Thursday, June 30, 2011

Was John Edwards Indicted for Violating the Seventh Commandment?

Was John Edwards Indicted for 
Violating the Seventh Commandment?
News Link  •  Criminal Justice System

06-29-2011  •  Reason magazine 
Edwards violated the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, the government alleges, by encouraging two wealthy supporters to fork over more than $900,000 that was used to cover up his affair with a campaign aide who bore him a child.

The charge is, in essence, that Edwards violated the Seventh Commandment...It is dressed up, however, in the language of one of those many federal criminal statutes that are vague enough to cover a vast swath of human conduct
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Why the Left Fears Libertarianism

Why the Left Fears Libertarianism
News Link  •  Philosophy: Libertarianism

06-30-2011  • 
Leftist criticisms of libertarianism have surged lately, a phenomenon warranting explanation. We libertarians could justifiably find it all quite confusing. For decades we have thought our battle a largely losing one, at least in the short term. We are a tiny, relatively powerless minority. The state has raged on, expanding in virtually every direction, for my entire lifetime and that of my parents’. Yet nearly every week our beloved philosophy of non-aggression is subject to some progressive’s relatively widely read hatchet job. On the surface, it appears at least as misdirected as the rightwing hysteria about Marxists during the Cold War. But at least Marxism was the supposed tenet of the Soviet Union, a regime with thousands of nukes ready to launch. Why all this concern about little ol’ us?

We could go through all these critiques line by line and expose the many factual errors and gross misinterpretations, whether disingenuous or unintentional. But it might be more worthwhile to ask, Why all this focus on the supposed demonic threat of libertarianism in the first place? 

It was not too long ago that the Slate’s Jacob Weisberg declared the end of libertarianism. Time of death? The financial collapse, which proved our "ideology makes no sense." Not three years later, the same web publication is exposing "the liberty scam": "With libertarianism everywhere, it's hard to remember that as recently as the 1970s, it was nowhere to be found."
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A Dolphin-Like Speedboat That Can Reach 50 MPH and Launch 18 Feet Into the Air

A Dolphin-Like Speedboat That Can 
Reach 50 MPH and Launch 18 Feet Into the Air
News Link  •  Transportation

06-29-2011  •  Katherine Bagley via 

Outfitted with a 1500cc engine, a watertight cockpit and six dolphin-like fins, the Innespace Seabreacher redefines personal watercraft. The 17-foot vessel can reach 50 mph on flat water, cruise beneath the surface, and launch 18 feet into the air. It’s also got an iPod-compatible sound system and a digital periscope. Summer may never be the same.
Check out this video of the Seabreacher X in action:

Tail Fin
The Seabreacher’s top rear fin acts like a car spoiler. When the craft is underwater, aiming its water jet toward the tail fin produces drag that pushes the craft’s rear downward and the nose upward, launching the vessel out of the water.

Water Jet A single jet controls propulsion and steering. Drivers aim it with two foot pedals in the cockpit. Pointing the stream left or right initiates a turn; directing it down pops the tail up and aims the craft’s nose down for a dive.
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The New Danger to U.S. Independence

By Bill Wilson

As America celebrates its 235th birthday this July, citizens are increasingly becoming aware of a new danger to the nation’s independence and sovereignty. It was identified as the number one threat to our national security by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen.

It is the skyrocketing $14.3 trillion national debt.
It is why in poll after poll a majority of Americans oppose raising the debt ceiling without significant spending cuts attached. They understand intuitively that once a nation’s debt gets so large that it couldn’t possibly be paid back if it had to be, that nation is effectively bankrupt.

That is the tipping point where default and restructuring of the debt becomes the only viable option, the only path to salvation. Sadly, the U.S. is rapidly approaching this position.

Could the debt ever be paid?

Currently, the U.S. is paying about 3 percent interest on the $14.3 trillion debt, or $430 billion of gross interest payments every year. If we had to repay everything over the next 30 years, principal and interest owed would amount to $908 billion out of revenue every year. That’s 41.7 percent of this year’s $2.174 trillion projected tax collections.

Is that affordable? Would repayment even be possible today? Perhaps just barely. The benchmark total debt service ratio for mortgage lenders is 40 percent. Anything above that, and a prospective borrower would not qualify for a loan. So even today, Uncle Sam would not qualify for a home mortgage.

What is clear is that by this analysis, over time repayment becomes increasingly improbable, if not impossible. By the government’s own numbers, the debt service ratio will continue to rise this decade. Even under the rosiest scenario, America will be broke within the next 10 years.

By 2021, when the debt rises to $26.346 trillion according to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), that office projects interest rates will have returned to their historical norm of 5 percent. Then annual gross interest payments will be $1.317 trillion. If we attempted to begin repayment then, principal and interest owed would amount to $2.195 trillion, or 45.5 percent of the projected $4.820 trillion in tax receipts projected for that year.

Get full story here.

Extinguishing the Climate Change Fires

By Victor Morawski

On June 14th U.S. Forest Service Chief Thomas Tidwell testified before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, an entirely legitimate, routine appearance where the Forest Service discusses its fire fighting mission and its future budgetary needs for accomplishing it.

What struck me as illegitimate, however, was the attempt by Committee Chairman Bingaman to spout the party line in his opening remarks and try to tie in the occurrence of wildfires with climate change and global warming.

There he made specific reference to a recently published document by the National Academy of Sciences entitled, “America’s Climate Choices” as evidence that global warming is affecting wildfire frequency and severity.

As it was specifically mentioned in the hearing, the report is worth taking a look at because it is a blueprint for Big Government intervention to head off the supposed dire consequences of Global Warming: “The significant risks that climate change poses to human society and the environment provide a strong motivation to move ahead with substantial response efforts. Current efforts of local, state, and private sector actors are important, but not likely to yield progress comparable to what could be achieved with the addition of strong federal policies…”

And yes, the report does have some things to say about forest fires. As an impact of global climate change it claims that, “The frequency of large wildfires and the length of the fire season have increased substantially in both the western United States and Alaska.”
Get full story here.

Will the new Palin movie sway voters?

By Rick Manning
As originally published at The Daily Caller.
Last week I previewed the new documentary that chronicles how Sarah Palin became the person that the left and political insiders from both parties most hate and fear.

The documentary, defiantly titled “The Undefeated,” is striking in a number of respects.

It reminds viewers of the almost overwhelming level of vitriol, derision and hate directed at someone who is dismissed as lacking in intellect and ability. There can be no doubt that if anyone on the right engaged in a similar array of death threats, attacks on a politician’s children and coordinated, acid-tongued message-points against a liberal public figure, the U.S. attorney general’s hate crimes unit would be dispatched and MSNBC, CNN and The Huffington Post would be inflamed with indignation.
But the hate directed at Governor Palin is only a backdrop that reveals her inner toughness, determination and courage against seemingly insurmountable odds.

In Alaska, Palin unseated an entrenched mayor in Wasilla, and then went on to uproot a culture of corruption in Juneau that engulfed the Republican governor and other state officials.

Sarah Palin, the woman who made “drill, baby, drill” a catch-phrase, fought the oil companies to force them to drill the oil and natural gas on the public lands that they leased from the state. Palin also put in place the framework for a natural gas pipeline that will deliver this clean, abundant fuel to the lower 48 states for generations. Quite a record of success for someone who is satirized as being nothing more than a bubble-headed bimbo.
Get full story here.

A Tale of Two Governors

A Tale of Two Governors

By Richard A. Lee

It was quite a week for governors on both sides of the Hudson.

First, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo achieved one of his most important goals when the New York Legislature mustered the votes needed to approve a same-sex marriage bill, which he promptly signed into law. Less than seven days later, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie scored a major victory of his own when the New Jersey Legislature passed a landmark measure reforming the state’s public pension and benefit system, which he signed promptly into law.

Cuomo and Christie are different governors from different states and different parties, and the goals they achieved this past week addressed vastly different issues. Still, there are a few similarities in the circumstances surrounding each governor’s success.

Both bills passed after hard-fought battles; both issues had been priorities for the two governors, and previous attempts to legalize same sex marriage in New York and to significantly reform public pensions and benefits in New Jersey had failed.

As with any major initiative, several factors were responsible for the successes Cuomo and Christie achieved last week. These include their strong personalities, changing attitudes on social issues, and the current fiscal crunch which is forcing cuts in government services and programs.

But for two governors who have prided themselves on changing the status quo in their respective states, it was old fashioned politics – money and power – that played a critical role in getting the job done.

As New York Times reporter Michael Barbaro explained in his account of the strategy behind Cuomo’s success with the same sex marriage bill, the New York Governor’s work with “a group of super-rich Republican donors” helped deliver the votes needed to pass the measure. According to Barbaro, the GOP donors “had the influence and the money to insulate nervous senators from conservative backlash if they supported the marriage measure” and ultimately provided $1 million to a lobbying campaign in support of the bill.

In New Jersey, an alliance between the Governor and powerbrokers from the opposing political party also proved critical in getting pension and benefit reform through the Legislature.

Republican lawmakers voted overwhelmingly in favor of the bill, but since Democrats hold majorities in both the state Senate and Assembly, the measure would not have passed without support from a handful of Democrats. By and large, the Democrats who supported the bill are closely aligned with Steve Adubato Sr., a powerful North Jersey Democratic leader, and George Norcross, who wields substantial power and influence in South Jersey Democratic circles. As The Record’s Charles Stile wrote in a column about the pension bill, Christie has “carefully cultivated” Adubato and Norcross, turning them into “de facto get-out-the-vote ward leaders for the Republican governor's agenda.

Additional evidence of the unusual dynamics between the Republican governor and Democratic powerbrokers was on display later in the week when the state Senate failed to provide ample votes to block Christie’s proposal to transfer operation on New Jersey Network (NJN) to WNET. Republicans sided with the Governor and voted against blocking the plan, but again a few Democratic votes were needed, and again they came from a familiar group of lawmakers. “On the public employee benefits and public television votes this past week, just about all of the Democratic defections can be linked to the Norcross and Adubato camps,” Salon news editor Steve Kornacki wrote after the NJN vote took place.

The whirlwind pace of politics, which last week produced historic action in New York and New Jersey, is about to slow down for the summer. It will be an opportune time for Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie to revel in the success of some major achievements in their relatively brief gubernatorial careers. But one of the ironic side effects of their successes has been to make the political bosses in their states even more powerful.

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Richard A. Lee is Communications Director of the Hall Institute. A former State House reporter and Deputy Communications Director for the Governor, he also teaches courses in media, politics and government at Rutgers University, where he is completing work on a Ph.D. in media studies. Read more of Rich’s columns at richleeonline and follow him on Twitter.