The Nation - When No Child Left Behind was signed into law 2001, lawmakers knew that mandating 100 percent student proficiency in math and reading by 2014 was unrealistic. But they assumed that by 2009, at the latest, Congress would reform and reauthorize the law and in the process adjust some of its unfeasible mandates.
Now it’s 2011, and Congress has yet to update NCLB. This failure means that 80 percent of Americans schools will be designated as “failing” when school begins in a few weeks. On MSNBC, Dana Goldstein says that Congress has been unable to pass NCLB reform because the Tea Party has eroded the decade long bipartisan consensus on education policy. Read full column here: News New Mexico
Townhall - At a time when many state and local governments cannot afford even necessary government programs, the Obama administration is about to force hundreds of jurisdictions to waste millions of dollars printing ballots in Spanish and other languages for voters who don't need them. Worse, some of these bilingual ballots may be used fraudulently to encourage people who are not citizens to vote illegally in next year's election. A perverse element of the Voting Rights Act makes the whole scheme possible, and, unfortunately, not even Republicans have been willing to challenge it. Under the Act, jurisdictions whose population includes at least 5 percent of voting-age citizens who have limited English proficiency must provide ballots and other voting materials in other languages. Currently, about 500 jurisdictions are required to do so. I have repeatedly testified before Congress against this provision. As I have argued, there are exceedingly few persons who are actually eligible to vote who can't understand English. English proficiency among U.S.-born Hispanics is virtually universal. And even among naturalized citizens, English proficiency is rarely a problem, since demonstrating English proficiency is required to become a U.S. citizen. Read full column here: News New Mexico
Townhall - Obama says he will get focused on the jobs problem just as soon as he returns from his August vacation in Martha's Vineyard. Like the more famous Hamptons, the Vineyard is a playground of the rich and famous out to find some summer enjoyment on the Atlantic shore. Just before leaving, Obama articulated his number one goal is to grow the economy. But while Obama is playing jetsetter, back in Washington a crucial regulatory agency, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has been captured by a group of extremists who actually believe the USA would be better off with a smaller economy.
In some of the economy's most hopeful corners, these bureaucrats are wielding all of the levers of regulatory authority in their arsenal to kill growth. Just as the "green shoots" of recovery sprout, they come along with a can of herbicidal regulations and kill the sprout. As long as Obama leaves these extremists in charge of the agency, the economy is unlikely to recover and will suffer. Having a reliable national electrical infrastructure is vital to new job creation. Yet new EPA regulations will significantly reduce the amount of electricity generated from coal-fired energy flowing from our power grid. Read full column here: News New Mexico
Santa Fe New Mexican - Mileage and gas-card receipts at the Public Regulation Commission should get much more scrutiny under a plan by Chief of Staff Johnny Montoya. Montoya is working to assign someone in the agency to dedicate his or her time to managing its fleet, including closely reviewing mileage sheets. He also is working to integrate a system several other state agencies already use that can place limits on an employee's gas-card use. The system can also send alerts to supervisors about an employee's purchases, and stop the card from being used if it exceeds a certain limit. "So when Johnny Montoya's gas card reaches $200 a week, it will send an alert," he said. The proposed changes come as Commissioner Jerome Block Jr. is under scrutiny for his state gas-card purchases, and there are questions over the mileage he sometimes listed on travel documents. Read full story here:News New Mexico
The Daily Caller - New details about Operation Fast and Furious cast doubt on the ability of the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General to conduct an “independent” and fair investigation, congressional Republican investigators say. The information comes via a letter Sen. Chuck Grassley and Rep. Darrell Issa sent to Attorney General Eric Holder on Tuesday. In it, they question a request from Holder for a transcript from a meeting they held in secret on July 4th with Ken Melson, acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Holder apparently told Issa and Grassley he was requesting the transcript for the DOJ and for the Office of the Inspector General — the entity that’s supposed to be distinct enough from Holder’s office to conduct a fair Operation Fast and Furious investigation. Holder and other DOJ officials have repeatedly said the DOJ’s Inspector General is conducting its own internal investigation into what went wrong with Fast and Furious. Even so, Holder’s latest request on behalf of the OIG sparks skepticism from investigators in Congress. Read full story here: News New Mexico
Why would Warren Buffett contradict himself on the pages of the most widely followed business newspaper on earth and argue for the continuation of incentive structures that are clearly failing. And why would Warren Buffett engage in the long since discredited practice of avoiding all specifics on a tricky $64 trillion conundrum regarding how to unwind promises that he said, "Will be impossible to keep?" The answers to these questions may lie in the fact that virtually every other image-conscious person trying to maintain their popularity, has cautiously navigated all discussions away from the specifics of reforming entitlements.
The most telling biography ever written about Warren Buffett is, “The Snowball,” by Alice Schroeder. In this in-depth study of Buffett, Schroeder provides clues that can help answer the newest questions on Buffett's latest pronouncements. During her research processes, Schroeder dug deep. Eventually she found the most compelling evidence that drives Buffett’s late life motivations. Schroeder concluded after all the facts were in, that Buffett is as much an image-conscious celebrity as he is anything else these days. And while the man continues to extol the virtues of capitalism and still never hesitates to take advantage of a an inside deal (i.e. the convertible preferred private placement from Goldman Sachs right around the time the Bush administration provided the notorious toxic mortgage stained Wall Street investment firm with a fast track to bank holding status), his primary need above all else is to appear to be overflowing with compassion for the little guy.
Buffett with Alice Schroeder
Possessing an image of over-riding compassion is his most precious need. And Buffett is more protective of that image than he is of a few extra million dollars that he might pay in cap gains taxes. This is especially true if active investors paid even more. In fact, so anxious is Buffett to preserve his image as a man of the people, he no longer even speaks with the author of the best written biography on his life. It would seem, after Buffett personally authorized Alice Schroeder to do an authentic biography of him warts and all, he became at tad miffed at the effect some of those little truths had on his image. Still, “The Snowball,” is a must read. There is much more to Warren Buffett than the carefully cultivated late-life image he prefers.
"The Snowball," is most instructive. When this great business apostle does finally die, his personal wealth will NOT go to the federal government. Instead, it will go to a tax-exempt foundation. Buffett has frequently made it very clear that he thinks the foundation of his choice will do much more with his wealth than could be done if what he has accumulated fell into the hands of the U.S. Treasury Department. No arguements there. Buffett devotees would be foolish if they chose to pay more attention to what this brilliant man says vaguely for his image. It is best to know precisely what he actually does as an investor and philanthroper. His letters to shareholders are filled with the truths while his op-ed pieces are image managing generalizations. And in those Berkshire letters we can say that avoiding capital gains tax liabilities is the name of the Buffett game. In fact Buffett avoids virtually all other actions that might tend to put a significant portion of his wealth into the hands of the federal government. And he provides illustrations to justify this approach. These tactics have been, and will continue to be the core strategy for Buffett, even from his grave. Why? Because he is extremely astute. Any op-ed piece written by Buffett (or anyone else) that suggests he does not translate his tax minimizing philosophy into his overall wealth management and accumulation strategy cannot support their case with the facts.