Friday, June 1, 2012

The Final Five: June 1, 2012

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Tonight's Crazy Story:
Black Bear Crashes California Graduation
Students and parents attending graduation at Sierra Middle School were surprised to see a black bear on the school's property.

Topic One: The Jobless Numbers
Even given the pathetic predictions being made in advance of the release of May's employment report this morning, the release of the May jobless numbers was a huge disappointment. The unemployment rate ticked up .1 to 8.2%, and the economy created less than half of the prediction: 69,000 (versus the prediction of 158,000). The labor force participation rate was up slightly to 63.8%, but it remains over two points below the pre-recession levels. Furthermore, April's jobs report was also revised significantly downward.

Reaction from PowerLine's John Hinderaker: "In the segment I did on the Kudlow Report last night, the former Clinton aide who tried to defend Obama’s record claimed that unemployment was at 10% when he took office. This is ridiculous, of course, and he was swiftly corrected: the unemployment rate in January 2009 was 7.6%. After 3 1/2 years in office, the unemployment rate is higher today than when the Obama administration began, and that doesn’t even take into account the millions of Americans who have left the job market since 2009. When President and Mrs. Bush were at the White House yesterday, President Obama couldn’t resist (as Paul noted here) whining about the terrible economy he inherited. Can you imagine a CEO who ran a company for four years, and was still complaining about how tough he had it as his company continued to slide downhill? The Board would summarily dismiss him. Let’s hope that’s what the voters do with Obama in November."

Liberals are trying to blame Republicans for the bad report (of course): "Only a liberal could believe there were "deep spending cuts" in a budget sporting a trillion dollar deficit. It takes a special kind of disconnect - as in a rational mind from one that gorges itself on fantasy - to believe that the rotten jobs numbers are the result of anything except the failed, unimaginative, trite, and brutally ineffective policies of the Obama administration. I am waiting for the next shoe to drop in this narrative; that the bad unemployment report is the result of GOP "obstructionism."

Time for a Laugh:
"New York City's Mayor Bloomberg is cracking down on the most dangerous threat to the Big Apple: sodas."
-Jay Leno

Topic Two: Bloomberg's Ban
NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed a ban on sodas sold in containers larger than 16 ounces. While the effort to combat obesity is understandable, this is unlikely to do any good. Instead of buying the 32 ounce soda, people can now just purchase two 16 ounce sodas. Furthermore, this is another example of government overreach. Just because something is good to do does not mean that government should legislate it. (This then leads to the question: How do we define what is "good".)

CBN reporter Lorie Johnson admits that it could benefit the health of the city's citizens, but questions whether this is the proper role of the government: "There is no debating whether these large sodas are bad for your health. They're terrible. The debate then centers on whether people should educate themselves and, utilizing self-control, avoid soda voluntarily, or whether the government assumes a parental role and deprives its citizens of the right to choose because the government leaders believe citizens don't have the intelligence or self-discipline to make proper decisions on their own."

The Coca-Cola Company issued this statement about the proposed ban: "The people of New York City are much smarter than the New York City Health Department believes. We are transparent with our consumers. They can see exactly how many calories are in every beverage we serve. We have prominently placed calorie counts on the front of our bottles and cans and in New York City, restaurants already post the calorie content of all their offerings and portion sizes -- including soft drinks. New Yorkers expect and deserve better than this. They can make their own choices about the beverages they purchase. We hope New Yorkers loudly voice their disapproval about this arbitrary mandate."

Finally, if Bloomberg wants to show that he is serious about combating obesity, perhaps he should pull his support of this proposal.

Debt Watch:
( As of Thursday, May 31, 2012 )

Change: +$54,059,784,913
Your share as a citizen: $50,435.83
Share per household: $138,053.55
Debt since Obama inauguration: $5,143,808,036,451

Topic Three: The Spending Debate
Jonah Goldberg lays out the argument Romney should be making on spending and the debt: "Republicans in Washington helped create the problem, and Romney should concede the point. Focused on fighting a war, Bush -- never a tightwad to begin with -- handed the keys to the Treasury to Tom DeLay and Denny Hastert, and they spent enough money to burn a wet mule. On Bush's watch, education spending more than doubled, the government enacted the biggest expansion in entitlements since the Great Society (Medicare Part D), and we created a vast new government agency (the Department of Homeland Security)."

"And yet, to listen to Obama and his allies, the Bush years were a time of "market fundamentalism" and government inaction. That's in part because when it comes to domestic policy, Democrats will always want to spend more than Republicans, so Republicans are always branded as mean-spiritedly frugal by comparison. Nearly every problem with spending and debt associated with the Bush years was made far worse under Obama. The man campaigned as an outsider who was going to change course before we went over a fiscal cliff. Instead, when he got behind the wheel, as it were, he hit the gas instead of the brakes -- and yet has the temerity to claim that all of the forward momentum is Bush's fault."

Daniel Mitchell agrees with Goldberg's point: "Jonah’s point about “fixing what’s wrong with Washington” is not a throwaway line. Romney has pledged to voters that he won’t raise taxes. He also has promised to bring the burden of federal spending down to 20 percent of GDP by the end of a first term. But even those modest commitments will be difficult to achieve if he isn’t willing to gain credibility with the American people by admitting that Republicans helped create the fiscal mess in Washington. Especially since today’s GOP leaders in the House and Senate were all in office last decade and voted for Bush’s wasteful spending."

Tweet of the Day:
Ken Gardner (@kesgardner): The most important thing we can do now to turn the jobs picture around: stop Taxmageddon. The GOP House is ready. But Dems are silent.

Topic Four: Fixing Education
What should Romney do about America's education problem? "He should begin by reducing Washington-imposed regulatory burden. No more bureaucratic millstones. Abolish Department of Justice edicts about racial disciplinary quotas, end the anti-bullying task forces, and forget about national standards (these are always avoided anyhow). Then dismantle all the Department of Education one-size-fits-all mandates on testing and proficiency. And on and on. In an instant, teachers could teach, not battle Mickey Mouse rules, and students will benefit."

"Then, turn the national education agenda away from uplifting the bottom (massively expensive and ineffective, anyhow) to energizing science and engineering education. A few strokes of the pen could reverse Washington's decade-long war on gifted programs (see here). Not all that difficult, either. Local constituencies for genuine gifted education already exist, but these have been stifled by the Bush NCLB requirements to uplift the bottom. If, as usual, the ACLU attacks a local gifted program as "discriminatory," Washington should now defend the program. Within a year, thousands of school districts will have authentic gifted programs."

Food for Thought - A Quote from our Founders
"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Already they have raised up a moneyed aristocracy that has set the government at defiance. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs."

-Thomas Jefferson

Topic Five: We Can't Afford Medicare
Bryan Lawrence on why most American's cannot comprehend the true size of Medicare: "Put another way, Medicare is a transfer of wealth from younger to older Americans."

"As long as the baby boomers were working and paying taxes, their large numbers made this transfer to their parents and grandparents affordable. But the boomers began to retire last year. In its 2011 annual report on the nation’s financial position — compiled in conjunction with the Office of Management and Budget — the U.S. Treasury described the federal government’s finances as unsustainable. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, in testimony to Congress this year, cited the ballooning cost of the transfer inherent in Medicare as a key driver."

"The net present value of the transfer — the amount that would have to be set aside today to fund Medicare’s future intergenerational promises — has grown to at least $25 trillion, as calculated by the Government Accountability Office. This number is buried in footnotes of the annual Treasury-OMB report and is so large (almost twice the $14 trillion value of all public U.S. companies) that it defies comprehension. It’s not surprising that Americans can’t relate the alarming cost of this transfer to their own lives."

Tomorrow in History
June 2, 1835 - P.T. Barnum's circus begins its first tour of the United States.

Grab Bag - Interesting and Important Stories to Conclude Your Evening:
Indiana teen gets visa to return to US

DOJ halts Florida's push to clean up voter rolls

Rapper Drake brags about his million; Billionaire oil tycoon puts him in his place

Groupon: "Celebrate the man who gave birth to you"

Regulation: the hidden tax on capital and growth

Solyndra debate hits Wikipedia

Kayak stalls IPO after Facebook flop

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D.C. Daily: June 1, 2012

Yesterday's Action:
The Senate met yesterday in a pro forma session.

Today's Schedule:
The Senate will not meet today. The Senate will return to conduct business on Monday, June 4.

Yesterday's Action:
During business yesterday, the House took the following actions:
  • Rejected H.R. 3541, the "Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA) of 2012", by a vote of 246 yeas to 168 nays (a two-thirds vote was required to suspend the rules and pass the bill.)
  • Passed H.R. 5743, the "Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013", by a vote of 386 yeas to 28 nays.
  • Passed H.R. 5854, the "Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013", by a vote of 407 yeas to 12 nays.
  • Began consideration of H.R. 5325, the "Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013".

Today's Schedule:
The House will meet today at 9:00 AM. The House is expected to resume consideration of H.R. 5325, the "Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013", subject to the rule passed yesterday.

Executive Agencies
Significant Proposed Rules:

Significant Final Rules:
  • Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services: corrects technical errors and typographical errors in the final rule with comment period entitled “Medicare Program; Changes to the Medicare Advantage and the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Programs for Contract Year 2013 and Other Changes” which appeared in the April 12, 2012 Federal Register. (Effective 6/1/12)

Supreme Court
The court has concluded scheduled oral arguments for the October 2011 term. However, the court is still meeting to finalize decisions on cases it heard during the preceeding term. The court's next session of oral arguments is scheduled to begin on Monday, October 1, 2012.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Final Five: May 31, 2012

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Tonight's Crazy Story:
Diners Caught Bailing on Bill After Locking Keys in Getaway Car
If you plan to "dine-and-dash", make sure you don't lock your keys in the car when you go into the restaurant.

Topic One: Obama's Credit Card
Obama running from his spending record: "The White House has a deeply conflicted relationship to its own record. It is saddled with a bad case of spender’s denial, a rare psychological disorder afflicting committed Keynesians facing re-election at a time of record debt. On the one hand, spending is the lifeblood of “Forward.” It saved us from another Great Depression. It is forging a glorious new future of green energy. It is the only thing standing between the American public and the untold devastation of the Paul Ryan budget. How do we know? Because President Obama says so. On the other hand, the deficits and the debt that come with all this spending are alarming and unpopular. So Obama calls himself the most fiscally conservative president in over half a century."

But it all created jobs right? At $4.1 million per job: "At the very least, I think the CBO report should raise more questions about whether $831 billion of temporary tax cuts and government spending was the best use of that money back in 2009. It should also make Washington cautious about further such stimulus measures if the U.S. economy should slip back into recession. Better we try what Sweden did."

Time for a Laugh:
"It's a big night for hockey fans. It's game one of the Stanley Cup Finals. The Kings are in the finals for only the second time in their history. What was on ESPN today? — the national spelling bee."
-Craig Ferguson

Topic Two: Wisconsin
After Tom Barrett admitted that he didn't know of any school districts hurt by the collective bargaining law, now a union official is also admitting that Wisconsin's Act 10 has not hurt the school: "Union president Jeff Bersch said the administration's outreach to the staff has eased concerns. "We have been promised no impact next year," Bersch said. "The district works really well with us and has kept us up to date - and we have the wizard of numbers (Koczela). Overall morale is not bad because of Act 10. We didn't lose any jobs and class sizes are the same."

Why are the unions so upset about the collective bargaining law? "It's one of the greatest scams in the history left-wing scams, and it goes a little something like this: Taxpayers of all political stripes pay the salaries of public employees, public employees are forced to join public unions, public unions garnish dues from members and then use those dues to fund Democrat candidates to the tunes of hundreds of millions of dollars. What a racket. In other words, against our will, you and I are helping to fund Democrat campaigns. But so are those public employees forced into unions."

Debt Watch:
( As of Wednesday, May 30, 2012 )

Change: +$2,969,697,498
Your share as a citizen: $50,262.94
Share per household: $137,580.32
Debt since Obama inauguration: $5,089,748,251,538

Topic Three: Doubling Costs
Can we afford the Affordable Care Act if it produces results like this? "Clearwater Christian College, a non-denominational school, on Tampa Bay, placed the blame squarely on ObamaCare. “Due to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA – commonly known as health care reform), the cost of student health insurance has doubled,” read the letter from the college’s human resources department. “In addition, most insurance carriers are hesitant to provide contracts for this insurance due to the unpredictability of the cost of the claims."

"Clearwater requires all students to have insurance – either through the college’s plan or a private plan. It’s unclear how many of the school’s 500 students will be impacted by the price hike."

"But the price will certainly hurt students like Johnson – who only paid $465 a year for health insurance when he was a freshman."

Tweet of the Day:
Ben Howe (@BenHowe): I've decided that Mayor Bloomberg isn't healthy enough. We need to pass some laws to fix that.

Topic Four: The First Amendment Gutted
Brett Kimberlin, the notorious Speedway bomber, has set out to silence conservative bloggers. Kimberlin claimed that Aaron Walker's posts about him constituted harassment. "This was the second peace order that Kimberlin has filed against Walker, demanding that Walker cease any contact with Kimberlin. In it, Kimberlin claims that Walker has “continually harassed” him with “alarming posts, tweets, alerts that arrive in my email box, which I consider threats to me personally and to my business.” Kimberlin came to court with pages upon pages of threatening emails and tweets that he claimed had resulted from Walker’s blog posts about him. None of them, though, were sent by Walker."

The end result: a "peace order" was issued against Walker, meaning that he cannot mention Kimberlin in his blog for six months. "I or anyone else can write a blog post about “Person A” and urge others to write about it. But I have no control over whether other people do that. And I certainly have no control over whether someone sends a threatening email or tweet to Person A after reading my blog post. Surely, the people who send threatening emails and such should face consequences. But as long as I do not write something along the lines of “send Person A a nasty email,” I’m not in anyway at fault. And looking over Aaron Walker’s blog, it’s clear he never told anyone to do such a thing to Kimberlin. But, according to Vaughey’s reasoning, I would be at fault. If that’s indeed the case, well, you can probably figure out that the First Amendment has just been gutted."

Food for Thought - A Quote from our Founders
"Are we at last brought to such humiliating and debasing degradation that we cannot be trusted with arms for our defense? Where is the difference between having our arms in possession and under our direction, and having them under the management of Congress? If our defense be the real object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our own hands?"

-Patrick Henry

Topic Five: Private Equity vs. Public Equity
This campaign will be about Romney's private equity experience and Obama's public equity failures: "According to Schweizer, the appearance of impropriety was so bad that “the Department of Energy’s inspector general, Gregory Friedman, chastised the alternative-energy loan and grant programs for their absence of ‘sufficient transparency and accountability.’”

"We are just passed Memorial Day weekend and the presidential campaign appears top have been framed. With Obama attacking Romney for his private equity experience at Bain Capital, and Romney attacking Obama for his public equity adventures as president is the campaign going to be Romney’s private equity vs. Obama’s public equity?"

Tomorrow in History
June 1, 1974 - The journal Emergency Medicine publishes an article on the Heimlich Maneuver.

Grab Bag - Interesting and Important Stories to Conclude Your Evening:
Koran-burning pastor announces White House bid

Defense of Marriage Act ruled unconstitutional

Obama's "recovery" lacking 6.5 million jobs

What are your children learning in public school?

Why June presidential polls are worthless

EPA celebrates crushing 1 million working refrigerators

Phantom accounting is destroying the Post Office

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D.C. Daily: May 31, 2012

Yesterday's Action:
The Senate did not meet yesterday.

Today's Schedule:
The Senate will meet at 12:00 PM for a pro forma session. The Senate will return to conduct business on Monday, June 4.

Yesterday's Action:
During business yesterday, the House took the following actions:
  • Passed H.R. 5512, the "Divisional Realignment Act of 2012".
  • Passed H.R. 5651, the "Food and Drug Administration Reform Act of 2012", by a vote of 387 yeas to 5 nays.
  • Passed H.R. 3310, the "Federal Communications Commission Consolidated Reporting Act of 2012".
  • Passed H.R. 4201, the "Servicemember Family Protection Act", by a vote of 390 yeas to 2 nays.
  • Passed H.R. 1299, the "Secure Border Act".
  • Passed H.R. 3670, to require the Transportation Security Administration to comply with the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act.
  • Passed H.R. 2764, the "WMD Intelligence and Information Sharing Act".
  • Passed H.R. 915, the "Jaime Zapata Border Security Task Force Act".
  • Passed H.R. 3140, the "Mass Transit Intelligence Prioritization Act".
  • Agreed to the Senate Amendment to H.R. 5740, the "National Flood Insurance Program Extension Act".
  • Passed H.R. 4041, the "Export Promotion Reform Act".
  • Debated H.R. 3541, the "Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA) of 2012".

Today's Schedule:
The House will meet today at 10:00 AM. The House is expected to consider H.R. 5743, the "Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013", subject to a rule and begin consideration of H.R. 5854, subject to a rule.

Executive Agencies
Significant Proposed Rules:
  • Energy Department: prescribing energy conservation standards for various consumer products and certain commercial and industrial equipment, including residential clothes washers. (Comment period ends 9/18/12)

Significant Final Rules:

Supreme Court
The court has concluded scheduled oral arguments for the October 2011 term. However, the court is still meeting to finalize decisions on cases it heard during the preceeding term. The court's next session of oral arguments is scheduled to begin on Monday, October 1, 2012.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Final Five: May 30, 2013

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Tonight's Crazy Story:
Couple Splits After Wife Adopts 550 Cats
Read the headline...enough said.

Topic One: Obamanomics
IBD analyzes the drop in consumer confidence: "Analysts had predicted the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index would climb to 70 in May. Instead it dropped more than four points to 64.9, the biggest drop since last fall. It's the latest in another round of disappointing numbers. Just a few weeks ago, new jobs came in "unexpectedly" low. And before that, GDP data disappointed. Underperforming economic indicators have been so common under Obama that the only mystery is why the experts keep getting caught off guard. In the case of the Consumer Confidence Index, the current number — bad as it is — doesn't even tell the whole story."

Meanwhile, ratings agencies are warning of another US debt downgrade: "Rating agencies say they need to be convinced that lawmakers have a real plan in the works to reduce the growing debt if the nation is to avert future downgrades, according to a report by The Hill. "If Congress doesn’t put in place a process that assures people that this will be addressed in a real manner . . . then there is no doubt in my mind that our sovereign debt will be downgraded," said Steve Bell, the senior director of economic policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center. "Markets throughout the world are going to be looking at the action of the United States government."

America's age of austerity is here: "America’s still deep in denial. We prefer happy talk to the truth. No, nobody will get honest about austerity till after the elections. Then it’ll hit hard. Till the elections, nobody else will tell you the truth about what comes with this slowdown: Plan on classic economic austerity. Maybe not austerity as deep as the euro zone’s Spain and Greece. Yet maybe deeper than the 1930s as Nobel economist Paul Krugman writes in his new book, “End This Depression Now.” Yes, America’s already in a depression. Wake up America, to a long bear market, a recession cycle, to austerity where everything slows down, income, jobs, retail, global trade, and market returns."

Time for a Laugh:
"It's not such a great day for fans of the game show "Jeopardy," which is everybody. Alex Trebek says he may retire at the end of the season. Trebek says he wants to spend more time at home, arrogantly correcting his family."
-Craig Ferguson

Topic Two: Wisconsin
In their headline, The New York Times asks "How Did Wisconsin Become the Most Politically Divisive Place in America?" The answer is simple: Wisconsin elected a man who refused to bow to union pressure. When the unions realized they had lost the fight over the bill, they then decided to involve themselves in a smear campaign and force a recall election.

However, Walker is not the only candidate on the ballot. Also facing a statewide recall is Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch. While Walker is starting to pull away from Tom Barrett and is looking safer as the election draws closer, Kleefisch's race is still looking close. A Walker victory with a Kleefisch defeat would do little to influence public policy (barring some unforseen event or an assassination of Walker, which would not be outside the realm of possibility when unions are involved), but it would still be a symbolic victory for the unions that could have consequences within the state.

Finally, The Nation makes this very important point: Scott Walker is human. Yes, Walker may have supported and benefited from recalls in the past, but there is not a person in the world who would be completely fair when it comes to looking at events such as this.

Debt Watch:
( As of Tuesday, May 29, 2012 )

Change: +$2,054,656,747
Your share as a citizen: $50,253.45
Share per household: $137,554.33
Debt since Obama inauguration: $5,086,778,554,040

Topic Three: Green Fails
This week, we celebrated the anniversary of Obama's praise of Solyndra as an engine of economic growth. It turned out to be more like an engine of taxpayer waste. It was never about the jobs; it was about political payback to Obama's biggest supporters.

The new math of renewable energy: "Suppose you could produce $50 of electricity but it cost you $100 to do so. Would that make any sense? It would if you work at the White House. In a speech at a wind-turbine blade manufacturer in Iowa, President Obama called for extending two sets of subsidies that turn energy economics upside down and force higher costs on consumers and taxpayers. The first extension is for the production tax credit (PTC), which is set to expire at the end of the year. It provides wind-energy producers with a subsidy of about 40 percent of the wholesale cost of electricity. So, when a wind-energy producer sells $50 worth of electricity, Uncle Sam adds another $20 for a total revenue of $70 to the producer. The second extension is for the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Credit—originally funded in President Obama’s “stimulus” bill. This 30 percent credit cuts the cost of $100 worth of equipment to just $70."

Tweet of the Day:
@RBPundit: GST = 750 layoffs. Solyndra = 1100 layoffs and $535 Million in taxpayer money lost. Advantage, Romney. #tcot #p2

Topic Four: Voter ID
Richmond Times-Dispatch takes a look at the ID controversy in Virginia: "Then, as now, they argued that there was little evidence of need for such a measure. It's a fair point — but it cuts both ways. Voter-ID measures have now been on the books for a decade. Where is the evidence of voter suppression? If the law thwarted anyone who should have been able to cast a ballot from doing so, then groups such as the ACLU and the NAACP would have brought them forward, held press conferences, and sued for the violation of voting rights faster than you can say George Wallace. That hasn't happened. The law will still permit individuals without a valid ID to cast a ballot, just like the old one did. However, rather than sign an affidavit that they are who they claim to be, as current law permits, the new law will make the ballot provisional until the voter provides proof. At the same time, it also expands the types of identification accepted. Voters not only can present a Social Security card, driver's license, government ID, or photo ID from a private employer, they now will be able to use a utility bill, paycheck, bank statement, government check, or college student ID card. And, of course, they still can use a voter registration card — such as the new ones being sent out by the state."

A FOX News special exposed the truth about election fraud: "Despite the indictments and convictions, the position of progressives is that election fraud isn't really much of a problem in America. Eric Shawn of Fox News has done more than anyone else on television to expose the truth about election fraud. For years he's reported on it, and now he's come out with an excellent new special: "Stealing Your Vote." The issues Shawn covers include fraudulent absentee ballots, illegal petitions to get candidates on ballots, the Wisconsin recall, non-citizen voting, using the registrations of the dead to vote, ACORN and voter registration fraud, voter ID laws and the Obama crusade against them, and the recent appeal by the NAACP to the UN. There's also a terrific segment on the history of election fraud in America. Shawn is imminently fair and goes after both parties. But the most disturbing segment is on the 2008 election for U.S. Senate in Minnesota where illegal voting by felons robbed Sen. Norm Coleman of reelection. That stolen election gave Democrats their filibuster-proof margin -- and made ObamaCare possible."

You can watch Eric Shawn's video at Dailymotion.

Food for Thought - A Quote from our Founders
"Whenever governments mean to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise an army upon their ruins."

-Elbridge Gerry

Topic Five: The War on the Church
Jonathan Tobin discusses ObamaCare's impact on religious freedoms: "Religious freedom is not just the right to, as the Times puts it, “preach that contraception is sinful and rail against Mr. Obama for making it more readily available” (though in fact, the Church is not seeking to curtail the availability of contraception to the general public). It is also the right not to have its institutions forced to either pay for or facilitate the receipt of services that run contrary to its principles."

"It bears repeating that one needn’t share the Vatican’s views on contraception to understand that a government dictat that would coerce churches to dispense it is a violation of their religious liberty. Nor would a so-called “compromise” that would maintain the imposition but shift its cost reduce the threat to freedom. But the fact, as the Times points out, that even most Catholics support contraception does not mean the church and those who agree with it should be stripped of their rights. Allowing their institutions to abstain from providing contraception coverage does not make the church a law unto itself or impose its views on others; it merely leaves them alone. Nor does the government’s obligation to advance a “compelling interest” grant it the latitude to violate those rights. Those who wish to receive free contraception don’t have to work for the church. The idea that a fanciful constitutional right to such services should trump religious freedom is the product of a mindset in which all freedoms can be annulled for the sake of some mythical and unproven greater good."

Tomorrow in History
May 31, 1790 - Congress enacts the first copyright statute, The Copyright Act of 1790.

Grab Bag - Interesting and Important Stories to Conclude Your Evening:
Saverin left as a taxpayer, not a traitor

German teen solves 300-year-old riddle posed by Issac Newton

NC Walmart has Veterans removed on Memorial Day

Obama confuses NAACP with NCAA

Is it time for monetary regime change?

Obama isn't learning the right lessons

Indiana homecoming queen, salutatorian stuck in Mexico on visa technicality

Illinois state rep goes ballistic
(NOTE: Content warning for language during the opening 10 seconds. Normally, I would not include this video, but it is nice to see that there is someone who takes his job as a representative seriously.)

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Mid-Week Media: Great Presidents, the Welfare State, Reid's Homework, and the Green Exchange

It's Wednesday, and Mid-Week Media is back!

American Crossroads looks at Obama's comparison to other Presidents with this great ad:

Dick Morris on the origins of the welfare state:

Harry Reid gives teacher his excuses for not getting his homework done:

Congress is concerned about JPMorgan's loss, but unconcerned about their own:

Romney and Obama both know how to grow "Capital/Capitol":

How the "green exchange" works:

And finally, on the week of Memorial Day, here is a great video tribute to our veterans:

D.C. Daily: May 30, 2012

Yesterday's Action:
The Senate met yesterday in a pro forma session.

Today's Schedule:
The Senate will not be in session today. The Senate will meet tomorrow at 12:00 PM for a pro forma session. The Senate will return to conduct business on Monday, June 4.

Yesterday's Action:
The House met yesterday in a pro forma session.

Today's Schedule:
The House will meet today at 2:00 PM. The House is expected to consider twelve bills under suspension of the rules:
  • H.R. 5651, the "Food and Drug Administration Reform Act of 2012"
  • H.R. 3310, the "Federal Communications Commission Consolidated Reporting Act of 2012".
  • H.R. 3541, the "Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA) of 2012".
  • H.R. 5512, the "Divisional Realignment Act of 2012".
  • H.R. 4201, the "Servicemember Family Protection Act".
  • H.R. 1299, the "Secure Border Act".
  • H.R. 3670, to require the Transportation Security Administration to comply with the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act.
  • H.R. 2764, the "WMD Intelligence and Information Sharing Act".
  • H.R. 915, the "Jaime Zapata Border Security Task Force Act".
  • H.R. 3140, the "Mass Transit Intelligence Prioritization Act".
  • Concur in the Senate Amendment to H.R. 5740, the "National Flood Insurance Program Extension Act".
  • H.R. 4041, the "Export Promotion Reform Act".

Executive Agencies
Significant Proposed Rules:
  • Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration: withdrawing a proposed rule printed on April 5, 2012.
  • Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration: establishing criteria and procedures for determining the adequacy of state pipeline excavation damage prevention law enforcement programs; establishing an administrative process for making adequacy determinations; establishing the Federal requirements PHMSA will enforce in states with inadequate excavation damage prevention law enforcement programs; and establishing the adjudication process for administrative enforcement proceedings against excavators where Federal authority is exercised. (Comment period ends 7/9/12)
  • Energy Department: prescribes energy conservation standards for various consumer products and certain commercial and industrial equipment, including residential dishwashers. (Comment period ends 9/17/12)

Significant Final Rules:
  • Safety and Environmental Enforcement Bureau: correcting an amendment contained in a final rule published in the Federal Register on March 29, 2012, and involves only that portion of the rule relating to the authority citation. (Effective 5/30/12)
  • Environmental Protection Agency: requiring persons who intend to manufacture (including import) or process elemental mercury for an activity that is designated as a significant new use by this final rule to notify EPA at least 90 days before commencing that activity. (Effective 6/29/12)
  • Energy Department: adopting amended energy conservation standards for residential dishwashers. (Effective 9/27/12, unless adverse comment is received by 9/17/12)

Supreme Court
The court has concluded scheduled oral arguments for the October 2011 term. However, the court is still meeting to finalize decisions on cases it heard during the preceeding term. The court's next session of oral arguments is scheduled to begin on Monday, October 1, 2012.

Yesterday, the court issued two decisions:

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Final Five: May 29, 2012

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Tonight's Crazy Story:
Boy Finds Decades-Old Photo of Dead Uncle Inside Camera at Yard Sale
A boy purchased an old Polaroid camera at a yard sale for $1, opened it up, and found a photo. When he showed his grandmother the photo, she was shocked to see a picture of her son, who died 23 years earlier in a car accident.

Topic One: Wisconsin's Impact
Walker's reforms are working: "The Wisconsin recall is a farce​—​a childish, union-sponsored tantrum that will cost the state’s taxpayers an estimated $18 million. Perhaps the greatest irony is that Democrats rarely discuss its ostensible cause: collective bargaining. Tom Barrett, the mayor of Milwaukee who is seeking to replace Walker, did not use the phrase in the speech he gave celebrating his victory in the Democratic primary earlier this month. Graeme Zielinski, spokesman for the Wisconsin Democratic party, told Mother Jones: “Collective bargaining is not moving people.” A recent poll of Wisconsin Democrats found that just 12 percent of those surveyed said “restoring collective bargaining rights of public employees” was the most important reason to remove Walker, well behind three other choices. There’s a reason the governor’s reforms have gone from being the center of the anti-Walker movement to a talking point to be avoided. They’ve worked. Walker took office with a projected deficit of $3.6 billion, and in two years he’s erased it. The Wisconsin Department of Revenue projected last month that the state will have a budget surplus of $154 million by the summer of 2013."

It is starting to look as if the Democrats are giving up on the Wisconsin recall effort: "How can you tell when one party thinks it will lose an election? As the Los Angeles Times writes, when it begins to argue that the election in question doesn’t really matter. Earlier today on C-SPAN’s Newsmakers, DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz defended the national party’s involvement in Wisconsin, pointing to a contribution of $250,000 and an e-mail appeal. But in almost the same breath, Wasserman Schultz tried to minimize the importance of the recall election entirely. ... Looks to me like a lot of silver-lining mining in the dark clouds that have gathered over Wisconsin for Democrats in this recall. If the combined might of the unions and Democrats can’t oust Scott Walker after more than a year of organizing for the effort, what does that have to say about the “dry run” that Wasserman Schultz highlights here?"

Are the unions moving on to another state? "While media attention is understandably focused on the recall effort aimed against Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin, free market advocates should not lose sight of the pressure tactics applied against Gov. Bobby Jindal in Louisiana. This coming weekend “RecallBobbyJindal” will be holding petition signature drives throughout the state, which are not likely to get very far. But they are indicative of what reform-minded governors can expect when they secure policy changes that elevate taxpayer interests above union perks."

Time for a Laugh:
"This week a solar-powered plane attempted to fly more than 1,500 miles. It was going great until the plane encountered one technical problem — night."
-Jimmy Fallon

Topic Two: The Weight of Student Debt
Robert Samuelson says the "college for all" idea needs to go: "The college-for-all crusade has outlived its usefulness. Time to ditch it. Like the crusade to make all Americans homeowners, it's now doing more harm than good. It looms as the largest mistake in educational policy since World War II, even though higher education's expansion also ranks as one of America's great postwar triumphs. Consider. In 1940, fewer than 5 percent of Americans had a college degree. Going to college was "a privilege reserved for the brightest or the most affluent" high-school graduates, wrote Diane Ravitch in her history of U.S. education, "The Troubled Crusade." No more. At last count, roughly 40 percent of Americans had some sort of college degree: about 30 percent a bachelor's degree from a four-year institution; the rest associate degrees from community colleges."

Is a college education actually worth the debt? "For students, piece of advice No. 1 is: Don’t go into debt. When I went to law school, back in the ’80s, I turned down free rides at a couple of excellent schools to go to Yale Law School, even though it meant taking on a lot of student-loan debt. I’m not sure I’d advise anyone to do the same thing today, even to go to Yale Law, the undisputed king of the law-school rankings — and I’m positive I wouldn’t make a similar tradeoff for many other places, even Harvard Law. Debt is what gets people into trouble in bubbles: They borrow heavily because they think the value of what they’re buying, whether it’s a house or a tulip, will go up. When it stops going up, they’re sunk. Today, the value of an education isn’t going up, but the price is. That’s a bad combination. So don’t borrow heavily."

It probably is not when you are going into debt for these courses: "Sociology of Fame and Lady Gaga — University of South Carolina, Wordplay: A Wry Plod from Babel to Scrabble — Princeton, “Oh, Look, a Chicken!” Embracing Distraction as a Way of Knowing — Belmont University." (See the full 22 course list at the link!)

Debt Watch:
( As of Friday, May 25, 2012 )

Change: -$845,422,038
Your share as a citizen: $50,246.88
Share per household: $137,536.34
Debt since Obama inauguration: $5,084,723,897,293

Topic Three: Running on Empty
Obama still trying to reshape energy: "The true engine of economic growth will always be companies like Solyndra," President Obama declared two years ago this past weekend. That statement was already doubtful in May, 2010, when Obama visited the solar panel manufacturer's Fremont, Calif., headquarters between political fundraisers, to celebrate the $500 million it had received in taxpayer-funded stimulus cash. Today, with Solyndra's operations shuttered, its employees laid-off and its assets (including those paid for by taxpayers') divvied up among creditors in bankruptcy, Obama's statement from two years ago makes for a good laugh. Unfortunately, it isn't so funny for the operators of America's real economic engines -- the businesses out there that use energy and do not require government handouts for their day-to-day survival."

The "green" bubble is about to pop: "So the tech bubble burst a decade ago, and the housing bubble five years ago. The higher education bubble is swelling to the bursting point, but it is the green energy bubble that is bursting loudest at the moment, and as usual environmentalists are slow to see that they’re about to get run over by a revival of the hydrocarbon economy. Those old dinosaurs may have been big lumbering animals, but the nimble fossil fuels they threw off are crushing the so-called green “fuels of the future” beloved of fruit-juice drinkers and vegans everywhere."

Tweet of the Day:
@RBPundit: MSNBC is 1000X more biased to the left than Fox News is to the right. This is simply a fact. #TCOT #p2

Topic Four: Crushing the Middle Class
Five ways ObamaCare crushes the middle class: "President Obama has repeatedly claimed that he is “going to keep on fighting for what matters to middle class families.” Well, in this “fight,” the President seems to be his own worst enemy. His health care law does far more damage than good to the American middle class. Here are the five most prevalent and harmful burdens the middle class will be forced to bear under Obamacare:"
1) More taxes
2) Loss of existing coverage
3) Higher premiums
4) Rising health care costs
5) More government control of health care

(You can read explanations of each of the five points at the link above.)

Food for Thought - A Quote from our Founders
"To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of people always possess arms..."

-Richard Henry Lee

Topic Five: The Politics of Intimidation
Sunday night, Erick Erickson, editor of the conservative blog RedState, reported that two Sheriff deputies showed up at his door saying that there had been a report of an accidental shooting. Erickson wrote: "Last week we spent a lot of time writing about Brett Kimberlin and the incident involving blogger Patterico where someone spoofed his phone number and told 911 he had shot his wife. Tonight, my family was sitting around the kitchen table eating dinner when sheriffs deputies pulled up in the driveway. Someone called 911 from my address claiming there had been an accidental shooting. It wasn’t nearly the trauma that Patterico suffered, but I guess the Erickson household is on somebody’s radar. Luckily it was two sheriffs deputies who knew me and I had already, last week, advised the Sheriff’s Department to be on the look out for something like this."

Erickson followed up with another post this morning: "It was a prank, but not just any prank. This is a prank left-wing activists are increasingly deploying against those who dissent from their political views. When Barack Obama told his supporters in 2008 to bring guns to knife fights, some of his supporters took him more literally than I assume he intended. The stories of what is happening are not getting much traction outside of right-of-center blogs and the occasional opinion column at the Wall Street Journal, D.C. Examiner, and Washington Times."

"The Obama campaign set up a website listing major donors to a Super PAC supporting Mitt Romney. Naturally, individuals listed by the Obama campaign saw their lives turned upside down by investigators linked to Democratic opposition research firms. They, their families, their businesses, and their employees were harassed. Seemingly random people from random states started requesting old court case files involving the donors. It was intimidation."

"And now this. Brett Kimberlin has created several organizations that have gotten money from the Tides Foundation and other organizations. Kimberlin spent many years in prison, convicted of a series of bombings in Speedway, Indiana. Now, when conservatives start pointing out his past and his ties, they have been subject to swatting and other forms of bullying."

Tomorrow in History
May 30, 1958 - On Memorial Day, the remains of two unidentified servicemen, one from World War II and one from the Korean War, are buried at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Grab Bag - Interesting and Important Stories to Conclude Your Evening:
Consumer confidence hits five-month low

High gun-control city sees 40 shot, 10 killed this weekend

Internet regulation back on the UN's agenda

Social Security Disability headed for insolvency

What "Hope and Change" means the second time around

Arkansas opponent to Obama sues for delegates

49.1% of households receive government benefits

Don't use these words or Homeland Security might start watching you

Six-year-old is youngest ever in Scripps Spelling Bee

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D.C. Daily: May 29, 2012

Friday's Action:
The Senate met Friday in a pro forma session
Today's Schedule:
The Senate will meet today at 11:00 AM for a pro forma session. The Senate will return to conduct business on Monday, June 4.

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

Today's Schedule:
The House will meet today at 2:00 PM in a pro forma session. The House will return to conduct business on Wednesday, May 30.

Executive Agencies
Significant Proposed Rules:
  • Wage and Hour Division: withdrawing its proposed rule published on September 2, 2011, proposal to amend its child labor regulations which protect children from employment in particularly hazardous occupations.

Significant Final Rules:
  • Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services: making changes according to the general principles of the President's Executive Order 13563 released January 18, 2011, entitled “Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review.”
  • Health and Human Services Department: corrects technical and typographical errors that appeared in the final rule, interim final rule, published in the Federal Register on March 27, 2012, entitled “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; Establishment of Exchanges and Qualified Health Plans; Exchange Standards for Employers.”

Supreme Court
The court has concluded scheduled oral arguments for the October 2011 term. However, the court is still meeting to finalize decisions on cases it heard during the preceeding term. The court's next session of oral arguments is scheduled to begin on Monday, October 1, 2012.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Final Five - Memorial Day

Remembering Those Who Served:
As the majority of us enjoy a day off work and the unofficial start of the American summer, it is important that we not forget the true meaning of this day. Elise Cooper writes at American Thinker: "On Memorial Day, many Americans have a barbeque, spend the day in a department store looking for sales, or otherwise enjoy a day off work. What often does not happen is a reflection on the true meaning of the holiday. Memorial Day is intended to be a day of remembrance for those who have died serving this great nation during war. In December 2000, the National Day of Remembrance was founded to help re-educate and remind Americans of the true meaning and tradition of Memorial Day, by asking that at 3 pm local time, a moment of remembrance and respect be observed with a moment of silence."

There have been many more tributes to our brave soldiers written. Here are a few of the best ones I read today:

Memories of My Own on Memorial Day (Carol A. Taber, American Thinker)

America's Honor (Scott Johnson, PowerLine)

The Noble Sacrifice We Remember (Frank Santarpia, American Thinker)

Remembering Our Guardians At the Gate (Rep. Allen West, Human Events)

Lieutenant General John Kelly's address to Gold Star Families

Inhaling Fire in Afghanistan (Alana Goodman, Commentary Magazine)

Mark Levin's radio show tribute last Friday

Finally, I would like to conclude with Theodore O'Hara's poem "Bivouac of the Dead". According to the website of the Arlington National Cemetery, this poem was written in memory of the Kentucky troops killed in the Mexican War.

The muffled drum's sad roll has beat
The soldier's last tattoo;
No more on Life's parade shall meet
That brave and fallen few.
On fame's eternal camping ground
Their silent tents to spread,
And glory guards, with solemn round
The bivouac of the dead.

No rumor of the foe's advance
Now swells upon the wind;
Nor troubled thought at midnight haunts
Of loved ones left behind;
No vision of the morrow's strife
The warrior's dreams alarms;
No braying horn or screaming fife
At dawn shall call to arms.

Their shriveled swords are red with rust,
Their plumed heads are bowed,
Their haughty banner, trailed in dust,
Is now their martial shroud.
And plenteous funeral tears have washed
The red stains from each brow,
And the proud forms, by battle gashed
Are free from anguish now.
The neighing troop, the flashing blade,
The bugle's stirring blast,
The charge, the dreadful cannonade,
The din and shout, are past;
Nor war's wild note, nor glory's peal
Shall thrill with fierce delight
Those breasts that nevermore may feel
The rapture of the fight.

Like the fierce Northern hurricane
That sweeps the great plateau,
Flushed with triumph, yet to gain,
Come down the serried foe,
Who heard the thunder of the fray
Break o'er the field beneath,
Knew the watchword of the day
Was "Victory or death!"

Long had the doubtful conflict raged
O'er all that stricken plain,
For never fiercer fight had waged
The vengeful blood of Spain;
And still the storm of battle blew,
Still swelled the glory tide;
Not long, our stout old Chieftain knew,
Such odds his strength could bide.

Twas in that hour his stern command
Called to a martyr's grave
The flower of his beloved land,
The nation's flag to save.
By rivers of their father's gore
His first-born laurels grew,
And well he deemed the sons would pour
Their lives for glory too.

For many a mother's breath has swept
O'er Angostura's plain --
And long the pitying sky has wept
Above its moldered slain.
The raven's scream, or eagle's flight,
Or shepherd's pensive lay,
Alone awakes each sullen height
That frowned o'er that dread fray.

Sons of the Dark and Bloody Ground
Ye must not slumber there,
Where stranger steps and tongues resound
Along the heedless air.
Your own proud land's heroic soil
Shall be your fitter grave;
She claims from war his richest spoil --
The ashes of her brave.

Thus 'neath their parent turf they rest,
Far from the gory field,
Borne to a Spartan mother's breast
On many a bloody shield;
The sunshine of their native sky
Smiles sadly on them here,
And kindred eyes and hearts watch by
The heroes sepulcher.

Rest on embalmed and sainted dead!
Dear as the blood ye gave;
No impious footstep here shall tread
The herbage of your grave;
Nor shall your glory be forgot
While Fame her record keeps,
For honor points the hallowed spot
Where valor proudly sleeps.

Yon marble minstrel's voiceless stone
In deathless song shall tell,
When many a vanquished ago has flown,
The story how ye fell;
Nor wreck, nor change, nor winter's blight,
Nor time's remorseless doom,
Can dim one ray of glory's light
That gilds your deathless tomb.

Memorial Day

Today, our nation pauses to remember those who perished in the defense of our freedoms. Since 1775, almost 1.2 million Americans have given themselves as the ultimate sacrifice in order to keep our nation free, and many more have been unable to live what we would consider a "normal" life because of wounds received on the battlefield. Even those who return home unwounded have sacrificed years of their lives for the cause of freedom. Today, we salute all our veterans and their sacrifices for this nation. No matter what Chris Hayes or any other liberal-media journalist may say, you are heroes.

Our freedom has definitely come at a price. It has been paid for by almost 1.2 million Americans who have given their lives. It has been paid for by almost 1.5 million Americans who have been wounded in combat while defending this nation. And it has been paid for by over 43 million Americans who have--at the very least--given away years of their life in order to keep this nation free. Words cannot express the gratitude we have for these sacrifices, but today, we pause to thank our veterans for the sacrifices they have made as they defend our nation.