Tales of 57 States: Happenings After the Great Joust

November 14, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

In the days soon after the Great Joust between the Donkey and Elephant Clans, it was rumored that three important events did occur
American Thinker Blog

Perez Hilton Falsely States “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Discharges Have Stopped

November 13, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Post image for Perez Hilton Falsely States “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Discharges Have Stopped

Everyone makes mistakes, but when reportedly two million people visit your site each month and with twelve million hits each month, (give or take,) you have a heightened responsibility to get basic facts right — especially those that could harm someone’s future.

Friday, in, “Supreme Court Rules DADT Stays In Place, While Lower Court Rules Unconstitutional,” Perez Hilton wrote, “Considering the Pentagon stopped discharging gay and lesbian members of the military, we don’t see the problem.”

This is false. Dangerously false.

While the Pentagon has created a more stringent and formal process of discharging gay and lesbian servicemembers, the military has not stopped investigations or discharges of gay and lesbian servicemembers.

In fact, SLDN, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network has repeatedly issued warnings to LGBT servicemembers to not come out. In, “Attention Service Members: DADT is Still in Effect,” Aaron Tax, SLDN’s Legal Director says, “Earlier this year, DoD made changes to how “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is implemented – those changes remain in effect.”

Tax adds, “Service members can and still will be investigated, they will continue to be discharged, and those considering joining may still be barred from joining if they were previously discharged under DADT or if the person joining makes his or her sexual orientation known to a recruiter.”

So, as you can see, Perez Hilton’s error is a dangerous error to the millions of people who read his blog, and to the untold millions more who get his “information” second-hand.

Also dangerous is that this error gives the military and the government unwarranted cover. If our opponents mistakenly think that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is no longer in effect, they are more apt to ignore our pleas and efforts to repeal this unconstitutional law.

This is by no means Hilton’s first falsehood. Let’s not forget that in 2007, “Hilton announced the death of Cuban President Fidel Castro, and claimed that he was the first media outlet in the world to break the news.” We’re still waiting.

Perez: You must write a retraction, and tell all LGBT servicemembers it is not “safe” to come out. Tell them they can still be discharged for being LGBT. Tell them you were wrong. Tell them they need to arm themselves with the correct information before making that decision.

And then, stop being so cavalier with information.

Everyone makes mistakes, and the case of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” certainly is a challenging one to get “straight,” but anyone who is reportedly worth millions can afford to check their facts.

(Image)

Related posts:

  1. Perez Hilton Is Not My National Leader
  2. BREAKING: Supreme Court Refuses To Stop Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Discharges
  3. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Ruled Unconstitutional By Federal Court – Now What?




The New Civil Rights Movement

House GOP Spending Plan Would Force States To Make Deeper Cuts In Education, Housing, and Transportation

November 12, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

In their “Pledge to America,” House Republicans insist that one of the ways in which they plan to reduce the federal deficit is rolling non-defense discretionary spending back to the 2008 level. As Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) put it when pressed for specific budget items that he would cut, “the line item will be across the board.”

Of course, this practically means that vital and popular programs and agencies — such as Pell Grants, the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the National Park Service — will be subjected to huge cuts. (McCarthy, for his part, gets upset when someone points this out to him.) And as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities noted, on its face, the Pledge also translates into a substantial cut in federal aid to states, causing those states to be even more of a drag on economic recovery than they are already:

If lawmakers were to cut appropriations for state and local governments by 21.7 percent (that is, if lawmakers reduce those appropriations in proportion to the overall reduction that would be required for non-security programs), those appropriations would be $ 31.6 billion below what President Obama proposed for 2011. Moreover, House GOP leaders have not specified whether they would include transportation programs in the category of programs subject to the reduction. If obligations for those programs faced the same 21.7 percent reduction, that would mean an additional $ 11 billion in cuts for state and local government activities related to highways, mass transit, and airports.

To put this into more tangible terms, “If Congress cut federal funding for each state- and local-run program by 21.7 percent in 2011, K-12 education would be cut by $ 8.7 billion, housing programs by $ 6.9 billion, children and family services by nearly $ 2.2 billion, and the nutrition program for at-risk pregnant women, infants, and young children (WIC) by $ 1.6 billion.”

Due to the deteriorating condition of their budgets and the fact that most of them have a constitutional balanced budget requirement, the states have been a substantial drag on the economy. In fact, cutbacks at the state and local level basically offset the effect of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, so that little net money was pumped into the economy. And state cutbacks also have tangible effects on the private sector: Cisco reported disappointing sales and profits in the last quarter as a result of state government orders falling 48 percent.

Over the last few months, local governments have been hemorrhaging jobs — 14,000 just last month, excluding education — which leads to decreased personal spending and higher social safety net expenditures by states and the federal government. Actually implementing the House Republican vision of the federal budget would simply exacerbate this problem.

Wonk Room

School Choice Center Stage in the States

November 12, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 
style=”float: right; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 10px;”> href=”http://blog.heritage.org/wp-content/uploads/floridaschool.jpg”> class=”alignnone size-full wp-image-29045″ title=”floridaschool” src=”http://blog.heritage.org/wp-content/uploads/floridaschool.jpg” alt=”” width=”375″ height=”240″ />

As a result of last week’s election, 2011 could be a watershed year for education reform and school choice. Many conservative candidates in the states campaigned on returning to local control in education and expanding school choice options for parents. Several states in particular could see significant movement on the education reform front as new leadership takes the helm in the coming months.

In Arizona, incoming superintendent John Huppenthal bested Penny Kotterman, whom the href=”http://www.federationforchildren.com/categories/2?page=2″>American Federation for Children notes would have worked to roll-back school choice options for Arizona families. Notably, Kotterman, the former head of the Arizona teachers union, was the chief plaintiff in the landmark Kotterman v. Killian school choice case challenging the legality of the Arizona tax credit program. While Kotterman argues that vouchers and tax credits are “detrimental” and “irresponsible” policy, superintendent-elect Huppenthal is a staunch supporter, telling the href=”http://www.azcentral.com/news/election/azelections/articles/2010/11/02/20101102john-huppenthal-arizona-superintendent-race-new.html”>Arizona Republic: id=”more-46536″>

First and foremost, I’m about school choice. There’s no school that can be excellent for every child. So in order for every child to get an excellent education, we have to get excellent school choice.

The outcomes in Florida also mean that support for school choice will be strengthened. The Sunshine State—as we’ve detailed href=”http://thf_media.s3.amazonaws.com/2010/pdf/bg2468.pdf”>here, href=”http://thf_media.s3.amazonaws.com/2010/pdf/bg2468_Sp.pdf”>here and href=”http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/229905/reducing-achievement-gap/matthew-ladner”>here—has been a leader in education reform over the past decade. Governor-elect Rick Scott is likely to build on Florida’s success and is a strong proponent of school choice, including vouchers, charter schools, and an expansion of virtual education options. In his href=”http://www.rickscottforflorida.com/home/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/Scott_Rick_EducationBook_Online-1.pdf”>education platform, Governor-elect Scott writes:

I want to build an education framework that is student-centered, allowing education to be customized to fit the unique needs of each student and family. Every parent should have the choice to decide which delivery method and what provider is best to meet the needs and learning abilities of their children. Simply stated, parental choice is a crucial element of this new era in education. It is a catalyst to help all other reform measures work more effectively.

Moreover, the href=”http://www.federationforchildren.com/news-releases”>American Federation for Children notes that Pam Bondi “defeated the vehemently anti-school choice State Senator Dan Gelber to become the Sunshine State’s next Attorney General.”

In Indiana, Governor Mitch Daniels could have the support of both the Indiana House and the Senate when promoting school choice options and education reform proposals. The Republican-controlled House will be led by Brian Bosma, a strong school choice proponent, who would likely back school choice proposals set forth by Governor Daniels, such as vouchers for low-income children. The Evansville Courier Press reports that Daniels is considering a wide array of education reforms and that State Superintendent Tony Bennett supports Daniels’s education proposals “ href=”http://www.courierpress.com/news/2010/nov/04/ind-gov-daniels-outline-2011-legislative-agenda/”>without question.”

In Ohio, John Kasich, a school choice proponent, defeated Governor Ted Strickland. This will likely mean renewed support for the state’s school choice programs, including the Autism Scholarship Program, the EdChoice scholarship program, and the Cleveland voucher program. In addition to the support of Kasich, Ohio families will likely benefit from the support of the Ohio House of Representatives and the state Senate.

In Nevada, incoming Governor Brian Sandoval is not only a strong advocate for school choice; he also has big plans to implement many pieces of the successful Florida reform model. Education expert href=”http://jaypgreene.com/2010/11/02/6892/”>Matthew Ladner also notes that Sandoval plans to take a page from his election opponent, Rory Reid:

This was an especially interesting race from an education angle, as Sandoval called for Florida reforms, and Reid proposed weighted student funding. Sandoval read Reid’s education plan, and declared that it was a good plan, so he was going to do it and the Florida reforms.

Finally, Wisconsin will prove an exciting state to watch over the next year, as education reform promises to be on the agenda. Governor-elect Scott Walker is a strong supporter of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, which last year href=”http://www.dpi.state.wi.us/sms/choice.html”>empowered more than 20,000 students to attend a private school of their choice. Republicans also took control of both houses of the Wisconsin legislature, creating a ripe environment for education reform initiatives and school choice expansion.

Across the country, election results mean big opportunities for genuine education reform that empowers parents. Families are also likely to see education reform proposals in states like Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, and Kansas—states in which the post-election climate is more favorable to reform and to school choice. To the benefit of parents, children, and taxpayers, 2011 could indeed shape up to be one of the most fertile climates for choice-based education reform in years.

?

The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.

Chilling Report: The Legal, Political and Military Path of Shariah in the United States Today

November 12, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

[Editor’s Note: This article appeared first at Right Side News]

NEW YORK CITY (November 9, 2010) This past September, the Center for Security Policy issued an abbreviated report titled Shariah – The Threat to America, An Exercise in Competitive Analysis, Report of Team B II. In a press conference today, CSP is releasing the full, unexpurgated study, and will have four of the authors on hand to discuss it. A great summary of both versions can be read here.

The “Team B” name was coined for a 1976 critique of U.S. détente policy toward the Soviet Union. A group of highly-regarded analysts, “Team B,” found the assumptions of “Team A,” the détente crowd, to be fatally flawed—i.e. that the Soviets could be placated by accommodative policies—and that by naïvely misreading the enemy, détente was actually exposing the U.S. to lethal danger. This later became the foundation for the Reagan Doctrine.

The Team B II report continues this tradition, this time evaluating U.S. policy toward radical Muslims living within the U.S. The 372 page document addresses in detail a largely unrecognized but deadly Islamist infiltration, its methodologies, its goals, its frightening successes and what must be done to stem this tide.

It is impossible to underestimate the importance of this report. It has put together some of the best minds in foreign policy, military policy and domestic law enforcement. It is a thorough, sober, articulate exposé that overlooks no subtleties of argument, yet is written in crystal clear prose easily grasped by layman and expert alike.

While our Nation has been battling violent Muslim terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan, their brethren have been quietly settling in the United States for over sixty years. The strategies embedded in this stealth jihad can be summed up in one word: Shariah.

Shariah is a Muslim terms with which most Americans were unfamiliar prior to 9-11. It has been popularly misconstrued in the public mind as some kind of Islamic religious doctrine. Now, having witnessed this “religious doctrine” played out across our TV screens with the videoed beheadings of Nicholas Berg and journalist Daniel Pearle, reported stoning deaths of female rape victims for marital infidelity, honor killings, genital mutilation and other such vicious, abject lunacy, we have been forced to admit that it can be just a wee bit harsh as religious teachings go.

Team B II however, explains that it is not merely or even primarily religious law. Instead, shariah, or “the path,” is a complete “legal-political-military doctrine,” which they identify as, “The preeminent totalitarian threat of our time.”

The specific objectives are spelled out in a 1991 document seized from the Annandale, Virginia home of Muslim Brotherhood member Ismail Elbarasse. The document, An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America, makes clear that while the Brotherhood was using peaceful means, its ends were the destruction of America, to be replaced with a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by shariah. Point 4 under “Process of Settlement” states:

The process of settlement is a “Civilization Jihadist Process” with all the word means. The Ikhwan [Muslim Brotherhood] must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and “sabotaging” its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions…(emphasis added.)

Another document described the phases of stealth jihad. It seems we are very close to the last phase:

Phase One: Phase of discreet and secret establishment of leadership.

Phase Two: Phase of gradual appearance on the public scene and exercising and utilizing various public activities (It greatly succeeded in implementing this stage). It also succeeded in achieving a great deal of its important goals, such as infiltrating various sectors of the Government, gaining religious institutions and embracing senior scholars. Gaining public support and sympathy. Establishing a shadow government (secret) within the Government.

Phase Three: Escalation phase, prior to conflict and confrontation with the rulers, through utilizing mass media. (Currently in progress).

Phase Four: Open public confrontation with the Government through exercising the political pressure approach. (It is aggressively implementing the above-mentioned approach). Training on the use of weapons domestically and overseas in anticipation of zero-hour. (It has noticeable activities in this regard.)

Phase Five: Seizing power to establish their [sic] Islamic Nation under which all parties and Islamic groups are united.

These documents, which came to light in the 2004 Holy Land Foundation terrorist financing trial, are impossible to misinterpret, yet Team B II shows that the prevailing political culture has sought to placate American Islamists, turned a blind eye to their alarming activities and completely ignored the implications of shariah. In so doing, they have abdicated their Constitutional duty to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies; foreign and domestic…”

I spoke with both Team B II members Andrew McCarthy and Frank Gaffney for this article. McCarthy is a former Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney and was lead prosecutor against World Trade Center bombing mastermind, the “Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdel Rahman. He is Senior Fellow at the National Review Institute and Contributing Editor, National Review magazine. Gaffney is a former Reagan administration Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy and (Acting) President, Center for Security Policy. He is also host of Secure Freedom Radio, widely published writer and lead author of War Footing: Ten Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World

Our discussions centered on how to effectively tackle this problem. Both men agreed that we need to embark on a major campaign to educate the American people. Islamist infiltration of the U.S. has been ongoing since the days of the Eisenhower administration. The Islamists have hidden behind First Amendment religious freedom arguments and have been effective at intimidating law enforcement and the political structure against monitoring their activities too closely.

But they haven’t had to try too hard. Many politicians of both parties have bent over backwards to accommodate them. McCarthy pointed to articles by Shariah co-author Patrick Poole, who has documented some particularly egregious examples:

  • The picture above shows Sheikh Kifah Mustapha (front row, second from left), a known agent of the terrorist group, Hamas, getting a tour of the FBI’s top secret National Counterterrorism Center as part of their “Muslim outreach” this past September. Mustapha raised money for Hamas as late as 2009 and is an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation terror financing case.
  • Mustapha was appointed this year as the first certified Muslim chaplain for the Illinois State Police. The appointment was revoked when the ISP were informed of his background.
  • Al Qaeda Imam Anwar al-Awlaki, the Yemen-based American cleric linked to the Fort Hood shooter and subsequent terrorist plots, who recently proclaimed open-season on Americans, led a prayer meeting in Congress for the Congressional Muslim Staff Association shortly after 9-11. He also had lunch at the Pentagon.
  • In 2006, U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) complained to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff that Islamic scholar Anwar Hajjaj had faced “unwarranted scrutiny” when re-entering the U.S. at Kennedy Airport. Hajjaj heads the Taibah International Aid Associaton and the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, both tagged as financial supporters of al Qaeda.
  • Hajjaj also led prayers for the Congressional Muslim Staff Association, courtesy its founder, Jameel Johnson, Rep. Meeks then Chief of Staff.
  • Johnson organized an Islamic conference that was cancelled by the House Sergeant-at-Arms due to terrorism ties of scheduled speakers.
  • One of the scheduled speakers for the House event scheduled another conference in the Ohio State House. This one went off without a hitch, funded by taxpayers.
  • The National Counterterrorism Center recruited a Muslim “De-radicalization expert,” Yasir Qadh, who was on the terrorist watch list.
  • Muslim Students Association at Ohio State University was found to be funded by an Islamic terrorist financing group.
  • Muslim student groups throughout the US are being trained by radical Muslim Brotherhood activists.
  • A New Jersey judge ruled that a Muslim man may beat and rape his wife at will because shariah allows it. The victim’s plea for a restraining order in this case was denied. Fortunately the ruling was eventually reversed.
  • Recently the state of Oklahoma voted to ban consideration of Shariah in any court proceedings. An Oklahoma judge has issued a restraining order preventing the law from taking effect following a lawsuit by CAIR.
  • According to Andrew McCarthy, recently appointed Supreme Court judge Elena Kagan promoted shariah as dean of Harvard Law School. She helped develop a Saudi-funded program at the school called the “Islamic Finance Project,” specifically created to introduce shariah compliance to the U.S. finance sector.
  • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reversed a six-year ban on visits to the U.S. by Tariq Ramadan. Tariq is the son of founding Muslim Brotherhood member Said Ramadan and since returning has been aggressively pursuing civilization jihad. (B II Report, p. 112)
  • According to Paul Williams at Atlas Shrugs: “special agents of the [FBI] are now compelled to undergo sensitivity training sessions so that they will not offend practitioners of Islam—even radical Islam—in the course of a criminal investigation.”

These are but a tiny subset of examples showing the extent to which Muslim radicals and their ideas have penetrated our legal, educational and governmental institutions to the highest levels. According to McCarthy, the Muslim Brotherhood-founded Muslim Students Association has chapters on 300 college campuses.

Political correctness has prevented many within the political/legal infrastructure from carefully examining the dangerous nature of these people and their designs, while official ignorance and/or Leftist ideology have allowed the Islamists to hide behind phony First Amendment religious freedom arguments.

McCarthy says however, that it is incorrect to consider Shariah as an expression of religious belief. Rather, Shariah is a complete system of law, dictating all aspects of life for Muslims. In that sense it has no legitimate religious defense. McCarthy made a point in our interview of stressing the supremacy of U.S. law. The Team B II Report states (pp. 226-227):

For one thing, the shariah legal code cannot be insinuated into America – even through stealthy means or democratic processes – without violating the

Constitution’s Article 6 Supremacy Clause, which requires that the Constitution “shall be the supreme Law of the land.”

For another, those who advocate the imposition of shariah in America must be considered ineligible to serve in the military, or hold state or federal office, insofar as Article 6 requires them to swear an “oath…to support this Constitution” – not any other legal code, like shariah. The same disqualifier would appear to govern with respect to immigrants or would-be naturalized citizens.

Lastly, advocacy of and engagement in jihad [holy war], of even the dawa [stealth jihad] variety, for the purpose of imposing shariah, supplanting the Constitution and overthrowing the government it mandates would – as a practical matter – constitute a felony violation of the U.S. Code’s prohibitions on treason, sedition and subversive activities.

This section explicitly recognizes that the Islamic offensive is criminal in nature. And the Team B II Report concludes that, “Virtually every provision of the U.S. Constitution can be juxtaposed with shariah practices that are in violent conflict with America’s foundational laws.”

McCarthy says it can be dealt with directly through vigorous enforcement of U.S. law. We talked, for example about the Jamaat al-Fuqra training camps around the country. These camps could be shut down overnight if we had the political will. In Colorado Springs, Colorado, one was. But other than that, and despite al-Fuqra’s known terrorist ties and strong evidence of illegal activities here, the camps have been left largely alone.

McCarthy stressed that Congressional hearings could serve the multiple purpose of exposing appeasers while concurrently educating the public about the magnitude of the problem. It could also serve as a starting point for criminal investigations.

Gaffney takes that one step further. He and other Team members assert that official acquiescence to Islamic radicals may in some cases constitute misprision of treason. This term refers to circumstances where one is aware that treason is occurring but does nothing to report it, essentially making the person an accessory to the crime.

I am with Gaffney on this one. For example, Hillary Clinton knows full well what Tariq Ramadan is up to. Using her position to allow someone like him into the U.S. is at best, misprision. The Report contains a case study that focuses on Obama administration Counter-terrorism Czar John Brennan (pp. 252-257). Brennan personifies the U.S. government’s increasingly servile and pandering attitude toward radical Islamic organizations and individuals. In so doing he sends an unmistakable message to domestic Islamic terrorists that the U.S. government is not inclined to challenge them. By default he is also sending a message to U.S. law enforcement to lay off. As Gaffney delicately put it, Brennan is at best, guilty of willful ignorance. At best.

Gaffney also adds that it is critical to recognize the role played by the radical left in promoting radical Islam. They are not only aware of the Islamists true goals, but are actively aiding and abetting them in their efforts to destroy our country. David Horowitz discussed this in his book, Unholy Alliance, Radical Islam and the American Left. This filthy network of traitors needs to be exposed and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Yet at this time, many sympathizers, like Hillary, occupy positions of power within our government.

Gaffney and Co. will be delivering copies of Team B II’s Report to the new Congress. Perhaps they will do the right thing and begin holding hearings on the dangers we face from radical Islam and the Americans who are supporting it.

It is way past time.

Big Peace

Tales of 57 States: The Deficit Wizards Speak

November 11, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Deficit Wizards asked to apply their knowledge of coin, commerce and Congress to the Realm’s deficit problem
American Thinker Blog

Will the Federal Reserve’s Easy-Money Policy Turn the United States into a Global Laughingstock?

November 11, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

One of my first blog posts (and the first one to get any attention) highlighted the amusing/embarrassing irony of having Chinese students laugh at Treasury Secretary Geithner when he claimed the United States had a strong-dollar policy.

I suspect that even Tim “Turbotax” Geithner would be smart enough to avoid such a claim today, not after the Fed’s announcement (with the full support of the White House and Treasury) that it would flood the economy with $ 600 billion of hot money.

As I noted in an earlier post, monetary policy is not nearly as cut and dried as other issues, so I’m reluctant to make sweeping and definitive statements. That being said, I’m fairly sure that the Fed is on the wrong path. Here’s what my colleague Alan Reynolds wrote in the Wall Street Journal about Bernanke’s policy.

Mr. Bernanke…believes (contrary to our past experience with stagflation) that inflation is no danger thanks to economic slack (high unemployment). He reasons that if people can nonetheless be persuaded to expect higher inflation, regardless of the slack, that means interest rates will appear even lower in real terms. If that worked as planned, lower real interest rates would supposedly fix our hangover from the last Fed-financed borrowing binge by encouraging more borrowing. This whole scheme raises nagging questions. Why would domestic investors accept a lower yield on bonds if they expect higher inflation? And why would foreign investors accept a lower yield on U.S. bonds if they expect exchange rate losses on dollar-denominated securities? Why wouldn’t intelligent people shift their investments toward commodities or related stocks (such as mining and related machinery) and either shun, or sell short, long-term Treasurys? And if they did that, how could it possibly help the economy?

The rest of the world seems to share these concerns. The Germans are not big fans of America’s binge of borrowing and easy money. Here’s what Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble had to say in a recent interview:

The American growth model, on the other hand, is in a deep crisis. The United States lived on borrowed money for too long, inflating its financial sector unnecessarily and neglecting its small and mid-sized industrial companies. …I seriously doubt that it makes sense to pump unlimited amounts of money into the markets. There is no lack of liquidity in the US economy, which is why I don’t recognize the economic argument behind this measure. …The Fed’s decisions bring more uncertainty to the global economy. …It’s inconsistent for the Americans to accuse the Chinese of manipulating exchange rates and then to artificially depress the dollar exchange rate by printing money.

The comment about borrowed money has a bit of hypocrisy since German government debt is not much lower than it is in the United States, but the Finance Minister surely is correct about monetary policy. And speaking of China, we now have the odd situation of a Chinese rating agency downgrading U.S. government debt.

The United States has lost its double-A credit rating with Dagong Global Credit Rating Co., Ltd., the first domestic rating agency in China, due to its new round of quantitative easing policy. Dagong Global on Tuesday downgraded the local and foreign currency long-term sovereign credit rating of the US by one level to A+ from previous AA with “negative” outlook.

This development shold be taken with a giant grain of salt, as explained by a Wall Street Journal blogger. Nonetheless, the fact that the China-based agency thought this was a smart tactic must say something about how the rest of the world is beginning to perceive America.

Simply stated, Obama is following Jimmy Carter-style economic policy, so nobody shoud be surprised if the result is 1970s-style stagflation.


Big Government

Will the Federal Reserve’s Easy-Money Policy Turn the United States into a Global Laughingstock?

November 11, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

One of my first blog posts (and the first one to get any attention) highlighted the amusing/embarrassing irony of having Chinese students laugh at Treasury Secretary Geithner when he claimed the United States had a strong-dollar policy.

I suspect that even Tim “Turbotax” Geithner would be smart enough to avoid such a claim today, not after the Fed’s announcement (with the full support of the White House and Treasury) that it would flood the economy with $ 600 billion of hot money.

As I noted in an earlier post, monetary policy is not nearly as cut and dried as other issues, so I’m reluctant to make sweeping and definitive statements. That being said, I’m fairly sure that the Fed is on the wrong path. Here’s what my colleague Alan Reynolds wrote in the Wall Street Journal about Bernanke’s policy.

Mr. Bernanke…believes (contrary to our past experience with stagflation) that inflation is no danger thanks to economic slack (high unemployment). He reasons that if people can nonetheless be persuaded to expect higher inflation, regardless of the slack, that means interest rates will appear even lower in real terms. If that worked as planned, lower real interest rates would supposedly fix our hangover from the last Fed-financed borrowing binge by encouraging more borrowing. This whole scheme raises nagging questions. Why would domestic investors accept a lower yield on bonds if they expect higher inflation? And why would foreign investors accept a lower yield on U.S. bonds if they expect exchange rate losses on dollar-denominated securities? Why wouldn’t intelligent people shift their investments toward commodities or related stocks (such as mining and related machinery) and either shun, or sell short, long-term Treasurys? And if they did that, how could it possibly help the economy?

The rest of the world seems to share these concerns. The Germans are not big fans of America’s binge of borrowing and easy money. Here’s what Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble had to say in a recent interview:

The American growth model, on the other hand, is in a deep crisis. The United States lived on borrowed money for too long, inflating its financial sector unnecessarily and neglecting its small and mid-sized industrial companies. …I seriously doubt that it makes sense to pump unlimited amounts of money into the markets. There is no lack of liquidity in the US economy, which is why I don’t recognize the economic argument behind this measure. …The Fed’s decisions bring more uncertainty to the global economy. …It’s inconsistent for the Americans to accuse the Chinese of manipulating exchange rates and then to artificially depress the dollar exchange rate by printing money.

The comment about borrowed money has a bit of hypocrisy since German government debt is not much lower than it is in the United States, but the Finance Minister surely is correct about monetary policy. And speaking of China, we now have the odd situation of a Chinese rating agency downgrading U.S. government debt.

The United States has lost its double-A credit rating with Dagong Global Credit Rating Co., Ltd., the first domestic rating agency in China, due to its new round of quantitative easing policy. Dagong Global on Tuesday downgraded the local and foreign currency long-term sovereign credit rating of the US by one level to A+ from previous AA with “negative” outlook.

This development shold be taken with a giant grain of salt, as explained by a Wall Street Journal blogger. Nonetheless, the fact that the China-based agency thought this was a smart tactic must say something about how the rest of the world is beginning to perceive America.

Simply stated, Obama is following Jimmy Carter-style economic policy, so nobody shoud be surprised if the result is 1970s-style stagflation.


Big Government

Secret Ballot Protection Wins Big in Four States

November 11, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

-By Warner Todd Huston

Is card check dead? Not completely, but if the recent votes on various state ballot initiatives of four states is any indication it sure seems to be on its last legs.

Little noticed by the Old Media, the ballot initiatives of these four states is an important bellwether of how little support Big Labor’s favorite law will have going forward. On November 2 four states voted by great margins to protect the secret ballot and these reasserted protections would tend to deliver a blow to one of the Democrat’s important provisions of card check, a provision that would eliminate the secret ballot for prospective union members.

Card check is one of the main parts of Big Labor’s Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). The provision would eliminate a secret ballot for prospective union members as they decide on representation. Under the EFCA, votes for union representation would be an open issue. Every employee’s vote would be clearly known by all involved. This open voting (or the public checking of a vote card or ballot) would clearly leave employees open for harassment by union officials who would be fully aware of each employees individual votes, if they voted for or against the union. For that matter, even the employer would have knowledge of who voted for what under the EFCA.

But these ballot initiatives seem to bode ill will for card check. The Wall Street Journal reports the lopsided support for secret ballot protections (Subscription required).

Four states — Arizona, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah — voted on “save our secret ballot” measures that would require secret elections and effectively outlaw card check as a means to certify a union. In Arizona and Utah the measures passed with 60% of the vote. In South Dakota the margin of victory was 79% and in South Carolina it was 86%.

Democrats are still telling Big Labor that they intend to push the EFCA to the floor for a vote and are promising that they’ll do so in the upcoming lame duck (or zombie) session of congress. But if they do, they seem destined to lose the issue. The prevailing winds among the voters is running against the EFCA.

This won’t stop President Obama from trying to push through a stealth card check by altering federal labor regulations, though. Members of his administration have already made noises that they would like to do this.

Still, as each month passes the EFCA looks like it has less support all the time.

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Stop The ACLU

United States of Greece: The Countdown

November 10, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Dick Morris has picked up on a theme Education Action Group has been trumpeting for months: public employee union contracts, including school employee contracts, are unsustainable and have several states on the verge of fiscal collapse.

Recently on Fox News, Morris suggested California, Michigan, Illinois, New York, and Connecticut are the top five most likely to default, given the severity of their situation and the unlikelihood of the Feds or bond holders coming to the rescue.

“Education Action Group has been way ahead of the curve on this,” Morris told me.  “EAG has been showing the major spending problems, stemming from outrageous contracts, for quite some time.”

Buffalo Public Schools revealed recently that it spent $ 9 million last year alone on elective surgery for employees.  Coverage for such an extravagance, by its very nature taking funds away from the education of children, was due to the collective bargaining agreement.

In Milwaukee, the school district pays nearly $ 24,000 per employee for health insurance because such lavish benefits are demanded by the union.

In Cincinnati, the collective bargaining agreement stipulates 15 sick days per year, so not only is the school district paying employees when they’re not working, but the district must also cover the cost of a substitute teacher.  The result?  Cincinnati Public Schools shelled out $ 7.5 million on sick leave last year.

Public schools have a spending problem and the vast majority is attributed to labor contracts.  Aggressive tactics by union negotiators, and the inaction of weak-kneed school board members more worried about getting re-elected and being liked by constituents, are exacerbating the problem.

Morris’ theory is right.  In the next few months, we could see unions rioting in the streets, as we’ve recently witnessed in Greece.  When states begin talking about bankrupting and shredding union contracts, unions will no one to blame but themselves.  But the question remains: will Americans deal with the problem and save our country, or will we capitulate to the aggressive tactics of public employee unions?


Big Government

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