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The Left's Assault on Democracy in Wisconsin

Leftist radicals don't believe in democracy in the way the term is used in America. If they win, it's democracy in action, a noble rendering of the wise judgment of the people. If they lose, democracy has been undermined and usually some cabal of corporate villains in a smoke-filled backroom somewhere is to blame for the injustice.
The union goons and paid protesters wreaking havoc in Madison, Wisconsin believe in the radical left-wing un-American conception of democracy.
They're being cheered on by the Rev. Jesse Jackson who dropped by to outrageously compare the ongoing disruptions to the 1965 civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. "This is a Martin Luther King moment, this is a Gandhi moment," he said without chuckling.
They're also being praised and encouraged by the nation's foremost leftist guru, professor Noam Chomsky. Chomsky told Democracy Now! recently that he hopes the protests begin to resemble the violent demonstrations in Egypt. "It was heartening to see that there are tens of thousands of people protesting in Madison day after day in fact. I mean that's the beginning maybe of what we really need here, a democracy uprising. Democracy's almost been eviscerated."
It should surprise no one that the Democrat-labor-academia-media complex agrees with Chomsky. That brotherhood has already written the narrative in deficit-riddled Wisconsin, anointing selfless, public-spirited, criminally underpaid educators as the heroes in a David-and-Goliath struggle against a mean, tightfisted Republican governor who is the tool of special interests.
Would that it were true.
In reality, the state's teachers are well compensated. Teachers there earn an average of $89,000 annually in salary and benefits. The average U.S. private sector employee earns just $61,000.
And Wisconsin is facing an estimated $3.6 billion shortfall by 2013. Unlike the federal government, the state can't print money, so choices have to be made.
Well, actually, the choices were made - back in November - but in recent days the left has been waging all-out war against the will of Wisconsin voters as democratically expressed at the ballot box.
In a repudiation of the previous administration's spendthrift ways, Gov. Scott Walker was elected on an extensively publicized, popular austerity platform. To help Walker rescue the state from a sea of red ink, voters made sure Republicans received clear majorities in both chambers of the deep blue state's legislature.
Gov. Walker has been trying to enforce his electoral mandate and has asked state lawmakers to vote on his proposals, which include curbing the power of public sector unions and making their members contribute a little more to their health plans.
Left-wing lawmakers have gone into hiding and union goons have been doing all they can to shut down the state capitol and prevent the legislature from conducting business. These are tactics one might expect to see from the Italian squadristi or German Sturmabteilung, both of which used physical coercion and intimidation to halt the democratic process.
To the disappointment of anarchists everywhere, Walker has responded not with water cannons or truncheons, but by calmly making his case to the public and trying to negotiate with the unions.
So, of course he's a dirty Fascist in the eyes of leftists who have to demonize the governor in order to keep the donations pouring in. Pro-labor demonstrators in Madison have embraced the "Fascism" meme like mother's milk.
Political science professor Bob Fitrakis says what the left is doing in Wisconsin is "ultimately about preventing the United States from becoming a full-on fascist state" and "about saving the last shreds of American democracy." He then plays the Hitler card lamenting that "[t]he first Germans Hitler put in concentration camps were neither Jews nor gypsies - they were trade unionists."
It's trite, tedious, high school debating tournament level stuff.
Ironically, Fitrakis is using a version of the Big Lie, a rhetorical technique embraced by history's most infamous Fascist. (As a political scientist presumably he knows this.)
The professor's lie is so bold and outrageous that he's gambling Americans won't dare to question it, as if there were a straight line between labor law reform in Wisconsin and the ovens of Auschwitz.
So far it looks like Americans aren't falling for it, and in an ominous sign, a bellwether of progressive thinking also isn't falling for it.
In a rare moment of candor Time magazine's Joe Klein, usually a reliable member of the leftist echo chamber, points an accusing finger at his own side:
Revolutions are everywhere - in the Middle East, in the middle west. But there is a difference: in the Middle East, the protesters are marching for democracy; in the Midwest, they're protesting against it. I mean, isn't it, well, a bit ironic that the protesters in Madison, blocking the state senate chamber, are chanting "Freedom, Democracy, Union" while trying to prevent a vote? Isn't it ironic that the Democratic Senators have fled the democratic process? Isn't it interesting that some of those who - rightly - protest the assorted Republican efforts to stymie majority rule in the U.S. Senate are celebrating the Democratic efforts to stymie the same in the Wisconsin Senate?
Will Big Labor's rent-a-mobs in Madison now start burning Klein in effigy? It may depend on how much George Soros offers them.
Matthew Vadum is a journalist in Washington, D.C. His book on ACORN and its infiltration of the Obama administration will be published in mid-2011.

Obama's Louis XV budget

Five days before his inauguration, President-elect Obama told The Post that entitlement reform could no longer be kicked down the road. He then spent the next two years kicking - racking up $3 trillion in new debt along the way - on the grounds that massive temporary deficit spending was necessary to prevent another Great Depression.

To prove his bona fides, he later appointed a deficit reduction commission. It made its report last December, when the economy was well past recession, solemnly declaring that "the era of debt denial is over."

That lasted all of two months. The president's first post-commission budget, submitted Monday, marks a return to obliviousness. Even Erskine Bowles, Obama's Democratic debt commission co-chair, says it goes "nowhere near where they will have to go to resolve our fiscal nightmare."

The budget touts a deficit reduction of $1.1 trillion over the next decade.

Where to begin? Even if you buy this number, Obama's budget adds $7.2 trillion in new debt over that same decade.

But there's a catch. The administration assumes economic growth levels higher than private economists and the Congressional Budget Office predict. Without this rosy scenario - using CBO growth estimates - $1.7 trillion of revenue disappears and U.S. debt increases $9 trillion over the next decade. This is almost $1 trillion every year.

Assume you buy the rosy scenario. Of what does this $1.1 trillion in deficit reduction consist? Painful cuts? Think again. It consists of $1.6 trillion in tax hikes, plus an odd $328 billion of some mysterious bipartisan funding for a transportation trust fund (gas taxes, one supposes) - for a grand total of nearly $2 trillion in new taxes.

Classic Obama debt reduction: Add $2 trillion in new taxes, then add $1 trillion in new spending and, presto, you've got $1 trillion of debt reduction. It's the same kind of mad deficit accounting in Obamacare: It reduces debt by adding $540 billion in new spending, then adding $770 billion in new taxes. Presto: $230 billion of "debt reduction." Bialystock & Bloom accounting.

And what of those "painful cuts" Obama is making to programs he really cares about? The catch is that these "cuts" are from a hugely inflated new baseline created by the orgy of spending in Obama's first two years. These were supposedly catastrophe-averting, anti-Depression emergency measures. But post-recession they remain in place. As a result, discretionary non-defense budget levels today are 24 percent higher than before Obama - 84 percent higher if you add in the stimulus money.

Which is why the supposedly painful cuts yield spending still at stratospheric levels. After all the cuts, Education Department funding for 2012 remains 35 percent higher than in the last pre-emergency pre-Obama year, 2008. Environmental Protection Agency: 18 percent higher. Energy Department: 22 percent higher. Consider even the biggest "painful cut" headline of all, the 50 percent cut in fuel subsidies for the poor. Barbaric, is it not? Except for the fact that the subsidies had been doubled from 2008 levels. The draconian cut is nothing but a return to normal pre-recession levels.

Yet all this is penny-ante stuff. The real money is in entitlements. And the real scandal of this budget is that Obama doesn't touch them. Not Social Security. Not Medicaid. Not Medicare.

What about tax reform, the other major recommendation of the deficit commission? Nothing.

How about just a subset of that - corporate tax reform, on which Republicans have signaled they are eager to collaborate? The formula is simple: Eliminate the loopholes to broaden the tax base, then lower the rates for everyone, promoting both fairness and economic efficiency. What does the Obama budget do? Removes tax breaks - and then keeps the rate at 35 percent, among the highest in the industrialized world (more than twice Canada's, for example).

Yet for all its gimmicks, this budget leaves the country at decade's end saddled with publicly held debt triple what Obama inherited.

A more cynical budget is hard to imagine. This one ignores the looming debt crisis, shifts all responsibility for serious budget-cutting to the Republicans - for which Democrats are ready with a two-year, full-artillery demagogic assault - and sets Obama up perfectly for reelection in 2012.

Obama fancies his happy talk, debt-denial optimism to be Reaganesque. It's more Louis XV. Reagan begat a quarter-century of prosperity; Louis, the deluge.

Moreover, unlike Obama, Louis had the decency to admit he was forfeiting the future. He never pretended to be winning it.

The Budget

The message of the budget the Obama administration released today is the same as the message the president delivered in his State of the Union address: All is well, full speed ahead, and let’s invest a little more in solar panels and high-speed rail.

This message seems clearly to be a function of a political calculation: that voters do not want to face the coming debt crisis, and so it would be bad politics to force them to do so. I tend to think that’s not entirely true, and that voters will judge this kind of blindfolded budget to be unserious and inadequate to the moment. People know we’ve got a major fiscal problem that will get worse as more of the baby boomers retire, and while obviously no one wants to make avoidable sacrifices, Americans do seem increasingly to understand that some change of course will be required. But that’s hard to say, and maybe the Obama team is right about the politics.

Whether they’re right or not, however, the substantive result of their political premise is a willful blindness that makes for a budget that is completely detached from reality. No entitlement reform, no tax reform, no significant spending reform, indeed no meaningful change of direction of any sort — the budget does nothing to lessen the burdens with which we now stand to saddle the rising generation, and which will stifle growth and prosperity along the way.

Of course, the budget assumes this won’t stifle growth at all — in fact, with no clear justification, it assumes significantly stronger economic growth than the CBO expects and counts on an extra $1.7 trillion in revenue over ten years as a result, asserting that the deficit will be that much lower by just assuming it will happen. That is perhaps the most egregious of the numerous assumptions tucked into the baseline of this budget, and therefore not presented as policy choices but as premises taken for granted — among the others are a tax increase on upper-income filers that results in more than $800 billion of revenue, and an almost $200 billion increase in spending on Pell grants.

Until the last few weeks, there might have been room to wonder whether President Obama might respond to the 2010 elections by moving to the center and seeking some politically advantageous but meaningful middle ground — offering tax reforms, perhaps even some Social Security reforms, and orienting the next two years around the question of who can provide a more appealing, more optimistic, and less painful set of solutions to our enormous fiscal challenge and the coming debt crisis. This budget puts an end to that possibility. The president appears to have decided to spend the next two years pretending there is no problem to solve, and therefore that Republican proposals to rein in spending are just mean-spirited cuts offered up for kicks.

This is, above all, an appalling failure of leadership. When we look back on this period a decade or two from now, I think we’ll identify this moment — the president’s decision about how to approach the budget battle of 2012 — as the last real opportunity we had for a gradual bipartisan course correction. That option now seems closed off, and it is up to Republicans to decide if the alternative is to march off the fiscal cliff in order to avoid political risks or to propose a gradual course correction to voters and make the case for why it is sensible, responsible, and essential.

Neither of these options would be easy. But one of them would be both difficult and irresponsible, while the other would be difficult and right.

Senate Democrats Drink More Kool-Aid

Last week’s Senate vote to reject the repeal of Obamacare offered stark evidence that the so-called moderate Democrats in the Senate will be forced to walk the plank and vote for Obama’s liberal positions in the 2011-2012 legislative session, guaranteeing that many don’t return. Every single Democrat stood up and voted against repeal (except for one absentee and independent Joe Lieberman of Connecticut).

Harry Reid and Obama might well have let them off the hook. They could easily have let the likes of Sens. Jim Webb, D-Va., Joe Manchin, D-W.V., Ben Nelson, D-Neb., Bill Nelson, D-Fla., Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Jon Tester, D-Mont., save their seats and vote for repeal. Then, either the remaining Senate Democrats could block a vote, or more likely, Obama would veto the repeal legislation and no override would be possible. Such a posture would have gone a long way toward saving the Senate Democratic majority.

But Obama and Reid would have none of it. Like Captain Ahab accepting no excuses for not killing the white whale, they are determined to sacrifice the cream of their Senate majority in order not to repeal a law that the courts are going to throw out as unconstitutional anyway.

And the “moderate” Democrats in question lacked the guts and integrity to stand up to their leaders and vote to repeal this massively unpopular law. So much for their supposed “moderation.”

Now the Republicans must trumpet their votes in their home states with ads that will assure their defeat in 2012. Remember, Blanche Lincoln, lately defeated for re-election in Arkansas, did not lose her seat in the fall of 2010. She fell hopelessly behind in the spring of that year, when she voted to pass Obamacare despite the pleading, importuning and outright begging of a majority of her constituents.

By the time the fall election had begun in earnest, she opened the race more than 30 points behind.

So it now must be with the Nelsons, Tester, Webb, Manchin and Casey. American Crossroads, Americans for Prosperity and Sixty Plus — the trio whose aggressive attacks led directly to the 2010 victories — must get on the air and inform voters of their senators’ refusal to repeal this law.

When President Obama told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly that the public was “about evenly divided” on his health care plan, he was applying the same inability to count that characterizes his deficit-reduction programs. Rasmussen Reports shows a 55-40 margin for repeal — hardly a break-even scenario.

And with the courts finding that the law is unconstitutional, the public dissatisfaction with this law will grow.

And the Obamacare repeal vote was only the first of many planks the moderate Democrats will have to walk en route to losing their seats in 2012. They will have to vote against Republican budget cuts, against efforts to block the EPA from imposing a carbon tax, against restrictions on the FCC’s ability to regulate the Internet and cripple talk radio. All of these votes are piling up in the House, waiting to make their way to the Senate floor.

Obama told O’Reilly he “did not want to re-fight the battles” of 2009 and 2010. But that is precisely what the House Republicans are going to make him do. And the same votes that led to the defeat or resignation under threat of defeat of Chris Dodd, Arlen Specter, Byron Dorgan, Kent Conrad, Evan Bayh and Russ Feingold will now spell doom for a new generation of senators. All thanks to Obama’s and Reid’s doctrinaire and obstinate refusal to act to protect their senators.

The slogan of the Obama Democrats might as well be the same as that for the old leftists of the British Labor Party: “No compromise with the electorate!”

Unions vs. Good teachers (Episode 3)

A Modest $500 Billion Proposal

After Republicans swept into office in 1994, Bill Clinton famously said in his State of the Union address that the era of big government was over. Nearly $10 trillion of federal debt later, the era of big government is at its zenith.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, this will be the third consecutive year in which the federal government is running a deficit near or greater than $1 trillion. The solution to the government's fiscal crisis must begin by cutting spending in all areas, particularly in those that can be better run at the state or local level. Last month I introduced legislation to do just that. And though it seems extreme to some—containing over $500 billion in spending cuts enacted over one year—it is a necessary first step toward ending our fiscal crisis.

My proposal would first roll back almost all federal spending to 2008 levels, then initiate reductions at various levels nearly across the board. Cuts to the Departments of Agriculture and Transportation would create over $42 billion in savings each, while cuts to the Departments of Energy and Housing and Urban Development would save about $50 billion each. Removing education from the federal government's jurisdiction would create almost $80 billion in savings alone. Add to that my proposed reductions in international aid, the Departments of Health and Human Services, Homeland Security and other federal agencies, and we arrive at over $500 billion.

My proposal, not surprisingly, has been greeted skeptically in Washington, where serious spending cuts are a rarity. But it is a modest proposal when measured against the size of our mounting debt. It would keep 85% of our government funding in place and not touch Social Security or Medicare. But by reducing wasteful spending and shuttering departments that are beyond the constitutional role of the federal government, such as the Department of Education, we can cut nearly 40% of our projected deficit and at the same time remove thousands of big-government bureaucrats who stand in the way of efficiency.

Examples of federal waste are more abundant than ever. For example, the Department of Energy's nuclear-weapons activities should be placed under the purview of the Department of Defense. Many of its other activities amount to nothing more than corporate handouts. It provides research grants and subsidies to energy companies for the development of new, cleaner forms of energy. This means nearly all forms of energy development here in the U.S. are subsidized by the federal government, from oil and coal to nuclear, wind, solar and biofuels. These subsidies often go to research and companies that can survive without them. This drives up the cost of energy for all Americans, both as taxpayers and consumers.

The Commerce Department is another prime example. Consistently labeled for elimination, specifically by House Republicans during the 1990s, one of Commerce's main functions is delivering corporate welfare to American firms that can compete without it. My proposal would scale back the Commerce Department's spending by 54% and eliminate corporate welfare.

My proposal would also cut wasteful spending in the Defense Department. Since 2001, our annual defense budget has increased nearly 120%. Even subtracting the costs of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, spending is up 67%. These levels of spending are unjustifiable and unsustainable. Defense Secretary Robert Gates understands this and has called for spending cuts, saying "We must come to realize that not every defense program is necessary, not every defense dollar is sacred or well-spent, and more of everything is simply not sustainable."

For those who take issue with any of the spending cuts I have proposed, I have two requests:

First, if you believe a particular program should be exempt from these cuts, I challenge you to find another place in the budget where the same amount can feasibly be cut and we can replace it.

Second, consider this: Is any particular program, whatever its merits, worth borrowing billions of dollars from foreign nations to finance programs that could be administered better at the state and local level, or even taken over by the private sector?

A real discussion about the budget must begin now—our economy cannot wait any longer. For 19 months, unemployment has hovered over 9%. After a nearly $1 trillion government stimulus and $2 trillion in Federal Reserve stimulus, the Washington establishment still believes that we can solve this problem with more federal spending and the printing of more money.

That's ridiculous, and the American people have had enough.

Many in Washington think that a one-year, $500 billion spending cut is too bold. But the attendees at the newly formed Senate Tea Party Caucus say, "Bring on the cuts! And then, bring on more!" My Republican colleagues say they want a balanced-budget amendment. But to have any semblance of credibility we must begin to discuss where we will cut once it passes. My proposal is a place to start.

Obama Will Continue to Spend America into the Ground

Uncontrolled government spending is far worse than previously projected just a few months ago, driving the federal budget much more deeply into debt, which threatens our economy and our future standard of living.

This fiscal year’s budget deficit is expected to climb to nearly $1.5 trillion, which would be the biggest one-year deficit gap in American history, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

It is the result of a still weakened economy, 9 to 10 percent unemployment that has sharply cut federal tax revenues, and a Democratic Congress that was on an irresponsible, nonstop spending binge for the last two years.

The previous CBO projection for the 2011 fiscal year was $1.3 trillion, but its latest estimates show the government’s fiscal position is worse than ever and could climb higher, according to independent analysts.

The latest report will give further weight to Republican efforts to make deep spending cuts in the remainder of this fiscal year, which ends in September, and next year’s budget as well. All revenue and spending measures must begin in the GOP-controlled House, and the Republicans will have the upper hand in driving budget policy for the next two years at least, if not beyond.

Total government debt is now more than $14 trillion and outside budget. Experts say it will continue to rise exponentially unless President Obama’s over-the-top spending policies are substantially curtailed.

How bad will our government’s fiscal position get? Brian Riedl, the Heritage Foundation’s lead budget analyst, paints the government’s grim fiscal future in a memo released last week, which has become a must-read on Capitol Hill. Among Riedl’s findings:

– Spending projections are actually worse than CBO’s numbers show, because of the “unrealistic assumptions” that Congress requires CBO to employ to make future deficits appear smaller, such as assuming all tax cuts will expire, the AMT (alternative minimum income tax) will never again be patched, and discretionary spending will remain frozen to inflation.

– “The ten-year deficit is actually $13.6 trillion, and annual deficits never fall below $1 trillion.”

– Ten years from now, the budget deficit “is expected to reach $1.9 trillion, and the debt will hit nearly $25 trillion, or 104 percent” of the economy’s entire gross domestic product (GDP) — “and even that assumes a return to peace and prosperity.”

– “Long-term deficits are driven by spending. Tax revenues (historically 18.0 percent of GDP) are set to climb to 18.4 percent by 2021 — even if all tax cuts are extended. Yet federal spending (historically 20.3 percent of GDP) is projected to soar to 26.4 percent by 2021. By that point, 100 percent of rising long-term deficits will result from above-average spending.”

– Spending under this administration is driving the ocean of red ink. “Since 2001, federal spending per household has expanded $21,510 to $31,206 (adjusted for inflation).”

– “Entitlements are the problem: between 2008 and 2021, the annual cost of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid is set to rise from $1.2 trillion to $2.2 trillion (adjusted for inflation).”

– The so-called “tax cuts for the rich” are not the overriding deficit-driver. “Letting the tax cuts expire for those earning more than $250,000 would close just 5 percent of the budget deficit over the next decade. The $736 billion price tag is a fraction of the $21 trillion cost of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid” over the coming decade.

– “Between 2009 and 2021, the national debt would increase by $150,000 per household.” By 2021, net interest alone on the total debt would cost an astounding $1 trillion, or nearly one-half of all income tax revenues.

– “Over what would be President Obama’s eight years in office, baseline budget deficits are projected to total $9.9 trillion — triple the $3.3 trillion in deficits” accumulated by President George W. Bush.

This is the grim fiscal picture that faces the Obama administration, which is nonetheless proposing big spending increases across a large swath of the federal government, from Obamacare to more stimulus spending, more green technology spending, more R&D spending, and more for job training, to name just a few.

Obama won the presidency in part by attacking the deficits and debt under the Bush administration. But in 2007, the year before the recession hit, Bush’s federal budget deficit was a tame $161 billion and total spending was a relatively low $2.7 trillion — or less than 20 percent of GDP.

This year, with a supposedly recovering economy, spending under President Obama is nearly $4 trillion, or more than 25 percent of GDP, and the deficit is expected to soar well over $1.5 trillion.

Ever since the Democrats took control of Congress they have “used the recession as cover to permanently increase spending on the regulatory bureaucracy, entitlements and industrial policies by $1.1 trillion,” says University of Maryland business school economist Peter Morici.

Obama and his party got lambasted in last year’s midterm election in part because voters correctly perceived a much bigger government and runaway spending as a direct threat to their economic well-being.

Two years into Obama’s spendthrift presidency, that fiscal threat is worse than ever before, severely undermining the future financial security of every American and our country’s national security, as well.

Obamacare on the Ropes

When U.S. District Court judge Roger Vinson struck down President Obama's health care program as unconstitutional, the White House declared the decision an "outlier." It was anything but that. The ruling on January 31 was in harmony with limits the Supreme Court has imposed on the use of the Constitution's commerce clause to justify far-reaching legislation by Congress. And it came as the assault on Obamacare has expanded to many fronts‒the courts, Congress, statehouses, the small business community, and the grass roots, where tea parties and the small-government movement are energetic.

What began in 2009 as scattered protests against Obama's plan for overhauling America's health care system and soon became the touchstone for Republican victories in the November 2 election has now evolved into a national uprising. Last week's refusal by the Senate to ratify the House's repeal of Obamacare is unlikely to quell the uprising or even slow it down.

Look at the courts. The case before Vinson was brought by Florida and 19 other states. After the election, six more states joined as plaintiffs. In a separate lawsuit brought by Virginia, a federal judge ruled the heart of Obamacare‒the mandate that every American purchase health insurance‒unconstitutional.

So that's two federal courts involving 27 states. Twelve of them were won by Obama in 2008: Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Wisconsin, Colorado, Indiana, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Florida. Though it was mostly Republican state attorney generals who embraced the legal attack (four are Democrats), their efforts have failed to ignite significant pro-Obamacare demonstrations in their states. This should worry Obama.

Turn to Congress, where the November election has changed the balance. In 2010, Obamacare got 219 votes as it narrowly passed the House and 60 votes in the Senate. In the new Congress, 242 Republicans and 3 Democrats voted to repeal it. Another 10 Democrats voted no in 2010 but declined to support repeal. That's a total of 255 anti-Obamacare members of the House.

In the Senate, 51 Democrats voted against repeal. But several appear willing to repeal parts of Obamacare. Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska, for example, wants to find an alternative to the individual mandate. How many Democrats might join Nelson is unclear.

But being identified with Obama-care is risky. In an analysis for the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, David Brady of the Hoover Institution found Obamacare contributed significantly to the defeat of at least 20 House Democrats who had voted for it.

So Congress is on the brink. If a Republican wins the White House in 2012, a gain of three Republican senators will be enough for repeal through the reconciliation process. If Obama is reelected, it will take a gain of four. And three or four Republican pickups in 2012 are quite achievable.

Unless Vinson's decision is stayed by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, officials in some states are eager to stop complying with its regulations and other obligations. Wisconsin attorney general J.B. Van Hollen told the Senate Judiciary Committee last week his state considers Obama-care to be dead. Governor Rick Scott of Florida said he won't take steps to implement the health care law.

Governors are also upset by the law's "maintenance of effort" provision barring the tightening of eligibility requirements for Medicaid. Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius last week rejected an appeal by 33 Republican governors to waive the provision, which will add billions to state budgets.

The business community is still another adversary of Obamacare. The views of CEOs for big companies are mixed, but small businesses are strongly opposed. The National Federation of Independent Business, the influential small business lobby, was part of the lawsuit before Judge Vinson and filed its own amicus brief.

But it's at the grassroots that Obama's health care program is most unpopular. Its poll numbers fell in 2009, worsened in 2010, and haven't improved in 2011. Senate majority leader Harry Reid claims that 80 percent of Americans oppose repeal, but that isn't even close to being true.

A CNN poll in January found that 50 percent favor repeal of all Obama-care's provisions. Quinnipiac put support for repeal at 48 percent, Gallup at 46 percent, both pluralities. And health care has become the issue uniting Republicans just as the party has gained, according to Gallup, a "net positive image" for the first time since 2005, 47 percent favorable to 43 percent unfavorable. A coincidence? I doubt it.

That's not all. Fifty-five percent in a Rasmussen poll in January back repeal, 54 percent would allow states to opt out of Obamacare, 60 percent said the health care law will increase the deficit, 58 percent believe it will increase the cost of health care, and 50 percent said the quality of care will decline.

Those numbers incentivize Republicans and independent conservative groups to keep the issue alive. House Republicans intend to repeal unpopular parts of Obamacare‒the tax on medical devices, for example‒and bombard the Senate with them. Several may pass.

But Republican senators aren't waiting on the House. Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama vowed last week to do "everything in my power to see that no taxpayer dollars are spent to fund this legislation going forward." He's the ranking member of the appropriations subcommittee dealing with health care. And Senators John Barrasso of Wyoming and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina proposed a bill to let states opt out of the individual mandate, the employer mandate, the Medicaid mandate, and the benefit mandates.

Besides the "outlier" claim, the White House accused Vinson of committing the sin of judicial "activism." That, too, wasn't true in the judge's case. Yet there's plenty of activism devoted to Obamacare. It won't stop until the president's health care law is dead or stripped of its key parts.

Reliable forecast under the weather

Meet the global weirdos. They’re the ones telling you that all the snow outside is proof that it’s getting warmer. Only, they don’t call it “warming” anymore.

No, that was back in the “Earth has a fever” days. Back when Al Gore was predicting that the ice caps were melting, the polar bears were drowning and Manhattan would sink beneath 20 feet of water “in the near future.”

But then something happened. Since 1998, temperatures have been relatively flat. We’ve got more polar bears than ever, and Manhattan is buried under snow. For a planet-roasting crisis that threatened the human race with extinction, there doesn’t seem to be much actual warming.

So then the mantra became “climate change.” The liberals formerly known as “warmists” began predicting that we would experience fundamental changes in our weather. Scientists at the University of East Anglia — the Harvard of climate change — said snow would be “a very rare and exciting event.” Children wouldn’t know what it was.

As for summers, in the wake of Katrina “change-ist” groups like predicted “global warming will make hurricanes even worse in the future.”

What happened? Nothing. Europe has had three winters in a row of snow and cold temperatures. In the Atlantic, “there has been a dramatic decrease in the number of hurricanes in the last five years,” according to meteorologist Art Horn. “The total energy in all hurricanes around the world has plunged since 1993. The opposite of what was predicted.”

So the new fall back is “global weirding.” The site has a “Weird Weather Watch” page. The uber-liberal Huffington Post ran a story in August headlined “Global Weirding”: Extreme Climate Events Dominate The Summer.”

“The extreme climate events all across the globe must say something about whether climate change is already upon us,” the HuffPo insisted. “Extreme is the new normal.”

They quote a professor of “environmental studies and politics” from Oberlin College who says, “More hottest hots, driest dries, wettest wets, windiest wind conditions. So it’s all part of a pattern.”

Gore is on board, too. He’s now merely claiming rising temperatures will “create all sorts of havoc, ranging from hotter dry spells to colder winters.”

Not “warming,” but “weirding.” Not “heating,” but “havoc.” Which is how global warming can cause more snow, less snow, no snow, avalanches, heat waves, cold snaps, wetter wets, drier dries, gingivitis, delirium tremens and irritable bowel syndrome ?. . . all at the same time!

Global warming — is there anything it can’t do?

Well, the one thing it apparently doesn’t do is help predict the weather. The UK’s Met Office stopped giving seasonal forecasts last year after mis-predicting warmer winters three years in a row. Meteorologists without a warmist agenda like Piers Corbyn and AccuWeather’s Joe Bastardi, on the other hand, continue to pay the bills by making predictions directly contrary to the “weirdos.” Oddly, they don’t have degrees in politics.

For a theory to be scientific, it must be fallible — capable of being proven false. If every weather condition can be used to “prove” global warming simply by being declared “weird,” then it’s not science. It’s a joke.

Which is exactly what the environmental movement has become.

Protesters Across U.S. Offer Support to Egyptians

Thousands of people who flooded streets in riots calling for President Hosni Mubarak to step down were joined Saturday by relatives and supporters at protests in major American cities."Mubarak will go. If not today, then tomorrow," Magdy Al-Abady, 39, of Chicago, said during a demonstration downtown in front of the Egyptian consulate's office. The genomics researcher, with an Egyptian flag draped over his shoulders, said his brother and parents were protesting in Egypt and he was speaking often with his brother.

Protesters also gathered outside the United Nations complex in New York City, filled the street in front of the Egyptian embassy in Washington and marched through downtown San Francisco to show solidarity with the uprising. Other cities including Seattle and Los Angeles also saw demonstrations.

In Chicago, picketers marched and chanted, "Hey Mubarak you will see, all Egyptians will be free." They held signs that said "Victory to the Egyptian people" and "Freedom and Justice for all Egyptians."

Al-Abady said he wants President Barack Obama to support the Egyptian people.

"He must say very clearly that he does not support Mubarak," Al-Abady said. "Mubarak is not Egypt. The Egyptians are not Mubarak."

The crowd in New York called for the international community to support the popular uprising and abandon Mubarak.

Dahlia Ashour, a native of the Egyptian capital of Cairo who still has family in Egypt, said she was disappointed Obama hadn't made a forceful statement in support of the protesters. "He should be standing by the people, not by the regime," she said.

Obama has issued a plea for restraint in Egypt and called on Mubarak to take steps to democratize his government and refrain from using violence against his people.

Ahmed Soliman, of Manhattan, said Egypt deserves a leader who is "completely democratic." He said the riots and massive demonstrations are the result of genuine popular anger, not the work of a scheming opposition party.

"This is coming from the people," he said. "I've been waiting for this to happen. I left Egypt 18 years ago, and I have been dreaming of this day since then."

In downtown Seattle, protesters carried hand-lettered signs, saying "We'll shout until he's out" and "Down, Down Mubarak."

Dozens gathered in Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to peacefully protest, waving Egyptian flags, holding signs and chanting for Mubarak to step down as they marched toward Boston.

In San Francisco, a crowd crammed into a small plaza waving Egyptian flags and raising chants in English and Arabic against Mubarak. Demonstrators said they were not placated by Mubarak's decision Saturday to name his intelligence chief as his first-ever vice president.

"We want to say to the U.S. administration: Stop supporting terror -- terror and dictatorship," said Omar Ali, 21, of San Francisco, referring to the Mubarak regime. "Either you stand for democracy or not."

College students in Los Angeles used Facebook to organize a demonstration outside the federal building in Westwood, asking for Mubarak to be ousted and a new interim government.

In Chicago, 35-year-old student and mother Basma Hassan waved the Egyptian flag and said she wants the Egyptian people to know they have support in the U.S.

"We feel their pain," she said. "We don't want anyone to think we betrayed them."

The Old Obama in New Clothing

The November election sent a clear message to Washington: less government, less debt, less spending. President Obama certainly heard it, but judging from his State of the Union address, he doesn't believe a word of it. The people say they want cuts? Sure they do - in the abstract. But any party that actually dares carry them out will be punished severely. On that, Obama stakes his reelection.

No other conclusion can be drawn from a speech that didn't even address the debt issue until 35 minutes in. And then what did he offer? A freeze on domestic discretionary spending that he himself admitted would affect a mere one-eighth of the budget.

Obama seemed impressed, however, that it would produce $400 billion in savings over 10 years. That's an average of $40 billion a year. The deficit for last year alone was more than 30 times as much. And total federal spending was more than 85 times that amount. A $40 billion annual savings for a government that just racked up $3 trillion in new debt over the past two years is deeply unserious. It's spillage, a rounding error.

As for entitlements, which are where the real money is, Obama said practically nothing. He is happy to discuss, but if Republicans dare take anything from granny, he shall be Horatius at the bridge.

This entire pantomime about debt reduction came after the first half of a speech devoted to, yes, new spending. One almost has to admire Obama's defiance. His 2009 stimulus and budget-busting health-care reform are precisely what stirred the popular revolt that delivered his November shellacking. And yet he's back for more.

It's as if Obama is daring the voters - and the Republicans - to prove they really want smaller government. He's manning the barricades for Obamacare, and he's here with yet another spending - excuse me, investment - spree. To face down those overachieving Asians, Obama wants to sink yet more monies into yet more road and bridge repair, more federally subsidized teachers - with a bit of high-speed rail tossed in for style. That will show the Chinese.

And of course, once again, there is the magic lure of a green economy created by the brilliance of Washington experts and politicians. This is to be our "Sputnik moment," when the fear of the foreigner spurs us to innovation and greatness of the kind that yielded NASA and the moon landing.

Apart from the irony of this appeal being made by the very president who has just killed NASA's manned space program, there is the fact that for three decades, since Jimmy Carter's synfuel fantasy, Washington has poured billions of taxpayer dollars down a rat hole in vain pursuit of economically competitive renewable energy.

This is nothing but a retread of what used to be called industrial policy - government picking winners and losers. Except that in a field that is not nearly technologically ready to match fossil fuels, we pick one loser after another - from ethanol, a $6 billion boondoggle that even Al Gore admits was a mistake, to the $41,000 Chevy Volt that only the rich can afford (with their extended Bush tax cuts, of course).

Perhaps this is all to be expected from Democrats - the party of government - and from a president who from his very first address to Congress has boldly displayed his zeal to fundamentally transform the American social contract and place it on a "New Foundation" (an Obama slogan that never took). He's been chastened enough by the election of 2010 to make gestures toward the center. But the State of the Union address revealed a man ideologically unbowed and undeterred. He served up an insignificant spending cut, yet another (if more modest) stimulus, and a promise to fight any Republican attempt to significantly shrink the size of government.

Indeed, he went beyond this. He tried to cast this more-of-the-same into a call to national greatness, citing two Michigan brothers who produce solar shingles as a stirring example of rising to the Sputnik moment.

"We do big things," Obama declared at the end of an address that was, on the contrary, the finest example of small-ball Clintonian minimalism since the days of school uniforms and midnight basketball.

From the moon landing to solar shingles. Is there a better example of American decline?