Michelle Malkin on “Culture of Corruption”

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WWIB’s Mark Halvorsen and I had the good fortune of interviewing blogger/author/FOXNews analyst/wife and mother Michelle Malkin about her New York Time’s best-seller “Culture of Corruption.”

Get the audio podcast from the Friday, September 19th edition of “FrontPage” here.

Published in: on September 24, 2009 at 7:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

Czar Power

From HotAir.com’s Ed Morrissey,

The White House has begun pushing back against the criticism over the explosion of czars in the Obama administration, with a blog entry yesterday that attempts to minimize the end run around Congress engineered by Barack Obama.  The argument from the Obama administration and its defenders seems to be that (a) no one complained about czars during the Bush administration, (b) some of the ones highlighted have required Senate approval, and (c) the White House doesn’t call them “czars”:

Last week, when the President addressed the Joint Session of Congress in a speech on health reform, he referred to some of the untruths – okay, lies – that have been spread about the plan and sent a clear message to those who seek to undermine his agenda and his presidency with these tactics: “We will call you out.” So consider this one of those calls.

Over the past several weeks, we’ve seen with increasing frequency and volume issues raised around the use of “czars” by this Administration. Although some Members have asked serious questions around the makeup of the White House staff, the bulk of the noise you hear began first with partisan commentators, suggesting that this is somehow a new and sinister development that threatens our democracy. This is, of course, ridiculous. Just to be clear, the job title “czar” doesn’t exist in the Obama Administration. Many of the officials cited by conservative commentators have been confirmed by the Senate. Many hold policy jobs that have existed in previous Administrations. And some hold jobs that involved coordinating the work of agencies on President Obama’s key policy priorities: health insurance reform, energy and green jobs, and building a new foundation for long-lasting economic growth

But of course, it’s really the hypocrisy here that is noteworthy. Just earlier today, Darrell Issa, a Republican from California and one of the leaders in calling for an investigation into the Obama Administration’s use of “czars”, had to admit to Fox News that he had never raised any objections to the Bush Administration’s use of “czars”. Many of these members who now decry the practice have called on Presidents in the past to appoint “czars” to coordinate activities within the government to address immediate challenges. What is clear is that all of this energy going into these attacks could be used to have a constructive conversation about bringing this country together to address our challenges moving forward – and it doesn’t take a “czar” to bring that about! Just some folks willing to act in good faith.

It’s true that some of the 32, 34, 35, or more positions critics have pointed out are not actually czars at all, and do require both Senate approval and Congressional oversight.  One example of this is Cass Sunstein, the so-called Regulatory Czar, who just got confirmed by the Senate.  Using those positions as examples of an Obama power grab undermine the argument and allow the White House to offer sophistry in response.

The Washington Post offers a handy guide that demonstrates the dishonesty in the White House response:

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What we can see here is that Bush created five non-confirmed positions in his administration — in eight years. Of those, three fall solidly within the executive branch’s authority for national security and diplomacy: WMD, terrorism, and Sudan.  Nevertheless, those positions should have had Senate confirmation if they enforced regulation, which would have been questionable for any of these five.

In contrast, the Obama administration has created 17 “czar” positions in seven months, all but one of which avoid Senate confirmation and Congressional oversight.  At least two of these positions will or have already enforced regulation: the Pay Czar and the Auto Recovery Czar, the latter of which unduly influenced the bankruptcies of Chrysler and GM. The Car Czar will likely enforce administration policy on manufacturing and car model selection.  Van Jones, who had been the Green Jobs Czar, isn’t listed in this chart, but he had authority to spend tens of billions of dollars on green initiatives, outside the overview of Congress.

It took Obama less than a year to triple the number of executive-branch commissars that avoid confirmation than Bush created in two terms. That’s a ridiculous level of bureaucratic expansion and Congressional avoidance, and none of the White House’s pushback even remotely addresses it.

Good news: Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold (D) is calling for a review of the White House’s policy on czars and issued a letter reminding the President of the separation of powers called for in the Constitution.

“The Constitution gives the Senate the duty to oversee the appointment of Executive officers through the Appointments Clause in Article II, section 2. The Appointments Clause states that the President “shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise proved for, and which shall be established by law.” This clause is an important part of the constitutional scheme of separation of powers, empowering the Senate to weigh in on the appropriateness of significant appointments and assisting in its oversight of the Executive Branch.”

Full letter and story here.

Published in: on September 18, 2009 at 1:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

“$8 Billion in Pre-K Waste in Higher Ed Bill”

Following through on his “crib to college” promise, $8 billion more in borrowed federal money to go to getting ’em while they’re young.  AKA, paying for other people’s daycare.

Resist.

From The Foundry at Heritage,

The House is expected to vote today on the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009, which would end the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) program, transferring student lending exclusively to the federal Direct Loan and Perkins Loan programs – effectively ending federally subsidized private lending. While the proposed legislation will drastically change the dynamics of the student loan industry, it will also expand the federal government’s role in early childhood education – to the tune of $8 billion.

The SAFRA establishes an $8 billion Early Learning Challenge Fund to provide grants to states to improve the quality of their early childhood education programs for children ages 0 to 5 – a key mission of the Obama administration. According to Education Daily:

Duncan said including $8 billion for early education in legislation with a core focus on higher education supports the administration’s ‘cradle to career’ agenda to ensure young children succeed and high school seniors have opportunities to at­tend college.

The $8 billion infusion – which will allocate $1 billion annually beginning in 2010 and ending in 2019, comes on top of the $25 billion spent each year by the federal government on early education and child care programs.

The Early Learning Challenge Fund will provide money to states to develop common quality standards for their preschool programs, and according to Education Secretary Duncan, will be used to “increase access” to preschool. The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act will increase the number of disadvantaged children participating in preschool, and will require states to describe how they will encourage center-based child care programs when applying for funds. Priority will be given to states “that dedicate a significant increase, in comparison to recent fiscal years, in State expenditures on early learning programs and services”.

While it may seem curious to have preschool funding in a higher education bill, proponents claim that children must be prepared early on in order to be successful in later schooling, and that preschool is the key to this preparation. House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller (D-CA) was quoted in the same Education Daily article attempting to justify including such a provision in a higher ed bill:

If you do it right in early education settings, the children are much more likely to succeed early, are more likely to make a decision not to drop out of high school, and to think about going to college. One thing that is excit­ing about this administration is they are seeking to do it right. We’ve had enough patchwork.

But the evidence suggests otherwise.

Taxpayers have spent more than $100 billion on the federal Head Start program since it began in 1965, with little to show for it. HHS, the department that administers Head Start, concluded that participants “still enter kindergarten lagging far behind the typical Amer­ican child in skills needed for school readiness.” And states have had little success with large taxpayer investments in government preschool programs. Oklahoma and Georgia, which have both had preschool for over a decade, have essentially seen zero benefit to their 3- and 4-year-old children. In Oklahoma, students have actually seen a decline in reading achievement since the introduction of universal preschool.

And while Miller claims that preschool will reduce dropout rates, graduation figures over the past four decades tell another story. After investing billions of dollars and drastically increasing preschool attendance, graduation rates are actually lower today than they were in the 1970s. From 1970 to 2007, enrollment of three- and four-year-old children increased more than 180 percent. But in that same time period, graduation rates have remained relatively flat, even decreasing slightly.

Yet, the Obama administration is intent on spending billions on its “zero-to-five” program, and Congress seems eager to make good on this intention, even if it means slipping a large new preschool initiative into a higher education bill.

Published in: on September 18, 2009 at 1:05 pm  Comments (1)  

9/11/01: Never Forget

Never forget the 2,977 victims whose lives were taken that sunny Tuesday morning.

The fight against evil is real, it continues, and we must be ever vigilant against our enemies.

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From Michelle Malkin,

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Remember: Project 2,996.

Remember: “Let’s roll!”

Remember: The angels on loan from God.

Remember: The 9/11 babies.

Remember: Falling Man.

Remembrance is worthless without resolve. Resolve is useless without action.

God bless our troops for doing what’s necessary to combat jihad on the front lines. Here’s how they are marking 9/11 overseas:

American troops in Afghanistan donned shorts and sneakers Friday to run in memory of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, as they fight a war that was born of that day but now faces waning public support.

About 1,000 service members ran 9.11 kilometers (5.5 miles) at the main U.S. base, both to commemorate the anniversary and remember troops who have died in nearly eight years of fighting.

The U.S. and its allies first invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 to oust the Taliban regime for sheltering al-Qaida leaders who planned the attacks. The Taliban were quickly routed, but the militants regrouped and have mounted an increasingly strong insurgency over the past three years.

Organizers of Friday’s race, which also was held at two other bases, called it an act of defiance against insurgents who have killed more American troops this year than in any other since the beginning of the conflict. August was the deadliest month for U.S. troops so far, with 51 killed.

“Our soldiers are running in the heart of Taliban territory, where the attacks on America were planned,” a military statement said.

This is not a day for fighting climate change or changing light bulbs or hugging trees or cheerleading expansions of government national service programs.

This is a day to honor innocent men, women, and children slaughtered by evil Islamic jihadists — and to resolve that “Never again” remains America’s operational stance, not an empty slogan.

What will you remember? What will you resolve?

Published in: on September 11, 2009 at 12:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

“About that $900 Billion”

From The Foundry at the Heritage Foundation,

Last night President Barack Obama promised: “Add it all up, and the plan I’m proposing will cost around $900 billion over ten years.” What are the chances that Obama will keep this promise? ReasonTV examines how the actual price of government programs almost always shoots far beyond the advertised price:

The Senate Joint Economic Committee recently released a study examining the federal government’s track record of measuring the future costs of health care programs specifically. Here is what they found:

Medicare (hospital insurance). In 1965, as Congress considered legislation to establish a national Medicare program, the House Ways and Means Committee estimated that the hospital insurance portion of the program, Part A, would cost about $9 billion annually by 1990.v Actual Part A spending in 1990 was $67 billion. The actuary who provided the original cost estimates acknowledged in 1994 that, even after conservatively discounting for the unexpectedly high inflation rates of the early ‘70s and other factors, “the actual [Part A] experience was 165% higher than the estimate.”

Medicare (entire program). In 1967, the House Ways and Means Committee predicted that the new Medicare program, launched the previous year, would cost about $12 billion in 1990. Actual Medicare spending in 1990 was $110 billion—off by nearly a factor of 10.

Medicaid DSH program. In 1987, Congress estimated that Medicaid’s disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payments—which states use to provide relief to hospitals that serve especially large numbers of Medicaid and uninsured patients—would cost less than $1 billion in 1992. The actual cost that year was a staggering $17 billion. Among other things, federal lawmakers had failed to detect loopholes in the legislation that enabled states to draw significantly more money from the federal treasury than they would otherwise have been entitled to claim under the program’s traditional 50-50 funding scheme.

Medicare home care benefit. When Congress debated changes to Medicare’s home care benefit in 1988, the projected 1993 cost of the benefit was $4 billion. The actual 1993 cost was more than twice that amount, $10 billion.

Medicare catastrophic coverage benefit. In 1988, Congress added a catastrophic coverage benefit to Medicare, to take effect in 1990. In July 1989, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) doubled its cost estimate for the program, for the four-year period 1990-1993, from $5.7 billion to $11.8 billion. CBO explained that it had received newer data showing it had significantly under-estimated prescription drug cost growth, and it warned Congress that even this revised estimate might be too low. This was a principal reason Congress repealed the program before it could take effect.

SCHIP. In 1997, Congress established the State Children’s Health Insurance Program as a capped grant program to states, and appropriated $40 billion to be doled out to states over 10 years at a rate of roughly $5 billion per year, once implemented. In each year, some states exceeded their allotments, requiring shifts of funds from other states that had not done so. By 2006, unspent reserves from prior years were nearly exhausted. To avert mass disenrollments, Congress decided to appropriate an additional $283 million in FY 2006 and an additional $650 million in FY 2007.

Published in: on September 11, 2009 at 12:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

Your Daily Dose

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Published in: on September 11, 2009 at 12:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

“AP Fact-checks Obama’s Speech”

From Hot Air,

Yesterday, Barack Obama told the nation that he was tired of dishonest debate and “scare tactics,” but how honest was Obama himself in last night’s speech?  The Associated Press fact-checks Obama and finds him … wanting.  For a man eager to paint his opposition as liars, Obama told a couple of whoppers himself in front of the joint session of Congress:

OBAMA: “I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits either now or in the future. Period.”

THE FACTS: Though there’s no final plan yet, the White House and congressional Democrats already have shown they’re ready to skirt the no-new-deficits pledge.

House Democrats offered a bill that the Congressional Budget Office said would add $220 billion to the deficit over 10 years. But Democrats and Obama administration officials claimed the bill actually was deficit-neutral. They said they simply didn’t have to count $245 billion of it — the cost of adjusting Medicare reimbursement rates so physicians don’t face big annual pay cuts. …

CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf had this to say in July: “We do not see the sort of fundamental changes that would be necessary to reduce the trajectory of federal health spending by a significant amount.”

In fact, none of the proposals that have come from Congress thus far have been scored deficit neutral by any credible analytical group.  Obama tried arguing again last night that preventive medicine would save the system money, and therefore would render the system deficit neutral or even cost-effective in the long run.  Obama has yet to explain the scope of the “long run” argument, and in any event, the AP notes that the CBO has already blown the whistle on this argument, too:

THE FACTS: Studies have shown that much preventive care — particularly tests like the ones Obama mentions — actually costs money instead of saving it. That’s because detecting acute diseases like breast cancer in their early stages involves testing many people who would never end up developing the disease. The costs of a large number of tests, even if they’re relatively cheap, will outweigh the costs of caring for the minority of people who would have ended up getting sick without the testing.

The Congressional Budget Office wrote in August: “The evidence suggests that for most preventive services, expanded utilization leads to higher, not lower, medical spending overall.”

I wrote a column regarding this finding a month ago today.  This has been known for several weeks, explained thoroughly by the CBO in its letter, based on well-known, peer-reviewed studies.  Cost savings from a massive application of preventive medicine is a myth — or in Obama’s parlance, a lie.  Yet Obama insists on telling it over and over again to get people to believe that he can save money by spending more of it.

The AP misses a couple of whoppers, too.  For instance, while they scold Obama for reversing himself on individual mandates, they let this pass without challenge in their article:

“To force people to get health insurance, you’ve got to have a very harsh penalty,” he said in a February 2008 debate.

Now, he says, “individuals will be required to carry basic health insurance — just as most states require you to carry auto insurance.”

This analogy is false for a few reasons.  States only require people to carry auto insurance if they drive on public roads.  It is a prerequisite of accessing a state-run system, not a mandate disconnected from any government-provided service.  Also, the mandate for auto insurance in most states is for liability insurance — insurance that pays for the damage done to other people, not to one’s self.  It’s to make sure that people who suffer damages from auto accidents not their fault can recover compensation for them.

They really miss the boat on illegal immigration, though:

OBAMA: “The reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.” One congressman, South Carolina Republican Joe Wilson, shouted “You lie!” from his seat in the House chamber when Obama made this assertion. Wilson later apologized.

THE FACTS: The facts back up Obama. The House version of the health care bill explicitly prohibits spending any federal money to help illegal immigrants get health care coverage. Illegal immigrants could buy private health insurance, as many do now, but wouldn’t get tax subsidies to help them. Still, Republicans say there are not sufficient citizenship verification requirements to ensure illegal immigrants are excluded from benefits they are not due.

Actually, the facts do not back up Obama, as the Congressional Research Service noted in its analysis of HR3200.  The CRS is not run by Republicans, but is the nonpartisan research office that reports to Congress.  Illegal aliens in the US who meet the “substantial presence” test would be required to participate in the health-care “exchanges” and would have access therefore to the subsidies and the public option, if it exists in the final form of the bill (page 4):

Under H.R. 3200, all legal permanent residents (LPRs),23 nonimmigrants, and unauthorized aliens who meet the substantial presence test (defined above) would be required to obtain health insurance. Noncitizens meeting the definition of nonresident aliens (e.g., temporary visitors, temporary workers in the United States for less than 183 days in the year) would not be required to obtain health insurance. Notably, the IRC does not contain special rules for individuals who are in the United States without authorization (i.e., illegal or unauthorized aliens). Instead, the IRC treats these individuals in the same manner as other foreign nationals—an unauthorized individual who has been in the United States long enough to qualify under the substantial presence test is classified as a resident alien; otherwise, the individual is classified as a nonresident alien. Thus, it would appear that unauthorized aliens who meet the substantial presence test would be required under H.R. 3200 to have health insurance.

Since the CRS analysis has been public for almost two weeks, the AP reporters should have familiarized themselves with it. The bill offered by the House, which Obama seems to have re-embraced last night, would require illegal aliens in the country for more than six months to obtain health insurance through the exchanges, and make them eligible for the public option. Furthermore, when Republicans attempted to close that loophole with an amendment, Democrats shot it down.

If Obama really wants to make a reputation for himself as a mythbuster, he should start with himself.

Published in: on September 11, 2009 at 12:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

Inspiration…or Marching Orders?

President Obama is doing an end run around the parental filter by addressing American kids, as young as 4 years old, in their classrooms September 8th.

What he’ll talk about, we don’t know.  But, as Michelle Malkin points out, it’s not so much what Obama says but what classroom teachers do with that lesson.

More from Michelle Malkin,

President Obama told a student reporter last month that he would be making an address to schoolchildren on September 8:


ServiceWire has the announcement and broadcast schedule for the speech.

The Daily Paul picked up the story last week and linked to teachers’ manuals pegged to Obama’s address, which have now been linked on Drudge.

The documents have a heavy activist bent:

During the Speech:

• As the President speaks, teachers can ask students to write down key ideas or phrases that are important or personally meaningful. Students could use a note-taking graphic organizer such as a Cluster Web, or students could record their thoughts on sticky notes. Younger children can draw pictures and write as appropriate. As students listen to the speech, they could think about the following:

What is the President trying to tell me?

What is the President asking me to do?

What new ideas and actions is the President challenging me to think about?

• Students can record important parts of the speech where the President is asking them to do something. Students might think about: What specific job is he asking me to do? Is he asking anything of anyone else? Teachers? Principals? Parents? The American people?

• Students can record any questions they have while he is speaking and then discuss them after the speech. Younger children may need to dictate their questions.

After the Speech:

• Teachers could ask students to share the ideas they recorded, exchange sticky notes or stick notes on a butcher paper poster in the classroom to discuss main ideas from the speech, i.e. citizenship, personal responsibility, civic duty.
• Students could discuss their responses to the following questions:

What do you think the President wants us to do?

Does the speech make you want to do anything?

Are we able to do what President Obama is asking of us?

Schools have used students as little lobbyists on everything from illegal immigration to gay marriage to anti-war activism.

And most recently: Census collection.

Will Obama be able to resist issuing a call to youth arms to marshal help in passing his legislative agenda?

The thing is: He won’t need to make the call explicit.

Obama zealot teachers like this one across the country will do all the extra-curricular bullying and haranguing for him. Remember:


Partial transcript:

Harris:We want to talk about the presidential election. I want to ask you, who are you pulling for? Raise your hand.

Student: Obama.

Harris: You pullin for Obama. Who you pullin for?

Student: Obama.

Harris:Any of you pullin for John McCain? That’s fine, say him as well.

Student: Obama.

Student: Obama.

[Cathy, the daughter of an American soldier answers McCain.]

Harris:John, oh lord, John McCain.

Oh Jesus, John McCain.

Ok, now I wanna axe you somethin.

Why are you pullin for John McCain? It’s ok, but why are you pullin for John McCain?

Cathy: I thinks it’s because my parents are going for him too.

Harris: Ok, your parents are going for him. Why are you pullin for Ba-RACK. Barack.

Student: I just want a black president sometimes.

Ok, you want a black president.

Student: The reason why I want Barack Obama is because he’s making good changes in the good country and stuff like that.

Harris: So, he’s making good changes for our country. Now can you tell me just a little bit more, like what type of changes?

Like not having big fights between Iraq and having soldiers killed.

So in other words, Barack is going to end that war in Iraq. What do you all know about that war in Iraq?

[Harris addresses Kathy] Talk, cause yo daddy in the military. Talk. It’s a senseless war! And by the way, Cathy, the person that you’re picking for president said that our troops could stay in Iraq for another hundred years if they need to!

[Camera pans to Cathy, in near tears.]

Harris: So that means that your daddy could stay in the military for another hundred years!

Reason number 999,999,965 to take control of your own children’s education.

Published in: on September 2, 2009 at 3:01 am  Comments (1)  

“Undercover at a Town Hall”

The side of the story you aren’t seeing, via Hot Air.

“He’s baaack! It’s been too long since our YAF/Hot Air TV special correspondent Jason Mattera’s last video production. But he teamed up with YAF intern and cameraman Adam Tragone to give us a special glimpse into the world of Obamacare supporters at Democrat Rep. Jim Moran’s recent town hall forum in Virginia.

Enjoy it, you “selfish people!:”

Did you make sure to watch it to the very end? Commune Dude is priceless.

“IT owns the clothes.”

Published in: on September 2, 2009 at 2:34 am  Leave a Comment