Links for 1-6-2013

Links for 1-4-2013

  • Robert Costa wrote excellent articles for National Review Online on how the #FireBoehner hashtag started on Twitter and how the Speaker election unfolded on the House floor. Boehner was short of the votes needed after the first run through the roll call list, and it wasn’t until Michele Bachmann and Marsha Blackburn wandered onto the floor and voted for Boehner that he had it wrapped up.

  • Mark Steyn on Republican “yes” votes for the Fiscal Cliff bill: “If courage is the willingness to take a stand and vote for a bad deal because you’ve been painted into a corner and want Obama to fly back to Hawaii at the cost of another $3 million in public funds that could have gone to algae subsidies so he’ll stop tormenting you for a week or two, then truly we are led by giants.”

  • Chris Christie will to have to cut back on the doughnuts, as New Jersey’s revenue shortfall stands at $705 million halfway through the fiscal year. Christie’s budget assumed New Jersey’s economy would grow at a 8% rate, which is nuts given that the U.S. GDP is “growing” at around a 2% annual rate and Obama’s not interested in improving it. New Jersey may outperform the U.S., but not by that much.

  • The Illinois Senate postponed votes on the two bills that would outlaw most modern firearms and impose new regulations on shooting ranges.

  • NewGeography published an article by a California transplant to Austin describing how California’s “blue utopia” is driving businesses out of the state. It includes an account of an airplane conversation with a businessman who lives in Austin and commutes to California four days a week; the money he saves on income taxes more than pays for flights, hotels, rental cars, etc. We get a lot of that here. Hopefully these folks understand that if they vote in Texas the same way many of them voted in California, they’re going to turn Texas into another “blue utopia” failed state.

  • There’s speculation that Iran ordered the evacuation of 1.5 million people from the city of Isfahan due to a radiation leak at a nearby uranium enrichment facility.

  • The 15 year old girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban for promoting girls’ education, Malala Yousufzai, was released from the U.K. hospital where she’s been treated since she was evacuated from Pakistan. She’ll live in the U.K. with her family, and will have to undergo skull reconstruction surgery within the next month.

Links for 1-3-2013

Links for 1-2-2012

  • Senators voted on the Fiscal Cliff bill three minutes after receiving it and its budget score. You know, because the Senate is the deliberative body. (via Weasel Zippers)

  • Departing Congressman Jeff Landry hammered John Boehner over the Fiscal Cliff bill: “While establishment Republicans and the media blamed Tea Party conservatives for holding up a deal, we found out last night that Speaker Boehner was willing all along to balk 150 members of his caucus and join with the Democrats to raise taxes… He [Boehner] spoiled the political capital given him in the 2010 elections. He negotiated with himself, he never forced Obama to lead, and he never forced the President to put his offers in a bill and force Democrats to vote on it.”

  • Daniel Horowitz asks if Eric Cantor and Kevin McCarthy will purge themselves from their committee assignments for voting against John Boehner on the Fiscal Cliff bill. Good question.

  • Erick Erickson starts the process of burying Paul Ryan from a conservative perspective in the wake of his vote on the Fiscal Cliff bill. If Ryan decides to run for president in 2016, he’ll be portrayed by Erickson and others as another establishment candidate in the tradition of Bob Dole, John McCain, and Mitt Romney. Given Ryan’s voting record, they can make a persuasive case.

  • Bryan Preston wrote an excellent column entitled “Can You Fight Futility?” that includes this observation: “Eleven states now have more people on government assistance than are working at jobs. Forbes calls these the ‘death spiral states.’ It should worry us all that they include New York, Ohio, Illinois and California. Two of them are two of our three most populous states. One glitters with Manhattan and the other, with Hollywood. They dominate the coasts and the culture. They should be working parts of a machine driving the domestic and world economy, but instead they’re becoming sand in the gears. It’s probably not a coincidence that our president was born in one and built his political career in another, and is transforming the nation into something that resembles them.”

  • The Department of Homeland Security changed the process by which illegal immigrants who have family members who are U.S. citizens can apply for a visa. Formerly they had return to their home country to apply for a visa, and if they had been in the U.S. illegally for more than six months they had to apply for an “unlawful presence” waiver before their visa application would be considered. Now illegal immigrants can apply for the waiver while they’re still in the country illegally, which is expected to increase the number of illegal immigrants who apply for visas.

  • The Washington Post noticed that the U.S. still uses rendition to capture and interrogate terrorism suspects. Instead of disappearing into CIA black prisons, the U.S. transports these suspects to places like Nigeria and Djibouti, where I’m sure they’re treated very kindly and courteously. I’m also quite certain that the lack of Liberal outrage over this continuing practice has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact the president is a Democrat.

  • An interesting take on absentee fatherhood as the elephant in the room in the Newtown mass shooting: “Adam Lanza was not normal. He suffered from morbid shyness and an inability to connect with his student peers and anyone else – a cold, withdrawn, hollow shell of a person to his classmates, an Asperger’s patient to professional psychologists. Even under the best of circumstances – with a loving, caring, two-parent family consisting of a husband and wife who complemented each other’s strengths and worked together as a team – raising someone like Adam Lanza would be a real challenge.”

  • The Department of Justice pushed Lesley University into an agreement to make gluten-free and allergen-free food available under the school’s meal plan because celiac disease and food allergies are covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Yes, really. In addition to agreeing to a long list of mandates (“[c]ontinually provide ready-made hot and cold gluten- and allergen-free food options in its dining hall food lines”), Lesley had to pay a $50,000 fine.

Links for 1-1-2013

  • Around 2:00am the Senate gutted a bill passed by the House, turned it into a Fiscal Cliff bill, and passed it 89–8. It increases the income tax rate for single filers earning more than $400,000 a year ($450,000 for married filing jointly) from 35% to 39.6%; it also increases the tax rate for dividends and capital gains from 15% to 20% (not including ObamaCare’s 3.8% surcharge). Single filers earning more than $200,000 ($250,000 for married filing jointly) will also pay higher taxes thanks to limits on personal exemptions and itemized deductions. It also increases the top estate tax rate to 40%. Notable Senators who voted against the bill include Marco Rubio, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul. Stupid Senators who voted for the bill and should have known better included Ron Johnson, Pat Toomey, and Tom Coburn. The bill also contains pork in the form of tax breaks for Hollywood, motorsports track owners, and wind power. The bill also postpones the scheduled sequestration to March 1, which has the effect of turning it into a bill with $330 billion in new spending over ten years, which will add approximately $4 trillion to the deficit over the same period. That works out to $41 in new taxes for every $1 in spending cuts. People like Ramesh Ponnuru are complaining that the 41:1 statistic is misleading because it assumes the none of the sequestration cuts will go into effect on March 1. The problem with that argument is that the GOP leadership asserting that the Senate’s Fiscal Cliff bill is the best that can be done is the same GOP leadership that created the Fiscal Cliff during the last debate over raising the debt ceiling. The new March 1 date for sequestration coincides with the Treasury’s estimate of when their “extraordinary measures” for dealing with the fact that we’ve hit the debt ceiling again will fail. In two month’s time Congress will be passing bills in the middle of the night to raise the debt ceiling, thereby avoiding a “default” that doesn’t have to happen (if it does happen, it will be because Obama wants it to). Those bills will contain no meaningful (which is to say, immediate) spending cuts and the same GOP leadership will be telling us it’s the best that can be done.

  • The House passed the Senate’s Fiscal Cliff bill by a vote of 257–167. Paul Ryan voted for it.

  • A reminder: The Pacific Legal Foundation is challenging the Senate’s practice of subverting the Constitution’s Origination Clause by gutting bills passed by the House and inserting new text that raises revenue. The PLF case deals with ObamaCare, but if the Supreme Court finds the practice unconstitutional it could very well make the Senate’s Fiscal Cliff bill unconstitutional as well.

  • Alaska will go through another redistricting exercise for the 2014 elections because the Alaska Supreme Court ruled that the redistricting currently in effect incorrectly adhered to the federal Voting Rights Act before it adhered to the state’s constitution. (via Election Law Center)

  • Shell continues to have trouble drilling off the Alaska coast, as a drill rig named the Kulluk broke its towlines in 36 foot seas and ran aground off the coast of Kodiak Island.

Links for 12-31-2012

  • Kyle Becker wrote a great list of reasons why it’s great to be Barack Obama. I like reason #18: “Admit you hung out with marxists in your biography, mimic the exact same tax the rich policies as socialists in Europe, and then vehemently reject the notion that you’re a socialist.”

  • The U.S. officially hit the $16.4 trillion debt ceiling.

  • George Will delivered a great lecture (video and text) on the role of religion in American politics. His thesis is that religion, particularly Protestantism, promotes values like the “primacy of individual conscience and choice,” virtues like industriousness, moderation, and responsibility, the idea of pre-existing natural rights, and the notion of accepting human nature for what it is. All of this helped to establish America’s representative democracy and kept it thriving until Woodrow Wilson and the progressives appeared on the scene in 1912’s presidential election and upended the value system. The Constitution became too confining, rights became something granted to citizens by the federal government, and secularism began displacing religion. After watching or reading Will’s lecture, read Louis Michael Seidman’s op-ed in the The New York Times, “Let’s Give Up on the Constitution.” You’ll quickly appreciate that we’re still on the trajectory set by Woodrow Wilson.

  • A Texas state district judge refused to grant Planned Parenthood a temporary restraining order preventing Texas from cutting off funding to the group when the new Texas Women’s Health Program launches tomorrow. Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit against the state will go to trial on January 11.

  • New York police arrested the pregnant daughter of a prominent doctor and her boyfriend, a Harvard grad and Occupy Wall Street activist, for possessing a potent explosive, a modified shotgun, and high-capacity rifle magazines. Their Greenwich Village apartment also contained manuals for constructing bombs, booby traps, and improvised submachine guns. For some reason the New York Post reported this story but The New York Times did not. Hmmm.

  • Peter Cove wrote a good article for City Journal describing how our federal and state welfare programs promote dependence on government. Cove started a for-profit private sector company, America Works, that places welfare recipients in jobs as quickly as possible. This is his recommendation for dealing with runaway welfare spending: “My experience with long-term welfare clients has led me to propose a radical solution: that we abolish all cash welfare, as well as food and housing assistance – except for the elderly and the physically and mentally disabled – in order to move from a dependency culture to one of work-first.” Obviously he has a financial interest in this approach, but the fact that the U.S. has been fighting the War on Poverty since August 1964 and has yet to win indicates it’s time to consider a radical rethinking of our strategy.

  • Arizona’s participation in the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program turned up 10 people who double voted in the 2010 election. They’re still analyzing information from the 2012 election.

  • Northern Mali is the latest failed state to host al Qaeda.

  • Barack Obama’s grandmother, Sarah Onyango Obama, reportedly had eye surgery at a clinic in Equatorial Guinea created by Israeli entrepreneurs and staffed by Israeli doctors. Apparently no one in the Obama administration briefed her on the family’s anti-Israel and anti-private sector healthcare policy positions.

Links for 12-29-2012