Sunday, September 26, 2010

Global Cooling and the New World Order
...At its June meeting in Sitges, Spain (unreported and held in camera, as is Bilderberg’s way), some of the world’s most powerful CEOs rubbed shoulders with notable academics and leading politicians. They included: the chairman of Fiat, the Irish Attorney General Paul Gallagher, the US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke, Henry Kissinger, Bill Gates, Dick Perle, the Queen of the Netherlands, the editor of the Economist…. Definitely not Z-list, in other words.

Which is what makes one particular item on the group’s discussion agenda so tremendously significant. See if you can spot the one I mean:

The 58th Bilderberg Meeting will be held in Sitges, Spain 3 – 6 June 2010. The Conference will deal mainly with Financial Reform, Security, Cyber Technology, Energy, Pakistan, Afghanistan, World Food Problem, Global Cooling, Social Networking, Medical Science, EU-US relations.

Yep, that’s right. Global Cooling.

Which means one of two things.

Either it was a printing error.

Or the global elite is perfectly well aware that global cooling represents a far more serious and imminent threat to the world than global warming, but is so far unwilling to admit it except behind closed doors....

Obama Stimulus Made Economic Crisis Worse, `Black Swan' Author Taleb Says
...Obama did exactly the opposite of what should have been done,” Taleb said yesterday in Montreal in a speech as part of Canada’s Salon Speakers series. “He surrounded himself with people who exacerbated the problem. You have a person who has cancer and instead of removing the cancer, you give him tranquilizers. When you give tranquilizers to a cancer patient, they feel better but the cancer gets worse.”

Today, Taleb said, “total debt is higher than it was in 2008 and unemployment is worse.” ...

Krugman: We're Going To Have To Default On Our Debt One Way Or Another
...So what will happen? In the end, I’d argue, what must happen is an effective default on a significant part of debt, one way or another. The default could be implicit, via a period of moderate inflation that reduces the real burden of debt; that’s how World War II cured the depression. Or, if not, we could see a gradual, painful process of individual defaults and bankruptcies, which ends up reducing overall debt....

Citizens' Group Helps Uncover Alleged Rampant Voter Fraud in Houston
When Catherine Engelbrecht and her friends sat down and started talking politics several years ago, they soon agreed that talking wasn’t enough. They wanted to do more. So when the 2008 election came around, “about 50” of her friends volunteered to work at Houston’s polling places.

“What we saw shocked us,” she said. “There was no one checking IDs, judges would vote for people that asked for help. It was fraud, and we watched like deer in the headlights.”...

...“Vacant lots had several voters registered on them. An eight-bed halfway house had more than 40 voters registered at its address,” Engelbrecht said. “We then decided to look at who was registering the voters."...

...Most of the findings focused on a group called Houston Votes, a voter registration group headed by Steve Caddle, who also works for the Service Employees International Union. Among the findings were that only 1,793 of the 25,000 registrations the group submitted appeared to be valid. The other registrations included one of a woman who registered six times in the same day; registrations of non-citizens; so many applications from one Houston Voters collector in one day that it was deemed to be beyond human capability; and 1,597 registrations that named the same person multiple times, often with different signatures. ...

...The outcome of the efforts grew in importance the day after Vasquez made his announcement. On the morning of Aug. 27, a three-alarm fire destroyed almost all of Harris County’s voting machines, throwing the upcoming Nov. 2 election into turmoil. While the cause wasn’t determined, the $40 million blaze, according to press reports, means election officials will be focused on creating a whole new voting system in six weeks. Just how they do it will determine how vulnerable the process becomes.

Pastors for ObamaCare?
Wall Street Journal op-ed, Pastors For ObamaCare?, by Jim Towey (Director, White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (2002-06):

If the White House office of faith-based initiatives is going to be used as propaganda unit, it might as well be shut down.

I was George W. Bush's director of faith-based initiatives. Imagine what would have happened had I proposed that he use that office to urge thousands of religious leaders to become "validators" of the Iraq War?

I can tell you two things that would have happened immediately. First, President Bush would have fired me—and rightly so—for trying to politicize his faith-based office. Second, the American media would have chased me into the foxhole Saddam Hussein had vacated.

Yet on Tuesday President Obama and his director of faith-based initiatives convened exactly such a meeting to try to control political damage from the unpopular health-care law. "Get out there and spread the word," reported the president as saying on a conference call with leaders of faith-based and community groups. "I think all of you can be really important validators and trusted resources for friends and neighbors, to help explain what's now available to them." Since then, there's been nary a peep from the press.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Finally, Barney Frank Confesses
...For years, Frank was a staunch supporter of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the giant government housing agencies that played such an enormous role in the financial meltdown that thrust the economy into the Great Recession. But in a recent CNBC interview, Frank told me that he was ready to say goodbye to Fannie and Freddie.

“I hope by next year we’ll have abolished Fannie and Freddie,” he said. Remarkable. And he went on to say that “it was a great mistake to push lower-income people into housing they couldn’t afford and couldn’t really handle once they had it.” He then added, “I had been too sanguine about Fannie and Freddie.”...

Anti-drinking activists drunk with power
...M.A.D.D. activists are now pushing to make drunk driving a felony, and to lower the blood alcohol level standard for DUI from .08 (already lowered from .10 thanks to MADD activists) down to .04.

.04 is the BAC you'd get from a glass of wine.

It doesn't take much imagination to see that this would create a gigantic new group of felons.

Now, I do not defend drunk driving. But the direction in which this hysteria is going -- making driving after a glass of wine with dinner a felony -- is simply an outrage. This isn't a crackdown on drunk driving; it is neo-prohibitionism.

The M.A.D.D. speakers were also calling for a return to the 55 mph speed limit, because drunk drivers are said to be much more dangerous at high speeds. ...

Bias led to 'gutting' of New Black Panthers case, Justice official says
A veteran Justice Department lawyer accused his agency Friday of being unwilling to pursue racial discrimination cases on behalf of white voters, turning what had been a lower-level controversy into an escalating political headache for the Obama administration.

Christopher Coates's testimony before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights was the latest fallout from the department's handling of a 2008 voter-intimidation case involving the New Black Panther Party. Conservatives and some congressional Republicans accuse Justice officials of improperly narrowing the charges, allegations that they strongly dispute. ...

...Coates, former head of the voting section that brought the case, testified in defiance of his supervisor's instructions and has been granted whistleblower protection. Coates criticized what he called the "gutting" of the New Black Panthers case for "irrational reasons," saying the decision was part of "deep-seated" opposition among the department's leaders to filing voting-rights cases against minorities and cases that protect whites.

"I had people who told me point-blank that [they] didn't come to the voting rights section to sue African American people," said Coates, who transferred to the U.S. attorney's office in South Carolina in January. "When you are paid by the taxpayer, that is totally indefensible." ...

Pastor Admits To Sex With 16-Year-Old Parishioner
A central Ohio pastor is in trouble with the law, facing allegations of an inappropriate relationship with a teenager in his congregation; a child he was supposed to be counseling.

The allegations have rocked a central Ohio community.

As pastor, Daniel Monk used to preach behind the pulpit at Soul's Harbor Pentecostal Church in Millersport. Little did anyone know or expect he would soon end up behind bars.

The 47-year-old was arrested Saturday on a charge of felony Sexual Battery. This, after allegedly having sex with a 16-year-old girl who attended his church....

Dingell: It will take a while for ObamaCare to “control the people”
Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) defended the ObamaCare bill on WJR’s Paul W. Smith show yesterday when the host wondered why Democrats wait until 2014 to stop people from dying through lack of universal health care coverage. Dingell tells Smith that it takes a lot of hard work and preparation to create a system that will “control the people.” Freudian slip? I’ve clipped the complete question and answer, so you can decide for yourself....

Lawsuits Accuse Megachurch Leader of Sexual Misconduct
ATLANTA — Two young men in Georgia said Tuesday that the pastor of a 33,000-person Baptist megachurch, Bishop Eddie L. Long, had repeatedly coerced them into having sex with him.

In two lawsuits filed in DeKalb County, the men said that Bishop Long, a prominent minister and television personality, had used his position as a spiritual counselor to take them on trips out of state and perform sexual acts on them.

Bishop Long is the pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, an Atlanta suburb. It is one of the largest churches in the country.

“Defendant Long has a pattern and practice of singling out a select group of young male church members and using his authority as bishop over them to ultimately bring them to a point of engaging in a sexual relationship,” said a suit filed by one of the men, Maurice Robinson, 20. The other man who filed suit is Anthony Flagg, 21. ...

Why Is Paul Krugman Blaming Foreigners for the Financial Crisis?
...First, Krugman starts with a diatribe on why so many economists are "asking how we got into this mess rather than telling us how to get out of it." Krugman apparently believes that his standard response of more stimulus applies regardless of the reasons why we are in the economic downturn. Yet it is precisely because I think the policy response to the last crisis contributed to getting us into this one that it is worthwhile examining how we got into this mess, and to resist the unreflective policies that Krugman advocates. ...

...In absolving Fannie and Freddie, Krugman has been consistent over time, though his explanations as to why Fannie and Freddie are not partially to blame have morphed as his errors have been pointed out. First, he argued that Fannie and Freddie could not participate in sub-prime financing. Then he insisted that their share of financing was falling in the years mortgage loan quality deteriorated the most. Now he claims that if they indeed did acquire substantial amounts of sub-prime exposure (and he says they did not), it was because of the profit motive and not to fulfill a social objective. ...

...So Krugman shifted his emphasis. In his blog critique of a Financial Times op-ed I wrote in June 2010, Krugman no longer argued that Fannie and Freddie could not buy sub-prime mortgages. Instead, he emphasized the slightly falling share of Fannie and Freddie's residential mortgage securitizations in the years 2004 to 2006 as the reason they were not responsible. Here again he presents a misleading picture. Not only did Fannie and Freddie purchase whole sub-prime loans that were not securitized (and are thus not counted in its share of securitizations), they also bought substantial amounts of private-label mortgage backed securities issued by others. When these are taken into account, Fannie and Freddie's share of the sub-prime market financing did increase even in those years. ...

...In the current review piece, Krugman first quotes the book by Nouriel Roubini and Stephen Mihm: "The huge growth in the subprime market was primarily underwritten not by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac but by private mortgage lenders like Countrywide. Moreover, the Community Reinvestment Act long predates the housing bubble.... Overblown claims that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac single-handedly caused the subprime crisis are just plain wrong."

Clearly, Fannie and Freddie did not originate sub-prime mortgages directly -- they are not equipped to do so. But they fuelled the boom by buying or guaranteeing them....

...Of course, as Fannie and Freddie bought the garbage loans that lenders like Countrywide originated, they helped fuel the decline in lending standards. Also, while the Community Reinvestment Act was enacted in 1979, it was the more vigorous enforcement of the provisions of the act in the early 1990s that gave the government a lever to push its low-income lending objectives, a fact the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) once boasted about (see here and here). If the government itself took credit for its successes in expanding home ownership, why is Krugman not willing to accept its contribution to the subsequent bust as too many lower middle-class families ended up in homes they could not afford?...

...Finally, if he denies a role for government housing policies or for monetary policy, or even warped banker incentives, then to what does Krugman attribute the crisis? His answer is over-saving foreigners. In short, countries with trade surpluses, such as Germany and China, had to reinvest their resulting financial windfalls in the United States, pushing down U.S. long-term interest rates in the process, and igniting a housing bubble that eventually burst and led to the financial panic....

Coates: Obama appointee told me to stop pursuing race-neutral enforcement of Voting Rights Act
PJTV is broadcasting the testimony of Christopher Coates to the Civil Rights Commission live this morning, but they already have his opening statement available in PDF format at Pajamas Media. It contains at least one bombshell, which is that Obama appointee Loretta King ordered Coates to stop asking applicants whether they supported race-neutral enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The question became necessary because of resistance in the Civil Rights division from career attorneys to enforce the law when it resulted in African-American defendants rather than victims, an attitude that Coates first encountered in the Bush era...

Six months of ObamaCare: Two Minnesota insurers stop selling individual policies
... Bloomington-based HealthPartners says it is temporarily suspending sales of individual health insurance policies due to uncertainty created by the new federal law.

Congress passed health reform six months ago, but starting today new health insurance policies must comply with key provisions of the legislation.

In Minnesota, that’s meant changes to health plan policies that regulators at the Minnesota Department of Commerce must approve before companies can sell policies to new customers. The state hasn’t signed off on changes because the Commerce Department needs more guidance on certain new federal rules, said Amy Von Walter, a spokeswoman for HealthPartners.

“Due to continuing changes caused by health care reform, we temporarily have no long term individual medical plans for sale” the insurance company says in a notice on its website. “We are currently working with regulators to get affordable products approved to sell as quickly as possible.”

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota also is waiting for final approval before it can resume sales of its health plans for individuals, said Pam Lux, a spokeswoman for the Eagan-based insurer.

Instead of relieving the uncertainty by passing ObamaCare, the administration and Congress has made the environment so uncertain that insurers can’t even sell their plans — regardless of whether they comply with the mandates. ...

Mao's Great Leap Forward 'killed 45 million in four years'
Mao Zedong, founder of the People's Republic of China, qualifies as the greatest mass murderer in world history, an expert who had unprecedented access to official Communist Party archives said yesterday.

Speaking at The Independent Woodstock Literary Festival, Frank Dikötter, a Hong Kong-based historian, said he found that during the time that Mao was enforcing the Great Leap Forward in 1958, in an effort to catch up with the economy of the Western world, he was responsible for overseeing "one of the worst catastrophes the world has ever known".

Mr Dikötter, who has been studying Chinese rural history from 1958 to 1962, when the nation was facing a famine, compared the systematic torture, brutality, starvation and killing of Chinese peasants to the Second World War in its magnitude. At least 45 million people were worked, starved or beaten to death in China over these four years; the worldwide death toll of the Second World War was 55 million. ...

...State retribution for tiny thefts, such as stealing a potato, even by a child, would include being tied up and thrown into a pond; parents were forced to bury their children alive or were doused in excrement and urine, others were set alight, or had a nose or ear cut off. One record shows how a man was branded with hot metal. People were forced to work naked in the middle of winter; 80 per cent of all the villagers in one region of a quarter of a million Chinese were banned from the official canteen because they were too old or ill to be effective workers, so were deliberately starved to death. ...

UK Proposes All Paychecks Go to the State First
The UK's tax collection agency is putting forth a proposal that all employers send employee paychecks to the government, after which the government would deduct what it deems as the appropriate tax and pay the employees by bank transfer.

The proposal by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) stresses the need for employers to provide real-time information to the government so that it can monitor all payments and make a better assessment of whether the correct tax is being paid....

Could drug trafficking bill lead to prosecutions of Americans who get high in Amsterdam?
...Sponsored by hard-line drug warrior Texas Republican Rep. Lamar Smith, and cosponsored by California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, the Drug Trafficking Safe Harbor Elimination Act of 2010 will likely pass tomorrow despite the DPA’s argument that broad language in the bill could one day serve as an excuse to prosecute Americans for possessing drugs outside the U.S. The bill also has a counterpart in the Senate.

“An American treatment provider working with doctors in England, Denmark, Germany, or Switzerland to provide heroin-assisted treatment and sterile syringes to heroin users in those countries could face arrest. As could an otherwise law-abiding American planning with some friends to use marijuana legally in the Netherlands. Even though this bill references drug trafficking in the title, it also criminalizes conspiring to possess and use marijuana or other drugs in other countries if more than one person is involved — even if drug use is decriminalized in that country,” the DPA’s Facebook note warns...

Give States a Tool to Check Federal Power
George Mason and James Madison were two Virginians who, while initially differing on the wisdom of adding a Bill of Rights to the Constitution, ended up working together to craft the first 10 amendments.

The movement to amend the Constitution to better protect rights prevailed because they compromised and worked across the aisle. They didn't blame Republicans or Democrats -- then Federalists and Anti-Federalists -- or issue nasty press releases and hold political rallies. They overcame the Federalist resistance in Congress to a Bill of Rights by joining together to send a message to the federal government that there are limits to expanding its power.

Virginia needs to do the same today by leading the charge to amend the U.S. Constitution to give two-thirds of states the power to repeal an act of Congress.

These same men who created our Constitution and Bill of Rights crafted the documents to give much more power to the states than the states currently have. Today, states are shackled with unfunded mandates and weighed down with high levels of federal debt -- that the states will be required to repay.

Yet rather than blame the other party, these Virginia revolutionaries would tell us that the problem that needs to be addressed is power -- no matter which party may happen to wield it. More accurately, the problem is an imbalance of power, with power held by and concentrated in a distant and unaccountable federal bureaucracy....

Big health insurers to stop selling new child-only policies
Anthem Blue Cross, Aetna Inc. and others say they will make the move as soon as Thursday when parts of the new healthcare law take effect. They cite potentially huge and unexpected costs for insuring children.

Major health insurance companies in California and other states have decided to stop selling policies for children rather than comply with a new federal healthcare law that bars them from rejecting youngsters with preexisting medical conditions.

Anthem Blue Cross, Aetna Inc. and others will halt new child-only policies in California, Illinois, Florida, Connecticut and elsewhere as early as Thursday when provisions of the nation's new healthcare law take effect, including a requirement that insurers cover children under age 19 regardless of their health histories.

The action will apply only to new coverage sought for children and not to existing child-only plans, family policies or insurance provided to youngsters through their parents' employers. An estimated 80,000 California children currently without insurance — and as many as 500,000 nationwide — would be affected, according to experts.

Insurers said they were acting because the new federal requirement could create huge and unexpected costs for covering children. They said the rule might prompt parents to buy policies only after their kids became sick, producing a glut of ill youngsters to insure. As a result, they said, many companies would flee the marketplace, leaving behind a handful to shoulder a huge financial burden....

Obama seeks divine intervention on health care
With nothing else working, President Barack Obama is asking religious leaders to help him sell the public on health care reform.

POLITICO listened in to an Oval Office conference call Tuesday, where Obama and top administration officials, beseeched thousands of faith-based and community organizations to preach the gospel on new insurance reforms, chiefly the Patients’ Bill of Rights.

“Get out there and spread the word,” Obama told leaders from across the religious spectrum on the conference call, organized by the Health and Human Services Center for Faith-Based and Community Partnerships....

...Obama instructed faith leaders to treat the new law as settled fact and use their perches of power to convey that message to congregants and friends....

Is rising inequality in America exaggerated?
...In his final effort, Mr Noah does touch on the possibility that reports of rising inequality have been greatly exaggerated only to wave it off. Mr Noah cites the Cato Institute's Alan Reynolds, but he might have checked in with Robert Gordon, an economist from Northwestern University. In a recent paper weaving together several strands of new research, Mr Gordon reports that improved use of income datasets "shows that there was no increase of inequality after 1993 in the bottom 99 percent of the population, and can be entirely explained by the behavior of income in the top 1 percent." So we are left needing an explanation for the rise of "the stinking rich", as Mr Noah calls them. But when it comes to rising inequality, that's all there is to explain....

...Mr Gordon's surprising conclusion is based upon recent studies showing that measured income inequality has been overstated due to inadequacies in traditional methods for constructing price indices and estimating real income....

Former pastor faces 31 new charges for alleged child porn possession, exploitation
Former pastor Travis J. Gandy was charged Friday with 31 felonies based on explicit photos and text messages he allegedly exchanged with two teenage boys from his church.

A criminal complaint said Gandy exchanged more than 4,000 messages with the boys — ages 15 and 16 — and sent one boy sexually explicit pictures of the other....

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Trifle with the government? Just ask Jacob Maged
...After Maged spent three days in jail, the judge canceled the rest of his sentence, remitted the fine and, according to the Times, "gave him a little lecture on the importance of cooperation as opposed to individualism." The judge emphasized that people "should uphold the president . . . and General Johnson" in their struggle against -- among other miscreants -- "price cutters." Then, like a feudal lord granting a dispensation to a serf, the judge promised to have Maged "measure me for a new suit."

Maged, suitably broken to the saddle of government, removed from his shop window the placard advertising 35-cent pressings and replaced it with a Blue Eagle. "Maged," reported the Times, "if not quite so ruggedly individualistic as formerly, was a free man once more." So that is freedom -- embracing, under coercion, a government propaganda symbol. ...

...In 1937, FDR asked in his second inaugural address for "unimagined power" to enforce "proper subordination" of private interests to public authority. The biggest industrial collapse in American history occurred eight years after the stock market crash of 1929, and nearly five years into the New Deal, in . . . 1937.

Maged died here of cancer on March 31, 1939. He was 54. He remains a cautionary example of the wages of sin, understood by the progressives of his day as insubordination toward government that knows everything....

Another CBC scholarship scandal?
The Congressional Black Caucus has another scandal on its hands relating to the use of their charitable scholarships and nepotism. After the exposure of Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson’s awards to her grandchildren and other family members and her attempts to mislead people about her actions, the CBC promised to audit the program and the use their members make of it. They can add another member to the priority list, according to Politico:

Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.) awarded three scholarships from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation to his stepdaughter and wife’s niece between 2003 and 2005, according to records from the non-profit group. …

In 2003, Emmaundia Whitaker, the niece of Vivian Creighton Bishop, who is Bishop’s wife, was awarded an education scholarship. She was also given a similar award in 2005.

And in 2003, Aayesha Owens Reese, the congressman’s stepdaughter, was granted an education scholarship as well.

OneUnited Bank received special treatment beyond what was disclosed
From the moment Boston-based OneUnited Bank began seeking a federal bailout in the summer of 2008, it received special treatment that went beyond what the Treasury Department or the bank and its political supporters have previously disclosed.

Congress adjusted the law and regulators broke with customary practices, despite an explicit internal warning that the bank was in financial trouble. Among other exceptions, the bank was allowed to count as part of its capital $12 million in federal bailout money - before the aid arrived.

OneUnited was the only bank to receive all of these considerations among the 707 recipients of money from the Troubled Assets Relief Program, according to documents and interviews.

A close look at how OneUnited - which is now at the center of an ethics investigation involving Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) - won bailout money shows how the Treasury Department, federal regulators and another influential lawmaker helped it despite its record of bad investments and extravagant spending. ...

...A Washington Post review of documents and interviews with many involved in the decisions show that regulators flagged the bank early on for its "highly visible" connection - in OneUnited's case, a former board member who is married to Waters, the chairman of an important banking subcommittee. The alert was part of a previously undisclosed practice at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. of trying to identify banks that might cause "unnecessary press or public relations" problems, according to testimony a top FDIC official gave to House ethics investigators. ...

Harlem Pastor Accused of Sex Abuse Resigns
A prominent Harlem pastor accused of sexually abusing children in the 1980s has resigned.

The Archdiocese of New York says whether Monsignor Wallace Harris will be formally removed from the priesthood will be decided by the Vatican's internal affairs office....

Arcata pastor Dino Cardelli faces molestation charges
An Arcata pastor is expected to be arraigned today on molestation charges and remains held in the Humboldt County jail on $750,000 bail, according to the Humboldt County District Attorney's Office.

Dino Cardelli, 49, of McKinleyville, who has served as the pastor at Calvary Chapel of Arcata for 15 years, was arrested last Thursday by Humboldt County Sheriff's deputies after the agency received a report from an official at the school of the alleged victim in the case, according to Humboldt County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Brenda Godsey.

Prosecutors charged Cardelli Monday with a single count of committing the recurring sexual abuse of a child under the age of 14, one count of committing lewd and lascivious acts with a minor and two counts of oral copulation with a minor, according to Humboldt County Deputy District Attorney Kelly Neel. ...

Lake Orion pastor arrested, accused of soliciting a minor
A Lake Orion minister has been arrested by the FBI on charges that he attempted to solicit a minor.

Rev. William Bendert of the King of Kings Lutheran Church was arrested Friday at a Troy hotel, said John Shoup, supervisory senior special agent with the FBI’s Oakland County resident agency.

Shoup said Bendert had arrived at the hotel with the intention of meeting a minor. Bendert was expected to appear in court today, said Shoup....

Pa. pastor denies involvement in wife's 2008 death
TANNERSVILLE, Pa. — A retired Pennsylvania pastor whose first wife died under suspicious circumstances more than 11 years ago was charged Monday with killing his second wife and staging a car accident to cover it up. The accusations have prompted police to re-examine the first wife's death....

Gangster government stifles criticism of Obamacare
"There will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases."

That sounds like a stern headmistress dressing down some sophomores who have been misbehaving. But it's actually from a letter sent Thursday from Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to Karen Ignagni, president of America's Health Insurance Plans -- the chief lobbyist for private health insurance companies.

Secretary Sebelius objects to claims by health insurers that they are raising premiums because of increased costs imposed by the Obamacare law passed by Congress last March....

...And there's a threat. "We will also keep track of insurers with a record of unjustified rate increases: Those plans may be excluded from health insurance Exchanges in 2014."

That's a significant date, the first year in which state insurance exchanges are slated to get a monopoly on the issuance of individual health insurance policies. Sebelius is threatening to put health insurers out of business in a substantial portion of the market if they state that Obamacare is boosting their costs....

Capitol Hill employees owed $9.3 million in back taxes last year, data show
Capitol Hill employees owed $9.3 million in overdue taxes at the end of last year, a sliver of the $1 billion owed by federal workers nationwide but one with potential political ramifications for members of Congress.

The debt among Hill employees has risen at a faster rate than the overall tax debt on the government's books, according to Internal Revenue Service data. It comes at a time when some Republican members are pushing for the firings of government workers who owe the IRS and President Obama has urged a crackdown on delinquent government contractors.

The IRS information does not identify delinquent taxpayers by name, party affiliation or job title and does not indicate whether members of Congress are among the scofflaws. It shows that 638 employees, or about 4 percent, of the 18,000 Hill workers owe money.

The average unpaid tax bill is $12,787 among the Senate's delinquent taxpayers and $15,498 among those working in the House. ...

Beware of Greeks Bearing Bonds
...As he finishes his story the finance minister stresses that this isn’t a simple matter of the government lying about its expenditures. “This wasn’t all due to misreporting,” he says. “In 2009, tax collection disintegrated, because it was an election year.”


He smiles.

“The first thing a government does in an election year is to pull the tax collectors off the streets.”

“You’re kidding.”

Now he’s laughing at me. I’m clearly naïve....

...Thousands upon thousands of government employees take to the streets to protest the bill. Here is Greece’s version of the Tea Party: tax collectors on the take, public-school teachers who don’t really teach, well-paid employees of bankrupt state railroads whose trains never run on time, state hospital workers bribed to buy overpriced supplies. Here they are, and here we are: a nation of people looking for anyone to blame but themselves. The Greek public-sector employees assemble themselves into units that resemble army platoons. In the middle of each unit are two or three rows of young men wielding truncheons disguised as flagpoles. Ski masks and gas masks dangle from their belts so that they can still fight after the inevitable tear gas. “The deputy prime minister has told us that they are looking to have at least one death,” a prominent former Greek minister had told me. “They want some blood.” Two months earlier, on May 5, during the first of these protest marches, the mob offered a glimpse of what it was capable of. Seeing people working at a branch of the Marfin Bank, young men hurled Molotov cocktails inside and tossed gasoline on top of the flames, barring the exit. Most of the Marfin Bank’s employees escaped from the roof, but the fire killed three workers, including a young woman four months pregnant. As they died, Greeks in the streets screamed at them that it served them right, for having the audacity to work. The events took place in full view of the Greek police, and yet the police made no arrests....

Fannie Mae Sponsoring No Money Down Mortgages (Again)
...It's called Affordable Advantage, and it allows first-time home buyers in four states (Massachusetts, Minnesota, Idaho and Wisconsin) to get essentially no-money-down loans that are then sold to Fannie Mae. It requires $1000.00 down, but the couple profiled in the piece received a grant, and ended up paying just 67 cents for a $115,000 home. ...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

America’s public servants are now its masters
There really are two Americas, but they are not captured by the standard class warfare speeches that dramatise the gulf between the rich and the poor. Of the new divisions, one is the gap between employed and unemployed that President Barack Obama seeks to close with yet another $50bn stimulus programme. Another is between workers in the private and public sectors. No guesses which are the more protected. A recent study by the Mayo Research Institute found that “private-sector workers were nearly three times more likely to be jobless than public-sector workers”.

Political tension is bound to grow when jobs disappear faster in the private than the public sector, just as compensation in the former is squeezed more. There was a time when government work offered lower salaries than comparable jobs in the private sector, a difference for which the public sector compensated by providing more security and better benefits. No longer. These days, government employees are better off in almost every area: pay, benefits, time off and security, on top of working fewer hours. Public workers have become a privileged class – an elite who live better than their private-sector counterparts. Public servants have become the public’s masters.

Take federal employees. For nine years in a row, they have been awarded bigger average pay and benefit increases than private-sector workers. In 2008, the average wage for 1.9m federal civilian workers was more than $79,000, against an average of about $50,000 for the nation’s 108m private-sector workers, measured in full-time equivalents. Ninety per cent of government employees receive lifetime pension benefits versus 18 per cent of private employees. Public service employees continue to gain annual salary increases; they retire earlier with instant, guaranteed benefits paid for with the taxes of those very same private-sector workers.

More troubling still is the inherent political corruption. Elected officials tend to be accommodating when confronted by powerful constituencies such as the public service unions that agitate for plush benefits and often provide (or deny) a steady flow of cash to election campaign funds. Their successors will have to cope with the inherited debt burden – and ultimately the nation’s taxpayers are stuck with the bill....

Health Outlays Still Seen Rising
The health-care overhaul enacted last spring won't significantly change national health spending over the next decade compared with projections before the law was passed, according to government figures released Thursday.

The report by federal number-crunchers casts fresh doubt on Democrats' argument that the health-care law would curb the sharp increase in costs over the long term, the second setback this week for one of the party's biggest legislative achievements.

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that insurance companies have proposed rate increases ranging from 1% to 9% nationwide that they attribute specifically to new health-law coverage mandates....

Sebelius: insurers who criticize ObamaCare may get locked out of system
Does ObamaCare trump the First Amendment? HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius must think so. Yesterday, after apparently tiring of criticism of the new law from the companies it will eventually put out of business, Sebelius offered to expedite that process for those who don’t take an opportunity to shut their mouths:

President Barack Obama’s top health official on Thursday warned the insurance industry that the administration won’t tolerate blaming premium hikes on the new health overhaul law.

“There will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a letter to the insurance lobby.

“Simply stated, we will not stand idly by as insurers blame their premium hikes and increased profits on the requirement that they provide consumers with basic protections,” Sebelius said. She warned that bad actors may be excluded from new health insurance markets that will open in 2014 under the law. They’d lose out on a big pool of customers, as many as 30 million people nationwide.

Palin and the Left’s Status-Anxiety
...Status-anxiety occurs most strongly when a group has no meritorious claims to its social position. The classic example would be the pre-WWII European aristocrats who inherited their wealth and position, and who therefore had no right to status in an industrial society other than from cultural inertia. Closer to home, the most vicious white racists were poor and working-class whites who knew full well that only racism kept them from being on society’s bottom status tier. As long as all non-whites were judged inferior to any white person, a poor white person still had some status. They bitterly resisted losing what little status they still had.

Leftism at its heart holds that a small percentage of humans have a vastly superior understanding of everything compared to ordinary people. The point of leftism is to empower these superior individuals to impose their superior understanding upon society by the force of the state. Leftists must be viewed by themselves and others as superior human beings if they are to have a claim to power and status.

It might seem that leftist elites would have little concern for a loss of status, but in the last 40 years society and political culture have changed a lot. Prior to the ’60s, the left could point to the real and imagined successes of the technocratic progressive era to justify their status. They could claim that they saved the country from the Great Depression, fought WWII and contributed to the post-war prosperity. America’s great cities were peaceful and prosperous under the benign rule of Democratic party machines. People voted with their feet, migrating from what we call today red areas to leftwing blue areas.

Times changed, but the left remained not only stuck in the ’50s but moved even farther left by mimicking the European left. After the ’60s, the left had few successes to point to. The Great Society failed, the ’70s were an overall train wreck and the once great Democratic cities of the Northeast collapsed. People voted with their feet again but this time migrating from blue areas to red areas. In this process the left lost its meritorious claim to status.

Since they have few meritorious indicators of a personal and group claim to status remaining, leftists are forced to fall back on the same standards employed by the European upper classes. They try to restrict status not by merit but by conformity to their own life pattern. They demand that people go to the right elitist schools. They demand that people live in certain communities. They demand that people have the right recreational interests. They demand that people enjoy uniform kinds of art and music. They demand that people have the proper modes of speech, accent and allusion. They demand that people have the right religious beliefs. And so on....

Saturday, September 11, 2010

School headmaster, pastor charged with child molestation
ALBANY, GA (WALB) – A Coffee County pastor and former Christian school headmaster is in jail charged with child molestation.

Sheriff's investigators say 50-year-old Steven Rowe admitted he abused at least four victims while he led Faith Christian Academy and First Community Church in Douglas....

Health Insurers Plan Hikes
Health insurers say they plan to raise premiums for some Americans as a direct result of the health overhaul in coming weeks, complicating Democrats' efforts to trumpet their signature achievement before the midterm elections.

Aetna Inc., some BlueCross BlueShield plans and other smaller carriers have asked for premium increases of between 1% and 9% to pay for extra benefits required under the law, according to filings with state regulators.

These and other insurers say Congress's landmark refashioning of U.S. health coverage, which passed in March after a brutal fight, is causing them to pass on more costs to consumers than Democrats predicted....

...In addition to pledging that the law would restrain increases in Americans' insurance premiums, Democrats front-loaded the legislation with early provisions they hoped would boost public support. Those include letting children stay on their parents' insurance policies until age 26, eliminating co-payments for preventive care and barring insurers from denying policies to children with pre-existing conditions, plus the elimination of the coverage caps.

Weeks before the election, insurance companies began telling state regulators it is those very provisions that are forcing them to increase their rates. ...

Subprime 2.0 Is Coming Soon to a Suburb Near You: Edward Pinto
...Consider the prevailing narrative that holds a greed-driven private sector responsible for the 2008 financial crisis. A secondary narrative points to a greed-driven Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac abandoning their credit standards in an effort to follow the lead of Wall Street.

If these explanations fail to convince, a third blames a combination of deregulation and insufficient regulation, again driven by greed, as rulemakers were asleep at their posts.

What is missing is the central role played by an affordable housing policy built upon the misguided concept of loosened underwriting -- a policy created by Congress and implemented for 15 years by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and banking regulators.

From 1993 onward, regulators worked with weakened lending policies as mandated by Congress. These policies systematically dismantled a housing-finance system based on the common sense principles of adequate down payments, good credit, and an ability to handle the mortgage debt. ...

...Substituted was a scam of liberalized lending standards that turned out to be no standards at all. In 1990, one in 200 home-purchase loans (all government insured) had a down payment of less than or equal to 3 percent. By 2003, one in seven home buyers had such a low down payment, and by 2006 about one in three put no money down.

These policies led millions of Americans to buy homes with little or no money down, impaired credit and insufficient income. As a result, our economy has been brought down and the taxpayers have had to foot the bill for bailout after bailout.

Congress and U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration refuse to learn the lesson that is painfully aware to American taxpayers, and they have made it clear that they have no intention of fixing broken underwriting.

Let’s start with the latest pieces of evidence. The Dodd- Frank Bill, signed in July 2010 by the president, omitted both an adequate down payment and a good credit history from the list of criteria indicating a lower risk of default as regulators sought to define a qualified residential mortgage. ...

...This was no oversight. Republican Senator Robert Corker and others proposed an amendment that would have added both a minimum down-payment requirement and consideration of credit history along with the establishment by regulators of a “prudent underwriting” standard. This amendment was defeated.

In early September 2010, Fannie and Freddie’s regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, following requirements set out in 2008 by Congress, finalized affordable housing mandates that are likely to prove more risky than those that led to Fannie and Freddie’s taxpayer bailout. As required by Congress, these new goals almost exclusively relate to very low- and low- income borrowers. Meeting these goals will necessitate a return to dangerous minimal down-payment lending, along with other imprudent lending standards. ...

Seven Empty Promises About ObamaCare
...The president and his administration, it seems, are still doing everything they can to make the case for reform. The problemn is that so much of that case isn’t likely to pay off. Here are seven empty promises made about ObamaCare...

1. If you like your plan, you can keep your plan.

2. It will put Medicare on better fiscal footing.

3. It will cost around $900 billion.

4. It won’t cut Medicare benefits.

5. It will be paid for “mostly” by shifting around money that we’re already spending.

6. It will give consumers more access and greater choice.

7. It will bring down the price of insurance.

Frat House for Jesus
...The C Street house was known to be associated with a ministry called the Fellowship, a nondenominational entity that sponsored the annual National Prayer Breakfast. But the Fellowship’s more significant work was its invisible ministry to political leaders, dating back to the New Deal era. Through the years, small Fellowship-inspired prayer groups have held weekly meetings in the Pentagon, in the Attorney General’s office, in various congressional hideaways inside the Capitol, and in the White House itself. The Fellowship has offered succor to Bill Clinton and Al Gore, to Dwight Eisenhower and Marion Barry, and to many of the Watergate felons. D. Michael Lindsay, a Rice University sociologist who has studied the ways in which evangelicals have become part of the American élite, was astonished by what he discovered about the Fellowship. “They are the most significant spiritual force in the lives of leaders—especially leaders in Washington—of any entity that I know,” he says. “They are mentioned more often in the interviews I’ve conducted than any other group. They have had a more sustained influence over the decades than any other entity. There is nothing comparable to them.”...

...The Fellowship’s participants (there is no official membership) describe themselves simply as followers of Jesus, an informal network of friends seeking harmony by modelling their lives after his. They are assertively nondoctrinal (eschewing even the term “Christian”) and nonecclesiastical (denominations tend to be divisive), and although the core figures are evangelicals, they do not believe in proselytizing. I have spoken to Buddhists, Muslims, and Jews who consider themselves part of this network. The group rejects anything resembling a formal structure—there is no titled executive team, and even the name “Fellowship” is unofficial, an informal convenience. The business cards of those leaders who carry them list the individual’s name at the top and addresses and telephone numbers at the bottom, with a blank space in between, where the name of the entity might go. ...

...The real work of the movement, though, was in the small groups of top men (as Vereide described his mission field) which proliferated across the country. Sam Shoemaker, the New York Episcopal priest who helped to devise the Twelve Step program for Alcoholics Anonymous, in the nineteen-thirties, was Vereide’s close friend and adviser, and made key connections for him in New York and in Washington. Thomas Watson, of I.B.M., summoned Vereide to discuss his groups, as did Marvin Coyle, the president of Chevrolet, and J. C. Penney. Prayer groups were spreading overseas, and, by the end of the nineteen-fifties, with Vereide in his seventies, the core group of men around him decided to bring younger blood into the leadership circle. Doug Coe was recruited into the organization, which was then called International Christian Leadership, as field director, in 1959, and when Vereide died, a decade later, Coe effectively became his successor.

Coe’s flock consisted of a quarter of the members of the House and the Senate, and a wide international network of parliamentarians, potentates, military brass, and business executives. He had no pulpit and no title, and although he was called the “stealth Billy Graham,” he was no preacher. (A video of a talk he once gave to a group of evangelicals shows him prone to disjointed narrative and given to bizarre analogy, suggesting that Christians could use the sort of blind devotion that Maoists, Nazis, and the Mafia understood.) But Coe had a vision for the prayer-group movement that matched Vereide’s, and, in some ways, eclipsed it.

Under Coe, the Fellowship’s work became more focussed on an intensely personal, “relational” ministry to leaders, many of them public leaders, which made absolute trust paramount. What some saw as obsessive secrecy, Coe says, was a necessary privacy. “We’re not being secretive, it’s just that no one advertises that we’ve got a guy here who’s an atheist and is having a problem with his life, or maybe stole money from his country’s treasury,” he said. ...

...Even friends of the Fellowship, however, acknowledge that the group has made itself vulnerable to unfriendly assessments, because its insistent secrecy and Coe’s indiscriminate outreach to leaders of all kinds raise legitimate questions of accountability. An old friend of Coe’s, the late Washington lawyer Jim Bell, a key figure in the early Fellowship, once said of Coe’s willful political naïveté, “Doug has chosen to be a political eunuch,” a posture that enabled him to befriend, in the name of Jesus, such men as the Somalian dictator Siad Barre. ...

...If international dignitaries view the Prayer Breakfast as a reliable means of unofficial access, some Presidents—most notably, Bill Clinton—have been more accommodating than others. “Bill and Hillary got it,” says Doug Burleigh, who is Coe’s son-in-law, and a key figure in the Fellowship. “They came early, they’d meet with the groups early and do a photo op with ’em, hug ’em. They got what this was about.” George W. Bush, on the other hand, made it clear to Coe and the others from the start that he’d show up at the Prayer Breakfast but not to expect much more. “George came late, and left early—he did every year,” Burleigh says. “Now, I appreciate his honesty. He told Doug, ‘You know, this isn’t my thing.’ ”After Bush’s first, perfunctory appearance, Clinton telephoned Coe to console him. “He didn’t badmouth Bush, he gave it the best spin,” Burleigh recalls. “He said, ‘Hey, Bush’ll get it. He doesn’t understand what this thing’s about.’ ”...

Belgium church abuse detailed by Adriaenssens report
Peter Adriaenssens said his commission had found cases of abuse in nearly every diocese, and 13 alleged victims had committed suicide.

Two-thirds of victims were boys, most of them aged below 15, but 100 girls also suffered assaults, he said....

Nature uses the D-word
...Witness Nature using the word denialism, born of the politically nurtured global warming ideology. If Nature’s editorial staff was not indoctrinated to at least some of that ideology, I wager they’d have used a different word. And they wonder why there is dissent while at the same time they use the word to insult people. I encourage subscribers to call them to task on this use of the word.

Uhhh: DARPA wants mind-controlling helmets for soldiers
You know, there are times when even we get a little tempted to don the ol' tinfoil hat. Weirdly enough, those times usually have something to do with DARPA, as the agency is now researching technology that will affect soldiers' brains to boost their abilities.

Now, DARPA won't be able to give soldiers orders and turn them into mindless drones — well, at least, that's not what the agency claims the research is for. Instead, a helmet using what's called "transcranial pulsed ultrasound" could help relieve stress on a trooper during combat, boost his awareness and even make him feel his injuries less.

The research is in itself a breakthrough of sorts as the kind of mind altering it's looking to do is usually carried out with direct stimulation to the brain using implants and the like. ...

Obama uses Bush plan for terror war
As the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approaches, much of President Obama's counterterrorism policies and his understanding of executive power closely hew to the last administration, which he criticized as a candidate for the White House.

On issues ranging from the government's detention authority to a program to kill al Qaeda terrorist suspects, even if they are American citizens, Mr. Obama has consolidated much of the power President George W. Bush asserted after Sept. 11 in the waging of the U.S. war against terror.

The continuities between the two administrations were evident this week, when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit dismissed a lawsuit that five former U.S. detainees brought against a subsidiary of Boeing Co. known as Jeppesen Dataplan.

The former detainees alleged that Jeppesen Dataplan facilitated their transport to U.S. and foreign prisons, where they were tortured. The Obama Justice Department, like the Bush Justice Department before it, urged the court to dismiss the case on grounds that state secrets would be disclosed in litigation.

In a 6-5 decision, the court ruled in favor of the federal government.

"It can fairly be said that the Bush administration made torture the law of the land and the Obama administration is making impunity for torture the law of the land," said Ben Wizner, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorney who represented the plaintiffs in the case....

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Segregation and Exploitation in the Old South
...So now the obvious question: Why the clandestine activities? Answer: because helping African-Americans leave the Old South was an illegal activity under state law.

But why? If blacks were despised and demeaned in the South, the Southern segregationists should be thrilled to pay black families to head north. After all, five hundred or a thousand miles creates what looks to be the ideal form of segregation.

Yet, the historical practice was to the contrary. The explanation for this consistent pattern is consistent with the rest of the sorry history of Jim Crow, which runs through Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 until the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

What bears recounting here, however, is the economic explanation for keeping despised blacks trapped in the South. Quite simply, there is no way to economically exploit individuals by letting them leave. The entire system of segregation has, in some quarters, been grotesquely treated as though it were some form of market system, when in fact it was anything but. The key feature of a market system is ease of entry and exit, which puts pressure on all economic players.

By blocking exit from the South, the segregationists sought to limit the options open to blacks, whom they could exploit on the farm, in the city, and everywhere in between. The underground railroad of 1915 does not carry the same connotations as the underground railroad of 1850, when the stakes were far higher. But it shows the same steely determination to use stealth to undermine a formal set of restrictions, even if (unlike the earlier underground railroad) the restrictions were not backed by a constitutional duty to return slaves (or, to use the guarded language of the Constitution, those “held to labor or service”) to their true owners in the South.

But the effort to preserve segregation by controlling exit rights is only one side of the story. The other side involves controlling entry into the old South, namely by Northern businessmen, who might be prepared to bid up the price of Southern African-American labor. These entrepreneurs need not hold any special affection for Southern black laborers. It is enough that they see an economic opportunity to compete in national markets by taking advantage of cheap labor.

Yet, that entry did not take place on significant levels. In his classic work, The Strange Career of Jim Crow, C. Vann Woodward asked how the South managed to remain segregated when there were so few race conscious laws on the books to back up the strict patterns of de facto segregation.

Part of the answer obviously lies in the political control that whites retained over the ballot box, the police force, and all other instrumentalities of governance. One of those key government elements was oversight over all the network industries needed to open any business in the Old South, just like anywhere else.

Every business needs access to electricity, gas, water, telephone service, and the like. In 1915, all services were monopolistically supplied in the sense that given the economies of scale in setting up the network, the service could be best supplied by a single provider. As an offset to that power, the state was supposed to ensure that all potential users had access to that grid on reasonable and nondiscriminatory terms. The easiest and most inconspicuous way to keep someone out of the network is to deny, quietly, these critical hookups. In most cases, a single hint would discourage entry. The politics of exclusion thus dominates the economics of open competition....

Monday, September 06, 2010

Domestic Violence Fairytales Threaten Constitutional Protections
Kristin Ruggiero of New Hampshire figured it would be a slam dunk. The gambit worked like a charm during the divorce hearing; now she would bring the case to criminal court.

Her husband Jeffrey, an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard, was an incorrigible batterer, at least that’s what she led to the judge to believe. That got him convicted of criminal threatening, and she won custody of their 7-year-old daughter.

But Kristin Ruggiero wasn’t finished.

One day, the woman bragged to her startled ex, “I took all your money, I took your daughter, and now I’m going to take your career.” She went out and purchased a disposable cell phone and registered it in Jeffrey’s name. Then she sent herself a passel of threatening text messages.

Apparently Kristin didn’t realize that in criminal court, allegations are subjected to a higher standard of proof. And all of a sudden the nefarious scheme to frame her ex-husband came crashing down.

Last week Kristin Ruggiero was convicted on 12 counts of falsifying physical evidence and sentenced to 7-14 years in prison.

This tale is not so much about a distraught woman sorely in need of psychological help. Rather, it’s a story of a police department, a prosecutor, and a judge that allowed themselves to be duped by a conniving perjurer. And it’s about a criminal justice system that has all but abandoned due process in a frenzied attempt to curb domestic violence.

Like everything in the law, the problem begins with definitions. The Violence Against Women Act, passed during the first term of the Clinton administration, includes a definition of domestic violence that is so wide you could drive a Mack truck through it.

States picked up on the loophole, and now most states include within their definitions of abuse, actions like making your partner “annoyed” or “distressed.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) likewise followed suit. The CDC’s Uniform Definitions and Recommended Data Elements declares that partner violence includes “getting annoyed if the victim disagrees,” “withholding information from the victim,” and even “disregarding what the victim wants.”...

‘Recovery’ unaffordable
...Sure, if you’re a blue-collar worker competing with illegal-immigrant labor, times are pretty tough. But if you’re in the $200 million high school business, you’re booming!

Struggling taxpayers looking for prosperity just have to drive through Newton and check out the new 400,000 square-foot high school with its two theaters, two gymnasiums, its fully-functional television studio and an SOA or “simulated outdoor area.” Happy days are obviously here again when students are provided Kindle book readers and teachers use “interactive white boards” in wireless-tech classrooms.

Some people would feel a bit uncomfortable with such an ostentatious display of taxpayer-funded wealth during this economic downturn, but not in Newton. They are more than happy to show off their computer labs and “Starbucks-style cafe.” So what if the final construction cost was around $480 per square foot - three times the average for commercial construction in New York City? Who cares if it cost more than $100,000 per pupil? We’re with the government and we’re livin’ large!

And not just in Newton. Life is good in all five of Sen. John Kerry’s houses, plus wherever he’s parking his yacht for tax purposes these days. The Hill magazine reports that not only is our senior senator the richest member of Congress for the second year in a row, but his net worth went up by $20 million in 2009.

In fact, “the 50 wealthiest members of Congress saw their collective fortunes rise to $1.4 billion in 2009 - an $85.1 million jump from 2008,” says The Hill.

Not many people can say that. Well, not in the real world, anyway.

And that’s the key. When you’re looking for recovery in an Obama economy, all the good news is in the government sector....

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Glenn Harlan Reynolds: Who is responsible for Warmabomber's violent agenda?
...In contemporary America, no respectable person would advocate, say, the involuntary sterilization of blacks or Jews. Why, then, should it be any more respectable to advocate the involuntary sterilization of everyone? Or even of those who cause “social deterioration?”

Likewise, references to particular ethnic or religious groups as “viruses” or “cancers” in need of extirpation are socially unacceptable, triggering immediate thoughts of genocide and mass murder.

Why, then, should it be acceptable to refer to all humanity in this fashion? Does widening the circle of eliminationist rhetoric somehow make it better?

I don’t see why it should, and I don’t see why we should pretend -- or allow others to pretend -- that hate-filled rhetoric is somehow more acceptable when it’s delivered by those wearing green shirts instead of brown.

Our leftist friends have told us for years that right-leaning public speakers must watch their language with exquisite care, or be held responsible for any violence that occurs. This degree of responsibility has had its effect -- virtually all of the violence associated with the Tea Party movement, for example, has been perpetrated by leftists, while Tea Partiers have been remarkably restrained -- but now it’s time to recognize that responsibility cuts both ways.

The environmental movement needs to bring its hate-filled rhetoric under control, before it’s too late. There are too many potential James Lees out there, and some of them may be more competent than Lee was. Don’t encourage them through over the top rhetoric....

Pachauri admits the IPCC just guesses the numbers
...Hidden beside Pachauri’s declaration that he’s happy about the IAC report, he let slip a corker of a line:

Times of India asks: Anything in the UN probe report you completely or partly disagree with?

They have talked about quantifying uncertainties. To some extent, we are doing that, though not perfectly. But the issue is that in some cases, you really don’t have a quantitative base by which you can attach a probability or a level of uncertainty that defines things in quantitative terms. And there, let’s not take away the importance of expert judgment. And that is something the report has missed or at least not pointed out....

...Times of India: Stifling politics out of science, does that make it devoid of its real social purpose?

Let’s face it, we are an intergovernmental body and our strength and acceptability of what we produce is largely because we are owned by governments....If that was not the case, then we would be like any other scientific body that maybe producing first-rate reports but don’t see the light of the day because they don’t matter in policy-making. Now clearly, if it’s an inter-governmental body and we want governments’ ownership of what we produce, obviously they will give us guidance of what direction to follow, what are the questions they want answered...

France and Japan propose an 'IPCC for nature'
World governments are meeting this week to try to set up a new international body that would put the global destruction of the natural world on an equal footing with the threat of climate change.

The proposed new organisation would be modelled on the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC), which was set up 22 years ago.

Since then, it has launched global warming and climate change to the top of the political and economic agenda....

Judge in Virginia Global Warming Investigation Blocks Inquiry Into ... His Wife's Former Employer
As you can read here, retired Albemarle County (Virginia) Circuit Judge Paul Peatross has ruled that Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli may not have access to records under Virginia’s Fraud Against Taxpayers Act, as he seeks to determine the propriety of Michael “Hockey Stick” Mann’s claims made to obtain research funding. Judge Peatross’s ruling protects Mann, the University, and specifically the Department of Environmental Sciences, at least for now....

...The fact that the judge’s wife had in fact previously worked in that Department of Environmental Sciences — the very Department that stands to suffer should he have ruled in favor of the Attorney General – was somehow not worth disclosing to counsel....

Friday, September 03, 2010

If Obamacare is so Great . . .
Then why are there so many health insurance companies retreating from the market, leaving consumers with fewer choices and higher premiums? Since March when Obamacrap was signed in to law we have seen the following changes in the Georgia health insurance market. (Other states have had similar issues, but I am only familiar with Georgia health insurance plans).

All but two health insurance companies have withdrawn from offering maternity benefits.

Only a handful of companies will still write "child only" health insurance plans.

As of this date, it is almost impossible to find a rate for children's health insurance if they are under age 19 and you are looking for coverage to be effective on 9/23/10 or later.

Some companies have either withdrawn from offering major medical business or are dropping hints they will be out of that market in 18 months or less....

The Democrat Crime Wave of 2023
• Fact: There are a record number of Americans dependent upon government anti-poverty programs thanks to the Obama Democrats
• Fact: Expanded access to welfare and food stamps greatly increases the number of children born to unwed mothers
• Fact: Single-parent families correlate to higher crime rates
• Conclusion: with the unprecedented increase in welfare, food stamps and unemployment, we will also see an unparalleled increase in violent crime within the next dozen or so years....

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Why Do Heavy Drinkers Outlive Nondrinkers?

Why Nondrinkers May Be More Depressed

Ideological War Spells Doom for America’s Schoolkids
Students are returning to school this week. But they’re not heading back to class — they’re walking straight into a war zone. Our kids have become cannon fodder for two rival ideologies battling to control America’s future.

In one camp are conservative Christians and their champion, the Texas State Board of Education; in the other are politically radical multiculturalists and their de facto champion, President Barack Obama. The two competing visions couldn’t be more different. And the stakes couldn’t be higher. Unfortunately, whichever side wins — your kid ends up losing.

That’s because this war is for the power to dictate what our children are taught — and, by extension, how future generations of Americans will view the world. Long gone are the days when classrooms were for learning: now each side sees the public school system as a vast indoctrination camp in which future culture-warriors are trained. The problem is, two diametrically opposed philosophies are struggling for supremacy, and neither is willing to give an inch, so the end result is extremism, no matter which side temporarily comes out on top.

Both visions are grotesque and unacceptable — and yet they are currently the only two choices on the national menu. Which shall it be, sir: Brainwashing Fricassee, or a Fried Ignorance Sandwich?...

...But we’re caught between a rock and a hard place; due to the escalating culture wars, the middle ground is a cratered political no-man’s-land. Everyone’s in “you’re either with us or against us” mode, and the end result is that it’s almost impossible to find an even-handed analysis of the dreadful situation in which we’ve found ourselves.

Innumerable liberal critics condemn the anti-science and partisan revisionist lunacy coming out of the Texas school board meetings. And you know what? The criticisms hit home. It’s next to impossible for a sensible person to defend the TSBE’s often ridiculous proposals.

On the other side of the fence, you’ll find countless conservative pundits and angry parents increasingly outraged by the ever-escalating political correctness and equally egregious (but mirror-image) historical revisionism which dominates public schooling away from the Texas sphere of influence. And you know what? They’re right too. Left-wing activists have basically taken control of the educational system and have for years been brazenly transforming it into a training ground for young radicals.

But what you won’t find is anyone willing to say that BOTH sides are unacceptable. (Until now, that is. I’m saying it.) Either you’re on the left and you bash the Texas standards, or you’re on the right and you bemoan the progressive curriculum. Each published criticism only tells half the story, so the argument never goes anywhere, since each side refuses to even acknowledge the points made by the opposition....

Wealthy lawmakers increased their riches as U.S. economy sputtered in '09
The wealthiest members of Congress grew richer in 2009 even as the economy struggled to recover from a deep recession.

The 50 wealthiest lawmakers were worth almost $1.4 billion in 2009, about $85.1 million more than 12 months earlier, according to The Hill’s annual review of lawmakers’ financial disclosure forms.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) tops the list for the second year in a row. His minimum net worth was $188.6 million at the end of 2009, up by more than $20 million from 2008, according to his financial disclosure form....