Wednesday, September 29, 2010

When do rules for the common good cross the line?

By Kathleen Parker of The Washington Post on Sept. 29:
After living in New York City for a few weeks, I've reached a few conclusions about the great political divide in America.

As Barack Obama told us at the Democratic convention in 2004, we are not a red and blue nation, etc., etc., etc. True enough, but we are a high-density/low-density nation.

As a smallish-town girl come to the humongous city, I am all too aware of the appeal and horror of centralized government. Simply put, the more people cram themselves into small spaces, the more government will be involved in their lives.

This isn't the stuff of revelation, of course, but it's a useful metaphor for the two prevailing worldviews now in conflict.

If you live in a large urban area, chances are you are accustomed to lots of rules and regs. But to the newcomer, fresh from living largely independently by her own wits, the oppression of bureaucratic order is a fresh sort of hell.

Not only did I move from a small town in South Carolina via a relatively quiet neighborhood in Washington, I also left a solo writing operation to join CNN, an international organization with layers upon layers of human management. Not that I'm complaining. Just sayin'.

But between rules for potted plants on an apartment terrace and a building ban on lighting birthday candles, I've uttered more than once, "Now I know what it's like to live in communist China." Without, of course, the conveniences.

Parallels of Lincoln and Obama

This was forwarded to me.
I'm sure most of us have read the so-called comparison of Lincoln and Kennedy, but did you ever consider the relationship between Obama and Lincoln? You might be surprised.

Parallels of Abraham Lincoln and Barack Hussein Obama:

1. Lincoln placed his hand on the Bible for his inauguration. Obama used the same Bible.

2. Lincoln came from Illinois. Obama comes from Illinois.

3. Lincoln served in the Illinois Legislature. Obama served in the Illinois Legislature.

4. Lincoln had very little experience before becoming President. Obama had very little experience before becoming President.

5. Lincoln rode the train from Philadelphia to Washington for his inauguration. Obama rode the train from Philadelphia to Washington for his inauguration.

6. Lincoln was a skinny lawyer. Obama is a skinny lawyer.

7. Lincoln was a Republican. Obama is a skinny lawyer.

8. Lincoln was in the United States military. Obama is a skinny lawyer.

9. Lincoln believed in everyone carrying his own weight. Obama is a skinny lawyer.

10. Lincoln did not waste taxpayers' money on personal enjoyments. Obama is a skinny lawyer.

11. Lincoln was highly respected. Obama is a skinny lawyer.

12. Lincoln was born in the United States. Obama is a skinny lawyer.

13. Lincoln was honest, so honest he was called Honest Abe. Obama is a skinny lawyer.

14. Lincoln saved the United States. Obama is a skinny lawyer.

Tea Party movement gathers strength

From Peter Wallsten and Danny Yadron of The Wall Street Journal on Sept. 29:
The tea party has emerged as a potent force in American politics and a center of gravity within the Republican Party, with a large majority of Republicans showing an affinity for the movement that has repeatedly bucked the GOP leadership this year, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll has found.

In the survey, 71% of Republicans described themselves as tea-party supporters, saying they had a favorable image of the movement or hoped tea- party candidates would do well in the Nov. 2 elections.

Already, the tea-party movement has helped to oust a number of incumbents and candidates backed by party leaders in this year's GOP primaries amid complaints that they lacked commitment to small-government principles. The poll findings suggest that the rising influence of the movement, with its push to cut spending and oppose the Democratic agenda, will drive the GOP to become more conservative and less willing to seek common ground on policy.

"These are essentially conservative Republicans who are very ticked-off people," said Republican pollster Bill McInturff, who conducted the survey with Democratic pollster Peter Hart.

If the Republicans win control of the House or Senate this fall, Mr. McInturff added, the survey shows "enormous amounts about how limited the interest is going to be in those new majorities to try to seek negotiation with the president or the Democratic leadership."

The poll found that tea-party supporters make up one-third of the voters most likely to cast ballots in November's midterm elections. This showed the movement "isn't a small little segment, but it is a huge part of what's driving 2010," Mr. Hart said.

Obama's pep talk to Dems

Medicare Advantage plans eliminated
for 3 million seniors

From Connie Hair of Human Events on Sept. 29:
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) have made a capricious decision to eliminate certain Medicare Advantage drug plans affecting up to three million seniors—automatically enrolling more than 1.5 million seniors in a new plan that will cost them 15% more in premiums alone.

Other changes made by CMS will cause premium rate increases for Medicare Advantage plans ranging from 10-45%.

House Ways and Means Ranking Republican Dave Camp (R-Mich.) and Health Subcommittee Ranking Republican Wally Herger (R-Calif.) yesterday wrote Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius demanding answers and warning the administration’s plans would cause further confusion for America’s seniors.

Taxing the rich

From John Stossel of Human Events on Sept. 29:
Progressives want to raise taxes on individuals who make more than $200,000 a year because they say it's wrong for the rich to be "given" more money. Sunday's New York Times carries a cartoon showing Uncle Sam handing money to a fat cat. They just don't get it.

As I've said before, a tax cut is not a handout. It simply means government steals less. What progressives want to do is take money from some -- by force -- and spend it on others. It sounds less noble when plainly stated.

That's the moral side of the matter. There's a practical side, too. Taxes discourage wealth creation. That hurts everyone, the lower end of the income scale most of all. An economy that, through freedom, encourages the production of wealth raises the living standards of lower-income people as well as everyone else.

A free society is not a zero-sum game in which every gain is offset by someone's loss. As long as government keeps its thumb off the scales, the "makers" who get rich do so by making others better off. (When the government allocates capital or creates barriers to competition, all bets are off.)

Of course, this is not the prevailing view among the intelligentsia. Columbia University Professor Marc Lamont Hill tells me, "Those who have more should pay more."

But is there a point where they stop producing wealth or leave altogether?

"The rich have always cried wolf like that," Hill says.

But the wolf is here. Maryland created a special tax on rich people that was supposed to bring in $106 million. Instead, the state lost $257 million.

DOJ whistleblower: Obama administration
is planning November vote fraud

A Justice Department official says Deputy Assistant Attorney General Julie Fernandes told staff members not to obey federal laws that require voting polls to unregister voters who moved or died, thus creating opportunities for citizens to vote more than once.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Come to the 2010 Candidate Forum!

Palm Beach County voters are invited to meet their prospective representatives at an Oct. 4 candidate forum in Palm Beach Gardens sponsored by the South Florida Tea Party.

Republican and Democrat candidates from all Palm Beach County districts have been invited to participate in the 2010 Candidate Forum, held at the Borland Center at 7 p.m. Radio host Joyce Kaufman will serve as the moderator for the event, during which panelists will answered prepared and live questions.

Attendees can partake in a meet and greet with the panelists at 6 p.m. in the center's lobby. Singer Lou Galterio will also sing the National Anthem.

To RSVP for reserved seating, click here. Submit the form online, and also print a copy to bring to the event.

Confirmed participating candidates are:

U.S. House of Representatives:
Democrat Jim Horn of District 16
Republican Joe Budd of District 19
Republican Lieutenant Colonel Allen West of District 22
Republican Bernard Sansaricq of District 23

Florida Senate:
Republican Lizbeth Benacquisto of District 27

Florida State House of Representatives:
Republican Pat Rooney of District 83
Democrat Marc Marciano of District 83
Republican Albert Key of District 84
Republican Tami Donnally of District 85
Democrat Joe Ambruzzo of District 85
Republican Bill Hager of District 87
Republican Steven Rosenblum of District 89

What: 2010 Candidate Forum hosted by the South Florida Tea Party.
When: Oct. 4 at 7 p.m., with a meet and greet at 6 p.m.
Where: Borland Center, 4885 PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens.

Florida and New York gain importance
in 2010 with new redistricting estimates

From Aaron Blake of The Washington Post on Sept. 27:
Eighteen states are slated to gain or lose congressional seats after this election cycle, with governor's race Florida and New York now taking on increased importance in this year's elections, according to the latest estimates from Election Data Services.

New York, which had previously been projected to lose one seat in reapportionment, is now slated to drop from 29 seats to 27 seats. Florida, meanwhile, has gone from gaining one seat to gaining two seats and would also have 27 districts for the 2012 elections.

That means, when districts are redrawn by the state legislatures and approved (or not) by the governor next year, two incumbents could get the squeeze in New York, while two brand new districts would be created in Florida.

While most states will be tinkering with the same number of districts that they had the last time congressional lines were redrawn a decade ago, states that are losing or gaining seats will see potentially seismic political changes. And that makes controlling the state legislature and the governor's mansion, which control that redistricting process in most states, that much more important.

So, while both major parties always place heavy emphasis on winning control of large population states like Florida, New York, Ohio and Texas, the stakes are that much higher in this year's election.

Who cares about the Senate majority?

From Marc Thiessen of The Washington Post on Sept. 28:
If Republicans fall a few votes short of taking back the Senate in November, the Tea Party's detractors have their headline already written: "Extremist candidates cost GOP the majority." So let me put it out there well before Election Day: Who cares if Republicans win control of the Senate come November? If enough conservative insurgents are elected to put Republicans back in power, wonderful. But if a few falter, and the Democrats manage to keep control, that's fine as well. The Tea Party isn't going anywhere. Better to wait another election cycle and make certain the next Republican majority is a fiscally conservative majority.

The uprising of 2010 is not about a Republican restoration; it is about a Republican reformation. Conservative insurgents are running not only to change Washington but to change the GOP and restore its reputation as the party of fiscal discipline. Ken Buck, the Tea Party-backed Republican senate nominee on Colorado, puts it this way: "Republicans have been a big part of the problem. I'm not going to Washington, D.C., to fit in with big-spending Republicans." Insurgents like Buck recognize that the GOP's imminent electoral success masks a deep-seated problem: Republicans in Congress are even less popular than the Democrats. A recent Associated Press poll found that while 60 percent of the country disapproves of the job Democrats are doing on Capitol Hill, 68 percent disapprove of the job Republicans are doing. If Republicans were to gain the majority and return to their big-spending ways, the damage to the party's reputation could be permanent. That would be a much greater disaster for the GOP than failing to take control this time around.

SEIU fallout: FBI investigates
prominent labor leader Andy Stern

From The Associated Press on Sept. 28:
(AP) — The FBI and the U.S. Labor Department are investigating prominent labor leader Andy Stern in their probe of corruption at the Service Employees International Union, according to two people who have been interviewed by federal agents.

The two organized labor officials met with federal agents this summer to answer questions about a six-figure book contract that Stern landed in 2006 and his role in approving money to pay the salary of an SEIU leader in California who allegedly performed no work.

Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the investigation. The FBI and the Labor Department’s office of inspector general declined to comment for the record.

The disclosure about the federal inquiry of Stern — who abruptly resigned as president of the 2.2-million member SEIU in April — comes just weeks ahead of contentious congressional elections in which the union is spending an estimated $44 million to support its favored Democratic candidates.

The SEIU has been plagued with several financial scandals since 2008, when the Los Angeles Times reported that Tyrone Freeman, head of the union’s largest California local, misappropriated hundreds of thousands of dollars from the union. The union ousted Freeman and demanded that he return the money. No federal charges have been filed against him, but SEIU spokeswoman Michelle Ringuette said the union has been cooperating with the FBI.

Stern left his post two years before the end of his term, saying he wanted to focus more on his personal life. He remains a member of President Barack Obama’s deficit commission and a highly influential figure in the White House, where he was one of the most frequent visitors last year. He is also a research fellow at Georgetown University and a paid consultant for the SEIU.

Cato offers free version of 'Cult of the Presidency'

For a limited time, the Cato Institute is offering a free e-book version of "The Cult of the Presidency: America's Dangerous Devotion to Executive Power," written by Gene Healy, vice president of the Cato Institute.

According to a summary of the book, "Americans have increasingly expanded presidential power over recent decades by expecting the president to provide solutions for all national problems, prosperity for all, and protection from harm. Healy demonstrates how the president’s role needs to return to its properly defined constitutional limits, with its powers held in check by Congress and the courts."

From the top link, you can also download a PDF version of the book or click here to download a version for an e-book reader. Click here to order a copy of the book for $15.95.

Get to know Florida's 6 proposed amendments

Want to know what'll be on the ballot in November besides politicians? Click here for information about Florida's six proposed constitutional amendments. They are:
  • Amendment 1: Repeal of Public Campaign Financing Requirement: Proposing the repeal of the provision in the State Constitution that requires public financing of campaigns of candidates for elective statewide office who agree to campaign spending limits.
  • Amendment 2: Homestead Ad Valorem Tax Credit for Deployed Military Personnel: Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to require the Legislature to provide an additional homestead property tax exemption by law for members of the United States military or military reserves, the United States Coast Guard or its reserves, or the Florida National Guard who receive a homestead exemption and were deployed in the previous year on active duty outside the continental United States, Alaska, or Hawaii in support of military operations designated by the Legislature. The exempt amount will be based upon the number of days in the previous calendar year that the person was deployed on active duty outside the continental United States, Alaska, or Hawaii in support of military operations designated by the Legislature. The amendment is scheduled to take effect January 1, 2011.
  • Amendment 4: Referenda Required for Adoption and Amendment of Local Government Comprehensive Land Use Plans: Establishes that before a local government may adopt a new comprehensive land use plan, or amend a comprehensive land use plan, the proposed plan or amendment shall be subject to vote of the electors of the local government by referendum, following preparation by the local planning agency, consideration by the governing body and notice. Provides definitions.
  • Amendment 5: Standards for Legislature to Follow in Legislative Redistricting: Legislative districts or districting plans may not be drawn to favor or disfavor an incumbent or political party. Districts shall not be drawn to deny racial or language minorities the equal opportunity to participate in the political process and elect representatives of their choice. Districts must be contiguous. Unless otherwise required, districts must be compact, as equal in population as feasible, and where feasible must make use of existing city, county and geographical boundaries.
  • Amendment 6: Standards for Legislature to Follow in Congressional Redistricting: Congressional districts or districting plans may not be drawn to favor or disfavor an incumbent or political party. Districts shall not be drawn to deny racial or language minorities the equal opportunity to participate in the political process and elect representatives of their choice. Districts must be contiguous. Unless otherwise required, districts must be compact, as equal in population as feasible, and where feasible must make use of existing city, county and geographical boundaries.
  • Amendment 8: Revision of the Class Size Requirements for Public Schools: The Florida Constitution currently limits the maximum number of students assigned to each teacher in public school classrooms in the following grade groupings: for prekindergarten through grade 3, 18 students; for grades 4 through 8, 22 students; and for grades 9 through 12, 25 students. Under this amendment, the current limits on the maximum number of students assigned to each teacher in public school classrooms would become limits on the average number of students assigned per class to each teacher, by specified grade grouping, in each public school. This amendment also adopts new limits on the maximum number of students assigned to each teacher in an individual classroom as follows: for prekindergarten through grade 3, 21 students; for grades 4 through 8, 27 students; and for grades 9 through 12, 30 students. This amendment specifies that class size limits do not apply to virtual classes, requires the Legislature to provide sufficient funds to maintain the average number of students required by this amendment, and schedules these revisions to take effect upon approval by the electors of this state and to operate retroactively to the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year.
Amendments 3, 7 and 9 were removed from the ballot by the Florida Supreme Court.

11 reasons to vote for Democrats in November

"I wouldn't dignify you by peeing on your leg. It wouldn't be worth wasting the urine."
-- Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., speaking to a constituent who disagreed with him.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Ex-postal executives return for high-pay contracts

From Jim McElhatton of The Washington Times on Sept. 26:
Even as the U.S. Postal Service began sliding into the worst financial crisis in its history, some postal executives in recent years found a way to earn more money by resigning from their jobs and returning as highly paid contractors while doing essentially the same work.

In three recent contracts awarded without competitive bidding, for instance, former Postal Service executives were hired to perform what contracting records described as "knowledge transfer," according to a review of the agency's multibillion-dollar contracting operation by the Postal Service's office of inspector general.

"These contracts were put in place, even though highly experienced postal executives filled the positions vacated by the former executives," the inspector general's office concluded in a report, which was ordered by two senators amid a procurement scandal involving the agency's former top marketing officer.

One former vice president retired in May and within two months received a $260,000 no-bid "knowledge transfer" contract for the postal executive who assumed his old job, the report found.

Overall, the inspector general's office found 17 no-bid contracts awarded to former postal executives within a year of their retirement dates ranging from October 2006 to September 2009.

GOP candidates withstand Dems' efforts to demonize

From Mark Halperin of on Sept. 27:
Republicans remain poised to have a heckuva Election Day. But their curious choices in a few important contests could have undermined the GOP's overarching anti–Big Government message. Some standouts in the group of Republican nominees: a former Lehman Brothers executive; the guy who was in charge of budgets and trade agreements for George W. Bush; another financial honcho who has long been one of the nation's leading proponents of privatizing Social Security; two corporate CEOs with checkered records; and a onetime health care CEO with an even more checkered record.

In 2010, politician might be a dirty word, but you wouldn't expect fat cats, Wall Streeters, free traders, Bushies and Big Business profiteers to fare much better than Democratic pols when proffered to an angry electorate.

But, to the surprise of some analysts, and to the great disappointment of the White House and its allies, the Republican candidates with those career badges are not only in the hunt to win some of the choicest midterm contests, but in many cases have opened up significant polling leads, despite buckets of money spent by Democrats over many months to stop them.

Tea party favorite Allen West
gunning for Ron Klein's seat

From Alex Leary of the St. Petersburg Times on Sept. 27:
DEERFIELD BEACH — Allen West ended a military career and launched a political one in the most unusual of ways. He threatened to kill a man.

It happened on Aug. 20, 2003, a hot, dusty night in Iraq. Demanding information about a possible ambush on U.S. troops, Army Lt. Col. West backed up the threat by firing his 9mm Beretta near a detainee's head.

Months later, West stood at a military hearing, wiping away tears. "If it's about the lives of my men and their safety," he said, "I'd go through hell with a gasoline can."

At his campaign headquarters in a strip mall in Deerfield Beach, West said the ordeal was the foundation for his decision to run for Congress. Thousands of people across the United States rallied behind him at the time, setting off a debate about war conduct that continues today.

"He should have gotten a medal," said Tim O'Neill, who showed up to hear West speak at a candidate forum in Pompano Beach last week. "I admire what he did in the military, but I like his politics even more."

West, 49, is challenging two-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Ron Klein, D-Boca Raton, and has turned his national notoriety — and an endorsement from Sarah Palin — into a fundraising juggernaut, collecting more than $4 million.

Polls show a neck-and-neck race, but by even getting this far, West underscores the headwinds working against Democrats in the midterm elections. Knocking off Klein would be major as Klein himself was a giant killer in 2006 by defeating 26-year Republican House veteran Clay Shaw.

Convention holds that a moderate Republican would run strongest against Klein, 53, whose Democrats have the smallest of advantages in voter registration. "What are the principles of a moderate?" West scoffed.

He tears into the health care law, the stimulus and says voters were "tricked" into electing Barack Obama. He mocks "co-exist" bumper stickers. Klein, he says, is a "pathetic liberal."

In one of the many videos of him on YouTube, est shouts into a megaphone at a July 4th rally wearing sunglasses, an American-flag bandana and a tight yellow shirt bearing a coiled snake — the adopted symbol of the tea party.

"If we sit complacent and if we don't pay attention to what's going on right now, we will find ourselves once again becoming slaves to a tyrannical government. You cannot stand down. You cannot stop being vigilant. And just as this T-shirt says ... we must tell this government, 'Don't tread on me.' "

Unemployment may be headed up despite growth

From Michael S. Derby of The Wall Street Journal on Sept. 27:
The strong likelihood of tepid economic growth through next year suggests unemployment may rise, rather than fall, as many forecasters currently predict.

In a paper published Monday, economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco warn business cycle analysis generated within the central bank system is pointing to growth that will be “at or below potential” growth levels.

This modest rate of advancement won’t be enough to generate the needed level of job growth, which suggests “the unemployment rate could rise by as much a 0.5 percentage point during this period,” moving from the current level of 9.6% to 10.1%. The paper’s authors, economists David Lang and Kevin Lansing, observe “such a scenario would take the unemployment rate back to the peak recorded in October 2009.”

An open letter to President Obama
... from Charlie Daniels

From Charlie Daniels in the U.S. Constitutional Free Press on Sept. 27:
Mr. President,

I write this letter as a patriot, a taxpayer, a lifelong resident and as concerned citizen of what I consider to be the greatest nation ever known to man, the United States of America.

I am Caucasian, so let’s get the racial aspect out of the way to start with. This letter has nothing to do with your race. I lived through the cruelty of Jim Crow and segregation and learned early on in my life that the color of my skin does not make me better or worse than any other man.

We all remember Martin Luther King, Jr.’s statement about judging people, not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character, and I believe that with all my heart.

I believe that America is an exceptional country. We have been liberator, benefactor and leader of the free world for centuries. America is an example of what can be achieved by free people living under the free enterprise system.

We have led the world in technology, industry, science and medicine for a long time.

Our capitalist system guarantees that those who explore new worlds and bring us new products and better techniques are amply rewarded for their efforts, and this is as it should be.

A person who is the first one to get there and the last one to leave, who burns the midnight oil and never gives up until they realize their goals, are a boon to humankind. They’re the ones who discover new cures, start new industries and create jobs.

These people deserve to be rewarded for their hard work and for the products and services they bring to make life better for all mankind.

Mr. President, it is my personal opinion that you want to take the well-earned rewards of these people and give it to those who have done nothing to deserve them.

It’s really redistribution of wealth, and it’s nothing new. It’s been tried many places before and it has miserably failed in every one of them.

It’s called socialism.

I saw Daniels and his band perform in Orlando for Sean Hannity's Freedom Concerts. Below are three videos I made from the concert. For more movies, click here.

Freedom Concert 2010

The Star-Spangled Banner

The Devil Went Down To Georgia

New York Post breaks down
Obamacare's redistribution of wealth

From Betsey McCaughey of the New York Post on Sept. 27:
New projections from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid paint a stark picture of the impact of the ObamaCare law: We're in for a massive redistribution of health resources.

When the projections were released this month, news reports stressed that the president's "reform" utterly fails to slow the growth of health-care spending. Every year through 2019, employers and consumers will face higher premiums than if the law hadn't passed.

But worse news is how radically the Obama law spreads the health wealth around.

In 2014, a staggering 85.2 million people -- 31 percent of all nonelderly Americans -- will be on Medicaid and CHIP (the Medicaid-like children's health program). This accounts for the majority of those who'd gain health coverage. Amazingly, only 3 percent more people will have private insurance.

President Obama pledged to reduce the number of uninsured by making health plans affordable -- but that's not how his law actually does it. Rather, it loosens Medicaid eligibility by raising the income ceiling and barring asset tests.

In short, it pushes our country toward a welfare state.

Read more.

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