Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Daily Dose: June 18, 2011

Welcome to The Daily Dose, a daily update of all the important news and information today.

We will start today's update from Egypt...

Muslim Brotherhood Says Egypt Must Turn to Islam
The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest Islamic group and one of the groups responsible for February's protests resulting in the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, has begun their push to become Egypt's ruling party. Their message is that Egypt must turn to Islam in order to rebuild. Essam el-Erian, deputy head of the Brotherhood's political party, stated, "We have to build a nation of freedom and equality, a nation of the true Islam." Their campaign sounds great, but one must wonder if it is just rhetoric designed to win the Egyptian people's trust. Considering the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood was banned under Mubarak's reign, one definitely has to wonder if they will be true to their campaign promises to create a free and equal state. You can read the full AP report on the Muslim Brotherhood here.

And in the war on terror...

Pakistan Tipping Off Militants
After the raid on the Osama bin Laden compound, Pakistan voiced their disapproval of the raid, claiming that it violated their sovereignty. However, America's fears regarding the bin Laden raid have been confirmed in a separate incident. American intelligence has shared the location of four bomb-making sites with Pakistani leaders, but then they watched as satellites showed the militants leaving before the military showed up to declared the site was clean. In my opinion, if Pakistan cannot keep a secret, then they should be told no secrets. If this means that we have to do the job ourselves, then we need to do whatever it takes to stop the insurgents. If Pakistan doesn't like our policy, then maybe they will figure out how to keep secrets secret. You can read the Huffington Post article here.

Moving back home...

White House Lawyers Say Obama Needs Congressional Approval for Libya
House Speaker John Boehner called on President Obama to explain why the mission in Libya continued without Congressional approval, and Rep. Dennis Kucinich led a group of Congressmen in filing a lawsuit to stop the action. Now a third report is surfacing questioning the legality of the conflict. The New York Times is reporting that the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel has told the White House that they believe the action in Libya amounts to hostilities. This is likely to further debate about the legality of the mission. I foresee the President taking on Congress and possibly the courts (pending the outcome of the Kucinich suit) in a game of "You can't make me do that." Outside of impeachment, Congress really has no method of forcing the President to stop action deemed illegal, and an impeachment proceeding may pass the house but is not likely to get the two-thirds support necessary in the Senate. This could be a very interesting summer as the President appears to be headed for a showdown with Congress.

Moving to the campaign trail...

Bachmann Third GOP Candidate Glittered
The new trend among liberal groups seems to be that if you can't win by talking about the issues, throw glitter. Thursday, The Daily Dose reported about glitter being thrown at Gov. Tim Pawlenty by members of the groups Reproductive Rights and CODEPINK. Today, a gay-rights group Get Equal claimed responsibility for attempting to glitter Michelle Bachmann after a speech in Minneapolis. I see it as an attempt to distract everyone from the real issues facing America, and as I posted on Thursday, I wonder if an attempted glittering of Candidate Obama would have been handled in the same way that these are. You can see the video of the glitter attempt here.


Can you spot the project that the government has wasted money on? Take a five question quiz on America's Dirty Spending Secrets.

That's the Daily Dose for today. Be sure to return tomorrow to keep up-to-date with the latest news!

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Daily Dose: June 17, 2011

It's time for The Daily Dose, your daily update of important and interesting events from today.

We'll start at the Texas State Capitol...

Welcome to America (For 23 Years), Now Please Speak English
Texas State Senator Chris Harris interrupted Antolin Aguirre of the Immigrant Rights Coalition during a hearing on Texas's new immigration bill. Harris wanted to know why Aguirre, who came to America in 1988, was not speaking English. Reaction in the hearing room was mixed, with some cheers and boos both being heard from the audience. Although I have no evidence to back it up, I think Mr. Harris spoke for the majority of America today. You can watch a clip of the proceedings here.

And from another Texas official...

Congresswoman Compares Christian “Militants” to Islamic Radicals
During a hearing on radical Islam in the U.S., Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee changed the subject to “Christian militants,” using as an example an incident where an abortion clinic was bombed. Rep. Lee is partially right: Christians who bomb abortion clinics or commit other similar acts in the name of God are just as evil as Muslims who terrorize in the name of Allah. However, the percentage of militants among Christians is much less than the percentage of militants among Muslims. Second, I challenge anyone to bring me an example of a Christian in America who killed thousands of people in the name of God. When these radical Christians begin to inflict the damage to America that radical Muslims have, then I say it is time to take a closer look at radical Christians. In the meantime, if you feel like vomiting, you can watch Rep. Lee's comments here.

In an update to one of yesterday's stories...

Obama Ends Health Care Waiver Program...In 3 Months
President Obama announced today that the health care waiver program (mentioned here in yesterday's Daily Dose) would end on September 22. That gives everyone over three months to get their applications in before it ends so it will be a “non-issue” during the election. If the health care bill was so great, why do we need waivers? And if we need waivers, why do we need a deadline to apply?

In election news...

Romney, Cain, and Johnson Won't Sign Pro-Life Pledge
Three 2012 Presidential candidates have refused to sign the pro-life pledge sponsored by the Susan B. Anthony List. The pledge requires candidates to commit to appointing judges and executive branch officials opposed to abortion, push legislation ending public funding for abortion, and to sign a law protecting children capable of feeling pain. Romney's refusal to sign this pledge is the most concerning. He campaigned as a pro-choice candidate in 1994 and 2002 before saying that he changed his views in 2004. Romney seems to have a lot of baggage that needs to be dealt with if he is going to win the nomination. Politico has an article about this available here.


Isner vs. Mahut: The Rematch
Even though I love sports, I do not plan to mention much about sports on here. However, there is one interesting story I'll mention tonight. You may remember the marathon match at last year's Wimbledon, where John Isner and Nicolas Mahut played a game that lasted 11 hours and 5 minutes and broke numerous records. Since Wimbledon matches do not have a tiebreak in the final set, it took 138 games before Isner finally won the last set 70-68. This year's Wimbledon draw has been announced, and Isner and Mahut will once again meet in the first round. There was a .7% chance (that's 7 out of 1000) that they would be drawn to face each other. I'm making my totally uneducated guess that this year's match will be over in three sets, with the score along the lines of 6-1, 6-2, 6-0.

That's your Daily Dose for today. Be sure to come back tomorrow for the latest news and analysis!

How Much Should We Cut?

This is the first in a series of articles dealing with the current state of America's finances.

Imagine that you have just been elected to the board of directors of a large, international corporation. This company used to be a very profitable company, but in recent years, it has struggled to turn a profit. For 2010, the company had a gross income of over $2.57 Billion, but total expenditures amounted to $3.83 Billion. This results in a net loss of $1.26 Billion dollars, with expenses reaching 112% of revenue. Furthermore, despite the large amount of assets owned by the company, it finds itself owing $14.3 Billion dollars in debt, and paying the interest on this debt takes up almost 10% of the company's revenue.

Both the CEO and the other members of the board have verbally acknowledged that the company needs to change course and improve its financial outlook. However, they disagree on how drastic to change course. Some of the board members have proposed that the board cut spending for remainder of the current year by approximately $61 Million, while the CEO and other board members want to cut only $33 Million. Finally, they agree on a spending cut of $40 Million, which cuts just over 3% off of the annual loss.

Now, one board member wants to propose a spending cut of $6.2 Billion over the next ten years, an average of $620 Million per year. If all other revenues and expenses remain the same, this would come close to cutting the annual loss in half. You would think that a plan like this would be welcomed by everyone, but the CEO, along with some of the other board members and shareholders, have called this plan extreme.

Does this sound familiar? It should, because this is exactly what is happening with our federal government, only the numbers are 1,000 times greater. The deficit for Fiscal Year 2011 is now projected by the Congressional Budget Office to hit $1.4 Trillion, yet the most “extreme” of the spending reduction plans will cut less half of that amount.

Most of the talk around Washington is about the national debt. While the amount of debt is a cause for alarm, it is not the most concerning issue. The biggest issue facing America is the financial deficit. Debt is a normal part of the financial picture for any company, and in many cases, debt is beneficial to the company. However, a loss or deficit is rarely beneficial to a company and should not be treated as normal. America could be considered financially sound with its current debt if we had a decent surplus which could be used to reduce the debt. However, no company, regardless of its level of debt, could be considered financially stable after losing money for over 40 years straight, and America should not consider itself an exception.

America's financial future will be determined not by its debt, but by its deficit or surplus. With that in mind, I must ask, “Why are we only cutting $6.2 Trillion over the next ten years?” A plan to only cut losses in half would be scoffed at in the boardroom of any company as not doing enough, but in American politics it is looked at as being too extreme. The reality is that if Ryan's “Roadmap for America's Future” still results in deficits and further debt increases, it really is only a detour on the path to America's financial destruction. Furthermore, knowing that the passage of any proposal prior to 2013 will have to survive the Democrat-controlled Senate and gain the approval of the President, it is highly unlikely that the $6.2 Trillion cuts proposed by the Republicans will actually be signed into law. Why is this our starting point; shouldn't we be asking for more?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Daily Dose: June 16, 2011

Starting today, I am going to begin posting a daily news/analysis update, which will be titled “The Daily Dose.”

Up first...

Media Drops Pelosi After She Won't Talk About Weiner

TPM has a clip showing Fox, MSNBC, and CNN all cutting away from Nancy Pelosi's weekly press availability after she announced that she would not make any statements about Anthony Weiner until after his press conference. Apparently, hearing the House Minority Leader's comments on the latest unemployment report is not as important as another few minutes of coverage devoted to the latest congressional pervert. It would be easy to blame the media, but the truth is that the media is simply delivering what the majority of Americans want to hear. When a sex scandal is more important than the economy, America needs a serious adjustment to its priorities. Clip from TPM is available on Youtube here.

Now to Vermont...

Valedictorian's Mention of God Censored
Kyle Gearwar, valedictorian of Fair Haven Union High School, was told by school officials that he would not be allowed to deliver portions of his speech that discussed how God changed his life. Principal Brett Blanchard stated, "It's a fine line here. Here's freedom of speech and here's separation of church and state." As a principal, I would have expected Mr. Blanchard to know that freedom of speech is endorsed by the Constitution, but separation of church and state is not. The Burlington Free Press has an article available here, and you can read the full text of the speech here.

And on the opposite coast...

Pawlenty Gets Glittered
Tim Pawlenty has become the second candidate in recent weeks to be glittered by protesters. I am concerned about the lack of security that would allow this to happen, but I also wonder what would have happened if this had been done to Obama during the 2008 campaign season. Would the media brush it off as a harmless prank or would they label the offender as a racist? ABC has a video of the event available here.

In some great news coming out of Washington...

Over 1400 Plans Request Waivers from ObamaCare
The new health care law was supposed to fix the problems with our health care system by allowing everything to remain the same. (You can keep your same doctor and plan!) It was such a great idea that Congress decided to pass the bill without reading it so that we could all find out what was in it. (Isn't reading the bill before voting on it such an outdated idea?) Now, we find out that this is such a great law, over 1400 companies, unions, and various other organizations with health care plans representing over 3 million individuals have asked to be excused from it. If this many waivers are being requested (with over 95% of them granted), shouldn't we consider that there might be a problem with the bill. You can read a summary of a recent GAO report and download the full report here.


Tomorrow I will post the first of several articles on dealing with the state of America's finances. Tomorrow's post will explain why I oppose Paul Ryan's recent budget proposal, but not for the reasons that most other people oppose it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Obama's Latest Excuse on Jobs

Apparently, even President Obama is getting tired of blaming the lack of job creation on President Bush. His new scapegoat: ATMs and Airline Check-In Kiosks. Obama stated in an NBC News interview, "...there are some structural issues with our economy where a lot of businesses have learned to become much more efficient with a lot fewer workers. You see it when you go to a bank and you use an ATM; you don't go to a bank teller. Or you go to the airport, and you're using a kiosk instead of checking in at the gate."

I can understand that he is saying that technology is reducing the number of available jobs in those industries. However, the airline kiosks have been around for almost as long as I've been flying, and ATMs have been around much longer. Unemployment has been as low as 4.2 percent and as high as 10.1 percent while we have had these devices available.

Furthermore, Obama's statement ignores the jobs that these machines create. Many people have to be involved in the planning and design stages for these new devices. Others have to work in the factories that create these devices. Salespeople have to be hired to market these devices to the industries that can use them. Technicians have to be employed to fix broken machines and perform preventative maintenance. Yes, new technology may have eliminated demand for certain jobs (such as bank tellers), but it has created demand for many others.

More details of the interview available here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...” (Declaration of Independence)

Companies and organizations today often establish mission statements. Writing a mission statement for a company may seem like a small task, but it can be a very important one. The mission statement is what sets the company's goals, and its priorities are often judged against its mission. While the United States does not have an official mission statement, I think the best example of the mission of the American government is contained in this quote from the Declaration of Independence.

It was in 1776 when Thomas Jefferson, with input from several other men, penned these words that are known so well by Americans. While Jefferson was setting the stage to present his argument that the British government had overstepped these guidelines of governance, Jefferson certainly knew that should their revolution be successful, the 13 colonies would be faced with the task of setting up a government for their new country. This paragraph lays out the three purposes of government: protect life, protect liberty, and protect the pursuit of happiness. Unfortunately, it appears that many of our leaders have forgotten these purposes of government, and our government is failing at protecting these three basic rights.

First, the government is failing in its protection of the right to life. The government protects the right to life for those who can say that they want it, but it appears to have ignored it for those who cannot speak for themselves. A “fetus” grows in exactly the same manner prior to birth that a newborn child does following birth, yet only the newborn baby's right to life is protected by our government. Some may argue that a pregnancy affects a woman's pursuit of happiness, and this certainly could be a valid point. However, in all but a few cases, a woman finds herself pregnant because of the choices she made. Terminating the right to life of an unborn baby should not be just a way to reverse the consequences of bad choices. Furthermore, the government allowed Terri Schiavo to be starved to death in 2005, based on the request of her husband due to some statements he claimed she made. Death or even torture by starvation is prohibited for prisoners of war under the rules of the Geneva Convention, but the government views it as acceptable for an American citizen.

The government is also failing to protect the right to liberty. Liberty is the freedom to make choices independent of government control. However, we are finding that more of our choices are being made by the government rather than us as individuals. New York recently considered regulation of children's games such as wiffle ball and red rover at day camps in the state. Since I have never seen a serious injury from either of these games, it makes me question whether the state is looking to “protect children” or just force everyone to register and be approved by the state. The recent health care bill also infringes on our liberties by forcing us to purchase a product rather than allowing us to face the consequences of our own decisions. Day by day, Americans are giving up liberty to a growing government that seems to be seeking more and more control over our lives.

Finally, the government is failing to protect the right to pursue happiness. Each person will choose to pursue happiness in a different way. However, the government has adopted a philosophy that it is better to make everyone happy than to protect the ability to pursue happiness. We have waged the “War on Poverty” for years, yet it has made little impact on poverty. We have tried to guarantee a “living wage” for everyone working, but the cost of living keeps increasing at a faster rate. We tax the rich at a higher rate so that we can afford to give it to the poor through social programs and tax credits, yet the gap between the rich and poor continues to grow. Our government must change the philosophy that results in trying to make everyone happy and replace it with a philosophy that each person should have the ability to pursue happiness in the manner of their choosing.

America has become a great nation because America has protected these basic rights. However, this nation is starting to fail at its duty to protect these rights. We do still have some protection in each of the three basic categories, but we are regularly seeing more of these rights being taken away by a government who feels that it knows what is best for us. If America is to remain “the land of the free and the home of the brave,” it must return to protecting these basic rights for all.