How Many Democrats Have Been Mugged By Reality?

I used to be a Democrat. I voted for George McGovern for President. I stayed a Democrat until about half way through Jimmy Carter‘s presidency. At that point I was mugged by reality. Evidently I was not the only one.

The Daily Caller posted an interview today of Charles Krauthammer (one of my favorite people in the whole world) by Howard Kurtz on the Fox TV show “Media Buzz.” I strongly suggest following the link and reading the entire article, but here are a few highlights:

People don’t remember that in the 1970s, there was a strong conservative wing of the Democratic Party. Pat Moynahan, Hubert Humphrey, Scoop Jackson, they were called the Coalition for a Democratic Majority, Committee for the Present Danger… that is where I came out of. Joe Lieberman is the last of those Mohicans, and obviously he had no home in the end.

KURTZ: You were trained, as you mentioned, as a doctor. Does that influence your political prognostications? Analyzing the sanity of those in the political community, perhaps?

KRAUTHAMMER: Oh, no, it never does. However, my training as an M.D. has made me particularly open to empirical evidence. And when you talked about my evolution from a liberal to a conservative, it isn’t that i had an epiphany, the clouds parting and a shaft of light from the sky. I was open to empirical evidence, on the War on Poverty, the Great Society, which I believed in and saw it didn’t work, at least the evidence I read, and I changed. That is the major influence on my life.

I suspect that I am not the only person who can relate to that statement.

Two Sides Of The Story

A friend at the post office told me today that the U. S. Post Office was actually doing ok, but that they are being crippled by a requirement of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 which states

Title VIII: Postal Service Retirement and Health Benefits Funding – Postal Civil Service Retirement and Health Benefits Funding Amendments of 2006 – (Sec. 802) Relieves the Postal Service of an obligation to contribute matching amounts to its employees’ civil service retirement. Provides for a mechanism and an amortization schedule regarding the handling of any surplus or supplemental liability of the Postal Service regarding the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund. Transfers from the Postal Service to the Treasury certain retirement obligations related to military service of former Postal Service employees. Makes Office of Personnel Management (OPM) determinations on surplus or supplemental liability subject to PRC review if the Postal Service so requests.

(Sec. 803) Transfers responsibility for paying the government’s contribution of the health benefits of postal annuitants, effective in FY2017, from the Postal Service to the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Fund (established by this section) up to the amount contained in the Fund, with any remaining amount to be paid by the United States Postal Service.

Establishes in the Treasury the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Fund, to be administered by OPM. Requires the Postal Service, beginning in 2007, to compute the net present value of the future payments required and attributable to the service of Postal Service employees during the most recently ended fiscal year, along with a schedule if annual installments which provides for the liquidation of any liability or surplus by 2056. Directs the Postal Service, for each year, to pay into the above Fund such net present value and the annual installment due under the amortization schedule. Makes OPM actuarial computations subject to PRC review.

(Sec. 804) Repeals a provision of the Postal Civil Service Retirement System Funding Reform Act of 2003 related to the disposition of savings accruing to the Postal Service.

In English this states that the Post Office is forced to pay $5 billion a year of its revenue into federal accounts in order to cover future healthcare expenses for retirees.

In September 2011, PolitiFact posted a response to a union ad which repeated the charge that the $5 billion payment to the government was bankrupting the Post Office.

The article at PolitiFact points out:

In recent years, as Internet communication has increased, the number of pieces mailed has been in decline. For a few years, postal revenues were nevertheless stable, but then they too started to decline. Patrick Donahoe, the U.S. Postmaster, said recently that first-class mail is dropping at a rate of 7.5 percent a year. While the post office has made up for some losses through productivity increases, it hasn’t been able to make up enough.

PolitiFact concludes:

The postal unions’ ad blames financial problems on “a 2006 law that drains $5 billion a year from post office revenue, while the Postal Service is forced to overpay billions more into federal accounts.” The ad is right that the law did require payments of approximately that amount and that those payments have had a significant effect on the post office’s bottom line. The additional overpayments are subject to debate. Even so, the law is hardly the only challenge the post office faces; it’s also facing continuing declines in first-class mail. So we rate the ad’s claim Half True.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch… On November 16, the Courier Express and Postal Observer posted a story saying that Senator Joseph Lieberman and Representative Darrell Issa are negotiating a postal reform bill. That bill would include the re-amortization of the remaining payment schedule for health care benefits. There are some other things included in the bill that would help the Post Office’s bottom line.

Again, funding healthcare expenses for retirees ahead of time is a good idea. Not funding them results in unfunded liabilities, which have become the downfall of many cities and towns in America. However, such funding needs to be done in a way that does not put the people doing the funding out of business. Hopefully a compromise will be reached that will keep the Post Office going.

I realize that email and other electronic gadgetry have had a negative impact on the Post Office, but some of us are still old-fashioned enough to enjoy a short walk to the mailbox to see what has arrived. I am also partial to real Christmas cards–not electronic ones!

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President Obama And Israel

YouTube has posted an 18 minute video American voters should watch before they vote. This is the video:

YouTube describes the video as follows:

A new, 18-minute mini-documentary follows the journey of Irina, a 23-year-old liberal, Jewish New Yorker who voted for Obama in 2008. Yet as her connection to Israel has grown, and she has learned more about the President’s policies across the Middle East and towards Israel in particular, Irina has come to realize that “when the chips are down,” the President may not “have Israel’s back” as he says.

The short film features:

Exclusive interviews with leading journalists and politicians in Israel
(Bloomberg, London Times, Jerusalem Post, etc.)

Mainstream news reports (CNN, MSNBC, ABC, BBC, etc.),

Clips from longtime Democratic supporters including: Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz Former NYC Mayor Ed Koch Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY)

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The Cost Of Political Correctness

Fox News posted a story today about a report investigating the Fort Hood shooting in 2009. The report was conducted over the course of two years by former FBI Director William Webster.

The report deals with how information on Major Nidal Hasan was handled by the FBI.

The article reports:

Five months after the San Diego Field Office for the Joint Terrorism Task Force sent a lead to the Washington D.C. office with concerns about Hasan, the report said, headquarters conducted their review, only to determine Hasan was not “involved in terrorist activities.” 

After the San Diego office complained, neither office took any additional action. 

The article later reports:

The report also quoted a San Diego official who claimed he suggested to headquarters in June 2009 that it would be appropriate to interview Hasan. 

The Washington officer told him, according to a paraphrase in the report, that: “This is not (San Diego), it’s D.C. and (the Washington office) doesn’t go out and interview every Muslim guy who visits extremist websites.” 

The San Diego official also said he was told the subject was “politically sensitive.” 

Thirteen American soldiers who were on their own base in America are dead and thirty-two were wounded–all because a subject was politcally sensitive??!! This cannot be allowed to continue.

There are some people in Congress who understood instantly what led to the Fort Hood shootings:

Sens. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, the chairman and ranking Republican on the Senate homeland security committee, said the report “reinforces” conclusions they had already reached about the “inadequacy” of the FBI probe. 

But they added: “We are concerned that the report fails to address the specific cause for the Fort Hood attack, which is violent Islamist extremism. And we are skeptical that FBI analysts are now well-integrated into the FBI’s operations, as the report states.” 

On December 8, 2011, the Daily Caller posted the following:

Sen. Susan Collins on Wednesday blasted the Defense Department for classifying the Fort Hood massacre as workplace violence and suggested political correctness is being placed above the security of the nation’s Armed Forces at home.

Fort Hood was not workplace violence. People engaged in simple workplace violence do not stand up and yell, “Allahu Akbar” before they attack. We need to admit that there are people within our government preventing us from clearly seeing and dealing with the problem of Islamic extremism. Most Muslims in America are peace-loving, freedom-loving, non-violent people who are glad to be here. But we need to remember that there are some Muslims who have come to America to aid in the establishment of the world-wide caliphate. Until our government is willing to recognize the problem is Islamist extremism, they will not be able to successfully deal with it. 


Something Good Was Done In Washington Today

When I look at that headline, I am reminded of all the admonitions to reporters, “If a dog bites a man, it’s not a story, if a man bites a dog, it’s a story.” However, something good was done in Washington recently.

The Hill is reporting today that John Boehner and Senator Joe Lieberman have announced that a deal has been reached to implement a renewal and expansion of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program.

The article reports:

The private school voucher initiative in the nation’s capital is a top priority of Boehner’s, and the agreement comes after the Speaker and Lieberman complained that President Obama’s decision to zero out funding for the program in his latest budget contradicted a law he signed in 2011. Boehner had successfully attached legislation extending and expanding the scholarships to a government funding accord last year.

The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program has been a fantastic program for the city. It has allowed children from low-income families who would be at risk in the public schools in Washington, D. C., to get the education they need to be successful.

The article reports:

Under the agreement Boehner announced, there will be no cap on enrollment, and the program will remain open to both new and current applicants.

Bi-partisanship works when the issue is valid!

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Received In My E-mail Tonight

November 16, 2011


60 Minutes Story Sparks Examination

WASHINGTON – Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., and Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Maine, announced Wednesday they would hold a hearing to examine how insider trading laws apply to Congress.

 The hearing, requested by Committee Member Scott Brown, R-Mass., and sparked by a 60 Minutes report, is intended to clarify the laws and rules that govern members of Congress who may profit personally from non-public information they learn in the course of their work.

“Insider trading by members of Congress – if it occurs — is a serious breach of the public trust,” said Lieberman. “No one in Congress should be enriching themselves based on information to which the general public has no access. Our hearing will set the record straight about how existing laws and ethics rules apply to Congress and whether they are sufficient to prevent unethical market trading.”

 Collins said: “Elected office is a place for public service, not personal gain. We have a duty to examine and address practices that can create the appearance of wrongdoing or undermine the public’s confidence in decisions made by Congress.

“I appreciate Senator Scott Brown’s leadership on this important issue. We need to assure the American people that the decisions we make are decisions of integrity, in which their interests are put first.”

 Senator Brown has introduced legislation intended to prevent members of Congress from profiting on information to which only they are privy. That bill has been referred to HSGAC. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., will introduce similar legislation soon. House members have introduced similar bills.
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A World Of Misleading Headlines

Tampa Bay Online posted this headline last night:

GOP senators vote to defeat Obama’s jobs bill 

The New York Daily News reports:

Senate Republicans vote to kill Obama’s $447 million jobs bill

Those are two examples. If you choose to look, I’m sure you can find dozens. Let’s look at the facts. This the current breakdown of the Senate: Democrats: 57, Republicans: 41, Independents: 2. Because of the filibuster, it takes 60 votes to get anything voted on in the Senate.

The New York Daily News reports:

The $447 billion plan died on a 50-49 tally that garnered a majority of the 100-member Senate but fell well short of the 60 votes needed to keep the bill alive. The tally had been 51-48, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., switched his vote to “nay” so that he could force a future revote.

Power Line reports:

the bill stalled with Democratic Sens. Ben Nelson (Neb.) and Jon Tester (Mont.) joining all 46 voting Republicans to oppose the motion. …

At least three Members of the Democratic Conference who voted to move the legislation forward, Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Jim Webb (D-Va.), said they would have opposed its final passage absent significant adjustments.

I realize that I am being picky, but considering this will be a campaign issue in 2012, I think it’s a good idea to get the facts straight at the outset. The only bipartisanship was against the bill. All the Republicans voted against cloture, but two Democrats joined them. All but two of the Democrats voted for cloture, but some Democrats said they would not vote for the bill unless it was changed significantly. The Republicans did not block this bill–the Democrats were simply not able to get the support of all their members and make a case good enough to get a few Republican votes. It’s not gridlock–it’s simply a bad bill that did not pass!

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Putting The Focus Where The Problem Is

Peter king

Image via Wikipedia

As Congress tries to find ways of cutting the federal budget, a few Congressmen are looking at ways to make some agencies more efficient in dealing with the problems they were created to solve. In Washington, that is easier said than done.

Representative Peter King is asking for changes at the Department of Homeland Security that would allow the Department to focus formally on “homegrown violent Islamist extremism.” Joe Lieberman has introduced a companion bill in the Senate that would require a czar to oversee the program.

The article reports:

“Sen. Lieberman and I think it’s important to focus on the most serious threat, and Islamist radicalism is the most dangerous threat,” the Long Island Republican said. “By not saying that, we would be creating the appearance of equivalency with any number of different threats.”

Under President Obama, Homeland Security has avoided the term “terrorism” and references to radical Islam.

Whether it is politically correct to say so or not, the majority of our problems with terrorism have been with Islamist extremists. It is foolish to say that by ignoring that fact, we are doing something constructive.

The article further reminds us:

Both bills, for example, would consolidate redundant DHS offices and impose tight controls on spending by the agency, which has wasted billions in its first seven years.

Most notably, the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that DHS spent more than $4 billion on nuclear detection equipment that either didn’t work or wouldn’t fit in lanes at U.S. ports of entry.

It will be interesting to listen to the debate as these two bills move through Congress.

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