Thursday, December 30, 2010

Is Christine O'Donnell Really the Subject of a Criminal Investigation?

The answer is "no." Despite reports indicating that the U.S. Attorney and the Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating crimes of misuse of campaign funds by Christine O'Donnell, former Republican candidate for a Delaware Senate seat, there is no direct confirmation of a criminal investigation from the U.S. Attorney's Office. Ms. O'Donnell herself has said that neither her nor her attorney's have received any notification of a criminal investigation. Further, the Boston Globe reports the following:
Law enforcement sources said the inquiry by the US attorney's office in Delaware is very preliminary and has not progressed to a full-fledged criminal investigation. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because the probe is ongoing.
Essentially, the Boston Globe's report indicates that a criminal investigation targeting Ms. O'Donnell is not taking place right now.

The idea behind an investigation into Ms. O'Donnell is that she misused campaign funds to pay for person expenses, namely to pay rent for a town home she resided at. However, on CNBC's The Kudlow Report, Ms. O'Donnell explained that she actually paid her campaign money to list a town home rented to serve as a campaign office/headquarters as her legal residence following vandalism and a break-in at her own home. Since candidates for office must disclose their legal residence and address, and unlike many of the elite politicians serving in Congress Ms. O'Donnell doesn't reside on a large, gated estate with private security, Ms. O'Donnell listed the campaign's office as her legal residence for her own safety and security -- a move that was deemed okay by the Federal Elections Commission. Speaking to FOX News, Ms. O'Donnell said the following:
The current campaign rents a townhouse to use as our campaign headquarters because my personal home was vandalized, broken into, eggs thrown at it, nasty words were written on the front door. I use that townhome as my legal residency, and I pay the campaign rent in order to my legal residency. That is where the whole rent thing has been taken out of context. This has been taken totally out of context to discredit the Tea Party movement.
The American people should be glad that no criminal investigation is moving forward regarding this matter. It would be a complete waste of tax dollars to attempt to seek out impropriety that didn't take place. Yet, the left has been pressing the U.S. Attorney to investigate Ms. O'Donnell for months. If you don't believe that fact, take a look at this petition on the website of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). The petition was put online in September 2010. CREW refuses to release it's list of donors, however the organization itself admits to being on the left and has received money from far-left billionaire George Soros as well as the left-wing Service Employees International Union.

While the left has every right to oppose the Tea Party and speak against Christine O'Donnell, what they do not have the right to do is force the American people to pay for pointless criminal investigations against their political opponents. Ms. O'Donnell, well aware that she will come under personal attack as a strong conservative woman in politics, stated that she hopes the public "will see right through these thug tactics," calling them an "establishment  trick to stop the anti-establishment Tea Party movement in its tracks."

Do you see through the left's "thug tactics" against Christine O'Donnell? Whether "yes" or "no", feel free to post your comments, questions, and thoughts.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

In honor of the Federal Holiday of Christmas, we'll be taking a break from new updates until at least Sunday. We wish all of our readers and their friends and families a Merry Christmas. We especially want to thank those who are away from home for Christmas, serving the country by helping to defend freedom overseas.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Change We Can Believe In

In 2008, Barack Hussein Obama, then just a candidate for United States President put forth a "plan to renew America's promise." For $13.95, you can actually buy the book with the plan for the so-called "change we can believe in." If this was real change that America could believe in, and Mr. Obama wanted the American people to truly read and understand his agenda, it might have been a good idea to just post it to the internet where people can download and read it without paying up. After all, there was (and still is) a recession with high unemployment at the time.

The true change that the American people can believe in is the change that future Speaker of the House John Boehner wants to bring to Congress. The Ohio Republican looks to implement major changes that would provide greater transparency and accountability to Congress. Instead of selling a book about the ideas, Mr. Boehner instead tweeted about them today. Some of these amazing ideas are below:
  • Constitutional Authority Statements: Every bill would require a "constitutional authority statement" which indicates what section of the United States Constitution authorizes Congress to enact the legislation. This will ensure that Congress does not exert authority that it does not truly have. 
  • Posting All Bills and Votes Online: Three days prior to a bill being voted on, it would be posted to the internet so that the American people can read the bill with ease. This would ensure that Congress acts in a transparent manner, giving the American people at a minimum, three days to express their support or outrage over a bill that Congress is considering. There would be no more last-minute bills created behind closed doors and passed without the public having a chance to review the bill. The three day rule would also apply to committees looking at bills. Additionally, committee votes would be posted online, enabling the American people to keep their representatives in check. 
  • No Taxes Hikes to Fund Spending: While the two aforementioned rule changes will likely be acceptable to Democrats, those on the far-left won't be happy that raising taxes to pay for new spending and earmarks wouldn't be allowed. Mr. Boehner's proposal is that new spending should be offset by cuts elsewhere. This would ensure the American people would not be faced with a greater gap between government spending and government revenue each year. 
As Mr. Boehner said on 60 Minutes earlier this month, "Washington does not have a revenue problem; Washington has a spending problem." By following the Constitution, embracing transparency, and not simply hiking taxes to pay for new spending, Congress can come closer to solving its spending problems and Congress will better serve the American people.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Liberal Filmmaker

Update (December 21, 2010 @ 8:50 PM)
Moments ago on the Rachel Maddow Show, liberal filmmaker Michael Moore stated:
Every woman who claims to have been sexually assaulted has to be -- must be -- taken seriously.
Moore also said that Assange must answer to the charges against him. He avoided providing a straight answer to Maddow's question about why he posted Assange's bail, however. Our Twitter account provided some live updates as the interview aired.

Original Post
Michael Moore has been the subject of many negative Twitter posts lately for his recent comments on MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann. While one would normally expect that moderates and conservatives are the ones tweeting against the liberal filmmaker responsible for Sicko or Fahrenheit 9-11, it turns out that this time, Moore is so out of line that he's under fire from people all over the political spectrum.

What did Moore do that could anger his far-left base? He called the rape allegations against WikiLeaks' Julian Assange "all a bunch of hooey," ignoring the fact that Assange is accused of having sexually assaulted two women. The Report previously blogged about the topic, with the message that if Assange did not actually commit a rape, then he should be released. This was based on a Reuters report that indicated no actual rape occurred and that the entire thing was over getting Assange tested for sexually transmitted disease/infection. The Reuters report was taken in the context of being definitive and true. It was noted, however, that if Assange actually did rape the women in question, then he should face "arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment for life so that he never has the chance to rape another woman again."

It now appears, however, that Assange is a rapist and there are more to the charges. One woman said that she and Assange "had begun a sexual encounter using a condom, but that Mr. Assange did not comply with her appeals to stop when it was no longer in use." This would be a rape. Another woman said Assange "ignored her appeals to stop." This would also be rape.

Unlike Michael Moore, The Report takes the position that Julian Assange needs to be put on trial and the case heard so that justice can be served. The media reports are conflicting. Further, you can't find someone guilty through reading blogs and newspapers. These are serious allegations, as are any rape allegations, and must be properly investigated and tried. If Assange raped two women (or even one woman), and it can be proven in court, then he should be jailed for it. If it cannot be proven that he committed a crime, he should be released. This isn't about WikiLeaks, it is about ensuring that justice is served. Julian Assange is not a victim in this situation. While he deserves the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty, the victims here are the two women that he is accused of raping.

The #MooreAndMe hash tag on Twitter was created in order to bring awareness and protest Michael Moore and Keith Olbermann's lack of understanding of the facts and their failure to recognize that the victim in this case isn't Julian Assange. Repeated calls have been made for Moore and Olbermann to set the facts straight, but they have failed to do so. Media Bistro has more about the issue.

Per his own Twitter, @MMFlint, Michael Moore is on Maddow tonight on MSNBC at 9:00 PM Eastern Time. Hopefully, some sense will come to him and he'll apologize and set the record straight. Otherwise, expect the #MooreAndMe campaign to continue.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Expedite Repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell

A repeal of the controversial "don't ask, don't tell" policy that prevented openly homosexual* individuals from serving in the United States military passed in Congress this weekend and will be signed Wednesday morning by President Barack H. Obama. However, it could take months for the new policy to actually take effect so that openly homosexual individuals can enlist in the military, and homosexuals currently serving can do so without the risk of being "outed."

The issue with this is that in the meantime, homosexuals who are unemployed and could enlist in the military to have a paying job serving in the defense of this country and the development of freedom abroad will have to wait. With unemployment over 9.8%, it is in the best interest of this country to move forward quickly and for the military to immediately allow those who are openly homosexual to serve. There is no reason that someone should be collecting unemployment because they are unable to get a job with the military due to being a homosexual. Taxpayer funds would be saved by moving quickly to change the policy, and the economy would be better off. 

Some counter-argue about issues that must be resolved of how homosexuals should be dealt with in the military. The solution: treat homosexuals the same as anyone else, and do what is going to be best for the American taxpayer, which is to give no special treatment to homosexuals (such as special shower time.) The military has gone through changes before. In 1948, segregation of races in the military was eliminated. In fact, it would likely save money today for the military to move to a gender-neutral system, not segregating genders. Building separate men's and women's quarters/barracks comes at additional taxpayer expense, and this expense could be eliminated to save taxpayer dollars. 

One topic that has come up about openly homosexual individuals serving is if they will be subject to violence from fellow service-members. The solution to this problem, is that the military should adopt a policy where any service-member who engages in violence against another service-member, regardless of sexuality, is charged with treason and executed for attacking someone serving their own country. With the penalty of death, service-members will avoid such violent acts.

* For the purposes of simplicity in this article, I used the term homosexual as military policy considers those who are not heterosexual, such as bisexuals, to be homosexuals.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tax Hikes Deferred!

Minutes ago, the House of Representatives passed a tax relief bill that would keep current tax rates in effect for two more years. While this simply will give the country a problem to deal with in 2012, it provides two years of tax relief that can help the economy recover.

As readers of this blog know, The Report is not the biggest fan of President Obama. However, the President deserves recognition for listening to the will of the American people, and working with the Republicans against the wishes of far-left liberal Democrats who wanted the "Bush tax cuts" to expire, resulting in the poorest Americans experiencing a 50 percent tax hike during a recession with high unemployment. The Republicans also deserve credit for forcing Congress to prioritize tax relief by refusing to allow any other legislation to pass until a tax relief bill came through. Finally, those moderate Democrats who put the will and interest of the American people before political ideology deserve credit for casting votes in favor of the tax relief bill.

The implications of the tax relief bill passing will be noticed tomorrow morning. When the New York Stock Exchange opens, expect to see stocks move upwards. Had tax relief failed, the bears would have taken over the market. There would have been major selling, as people fear the economic damage that a lack of tax relief would cause and also would look to take profits before capital gains tax increases. However, because of persistence and compromise, the American people have been spared tax hikes for at least two years.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Rejection of Individual Mandate Protects Our Freedom

When Henry Hudson, a federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, ruled this week that the "individual mandate" provision of the Affordable Care Act (otherwise known as Obamacare) mandating that individuals purchase health insurance coverage or be fined was unconstitutional, he made a ruling that protects the American people from the government overstepping its bounds and removing freedoms. That freedom, of course, is the right to NOT buy something you don't want. Under Obamacare, individuals who didn't want to buy health insurance would be forced to either buy it or pay up a fine. Luckily, Judge Hudson properly interpreted the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution, and ruled that Congress does not have the power to force someone to enter into interstate commerce.

Could you imagine the United States government telling you that you had to buy an orange, a television, a bag of rice, lost luggage insurance, or a six pack of beer? Of course not. Substitute health insurance for one of the aforementioned items, and it is just as ridiculous a proposition. Imagine if a law was passed that every American must own a gun. The same liberals who support all of Obamacare, or believe it didn't go far enough, would be outraged. Yet, the Obama administration has decided to appeal Judge Hudson's ruling. The administration of President Obama continues to not get it. They fail to understand that the American people do not want to be forced into buying a product. The decision to buy health insurance is something that each American should be able to make for themselves and their families. Remember, a majority of those who purchase health insurance will pay more in premiums than they'll receive as a benefit. This is how the health insurance companies cover their costs and earn profits. Rather than pay premiums, some choose to save that money and pay directly for the cost of healthcare that they want or need. The freedom to make the decision as an individual is a fundamental American right.

While portions of Obamacare are beneficial to the American people, the individual mandate provision is not. Common sense would be for the Obama administration to accept that the individual mandate overstepped what is constitutional, and to try to continue forward with the good provisions of health care reform, such as improved coverage for dependents.

In the long-run, the Supreme Court will likely hear the case on whether or not Obamacare's individual mandate is constitutional or not. The Court would be wise to uphold the decision of Judge Hudson, rejecting the individual mandate provision of Obamacare, and setting a precedent that the American people are free to decide whether they will buy a product or not.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Think Washington Needs More Money?

Instead of fighting for higher taxes, those on the far-left, or anyone else who feels generous and wants to give the government more money to spend should simply mail a check or money order payable to "The United States Treasury" to:

Gifts to the United States
U.S. Department of the Treasury
Credit Accounting Branch
3700 East-West Highway, Room 622D
Hyattsville, MD 20782

The government made it possible to give them extra money in 1843 so that individuals could "express their patriotism to the United States," through monetary giving. With a substantial deficit, the government is more than happy to cash your check or money order. According to the Treasury Department, the money given is "for general use by the federal government," can "be available for budget needs," and is considered "an unconditional gift to the government."

Personally, I agree with the comments made on 60 Minutes by future Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) that Washington doesn't have a revenue problem, but instead has a spending problem. I'll use my money as I see fit, spending it at American businesses that create American jobs instead of wasting it away like the federal government often does. But, for those of you that think the government can do a better job spending your money than you can, put your check in the mail. In fact, if you think the government urgently needs money, send it via Express Mail.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Release Assange & Arrest The Damn Hackers!

The controversy over WikiLeaks and cablegate continues. As posted before on The Report, the United States government should not be attacking and blaming WikiLeaks for its troubles, but rather, should be blaming its own citizen and armed forces member, Private First Class Bradley E. Manning. Manning betrayed his country by leaking the documents out, and as written before on The Report should be prosecuted for his treasonous acts and executed if found guilty.

Across the Atlantic Ocean, WikiLeaks' Julian Assange was arrested by authorities in the United Kingdom on a European Union arrest warrant out of Sweden. Assange faces extradition to Sweden to face charges of sexual assault / rape charges. However, it turns out that he didn't actually rape anyone: the women involved have actually stated that the consented to having sexual relations with Assange. The charges stem from Assange refusing to go to a Doctor to get tested for sexually transmitted disease/infection and being difficult to reach. As a result, the women went to the authorities in Sweden when the simple solution would be that they get tested for diseases/infections and leave Assange to deal with anything he may have picked up on his own terms. It is absolutely absurd that the Swedish authorities issued an EU arrest warrant for Assange, and even more absurd that the British actually acted on these ridiculous charges. Had Assange actually forced himself upon these women, then this blog would be advocating for his arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment for life so that he never has the chance to rape another woman again. However, since Assange did not rape anyone, he should be released, the charges should be dropped, and the arrest warrant cancelled. The Report also would advise Assange to go get tested for disease/infection for his own good, because having something like syphilis or herpes go untreated is probably going to be quite painful.

Besides PFC Manning, the other party that needs to be found, arrested, and put in prison are the hackers who have been wreaking havoc on various websites and firms through denial of service attacks. These attacks slow down the Internet for users worldwide, and can hurt the economy by preventing transactions from taking place. While MasterCard, Visa, PayPal, and EveryDNS (not be be confused with a good DNS provider based in Canada called EasyDNS) did the wrong thing by cutting off WikiLeaks, attacking their websites is not the proper course of action. Further, it is illegal, and the criminals behind it should be prosecuted. Those who oppose the actions of the companies that cut off WikiLeaks should oppose them through legal means, such as boycotting them. Instead of using a Visa card or MasterCard card, for example, go with American Express -- if Visa and MasterCard see transaction numbers fall, they won't make as much money and will realize that such poor judgement will cost their bottom line.

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Step in the Right Direction

Today, the Republicans and the White House took a step in the right direction by announcing a compromise plan that would ensure no American sees higher taxes on New Year's Day 2011, and that 2 million unemployed Americans don't loose their unemployment benefits in 26 days. While the plan fails to provide permanent tax relief, it is certainly a step in the right direction, and would provide for a two year period to allow the economy to improve and a plan to be created to reduce the deficit without increasing the tax burden on the American people. The plan also provides tax incentives for businesses to make more investments and to hire more employees. "It’s not perfect, but this compromise is an essential step on the road to recovery. It will stop middle-class taxes from going up. It will spur our private sector to create millions of new jobs, and add momentum that our economy badly needs," President Barack H. Obama said.

Some Democrats are, unfortunately, opposing the new compromise. "To say that I am disappointed with the deal the President laid out tonight is an understatement," said Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa. Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland made it a point to state that "House Democrats have not signed off on any deal."

Earlier this week, it was House Democrats who criticized the Republicans for not passing middle class tax relief. Now that their fellow party member, President Barack Obama, has worked out a compromise with the Republicans to provide a tax cut to the middle class, help create jobs, and extend unemployment benefits, it the Democrats should be fully on board. I suspect that the compromise plan will pass in Congress, as many Democrats will realize that it would be unethical to allow their constituents to face a tax hike next month, and will back President Obama when the recorded vote (roll-call vote) comes up.

TARP Wasn't Obama's Doing

47 percent of Americans believe that TARP, the Troubled Assets Relief Program, that helped prevent the collapse of several financial institutions during the worst of the recession was the doing of President Barack H. Obama. Some who opposed TARP and other "bailouts," see them as a socialist concept that a liberal President decided was a good idea.

The truth, however, is that 47% of Americans are wrong. TARP was actually signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 3, 2008, several months before President Obama took office. In his book Decision Points, Bush discusses the creation and thought process behind TARP in Chapter 14, titled "Financial Crisis." There is no doubt, the financial crisis started during the Bush administration, and some of the blame should fall on the Bush administration. However, the Obama administration policy of pushing all of the blame on the Bush administration is improper. Under President Obama, the economy has become worse. When President Bush left office, unemployment was high. However, under President Obama, unemployment went even higher, from 7.6% to last month's 9.8%.

There is no doubt about it, TARP did help the economy in the short-run and in fact helped the country's deficit as TARP funds were paid back at a profit of over $25B. The difference between TARP and the Federal Reserve's "quantitative easing," is that TARP wasn't an expansion of the money supply, but rather a series of loans that would be repaid earning the lender (the government) interest and profit. TARP was, by no means, a socialist program that involved the redistribution of income from the American taxpayers to banks and other companies that made poor decisions.

While TARP wasn't something President Obama has done, the President deserves credit for having pushed forward items that are beneficial to the economy. The President's current push for unemployment benefits to be extended is a push in the right direction. Ideally, job creation would take place at a rate that makes an extension of unemployment benefits unnecessary. However, the ideal situation is unrealistic right now. If Americans find their unemployment benefits coming to an end with no job in sight, it will lead to more economic troubles as people are forced to default on obligations such as credit cards, utility bills, and mortgages. This will lead to even more foreclosures and more bankruptcies, which will have a negative effect on the economy. Congress would be wise to listen to President Obama when it comes to extending unemployment benefits, and Congress would be wise to also ensure that no American faces an increase in taxes on New Year's Day.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Bernanke Admits More Quantitative Easing Could Happen

On November 15th, I wrote about how if the economy didn't improve, the government would probably just go forward with more "quantitative easing," figuring that if the 2nd round of $600B didn't do the job, more money would.

Little did I know that less than three weeks later, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke would admit that the government might spend more money if the economy doesn't improve or unemployment doesn't fall. Bernanke made these comments on CBS's 60 Minutes. Bernanke also said that what the Federal Reserve was doing wasn't printing money. While technically true, quantitative easing does increase the supply of money, thereby devaluing the American dollar. Money, as anyone who has used a credit card, debit card, or direct deposit has experienced, can be created and move without actual dollar bills (cash) being used. The Federal Reserve may not be printing up c-notes, but through "quantitive easing" they Federal Reserve is creating money. This cartoon provides a more in-depth, easy to understand explanation of "quantitive easing."

Creating more money isn't the solution to our country's economic woes. The solution lies in creating jobs. The private sector, not the government, can best create more jobs and job creation should be incentivized. Additionally, the American people need the ability to spend money in a way that will benefit American business. A tax hike next month will hurt business and cost jobs, as the American people will have less money to spend. The poorest Americans are facing a 50% tax hike on January 1st, and the middle class is facing a tax hike of more than 20%. Ben Bernanke needs to get real and next time he appears on TV he should state the true solutions to the country's economic woes: job creation and a reduction in taxation. More "quantitative easing" isn't going to fix the economy.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Congress Should Lose Control Over Taxation

The United States Congress gets to decide how much Americans pay in federal income tax. Unfortunately, as the events of the past week have shown, Congress cannot be trusted with the responsibility and power to decide how much the American people should be taxed. The solution to ensuring that the will of the American people is followed is to take away Congress' power to decide how much tax Americans will pay.

Congress' power to decide how much Americans are taxed comes from the 16th Amendment:
The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.
While it is Constitutional and legal for Congress to currently set income tax rates, the 16th Amendment was  ratified in 1913, and has become outdated. The 16th Amendment should be repealed and replaced with a new Amendment (the 28th) that provides for a referendum with each election of members of the House of Representatives (every two years) where the American people can decide what tax burden they are willing to accept. The American people would have the power to increase, decrease, or keep taxes the same, and Congress would no longer be able to play political games that run the risk of damaging the country's economy.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Republicans Out of Line on Tax Relief

Last night I wrote about how Democrats in Congress were out of line when it came to tax relief. Today, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would prevent a tax hike for Americans earning under $250,000 a year. While this isn't an ideal bill, as it will still give some Americans a tax hike next year, it is certainly better than what would happen with no legislation where every American sees their taxes go up, including a 50% tax hike for the lowest earning Americans. House Democrats have somewhat redeemed themselves for past failures to pass tax relief, in that they've at least put forward and passed a bill that will prevent a majority of Americans from seeing a tax hike in 29 days.

Unfortunately, now many Republicans are out of line and are opposing this bill. Tax relief for a majority of Americans is clearly a step above tax relief for no Americans. The Republicans must get in-line and get pass this partial tax relief through the Senate. The middle class needs tax relief, and the Democrats are willing to give it. It is now the Republicans who are holding up tax relief. The Republican Party is now positioning itself against its own base and against the American people by opposing a bill that will provide tax relief.

The American people are becoming frustrated with Congress. The Democrats refused to support tax relief, so the Republicans told them that the only legislation they would allow through the Senate was tax relief. Now that such legislation is going to the Senate, Republicans may stop it. Any member of Congress opposed to middle class tax relief does not deserve to be re-elected the next time they come up for election. In fact, I call on any Congress member who blatantly defies the will of the people by voting against a middle class tax relief bill to announce their resignation so that more competent person can fill the seat.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Democrats Completely Out of Line on Tax Relief

The American people need tax relief, and they need it now. We are thirty days away from a hike in taxes unless Congress acts. On January 1st, 2011, every American will see their income taxes increase. The hardest hit will be Americans with the lowest incomes, where those earning under $8,000 a year would see their income taxes go up fifty percent. In the middle class, income tax hikes of over 21% are coming in 30 days. With the United States still feeling the effects of recession, and more unemployment over 9%, the #1 priority of Congress must be tax relief for the American people.

By increasing taxes, the federal government will be taking away money from Americans. This will limit the American people's spending power, and when the American people spend less, American businesses suffer. Businesses then look to reduce production and/or cut costs, including labor costs. This leads to a vicious cycle where more Americans become unemployed and the loss of income leads to less spending, leading to even more Americans becoming unemployed.

Ideally, Congress would act to provide the American people with tax cuts, giving every American more money to use as they see fit. Unfortunately, instead of supporting job creation, Democrats have continually supported the concept of greater income redistribution where the American people are forced to pay the government and the government then spends their hard-earned money. Some of this hard-earned money goes towards useful efforts, such as defense or infrastructure-building. A large portion, however, is wasted on pet projects and earmarks. The Democrats rejected a ban on earmarks this week, despite the American people expressing their opposition to earmarks and wasteful government spending.

The Democrats who oppose job creation and tax relief are so out of line that they are an embarrassment to the constituents who made the mistake of electing them.  On November 2nd, the Democrats were sent a strong message by voters when many in their party lost their seats in Congress. Yet, some Democrats still continue to ignore the will of the American people by refusing to abolish earmarks and refusing to pass tax relief. Today, the situation got so bad that following negotiations at the White House Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell publicly issued a letter to Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid informing him that, basically, if the Democrats are going to pass any legislation it either needs to be tax relief or fund the government. "We cannot agree to prioritize any matters above the critical issues of funding the government and preventing a job killing tax-hike," read the letter. Essentially, Republicans by banding together in the Senate are able to prevent the Democrats from calling a vote (cloture) on legislation. 60 votes are needed for cloture, the Republicans can limit the Democrats to only 58.

So out of line are Democrats in Congress, including Senator Reid himself, that the Republicans cited President Obama in their letter as a voice of reason:
President Obama in his first speech after the November election said "we owe" it to the American people to "focus on those issues that affect their jobs." He [Obama] went on to say that Americans "want jobs to come back faster." 
Now, I'm not one to always agree with President Obama. In fact, it seems that most of the time, I disagree with him. But this is one time when President Barack Hussein Obama has it right. The American people want jobs, and they want Congress to act in a manner consistent with job creation. One thing Americans certainly do not want is a tax hike. If the Republicans have to stop everything but tax relief in order to get tax relief, then so be it. Their tactics may seem like childish shenanigans, but the ends justify the means -- the American people want results.

The ball is in Congress' court, and for the time being, a majority of players on the court are Democrats. I hope they wise up ann follow the will of the people by working with Republicans who want to bring immediate tax relief and create conditions that will lead to a reduction in unemployment in the United States through the creation of jobs. If the Democrats thought they lost a lot of seats last month, they'll be in for a shock when they lose even more in 2012 should they continue to defy the American people by getting nothing positive done.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Don't Blame WikiLeaks for "Cablegate"

The website WikiLeaks yesterday began slowly releasing more than a quarter million United States embassy cables. So far, 278 of the 251,287 confidential documents are available for viewing online. The release has promoted outrage from politicians and government leaders, concerned that national security is at risk as a result of the release. Some politicians, such as Representative Peter King (R-NY), have said WikiLeaks is a terrorist group, putting the website in the same category as Al Qaeda or Al-Shabaab.

However, WikiLeaks isn't to blame. Rather, it's the failure of the United States government under the administration of President Barack Hussein Obama to keep confidential documents secret, and the government now needs a scapegoat to blame. The legitimate person to blame is Private First Class Bradley E. Manning, an intelligence analyst who took the documents and released them illegally. Manning is a disgrace to the good men and women of the United States armed forces who put their lives on the line to protect this country and serve with honor. Manning currently is facing charges (under the Uniform Code of Military Justice) of "adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system" and "communicating, transmitting, and delivering national defense information to an unauthorized source." Instead of these charges, which could lead to a 52-year stay in the United States Disciplinary Barracks, Manning should be charged with treason and executed for his offenses once convicted. (If he isn't convicted, then other charges should be a backup plan.)

The Obama administration also needs to take responsibility for the failures and mistakes that led to this leak. Better security measures within the government would have prevented Manning from leaking such a large amount of sensitive information. Additionally, the Obama administration needs to move towards being more transparent with the American people. A government that is excessive in hiding information from the people is not a good government. Think about how much the Soviet Union hid from its people. The United States must take care to not follow that type of model, and act as communists do.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

North Korea Must Be Stopped

This week, North Korea attacked a United States ally, South Korea. The attack resulted in civilian deaths. But, North Korea was not hit back hard and stopped from mounting further attacks. Nor was anything done after they sank a South Korean ship (in South Korean waters) killing dozens.

This type of shenaniganry should not be tolerated. The administration of President Barack Hussein Obama is making the United States appear weak, unable and unwilling to come to the defense of its ally, as it sits back and continues to suggest time after time that more negotiation and multi-party talks take place with North Korea. Time after time, talks happen and North Korea fails to act in a manner consistent with global expectations. The country continues its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, continues to operate a totalitarian regime that oppresses its people and restricts free speech with “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-Il at the top of a country where people are starving and the economy is in complete ruins. President Obama, likely, is trying to avoid intervention in an effort to avoid his left-wing base getting upset over the United States involving itself in another war. The left opposed the United States intervention that brought freedom to the people of Iraq, and many on the far-left oppose the war in Afghanistan. These liberals, of course, were a huge component to President Obama’s 2008 election and he needs their votes if he runs again in 2012.

President Obama needs to inform Kim Jong-Il and his regime that they have 48 hours to give up control of the country to an international peacekeeping force and a transitional government that can work to implement freedom, democracy, and human rights in North Korea, and work on restoring the economy and providing the people of North Korea with basic needs. In 2003, President George W. Bush told Saddam Hussein that he had 48 hours to leave Iraq or he would face military action. When Saddam Hussein didn’t comply, U.S. warplanes began bombing. In North Korea, if Kim Jong-Il doesn’t listen, President Obama should immediately order the destruction of all North Korean military assets. The work can be done by air, with military planes used to take out North Korean assets.

North Korea is not interested in peace. Kim Jong-Il is a delusional leader, corrupt with power and greed. Only when his regime is removed from power can the people of North Korea prosper and can reunification ever take place in Korea.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Christmas, America's Holiday

Every year as December 25th approaches, some people get into an uproar over how it's unfair to celebrate and recognize Christmas in the workplace, schools, and other "public" settings because of the fact that it is a day of significance to a specific religion (Christianity). Unfortunately, these people are short on facts and fail to recognize that Christmas is not simply a religious day, but that there's a secular aspect to Christmas which includes the recognition of Christmas as an official United States Federal Holiday. In 2006, author John Gibson's book The War on Christmas was published. The book argues that secular liberals took aim at Christmas.

Christmas from a religious perspective essentially is a commemoration of the birth of savior Jesus Christ. Whether you or your religion believe in Jesus Christ and wish to recognize his birth is up to you. That is your right pursuant to the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Christmas from a government perspective has been a Federal Holiday for over 100 years. The Act of Congress making Christmas a Federal Holiday was introduced into the House of Representatives by Representative Burton Chauncey Cook (R-IL). The Senate passed the bill on June 24, 1870, and four days later on June 28, 1870 President Ulysses S. Grant signed the bill.  From a secular perspective for America, Christmas is a Federal Holiday that brings Americans together and has a significant economic impact, which is especially important in times when the country can benefit from increased spending related to the holiday. Some of the secular aspects of Christmas include:

  • Sending Christmas Cards to others, which helps the producers and sellers of Christmas cards, as well as the postal service and other couriers;
  • Giving to charity, which helps the charities and those that receive aid from the charities in addition to helping reduce tax burden on donators who can often claim deductions;
  • Buying gifts, which leads to billions of dollars being spent at retailers nationwide and leads to increased hiring in the retail sector to deal with the increased customer demand;
  • Getting together with family, which leads to increased money spent on travel;
  • The Christmas tree, which helps tree farms and retailers nationwide and even abroad (as some trees come from Canada); 
  • Parades, which bring people out into a City where they'll inevitably spend money, even if it's just the cost to travel there;
  • Eating, Drinking, and being Merry, which helps food and beverage producers big and small.
An example of numbers: if the average American spent $100 on gifts at Christmas, that puts over $30B into the economy. 

Those who oppose the concept of Christmas as a secular and Federal Holiday are opposing the benefit of the American people and the American economy. Most Americans want to see an improved economy and reduced unemployment. That can't happen if Christmas goes away. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Four Loko Bans An Example of Government Gone Too Far

It's been in the news lately that many states (Massachusetts and Michigan, for example) are working on and/or announcing bans on alcoholic energy drinks, the most notable one being Four Loko. The bans come because they believe these drinks are a danger following stories about people ending up in the hospital or nearly dead following the abuse of these drinks, along with other alcohols. The FDA this week stated it was planning to declare the combination of alcohol and caffeine "unsafe," and that it could order a ban / seizure of the products (news story).

It should be noted that alcoholic energy drinks have been on the shelves for years. Additionally, people can mix alcohol and energy drinks themselves. Red Bull + Vokda is a popular drink at many bars. At The Pour House in Boston, I tried and enjoyed a drink called The Rejuvenator, which featured the combination of flavored vodka, Red Bull, and Gatorade. I didn't vomit, pass out, black out, or die as a result, because I drank in moderation. I'm sure that if I had 20 drinks in an hour, it would be a different story. In another example, we have a politician in New York who decided to experience Four Loko first hand, doing so in a foolish fashion where he throws up because he had over two and a half of Four Loko in an hour. He basically drank the equivalent of a glass of wine every five and a half minutes for an hour. Had he had one can, he probably would have been fine.

Alcohol is restricted in all 50 states to people of age 21 or higher*. Like tobacco, the decision to drink an alcoholic beverage is one that an adult should be able to make on his or her own. The government shouldn't decide what you can drink, you should decide. What the government's role should be is to make sure that people are able to make an informed decision. That is why I propose that the same standards requiring nutritional data and ingredient disclosure in food be applied to alcoholic beverages. If a can of iced tea has to have nutritional data and an ingredient list, then a can of Four Loko should too. Alcoholic beverages should not receive a special pass from the requirements of other beverages. Perhaps in addition to the normal warning from the Surgeon General on alcoholic beverages, an additional warning about the caffeine / alcohol should be added. In the end, though, if people choose to ignore these warnings, that should be their right and their freedom as an American living in what is supposed to be a free country.

*A future blog will likely discuss the topic of the age 21 drinking age, which has many problems and actually has led to greater rates of alcohol abuse in the United States than in other developed countries with lower drinking ages.

It's Not Conservative to be Uninformed

Tonight I had the pleasure -- or pain -- of watching Hannity on the FOX News Channel with conservative commentator Ann Coulter on the show. Ms. Coulter is often controversial, hated by liberals, but often makes good arguments that are in-line with the facts. Ms. Coulter was on the show tonight to discuss the latest controversy regarding the Transportation Security Administration, with the new "enhanced" pat downs and whole body imaging that is currently in place at many airports with plans for expansion eventually to all U.S. airports.

Unfortunately, her comments tonight on Hannity were a disgrace to conservatives worldwide, as Ms. Coulter spewed off information that was blatantly wrong regarding backscatter x-ray machines at the airport. Whether you like the idea of whole body imaging being done in an effort to prevent terror or not, the facts are still the same about the machines. Ms. Coulter talked about how the machines were dangerous and exposed people to high levels of radiation. Unfortunately, to debunk her comments, you only need to be smart enough to read an article over at HowStuffWorks, or read articles about radiation exposure that have been written by people with academic expertise, such as this one from Idaho State University.

For the purposes of this blog, I'll debunk Ms. Coulter's comments in a straight forward way. A common unit of radiation dose is the Röntgen equivalent man, or rem. 1 rem breaks down into 1,000 millirem (mrem). In the average day, a person's radiation exposure is 1 mrem. An average of 2,000 mrem a year is considered safe occupational exposure, with 5,000 mrem a year as the maximum safe exposure in any single year.

How much radiation does a backscatter x-ray machine give a person? 0.02 mrem. If you flew twice a day, every day of the year, and went through a backscatter machine each time, your total dose of radiation would be 14.6 mrem. That is less than 1/100th of the safe exposure limit for a year. For a traveler who makes a more reasonable number of flights, say 100 a year, they're looking at 2 mrem, which is 1/1000th of the safe exposure limit.

If radiation from a backscatter x-ray is a serious concern, the more serious concern would be the 2-4 mrems that one would experience on a New York to Los Angeles flight due to the high altitude. Using the low side, 2 mrems, you're getting 100 times more radiation on the actual flight than you are by going through the backscatter x-ray machine. If Ms. Coulter believes there is a danger from the backscatter x-ray machine radiation, then she should become an advocate against air travel entirely given that it's 100 times worse.

Had Ms. Coulter checked the facts and done some simple mathematics, she could have realized that the argument against backscatter x-rays due to radiation concerns is a very poor argument. Instead, Ms. Coulter should have focused on the real issues that exist: the invasion (or perceived invasion) of privacy that the machines create; the high cost that taxpayers are paying to implement technology that might not be very effective and may have failed to catch last year's "pants bomber"; and the greater invasion of privacy and people's emotions created by TSA's use of the new "enhanced" pat-down. Unfortunately, Ms. Coulter went along with rhetoric that was incorrect and untrue. What she did, sadly, was brought her self down to using the tactics that some on the far-left she warns about in books like Godless: The Church of Liberalism often use. True conservatives believe in the truth and the facts, and Ms. Coulter's conduct tonight on Hannity goes against the Reagan-esque principles of openness and honesty that true conservatives embrace.

In Defense of Bristol

If you've been watching Dancing with the Stars this season, you know that teen advocate Bristol Palin, a huge underdog in the competition, has managed to avoid elimination for nine weeks. Three times, including this week, it came down to the end of the show where one pair would be eliminated and the other would move on for Ms. Palin and her partner Mark Ballas. All three times, they moved on.

According to many on the far-left, the reason for Ms. Palin's success is because right-wing Republicans and Tea Party conservatives have maintained an effort to ensure that Bristol doesn't get eliminated from Dancing with the Stars. Bristol's continued success is nothing more than a right-wing conspiracy. It isn't just the left-wing bloggers and liberal media outlets putting the story forward. Bloomberg last week reported the following:
Bristol Palin survived another elimination round on ABC’s "Dancing With the Stars" as fans including Tea Party supporters mustered enough votes to overcome low scores from the talent show's judges.
But could the Tea Party really have such power? After all, on November 2nd, the Tea Party was unable to win the Senate seats it wanted in Nevada and Delaware. In fact, a majority of Tea Party candidates lost their elections. Plus, if you believe the far-left, then obviously Tea Party members aren't concerned with Dancing with the Stars because they're too busy watching their supporters over on FOX News Channel, or better yet, counting stacks of money on their yachts.

What the far-left is doing is trying to attribute Ms. Palin's success on Dancing with the Stars to far right efforts led by supporters of Ms. Palin's mother (former Alaska Governor and rumored 2012 Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin). They're doing this because they're scared. They're upset that this conservative woman has manage to capture the support of viewers of Dancing with the Stars. They're looking forward at 2012 and beyond thinking that the American people will decide that they want to move towards more conservative principles, having gotten tired of the wasteful spending and earmarks that they've fought for. They are afraid of Ms. Palin, because her position as a well-spoken, attractive, young conservative woman means that other young people are more likely to listen to her than them.

The truth is that Ms. Palin continues to advance on Dancing with the Stars because viewers like her. They've seen her working hard throughout the show, and they've seen as she's put in an effort week-after-week to become a better dancer. Ms. Palin has no background in dancing, and I would suspect that the majority of Dancing with the Stars viewers don't. People feel a connection to Ms. Palin, and they see her as the a hard-working American who can achieve success by making an honest effort and working hard. People like underdogs, and they like to see an underdog become top dog. As a result, people pick up the phone and they vote for her to move forward on the show. That's why Ms. Palin has made it to the finals of Dancing with the Stars. It's not a right-wing conspiracy, it's not cheating, its good, honest work.

(As a full disclosure, I believe that the best pair this season on Dancing with the Stars is not Bristol and Mark, but rather Kyle and Lacey. I think they'll end up the winners, with Bristol and Mark taking second place. We'll find out next week when Dancing with the Stars airs.)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Waiting for QE3

A couple weeks ago, the Federal Reserve under Chairman Ben Bernanke announced plans for a second round of "quantitative easing," which quickly became known as "QE2" for short. The plan involved pumping $600 billion into the economy. The idea behind "quantitative easing," officially, is to lower interest rates for two purposes:
  1. To promote job growth, something that the United States desperately needs and that the Obama administration has continually failed to deliver;
  2. To avoid deflation
I won't argue with the concept of job growth. We need jobs here in the United States. Unemployment remains above 9%, and many unemployed will soon reach the end of extended unemployment benefits. However, the concept of avoiding deflation is absolutely absurd. Has anyone noticed any real deflation in this country? I constantly see prices going up. It costs more to travel, it costs more to eat, and it costs more to buy clothes. And just look at precious metals. The price of gold, silver, and platinum have skyrocketed. (On a stock / finance note -- if you're NOT invested in precious metals, you've been missing out.) For many, we are paying more than ever before in taxes. Sure, some products have come down in price, but this is limited to technology products which are introduced at high prices and then come down to more "mainstream" prices as newer technologies come out.

If you go out on the street (and I'm talking Main Street, not Wall Street) and ask people what "quantitative easing" is, most people don't know. The Federal Reserve is using complicated financial terminology in order to hide what "QE2" really is: the printing of more money, which devalues the U.S. dollar, and makes the money that Americans have worked hard to save worth less.

It seems that whenever times are tough, the government moves forward with plans that involve pumping in more money. If the $600B doesn't do the job, then their next idea will probably be to move forward with "QE3" and pump another $600B (or more) into the economy, devaluating the American people's savings even more.

You cannot solve all problems by simply throwing money at them. Zimbabwe tried this. They ended up with, according to their own government, over 230,000,000% inflation. (Forbes estimated the inflation to be so much that to express the figure, you need to use scientific notation - 6.5x10^108%.) Using the government's numbers, that means that a person with $2,300,000 ended up with their millions being worth just $1 in a matter of a few years. Do I think the Federal Reserve would be as irresponsible as Zimbabwe's Central Bank? No. Do I think President Obama is as foolish as Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe? No. But simply printing money up isn't a long-term solution that can solve our country's economic problems.