Saturday, March 3, 2012

Trouble in Paradise Detroit

Uh oh. General Motors, the car company bailed out by the federal government and touted as a model for our current President's quasi-socialist economic policy, is having some trouble selling the Chevy Volt.

From Foxnews.com:
General Motors will suspend Chevrolet Volt production from March 19th to April 23rd in order to bring supply of the plug-in hybrid car in line with demand, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Chevrolet sold 1,023 Volts in February, which up from 603 in January, but far from the 60,000-unit annual output originally planned for when the car was launched in December, 2010. Less than 8,000 Volts were sold in all of 2011.

GM spokesperson Chris Lee told the newspaper that 1,300 employees at the Hamtramck, Michigan, assembly plant where the Volt is built would be temporarily laid off during the production freeze.

This might be a good move for taxpayers. I realize that 1300 people will now be added to the unemployment rolls for five weeks, but after we deduct the $250,000 per vehicle subsidy the government provided, we'll likely end up with a bargain. Unfortunately, this might be bad for our President, who would have to look at buying a used Volt if these sales problems continue.

To quote Clint Eastwood, "It's halftime, America, and the second half of our green energy layoffs are about to begin." Or something like that.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Final Five: March 2, 2012

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

Tonight's Crazy Story:
Man Arrested After Returning to Withdraw Cash From Bank He Tried to Rob
A man attempted to rob a suburban Atlanta bank, but left with nothing. He then hailed a cab (which he was probably planning to pay with cash from his robbery), but when he realized he had no money to pay, he had the cab return him to the bank so he could withdraw money from his account to pay for the ride.


Topic One: Obama's Strategy
Congratulations to President Obama, who hit the 100 fundraiser mark last night. However, remember that the White House is definitely not in campaign mode. Obama said yesterday that he would not need to create any ads, because he could just run clips of the republican debates. Is this the real reason behind the media's fascination with these debates?

Obama is now using the theme of the American comeback: "In ways large and small, Mr. Obama has seized on a narrative of national optimism in recent weeks, offering a portrait of a country that, guided by him and powered by the American worker, is making a comeback. It is a narrative with strong echoes of President Ronald Reagan’s 1984 re-election campaign and one that is intended to provide a contrast with today’s less sunny Republican candidates. And, of course, it is meant to suggest that Mr. Obama himself has hit his own stride." I think I've heard this theme before. Was it...during the Super Bowl?

Related story: Kevin Jackson: 10 reasons why Obama is scared


There's Always Time for a Laugh:
"North Korea has officially agreed to suspend its nuclear program. Apparently they watched one episode of "Toddlers and Tiaras" and realized we're destroying our own society."
-Jimmy Fallon


Topic Two: ObamaCare
The "not-a-tax" tax is not a tax, per se, according to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sibelius. First, we had Obama saying during the debate over the health care bill that the fines imposed by the individual mandate were not a tax. Then, they contended in legal briefs that the bill is Constitutional under Congress's power to tax, and at one point, they even defended it under a tax statute, anti-injunction act. Now, Sibelius says, "It is not, per se, a tax." So which is it?

Is RomneyCare working? Some point to early premium hikes and say that it is not, while others point to recent premium declines and say that it is. The Daily explains why these trends occurred: "You could claim success if the premium declines actually stemmed from the logic of universal care — that is, from savings generated through more preventive and timely care and less emergency use. And there is evidence of fewer emergency visits. But is that the cause of the declining premiums? No. The Boston Globe reported a few weeks ago that the main force driving premium drops was people postponing care in a down economy — and that trend is already ending. Indeed, health plans whose “cost trend” (a combination of overall medical claims and the cost of care) increased 6 to 8 percent during the past few years are likely to return to 8 to 10 percent going forward, once again putting upward pressure on premiums. But the other thing driving premiums down is that after Romneycare busted the state budget in its first full year with cost overruns of 48 percent, Massachusetts started aggressively looking for cost-control measures."


Debt Watch:
Yesterday, the government added an additional $12,123,419,895.70 to the debt, bringing the total debt to:
$15,501,014,716,143.72
(Your share as a citizen: $49,630.36)


Topic Three: Iran
Iran votes today in parliamentary elections, which could have a large impact on next year's presidential election: "Looking ahead, an important political ramification of the forthcoming vote is political positioning for presidential elections in 2013. With Ahmadinejad approaching the end of his second term, competing conservative factions have sought to use the parliamentary elections to lay the groundwork for their countrywide presidential campaigns -- particularly in Iran's provinces, where Ahmadinejad's faction has long courted voters with promises of economic relief and infrastructure development. If a large-scale purge of Ahmadinejad allies from the parliament takes place, it would be perhaps the strongest indicator yet of moves by Khamenei to do away with the post of a directly elected president."

Can Israel trust the US on Iran? "In the end the dilemma for both Israel and the U.S. isn’t only strategic but ethical. Israel has a moral responsibility not to surprise its closest friend with an initiative that could drastically affect American well-being. And the U.S. has a moral responsibility not to pressure its closest Middle East ally into forfeiting its right to self-defense against a potentially genocidal enemy. In better times, the two allies might have been able to navigate these conflicting needs. But in the absence of mutual trust, what could remain are conflicting perceptions of interest."


Tweet of the Day:
John Hayward @Doc_0: ObamaCare: a centralized plan so brilliant it can only be kept running by granting waivers and exceptions to it.


Topic Four: Expanding Debt
The national debt is increasing at record levels, yet some people feel we need to spend more in order to grow the economy. I tweeted today: "If more debt and higher spending were really the way to turn a country around, Greece and Spain would be thriving instead of bankrupt." Mr. Conservative lists 30 wasteful government expenditures. Among them: $175,587 to determine if cocaine makes Japanese quail engage in sexually risky behavior and $137,530 to create a recession-themed video game.

So how much is our debt, really? As of last Wednesday, we owed $15.49 trillion, or $49,519.93 per American citizen. However, this liability is increased by amounts promised through entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare: "Is it acceptable that our leaders are able to promise trillions of dollars to the voters but do not have to recognize the cost because their promises can be rescinded? If the accounting rules for the private sector changed when corporate retirement promises approached a third of annual revenue, why haven’t those for the government changed when its promises have grown to 14 times its annual revenue? Americans know something is wrong, and they know hard choices about promises and taxes need to be made. They deserve a clear accounting and an honest discussion of how to fix the system."


Food for Thought - A Quote from our Founders
"No morn ever dawned more favorable than ours did; and no day was every more clouded than the present! Wisdom, and good examples are necessary at this time to rescue the political machine from the impending storm."
-George Washington


Topic Five: Waiting on Gas Prices
Gary Jason writes at American Thinker that this is just the beginning of Obama's energy policy: "The Green Regime's scheme has been from the jump to jack up the price of fossil fuels in order to get Americans to adopt so-called "green energy" sources, such as solar, wind, and bio-fuels. To this end, even as the administration puts every road-block in the way of domestic fossil fuel product, it lavishes millions of taxpayer bucks on corrupt, inefficient "green energy" companies. The net effect has been to increase our reliance on Middle Eastern oil even more, precisely at a time when that region is reaching the high point of its crescendo of crisis. But in the immortal words of Bachman-Turner Overdrive, "you ain't seen nothing yet!" Obama's controversial EPA chief, Lisa Jackson, has pushed through the agency a passel of new regulations that will raise the cost of electricity dramatically over the next three years."

However, Obama sees no problem with his energy policy: "Stating that his administration has helped decrease foreign oil dependence and stepped up domestic oil production, Obama said rising gas prices are a function of global markets, including instability in the Middle East, particularly Iran, that no president can fully control." Mr. President, we cannot control the Middle East, but we can produce our own oil so that the Middle East does not matter.


Tomorrow in History
March 3, 1931 - The Star Spangled Banner is adopted as the national anthem of the United States.


Grab Bag - Interesting and Important Stories to Conclude Your Evening

New Mexico man signs dog up to vote

SECURE IT introduced to replace SOPA and PROTECT IP

Your daily story of more government-funded green energy layoffs

Obama tells Koch brothers to disclose "donors"

13 charts explain why Obamanomics fails

Chick-fil-A banned from campus

The TSA: coming soon to a highway near you



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Mid-Week Media: Economics for Five Year Olds, Raising Revenues, Obamanopoly, and Obama's Oscar

It's Friday, and I just realized that I neglected to post the usual Wednesday feature: Mid-Week Media. So here is a special end-of-the-week version!

Hudson Hinckley is your teacher in Economics for Five-Year-Olds:


ZoNation has a explanation on abortion and control:


Economics Professor Antony Davies has a short explanation of how to "raise revenues":


A new game inspired by Obama's economic policies:


Something happened between 2008 and 2012:


And finally, someone put on an Oscar-winning performance:

D.C. Daily: March 2, 2012

Senate
Yesterday's Action:
The Senate passed four measures by unanimous consent: S. Con. Res. 35, to establish the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies for the inauguration of the President-elect and Vice President-elect of the United States on January 21, 2013; S. Con. Res. 36, to authorize the use of the rotunda and Emancipation Hall of the Capitol by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies in connection with the proceedings and ceremonies conducted for the inauguration of the President-elect and the Vice President-elect of the United States; S. Res. 387, celebrating Black History Month; and S. Res. 388, commemorating the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 and "The Star Spangled Banner", and recognizing the historical significance, heroic human endeavor, and sacrifice of the United States Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Revenue Marine Service, and State militias, during the War of 1812. The Senate then resumed consideration of S. 1813, to reauthorize Federal-aid highway and highway safety construction programs.

Today's Schedule:
The Senate will meet today at 10:00 AM to resume consideration of S. 1813, to reauthorize Federal-aid highway and highway safety construction programs. There are no committee meetings currently scheduled.


House
Yesterday's Action:
The House passed three measures under suspension of the rules: H. Res. 562, to direct the Office of the Historian to compile oral histories from current and former Members of the House of Representatives involved in the historic and annual Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, marches, as well as the civil rights movement in general, for the purposes of expanding or augmenting the historic record and for public dissemination and education; S. 1134, to authorize the St. Croix River Crossing Project with appropriate mitigation measures to promote river values; and H. Res. 556, to condemn the Government of Iran for its continued persecution, imprisonment, and sentencing of Youcef Nadarkhani on the charge of apostasy.

Today's Schedule:
The House will not meet today. The next scheduled meeting of the House will be at 12:00 PM on Monday, March 5, 2012.


All information is taken from the Congressional Register.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Final Five: March 1, 2012

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

Tonight's Crazy Story:
Sign Promoting Literacy Night at Florida High School Misspelled, Principal Notes Irony
Florida's Lakewood High School recently promoted a literacy event, "Laeping to Literacy".


Topic One: ObamaCare
Will ObamaCare make insurance contracts unenforceable? The Institute for Justice wrote in an amicus brief which contends that it does. "In any other context, signing a contract under threat of force constitutes duress, which negates the contract under centuries-old legal standards. What happens when government applies the threat of force, through fines and presumably an eventual jail sentence for non-compliance? IJ has filed an amicus brief to the Supreme Court asking this very question."

Very quietly, the administration has increased funding for the insurance exchanges by $111 billion. What does this do to the claims that ObamaCare was "budget neutral"? "If employers dump many of their workers onto the exchanges, as numerous independent analyses suggest is likely, taxpayers may need to spend as much as $200 billion a year extra on these exchange subsidies. Well, it turns out that the Obama Administration agrees that initial spending estimates are too low. The White House’s fiscal year 2013 budget adds $111 billion in exchange spending between 2014 and 2021, with even more spending to come in future years."

However, do not forget that ObamaCare cannot possibly be the reason for the drop in employer health coverage, according to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "Sebelius's testimony directly contradicts a McKinsey study released last year. "At least 30 percent of employers are likely to stop offering health insurance once provisions of the U.S. health care reform law kick in in 2014, according to a study by consultant McKinsey," Reuters reported. "McKinsey, which based its projection on a survey of more than 1,300 employers of various sizes and industries and other proprietary research, found that 30 percent of employers will 'definitely' or 'probably' stop offering coverage in the years after 2014, when new medical insurance exchanges are supposed to be up and running."

Related stories: Will the IPAB go the way of the CLASS Act || Conservatives and the mandate


There's Always Time for a Laugh:
"[Leap day] is God's way of punishing us by making the election year even longer."
-Jay Leno


Topic Two: Iran
The US has closed off a major cash pipeline for Iran. "The U.S. Treasury Department disrupted a Dubai-based banking operation that Washington believes had become Tehran's primary conduit for evading international sanctions and processing its oil sales, according to people briefed on the operation. The effort was particularly sensitive because the targeted institution in the United Arab Emirates is partly owned by the local government of Dubai, a close U.S. ally."

Is the US paying the price for our past actions in the Middle East? "Much of the reason Iranians were so anti-American in 1979, after all, was the unlimited backing we had given to an unpopular dictator, the Shah. Likewise, much of the reason Egyptians are anti-American is because of the unlimited backing we gave to another unpopular dictator, Hosni Mubarak. It did not matter in either case that at the last minute, when both men were in danger of toppling, the U.S. effectively withdrew its backing. All that the people of Egypt and Iran would remember was the decades of support for a dictator which preceded the regime’s demise. Needless to say, I do not condone this anti-Americanism, but I can understand it–just as I can understand why so many American governments found it prudent to back the Shah and Mubarak."

Related stories: Will sanctions change Iran's mind? || Did Obama admin ignore Iranian rebels? || Iranian pastor set to be executed


Debt Watch:
On Tuesday, the government added $3,602,920,973.51 to the debt and yesterday, the government added an additional $46,770,312,584.14 to the debt, bringing the new national debt total to:
$15,488,891,296,248.02
(Your share as a citizen: $49,519.93)


Topic Three: Gas Prices
Will oil prices cause a global recession? "The West's determination to prevent Iran acquiring nuclear weapons is coming at a price — a price that might include a second global recession triggered by an oil shock," said David Hufton from the oil brokerage PVM. In dollar terms, oil prices are still some $20 a barrel short of their 2008 record of $147. But the latest Reuters monthly survey will Monday show oil analysts revising up their predictions for Brent crude by $3 since the previous month."

Drilling would make a big difference in oil prices. "Oil prices paid by U.S. refineries in the Gulf do move with global prices but not in lockstep. Increasing North American production would lower U.S. refinery acquisition costs, because U.S. refineries, like others around the world, are built to handle the special characteristics of oil produced by their primary sources supply. And gasoline produced by individual refineries is not wholly fungible either—differing fuel characteristics are required across the United States and Europe to meet environmental standards. Although tensions with Iran are growing and pushing up oil prices everywhere, prices have diverged between, for example, U.S. and European markets. For years, prices for West Texas Intermediate and North Sea Brent moved closely, but now WTI is selling for $17 less than its North Sea counterpart. This indicates the U.S. market is becoming somewhat separate and less wholly determined by global conditions; hence, more domestic production and increased access to Canadian oil would lower U.S. oil and prices—more drilling in the Gulf and elsewhere in North America, and the Keystone pipeline would significantly affect gas prices and employment."

Related stories: Chu: alternative energy, not lower gas prices, is the goal || House Minority Whip admits that gas prices could hurt Obama || Jindal on energy policy


Tweet of the Day:
Michelle Malkin @michellemalkin: Even in death, @andrewbreitbart exposes the rabid Left's intolerance.


Topic Four: Tax Reform
What is the rich's "fair share" of taxes? Until now, it has been undefined, but a recent poll asked the question, and the results may surprise some of the ones calling for higher taxes. "Essentially–Americans have no idea what tax rate the rich are paying. So, they’re just guessing on what they feel. When they know the facts, they think those rates are obscene. Republicans, independents, and democrats agree. It’s a consensus! The media has been so successful vilifying the rich, that the American people find themselves strongly disagreeing with…themselves. Nice work media!"

Michael Barone on the puzzling cheers for high taxes. "Higher tax rates on high earners, even if they produce less revenue, are an attempt to centralize power in government and to limit the autonomy and countervailing power of individuals in the voluntary sector. Which is why the liberal bloggers cheer them on. And why they eagerly join the Obama White House in demonizing the Koch brothers, who donate large sums to conservative causes."


Food for Thought - A Quote from our Founders
"If men of wisdom and knowledge, of moderation and temperance, of patience, fortitude and perseverance, of sobriety and true republican simplicity of manners, of zeal for the honour of the Supreme Being and the welfare of the commonwealth; if men possessed of these other excellent qualities are chosen to fill the seats of government, we may expect that our affairs will rest on a solid and permanent foundation."
-Samuel Adams


Topic Five: Wasting Money
A new government report shows that we are wasting tens of billions of dollars annually on duplication and overlap of programs. (Just remember: this model of efficiency will be used to "improve" our health care system!) This follows last year's report, which showed 81 areas which the federal government could improve. By the time it was reassessed this year, only four had been completed. "As Democrats and Republicans fight over how to reduce record deficits, the duplication and cost-savings reports would seem to be a road map to some easy cuts. But the going has been slow, according to the GAO. The watchdog laid out 176 action items for the 81 areas it highlighted in last year’s report. Of those 81, four have been completed, 60 have undergone early steps and 17 have had no action at all."


Tomorrow in History
March 2, 1962 - Wilt Chamberlain makes NBA history by becoming the first (and only) NBA player to score 100 points in a single game.


Grab Bag - Interesting and Important Stories to Conclude Your Evening

UK union threatens Olympic strike

Greece approves pension and salary cuts

VAT: The nightmare tax

California to allow nurses and midwives to perform abortions

North Korea agrees to suspend nuclear activity...but will they do it?

Less than half of Walker petition signatures eligible?

Dem. Congressman: no problem of illegals voting

Work ethic and unemployment

Obama pledges to buy a Volt



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Blunt Amendment Update

Today, the Senate defeated the Blunt amendment by a vote of 51-49. Republican Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine voted with the majority of Democrats in opposing the amendment, and Democratic Senators Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Ben Nelson of Nebraska voted with the Republicans.

D.C. Daily: March 1, 2012

Senate
Yesterday's Action:
The Senate agreed to two provisions by unanimous consent: S. Res. 382, designating March 2, 2012, as "Read Across America Day" and S. Res. 383, designating February 29, 2012, as "Rare Disease Day." The Senate then resumed consideration of S. 1813, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century.

Today's Schedule:
The Senate will convene at 9:30 AM and is expected to resume consideration of S. 1813, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century. A vote on the Blunt Amendment is expected to occur at approximately 11:00 AM.


House
Yesterday's Action:
The House passed two measures: H.R. 1837, the "San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act", by a vote of 246-175, and H.R. 3902, to amend the District of Columbia Home Rule Act to revise the timing of special elections for local office in the District of Columbia.

In Committee meetings, the Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Health, ordered H.R. 452, the "Medicare Decisions Accountability Act of 2011" reported without amendment. The Committee on Natural Resources began markup on 21 bills, but none were reported.

Today's Schedule:
The House will convene at 9:00 AM and is expected to consider H. Res. 562, Directing the Office of the Historian to compile oral histories from current and former Members of the House of Representatives involved in the historic and annual Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, marches, as well as the civil rights movement in general, for the purposes of expanding or augmenting the historic record and for public dissemination and education.

In committee meetings, the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade, will hold markup on H.R. 3783, the "Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act of 2012". The Committee on Transportation, Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management, will hold markup on four measures: H.R. 2903, the "FEMA Reauthorization Act of 2011"; H.R. 3182, the "James M. Fitzgerald United States Courthouse"; H.R. 3556, the "Robert H. Jackson United States Courthouse"; the "John F. Kennedy Center Reauthorization Act of 2012".


All information is taken from the Congressional Register.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Action Item: The Blunt Amendment

Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) has sponsored an amendment to the Senate's transportation bill, S. 1813, which would guarantee a right-of-conscience protection for all provisions of the Affordable Care Act. An agreement was reached on the Senate floor to bring the amendment to a vote tomorrow. Please contact your Senator and urge him or her to vote in favor of this amendment. Also, please forward this e-mail to other concerned citizens so that they can contact their Senators as well. I am including my letter below. Feel free to copy/paste and change as desired.

You can obtain the contact information for your Senators by visiting: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm


Dear Senator Paul,

During the debate over ratification of the US Constitution, one objection raised by many of our founding fathers was the lack of a clear declaration of rights. The reason for its omission was not because some of our founders thought that the rights of individuals and states were secondary to the rights of the federal government, but because individual rights were assumed to be so basic to our form of government that many saw no need to specifically include them in the Constitution. However, in order to secure ratification of the Constitution, a promise was made that Congress would amend the document to protect individual rights.

One of the rights protected by the Constitution is the right to religious freedom. Congress is specifically forbidden to establish a state church or state religion, but it is also forbidden to prohibit the free exercise of religion. Some have referred to this provision as the "separation of church and state."

Today, we see many instances where this concept of separation is used to prohibit the church and religious institutions from involvement in the government. However, many of the same people who promote the excessive use of the first amendment in this manner now have no problem with the "contraception mandate" recently approved by the Department of Health and Human Services. This mandate would force many religious institutions (not just Catholic institutions) to violate their beliefs by providing employees with health insurance coverage for items that they find morally objectionable. Furthermore, under the individual mandate, every American who opposes contraception will be forced to contribute to insurance pools that will cover these items. The federal government should never be able to force American citizens to violate their religious beliefs.

Fortunately, one of your colleagues, Senator Roy Blunt, has introduced an amendment that would prohibit this government overreach. Tomorrow, you will have the opportunity to vote on this important amendment. I trust that you will see this vote as an opportunity to defend religious freedom and the US Constitution. Please vote yes on the Blunt amendment.

Sincerely,
Jim Herman

Biden Speech Sacrificed for NFL Opener

The NFL's traditional opening game, usually played on a Thursday, has been moved this year in order to accommodate the Democratic Convention. The game would have conflicted with Obama's acceptance speech at the convention. Fortunately, alert schedulers realized the problem and the NFL moved its opening game to Wednesday, where it will now conflict with Joe Biden's speech. Is this just a coincidence, or do the Democrats really not care what Biden has to say?

D.C. Daily: February 29, 2012

Senate
Yesterday's Action:
The Senate passed S. Res. 381, authorizing photography in the Senate chamber. The Senate then resumed consideration of S. 1813, to reauthorize Federal-aid highway and highway safety construction programs. The Senate agreed to resume consideration of this bill today.

Today's Schedule:
The Senate will meet at 9:30 AM today for morning business, and it will then proceed to further consideration of S. 1813, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century.

Senate Committee Meetings Today:
Several Senate committees are expected to meet today for hearings, but no bills are expected to be under consideration.


House
Yesterday's Action:
By a vote of 303-114, the House passed H.R. 2117, to prohibit the Department of Education from overreaching into academic affairs and program eligibility under title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965. The House also passed H.R. 1433, the "Private Property Rights Protection Act of 2012" under suspension of the rules.

In committee meetings, the Committee on Rules approved the rule for H.R. 1837, the "San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act" and the Committee on the Judiciary held markup and reported three bills: H.R. 4086, the "Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity Clarification Act"; H.R. 3992, to allow otherwise eligible Israeli nationals to receive E-2 nonimmigrant visas if similarly situated United States national are eligible for similar nonimmigrant status in Israel; and H.R. 511, to amend title 18, United States code, to prohibit the importation of various injurious species of constrictor snakes.

Today's Schedule:
The House is expected to consider one measure under the rules today: H.R. 1837, the "San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act".

House Committee Meetings:
Two committees are expected to conduct work on bills today. First, the Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Health, will hold markup on H.R. 452, the "Medicare Decisions Accountability Act of 2011". The Committee on Natural Resources is expected to hold markup on 21 bills.


All information is taken from the Congressional Register.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Final Five: February 28, 2012

The Final Five: Bedtime Stories for Conservatives
February 28, 2012

Tonight's Crazy Story:
Hot Tub Installation on Roof of Campus Building a Mystery
A hot tub mysteriously appeared on the roof of a building at the University of Michigan. The tub was first noticed on Saturday, and it disappeared on Monday. University officials attribute the hot tub to a prank by some "creative" students.


Topic One: Gas Pains
TransCanada says that it plans to build a portion of the Keystone XL pipeline from Oklahoma to Texas, with the hope of connecting it to a pipeline in Canada at some point in the future. Because the project does not cross a national border, it will not require federal approval. Meanwhile, TransCanada also announced that it would reapply for the permit to build the entire pipeline with an alternate route through Nebraska to be provided once one is determined. President Obama welcomed this news.

Mark Green brings up the ANWR controversy again: "Remember how opponents of greater access to U.S. oil and natural gas resources scoffed at the idea of developing reserves in remotest Alaska, saying the oil would take 10 years to come online and therefore wouldn’t help crude supplies in the Lower 48? Guess what: We’re there. It’s 10 years later, and those reserves in Alaska are still waiting to be tapped – even as Washington enters another round of finger-pointing over energy. Here’s an indisputable point: If access to an airport-sized swatch of the 19-million-acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) had been granted a decade ago, a million barrels of oil per day could be part of America’s supply equation instead of an academic debating point."

Related stories: How we could stop the spike in oil prices || Obama playing politics with gas prices || Newt says cheap gas is good... || ...but Obama says GOP gas promises are 'phony'


There's Always Time for a Laugh:
"Last night was the Oscars and the NBA All-Star Game. That's what's great about America. You've got your choice of which spoiled millionaires to watch."
-Jay Leno


Topic Two: Iran
With Israel reportedly ready to strike Iran should the nation come close to developing nuclear capabilities, Israel now says that it would not tell the US about an impending strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. Israel publicly says that the move is intended to deflect possible criticism of America for failing to dissuade them from attacking, but I would suspect that the real story privately is different. The Obama administration has lacked the ability to keep a secret (except on very sensitive matters, such as the Obama birth certificate and college transcripts), and I would suspect that Israel's concern is that the administration could "accidentally" leak information about an attack to the media.

Meanwhile, Iran's defense minister is warning that an attack would lead to Israel's collapse. This could have the effect of drawing the US into another conflict in the Middle East. How's that Nobel Peace Prize working out for you, Mr. President? James Lewis says that an Israeli strike could happen before April 1st, and he contends that the 3 AM phone call will be what reveals Obama to be a fool. "Israel will act as in defense of its right to live. The left will predictably turn reality upside-down, the way it always does. They keep their brains in the darkest place they can find. Nothing will change those facts. The United States is the only nation with the power to knock down the Iranian threat with reasonable safety to itself and other countries. We have done it before. If Israel acts without our active help, the risks of great casualties on all sides will be much, much greater."

Related stories: Iran and the election || Is this propaganda or truth? || America is deceiving itself on Iran


Debt Watch:
Yesterday, the government added another $530,213,229.46 to the debt, bringing the total national debt to:
$15,438,518,062,690.37


Topic Three: ObamaCare
Democrat Congresswoman Kathy Hochul finally admitted the truth about ObamaCare: it really doesn't matter what the Constitution says. It has now become ridiculous to suggest that Congress follow the guidelines of the Constitution. In other news, Chicago Cardinal Francis George suggested this weekend that the Catholic church would close all of its hospitals and other affiliated organizations rather than give in to the administration's contraception requirement. "If you haven’t already purchased the Archdiocesan Directory for 2012, I would suggest you get one as a souvenir. On page L-3, there is a complete list of Catholic hospitals and health care institutions in Cook and Lake counties. Each entry represents much sacrifice on the part of medical personnel, administrators and religious sponsors. Each name signifies the love of Christ to people of all classes and races and religions. Two Lents from now, unless something changes, that page will be blank."

Jeff Spiers has an interesting article on the concept of interstate health insurance sales. "The stated goal is to encourage interstate insurance policy sales. But the authority to regulate interstate commerce rests with the federal government, via the Commerce Clause. This is where I have a real problem. Conservatives say ObamaCare should be tossed out because we don't want the federal government regulating health insurance. Indeed, we rightly argue that ObamaCare's individual mandate violates the Commerce Clause. So why does each of the Republican presidential candidates advocate a policy that brings us right back to granting the authority of the feds to regulate health insurance? No matter how much trust conservatives have in a Republican administration promoting this policy, the inevitable result is that the federal government will have consolidated power to regulate health insurance forevermore."

While I understand the point Spiers is trying to make, I disagree with his conclusion. There is a significant difference between ObamaCare and a proposal allowing interstate insurance sales. ObamaCare decreases our freedom by forcing us to purchase insurance and dictating many of the provisions of the insurance we must purchase. Allowing insurance sales across state lines increases our freedom by giving us additional choices. A Massachusetts resident would no longer be forced into a plan that meets the standards under RomneyCare, that resident could instead choose to purchase a plan from another state with less restrictive guidelines. While this proposal does involve the government in health care, it is through a Constitutional provision (the right to regulate interstate commerce) rather than through one that does not exist (the non-existent "good and welfare clause").

Related stories: Obamacare's stepchildren || New poll: most Americans want ObamaCare repealed


Tweet of the Day:
@cmdeb: @craigcarroll @nikkonito you'd think that recalling a pol would be limited to actual wrongdoing or something...apparently not


Topic Four: The Regulatory Gorilla
RCM's Mario Kranjac has a great piece on the impact of excessive regulation: "One of the chief anti-growth culprits is the 800-pound regulatory gorilla our elected (and increasingly unelected) policymakers have strapped on the back of our country's small business owners. On average, small businesses are forced to spend 70 percent more time complying with federal regulations than their large company counterparts, not to mention 45 percent more time on tax compliance. It is this growing burden of regulatory compliance that is preventing our nation's small business owners from growing, prospering and hiring new workers. It is taking up far too much of their precious time and, at worst, it is putting them out of business. In case you missed it, Gallup released a revealing poll recently showing just how bad the regulatory nightmare has become for America's small businesses. According to the poll, the number one concern among small-business owners in the United States today is-you guessed it-complying with government regulations. Almost a quarter of respondents said this is the most important problem facing them today."

Lurita Doan has analysis of the regulatory burden as well: "During the Bush Administration, Congressman Henry Waxman often pummeled the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), demanding more oversight and more regulatory reviews in an unrealistic quest to find perfect, risk-free medications. When Barack Obama became president, Democrat acolytes took over the FDA and implemented the strategy of excessive regulatory control that Waxman had advocated. And what was the effect? New pharmaceutical development, once an American competitive edge, has slowed to a crawl and the nation is in danger of losing its leadership in new drug development."


Food for Thought - A Quote from our Founders
"I am commonly opposed to those who modestly assume the rank of champions of liberty, and make a very patriotic noise about the people. It is the stale artifice which has duped the world a thousand times, and yet, though detected, it is still successful. I love liberty as well as anybody. I am proud of it, as the true title of our people to distinction above others; but...I would guard it by making the laws strong enough to protect it."
-Fisher Ames


Topic Five: Afghanistan
Ned Barnett on the protests in Afghanistan: "Without imposing our will on Afghanistan, or Iraq, we are not going to build rational democracies in the Muslim world, not the way we did among our conquered enemies after World War II. Instead, our Muslim "allies" have officially ignored a Presidential apology, and have demanded the right to prosecute and punish soldiers who risk their lives to preserve Afghanistan. It's time to get out. Not because we were wrong to depose the Taliban, but because the regime we created to replace the Taliban is not going to join us in an alliance of equals who share our rational values."

I agree with Barnett, and I would propose we adopt the following three principles for our withdrawal: First, we will begin our exit within seven days, and we will complete it as soon as possible. Second, Afghans may conduct non-violent protests as much as they wish, but our troops have orders to fire upon anyone who attempts to perpetrate violence. If a person chooses to shoot or throw a grenade at a member of any military, they have become a combatant rather than a civilian. Third, the US will strike without warning on any site that intelligence shows to be a stronghold for Al Qaeda. We went into Afghanistan to get rid of Al Qaeda, we have driven much of Al Qaeda into other countries, and now it is time for us to leave.


Tomorrow in History
February 29, 1972 - Hank Aaron makes Major League Baseball history by signing the first $200,000 contract.


Grab Bag - Interesting and Important Stories to Conclude Your Evening

The silence on Christian persecution

Are newborns people? Ethicists argue for after-birth abortions

Minnesota considering bill to allow schools to lay off teachers based on job performance rather than seniority.

Time for affirmative action to go?

The 1% tip hoax

Five things children know that liberals have forgotten

Planned Parenthood's grand deception

Church told to stop giving away free water



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D.C. Daily: February 28, 2012

Senate
Yesterday's Action:
By a vote of 86-2, the Senate confirmed the nomination of Margo Kitsy Brodie to be United States District Judge for the Eastern District of New York.

Today's Schedule:
The Senate will meet today at 10:00 AM for morning business, followed by consideration of any cleared business.

Senate Committee Meetings:
There are no bills under consideration by Senate committees today. However, several committees will hold hearings on various matters throughout the day.


House
Yesterday's Action:
The House passed one measure under suspension of the rules. H.R. 347, the "Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act" was approved by a vote of 388-3.

Today's Schedule:
The House will convene at 10:00 AM to consider H.R. 2117, the "Protecting Academic Freedom in Higher Education Act" subject to a rule.

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


All information is taken from the Congressional Register.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Final Five: February 27, 2012

The Final Five: Bedtime Stories for Conservatives
February 27, 2012

Tonight's Crazy Story:
Extreme Coaster Rips Limbs Off Dummies; Terrifies Fighter Pilots
A British roller coaster has received some interesting reviews: crash test dummies riding the ride returned with missing limbs, and fighter pilots returned with all their limbs (thankfully), but called the ride "gut-wrenching".


Topic One: Birth Control or Government Control
Michael Tanner has an excellent column at Townhall on what is really at stake in the contraception debate. "The problem with the contraceptive mandate is not the contraceptive part — it’s the mandate. The new health-care law requires every employer with 50 or more employees to provide their workers with health insurance. It also requires every American who doesn’t receive health insurance through work or a government program to buy insurance themselves or face a fine."

He continues by explaining how this affects everyone, "In this case, the benefit we are talking about is contraceptives, and it has sparked particular outrage because it will force religious institutions to pay, even indirectly, for a benefit that they find morally repugnant. But it is hardly the only benefit that the new health-care law mandates. Among other benefits, your policy must now include mental health benefits, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, prescription drugs, dental and vision care for children and a host of other services. You may not want those benefits, and they may make your insurance more expensive, but it is no longer your choice."

I am not a Catholic, and I do not have a problem with most forms of contraception. However, forcing any church to provide a particular product for its employees against its belief is a violation of the first amendment. The same people who ardently cry for keeping the church out of the government now have no problem allowing the government into the church. Fay Voshell writes more on this at American Thinker: "As during the time of Henry VIII, the Church and State are now to become one, with the state's religious/political viewpoints reigning supreme. The carefully wrought differentiation between the two and the guarantees of religious freedom America once knew are dangerously jeopardized."


There's Always Time for a Laugh:
"It was a tough game for the New York Knicks last night. Jeremy Lin went just 1-for-11 in their loss to Miami. Only 1 success out of 11 attempts — or as Newt Gingrich calls that, 'primary season.'"
-Jimmy Fallon


Topic Two: Election Problems
Is America suffering political apathy? Jonah Goldberg says that this problem affects both parties. "Generally speaking, Americans of all political stripes hate politics and politicians right now. Republicans are merely the focus of everyone’s attention because that’s where the action is. Everyone knows who the Democratic nominee will be. This gives Barack Obama all sorts of advantages. He can seem presidential and above the fray, he can raise money for the general election without getting bloodied by a primary challenger, and he can spend his time and resources unifying his party. But unity and enthusiasm are not the same thing. Everyone in the family can agree to eat Aunt Sally’s leftover casserole, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to be excited about it."

However, an even bigger problem is that Republicans are playing right into the media's hand and losing focus on the larger issues. We are discussing contraception and social issues rather than the way Obama is handling the economy. The decrease in the labor force participation rate and the increase in gas prices does not matter as much to the media as social issues. Furthermore, the President's signature legislative achievement has been met with unprecedented public opposition, and while this is expected to hurt the President, no candidate seems interested in discussing ObamaCare. If the Republicans are to stand a chance in November, they must begin discussing the ways that Obama has failed the nation.


Debt Watch:
On Friday, the government added $2,293,293,427.62 to the debt, bringing the total to:
$15,437,987,849,460.91


Topic Three: Obama's Gas Problem
Prices at the pump are rising, but Joseph Svetlic points out the truth about the cost of gas: gas prices are actuallhttp://cnsnews.com/news/article/obamas-energy-plan-algaey dropping, but the dollar's value is rising at a greater rate. "A 10-gallon fill-up for your Chevy Volt today would cost you an ounce of silver, or a single silver American Eagle coin. That's down from 1.6 ounces of silver for the same 10-gallon fill-up in January 2009. Gas is actually 35% cheaper, you bitter clingers! Alternatively, the Obamedia could credibly claim that gas prices are even a little cheaper compared to gold. Working out the same formula with gold, you would fork over 0.002133 ounces of gold (at $858/ounce) in January 2009, while you would pay 0.002018 ounces of gold (at $1756.40) today. See?! Gas is even 5.4% cheaper today when compared to gold. High gas prices? What are you talking about, rubes?"

And in the midst of these rising gas prices, our President suggests we turn to algae. Perhaps someday, we will all have cars that run on algae, but I know that the next time my car's tank gets low, it is going to need gas, not pond scum. And with the price of gas likely to rise for some time, Joseph Curl asks: can we afford four more years of Obama?

Related stories: 10 ways Obama could reduce gas prices right now || It's time to tell America the truth


Tweet of the Day:
@cmdeb: you know, if the Catholic church hadn't meddled in the state, in the form of pushing for O-care passage, they might not be in this position


Topic Four: The Economy
This is an excellent piece by Scott Mayer on the President's elimination of American ambition: "Over the years I've had well over fifty employees pass through my organization. While working with (exploiting in Leftist lingo) these individuals, I've noticed a diverse range of "ambitions." Some worked hard and were content with just their paychecks. Others hardly worked at all and exploited me. Two really stand out as having had their own audacity of "ambition." Both started with virtually nothing (one had left communist Vietnam) and both ended up owning more than one home each while working for me. They eventually had the "ambition" to start their own companies and moved on. Yes, they're now feeling the pain of this government caused "recession" as well. I left school with high "ambitions" and the expectation of road blocks. I've stumbled on many self-created road blocks (I take full responsibility for those) along the way, but I never thought that the largest ones I would encounter would be the ones that were created by the government."

Our life right now is the sum total of the decisions we have made. If we have the ambition that Meyer discusses, we will strive for greater heights, and we will make the decisions that we hope will bring us there. There will certainly be times that we will make the wrong decision, and that may bring us down for a time. However, a person with ambition will get up and get going again. When we attempt to make everything equal, we destroy any reason for ambition.


Food for Thought - A Quote from our Founders
"The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their Constitutions of Government. But the Constitution which at any time exists, 'till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole People is sacredly obligatory upon all."
-George Washington


Topic Five: Union Insanity
FOX News has a report on the increasing number of volunteers performing jobs within the city. This sounds great, as it has allowed cities and counties to trim the number of employees they have to pay. However, this has upset the unions. Ian Gordon of Laborer’s Union 1239 in Seattle told FOX News, "They’re eroding the number of hours for our people. It’s of great concern that they might be doing further work that we would normally do." What these unions fail to recognize, however, is that their contracts can be voided in bankruptcy court if the city or county becomes unable to pay its bills. Some would contend that local government bankruptcies are uncommon, but as debt has increased greatly during the past few years, so has the likelihood of default. Union opposition to volunteering may save union jobs in the short-term, only to lose a greater number in the future.


Tomorrow in History
February 28, 1854 - The Republican Party of the United States is organized in Ripon, Wisconsin.


Grab Bag - Interesting and Important Stories to Conclude Your Evening

How prescription drug abuse costs you money

More green layoffs

Free enterprise is a right, not a privilege

Zimbabwe President tells youth to shun western values (just look how that's worked out for them)

EU imposing new sanctions on Syria

Dad arrested for daughter's gun drawing

The politics of victimhood

Windows 8 to contain "kill switch"



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Just Some Speech By Some Old Guy...

In honor of George Washington's birthday, the Senate will hold a reading of Washington's Farewell Address. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) have the honor of reading the speech this year. WaPo has some comments on this cutom:
Senate tradition alert! The “upper chamber” is just chocka­block with customs...We’ll get to witness one of the quirks of the august body today when Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) takes to the floor to read a speech originally made by then-President George Washington in honor of the cherry-tree-chopping first president’s birthday.

Perhaps the Post (and Congress) should consider paying attention to the speech instead of dismissing it as a "quirky" custom. Here are some of my personal favorite quotes from the letter:
  • "I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the state, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party, generally."
  • "It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free country should inspire caution, in those intrusted with its administration, to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart, is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position."
  • "Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and Citizens."
  • "It is substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government."
  • "As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public credit. One method of preserving it is, to use it as sparingly as possible; avoiding occasions of expense by cultivating peace, but remembering also that timely disbursements to prepare for danger frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it; avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertions in time of peace to discharge the debts, which unavoidable wars may have occasioned, not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burthen, which we ourselves ought to bear."
  • "It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world; so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it; for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements."

D.C. Daily: February 27, 2012

The House and Senate will return from their President's Day recess today. Both chambers will reconvene at 2:00 PM. The Senate will first hold a reading of Washington's Farewell Address, which will be read by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). The Senate will then consider the nomination of Margo Kitsy Brodie to be United States District Judge for the Eastern District of New York. A vote on confirmation of the nomination will take place at approximately 5:30 PM. The schedule for the House was not released to the Congressional Record.