Friday, February 3, 2012

The Final Five: February 3, 2012

The Final Five: Bedtime Stories for Conservatives
February 3, 2012

Tonight's Crazy Story:
Artist Plans to Bury Boeing 727 Jetliner in Calif. Desert
In a new twist on what qualifies as "art", a Swiss artist plans to bury a Boeing 727 jet in a desert and then build a tunnel so that others can see it. Exactly what he intends to accomplish with this project is beyond me.


Topic One: Unemployment
It's the first Friday of the month, so that means January's unemployment numbers were out today. Unemployment dropped again, and even better, the labor participation rate was up. White House economic adviser Alan Krueger called the gains encouraging and said, "Today's employment report provides further evidence that the economy is continuing to heal from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression." Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner stated, "There's welcome news in this latest jobs report as more Americans found work last month, but the fact is our unemployment rate is still far too high. Our economy still isn't creating jobs the way it should be and that's why we need a new approach."

While the numbers do offer some hope, they still paint a grim picture. The White House will certainly try to take credit for the improvement. However, it was not until a group of people went to Washington and stood their ground against increased spending and deficits that the economy began improving. Bailouts and stimulus did not improve the economy, but after some in Washington forced Congress into a small amount of fiscal restraint, the economy did begin to improve. There certainly were other reasons as well, and the President may even be responsible for some of them. However, I believe that one major reason for the improvement we are seeing now is that business owners now feel more confident that Washington will make decisions that have a positive effect on them.


There's Always Time for a Laugh:
"Donald Trump announced that he’s endorsing Mitt Romney for president. It was really nice. Trump was like, 'There’s only one man with the brains, the skills, and the charisma to be president — but since I’m not running, you might as well vote for Mitt Romney.'"
-Jimmy Fallon


Topic Two: STOCK Act
The STOCK Act passed the Senate yesterday by a vote of 96-3. This bill would ban members of Congress from trading on information they received as a result of their position. It now moves to the House, and if approved, it will go to the President, who has promised to sign it "right away." However, FOX News has a list of other laws Congress from which Congress has exempted itself. Perhaps it is time for us to demand that members of Congress live under all of the laws that it passes for the rest of us, not just the ones they want to live under. If we implemented this one requirement, I think we would be living under much less restrictive laws and regulations.


Debt Watch:
Thursday, the government added $20,628,174,789.89 to the national debt, bringing the total debt to:
$15,351,406,294,640.49


Topic Three: Unions and Right-to-Work
With the recent addition of Indiana, 23 states are now right-to-work states. Jeff Jacoby has a great piece on the benefits of right-to-work legislation. "To hear them tell it, they only object to "free riders." Labor leaders claim it would be unjust to allow employees to avoid paying for the unions that negotiate benefits on their behalf. "There's always going to be a certain amount of the population that will take something for free if they can get it for free," says Nancy Guyott, head of the Indiana AFL-CIO. That's not a principle, it's a shameless pretext. Unions demand monopoly bargaining power -- the right to exclusively represent everyone in a workplace -- and then insist that each of those workers must pay for the privilege. This is the "principle" of the squeegee-man who aggressively wipes your windshield when you stop at a red light, then demands that you pay for the service he has rendered you."

At RedState, a former union representative describes the benefits and downsides of right-to-work legislation. A measure to put right-to-work on the ballot in Indiana failed, but a petition to force a similar measure is being passed around Ohio. However, as the article mentions, "If successful in getting enough signatures to have the initiative placed on the ballot, Littleton and his compadres will likely do nothing more than ensure an Obama victory in Ohio. With unions collecting more than $8 billion per year in union dues, no amount of money Littleton can raise will be enough to outspend the unions on the issue Right-to-Work—as evidenced by the recent fight over SB5 (Issue 2) in November."


Tweets of the Day:
Larry O'Connor (@LarryOConnor): Ironic that the left pretends to be against bullying and then treats Komen the way they did. #tcot


Topic Four: The Buffett Rule
Michael Kinsley has a piece describing the the problem that the Buffett Rule will not fix. "The Buffett Rule would just paper over mistakes in our tax system that ought to be fixed. Let’s be clear: The reason that many millionaires pay so little income tax is that Republicans in the White House and the Congress wanted it that way." Although I disagree with his views on many of the peripheral issues he raises, I agree with his principal point that the Buffett Rule will delay a true reform of the tax code. We do not need a new rule that does nothing more than institute a second Alternative Minimum Tax while still allowing a myriad of deductions; we need to have a "fundamental transformation" of the American tax code.


Food for Thought - A Quote from our Founders
"How could a readiness for war in time of peace be safely prohibited, unless we could prohibit, in like manner, the preparations and establishments of every hostile nation?"
-James Madison


Topic Five: Regulations
Henry Miller writes about the failure of Obama's regulatory reforms. "Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan wrote recently that America's obvious decline is due in part to our having elevated and elected salesmen — "people good on the hustings and good in the room, facile creatures with good people skills" — above people who really care about and understand the product, which is competent and coherent government. To make that product, she said, "you need a certain depth of experience. You need to know the facts, the history, how the system works, what the people want, what the moment demands." We don't have that, and the posturing and fakery by the president and his minions will become increasingly evident as their "regulatory reforms" fail to stimulate investment, grow the economy and create jobs. In the meantime, their cant and falsity will exact a huge price."


Tomorrow in History
February 4, 1789 - George Washington was unanimously elected by the electoral college to serve as the the first President of the United States.


Grab Bag - Interesting and Important Stories to Conclude Your Evening

How Israel keeps us safe

Lawmaker wants to ban government-funded anti-junk food legislation

GOP states balloon and approach Democrat number

ACLU fights release of Wisconsin petition signers

The Greek bailout cycle

Quoting Jesus, Obama demands more tax revenue

Payroll tax conference committee avoids discussing payroll tax cuts

Supreme Court justice says US Constitution is not that great


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Washington Update: February 3, 2012

Senate
Yesterday's Action:
Following several votes on amendments, the Senate passed the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act by a vote of 96-3. The Senate also approved S. Res. 367, designating January 2012 as "National Mentoring Month".

Today's Schedule:
The Senate will not meet today. The Senate's next scheduled meeting is set for Monday, February 6 at 2:00 PM.

Senate Committee Meetings:
There are no Senate committee meetings today.


House
Yesterday's Action:
The House passed H.R. 3582, the "Pro-Growth Budgeting Act of 2012", by a vote of 242-179. The House than began consideration of H.R. 3578, the "Baseline Reform Act", but no vote was taken on the measure.

Today's Schedule:
The House will meet today at 9:00 AM to finish considering H.R. 3578, the "Baseline Reform Act of 2012" and the conference report for H.R. 658, the "FAA Reauthorization and Reform Act".

House Committee Meetings:
There are nine House committee meetings today:
  • The Committee on Armed Services, Subcommittee on Military Personnel and Oversight and Investigations, will hold a hearing on accountability at Arlington National Cemetery.
  • The Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy, will hold a hearing titled "Evaluating Internal Operation and Implementation of the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards program (CFATS) by the Department of Homeland Security".
  • The Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Energy and Power, will continue a hearing on creating American jobs.
  • The Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Management, will examine whether the Dept. of Homeland Security has an effective strategy to counter terror threats.
  • The Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Courts, Commercial and Administrative Law, will consider two measures: H.R. 3041, the "Federal Consent Decree Fairness Act" and H.R. 3862, the "Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act".
  • The Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, will consider three measures: H.R. 491, to modify the boundaries of Cibola National Forest, H.R. 3685, to amend the Herger-Feinstein Quincy Library Group Forest Recovery Act, and S. 271, the "Wallowa Forest Service Compound Conveyance Act".
  • The Committee on Rules will hold a hearing on H.R. 1734, the "Civilian Property Realignment Act".
  • The Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, will hold a hearing on fostering quality science at the EPA.
  • The Committee on Ways and Means will hold markup on the "Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Financing Act of 2012".


Joint Committee Meetings
The Joint Economic Committee will examine the January 2012 unemployment report.

All information is taken from the Congressional Register.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Final Five: February 2, 2012

The Final Five: Bedtime Stories for Conservatives
February 2, 2012

Tonight's Crazy Story:
N.J. Petting Zoo Camel Predicts Giants Will Win Super Bowl
A camel in a New Jersey petting zoo has a knack for picking football winners, and much to the dismay of Tom Brady and Chad Ochocinco, she picked the New York Giants to win this Sunday.


Topic One: Iran
An Israeli official confirmed what US officials had already said: Iran could have a nuclear weapon by the end of the year. Why should this concern America? First, we must continue to support Israel. Every nation that has stood against Israel has found itself on the wrong side of history. If we stand idly while allowing Iran to gain the weaponry it needs to destroy Israel, we will be punished by God. Second, Iran views the destruction of America as a second goal. What Iran does to Israel is the same as what Iran will attempt to do to us. If we refuse to defend Israel from attack, we will soon find Iran's weaponry pointed in our direction.


There's Always Time for a Laugh:
"A woman in Illinois is auctioning off a 2005 Chrysler that once belonged to President Obama. You can tell it was Obama's car because it gets out to a fast start, and then stalls for the next three years."
-Jimmy Fallon


Topic Two: Fast and Furious
The Fast and Furious scandal just keeps getting more and more interesting. We have now known about this program for 13 months, but we have yet to find out exactly who authorized it or knew about it. The blame has been placed on low-level officials in the Justice Department, and Holder has claimed ignorance. However, he refuses to release documents related to the program. This led Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) to write to Holder, "Your actions lead us to conclude that the department is actively engaged in a cover-up." The NY Post calls it a "whitewash".

Meanwhile, despite the 13-month window, Holder also has yet to take action against those he says are responsible. He told the House committee investigating the scandal that they would occur within the next six months. Issa is threatening contempt charges against Holder if he refused to release all the documents related to the program, but Holder seems unconcerned. Issa does not seem likely to give up his quest for the truth either, so this could be a very interesting battle, especially as the election draws closer.


Debt Watch:
Following its spending binge over the past two days that has added almost $100 billion to the debt, the government reduced the debt by $25,362,373,765.46, bringing the current debt total to:
$15,330,778,119,850.60


Topic Three: Preventing Piracy
American Thinker has a great analysis of the problems of SOPA. "One of the greatest failings of the statist mentality is the belief that society can be easily controlled. Combine that flawed belief with the desire to correct every real and perceived wrong in the world, and you get a busybody government attempting to do exactly that. Add in some real criminals, who will adapt to everything that government does, and you get a busybody government with an ever-growing nose stuck into (and messing up) everyone's business."

"As long as copyright and the printing press have existed, there has always been someone out to make money off someone else's work. Every time RIAA or the MPAA sees someone download a movie, TV show, or song, its members see the loss of a potential sale. Vaudeville claimed that the record player would end live performances, the recording industry claimed that audio tape would end album sales, the movie industry claimed that videotape would kill the movie theater, and the video industry claimed that digital downloads would end the DVD. All of that is still around, and stronger than ever. Even stranger, they are all the same industries, and these exact same industries are using that exact same reasoning to promote SOPA and PIPA, and they are no more correct today than they were then."


Tweets of the Day:
Michelle Malkin (@michellemalkin): Dear White House & Dems: #fastandfurious investigation is not a "witch hunt." It's a truth hunt.


Topic Four: Tax Rates
Richard Salsman has a great article on Obama's concept of fairness. "Mr. Obama likewise accepts a false theory of “fairness” that rejects the common-sense, merit-based concept of justice that older Americans might recognize as “desert,” where justice means we deserve (or earn) what we get in life, if by our free choice." However, Larry Elder writes about an even bigger problem with taxes: the people who want to talk about them do not pay them.

Meanwhile, Washington is working on extension of the payroll tax cuts. It is amazing how both parties say they want the extension, but they cannot seem to agree on how to pass it. The debate is not over the tax cut itself; it is over peripheral issues that have nothing to do with the tax cuts. Both parties--believing that neither party will stand against these cuts--are trying to use the tax cut extension as a vehicle to implement changes in other policies. Republicans are trying to use the bill to push further spending cuts and the Keystone Pipeline, and Democrats are trying to use the bill to push tax hikes in other areas. Rather than focusing on these other issues, perhaps one party should just propose a clean tax cut extension with no strings attached and allow an up-or-down vote on it.


Food for Thought - A Quote from our Founders
"I have been happy... in believing that... whatever follies we may be led into as to foreign nations, we shall never give up our Union, the last anchor of our hope, and that alone which is to prevent this heavenly country from becoming an arena of gladiators."
-Thomas Jefferson


Topic Five: ObamaCare
Ann Coulter defends the healthcare record of Mitt Romney in her latest piece, "Three Cheers for Romneycare!" She does a good job at defending the Constitutionality of RomneyCare, but she ignores the problem with the law. Yes, a state can force its citizens to purchase health insurance, but that does not mean that it should force its citizens to purchase insurance. As Massachusetts is showing, individual mandates and government subsidies are not conducive to lowering costs without severe rationing.


Tomorrow in History
February 3, 2008 - After becoming the first team in NFL history to finish 16-0, the undefeated New England Patriots are defeated by the New York Giants 17-14 in Super Bowl XLII. (This year's Super Bowl will be a rematch of these two teams.)


Grab Bag - Interesting and Important Stories to Conclude Your Evening

Biden advised against bin Laden raid

Rand Paul to challenge recess appointments

STOCK Act gets bogged down with pork

Arizona panel approves collective bargaining ban

Government hiding airfare taxes

House keeps federal employee pay freeze in place

Can a failed program ever be killed?


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Washington Update: February 2, 2012

Senate
Yesterday's Action:
The Senate passed four measures by unanimous consent:
  • S. Res. 359, H.R. 588, to redesignate the Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge as the Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge.
  • S. 1296, to revise the boundaries of John H. Chafee Coastal Barrier Resources System Sachuest Point Unit RI-04P, Easton Beach Unit RI-05P, Almy Pond Unit RI-06, and Hazards Beach Unit RI-07 in the State of Rhode Island.
  • S. Res. 365, honoring the life of Kevin Hagan White, the Mayor of Boston, Massachusetts from 1968 to 1984.
  • S. Res. 366, honoring the life of dissident and democracy activist Wilman Villar Mendoza.

The Senate then moved to consider S. 2038, the "Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act". Numerous amendments were proposed to the bill, and an agreement was reached to continue consideration at 11:00 AM on Thursday, February 2.

Today's Schedule:
The Senate will meet at 9:30 AM to conduct morning business, and it will then hold further consideration of S. 2038, the "Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act" by 11:00 AM.

Senate Committee Meetings:
There are seven Senate committee meetings today:
  • The Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs will consider "The Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Human Rights Act of 2012" and the "Federal Public Transportation Act of 2012".
  • The Committee on the Budget will hold hearings on the budget and economic outlook for fiscal years 2012-2022.
  • The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will examine the report from the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future.
  • The Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions will examine innovations in college affordability.
  • The Committee on Indian Affairs will hold hearings on three bills: S. 1739, to provide for the use and distribution of judgment funds awarded to the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe by the United States Court of Federal Claims in Docket Numbers 19 and 188, S. 356, to amend the Grand Ronde Reservation Act to make technical corrections, and S. 908, to provide for the addition of certain real property to the reservation of the Siletz Tribe in the State of Oregon.
  • The Committee on the Judiciary will consider S. 1925, to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, S. 1945, to permit the televising of Supreme Court proceedings, and three nominations.
  • The Select Committee on Intelligence will hold a closed hearing to examine intelligence matters.


House
Yesterday's Action:
The House passed four measures under suspension of the rules:
  • H.R. 3835, to extend the pay limitation for Members of Congress and Federal employees, by a vote of 309-117.
  • H. Res. 496, to adjust the amount provided for the expenses of certain committees of the House of Representatives.
  • H.R. 3567, the "Welfare Integrity Now for Children and Families Act", by a vote of 395-27.
  • H. Con. Res. 90, authorizing the printing of the 25th edition of the pocket version of the United States Constitution
  • H.R. 1173, the "Fiscal Responsibility and Retirement Security Act of 2011", by a vote of 267-159


Today's Schedule:
The House will meet at 10:00 AM. The House will consider a conference report for H.R. 658, the "FAA Reauthorization and Reform Act." The House will then consider two bills: H.R. 3582, the "Pro-Growth Budgeting Act" and H.R. 3578, the "Baseline Reform Act."

House Committee Meetings:
There are twelve House committee meetings today:
  • The Committee on the Budget will examine the state of the US economy.
  • The Committee on Education and the Workforce, Subcommittee on Health, Labor and Pensions, will examine the impact of defined benefit pension plans.
  • The Committee on Financial Services, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, will hold a hearing on the collapse of MF Global.
  • The Committee on Foreign Affairs will hold a hearing to examine the current state of Iran.
  • The Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights, will examine US policy related to the Democratic Republic of Congo
  • The Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on the Constitution, will examine problems in state enforcement of federal laws.
  • The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will examine the failures of the Fast and Furious project.
  • The Committee on Small Business, Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy and Trade, will examine the effect of Dept. of Labor regulations on the family farm.
  • The Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure will hold a hearing on the "American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act".
  • The Committee on Veterans' Affairs, Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity, will examine ways to lower the unemployment rate for those serving in the National Guard.
  • The Committee on Ways and Means, Subcommittee on Social Security, will hold a hearing on the accuracy and uses of the Social Security Administration's Death Master File.
  • The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence will hold a partially closed hearing on world threats.


Joint Committee Meetings
The conference committee on H.R. 3630, to extend the payroll tax holiday, unemployment compensation, Medicare physician payment, provide for the consideration of the Keystone XL pipeline, will meet today.

All information is taken from the Congressional Register.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Final Five: February 1, 2012

The Final Five: Bedtime Stories for Conservatives
February 1, 2012

Tonight's Crazy Story:
Lost Nantucket Boat Found Years Later Near Spain
In August 2008, two men on a fishing boat were thrown into the water and swam to shore as they watched their boat drift away into the Atlantic. Now, that boat has surfaced off the coast of Spain.


Topic One: ObamaCare
Carrie Lukas at the Independent Women's Forum has a great analysis of the effects of RomneyCare in Massachusetts. "Massachusetts has the nation's highest insurance premiums. Studies estimate that the employer-mandate has resulted in 18,000 fewer jobs in the Bay State. Massachusetts is moving to implement costs savings measures, such as boards that set specific treatment protocols that doctors and medical professionals must follow. Another expert panel will deal specifically with end-of-life care. McCaughey reports that Massachusetts will be launching a p.r. campaign in hopes of changing how and where people choose to die. Less than one quarter of Massachusetts residents die at home, and the state wants to boost that percentage." Higher premiums, fewer jobs, government-controlled doctors, and cost control sound similar to the "crazy rhetoric" that was criticized during the debate over the Affordable Care Act, but it is a reality of the single-state version now in effect in the Bay State. The CBO confirms it in a recent report, saying that government spending on healthcare will double in the next ten years.

Meanwhile, the law's assault on our religious liberties continues. Two great articles on the impact of the first amendment on the legislation from RedState and American Thinker. From the RedState article, "Catholics are bound by the Law of Moses expressed in The Decalogue not to commit murder. The Catholic Church considers an unborn child a fully-corporate, living human being. Abortion, kinetic or chemical, terminates this life and hence violates the Sixth Commandment of the Ten. Paying for this act to take place (by buying insurance or paying the penalty fee for not providing the insurance) would make the Church morally culpable for every one of these murders that occurred under the auspices of an ObamaCare-approved employer insurance plan. Sec. Sibelius has just ordered the Catholic Church to directly violate a fundamental precept of their faith." As I mentioned yesterday, this not only applies to Catholic institutions, but also to institutions of all religions, and ultimately, it forces each individual to choose between violating his or her code of morality or paying a fine to the government for refusing to do so.


There's Always Time for a Laugh:
"A student at the University of Wisconsin in Madison spent 90 days technology free. He went without a cell phone, Facebook, Twitter, or any social media of any kind. And you know what really improved? His driving!"
-Jay Leno


Topic Two: Tax Reform
Robert Samuelson on the death of tax reform: "Almost everyone favors "tax reform" in the abstract: Broaden the tax base by reducing deductions, credits and other tax breaks; and then cut top tax rates. But this sort of sweeping tax reform is usually a political nonstarter, and if you want to understand why, take a look at the tax proposals in President Obama's State of the Union address. His recommendations include: a new corporate tax credit to subsidize moving jobs from abroad back to the United States; a tax credit for companies locating in communities that were "hit hard when a factory left town"; extension of "temporary" tax credits to promote U.S.-produced windmills and solar panels. These are precisely the special breaks that complicate the tax code and push up top rates."

The debate comes down to what is best to stimulate the economy: another round of government spending accompanied by high taxes on the wealthiest, or cutting taxes for everyone while simultaneously cutting spending. We have tried the high spending and it has not worked. The economy only began to recover when people saw that there was a small element of fiscal sanity in the government. When job creators saw that there was an element in Congress willing to stand for spending cuts instead of compromise, they were willing to start taking on a little more risk.


Debt Watch:
Yesterday, the government increased the debt by $61,087,914,898.05, bringing the total debt to:
$15,356,140,493,616.06


Topic Three: Debt
The new CBO report estimates that our deficits will top $1 trillion for the fourth year in a row, and debt by 2022 will likely come close to $30 trillion. The report also says that deficits could be reduced by allowing the Bush tax cuts to lapse at the end of this year, but growth would be slowed to a mere 1.1 percent. Daniel Horowitz calls it perennial debt for a generation. I would call it "totally unsustainable."

Another broken Obama promise on the deficits: cutting them in half. Of course, Obama and USA Today blame this on Republicans' refusal to raise taxes for the rich. By the end of his term, Obama will have blown through all of the revenue the government has brought in, plus an additional $5 trillion. Welcome to the world of change. Finally, Money Morning had a great column yesterday explaining why deflation is not desirable to politicians. The more the government deflates our currency, the more value they have to take from Americans in order to pay off our debt. By contrast, if they inflate our currency, the debt will shrink in value and Americans will not notice it as much.


Tweets of the Day:
Ben Howe (@Ben_Howe): Sending Romney to repeal Obamacare is like sending a teenager to break up a wild party full of chicks and beer.


Topic Four: The Medicated Generation
An interesting article from Holly Robinson on education and medication. Are all the Ritalin and other drugs being prescribed to make kids behave in school really necessary? Or is it possible that a different school environment could make a difference without medicine.

"Making the leap to a private school setting isn't an easy leap financially, but there are alternatives worth investigating. Charter schools are free and are often Montessori-based, with smaller classrooms and more hands-on experiences. Some schools with religious affiliations may also provide you with an affordable alternative and a smaller, calmer environment where teachers are as invested in your child's individuality as they are in test scores. Listen to your instincts. If your child is telling you that school is a bad place for him, then it probably is. Consult the teachers and experts, sure, but make your own experience with your child the biggest part of the equation when figuring out solutions. You know your child better than any doctor or therapist does, or ever could."


Food for Thought - A Quote from our Founders
"In politics, as in religion, it is equally absurd to aim at making proselytes by fire and sword. Heresies in either can rarely be cured by persecution."
-Alexander Hamilton


Topic Five: Supporting Values
Yesterday, the Susan G. Komen Foundation announced that it would no longer provide financial support to Planned Parenthood. The Foundation says that this move was made because the Komen Foundation does not support organizations under governmental investigation, but it is also possible that the move was made in part because of a new pro-life vice president at the Komen Foundation. Either way, it is a good move that I wholeheartedly agree with and respect.

Erick Erickson has a very good reminder at RedState this morning: do not forget to thank them for their decision. They are already being attacked by the liberal media for this decision. If we do not show them that we support their decision, they may decide to reverse their decision in light of the media pressure. If you would like to write to them, you may do so at news@Komen.org.


Tomorrow in History
February 2, 1925 - Dog sleds with the diphtheria serum reach Nome, Alaska. This run would be the inspiration for the Iditarod race.


Grab Bag - Interesting and Important Stories to Conclude Your Evening

"Peaceful" occupiers dump condoms on Catholic school girls

Republicans threaten contempt charges over Fast and Furious

And also over Solyndra

Indiana passes right-to-work

Senators demand study on cancer risks of airport scanners

The inconvenient Constitution

Auto bailouts=triumph?

Barking up the wrong tree

Wikileaks to move servers offshore

Corzine raises $500K for Obama. Does he know where the money went this time?


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Mid-Week Media: Income Tax, The Vote Pump, Trust Funds, Guilty Verdicts, and Facebook

It's Wednesday, which means that it's time to take a look at some of the best media from the past week:

To start, Dick Morris produced another great video on the history of the income tax and its impact:


Bill Whittle takes a look at the vote pump:


An interesting look at how federal employees have protected themselves but not the American people:


A description of why we have problems in America:


Democrats have found Mitt Romney guilty of a few "crimes":


Finally, it looks like something has become more important than the "you can kiss the bride" at weddings:

Washington Update: February 1, 2012

Senate
Yesterday's Action:
The Senate passed seven measures by unanimous consent:
  • S. Res. 359, commending parliamentarian Alan S. Frumin on his service to the United States Senate.
  • S. Res. 286, recognizing May 16, 2012 as "Hereditary Angioedema Awareness Day"
  • S. Res. 360, recognizing January 2012 as "National Stalking Awareness Month"
  • S. Res. 361, congratulating the University of Alabama football team for winning the 2011 Bowl Championship Series National Championship.
  • S. Res. 362, designating February 2012 as "National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month"
  • S. Res. 363, congratulating the Pittsburg State University football team for winning the 2011 NCAA Division II Football Championship
  • S. Res. 364, recognizing the goals of National Catholic Schools Week

The Senate then moved to consider S. 2038, the "Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act". Numerous amendments were proposed to the bill, and an agreement was reached to continue consideration at 10:30 AM on Wednesday, February 1.

Today's Schedule:
The Senate will meet at 9:30 AM to conduct morning business, and it will then hold further consideration of S. 2038, the "Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act" by 10:30 AM.

Senate Committee Meetings:
There are five Senate committee meetings today:
  • The Committee on the Budget will hold hearings on the outlook for the Eurozone.
  • The Committee on Foreign Relations, Subcommittee on European Affairs, will hold hearings on what is at stake for the U.S. and Europe in Ukraine
  • The Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia, will hold hearings on federal retirement processing.
  • The Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship will hold hearings to examine how to develop and strengthen entrepreneurship.
  • The United States Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control will hold hearings to examine U.S.-Caribbean security cooperation.


House
Yesterday's Action:
By unanimous consent, the House agreed yesterday to reject the Senate version of H.R. 658, to authorize appropriations for the Federal Aviation Administration, and to send the bill to a conference committee. The House also passed H. Res. 522, providing for consideration of the bill (H.R. 1173) to repeal the CLASS program, by a vote of 251-157.

Today's Schedule:
The House will meet at 10:00 AM. The House will consider three bills under suspension of the rules: H.R. 3835, to extend the pay limitation for Members of Congress and Federal Employees; H. Res. 496, adjusting the amount provided for the expenses of certain committees of the House of Representatives in the One Hundred Twelfth Congress; and H.R. 3567, the "Welfare Integrity Now for Children and Families Act of 2011". The House will then consider H.R. 1173, "Fiscal Responsibility and Retirement Security Act" subject to the rules.

House Committee Meetings:
There are sixteen House committee meetings today:
  • The Committee on Armed Services will hold a hearing on the use of Afghan nationals to provide security to U.S. forces in light of attack on U.S. personnel at FOB Frontenac, Afghanistan.
  • The Committee on the Budget will examine the CBO's budget and economic outlook.
  • The Committee on Education and the Workforce will hold a hearing on expanding job creation opportunities.
  • The Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy, will examine America's nuclear future.
  • The Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Health, will hold hold a hearing on what the reauthorization of PDUFA would mean for jobs, innovation, and patients.
  • The Committee on Financial Services, Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity, will hold a hearing on implementing the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000.
  • The Committee on Financial Services, Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit, will hold a hearing on H.R. 3461, the "Financial Institutions Examination Fairness and Reform Act".
  • The Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies, will hold markup on H.R. 3674, the "Promoting and Enhancing Cybersecurity and Information Sharing Effectiveness Act of 2011".
  • The Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet, will hold a hearing on strengthening US manufacturing and innovation.
  • The Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Courts, Commercial and Administrative Law, will hold a hearing on H.R. 2469, the "End Discriminatory State Taxes for Automobile Renters Act of 2011".
  • The Committee on Natural Resources will hold markup on H.R. 3407, the "Alaskan Energy for American Jobs Act"; H.R. 3408, the "Protecting Investment in Oil Shale the Next Generation of Environmental, Energy, and Resource Security Act"; and H.R. 3410, the "Energy Security and Transportation Jobs Act".
  • The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will hold a hearing on the impact of the President's recess appointments.
  • The Committee on Rules will hold hearings on H.R. 3578, the "Baseline Reform Act of 2011" and H.R. 3582, the "Pro-Growth Budgeting Act of 2011".
  • The Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, will hold a hearing on the EPA's approach to groundwater research.
  • The Committee on Small Business will hold a hearing on the state of small businesses in America.
  • The Committee on Veterans' Affairs will hold a hearing on the VA's pharmaceutical vendor contract.


Joint Committee Meetings
The conference committee on H.R. 3630, to extend the payroll tax holiday, unemployment compensation, Medicare physician payment, provide for the consideration of the Keystone XL pipeline, will meet today.

All information is taken from the Congressional Register.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Final Five: January 31, 2012

The Final Five: Bedtime Stories for Conservatives
January 31, 2012

Tonight's Crazy Story:
Wyoming 19-year-old Fined $200 for Doughnut Theft
A Wyoming teenager just purchased the world's most expensive doughnut. 79 cents for the doughnut, but it came with a $200 fine and an extra $10 in court costs.


Topic One: The Expanding Debt
The national debt continues to expand (up $58.8 billion yesterday alone), and no one in Washington seems interested in doing anything to stop it. Yes, we may talk about reducing the debt and deficits, but there is no action. Though some might point to the debt ceiling crisis as an example of "doing something", only politicians could consider action that still increases the deficit a "spending cut." To understand this, think about an individual who spent $1000 last month and expects to spend $1100 next month. If the individual decides to cut next month's spending to $1075, we would say that spending increased $75, but a Washington politician would contend that the individual cut spending by $25. All of the "spending cuts" passed by Congress last year only reduced the anticipated increase in spending; it did nothing to actually reduce the deficit or begin paying down the debt.

Scott Strzelczyk writes an American Thinker blog about the result of our current debt policy. "Annual deficits under President Obama routinely exceed $1 trillion. Regardless of the party in power, the ruling class continues to employ the "kick the can down the road" tactic. The tactic implies an infinite road with no end. In reality, the road is more like a runway with a definitive endpoint, and we are nowhere near take-off speed." Steven Rattner at NYT agrees, contending that debt does matter. While I disagree with his assertion that supply-side economics is also ridiculous, his main contention--those who claim debt does not matter are wrong--is correct.


There's Always Time for a Laugh:
"I read that Americans will eat about 450 million chicken wings on Super Bowl Sunday. Or as Thanksgiving turkeys put it, 'Who’s laughing now, chickens?'"
-Jimmy Fallon


Topic Two: ObamaCare and Religion
Religious leaders--especially those from the Catholic church--are becoming more upset over new provisions being published on ObamaCare. We learned last week that ObamaCare would force all organizations providing insurance, including most religious organizations, to cover birth control, including the so-called "morning after" pill. This rule will force religious-based schools, hospitals, and all other faith-based organizations to fund medication and other forms of birth control which they find morally objectionable. This rule is likely to come before the Supreme Court as another objection against the legislation.

Furthermore, this bill not only infringes on the religious liberties of religious institutions, but also on the religious liberties of everyone. The principle of insurance is that people pool money in order to cover potential future losses. This regulation forces all Americans to contribute money to these pools in order to pay for abortion and birth control expenses of those who choose to use them. Many Americans find the "morning after" pill morally objectionable, but soon, every American will be required to help pay to provide that pill free of charge to anyone who wants it. While the Catholic bishops are rightfully upset over the government infringing on the religious liberties of their institutions, that is only the tip of the iceberg on the problem of this extreme government intervention.


Debt Watch:
Yesterday, the government increased the debt by $58,829,671,237.32 (yes, $58.8 billion), which brings the total debt to:
$15,295,052,578,718.01


Topic Three: Debating Debates
Does anyone think that the number of Republican Presidential debates is excessive? Chris Wallace did, and he said that the number of debates is "stupid." The saddest part of this is that the networks keep holding debates because they bring in money, which means that the debates (and the follow-up analysis they provide) are more interesting than anything they are regularly broadcasting.

American Thinker's Clarice Feldman contends that the debates have become a type of reality show. "For months now we've been watching a series of kick lines fatuously called debates. The formula is essentially the same: a moderator, or moderators, presses a slowly diminishing number of Republican candidates for their party's nomination with a variety of questions, mostly irrelevant, idiotic and quite obviously designed to make the questioner look good and all of Obama's potential opposition look weak, venal and stupid."


Tweets of the Day:
Jim Geraghty (@jimgeraghty): 2011 had highest average gas price ever. Chicago could see $5/gal later this year. But remember, Obama's energy policy is working!


Topic Four: Israel and Iran
James Lewis has a great article contending that it is time for someone to do something about Iran. "It is indeed a cold day in Hell when the New York Times blunders into telling the truth about Iran. Well, it just happened. This is serious business, because it means that the NYT is now expecting something real to happen soon."

He goes on to describe the possibilities of what could occur. "Just as the NYT-Wapo axis only reports real poll results near election time, the fact that they are now reporting the reality of the Iranian threat means they expect something big to happen soon. As in -- an Israeli attack on Natanz, and on Tehran's missile bases like the Imam Ali missile base -- Imam Ali being Tehran's Armageddon messiah. Or an Israeli nuclear warning explosion under the Negev desert, to see if the mullahs might sober up before it's too late. Or a major EMP attack on Tehran's oil refinery and electricity grid. Or a huge denial-of-service cyberattack on Tehran's military and government infrastructure. Or all of the above."


Food for Thought - A Quote from our Founders
"The ordaining of laws in favor of one part of the nation, to the prejudice and oppression of another, is certainly the most erroneous and mistaken policy. An equal dispensation of protection, rights, privileges, and advantages, is what every part is entitled to, and ought to enjoy."
-Benjamin Franklin


Topic Five: The Death of Bipartisanship
Politico has an interesting article on the death of bipartisanship in Washington. "The striking fact about Washington at the start of 2012 is how many people, in public and private, say they have concluded that the capital is no longer a city of splittable differences." This is certainly evidenced by the gridlock that we saw in Washington over almost every major piece of legislation brought to Congress.

The problem in Washington is that there are a group of people who have decided that it is more important to solve our nation's problems than to play the usual political game that never brings about the change we desperately need. Conservatives in Congress believe that they were elected on specific principles, and they would rather stand for those principles and risk losing the next election than compromise their principles. Liberals in Congress have pushed back with similar thoughts regarding their principles. For example, while conservatives are unwavering in their demand for lower taxes, liberals are unwavering in their demand that we protect entitlement programs. Ultimately, both sides believe that their principles are representative of the views of their constituents, and they would rather take their case to the voters in November than compromise their principles. In the coming year, we will likely see more gridlock and arguing, but also more spectacular rhetoric and debate as our representatives in Washington realize that the 2012 election will decide the course of our nation's history for years to come. It will be up to the voters to decide which course they want our nation to take.


Tomorrow in History
February 1, 1790 - The Supreme Court of the United States meets for the first time in New York City.


Grab Bag - Interesting and Important Stories to Conclude Your Evening

Europe set for double-dip recession

Obama dealing with unemployment, 1 person at a time

College admits to inflating SAT scores

Voter intensity does not favor Obama reelection

"Teacher" making $100K to not teach

The end of the social pressure to marry

Obama's power grab


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Washington Update: January 31, 2012

Senate
Yesterday's Action:
The Senate passed four measures by unanimous consent: S.1236, the "Border Tunnel Prevention Act", S.Res. 357, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Mill Springs, S.Res. 358, to establish January 28 as National Data Privacy Day, and S.Con.Res. 34, to honor of the life and legacy of Vaclav Havel.

The Senate then moved to consider S. 2038, the "Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act". By a vote of 93-2, the Senate moved to close debate and vote on the bill. The Senate then agreed that a vote on the bill would occur at 11:30 AM on Tuesday, January 31.

Today's Schedule:
The Senate will meet today at 10:00 AM for morning business, and it will then proceed to a vote on S. 2038, "Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act", at approximately 11:30 AM.

Senate Committee Meetings:
There are five Senate committees meeting today:
  • The Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs will hold a hearing on holding the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau accountable.
  • The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will hold a hearing on the US and global energy outlook.
  • The Committee on Finance will hold a hearing on long-term solutions to extenders and tax reform.
  • The Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, will hold a hearing on the "Video Privacy Protection Act".
  • The Select Committee on Intelligence will hold hearings to examine world threats


House
Yesterday's Action:
The House was not in session yesterday.

Today's Schedule:
The House will meet at 12:00 Noon. The business to be considered was not released to the Congressional Register.

House Committee Meetings:
There are no House committees meeting today.


Joint Committee Meetings
There are two joint committee meetings today:
  • The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe will receive a briefing on democracy in Moldova.
  • The conference committee for H.R. 658, to authorize appropriations for the Federal Aviation Administration for fiscal years 2011 through 2014 will work on developing a final bill to present to the President.

All information is taken from the Congressional Register.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Final Five: January 30, 2012

The Final Five: Bedtime Stories for Conservatives
January 30, 2012

Tonight's Crazy Story:
John R. Pacella, Illinois Man, Called 911 Asking To Fight Cops
Ever had an urge to fight a police officer? One man did, and he called 911 to request that an officer be sent to his house.


Topic One: The Buffett Rule
James Freeman has a column at WSJ describing how the "Buffett Rule" will not affect Warren Buffett. It looks like under the rule, Buffett will still pay a lower rate than his secretary. "This brings us to the Buffett Rule, which at its heart is a way to raise taxes on dividends and capital gains. Berkshire still doesn't pay a dividend, and as for capital gains taxes, well, Mr. Buffett has already made clear that he'll largely avoid them by transferring his fortune to the Gates Foundation and to charitable trusts controlled by his family. In fact, at the 2010 Berkshire annual shareholders meeting, according to Dow Jones Newswires, Mr. Buffett urged attendees to "follow my tax dodging example" and give away their wealth."

That brings us to this FOX News article, which contends that Obama's proposition is a campaign speech, not a political proposition. Obama has followed up on the words of Warren Buffett and the Occupy Wall Street movement to make class warfare the primary message of his reelection bid. As the article points out, the Buffett rule will probably not pass Congress (though I would not completely rule out some "compromise" measure by the Republicans allowing it to be implemented).


There's Always Time for a Laugh:
"Yesterday in Florida, President Obama kissed a woman on the cheek after she told him he looks good. Which explains why last night, Michelle made him sleep on Air Mattress One."
-Jimmy Fallon


Topic Two: Iran
Nuclear inspectors were allowed into Iran over the weekend, and Iran says that it believes that the three-day inspection will produce an "understanding" that Iran's nuclear work is for peaceful purposes only. Meanwhile, Iran issued a "warning" that the inspectors should be professional and not become "a tool."

American Thinker contributor Neil Snyder has a great piece arguing that the US needs to increase its sanctions against Iran. "Talks designed to prevent Iran from continuing to pursue the development of nuclear weapons have been underway for almost a decade, and they have produced no results. Finally, severe sanctions appear to be working, and they are the last step before a military confrontation between Western nations and Iran. Rather than back away from sanctions as China, Russia, and Turkey suggest, the U.S. should pursue an even more vigorous campaign to impose financial hardship on Iran for its belligerent attempt to develop nuclear weapons which can have but two purposes: the elimination of Israel and hegemony over the Middle East."


Debt Watch:
On Friday, the government reduced the debt by an additional $8,880,959.53, bringing the national debt at the end of last week to:
$15,236,222,907,480.69


Topic Three: The Wisconsin Recall
Two opposing pieces dealing with the Wisconsin recall push were published this weekend. First, WSJ ran a balanced analysis of Wisconsin's state. "In Wisconsin, the evidence is mounting that Mr. Walker hasn't brought economic Armageddon but financial stability. Last year's $3 billion deficit is now a $300 million surplus—and it was accomplished without the new taxes that unions favored....In addition to union reform, Mr. Walker and his allies in the legislature passed a statewide school voucher program, eased business regulation, and enacted tort reform. When Illinois raised its income taxes by 67%, he launched a PR campaign urging Illinois businesses to 'escape to Wisconsin.'"

Second, a hit piece on Walker from The Nation (only really worth reading if you want to laugh.) The number of factual errors in the article are too many to count. The article claims he went from moderate campaigning to a radical agenda, but he campaigned on making exactly the changes that he implemented following his election. They claim that he attempted to bar protesting in the Capitol, which is true but ignores the fact that protests were barred only after the protesters began destroying the building. I could go on and on if I had space...


Tweets of the Day:
Kristina Ribali (@ORlibertygal): Can someone tell me how raising taxes fixes the spending problems? #Buehler #anyone


Topic Four: Welfare and the Economy
I do not normally make a habit of posting articles from The Atlantic here, usually because there is not anything worth posting. However, one article did catch my attention: "The Innovation Nation vs. the Warfare-Welfare State". The subheading asks, "This is our national identity crisis in a nutshell: Do we want government spending half its money on redistribution and military, or re-dedicating itself to science, infrastructure, and health research?" The best option would be to get the government out of all of the above and allow private enterprise to innovate without having to turn over half of its profits to the government (35% federal corporate tax plus state and local taxes).

American Thinker has a great article on why the welfare state will fail. "Unfortunately, it is also this set of simple and objective criteria and the distrust in bureaucrats to use their discretion that makes it so easy for citizens to exploit public assistance programs. Before long, exploitation leads to reliance. Sooner or later, reliance turns into entitlement. That was never the intention of public assistance programs. What then? Who will pay for these welfare programs? Such a society is unsustainable economically, especially if the beneficiaries of such programs never have "paid back" and never intend to "pay back" what they "owe" society."


Food for Thought - A Quote from our Founders
"Remember democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide."
-John Adams


Topic Five: ObamaCare vs. RomneyCare
Following Santorum's attacks on Romney during last week's debate, there was a lot of discussion on the similarities between Romney's healthcare plan and Obama's plan. Paul Gigot contends that Romney's lack of a real response shows that they are similar. However, Jennifer Rubin contends that there are enough differences in the plans. While there are some differences, and it is true that any attempts at reform should be handled at the state level, it is important to remember that healthcare was supposed to be one of the biggest issues of this election. The tea party movement sprung up following the signing of Obama's health reform legislation, and the mood against Obama's health care law helped bring about one of the biggest midterm victories. Certainly, health care was not the only reason for the tea party or the midterm victory, but it was a contributing factor. By nominating Romney, the Republicans lose the ability to discuss health care issues effectively. Romney can talk about how it is "bad policy" and should be handled at the state level, but what can he propose to solve health care problems? His time in Massachusetts shows that his health care solution was to implement the hated federal law on a smaller scale. Instead of admitting that RomneyCare might have been a mistake, he still defends the state law he signed. It will be impossible for Romney to discuss health care effectively in the general election, and while it may not lose Romney too many voters, it certainly will not help to motivate the Republican base to turn out in the general election.


Tomorrow in History
January 31, 1846 - Two cities, Juneautown and Kilbourntown, unite as a single city to be called Milwaukee, Wisconsin.


Grab Bag - Interesting Stories to Conclude Your Evening

Indiana's chief election official on trial for vote fraud

TSA suspends workers caught sleeping or stealing on the job

California implements auto emissions standards

Occupier wants "Support our Troops" sign to be taken down

Keystone Pipeline company chides Obama via twitter


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Washington Update: January 30, 2012

Senate
Friday's Action:
The Senate did not meet on Friday.

Today's Schedule:
The Senate will meet today at 2:00 PM. The Senate is expected to consider the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act (S. 2038). A vote on cloture is expected to occur at approximately 5:30 PM, with a vote on the bill occurring soon afterward should the motion for cloture be successful.

Senate Committee Meetings:
There are no committee meeting scheduled for today.


House
Friday's Action:
The House met for a pro forma session on Friday.

Today's Schedule:
The House stands adjourned today, and will meet tomorrow at 2:00 PM. The schedule for the House's meeting was not available in the Congressional Register.

House Committee Meetings:
There are no committee meetings scheduled for today.


All information is taken from the Congressional Register.