Josh Rogin has the story at the Cable:
Jide Zeitlin, the Obama administration's nominee to be America's point man for financial reform at the United Nations, has withdrawn himself from consideration for the job, an administration official tells The Cable.
Zeitlin, a former Goldman Sachs executive and telecom entrepreneur, had faced criticism for his business dealings related to Indian contractors and was also accused of identity fraud for an incident in which he admitted to sending an email to investors masked as coming from one of his competitors. Zeitlin testified before Congress that the email was a prank.
Rogin also hints at the the possibility that there is another scandal here that isn't financial:
But concerns about his nomination grew as rumors swirled around Washington and New York that Zeitlin was engaged in other activities that called into question his overall character and also may have included elements of identity fraud.
Specifically, one woman contacted several government offices and multiple news outlets, including The Cable, with allegations that Zeitlin had used deception to lure her into what eventually she claims was a romantic relationship. Those allegations could not be independently confirmed by The Cable. The administration official declined to comment as to whether they had been investigated as part of Zeitlin's vetting process or afterwards.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Here's a news flash from Planet Obvious: Chris Warren, Cleveland's regional development chief, says wasting tax dollars to help folks buy homes they can't afford is not smart policy. He needs to make sure it doesn't continue to be city policy.
Cleveland's role in aiding and abetting its very own foreclose crisis, one of the worst in the country, was highlighted by Plain Dealer reporter Mark Gillispie on Sunday. His investigation into Cleveland's Afford-A-Home program revealed a shameful lack of oversight.
The city provided at-risk buyers with down-payment loans of up to $20,000 through the federally funded program -- without the obvious caveat of ensuring that they could continue to make mortgage payments.
As a result, nearly half of the 584 homes sold between 2000 and 2007 by the top three firms using these loans to entice buyers have gone into foreclosure. Among the recipients: A homeless woman living in a car with her children. Contrite city officials acknowledge they were asleep at the wheel as millions of taxpayer dollars were lost in the firestorm of sheriff's sales that followed. They've promised to clamp down immediately on how they qualify buyers.
Yet city officials did little, until this newspaper's investigation uncovered the problems, to halt these practices or to provide adequate oversight of the private rehabbers that used the loans to sell homes.
Officials need to explain such an appalling lack of accountability.
They don't need to explain anything. They're democrats in government. That should about explain it all.
What's so "progressive" about rampant foreclosures?
I don't know why
You call some place Paradise
Kiss it Goodbye
So the state of California is attempting to deal with 60 to 80 billion in budget deficits so what does the largely democratic congressional representation do for the state. Pass health care of course which will add billions of additional medicaid burdens on a state already tinkering on bankruptcy.
So how does one Diane Feinstein manage such trivialities.........
The problem is that the health care bill would include more people in the Medicaid program, which is partially funded by the state.
Governor Schwarzenegger says that’ll cost California an extra 3 billion dollars a year.
Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein says she’s aware of the problem. "I’ve seen the Governor’s numbers," she says, "and it’s a worst case scenario. So hopefully, that’s not going to happen and we have some time to deal with it."
Too bad the California "progressives" are so easy. They could have worked a deal out like Ben Nelson.
Someone at The New Republic has picked up on the continued presidential trend..........
Excuse me, I have a tee time to make.
It’s been a tough first year for President Obama, as critics throughout the body politic bemoan that Mr. Change-We-Can-Believe-In is looking more and more like Mr. Politics-As-Usual. With the coming new year, however, POTUS has a prime opportunity to regroup, reload, and revamp his image. He could start by ditching golf.
Seriously. Its venerable White House history notwithstanding, golf is a dubious pastime for any decent, sane person, much less for this particular president. Why would a leader vowing to shake up Washington--to alter the very nature of politics--sell his soul to a leisure activity that screams stodgy, hyperconventional Old Guard?
There are signs that Obama has been nursing a creeping golf addiction for some time now. He took up the game a little more than a decade ago as a newbie state senator hoping to bond with more rural, conservative colleagues. Next thing you know, he was hooked--playing for cash, fretting over his form, and goading staffers to cut out of work early for a quick round.
During the 2008 race, Obama’s golf outings drew less notice than his battles on the hard court. But, now that he’s firmly ensconced in the Oval Office, the sticks have come out of the closet as Obama constantly looks to squeeze in a few holes: on Father’s Day, during the family’s summer holiday on the Vineyard, immediately upon touching down from his June trip to Europe. It is often noted that this president hit the links more frequently in his first nine months than the reared-on-golf George W. did in his first two years (after which W. conspicuously swore off the game out of respect for the troops). Currently ranked eighth on Golf Digest’s list of presidential golfers (sandwiched between Clinton and Reagan), Obama seems intent on moving up the ladder--despite reports that he’s something of a duffer.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
There is a sense of déjà vu in the Obama administration’s response to the attempted terrorist attack on Christmas Day. A by-now familiar pattern has been established for dealing with unexpected problems.
First, White House aides downplay the notion that something may have gone wrong on their part. While staying out of the spotlight, the president conveys his efforts to address the situation and his feelings about it through administration officials. After a few days, the White House concedes on the issue, and perhaps Barack Obama even steps out to address it.
That same scenario unfolded over the summer, when Obama said Sgt. James Crowley, a white Cambridge, Mass., police officer, “acted stupidly” when he arrested Henry Louis Gates Jr., a black Harvard professor, in his own home. It happened in March when the public was outraged over AIG dishing out hefty bonuses. More recently the public witnessed the dynamic after a security breach at President Barack Obama’s first state dinner.But the fact that the issue now is a terrorist incident — albeit an unsuccessful one — makes the stakes much higher, and the White House’s usual approach more questionable. That this test of his leadership comes while he’s on vacation in tropical Hawaii further complicates things.
Journalist ethics? That's a laugher.
NBC’s interview with David Goldman has drawn a scathing review from the Society of Professional Journalists’ Ethics Committee.
The panel says it’s “appalled” because NBC News chartered a plane for Goldman and his son, Sean, to fly from Brazil to the United States. They were reunited after a five-year custody battle, and they arrived in Orlando on Christmas Eve. In paying for the plane, NBC News engaged in “checkbook journalism,” the Ethics Committee says.
The journalists’ group has a code of ethics that urges reporters to refrain from bidding for news.
“The public could rightly assume that NBC News bought exclusive interviews and images, as well as the family’s loyalty, with an extravagant gift,” Ethics Committee Chairman Andy Schotz said.
In a statement, NBC News said: “The Goldmans were invited on a jet NBC News chartered to fly home to the U.S. on Thursday, December 24. NBC News has followed this story since the Goldmans’ story first ran on Dateline nearly one year ago — David Goldman since has appeared on Today seventeen times. NBC News has not and will not pay for an interview.”
Hey did you hear about the iconic African-American guy who plays golf, and whose relationship with the public is in a free-fall lately?
No, as a matter of fact I'm not talking about Tiger Woods.
You know, I've really been trying not to write an article every other week about all the things I don't like about Barack Obama.
But the little prick is making it very hard.
Like any good progressive, I've gone from admiration to hope to disappointment to anger when it comes to this president. Now I'm fast getting to rage.
How much rage? I find myself thinking that the thing I want most from the 2010 elections is for his party to get absolutely clobbered, even if that means a repeat of 1994. And that what I most want from 2012 is for him to be utterly humiliated, even if that means President Palin at the helm. That much rage.
Did this clown really say on national television that "I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of you know, fat cat bankers on Wall Street"?!?!
Really, Barack? So, like, my question is: Then why the hell did you help out a bunch of fat cat bankers on Wall Street?!?! Why the hell did you surround yourself with nothing but Robert Rubin proteges in all the key economic positions in your government? Why did you allow them to open a Washington branch of Goldman Sachs in the West Wing? Why have your policies been tailored to helping Wall Street bankers, rather than the other 300 million of us, who just happen to be suffering badly right now?
Read the rest of this panty bunching hysteria here.
At ThreatsWatch.org, Steve Schippert and Clyde Middleton have dug up the bizarre and unsettling issuance of an executive order recently signed by President Barack Obama. Executive Order — Amending Executive Order 12425, signed December 16 and released a day later, grants the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) rights on American soil that place it beyond the reach of our own law enforcement agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Schippert and Middleton note that Obama’s order removes protections placed upon INTERPOL by President Reagan in 1983. Obama’s order gives the group the authority to avoid Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests — which means this foreign law enforcement organization can operate free of an important safeguard against governmental abuse. “Property and assets,” including the organization’s records, cannot be searched or seized. Their physical locations and records are now immune from U.S. legal or investigative authorities.
If the president of the United States has an aboveboard reason for making a foreign law enforcement agency exempt from American laws on American soil, it wasn’t shared by the White House.
Andy McCarthy, former assistant United States attorney for the Southern District of New York and senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, notes at National Review that the limitations that Obama removed are “what prevents law-enforcement and its controlling government authority from becoming tyrannical.”
A paragraph later, McCarthy describes Obama’s actions in the starkest of terms:
This international police force (whose U.S. headquarters is in the Justice Department in Washington) will be unrestrained by the U.S. Constitution and American law while it operates in the United States and affects both Americans and American interests outside the United States.
Some bloggers covering this story are noting that the law enforcement agency to which Obama has extended such extraordinary powers to has had a dismal past.
If I go to Delaware (where there is no sales tax) and buy a computer, I don't pay any Delaware sales tax but I owe Ohio use tax since I am a resident of Ohio. That use tax is the equivalent of Ohio sales tax.
In addition, if I buy a computer from a Kentucky company via the internet, they are not required to collect Ohio sales tax unless they have "nexis" in Ohio (essentially a business presence of some kind).
As a result, companies like Amazon save people sales tax dollars provided their state has no Amazon warehouses or other business locations within the state.
To make sales tax matters even more ridiculous, states have determined that the tax be levied where service/product is delivered. So for a Cincinnati local landscaper who performs services in Hamilton, Clermont, Warren and Butler counties, they are required to collect sales tax for each of those counties.
If you have an internet company in Ohio, you'd be required to collect the sales tax for over 90 different taxing districts within the state, a logistical nightmare.
So for a company like Amazon, it behooves them to not deal with the over 8000 different taxing districts throughout the country.
Well, people like the Times don't like that............
BEFORE settling on Seattle as the home of Amazon.com, the founder, Jeff Bezos, considered placing the company on an Indian reservation near San Francisco. “This way, we could have access to talent without all the tax consequences,” he said in a 1996 interview with Fast Company.
The reservation couldn’t be used as a sales-tax haven, after all, Mr. Bezos said he learned, so he had to look elsewhere. Offering prices free of sales tax to customers in California, the most populous state, would be possible only if the company were placed elsewhere. “You have to charge sales tax to customers who live in any state where you have a business presence,” he said then.
Today, Amazon collects sales tax in only five states, which gives it a continuing advantage over companies who do collect them in all or most states. Competitors aren’t the only ones hurt by Amazon’s stance on sales taxes: it also means the loss of considerable revenue to states and localities that badly need it.
The thing that makes this so ridiculous is that all this could be averted if the states agreed on one simple principle; you collect the sales tax from where the sales originates. As a result, Amazon would be forced to at least charge the 8.5% Washington sales tax from customers.
But that doesn't work for states. Why? because it would create a natural advantage for states like Delaware who have no sales tax and we all know how governments love competition.
It’s a favorite government trick to announce bad news on a Friday afternoon, so it appears in Saturday’s paper, the least likely edition to be read. By Sunday and Monday, it’s old news. The Obama Treasury just went one better, announcing on Christmas Eve that they were uncapping the amount they believe will have to be invested in Fannie and Freddie. The Bush Treasury first estimated the government-sponsored enterprises’ (GSEs) losses at $100 billion each. The Obama administration, which has been using the GSEs to stabilize the housing market by reducing their underwriting standards, upped the ante to $200 billion each. Now the administration has thrown in the towel completely, and dropped a large lump of coal in each taxpayer’s stocking—it won’t even try to estimate the total losses of Fannie and Freddie.Anyone have a golf tee?
This is the culmination of an unprecedented policy disaster, inflicted on the American taxpayer by congressional supporters of Fannie and Freddie who refused over many years to approve new and tougher regulations for the two GSEs. Now that many of these folks are in charge of the House and Senate committees that deal with financial reform, they have suddenly found new respect for regulation and are trying to apply it to the entire financial system. Perhaps the American taxpayers, acting as voters in 2010, will decide that one disaster per career is all they should be allowed.
It's getting to the point where the twin news stories more or less write themselves. No sooner is the fanatical and homicidal Muslim arrested than it turns out that he (it won't be long until it is also she) has been known to the authorities for a long time. But somehow the watch list, the tipoff, the many worried reports from colleagues and relatives, the placing of the name on a "central repository of information" don't prevent the suspect from boarding a plane, changing planes, or bringing whatever he cares to bring onto a plane. This is now a tradition that stretches back to several of the murderers who boarded civilian aircraft on Sept. 11, 2001, having called attention to themselves by either a) being on watch lists already or b) weird behavior at heartland American flight schools. They didn't even bother to change their names.More....
So that's now more or less the routine for the guilty. (I am not making any presumption of innocence concerning Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.) But flick your eye across the page, or down it, and you will instantly see a different imperative for the innocent. "New Restrictions Quickly Added for Travelers," reads the inevitable headline just below the report on the notoriety of Abdulmutallab, whose own father had been sufficiently alarmed to report his son to the U.S. Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria, some time ago. (By the way, I make a safe prediction: Nobody in that embassy or anywhere else in our national security system will lose his or her job as a consequence of this most recent disgrace.)
In my boyhood, there were signs on English buses that declared, in bold letters, "No Spitting." At a tender age, I was able to work out that most people don't need to be told this, while those who do feel a desire to expectorate on public transport will require more discouragement than a mere sign. But I'd be wasting my time pointing this out to our majestic and sleepless protectors, who now boldly propose to prevent airline passengers from getting out of their seats for the last hour of any flight. Abdulmutallab made his bid in the last hour of his flight, after all. Yes, that ought to do it. It's also incredibly, nay, almost diabolically clever of our guardians to let it be known what the precise time limit will be. Oh, and by the way, any passenger courageous or resourceful enough to stand up and fight back will also have broken the brave new law.
As a follow up, she also announced that 80 year old women will be subject to full cavity searches to prevent additional attacks.
Monday, December 28, 2009
It’s much more likely not to happen than to happen but the clock is ticking for the death of Gary, Indiana. State law imposes property tax caps on all local governments far below the level Gary has grown accustomed to. Gary finances 80% of its $80M+ general fund operations through the use of property taxes. A vote on including the tax caps in Indiana’s Constitution is widely expected in 2010.
Gary has appealed and gotten special exemptions at a level unique in the state to maintain higher taxes while undergoing adjustments to bring government down to a size that can survive on anticipated revenue. Absent that relief, Gary’s 2010 property tax receipts would drop from a projected 62.9M to 28.1M.
As a condition of the transitional relief, a financial monitor was required for Gary and its related municipal districts (sanitary, storm water, public transport corp, and airport authority). The transition ends in 2012. If Gary has not adjusted sufficiently that it can handle somewhere between 20-30M less in revenue by that time, the 5th largest city in Indiana will be forced to declare bankruptcy.
Complicating matters are at least $34M in outstanding debts on top of its impending structural deficit. The term at least is used advisedly because unlike most cities, and most private organizations of its size and complexity, Gary uses a cash based accounting system. Future obligations that have not been presented for payment are not accounted for at all in a cash based system. The city government literally doesn’t have the capacity to accurately know what it owes. Because of the lack of information the financial monitor is forced to guess at some basic information.
The current Gary financial monitor’s report makes for frightening reading. Property tax revenue is scheduled to drop 50%+. There is no likelihood of a local income tax and Indiana does not share its sales tax revenue with local government. One of two casinos operating in Gary has entered bankruptcy and even before then a dispute with the casino operators disrupted payments to Gary. The bad news keeps on rolling for 265 pages.
What's so "progressive" about a city who can't even support a casino?
- They look for and find opportunities where others see nothing.
- They find a lesson while others only see a problem.
- They are solution focused.
- They consciously and methodically create their own success, while others hope success will find them.
- They are fearful like everyone else, but they are not controlled or limited by fear.
- They ask the right questions – the ones which put them in a productive, creative, positive mindset and emotional state.
- They rarely complain (waste of energy). All complaining does is put the complainer in a negative and unproductive state.
- They don’t blame (what’s the point?). They take complete responsibility for their actions and outcomes (or lack thereof).
- While they are not necessarily more talented than the majority, they always find a way to maximize their potential. They get more out of themselves. They use what they have more effectively.
- They are busy, productive and proactive. While most are laying on the couch, planning, over-thinking, sitting on their hands and generally going around in circles, they are out there getting the job done.
Just a wild guess but I'm thinking the more of these you answer no to, the more likely you voted for Barry and Co.
But in the case of health care, republicans did show up for a change.
How do I know? I read this piece defending Max Baucus's drunken tirade on the house floor where the writer laid out this claim.........
Now, if you can read that, and you can, then you have to agree Baucus was not "slurring" or "drunk" , or "slobbering" when he was speaking. Otherwise he could not have got off such a great blast against Wicker.
And Conservatives know it.
Rather, Baucus was just plain tired and really angry. The product of long hours of debate against Republicans who just don't play fair at all.
Baucus made a great point. People like Maine's Republican Senator Olympia Snowe were really interested in passing health care reform, but were relentlessly pressured into not doing so. Personally, I think they're on the wrong side of history.
The place to be
They watched the hazy sun
Sinking in the sea............
The "ought" decade was one promise after another turned into trauma for California. It began with a popular Democratic governor, judging from the voter majority that put him in office. But his popularity plummeted in tandem with the state's nosediving finances. The decade ends with a Republican governor who, at first, was every bit as popular, judging from the wide voter margin that elected him. His popularity and the state's finances likewise hit bottom. The chief distinction between Democrat Gray Davis and Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger may be that the former was recalled from office, and the latter will be permitted to finish his term next year. Perhaps Schwarzenegger was spared because voters remember the lousy results of the previous recall.
California's bipartisan gubernatorial failures were uncomfortably similar. Profligate spending, overextended borrowing and looming deficits were Davis' undoing. Schwarzenegger promised to "blow up the boxes" and cut up the credit cards, but ended up spending and borrowing on a par with, and sinking every bit as deep in debt, as Davis. This downward trajectory means Californians are among the highest-taxed, most over-regulated and poorly served citizens in the 50 states.
Yet to hear the pols tell it, it's those selfish voting bastards who refuse to accept more tax increases.
A little too much holiday cheer?
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Comedian and actor Sinbad reportedly owes the IRS over $8 million in unpaid taxes, and the feds want to foreclose on his home to pay off his outstanding tax liens.
The performer, whose real name is David Adkins, filed tax returns between 1998 and 2006, but failed to pay the taxes he reported, according to the Detroit News. The U.S. Attorney General’s Office in Los Angeles filed suit in a federal district court on Dec. 10 to foreclose on his home in Hidden Hills, Calif., to pay off the federal tax liens. The comedian made an offer in compromise in 2003, but the IRS rejected it
the following year after it had been outstanding for 313 days. Adkins then made a second offer in compromise in 2005, which the IRS accepted. But Adkins allegedly failed to comply with the terms and conditions of the second offer in compromise, and the IRS defaulted the second OIC against him in 2006.
Sinbad’s brother, Michael Adkins, is also named in the suit because the property was transferred to him after it was sold for $1,525,000 in 1997, but the Attorney General’s office claims the title to the property was held by Sinbad’s brother in name only. Sinbad and his company,
Afros & Bellbottoms Productions, have been paying the mortgage, homeowners association dues, utilities and property taxes since 1998. Michael Adkins has not been claiming the mortgage interest deduction for rental income for the property on his federal income tax returns.
The Attorney General is asking for $8,157,725.18, plus interest and statutory additions, along with lien fees and collection costs, as well as an order to foreclose on the federal tax liens against the property and order a sale of the property.
More than 276,000 federal employees and
retirees owed back income taxes as of Sept. 30, 2008, according to data from the Internal Revenue Service. The $3.04 billion owed was up from $2.7 billion owed by federal employees and retirees in 2007. Among cabinet agencies, the Department of Housing and Urban Development had the highest delinquency rate, at just over 4 percent.
Michelle Berry runs a private day-care service from her home on the outskirts of this city, the birthplace of General Motors. "The Berry Patch," as she calls the service, features overstuffed purple gorillas, giant cartoon murals, and a playroom covered in Astroturf. Her clients are mostly low-income parents who need child care to keep their jobs in a city that now has a 26% unemployment rate.
Ms. Berry owns her own business—yet the Michigan Department of Human Services claims she is a government employee and union member. The agency thus withholds union dues from the child-care subsidies it sends to her on behalf of her low-income clients. Those dues are funneled to a public-employee union that claims to represent her. The situation is crazy—and it's happening elsewhere in the country.
A year ago in December, Ms. Berry and more than 40,000 other home-based day care providers statewide were suddenly informed they were members of Child Care Providers Together Michigan—a union created in 2006 by the United Auto Workers and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The union had won a certification election conducted by mail under the auspices of the Michigan Employment Relations Commission. In that election only 6,000 day-care providers voted. The pro-labor vote turned out.
Many of the state's other 34,000 day-care providers never even realized what was going on. Ms. Berry tells us she was "shocked" to find out she was suddenly in a union. The real dirty work, however, had been done when the state created an "employer" for the union to "organize" against.
Of course, Michigan's independent day-care providers don't work for anybody except the parents who were their customers. Nevertheless, because some of these parents qualified for public subsidies, the Child Care Providers "union" claimed the providers were "public employees."
What's so "progressive" about 26% unemployment?
More lunacy here.....
The 16-year-old girl suspected of fatally stabbing an ex-con lashed out after he and a bevy of men chased her onto a Queens subway train and tried to fondle her, her mother said Friday.
Thomas Winston, 29, and a pack of thugs tried to pull Cyan Brown out of a subway car at the 21st St.-Queensbridge station about 9 p.m. Thursday following an altercation that began outside a nearby chicken restaurant, police and family said.
She fought back and stabbed Winston before she fled on a Manhattan-bound F train, police said.
Winston, the father of a 10-month-old girl,was pronounced dead at a Manhattan hospital.
Although police have not disclosed any official suspects, Brown's family said detectives have been trying to contact the girl in connection with Winston's death.
"The guys tried to feel up my daughter and the next thing I know, someone was knocking on my door saying Cyan stabbed someone," said Erika Brown, 40, the teen's mother.
Winston, who lived in a nearby shelter, had a long list of prior convictions that included criminal possession of a weapon and selling narcotics and also faced an attempted murder charge, sources said.
Friday, December 25, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
When Saul of Tarsus set out on his journey to Damascus the whole of the known world lay in bondage. There was one state, and it was Rome. There was one master for it all, and he was Tiberius Caesar.Read the rest......
Everywhere there was civil order, for the arm of the Roman law was long. Everywhere there was stability, in government and in society, for the centurions saw that it was so.
But everywhere there was something else, too. There was oppression—for those who were not the friends of Tiberius Caesar. There was the tax gatherer to take the grain from the fields and the flax from the spindle to feed the legions or to fill the hungry treasury from which divine Caesar gave largess to the people. There was the impressor to find recruits for the circuses. There were executioners to quiet those whom the Emperor proscribed. What was a man for but to serve Caesar?
There was the persecution of men who dared think differently, who heard strange voices or read strange manuscripts. There was enslavement of men whose tribes came not from Rome, disdain for those who did not have the familiar visage. And most of all, there was everywhere a contempt for human life. What, to the strong, was one man more or less in a crowded world?
Then, of a sudden, there was a light in the world, and a man from Galilee saying, Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's.
Thanks reader Bartman.......
As expected, Schaumburg trustees voted unanimously Tuesday night to impose the village's first property tax, adding about $252 to the tax bill for a home with an equalized assessed value of $50,000.
The vote left both residents and officials frustrated.
"I have no say-so in what you do with that money, I never did," said resident Joe Librizzi, one of eight residents from a crowd of 50 that spoke against the new tax.
Librizzi said the village's financial problems are, "just mismanagement of money," adding that officials were wrong to expect homeowners to bail them out.
"It's not fair -- it's not right," Librizzi said.
Officials counter that the prolonged recession has slashed the revenues the village has always relied on -- income and sales taxes -- at the same time costs for personnel, pensions and street repairs keep rising -- despite continuing cost-cutting efforts.
This is the thing that cracks me up about politicians, what does the average Joe do when their costs go up, like taxes? Who do they get to pass that cost on to; "despite continuing cost-cutting efforts"? But when it's a government, they just pass the costs right along.
Boy, I'm scratching my head wondering why revenue continues to drop.
Apparently, the democratic tent is so crowded people are being asked to leave.
Don't believe me, just ask Mr. Democrat, William Daley...
The announcement by Alabama Rep. Parker Griffith that he is switching to the Republican Party is just the latest warning sign that the Democratic Party -- my lifelong political home -- has a critical decision to make: Either we plot a more moderate, centrist course or risk electoral disaster not just in the upcoming midterms but in many elections to come.
Rep. Griffith's decision makes him the fifth centrist Democrat to either switch parties or announce plans to retire rather than stand for reelection in 2010. These announcements are a sharp reversal from the progress the Democratic Party made starting in 2006 and continuing in 2008, when it reestablished itself as the nation's majority party for the first time in more than a decade. That success happened for one major reason: Democrats made inroads in geographies and constituencies that had trended Republican since the 1960s. In these two elections, a majority of independents and a sizable number of moderate Republicans joined the traditional Democratic base to sweep Democrats to commanding majorities in Congress and to bring Barack Obama to the White House.
These independents and Republicans supported Democrats based on a message indicating that the party would be a true Big Tent -- that we would welcome a diversity of views even on tough issues such as abortion, gun rights and the role of government in the economy.
This call was answered not just by voters but by a surge of smart, talented candidates who came forward to run and win under the Democratic banner in districts dominated by Republicans for a generation. These centrists swelled the party's ranks in Congress and contributed to Obama's victories in states such as Indiana, North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado and other Republican bastions.
But now they face a grim political fate. On the one hand, centrist Democrats are being vilified by left-wing bloggers, pundits and partisan news outlets for not being sufficiently liberal, "true" Democrats. On the other, Republicans are pounding them for their association with a party that seems to be advancing an agenda far to the left of most voters.
The political dangers of this situation could not be clearer.
You are more than a welcome member of the democratic party as long as you believe in the hills they'll die on.....
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
New York and New Jersey would each lose one U.S. House seat while the Texas congressional delegation would increase by four members for the 2012 elections, according to two independent analyses of new Census Bureau data.
Seven other states would gain one representative apiece, all of them in the South and West, according to analyses by Polidata LLC, a demographic and political research firm based in Corinth, Vermont, and Manassas, Virginia-based Election Data Services Inc.
New York and New Jersey are among nine states that would lose one seat; Ohio would lose two. Except for Louisiana, the states that would shed lawmakers are all in the Northeast and Midwest, continuing a decades-long trend.
“People like to live where the jobs are, and until they get jobs in the Midwest or Northeast, that’s going to be a problem” for those regions, said Clark Bensen, chief consultant for Polidata.
A bipartisan commission draws congressional district lines in New Jersey, where the Democrats currently hold eight of 13 seats. In New York, where there are 27 Democrats and two Republicans in the delegation, the governor and legislature control redistricting.
‘More at Stake’
With Democrats currently holding both houses of the New York legislature and the governorship, one of the two remaining Republican-held districts is likely to be eliminated unless the party recaptures the Senate or the Executive Mansion in 2010.
“Clearly there’s more at stake in the next election than who takes office because of the redistricting,” said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion in Poughkeepsie, New York.
States that would gain one representative, based on the analyses of the Census Bureau estimates, are Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington.
The other states that would lose one seat are Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota and Pennsylvania, according to the analyses.
And still no one in the media can seem to make the connection between blue states and depressed economies.
If you need supplies for your celebration click here
In addition, if you feel the need to air your issues with this blog, there's a place to enter your "Airing of the Greivances".
Americans, it seems, still have a love affair with the West. Texas and Wyoming were the big winners in the Census Bureau's annual population estimates, which were released on Wednesday. The population of the United States has grown more than 9% to 307,006,550 since the 2000 census. The population grew 0.86% since last year's estimates.
Kind of funny how that whole thing works isn't it?
Thanks to reader Jeremy for the link.........
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration today publicly released its review of the IRS’s ability to verify taxpayer eligibility for tax benefits and credits provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
The Recovery Act contains 56 tax provisions with a potential cost of more than $325 billion that are intended to provide tax relief for individuals and businesses. These include 20 provisions for individuals that provide tax relief to working or retired Americans and their families. Thirty-six additional provisions provide tax relief and incentives for businesses, including provisions that encourage investment in sources of renewable energy and promote the hiring of unemployed veterans. They also allow for the sale of bonds to provide for construction, financing, environmental and manufacturing improvements.
TIGTA found that the IRS is unable to verify taxpayer eligibility for the majority of Recovery Act tax benefits and credits at the time a tax return is processed. This includes 13 of the 20 benefits and credits for individual taxpayers and 26 of the tax provisions benefiting businesses.
You just can't make up how brazen this crowd is. One week ago, President Obama quietly signed an executive order that makes an international police force immune from the restraints of American law.
Interpol is the shorthand for the International Criminal Police Organization. It was established in 1923 and operates in about 188 countries. By executive order 12425, issued in 1983, President Reagan recognized Interpol as an international organization and gave it some of the privileges and immunities customarily extended to foreign diplomats. Interpol, however, is also an active law-enforcement agency, so critical privileges and immunities (set forth in Section 2(c) of the International Organizations Immunities Act) were withheld. Specifically, Interpol's property and assets remained subject to search and seizure, and its archived records remained subject to public scrutiny under provisions like the Freedom of Information Act. Being constrained by the Fourth Amendment, FOIA, and other limitations of the Constitution and federal law that protect the liberty and privacy of Americans is what prevents law-enforcement and its controlling government authority from becoming tyrannical.
On Wednesday, however, for no apparent reason, President Obama issued an executive order removing the Reagan limitations. That is, Interpol's property and assets are no longer subject to search and confiscation, and its archives are now considered inviolable. This international police force (whose U.S. headquarters is in the Justice Department in Washington) will be unrestrained by the U.S. Constitution and American law while it operates in the United States and affects both Americans and American interests outside the United States.
Interpol works closely with international tribunals (such as the International Criminal Court — which the United States has refused to join because of its sovereignty surrendering provisions, though top Obama officials want us in it). It also works closely with foreign courts and law-enforcement authorities (such as those in Europe that are investigating former Bush administration officials for purported war crimes — i.e., for actions taken in America's defense).
Why would we elevate an international police force above American law? Why would we immunize an international police force from the limitations that constrain the FBI and other American law-enforcement agencies? Why is it suddenly necessary to have, within the Justice Department, a repository for stashing government files which, therefore, will be beyond the ability of Congress, American law-enforcement, the media, and the American people to scrutinize?
Steve Schippert has more at ThreatsWatch, here.
Where's the outrage!? Where are all the ACLU types who were bitching 13 months ago about warrantless wiretaps?
This is a much more egregious assault on Constitutional rights than listening to foreigners on the telephone.
But no one in the mainstream media will lift a finger to ask the question.
A retired Florida couple would appear an unlikely source to have given $83,000 in campaign donations over a five-year period to members of Congress from all over the country.
Both in their 80s, they lived in a $118,000 Daytona Beach house they didn't own; they each voted only twice since 1992; and they seemed to lack the financial means to make the contributions.
Yet, both were listed as having given dozens of donations to lawmakers, nearly half of which went to members of the House Appropriations Committee - legislators who were especially important to their then-son-in-law, superlobbyist Paul Magliocchetti, who owned the house in which they lived.
Mr. Magliocchetti is now the focus of a federal investigation into whether he made illegal campaign contributions by reimbursing people, or "straw donors," who made contributions in their names to his favored candidates - helping the lobbyist avoid federal limits on his personal donations.
In addition to the elderly couple, The Washington Times has identified several other campaign contributors related to or associated with Mr. Magliocchetti who also do not appear to have had the financial means to make the donations listed in their names or who gave to candidates to whom they normally would not be expected to contribute.
Mr. Magliocchetti is a one-time congressional staffer who worked with Rep. John P. Murtha, Pennsylvania Democrat, on the powerful House Appropriations defense subcommittee in the 1980s. He built his company, the PMA Group, into one of the 10 top-grossing lobbying firms in Washington before it imploded after federal agents raided it and his home in November 2008.
Is it possible to see an article about ethics violations without Murtha's name in it?
Earlier this year, Congress approved a scheme to pour $80 billion — on top of the tens of billions already spent — into renewables. A government report released last week indicates the money will be wasted.
Renewable energy is the shiny gem that everyone wants but no one can have. Not even a president. Campaigning last year in Lansing, Mich., President Barack Obama said that it was his goal for the U.S. to generate 10% of its electric power from renewable sources by 2012 and 25% by 2025. But he cannot, by the force of will or executive order, change the laws of physics and economics.
Heaven forbid they invest in this crazy technology called nuclear.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
D.C.'s elected officials doled out tens of millions of public dollars in earmarks to groups that owed back taxes or weren't registered to do business in the District, that spent their money solely on salaries or on questionable "fiscal agents" and often co-mingled public funds, a damning new audit has found.
The city council handed out 154 earmarks worth nearly $48 million in fiscal 2009, but in a new report, Auditor Deborah Nichols concludes that the money went out with "no credible review process." It exposed taxpayer funds to groups that weren't registered to do business in the District, owed the public back taxes or spent the money on salaries, "administrative costs" or fringe benefits.
Nichols' investigation was prompted by revelations that Councilman Marion Barry, D-Ward 8, was steering money to women with whom he was romantically involved. But her 21-page audit casts a wider net and raises questions about the entire earmarking program.
Main Street has had a tough year, losing jobs and seeing little evidence of the economic revival that experts say has already begun.
But K Street is raking it in.
Washington’s influence industry is on track to shatter last year’s record $3.3 billion spent to lobby Congress and the rest of the federal government — and that’s with a down economy and about 1,500 fewer registered lobbyists in town, according to data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics.
Many lobbying firms have escaped the worst of the corporate belt-tightening, thanks, in large part, to the ambitious agenda set out by President Barack Obama — who, ironically, came to Washington with a pledge to break what he considered the undue influence of special-interest lobbyists.
Plenty of sectors have scaled back their K Street spending, including traditional big spenders like real estate and telecommunications. But Obama’s push for legislation on health reform, financial reform and climate change has compensated for the grim economic times.
And that’s after Obama kicked off the year with a massive economic stimulus package — and every major business sector tried to get a piece of the action.
“Lobbyists love it ... when you’ve got an activist agenda like this, and you’ve got serious problems like this, and people want to do something about it,” said James Thurber, director of American University’s Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies.
I don't know why
You call some place Paradise
Kiss it goodbye....
The Obama administration's new plan to give a boost to small businesses reflects continued trouble in that sector, which is facing new failures even as much of the nation's economy is stabilizing.
As credit lines have shrunk and consumers have cut back on spending, thousands of small businesses have closed their doors over the last year. The plight of struggling firms has been aggravated by the reluctance of banks to lend money, said Brian Headd, an economist at the Small Business Administration's office of advocacy.
"While bankruptcies are up, overall, small-business closures are up even more," Headd said.
California has been particularly hard hit. The latest data show small-business bankruptcies up 81% in the state for the 12 months ended Sept. 30, compared with the previous year. Filings nationwide were up 44%, according to the credit analysis firm Equifax Inc.
The actual number of small businesses in trouble is probably higher, experts said, because many owners file for personal bankruptcy rather than seek protection for the business.
Dennis McGoldrick, a bankruptcy lawyer in Torrance, said his clients are all stuck in similar situations -- capital is hard to come by, customers are tough to attract and debt is piling up.
"We can't keep up," McGoldrick said. "There's more people that want to come in every day than I can see."
Cecily McAlpine, who filed for bankruptcy protection for her Cold Stone Creamery franchise this spring, said the experience was humiliating but she had no choice.
Receipts at the fledgling Compton ice cream shop plunged dramatically during the recession, and by late 2008 she was paying her employees out of her pocket.
"When the refrigerator died, that was it; I'd just had it," McAlpine said. "That was the day I broke. I just started throwing stuff away."
What's so "progressive" about bankruptcy?
What will these women do when the read this........
could be one of the environment's worst enemies, according to a new study which says the carbon pawprint of a pet dog is more than double that of a gas-guzzling .More.....
But the revelation in the book "Time to Eat the Dog: The Real Guide to Sustainable Living" by New Zealanders Robert and Brenda Vale has angered pet owners who feel they are being singled out as troublemakers.
The Vales, specialists in sustainable living at Victoria University of Wellington, analysed popular brands of pet food and calculated that a medium-sized dog eats around 164 kilos (360 pounds) of meat and 95 kilos of cereal a year.
Combine the land required to generate its food and a "medium" sized dog has an annual footprint of 0.84 hectares (2.07 acres) -- around twice the 0.41 hectares required by a 4x4 driving 10,000 kilometres (6,200 miles) a year, including energy to build the car.
To confirm the results, the New Scientist magazine askedat the in York, Britain, to calculate eco-pawprints based on his own data. The results were essentially the same.
"Owning a dog really is quite an extravagance, mainly because of theof meat," Barrett said.
Other animals aren't much better for the environment, the Vales say.
Cats have an eco-footprint of about 0.15 hectares, slightly less than driving afor a year, while two hamsters equates to a plasma television and even the humble goldfish burns energy equivalent to two mobile telephones.
Smashed in democratic headquarter windows? In November, 2008, did Mo here vote for The Maverick or The Messiah?
Activist Maurice Joseph Schwenkler, 24, pleaded guilty Monday to a second-degree misdemeanor for smashing windows at the Colorado Democratic Party headquarters last summer.
He received one year of probation and was ordered to pay $5,000 in restitution for the Aug. 25 incident at the party headquarters at West Eighth Avenue and Santa Fe Drive, according to the Denver district attorney's office.
Schwenkler and an accomplice, who was never identified, took a hammer to 11 plate-glass windows. Police caught them in the act, and Schwenkler was arrested.
Ooops! I forgot this tidbit of information.........
Anarchist websites across the country raised money for Schwenkler's $5,000 bail, and identified him as "a transgendered anarchist" using the name Ariel Attack. Authorities have consistently identified him as male.
The gay, lesbian and transgender protest group Denver Bash Back characterized Schwenkler as one of its "friends and comrades."
Does that change your original answer?
The City of Chicago will be shutting down early for the Christmas holiday, as part of Mayor Daley's plan to save the cash-strapped city money.
City Hall, public libraries, health clinics and most other city offices will be closed on Christmas Eve as those city workers are being forced to take the day off without pay.
Police and Fire Department operations are not affected and will remain fully staffed. Any other worker needed to provide for the public's safety will also be on the job.
As part of the 2009 budget, three reduced-service days were planned for 2009: Aug. 17, the Friday after Thanksgiving; and Christmas Eve.
The city expects to save $8.3 million.
"Every dollar we save from these measures helps to save jobs, and in the long-term, maintain services for Chicagoans," Mayor Daley said in a statement. "This plan relies on most of our civilian employees to be part of the solution to our very serious budget challenges. I want to thank them again for their efforts."
So let me make sure I've got this right. The way "progressives" handle a budget deficit is to limit the very services the residents were told were necessary to fund with their tax dollars?
What's so "progressive" about a city government not doing it's job?
I assumed that this movie was a satirical look at the notion of Intelligent Design.
Was I wrong.
This is actually a very sober look at how science "community" has snubbed dissent and can be applied to the global warming scam and the health care debate.
I would encourage you to watch.
Monday, December 21, 2009
But if that's the case, maybe some "progressive" out there can explain how it is that congressional democrats are killing the DC voucher program; a wildly popular and effective program for DC's poor children to receive liberty from the slavery known as DC Public schools.........
On Sunday the Senate approved a spending bill that phases out funding for the five-year-old program. Several prominent Senators this week sent a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid pleading for a reconsideration. Signed by Independent-Democrat Joe Lieberman, Democrats Robert Byrd and Dianne Feinstein, and Republicans Susan Collins and John Ensign, it asked to save a program that has "provided a lifeline to many low-income students in the District of Columbia." President Obama signed the bill Thursday.
The program's popularity has generated long waiting lists. A federal evaluation earlier this year said the mostly black and Hispanic participants are making significant academic gains and narrowing the achievement gap. But for the teachers unions, this just can't happen. The National Education Association instructed Democratic lawmakers to kill it.
"Opposition to vouchers is a top priority for NEA," declared the union in a letter sent to every Democrat in the House and Senate in March. "We expect that Members of Congress who support public education, and whom we have supported, will stand firm against any proposal to extend the pilot program. Actions associated with these issues WILL be included in the NEA Legislative Report Card for the 111th Congress."
Senator Dick Durbin, who heads the subcommittee that oversees funding, has been saying for the better part of a year that he's open to supporting the program's continuation if certain conditions were met. In retrospect, this looks like bad faith.
Earlier this year, Mr. Durbin said the local D.C. Council needed to sign off on the program before Congress could reauthorize it. The council did exactly that, sending Congress a letter expressing solid support for the scholarships. Senator Durbin then said he wants participating schools to administer the same exams to voucher students that D.C. public school students take. Done, said proponents.
The program's supporters now feel they've been had. "Durbin has engaged in that classic game of moving the goal posts," says Kevin Chavous, a former D.C. council member and one of many local Democratic leaders who back school vouchers. "He's just been less than honest. He's made promises to colleagues and school leaders—like Michelle Rhee, our schools Chancellor—saying, 'All I need is this.' But the reality is that they've been finding reasons not to support the program."
The voucher program is closed to new students. "It's duplicitous and shameful," says Mr. Chavous. Strong language. But if you're a kid in D.C. trying to escape its awful schools, maybe not strong enough.
Babs Boxer once demanded that she be addressed as "senator". I suggest that she be addressed as Snowball, one of the Animal Farm characters.