Colorado county considers school vouchers
The proposals on the table in Douglas County constitute a bold step toward outsourcing a segment of public education, and also raise questions about whether the district can afford to lose any public funds to private educators.
Already hit hard by state cutbacks, the local board has cut $90 million from the budget over three years, leaving some principals pleading for family donations to buy math workbooks and copy paper.
"This is novel and interesting—and bound to be controversial," said Chester E. Finn Jr., president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative, educational think tank in Washington, D.C.
Vouchers for private and parochial schools have been used in a handful of states to aid students who are poor, disabled or trapped in failing urban schools, but according to school-choice experts, they have never been tried in affluent suburban districts noted for high-performing public schools. . . .
Public schools would likely lose some funding for each student who chooses to opt out, with the money redirected to independent contractors organizing the alternative curriculum. . . . .
Obama defends TSA searches, though he admits that he doesn't know how invasive it is
More nuttiness from the TSA. Here is the story of a soldier returning home from Afghanistan.
So we’re in line, going through one at a time. One of our Soldiers had his Gerber multi-tool. TSA confiscated it. Kind of ridiculous, but it gets better. A few minutes later, a guy empties his pockets and has a pair of nail clippers. Nail clippers. TSA informs the Soldier that they’re going to confiscate his nail clippers. The conversation went something like this:
TSA Guy: You can’t take those on the plane.
Soldier: What? I’ve had them since we left country.
TSA Guy: You’re not suppose to have them.
TSA Guy: They can be used as a weapon.
Soldier: [touches butt stock of the rifle] But this actually is a weapon. And I’m allowed to take it on.
TSA Guy: Yeah but you can’t use it to take over the plane. You don’t have bullets.
Soldier: And I can take over the plane with nail clippers?
TSA Guy: [awkward silence]
Me: Dude, just give him your damn nail clippers so we can get the f**k out of here. I’ll buy you a new set.
Soldier: [hands nail clippers to TSA guy, makes it through security]
This might be a good time to remind everyone that approximately 233 people re-boarded that plane with assault rifles, pistols, and machine guns–but nothing that could have been used as a weapon.
"Democrats in disarray over expiring tax cuts"
"A lot of our guys, the progressives, don't want to extend these tax cuts for anyone," said a senior House Democratic aide. "They never liked them in the first place." . . .
"There is a reality here that while it might be best to continue the middle-class tax cuts and raise taxes on higher income people, the votes are not there to do that," said Senator Joe Lieberman, an independent who normally votes with the Democrats. . . .
The cost of food safety regulations
The Congressional Budget Office has calculated that this overreaching bill would cost $1.4 billion between 2011 and 2015. To carry out these new rules, the federal government will hire over 17,000 new bureaucrats. Food producers will likely spend hundreds of millions of dollars annually complying with these unnecessary government regulations. This cost will be passed onto consumers in the form of higher food prices. Big agriculture is one of the largest proponents of the bill since it will likely destroy their competitors who cannot afford the high cost of these regulations. . . .
New Fox News piece: GM's Bailout Is a Financial Disaster
Only the government would consider it a success to buy stock at $43.84 a share and sell it at $33. -- But President Obama and those who supported his bailout of General Motors and Chrysler are claiming just that today.
First, the alternative to the government bailout wasn't to "give up" as Obama claimed on Thursday at his press conference. Bankruptcy didn't mean that all jobs were going to be lost. It didn't mean that all the factories producing cars would be closed.
Yet, the president made that claim in his announcement again today and he continually misstates what would have happened in a normal bankruptcy. Courts don't just close down bankrupt companies. In fact, that rarely occurs. Any part of a company that can continue operating profitably continues to do so.
Some are pointing out that just a year and a half ago GM stock was trading at just $1 a share and claim that today's closing price of $34.19 is proof of the bailout's success. It simply doesn't account for the over $50 billion in direct bailout funds and the tens of billions of dollars in other breaks President Obama gave the company and its unions.
It also ignores . . . .
Note: I should have itemized more of these other tens of billions of dollars in gifts to GM. For example, GM won't have to pay $45.4 billion in taxes on future profits.
The $45.4 billion in future tax savings consist of $18.9 billion in carry-forwards based on past losses, according to GM's pre-IPO public disclosure. The other tax savings are related to costs such as pensions and other post-retirement benefits, and property, plants and equipment. . . .
Another take on how much the remaining government stock would have to sell for.
At $30 a share for the IPO, the stock would have to rise 67% to about $50 for the U.S. government to break even on the $50 billion it spent to bailout the auto maker.
Typically, when underwriters price an IPO, they are hoping it will rise 15% to 20% on its first day of trading, indicating that at an offering price of $30, the stock could rise to $34.50 to $36.
From the $35 level, the stock would have to rise another 41% for the Treasury to breakeven on paper. A $30 share price also would raise the profile of the IPO.
At that price, the offering would raise $14 billion — or $15.6 billion with the overallotment option — making it the sixth biggest IPO globally and second biggest in the U.S. on record, according to Thomson Reuters. . . .
Democrats changed House rules to prevent them from making a hard decision every party has had to make since the first party has lost control of House
When the rules of the House of Representatives forced the Democrats to confront a painful choice among their leaders, they did what Democrats are often inclined to do. They changed the rules.
Usually, such a stunt would matter only to the members affected by the change. But this one sends a dangerous signal at a crucial moment, when both parties are being tested on their willingness to respond to the lessons of the last election. This is a disquieting development. . . .
Instead of having four people in the formal leadership of the House, the Democrats should have three -- a minority leader, a deputy or whip, and the chairman of the Democratic caucus.
It has always worked this way whenever an election shifts control on the House between the parties. Someone on the losing side loses his leadership job. . . .
"Something is very wrong with Canadian campuses"
Something is very wrong with Canadian campuses these days. Left-wing students and outside agitators get away with shouting down speakers they disagree with, smashing windows to prevent lecturers they don’t want to hear, even chaining themselves to a stage and screaming “racist, racist, racist” at the University of Waterloo to prevent Christie Blatchford from talking about her new book. Student unions routinely decertify pro-life clubs, and administrators frequently cater to the demands of a handful of vocal socialist anarchists.
But when right-of-centre student groups attempt to protest the censorship they face, or demonstrate against leftist speakers and those they believe are hateful, they are met with threats of lawsuits or expulsion by administrators or student unions.
The most recent example of this double-standard came Monday, when the Carleton University Student Association (CUSA) banned a pro-life club from operating on campus or even using campus meeting rooms. The CUSA said Carleton Lifeline could regain its official status — if it renounced pro-life beliefs.
We doubt CUSA would ask campus Marxists to renounce socialism, or require Muslim groups to convert to Judaism, yet they are demanding the equivalent backflip from pro-lifers.
In just the past five years, students or administrators at Lakehead University, the University of British Columbia-Okanagan, the University of Calgary, Newfoundland’s Memorial University and Toronto’s York University have either severely restricted or banned pro-life activities. Typically, they have made the bogus claim that calling for an end to abortion amounts to prejudice against women and therefore can be banned as hate speech.
Meanwhile, administrators at York University have threatened to sue Jewish groups that announced plans to protest an on-campus address by British MP George Galloway, a high-profile apologist for terror groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah. The university maintained the campus was private property and insisted it would take action against any member of the public who protested Mr. Galloway’s speech. It even urged protesters not to use public spaces near campus . . . .
This is the same York University, of course, that annually witnesses an anti-Semitic hatefest known as Israel Apartheid week, and which has been accused in the past of providing insufficient protection of its Jewish students from threats and intimidation by supporters of the Palestinian cause.
The reason for all this is ideological bias: Definitions of free speech, equality and political rights all have been reworked to show favouritism to those espousing leftist ideology. . . .
Remember the SEIU's violence in support of Obamacare? Well, look what union got an exemption from Obamacare regulations
More recently, additional powerful evidence has emerged that the health care law will be run by and for the benefit of a few elite. It has been learned over the last few days that HHS has given out 111 exemptions to the requirements of the new health care law. Where in the legislation does it allow for such exemptions? Where does the law specify a fair process and consistent criteria for obtaining such an exemption? The answer is, nowhere. A large, influential corporation came to the Administration demanding special treatment, and they got it. After that, the race to DC was on. No one will be surprised to the stalwart Obama supporter SEIU among the select.
The list of beneficiaries is a mix of corporations and labor unions who have somehow wrangled special attention in Washington — in effect allowing just 111 lucky organizations out of 15-20 million US business to be allowed lower cost labor than their peers. Does your restaurant compete with McDonald’s or Ruby Tuesdays? Sorry, but through their political muscle, your competitors have received special exemptions from costly regulation, and you likely will not. . . . .
$319 billion in jobless benefits over last three years
Unemployed Americans have collected $319 billion in jobless benefits over the past three years due to the federal government's unprecedented response to the Great Recession, according to a CNNMoney analysis of federal records.
The cost of such benefits will be central to the heated debate in Congress in coming weeks over whether to extend this safety net for the fifth time this year. Lawmakers must act by Nov. 30 or two million people will start losing extended benefits next month.
The federal government has already footed $109 billion of the bill, and lawmakers are super-sensitive to adding further to the deficit. But advocates are turning up the pressure to extend the deadline to file for federal benefits. . . .
UPDATE: The House proposal that Democrats limited to only one option was defeated.
House Republicans Thursday torpedoed a bill to extend benefits for the long-term unemployed, pressing their demand that the $12 billion cost of continuing the program be offset rather than adding to the deficit. . . .
In a defeat for Democrats trying to keep the program from expiring Nov. 30, the House rejected a bill to continue the program for three more months.
Lawmakers in both parties expect a compromise eventually to be reached—but not until December, after the current program expires. Without an extension, 800,000 unemployed workers will lose their benefits by Nov. 30 and two million by the end of December. A similar lapse in benefits occurred last summer as Congress struggled to break another impasse. . . .
Agreement also eluded the two parties on a plan for extended unemployment benefits. The program provides aid for up to 99 weeks to many workers who are laid off, by adding to the maximum of 26 weeks of benefits offered through most state programs.
Members of both parties say they want to extend the benefits, and a majority backed the legislation in the 258-154 vote Thursday, which included 143 Republicans voting against it and 21 in favor. The bill failed after Democratic leaders had brought it to the floor under fast-track procedures that require a two-thirds majority for passage. . . . .
A very rough discussion on the costs and benefits from LEDs
Democrats micromanaging people's lives: Banning alcoholic caffeinated drinks
The Food and Drug Administration issued warning letters Wednesday to four manufacturers of alcoholic energy drinks often consumed by college students, saying the caffeine added to their beverages is an "unsafe food additive."
The combination of caffeine and alcohol in the drinks creates a public health concern and can lead to "a state of wide-awake drunk," said FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg. Evidence has shown their consumption has led to alcohol poisoning, car accidents and assaults, she said.
The government could eventually seize the products if the companies continue to make and market them. The companies have 15 days to respond to the letters and either explain how they will take their products off the market or defend their drinks as safe.
Several college students have been hospitalized in recent months after consuming the drinks. The FDA said experts have raised concerns that the caffeine in the drinks can mask a person's feeling of intoxication, leading to risky behavior. Many of those who consume the drinks are underage drinkers. . . .
White House Drug Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske said Wednesday that the FDA's quick action to decrease consumption of the drinks is critical.
"These products are designed, branded, and promoted to encourage binge drinking," he said. . . .
Schumer Calls for Ban on Alcoholic Energy Drinks
The FDA has fortunately also moved to protect us from having too much salt in our diet.
The FDA announced it will work with food manufacturers to analyze the foods they make. Then, figure out how to prepare them using less sodium. . . .
Palin versus Romney on favorability ratings
New Hampshire voters, who vote in the first presidential primary, answered questions about two possible GOP candidates. Forty percent of voters in the Senate exit poll had a favorable opinion of Sarah Palin, while 56 percent had an unfavorable one. Those responses for Mitt Romney were 47 and 46 percent, respectively. In Iowa, an early caucus state, 41 percent in the Senate exit poll had a favorable opinion of Palin, and 54 percent an unfavorable one. For Romney, those responses were 37 and 45 percent, respectively.
Democrats like what the TSA is doing?
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|TSA Full-Body Scanners - Jeffrey Goldberg|
Democrats though seem down right giddy about the screening being implemented.
Mr. Pistole, you're doing a great job," Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat and chairman of the Senate committee overseeing air travel, told TSA chief John Pistole, a former FBI agent who's had the job since July. For emphasis, Rockefeller added a few minutes later: "I think you're doing a terrific job."
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, admitted right away that "I have been a fan of the advanced imaging technology." American air travelers, she said, "have to understand that this is being done for their best interests and their safety." . . .
Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, suggested that the public outcry was a problem of education: if Americans learned more about the TSA's new procedures, they wouldn't object to the new searches.
The federal government needs to "make sure they understand the risks that we're trying to address," McCaskill said. "And then I think we can--the majority of Americans I think--I hope will become supportive of the measures that TSA is trying to do to keep us safe."
That echoes what Sen. Joe Lieberman, the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, said yesterday afternoon. As CNET previously reported he said the TSA is "doing the right thing," and that the scans and more invasive pat-downs are "necessary for the security--homeland security--of the American people." (Lieberman is an independent senator from Connecticut who caucuses with Democrats.) . . .
No one is presumably defending cases such as this involving an Amarillo woman:
The suit, filed earlier this year in Amarillo's U.S. District Court, alleges the woman was singled out for "extended search procedures" while preparing to board an aircraft destined for Amarillo on May 29, 2008.
The Amarillo Globe-News has declined to identify the woman for privacy reasons.
"As the TSA agent was frisking plaintiff, the agent pulled the plaintiff's blouse completely down, exposing plaintiffs' breasts to everyone in the area," the lawsuit said. "As would be expected, plaintiff was extremely embarrassed and humiliated."
The suit said the woman filed an administrative claim against the TSA, but the agency never responded, sparking the lawsuit.
The suit also claims that other TSA employees continued to joke and laugh about the incident for an extended period of time. The woman was distraught over the incident and left the screening area so an acquaintance could console her, the suit said.
When the woman re-entered the boarding area, employees once again began joking about the matter, the suit said.
"One male TSA employee expressed to the plaintiff that he wished he would have been there when she came through the first time and that 'he would just have to watch the video,'" the suit said.
The lawsuit claims, among other allegations, that federal employees were negligent and that employees intentionally caused the woman severe emotional distress by joking about the incident after the woman re-entered the airport screening area. . . .
Greece admits that it won't make loan payments as promised
Greece acknowledged Monday it would breach conditions for a new instalment of a 110-billion-euro bailout as the IMF and European Union began an audit of the country's austerity measures.
Greece's Socialist government faced a week of tough talks with its benefactors and although bolstered by sweeping successes in local elections on Sunday, the outlook is still overshadowed by gloom on the economic front.
The Eurostat statistics agency issued its final revision of Greece's accounts for the past four years, triggering a new forecast by Athens that its public deficit in 2010 would reach 9.4 percent of output, well above the 8.1-percent target.
Greek bond yields, a measure of investor confidence in the country's finances, rose on Monday, with the rate on 10-year paper up to 11.280 percent from 11.184 percent on Friday.
Having flirted with insolvency until it was rescued by the International Monetary Fund and EU in May, Greece on Monday sought to reassure its partners that despite the latest figures, it remained on course. . . .
"U.S. effort to slow flow of guns into Mexico failing"
An inspector general's review finds that a once-praised federal program is too narrowly focused, fails to share information with law enforcement agencies and does not adequately trace U.S. guns in Mexico. . . .
much-touted federal effort to keep U.S. firearms out of the Mexican drug wars is unwieldy, mismanaged and fraught with "significant weaknesses" that could doom gun smuggling enforcement on the border to failure, an internal Justice Department review concluded Tuesday.
Agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives focus only on small gun sales and do not share information with law enforcement officials on both sides of the border, the review said. Even the cornerstone effort of tracing U.S. guns in Mexico too often comes up short because of missing data and the lack of U.S. training for Mexican police, it found.
The investigation by Inspector General Glenn A. Fine is the first to find systemic problems in a once highly praised project, and it mirrors concerns of many on the border that weapons from the U.S. are helping the violence spiral out of control. . . .
Obama administration investigating technology that will stop the use of cell phones in cars
Secretary Ray LaHood said using a cell phone while driving is so dangerous that devices may soon be installed in cars to forcibly stop drivers — and potentially anyone else in the vehicle — from using them.
“There’s a lot of technology out there now that can disable phones and we’re looking at that,” said LaHood on MSNBC. LaHood said the cellphone scramblers were one way, and also stressed the importance of “personal responsibility.”
The hosts of Morning Joe pushed the secretary about the possibility of requiring scrambling technology installed in vehicles.
“I think it will be done,” said LaHood. “I think the technology is there and I think you’re going to see the technology become adaptable in automobiles to disable these cell phones. We need to do a lot more if were going to save lives.”
LaHood’s appearance coincided with the transportation department’s launch of the “Faces of Distracted Driving,” an online campaign aimed at scaring drivers safe. The awareness initiative features videos of people who have been injured by distracted drivers. . . . .
Controversial Medicare administrator Donald Berwick finally gets a few questions from Senate
He was testifying about Obamacare 'Rule,' 347 Pages, 118,072 Words.
Providing a strong indication of how personal, accessible, understandable, user-friendly, customer-service-oriented, and not at all posthuman your health care would be under Obamacare, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has just released a 347-page, 118,072-word "rule" to implement parts of Obamacare affecting Medicare Advantage and the Medicare prescription drug benefit program. In comparison, the entire United States Constitution, including all 27 amendments, contains 7,640 words. So the "rule" is more than 15 times as long as the Constitution.
This "rule" (that's what they call it) was signed by HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius and by Medicare administrator Donald Berwick, who -- as the Medical News reports -- "will testify before a congressional committee [today] for the first time since President Barack Obama avoided the Senate confirmation process" in appointing him to the post. . . .
Jim Pinkerton has a useful discussion here of Berwick's testimony.
New Fox News piece: We Don't Need More Inflation, We Need to Put An End to Obama's Job Killing Policies
The current inflation rate of 2 percent is "too low." That is at least if you believe Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. With the economy growing "too slowly to bring down unemployment," Mr. Bernanke's solution is to increase inflation.
The Federal Reserve last week started printing up $600 billion to buy U.S. Treasury Bonds and another almost $300 billion to buy mortgages. The printing more dollars will reduce the value of the dollar just as doubling the number of apples will reduce the price of apples.
A falling value of the dollar is what is called “inflation.” The problem is that this "stimulus" will only temporarily reduce unemployment and get the economy growing by tricking people into making mistakes that they will later regret, mistakes that will cost the country much more in the long run than will be gained by these temporary improvements. With unemployment stuck at least at 9.5 percent for a record 15 months, the desire "to do something" is understandable, but the only people who this policy will help are the politicians currently in office.
You would think that all economists would have learned the lessons of the 1960s and 1970s: higher inflation rates only temporarily reduce unemployment. . . . .
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is attacking Governor Palin for agreeing with the points that I made in this piece. China's reasons for making the same argument is undoubtedly quite different from Palin's for the reason that I describe in the piece, but that doesn't make the argument any less true.
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner on Tuesday called it "a remarkable thing" that former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was voicing the same criticism of U.S. monetary policy as China was. . . .
The Fed also responds:
Charles Evans, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and a strong supporter of the Fed's easing policy, noted in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that the weak economy and low inflation warranted the Fed's action and that more such purchases might be needed in months ahead if the economic outlook doesn't turn. "I would continue to want to apply accommodative monetary policy until I had some confidence that that situation was changing," Mr. Evans said, noting that $600 billion is a "good place to start" the easing program.
Eric Rosengren, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and another strong supporter of the easy-money policy, echoed those comments: "As long as the economic outlook doesn't improve dramatically I would expect that we will purchase the entire amount," he said, adding, "if the economy were to weaken and we were to get further disinflation and a higher unemployment rate, then we would have to reflect on whether we should take additional action." Disinflation is a decline in inflation.
Their comments came after top Fed officials, including Vice Chairwoman Janet Yellen and New York Fed President Bill Dudley, in earlier interviews with The Wall Street Journal, New York Times and CNBC, defended the Fed's policy as a needed step for the U.S. economy.
After months of fractious internal debate, the Fed is now in a highly uncomfortable spot. Several officials, including Fed governor Kevin Warsh, Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker and Kansas City Fed President Thomas Hoenig, have in recent days expressed wariness about the program and a willingness to cut it short if there are signsthat inflation is picking up too much. . . .
Evans and Rosengren were appointed during the last two years of the Bush administration. Yellen and Dudley are strong Democrats.
Roger Ailes on Obama
President Obama “has not been very successful” and has a “different belief system” than most people in the country, the chairman of Fox News, Roger Ailes, tells the Daily Beast in an interview.
“He just got kicked from Mumbai to South Korea, and he came home and attacked Republicans for it,” Ailes said. “He had to be told by the French and the Germans that his socialism was too far left for them to deal with.”
Ailes claimed in the interview that Fox News hasn’t singled out Obama, and that it challenges presidents. But he adds of the White House’s current occupant, “He just has a different belief system than most Americans.”
“He’s had 3,000 press secretaries since he got into office,” Ailes said, but now, “he’s making it harder for the press to make him look good. ... When the press falls in love, they fall in love hard. They’re like teenagers in love. It’s like the old Frankie Lymon song, ‘Why Do Fools Fall in Love?’ ”
Finally, Ailes offered a critique of Obama’s formal remarks: “I literally never heard an Obama speech that didn’t blame Bush.” . . .
People moving out of high-tax, high-regulation states to low-tax, low-regulation states
Migration from high-tax states to states with lower taxes and less government spending will dramatically alter the composition of future Congresses, according to a study by Americans for Tax Reform
Eight states are projected to gain at least one congressional seat under reapportionment following the 2010 Census: Texas (four seats), Florida (two seats), Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington (one seat each). Their average top state personal income tax rate: 2.8 percent.
By contrast, New York and Ohio are likely to lose two seats each, while Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania will be down one apiece. The average top state personal income tax rate in these loser states: 6.05 percent.
The state and local tax burden is nearly a third lower in states with growing populations, ATR found. As a result, per capita government spending is also lower: $4,008 for states gaining congressional seats, $5,117 for states losing them.
And, as ATR notes, “in eight of ten losers, workers can be forced to join a union as a condition of employment. In 7 of the 8 gainers, workers are given a choice whether to join or contribute financially to a union.” . . .
How interest rates rise with the probability of default
Obama and Democrats pushing too much in Lame Duck
President Obama said on Sunday that he has told Congress that passing the new START treaty during the lame duck session is a “top priority.”
“I reiterated my commitment to get the start treaty done during the lame duck session,” the president said after a meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. “And I’ve communicated to Congress it is a top priority.” . . . .
Here he is again.
President Obama made another plea for the ratification of the arms deal with Russia on Friday, arguing that a failure to approve START “would put at risk the substantial progress that has been made” on national security.
“Nobody is more aware of a need for a strong, secure and democratic Europe than our eastern and central European allies,” Obama told reporters in Lisbon.
He added, "Just as this is a national security priority for the United States, the message that I’ve received since I’ve arrived from my fellow leaders here at NATO could not be clearer: New START will strengthen our alliance, and it will strengthen European security." . . .
He also is promising to push amnesty for illegal aliens. Pelosi and Reid have also made promises on amnesty also.
President Obama met privately in the Oval Office Tuesday with leaders of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to discuss immigration reform, and aides say his hope that Congress will approve the DREAM Act during the lame duck session. . . .
Pelosi has also made other promises:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reassured representatives of several LGBT organizations this week that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and a measure to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) will get votes this year.
Pelosi made her comments in an hour-long telephone conference call with representatives of six LGBT groups on Monday. . . .
She renewed her promise to homosexual groups on passing Enda (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) here.
Senator Harry Reid will also be pushing for a vote on DADT.
Passing extensions to unemployment benefits is moving forward and it is quite controversial in that Republicans will support it only if the spending is paid for. Keeping middle class taxes from going up is also a big priority. And of course, congress hasn't passed any of the spending bills for the budget this year. The lame duck session only lasts for a month. I think that this session could be a real mess for the Democrats.
So how far out of whack is your state's budget?
The article on this table is here.
From Sacramento to Austin to Albany, the day of fiscal reckoning is here. At one point this spring, financial markets were demanding more to insure investors against defaults by Illinois, New Jersey, New York and Michigan than to insure the debt of Ireland and Portugal, the flailing economies of Europe.
Federal aid cushioned states from some of the drop in revenues during the recession, but that's running out. With all statehouses unable to borrow as readily as Washington and nearly all constitutionally required to balance their budgets, they can't ignore gaps between revenue and spending.
On Monday, Pennsylvania's house of representatives passed a bill, already approved by the state senate, that raises the retirement age for new state workers and gives workers a choice between lower pension benefits and higher contributions. . . .
Gov. Haley Barbour supports cutting funds for public broadcasting
Current.org reports that Barbour’s $5.5 billion 2012 spending proposal for Mississippi slashes MPB’s state aid by $1.5 million to $6 million. The proposal also came with a letter that called for a total end to spending in the long run."Mississippi taxpayers should not continue subsidizing a television and radio network, so I recommend a sharp reduction in the appropriation for Mississippi Public Broadcasting," he writes. "This decrease should begin a draw down in funding for MPB that will ultimately result in its operating entirely on private donations or revenues, except for educational programming used by and prepared by [the Mississippi Department of Education.]"
Would you pay about $22,000 more for an electric version of the same car?
Fox News has this title right: "Forget the Volt, Chevy Cruze to Get 42 MPG"
GM has managed to deliver on its promise of segment-leading fuel economy for its new 2011 Chevrolet Cruze Eco model, with the EPA announcing this week that the fuel efficient sedan will return 28 mpg in the city and up to 42 mpg on the highway when equipped with a manual transmission.
The numbers are so good that the Cruze Eco’s highway fuel economy beats non-hybrid segment competitors--including 23 percent greater highway fuel economy than the Honda Civic--as well as the Ford Fiesta subcompact and many hybrid models. In fact, it’s better than Ford Fusion Hybrid, Nissan Altima Hybrid and Toyota Camry Hybrid. . . .
An extensive review of the Volt is available here.
Top RNC aide resigns, claiming that Steele has done great damage to Republican Party
“In the last two non-presidential cycles of 2002 and 2006, the RNC raised $284 million and $243 million respectively. “So far this cycle, the RNC has reported raising just $170 million. Less than $18 million (10.53%) of that total came from contributions of $1,000 or more, collected from a mere 5,379 donors. This is a fraction of either the previous cycles.” . . .
Sarah Palin's advice to the new Freshman class of Congressmen
. . . . The task before you is daunting because so much damage has been done in the last two years, but I believe you have the chance to achieve great things.
Republicans campaigned on a promise to rein in out-of-control government spending and to repeal and replace the massive, burdensome, and unwanted health care law President Obama and the Democrat Congress passed earlier this year in defiance of the will of the majority of the American people. These are promises that you must keep. Obamacare is a job-killer, a regulatory nightmare, and an enormous unfunded mandate. The American people don’t want it and we can’t afford it. We ask, with all due respect, that you remember your job will be to work to replace this legislation with real reform that relies on free market principles and patient-centered policies. The first step is, of course, to defund Obamacare.
You’ve also got to be deadly serious about cutting the deficit. . . . .
Kid forbidden from flying American Flag on back of bike because of "racial" tensions at Middle School
This all apparently came to a head during the week that Veteran's Day was celebrated.
The school later reversed its decision. The problem here is how many times do public schools do smaller things that never get the public attention?
A California school has done a U-turn after it forced a student to remove an American flag attached to his bike, saying the Stars and Stripes could spur racial tensions on campus.
Cody Alicea,13, had been flying the flag on the back of his bicycle for almost two months to show support for veterans like his grandfather, Robert Alicea.
But just in time for Veterans Day, school officials at Denair Middle School told Cody he would no longer be allowed to display the flag, citing complaints from other students.
Now, after a public outcry, the school has decided that the grand old flag can come back. . . .
This is a great way to end all these trouble.
The new TSA pat down
When are we going to use profiling? What is next full body cavity searches? Why don't the Israelis do this?
Here is an article and a video of the TSA going after a 3 year old girl. The video has been removed from the SF Chronicle website.
You might think a 3-year-old would whiz through security. A child is non-threatening, wears slip-on shoes, and carries little luggage.
You might think a 3-year-old would whiz through security. A child is non-threatening, wears slip-on shoes, and carries little luggage.
Read more: Not the case for Mandy Simon who was passing through security with her dad at the airport in Chattanooga, Tenn.
A TSA employee gave Mandy the pat down and she started screaming and kicking her legs. Her dad, Steve, happens to be a TV reporter and caught 17 seconds of the ordeal on his cell phone (watch below).
Why was Mandy searched in the first place? She started crying when she was asked to put her teddy bear through the X-ray machine. This made it difficult for her to walk calmly through the metal detector and she set the machine off twice, which meant she "must be hand-searched. . . .
Now the TSA is going after the guy who recorded his search. Apparently they have opened an investigation of him. Despite rereading the article, I am not sure what the fine is for exactly. Is it just because of the fact that he didn't go through with the search? They seem to say that you will be denied being able to fly if you refuse the search. Is the fine just for refusing to have a search done?
The Transportation Security Administration has opened an investigation targeting John Tyner, the Oceanside man who left Lindbergh Field under duress on Saturday morning after refusing to undertake a full body scan.
Tyner recorded the half-hour long encounter on his cell phone and later posted it to his personal blog, along with an extensive account of the incident. The blog went viral, attracting hundreds of thousands of readers and thousands of comments.
Michael J. Aguilar, chief of the TSA office in San Diego, called a news conference at the airport Monday afternoon to announce the probe. He said the investigation could lead to prosecution and civil penalties of up to $11,000.
TSA agents had told Tyner on Saturday that he could be fined up to $10,000.
“That’s the old fine,” Aguilar said. “It has been increased.”
Tyner’s stand tapped into an undercurrent of resentment toward the TSA and how security checks are conducted at the nation’s airports. Those commenting about Tyner’s experience at SignOnSanDiego.com told their own stories of personal humiliations and invasive body searches.
TSA chief John Pistole was grilled about Tyner’s case Monday on CNN.
“The bottom line is, if somebody doesn’t go through proper security screening, they’re not going to go on the flight,” Pistole said. . . .
Do airport body-scans have radiation risk?
Some scientists and two major airline pilots unions contend not enough is known about the effects of the small doses of X-ray radiation emitted by one of the two types of airport scanning machines.
The Transportation Security Administration's advanced imaging technology machines use two separate means of creating images of passengers -- backscatter X-ray technology and millimeter-wave technology.
At the end of October, 189 backscatter units and 152 millimeter-wave machines were in use in more than 65 airports. The total number of imaging machines is expected to near 1,000 by the end of 2011, according to the TSA. . . .
"If you think of the entire population of, shall we say a billion people per year going through these scanners, it's very likely that some number of those will develop cancer from the radiation from these scanners," Brenner [director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University and a professor of radiation biophysics] said.
Skin cancer would likely be the primary concern, he said. Each time the same person receives a backscatter scan, the small risk associated with the low dose of radiation is multiplied by the number of exposures.
Brenner said the risk to an individual is "very small indeed" for a single scan. He said he is most concerned about frequent fliers, pilots and young people, because children are more sensitive to radiation.. . . .
See also this:
Some US scientists warned Friday that the full-body, graphic-image X-ray scanners now being used to screen passengers and airline crews at airports around the country may be unsafe.
They say the risk is minimal, but statistically someone is going to get skin cancer from these X-rays," Dr Michael Love, who runs an X-ray lab at the department of biophysics and biophysical chemistry at Johns Hopkins University school of medicine, told AFP.
"No exposure to X-ray is considered beneficial. We know X-rays are hazardous but we have a situation at the airports where people are so eager to fly that they will risk their lives in this manner," he said.
The possible health dangers posed by the scanners add to passengers' and airline crews' concerns about the devices, which have been dubbed "naked" scanners because of the graphic image they give of a person's body, genitalia and all. . . .
And also this discussion.
Stepped-up security screening at airports in the wake of foiled terrorism plots has provoked an outcry from airline pilots and travelers, including parents of children who say they are too intrusive.
With the busiest holiday travel season nearing, fliers face long security lines and new rigorous patdown checks begun in recent weeks aimed at discovering hidden explosives. As a result, some travelers are questioning whether to fly at all. . . .
Soros says that China's Communist government is better than ours
83 percent of Americans support death penalty
Across the country, 83 per cent of respondents support punishing homicide with the death penalty, while 13 per cent are opposed. A majority of Americans would also rely on capital punishment to punish rape (62%) and kidnapping (51%), but not armed robbery (40%).
Respondents are evenly split on the overall effect of the death penalty. While 39 per cent of Americans think capital punishment acts as a deterrent, 35 per cent disagree. Republicans (52%) are more likely to believe that the death penalty deters potential criminals than Independents (40%) and Democrats (34%). . . .
Debate over whether the government should fund local news
Will local government accountability increase if local government control the funding of local news? What will happen if the local news were to report information critical of that local government? Look to see which countries fund news around the world here. If you want to see some evidence that media is already somewhat biased towards those in power, see here. Giving funding authority to local government would only increase that bias.
Obama vacillates on cutting deficit
“Already, we are on track to meet our goal of cutting our deficit in half by 2013, and I am absolutely committed to making the tough choices necessary to get us the rest of the way there and bring down our deficit in the long run,” Obama said in a speech at the summit of Asian Pacific leaders. “But we’re not cutting back on the investments that are essential to America’s long-term economic growth: education, clean energy, research and infrastructure. We will make sacrifices, but everyone here should know that as long as I’m president, we are not going to sacrifice America’s future or our leadership in the world.” . . . .
Walmart prices up at 3.6 percent annual rate
A new pricing survey of products sold at the world’s largest retailer. ] showed a 0.6 percent price increase in just the last two months, according to MKM Partners. At that rate, prices would be close to four percent higher a year from now, double the Fed’s mandate. .
The “inaugural price survey shows a small, but meaningful increase on an 86-item grocery basket,” said Patrick McKeever, MKM Partners analyst, in a note. Most of the items McKeever chose to track were every day items like food and detergent and made by national brands. . .
Claim that leading Dem Senators say that Obama doesn't know what he is doing
Alaska: Joe Miller in the lead with absentee ballots still to count?
Murkowski’s campaign touted they had a grand total of 85,756 votes – including challenged but counted votes – and were only 1,761 votes behind Republican Joe Miller with thousands of absentee and write-in ballots yet to be opened and counted.
“The ballots that could still come in from overseas will number in the hundreds and not in the thousands. So, if Joe Miller were to close the gap, it would have to come tomorrow,” said Murkowski campaign manager Kevin Sweeney. “After tomorrow’s absentee count, we should have close to a final picture on this election.”
With 87,517 votes in the bank, Miller’s campaign pointed out that he is leading even if all of the contested ballots are added to Murkowski’s totals. Miller campaign spokesman Randy DeSoto pointed out in a press release that already counted absentee ballots have skewed in their favor in the Senate race.
“If previous trends hold for the absentee ballot count, it is possible for Joe to gain as many as 1,000 votes against Lisa Murkowski tomorrow,” said DeSoto. . . .
Obama's "Freudian slips"
But Obama’s effort to overhaul his image is encumbered by conflicting impressions of who he is that have been engraved in voters’ minds by his own words.
During unguarded and even some staged — but inadvertently revealing — moments, Obama has allowed unintended glimpses into his thinking. At various times, his offhand comments have led critics, and many voters, to view him as an ardent leftist or an elitist or — most recently — a partisan Democrat.
These Freudian slips, uncovering the man beneath the spin and the speeches, are embedded in Americans’ subconscious, if you will, because they seem to come directly from the president’s inner self. Obama can change his policies, but he cannot easily erase these perceptions. And because of his cool opaqueness — noted even by his own staff — and his relatively brief track record on the national stage, voters have little else to go on. . . .
His surprising self-revelations began during the presidential campaign. They were harmful but did not create major problems.
First, there was his condescension toward blue-collar Midwestern voters. At a San Francisco fundraiser, he said, “They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” . . .
Evidence that Obamacare is a jobs killer, special favors on who gets special exemptions
Who gets the special exemptions?
Is President Obama's relationship with the press cooling slightly
YOKOHAMA, Japan – The scene after President Obama’s meeting with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard showed just how long of a trip his nine-day Asia excursion has been – for all involved.
A reporter thanked Obama at the end of he and Gillard's remarks. Obama, who scolded White House reporters on Friday for their coverage of his trip, was informed that it was a member of the Australian press who delivered the thanks. "I knew it must have been an Australian because my folks never say thank you," Obama replied
With that, the White House press pool, in unison, gave him some sing-songy gratitude. “Thank you, Mr. President...” they said, with a tinge of sarcasm.