Monday, December 31, 2012
When the time came to run for re-election, Obama finally started talking about the economy -- a lot. He talked about it, and why his economic plan was superior to Mitt Romney's, so much that audiences might well have come away with the impression that economic recovery was the president's top second-term priority. Turns out they would have been wrong.
◼ Obama's 'messianism' makes economy a secondary concern - Byron York/Washington Examiner
Three hundred sixty-five
bright mornings and starlit evenings;
fifty-two promising weeks;
twelve transformative months
full of beautiful possibilities;
and four splendid seasons.
A simply abundant year
to be savored.
◼ Sarah Ban Breathnach: Simple Abundance
◼ More than 800 new laws will go into effect in 2013 in California. The new laws cover a vast array of issues including internet privacy, giving drivers licenses to children of illegal immigrants, banning psychotherapy for young gay teens and the use of dogs when hunting bobcats or bears. - Breitbart
◼ Let’s celebrate New Year’s by giving up on the Constitution - Allahpundit/HotAir
What’s left for a leftist to dream about after two victories as momentous as that? Jettisoning the final check on their power, I guess...
◼ Gray Lady Down: The New York Times Jettisons the Constitution - Ed Driscoll/PJM
...As late as the 1970s, liberals seemed to be able to co-exist, albeit tenuously, with the Constitution. Then came Political Correctness, and the left’s seething hatred for postwar conservatism. And thus, we’re reliving the start of 2011, with a shattering gun crime caused by a man with severe mental illness, and the Left reacting like Dracula seeing a cross when it comes to the Constitution. Or as John Hinderaker of Power Line wrote on January 5th, 2011:
Needless to say, the Times did not adopt a similarly surly attitude in January 2007, when Nancy Pelosi took over the helm in the House. The editorial continues:And thus we arrive at the start of 2013; and even some leftists are astonished at the Times’ embrace of fascism.
The empty gestures are officially intended to set a new tone in Washington, to demonstrate — presumably to the Republicans’ Tea Party supporters — that things are about to be done very differently. But it is far from clear what message is being sent by, for instance, reading aloud the nation’s foundational document. Is this group of Republicans really trying to suggest that they care more deeply about the Constitution than anyone else and will follow it more closely?Well, yeah. Actually paying attention to the Constitution would be a change. But now the Times shows its true colors:
In any case, it is a presumptuous and self-righteous act, suggesting that they alone understand the true meaning of a text that the founders wisely left open to generations of reinterpretation. Certainly the Republican leadership is not trying to suggest that African-Americans still be counted as three-fifths of a person.Presumptuous to read the Constitution out loud? Seriously? And, in fact, the founders didn’t leave the Constitution “open to generations of reinterpretation;” they provided for the document to be changed by amendment. But most revealing is the Times’ hauling out the old three/fifths chestnut, much beloved by liberals who despise the Constitution. Never mind that the point of that provision, insisted upon by representatives of the free states, was to limit the influence of pro-slavery states in the House. This is, actually, a good illustration of how the Constitution has changed through amendment rather than “reinterpretation.” Once the slaves were freed during and after the Civil War, the 14th Amendment provided that the House would be “apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State….” So the paper’s snarky aside is entirely misplaced.
◼ 2013: Welcome to Very, Very Scary Times - Victor Davis Hanson/PJM
House GOP leadership is livid over Obama's speech, threatening to blow everything up, source says— Ryan Grim (@ryangrim) December 31, 2012
◼ DEAL: NO CUTS! - Washington Post via Drudge
◼ Breaking: Obama to speak about fiscal cliff at 1:30; Update: Tax deal done? Update: Sabotage? - HotAir
A “senior Republican side” tells Reuters that a majority of Senate Republicans are expected to vote yes on the deal. Republicans may not be the main stumbling block anymore, though. There’s a lot of angst among liberals this morning about Democrats backing off of the $250,000 threshold for new taxes, with people as prominent as Tom Harkin dumping all over the proposed deal.
◼ On the Fiscal Cliff, Republicans Are Blowing a Great Deal - Bloomberg Business Week
With the caveat that no reporter is privy to the details of the offers being swapped, here is the deal that seemed to be emerging: Democrats would get an extension of unemployment benefits for 2.1 million people; they’d patch the alternative minimum tax for a year to protect the middle class from sharp tax hikes; and they’d implement a “doc fix” to ensure that Medicare reimbursement rates to doctors don’t fall precipitously and limit patients’ access to medical care. Republicans would get to preserve Bush-era income tax rates for households making up to $400,000 (rather than the $250,000 limit Democrats prefer). They’d also get a lower tax rate and a much higher threshold for inheritance taxes (set to revert to 55 percent on estates of more than $1 million on Tuesday). And significantly, Republicans would hold onto their greatest point of leverage in upcoming negotiations over entitlement cuts, because the deal wouldn’t raise the debt limit.
Here’s what’s important about everything Democrats would get: It’s temporary; everything expires (presumably) within a year. Here’s what’s important about what Republicans would get: it’s permanent. The tax rates won’t expire.
That means Democrats are offering a huge gift to Republicans and getting almost nothing in return because on Jan. 1, if no deal is struck, Democrats will get even more revenue than they’re asking for without conceding a thing. And if, as polls suggest, voters would blame Republicans for going over the cliff, Democrats are also offering to save Republicans from their worst impulses—which, at least for the time being, since they haven’t yet agreed, is to reject this deal.
◼ GALLUP: Disapproval of Obama Has Climbed 5 Points Since Christmas... - CNS News
◼ House 'Tea Party' Members Appear to Hold Key Votes - Patriot Update
Look beyond today's talk of the Fiscal Cliff’ to see the PRESENT LAW $1 Trillion Tax Hike to pay for Obamacare bit.ly/VpLoUP— Grover Norquist (@GroverNorquist) December 31, 2012
◼ OBAMA DEMANDS MORE TAX HIKES NEXT YEAR
Speaker Boehner, in his press release, went on to point out that Democrat President Barack Obama "has simply allowed the Democratic-controlled Senate to sit on" those pieces of House legislation.
While Democrats blame Republicans for the threat of 'going over' the fiscal cliff, Speaker Boehner explained that "needed [budget] cuts and reforms agreed to just last year were no longer on the table, as [the president] cited an inability to sell them to the Democrats." The president continues "to insist on a package skewed dramatically in favor of higher taxes that would destroy jobs."
It is neither the Republican-controlled House nor Republican leaders in general who have brought us to the point of going over the economic precipice. It is the president and the Democratic-controlled Senate that are leading our economy to the edge of the fiscal cliff.
Republican women must let leadership in the House and the Senate know our strong opinions in support of their stands. It is time for Harry Reid and the Democrats in the Senate to do the job they were elected to do. With the Republican-controlled House having sent fiscal cliff avoidance legislation to them, it is now the Senate's responsibility to act. Please contact leadership members and tell them of your support.
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
(202) 224-2541 Fax (202) 224-2499
Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX)
(202) 224-2934 Fax (202) 228-2856
Republican Conference Chair John Thune (R-S.D.)
(202) 224-2321 Fax (202) 228-5429
Republican Policy Committee Chair John Barrasso (R-WY)
(202) 224-6441 Fax (202) 224-1724
Ranking Member on the Budget Committee Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
(202) 224-4124 Fax (202) 224-3149
Speaker John Boehner (R-OH)
(202) 225-4146 Fax (202) 225-0704
Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA)
(202) 225-2815 Fax (202) 225-0011
Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)
(202) 225-2915 Fax (202) 225-2908
Republican Conference Chair Kathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA)
(202) 22502006 Fax (202) 225-3392
Sunday, December 30, 2012
What these people share is the goal of avoiding or benefitting from government actions. More than ever, the “invisible hand” of free markets is being replaced by the visible hand of bureaucrats. The political class is the new master of the universe....
That’s because the tax-and-spending drama in Washington, as pathetic and infuriating as it is, threatens real-world consequences for every American. How could it be otherwise when Big Government is getting bigger?
Much, much bigger.
The frantic run-up to the fiscal cliff, including wild swings in the stock market, provided an ominous snapshot of the new reality. Barack Obama’s re-election was the big story of 2012, but the real impact of his statist policies will be felt in the new year and for many years to come....
The most disheartening aspect of this gloomy vision is that Americans voted for it. Obama was upfront about wanting to raise taxes and expand government and the debt. The reach and cost of Washington grew dramatically in the last four years, and he was rewarded with four more.
It is naive to think he will change course. His rejection of any serious reforms of entitlements shows that he is emboldened. Woe to the man who dares declare that the government already is too big and powerful. He will be denounced as cruel and caricatured as wanting no government at all.
This being the season for predictions, mine is that millions upon millions of Americans who voted for Obama will be disappointed in 2013. But most will not blame him. They will agree with him that the solution is to double the dose of Washington power.
Never mind that the patient is dying. The Obama operation is a great success. Just ask him....
The bounties were set to "inspire and encourage our Muslim nation for jihad," the Al Qaeda statement said, according to the AP.
On Sept. 11, 2012, U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed in an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya. Stevens' murder was the first of a U.S. ambassador since 1988.
◼ Cardin didn’t get much talking done in the interview, but by the time Bartiromo was through, the people on the trading floor behind her were cheering her on.
According to a Dec. 27th posting on Sen. Feinstein’s website and a draft of the bill obtained by NRA-ILA, the new ban would, among other things, adopt new definitions of “assault weapon” that would affect a much larger variety of firearms, require current owners of such firearms to register them with the federal government under the National Firearms Act, and require forfeiture of the firearms upon the deaths of their current owners.
Details at the link.
Call Your U.S. Senators and Representative: As noted, Feinstein intends to introduce her bill on January 3rd. President Obama has said that gun control will be a “central issue” of his final term in office, and he has vowed to move quickly on it.
◼ Contact your members of Congress at 202-224-3121 to urge them to oppose Sen. Feinstein’s 2013 gun and magazine ban. Our elected representatives in Congress must hear from you if we are going to defeat this gun ban proposal. You can write your Representatives and Senators by using our Write Your Representatives tool here: ◼ http://www.nraila.org/get-involved-locally/grassroots/write-your-reps.aspx
Millions of Americans own so-called “assault weapons” and tens of millions own “large” magazines, for self-defense, target shooting, and hunting. For more information about the history of the “assault weapon” issue, please visit www.GunBanFacts.com.
Every time I hear that phrase ricochet in the Washington, D.C., echo chamber, I think of my mother.
There she is with the bills piled on one side of her at the Formica kitchen table and a thin pile of currency — singles, fives and tens — in another stack.
When House Speaker John Boehner said that “God only knows” where these “fiscal cliff” talks between him and President Obama were heading, I could see my mother rushing to now defunct St. Stanislaus on 14th St. in Brooklyn to kneel and light a candle before the statue of St. Anthony.
“St. Anthony, finder of all things lost, please find me a way through this terrible mess,” she'd whisper, before racing to work as a cashier at the RKO Prospect to help feed five of her seven kids still at home in a chilly tenement flat....
◼ A Democratic source familiar with the talks tells CNN they have hit a “major setback” because Republicans are now insisting that any fiscal cliff deal include “chained CPI," which Democrats consider a “poison pill.” - Dana Bush/CNN
Chained CPI would change the way Social Security benefits are adjusted for inflation, effectively meaning Social Security recipients would receive less money over the years.
This Democratic source did not want to be identified because of the closed nature of the talks, but was clearly giving the information to CNN to make public the Democrats’ point of view and push the Republicans to give in on this high stakes issue.
The source also told CNN that Democrats are currently “going outside their comfort zone” in these talks with regard to tax rates - keeping tax rates in place for higher income households than the president wants. The source also said Democrats are negotiating with Republicans on extending the current lower estate tax rate, a big issue for many Republicans as well as moderate Democrats.
A Senate Republican leadership source responded by pointing to the president’s comments in an interview that aired Sunday suggesting he is willing to look at chained CPI “in pursuit of strengthening Social Security for the long term.”
◼ With no ‘fiscal cliff’ deal in sight, sequestration seems all but certain - Rosalind S. Helderman/Washington Post
◼ The Fiscal Cliff for Fun and Profit - Stephen Green/VodkaPundit/PJM
Laws are made by men, not gods — but you’d never guess that from the talk coming out of (and about) Washington these days.
Democrats behave as though the Clinton tax rates were carved into stone by lightning on Mount Sinai. Republicans want you to believe the same thing about the tax rates enacted just a few years later under President Bush. And the Fiscal Cliff? “Why, that’s a geological formation — an act of God if there ever was one. It’s not our fault if we’re going over it!”
Right. And I’m the Pope of Siam.
Here’s what neither side wants you to remember: No matter what the rates are, our income tax code is a mess. It’s corrupt. And it will never raise enough revenue to pay for all the government we’ve saddled ourselves with.
Those Clinton tax rates the Democrats are so fond of only ever raised about two-thirds of the revenue the Democrats promised us would be collected. And that was during a perfect storm of tax collection....
◼ Obama: GOP's insistence on halting tax hikes for the wealthy is stopping fiscal cliff deal - Carrie Dann/NBC News
◼ When will Obama decide to make a deal? - Jennifer Rubin/Washington Post
The president never quite sounds like a man who wants a deal. He instead invariably sounds like a pol seeking advantage over opponents, which is peculiar given that he faces no future election but will face a GOP House majority for at least two more years. He wants the other side to lose more than he wants a substantial deal to improve our fiscal situation.
◼ Forward to 5:45 for the Ron Paul interview (ignore everything else) - Tyler Durden/Zerohedge
In a little under three minutes, Ron Paul explains to a somewhat nonplussed CNBC anchor just how ridiculous the charade that is occurring in D.C. actually is. This succinct spin-free clip should be required viewing for each and every asset-manager, talking-head, propagandist, and mom-and-pop who are viewing the last-minute idiocy of the 'fiscal cliff' debacle with some hope that things will be different this time. "We have passed the point of no return where we can actually get our house back in order," Paul begins, adding that "they pretend they are fighting up there, but they really aren't. They are arguing over power, spin, who looks good, who looks bad; all trying to preserve the system where they can spend what they want, take care of their friends and print money when they need it." With social safety nets available to rich and poor, there is no impetus for change and "the country loses," but Paul concludes, the markets are starting to say "there is a limit to this."
◼ 10 Facts on the Fiscal Cliff, Debt, and Spending - Heritage/Morning Bell
1. Four years of trillion-dollar-plus deficits. Fiscal year 2012 concluded with a $1.1 trillion deficit, marking the fourth year of trillion-dollar-plus deficits. Too much spending is the root cause of the federal government’s deep and sustained deficits. At 23 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2012 and on track to rise further, federal spending is growing at a dangerous pace.
2. National debt hit $16 trillion. On September 4, the U.S. national debt hit the $16 trillion mark. We owe more on the national debt than the entire U.S. economy produced in goods and services in all of 2012. Sixteen trillion dollar bills stacked one on top of the other would measure more than 1 million miles high, which would reach to the moon and back more than twice.
3. The debt limit was raised by $1.2 trillion. On January 30, the federal government raised its debt limit from a staggering $15.194 trillion to an even bigger $16.394 trillion. This increase was the last one of three granted in the Budget Control Act of 2011, a result of that summer’s debt ceiling negotiations, which allowed for a total debt limit increase of $2.1 trillion.
4. The $650 billion fiscal cliff distracted from the $48 trillion looming fiscal crisis. Much of 2012 was spent arguing over tax rates in the fiscal cliff debate while lawmakers ignored the much more dangerous looming fiscal crisis. As large and as major a concern as federal budget deficits are today, they stand in the shadow of $48 trillion in long-term unfunded obligations in Social Security and Medicare. Even with President Obama’s originally proposed tax hikes in his budget, the federal debt would still rise by more than $7.7 trillion in the next 10 years.
5. Social Security ran a deficit for the second year in a row. According to the 2012 trustees report, Social Security spent $45 billion more in benefits in 2011 than it took in from its payroll tax. This deficit is in addition to a $49 billion gap in 2010 and an expected average annual gap of about $66 billion between 2012 and 2018. Social Security’s deficits will balloon yet further. After adjusting for inflation, annual deficits will reach $95 billion in 2020 and $318.7 billion in 2030 before the trust fund runs out in 2033 and a 25 percent across-the-board benefit cut occurs.
6. Three years of spend-as-you-go policies without a federal budget. The last time both chambers of Congress agreed on a budget was on April 29, 2009. Since then, Congress has operated on a spend-as-you-go basis, characterized by incoherent, ad hoc budget procedures. The House passed budget resolutions each of the past two years, but the Senate failed to do its part.
7. The government spent nearly $30,000 per American household. The average American household’s share of federal spending in 2012 was $29,691, or roughly two-thirds of median household income. The government collected $20,293 per household in taxes in 2012, resulting in a budget deficit of $9,398 per household in 2012.
8. Obamacare will spend $1.7 trillion over 10 years. After the Supreme Court decision on Obamacare, the Congressional Budget Office did an update of its scoring of the law. The result: Obamacare will spend $1.7 trillion over 10 years on its coverage expansion provisions alone, including a massive expansion of Medicaid and federal subsidies for the new health insurance exchanges. This means that Obamacare will increase federal health spending by 15 percent.
9. Social Security was the biggest federal spending program. In 1993, Social Security surpassed national defense as the largest federal spending category, and it remains first today. The top five biggest spending programs, in order, are 1) Social Security; 2) national defense; 3) Medicare; 4) Medicaid, CHIP, and other government health care; and 5) interest on the debt.
10. More than 40 percent of Americans are on some government program. According to Census Bureau data and Heritage Foundation calculations, 128.8 million people in America depend on a government program for basic (or not so basic) needs, such as rent, prescription drugs, and higher education.
This is from the California Employment Development Department on December 26, 2012:
“Current Benefits StatusFunny numbers
“Currently, there are more than 920,000 people certifying for benefits in California. The majority of these customers are collecting on a federal extension claim while the remainder are somewhere in the midst of a regular unemployment claim.
“Between regular and federal extension benefits, the EDD has paid a total of $17.1 billion in benefits for calendar year 2011 and $9.3 billion so far this year (as of August 16, 2012), and is currently paying about $284 million a week. These benefits provide critical sustenance to unemployed workers and their families, in addition to local businesses where much of the benefits are spent on basic needs.
“Customers Who Have Run Out of Maximum Benefits
“As of December 24, 2012, there have been close to 928,600 unemployed workers in California who have run out of all available benefits.”
In other words, if you counted all the California unemployed, that number is 1.846 million. The rate is not 9.8 percent. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U-6 number, a broader measure of unemployment, is 19.6 percent — more than double what Obama and Brown want you to believe....
...On every major news story of the year – abortion, gay marriage, the economy, the fiscal cliff and guns – major media outlets consistently and openly sided with the left. Gone was any pretense of neutrality. From the media’s campaign against Mitt Romney to their campaign for gun control, the bias of the press was never worse.
Picking out bad media moments is like looking for egos in Washington or corruption in Congress. Here are the year’s lowlights:
10. The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife...
9. $1.2 Billion Reasons to Complain About ABC: Jim Avila’s crusade against a meat company led to at least 2,000 lost jobs and more than half a billion dollars in economic damage....
8. It’s All Racism: From MSNBC’s Touré to ESPN’s Rob Parker everything in post-racial America is still racial. Maybe they should focus more on the human race.
7. Occupying The Media: The Occupy Wall Street revolutionaries might not be in the news as much as they once were, but they still occupy the hearts of many journalists. That includes the riots, arson, violence, a bomb plot, intimidation of police and arrests (7,719 at last count). Journalists said it was America’s “Arab Spring” and despite constant coverage, paid little attention to the movement’s thuggery.
6. Guns Are Evil, Except When Team Obama Ships Them to Mexico... when the “fast and furious” scandal killed up to 300 Mexicans with Obama admin-approved guns, few in the media cared.
5. The War on Women: The media’s war on women has become a self-defining fantasy where any support for traditional marriage, the life of babies or more is anti-womyn...
4. The Deadly Islam Video: The murder of our ambassador to Libya and three others was a great example of how the media cover for the president. CNN’s Candy Crowley actually intervened in the presidential debate to side with Obama and derail discussion of Libya. Journalists followed the president’s lead and blamed a video for murderous protests and even the initial attack,instead of defending free speech.
3. Media Support for Gay Marriage: Newsies looked like an aging cast of “Glee,” with almost every major news organization showing its support for gay marriage....
2. We’re Not Dems, We Just Play Them On TV, and Everywhere Else: Democrats, er, journalists who love Sen. John Kerry, despite his wealth, attacked Mitt Romney for far less wealth on everything even his wife’s rehab horses, as well as his faith. Most media election coverage was more electioneering for Obama than journalism. We finally have a three-party system: Republicans, Democrats and The Media.
1. Let’s Pretend You’re Racist...
Sadly, 2013 will likely be worse. (Read the whole thing, at the link)
Saturday, December 29, 2012
◼ It’s hard to find good news for the state’s taxpayers or business owners, although the state’s public-sector unions ought to be stocking up on champagne. - Steven Greenhut/OC Register
California's Democratic leaders are giddy about the future now that they have gained everything they wanted in the recent election – voter-approved tax increases and two-thirds supermajorities in both houses of the Legislature, thus rendering Republicans little more than an annoying irrelevancy who can no longer block tax hikes.
Will Democrats just ramp up the taxing-and-spending spree or will some semblance of a "moderate" Democratic caucus emerge to offer a limited check on those tendencies? Either way, it's hard to find good news for taxpayers or business owners, although the state's public-sector unions ought to be stocking up on champagne.
Given that backdrop, I offer some subdued predictions for the new year.
No. 1: Gov. Jerry Brown and the legislative leadership will continue to argue that the state government is on a bare-bones diet and, therefore, continue to look for additional revenue to fund it, regardless of mounting evidence of waste and excess.
No. 2: The state's optimistic budget projections will not come to pass...
No. 3: Democratic leaders will begin increasing every tax imaginable to fill the budget gap, in what will amount to death by a thousand cuts....
No. 4: Legislators will make good on their promise to "reform" the referendum and initiative process, thus assuring that there will be less opportunity for voters – who still tend to be more conservative in their votes on ballot measures than for candidates – to keep a Democratic majority in check.
No. 5: Waves of California millionaires and business owners will throw in the towel given that there's no longer anybody to protect them....
No. 6: We'll see a return of every bad policy idea, including some resurrected version of redevelopment agencies – those property-rights-abusing, central-planning agencies that Brown eliminated last year as he sought new funds. Now that there's no problem with raising taxes, Brown and legislative leaders will bring them back. California will become an even bigger laboratory for crazy proposals.... More at the link.
◼ Oct 25, 2011 CA Debt: $612 billion – CA Media Totally Silent
◼ Sep 3, 2012 Ouch! Total State Debt Tops $4 Trillion Dollars, California Ranked ... - HotAir Greenroom
California again trumped other states with a $617 billion debt. California’s debt is more than twice the size of New York‘s state debt, and New York has the second largest total debt burden in the nation. Texas, Illinois, and New Jersey rounded out the top five states with the most debt. Although New York and Texas moved up one and two spots, respectively, the states with the five largest debts remained unchanged from last year’s report....◼ Sep 21, 2012 'Wall Of Debt' Threatens California: Independent Study - IB Times
Four years ago, Shell Wind Energy, a unit of the oil company, looked for a suitable site for a wind farm on the Northern California coast. Its scouts found a large acreage — cattle pastures — high on the hills about six miles from the town of Ferndale. They secured permission from the rancher-owners to use the land and announced the project. All hell broke loose.
The local weekly in the tight-knit town was flooded with concerned letters to the editor: One of two narrow roads into the hill area carried all the daily traffic of a large hinterland; the other was largely dirt. They would be clogged for months with construction trucks. Wind turbine blades will kill thousands of birds. The constant noise of the turning blades will keep local ranch families awake. The wind farm will spoil the view and forever alter the bucolic nature of the land.
Protest meetings followed. Shell representatives tried to allay fears. They even talked about carrying the huge blades to the site by helicopter to avoid using the roads. Nothing worked. The town passed a resolution opposing the project. Shell finally threw in the towel, saying the project would be uneconomical.
Increasingly, this seems to be the fate of Big Wind, one of the two mainstays of President Obama’s “alternative energy” plan. The other is solar energy where the Obama Administration’s record is one mostly of failures. For the federal government to subsidize research and development of promising technologies is one thing, but acting as a venture capitalist is quite another. It thought it picked winners, but got losers by throwing dollars at several failing solar panel manufacturers.
The wind farm business is now feeling the cumulative effects of opposition by neighbors and potential neighbors, bird lovers and people who oppose inefficient, uneconomical government projects.
Take the NIMBY aspect. From the left, the newsletter and website CounterPunch reports on several protests. In July a group blocked a road as part of an effort to stop construction of a 21-turbine farm on a mountain top. In October, residents near Utica, New York, sued the owners of a wind project, asserting the turbines gave them headaches, interrupted sleep, and endangered property values. In 2011, an Environmental Review Panel in Ontario, Canada, after studying a new wind facility, concluded that such things can cause harm to humans “if placed too close to residents.”
As for killing birds, there is plenty for Audubon and PETA people to complain about. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service estimates that an estimated 440,000 birds are killed by turbine blades annually. The Alameda County, California, Community Development Agency estimates that 2,400 raptors and 7,500 other birds are killed annually in the Altamont Pass turbine farm east of Oakland, through which I-80 passes.
The most ardent environmentalists are implacable in their opposition to fossil fuels and so, apparently, is Barack Obama. The world’s demand for electricity, however, continues to grow and solar panels and wind turbines cannot possibly meet that demand.
The underlying argument for using wind power is that it reduces carbon dioxide.
If one believes the global warming (“climate change”) theory, it follows that one believes humans are causing it by their use of hydrocarbons. Thus, wind farms reduce emissions.
Can they produce enough energy to reduce the use of natural gas, oil, nuclear?
In a word, no. The International Energy Agency estimates that the world’s demand for electricity will grow every year over the next two decades by the equivalent of Brazil’s annual usage. (Brazil uses about 475 tetrawatt hours a year.) The world’s total wind turbine energy output in 2011 was 437 tetrawatts, of which the U.S. share was a little under 20 percent. So, just to keep up with demand (without displacing any of the traditional energy sources) the world’s wind energy industry would have to develop five times the 2011 U.S. capacity every year for years to come. That’s a definition of Mission Impossible.
Obamacare contains twenty new or higher taxes. Five of the taxes hit for the first time on January 1. In total, Americans face a net $1 trillion tax hike for the years 2013-2022, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
"Gunmen suspected to belong to a radical Islamist sect attacked a village in northeast Nigeria, tying up men, women and children before slitting their throats, killing at least 15"
◼ At Least 15 Killed in Sect Attack in North Nigeria - ABC News
The assault happened early Friday morning in the village of Musari on the outskirts of Maiduguri, the city where the sect known as Boko Haram first launched its guerrilla campaign of shootings and car bombings against Nigeria's weak central government. The gunmen shouted religious slogans and later ordered those there to be gathered up into a group, said Mshelia Inusa, a primary school teacher in the village.
"We heard some people chanting, 'God is great, God is great' amid sounds of banging on doors of houses at about 1 a.m.," the teacher said. "A voice was heard ordering people to be slaughtered and also voices of children were heard screaming."
Inusa said he and others later saw corpses with their hands tied behind their backs and their throats cut....
More than 780 people have been killed in Boko Haram attacks so far this year, according to an Associated Press count, making 2012 the worst year of violence attributed to the group. Boko Haram also has loose connections with al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and Somalia's al-Shabab, according to Western military officials and diplomats.
◼ Embattled French President Francois Hollande suffered a fresh setback Saturday when France's highest court threw out a plan to tax the ultrawealthy at a 75 percent rate, saying it was unfair. - AP
In a stinging rebuke to one of Socialist Hollande's flagship campaign promises, the constitutional council ruled Saturday that the way the highly contentious tax was designed was unconstitutional. It was intended to hit incomes over €1 million ($1.32 million).
The largely symbolic measure would have only hit a tiny number of taxpayers and brought in an estimated €100 million to €300 million - an insignificant amount in the context of France's roughtly €85 billion deficit.
◼ French star Gérard Depardieu moves to Belgium to escape French taxes... - FOX/NY
The Socialist government under French President Francois Hollande has infuriated many ultra-rich in France by presenting a 2013 budget that would tax top earners at 75 percent over the first €1 million of annual income. Belgium's top rate is 50 percent.
◼ Actor Depardieu puts Paris house up for sale - Reuters
An angry member of parliament has proposed that France adopt a U.S.-inspired law that would force Depardieu or anyone trying to escape full tax dues to forego their nationality.
◼ Gérard Depardieu has declared that he will return his French passport and leave his homeland, in an exasperated letter where he fired back at the French government's criticism of his decision to move to Belgium. - Devorah Lauter, Paris/Telegraph
"I am handing over to you my passport and social security, which I have never used," he said. "We no longer have the same homeland, I am a true European, a citizen of the world, as my father always taught me to believe."
He concludes: "Despite my excesses, my appetite and love for life, I am a free being, Sir, and will remain polite."
...Depardieu said his reasons for renouncing his citizenship are due in part to fundamental disagreements with the current Socialist-led government, which has introduced several new tax hikes, including a 75 per cent tax on millionaire earners.
◼ France warms to Gérard Depardieu, the heroic exile - Anne-Elisabeth Moutet/Telegraph
The symbolism has not been lost on the French. When France’s richest man, Bernard Arnault, the CEO and main shareholder of the luxury behemoth LVMH, applied for Belgian citizenship last August, it was easy for Socialists to paint him as an unpatriotic, despicable fat cat. “Get lost, you rich b------” blasted a headline on the front page of Libération, the Left-wing daily, effectively capturing the national mood.
But Depardieu is a vastly different proposition from a wealthy tycoon and former asset-stripper whose children’s weddings warrant 10-page spreads in society magazines. When Jean-Marc Ayrault, France’s prime minister, contemptuously called him “a pathetic loser”, Depardieu shot back with an open letter published on Sunday. “I was born in 1948,” he wrote, “I started working aged 14, as a printer, as a warehouseman, then as an actor, and I’ve always paid my taxes.” Over 45 years, Depardieu said, he had paid 145 million euros in tax, and to this day employs 80 people. Last year he paid taxes amounting to 85 per cent of his income. “I am neither worthy of pity nor admirable, but I shall not be called 'pathetic’,” he concluded, saying that he was sending back his French passport.
◼ Raising taxes won’t avoid ‘fiscal cliff’ - Rep. Darrell E. Issa/Washington Times
So much time and energy is being spent advancing the myth that raising taxes is the best way to avoid falling off the so-called “fiscal cliff.”
If you raised taxes on the top income bracket, you would generate around $1 trillion over 10 years. The past four years under President Obama have resulted in trillion-dollar deficits each year. At this rate, in 10 years we’re looking at $10 trillion in new debt. At best, the “tax-the-rich” proposal is just a 10 percent solution.
Let’s take this tax-more, spend-more approach to the extreme. If you return everyone to the Clinton-era tax rates, you’re still left with a 10-year, $2.3 trillion deficit, and that’s assuming everything stays as it is right now, and Washington breaks its trend of spending more every year. (Even if we go over the fiscal cliff and return to Clinton-era tax rates, we’re still left with at least a $2.3 trillion deficit over the next 10 years.) The bottom line is this: Under no proposed scenario does raising taxes eliminate the deficit and return us to a balanced budget. The problem is government spending.
This fixation with tax increases is doing a huge disservice to the American people because it ignores the real crisis: government spending. By now, you know all too well that government spends more than it takes in. The federal government is spending more per household than ever before. Since 1965, spending per household has grown by 152 percent....
I can guarantee you this: It won’t stop here, it won’t stop with just the “1 percent” or the “2 percent.” There will never be enough to satisfy this insatiable appetite to spend more.
That’s what’s really at stake right now.
The other side tries to boil this down into a seven-second sound bite about taxing the rich and people paying their fair share. In 2009, the top 10 percent of earners in the United States already paid more than 70 percent of federal income taxes.
This isn’t about fairness and unfairness. It’s about taxing and spending, and the federal government has spent enough.
◼ When the city of Eureka hired David Tyson in 2000, he had one clear goal in mind: Bring stability to the office of city manager. - Kaci Poor/The Times-Standard
Set to retire Monday, Tyson said there are many things he has accomplished in his time with the city that he is proud of, but keeping his seat as city manager for the past 12 years is by far his most satisfying accomplishment.
At the time he was hired, Eureka was a revolving door of city managers. In the 20 years prior, Eureka had seen seven different city managers come and go, several of whom were terminated by the City Council.
”It was turbulent time for the city,” Tyson said. “When a city manager is let go, it leaves the council on edge, and it leaves city staff on edge. There is just an angst that comes with not knowing exactly why someone is leaving.”
So when he was offered the job, Tyson said he was at first reluctant to accept....
◼ How the fiscal cliff fight will end (unhappily for Republicans) - Byron York/Washington Examiner
So a deal will most likely be done. But the bottom line is that the fiscal cliff fight will not end happily for Republicans. They will have given in on what was an article of faith — that taxes should not be raised on anybody, poor or rich — in return for essentially nothing. All they will have is a plan to fight again, soon.
If the tax cuts first enacted under former President George W. Bush are allowed to expire due to fiscal cliff inaction, the income tax rate will jump from 35 percent to 39.6 percent for top earners (including many small-business owners) while those in the lowest income bracket face a tax increase of 50 percent. The marriage penalty will be reinstated, the child tax credit will be cut in half, the death tax rate will be as high as 55 percent, the capital gains tax rate will rise from 15 percent to 23.8 percent, and the top dividends tax rate will rise from 15 percent to 43.4 percent. In addition, several Obamacare-related taxes take effect next year, further impacting citizens.
Falling over the fiscal cliff also could result in nearly 30 million additional filers being hit by the alternative minimum tax, including some earning as little as $33,750, according to the IRS. The impact of those fiscal cliff tax increases would likely be felt by nearly all Americans in some fashion....
Yet even with everyone from the very rich to the relatively poor taking a (sometimes substantial) tax hit, the fiscal cliff's tax-and-spending changes would still leave the United States with a sizable deficit. The cliff involves about $671 billion in tax increases and spending cuts; the country is on pace for a fifth consecutive annual deficit of more than $1 trillion. That leaves a deficit of more than $300 billion.
This is the harsh reality of Obamanomics. Under this president, you could increase taxes on the rich, the poor, married couples, those with children, small business, big business and everyone in between, and slash defense spending — and you still can't pay for all his spending. You don't even come close.
Last week in the wake of a damning report on how some State Department officials handled the security situation at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi prior to and after Sept. 11, it was announced that four officials had resigned. Well, at least that’s what most of us thought they had announced.
This is the way State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland put it: that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “has accepted Eric Boswell’s decision to resign as assistant secretary for diplomatic security, effective immediately. The other three individuals (deemed responsible by the Accountability Review Board) have been relieved of their current duties.”
It seemed fitting punishment after the Review Board found “systemic failures” in security that led to the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
But, it turns out that Boswell was merely switching desks at State, giving up his high-profile presidential appointment as assistant secretary, but not what were described by the New York Post as his “other portfolios.”
The other three — including the utterly reprehensible Charlene Lamb, a deputy assistant secretary who insisted on outsourcing security to “local Libyans and army men” — are merely on administrative leave and are actually expected to return following what amounts to a winter break.
That’s a far cry from the heads-will-roll statement initially put out by the State Department presumably to give the rest of us the impression that actions have consequences and that there is a price to be paid for incompetence — especially a level of incompetence that resulted in the deaths of four brave Americans. Headed into term two, this administration continues its lying ways.
Tribune Columnist Challenges Obama To Come To Chicago For Funeral Of A ‘Ghettoized’ Minority Murder Victim
◼ link - Noah Rothman/Mediaite
John Kass, columnist for The Chicago Tribune, appeared on CNN on Friday where he discussed the tragic increase of violence and murder that has struck his city in recent years. He said that lawmakers and members of the press have been guilty of “papering over” how bad the situation in Chicago was getting, and of “ghettoizing” the minority children who become the victims of gun violence in the inner city. Kass concluded by challenging President Barack Obama to come to Chicago for the funeral of one of the “hundreds and hundreds” of African-American and Latino children killed every year in gun crimes....
“There had been people who were papering over and smooching up and making things look nice when they weren’t nice,” Kass added. “The city is broke.”
“We make the Sandy Hook – which was a tragedy – a big deal. Why don’t the politicians come to the funerals of the dead African-American and Latino kids who get killed by the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds,” asked Kass. “The media has ghettoized these children, these homicide victims.”
“I’m not diminishing the others, I’m just saying, President Obama, show up at a funeral here in Chicago once in a while too,” Kass concluded.
◼ Chicago reached “a tragic number” today, according to Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy: Its homicide total for the year hit 500, the highest annual total since 2008. - Jeremy Gorner and Peter Nickeas/Chicago Tribune
◼ Critics question aim of $25-per-gun tax in Chicago - Mike Tobin/FOX
While the President and the Senate leadership engage in a good cop-bad cop charade, the likely reality is that they have calculated that the "fiscal cliff" is bound to take place (and perhaps even suits their interests), and their sole focus is to convince the public that Republicans are to blame.
Given that President Obama's call to McConnell was the first he had received in over a month from any Democrat on the issue, it is probably that going over the "fiscal cliff" was the President's intent from the start.
Friday, December 28, 2012
◼ Given the alternatives that are being bandied about in Washington, there can be no doubt that, from a policy perspective, going over the fiscal cliff is the far superior option. - Avik Roy/National Review
Temporary extensions of tax cuts don’t do much for the economy; temporary extension of unemployment benefits retards job-seeking; and the whole grab-bag of accounting gimmicks allows Congress to avoid owning up to the true scale of the budget deficit, a budget deficit that will get cut in half if we go over the cliff.
The most common conservative rejoinder to these arguments is political: that Republicans will be blamed if we go over the cliff, and that will cost them in the next election. I don’t agree with that argument, as I’ve written previously, for two reasons: (1) the next election is as far away as an election can be; (2) Republicans will never be able to build a political case for less spending if most Americans are insulated from the cost of that spending.
I was glad to see Marc Thiessen make a very similar argument today in the Washington Post. Going over the fiscal cliff, Marc writes, is “a development conservatives should welcome.” ... More at the link.
◼ Americans are living in an Orwellian state argue Academy Award-winning director Oliver Stone and historian Peter Kuznick, as they sit down with RT to discuss US foreign policy and the Obama administration’s disregard for the rule of law. - RT
Oliver Stone: I think under the disguise of sheep’s clothing he has been a wolf. That because of the nightmare of the Bush presidency that preceded him, people forgave him a lot. He was a great hope for change. The color of his skin, the upbringing, the internationalism, the globalism, seemed all evident. And he is an intelligent man. He has taken all the Bush changes he basically put them into the establishment, he has codified them. That is what is sad. So we are going into the second administration that is living outside the law and does not respect the law and foundations of our system and he is a constitutional lawyer, you know. Without the law, it is the law of the jungle. Nuremburg existed for a reason and there was a reason to have trials, there is a reason for due process – ‘habeas corpus’ as they call it in the United States.
RT: Do you agree Peter?
Peter Kuznick: I agree, if you look at his domestic policy, he did not break with the Bush administration’s policies. If you look at his transparency – he claimed to be the transparency president when he was running for office. There has not been transparency. We have been actually classifying more documents under Obama than we did under Bush. All previous presidents between 1970 and 2008 indicted three people total under Espionage Act. Obama has already indicted six people under the Espionage Act. The surveillance has not stopped, the incarceration without bringing people to trial has not stopped. So those policies have continued.
Then there are war policies, militarization policies. We are maintaining that. We are fighting wars now in Yemen, Afghanistan, we are keeping troops in Afghanistan. We have not cut back the things that we all found so odious about the Bush administration and Obama added some of his own. The drones policy – Obama had more drone attack in the first eight months than Bush had his entire presidency. And these have very dubious international legality.
Video: Jesse Jackson Spews Nonsense When Challenged To Defend Chicago Gun Ban After 500th Homicide This Year
◼ This hypocrisy speaks for itself. And I’m impressed someone n the media, especially at CNN, is finally asking these questions. - Tammy Bruce
“It’s that much higher?” asked IT worker Vikas Kataria, 34, who discovered that his combined household income of about $250,000 per year will cost him nearly $10,000 more in taxes.
“I thought it was a couple thousand — but that’s a lot,” said Kataria, who works at Merrill Lynch in Manhattan and is married to a systems analyst for a brokerage firm. “That’s huge!”
With higher taxes, the couple would have to cut out on traveling and family vacations.
Clothing designer Peter Opie, of Canary Wharf Clothier, made about $2 million this year — and would see his tax bill spike by a staggering $100,000.
“The system is nuts here — it’s madness personified!” he said
“We were impacted massively by the hurricane — and now there is this,” said Opie. “You work your butt off and you end up with next to nothing.”
Small-business owner Haim Hagon, 51, said it’ll be tough to afford college for his two high-school-aged children.
“Every dollar counts when the situation is tough,” said Hagon, who makes about $150,000 and already moved his son from a private school to a public school due to financial concerns.
“Another $6,000 could have gone to my daughter’s tuition. I’ll have to find that money another way.”
◼ Can We Admit Now That The Bush Tax Cuts Weren’t Ever Just For The Rich? - hrwf
"Not much of an increase, but an increase all the same," Bier notes.
And the timing isn't great either: Just as President Obama and Congress try to avert going over the "fiscal cliff," he doles out pay increases to federal workers.
◼ Fiscal cliff negotiations update: Biden, Congress to receive pay increases — no other news to report - Doug Powers/Michelle Malkin
Here’s a good question:
Shouldn’t the senate pass a budget before getting a pay raise? weeklystandard.com/blogs/obama-or…— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) December 28, 2012
The teacher, Lynette Gaymon, allegedly told Samantha Pawlucy to “get out of this class” and pointed to the door when she entered math class at Charles Carroll High School in September, FOX 29 reported. Gaymon then tried to mark the shirt with a red marker.
Gaymon also said the pink “Romney-Ryan” shirt the high schooler wore to school was akin to the garb Ku Klux Klan members wear, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.
When the incident occurred, Pawlucy’s parents called for the teacher to be fired immediately.
“This is Philadelphia, the birthplace of freedom and things like that, but we have schools that want to take away her freedom,” the girl’s father said....
"Follow up." It's a term that has gone out of style in the age of Obama. You members of the press have become remarkably uncurious since he's been in the White House. A blanket of benevolent uncuriousness smothers news about Obama administration wrongdoing.
The Secretary of State, who took "full responsibility" for the Benghazi debacle, has not once been publicly questioned about it. Called to testify before a House committee this week, she pleaded illness -- a fall resulting in a concussion. She says she will testify in January. Perhaps members of Congress will ask what the press has not. Who made the decision to deny the requested additional security to our diplomats? Where is a copy of the order President Obama says he issued requiring that "everything possible" be done to save our personnel who were under attack? (Former Assistant Secretary of Defense Bing West notes that such orders are always written down.) Were Navy seals stationed in Benghazi told to "stand down" rather than render assistance? Who told Susan Rice to say that the attack grew out of a protest, when there was no protest?
Speaking of that non-existent protest, isn't anyone even a little uncomfortable at the spectacle of the United States government arresting a guy for making a video (however "crude and offensive")? On orders of this administration, an FBI team descended upon and locked up Nakoula Basseley Nakoula. He may be a petty criminal and an idiot, but that's not the point. Aren't members of press sensitive about infringements of the First Amendment? Besides, what sort of message does it send to extremists around the globe when the U.S. cracks down on expressions of "blasphemy" toward Mohammed? Won't they congratulate themselves on intimidating us?
You may want to ask. Just saying....
During the campaign (we learned after the election), the Obama administration undertook to devise guidelines for the use of unmanned aerial vehicles or drones. "There was a concern that the levers might no longer be in our hands," an official told The New York Times. In other words, a Republican president would need guidelines for the use of Hellfire missiles, but with President Obama in the White House, safeguards are unnecessary. His unerring judgment is all that's required. The president has presided over the deaths of an estimated 2,500 individuals -- including some American citizens -- through the drone program of targeted assassinations. Isn't the press interested in what sort of guidelines the administration recommends imposing on its successor? On itself? Oh, wait, with the election safely past, the guidelines are on hold....
◼ CAR President appeals to France/USA to help stop rebel advance. UN staff appears to be bugging out too. - France24
President François Bozizé of the Central African Republic has appealed for French and US help to stop rebel forces that threaten to overrun the country's capital. The US has evacuated its embassy and the United Nations is also pulling out its staff.◼ US suspends embassy ops in Central African Republic - ptinews via Ace
◼ Rebels Are Advancing Toward Capital of Central African Republic - NYT
Finally, House Republicans are stating that Senator Reid must take up the bills that the House passed which includes legislation regarding the financial crisis. Senator McConnell is waiting to see the Democrat plan (when they finally offer one) before agreeing to not filibuster.
These are difficult time for Republicans since the media is our enemy and Republicans do not have the same media outlets as the Democrats have. It is time for Republican Women to let the leadership in the House and the Senate know that we support their stand. It is time for Harry Reid and the Democrat led Senate to start doing the job they are getting paid to do. It is their turn to come up with a reasonable plan.
Let the Leaders know your thoughts and feelings. If you are represented by a Democrat Representative or Senator, let them know what you think.
House of Representatives
John Boehner Ohio Phone: (202) 225-4146 Fax: (202) 225-0704
Eric Cantor Virginia Phone: (202) 225-2815 Fax: (202) 225-0011
Kevin McCarthy California Phone: (202) 225-2915 Fax: (202) 225-2908
Cathy McMorris Rodgers Washington Phone: (202) 225-2006 Fax: (202) 225-3392
Mitch McConnell Kentucky Phone: (202) 224-2541 Fax: (202) 224-2499
John Barrasso Wyoming Phone: (202) 224-6441 Fax: (202) 224-1724
Jeff Sessions Alabama Phone: (202) 224-4124 Fax: (202) 224-3149
Talk to your friends and relatives. We must get the word out about what is going on in Washington.
Thank you for all your work.
Legislative Issues Chair
Northern Division - CFRW
Thursday, December 27, 2012
The Obama administration had mysteriously neglected to submit their agenda since the fall of 2011 — until they finally did, the afternoon before Christmas break. But don’t you dare accuse them of trying to avoid their oversight obligations in an election year and bury their regulatory intentions in a holiday-Friday news dump!
"Obama wants the nation to go over the fiscal cliff because it will raise everyone’s taxes — then he can be seen as saving the middle class by lowering their taxes in the new year..."
◼ Longtime Sen. Chuck Grassley tells Newsmax that Republicans have a “great deal of leverage” on President Obama because they can refuse to raise the debt ceiling unless he agrees to spending cuts. - Jim Meyers and Kathleen Walter/Newsmax
Grassley was first elected to the Senate in 1980. He is member of the Budget and Finance committees and the former chairman of the Finance Committee.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV, Grassley addresses claims by some Republicans that President Obama wants the nation to go over the fiscal cliff and let the Bush-era tax cuts expire.
“He hasn’t shown any leadership because he doesn’t know how to compromise. He does want us to go over the cliff because he’s holding all the cards. He’s got nothing to lose. You go over the cliff, everybody’s taxes are going to go up, particularly the two percent where he wanted the rates to go up.
“Then he’ll come back after the first of the year, suggest for people under $250,000 to actually decrease their taxes, so he not only [gets] a tax increase on the wealthy, but he’s going to end up being a person that saves the middle class because going over the cliff raises taxes on everybody.
“He’s in a position where he gets everything and he can still lower taxes for the middle class after the first of the year. Maybe they’ve only been going up for a couple of weeks or maybe a month, but eventually, we’re going to not raise taxes on the middle class.
“The sad commentary is if we had proper presidential leadership, we wouldn’t have to be even talking about this. This president has not wanted to sit down and work hard in negotiating like previous Democratic presidents, like President Clinton who was willing to sit down with Speaker [Newt] Gingrich and work compromises.”
Considering that the president refuses to back down on raising taxes on America’s highest-income earners, Grassley was asked, what other options do Republicans have?
“If we do go over the cliff then the focus next year’s going to be on raising the debt ceiling and we’ve got a great deal of leverage on the president on raising the debt ceiling because we don’t have to raise it unless we’re going to get some reduction in expenditures.
“The proposition that was established in August of 2011 is a pretty good proposition that Republicans are willing to follow now — for every dollar increase in the debt ceiling, we’re going to have to have a dollar decrease in expenditures....”
“Grover Norquist and his organization do a tremendous job because he’s constantly reminding the people in Congress, and also the grassroots of America, that we don’t have a taxing problem, we’ve got a spending problem. You can raise all of the taxes the Democrats want to raise but you’re not going to get us out of this deficit situation. If you’re going to get out of the deficit situation, you’ve got to tackle the spending side of the ledger.”
The White House last week proposed a broader package that would have let tax rates stay low for those making up to $400,000, a compromise from the president's previous rate hike threshold of $250,000.
House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner was unimpressed with the offer and sought unsuccessfully to push his own proposal through Congress, but members of his own Republican Party balked at rate hikes of any kind. Talks broke down after that and the president and lawmakers left town for the holiday.
◼ Obama making proposal to Senate GOP on 'fiscal cliff'
◼ House to Return Sunday... - Politico
◼ REID: Boehner runs 'dictatorship'... - CBS Washington
◼ Deal 'virtually impossible' before New Year... - Politico
◼ Geithner Moves Up Debt Limit to Dec. 31... - CNS
◼ States May Want 'Cliff'... - Reuters
Falling off the "fiscal cliff" is a bad thing, right? Not necessarily for some state governments that could begin collecting more in estate taxes on wealth left to heirs if the United States goes over the "cliff," allowing sharp tax increases and federal spending cuts to take effect in January.
In an example of federal and state tax law interaction that gets little notice on Capitol Hill, 30 states next year could collect $3 billion more in estate taxes if Congress and President Barack Obama do not act soon, estimated the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, a Washington think tank.
The reason? The federal estate tax would return with a vengeance and so would a federal credit system that shares a portion of it with the 30 states. They had been getting their cut of this tax revenue stream until the early 2000s. That was when the credit system for payment of state estate tax went away due to tax cuts enacted under former President George W. Bush.
With the return of the credit system next year as part of the "cliff," states such as Florida, Colorado and Texas -- which have not collected estate tax since 2004 -- could resume doing so. California Gov. Jerry Brown has already begun to add the anticipated estate tax revenue into his plans, including $45 million of it in his 2012-2013 revised budget.
Brown may or may not be jumping the gun.
◼ STOCKS TUMBLE... - CNBC
Lawmakers and the EPA inspector general wonder if Jackson used a private email account created under an alias to develop those policies in a way that would be invisible to watchdogs and congressional oversight.
“Our objective is to determine whether EPA follows applicable laws and regulations when using private and alias email accounts to conduct official business,” assistant inspector general Melissa Heist wrote to the EPA on December 13, 2012, in announcing that an investigation was under way.
House Energy and Commerce Committee investigators asked a similar question. “We seek to understand whether conducting business with an alias has in any way affected the transparency of the agency’s activities or the quality or completeness of information provided to the Committee,” they wrote on December 13.
Jackson used a private email under the alias “Richard Windsor” to correspond with EPA colleagues, a decision her staff defended by saying that her official email account received too many messages for her to use it efficiently.
“While we understand the need for a secondary account for management and communications purposes, your choice to use a false identity remains baffling,” several lawmakers from the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology replied. “We remain concerned about whether EPA has adequately preserved these records and provided appropriate responses to requests for these records. We also question whether responses to records requests sufficiently connect the alias accounts to the real individual.”
◼ Lisa Jackson’s Destructive Crusade - Henry Payne/National Review
If it seemed like retiring EPA Chief Lisa Jackson carried out her job with a religious zeal, you’d be right.
Barack Obama’s pick as his first EPA administrator told a 2010 National Council of Churches conference in New Orleans that government and religious leaders must unite in their “moral obligation” to heal the planet and “build on the religious and moral reasons for being good stewards of our environment.”
“The question now is, ‘What we can do?’” the green-church devotee concluded, adding that her efforts were blessed by the White House’s Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnership.
Her legion of Washington media disciples — who would have condemned such moral bravado by the Religious Right — ignored her rhetoric. But in punishing those she deems carbon sinners, Lisa Jackson has done enormous harm to American workers....
Blogger Creates Interactive Map of Employees of Paper Which Published Names and Addresses of Pistol Permit Holders
The Journal News has published its own (conveniently unbylined) list, complete with interactive maps. The maps contain "the addresses (and names) of all pistol permit holders in Westchester and Rockland counties." Really:
Each dot represents an individual permit holder licensed to own a handgun — a pistol or revolver. The data does not include owners of long guns — rifles or shotguns — which can be purchased without a permit. Being included in this map does not mean the individual at a specific location owns a weapon, just that they are licensed to do so.
Data for all permit categories, unrestricted carry, premises, business, employment, target and hunting, is included, but permit information is not available on an individual basis.
To create the map, The Journal News submitted Freedom of Information requests for the names and addresses of all pistol permit holders in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam. By state law, the information is public record.
The paper does not identify how publishing all of these names and addresses furthers its alleged "long and distinguished history of service to the residents and businesses in New York’s Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties." Because it doesn't.
What it does is two things:
Gives criminals an easy roadmap for identifying homes from which they might steal guns.
Arguably more dangerously, it identifies who doesn't have "pistols" as targets who will likely be less able to resist robbery, assault, or worse, both at home and especially in public.
Which of the two is the bigger danger is an open question. I believe it's the latter. If I'm right, the publishing of these maps should disturb the unarmed far more than those who are armed.
◼ In response to Gannett's Jounal News headquartered in White Plains, New York publishing an interactive map containing the names and addresses of all pistol permit holders in Westchester and Rockland Counties (previous related posts are here and here), blogger Robert Cox at NewRochelleTalk.com (HT Instapundit) has produced an interactive map at a post entitled "Where are the Journal News employees in your neighborhood?" - Tom Blumer/Newsbusters
Sorry, Journal News, but you can't just walk all over the privacy rights of thousands of individuals and families and endanger everyone in your reading area in a blatant attempt to, by your own admission, capitalize on a school shooting tragedy -- gun owners who might see their weapons stolen and non-owners who can now be considered "soft targets" -- while automatically assuming that there will be no consequences.
◼ Map: Where are the Journal News employees in your neighborhood? - Robert Cox/Talk of the Sound
The map indicates the addresses of all Journal News Employees in the New York Tri-State area. Each dot represents an individual Journal News employee -- a reporter, editor or staffer. The data does not include freelancers — reporters or photographers — which can be hired without being an employee. Being included in this map does not mean the individual at a specific location is a responsible reporter or editor, just that they are a reporter or editor.
Data for all categories is included, but certain information is not available on an individual basis.
To create the map, Talk of the Sound submitted Google searches for the names and addresses of all Journal News employees in the New York Tri-State area. By state law, the information is public record.
Readers are still putting together records and could not immediately provide some data. The map will be updated when that data is released.
◼ Liberals Panic As They Lose the Gun Narrative - Kurt Schlichter/Townhall
...Their post-Newtown strategy was always to prevent an effective response from the pro-gun freedom side by both rapid action and by demonization. But the holidays and the kabuki theater that is the fiscal cliff drama meant that legislative action, their Holy Grail, would have to wait. That gave people time to think and the gun freedom side the time to react.
Demonizing those who support gun freedom was always intended as a weapon to silence them. It was also critical that we, law-abiding gun owners, become the Other. By dehumanizing us and painting us as evil, it is that much easier to strip us of our rights.
But gun freedom advocates fought back. Using the mainstream media, conservative media and especially social media – we need to understand its huge significance here – gun freedom advocates countered liberals’ bogus “facts.” Media reports about “automatic” weapons were corrected, clownish statements about “high caliber magazines” and “large capacity round” were mocked. The struggle raged over millions of Facebook posts. The average citizen saw gun banners ask “When will America control access to weapons?” and then saw several experts among his or her friends post about the significant hurdles one needs to get over to get a gun. Truth bypassed the mainstream media and became a weapon for the side of fundamental rights.
The banners overplayed their hand, losing credibility with every distortion, evasion and smear. The cries of “Blood is on your hands!” failed to resonate – reasonable Americans just did not blame the actions of a single sociopath on millions of their fellow neighbors. And it did not help when third-string celebrities and wizened literary has-beens took to hoping gun rights advocates would be shot for daring to oppose disarmament.
The gun banners also counted on a narrative that portrayed a respect for the Second Amendment. They sought only “reasonable restrictions” – why, no one wants to ban or confiscate your guns! The problem was one of memo distribution – not everybody got that memo. Mayor Bloomberg was putting out that what few guns he might graciously deign to leave in the hands of the unworthy would be starved of bullets, while Governor Cuomo acknowledged that confiscation was one of the options.
Oops. “Gun control” is a process that is designed and intended to lead to a total gun ban, and the banners are counting on people not realizing it.... More at the link.
◼ Flashback: Humboldt County, North Coast Journal printed the names of CCW holders, Sept. 2008 Pistol Packing People The Comments thread is worth a read.
◼ Unconcealed - Hank Simes/North Coast Journal
"...We strongly reject the idea that we have invaded anyone’s privacy...."
◼ The Journal News is Armed and Dangerous - ROCKLAND COUNTY TIMES
Armed guards from RGA Investigations have taken up post at the Journal News’ Rockland County headquarters
Guns are good for the goose but NOT for the gander.
A Clarkstown police report issued on December 28, 2012, confirmed that The Journal News has hired armed security guards from New City-based RGA Investigations and that they are manning the newspaper’s Rockland County headquarters at 1 Crosfield Ave., West Nyack, through at least tomorrow, Wednesday, January 2, 2013.
According to police reports on public record, Journal News Rockland Editor Caryn A. McBride was alarmed by the volume of “negative correspondence,” namely an avalanche of phone calls and emails to the Journal News office, following the newspaper’s publishing of a map of all pistol permit holders in Rockland and Westchester.
Due to apparent safety concerns, the newspaper then decided to hire RGA Investigations to provide armed personnel to man the location....
The Journal News caused an international stir when they released an interactive map of pistol permit holders names and addresses in Rockland and Westchester counties last Sunday, December 23. The editors have said they believe knowing where guns are is in the public’s interest. The newspaper has also taken a strident editorial position in favor of strict gun control.
Rather than take the map down following the public uproar, the executive board at the Journal News has decided to “stick to their guns” and double-down on their original decision, as they have said a map listing all pistol permit holders in Putnam County will soon to be posted.
[update---Putnam County officials have since announced their intention to not comply with the Journal News' request for the names and addresses of pistol permit holders]
◼ GUN OWNER-OUTING NEWSPAPER USER DATABASE HACKED, CUSTOMERS OUTED - Breitbart
The Journal News is at the center of controversy yet again. Now a hacker group has broken into the newspaper's database and is disseminating the names, addresses, and passwords of thousands of the Journal News' customers.
In December, the Westchester, New York area paper released the names and addresses of thousands of New York's legal gun owners, then threatened to publish even more in the near future.
After the local New York paper published the names and addresses of gun owners in Rockland County in an online interactive map, bloggers responded by posting the names and addresses of the employees of the Journal News.
The paper then hypocritically hired armed guards to patrol its offices over what it claimed were "threatening" emails it had received.
The Journal News also announced late in December that it would continue politicizing the names and addresses of New York gun owners and began the process of obtaining the names and addresses of gun owners in nearby Putnam County. But county officials there have balked, refusing to give the paper the requested information.
"There is the rule of law, and there is right and wrong and the Journal News is clearly wrong," Putnam County Clerk Dennis Sant said in a statement. "I could not live with myself if one Putnam pistol permit holder was put in harm's way, for the sole purpose of selling newspapers."
In the latest development in this tit-for-tat invasion of privacy, a group of hackers have announced that they've broken into the Journal News' subscriber database. The group is sending the database of customers' names, addresses, and passwords to anyone that requests it.