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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Casual Friday Edition

Welcome to today's Casual Friday Edition of Sam's Taste of Chaos.  We had a lot happening this past week as the battle on American Idol began to heat up.  So let's jump right in to the Chaos.

>>     Newsweek polled 1000 average American citizens and gave them the U.S. Citizenship test.  The good new - 62% passed.  The bad news - 38% failed.  The worse news - realizing that nearly 40% of Americans aren't qualified to be Americans.  I'm not sure whether to laugh, cry or crawl under my bed and hide.

Newsweek's website has 20 questions from the 100 possible that are used for the U.S. Citizenship test.  (10 are chosen at random & test-takers must correctly answer 6 to pass).  Take the test and put your score in the comments section (if you dare).  [I did get 20/20, but #17 was a guess.]

Here are a few examples:

When was the Declaration of Independence adopted?

July 4, 1776.
Correct: 67%

What happened at the Constitutional Convention?

The Constitution was written, or the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution.
Correct: 35%

We elect a U.S. senator for how many years?

Correct: 39%

How about now?  Are you laughing, crying or ready to hide under the bed?

>>     For the second time in the past 18 months the White House has been caught making a $2 trillion error in its 10 year budget.  But when your budget is out of control, these type of errors will happen.  A couple different issues are at play in this most recent issue.

The CBO corrects them for $300 billion from obvious mistatements from the Obamacare legislation, another $328 in funding that has never been passed by Congress and the rest in unrealistic projections on future revenues.  As the CBO report states, "...10 years from now, CBO sees a $1.2 trillion deficit that’s almost $400 billion above White House projections."

As Ed Morrissey at Hotair.com put it,
The findings in this puncture two myths perpetrated by Barack Obama.  First, ObamaCare is not “deficit neutral” in the first ten years, let alone constitutes a savings over the decade.  That was true even before the “doctor fix,” but the suspension of reductions in payments that came later sends ObamaCare well into red ink.  Next, the White House is inflating future revenue projections in order to protect its plans for expanded federal spending.  The difference in this case comes to $400 billion in year 10 of the projections, a difference that almost equals the worst total budget deficit under George W. Bush.
I thought the original budget was bad enough - not one year had a budget deficit under $600 billion.  I'm not the only one who thinks his math is fuzzy.

>>     I'm sure some of you are still upset with my stance in support of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.  Christian Schneider has a terrific article on why Gov. Walker tackled the public union issue as he did.  Concessions on pay alone won't fix the problem.
For instance, statewide average teacher salaries increased 6% per year in the 16 years before the Hortonville strike. In the 16 years after the strike, the increase is pegged at 7% annually. Not a big difference, for sure.
But salaries are only a part of the picture. Consider that in the 16 years prior to Hortonville [teacher strike], average state per-pupil spending increased 6.7% per year. Post-strike, it jumped to 9.6% per year in the 16 years following the Hortonville clash. [50% per year increase]
Today, K-12 education funding dwarfs the next-highest state spending program by a measure of 4-to-1. In 2011, Wisconsin spent $5.3 billion on public school aids, compared to $1.3 billion on Medical Assistance.
If those numbers don't make the case, then this graph will.  Notice how the spending curve change coincides with the Wisconsin teacher strikes in the early 1970's.

>>     While we are on the topic of government employees, I can only hope that you, as a taxpayer, are completely satisfied with the job performance of 99.94% of all Federal employees.  Why do I say that?  Because 0.06% of all Federal employees received a poor performance evaluation and were denied a step increase in pay according the most recent data from 2009.
Only 737 out of more than 1.2 million GS employees — or one in every 1,698 — were denied a regularly scheduled step increase and accompanying raise in 2009 because of poor performance...
That equates to a 0.06 percent denial rate, which is far lower than any estimates given of how many poor performers exist in the work force. OPM estimated in 1999 that poor performers make up approximately 3.7 percent of the federal work force. A 2000 survey by the Merit Systems Protection Board found that 14.3 percent of federal employees were judged by co-workers to be performing below reasonably expected levels.
"These step increases are tied to performance," Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said at a March 9 hearing on federal pay.
Well, I for one am glad to know that we have such high performing employees working for the Federal government.  Not sure how those $2 trillion errors keep happening with such good employees, but maybe that's caused by the elected and appointed leaders who can't seem to audit their own bookkeeping much less handle the Federal government's.

>>     A few quick hits on our efforts is Libya.  Here is the Senator Barack Obama in an interview with the Boston Globe during his run for the Presidency. 
In what circumstances, if any, would the president have constitutional authority to bomb Iran without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress? (Specifically, what about the strategic bombing of suspected nuclear sites -- a situation that does not involve stopping an IMMINENT threat?)
The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.
As Commander-in-Chief, the President does have a duty to protect and defend the United States. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent. History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch.
First, rather than berate the man, let me say that, flip-flop or not, I appreciate his position now more than before.  But his new stance does raise some questions.  John Hawkins writing at TownHall wants to know why the left's response to our intervention in Libya has been so wildly different than it was to Iraq.  Right now, we need to support our troops and the war effort, but there should be a discussion to follow afterwards about this.

Second, Marc Thiessen raises another important issue in his article at the Washington Post.  Marc writes,
The U.N. Security Council’s stated objective is “the immediate establishment of a cease-fire and a complete end to violence.” This is entirely incompatible with President Obama’s stated objective of getting Moammar Gaddafi “to step down from power and leave.” If the violence ends, Gaddafi will not leave. To the contrary, if military intervention succeeds in achieving the United Nations’ goal of forcing a cease-fire on the warring parties, it will lock in the status quo on the ground.
What does this mean?  If the United States of America wishes to remove Gaddafi by force with anything other than air power, we can't.  And if Gaddafi stops fighting, we're done.  In signing on to the resolution, we have signed away our choice in the matter - unless you believe President Obama will defy a UN resolution.  Perhaps even worse, it ties our hands in aiding the rebels.
Once a cease-fire is in place, the terms set by the Security Council will have been met, and military action by either side would violate international law. This means that if the rebels attempt to remove Gaddafi by force, they could be the ones violating the mandate of the United Nations. The U.N. resolution could end up protecting Gaddafi and guaranteeing the survival of his regime.
The resolution also reaffirms the U.N. arms embargo, which most of the world interprets as barring the transfer of arms to both government and rebel forces.
Whether it's a rookie mistake or part of the plan remains to be seen.

>  Hugo Cavez is as big a nut as they make.  Here he is explaining what may have happened to life on Mars. [h/t HOTAIR]
"I have always said, heard, that it would not be strange that there had been civilization on Mars, but maybe capitalism arrived there, imperialism arrived and finished off the planet," Chavez said in speech to mark World Water Day.
"Careful! Here on planet Earth where hundreds of years ago or less there were great forests, now there are deserts. Where there were rivers, there are deserts," Chavez said, sipping from a glass of water.
For the record, here is the truth on our forest lands in America,
About 30 percent of the 2.3 billion acres of land area (745 million acres) in the U.S. is forest today as compared to about one-half in 1630 (1.0 billion acres). Some 300 million acres of forest land have been converted to other uses since 1630, predominantly because of agricultural uses in the East.
The forest resources of the U.S. have continued improving in general condition and quality, as measured by increased average size and volume of trees. This trend has been evident since the 1960s and before. The total forestland acreage has remained stable since 1900.
Two significant changes have helped stabilize our forestland.  One, Teddy Roosevelt began the modern Conservation movement and two, we moved away from using wood as an energy source.  What replaced it?  Coal and oil.  Who has a lot of oil?  Venezuela.  You'd think the President of Venezuela might know about this oil stuff...

>>  War by committee.  Apparently France believes the Libyan war should be fought under the direction of a steering committee.
France objected to NATO being in command of the war operations on a day-to-day basis and has now proposed a new "political steering committee," made up of foreign ministers from the United States, European, and Arab states, to oversee the war.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé announced on Tuesday that the British are in agreement with the proposal but the French government has not said anything about the position of the Obama administration.
If you've ever worked with a steering committee, God help you in getting anything accomplished quickly.  I can only hope that we are not on board with this idea.

>>  President Obama ran off to Brazil to create jobs back here at home.  Which makes this a little hard to swallow.  From Reuters, [h/t Gateway Pundit]
The United States seeks to be “a strategic energy partner” to Brazil, which recently discovered major new offshore oil reserves. Obama said the United States wants to be one of Brazil’s “best customers” when the oil starts flowing.
In addition, we will loan Brazil money to get the drilling started.  On a side note, thousands of American oil workers are still out of work waiting for the Obama administration to allow the Gulf rigs to operate. 

As Big Government put it, "To be fair, President Obama is in favor of drilling…but just not in the United States."  Sad, but true.

>>  Anthony Wiener, New York Representative, can often be seen on Fox, CNN, MSNBC yapping away like, well a little dog.  Here he is taking two sides on Obamacare in two different stories.  Here, he says,
"If lightning strikes, and it turns out that as many of us believe, the Supreme Court turns out to be a third political branch of government and they strike down the mandate -- big deal,"
"The solution, if the mandate is struck down, is not that the bill falls like the house of cards ... the solution is going to be offering something everyone agrees is constitutional and that's the public option in the exchange."
As he contemplates running for mayor of New York City, he has a different take,
"If you have better ideas that can accomplish the same thing, go for it,’” said Weiner. “I’m in the process now of trying to see if we can take [President Barack Obama] up on it in the city of New York, … and I’m taking a look at all of the money we spend in Medicaid and Medicare and maybe New York City can come up with a better plan."
Funny how these legislators do one thing in Congress, but it's suddenly all different out in the real world.  Let's not forget that the entire state of Maine has received a waiver from core provisions of Obamacare, so it should be a cinch to waiver NYC.

Mitt Romney has suggested giving a waiver to all 50 states.  Wouldn't it be easier to just repeal the stupid thing?

>>  NBC's Andrea Mitchell took up the task of defining the Obama Doctrine since the White House won't.  Here is Allahpundits view at Hotair.
it’s simple as can be. If (1) there’s a preventable humanitarian crisis looming and (2) the benefits of intervention outweigh the costs and (3) there’s international support for intervening, then “go for it.” Question: What if (1) and (2) are satisfied but not (3)? Just … let ‘em die, then?
This seems to leave a fairly large hole in the logic.  My local police department, sheriff's department and the Missouri State Highway Patrol may find working together on a big bust to be beneficial, but they don't need each other's approval to stop a crime in progress.  Neither should the United States of America.

Use the United Nations for whatever good we can, but we should never allow them to hold the leash on our military.

Well, that's my time.  You've been great.  I'll leave you with this last image of the new Wonder Woman for TV.  Please add your thoughts on the redesigned heroine's costume.
God Bless.

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