Thursday, January 27, 2011

They Insult the Prophet

The Daily Mail has posted video of the stoning death of 19 year old Siddqa and her alleged lover Khyyam (h/t Atlas Shrugs). I've embedded the video below. It's graphic. Here's how the Daily Mail reported the story:
TALIBAN SPOKESMAN: 'Anyone who knows about Islam knows that stoning is in the Koran, and that it is Islamic law. There are people who call it inhuman - but in doing so they insult the Prophet. They want to bring foreign thinking to this country'
Horrific video footage has emerged of Taliban insurgents stoning a couple to death for alleged adultery in northern Afghanistan.

Hundreds of villagers can be seen on the video standing around as the woman, Siddqa, is buried up to her waist in a four foot hole in the ground.

Two mullahs pass sentence before the crowd begins to throw rocks at her head and body as she desperately tries to crawl free.
I don't know what to say. The barbarism of the Taliban has not yet been eradicated.

WARNING: Graphic

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Revisiting Obama's Rising Job Approval and the SotU

Jay Cost follows up on Obama's Rising Job Approval:
...the internals of the poll offer mixed readings for the president, who is still under-water on approval for the economy (45/54), health care (44/55), taxes (46/52), the deficit (38/60), and illegal immigration (38/57). This might help explain the news reports that the State of the Union is going to focus more on atmospherics than substance, as it seems that the president's job approval bounce depends most of all upon the atmosphere since the midterm.
And the predicted focus on atmospherics seems about right in light of Jennifer Rubin's Where was Obama the centrist in his State of the Union?:
If you were expecting a moderate Obama or a bold Obama, you were disappointed, most likely, by Tuesday's State of the Union Address. In a nutshell: Obama proposed a ton of new domestic spending, promised to freeze discretionary spending (attained by savaging defense), abstained from offering specifics on entitlement reform and largely ignored major foreign policy changes. Moreover, the delivery was so listless that this State of the Union address likely garnered less applause than any address in recent memory.

But the mystery is solved: There is no new Obama, just a less snarly one. But it was also a flat and boring speech, too long by a third. Can you recall a single line?
In fact, I can remember a line. Sort of. It was a quip about "smoked salmon", but the audience didn't think it was funny. There was a pause before some nervous laughter. I agree with Rubin that it was "listless". Nice words, poorly delivered.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Ann Wagner Considering Missouri Senate Bid

Roll Call reports that on another potential candidate for US Senate:
Ann Wagner, who lost a bid to be chairman of the Republican National Committee a week ago, is seriously considering running against Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), she told Roll Call on Saturday.
This would pit her against Sarah Steelman and possibly others (like Ed Martin). It looks like it could be a crowded field before the primary election in 2012.

It's Romney in a Straw Poll

ABC News's The Note reports that Romney won the New Hampshire Republican Party Committee Straw Poll:
In the first ever 'straw poll' of New Hampshire Republican party committee members sponsored by ABC News and WMUR and sanctioned by the state Republican party, ex-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney took 35 percent of the 276 valid ballots cast.
Congratulations, Mitt!

Understanding Obama's Job Approval

Jay Cost in the Weekly Standard takes a look at Obama's Job Approval:
There's a 'media context' that induces bumps such as these. The president is getting good press nowadays, so his numbers have gone up; during the campaign, with the Republican message machine running at full speed, his numbers went down as he got bad press. Next, there's a 'structural context,' which sets the broad parameters of his approval rating. This revolves around the big issues -- jobs, the deficit, the price of gas, the health care bill, etc. What we have seen in the last few weeks is that the media context has improved significantly for the president, but the structural context really hasn't changed much at all.
I take that to mean that the Tea Party movement has altered the "structural context." That doesn't mean that the structural context wont be changed again before the 2012 election. Eternal vigilance.

There are Death Panels!

I'm still shocked. The Boston Globe reports on the reality of death panels:
SUPPORTERS OF President Obama’s health care reform law have relentlessly derided Sarah Palin’s notion of “death panels’’ as a vulgar rhetorical technique, with no basis in reality, devised merely to scare a gullible, uneducated citizenry into rallying to repeal the law....
That sort of hemming and hawing carries on for ten paragraphs until we finally get to the lead:
But... Palin is right. Death panels are an inevitable consequence of socialized medicine. The law of scarcity demands them.
Will Lindsay Beyerstein reconsider her ill-planned post about Sarah Palin, blood-libel, and death panels in which she writes: "Death panels were a complete fabrication, of course."

Related articles

Friday, January 21, 2011

Tunisia's Impact on its Neighbors

Tunisia's North African neighbors are worried. The strongmen and monarchs running Egypt, Algeria, Libya and Morocco fear that discontent may spread. Why? noted in a report issued after Ben Ali's exit that, "In most Arab countries, a group of able politicians makes deals with the wealthier families and agrees to run the place for their mutual benefit ... with the rest of the population considered ignorant peasants, to be manipulated and taxed indefinitely." With the Internet, however, the manipulated classes are no longer so ignorant. The authoritarians know they confront a social and political time bomb.

Congress Wants Your Suggestions for Cutting Regulations

Dealing with Global Warming

Richard Lindzen has written A Case Against Precipitous Climate Action:
The notion of a static, unchanging climate is foreign to the history of the earth or any other planet with a fluid envelope. The fact that the developed world went into hysterics over changes in global mean temperature anomaly of a few tenths of a degree will astound future generations. Such hysteria simply represents the scientific illiteracy of much of the public, the susceptibility of the public to the substitution of repetition for truth, and the exploitation of these weaknesses by politicians, environmental promoters, and, after 20 years of media drum beating, many others as well. Climate is always changing.
 It gets better from there, so read the whole thing!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Closing Thoughts on the RNC Chairman Race

In some ways the RNC chairman race was like watching a trainwreck. It was this huge disaster for most of the people involved, but for political groupies, well, we just couldn't look away as long as the sound and horror of the moment was before us. There was nothing to be done. With only 168 votes to be had, there's scarcely anyone involved. Who are these voters and how would you lobby them? Like two locomotives meeting in a head on collision it was all out our control.

That said, I think Jay Cost's comments on the party structure help explain why the RNC Chairman race doesn't really matter:
The two parties stretch across three broad categories -- the electorate, the party organization in place to facilitate the campaign, and the government. None of these parts of the party is formally connected to any other part, and even within each category there is not a great deal of coherence.
Rather than inject some nuance into its analysis, the MSM has instead chosen to annoint the National Committee Chairman as the leader of the party in exile. The only reason it's done this, I believe, is the title. It sure as heck sounds as though the chairman actually leads [the] party! But in reality, he doesn't. The DNC and RNC have carved out for themselves amidst the chaos of the modern political party two, relatively narrow goals: (a) put on the quadrenniel political convention; (b) raise hundreds of millions of dollars for the political campaign. The chairman of both committees is supposed to spearhead these operations. He has no role in policy formation, nor does he really speak for anybody beyond the state party officials who elected him. In reality, he is just the organizational head of the party's campaign structure, which is by far the weakest and least consequential of the three components of the party.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Comprehensive List of Tax Hikes in Obamacare

Americans for Tax Reform has compiled a comprehensive list of tax hikes in Obamacare:
...the U.S. House of Representatives will be voting on an historic repeal of the Obamacare law. While there are many reasons to oppose this flawed government health insurance law, it is important to remember that Obamacare is also one of the largest tax increases in American history. Below is a comprehensive list of the two dozen new or higher taxes that pay for Obamcare’s expansion of government spending and interference between doctors and patients.
Remember to call your Representative and ask them to vote to repeal Obamacare.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

George W. Bush: Your Country Needs You

Official photograph portrait of former U.S. Pr...Image via Wikipedia
Saturday brought even more insanity when one of the victims of the Tucson shooting yelled: "your dead!" at Tucson Tea Party leader Trent Humphries. Of course, the craziness began oozing out on twitter shortly after the heinous attack occurred. I suppose the progressive political vitriol will never relent.

One explanation for this is that progressive and liberal demand for deranged invective exceeds the supply of people to blame. Therefore, we must fix this critical market failure by increasing America's supply of scape goats!

As has been pointed out by Michele Malkin and Markos Krugman, George W. Bush, first elected to the Presidency in 2000, has a long history of satiating lefty derangement syndromes. It is incumbent upon him to share the blood libels and other hate currently directed at Sarah Palin. To do otherwise would be unchivalrous.

Therefore, I'm calling on President George W. Bush to run for Congress in the great state of Texas.

Whether he should run for Senate or House is really a decision for him. Kay Bailey Hutchinson has announced that she will retire from the Senate; however, it would upset the pecking order of the state GOP if he were to elbow his way to the front of the line in that race. Given that Texas will gain four seats in the House, I think it would be more politically astute for him to seek election as a Representative. This would also put him in rarefied company, since the only other person to serve in the House of Representatives after serving as President is John Quincy Adams.

Update: Thanks for the link from Gateway Pundit who has much more on Eric Fuller!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

OPEC Raises the Price

Kevin Williamson in National Review Online notes that OPEC is not bailing out the world economy:
Good news for Generic Republican, who already has established himself as a legitimate contender for the White House in 2012: OPEC is not bailing us out. The oil cartel is making it known that it is cool with $100 oil and will not act unless prices move significantly higher and stay there. Oil, like most commodities, has been rising steadily as governments around the world keep their printing presses running to dump new money into the global economy.
I don't buy the idea that OPEC controls oil prices. Sure, they manipulate it at the margins, but they don't control the oil market to the extent that De Beers controls the diamond market. The reason for that is simple: each OPEC member is an independent entity. They might agree to fix the price at $100/barrel, but since they are independent actors they can get away with selling for $99/barrel. Whoever's selling for $99 will make up in volume what they lose on margin.

All of that is to say that I think the rising oil price is an indicator of inflation.

Neal Boortz: My Other Half is Gone

Royal Marshall (Photo:
Neal Boortz Show Producer Royal Marshall Dies - News Story - WSB Atlanta:
ATLANTA -- Raymond Royal Marshall, producer of the Neal Boortz Radio Show, died at his Atlanta home early Saturday.

Marshall, 43, collapsed at his home. Paramedics responded to his wife's call to 911, but were unable to revive him. He was pronounced dead early Saturday at Grady Hospital.

'For 15 years, it's been 'Royal and Belinda'' said Belinda Skelton, executive producer of the Neal Boortz Show. 'My other half is gone. I don't know if I can sit and look at someone else on the other side of that glass.'
I used to listen to Boortz and Royal all the time. I enjoyed their show and it was clear that the relationship between the two men was a close one. I remember one day when Boortz got stuck in traffic or something and was unable to get to the studio. Royal jumped behind the mic and carried the show. He could do that.

Prayers and condolences to Royal's wife and family. I think it's safe to say that Neal Boortz will need that support, too.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Public Strongly Opposes Raising the Debt Ceiling

A Reuters/Ipsos poll found little public support for a debt ceiling increase:
The U.S. public overwhelmingly opposes raising the country's debt limit even though failure to do so could hurt America's international standing and push up borrowing costs, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Wednesday.

Some 71 percent of those surveyed oppose increasing the borrowing authority, the focus of a brewing political battle over federal spending.
It looks like Speaker John Boehner (R) will have the support he needs to hold the line on the debt ceiling.

Together We Thrive?

Michelle Malkin nails it when she asks the simplest question: "In the spirit of unity and thriving, will all the prog cities and counties that declared economic war on Arizona over SB1070 repeal their boycotts now?"

On her site, Malkin lists the cities boycotting Arizona. If you're a Tea Partier in one of those cities, you should ask your elected representatives or mayor if they'll be taking action to repeal their boycott or if they're anti-thriving.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

CINO = Conservative In Name Only?

Brooks Bayne of The Graph on Speaker Boehner’s Endorsement Of Maria Cino For RNC Chair:
I look at Boehner’s endorsement of Cino for RNC chair with disdain. Why? It’s been reported that Cino worked as an Obamacare lobbyist for Pfizer. When I sent an email to the Teapartiers listserv about Boehner’s endorsement, people weren’t thrilled. “I’m beyond disappointed. Are they wanting to change direction or not? This sure as hell isn’t doing it,” one responder said.

Would any Teapartier want someone in GOP leadership who lobbied for a law that contains the individual mandate, additional spending, and more government control? No. Even though some of us Teapartiers aren’t registered Republicans, we realize that the GOP is one of the vehicles America currently has to fight the spread of leftism. And until such time that the Tea Party decides to do it’s own thing, we’ll continue to speak up and hold Republicans accountable when they get too cozy with spending, growing government, or deviating from America’s First Principles.

CINO = Conservative In Name Only? You decide. Speaker Boehner, what say you?
Missouri's own Ann Wagner is also in the running for RNC chair. Multiple ballots are cast until a candidate has a majority of the 168 votes to be had in the election, so it's an insiders game.

Sara Palin shares her condolences on the Tucson Arizona shooting

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Bernie Sanders Extorts Blood Money

The Weekly Standard is reporting that Bernie Sanders (S-VT) is profiteering off of the Arizona shooting:
This afternoon Sanders sent out a fundraising appeal, seeking to raise money to fight Republicans and other “right-wing reactionaries” responsible for the climate that led to the shooting.
Don't confuse that ch-ching you hear with the sound of spent casings hitting the pavement outside a Safeway in Arizona. The two are only related in Bernie Sanders fundraising letter.

Robin Carnahan Needs a Search Committee

Official photo of Missouri Secretary of State ...Image via Wikipedia
Roll Call reports that Missouri's Robin Carnahan has asked the FCC about a legal defense fund:
Carnahan’s campaign recently asked the Federal Election Commission whether she could set up a legal expense fund to defend herself against a lawsuit brought by Fox News and the host of “Fox News Sunday,” Chris Wallace.
What she really needs is a search committee to help her find the million Missouri voters that she misplaced between her 2008 win (1.7 million votes) and her 2010 loss (0.7 million votes). Maybe there was a massive Dem die-off in the Show Me State, but we already know that death wont get you off the voter rolls in Missouri with our current Secretary of State, so it has to be something else.

Nothing Sacred - Dennis Prager - National Review Online

In National Review, Dennis Prager writes that nothing's sacred to the left:
That is why we must to treat the Constitution as a sacred text. Because the bottom line is this: If it is not regarded as sacred, it is nothing more than what anyone believes about any social issue. Which is precisely what the Left wants it to be — providing, of course, that the “anyone” is a liberal.
For the Left, there are no sacred texts. There are only sacred (liberal) feelings.
I found that ending disappointing. It seems as though Prager is unfamiliar with the work of Mircea Eliade, The Sacred and The Profane. In that book, Eliade develops the idea of the dichotomy of that which is sacred, like the Bible and the Constitution in Prager's post, and everything else. The sacred contrasts with the profane: the not-sacred stuff in the world, or what we would typically call common or everyday things. I think Prager should strike his last sentence and replace it with: "There is only the profane."

In discarding religion, the left discards the sacred and they are left with nothing but the profane.

Glenn Beck reads Sarah Palin's Letter on Tucson Shooting

Glenn Beck Channels Sarah Palin on Tucson Shooting:
Mr. Beck then read part of Ms. Palin’s response to his note. “I hate violence. I hate war,” she wrote, according to Mr. Beck. “Our children will not have peace if politicos just capitalize on this to succeed in portraying anyone as inciting terror and violence. Thanks for all you do to send the message of truth and love and God as the answer.”
And thank you, Sarah, for your grace.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Ten Years, Ten Increases to the Debt Limit

I'm noticing a pattern here:
In the last decade, Congress raised the debt limit ten times. This data provides evidence that the debt limit, far from providing its intended fiscal discipline, has recently served as a symbolic cap which Congress will push higher and higher as spending increases dictate.
So, other than political cover, does the debt limit serve any purpose?

The GOP's Future Looks Bright

Jay Cost observes that the GOP has a majority... if they can keep it:
The GOP surge depended on the consolidation of the Bush vote; districts that had been splitting their ballots​—​voting for Republican presidents and Democratic congressmen​—​stopped doing so in 2010. Thus, most Republican gains last year came in areas where the party has been strong for some time. In the 66 districts the GOP won from the Democrats, George W. Bush carried on average 55 percent of the presidential vote in 2004. Even John McCain carried an average of 51 percent of the vote in those same districts in 2008. This suggests that, unlike in 1946, the GOP sweep in 2010 will have staying power, even if President Obama should be reelected. To hold their majority in 2012, House Republicans will basically have to defend their home turf.
The Republicans have been known to seize defeat out of the jaws of victory, don't get cocky.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Revisiting Greg Mankiw and the Unit Root Hypothesis

I saw the graph above at American Thinker and realized that it was time to revisit a hypothesis of my favorite Keynesian economist: Greg Mankiw. First, here's what I see in the graph above. You've got the economy, pre-2008 adding about a million jobs a year. Then the economy sheds jobs from about 2008 to 2010. Finally, it looks like 2010 saw the addition of about a million employees with a little bump tapering out that represents hiring temporary workers for the census.

On March 3rd, 2009, Greg Mankiw blogged Team Obama and the Unit Root Hypothesis. Mankiw's post was inspired by the following in the CEA's forecast analysis:
a key fact is that recessions are followed by rebounds. Indeed, if periods of lower-than-normal growth were not followed by periods of higher-than-normal growth, the unemployment rate would never return to normal.
Mankiw's summary follows:
That is, according to the CEA, because we are now experiencing below-average growth, we should raise our growth forecast in the future to put the economy back on trend in the long run. In the language of time-series econometrics, the CEA is premising its forecast on the economy being trend stationary.
In other words, the assumptions of the Obama administration as it took office were that after the economic downturn the economy would return to pre-recession levels. I should note that the original debate focused on GDP, while the graph above is one of employment. Mankiw cites a paper that he co-authored that disputes this view and introduces the unit root hypothesis:
According to the conventional view of the business cycle, fluctuations in output represent temporary deviations from trend. The purpose of this paper is to question this conventional view. If fluctuations in output are dominated by temporary deviations from the natural rate of output, then an unexpected change in output today should not substantially change one's forecast of output in, say, five or ten years. Our examination of quarterly postwar United States data leads us to be skeptical about this implication. The data suggest that an unexpected change in real GNP of 1 percent should change one's forecast by over 1 percent over a long horizon.
Wikipedia notes the debate and provides a wonderful graph to illustrate it with the following explanation:
The diagram above depicts an example of a potential unit root. The red line represents an observed drop in output. Green shows the path of recovery if the series has a unit root. Blue shows the recovery if there is no unit root and the series is trend stationary. The blue line returns to meet and follow the dashed trend line while the green line remains permanently below the trend. The unit root hypothesis also holds that a spike in output will lead to levels of output higher than the past trend.
In other words, Delong and Krugman argue for the blue line while Mankiw is suggesting the green. Another caveat: to the extent that there's any recovery, it's only a year old and everyone in the debate at the time (including Paul Krugman and Brad Delong) was looking at longer time horizons. It's too early to say whether there's been a permanent net loss of 10 million jobs—if the 2006 to 2008 trend had continued to 2010, then there would've been about 140 million workers instead of 130 million.

Missouri Democrat Party Leader Reflects on 2010 Breakdown

Missouri Record is reporting on an interview with Missouri's Democratic Party Chairwoman, Susan Montee:
In an interview with Jo Mannies, newly elected Democratic Party Chairwoman Susan Montee said, 'This year was really a breakdown in messaging.... We didn't talk about what makes state Democrats different from national Democrats or California Democrats.'
If Montee believes that Democrat messaging and not their job-killing policies are to blame, then I'll raise my glass in support of another self-deluded Democrat. And if she's serious and will prevent another fundraising visit from Nancy Pelosi to her low maintenance lapdog, Russ Carnahan, then I'll raise my other glass to that, too!

It's Time to Start Taxing Non-profits

Don Surber suggests that we should start taxing non-profits. Considering that most non-profits inside the beltway lobby government, I think he makes a forceful case with this simple sentence: "I suggest we start calling these lobbying groups exactly what they are: tax-exempt lobbyists."

When States Default: Then and Now

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article titled: When States Default: 2011, Meet 1841:
Land values soared. States splurged on new programs. Then it all went bust, bringing down banks and state governments with them. This wasn't America in 2011, it was America in 1841, when a now-forgotten depression pushed eight states and a desolate territory called Florida into the unthinkable: They defaulted on debts.
History repeats itself, but things are always a little different. One difference between then and now is that back then bonds were sacrosanct. When GM's bondholders took a hair cut during the GM bailout, an example was set. That example is that bondholders need not be paid back in full. This will wreak havoc on the bond markets once sovereigns begin partially defaulting on their bond obligations. And, of course, they'll try to avoid doing this as is the case in Portugal where debt worries have driven up bond yields:
Investors are worried the government won't be able to meet its debt obligations and may need a bailout like those provided to Greece and Ireland last year.
Papering over your debt with other people's money, or, as in the case of Portugal, the money of other countries, is always the preferred option. But western countries have shown themselves unable to rein in the root cause of all of this debt: spending; therefore, I believe that they are merely deferring the day of reckoning.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Prayers for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

Gabrielle Giffords - 2009Image via Wikipedia
Horrible news today from Arizona: Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Shot By Gunman:
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head by a gunman at a public event in Tucson on Saturday. There are conflicting reports about whether she was killed.
The perpetrator has been arrested. He should be punished to the maximum extent of the law.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Rep. Giffords children, family, and friends as well as the family and friends of the other shooting victims.

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) issued the following statement:
I am horrified by the senseless attack on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and members of her staff. An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve. Acts and threats of violence against public officials have no place in our society. Our prayers are with Congresswoman Giffords, her staff, all who were injured, and their families. This is a sad day for our country.

Follow the Money on Sarah Steelman

If you'd like to find out more about Sarah Steelman, just follow the money. She poured a lot of her own money ($770,000) into her failed gubernatorial bid in 2008. She also raised $460,000 from individual donors in that cycle. Those numbers look problematic. Will she be able to raise $10+ million dollar US Senate campaign? Can she self-finance such a campaign?

Leave a comment with other fun facts from her financial disclosure statements!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Democrats Lost House Because of Bush

Nancy Pelosi (D-SF) on why the Democrats lost the House in November: "We still would have lost the election because we had 9.5% unemployment. Let's take it where that came from. The policies of George W. Bush..." I'd hate to see an end to this sort of Bush Derangement Syndrome, so I hope former President George W. Bush considers a run for the House in 2012.

December Unemployment

Bureau of Labor Statistics logo RGB colors.Image via Wikipedia
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has released the monthly Employment Situation Report (link will break in a month). Here are some interesting quotes from it:
  • "...nonfarm payroll employment increased by 103,000, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today"
  • "The civilian labor force participation rate edged down in December to 64.3 percent"
Got that? 100k jobs were created in December, but the labor force participation rate edged down. Here's another quote from the report: "Among the marginally attached, there were 1.3 million discouraged workers in December, an increase of 389,000 from December 2009."

Ex-CIA Agent Arrested in St. Louis for Divulging Secrets

Ex-CIA agent Jeffery Sterling stands accused of sharing state secrets:
Jeffrey Sterling, 43, who now works as a senior investigator in St. Louis for health insurance giant Wellpoint Inc., was indicted Dec. 22 on 10 counts related to obstructing justice and disclosing national security information.
Part of the back story is that Sterling filed a discrimination lawsuit against the CIA in 2001:
Sterling joined the CIA in 1993 and two years later became a case officer in the Iran Task Force. (He was the only black among its more than 20 professionals.) To prepare, he spent a year studying Farsi, the language of Iran. Sent to Bonn in 1997 to recruit Iranians as agents, he grew frustrated when he wasn't given new prospects to recruit. Perplexed, he returned to Langley and confronted his supervisors. "I asked why I wasn't receiving any assignments. They said, "Well, you kind of stick out as a big black guy,'" Sterling recalls. "They said, 'You bring unwanted attention to where you're assigned.' Everyone in management agreed I was too conspicuous. And I said, 'Well, when did you realize that I was black?'"
Interesting. I wonder if we'll ever know enough to make an assessment of his guilt or innocence.

Sarah Steelman meets the St. Louis Tea Party

Sarah Steelman, the only candidate that has announced her plans to run for US Senate on the GOP ticket, was in St. Louis Thursday evening to meet with St. Louis Tea Party leaders. She took questions and listened to our concerns. I'm optimistic that our meeting tonight will inform her decisions as she crafts the policy platform for her 2012 race against Claire McCaskill (D-MO).

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Republicans End Global Warming Committee

The UK's Guardian reports that House Republicans have closed down Nancy Pelosi's (D-SF) global warming committee:
The Select Committee for Energy Independence and Global Warming, created by Nancy Pelosi in 2006, has been shuttered under the new Republican leadership. In the final days of the committee, staffers released a report on what the committee accomplished in its brief tenure – an epitaph of sorts.
And the optimistic view from the epitaph:
Someday, our children and grandchildren will look back on the record of the Select Committee. That record will reflect a respectful and rigorous debate and an unprecedented understanding of the challenges before us. Whether or not they will see that this generation has taken the bold action required by these challenges remains to be seen.
Unless, of course, the politicization of the environment was orchestrated by Liberals and Progressives and their dire predictions continue to turn out other than predicted. In that case, the final report will be read for its entertainment value as generations hence look back upon the Select Committee for Energy Independence and Global Warming as the 21st Century's first foray into phrenology.

Study Showing Link between Vaccines and Autism was 'Elaborate Fraud'

Measles incidence England&Wales 1940-2007Image via Wikipedia
British journal finds retracted autism study an 'elaborate fraud':
An investigation published by the British medical journal BMJ concludes the study's author, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, misrepresented or altered the medical histories of all 12 of the patients whose cases formed the basis of the 1998 study -- and that there was 'no doubt' Wakefield was responsible.

'It's one thing to have a bad study, a study full of error, and for the authors then to admit that they made errors,' Fiona Godlee, BMJ's editor-in-chief, told CNN. 'But in this case, we have a very different picture of what seems to be a deliberate attempt to create an impression that there was a link by falsifying the data.'
 Wikipedia adds some interesting tidbits about Andrew Wakefield's professional misconduct:
Between July 2007 and May 2010, a 217-day 'fitness to practise' hearing of the UK General Medical Council examined charges of professional misconduct against Wakefield and two colleagues involved in the Lancet paper.[55][56] The charges included that he:
  • Was being paid to conduct the study by solicitors representing parents who believed their children had been harmed by MMR, and failed to disclose this in his application to the Ethical Practices Sub-Committee of the Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust.[22]
  • Ordered investigations 'without the requisite paediatric qualifications'.
  • Acted 'dishonestly and irresponsibly' in failing to disclose how patients were recruited for the study, and that some were paid to take part.
  • Caused to be performed colonoscopies, colon biopsies and lumbar punctures ('spinal taps') on his research subjects without proper approval and contrary to the children's clinical interests, when these diagnostic tests were not indicated by the children's symptoms or medical history.
  • Conducted the study on a basis which was not approved by the hospital's ethics committee.
  • Purchased blood samples - for £5 each - from children present at his son's birthday party, as described by Wakefield himself in a videotaped public conference.
While I do not agree with parents that refuse to have their children vaccinated, I do support their right to make that decision. The healthcare debate has highlighted the encroachment of government into patient autonomy. Obamacare would trample that autonomy and much of the nannystatism behind universal childhood vaccinations is a forerunner to that trampling. The compromise that I would like to see in the debate over childhood vaccinations is that parents have the right to refuse childhood vaccines, but that health insurers are not obligated to pay healthcare costs related to a disease that could've been vaccinated against (unless, in fact, it was vaccinated against). This would lead to a secondary health insurance market where parents who refused vaccines for their children could buy insurance for small pox, measles, dengue fever, etc. That secondary market would help parents evaluate the cost of their morale vanity by putting a price on it.

No Love for Nancy

Yesterday's Democrat defection from Nancy Pelosi (D-SF) was historic:
With 19 Democrats withholding support from Nancy Pelosi for House speaker on Wednesday, it represented the largest defection from a party's speaker nominee in nearly a century.

The resistance in the Democratic Party to back now-former Speaker Pelosi (D-Calif.) in the ceremonial first vote of the 112th Congress registered higher than at any point since 1913...
I don't expect the 19 member Blue Dog Caucus to stray from the party line much in the next two years, but they certainly took the brunt of their party's losses in November and felt the need to speak out about it.

Claire McCaskill Abandons Healthcare Mandate

Incumbent Senator Claire McCaskillImage via Wikipedia
Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) walks back her commitment to Obamacare:
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), expected to face stiff competition from Republicans in the 2012 election, said she understood why the requirement was included in the reform law, but said lawmakers should find other ways to boost insurance enrollment.

“There’s other ways we can get people into the pool — I hope — other than a mandate, and we need to look at that,” McCaskill said Wednesday morning on MSNBC.
Well there's nothing like an impending election to encourage a politician to pursue policies that help them retain their taxpayer subsidized lifestyle.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Robert Gibbs to Resign

Reuters is reporting that White House press secretary Robert Gibbs will resign: "White House press secretary Robert Gibbs is leaving his position to work as an outside adviser for President Barack Obama's re-election campaign, an administration official said on Wednesday."

I'd like to wish Gibbs the best in his future endeavor. I hope the front man charged with convincing the American people of the merits President Obama's healthcare take over brings the same level of communication acumen to the President's next campaign!

House to Vote to Repeal Obamacare

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Mark Meckler of the Tea Party Patriots is backing the House vote to repeal Obamacare:
The House vote next week to repeal last year’s health-care overhaul might be symbolic, but the national coordinator for one of the most prominent tea party groups says it is an important gesture to conservative activists.

“Sometimes the battle is won by defining the conflict and drawing that line,” Mark Meckler, co-founder of Tea Party Patriots, said in an interview with Washington Wire. “People will remember this vote.”

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Bill Hennessy to Address The Discussion Club

I was just emailed this press release from the St. Louis Tea Party:
January 4, 2011

Bill Hennessy to Address The Discussion Club

St. Louis, MO- St Louis Tea Party Coalition Co-Founder Bill Hennessy has been given the distinction as the next speaker for The Discussion Club. On January 13, 2011, Bill will begin the discussion on the future of the Tea Party at 7pm at the Hilton Frontenac.

Mr Hennessy follows a long line of highly respected rhetorical giants in his appearance at this monthly gathering. The Discussion Club is a non-profit, non-political organization which welcomes members of all walks of life. It’s purpose is to promote discussion to bring about greater understanding on all issues presented. This organization has been running in St. Louis, Missouri for over 50 years.

The evening begins at 6:30pm with an informal mixer, followed by dinner from 7-8pm. At 8 pm, Mr Hennessy will address the attendees on the future both the St. Louis Tea Party Coalition, and the future of the Tea Party Movement. After Hennessy’s initial address, the floor will be open for discussion.

The Hilton Frontenac is located at Highway 40 and Lindbergh Blvd. The cost for the event is $37 per person, which includes dinner.

Interested parties must RSVP for the event no later than January 11, 2010 by calling 314-416-7722. For further information on this event, or to learn more about the St Louis Tea Party Coalition, visit

House Democrat Leadership

Heath Shuler (D-NC) plans a symbolic challenge to Nancy Pelosi (D-CA):
Rep. Heath Shuler plans to vote for himself rather than Rep. Nancy Pelosi during Wednesday’s floor vote for Speaker, and he predicted Monday that Democratic colleagues who are similarly displeased with her past leadership as Speaker would back him as well.
Unfortunately for Shuler, his "Democratic colleagues who are similarly displeased with" Nancy Pelosi lost their jobs this past November. House Democrats have trended further left as they increasingly represent urban areas that don't have to secure the votes of moderate Democrats.

Census Proves that Americans Like Lower Taxes

Over the past ten years, Americans voted with their feet as they left states with high taxes and moved to states with lower taxes (h/t Greg Mankiw):
...growth tends to be stronger where taxes are lower. Seven of the nine states that do not levy an income tax grew faster than the national average. The other two, South Dakota and New Hampshire, had the fastest growth in their regions, the Midwest and New England.
Clearly, lowering taxes is pro-growth.

Repealing Obamacare

Michelle Malkin blogs about Obamacare repeal:
The House Republicans have announced their plans to put the Obamacare repeal up for a vote during the week of January 10, 2011. This evening they posted the text of the proposed legislation to the GOP House Committee on Rules website.
This has caused Senate Dems warn Boehner: Don't bother with healthcare repeal:
The Senate's top Democrats, led by Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.), wrote incoming House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Monday warning the new GOP House against advancing legislation that would undo the sweeping healthcare overhaul.

"The incoming House Republican majority that you lead has made the repeal of the federal health care law one of its chief goals. We urge you to consider the unintended consequences that the law’s repeal would have on a number of popular consumer protections that help middle class Americans," the Democrats said.
Unintended consequences!? Anything that John Boehner does that has the consequence of Senate Democrats writing whiny, pointless letters is something Boehner should be doing more of. How about some legislation to repeal Earth Day?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Video from Ed Martin's Open House

Here's a short video from Ed Martin's Open House yesterday.


Republican Trend

Rasmussen Reports finds a Republican trend: "It’s the second straight month that Rasmussen Reports polling has found more people identifying as Republicans than Democrats. Prior to November, that had never happened before." With self identified Republicans up to 37% there appears to be a conservative resurgence.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Ed Martin Open House

Ed Martin held an open house in south St. Louis county Sunday afternoon to thank his campaign volunteers, tea partiers, and other supporters. Close to four hundred people attended the event.