Friday, February 26, 2010

Morning Bell: Someone Needs to Tell the President His Health Care Plan is Dead | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.

Morning Bell: Someone Needs to Tell the President His Health Care Plan is Dead

Posted February 26th, 2010 at 9:29am in Health Care with 38 commentsPrint This Post Print This Post

The day before yesterday’s White House health care summit, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) told reporters: “The only way this works is for the House to pass the Senate bill and then, depending on what the package is, the reconciliation provision that moves first through the House and then comes here.” When Conrad was reminded that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has repeatedly insisted that the House will not pass the Senate bill until the Senate passes a second bill that fixes the first, Conrad replied: “Fine, then it’s dead.”

This was the dynamic that President Barack Obama was trying to alter with his eventually-seven-hour meeting. And judging by pretty much every major news outlet, he completely failed. Rep. Jason Altmire (D-PA), who is one of the 39 House Democrats that the White House needs to switch from a “no” the first time around to a “yes” this time, told The New York Times: “I don’t see very many at all who voted no who are going to switch their votes unless there are substantial changes in the bill.”

And that reality is already spreading throughout Capitol Hill. Politico reports that while Democrats were hoping to pass Obamacare by Easter, “there were signs Thursday night that the schedule was slipping. One Democratic lawmaker involved in the negotiations, who asked not to be identified to speak candidly of the process, said the party would not, in fact, start down the path of reconciliation next week.”

That is some rare great news for the American people. As Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) ably explained yesterday, Americans do not want Washington dictating their health care decisions to them, and that is exactly what Obamacare would do:

The difference is this: We don’t think all the answers lie in Washington regulating all of this. … if the National Restaurant Association or the National Federation of Independent Business, on behalf of their members, wants to set up an association health plan, we think they’ll probably do a good job on behalf of their members. Let them decide to do that instead of restricting insurance competition by federalizing the regulation of insurance, and by mandating exactly how it will work, you make it more expensive and you reduce the competition among insurers for people’s business. We want to decentralize the system, give more power to small businesses, more power to individuals, and make insurers compete more. But if you federalize it and standardize it and mandate it, you do not achieve that. And that’s the big difference we have.

President Obama bristled at this analysis, responding: “Can I just say that, at this point, any time that a question is phrased as, “Does Washington know better,” I think we’re kind of tipping the scales a little bit there since we all know that everybody is angry at Washington right now.”

The President seems to understand that the American people do not want bureaucrats in Washington controlling their health care decisions, but then he seems completely oblivious to the fact that increasing bureaucratic control at the expense of every American’s ability to make their own choices is exactly what his plan does.

The American people know this. That is why support for the President’s health care plan has been steadily declining. That is why the most recent CBS News/New York Times Poll shows 53% of Americans say the United States cannot afford to fix health care at this time. It is why 52% of Americans tell Gallup they do not want to see Obamacare pass with only 50 Senators in support (Vice President Joe Biden casting the 51st vote). That is why 59% of registered voters tell Fox News they want the President to start over.

And he should. If the President truly wants to enact historic bipartisan and lasting health care reform, he needs to admit this version of Obamacare is dead. In 2011, when there is likely to be a more centrist Congress in place, then Obama should come back and start again.

Streetcar Line

Streetcar Line
Summit Strategems

By Quin Hillyer on 2.26.10 @ 6:09AM

Forgive me this stream of consciousness. I had another topic in mind entirely for this column, but the live coverage of this health care "summit" has distracted me all day. President Obama's superciliousness infuriates me; his insistence on speaking each time between each speaker is outrageous; his Democratic colleagues are not much help to him (although, much as Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois is smarm personified, his misleading riff in defense of jackpot justice trial lawyering was, unfortunately, very effective); yet I can't help thinking that the president is winning among his intended audience, which are the Democrats in Congress. By going on for six full hours about his plans, all in a reasonable tone of voice, he makes those plans somehow less scary, no matter how many good licks the Republicans get in. All he needs to do is to lower the volume, provide enough reassurance to congressional Democrats that there is a defensible set of talking points in favor of his plans (even if it isn't logically defensible, he makes it sound politically defensible merely by defending it for so long without cracking), and keep from making any major gaffes, and... presto!… Obama convinces wavering Democrats in Congress that they already have taken all the body blows that can possibly come, and that they can't get hurt any worse than they already have been, so they might as well roll the dice and vote his way.

Since this is stream of consciousness, I'm not sure I explained that as well as I could or should, but the point is this: As long as Obama keeps this alive, he, yes, keeps it alive. In that tautology lies his continuing chance to get a bill passed.

It's like this. I once sat in a meeting of the board of an organization on which there was a bitter division. I was the vice-chair; the chairman was on the other side. There were, I think, nine people on the board, with four (including me) on my side, three (including the chair) on the other, and two swinging back and forth with each argument. At one point the chairman said each side had clearly made its points and that he would call a vote after he wrapped up his last points. But as he wrapped up, he could tell that one of the two "swing votes" he thought he was swaying had, instead, become puzzled, and he wasn't sure he had her vote after all. So when he wrapped up, despite my objections, he decided not to take the vote after all. Instead, he called on the swing voter to ask what was puzzling her. Well, that re-opened the whole shebang again. The debate went back and forth, and then he again promised to finally hold the vote. This time, because of who had spoken when, I had what should have been the last word. When I finished, the body language in the room made it clear I had won the day: Both swing members were about to vote my way.

So the chairman didn't take the vote. He started making his arguments again, and threw in a new wrinkle. And the swing members started swinging back his way.

Well, this process repeated itself about six more times. No matter what happened, the chairman would not, absolutely would not, actually allow the vote to take place until he felt sure beyond a doubt that he had the majority. It didn't matter how many times he promised a vote after "just five more minutes." Unless he could win, he wouldn't hold the vote, and unless he held the vote, he couldn't lose. This went on for something like two hours overtime, late into the night. And when I objected to his tactics, he said, in effect, "Tough: I'm chairing this meeting. I decide when we vote." It sounded an awful lot like Obama saying "I won."

Finally, having worn down everybody, the chairman saw that just in order to get out of there, both of the swing members would give in. Reading their expressions correctly, he suddenly called for a vote, and he won, 5-4.

That's what Obama is doing. But refusing to admit defeat, by keeping the subject open, he is hoping to find the one window of opportunity when the stars and votes line up, and then have Congress pass this health care monstrosity.

What Thursday's summit did was buy time. It kept everybody at the table. It kept the issue open. And the whammy vote is still waiting to be sprung on us.

That said, Obama is so wrong on all this that it is outrageous. He made a terribly false analogy. He spoke about the advantages of purchasing power, saying that with greater purchasing power that supposedly comes from consolidating into a large purchasing pool, costs will go down. He used Wal-Mart as an example. But it's a bad example. What happens with Wal-Mart is that, once Wal-Mart has driven all of its nearby competition out of business with low prices, then it slowly hikes its prices -- because it can afford to do so, because it has no competition. At least to an extent. The other thing Wal-Mart does is it starts buying more and more from small-shop suppliers, until it becomes a majority of the suppliers' business. It then pressures the suppliers for "exclusive" deals, so that because it purchases in bulk, it corners the market for that particular supplier. Then, and only then, once the supplier is hooked, it unleashes the whammy: It dictates to the supplier the prices at which it, Wal-Mart, will buy the suppliers' goods. So while consumers of Wal-Mart benefit in the short term, the suppliers all get squeezed. In the long run, the suppliers, the wholesalers, get squeezed almost out of business -- and the repercussions can spread, so that sometimes a whole community gets pinched.

This isn't to knock Wal-Mart. Thank goodness Wal-Mart is there to provide goods at low prices. And thank goodness that no community acts entirely in isolation, and that cars exist, because market forces still apply from community to community and state to state so that Wal-Mart itself answers to market forces too. The market is mostly self-correcting. If Wal-Mart squeezes too much, its supplier runs out of business. That hurts Wal-Mart. So Wal-Mart answers the market forces. And we all benefit.

But health care cannot work that way, or at least not with government in the role of Wal-Mart -- because the government does not answer to market forces. We saw that with Fannie and Freddie. When they "failed," they didn't go out of business: Government just bailed them out. By borrowing from our children, and by raising taxes or fees. Meanwhile, thousands of banks were forced to adopt new lending standards that are too strict, even though their old lending practices were fine under normal circumstances -- and the economy slowed down even more without enough credit acting as necessary grease for the works. In short, the downstream consequences were horrible, while Fannie and Freddie skated.

So too, in health care, will the downstream consequences be horrible. Once government takes over the huge role of "bulk purchasing agent," it faces no real pressure -- but the doctors face pressures, and the remaining insurance companies face pressures until they go out of business, and the patients face rationing, and.... and so on.

In short, Obama's argument is nonsense. Yet even nonsensical arguments sometimes can start sounding reasonable when you are tired of a subject -- and even if there is only a small window when the argument is taking hold, the "chairman" or president can call for a vote right at that moment -- especially in a closed universe such as Congress -- and pull out a "win" on the issue at hand.

The Democrats tried the bulk purchasing argument, by the way, with the Medicare prescription drug program. In what was otherwise an execrable new program, Republicans insisted on one market-based provisions: namely, that drug prices be determined by the market rather than by having government do the negotiating. Democrats desperately wanted government to negotiate the prices, through bulk purchasing power. When they couldn't get their way, they did some math and tried to insert a provision saying that government would at least set the premium prices that the private companies would charge. The premium they wanted to set to start at $35; they thought that without such price controls, the premiums would rise astronomically, well above that.

With G.W. Bush in the White House, that premium price control also was blocked. So, to the dismay of the Dems, the market was allowed to set premium prices.

Well, lo and behold, what happened? After the first two years, the average premiums were $24. In other words, the market worked better by $11 per month – right around a 30 percent savings for the average participant. What the Democrats thought would be a great price, $35, and wanted to write into law, turned out to be an absolutely awful deal -- or at least it would have been awful if it actually had been written into the law.

Obamacare would follow the same model. The bulk purchasing of government would destroy competition, not add to it. And costs would go up, not down.

But Obama will keep trying to argue otherwise. And when he thinks that, by hook or by crook, he finally, at least temporarily, has the votes in hand, he will try to shove it right down our throats. Conservatives who want to block it will need never to let down their guards.

Quin Hillyer is a senior editorial writer at the Washington Times and senior editor of The American Spectator. He can be reached at

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Obama Rejects Criticism of Agenda as 'Socialism' - CNBC

Obama Rejects Attackers' Cries of 'Socialism'
Published: Wednesday, 24 Feb 2010 | 1:38 PM ET

President Barack Obama launched a vigorous defense of his economic agenda Wednesday, rejecting critics who call his policies "socialism" and insisting he aims to boost U.S. competitiveness abroad.

Speaking to the Business Roundtable, which groups some of the country's top chief executives, Obama called for support of his administration's efforts to overhaul financial regulation and create jobs.

Obama's remarks were set against a backdrop of unease in the business community about his economic and budget policies as well as his legislative drive for healthcare, energy and financial regulatory reform.

"Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, I am an ardent believer in the free market," Obama said in prepared remarks.

Obama said his efforts to enact sweeping legislation to overhaul financial regulations and set caps on carbon emissions to fight climate change were not aimed at thwarting businesses.

"We have arrived at a juncture in our politics where reasonable efforts to update our regulations, or make basic investments in our future, are too often greeted with cries of 'government takeover' or even 'socialism'," Obama said.

"Getting this balance right has less to do with big government or small government than it does smart government. It's not about being anti-business or pro-government; it's about being pro-growth and pro-jobs," he said.

The president's agenda got a boost early on Wednesday from the U.S. Senate, which, in a relatively bipartisan vote, approved a $15 billion package of tax breaks and highway spending that aims to bring down the country's stubbornly high 9.7 percent unemployment rate.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives, which could approve the measure quickly for Obama to sign into law.

Obama welcomed the Senate vote.

"This is an important step forward in putting more Americans back to work as soon as possible," he said. Obama and his fellow Democrats are determined to bring down the unemployment rate before congressional elections in November.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The American Spectator : White House Accused of Federal Crime in Specter, Bennet Races

White House Accused of Federal Crime in Specter, Bennet Races

By Jeffrey Lord on 2.22.10 @ 6:09AM

"Whoever solicits or receives … any….thing of value, in consideration of the promise of support or use of influence in obtaining for any person any appointive office or place under the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both." -- 18 USC Sec. 211 -- Bribery, Graft and Conflicts of Interest: Acceptance or solicitation to obtain appointive public office

"In the face of a White House denial, U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak stuck to his story yesterday that the Obama administration offered him a "high-ranking" government post if he would not run against U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania's Democratic primary."
-- Philadelphia Inquirer
February 19, 2010

"D.C. job alleged as attempt to deter Romanoff"
--Denver Post
September 27, 2009

A bombshell has just exploded in the 2010 elections.

For the second time in five months, the Obama White House is being accused -- by Democrats -- of offering high ranking government jobs in return for political favors. What no one is reporting is that this is a violation of federal law that can lead to prison time, a fine or both, according to Title 18, Chapter 11, Section 211 of the United States Code.

The jobs in question? Secretary of the Navy and a position within the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The favor requested in return? Withdrawal from Senate challenges to two sitting United States Senators, both Democrats supported by President Obama. The Senators are Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania and Michael Bennet in Colorado.

On Friday, Pennsylvania Congressman Joe Sestak, the Democrat challenging Specter for re-nomination, launched the controversy by accusing the Obama White House of offering him a federal job in exchange for his agreeing to abandon his race against Specter.

In August of 2009, the Denver Post reported last September, Deputy White House Chief of Staff Jim Messina "offered specific suggestions" for a job in the Obama Administration to Colorado Democrat Andrew Romanoff, a former state House Speaker, if Romanoff would agree to abandon a nomination challenge to U.S. Senator Michael Bennet. Bennet was appointed to the seat upon the resignation of then-Senator Ken Salazar after Salazar was appointed by Obama to serve as Secretary of the Interior. According to the Post, the specific job mentioned was in the U.S. Agency for International Development. The Post cited "several sources who described the communication to The Denver Post."

The paper also describes Messina as "President Barack Obama's deputy chief of staff and a storied fixer in the White House political shop." Messina's immediate boss is White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel.

Sestak is standing by his story. Romanoff refused to discuss it with the Denver paper. In both instances the White House has denied the offers took place. The Sestak story in the Philadelphia Inquirer, reported by Thomas Fitzgerald, can be found here, While the Denver Post story, reported by Michael Riley, from September 27, 2009, can be read here.

In an interview with Philadelphia television anchor Larry Kane, who broke the story on Larry Kane: Voice of Reason, a Comcast Network show, Sestak says someone -- unnamed -- in the Obama White House offered him a federal job if he would quit the Senate race against Specter, the latter having the support of President Obama, Vice President Biden and, in the state itself, outgoing Democratic Governor Ed Rendell. Both Biden and Rendell are longtime friends of Specter, with Biden taking personal credit for convincing Specter to leave the Republican Party and switch to the Democrats. Rendell served as a deputy to Specter when the future senator's career began as Philadelphia's District Attorney, a job Rendell himself would eventually hold.

Asked Kane of Sestak in the Comcast interview:

"Is it true that you were offered a high ranking job in the administration in a bid to get you to drop out of the primary against Arlen Specter?"

"Yes" replied Sestak.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Bennet doesn't get the message - The Denver Post

Even the Denver Post gets it...

Bennet doesn't get the message
The Colorado senator is ignoring voters' will by pushing a reconciliation vote to cram health care reform down our throats.

By The Denver Post
Posted: 02/18/2010 01:00:00 AM MST

Most Americans want Congress to start over on health care reform, but it seems Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet would rather jam it down our throats.

Ignoring the message that voters sent in Massachusetts, and shedding any notion that he intends to be a moderate Democrat, Bennet is leading a pack of liberal senators who want to push through health-care reform using a process known as reconciliation.

How is it possible that Sen. Bennet, yet to receive one vote from a Coloradan, has such a tin ear for what most Coloradans and Americans want?

Under reconciliation, which does away with normal Senate procedures, health care reform needs only a simple majority vote. We editorialized last spring against using reconciliation on this issue and urged congressional leaders to come up with a bipartisan solution. Something of this magnitude, which would make generational changes to our health care system, shouldn't be forced on Americans by one-party rule.

And here's the kicker: Bennet doesn't even have the votes necessary to ram it through on reconciliation.

So why even bring it up?

Bennet's recent actions — from last week's unnecessary nod in favor of a questionable appointee to the national labor board to pushing reconciliation — reek of calculation. Is he so nervous about his primary with Andrew Romanoff that he's looking to curry favor with leftist activists?

When Congressman Jared Polis pitched the idea of reconciliation last month, he won praise from liberal bloggers and activists. But unlike Polis, who's in a safe seat, Bennet — should he survive his primary challenge — will face a statewide electorate that's evenly divided among unaffiliated voters, Democrats and Republicans. Those independents are trending away from Democrats, and this mad dash to the left could haunt him come November.

We have supported the need for comprehensive health care reform, including a public option, which Bennet wants to include in the reconciliation vote. But we also think the health care bill that's hanging by a thread in the Senate is at odds with Bennet's stated goals for reform.

The Senate failed miserably in its goal of reining in our nation's runaway medical costs and instead poisoned the bill with unnecessary deal-making and concessions. We've argued that both of Colorado's senators should reject the bill and start anew, not jam it through.

Bennet in late December made an impassioned speech on the Senate floor about the ugly process and failures of the bill. It was the type of speech a strong, moderate senator from Colorado should give. But then he turned around and voted for the bill.

Perhaps our senator is trying to curry favor with President Obama, who is in town today to raise money for Bennet's campaign. If so, it's a mistake.

Obama doesn't need Bennet to be his defender in chief as much as Colorado needs a centrist, independent senator.

Time is running out for Bennet to fill that role.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

YouTube - Types of Government, Explained

YouTube - Types of Government, Explained - Obama’s Budget Deficit Could be Trillions of Dollars Higher Than CBO’s Outlook, Budget Watchdog Group Says

Obama’s Budget Deficit Could be Trillions of Dollars Higher Than CBO’s Outlook, Budget Watchdog Group Says
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
By Christopher Neefus

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who appeared before the Senate Finance Committee to explain the president's FY 2011 budget, in early February. (AP photo)
( – Republicans railed against the Obama administration last month when the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicted a $6 trillion dollar deficit over the next decade. But an analysis by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB), a taxpayer watchdog group, of President Obama’s proposed budget baseline for fiscal year 2011 points out it actually could spur more like $8.5 trillion in deficits.

Under the president’s budget proposal submitted to Congress, deficits would shrink slowly over much of the next decade, and then would start to grow again.

The deficit peaks at $1.56 trillion in FY 2010, constituting 10.6 percent of GDP); then is projected to drop to $1.27 trillion -- or 8.3 percent of GDP -- in FY 2011; $828 billion (5.1 percent of GDP) in FY 2012 and $727 billion (or 4.2 percent of GDP) in FY 2013. In FY 2016, the deficit begins to grow again in real terms, and as a share of GDP in FY 2019. By FY 2020, the deficit would top $1 trillion.

But the watchdog’s analysis of the Obama budget explains that the White House established a new baseline assumption that would include some provisions from the economic stimulus bill and other tax provisions, causing the further dip into red ink.

“The path we are on is clearly unsustainable,” the group said. “Over 10 years, the president’s budget would result in deficits of $8.5 trillion or 4.5 percent of GDP (Gross Domestic Product). This is a substantial improvement from OMB’s ‘current policy
Baseline’ number of $10.6 trillion, but is far worse than their current law (BEA) baseline deficit of $5.5 trillion, or CBO’s current law baseline estimate of $6.0 trillion,” the CRFB said.

CRFB pointed out that the Obama budget assumes a number of policies will stay in place:

--that the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 will be continued after their expiration date at the end of 2010,

-- that Congress will continue to act as it does annually to revise the Alternative Minimum Tax rate ($678 billion of which they then allow to expire, for
those making over $250,000 a year), to keep more Americans from being exposed to it, and

-- and notably that increased funding for Pell Grants to college students, put in place by the stimulus bill, will remain.

The CRFB report explains that while, at first blush, new proposals put forth by the administration seem to save money over a decade, the plan actually proves to cost trillions more when compared to what current law really is.

“The budget estimates that the proposals would save $2.1 trillion over ten years relative to its ‘current policy’ baseline, but cost $3.1 trillion relative to a current law baseline,” the report said. “The disparity is the result of a large number of policies the president assumes in his baseline which are not, in fact, consistent with current law.”

Aside from increased Pell grants, which would cost $118 billion, several other policies temporarily put forth in the stimulus bill now make their way into the Obama economic baseline. New extensions to unemployment benefits are included as well as increased Medicaid funding (costing about $370 billion) to prevent a 21 percent reduction in Medicare physician payments for the states, which together add another $84 billion dollars in spending.

In addition, when Treasury Secretary Geithner appeared before the Senate Finance Committee on Feb. 3, he told senators that $100 billion more was tagged to be spent in a new stimulus bill that Congress could pass aimed at job creation.

“What the president’s proposed in the budget,” Geithner said, “is to set aside $100 billion on top of some of the extension of measures in the Recovery Act already approved like the extension of unemployment insurance, and I believe the country can afford that, if we design that use of that package sensibly. That will be a good thing not just for growth but for a long-term fiscal position.”

Legislators from both sides of the aisle have made plain that they do not believe the current fiscal path is sustainable, while Republicans have warned against extending any provisions of the stimulus, which was presumably temporary spending.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) told on Jan. 27 that he would support spending cuts to eliminate the $6 trillion deficit projected by the CBO and warned that many lawmakers would balk at the task.

“(T)he reaction to this is going to be, ‘It’s too hard. We can’t do it. It’s too hard. You can’t do it. You can’t do that,’” McCain said.

“To say we can’t do it and it’s too hard neglects the realities of the incredible dramatic increase in spending. Just last year, non-defense discretionary spending increased by 12 percent. It is impossible to keep that up and not destroy our economy,” he told

McCain added to reporters, “With this kind of spending, and this kind of debt that we are amassing, with the Chinese owning hundreds of billions of dollars of U.S. Treasuries (Treasury bonds), we can’t pass on to the next generation of Americans a better nation, a more prosperous one than the one than we inherited.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the top Republican on the Finance Committee, told Geithner during his hearing that making stimulus provisions permanent in the new budget was misleading.

“The stimulus bill was sold as a temporary measure to get the nation through tough times, however, to the surprise of very few, Congress is already being asked to extend the temporary tax and spending provisions in the stimulus bill,” Grassley said.

“It’s kind of like we maybe thought that we bought a pet gecko and we ended up with Godzilla,” he told Geithner. “Well, what we want from you is assurance that this won’t be let loose on the American people.

The administration does make several money-saving and revenue-raising proposals in the new budget, including a “financial crisis” tax on banking institutions that used loans from the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP); a limit on itemized deductions on income taxes, and a $249 billion freeze on non-defense discretionary spending. The proposals, however, are negated by the deficit spending under current law along with the other newly assumed spending in the Obama administration’s baseline.

Obama said in his State of the Union address that he would also use an executive order to create a debt reduction commission that would make recommendations about other ways to reign in deficit spending and pay down the debt. At the time, he said “I refuse to pass this problem on to another generation of Americans.”

In the hearing, Geithner said there was a “good economic case” for the stimulus extensions and said the budget proposal would “begin to put us back to a responsible, sustainable fiscal path.”

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Citizens United and the Restoration of the First Amendment

February 17, 2010
Citizens United and the Restoration of the First Amendment
by Hans A. von Spakovsky
Legal Memorandum #50

If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech.[1]

Abstract: The right to engage in free speech--particularly political speech--and the right to freely associate are two of this nation's most important founding principles. That is why the Supreme Court's recent decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission is so important: It protects these principles against those, including President Barack Obama, who favor a federal ban on independent political advocacy by corporations. Critics of the Citizens United holding justify their opposition with two claims: that the decision will allow foreign corporations to affect American elections and that shareholders must be protected from political expenditures by corporations in which they own shares. Close scrutiny, however, reveals that all of these concerns are, to borrow from Shakespeare, much ado about nothing. Beyond that, the proposed remedies raise serious constitutional concerns.

In the Supreme Court's landmark decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Justice Anthony Kennedy and a majority of the Court upheld some of this nation's most important founding principles: the right to engage in free speech--particularly political speech--and the right to freely associate. Although corporations and unions still cannot contribute directly to political candidates, the Court overturned a federal ban on independent political advocacy by corporations and unions.

Critics of this holding, including President Barack Obama, claim that the decision will "open the floodgates for special interests--including foreign corporations--to spend without limit in our elections"[2] and that shareholders must be protected from political expenditures by corporations in which they own shares. Neither of these criticisms is justified. Foreign nationals, including foreign corporations, are banned from participating directly or indirectly in American elections by federal statute and Federal Election Commission (FEC) regulations. The Citizens United decision did not even consider that ban, let alone overturn it.

Corporate shareholders can already influence the behavior of the corporations in which they own shares through shareholder votes. Moreover, they can vote with their feet by selling their stock and moving on to another company if they disapprove of their corporation's activities.

What is most telling about critics' supposed concern for shareholders' rights, however, is their lack of any parallel concern for union members. Unlike shareholders who can walk out on any company they do not like, many union members cannot simply cancel their membership if they are unhappy with the political expenditure of millions of dollars by their union leadership.

The Citizens United Decision

Citizens United (CU) is a nonprofit corporation that produced a documentary, Hillary: The Movie, that was critical of then-Senator Hillary Clinton when she was a presidential candidate in January 2008. The movie was released in theaters and on DVD, and CU wanted to make it available through video-on-demand to cable subscribers. CU produced several advertisements that it intended to run on broadcast and cable television to promote the film.[3]

As a nonprofit corporation, however, CU was prohibited under the challenged provision from using its general treasury funds to make independent expenditures for political speech defined as an "electioneering communication" or for speech expressly advocating the election or defeat of a candidate for federal office.[4] Pursuant to the challenged statute, such expenditures could be made only through a separate segregated fund or political action committee (PAC) established by the corporation or union that used funds voluntarily donated by stockholders and the executive and administrative personnel of a corporation or the members of a union.[5]

Not only did this ban apply to for-profit corporations, but it also applied to many nonprofit associations on both sides of the political aisle, from the NAACP to the Sierra Club to the National Rifle Association, almost all of which are also corporations. Under penalty of criminal and civil sanctions, those corporate associations were prohibited from expressing their members' views with respect to which particular candidates should be elected to uphold favorable positions on important public policy issues unless they established a separate PAC or could qualify as a Massachusetts Citizens for Life (MCFL)-type corporation, defined as an ideological nonprofit organization that does not accept corporate or labor contributions.[6] The provisions governing PACs and MCFL corporations are so onerous that the Court concluded that they "function as the equivalent of prior restraint" on speech.[7]

The Court threw out the federal ban on independent political advocacy by corporations (and, thus, labor unions and national banks) by overturning its prior decision in Austin v. Michigan State Chamber of Commerce,[8] which had upheld a state ban on independent expenditures by a nonprofit trade association. The Court also overturned part of McConnell v. FEC,[9] which had upheld the "electioneering communications" provision that was added to federal law in 2002 as part of the McCain-Feingold law.

Banning independent political advocacy violates the First Amendment because it effectively limits speech. The Court rejected the idea that the government can decide who gets to speak and that the government can actually impose "federal felony punishment" on some for speaking at all,[10] particularly those who speak through associations of members who share their beliefs.

The Court held that the First Amendment stands against attempts to distinguish among different speakers, which "are all too often simply a means to control content."[11] In so doing, the Court correctly held that the government cannot impose restrictions on certain disfavored speakers such as corporations.[12] The Court also found that First Amendment free speech rights do not depend on a speaker's financial ability to engage in public discussion: The fact that some speakers may have more wealth than others does not diminish their First Amendment rights.[13]

Finally, independent advertisements and expenditures, including "those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption," the basis for upholding other campaign finance restrictions.[14] Speech is an essential mechanism of democracy and the means to hold officials accountable to the people. As such, political speech must prevail against laws that would suppress it.

Foreign Corporations

The claim that foreign corporations will now be able to spend money to influence federal elections is completely false, and there is no need for further legislation on this issue. Federal law bans all foreign nationals from contributing either directly or indirectly to any candidate or political party "in connection with a Federal, State, or local election."[15] It also bans all foreign nationals from making "an expenditure, independent expenditure, or disbursement for an electioneering communication."[16]

Thus, foreign nationals are banned not only from contributing directly to candidates, but also from making any political expenditures of any kind. This ban includes foreign corporations, since the term "foreign nationals" is defined to include individuals, foreign governments, foreign political parties, and corporations "organized under the laws or having [their] principal place of business in a foreign country."[17] The punishment for violating this provision can be severe: In addition to civil penalties, knowing and willful violations that aggregate $2,000 or more in a calendar year can result in up to one year in federal prison, and violations aggregating $25,000 or more can result in up to five years in federal prison.[18]

There is an exemption for foreign nationals who are lawful permanent residents of the United States.[19] The FEC has implemented congressional intent in this exemption with regard to corporations by issuing regulations that allow only American domestic subsidiaries of foreign corporations, not the foreign corporations themselves, to establish PACs. The regulation specifically provides that a "foreign national shall not direct, dictate, control, or directly or indirectly participate in the decision-making process of any person, such as a corporation, labor organization, political committee, or political organization with regard to such person's Federal or non-Federal election-related activities."[20] Such PACs can operate only if their donations and disbursements do "not come from a foreign national" and "no foreign national participates in making decisions" on the PAC's election-related activities.[21] Under current law, there are multiple layers of protection to prevent foreign influence on U.S. elections.

This exemption makes perfect sense. Foreign corporations are prohibited from participating in American elections, but their American subsidiaries that employ American workers, have American officers, and pay American taxes are able to participate in the American election process to the same extent as other companies as long as all of the money comes from, and all of the decisions are made by, Americans.

It is critical to note that the Court did not even review this ban on foreign nationals, specifically saying that it was not considering "the question whether the Government has a compelling interest in preventing foreign individuals or associations from influencing our Nation's political process."[22] So the claim made by President Obama and others that foreign corporations will be able to spend without limit in U.S. elections is incorrect. The ban on direct contributions and independent expenditures by foreign corporations still stands.

The proposal released by Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) on February 11, which would ban corporations from spending money on U.S. elections if they have foreign ownership of more than 20 percent, presents a serious constitutional problem.[23] Since domestic subsidiaries of foreign corporations are already restricted from participating in U.S. elections unless all of the decision making on such expenditures is made by American nationals and all of the funding is generated in the United States, adding a foreign shareholder restriction for all domestic corporations would "only restrict the rights of U.S. nationals to associate for political involvement because of a non-controlling foreign shareholder."[24] Thus, in direct conflict with the Citizens United decision, the political speech of certain Americans (not foreigners) would be restricted.

It should be noted that while foreign shareholders are deemed to be a threat, apparently foreign union members are not. Indeed, there are U.S.-based unions with foreign members, including most prominently the Service Employees International Union, which claims it is "the fastest growing union in North America"--including its members in Canada.[25] And there are many nonprofit organizations like Greenpeace with non-U.S. members who apparently raise no concerns with Members of Congress since they are nowhere mentioned in any of these proposals.


The claim that shareholders of corporations must be "protected" from political expenditures with which they do not agree is equally baseless. The various proposals that are being made to "protect" shareholders are epitomized by a Brennan Center report recommending that federal law be changed to require that corporations obtain the consent of shareholders before making political expenditures and that corporate directors be held personally liable for violating this requirement. Supposedly, this "will empower shareholders to affect how their money is spent. It also may preserve more corporate assets by limiting the spending of corporate money on political expenditures."[26]

The first priority of all business corporations is to sell their goods and services and make a profit. It is highly likely that most businesses will avoid what may be perceived as partisan political activities that could upset their customers and hurt their sales. Corporations may very well speak about government regulations that affect their bottom line, but they should also have the ability to speak when government actions threaten to damage their business and the employment prospects of their employees.

Beyond that, why would the average shareholder want to direct corporate management through specific consent requirements for some expenditures but not for others? Many companies also make charitable donations that shareholders may not favor. In fact, corporate giants like Bank of America, Morgan Chase, and Citigroup infamously donated millions of dollars to ACORN, an organization whose corruption is now legendary. None of the critics of the Citizens United decision seem interested in ensuring that shareholders give their permission before these types of charitable donations are made.

All expenditures made by a corporation can affect its assets, yet there are no proposals to require specific shareholder consent for other types of expenditures. The vast majority of shareholders probably do not want the time-consuming responsibility of approving all of the different types of expenditures made by their companies and also know that shareholder surveys and votes can be very expensive, thereby diminishing corporate assets. If shareholders do want a say in such expenditures, as the Court noted, there is "little evidence of abuse that cannot be corrected by shareholders 'through the procedures of corporate democracy.'"[27]

Moreover, what is especially revealing about these proposals and the supposed deep concern over shareholders' rights is the lack of concern for union members who face a much more difficult dilemma than shareholders. The Brennan Center's 40-page report contains no mention of any need to similarly protect union members. There is apparently no concern whatsoever about empowering union members "to affect how their money is spent."

Despite the tens of millions of dollars individual unions have spent in recent years on political activities, there is also apparently no concern about preserving union "assets by limiting the spending of [union] money on political expenditures." Unlike shareholders who can sell the stock of any company they do not like, many union members cannot simply cancel their membership. Indeed, less than half of the states have right-to-work laws under which workers cannot be forced to join a union.[28] Employees in some national industries like the airline and railway industries are also not protected by right-to-work laws.[29]

Union members do have certain rights under the Supreme Court's decision in Communication Workers v. Beck,[30] but those rights do not include the right to vote on each ad funded by their union. Unions cannot force members to pay the portion of their union dues that would be used for political purposes, but this right is notoriously difficult to enforce by union members that want to opt out of such political expenditures and falls far short of what is being sought for shareholders. For example, there is no secret ballot; union members must publicly declare to the union leadership that they want to exercise their Beck rights. It is also an all-or-nothing proposal; union members cannot object on a case-by-case basis to specific political expenditures that the union leadership wants to make on particular candidates or issues.

Many unions also deliberately make it very difficult for members to exercise these rights, working actively to frustrate and delay compliance, and there is considerable evidence of coercion, threats, ostracism, and abuse of union members who try to opt out.[31] There is a clear dichotomy between the views of union members and their leadership. This is dramatically demonstrated by the fact that "almost two in five union members [of the AFSCME and the AFL-CIO] voted for President George W. Bush in the 2004 election, [yet] both these unions gave over 97 percent of their donations to Democratic candidates."[32] Thus, it is really union members, not corporate shareholders, who are much more in need of a federal law that would force their leaders to get the approval of their members (by secret ballot to avoid intimidation) before making any political expenditures.

This rule would certainly have interesting and potentially complex application to shareholders of media corporations such as the Washington Post Company, which owns a newspaper that constantly engages in political speech opposing and endorsing candidates for federal office. As the Court pointed out, under such a provision, shareholders' disagreement with the political views that a newspaper expresses would give "the Government the authority to restrict the media corporation's political speech. The First Amendment does not allow that power."[33]

It should also be noted that there are proposals being made to bar for-profit corporations that have contracts with the government from making independent political expenditures.[34] Such contractors are already prohibited from making contributions to candidates and political parties.[35] None of those proposals includes unions, such as the American Federation of Government Employees, whose members are federal government employees. These proposals also do not include nonprofit corporations, like Planned Parenthood, that receive millions of dollars in government grants. Any such unions or nonprofit associations would have the same potential conflict of interest as government corporate contractors with regard to the receipt of appropriated funds from Congress.

Moreover, the Supreme Court specifically ruled in Citizens United that independent political expenditures "do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption," which would be the only rational basis for barring such spending by government contractors. Constitutional questions would also be raised by a ban on political speech just because an entity receives public funding,[36] particularly a ban that applies to certain corporations that receive government contracts and benefits but not other corporations and organizations that receive government contracts and benefits.

Much Ado About Nothing

Given that federal law and regulations already ban foreign corporations from participating in American elections, either directly through contributions or indirectly through independent political expenditures, there is no need for further legislation. Some of the proposals being made to restrict domestic corporations that have foreign shareholders also raise other constitutional concerns.[37]

Given the obvious lack of consistency in the claims being advanced on behalf of shareholders and the pointed exclusion of unions and nonprofit associations, it seems clear that these proposals for shareholder "rights" are best suited to the advancement of partisan politics rather than the actual rights of shareholders. There is no need for legislation on behalf of shareholders who are already protected through the shareholder voting process and who can sell the shares of companies whose policies they dislike. All of these concerns are, to borrow from Shakespeare, much ado about nothing.

Hans A. von Spakovsky is a Senior Legal Fellow in the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation and a former commissioner on the Federal Election Commission.

[1]Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. _____ (2010), slip op. at 33.

[2]President Barack Obama, State of the Union (Jan. 27, 2010). This claim was echoed by Rep. John Hall (D-NY), who claimed incorrectly that the decision will allow foreign companies "to spend unlimited amounts of money in U.S. elections." Press Release, Rep. John Hall (Jan. 21, 2010) available at

[3]Citizens United, slip op. at 2-3.

[4]2 U.S.C. § 441b. This prohibition applies to corporations, labor unions, and national banks and also prohibits direct contributions to federal candidates for office. Under 2 U.S.C. § 434(f)(3), an "electioneering communication" is any broadcast, cable, or satellite communication that refers to a clearly identified candidate for federal office even if there is no appeal to vote for or against the candidate that is made within 60 days of a general election or 30 days of a primary and that can be received by 50,000 or more persons. There is an explicit exemption to this prohibition for media corporations broadcasting or printing "any news story, commentary, or editorial" unless the broadcast facility is owned by a political party. See 2 U.S.C. § 431(9)(B). Even though "Hillary: The Movie" did not expressly advocate a vote against Clinton, the Court found that it was "the functional equivalent of express advocacy." Citizens United, slip op. at 8.

[5]2 U.S.C. § 441b(b)(2)-(4).

[6]FEC v. Massachusetts Citizens for Life, 479 U.S. 238 (1986). The Supreme Court held that the federal ban on independent corporate expenditures could not be applied to nonprofit, ideological organizations that do not engage in business activities, have no shareholders, and do not accept corporate or labor union contributions. The FEC has codified this decision in its regulations. See 11 CFR § 114.10. Citizens United could not qualify for the MCFL exemption. Citizens United, slip op. at 10.

[7]Citizens United, slip op. at 18.

[8]494 U.S. 652 (1990).

[9]540 U.S. 93 (2003).

[10]Citizens United, slip op. at 15.

[11]Citizens United, slip op. at 24.

[12]Id. at 26.

[13] 34.

[14] 42.

[15]2 U.S.C. § 441e(a)(1).(A) and (B).

[16]Id. § 441e(a)(1).(C).

[17]22 U.S.C. § 611(b).

[18]2 U.S.C. §§ 437g(d)(1)(A)(i)-(ii) and 437g(d)(1)(D)(i). See alsoU.S. Dep't. of Justice,Federal Prosecution of Election Offenses, 154 (2007).

[19]2 U.S.C. § 441e(b).

[20]11 CFR § 110.20(i).

[21]2006-15, Advisory Op. Federal Election Commission (May 19, 2006). There is a long line of FEC Advisory Opinions on this issue going back to 1978. Id.

[22]Citizens United, slip op. at 47.

[23]See Democrats Push Quick Fixes on Campaign Finance, USA Today, Feb. 11, 2010, available at
-finance/1; Summary of Citizens United Legislation--Introduced by Senator Charles E. Schumer & Congressman Chris Van Hollen, available at This proposal would also ban corporations with a majority of foreign directors on its governing board, but such corporations are already barred by current federal law from making political expenditures.

[24]Press Release, "Citizens United proposals a cynical attempt to corrode First Amendment," Center for Competitive Politics, Feb. 11, 2010, available at

[25]SEIU--Service Employees International Union--Fast Facts, (last visited February 12, 2010). "Any legislation...must apply equally to non-profits with a majority of foreign membership, and to labor unions." Examining the Supreme Court's Decision to Allow Unlimited Corporate Spending in Elections," Hearing before the S. Comm. on Rules and Administration, 111th Cong. 2 (2010) (statement of Stephen M. Hoersting, Vice President, Center for Competitive Politics).

[26]Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, Brennan Center for Justice, Corporate Campaign Spending: Giving Shareholders a Voice, Jan. 27, 2010, at 21. A similar proposal has been offered by Sen. Sherrod Brown in his "Citizens Right to Know Act" that would require shareholders of a corporation to vote to approve political expenditures in advance of spending. Press Release, "Sen. Brown Announces New Bill to Limit Influence of Special Interests in Washington," Feb. 4, 2010, available at

[27]Citizens United, slip op. at 3 (citations omitted).

[28]See Right to Work States, National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, (last visited Feb. 3, 2010).


[30]487 U.S. 735 (1988).

[31]See "Workers' Experiences in Attempting to Exercise Their Rights Under Communications Workers v. Beck and Related Cases," Before the House Comm. on Education and the Workforce, Subcomm. on Workforce Protections, May 10, 2001 (statement of Raymond J. LaJeunesse, Jr., National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation); see also James Sherk, "What Do Union Members Want? What Paycheck Protection Laws Show About How Well Unions Reflect Their Members' Priorities," Heritage Foundation Center for Data Analysis ReportNo. 06-08, August 30, 2006, available at

[32]James Sherk at 3.

[33]Citizens United, slip op. at 46. There is, according to the Court, "little evidence of abuse that cannot be corrected by shareholders 'through the procedures of corporate democracy.'" Id (citations omitted).

[34]See, for example, End Political Kickbacks Act, H.R. 4434, 111th Cong. (2d Sess. 2009). Sen. Schumer and Rep. Van Hollen's legislative proposal would bar government contractors from making political expenditures as well as any corporations that received bailout funding under TARP.

[35]2 U.S.C. § 441c.

[36]See Legal Services Corporation v. Velazquez, 531 U.S. 533 (2001). This decision struck down restrictions on recipients of LSC funds from engaging in efforts to amend or challenge existing welfare laws as a violation of the First Amendment, distinguishing it from Rust v. Sullivan, 500 U.S. 173 (1991), in which the Court upheld a restriction on federally funded family planning clinics discussing abortion. The Court concluded, however, that the Rust counseling activities amounted to governmental speech, sustaining viewpoint-based funding decisions in instances in which the government is itself the speaker or is funding the speaker. Velazquez at 541. See also Rumsfeld v. Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights, 547 U.S. 47 (2006) (federal government can withhold funding from universities that refuse to allow military recruiters on campus because it is regulating conduct, not speech). It would be difficult for Congress to argue that banning all government contractors from engaging in political speech is a necessary function of the government's right to speak. The government can continue to speak on many public policy issues regardless of what others say.

[37]The proposal by Sen. Schumer and Rep. Van Hollen would also require broadcasters to provide candidates with the lowest possible advertising rate to respond to corporate political ads. This raises serious constitutional issues under the Supreme Court's decision in Davis v. Federal Election Commission, 554 U.S. ___ (2008), which overturned the "Millionaires Amendment" in the Federal Election Campaign Act that gave certain candidates higher contribution limits then self-funded opponents.

Mike Thomas: State pensions are budgetary time bombs -

State pensions: Bad deal for public


11:31 p.m. EST, February 13, 2010

If I had my life to live over, I would work for the government.

I would be a bureaucrat, a paper shuffler, a guy who stands behind the counter and gets to you on my own sweet time. Even better, I would be a firefighter. A buddy of mine who has retired from a local department had considered leaving to go to medical school. But because he was smart enough to do it, he was smart enough not to do it.

He decided to stay on, get the pension, start another career, and make just as much money as a doctor with a lot less hassle. Now he's living the dream.

Such is life on a defined pension.

Great deal for the person getting it. Horrible deal for whoever is paying it.

Pension plans helped bring down the auto makers and the airlines. They are budgetary bombs on timers, set to go off on somebody else's watch.

At the end of last year, 92 percent of corporate pension funds were underfunded. And the federal insurer of pension funds was $22 billion in the red.

This is why these pensions are vanishing from corporate America, replaced by savings accounts in which employees take responsibility for their retirement.

But government is slow to change, which is why government is becoming the last bastion of union employees and defined pensions.

The result: California. The Florida Legislature needs to dump our state pension system while there's still time. Government workers can do what the rest of us do: Contribute to a 401(k).

The argument for the old pensions has gone something like this: Our dedicated public servants work for less than what they could get in the private sector. For this sacrifice, the least we can give them is 30 years of carefree living in front of the TV in their bathrobes.

This is laughable.

Most everybody I know in the private sector wishes they worked for the public sector. Why do you think every government-bashing Republican politician out there clings go his government job with a death grip?

Layoffs in the public sector are a third what they are in the private sector, according to University of South Florida economist Chris Edwards. If the people who run this newspaper ran the government, the county administration building would be half empty and production would be up.

Edwards calculates that public sector jobs pay, on average, 34 percent more than private jobs. For Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer's staff, it's 134 percent.

Workers in the private sector work 12 percent more hours a year than public workers.

Did you get Presidents' Day off? Columbus Day?

For regular Orange County employees, you pay an additional 10 percent of their salary to cover their pensions. For firefighters, deputies and prison guards, you pay an additional 21 percent.

For politicians, you pay 16 percent.

The total pension tab for Orange County taxpayers this year: $45 million.

A regular employee for Orange County can retire after 30 years with about half his salary and an annual 3 percent bump. He can stay with the county health insurance program, and get $150 a month to help pay the premium.

A firefighter or deputy can retire after 25 years with 75 percent of his or her salary.

Do not blame Orange County for this. Its employees come under the state pension fund, which the county is obligated to participate in. Known as the Florida Retirement System, it covers all county employees, state employees and teachers.

Every year, the state assesses the amount of money in the fund. It calculates how much it must pay out, and how much it is making on investments. And then it sets the contribution level for that year and the counties must pay.

With one crash of the stock market, the fund can go from fat and overfunded to depleted and underfunded. At one point in 2008, the fund only held 78 cents for every dollar it was obligated to pay. Rising stock values have made for a better outlook, but this gives you an idea of the vulnerability.

We are sitting on fissionable material. If the stock market went into a long-term funk, the state still would be obligated to pay the pensions. We would be in a multibillion-dollar hole with massive tax increases the only way to plug it.

This is far too great a risk to have hanging over our heads. It's time to spread it out to the individual employees. Let them watch CNBC and learn about the real world.

Some cities, which aren't in the state pension system, have realized this. Orlando used to pay medical coverage for retirees in addition to a lucrative pension. Now the city has moved to more of a 401(k) pension system.

Now it's time for the state to do likewise with all employees, including the politicians.

Mike Thomas can be reached at 407-420-5525 or

RealClearPolitics - Politicians Taking Away Your Freedom

February 16, 2010
Politicians Taking Away Your Freedom
By Thomas Sowell

If eternal vigilance is the price of freedom, incessant distractions are the way that politicians take away our freedoms, in order to enhance their own power and longevity in office. Dire alarms and heady crusades are among the many distractions of our attention from the ever increasing ways that government finds to take away more of our money and more of our freedom.

Magicians have long known that distracting an audience is the key to creating the illusion of magic. It is also the key to political magic.

Alarms ranging from "overpopulation" to "global warming" and crusades ranging from "affordable housing" to "universal health care" have been among the distractions of political magicians. But few distractions have had such a long and impressive political track record as getting people to resent and, if necessary, hate other people.

The most politically effective totalitarian systems have gotten people to give up their own freedom in order to vent their resentment or hatred at other people-- under Communism, the capitalists; under Nazis, the Jews.

Under extremist Islamic regimes today, hatred is directed at the infidels in general and the "great Satan," the United States, in particular. There some people have been induced to give up not only their freedom but even their lives, in order to strike a blow against those they have been taught to hate.

We have not yet reached these levels of hostility, but those who are taking away our freedoms, bit by bit, on the installment plan, have been incessantly supplying us with people to resent.

One of the most audacious attempts to take away our freedom to live our lives as we see fit has been the so-called "health care reform" bills that were being rushed through Congress before either the public or the members of Congress themselves had a chance to discover all that was in it.

For this, we were taught to resent doctors, insurance companies and even people with "Cadillac health insurance plans," who were to be singled out for special taxes. Meanwhile, our freedom to make our own medical decisions-- on which life and death can depend-- was to be quietly taken from us and transferred to our betters in Washington. Only the recent Massachusetts election results have put that on hold.

Another dangerous power toward which we are moving, bit by bit, on the installment plan, is the power of politicians to tell people what their incomes can and cannot be. Here the resentment is being directed against "the rich."

The distracting phrases here include "obscene" wealth and "unconscionable" profits. But, if we stop and think about it-- which politicians don't expect us to-- what is obscene about wealth? Wouldn't we consider it great if every human being on earth had a billion dollars and lived in a place that could rival the Taj Mahal?

Poverty is obscene. It is poverty that needs to be reduced--and increasing a country's productivity has done that far more widely than redistributing income by targeting "the rich."

You can see the agenda behind the rhetoric when profits are called "unconscionable" but taxes never are, even when taxes take more than half of what someone has earned, or add much more to the prices we have to pay than profits do.

The assumption that what A pays B is any business of C is an assumption that means a dangerous power being transferred to politicians to tell us all what incomes we can and cannot receive. It will not apply to everyone all at once. Like the income tax, which at first applied only to the truly rich, and then slowly but steadily moved down the income scale to hit the rest of us, the power to say what incomes people can be allowed to make will inevitably move down the income scale to make us all dependents and supplicants of politicians.

The phrase "public servants" is increasingly misleading. They are well on their way to becoming public masters-- like aptly named White House "czars." The more they can get us all to resent those they designate, the more they can distract us from their increasing control of our own lives-- but only if we sell our freedom cheap. We can sell our birthright and not even get the mess of pottage.

Copyright 2010, Creators Syndicate Inc.


By Neal Boortz
@ February 17, 2010 8:36 AM

John Stossel pointed out this quote from a union official in New York. It really highlights the essence of union mentality, particularly the ever-growing government union mentality.

Albany Police Officers Union President Chris Mesley says that, regardless of the faltering economy, a no-raise new contract is unacceptable.

And to hell with the public.

"I'm not running a popularity contest here," Mesley said. "If I'm the bad guy to the average citizen . . . and their taxes have go up to cover my raise, I'm very sorry about that, but I have to look out for myself and my membership."

Mesley added: "As the president of the local, I will not accept 'zeroes.' If that means . . . ticking off some taxpayers, then so be it."

Do you remember what I told you yesterday? I shamelessly stole material from a Minneapolis Star-Tribune opinion piece to explain the difference between government and private-sector unions. Here's your rehash:

Private Sector Unions
Union members know that if their demands are unreasonable they could cause the financial collapse of their employer. Managers know that if they give too much to the unions the business may not survive. Each side has a survival instinct to address.

Government Employee Unions
Union members know that no matter what sort of grand contract they negotiate, their employer, the government, will be able to pay the tab. This is because government doesn't have to make a profit to operate. Government only needs the power to seize money from the taxpayers. Likewise, government leaders know that they can give the unions almost any concession because of their ability to seize the needed funds through taxation. There's one more advantage for government employee unions: They participate in the process of choosing the very politicians they're going to negotiate for more wages and benefits. Sweeeeeeet.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Moving Around: Where taxpayers moved in 2007, 2008 | INFORUM | Fargo, ND

Published February 14 2010
Moving Around: Where taxpayers moved in 2007, 2008
Where taxpayers moved to and moved from in the 50 states, from 2007 to 2008, according to an Associated Press analysis of Internal Revenue Service data:

By: Associated Press,

Where taxpayers moved to and moved from in the 50 states, from 2007 to 2008, according to an Associated Press analysis of Internal Revenue Service data:

# Alabama: Net gain of 6,352 households. Biggest gains came from Florida and Michigan.

# Alaska: Net loss of 849 households. Biggest losses went to Washington State and Oregon.

# Arizona: Net gain of 20,300 households. Biggest gains came from California and Michigan.

# Arkansas: Net gain of 3,253 households. Biggest gains came from California and foreigners.

# California: Net loss of 19,680 households. Biggest losses went to Texas and Arizona.

# Colorado: Net gain of 17,583 households. Biggest gains came from California and Michigan.

# Connecticut: Net loss of 6,158 households. Biggest losses went to Florida and North Carolina.

# Delaware: Net gain of 1,946 households. Biggest gains came from Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

# Florida: Net loss of 3,591 households. Biggest losses went to Georgia and North Carolina.

# Georgia: Net gain of 37,559 households. Biggest gains came from Florida and New York

# Hawaii: Net gain of 646 households. Biggest gains came from Michigan and California.

# Idaho: Net gain of 3,836 households. Biggest gains came from California and Nevada.

# Illinois: Net loss of 9,888 households. Biggest losses went to Texas and Indiana.

# Indiana: Net loss of 1,344 households. Biggest losses went to Texas and Tennessee.

# Iowa: Net gain of 1,472 households. Biggest gains came from foreigners.

# Kansas: Net loss of 473 households. Biggest losses went to Oklahoma and Colorado.

# Kentucky: Net gain of 4,424 households. Biggest gains came from Ohio and Michigan.

# Louisiana: Net gain of 4,987 households. Biggest gains came from foreigners.

# Maine: Net loss of 712 households. Biggest losses went to Florida and California.

# Maryland: Net loss of 8,167 households. Biggest losses went to North Carolina and Virginia.

# Massachusetts: Net loss of 3,788 households. Biggest losses went to Florida and California.

# Michigan: Net loss of 37,370 households. Biggest losses went to Florida and Texas.

# Minnesota: Net loss of 3,124 households. Biggest losses went to Texas and Arizona.

# Mississippi: Net gain of 1,007 households. Biggest gains came from Tennessee and foreigners.

# Missouri: Net gain of 109 households. Biggest gains came from foreigners.

# Montana: Net gain of 2,072 households. Biggest gains from California and Michigan.

# Nebraska: Net loss 1,667 households. Biggest losses went to Texas and Colorado.

# Nevada: Net gain of 9,329 households. Biggest gains came from California and Michigan.

# New Hampshire: Net loss of 1,147 households. Biggest losses went to Florida and North Carolina.

# New Jersey: Net loss of 19,285 households. Biggest losses went to Florida and Pennsylvania.

# New Mexico: Net gain of 630 households. Biggest gains came from California and foreigners.

# New York: Net loss of 28,376 households. Biggest losses went to Florida and North Carolina.

# North Carolina: Net gain of 40,995 households. Biggest gains came from Florida and New York.

# North Dakota: Net loss of 90 households. Biggest losses went to Colorado and Texas.

# Ohio: Net loss of 20,575 households. Biggest losses went to Florida and Texas.

# Oklahoma: Net gain of 2,988 households. Biggest gains came from California and foreigners.

# Oregon: Net gain of 10,728 households. Biggest gains came from California and foreigners.

# Pennsylvania: Net loss of 5,472 households. Biggest losses went to North Carolina and Florida.

# Rhode Island: Net loss of 3,374 households. Biggest losses went to Massachusetts and Florida.

# South Dakota: Net gain of 1,037 households. Biggest gains came from Iowa and Minnesota.

# South Carolina: Net gain of 20,482 households. Biggest gains came from Florida and New York.

# Tennessee: Net gain of 12,961 households. Biggest gains came from Florida and Michigan.

# Texas: Net gain of 62,827 households. Biggest gains came from California and foreigners.

# Utah: Net gain 6,097 households. Biggest gains came from California and foreigners.

# Vermont: Net loss of 1,356 households. Biggest losses went to North Carolina and California.

# Virginia: Net gain of 5,210 households. Biggest gains came from Maryland and New York.

# Washington: Net gain of 18,029 households. Biggest gains came from California and foreigners.

# West Virginia: Net gain of 1,291 households. Biggest gains came from Maryland and Virginia.

# Wisconsin: Net loss of 4,809 households. Biggest losses went to Texas and Minnesota.

# Wyoming: Net gain of 1,922 households. Biggest gains came from Michigan and California.

Sources: AP analysis of IRS data

Monday, February 15, 2010

New coal plant equal to 2,000+ wind turbines | Face the State

New coal plant equal to 2,000+ wind turbines

August 13, 2009

Face The State Staff Report

As the Comanche unit 3 coal plant near Pueblo (CO) is scheduled to start commercial operation this fall, utilities are also seeking ways to comply with a 2004 ballot measure that requires 20 percent of the state's electricity to come from "renewable" sources. A Face The State analysis explores the relative power of Comanche versus two large wind and solar projects.

In 2004, Colorado voters approved a statewide renewable energy requirement that mandates top utility companies to provide an increasing percentage of their retail electricity sales from renewable sources. Xcel Energy, the state's largest utility, already gets 10 percent of its power from renewable sources and must reach 20 percent by 2020. Meanwhile, Xcel began constructing the new coal-fired electric generating unit in January of 2006. It was Xcel's first new coal plant in nearly 30 years, and will likely be the company's last in Colorado. When the Comanche 3 unit is complete, the site will provide enough electricity for about one third of Colorado’s communities. The plant is also designed to serve as 24-hour backup to less consistent renewable sources.

Environmentalists have come out strong against Comanche 3's construction. WildEarth Guardians has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court, asking the judge to order Xcel to stop construction on the Comanche 3 unit. They argue that coal-fired plants produce unacceptable levels of greenhouse gases, endangering the environment.

WildEarth's objections and those of other environmental groups aren't likely to stop Comanche 3 from coming online. But what would it take in green energy terms to replace its output with wind or solar power?

Democrat Gov. Bill Ritter has made his "new energy economy" a policy centerpiece since taking office in 2007. He praised SunEdison for building a solar plant in Alamosa and BP America for constructing a wind farm in Weld County. These projects have taken advantage of generous government subsidies, and feed into the state's grid to help Xcel and other utilities meet their Constitutional mandate.

While solar and wind power are cleaner, they are not cheap and demand a larger geographic footprint than more traditional sources and other alternatives like nuclear. Face The State's analysis shows how the PV solar plant in Alamosa and the Cedar Creek wind farm in Weld County stack up to the the energy production of the Comanche 3 coal plant.

Comanche 3 is expected to generate 750 Megawatts of power at peak output (a Mw is a unit of power representing 1 million watts.) A standard light bulb is 100 watts, while a hair dryer or toaster demand around 1,000 watts. To generate as much power as the 750Mw Comanche plant, SunEdison would need 92 plants like the one in Alamosa operating constantly in prime conditions - with 24 hours of sunlight every day. The plant of course won't operate at night, and due to the earth's rotation around the sun produces less in the winter. Put another way, SunEdison expects to produce 17,000 Killowatt hours from the project per year, a Kw hour being 1,000 watts delivered to a retail user for 1 hour. Comparatively, Comanche 3 will produce energy 24 hours a day, and up to 18,000KwHr in one day, more than the expected yearly output of the SunEdison solar plant. In order for SunEdison to match the maximum output of Comanche 3, it would need to install 386 solar plants covering 30,720 acres, or 48 square miles.

Like the sun, wind has varying degrees of intensity. To compensate for this, industry standards dictate that it would take three wind farms spread out around the state to ensure continuous energy production. To match Comanche 3's output, the consortium behind the farm would need to more than double the size of the current Cedar Creek installation and build two more just like it in other parts of the state. That would total 2,051 wind turbines operating on 240,000 acres, or 375 square miles.

To provide constant output to match retail demand, each watt of energy produced by renewable resources needs to be backed up by a secondary source, like coal or natural gas. Comanche 3 is designed to meet this backup need as Xcel takes older plants offline and replaces these sources in part with renewables.

The numbers:

Comanche Unit 3 coal power plant - Xcel Energy, rural electric co-ops
Maximum output: 750Mw
Cost: $1.3 billion
Location: near Pueblo
Cost per Mw: $1.73 million

Photovoltaic Power Plant - SunEdison
Maximum output: 8.2 Mw
Cost: $60 million
Acreage: 80 acres
Location: Alamosa
Cost per Mw: $7.3 million

Cedar Creek wind farm
Joint venture between the investment firm Babcock & Brown and BP America
Maximum output: 300.5 Mw
Number of turbines: 274
Cost: $480 million
Acreage: 32,000 acres
Location: North-central Weld County, 8 miles east of Grover
Cost per Mw: $1.6 million

Declaration of Health Care Independence

Declaration of Health Care Independence

In order to retain the Blessings of Liberty as secured to us by our Founding Fathers and as expressed in our Constitution, We the People reject the imposition upon us of a new, Washington-controlled system of government-run health care. We demand Constitutional protection of the right to make our own health decisions and our own health care choices free of government denials, bureaucratic red tape and greater intergenerational debt.

A Washington takeover of American health care will:

* Deny fundamental personal and economic liberties and indisputably violate the Principle of Limited Government as established by the Constitution;
* Impose increased costs and taxes upon individuals, families and businesses, as well as taxpayers at the federal, state and local levels;
* Irreparably cripple the American economy, at the cost of jobs, businesses, productivity, and quality of life;
* Create an inescapable new tax by imposing individual and employer mandates;
* Institutionalize a massive, ever-expanding federal bureaucracy that is impersonal and impractical;
* Empower bureaucrats to interfere in the doctor-patient relationship, undermine the quality of care, limit choice, and increase the cost of health care.

We have appealed to the decency of the elected majority to respect the rights of all Americans, but their leaders have been deaf to the Voice of the People. We are appalled by their cavalier disregard of the Constitution and of the demands of the People. We are repulsed by their blatant political bribes and kickbacks.

We, the People and Representatives of the United States of America, therefore, do solemnly Publish and Declare that health care reform, as a matter of principle, must:

* Protect as inviolate the vital doctor-patient relationship;
* Reject any addition to the crushing national debt heaped upon all Americans;
* Improve, rather than diminish, the quality of care that Americans enjoy;
* Be negotiated publicly, transparently, with genuine accountability and oversight;
* Treat private citizens at least as well as political officials;
* Protect taxpayers from funding of abortion and abortion coverage;
* Reject all new mandates on patients, employers, individuals, or states;
* Prohibit expansion of taxpayer-funded health care to those unlawfully present in the United States;
* Guarantee Equal Protection under the law and the Constitution;
* Empower, rather than limit, an open and accessible marketplace of health care choice and opportunity.

This document was prepared by Rep. Michelle Bachmann and has been signed by at least 100 members of the Congress to date. If you agree with this Declaration of Health Care Independence, please let your elected officials know by adding your name to the petition.

U.S. has best health care in world | Charlottesville Daily Progress

U.S. has best health care in world
Walter F. Johnson Albemarle County
Published: February 13, 2010
Updated: February 14, 2010

Every fact and statistic requires a comprehensive evaluation and consideration, including its possible effects to the total area within which it applies, before it can be effectively understood.

Of current major civic subjects, national health care is near the top of the list. Here are some facts warranting understanding:

As recently published by Investor Business Daily, a survey by the U.N. International Health Organization has reported:

Percentage of men and women who survived a cancer five years after diagnosis: U.S. 65 percent, Eng-land 46 percent, Canada 42 percent.

Percentage of patients diagnosed with diabetes who received treatment within six months: U.S. 93 percent, England 15 percent, Canada 43 percent.

Percentage of seniors needing hip replacement who received it within six months: U.S. 90 percent, England 15 percent, Canada 43 percent.

Percentage referred to a medical specialist who see one within one month: U.S. 77 percent, England 40 percent, Canada 43 percent.

Number of MRI scanners (a prime diagnostic tool) per million people: U.S. 71, England 14, Canada 18.

Percentage of seniors (65 and older) with low income who say they are in “excellent health”: U.S. 12 percent, England 2 percent, Canada 6 percent.
The initial conclusion from this report is that the U.S. has the best health care in the world. But cost and availability remain problems.

Released from many of the existing government restrictions and controls, these can most rapidly be improved by private enterprise, where there are the profit incentive and the threat of failure.

Health care will only be damaged, as a Wall Street Journal opinion piece said, “through central planning and price controls that would limit access to care” (“No Bed-Wetting,” Jan. 26).

Utah delivers vote of no confidence for 'climate alarmists' | Environment | The Guardian

Utah delivers vote of no confidence for 'climate alarmists'

The US's most Republican state passes bill disputing science of climate change, claiming emissions are 'essentially harmless'

Carbon dioxide is "essentially harmless" to human beings and good for plants. So now will you stop worrying about global warming?

Utah's House of Representatives apparently has at least. Officially the most Republican state in America, its political masters have adopted a resolution condemning "climate alarmists", and disputing any scientific basis for global warming.

The measure, which passed by 56-17, has no legal force, though it was predictably claimed by climate change sceptics as a great victory in the wake of the controversy caused by a mistake over Himalayan glaciers in the UN's landmark report on global warming.

But it does offer a view of state politicians' concerns in Utah which is a major oil and coal producing state.

The original version of the bill dismissed climate science as a "well organised and ongoing effort to manipulate and incorporate "tricks" related to global temperature data in order to produce a global warming outcome". It accused those seeking action on climate change of riding a "gravy train" and their efforts would "ultimately lock billions of human beings into long-term poverty".

In the heat of the debate, the representative Mike Noel said environmentalists were part of a vast conspiracy to destroy the American way of life and control world population through forced sterilisation and abortion.

By the time the final version of the bill came to a vote, cooler heads apparently prevailed. The bill dropped the word "conspiracy", and described climate science as "questionable" rather than "flawed".

However, it insisted – against all evidence – that the hockey stick graph of changing temperatures was discredited. It also called on the federal government's Environmental Protection Agency to order an immediate halt in its moves to regulate greenhouse gas emissions "until a full and independent investigation of climate data and global warming science can be substantiated".

As Noel explained: "Sometimes ... we need to have the courage to do nothing."

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Chrysler’s Railroad: Why is CNN,ABC,CBS,NBC so quiet on this? | Republic Broadcasting Network

Why is CNN,ABC,CBS,NBC so quiet on this?

This could be a scandal of epic proportions and one that makes Nixon’s Watergate or Clinton’s Monica Lewinsky affair pale by comparison. Why was there neither rhyme nor reason as to which dealerships of the Chrysler Corporation were to be closed?

Roll the clock back to the weeks just before Chrysler declared bankruptcy. Chrysler, like GM, was in dire financial straights and federal government graciously offered to “buy the company” and keep them out of bankruptcy and “save jobs.” Chrysler was, in the words of Obama and his administration, “Too big to fail,” same story with GM.

The feds organized their “Automotive Task Force” to fix Chrysler and GM. Obama, in an act that is 100% unconstitutional, appointed a guy named Steve Rattner to be the White House’s official Car Czar- literally, that’s what his title is. Rattner is the liaison between Obama, Chrysler, and GM.

Initially, the national media reported that Chrysler had made this list of dealerships. That is not true. The Washington Examiner, Newsmax, Fox News and a host of other news agencies discovered that the list of dealerships was put together by the “Automotive Task Force” headed by no one other then Mr. Steve Rattner. Now the plot thickens. Remember earlier we said that there was neither rhyme nor reason why certain dealerships were closed?

Actually there’s a very interesting pattern as to who was closed down. Again, on May 27, 2009, The Washington Examiner and Newsmax exposed the connection. Amazingly, of the 789 dealerships closed by the federal government 788 had donated money, exclusively, to Republican political causes, while contributing nothing to Democratic political causes. The only “Democratic” dealership on the list was found to have donated $7,700 to Hillary’s campaign, and a bit over $2,000 to John Edwards. This same dealership, reportedly, also gave $200.00 to Obama’s campaign. Does that seem a little odd to you?

Steve Rattner, the guy who put the list together. Well he happens to be married to a babe named Maureen White. Maureen happens to be the former national finance chairman of the Democratic National Committee. As such, she would have access to campaign donation records from everyone in the nation, Republican or Democrat. But of course, this is just a wacky coincidence, we’re certain.

Then comes another really wacky coincidence. On that list of dealerships being closed down, a weird thing happed in Arkansas, North Louisiana, and Southern Missouri. It seems that Bill Clinton’s former White House Chief of Staff, Mack McClarty, owns a chain of dealership in that region, partnered with a fellow by the name of Robert Johnson. Johnson happens to be founder of Black Entertainment Television and was a huge Obama supporter and financier.

These guys own a half dozen Chrysler stores under the company title of RLJ-McClarty-Landers. Interestingly, none of their dealerships were ordered closed – not one- while all of their competing Chrysler/Dodge and Jeep dealership were! Eight dealerships located near the dealerships owned by McClarty and Johnson were ordered shut down.

Thus, by pure luck, these two major Obama supporters now have virtual monopoly on Chrysler sales in their zone. Isn’t that amazing? Go look in The Washington Examiner, the story’s there, and it’s in a dozen or so other web-based news organization, this isn’t being made up.

Now if you thought Chrysler was owned by Fiat, you are truly mistaken. Under the federal court ruling, 65% of Chrysler is now owned by the federal government and the United Auto Worker’s union- Fiat owns 20%. The other 15% is till privately owned and presumably will be traded on the stock market. Obama smiles and says he doesn’t want to run the auto industry.

As horrifying as this is to comprehend, and being as how this used to be the United States of America, it would appear that the president has the power to destroy private businesses and eliminate upwards of 100,000 jobs, just because they don’t agree with his political agenda.

This is Nazi Germany stuff, and it’s happening right here, right now, in your back yard. There are voices in Washington demanding an explanation, but the “Automotive Task Force” has released no information to the public or any of the senators demanding answers for what has been done. Keep your ear to the ground for more on this story. If you’ve ever wanted to make a difference about anything in your life, get on the phone to your national Senator or Representative in the House and demand an investigation on this.

Benjamin Franklin had it right when he said, “All that’s necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”

Car Czar No More

An amazing thing happed as this story was going to press. Obama’s Car Czar, Steve Rattner, resigned on July 13 and was promptly replaced by former steel workers union boss Ron Bloom.

According to CBS News, Rattner left “to return to private life and spend time with his family.” Treasure Secretary Tim Geithner said, “I hope that he takes another opportunity to bring his unique skills to government service in the future.”

By the way, Rattner is under investigation for a multi-million dollar pay-to-play investment bank scandal in New York. Uh-oh! But, we’re certain that had nothing to do with his resignation. And, according to several news sources out there, there are rumors he’s being investigated for what could be pay-to-play scandal involving the closing of Chrysler and GM dealerships.


Again, that couldn’t have anything to with his resignation- that’s ridiculous!

Like CBS said, this guy just wants to spend more quality time with his family. Obama has thirty-two personally appointed “czars” that answer to no one but him, all of whom are acting without any Constitutional authority.

But hey, we’re sure they all have “unique skills,” as Tim Geithner likes to say

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Military Tribunal

I heard a interesting explanation the other day from a retired fighter jock at the Naval Air Museum. I had not heard this before. He said the reason Obama wants a civil trial for the 9/11 terrorists, is that if was held in a Military Tribunal Court, he, as Commander-in-Chief would have to sign the order of execution and does not want his signature on such a order to kill a fellow Muslim. Something to think about.

Personally, I think he is a Closet Muslim and does not want to offend Allah.
For what it's worth.

RealClearPolitics - Elitist Theories Show Lack of Common Sense

February 11, 2010
Elitist Theories Show Lack of Common Sense
By Victor Davis Hanson

What's behind the Tea Party protests, low approval ratings for Congress, distrust of the media and unease with experts in the Obama administration?

In short, a growing anger at the sermonizing and condescension by many of America's elites.

We see this specifically, for example, in the debate over global warming, which a year ago was accepted as gospel.

The high profile of prestigious scientists, former public officials like Al Gore and Van Jones, and the Obama administration all made impending cap-and-trade legislation seem likely. Skeptics were derided as "deniers" and virtual know-nothings.

But then the assertion of manmade climate change met a perfect storm.

First, several high academic priests of global warming were discredited. Leaked e-mails at East Anglia University in the United Kingdom revealed doctored evidence, personal vendettas and cover-ups among scientists.

More recently, the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change admitted it had relied on faulty information, leading it to make inflated claims on impending manmade warming disasters involving Himalayan glaciers.

These exposes dovetailed with a series of unconnected events that further undermined the climate-change diktat.

Many of the most prominent green advocates either seemed hypocritical or downright crazy. Al Gore, for example, has earned much of his new fortune from his supposedly disinterested public service to the green cause, and yet habitually leaves a carbon footprint like few others on the planet.

The president's own "green jobs" official, Van Jones, it was revealed, had signed a "truther" petition stating that the U.S. government had planned 9/11. His credibility shot, Jones had to resign.

Then there was the uncooperative weather itself. Environmental grandees jetted into frigid Copenhagen to discuss planet warming. Meanwhile, back in the U.S., portions of a very cold East Coast have been blanketed with unprecedented snowfall levels - at a time when the public is supposed to be concerned that temperatures are unseasonably warming.

Other conventional wisdom from supposed experts has also been questioned. Take the model of the European Union.

After the September 2008 American financial panic, European diplomats and intellectuals lectured Americans on the evils of unfettered capitalism and the superiority of their statist model. The strong euro and steady expansion of the EU had convinced many that their soft socialism was the only way of the future.

But European prosperity was, in fact, heavily subsidized by decades of free protection by the U.S. military. Meanwhile, aristocratic bureaucrats in Brussels were increasingly not accountable to their skeptical continental constituents - and seemed terrified of popular referenda from member states on the EU constitution.

And now? Several EU nations like Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal face financial implosions - brought on by unsustainable government spending, out-of-control pensions and endemic tax cheating. The euro is falling fast. Bondholders of European debt are jittery. Now, northwestern countries like Germany and France - despite their own budget problems - may have to bailout Greece.

Yet, in 2009, the American binge of massive spending and borrowing, expansion of government, and new proposed taxes followed the model of the supposedly superior European system. But for all the massive new debt, unemployment here remains high and the economy still sluggish.

The Obama administration came into office also convinced of another theory popular among many intellectuals, lawyers and members of the media - that the so-called "war on terror" had degenerated into a Bush administration overreaction to 9/11. Obama's anti-terrorism czar, John Brennan, lambasted the past anti-terrorism nomenclature and the methods of the very administration he used to work for.

President Obama promised to close Guantanamo Bay. Rendition, military tribunals and Predator drone attacks at one time or another were caricatured as unnecessary or counterproductive. Even the name "war on terror" was dropped for kindler, gentler euphemisms.

"Outreach" and "reset" with the Islamic world became instead the talking points. Highly educated experts had to explain to those of us who are less sophisticated that the real dangers were Guantanamo Bay and the waterboarding of a few terrorist detainees rather than the need to detain and interrogate actual terrorists.

And now? After the mass murdering at Fort Hood, the Christmas Day bombing plot, the popular outrage over offering a civilian trial in New York to the architect of 9/11, and the snubbing of American outreach by a soon-to-be-nuclear Iran, there's less reason than ever to accept a therapeutic approach to dealing with radical Islamic terrorism.

There is an unfocused but growing anger in the country -- and it should come as no surprise. Nobody likes to be lectured by those claiming superior wisdom but often lacking common sense about everything from out-of-control spending and predicting the weather to dealing with enemies who are trying to kill us all.

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and author, most recently, of "A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War." You can reach him by e-mailing