Monday, November 14, 2011

Quick Hits - November 14, 2011

In a breaking news story this morning, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has announced that it will take on the Obama Healthcare Reform (Obamacare) case that Florida and 25 other states filed contesting the constitutionality of one of the President's signature pieces of legislation.  The SCOTUS will likely take arguments in the spring of 2012 and deliver their decision around June 2012 - in the heat of the Presidential election.  This was not the only case pending in the courts over Obamacare - and the decisions made by lower courts have been mixed at best.  Some, like the court which heard the Florida case, ruled that the Individual Mandate was unconstitutional and therefore the entire law was unconstitutional since the Mandate was an integral part of the law.  But others, like last weeks DC District Court, ruled that Healthcare is a unique product and market, and ruled the Individual Mandate was covered under the powers for Congress via the Commerce clause.  Some consider this a very broad interpretation while others are highlighting that the author of the opinion upholding Obamacare's Mandate was appointed by a Republican.

A teacher, who is a Muslim, working in a school in a Chicago area district, who was on the job for only 9 months, requested from her district a 3 week leave of absence during the middle of the school year in order to attend the Hajj - the pilgrimage to Mecca that Muslims are required to do at least once in their lives.  The School District denied her request.  In response, the Department of Justice filed suit against the School District on behalf of the teacher citing the decision was a violation of the teacher's Civil Rights. 

The DoJ has announced that the lawsuit has been settled with the School District paying the teacher $75,000 in back pay, compensatory damages, and attorney fees.  The School District is also now forced to develop policies 'accomodating religions consistent with the Civil Rights Act'.  Does this mean Christian or Jewish teachers can now demand leaves of absences during the school year to make a pilgrimage to the Jerusalem / Holy Land?  Or is this case just specific to Muslims?  I suspect the latter.

NBC News has released the results of a national poll they've just done on the GOP Presidential Primary Race.  The main headline from the poll is that Governor Rick Perry's numbers have collapsed in the wake of the Michigan debate gaffe.  The other big news from the poll is that the accusations against Herman Cain have also had a negative impact on his standing.  OK...both seem likely, but how do we really know this is the case?  We can use the reputation of NBC News as one of the with that, let's look a little deeper at this poll. 

To do so we need to look at the information NBC News provides about the sample.  (If a poll doesn't include sample information, that always raises a red flag for me)  If we look at this sample, we find evidence that this cannot be considered a serious poll.  This national poll is based on the responses of 248 people - a ridiculously small sample.  Then of these, only 102 are classified as Republican's...but even this doesn't tell the full story as only 60 of those 102 really define themselves as members of the GOP and providing an opinion on the GOP primary candidates.  This is the definition of a worthless poll.

If one is going to bash elements of the mainstream media for bias or epic failures, one also needs to acknowledge when a member of the MSM gets something right.  Sunday night's CBS program 60 Minutes did a major story highlighting an element of corruption in Congress that is being practised by members of both parties - Insider Trading.  (Remember Martha Stewart?)  This is a hard hitting report and one that should be raising a lot of questions over a number of our representatives.  Among the reports, a GOP Congressman who made tens of thousands of dollars trading based on inside information he gained via his working on TARP, and the former Speaker of the House, now House Minority Leader, who blocked credit card reforms while investing / earning millions in an exclusive stock offering by a credit card company.  Expect repercussions from this report.

President Obama raised a few eyebrows in his latest effort to deflect the blame of the poor economy from himself and his policies.  '...we've been a little bit lazy, I think, over the last couple of decades.  We've kind of take for granted (that), well, people will want to come here, and we aren't out there hungry, selling America and trying to attract new business into America'.  He still seems to be in denial that his policies are doing nothing to stimulate the economy or attract new business into America.

Four decades ago California was one of the biggest American success stories.  The state ranked at or very near the top in country for education, jobs, and business creation.    It's highway system was one of the most effective and well maintained in the country.  California also was renowned for it's manufacturing, it's agriculture, and it's natural resources.  It truly was the Golden State.

Not any longer.  California is an economic disaster, the Greece of the United States.  Only Nevada has a higher unemployment rate.  California's infrastructure is one of the least maintained and rapidly falling apart.  The state, overall, is one of the worst when it comes to education - at all levels.  This decline didn't just start with the 2008 economic crisis / bursting of the housing bubble which did hit California particularly hard.  California's economic disaster predates this crisis and can be traced back to effects of decades of progressive majorities in the State Legislature and progressive policies enacted by Sacramento.  What resulted from these policies which included those based on 'social justice' were anti-business regulations, inflated business taxes and fees, a lawsuit friendly legal environment, and a mindset that laws, regulations, and taxes should be used to define 'proper' behavior.

Even the LA Times notes the failures in California resulting from Sacramento's mismanagement.  In this piece, they define California as being toxic for business while noting that since 2000, California has lost 262,000 more jobs from business closures that were created by new business startups in the state.

The Washington Post also opines on the California High Speed Rail initiative, rightfully calling it a boondoggle and calls on someone to stop President Obama and Governor Jerry Brown from spending over a hundred billion dollars on a project that has no viable business model.

Finally, on a historical note, let's look back at November 14, the Ia Drang valley of central Vietnam....the 7th US Cavalry walking in Custer's footprints....'We Were Soldiers Once...'

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