“To say that the United States should be answerable for twenty-five millions of dollars without knowing whether the ways and means can be provided, and without knowing whether those who are to succeed us will think with us on the subject, would be rash and unjustifiable. Sir, in my opinion, it would be hazarding the public faith in a manner contrary to every idea of prudence.” –James Madison
GOVERNMENT & POLITICS
So This Is Hope ‘n’ Change?
In May, when the federal deficit was projected to be $7 trillion over the next decade, President Barack Obama was asked, “At what point do we run out of money?” His reply was actually rather candid: “Well, we are out of money now,” he said. Last Friday, the administration adjusted its deficit projection — upwards, of course. The White House now says the number will reach $9 trillion, including $1.6 trillion this year and $1.5 trillion next year. So much for The One’s promise to end the years of “borrow and spend” budgeting.
The Congressional Budget Office simultaneously projected a deficit of $7 trillion over the next decade, a lower number because the CBO considers only current law, not White House proposals. The Wall Street Journal reports that “these deficit estimates are driven entirely by more domestic spending and already assume huge new tax increases. CBO predicts that debt held by the public as a share of GDP, which was 40.8% in 2008, will rise to 67.8% in 2019 — and then keep climbing after that. CBO says this is ‘unsustainable,’ but even this forecast may be optimistic.” —-
Among the problems with the White House estimate is that it depends, in part, on raising $640 billion through the cap-and-tax bill as well as another $200 billion in international business taxes. Both bills face opposition in the Senate, even from some Democrats. And these new taxes aren’t guaranteed to produce more federal revenue. Instead, we can count on cap-and-tax to depress the economy, resulting in less revenue. The White House already expects unemployment to hit 10 percent this year.
The CBO estimate, meanwhile, is based on the ridiculous premise that Congress will hold spending to the rate of inflation. The Journal remarks, “CBO actually has overall spending falling between 2009 and 2012, which is less likely than an asteroid hitting the Earth.” The CBO also assumes that all of the Bush tax cuts will expire, even those for lower and middle class families.
Finally, the president’s crown jewel, ObamaCare, projected to cost at least $1 trillion over the next 10 years, is entirely omitted from the deficit estimate because Obama pledges that it won’t add to the deficit. Next, he’ll be trying to sell us some oceanfront property in Arizona.
From the ‘Non Compos Mentis’ File
Speaking of Arizona, at a town hall meeting in his home state, sometimes-Republican Sen. John McCain was asked by an audience member, “I would like to know how the president is getting by with all of this money. It’s against the Constitution. Doesn’t he know we still live under a Constitution?” The transcript follows (hat tip to Rush Limbaugh):
McCain: I’m sure that he does. I’m sure –
McCain: No, no, I’m serious. I’m sure that he does and I’m sure that he respects the Constitution of the United States.
McCain: No, no, no, no. No, I — I — I — I really do. I — I am absolutely convinced of it.
Audience Member: No!
McCain: I just believe, my friends, that there is a fundamental difference in philosophy and about the role of government. That’s why we have competition for public office and competition amongst parties and competition about different ideas and visions for the future of America. I am convinced the president is absolutely sincere in his beliefs.
McCain: But he’s — wait a minute. Wait a minute. He is sincere in his beliefs. We just — we just happen to disagree, and he’s the president of the United States and let’s be respectful.
In a friendlier atmosphere on ABC’s “This Week,” McCain said, “I look at this as an opportunity right now. …[W]ouldn’t it be a good idea for us Republicans and Democrats to sit down with the president? … There’s so many areas that we are in agreement on.”
In a nutshell, that’s why McCain lost in November. He just doesn’t get it.
‘Win One for Teddy’
Predictably, Democrats and their accomplices in the Leftmedia began using the death of Sen. Ted Kennedy to rally the troops for a government takeover of health care. Oddly enough, radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh predicted last March that the bill would soon be known as the “Ted Kennedy Memorial Health Care Bill.” As National Review’s Jonah Goldberg notes, “At the time, the official position of the Democratic Party was outrage and disgust.” Now Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), the only senator having occupied office longer than Kennedy, has fulfilled Rush’s prediction by proposing the legislation be named after Kennedy. Goldberg observes, “[T]his suggests that either Democrats already had the idea when Limbaugh floated it, which would mean their protests were just so much opportunistic and cynical posturing, or they actually got the idea from Limbaugh himself, which would be too ironic for a Tom Wolfe novel.”
Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto adds that Democrats “propose to brush aside the public revolt against ObamaCare, seize control over one-sixth of the economy, and give government life-or-death powers over all Americans — all so that they can pay tribute to their dead colleague. Haven’t they heard of a nonbinding resolution? … It’s hard to imagine anything more outrageously self-indulgent than for [Kennedy's] erstwhile colleagues to pay tribute to him by imposing on everyone an expensive, unpopular and potentially deadly scheme of social control. Could Washington be more out of touch?”
Former vice president Al Gore put in his two cents: “Ted would want nothing more than for his colleagues to continue his life’s work and to make real his dream of quality health care for all Americans.” That’s true. Why else would one of Kennedy’s last acts be so blatantly partisan? As we noted last week, Kennedy fought to change Massachusetts law in 2004 so that Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican, couldn’t appoint a Republican to replace John Kerry should the latter have won the presidential election. Just before his death, however, Kennedy pushed to have the law changed back so Democrat Gov. Deval Patrick could appoint a Democrat. ObamaCare, after all, may depend on that 60th vote. Still, as even The New York Times editorialized, “To change back now would look like an unseemly amount of partisanship.”
ObamaCare is Big Brother Legislation
We regularly draw attention to provisions in the health care bill guaranteed to make stomachs turn. This week is no different. “Section 431(a) of the bill says that the IRS must divulge taxpayer identity information, including the filing status, the modified adjusted gross income, the number of dependents, and ‘other information as is prescribed by’ regulation,” CBS News reports. “That information will be provided to the new Health Choices Commissioner and state health programs and used to determine who qualifies for ‘affordability credits.'”
But wait, there’s more. CBS says, “Section 245(b)(2)(A) says the IRS must divulge tax return details — there’s no specified limit on what’s available or unavailable — to the Health Choices Commissioner. The purpose, again, is to verify ‘affordability credits.’ Section 1801(a) says that the Social Security Administration can obtain tax return data on anyone who may be eligible for a ‘low-income prescription drug subsidy’ but has not applied for it.”
Such intrusion comes with the territory — let the federal government provide for such personal things as health care, and one can expect to encounter unfavorable regulations and privacy violations in the name of countering fraud.
But at least some Republicans get it: Here’s Rep. Mike Rogers (MI) explaining the false choices before us.
Meanwhile, not that it’s news, but the Leftmedia is securely in the pocket of the Democrat Party. While ABC News contributed a prime-time slot to the never-ending Obama campaign in June so that the president could sell his health care plan, it’s no surprise that the network has refused to run an ad by the non-partisan League of American Voters. ABC labeled the ad, which aims to highlight the truth about ObamaCare, “partisan.” Spokeswoman Susan Sewell said, “The ABC Television Network has a long-standing policy that we do not sell time for advertising that presents a partisan position on a controversial public issue.” No word on whether she said that with a straight face.
“I’m a Marine Corps vet. And, like you, I did swear an oath to defend my Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. … Now, I heard you say tonight … that you’re going to let us keep our health insurance. Well, thank you. It’s not your right to decide whether or not I keep my current plan or not. That’s my decision. … I’ve heard recently in the media you and some other people on the national political stage call us ‘brown shirts’ because we oppose [government health care]. … A little history lesson: The Nazis were the National Socialist Party. They were leftists. They took over the finance. They took over the car industry. They took over health care in that country. If Nancy Pelosi wants to find a swastika, maybe the first place she should look is the sleeve of her own arm. … What I want to know is, as a Marine, as a disabled veteran that served this country, I’ve kept my oath. Do you ever intend to keep yours?” –Marine Corps vet David Hedrick at a town hall meeting in Clark County, Washington, speaking (with resounding applause) to Democrat Rep. Brian Baird
Cash for Kitchens and Criminals
On top of soaring deficits, Business Week highlights more outlandish federal spending: a “$300 million cash-for-clunkers-type federal program to boost sales of energy-efficient home appliances.” Rebates of $50 to $200 will be available this fall for the purchase of such appliances. “These rebates will help families make the transition to more efficient appliances, making purchases that will directly stimulate the economy,” claimed Energy Secretary Steven Chu. Still, dishwashers aren’t quite as cool as cars…
In other news, “The federal government sent about 3,900 economic stimulus payments of $250 each this spring to people who were in no position to use the money to help stimulate the economy: prison inmates, reports the Associated Press. “The checks were part of the massive economic recovery package approved by Congress and President Barack Obama in February.” Prisons returned about 1,700 checks, but 2,200 inmates got to keep the money because they weren’t incarcerated in any one of the three months prior to the so-called stimulus being enacted. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) quipped, “Taxpayers already believe the inmates are running the asylum in Washington. Now it appears they are being compensated for their efforts.”
From the Left: Rangel’s Latest Ethics Lapse
Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) recently amended his 2007 financial disclosure report, adding $500,000 in previously unreported assets. Small oversight. Among the additions were a Congressional Federal Credit Union account valued at $250,000, an investment account valued at $250,000, real estate in New Jersey and various corporate stocks. Rangel is already a poster child for ethics lapses, and he currently faces a number of investigations for tax evasion, improper use of his office and violating New York City rent control laws. Although it’s unlikely that true justice will be served in such a hyper-partisan atmosphere, Rangel’s image has been tarnished as his troubles continue to mount. In addition, he’s had to assemble plenty of financial and political resources toward fighting the allegations, thereby reducing his ability to support liberal causes. Shucks!
Republicans have asked him to step down as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee while these investigations are taking place, but Rangel has refused. Naturally, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has stood by his refusal, although in the past she has called for Republicans in less egregious circumstances to relinquish leadership roles. So much for San Fran Nan’s incessant vows to clean up the “culture of corruption.” If it weren’t for double standards, liberals wouldn’t have any.
On Tuesday, Letalvis Cobbins was convicted of first degree murder in the infamous Knoxville slayings reported by Mark Alexander. He is the first of four defendants to face trial for the double murder of Christopher Newsom and Channon Christian in Jan. 2007. The following day, he was spared the death penalty and instead sentenced to life without parole — and Tennessee taxpayers were sentenced to between $70,000 and $100,000 per year to support him. Still, one down, three to go.
The War on the CIA
On Monday, the Obama administration opened up a new, multi-pronged front in their war on America’s security. The White House announced that a special terrorism interrogation team, supervised by the White House and restricted to using the relatively benign Army Field Manual’s interrogation guidelines, would be created to take the lead from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) on terrorist interrogations. Also, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Department of Justice (DOJ) would reopen some terrorist detainee abuse cases, which could expose current or former CIA employees and contractors to prosecution for alleged “torture” of terrorism suspects.
Holder’s decision was supported by the DOJ’s laughably titled Office of Professional Responsibility, which has been whining about the CIA for five years and now has an advocate in Obama’s America-hating Attorney General. The DOJ also released a 2004 report — held up for security reasons — that described the CIA’s interrogation and detention techniques. CIA Director Leon Panetta, who has at least tried to stand up for his people, reportedly was so upset at the CIA being made a left-wing target that he threatened to resign. After all, as The Wall Street Journal writes, “Interrogations were carefully limited, briefed on Capitol Hill, and yielded information that saved innocent lives.”
The ultimate result of targeting the CIA will be a hesitant, demoralized intelligence agency. But since when has Obama cared about national security?
ACLU Aids the Enemy
Speaking of treasonous actions, it appears that photographs of CIA personnel, including covert officers, were unlawfully shown by defense attorneys to terrorist detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, some of whom are charged with organizing the 9/11 attacks. Justice Department investigators are looking to see if laws protecting classified information were broken when three lawyers showed their terrorist clients the photographs. Apparently, the lawyers were trying to identify CIA officers and contractors involved in the interrogation of al-Qa’ida suspects in facilities outside the United States, where the agency employed harsh questioning techniques.
The photos allegedly were taken by researchers hired by a horrendously misnamed outfit called the John Adams Project, a joint effort of the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Both groups have said that they will investigate the CIA’s interrogation program at “black sites” worldwide in order to defend their clients and, no doubt as an added plus for them, further damage our national security. But Justice Department investigators are now looking into whether this group went too far (ya think?) by showing photos of CIA officers, in some cases secretly taken outside the officers’ homes, to the terrorist detainees. The ACLU finds it abominable for someone to take photos of abortionists outside their homes, but thinks it’s just peachy to do the same with people entrusted with saving lives.
In other news, on Monday, the same day Obama decided to target our own CIA, a terror suspect captured on the battlefield and charged with attempting to murder two U.S. soldiers returned home to Afghanistan after being released by a federal judge, who ruled that his confession was inadmissible. The White House had declined to appeal the ruling. A clueless ACLU attorney righteously thundered, “We are pleased that the Justice Department has expressed a commitment to getting him home so that this nightmare of abuse and injustice can finally come to an end.” We can only hope that when this terrorist is again found on the battlefield, U.S. soldiers end his “nightmare of abuse and injustice” permanently.
Warfront With Jihadistan: Afghan Election
Results from Afghanistan’s presidential election last week are yet to be determined, but current President Hamid Karzai maintains a slight edge over former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah. As is typical with a Middle East election, Abdullah is claiming to have evidence of election fraud committed by Karzai’s team, including video of polling stations where people were marking one ballot after another. “There is now no doubt that state-engineered fraud has been underway,” said Abdullah. Karzai, of course, alleges similar fraud on his opponent’s part. At any rate, it appears that the October runoff will be necessary as neither candidate looks like he will reach the required 50.1 percent of the vote.
Now that Obama has taken ownership of the war in Afghanistan as the only one worth winning, and our troops numbers there are double now what they once were, an election seen as illegitimate would be a setback for him. On top of that, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that the military situation in Afghanistan “is serious, and it is deteriorating, and I’ve said that over the past couple of years — that the Taliban insurgency has gotten better, more sophisticated.” Indeed, 2009 has been the deadliest year of the war there so far for American troops. The Pentagon is expected to request between 15,000 and 45,000 more troops. All things considered, President Obama may find it hard to fight and win the war in Afghanistan if, as he has declared, there’s no such thing as the War on Terror.
BUSINESS & ECONOMY
In Bernanke We Trust
After meeting with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke for less than 15 minutes, President Obama announced he would nominate him for a second four-year term. With all the political subtlety we have come to expect from this administration, the timing of this item was intended to serve as a distraction from the White House’s aforementioned announcement that President Obama and Congress added 22 percent ($2 trillion) to the national debt in the first eight months they have held power.
The president cited Bernanke’s “bold action and outside-the-box thinking that has helped put the brakes on our economic freefall.” However, under Bernanke, the Fed is running a close race against the inflation clock by cutting short-term interest rates nearly to zero, bypassing banks to open frozen credit markets and seeking the purchase of $1.25 trillion in devalued mortgage-backed securities. Once inflation gets started, the Fed must act swiftly to raise interest rates and keep inflation in check. Most economists believe rates must increase by mid-2010, which may prove inconvenient for Democrats’ re-election chances.
Beyond interest rates, the Fed has printed close to $2 trillion in new money, and as renowned economist Uncle Scrooge explained on Disney’s “Duck Tales,” creating money out of thin air causes inflation. It’s these and other mistakes that led Joseph Lawler of The American Spectator to call Bernanke’s reappointment “Failure Rewarded.”
Climate Change This Week: The Rich Must Pay
Under the guise of improving the world, underneath all the spin, “progressives” usually want to tear something down so they can remake the world in their image. How refreshing it is on the rare occasions they actually admit this — at least then we know what we’re dealing with. In a recent interview with the BBC, Greenpeace leader Gerd Leipold admitted that a goal of the envirofacists is to destroy the rich. “The lifestyle of the rich in the world,” Leipold said, “is not a sustainable model.” By extension, neither is the U.S. — the richest country in the world. Leipold and his drones are calling for the suppression of economic growth in America in order to stop climate change. Obama’s got his back.
But even halting our growth is not good enough. African leaders are also calling for rich countries to hand over $67 billion dollars a year to offset the effects of global warming on that continent. And the creative ideas keep coming. Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, citing pollution in the Northwestern hemisphere, is calling for compensation for the famines in his country during the 1980s — apparently he has found scientists to blame us for that, too.
Obama Supports Brazilian Oil Exploration
The Obama administration recently approved a $2 billion loan to Petrobras, Brazil’s state-owned oil company, so that it can drill for oil offshore near Rio de Janeiro. Apparently, Obama’s environmentalist allies aren’t worried about the environmental “impact” in South America. The move confounds all logic and serves as another shining example of the president’s wrong-headed view of energy and the economy. The president has claimed he wants to make America energy independent, but he has to date opposed the expansion of domestic and offshore drilling — indeed, virtually everything he says and does will result in the opposite of energy independence. That includes using American taxpayer money to provide a loan for a foreign oil company — a company which happens to be one of the largest in the Western Hemisphere — so it can drill for oil in its own waters and sell it back to the U.S. for a handsome profit. The only part that’s missing in this plan is the explanation about how it’s supposed to benefit the American people.
Around the Nation: Shutdown in Rhode Island
As the latest casualty of state budget shortfalls, about 80 percent of Rhode Island’s 13,550 state workers have been assigned 12 furlough days. While the employees’ services will not be needed, however, their salaries will be. It’s all part of an effort to deliver $67.8 million in cuts included in the recently passed budget, and it’s expected to generate about $22 million in savings. Republican Gov. Don Carcieri noted, “There are going to be inconveniences for the public, and … sacrifices … for state employees.” He added, “These steps … are unavoidable if the state is to live … within its means.”
The $67.8 million gap joins a $65 million shortfall for the fiscal year that ended on June 30. And with one of the highest state and local tax burdens in the nation, Rhode Island joins a growing list of states hit by the reality that the taxpayer-funded budget well only runs so deep.
CULTURE & POLICY
Second Amendment: Beware Permit Holders
Concealed handgun permit holders are the target of a recent report issued by the Violence Policy Center, an anti-gun advocacy organization that says, “Gun violence is more than a crime issue; it is a broad-based public health crisis of which crime is merely the most recognized aspect.” The report, entitled “Law Enforcement and Private Citizens Killed by Concealed Handgun Permit Holders,” is quite possibly the shoddiest piece of investigative research available — an obvious effort to manipulate a particular set of circumstances to support the Center’s efforts to undermine Second Amendment rights. The report relies on news stories rather than hard data to support its claims that between May 2007 and April 2009, permit holders were responsible for the deaths of 51 people.
As Bob Owens of Pajamas Media notes in his analysis, “Of the 31 incidents cited by the Violence Policy Center in its report, eight did not involve the use of concealed weapons. One used no weapon at all, four used rifles, one was a negligent discharge, and three were incidents of domestic violence where non-concealed handguns were used.” Owens concludes, “All told, 30 of the 57 people that the Violence Policy Center suggested were killed as a result of concealed carry should not have been included in any study citing concealed carry of handguns as a significant contributing factor.”
The VPC is funded to the tune of $700,000 per year by The Joyce Foundation, where Barack Obama served as director from 1994-2002. In 1999, Joyce began a significant attack on 2nd Amendment rights, a move that ultimately had bearing in the Heller Supreme Court appeal. While Obama maintains that he supports individual Second Amendment rights, the actions of the Joyce Foundation that he directed, and the latest attempt by the VPC to tag concealed carry permit holders as the villains, should serve as a reminder that the Left will never stop trying to subvert our fundamental constitutional rights.
Faith and Family: Lutherans Toss Out Scripture
The intrusion of politics into religion has theologians on both sides of the aisle debating the future of religion in America and around the world. Last Friday, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America voted to allow homosexuals in same-sex relationships to serve as clergy, causing widespread speculation about whether the denomination will survive. Although congregations will not be forced to hire homosexual clergy, ELCA conservatives are afraid, not only that many members will leave, but of a larger split in the church internationally. European and Scandinavian Lutherans are more liberal than Americans when it comes to homosexuality, while Africans and Asians are more conservative.
The ELCA is not the first church to deviate from Scripture on this subject. The Episcopalian Church recently approved a similar resolution, which has caused tension and strife with the larger Anglican Communion of which it is a part. The United Methodist Church, on the other hand, has become somewhat more conservative on the subject, possibly to reflect its growing membership in the more conservative South and Sunbelt.
Liberals are overjoyed by the Evangelical Lutherans’ decision, much as they are when they twist the Constitution to conform to their “progressive” ideals. “The society is in the process of changing its collective mind about the moral status of same-sex relationships,” stated Barbara Wheeler, former president of the Autumn Theological Seminary in New York City, “and there’s a parallel theological movement.”
Religious scholars are claiming that this is part of a larger religious upheaval, one in which politics will play a role. “I think we’re coming up on an epic reorganization of religion in the United States,” said Mark Jordan, a professor at Harvard Divinity School. “What we’re going to see going forward is more and smaller churches, loosely organized and federated around a progressive pole or a conservative pole.” What about churches organized around the authority of the Bible? Anyone ever heard of that?
UN Wants to Sexualize Children
Warning: Graphic UN content. Most five-year-olds can’t spell “masturbation,” but if the UN has its way, he or she will soon know exactly what it means and how to do it. The “International Guidelines on Sexual Education,” issued by the United Nations Economic, Social and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA), gives supposedly “age-appropriate” guidelines under which 5- to 8-year-olds learn that “[t]ouching and rubbing one’s genitals is called masturbation” and that “girls and boys have private body parts that can feel pleasurable when touched by oneself;” 9- to 12-year-olds hear about “the definition and function of orgasm;” and 12- to 15-year-olds get guidance on “access to safe abortion and post-abortion care.”
According to the report, “all young people” are “entitle[d] … to sexuality education,” and as proof, the report cites none other than the International Planned Parenthood Federation, which claims “sexuality education is an integral component to human rights.” UNESCO defended the document, arguing that “children and young people … have both a need for and an entitlement to knowledge and information.”
Predictably, however, the report criticizes abstinence-only programs as “fear-based,” and “designed to control young people’s sexual behavior by instilling fear, shame, and guilt.” Apparently, knowledge “entitlement” ends where morality begins. Isn’t it about time for the U.S. to stop funding this sham organization?
Despite having vast majorities in both houses and the major media, Democrats in Congress are having quite a bit of trouble passing ObamaCare. So Speaker Nancy Pelosi is out to raise $100,000 by the end of August to help combat the GOP’s “outrageous smears.” Perhaps she means smears like saying that the protesters are “Astroturf” as opposed to real grassroots, and that they’re “carrying swastikas and symbols like that.” Oh, wait — that was Pelosi herself who said those things. Never mind.
But let’s get this straight: Pelosi wants to use other people’s money to beat back “smears” (a.k.a. principled opposition) to a plan to take money from those who earned it and give it to those who didn’t. And all in the name of “compassion.” Ain’t Washington grand?
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