Saturday, February 25, 2012

Wolves in the Hen House: How Conservatives are Disenfranchised in the GOP Nominating Process

The Republican presidential nominating contest is down to the final four contestants: Ron Paul, who holds the strongest fiscally conservative record but is completely out-of-touch on foreign affairs, currently sits in last place in the delegate count. Just above him is Newt Gingrich, who claims to be conservative but has changed his positions on a myriad of issues more often than he has changed his wife. Rick Santorum sits in second, and while he has a strong conservative record on social issues, he was also a prolific earmarker who endorsed Republican-turned-Democrat Arlin Specter not once, but twice. Finally, Mitt Romney leads the race, and while he talks a good conservative talk, his time as governor shows he does not walk a conservative walk.

In selecting a candidate to run against a President who is on track to double the national debt should he receive a second term, how have we reached the point where the only candidate with a strong record as a fiscal conservative is also completely insane on other issues? Why is the front-runner a person who as governor, signed—and to this day, defends—a law remarkably similar to an unpopular law 60% of Americans want repealed? It would certainly be possible to answer these questions with responses discussing why some true conservatives choose not to run or how it is difficult to find people who have conservative values in every area. However, in the six elections since Reagan left office, we certainly should have been able to find one true conservative willing to run and able to win. Perhaps the problem stretches a little further to the nominating process itself.

After the conclusion of the Maine caucuses, we have had eight nominating contests that actually count towards delegates. (This excludes the Missouri “beauty contest” primary that has no bearing on awarding delegates.) Of these eight contests, seven of them have been held in states carried by Obama in 2008. Even looking back to 2004, when a Republican won the election, only five of these first eight states were carried by the Republican. Five of these states have Republican governors, but two of these governorships were held by Democrats prior to the Republican-friendly elections in 2010. Republicans and Democrats split the Senate seats in these states evenly, but that requires counting Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, and Lindsey Graham as Republicans instead of RINOs. Republicans do hold almost two-thirds of the House seats from these states, but it was much more even before 2010.

Looking at the Cook Partisan Voting Index, which measures the general voting tendency of states and congressional districts, Republicans only lead in two of the eight states (Florida and South Carolina), and only South Carolina's average is outside the margin-of-error in most polls. Republicans do fare better when analyzing these states by district (33 Republican, 20 Democrat, 3 Even), but if we take out the influence of Florida, the result drops to a mere 15 Republican districts to 13 Democrat districts. Furthermore, out of Iowa and New Hampshire—hosts of the “first-in-the-nation” caucuses and primaries—Republicans only lead in Iowa's fifth congressional district.

What does this mean for conservatives? In the crucial lead-up to the “Super Tuesday” primaries, the only state involved that could be considered a strong conservative state is South Carolina. Instead of starting the nominating process in strong conservative states, we start it in states dominated by moderate voters that tend to swing between parties. By the time the conservative states head to the polls, many of the real conservatives have lost traction and dropped out of the race, forcing conservatives to choose between Candidate Almost Decent, Candidate Bad, and Candidate Worse. I cannot see a way for anyone to make the case that Bob Dole, George W. Bush, John McCain, or Mitt Romney would have strong delegate counts heading into Super Tuesday if they were competing primarily in conservative strongholds like Texas, Montana, Idaho, Utah, and the Dakotas.

The tea party came into existence in 2009 as a primarily conservative movement. In 2010, tea party members decreased their rallying at statehouses and city halls and focused on winning elections. Unfortunately, a tea party candidate's first obstacle was not to defeat Democrats in the general election, but to defeat establishment Republicans in the primaries. Fortunately, many of these candidates successfully cleared the first obstacle, and many went on to win election to Congress. However, the presidential election process is held over months, not a single day, and the current process only helps the “establishment” candidates survive. A conservative candidate can win—Reagan did it in 1980—but current circumstances leave the deck stacked against conservatives.

Republicans have fallen into the trap discussed by a popular idiom: they have left wolves in charge of the hen house. Republicans talk about the necessity of energizing the conservative base in the primaries, but then the bulk of the competitive race is decided by moderate states instead of conservative ones. By the time the race will reach more conservative strongholds, the race will already be largely decided. Just like the tea party had to do in 2010, conservatives must work within the Republican party before they can work against the Democrats. Conservatives are considered a major part of the Republican “base”, so it is time that their votes be considered as a major part of the nominating process. Now is the time for us to work to change our nominating process so we stop disenfranchising the “base” of the Republican party.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Final Five: February 24, 2012

The Final Five: Bedtime Stories for Conservatives
February 23, 2012

Tonight's Crazy Story:
Wisconsin Man Arrested For Making Own Cheeseburger, Fries At Denny's
A man showed up at a Wisconsin Denny's and claimed to be the new General Manager, all so he could go to the kitchen and fix himself a hamburger.

Topic One: ObamaCare
John Goodman has an excellent NCPA article on No Child Left Behind and ObamaCare. "As it turns out, some of the very socioeconomic factors that affect educational achievement are the same factors that affect health outcomes as well as the responses to efforts to improve those outcomes. That brings us to ObamaCare and its model for the delivery or care: Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). Like the schools under NCLB, the ACOs will also be paid more for producing better results. But unlike the schools, ACOs are not geographically fixed. They have a lot of discretion about where they locate and what patients they seek to attract. As Dr. El-Sayed explains: "Vexingly, then, the very incentives that tie provider compensation to patient outcomes to reduce costs and improve outcomes in the ACO model could also have the perverse consequence of incentivizing ACOs—and the health providers that comprise them—to turn away marginalized groups and to avoid locating in lower-income contexts.""

Phillip Klein breaks down the effects of the Supreme Court ObamaCare decision: "If the law is upheld as constitutional, it would be an utter disaster for advocates of small government. If Congress can force Americans to purchase a product they do not want, it would mean that there are effectively no limits on congressional power. But as much as it would be an affront to individual liberty, it would probably be a big boost to Republicans in both the presidential and congressional elections....If the Supreme Court strikes down the entire law, it would be a joyous occasion for conservatives. And it would be a powerful indictment of Obama — that he spent more than a year of his presidency pushing through a law that turned out to be unconstitutional. But at the same time, it could have the opposite effect on voter enthusiasm."

There's Always Time for a Laugh:
"A new survey found that the tooth fairy left about 42 cents less in 2011 than it did the year before. When kids lose teeth now, they’re like, 'Ehh, I’m gonna hold onto this until the market improves.'"
-Jimmy Fallon

Topic Two: Rekindling Entrepreneurship
John Stossel explains why entrepreneurship in America is failing by opening a lemonade stand...legally: "It made me want to try to jump through the legal hoops required to open a simple lemonade stand in New York City. Here's some of what one has to do:
-- Register as sole proprietor with the County Clerk's Office (must be done in person)
-- Apply to the IRS for an Employer Identification Number.
-- Complete 15-hr Food Protection Course!"

And that's just the start. See what else happened during his 65 day journey toward opening a lemonade stand in the article.

Debt Watch:
Yesterday, the government added $19,370,911,986.53 to the debt, bringing the total to:

Topic Three: The Crisis of Capitalism
Nathan Lewis has a great article at Forbes titled "The Crisis of Capitalism Is a Lack of Capitalism". "Smith saw that this rampant self-interest was channeled by the capitalist system – basically a system of private property and common law – into activity that would benefit others. Those focused on wealth and power, instead of using rape, plunder, pillage and enslavement, as was common through millennia of history, would have to provide some sort of useful good or service to others, in a way that provided a profit. Those chasing wealth and power would find that the easiest path to their goal would be to provide something beneficial for society as a whole. Through competition, this profit has never been very high. Corporate profits average about 8.3% of revenues, a lot lower than most people think. Less than most sales taxes."

He goes on to say: "To all who are paying attention, the incentives have changed. Socially destructive behavior is much more rewarding than socially beneficial behavior. Government-supported cartelism and taxpayer theft pays better than providing goods and services in the difficult capitalist marketplace. A society reaches a perilous tipping point, when, responding to the existing incentives, the energies and ambitions of the most energetic and capable are channeled into socially destructive behavior. Rape, plunder, pillage and enslavement are back! It is a little soft-edged today, unless you happen to be a Muslim living atop a large oil deposit. This soft edge often helps with keeping the victims docile, since they can’t quite figure out what is going on. But, essentially, it is the same."

Tweet of the Day:
Betsey Ross (@betseyross:) Clueless Chicago School Protesters: Can’t Fix What’s Not Broken In libworld 'not broken' =no matter if kids can't read

Topic Four: The Tax Debate
David Limbaugh on the problem of Obama's corporate tax reform plan: "Obama calls for a modest reduction, to 28 percent, which would still be reason to cheer coming from him, but it's not quite that simple. Underneath the smoke and to the side of the mirrors, we find it's just another ploy to empower Obama to pick the winners and losers. He pretends he'd merely be leveling the playing field by "closing loopholes," which for him is code for eliminating legitimate deductions. So with one hand, he would extend corporations their tax rate reduction, but with the other -- the one donning the magician's white glove -- he'd grab it back by eliminating the deductions -- I mean sinister loopholes -- for the evil corporations he's made a practice of demonizing and bullying the past three years."

Michael Graham describes the distinction between the two American groups: those who pay taxes and those who take tax money. "The half of Americans eating the pie know that they’re not paying for it. In reality, that debt burden is $400,000 per 50.5 percenter household and zero — nada, goose egg, zippo — for the rest. The president proposes to make the tax system more “fair.” But “fair” in the Liz Warren sense of the word. He wants to raise income taxes, dividend taxes, Medicare taxes, etc. on families earning $250,000 a year — and already paying most of the federal tax bill.

Food for Thought - A Quote from our Founders
"It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and, at no distant period, a great Nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a People always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence."
-George Washington

Topic Five: Debt Talk
It looks like we could be in for a repeat of the debt limit debate sooner than we might think. Instead of reaching the limit before the election, we could hit it just before, and that could set the stage for an election-deciding discussion right before the vote. Unfortunately, the way in which Republicans have squandered their previous opportunities leaves me with little hope that they will emerge from a pre-election debate victorious. If they really want to win the argument this time, they need to set the stage in advance by proposing Cut, Cap, and Balance. If they want to lose the debate again, they simply need to do what they have always done: wait for the Democrats to bring out their scare tactics.

RCM has an interesting piece on Hauser's Law. "Hauser found that no matter the headline tax rate on income, the federal government has for decades been the recipient of roughly 19 percent of GDP. Given this historical truth, the logical argument made here and elsewhere is that since Treasury will receive 19 percent of GDP no matter the tax rate, the best plan is to maximize revenues by seeking the income tax rate that is most economically stimulative. To put it more clearly, expand the economic pie as a way of expanding government revenues. On its face this thesis is hard to argue with."

Tomorrow in History
February 25, 1870 - Mississippi Republican Hiram Rhodes Revels is sworn into the US Senate, becoming the first African-American to sit in either house of Congress.

Grab Bag - Interesting and Important Stories to Conclude Your Evening

Stockton, CA could be the biggest municipal bankruptcy in American history.

Cheap Gas: The promise of failing campaigns

Our friendship with Israel is under fire

$100,000,000 for 36 new jobs?

Volt owners will soon be "burning up" California's carpool lanes

Cheap gas is still here...but we're paying with weaker dollars

Krauthammer on Obama's algae policy

Why is this not all over the news?

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Pelosi: Catholic Church Has Not 'Enforced' Contraception Teaching

Courtsey of, we get this statement from Nancy Pelosi:

When has it been the job of a church to "enforce" its teachings on others (excluding the church's employees)? The church does not exist to pass laws or mandates and force its members to abide by them. The church exists to oversee the propagation of the Gospel and to provide spiritual encouragement and fellowship for Christians. Part of that process should include the teaching of Biblical principles. While I do not see a Biblical problem with the use of contraception, I understand that there are some churches that see the issue differently.

An argument can be made that if 98% of a subset of Catholics are acting in violation of a particular belief, the church might want to improve its method of teaching that belief. However, that does not mean that the church is turning to the government to "enforce" its belief. First, the Catholic church's problem with the mandate does not solely apply to Catholic parishioners. The church's problem with the mandate is that it forces the church to pay for something it finds morally wrong. If every employee of a Catholic hospital, college, etc. was Catholic, the organization would be able to claim a religious objection and not be forced to cover contraception.

Second, even if these objections are settled to the satisfaction of all Catholic leaders, it would not affect all--or even most--Catholics. The only Catholics affected would be those who work for a Catholic organization. A Catholic working for a private company would still receive insurance with coverage for contraception. The church is not requesting that all Catholics be exempted from contraception coverage; the church is only objecting to forcing it to pay for the coverage.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Final Five: February 23, 2012

The Final Five: Bedtime Stories for Conservatives
February 23, 2012

Tonight's Crazy Story:
New Mob Museum Opens
The National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement opened on February 14th in Las Vegas, but Malcom Kushner asks the important question: should you pay admission or just break in.

Topic One: Online Privacy
Online privacy is a serious issue. Certainly, no one wants another person reading his or her e-mails or logging web history. Furthermore, given the abundance of high-profile hacking cases recently, knowing exactly who has what information about you is even more important. It has long been known that many prominent internet companies have stored data about its users, and the advent of social networking has made it popular for individuals to volunteer their private data for public use.

It is in this light that the Obama administration is proposing new rules to regulate online privacy. On the surface, I do not have a problem with many of the suggestions being proposed. However, I feel that this should come from the companies themselves and not from further government regulation. Imagine if we had another company that offered many of the same features as Google but with a different privacy level. Some users might prefer the integrated features of the Google family of products and choose to continue using Google, and others might choose to migrate to the new company that does not use these integrated features. In the end, consumers benefit from being able to choose how their private data is used.

There's Always Time for a Laugh:
"It’s National Pancake Week. Of course Mitt Romney was in a debate tonight, so it’s also National Waffle Week."
-Jimmy Fallon

Topic Two: The Buffett Rule
Warren Buffett says that he is delighted about the rule that is named after him. Buffett wrote to Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), who introduced a bill to the Senate that would implement the "Buffett Rule": "I have no problem endorsing any large step in the direction of greater fairness in the Tax Code....Thanks for what you are doing for our country."

Of course, it is ironic that Buffett has a rule named after him that would not actually affect him. This article was posted here earlier in the month but deserves a reminder now: "Since Berkshire pays no dividends, Mr. Buffett had little at stake but enjoyed the opportunity to pose as if he were a rich guy eager to cough up more dough to Washington. In the current debate, President Obama is pushing the “Buffett Rule” to ensure that high-income earners pay higher tax rates. But even if it’s enacted, don’t expect the Buffett Rule to have much impact on Mr. Buffett. By an amazing coincidence, the sage of Omaha is already positioned to shield most of his rising wealth from such a tax." Finally, Chris Christie says what all conservatives want to say to Buffett but lacked the guts to actually say: "write a check and shut up."

Debt Watch:
Following its recent spending spree, the government actually reduced the debt yesterday by $3,476,578,278.39, bringing the total national debt to:

Topic Three: Britain's Example
Do higher taxes yield higher revenues? Look at Britain, which recently instituted an additional top marginal rate of 50% for its richest residents. "The Treasury received £10.35 billion in income tax payments from those paying by self-assessment last month, a drop of £509 million compared with January 2011. Most other taxes produced higher revenues over the same period." The additional taxes were expected to boost revenues from self-assessment taxes by £1 billion, so it only missed its mark by a mere £1.5 billion.

Senior sources said that the first official figures indicated that there had been “manoeuvring” by well-off Britons to avoid the new higher rate. The figures will add to pressure on the Coalition to drop the levy amid fears it is forcing entrepreneurs to relocate abroad. Why did this happen? Go back to the article for an explanation: "Senior sources said that the first official figures indicated that there had been “manoeuvring” by well-off Britons to avoid the new higher rate. The figures will add to pressure on the Coalition to drop the levy amid fears it is forcing entrepreneurs to relocate abroad." As tax rates went up, the rich shifted their money around in order to avoid taxes. This not only caused less taxes to be collected under the higher rate, but also led to less taxes taken at any rate. If you eliminated both the higher taxes and the financial tricks to avoid taxes, 40% of the money would have gone to the government instead of 0%.

Tweet of the Day:
Ken Gardner (@kesgardner:) The dominant cause of overspending and new debt is NOT earmarks. Nor is it defense spending. It is Medicare and Social Security. #tcot

Topic Four: Missing the Point
With Rick Santorum taking the lead in most polls, the talking points from the Democrats are about contraception and Satanic influences. Therefore, the discussion at last night's debate centered around these topics instead of the important topics facing America. Who is going to care about contraception when the economy collapses and we have 25% unemployment? Instead of bowing to the demands of the Communist News Network, the candidates should have turned the questions on these topics back to the moderators and asked why they were not talking about jobs and the economy.

WaPo reports that despite the fact that 31% of Americans say the economy is America's most pressing issue, and an additional 30% say that the lack of jobs is the most pressing issue, the candidates only mentioned the word "jobs" 10 times during the debate and moderator John King only mentioned the word four times. Is it any wonder that Americans feel their politicians are out of touch? Furthermore, with a majority of Americans opposed to ObamaCare, we are still considering nominating a man who defends passing a similar law as governor. It would be different if he would admit that RomneyCare was a mistake, but defending that law while criticizing Obama's very similar law only gives the advantage to the Democrats.

Food for Thought - A Quote from our Founders
"Government, in my humble opinion, should be formed to secure and to enlarge the exercise of the natural rights of its members; and every government, which has not this in view, as its principal object, is not a government of the legitimate kind."
-James Wilson

Topic Five: The Entitlement Generation
I rarely describe pieces in the NY Times using words like "excellent" (because they are usually not), but this one on the cost of the safety net deserves that description. Casey Mulligan, an economics professor at the University of Chicago, writes, "Benefit payments by government safety net programs, like unemployment insurance, help the people who receive those payments. But government officials, politicians and journalists sometimes go another step and assert that everyone benefits when the poor and unemployed receive payments from the government, because that “puts money in the hands of consumers,” and consumer spending is said to stimulate employers to hire. I explained last week that the “hands of the consumer” theory ignores the hands of the people who pay for safety net benefits. For example, because of the extra taxes needed to help pay for the unemployment insurance program, a taxpayer may no longer be able to afford to make an addition to his house. Thus, while jobs will be needed to serve the unemployed people as they spend their benefit payment, there will be no need for the construction workers and others who would have helped with the taxpayer’s home project."

Related stories: Dependency is growing || Welfare should not be a middle-class subsidy

Tomorrow in History
February 24, 1980 - The U.S. Olympic hockey team completes the "Miracle on Ice" Olympics by defeating Finland 4-2 for the gold medal.

Grab Bag - Interesting and Important Stories to Conclude Your Evening

Conyers family home in poor condition...

...maybe he's spending too much time reading bills

Do the impossible: kill time without a cell phone

Is Congress making the recession worse?

Forget Ash Wednesday or George Washington, Google honors Henrich Hertz

Taxpayers not off the hook for GM, despite profits

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Guess Which GOP Candidate Dropped Out Today?

If you guessed former Louisiana governor Buddy Roemer, you would be correct. However, he now plans to run as an independent, so the Americans who did not have the chance to vote for him in the primary can still vote for him.

CBS reports:
Little-known presidential candidate Buddy Roemer is officially dropping his Republican presidential bid and will instead seek the nomination under a third party, he announced on Wednesday in a press release. According to the campaign, he no longer considers himself affiliated with the Republican party.

Roemer does raise a good point about the media's ability to exclude candidates from the debates. Yes, the organizations establish a policy and then allow all candidates who meet that policy to debate, but much of a candidate's ability to garner support depends on the coverage the media provides. (Compare Perry's much-hyped announcement to the non-coverage of Roemer's announcement.) Roemer probably received the most media attention for his tweets during the Iowa caucuses.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Final Five: February 22, 2012

The Final Five: Bedtime Stories for Conservatives
February 22, 2012

Tonight's Crazy Story:
Fear of Being Phoneless Is on the Rise
If you obsessively check to make sure you have your phone, you might have Nomophobia, the fear of being without a cell phone.

Topic One: Voter ID
If you want to buy alcohol or cigarettes, the routine is simple: go to the counter, ask for the product you want, and produce a photo ID and a form of payment. If you want to board a plane, you must purchase a ticket, check your baggage, and show a photo ID prior to going through the TSA's molestation. When I was hired at my job last year, I was required to show a photo ID as verification of my I-9. When I went to the emergency room a few weeks ago, I was asked to provide a photo ID as part of the registration process. However, if a person dares to mention requiring a valid photo ID in order to vote, that person is immediately called a racist. This has nothing to do with race; it affects every single person. Under the requirements, if you produce a photo ID, you can vote, and if you cannot produce a photo ID, you cannot vote. It is not about stopping any American citizen from casting a ballot; it is about stopping illegal residents, dead voters, and those who have moved from having someone vote on their behalf. Perhaps we should move to a system of using this to prevent fraud.

Eight states have passed voter ID laws this year, bringing the total to thirty-one. However, South Carolina's law is under review by the Justice Department. John Hinderaker writes about the phony anti-ID argument: "As you can imagine, liberals are up in arms at the prospect that their voter slush fund–a few extra votes every election, in case they need them–may dry up. So they have launched a campaign of deception against the amendment, fronted by the League of Women Voters–a once-respectable organization that perfectly illustrates O’Sullivan’s Law. As usual, Minnesota Majority, an excellent grass-roots organization headed, as you might expect, by a friend of mine, is on the case. Minnesota Majority has set up a web site called We Want Voter ID, which currently features a video of a League of Women Voters-sponsored meeting in Edina, Minnesota. The League spreads disinformation, but a lot of the citizens present at the meeting are on to them. The video begins with an ACLU lawyer objecting to being videoed. Why, exactly, is the ACLU teaming up with the League on this issue? Because voting whether you are legal or not is a “right,” but having your vote canceled out by an illegal voter isn’t a “right.”"

Related stories: Over 20 million voter registrations with significant errors || 1.8 million dead registered to vote || The muddy voter registration system || Voter ID among Walker's reforms

There's Always Time for a Laugh:
"Taco Bell plans to start selling tacos made out of nacho cheese Doritos. Their goal is to create Mexican food that's totally unrecognizable to the Mexican people."
-Jay Leno

Topic Two: Corporate Taxes
The Obama Administration is expected to announce today a plan to cut the top corporate tax rate from 35% to 28% and eliminate some loopholes. The plan is expected to maintain deductions that provide incentives for companies to invest in the United States and penalize those companies that invest elsewhere. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geitner told the House Ways & Means Committee, "We’ll have a very important debate about which of those types of incentives we should preserve, which ones we can’t afford any longer."

Geitner's statement is what is most concerning about this plan. What exactly will be the criteria for determining which deductions remain and which ones are eliminated? Who will have input into the process? While I am in favor of cutting tax rates while simultaneously expanding the tax base, leaving some loopholes sounds more like a political favor to campaign donors than a meaningful tax reform.

Debt Watch:
Last Friday, our government issued an additional $3,206,242,312.11 in debt, bringing the total debt to:

Topic Three: Job Creation
Unemployment may be coming down, but it is still almost twice the lowest point during the previous decade. Why are companies not hiring? Overregulation by the federal government and ObamaCare. While these are not the greatest reasons listed by businesses, many of the other reasons are typical during poor economic times. However, worries about government regulation rarely make the top list of concerns. Also notable from the survey, only 7% say government tax incentives will cause them to begin hiring.

The Economist has analysis of how the regulatory burden on American companies goes against the spirit of America: "Red tape in America is no laughing matter. The problem is not the rules that are self-evidently absurd. It is the ones that sound reasonable on their own but impose a huge burden collectively. America is meant to be the home of laissez-faire. Unlike Europeans, whose lives have long been circumscribed by meddling governments and diktats from Brussels, Americans are supposed to be free to choose, for better or for worse. Yet for some time America has been straying from this ideal."

The article goes on to propose a solution: "America needs a smarter approach to regulation. First, all important rules should be subjected to cost-benefit analysis by an independent watchdog. The results should be made public before the rule is enacted. All big regulations should also come with sunset clauses, so that they expire after, say, ten years unless Congress explicitly re-authorises them. More important, rules need to be much simpler. When regulators try to write an all-purpose instruction manual, the truly important dos and don’ts are lost in an ocean of verbiage. Far better to lay down broad goals and prescribe only what is strictly necessary to achieve them. Legislators should pass simple rules, and leave regulators to enforce them."

Related video: One business owner explains how regulation is hurting his business

Tweet of the Day:
Jim Geraghty (@jimgeraghty:) MSM verdict: Believing in the devil = weird. Calling Jewish GOP opponent a demon = perfectly normal, unworthy of greater scrutiny.

Topic Four: Gas Pains
Hugh Hewitt on Obama's war against oil: "This is the reality of Obama's energy policy, of Keystone XL and the Gulf spill fiasco and the shut-down of exploration across the country. If it was President Bush in the Oval Office, we would have nothing but story after story on the misery these pump prices bring with them and their direct connection to President Bush, but the general media indifference to the story won't cloak the impact on voters. This is the Obama Economy, and all the applause over 8.3% unemployment, or even 8% unemployment will not persuade people this is the best the country can do, or even remotely close to it."

Related stories: Why are Democrats running from high gas prices? || Another Carney lie: Obama didn't turn down Keystone

Food for Thought - A Quote from our Founders
"I suppose, indeed, that in public life, a man whose political principles have any decided character and who has energy enough to give them effect must always expect to encounter political hostility from those of adverse principles."
-Thomas Jefferson

Topic Five: Iran and Oil Dependency
The Daily Beast has a very interesting article on the Iranian oil blackmail threat: "First, note which European countries Tehran threatened with its oil-export ban: France, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain. Four out of the six belong, with Ireland, to the “PIIGS” club of euro-zone countries with chronic deficits. These are not exclusively fiscal deficits (gaps between government spending and tax revenue). Experts have long given more weight to the PIIGS’ trade deficits, which have been larger for longer than their fiscal deficits. According to Martin Wolf of the Financial Times, the key imbalance at the heart of the euro crisis is the trade and services deficit between the PIIGS and the so-called core: Germany....True, Iran is not a huge exporter to Europe. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, total Iranian sales to the EU averaged 450,000 barrels a day last year. But more than 70 percent went to Italy and Spain, while a third of Greek oil imports came from Iran."

This blackmail threat is not just about preempting the proposed E.U. oil embargo, it is about hitting these nations in the pocketbook while they are already struggling financially. The article goes on to describe the potential consequences: "Energy dependency has geopolitical consequences—like reducing your leverage in any row with an oil exporter. If even the rumor of an Iranian export ban could send the price of oil above $120 a barrel, what would a full-scale showdown between Iran and Israel do? Answer: it would inflict yet more economic misery on Europe, which gives Brussels a big incentive to avoid such a showdown. And that’s why, even as his government threatened to ban oil exports to Europe, Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, recently declared that he was ready to hold new nuclear talks “in a constructive way.” That translates into holding new talks “in a way that drives a wedge between Europe and Israel.”"

Related stories: Nuclear talks end with no progress || America's contorted approach to Iran

Tomorrow in History
February 23, 1896 - The Tootsie Roll is invented.

Grab Bag - Interesting and Important Stories to Conclude Your Evening

Occupy letter threatens to "storm Wall Street with guns"

Obama holds fundraiser for the one-percent crowd

Obama's numbers in Carter territory

5-year-old brings loaded gun to day care

Black (liberal) history month

Are we preparing for involvement in another Middle Eastern conflict

Five reasons you should exercise your constitutional right and say no to a police search

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Mid-Week Media: Black History Month, The Coming Crisis, Green Energy, The Teleprompter, and Burning Volts

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

Zonation covers the racism in Black History Month:

Can a union for a member to make a contribution to a separate fund outside of union dues, and then use that money for political purposes? Here is testimony from a House committee hearing describing how the NEA tried to do it:

Obama finally figured out the secret to green energy:

A great manual on the proper use of the teleprompter:

Obama is so great, he can add his own answers to quizzes like this:

Someone suggests that we redesign the penny as a tribute to Obama:

And finally, a commercial for the Chevy Volt:
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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Final Five: February 21, 2012

The Final Five: Bedtime Stories for Conservatives
February 21, 2012

Tonight's Crazy Story:
Is This the Most Confusing Speed Limit Sign You've Ever Seen?
When travelling past this school, make sure you know the time. There are six odd time ranges at which you must make sure you slow down.

Topic One: The Primary Debates
If you are a person who has enjoyed watching the twenty debates that have taken place during this election cycle, the next story is likely to disappoint you. If you are a normal human being, then this story will likely do the opposite. The Republican Party is considering taking control of the primary debate process. The Chairman of the GOP's Rules Committee stated, "We‘re very concerned that we really don’t control the topics, the venue, the crowds, nothing. The problem we’re trying to fix is being able to have control over the destiny of our own party and ... how the candidates are introduced to the country."

It doesn't take more than half of a brain cell to figure out that all the debates this year have been part of the problem. Rather than focusing on the issues, the moderators have been looking for the "gotcha" questions or to produce infighting among the candidates. While this makes for good ratings (hence the multitude of debates this cycle), it does not help create real discussion on the issues that America faces.

Related stories: Schroeder: The reality show is back from hiatus || Improving the process will yield better debates || will finally say yes tomorrow.

There's Always Time for a Laugh:
"Italian authorities seized $6 trillion worth of fake, worthless U.S. Treasury bonds. Pretty good counterfeit job, too. They look just like the genuine worthless Treasury bonds."
-Jay Leno

Topic Two: Gas Pains
While the price at the pump has been higher in times past, they have never before been this high in the month of February. Current estimates say that the price could hit $4.25 by April. Furthermore, since prices tend to be at their highest over Memorial Day weekend, we are likely in for more pain. The administration now seems interested in domestic energy production, something it seemed to oppose last month when it rejected the Keystone pipeline agreement. Since almost every product that we purchase depends on fuel in some way, fuel price increases can trigger price increases for everything we buy.

All of this spells bad news for Obama's recovering campaign. Just as his approval rating was beginning to rebound, the price at the pump begins to rise, something that will certainly affect all Americans. These price increases will force Obama to answer questions about his energy policy, particularly his opposition to offshore drilling and his rejection of the Keystone pipeline. This article from Steven Hayward is also worth a read, but it is particularly interesting because of the chart showing the correlation between gas prices and approval ratings. While other events can certainly affect approval ratings, there is a definite trend between the pump price and a president's approval.

Related stories: Keystone construction moving forward; just not for U.S. || Gas price surge could spark inflation || Ron Klein discusses the political perils of high gas prices

Debt Watch:
Last Friday, our government issued an additional $3,562,995,170.90 in debt, bringing the total debt to:

Topic Three: The Unemployment Rate
In the past three months, the unemployment rate has dropped .6%, bringing it to its lowest point since the start of the Obama presidency. While this news has likely been one of the motivating factors behind the improvement in Obama's poll numbers, the news is certainly not as good as it sounds. While the economy is producing jobs, the unemployment rate is also improving due to increasing numbers on disability. When a person stops searching for work, they are no longer considered part of the labor force, and the unemployment rate drops.

Posner Politics explains how this works: "Allow me to introduce you to our best friend as we enter the 2012 election: the Labor Force Participation Rate. This statistic portrays the percentage of the U.S. population counted in the Unemployment Rate. So if someone had given up on looking for a job because of the bad economy, that person is no longer counted in the Unemployment Rate. However, this cannot be seen by just looking at the Unemployment Rate itself, it can only be seen in the Labor Force Participation Rate."

Related stories: Gallup unemployment survey back up to 9.0% || Paying people to be unemployed means more unemployment

Tweet of the Day:
Ken Gardner (@kesgardner:) The latest Greek bailout deal requires private credits to take a 53% haircut. Welcome to our future if we don't fix things in Nov. #tcot

Topic Four: The Arab Spring
The results of Egypt's "Arab Spring" are becoming worse each day. Despite calls for Egypt to release the 19 foreigners accused of "illegally spreading democracy", Egypt refuses to release them and has referred them to a criminal court. Meanwhile, the US is threatening to cut off military aid to the nation, but Egypt has responded by saying that cutting its aid would result in it violating its peace agreement with Israel.

Related stories: Is the revolution lost? || Arab spring means extortion and hostage-taking

Food for Thought - A Quote from our Founders
"The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty."
-Thomas Jefferson

Topic Five: Biden's "Rhode" Trip
On the blog today, I posted this satire piece which I am reprinting here for your enjoyment, with added video links. It centers around this memo from the White House.

President, er, Vice President Joe Biden is off to visit the state with a three-letter first name, Road Island, which is one of the 57 or 58 American states. Perhaps he will be able to meet with some 'corpse'men while he is there. Following his trip, he will come back to Washington to meet with Barack America.

Tomorrow in History
February 22, 1819 - The United States purchases the state of Florida from Spain at a price of five million dollars.

Grab Bag - Interesting and Important Stories to Conclude Your Evening

WWGWD: What Would George Washington Do?

High school students get a taste of "Occupy" at community college program

Muslims upset about military burning Qurans...

...but who cares when they burn Bibles?

Great analysis of the California Prop 8 decision

Is principle a political liability

How a swing of less than one million votes could spell Republican victory

Supreme Court takes affirmative action case

Internet helps revive broadcast TV

This is what a President looks like

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Biden's "Rhode" Trip

UPDATED: video links added.

President, er, Vice President Joe Biden is off to visit the state with a three-letter first name, Road Island, which is one of the 57 or 58 American states. Perhaps he will be able to meet with some 'corpse'men while he is there. Following his trip, he will come back to Washington to meet with Barack America.

(Please forgive my sarcasum.)

(h/t The Blaze)

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Final Five: February 20, 2012

The Final Five: Bedtime Stories for Conservatives
February 20, 2012

Tonight's Crazy Story:
Fugitive Runs Out of Gas, Calls Wyoming Sheriff for Help
A fugitive is back behind bars after he called the police after he ran out of gas in Wyoming.

Topic One: Happy 3rd Birthday, Stimulus
On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, also known as the "stimulus." Last Friday, the stimulus turned three, and its birthday was marked by a variety of tributes. John Merline at Investor's Business Daily goes through some of the stats on how the stimulus failed to help the economy. Most interesting: "The original estimate for the cost of the stimulus was $787 billion. Now the Congressional Budget Office says that, when all is said and done, it will have cost $825 billion." I doubt the $825 billion counts the interest we will pay to China and other nations for years to come in order to cover the cost.

Related stories: Rush on the stimulus birthday || RNC celebrates the birthday || Economy still begging || The stimulus chart

There's Always Time for a Laugh:
"Mitt Romney is sinking in the polls. That is the magic of a Donald Trump endorsement right there."
-David Letterman

Topic Two: A Brokered Convention?
As Santorum surges and there seems to be no true frontrunner as we head toward Super Tuesday, there has been an increasing amount of talk about the idea of a brokered convention. Sean Trende describes how this discussion has come up before, but has never occurred recently. "...what makes this year interesting is that, for now, there are three candidates with potentially distinct bases competing for the prize. I still think that, eventually, this will winnow down to two. As I mentioned, we can’t rule out the possibility that Santorum’s strength is limited to small caucus states (especially once Romney’s spending gets going), and we can’t rule out the possibility that Gingrich’s strength in the South will eventually collapse. But we also can’t rule out the possibility that this split will continue." If you're mathematically inclined, you can predict primary results and determine if your predictions will result in a deadlock.

A different piece by Trende describes the problems with a brokered convention. "So if you look at the 2012 field and conclude that none of them can defeat President Obama, then a brokered convention probably makes sense for Republicans. In other words, if you believe the GOP couldn’t do any worse than Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, or Newt Gingrich, then there’s little to be lost with a brokered convention. I wouldn’t personally endorse that view, as I continue to believe that this election is about Obama, and that his re-election chances are quite weak regardless of his opponent. Reasonable minds can certainly disagree, but if you conclude that one of the remaining four could win, I think the upside of a brokered convention has to be weighed against these downsides."

Related stories: Potential brokered convention winners || Who do you want to defend for nine months?

Debt Watch:
On Wednesday, the government spent $32,351,463,090.67 over its revenues, and on Thursday, the government increased the debt by another of $21,295,357,831.96, bringing the total debt to:

Topic Three: Iran
Iran continues to make headlines as it works toward its "peaceful" nuclear program. US and European nations are considering a measure that would evict Iran from SWIFT, a international banking transaction clearinghouse. This would be a risky move because it would likely send oil prices higher, and with prices at the pump already rising, this move could hurt Obama's reelection campaign. Meanwhile, nuclear inspectors have arrived in Iran for talks, but Iran is expected to continue to block access to some nuclear sites.

The US and Britain are urging Israel to avoid an attack on Iran. However, an Israeli minister says that Iran is nearing a point of no return. Israel has a strong enough intelligence program to know with very good accuracy where Iran is in its nuclear program. Israel knows the risks of an attack, and they will likely wait until the last minute, but Israel will strike if necessary. This will likely make American and British leaders upset (especially if it happens before the US election), but Israel should have the right to defend itself.

Related stories: Iran makes steps in nuclear fuel production || Iran thinks we are bluffing || Iranian military begins land exercises

Tweet of the Day:
@RagnarsMate: Being debt free is awesome. Totally liberating. The US should try it.

Topic Four: Taxes
"As soon as Congress sends me that extension of tax cuts and unemployment insurance to my desk, I will sign it right away." Mr. President, it's on your desk. What is the delay? Now it's been changed to "soon." The extension of the payroll tax cut sets up what WaPo is calling "Taxmageddon": "On Dec. 31, the George W. Bush-era tax cuts are scheduled to expire, raising rates on investment income, estates and gifts, and earnings at all levels. Overnight, the marriage penalty for joint filers will spring back to life, the value of the child credit will drop from $1,000 to $500, and the rate everyone pays on the first $8,700 of wages will jump from 10 percent to 15 percent. The Social Security payroll tax will pop back up to 6.2 percent from 4.2 percent under the deal approved Friday by Congress. And new Medicare taxes enacted as part of President Obama’s health-care initiative will for the first time strike high-income households."

Related stories: 7 ways Obama wants to tax the rich || Nearly half of all Americans pay no income tax

Food for Thought - A Quote from our Founders
"Far from being rivals or enemies, religion and law are twin sisters, friends, and mutual assistants. Indeed, these two sciences run into each other. The divine law, as discovered by reason and the moral sense, forms an essential part of both."
-James Wilson

Topic Five: The Contraception Mandate
Charles Krauthammer has a great piece on why the compromise over contraception is a farce. "Give him points for cleverness. President Obama’s birth control “accommodation” was as politically successful as it was morally meaningless. It was nothing but an accounting trick that still forces Catholic (and other religious) institutions to provide medical insurance that guarantees free birth control, tubal ligation and morning-after abortifacients — all of which violate church doctrine on the sanctity of life. The trick is that these birth control/abortion services will supposedly be provided independently and free of charge by the religious institution’s insurance company. But this changes none of the moral calculus. Holy Cross Hospital, for example, is still required by law to engage an insurance company that is required by law to provide these doctrinally proscribed services to all Holy Cross employees."

This David Goldman piece sums up the real issue with the mandate: what is next? "Today it is contraception and the morning-after pill. Tomorrow it will be kosher slaughter, or matrilineal descent, or circumcision, or other matters of existential importance to Jewish observance. If the Obama administration gets away with forcing Catholic institutions to step across lines of life and death in the name of “health,” the federal government will have a precedent to legislate Judaism out of existence — as several other countries have already tried to do." If those who have no problem with contraception sit idle now, they will find their religious freedom encroached later.

Related stories: Self-insurance complicates the contraception deal || Religious freedom or freedom of choice? || Insurers don't care for "cost-free" contraception

Tomorrow in History
February 21, 1878 - The first telephone book is published for the city of New Haven, Connecticut.

Grab Bag - Interesting and Important Stories to Conclude Your Evening

State Dept. error releases Mexican fugitive

The next Solyndra

Woman collects paycheck without working for 12 years

The most transparent administration's least transparent department

West: government handouts are a form of slavery

Occupy trashes Brooklyn house

What the "living constitution" really means

Lessons from Obama's home state

Privatization still a better deal

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