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Monday, May 24, 2010

Misstating Risk on 60 Minutes

Posted by: Andrew Langer on Monday, May 24, 2010 at 2:35:06 pm Comments (0)

Last night, 60 Minutes aired a broadcast on the plastic chemicals known as phthalates.


A large portion of the broadcast featured an interview with Dr. Shanna Swan, a biostatistician and Professor at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. Swan has made a career seeking to demonstrate phthalates may be harmful. But in spite of her efforts, she has never found a direct correlation between phthalate exposure and the reproductive effects she claims. Moreover, none of her research has been reproduced or validated by the scientific community. STATS Trevor Butterworth recently published a piece on Forbes.com exposing the problems with Swan’s research and lack of credibility. As demonstrated by the Daubert ruling, Swan’s expert testimony has been dismissed by the courts because her studies were not “generally accepted” in the scientific community.

 

In the interview, Swan even admitted that her research does not offer conclusive evidence that phthalates are harmful. However, she continues to push out her message of fear to the media. Phthalates have become another victim of scare tactic propaganda, often perpetuated by activists like Swan and various special interest groups. The media picks up on these headlines and eventually you have frightened parents throwing out all plastic toys for no reason. A panic mode sets in, which can result in overreaction by individuals and our government.

 

Congress pushed the panic button when they passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). This law was passed in response to the lead scares which surfaced during the Christmas shopping season of 2007. However, in an effort to protect children from harmful products, Congress overreached and passed a sweeping law with regulations on many products which do not pose a threat—including a temporary “precautionary” ban on certain phthalates used in toys

 

Rather than protect consumers, these regulations have wasted millions of dollars in inventory for businesses, and ultimately increased the risks consumer products pose to children by requiring the use of less-studied alternative chemicals.

 

Sensational and baseless claims— like the ones prorogated by Swan in last night’s 60 Minutes broadcast—can have far-reaching consequences for consumers and businesses.
The facts in this case on phthalates are made clear by the scientific evidence which demonstrates that human exposure to phthalates is safe. To suggest otherwise is simply irresponsible.



Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Elena Kagan's Supreme Court Nomination is Stalling

Posted by: Peter Roff on Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 4:56:36 pm Comments (0)

By now the White House must realize that its selection of U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan to be the next associate justice of the United States Supreme Court could be going better. Kagan, the former dean of the prestigious Harvard Law School, has spent the past week introducing herself to members of the U.S. Senate, but has yet to see the American people embrace her nomination--which may be an early indication that her hopes for confirmation may be headed to the rocks.
...continue reading.

The Tea Party's Test for Elena Kagan and the Supreme Court

Posted by: Peter Roff on Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 4:52:24 pm Comments (0)

Since its inception the Tea Party movement has been met with considerable criticism from those who are opposed to its goals.
Flowing freely from the pens of some of the nation’s most prominent columnists are charges that it is too narrowly focused, that it lacks depth, that it is unrepresentative of the mainstream, or that it represents the darker side of the American character. One of them, writer and former Crossfire co-host Michael Kinsley has penned an essay in which he complains that Tea Party activists are, in contrast to the altruism of the anti-war demonstrators of the 1960s, “mostly self-interested.”
“They lack poetry: cut my taxes; don’t let the government mess with my Medicare; and so on,” Kinsley wrote on the website of The Atlantic magazine. “There is a nasty, sour, vindictive tone to the Tea Party that certainly existed in the antiwar movement and its offspring, but never dominated the atmosphere created by these groups. “
As usual, he’s missed the bus. Kinsley understates the radicalism of the '60s-era movement and its offspring, which seized buildings on college campuses, blew up others, caused riots in places like Chicago, and attacked police officers, among other less-than-altruistic deeds.
At the same time he overstates the threats posed by the Tea Party movement which is, after all, an almost exclusively peaceful protest. It is, in reality, a popular uprising dedicated to taking power back from a group of elites--most clearly but not exclusively represented by President Barack Obama and those who populate his administration--who seek to upend the cultural values and economic system that has made America a powerful force for good in the world. The Tea Parties are demanding from politicians in both parties a kind of accountability that has been lacking in the national government for some time....continue reading. 
 

2010 Census, State Elections Could Map a New Republican Majority

Posted by: Peter Roff on Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 4:46:43 pm Comments (0)

Most political forecasters are now looking seriously at the possibility that Republicans will win back control of Congress this year. They are seeing the forest but not the trees. The real battle to determine the nation's political alignment for at least the next decade is happening down ballot and below the radar.
By law, the results of the 2010 census will lead to a reshuffling of the seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.  And this year's elections will in many cases determine who will have the authority to draw each state's new congressional map, which, in turn, will shape the political battlefield until the next census in 2020. Both parties are girding for the fight, but the GOP is poised to emerge with its strongest hand in decades. Here's why:
... Keep Reading ...

On U.S. News - now Elena Kagan Reverses Course on Supreme Court Nominee Testimony

Posted by: Peter Roff on Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 4:44:43 pm Comments (0)

So much for the “Kagan Standard.” Our nation’s newest Supreme Court nominee has already reversed herself.
Back in 1995, as written here previously, Kagan wrote of her belief that nominees to the nation’s highest court should have to answer questions about “the votes she would cast, the perspective she would add (or augment), and the direction in which she would move the institution.”
Now that she herself has been nominated it is being pointed out that she no longer believes what she wrote. As reported by the Daily Caller, an Internet-based publication, a senior White House aide is reminding people that Kagan has changed her mind.
...continue reading. 
 

Elena Kagan is the Ultimate Stealth Nominee to the Supreme Court

Posted by: Peter Roff on Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 4:42:56 pm Comments (0)

In U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan, President Barack Obama has found the ultimate stealth nominee. Typically, the judicial confirmation process for those selected for the U.S. Supreme Court consists of an examination of a nominee’s prior legal decisions, speeches, articles written for prominent legal journals, and other examples, presumably, of their thinking about the law and the U.S. Constitution.
Kagan, the former dean of the Harvard Law School, is a policy wonk and an academic with very little practical legal experience. As a result, the record available for examination is very thin.
...continue reading. 
 

First Democratic Defection From Nancy Pelosi?

Posted by: Peter Roff on Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 4:38:14 pm Comments (0)

Given the depths to which the public’s feelings about Congress has sunk, it was only a matter of time before a Democrat running for Congress determined it would be a good idea to separate himself from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. West Virginia State Sen. Mike Oliverio, who hopes to unseat veteran Rep. Alan Mollohan in the May 11 Democratic primary, said this week that he hoped “there will be a better candidate than Nancy Pelosi” running for the speakership when the House votes to organize itself next January.
...continue reading.

Poll: Independent Voters Deserting the Democrats in Droves

Posted by: Peter Roff on Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 4:34:39 pm Comments (0)

There are a number of interesting things about Resurgent Republic’s one-year anniversary poll, conducted at the end of April among 1,000 registered voters nationwide, but none more so than the clear evidence it provides that independent voters are deserting the Democrats in droves.
By a margin of better than 2 to 1, self-identified independents agreed that an increase in the number of Republicans in Congress is necessary in order to bring about “a check and balance on runaway Washington government.” Independents also agreed that the country is on “the wrong track” by a 65 to 25 percent margin.
Most surveys, including this one from Resurgent Republic, show the GOP electorate approaches the upcoming election with much greater intensity than the Democrats. Sixty-four percent of Republicans now say they are “absolutely certain to vote” in November.
...continue reading. 
 

On Citizens United, Democrats Demagogue Free Speech

Posted by: Peter Roff on Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 4:19:22 pm Comments (0)

The Democrats appear to be so afraid of free speech, applied equally in the political arena that they have taken to—let’s be charitable—misstating the facts about the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in the Citizens’ United case. Case in point is the assertion, which President Barack Obama himself made in his most recent State of the Union address, that the court’s ruling in Citizens’ United would “open the floodgates for special interests--including foreign corporations--to spend without limit in our elections.”
The idea that foreign interests might subvert the nation’s independence by interfering in the U.S. electoral process is a concern almost as old as the nation itself. It’s one reason the Founding Fathers included in Article II of the U.S. Constitution the provision that “No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President.”
As applied to the Citizens United decision, the idea that foreign dollars are suddenly going to pour into U.S. campaigns is big lie No. 1. Nevertheless, as my bloleague Linda Killian wrote here Saturday, the Democrats have made a prohibition against it the centerpiece of their legislative proposal to overturn the court’s decision. Such a move is unnecessary and demagogic.
...continue reading.

Democrat Hypocrisy on Abortion, Privacy Rights

Posted by: Peter Roff on Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 4:08:29 pm Comments (0)

No one can ever accuse the government of being consistent. In fact, as two recent developments in different states suggest, it seems these days that the focus is far much more on the ends rather than on the means.
In one case, New York Assemblyman Richard Brodsky--who wants to be attorney general--wants to force every resident of the state to become an organ donor. In another, the Oklahoma Legislature has enacted, over Gov. Brad Henry’s veto, a new law that requires women seeking abortions to first undergo an ultra-sound.
Democrats are, as might be expected, up in arms over the Oklahoma measure, arguing that it violates a woman’s right to privacy. They are, however, strangely silent over what Brodsky--who is also a Democrat--wants to do, as though somehow the harvesting of a person’s organs, without their explicit pre-mortem consent and possibly over the objection of family members, is not.
...continue reading. 
 

Obama, Democrats Using Arizona Law to Demagogue Immigration

Posted by: Unknown on Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 3:46:08 pm Comments (0)

Washington is continuing to play ping-pong with the immigration issue. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who needs at least the lion’s share of the votes to be cast by Nevada’s Hispanic community if he hopes to be re-elected this November, is trying to push a bill. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi won’t commit to doing anything about immigration unless and until the Senate acts first. And President Barack Obama stands there, wagging a disapproving finger at anyone who tries to address the problem.
The president and Congress’s Democratic leaders have ignored the issue up to now. Suddenly, they have a renewed interest in it--because a new Arizona law gives them the chance to demagogue on it.
The law says “For any lawful contact made by a law enforcement official or agency of this state ... where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States, a reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of the person.”
They think, because this law--as I wrote yesterday--gives local law enforcement officials the power to detain suspected illegal immigrants they can drive a wedge between Hispanic voters and the GOP by conjuring up the idea it is some kind of near-fascism. But, as my friend Rich Lowry explains at National Review Online, there’s a lot of hyperbole going on.
...continue reading. 
 
 

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Why Democrats Fear the Tea Party Movement

Posted by: Peter Roff on Wednesday, April 14, 2010 at 9:22:47 am Comments (0)

Outside certain broad parameters, the Tea Party Movement remains something of a mystery, at least to the media.
It has its positive aspects--for example the incredible level of self-education it is producing about the U.S. Constitution, the Federalist Papers, other founding documents and the political process itself. It also, admittedly, has less flattering components, like those who seem to find their way in front of the television cameras who are relentlessly negative, focused on ephemera or are just plain angry.
Either way it is clear it is a force to be reckoned with, at least for this political cycle. It is also clear that the established order, the dominant liberal, Democratic establishment currently in power is afraid of it, but not so much because they do not understand it as because they do.
...continue reading.

N.J. Union Should Know Better Than to Publicly Wish for Gov. Chris Christie's Death

Posted by: Peter Roff on Wednesday, April 14, 2010 at 9:17:18 am Comments (0)

It's one thing when an individual idiot shouts bad words or issues threats against political figures. It's something else entirely when those threats, even by implication, come from an organization that should know better. And it's far more serious, especially when there is no dispute about what occurred. The CBS affiliate in New York City reports the Bergen County, N.J. Education Association recently sent out a memo that included a hint it would like to see Republican Gov. Chris Christie--who is trying to get the union to agree to wage and benefit concessions that may keep the state from bankruptcy--dead. From the memo:
"Dear Lord this year you have taken away my favorite actor, Patrick Swayze, my favorite actress, Farrah Fawcett, my favorite singer, Michael Jackson, and my favorite salesman, Billy Mays. I just wanted to let you know that Chris Christie is my favorite governor."
To her credit, the president of the New Jersey Education Association, Barbara Keshishian, denounced the memo in strong terms, saying "Language such as that has no place in civil discourse," and apologized to Christie for both the message's content and for "the lack of respect it demonstrated."
...continue reading.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Is the Government Out to Get Toyota?

Posted by: Peter Roff on Monday, April 12, 2010 at 8:52:38 am Comments (0)

It may just be that U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood forgets to engage his brain before he puts his mouth in gear. Either that or he is deliberately trying to make it harder for Toyota to maintain its share of the American automobile market.
Right now, thanks to the way the media has hyped the story, it would be hard to blame a consumer who questioned the overall safety of Toyota's passenger car fleet. LaHood has not helped matters, missing wherever he can the opportunity to calm the fears of the American public.
Back in February, he raised more than a few eyebrows when he suggested the proper response for anyone concerned about the safety of Toyotas was to "stop driving" them, a comment he was later to retract as an embarrassing misstatement. Now LaHood, who has just announced the Japanese automaker faces a record $16.4 million fine, is accusing the company of being "safety deaf" and says he would not be surprised if further reviews of internal company documents find additional problems with the vehicle fleet.
...continue reading.

IFL on phthalates portion of the Time piece on chemicals

Posted by: Unknown on Monday, April 12, 2010 at 8:31:32 am Comments (0)

A few months ago, I wrote on the dangers of great news headlines making for bad government policy, especially when it comes to technical scientific matters.  Well, it appears the hype is back.

Today, Time Online compiled a list of “Household Dangers,” that inferred a class of chemicals, known as phthalates, could be linked to a variety of health effects and developmental problems in children.  While the article is correct in its description of phthalates as, “a class of chemicals used to soften polyvinyl chloride plastics, found in products ranging from shower curtains to cosmetics to intravenous-fluid bags,” that’s pretty much all Time was right about.

While the author was correct that phthalates is a class of chemicals he didn’t explain what this means. This class of chemicals covers a broad product range with different toxicology profiles. While some animal testing has shown that high levels of exposure to some phthalates may cause some concern in rodents, other common phthalates have received a clean bill of health by many top government agencies.  In fact, the phthalates used most widely in consumer products have undergone decades of review by independent scientists and numerous government agencies have proven over and over again that these phthalates pose no measurable risk to humans. The Consumer Product Safety Commission, the National Toxicology Program, the Center for Disease Control, and a variety of other independent institutions around the world, have all extensively reviewed the phthalates used in toys for example, and determined them to be safe.  

The difference between these sound scientific studies and Time’s article is sensational packaging.  Time combines catchy phrases like “perilous plastics” with compelling graphics and the highly controversial work of Dr. Shanna Swan to paint everyday objects as dangerous poisons lurking all around your house.  The result is that individuals and our government panic – without stepping back to fully evaluate the validity of these claims, and the implications of a knee jerk overreaction.

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), a law passed by Congress in 2008 to address the safety of consumer products as exhibit A.  This well intentioned legislation place a temporary “precautionary” ban on commonly used phthalates that had already been reviewed and approved by the government commission responsible for oversight of consumer products.  Rather than protect consumers, this ban wasted millions of dollars in inventory for businesses, and ultimately increased the risks consumer products posed to children by requiring the use of largely unstudied alternative chemicals, that lack the proven safety record of the phthalates most commonly used in toys.  In fact, none of the alternatives that have replaced the temporarily banned phthalates have been risk assessed by a U.S. government agency.

As I’ve said before, “in dealing with complicated scientific analyses, emotion and bias must be removed from the equation; science is, after all, about demonstrable facts.”  Time has done a serious disservice to its readers by carefully selecting the “facts” that produce the best headlines.  The reality is that the half truths, sensational theories, and fear-inducing headlines in that copy of Time on your table are the real peril lurking in your home.

 

Here is a link to the phthalates portion of the Time piece on chemicals:

http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1976909_1976895_1976900,00.html

 

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Tax Hikes Hurt Republicans--Just Ask Utah Governor Gary Herbert

Posted by: Peter Roff on Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 12:36:09 pm Comments (0)

It is nearly axiomatic that a Republican who backs a tax increase is headed for a rough ride. Everyone remembers how President George Herbert Walker Bush, who won the White House in 1988 by making a strong anti-tax pledge to the American electorate, lost the confidence of the voters—and his bid for re-election—when he went back on his word. Nevertheless, the temptation to raise taxes, especially when political advisers come up with a way to spin them as "necessary," is sometimes too much to resist. Even in the current political environment.
The Obama recession left a lot of economic holes the stimulus package could not fill. This put more than a few governors of both parties in the position of finding ways to at least make them smaller—either by cutting spending or by drumming up new revenues. Some, like New Jersey's new Republican Gov. Chris Christie, chose to take a hard line on spending and to confront the public employee unions whose contracts have driven the state close to bankruptcy. Others, like Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, chose to make a "deal with the devil," sacrificing principle in the name of political and economic expediency.
In what some are calling "a late-night, behind-closed-doors deal," Herbert recently put his signature on legislation that increased the state's tobacco tax, provoking the ire of the Tea Party movement and putting the governor's re-election bid in jeopardy.
...continue reading. 
 

Heritage Foundation Rips Obama's Healthcare Claim

Posted by: Peter Roff on Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 10:13:58 am Comments (0)

Now that the healthcare bill has passed, President Barack Obama is engaged in the arduous task of selling it to the American people.
It's a tough job. In the latest Rasmussen poll, 54 percent of likely voters favor outright repeal of the new law as opposed to 42 percent who say they support it. According to pollster Scott Rasmussen, the numbers are "virtually unchanged from last week and the week before" and include 43 percent who strongly favor repeal versus 32 percent who strongly oppose it.
Against this background, Obama is trying to present the new law as a moderate compromise. And he's being watched like a hawk while he does it.
Today, the Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based conservative think tank, issued a broadside complaining that, in an interview with NBC's Matt Lauer, Obama had distorted its position on healthcare reform in an effort to show the plan had wider support than it actually enjoys....continue reading.

After Healthcare, an Easier Road Ahead for President Obama

Posted by: Peter Roff on Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 9:10:35 am Comments (0)

Rather than a victory lap on healthcare, the White House is signaling that President Barack Obama will immediately plunge back into they fray. A surprise trip a la George W. Bush to Afghanistan to visit the troops and an arms reduction agreement having burnished his national security credentials, he is now ready, his closest advisers say, to turn his attention to the rest of his domestic policy agenda.
"An emboldened President Barack Obama will take a stronger hand with Congress in coming weeks, planning to push lawmakers to pass new regulations for Wall Street by September, the second anniversary of the meltdown," veteran Washington reporter Mike Allen wrote Sunday in Politico.
"The spring offensive, if successful, would allow Obama to claim concrete progress on all of his domestic priorities, despite a 'lost year' between the passage of a stimulus package in February 2009 and the signing of health reform last week," Allen wrote--and he's right.
...continue reading. 
 

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Statistics Show Stimulus Package Results Have Gone From Bad to Worse

Posted by: Peter Roff on Saturday, March 27, 2010 at 7:39:16 pm Comments (0)

All the attention being paid to the healthcare debate has sort of pushed the impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act--also known as the stimulus--off the front page.
It's a shame really, because the latest employment figures--real unemployment figures--show it is still failing to deliver as promised. According to a table put together last December by the Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee, payroll employment declined everywhere except for North Dakota and the District of Columbia in the nine months since the stimulus had been signed into law.
As I wrote at the time, "It is not just that the $789 billion package has not had the effect the White House promised it would; it's that it may actually have been counterproductive, actually lengthening the recession by effectively taking money out of the private economy, where it could have been used to create jobs and for investment purposes."
...continue reading.

Boehner to GOP: Focus on Jobs, Even When Talking About Healthcare

Posted by: Peter Roff on Saturday, March 27, 2010 at 3:16:29 pm Comments (0)

House Minority Leader John Boehner is urging his Republican colleagues to keep their focus on the need to create jobs--even as they talk about the just-passed healthcare law while meeting with constituents over the Easter break. In a memo, Boehner--who says President Barack Obama "abandoned our founding principle that government governs best when it governs closest to the people"--outlines a program for job creation that he says members of the GOP should talk up as they attempt to establish a meaningful contrast with the Democratic majority in Congress.
If they regain the majority as the result of the next election, Boehner says, the Republicans will fight to

...continue reading. 
 

Friday, March 26, 2010

Win Healthcare Fight With Elections, Not Threats and Violence

Posted by: Peter Roff on Friday, March 26, 2010 at 8:47:07 am Comments (0)

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is warning his Democratic colleagues that their vote in favor of healthcare reform might make them targets of violent protest when they go home for the Easter break.
Calling on the Republicans to denounce violence as a means of protest against the bill, Hoyer told reporters, “I would hope that we would join together jointly and make it very clear that none of us condone this kind of activity.”
According to Politico, the FBI, the Capitol Police, and the Office of the House Sergeant at Arms have all briefed members about violent incidents that have already occurred, including bricks that were thrown through the windows of the district office of New York Democrat Louise Slaughter and several of members who backed the Obamacare bill that is now law.
Joining him in agreement is House Minority Leader John Boehner, who said separately, “I know many Americans are angry over this healthcare bill, and that Washington Democrats just aren’t listening,” the Ohio Republican said. “But, as I’ve said, violence and threats are unacceptable. That’s not the American way. We need to take that anger and channel it into positive change. Call your congressman, go out and register people to vote, go volunteer on a political campaign, make your voice heard--but let’s do it the right way.”
...continue reading.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

On U.S. News now -- Will Stupak's Healthcare Deal Be Worth Its Socialist Price?

Posted by: Peter Roff on Thursday, March 25, 2010 at 9:36:40 am Comments (0)

After a yearlong, rancorous debate--and over the objections of the American people--the House of Representatives voted to establish a socialized healthcare system in the United States, something that has been a dream of progressives and Democrats for at least the last 60 years.
The new program, which by most measures is the largest single new entitlement program to be enacted since the New Deal, is a giant leap down the road toward making the United States a European-style social democracy in which the government, organized labor, and big business work together to reach welfare state objectives at the expense of economic growth and considerable personal liberty in the marketplace.
...continue reading.
 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Will Stupak’s Healthcare Deal Be Worth Its Socialist Price?

Posted by: Peter Roff on Tuesday, March 23, 2010 at 3:49:00 pm Comments (0)

 

After a yearlong, rancorous debate--and over the objections of the American people--the House of Representatives voted to establish a socialized healthcare system in the United States, something that has been a dream of progressives and Democrats for at least the last 60 years.
The new program, which by most measures is the largest single new entitlement program to be enacted since the New Deal, is a giant leap down the road toward making the United States a European-style social democracy in which the government, organized labor, and big business work together to reach welfare state objectives at the expense of economic growth and considerable personal liberty in the marketplace.
...continue reading.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Pelosi was Against ‘Deem and Pass’ Before She Was For It

Posted by: Peter Roff on Monday, March 22, 2010 at 12:39:37 pm Comments (0)

Signaling her growing desperation, Nancy Pelosi said Monday that a Rules Committee scheme to "deem" the healthcare bill as having passed the House without being voted on had won her support. "I like it," the speaker of the House told a roundtable of bloggers Monday, "because people don't have to vote on the Senate bill." For Pelosi, winning is no longer the most important thing. It has become the only thing--and apparently by any means necessary. The White House and congressional Democratic leaders like Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid talk like the changes they are proposing are wildly popular, that they have a mandate to implement them. Their behavior, by contrast, tells a different story.

Continue reading....

 

House Democrats’ Healthcare Reform Plans Are Unconstitutional

Posted by: Peter Roff on Monday, March 22, 2010 at 12:02:10 pm Comments (0)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her allies, in an effort to be clever, have overstepped their constitutional bounds. The plan they have put forward for getting Senate-passed healthcare legislation through the House is, according to one prominent constitutional scholar, “unconstitutional.” Writing in Monday’s Wall Street Journal, Michael McConnell, the former federal appellate judge who is now director of the prestigious Constitutional Law Center at Stanford Law School, explains that the path Pelosi and company have staked out to move the bill to the finish line doesn’t pass the smell test.
To become law—hence eligible for amendment via reconciliation—the Senate health-care bill must actually be signed into law. The Constitution speaks directly to how that is done. According to Article I, Section 7, in order for a “Bill” to “become a Law,” it “shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate” and be “presented to the President of the United States” for signature or veto. Unless a bill actually has “passed” both Houses, it cannot be presented to the president and cannot become a law.
...continue reading.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Pelosi: Pass Health Reform So You Can Find Out What’s In It

Posted by: Peter Roff on Wednesday, March 10, 2010 at 9:54:31 am Comments (0)

It has been said well and famously that politicians only really commit a gaffe when they tell the truth without meaning to. Add House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the list.
Speaking Tuesday to the 2010 Legislative Conference for the National Association of Counties, Pelosi began the windup of her healthcare pitch by alluding to the controversies over the healthcare bill and the process by which it has reached its current state. Then, just after saying, "It's going to be very, very exciting," Pelosi gaffed, telling the local elected officials assembled that Congress "[has] to pass the bill so you can find out what's in it, away from the fog of controversy."
...continue reading.

Senate’s Weak Abortion Language Could Kill Obama Health Reform Bill

Posted by: Peter Roff on Wednesday, March 10, 2010 at 9:50:20 am Comments (0)

Though President Barack Obama and the White House would have people believe otherwise, the anti-abortion funding provisions included in the Senate-passed version of the healthcare bill are significantly weaker than the so-called "ironclad" prohibitions that Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak added to the bill in the House. The differences matter, so much so that Stupak and a handful of colleagues--enough to kill the Senate bill if it is brought up in the House--are threatening to vote 'No' unless the language to block federal funds from paying for abortions and abortion-related services is strengthened.
They have the votes to do it. The bill only passed by the barest of margins the first time. Now, Pelosi has to find four additional "aye" votes on top of her original majority because the only Republican to vote for the bill--Louisiana's Joseph Cao--has announced his opposition while three other votes in favor have been lost due to death or resignation from Congress.
...continue reading.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Use Stimulus Money for Tax Relief

Posted by: Peter Roff on Wednesday, March 3, 2010 at 10:15:55 am Comments (0)

In the battle of ideas over the best ways to stimulate the still lagging U.S. economy, South Dakota Sen. John Thune is attempting to get to the head of the pack by proposing a series of tax incentives to help small business.
As part of the current Senate debate over the so-called "tax extenders bill," Thune has proposed a series of incentives designed to help small business invest in new capital and hire more workers.
Specifically, Thune is asking the Senate to approve language that would:
...continue reading.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Green Police are Coming

Posted by: Roger Morse on Wednesday, February 24, 2010 at 4:07:46 pm Comments (0)

During the broadcast of this year's Super Bowl, viewers were entertained by many of the expensive commercials.  One ad in particular featured during the Super Bowl envisioned how the government would monitor every aspect of your life for affronts to the environmental movement. 

The Green Police ad sponsored by Audi, brought to life brigades of eco-law enforcement officers searching residential trash cans for unsorted recyclables. 

This Garbage Gestapo arrests a variety of citizens for choosing plastic instead of paper at the grocery store; failing to sort compostable materials and recyclables from regular trash; and even sitting in a hot tub at a comfortable temperature.

This is not just a creation of science fiction writers.

The Obama Administration is using stimulus funds to implement this vision.

The city of Dayton, Ohio has received stimulus funding to distribute recycling bins to residents that are embedded with a microchip to track the recycling practices of its citizens.

According to the Dayton Daily News,

“The microchips, which use radio frequency identification technology, are installed in the bin handles. Four city waste collection trucks will be equipped to read the microchips that will be associated with specific street addresses.

A $500,000 federal stimulus grant will pay for a consultant to design a campaign promoting recycling for Dayton, the purchase of 8,500, 96-gallon recycling containers and equipping trucks to read the microchips.”

The Obama Administration's Stimulus Bill is attempting to create jobs by creating a Garbage Gestapo. The government has no business snooping in your trash.  If anything should be recycled, it should be the stimulus money used for this idea.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Bureaucrats With Plows

Posted by: Kerri Houston Toloczko on Monday, February 22, 2010 at 3:13:38 pm Comments (0)


A warning against government growth
 
Our neighborhood in Northern Virginia has private roads and we pay the nice man down the street to plow.  After the last of Snowmageddon, our roads were clear within a day.  However, many of the government owned streets in our town were still a wreck a week later.
 
The county asked people to shovel sidewalks and school bus stops, which they did.  When government plows finally appeared, they dumped snow back from whence it came, resulting in additional school closings. 
 
In response to complaints, the Virginia Department of Transportation noted, “we don’t do sidewalks.”
 
As the Constitution specifically mentions roads, snow removal is arguably one of the few legitimate roles of government.  Regardless, they stink at it. 
 
It is abundantly clear that the White House and Congressional Democrats are hell bent on expanding the size of government and increasing its intrusion into our lives.   If unchecked, government will not be accountable to us; we will be accountable to it. 
 
Happy first birthday to the “stimulus” plan.  The majority of jobs it saved (whatever that means) or created appear to be government or government-related.   Last month alone, more than 33,000 workers were added to government payroll.  They won’t be creating products or jobs.  They will be paid handsomely to manage the continued dependency or economic decisions of others. 
 
In a recent CBS/New York Times poll, only 6% of Americans thought the stimulus created jobs.  As any pollster will tell you, an answer over 90% is everybody. 
 
Americans have been disgusted to discover that much of their money went to worthless projects and political presents for Congressmen’s friends.  They also know that they will still be paying for these now firmly entrenched bureaucrats when stimulus dollars run out. 
 
Poor plowing performance in the Capital area exemplifies problems inherent in a government venture.  Although plow operators worked long, miserable hours, their hard work could not overcome the inefficiency of government and its slow reaction time.   
 
Thanks to global warming, we broke the more a hundred-something year record for snow in this area.  Dealing successfully with this unusual circumstance requires an innovative response including immediate modifications to purchasing, communication, equipment maintenance and personnel management. 
 
In other words, it would be easier to push an elephant through a keyhole. 
 
 
 
Government schools are performing poorly in some areas and not at all in others.  Government brings you the cheerful efficiency of the DMV and the accurate responses of the IRS.  And now it wants to control your healthcare and dictate your medical decisions. 
 
To expect government to make rapid adjustments under unusual circumstances or respond to the unique needs of its individual citizens, well – it is something it simply cannot do. 
 
If politicians or bureaucrats appear either on your doorstep or in your wallet with exciting new ways to manage your needs, tell them to go plow themselves.  They can take care of the enumerated powers, and we can deal with the rest.  

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