Thursday, January 31, 2013

White House to shut down jobs council.

The Obama administration will discontinue its jobs council despite persistent unemployment and news this week that the economy shrunk.

The council, created in 2011, has met in full only four times in its two-year existence and was up for re-authorization this week. The administration says it will instead find different ways to encourage job growth, opting to close down a program that had become the target of Republican criticism.

"The president is grateful to the members of the Jobs Council for their effort and service over the past two years, and looks forward to working with them moving forward on these important issues," a White House official said Thursday.

An administration aide told The Hill last week the council of top economists and business leaders "was only intended" to last through its original two-year term.

The White House said Thursday the administration would launch "a new, expanded effort to work with the business community and other outside groups to advance specific policy priorities promoted by the Jobs Council," and that such efforts would include promoting small businesses and infrastructure improvements.
"The president, his economic team and his senior advisers will broaden the number of voices involved in the new effort to include not just members of the jobs council but also other leaders in the business community, academic and economic experts, and labor and nonprofit leaders," the official added.

The administration also said that senior officials were in regular contact with outside business leaders while developing strategy for immigration and deficit deals. On Wednesday, senior administration officials held a call with more than a dozen business leaders. The president also plans meetings with outside groups next week.

The decision to shutter the jobs council drew fire from GOP lawmakers, who have long used the group's infrequent meetings to suggest that President Obama was not paying sufficient attention to the nation's unemployment problem.

“To understand the abysmal nature of our economic recovery, look no further than the president’s disinterest in learning lessons from actual job creators,” said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), in a statement. “Whether ignoring the group or rejecting its recommendations, the president treated his Jobs Council as more of a nuisance than a vehicle to spur job creation.”

“Over the past four years, President Obama has seemed far more interested in political show votes and tax gimmicks than actually focusing on what Americans need: more jobs,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a statement. “In fact, for more than a year, he was too focused on politics to regularly meet with or adopt the advice of the very Jobs Council he created amidst so much fanfare.
“With the economy shrinking and millions of Americans still out of work, there are few clearer signs of this neglect than the fact that the Jobs Council is now defunct after having met only a few times since 2011,” McConnell added.

White House press secretary Jay Carney defended the group's infrequent meetings at a press briefing last summer.

“There’s no specific reason, except the president has obviously got a lot on his plate. But he continues to solicit and receive advice from numerous folks outside the administration about the economy, about ideas that he can act on with Congress or administratively to help the economy grow and help create jobs,” Carney said.

The president himself praised the group as "a work council," contrasting it to "a show council" that did not produce substantive policy recommendations. Obama also noted the White House had taken up 33 of 35 executive actions recommended by the group.

Unemployment has dropped to 7.8 percent from a peak of 10 percent in October 2009, but more than 12 million Americans remain unemployed. Moreover, the nation's gross domestic product (GDP) shrunk 0.1 percent last quarter according to initial government estimates, the first time since the depths of the recession in mid-2009.

On Wednesday, Carney defended the pace of the economic recovery, saying the GDP reduction was attributable to temporary concerns over the "fiscal cliff" and possible sequestration.
"There remain, even within this report, indications, whether it’s housing or consumer spending or business investment, that we continue to be poised for positive economic growth and job creation," Carney said. "And we need to make sure that in Washington, we are not taking actions that undercut that progress that we have been making and can continue to make and will continue to make. We need to take steps that encourage it and foster it and help it along."

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Obama’s Economy: The Excuses Begin.

Just days after the November presidential and congressional elections which gave President Barack Obama a non-mandate of 50.6% of the popular vote and the demonstrated supported of less than 27% of all U.S. adults, NBC’s Brian Williamsactually told viewers:
With the election now over, it is once again safe to talk about the economy and jobs. Now that it is not a campaign issue, it’s back to reality.
Still in Democrat-supportive campaign mode, Williams then introduced a report by correspondent Harry Smith about how “the idea that manufacturing in America is dead … is an outright falsehood.” Mary Andringa, president and CEO of Iowa manufacturer Vermeer Corporation and then-board chair at the National Association of Manufacturers, told Smith:
What’s really outstanding is the fact that in 2010, the U.S. had an output of $4.8 trillion of manufactured goods. That was up from $4.1 (trillion) in 2000 — and we’ve been through two recessions in the past decade.
That is undoubtedly an impressive achievement which should not be discounted. But then Smith delivered the kicker:
Five million manufacturing jobs were lost in the U.S. in the last decade. But new jobs have been created too, and believe it or not, many manufacturers in the U.S. are looking for help.
This highlights two problems. The first, which is that our educational system and culture are not preparing enough people for the jobs which need to be filled, is self-evident to anyone with open eyes.
The second, despite the unfilled positions just noted, is even more important: unlike what occurred after every other post-World War II downturn, not enough new jobs are currently being created to make up for the ones being lost. The new companies and entire industries which have always emerged and generated enough new jobs to replace those lost as a result of increased productivity in existing industries aren’t appearing at a rate necessary to reduce unemployment to an acceptable level.
Why not?
At the Associated Press, aka the Administration’s Press, the post-election search for an explanation clearly had two important constraints. First: do not blame the Obama administration or the federal government for anything. Second: find something to blame which appears to be plausible and can’t be immediately refuted.
What resulted was a three-part series bemoaning the rapid advancements in technology and smart machines. It can be summarized in four words: “This time it’s different.” Well, it sadly is, and more than likely for the next four years, but not for the reasons AP cites. AP’s premise:
For decades, science fiction warned of a future when we would be architects of our own obsolescence, replaced by our machines. … [T]he future has arrived.
The team which produced the report believes that technology is advancing so quickly and on so many fronts that it’s simply unreasonable to expect new jobs to appear fast enough to replace the ones being destroyed.
While the pace and nature of tech advancements have been and continue to be phenomenal, the notion that they  are unique to the point of causing insurmountable economic and employment problems should be absurd. As economist and George Mason University Professor Walter Williams pointed out in a 2011 column:
(In) 1900 … about 41 percent of our labor force was employed in agriculture. By 2008, fewer than 3 percent of Americans were employed in agriculture. … [O]ur farmers are the world’s most productive. As a result, Americans are better off.
In 1970, the telecommunications industry employed 421,000 workers as switchboard operators, annually handling 9.8 billion long-distance calls. Today the telecommunications industry employs only 78,000 operators … (processing) more than 100 billion long-distance calls a year.
Fifty years ago, a typical textile worker operated five machines capable of running thread through a loom 100 times a minute. Today machines run six times as fast, and one worker can oversee 100 of them.
You say, “Williams, certain jobs are destroyed by technology.” You’re right, but many more are created.
Defying Professor Williams’ optimism, AP’s team of reporters left readers with three unacceptable choices as to what will result:
  1. The best-case scenario is that “the economy returns to health after a wrenching transition.” AP quotesleftist economist Joseph Stiglitz as claiming that it will take at least “half a decade,” meaning after Obama’s time in the White House has (hopefully) ended. How convenient.
  2. “The economy continues to produce jobs, just not enough good ones.”
  3. “Technology leads to mass unemployment.”
If this “blame tech” mantra sounds mildly familiar, it’s because Obama himself has on a few unguarded occasions commented on how technology has destroyed jobs, indicting ATMs, airport kiosks, and the Internet for sending bank tellers, airline reservation agents, and others to the unemployment line. Apparently, never to return except perhaps as burger flippers or cashiers. I fear that the AP’s decision to identify tech as the scapegoat is no mere coincidence, and may foreshadow foolish attempts by the administration to slow down technological progress in the name of “saving jobs.”
Obamacare is already slated to do that very thing to the entire healthcare sector.
With all due respect to Professor Williams above, he would be right about enough replacement jobs being created if we were living in a genuine free-market economy. Unfortunately, that’s not where we are in this nation. Virtually all of the reasons why sufficient job growth isn’t occurring can be traced to the Obama administration’s market-hostile economic policies and postures.
Here are ten of the most obvious out of a list which could easily reach several dozen:
  • The war on fossil fuels, which has limited job growth in energy-related industries and caused prices to be higher than they should be for everyone else.
  • Cronyism on steroids.
  • Trillion-dollar deficit spending.
  • New bureaucracies like Dodd-Frank’s Consumer Financial Bureau, which Congress can’t legally touch.
  • Sarbanes Oxley, a relic of the 2001 Enron debacle which the administration has done nothing to reform, and which has closed off the going-public option for many companies which would have done so before “Sarbox” became law.
  • Unemployment and other government benefits which make remaining unemployed relatively attractive, or a least a more tolerable circumstance than it should be, and for a longer period of time than should be necessary.
  • Onerous labor laws and regulations. I’ve spoken with many entrepreneurs in the past year, some of whom have had employees in the past. A vast majority of them have told me that they won’t hire any new employees in the current regulatory environment, even if the economy improves. Most start-up entrepreneurs likely feel the same way.
  • Trade policy, a problem which spans the past four administrations but is being most acutely felt now.
  • Federal, state, and local tax increases.
  • Last but certainly not least, Obamacare, especially its career-killing definition of a full-time employee as anyone who works 30 or more hours per week, and the destructive impact it will have in slowing medical innovation and research to a crawl.
What the AP series really tells us is that the economy wasn’t performing as well as the government and the establishment press claimed it was during the presidential campaign — something I believe this week’s report on fourth-quarter gross domestic product will confirm — and that the White House really doesn’t expect the malaise to lift during most of Obama’s second term.

President Obama Wants a Second (Socialistic) Bill of Rights,

Rand Paul said the following about what he believes are President Obama’s real political ambitions:

“I think the President understands the Constitution enough to know that he would prefer a different type of constitution. [Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader] Ginsberg said she admired the South African Constitution. So, I think that’s more of where the President is coming from.”

I checked to see what the economic conditions are like in South Africa. “According to official estimates, a quarter of the population is unemployed; however, unofficial estimates put the real unemployment rate as high as 40%. A quarter of South Africans live on less than $1.25 a day.” The people of SA are becoming more equal, equally poor.

Former Obama administration regulatory czar Cass Sunstein published an opinion piece following the inauguration. He is calling for a “second Bill of Rights” first proposed by Franklin Roosevelt.

Sunstein claims that this Second Bill of Rights would emphasize “the importance of free enterprise” while firmly rejecting “equality of result” while simultaneously being “committed to ensuring both fair opportunity and decent security for all.”

This can’t be done unless more power and authority are given to the State. Such a Bill of Rights will produce an “equality of result.” Everybody will eventually be impoverished.
Sunstein harkened back to FDR’s 1944 State of the Union address where the four-time president argued “that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence.” He insisted that that “these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all regardless of station, race or creed.”
Who would determine what this “new basis of security and prosperity” consisted of? How would the implementation take place?
Here are FDR’s proposals:

  • The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation.

  • The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation.

  • The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living.

  • The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad.

  • The right of every family to a decent home.

  • The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health.

  • The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident and unemployment.

  • The right to a good education.

“All of these rights,” Roosevelt said, “spell security.”
Sunstein knows that these proposals are the bedrock of socialist and Marxist political theory. That’s why he had to write that FDR “had no interest in socialism.” FDR was all about socialism. His Social Security program was modeled after Germany’s socialistic social security system that went back to proposals made by German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck (1815–1898). It was his policies that gradually made the German people “value security over political freedom and caused them to see in the State, however conservative, a benefactor and a protector.”[1] Between 1883 and 1889 Bismarck put through a program for social security far beyond anything known in other countries at the time. It included compulsory insurance for workers against old age, sickness, accident and incapacity, and though it was organized by the State it was financed by employers and employees. Sound familiar? This is American-style Social Security!

Adolf Hitler took full advantage of the German state of mind and Bismarck’s progress in turning the nation into a model of socialist reform. Hitler wrote the following in Mein Kampf: “I studied Bismarck’s socialist legislation in its intention, struggle and success.”[2]
FDR followed Bismarck’s socialist agenda. Bismarck said that “the State must take the matter in hand, since the State can most easily supply the requisite funds. It must provide them not as alms but in fulfillment of the workers’ right to look to the State where their own good will can achieve nothing more.”[3]

Roosevelt and his supporters agreed. P. J. O’Brien, writing in Forward with Roosevelt, links Bismarck’s social policies with those of Roosevelt. The above quotation by Bismarck “might have been lifted out of a speech by President Roosevelt in 1936, but the Iron Chancellor uttered it in 1871.”[4]

Sunstein is counting on the fact that a majority of Americans are not aware of this history. Actually, it doesn’t matter. The people will trade their freedom for the promise of security.
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Arrest numbers signal 9 percent jump in illegal immigration in 2012.

Even as President Obama travels to Las Vegas Tuesday to call for legalizing illegal immigrants, the latest numbers from the U.S. Border Patrol suggest that the flow across the nation’s southwest border jumped by 9 percent last year.

The Border Patrol made 356,873 arrests along the U.S.-Mexico border in fiscal year 2012, up from 327,577 in 2011, according to figures obtained by the Associated Press and confirmed by The Washington Times. Border Patrol officials estimate that apprehensions are a good proxy for illegal crossings, so when the numbers go up, it means that the flow of illegal immigrants is going up as well.
Last year’s increase marks a reversal. Apprehensions peaked in 2005 at 1.2 million and had been steadily dropping every year since as first President George W. Bush and then Mr. Obama committed more manpower and resources to the border.

In his first term Mr. Obama said he had fortified the border so much that it could now be deemed secure, and Congress could turn its attention to passing an overhaul of the broader immigration system.
On the way to Las Vegas, White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters Tuesday that the apprehension numbers are a good sign.

“We’ve seen in Fiscal Year 2012 apprehensions totaled nearly 365,000 nationwide; that’s a 50 percent decrease from 2008,” he said.

The Homeland Security Department didn’t respond Tuesday morning to a request for comment on the new numbers, but Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, said the data represents a problem for Mr. Obama as he pushes for legalization.

“The Obama administration has asked the public and policy makers to accept its theory that declining numbers have meant that we are actually getting control of the border and that it is ‘more secure than ever before.’ If they’re going to stick with that logic, this would meant that things are going in the other direction,” she said.

She said the new numbers should push lawmakers to put the brakes on immigration and wait to see what’s behind the increase: whether it’s Latin American economies pushing more people to flee, or the U.S. economy improving enough to draw in new immigrant workers, or failures in American border security efforts.

Mr. Obama is expected to use his Las Vegas speech to embrace much of the bipartisan framework announced Monday by eight senators that would grant immediate legal status to all illegal immigrants, but withhold green cards until the border is secured. Green cards, signifying legal permanent residency, are the key interim step before getting citizenship.

Politico reported Tuesday that Mr. Obama will agree with most of the framework, but will balk at waiting for border security to be guaranteed before issuing green cards.

Border security has been among the thorniest issues of the immigration debate.
In 2007, the Senate’s last effort to pass a legalization bill failed after voters flooded the Capitol switchboard with calls insisting that Congress first work to secure the borders.

President Bush and Congress boosted manpower and technology on the border, and the number of apprehensions — and, presumably, illegal crossings — dropped dramatically.
In fiscal year 2005 the Border Patrol made 1,1717,396 arrests along the southwest border; it made 1,071,972 arrests in 2006; 858,638 arrests in 2007; 705,005 arrests in 2008; 540,865 in 2009; 447,731 in 2010; and 327,577 in 2011.

A Government Accountability Office report earlier this month detailed some of the Border Patrol’s internal calculations about how many illegal crossers it misses, and the report said about 40 percent of would-be illegal immigrants get away. That rate has held consistent over time.
But Glenn Spencer, head of American Border Patrol, a private citizens group that tracks border crossings, said according to their own estimates, the Border Patrol only catches about 30 percent of illegal crossers.
If true, that would mean more than 800,000 illegal immigrants crossed without being apprehended last year.

Obama Sheeples Choice

Deal near between Holder, House on Fast & Furious contempt charges?

The Obama administration’s intransigence on recess appointments gave the judiciary an opportunity to finally rule on the practice — and the White House lost a huge legal battle that would effectively handcuff Barack Obama to the Senate for the next four years on appointments. I’m not too surprised to see that they may not want to take chances again, this time on the reach of Congressional contempt charges:
A deal may be near in the Operation-Fast-and-Furious-related dispute that led the House of Representatives to cite Attorney General Eric Holder for contempt last year.
U.S. District Court Judge Amy Jackson was set to hold a key hearing next week in the lawsuit the House filed seeking to enforce its subpoena for records of how the Justice Department responded to Congressional inquiries about the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives gunrunning investigation that may have resulted in as many as 2000 weapons flowing to Mexican drug cartels.
However, both the Justice Department and the House asked Jackson Tuesday to put the scheduled hearing off for more than two months as the two sides try to work out a deal that could obviate the need for the lawsuit.
The judge postponed the next hearing until April 24th.  That seems like a long time — almost a full month longer than requested — but the scope of the subpoena is extensive.  If the Department of Justice wants to start cooperating with the House, they will probably need to negotiate on a document-by-document basis.  That will take quite a while before the House can determine whether Holder is serious about transparency or taking them for a slightly longer ride.
Just as with the recess-appointment lawsuit, though, both sides risk losing long-term status in a lawsuit.  Previous subpoena disputes have almost all been settled before judicial precedent could be set.  That allows both sides to argue the virtues of their positions in the political realm, which is what the judiciary traditionally prefers.  If both sides push this dispute past a district court into the appellate level, the decision will set firm precedent on the powers and protection of the other two branches of government vis-a-vis the other — with the potential outcome of disaster for one or the other, a disaster that could last centuries.  As it stands, this is almost the political equivalent of Mutually Assured Destruction.
Obama didn’t learn that lesson, and now he has allowed the precedent in the DC Circuit (where the federal government operates in a legal sense as well as an actual sense) that limits recess appointments to only vacancies that first occur during formal intersession Congressional recesses, which all but eliminates recess appointments at all.  That precedent stands until the Supreme Court overturns it.  It looks like the White House has belatedly found the wisdom of keeping those kinds of questions away from the judicial branch, especially when it comes to subpoenas.

McCain: Obama’s Immigration Plan a No-go Without Tougher Border Security.

Former GOP presidential candidate Sen. John McCain of Arizona tells Newsmax TV that Republicans will not support President Barack Obama’s immigration reform plan because it lacks provisions for stronger border security.

“I would hope that the president at the end of the day would understand that there are, in the southern part of my state, people who do not live in a secure environment. He does,” McCain, who was among the eight bipartisan senators who introduced their own immigration plan on Monday, tells Newsmax in an exclusive interview.

Story continues below.

“In southern Arizona, many ranchers and their families have drug-cartel members cross their property every night. They’re coyotes that bring people across. Wildlife refuges have been destroyed.

“I would hope the president would understand that we have to get our borders secure — and we have made improvements,” McCain added. “There have been significant improvements. We just need to do some more.”

Urgent: Should Women Be in Combat? Vote Here

On Tuesday in Las Vegas, Obama presented his blueprint for comprehensive reform — declaring that “now is the time” to fix the nation’s broken immigration laws. He sounded many of the themes included in the senators’ plan, including the passing of criminal and national security background checks, paying fees and penalties — as well as back taxes.

“We all agree that these men and women have to earn their way to citizenship,” Obama said. “But for comprehensive immigration reform to work, it must make clear from the outset that there is a pathway to citizenship.”

The remark was an apparent reference to the Senate’s plan, which ties a pathway to citizenship for the nation’s 11 million illegal immigrants to stronger border enforcement. The White House has said that Obama would not support such a caveat.

The president did, however, commend the “Gang of Eight” senators — Republican Marco Rubio of Florida and Democrat Chuck Schumer among them — for their efforts. “Congress is showing a genuine desire to get this done soon.”

But if congressional legislators do not act “in a timely fashion,” Obama warned, “I will send up a bill based on my proposal and insist that they vote on it right away.”

The White House also said earlier on Tuesday that Obama’s plan should recognize gay couples where one partner is American and another is not.

The president did not mention this at the Las Vegas event, but McCain told CBS that it was a “red flag” in the immigration-reform debate.

He reiterated that position to Newsmax.

“I’ll have to see what his proposal is on that before I make a judgment and exactly how they’re going to frame that proposal.”

McCain, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, told Newsmax that he was not surprised that Obama’s plan would include less border security.

“I expected the president’s to [have] — I don’ t know exactly what word to use — less emphasis on border security than we have insisted upon. We’re in the beginning of a process, and I’m still hopeful that we can come to an agreement.”

The retired Navy captain and former Vietnam War prisoner readily acknowledged that tough battles are ahead in Congress on immigration reform, regardless of whose vision makes it to a chamber vote.

Urgent: Should Women Be in Combat? Vote Here

“Obviously, there are pitfalls. There’s all kinds of things that need to be decided. But the mood of the country is that they’d like to see this issue resolved in a fair and equitable fashion — including being fair to the people who have come here legally. You don’t want to treat them unfairly.”

McCain also was clear: The senators’ plan is not about amnesty.

“It depends on your definition. We think we have pretty tough proposals,” he said. “You have to pay back taxes. You have to qualify by studying English. You have to get behind all of those who came to this country legally. That’s only fair.

“There are some other tough provisions that we think are pretty difficult and that do not meet the dictionary definition of amnesty.”

Because Arizona is a border state, the idea of increased enforcement in the Senate plan has strong support throughout the Grand Canyon State, McCain said.

“The business community in Arizona has rallied behind us — and strongly. There are certainly divided opinions in my home state — and, again, since Arizona is the major drug-trafficking route from Mexico into the United States, obviously they’re concerned about border security.

“They’re concerned about the lack of security in their lives, but they believe that we shouldn’t have 11 million people living in the shadows forever,” he said.

And eventually making those citizens legal will most benefit the Republican Party.

Urgent: Should Women Be in Combat? Vote Here

“Our Hispanic citizens tend towards Republicans — and they believe in lower taxes, less regulations, small business, pro-life, significant service in the military. We know that we have to do our best to attract all voters in all sectors — young people, men, women, older Americans — and the Hispanic vote is becoming a bigger and bigger portion of the electorate. We understand that.”

Also in his wide-ranging Newsmax interview, McCain said he supported women in combat as long as training standards are not relaxed, particularly for such volunteer elite groups as the Navy SEALS, and attacked President Obama for his lack of leadership on Syria and Iran.

Obama: Immigration ‘about people’

Obama Tuesday sought to bully Congress to push through his vision of immigration reform including amnesty for the millions of illegal immigrants already in the U.S. during a rousing speech to supporters in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“We need Congress to act on a comprehensive approach that finally deals with the 11 million undocumented immigrants who are in this country right now,” Obama said.
On Monday, eight senators, including Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) announced an agreement on a framework that will shape legislation that is expected to come to the floor in late spring or early summer.

“The good news is that – for the first time in many years – Republicans and Democrats seem ready to tackle this problem together,” Obama said.

The Senate’s plan would allow people “in good standing” in this country illegally to be put on a probationary status, go through a background check after registering with the government, pay any fines or back taxes. It would declare the border secure prior to granting citizenship to the people already here illegally.
Closely mimicking the Senate framework, the president’s proposal included increased border patrols, cracking down on employers who hire undocumented workers, so-called “earned citizenship” and streamlining legal immigration.

After the Senate plan was unveiled, the White House indicated that the president wouldn’t be receptive to the Senate plan’s point on declaring the border secure before granting citizenship. The president’s proposal doesn’t stipulate that point.

However, Obama noted, if the Senate failed to act, he would send his own bill to Congress based on the principles he touched on in the 20-minute speech. “We can’t let immigration reform to get bogged down in endless debate,” he said.

Capitol Hill lawmakers have signaled that the president’s proposal stands little chance of passing the Republican-controlled House.

“We’ve been down this road before with politicians promising to enforce the law in return for amnesty.  And then after the amnesty, they fail to make good on the enforcement promises. The American people should not be fooled,” said Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a member of the “gang of 8” senators, was a guest on the Rush Limbaugh Show Tuesday and pitched the Senate proposal.

RELATED: Rubio says no ‘legal right’ to immigrate illegally
“Either we succeed or we’re going to be the generation that’s held responsible for allowing the most incredible nation in human history to decline, and I certainly want to do everything I can to avoid that from happening…I know the president’s gonna take us in a direction that I would not be comfortable with and I don’t think it’s good for America.  I’m just trying to do the best I can with what’s already a tough situation.  So I pray it works out,” he said.

Obama, who acknowledged immigration would be a key emphasis in his second term during his second inaugural address earlier this month, cautioned the lawmakers who will inevitably stand in the way.
“In the coming weeks, as the idea of reform becomes more real and the debate becomes more heated, and there are folks who are trying to pull this thing apart… Remember that this is not just a debate about policy,” the president said.  “It’s about people.”

Obama is not king

It looked like a new king was being crowned. Thousands cheered, like subjects worshiping nobility.

Obama is not king.

Watching President Obama’s inaugural, I was confused. It looked like a new king was being crowned. Thousands cheered, like subjects worshipping nobility. At a time when America faces unsustainable debt and terrible economic troubles, why such pomp?
Maybe it’s because so many people tell themselves presidents can solve any problem, like fairy-tale kings — or gods.
Before America’s first inauguration, John Adams suggested George Washington be called “His Most Benign Highness.” Fortunately, Congress insisted on the more modest title, “President.”
At his inaugural, President Obama himself said, “The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few.”
But then Obama went on to say that his privileged few should force the rest of us to do a zillion things.
He said, “We must do these things, together.” But what “together” means to big-government folks is that they have a vision — and all of us, together, must go deeper into debt to pay for their vision, even if we disagree.
We can afford this, as the president apparently told John Boehner, because America does not have a spending problem.

But, of course, we do have a spending problem, and a debt problem, and the president knows this.
Just a few years ago, when George W. Bush was president, the Congressional Record shows that Senator Obama said this: “I rise, today, to talk about America’s debt problem. The fact that we are here to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure and our government’s reckless fiscal policies.”

Sen. Obama went on: “Over the past five years, our federal debt has increased from $3.5 trillion to $8.6 trillion — and yes, I said trillion with a ‘T’!”

Again, he was right to worry about the debt and right to call it “a hidden domestic enemy … robbing our families and our children and seniors of the retirement and health security they’ve counted on. … It took 42 presidents 224 years to run up only $1 trillion of foreign-held debt. This administration did more than that in just five years.”

It’s hard to believe that Obama chose those words just seven years ago, because now his administration has racked up another $6 trillion in debt.

It’s also a shock that Barack Obama believed this: “America has a debt problem. I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit.”

Yet this year, he demanded Congress raise the debt limit without conditions.
I want the old Barack Obama back. He made sense. The new guy, he scares the heck out of me. Like a king, he assumes that the realm will be better if he can spend as he pleases.
He also issues executive orders when Congress doesn’t immediately do what he wants. To be fair, he isn’t the first president to do that. Or the worst.

That was Teddy Roosevelt. He issued 1,000 executive orders, including one that demanded phonetic spelling. On all government documents, “kissed” should be K-I-S-T and “enough” E-N-U-F. At least Congress mustered the two-thirds vote needed to override that one.

I might not mind presidents behaving like kings — if they at least made the tough decisions that the government needs to make, like balancing the budget. But no president has tried to use an executive order to eliminate whole programs or cut spending. They almost always act only to increase their own power.
Yet they pretend they make bold choices — even when refusing to make choices. Obama said, “We reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the elderly and investing in the next generation.”
That’s Washington-speak for, “We will spend government money on young and old alike and refuse to think about when this will bankrupt America.”

But it sounds exciting when he says it. He’s not just a king — he’s Santa Claus, too. Except that Santa spends his own money. The president spends yours.

Kings don’t like to be constrained. But all government should be.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Stonewalled CBS reporter fights back, embarrasses Obama administration on Twitter

CBS News investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson has had enough of the uber-secretive Obama administration’s handling of the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, which led to the murder of four Americans, including that of Ambassador Chris Stevens.

Attkisson has gone where no women and very few men have gone before in her pursuit of a story. Her reporting has earned her multiple Emmys, most recently for her investigations on Operation Fast and Furious. She’s also a multiple winner of the Radio and Television News Directors Association-Edward R. Murrow Award.

Attkisson knows when she’s being stonewalled or handed a line. The Obama administration, which calls itself the most open and transparent presidential administration in recent history, is doing both, and Attkisson voiced her frustrations on Twitter Tuesday evening to let the world know it.

She began at 9:41 p.m., tweeting about a statement the Obama administration sent to her and CBS News:

The Obama Admin has indicated it will not be answering Benghazi questions we’ve been asking since Oct. I will list some of them.”

She followed up two minutes later with a question that took up two tweets:

What time was Ambassador’s Stevens’ body recovered, what are the known details surrounding his disappearance and death…

“. ..including where he/his body was taken/found/transported and by whom?”
And from that moment forward, she just kept hammering:

“Who made the decision not to convene the Counterterrorism Security Group (CSG) the night of the Benghazi attacks?”

“We understand that convening the CSG a protocol under Presidential directive (“NSPD-46”). Is that true? If not, please explain…

“… if so, why was the protocol not followed?”

“Is the Administration revising the applicable Presidential directive? If so, please explain.”
“Who is the highest-ranking official who was aware of pre-911 security requests from US personnel in Libya?”

After Attkisson’s preliminary questions, she drove on, asking about the White House cover-up and its narrative blaming the incident on a demonstration against an anti-Islamic YouTube video:
“Who is/are the official(s) responsible for removing reference to al-Qaeda from the original CIA notes?”
“Was the President aware of Gen. Petraeus’ potential problems prior to Thurs., Nov. 8, 2012?”
“What is your response to the President stating that on Sept. 12, he called 911 a terrorist attack, in light of his CBS interview…”
“…on that date in which he answered that it was too early to know whether it was a terrorist attack?”
Attkisson B52
Attkisson was one of the first journalists to fly on a combat mission over Kosovo, seen 
here on an Air Force B-52 in 1999.
I’m not going to list all of Attkisson’s tweets — they’re too numerous, and they continued rapid-fire until 11:44 p.m. Then, the reporter apparently awoke in the middle of the night with the following afterthought:
“Forgot to mention that Sen. Graham has asked 4 transcripts of FBI iviews w/Benghazi survivors but at last word that hadn’t been provided”

“It should be pointed out that Attkisson hasn’t reported on the Benghazi story on the air since the November 23, 2012 edition of CBS This Morning, according to a search on Nexis,” Newsbusters reported Tuesday.
I just hope Attkisson keeps asking her questions — and doesn’t give up until someone in the administration finally starts answering them.

Read Attkisson’s entire string of tweets at Twitchy

Monday, January 28, 2013

Ten things you should know about union membership numbers

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its annual report on union membership last week and the news was pretty grim. While the economy added almost 2.4 million jobs in 2012, union membership was down by almost 400,000.
Digging through the data led to several more interesting discoveries.
1) Since 2008, private sector unions have lost more than 1.2 million members – almost equivalent to losing the entire rank-and-file of the Teamsters.
2) All of the government jobs lost since 2008 were added in the three-year period 2005-2008.
3) Almost half of all union members work in just seven states – California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Jersey and Ohio – though these states employ only about one-third of the U.S. workforce.
4) Union membership increased in 14 states and the District of Columbia. Of these, only five added more than 10,000 members (California, Georgia, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Texas).
5) Local government (teachers, police officers, firefighters, et al.) is by far the most unionized sector of the American workforce.
6) Members of the two national teachers’ unions, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, comprise more than 25% of all union members in the United States, and just under half of all public sector union members.
7) About 42% of U.S. workers are 45 years of age or older. Almost 52% of union members are.
8) If unions were able to organize all the workers at Wal-Mart, by far America’s largest employer, it would only raise their share of the private sector workforce to 8.5% – less than the share they had in 2002.
9) If the trends recorded since 2000 continue, by 2051 there will be 8 million union members in the United States – 6.6% of the total workforce – and they will all work for the government.
10) Five million of them will be teachers.

UK Headed for Triple Dip Recession? Impact on EU Exit Vote

There is much talk of a triple dip recession in the UK. It depends on how you define it. If you call a recession two consecutive quarters of decline in GDP, with any quarter of positive growth ending the recession, then answer is yes.

Here is a chart from the Telegraph article UK heads for triple dip as GDP contracts 0.3pc to consider.

Double Dip?

The blue rectangles are mine. I see two recessions not three.

With 9 quarters in between recessions, one might ask "Is this even a double-dip setup?" I suggest yes, but there is no clear agreed-upon definition of how many quarters can be between recessions to call it a double-dip.

From the Telegraph ... 
The official figures were the fourth quarter of negative growth in the last five and mean that the UK flatlined for last year as a whole – posting zero growth.

The economy is smaller than it was in September 2011 and still 3.3pc below its pre-crisis peak.

Making matters worse, there was scant evidence in the data that the economy is rebalancing from consumption to manufacturing. Output by Britain’s factories fell by 1.5pc in the quarter and by 1.8pc for the year as a whole – the first annual decline since 2009.

Howard Archer, economist at IHS Global Insight, described the situation as “dire” and added: “We believe the economy is essentially flat at the moment. We suspect that GDP will not return to the level seen in the first quarter of 2008 until the first half of 2015 – a gap of seven years.”
Dire Situation

The article notes that 4th quarter GDP was impacted by an unusually long maintenance period for North Sea crude production. However, even if one subtracts that effect, GDP was still negative.

The chance UK GDP will not return to the 2008 level until 2015 is indeed a dire setup. 

Impact on EU Exit Vote

This economic mess puts a lot of pressure on Prime Minister David Cameron by the Labour Party , for Cameron to abandon austerity measures.

Bear in mind that Cameron has promised to hold a referendum on a UK exit only if he wins reelection,  and even then only after he renegotiates the EU treaty. Simply put, Cameron has not promised a damn thing. It's nothing but an election ploy, that will likely backfire.

Moreover, if the economy remains sour as I expect, Cameron is likely to lose the next election and the UK's chance to quickly and easily get out of the EU (which the UK should do in my opinion), will go right down the drain.

State stops sale of cheap milk Supermarket told price regulated

For Lafayette stockbroker Kenneth Daigle, buying a gallon of milk is no longer the bargain it used to be on Tuesdays at Fresh Market.
The upscale supermarket chain yanked milk from its $2.99 once-a-week promotion after a state auditor objected to the low price. A gallon of whole milk was priced at $5.69 Thursday at the Fresh Market in Perkins Rowe.
State Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain said Fresh Market violated state regulations by selling milk below cost as part of a promotion.
The supermarket routinely sells a gallon of skim, 1 percent, 2 percent or whole milk for $2.99 on Tuesdays, limiting the quantity to four per customer.
State law requires retailers’ markups to be no less than 6 percent of the invoice cost after adding freight charges.
The Dairy Stabilization Board oversees milk prices in Louisiana. The board was established after Schwegmann, a New Orleans-area grocery chain, launched a legal battle in the 1970s with the Louisiana Milk Commission to buy milk from out-of-state suppliers because it was cheaper.
The issue over Fresh Market’s milk involves the cost of milk to consumers rather than the price paid to farmers.
“They can sell it 6 percent over cost all day long. It’s when they sell it below cost that it becomes a problem,” Strain said.
During the second week of January, the price for a gallon of whole milk in Baton Rouge ranged from $4 to $6.89.
Strain said his office dispatched an auditor to the Fresh Market in Mandeville after receiving a complaint about the Tuesday promotion. His press office declined to identify the complainant.
During the visit, the auditor explained the regulations to store officials, Strain said.
Daigle learned about the change in price when he plunked down a gallon of milk at the cash register Tuesday at the Fresh Market two blocks from his office.
He routinely buys two gallons of milk at the sale price. He puts one gallon in the refrigerator and freezes the other.
This time, the milk rang up at the nonsale price. When Daigle questioned the price tag, the cashier told him the state had come down on the store.
Fresh Market’s corporate headquarters referred media questions to the Atlanta-based BRAVE Public Relations.
BRAVE released a prepared statement from Drewry Sackett, Fresh Market’s marketing, public relations and community relations manager.
Sackett said the promotion applied to the store’s private label, rBST-free milk.
“Because milk is a commodity product with regulated costs that are subject to change, at the current cost, due to Louisiana state law, we are unable to honor the $2.99 Tuesday deal for (Fresh Market) milk ... Because the cost of milk fluctuates, it is possible that we will be able to offer the $2.99 deal on milk again in the future,” Sackett said.
Daigle said he is outraged that the state would intervene in order to control a retail store’s prices.
“Should we do the same thing with bread? Should we do the same thing with soft drinks?” he asked.
Strain said the regulations exist to keep the price of milk as low as possible.
Allowing a supermarket to sell milk below cost could drive competitors out of business, allowing the store to then increase the price of milk, he said.
Daigle disagrees with Strain’s approach.
He said it is understandable for states to regulate the wholesale price, ensuring that farmers receive fair compensation for their labor.
Controlling the price on the grocery store shelf is heavy-handed, Daigle said.
“If retailers want to take a loss, so be it,” he said.

Obama’s New George W. Bush

It was bound to happen sooner or later: After four long years,  President Barack Hussein Obama has found a new scapegoat replacement for George W. Bush.
Obama’s new George W. is Rush Limbaugh, who goes by the nicknames: el Rushbo, the Maha-Rushie, Doctor of Democracy, Your Guiding Light, and Titular Head of the Remains of the Republican Party, Harmless, lovable little fuzz ball—with talents “on loan from G..o…D”.

But Obama doesn’t call Limbaugh any of those nicknames.  Up until now he hasn’t openly declared el Rushbo as such, but to Obama and the power-lusting Democrats,  Rush Limbaugh is Public Enemy Numero Uno. (That’s Public Enemy Number 1 to those living in Rio Linda).

Rush never looked much like George W. being much more conservative comely, but now that he’s Alinsky-targeted as Obama’s scapegoat, watch for an overnight morphing.

Ruminating about how one of the biggest factors in the gun-control debate will be how it is shaped by the media, Obama told The New Republic during an interview to be published Feb. 11:  “If a Republican member of Congress is not punished on Fox News or by Rush Limbaugh for working with a Democrat on a bill of common interest, then you’ll see more of them doing it.  I think John Boehner genuinely wanted to get a deal done, but it was hard to do in part because his caucus is more conservative probably than most Republican leaders are, and partly because he is vulnerable to attack for compromising Republican principles and working with Obama.”

“The president argued that “the more left-leaning media outlets recognize that compromise is not a dirty word” and that party leaders, including Senate Majority Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, are “willing to buck the more absolutist-wing elements in our party to try to get stuff done.”  (Fox News, Jan. 27, 2013).

A Marxist like Obama would know perfectly well that Rush 
Limbaugh is not a Republican but that most hated of all Marxist enemies: a Bible-believing, Constitution-preserving, small c conservative. 

Obama knows, too that it is not the Republicans unwilling to compromise in gun control debate, but the never-say-die millions of still-standing patriots in the We the People category.

Republicans are feeding at the same trough as Democrats.  The few conservatives among them are not.
We can take Obama’s claims on House Republicans not being inclined to listen to the American public on gun control about as seriously as his contention that he goes skeet shooting “all the time” when he’s at Camp David, given that he’s rarely ever there.  Ditto for his blatherings that “much of the challenge in Washington is to make Americans feel that national politics is indeed connected to their day-to-day realities”.
The reality is that his administration is systematically stripping individual freedoms in the “day-to-day realities” of most Americans.

But Obama it right on when he says that “the more left-leaning media outlets recognize that compromise is not a dirty word”.  It is courtesy of the dirty word compromise that the left-leaning media is helping the current administration tear apart the America the world looks to for the kind of leadership always there, in one form or another, before Nov. 4, 2008.

With 99.9% of the lib-left mainstream media already in the tank for him,  bully Obama decries the few media outlets not willing to shill for his Marxist policies. The Fundamental Transformation of America is on track, and there would be only the depressing desolation of silence were it not for talk show radio.  In spite of his November 6 reelection, millions tune in daily and nightly on Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck (many still waiting for him to depart from the silly notion of never again mentioning Obama’s name)  and others.  In a world of government-orchestrated propaganda via the “News”,  it’s their only way of their getting the truth.

Obama worried that media just isn’t liberal enough

Perhaps the second term of the Obama presidency will wind up being an era of bipartisan unity after all. One hopeful sign comes with a recent interview done by The New Republic with the President, in which he identifies an area where the POTUS and his Republican opponents clearly seem to agree. The media is just too darned biased.
“One of the biggest factors is going to be how the media shapes debates,” he tells editor Frank Foer and owner and publisher Chris Hughes. “If a Republican member of Congress is not punished on Fox News or by Rush Limbaugh for working with a Democrat on a bill of common interest, then you’ll see more of them doing it.”
But it’s not just Fox or Rush who are to blame. Nearly as culpable are those who ostensibly provide both sides of the debate, because… well, you know:
The president also faulted nonpartisan media outlets for their adherence to “he said, she said” journalism, which places equal blame on Democrats and Republicans when, according to the president, Republicans should bear more blame.
“[T]hat’s one of the biggest problems we’ve got in how folks report about Washington right now, because I think journalists rightly value the appearance of impartiality and objectivity,” Obama told Foer and Hughes. “And so the default position for reporting is to say, ‘A plague on both their houses.’ On almost every issue, it’s, ‘Well, Democrats and Republicans can’t agree’—as opposed to looking at why is it that they can’t agree. Who exactly is preventing us from agreeing?”
See? That’s the problem with the media! You can’t just go around reporting on the views of both parties, or even blaming one party more than the other. In order for media coverage of politics and governments to truly be fair, they need to point out that Barack Obama is always right, the Republicans are always wrong, and the Democrats would be getting so much more done if the GOP would only stop trying to block their agenda. Is that so much to ask?
Look, the national media has a lot of problems, and there’s no doubt about it. And the problems are not found exclusively at MSNBC or Fox. Print media has essentially died, no longer commanding the resources to do the kind of reporting – particularly on local stories – which they once took charge of. Television news seems all too often to have become jealous of the success of the Real Housewives franchise and begun emulating them wherever possible. But if the President wants to call them out for bias, he’s going to have to do a bit more credible job than that.
For full disclosure, it should be noted that the interview above was conducted, in part, by Chris Hughes, who is listed as “an Obama donor who worked on the 2008 campaign,” and who bought The New Republic last year and now runs it. So… balance.