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Senator Menendez is keeping busy

March 26, 2010 2 comments

Speaking of New Jersey, how pathetic is our Senate delegation?

The economy is in shambles, the state is facing a severe budget crisis and we have the highest tax rate in the nation.  Senator Lautenberg is close to ninety years of age and is basically a rubber stamp for a left-wing agenda.

And then there’s Bob Menendez.

In the midst of our economic issues and championing a ruinous healthcare reform legislation, what’s on the top of his list of priorities?

He’s worried about the scourge of diversity:

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) has begun an unofficial “diversity survey” of Fortune 500 companies and has told the companies that if they do not participate in the survey, he will make their names public.

The survey has already drawn fire from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as “a fishing expedition” and from legal experts, who say companies may violate federal employment laws by even asking such questions of their employees or suppliers.

Menendez, the only Hispanic in the Senate, wants to find out how many minorities, women and disabled people serve as top executives or members of the firms’ corporate boards, as well as the “demographic makeup of your suppliers.”

If a company responds to Menendez’s request, its information will be kept anonymous, although it will be aggregated in a report Menendez plans to issue later this year.

“Completion of this survey will show your commitment to improving diversity among the highest ranks of your corporation,” Menendez wrote in a March 8 letter sent to the companies.

[...]

Menendez said the survey had nothing to do with being chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, where one of his main roles is raising money and courting wealthy donors. And he rejected any suggestion that a company that did not comply with the survey could be the object of a boycott.

Yeah.  This has nothing to do with Democratic party fundraising, baseless and frivolous lawsuits, the 2010 elections or any of that nonsense.  This is about diversity.  Because it’s a US Senator’s job to intimidate and bully private enterprise into hiring the right color people.

2012 can’t come soon enough to be rid of this jerk.

Rumblings in the Garden State

March 25, 2010 Leave a comment

Chris Christie, the governor of my home state of New Jersey, is making a name for himself.

How does a chief executive do that?  By standing up to the special interests and public sector unions which have held the state in a financial strangle-hold for years.

Specifically, Gov. Christie isn’t making any friends at the NJEA, the belligerent state teachers union:

All around the state, school districts are planning painful, unprecedented amputations of staff and programs. Local officials are cursing Gov. Chris Christie’s proposed cuts in state aid, but they should be pointing fingers at themselves, too.

When they should have been holding the line on salaries for the past several years, many boards of education instead hugged teachers at the bargaining table and slipped tens of millions of dollars into their pockets with a wink. Now, we’re paying a price.

[...]

This week, the governor called for a one-year pay freeze for teachers, and the New Jersey School Boards Association immediately announced its support.

The Star-Ledger has called for a pay freeze for teachers and all public employees to help drowning taxpayers catch their breath.

But the teachers union doesn’t believe its members should share the pain.

When asked why not, the New Jersey Education Association’s defiant president Barbara Keshishian told a Star-Ledger editorial board recently, “Because we have negotiated contracts.”

[...]

If the NJEA has its way, teachers will watch friends and colleagues get laid off, class sizes increased and extracurricular programs eliminated — rather than reopen sacrosanct contracts and accept a pay freeze. Remember, these are the same teachers who chanted, “Think of the kids!” during their protest of the governor’s proposed funding cuts. Local union chapters should think of the kids (and the suffering taxpayers), defy their militant state leadership and agree to a pay freeze. It’s the right thing to do.

A decade of liberal governance by Democrats like John Corzine and Jim McGreevey have left the state on the brink of financial disaster.  Governor Christie has made it abundantly clear to Jerseyans that tough choices will have to be made to correct our fiscal situation.

In order to do this, concessions need to be made by public workers and their unions, to alleviate the pressure on what is one of the highest middle class tax rates in the country.

But politically, conservatives across the country should learn from what Gov. Christie is doing here.  He’s not afraid to call out the unions and take them to the mat.  He makes it clear that the citizens and the administration have nothing against teachers.  Nothing against students.  It’s about the unions and their radical allegiance to their union bosses instead of educating children.    Christie isn’t afraid to make this distinction.  For too long the radical left has been allowed to use students and teachers as human shields against necessary fiscal action that hurt their pocket books.   Christie is calling them out on it, with success.

The last polls show that Christie has an approval rating of 52%.  As he calls out the unions more, his poll numbers increase.  It’s not about the teachers–it’s about the unions.

As conservatives try to regain their voice on the national stage, as they attempt to take steps back towards fiscal conservatism, they should look here to New Jersey and see how it can be done.

Surprise!

March 25, 2010 Leave a comment

What did you think healthcare reform was all about?

The bill is the most sweeping piece of federal legislation since Medicare was passed in 1965. It aims to smooth out one of the roughest edges in American society — the inability of many people to afford medical care after they lose a job or get sick. And it would do so in large measure by taxing the rich.

A big chunk of the money to pay for the bill comes from lifting payroll taxes on households making more than $250,000. On average, the annual tax bill for households making more than $1 million a year will rise by $46,000 in 2013, according to the Tax Policy Center, a Washington research group. Another major piece of financing would cut Medicare subsidies for private insurers, ultimately affecting their executives and shareholders.

The benefits, meanwhile, flow mostly to households making less than four times the poverty level — $88,200 for a family of four people. Those without insurance in this group will become eligible to receive subsidies or to join Medicaid. (Many of the poor are already covered by Medicaid.) Insurance costs are also likely to drop for higher-income workers at small companies.

Finally, the bill will also reduce a different kind of inequality. In the broadest sense, insurance is meant to spread the costs of an individual’s misfortune — illness, death, fire, flood — across society. Since the late 1970s, though, the share of Americans with health insurance has shrunk. As a result, the gap between the economic well-being of the sick and the healthy has been growing, at virtually every level of the income distribution.

You didn’t think it was actually about healthcare did you??

Obamacare is merely the next bulkhead

March 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Derbyshire:

[...] Western civilization, over my lifetime, has been a slow-sinking ship. The few who have known what is happening have worked desperately to seal the watertight doors, repair the fissures, pump out the flooded zones. It’s been a losing fight, though.

The tilt of the decks is harder and harder to ignore. Last night, a major bulkhead gave way. Soon a funnel will topple over with a great crash and a shower of sparks. Yet still the band is playing, the people are dancing, the food coming up from the galley.

I’m finding it hard to disagree with him here.  A few more days, maybe.

MI-1: About Dan Benishek

March 22, 2010 5 comments

The supposed heir apparent to be the Republican challenger to Bart Stupak for Michigan’s 1st congressional district.  In the wake of Stupak pathetic Chamberlain-esque cave-in for statism, Benishek’s Facebook page following has soared and I noticed a lot of chattering on Twitter last night.

Allahpundit is underwhelmed:

Even with the new scrutiny and his pro-life betrayal, he’ll be tough to beat, and yet Benishek didn’t think to hire staff or lay the groundwork for a Stupak “sellout” narrative — or even open a PayPal account! — while all the abortion sturm and drang was going on.

I’m just as unimpressed, not that I’m some sort of political sage or anything.  But I did listen to Benishek’s interview on Mark Levin’s radio show earlier tonight, and quite frankly, I don’t even think Levin was impressed.

When asked about the 1st district and what kind of electorate existed there, his response was something to the effect of “..some vote Democrat and some vote Republican” (I’m writing this from memory).  Strike one.

When Levin asked him how people could contribute to his campaign, Benishek seemed unsure of exactly how that could be done.  It was almost as if he didn’t know he had a Facebook page. 

There was a less-than-ecstatic feeling throughout the whole interview, as if Levin had to pull him along.

Enthusiasm is contagious, you know when you feel it.  There was none of that in this interview. 

But again, I’m no expert.  Maybe I was just in a bad mood tonight.  If someone else heard the interview and came away with a different take, I’d love to hear it.

Fait Accompli

March 21, 2010 Leave a comment

From perusing the blogosphere over the last hour or so, there seems to be two trains of thought from conservative opinion right now:  the “dig deeper and fight harder” crowd and the “America RIP” crowd. 

As a general pessimist, I fall into the latter category.  Barring some last minute miracle in the Senate, I really don’t see how this monstrosity doesn’t get through.

Mark Steyn, who’s been dead-on accurate in his assessment on the healthcare debate and it’s implications on our country and culture, opines:

It’s a huge transformative event in Americans’ view of themselves and of the role of government. You can say, oh, well, the polls show most people opposed to it, but, if that mattered, the Dems wouldn’t be doing what they’re doing. Their bet is that it can’t be undone, and that over time, as I’ve been saying for years now, governmentalized health care not only changes the relationship of the citizen to the state but the very character of the people. [...]

[I]t’s also unaffordable. That’s why one of the first things that middle-rank powers abandon once they go down this road is a global military capability. If you take the view that the US is an imperialist aggressor, congratulations: You can cease worrying.

But, if you think that America has been the ultimate guarantor of the post-war global order, it’s less cheery. Five years from now, just as in Canada and Europe two generations ago, we’ll be getting used to announcements of defense cuts to prop up the unsustainable costs of big government at home.

And, as the superpower retrenches, America’s enemies will be quick to scent opportunity.

Patterico:

Expansion of government is historically a one-way ratchet. We’re still stuck with the New Deal, and we will never be rid of the impossible burdens it has placed on our government in the form of entitlements we can’t afford. We’re still stuck with the “Great Society” — the fabled “welfare reform” of the Clinton era being nothing but a tiny Band-aid on a gushing, cavernous chest wound — and we’ll never be rid of the culture of listlessness and criminality it spawned.

In truth, the American experiment began to end during the New Deal era, when the Supreme Court ruled that people couldn’t grow their own crops on their own land for their own purposes if Congress said they couldn’t. This is just the logical end-point.

By the way, I’m a glutton for punishment so I’ve been watching the proceedings on C-Span.  And I just have to say one thing:  I have no misconceptions about these Congressional left-wing Democrats being sanctimonious hypocritical blowhards, but if I hear one more Democrat compare healthcare coverage to civil rights, I will throw my laptop into the TV screen…

Stupak caves

March 21, 2010 Leave a comment

Not really a big surprise from my standpoint.  I always thought the moderate Democrats were spineless and it was just a matter of time.

It seems that Stupak and his gang of twelve six who knows how many, met with the White House today and just announced that he’s voting yes to this ruinous healthcare bill.  What was the payoff?  The President signed an Executive Order essentially banning any stipulations in the bill from funding abortions.  It’s basically a worthless piece of paper (see EOs closing down Gitmo), so Stupak bought into the Obama charm fest hook, line and sinker.

And, of course, there’s the hypocrisy of it all:

We spent the eight years through January 19, 2009, listening to Democrats complain that President Bush had purportedly caused a constitutional crisis by issuing signing statements when he signed bills into law. Democrats and Arlen Specter (now a Democrat) complained that these unenforceable, non-binding expressions of the executive’s interpretation of the laws Bush was signing were a usurpation Congress’s power to enact legislation.

But now Democrats are going to abide not a mere signing statement but an executive order that purports to have the effect of legislation — in fact, has the effect of nullifying legislation that Congress is simultaneously enacting?

This particuar EO is also a nullity — presidents cannot enact laws, the Supreme Court has said they cannot impound funds that Congress allocates, and (as a friend points out) the line-item veto has been held unconstitutional, so they can’t use executive orders to strike provisions in a bill. So this anti-abortion EO is blatant chicanery: if the pro-lifers purport to be satisfied by it, they are participating in a transparent fraud and selling out the pro-life cause.

But even if all that weren’t true, how do we go from congressional Democrats claiming that signing statements were a shredding of the Constitution to congressional Democrats acquiescing in a claim that the president can enact or cancel out statutory law by diktat?

It’s monotonous at this point to highlight the hypocrisy.  As McCarthy notes, the left had spent the past decade lamenting the alleged “imperial presidency” of George Bush.  But that of course, is ok when you’re a liberal Democrat pushing through a radical agenda.

Also, this should teach Republicans to never have to depend on Democrats to stop liberalism, no matter how “moderate” they appear:

[T]here was always a danger in letting the outcome hinge on pro-life liberals who in principle supported this approach to health care reform — indeed, would support a bill to the left of this one — as long as it contained satisfactory language on abortion.

Elections have consequences.

Tyranny on parade

March 21, 2010 Leave a comment

Just in case MSNBC or CNN decide to leave the parts of healthcare reform that will significantly affect the lives of middle class Americans, out of their incessant praise of the proposals, here are some highlights:

  • IRS agents verify if you have “acceptable” health care coverage;
  • IRS has the authority to fine you up to $2,250 or 2 percent of your income (whichever is greater) for failure to prove that you have purchased “minimum essential coverage;”
  • IRS can confiscate your tax refund;
  • IRS audits are likely to increase;
  • IRS will need up to $10 billion to administer the new health care program this decade;
  • IRS may need to hire as many as 16,500 additional auditors, agents and other employees to investigate and collect billions in new taxes from Americans; and
  • Nearly half of all these new individual mandate taxes will be paid by Americans earning less than 300 percent of poverty ($66,150 for a family of four.)

You should make an appointment with a therapist if you still believe that “healthcare reform” as the Democrats are about to pass, is about reforming healthcare and not the expansion of Federal powers.

Deemocracy

March 21, 2010 Leave a comment

Steyn is spot on with this morning’s column, as usual.  It’s a must read. 

The money quotes:

Obama is government, and government is Obama. That’s all he knows and all he’s ever known. You elected to the highest office in the land a man who’s never run a business or created wealth or made a payroll, and for his entire adult life has hung out with guys who’ve demonized (deemonized?) such grubby activities.

Many of which associates he appointed to high office: Obama’s cabinet has less experience of private business than any in the last century. What it knows is government, and government’s default mode is to grow, and grow [...]

Look around you, and take it all in. From now on, it gets worse. If you have kids, they’ll live in smaller homes, drive smaller cars, live smaller lives. If you don’t have kids, you better hope your neighbors do, because someone needs to spawn a working population large enough to pay for the unsustainable entitlements the Obama party has suckered you into thinking you’re entitled to.

The unfunded liabilities of current entitlements are $100 trillion. Try typing that onto your pocket calculator. You can’t. There isn’t enough room for all the zeroes, and, even if they made a pocket calculator large enough, and a pocket large enough, you’d be walking with a limp.

To these existing entitlements, Obama and his enforcers in Congress propose to add the grandest of all: health care, on a scale no advanced democracy has ever attempted.

Hannity charity scam?

March 20, 2010 Leave a comment

Never been a fan of Sean Hannity.  I don’t particularly care for the cheap theatrics and smugness of his style.  (I love how the “fight for conservatism” doesn’t start until his book is released).  Also, having Karl Rove and Dick Morris on your show three times a week doesn’t exactly help the cause. 

Stories like this from Debbie Schlussel don’t help change my opinion of him one bit.

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