http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444032404578008291279754994.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_AboveLEFTTopNow that Chicago's children have returned to not learning in school...* FUNNY LINE. THE PROBLEM... IT'S TRUE....we can all move on to the next crisis in Illinois public finance: unfunded public pensions.(*PURSED LIPS*)Readers who live in the other 49 states will be pleased to learn that Governor Pat Quinn's 2012 budget proposal already floated the idea of a federal guarantee of its pension debt.Illinois now has some $8 billion in current debts outstanding and taxpayers are on the hook for more than $200 billion in unfunded retirement costs for government workers. For years, states have engaged in elaborate accounting tricks to improve appearances, including using an unrealistically high 8% "discount" rate to account for future liabilities. To make that fairy tale come true, state pension funds would have to average returns of 8% a year, which even the toothless Government Accounting Standards Board and Moody's have said are unrealistic.For decades, Democrats have bought union support in elections by using surplus revenue during good times to pad pension and retiree health-care benefits. Look no further than the recent Chicago teachers strike. The city is already facing upwards of a $1 billion deficit next year with hundreds of millions of dollars in annual pension costs for retired teachers coming due. But despite the fiscal imperatives, the negotiation didn't even discuss pensions. (*PURSED LIPS*)The final deal gave unions a more than 17% raise over four years, while they keep benefits and pensions that workers in the wealth-creating private economy can only imagine.* AND THIS IS WHERE A BAILOUT WOULD COME IN, FOLKS... WHEN THE HOUSE OF CARDS THE POLTICIANS DELIBERATELY CREATED COLLAPSES.As a political matter, public unions are pursuing a version of the GM strategy: Never make a concession at the state level, figuring that if things get really bad the federal government will have no political choice but to bail out the pensions if not the entire state. Mr. Quinn made that official by pointing out in his budget proposal that "significant long-term improvements" in the state pension debt will come from "seeking a federal guarantee of the debt."Look for Democrats in Washington to take up that call, and for such an effort to get some traction if Democrats control one or both houses of Congress next year.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444620104578006173214696856.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_AboveLEFTTopOn Wednesday, John Kerry threatened to cut U.S. aid to Baghdad unless the Iraqi government blocks overflights of Iranian planes suspected of ferrying military supplies to Damascus. But Baghdad isn't budging. Welcome to the post-American Middle East, Senator."If so many people have entreated the [Iraqi] government to stop and that doesn't seem to be having an impact," said the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at a confirmation hearing for the new U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, then it "seems to send a signal to me maybe we should make some of our assistance or some of our support contingent on some kind of appropriate response."The nominee, current Baghdad chargé d'affaires Robert Beecroft, agreed, saying he has "made it very clear that we find this unacceptable."* BY THE WAY, FOLKS... JUST TO THROW THIS OUT... HOW MANY OF YOU READING THIS WERE AWARE THAT OUR "ALLY" IRAQ WAS ALLOWING OUR "ENEMY" IRAN TO SUPPLY OUR "ENEMY" ASSAD? "Unacceptable" is a word the Administration often uses about behavior it doesn't like but isn't prepared to do much to stop: Think massacres in Syria, warfare in Sudan, mob violence against our embassies — or a nuclear Iran. What goes in Iraq goes as well in the broader Middle East, from Tunisia to Afghanistan. The Administration has repeatedly made it clear that it wants to downsize its commitments to the region, as part of its "pivot" to Asia. But now it wonders why our entreaties in Baghdad (and Cairo) keep falling on deaf ears. Or why jihadists would plan to murder a U.S. Ambassador on the anniversary of 9/11 in Libya, a country we helped to liberate but have since ignored. (*PURSED LIPS*)Having first blamed the attack on the "spontaneous" reaction to a YouTube film, even the Administration has now had to admit it was a terrorist attack. One question Congress should ask is why the White House didn't act to protect or rescue the Ambassador when news reports now say it was warned that an attack could happen.* OH, PLEASE... CONGRESS... (*SNORT*) * NEXT THE JOURNAL IS GONNA WONDER WHY THE MEDIA HAS IGNORED THE INCOMPETENCE OF THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION!
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444165804578008413907642282.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTopWhen Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan address the AARP on Friday, good manners will no doubt keep them from asking this question: How can that lobby claim to speak for American seniors given its partisan role in passing ObamaCare?* NO. NOT "GOOD MANNERS." COWARDESS. INCOMPETENCE. LACK OF GOOD JUDGMENT. (*SIGH*) LET'S HOPE THE AUTHOR IS WRONG AND THAT ROMNEY AND RYAN DO ADDRESS THE FOLLOWING:Thanks to just-released emails from the House Energy and Commerce Committee, we now know that AARP worked through 2009-10 as an extension of a Democratic White House, toiling daily to pass a health bill that slashes $716 billion from Medicare, strips seniors of choice, and sets the stage for rationing. We know that despite AARP's awareness that its seniors overwhelmingly opposed the bill, the "non-partisan membership organization" chose to serve the president's agenda.The 71 pages of emails show an AARP management taking orders from the White House, scripting the president's talking points, working to keep its board "in line," and pledging fealty to "the cause." Seniors deserve to know all this, as AARP seeks to present itself as neutral in this presidential election.(*PURSED LIPS ACCOMPANIED BY A NOD*)* READ THE ARTICLE, FOLKS, IF YOU'RE INTERESTED IN THE DETAILS.
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/09/21/obama-s-shaky-libya-narrative.html?utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&utm_campaign=cheatsheet_morning&cid=newsletter%3Bemail%3Bcheatsheet_morning&utm_term=Cheat%20SheetTen days after the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, the White House’s official story about the incident appears to be falling apart.In the days following the killing of the U.S. ambassador and two ex-Navy SEALs, President Obama and top State Department officials portrayed the attack as a spontaneous reaction to an Internet video...* WE... KNOW... THIS... ISN'T... TRUE! The administration’s story itself has recently begun to shift, with Matthew Olsen, the director of the National Counter-Terrorism Center, telling Congress on Wednesday that the attackers may have had links to al Qaeda and Carney characterizing the incident as a “terrorist attack.”(*SMIRK*)One current U.S. intelligence officer working on the investigation into the incident told The Daily Beast that the attackers had staked out and monitored the U.S. consulate in Benghazi before the attack... What’s more, two U.S. intelligence officials told The Daily Beast that the intelligence community is currently analyzing an intercept between a Libyan politician whose sympathies are with al Qaeda and the Libyan militia known as the February 17 Brigade — which had been charged with providing local security to the consulate. In the intercept, the Libyan politician apparently asks an officer in the brigade to have his men stand down for a pending attack...* FOLKS... THIS LATEST ON THE INTERCEPT IS NEW, BUT THE OTHER STUFF... COM'ON... THE FOREIGN PRESS - QUOTING NAMED LIBYAN OFFICIALS - WAS OUTING THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION LIES WHILE THE EMBERS OF WHAT REMAINED OF THE BURNED AMERICAN CONSULATE WERE STILL HOT! (CHECK OUT PAST NEWSBITES AND USUALLY RIGHT STAND-ALONES!)“I think this is a case of an administration saying what they wished to be true before waiting for all the facts to come in,” says one senior retired CIA official.* YES... PARTLY... BUT MORE THAN THAT, IT WAS A SLEAZY ATTEMPT TO DEFLECT AND AVOID BLAME! IF IT WERE "A FILM'S FAULT" THAN IT COULD BE "OBAMA'S FAULT."(*JUST SHAKING MY HEAD IN DISGUST*)
http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials/092012-626507-doj-fast-and-furious-report-exonerates-holder.htmThe report our attorney general used to justify withholding evidence of who was responsible for the administration program that led to the deaths of two U.S. agents is out. It delivers more scapegoats than answers.As Inspector General Michael Horowitz testified Thursday before the House Oversight and Government Reform (OGR) Committee, Fast and Furious represented a "pattern of serious failures" by various agencies.But he let the buck stop short of where it belongs — Attorney General Eric Holder's desk.Horowitz mysteriously chose to lump Fast and Furious, as Team Obama does, with a Bush-era program, Wide Receiver. That operation was run out of Tucson between 2006 and 2007, ending before Bush left office and before Fast and Furious began in 2009.Both Wide Receiver and Fast and Furious were part of a bigger effort called Project Gunrunner, which began in 2006. Even so, the differences between the two are vast, starting with the fact that Wide Receiver produced no dead bodies. It was run in close cooperation with Mexican authorities, as Fast and Furious wasn't, and involved gun-tracing and not gun-walking.The report was repeatedly invoked by Holder as a reason for withholding answers and documents on Fast and Furious from OGR Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif.The report incredibly found "no evidence ... (Holder) was informed about Operation Fast and Furious, or learned about the tactics employed by ATF in the investigation." But Holder's own statements contradict that[!]So scapegoats had to be found, and the report cites 14 other department employees for potential wrongdoing and recommends Justice consider disciplinary action.Jason Weinstein, the deputy assistant attorney general for the criminal division, is resigning after the report essentially concluded he was the one best positioned to stop Fast and Furious. (That's false — Eric Holder was.)As early as Oct. 22, 2010, before agent Terry's murder, a DOJ official sent Holder a memo saying: "It's not going to be a big surprise that a bunch of U.S. guns are being used in (Mexico), so I'm not sure how much grief we get for 'guns walking.'" Holder said he didn't recall the memo.Nor does he probably recall a speech he gave to Mexican authorities in Cuernavaca, Mexico, on April 2, 2009, taking credit for Gunrunner as well as Fast and Furious for himself and the Obama administration.Holder told the audience: "Last week, our administration launched a major new effort to break the backs of the cartels...(and) to supplement our ongoing Project Gunrunner."It's important to note that Gunrunner and Fast and Furious both ran guns to Mexican cartels under the DOJ umbrella and the chains of command all led to Holder.The report doesn't contain the answers the Terry and Zapata families, or the American people, were looking for. But it does show that either Holder is culpable or incompetent. [E]ither way, he should be fired.
http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/bloomageddon_PQtR2Xx9a8wcbhN5HjqIUJThe final budget season of Mayor Mike’s reign is starting — and he’s going out the way he came in: Absent radical moves in the next nine months, the next mayor will face permanent multibillion-dollar deficits — the same outlook Bloomberg faced 11 years ago, taking office in the wake of 9/11.Last week, Bloomberg’s budget director kicked off the scrambling. Citing a $2.5 billion budget gap in the fiscal year that starts next July and even bigger holes after that, the budget office ordered city agencies to start cutting back now, so that they can save $2 billion over the two years.Most agencies will have to cut 5.4% this year, and another 8% cuts starting next July. The police, fire, sanitation and correction departments face 2.7% cuts this year, and 4% next year. Education takes a 1.6% hit this year, and 4% next year.Why the sudden cuts?For starters, there’s the bet City Hall made three-plus years ago, in the post-financial-crisis downturn, that Wall Street would come roaring back to see the mayor out of office. That gamble’s not paying off.Part of that strategy was to rely (while waiting for a financial boom) on one-shots to fill budget gaps — at least $2.3 billion this year. Oops! One reason for the current crunch is that one of those one-shots — $635 million from selling taxi medallions — isn’t coming through, since a judge ruled that the City Council must approve the sale.Nor is Wall Street riding to the rescue... As the budget office reported in August, the city’s five biggest investment banks saw earnings fall 17% in the spring — after a 26% drop over the winter.Big Finance is gradually realizing that it got too big during the credit boom, and needs to cut back permanently. Between January and June, Gotham’s securities industry cut 1,100 jobs. That’s a loss of roughly $12 million in personal-income taxes for the city — enough to pay for 80 or so cops.European and Asian banks are also cutting back in Gotham. The Japanese bank Nomura, for one, means to cut a billion dollars annually — and its New York office will bear 21% of that, roughly 600 jobs.One telling sign is that financial firms aren’t adding office space. Leasing activity fell by half in the first six months of this year. No new offices means no new workers to pay new tax dollars.But the biggest problem is that Bloomberg never changed much about the city’s finances. In Bloomberg’s first full fiscal year, 2003, the city spent $31.5 billion of its taxpayers’ dollars. This year, it will spend $52.7 billion...Nearly half the new spending is for public-employee benefits...Take schools. ... [C]ity taxpayers’ contribution to education has nearly doubled, from $5.1 billion back then to $9.2 billion today - and that doesn’t count teacher pension, up to $2.9 billion from $1.1 billion.Similarly, instead of another year of cutting around the edges of the sanitation budget, why not unveil a pilot program to competitively contract out some sanitation services — and scare the union into making concessions?Such tactics are the obvious way to get past the unions’ refusal to play ball on wages and health-care contributions.Instead, union leaders are stalling — they’ve let contracts expire, and are waiting — figuring they can cut (much) better deals with the next mayor. Bloomberg plainly isn’t too worried about that risk.As things look, signs point to the mayor starting up the music for the annual “Dancing with the City Council” come January — threatening to lay off teachers and close firehouses to save a few million, then not doing it.
http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/more-americans-added-food-stamps-find-jobs_652837.htmlMore Americans are being added to food stamps than are finding jobs.[B]etween April-June 2012 (the most recent three month block for which government data is available) only 200,000 ["new"] jobs have been created while 265,000 individuals have been added to the food stamp rolls. Additionally, in that time period, 246,000 workers were awarded disability.* SO... 200,000 "NEW" JOBS vs. 506,000 JOINING THE FOOD STAMP & DISABILITY ROLLS. (DOUBLE CHECK MY MATH... IT APPEARS TO BE MORE THAN DOUBLE... DOESN'T IT...?)[S]ince January 2009 when President Barack Obama took office the net change jobs has been negative (-1.3 million) while 5.7 million workers and dependents have been awarded disability and a whopping 15.1 million have been added to the food stamp rolls."A total of 46,670,373 Americans are now on food stamps," according to the minority side of the Senate Budget Committee. "The food stamp program has doubled in size since 2008 and quadrupled since 2001."And the government program isn't cheap: "Spending on food stamps alone is projected to reach $770 billion over the next decade."
http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/09/president-obama-falsely-claims-fast-and-furious-program-begun-under-the-previous-administration/* THIS NEWSBITE IS BASED UPON WHAT RUSH LIMBAUGH WOULD DESCRIBE AS A "RANDOM ACT OF J0URNALISM" PERFORMED BY THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA (MSM). President Obama Falsely Claims Fast and Furious Program “Begun Under the Previous Administration”* YEP. THAT'S INDEED THE TITLE OF THE ABC PIECE BY... (*PAUSE*)... YES... (*ANOTHER PAUSE*)... JAKE TAPPER.Asked about the Fast and Furious program at the Univision forum on Thursday, President Obama falsely claimed that the program began under President George W. Bush.* WHILE I STILL SAY "LIE" OR "LIED" IS SIMPLER AND MORE DIRECT THAN "FALSELY CLAIMED"... (*SMILE*)... I'LL TAKE IT!(*GUFFAW*)“I think it’s important for us to understand that the Fast and Furious program was a field-initiated program begun under the previous administration,” the president said.* "SAID..." "LIED..." SAME DIFFERENCE!In actuality, the Fast and Furious program was started in October 2009, nine months into the Obama presidency.“When Eric Holder found out about it, he discontinued it. We assigned a inspector general to do a thorough report that was just issued, confirming that in fact Eric Holder did not know about this, that he took prompt action and the people who did initiate this were held accountable,” the President continued.* ONE... MORE... TIME...(*DRUM ROLL*)In actuality, the Fast and Furious program was started in October 2009, nine months into the Obama presidency.Previous programs involving ATF agents allowing guns to “walk” across the border so as to trace them were run during the Bush presidency, but not this particular “field-initiated program.”* AND... AS PREVIOUSLY NOTED VIA NEWSBITES, THE BUSH-ERA PROGRAM WAS 1) IN COOPERATION WITH MEXICAN AUTHORITIES; 2) DIDN'T GET ANY U.S. BORDER PATROL OFFICERS KILLED.* SEE... EVEN WITH THESE "RANDOM ACTS OF JOURNALISM" IT'S RARE FOR THE MSM TO GIVE THE TRUTH, THE WHOLE TRUTH, AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH. STILL... THIS REPORT IS A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION.* FOLKS... RE-READ NEWSBITE #5 FROM TODAY... BROWSE PAST NEWSBITES CONCERNING THE SUPPOSED "EXONERATION" OF HOLDER FROM "DIRECT" RESPONSIBILITY.
http://reason.com/blog/2012/09/21/report-on-greeces-attempt-at-austerity-cMuch of how the rest of the euro crisis develops depends on how inspectors of the troika (European Commission, European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund) judge Greece’s efforts to implement reforms and austerity measures. If the troika reports that the Greek government has been unable to make the necessary reforms then it is possible that the next bailout installment will be withheld, and Greece will almost certainly default on its debt.It now looks like officials from Washington might be trying to delay reports on Greece’s austerity efforts because it might cause a downturn in the global economy before Election Day.From Reuters:"A U.S. official said the United States had made clear to European officials that it wanted to avoid any 'downside' economic surprises because of the fragile U.S. recovery, but denied that it had anything to do with the U.S. election. Several sources in Germany described those conversations with their U.S. counterparts and said the message had been that the Americans didn't want surprises before the election."Recent polling indicates that Obama is doing well, but a global economic shock like a Greek default and euro exit would have the potential to make the presidential race much tighter. It is worth remembering that most European politicians are hardly fans of Republicans.From the same Reuters piece:"'As far as European leaders are concerned, they don't want Romney, so they're probably willing to do anything to help Obama's chances,' said the source, an EU official involved in finding solutions to the debt crisis."A Greek default and euro exit would almost certainly prompt a downturn in the global economy and potentially accelerate the euro crisis. Despite the negative effects this would have on most people, Mitt Romney would stand to gain. It looks like this is an outcome some from Washington have already taken steps to avoid, at least until the election is over.
http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/328164/ryan-aarp-yuval-levinBe sure to read Paul Ryan’s speech to the AARP’s national convention today...* DON'T WORRY ABOUT FINDING IT - I'LL POST IT LATER!As he surely knew he would be, Ryan was met with some opposition (though also some support) in the audience, and boos could be heard at various points — particularly during his criticisms of ObamaCare. That’s hardly surprising. The AARP sometimes presents itself as a kind of membership organization consisting of senior citizens, but it is basically a huge financial-services company with an enormous stake in the current design of the Medicare system (it makes about half a billion dollars in revenue each year endorsing and selling Medicare supplemental, Medicare Advantage, Medicare prescription drug, and long-term care insurance policies). * I ASSUME MOST OF MY REGULARS KNOW THIS... BUT LET ME ASK YOU... WHAT DO YOU SUPPOSE THE PERCENTAGE OF "REGULAR FOLKS" OUT THERE WHO UNDERSTAND THIS IS? NOT ALL THAT HIGH I'M GUESSING. (*SHRUG*)It profits in particular from higher-premium Medicare supplemental coverage (because it receives a royalty fee on every dollar seniors spend on premiums for AARP-endorsed products), and so would be a major loser in a premium-support reform.The organization has therefore worked closely with Democrats to oppose such a reform, and in return has also been helpful to them in the broader health-care debate — lobbying in favor of ObamaCare, for instance, despite the fact that it made major cuts in Medicare and despite the very evident opposition of AARP members. (A recent letter to the organization’s leadership from Republican members of the House lays out some of the staggering details of AARP’s cooperation with the White House on that front.)* PERHAPS I'LL POST THAT AS WELL... DEPENDS UPON HOW LONG IT IS...
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