Ken's Project Blog

June 26, 2012

Democrats Question Motive in Holder Contempt Charges

Filed under: In The News,Politics — Ken @ 10:19 am

Last week, Eric Holder (figuratively) held a selection of yet-unreleased documents that he feels relates to Fast & Furious and are “responsive” to the subpoena Congress issued months ago and was willing to turn them over for a promise to remove the threat of contempt charges against him. When the committee refused his offer he withdrew the documents, claimed he had fully responded to the subpoena, and his boss President Obama decided to exert Executive Privilege.

Why won’t the “most transparent” administration release those documents? Is it because they are holding the investigation up for political gain?

The Congressional investigation thus far has established that Fast & Furious was a seriously flawed program that had exactly zero chances of achieving it’s claimed goal of convicting high-level operators in gun running enterprises, but while establishing that point the DoJ under Eric Holder submitted a false document to the committee, and the committee is following up on that false document (why it was created, who approved it’s release, etc.).

The only conviction in the Valerie Plame “leak” case was “Scooter” Libby who provided conflicting testimony under oath – he was not convicted of leaking Plame’s name – that act was committed by Richard Armitage. If you support the prosecution of “Scooter” Libby by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald (even after he knew Libby wasn’t the source of the leak), you really have to support the current efforts by Rep. Issa’s committee. Not because “they did it, now we can do it,” but because lying under oath and presenting false documents to Congress are both serious crimes.

Sources:

The Hill: Dems seek to recast Holder furor as GOP effort to suppress votes

cnn.com: Armitage admits leaking Plame’s identity

May 29, 2012

NYT – The Politics of Religion

Filed under: Health Care,In The News,Politics — Ken @ 12:36 am

Over at the New York Times, they posted an Op-Ed concerning the dust-up over religious affiliated groups and the federal government’s requirement that they provide no-cost contraception, including the morning after pill. It is staggering that so many half-truths were crammed in to such a short Op-Ed.

I’ll refer you to the actual Op-Ed for the complete text, but let me point out a few of the more egregious mis-representations:

“Mr. Obama very publicly backed down from his original position and gave those groups a way around the contraception-coverage requirement.”

and

“After religious groups protested, the administration put the burden on insurance companies to provide free contraceptive coverage to women who work for religiously affiliated employers like hospitals or universities — with no employer involvement.”

This refers to the government deciding that religiously affiliated organizations would not be charged directly for the cost of providing the required contraceptive coverage – hoping people will assume that the insurance companies would reach into their own pocket and pay for the contraceptives from their own profits. Ask yourself this question: Will a religiously affiliated organization see the cost of their health coverage go up, down, or remain the same once this expense is ‘covered’ by the insurance companies? The answer is, the cost will go up – the insurance companies won’t be donating coverage for contraceptives to these organizations (they are not in the business of giving things away) and contraceptives aren’t free… It’s just that there won’t be a line item for the cost on the invoice.

Carefully avoided in this Op-Ed is the impact to those religiously affiliated organizations that choose to self-insure, a common practice among religious hospitals – how does a self-insuring hospital avoid paying for contraceptives?

“The vast majority of Americans do not agree with the Roman Catholic Church’s anti-contraception stance, including most American Catholic women.”

As if that matters. The tenets and beliefs of the Catholic Church are not up for vote based on popular opinion – if the majority of Americans felt it was OK to steal, would the Catholic church find itself left with only nine commandments?

“The real threat to religious liberty comes from the effort to impose one church’s doctrine on everyone.”

This was the final line in the Op-Ed, the author’s attempt at a “coup de grace” – but he falls short: the churches aren’t trying to impose their doctrine “on everyone,” if they were to emerge victorious in this “battle” the only people impacted will be those women that choose to work at religiously affiliated organizations (hospitals, schools, charities, etc.) – they will simply be “forced” to pay full price for contraceptives, and there will be no impact on any other woman covered by employer-subsidised medical insurance.

I find it very telling that the supporters of this contraception regulation feel it is necessary to misrepresent the stakes (“impose doctrine…on everyone“), hold up ludicrous arguments (removing the line-item from the invoice solves the problem), and attempt to convince religious groups that they should let popular opinion polls determine church doctrine…

I agree that someone is trying to impose their doctrine on everyone, but it isn’t the Catholic church.

Sources:

New York Times: The Politics of Religion

December 12, 2011

FDR Letter Opposing Public Employee Collective Bargaining

Filed under: History,In The News — Ken @ 4:45 pm

See below the full text of FDR’s letter to Luther C. Steward, President of the National Federation of Federal Employees, of August 16, 1937.

My dear Mr. Steward:

As I am unable to accept your kind invitation to be present on the occasion of the Twentieth Jubilee Convention of the National Federation of Federal Employees, I am taking this method of sending greetings and a message.

Reading your letter of July 14, 1937, I was especially interested in the timeliness of your remark that the manner in which the activities of your organization have been carried on during the past two decades “has been in complete consonance with the best traditions of public employee relationships.” Organizations of Government employees have a logical place in Government affairs.

The desire of Government employees for fair and adequate pay, reasonable hours of work, safe and suitable working conditions, development of opportunities for advancement, facilities for fair and impartial consideration and review of grievances, and other objectives of a proper employee relations policy, is basically no different from that of employees in private industry. Organization on their part to present their views on such matters is both natural and logical, but meticulous attention should be paid to the special relationships and obligations of public servants to the public itself and to the Government.

All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management. The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with Government employee organizations. The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress. Accordingly, administrative officials and employees alike are governed and guided, and in many instances restricted, by laws which establish policies, procedures, or rules in personnel matters.

Particularly, I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place in the functions of any organization of Government employees. Upon employees in the Federal service rests the obligation to serve the whole people, whose interests and welfare require orderliness and continuity in the conduct of Government activities. This obligation is paramount. Since their own services have to do with the functioning of the Government, a strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to prevent or obstruct the operations of Government until their demands are satisfied. Such action, looking toward the paralysis of Government by those who have sworn to support it, is unthinkable and intolerable. It is, therefore, with a feeling of gratification that I have noted in the constitution of the National Federation of Federal Employees the provision that “under no circumstances shall this Federation engage in or support strikes against the United States Government.”

I congratulate the National Federation of Federal Employees the twentieth anniversary of its founding and trust that the convention will, in every way, be successful.

Very sincerely yours,

Let’s look at each one individually:

“Organizations of Government employees have a logical place in Government affairs.” – Contrary to many people that choose to mis-represent this letter, in it FDR clearly supports the idea of federal employees organizing (forming unions).

“meticulous attention should be paid to the special relationships and obligations of public servants to the public itself and to the Government.” – This is the set-up, in it FDR is preparing the reader, and by extension, the audience when his letter would be read aloud to them, that there is a special relationship between the public employees and the public…

All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. – In other words, public employees can not be considered the same as private-sector employees.

Particularly, I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place in the functions of any organization of Government employees. Upon employees in the Federal service rests the obligation to serve the whole people, whose interests and welfare require orderliness and continuity in the conduct of Government activities. This obligation is paramount. Since their own services have to do with the functioning of the Government, a strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to prevent or obstruct the operations of Government until their demands are satisfied. Such action, looking toward the paralysis of Government by those who have sworn to support it, is unthinkable and intolerable. – Granting government workers the right to act militantly (aka strike) would allow the unions to subvert the will of the people by being able to grind government to a halt unless their demands are met. This would elevate the public sector unions into a sort of fourth branch of government with the ability to effectively nulify any action taken by the other three branches, as the government workers are typically the ones that implement the will of the other three branches of government (Executive, Judicial, and Legislative).

My point is that FDR believed that unions have their place in the public sector, but with some caveats. This letter clearly shows FDR congratulating the National Federation of Federal Employees for it’s insistence of, and adherence to, the understanding that the role of the public sector union is different from that of private sector unions, and that federal employees are held to different standard by virtue of their role in government.

Source:

The American Presidency Project: 112 – Letter on the Resolution of Federation of Federal Employees Against Strikes in Federal Service

October 17, 2011

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and the Protect Life Act

Filed under: Health Care,In The News,Politics — Ken @ 3:18 pm

Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, Let me point out two things – the Hyde Amendment and Executive Order 13535.

The Hyde Amendment prohibits the use of federal funds to pay for abortions under Medicaid, except for some very clearly defined circumstances (rape, incest, protect the life of the mother) and allows states to use their own money to fund abortions if they so choose.

Executive Order 13535 was signed by President Obama in March of 2010 to re-affirm the long-standing position of the Hyde Amendment on the Patient Protection Act (so-called “Obamacare”).

Sources:

youtube: Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) Speaks Against Pro-Life Act (10.13.11)

wikipedia: Hyde Amendment and Executive Order 13535

October 14, 2011

Lighten up Francis

Filed under: In The News — Ken @ 7:19 pm


On September 22, 2011, H.R. 3011 was introduced in the House, entitled the “Transportation Security Administration Authorization Act of 2011” and there is a curious passage that is turning some heads:

Whoever, except with the written permission of the Assistant Secretary for Transportation Security (or the Director of the Federal Air Marshal Service for issues involving the Federal Air Marshal Service), knowingly uses the words ‘Transportation Security Administration’, ‘United States Transportation Security Administration’, ‘Federal Air Marshal Service’, ‘United States Federal Air Marshal Service’, ‘Federal Air Marshals’, the initials ‘T.S.A.’, ‘F.A.M.S.’, ‘F.A.M.’, or any colorable imitation of such words or initials, or the likeness of a Transportation Security Administration or Federal Air Marshal Service badge, logo, or insignia on any item of apparel, in connection with any advertisement, circular, book, pamphlet, software, or other publication, or with any play, motion picture, broadcast, telecast, or other production, in a matter that is reasonably calculated to convey the impression that the wearer of the item of apparel is acting pursuant to the legal authority of the Transportation Security Administration or Federal Air Marshal Service, or to convey the impression that such advertisement, circular, book, pamphlet, software, or other publication, or such play, motion picture, broadcast, telecast, or other production, is approved, endorsed, or authorized by the Transportation Security Administration or Federal Air Marshal Service.[emphasis added]

Source: Section 295 of H.R. 3011

Apparently, the TSA is developing a very thin skin and is engaging in behavior that reminded me of the above scene from the 1981 movie “Stripes”.

Sources:

youtube.com: Stripes – Don’t Call Me Francis

infowars.com: House Bill Would Criminalize Satire of TSA

thomas.loc.gov: H.R. 3011 and Section 295

Videos from Occupy Wall Street protest – 10-9-11

Filed under: In The News,Politics — Ken @ 1:02 am


I shot these videos to try and capture a bit of the “flavor” of the protest – there are no outlandish demands as many have already been posted elsewhere, I just wanted to share what I saw in the two acre park just off of Wall Street.

Videos:

Dancing iPod girl

Drummers

Eviscerates

Hipster Protesters

iPhone protest supporters

Jersey protest family packs it in

Kitchen (rear shot)

Long shot of protest & Handing out Occupied WSJ

Long shot of sitting protesters

Walking past sitting protesters with signs

Tri-corner hat man

The Crowd and Their stuff

Sleeping Men

Sleeping Bags & Infirmary

Signs

Princesses make T-Shirts

Long shot from across street

Panning long shot

Poorman’s Nation, t-shirt creation, “protester” with Mac PowerBook

October 13, 2011

Biden warns of increased Rapes and Murders

Filed under: In The News,Politics — Ken @ 12:34 am

Vice President Joe Biden said the following this week in Flint Michigan:

“In 2008, when Flint had 265 sworn officers on their police force, there were 35 murders and 91 rapes in this city,” the vice president said. “In 2010, when Flint had only 144 police officers, the murder rate climbed to 65 and rapes–just to pick two categories–climbed to 229. In 2011, you now only have 125 shields. God only knows what the numbers will be this year for Flint if we don’t rectify it.”

Seems to me, right before the 2010 elections didn’t the Democraticly-controlled House & Senate pass a bill that the President signed to ensure that 319,000 teachers, nurses, and first-responders would be able to stay on the job?

Apparently the last bill, approved in August, did nothing for the Flint, Michigan police department – why should they believe the next bill will do anything to put more officers on the beat in Flint?

Sources:

youtube.com: In Flint, Michigan, Biden Warns Of More Rapes And Murders If Jobs Bill Not Passed

democraticleader.gov: House Passes Bill to Keep 319,000 Teachers, Police, Firefighters & Nurses on the Job and The Education Jobs and Medicaid Assistance Act

thomas.loc.gov: Bill Summary & Status 111th Congress (2009 – 2010) H.R.1586

senate.gov: Vote Summary H.R. 1586

whitehouse.gov: Statement by the Press Secretary on H.R. 1586

September 30, 2011

Warren Buffett

Filed under: In The News,Politics,Taxation — Ken @ 3:06 pm

Remember when then-Senator Obama was running for President how excited the left was that ‘The Wizard of Omaha,’ Warren Buffet, one of the wealthiest people in America would be advising President Obama? Well, fast-forward a couple years and we find President Obama in what one of his top political advisors described as a ‘Titanic Battle’ for re-election, and he appears to not be listening to his advisors, at least not Mr. Buffett.

Mr. Buffett has come out publicly against (or perhaps confused is a better word) this administration’s decision to rescind a generous tax deduction for corporate jet purchases made during this downturn in the economy. The tax deduction was put in place during the Bush administration, but once President Obama took office he not only extended the deduction, but increased it from 50% to 100%. But once this administration learned how well the American public reacted to the heads of the failing automakers being attacked for taking corporate jets to ask congress for a bailout, the President apparently rethought his attempts to stimulate the corporate jet industry – and held corporate jet owners out as examples of excess, and wanted to rescind the very deductions he implemented. That same deduction for corporate jets (not personal) also applied to other capital investments by American companies, but this administration is willing to hurt the jet industry to score political points. As Mr. Buffett said, why does it make sense for a company to be able to deduct the price of a new locomotive, but not a corporate jet? Both are pieces of equipment used by businesses to make money.

Now the President has set his sights on high-income earners (over $1M/year) that pay a ‘lower tax rate than their secretaries.’ this is based in part on a famous line Mr. Buffett used in a WSJ op-ed piece. First off, I thought the issue was revenue, not rates, and millionaires pay more than their secretaries, but let’s put that aside. The President has rolled-out what he calls “The Buffett Plan” – an alternative minimum tax for people that earn over $1M in income. Mr. Buffett, despite allowing the administration to name the proposal after him has come out against it. Mr. Buffett wanted the very high-earners to be subject to a higher rate than they currently are. The President’s ‘Buffett Plan’ does nothing to increase the taxes owed by say a person who earns millions a year playing a sport or in the entertainment industry – their compensation isn’t covered by the proposed change. Mr. Buffett wanted a tax on them.

Maybe President Obama should start meeting with, and listening to, the advisors he touted on the campaign trail, not reacting to polls and working on his re-election…

September 21, 2011

OnStar is watching you

Filed under: In The News,Technology — Ken @ 7:13 am

20110921-071442.jpgOver at slashdot they have a story about OnStar logging and selling your car’s GPS coordinates, direction, speed and other data to third-parties, even if you don’t subscribe to OnStar.

While some are understandably concerned about privacy issues, I don’t think the value of this data is tied to the fact they know a particular car belongs to a certain person, I think their plan is to try and sell traffic congestion information to GPS companies for real-time updates on route times.

While there could be a lot of money in the ‘Where did my cheating husband go with his Corvette last night when he said he was working late?’ market, I’m not sure how OnStar could advertise such a service and then sell cars to philanderers and criminals. On the other hand, it would make a heck of a lojack alternative!

Sources:

Slashdot.org: OnStar Terms and Conditions Update Raises Privacy Concerns

Internet Essentials, from Comcast

Filed under: In The News,Technology — Ken @ 1:58 am

Do you (or your children) qualify for free school lunches and live in an area served by Comcast? If so, you may qualify for their new Internet Essentials service, providing you with a speedy 1.5 Mb/sec broadband internet connection for a low $9.95/month. What’s that you say, you don’t have a computer? You may qualify for one running Windows 7 for $150 from Comcast. Of course, there are a few requirements:

  1. Be located where Comcast offers Internet service
  2. Have at least one child receiving free school lunches through the National School Lunch Program
  3. Have not subscribed to Comcast Internet service within the last 90 days
  4. Not have an overdue Comcast bill or unreturned equipment

For it’s part, Comcast commits to keeping this offer for three years, without price increases.

Why is Comcast doing this? Because it was a requirement to curry favor with the regulators in Comcast’s bid to acquire NBC/Universal.

Sources:

arstechnica.com: Comcast’s $9.99 Internet for low-income families goes nationwide and Comcast: $10/month Internet—and cheap netbooks—for the poor

internetessentials.com: Internet Essentials

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