The Killing Of Anwar al-Awlaki

Fox News reported this morning that two American-born terrorists were killed in a hellfire missile strike in Yemen early Friday morning. The two terrorists were Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan.

The article reports:

Al-Awlaki was a U.S.-born Islamic militant cleric who became a prominent figure with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the network’s most active branch. He was involved in several terror plots in the United States in recent years, using his fluent English and Internet savvy to draw recruits to carry out attacks. President Obama signed an order in early 2010 making him the first American to be placed on the “kill or capture” list. 

…Kahn, in his 20s, was an American of Pakistani heritage from North Carolina. His magazine promoted attacks against U.S. targets, even running articles on how to put together explosives. In one issue, Khan wrote that he had moved to Yemen and joined Al Qaeda’s fighters, pledging to “wage jihad for the rest of our lives.”

CBN News posted an article this morning by Erick Stakelbeck analyzing the impact of the death of Al-Awlaki on Al Qaeda. Mr. Stakelbeck points out that because Al-Awlaki was born in the United States and lived a major part of his life there, he understood the American culture and language and was able to radicalize Americans in a way that Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri could not..

Mr. Stakelbeck points out:

–Unlike another American-born Al Qaeda propagandist, Adam Gadahn (a.k.a. “Azzam the American”), Awlaki, who was an imam at mosques in San Diego and northern Virginia before leaving the U.S. in 2002, had major religious street cred in the radical Islamic world. 

Mr. Stakelbeck concludes:

One concern: as we continue to strike blows against Al Qaeda, let’s remember that AQ is just one cog in a much broader global jihad. To hear the Obama administration tell it, if we defeat Al Qaeda, we can basically just pack up our bags and go home because the War on Terror is over. Not by a longshot. Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, Hizb ut-Tahrir, homegrown jihadis and of course, the Muslim Brotherhood, just to name a few, are not only alive and kicking but in many cases (Iran, Hezbollah,the Brotherhood, etc.) growing in strength thanks to this administration’s disastrous foreign policy decisions. 

The killing of al-Awlaki and Samir Khan is good news. However, we need to understand that we should remain vigilant–unfortunately Al Qaeda is only one group that has put America in its cross hairs.

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The Continuing Attack On Gibson Guitars

Gibson guitar SG Standard 1969

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The Nashville Business Journal reported on Wednesday that federal authorities filed a complaint in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee that mirrors a 2010 action that sought official forfeiture of wood obtained in a 2009 raid of Gibson facilities. The latter of those cases has been stayed, pending the outcome of the most recent suit.

The article reports:

As has been the case in previous allegations, at issue is the classification of certain wood imported to the United States from India. Namely, a June shipment of 1,250 sawn logs was classified as “finished parts of musical instruments,” which is allowed under Indian law. In reality, according to the sworn affidavit of Fish and Wildlife Service agent Kevin Seiler, the wood was unfinished – a violation of the Lacey Act.

There are a few interesting facts about this action. First of all, the laws of India were totally complied with–the Obama administration is the problem. Second of all, the question is not the wood–the question is whether or not the wood is unfinished. Think about that a minute. If people in India do the job, it is okay with the government. If people in America do the job, the Obama administration raids their company. I thought the Obama administration was trying to keep jobs in America.

I am sure that it is simply an incredible coincidence that one of Gibson Guitar’s main competitors is a major contributor to Democrat Party coffers.

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More Unintended Consequences Of Obamacare

Today’s New York Daily News posted an article on “The unaffordable Affordable Care Act.” The Daily News cites research by the nonprofit group The Kaiser Family Foundation which shows:

“…premiums have risen steeply under the law – with the annual premium for family coverage through an employer reaching $15,073 in 2011, an increase of 9% over the previous year. Or as Politico put it: Premiums are now costing families as much as a new car.”

The article points out that some aspects of Obamacare have already taken effect, but that the supposed ‘cost cutting’ aspects of the bill will not go into effect until 2014. Some of the parts of the bill already in effect include covering kids 26 years old and under, accepting patients with no preconditions and eliminating annual caps. All of these things logically drive up the cost for insurance companies, an increase that they logically pass on to their customers.

The 9% increase is not a random number. The Daily News reports:

Back in May, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued a final rule that would allow the administration to “establish procedures for federal and state insurance experts to scrutinize premiums” starting in September of this year. Managed care companies were told they would have to justify any rate increases above 10%. Translation: They’d be put on the political hot seat.

Why are health insurance premiums going up? Anticipation of what is to come under the new law. The article reports:

Insurers pushed up costs, not only to cover anticipating an influx of new and possibly sick patience (and lack of revenue from healthy patients signing up), but also to avoid getting audited by the Obama administration before the review period kicks in.

Obamacare needs to be repealed. But it needs to be replaced with something that includes tort reform, portability across state lines, and takes the government out of the equation.

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An Update On Fast And Furious

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air posted an article yesterday with some new details on Operation Fast and Furious. The New York Post has reported that the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) ordered one of its agents to buy weapons with taxpayer money and sell them directly to a Mexican drug cartel.

The article reports:

Agent John Dodson was ordered to buy four Draco pistols for cash and even got a letter from his supervisor, David Voth, authorizing a federally licensed gun dealer to sell him the guns without bothering about the necessary paperwork.

This is no way to run a country. The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday that Fast and Furious guns turned up in El Paso, Texas in January 2010.

The article at Hot Air speculates on why the Fast and Furious was allowed to continue after it became obvious that the operation was out of control. There are two possible reasons:

1.  The first is that the anti-gun Obama administration deliberately wanted American guns planted in Mexico in order to demonize American firearms dealers and gun owners. The operation was manufacturing “evidence” for the president’s false claim that we’re to blame for the appalling levels of Mexican drug-war violence.


2. A second notion is that the CIA was behind the whole thing, which accounts for all the desperate wagon-circling. Under this theory, the Agency feared the los Zetas drug cartel was becoming too powerful and might even mount a coup against the Mexican government. So some 2,000 weapons costing more than $1.25 million were deliberately channeled to the rival Sinaloa cartel, which operates along the American border, to keep the Zetas in check.

The article at Hot Air suggests that it may be a combination of the two. At any rate, it would be nice to see someone in the government held accountable for this horrible operation.

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The Roots Of Terrorism

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As anyone who has ever had to deal with dandelions on the front lawn knows, you don’t get rid of weeds until you pull out the roots. We need to remember that as we continue in the War on Terrorism.

Reza Kahlili posted an article today at his website A Time To Betray entitled “Jihadist at the Gate.” Mr. Kahlili (not his real name) is a former Iranian Revolutionary Guard member who worked undercover as a CIA agent for several years in the ‘80s and ‘90s.

In his article, Mr. Kahlili points out some of the recent events regarding Iran:

In May, I reported that the Revolutionary Guards were building a missile base in Venezuela (Opinion: Iran is Building a Secret Missile Installation in Venezuela). The leaders of Iran and Venezuela hailed what they called their strong strategic relationship, saying they are united in efforts to establish a “New World Order” that will eliminate Western dominance over global affairs.

He also reports:

The Islamic regime in Iran now has enough enriched uranium for six nuclear bombs. They continue to defy four separate sets of UN sanctions and will soon be arming their missiles with nuclear warheads. Not only will they destroy Israel, but with only one nuclear armed missile for an Electromagnetic Pulse attack, they could bring about the demise of America, as promised by the leaders of Iran. Should that attack occur,  over two- thirds of the U.S. population will lose their lives.

If that’s not enough, they have now announced the existence of Hezbollah cells in the U.S. and in the heart of Europe. Their only mission is to destroy the West. The radicals in Iran truly believe that the timing is right, that the time is now for the final glorification of Allah!

I have no idea how to deal with Iran. I do know that they are behind most of the terrorism in the world. Please follow the link to A Time To Betray to see Rahim Poor Azgadi, the theorist of the Iranian regime, explain the goals of the current government of Iran. We need to seriously consider how to deal with the root of world-wide terrorism rather than merely attacking the symptoms.

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An Interesting Aspect Of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Visit To The United Nations Last Week

John Hinderaker at Power Line posted an article about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s statement to the United Nations last week that the September 11th attack on America was done by the Bush administration. Evidently, al Qaeda did not appreciate his remarks.

Power Line reports:

[T]he Yemen-based compiler of [al Qaeda’s] Inspire magazine wrote that President Ahmadinejad had appeared “ridiculous” when he questioned the origins of the attack that killed almost 3,000 people.

“The Iranian government has professed on the tongue of its president Ahmadinejad that it does not believe that al Qaeda was behind 9/11 but rather, the US government,” it said. “So we may ask the question: why would Iran ascribe to such a ridiculous belief that stands in the face of all logic and evidence?”

There is nothing I can add to that statement.

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I Have No Other Source On This–I Am Posting It Because It Is Important If It Is True

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Yesterday a United Kingdom website called The Register posted a story stating:

Computer scientists have demonstrated a hack that uses off-the-shelf hardware to tamper with electronic voting machines that millions of Americans will use to cast ballots in the 2012 presidential elections.

I checked a few of the sites I use for fact checking and couldn’t find anything on this story. It could be that the story is too new or it could be that the story is true. I am hoping that the story is not true, but I suspect it is.

The article further reports:

In a video demonstration, researchers from the Vulnerability Assessment Team at the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois showed how the card could be used to briefly kill the power to the voting machine’s touch screen to temporarily black out what’s displayed so voters can’t see their choices being modified. Using optional hardware costing about $15, they showed how attackers can remotely tamper with machines from distances as far away as half a mile.

The article does point out that in order to make any large-scale changes to the machines results, you would have physical access to the machines and you would have to change a number of them. Theoretically, if the machines are properly watched, hacking would not be possible. The form of attack on the voting machines mentioned in the article involved modifying the inside of the machines to allow the results of the machine to be tampered with. The video at The Register website demonstrates how this is done.

The article reports that the particular machine described in this report is used in several states:

The AccuVote TS is used in several states, including Maryland and Georgia, although voting officials in some jurisdictions have phased out its use because the DRE, or Direct Recording Electronic, voting system typically offers no print out. That makes it particularly hard to audit results.

Honest elections are an important part of our government. This is a something that needs to be investigated.

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Follow The Money On Solar Energy

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Yesterday the Associated Press reported that the Energy Department has approved two loan guarantees worth more than $1 billion for solar energy projects in Nevada and Arizona. These loans were approved under the same program that granted the Solyndra loans–a program that is scheduled to expire on September 30.

The article reports:

Energy Secretary Steven Chu said the department has completed a $737 million loan guarantee to Tonopah Solar Energy for a 110 megawatt solar tower on federal land near Tonopah, Nev., and a $337 million guarantee for Mesquite Solar 1 to develop a 150 megawatt solar plant near Phoenix.

 Fox News reports:

The Obama Administration is giving $737 million to a Tonopah Solar, a subsidiary of California-based SolarReserve. PCG is an investment partner with SolarReserve. Nancy Pelosi’s brother-in-law happens to be the number two man at PCG.

 It gets worse. The Washington Examiner reports:

Despite the Solyndra failure, the Department of Energy continues to provide loan guarantees to solar companies, today giving Tonopah Solar a $737 million loan guarantee for a project in Nevada. Mitchell (Steve Mitchell) serves as a “board participant” for Solar Reserve, the parent company to Tonopah Solar, and his Solar Reserve biography says that he “currently sits on the Boards of Directors of . . . Solyndra” and several other companies. Argonaut, Mitchell’s primary employer, owns 3% of Solar Reserve, according to reports.

The Mitchell connection to Solar Reserve brings George Kaiser into the spotlight with respect to this latest loan guarantee. Kaiser owns Argonaut and thus invested in both Solyndra and Solar Reserve. He also bundled over $50,000 into President Obama’s campaign.

I really hate the idea of another Congressional investigation, but I think we need one on the money the government is giving to ‘green energy’ and who has received the money.

The money given out this week was the last of the money from a renewable energy loan program approved under the 2009 economic stimulus. It seems to me that the money would have been better spent in other areas. This really does look like ‘pay to play’ on the part of the Obama administration.

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ObamaCare Is Headed To The Supreme Court

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The Washington Examiner posted a story yesterday about the progress of the lawsuits regarding Obamacare.

The article at the Washington Examiner states:

Obamacare’s fate will almost certainly be decided by the Supreme Court in 2012, either in June or shortly after November’s election. And neither conservatives nor President Obama can be sure whether they want a decision before or after the election.

The question that comes to mind here is why the Obama Administration isn’t working to slow down Obamacare’s trip to the Supreme Court. The longer it takes the Supreme Court to hear Obamacare, the more of Obamacare will already have been put in place and it will be harder to undo. The decision in the 11th Circuit is not totally negative for the Obama Administration–severing the individual mandate works for the Obama Administration–if the rest of the law stands, then they are still ahead of the game. The individual mandate was the part of the law most likely to be declared unconstitutional.

I have a few other ideas. I believe as this case moves forward, there will be an attempt to force Clarence Thomas to recuse himself from the case at the Supreme Court. There is also the fact that Elena Kagan worked on the Obamacare legislation while she was at the White House and should recuse herself from the case (I doubt that she will do that voluntarily). Obamacare at the Supreme Court is not a slam-dunk for either side, and there is a risk that the case could go either way. The other aspect of this is that if Obamacare is found unconstitutional, the Obama campaign will attempt to use its defeat as a campaign issue. Because Obamacare is overwhelmingly unpopular, I am not sure how effective it will be as a campaign issue.

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Just When You Thought The World Might Actually Be A Safe Place…

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Fox News reported yesterday that 20,000 portable, heat-seeking missiles appear to have vanished from an Army warehouse in Libya.

The article reports:

The new revelations stoke ongoing fears that such weapons, which are light, relatively easy to use and have the capacity to take down a commercial airplane, could end up in the wrong hands as the Libyan war that ousted Muammar Qaddafi winds down.

The wrong hands????? Do we know who the right hands are? One of the problems in ‘freeing’ Libya from Muammar Qaddafi is that we are not sure of the backgrounds of the people we are supporting in the effort to oust Qaddafi. Some of the people we are handing weapons to are the same people who were shooting at us in Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years. We have no guarantees that a new government in Libya will be any more democratic or friendly to the west than the old one. Meanwhile, we seem to have lost some heat-seeking missiles. Great.

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Do We Really Need Elections ?

Official photo of Governor Beverly Perdue (D-NC).

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This article is based on two articles in the Daily Caller and one from John Hinderaker at Power Line. There was also a link on the Drudge Report which first alerted me to the information.

The Daily Caller reports a recent statement by North Carolina Democratic Governor Bev Perdue:

“I think we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won’t hold it against them, whatever decisions they make, to just let them help this country recover,” Perdue said at a rotary club event in Cary, N.C., according to the Raleigh News & Observer. “I really hope that someone can agree with me on that.”

Excuse me, the Constitution calls for elections for Representatives to the House of Representatives every two years and for Senators every six years. The idea is that the House is more responsive to the public and the Senate is supposed to be a more thoughtful body because it is less worried about elections. I could right a book about whether it actually works that way, but that was the intent. To think that the way to solve our current economic problems is to throw out the Constitution is not only nuts, it is not appropriate for an elected official. I don’t know about on the state level, but on a national level, all elected officials are sworn to uphold the Constitution. This was not an appropriate remark from any elected official.


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Islam Is Not A Religion Of Peace (Or Freedom)

The sign above says is all. posted the above picture at the bottom of an article detailing plans to execute Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani if he refuses to renounce his Christian faith.

An article posted at today explains the details:

“As far as we understand, he will be asked again if he wishes to recant,” CSW (Christianity Solidarity Worldwide) press officer Kiri Kankhwende said. “Should he refuse, we understand that he will be facing an execution.”

The article further explains:

“This whole situation, the charges against him and the punishment he’s facing, are illegal — not only by the Iranian Constitution but the international treaties to which Iran is a party to,” Kankhwende said.

The thing that we in America need to realize very quickly is that Islam is neither a religion of peace or a religion of freedom. Under Sharia Law, it is a capital offense to convert to Islam to Christianity. That is not freedom of religion.

The article at points out:

The 11th branch of Iran’s Gilan Provincial Court has determined that Pastor Nadarkhani has Islamic ancestry and therefore must recant his faith in Jesus Christ. Iran’s supreme court had previously ruled that the trial court must determine if Pastor Youcef had been a Muslim before converting to Christianity.

Sharia Law (Islamic Law) and democracy are not compatible. There is an aspect of Islam that is not religious–it is political. In America we have freedom of religion–we do not have freedom to undermine our democracy. That is why any attempt to integrate Sharia Law into American law needs to be turned back forcefully.


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Fear Mongering For Fun And Profit

Yesterday’s Washington Examiner posted an editorial by the newspaper staff on the practice of using fear to block Republican attempts to cut the federal budget.

The editorial states:

“To be a little melodramatic, the budget would kill people,” New York Times columnist Paul Krugman recently told CNN about House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s Path to Prosperity. “No question.” With the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster relief fund set to run out of money Thursday, and with none of the federal government’s 12 appropriations bills signed into law so far, you can expect a lot more melodramatic quotes like this one in the coming weeks.

Oddly enough, when faced with a Congress that was not going to give it more money, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) discovered that it actually did have enough money to finish the fiscal year.

The editorial reminds us that sixteen years ago, when the Republican Congress was debating welfare reform, Bob Herbert in the New York Times warned its readers that welfare reform “would hurt many people, would kill some and would help no one.”

The editorial at the Washington Examiner reviews the history:

Herbert could not have been much farther from the mark. Two years later, after President Clinton had signed welfare reform into law, New York Times journalist Jason DeParle reported that “welfare rolls have fallen more than 40 percent in three states that have been among the most energetic in urging recipients to work: Oregon, Wisconsin and Indiana. And caseloads have declined by 25 percent or more in 16 other states.” DeParle’s article said nothing about people dying in the streets of Portland, Milwaukee or Indianapolis.

Please follow the link to the Washington Examiner editorial for more examples of using fear to avoid reducing the size of the federal government. The cure for fear is knowledge, and it is time for American voters to understand the negative impact on America of an ever-increasing government.

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Economics Even I Can Understand

Photographer: Frank C. Müller

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The following is taken directly from a website called Funny And Jokes. It is taken directly from the site, so please follow the link to the site and see what else is there.

Bar Stool Economics

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

  • The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
  • The fifth would pay $1.
  • The sixth would pay $3.
  • The seventh would pay $7.
  • The eighth would pay $12.
  • The ninth would pay $18.
  • The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that’s what they decided to do. The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. “Since you are all such good customers,” he said, “I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20.”

Drinks for the ten now cost just $80

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men – the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his ‘fair share?’

They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay! And so…

  • The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
  • The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings).
  • The seventh now paid $5 instead of $7 (28%savings).
  • The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
  • The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
  • The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.

“I only got a dollar out of the $20,” declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man, “but he got $10!”

“Yeah, that’s right,” exclaimed the fifth man. “I only saved a dollar, too. It’s unfair that he got ten times more than I!”

“That’s true!” shouted the seventh man. “Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!”

“Wait a minute,” yelled the first four men in unison. “We didn’t get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!” The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn’t have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D.
Professor of Economics, University of Georgia

‘Nuff said.

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Compromise Isn’t Possible When There Is A Basic Philosophical Divide Between The People Involved

Historical government spending in the United S...

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Yesterday CNS News reported that President Obama stated in a speech:

“If taxes consumed less of America’s wealth, as some Republicans would like, it would not be possible to have a “modern industrial economy,”

That idea simply does not line up with the views expressed by the men who founded America or the practicalities of a free society.

The article further reports:

“Right now, we’ve got the lowest tax rates we’ve had since the 1950s,” Obama said during a lengthy reply.

The article posted a response by Michael Tanner of the CATO Institute:

Tanner said Obama was correct to say that tax revenue as a percentage of gross domestic product was lower than in the past. However, he pointed out that the Congressional Budget Office projects it to be higher than average by the end of the decade. Also, government spending is 25 percent – much higher than in the 1990s, when it was about 18 percent.

“If you look at it as a percentage of the economy that is being taken in taxes, we are at a low point right now, largely because of the recession,” Tanner said. “CBO predicts we will be up well above the historic average by the end of the decade. Historically we take in a little over 18 percent. CBO says it will be around 20 percent by the end of the decade.”

Higher taxes do not create a growing economy–they discourage growth in the private sector. The 2012 election will be a referendum on which philosophy the American voters agree with.

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Following The Money Trail On Solyndra

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Every now and then I post an article about a story that I totally do not understand. This is one of those times. If anyone reading this can shed some light on what actually happened in this case, please comment.

Yesterday the Washington Times posted an article about the list of creditors in the Solyndra bankruptcy case. The Solyndra bankruptcy case is already being looked at closely because of the amount of government money loaned to the company despite indications that the company’s business plan was not viable. Now the “creditor matrix,” a document which is a standard filing in a bankruptcy case, reveals that the California Democratic Party is listed as a creditor of Solyndra.

The article at the Washington Times reports:

The company (Solyndra) had its own in-house team of lobbyists, but it also hired three other Washington lobbying firms: McAllister & Quinn, Washington Tax Group and McBee Strategic Consulting.

Many of the lobbyists previously worked in government for Democratic and Republican lawmakers alike. They included former aides to lawmakers such as Sen. Alfonse D’Amato, New York Republican; Sen. Maria Cantwell, Washington Democrat; and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat.

From 2008, when the company spent $160,000 on lobbying, to 2010, when it spent $550,000, lobbying expenditures increased nearly 250 percent, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

It makes you wonder how much money actually went into producing a product.

Please follow the link to the article at the Washington Times. There are a lot of questions about Solyndra–including why its executives pleaded the Fifth Amendment when they were called before Congress. The article in the Times also points out some very interesting connections between some of the people involved in this company and major donors to the Obama campaign.


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Sometimes Logic Simply Does Not Apply

The Massachusetts State House in Boston, MA.

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A website called reported the following last Thursday:

Motorists issued a traffic ticket in Massachusetts will have to pay money to the state whether or not they committed the alleged crime. According to a state supreme court ruling handed down yesterday, fees are to be imposed even on those found completely innocent. The high court saw no injustice in collecting $70 from Ralph C. Sullivan after he successfully fought a $100 ticket for failure to stay within a marked lane.

Wow. We don’t care if you are innocent or guilty, we are still going to collect your money!

The article further reports:

Bay State drivers given speeding tickets and other moving violations have twenty days either to pay up or make a non-refundable $20 payment to appeal to a clerk-magistrate. After that, further challenge to a district court judge can be had for a non-refundable payment of $50. Sullivan argued that motorists were being forced to pay “fees” not assessed on other types of violations, including drug possession. He argued this was a violation of the Constitution’s Equal Protection clause, but the high court justices found this to be reasonable.

This is amazing–even in Massachusetts

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Defending The Indefensible

Fox News Sunday

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One of the challenges for voters in any election cycle is to sort out the truth from the ‘spin.’ Since we seem to be in a never-ending election cycle right now, that is becoming a full-time job. I like Fox News. That’s probably not a surprise to anyone who reads this website regularly, but I occasionally have my problems with their reporting as well as everyone else’s. However, yesterday morning I was cheering Chris Wallace for the questions he asked David Plouffe. The transcript of the interview can be found at the Fox News Sunday website

The discussion was about President Obama’s deficit reduction plan.

In the interview David Plouffe stated:

...But absent tax reform, the president believe the right way to get our fiscal house in order is ask the wealthy to pay their fair share. But he is going to continue, as he has throughout his presidency, push to cut taxes for the middle class folks so that they obviously can weather this economy turn better, but also allows them to help the economy by being able to consume more.

 Chris Wallace replied:

 But, Mr. Plouffe, what you are talking about $200 billion in tax cuts that end in the next 15 months. You’re talking about $2 trillion in tax increases that will go on for next decade. Between his jobs plan — and I want to break this down because it’s important — between his jobs plan and cutting the deficit, the president wants $1.5 trillion in new taxes over the next decade.

Let’s put it up on the screen — letting the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy expire, $866 billion; limiting the deductions for families making $250,000 a year, $410 billion; closing loopholes and tax breaks, $300 billion. And on top of that — on top of that, $1.5 trillion, another $500 billion in new taxes to pay for Obamacare, for a total of $2 trillion.

These are the facts that need to be repeated as the President claims that he is planning to raise taxes ONLY on the ‘rich.’

Chris Wallace also pointed out in the interview:

…$1 trillion of the $1 trillion in deficit reduction the president calls for in his plan is for not continuing to fight the wars in Iran and Afghanistan. The president is cutting money that wasn’t going to be spent anyway, instead of cutting of money that was.

The President’s jobs bill is all smoke and mirrors. It needs to be soundly defeated in Congress.


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What Happens If You Opt Out Of Social Security ?

Merrill Matthews at the Wall Street Journal posted an article on Saturday detailing what has happened to three Texas counties that opted out of Social Security thirty years ago.

The article reports:

…Now, 30 years on, county workers in those three jurisdictions retire with more money and have better death and disability supplemental benefits. And those three counties—unlike almost all others in the United States—face no long-term unfunded pension liabilities.

Since 1981 and 1982, workers in Galveston, Matagorda and Brazoria Counties have seen their retirement savings grow every year, even during the Great Recession. The so-called Alternate Plan of these three counties doesn’t follow the traditional defined-benefit or defined-contribution model. Employee and employer contributions are actively managed by a financial planner—in this case, First Financial Benefits, Inc., of Houston, which originated the plan in 1980 and has managed it since its adoption. I call it a “banking model.”

If the states are laboratories for the federal government, I think we just had a successful test in the laboratory.

The article further points out:

If a worker participating in Social Security dies before retirement, he loses his contribution (though part of that money might go to surviving children or a spouse who didn’t work). But a worker in the Alternate Plan owns his account, so the entire account belongs to his estate. There is also a disability benefit that pays immediately upon injury, rather than waiting six months plus other restrictions, as under Social Security.

The concept here is that the money invested belongs to the person–not the government–that’s why the plan works!

The article also mentions:

The Alternate Plan could be adopted today by the six million public employees in the U.S.—roughly 25% of the total—who are part of state and local government retirement plans that are outside of Social Security (and are facing serious unfunded liability problems). Unfortunately this option is available only to those six million public employees, since in 1983 Congress barred all others from leaving Social Security. 

Congress has been spending Social Security payroll deductions on other things. That is part of the problem. It is time to take the money out of the hands of Congress and give it back to the people it belongs to.

Maybe Rick Perry knows what he is talking about when it comes to Social Security–opting out of Social Security has worked in Texas!

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Even The United Auto Workers Union Is Struggling !

Red Volkswagen Bug

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A website called posted a story on Thursday about the financial situation of the United Auto Workers Union (UAW).

The article points out:

In many ways, the UAW resembles the companies it opposed for so long. The UAW is America’s richest union. One of its biggest assets is its strike fund, which stood at $763 million at the end of 2010. If push comes to shove, a union is as strong as its strike fund. The trouble is: The UAW spends more than it takes in. Increasingly, the union has to dip into the strike fund, the Reuters report says. According to government filings, the UAW liquidated $222 million of investments from 2007 to 2009 to cover the shortfall between expenses and revenue.

The article has charts that illustrate the financial problems of the UAW in recent years. One thing mentioned in the article is the fact that the UAW membership fees have dropped to $30 a month. At the same time, the union is having to spend a great deal of money on organizing as some car manufacturers are no longer in Detroit and are no longer unionized.

A Reuters new story reports:

“Volkswagen AG is paying newly hired workers at its Chattanooga, Tennessee plant $14.50 per hour. That is almost exactly what a second-tier UAW worker would make in Detroit. In a sign of demand for jobs at that pay level, the Chattanooga plant had 85,000 applications for more than 2,000 jobs. VW workers have been promised $19.50 after three years on the job. That is just above the $19.28 per hour maximum that entry-level workers at GM would make over the term of the four-year contract now before workers for ratification.”

That is not good news for the future of the UAW.

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Why Are We Making All This Noise About Straw Polls A Year Before The Election ?

Dewey Defeats Truman

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Many of us are not thriving in President Obama’s economy. I understand that. I also understand that there is something in human nature that wants bad things to end. However, we have somehow descended into a political system that is in campaign mode all the time. The presidential campaign starts the day after a new president is elected. We need to stop that. I realize it gives us more time to size up the candidates, but other than the political junkies, no one will be paying attention until next June anyway. What has happened to our political system?

There was a Republican straw poll in Florida yesterday (the day after the Republican debate). Yesterday’s Washington Times reported that Herman Cain received 37 percent of the more than 2,600 votes cast.

Another Washington Times story posted the numbers for all the candidates:

Herman Cain, 37.1%
Rick Perry, 15.4%
Mitt Romney, 14.0%
Rick Santorum, 10.9%
Ron Paul, 10.4%
Newt Gingrich, 8.4%
Jon Huntsman, 2.3%
Michele Bachmann, 1.5%

William Kristol at the Weekly Standard posted an article partially explaining the results. He points out that even though Rick Perry did not do well in the debate, the disappointed voters did not move their support to Mitt Romney. Mr. Kristol also points out that the debate and straw poll will result in Rick Santorum and Herman Cain both getting more serious consideration by the voters. Mr. Kristol also suggests that a lot of people will be carefully watching Chris Christie’s Reagan Library speech on Tuesday.

The bottom line here is that the debates are not necessarily constructive at this time. They are something of a ‘gotcha’ game where the Democrat party can do opposition research. I really question the wisdom of starting the debate process this early.




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An Email My Husband Received Regarding the 2012 Massachusetts Senate Race

Scott Brown, Republican U.S. Senator represent...

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Dear Robert,

Did you vote for Scott Brown in the past — in 2010 or back when he was a state senator? If so — and if you are not voting for him in 2012, please click here to tell us your story (or pass along to others.) Scott Brown ran as a moderate, but his voting record has been extreme. As the upcoming U.S. Senate election gets off the ground, we want to make sure the voices of former Brown voters are heard in the media. Local PCCC member Cynthia Curtis is a former Brown supporter and independent voter who recently told ABC news she’s “increasingly unsure of what Scott Brown really stands for” while “Elizabeth Warren has spent her life fighting for the middle class and holding businesses accountable for their actions. That’s exactly what we need in Washington.” That’s powerful. And we need more stories like that. So if you’re a former Brown voter who now will vote against him, please click here to let us know! (And please pass this to others.)

Thanks for being a bold progressive.

–Adam Green, Stephanie Taylor, Kristiane Skolmen, and the PCCC team.

This letter is from the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. Haven’t we had enough progressive change?

The only way that I would consider not voting for Scott Brown would be if the Republicans in Massachusetts ran a more conservative candidate. They won’t do that because a more conservative candidate might not be electable. I don’t always agree with Scott Brown, but he used to be my State Senator and I know him to be an honest, thoughtful man. Therefore, I will vote for him in 2012.

Elizabeth Warren, one of the Democrats who is running for the Massachusetts Senate seat against Scott Brown, recently stated:

“You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear: you moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for; you hired workers the rest of us paid to educate; you were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did.”

 Ms. Warren does not mention the financial risks and sacrifices the factory builder was willing to take in order to build that factory or the fact that the factory creates jobs. She also fails to mention that, assuming the business that built the factory was successful, they already pay more than their fair share in taxes. She does not understand what it takes to put people to work (other than for the government). Vote for Ms. Warren if you want a permanent unemployment rate of 9 percent or over. Vote for Scott Brown if you would like to see less government and lower unemployment.

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No CLASS In Obamacare

Kathleen Sebelius

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Yesterday John Hinderaker at Power Line reported that the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act, a part of Obamacare that played a major part in getting the bill through Congress, may never come into existence. The Class Act is described in the article as:

an optional, government-backed, long-term care insurance program that would pay a daily or monthly benefit to enrolled subscribers if they become unable to perform activities of daily living, such as dressing, meal preparation, and personal grooming. 

Because taxpayers had to pay into the program for five years before they were ‘vested,’ the money collected during that first five years was calculated by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) as $70 billion in deficit reduction.

The article reports:

Now, two years later, no one disputes that the Obama administration’s assurances about the viability of the CLASS Act were false. In fact, in February of this year, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testified before Congress that the program is “totally unsustainable” in its current form. So much for the $70 billion in “deficit reduction” that was an rationale for adoption of Obamacare!

It was all done with smoke and mirrors–let’s repeal the whole Obamacare thing!

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If You Are Going To Lie, At Least Do It Well

Today Bob Beauprez posted an article at about the LightSquared scandal. Before I go into the details, I would like to comment that cronyism was easier in Chicago–it wasn’t looked at as closely as it can be in Washington, and if it was discovered, everyone knew how to sweep it under the table without too much effort. Washington sometimes looks at such things a little more carefully.

The question about LightSquared is whether or not the Obama administration interfered with the testimony of witnesses appearing before Congressional committees. There were a number of witnesses from different agencies, but there were some striking coincidences. The article reports:

Further, entire portions of the supposedly independent opinion submitted to a Congressional Oversight Committee regarding LightSquared from four separate government agencies contained “identical language in their written testimony” – a truly remarkable coincidence. 

That’s just laziness on the part of the people involved in skewing the testimony. Couldn’t they at least have been original?

The article further reports:

On September 20, 2011 separate letters were sent to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requesting documents related to the Administration’s involvement with LightSquared.  The letters were signed by Science and Technology Committee Chairman Ralph Hall (TX), James Sensenbrenner (WI), Rep. Broun and four other committee members.  The letters document the apparent attempts to “Tamper with Testimony” and “Muzzling Officials” for possible political objectives.  “Sugarcoating testimony over critical matters that include the lives of Americans is irresponsible, and inevitably raises questions about the Administration’s priorities,” wrote the lawmakers. 

The letters express frustration that earlier requests by the Committee for LightSquared related documents from DHS, NOAA, NIST, and the Commerce Department have been ignored.  The lawmakers also cited the stonewalling by the FCC of Senator Charles Grassley’s request for LightSquared documents made last April, and the refusal of FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski to testify at a Senate hearing. 

The Chicago-way has come to Washington. Let’s evict it in 2012.

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