Saturday, December 22, 2012

His eulogy for Senator Daniel Inouye yesterday shocked even some people favorably inclined toward the president, for its focus not on the departed, but on Barack Obama himself. Emily Yoffe of Slate - far from a conservative outlet -- wrote with disgust:

...Someone needs to tell Barack Obama-it must get particularly confusing this time of year-that his own birth is not Year One, the date around which all other events are understood. His much-noted, self-referential tic was on cringe-worthy display Friday when the president gave his eulogy for the late Sen. Daniel Inouye, who served in Congress for half a century representing Obama's birth state of Hawaii....

Grotesque Obama eulogy for Sen. Inouye - Thomas Lifson/American Thinker

Obama Has to Fib Even at a Funeral - Jack Cashill/American Thinker

Fears about imminent tax hikes and cuts to government spending are taking a toll on U.S. shoppers and could deprive retailers of a strong finish to the 2012 holiday shopping season.

"Fiscal cliff" spooks U.S. shoppers in last lap of holiday race - Reuters

About 17 percent of the 1,514 Americans who participated in a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted December 17-20 said the impending "fiscal cliff" was making them spend less this season.

U.S. consumer sentiment also plummeted in December as Americans were unnerved by ongoing negotiations, data showed.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's final reading on the overall index on consumer sentiment tumbled to 72.9 from 82.7 in November, worse than forecasts for 74.7. It was the lowest level since July.

Obamas arrive in Hawaii for Christmas vacation

Air Force One touched down in Honolulu minutes after midnight and the motorcade was underway to the first family's Kailua vacation home at about 12:26 a.m. -


Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin has been named the Human Events Conservative of the Year 2012, succeeding Rep. Paul Ryan, Human Events announced Thursday. - Human Events

The Editors said Walker was chosen because he brought the benefits of conservatism to a financially troubled state, and survived numerous harsh encounters with a relentlessly hostile political environment. He was denounced, protested, and demonized to the point where he shared space with Adolf Hitler and deposed Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak on protest signs.

Big Labor unleashed a tidal wave of money and organizational power against him. His adversaries were willing to break every rule to take him down — from unionized teachers abandoning their classrooms so they could join protest marches, to Democratic officials literally fleeing across state lines in a desperate bid to shut down state government.

And yet, Walker beat them time and again, becoming the first U.S. governor to survive a recall election. Friend and foe alike testify to Walker’s sincerity and conviction. He is soft of voice, mild of manner, and has a steel spine.

In the years to come, as Americans deal with the consequences of the vote they cast in 2012, they’ll want to hear from leaders with a resume of both political and policy success like Scott Walker.

When Rep. Paul Ryan was informed of the choice, he said: “Scott is a model governor, a true conservative, and a great friend. I’m delighted to see him receive this honor.”

And as 2010 recipient, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), put it: “Gov. Walker’s courageous stand on behalf of taxpayers and sound economic principles has been an inspiration. As he worked to steer his state towards prosperity he also gave some much-needed guidance for conservatives all over the nation who are confronting the very same problems out-of-control government unions are causing to budgets around the country.”

Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, had this to say about our pick: “Simply put, Scott Walker is the best governor in the country. He has taken often difficult, bold steps to bring economic freedom and prosperity to the great state of Wisconsin.”

Chevron moving 800 Bay Area jobs to Texas

Chevron Corp. will move up to 800 jobs - about a quarter of its current headquarters staff - from the Bay Area to Houston over the next two years but will remain based in San Ramon, the oil company told employees Thursday. - SF Chronicle

The company already employs far more people in Houston - about 9,000 full-time employees and contractors - than it does in San Ramon. With a refinery in El Segundo (Los Angeles County) and oil field operations in Bakersfield, Chevron has roughly 10,000 workers throughout the Golden State.

..."It's important to reiterate that we are a California-based company," said Chevron spokesman Morgan Crinklaw. "We've been an important part of the state's economy and growth for 130 years, and we remain committed to this state."

...Chevron is the largest survivor of California's 19th century oil industry. The company traces its corporate roots back to the Pacific Coast Oil Co., founded by a small group of wealthy San Franciscans who purchased a well in Santa Clarita (Los Angeles County). The company's first refinery was based in Alameda.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Survivor of 1991 Shooting Gives Impassioned Testimony Against Gun Control

Suzanna Gratia Hupp and her parents were having lunch at the Luby’s Cafeteria in Killeen in 1991 when the Luby’s massacre commenced. The gunman shot 50 people and killed 23, including Hupp’s parents. Hupp later expressed regret about deciding to remove her gun from her purse and lock it in her car lest she risk possibly running afoul of the state’s concealed weapons laws; during the shootings, she reached for her weapon but then remembered that it was “a hundred feet away in my car.” Her father, Al Gratia, tried to rush the gunman and was shot in the chest. As the gunman reloaded, Hupp escaped through a broken window and believed that her mother, Ursula Gratia, was behind her. Actually however, her mother went to her mortally-wounded husband’s aid and was then shot in the head. ◼

Why winter—and not a Maya apocalypse—starts today.

Winter Solstice 2012: Facts on the Shortest Day of the Year - National Geographic

Today is the winter solstice and the first day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere. It's all due to Earth's tilt, which ensures that the shortest day of every year falls around December 21.

Some predicted that today would also mark Earth's doomsday, thanks to a longstanding rumor that the Maya calendar ends on December 21, 2012. But earlier this year, National Geographic grantee William Saturno found evidence that the Maya calculated dates thousands of years past 2012.

"We keep looking for endings," Saturno said in a statement. "The Maya were looking for a guarantee that nothing would change. It's an entirely different mindset."

Even without an apocalypse, the solstice has been an auspicious day since ancient times. Countless cultural and religious traditions mark the winter solstice; it's no coincidence that so many holidays surround the first day of winter.

Winter Solstice 2012: Myths and facts about the shortest day of the year - Washington Post

After a week of silence in the wake of the Newtown shootings, the National Rifle Association finally spoke out Friday defending guns and decrying violence. NRA’s Wayne LaPierre called for schools to be protected with armed guards, just as sports stadiums, the President of the United States and government buildings

NRA calls for protecting schools with arms - Washington Post

Transcript: The NRA’s press conference reacting to the Sandy Hook shooting - Charlie Spiering/Washington Examiner @charlesspiering

NRA Press Conf — “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” - Le-gal In-sur-rec-tion

Q: Does the Mayan calendar end in December 2012?

A: Just as the calendar you have on your kitchen wall does not cease to exist after December 31, the Mayan calendar does not cease to exist on December 21, 2012. This date is the end of the Mayan long-count period but then — just as your calendar begins again on January 1 — another long-count period begins for the Mayan calendar.

11 dead-wrong prophecies of doom - Peter Mucha/Philadelphia Inquirer

Phew, we survived! Deadline passes for Mayan apocalypse without raining fire or killer earthquakes (but it's tough luck for the chap who would have won £50,000 if we HAD all been wiped out) - Jill Reilly/Daily Mail

◼ Ancient Mayan calendar known as the Long Count ends today
◼ Across the globe believers were locking themselves in bomb shelters and preparing for the end
◼ Doomsday prophets descended on Bugarach in France - said to be the best place to dodge extinction
◼ In Britain believers thought the world will end - or change - at 11:11 GMT

Last month Google reported that the US government requested personal information from roughly 8,000 individual users during just the first few months of 2012.

Google starts watching what you do off the Internet too - Jason Lee/Reuters (image source)

The most powerful company on the Internet just got a whole lot creepier: a new service from Google merges offline consumer info with online intelligence, allowing advertisers to target users based on what they do at the keyboard and at the mall.

Without much fanfare, Google announced news this week of a new advertising project, Conversions API, that will let businesses build all-encompassing user profiles based off of not just what users search for on the Web, but what they purchase outside of the home.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Last night on ABC's "Nightline," Terry Moran introduced a fantastic segment that took a serious look at something beyond the incessant media drumbeat that pretends only gun control will solve the problem of mass shootings. - John Nolte/Breitbart/BIG Journalism

In a glaring exception to The Narrative, "Nightline" offered a sober, thoughtful examination of pro-active, common sense solutions that could be implemented almost immediately: Improved structural security, armed guards, and, yes, arming teachers who have already qualified for a concealed carry permit....

Arcata Ordered To Pay $2.4 Million By End Of Week

Imagine the City of Arcata bankrupt and its top staff, plus the City Council, all in jail. - Kevin Hoover/Arcata Eye

Those not-impossible consequences could result from a decision made last week by the state’s Department of Finance (DOF). More immediately, the City has to pay an unexpected bill in the millions of dollars.

In a Dec. 15 letter, the DOF has told the City of Arcata that it is exercising its authority to “claw back assets that were inappropriately transferred,” and expects a payment of $2.415 million made to the county auditor by tomorrow, Dec. 21.

The stunning blow stems from the City’s efforts in March, 2011, to salvage the affordable housing projects it had been funding via the Redevelopment Agency. When the cash-strapped State of California dissolved redevelopment agencies and claimed the funds, the City scrambled to transfer and obligate those monies before they could be taken away.

But in its letter to the Successor Agency (which succeeded the defunct Redevelopment Agency, or RDA, and is composed of members of the City Council), the DOF called Arcata out on its fancy maneuvers, saying the City had no legal grounds on which to make the funding transfers... More at The Arcata Eye, click the link.

Plan B fails — Now the House needs to consider Plan C

Just flashed across the screens was that the final vote on the tax portion of so-called Plan B had been cancelled tonight because John Boehner did not have enough votes. - Le-gal In-sur-rec-tion
What a mess.

You don’t go there unless you are certain you can get there.

Plan C, The Christmas Plan, is the only alternative right now:
I say call his bluff. If a deal which tackles deficits from both revenue and spending can be reached this month, great.

If not, pass a 90 day extension of current tax rates and whatever else is needed to postpone the “cliff,” and go home for Christmas to give time for a Grand Bargain which puts Democratic sacred cows on the table.

Let Harry Reid refuse to bring it to a vote, and Obama refuse to sign it. Their inaction will be the reason for taxes rising for everyone.
Vote on Boehner ‘Plan B’ called off due to lack of GOP support - Doug Powers/Michelle Malkin

Later, Boehner issued a statement that in part contained this: “Now it is up to the president to work with Senator (Harry) Reid on legislation to avert the fiscal cliff.” Uh huh. Would that be the same Senate Majority Leader who earlier in the day reiterated “we are not going to do anything”?

Despite leaning hard on rank-and-file members, Boehner fails to pass ‘Plan B’; House adjourns, Dow plunges - Twitchy

Here's What People Freaking Out About Yesterday's Plan B Vote Don't Get - Joe Weisenthal/Business Insider

There Is No Logical Explanation For The Political Blunder That Republicans Made Last Night - Joe Weisenthal/Business Insider

Boehner Plan B: House Republicans humiliate their leader - Jennifer Rubin/Washington Post

Reagan’s House Heroes Stop Plan B - Jeffrey Lord/American Spectator

Communist Chinese Government Calls For Americans to be Disarmed...

The Communist Chinese government, via its state-run media front Xinhua, has called for Americans to be disarmed, arguing that the Sandy Hook school massacre demands “no delay for U.S. gun control.” - Paul Joseph Watson/Infowars ◼ Via Drudge

The article calls on Obama to exploit the tragedy to push his gun control agenda, adding that his lame duck situation represents “the best position to promote it,” while blaming the National Rifle Association for curtailing previous attempts to regulate firearms in the United States.

As Brandon Darby points out, “The current Chinese government, the communist People’s Republic of China, was established in a revolution led by Mao Zedong, who killed an estimated 40-70 million people with starvation, executions, and re-education camps.”

Indeed, it was Mao himself who said “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”

This should provide a hint as to what happens when tyrants are unleashed upon a disarmed population, and why China’s call to repeal the Second Amendment rings chillingly hollow.

Harry Reid: 'We Are Not Going to Do Anything'...

Senate majority leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, made his "fiscal cliff" position clear in a press conference today. "We are not going to do anything," said Reid. "We are not taking up anything they are working on over there." - Daniel Halper/Weekly Standard

Now that Republicans have a serious proposal that would pass the House and would seem to meet the requirements Democrats previously insisted on, Reid won't permit a vote.

Mexican shootout that killed beauty queen linked to Fast and Furious

Another gun sent to Mexico under the White House’s “Fast and Furious” program has been found beside a murdered Mexican, just as the White House prepares to launch a large-scale political campaign built on the Dec. 14 massacre of 26 Americans in Newtown, Conn. - Neil Munro/Daily Caller
...Maria Gamez, was killed in a shootout Nov. 23 shootout between cops and drug-runners. The incident made headlines because a Mexican beauty queen was killed in the exchange of fire. Though Maria Susana Flores Gamez reportedly had a gun in her hand, police said she was likely used as a human shield when the men in the car she was traveling in pushed her out in front of them.

More than 150 Mexicans have been killed or wounded by the Fast and Furious guns, according to Humbert Benitez Trevino, a former attorney general of Mexico....
Pistol purchased by ATF agent found at alleged cartel crime scene in Mexico - Sharyl Attkisson/CBS
Mexican beauty queen Susana Flores Maria Gamez and four others died in the brutal gun battle between Sinaloa cartel members and the Mexican military in November. CBS News has learned that an FN Herstal pistol recovered near the crime scene in November was originally purchased by an Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) manager who was faulted by the Inspector General in Operation Fast and Furious: George Gillett. Gillett was the Asst. Special Agent in Charge of ATF Phoenix when Fast and Furious began.

‘Forward’ to the Past?

Obama remains oblivious to lessons China and India learned the hard way. - Thomas Sowell/American Spectator

The political slogan “Forward” served Barack Obama well during this year’s election campaign. It said that he was for going forward, while Republicans were for “going back to the failed policies that got us into this mess in the first place.”
It was great political rhetoric and great political theater. Moreover, the Republicans did virtually nothing to challenge its shaky assumptions with a few hard facts that could have made those assumptions collapse like a house of cards....

We are going “forward” to a repeatedly failed past, following a charismatic leader, after a 20th century in which charismatic leaders led countries into unprecedented catastrophes.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

California taxes dip in a weak month for revenue

California tax revenue has slipped further below goals set by Gov. Jerry Brown's administration, according to a state report released Tuesday. - LA Times

"The President will have a decision to make. He can call on Senate Democrats to pass that bill, or HE can be responsible for the largest tax increase in American history.”

Boehner to bring ‘Plan B’ to a vote in the House, force Dems to own the ‘largest tax increase in American history’ - Doug Powers/Michelle Malkin

...It’s been asked what happens if this move to put the Dems on the spot doesn’t pass the House. Boehner wouldn’t even bring it to a vote if he wasn’t sure he had the votes… would he? Or maybe he knows he doesn’t have the votes but wants to prove the House Repubs are a solid “no” to tax increases on anybody and everybody. Or maybe… oh, nevermind, this could go on all night....

Krauthammer: The President Invoking the Massacre of Children in Context of the Fiscal Cliff is a Sacrilege

During his press conference, this morning, the President lamely invoked the Connecticut school massacre in order to shame Republicans into surrendering on tax hikes - Nice Deb

Charles Krauthammer, a licensed psychiatrist, has never been one to give Obama a pass on the disgraceful, divisive, and narcissistic behavior he constantly displays as President of the United States.

“I think the president invoking the massacre of children to essentially say the Republicans need to accept his terms of surrender in the negotiations is not just a non sequitur, I think it’s a sacrilege...”

“And it’s of a piece with the whole tone of his news conference and this is the way he conducts them generally – which is he is excessively self righteous, he talks about the other side as being unprincipled, not interested in the national interest, slaves of ideology (which he says makes no sense), and like you said, invested in opposing him to the point that they will let the country suffer. So it’s a combination of self righteousness and narcissism…it’s just a very unpleasant tone and there’s no reason he can’t avoid that or give some credit to the other side for sincerity in just seeing a a different way to approach the crisis the country has. I think that would be respectful but it’s a lot to ask of Obama and he never delivers on it.”

Sarah Palin on Obama and Benghazi

Gun-Control Ignorance

How many times do the same arguments need to be refuted? - Thomas Sowell/National Review

Must every tragic mass shooting bring out the shrill ignorance of “gun control” advocates?

The key fallacy of so-called gun-control laws is that such laws do not in fact control guns. They simply disarm law-abiding citizens, while people bent on violence find firearms readily available.

Obama, Reid slam brakes on gun control- Byron York/Washington Examiner

With President Obama’s announcement of a commission to study and recommend ways to reduce gun violence, the two most important Democrats in government — Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid — have both indicated a desire to slow the momentum toward gun control in the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut school shootings. The president’s decision to appoint a blue-ribbon panel — the classic Washington ploy to defuse and delay consideration of an issue — along with Reid’s inaction on the gun question will undoubtedly frustrate many in their party who want immediate action....

In the days since the Newtown killings, many Democrats and their supporters in the press have expressed a desire to enact “meaningful” gun control as soon as possible. In two brief statements, President Obama and Harry Reid have poured some very cold water on those hopes.

The post-Newtown witch hunt - Michelle Malkin

Boehner: Obama can help pass Plan B in Senate, or ‘be responsible for the largest tax increase in American history’

“Republicans continue to work toward avoiding the fiscal cliff. The president’s offer of $1.3 trillion of revenue and $850 billion in spending reduction fails to meet the test that the president promised the American people: a balanced approach. And I hope the president will get serious soon about providing and working with us on a balanced approach,” Boehner said in a brief statement to reporters Wednesday. - Alexis Levinson/Daily Caller

The Colossal Hypocrisy of Dianne Feinstein, Queen of Gun Control

If Dianne Feinstein grants herself the right to self protection, how on earth can she justify denying you your right to do the same. - Protein Wisdom

It's the Spending, Stupid!

Listening to progressive media pundits, I'd think the most evil man in the universe is Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform. His crime? He heads a movement that asks political candidates to pledge not to raise taxes. - John Stossel/Townhall

I think Grover accomplished a lot. But I wish he'd convinced politicians to pledge not to increase spending.

President Obama says raising taxes to cut the deficit is a "balanced" approach.

Balanced ...

But what's "balanced" about raising taxes after vast increases in spending? Trillions for war, Medicare, "stimulus" and solar panels. Tax receipts rose -- after tax-rate cuts -- from $1.9 billion in 2003 to $2.3 billion in 2008, the year the recession started. That increase couldn't keep up with the spending. The deficit doubled -- actually, more than doubled -- as politicians increased spending to nearly $4 trillion! Our debt, at more than $16 trillion, now exceeds our gross domestic product.

Ludicrous, irresponsible spending is why we're in trouble. ...

Historic Home or Grassy Strip?

The University of Chicago is about to demolish Ronald Reagan's early childhood home. Can it be stopped? - Peter Hannaford on 12.11.12

All of Ronald Reagan's formative years, from birth until he landed his first job across the Mississippi 21 years later, were lived in rural northwestern Illinois except for about ten months in Chicago.

In all but one case, his rural boyhood homes have been preserved. His birthplace in Tampico looks as it did when he was born and is open to the public. So is his teen years home in Dixon. The house the Reagans lived in for two years in Galesburg has been lovingly restored by its private owner. Their house in Monmouth is the only home that is closed.

Reagan's father, Jack, a shoe salesmen by trade, moved the family from Tampico at the beginning of 1915 after his boss in Tampico sold his dry goods store. He got a job at the big Fair Store on Chicago's south side, thinking his career would take off there. They rented a cold-water flat in a four-story apartment building at 832 East 57th Street in the Hyde Park neighborhood. Young "Dutch" Reagan (that was his nickname from birth until he moved to Hollywood in 1937) had his first memories in that flat. In a letter years later, he writes about the thrill of seeing horses pulling the fire wagon down the street at a gallop. February 6 that year marked his fourth birthday. While living in Chicago he also nearly died from a serious case of pneumonia.

The building the Reagans lived in is about to be demolished. The land now belongs to the University of Chicago's Medical Center and the plan is to replace it with a grassy strip bordering what will be a new parking lot.

The Commission on Chicago Landmarks turned down an appeal to give the building landmark status on the grounds that it "does not have sufficient architectural significance" and "is not associated with Mr. Reagan during his active and productive years." As to the first reason, the building is a good example of vernacular architecture of the era. As to the second, this site, along with all the other places the 40th president lived in as a boy, figured in the development of his character (his political philosophy came later) and thus is important to understanding this very significant president.

Redd Griffin, a Chicagoan who understood the significance of this building in the life of Reagan and was working energetically at saving it, died unexpectedly in late November. Now, Mary Claire Kendall, a writer, is picking up Griffin's cause and working to raise enough money to propose that a non-profit group purchase the building from the university and turn it into a Ronald Reagan Hyde Park museum and public affairs center.

Ms. Kendall first became interested in the cause when she was doing research on a book about Frank Lloyd Wright and met Griffin, who was active in the movement to preserve and promote several Wright homes in the Chicago suburbs. About her efforts to raise money for the Reagan Hyde Park preservation project, she says, "Time is of the essence." The demolition is scheduled to take place by the end of this year.

Meanwhile, while the university is more-or-less ignoring the Reagan home preservation effort, it is actively lobbying for an Obama Presidential Library. President Obama's own home is in the Hyde Park neighborhood. Chicago politics being what they are, the betting is on that project and not saving the cold-water flat apartment building in which the only U.S. President born and bred in Illinois once lived.
Peter Hannaford was closely associated for a number of years with the late President Reagan, beginning in the California Governor's office. His latest book is Presidential Retreats.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


On Monday, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley announced that she was appointing U.S. Congressman Tim Scott to the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Jim DeMint. When he is sworn in on January 3, Scott will be the lone African American of either party in the Senate but this historic news didn't seem to interest ABC or CBS as neither mentioned the news that night. - Warner Todd Huston/Breitbart

One would think that the "diversity" of this story alone would be of interest to the big networks. After all, we have a female Governor who is the daughter of Sikh immigrants appointing the only African American to the Senate. We also have a Senate seat that is famed for having once been occupied by Strom Thurmond, a one-time Dixiecrat, segregationist turned repentant Republican. And we have the first black Senator from a southern state since Blanche Bruce of Mississippi in 1881. This is almost "diversity" overload.

Perhaps one mitigating factor for the old networks is that all of this "diversity" was wrought by Republicans?

To its credit, NBC did spend some time on this historic appointment. A whole 24 seconds.

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley is single-handedly diversifying the Republican Party. Haley, an Indian-American, just appointed Representative Tim Scott to replace the state's departing senator, Jim DeMint. Scott will be the only black in the Senate. And South Carolina will have an Indian woman in the governor's office and a black senator. That's remarkable. - Francis Wilkinson/Bloomberg

The Democratic Party incorporated black voters into the fold after championing civil rights legislation in the 1960s, then gradually made room for black elected officials. It diversified from the ground up. Republicans are working in the opposite direction. The party rank and file is overwhelmingly white. But Republican elected officials are increasingly diverse. Scott will join Cuban-American Republicans Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz in the Senate. And in addition to Haley, Republicans can point to Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, and Governors Brian Sandoval of Nevada and Susana Martinez of New Mexico.

Dear @SpeakerBoehner, it’s time for Plan C — The Christmas Strategy

It is very frustrating to watch John Boehner and House Republicans twist themselves into contortions in a futile attempt to appease Obama. - Le-gal In-sur-rec-tion

Please move on to something I have been suggesting repeatedly since early December, when it became clear Obama would not negotiate in good faith, The Christmas Strategy, or if you prefer, Plan C:
I say call his bluff. If a deal which tackles deficits from both revenue and spending can be reached this month, great.

If not, pass a 90 day extension of current tax rates and whatever else is needed to postpone the “cliff,” and go home for Christmas to give time for a Grand Bargain which puts Democratic sacred cows on the table.

Let Harry Reid refuse to bring it to a vote, and Obama refuse to sign it. Their inaction will be the reason for taxes rising for everyone.
You tried really hard. It failed because Obama wants it to fail.

Now pass Plan C and send it over to Harry Reid. Then go home.

Starving CA govt. begins to devour itself

Caught between rising pension costs and declining tax receipts, several local governments in California have gone bankrupt, including the city of San Bernardino, which has stopped making its required contributions to the California Public Employees Retirement System. CalPERS is threatening to sue. - Mark Cabaniss/Cal Watchdog

Meanwhile, the county of San Bernardino is thinking of trying to help the local economy by injecting it with billions of dollars, which, unfortunately, it doesn’t have. So the people who run the county are thinking of simply seizing the money by using eminent domain. But an examination of the plan reveals a simple scheme in which the right hand of government robs the left hand of government, because the idea that has been floated is simply to confiscate the money from institutional investors — and many of these institutional investors are pension funds, including government pension funds like CalPERS.

The plan came from Mortgage Resolution Partners, or MRP, of San Francisco, and it goes like this: local governments would try to help local homeowners out of the housing crash by using eminent domain to condemn underwater mortgages, then refinance the mortgages with lower principal amounts, which would then have lower monthly payments, so local homeowners wouldn’t have to take the losses from the bursting of the property bubble.

MRP would take a $4,500 fee for each refinanced home. As there are an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 homes in San Bernardino County that would be good candidates for the plan, that would make MRP’s cut $90 to $135 million in San Bernardino County alone. And the plan might expand elsewhere in California, even other states.

A public purpose supposedly would be served because each refinanced homeowner would suddenly have hundreds of dollars of “free money” each month to pump into the local economy. But so far, there has been no mention of who would lose all of this free money, other than some vague references to “Wall Street...” More at the link.

NEW: Reality could stifle Prop. 13 reform attempts

California legislators from San Francisco are “eager to reform Proposition 13 tax policies.” - Wayne Lusvardi and Charles B. Warren/Cal WatchDog

If California is going to resolve its longstanding budgetary and tax problems and keep a market-based democracy intact, the supermajority Democrats are going to have to run the state on more than demonization of big business and draconian tax changes.

San Francisco legislators are eager to reform Proposition 13 and related tax policies - Mike Billings/SF Examiner

First, they will come for the commercial properties.

Anxiety rises as Americans face start of Obamacare

This March will mark three years since Obamacare became law, and it still has not had any serious effect on most Americans' lives. That's the way President Obama and the law's Democratic authors planned it; they conveniently pushed the dislocations and unhappy consequences of national health care well past their re-election campaigns. - Byron York/Washington Examiner

This March will mark three years since Obamacare became law, and it still has not had any serious effect on most Americans' lives. That's the way President Obama and the law's Democratic authors planned it; they conveniently pushed the dislocations and unhappy consequences of national health care well past their re-election campaigns....

Over the past months there has been scattered press coverage of coming problems. That is likely to increase in 2013. There will be more stories with headlines like this, from Bloomberg News last week: "Aetna CEO Sees Obama Health Law Doubling Some Premiums."

And this, from the Associated Press: ◼ "Surprise: New Insurance Fee In Health Overhaul Law."

And this, from the Wall Street Journal: ◼ "Health-Care Law Spurs a Shift to Part-Time Workers."

Real-world experience might even spark some rethinking of Obamacare's premises. For example, the president and his Democratic allies promised Obamacare will cut the deficit. That's almost certainly not true, although many in the press repeated it faithfully. Now, with Obamacare near, there are hints of a reassessment.

Morning Bell: GOP Leaders Capitulate on Core Conservative Principles

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Republican leaders have done it once again. Their latest fiscal cliff proposal capitulates on core conservative principles, yielding woefully inadequate concessions from President Obama in the process. Will they ever learn? - Rob Bluey/Heritage's Foundry

The latest GOP offer essentially ignores Washington’s real problem — spending — and puts a $1 trillion tax hike on the table. It’s so bad that conservatives are now left with only one unfortunate alternative — passing a temporary measure that avoids a doomsday scenario until the end of March. It’s the best possible outcome with the days dwindling on the remainder of 2012.

In a city where kicking the can has become a routine course of action, it’s hardly the preferable outcome for lawmakers. But it would be better than just going over the fiscal cliff and better than the current $1 trillion tax increase offered by Boehner, which, not surprisingly, was summarily rejected by Obama, who proceeded to counteroffer with an even bigger tax hike and even fewer spending cuts. At this point, no “grand bargain” is going to result in the spending cuts that are needed to reduce the debt.... more at the link.

Fiscal Cliff Solutions: Soar Over the Cliff or Kick the Can - J.D. Foster, Ph.D./Heritage's Foundry

Kicking the can is the least repugnant remaining resolution to the fiscal cliff. The only alternatives appear to be the Republicans’ unconditional surrender on income tax rates (and conceding their principles) or simply going over the cliff.

The story is now a familiar one. Congress and the President conspire to delay every conceivable difficulty until after the election; not just Taxmageddon and the rest of the fiscal cliff, but also the farm bill and much more. With the election in the past, the man-made crisis unfolds on schedule.

The essential lines in the sand in this conflict have not changed for years. The President’s position is simple—a “my way or the highway” approach under which Republicans must capitulate on income tax rate hikes and keep all other serious issues off the table.

Never mind that Obama ◼ already raised taxes on upper-income taxpayers through the 3.8 percent Medicare surtax imposed under Obamacare.
Never mind that tax rate hikes would weaken an economy stumbling so badly the Federal Reserve doubled its risky efforts to keep the economy from recession. Never mind Obama’s approach would likely put the kibosh on any hopes for tax reform. Never mind the resulting revenues would be a small drop in a very big bucket compared to projected budget deficits. Never mind that the only justification for higher taxes is spite and envy to be exercised through the extortive power of the federal government.

In his view, President Obama ran for re-election on, and now has a mandate for, raising income tax rates. In fact, his mandate is solely to continue to press his case. Ours is not a parliamentary system, and Obama is not the prime minister. And so he faces the pesky reality that House Republicans ran opposing higher tax rates and they, too, were returned to Washington in the majority to press their case. Their mandate is no greater, but certainly no less than Obama’s....

Policymakers have put us in this terrible position through the nasty habit of kicking the can—avoiding difficult policy decisions. What is proposed here—another short-term kicking of ye olde can—is akin to the “hair of the dog” prescription for hangovers. It is not a good solution, but sadly, it is better than the only available alternatives. More at the link

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Facts about Mass Shootings

A few things you won’t hear about from the saturation coverage of the Newtown, Conn., school massacre: - John Fund/National Review

Mass shootings are no more common than they have been in past decades, despite the impression given by the media....

Almost all of the public-policy discussion about Newtown has focused on a debate over the need for more gun control. In reality, gun control in a country that already has 200 million privately owned firearms is likely to do little to keep weapons out of the hands of criminals. We would be better off debating two taboo subjects — the laws that make it difficult to control people with mental illness and the growing body of evidence that “gun-free” zones, which ban the carrying of firearms by law-abiding individuals, don’t work....

Economists John Lott and William Landes conducted a groundbreaking study in 1999, and found that a common theme of mass shootings is that they occur in places where guns are banned and killers know everyone will be unarmed, such as shopping malls and schools.

I spoke with Lott after the Newtown shooting, and he confirmed that nothing has changed to alter his findings. He noted that the Aurora shooter, who killed twelve people earlier this year, had a choice of seven movie theaters that were showing the Batman movie he was obsessed with. All were within a 20-minute drive of his home. The Cinemark Theater the killer ultimately chose wasn’t the closest, but it was the only one that posted signs saying it banned concealed handguns carried by law-abiding individuals. All of the other theaters allowed the approximately 4 percent of Colorado adults who have a concealed-handgun permit to enter with their weapons.

“Disarming law-abiding citizens leaves them as sitting ducks,” Lott told me. “A couple hundred people were in the Cinemark Theater when the killer arrived. There is an extremely high probability that one or more of them would have had a legal concealed handgun with him if they had not been banned.”

Lott offers a final damning statistic: “With just one single exception, the attack on congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson in 2011, every public shooting since at least 1950 in the U.S. in which more than three people have been killed has taken place where citizens are not allowed to carry guns.” - More at the link.



Nikki Haley appoints Rep. Tim Scott to Senate

Scott will replace Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who is leaving the chamber in January to head up the conservative Heritage Foundation.

“It is with great pleasure that I am announcing our next U.S. senator to be Congressman Tim Scott,” Haley said. “I am strongly convinced that the entire state understands that this is the right U.S. senator for our state and our country.”

Sen.-designate Scott, 47, will become the only African-American currently serving in the Senate and the first black Republican to serve in the upper chamber since the 1970s. He will also be the first black senator from the South since Reconstruction.

South Carolina governor chooses Rep. Tim Scott to replace Jim DeMint in the Senate; Updated - Doug Power/Michelle Malkin


As the country grieves for the families in Newtown, Connecticut, where a crazed gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary on Friday, members of Westboro Baptist Church have announced their intention to picket the funerals of the deceased. - The Blaze

Disgusted by Westboro Baptist’s actions, the hacker group Anonymous stepped in on Sunday.

According to msnNOW, the hackers released the private information of Westboro Baptist members online, including phone numbers, professions, birthdays, known relationships, home and email addresses, in retaliation.

Anonymous also included an accompanying video in which they excoriate the self-described church in the strongest of terms, and pledge to destroy it.

Gizmodo took a transcript of part of the video:
“Since your one-dimensional thought protocol will conform not to any modern logic, we will not debate, argue, or attempt to reason with you. Instead, we have unanimously deemed your organization to be harmful to the population of The United States of America, and have therefore decided to execute an agenda of action which will progressively dismantle your institution of deceitful pretext and extreme bias, and cease when your zealotry runs dry.

We recognize you as serious opponents, and do not expect our campaign to terminate in a short period of time. Attrition is our weapon, and we will waste no time, money, effort, and enjoyment, in tearing your resolve into pieces, and with exposing the incongruity of your distorted faith.”
Here is the full clip:

Is Jerry Brown the New Voice of Reason?

Is it possible that Jerry Brown, a life-long Democrat, is now the voice of reason in Sacramento? - Jon Coupal/Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

There was a time when Democrats were proud to declare themselves the defenders of working people, the middle class or those who aspired to become middle class. As recently as the 1990s, there were Democrats in the Legislature who upheld this tradition. Sadly, over time, these defenders of average citizens have been largely replaced by those who are more selective about which interests they care about.

The priorities of this new breed of Democrat has shifted to issues like what kind of light bulbs are you using in your home or how many calories are you consuming. To these “nanny staters,” creating the California Blueberry Commission is their idea of helping the economy in a state where several million residents remain unemployed.

These representatives believe that their narrow agenda so important that anybody who has a job, a business or who has been marginally successful, should foot the bill with higher taxes. When Proposition 30, the $50 billion tax increase, was passed in November they were jubilant -- not just because they would now have more money to spend, but because many believed this represented a new era in California where the public was ready to embrace new taxes. And it didn’t hurt their morale that their party elected super-majorities to both houses of the Legislature.

Already State Senators Mark Leno and Lois Wolk have introduced legislation to make it easier to increase property taxes on homeowners. Known as “parcel taxes,” homeowners are compelled to pay a set amount for the privilege of living within a community imposing the tax. A young couple in a starter home, an elderly couple in a bungalow and a multi-millionaire in mansion all pay the same amount. While parcel taxes are legal, they require a two-thirds vote under Proposition 13. If Leno and Wolk get their way, these taxes will be imposed with a lower vote threshold even though a majority of these taxes pass under the current system....

Brown has cautioned against “over-reading” voters’ intentions and declared he will oppose any additional taxes not approved by a public vote.

Over the years, our renaissance governor has been described as eccentric (and worse) because of his philosophical and spiritual musings that often seem extraneous. However, Democratic leaders in the Legislature would be wise to take to heart Brown’s recent comment to reporters: “When I was doing Zen meditation in Japan back in the late ‘80s, before going to bed I’d say with mediators, ‘Desires are endless, I vow to cut them down.’”

Dan Walters Daily: 'Are we asleep at the switch?'

◼ Have a question you'd like Dan to answer? Post it on the Sacramento Bee Facebook page.
Reminder: No meeting in December.
Enjoy the holidays.
See you at the January 17th Meeting.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

"I am sharing this story because I am Adam Lanza's mother. I am Dylan Klebold's and Eric Harris's mother. I am Jason Holmes's mother. I am Jared Loughner's mother. I am Seung-Hui Cho's mother. And these boys—and their mothers—need help. In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it's easy to talk about guns. But it's time to talk about mental illness."

I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother - Liza Long/Gawker


Day By Day is great every day, bookmark it, and share the link.

According to a Reuters source, Boehner agreed to a tax rate hike of an unspecified size on high earners – a term the source left undefined. The source said that Obama thought that the offer represented “progress.”


Late Saturday evening, a source from the White House said the Speaker of the House John Boehner had put tax rate hikes on the table in fiscal cliff negotiations. The White House promptly rejected the offer, since Boehner also wanted entitlement reform as a compromise. But the announcement is likely to exacerbate the war within the Republican Party with regard to tax policy in the run-up to the fiscal cliff.

According to a Reuters source, Boehner agreed to a tax rate hike of an unspecified size on high earners – a term the source left undefined. The source said that Obama thought that the offer represented “progress.”

Politico reports that Boehner wants to raise taxes for those earning upward of $1 million beginning January 1. Obama and Boehner also talked on Friday, but sources told Politico (the White House's favorite outlet) that the deal isn't close yet. Boehner refused to extend federal unemployment benefits again in his offer. He also reportedly refused to raise the debt ceiling; Obama continues to maintain that he be given unilateral authority to raise the debt ceiling.

Multiple House Republicans have already stated that should Boehner cave on tax increases, his job as speaker would be put in jeopardy.

The big news is that the Fed is now doubling the amount of money it is printing.

No Way Out - Peter Schiff/; cross-posted with ◼ Doug Ross

By upping the ante once again in its gamble to revive the lethargic economy through monetary action, the Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee is now compelling the rest of us to buy into a game that we may not be able to afford. At his press conference this week, Fed Chairman Bernanke explained how the easiest policy stance in Fed history has just gotten that much easier. First it gave us zero interest rates, then QEs I and II, Operation Twist, and finally "unlimited" QE3.

Now that those moves have failed to deliver economic health, the Fed has doubled the size of its open-ended money printing and has announced a program of data flexibility that virtually insures that they will never bump into limitations, until it's too late....

To cloak these shockingly accommodative moves in the garb of moderation, the Fed announced that future policy decisions will be put on automatic pilot by pegging liquidity withdrawal to two sets of economic data. By committing to tightening policy if either unemployment falls below 6.5% or if inflation goes higher than 2.5%, Bernanke is likely looking to silence fears that the Fed will stay too loose for too long. While these statistical benchmarks would be too accommodative even if they were rigidly enforced, the goalposts have been specifically designed to be completely movable, and hence essentially meaningless....

But perhaps the most absurd statement in Bernanke's press conference was his contention that the Fed is not engaged in debt monetization because it intends to sell the debt once the economy improves. This is like a thief claiming that he is not stealing your car, because he intends to return it when he no longer needs it. To make the analogy more accurate, there could not be any other cars on the road for him to steal....

In order to generate phony economic growth and to "pay" our country's debts in the most dishonest manner possible, the Federal Reserve is 100% committed to the destruction of the dollar. Anyone with wealth in the U.S. dollar should be concerned that economic leadership is firmly in the hands of irresponsible bureaucrats who are committed to an ivory tower version of reality that bears no resemblance to the world as it really is.

New Evidence Shows States with No Income Tax Grow Faster and Create More Jobs

One Fish, Two Fish, High Tax, Low Tax - Dan Mitchell

Why is it that some of the states with the biggest fiscal problems have the highest individual state income tax rates, such as New York and California, while some of the states with the least fiscal problems have no state income tax at all?

What’s the Best Way of Achieving Good Fiscal Policy?

The half-joking response to the question in the title of this post is that policymakers should look at what’s happening in poorly run jurisdictions such as California, France, Illinois, and Greece – and then do just the opposite.

In other words, steer clear of punitive class-warfare tax rates and make sure to control the burden of government spending.

But there’s an even simpler rule that is very correlated with good fiscal policy, at least at the state level. Governments should not impose income taxes.

If you look at this map from the Tax Foundation, you’ll notice that there is a heavy overlap between the 10 states with the lowest overall tax burdens and the 9 states (Alaska, Florida, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, Wyoming) that don’t have income taxes.

More specifically, 7 of the non-income tax states are among the 10 states with the lowest tax burdens. Only Florida and Washington are outside the top 10.

It’s also worth noting that some of the states with the most “progressive” income tax systems are well represented on the list of the 10-worst states – including California, New York, New Jersey, Maine, and Rhode Island.

The more important question is whether this approach leads to better economic performance. The evidence is pretty clear that zero-income-tax states grow faster and create more jobs. - Dan Mitchell

Comparing Obamanomics with Reaganomics, Looking at Evidence from the States - Dan Mitchell

We'll never see this kind of reform in California. Quite the reverse, if the last election is an indication of a trend. Statists never get that, the more one raises tax rates, the more wealth-generating taxpayers will choose to leave and economic performance stagnates. - Public Secrets