Sunday, September 30, 2012

When it comes to polls, readers beware

As a recovering pollster (I worked for Democratic pollster Peter Hart from 1974 to 1981), let me weigh in on the controversy over whether the polls are accurate. Many conservatives are claiming that multiple polls have overly Democratic samples, and some charge that media pollsters are trying to discourage Republican voters.
First, some points about the limits of polls. Random-sample polling is an imprecise instrument. There's an error margin of 3 or 4 percent and polling theory tells us that one out of 20 polls is wrong, with results outside the margin of error. Sometimes it's easy to spot such an outlier; sometimes not.
In addition, it's getting much harder for pollsters to get people to respond to interviews. The Pew Research Center reports that it's getting only 9 percent of the people it contacts to respond to its questions. That's compared with 36 percent in 1997.
Interestingly, response rates are much higher in new democracies. Americans, particularly in target states, may be getting poll fatigue. When a phone rings in New Hampshire, it might well be a pollster calling.

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GM Recalling 40,859 Cars for Potential Fuel Leaks

GM recalling 40,859 cars for potential fuel leaks
AP Auto Writer
General Motors Co. is recalling more than 40,000 cars sold in warm-weather states because a plastic part might crack and cause a fuel leak.

The company is recalling Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 sedans from the 2007 through 2009 model years and Chevrolet Equinox and Pontiac Torrent SUVs and Saturn Ion sedans from the 2007 model year.

The recall affects vehicles sold or currently registered in Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada or Texas. Owners in Arkansas and Oklahoma also are included in the recall of the 2009 Cobalt and G5.

The vehicles have plastic parts connected to the fuel pump which could crack. If the crack gets large enough, fuel could leak out of the vehicle and cause a fire.

GM says there have been no reports of fires or injuries related to the defect. The company began investigating the issue in 2011 after a dealer reported fuel leaking from some vehicles.

GM says its warranty data indicates that the problem is far more common in warm-weather states. It will repair the vehicles for free in those states. Owners will be notified of the recall by mail.

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Medicare fines over hospitals' readmitted patients

If you or an elderly relative have been hospitalized recently and noticed extra attention when the time came to be discharged, there's more to it than good customer service.
As of Monday, Medicare will start fining hospitals that have too many patients readmitted within 30 days of discharge due to complications. The penalties are part of a broader push under President Barack Obama's health care law to improve quality while also trying to save taxpayers money.
About two-thirds of the hospitals serving Medicare patients, or some 2,200 facilities, will be hit with penalties averaging around $125,000 per facility this coming year, according to government estimates.
Data to assess the penalties have been collected and crunched, and Medicare has shared the results with individual hospitals. Medicare plans to post details online later in October, and people can look up how their community hospitals performed by using the agency's "Hospital Compare" website.
It adds up to a new way of doing business for hospitals, and they have scrambled to prepare for well over a year. They are working on ways to improve communication with rehabilitation centers and doctors who follow patients after they're released, as well as connecting individually with patients.

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Govt Dependency Is Morally Corrupting

The Obama administration's policies are bad. Bad in the sense that the policies are morally corrupting. They take money and control away from people and give them to government bureaucrats, who then decide what should be done. The policies encourage people to be less responsible personally and to rely more on the government.

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher argued that "socialism itself — in all its incarnations, wherever and however it was applied — was morally corrupting," Claire Berlinski wrote in "There Is No Alternative: Why Margaret Thatcher Matters" (Basic Books, 2008). "Socialism turned good citizens into bad ones; it turned strong nations into weak ones; it promoted vice and discouraged virtue . . . transformed formerly hardworking and self-reliant men and women into whining, weak, and flabby loafers."

Sound familiar?

Republicans are currently debating the surface arguments about the Obama administration's programs — they cost too much, they are not paid for, and there is too much government intervention.

The core of the matter is the same today as it was in Great Britain in the 1970s.

The system President Obama is championing is morally wrong.

In order to win in November, Republican nominee Mitt Romney must win the argument, and thereby win the vote.

The argument is that the system Obama is promoting is bad and that it creates a weak society. Romney needs to articulate what it is to be an American; why we must defend America's core values; why they are good values.

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Green Jobs Cost Taxpayers $6.7 Million Per Job (So Far)

These are examples of why government should not be in the business of creating private sector jobs.  Simply giving firms money to develop or make something the government likes does not work.  The government can and should support research and development of technologies that have legitimate potential.  But, giving private industry taxpayer backed money to build stuff the government likes is not its role.  The government does not create demand for products, the free enterprise market does.  Likewise, governement does not create consumer based civilian jobs, private enterprise does that.  The current (and past) administration's attempts to create jobs and solve problems by intruding into free market commerce prove the point.  Despite government efforts to do both the unemployment rate has been above 8% for the last 43 months and little improvement in the oeverall economy can be found.  An admittedly over simpliflied description of the goverement's role in the economy is:  Assure that private enterprise operates on a level playing field for the benefit of "all" American citizens/tax payers/consumers and the country.

 George Burns


"A power has risen up in the government greater than the people themselves, consisting of many and various powerful interests, combined in one mass, and held together by the cohesive power of the vast surplus in banks." John C. Calhoun, American statesman, June 27, 1836
The only thing I've researched as extensively as I have the unconstitutional "Federal" Reserve is what happened on September 11, 2001. I put in about 400 hours doing my initial research into 'smart' meters. Probably a few thousand on Oklahoma City and the list goes on. As I said so many years ago in a column, it took about 18 months before I was finally mentally able to say something is very wrong here with the government's version of what happened on 9/11. From that point on, I opened my mind and looked for the truth.
I went through the same mental process over OKC, only not so long. We already had Ruby Ridge (August 21 - 31, 1992), WACO (February 28 – April 19, 1993). TWA Flight 800 would come 15 months after OKC. The Internet and PCs were really just beginning to hit households in America, so we still pretty much relied on faxes, newsletters, snail mail and the phone. At first, I was getting all this crazy stuff about OKC being a botched government sting, not foreign terrorists. Of course, I simply could not believe it because I didn't want to believe it.
In in my early years learning the under belly of what was planned for this country, I became acquainted with Jerry Longspaugh. Shortly after the Murrah Building was blown to bits, Jerry sent me video taken by a couple of people. I saw with my own eyes the lies. I contacted another friend, then Colorado State Senator Charles (Charlie) Duke. We watched the film and decided it needed to be made into a video. Jerry deserves the credit for ultimately what became Cover Up in Oklahoma. A video that spread across this country like wildfire.

Americans Must Demand Better Government in November and Beyond

Americans are seriously pre-occupied as we enter the fourth quarter of 2012. Obsessions about the football season and “Dancing with The Stars” are a pleasant diversion from our present hardship and gloomy future, and frustrations over the logic-defying presidential polls makes for interesting talk show fodder.
But after the election – and after the close of 2012 – Americans will need to grapple with myriad problems in our government. Whoever wins the White House will face an avalanche of trouble in the months ahead, and the ways in which these problems are addressed will reverberate for generations.
Americans must begin to see through the rhetoric of politicians and the slant and soundbytes of the media, and demand better government from those elected to serve. The “pass the bill and then figure out what’s in it” approach is unacceptable. So let’s start with our “get a grip” agenda with this: Americans must sober-up about our economic and fiscal condition.
At present it would seem that we’re taking the upcoming election about as seriously as a football game. Team Obama has the home field advantage, while Romney and company are the visitors trying to upset Obama at his homecoming. The make-up of the Congress will then round-out each team’s roster, but the “players” are thought to be all essentially the same.
Yet America is in serious trouble. Private industry is suffering shell shock from the flurry of demands and restrictions placed upon it in the last three years, most of which have stemmed from environmental constraints, so-called “banking reform,” mortgage restrictions, and Obamacare. Our currency is being debased by the minute, as our government’s debt exceeds 70% of our GDP and the Federal Reserve continues to print money while keeping interest rates artificially low.
President Obama is committed to making matters worse- he promises higher taxes and more government spending, and has offered no vision for undoing the disastrous and damaging components of Obamacare. Mr. Romney is moving in the correct direction by proposing an expansion of free trade and modest spending cuts, but does not (and in political terms perhaps cannot) come close to where we must go.

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The Sorry State Department

It should come as no surprise that the State Department has much to answer for in the abysmal manner in which it so disastrously allowed the horrific murder of the American Ambassador, Chris Stevens, and three other Americans by Muslims in Benghazi, Libya to occur. What took place was an act of barbarism deliberately planned and perpetrated on the very anniversary of the 9/11 atrocity by fellow Muslims against Americans upon American soil.
And who must bear full responsibility for not adequately protecting the hapless ambassador and his staff in Benghazi? Well, it has to be none other than Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State, and appeaser to all and every tyrant and international thug in the world.
Her craven apologies to the ever hate filled and murderous Muslim world by blaming an amateurish video, purportedly the excuse for mass Islamic violence and killings, has been enough to make Neville Chamberlain look decidedly heroic and resolute. But then she takes her queue from her boss, the Appeaser and Apologist in Chief; Barack Hussein Obama.
We now know that the killings, using RPGs and incendiary devices, were a premeditated and well planned operation by Al Qaeda. Even the Libyan president has said so, yet Hillary Clinton and President Obama continue to falsely attribute the Arab bloodlust to the video. And the Secretary of State, a week before the atrocity took place, stated that the security measures in place at the Benghazi mission were “robust.”

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The Real Debate

Everybody knows that this election is supposed to be all about the economy. Employment, income, growth, and America’s credit rating are too low, while spending, borrowing, deficits, poverty, and gas prices are too high, and voters must decide whether President Obama is responsible for all of that or whether Mitt Romney could do better. Polls certainly suggest that these questions are highest on voters’ minds.
And yet, even as both parties acknowledge the centrality of the economy, both seem also to be powerfully drawn toward another, deeper kind of debate. That debate has mostly been evident when each party’s politicians have assumed they are talking to their supporters and friends​—​in the non-televised early hours of their conventions this summer, in off-the-cuff remarks after a long day of campaigning, or at a fundraiser they did not know was being recorded. In those kinds of moments, both Democrats and Republicans seem to want to have a debate about the individual, society, and government in American life.
Each party is pulled into this debate by what it sees as the deeply misguided views of the other. Democrats listen to Republicans and hear a simpleminded and selfish radical individualism​—​or, as President Obama has put it, “nothing but thinly veiled Social Darwinism.” They hear people who think that being successful and rich means you’re smarter than everyone else or work harder than everyone else, and who therefore have no regard for those in our society who are in no position to start a business or get a loan. They hear people who have benefited from the privileges of being lucky in America and imagine they did it all by themselves. And they seek to teach these people that there is no such thing as a self-made success. This was what President Obama was getting at when he went off his script in Roanoke, Virginia, in July and made “you didn’t build that” an instant classic. He was accusing his opponents of idolizing individual achievement while ignoring the preconditions for success made possible by the larger society​—​which he identified more or less exclusively with the government. Numerous speakers at this summer’s Democratic convention similarly equated society and government, arguing, for instance, that (in the words of the convention’s opening video) “government is the one thing we all belong to,” and that (in the words of Rep. Barney Frank) “there are things that a civilized society needs that we can only do when we do them together, and when we do them together that’s called government.” Republicans, they suggested, don’t believe in government because they don’t believe in doing things together.

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A Tithing Cut for the Rich

The odious "tax cuts for the rich" meme is a favorite battle cry of the class warriors.  The Bush tax cuts, we are repetitively told, favored the wealthy.  And Republicans, because they passed "tax cuts for the rich," are for the 1%, while Democrats, who opposed those cuts, are for the 99%.
Now come the Romney-Ryan team and their proposal for tax cuts.  Mitt Romney characterizes his tax plan as follows: make a permanent, across-the-board 20-percent cut in marginal rates.  In other words, he proposes a 20% tax cut for everyone who pays federal income taxes.
Everyone.  Across the board.
President Obama and his fellow Democrats, sure as the sun came up this morning, call Romney's proposal "a tax cut for the rich."  The president says that "the bulk of this tax cut would go to the very top ... a lot of it going to the wealthiest 1% of all households."  The way the president puts it, it sounds really unfair.  But is it?  That depends on your point of reference, and your point of reference depends on the moral compass that guides you.
The federal tax code is complicated.  To keep the math simple, I will make my point by using the easily understood principle of the tithe.  The Lord's tithe is a very simple 10% of an earner's income.  The tithe is like a flat tax with no deductions.  It is the same percentage for everyone, no matter how much or how little he earns.


Who could have imagined that one of the most audacious disinformation campaigns in American history would turn out, according to a recently declassified FBI file, to have a direct connection not only to today’s president of the United States, Barack Obama, but to top advisers David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett as well? Professor Paul Kengor, author of “The Communist,” the new bestseller about Obama mentor Frank Marshall Davis, tells the incredible story of communist disinformation in America and its multiple ties to those now “fundamentally transforming” this country from the top.

If you want to see how Soviet-style disinformation has spread in our own country, look no further than the Communist Party USA. Sure, no one could spin a web of lies quite like the Soviets and the Kremlin, but their American devotees are likewise excellent at agitation, propaganda and deliberate deception. America’s communists have produced some impressive homegrown disinformation. Here, I’ll consider an especially productive example, which still bears bitter fruit today among the wider American left: the campaign against the House Committee on Un-American Activities.

In this skillful, cynical disinformation campaign, American communists, working with duped progressive/liberal accomplices, framed their accusers as “fascists,” “Nazis,” “McCarthyites” and even “racists” who were (allegedly) unfairly hounding and maligning them by investigating their ties to Moscow. In truth, the accused were frequently guilty – and, at the least, merited attention. Nonetheless, these leftist forces came together, under the leadership of the CPUSA, the Daily Worker and other far-left forces, in coordinated campaigns such as “Operation Abolition,” which sought to abolish the House Committee on Un-American Activities, which they tagged as “HUAC” – the “House Un-American Committee,” a label that sticks to this day.

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Obama’s Tyrannical Executive Orders

A September 24 a Wall Street Journal editorial warned that President Obama is moving to control the Internet by executive order. “Any day now, the White House will issue an executive order on cyber security, according to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano who said last week that the measure ‘is close to completion.’”
It noted that “the White House intends to go ahead with its order in the face of vociferous opposition on Capitol Hill.”
“According to leaked versions of the draft, the executive order would impose security standards for 16 critical industries” and that “private companies have innovated and invested heavily to protect themselves without regulatory prodding. What they need from the government is an information-sharing program and liability protection.”
This is just one more executive order that would, along with others, impose a totalitarian control over every aspect of life in America on the pretext of a national emergency. We had a national emergency on 9/11 and no laws were abrogated, no Constitutional freedoms denied. 
A Homeland Security Department study, “Hot Spots of Terrorism and Other Crimes in the United States 1970-2008”, listed Americans who are “fiercely nationalistic”, “suspicious of centralized federal authority” and “reverent of individual liberty” as potential terrorists.
Jeffery T. Kuhmer, writing in The Washington Times in March, noted that “On March 15, the White House released an executive order, ‘National Defense Resources Preparedness.’ The document is stunning in its audacity and a flagrant violation of the Constitution.”

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America: Where Patriots Are Not Fools and Presidents Are Not Kings

Preppers are people who think that America is about to turn into a lawless free-for-all; they therefore stock up on food and supplies and head for remote sites and bunkers to wait it out.  Then come the leavers, who think it's time to choose another country to live in, or some distant island in the sea.
America is at a tipping point, and while those who think it's time to hide or leave may not be wrong, no one would dare call them patriots or fighters.  Is this the right way to deal with the day?  Has a serious voice for good lost its power, and does every vote count for nothing?
Even in this land of 350 million souls, we can take comfort that the God who watches the six billion people of this planet has not lost his grip.  The Bible clearly says that he counts the very hairs on the heads of every last one of us (Mt 10: 30).
God knows the way of a nation as clearly as he knows the ways of an individual, and he responds to us on the basis of that knowledge, according to the great prophet Jeremiah.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. (Jer 17: 9, 10)
If an individual's life is ordered by God, why would we assume that he is not interested in the lives and the pathway of an entire nation?  America has been a light to the world, guided by the principles of the Bible, the Constitution, and men and women who believe that freedom is a gift from God to be enjoyed and used to create both a refuge and a place of great opportunity.


A jury on Thursday convicted an employee of a defense contractor for exporting sensitive U.S. military technology to the People’s Republic of China (PRC), stealing military secrets, and making false statements to federal law enforcement, according to a report obtained by the National Association of Chiefs of Police.

Sixing Liu, a/k/a “Steve Liu,” a Chinese citizen who lived in Flanders, New Jersey, and in Deerfield, Illinois, was immediately taken into federal custody after the jury announced their verdict. U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler based his decision for Liu to remain in custody after agreeing with the prosecutor that Liu was a flight risk. Sentencing before Judge Chesler is scheduled for Jan. 7, 2013.

The jury convicted 49-year-old Liu of nine of the 11 counts with which he was charged, including six counts of violating the Arms Export Control Act and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, one count of possessing stolen trade secrets in violation of the Economic Espionage Act of 1996, one count of transporting stolen property in interstate commerce, and one count of lying to federal agents. The jury acquitted Liu on two counts of lying to federal agents.

According to FBI documents filed in the case and evidence presented at trial:

In 2010, Liu stole thousands of electronic files from his employer, L-3 Communications, Space and Navigation Division, located in Budd Lake, New Jersey. The stolen files detailed the performance and design of guidance systems for missiles, rockets, target locators, and unmanned aerial vehicles or drones.

Liu stole the files to position himself for future employment in the PRC. As part of that plan, Liu delivered presentations about the technology at several PRC universities, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and conferences organized by PRC government entities.

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Natural Gas Family Cars? CNG Cheap But Many Potholes

The 76 station at the corner of Los Angeles' Olympic and La Cienega boulevards doesn't look much different from the myriad gas stations that dot the metropolis.
But next to the banks of traditional gas pumps is one dispensing a cheaper, cleaner-burning fuel to the occasional delivery van or Honda Civic equipped to use it.
The station is one of dozens in Southern California selling compressed natural gas. The region has one of the nation's densest concentrations of CNG fueling infrastructure.

That network is a key piece of the puzzle needed if motorists are ever going to convert en masse to the fuel, which currently goes for about $1.50 a gallon less than the equivalent amount of gasoline, thanks to decades' worth of new U.S. supply.
Dawn Of New Age?
Advocates have heralded the dawn of a transportation age, with the domestic fuel powering trips to the mall, soccer practice or work, displacing more expensive and dirty imported oil. The Obama administration's tightened fuel economy standards include incentives for automakers to offer natural gas vehicles.
And more than a dozen states have banded together to pledge to buy light-duty cars and trucks for their own fleets, and are waiting to see which manufacturers step up.
"It may not be at every corner, but there are enough stations around that if you've got a 220-mile range, you're going to be able to get to a station and fuel," said Richard Kolodziej, president of Natural Gas Vehicles for America, who's driven a natural-gas-powered car since the early 1990s.
But the consumer market is a tough nut to crack.

America the Blasphemous?

We have been hearing a lot about blasphemy laws of late (see my article Free Speech in Islam to find out about the religious motives behind this push to abridge free speech).
But it may not be well-known that America has some knowledge of anti-blasphemy laws, for at our earliest founding the colonial leaders imposed them.
In the Puritan document "An Abstract of the Laws of New-England, as they are now established. Printed in London in 1641," recorded by John Cotton, a Puritan (a Puritan is a devout and extra-strict Christian), the laws against blasphemy are laid out.
Four rules in this Abstract, in Chapter 7, which pertains to crimes that deserve capital punishment or banishment, are relevant.
The very first rule says: "FIRST, blasphemy, which is cursing God by atheism, or the like, to be punished by death."
Next, rule no. 7 says that members of the church who do not conform to the church's doctrine "shall be cut off by banishment."
Further, a similar rule, no. 8, says, "Whosoever shall revile the religion and worship of God, and the government of the church, as it is now established, shall be cut off by banishment."
Finally, no. 11 says that "[p]rofaning the Lord's day, in a careless and scornful neglect or contempt thereof, to be punished with death."  This rule follows the Old Testament.
Clearly, then, free speech was severely restricted in the early colonies because the Puritan leaders took a literalist interpretation of the Old Testament (Exodus 22:28; Leviticus 24:13-16).

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Are Taxpayers Paying for Free Cell Phones?

This week, after a number of news programs ran stories about free cell phones being distributed to welfare recipients, I received a bunch of inquiries asking whether it was true. Specifically, I was asked whether there were free “Obama phones” being distributed on the taxpayers’ nickel.
Here’s the scoop:
Yes, there is a law in place to help low-income customers have access to basic telephone service. It’s divided into two programs: Link-Up America and Lifeline.
Link-Up assists consumers with the installation costs of phone service. The program pays up to $30 of the cost of installation and up to $200 in the form of a one year, interest-free loan for additional installation costs.
Lifeline provides discounts on basic monthly service at a primary residence for qualified telephone customers. These discounts can be up to $10.00 per month, or more for certain Native Americans. Generally, to qualify, your income must be at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines (these vary by location and size of family but for comparison, rings in at $22,350 for a family of four in the lower 48).
In some instances, coverage may include discounts for cell phone service instead of land lines at primary residences because realistically, cell phone service is less expensive in some areas than traditional service. Eligibility and type of program may vary from state to state – and this is why there is a flurry of confusion about the program being a product of the Obama administration. In Florida, for example, cell phone service was added to the existing program – in 2008, the year that Obama was elected to office. The conclusion from many folks was that it was a new federal program. It was not. It was an expansion of the existing program and implemented on a state by state basis.

Supreme Court faces another high-profile term

The Supreme Court begins a new term Monday with the most important civil rights agenda in years on the horizon and amid intensified scrutiny of the relationship between Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and his fellow conservatives.
If last term’s blockbuster cases involving immigration and President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act centered on the reach of the federal government’s powers, this term offers a chance to cast the 21st century meaning of the Constitution’s guarantee of equal rights.
A combination of cases asks the court to decide whether special protections and accommodations for minorities have reached their limit and whether society’s growing acceptance of same-sex unions warrants constitutional protection.
The justices will consider the continued viability of affirmative action in college admissions when it hears a challenge next week to the University of Texas’s race-conscious selection process.
And there are several challenges awaiting the court’s action on the most controversial part of the Voting Rights Act — the Civil Rights-era requirement that some states with a history of racial discrimination receive federal approval before enacting voting or election-law changes.
The court seems all but certain to confront the issue of same-sex marriage by considering suits against the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act. The law’s provision denying federal recognition of same-sex marriages performed in states where they are legal has been deemed unconstitutional both by the Obama administration and lower courts that have considered it.
In addition, the court will be asked to review a decision that overturned California’s Proposition 8, in which voters amended the state constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

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Your Universal Service Fee at Work

That Universal Service Fee we pay as part of our phone bill each month has helped double the number of "free Obamaphones" in the hands of people in Ohio since last year to more than 1 million.  While the mainstream media has ignored this story, the Ohio press is covering it.  Maybe interest in the You Tube rant of the now infampus Obamaphone Lady, now at 2.2 million views in three days, will help get out the story of how this program skyrocketed in a key swing state.   Then there is the issue of  the dubious ethics of having private businesses both actively promote a government welfare program and name it after an elected figure in their marketing materials
From the Dayton Ohio Daily News.
The program in Ohio cost $26.9 million in the first quarter of 2012, the most recent data available, versus $15.6 million in the same timeframe in 2011. Compared to the first quarter of 2011, the number of people in the program nearly doubled to more than a million.
Growth could cost everyone who owns a phone. The program is funded through the "Universal Service Fund" charge on phone bills - usually a dollar or two per bill - and the amount of the fee is determined by the cost of this and other programs.
A growth of $100 million in this program could result in an increased fee of a few cents on the average bill, according to officials from the agency that administers the program. The total cost of the program nationwide was $1.5 billion in 2011, up from $1.1 billion in 2010.

Swift action needed to save world's declining fisheries-study

Swift action is required to save many of the world's fisheries that are declining faster than expected, a study in a leading scientific journal shows.
A recovery of fisheries could increase worldwide landings by up to 40 percent, helping to feed a global human population that is forecast to rise from 7 billion to 9 billion between now and 2050, according to the report in Friday's edition of Science.
Coastal fisheries and sharks are among those hardest hit by overfishing, while flounder, herring and sardine are suffering less, the scientists wrote in the journal run by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
The study focused on the world's "unassessed" fisheries - those that lack good data about the size of stocks. Unassessed fisheries make up 80 percent of the global catch and the vast majority of the world's 10,000 fisheries, the authors said.
"Small-scale unassessed fisheries are in substantially worse shape than was previously thought," Christopher Costello, lead author of the study at the University of California, Santa Barbara, told a telephone news conference.
"The good news here is that it's not too late," he said. "These fisheries can rebound. But the longer we wait, the harder and more costly it will be ... In another ten years, the window of opportunity may have closed."
Unassessed fisheries are declining worldwide and are in a worse condition than their assessed counterparts, the study found. Many well-studied fisheries in developed nations have been recovering in recent years thanks to better management.

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Curt quips, gaffes and stumbles: Debates have history of memorable moments

Voters, pundits and political junkies will be glued to Wednesday night’s presidential debate to see more than just a back-and-forth on national defense, the economy and other issues.
Of equal interest will be the potential zingers, one-liners, jokes, gaffes and screw-ups that have made past debates timeless pieces of political pop culture.
Few remember who technically won the 1984 debate between incumbent Republican Ronald Reagan and Democrat Walter Mondale, but Reagan’s famous quip — “I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience” — is viewed as arguably the single greatest line ever uttered during a presidential contest and is by far the most memorable moment of that year’s debate circuit.
Then-Senator Lloyd Bentsen likely would’ve gone down in history as just another unsuccessful vice presidential contender were it not for his “You’re no Jack Kennedy” quip, aimed at Republican Dan Quayle, who often countered shots at his youth by boasting he had as much experience as the late President John F. Kennedy when he took office.
The 2000 contests aren’t remembered for their policy content, but rather for then-Vice President Al Gore’s audible sighing as his Republican challenger, eventual President George W. Bush, answered questions.

On the Road to Benghazi

In retrospect, the Democratic Convention highlighted a liar, Elizabeth Warren.  She was hired by Harvard law school because she lied about her ethnicity to gain affirmative action benefits, exaggerated her scholarship which was shoddy, practiced law for years in Massachusetts out of her law school office without being a member of that state's bar -- and possibly at the time a member of no bar at all.  She gummed on before the crowd about working for the middle class hiding from the audience that she had  made  hundreds of thousands of dollars representing big corporations in disputes against steel workers and asbestos victims among others. This week, Professor William Jacobson exposed all of that.
But she was hardly the only world class mythomaniac from Harvard law school on the podium at that Convention, the theme of which was Obama the  bold slayer of Bin Laden and destroyer of  Al Qaeda, the experienced and aggressive counter terrorist expert.  After all, his domestic policies, are so bad they were hardly anything  about which to spike the ball so the  brain trust picked international anti-terrorist hero theme.
If you've been too busy to keep track of the lies about the origin and perpetrators of the tragedy in Libya, Iowahawk has once again condensed this to its essence:
"Fast & Furious, Benghazi edition?"
Let's review the sad history of an Obama foreign policy initiative which resulted in the murder of our Ambassador, and three other Americans in an action which suggests that (reminiscent of Fast & Furious) the Administration let loose countless dangerous weapons , cannot trace them and has unloosed even more destruction -- including against the U.S. -- in this highly unstable region.

U.S. and Russian experts turn up volume on cybersecurity alarms

Uncontrolled security threats on the Internet could return much of the planet to an era without electricity or automated transportation, top U.S. and Russian experts said on Thursday.
Former National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden warned that the United States had yet to resolve basic questions about how to police the Internet, let alone how to defend critical infrastructure such as electric generation plants.
And if recently discovered and government-sponsored intrusion software proliferates in the same way that viruses have in the past, "somewhere in 2020, maybe 2040, we'll get back to a romantic time - no power, no cars, no trains," said Eugene Kaspersky, chief executive officer of Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab, the largest privately held security vendor.
The back-to-back presentations at a Washington conference painted the starkest picture to date about the severity of the cybersecurity problem.
The past two years have seen an escalation of such warnings, especially about what U.S. officials have termed an unprecedented theft of trade secrets and. more lately, mounting threats to infrastructure.
At the same time, Congress failed last month to pass legislation aimed at protecting vital facilities, which Hayden bemoaned, and Kaspersky earlier this year detected extremely sophisticated surveillance programs that infiltrated personal computers and energy facilities in the Middle East.

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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Portugal at flashpoint as austerity lights fires in mild-mannered populace

"We have reached the limit. People are tired of making sacrifices because you don't see any improvement whatsoever. Quite the opposite." Marina Padeiro, 36, is one of Portugal's estimated 1.3 million unemployed – a number that has shot up in the past year and a half, as a result of the stinging austerity measures imposed on the country in exchange for a €78bn (£62bn) bailout.
Sitting in a café in the northern industrial belt of Lisbon, she shrugs. "If there was some sort of hope you may see a decent future … the problem is they are not showing it to us." Her father, a retired lorry driver, says the evidence is on the streets. Out here – far from the capital's pretty, cobbled centre, which still attracts tourists – shops are closed up for good, or open only sporadically.
Marina has been out of work for three years. In 2009, the insurance company she worked for said it would not renew her contract "because of the crisis", one month before she gave birth to her second child. "It was like taking the carpet from under my feet." The family now gets by on €600 a month, their diet supplemented by carrots, onions and fruit from her father's allotment.
She is not the only one to have reached her limit. Two weeks ago, hundreds of thousands marched in the streets of Lisbon and other cities across the country, in the biggest protest since the end of the dictatorship in 1974. The demonstration forced the prime minister into an embarrassing U-turn over social security reform – one of the first times a government tied into austerity as part of a bailout programme responded so decisively to popular revolt.

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Spanish banks need over 50 billion euros to clean up balance sheets

The independent audit carried out by consultant Oliver Wyman estimates the Spanish banking sector needs additional capital of 53.745 billion euros to shore up balance sheets because of its exposure to the ailing real estate sector if the consolidation currently taking place among lenders is taken into account, the Bank of Spain said Friday.
The central bank says that without taking into account merger and acquisition processes that are under way and deferred taxes, the figure amounts to 59.3 billion euros, very close to the initial estimate in June by Oliver Wyman of 60 billion euros.
The government has been granted a loan of up to 100 billion euros from its European partners to bail out the sector. The administration is hopeful that some of the banks that need more capital will be able to raise funds privately, reducing the final amount required to 40 billion euros. The consultant carried out stress tests on the country’s 14 main lenders that account for 90 percent of the Spanish banking sector’s assets under different adverse scenarios.
“The results confirm that the Spanish banking sector is mostly solvent and viable, even in an extremely adverse and highly unlikely macroeconomic setting,” the Bank of Spain said in a statement.

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George Soros Panics About Romney Win, Mother Jones Scrubs Story

On Thursday, Mother Jones reported that billionaire financier George Soros was "panicked" that Mitt Romney would win the election--and then scrubbed the story without explanation. Mother Jones--the left-wing outlet that published the incomplete "47 percent" video of Romney--was reporting on Soros's reasons for donating $1 million to the Paul Begala / Bill Burton run Priorities USA Action PAC on Sep. 27.

Priorities USA Action is the same super PAC that ran the now-infamous "Soptic Ad" in which a man falsely linked Romney to his wife's death from cancer years after Romney left Bain Capital to run the Olympics. Soros now joins legendary misogynist and religion-hater Bill Maher as major contributors to the pro-Obama PAC run by former Obama Deputy Press Secretary, Bill Burton.
You might find yourself asking "So? George Soros has given millions to all kinds of groups. What's the big deal?" The donation is significant because Soros has always tried to play, at least in public, the role of the rich guy trying to "give back" by supporting "grassroots" movements--and not hack operations like Priorities USA, which are more focused on creating attack ads.

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Top Five Worst Obamacare Taxes Coming in 2013

Of the twenty new or higher taxes in Obamacare, below are the five worst that will be foisted upon Americans for the first time on January 1, 2013:
The Obamacare Medical Device Tax – a $20 billion tax increase:  Medical device manufacturers employ 409,000 people in 12,000 plants across the country. Obamacare imposes a new 2.3 percent excise tax on gross sales – even if the company does not earn a profit in a given year.  In addition to killing small business jobs and impacting research and development budgets, this will increase the cost of your health care – making everything from pacemakers to prosthetics more expensive.
The Obamacare “Special Needs Kids Tax” – a $13 billion tax increase:  The 30-35 million Americans who use a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) at work to pay for their family’s basic medical needs will face a new government cap of $2,500 (currently the accounts are unlimited under federal law, though employers are allowed to set a cap).
There is one group of FSA owners for whom this new cap will be particularly cruel and onerous: parents of special needs children.  There are several million families with special needs children in the United States, and many of them use FSAs to pay for special needs education. Tuition rates at one leading school that teaches special needs children in Washington, D.C. (National Child Research Center) can easily exceed $14,000 per year. Under tax rules, FSA dollars can be used to pay for this type of special needs education. This Obamacare tax provision will limit the options available to these families.

NYT's Jackie Calmes Defends Obama, Again Claims ObamaCare Will Cut Deficit

New York Times White House correspondent Jackie Calmes off lead in Wednesday's edition on Obama's struggle with the federal deficit, "Test for Obama As Deficit Stays Over $1 Trillion." Credit Calmes for the premise and the Times for the prominent placement, but as usual, Calmes waved the blame away from Obama and again clung to the dubious idea that ObamaCare would actually reduce the deficit.

"Four years ago, Barack Obama campaigned for president on a promise to cut annual federal budget deficits in half by the end of his term. Then came financial calamity, $1.4 trillion in stimulus measures and a maddeningly slow economic recovery," she wrote:
Now, despite small annual improvements, the deficit for the fiscal year that ends on Sunday will surpass $1 trillion for the fourth straight time. Against that headline-grabbing figure, Mr. Obama’s explanation -- that the deficit he inherited is actually on a path to be cut in half just a year later than he promised, measured as a percentage of the economy’s total output -- risks sounding professorial at best.

The fiscal imbalance on Mr. Obama’s watch, however much a result of economic and demographic factors beyond his control as well as his own policy choices, has increased the nation’s accumulated debt by about 40 percent and has saddled him with one of his biggest vulnerabilities. Facing off against Mitt Romney, Mr. Obama is on the defensive over deficits and debt nearly as much as he is over unemployment.

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Congressional Black Caucus Honors Eric Holder

Attorney General Eric Holder was awarded the Congressional Black Caucus’s Chair Award last Saturday at the Phoenix Awards Dinner in Washington, DC. In her keynote speech for the event, First Lady Michelle Obama gushed over Mr. Holder’s “outstanding contributions to our nation.” 

Contributions? Does that include Operation Fast & Furious, the government gun walking scheme that allowed 2,000 guns to land into the hands of already dangerous Mexican drug cartels? These guns are linked to the deaths of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and over 300 Mexican citizens. Hundreds are still missing and have recently been found in Colombia. Mr. Holder has not held anyone in the Department of Justice accountable.

The inspector general’s report on Fast & Furious said Mr. Holder did not have previous knowledge of the operation, but even if that is true, it suggests complete incompetence on his part. Mr. Holder and the Old Media claimed it vindicated him, but IG Michael Horowitz said over and over in his hearing that his report did not vindicate Mr. Holder. If anything, it shows he should not be the attorney general.
For example, when it came to Agent Terry’s death, Mr. Holder told Mr. Horowitz, “he would not have expected to be informed about the link between weapons found at Terry’s murder scene and Operation Fast & Furious absent some knowledge that ‘inappropriate tactics’ were used in the investigation.” However, Mr. Holder’s own Chief of Staff Kevin Ohlson said if he received any kind of information regarding Agent Terry’s death, then Mr. Holder should have been informed. 

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All Your Private Data Are Belong To Obama

When it comes to spying, eavesdropping on its citizens as well as the complete invasion of American privacy, the first thing that comes to mind is the Patriot ACT and Dubya. And with good reason: because while the rest of the world may "hate us for our freedoms", they certainly love us for the fact that the NSA usually can autocomplete sentences before they are written in any electronic medium (recall: NSA Whistleblower Speaks Live: "The Government Is Lying To You"). However, as it turns out that the first thing that should be coming to mind is none other than the current administration and Barack Obama. Here are the facts: as the ACLU reveals using documents released by the Justice Department following months of litigation, "federal law enforcement agencies are increasingly monitoring Americans’ electronic communications, and doing so without warrants, sufficient oversight, or meaningful accountability." How "increasingly"? Look at the chart below and decide.

From the ACLU: Between 20909 and 2011 "the number of people whose telephones were the subject of pen register and trap and trace surveillance more than tripled. In fact, more people were subjected to pen register and trap and trace surveillance in the past two years than in the entire previous decade."
And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
This is how Uncle Sam spies on you:
Pen register and trap and trace devices are powerfully invasive surveillance tools that were, twenty years ago, physical devices that attached to telephone lines in order to covertly record the incoming and outgoing numbers dialed. Today, no special equipment is required to record this information, as interception capabilities are built into phone companies’ call-routing hardware.

Pen register and trap and trace devices now generally refer to the surveillance of information about—rather than the contents of—communications. Pen registers capture outgoing data, while trap and trace devices capture incoming data. This still includes the phone numbers of incoming and outgoing telephone calls and the time, date, and length of those calls. But the government now also uses this authority to intercept the “to” and “from” addresses of email messages, records about instant message conversations, non-content data associated with social networking identities, and at least some information about the websites that you visit (it isn't entirely clear where the government draws the line between the content of a communication and information about a communication when it comes to the addresses of websites).

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Meaningless Words in Politics

As we enter the fall political season, we will hear a great deal of rhetoric from both major political parties and their many candidates for office. It’s important for us to remember, however, that words can be made meaningless by misuse or overuse. And when we as citizens allow politicians to obscure the truth by distorting words, we diminish ourselves and our nation.
For example, we’ve all heard politicians use the words “democracy” and “freedom” countless times. They are used interchangeably in modern political discourse, yet their true meanings are very different. They have become what George Orwell termed “meaningless words.” Words like “freedom,” “democracy,” and “justice,” Orwell explained, have been abused for so long that their original meanings have been eviscerated. In Orwell’s view, such words were “often used in a consciously dishonest way.”
Without precise meanings behind words, politicians and elites can obscure reality and condition people to reflexively associate certain words with positive or negative perceptions. In other words, unpleasant facts can be hidden behind purposely meaningless language. As just one example, Americans have been conditioned to accept the word “democracy” as a synonym for freedom. Thus we are conditioned to believe that democracy is always and everywhere benevolent.
The problem is that democracy is not freedom. Democracy is simply majoritarianism, which is inherently incompatible with freedom. While our Constitution certainly features certain democratic mechanisms, it also features inherently undemocratic mechanisms like the First Amendment and the Electoral College. American is a constitutional republic, not a democracy. Yet we’ve been bombarded with the meaningless word “democracy” for so long that few Americans understand the difference.

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New Contract Earns Chicago Schools 2nd Credit Downgrade – In One Quarter

Sound financial management clearly wasn’t a concern to any party involved in the recent contract negotiations in Chicago Public Schools.
They were warned that new labor expenses might result in a credit downgrade for the financially-strapped school district, and they chose to ignore it.
Now it has comes to pass. The credit rating agency Moody’s has downgraded the school district for the second time in one quarter.
Moody’s wrote:
“The negative outlook reflects the school district's budgeted depletion of reserves to fund ongoing operations in fiscal 2013; the moderate additional unbudgeted salary costs of labor contract negotiations, which have not yet been ratified by CTU; an estimated $1 billion budget deficit for fiscal 2014; and the sizable increase in pension contributions following a three-year relief period. Significant budget adjustments will be necessary, but the demonstrated power of collective bargaining suggests that future budget controls may be difficult for the district to implement.”
Chalk one up for the Chicago Teachers Union. It’s insistence on pressing for higher wages at a time when the district could not afford it has pushed CPS even closer to financial collapse. And Mayor Rahm Emanuel doesn’t deserve a pass. He didn’t have the guts to stand up to the union, and now schoolchildren and taxpayers will pay.
The downgrade will, of course, make it more expensive for the school district to borrow money, complicating an already messy financial situation.

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Obama's Abandoned Power Plants

If voters knew how America's economy would look after two terms of President Barack Obama's administration, Mitt Romney would win in a landslide.
In the 2008 campaign, President Obama told the San Francisco Chronicle that the “notion of no an illusion.” He noted that he favors a cap-and-trade system “[s]o if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can. It’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.”
While Obama did not get to implement cap-and-trade, he found other ways to shut down coal burning power plants.
In the name of a rigidly anti-prosperity ideology, Obama's administration, through the Environmental Protection Agency, is continuing its war on jobs and reliable sources of energy. And like most onerous regulations, the true costs are not immediately visible.
As announced by Lisa Jackson, the chief EPA Administrator, three new regulations for air emission standards have been announced, which will cost American consumers more than $13 billion per year. Also, according to estimates by the Senate Republican Policy Committee, other rules dealing with coal ash and air could cost an additional $90 billion annually.
Obama's claim to have an "all-of-the-above" energy strategy is a ruse. Instead, his administration seems determined to extend our economic recession, while government bureaucrats find creative ways to make energy more expensive.
More than 2,000 employees of the coal industry were laid off this year, and that industry expects 10,000 more layoffs in direct and related jobs. In addition, as reported by Human Events, leaked documents from the Obama administration estimates that one rule on water quality requirements will be responsible for an additional 7,000 fired workers.

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The New Fed

Nowhere is this more true than in government – which means we have to watch it closely. Unfortunately preconceived notions can make us impervious to events right in front of us and lead us to colossal misperceptions.
Take the Federal Reserve System. (All together now: Please!) Since the central bank controls the money supply, advocates of free markets and market-based money are understandably wary of its power to generate inflation. It’s inflated in the past and has the capacity to do so in the future. So attention naturally goes in that direction.
The problem is that while we’re watching for inflation, we might be missing the Fed’s real mischief elsewhere. In stage magic this is called misdirection.
Jeffrey Rogers Hummel, a macroeconomist at San Jose State University and a Freeman contributor (not to mention an old friend), says that’s exactly what has been happening. While inflation hawks have been busy looking for any sign, or even any word, of monetary expansion, Hummel writes, “[Fed chairman Ben] Bernanke has so expanded the Fed’s discretionary actions beyond merely controlling the money stock that it has become a gigantic, financial central planner.”
In other words, “Bernanke’s targeted and sterilized bailouts have altered the fundamental nature of the Federal Reserve…. [T]he Fed that emerged from the [housing and financial] crisis is no longer the same as the Fed before the crisis…. Most economists appear not to appreciate fully how drastic the changes are that Bernanke has wrought.”

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Matt Damon’s Anti-Fracking Movie Financed by Oil-Rich Arab Nation

A new film starring Matt Damon presents American oil and natural gas producers as money-grubbing villains purportedly poisoning rural American towns. It is therefore of particular note that it is financed in part by the royal family of the oil-rich United Arab Emirates.
The creators of Promised Land have gone to absurd lengths to vilify oil and gas companies, as Scribe’s Michael Sandoval noted Wednesday. Since recent events have demonstrated the relative environmental soundness of hydraulic fracturing – a technique for extracting oil and gas from shale formations – Promised Land’s script has been altered to make doom-saying environmentalists the tools of oil companies attempting to discredit legitimate “fracking” concerns.
While left-leaning Hollywood often targets supposed environmental evildoers, Promised Land was also produced “in association with” Image Media Abu Dhabi, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Media, according to the preview’s list of credits. A spokesperson with DDA Public Relations, which runs PR for Participant Media, the company that developed the film fund backing Promised Land, confirmed that AD Media is a financier. The company is wholly owned by the government of the UAE.

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The FHFA didn't evaluate decisions on 700,000 loans made by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, watchdog warns

The government agency created to prevent another home mortgage crisis instead handed oversight over to the very financial institutions it bailed out was suppose to keep watch on, a federal watchdog says.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency, or FHFA, was created in 2008 to oversee home mortgages handled by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac after the government bailed out the two mortgage giants with $187.5 billion in taxpayer money.
But only three months after it was tasked with regulating the financial giants, FHFA largely washed its hands of oversight, failing to evaluate 700,000 loans over the last few years worth more than $130 billion, the agency's inspector general reported Thursday. And that leaves taxpayers at risk again, the watchdog warns.
""FHFA’s role as conservator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is critical to mitigating instability in the nation’s housing finance markets and ensuring that the enterprises operate safely and soundly," the inspector general concluded, adding that "strengthening control over the agency’s conservatorship approval process will ... protect taxpayers from having to provide further financial support."
FHFA, however, remains unapologetic and doesn't think it needs to make any changes. "We believe that the approach we are taking to govern conservatorship decision-making is effective, and this approach remains appropriate given the size, complexity, and length of the conservatorship," FHFA said in a letter responding to the inspector general.

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Comprehensive List of Obama Tax Hikes

From the ATR website.

President Barack Obama has signed into law 21 new or higher taxes on the American people. The full list is below:

1. A 156 percent increase in the federal excise tax on tobacco: On February 4, 2009, just 16 days into his administration, Obama signed into law a 156 percent increase in the federal excise tax on tobacco, a hike of 61 cents per pack. The median income of smokers is just over $36,000 per year.

2. Obamacare Individual Mandate Excise Tax (takes effect in Jan 2014): Starting in 2014, anyone not buying “qualifying” health insurance — as defined by Obama-appointed HHS bureaucrats — must pay an income surtax according to the higher of the following:

  1 Adult 2 Adults 3+ Adults
2014 1% AGI/$95 1% AGI/$190 1% AGI/$285
2015 2% AGI/$325 2% AGI/$650 2% AGI/$975
2016+ 2.5% AGI/$695 2.5% AGI/$1390 2.5% AGI/$2085

The Congressional Budget Office recently estimated that six million American families will be liable for the tax, and as Americans for Tax Reform has pointed out, 100 percent of Americans filing a tax return (140 million filers) will be forced to submit paperwork to the IRS showing they had “qualifying” health insurance for every month of the tax year. (Bill: PPACA; Page: 317-337).

3. Obamacare Employer Mandate Tax (takes effect Jan. 2014): If an employer does not offer health coverage, and at least one employee qualifies for a health tax credit, the employer must pay an additional non-deductible tax of $2,000 for all full-time employees. Applies to all employers with 50 or more employees. If any employee actually receives coverage through the exchange, the penalty on the employer for that employee rises to $3,000. If the employer requires a waiting period to enroll in coverage of 30-60 days, there is a $400 tax per employee ($600 if the period is 60 days or longer).Bill: PPACA; Page: 345-346.

Combined score of individual and employer mandate tax penalty: $65 billion/10 years.

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U.S. Move to Give Egypt $450 Million in Aid Meets Resistance

The Obama administration notified Congress on Friday that it would provide Egypt’s new government an emergency cash infusion of $450 million, but the aid immediately encountered resistance from a prominent lawmaker wary of foreign aid and Egypt’s new course under the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The aid is part of the $1 billion in assistance that the Obama administration has pledged to Egypt to bolster its transition to democracy after the overthrow last year of the former president, Hosni Mubarak. Its fate, however, was clouded by concerns over the new government’s policies and, more recently, the protests that damaged the American Embassy in Cairo.
The United States Agency for International Development notified Congress of the cash infusion on Friday morning during the pre-election recess, promptly igniting a smoldering debate over foreign aid and the administration’s handling of crises in the Islamic world.
An influential Republican lawmaker, Representative Kay Granger of Texas, immediately announced that she would use her position as chairwoman of the House appropriations subcommittee overseeing foreign aid to block the distribution of the money. She said the American relationship with Egypt “has never been under more scrutiny” than it is in the wake of the election of President Mohamed Morsi, a former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. 

Escape from Utopia

Utopian rhetoric is so commonplace in our political life that we scarcely question or even notice it. Part of Charles Kesler’s achievement in I Am the Change is to help us see that familiar utopianism in all its strangeness.
Consider a commencement address by newly elected senator Barack Obama at Knox College in 2005. “So let’s dream,” said our future president. Make sure that college is “affordable for everyone who wants to go,” among other things, and “that old Maytag plant could re-open its doors as an Ethanol refinery that turned corn into fuel. Down the street, a biotechnology research lab could open up on the cusp of discovering a cure for cancer.” How did we reach the point where a politician could, as Kesler writes, “dangle before the citizens of Galesburg, Illinois, home of Knox College, the prospect not merely of a biotech research lab opening up down the street, but one that is on the verge of curing cancer”?
The answer lies in the three waves of progressivism that have washed over America in the last century. Kesler — a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College, editor of the Claremont Review of Books, and longtime ornament of these pages — has been studying this history for his entire career. He illuminates it mostly through close and characteristically wry attention to the words of the progressive presidents associated with each of those waves: Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson. He identifies them as the leaders of attempts to transform the country’s politics, economics, and culture, respectively.

How Much Do We Owe?

Have you ever wondered how much we as taxpayers actually owe because of commitments politicians have made on our behalf? Turns out, the answer is not as simple as you might think.

The place to start is with a report put out annually by the U.S. Treasury. There I learned that the federal government officially recognizes an outstanding debt of $17.5 trillion. This amount consists of $10.2 trillion in government debt held by the public, plus pension and retirement benefits owed to federal employees.
On the one hand, that amount exceeds our country’s entire gross domestic product and that’s pretty bad. On the other hand I was surprised that the number wasn’t even higher because… Hey wait a minute.
What about Social Security? It’s not on the list. What about Medicare? It’s not there either.
On further investigation, I found out why. “Social Security promises are part of current law and can be changed by Congress at any time,” I was told. Ditto for Medicare. And disability insurance. And survivors insurance. Etc. Etc. That’s a bureaucratic way of saying, “We can break those promises any time we want to.”
So let’s see if I’ve got this right. I’ve been paying Social Security taxes for some 45 years or so and the federal government doesn’t officially admit that it owes me a dime. The same is true for 45 years of Medicare taxes. But it does admit that it owes pension benefits and post-retirement medical benefits to federal workers. As a taxpayer, I’m liable for all the promises the government has made to its own employees. But federal workers are not liable (necessarily) for all the promises the government has made to me.
If you are a bond holder or a federal employee the federal government is saying, “We owe you the money.” But if you’re a senior on Medicare or Social Security, the government’s position is, “We can default on our promises to you anytime things get a bit tight.”
What’s wrong with this picture?

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IG Report Says AOC Hired Illegal Immigrants

The Architect of the Capitol's office has hired illegal immigrants to work on the Capitol grounds, a well-placed source told Roll Call on Thursday.
The source, who asked not to be more specifically identified because of the sensitivity of the issue, said the AOC Office of the Inspector General conducted an investigation that found a number of such workers on the payroll.
They were hired or contracted, the investigation found, as a result of a lax approach to background checks or holes in the agency's process for performing the checks, the source said.
The report that resulted from the investigation, which contains recommendations for strengthening background checks of AOC employees, has been transmitted to senior leadership with the AOC and Capitol Police, the source said.
AOC Inspector General Carol Bates declined to comment on the investigation and the report, as did Democratic and Republican staffers for the House Administration Committee, which oversees Congressional operations and would likely be aware of the probe.
AOC spokeswoman Eva Malecki said she could not get into specifics of the inspector general's work. She did, however, defend the agency's hiring practices.
"The AOC and its contractors utilize the E-Verify system to confirm the eligibility of newly hired employees, and have used it since the law was enacted in 2007," Malecki said of the voluntary government-run program that helps employers verify whether a job applicant is in the country legally. "In addition, new hires, whether they are AOC employees or contractors, undergo fingerprinting and criminal background checks by the U.S. Capitol Police."

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Why Turkey Will Never Join the EU

When Recep Tayyip Erdogan became prime minister of Turkey, it was anything but clear that he would last more than a few months. The military, the constitutional guardian of Atatürk’s secular order, had killed the Islamist administration of Erdogan’s mentor, Necmettin Erbakan, only a few years earlier. At the time, Erdogan was jailed for several months as a seditionist. Though he was nonetheless permitted to assume the prime minister’s office in 2003 after leading his Islamist party to victory, the man who famously proclaimed “I am a servant of sharia” still aroused great suspicion.
To survive and thrive, Erdogan would have to find ways to erode and nullify his Kemalist opponents. Thanks to Europe, he had cards to play.
It had long been a Kemalist dream to integrate Turkey fully into the West. The leaders of the secular order it was Erdogan’s goal to supplant craved acceptance into the European Union. Ingeniously, Erdogan grasped the brute truth: Turkey would never in a million years be admitted into the EU; Europe’s leaders would never tolerate it.
Of course, to say this aloud would be so déclassé, so downright Islamophobic, that the French and Germans would rather be caught sipping California wine. So rather than be forthright, they have constructed for Turkey an open-ended European-integration “process” — and is there anything transnational progressives love more than a “process”? This one is a limitless series of hoops for the Turks to jump through, at the end of which rainbow Ankara will be admitted to the club . . . probably right around the time hell freezes over or the euro becomes the world’s reserve currency.

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White House Moves To Head Off Sequester Layoffs

The White House moved to prevent defense and other government contractors from issuing mass layoff notices in anticipation of sequestration, even going so far to say that the contracting agencies would cover any potential litigation costs or employee compensation costs that could follow.
Some defense companies—including Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems and EADS North America—have said they expect to send notices to their employees 60 days before sequestration takes effect to comply with the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, which requires companies to give advance warning to workers deemed reasonably likely to lose their jobs. Companies appeared undeterred by a July 30 guidance from the Labor Department, which said issuing such notices would be inappropriate, due to the possibility that sequestration may be averted. The Labor Department also said companies do not have enough information about how the cuts might be implemented to determine which workers or specific programs could be affected should Congress fail to reach a compromise to reduce the deficit, triggering $1.2 trillion in spending cuts, half from defense, half non-defense. For 2013, that would amount to $109 billion in spending cuts.
So the Office of Management and Budget went a step further in guidance issued late Friday afternoon. If an agency terminates or modifies a contract, and the contractor must close a plant or lay off workers en masse, the company could treat employee compensation costs for WARN Act liability, attorneys’ fees and other litigation costs as allowable costs to be covered by the contracting agency—so long as the contractor has followed a course of action consistent with the Labor Department’s guidance. The legal fees would be covered regardless of the outcome of the litigation, according to the OMB guidance issued by Daniel Werfel, controller of the Office of Federal Financial Management, and Joseph Jordan, the Administrator for Federal Procurement Policy.

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