Archives for July 2013
Apparently I’m not the only one that has noticed Alan Grayson isn’t behaving like Alan Grayson. In one of my very favorite political blogs, Daily Kos Elections, it is noted that Rep. Grayson hasn’t been acting like himself.
2:20 PM PT: FL-09: Version 2.0 of Rep. Alan Grayson seems to be a decidedly different incarnation than the first, since he no longer seems to be interested in making headlines for the kind of incendiary remarks that once turned him into such a polarizing figure. Rather, says Dave Weigel, Grayson has been quietly convincing Republicans to support amendments that promote libertarian-ish values that Democrats can also get behind, getting many added to larger bills in committee. One, for instance, prohibited homeland security funds “from being used in contravention of the First, Second, or Fourth Amendments.”
Weigel argues that Grayson has become unusually effective at this sort of thing, and says he’s “getting… closer” to the title of “[t]he congressman who’s passed more amendments than any of his 434 peers,” but I’m not sure there are any statistics to compare Grayson’s efforts to. And of course, most of his amendments are very narrow in scope and may not have a whole lot of practical impact. But with a GOP-controlled Congress, getting anything passed has to be considered an achievement for a Democrat—and these outreach efforts certainly represent a major turnaround for Grayson in particular.
To be clear, as pointed out by DKE, Grayson finds himself in a decidedly different position than he did in his first iteration in Congress. Whereas Grayson formerly occupied a R-leaning seat and purposefully irked conservative activists with hopes of motivating his own base, he is now the incumbent in a far-left leaning District and needn’t feel concerned, except for the possible primary challenge (God help the idiot that picks a fight with this wily left-wing ninja).
It turns out that Grayson 2.0 has been working with and courting Republicans, wooing their libertarian instincts to get amendments passed on issues sure to pass the chamber.
But is the notoriously zany Rep. Grayson pulling a fast one by wooing Republicans just to leave them at the altar or does he seriously share some of our values? For any leftover survivors from the health care fight, you could be forgiven for having misgivings about the new, improved Grayson.
Republicans, step gingerly and keep your eyes peeled for the long game on this ideological, smart, strategic liberal. He is NOT your friend.
From Heritage Morning Bell 07/22/2013
Detroit is a showcase for the liberal agenda — and now it is bankrupt. More than 50 years of control by big-government liberals and union bosses have left a once-great American city crippled and deteriorating.
Last week Detroit became the largest city in American history to declare bankruptcy. Few were surprised, as the city’s been struggling for years.
The unemployment rate in Detroit is 16 percent, more than twice the national average. The city’s government-run schools have failed, with just 7 percent of eighth gradersproficient in reading. It takes police about an hour to respond to calls, and the city has more than $18 billion in unfunded liabilities. The city’s population has dropped by a quarter in just the last decade, as hundreds of thousands have voted with their feet and left.
It hasn’t always been this way, of course. For decades, the city of Detroit was a manufacturing powerhouse. The assembly line was perfected there, and brought with it the idea of a middle-class lifestyle based on manufacturing. Tanks and planes made in Detroit helped make the U.S. the arsenal of democracy. And after World War II the city boomed, producing cars that helped make the American dream achievable for millions. Motown Records produced music that defined a generation, with artists who remain household names such as Diana Ross and the Supremes, Marvin Gaye and the Jackson 5.
Many of Detroit’s problems resulted from a lack of political competition.Democrats have dominated the city council, and there’s been a Democratic mayor since 1962. One-party government quickly became bad government, featuring a stream of liberal, blue-state policies such as sweet deals for government unions. Now, though, the bill has come due for these liberal policies.
“For decades, Detroit sustained itself through the usual suspects of bad fiscal management: unaffordable borrowing, state grant schemes, raising taxes, and deferring public pension contributions rather than cutting city spending,” explain Heritage’s Alison Acosta Fraser and Rachel Greszler. “But Detroit’s tragic downward cycle has reached its end.”
There’s much Washington should learn from Detroit. The federal government has a staggering national debt of more than $17 trillion, larger than the U.S. economy. Fraser and Greszler note that future federal spending “will be driven to the breaking point” by entitlement programs.
Even as Detroit struggles, its state, Michigan, has taken a positive step. In December, it passed a right-to-work law, becoming the 24th state to do so. That will introduce competition and make the state a more attractive place for people to do business, and for employees as well.
“Workers in right-to-work states enjoy higher wage growth and, when cost of living is factored into the equation, better compensation than their counterparts in forced unionism states,” notes Vincent Vernuccio of the Mackinac Center. And by reducing the power of public-sector unions, the move should help the state and local governments reduce the pension promises that eventually dragged Detroit down.
F. Scott Fitzgerald said there are no second acts in life, but Americans of all stripes — blue and red — should hope he was wrong. In order for Detroit to succeed again, however, its leaders must realize why they city has failed.
The greatest supporters pushing President Obama’s health care
demolition reform plan were all unions. Unfortunately for their members, union goons got exactly what they thought they wanted. Now, in the immortal words of Reverend Jeremiah Wright, the “chickens are coming home to roost.”
Obamacare Will ‘Shatter’ Our Health Benefits, Cause ‘Nightmare Scenarios’
Labor unions are among the key institutions responsible for the passage of Obamacare. They spent tons of money electing Democrats to Congress in 2006 and 2008, and fought hard to push the health law through the legislature in 2009 and 2010. But now, unions are waking up to the fact that Obamacare is heavily disruptive to the health benefits of their members.
Last Thursday, representatives of three of the nation’s largest unions fired off a letter to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, warning that Obamacare would “shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class.”
Shockingly enough, Obamacare has turned out to be a disaster for those affected by it. Hmm… if only somebody had warned us about the doom and destruction Obamacare would cause.
How desperately do unions want to wash their hands of the Obamacare train wreck? Badly enough to temporarily shift political alliances.
Disillusionment of Obamacare shifts unions’ political alliances to GOP
Discord over President Obama’s health care law is forging strange alliances, with top Republicans reaching out to union bosses who helped Democrats muscle the legislation through Congress three years ago but now say the reforms will “destroy the very health and well-being of our members.”
Presidents of three unions, including the powerful Teamsters, sent a letter this month accusing Democratic leaders of breaking promises.
In the meantime, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican, is trying to team up with unions to “permanently delay” the health care reforms.
“I hope,” Mr. Hatch told the unions in a letter, “you will accept my invitation to provide relief from the law to all Americans and ensure that the law will no longer threaten access to insurance, increase costs, or deny individuals from keeping their existing health insurance plans as the president had promised.”
Strange Bedfellows, yes. But you know what they say about the enemy of one’s enemy. And nobody knows better than Republican elected officials the power of unions when they decide to get pissed off and organized at the same time.
Union Letter: Obamacare Will ‘Destroy The Very Health and Wellbeing’ of Workers
Now this vision has come back to haunt us.
Since the ACA was enacted, we have been bringing our deep concerns to the Administration, seeking reasonable regulatory interpretations to the statute that would help prevent the destruction of non-profit health plans.
As you both know first-hand, our persuasive arguments have been disregarded and met with a stone wall by the White House and the pertinent agencies. This is especially stinging because other stakeholders have repeatedly received successful interpretations for their respective grievances.
Most disconcerting of course is last week’s huge accommodation for the employer community—extending the statutorily mandated “December 31, 2013” deadline for the employer mandate and penalties.
Time is running out: Congress wrote this law; we voted for you. We have a problem; you need to fix it. The unintended consequences of the ACA are severe. Perverse incentives are already creating nightmare scenarios.
As easy as it is to do a victory lap a la “told ya so” on the Obamacare disaster, this country still has a major health care crisis. I’m talking about actual health care and bottom line cost. The Obamacare leviathan creates coverage in name only. If ever there was a case to be made for Repeal-and-Replace, the time is now.
Would that the unions had turned on Obamacare before November. But then, there’s always next November!
Looking to spice up your love life? Go to church, then the altar.
According to some high profile sources, devoted Catholic couples are finding satisfaction — not just in church, but also in bed.
Devout, married Catholics have the best sex of any demographic group, the Family Research Council said at an event Wednesday, pointing to a collection of studies from the last several decades.
“Those who worship God weekly have the best sex,” said Patrick Fagan, a senior fellow at the Family Research Council and a former George H.W. Bush official, in a talk hosted with the Center for the Advancement of Catholic Higher Education Wednesday. “I want to see this on the cover of Playboy sometime.”
But there is more to the story than just great sex for Catholic couples. Inside the statistics, there is another story about the disparity between the pulpit and the pews. Catholic attitudes about sex turn out to be even more forgiving than other groups.
Catholics have long touted their sexual superiority, and due to the Pope’s stance on contraception, they’ve got the families to prove it.
However, the YouGov study found that only 12 per cent of practising Catholics would feel guilty about using contraception.
An Amazon search on the subject of Catholic sex search brings up 2,552 results (however, many among them are about Catholic church sex abuse scandals), among them Holy Sex!: A Catholic Guide to Toe-Curling, Mind-Blowing, Infallible Loving by Gregory K. Popcak PhD, Sex: The Catholic Experience by priest Andrew Greeley and The Catholic Girl’s Guide to Sex by Kathleen Murray.
Greeley’s book, written in 1994, also contains some interesting statistics about the sex lives of Catholics.
According to Greeley, despite the Church’s teachings, 80 per cent of devout Catholic women approve of sex for pleasure alone. Nine out of 10 don’t think contraception is wrong and 66 per cent of single Catholics have sex, compared to 57 per cent of Protestants.
Will this exciting news be enough to bring Americans back to the struggling Catholic church? Probably not. But for some wandering sheep, it could provide one more incentive to take another look at getting right with God. For singles, it may lead them to look for love in the right places.
That’s nothing to feel guilty about.
By the way fellas, did I mention I’m both Catholic and single? See you on Sunday!
How’s this for a culture war?
The Daily Beast has unearthed a fantastic story about smart phones that might be a little too smart. Grandmothers might even call it too big for their britches. Where do we draw the line between our technology helpfully guiding us and making human decisions for us outright?
This is scary. Be afraid before your iPhone tells you to be.
Your iPhone may be making more decisions about what you use than you might expect.
According to a Daily Beast analysis, iPhones running Apple’s latest software will not suggest corrections for even slight misspellings of such hot-button words as “abortion,” “rape,” “ammo,” and “bullet.”
In total, our analysis found dozens of words that were not identified as jargon or technical words but nonetheless did not offer corrections—charged words like “bigot,” “cuckold,” “deflower,” “homoerotic,” “marijuana,” “pornography,” “prostitute,” and “suicide.”
“I hate to say it, but I don’t think this should surprise anyone,” says Jillian York, the director for international freedom of expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “Apple is one of the most censorious companies out there,” she explained, and cited the company’s history of censoring products in its App Store and its lack of participation in the Global Network Initiative, a nonprofit partnership between Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and a number of human-rights groups and other organizations advocating for free expression online.
How nice. It’s like Big Brother, only small enough to fit in your hand. And worse, because nobody elected
Steve Jobs the Apple minions to public office.
Humans, You. have. been. warned.
The cuddly characters on the Angry Left are gearing up for acts of civil disobedience yet again.
No, not taking it to the streets in defiance of the Zimmerman verdict. This time, the notoriously riotous Green Movement is pounding pavement over energy.
Energy, you say?
Like, rising gas prices? No, not that.
The mountain of red tape preventing new oil refineries (a potential employer of literally thousands of Americans)? Eh… nope.
Our anti-American oil policies which force the purchase of crude from states that hate us, and which pollute the planet with their sub-standard environmental protections? No, but getting closer.
Ok, I’ll spare you the suspense.
Green energy activists are protesting the Keystone Pipeline! And how serious are they about this cause, one might wonder?
While obscure environmentalist groups have vociferously opposed the pipeline, larger, more established organizations have encouraged their supporters to break the law in opposition to the project.
“The board is answering the urgency of this threat with our decision to engage, for one time, in civil disobedience,” Allison Chin, president of the environmentalist group the Sierra Club, wrote in January.
“It depends on the circumstances,” said one attendee of a February anti-Keystone rally organized by the Sierra Club when asked whether he endorsed eco-terrorism as a means to stop the pipeline.
“When we say ‘by any means necessary,’ we mean ‘by any means necessary’,” he added. The rally was also sponsored by 350.org, which has collaborated with CREDO on its civil disobedience pledge.
This is no one time thing. This is the Alinsky-trained, Che Guevara loving, militant Angry Left behaving as it does. In one sense, it isn’t news. On the other, it is a scandal.
Just in case there is any doubt about the existence or longevity of the perpetual destruction campaign by the Green Movement, allow me to put that idea to bed once and for all.
The term “economic sabotage,” which was first coined and is preferred by eco-terror groups, is too tepid. This is not like a plumber puncturing the tires on a competitor’s van. These violent acts are the kind of terrorism that historically has been linked to cells of extreme environmental and animal rights activists with names like Earth First!, Animal Liberation and Earth Liberation Front (ELF).
The theft of the rice seeds was non-violent, but dating back to the mid-1990’s and through the time of the September 11, 2001 attacks, eco-terror acts targeting research on GE plants had become all too common. The tactic was started by Greenpeace USA when it destroyed an Iowa research crop in 1996. That was greeted at the time with such public revulsion that the activist group instead decided to focus its efforts on using propaganda and public relations to sow public mistrust of genetic engineering.
On New Year’s Eve in 1999, for example, arson caused about $1 million in damage to Michigan State University’s architectural landmark Agriculture Hall, damaging offices involved in a project intended to enhance the use and commercialization of crop genetic engineering in developing countries. The Earth Liberation Front, which claimed responsibility for the attack, said that it was “in response to the work being done to force developing nations in Asia, Latin America and Africa to switch from natural crop plants to genetically altered sweet potatoes, corn, bananas, and pineapples.” (The research, under the direction of Professor Catherine Ives, actually was intended to enhance the nutritional value of African staple foods like sweet potatoes.) A U.S. Attorney in Michigan condemned the act as domestic terrorism.
The combined damage in North America alone from eco-terrorism was estimated by the FBI to exceed $100 million.
These terrorists did not limit their actions to the destruction of property. They planted pipe bombs, mailed packages booby-trapped with razor blades, and physically assaulted scientists at public events. By 2001 the FBI had characterized them as the nation’s most active domestic terrorist group. One ELF member remains at large and on the FBI’s Most Wanted list today. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, these radical domestic acts of violence against agriculture slowed as public tolerance for these crimes wore thin, but the attacks continued overseas with the support of groups like Greenpeace.
In recent years, terrorists have attempted to gain sympathy and “justification” for their actions by means of disinformation campaigns that relentlessly smear the safety and utility of genetic engineering applied to agriculture. This propaganda has been amplified by the mainstream media and by repeated mendacious claims from organic and “natural product” companies that benefit from these food scares. “Frankenfood” headlines may sell newspapers and organic food, but this kind of “black marketing” — enhancing the perceived value of your products by disparaging those of your competitors – can also encourage serious criminal acts.
Yeah. We can see that! Such great people on the nutty, Angry Left. These people personify the term “Lunatic Fringe”.
Is it too much to hope that at some point the MSM will call these terrorists out for what they truly are?
A debate on liberty by the Cato Institute:
“Liberty and virtue are values that both conservatives and libertarians tout as components of their philosophies. Historically, disagreements about the definitions of and balance between liberty and virtue have taken a back seat to other more pressing conflicts, causing the distinct philosophies to often be lumped together. As times have changed, elements of the old “fusionism” alliance have dissolved, and new conflicts have emerged that impose a strain on the formerly functioning, though imperfect, ideological partnership.
“Recent policy issues have highlighted disagreements in areas such as the War on Drugs, national defense, welfare, immigration, marriage, foreign policy, and many others. These topics represent important reasons to discuss the similarities and the differences between the two worldviews.
“We invite you to a timely debate about the two philosophies and their associated policy applications, as interns from the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute go head-to-head to answer the perennial question: Is libertarianism or conservatism the better political philosophy?”
Read the original post at Cato Online.
PolicyMic covered the debate with its own analysis:
“Two interns were assigned to each side. While they did come from the two institutes, the speakers were not representatives of their foundations and spoke out of their personal worldviews. As the debate moved into a variety of topics, from foreign policy to the role of government, from immigration to civil rights, it was clear that what are becoming two strong separate movements within the American right wing could not be more different.
“When talking about military presence in the world, the libertarian side argued against an interventionist policy such as the one taken by President Bush, arguing for free trade as a better tool to interconnect with foreign countries. The conservatives countered by manifesting the need to “defend ourselves from irrational actors.” These two diverse views on the conduct of foreign actors in the international scene are fundamentally different, setting apart two types of policy prescriptions coming from what used to be a solid faction.
“The divide was also evident on immigration issues. While the conservatives (two first-generation Americans) were insisting on strong border control for national-security concerns, the libertarian side argued for freedom of movement. According to one of the libertarian panelists, freedom of movement would benefit the U.S. by acquiring more human capital, boosting the economy, and redirecting bureaucratic immigration costs toward true security investment.”
From Sea to Shining Sea (of Tranquility). That’s how far America’s reach is destined to be, if you follow the dreams of some modern dreamers.
In case there is any question about whose hair brained idea this mess is, I point you here:
The Hill: Dems Pitch National Park On The Moon
Two House Democrats have proposed legislation that would establish a national historical park on the surface of the moon to mark where the Apollo missions landed between 1969 and 1972.
The bill from Reps. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) would create the Apollo Lunar Landing Sites National Historical Park. The park would be comprised of all artifacts left on the surface of the moon from the Apollo 11 through 17 missions.
The bill says these sites need to be protected because of the anticipated increase in commercial moon landings in the future.
“As commercial enterprises and foreign nations acquire the ability to land on the Moon, it is necessary to protect the Apollo lunar landing sites for posterity,” according to the text of the Apollo Lunar Landing Legacy Act, H.R. 2617.
Like totally awesome! Or not.
Christian Science Monitor: A National Park on the Moon? Fire Up the Mini Van!
Riddle me this: If the public has a right to visit national parks, and we set up a national park on the moon, whose responsibility is it to provide transportation (access) to that national park? Are we supposed to piggy back on Russian space probes to get there? Is Uncle Sam going to force Richard Branson to take us for free? Seriously, what is the plan? How do we ensure Americans “access” the the friggin’ moon?!
But Democrats aren’t the only ones with, shall we say, spacey ideas.
During the Republican presidential primaries last year, Fmr. Speaker Newt Gingrich had his own dreams from the dark side of da moon, for which he was roundly mocked in conservative circles.
At the Jacksonville Florida debate, Gingrich gave Romney a fantastic opening to out-flank him by overtly pandering to Space Coast voters by suggesting an outrageous new federal outlay for a “moon colony.” He was mocked by Romney, who said he would fire Gingrich for such a proposal.
If liberals really believe we should do some “nation building at home” before we venture off to build Afghanistan and Iraq, I hardly believe they should stand for the idea of turning stone into civilization on the moon!
In the immortal words of Tommy Boy, “Hi, I’m Earth. Have we met?”
Nancy Pelosi recently said that it is “almost a false argument that government has a spending problem” and according to the Dallas Morning News, Obamacare “opens the door to more waste, fraud & abuse.”
So what’s the problem? Nothing to see here, move along, decry too many liberals.
Unfortunately for them – and for taxpayers – the truth paints a very different picture!
This week we learned that among the 40% of agencies audited, AT LEAST $107 billion in fraudulent or excessive payments were found last year. That number, by the way, doesn’t include the Pentagon. Think $100 toilets seats, $400 hammers, Blackwater, etc.
The federal government doesn’t maintain a single list of all of its programs, one reason the bureaucracy wasted more than $100 billion on bogus payments last year, Congress‘ chief watchdog said Wednesday.
Comptroller General Gene Dodaro, who runs the Government Accountability Office, said his agency already has uncovered $107.7 billion in inappropriate and excessive payments in 2012, and that total is not yet complete.
Testifying before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Mr. Dodaro also said only 37 percent of federal managers knew if one or more of their programs had been evaluated in the past five years, and 40 percent were uncertain whether any review had been performed.
“Imagine beginning every month not knowing what money you have and not being able to track how much you’ve spent,” said committee Chairman Darrell E. Issa, California Republican. “Yet year after year, that’s where the federal government operates.”
Many of us on the sidelines like to carp at the notion that eliminating “waste, fraud & abuse” would be a viable way to bring down the deficit, but hell – 107 billion would put us 1/6th of the way toward the black!
Maybe an aggressive, top down audit of the federal government might help cut the budget without taking food out of the mouths of babies! (another red herring)