Saturday, January 31, 2009

How is any of this going to stimulate the economy?

Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats are playing the voters for fools with the so-called stimulus package. The massive $825 billion package is not even targeted on programs to stimulate the economy. Instead, it is laced with runaway government spending for increased welfare, overgrown bureaucracy, pork, political payoffs, and other waste. That runaway spending is causing record smashing deficits of $1.5 trillion or more, equivalent to over 50% of the entire federal budget for fiscal 2008.

For example, the "stimulus" package includes $50 million for the National Endowment of the Arts to help "the arts community throughout the United States." Wouldn't want our economy to get behind in the international arts competition. The government is going to borrow $50 million out of the private economy to spend on this, which will result in a net loss of economic output rather than a net gain.

Another $2.1 billion is for Head Start, another program not previously known for stimulating the economy. A further $2 billion is to be spent on Child Care Development Block Grants, which provide day care. We are going to revive economic growth through the federal government spending billions on babysitting, rather than tax cuts for capital investment. A similar initiative involves $120 million to finance part-time work for seniors in community service agencies.

Then there is $500 million to speed the processing of applications for Social Security disability claims. This has already created one net new job in the employment of a person within the Obama Administration assigned to figure out what this has to do with stimulating the economy.

Another $6 billion goes to college and universities. We already spend hundreds of billions on these schools, and such education provides valuable long-term benefits. But this is not a means to spark a booming economy in the short term. The same is true of the $13 billion in Title I grants "to provide extra academic support to help raise the achievement of students at risk of educational failure or to help all students in high-poverty schools meet challenging State academic standards," as the congressional report accompanying the bill explains. Ditto that for the $13 billion in IDEA, Part B State grants to help pay for "the excess costs of providing special education and related services to children with disabilities."

Then there is the effort to stimulate the economy by increasing welfare spending. There is $20 billion for increased food stamps, including lifting restrictions on how long welfare dependents can receive food stamp benefits. Another $1.7 billion is to be spent to help the homeless, not previously in our history a significant source of economic growth. Another $1 billion goes for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance program, to help low income families pay their heating bills, a worthy objective that has nothing to do with stimulating the economy. Still another billion goes to the Community Services Block Grant to support "employment, food, housing, health, and emergency assistance to low-income families and individuals." Another $200 million goes for senior nutrition programs, such as Meals on Wheels. Then there is an additional $200 million for AmeriCorps, to help satisfy "increased demand for services for vulnerable populations to meet critical needs in communities across the U.S." Another $5 billion is devoted to public housing. None of this increased welfare spending has anything to do with promoting economic growth. Rather, it retards growth by inducing more dependency on government.

Another $87 billion is to be spent on Medicaid, a welfare program already costing roughly $400 billion per year. Those funds would be spent in part on "family planning services," meaning contraception. Reagan created a 25-year economic boom in part by cutting top marginal income tax rates. Liberal Democrats are now going to try to do it by passing out condoms.

Medicaid is one of the major entitlement programs projected to explode to overwhelming costs in the future. Obama is assuring the more conservative Blue Dog Democrats that he will address runaway entitlement costs as soon as next month. But to start let's increase those costs by almost $100 billion right now.

Then there is the funding to maintain and expand bureaucracy and overall big government spending. The "stimulus" package includes $2.5 billion for the National Science Foundation, $2.0 billion for the National Park Service, $650 million for the U.S. Forest Service, $600 million for NASA, $800 million for AMTRAK, $276 million to the State Department to upgrade and modernize its information technology, $150 million for maintenance work at the Smithsonian Institution, $209 million for maintenance work for the Federal Agricultural Research Service, $44 million for repairs and improvements at the Washington, D.C. headquarters of the Department of Agriculture, and $245 million to upgrade the information technology of the Farm Service Agency. Borrowing money from the private sector to spend on these bureaucracies will not provide a boost to the economy. It will likely again produce a net loss of output.

A shocking provision provides $1.1 billion for so-called federal comparative effectiveness research in regard to health-care services. The congressional report explaining the stimulus bill says:

By knowing what works best and presenting this information more broadly to patients and healthcare professionals, those items, procedures, and interventions that are most effective to prevent, control, and treat health conditions will be utilized, while those that are found to be less effective and in some cases, more expensive, will no longer be prescribed.

But a government bureaucracy in Washington is never going to know what "items, procedures and interventions are most effective to prevent, control and treat health conditions" for each patient, regardless of how much federal research is done. This is what doctors are for. This bureaucratic initiative is really laying the foundation for the eventual health care rationing to be imposed under the new Obama "universal" health care entitlement program, which is coming soon. I told you so, in previous columns.

To call this spending economic recovery stimulus, however, is an abuse of the English language.

Another abuse is to be found in the $4.2 billion provided to the Neighborhood Stabilization Fund, which provides the funds to local governments to purchase and rehab vacant housing due to foreclosure. The congressional report accompanying the stimulus bill states, "Up to $750 million may be used for a competition for nonprofit entities to enhance the funding included under this heading through capitalization of the funds." Reportedly, this funding is intended to be siphoned off to ACORN, the far-left, rogue, lawbreaking organization prosecuted across the country in the past couple of years for voter fraud. ACORN has also used violent intimidation tactics in the past to pursue its goals, and was heavily involved in housing programs in the past that led to widespread bad loans.

Another $79 billion is to go the states to maintain their runaway government spending, particularly for such spendthrift jurisdictions as California, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. High state government spending is also not a source of economic growth.

Then there are other items in the "stimulus" package that may involve desirable government spending, but do not involve stimulating the economy, and should be subject to the normal budget process. These include $3 billion for health care prevention and wellness programs, such as childhood immunizations and other state and local public health programs, $2.4 billion for projects demonstrating carbon capture technology, $17 billion for Pell Grants, $1 billion for Technology Education, $1.9 billion for the Energy Department for "basic research into the physical sciences," $650 million for digital TV coupons to help Americans upgrade to digital cable television, $100 million to reduce lead-based paint hazards for children in low income housing, $400 million for "habitat restoration projects" of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, $1.2 billion for summer jobs for youth, $2 billion for Superfund cleanup, and others.

The great Obama's plan to talk and tell the crazy Iranians that they should like us, doesn't appear to be working.

President Barack Obama's olive branch to Iran was seriously snubbed in the past couple of days as key figures within the Islamic nation made it clear that they have no interest in talking with America unless we change our policies.

Even worse, an Iranian government spokesman said Obama's statement on Al Arabiya Wednesday concerning a willingness to talk to Iran "means Western ideology has become passive, that capitalist thought and the system of domination have failed."

Might this alter the press's repeated view the previous eight years that tensions in the Middle East were largely caused by President Bush's refusal to talk to Iran without preconditions concerning that nation's nuclear buildup, and that all would be well in the world if we would just agree to meet with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on any terms?

Another thing we the taxpayers get to pay for. The estimated hospital bill for the 8 babies, 3.2million.

She clearly needs help.

The California woman who gave birth to octuplets is a single mom who already has six other children - and as if that's not enough, they all live with her parents, who last year went bankrupt.

Octo-mom Nadya Suleman, 33, works in a fertility clinic and used the same sperm donor for all 14 kids, neighbors told The Post.

In addition to her octuplets, she has three sets of twins, aged 5, 3, and 2, neighbors said.

Last night Suleman's mom, Angela, improbably insisted that science played no role in the production of this massive brood.

"She was not on fertility drugs," Angela Suleman told The Post.

Suleman's father Ed, a Palestinian immigrant who hails from Jerusalem, brought bags of cookies and diapers into the family's three-bedroom house yesterday. He said the eight new bundles of joy were "God's wish," and added, "I have no idea what to do with God."

Nadya Suleman gave birth to the octuplets Monday at Kaiser Permanente Bellflower Medical Center.

Her father said, "They're all fine."

Suleman's parents were almost $1 million in debt and declared bankruptcy in March 2008 after foreclosure proceedings began on one of their homes. Ed then went to Iraq to do translation work as a contractor to earn extra money for the family.

Nadya did not plan to have eight babies at once, her mother, Angela, said - in fact, doctors advised her to consider selectively reducing the number of fetuses. But she ignored advice about the risks to both her and her babies, she said.

"What do you suggest she should have done? She refused to have them killed," Angela told the Los Angeles Times, insisting her daughter "is not evil." "That is a very painful thing."

Nadya never expected all eight embryos would take, her mom said.

The birth of octuplets to a single mother with six prior children posed a slew of ethical questions, experts said,.

During in vitro fertilization, the ovaries are stimulated to release an excessive number of eggs, which then are surgically retrieved and fertilized in a petri dish.

Fertility doctors typically never transfer more than two embryos at a time when a woman is under the age of 35 - and transferring eight is a gross violation of accepted practice, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

"I would never do that," said Dr. Jamie Grifo of the NYU Fertility Center, who helped create some of the guidelines currently in place.

"Sometimes patients ask us to do crazy things, but most of the time we are able to precounsel them about the risks," he said. "Some clinics have much poorer success rates and therefore put back many more embryos."

Although twins are common with in-vitro pregnancies, high-order multiples are rare, Grifo said.

If a patient is staunchly anti-abortion and opposed to selective reduction, the doctor has an ethical responsibility to steer them away from situations that could result in high-order multiple births, experts said.

But doctors do not believe it is their place to dictate how many children women can have.

"I don't think it's our job to tell them how many babies they're allowed to have.," Grifo said.

It's unclear where Suleman received her fertility treatments, but based on the success of her prior three sets of twins, there was no medical reason to transfer eight embryos, Grifo said.

It also is unclear how she is going to get the money to pay for 14 children - though welfare is generous in California, which has three times more people getting assistance than any other state.

According to one neighbor, Suleman used the same sperm donor for all 14 kids. The donor was an acquaintance, who after getting married recently, asked her no longer to use his sperm, a neighbor said. "But she did it anyway," the neighbor said.

The six boys and two girls are only the second set of octuplets born alive in the US. They were delivered nine weeks premature and ranged between 1 pound, 8 ounces and 3 pounds, 4 ounces at birth.

Dr. Mandhir Gupta said seven of the babies were breathing without assistance. One was still receiving oxygen through a tube in his nose.

More change, It looks like not paying taxes is part of the change for the new administration.

From the early days of his campaign, Obama made with the flourish that, should he be elected, lobbyists would not be welcome in his new tone Washington, his Washington of change and hope. Soon after the election, Obama’s spokesman John Podesta made a great show of announcing that Obama was insisting on the “strictest ethics rules ever applied” to his ongoing choices for members of his administration and his transition team.

In the early November news conference, Podesta proudly proclaimed that Obama was so interested in distancing himself from the old, business-as-usual Washington that they didn’t care if they were excluding people of long Washington experience with their supposed strict ethics rules. Podesta sternly told reporters, “I’ve heard the complaint that we’re leaving all these extra people on the side, that we’re leaving all the people that know everything out in the cold. So be it. That’s a commitment that is one the American people expect and one the President-elect made.”

Yet within weeks it became clear that this new ethical standard was merely so much window dressing. Now, lobbyists abound in Obama’s administration and have since day one. Not only that, but tax cheats seem to be particularly drawn to the new president.

Several high profile Obama appointees have had major tax issues chief of whom is Timothy Geithner, Obama’s new Secretary of Treasury. But, late last week, it also came to light that Obama’s choice to head the Department of Health and Human Services, Tom Dsaschle, seemed to have conveniently forgotten to claim a free car and driver as income on his taxes and had somehow made this tax faux pas for years.

Naturally, during the vetting process to be approved as the new HHS head, Daschle mysteriously “remembered” the oversight and “repaid” the IRS $101,943 which is the cost of the free limo service and the interest on the “accidentally” forgotten income tax.

And let us not forget that former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson had to withdraw his name for consideration as head of the the Department of Transportation because he is connected to illegal pay-to-play schemes in his state.

Then there are the many lobbyists that have joined the anti-lobbyist president in Washington.

Recently Politico detailed a list of some of the many lobbyists that Barack Obama has seen fit to “bend his rules” to allow into his administration. They find “at least a dozen” lobbyists have entered this purportedly anti-lobbyist administration.

Here is the list of lobbyists joining the Obama administration Politico came up with:

Eric Holder, attorney general nominee, was registered to lobby until 2004 on behalf of clients including Global Crossing, a bankrupt telecommunications firm.

Tom Vilsack, secretary of agriculture nominee, was registered to lobby as recently as last year on behalf of the National Education Association.

William Lynn, deputy defense secretary nominee, was registered to lobby as recently as last year for defense contractor Raytheon, where he was a top executive.

William Corr, deputy health and human services secretary nominee, was registered to lobby until last year for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, a non-profit that pushes to limit tobacco use.

David Hayes, deputy interior secretary nominee, was registered to lobby until 2006 for clients, including the regional utility San Diego Gas & Electric.

Mark Patterson, chief of staff to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, was registered to lobby as recently as last year for financial giant Goldman Sachs.

Ron Klain, chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden, was registered to lobby until 2005 for clients, including the Coalition for Asbestos Resolution, U.S. Airways, Airborne Express and drug-maker ImClone.

Mona Sutphen, deputy White House chief of staff, was registered to lobby for clients, including Angliss International in 2003.

Melody Barnes, domestic policy council director, lobbied in 2003 and 2004 for liberal advocacy groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the American Constitution Society and the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Cecilia Munoz, White House director of intergovernmental affairs, was a lobbyist as recently as last year for the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic advocacy group.

Patrick Gaspard, White House political affairs director, was a lobbyist for the Service Employees International Union.

Michael Strautmanis, chief of staff to the president’s assistant for intergovernmental relations, lobbied for the American Association of Justice from 2001 until 2005.

Doubtless this will be just the beginning.

Obama’s lip service to which he subsequently fails to adhere is nothing new. He has built a career on it. For decades in Chicago Obama used as a weapon with which to disarm his opponents his rhetoric of hope-n-change, his breathless exclamations that we all need to be working together. He’s claimed for a decade that he wants to reach across the aisle and work with anyone that wants to do so. Yet, he has no actual voting record to prove the rhetoric. He has talked a great game, but every time it has come to crunch time, Obama always votes for an agenda that is strictly in keeping with the far left.

So, it is clear that his acclaimed rhetoric on ethics is in keeping with his long standing practice of issuing flowery speeches and then voting against his own words. After all, from what we’ve seen so far, Obama will hire anyone he wants quite regardless of his so-called “strict ethics.” Lobbyists and tax cheats quite aside.

Another example of hope and change, at least the change part.

42 people dead; communities iced in and without lifesaving power for heat and cooking; conditions worsening — and FEMA nowhere to be found.

This isn’t a lefty caricature of disaster-response under the Bush administration; it’s real-life unresponsiveness under the leadership of President Obama (whose accession was supposed to mark a “return to competence” in government).

“In some parts of rural Kentucky, they’re getting water the old-fashioned way — with pails from a creek,” writes Associated Press reporter Bruce Schreiner. “There’s not room for one more sleeping bag on the shelter floor. The creative are flushing their toilets with melted snow.”

Schreiner continues:

Local officials were growing angry with what they said was a lack of help from the state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In Grayson County, about 80 miles southwest of Louisville, Emergency Management Director Randell Smith said the 25 National Guardsmen who have responded have no chain saws to clear fallen trees.

“We’ve got people out in some areas we haven’t even visited yet,” Smith said. “We don’t even know that they’re alive.”

Smith said FEMA has been a no-show so far.

“We’re asking people to pack a suitcase and head south and find a motel if they have the means, because we can’t service everybody in our shelter,” said Crittenden County Judge-Executive Fred Brown, who oversees about 9,000 people, many of whom are sleeping in the town’s elementary school.

“I’m not saying we can’t handle it; we’ll hand it,” Smith said. “But it would have made life a lot easier” if FEMA had reached the county sooner, he said.

Marty Hudak, spokesman for Obama FEMA director Nancy Ward, said emergency personnel can’t get to the people living (and dying) in these dangerous disaster areas because it’s, well, too dangerous to do so.

“We have plenty of folks ready to go, but there are some limitations with roads closed and icy conditions,” she told the AP.

“35,000 Dead”

When 12 people died in Kansas in May 2007 as a result of tornadoes, then-candidate Obama blamed the Iraq war for depleting the National Guard of needed resources to help the remaining victims.

“In case you missed it, this week, there was a tragedy in Kansas,” Obama said. “Ten thousand people died — an entire town destroyed; turns out that the National Guard in Kansas only had 40 percent of its equipment and they are having to slow down the recovery process.”

This brings up an interesting question. If twelve dead in reality was 10,000 in Obama’s head, shouldn’t this emergency situation, which has left 42 dead (that’s 35,000 in Obamathematics), be deserving of the promptest, most competent response possible?

Regardless, with a state of emergency that severe, and a number of Americans dead or dying, why is Barack Obama’s newly-competent Federal Emergency Management Agency sitting on its hands and waiting for the ice to melt and snow to clear before it actually responds to (or “manages”) this emergency?

Regardless, this is a serious situation which demands serious analysis and response. Like all of America’s natural disasters, the crisis in (majority-white) Kentucky is certainly no place for either side to inject race into the discussion. After all, that’s just unseemly, and neither side would ever do that — right?

Update by Jeff: The Daily Telegraph’s Tim Blair is calling this — you guessed it — “a Katrina moment for President Obama.” He says:

According to the Katrina template, this is all Obama’s fault. Yet Kentucky’s Democrat governor Steve Beshear earlier praised Obama’s swift action … in making a phone call:

“I can’t tell you how appreciative we were,” the governor said. “He not only expressed his concern, but he obviously had the Kentuckians in his thoughts and prayers, and he communicated that to us.”

Friday, January 30, 2009

One of the congress persons that gets it

Rep. Michele Bachmann explains to her Minnesota constituents about the historical failures of massive government spending, asking why the Obama administration wants to party like it’s 1929. She points out that both Herbert Hoover and FDR tried the same kind of so-called “stimulus” spending and it led to unprecedented debt and government bureaucracy. Even FDR’s Treasury Secretary admitted it was a failure:

The stock market collapse of 1929 brought a crashing halt to the Roaring Twenties. But President Herbert Hoover’s response to the economic crisis ensured that it became a genuine catastrophe. Contrary to popular perception, Hoover did not respond to the downturn with inaction or indifference — rather, he pursued a series of misguided big-government adventures that lengthened and deepened our economic woes.

Hoover not only dramatically hiked income and import taxes, but he instituted big-government spending programs all but identical to those being debated today. Hoover’s Reconstruction Finance Corporation tried to ease economic pain by funneling tax money to state governments, local governments, banks and a variety of businesses. His Federal Home Loan Bank Act extended loans in an effort to increase low-income housing — beginning the ill-fated history of federal intervention in the housing market.

These measures proved a dismal failure, and things got only worse. In the 1932 campaign, Franklin Roosevelt actually attacked Hoover for his big-government policies, decrying Hoover’s presidency as “the greatest spending administration in peacetime in all of history.”

Yet, once elected, Roosevelt not only maintained Hoover’s programs, he used them as a foundation for his titanic New Deal expenditures. He even expanded Hoover’s failed housing program and launched the now-infamous mortgage giant Fannie Mae. And even in the face of a staggering 25 percent unemployment, FDR held fast to the big-government philosophy — jobs programs, handouts, tax hikes — and, as a result, presided over a decade of economic misery.

FDR’s own treasury secretary, Henry Morgenthau, had to admit as much in 1939: “We are spending more than we have ever spent before, and it does not work. … We have never made good on our promises. I say after eight years of this administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started. And an enormous debt to boot!”

Bachmann wrote an excellent column, but the comments are even more entertaining. Instead of attacking Bachmann’s arguments, the Strib commenters instead attack Michele. One commenter finally noted that

As usual when reading reader comments I’m not sure whether to be entertained or saddened. Liberal retorts to conservative views are so predictable. They most often: - Present ad hominem attacks on the author, not the ideas - Mention some vague notion of Bush’s failed policies - Are emotional rather than logical - Fail to present any evidence to the contrary - Inject homosexuality into the argument - Inject racism into the argument - Blah blah blah. This stuff is better than the Enquirer.

No one really wants to address Bachmann’s points, mostly because they’re unassailable. Despite all of the capital confiscation and massive government spending on public works and entitlements, unemployment hardly budged during the entire decade. It remained above 20%, and just when it started to drop, FDR rolled out the second phase of the New Deal and unemployment shot back up. It only dropped when America went to war and a big percentage of its work force got mobilized into the military.

Instead of learning from history, Bachmann aptly notes, the Obama administration wants to party like it’s 1929, with protectionism, expanded government bureaucracies, and capital confiscation at a time when we need it in the private market to create jobs. Happy Days Are Here Again. Get ready for the bread (lines) and circuses, because eventually the Obama administration will have to avoid the pitchforks and torches.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Here is what is in the stimulus bill, very little stimulus.

So said White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in November, and Democrats in Congress are certainly taking his advice to heart. The 647-page, $825 billion House legislation is being sold as an economic "stimulus," but now that Democrats have finally released the details we understand Rahm's point much better. This is a political wonder that manages to spend money on just about every pent-up Democratic proposal of the last 40 years.
[Review & Outlook] AP

We've looked it over, and even we can't quite believe it. There's $1 billion for Amtrak, the federal railroad that hasn't turned a profit in 40 years; $2 billion for child-care subsidies; $50 million for that great engine of job creation, the National Endowment for the Arts; $400 million for global-warming research and another $2.4 billion for carbon-capture demonstration projects. There's even $650 million on top of the billions already doled out to pay for digital TV conversion coupons.

In selling the plan, President Obama has said this bill will make "dramatic investments to revive our flagging economy." Well, you be the judge. Some $30 billion, or less than 5% of the spending in the bill, is for fixing bridges or other highway projects. There's another $40 billion for broadband and electric grid development, airports and clean water projects that are arguably worthwhile priorities.

Add the roughly $20 billion for business tax cuts, and by our estimate only $90 billion out of $825 billion, or about 12 cents of every $1, is for something that can plausibly be considered a growth stimulus. And even many of these projects aren't likely to help the economy immediately. As Peter Orszag, the President's new budget director, told Congress a year ago, "even those [public works] that are 'on the shelf' generally cannot be undertaken quickly enough to provide timely stimulus to the economy."
Most of the rest of this project spending will go to such things as renewable energy funding ($8 billion) or mass transit ($6 billion) that have a low or negative return on investment. Most urban transit systems are so badly managed that their fares cover less than half of their costs. However, the people who operate these systems belong to public-employee unions that are campaign contributors to . . . guess which party?

Here's another lu-lu: Congress wants to spend $600 million more for the federal government to buy new cars. Uncle Sam already spends $3 billion a year on its fleet of 600,000 vehicles. Congress also wants to spend $7 billion for modernizing federal buildings and facilities. The Smithsonian is targeted to receive $150 million; we love the Smithsonian, too, but this is a job creator?

Another "stimulus" secret is that some $252 billion is for income-transfer payments -- that is, not investments that arguably help everyone, but cash or benefits to individuals for doing nothing at all. There's $81 billion for Medicaid, $36 billion for expanded unemployment benefits, $20 billion for food stamps, and $83 billion for the earned income credit for people who don't pay income tax. While some of that may be justified to help poorer Americans ride out the recession, they aren't job creators.


* $646,214 Per Government Job

As for the promise of accountability, some $54 billion will go to federal programs that the Office of Management and Budget or the Government Accountability Office have already criticized as "ineffective" or unable to pass basic financial audits. These include the Economic Development Administration, the Small Business Administration, the 10 federal job training programs, and many more.

Oh, and don't forget education, which would get $66 billion more. That's more than the entire Education Department spent a mere 10 years ago and is on top of the doubling under President Bush. Some $6 billion of this will subsidize university building projects. If you think the intention here is to help kids learn, the House declares on page 257 that "No recipient . . . shall use such funds to provide financial assistance to students to attend private elementary or secondary schools." Horrors: Some money might go to nonunion teachers.

The larger fiscal issue here is whether this spending bonanza will become part of the annual "budget baseline" that Congress uses as the new floor when calculating how much to increase spending the following year, and into the future. Democrats insist that it will not. But it's hard -- no, impossible -- to believe that Congress will cut spending next year on any of these programs from their new, higher levels. The likelihood is that this allegedly emergency spending will become a permanent addition to federal outlays -- increasing pressure for tax increases in the bargain. Any Blue Dog Democrat who votes for this ought to turn in his "deficit hawk" credentials.

This is supposed to be a new era of bipartisanship, but this bill was written based on the wish list of every living -- or dead -- Democratic interest group. As Speaker Nancy Pelosi put it, "We won the election. We wrote the bill." So they did. Republicans should let them take all of the credit.

Here is what Rush means when he said he wants Obama to fail.

They're taking it out of context. I knew they would. But here's the thing. You see, ladies and gentlemen, I very seldom talk about my marketing strategy because my belief is: You execute it. You don't tell anybody about it. You don't prepare 'em for it. You just do it. You know, why tell people how you plan to separate them from their money, for example? You just do it. I'm talking about retail and public relations, marketing plans. Okay. Here's the circumstance. It's just a window into my fertile mind. Here we are. The new president is obviously running as fast as he can to the liberal left. I have known it since I first started studying him. I have known he's not a moderate. I have known he's not a centrist. I have known that he doesn't want to take anybody's ideas that are not his.

He'll say he does, but he is who he is. He's an extreme radical leftist who talks a conservative game to mask it. His demeanor belies the fact that he is who he is. From his demeanor, you'd never think this guy is a radical. You would never think he's an extremist unless you took seriously who his mentors are: Jeremiah Wright, Father Pfleger, Louis Farrakhan, the whole list of these people that we weren't allowed to talk about during the campaigns. I mean, Obama's telling the Republicans not to listen to me, but it's okay for him to listen to Jeremiah Wright, for example. So in my mind, I know who he is and I know what he's going to do. I have no doubt, zero doubt about where Obama wants to take this country and why.

He wants to move it far left. He wants the government to be as large as it can. He wants power. He wants to punish success. He wants to try to make everybody as equal and the same as possible, 'cause that's "fair." There is nothing about him that has an adoration or respect for capitalism. Look at the stimulus bill and you can see. To me, anyway, there's no question about this. Now, when I gaze out across the country and I look at what is called the mass media, I see no person, entity, network -- I see no attitude, no similar attitude reflected. I see no skepticism. I see no curiosity. I see no informed knowledge. I see nothing but pure groupie idolatry, from a constitutionally charged business designed to be suspicious of people who want power and to vet them and to find out who they are.

So the mass media is selling a version of Obama that he wants sold. They are helping to advance it, to promote it, and promulgate it. Now, what am I to do? I love my country. I was born at one of the best times in world history to be born. We all were. Look at the opportunity that we have had because of the diligent, hard work, and sacrifices of our forbears. Look at the abundance into which we were born. Now, I don't have kids but I've got nieces and nephews, and I've got a lot of family that have kids, cousins and so forth. You have kids and grandkids. And part and parcel of responsibility as a human being, especially an American, when we are born and inherit such a wonderful place, it has to be incumbent on all of us to first and foremost want to pass that on to others. Why would we want...?

We always hear parents say, "I want my kids to have a better life than I had." It's natural. There's nothing wrong with that, and it's true. So I firmly believe that the policies of the left -- I don't care who runs 'em. I don't care who's implementing them, Ted Kennedy, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama. I don't care who's implementing them, they're bad. They're destructive. They eliminate or damage individual freedom. They destroy lives in the sense that they destroy the quest for excellence. They destroy the quest for individuality. They make everybody feel like they're victims. They make everybody feel like the world resolves around them. They bust up families with welfare programs. Liberalism is destructive, and it's a myth. It's a series of myths, and it's destructive, and it can destroy the country as we've known it, if unchecked.
Like it has destroyed New Orleans, or did, like it has destroyed Detroit, like it's on the verge of altering California in ways that people who are native to that state are crying about. You go to any city that has been run by unchecked liberalism for years, and you will see a microcosm of what can happen to this country if they succeed to the degree they've succeeded in these cities. Forty-seven percent of graduates in Detroit cannot read, high school graduates. Now, to liberals that's an opportunity. To us, it's a crying shame. So I'm being somewhat verbose here in explaining to you why I have this great fear and opposition to liberalism, socialism, collectivism, whatever you want to call it. The evidence is all around us to see; the effects of it, in Detroit, in New Orleans, prior to Hurricane Katrina or any other place where nobody but liberals run the show.

I don't care if it's a city or a ward or a neighborhood or a whole state or a whole city, you can see it. It's there -- and conversely, you can see the prosperity that exists when it is not dominate, when liberalism is not dominate. So, believing this to the bottom of my heart and to the depth of my fertile brain, what do I see when I gaze out across the country but a bunch of people who have given up, who have been told there is no hope for them. There is no chance either because of their gender, their skin color, their size, what have you. I look at a media which is promoting the very things and people I fear will cause great damage and destruction to the country. So I decide to say, "I hope it fails," and then I say, "I hope he fails."

To me, it is the most basic common sense, and what stuns me is that no one, apparently -- well, outside of our little world here of conservatism. No one is examining at all the effects of this plan, which is depressing! It's frustrating. It makes you mad. But I'm not one just to sit around and take it. So, okay. If it takes somebody dropping a little bomb to cause some people to wake up and at least start thinking, even if they're knee-jerk reacting, I'll gladly do it. So, damn well I intended to say it! I'm saying it again now: I hope he fails! Because, my friends, America wins if liberalism fails, and that's the bottom line. America wins if this plan fails, because it can only fail, this plan. This has never worked. What they're trying has never worked. This plan will fail.

And it's gonna cause pain and suffering, and it's going to be a long recovery from it, and I believe that the people in this didn't get what they want and get what they vote for, based on, you know, a whole bunch of factors that make them think and vote the way they do. I hope it fails. I hope liberalism fails every time it's tried because it has. I don't want it to succeed. America succeeding, and everyone talks about, "But we all want our new president to succeed!" No, we all want our new president to do the right thing. Big difference. We all want our president to do the right thing. If we're attacked by someone, we want him to do the right thing. We don't know if closing Guantanamo is the right thing. We do not know if turning these people loose and trying them in US courts is the right thing. Well, I don't think it's the right thing. I know it's not the right thing -- and I know this economic porkulus bill is not the right thing. I want America to succeed.

I love my country. I want it to remain the place with more freedom and more opportunity and more prosperity than anyplace on the planet and I want the rest of the planet to learn from us, and this ain't the way to do it. So I want America to succeed. My whole objective here is to maintain an America in the image of its Founders and founding, where individual liberty and freedom reward the human spirit and the yearning to be free, the entrepreneurial desire to excel at something. That's the greatest propellant this economy has ever had, and I'm all for it continuing. I don't want to starve this engine of fuel -- and the government is not fuel, and it's not an engine. The government is a giant roadblock. And the people trying to build the government are, in my mind, moving us forward toward America not being the best it could be. So that's what "I hope it fails" means.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A great example why Jimmy Carter is dangerous

Jimmy Carter was on the Today show this morning, where he was interviewed by Meredith Viera. Carter's exposition of events in the Middle East consisted mostly of an endorsement of Hamas. It almost has to be read to be believed:

CARTER: ... We've had a chance to meet two times with the leaders of Hamas, both those in Gaza and those that are top leaders in Damascus, Syria.

VIEIRA: And you've been criticized for that, sir, because Hamas is considered a terrorist group.

CARTER: By some, they are, and they've done some bad things. But for instance, the year before we had the cease-fire, that I helped to orchestrate last June, the 19th, there was one Israeli killed by rockets. And on an average, 49 Palestinians killed every month during that previous year. And as soon as the cease-fire went into effect, Hamas obeyed it completely. There was no serious rocket fire during the next four or five months.

Whereas, Israel did not restore providing provisions for the Palestinians and Gaza. But Hamas has pledged to me -- and publicly -- that they will accept any cease-fire that is negotiated between the Fatah leader, Mahmoud Abbas, and the Israelis, provided the cease- fire, in turn, is then submitted to the Palestinian people for approval and a referendum. So, that's a major step forward.

Hamas is considered a terrorist group "by some"? Carter apparently does not count himself among those "some," but on what conceivable theory is Hamas not a terrorist organization?

That, in any event, is evidently a small concern for Carter. In his view, Hamas is entirely reliable, and when anything goes wrong it is Israel's fault:

VIEIRA: Do you believe that Hamas can be trusted?

CARTER: Yes, I do. I think they can, because of their own self- interest, not because they're benevolent, or kind, or that sort of thing. But yes, I do. I think they can. And they've never betrayed any commitment that they've made to me, or publicly, as a matter of fact. ...

VIEIRA: But Hamas has said its goal is to destroy Israel. How can you involve them in a peace process when they said their goal is to destroy Israel? They don't recognize Israel.

CARTER: I'm not here to defend Hamas, but to tell you what they have pledged to me, and publicly: That if any agreement is negotiated between Fatah leaders and Israel, that Hamas will accept the agreement if it's submitted to the Palestinian people in a referendum. And that's a very good step forward. And I think they will do that because of their own self-interest.

And Hamas complied very thoroughly with the cease-fire agreement that I had worked out for the last June the 19th. For five months, there were no rockets fired until Israel did attack Gaza again on November 4th.

So Hamas' firing of 126 rockets and 71 mortars into Israel in November, and the many that have followed since then, was all Israel's fault because the Israelis "did attack Gaza again on November 4th."

For those who don't recall that "attack," these are the facts, as we related here:

The IDF sent special forces 200 yards across the border to destroy a tunnel that had been built to facilitate the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers. Intelligence indicated that such a kidnapping was imminent:

The IDF accused Hamas of jeopardizing the truce by digging the tunnel and plotting to abduct more Israeli soldiers in the immediate future.

"The tunnel we uncovered was ready for imminent use, forcing us to act immediately," the military source said. "We did not know where the other end of the tunnel surfaced. In light of the intelligence we received about its immediate use, plans for special forces to enter Gaza this evening after sundown were approved," he added.

Hamas gunmen opened fire on IDF forces and Hamas fired 45 rockets into Israel the same night.

I can't speculate on his motives, but Carter's animus against Israel and his weirdly positive attitude toward America's terrorist enemies make him a force for evil, not for good, in the Middle East.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Not only do U.S. taxpayers have to pay for abortions, we have to pay for foreign abortions.

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama on Friday will lift restrictions on U.S. government funding for groups that provide abortion services or counseling abroad, reversing a policy of his Republican predecessor George W. Bush, an administration official said.

"It will be today. He's going to make an executive order (lifting the global gag rule)," the official said.

The Democratic president's decision is a victory for advocates of abortion rights on an issue that in recent years has become a tit-for-tat policy change each time the White House shifts from one party to the other.

When the ban was in place, no U.S. government funding for family planning services could be given to clinics or groups that offer abortion services or counseling in other countries even if the funds for those activities come from non-U.S. government sources.

It has been called the Mexico City Policy because it was unveiled at a United Nations conference there in 1984 and became one of the centerpiece social policies of the conservative administration of former President Ronald Reagan, a Republican.

Critics call it the "gag rule" because it also cuts funds to groups that advocate or lobby for the lifting of abortion restrictions, so they say it infringes on free speech. They also say it has reduced healthcare for some of the world's poorest women.

Former President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, rescinded the rule when he took office in January 1993 and his successor, Republican George W. Bush, reinstated it in January 2001.

When he reinstated it, Bush said taxpayer funds should not be used to pay for or advocate abortions.

Anti-abortion activists agreed with Bush and criticized the move to lift the ban on funding.

"When we wake up every morning to a deepening financial crisis, it is an insult to the American people to bail out the abortion industry," said Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life.

"Planned Parenthood is a billion dollar company and they do not need additional resources to burden the American taxpayer," she added.

The United States spends more than $400 million on overseas family planning assistance each year.

Critics of the funding ban say the anti-abortion restrictions have resulted in huge drops for funding worldwide to organizations that provide family-planning services and basic healthcare. They say this means many women are deprived of contraception and other health services in poor countries, leading to back-alley abortions and deaths.

The Center for Reproductive Rights says, for example, that in Ethiopia and Lesotho, some non-governmental organizations are no longer able to offer comprehensive and integrated healthcare services to patients suffering from HIV/AIDS.

Abortion rights opponents and groups who support the Mexico City Policy contest the view that it has led to an increase of illegal abortions or deaths overseas.

Unlike Clinton and Bush, Obama did not act on the rule on the January 22 anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling that made abortions legal throughout the country.

Obama asks GOP what they think about bailout then says I won.

(Newser) – President Obama listened to Republican gripes about his stimulus plan today, then calmly reminded them that "I won," Politico reports. The GOP is seeking more middle-class tax cuts, among other things, and says the spending package is too large. Further negotiations are planned, but Dems appear to be in control. Asked if he worried about GOP resistance to passing the bill by Feb. 14, Harry Reid replied, “No.”

“We expressed our concerns about some of the spending that’s being proposed in the House bill,” House Minority Leader John Boehner said, adding that “government can’t solve this problem." Republicans have pointed out an OMB report that indicates stimulus funds won’t reach the economy until 2010; Reid said the report was based on partial data, and that the $825 billion or larger plan would quickly provide relief.

Why did he ask, he knew he didn't care what they thought.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Waste of money

The obama inauguration is going to cost $170,000,000. More than Bush 2005, Bush 2001, Clinton 1997, clinton 1993 and Bush senior, combined.

Spirit airlines did what?

No, seriously: they did *what*?

Posted by Moe Lane (Profile)

Monday, January 19th at 2:00PM EST

So, let’s review the bidding.

* You and your friend are flying to Myrtle Beach to do some golfing. Sounds like fun; have a good time!
* Oops! Your regular carrier cancels your flight! Well, that’s all right: they get you a flight on another airline. So, you fly off…
* …and your plane promptly loses both engines because of a flock of what were likely geese*. And, oh, look, there’s the Hudson River.
* Fortunately, your captain today is Chesley B. Sullenberger III, who proceeds to demonstrate that he’s just that good. So you manage to actually walk away from a forced water landing in the middle of winter. Don’t buy any more lottery tickets, by the way - and look both ways while crossing the street from now on. You’ve used up your quota of luck for a while.
* All of this means that you never actually make it to Myrtle Beach.
* And so, when you eventually get around to calling your original carrier to cancel your return trip, guess what happens?

That’s right! Spirit Airlines charges you a $90 cancellation fee! See also here.


You know, in some cultures the response to this would be to lock the customer service representative in a room with a gun and expect him to do the honorable thing. I’m not saying that this is the right solution - but it’s probably the one that Spirit Airlines might end up wishing that it could pursue…

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Election theft in MN.

Posted by Brian D (Profile)

Wednesday, January 7th at 12:36PM EST

The Wall Street Journal in an Op Ed published on Monday, Funny Business in Minnesota, made the case that funnyman Al Franken is stealing the disputed U.S. Senate election from Senator Norm Coleman in Minnesota. After the first count of ballots, Senator Norm Coleman retained a 215 vote lead, but the margin of victory triggered a mandatory recount of the election. After a recount, Franken emerged with a 225 vote lead. This controversy will be resolved by the Minnesota courts, yet Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has already decreed, “Norm Coleman will never ever serve [again] in the Senate.”

The WSJ points to the following examples of how Democratic Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and his four fellow Canvassing Board members have delivered inconsistent rulings and are ignoring glaring problems with the tallies leaving the certified result in doubt:

1. Franken picked up between “80 to 100 votes,” because duplicate ballots may have been double counted. There is evidence that “25 precincts now have more ballots than voters who signed in to vote.”
2. Franken gained 46 votes when the Canvassing Board decided to jettison the recount results from Hennepin County and substituted the election night results.
3. Franken gained 37 votes in Ramsey County where 177 more ballots were counted in the recount than were recorded on election night.
4. Franken gained 176 votes because of inconsistent consideration of contested absentee ballots.

Minnesota law does not allow a certification of the result until the court cases are resolved and the Senate should let this process work out in the Minnesota Courts. A vote of the United States Senate to seat Franken without a certificate of election would prejudice any change Coleman has to win this case on appeal in Minnesota. Of course, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has already decided the case and declared that “Norm Coleman will never ever serve [again] in the Senate,” Reid told Politico’s Manu Raju. “He lost the election. He can stall things, but he’ll never serve in the Senate.”

Another great of example of schools that don't have enough money.

Chicago public school bureaucrats skirted competitive bidding rules to buy 30 cappuccino/espresso machines for $67,000, with most of the machines going unused because the schools they were ordered for had not asked for them, according to a report by the CPS Office of Inspector General.

That was just one example of questionable CPS actions detailed in the inspector general's 2008 annual report. Others included high school staffers changing grades to pump up transcripts of student athletes and workers at a restricted-enrollment grade school falsifying addresses to get relatives admitted.

In the case of the cappuccino machines, central office administrators split the order among 21 vocational schools to avoid competitive bidding required for purchases over $10,000. As a result CPS paid about $12,000 too much, according to Inspector General James Sullivan. "We were able to find the same machines cheaper online," he said.

"We also look at it as a waste of money because the schools didn't even know they were getting the equipment, schools didn't know how to use the machines and weren't prepared to implement them into the curriculum," Sullivan said.

CPS spokesman Michael Vaughn said CPS plans to change its purchasing policy so that competitive bidding kicks in when a vendor accumulates $10,000 worth of orders, no matter how many schools are involved. One person was fired and disciplinary action is pending against three others, he said.

The grade-changing took place at an unidentified high school, where student athletes grades were boosted, then, after transcripts were issued for college admission offices, the grades were changed back. The culprits could not be identified because passwords allowing entry to the grading system were shared by a number of people, Sullivan said. A new record system has tighter security, he said.

At Carson Elementary, an overcrowded school in Gage Park where even neighborhood kids were restricted from enrolling, five lower- level employees got six relatives into the school by falsifying addresses. Sixty-nine students from outside the attendance area got in, but they didn't even bother to lie about their addresses. CPS had to spend as much as $252,000 to bus kids who live in the neighborhood to other schools, Sullivan said.

Vaughn said the employees involved have resigned, been fired or will be fired.