that they believe Hollywood would not so willingly endorse.”



Bolivia will this month table a draft United Nations treaty giving "Mother Earth" the same rights as humans — having just passed a domestic law that does the same for bugs, trees and all other natural things in the South American country. The bid aims to have the UN recognize the Earth as a living entity that humans have sought to "dominate and exploit" — to the point that the "well-being and existence of many beings" is now threatened.

Obamacare’s $200 million propaganda campaign designed to “make a behavioral change” in individuals is revealed. Big Brother can't get much bigger.

While Republicans demand an end to reckless government spending, is organizing a "rolling fast" to protest the “immoral budget cuts Republicans are pushing in Washington."

“….this extraordinary video, posted by RealClearPolitics, reveals the innermost character of modern liberalism in just a little over one minute. Speaking last week at Tufts University, Nancy Pelosi said, among other things, "To my Republican friends, take back your party so that it doesn't matter so much who wins the election because we have shared values."

The “Congressional Progressive Caucus” calls for a $4 trillion tax increase over 10 years. An increase in the top tax rate to 49 percent. A $2.3 trillion cut in defense spending – and an increase in domestic spending. Oh, and they would revive the “public option” to offer government-run health care. The progressives, in their rollout, were not quite ready for prime time. “Their oft-repeated slogan, “The People’s Budget,” conveyed an unhelpful association with “the people’s republic” and other socialist undertakings.”



An Iraqi immigrant has been sentenced to 34 years in an Arizona prison for running over his daughter because she became too Westernized. He was also found guilty of aggravated assault for running over the mother of Noor's boyfriend and two counts of leaving the scene of an accident. A Maricopa County Superior Court judge told Almaleki, 50, that forgiveness is the core of all religion and was struck by his lack of remorse for the killing.

A provocative, unsettling theory on why the Muslim world is such a basket case. “Everywhere in the western world, people look at the savage violence that is a daily occurrence in the Muslim world and shake their heads in stunned disbelief. A pastor of a very small Christian flock in Florida burns a Koran. Weeks later at literally the global antipode, Muslim imams drive through neighborhoods in a vehicle with loudspeakers attached, calling the townsfolk to riot. The townsfolk respond, and before it is all over, at least 22 innocent people are dead at the hands of these townsfolk, with at least two of them beheaded. How is this possible? How can this be? How can human behavior and culture be so monstrously different? Is this difference attributable to nothing more than environmental nurture theory? No. There is something else. There is a catalyst -- absent in every other culture on earth -- that has poisoned the cultural soil, thus yielding the fruit of bad harvest for nearly 1,400 years.….the Muslim population is the only population on earth that is mentally and physically devolving. This inherent weakness makes Muslim populations more susceptible to nefarious, oppressive leadership and mass manipulation. The amount of objective evidence supporting this statement is colossal and obvious.”



Snookered. That's what grassroots conservatives are feeling about the Boehner budget deal. A backlash is building among the grassroots that hasn't crested yet. Boehner's less-than-honest budget deal advertising may pass as clever in Washington, but it's not selling across the nation to conservatives.

Jonah Goldberg: “I can't remember a more depressing week in Washington. The Republicans boasted a heroic accomplishment: slashing $38.5 billion from the budget, purportedly the largest cuts in history. But strip away the gimmicks and shine a light on the shadows, and it turns out the real cuts amounted to $352 million, or less than 1 percent of what was promised. America borrows $4 billion a day. So we likely borrowed more than we cut in the amount of time the GOP leadership spent bragging about its "victory." It is a dismal, dreary, mope-inducing performance that makes one wonder what the point of the 2010 elections were.”

5 Things That Will Happen To You When America Goes Bankrupt

Making union membership or portions of union dues voluntary has a track record of resulting in fewer employees’ paying. Consider Indiana, where Gov. Mitch Daniels signed an executive order limiting collective bargaining for state workers. In 2005, when Daniels signed the order, 16,408 state employees belonged to the union. Now 1,490 do…… In 2006, a Heritage Foundation analysis found that after paycheck protection was passed, public-sector union donations to candidates declined by about 40 to 50 percent. Take Utah, which passed paycheck protection in 2001. In the following year, donations from the Utah Education Association declined by 75 percent, while the Utah Public Employees Association donated nothing that year, according to the Utah Taxpayers Association. In 2005, the UEA reported that only 6.8 percent of teachers were donating to the political arm of the union, down from 68 percent before the law.

Exclusive Interview With ‘Kennedys’ Producer Joel Surnow – Part 1

"Obama has spent more money and added more debt than any President in history. This is not political rhetoric, this is simply fact!"

As governor, Mitt Romney accomplished a feat that most Republicans would have thought impossible. With the single stroke of a pen he convinced the liberal population of Massachusetts that they, too, hate government-run health care. As a health care plan, Romneycare is an unmitigated fiasco. It has caused costs to skyrocket, insurance premiums to soar and nonprofit providers like Blue Cross to suffer hundreds of millions of dollars in losses.

“RomneyCare could be radioactive for GOP”



The latest new car from Government Motors (yes, the steering wheel falls off)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) talks about how he enjoys hearing the pledge of allegiance at the beginning of the Senate session, however does not say "under God." Instead, he says "one nation, indivisible."



"President Obama said Thursday that green energy will be worth the expense. People can't believe their utility bills lately. With the price of water and power it's more cost-effective to go to Wal-Mart and buy a replacement shirt for a dollar than it is to do laundry."

-Argus Hamilton



Leno: A lot of people wonder what a government shutdown would be like. I think a lot more people wonder what a government running properly would be like."

Jay Leno



"Madness is rare in individuals - but in groups, parties, nations, and ages it is the rule."


"You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot help small men by tearing down big men. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot lift the wage-earner by pulling down the wage-payer. You cannot help the poor man by destroying the rich. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred. You cannot establish security on borrowed money. You cannot build character and courage by taking away men's initiative and independence. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves."

-William Boetcker (1873-1962)

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