November 2, 2010

TIB All-Stars Election Special — TONIGHT!

Filed under: General,News from Other Sites,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:54 am

E-Day2010wTIBAllStarsForget ABC-CBS-NBC-MSNBC-CNN-HLN-CNBC-PBS-NPR-Comedy Central.

TIB (Truth In Broadcasting) will be on tonight, covering the midterm elections. TIB is the place to be on E-Day Evening 2010.

(Okay, if you want to have Fox on with the volume off in close caption, I suppose we’ll allow that.)

The proprietors of the esteemed, universally acclaimed, and possibly longest-running political blog in Ohio (since August 2003), Weapons of Mass Discussion, namely Matt “People Know Him” Hurley and Mark “The Whole Damn Show,” along with yours truly, will be providing news, information, insight, and analysis as the night’s results unfold.

Matt’s special collection of dilithium crystals will activate the palatial studio’s power supply and fire up the microphones (update: and the brand-new, state-of-the-art phone system!) at 6 PM ET.

The web page for the broadcast is here. Feel free to participate in the live blog when the time comes.

Do we dare dream of triple-digit GOP gains and a Senate majority on “E-Day 2010″? Only if an unprecedented wave of sensible conservatives gets out and votes is it even possible.

But if-if-if that happens, based on the latest at RCP, it is possible.

In the House, RCP is showing a “firm” pickup of 46 (224 vs. the current 178). There are 42 toss-ups. There are 22 Leans Dems. That’s +110. I think a couple of potential GOP upsets are also lurking in the Likely Dems.

In the Senate, RCP has 45 GOP and 7 Toss-ups. Six of those appear winnable. I also think there’s another surprise or two lurking in the Leans and/or Likely Dems.

Yeah, it’s possible.

Tune in tonight and see how possible.

Reprise: Dems Deserve No Distance

/ObamaAndAnyDem0810Note: This column is adapted from a column which originally appeared in August at Pajamas Media and here at BizzyBlog.

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There are two ground rules for this year’s election campaign:

  1. If you supported Barack Obama in 2008 and are seeking election or reelection, it’s too late to distance yourself from him if you haven’t already. You own him, and his administration’s agenda.
  2. If you voted for the Obama’s administration’s key initiatives — stimulus, cap and trade, ObamaCare, or financial “reform,” you can’t credibly claim to have beliefs that run contrary to their specific provisions.

I was going to have a Rule Number 3, which was going to be: “Tell the truth.” That’s clearly out the window on the Democratic side.

Let’s look at two concrete applications of the ground rules.

Ohio’s Democratic Governor Ted Strickland is running for reelection. He claims to be a staunch supporter of the right to keep and bear arms. He can correctly claim to have a strong record in this area when he was a congressman, and to have taken several actions as governor that are consistent with that alleged belief. But under Rule Number 1, that’s irrelevant, because Ted Strickland supported Barack Obama for president in 2008, and has not backed away.

While Obama remains president and Democrats retain control of the Senate, we are one deadly Roberts, Alito, Thomas, Scalia, or Kennedy heart attack away from losing the Second Amendment. Any conceivable doubt that this is the case disappeared when Obama-nominated Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, contradicting her confirmation hearing testimony, voted with the minority in the recent 5-4 McDonald decision. Thus, no one, including Ted Strickland, can claim to be pro-Second Amendment and continue to support Barack Obama. Sadly, organizations like the NRA and Ohio’s Buckeye Firearms Association, who have both endorsed Strickland over Republican gubernatorial candidate John Kasich, don’t understand that.

Staying in Ohio, First District Congressman Steve Driehaus claims to be prolife, and was one of the phony-baloney “Stupak Six” holdouts during the final days before ObamaCare became law in March. Shortly after Obama signed the legislation, Driehaus infamously told a friendly audience that his holdout had been a convenient show: “I was fully confident we would get to ‘yes.’ … I knew I would get there.”

Stupak, Driehaus, and the others ended their charade when Obama issued an Executive Order that supposedly prohibited the use of federal funds for abortions. The most obvious flaw in accepting this fig leaf was that Obama, who based on his record and statements is the most pro-abort president in our history, can unilaterally reverse his order at any time. But beyond that, it has already been shown to be irrelevant in Pennsylvania:

The Obama administration has officially approved the first instance of taxpayer funded abortions under the new national government-run health care program. This is the kind of abortion funding the pro-life movement warned about when Congress considered the bill.

… It has quietly approved a plan submitted by an appointee of pro-abortion Governor Edward Rendell under which the new program will cover any abortion that is legal in Pennsylvania.

… “The Obama Administration will give Pennsylvania $160 million in federal tax funds, which we’ve discovered will pay for insurance plans that cover any legal abortion,” said Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee.

If Steve Driehaus has a problem with any of this, I haven’t heard about it. If Driehaus continues to claim to be prolife, he violates both Ground Rules 1 and 2 — Rule 1 because he continues to support the President, and Rule 2 because he voted for legislation that has already been shown to be anti-life in effect. Driehaus has also been remarkably quiet about Donald Berwick, the recess-appointed Director of Medicare and Medicaid Services, who believes that “About 8% of GDP is plenty for ‘best known’ care” (health care is currently about 17% of GDP), and Zeke the Bleak Emanuel, whose “complete lives system … explicitly defends discrimination against older patients” and would be used to deny them needed care.

Finally, there’s the instructive example of Virginia Senator James Webb. Though he’s not up for reelection, Mr. Webb, with an eye on 2012, is clearly attempting to separate himself from the Obama administration’s race-based obsessions. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Webb passionately argued that “white privilege” is a myth, and that our nation must ensure that “artificial distinctions such as race do not determine outcomes.”

If the Senator really believes this, he has a funny way of showing it. ObamaCare has plenty of artificial racial distinctions, while the financial services “reform” legislation “creates … Offices of Minority and Women Inclusion in at least 20 federal financial services agencies.” Mr. Webb voted for each bill (here and here).

Mr. Webb can talk the talk about opposing and eliminating race-based distinctions all he wants, but he hasn’t walked the walk when it has mattered most. Ground Rule 2 says that anyone who supported these measures and is currently up for reelection can’t credibly claim to be against racial preferences.

Similar arguments can and should be made about those who voted for cap and trade but who suddenly discover the need to drill for oil; those who speak of controlling spending while allowing party leadership to deliberately avoid passing a budget; and those who voted for the stimulus plan and fed us the now-admitted lie about “shovel-ready projects” who will now try to make us believe that they support meaningful tax cuts.

Democrats who have supported any one of Barack Obama’s key initiatives — statist health care, cap and trade, or the failed stimulus bill — deserve no distance, have no credibility if they attempt to repudiate their votes, and deserve to be thrown out of office.

That is the truth.

Lickety-Split Links (110210, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 8:29 am

Rush: “Huge See, I Told You So from 2008: Democrats Try To Take Your 401(k)”:

The purpose of the GRA (“Guaranteed Retirement Accounts”) proposal (by Senators Tom Harkin and Bernie Sanders) is simple: To force Americans to stop putting their retirement savings money into private 401(k) accounts and send their money to the government instead.”

Anyone who somehow hasn’t gotten the message that this election is about liberty vs. tyranny needs to be informed that the idea of an insatiable, ravenous, wealth-redistributing government  plundering private investments is far more than idle academic leftist chatter.

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PBS begged conservative blogger Michelle Malkin to help publicize their Election Night coverage. Big mistake (“Conservative blogger to PBS: Buzz off”).

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Great Moments in Government Handouts:

(California) Gov. Arnold Schwarzeneger says welfare recipients can no longer use state-issued debit cards at medical marijuana shops, psychics and other businesses whose services have been deemed “inconsistent with the intent” of the program.

California’s entire Temporary Assistance for Need Families (TANF) operation, often referred to as “traditional welfare,” is “inconsistent with the intent” of the national welfare reform law passed 14 years ago. Since then, the vast majority of states have cut their rolls down by 80% or more. (Yes, I know that Food Stamp dependency has exploded, but let’s focus on TANF for the moment.)

In the past five months reported (October 2009 through March 2010), California added over 47,000 to its welfare rolls. In the rest of the country, most of which runs the program with the intent of expediting the process of getting families out of the program and becoming productive, contributing citizens, welfare rolls have declined by over 50,000.

California has about 12% of the nation’s population and just shy of one-third of its welfare recipients. The state has no right to cry “broke” to the rest of the country and beg for its help as long as this situation continues.

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I’m not positive of this, but it appears that the car companies are delaying their October sales announcements until tomorrow to avoid Election Day. If this prediction list from Edmunds comes true, Democrats should be relieved that they’ve decided to wait:

EdmundsOct2010SalesPredix

By the way, when was the last time a company with declining unit sales went public with a $10 billion IPO? I think the answer is, “It has never happened, because those types of companies don’t have successful IPOs, because investors only buy in if they expect double-digit or higher earnings, revenue, and share-value growth.”

A Coming Government Shutdown?

ObamaShuttingDownFrom here, it almost seems inevitable.

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Note: This column went up at Pajamas Media and was teased here at BizzyBlog on Sunday.

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As detailed in my previous column, despite appearances to the contrary, the federal government’s spending on its regular operations is wildly out of control, tax collections are flat, and the fiscal year 2010 out-of-pocket deficit was much higher than it was in fiscal 2009.

So what are the chances of meaningfully turning this around? Even with Republican majorities in the House and Senate, the task ahead is herculean.

Nothing illustrates the difficulty ahead more than an October 28 item in the Associated Press by Julie Hirschfeld Davis, with help from Laurie Kellman. The AP reporters’ write-up makes it clear, just days before the midterm elections, that the presumed GOP congressional majority and the party’s somewhat likely Senate majority will be spending much of the next two years in a knock-down, drag-out fiscal fight with President Obama, his party, and his press apparatchiks. With the battle lines already being drawn, it becomes difficult to imagine how this gets resolved without a repeat of the federal government shutdown the country experienced in 1995. This wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, but if it happens, the outcome needs to be different than it was 15 years ago.

AP’s reporters are clearly gearing up for the battle (key scare words bolded):

Republican leaders, ever more confident of their chances of winning control of the House and possibly even the Senate, have begun plotting a 2011 agenda topped by a push for more than $100 billion in spending cuts, tax reductions and attempts to undo key parts of President Barack Obama’s health care and financial regulation laws.

… Most agree a marquee item on a new GOP majority’s agenda would be an aggressive package of spending cuts, on the order of $100 billion or more, that could also be paired with steps to block implementation of key parts of Obama’s health care law and new financial regulations.

… What’s less clear is how Obama would respond, and whether a turbocharged Republican majority could muster a bipartisan compromise, especially when its freshman class will probably have little appetite for following any established party position or leader.

… On health care, there’s little doubt that a Republican majority would quickly set a vote to ax the overhaul law – a symbolic move that has no chance of succeeding given Obama’s veto pen. The GOP would then follow up with attempts to block key elements of the measure by denying the money to implement it.

Let’s first deal with the pathetic reportage from AP’s Davis and Kellman. Then I’ll look at the bigger problem.

“Plotting”? After two years of unaccountable czars, union intimidation of and violence against private citizens, congressional non-transparency (remember “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it”?), and legislators skipping town without even passing a budget, it’s Republicans who are “plotting”? The rest of us would refer to what the Republicans are doing as “planning.”

“Tax reductions”? Since the reporters don’t reference anything else, one has to assume that they are writing about keeping the tax increases scheduled for next year (popularly referred to as “letting the Bush tax cuts expire”) in place. Folks, if the increases are cancelled or postponed, taxes won’t be reduced. They’ll stay the same.

“Bipartisan compromise”? Given that the President has justified his consistent refusal to retreat from his positions by saying, “That’s what elections are for” (as if anyone besides a small cadre of progressives in the know and of others who researched him and knew the truth had any idea of what was really coming), here’s my one-word response: Why?

“Ax the overhaul law”? That’s a really clever allusion to violence, Julie and Laurie, but the rest of us know it as “repeal.” The reason what we refer to as ObamaCare needs to be repealed is because it isn’t an “overhaul law” at all — it’s a statist takeover of about one-sixth of the economy.

Finally, there are the supposedly “aggressive” spending “cuts” of $100 billion or more.

A look at data taken from the Congressional Budget Office’s August Baseline Budget Outlook and the final Monthly Treasury Statements from fiscal 2008, 2009 and 2010 quickly reveals that a $100 billion reduction in planned spending is not only not enough, it’s not even a “cut”:

USactualsandCBO2008-2012

First, on the receipts side, the CBO thinks that collections from all sources are going to increase by 22% in fiscal 2011, and by 37% in two years. Given that actual collections have trailed CBO’s projections by over $100 billion in each of the past two years, and that the economic recovery (if it’s even fair to call it that) has been anemic, I don’t what else to say except, “You cannot be serious.”

On the spending side, note that fiscal 2011 spending as the CBO defines it is projected to be 7.5% higher than the year just ended, and an obscene 36% higher than it was just four years ago. Even if the Republicans reduce fiscal 2011 spending by $100 billion or so, outlays will still be about 4.5% higher than 2010. This is what Davis and Kellman refer to as “cuts.” It is obviously nothing of the sort.

Davis and Kellman (conveniently, I believe) are forgetting that the GOP’s Pledge to America is calling for a return to the level of spending seen in 2008, exempting national security. After considering a bit of inflation, that would amount to about $3.2 trillion, representing a legitimate and long, long overdue cut of about 7% from fiscal 2010.

Can anybody seriously look at the numbers above and claim that this can’t or shouldn’t be done? Even though the answer is obviously “no,” Obama, Democrats, and the press will scream bloody murder. The president, who despite RINO Republicans’ wishes is not prone towards any kind of compromise, will likely veto anything that doesn’t keep the spending spigots wide open. It is reasonable to believe that he would let the government shut down rather than give in to the GOP Congress.

If this happens, will it work? It did last time, for the Democrats. The Gingrich Congress caved. The GOP congressional majority never regained its fiscal mojo, and eventually became a congressional minority because of it.

But this time may be different. The stakes are much higher. The national debt held by “the public” (i.e., except for amounts owed between federal agencies) will be about two-thirds of gross domestic product by the end of 2011. If trillion-dollar deficits continue for the rest of the decade, it’s virtually certain that the public debt-to-GDP ratio will hit 90%, a figure many economists consider a tipping point. At that juncture, it becomes very likely that investors will either refuse to continue to buy government bonds or will begin demanding much higher interest rates for doing so. Massive tax increases, hyperinflation, or worse will become likely scenarios.

The New Media-driven, Tea Party-inspired portion of the electorate seems to get that. If enough of the rest of the voting public does, an Obama shutdown scenario could blow up in his and his party’s collectivist faces. Recently, we’ve learned that even if his union supporters “go French,” there’s a chance they’ll get taken down by fatigue.

Regardless of whether the confrontation occurs, our national solvency is clearly at stake in the next few years. There will be little if any time for rest after November 2.

Positivity: The Elephant Man: Unseen footage released of forgotten British hero who rescued hundreds of Burmese refugees during World War Two

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:57 am

From the University of Cambridge in the UK (related photos and pictures of original news stories are at the link):

Last updated at 1:42 AM on 1st November 2010

The story of a British man who rescued hundreds of people during the Second World War using a herd of elephants in an operation dubbed a “Far Eastern Dunkirk” is to be told in full for the first time.

Gyles Mackrell, a 53-year-old tea planter, saved 200 Burmese refugees from the banks of a flooded river using the only means he could think of to get them to safety – elephants.

Mackrell’s rescue mission was followed by the press at the time, who nicknamed him the Elephant Man, but the events of June 1942 were soon consigned to history.

However, after donations of letters, diaries and amateur video footage of the rescue from Mackrell’s niece, the Centre of South Asian Studies at the University of Cambridge is paying tribute to his bravery.

Researchers will examine the donated documents in detail, hoping to revive interest in the story of the Elephant Man, as well as uncovering others who helped to save refugees in Burma in the 1940s.

The university will also release a short film of Mackrell’s epic rescue mission on its YouTube site.

Mackrell’s operation, which has been called a “Far Eastern Dunkirk”, saved the Burmese refugees from the advancing Japanese army, who had invaded in January 1942.

Thousands of evacuees, many of them wounded, sick and starving, had trekked for miles through the jungle, becoming trapped when monsoon rains flooded the Dapha river on the Indian border.

After receiving an SOS call from one group of refugees, Mackrell gathered the elephants, which he used in his work on the tea plantation, and set up camp on the river bank. …

Go here for the rest of the story.