October 06, 2015

A Thought on Global Warming (aka Climate Change)

"The effort to suppress global warming dissidents is not new. Grist Magazine writer David Roberts said: "When we've finally gotten serious about global warming, when the impacts are really hitting us and we're in a full worldwide scramble to minimize the damage, we should have war crimes trials for these bastards — some sort of climate Nuremberg."

"Professor Richard Parncutt has called for the execution of prominent "GW deniers." Climate Progress editor Joe Romm called for deniers to be strangled in their beds. James Hansen, who has headed NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, has likewise called for trials of global warming deniers.

"The global warming agenda is a desperate effort to gain greater control over our lives. Political commentator Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956) explained, "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."

"That's the political goal of the global warmers."

~ Walter E. Williams

Source: His October 6, 2015 Column, posted at Investor's Business Daily.

October 05, 2015

High Office Vacancy Top Concern of 3 of 4 Board Candidates

At an Arlington County Board candidate forum yesterday, three of four Board candidates said the "Office-vacancy rate a threat to Arlington's vitality," according to an online report this morning by the Arlington Sun Gazette's Scott McCaffrey. According to McCaffrey:

"They may have been speaking to a sanctuary filled with affordable-housing advocates, but three of the four County Board candidates singled out fixing Arlington’s teetering commercial-office-vacancy situation as the biggest threat to community well-being – and the fourth contender put it high on her list, as well.

“Fill that office space” is how independent candidate Michael McMenamin described what he believed is the most pressing county-government issue at the Oct. 4 forum, sponsored by Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement (VOICE) and held at Arlington Presbyterian Church.

"Directed at the end of the forum by Rev. Linda Peebles of Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington to list the three issues needing immediate triage, McMenamin was joined by Democrat Christian Dorsey and independent Audrey Clement in zeroing in on the county’s record office-vacancy rate. The rate currently stands at about 20 percent, three to four times higher than county officials would like.

"Addressing the problem “requires our utmost attention,” said Dorsey, because with lower tax revenue resulting from empty office space, “we haven’t been able to make the necessary investments” in everything from open space to housing to core services.

"Only Democrat Katie Cristol put the office-vacancy situation lower than No. 1 on her list of concerns, ranking it below growing school enrollment.

"After the 90-minute forum, Cristol stood by her ranking, calling the health of the office market “interrelated” with meeting the challenges of school growth.

“I think about things holistically,” she said."

The remainder of the article deals with the four candidates' views on the so-called Affordable Housing Master Plan, which was recently adopted by the Arlington County Board. (see our September 21, 2015 Growls)

At the June 2015 monthly meeting of the Arlington County Civic Federation, the group's Revenues & Expenditures (R&E) Committee reported to delegates on the challenge of economic development in Arlington County. In the section on commercial office rates, R&E wrote:

"Trying to understand the many causes of how Arlington County came to have a current vacancy rate of 21.8% -- above the 15-year historical average12 -- is beyond the scope of this study, e.g., having access to the county’s inventory of commercial office space.

"However, a review of the online copies of the Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFR’s) suggest the current 21.8% rate has been increasing since 2001. The information in the chart on the following page is taken directly from the County Manager’s transmittal memorandum of each year’s CAFR. The CAFR contains the county’s financial statements that have been audited by the independent auditors. More specifically the numbers come from the Manager’s description of the local economy.

"Rather than using the transmittal memo to highlight the continuing problem of high commercial vacancy rates. For example, the transmittal memo in one CAFR -- for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2006 -- boasted that "Arlington has more private office space than downtown Los Angeles, Atlanta or Seattle and is the epitome of smart growth and new urbanism . . . .”

One of the problems, noted by R&E, was the County Manager does not draw attention to the trend of the vacancy rates in the Manager's introduction to the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR). In R&E's report, we noted the rate increased from 1.90% in July 2001 to 20.4% in 2014's 2nd quarter, but the County Manager did not highlight that growing trend in any one of the intervening CAFR's. Unfortunately, R&E's report has not been posted on the Civic Federation's website, but if any Growls reader wishes a copy, we'll provide a copy of R&E's report.

The county's Arlington Economic Development (AED) department produces a monthly two-page flyer of economic  indicators, available here. Incidentally, the EOM September 2015 vacancy rate is 20.6%.

Growls readers who wish more information about the November 3, 2015 General Election should contact Arlington County's Office of Voter Registration, Suite 320, 2100 Clarendon Boulevard (703-228-3456), or it's Elections Office website. If you have concerns about economic development or the county's commercial vacancy rates, contact the Arlington County Board. Just click-on the link below:

  • Call the County Board office at (703) 228-3130

And tell them ACTA sent you.

October 04, 2015

A Thought about the Income Tax

"The income tax has spawned an intrusive bureaucracy, creating so much complexity and red tape that millions of ordinary citizens have to go get some accountant to fill out the forms for them -- and then sign under penalty of perjury that it was done right. If you knew how to do it right, you wouldn't have to go to somebody else to have it done, wouldn't you?"

~ Thomas Sowell

Source: page 180, "As Certain as Death: Quotations About Taxes," 2010, compiled by Jeffrey L. Yablon, TaxAnalysts.com.

To read more by Thomas Sowell, please visit his website.

October 03, 2015

A Thought on the Ninth Amendment

The Ninth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Source: The Bill of Rights as Ratified, "Resources" at The Patriot Post.


"United States v. Carolene Products Co. was almost as far-reaching in its expansion of federal power as Helvering. It had three effects, overlapping but distinct. First, it effectively did what the Ninth Amendment had been intended to prevent -- it limited the rights of the American people to those that were explicitly named in the text of the Constitution and its amendments. Second, it effectively wiped out protections of economic rights. Third, it gave the Court latitude to decide which rights were fundamental and which were not -- and thereby cut the legs from under the Court's protection even of rights that are not spelled out in the Constitution." (italics in the original)

~ Charles Murray

Source: page 21, "By the People: Rebuilding Librerty Without Permission," by Charles Murray, available at Barnes and Noble. To see book's cover, see previous Growls.

October 02, 2015

A Thought on Politicians, Bureaucrats and the Rich

"The power which a multiple millionaire, who may be my neighbour(sic) and perhaps my employer, has over me is very much less than that which the smallest functionaire(sic) possesses who wields the coercive power of the state, and on whose discretion it depends whether and how I am to be allowed to live or to work."

~ Friedrich von Hayek, The Road to Serfdom

Source: page ix, "By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission,: Charles Murray, available at Barnes and Noble.

October 01, 2015

Electronic Health Records a $30 Billion Boondoggle?

At the CNS News website today, Barbara Hollingsworth references a new GAO report and writes, "The federal government’s six-year-old, $30 billion Electronic Health Records (EHR) Incentive Programs – which were designed to cut medical costs by allowing doctors and hospitals serving Medicare and Medicaid recipients to share test results and clinical data – are having the opposite effect."

Hollingsworth continued her reporting:

"Representatives from 10 of 18 non-federal, non-profit participating organizations interviewed by GAO between April and September said that program requirements “divert resources and attention from other efforts to enable interoperability.”

"As a result, the costs of trying to combine incompatible patient records is forcing medical costs up instead of down.

“Sixteen of the 18 initiatives are working to address the challenge of the reported high costs associated with interoperability,” GAO reported.

The EHR incentive program was funded under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act as part of the 2009 stimulus legislation.

"But Stage 2 of the program is so complex that only about 11 percent of the 491,000 eligible physicians and 42 percent of the nearly 4,500 eligible hospitals have been able to comply with it, according to Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN), one of five Senate committee chairman who requested the GAO study.

"Representatives from five of the groups interviewed “suggested pausing or stopping the programs” altogether because differing technical standards and variations in state privacy rules are making the goal of interoperability difficult to reach, the GAO reported."

She concluded by noting the views of two critics, saying:

"But critics point out that achieving EHR interoperability poses a threat to patient privacy.

“Given the absence of patient consent requirement for data sharing, the lack of interoperability is all that protects Americans from a nationally imposed breach of their medical privacy,” said Twila Brase, president of the Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom.

“If a personal, computerized medical record is considered so essential, why not simply scan anything pertinent onto a thumb drive for the patient, so he alone has control of it and can decide who will have access?” asked Lawrence Pivnik, MD JD, a contributing fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA)."

The U.S. General Accountability Office (GAO report (No. GAO-15-816, September 2015) is entitled, "Nonfederal Efforts to Help Achieve Health Information Interoperability." A one-page summary is here.

GAO identified their reasoning for performing the audit this way:

"EHR interoperability is viewed by many health care stakeholders as a necessary step toward improving health care. However, interoperability has remained limited. Although the federal government plays a key role in guiding movement toward interoperability, many of the actions are to be completed by nonfederal stakeholders.

"GAO was asked to review the status of efforts by entities other than the federal government to develop infrastructure that could lead to nationwide interoperability of health information. This report describes the (1) characteristics of selected nonfederal initiatives intended to facilitate EHR interoperability, and (2) key challenges related to EHR interoperability and the extent to which selected nonfederal initiatives are addressing these challenges. GAO interviewed representatives from 18 selected nonfederal initiatives that were frequently mentioned by stakeholders GAO interviewed, and reflected a range of approaches. GAO reviewed documents from these initiatives as well as other published research."

John R. Graham, a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) and a financial, economic, and policy analyst in the health sector for Forbes magazine posted a health alert yesterday urging the cancellation of any meaning use of Stage 3 electronic health records at NCPA's Health Policy Blog, saying in part:

"Over one quarter of the members of the U.S. House of Representatives – 116 of them – just signed a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Health & Human Services urging delay of the next step in the federal government’s struggling effort to impose uniform federal requirements for health information technology.

"The rule in question is Meaningful Use Stage 3 (MU3), imposed by the federal government via the HITECH Act of 2009. The so-called “stimulus” act committed almost $30 billion to induce physicians and health facilities to install Electronic Health Records (EHRs) and move patient records beyond clipboards and manila file folders. These are worthy goals. Unfortunately, the $30 billion has pretty much all been spent, and there is precious little to show for it."

There are several related posts available there, too.

Have a few minutes to write your Congress Critter? Tell them you're tired of the continued waste, fraud and abuse in federal government programs. They need to hear you growl, in addition to knowing your positions on federal government spending. Contact information is available at Thomas (use left-hand column). Taxpayers living in Virginia's Arlington County, can contact:

  • Senator Mark Warner (D) -  write to him or call (202) 224-2023
  • Senator Tim Kaine (D) -- write to him or call (202) 224-4024
  • Representative Don Beyer (D) -- write to him or call (202) 225-4376

Ask for a written response, and tell them ACTA sent you. And kudos to the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) for continuing to publish meaningful and understandable analyses of public policy.


September 30, 2015

CAGW announces their September Porker of the Month

Porker of the Month is a dubious honor given to lawmakers, government officials, and political candidates who have shown a blatant disregard for the interests of taxpayers.

Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) has announced their latest Porker of the Month, and their selection is Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland). She was selected "for her leading role in the effort to bust the very spending caps she voted for and President Obama agreed to in 2011." (emphasis in the original)

CAGW justified their selection of Sen. Mikulski this way:

"The Budget Control Act (BCA) became law on August 2, 2011 and required that spending be reduced over the following decade by a greater amount than the increase in the federal debt limit.  If Congress failed to agree to sufficient cuts to meet the spending caps, automatic cuts would occur through sequestration.  Since 2011, the BCA has significantly reduced the growth of annual deficits, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s updated 2015 budget projections.

"Despite having been one of 74 senators who voted in favor of the BCA in 2011, Senator Mikulski has pushed for lifting the caps and vast increases in spending.  On February 5, 2015, she introduced a bill to lift caps on research grants at the National Institutes of Health.  On September 15, Sen. Mikulski laid out her preferred timeline for funding the government:  “I’d like to get everything done by Thanksgiving, but that would mean a CR where we lift the caps in October and then appropriations doing work in November.”  She repeated her willingness to bust the caps on September 18, stating, “I like November, so that we could lift the caps and so on.”

"While Senator Mikulski is not the only Democrat in favor of busting the caps, she is her party’s most senior member on the Senate Appropriations Committee.  That position comes with a prodigious responsibility to advocate for fiscal discipline.  However, she has repeatedly failed to exercise her influence in a constructive manner.

"CAGW President Tom Schatz said, “Busting the caps is unacceptable.  The fact that so many in Congress are contemplating ending them is an ominous sign for anyone who favors fiscal restraint and commonsense spending policies.  Following her flip-flop on the BCA, Senator Mikulski has played a leading role in her party’s quest to wipe out the caps.  Her actions have been a disservice to the principles of fiscal responsibility.”

CAGW's justification is fully documented with links provided in CAGW's announcement.

If you have a few minutes, use  one or all of the following links to communicate  with your Congress Critter(s). They may not listen to your point of view, but they do track incoming communications. They need to hear you growl, in addition to knowing your positions on federal government spending. Contact information is available at Thomas (use left-hand column). Taxpayers living in Virginia's Arlington County, can contact:

  • Senator Mark Warner (D) -  write to him or call (202) 224-2023
  • Senator Tim Kaine (D) -- write to him or call (202) 224-4024
  • Representative Don Beyer (D) -- write to him or call (202) 225-4376

Ask for a written response, and tell them ACTA sent you. And kudos to Citizens Against Government Waaste (CAGW) for their continued efforts to fight government waste.

September 29, 2015

A Thought on National Security

“As the nation has learned time and again, it is American military preparedness and superiority, in combination with a proactive and prudent foreign policy, that  are likely to serve as a deterrent to military conflict and prevent large-scale, long lasting wars. Should war occur —- and at times war is unavoidable — the United States must ensure that its young service personnel are the best trained and equipped on the face of the earth. Yet at precisely the time in American history when younger people need to be most vigilant and vocal, given the multiple and rising dangers facing the nation and, sadly, the failure of public officials to adequately prepare for these threats, Pew (Research Center) reports that more than 65 percent of younger people born between 1981 and 2005 support reducing military spending in order to preserve spending on social programs.”

~ Mark Levin

Source: pages 156-157 of Mark R. Levin's “Plunder and Deceit: Big Government’s Exploitation of Young People and the Future.," available at Barnes & Noble. Also available at Amazon.

October 2015
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

The ACTA Watchdog

Latest Issue of The ACTA Watchdog




October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Items in Growls are written by individual ACTA members and do not necessarily represent the views of the Arlington County Taxpayers Association, Inc. Please send comments about Growls to The Growl Meister