Thursday, January 31, 2013


I wonder if anything will be done.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius violated federal law by campaigning for President Obama on the taxpayers’ dime, but now that initial violation has the Democratic National Committee and an HHS aide in the spotlight for related alleged infractions.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


From a Meet the Press interview.  Actually it is "far worse."


From the Washington Post

Jonathan Gruber was one of the Obama administration’s key advisers during the health-care reform debate. As the economist who conceived the ideas at the heart of the Massachusetts health-care law, he is arguably the intellectual godfather of the Affordable Care Act.

All of which would make him a natural fit for the Independent Payment Advisory Board, the new, 15-member panel that has the authority to reduce Medicare doctors’ reimbursements and pilot new ways to deliver high quality care for less. There’s just one tiny problem: Gruber has absolutely no interest in serving on the panel. “No way,” he says without pause. “Maybe if it was a part-time gig. But full time? I can’t see it.”

It’s not just Gruber. Obama’s former health policy advisers worry that other top health economists, those in hot demand in academia and in the industry, won’t be interested in a federal job where the compensation is low, the political controversy high and the ultimate payoff unclear.


Hollywood should not get special tax breaks.  They should be treated like other fat-cats.  Just because you are Democrat support group does not mean that it deserves special tax treatment.

It's no coincidence that much of the Democrats' base doesn't have to worry about taxes much, either because they work for nonprofits and public entities that don't pay taxes, or because they live off government benefits, or because they work in industries -- like the motion picture and recording industries -- with a long history of shady accounting and favorable tax treatment. Republicans, if they're smart, can nonetheless teach them that tax increases do, in fact, hurt.


Senator Max Baucus (D, Montana) is taking care of his friends and Obama allowed this cronyism into fiscal cliff legislation.

“Baucus’ Finance Committee passed a bill in August extending 50 expiring deductions and credits for favored industries. At Obama’s insistence, the Baucus bill was cut and pasted word for word into the cliff legislation…

Pick any one of the special-interest tax breaks extended by the cliff deal, and you’re likely to find a former Baucus aide who lobbied for it on behalf of a large corporation or industry organization.”


Should the US continue to spend billions helping an Egypt governed by the Muslim Brotherhood or not?  Some scholars still have a romantic view of the Arab Spring of 2 years ago when others saw that a great new society would never come out of those events.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


A Russian family hid for 40 years in the forests.  An amazing story.

Things had only got worse for the Lykov family when the atheist Bolsheviks took power. Under the Soviets, isolated Old Believer communities that had fled to Siberia to escape persecution began to retreat ever further from civilization. During the purges of the 1930s, with Christianity itself under assault, a Communist patrol had shot Lykov's brother on the outskirts of their village while Lykov knelt working beside him. He had responded by scooping up his family and bolting into forest.


I am not fan of Sarah Palin but when a facebook page advocating the assassination of her gets over 3,000 likes, I think there is something seriously wrong with the left.


The media seems focused on the great news of 7.8% unemployment, but when you see graphs like this one, you have to wonder how well off workers really are.


According to the WSJ illegal immigration from Mexico is drying up.  Everything from the struggling Obama economy which has dried up jobs to the improving economy in Mexico is reversing the flow of Mexican workers.  There may be more opportunity in Mexico than in the US.

Between 2005 and 2010, 1.4 million Mexicans migrated north of the border, fewer than half as many as in the previous five-year period. Meanwhile, the number of Mexicans and their children who returned to Mexico between 2005 and 2010 rose to 1.4 million, about double the number who went home between 1995 and 2000, the report said. These trends suggest the return flow to Mexico surpassed arrivals to the U.S. in 2010 and 2011, the report adds.


Jonah Goldberg feels her testimony was full of "untruths."

But just to be clear, Clinton lied and is still lying. When asked about the claim that the attack was sparked by a protest over a video, she responded, "I did not say ... that it was about the video for Libya."

That's simply untrue. When she stood by the caskets of the four Americans killed in Libya, she directly blamed an "awful Internet video that we had nothing to do with." Afterward, she reportedly told the father of Tyrone Woods, the former Navy SEAL who was killed in the attack, "We will make sure the person who made that film is arrested and prosecuted." Why tell the man that if the video had nothing to do with it?


Column at USA Today on having federal government officials pay a surtax on their incomes after leaving the federal government. 

. . .we see the "revolving door" in almost all industries and sectors of government, and it's a corrupting influence on both government and industry. So, for example, ObamaCare architect Liz Fowler left government for a high-paying Big Pharma job, while top Obama Administration officials are looking for high-paying K street lobbying jobs. How high-paying? "Salaries for former Obama cabinet officials could start at $1 million while former assistants and special assistants can make more than $500,000 and $300,000, respectively." Likewise, in 2011, a few months after approving a controversial merger involving Comcast, Republican-appointed Federal Communications Commission member Meredith Attwell Baker left to take a high-paying job at . . . Comcast.

In short, I propose putting a 50% surtax -- or maybe it should be 75%, I'm open to discussion -- on the post-government earnings of government officials. So if you work at a cabinet level job and make $196,700 a year, and you leave for a job that pays a million a year, you'll pay 50% of the difference -- just over $400,000 -- to the Treasury right off the top. So as not to be greedy, we'll limit it to your first five years of post-government earnings; after that, you'll just pay whatever standard income tax applies.

Monday, January 28, 2013


Pretty selfish justification of aborting one of his children.

Also media ignored massive pro-life march in Washington, D.C.

And the Chicago Tribune wonders where all the children are without mentioning abortion. No one seems to want to discuss the demographic collapse that America will see in the coming decades.


Bob Woodward analyzes why Obama picked Chuck Hagel to head up the Department of Defense.

The two share similar views and philosophies as the Obama administration attempts to define the role of the United States in the transition to a post-superpower world.

This worldview is part hawk and part dove. It amounts, in part, to a challenge to the wars of President George W. Bush. It holds that the Afghanistan war has been mismanaged and the Iraq war unnecessary. War is an option, but very much a last resort.

So, this thinking goes, the U.S. role in the world must be carefully scaled back — this is not a matter of choice but of facing reality; the military needs to be treated with deep skepticism; lots of strategic military and foreign policy thinking is out of date; and quagmires like Afghanistan should be avoided.


From the Times of India

A major Obama achievement is supposedly Gaddafi’s overthrow in Libya. Yet a line of direct causality runs from Gaddafi’s overthrow to the rise of Al Qaida in Mali and attack in Algeria. 

Obama triumphalism over Gaddafi’s overthrow looks comic after the disastrous consequences in Mali and Algeria. The US media hail Hilary Clinton as a great Secretarty of State. Why? For exiting from Iraq leaving behind a Shia sectarian government, not an inclusive democracy? For exiting from Afghanistan after failing in all strategic goals? For promising to close down Guantanamo and not doing so?  

The author goes on to call the U.S. a "fiscally-bankrupted" nation.


From the National Review.  Estonia is booming and Britain is not and there are graphs to show how each tackled their economic problems.  Unfortunately the U.S. seems to be following the path of Britain.

The British government’s austerity policy has entailed increasing taxes from the pre-austerity level, while continuing to increase government spending, too. Meanwhile, Estonia has tried to close its budget gap by defining austerity as cutting government largesse. U.K. politicians seem to believe that austerity applies only to the private sector, while their Estonian counterparts believe it applies to both firms and state


From the Telegraph.  (And The New Republic is a liberal magazine.)

The New Republic piece is a compelling read, and is aptly headlined: “Barack Obama is not pleased.” It paints a portrait of a president, in his own words, who appears deeply partisan, sneeringly dismissive of his political opponents, bitterly angry at his adversaries for standing in the way on issues such as the budget, and completely lacking in any humility. If this is Obama at the start of his second term, one can only imagine what he’ll be like three years from now.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


Surely in a 6 minute interview ABC News should have asked Senator Menendez (D, NJ) about his association with Dominican prostitutes, even if only to be given the chance to deny it.  If he were a Republican. . .

UPDATE (1/30/2013) FBI raids the office of a dentist friend linked to Senator Menendez. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013


I think we will see more of this--the left criticizes big banking and then cuts deals with them.  If a conservative group had signed such an agreement, the left would be raising the roof.


Conservatives are more willing to listen to liberal views.  Liberals don't want to listen to conservative views.

Bill O'Reilly tonight highlighted findings that liberals on the internet tend to be less tolerant of opposing views than conservatives. Democrat Kirsten Powers agreed with this sentiment, relaying from her own personal experiences engaging with liberals and conservatives, surmising that the former tend to be less tolerant because they are used to controlling the media.


From Politico.  The plan focuses on using blacks and Latinos to build the new Democrat movement in Texas.


Turks chasing German soldiers because they thought they were Americans. . .not a good sign for Obama's foreign policy of friendship with the Islamic world.


It is a long paper, but the author gives perspective on why we are in the economic mess we are.  A big part of the problem is that Americans want "things" but don't want to pay for anything.  A shorter analysis of the paper can be found here, "Why is America Going Broke."


The $180 billion spent on the program has had no impact.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


I think we will see more of this kind of waste and ineffectiveness. . .and one might also begin to look at what has been spent in Iraq that has been wasted.

More than half of Afghanistan’s population is under twenty-five, which shouldn’t be surprising since the average life span there is forty-nine. But the United States Agency for International Development looked at this group and decided it needed help because, it said, these young people are “disenfranchised, unskilled, uneducated, neglected—and most susceptible to joining the insurgency.” So the agency chartered a three-year, $50 million program intended to train members of this generation to become productive members of Afghan society. Two years into it, the agency’s inspector general had a look at the work thus far and found “little evidence that the project has made progress toward” its goals.

After all the money spent, still today, the CIA says, Afghanistan has the world’s highest infant mortality rate; one hundred and twenty-two of every thousand children die before they reach age one. UNICEF reports that fifty-nine percent of the nation’s children grow up “stunted” for lack of nutrition during the early years of life. That’s the world’s second-worst rate, behind Ethiopia. And even after more than a decade of intensive development aid from not only the United States but dozens of other nations, Afghanistan still ranks near the bottom on per capita income, literacy, life expectancy, electricity usage, Internet penetration, and on the World Bank’s broad Human Development Index.

USAID tries to defend its decisions and efforts.  More criticism of USAID. The politics of USAID.  USAID may be a good idea that has been subverted by bureaucratic and political agendas as well as business cronyism.


I always had a lot of respect for Senator Lieberman.  He might not be right on every issue, but I think he brought a certain personal integrity to issues that many senators never did or could. 


In the election Romney was criticized by the media for a number of statements, but more and more it looks like Romney was right.  Four examples are given.

Another discussion on Romney's perception of the future.


This is a bit frightening to have an appointee in the Obama administration who believes that the government can limit free speech.  Evidently it is okay in some cases for the government to censor information, but who in the government decides what should be censored? There are matters of national security that need to be classified, but how will he deal with political dissent?   And he also denies the concept of universal human rights.  In some subjective way he will determine that some countries will get a pass on human rights while others must be held accountable--sounds like he or someone will be playing "god" as they judge the actions of people or countries.

Friday, January 18, 2013


I saw the first picture on facebook.  It is true that Hitler, Stalin, and Mao loved photo-ops with children, but I think it is unfair just to see Obama doing this.  So I have added some other pictures.


Egypt is unable to survive without massive aid from the US and other countries.  So much for the Arab Spring and the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The cumulative effect is that Egypt is fast becoming a Middle Eastern version of Haiti: a country without meaningful tourism, minimal foreign investment, massive capital flight, and eventually an exodus of its best and brightest. That, of course, will inevitably become a crisis for Egypt’s neighbors, who will be forced to shoulder the political and security burdens of its implosion. But most of all, it is a tragedy for Egyptians themselves, who, having once dreamed of greater political liberalism after Mubarak, have woken up to an economic nightmare presided over by the Muslim Brotherhood.


From PoliticoBut almost as soon as the echo of Obama’s inaugural address fades and he becomes a lame duck, Democrats are going to have to face a central and unresolved question about their political identity: Will they become a center-left, Democratic Leadership Council-by-a-different-name party or return to a populist, left-leaning approach that mirrors their electoral coalition?

Democrats must decide whether they want to be principally known as the party of Rahm Emanuel or the party of Elizabeth Warren.


20,261 Islamic radical terrorist attacks since 9/11.  But the question is raised about how much this is caused by the West through the oil money and foreign aid that flows into many of these countries and which then perpetuate failed states.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Michael Barone argues that Obama is really more interested in "destroying" the Republican Party than governing.  Chicago politics in the White House.

To judge from his surly demeanor and defiant words at his press conference Monday, Barack Obama begins his second term with a strategy to defeat and humiliate Republicans rather than a strategy to govern.

His point-blank refusal to negotiate over the debt ceiling was clearly designed to make the House Republicans look bad.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


The family converted to Christianity which is not permitted.

. . . the constitution limits the practice of Christianity because “religious freedom has to be understood within the boundaries of Sharia.” He added that the constitution prescribes that the highest Sunni authority should be referred to as an interpreter of the religion clause contained in the constitution.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


It is a moot issue now, but Romney was criticized by Polifact for one of his campaign ads about Chrysler moving jobs to China.  It was called the "lie of the year" by Polifact, but it was Polifact which was twisting the truth.

And Romney was also "derided" for some comments on Mali.  Events occurring now seem to have proven him to be more prescient than the media.


Kathyrn Jean Lopez. quotes from Abby Schacter in the Wall Street Journal
Today in America, 26% of children are raised by a single parent, including 72% in the black community. Among poor families with children, 71% are headed by single parents, mostly single mothers.
The economics are plainly better for married couples with children—their joint income averages $80,000, while single mothers average $24,000. And getting out of poverty from a single-parent situation isn’t easy. A 2010 Pew report found that “among children who start in the bottom third of the income distribution, only 26% with divorced parents move up to the middle or top third as adults, compared to 50% of children with continuously married parents.”
Update (1/18/2013).  From Commentary.

What we’re seeing is a rapid hollowing out of marriage in Middle America–with 44 percent of the children of moderately-educated mothers born outside of marriage. “We’re at a tipping point with Middle America,” W. Bradford Wilcox, a leading scholar on marriage, told National Review Online’s Kathryn Jean Lopez, “insofar as Middle Americans are on the verge of losing their connection to marriage.” 


Long-term unemployed are at the highest level since World War II.  Read the whole report.  The longer  you are unemployed, the harder it is to get a job.  I haven't heard these statistics reported on in the mainstream media since the Bush years.

Monday, January 14, 2013


From World Affairs Journal.  People aren't taking it seriously.

Fact 1. Iran really is an eliminationist anti-Semitic regime that routinely threatens to wipe Israel off the map.
Fact 2. This regime is close to having a nuclear capability.  
Fact 3. Iran is absolutely not just Israel’s problem.
Fact 4. If Iran gets the bomb, the likely result would be a Mideast arms race as other Arab states would feel pressured to obtain weapons to deter Tehran.
Fact 5. It is widely argued that an Iranian bomb would throw a protective shield over its regional terrorist proxies.
Fact 6. This one lies in the future. An Iranian regime able to combine a nuclear capability with an inter-continental ballistic missile threat would be a direct threat to Western Europe and North America. 


I wouldn't have expected this kind of protest in France which generally has had a much more liberal attitude toward sexual values than America.  Hundreds of thousands of French citizens are protesting a gay marriage proposal--this is not something seen in America which presumably has a more "conservative" Christian culture.

About 340,000 people joined today’s marches, according to police estimates, while organizers indicated a turnout of more than 800,000. Protesters dancing to hip-hop music carried pink flags with white images of the traditional family: man, woman and two children.

But a gay marriage bill has stalled in the Illinois State Senate even with some business leaders and corporations such as Google and Orbitz favoring it.  Religious groups, including Muslims, have lobbied against it. 

From the Witherspoon Institute. 

Since the late 1990s, France has offered same-sex couples “PACs” or civil unions, so the issue of lovers living together is not the powder keg. Though still mostly (if nominally) Catholic, the French are by and large willing to stay out of the bedrooms of people who love one another, irrespective of sex.

Such live-and-let-live philosophy does not apply when the citizens see a threat to the nation’s children. Here is where Americans must follow their playbook closely, because it is probably the surest way to break the stalemate in the United States about marriage and the Fourteenth Amendment.

And an evangelical pastor has to pull-out of the inaugural prayer because of a sermon he gave in the 1990s on homosexuality as a sin.

Friday, January 11, 2013


The demonstrators want the Spanish occupation of Spain ended and for the area to return to the caliphate and known as Andalusia.

Demonstrator: We are trying to remind people of the history of Andalusia. It was toppled over 500 years ago by the Spaniards, who are occupying it to this day. We want to remind people that no matter how long the Spanish occupation of Andalusia continues, the day will come, Allah willing, when we liberate it and Islam will return.

But what about Spain before its conquest by Muslims?--maybe a Visigothic kingdom should be restored.


A Sri Lankan woman guest-worker was beheaded in Saudi Arabia.  There seem to be questions about the legal process leading to the beheading.

Rizana Nafeek arrived in Saudi Arabia in 2005 and spent her first few weeks in Saudi Arabia working as a housemaid to earn money to support her relatives back home who had been displaced by the massive tsunami in the Indian Ocean the year before.

She then spent the next seven years in Saudi jails as she was accused, charged, convicted and sentenced to death in the killing of her employers' 4-month-old son. Authorities executed her Wednesday in Dawadmi, about 200 kilometers west of the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

Thursday, January 10, 2013



From the Atlantic.  The Obama administration is ignoring the use of torture and other injustices in Bahrain.

Since Bahrainis first took to the streets on February 14, 2011 to demand revision of the constitution and a transition to democracy, the United States has faced an acute and painful instance of the classic tension between security interests and moral concerns.

Geopolitics trumps human rights.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013


An analysis of Obama foreign policy decision-making from Henry Nau, "Obama Puts the World at Risk."

The major differences in foreign policy between Obama and the loyal opposition boil down to one word—leadership. Leadership offers vision, connects means and ends, and rises above politics. Obama has demonstrated no capacity to do any of those things, either in Congress or in the world community. The optimistic view is that he will do so now because he no longer faces reelection. But that seems unlikely. If you have won two elections as a state senator, one as a U.S. senator, and two as president, and you still have no significant accomplishments to show for it, it’s doubtful that your leadership skills will suddenly emerge in what is presumably your last four years in office.


I think Michael Totten is the greatest reporter of my life time with regard to getting the facts and reporting what is really happening in the Middle East.  He just doesn't fly for a few days stay to get the "facts" and he doesn't hang around bars talking to other westerners and the "elites" of a country.

Totten's essay is responding to a comment made by Robert D. Kaplan in the WSJ.
Western elites believe that universal values are trumping the forces of reaction. They wax eloquent about the triumph of human rights, women's liberation, social media, financial markets, international and regional organizations and all the other forces that are breaking down boundaries separating humanity.
Tragically, they are really observing a self-referential world of global cosmopolitans like themselves. In country after country, the Westerners identify like-minded, educated elites and mistake them for the population at large. They prefer not to see the regressive and exclusivist forces—such as nationalism and sectarianism—that are mightily reshaping the future.


From Mona Charen at the National Review.  It was clear that the press reacted differently to the problems of FEMA's response in the two different disasters. FEMA's response was slower in several instances when it responded to the Sandy disaster, but this never became a major issue on the nightly news. It seemed as if they didn't learn from Katrina.

Six days after Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast, President Bush’s presidency had been declared a failure and a disgrace. It was all FEMA’s fault, we were given to understand, and, by extension, Bush’s fault. It wasn’t the incompetence of local and state officials, or the levee collapse (a failure, by the way, that impartial observers lay at the feet of another government agency going back years, the Army Corps of Engineers). No, within a few days of the storm’s impact, Bush was an enemy of the people.

Six days after Sandy hit the East Coast, most of the press had utterly lost interest in the human toll, though thousands of people went without food, water, gasoline, or electricity for the better part of two weeks. The Washington Times reported two weeks after Sandy, “Bodies are still being recovered in Staten Island. Chaos reigns in the streets of the outer boroughs. Residents have taken up arms — baseball bats, machetes, shotguns — as crime and looting soar.


An article by Victor Davis Hanson on the left as a special interest group that is living at a much higher standard than the rest of us.  They are using government (and the votes of the uninformed) to enjoy the good life.  They are skipping taxes and using government perks to feather their own nests.  It is ironic that the likes of Warren Buffett and Al Gore took advantage of 2012 tax laws to complete deals so they could avoid taxes that would hit them in 2013. 

Former Obama OMB director and liberal Peter Orszag went on to a multimillion-dollar gig at Citigroup. He now writes warnings about the uncontrollable debt that he helped accumulate; would that he would sermonize about the incestuous revolving door that Obama pledged to end. Did he learn anything from Franklin Raines, James Johnson, and Jamie Gorelick, who occupied top spots at Fannie Mae in the Carter and Clinton administrations and who all walked away with millions while the federal mortgage-insurance corporation went insolvent? The problem is not just that none of the three did anything to ensure Fannie Mae’s viability, or at least to justify the millions that they took out, but also that none of them had a reputable record of banking expertise to justify their being hired in the first place.

Here is a case of a media figure, David Gregory, getting a break that other people might not get.

What’s important is that the connection reinforces public perception, as Emily Miller put it, of one law for “the rich and powerful and one for everyone else.”


What is interesting in the anti-gun controversy of recent weeks is how often the left is using eliminationist rhetoric to "destroy" their opponents with the same kind of violence they are supposedly fighting against. 

Well, this is interesting on CNN.  Anti-gun advocates want to “pop” an NRA advocate with a semi-automatic

Here is a quote from the leader of the Chicago teacher’sunion—sounds like shades of the Bolshevik revolution:  “We are in a moment where the wealth disparity in this country is very reminiscent of the robber baron ages,” she said. “The labor leaders of that time, though, were ready to kill. They were. They were just ready. They were like, ‘off with their heads.’ They were seriously talking about that.”


Fact-checkers are used to presumably make sure candidates are telling the truth, but what if fact-checkers are really not looking at the issues through unbiased eyes? This article examines the accuracy of what the fact-checkers were reporting.

The article concludes: 

At the end of November, Politico published an article about how progressive journalists, now that Obama was safely elected, were beginning to consider criticizing the president a bit more. “He was the champion of our side, he vanquished the foe,” New Yorker political columnist Hendrik Hertzberg said. “[But] now liberals don’t have to worry about hurting his chances for re-election, so they can be tougher in urging him to do what he should be doing.”

It was a remarkable admission of what many have long suspected: Portions of the press are in the tank for Democrats. Now that’s a fact worth checking.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013


A congressman has introduced a bill to repeal the 22nd Amendment limiting a president to two terms.  I don't see any co-sponsors at this point.  Even if it is an attempt to allow Obama to run again in 2016, it normally takes more than 3 years to get an amendment passed through enough state legislatures (and with no co-sponsors I am not sure it will even get out of the House).


From the Investigative Project on Terrorism. The article has a link to the Egyptian source.  

An Egyptian magazine claims that six American Islamist activists who work with the Obama administration are Muslim Brotherhood operatives who enjoy strong influence over U.S. policy.

The Dec. 22 story published in Egypt's Rose El-Youssef magazine (read an IPT translation here) suggests the six turned the White House "from a position hostile to Islamic groups and organizations in the world to the largest and most important supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood."

Sunday, January 06, 2013


Recent studies do not print a pretty picture of the values of today's college students--9 million students have taken the survey over the last 47 years so it must reflect a "reasonably" accurate assessment.  Students see themselves as above average, but this isn't reflected in test scores and writing ability compared to past decades.

However, one in four recent students responded to a questionnaire called the Narcissistic Personality Inventory with results pointing towards narcissistic self-assessments.  Narcissism is defined as excessive self-love or vanity; self-admiration, or being self-centered.

Twenge said that's a trait that is often negative and destructive, and blames its boom on several trends - including parenting styles, celebrity culture, social media, and easy credit - for allowing people to seem more successful than they really are.

Saturday, January 05, 2013


From the Economist.  Both European and American leaders have failed.
  1. All politicians are doing is to "patch" things up and not really move toward solutions.
  2. Narrow interest groups are preventing solutions.
  3. Politicians have failed to be honest with voters.
The saddest thing about this week’s deal is how unaware Messrs Obama and Boehner seem to be of the wider damage their petty partisanship is doing to their country. National security is not just about the number of tanks or rockets you have. As it has failed to deal with the single currency, Europe’s standing has crumbled in the world. Why should developing countries trust American leadership, when it seems incapable of solving anything at home? And while the West’s foremost democracy stays paralysed, China is making decisions and forging ahead.


From the Wall Street Journal.  The debate on tax rates is above most people's level of financial expertise. 

The revival of two dormant provisions of the tax code means the much ballyhooed $450,000 income threshold for the highest tax rate is largely fake.

After a discussion of the statistics, here is the writer's conclusion:

Mr. Obama purports this is merely "a return to the Clinton-era tax rates." But capital-gains rates will be about three to five percentage points higher than in the 1990s, the Medicare tax is higher, and his stealth tax will raise personal rates higher than advertised. Forget the golden Clinton memories. Mr. Obama is pushing the U.S. back to the Carter era.


Eric Posner calls on the President to act in the debt crisis without involving Congress and tries to build a legal case for Obama to do this. 

So in the face of contradictory orders from Congress, President Obama should do what he believes is in the public interest. And if the House refuses to raise the debt ceiling, this surely means some combination of cutting spending, borrowing beyond the debt limit, and perhaps even searching out new sources of revenue.

Will this move us to an imperial presidency and the end of the balance of powers established by the Constitution?

Our Obsolete Constitution!  From the Hoover Institution

Our modern constitutional system seems to be weighed down by non-stop political crises, from entitlement reform to labor relations. With each new crisis comes a short-term fix. Over time, these fixes will only exacerbate the nation’s long-term problem of living beyond its means—for now, short-term interest rates remain low enough to fund the nation’s tidal wave of debt. 

 The Hoover essay is responding to liberal Louis Michael Seidman in the NYT who writes "Let's Give Up on the Constitution."  

Seidman writes:  This is not to say that we should disobey all constitutional commands. Freedom of speech and religion, equal protection of the laws and protections against governmental deprivation of life, liberty or property are important, whether or not they are in the Constitution. We should continue to follow those requirements out of respect, not obligation.  But who will determine what parts we follow and what ones we don't?--a benevolent dictator?


I assume that most people acquainted with the work of Oswald Spengler are historians.  Maybe this article is a sign of the times we are in and that perhaps his ideas may be revived as talking points.  Spengler was a German historian writing after World War I who believed the West was in decline. 

A question haunts America: Is it in decline on the world scene? Foreign-policy discourse is filled with commentary declaring that it is. Some—Parag Khanna’s work comes to mind—suggests the decline is the product of forces beyond America’s control. Others—Yale’s Paul Kennedy included—contend that America has fostered, at least partially, its own decline through “imperial overstretch” and other actions born of global ambition. Still others—Robert Kagan of the Brookings Institution and Stratfor’s George Friedman, for example—dispute that America is in decline at all. But the question is front and center and inescapable.

The purpose of this article is to hold up the Spengler thesis as a prism through which we might view the state of the world in AD 2013 and probe the question of American and Western decline. I do so without endorsement but with a conviction that elements of that thesis might enlighten efforts to understand our time. Spengler’s work might be viewed as somewhat akin to a potent medicine that can be beneficial in appropriate doses but dangerous when ingested whole, given its metaphysical, dogmatic and extreme qualities cited by Hughes. Besides, Spengler’s thesis is unyieldingly deterministic, which makes it philosophically suspect as well as psychologically unacceptable, given the human aversion to the amoral essence of determinism and its assault on the concept of salvation, whether divine or temporal.

And the author ends with the question that more people are thinking about. . .

And so we come to the truly haunting question that confronts America in these times of growing global instability—whether, as the last nation of the West, America is destined to fulfill Spengler’s vision of hegemonic zeal mixed with a push toward dictatorship.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013


And it was put in by the Democrats!  I hate to be cynical but. . .it must only be Republican big business and fat cats that must be evil.

The "fiscal cliff" legislation passed this week included $76 billion in special-interest tax credits for the likes of General Electric, Hollywood and even Captain Morgan. But these subsidies weren't the fruit of eleventh-hour lobbying conducted on the cliff's edge -- they were crafted back in August in a Senate committee, and they sat dormant until the White House reportedly insisted on them this week.

A Republican Senate aide familiar with the cliff negotiations tells me the White House wanted permanent extensions of a whole slew of corporate tax credits.

And the wealthy may now be giving less to philanthropic causes which is making some non-profits nervous.


Most commentators seem to be applauding Obama for the resolution of the fiscal cliff issues, but Ross Douthat believes it actually showed his (and liberals as well) weakness. 

. . .it includes a real Democratic concession, which substitutes a top income rate threshold of $400,000 for the $250,000 threshold that President Obama had long insisted on. But at the same time, for liberals seeking progressivity and fairness, that should be the easiest possible concession to make. The $400,000 threshold still puts the top bracket close to where it was under Bill Clinton when you adjust for inflation, and that Clintonian definition of “rich” wasn’t an implausible one: While the whining of the upper upper middle class (or, if you prefer, the not-that-rich rich) can be unseemly, there really is a big difference between a taxpayer making six figures annually and a taxpayer making seven or eight, and setting the top rate in the mid rather than low six figures is a way of acknowledging that the near-rich and super-rich do not occupy the same financial universe.

And here I think liberals have a real reason to be discouraged by the White House’s willingness — and, more importantly, many Senate Democrats’ apparent eagerness — to compromise on tax increases for the near-rich. Liberal pundits seem most worried about what this concession signals for the next round of negotiations, over the sequester and the debt ceiling. But if I were them I’d be more worried about the longer term, and what it signals about their party’s willingness and ability to raise tax rates for anyone who isn’t super-rich 

Politico comments on this issue:   

Obama didn’t get the deal he was hoping for either, but in his mind, now has fulfilled a signature campaign promise and gotten the momentum and template to do more big things in his second term, all while breaking the GOP “fever” that stopped them from raising taxes.

Senate Republicans believed they got a pretty good deal, given the circumstances, senators said. They got a permanent agreements on the Alternative Minimum Tax — a significant priority — and tax rates, which removes the threat of the Bush rates expiring from the next round of negotiations. 

Still, Obama’s decision to raise the income threshold from $250,000 – the line he drew for the last four years – to $450,000 didn’t sit well with the progressive base. The Senate hadn’t even voted before AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich and Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin had blasted it. 


Victor Davis Hanson is not optimistic, but after all he is a historian!  While he does point out some the strengths of America, he sees a number of problems.  Among them:
  1. Poverty has been redefined to include the "old middle class."
  2. Central state planning will increase under the "hubris" of the left and Obama.
  3. Liberals & journalists are ready to ignore the Constitution to move their agenda forward.
  4. Redistribution of income is just beginning.
  5. "The law is what we say it is."

Tuesday, January 01, 2013


Patients and caregivers are not being told when medical treatment is being withheld from patients nearing the end of their lives. 

Up to 60,000 patients die on the Liverpool Care Pathway each year without giving their consent, shocking figures revealed yesterday.

A third of families are also kept in the dark when doctors withdraw lifesaving treatment from loved ones.
Despite the revelations, Jeremy Hunt last night claimed the pathway was a ‘fantastic step forward’.