Starbucks Chief Executive Officer Howard Schultz has made his disdain for the Obama administration public. As a business leader, his disappointment with the Obama administration does not place him in the minority, but he has made it clear that he is willing to take on this Congress. According to Bloomberg News, “Starbucks Corp. (SBUX) Chief Executive Officer Howard Schultz urged other CEOs to stop donating to U.S. political campaigns to encourage leaders to solve the nation’s growing budget deficit.” Schultz wrote in an email to business leaders, “I am asking that all of us forego political contributions until the Congress and the President return to Washington and deliver a fiscally disciplined long-term debt and deficit plan to the American.” The email went out to NYSE Euronext CEO Duncan Niederauer and Bob Greifeld, CEO of Nasdaz OMX Group Inc., who reportedly emailed letters to companies in return.
Controversy over an executive order issued by Rick Perry in 2007 is following the Texas Governor on the presidential campaign trail. In New Hampshire on Saturday and in Iowa on Monday, Perry faced questions about his order to have girls entering the sixth grade in Texas vaccinated against the human papillomavirus, a common sexually transmitted disease and the cause of about 70 percent of all cervical cancer, according to the federal Center for Disease Control. Girls would be exempt from the order only if a parent or guardian signed an affidavit claiming a "conscientious objection." The order, signed by the Governor on February 2, 2007, became the subject of sharp and widespread criticism and the Legislature promptly passed a law revoking it. According to the ABC News blog, "The Note," Perry was asked about the controversial order during a backyard reception for the candidate at the home of state Rep. Pamela Tucker in Greenland, New Hampshire.
At the White House Rural Economic Forum in Peosta, Iowa, on Tuesday, President Obama unveiled new economic initiatives to help stir job growth and capital investment in rural America. "These are tough times for a lot of Americans — including those who live in our rural communities," the President said in a press release. "That’s why my administration has put a special focus on helping rural families find jobs, grow their businesses and regain a sense of economic security." With firm opposition from Republicans over another federal stimulus package, the White House has been seeking ways to curb the 9 percent unemployment rate without needing congressional approval. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Small Business Administrator Karen Mills alleged that the new economic package will have a meaningful impact on rural jobs — a critical element of U.S. unemployment, they claim, because although 16 percent of Americans live in rural areas, 90 percent of persistent poverty exists there. Recommended by the White House Rural Council, Obama’s plan offers four economic initiatives:
While many are complaining about the recent debt-ceiling deal, is it really the issue? Sure, statists say that the Republicans steered us toward crisis with their initial unwillingness to compromise, while traditionalists complain that the GOP folded and “let us down again.” Our problems, however, lie not in our politicians but in ourselves. Just so you know, my solution to our spending woes would be to once again limit the central government to only that which our Constitution dictates it may do, which would cause its budget to immediately shrink by at least two-thirds — and probably far more. Of course, this would involve eliminating bureaucracies such as the Department of Education, Environmental Protection Agency, and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and programs such as Social Security and federally provided food stamps. There would be nothing to fear, either, as there is much duplication here; for example, states have their own environmental and education agencies and other bureaucracies/programs that render the feds’ corresponding ones redundant. And why are we paying for two different levels of government to do the same thing? As for third-rail program Social Security, it could be devolved to the states, whose residents could then decide what its future would be.
The developments that have taken place in the 17 years that have passed since the death of Dr. Russell Kirk (1918-1994) have demonstrated the enduring significance of the writings of one of the pivotal thinkers of 20th century American conservatism. The American body politic seems mortally ill, and many of the current crop of “conservative” writers are utterly incapable of addressing the actual needs of these United States with even a fraction of the wisdom that Kirk readily displayed throughout his long career. The Intercollegiate Institute’s 2006 collection of Kirk’s essays, The Essential Russell Kirk, offered a new generation of conservatives an opportunity to encounter a broad range of his scholarship. Now, a second edition of Charles C. Brown’s Russell Kirk — A Bibliography, will further aid in the study of the writes of the “Sage of Mecosta.” The second edition of Kirk’s bibliography is not a minor update; the first edition was published 30 years ago — long before many of his significant later books had been written. The fundamental structure of Brown’s first edition has been retained, including every aspect of Kirk’s writings (and now expanded to include published interviews). The task undertaken by Brown — who serves as archivist of the Kirk Papers — provides a tremendous resource for a careful examination of various aspects of Kirk’s thought.
A new exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History reveals a bias against two icons of Americans: Christopher Columbus and Thomas Jefferson. The "Race: Are We So Different?" display — developed by the American Anthropological Association — takes what the museum’s website calls “an unprecedented look at race and racism in the United States.” Visitors to the museum first encounter a five-minute video at the front of the hall, in which a number of controversial assertions are made: for example, that Christopher Columbus “colonized and conquered” the native Indians, and that Thomas Jefferson (as shown in the presentation, left) was merely a racist “slaveholder.” The narrator of the video asserts: Race is a powerful idea that was invented by society.
The U.S. Postal Service (USPS), which has been cited for decades as a case study in government inefficiency, waste, and top-heavy bureaucracy, has announced that it will make deep cuts to its staffing, as well as overhaul the generous benefits package it provides to employees. According to the Federal Times, the USPS will cut 120,000 workers — about a third of its work force — by 2015. In addition, the government agency is seeking to set up its own health benefits plan for postal workers, as well as eliminate pensions for new employees. “The Postal Service is essentially bankrupt and will run out of cash next month, which is forcing it to take drastic steps to cut costs,” reported the Federal Times. In a draft document of the plan, one USPS official waxed candid about the agency’s dire financial state, noting: “If we were a private company, we already would have filed for bankruptcy and gone through restructuring — much like major automakers did two years ago.”
Almost everyone is aware that the federal government pays farmers not to grow certain crops. But not many know that taxpayers are also being forced to pay airlines to fly empty planes. It’s true. According to the Associated Press, the $200 million federal Essential Air Service (EAS) program subsidizes airline service to less populous areas of the country; and because it does so on a per-flight — not per-passenger — basis, airlines sometimes fly empty planes back and forth just to keep the free funds flowing. EAS was created in 1978 as an outgrowth of airline deregulation — deregulation, like most words, not meaning the same thing in Washington as it does outside the Beltway. Some in Congress believed that airline service to rural areas was so critical that it had to be maintained even if it was unprofitable to airlines; and who better to take on an unprofitable venture — and guarantee its continued unprofitability — than Uncle Sam? University of California at Berkeley professor Severin Borenstein, one of the designers of EAS, told the AP that “Congress originally intended for the program to end after 10 years.”
California has provided yet another example of just how far the tentacles of the Nanny State can reach. California’s legislature will be confronted by a load of bills to consider upon its return from a month-long recess, one of which mandates that hotels eliminate flat sheets and requires all hotels to have fitted sheets on hotel beds. Section 1 of the legislation requires: The use of a fitted sheet, instead of a flat sheet, as the bottom sheet on all beds within the lodging establishment. For the purpose of this section, a "fitted sheet" means a bed sheet containing elastic or similar material sewn into each of the four corners that allows the sheet to stay in place over the mattress.
Tea Party activist Ryan Rhodes confronted President Obama publicly at a town hall meeting in Iowa and demanded to know whether or not Vice President Joe Biden did in fact call Tea Partiers “terrorists” during the debt ceiling debate. Reports indicate that Obama did engage in a “heated back and forth” with the activist but refused to directly answer the question. On August 1, Vice President Joe Biden and a number of other House Democrats issued a verbal lashing to Tea Party Republicans, accusing them of having “acted like terrorists” in the fight over the debt ceiling. According to Politico, Biden was “agreeing with a line of argument made by Rep. Mike Doyle,” who said, “We have negotiated with terrorists. This small group of terrorists have made it impossible to spend any money.” Biden later made a similar statement, “They have acted like terrorists.”