Friday, December 31, 2010

The Quiet Resurrection Of The End Of Your Life

"Shhh...Government Regulation Is So Much Quieter Than Legislation"

Most people don't remember Obamacare's notorious Section 1233, mandating government payments for end-of-life counseling. It aroused so much anxiety as a possible first slippery step on the road to state-mandated late-life rationing that the Senate never included it in the final health-care law.

Well, it's back - by administrative fiat. A month ago, Medicare issued a regulation providing for end-of-life counseling during annual "wellness" visits. It was all nicely buried amid the simultaneous release of hundreds of new Medicare rules.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), author of Section 1233, was delighted. "Mr. Blumenauer's office celebrated 'a quiet victory,' but urged supporters not to crow about it," reports the New York Times. Deathly quiet. In early November, his office sent an e-mail plea to supporters: "We would ask that you not broadcast this accomplishment out to any of your lists . . . e-mails can too easily be forwarded." They had been lucky that "thus far, it seems that no press or blogs have discovered it. . . . The longer this [regulation] goes unnoticed, the better our chances of keeping it."
So much for the Democrats' transparency - and for their repeated claim that the more people learn what is in the health-care law, the more they will like it. Turns out ignorance is the Democrats' best hope.
And regulation is their perfect vehicle - so much quieter than legislation. Consider two other regulatory usurpations in just the past few days:  On Dec. 23, the Interior Department issued Secretarial Order 3310, reversing a 2003 decision and giving itself the authority to designate public lands as "Wild Lands." A clever twofer: (1) a bureaucratic power grab - for seven years up through Dec. 22, wilderness designation had been the exclusive province of Congress, and (2) a leftward lurch - more land to be "protected" from such nefarious uses as domestic oil exploration in a country disastrously dependent on foreign sources.

The very same day, the Environmental Protection Agency declared that in 2011 it would begin drawing up anti-carbon regulations on oil refineries and power plants, another power grab effectively enacting what Congress had firmly rejected when presented as cap-and-trade legislation.
For an Obama bureaucrat, however, the will of Congress is a mere speed bump. Hence this regulatory trifecta, each one moving smartly left - and nicely clarifying what the spirit of bipartisan compromise that President Obama heralded in his post-lame-duck Dec. 22 news conference was really about: a shift to the center for public consumption and political appearance only.

On that day, Obama finally embraced the tax-cut compromise he had initially excoriated, but only to avoid forfeiting its obvious political benefit - its appeal to independent voters who demand bipartisanship and are the key to Obama's reelection. But make no mistake: Obama's initial excoriation in his angry Dec. 7 news conference was the authentic Obama. He hated the deal.

Now as always, Obama's heart lies left. For those fooled into thinking otherwise by the new Obama of Dec. 22, his administration's defiantly liberal regulatory moves - on the environment, energy and health care - should disabuse even the most beguiled.

These regulatory power plays make political sense. Because Obama needs to appear to reclaim the center, he will stage his more ideological fights in yawn-inducing regulatory hearings rather than in the dramatic spotlight of congressional debate. How better to impose a liberal agenda on a center-right nation than regulatory stealth?

It's Obama's only way forward during the next two years. He will never get past the half-Republican 112th Congress what he could not get past the overwhelmingly Democratic 111th. He doesn't have the votes and he surely doesn't want the publicity. Hence the quiet resurrection, as it were, of end-of-life counseling.
Obama knows he has only so many years to change the country. In his first two, he achieved much: the first stimulus, Obamacare and financial regulation. For the next two, however, the Republican House will prevent any repetition of that. Obama's agenda will therefore have to be advanced by the more subterranean means of rule-by-regulation.

But this must simultaneously be mixed with ostentatious displays of legislative bipartisanship (e.g., the lame-duck tax-cut deal) in order to pull off the (apparent) centrist repositioning required for reelection. This, in turn, would grant Obama four more years when, freed from the need for pretense, he can reassert himself ideologically and complete the social-democratic transformation - begun Jan. 20, 2009; derailed Nov. 2, 2010 - that is the mission of his presidency.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Reepicheep And Ronald Reagan

At This Year's Tail End, Unhand The Tail And Reach For The Next Great Task Before You.

Thank You Quin Hillyer and The American Spectator 

"Unhand The Tail"
So said the two-foot mouse, Reepicheep, rapier drawn in menacing fashion, to the prig Eustace Scrubb near the beginning of the latest Narnia movie, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. The tail, believes Reepicheep, is "the glory of a mouse," and his own tail is especially prized because it was given him directly by Aslan himself, the great Lion-Christ. Reepicheep had lost the tail (and almost his life) in battle in Prince Caspian (the second book/movie); and Aslan had been loath to feed the mouse's overabundant conceit of personal "dignity" by replacing the tail -- until all of Reepicheep's fellow mice had made moves to cut off their own tails in solidarity with their mousely leader. Aslan had relented and, with one breath, restored the appendage in honor of the love the other mice showed for Reepicheep.
When Eustace grabbed the tail, therefore, he was asking for a serious comeuppance -- and the mouse proceeded to give the boy a good and embarrassing thrashing.
By the end of that amusing thrashing, long before Reepicheep demonstrated to Eustace that great kindness can accompany great valor, my five nieces and nephews watching the movie already were rapt fans of this Talking Mouse, this great little hero who surely is one of the most memorable and admirable fictional characters of the 20th Century. A scene in the book but not the movie well captures Reepicheep's chivalry. An excellent chess player, Reepicheep nonetheless is prone to needlessly losing some games because he too readily sacrifices other pieces to protect the honor of their queen -- for that is how he would act, always, if he were in those pieces' places. A knight does not ask the queen to fight his battles.
When the Dawn Treader is attacked by a sea serpent -- in book and movie both -- it is Reepicheep who is first to counter-attack. When Eustace is turned into a dragon and feels miserably alone, it is Reepicheep who is the only one willing to brave the dragon's randomly dangerous fiery breaths in order to keep him company through long and otherwise lonely nights. Reepicheep swims with the mermaids and mer-men the voyagers encounter; he rides the bow of the Dawn Treader like a sentry; and he always is at hand to help the child Lucy Pevensie, discoverer and once-and-future queen of Narnia, in whatever hour of need might arise.
Mostly, though, Reepicheep feels a destiny, a destiny to find Aslan's country beyond the sea, whatever the risk and whatever the cost. The movie made mincemeat of the verse, but the book explains that a dryad nursing him in his crib had recited to him the following prophecy:
Where sky and water meet
Where the waves grow sweet
Doubt not, Reepicheep,
To find all you seek:
There is the utter East.
Narnia, unlike our Earth, really is a flat world; at story's end, one of the great lasting scenes of literature is of Reepicheep on a little coracle, having found that the sea's taste had turned sweet as the sky came down to meet it, paddling for all he is worth through the torrent and over the great falls at the world's eastern edge. Surely Aslan's country waited, just beyond.
Frankly -- as a ten-time reader, while growing up, of each of Narnia's seven books -- I never quite found C.S. Lewis's great, Christian-allegorical land quite so alluring or exciting again, after that matchless scene… until Reepicheep reappeared at the end of the final story, The Last Battle, to greet, St. Peter-like, all those who arrive at the gates of the Emperor's Garden in the heavenly country that lasts forever. With the laying down of his rapier and a deep bow, proud tail flourishing behind him for balance and visual effect, the valiant mouse welcomes all whose own good hearts have followed Aslan to journey's end.
As an old year closes and a new one beckons, here's the question before us all, a question that challenges us each annum. Do we boldly paddle ahead, no matter how small and unstable our vessel seems, into whatever awaits beyond the year's final edge? Or do we desperately hold on or, worse, cower before the unknown? Do we rest on laurels or, instead, try to accomplish more, do more good, and brave (as a verb) new worlds?
For our part, conservatives made significant strides this year, but the civic waves are not yet sweet enough for the lasting health of this, our nation. Like Reepicheep, we conservatives have been conditioned, in this case by Ronald Reagan rather than a dryad, to believe we have a rendezvous with destiny. Nor should we forget that we serve not just a nation, but the One who created all nations and endowed us with the liberty to choose. We are at this year's tail end. Unhand the tail, and reach for the next great task before us.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Mama Can't Take My Kodachrome No More

My Memories Are In Color - Kodachrome: 1935-2010

The New York Times :  "For Kodachrome Fans, Road Ends At Photo Lab"

PARSONS, Kansas — An unlikely pilgrimage is under way to Dwayne’s Photo, a small family business that has through luck and persistence become the last processor in the world of Kodachrome, the first successful and still the most beloved color film.  That celebrated 75-year run from mainstream to niche photography is scheduled to come to an end on Thursday when the last processing machine is shut down here to be sold for scrap.  “The best slide and movie film in history is now officially retired. Kodachrome: 1935-2010.”

Click "Watch on YouTube" to View Video

Monday, December 27, 2010

Who's Boiling Who ?

The Frog In The Kettle

They say that if you put a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will leap out right away to escape the danger.  But, if you put a frog in a kettle that is filled with water that is cool and pleasant, and then you gradually heat the kettle until it starts boiling, the frog will not become aware of the threat until it is too late. The frog's survival instincts are geared towards detecting sudden changes.

The following article was written by Roger Wiegand .  He buys and sells precious metals for a living.  He says that like the frog in the kettle, the most notorious criminal gang in the world is coming to a boil. Their games are over and paybacks reside just over the horizon.  Are we, the "Herd On The Ground",  truly on course to boil the "One World Elitist's" alive or are we, the "Common Man" the one's on the verge of being boiled alive?  Or could it be none of the above, and Mr. Wiegand is just spinning an entertaining yarn to drum up business?  Reader Beware ! 

"The Elitist’s One World paradigm is wracking apart under internet exposure, astounding failures in climate change, cap and trade, profligate bond and currency printing disasters and shocking new public relations failures by pseudo authorities to explain away the obvious. These bad boyz have been caught red-handed and even Chopper Ben admitted so in recent televised hearings."

A disconnect between these elitists and the common man seems a gulf too wide. Those that would control the world with stolen money, power and politics have finally met their match. At this juncture as they continue to flail away with old tools of fear, threats and illegal seizures, the herd on the ground has begun to fight back. We would suggest the cat’s out of the proverbial bag. The shaving crème is out of the can. Particularly in the USA, a new and nasty pushback has begun with a new internet army; and this is an army of revenge with many being armed to the teeth.
The battle has begun slowly but the tide has definitely turned. The internet turned out to be a weapon more powerful than atomic bombs expanding into a massive, news monster shining very bright lights on these conspirators, their henchmen, their actions, and their other lackeys on the ground. How ironic the net was designed as a defense department security and safety device. In the end its original plan may prove to be exactly that-the savior of our American nation.
Why was it reported Goldman Sachs employees are carrying guns for protection? Why was Mr. Bernanke having cold sweats and near collapse during his recently famous 60 minutes interview when he had the gall to tell us he wasn’t printing money? Why did former Treasury Secretary Paulson order preparation of written documents exculpating him from criminal prosecution before he approved TARP and handed out billions to his banker buddies who were busted and destroyed into insolvency by their derivative adventures?
Once their confidence of power has broken-up around these Boyz, their very small but formerly powerful international army will run in fear. At this point, it’s early in their unexpected disaster. They are really quite ticked at the audacity of “The Little People” who dare to expose them and to fight back. How dare they?
Here comes a nasty surprise, mister. And, the scary part is it might go way beyond a few visible bankers and politicians. It could go much deeper into the realm of associated hangers-on many of them innocents. If this gets out of hand, it’s going to be a take no prisoners and sort ‘em out later as in the old western movies. If you think I’m nuts just watch! I understand the American people.
We’ve got some news; the common man will not only dare, but he is coming for the instigators. If I were in their shoes I would be very afraid. The world is a small place and the Bubba’s are not going to take it any more. With their hard-earned savings, pensions, jobs and homes being destroyed, some of the more radical loose cannons will get busy with revenge. We think violence is the wrong approach. Legal prosecution and humiliation in the courts is the correct method but we suspect the Bubbas are out of patience and want retribution right now; not in five years.
We have some news for this Club of One Worlder’s and their nasty tools hidden in the U.N,, World Bank, IMF, Council on Foreign Relations, the Illuminati, and the northeastern USA university establishment that spawned so many of these types. Their others including a mercenary financial collection of bankers, investment bankers and other attached hangers-on are also in the guilty pile.
History tells us when economic disasters of this magnitude visit the people, all hell is going to break loose, socially and morally with one big and very violent ending as in World War III. We’ve predicted this long ago, but now unfortunately, our prediction; our vision is coming true.
The criminal cabal of banking elites have been in charge for hundreds of years. History tells us the typical life of a nation-state is 250 years. The United States is now 234 years old. Sadly, it seems the end of the road is in sight. This does not mean however, that it’s the end of the world or the conclusion of the grand and noble experiment of my free America. It just means that we are nearing a point where we need to a renew fight to retain what we had. Is this the time for Refreshing The Tree Of Liberty? All good logic would say this is the case.
Obviously, its time to cleanse this world and flush the bowl. Thankfully we have the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights to guide us. I have confidence that while things will be very ugly for awhile, that the ending will be a good one and those espousing unbridled greed and naked power shall meet the fate of so many like those who came before them.
First comes annoyance, then comes a small worry, then comes a new fear in the night that says yes, this could get out of control. Then comes the grand finale; the denouement, the indelicate erasure of the nasties. As we wrote in a recent essay about post World War I Germany and Austria, hundreds of bankers and politicians met their maker. Read “When Money Dies” by Adam Fergusson. This book tells the true story of life on the ground for the common man and woman in Europe during those tumultuous times. I say we just repeat this history.

What Are Some Signals This Trend Has Begun?

The bad boyz games are being exposed at a faster pace and the Sheeple are standing up to them using the net and other means. They are not going to take it any more-witness the Wiki-leaks thing.
Failed wars in the Middle East have been largely exposed for the real meaning and reasons; to steal oil and hold a political presence. Further, the defense industry prospers making all the expensive stuff that gets blown-up and destroyed.
Central banker games of QE2-3-4 or whatever are not working and the herd on the street has discovered where the money is really going- into insolvent banks, politicians pockets and for pay-offs to various voting supporters.
Global warming has proven to be about as dangerous as a warm, steaming cow pile in a field. The real danger is the heat from those agitating tree-huggers, greenies and the let’s save the world from cows, horses and corporations gang. They are playing games to take taxpayer funds to fund and promote these stupid projects. Corn-ethanol is another one that should be deleted.
The morons attending the Cancun, Mexico climate change conference all agreed the US and its partners should give them $100 Billion for defeating global warming in developing nations. These disturbed children are in obvious need of some serious therapy.
Those dopes running the European Central Bank want German citizens to hand over hard -earned billions to their bankrupt neighbors who have been on vacation since the Spanish-American War. Wolfgang Schaeuble, the German Finance Minister, whom we thought had his act together has now descended into the murk of those chortling, “The Euro Won’t Fail.”
Of course it’s failing. It already has as the ECB buys crappy bonds of failing countries like Greece, Portugal, Spain, and Ireland. Iceland raised the middle digit to the Euro-Bankers and we hope the Irish do also as Mr.Cowan, “The Coward” sold out his own people. So what would those bankers do if these financial victims-nations just refused to pay?  Iceland found out. They are doing just fine thank you very much. It’s quite disagreeable and difficult for a banker cabal to sue a nation and get re-paid. It ain’t gonna happen. Too bad for the bankers.
Another situation that cannot be thwarted in our view is the American gun and weapons population and those owning them. Most western-like nations in Europe and Canada along with a few others do not have the firepower of USA citizens. Instead of retreating, this group has been expanding as they fear the implementation of rules and regulations regarding gun ownership. Nobody knows for sure the number of guns in America. We sure don’t but having traveled a bit its obvious where the hunters and squirrel shooters reside. We would suggest that when things get terminally lousy and we are not there yet but working it, this is going to be a game changer.
Should the One Worlder’s expect to take-over the USA by force using their UN army or foreign mercenaries, it would turn into Vietnam again with the good old boyz being the natives and the blue helmet crowd on the losing side of the fence.
Reports we get say those sympathizers for the One Worlder’s reside mostly on the left and right coasts of America. Since they are about 20% of the national population it would seem they are out-numbered. In an interesting test of politics and perhaps some push and shove politics, who do you think wins that one?
One very smart writer thinks the One Worlder’s might try to install a new global or international leader or Let’s-Pretend-King to rule the world. I think that one fails as his days on this earth would probably be cut short quite abruptly. Probably Bubba and his friends would just pay a vacation visit.
Another early sign the bad boyz are under siege is the newer riots in Greece and some brand new ones in Rome. These are mostly kids who are very angry about losing all their free stuff which they feel they are entitled to as they pursue higher learning? at the university. These are not to rough and generally controllable with tear gas and clubs as the kids break windows and start fires. They usually end quickly until another one breaks out.
I say it really gets nasty next summer when the very bad and poor sections of America’s largest cities start to riot over FOOD. People have to eat and while 43 million are on food stamp aid, the distribution is not moving fast enough to feed the needy. Also, while the new tax extension bill comes with another few week’s of unemployment aid payments taking some out to three years’ coverage, there are as yet too many more in critical condition receiving nothing. If you thought the Detroit race riots were interesting in 1967 and the Rodney King California riots later on, watch what happens next year.

In Summary.

Astute analysts and observers watching this stuff have agonized over the amount of unbelievable damage the bad boyz have done so far. While it seems they are unstoppable, they are not for the reasons we’ve just discussed. Further, we think the forthcoming bond market crash removes their power and money and the entire global system caves in on itself. Then watch as the patriots and freedom fighters world-wide begin to take power. This is going to be the most interesting movie ever produced.
Now, more than ever, it is important to take the immediate necessary precautions to protect yourself and your families and friends. Traders and investors should be buying precious metals and select shares right now. In our newsletter we have a great list of trading and investing ideas for you. Meanwhile, you can never go wrong buying physical precious metals and holding them for security. We’ve had a constant run of nearly ten years in gold rising 15% per year so this remains a good trade. In the last twelve months, gold rallied over 34% and is going ever faster.
It’s not going to stop any time soon. In fact, we predict those annual percentages will rise even more and this offers a chance, arriving only once in 25 years on the historical cycles.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

God Loves A Cheerful Giver

"Scrooge Was A Liberal"
By Ann Coulter
It's the Christmas season, so godless liberals are citing the Bible to demand the redistribution of income by government force. Didn't Jesus say, "Blessed are the Health and Human Services bureaucrats, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven"?

Liberals are always indignantly accusing conservatives of claiming God is on our side. What we actually say is: We're on God's side, particularly when liberals are demanding God's banishment from the public schools, abortion on demand, and taxpayer money being spent on Jesus submerged in a jar of urine and pictures of the Virgin Mary covered with pornographic photos.

But for liberals like Al Franken, it's beyond dispute that Jesus would support extending federal unemployment insurance. This has absolutely nothing to do with the Bible, but it does nicely illustrate Shakespeare's point that the "devil can cite Scripture for his purpose."

What the Bible says about giving to the poor is: "Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." (2 Corinthians (9:7)  Being forced to pay taxes under penalty of prison is not voluntary and rarely done cheerfully. Nor do our taxes go to "the poor." They mostly go to government employees who make more money than you do.  The reason liberals love the government redistributing money is that it allows them to skip the part of charity that involves peeling the starfish off their wallets and forking over their own money. This, as we know from study after study, they cannot bear to do. (Unless they are guaranteed press conferences where they can brag about their generosity.)

Syracuse University professor Arthur Brooks' study of charitable giving in America found that conservatives give 30 percent more to charity than liberals do, despite the fact that liberals have higher incomes than conservatives. In his book "Who Really Cares?" Brooks compared the charitable donations of religious conservatives, secular liberals, secular conservatives and "religious" liberals. His surprising conclusion was ... Al Franken gave the most of all!

Ha ha! Just kidding. Religious conservatives, the largest group at about 20 percent of the population, gave the most to charity -- $2,367 per year, compared with $1,347 for the country at large.  Even when it comes to purely secular charities, religious conservatives give more than other Americans, which is surprising because liberals specialize in "charities" that give them a direct benefit, such as the ballet or their children's elite private schools.

Indeed, religious people, Brooks says, "are more charitable in every measurable nonreligious way."  Brooks found that conservatives donate more in time, services and even blood than other Americans, noting that if liberals and moderates gave as much blood as conservatives do, the blood supply would increase by about 45 percent. They ought to set up blood banks at tea parties.

On average, a person who attends religious services and does not believe in the redistribution of income will give away 100 times more -- and 50 times more to secular charities -- than a person who does not attend religious services and strongly believes in the redistribution of income.

Secular liberals, the second largest group coming in at 10 percent of the population, were the whitest and richest of the four groups. (Some of you may also know them as "insufferable blowhards.") These "bleeding-heart tightwads," as New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof calls them, were the second stingiest, just behind secular conservatives, who are mostly young, poor, cranky white guys. Despite their wealth and advantages, secular liberals give to charity at a rate of 9 percent, less than all Americans and 19 percent less than religious conservatives. They were also "significantly less likely than the population average to return excess change mistakenly given to them by a cashier." (Count Nancy Pelosi's change carefully!) Secular liberals are, however, 90 percent more likely to give sanctimonious Senate speeches demanding the forced redistribution of income. (That's up 7 percent from last year!)

Needless to say, "religious liberals" made up the smallest group at just 6.4 percent of the population (for more on this, see my book, "Godless"). Interestingly, religious liberals were also "most confused" of all the groups. Composed mostly of blacks and Unitarians, religious liberals made nearly as many charitable donations as religious conservatives, but presumably, the Unitarians brought down their numbers, making them second in charitable giving.

Brooks wrote that he was shocked by his conclusions because he believed liberals "genuinely cared more about others than conservatives did" -- probably because liberals are always telling us that.  So he re-ran the numbers and gathered more data, but it kept coming out the same. "In the end," he says, "I had no option but to change my views."

Every other study on the subject has produced similar results. Indeed, a Google study of philanthropy found an even greater disparity, with conservatives giving 50 percent more than liberals. The Google study showed that liberals gave more to secular causes overall, but conservatives still gave more as a percentage of their incomes.

The Catalogue for Philanthropy analyzed a decade of state and federal tax returns and found that the red states were far more generous than the blue states, with the highest percentage of tightwads living in the liberal Northeast.

In his book "Intellectuals," Paul Johnson quotes Pablo Picasso scoffing at the idea that he would give to the needy. "I'm afraid you've got it wrong," Picasso explains, "we are socialists. We don't pretend to be Christians."

Merry Christmas to all, skinflint liberals and generous Christians alike!

Bad News Tax Code

U.S. Tax Code:  "Ten times the size of the Bible with none of the good news."

Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI), the incoming chairman of the House committee that oversees the nation's tax laws says government spending must be reduced as part of efforts to reform the tax code. 

During a recent interview with NPR Morning Edition co-host Steve Inskeep, Camp said, "I think we have to begin by reducing spending from these inflated levels we're at, we need to begin to pursue fundamental tax reform so that we can get our economy moving again, and I think we can get some broad bipartisan agreement that this needs to be done".  Camp, who was elected to the powerful House Ways and Means Committee in 1993, says "I think we have to reform our complex, burdensome tax code.  It's 10 times the size of the Bible with none of the good news."  Camp takes over the panel from Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) who lost his chairmanship amid an ethics investigation.

When Camp speaks of tax reform, he says he wants a fair and efficient tax code but not more tax money and that curbing spending should be the No. 1 priority.  "The concern is if you go to higher revenue now, you will never get the spending reductions that you need to bring government back in line," he says. "And you'll have this continuing cycle of an ever-growing government becoming more of our economy, and that I think is what we're going to try to avoid."

This is where Camp differs from President Obama, who said last week that higher income earners should pay more in taxes. But the Republican says he doesn't want to focus on issues where he might disagree with the president.  "I'm encouraged by the things the president has been saying in general about tax reform," he says. "I think to begin the year pointing out where I might differ with the president isn't productive.  I think that we have to build some credibility with the American people, and I'm concerned about the average middle-class family that is really bearing the cost and the expense of much of what government spending has meant."

Camp's argument is that a simplified tax code can simply improve the economy, which eventually would mean more tax revenue. But he acknowledges that it won't be easy to agree on whose tax breaks go away.  "They're all in there because somebody really wanted them, so it's not going to be easy to change them," he said.

Changing who gets a tax break is just one of Camp's goals.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Bureaucratic Vampric Leap

FCC Internet Grab a Christmas Nightmare

By Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee's 7th District

There's no such thing as hospice for federal bureaucracies. No quiet corner where bureaus who have outlived their usefulness can go to bravely face the end. The undead need no such niceties; not when they can leap vampire-like upon the next great sector of American life and proceed to suck it dry in the name of "public interest", "fair play", or any other euphemistic glamour the Executive and Legislative branches can be lulled into.

This may sound like a Halloween tale, but the FCC's Christmas Week takeover of the Internet is the best example of President Reagan's maxim that the nearest thing to eternal life on Earth is a federal program.

Just four days before Christmas, the FCC will make its vampric leap from its traditional jurisdiction- the terrestrial radio and land line telephones that have fallen into disuse; onto the gifts piled neatly under our trees. The iPads and iPhones, Androids, Wiis, Webbooks, and WiFi will all feel the federal bite in a way they never have before.

Today the FCC, in spite of Congressional opposition and public outrage, is expected to adopt "net neutrality" regulations over the Internet. They will impose thousands of pages of rules on the most prosperous, creative, and exciting sector of the American economy. They'll do it- and then Congress will have to undo it.

The FCC's blind impulse to regulate before the new Congress can restrain them ignores a host of consequences that will prove ill for America's Creative Economy. First, in detaching the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from the Internet architecture they have built, the FCC is effectively nationalizing the web. The FCC does this in the name of "fairness", "non-discrimination", and "leveling the playing field". The consequence will be a restriction of bandwidth for users and a deterioration of the online architecture that ISPs no longer have an interest in expanding or maintaining. The underserved communities in this country who don't yet have access to broadband are now much less likely to get it.

Second, the FCC's hysterical reaction to the hypothetical problem of anti-competitive online behavior is also redundant. By asserting jurisdiction over the Internet as a communications platform, the FCC is shortsightedly ignoring the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) who already has sufficient rules in place to contain the bad behavior in the virtual marketplace the FCC seems so worried about. This sets up a real jurisdictional fight and points out what happens when the bureaucracy decides to create work for themselves, rather than wait for Congress to dictate to them.

Finally, when the FCC moves to regulate the Internet, they focus on those issues they understand: bandwidth, spectrum, and to a lesser extent content. They ignore emerging issues of fair trade, property rights, privacy, and copyright. In my view a more comprehensive approach to the new Creative Economy and how it can be protected is the most appropriate. Such a comprehensive approach can only begin on Capitol Hill.

The real issue here is not that the Federal Government lacks the authority to sensibly regulate the Internet. Nor, even, that the Internet is in desperate need of regulation- it isn't. The issue is that the FCC is running out of useful things to occupy their time. There is a real bi-partisan consensus that Congress should act first to regulate the Internet (or not regulate as the case may be). Industry and creative content providers who were coerced into this deal by an over zealous FCC Chairman should take heart. Like the breaking of dawn, the new Congress will prove a swift antidote to the federal bloodsucker you found at your throat this Christmas.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Public Employee's Benefits Problem

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie:  "The credit card is maxed out."

Courtesy of  Mike "Mish" Shedlock  "Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis"

Dan Kroft at 60 Minutes conducts a very hard hitting interview with Meredith Whitney, Illinois state Comptroller Dan Hynes, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on  "State Budgets: The Day of Reckoning".  As of now, Chris Christie is the only governor facing the problem.  "The only choices left are choices that people previously have said were politically impossible, that you couldn't do. You couldn't cut K to 12 education funding. You couldn't do those things.  You couldn't talk about pension and benefit reform for the public sector unions. These were third rails of politics. We are now left with no alternatives.  "We have a benefit problem," Christie said. "It's not an income problem from the state.  It's a benefit problem.  And so we gotta change those benefits.  This is what I say to public sector unions:  'Listen you can boo me now, but I'm the first governor who has walked into this room in ten years and told you the truth. And here is the truth. If you don't partner with me to get this done in ten years you won't have a pension.' And that's the truth."

Public Union Problem in a Nutshell

Here is the public union problem in a nutshell: Union members lobby vociferously for untenable wages and benefit packages. Greedy politicians willing to accept bribes to get reelected, go along. On any threat of reduction in benefits, union organizers get out the vote with massive fear-mongering campaigns promising ruin if they do not get what they want. At election time unions donate massively to candidates willing to back union sponsored agenda. Over time, school boards, city halls, and legislative bodies in general get packed with politicians accepting bribes (campaign contributions) from the unions.

If you want to see just how aggressive public unions can be, please see 15,000 Illinois Protesters Chant "Raise My Taxes"; Unions Getting More Aggressive and Obnoxious; Record Turnout in N.J. Tells Unions to Go to Hell

As a result of coercion, bribery, and thug tactics, cities go broke, counties go broke, states go broke.

What Should the Goal of Elected Officials Be?

The goal of public officials should be to provide the most amount of services for the least cost.

Unions typically offer the least services for the most cost. Unions will argue with that statement but it is very easy to prove. Put all contracts out to bid, then accept the best offer from the most qualified bidder. Let's see how many unions win the bid.

Six Common Sense
  • Scrap Davis-Bacon and all prevailing wage laws.
  • Scrap collective bargaining for public union workers entirely.
  • Implement national right-to-work laws.
  • Outsource every public sector job possible including police and fire departments to the lowest cost private sector provider.
  • Kill defined benefit pension plans for all new hires and for all public employees that do remain in the system.
  • Tax public union retiree benefits over a certain amount.

The key to solving the 3 trillion pension deficit (see Interactive Map of Public Pension Plans; How Badly Underfunded are the Plans in Your State?) are the last two points above.

1. Kill defined benefit pension plans for all new hires and for all public employees that do remain in the system.
2. Tax public union retiree benefits over a certain amount.

As a starting point I previously suggested a plan to tax 90% of public union pension retiree income over $120,000 but that is likely far too generous. $80,000 or even lower might be a better starting point.

Whatever, the number is, the beauty of my proposal is that tax proceeds collected can be fed back into pension plans to help make them solvent. In addition, my proposal would win the support of many union employees at the low end of the benefit scale. Those pensioners would then see an likelihood their retirement benefits would be guaranteed. Finally, everyone would benefit via lower property taxes.

Hard Part Is Implementation

The solution is straight forward and easy to understand. Implementation is the hard part. Union sympathizers permeate every major city in the country via the bribery, coercion, and fear-mongering tactics described above.

Please remember that public employees are supposed be "public servants". Instead their one and only mission is to raise your taxes so they can feed at the trough with pension benefits the likes of which the average person can only dream about.

That Chris Christie could get elected in spite of public union tactics tells you just how fed up with tax-and-spend policies people are. Huge pickups by Republicans, especially Republican governors, in the last election is a very encouraging sign.

However, the battle has barely begun. Please show up at school board meetings, show up at town hall meetings, and work for candidates who will stand up for taxpayers, not public union workers.

It is imperative to take on and oust from office every public union supporter in the country, town by town, county by county, and state by state, one by one. If you don't help, you have only yourself to blame for rising sales taxes, rising property taxes, and rising income taxes that most cannot afford, and unless you are a public union worker, tax hikes across the board that you probably do not support.

Please get out the message.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tea Party Tutoring

"We must wrap our minds around the Constitution."

Michele Bachmann, U.S. Congresswoman, Minnesota's 6th District

From Cubachi:  Rep. Michele Bachmann, founder of the Tea Party Caucus, will start a series of sessions on the constitution for caucus members and others.  The first session of this course will be taught by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in late January.  Kathy Arberg, the Supreme Court's public information officer confirmed Scalia has accepted the invitation and said he will speak about "Separation of Powers." 
Rep. Bachmann confirmed this will be a series of bi-monthly classes promoting conservative messages and instruction on a return to constitutional principles. In a way, this is sort of what Tea Parties do in many areas around the country. Average people come together to teach each other about the constitution and the history of the United States.

In an interview on Lou Dobbs’ radio show, Bachmann said this:
“We’re going to practice every week, if you will, our craft, which is studying and learning the Declaration, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights,” Bachmann said. “We’ll have a speaker, we’ll have questions and answers, we’ll wrap our minds around this magnificent document.”
Bachmann also has said she invited Judge Andrew Napolitano and Mark Levin.

Monday, December 13, 2010

No Dog Fighting And No Individual Mandates

Henry Hudson - U.S. District Judge, Richmond Virginia

Up until today Judge Hudson has probably been best known as the judge who presided in the Michael Vick dog fighting trial.  After today he will no doubt be known as the judge who began the dog fight over ObamaCare. 

From Bloomberg News:  U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson in Richmond, Virginia, said today that the requirement in President Barack Obama’s health-care legislation goes beyond Congress’s powers to regulate interstate commerce. While severing the coverage mandate, which was to become effective in 2014, Hudson didn’t address other provisions such as expanding Medicaid.
Hudson, appointed by President George W. Bush, found the minimum essential coverage provision of the act “exceeds the constitutional boundaries of congressional power.”
The ruling is the government’s first loss in a series of challenges to the law mounted in federal courts in Virginia, Michigan and Florida, where 20 states have joined an effort to have the statute thrown out. Constitutional scholars said unless Congress changes the law, its fate on appeal will probably hinge on the views of the U.S. Supreme Court’s more conservative members.
The case is Commonwealth of Virginia v. Sebelius, 10-cv- 00188, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia (Richmond).

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Silent Coup

The Moral Case For Unions Does Not Apply To Public Employment.

Published December 13, 2010 in the Wall Street Journel by Tim Pawlenty, Governor of Minnesota

When Americans think of organized labor, they might think of images like I saw growing up in a blue-collar meatpacking town: hard hats, work boots, tough conditions and gritty jobs. While I didn't work in the slaughterhouses, I did become a union member when I worked at a grocery store to help put myself through school. I was grateful for the paycheck and proud of the work I did.
The rise of the labor movement in the early 20th century was a triumph for America's working class. In an era of deep economic anxiety, unions stood up for hard-working but vulnerable families, protecting them from physical and economic exploitation.
Much has changed. The majority of union members today no longer work in construction, manufacturing or "strong back" jobs. They work for government, which, thanks to President Obama, has become the only booming "industry" left in our economy. Since January 2008 the private sector has lost nearly eight million jobs while local, state and federal governments added 590,000.
Federal employees receive an average of $123,049 annually in pay and benefits, twice the average of the private sector. And across the country, at every level of government, the pattern is the same: Unionized public employees are making more money, receiving more generous benefits, and enjoying greater job security than the working families forced to pay for it with ever-higher taxes, deficits and debt.
How did this happen? Very quietly. The rise of government unions has been like a silent coup, an inside job engineered by self-interested politicians and fueled by campaign contributions.
Public employee unions contribute mightily to the campaigns of liberal politicians ($91 million in the midterm elections alone) who vote to increase government pay and workers. As more government employees join the unions and pay dues, the union bosses pour ever more money and energy into liberal campaigns. The result is that certain states are now approaching default. Decades of overpromising and fiscal malpractice by state and local officials have created unfunded public employee benefit liabilities of more than $3 trillion.
Over the last eight years in Minnesota, we have taken decisive action to prevent our problems from becoming a state crisis. Public employee unions fought us virtually every step of the way. Mass transit employees, for example, went on strike for 44 days in 2005—because we refused to grant them lifetime health-care benefits after working just 15 years. It was a tough fight, but in the end Minnesota taxpayers won.
We reworked benefits for new hires. We required existing employees to contribute more to their pensions. We reformed our public employee health plan and froze wages.
We proved that even in deep-blue Minnesota, taxpayers can take on big government and big labor, and win. In coming years, that fight will have to be joined throughout the country in city halls, state capitals and in Washington, D.C.
Reformers would be wise to adopt three overriding principles.
First, we need to bring public employee compensation back in line with the private sector and reduce the overall size of the federal civilian work force. Mr. Obama's proposal to freeze federal pay is a step in the right direction, but it falls well short of shrinking government and eliminating the pay premium enjoyed by federal employees.
Second, get the numbers right. Government should start using the same established accounting standards that private businesses are required to use, so we can accurately assess unfunded liabilities.
Third, we need to end defined-benefit retirement plans for government employees. Defined-benefit systems have created a financial albatross for taxpayers. The private sector dropped them years ago in favor of the clarity and predictability of defined-contribution models such as 401(k) plans. This change alone can save taxpayers trillions of dollars.
The moral case for unions—protecting working families from exploitation—does not apply to public employment. Government employees today are among the most protected, well-paid employees in the country. Ironically, public-sector unions have become the exploiters, and working families once again need someone to stand up for them.
If we're going to stop the government unions' silent coup, conservative reformers around the country must fight this challenge head on. The choice between big government and everyday Americans isn't a hard one.

Opportunity Not Welfare

Americans sent a message to Washington in November that they would no longer tolerate a government that grows too large, too fast, while our most urgent concerns go unaddressed. Policy-makers in Washington must put an end to the overreach and start to address the need for sustained economic growth, job creation and government restraint. Much work needs to be done to tackle our fiscal and economic challenges - but I am optimistic that we can chart a new course.
Earlier this year, as the U.S. House failed to even propose a budget, President Barack Obama punted the issue of our fiscal future to a commission. Despite this lack of leadership, this commission defied expectations by putting forward a serious and credible plan aimed at reducing deficits. I spent the past year as a member of this commission, working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to advance solutions to put us back on a path to solvency and prosperity.
By putting forward a specific plan and advancing an adult conversation on this issue, the commission was a success. I could not support its final report as a whole because it lacked an adequate strategy for containing health care costs and it relied too heavily on tax increases. Nevertheless, the commission proposed a host of positive reforms that I'm eager to build upon as the House Budget Committee chairman next year.
In sharp contrast to the heated rhetoric of the campaign, I was encouraged to see the commission put forward a plan to make Social Security sustainably solvent, drawing upon several provisions in my own reform plan, the Roadmap for America's Future. The commission's plan also proposed hard caps on spending to help limit the growth of government and make an immediate impact on our ballooning deficits. And its tax recommendations contained the acknowledgement that lower tax rates are critical to economic growth. These proposals and recommendations can attract bipartisan support, and all will be crucial to our future fiscal and economic well-being.
But we cannot build a prosperous opportunity society unless we deal with the exploding cost of health care. The president's new health care law exacerbates this central challenge, adding new liabilities on top of our already unsustainable health care entitlements.
Government health programs can help fulfill the mission of health security, but the current structures of Medicare, Medicaid - and now Obamacare - rely on a faulty architecture that puts the federal government in charge on health care decision-making. Without true choice and competition, the only way to control costs in this system is to impose price controls, restrict access and rob consumers of basic choices about their own health care - in other words, to take the approach enshrined in the Democrats' new law.
The alternative would be to put our health care entitlements on the path to solvency and sustainability by slowing the growth of benefits for the wealthiest earners and making the providers of health care compete with each other for our business. Most important, we can deliver these reforms while making no changes for those in or near retirement (55 and older). On the president's commission, I partnered with Alice M. Rivlin, a former Clinton administration official, to advance these ideas, indicating that there is a bipartisan way forward on health care.
The explosive growth of government casts a shadow over economic activity in this country. Job creators are worried about the massive tax increases that will be required if we don't address this problem now. Although I support the bipartisan compromise to avoid massive across-the-board tax hikes on Jan. 1, we need to permanently put to rest the idea that we can chase ever-higher spending with ever-higher tax rates.
The deficit debate is not merely an exercise in arithmetic; it is also a conversation about the role and purpose of government. Do we wish to accept a cradle-to-grave welfare state, in which more Americans depend on the government than on themselves, or do we want to promote an opportunity society that promotes human flourishing, connecting effort with reward?
The former is where we're headed if we remain on our unsustainable course. The latter will require a restoration of the foundations for growth: low tax rates, spending restraint, reasonable regulations and sound money. Will we be mature enough to start laying those foundations now, before it's too late? Recent events leave me hopeful - but it will require committed leadership to seize this opportunity and meet our most pressing challenges.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Hopeful Humble New Beginning

Kristi Noem - A Breath of Fresh Air That Hopefully Doesn't Go Stale.

"Listening to the people, honoring our Constitution and making the most of the blessings God has bestowed on this great nation."

"Humble"... Someone elected to Congress who goes to Washington not to see how important they can become, but to see how much difference they can make in the lives of others.