Saturday, November 19, 2011

Was this Obama's first national TV appearance? Hilarious video emerges of President from 1991

Two decades ago Barack Obama was elected as the first black president in history - but of the Harvard Law Review, rather than the U.S. Now a video has emerged of President Obama aged 29 presenting a Black History Minute public service announcement for TBS back in 1991.

It is believed to be his first-ever appearance on national television and his voice sounds much deeper and monotonous compared to the present day.

President Obama was talking about Charles Hamilton Houston, the black lawyer known for teaching Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. The two worked on the landmark court ruling Brown v Board of Education, which marked the end of colour segregation in public schools.

‘The fact that I've been elected shows a lot of progress,’ President Obama told the New York Times in 1990 of his election as Review president.

President Obama, who also attended Columbia University, had previously spent four years leading a initiative helping poor black people in Chicago. He told the New York Times in 1990 that he intended to spend up to three years working in law and then go into politics or community work.

‘The distinguished lawyer Charles Hamilton Houston was born in 1895, eight months before the Supreme Court’s "separate but equal" ruling in Plessy vs. Ferguson,’ he said in the video. ‘He spent his career fighting to overturn that decision.’

He finishes the video saying: 'I'm Barack Obama, remembering Charles Hamilton Houston and celebrating a great moment in our history.'



Treasury Admits What Everybody Already Knew: Taxpayer Losses On GM Bailout Are Going to be Massive

Am I allowed to say, I told you so? The Treasury Department yesterday revised its loss estimate for the Government Motors bailout from $14.33 billion to $23.6 billion, thanks to the company’s sinking stock price. GM’s Sept. 30 closing price, on which the new estimate is based, was $20.18, about $13 less than its December IPO price and $35 less than what is needed for taxpayers to break even.

The $23.6 billion represents a 25 percent loss on the feds $60 billion direct “investment” in GM. But that’s not all that taxpayers are on the hook for. As I explained previously, Uncle Sam’s special GM bankruptcy package allowed the company to write off $45 billion in previous losses going forward. This could work out to as much as $15 billion in tax savings that GM wouldn’t have had had it gone through a normal bankruptcy. Why? Because after bankruptcy, the tax liabilities of companies increase since they have no more losses to write off.

This means that the total hit to taxpayers, who still own about a quarter of the company, could add up to $38.6 billion. That’s even more that the $34 billion on the outside I had predicted in May.

Although GM will never, ever make taxpayers whole, taxpayer losses could be mitigated if GM’s stock price rises before the Treasury sells its remaining equity, something it was supposed to do by year-end but has postponed under the circumstances. But right now at least the prospects of a serious upward move in GM’s stock don’t look too good for reasons at least partly beyond GM’s control.

GM actually has been doing quite well in North America and China with profit margins of 10 percent, among the best in the industry. How long that will last is an open question. That’s because GM’s new competitors are not Toyota and Honda that share its cost structure but Hyndai and Kia that have a far leaner one. These companies concentrate on the small car market and don’t offer a full product line so GM and Ford’s most profitable vehicles—those evil, gas-guzzling, greenhouse-gas emitting SUV’s and pickup trucks—are somewhat insulated from the downward price pressure. But the greens and Obama administration want GM to reorient its product mix away from big cars and toward money-losing hybrids and electrics, something that could well put GM back in a hole.

But that’s part of the administration’s long-term strategy for ruining GM. The company’s big weak spot right now is Europe for two reasons: One, thanks to political pressure and labor resistance, it hasn’t been able to address its bloated cost structure there. Two, Europe’s economy is imploding, weakening car sales.

All of this shows why forcing taxpayers to wager their hard-earned dollars on a risky venture was exactly the wrong thing to do. But the Ostrich-in-Chief Barack Obama, who had assured taxpayers that their GM "investment" would cost them "not a dime," is drawing the opposite lesson, obviously. He has been trumpeting the success of the bailout—repeatedly. He was in Michigan recently claiming that the “investment had paid off.” What’s more, he declared, that now that GM is back, it is just a matter of time before Detroit is too:
“[D]espite all the work that lies ahead, this is a city where a great American industry is coming back to life and the industries of tomorrow are taking root, and a city where people are dreaming up ways to prove all the skeptics wrong and write the next proud chapter in the Motor City's history."

But the “next, proud chapter in Motor City’s history” actually is likely to be bankruptcy. That’s because Detroit is facing a $209 million budget deficit and is going to be completely out of operating cash by April.

Here is a very helpful piece by Detroit Free Press’ editorial page editor, Stephen Henderson, explaining in gory but accurate detail just what a mess the city is in. Perhaps President Obama can glance at it before he returns here and spins some more fairytales?



Upholding the health insurance mandate would encourage endless meddling in our spending decisions

A couple of months ago, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Beth Brinkmann was standing before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, defending the federal law requiring Americans to buy government-approved health insurance, when Judge Laurence Silberman asked her about broccoli. Specifically, he wanted to know whether a law requiring Americans to buy broccoli would exceed the federal government's authority to regulate interstate commerce. "No," Brinkmann said. "It depends," she added.

Silberman evidently was troubled by that shifty answer. Last week he expressed "discomfort with the Government's failure to advance any clear doctrinal principles limiting congressional mandates that any American purchase any product or service in interstate commerce." Oddly, he voiced that concern in the context of a majority opinion upholding the health insurance mandate. Dissenting Judge Brett Kavanaugh congratulated the majority for its candor in "admitting that there is no real limiting principle to its Commerce Clause holding."

For the sake of our teetering federalist system, which helps preserve liberty by restricting the national government to specifically enumerated powers, let's hope the Supreme Court can locate the limit Silberman could not. On Monday the Court agreed to review an August 12 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, which unlike the D.C. Circuit deemed the insurance mandate unconstitutional, saying Congress may not "compel individuals to enter into commerce so that the federal government may regulate them."

If Congress had that authority, Judge Joel Dubina warned in the majority opinion, it would be free to dictate all manner of transactions, beginning with other forms of insurance and extending to decisions about housing, education, investing, and saving for retirement. In fact, he said, if a decision not to buy something can trigger federal intervention, provided it has a "substantial effect" on interstate commerce when combined with similar choices by millions of other individuals, "we are unable to conceive of any product whose purchase Congress could not mandate."

Which brings us back to broccoli. Dissenting from the 11th Circuit's decision, Judge Stanley Marcus said health insurance is not like broccoli because failing to buy it imposes costs on others. Thanks largely to a federal law that requires hospitals to treat people regardless of their ability to pay, taxpayers and policyholders pick up the tab for treating the uninsured.

By contrast, Marcus said, the rationale for a broccoli mandate is that eating more green vegetables would "improve people's health," which would in turn "improve overall worker productivity, thus affecting our national economy." He noted that the Supreme Court has rejected such productivity-based reasoning, precisely because it could apply to almost any activity.

But that is not the only way to justify a broccoli mandate. You could also argue that the failure to eat green vegetables imposes costs on others because it makes people less healthy and therefore more likely to need medical treatment.

That sort of argument becomes increasingly powerful as the government's role in health care expands. When the government forces you to pay for other people's medical treatment, either directly through taxpayer subsidies or indirectly by requiring insurers to take all comers and charge them the same rates regardless of health, you have a financial stake in other people's lifestyle choices, including their diets, their exercise levels, their sleep patterns, their oral hygiene, and their risky habits.

These decisions, aggregated together, have a substantial effect on health care spending, which the Obama administration has vowed to control. Imagine the fun that Congress could have coming up with mandates aimed at coercing healthier lifestyles once it has a constitutional blessing as well as a fiscal justification. Even if it sticks to regulating purchases, the possibilities for meddling will be wide and varied, ranging from food to recreational activities.

If you value your freedom to spend your money as you choose, you should hope the Supreme Court rejects the Obama administration's open-ended view of the Commerce Clause—no matter how you feel about broccoli.



There is a new definition of patriotism, at least for millionaires: Paying more in taxes

Vice President Joe Biden informed us of that a while back, and in case you’ve forgotten, there is a group called Patriotic Millionaires to help remind us. Patriotic Millionaires has been organized by the left-wing Agenda Project, the same people who brought you the “f*ck tea” campaign.

There are about two hundred millionaires involved in Patriotic Millionaires now, including actress Edie Falco, economist Nouriel Roubini, and the Democratic National Committee’s treasurer, Andrew Tobias. They came to Capitol Hill Wednesday for a hearing with the Congressional Progressive Caucus to deliver their message that to reduce the federal deficit, we must return to the pre-Bush tax rates for upper-income earners, with a top-rate of 39.6%.

(Just to be clear, that top tax rate would apply to those earning less than a million annually too. But hey, we need more patriotic six-figure-naires too.)

One of the group’s assumptions is that Congress can be trusted to use new revenue wisely. That seems like a rather shaky premise, especially at a hearing organized by the really big spenders of Congress. So, at the press conference following the hearing, IBD asked about that. David desJardins, a former software engineer at Google (GOOG) and now director of Electrified Games, responded.
IBD: How confident are you that Congress will use this extra tax money to actually reduce the deficit instead of more spending?

David desJardins: I don’t think that’s really our job. I think that’s Congress’ job. I hope Congress does the right thing. I think the American people are here to keep an eye on them. I don’t think anybody is in favor of wasteful spending or unnecessary spending. There is plenty of room for defense cuts, for reductions in spending in other areas and I hope they can do that too.

So, the Patriotic Millionaires are going to all of this trouble begging Congress to take more of their money, but they aren’t going to put any effort into following how Congress uses it? They “hope” Congress will be responsible? They also “hope” that Congress will cut spending in nondefense areas?

No wonder the Congressional Progressive Caucus is so enthusiastic about this group!

If Patriotic Millionaires genuinely think that the lawmakers they spoke to at the hearing will be responsible, they should take a look at the Progressive Caucus’ “People’s Budget.” It claims to fully eliminate the deficit over 10 years while also spending an additional $1.45 trillion on “job creation, education, clean energy and broadband infrastructure, housing and R&D.”

It achieves this miracle with higher taxes, much higher than the pre-Bush era. The CPC plan would create “five additional income tax brackets, starting at 45 percent for married couples making over $1 million dollars a year and increasing to 49 percent for people making $1 billion and over.” (Capital gains and dividends would be taxed at these higher rates.) Unfortunately, IBD didn’t get a chance to ask the Patriotic Millionaires if they’d support rates that high.

But we wouldn’t be surprised if they did. After all, if going from 35% to 39.6% is patriotic, then going up to 49% is even more patriotic and this group is nothing if not patriotic.

It also appears to be quite trusting. They seem to genuinely believe that CPC members will use all that new tax money for the sole purpose of reducing the deficit. And the CPC, naturally, is all too happy to play them for fools.

UPDATE: A Daily Caller reporter was also on Capitol Hill Wednesday asking the Patriotic Millionaires if they’d make a contribution to the IRS. You can probably guess what the response was, but watch the video anyway. desJardins shows up at 0:51 and 1:44




Yes, government does get in the way: "Oh, the I-9. In my family, this form is known as the infamous I-9. It’s infamous because it’s a symbol of the government regulation that slowly sucked away my husband’s desire to continue growing his computer company. It just wasn’t worth the continued frustration."

Cannabis’s impact on health justifies its legalization, not its criminal prohibition: "Despite the U.S. government’s nearly century-long prohibition of the plant, cannabis is nonetheless one of the most investigated therapeutically active substances in history. To date, there are over 20,000 published studies or reviews in the scientific literature pertaining to the cannabis plant and its cannabinoids. Remarkably, nearly one-third of these were published within the last three years."

America’s gerontocracy: "One fact that has become increasingly evident in the Great Recession’s wake is the disproportionate influence exerted upon economic policy by those aged 65 years or older. This group is far more economically secure than most other Americans -- according to a recent Pew Research Center study, the gap between the average net worth of those 65 and over and those under the age of 35 is increasing"


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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)


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