Saturday, July 23, 2011

Breaking Down Solar Energy

RedState has a great article on solar energy and why it is not the solution to our energy problems. You can view it here.

Obama Stretching Truth in Debt Debate

President Obama continued his campaign of half-truths yesterday, claiming that Bill O'Reilly supports his plan to raise taxes. However, the problem is that Bill O'Reilly stated that he does not support tax increases; he only supports a reform of the tax code. This follows last week's assertion that 80 percent of Americans support him on raising taxes. While a Gallup poll did find that only 20 percent of people supported only spending cuts to balance the deficit, the remaining 80 percent includes a 6 percent group that said "Unsure/Other."

The problem is that the President has produced no plan for solving the deficit problem. He states that we need to do it, but refuses to tell us how he thinks it should be done. The House presented us with Cut, Cap, and Balance. The Senate has presented us with the Gang of Six proposal. Where is the plan from the White House? Maybe the President should spend more time with a pen describing how he wants to cut the deficit than he spends using his mouth trying to convince us that everyone is behind his vague, unwritten ideas.

Move On Ad Attacks News Corp.

Throughout the ongoing News of the World saga in Britain, I had to continually ask if this would be as big of an issue here if it did not involve News Corp, the parent company of FOX News. While I certainly cannot condone the actions of News of the World, it seems that the media is making a proverbial "mountain out of a molehill" in this case. Now, MoveOn has released a new ad asking people to demand that Congress investigate News Corp. An investigation may be warranted in this case, especially if there is evidence to corroborate the claim that the phones of some Americans may have been hacked. However, this ad makes it appear that it was FOX News and the Wall Street Journal involved in the hacking, not a British tabloid.

Home Depot Co-Founder Says President's Output Is "Incredibly Bad"

In an interview with Investor's Business Daily, Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus had some critical words for President Obama. When asked about the biggest impediment to job growth, Marcus stated that it was the government regulations. He went on to say that Obama's speeches on eliminating and streamlining regulations are wonderful, but his output is bad. When asked about the debt debate, Marcus stated that "even brain-dead economists understand that when you raise taxes, you cost jobs."

Home Depot is not known for supporting conservative causes. However, Marcus is on the spot regarding this issue. Until the government gets out of the way and lets the free market work, we will never see the type of business development we saw in previous generations.

When Will Congress Reach The Debt Limit?

When the government hit the debt limit on May 16, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner announced that he could use "extraordinary measures" to extend borrowing until August 2. Ever since that time, August 2 has been the date that has been announced to the world as the deadline. However, the Barclays Interest Rates Research team said yesterday that the deadline might not be August 2. The change is in part due to $14 billion more than expected in receipts and $1 billion less than expected in expenditures.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Debt Debate Going to the Airwaves

SEIU has begun an advertising campaign claiming that Republicans are driving the economy off of a cliff. Each ad is personalized for the Congressman in the district it will air. Here's an example of the ad for Richard Hanna, representing New York's 24th district.


However, the Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee has launched an advertising campaign of its own, comparing Washington's reckless spending to a drug.


Texas Board Rejects Inclusion of Intelligent Design

In an update to a story posted last night, the Texas Board of Education voted to reject a proposal to include materials showing that Darwin's theory of evolution was not proven and that life on earth was a result of intelligent design. Reuters has the story available here.

TSA to Overhaul Body Scanners

Wired is reporting that the TSA is planning to implement new software that will eliminate the "nude body scans" currently being conducted on airline passengers. The new software will automatically identify the location of suspicious objects and will display the location on a generic human outline. Because no picture of the person being scanned will be displayed, passengers will be allowed to see the images that the TSA agents see as they pass through the security line.

On the surface, this appears to be good news for freedom. No longer will TSA agents be able to "see under your clothes" when you visit an airport. Since no image of the person being scanned is displayed, then the agents monitoring the scanners can be moved back to the same location, and the scanner images are can be viewed by the passengers. Allowing the public to see what goes on is always good for freedom. However, my concern deals with the sensitivity of the software. Since the software relies on a computer to identify potential items, will this software give agents the excuse to conduct more pat downs and other intrusive "security measures" because of false readings? Well-written software could greatly improve the screening process (although I still feel that it would be too intrusive), but poorly-written software could make it even worse.

Texas Conservative Group Blocked from Twitter

The EmpowerTexans organization is reporting that its Twitter account was suspended on Monday, along with the accounts of all its staff. The group claims that it has never knowingly violated Twitter's rules, and the only response it has received from Twitter is an auto-response claiming the account was suspended for an unspecified violation of Twitter's rules.

Twitter is a private entity and therefore has the right to choose who uses its accounts. However, silencing political speech is likely to cause other people to stop using its service. It also raises questions about social media and censorship. I am a firm believer in freedom, and therefore, I do not think that social media sites should be regulated or forced to adopt certain censorship rules. However, we have the freedom to choose what social media sites we use, and if one chooses to censor conservatives, then we have the freedom to not use their services.

Canadian Middle School Practicing Sharia Law

The Blaze is reporting that a Toronto middle school is coming under fire for what some view as the practice of Sharia Law taking place within the school. The district argues that freedom of religion trumps education laws in the country. However, the school is in clear violation of the law as it allows an outside imam to come and hold Friday prayers on school property during the school day. The Education Act reads "Subject to subsections (2) and (3), a board shall not permit any person to conduct religious exercises or to provide instruction that includes indoctrination in a particular religion or religious belief in a school." The subsections provide allowances for activities not endorsed by the board and taking place outside of the regular school day. Menstruating girls are forced to sit in the back and not take part, another element of Sharia law.

Although this is happening in Canada, it could very soon be happening in the United States as well. This raises two questions for me. First, is this policy non-discriminatory. If Catholic services are allowed on their holy days and other religious groups are allowed to hold prayer services for their students, then the Muslim prayer sessions could possibly be justified. However, if it is just the Muslims allowed to access, then the school is in violation of the law. Second, it is not clear from the article whether the segregation of the menstruating girls is just during the prayer service or at all times. If it is at all times, are non-Muslim girls required to separate as well? If so, that would be forcing Muslim beliefs on others.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Texas School Board to Debate Public School Curriculum

Normally, discussions about a state's curriculum would not be on this site. However, because the discussion involves whether the state will teach only the theory of evolution or both evolution and creationism, it is important. Today, the Texas State Board of Education is meeting to determine science standards for the upcoming school year, and at least six of the fifteen members are proposing that "creationism" and "intelligent design" be included in the standards. One organization opposing the change claims that the board chairman is attempting to put her personal beliefs into science instruction, but others have said that she is simply trying to put all sides of a controversial issue in education.

It is amazing to me how liberals claim that they are "pro-choice" in one area, yet in many other areas they are anti-choice. No one can prove how the earth and life began; everyone must choose what they believe based on evidence and accept it by faith. However, liberals seem to want to censor one side of the discussion and force everyone to believe the same way that they believe. There is nothing more anti-choice than using the government to silencing any views that oppose your opposition. Fortunately, the Texas School Board is more conservative than most, and some of its members are willing to take a stand. The vote will be held on Friday, and I will post here as soon as I hear a result.

Cut, Cap, and Balance Reaction

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid attacked the House's Cut, Cap, and Balance legislation, but Republican Senator Tom Coburn says he thinks that President Obama will break down and sign it. Reid stated on the Senate floor today that the House proposal is "some of the worst legislation in the history of the country" and that he is "not going to waste the Senate's time day after day on this piece of legislation." However, Tom Coburn stated that if Obama is "presented this bill, he's gonna sign it" because "this is the only viable plan."

While Reid's comments on the Senate floor let everyone know his opinion about Cut, Cap, and Balance, he offers no alternatives. He also claims that the bill represents "an anathema to what our country is all about." I do not know what Mr. Reid thinks this country is all about, but I do not think it is free spending on borrowed money.

Barbara Boxer's New Hero: Ronald Reagan

Barbara Boxer has found a new hero, someone she says she finds herself quoting often. That hero is none other than conservative icon Ronald Reagan. Boxer says that conservatives should look to Reagan's statements and remember that we should not risk the full faith and credit of the United States. Picking up on Boxer's lead, the Congressional Progressive Caucus sent a letter to all Republicans reminding them of Reagan's statements.

If we want to discuss risking the faith and credit of the United States, then maybe we should talk about the $14.3 Trillion debt that the United States has. We will have the cash to avoid default, should the treasury deem that to be priority. However, we cannot allow the government to continue to spend money unrestrained. Both parties say that we must raise the debt ceiling, yet until recently, only one has presented any proposal on reducing spending. If the President really sees spending as a problem, then he needs to support a proposal or present one of his own.

The Media and Bachmann's Headaches

Apparently running out of derogatory things to say about Michelle Bachmann, the media has focused its attention on her headaches. Yesterday, the Bachmann campaign released a letter from Congress' attending physician stating that tests had yielded normal results.

I cannot think of any other candidate for any office who has had his or her health questioned, but that is not going to stop the media from talking about Bachmann's health. The press seems determined to keep this issue alive for as long as possible. One reporter even wanted to ask if the migraines caused her to miss any votes, but why did the media not seem to care about all the no-votes or present votes cast by our current President while he was in the Senate. Unfortunately, the truth is becoming clear. The press will not stop attempting to destroy her candidacy until she loses or quits. However, there's one question that needs to be answered: Is the media really concerned about her headaches, or are they just trying to cause more of them for her?

FOX Supporting Democrats?

Federal documents show that News Corp, parent company of FOX News, donated tens of thousands of dollars to a variety of politicians and political committees. However, the majority of those benefiting from News Corp's money were Democrats. Three democratic senators and six democratic representatives received four-figured donations, alongside a $20,000 donation to two democratic organizations.

If FOX is the mouthpiece of the Republican party, as many claim, then why would it's profits be supporting Democrats such as Richard Blumenthal? Could it be that News Corp is living up to its subsidiary's motto, "Fair and balanced"?

MSNBC Host Opposes Close Ties Between Government and Media; Then Supports Them

On Wednesday's Morning Joe, MSNBC Host Martin Bashir complained about the close ties between the British government and Murdoch's News Corp. However, his solution is to create more government regulation of the media, resulting in closer ties between government and media. Or perhaps, he only wants government regulation of certain media.

Freedom of the press exists for a reason: the press is to be the watchdog that keeps the government in check. Our government was set up with checks and balances, but if all three branches become out of control, then the press exists to stop them. If the government is able to regulate the press, then the government controls the press. Then the press is no longer watching the government, but it instead becomes the government's mouthpiece. Anything supporting the government is allowed; anything opposing the government is censored.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Arizona Begins Raising Funds for Border Fence

The state of Arizona is continuing to do what the federal government refuses to do: secure the border. This time, Arizona is launching an initiative to raise money in order to build a fence across the border. Build the Border Fence allows people to donate money in order to help build a fence across the border. In its first day of operation, the site reportedly raised over $40,000.

Arizona has taken controversial steps recently in an attempt to secure its border. While some of those steps may not be successful, it is still bringing attention to a problem that would otherwise be ignored by the media. Hopefully, they can raise the $50 million they need and build the fence.

Recent Hacked Death Announcements

Apparently the latest fad among hackers is to write someone's obituary, hack into their website, and post it. In the past 24 hours, two different websites have been hacked and had death announcements placed for their leaders. The first was for News Corp. President Rupert Murdoch. Then, Taliban leader Mullah Omar was reported dead earlier this morning.

This is likely an attempt to bring confusion to the news world. At a time when the majority of news sources are filled with some type of bias, it becomes even more difficult to trust the news when stories are posted that are not accurate. As major hackings become more common, more people will begin to wonder if there is anyone they can completely trust.

Professor Stands Up For Persecuted Chinese Church

America has freedom of religion. China does not. However, a recent letter published by a professor of religious studies in Beijing stands up for a persecuted religious group in the world's largest country. Chinese leaders have taken efforts to stop the outdoor worship of the Shouwang Church, a 1000 member church that has refused to affiliate with the Three-Self Patriotic Church, the only legal "church" in China. Church members have lost their jobs, been evicted from homes, and been forced to leave the area due to their choice of religion.

In America, we are taking our freedom of religion for granted. Our freedoms are being hindered on a daily basis, but the majority of Americans do not seem to care. Very few Americans would attend a church if they knew that they could be arrested and detained upon leaving. However, over 1000 Chinese take this risk every Sunday in order to worship. We could soon be headed for the day when, like China, people will have to take a risk in order to go to church. Unfortunately, if this happens, will there be anyone still attending church?

Is Your Phone Spying on You?

For most people, the attitude towards their cell phone can be best expressed in the American Express advertising slogan, "Don't leave home without it." I am sure that I am not the only one who has left home only to think, "Do I have my cell phone?" However, as Wired reports, your phone is already giving away your location.

Technology called TruePosition can accurately track your location down to 50 meters by using cell phone signals. This technology is already available to emergency personnel, allowing them to determine your location if you make a 911 call. However, it could also be used in the future to verify or dispute a location claim. If charged with a crime, your phone records could potentially verify or destroy your alibi. As the article mentions, it could also be used by a dictator to determine who is attending a protest. While the ability to track a potentially injured person who makes a 911 call but is unable to say anything can be beneficial, the ability to track anyone at any time is not.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Clinton to Obama: Ignore Congress

In an interview with the National Memo, Former President Bill Clinton stated that he would raise the debt ceiling and "force the courts to stop me" by invoking the Fourteenth Amendment. He went on to say that lifting the debt ceiling is necessary in order to pay for the appropriations already made.

The relevant clause of the Fourteenth Amendment states:

The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.

A few important comments regarding the wording of this amendment:

1) This amendment does not force the Treasury to pay the debt, only to back its validity. An unpaid debt is still a valid debt. If a homeowner stops paying a mortgage, the debt is still valid even though the homeowner has defaulted. To say this amendment requires that the debt ceiling be increased in order to avoid a default (which is a false statement) denies the actual wording of the amendment. Even if the U.S. did default, the debt would still be valid.

2) The only valid debts are those "authorized by law." The President cannot unilaterally make a law. Therefore, any debt that is considered "valid" under the fourteenth amendment must be approved by Congress.

As has already been stated on this blog, failure to raise the debt ceiling only means that the Treasury will not be able to meet all of its obligations, not that it cannot meet any of them. The government can still pay the interest on the debt, and it can still reissue bonds to replace the ones that have matured. The government can still mail out Social Security checks and pay doctors for Medicare and Medicaid bills. However, the Treasury will be forced to prioritize spending in order to keep it under the money that comes in. Should this happen, we will see the priorities of this administration. Will they choose to pay the interest on the debt, or does the administration not care about a default? Will they choose to keep their obligations for Social Security and Medicare, or does the administration not care about our Seniors? Should no agreement be reached, the priorities of this administration will definitely be exposed.

Rep. Mick Mulvaney on the Debt Ceiling

Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) gave an outstanding speech today prior to the House vote on Cut, Cap, and Balance. He discusses some of the false claims being made in the debt ceiling debate.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Daily Dose: July 18, 2011

It's time for The Daily Dose, a daily update on all the news affecting your freedom.

Starting in Indiana...

Indiana Runs Budget Surplus of $1.2 Billion; Democrats Upset
Indiana's state auditor announced last week that the government had a $1.2 billon surplus in the previous fiscal year. Republicans welcomed the news, saying that it showed that governments do not need to raise taxes in order to balance the budget. However, Democrats were upset about the cuts in budgets because of the "obsessive need" to maintain a surplus. Perhaps Indiana's Democrats should visit the CEOs of some corporations and see how they feel about "obsessive" surpluses. You can read more here.

Moving across the state line to Chicago...

Is Rahm Emmanuel Turning Into A ... Republican?
Chicago mayor and former Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel has announced that he is cutting 625 jobs and privatizing several government departments in order to balance a $30 billion budget deficit. These types of moves are what we would expect to see from some Republican governors, not a former Obama staff member. You can read more from the Chicago Tribune here.

Moving to Atlanta...

Education Scandal Could Have Far-Reaching Impact
Atlanta's newspaper has an article describing the impact that the recent scandals in the Atlanta Public School system could have on the local economy. It states that the impact would likely be small if the offenders are dealt with quickly, but that the impact could be much larger if it takes time to address the problem. You can read more here.

Finally...

RedState has a good article describing the truth and lies surrounding the debt ceiling debate. You can read that here.

That's all for The Daily Dose. Be sure to check back tomorrow for the latest news!