Friday, February 10, 2012

The Final Five: February 10, 2012

The Final Five: Bedtime Stories for Conservatives
February 10, 2012

Tonight's Crazy Story:
Toothless Pa. Woman Robs Bank for Denture Money
A toothless woman confessed to a bank robbery, saying that she needed the money to pay for her dentures.

Topic One: Contraception Coverage
The White House announced today that it would "compromise" on the birth control mandate, but the move is unlikely to satisfy Catholic leaders and others opposing the mandate. Basically, the move will allow religious employers to not advertise the availability of contraception, but the insurer will then reach out and offer it. American Thinker explains why this compromise will not be accepted.

Related stories: John Kass: this is about religious liberty, not birth control || Rick Warren: I'd rather go to jail || Obama overreaches again || ObamaCare's coercive essence || The tranformation train has left the station

There's Always Time for a Laugh:
"A new survey found that the average guy will spend about $200 on Valentine's Day this year. Yep, that's 20 bucks for flowers and 180 bucks for last-minute delivery of flowers."
-Jimmy Fallon

Topic Two: The Election
Santorum's sweep has increased the discussion about the possibility of a brokered convention. Jim DeMint admitted it was a possibility yesterday. WaPo has an explanation of what exactly would happen at the convention if no one wins the first ballot. Basically, the delegates would cast a first ballot, during which each bound delegate would be obligated to vote for the candidate they represent (unless the candidate has released his delegates.) If no candidate has a majority, the delegates would be free to vote for any candidate on subsequent ballots until one candidate has a majority.

James V Capua on why Reagan was a great President: "The recent anniversary of Ronald Reagan's birth brought home why so many have been discouraged by the Republican primaries. We remembered that while Romney, Gingrich, Santorum, have been scrambling to, as the current usage goes, "show leadership" -- with 157-point economic plans, visions of Moon colonies, and mostly documenting what bums the other guys are -- Ronald Reagan never sought to "show" any such thing. Instead, even as a candidate, Reagan led, and it is the sober recognition of the extraordinary effectiveness of his leadership, and not some gauzy-focus nostalgia that makes him stand, even now, a head taller than his would-be successors."

Debt Watch:
Yesterday, the government spent $20,172,705,641.07 over what it took in, raising the national debt to:

Topic Three: Iran
The National has a piece on the situation inside of Iran. The sanctions are doing their job of hurting the Iranian economy, but will it be enough to force change in Iran? Meanwhile, this freedom-loving nation has begun blocking access to popular websites.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio says that there is no price too high to pay for avoiding a nuclear Iran. "That being said, we have to deal with what we have now and what we have now I hope is a unified bi-partisan belief that what we need to impose on Iran in an international way is crippling economic sanctions that are a consequence of their nuclear ambitions and ultimately … we need to have every single option on the table because the idea of a nuclear Iran is so catastrophic that there’s virtually no price too high to pay to avoid it."

However, an American Thinker article by Neil Snyder urges caution by listing ten things we should know about Iran before we attack. "Laying the proper groundwork for a war with Iran is essential. It should involve the European Union because European countries have become dependent on Iranian oil. Although Western nations may not be able to win China's and Russia's support, those countries should be consulted as well since they are Iran's allies. We should also coordinate/consult with Iran's Arab neighbors because they will be involved whether they like it or not. Finally, under no circumstances should Israel be called upon to go it alone against Iran. This is our struggle at least as much as it is theirs." Finally, one Israeli Facebook user has his priorities straight: he is asking Israel to hold off an attack on Iran until after Madonna's concert in May.

Tweets of the Day:
Olivier Knox (@OKnox): What's the coverage for self-inflicted political wounds under the Affordable Care Act? Is there a co-pay?

Topic Four: The Tax Debate
Blake Hurst discusses a topic that is forgotten in the debate over taxes. "The more skillful the investor, the more cash is generated from profitable investments. Cash left in the hands of successful investors increases the chances that capital will be allocated in efficient and productive ways. The more profits invested in growing businesses by the founders and managers of those businesses, the more quickly the economy grows.

The skills that make successful businessmen and investors are not spread equally among the population, and they certainly don’t coincide with the ability to win elections. Better to encourage investment by leaving cash in the hands of those who know how to use it. Even if tax rates have no incentive effects (although I’m sure they do), cash in the form of retained earnings is important, and too often overlooked.

My family businesses don’t add much to the overall economic prosperity of our nation. They’re small, not terribly profitable, and are hardly giant engines for job creation or on the cutting edge of innovation. They do, however, employ nine family members throughout the year, with another dozen or so employees during the busy season. Without sensible tax rates on both labor and capital, we can’t build the equity we need to expand in good times and survive the bad times. That’s why tax rates matter."

Food for Thought - A Quote from our Founders
"Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom of Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretence, raised in the United States."
-Noah Webster

Topic Five: The Foreclosure Settlement
I have not commented much on the proposed foreclosure settlement primarily because I have not had the time to look into the details of exactly what it contained. Fortunately, The Financial Times has provided a summary of the major details. The Wall Street Journal has analysis of what this means for homeowners. Sam Zell says this is another government intervention into the housing market, which is what got us into problems in the first place.

Tomorrow in History
February 11, 1752 - The first hospital in the United States, Pennsylvania Hospital, is opened by Benjamin Franklin.

Grab Bag - Interesting and Important Stories to Conclude Your Evening

The Constitution is an impediment to liberals

Entitlements live on in President's budget

Will the Supreme Court carve up ObamaCare?

Edwards campaign still spending money

Santorum or Romney more electable in Ohio?

Will the tax cuts lapse?

Government dependence hits record

Muslim Brotherhood calls for military government's removal

Obama: dictator of education

Blame government, not capitalism

S&P warns of another downgrade without a budget plan

The Closing Argument
I still cannot understand why people are missing the real problem on the contraception mandate. It definitely lives up to all of the criticism that has been leveled against it, but it is also wrong on an individual level. This mandate forces individuals to pay for birth control methods that they find morally wrong. When a person purchases a plan, the money from everyone purchasing the plan is combined and then used to pay for covered benefits. Even if a person does not take advantage of the contraception benefit, that person is still forced to contribute to the pool of money that is used to pay for contraception for others. As I wrote on Twitter yesterday, "Whenever a lib tries to defend the contraception mandate, all they can do is quote stats on the percent of Catholics that use birth control." This is larger than whether or not Catholics use birth control; this is a matter of the government saying everyone must pay for items that some say violate their religious-based morals. Liberals make a huge issue out of the separation of church and state, but now they have no problem with the state being involved in religious decisions.

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Washington Update: February 10, 2012

Yesterday's Action:
During morning business, the Senate agreed to S. Res. 371, designating the week of February 6 through 10, 2012, as "National School Counseling Week", by unanimous consent. The Senate then moved to consider S. 1813, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century. After debate and consideration of amendments, the Senate voted by 85-11 to close debate and move to consideration of the bill. The Senate then began consideration of two judicial nominees. By unanimous consent, the Senate agreed to hold a cloture vote on the nomination of Adalberto Jose Jordan to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday, February 13. The Senate then voted to approve the nomination of Cathy Ann Bencivengo as a judge for the Southern District of California by a vote of 90-6.

In committee meetings, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to report S. 1945, to permit the televising of Supreme Court proceedings, to the full Senate.

Today's Schedule:
The Senate stands adjourned until 2:00 PM on Monday, February 13.

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

Yesterday's Action:
The House passed three items under a suspension of the rules: S. 2038, the "Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act", by a vote of 417-2, a motion to instruct conferees on H.R. 3630, by a vote of 405-15, and H. Con. Res. 99, authorizing the use of Emancipation Hall in the Capitol Visitor Center.

Today's Schedule:
The House stands adjourned until a pro forma session at 1:00 PM on Monday, February 13.

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

Joint Committee Meetings
There are no joint committee meetings today.

All information is taken from the Congressional Register.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Final Five: February 9, 2012

The Final Five: Bedtime Stories for Conservatives
February 9, 2012

Tonight's Crazy Story:
Stun Gun Used on Woman Who Blocked NC Drive-Thru
A woman tried to bypass a drive-thru line by going straight to the pick-up window. When employees refused to serve her and she refused to move, police were called.

Topic One: Contraception Coverage
There have been more hints publicly that the administration may back off its mandate on contraception. This comes as some Democrats are voicing their opposition and Republicans are promising to repeal it. However, Senate Democrats are saying that rather than backing off of the mandate, Obama actually reinforced his position at the recent Democrat retreat. Finally, we know that Joe Biden is one of the few people who could be considered less intelligent than the occupant of the White House. However, he was actually right on this call.

Hugh Hewitt writes that the Catholic church should demand that the administration repeal the rule rather than settling for a compromise. "Either Obama can make the Church pay for sterilization and the "morning after" pill or he can't. In fact he can't. The bishops should insist on full, complete and immediate revocation. Two steps forward, one step back is an old Alinksyite dance and not one the Church should engage in."

Related stories: Majority oppose contraception mandate. || Why isn't this newsworthy? || Napolitano: Do Catholics have too many babies?

There's Always Time for a Laugh:
"Kim Kardashian announced today she will never date another NFL player again. That's why the Patriots were crying on Sunday."
-Jay Leno

Topic Two: The Budget
It has now been 1016 days since the Senate has bothered to pass a budget. Don't worry, says Steny Hoyer, House minority whip. We "don’t need a budget." Perhaps that explains why Democrats have such an aversion to passing budgets. The Senate last passed a budget on April 29, 2009, and the President's budget proposal last year was rejected by the Senate without a single vote passed. Furthermore, Obama has already thumbed his nose at the law by telling Congress that he will be one week late with his budget proposal this year. Finally, the President has no opinion on whether the Senate should pass a budget.

Debt Watch:
Yesterday, the government paid out $7,838,651,404.57 less than its income, lowering the total debt to:

Topic Three: Iran
Victor Davis Hanson has a great piece about Obama's changing policies on Iran. "With Obama's new Iran 3.0, we are flip-flopping and now ratcheting up sanctions. We are announcing the dispatch of additional warships to the Persian Gulf. We are lobbying the United Nations for tougher resolutions against Iran and freezing Iranian assets in the U.S. We are no longer warning Israel to play it cool, but rather publicly and matter-of-factly announcing the likelihood of a preemptive Israeli bombing strike. In other words, after demagoguing the old Iranian 1.0 containment strategy, the Obama administration is now trying to play 3.0 catch-up after its own failed 2.0 appeasement policy. The ironic result is that war is now far more likely with Iran than it ever was under George W. Bush, and for far more reasons."

Daniel Halper says the clock is ticking, and it is time to do whatever it takes to stop Iran. "Iran is fast approaching the nuclear threshold, despite new, tough international sanctions. The clock must be stopped. The best hope for doing so is a triple-track strategy of diplomacy, sanctions and a more credible threat of force by the U.S. and Israel. The time has come for American leaders to begin preparations for, and a robust public debate about, military action against Iran."

Related stories: The coming Israel-Iran confrontation || Obama kicks the can down the road

Tweets of the Day:
Billy Hallowell (@BillyHallowell): Same people who cry about need to remove every element of faith from govt are overjoyed that the same govt is intervening in church affairs.

Topic Four: Pipeline Politics
John Ransom has an excellent column on the politics of the Keystone Pipeline decision: "Instead of allowing the project to go through, along with the hundreds of thousands of jobs it would create, Obama sided with whack-job environmentalists who raised bogus fears that oil spills could pollute the aquifer that lies underneath its path. Ok, he only apparently sided with them. He actually did what Obama likes to do best when pandering to… whomever."

Food for Thought - A Quote from our Founders
"Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm."
-James Madison

Topic Five: Voter ID
I had an short discussion on Twitter today regarding this graphic on ID laws. Prior to seeing this, I did not realize that IDs were required to union elections. It now seems apparent, the racist unions want to disenfranchise minorities and the poor from voting in their elections. As I responded during the conversation, I am racist if you define racist as "disenfranchising dead voters".

In a related story, we have seen how the recently dead have tried to vote in New Hampshire, now there are football players voting in Minnesota (and they don't play for the Vikings.) Thomas Brady and Timothy Tebow attempted to vote register to vote in the state, where identification is not necessary to register. In fact, Brady was even offered the opportunity to be placed on a list to automatically be mailed an absentee ballot. PJ Media has the video and a copy of Minnesota's voter registration form.

Tomorrow in History
February 10, 1863 - A patent is issued for the fire extinguisher.

Grab Bag - Interesting and Important Stories to Conclude Your Evening

Egpyt refuses to stop crackdown on nonprofits

Union chief with $300,000 salary: "Life's not always fair"

Obama claims dictatorial authority again

Robert Gates, History Professor, Situation Room U

The path to a brokered convention

Does Obama deserve a second term?

Congress considers line-item veto

Shark slavery lawsuit tossed

Solyndra owners loot government money

The Closing Argument
When Gingrich appeared about to win South Carolina (but before the votes had been cast), he called on Santorum to drop out despite the fact that Gingrich had lost to Santorum in both Iowa and New Hampshire. Now, despite Santorum's sweep and the fact that he has won the most states so far, Santorum has not called on Gingrich to drop out. Who has more class?

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Washington Update: February 9, 2012

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

Today's Schedule:
The Senate will meet today at 9:30 AM for morning business. By 11:00 AM, the Senate will move to consideration of the cloture motion for S. 1813, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century. A vote on the cloture motion is expected around 2:00 PM.

Senate Committee Meetings:
There are seven Senate committee meetings today:
  • The Committee on Armed Services will meet to consider several nominations for military rank.
  • The Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs will examine the state of the housing market and economic recovery.
  • The Committee on the Budget will hold hearings to examine assessing inequality, mobility, and opportunity.
  • The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will hold hearings to examine H.R.1904, to facilitate the efficient extraction of mineral resources in southeast Arizona by authorizing and directing an exchange of Federal and non-Federal land, and the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act of 2009.
  • The Committee on Indian Affairs will hold a hearing on the DOJ's opinion on internet gaming.
  • The Committee on the Judiciary will consider S. 1945, to permit the televising of Supreme Court proceedings, and several judicial nominees.
  • The Select Committee on Intelligence will meet in closed session to examine intelligence matters.

Yesterday's Action:
Following consideration of two amendments, the House passed H.R. 3521, the "Expedited Legislative Line-Item Veto and Rescissions Act" by a vote of 254-173.

Today's Schedule:
The House will meet today at 9:00 AM to consider S. 2038, "The Stock Act".

House Committee Meetings:
There are six House committee meetings today:
  • The Committee on Appropriations will consider the Architect of the Capitol's 2013 budget request.
  • The Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Health, will hold a hearing titled "Review of the Proposed Generic Drug and Biosimilars, User Fees and Further Examination of Drug Shortages".
  • The Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement, will examine agricultural guest worker programs.
  • The Committee on Small Business, Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce, will examine barriers to small business participation in construction contracting.
  • The Committee on Veterans' Affairs, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, will examine flaws in the VA's fiduciary system.
  • The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence will hold a closed hearing on intelligence matters.

Joint Committee Meetings
There are no joint committee meetings today.

All information is taken from the Congressional Register.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Final Five: February 8, 2012

The Final Five: Bedtime Stories for Conservatives
February 8, 2012

Tonight's Crazy Story:
Man Robs Bank With Sack of McDonalds Apple Pies He Said Was a Bomb
A man walked into a Sacramento bank with a McDonald's apple pies he said was a bomb. After leaving his "bomb" at the bank, he was spotted and arrested a block away.

Topic One: Defending the Constitution
The Ninth Circuit Court of Insanity issued another ridiculous ruling yesterday when it said that California's same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional. It is fine to have a discussion on what should constitute a marriage and whether or not states should attempt to limit or expand it, but at the end of the day, this is a matter that is given to the states. By issuing this ruling, the court essentially nullified the tenth amendment and gave control of marriage to the federal government. Hopefully this case will be accepted by the Supreme Court and overturned just as many other cases coming from the Ninth Circuit. American Thinker has some analysis of the decision: "The ruling will be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which some legal experts believe is likely to review the case; others aren't so sure. Even if the court does decide to review the case, it's far from certain that it will reverse today's ruling. After all, if the U.S. Supreme Court can find a "right" to abortion in the Constitution-it did in 1973-it can certainly find a "right" to same-sex marriage."

Steven Hayward has a great piece at Powerline discussing the US Constitution and Ginburg's recent comments. "There is no doubt Egypt needs a new and better constitution. The current Egyptian constitution proclaims Islam to be the official religion, and Sharia law “the principal source of legislation.” The previous constitution directly declared socialism to be the economic system of the nation; the current version merely declares “social justice” to be part of the basis of the national economy, which I suppose is accurate for a nation where the vast majority are equally poor. Perfect social justice! But beyond the Egyptian context, most post-World War II constitutions that Ginsburg thinks are the bee’s knees are gravely defective."

I have heard and read very good comments about Sen. Mike Lee's testimony before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. I have not had time to listen to the entire video (almost two hours), but I have listened to Sen. Lee's testimony, which begins at approximately 19:50.

There's Always Time for a Laugh:
"Fast food chain Jack in the Box has introduced a bacon milk shake. Yeah. This is all part of Jack in the Box's new “Die Happy Meal.”"
-Conan O'Brien

Topic Two: ObamaCare Contraception
The White House is taking a lot of heat for its inclusion of contraception and the morning-after pill in its "preventative care" requirements. Now, the White House is hinting that it may compromise on the issue. Both White House spokesman Jay Carney and Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod indicated yesterday that the administration would be open to changing the policy. Meanwhile, one former representative said that she would have opposed the bill if she had known about this HHS rule. Perhaps she should have considered this before she cast her vote.

The Wall Street Journal put out a great editorial on the contraception debate. "The country is being exposed to the raw political control that is the core of the Obama health-care plan, and Americans are seeing clearly for the first time how this will violate pluralism and liberty. ... The decision has roused the Catholic bishops from their health-care naivete, but they've been joined by people of all faiths and even no faith, as it becomes clear that their own deepest moral beliefs may be thrown over eventually. Contraception is the single most prescribed medicine for women between 18 and 44 years old, and nine of 10 insurers and employers already cover it. Yet HHS still decided to rub it in the face of religious hospitals.

Debt Watch:
On Tuesday, the government spent $5,623,208,867.52 above its revenues, bringing the new debt total to:

Topic Three: Tax Cuts and Hikes
The conference committee charged with developing a compromise bill on the payroll tax cut appears to be failing. This really should not come as a surprise to anyone who thinks about it for more than a few seconds: Congress is gridlocked, so we create a "mini-Congress" to solve the gridlock, and then we wonder why they are gridlocked. When the deficit-reduction "super committee" failed late last year, I wrote this column. Except for some of the details in the history of its creation, it is just as applicable to the payroll tax conference committee as it was to the super committee.

Also, we found out this week that the two-month payroll tax cut extension deal actually contains a new tax. There is now a .001% tax on mortgages that is rolled into the interest rate (so most people are unaware of its existence), which is implemented on all mortgages originating from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (about 90% of all mortgages.) No wonder over 80% of people disapprove of Congress's job performance.

Finally, Obama has made it clear that he is not interested in reforming the tax code. With the proposal for new taxes (such as the mortgage tax and the Buffett tax) and new deductions (such as breaks for companies bringing jobs back to America or green energy), Obama is using the tax code to provide incentives for behavior that he wants. Alex Brill has a six-point plan for reforming the US tax code. While I disagree with the fifth item (eliminating state and local tax deductions), it still provides an excellent springboard for a discussion on how to truly reform the tax code.

Related stories: Tax reform unlikely this year because of the election. | I will pay my "fair share" when... | Who would Jesus tax?

Tweets of the Day:
MMichelle Malkin (@michellemalkin): Hey, Mitt supporters. Keep calling your rivals' supporters "anti-Mormon bigots." That'll win us over. #losing

Topic Four: Voter ID
South Carolina filed a lawsuit against the DOJ yesterday in an attempt to get its voter ID law reinstated. The Justice Department claims that it violates the Voting Rights Act because it would keep minorities from voting. Requiring identification in order to vote is intended to keep one group of people from voting: those who cannot prove their identity. There is no application based on race, gender, economic status, or any other factor: if you have ID, you can vote. It is ironic that Democrats have been pushing for a national ID system, yet they oppose these laws on the basis that it creates a hardship for minorities and the poor to obtain. Obtaining a federally-required national ID card will not be any easier than obtaining a driver's license or state ID.

American Thinker has more on this issue: "Since Holder is negligent in his duties, many states have taken up the cause of preventing voter fraud. Currently, thirty-one states require voters to show some form of ID before voting in person, with fifteen of these states requiring a photo ID. There is pending legislation is some states to either implement a photo ID law or to amend the law to require a photo ID instead of a non-photo ID. For those states referenced below, someone can vote provisionally as long as he provides ID within a certain amount of days after the election. There are also exceptions made for the elderly or incapacitated. The states will provide an ID free of cost. Yet Holder and the Justice Department make the claim that these laws have "a racially discriminatory effect.""

Food for Thought - A Quote from our Founders
"A rigid economy of the public contributions and absolute interdiction of all useless expenses will go far towards keeping the government honest and unoppressive."
-Thomas Jefferson

Topic Five: Wisconsin's Recall
WaPo has a great column by Charles Lane on what public-sector unions are really fighting in the Wisconsin recall effort. "I had supposed that Walker’s victory in 2010, along with the victory of Republicans in both houses of the state legislature, entitled the people’s choices to make policy until the next election. I had not realized that Wisconsin’s voters were allowed to elect representatives to do everything except change the rules on collective bargaining. “But Walker never campaigned on curtailing union rights!” his opponents cry. What rule of American democracy says that public officials may do only what they explicitly promised before taking office, and nothing else? By that logic, President Obama could be impeached because he opposed an individual mandate to buy health insurance during the campaign, then supported it in office."

Meanwhile, Wisconsin's Government Accountability Board is reviewing the recall petitions submitted for Walker, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, and four state senators. However, it is starting to look like one signature collector may have committed fraud in gathering signatures for a state senate recall. It is not illegal to sign multiple petitions (otherwise, a Walker supporter could collect signatures and then discard the petitions), but this man's petitions contain multiple signatures from relatives and acquaintances, and one man interviewed by the press says he did not sign a petition at all. I would expect more of these reports to come out as the GAB continues to analyze these petitions.

Tomorrow in History
February 9, 1942 - Year-round daylight savings time is instituted as a wartime conservation measure.

Grab Bag - Interesting and Important Stories to Conclude Your Evening

Staples founder: A Republican President should repeal ObamaCare

Romney's jobs record as MA governor

GOP candidates split on minimum wage

Stossel: government can't make us happy

Can conservatives learn from liberals?

Court says senior must take Medicare benefits

Occupy Pittsburgh spokesman is an "un-registered" sex offender

The Closing Argument
It's amazing how quickly things have changed this election cycle. All of a sudden, the standing of states won is: Santorum - 4 (IA, MO, MN, CO), Romney - 3 (NH, FL, NV), Gingrich 1 - (SC). Santorum has the highest margin of victory and the highest percentage of the total vote. Santorum looks like the frontrunner, but he will need to keep the wins coming to cement his status. February is shaping up to be an interesting month in the lead-up to Super Tuesday.

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Mid-Week Media: Honoring Patriots, Obama's Taxes, 72 Virgins, and Gun Control

It's Wednesday, so that means it is time to take a look at some of the best media of the week.

ABC has this report on a fallen Marine's last words:

In honor of the anniversary of Reagan's birth, here is is "A Time for Choosing" speech:

Obama's tax return for his "business":

A breakdown of the 1% the OWS crowd can support:

Muslims found that their 72 virgins were not who they expected to meet:

Finally, a concerned neighbor posted this gun control message:

Washington Update: February 8, 2012

Yesterday's Action:
The Senate agreed to S. Res. 369, congratulating the New York Giants for winning Super Bowl XLVI by unanimous consent. The Senate then moved to consider S. 1813, to reauthorize Federal-aid highway and highway safety construction programs. A unanimous consent agreement was reached on a motion to proceed to consideration of the bill, and a vote on cloture will occur at 2:00 pm on February 9.

Today's Schedule:
The Senate will not meet today. The next scheduled meeting of the Senate is scheduled for 9:30 AM on Thursday, February 9.

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

Friday's Action:
The House passed H.R. 1734, the "Civilian Property Realignment Act" by a vote of 259-164. Two proposed amendments to the bill were rejected. The House then considered and passed H.R. 3581, the "Budget and Accounting Transparency Act of 2012" by a vote of 245-180. Finally, the House also agreed to pass H.R. 2606, the "New York City Natural Gas Supply Enhancement Act" under a suspension of the rules.

Today's Schedule:
The House will meet today at 10:00 AM. The only item scheduled for consideration is H.R. 3521, the "Expedited Legislative Line-Item Veto and Rescissions Act".

House Committee Meetings:
There are fifteen House committee meetings today:
  • The Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Defense, will hold a hearing on governance of the military health systems.
  • The Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Legislative Branch, will hold a hearing on the Capitol Police budget request for FY 2013.
  • The Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, will hold a hearing on cyber threats.
  • The Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Energy and Power, will hold a hearing on what EPA's utility MACT rule will cost U.S. consumers.
  • The Committee on Financial Services, Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit, will hold a hearing on proposals to promote accountability and transparency at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
  • The Committee on Financial Services, Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises, will hold a hearing on the impact of the Dodd-Frank Act.
  • The Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights, will hold markup on two bills: H.R. 1410, the "Vietnam Human Rights Act of 2011" and H. Res. 361, concerning efforts to provide humanitarian relief to mitigate the effects of drought and avert famine in the Horn of Africa, particularly Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Kenya
  • The Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, will hold a hearing on Baluchistan.
  • The Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, will hold a hearing on combating international money laundering.
  • The Committee on the Judiciary will continue markup of H.R. 3541, the "Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act of 2011".
  • The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will hold a hearing on protecting union workers from forced political contributions.
  • The Committee on Science, Space, and Technology will hold a hearing on America's nuclear future.
  • The Committee on Small Business will hold a hearing on mismanagement in the Small Business Administration.
  • The Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Aviation, will hold a hearing on the issues of implementing aviation GPS infrastructure.
  • The Committee on Ways and Means will hold a hearing on how accounting rules affect business tax policy.

Joint Committee Meetings
There is one joint committee meeting today:
  • The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe will hold a hearing on Ireland's leadership of the OSCE.

All information is taken from the Congressional Register.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Final Five: February 7, 2012

The Final Five: Bedtime Stories for Conservatives
February 7, 2012

Tonight's Crazy Story:
Lawmaker Office Duped by The Onion's Planned Parenthood Satire
Congressman Joe Fleming's office posted a link to a story about a new Planned Parenthood's abortion facility. The only problem: it was published by The Onion, a satirical news website.

Topic One: Health Care's Future
Steve Jacob writes a worthwhile article on the impending problem in health care, which has nothing to do with the fate of ObamaCare. "The primary-care workload is expected to increase by nearly 30 percent between 2005 and 2025. Feeding this demand is a growing population, a flood of baby boomers becoming Medicare beneficiaries, and the newly insured because of health-care reform. However, the supply of primary-care physicians is expected to rise by only 2 to 7 percent. Three out of four physicians say they already are at or over capacity. The math screams that there will be a health-care access crisis in the next 15 years. Expect longer waits for appointments, shorter physician visits, greater use of nonphysicians for routine care, and higher prices."

There's Always Time for a Laugh:
"Tom Brady's wife Gisele publicly criticized the Patriots receivers for dropping some of her husband's passes. You know, it's one thing when you get chewed out by your coach. But to get chewed out by a a supermodel, that's got to hurt."
-Jay Leno

Topic Two: Education
HuffPo has a column on the proposal that everyone be forced to stay in school until age 18. I agree with many of the assertions in the article, but we are looking to the wrong place for a solution. Yes, it is true that those who drop out of high school rarely become highly productive members of society. However, correlation does not necessarily mean causation. There is no evidence to suggest that any substantial portion of the students who do drop out of school would become highly productive if forced to stay in school an extra two years. Furthermore, this is another example of federal overreach. Education is best when education is managed locally, and a federally mandated drop out age is certainly not local.

Related stories: GOP govs proposing education spending increases. The fight to reform education. The entitlement culture and teachers. Principals can make a difference in the education of students.

Debt Watch:
Yesterday, the government spent $2,773,374,579.57 over its revenues, boosting the national debt to:

Topic Three: Contraception Confusion
Rick Perry received a lot of criticism from both parties for his "Strong" ad, and many decried Perry's claims of a "war on religion". In that light, I present a new exhibit: the contraception debate. Under ObamaCare, churches and individuals will be forced to pay for items that go against their religious beliefs, including the morning-after pill that kills the developing embryo at its earliest stages.

Meanwhile, the army is silencing Catholic army chaplains by instructing them that they may not read a letter from their archbishop regarding the contraception mandate. By silencing religious expression, the administration is showing once again that they have no concern for the Constitution and freedom.

Related stories: UT-San Diego editorial on religious liberty. Sharpton's ridiculous defense of the contraception mandate: separation of church and state.

Tweets of the Day:
Melissa Clouthier (@MelissaTweets): Suddenly Democrats love the Citizen's United case. It's almost like they only want free speech for themselves or something.

Topic Four: Voter ID
Townhall has a great column, "The Vote of the Living Dead". "One would think that given the Bush-Gore dustup in Florida over pregnant and hanging chads, truth-in-balloting would be of as much a concern of the Left as it is the Right. One would think that, but one would be wrong. Not only has Left compared the idea to the poll taxes and literacy tests of the Jim Crow era but, asserts Cooper, the U.S. Attorney General opposes the idea as well. Which begs the question, why is the Left so opposed to the notion of fairness and truth at ballot box? What is it about insuring that only registered voters who live (literally) in their precinct avail themselves of one of the most important American rights?"

A person needs to look no farther than New Hampshire and Florida for examples of vote fraud, and that is only this year. Furthermore, Indiana's secretary of state--the person in charge of managing elections and preventing election fraud--was convicted on six of seven counts of election fraud, including registering to vote at an address where he did not live. Finally, Townhall contributor Lincoln Brown writes of the ironies that if liberals have their way, Americans will need ID to buy sugar but not to vote.

Food for Thought - A Quote from our Founders
"An honorable Peace is and always was my first wish! I can take no delight in the effusion of human Blood; but, if this War should continue, I wish to have the most active part in it."
-John Paul Jones

Topic Five: Pipeline Politics
The NY Times has a (rare) great op-ed on the politics of the keystone pipeline. "Oliver no longer talks so freely about the environmental critics of the Keystone pipeline; all of Harper’s ministers have been instructed to stop making comments that might be construed as interfering in the American presidential election. But there are other, more diplomatic, ways to send messages. Like going to China with your cabinet members and cutting energy deals with a country that has, as The Globe and Mail in Toronto put it recently, a “thirst for Canadian oil.” Oil, I might add, that may be a little dirtier than the crude that pours forth from the Saudi Arabian desert — that is one of the main reasons environmentalists say they oppose Keystone — but is hardly the environmental disaster many suppose."

"As it turns out, the environmental movement doesn’t just want to shut down Keystone. Its real goal, as I discovered when I spoke recently to Michael Brune, the executive director of the Sierra Club, is much bigger. 'The effort to stop Keystone is part of a broader effort to stop the expansion of the tar sands,' Brune said. 'It is based on choking off the ability to find markets for tar sands oil.' This is a ludicrous goal. If it were to succeed, it would be deeply damaging to the national interest of both Canada and the United States. But it has no chance of succeeding. Energy is the single most important industry in Canada. Three-quarters of the Canadian public agree with the Harper government’s diversification strategy. China’s “thirst” for oil is hardly going to be deterred by the Sierra Club. And the Harper government views the continued development of the tar sands as a national strategic priority. Thus, at least one country in North America understands where its national interests lie. Too bad it’s not us."

Tomorrow in History
February 8, 1837 - The US Senate elects the Vice President for the first and only time, selecting Richard Johnson over Francis P. Granger

Grab Bag - Interesting and Important Stories to Conclude Your Evening

Overtime for border patrol is a bargain

Most college profs do not consider Reagan in top 10 presidents

The age of mediocrity

Iranian Ayatollah: "Kill all Jews"

Boehner says Obama uses tea party as an excuse

Questions for Obama on fairness

The next individual mandate: buy Chevy Volts?

90 DC workers charged with unemployment fraud

Judge to decide if animals get same protections as humans

Carney: people leaving workforce is an "economic good"

Another bankrupt government-supported green energy company

Pro-choice supporters become anti-choice on Komen

The Closing Argument
The final article in the grab bag section discusses how the "pro-choice" crowd opposed the right of the Komen breast cancer foundation to choose which organizations it would support. This distinction highlights a problem in the pro-life/pro-choice discussion that I have discussed before: most of the people who claim to be pro-choice actually oppose choice. If a person was truly pro-choice, that person would support giving a person a complete perspective on the decision before allowing them to obtain an abortion. Thus, a truly pro-choice person would not oppose Texas's law requiring physicians to provide a sonogram prior to performing an abortion. However, issues such as the Komen decision or the Texas sonogram law expose the truth that most people who call themselves "pro-choice" are actually pro-abortion. They do not want freedom of choice, they want abortion to be so easily accessible that anyone who thinks about an abortion can easily and quickly obtain one.

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Washington Update: February 7, 2012

Yesterday's Action:
The Senate passed two measures by unanimous consent: S. 1794/H.R. 347, the "Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act" and S. Res. 368, recognizing the anniversary of the tragic earthquake in Haiti on January 12, 2010, honoring those who lost their lives in that earthquake, and expressing continued solidarity with the people of Haiti.

The Senate than considered the conference report for H.R. 658, the "FAA Reauthorization and Reform Act" and it was approved by a vote of 75-20.

Today's Schedule:
The Senate will meet today at 10:00 AM. The schedule was not published in the Congressional Record.

Senate Committee Meetings:
There are five Senate committee meetings today:
  • The Committee on the Budget will hold a hearing to examine the outlook for US monetary and fiscal policy.
  • The Committee on Finance will consider "The Highway Investment, Job Creation and Economic Growth Act of 2012".
  • The Committee on Foreign Relations will hold hearings to consider several ambassador nominations.
  • The Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions will hold a hearing to examine accessible technology.
  • The Select Committee on Intelligence will hold a closed hearing to examine intelligence matters.

Yesterday's Action:
The House passed two measures under suspension of the rules: H.R. 306, the "Corolla Wild Horses Protection Act" and H.R. 1162, to provide the Quileute Indian Tribe Tsunami and Flood Protection, by a vote of 381-7. Consideration of other matters was postponed.

Today's Schedule:
The House will meet at 10:00 AM today. The House will consider H.R. 3521, the "Expedited Legislative Line-Item Veto and Rescissions Act" and H.R. 1734, the "Civilian Property Realignment Act" under the rules.

House Committee Meetings:
There are thirteen House committee meetings today:
  • The Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Legislative Branch, will hold a hearing on the 2013 budget requests for the Library of Congress, Government Accountability Office, Government Printing Office, and Congressional Budget Office.
  • The Committee on Education and the Workforce will examine the implications of the recess appointments to the NRLB and then hold markup on H.R. 3548, the "North American Energy Access Act".
  • The Committee on Foreign Affairs will hold a hearing on balancing US interests in export controls, arms sales, and reform.
  • The Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade, will hold a hearing on the alliance between the US and the Philippines.
  • The Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, will hold a hearing on balancing security and trade.
  • The Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Transportation Security, will examine resistance to the public-private partnership at the TSA.
  • The Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Water and Power, will hold a hearing to examine methods for storing water.
  • The Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs, will hold a hearing on H.R. 3532, to empower federally recognized Indian tribes to accept restricted fee tribal lands, and for other purposes.
  • The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Subcommittee on Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and Procurement Reform, will hold a hearing on increasing access to jobs for wounded soldiers.
  • The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Subcommittee on Government Organization, Efficiency and Financial Management, will hold a hearing on misspent money.
  • The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will hold a business meeting.
  • The Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, will hold markup on two bills: H.R. 3834, the "Advancing America's Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Act of 2012"; and H.R. 3199, to Provide a Comprehensive Assessment of the Scientific and Technical Research on the Implications of the Use of Mid-Level Ethanol Blends, and for other purposes.
  • The Committee on Ways and Means, Subcommittee on Health, will hold a hearing on programs that reward physicians for quality and efficient care.

Joint Committee Meetings
There are two joint committee meetings today:
  • The Joint Economic Committee will hold a hearing on the effects of reauthorizing the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance program.
  • The Conference Committee for 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.

All information is taken from the Congressional Register.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Final Five: February 6, 2012

The Final Five: Bedtime Stories for Conservatives
February 6, 2012

Tonight's Crazy Story:
Day Before Super Bowl, Web Page Inadvertently Proclaims Giants Winners
The Giants were confident that they would win last night's Super Bowl. In fact, they were so confident, that the briefly posted on their website Saturday, "The Giants are Super Bowl CHAMPIONS!" along with a link to purchase championship gear. The Giants later said that the page was created in advance so that it could be posted following a Giants victory, but someone accidentally made it available Saturday.

Topic One: The Economic Picture
The media is hailing the latest unemployment report as wonderful news, and their reporting makes it sound like Obama is guaranteed to win a second term. However, a careful examination of the unemployment report shows that the picture is not a great as it seems. FOX runs down some of the problems with the current measure of unemployment. "What the unemployment rate does not measure is those without jobs who have simply given up. Almost 4 million people are in that group. Another 8 million have been forced to take only part time work even though they want a full time job. If those people were counted, officials say, the latest rate of 8.3 percent would be much higher-- at 15.1 percent."

I would also contend that the economy is further hurt by those who have taken a full-time job at a significantly lower rate of pay than they desire. There is a difference between a person working a full-time job as a computer software engineer and a person working forty hours each week at McDonalds. Considering the drop in average annual income that has taken place, it is likely that there are many people who fall into this category as well. Daniel Mitchell at Townhall has a different take on the jobless numbers: they represent a victory for gridlock.

Related Stories: Obama's jobs deficit. What was the economy like when Obama took office. Are Obama and the BLS rewriting the rules to change the jobless numbers?

There's Always Time for a Laugh:
"President Obama spoke at the national prayer breakfast. The president said that his Christian faith is the driving force behind his economic policies. So I guess instead of blaming Bush, it's now all Jesus’ fault."
-Jay Leno

Topic Two: Piracy
18-year-old computer science major Mac Hart wrote an excellent op-ed on the problems of recent digital piracy legislation. "Laws like SOPA and ACTA are not going to end piracy by shutting down the websites. Hackers can get around these barriers or they can just change their website. For example, The Pirate Bay, a leading pirate website, recently changed their domain name from .ORG to .SE. This prevented U.S. authorities from seizing their domain. The industry needs to realize they cannot beat the pirates. My plan is for media distributing companies to offer better service as an alternative to piracy. Instead of selling music, movies, or games that the user really doesn't own, have a store that has a wide variety of items that are sold for pennies on the dollar."

NY Times has a piece analyzing both sides of the piracy debate. While it is important to stop piracy, the bills proposed in Congress go after the wrong people. Just because someone has a site that makes it possible for pirates to operate, they should not be prosecuted as if they are participating in the piracy. If someone is conducting drug deals on your property without your knowledge, you should not be held responsible unless you are made aware of what is taking place and refuse to do anything to stop it. Similarly, site owners should work to stop piracy taking place on their sites, but they should not be held accountable for every action others take on the site. If we want to stop piracy, we should go after the actual pirates: those uploading and downloading files illegally.

Debt Watch:
On Friday, the government reduced the debt by $16,298,011,301.92, bringing the debt total at the end of last week to:

Topic Three: The Arab Spring
Egyptian police continued to struggle to control protesters four days after the soccer riots left 74 people dead. The riots were aimed at removing the military rulers from power after the soccer riots showed how little control the police maintained in the nation. The military council currently in charge of the country has proposed speeding up the Presidential elections, allowing them to be held as early as April. However, this move did not do much to satisfy the protesters.

Meanwhile, Egypt is planning to prosecute 44 foreign aid workers who are accused of receiving illegal foreign funds and getting involved in banned activities. Among those set to be tried is the son of Department of Transportation secretary Ray LaHood. From Rick Moran at American Thinker: "There may be several reasons for this action by the Egyptian government, none of them good. They may be trying to force an open break with the US, thus currying favor with the mobs in the streets. Or, it may simply be a propaganda effort to deflect blame from the military for the crackdown in recent months. The military has made it a point to blame "foreign hands" for the violence and demonstrations. Whatever the reason, a diplomatic storm is about to break and US-Egyptian relations are right in its path." One of the potential effects of is the loss of $1.5 million of foreign aid provided to Egypt by the United States.

Tweets of the Day:
@DrewMTips: Wait, Eli gets a Corvette as MVP? Why not a Volt?

Topic Four: The Wisconsin Recall
Scott Walker supporters are attempting to organize a write-in campaign to write in Walker's name during the Democratic recall primary. (Unlike the much-publicized California recall that led to the election of Arnold Schwarzenegger, this will be an actual race between Walker and one Democrat, with the Democrat selected in a primary.) If successful, voters in the actual recall would be faced with a choice between Republican Scott Walker and Democrat Scott Walker. This attempt actually could be successful because Wisconsin has open primaries and there will obviously be no Republican primary. While it sounds like an interesting tactic, it reeks of the idea of "playing politics." Especially with Walker leading in the polls, I see little reason to resort political games. Let the recall play its course, and let the voters decide if they want to keep Walker in office.

Related story: Orange County Register says it is critical for the rest of the nation that Walker prevail.

Food for Thought - A Quote from our Founders
"A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue then will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader."
-Samuel Adams

Topic Five: Iran
Obama says that Israel has not made a decision about attacking Iran and that he hopes the US and Israel hope the situation can be resolved diplomatically. Jonathan Tobin says that we cannot trust Obama on Iran because of his previous failures in diplomacy. "The Times believes Israel’s government must be forced to wait patiently until the Obama administration’s cautious program of sanctions directed at Iran can work. But the problem with that advice is the three years that Obama has invested in rallying international support for sanctions have not worked for two reasons."

Related stories: Iran says it will not block oil passageway. Is there a relationship between Iran and Al Qaeda? West says that Iranian nuclear inspection is a failure.

Tomorrow in History
February 7, 1935 - Parker Brothers publishes the first edition of the board game Monopoly.

Grab Bag - Interesting and Important Stories to Conclude Your Evening

Google pays 500,000 euro fine for giving away free maps

PA to drug test welfare recipients

Next President will likely shape the future of the court system

Ford upset with Chevy Super Bowl ad

Is a world internet tax a possibility?

Is your state selling your personal information?

America after Obama

On this, I am in 100% agreement with the Huffington Post

The Closing Argument
Starting tonight, I will begin writing a "closing argument" for The Final Five. It may be a serious commentary on a particular topic or a witty thought from current events.

As we look at events in our country, we see that our government is gradually taking away our freedoms. Whether it is being required to submit to pornographic photographs or a molestation at the airport or the ability to browse the almost infinite resources of the internet freely, our government feels that we are only safe when it intervenes in our life. This advancement of government intervention will not stop until enough Americans decide to stop it. What can we do? Besides working to send people to Washington who will protect our freedom, we can exercise control through our wallet. If a business supports or participates with the government in an activity that takes away our freedom, we can choose to support other businesses. Personally, I have decided that I will not fly on an airplane as long as we have to choose between the porn scanner or the groping, and I have decided that I will cease to do business with the companies that stood to support the SOPA and PIPA legislation. I understand that this may not be practical for everyone (some people must fly for business or to be able to see family), but when the airline companies begin to take a hit to their pocketbooks over new TSA policies, they will work to see them changed. Benjamin Franklin said, "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." If Americans do not stop the limitations being placed on freedom in the country today, we will soon find that we no longer have any freedoms to limit.

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Washington Update: February 6, 2012

Friday's Action:
The Senate was not in session on Friday.

Today's Schedule:
The Senate will meet today at 2:00 PM to consider H.R. 658, the "FAA Reauthorization and Reform Act".

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

Friday's Action:
The House passed the conference report on H.R. 658, the "FAA Reauthorization and Reform Act", by a vote of 248-169. The House then considered H.R. 3578, the "Baseline Reform Act". The bill was passed by a vote of 235-177. A motion to report the bill back to committee for amendments failed 177-238.

The Committee on Ways and Means held markup on H.R. 3864, the "American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Financing Act of 2012" and reported the bill back to the House without amendment.

Today's Schedule:
The House will meet at 12:00 PM today. The schedule was not published in the Congressional Record.

House Committee Meetings:
There are two House committee meetings today:
  • The Committee on Armed Services, Panel on Business Challenges within the Defense Industry, will hold a hearing on contracting and regulatory issues in doing business with the Department of Defense
  • The Committee on Rules will hold hearings on two bills: H.R. 3521, the "Expedited Line-Item Veto and Rescissions Act of 2011" and H.R. 3581, the "Budget and Accounting Transparency Act of 2011".

Joint Committee Meetings
There are no joint committees meeting today.

All information is taken from the Congressional Register.