Ken's Project Blog

January 31, 2011

Senator Schumer and the 3 Branches of Government

Filed under: In The News,Politics — Ken @ 11:46 pm


In this video, Senator Schumer explains that our creditors are concerned about our mounting debt, and he goes on to explain that we need to do something about the government funding resolution that expires on March 4th (Why don’t we have a budget? Because the Democrat-controlled House, I believe, was terrified to put all their spending in writing before the mid-term elections) before we can even talk about the need to raise the debt ceiling…

But that’s not the best part – the best part of the video is when Senator Schumer, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee admonishes Republicans considering not raising the debt ceiling that we have three branches of government… “We have three branches of government, we have a House, a Senate, and a President.”

Uh, not quite – If you need a hint, check out the Separation of powers entry on Wikipedia

Sources:

Senator Schumer homepage

Senator Schumer Committee Assignments

Wikipedia Separation of powers entry

The Hill: Dems won’t pass budget in 2010

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Individual Mandate

Filed under: Health Care,In The News — Ken @ 11:11 pm


In 2008 then-Senator Obama and then-Senator Clinton were battling it out in the Democratic Primary, and one of their main differentiators was their vision for Health Care Reform – Senator Clinton’s plan included an individual mandate requiring everyone to buy healthcare insurance, Senator Obama’s plan did not. Then. almost two years later, now-President Obama signed into law a Health Care Reform bill that had as a key component an individual mandate.

Today, when Federal Court Judge Vinson handed down his ruling that the healthcare reform law was unconstitutional because of the individual mandate he wrote:

“I note that in 2008, then-Senator Obama supported a health care reform proposal that did not include an individual mandate because he was at that time strongly opposed to the idea, stating that, ‘If a mandate was the solution, we can try that to solve homelessness by mandating everybody to buy a house,’” Judge Vinson wrote in a footnote toward the end of his 78-page ruling Monday.

Sources:

Washington Times: Judge uses Obama’s words against him

H.R. 3962 – Affordable Health Care Act

Federal Court Judge Vinson’s 78 page decision

January 30, 2011

Evergreen Solar

Filed under: In The News — Ken @ 2:27 pm


Over at NPR they have a story about a solar panel manufacturing company that is leaving Massachusetts to manufacture thier solar panels in China. By itself, a manufacturing company leaving Massachusetts is not big news, but that this was an extremely well-subsidised company is what makes it an interesting story.

To convince Evergreen Solar to locate in Massachusetts, the state offered them rent-free space at a former Army base that was converted to office space, waived years of potential tax revenues, built special infrastructure to accomodate them (roads, etc.), and awarded them cash grants. Now having grown from 100 to 800 employees over the last three years, the company suddenly realized it was even cheaper to manufacture their solar panels in China despite all the gifts from the state.

Amazingly, many in the state feel they should have given the comapny more, much like a battered wife thinks if she just “loved her abuser more” they would stop.

Some are questioning the idea that the Government should be in the venture capital business, underwriting new and expanding enterprises on the backs of the taxpayers with very little recourse should the companies decide to relocate down the road.

From the article:

Evergreen’s CEO Michael El-Hillow agrees, saying U.S. manufacturers cannot compete with companies in China that get far more government support.

He says Washington needs to do more to nurture fledgling industries, including changing government procurement policies to require buying American, and easing bank regulations and import duties that put American manufacturers at a disadvantage.

“It’s also the role of government to make jobs for our citizens — our children,” El-Hillow says. “That’s their role. Or let’s acknowledge that we’re going to lose in the job creation stream.”

But others scoff at the notion of a company that was given so much looking for even more. “It sort of has remarkable chutzpah,” says Harvard University economics professor Edward Glaeser.

He says government should not be in the business of playing venture capitalist in the first place. And, Glaeser says, Massachusetts officials should have known better than to believe that a manufacturing plant could make it in such a high-cost labor market.

Source:

npr.org: Loss Of Solar Jobs Has Mass. Rethinking State Aid

Evergreen Solar website and January 11, 2011 Press Release

New York Times: Why Green Energy Can’t Power a Job Engine

Financial News Online: Evergreen Solar to be featured at Solar Power International

Andrew Jackson Assassination Attempt

Filed under: On This Day — Ken @ 7:05 am

On this day in 1835, our seventh President, Andrew Jackson, survived an assassination attempt as he left a funeral. The would-be assassin was beaten down by President Jackson with a cane after both of the assassin’s handguns mis-fired.

January 27, 2011

733 Healthcare Waivers for 2011

Filed under: Health Care,Politics — Ken @ 6:30 pm


Over at the Department of Health and Human Services website they have a list of the 733 so-called mini-med healthcare plans that failed to meet the minimum coverage ceiling of $750,000 required on the Affordable Care Act. Healthcare plans that can not meet the minimum coverage amount without significant increases in premiums can apply for the waivers which are good for one year.

The waivers cover about 2.2 million individuals.

Keep in mind, when supporters of “ObamaCare” say that one of the benefits currently enjoyed by Americans is the removal of annual and lifetime benefit caps, they aren’t including these 2.2 million Americans that were “excused” from that benefit, simply because meeting the requirement would cause their coverage costs to skyrocket – something this administration has denied in the past, while granting 733 waivers because of the increases they denied would occur.

NOTE: The video above is from just over two months ago, back when the waiver list only included 111 organizations.

Sources:

Department of Health and Human Services: Helping Americans Keep the Coverage They Have and Promoting Transparency

Washington Examiner: Examiner Editorial: Obamacare is even worse than critics thought

upi.com: Sebelius: Insurance increases unjustified

Whitehouse.gov: Key Provisions of Health Reform that Take Effect Immediately

Lancaster High School Segregates Some Students

Filed under: Education,In The News — Ken @ 11:37 am


At McCaskey East High School in Lancaster, PA, the administration has crunched the numbers and found that it wasn’t preparing a significant, identifiable portion of its student population for success, and is taking steps to address the needs of those students.

After bravely reviewing the data, the high school found that the majority of black students were not ranking as even “proficient” in either reading or writing, and rather than appear “politically correct” and continuing with the status quo, this district has re-arranged homerooms by race, placing the black students in single gender homerooms and for another 20 minutes a month in a race/gender segregated assembly (I assume). All classes are as they were before, all the children mixed together…

While it is still to early to tell if this change is helping these students, anecdotal evidence indicates this change is making a difference for these under-performing students:

In the few weeks since the mentors began holding their homeroom meetings, the mentors claim they’ve seen changes in their students. “You notice the level of interaction is different, the way they talk is different,” one mentor pointed out. “One of the simplest things you notice right away is, before, the pants were hanging down; now, they are up. The shirt is tucked in, where before, it was hanging out. That’s tangible.”

Only about one in three black students in this high school can read at a “proficient” level, only one in four black students is “proficient” in math (based on state-wide standardized testing). The school is failing this population, and absent the ability of parents to choose a different school the only option is for the school district is to focus efforts to help these students.

About three out of four of the other students are “proficient” in reading and two out of three are “proficient” in math. Until the black students are brought up to even these levels, focused efforts are justified, appearances be damned.

Critics will likely parrot half-understood constitutional principles, and refute scholarly studies supporting the effort, but the simple truth is that the current system isn’t meeting the needs of these students, and this appears to be helping.

As one teacher noted:

“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity,” one math teacher and mentor, Michael Mitchell, remarked, quoting the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Mitchell now says he hopes to inspire his black male students during their short daily meetings, noting that some of them were even failing gym class.

“They’re all young. They’re all strong. They’re all athletic. But they’re failing because they chose not to participate,” he said. “That‘s an example of ’conscientious stupidity.’ You can do but you choose not to do. These are the things we need to get away from.”

Sources:

The Blaze: PA High School Defends Plan to Segregate Students by Race & Gender

Strength to Love, by Martin Luther King, 1963 (Source of “’conscientious stupidity” quote)

Wikipedia.com: Political Correctness

Oyez.org: Brown v. Board of Education

The Journal of Negro Education: Single-Sex Classrooms and Academic Achievement in Two Inner-City Schools

January 26, 2011

When the Wind Fails

Filed under: In The News — Ken @ 1:04 am



It seems over in Britain they have an aggressive goal for so-called “green energy” – they are working towards having as much as 30 percent of all electricity in Britain be “green” by the year 2020, but there is a small problem… They are relying heavily on wind power to help meet that 30% goal, and at best it has supplied as much as 8% of the total electricity in Britain, but sometimes, when the wind stops blowing, it produces as little as 0.2%. But fear not – the Brit’s have a plan, burn oil and coal!

In the last quarter ending December 23, wind turbines produced on average 8.6 per cent of our electricity, but the moment the latest bad weather arrived with snow and freezing temperatures, this figure fell to as low as 1.8 per cent.

The slack was immediately taken up by efficient, but dirty, coal-fired power stations and oil-fired plants.

So, Britain must build additional, brand-new oil and/or coal-burning power plants to pick up the slack OR prepare consumers for blackouts as the windmills fail to live up to their potential. It is estimated that the cost of the windmills and their requisite backup power generators will double the average household annual electric bill to 2,400 pounds in ten years.

Source:

The Daily Mail: Customers face huge bill for wind farms that don’t work in the cold

January 25, 2011

What the State Giveth

Filed under: Taxation — Ken @ 11:38 pm


The Georgia Department of Revenue, without any warning or notification, withdrew tax refunds it had direct-deposited in some taxpayer bank accounts just a few days earlier. The Department of Revenue cited the possibility of their being errors in the calculations to determine their refunds when asked about the reason for the withdrawals.

A department spokesman said in a written statement that there was a computer system error in the calculation of refunds. To ensure that correct payments were made, the department took the money back. It has corrected the computer error and will begin reissuing refunds.

But what about those taxpayers who saw the deposits in their accounts and spent some or all of their refunds before the State clawed the funds back?

The Department of Revenue will work with banks to try to resolve banking charges made against taxpayers, according to a written statement from the department.

I’m sure that will work out fine for the taxpayers…

Source:

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: State tax refunds taken back, Georgians left with overdraft fees

Possible Commitment from POTUS in SOTU tonight?

Filed under: In The News — Ken @ 12:03 pm


Anyone want to wager if one of President Obama’s commitments in tonight’s State of The Union speech he will commit to actually meet with the remaining half-dozen or so members of his cabinet he has not met with yet? I guess they don’t play golf or basketball


Sources:

The Blaze: NY Magazine: Obama Never Had Any Contact With Half a Dozen Top Cabinet Members in First Two Years

Human Events: President Obama Golfs 52 Times While U.S. Suffers

lmgtfy.com: president obama basketball

Whitehouse.gov: President Obama Talks Basketball with Marv Albert

Julian Assange v. Sarah Palin

Filed under: In The News — Ken @ 11:08 am

Apparently WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was feeling ignored, so his attorney decided to try to get his client back in the news by issuing a threat against Sarah Palin for, amazingly, making threats against his client:

Anyone who incites others to commit violence against his client, even outside Australia, Stary says, is violating Australian law, and can be held accountable for it.

“Certainly if Sarah Palin or any of those other politicians come to Australia, for whatever purpose, then we can initiate a private prosecution, and that’s what we intend to do,” Stary said.

Source: npr.com

I have a few questions:

  • Why does Sarah Palin (or “any of those other politicians”) have to visit Australia before charges can be made?
  • Does Australian Law really cover speech that occurs in America involving an Australian citizen?
  • If Sarah Palin violated Australian laws (as alleged), why must the lawyer “initiate a private prosecution”? Why wouldn’t the Australian government initiate prosecution?

I think Mr. Assange is looking for a sixteenth minute of fame

Sources:

npr.com: WikiLeak’s Assange Finds Support In Native Australia

Wikipedia: 15 minutes of fame

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