STIMULUS MADNESS: Rolling Stone has an opinion, too, see! Waah!

They cannot even make the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame respectable, but Rolling Stone weighs in on the stimulus. But, you know, Jan Weener knows better than us dumb Americans, since he's a rich media person:

The Unserious Opposition 
This is stimulus at its BEST. Thousands of labor-intensive American jobs.... And it has the added bonus of saving taxpayers millions down the line: You reap long term savings in energy costs and have the added bonus of reduced greenhouse emissions. 
This quote was regarding billions for renovating government buildings, for energy savings. Umm, "down the line" is NOT what this ought to be about. That's another bill. BILL ME LATER. Thanks! 

This economic recovery bill ought to focus on JOBS for now and FINANCE for NOW. It ought to focus on NOW, not renovations to old buildings just so the government can be well-kept. "Later" can come once we are sure we have a country that is not full of human scavengers, thanks. JOBS!! Real jobs, not excuses for putting new windows in buildings or replacing perfectly working cars, etc! (These are what the bill had/has in it.)  
BEST Quote: "Worthy but misplaced. We’ll have to spend that money anyhow. Kill it." 
Sadly, that was reserved only for CENSUS spending. Census?!! In a stimulus bill???? So obviously misplaced, like so much in this sad bill, such as the renovation of office buildings! Gag!!

Ironically, who was on the cover of this issue, where the RS editors thrash at the Republicans for trying to cut a paltry 18 billion from an incredibly huge "stimulus" bill? The King of Hollywood Socialists, Sean Penn. Penn, who idolizes Castro and Chavez, is the closest thing to a celebrity socialist ideologue -- assuming there is more in than noggin of his but some creative and humanistic sensibilities and he realizes he's a socialist -- that can be pointed at in America. 

This guy drips with adoration for Castro, a man who violently overthrew a government, promising great reform and a party of the people, but wound up offering only a one-party, Communist-Socialist rule that caused millions to flee to America to enjoy some sort of personal freedom. A man who, in 1981, sent thousands of his worst criminals, by boat, to America, in an event called the Mariel Boatlift. This is a man worthy of Penn's respect? I guess sicne he loves Hugo Chavez so much, it just fits. Oddball. Horrific sense of right and wrong, good and bad, governance and exploitation, this Penn guy.

- jR

'Stimulus' cut from $1 trillion to barely noticeable $780 billion

Agreement Reached on Economic Stimulus |
Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson, a Democratic leader of the bipartisan group that worked on the accord, said tonight on the Senate floor that lawmakers worked “line by line, dollar by dollar” to cut the Senate’s prior proposal. The plan is “about jobs, jobs, jobs,” he said.

About jobs? Well, what good is that for the thieves who gave themselves raises at the end of 2008, all those congressmen and -women.

With only about 70% pork, presumably (I won't even look, I am so disgusted with Congress that I just throw that guess out there willy-nilly), how is anyone ever going to benefit? All those poor, poor millionaires at the Wall Street firms might have to go without their summer homes and yachts!

Job, jobs, job, the senator says. We'll see, won't we?
Most of us are deeply skeptical that this will work,” said [minority Senate leader Mitch] McConnell. “Despite the best efforts of those who worked on the compromise” the plan “is roughly the same size as the House bill.”McConnell said there would be some Republican support for the plan “but not a lot.”

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, urging support for the plan, said, “We now find the housing crisis that is worse, the lending freeze is still upon us, small businesses are shutting down as we speak.”

“Faced with this great and growing economic crisis, we are now close and closer in helping President Obama” rescue the economy, Reid said.
Amazing that Harry Reid's words were about as substantive as a clip from Sesame Street. Simple-minded, that is. Thanks for stating the obvious, as you are so expert at doing, Mr. Reid! I remain stunned that both Reid and Pelosi, who oversaw the least popular Congress in our lifetimes, were granted those leadership roles, again, with the new Congress.

About that "change we can believe in" -- never said anything about Congress! Well, Obama never exactly specified what that particular phrase pertained to. But hey, change is good! Or .... is it, necessarily, you suckers?

- jR

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Why Obama matters to Africans: An observation by a white conservative guy

This is the first such piece I've come across. Good stuff.

Dennis Prager : From Africa With Love -
The election of a man of black African heritage as president of a predominantly white nation, and one that also happens to be the most powerful nation in the world, is taken by blacks the world over to mean that their centuries of suffering under the racist yoke of implied inferiority are coming to an end.

This is especially felt in Africa itself because Africa is largely benighted. Though many African countries have now been independent for nearly half a century, Africa remains particularly poor, particularly corrupt, and particularly violent. Africans, of course, know this, and while Barack Obama’s election will probably do nothing to end African poverty, corruption, or violence, it does seem to mark the end of the era of belief in black inferiority.

Hope. For Africans and their lineage everywhere. That is a good thing. Will it change anything? Who knows. Latin America cannot seem to get past its history of poorly educated masses, generally. Even our close neighbor, Mexico, cannot bring itself to dispose of mass corruption in order to develop further. It is a land where bullies reign and intellects either get killed or go along with the bullies, generally. What of Africa, then? And what else of this fanaticism? Is it due to the color of the skin? The ethnic familiarity? I hope they are happy for good reasons. Period.

What of improvement coming to Africa? Do they simply assume that now the U.S. will throw money at them? I certainly hope not. I hope we throw education and development at them. And push broad Chinese corruption out. In Africa, that is.

- jR

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Heritage Foundation: Populism, socialism do not truly help the masses

Populism: The Illusion that Won't Go Away
Inevitably, corruption, mismanagement and abuse of power consume even the most benevolent of despots, proving that trading freedom for prosperity is an illusion.

As proof, look to the Index of Economic Freedom, published for the 15th straight year by the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal. Once again it demonstrates the direct link between economic opportunity and prosperity.

To create the Index, economists spend months sifting through data to measure business freedom, trade freedom, financial freedom, property rights and levels of corruption (among other factors) to determine the exact level of economic liberty in more than 180 countries. Their findings reveal that the more free a country, the more prosperous it is likely to be.

The Heritage Foundation, like any reasonable organizations parting from the middle in America, but not falling off the far sides, tries hard to make its arguments through research and sharing facts. This particular index of theirs is near and dear to me, as the old adage goes: Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Democracy and capitalism have proven, except to the blind and to those who believe a top-down (government leading and people following) society ultimately works for everyone, that a population that is able to move in freedom, to make mistakes and to vote according to their experiences in life, will do better than one that is ordered about by its government.

It hasn't worked in China, which is for one thing a crooked monetary system -- they basically invent their currency's value to compensate for any problems they see, keeping it artificially low. It didn't prove beneficial to Soviet Union citizens -- Stalin, who was Lenin's close confidant in the 1917 revolution took over and trounced anyone his paranoid mind didn't like. Extremists didn't improve things for Iraq, or Afghanistan. It couldn't have, even if it remained, in those places. 

It is not working in Latin America, which seems to repeat the same errors, generation after generation, rejecting democracy for something far less dependent on the education and betterment of all, and more dependent on fooling the poor and uneducated and keeping the educated at bay. Venezuela, Bolivia, Chile, Guatemala, ... the list would go on.

Have a look for yourself. I don't believe democracy and capitalism are free from corruption, and I don't believe any one man's ideas, or any one party's leaders, on the whole allow us to succeed. But we're at least doing it better than a state that holds up one man, or one party, as the entity with all the answers and none of the bad ideas. I think the battle of ideas in the USA, and our willingness to NOT see socialism as a solution to the problems of our poor, undereducated, and otherwise, and providing services for them makes us one of the world's great nations.

I am like any other person who is vulnerable in bad times, and I certainly recognize my human weaknesses: I wish, in bad times, for the support of the government until things balance out for me. However, that, beyond a certain degree, these things fly in the face of what has put the US where it is. Big government best describes a socialist or dictatorship country. America should not fall from a path of democracy and capitalism for fear of hard times. 

United States information on economic freedom | Facts, data, analysis, charts and more
United States is the world's oldest constitutional democracy, and its size, culturally and ethnically diverse population, and republican form of government that reserves significant powers to the state and local levels all promote a competitive atmosphere in which a variety of economic policies and strategies can be pursued.
U.S. tax rates are burdensome. Both the top income tax rate and the top corporate tax rate are 35 percent. Other taxes include a property tax, an estate tax, and excise taxes, and additional income and sales taxes are assessed at the state and local levels. In the most recent year, overall tax revenue as a percentage of GDP was 28.2 percent.
Regulations are generally straightforward and consistent with international standards, although concerns have been raised about the intrusive nature and cost of the 2002 Sarbanes–Oxley Act. Government interventions in financial markets in the second half of 2008, including purchase of assets and measures affecting the allocation of credit, if not rapidly undone, indicate a serious loss of financial freedom that will lower future U.S. economic freedom scores.
The debate will continue. The arguments are ridiculous on the side of socialism, for anyone truly appreciative of what freedom and liberty are. But the Perhaps Sean Penn will keep it up for the entertainment of all who are not fooled by the shallowness of his intellect in such things. What's truly shocking is that anyone, including the Huffington Post, pays homage to his words at all.

- jR

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Dashing through the snow-job: Daschle left something out

(From the NY Times, but here via a Texas daily paper)

Now nominee Daschle has tax explaining to do | Dallas Morning News
Senate Democrats rushed Saturday to save the nomination of their former leader, Tom Daschle, as President Obama's health and human services secretary, while the White House sought to explain how Daschle survived its vaunted vetting despite his failure to pay $128,000 in taxes.

Senior administration officials said that although Daschle was aware as early as June 2008 that he might have to pay back taxes for the use of a car and driver provided by a private equity firm, he did not inform the president's transition team until mid-December, several days after Obama announced Daschle as his pick for health secretary.
A normal person would feel guilty for owing that much in taxes. This was a US senator. Should it kill his chances? I should hope not, seeing an outright tax evader is our Treasury head now. Still, owing $128,00 in taxes and gaining a sweet position of influence don't really impress me. It kinda makes me think he's more about himself than average Americans.

As for it being from the Times, it looks like they are making some effort to show the honeymoon is over for Obama. That, or they do not like longtime headliners Daschle.

- jR

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