Friday, April 20, 2012

Black÷White=Two Nations: How About The Facts Instead

Two Nations

Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton
Calling America’s criminal justice system “racist” is not confined to “civil rights leaders” like the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. 

Then-Sen. Barack Obama, during the 2008 presidential campaign, said it, too. Blacks and whites, said Obama, “are arrested at very different rates, are convicted at very different rates (and) receive very different sentences … for the same crime.”

When the man who became president of the United States says this; the No. 1 law enforcement officer, well it must, therefore, be true, Right?

So let’s examine five major assumptions behind this assertion.

1) Blacks are arrested at higher rates compared to whites, but wrongly so.

Not true. While only 13 percent of the population, blacks accounted for 28 percent of nationwide arrests in 2010 and 38.1 percent of arrests for violent crime (murders, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault).

But are they unfairly arrested? Studies find that arrest rates by race are comparable to the race of suspect identification by victims.

For example, in a given city, x number of robbery victims describe their assailants as black, whether or not the suspect has been apprehended. It turns out that the race of those arrested matches the percentage given by victims. This has been found repeatedly across the country, in all categories of crime where the race of an assailant is identified. So unless the victims are deliberately misidentifying their assailants — unconcerned about whether the suspect is apprehended and knowingly give a false race — blacks are not being “over-arrested.”

2) Blacks are convicted at higher rates and given longer sentences than whites for the same crime.

Not true. Differences in conviction and sentencing rates by race are due to differences in the gravity of the criminal offenses, prior records or other legal variables. A 1994 Justice Department survey of felony cases in the country’s 75 largest urban areas actually found lower felony prosecution rates for blacks than whites and that blacks were less likely to be found guilty at trial.

3) The sentence disparity between powder and crack cocaine is racist and accounts for a large percentage of imprisoned blacks.

Not true. Concerned about the deadly effect of crack within their own communities, black members of Congress led the charge to pass the 1986 federal drug laws. The bill that was passed — which included the crack/powder sentencing disparity — did so with the support of the majority of black congresspersons.

None at the time objected to the sentencing disparity as “racist.”

In 2006, the feds tried 5,619 crack sellers, and 4,495 of them were black — out of the 562,000 blacks in state and federal prisons at the end of that year. Add in county and city jails, and the figure rises to 858,000.

And states’ crack cocaine laws are not the culprits. Only 13 states employ differing sentencing guidelines for crack vs. powder — and their differential is much smaller than that of the feds.

4) The “War on Drugs” accounts for a large number of blacks behind bars.

War on Drugs
Not true. In 2010, blacks were 31.8 percent of all arrests for drug crimes. But arrests for drug offenses are only 12.4 percent of all non-traffic arrests in the country and accounted for 14.2 percent of the offenses for which blacks were arrested.

5) More blacks are in jail than in college.

Not true. “More blacks (are) in jail than college, in every state,” said Jesse Jackson in 2007. That same year, presidential candidate Sen. Obama, echoed: “More young black men languish in prison than attend colleges and universities across America.”

If Jackson and Obama refer to black men of the usual college-age years, their claim is not even remotely true. According to 2005 Census Bureau statistics, the male African-American population of the United States aged between 18 and 24 numbered 1,896,000. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 106,000 African-Americans in this age group were in federal or state prisons at the end of 2005. … If you add the numbers in local jail (measured in mid-2006), you arrive at a grand total of 193,000 incarcerated young black males, or slightly over 10 percent.

And according to the same census data, 530,000 of these African-American males, or 28 percent, were enrolled in colleges or universities … in 2005. That is five times the number of young black men in federal and state prisons and two and a half times the total number incarcerated. If you expanded the age group to include African-American males up to 30 or 35, the college attendees would still outnumber the prisoners.”
Racism against blacks does exists, but it is no longer a meaningful obstacle to success. People are not angels. Some people are rotten. Humans make mistakes — and always will. But the facts do not show a “racist criminal justice system.”

There may be votes in teaching people to think like victicrats. But the problem of the high rates of black imprisonment will not be solved by falsely screaming racism.

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

The $5 Trillion Man And His Historic Milestone

Obama taking the oath of office
In the 39 months since Barack Obama took the oath of office as president of the United States, the federal government’s debt has increased by $5,027,761,476,484.56. a historic milestone — at lightning speed.
The Debt rose $4.899 trillion during the two terms of the Bush presidency. It has now gone up  $5,027,761,476,484.56.  trillion since President Obama took office.

Although he has served less than a term, Obama is now the first American president to see the federal government's debt increase by more than $5 trillion during his time in office.
George W. Bush

During the full eight years that George W. Bush served as president, the federal government's debt increased by $4,899,100,310,608.44. (Rising from $5,727,776,738,304.64 to $10,626,877,048,913.08.)

The $5,027,761,476,484.56 that the debt has increased during Obama's presidency equals $16,043.39 for every one of the 313,385,295 people the Census Bureau now estimates live in the United States.

At the close of business on Jan. 20, 2009, the day Obama was inaugurated, the federal government’s debt was $10,626,877,048,913.08, according to the U.S. Treasury. By the close of business on April 16, 2012—as many Americans were working to finalize their 2011 tax returns to meet an April 17 filing deadline—the debt had reached $15,654,638,525,397.64.

The National Debt also now exceeds 100% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, the total value of goods and services.

The $5,027,761,476,484.56 in additional debt that the U.S. government has taken on during the 39 months that Obama has been president is more debt than the federal government accumulated in the first 219 years of the Republic.

The total federal debt did not exceed $5,027,761,476,484.56 until March 14, 1996, when President Bill Clinton was in the last year of his first term in office. On that day, the national debt rose from $5,025,887,531,178.79 to 5,035,165,720,616.33.

It doesn’t get any better, either.  Obama has proposed a new budget for FY2013 that will add another $900 billion to the national debt under the most cheery, best-case scenarios imaginable, and likely will exceed the trillion-dollar mark for the fifth time in his presidency.  In the budget projections released with that proposal, Obama expects to leave office with a national debt of $21 trillion — which will mean that Obama himself would have doubled the debt during his eight years in office, adding $10.34 trillion for an increase of 97%.


calculating debt
Of course, the proper way to calculate debt responsibility is by control of Congress.  As I pointed out multiple occasions, that’s actually worse for Democrats. First, let’s me break down the last 10 years of the Bush/Obama era by control of Congress, starting on January 1, 2001. The starting point for the national debt was $5.662 trillion.  On January 6, 2007, when Democrats took over, Republicans in total control had added $3.011 trillion in debt in six years, less than Obama has added since taking office a little over three years ago.  Since taking control of Congress Democrats have added $4.992 trillion to the national debt.


Perhaps it would be fairer to look at the entirety of Republican control of the House, which lasted 12 years and bridged the Clinton and Bush administrations.  In that entire span, Republican budgets added $3.873 trillion to the national debt.  That is not only far below what Democrats have added in just one-third of the time, it’s also far below the Obama administration’s own projections of how much they would add to the national debt in just one term.

We can also do the same calculations by fiscal year, from October 1 to September 30 each year, matching the budgets. Using that guide, we find the following scenarios:

Republicans in control for 12 years: Added $4.034 trillion (avg $336.17 billion per year)

Republicans in control during Bush era: Added $3.201 trillion (avg $533.5 billion per year)

Democrats in control of Congress during Bush/Obama era:  Added $4.603 trillion (avg 1.48 trillion per year)

The solution for out-of-control deficit spending will have to come from Congress, since this President consistently refuses to take responsibility for it. Guy Benson has an in-depth rundown of Rep. Paul Ryan’s new budget, which at least takes a large step in the right direction:


On Spending - The Path to Prosperity spends $3.53 Trillion in FY 2013, a number that grows to $4.88 Trillion by the end of the decade.  It restores full military funding to pre-Budget Control Act sequestration levels, off-setting those dollars elsewhere and preventing a harmful gutting of our national defense.   It reduces spending by $5 Trillion over the next ten years, compared to Obama’s budget.  It restores federal spending to the historical norm of 20 percent of GDP by 2015.

On Deficits - Ryan’s blueprint reduces budget deficits by $3 Trillion over the coming decade, relative to Obama’s budget.  Although it doesn’t happen immediately, and unlike Obama’s plan, this budget balances.  Within the current decade window, it comes closest to primary balance by achieving a $166 Billion annual deficit in 2018 (to put that into perspective, 2010′s deficit under this president was $1.6 Trillion).  The closest Obama’s budget comes to primary balance is a $617 Billion shortfall in 2017, which is still roughly double the size of President Bush’s average deficit.

On Debt - Unlike President Obama’s unflinching debt express, the GOP budget’s lowers spending and enacts crucial reforms to chart a more sustainable debt course, allowing the United States to gradually begin paying down the national debt.  The plan would retire the publicly-held debt by the 2050′s.  Gross debt reached 100 percent of US GDP this year, an alarming tipping point — yet President Obama’s new budget offers ever higher debt in perpetuity.

Be sure to read it all.  Ryan’s plan takes the right approach, but doesn’t go far enough.  It’s not sufficient any longer to slow the rate at which we add to the national debt; we have to start subtracting from it.  Now that we have reached the Greece threshold of debt at 100% of our GDP, we can’t afford to keep adding to it.  Unfortunately for Ryan — who certainly understands the problem — he doesn’t have enough people in Washington that will show the necessary leadership to get that kind of approached passed and signed into law.  Until voters get serious and toss Obama and other unserious spenders out of office, Ryan can’t do any better than incremental improvements, which I’ll take over the alternatives offered at the moment.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Defense Cuts Will Put Nations Security At Risk

A doomsday clock of budget cuts disproportionately targeting the Defense Department and set to strike midnight at the first of next year as experts are now saying it’s time to prepare for the worst.

To be sure, the facts are grim. Sequestration, the product of failure by a Super-committee last July to root $1.2 trillion of excess spending out of the U.S. budget, means an automatic round of spending cuts, half of which, or up to $600 billion over the next decade, will fall across the Defense Department. 

In the best-case scenario, Defense officials would be permitted by the Office of Management and Budget to administer the cuts themselves, choosing the programs they deem appropriate for trimming. In the worst case, the ax will fall across every defense program equally, taking roughly nine percent off the top without regard to consequences.

The incomes of about 80 Defense Force staff on overseas postings will be slashed on January 1, next year when their cost of living allowances are cut.

The staff affected have no way of protesting or negotiating as their counterpart in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are doing through the PSA and Foreign Service Association.

Any public criticism of the unilateral move by the Defense Force would probably cost them their jobs. But I have learned of deep unhappiness in the ranks at the move, which is forecast to save $5.6 million annually.

With 157 non-operational postings overseas, the average weekly loss amounts to $685 a week.
Minister Jonathan Coleman

Defense Minister Jonathan Coleman said the decision was made at the end of November just after the election and before a new Government is formed. Dr Coleman said he had since asked the Chief of Defense Force, Lieutenant General Rhys Jones, for an assurance that he had got it right. 

The Government has required the Defense Force to cut its annual costs permanently by $350 million to $400 million, by 2015. The cuts in allowances will apply to overseas personnel on postings to embassies, instructors, trainees and advisers. They won't affect those on operations in places such as Afghanistan or the Solomon’s. And it won't affect salaries.


Lindsey Graham
“You cannot buy three-quarters of a ship or building,” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta wrote to Senate Armed Services Committee leaders John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in a letter last November, explaining the crippling effects of such a measure. Management leaders generally advocate reducing or abandoning specific activities, rather than invoking across-the-board cuts, which can harm valuable endeavors.

If the hatchet strikes indiscriminately, and at a time that does not regard Defense budget planning, Panetta said the immediate result would be employee furloughs and contract and procurement curtailment; and the end of the decade would see the smallest U.S. Air Force in history in terms of personnel, smallest ground force since 1940, and smallest number of Navy ships since 1915.

President Barack Obama set the trend with his first budget proposal in 2009, proposing that over $8 billion in cuts, or half of overall budget reductions, come from a Defense Department that was waging two wars and would soon embark on a massive troop surge in Afghanistan.

If budget reductions are restricted primarily to major acquisitions, as may happen if DoD is given a vasectomy, the outcome is still damaging, said American Enterprise Institute scholar Mackenzie Eaglen, who has written extensively about military readiness and Defense budget issues.

Moreover, Republican staffers with the House Armed Services Committee projected last September: the Army and the Marine Corps risk dropping 200,000 troops from 2011 levels; the Navy 50 ships or more; and the Air Force nearly 480 fighters, with additional blows to unit technological capability, humanitarian and noncombat missions, and provision for military families and dependents.

With enormous stresses on military families, high suicide rates and growing unemployment among Guard veterans, this is not the time to renege on commitments made to our nation’s deployed warriors. MOAA is deeply disappointed that DoD even considered ratcheting back a policy designed to sustain morale and quality of life, much less proceed with these ill-considered cuts in respite leave for which already-deployed members had planned.

Here’s a quick summary of recently introduced bills of interest to the military and veterans community:

S. 2179 (Sen. Jim Webb, D-VA): Would require schools with GI Bill-funded students to meet the same educational standards currently required for other federal funding. Some institutions are targeting GI Bill-eligibles for high-cost/low-value curricula, and this reform will help both students and the government get appropriate education “bang for the buck.” 

H.R. 3895 (Rep. Jeff Miller, R-FL): Would exempt VA health care funding from automatic funding cuts should Congress fail to reach agreement on national debt reduction.

H.R. 3904 (Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-MT): Would provide retroactive early retirement eligibility to the group of Air Force majors with more than 15 years of service who were involuntarily separated last year.
H.R. 4168 (Rep. Frank Guinta, R-NH):  Would place the Clark AFB Military Cemetery under the control of the American Battle Monuments Commission to ensure proper care for this facility in the Philippines where many US veterans are buried.

H.R. 2182 and S. 1734 (Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-GA and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-CT): Companion House and Senate bills would provide incentives to increase the commercial value of innovative antibiotic drugs and streamline the regulatory process so that pioneering infectious disease products can reach patients more quickly.  This would help vulnerable troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, many of whom have been exposed to highly resistant and contagious strains of bacteria.
H.R. 4164 and S. 2112 (Rep. Don Young, R-AK and Sen. Mark Begich, D-AK): Companion House and Senate bills would codify in law space-available travel on military aircraft for all active duty, National Guard, reserve, military retirees – including “gray area” Reserve retirees, and certain survivors.  Most Space-A rules presently are governed by DoD regulation.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Up-coming Bout In November: Romney vs Obama

                        Imagine:  It's November And Romney and Obama are locked in battle                              

Republicans always hand the presidential nomination to the candidate who is the ‘next-in-line.’” Every observer of presidential politics has encountered this theory. The idea is basically this: Republican presidential nominating contests are governed by a law that, in essence, allows the candidate who is “next in line” to receive the nod: Mitt Romney came in second to John McCain, who came in second to George W. Bush; Bob Dole came in second in 1988, Ronald Reagan came in second in 1976.

If this is true, then Mitt Romney’s nomination was basically inevitable and the other candidates never really had a chance. To mainstream Republican voters, despite their reluctance to accept him, there was simply no plausible alternative. But it is awfully difficult to imagine that a principled, articulate, experienced conservative alternative could not have upended him. It is a testimony to Romney’s breathtaking weakness as a candidate that Rick Santorum, of all people, was able to give him a scare.
Rick Santorum

But the withdrawal of Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum from the nomination race leaves Mitt Romney as his party's clear frontrunner and sets up a potentially intriguing battle for the White House in November. If, even 10 years ago, pundits had said the contest for the United States presidency in 2012 would be between a black Democrat and a Mormon Republican, few would have believed them.

In reality, the color of each candidate and his respective religion is likely to be largely irrelevant when the country goes to the polls.

Throughout his presidency, Barack Obama, hostage to potential claims of hypersensitivity and fearful of white voter backlash, has been careful not to highlight overly the delicate issue of race.
Christian Exodus

Mitt Romney has most likely already come to the conclusion the Christian evangelical wing of the Republican Party, which flocked to Mr. Santorum, is a lost cause for him - and that there is more profit for him in the centre ground among moderate independents as yet unconvinced President Obama has earned another term.

The influential factors in the forthcoming contest, which barring an unpredictable and extraordinary event - Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul remain theoretically in the running for the Republican spot - are the state of the US economy, economic fairness, and the contrasting personalities of the two likely candidates.


Mr. Romney will make most of his running on the first of these, being a successful and wealthy businessman with a personal fortune estimated at about $US 250 million.

He will be quietly hoping the stuttering economy fails to find a fluent and sustained growth spurt until after the election, thus being able to paint the President as a poor steward in such matters.

He will, likewise, portray the Democrats' redistributive tax policies - on which President Obama has been campaigning - as harmful to the economy and bordering on European-style socialism.

In such matters Mr Romney will have certain handicaps, as the gruelling primaries revealed.

These contests have been fiercely fought, with bitterness and bile writ large. Much was made of the way in which the multimillionaire made his wealth (through his involvement with private equity firm Bain Capital, which in part made its fortunes by closing down businesses and adding to the country's woeful unemployment statistics).

Ranged against him has been a collection of fractious and flawed individuals whose policy platforms and ideologies personify the splintered identity of today's Grand Old Party.
Rick Perry

There was Rick Perry, who stumbled fatally in a debate in which he could not recall which of the Government departments he would immediately shut down.

Michele Bachmann's star rose dramatically and waned almost as pointedly on revelations as to her shortcomings as a candidate.

Herman Cain withdrew after running into "women trouble". Mr Santorum, the darling of the religious right, flirted with such electorally volatile issues as contraception - he is against it.

Mr Gingrich, still running but millions of dollars in debt, flung mud.
So pointed at times was the commentary from some opponents and members of Mr Romney's own party, observers could have been forgiven for repeating an old saying: with friends like these, who needs enemies?

Members of the re-elect Barack Obama team must have on occasion pinched themselves. Then there is the challenger's flat presentational style. Try as he might to inject enthusiasm and passion into his speeches, Mr. Romney strains for effect and seems rehearsed. He has thus far barely sparked the imaginations of Republicans, let alone the undecideds.

With, arguably, an ideal profile for Republican candidacy - rich, white, male businessman - there remains a stubborn feeling he will go to the August convention as the candidate who won his party's ticket by default.

All of which makes him the underdog in the presidential election.

This is not always a bad place to be. President Obama, who will continue to make much of economic disparity and a taxation system that favors rich people, such as himself and Mr. Romney, at the expense of low and middle-income workers, will be wary of this factor. When the campaign proper gets under way, anything could happen.

Finally, a telling note: are all of these next-in-line theorists rushing to declare that, after Romney’s time has come and gone, Rick Santorum will be the next Republican presidential nominee? Do these people think that Chris Christie and Marco Rubio have reason to worry? Of course not. There is no “next-in-line” rule — just a hesitance to nominate upstart candidates and unknown quantities. For a conservative party, that should hardly be surprising — let alone interesting.

Six months is a long time in presidential politics, so, lets keep our fingers crossed and pray that Mr. Romney fares better than what I have him looking like here.