Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Final Five: May 16, 2012

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Tonight's Crazy Story:
Man Bitten by Rattlesnake at Idaho Wal-Mart
A man reached down to pick up a stick in the gardening aisle at a Wal-Mart, only to discover that the "stick" was a rattlesnake.

Topic One: Transportation (In)Security
The TSA is now reporting that only slightly more than half of security breaches are actually reported: "On average, only half of the security breaches at six of the country's major airports were reported to and corrected by the Transportation Security Administration during a 16-month period, according to a federal investigation launched after a series of lapses at Newark Liberty International Airport. According to a report released Monday by the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general, Newark had the worst record of the six major airports, with only 42 percent of security breaches reported to TSA headquarters from January 2010 to May 2011."

House Transportation Security Subcommittee Chair Mike Rodgers responds: "Ahead of a congressional hearing on security breaches that plague airports across the country, Rep. Mike Rogers said Wednesday that the TSA must get "smarter, leaner and tougher" for the country to avoid a repeat of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. "TSA likes to talk about their successes and I’m proud of their successes — we haven’t had another successful attack in 10 years. The problem is, we have only have to miss one and it’s a disaster," Rogers (R-Ala.) said on CNN’s "Starting Point." "We want TSA to become smarter, leaner and tougher."

The real problem is that the TSA has done very little to prevent another 9/11 from happening. We are not told to take off our shoes because someone in an office thought that a shoe might be a good place to hide a bomb. We are told to take off our shoes because someone actually took explosives through the security line in his shoe but was foiled by alert passengers. The same goes for many of the other foiled plots. The TSA has been excellent at changing its security procedures in response to these failed attempts, but it has been horrible at actually stopping attacks.

Time for a Laugh:
"As of Friday you'll all be able to buy shares of Facebook. This is perfect for anyone who's ever logged on, looked at pictures of their friend eating a sandwich, and thought, "Now there's a sound investment."
-Conan O'Brien

Topic Two: What the JP Morgan Loss Means
David Harsanyi on why this loss proves we do not need more regulation: "...the kerfuffle surrounding JPMorgan's losses helps ensure that politics will become an even bigger part of finance. Whereas Washington once created an environment in which big banks could act recklessly knowing full well they would be saved by taxpayers, now CEOs, such as JPMorgan's Jamie Dimon, may find themselves increasingly shying away from taking smart risk (or from hedging risk, which credit default swaps do), because any loss will be scrutinized by regulation-happy politicians looking to score points. Now, I have no idea whether JPMorgan Chase is a "well-managed" bank as the president claims, but rather than turning banks into "special" cases, Washington should be working to let them sink or swim on their own."

Robert Samuelson shares what we should learn from this incident: "It's a teachable moment, but what's the right lesson? Already, the $2 billion-plus trading debacle at JPMorgan Chase has inspired a powerful storyline. Nothing has changed since the financial crisis, it's said. Big banks remain out of control, gambling recklessly. If Jamie Dimon's bank, reputed to be one of the best-managed, can get into trouble, what can we expect of the others? Government regulations and regulators need to be tougher to counteract bankers' greed and incompetence. The storyline is marred only by this: Everything in it is exaggerated, misleading or wrong."

Debt Watch:
( As of Tuesday, May 15, 2012 )

Change: +$39,119,338,944
Your share as a citizen: $50,261.31
Share per household: $137,575.86
Debt since Obama inauguration: $5,089,238,563,892

Topic Three: The State Doesn't Know Best
The Boston Globe analyzes a new law designed to curb the rising costs due to Romney's 2006 health care overhaul: "Which brings us to the “ Health Care Quality Improvement and Cost Reduction Act of 2012,” a 178-page bill introduced in the Massachusetts House this month amid jaunty predictions of cheaper insurance premiums for Bay State families and tens of billions of dollars in medical savings over the next 15 years. An even longer bill — 235 pages — has been introduced in the state Senate."

"These bills aren’t written in Latin and they don’t impose the death penalty, but their core principle is not much different from Diocletian’s: The state knows best. What fraction of the local economy should health care consume? How fast should medical spending rise? On what business model should provider networks be organized? How should hospital and doctors fees be calculated? Where should consumers get information on quality and cost of care? When are a provider’s high rates justified? What penalty should it bear when they aren’t? In the world these plans envision, decision after decision comes not through the voluntary interplay of doctors, patients, hospitals, and insurers, but from government agents who impose them from above."

Tweet of the Day:
@OrwellForce: Since it was obviously Obama that told his lit agent he was born in Kenya, it seems pretty safe to say Obama was the first birther

Topic Four: Is Bipartisanship Dead?
Who says bipartisanship is dead? Mitt Romney is crossing the aisle to find an unlikely source for his campaign: Jimmy Carter. Politico says: "But Romney is pursuing his own strategy to puncture Obama’s next-generation cool and paint the president as a retread, comparing him to Jimmy Carter and his fuzzy-headed liberal thinking. To the presumptive GOP presidential candidate, Carter is not just a former president, he’s a potent metaphor and political weapon. "When you mention Jimmy Carter, that lightens up certain regions of the mind and brings to mind ineptness and incompetence," said Peter Wehrer, who worked in the Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush administrations. "That’s going to be one of the things that Romney is going to try and tie to Obama."

Republican/RINO-turned-Democrat Arlen Specter reached out in support of one of his former Republican colleagues this week: "Arlen Specter, the former Pennsylvania moderate most recently used as a cudgel against Rick Santorum in the GOP presidential primary, made the case for Sen. Orrin Hatch in his primary challenge from Dan Liljenquist yesterday on MSNBC's "Melissa Harris-Perry" show. He suggests Dick Lugar was "cannibalized" and adds, "The cannibals are devouring senators."

Maybe this is not exactly the idea that the term "bipartisan" brings to mind. However, campaigns today are finding help in some interesting--and very strange--sources.

Food for Thought - A Quote from our Founders
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is argument of tyrants. It is the creed of slaves."

-William Pitt

Topic Five: Benefiting from Cap-and-Trade
India and China are receiving the biggest benefit from the UN's cap-and-trade system: "The United Nations-administered cap and trade system to reduce planetary greenhouse gases through investment in “green” projects in developing countries has directed most of its billions of dollars in investments to China and India, two of the world’s most notorious polluters. Indeed, China and India together have gotten more than 70 percent of the more than 4,100 projects so far registered for the system, while most developing nations, aside from a handful, have gotten hardly any at all, according to the system’s own accounts."

But that's certainly not all. Besides benefiting the "developing nations" of China and India, the report also admits that the program is not even reaching its own goals of greenhouse gas emissions: "The question of whether it has, in fact, reduced global greenhouse emissions by the equivalent of some 927 million tons of carbon, as heralded by the carbon reduction certificates tallied on the CDM website is also open to vigorous dispute. In all, "one gets the impression of a mechanism that has not delivered on its objectives as well as many had hoped," as the European Commission consultants delicately put it, while they critiqued the cap and trade system’s "lack of transparency," "inconsistency of decisions," "conflicts of interest," and extensive support for "unsustainable technology for emissions reduction."

Tomorrow in History
May 17, 1875 - The first running of the Kentucky Derby. The race would be won by Aristides.

Grab Bag - Interesting and Important Stories to Conclude Your Evening:
The backlash on student testing

The follies of Taxifornia

The path to Social Security insolvency

Obama only leads by 7 in Arkansas's fourth district

ObamaCare is a $1 trillion boost to insurers

Companies using short political surveys to get around "Do Not Call"

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