Comments on issues currently in the news....
--At stake in November were 472 congressional seats (37 Senate seats and all 435 House seats). A record 42 doctors were candidates -- making doctors candidates in about one-twelfth of the 472 congressional races. This is the decisive datum: Of those 42 physician/candidates, 33 favored the repeal of ObamaCare.
--Maybe they understand, among other things -- as Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Elmendorf does -- that ObamaCare will cost the nation jobs. In February testimony before the House Budget Committee, Elmendorf put the number of jobs lost by 2021 as a consequence of ObamaCare at 800,000 -- or 50 percent more than the combined workforce of Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors.
--Hmmm. The largest outside contributor in those November congressional races was not the dread Chamber of Commerce (to hear President Obama tell it), but a union -- the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). It gave $87.5 million to candidates -- followed in fourth place (after the Chamber and Karl Rove's American Crossroads) by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU, at $44 million) and in fifth place by the National Education Association (NEA, at $40 million).
--Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito had it right in his dissent in the court's recent 8-1 majority ruling that the First Amendment protects even hurtful speech -- specifically lunatic signs at a Marine funeral declaring, "Thank God for Dead Soldiers." Alito said the deceased Marine's father, Albert Snyder, "wanted what is surely the right of any parent who experiences such an incalculable loss: to bury his son in peace. But (protesters) deprived him of that elementary right." So now the court sanctions even the vilest versions of fever-swamp license as the free-speech right of all.
--Chevrolet has unveiled its new Volt -- a car from General (that is, Government) Motors (GM) ballyhooed early-on to be all-electric and to produce in city driving 230 miles per gallon (mpg). Turns out the Volt is not all-electric but a hybrid with a companion engine (requiring premium gasoline). Nor does the Volt produce in city driving 230 mpg but something closer, according to Popular Mechanics, to 38; commuting in an 80 mph traffic flow, Car and Driver found the Volt to produce 26 mpg. And this from a $41,000 car carrying a $7,500 federal (taxpayer-provided) subsidy to encourage prospective buyers to kick the tires.
--Britain has announced an 8 percent cut in its military budget -- the largest such reduction since the end of the Cold War. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is expected to recommend deep cuts in the U.S. military budget, as well. But there's a difference between the Cameron government in Britain and the Obama government here: Prime Minister David Cameron is proposing major spending cuts across the board to save the British economy, and Obama wants not less spending in non-defense "entitlement" areas -- but more. And more taxes.
--Some European governments (Britain, France, Spain, Greece) are trying austerity, even in the face of protest marches and riots. The Obama administration has committees supposedly searching but they can't seem to locate the word austerity in the dictionary.
--Remember the Bush II administration's failure to plan an "end-game" in Iraq -- i.e., what to do there when the war was won? Seems the Obamians have the same flaw. A former administration official has told The Wall Street Journal that Obama and what's left of his economic team "haven't calibrated what they're going to do (about the economy)." What's more, according to the Washington Post, the administration went into negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians "without a plan for dealing with the end of the (partial 10-month) moratorium" on new construction in the West Bank. No end-game on the economy. No end-game on the Middle East. As unconscionable as no end-game in Iraq.
--The federal Postal Regulatory Commission has rejected the U.S. Postal Service's request for a 2-cent increase in 44-cent first-class stamps. But the USPS, the loser of a paltry $7 billion in the last reporting period, is asking again for higher-priced first-class postage -- presumably so it can provide more second-class service.
--It's not enough for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to have Al Gore up there on a pedestal by himself -- as the self-proclaimed yet ersatz inventor of the Internet. It seems ersatz Reid has saved the world from economic collapse. "But for me," he said on MSNBC, "we'd be in a worldwide depression." One man -- this man -- did it, no baloney. 'S' funny: In Vegas alone, the principal city in the state where Reid won re-election, unemployment is 15 percent.
--Oh, and in case you've been wondering how long is the reach of the gospel according to Ronald Reagan, it's all the way to Mongolia. Sandwiched between anti-democratic behemoths Russia and China, Mongolia (2.7 million people, and likely Asia's most open democratic state) has a president -- Tsakhia Elbegdorj -- who is an unabashed Reaganite. A Soviet Red Army draftee in the early 1980s when he heard Reagan's "evil empire" speech, Elbegdorj cites Reagan as his model for promoting liberty, democracy, and free markets.
"I got those kinds of big ideas from President Reagan," says the Mongolian president. "He actually impacted millions of people who lived behind the Iron Curtain."
Ross Mackenzie lives with his wife and Labrador retriever in the woods west of Richmond, Virginia. They have two grown sons, both Naval officers.
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