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The Great Depression that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke claims to have averted has been part of the background radiation of our economy since at least 2008.
It’s just that, like radiation, it’s invisible.
We’ve called it the recovery, the jobless recovery, the slogging recovery and more recently the fading recovery. We’ve measured modest growth in our nation’s gross domestic product to record that our so-called Great Recession ended in June 2009. And now we are saying that if this disappointing growth suddenly disappears, as currently feared, we will be in a new recession.
There is nothing more depressing than hearing about a new recession when you haven’t fully recovered from the last one. I take heart in suspecting that in a still-distant future, historians will look back with clarity and call this whole rotten period a depression.
The precise definition of a depression, of course, remains as debatable as anything else in the field of economics. By some definitions, it is a long-term slump in economic activity, often characterized by unusually high unemployment, a banking crisis, a sovereign-debt crisis, surprising bankruptcies and other horrible symptoms we can find in the headlines almost every day.
WASHINGTON – Earlier today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation to prevent an across-the-board tax increase on families and job creators, set to take effect in January 2013. The legislation comes on the heels of analyses that the President’s proposed tax increases would adversely impact job creation and economic growth.
Following a bipartisan House vote to prevent a massive tax increase, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin issued the following statement:
“The results are unmistakable: the President’s insistence on taking more from hardworking taxpayers to fuel ever-higher Washington spending is not working. Economic growth has slowed to 1.5 percent and unemployment is stuck above 8 percent. Now the White House and leading Senate Democrats want to double down on these policies with massive tax increases that will hit small businesses, not to pay down the debt but to simply chase unsustainable spending increases. There is bipartisan opposition to this failed approach, and to provide certainty and confidence for job creators, the time to act is now.
“The House took action today to protect families and workers from a massive tax increase, which the Congressional Budget Office warned would push our economy into another recession.
“I applaud the leadership of House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp and my colleagues in Congress for their efforts to stop the President’s massive tax increase, while paving the way forward for pro-growth tax reform. Keeping tax rates low, cutting spending, and advancing fundamental reforms to our government’s structural budget challenges are the keys to get America back on track.”
(Las Vegas, NV) – Dean Heller today released his first Spanish ad, “Credit.” The ad shows how seven-term Congresswoman Shelley Berkley has been trying to mislead Nevadans, spreading the “Lie of the Year” about Medicare and taking credit for legislation she didn’t write. To view the ad, click here.
“Dean Heller is committed to working for every vote and making sure every Nevadan understands the clear difference between him and seven-term Congresswoman Shelley Berkley,” said Chandler Smith, Heller for Senate spokeswoman.
The transcript and justification for the ad is provided below, in both Spanish and English:
Transcript for “Credit” in Spanish:
Heller: Soy Dean Heller y apruebo este mensaje.
Announcer: ¿Quién se atribuiría algo que no hizo?
¿Quién haría una rueda de prensa?
¿Avisar a los medios?
La congresista Shelley Berkley.
Ella se atribuye iniciativas de ley que no son suyas.
Su ataque a Dean Heller por el Medicare fue nombrada la “Mentira del Año” por un grupo regulador independiente.
¿Atribuyéndose algo que no hizo?
¿Mentira del Año?
¿Y ahora quiere ser nuestra senadora?
Transcript for “Credit” in English:
Heller: I’m Dean Heller and I approve this message.
Announcer: Who would take credit for something they didn’t do?
Hold a press conference?
Alert the media?
Congresswoman Shelley Berkley.
She took credit for legislation she didn’t even write.
Her Medicare attack against Dean Heller named “Lie of the Year” by an independent watchdog group.
Taking credit for something you didn’t do?
Lie of the year?
And now she wants to be our Senator.
1) Reclamación: ¿Quién se atribuiría algo que no hizo? ¿Quién haría una rueda de prensa o le avisaría a los medios? La congresista Shelley Berkley. Ella se atribuye iniciativas de ley que no son suyas.
· La Biblioteca del Congreso muestra que el Representante Mike Quigley (IL-5) introdujo la ley de reforma y seguridad mejorada del programa exención de visado el 31 de enero de 2012. También muestra que Shelley Berkley co-patrocinó el proyecto de ley a los pocos días antes de que ella convocó una conferencia de prensa para tomar crédito por el Representante Quigley el 12 de marzo de 2012. (www.thomas.gov)
· En la rueda de prensa del 12 de marzo, Shelley Berkley promovió la legislación como su propia idea: “Usted puede notar que un legislador está en una elección cercana cuando su campaña comienza a reclamar el crédito de la legislación que ella no escribió. Esto es lo que está ocurriendo hoy con la congresista Shelley Berkley, quien es candidato para el Senado contra el Senador Dean Heller, mientras ella toma el crédito del alcalde Carolyn Goodman y otras figuras de Las Vegas para elogiar lo que su campaña llama su propuesta de prolongación del programa de exención de visado. Pero la medida que la campaña anuncia como ‘la propuesta de Berkley’ y ‘legislación de Berkley’ no es la suya: el Representante Mike Quigley, un demócrata de Illinois, escribió el proyecto de ley”.
Citation: Karoun Demirjian, “Berkley touts bill she didn’t write,” Politico, March 13, 2012; Karoun Demirjian, “What her campaign calls ‘Berkley’s legislation’ isn’t really hers,” Las Vegas Sun, March 12, 2012.
2) Reclamación: Su ataque a Dean Heller por el Medicare fue nombrada la “Mentira del Año” por un grupo regulador independiente.
Documentación: “PolitiFact desacreditó el cargo falso de Medicare en nueve diferentes averiguaciones en las que fueron calificados como falso…ahora, PolitiFact ha elegido la reclamación de los demócratas como la mentira del año en el 2011″.
Citation: Bill Adair, Angie Drobnic Holan, “Lie of the Year: Republicans Voted to End Medicare,” PolitiFact.com, Dec. 20, 2011.
3) Reclamación: ¿Atribuyéndose algo que no hizo? ¿Mentira del Año? ¿Y ahora quiere ser nuestra senadora?
Documentación: Ninguna verificación adicional necesaria.
1) Claim: “Who would take credit for something they didn’t do? Hold a press conference? Alert the media? Congresswoman Shelley Berkley. She took credit for legislation she didn’t even write.”
· The Library of Congress’ congressional database THOMAS shows that Rep. Mike Quigley (IL-5) introduced the Visa Waiver Program Enhanced Security and Reform Act on January 31, 2012. It also shows that Shelley Berkley cosponsored the bill a few days before she called a press conference to take credit for Quigley’s bill on March 12, 2012. (www.thomas.gov)
· At the March 12th press conference, Shelley Berkley touted the legislation as her own: “You can tell a lawmaker is in a close race when her campaign starts claiming credit for legislation she didn’t write. That’s what’s happening today with Rep. Shelley Berkley, who is running for Senate against Sen. Dean Heller, as she trots out Mayor Carolyn Goodman and other Las Vegas figures to praise what the campaign is calling her proposed expansion of the visa waiver program…But the measure the campaign is trumpeting as ‘Berkley’s proposed expansion’ and ‘Berkley’s legislation’ isn’t hers: Rep. Mike Quigley, a Democrat from Illinois, wrote the bill.”
Citation: Karoun Demirjian, “Berkley touts bill she didn’t write,” Politico, March 13, 2012; Karoun Demirjian, “What her campaign calls ‘Berkley’s legislation’ isn’t really hers,” Las Vegas Sun, March 12, 2012.
2) Claim: “Her Medicare attack against Dean Heller? Named Lie of the Year by an independent watchdog group.”
Documentation: “PolitiFact debunked the Medicare charge in nine separate fact-checks rated False…most often in attacks leveled against Republican House members. Now, PolitiFact has chosen the Democrats’ claim as the 2011 Lie of the Year.”
Citation: Bill Adair, Angie Drobnic Holan, “Lie of the Year: Republicans Voted to End Medicare,” PolitiFact.com, Dec. 20, 2011.
3) Claim: “Taking credit for something you didn’t do? Lie of the Year? And now she wants to be our Senator? Seriously?”
Documentation: No additional verification necessary.
Full stories below:
Berkley touts bill she didn’t write
Karoun Demirjian – Las Vegas Sun
March 13, 2012
You can tell a lawmaker is in a close race when her campaign starts claiming credit for
legislation she didn’t write.
That’s what’s happening today with Nevada Rep. Shelley Berkley, who is running for
Senate against Sen. Dean Heller, as she trots out Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman
and other figures to praise what the campaign is calling her proposed expansion of the
Visa Waiver Program.
An expansion of the Visa Waiver Program would make it easier for tourists from more
countries to come to the United States.
But the measure the campaign is trumpeting as “Berkley’s proposed expansion” and
“Berkley’s legislation” isn’t hers: Rep. Mike Quigley, a Democrat from Illinois, wrote the bill.
The legislation (H.R. 3855), according to Quigley, seeks to “modernize” the “outdated” Visa
Waiver Program that lets citizens of certain countries come to the United States for as long
as 90 days visa-free. So far, 36 countries have earned this distinction; by changing the way
eligibility is determined, the legislation would very likely expand that pool.
It’s an initiative Quigley has attempted to get through Congress before, and one Berkley
has long supported. But she never wrote the legislation — only signed on as a co-sponsor.
Last month, Berkley spoke on the House floor about her support for legislation expanding
the Visa Waiver Program, though she didn’t mention the bill specifically.
“Increasing foreign travel through the Visa Waiver Program will ensure that Nevada’s cities
remain among the top tourist destinations in the world,” she said.
“The answer for tourism-dependent states like Nevada is simple: It will put people back to
work,” Berkley said, as she encouraged members of the House to “join me in creating,
making job creation our top priority.”
It’s fairly common practice for lawmakers who sign on to the bill to take some credit, at least
for sponsoring and promoting the legislation. But according to the main online database of
congressional bills, Berkley signed on to this year’s bill just last Friday — the last among
the 35 co-sponsors to sign on to the bill, which was filed Jan. 31. Nevada Republican Rep.
Joe Heck signed onto the legislation in early February.
Berkley campaign spokesman Eric Koch said the recorded late registration was due to a
“mess-up in Thomas” — www.thomas.gov is Congress’s chief online record of legislative
activity. Koch confirmed that Quigley’s H.R. 3855 is the legislation she would be promoting
at her event and dismissed any suggestion that the campaign was overplaying Berkley’s
role in crafting the legislation.
“She’s a co-sponsor, and she’s promoting it,” Koch said.
Karoun Demirjian writes for the Las Vegas Sun. The Las Vegas Sun and POLITICO are
partnering to cover the 2012 presidential race.
Lie of the Year 2011: ‘Republicans voted to end Medicare’
Bill Adair, Angie Drobnic Holan
December 20th, 2011
Republicans muscled a budget through the House of Representatives in April that they said would take an important step toward reducing the federal deficit. Introduced by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the plan kept Medicare intact for people 55 or older, but dramatically changed the program for everyone else by privatizing it and providing government subsidies.
Democrats pounced. Just four days after the party-line vote, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released a Web ad that said seniors will have to pay $12,500 more for health care “because Republicans voted to end Medicare.”
Rep. Steve Israel of New York, head of the DCCC, appeared on cable news shows and declared that Republicans voted to “terminate Medicare.” A Web video from the Agenda Project, a liberal group, said the plan would leave the country “without Medicare” and showed a Ryan look-alike pushing an old woman in a wheelchair off a cliff. And just last month, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi sent a fundraising appeal that said: “House Republicans’ vote to end Medicare is a shameful act of betrayal.”
After two years of being pounded by Republicans with often false charges about the 2010 health care law, the Democrats were turning the tables.
PolitiFact debunked the Medicare charge in nine separate fact-checks rated False or Pants on Fire, most often in attacks leveled against Republican House members.
Now, PolitiFact has chosen the Democrats’ claim as the 2011 Lie of the Year.
It’s the third year in a row that a health care claim has won the dubious honor. In 2009, the winner was the Republicans’ charge that the Democrats’ health care plan included “death panels.” In 2010, it was that the plan was a “government takeover of health care.”
A complicated and wonky subject with life-or-death consequences, health care is fertile ground for falsehoods. The Democratic attack about “ending Medicare” was a pervasive line in 2011 that preyed on seniors’ worries about whether they could afford health care.
Even when explained accurately, the Republicans’ Medicare plan was not particularly popular with the public, nor with some independent health policy analysts. But the plan was distorted and attacked again and again
“In terms of creating a national conversation about fiscal reform, the last thing we need is demagoguing attacks against people who have put forward serious policy proposals,” said Jason Peuquet, a policy analyst with the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. “It’s very worrying.”
A persistent falsehood
With a few small tweaks to their attack lines, Democrats could have been factually correct, said Norman Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. “I actually think there is no need to cut out the qualifiers and exaggerate,” he said.
At times, Democrats and liberal groups were careful to characterize the Republican plan more accurately. Another claim in the ad from the Agenda Project said the plan would “privatize” Medicare, which received a Mostly True rating from PolitiFact. President Barack Obama was also more precise with his words, saying the Medicare proposal “would voucherize the program and you potentially have senior citizens paying $6,000 more.”
But more often, Democrats and liberals overreached:
[list type="arrow"] [li]
• They ignored the fact that the Ryan plan would not affect people currently in Medicare — or even the people 55 to 65 who would join the program in the next 10 years.
• They used harsh terms such as “end” and “kill” when the program would still exist, although in a privatized system.
• They used pictures and video of elderly people who clearly were too old to be affected by the Ryan plan. The DCCC video that aired four days after the vote featured an elderly man who had to take a job as a stripper to pay his medical bills.
“Both parties use entitlements as political weapons,” Ryan said in an interview with PolitiFact. “Republicans do it to Democrats; Democrats do it to Republicans. So I knew that this would be a political weapon that the other side would use against us.”
Liberal bloggers and columnists contend it’s accurate to say Republicans voted to end Medicare. Left-leaning websites such as Talking Points Memo, Daily Kos, and The New Republic said PolitiFact’s analysis was wrong, as did New York Times columnist Paul Krugman.
“According to (PolitiFact’s) logic, if the FBI were replaced with a voucher program wherein citizens would receive subsidies for hiring private investigators to look into criminal activity, but the agency running the voucher program were still called the FBI, it would be unfair to say that the FBI had been ended,” wrote Jed Lewison for Daily Kos. “I guess it’s their right to make that argument, but it’s transparently absurd.”
In a blog post, the DCCC stood by its claim, saying the ad accurately stated Ryan’s plan would “abolish” Medicare.
But PolitiFact was not alone. Other independent fact-checkers also said the claim was false.
“Medicare would remain an entitlement program, but it would also be more costly to future beneficiaries. It would not end,” noted FactCheck.org, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. The Washington Post’s Fact Checker concluded that while there’s “a worthwhile debate” about whether Ryan’s proposal should be adopted, “it is not true to claim Republicans are trying to ‘kill’ Medicare.”
The Democratic attacks struck a chord. Polls showed voters were skeptical of the Ryan plan and want Medicare to remain largely the way it is now. That may be why the plan has virtually no prospects of passing the Senate, which voted to shelve the plan. President Obama has indicated he would veto any changes to Medicare that would privatize the program and substantially shift costs to beneficiaries.
How the Ryan plan would work
Under the current Medicare system, the government pays the health care bills for Americans over age 65. Under the Ryan plan, future beneficiaries would be given a credit and invited to shop for an approved plan on a Medicare health insurance exchange. It received overwhelming support from Republicans in a House vote on a budget blueprint.
Starting in 2022, beneficiaries would receive “premium support payments” from the government to help pay for the private insurance. People who need more health care would get a little more money, and high earners would get a little less.
The plan has some guarantees for coverage, although seniors would have to pay more to get the benefits they receive today, according to an analysis completed earlier this year by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
The guarantees: Ryan’s plan requires private insurers to accept all applicants and to charge the same rate for people who are the same age. The plans would comply with standards set by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, which administers the health plans of federal employees. The Medicare eligibility age would rise from 65 to 67, an idea that has received some bipartisan support in the past.
The CBO found that it would save the government money. But it does so by asking future Medicare beneficiaries to pay more for the same benefits.
Ryan says the plan would offer more choice for Medicare participants and increase competition among private insurers to drive down cost.
“I’m a big believer in patient-centered choice, where the beneficiary is the prime decision-maker, which drives competition and innovation, and that’s missing from the status quo, to a large degree,” he said.
It’s not the first time it’s been suggested that Medicare be changed from its current fee-for-service, where the government pays all the bills, to one that uses private insurers. In the past, some Democrats have even favored such proposals, especially if — unlike the Ryan plan – the support was linked to medical inflation, or there were an option for traditional Medicare, or there were more explicit protections for consumers.
Just last week, Ryan agreed to a new framework with Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. Their proposal uses Ryan’s idea for private insurers and exchanges, but it leaves traditional Medicare as an option.
Private insurers already offer Medicare plans under the program Medicare Advantage, though those plans have proven more expensive than traditional Medicare, not less.
The partisan split on health care reveals the contradictions of congressional debate. Republicans were staunchly against the insurance exchanges in the federal health care law. But they endorsed them in the Ryan proposal, even as Democrats switched to oppose the plan.
“Ryan basically proposed the Affordable Care Act for future seniors,” said Jonathan Gruber, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who advised both President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney on health care. “I don’t understand how you can like it for future seniors but not like it for today’s needy uninsured. That doesn’t make any sense.”
Kathleen Hall Jamieson, an expert on campaign advertising who directs the Annenberg center at the University of Pennsylvania, says Democrats have been using falsehoods and exaggerations about Medicare and Social Security since at least 1952. She calls it the longest-running “Democratic deception.”
It fits with a core theme from Democrats that they will use government to protect seniors and needy people, while Republicans supposedly want to cut those programs, she says. It is a scare tactic that works.
“If you’re reliant on Medicare, a suggestion your benefits are going to be cut in any way is a direct, visceral threat,” said Jamieson.
Republicans actually used a version of the attack in 2010, claiming Democrats cut $500 billion from Medicare to pay for Obama’s health care law; the law actually sought to reduce the growth of future spending with a series of efficiency measures. But historically, attacks about Medicare have come from Democrats.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Democrats used images of Social Security cards being torn in half to suggest that Republicans wanted to cut the program. In 1995, Democrats said House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s plan to restructure Medicare would force seniors to pay more and would “wreck” Medicare.
President Bill Clinton vetoed the Republicans’ Medicare bill, and used the issue to pummel GOP nominee Bob Dole in the 1996 campaign.
Gingrich complained at the time that “Medicare is the one issue the left believes they can lie about and demagogue.” He described the Democrats as “totally morally bankrupt” and said, “They are reduced to scaring 85-year-olds.”
The scare tactics are effective because seniors worry about being able to pay their medical bills and Medicare is a vital program for them. Also, seniors represent a large, up-for-grabs voting bloc.
Jonathan Oberlander, a health policy professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, said, “If you can scare seniors that something is going to happen to those programs, there is potentially a huge payoff in votes.”
The Olympics have begun, some thoughts:
Am I the only one who thought the James Bond queen skydiving business was tacky?
If you are going to do pop culture of England over decades, can you do it without a single clip from Dr. Who a series that has been around nearly 50 years?
Michael Phelps broke the record as the greatest Olympic medal winner in history, yet earlier this week people are shocked SHOCKED that Michael Phelps failed to qualify in one of the Olympic races.
Guys he won a ton of medals last time, if he had never won another one he would still be one of the greatest Olympic athletes ever.
I swear the Vatican must be the just about only state that doesn’t field an Olympic team. Then again what event would a priest have time to train for?
I’d actually like to see them in at least once Olympics, I’m sure they would be treated with less deference that certain other states are.
The IOC caved to Arab states by not permitting a moment of silence for the murdered Israeli athletes at the London Olympics.
Jacques Rogge capitulated to the 46-member bloc of Arab and Muslim countries because of the threat of Arab countries to boycott participation in the Games.
Spitzer, who jumpstarted an international campaign to garner a minute of silence at the London games, reported that Rogge told her that “his hands were tied” by the influence of the 46-member group.
Her rejoinder to Rogge: “No, my husband’s hands were tied, not yours.”
If the arabs wanted to leave the game, he should have said: Fine, go, you can return when you learn the difference between barbarism and civilization.
Unfortunately not only was such an impossible thought not forthcoming but at the insistence of the Lebanese team a barrier was erected between them and the Israeli athletes.
This is simple cowardice, it is why the barbarians will continue to approach the gates and will end when the people cry enough, and not before.
Speaking of cowardice the whole Chick–Fil-A business reeks of cowardice and opportunism. Michael Graham noted it best when he pointed out the contradiction of welcoming a mosque that preached death to gays while denouncing a restaurant that supports the actual definition of marriage.
Apparently it’s OK to kill gays as long as you let them marry first.
What was that line from the African queen:
By the authority granted to me by his Imperial Majesty Kaiser Wilhelm the Second I pronounce you man and wife – proceed with the execution.
I was on a radio show this weekend where a caller bluntly said anyone who doesn’t support gay marriage is a racist.
Apparently every US president who ever lived was a racist until recently, so was Barack Obama. So was every member of the media who didn’t back the idea just 20 years ago or less.
There is nothing so intolerant than a tolerant leftist.
On Twitter Dana Loesch noted a comment by the Mayor of Philly
Alternate headline: Philly mayor sez banning biz based on owner’s beliefs is an “American value.”
— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) July 29, 2012
I don’t see why anyone is surprised. I seem to remember the democrats being big on telling people they weren’t welcome if they advanced idea they didn’t like, you know people like James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner,
The real big shock that Amanda Marcotte and Robert Stacy McCain are on the same page concerning restricting Chick-Fil-A, I suppose both are thinking in terms of broken clocks.
There is a lot of fuss being made about Dick Cheney saying Sarah Palin was a bad pick in 2008. I think the anger is misguided for a couple of reasons, first of all to a traditional pol like Cheney that’s not an unreasonable statement, she was certainly less qualified in terms of experience that Joe Biden, but not less qualified that Barack Obama. (However talent-wise she outstripped them both.)
Additionally Cheney has served well, but like everyone makes the occasional mistake, I’m going to go spastic because he happens to get one wrong.
Me I think Palin was an incredible pick, think of all of the races that were won by Palin’s endorsement in 2010 and think of Tuesday. She endorsed Ted Cruz back in May. Monday the MSM was reporting the race was “tight”
Ted Cruz won by 13 points.
That’s Sarah Palin, Political venture capitalist
During the 2008 Race Sarah Palin earned political capital with the voters. She spoke plainly and honestly and won her base over. After the campaign she wrote her best selling book and she and her family found themselves comfortable.
She could have sat back, after all her books and TV series were popular and profitable, she could have held court and been courted by pols all over the country and been a standard visit on the “Pay homage to get elected” tours.
Instead she took her political capital and invested it.
Tip O’Neil used to tell the story of Tom Harkin back when he was in the House, he was in an iffy district for Dems and was getting a lot of pressure on a vote for labor they were threatening to primary him when Tip called in Labor and quipped that he had only voted against them three times in his time in congress saying how amazing it was that in all those year there were only three times Labor got it wrong.
Unfortunately that broke the ice and that’s how the difference between Tom Harkin as a former congressman and Tom Harkin as a longtime Senator from Iowa today.
The Huff post ran an interview with Harry Reid yesterday, in it Reid claims a person at Bain told him Romney didn’t pay taxes for ten years.
Amazingly 3rd party rumor made the Washington Post
I’m fairly new to the world of writing but even I know basic standards:
Mind you the Washington post isn’t citing an unnamed source that has talked to them, they are reporting that someone else (Harry Reid) claims that an unnamed source said something.
I don’t claim to have been in this business all that many years, but I know enough that I can’t report hearsay.
Stacy McCain IS a real reporters and says this:
This is one of those “too-good-to-check” situations, and there are obvious problems with Reid’s claim. Isn’t the provenance of the claim intrinsically suspicious? How the hell would an investor in Bain Capital know how much taxes Mitt Romney paid? (Phil Klein made this point.) And why would a Bain investor call Harry Reid to make this claim? Who is this mysterious investor who’s got Harry Reid on speed-dial? Do they talk regularly? What else has he told Harry?
These questions — who, what, when, where, why, how? — are obvious, as I say, and reporters are supposed to ask them. However, if it is now the practice of the WaPo to repeat anything said by anybody on the Internet, why isn’t Ed O’Keefe quoting Allahpundit?
By the way, some random guy on the Internet told me Obama was born in Kenya. Now, do I know that’s true? Well, I’m not certain. But let me just toss it out there.
I’ve written about China’s ghost cities and my opinion that before Rob Eno of Red Mass Group noting Elizabeth Warren’s China quip put together this video
We have serious problems here but China is one big bubble waiting to burst and that is what Elizabeth Warren
Finally the left is in shock over the Pope appointing “The Father of Prop 8” as the Arch Bishop of San Francisco
This is juxtaposed against the Episcopal Church’s endorsement of cross dressing clergy & same sex marriage.
The media keeps pushing the Catholic Church to go in the direction of the Episcopalians but where has this direction gotten them?
This is no longer George Washington’s Episcopal Church – in 1776 the largest denomination in the rebellious British colonies. Membership has dropped so dramatically that today there are 20 times more Baptists than Episcopalians.
U.S. Catholics out-number the Episcopal Church 33-to-1. There are more Jews than Episcopalians. Twice as many Mormons as Episcopalians. Even the little African Methodist Episcopal denomination — founded in in 1787 — has passed the Episcopalians.
Seeing these results, is it any wonder that when our liberal friends advise us to follow the path of the Episcopal church we have the same suspicion that Snow White should have had when the old women offered her the apple.
See you next week
Democrats Prepare to Raise Taxes on Small Businesses Even As They Stop Hiring
Will Shelley Berkley Stop Tax Hikes That Could Destroy 700,000 Jobs?
(Las Vegas, NV) – As House Democrats attempt to raise taxes on Nevada small businesses, a new poll shows that 70 percent of surveyed small businesses are not planning on hiring in coming months.
“Democrats continue to put politics ahead of actually helping America’s middle class provide for their families. Will seven-term Congresswoman Shelley Berkley stand up to her party leaders and protect Nevadans from job-destroying tax hikes? It’s doubtful, considering she votes with Nancy Pelosi ninety percent of the time, but Congresswoman Berkley keeps talking about how jobs are her priority. Maybe this time she’ll do something to help create them. What will you do Congresswoman Berkley? Will you stand with Nevadans, or with Nancy Pelosi?” said Chandler Smith, Heller for Senate spokeswoman.
A survey of small businesses shows that seventy percent said they do not plan on hiring: “Seventy percent of the respondents said they plan to maintain their current employee levels. Only 21 percent said they plan to hire one or more workers in coming months….Among the respondents, 35 percent said they were somewhat or significantly understaffed, the bank said.” (“Survey: Most small businesses don’t plan to hire in coming months despite being understaffed,” Associated Press, 7/30/2012)
The Democrats tax hike plan could destroy 710,000 jobs. (Robert Carroll and Gerald Prante, “Long-Run Macroeconomic Impact of Increasing Tax Rates on High-Income Taxpayers in 2013,” Ernst & Young, July 2012, Appendix C)
And according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, 940,000 small businesses would get hit by Democrats’ latest tax hike. “So the 2013 tax cliff is a big enough economic problem that President Obama now wants to postpone it for some taxpayers. But it isn’t so big that he’s willing to curb his desire to raise taxes on tens of thousands of job-creating businesses.” (Editorial, “Off the Tax Cliff He Goes,” The Wall Street Journal, 7/12/2012)
Washington D.C. – House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (CA-22) gave the following remarks in support of stopping the President’s tax hike and reforming our tax code at a House Republican leadership press conference:
“Two years ago, when the Democrats controlled everything in Washington, the question of raising taxes stood before Congress. At that time, 139 Democrats voted to extend the current rates and stop the tax increase. Among them were Debbie Wasserman Shultz, Steny Hoyer and Steve Israel. Today, 86 of them still serve in Congress. The argument they made at the time was that you do not raise taxes in a down economy. The question for the Democrats now begs; Do they think the economy is strong? … Do they think the economy is strong enough to cut 710,000 jobs? They either believe that it is, or they are completely out-of-touch with the American people.”
“As the Speaker and Leader said, today is a big contrast between House Republicans and Washington Democrats. Two years ago, when the Democrats controlled everything in Washington, the question of raising taxes stood before Congress. At that time, 139 Democrats voted to extend the current rates and stop the tax increase. Among them are Debbie Wasserman Shultz, Steny Hoyer and Mr. Israel. Today, 86 of them still serve in Congress. The argument they made at the time was that you do not raise taxes in a down economy.
“The question for the Democrats now begs; Do they think the economy is strong? … Do they think the economy is strong enough to cut 710,000 jobs? They either believe that it is, or they are completely out-of-touch with the American people.
“What the House is doing goes beyond just extending the tax cuts – we want to eliminate uncertainty. Not only will we extend the current tax rates and stop the tax hike, we will also believe in reforming the tax code – which will create a million new jobs. We know the economy is not strong, and we want to make it stronger. We believe it can be if you unshackle what holds us back.”
Please see below for the complete list of 86 Democrats who joined Republicans in 2010 to stop the looming tax hike
In 2010, 139 Democrats joined with Republicans to stop the looming tax hike. 86 of those Democrats are still Members of the House this Congress (I’ve highlighted a few notables for you). What in two years has changed? The economy has actually gotten worse and GDP growth was just 1.5% in the second quarter of 2012. As a result, we expect all 86 Democrats to reiterate their previously stated position by voting with us today to stop the tax hike. After all, “you don’t raise taxes during a recession,” right?
House Republicans know that raising taxes on job creators is the last thing we should be doing right now and remain committed to protecting small businesses and middle class families. If anyone on the list below changes their stance from their 2010 yes vote and votes “no” on stopping the tax hike, don’t hesitate to ask the same question Majority Whip McCarthy posed at today’s Leadership stakeout: “Do they think the economy is strong? … Do they think the economy is strong enough to cut 710,000 jobs? They either believe that it is, or they are completely out-of-touch with the American people.”
Jerusalem Post | Jul 30, 2012
By Caroline Glick
On Wednesday, John Brennan, US President Barack Obama’s assistant for homeland security and counterterrorism, made a quick trip to Israel to discuss Hezbollah’s massacre of Israeli tourists in Burgas, Bulgaria last week.
Hopefully it was an instructive meeting for the senior US official, although his Israeli interlocutors were undoubtedly dumbstruck by how difficult it was to communicate with him. Unlike previous US counterterror officials, Brennan does not share Israel’s understanding of Middle Eastern terrorism.
Brennan’s outlook on this subject was revealed in a speech he gave two years ago in Washington. In that talk, Brennan spoke dreamily about Hezbollah. As he put it, “Hezbollah is a very interesting organization.”
He claimed it had evolved from a “purely terrorist organization” to a militia and then into an organization with members in Lebanon’s parliament and serving in Lebanon’s cabinet.
Brennan continued, “There are certainly elements of Hezbollah that are truly a concern for us what they’re doing. And what we need to do is find ways to diminish their influence within the organization and to try to build up the more moderate elements.”
Perhaps in a bid to build up those “moderate elements,” in the same address, Brennan referred to Israel’s capital city Jerusalem as “al Quds,” the name preferred by Hezbollah and its Iranian overlords.
Brennan’s amazing characterization of Hezbollah’s hostile takeover of the Lebanese government as proof that the terrorist group was moderating was of a piece with the Obama administration’s view of Islamic jihadists generally.
If there are “moderate elements,” in Hezbollah, from the perspective of the Obama administration, Hezbollah’s Sunni jihadist counterpart – the Muslim Brotherhood – is downright friendly.
On February 10, 2011, Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper made this position clear in testimony before the House Select Committee on Intelligence. Clapper’s testimony was given the day before then Egyptian president and longtime US ally Hosni Mubarak was forced to resign from office. Mubarak’s coerced resignation owed largely to the Obama administration’s decision to end US support for his regime and openly demand his immediate abdication of power. As Israel warned, Mubarak’s ouster paved the way for the Muslim Brotherhood’s ascendance to power in Egypt.
In his testimony Clapper said, “The term ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ is an umbrella term for a variety of movements. In the case of Egypt, a very heterogeneous group, largely secular which has eschewed violence and has decried al-Qaida as a perversion of Islam. They have pursued social ends, betterment of the political order in Egypt, etc.”
Watching Clapper’s testimony in Israel, the sense across the political spectrum, shared by experts and casual observers alike was that the US had taken leave of its senses.
The slogan of the Muslim Brotherhood is “Allah is our objective; the Prophet is our leader; the Koran is our law; Jihad is our way; dying in the path of Allah is our highest hope.”
How could such a high-level US official claim that such an organization is “largely secular”?
Every day Muslim Brotherhood leaders call for the violent annihilation of Israel. And those calls are often combined with calls for jihad against the US. For instance, in a sermon from October 2010, Muslim Brotherhood head Mohammed Badie called for jihad against the US.
As he put it “Resistance [i.e. terrorism] is the only solution against the Zio-American arrogance and tyranny, and all we need is for the Arab and Muslim peoples to stand behind it and support it.”
Badie then promised his congregants that the death of America was nigh. In his words, “A nation that does not champion moral and human values cannot lead humanity, and its wealth will not avail it once Allah has had His say, as happened with [powerful] nations in the past. The US is now experiencing the beginning of its end, and is heading towards its demise.”
The obliviousness of Brennan and Clapper to the essential nature of Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood are symptoms of the overarching ignorance informing the Obama administration’s approach to Middle Eastern realities.
Take, for instance, the Obama administration’s policy confusion over Syria. This week The Washington Post reported that the Obama administration lacks any real knowledge of the nature of the opposition forces fighting to overthrow the Syrian regime. Whereas one senior official told the paper, “We’re identifying the key leaders, and there are a lot of them. We are in touch with them and we stay in touch,” another official said that is not the case.
As the latter official put it, “The folks that have been identified have been identified through Turkey and Jordan. It is not because of who we know. It’s all through liaison.”
The fact that the US government is flying blind as Syria spins out of control is rendered all the more egregious when you recognize that this was not inevitable. America’s ignorance is self-inflicted.
In the 16 months that have passed since the Syrian civil war broke out, the administration passed up several opportunities to develop its own ties to the opposition and even to shape its agenda. Two examples suffice to make this clear.
First, in October 2011, according to the Beirut-based Arabic news portal al Nashra, Dalia Mogahed, Obama’s adviser on Muslim affairs, blocked a delegation of Middle Eastern Christians led by Lebanon’s Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rai from meeting with Obama and members of his national security team at the White House. According to al Nashra, Mogahed canceled the meeting at the request of the Muslim Brotherhood in her native Egypt.
The White House canceled the meeting days after Rai visited with then French president Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris. During that meeting Rai angered the French Foreign Ministry when he warned that it would be a disaster for Syria’s Christian minority, and for Christians throughout the region, if the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad is overthrown. Rai based this claim on his assessment that Assad would be replaced by a Muslim Brotherhood- dominated Islamist regime.
And nine months later it is obvious that he was right. With Syria’s civil war still raging throughout the country, the world media is rife with reports about Syria’s Christians fleeing their towns and villages en masse as Islamists from the Syrian opposition target them with death, extortion and kidnapping.
Then there are the US’s peculiar choices regarding the opposition figures it favors. Last August, in a bid to gain familiarity with the Syrian opposition, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with opposition representatives at the State Department. Herb London from the Hudson Institute reported at the time that the group Clinton met with was dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood. Members of the non-Islamist, pro-Western Syrian Democracy Council composed of Syrian Kurds, Alawites, Christians, Druse, Assyrians and non-Islamist Sunnis were not invited to the meeting.
Clinton did reportedly agree to meet with representatives of the council separately. But unlike the press carnival at her meeting with the Muslim Brotherhood members, Clinton refused to publicize her meeting with the non-Islamist opposition leaders. In so acting, she denied these would-be US allies the ability to claim that they enjoyed the support of the US government.
The question is why? Why is the Obama administration shunning potential allies and empowering enemies? Why has the administration gotten it wrong everywhere?
In an attempt to get to the bottom of this, and perhaps to cause the administration to rethink its policies, a group of US lawmakers, members of the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees led by Rep. Michele Bachmann sent letters to the inspectors-general of the State, Homeland Security, Defense, and Justice departments as well as to the inspector-general of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. In those letters, Bachmann and her colleagues asked the Inspectors General to investigate possible penetration of the US government by Muslim Brotherhood operatives.
In their letters, and in a subsequent explanatory letter to US Rep. Keith Ellison from Rep. Bachmann, the lawmakers made clear that when they spoke of governmental penetration, they were referring to the central role that Muslim groups, identified by the US government in Federal Court as Muslim Brotherhood front organizations, play in shaping the Obama administration’s perception of and policies towards the Muslim Brotherhood and its allied movements in the US and throughout the world.
That these front groups, including the unindicted terror funding co-conspirators, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), play a key role in shaping the Obama administration’s agenda is beyond dispute. Senior administration officials including Mogahed have close ties to these groups. There is an ample body of evidence that suggests that the administration’s decision to side with the hostile Muslim Brotherhood against its allies owes to a significant degree to the influence these Muslim Brotherhood front groups and their operatives wield in the Obama administration.
To take just one example, last October the Obama administration agreed to purge training materials used by US intelligence and law enforcement agencies and eliminate all materials that contained references to Islam that US Muslim groups associated with the Muslim Brotherhood had claimed were offensive. The administration has also fired counterterrorism trainers and lecturers employed by US security agencies and defense academies that taught their pupils about the doctrines of jihadist Islam. The administration also appointed representatives of Muslim Brotherhood-aligned US Muslim groups to oversee the approval of training materials about Islam for US federal agencies.
For their efforts to warn about, and perhaps cause the administration to abandon its reliance on Muslim Brotherhood front groups, Bachmann and her colleagues have been denounced as racists and McCarthyites.
These attacks have not been carried out only by administration supporters. Republican Senator John McCain denounced Bachmann from the floor of the Senate. Republican Senator Marco Rubio later piled on attacking her for her attempt to convince the administration to reconsider its policies. Those policies again place the most radical members of the US Muslim community in charge of the US government’s policies toward the Muslim Brotherhood and other jihadist movements.
It is clear that the insidious notion that the Muslim Brotherhood is a moderate and friendly force has taken hold in US policy circles. And it is apparent that US policymaking in the Middle East is increasingly rooted in this false and dangerous assessment.
In spearheading an initiative to investigate and change this state of affairs, Bachmann and her colleagues should be congratulated, not condemned. And their courageous efforts to ask the relevant questions about the nature of Muslim Brotherhood influence over US policymakers should be joined, not spurned by their colleagues in Washington, by the media and by all concerned citizens in America and throughout the free world.
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.
A day does not pass by without hearing my eighty year old grandma and her septuagenarian friends complain about constantly increasing costs of living. According to the Grandma Index (GI), all price tags have indiscriminately been adding more and more digits. Clearly, my grandma has not heard of CPI. The Consumer Price Index is a measure by which individuals and governments estimate the average change over time in the prices of consumer goods and services purchased by households. A simple CPI calculation could give a fairly accurate estimate of the relative cost of a currently traded consumer good and/or technology in a specific year in history. In other words, if a high end laptop costs $1500 today, CPI figures allow interested parties to calculate how much a consumer would pay for the same technology package back in 1982. According to the statistics showcased in this resourceful infographic, such a computer would cost $18000 in 1982.
Should my grandma have been fortunate enough to deal with a blue page of death, the Grandma Index (GI) would take into account how computer prices have changed over the years all over the world. According to data, the relative cost of computers has decreased significantly over the years, whereas most consumer goods and services have seen significant increases in their relative costs. The above infographic presents this interesting fact in the starkest and clearest terms possible. It uses a currently traded Dell Inspiron computer package priced at $849 as an example for a currently traded good and provides an estimate for how much the same technology package would cost in March 1982. Utilizing official CPI figures, it is estimated that the same Dell Inspiron package would cost $10358 in 1982. The helpful illustration goes further by listing a few examples of non-electronic goods and their relative costs over the last two decades. Clearly, computer technology and electronics became cheaper and cheaper over the years whereas a packet of cigarettes has seen skyrocketing cost that have been reflected onto the consumers.
The infographic concludes with a handy map for that informs Aussie friends of the current price tags for the aforementioned Dell Inspiron package in different locations in Australia. Computer costs have been in a downward trend for a long time. Given the above context, one can be confident that almost all computer deals are good deals.
The original infographic is located at neowin.net
Bankrupting America Launches New Tumblr Highlighting the Waste and Abuse at the GSA
Arlington, Va. – On the heels of a devastating investigative report finding more than $30 million in unreported bonuses were distributed by the General Services Administration (GSA) last year, Bankrupting America is launching a new satirical Tumblr, GSAwesome: Spending your Money, Living their Dream, to highlight the absurdity of the GSA’s disregard for taxpayer dollars at a time of high unemployment, massive debt and trillion dollar deficits.
The Tumblr will shed light on the repeated lapses in judgement by top GSA officials that led to millions of taxpayer dollars being wasted on frivolous perks for GSA employees. It will also invite guests to submit their own memes based on the common theme prevalent at the GSA that no expense is too great when Americans are picking up the tab. Click here to view the GSAwesome Tumblr.
Earlier this year it was uncovered that more than $800,000 taxpayer dollars were spent at a “luxury resort spa and casino” in Las Vegas, and a follow-up investigation found that the GSA also spent nearly $270,000 on a one-day awards ceremony outside of Washington, DC, which included nearly $21,000 for 4,000 drumsticks for attendees, $28,000 for “time temperature picture frames,” and $8,600 for an appearance by someone named “Agent X.”
As the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee holds part two of their hearings into the GSA’s use of taxpayer dollars to fund extravagant getaways, lavish accommodations and excessive gifts for GSA employees, Gretchen Hamel, executive director of Public Notice, issued the following statement:
“The waste and abuse we’re seeing at the GSA is symptom of a ‘spend it or lose it’ culture in Washington that has to change. Families and businesses across this country are the ones who fund these junkets with their hard-earned tax dollars, and it’s time for Washington to be held accountable. With millions of Americans still looking for work in these tough times, the lavish spending by the GSA – an agency whose mission is to improve government efficiency – shows Washington is completely disconnected from reality. Everyone outside of Washington is tightening their belts just to make ends meet, and the GSA is spending $21,000 on drumsticks.”