Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Here's Where Things Stand

Normally, the lame duck Congress does very little. It may wrap up some unfinished business that was pushed until the end of the year, or perhaps rename some Post Offices or something like that. Not this time! No, this is the final window of rule for the radical Leftist liberals in the Democrat party, and they're savaging the country for all they're worth while they can. Think I'm exaggerating? Let's take a look at what they've done in the past few days.

Assumed control of the Internet
No one likes this. NO ONE. The FCC ignored all precedent of staying hands off, ignored previous Congressional legislation to prevent just this sort of power grab, and ignored a federal judge explicitly prohibiting the FCC from doing what they just did. The rule of law? It means nothing to these people. There will be significant legal challenges and battles yet to be fought, but make no mistake this is probably the most significant effort to revoke freedom of speech in recent memory and absolutely must be rolled back when the new session of Congress convenes.

Homeland Security will now conduct warfare on...climate change
I can't decide if this is hilarious or stupidity par excellance. Probably both. Not only has the very idea of man-made climate change been utterly disproven, but most Americans now oppose the idea of any climate change legislation, much less the kind of jobs-killing, economy-stunting, green-everything crap the environmentalist wackos want to pass. It's even more ridiculous, then, that the Obama administration is fighting this non-issue using the Department of Homeland Security.

We're mostly dedicated to protecting America from terrorism...
Speaking of DHS, Janet 'Big Sis' Napolitano recently stated in no uncertain terms that the U.S. government is working hard to protect Americans from terrorism...364 days out of the year. Hm. I wonder if they're going to tell us which particular day they're not going to give a crap? Or, maybe, she's referring to the day before Thanksgiving, when they turned off all the strip search scanners to avoid even more controversy. Either way, I'm not sure I've ever felt more secure and protected. How about you?

...But we'll probably not catch 'em all
The Department of Justice head recently said that he's most concerned about domestic terrorism from American citizens, and warned that eventually we'll have to be prepared to hear the 'bad news'. Could this be referring to the DHS declaration two years ago that radical right-wing extremists (people who were opposed to abortion, Obamacare, and anything else on their agenda) were their biggest concern? Are they preemptively offering an excuse because they know they're dismantling our country's ability to defend itself? If there truly is a threat from domestic American citizens, what are they doing to identify and stop these dangerous American citizens, and what are the common themes that connect all of them? Never mind the fact that the last 50 terrorists apprehended have all -- ALL -- been radical Muslims...we must keep groping and strip searching nuns and children at airports.

...Especially not if they carry guns
No joke. A guy accidentally carried a gun onto the plane in his carry-on bag, and the TSA didn't catch it. Seriously, at what point can we get rid of the sexual assaults and strip search scanners?

No crib for you!
Speaking of takeovers, the feds have declared that all cribs with a side that lowers will be illegal to sell...even second hand. Never mind that more babies will be dropped, that wheelchair-bound mothers will be in a bind, and so on. Like the FCC takeover, this is another example of an unelected bureaucrat invoking authority it doesn't have to make up unnecessary regulations that will have serious implications on our daily lives. At what point will Americans simply declare ENOUGH and kick the federal government back to its Constitutionally authorized role?

Don't Ask Don't Tell was repealed, much to the dismay of most members of the military. Gays will now be allowed to be openly gay in the military. Ironically, it's being hailed as a great civil rights achievement despite the fact that it was signed into law by Bill Clinton, a Democrat (because we all know that it's only Democrats who care about civil rights...except for the Republicans who passed the first two major civil rights bills decades ago over fierce Democrat opposition...forget about them). I'm curious as to how many gays will actually want to join up now. I'll also be shocked if it will be long before the ability to live as openly gay somehow morphs into the inability for anyone to say anything bad or negative about any military member who is gay. Just a thought.

Small farmers, kiss your future goodbye
The so-called 'Food Safety Bill' recently passed by unanimous consent. This bill essentially gives the FDA vast new powers to regulate all aspects of food production -- for safety's sake, of course -- and will add huge new hurdles for small farmers.

It's not your inheritance
Democrats don't believe your money belongs to you. If you somehow manage to store up a bunch of it for your children, then they believe it's especially not yours. Watch out for more taxation on inherited wealth.

Senator Tom Coburn has a special place in his heart for pointing out government waste. This year's list of the top wasteful uses of your tax dollars is a doozy.

Disarming America
The Senate voted to pass the new START treaty which would essentially cut back America's nuclear weapons and dismantle America's missile defense system. In return, Russia will be required to do absolutely nothing. Smart power! It's things like this that make me want to throw out Republicans right alongside Democrats.

Worst of all, the lame duck session isn't over yet. But at least the DREAM Act was killed.

All this madness is what makes me say that
Americans are in the greatest danger when the federal government is in session.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Is The Internet About To Be Taken Over?

I've blogged about 'net neutrality' before, and now it's crunch time.  The FCC is taking a vote tomorrow on whether or not to implement regulations on the Internet.  For a detailed examination of how we got to this point, check out this story by Robert McDowell in the Wall Street Journal.  The bottom line is this:

For years, proponents of so-called "net neutrality" have been calling for strong regulation of broadband "on-ramps" to the Internet, like those provided by your local cable or phone companies. Rules are needed, the argument goes, to ensure that the Internet remains open and free, and to discourage broadband providers from thwarting consumer demand. That sounds good if you say it fast.

Nothing is broken and needs fixing, however. The Internet has been open and freedom-enhancing since it was spun off from a government research project in the early 1990s. Its nature as a diffuse and dynamic global network of networks defies top-down authority. Ample laws to protect consumers already exist. Furthermore, the Obama Justice Department and the European Commission both decided this year that net-neutrality regulation was unnecessary and might deter investment in next-generation Internet technology and infrastructure.

Analysts and broadband companies of all sizes have told the FCC that new rules are likely to have the perverse effect of inhibiting capital investment, deterring innovation, raising operating costs, and ultimately increasing consumer prices. Others maintain that the new rules will kill jobs. By moving forward with Internet rules anyway, the FCC is not living up to its promise of being "data driven" in its pursuit of mandates—i.e., listening to the needs of the market. ...

On this winter solstice, we will witness jaw-dropping interventionist chutzpah as the FCC bypasses branches of our government in the dogged pursuit of needless and harmful regulation.

The U.N. is also considering slapping regulations on the Internet, as well, making full use of the recent Wikileaks scandal.  Investor's Business Daily adds this:

This policy, as we've said before, would institute a dangerous system that would violate free speech and property rights. ...

Genachowski's plan is likely to be approved by the five-member commission, but that won't be the end of it. A group of GOP senators has sent a letter to Genachowski telling him, as Upton did, that they will work to rescind net neutrality if it becomes part of the nation's regulatory regime.

Those Republican senators will likely be helped by some Democratic colleagues, in addition to the support they'll be getting from the GOP House. Few on the Hill like what Genachowski is trying to do, which is both regulate beyond government's authority — the Republican complaint — and bypass the legislative process in doing it — which neither party cares for.

The Internet is in no need of supervision from the U.N. or Washington. It is an energetic, broadly accessible marketplace of ideas.

Expression is wide open on the Web, and commerce thrives there. It has evolved intelligently on its own — giving a master power to oversee it or to ensure a bureaucrat's or politician's sense of fairness is not only unnecessary, it's counterproductive.

As Rod Beckstrom, president and CEO of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, said in September at the Vilnius meeting that the Internet works. It lets us communicate on an unprecedented scale, and its relative lack of regulation has made "it a fertile field for innovation and competition."

The best thing for the U.N. and Washington to do is just stand back and let it flow.

As I said before, I think there are two reasons for the increasing interest in taking over the Internet.  First is financial - the vast majority of Internet commerce is untaxed, and government types look at that as an untapped treasure trove of your money that they can spend.  Second is that of control, especially for liberals.  The inherent nature of a free and unregulated Internet allows for freedom of speech, expression, and criticism.  It also allows for the dissemination of truth, both in word form and, especially with recent improvements in mobile computing and broadband, video form (and you know that a single vivid image or video clip will persuade people more than all the written words in the world).  Since the Left's ultimate goal is control, having a free and unregulated Internet is a gigantic obstacle that needs to be overcome.

If nothing else, just look at the lengths to which the current crop of Leftists in Washington are willing to go in order to institute this control.  They're going to break with almost two decades of precedence (since the beginning of the Internet), bypass the clear authority of Congress, and blatantly ignore an explicit ruling of a federal judge to get their fist around the Internet.

Make no mistake, this is a very, very serious first step.  I truly hope that the GOP has the stones to exert their power on this issue in January because if this clear infringement on freedom is implemented and allowed to stand, the days of expressing dissent from whatever the government says about anything are numbered.

When A Tax Cut Isn't Exactly A Tax Cut


It's time to get your oops on:

About 13.4 million taxpayers may be getting unexpected tax bills because they were awarded too much money under President Barack Obama's Making Work Pay tax credit, a government audit said Thursday.

The tax credit, which expires Jan. 1, was designed to increase take-home pay by about $8 a week through new tax withholding tables. The credit was capped at $400 for individuals and $800 for married couples filing jointly.

However, the credit put millions of taxpayers at risk for not having enough taxes withheld from their paychecks, resulting in a tax bill when they file their returns, said the audit by J. Russell George, the Treasury inspector general for tax administration.

Those at risk included people with multiple jobs, married couples who both work, Social Security recipients who also work, and young workers who are also claimed as dependents on their parents' tax returns.

This is what Barack Obama and the Democrats in Congress bragged about as being the tax 'cuts' they implemented for the middle class soon after they took over in 2008.  The first problem with that statement is that it was not actually a tax 'cut'.  A 'cut' would actually be a reduction in the rate of taxes paid by Americans, but this was simply a one-time tax rebate.  You probably got one yourself, unless you were in the top income tax bracket.  In reality, this was nothing more than a brazen effort to redistribute money from the top income earners to the bottom and middle income earners.  The second problem is that the IRS considered this redistribution a form of taxable income, so while you got this nice check in the mail from the top income bracket, it counted against you in what you would have to pay the next year.  The third problem is yet another illustration of just how incompetent the federal government is - they couldn't even correctly calculate a one-time tax refund for a few million people!  Isn't tax calculation the entire purpose of the IRS?  And they wonder why most Americans are skeptical of the government's ability to run a universal health care program that would include all 300+ million Americans??

These were all things that conservatives pointed out at the time this tax 'cut' was being debated, but we were scoffed at and derided as not supporting the middle class or as standing up for the rich.

James Madison once said, "If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions."  His if statement has become our reality, and it's bad news for most of us, as this whole episode plays out.

You know, it's great to be able to say 'I told you so', but wouldn't it be better if people listened to conservatives before 'I told you so' became necessary?

Friday, December 17, 2010

DREAM Update - Needs Action Today!

By way of follow up to the last post, Michelle Malkin gives us an update on the DREAM vote coming up fast:

Click here for your handy target phone list

 as we head toward the Saturday DREAM Act vote in the Senate.

Operation Buck Up

 has to be in full effect this afternoon.

The White House has enlisted left-wing open-borders religious leaders to lean on Senate Republicans who have supported DREAM in the past. Education Secretary Arne Duncan is also leading a last-ditch push to make illegal aliens' education a priority while strapped institutions are turning law-abiding citizens and law-abiding immigrants away.

What part of "no more illegal alien waivers" don't they understand?


From stalwart Sen. Jeff Sessions, one last action alert before the vote:




Senator Reid has filed cloture of the House-passed version of the DREAM Act, setting up a vote this Saturday as the lame-duck session continues. Stunningly, it is fifth version introduced in the Senate in just over 2 months. Not one of the versions has received committee process. In fact, the House bill was introduced just one day prior to passage. Further, Senator Reid filled the tree, and won't allow any amendments to the bill.

Though the DREAM Act would grant mass amnesty, the lack of hearings and committee process means the public and the Senate have not had time to analyze the proposal. The Congressional Budget Office says that the DREAM Act is expected to add more than $5 billion to the federal deficit—a figure that will grow given that the CBO fails to take into account a multitude of factors, such as the resulting litigation, fraud, and chain migration.

In addition to immediately placing an estimated 1–2 million illegal aliens on a path to citizenship (a number expected to grow since the bill has neither a cap nor a sunset), the DREAM Act will give them access to federal student loans and federal work-study programs. The bill allows illegal aliens to get legal status indefinitely by simply claiming they have a high school diploma or GED, and even opens eligibility to those with multiple criminal convictions.

Once naturalized, aliens granted DREAM Act amnesty will then have the legal right to petition for entry of their family members, including their adult siblings and the parents who illegally brought or sent them to the United States—easily tripling the number of green cards.

Americans reject amnesty as long as the unacceptable lawlessness continues. But this bill simply incentivizes and rewards more illegality. And, if it passes, what principle would lawmakers cite to object to another amnesty, for another group, and another one after that? Its passage will only encourage more people to unlawfully enter our country expecting a DREAM Act of their own.

The election on November 2nd cleaned out a boatload of the open borders crowd and replaced them with staunch supporters of border enforcement and reducing illegal immigration.  If we can hang on through this last desperate push by the amnesty crowd, the cavalry will have arrived by the next time Congress convenes in January, and we've set back the amnesty movement by at least a couple more years, maybe more.  With the vote being held on Saturday, today is your last chance to contact your Senators.  We know that the professional open borders phone-bankers are fully engaged in this fight, so it's up to individual citizens like you and me to counteract their false influence.  Pick up the phone (202-224-3121), write an e-mail, or both.

Do it.

Update On The Lame Vicious Duck Session

It's really quite breathtaking how vicious the lame duck session of Congress has become. They know they're about to lose power for quite some time and trying to get in every last dig at the American public that has so resoundingly rejected them. No, I kid you not. The Democrat leadership is so determined to unleash pain on America that they're going to work straight through Christmas and on into January. Let's go down the list of pain they're signing you and me up for, shall we?

The Obama administration has technically ended their ban on American oil drilling...but they're also not issuing much in the way of new drilling permits, either. In fact, they've issued about the same number of permits since May that previous administrations used to do in one month. The results of lower domestic production? Greater dependence upon our foreign suppliers and higher costs. Never mind that most Americans want more drilling. Regardless, Democrats are still trying to shove through crippling environmental legislation in the lame duck session. Welcome to Obama's America, where you deserve to pay more for energy.

Remember when we used to stare down Russia to keep them in line? Not any more. Now Obama is pushing hard to sign and enact a major treaty, START, with Russia in the lame duck session -- a feat unprecedented in American history -- that is bad, bad news for many reasons, including:
1. The Russian legislature is not committed to ratification of New START.
2. Russia threatens to start a new arms race if New START is not ratified.
3. Russia is again threatening U.S. friends and allies in Europe with tactical nuclear weapons deployment.
4. Russia is already in violation of agreements relating to tactical nuclear weapons.
5. Russia has provided anti-aircraft missiles to Venezuela, which closely cooperates with Iran.

And this is just the beginning. Also, I read in another report that one of the provisions required of the U.S. is to dismantle our missile defense system. Welcome to Obama's America, where our enemies deserve to be stronger than us.

Or something like that. Let's recap:
** Obama: “They Bring a Knife…We Bring a Gun”
** Obama to His Followers: “Get in Their Faces!”
** Obama on ACORN Mobs: “I don’t want to quell anger. I think people are right to be angry! I’m angry!”
** Obama to His Mercenary Army: “Hit Back Twice As Hard”
** Obama on the private sector: “We talk to these folks… so I know whose ass to kick.
** Obama to voters: Republican victory would mean “hand to hand combat
** Obama to lib supporters: “It’s time to Fight for it.”
** Obama to Latino supporters: “Punish your enemies.”

Now he's declared that he's 'itching for a fight' with the new Republican led House. Welcome to Obama's America, home of Obama the Great Uniter.

Oh, where to begin? An airport in Raleigh-Durham appears to have an exceptionally high number of complaints about passenger abuse, especially those who are victims of sexual abuse or rape. The TSA doesn't care. In Albuquerque, the TSA has accidentally revealed their operating manual: the people who get the strip search scanner are the good looking ones with boobs. Classy, eh? Don't believe me? Ask the Baywatch chick. Or Khloe Kardashian. Or the envoy to India. There's a reason more airports are considering dumping the TSA. Oh, and brace yourself...as predicted, they're already deploying these scanners at bus stations, too. And what happens when a CNN reporter hammers on the TSA? He suddenly shows up on the terrorist watch list. Coincidence, I'm sure.

For an ironclad discussion of how and why to correctly profile, check this out. Welcome to Obama's America, where citizens are abused and terrorists are ignored.

DREAM Amnesty
Despite the American people steadfastly opposing amnesty, Democrats in Congress are determined to push it through, with a vote scheduled for Saturday. Recall, this is the bill that will not only grant amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants, but also dump those millions of illegal immigrants into the already awful job market. Welcome to Obama's America, where law-breakers are rewarded and lawful citizens pick up the tab.

DADT Repeal
The military doesn't want it, but the Obama administration is determined to do it anyway. It appears that with all the other stuff going on, this one is all but a done deal. Unfortunately, it's going to have some massive negative effects on our military unless it gets corrected immediately.

Land grab
Another lost issue that is still important to note is that the federal government is sucking up lots and lots of land. It's a bill constructed in secret and not given any public debate at all, and the prices being paid for this land are super-inflated (can't imagine why). Welcome to Obama's America, where the government owns everything.

Parents just can't handle it
Michelle Obama wants to be in charge of your kids, too. After all, the paltry duty of feeding your children certainly can't be left up to you...! Welcome to Obama's America, where the government replaces parents.

Big, big news here. In the midst of children losing drug coverage, the threat of 40% of physicians suddenly retiring, Medicare crowding out private coverage, and 60% of Americans wanting repeal...one of the first major legal hurdles of this legislation just blew Obamacare out of the water. A judge in Virginia just ruled that the key piece of Obamacare, the individual mandate, was unconstitutional. The government's case was based on the idea that the government has a right to regulate any commerce taking place in America. That's true, but it does not have the right to force commerce to take place. The individual mandate does just that, requiring that everyone in America pay for insurance...and if they don't, they'll be fined and/or put in jail.

It's fully bad enough to require this on health insurance, but think of the bigger consequences. If the government can force every American to purchase health care, can they not force every American to purchase (or not purchase) any product or any service? Yep. It's the ultimate erosion of individual liberty in America, and that's why this ruling was so critical. It's still early in the process of working through the courts, but it's one major chink in the armor, and merely the first of many to come that will hopefully cause Obamacare to fall apart or get completely repealed.

Ironically, this is precisely the argument put forth by conservatives months ago before Obamacare was shoved down our throats, and the Democrat leadership just mocked the question at the time. Oops.

Also interesting to note is that after this ruling, proponents of Obamacare didn't attempt to address the legal issue, they didn't try to persuade America of why Obamacare is a net benefit...they simply changed the terminology being used. Welcome to Obama's America, where the government will dictate your health care for you regardless of what you think/need/want, and they don't give a damn about the Constitutionality of doing so.

Tax rate extension/stimulus/budget mess
Hm, this one is pretty messy. The House Democrats failed in their primary Constitutional function this past year: to create a budget for 2011. They didn't even bother with it. So, the federal government has been operating on a series of temporary spending measures (continuing resolutions), and the current one runs out Saturday night. As is normal, the Dems have larded the thing up with billions in pork (i.e. buying votes) and then attempted to fund the government for most of next year. This is, of course, a hideous corruption of the CR process, and a brazen attempt to neuter the crop of fiscal conservatives that will be sworn in next January by dictating the same massive level of spending we've seen for the past two years rather than let the next Congress do what the American people demanded and cut spending. You see, they spent more time and attention shoving massive takeovers and slush funds (TARP, insurance bailout, GM bailout, stimulus, Obamacare, etc.)
into law, and simply ran out of time to do the mundane stuff the Constitution actually demanded of them. Not that they particularly care, of course. Also, it was also yet another 2000 page bill that no one read (they don't believe in wasting time reading bills before voting on them anymore) with a trillion-dollar-plus price tag.

The GOP -- amazingly, in my opinion -- stood firm and forced the Dems to pull the bill from consideration, forcing the substitution of a much smaller bill instead. Personally, I'd rather see the government shut down, but I'm guessing this one will flow through. We'll see.

In the House, the bill to extend the current tax rates passed easily, with many Democrats voting for it as well as Republicans. Apparently self-preservation is a powerful motivator, and few are willing to put their name next to legislation that constitutes the biggest tax increase in American history.

Coincidentally to all of this, Congress has just scored a whopping 13% approval rating, the worst Gallup has recorded in 30 years of tracking the question. Shocker there, huh?

Whew! I think that's it for now. We truly weren't kidding when we predicted the radical Leftist leadership would go for the jugular during the lame duck session this year. If you have opinions on any of the issues mentioned above, you have just hours or days left to contact your reps to share them. Take charge and be involved in shaping your country's future.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

They're Not Even Pretending Any More!

One of the most often stated accusations against Barack Obama over the past couple years is that he was a socialist. His record pretty showed it pretty clearly, but he really opened a can of worms when he famously told Joe the Plumber that he wanted to 'spread the wealth around'. Obama and the Democrats have steadfastly maintained they loooooved capitalism and were most definitely not socialists despite the fact that their actions are the guidebook for how socialists should run things. It appears that they've now decided it's not worth the effort of lying about their true intentions anymore:

When absurdity gives way to hilarity, you must be talking about politics.

In the midst of a colossal global concern for the economic stability of our great nation, Emanuel Cleaver, Missouri’s 5th Congressional District representative, has one small earmark on his wish list that deserves some attention.

Cleaver has listed a new earmark — one of several — and he promises to “fight for every one.” But this is a whopping $48 billion package that must go down as the grandaddy of all earmarks.

Proposed by a gentleman named Lamar Mickens, president of the not-for-profit Quality Day Campus, the $48 billion earmark would funnel money into the inner cities to give money to the poor and thereby produce a much larger consumer class to buy the goods and services produced in this country.

Just call this redistribution on steroids.

Yippee. He's brazenly asking for a $48 billion -- BILLION -- redistribution for the inner city a buddy of his who runs a day care:

Currently Mickens operates this massive proposal out of his home but with Cleaver’s help, this earmark could put him on the road to success.

Cleaver provides a link to a Mickens “manifesto” where a lengthy agenda is outlined — but again with no specifics other than the rich should provide money to the poor so that the poor will have more money to spend.

Oh, and this is just phase one, by the way.

Thank you, Mr. Cleaver, for making Missouri proud. The silver lining is that he's really making it easy for normal, hard-working Americans to understand who you really are.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Congress Sucks, And Here's Why

Well, one of the multitude of reasons, anyway (emphasis mine):

Gallup released a poll this morning showing that the American people dislike this 111th Congress more than any Congress ever. Specifically, a full 83% of Americans disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job while only 13% approve. That is the worst approval rating in more than 30 years of tracking congressional job performance.

Why do Americans so despise this Congress? The reckless way it spends other people's money, for starters. One would have thought that after getting "shellacked" at the polls this November, Congress would have gotten the message. No luck. Majority Leader Harry Reid introduced a $1.27 trillion 1,924 page omnibus spending bill last night that contains 6,000 earmarks worth $8 billion. Oh, and all this has to be approved by midnight Saturday or the government shuts down.

Defending the trillion dollar spending bill, Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI) told the USA Today: "Who among us believes we should base our spending recommendations for defense, homeland security, and veterans on whatever level was needed last year?" This is a morally repugnant statement. Defense, homeland security, and veterans can all be funded at current levels for one month through a continuing resolution, and then the next Congress could adjust our defense needs. Inouye is attempting to hold the troops hostage? And for what? Taxpayers for Common Sense reports that among the 6,600 earmarks in the bill is $6 million for parkland acquisition in Hawaii. No wonder Americans hate this Congress.

Other vanity projects buying votes in the bill — there are plenty of Republican earmarks in the bill too — include $18 million for groups named after the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Rep. John Murtha (D-PA); $349,000 for swine waste management; $2.9 million for Grand Forks International Airport expansion; and $3.5 million for termite research in Louisiana.

But as bad as the earmarks are the spending increases are even worse. The bill adds $5.4 billion in new labor, education, and health spending including money for the failed Head Start program, the failed Race to the Top program, Pell Grants, and $1.25 billion in spending on Obamacare. No conservative who promised to repeal Obamacare can possibly support this bill.

By waiting until late yesterday to unveil this 1,924-page monstrosity, Reid is playing a high stakes game of chicken with small government conservatives. Since the FY 2010 budget expired on September 30th, the federal government has been operating on a series of continuing resolutions (CR). The most recent CR expires on midnight Saturday. If the Senate does not pass a bill by then the federal government shuts down. Reid believes that conservatives do not have courage to back up their spending cut convictions. Conservative Senators should call Reid's bluff.

This is the first Congress, in the history of the budget process, that failed to even vote on a budget for next year. A responsible Congress would have passed a budget resolution and all the necessary appropriations bills months ago. By failing to even bring a budget resolution to a vote, let alone the actual spending bills, Majority Leader Reid has already proven he is completely irresponsible. He has no legitimate claim to be dictating spending terms to the American people.

The American people thoroughly rejected this Congress' spendthrift ways at the polls last month. There is no reason this business-as-usual omnibus should be the only spending option. The 111th Congress has forfeited all rights to set spending levels for the next year. A one-page continuing resolution that keeps the government funded at current levels, for a month or two, until the next Congress is sworn in, is the only way to go.

I say let the government shut down.  If we've learned anything over this past two years, it's that the American people are safest when Congress isn't doing its 'job'.  The more 'work' they do, the worse off we all become.

Regardless, if you're one of those that has become increasingly angry and disillusioned at the worthless hacks in Washington, what can you do?  Sure, you voted, but you see how desperately these people are grasping at the last remaining vestiges of their power?  The process of cleaning house is not a one-time vote.  It will take several election cycles worth of votes to throw all the worthlessness out (a Senator's term is six years, so everyone gets the public examination over the course of three elections), but even that is not enough.

It takes regular engagement from American citizens like you and me to prevent abuses and wastefulness like the above from happening.  It's a sad reality that these people are in it more for themselves than for their constituents or the country, so we simply cannot trust them to work unsupervised.  It takes an informed American public -- an active American public that is willing to call/e-mail/fax/write/visit -- to keep these chumps in line.

It starts with you.

Without that engagement, we will continue to see incompetence, corruption, and wastefulness on ever-greater orders of magnitude, just like we see right now today.

Contact your Senators.  Demand they apply common sense and stop the gaudy spending, then pay attention to what they actually do.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cartoon Commentary

Just a couple more items concerning the economy right now...

And, of course, this one about the best news since that late Sunday night in March:

More on this delicious victory soon.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Book Review --- Talion:Revenant

If you know me, you know I'm a big fan of both sci-fi and fantasy. One of my favorite authors is Michael Stackpole, who writes in both genres. I was first introduced to Stackpole's work when he wrote several Star Wars novels several years ago, and from there I've read most of his original stuff, too, one of which is probably my favorite fantasy novel ever.

The single biggest distinguishing factor that makes a story a fantasy is its use of magic, but there are a number of different flavors of fantasy stories. The most well known is probably epic fantasy, which is the grand, sweeping plot with massive armies and world changing events (whichever world it may be) like you find in Lord of the Rings. Another big one is hero (or sword and sorcery) fantasy, which has a narrower focus and centers on one or a handful of characters and their particular adventures. The Wizard of Oz could fall into this category. Urban fantasy like Harry Potter is set in a relatively modern city, alternate history fantasy poses a scenario of what would things be like if _____ thing from history had actually turned out differently, and dark fantasy is, well, dark and foreboding (think vampires, or the Underworld series).

Michael Stackpole's novel, Talion:Revenant, falls into the hero fantasy genre. It follows the main character, Nolan, through a series of adventures from his aspiration as a young boy of becoming a Talion Justice all the way through some of his critical missions as a seasoned veteran. In this story, the Talions were set apart long ago by the Emperor as an independent city-state with the explicit mission of keeping the peace between the nations of the world. They are the elite of the elite in warriors, soldiers, and tacticians. One branch, the Justices, are also magically endowed to dispense justice throughout all nations wherever they go, no matter the crime or criminal. They are the absolute best of the best, and not only possess skills equal to that of the other Talion branches, but they are given great latitude to function independently and in whatever way they see fit.

Stackpole does his usual brilliant job of describing an ancient feeling world full of knights, chivalry, and history while painting a visual picture through his words like few others can. The way he fleshes out his characters lends an air of believability to them, daring the reader to disbelieve that these were real people doing real things once upon a time. Whereas epic fantasy delivers much in terms of grand battles and massive armies, Revenant delivers an outstanding adventure story full of imagination and grandeur, individual battle tactics, and personal struggles very similar to those we might face in our own lives.

One of my favorite aspects of this book -- and one that I think really makes it unique -- is that it alternates between Nolan as a successful Justice on a real mission in one chapter and Nolan as a young boy in training in another chapter. Each chapter is its own self-contained story, but the chapter describing each piece of his youth also foreshadows the corresponding chapter of his adulthood. On top of this, Stackpole also weaves a broader novel-length plot through both storylines that becomes far greater than the sum of its chronological parts. I've never seen another novel written in this format, and I love it.

If you have any interest in fantasy, this is a great story to pick up.

One of the other reasons I like Michael Stackpole is that he is very tech savvy and is quite plain about trying to push the envelope of publishing. As a very accomplished author, he clearly knows what it takes to make money in the business using standard channels, and he also knows the warts behind the scenes. He is solidly on the bandwagon of self-publishing and ebooks, and has blogged before about how ebooks offer a win-win scenario: lower prices to the consumer (thus encouraging additional purchasing) and higher pay checks for the author (thus encouraging additional writing).

A few months ago, Stackpole offered a very intriguing challenge to his readers. He has wanted to do a sequel to Revenant for a number of years, but due to various publishing constraints he has not been able to do so. If he self publishes, however, he can get around those constraints. So, he recently released Revenant in ebook format, and has pledged that he'll save all the money from the ebook proceeds until he has enough saved away to take a year off from his normal writing schedule in order to write the sequel. Basically, it will be a project for the fans and wholly financed by the fans. To that end, the more copies of his ebook sell, the faster the sequel will appear, so I wanted to put in my own small plug for such a worthy endeavor.

If you are an avid reader of any genre at all, wouldn't it be worth a few bucks to support this experiment to try to rock the traditional publishing establishment and give authors a much more free hand to put out the content they want to put out (and that you presumably want to read)? Or, you could just buy Talion:Revenant because it's such an excellent story. Either way, you win.

Stackpole has begun posting the first few chapters of the book online to give potential readers a sneak peek...check out for free and see what you think:

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Chiefs Vs. Chargers

I've gotta say, I'm a little tired of all the bagging on the Chiefs this week. All I've heard from the professional sports guys this week is that the Chargers are absolutely positively the better team, and that they just don't lose in December, and that they're going to be highly motivated in this must-win game and they're going to come out swinging hard, so the Chiefs really don't stand a chance.

Of course, being the non-professional sports guy that I am, I'm apparently not that smart. I mean, I look at the records and see this:
Chiefs 8-4
Chargers 6-6
Hm. Okay, what about in the division itself?
Chiefs 2-2
Chargers 1-3
Yes, clearly the Chargers are the better team. And golly-gee-whiz, I do believe the Chargers just lost last week (on December 5th). And you know what? That was a must-win game against the Raiders, too.

Yes, the Chargers have the second best statistical offense and the best statistical defense in the NFL. They also have a ton of turnovers and injuries, and a quarterback who appears more concerned with his own stats than the good of the team. And oh yeah, the Chiefs have a pretty darned good team, too. The Raiders ran wild on the Chargers last week, and guess who has the best run game this year? Yep, the Chiefs (though they'll certainly have to earn it - with Cassel being out, the Chargers are likely to stuff the box, so I would hope to see a lot of bootleg and misdirection plays, short passes, etc.). Sure, the Chargers are facing elimination if they lose tomorrow, and the Chiefs can afford to give up one game and still be in the lead. But they ended Denver's playoff hopes last year (when they were clearly the lesser team, and with nothing to play for) and the thought of killing San Diego this year has got to have them salivating.

So, I'm not buyin' the negativity. I think the Chiefs have a great chance to win this game. From what I can see, there are really two major obstacles. First is the fact that it's in San Diego. That's significant. It's usually pretty hard to win on the road, and this year is no different. Second, Matt Cassel had an appendectomy this week and will be on the sideline. That is huge, and probably the single biggest factor coming into tomorrow's game.

I've never been a fan of Brodie Croyle. He was injury prone in college and he's been injury prone in the NFL. He has a rocket launcher for an arm, but he has yet to win a game as a starter. Granted, he's got a much, much better team around him now than when he started a couple years ago, but I think that just helps underline my point: he'll be adequate to win the game tomorrow. And, the chiefs have great special teams and the Chargers have awful special teams, so that's the single biggest mismatch on the field and the Chiefs' biggest advantage. Plus, I think the Chiefs' motivation will be extremely high, and I think they'll rally around Croyle because they all like him and want him to succeed.

Here's what I think. I do think the Chargers will come out swinging, but I'm not convinced they'll keep it up for the entire game - I don't think they're nearly as mentally tough as everyone says they are. They looked pitiful last week against a so-so Raiders team, and while this week is do-or-die, last week was still pretty darned critical for their playoff hopes, too, so they still had plenty of motivation then and it didn't matter one bit. So, if the Chiefs can jump out to an early lead and take the crowd out of the game, and then if they can stifle the inevitable last gasp that will come toward the end of the game, it's a done deal.

Could I be wrong? Sure. In fact, since none of the pros are saying anything remotely like this, odds are good that I will be. We've had so many years where the Chiefs have sucked and somehow found creative ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory that I just don't think people want to be overly optimistic. However, I'd like to think that tomorrow we've got every bit as much to play for as the Chargers, but with the weapons to actually make it happen this time.

We'll see...

Friday, December 10, 2010

Breaking It Down

The Patriot Post has some of the best analysis of current day politics I see anywhere.  Here's their take on the recent brouhaha on whether or not to keep tax rates current or let them rise:
"Tax deal" is the buzz phrase of the week in Washington, as Barack Obama and congressional Republicans came to an agreement Monday on a two-year extension of current income tax rates for all Americans. Predictably, the Left went hysterical. House Democrats promptly held a voice vote to reject the compromise unless undisclosed changes are made to it, though the Senate began debate on a larded-up version of the proposal Thursday night with a test vote scheduled for Monday. As usual, the devil is in the details -- and, in this case, the definitions.
Obama, his fellow Democrats and their acolytes in the media continue to frame the debate in terms of tax "cuts" versus the budget deficit -- as if tax rates before 2001 were the natural order of things and to keep rates where they are is a "cut" that will increase the deficit. On the contrary, without the deal, everyone's taxes will rise by hundreds or even thousands of dollars next year. With the deal, no one's income taxes will be cut. In fact, some taxes will skyrocket. The estate (death) tax will be resurrected at 35 percent with a $5 million exemption -- up from 0 percent this year, but down from the previous 55 percent. The only new cut would be a temporary payroll tax reduction of two percentage points.
The facts, however, don't stop the Left from their dishonest characterization. "The far-reaching package ... would add more than $900 billion to the deficit over the next two years," The Washington Post lamented. Ditto for The New York Times, the Associated Press and others. This assumes that economic behavior won't change if taxes go up, meaning federal revenue will increase by the exact amount of the tax increase. Ergo, if Congress prevents the tax hike, that lost revenue adds to the deficit. It's a wrong assumption, demonstrable by the fact that federal revenue actually went up after the Bush tax cuts went into effect.
Meanwhile, Obama was so concerned about the "cost" that he insisted that unemployment benefits be extended for another year. Now that will actually cost nearly $60 billion, and it will cause the unemployment rate to remain higher than it otherwise should. On top of that, Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) secured various energy subsidies in exchange for their votes, and more pork is almost sure to follow.
The fact that Obama conceded to any deal is notable. The Wall Street Journalconcludes, "Obama has implicitly admitted that his economic strategy has flopped. He is acknowledging that tax rates matter to growth, that treating business like robber barons has hurt investment and hiring, and that tax cuts are superior to spending as stimulus. It took 9.8% unemployment and a loss of 63 House seats for this education to sink in, but the country will benefit." The flop is so complete that even former economic adviser Larry Summers warned of a "double dip" recession if taxes go up. John Maynard Keynes, call your office.
Though Obama did accept the deal with the GOP, he proved to be a rather disagreeable compromiser, calling Republicans "hostage takers" and the American people the "hostages." Obama thus not only reneged on an oft-repeated campaign promise to repeal the Bush-era tax cuts "for the rich," he also proved utterly ungracious to those lawmakers with whom he had just struck a deal. "[B]ecause of this agreement, middle-class Americans won't see their taxes go up on January 1st, which is what I promised," he said. "[But] I'm as opposed to the high-end tax cuts today as I've been for years. In the long run, we simply can't afford them. And when they expire in two years, I will fight to end them."
Some conservatives are opposing the bill because of the aded deficit spending. Club for Growth President Chris Chocola said, "The plan would resurrect the Death Tax, grow government, blow a hole in the deficit with unpaid-for spending, and do so without providing the permanent relief and security our economy needs to finally start hiring and growing again."
Yet given that Democrats still control the White House and, until January, both houses of Congress, this deal may be the best we can hope for now. Republicans should fight to resist wasteful spending, but tax hikes must be prevented. If they are, taxpayers will keep billions of their hard-earned dollars over the next two years. With that renewed tax stability for small businesses, unemployment should go down, though not as much as if the rates were permanent. In 2012, Republicans could be in far better position to win a permanent solution.

Aside from this particular debate, they also recently analyzed the broader scope of things.  Check this out:

"It has been generations since Americans have been exposed to a more vivid depiction of the significant differences between the left's and the right's views of this country and its future. The delineation between conservative and liberal had grown hopelessly blurred to a majority of citizens. But Obama and his leftist cabal have been successful not only in demonstrating the frightening vision progressive liberals have of making America into a European-style socialist state. They have also managed to animate a vast conservative majority that has lain painfully dormant since the mid-1980s. ... While conservatives like [Rep. Eric] Cantor believe money belongs first to the citizen and is confiscated by government, leftists like Obama believe money belongs first to the government. That government then lets select citizens keep some of it ... if and only if government 'can afford' to be so generous. Further, when Americans open their newspapers, they are greeted with the wise counsel of Obamabots like Tom Friedman and Paul Krugman. Friedman's recent piece in the New York Times called the Tea Party movement 'narrow and uninspired' while touting that '[w]e need to raise gasoline and carbon taxes to discourage their use and drive the creation of a new clean energy industry.' Krugman ... laments that the waste of nearly one trillion taxpayer dollars on a government spending bill meant to stimulate a still-stagnant economy wasn't enough, and it should be followed up with an even bigger second stimulus. Everywhere they turn, Americans see that the left is offering higher taxes, less freedom, more debt and regulation. They simultaneously see the right offering lower taxes, freer markets, and fiscal sanity. Voters' first opportunity to choose between those two visions occurred in the 2010 midterms. Their preference was unmistakable -- to everyone, that is, except Barack Obama."

I couldn't agree more, and I think that's why he keeps governing from the far Left.  Some think he'll moderate once Republicans are back in power in Congress.  I don't.  He's an ideologue who prizes his agenda more than anything else.  He's already said he'll fight the GOP each and every day, called them rather unflattering things (i.e. hostage takers and bomb-throwers), and he has yet to show a sign of true compromise on anything (no, the extension of the tax cuts isn't a compromise - he had no choice).  He very much embodies his own words from early 2009 - "I won."  Well, guess what?  Now we won, and now we want our country back.  If he can't figure that out or accept that, he's done.  The American people delivered an unequivocal message a month ago, and politicians of both parties face early retirement if they don't heed that message.  The Dems have already had their first wave of departures; we'll see who gets tossed after the next two year probationary period.

Finally, here are two quotes that I think are an absolutely brilliant counterpoint to each other at this moment in history.  One illustrates an absurd attempt at bald-faced political pandering that manages to invalidate itself in the space of just a few words, the other is a timeless statement of truth and reality that we all need to keep in mind.

"This isn't about the politics of the moment. This has to do with what can we get done right now." -- Barack Obama, defending his seeming backtrack and willingness to deal with the GOP on extending tax rates.

"To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it." -- Thomas Jefferson

Quite a difference, don't you think?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Needs Action Today: DREAM, House Appropriations

These two items really need some action as soon as possible today.

DREAM Act, part...uh...whatever
No matter how many times amnesty fails to be popular with the American people, Congress keeps trying to shove it down our throats.  But, as is depressingly usual with these people, it gets worse than simply granting amnesty in order to buy votes in future elections.  Roy Beck at NumbersUSA:

When the House and Senate (presumably) vote this afternoon, I think it is important to frame the issue in terms of giving out millions of additional 10-year work permits.

You see, even people who don't qualify in the first place or who do qualify for the provisional amnesty but never meet the educational criteria later — all of them can get a 10-year work permit from the start.

Here's the way it would work under the latest DREAM amnesty bill introduced in the Senate (and coming up for a vote today):


1. Application: The DREAM amnesty begins with illegal aliens filling out applications. They merely have to claim — not provide evidence — that they meet criteria of having been brought to the U.S. before age 16 and being under the age of 30 at time of enactment and being present in the U.S. at least 5 years before enactment of the amnesty, among other criteria.

2. Work Permits Given: Upon filing the application, the illegal aliens are given a 10-year work permit to compete directly with the 22 million Americans who want a full-time job but can't find one.

Estimates suggest that up to 2 million illegal aliens could legitimately qualify for the opening application, and perhaps a couple million more might be or look young enough to fraudulantly apply.

Those millions would immediately be able to legally compete for any U.S. job…

Show of hands from everyone who thinks this is a good idea right now, during the current economic situation (i.e. 10% unemployment)?

[crickets chirping]

That's what I thought.

Michelle Malkin suggests phone calls to the following fence-sitters:

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN 202-224-2235; 480-897-6289

SEN. OLYMPIA SNOWE 202-224-5344; 207-874-0883

SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI 202-224-6665; 907-271-3735

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS 202-224-2523; 207-945-0417

SEN. SAM BROWNBACK 202-224-6521; 785-233-2503

Yes, that would be Sam Brownback of Kansas.  Pick up the phone.  The vote is expected to take place this afternoon, so the clock is ticking.

Did we vote for change in Congress, or what?
RedState sounds the warning on hypocrisy in the new Republican House leadership:

Did you show up at the polls on November 2nd for nothing? It seems that way. The House Republican Leadership has decided to put Jeff Flake (R-AZ) on the Appropriations Committee and that's pretty much it. They are sending a signal to the tea party movement that this is all they'll get.

John Boehner and Eric Cantor want Hal Rogers of Kentucky to serve as Appropriations Chairman. Hal Rogers is a big spending porker who has been a champion of earmarks. So brazen in his lust for your money, Rogers wants to put a Lockheed Martin lobbyist in as staff director for the Appropriations Committee — a lobbyist in charge of doling out the dollars.

But the fight is not over. Today the House GOP must ratify the leadership's decisions and we can still get Jack Kingston into the Chairman's chair. Go to our action center and fight to stop thisCall your Republican Congressman this morning. Tell him to support Jack Kingston as Appropriations Chairman.

Stand up to John Boehner and Eric Cantor. Fight for your principles.


If you believe the GOP must change their ways, you must then fight against Hal Rogers's appointment and support Jack Kingston instead. This fight is too important. We must rebuke House Republican Leaders and compel them to do the right thing.

This is why I'm always -- ALWAYS -- skeptical of Republicans who have a history of RINOism but say they have suddenly seen the light.  They are a rabid bunch of hypocrites who seek primarily to enhance and preserve their own wealth and power rather than to represent their constituents, and need to be thrown out right alongside the socialist Democrats who have been systematically undermining this nation.  Stupidity like this is what really infuriates me about Washington and makes me wonder if there is any hope at all for the future of this nation.  If one party is a bunch of Euro-socialists and the other party is a bunch of spineless hypocrites, what have we got left?  God help us!  Anyway, this is why I say that the safe vote is almost always to get rid of the incumbent.

Dial the phone.

Tax Cut Follow-Up And Black Reparations

The vote on the supposed deal regarding an extension of the current tax rates may happen today. Given that this will directly impact your pocketbook and mine, I thought I'd go into a bit more depth with a few more thoughts.

I think it's interesting to read the various reactions to this deal. This seems to be a good short summary of what's going on:
The quick rundown is, no one’s taxes are going up (Good), unless you’re dead (Bad) and its temporary nature will make it more of a depression protection as opposed to an economic boost (Ugly).
The writer of that post rightly suggests that we should consider it a victory because we kept more dollars in our pockets rather than putting it into the hands of the government, which is always a good thing. That's a good point, though I still keep coming back to the fact that our side won. If only our elected reps had the stones to play hardball, we should be seeing a lowering of the tax rates rather than simply keeping them level.

Still, the point remains that it is the Democrats who are fighting tooth and nail to raise taxes, and the GOP that is standing firm against them. Don't believe the inevitable spin that Obama is trying to help out middle class families here; much like Clinton, he's being dragged kicking and screaming to the signature line of this bill. By way of proof, he's not even helping everyone who actually needs help - it's more like selective welfare than anything else.

Speaking of which, it hasn't been signed into law yet. It appears that a few of the more hardcore conservatives in Congress are going to stand against this vote because it only pushes forward the dependency upon government for basic necessities of millions of Americans. That's another great point. Rock star conservative Jim DeMint says this:
“[W]e don’t need a temporary economy, which means we don’t need a temporary tax rate. A permanent extension of our current tax rates would allow businesses to plan five and ten years in advance, and that’s how you build an economy.”
Of course, if the Democrats are so livid about a two year extension that they've successfully shut down the White House switchboard complaining about the lack of tax increases (really? I mean...really?!), can you imagine what they'd do if this was a permanent change? Yep, it's totally something the new GOP majority should do immediately in January.

So how is the President taking what can only be considered his first true legislative defeat? Not well. In fact, he offered a petulant and whiny statement yesterday in which he called Republicans 'hostage-takers' and 'bomb throwers'. My, what great leadership, bipartisanship, and unity building! I listened to part of that press conference, but I just couldn't make myself keep going after I heard this line: "This has nothing to do with the politics of the moment. It's a question of what can we get done right now." Mm-hmmm... Is it any wonder Obama's approval rating is now lower than that of ***GASP*** George W. Bush?

In the meantime, another mind-boggling issue has flown almost completely under the radar:

More than 92,000 “black farmers” have signed up for reparations from the Obama USDA after the Pigford case was extended this past year. That’s five times the number of blacks who were actually farming during the time period in question and would possibly qualify for the reparations.

Pigford v. Glickman was a class action lawsuit against the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), alleging racial discrimination in its allocation of farm loans and assistance between 1983 and 1997. The lawsuit ended with a settlement in which the U.S. government agreed to pay African American farmers $50,000 each if they had attempted to get USDA help but failed. To date, almost $1 billion has been paid or credited to the farmers under the settlement’s consent decree. Democrats want to add another $1.2 billion to the money pot and continue with the reparations.

I think I speak for everyone when I saw Why The Face?! (hint: watch Modern Family)

Rep. Steve King rightly called this out for what it is: guilt money being paid over slavery from decades ago. And the House just passed it. Will the Senate pass it, too? Loads more information here.

So, not only to we have the ultimate in leadership, bipartisanship, and unity building, Barack Obama also appears to be the ultimate post-racial President, too!

Welcome to Obama's America, where up is down, yes is no, and Obama is on your side.