Archive for July 26th, 2009

Pro-choice movement goes on offensive

Sunday, July 26th, 2009


WICHITA, Kansas - We’re days away from the preliminary hearing for Scott Roeder, the man accused of murdering Dr. George Tiller almost two months ago.

Saturday, for the first time ever, pro-choice groups from across the state got together and vowed to become more vocal in their fight. The Kansas chapter of the National Organization for Women says the grassroots women’s movement in Kansas has been shrinking over the past years and in some cases disappearing.  That is why nearly 100 activists including politicians and lobbyists strategized Saturday on how to change that.

Steve Kraske spins for Dennis Moore, calling Moore “moderate” and labeling government-run health care, with no cost savings “reform”

Sunday, July 26th, 2009


It’s all good, the Kansas Democrat said. “Not sure (the delay) is detrimental … gives us time to work out differences.”

In Moore’s view, differences are all over the lot, and they only begin with Friday’s (presumably temporary) breakdown in talks between the conservative Blue Dog coalition, which counts Moore as a member, and House leadership.

Moore was one of the Blue Dog signatories on a July 9 letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that outlined a litany of worries:

The impact on the deficit. The need for “delivery system reform” and to protect small businesses and bolster rural health care.

Kansas GOP leader moves to run for elections post

Sunday, July 26th, 2009


TOPEKA | Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt took a big step Monday toward running for secretary of state by appointing a campaign treasurer, showing his strong interest in Kansas’ top job for running elections.

State law requires such an appointment before a candidate is allowed to start raising money. Although Schmidt said he was “very serious” about running, the Independence Republican stopped short of formally declaring his candidacy for the GOP nomination.

“I’ll make a formal announcement later this year,” Schmidt said during an interview. “I’ll be focusing on continuing a tradition of professionalism that Kansans have come to expect.”

Schmidt, 41, has served in the Senate since 2001 and has been its majority leader since 2005. He also is a former assistant attorney general.

Hodge at Steve Howe’s failure on the job damages Brownback’s presidential hopes

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

Benjamin Hodge at Race42012:

In large part because of Brownback, the largest county in the state of Kansas has an activist as its top law enforcer.  Due to in-name Republican Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe (left), whose office is charged with enforcing the rule of law in a county with a fifth of the state’s voters, the 30 or so local governments bodies that receive receive billions of tax dollars can now completely ignore the state open meetings law.  During the Republican primary of 2008 for the Johnson County District Attorney’s office, Brownback unnecessarily decided to endorse Howe, a candidate with a blank slate, over a proven conservative who would have faced a tougher chance of winning the general election.

Did Brownback know that DA Howe would fail the voters?  Probably not, but I don’t care.  Brownback failed to properly vet this guy.  Brownback took a calculated risk for political reasons, and lost the bet. 3,000 Low Temp Records Set This July

Sunday, July 26th, 2009


Democratic House health-insurance bill refers to mentally disabled people as “retarded,” offends advocats

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

NY Post:

The bill refers to: “A hospital or a nursing facility or intermediate-care facility for the mentally retarded . . .”

The phrase could cause more problems with groups for the developmentally disabled, who were angered when President Obama referred to his poor bowling skills on “The Tonight Show” as “like the Special Olympics.” Obama later apologized.

Both U.S. political parties offend “Joe the Plumber”

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

HOLLAND, Ohio (Reuters) - “Joe the Plumber,” who came to symbolize U.S. taxpayer frustration during last year’s election, sounds even angrier now at what he sees as excessive government spending on the economy and healthcare reform.

“The politicians in Washington are spending trillions of dollars of our money. When are Americans going to stand up and say enough is enough?” said Joe Wurzelbacher, 35, in an interview on Friday at his modest suburban Ohio home.

“Instead of spending more of our money, they should cut back like ordinary Americans are having to. Why do they think they can spend their way out of this mess?” said Wurzelbacher, referring to the $787 billion government stimulus bill.

CNN: Get ready for banking’s next headache

Sunday, July 26th, 2009


NEW YORK (Fortune) — Regional banks can no longer ignore the elephant in the room — their exposure to the commercial real estate bust.

Though housing markets remain weak, analysts expect credit problems over the next year to center on commercial real estate — mortgages on office and apartment buildings and shopping malls, as well as construction, development and industrial loans.

U.S. banks hold some $1.8 trillion worth of commercial loans, according to Federal Reserve data. Big regional banks, including PNC (PNCFortune 500) of Pittsburgh, KeyCorp (KEYFortune 500) of Cleveland and BB&T (BBTFortune 500) of Richmond, Va., have more than half their loan books in commercial loans.

Michael Hirsh: Markets are recovering. But the systemic risk problem that nearly ate New York is still out there

Sunday, July 26th, 2009


Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase have reported huge profits, the Dow has made it past 9000, and Barack Obama has moved on to health care. The horror show seems to be over. But as in one of those clichéd Hollywood endings, the monster in this story isn’t really dead, even if most people think he is. Lost amid all the premature self-congratulation is the fact that the deepest underlying problem that caused the financial disaster is not being solved.

David Schmick at Weekly Standard: what fundamentally caused the financial crisis

Sunday, July 26th, 2009


When people asked what fundamentally caused the financial crisis, my answer is not what they expect. I respond with one phrase–the fall of the Berlin Wall. By the early 1990s, after the collapse of the socialist model, emerging market economies such as China, India, Eastern Europe, and the commodity producers wanted to be like the West–capitalists. And they became pretty good at making their economies more productive. This had the effect of lowering real wage costs globally while setting up these economies as powerful exporters.

Soon a global ocean of capital–of excess savings–was beginning to swirl around a liberalized worldwide financial system. Partly as a consequence of the Asian crisis of the late 1990s, most of these emerging market economies by the late 1990s adopted a new export-oriented model for success. They tied their currencies to the U.S. dollar and refashioned their economies as large export platforms. The target: The U.S. consumer who fairly quickly became the world’s consumer of last resort.

Christopher Caldwell: California’s fiscal charade

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

Financial Times:

Monday’s agreement between Arnold Schwarzenegger, the governor of California, and state legislators seemed to promise a temporary resolution to an ongoing budget crisis. But before legislators had even had a chance to vote on it, Californians were indulging in that peculiar mix of sanctimony and surrealism which marks almost all political discourse in the state. “What about the children?” ran the headline over the letters section of the San Francisco Chronicle, as if the important divide in the state’s politics were between those who “care” and those who do not.

Caring has nothing to do with it. California’s problems are those of “direct democracy”. The state’s laws are shaped by plebiscites to a degree unmatched outside of Venezuela. In voting on “propositions”, which sometimes touch on detailed budgetary matters, citizens of the Golden State have stood up consistently for two principles: the state should provide vastly more services to its citizens, and citizens should pay vastly less to the state. In 1978, Proposition 13 halved government’s take from property taxes; a decade later, Proposition 98 required the state to spend 40 per cent of its “general fund” on schools. Adding to the problem is the requirement of supermajorities for raising taxes.

Time: Is Marijuana the Answer to California’s Budget Woes?

Sunday, July 26th, 2009


Proponents of marijuana legalization have advanced plenty of arguments in support of their drug of choice: marijuana is less dangerous than legal substances like cigarettes and alcohol; pot has legitimate medical uses; the money spent prosecuting marijuana offenses would be better used for more pressing public concerns.

The Street: Goldman Stakes Pays Off for Buffett. No Duh.

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

The Street:

Big investments in Goldman Sachs (GS Quote) at the height of the financial crisis made a lot of money for Warren Buffett and much less for the federal government, but those results are actually not that surprising.

A college professor’s recent analysis showed that Buffett’s preferred stake in Goldman has been much more profitable than the Treasury Department’s. The results provided ammunition for critics who view big banks on Wall Street and wealthy counterparts elsewhere — in Omaha, for instance — as villains who took advantage of the government’s largesse.

But while the numbers might be fresh, the finding is not, since the terms of both agreements were hammered out and publicized nine or 10 months ago. It’s also important to note the distinction between how the capital infusions came to be, since Goldman asked Buffett for money, while the government asked Goldman to accept federal funds.

In late-September, Goldman and its banking brethren were starved for capital. The credit markets had seized up after the fall of Lehman Brothers — soon followed to the brink by American International Group (AIG Quote) – sending everyone on the hunt for cash. According to the Wall Street Journal, a Goldman investment banker with close ties to Buffett called him up, they hammered out details for a preferred-stock deal, and he was in bed by 10:30 p.m.

26% Say Obama Response Good or Excellent on Cambridge Cop Question

Sunday, July 26th, 2009


Twenty-six percent (26%) of voters nationwide say President Obama did a good or excellent job answering a press conference question about an incident involving a white Cambridge, Massachusetts policeman and a black Harvard professor. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 46% rate the president’s response as poor.

But Americans are evenly divided as to whether or not the question – asked by Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times – was appropriate to ask at a presidential press conference. Forty-one percent (41%) say it was appropriate while 43% disagree.

The president was asked about the arrest of a prominent African-America professor at Harvard and the professor’s subsequent complaint of racial profiling. While admitting he did not know all the details and acknowledging that the professor was a personal friend, the president said the police acted “stupidly” when they arrested Henry Louis Gates.

Beneath the top line numbers is a huge gap between the way that white and black Americans view the situation.

(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it’s in the news, it’s in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter.

Seventy-one percent (71%) of African-Americans say the president’s response was good or excellent, a view shared by just 22% of white Americans.

At the other extreme, 53% of white voters gave the president’s response a poor grade. Only five percent (5%) of black Americans offered such a negative response.

African-Americans, by a two-to-one margin, say the question was inappropriate. Whites are fairly evenly divided on the appropriateness of the question.

Seventy-three percent (73%) of African-American voters believe that most blacks receive unfair treatment from the police. Just 21% of white voters share that view (Premium Members can see full demographic crosstabs).

Thirty-two percent (32%) of black voters say that most policemen are racist, but 52% disagree.

31% Say Biden Will Be Obama’s Running Mate in 2012, 31% Disagree

Sunday, July 26th, 2009


Vice President Joe Biden has been plagued with gaffes since taking office, and voters are now evenly divided over whether he will be President Obama’s running mate again in 2012.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 31% believe Biden will be on the Democratic national ticket in the next presidential election, but the identical number (31%) say he will not be. However, a substantial number (38%) are not sure.

Democrats are twice as likely as Republicans – 44% to 22% – to think the longtime senator from Delaware will be running again with Obama. Only 24% of Democrats say he will not be, but nearly one-out-of-three Democrats (32%) are undecided. Biden, then chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was chosen in 2008 in part to bring foreign policy experience which Obama lacked to the party’s ticket.

The Truth Behind a “Recovery” in GDP — Green Faucet

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

Green Faucet:

Over the last week, a number of prominent companies have reported earnings, which have exceeded depressed expectations. Analysts have dismissed the conspicuous weakness in revenue from year ago levels. Here’s a short list: IBM -13.3%, Intel -15.3%, Cisco -16.6%, CSX -24.8%, GE -9.0%, Caterpillar -21.8%, Dupont -19.1%. Most of the companies were able to exceed earnings estimates by aggressively cutting costs, and in most cases, laying off thousands of employees. That’s like getting fat by eating your own leg. Most analysts are excited, since earnings are expected to soar in coming quarters, as revenue growth returns, with most of it dropping to the bottom line. If this was a normal recession, it would be reasonable to expect a normal recovery in demand. Although government stimulus spending will give the economy a lift into the first half of 2010, consumer spending will remain weak, as the unemployment rate breaches 10%, and the underemployment rate flirts with 20%. Business investment will be retarded by excess capacity, and a cost control mindset by executives. Spending by states is going to be weak certainly by historical standards. And the global nature of this recession is going to restrain export growth. Where’s the beef?

We’re going to get what looks like a V-shaped recovery in GDP, and it will pack the nutritional value of a Twinkee.

WSJ: Stocks Rally on Death of Health-Care Reform

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

Last week I wrote that if “it gets rejected, then stocks could move a lot higher once they see that it’s still possible for the government of this country to do the right thing every once in a while.” That’s just what has happened.

Let me remind you what’s a stake here. It’s even worse than I wrote about last week. I said that the “surcharge” tax to finance this government takeover of private medicine would raise the top income tax rate to 45%. That’s bad enough, but what I didn’t mention is that the “surcharge” would affect capital gains taxes, too. The rate on long-term capital gains is now 15%. If Obama’s plan is enacted, it would jump to 25.6%.

I can’t think of a surer way to destroy the stock market – what’s left of it – than to raise taxes on capital gains. Isn’t it already hard enough to make money in stocks?

47% in California Favor Legalizing, Taxing Marijuana

Sunday, July 26th, 2009


As California looks for solutions to its ongoing budget problems, 47% of voters in the state say marijuana should be legalized and taxed.

But nearly as many (42%) oppose the state legalizing and taxing the drug to help fix the state’s budget problems, according to a new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of California voters. Eleven percent (11%) are not sure which course to follow.

Nationally, 41% of voters think the United States should legalize and tax marijuana to help solve the nation’s fiscal problems, but 49% are opposed.

(Want a free daily e-mail update? Sign up now. If it’s in the news, it’s in our polls.) Rasmussen Reports updates also available on Twitter.

A majority of California voters ages 18 to 29 and of those 40 to 64 favor legalization and taxation of pot.

Fifty-five percent (55%) of Democrats in the state think it’s a good idea, but 54% of Republicans and 50% of voters not affiliated with either party disagree and oppose such a move.

Rasmussen: 54% Still Blame Bush for Nation’s Economic Woes

Sunday, July 26th, 2009


Most Americans-54%–still blame President George W. Bush for the nation’s economic woes. A Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 39% say the policies of President Barack Obama are to blame.

Those top-line figures are unchanged from a month ago. Two months ago, 62% blamed Bush.

By a two-to-one margin,voters trust their own economic judgment more than the President’s. That, too, is little changed over the past month. However, in February, just 49% trusted their own economic judgment more than the president’s.

Fifty-seven percent (57%) of women still blame Bush for the economic problems. That view is shared by 50% of men.

Seventy-nine percent (79%) of Democrats point the finger at Bush while 65% of Republicans say Obama now bears responsibility. Those not affiliated with either major party are more evenly divided-51% blame Bush and 43% say Obama.

Debra Saunders on health care: It Won’t Cost Anything! — And It Won’t Change Anything

Sunday, July 26th, 2009


In May, President Obama touted $17 billion in cuts he had planned for a budget of more than $3 trillion. Obama was quite proud of these cuts. Really. He told reporters that while $17 billion in cuts was considered “trivial” inside the beltway, “outside of Washington, that’s still considered a lot of money.”

So forgive me if I am skeptical when Obama — who called it “painful” to squeeze one half of 1 percent from the gargantuan federal machine — claims, as he did at Wednesday night’s news conference, that two-thirds of his plan to provide universal access to health care for Americans “can be paid for by reallocating money that is simply being wasted in federal health care programs.”

What shocks me is how smart people actually buy into the notion that the administration can expand health coverage and that it will not — indeed, should not — cost most taxpayers a dime.