Monday, May 17, 2010
Another reason to withdraw from the United Nations
More bureaucratic nest feathering for negligible benefit to anyone other than the corrupt bureaucrats themselves
The World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations' public health arm, is moving full speed ahead with a controversial plan to impose global consumer taxes on such things as Internet activity and everyday financial transactions like paying bills online — while its spending soars and its own financial house is in disarray.
The aim of its taxing plans is to raise "tens of billions" of dollars for WHO that would be used to radically reorganize the research, development, production and distribution of medicines around the world, with greater emphasis on drugs for communicable diseases in poor countries.
The irony is that the WHO push to take a huge bite out of global consumers comes as the organization is having a management crisis of its own, juggling finances, failing to use its current resources efficiently, or keep its costs under control — and it doesn't expect to show positive results in managing those challenges until a year from now, at the earliest.
Fox News initially reported last January on the "suite of proposals" for "new and innovative sources of funding," prepared by a 25-member panel of medical experts, academics and health care bureaucrats, when it was presented of a meeting of WHO's 34-member Executive Board in Geneva.
Now the proposals are headed for the four-day annual meeting of the 193-member World Health Assembly, WHO's chief legislative organ, which begins in Geneva on May 17.
The Health Assembly, a medical version of the United Nations General Assembly, will be invited to "take note" of the experts' report. It will then head back with that passive endorsement to another Executive Board meeting, which begins May 22, for further action. It is the Executive Board that will "give effect" to the Assembly's decisions.
What it all means is that a major lobbying effort could soon be underway to convince rich governments in particular to begin taxing citizens or industries to finance a drastic restructuring of medical research and development on behalf of poorer ones....
The rationale for the drastic restructuring of medical R and D, as outlined in the group of experts' report, is the skewed nature of medical research in the developed world, which concentrates largely on non-communicable diseases, notably cancer, and scants research on malaria, tuberculosis and other communicable scourges of poor countries. It cites a 1986 study that claimed that only 5 percent of global health research and development was applied to the health problems of developing countries.
(In dissecting contemporary medical R and D, however, the expert report glosses over the historical fact that many drugs for fighting communicable diseases in developing countries are already discovered; the issue in many cases is the abysmal living and hygienic conditions that make them easily transmitted killers.) ....
Obama's invisible Islam
Democrats refuse to admit who the jihadist enemy is
During questioning before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, a visibly nervous Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. tried valiantly not to utter the expression "radical Islam." The twisting began when Rep. Lamar Smith, Texas Republican, asked whether the men behind three recent terrorist incidents - the Fort Hood massacre, the Christmas Day bombing attempt and the Time Square bombing attempt - "might have been incited to take the actions that they did because of radical Islam."
Mr. Holder said there are a "variety of reasons" why people commit terror attacks. That can be true, but in these cases there was one reason: radical Islam. The attorney general said you have to look at each case individually. That's fine, but when that is done, one comes face to face with radical Islam every time. He said that of the variety of reasons people might commit terror, "some of them are potentially religious." Yes, like radical Islam. When pressed, what Mr. Holder would finally allow is, "I certainly think that it's possible that people who espouse a radical version of Islam have had an ability to have an impact on people like [Times Square bomber Faisal] Shahzad."
Mr. Holder mentioned Anwar al-Awlaki, the U.S.-born radical cleric now holed up in Yemen who has been mentioned in connection with all three attacks. Mr. Holder said that Mr. al-Awlaki "has a version of Islam that is not consistent with the teachings of [the faith]." Mr. Holder did not go into details to back up his assertion that Mr. al-Awlaki, an Islamic scholar, is somehow at odds with his own faith, nor did he pinpoint exactly what Muslim teachings he was referring to.
The Obama administration seems to have issued an internal gag order that forbids any official statements that might cast even the most extreme interpretations of the Islamic religion in a negative light. The "force protection review" of the Fort Hood massacre omitted any mention of shooter Nidal Malik Hasan's openly radical Islamic worldview or the fact that he made the jihadist war cry "Allahu Akbar!" before opening fire. Initially, the Obama administration refused to even call the massacre an act of terrorism, much less radical Islamic terrorism.
Last year, the Department of Homeland Security Domestic Extremist Lexicon, which was pulled out of circulation in the wake of controversy with other department publications, listed Jewish extremism and various forms of Christian extremism as threats but made no mention of any form of Muslim extremism. The Feb. 1, 2010 Quadrennial Homeland Security Review discusses terrorism and violent extremism but does not mention radical Islam as a motivator, or in any context. The 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review likewise avoids any terminology related to Islam.
The Obama administration may not like to think of being at war with radical Islam, but the jihadists are definitely at war with the United States. Rather than running from the expression "radical Islam," the administration should be openly discussing the ideological motives of the terrorists and finding ways to delegitimize them. Instead of hedging, obfuscating and ignoring, these Democrats should confront the challenge frankly, openly and honestly. Pretending that a radical, violent strain of Islam does not exist will not make it go away. To the contrary, it will make the situation much worse.
President Obama's continuing solicitude toward the faith of Muhammad is inexplicable, and as these acts of denial continue, it is becoming dangerous. The United States will not defeat an enemy it is afraid to identify.
Bailing out foreign banks
U.S. taxpayers are subsidizing bad business overseas
House Republicans introduced legislation last week to prohibit U.S. taxpayer funds from being used to bail out a teetering European economy, especially upside-down Greece. "If the Obama administration has its way, the U.S. will contribute to a nearly trillion-dollar bailout of European countries with economic crises that are a direct result of wasteful government spending," said Rep. Mike Pence, the House Republican Conference chairman from Indiana. The congressman is right. President Obama should focus on U.S. economic troubles instead of throwing our cash down a European rathole.
As things stand, the U.S. government is giving $30 billion in subsidized loans to Canadian banks, and the Obama administration has begun bailing out banks from Japan to Europe. The administration won't say how much money is being doled out and who is getting it. Given American anger about bailing out our own banks, there's sure to be a strong political backlash when taxpayers learn their money is being shipped off to foreign banks.
The new policy mirrors what the Federal Reserve did last year when it gave loans to U.S. banks at nearly zero percent interest. The banks turned around and used these government loans to lend money back to the federal government through the purchase of U.S. Treasury bonds, on which the banks received higher interest rates. Extending this practice to foreign banks is an outright gift to foreign shareholders.
Why the United States should subsidize foreign banks and their shareholders is a mystery. Compared to the U.S. economic crisis, many of these economies have done fairly well. Since Mr. Obama became president, U.S. unemployment has risen from 7.7 percent to 9.9 percent. Canada's unemployment rate has only gone from 7.3 to 8.1 percent. Our own unemployment rate has soared relative to the rates in the European Union and Japan as well.
A second smaller part of the bailout comes from a $54 billion International Monetary Fund loan to Greece and other European countries. Again, it's a mystery exactly how much of this loan will be the responsibility of the United States, but the number is likely to be at least $10 billion, since America typically contributes 17 percent of the IMF budget.
Subsidizing Greece doesn't make any more sense. The Greek government possesses valuable assets such as land and corporate stock it can sell off to pay its debts. Instead, Athens is sitting on odd investments such as casinos, banks, jumbo jets and even a lucrative sports-betting organization. Greeks may not want to let go of those assets, but there's no reason American taxpayers should fork over dollars to subsidize Greek nationalistic pride. This is particularly the case given that the Greek government spends 44 percent of gross domestic product, which is too much. American taxpayers shouldn't feel sorry for a country that holds out a tin cup while refusing to cut government spending.
In September 2008, 400 top U.S. economists came out to oppose a bailout of U.S. financial institutions, and the American public overwhelmingly opposed the bailout bill. Even at the beginning of last year, when claims of a crisis still gripped Washington, a Rasmussen survey showed wide American opposition by a margin of 56 percent to 20 percent.
Last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel lost her majority in Germany's upper-house of parliament as a result of her support for an unpopular Greek bailout. If Washington politicians don't start listening to their voters, many of them will suffer the same fate as Mrs. Merkel's minions.
Bills Bills Bills: Extenders and Supplementals
(The "doc fix" raises reimbursements to doctors who take Medicare patients. Without it most Medicare patients would not be able to find a doctor)
Next week, House Democrats intend to introduce a package of aid to states, extended unemployement benefits, and tax break extensions. This "must-pass" bill is also seen as a possible vehicle for other difficult pieces of legislation -- namely a five-year doc fix and/or a solution to the currently expired estate tax (the Bush tax cuts called for the estate tax to sunset in 2010 before returning in 2010 at pre-2001 levels, which have fairly widespread bipartisan opposition).
The statutory PAYGO law passed in February 2010 technically would exempt this doc fix for five years or about $88.5 billion, even as PAYGO rules do not. CRFB, of course, strongly opposes these exemptions, and believes we'll pay a price of them in the bond markets. As CRFB President Maya MacGuineas said, “Considering that we face untenable levels of borrowing, an obvious first step would be to stop adding to the debt by paying for any and all policies. Many of these priorities are critical—but no more critical than the need to pay for them.”
The House, last year, did pass a permanent extension of the doc fix. And though that specific vote is now not possible thanks to the PAYGO law enacted in February, some Congressmen are stating that this fix should be a generous one. Others, particularly some Blue Dogs, are growing increasingly uneasy about an expensive and un-offset doc fix.
The estate tax is also affected by statutory PAYGO law as well, which only allows a two year fix to be deficit-financed. According to the JCT, the 10-year cost of extending the estate tax at 2009 levels is just over $250 billion; and the estate tax reform currently being considered is even more generous than that.
While we have yet to see whether the extenders bill will include a five year doc fix or a change to the estate tax, we do know that it will include a number of other provisions, including between $30-35 billion of tax relief, as well as an extension of unemployment benefits, COBRA health subsidies, Medicaid reimbursements to states, and other provisions. Below is a chart of some of the provisions that could potentially be included in this extenders bill. Sander Levin, Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, has expressed interest in a number of revenue-raiser options to offset the costs of the bill. These include changes to the biofuel tax credit and changes to the way we tax the “carried interest” earned by private equity managers and venture capitalists and real estate investors.
According the reports, Senators Kyl and Lincoln are working on finding offsets to cover the costs of estate tax reform.
The religion of peace at work again: "Police have arrested two suspects after an attempted fire-bomb attack on the home of a Swedish cartoonist, controversial for drawing the Prophet Mohammed with the body of a dog. The attack, overnight Friday to Saturday when Lars Vilks was not at home, blackened part of the exterior, but the fire went out by itself although police found glass bottles containing petrol inside. Both suspects, aged 21 and 19, are Swedish nationals of Kosovar origin who reside in the southern city of Landskrona and who were arrested after personal items were found near the scene, police said."
Another botched government computer system in Britain: "A new computer system designed to deliver major financial savings for the country’s biggest police force is running six months late and £10 million over budget, The Times has learnt. The Metropolitan Police had planned to spend £38 million to overhaul its human resources department and save £15 million per year in office costs. But the latest estimate for the project is £48 million and no date has been set for when it will be ready."
More bureaucracy is "success"? "A little more than a month after the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s trillion-dollar overhaul of the nation’s health care system, the administration has already begun to tout its successes. On his weekly radio address, the president argued that it was already providing Americans with ‘real benefits,’ while Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius released a four-page memo laying out the ’significant progress’ she claims her department has already made in implementing the law. ‘Over the coming weeks, our team across government will continue to work diligently to produce the regulations and guidance necessary to implement this landmark new law,’ she concludes. The prospect of adding new regulations to the books may be what passes for excitement in Washington these days, but it’s hardly a ringing endorsement. So while ObamaCare might qualify as victory for Washington’s army of bureaucrats and rulemakers, for the rest of us, there isn’t much to cheer.”
Stamped for failure: "In recent years, things have changed. California has become a place where thousands upon thousands of people have simply made the decision to not bother to work. Instead, they spend their days lounging on the streets, playing music, smoking pot, and harassing passersbys. And they are able to sustain this lifestyle, thanks to California’s generous public assistance policies. In 1976, future president Ronald Reagan, himself a former governor of California, took to the airwaves to assail what he called ‘welfare queens’ — those people who refused to work, instead living comfortably off government handouts. In those decades, it was unlimited cash benefits, or welfare, that created that entire class of indigent people. In 2010, things have changed — at least somewhat. Today, it is food stamp policies that are helping people to refuse to work.”
The poet versus the prophet: "I live in Manhattan, three blocks from Times Square. As near as I can determine, I was walking with a friend about thirty feet from the car bomb on May 1st right around the time it was supposed to detonate. Except for the technical incompetence of a Muslim dirtbag named Faisal Shahzad, I and my friend would likely be dead now. Note the phrase: ‘Muslim dirtbag.’ Neither term by itself accounts for the terrorist act he attempted to perpetrate; both terms, however, are equally complicit in it. It might have been a crapshoot of nature and nurture that wrought a specimen like Shahzad, but it was Islam that inspired him, that gave his fecal stain of a life its depth and its justification. Why is that so difficult to admit? Let me ask the question another way: Where’s the rage? Why won’t anyone say in public what Ginsberg said in the back seat of that cab? If Islam justifies, or is understood by millions of Muslims to justify, setting off a bomb in Times Square, then I shit on Islam. There are times for interfaith dialogue, for mutual respect and compassion. This isn’t one of them.”
There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)
Posted by JR at 11:41 PM