Archive for January 2010
Niemöller’s poem tells the story of Europe’s refusal to stand up to the Nazis while they still had time
Posted January 31, 2010on:
Just as Niemöller’s poem tells the story of Europe’s refusal to stand up to the Nazis while they still had time:
When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for the Jews,
I did not speak out;
I was not a Jew.
When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out.
• In the first debate, Obama and McCain answered a question about how the economic crisis would affect their proposals crafted before the crisis. After a bit of pressing, McCain suggested a spending freeze “on everything but defense, Veteran Affairs and entitlement programs. … I think we ought to seriously consider (it) with the exceptions the caring of veterans, national defense and several other vital issues.”
“Would you go for that?” moderator Jim Lehrer asked Obama.
Obama replied, “The problem with a spending freeze is you’re using a hatchet where you need a scalpel. There are some programs that are very important that are underfunded. I want to increase early childhood education and the notion that we should freeze that when there may be, for example, this Medicare subsidy doesn’t make sense. (Obama was referring here to money that goes to private insurers as part the Medicare Advantage program.) Let me tell you another place to look for some savings. We are currently spending $10 billion a month in Iraq when they have a $79 billion surplus. It seems to me that if we’re going to be strong at home as well as strong abroad, that we have to look at bringing that war to a close.”
• In the second debate, a voter asked what sacrifices Americans should make to help the nation “get out of the economic morass that we’re now in.”
McCain said, “I’m going to ask the American people to understand that there are some programs that we may have to eliminate. I first proposed a long time ago that we would have to examine every agency and every bureaucracy of government. And we’re going to have to eliminate those that aren’t working. I know a lot of them that aren’t working. … And I recommend a spending freeze that except for defense, Veterans Affairs, and some other vital programs, we’ll just have to have across-the-board freeze. And some of those programs may not grow as much as we would like for them to, but we can establish priorities with full transparency, with full knowledge of the American people, and full consultation, not done behind closed doors and shoving earmarks in the middle of the night into programs that we don’t even know about until months later.”
Obama, on the other hand, said it was important “for the president to set a tone that says all of us are going to contribute, all of us are going to make sacrifices, and it means that, yes, we may have to cut some spending, although I disagree with Sen. McCain about an across-the-board freeze. That’s an example of an unfair burden-sharing. That’s using a hatchet to cut the federal budget.”
• Finally, the third debate, on cutting the deficit:
McCain: “I would have, first of all, across-the-board spending freeze, okay? Some people say that’s a hatchet. That’s a hatchet, and then I would get out a scalpel, okay? … I know how to save billions of dollars in defense spending. I know how to eliminate programs.”
Obama: “Well, look, I think that we do have a disagreement about an across-the-board spending freeze. It sounds good. It’s proposed periodically. It doesn’t happen. And, in fact, an across-the-board spending freeze is a hatchet, and we do need a scalpel, because there are some programs that don’t work at all. There are some programs that are underfunded. And I want to make sure that we are focused on those programs that work.”
Obama’s team seems to have anticipated that these quotes would be revived. Before the State of the Union speech, one of the administration’s top economists wrote a defense of the proposal for the White House blog titled “Budget Freeze-eology 101: Hatchets vs. Scalpels.”
Jared Bernstein, chief economist to Vice President Joe Biden, gave the following explanation for Obama’s proposal:
“There are two ways to do a freeze like this: (1) an across-the-board freeze on every program outside of national security; and (2) a surgical approach where overall totals are frozen but some individual programs go up and others go down. In short, a hatchet versus a scalpel.
“During the campaign, you may recall that John McCain touted option 1 — the hatchet approach of an across-the-board freeze.
“The president was critical of that approach then, and we would be critical of it now. It’s not what we’re proposing. To the contrary, the entire theory of the president’s proposed freeze is to dial up the stuff that will support job growth and innovation while dialing down the stuff that doesn’t. Under our plan, some discretionary spending will go up; some will go down. That’s a big difference from a hatchet.”
Bernstein, though, oversimplifies what McCain described during the debates. McCain said he would exempt other areas besides defense, and he said programs should have to compete for funding (“some of those programs may not grow as much as we would like for them to, but we can establish priorities with full transparency”).
Obama’s answers, on the other hand, never gave any indication that he would embrace the idea of a spending freeze, something that he is doing now.
In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama touted his efforts to bar lobbyists from his administration.
“We’ve excluded lobbyists from policymaking jobs or seats on federal boards and commissions,” he said on Jan. 27, 2010.
That rang a bell with us because we have tracked a campaign promise he made on that topic. He had promised that “No political appointees in an Obama-Biden administration will be permitted to work on regulations or contracts directly and substantially related to their prior employer for two years. And no political appointee will be able to lobby the executive branch after leaving government service during the remainder of the administration.”
We rated that one a Promise Broken because his policy has substantial loopholes that have allowed Obama to essentially decide when he wants to ignore the rule.
More guns in law-abiding hands mean less crime. The District of Columbia proves the point.
Reading most press accounts, one would be forgiven for thinking Armageddon had arrived after the Supreme Court struck down the District’s handgun ban in 2008. Predictions sprung forth from all directions that allowing more citizens to own guns and not forcing them to keep them locked up was going to threaten public safety. According to D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, more guns in homes would cause more violent crime.
This has never been the case. Local politicians enthusiastically embraced the 1977 handgun ban predicting it would make Washington a safe place by dramatically reducing murder rates. But they were as wrong three decades ago as they are now.
A telling story is illustrated by the murder numbers since the handgun ban and gun-lock bans were struck down. Between 2008 and 2009, the FBI’s preliminary numbers indicate that murders fell nationally by 10 percent and by about 8 percent in cities that have between 500,000 and 999,999 people. Washington’s population is about 590,000. During that same period of time, murders in the District fell by an astounding 25 percent, dropping from 186 to 140. The city only started allowing its citizens to own handguns for defense again in late 2008.
Few who lived in Washington during the 1970s can forget the upswing in crime that started right after the ban was originally passed. In the five years before the 1977 ban, the murder rate fell from 37 to 27 murders per 100,000. In the five years after the gun ban went into effect, the murder rate rose back up to 35. One fact is particularly hard to ignore: D.C.’s murder rate fluctuated after 1976 but only once fell below what it was in 1976 before the ban. That aberration happened years later, in 1985.
This correlation between the D.C. gun ban and diminished safety was not a coincidence. Look at the Windy City. Immediately after Chicago banned handguns in 1982, the murder rate, which had been falling almost continually for a decade, started to rise. Chicago’s murder rate rose relative to other large cities as well. The phenomenon of higher murder rates after gun bans are passed is not just limited to the United States. Every single time a country has passed a gun ban, its murder rate soared.
The choice Americans face isn’t between freedom or safety. Washington’s experience with gun bans shows once again that Americans will either be free and safe or unfree and unsafe. Letting people protect themselves is the responsible approach. It’s important the Supreme Court remember these facts in March when it hears the case over Chicago’s handgun ban.
Yes, Obama needs teleprompter support to speak to a 6th Grade class. The 2nd Great Communicator!
Posted January 25, 2010on:
Yes, the banks, government and corporate elite have destroyed America by design. These 20 are just the tip of the iceberg. Commercial real estate is the next bubble to burst and it will be a much louder sound. Read this complete article at:
4 states hit record-high joblessness, and all 50 states’ unemployment rates are higher than they were last year.
Posted by Elizabeth Strott on Friday, January 22, 2010 11:57 AM
The unemployment picture in the United States just got worse.
Unemployment rates rose in 43 states and the District of Columbia in December, the Labor Department reported this morning. It’s a turnaround from November, when 36 states reported a decline in unemployment.
Four states hit record highs: South Carolina’s unemployment hit 12.6%, Florida’s reached 11.8%, North Carolina’s saw 11.2% and Delaware’s hit 9%.
Four states reported a decrease in their unemployment rates, while three reported no change.
Earlier this month, the Labor Department reported a national jobless rateof 10% for December.
All 50 states had an unemployment rate that was higher in December 2009 than in the same month a year earlier.
Michigan again had the highest unemployment rate in December at 14.6%, followed by Nevada with 13% and Rhode Island with 12.9%. North Dakota had the lowest rate at 4.4%, with Nebraska and South Dakota both following with 4.7%.
But there was a glimmer of hope in the report, as 11 states added jobs in December.