Your contest submissions lived up to my high expectations when I asked you all to “go for it” in reaction to this truly disgusting image of what is supposed to be “art.”
Be sure to read all the clever contest entries by our talented readers. It was a tough decision, but here are the winners.
His crown, our thorns. Submitted by Pricked
“This is the picture that caused riots in all the Christian countries and that caused the attack to the American Embassy in Paris where the American Ambassador was murdered. President Obama, in his speech at the United Nations, apologized to the Christians worldwide and we have now been informed that the author of the image has been arrested for violations of the building codes of the area where he built his house.” Submitted by Sherab Zangpo
“Feed a man a fish, and you have fed him a day. Put him on disability and you can get him off the U6 unemployment statistic for life!”
“Behold, I fed the multitudes, with platitudes.” Both Submitted by Scottch
“I didn’t paint this. It took a sycophantic national main stream media to build this image of me out of a lowly community organizer/sometime law school lecturer who smoked a lot of weed during his ‘missing years’. It took a corrupt and perverse culture to produce a painter so lacking in any relevant insight into man and man’s relationship to God to be able to produce this and call it art. And it took an artistic establishment with its collective head so firmly embedded in its collective ass to accord this any prominent attention whatsoever.” Submitted by FunJohnny
And on the third day he rose…taxes — then again on the fourth; and fifth; and sixth.. Submitted by Chris Henderson
The Grand Prize Winners are: (and as a student of the Bible, these captions really capture the message of this worthless piece of doggie poop called “art”)
He lied for our spins. Submitted by cfbleachers (How do you manage to win week after week?)
“For Barack so Loved Himself, That He Gave us Eight Years of Time” Submitted by Anonymous
Thanks to all who entered and see you next time a photo or piece of “art” is worthy of a Tatler Photo Caption Contest!
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she’ll try to force a vote on the Senate’s extension of Bush-era tax cuts for the middle class only if Speaker John Boehner (R-Calif.) refuses to bring it to the floor next week.
“If it is not scheduled, then on Tuesday, we will be introducing a discharge petition which you know, if we could 218 signatures would bring the bill automatically to the floor. Now that would mean that we need some Republicans who support middle income tax cuts to sign on with us,” Pelosi said at a press conference today.
She predicted that the extension, which doesn’t address the contentious cuts for upper-income brackets, “would get 100 percent vote on it if it came to the floor.”
“This is only one piece of what we have to do before we leave for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, every other holiday that is coming up,” Pelosi said.
Republicans weren’t exactly in a giving mood, though, after hearing about President Obama’s new “compromise” starting point today.
The proposal made by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to GOP leaders on the Hill today proposed $1.6 trillion in tax hikes, at least $50 billion in new stimulus spending, and removal of the debt ceiling in exchange for $400 billion in entitlement cuts. The offer was reportedly greeted with laughter.
“The White House took three weeks to respond with any kind of a proposal. And much to my disappointment it wasn’t a serious one,” Boehner said in a press conference today. “Still, I’m willing to move forward in good faith. Our original framework still stands. Instead of raising tax rates, we can produce a similar amount of revenue, reforming the tax code to close loopholes, and lower tax rates. That’s far better for the economy. And the American people actually favor that approach by 2:1.”
Boehner said he’d been guarded with his words during the stalemate “because I don’t want to make it harder for me, or the president, or members of both parties to be able to find common ground.”
“While I may be affable, and someone that can work with members of both parties, which I’ve demonstrated over the 22 years that I’ve been here, I’m also rather determined to solve our spending problem, and to solve this looming debt crisis that is about to consume us,” he said.
Some interesting political news from the UK, which ties in with my piece on the front page about the couple who had three foster children taken from them because they were members of the right-of-centre UK Independence party (UKIP) – and which will perhaps provide a crumb of consolation for downcast U.S. conservatives.
Yesterday three special elections (we call them by-elections) were held to fill vacant seats in the House of Commons. All three were ‘safe’ seats for the left-of-centre Labour party, and as expected Labour held all three. UKIP, however – which is widely regarded as a fringe or protest party of the right – came second in two of the contests, and third in the other one; and its best result came in Rotherham, where the fostering controversy erupted over the weekend, and where UKIP finished second with more than a fifth of the vote.
The results were the party’s best showing in elections for the Westminster parliament. It’s likely the fostering controversy earned UKIP a few votes, especially in Rotherham, and it certainly gave the party bags of free national publicity in the days leading up to the elections; however, the party has been making steady progress in recent years.
UKIP’s success was a shot across the bows of the Conservative Party, which is in a coalition with the Liberal Democrats, who are essentially left-of-centre on most issues, but with a pro-business streak. Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron has allowed himself to be dragged to the centre by his coalition partners on issues including Britain’s relationship with the European Union and ‘green’ energy, to the dismay of many of his MPs, and the party’s grassroots supporters. His government has also failed to deliver a promised crackdown on immigration.
UKIP’s flagship policies are withdrawal from the EU, and an end to the largely uncontrolled mass immigration to the UK of the last couple of decades – both of which are supported by a majority of the British people. The party has attracted disillusioned voters from both the Conservatives and Labour, but it’s Cameron’s Conservatives who stand to lose the most from UKIP’s rise – by splitting the centre-right vote, it’s reckoned to have cost the Tories up to 21 seats, and an overall Commons majority, in the 2010 general election.
Last night’s results will increase the pressure on Cameron to move back to the right on Europe and immigration. There’s also talk of a Tory-UKIP pact at the next general election – which will be in 2015, if the coalition survives that long – with UKIP not fielding candidates in ‘marginal’ Conservative seats. The sticking point is the contempt that UKIP members harbor for Cameron, who in 2006 dismissed them as “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists” as he sought to ingratiate himself with Britain’s liberal-left cultural and media establishment.
If Britain’s economy remains sluggish, and UKIP continues to out-poll the Tories in by-elections, local council elections and the 2014 European elections, there’s a good chance that Cameron will be ousted in favor of a more unabashedly right-wing leader. If he survives, he’ll have to lose face by cutting a deal with UKIP, or move his party far enough to the right to negate the UKIP threat. Either way, last night’s results were good news for British conservatives.
I must confess to not following this story very closely the last few months. But this latest move by China to assert its sovereignty over a vast area in the South China Sea has alarmed other countries in the region and is a direct challenge to the US Navy’s mission to maintain freedom of navigation in the world’s oceans.
First, the map above, courtesy of James Fallows at The Atlantic, shows you what China is claiming as it’s “territorial waters”:
Fallows explains that “the red line encloses what China considers its own sovereign area; the blue shows Vietnam’s claims; the purple shows those of the Philippines; the yellow is Malaysia’s; and the green is from Brunei.”
You get the idea just from the map why China’s recent insistence on its claims has riled its neighbors through the region. For instance, Brunei is a very long way from mainland China, but China contends that its waters reach practically down to Brunei’s shores.
Now let’s add the detail that the faint white lines on the map show major shipping routes — whose importance is even greater than the map suggests. Obviously lots of commerce in and out of China goes through Hong Kong and neighboring ports. But shipping lanes that have nothing directly to do with mainland China, including the export paths from Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan to Europe, pass through these waters toward the Indian Ocean. Half the world’s oil-cargo traffic comes back the opposite way, from the Middle East, through this same route.
For months, Chinese patrol boats and other craft have scuffled with foreign vessels, mainly from the Philippines and most often over contested fishing grounds. But an assertion from officials in Hainan that they can stop and board any vessel passing through these waters is something quite different. The US Navy has had a lot of different missions over the centuries, but one of its elemental purposes has been defending freedom-of-navigation on the high seas. The Seventh Fleet is the regnant military power in this area. I am usually in the “oh calm down” camp about frictions, especially military, between China and America. But it is easy to imagine things becoming dangerous, quickly, if the new Chinese administration actually tries to carry out this order.
China is claiming it has the right to “land on, check, seize, and expel foreign ships” that enter the area illegally.” What do they consider “illegal?”
The official China Daily says “illegal” activities include entering the province’s waters without permission and “engaging in publicity that endangers China’s national security.” It says the new rules will take effect January 1.
And to add to the tensions ratcheted up by this new order, China has changed its passport to reflect their claim to almost the entire sea:
The latest front on the simmering dispute is China’s new passport, which shows a map of the country including almost all of the strategically significant sea, the site of key shipping routes and possibly significant petroleum reserves.
It is also claimed wholly or in part by Vietnam and the Philippines – both of which have refused to stamp the Chinese travel documents – Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan.
Washington described the passports as unhelpful, while Jakarta called them “counterproductive”.
Further background on the dispute can be found here.
For the moment, all the US is doing is “asking questions” of China about the new policy. But whither the US Navy? Aren’t they the guarantor of freedom of the seas? This excellent posting at FP Passport by Michael Austin should raise some alarms if not eyebrows:
Coming just four days after China showed the world its first launch and recovery of a fighter jet from its sole aircraft carrier, and roughly four months after Beijing upgraded a small naval outpost to become a full-fledged military garrison covering the South China Sea, this news seems both logical and stunningly reckless. Already, China’s expansive claims to the island territories and waters of the South China Sea have put it at odds with its neighbors and the United States over the past several years. Yet freedom of navigation has always been seen as the one red line with China’s growing military strength. Beijing can threaten Taiwan, oppress Tibet, tussle with Asian neighbors over contested island territory, and build stealth fighters and carrier-killer missiles, but interfering with the world’s trade and free navigation was assumed to be the one (plausible) thing that would result in intervention by the U.S. Navy to uphold international law.
The real question, then, is whether Beijing truly intends to cross the line because it feels strong enough to get away with it, or if this is just more bluster from a regime that continually tests the resolve of nations in Asia.
What these new rules really mean is still vague, and Beijing will probably have to clarify more than it did yesterday, by stating that there was no problem “at present” with other nations freely transiting the South China Sea. Meanwhile, Washington needs to make clear in the strongest possible terms that freedom of navigation won’t be interfered with under any circumstances, and that the U.S. Navy will forcibly prevent any ship from being boarded or turned around by Chinese vessels.
If Washington fails to come up with a clear policy and operational plan, and responds sluggishly if China interferes with innocent shipping, then it will lose more credibility in an Asia that is already questioning its staying power, and will undermine President Obama’s promise to “rebalance” to the Asia-Pacific.
Obviously, if the US Navy decided to get involved the Chinese would either be forced into a humiliating retreat or…what? China’s surface fleet is growing but it is not a match for the 7th Fleet. But if they decided to make a stand, they could inflict some damage with sophisticated ship to ship and surface to sea missiles.
I don’t think China is after a confrontation with the US on the high seas, but it looks inevitable that the disputed waters of the South China Sea are going to warm up considerably after the first of the year.
Stupidity and power are a very dangerous mix.
“We need a constitutional amendment that would allow the legislature to control the so-called free speech rights of corporations,” Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) was quoted as saying by CNS News.
He reportedly made these comments while speaking at the Annesbrooks HOA candidate Forum held last month.In a video obtained by the website, Johnson asserts that “corporations control … patterns of thinking.”
“They control the media. They control the messages that you get,” he added. “And these folks … are setting up a scenario where they’re privatizing every aspect of our lives as we know it. So, wake up! Wake up! Let’s look at what’s happening.”
Notice that Johnson isn’t bugged by the ability of Big Labor to extract billions of dollars from workers and then use those dollars to power political speech and action that those workers may oppose. That’s fine. It’s corporations that are the problem.
Now, show of hands. Which of you dastardly corporations controlled Hank’s pattern of thinking when he said he feared that the island of Guam might capsize? Was it you, Koch Industries? How about you, Halliburton?
Let me lay some science on Rep. Johnson. You’re not going to get your amendment, and Guam is in no danger of capsizing.
Go ahead, play the race card. Get it out of your system.
The Senate unanimously agreed to an amendment to the defense authorization bill to stop contracting with a Russian arms giant that is supplying the Syrian regime with weapons.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) has been leading a charge in the upper chamber against the Pentagon’s relationship with Rosoboronexport, which included a $375 million no-bid contract just two months after the Syrian uprising began. The Pentagon maintained that the Mi-17 helicopters requisitioned for the Afghanistan Air Force had to come from the sole entity controlling export of the crafts.
Until just three years ago, Rosoboronexport had been the subject of U.S. sanctions for assisting Iran’s nuclear and missile programs.
“The American taxpayer should not be indirectly subsidizing the mass murder of Syrian civilians, especially when there are perfectly good alternatives for purchasing these same arms through U.S. brokers,” Cornyn said.
“Continuing this robust business relationship with Rosoboronexport would continue to undermine U.S. policy on Syria and U.S. efforts to stand with the Syrian people.”
The amendment bans any Fiscal Year 2013 funding from being used by the Department of Defense to enter into new contracts or other business arrangements with Rosoboronexport.
In March, Cornynled a bipartisan letter in March to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta calling for an end to the government’s relationship with the arms giant.
In June, Cornyn told PJM that he hadn’t received any sort of “satisfactory response.”
“So far, we’ve been stiff-armed by the Department of Defense on this whole issue,” Cornyn said. “We’re not going to let this thing slide.”
In September, the Pentagon told Cornyn it was exploring other avenues by which to acquire the Mi-17s.
“The Department condemns the actions of Rosoboronexport in supplying arms and ammunition to the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, whose forces have used these weapons to murder Syrian civilians,” wrote Undersecretary of Defense Frank Kendall. “We are cognizant of the bipartisan concern in the Congress over both this company’s actions and the Department’s business relationship with it.”
In which Barack Obama owns his role as America’s Santa Claus.
“Joe Biden was in Costco and he wanted to buy some of this stuff, but I told him he had too much work to do. I wasn’t going to have him building roller coasters all day long. Now, of course, Santa delivers everywhere. I’ve been keeping my own naughty and nice list for Washington, so you should keep your eye on who gets some K’NEX this year. There are going to be some members of Congress who get them, and some who don’t,” President Obama said Friday at a rally where he pushed Congress to avoid the fiscal cliff.
Video at the link.
The AAA called for the Environmental Protection Agency to pump the brakes on a controversial ethanol blend of gas until there is more extensive testing and better consumer education on the risks of using E15, including known problems such as engine damage and voided warranties.
“A recent survey by AAA finds a strong likelihood of consumer confusion and the potential for voided warranties and vehicle damage as a result of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recent approval of E15 gasoline. An overwhelming 95 percent of consumers surveyed have not heard of E15, a newly approved gasoline blend that contains up to 15 percent ethanol,” the automobile association said in a statement today. “With little consumer knowledge about E15 and less than five percent of cars on the road approved by automakers to use the fuel, AAA is urging regulators and the industry to stop the sale of E15 until motorists are better protected.”
E15 is better known to many as the gas with a minimum 4-gallon purchase attached, raising protests that the government shouldn’t mandate a minimum fuel purchase.
“Only about 12 million out of the more than 240 million light-duty vehicles on the roads today are approved by manufacturers to use E15 gasoline, based on a survey conducted by AAA of auto manufacturers,” the group continued. “AAA automotive engineering experts also have reviewed the available research and believe that sustained use of E15 in both newer and older vehicles could result in significant problems such as accelerated engine wear and failure, fuel-system damage and false ‘check engine’ lights for any vehicle not approved by its manufacturer to use E15.”
A top congressional critic of E15 said AAA’s findings confirm what lawmakers have already heard about the fuel.
“Concerns about E15 are not diminishing, they are increasing. That is telling. When an organization like AAA, a nationally trusted source for motorists, calls out the EPA, you would think the Administration would listen,” said Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.).
“I introduced legislation to do exactly what AAA recommends. My legislation would require the EPA to task the National Academies of Science with conducting an unbiased study of E15,” he added.
That bill passed the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology by a vote of 19-7, and applies to gas blends of more than 10 percent ethanol.
Pretty soon only criminals will have bear spray and samurai swords, or something.
I soooo want our friends at Next Media Animation to animate this story. It has everything — wacky California, a stupid criminal, an attractive and plucky woman, and the attractive plucky woman mashes a criminal with creativity and style. While tweeting about it.
Sonya Yu, a San Francisco photographer, learned that the thief had been roaming her neighborhood stealing packages from doorsteps. He had allegedly stolen $1,000 worth of deliveries from Miss Yu herself.
On Tuesday, she put out a ‘bait package’ and waited on her balcony to see whether the burglar would try to steal it.
‘Apparently, our neighborhood thief has a violent rape rap sheet. My bear spray, bokken, & I are still not intimidated,’ she tweeted about 2.10pm.
A bokken is a wood samurai sword used for training.
At 4.45pm, she tweeted about writing her wedding vows and how she was certainly going to cry as she read them at her wedding.
Then, 30 minutes later, she tweeted: ‘I GOT HIM WITH THE BEAR SPRAY BUT HE ESCAPED.’
’8 COPS HAVE HIM & I JUST CONFIRMED ID,’ she wrote minutes later.
‘HE IS BEIN TAKEN AWAY IN AN AMBULANCE CUZ OF THE BEAR SPRAY I DOUSED HIM WITH,’ she added.
That’s just awesome. But not everyone is cheering our hero.
One angry online commenter wrote: ‘This is assault. Cops can’t beat suspected criminals who are fleeing, and citizens can’t blast them with bear spray. He had a knife? Please. You mean the one he opens packages with? Sonya was not in physical danger on her balcony… y’all are a bunch of Texans if you think this violence is justified.’
If that doesn’t typify some dolts…
At any rate, by the power inherent in me as a sovereign citizen, I hereby name Sonya Yu an Honorary Texan.
We do have a castle law here, and we’re looking at changing our gun law from concealed firearm carry to open carry.
Today, the New York Times spends four pages, thousands of words and a multimedia slide show to tell the world that we’re less taxed now than we were in 1980. Headline: Complaints Aside, Most Face Lower Tax Burden Than in the Reagan ’80s.
The Times then pulls some hacky sleight of hand that will only fool liberals, using 1980 as its banner year. The obvious implication is that the current economy could do with higher taxes, which just happens to be the Democratic Party’s position in the fiscal cliff negotiations. The other obvious implication is that if higher tax rates were good enough for the man most identified with 1980, Ronald Reagan, well then they should be good enough for John Boehner et al.
The obvious problem with the Times’ second obvious implication: Those high 1980 tax rates and their drag on the economy helped elect Reagan. He started cutting taxes after his inauguration, which was in 1981. And the economy grew enormously. That growth undercuts the Times’ first implication.
If the Times really wanted to inform its cocooned readers (stop laughing), it could go back and take a look at one of the last times Democrats promised Republicans they would cut spending in exchange for tax cuts. That was in 1983, which is in the vicinity of the Times’ benchmark 1980 year. The Times could also go back and take a look at the last time Democrats and Republicans came together on a comprehensive immigration reform plan that included both beefed up security and paths to legalization for the illegal aliens where here at the time. That was in 1986.
In both cases, the Reagan Republicans accepted deals with the Democrats in good faith, and in both cases, the Democrats failed to live up to their ends of the deals. Is there any reason for Republicans to believe that the current crop of Democrats will be any more faithful, or that their word holds any more value, now than it did during the Reagan years?
But whatever. History is boring.
There are two uses of sign language in the following clip. One is a white flag. The other is a blinking red light.
The fellow waving the sugar sack white flag is Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma.
NASA’s Messenger spacecraft has sent an intriguing message back to Earth from Mercury: There’s water ice and organic compounds on the planet closest to the Sun.
New observations by the MESSENGER spacecraft provide compelling support for the long-held hypothesis that Mercury harbors abundant water ice and other frozen volatile materials in its permanently shadowed polar craters.
Three independent lines of evidence support this conclusion: the first measurements of excess hydrogen at Mercury’s north pole with MESSENGER’s Neutron Spectrometer, the first measurements of the reflectance of Mercury’s polar deposits at near-infrared wavelengths with the Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA), and the first detailed models of the surface and near-surface temperatures of Mercury’s north polar regions that utilize the actual topography of Mercury’s surface measured by the MLA. These findings are presented in three papers published online today in Science Express.
Neumann and his colleagues report that the first MLA measurements of the shadowed north polar regions reveal irregular dark and bright deposits at near-infrared wavelength near Mercury’s north pole.
According to Paige, the dark material is likely a mix of complex organic compounds delivered to Mercury by the impacts of comets and volatile-rich asteroids, the same objects that likely delivered water to the innermost planet.The organic material may have been darkened further by exposure to the harsh radiation at Mercury’s surface, even in permanently shadowed areas.
Both the ice and organics likely came from comets slamming into Mercury at points in the past. Ice can exist on the planet because of its extreme environment. Its sunward side bakes at 800 degrees F, but its night side and poles are deep freezes at -300. Stuff that falls in craters, or slams into the planet to create craters, in the polar regions tends to get frozen forever.
The presence of water ice at the poles does suggest that spacecraft could extract the oxygen to refuel there. While you’re gassing up it’s probably not a good idea to step out for a little sun without serious protection. If you stepped into the sunlight you’d burst into *flames.
There has been speculation that the Mars rover Curiosity found organics in the soil of the red planet, but that was shot down yesterday. Whatever Curiosity has found, it’s not organics. Maybe the rover found one of the many lost orbiters sent to check the place out. Or Jimmy Hoffa.
At any rate, organics ended up being found on Mercury first.
*Or, you would, if Mercury had an atmosphere capable of supporting flames, which it doesn’t. But it’s still lethally hot. Maybe we can convince Harry Reid there’s a cowboy poetry festival there that he just has to attend.
“We go from one to another,” one homeowner said. “We go from FEMA to our homeowners. My homeowners’ insurance offered me $150. What can I do with that?”
Borough President James Molinaro almost accidentally riffed the old Reagan line about the most terrifying words in the English language during Thursday night’s meeting: “We’re from the government, and we’re here to help.”
“We are friends, we’re here to help,” he said. “There’s a lot of confusion. There’s a lot of statements and mis-statements being made by individuals.”
Individuals still without homes, whom President Obama promised FEMA would help out. FEMA hasn’t helped, and Obama is about to jet off to Hawaii for vacation. I’m not slamming Molinaro, who is the first Conservative to hold his office in New York City. He’s doing his best in an awful situation. He’s already on the record
blasting the Red Cross for raking in cash from donors but not helping people on the ground in the hurricane zone.
Being a government official on hand, Molinaro found himself a target.
“You think it’s a joke? You really think this is a joke,” one angry man yelled. “You go home for the holidays. I don’t. But you sit there with your dumb smile. You know what? I wish it was election year, because you’d do better this year.”
Well, it is an election year at the national level and it’s likely that most in the crowd voted to re-elect the malignant incompetent Barack Obama. Staten Island was a GOP bastion but has been trending Democrat in recent years.
In an ironic twist, Conservative Molinaro is likely to pay a higher price for FEMA’s failures than Democrat Obama ever will.
A 2007-vintage Barack Obama might look at the government’s response to Hurricane Sandy and conclude that race is behind the uncaring response.
It looks like one of the winners of this week’s massive $587.5 million dollar Powerball lives in Prince Georges County, MD and bought his ticket in Arizona. WJLA TV obtained security cam footage of a man who enters a PG County store, pulls out his tickets for the customary numbers check, and discovers that against all the odds, he won.
The man’s identity has still not been made public.
Whoever he is, he’ll have to go back to Arizona to claim the prize. So chances are, he’s already on a commercial plane and thinking of buying a private one.
Despite some recent positive economic indicators, small businesses and everyday Americans are still hurting during these difficult economic times.
Washington is a city with a hard-working but struggling population. According to the U.S. Census, nearly a fifth of the city’s population lives below the poverty line. In the face of that challenge, what is the city doing to help?
One local government action that is not helping is a tax on every single bag taken from a grocery or retail store. At a time when Washington has the third-highest poverty rate in the nation, city politicians thought it fit to artificially raise residents’ grocery bills through an unnecessary tax.
As the President and CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, I am dedicated to advancing the interests of Black–owned businesses. An unnecessary tax on bags at the check-out counter is damaging to all businesses and it’s especially hard on the Black community in Washington D.C.
Government’s priority needs to be economic empowerment and support for businesses and communities. City government clearly has misguided priorities if it is imposing additional costs on businesses and consumers for the sake of reducing plastic bags.
These misguided priorities are evidenced by the lack of transparency concerning the real purpose of the bag tax. Some reports have indicated that tax revenues have been directed to help prosperous District homeowners pave their driveways as part of a program to direct rain runoff.
It’s time for the city government to be honest with the city’s residents. Whenever I turn on the television, I see city-sponsored advertisements supporting the tax. Is funding for these ads – which could be used to help educate schoolchildren – also coming from this newfound tax revenue?
From a business angle, the bag tax has harmed small businesses in an already difficult economic climate. Far from helping, a Beacon Hill Institute report argues that the tax cost over one hundred jobs and reduced real disposable income by $5.64 million. In D.C.’s hardest-hit communities, every job and every dollar counts.
The Beacon Hill Institute also anticipates a rebound in the use of plastic bags, as has occurred elsewhere. As residents of Washington return to more regular bag use, the costs of the tax will rise. The study expects over 130 jobs to be lost and $5.74 million in disposable income to be lost in 2016 alone. Policy should brighten the economic outlook, not worsen it.
The bag tax also hurts consumers, particularly the city’s African-American consumers, by artificially raising the cost of grocery trips. Given that a USDA study found that fully 10% of Washington D.C.’s households are food insecure, city government policy that adds to grocery bills is not just irresponsible, it’s flat out wrong.
D.C. residents have enough burdens. Nearly half of current D.C. high school freshmen will fail to graduate. Forty-three percent of all D.C. public school children are overweight or obese, which puts the District’s children among the unhealthiest in the country. Poverty in the District is high and rising. Given the scale of the city’s challenges, this attention to our grocery bag is unacceptable.
The National Black Chamber of Commerce recognizes the need for sustainable and green economic growth. But as a champion of African-American economic rights, we cannot support Washington’s tax on plastic bags. The tax hurts businesses, consumers and may be shifting money from the underserved to the well-off. These kinds of regulations are unnecessary even in the best of economic times.
Sure, the US could do away with paper dollars. The question is, can we do away with paper dollars competently?
American consumers have shown about as much appetite for the $1 coin as kids do their spinach. They may not know what’s best for them either. Congressional auditors say doing away with dollar bills entirely and replacing them with dollar coins could save taxpayers some $4.4 billion over the next 30 years.
Vending machine operators have long championed the use of $1 coins because they don’t jam the machines, cutting down on repair costs and lost sales. But most people don’t seem to like carrying them. In the past five years, the U.S. Mint has produced 2.4 billion Presidential $1 coins. Most are stored by the Federal Reserve, and production was suspended about a year ago.
That might be because the US dollar coins look so much like a brassy quarter that they confuse people. The lack of precious metals in them makes them less interesting to collectors and investors. The mint’s design error has made sightings of dollar coins in the wild about as frequent as sightings of Bigfoot popping the hood of a parked UFO.
At any rate, the savings we would get from switching to dollar coins have already been offset by the waste of creating the stockpile 2.4 billion dollar coins that no one wants, right? I bet they could move a bunch of dollar coins if they put Obama’s face on them, though.
Didja Notice the Slush Fund that the White House Tried to Establish in the Fiscal Cliff Negotiations?
In 2009, the Democrats passed and President Obama signed a stimulus package that cost nearly a trillion dollars and was supposed to fund “shovel ready” jobs on roads and bridges to get the economy moving. The “shovel ready” jobs turned out to be not so shovel ready, and the money ended up either being sent to Big Labor or wasted.
It was such a failure that President Obama just demanded another round of it.
The White House proposal would delay automatic cuts at federal agencies for one year while funding other Democratic priorities, including $50 billion for a new infrastructure bank and additional benefits for unemployed workers.
Barack Obama’s big idea for dealing with the fiscal cliff is to spend even more money, at his discretion and in a way that will bind recipients of the spending personally to him, while removing congressional power over the debt ceiling. He has already, via Harry Reid’s partisan hackery in the Senate, effectively done away with the requirement that Congress must pass budgets to fund the federal government.
What is going on here is simple and yet breathtaking. Barack Obama is making his move in this moment of manufactured crisis to seize full power over spending from the House, which is specifically given that power in the Constitution. He is effectively moving to turn all of Congress into a quaint relic, much as the House of Lords has long been on the other side of the Atlantic.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) lashed out at Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and accused him of using junk science to kill the last operating oyster cannery in her home state.
The Drakes Bay Oyster Company had been in a long fight with the Interior Department, who said the fourth-generation family business was harming harbor seal pups and native plants, and wanted to return the coastal region in Marin County to its natural state.
In 1972, the National Park Service purchased the land that housed the oyster operation and the owner reserved a 40-year right to continue its activities through November 30, 2012.
“I’ve taken this matter very seriously. We’ve undertaken a robust public process to review the matter from all sides, and I have personally visited the park to meet with the company and members of the community,” said Salazar in a statement yesterday. “After careful consideration of the applicable law and policy, I have directed the National Park Service to allow the permit for the Drakes Bay Oyster Company to expire at the end of its current term and to return the Drakes Estero to the state of wilderness that Congress designated for it in 1976. I believe it is the right decision for Point Reyes National Seashore and for future generations who will enjoy this treasured landscape.”
The popular business enjoyed strong community support and over the years millions of dollars in studies went into the protracted fight with the government.
“As stewards of the land, our practices are driven by a deep respect for the earth and the waters of the Estero ecosystem. The farms provide jobs, housing, and income to many locals, and are a significant part of the history and diversity of this thriving agricultural community,” the company said on its website.
Now, just before the holidays, 30 people are out of work.
“I am extremely disappointed that Secretary Salazar chose not to renew the operating permit for the Drakes Bay Oyster Company,” Feinstein said. “The National Park Service’s review process has been flawed from the beginning with false and misleading science, which was also used in the Environmental Impact Statement.”
The case divided California’s two Democratic senators, with Feinstein laboring to keep the business alive and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) supporting the environmentalists.
“The secretary’s decision effectively puts this historic California oyster farm out of business,” Feinstein said. “As a result, the farm will be forced to cease operations and 30 Californians will lose their jobs.”
After an impassioned speech about protecting the Constitution from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in a late-night session, the upper chamber approved an amendment to protect U.S. citizens from the president’s indefinite detention powers.
The amendment by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) aims to correct the broad authority given to the president in last year’s defense authorization bill. Feinstein’s attempt to amend that bill failed, but this year’s amendment passed 67-29.
With pictures of the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II propped behind her, Feinstein last night noted the bipartisan support for the amendment — and stressed that the detention powers in last year’s bill never even received a hearing in the Judiciary, Intelligence, or Armed Services committees.
Before the vote, Paul reminded his colleagues “that our oath of office says that we will defend the Constitution against enemies, foreign and domestic.”
“The freedom we fight for is the Bill of Rights, it is the Constitution. If we have careless disregard for the Constitution, what are we fighting for?” Paul said.
He formally objected to Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-S.C.) comments on the amendment, in which he said, “The American people don’t want to close Guantanamo Bay, which is an isolated military controlled facility, to bring these crazy bastards that want to kill us all to the United States.”
“I will tell you since I know this record of this debate will be widely read, that I want to make former objection to the crazy bastards standard. I don’t really think that if we’re going to have a crazy bastard standard that we shouldn’t have a right to trial by jury, because if we’re going to lock up all the crazy bastards, for goodness sakes – would you not want if you’re a crazy bastard to have a right to trial by jury?” Paul said.
“I think this is a very serious debate and should not be made frivolous,” Paul continued. “This is an ancient right that we have defended for 800 years, for goodness sakes. To say that habeas is due process is absurd. It’s the beginning of due process. If you don’t have a right to trial by jury, you do not have due process. You do not have a Constitution.”
“I am pleased to see a large bipartisan majority of the Senate support basic protections for all Americans,” said Lee after the vote. “Once again we prove that increasing security does not have to result in diminished liberty. Today we have reaffirmed our constitutional values and shown we are committed to being both free and safe.”
- Palestinians Win Their ‘Venomous’ Status Upgrade at the UN, by Bridget Johnson. Congress unleashes punitive responses, the White House is quiet, and Susan Rice acts mad.
- PJTV’s Instavision: Read My Lips: Why The ‘No-Tax-Hike’ Pledge IS an IQ Test for Republicans, by Glenn Harlan Reynolds. Click to watch video.
- Stay Hungry, Honey Boo Boo, by Michael Walsh. Americans don’t like plutocrats in the White House; they want to elect men for whom losing means losing everything.
- Meanwhile, UNESCO Chief Is Romancing Cuban Education, by Claudia Rosett. For UNESCO’s Irina Bokova, it appears that the paragon of education in Latin America is Communist Cuba.
- Doomsday Preppers Week 3: Child Abuse, by Bob Owens. This episode made me ill to watch.
- Governor Mike Huckabee Sings the Praises of Oliver Stone, by Ron Radosh. A simple question: Why?
A trio of senators have called for tougher sanctions against Iran to be tacked onto the defense authorization bill currently being considered in the upper chamber.
Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said even though current sanctions are having an economic impact on the Islamic Republic, it hasn’t been enough to curtail their nuclear development.
“By passing these additional measures ending sales to and transactions with Iranian sectors that support proliferation –energy, shipping, ship-building and port sectors as well as with anyone on our specially designated national list — we will send a message to Iran that they can’t just try to wait us out,” Menendez said.
“According to the latest report from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Iranian government continues to defy the international community by expanding its nuclear enrichment capacity and abusing human rights,” Kirk said. “We must prevent the Iranian regime from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability and make it U.S. policy to stand with the Iranian people in the face of oppression. This bipartisan amendment will greatly increase the economic pressure on the Iranian regime and send a clear message of support to the Iranian people.”
There are four main components to the amendment: It designates Iran’s energy, port, shipping, and ship-building Sectors as entities of proliferation concern, will sanction any transactions with these sectors and will block the property of any third party that engages in transactions with these sectors.
It imposes sanctions on persons selling or supplying a defined list of commodities to Iran relevant to Iran’s ship-building and nuclear sectors such as graphite, aluminum, steel, metallurgical coal and software for integrating industrial processes. The amendment also prevents Iran from circumventing sanctions on its Central Bank by receiving payment in precious metals.
The amendment designates the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting entity and its president as human rights abusers for their broadcasting of forced televised confessions and show trials and thereby blocks their assets and prevents other entities from doing business with the IRIB.
It also imposes new human rights sanctions on those in Iran who are engaged in corruption or the diversion of resources related to allowed goods (food, medicine, etc.) and that are preventing them from reaching the Iranian people.
“Time is running out for diplomacy with Iran,” said Lieberman. “We have a responsibility to do everything in our power to put crippling pressure on the Iranian government, and passing these new sanctions is absolutely critical to that effort.”
The Senate is voting on two amendments tonight, including the Feinstein-Lee indefinite detentions one, and will likely still be working through amendments tomorrow.
I begrudge no one their right to organize and join a union if they so choose. But these poor schlubs are being led down a primrose path to unemployment if they think that a burger or pizza joint can stay in business long if the workers are earning $15 an hour.
Fast-food workers at several restaurants in New York walked off the job on Thursday, firing the first salvo in what workplace experts say is the biggest effort to unionize fast-food workers ever undertaken in the United States.
The campaign — backed by community and civil rights groups, religious leaders and a labor union — has engaged 40 full-time organizers in recent months to enlist workers at McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Domino’s, Taco Bell and other fast-food restaurants across the city.
Leaders of the effort said that workers were walking off the job to protest what they said were low wages and retaliation against several workers who have backed the unionization campaign. They said it would be the first multi-restaurant strike by fast-food workers in American history, although it was unclear how many workers would walk off the job.
I don’t envy people who work in fast-food restaurants, but neither do I feel sorry for them. Life is full of choices. Nobody is forcing anyone to work at McDonald’s. If you want something better, you have to better yourself. You have better your skills to make yourself more employable in higher-paying, higher-skilled positions.
Unless you’re an actor:
Raymond Lopez, 21, an aspiring actor who has worked at the McDonald’s for more than two years, showed up on his day off to protest. “In this job having a union would really be a dream come true,” said Mr. Lopez, who added that he makes $8.75 an hour. He said that he, and fellow fast-food workers, were under-compensated. “We don’t get paid for what we do,” he said. “It really is living in poverty.”
Au contraire, Mr. Lopez. You get paid exactly for what you do — a job that any 15 year old can perform with three days training. If you can organize a union under the trying circumstances of massive turnover and generally apathetic workers, I wish you the best.
McDonald’s took the high road:
McDonald’s issued a statement about the incipient unionization push. “McDonald’s values our employees and has consistently remained committed to them, so in turn they can provide quality service to our customers,” the company said.
It added that the company had an “an open dialogue with our employees” and always encouraged them to express any concerns “so we can continue to be an even better employer.” McDonald’s noted that most of its restaurants were owned and operated by franchisees “who offer pay and benefits competitive within the” industry.
What would a Big Mac cost if the workers were earning $15 an hour with union health care and other benefits? No doubt there are regional variations in price, but in my neck of the woods, a Big Mac is $3.79 and a Whopper is $4.89. So figure a $7 Big Mac and $8 Whopper if workers at my local burger joints unionize. At those prices, I’d go to a nice sit-down restaurant and get decent service. And I doubt that too many harried working mothers would spend $25-$30 a few times a month taking their kids out for a fast-food treat.
If the United States had restored the love and credibility from the world that Barack Obama’s election was supposed to bring, then the United Nations would not have voted to make Palestine a nonmember observer state. The vote would not have happened.
If we had a competent Secretary of State and if we had a competent American representative at the UN, they would have been able to keep the vote from happening. Whether by persuasion, promises or threats, they would have been reduced to whining bit players who were irrelevant to the moment.
But they were, and now the United States has been dealt an embarassing, humiliating diplomatic defeat in front of the whole world. It follows Ambassador Rice’s embarrassing failures to secure real sanctions against the Iranian nuclear program. The sanctions she has secured have so many holes that they are sanctions in name only.
Today’s vote follows another major diplomatic defeat for the US since President Obama’s re-election. On Nov. 20 the US was shut out of a new trans-Pacific trading partnership. President Obama himself attended the summit to argue for an American presence, but he failed to make the sale, and we’re shut out.
As Spangler reported:
Instead, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, plus China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, will form a club and leave out the United States. As 3 billion Asians become prosperous, interest fades in the prospective contribution of 300 million Americans—especially when those Americans decline to take risks on new technologies. America’s great economic strength, namely its capacity to innovate, exists mainly in memory four years after the 2008 economic crisis.
A minor issue in the election campaign, the Trans-Pacific Partnership initiative was the object of enormous hype on the policy circuit. Salon.com enthused Oct. 23, “This agreement is a core part of the “Asia pivot” that has occupied the activities of think tanks and policymakers in Washington but remained hidden by the tinsel and confetti of the election. But more than any other policy, the trends the TPP represents could restructure American foreign relations, and potentially the economy itself.”
As it happened, this grand, game-changing vision mattered only to the sad, strange people who concoct policy in the bowels of the Obama administration. America’s relative importance is fading.
Indeed. When we go over the fiscal cliff and slash our military to the bone, we will become even more irrelevant. Except, maybe, as the world’s scapegoat for wrecking the global economy, that is.
Heckuva job, Obama.
Well, here at least is a sign of sanity in the Republican leadership.
Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, says he “burst into laughter” Thursday when Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner outlined the administration proposal for averting the fiscal cliff. He wasn’t trying to embarrass Geithner, McConnell says, only responding candidly to his one-sided plan, explicit on tax increases, vague on spending cuts.
Geithner suggested $1.6 trillion in tax increases, McConnell says, but showed “minimal or no interest” in spending cuts. When congressional leaders went to the White House three days after the election, Obama talked of possible curbs on the explosive growth of food stamps and Social Security disability payments. But since Geithner didn’t mention them, those reductions appear to be off the table now, McConnell says.
Obama also wants an unlimited debt ceiling, or to be more accurate, no debt ceiling at all. Couple that with a future of no budgets and a president who knows he has hacked Congress into irrelevance by using Harry Reid as an adjunct of his West Wing, and you have a president who is offering a “deal” one would offer to a totally defeated and decimated foe.
The congressional Republicans don’t have a lot of leverage, but they’re not totally defeated and decimated. They do control the House and most governorships. The 2014 map favors a GOP takeover in the Senate. Obama did not win the kind of mandate that he is asserting.
If Obama keeps this up, we will go over the cliff. It will be his fault, but the media will not hold him to account.
This game is about destroying what’s left of the checks on Obama’s power, and destroying the Republican party at the same time. There’s no other way to explain why he would have Geithner offer such a one-sided, unserious deal. He doesn’t want a deal, and he isn’t bluffing. The president wants to wreck the US economy so that he will have the chance to fundamentally transform it.
McConnell et al have to finally figure out what they’re dealing with and go on offense against him. If they don’t, he’ll either squeeze them into making a deal that their base will hate, or he will roll us over the cliff while they take all of the blame. Win or die.
The chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee sounded the warning alarm today about increased Syrian activity in the Western Hemisphere.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) noted that nearly a year after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s “Tour of Tyrants” trip to Latin America, the Syrian regime sent their deputy foreign minister to meet with the regimes in Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Ecuador.
“One state sponsor of terrorism after another continues to receive the royal treatment from these tyrants of Latin America,” she said. “It is appalling, but not surprising, that these leftist pariah governments openly embrace violent rogue nations that support extremism worldwide.”
Ros-Lehtinen sees it as an effort for flailing Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad to win support for his largely shunned regime.
“The increased Iranian and Syrian activity in our own backyard poses a clear and growing threat to U.S. and regional security interests. These rogue states have seized the opportunity to create a platform to disseminate and legitimize their belligerent actions in order to further their cruel political agendas and oppress their own people,” she said.
“Chavez and his autocratic cohorts like Ortega, Correa, and the Castro brothers have seen fit to provide the Syrian and Iranian dictatorships with a lifeline to skirt sanctions while thumbing their noses at the U.S. and the rest of the world,” Ros-Lehtinen added. “It is essential that the U.S. impose stricter sanctions to tighten the noose around these sadistic tyrants and sanction any entity that continues to provide support to these designated state sponsors of terrorism.”
The Syrian envoy, Faisal Al Mokdad, received words of support from the Latin American regimes as Assad has killed some 40,000 civilians.
Speaker John Boehner is tweaked that his late-night phone call with President Obama got leaked to Politico.
Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio and Republican leaders are fuming after a late night phone call with President Barack Obama was leaked to the press, despite an agreement that it would not be, according to several GOP aides.
Republicans believe the administration leaked details of the 30-minute Wednesday night phone call to Politico, which is causing them to question whether they can trust the White House to keep details private, a sentiment that has caused progress in the negotiations over the “fiscal cliff” to stall.
White House aides, however, denied that the leak came from the administration.
Get the Director of National Intelligence on the phone, stat! He thinks the Muslim Brotherhood is secular and can’t find a talking-point editor in Washington. Surely he can fail to find out who leaked a two-sided phone call.
Oh, and by the way, of course the Republicans can’t trust Obama. If they’re just now figuring this out, they’re wearing the “Stupid Party” title out.
The speakers bureau Royce Carlton sent out an email today offering the plagiarist Fareed Zakaria to speak about energy issues. After all, Zakaria is a fracking expert – and what he doesn’t know, he can just make up (or plagiarize).
I spoke with Robert S. Levinson, Account Executive at Royce Carlton. He told me that Zakaria’s price to speak about energy is $85,000. Eighty five large, from an admitted dishonest plagiarist.
Yesterday I spoke at Roger Williams School of Law (for significantly less than $85,000, and I wrote my own speech!). A panelist mentioned Zakaria, and people in the audience started to laugh. Yes, Zakaria has become a laugh line. And so has CNN for continuing to put the plagiarist on the air.
Royce Carlton probably doesn’t know that their $85,000 speaker is a punch line, a punch line about liars. They will tut-tut from their Manhattan offices that Zakaria is “so smart” and can share his global views on fracking and renewables, and other such blah blah blah.
On the flight home yesterday from Rhode Island was a hard working flight attendant. She told one passenger than in her previous three jobs, all worked at once, she made $12,000 a year. She became a flight attendant to make just a bit more, but the work was more enjoyable.
Think about it, we have people who are admitted plagiarists like Fareed Zakaria who make $85,000 for a 40 minute speech about something he knows next to nothing about. Many elites reading this will sit there thinking, “sour grapes,” or “why not?” or feel tingles about how sophisticated and insightful Zakaria is. Meanwhile most of America, used to playing by the rules, bust their tails year round while phonies like Zakaria enrich themselves with no shame.
The war against morality is in full swing in America. It appears the extreme left-wing is winning. It’s not just fake Catholics like the Democrats’ leader in the House Nancy Pelosi or her equally spiritually vapid counterpart in the Senate John Kerry. They are just inspiration for the small, and I want to stress small, but incredibly determined army of the morally bankrupt in America. The last election had no room for so-called social issues. In fact, both political parties agreed to marginalize and ignore the fabric of who we are. This abandonment of principle led to the defeat of two Senatorial candidates. Well, it was that and their ham-handed defense of the nation’s morality. The economy and jobs were issues one, two and three. But I contend it’s the lack of a robust defense of the nation’s morality that has led us to this sorry state to begin with. And it’s all part of the left’s plan.
“Don’t judge me man,” is a statement that only partially describes the extreme left-wing’s visceral aversion to faith. The success of the liberal agenda is only possible is Americans are divorced from any sense of morality. Admittedly the actions of a select few have made this task easier. Pedophile priests, conservatives who decide to have extra-marital affairs or politicians who abandon defense of a morality in America, are used to great effect by plotting leftists. But these human failings notwithstanding, it’s instructive for Americans to look at how the left uses these cases as billy clubs to indict faith in general. Does human failure reflect negatively on the message of religion? Americans must ask, because our complicit media won’t, what does the left find so objectionable about the world’s major religions? Is it the respect for life? Is it the idea of peace on Earth and good will toward men? Is it the clear understanding of right and wrong? Humans fail. That’s part of our nature. But that doesn’t or shouldn’t open the door to bash faith in general.
How else could the most extreme left-wing president ever to occupy the White House possibly win re-election? The economy is in the toilet, unemployment is sky high, yet Americans re-elected a man who promised to raise taxes on a certain group so as to redistribute their wealth to others who’ve suffered under his polices. A few short years ago our petulant, novice president would have been laughed out of Washington along with his band of acolytes. But that didn’t happen. The reason it didn’t happen is perhaps the left’s greatest victory over America to date. A moral people would dismiss President Obama’s redistributionist polices as immoral. They’d reject the idea of passing unplayable debt onto generations to come. Even children know it’s wrong to take, by force, what is earned by one and give it away to others. But liberals, through the press and popular culture, have been successful in convincing Americans that their tax money is better used in the hands of some wasteful and inefficient programs in Washington. They’ve forgotten that the money would be better used by private charities that make sure the truly needy would get help. But suffering and fear can be powerful tools to force men and women, worried about providing the basics for their family, to compromise their most deeply held beliefs. Excessive government created our nation’s ills. And the left is ready with more government as the only cure for those ills. Many Americans find themselves asking, “How did we get here?” The answer rests in us. We failed to push back against the left-wing’s attacks on the nation’s morality.
The Net has been buzzing with speculation that the Mars rover Curiosity has found something important on the surface of Mars.
The Curiosity rover may have found organic compounds on Mars, Jet Propulsion Laboratory director Charles Elachi told conference attendees in Rome on Wednesday, according to multiple reports.
“Perhaps Curiosity has found simple organic molecules,” Elachi said at La Sapienza University, according to La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno. “It’s preliminary data that must be checked (on) organic, not biological, molecules.”
The statement figures to set off a new round of speculation and excitement about the possibility of life on Mars, although JPL representatives maintain that no major announcements are forthcoming.
Earlier this month, Curiosity project scientist John Grotzinger told NPR that recent data would be “one for the history books.”
“One for the history books.” Well, we can rule out organic compounds because JPL announced today that that isn’t what Curiosity has found.
I’m not sure that finding organic compounds fits the “history books” bill, though it would be an interesting find. We haven’t found them on Mars yet and my knowledge of this area of astronomy is a bit rusty, but organics were found in comets years ago. It would not be much of a shock to find simple organic compounds on or or near the surface of Mars. Unless the organics had some trace of biological origin. Then, it would be a whole new ballgame. Or we might be back to an old ballgame. But it would be interesting. Supposedly we’ll find out what Curiosity has found on Monday at the American Geophysical Union’s meeting in San Francisco. My hat is off to the public outreach folks at JPL, who have done a great job ramping up curiosity about Curiosity.
By the way, if you happened to look up in the night sky near the Moon last night, you saw a very bright object glowing just above it. That wasn’t Mars, but it was Jupiter. The giant and Venus are both easily visible this month, and Jupiter and the Moon happened to be bright and in the same vicinity last night.
In his victory speech on election night, President Obama said, “In the weeks ahead, I also look forward to sitting down with Governor Romney to talk about where we can work together to move this country forward.”
Sure enough, Obama and Romney sat down today. Here’s the readout from the White House about how that went:
This afternoon, President Obama and Governor Romney visited for an hour over lunch in the Private Dining Room adjacent to the Oval Office. Governor Romney congratulated the President for the success of his campaign and wished him well over the coming four years. The focus of their discussion was on America’s leadership in the world and the importance of maintaining that leadership position in the future. They pledged to stay in touch, particularly if opportunities to work together on shared interests arise in the future. Their lunch menu included white turkey chili and Southwestern grilled chicken salad.
At the daily White House press briefing, CBS Radio’s Mark Knoller asked, “Any chance your briefing might be interrupted by a joint appearance?”
“Uhh — no,” press secretary Jay Carney responded to laughter.
“There’s at least some chance we’ll release a photograph, which will go into the historical record,” he added. “It’s a private lunch, and we’re going to leave it at that.”
At the moment I’m only seeing one way out of the Republicans’ fiscal cliff corner. President Obama and the Democrats have the Republicans cornered, there is some division among their ranks, and the only thing being discussed with any vigor is the president’s ridiculous and irresponsible tax hikes. Those hikes would amount to a rounding error on the national debt if enacted, while they stand a good chance of hurting the economy going into next year.
President Obama clearly doesn’t care about hurting the economy. He says he does, but he doesn’t. If he did, he would not propose those tax hikes, and he would rein in his Environmental Protection Agency, he would halt his war on coal, and he would stop giving gifts to Big Labor, and he, frankly, would not have run for re-election. He remains fixated on his goal of “fundamentally transforming” America, and a bad economy is evidently among the means he intends to use to reach that goal. Democrats used a “health care crisis (OMG!)” to force through a law that does not fix said crisis, but empowers Democrats by shifting the entire national political conversation leftward. They will use an economic crisis, again, to force their own policies on the rest of us. It’s how they roll.
So what do the Republicans do when dealing with such a man and the party he leads?
Speaker Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have got to force the Democrats into getting detailed and specific on what spending cuts they will and will not contemplate. This will take a flood the zone approach, on cable nets, in prime time speeches, in ads — the works. The comms should frame the debate as the tax and spend liberal Democrats against main street. Go populist and prepare to take no prisoners.
Will the Democrats roll back the 32% welfare spending increase since Obama took office? Why or why not, and show your work.
Will they consider putting off or stopping the implementation of ObamaCare, which will cost the federal government and the states far more than the American people were told when the Democrats passed the bill? Why or why not, and show your work.
Will the Democrats consider cutting the National Endowment for the Arts or any of the other thousands of programs that we don’t need and can no longer afford? How about public radio and public TV? Why or why not, and show your work.
What I mean by show your work, is justify the inevitable Democrat defense of these programs in detail.
The Republicans are also going to have to bring the “tax and spend liberal” meme back into vogue. Use it in every public statement and web video and press release and talking point until the Democrats and everyone else gets sick of hearing it. Find ridiculous items in the budget and force the Democrats to defend them. Make them defend every insane penny they’re spending. Make them get specific. None of this “we’ll raise taxes now in return for the promise of spending cuts later” nonsense. We’ve seen that play out before. The Democrats always lie and increase spending after they get their tax increase, and then they turn around and use the tax hike to destroy Republicans.
That’s how they roll.
One of the most stubborn Senate Democrats on the fiscal cliff negotiations said she believes Republicans are beginning to realize that refusing to raise taxes on the upper-income brackets “is a dead end argument for them.”
“I think there’s a growing understanding among Republicans that putting us in that position doesn’t help them at all, the country at all and does put us in jeopardy,” Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said yesterday on MSNBC. “So accepting that now, which the country spoke out on in the election, the president won on this issue. The Democratic Senate won on this issue, numerous people talked about this.”
“We have talked for a number of years now about the challenges we have in terms of the debt and deficit and our long term programs. Everybody knows that we have to deal with that in a realistic way. But we have not talked about the investments that are needed in this country that will help make us stronger in the future,” she added. “Whether we’re talking about education or job training or investment in our infrastructure or providing the services for our veterans when they come home or those kinds of things that we can’t just continue to talk about cutting government.”
On Hannity last night, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), who’s taking heat for saying a deal is more important than Grover Norquist’s tax pledge, stressed “you just can’t have a hundred percent of everything you want.”
“If Speaker Boehner and Eric Cantor have said, they’re willing to put revenues on the table, then it’s incumbent upon the president to come forward and say, OK, we’ll going to put entitlements on the table in a big way, and we’re going to get this done, and he’s not doing that,” he said. “And I was disappointed to hear some of my colleagues in the Senate say, yesterday that, well, you know, you give us the revenues, and then we’ll talk about entitlement reform later. Ain’t going to happen. We’re not going there.”
The senator also explained his disagreement with the Americans for Tax Reform leader.
“The Simpson-Bowles plan that came out that said we’re going to address the long-term debt of this country, recommended that you eliminate all tax credits and tax inclusions in a major tax reform package. The gang of six that I was a part of, still I’m a part of, followed that recommendation. We think you ought to eliminate all of that. That will generate about $1.2 trillion in revenue. No new taxes. Revenue. Then you decide whether you’re going to add the mortgage interest deduction, charitable deduction, other things back in there,” Chambliss said.
“So the question is, what do you do with that revenue that’s been generated? We owe $16 trillion. I think that you got to pay part of that revenue towards that debt just like every single American that owns a home pays part of their monthly revenue towards their mortgage debt,” he continued. “It’s exactly the same thing. The problem that Grover and I have is that he says, if you do that, that’s a tax increase, because the rest of it is going to go to lowering tax rates, and that’s not 100 percent going to lowering tax rates.”
Middle East Wars kill people, but they add life to the careers of journalists who substitute their own prejudices for fact-based analysis.
The Wednesday War (eight days from Wednesday to Wednesday) against Hamas terror is a good example. It spurred sloppy reporting and idiotic analysis masquerading as expertise.
Here are a few classic cases:
- David Carr, media reporter of The New York Times, writing from New York, accused Israel of murdering journalists in The Wednesday War in Gaza. There are several problems with the story:
Carr was not on the scene. He never got any closer to Gaza than the Waldorf Astoria, where he was covering a conference of journalists. Second, Carr, never did any reporting close to the event or any serious research after the event. Carr relied on unsubstantiated charges which he said came from other journalistic sources.
“Journalists who dig into murky and dangerous corners of the world have become accustomed to being threatened and sometimes hunted by drug lords and gangsters, but now some governments have decided shooting the messenger is a viable option,” wrote Carr, citing Israel as an example of a regime that regularly kills the messenger.
When pressed by critics, Carr insisted that news organizations had reported that Israel killed journalists. He did not mention that the reports came out of Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas, a terror organization that, like Hizballah and the PLO, has frequently falsified “evidence” and frequently intimidated journalists deliberately.
Arab terror groups often accuse Israel of killing “journalists” or “doctors,” but some of the “journalists” and “doctors” work for Hamas-Hizballah-PLO, even using ambulances to ferry terrorists. For example, Wafa Idris, the first Palestinian suicide bomber, snuck into Jerusalem in an ambulance.
Those familiar with the way The New York Times has covered the Middle East for many years will not be surprised by Carr’s story. John Kifner and Thomas. Friedman covered Beirut for The Times in the 1980′s the same way, as defense attorneys for the PLO, often near-blind to Syrian atrocities, but always ready to accuse Israel.
Kifner was among five reporters who were abducted by a Palestinian terror group which threatened and intimidated them. The terrorists even pretended to carry out phony executions. Kifner did not write the story, avoiding the truth until an Israeli official embarrassed the Times into writing an account.
When the somewhat trepidatious account was accidentally published in the International Herald Tribune—which was sold in Beirut—Kifner, who saw himself as an intrepid war reporter in a flak jacket, hopped the first plane out of town.
Kifner, the brave war correspondent, returned to Beirut only after his colleague, NYT correspondent Henry Tanner, made a tour of several Arab countries and got promises from several governments and branches of the PLO that the NY Times brave correspondent could safely correspond.
Breitbart has the story. The gist: The UN will grant Palestine status as a non-member “observer state” today. The UN has conspired with the PA’s supporters to create the image of global cheers for the move.
The extraordinary scheme to deny access to the General Assembly to an unpalatable, though formally accredited, UN NGO looked like this.
Yesterday, the UN Division for Palestinian Rights sent a letter to the UN pass office to insist that they step in to deny invitees of the UN-accredited Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust, the passes they had duly requested in writing. (A copy of the letter follows this article, below.)
The passes had in fact already been printed and issued (see below), but after receiving the Palestinian branch’s demand, UN security officials took the extraordinary step of insisting upon their return. The denial affects 23 Jewish young adults who were part of an educational program associated with the Taglit-Birthright Israel alumni community.
The Jewish group had requested passes for November 29, 2012 to attend separate events: the “UN Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People” in the morning and, the General Assembly debate on “The Question of Palestine” which commences at 3 p.m. in the afternoon. Solidarity Day is an annual event that takes place on the anniversary of the General Assembly vote of November 29, 1947 to partition Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state. Sixty-five years ago, the resolution was immediately rejected by all Arab countries, but welcomed by the soon-to-be citizens of Israel.
Solidarity Day is widely advertised, including on the UN website, with the words “NGOs are invited to attend.”
Unless they’re Jewish and visiting the same day the UN is set to embrace the terrorist Hamas government of the PA.
Read the whole thing.
Vice President Joe Biden’s rolled from the Naval Observatory shortly after 9 a.m. this morning, headed for a secret location.
That turned out to be Washington’s first Costco store, which opened today on the east side of town by the Anacostia River.
Biden was greeted at Costco by CEO Craig Jelinek and co-founder Jim Sinegal, who spoke at the Democratic National Convention this year. He plunked down $55 yesterday to bring his expired membership card up to date, and today grabbed a cart and went to town. “In all honesty, I didn’t have my own card, Jill wouldn’t let me have one,” he said. “I went to get my wife’s card, and she said, ‘No, No, get your own card.’”
Biden did a full trip through the store and stopped to wolf down the signature array of free samples.
By checkout time, his cart included a big box of fireplace logs, flowers, children’s books, a 32-inch TV, and a large apple pie.
Of course, the shopping spree was linked to a White House push to extend just the middle-class tax cuts, proclaiming “consumer confidence is growing; the last thing we need to do is dash that.”
One shopper shouted “four more years” at Biden.
Biden hugged and chatted with shoppers, including placing a call on the cell phone of one woman who burst into tears. The pool couldn’t hear what they were talking about.
He drew the line, though, when employees tried to lure him into the tire department.
“Hey man, I don’t need tires,” he said. “I don’t drive anymore.”
At lunchtime, President Obama will be sitting down with Mitt Romney at the White House in a closed-press meeting.