Friday, February 27, 2009
This budget does nothing to get under control what I call the fiscal tsunami which is this huge cost that is coming at our country and specifically at the next generation to support my generation as we retire. And it will basically overwhelm our children and our grand children... Basically, it will bankrupt our country... The spending in this budget expands. In my opinion there is excessive spending on the entitlement side which is where we should have savings rather than new spending. And, of course, there is a lot of new taxes here about 1.4 trillion dollars.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Of all the truly seismic shifts transforming daily life today — deeper than our financial fissures, wider even than our most obvious political and cultural divides — one of the most important is also among the least remarked. That is the chasm in attitude that separates almost all of us living in the West today from almost all of our ancestors, over two things without which human beings cannot exist: food and sex.
See the comparison of Betty and Jennifer: Betty thinks food is a matter of taste, whereas sex is governed by universal moral law; and Jennifer thinks exactly the reverse.
I know it's odd to say this. At first, I thought I was the only Muslim engaging in this folly, and I am reluctant to express it lest right-wing zealots try to use "Muslim" as a smear and cite my theory as proof of an Islamic traitor in the White House or some such nonsense. But, since Election Day, I have been part of more and more conversations with Muslims in which it was either offhandedly agreed that Obama is Muslim or enthusiastically blurted out. In commenting on our new president, "I have to support my fellow Muslim brother," would slip out of my mouth before I had a chance to think twice.
Of the few Muslims I polled who said that Obama is not Muslim, even they conceded that he had ties to Islam. These realists said that, although not an avowed and practicing Muslim, Obama's exposure to Islam at a young age (both through his father and his stint in Indonesia) has given him a Muslim sensibility. In my book, that makes you a Muslim--maybe not a card-carrying one, but part of the flock for sure.
In 1997, Mr. Freeman succeeded George McGovern to become the president of the Middle East Policy Council. The MEPC purports to be a nonpartisan, public-affairs group that "strives to ensure that a full range of U.S. interests and views are considered by policy makers" dealing with the Middle East. In fact, its original name until 1991 was the American-Arab Affairs Council, and it is an influential Washington mouthpiece for Saudi Arabia.
On the massacre at Tiananmen Square in 1989, Mr. Freeman unabashedly sides with the Chinese government, a remarkable position for an appointee of an administration that has pledged to advance the cause of human rights.
So here we are, in the middle of a full-blown economic crisis, and Congress is still planning to fund a planetarium in Peoria, potato cloning in Maine, and a “World Trade Center” in Montana. There’s even a $5.8 million earmark for the “Ted Kennedy Institute for the Senate,” which will presumably teach generations of future senators how to stick it to productive Americans, if there’s any of them left by then.
Congressional Democrat leaders defend earmarks.
Obey staunchly defended the estimated 9,000 earmarks in the omnibus. Without earmarks, he said, the“White House and anonymous bureaucrats would make every single spending decision.”
By trying to eliminate earmarks, “you’re assuming the only people with brains are the administration people [and] the legislators have no brains,” Inouye added.
It looks like Obama is going to have some challenges with his fellow Democrats in Congress.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Monday, February 23, 2009
Friday, February 20, 2009
Only a few weeks before the 1964 election, a powerful presidential assistant, Walter Jenkins, was arrested in a men's room in Washington. Evidently, the president was concerned that Barry Goldwater would use that against him in the election. Another assistant, Bill Moyers, was tasked to direct Hoover to do an investigation of Goldwater's staff to find similar evidence of homosexual activity. Mr. Moyers' memo to the FBI was in one of the files.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
A growing list of problems:
The political mess for the Democratic Party, however, isn't Burris' conduct alone; it's the pattern that has developed so quickly over the past few months.
_The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., is the subject of a House ethics investigation. It's partly focused on his fundraising practices for a college center in his name, his ownership financing of a resort property in the Dominican Republic and his financial disclosure reports.
_Federal agents raided two Pennsylvania defense contractors that were provided millions of dollars in federal funding by Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., chairman of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee.
_Blagojevich was arrested Dec. 9 on federal charges, including allegations he schemed to sell the Senate seat to the highest bidder.
_Tom Daschle, the former Senate majority leader from South Dakota, abandoned his bid to become health and human services secretary and the administration's point man on reforming health care; and Nancy Killefer stepped down from a newly created position charged with eliminating inefficient government programs.
Both Daschle and Killefer had tax problems, and Daschle also faced potential conflicts of interest related to working with health care interests.
_Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was confirmed after revealing he had tax troubles.
_Obama's initial choice for commerce secretary, Bill Richardson, stepped aside due to a grand jury investigation into a state contract awarded to his political donors.
_While the Senate voted overwhelmingly to confirm William Lynn as deputy defense secretary, Obama had to waive his ethics regulations to place the former defense lobbyist in charge of day-to-day operations at the Pentagon.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Friday, February 13, 2009
The Houses of Parliament is where Winston Churchill stood firm, and warned – all throughout the 1930’s – for the dangers looming. Most of the time he stood alone.
In 1982 President Reagan came to the House of Commons, where he did a speech very few people liked. Reagan called upon the West to reject communism and defend freedom. He introduced a phrase: ‘evil empire’. Reagan’s speech stands out as a clarion call to preserve our liberties. I quote: If history teaches anything, it teaches self-delusion in the face of unpleasant facts is folly.
What Reagan meant is that you cannot run away from history, you cannot escape the dangers of ideologies that are out to destroy you. Denial is no option.
Communism was indeed left on the ash heap of history, just as Reagan predicted in his speech in the House of Commons. He lived to see the Berlin Wall coming down, just as Churchill witnessed the implosion of national-socialism.
Today, I come before you to warn of another great threat. It is called Islam. It poses as a religion, but its goals are very worldly: world domination, holy war, sharia law, the end of the separation of church and state, the end of democracy. It is not a religion, it is a political ideology. It demands you respect, but has no respect for you.
"I think (doing) nothing would have been better," said Ed Yardeni, an investment analyst who's usually an optimist, in an interview with McClatchy. He argued that the plan fails to provide the right incentives to spur spending.
"It's unfocused. That is my problem. It is a lot of money for a lot of nickel-and- dime programs. I would have rather had a lot of money for (promoting purchase of) housing and autos . . . . Most of this plan is really, I think, aimed at stabilizing the situation and helping people get through the recession, rather than getting us out of the recession. They are actually providing less short-term stimulus by cutting back, from what I understand, some of the tax credits."
The Washington Post also has some problems with pork in the stimulus.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Congressional Democrats swept into power in 2006 after a steady drumbeat of attacks against Republicans for allowing a systemic “culture of corruption” to define their majority.
It wasn’t a new charge, but it took a perfect storm of GOP scandals that year — lobbyist Jack Abramoff, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas, former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham of California, and Florida Rep. Mark Foley of Florida — for it to register with the electorate.
Now, with solid Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate, Republicans are echoing the same attacks of corruption among Democrats—and they may have a point.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Despite President Obama’s repeated pledge to usher in a new, more ethical climate in Washington, House Democrats’ ethical troubles have begun to resemble those the GOP had when it occupied the majority just three years ago.
Friday, February 06, 2009
But this year's Davos was positively scary. Its overwhelming message was that the world is changing in ways more unnerving than most of us have grasped.
The baby boom generation grew up during a period of unprecedented prosperity, with the expectation that life would be even better for their kids. The magnitude of the current economic crisis has undermined those expectations. "We are still in denial about how serious this is," the noted British historian Niall Ferguson said at the forum.
I believe he is right. At Davos, there was a strong sense of the passing of the American era. The widespread anger at the United States' responsibility for the crisis - the reckless mortgage lending, the complex financial instruments that few understood, the lack of regulation - was tempered by one big factor: the hope that President Obama can make a difference.
Al Gore was the most optimistic guy there! And he thinks climate change is destroying the world.
Now, as the Obama administration embarks on a similar path, proposing to spend more than $820 billion to stimulate the sagging American economy, many economists are taking a fresh look at Japan’s troubled experience. While Japan is not exactly comparable to the United States — especially as a late developer with a history of heavy state investment in infrastructure — economists say it can still offer important lessons about the pitfalls, and chances for success, of a stimulus package in an advanced economy.In a nutshell, Japan’s experience suggests that infrastructure spending, while a blunt instrument, can help revive a developed economy, say many economists and one very important American official: Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, who was a young financial attaché in Japan during the collapse and subsequent doldrums. One lesson Mr. Geithner has said he took away from that experience is that spending must come in quick, massive doses, and be continued until recovery takes firm root.
McCain’s advisers were right about Palin: she was a mirror image of John McCain. She was not a visionary politician, or a programmatic politician, but an attitude politician with an appealing biography. In the end, she was no more able than McCain to offer a coherent rationale for his presidency.
That was not her job, though; it was his. The striking thing about the last two months of the 2008 presidential race was not Palin’s inability to turn things around decisively for McCain, but her success in giving McCain a lead for even a short while. She seized the imagination of the public in a way that scared the Left, and rightly so. It is not Palin’s fault that McCain was incapable of harnessing the phenomenal response to his running mate to his own advantage.
Thursday, February 05, 2009
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
$2 billion earmark to re-start FutureGen, a near-zero emissions coal power plant in Illinois that the Dept. of Energy defunded last year because the project was inefficient • A $246 million tax break for Hollywood movie producers to buy motion picture film • $650 million for the digital television (DTV) converter box coupon program
• $88 million for the Coast Guard to design a new polar icebreaker (arctic ship)
• $448 million for constructing the Dept. of Homeland Security headquarters
• $248 million for furniture at the new Dept. of Homeland Security headquarters
• $600 million to buy hybrid vehicles for federal employees
• $400 million for the CDC to screen and prevent STD’s
• $1.4 billion for a rural waste disposal programs
• $150 million for Smithsonian museum facilities
• $1 billion for the 2010 Census, which has a projected cost overrun of $3 billion
• $75 million for “smoking cessation activities”
• $200 million for public computer centers at community colleges
• $75 million for salaries of employees at the FBI
• $25 million for tribal alcohol and substance abuse reduction
• $10 million to inspect canals in urban areas
• $6 billion to turn federal buildings into “green” buildings
• $500 million for state and local fire stations
• $650 million for wildland fire management on Forest Service lands
• $150 million for Smithsonian museum facilities
• $1.2 billion for “youth activities,” including youth summer job programs
• $88 million for renovating the headquarters of the Public Health Service
• $412 million for CDC buildings and property
• $500 million for building and repairing NIH facilities in Bethesda, MD
• $160 million for “paid volunteers” at the Corporation for National and Community Service
• $5.5 million for “energy efficiency initiatives” at the VA “National Cemetery Administration”
• $850 million for Amtrak
• $100 million for reducing the hazard of lead-based paint
• $75M to construct a new “security training” facility for State Dept Security officers when they can be trained at existing facilities of other agencies.
• $110 million to the Farm Service Agency to upgrade computer systems
• $200 million in funding for the lease of alternative energy vehicles for use on military installations.
• State Medicaid Bailout: $87.7 billion Through 3 different mechanisms, the bill would provide additional federal funds to state Medicaid programs over the next 3 years. This is nearly $70 billion more than the governors asked President Obama for in December, and should be a loan to be repaid by the states.
Another summary at National Review.
The main story of the Obama Presidency so far isn't the contradiction between Mr. Obama's campaign promises and the messier reality of his nominees. That was always inevitable. The real story is the massive transfer of power and wealth now underway from the private sector to the political class.
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
Critics argued that Bush employed rendition to "outsource" torture or to secret terrorism suspects. They also asserted that diplomatic channels could not reliably protect transferees from torture because it occurs secretly. Finally, many activists argued that even without torture, rendition violated norms of procedural fairness because the rendered individuals do not have the ability to appear before a court to contest the transfer and because they do not have access to legal counsel.
After an L.A. Times article reported that Obama will continue the renditions policy, many liberals have come forward to defend the new boss. The typical liberal defense argues that rendition is not wrong in and of itself, but that removal of persons for the purpose of torturing or indefinitely detaining them violates human rights norms. Because Obama has banned the use of torture (which pre-existing statutes and treaties already prohibited) and ordered the CIA to close its longterm detention centers, many liberals dismiss the L.A. Times article as misleading.
Growing list of 'honest mistakes'
Divert campaign money multiple times to pay personal expenses? Sen. Thomas Gaffey, D-Meriden, did it, but has not been censured by his colleagues, which was the punishment Congress imposed in 1967 after Sen. Christopher Dodd's father got caught doing it. Sorry, honest mistakes, Sen. Gaffey said.
Tax evasion? It wasn't enough to derail Timothy Geithner's appointment to run the Treasury Department, including the Internal Revenue Service. Didn't pay $43,000 in federal taxes? Sorry, honest mistake, he said.
It wasn't enough to end Al Franken's run for the U.S. Senate in Minnesota. Didn't pay $70,000 in taxes and penalties in 17 states and $25,000 in workers' compensation insurance to New York? Sorry, honest mistakes, he said.
It wasn't enough to cost Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., chairmanship of the House tax-writing committee, let alone his seat in Congress. Didn't declare tens of thousands in rental income from his Caribbean villa, tens of thousands in profit from the sale of his Florida condo and more than $10,000 in fees he saved by parking his vintage Mercedes in a congressional garage? Sorry, honest mistakes, said the man who helped write the tax code.
Since his colleagues didn't get too worked up over those crimes, they are unlikely to care that he and five other Democratic representatives took a three-night Caribbean junket paid for in part by Citigroup after they voted for the $700 billion TARP, which gave Citigroup $45 billion. More honest mistakes?
And tax evasion apparently won't keep former Sen. Thomas Daschle from becoming secretary of Health and Human Services. Mr. Daschle failed to report income and overstated charitable contribution, but paid $140,000 in back taxes and interest (no penalties) after he learned he was on the short list for an Obama Cabinet job. Sorry, honest mistake, he said.
After 26 years in Congress, including 10 as the top tax-and-spend Democratic senator, Mr. Daschle says he was unaware he had to pay taxes on consulting fees and the value of the free car and driver provided to him by a Democratic businessman. Try that line with your IRS auditor and see how far it gets you.
The saddest part? These, along with Sen. Dodd's sweetheart mortgages, are merely the most blatant violations of the public trust. Makes you wonder how many other politicians are making honest mistakes.