Friday, November 30, 2012

Socialism v. Capitalism

At Bookworm Room, "Found it on Facebook — Socialism versus Capitalism."

Socialism v. Capitalism

After you read Bookworm, head back over to my earlier entry, "Campaign for America's Future, Top Democrat Activist Group, Launches Class-Warfare Website." We have socialists like this right up in the top echelons of the Democrat Party hierarchy.

Rebecca Rubin Turns Herself In

At Blazing Cat Fur, "Canadian Fugitive Surrenders at Border in Nation’s Largest Eco-Terrorism Case."

And at CSM, "Fugitive in eco-terrorism case turns herself in at US-Canada border":
After a decade on the run, a fugitive in the largest eco-terrorism case in US history has turned herself in to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Rebecca Jeanette Rubin, a Canadian citizen who had been living recently in Canada, surrendered to federal agents on Thursday at the international border with Canada in Blaine, Wash., according to federal officials.

Following an initial appearance in US District Court in Seattle, she was expected to be transferred to Oregon to stand trial on federal charges including arson, use of a destructive device, and conspiracy.

Ms. Rubin is alleged to have been part of the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and Animal Liberation Front (ALF), militant environmental groups that used violence to fight back against those they deemed harmful to the environment.

Rubin is accused of plotting with 12 others to carry out 20 acts of arson from 1996 to 2001 in five Western states. The groups sought to intimidate government agencies, private businesses, and local residents through planned acts of sabotage.

Members of the group, including Rubin, allegedly set fires in October 1998 that destroyed Two Elk Lodge and other buildings at the Vail ski area in Eagle County, Colorado. She is charged with involvement in the November 1997 arson attack on the US Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horse and Burro Facility near Burns, Ore., and a December 1998 attempted arson at the offices of US Forest Industries in Medford, Ore.
Check both those links up top for more information. Progressives are terrorists, only some more explicitly so than others.

GOP Rejects Obama Opening Bid in Fiscal Cliff Negotiations

At the clip is Donald Marron of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, a center-left think tank. Taxes are going to hit just about everyone if we go over the cliff, and hit hard.

Meanwhile, the White House's opening bid is a staggering example of progressive extremism and contempt for commonsense budget discipline. Especially egregious is the call for increasing the federal government's debt limit. The Los Angeles Times reports, "Boehner: 'Fiscal cliff' talks hit 'stalemate'":

Republicans had harsh words for the offer Obama’s Treasury secretary presented this week to avert the year-end fiscal crisis of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts. Obama proposed generating new revenue by allowing existing tax rates on to expire for those earning above $250,000 for couples, or $200,000 for single households. The highest rate would revert from 35% to 39.6%. Obama would also end the historically low 15% tax rate on capital gains and dividends for these upper-income households, taxing dividends at ordinary income tax rates and increasing the capital gains rate to 20%.

“Laughable” and “absolutely insulting” were among the comments coming from Republicans over the White House offer, which was essentially a reprise of the president’s earlier budget proposal to Congress. GOP lawmakers also objected to Obama’s calls to renew stimulus spending to spur the economy, aid homeowners in refinancing mortgages and extend long-term unemployment benefits.

Republicans want Obama to put deeper spending cuts on the table in exchange for their offer to produce new revenue by capping deductions and lowering rates to generate economic growth – a proposal that experts say does not add up unless you extract more money from middle-class households.

“Increasing tax rates draws money away from our economy that needs to be invested in our economy to put people back to work,” Boehner said. “It’s the wrong approach.”

As Obama seizes the bully-pulpit in a very high-profile public relations campaign, Republicans have both criticized and copied the approach – embarking on their own counter-campaign on Twitter and traditional media, while complaining the president should spend more time negotiating in Washington.

Republicans took particular aim at Obama’s visit Friday to a small business, as they argued that companies would be especially hurt by the tax hikes because many owners of small businesses file individual income tax returns.

Studies have shown nearly 3% of the small businesses earn enough income to be hit by the higher tax, about 900,000 businesses.

No talks are scheduled as the impasse deepens. If no agreement is reached by year's end, the combination of higher taxes and deep spending cuts would rattle the fragile economy. Tax rates are set to automatically rise on Jan. 1 – resulting in a $2,200 tax hike on ordinary Americans; at the same time, previously agreed to spending cuts would begin Jan. 2, slicing through the federal budget.

Doing nothing could tip the economy into another recession, economists have warned, especially as Wall Street is eager for a deal that would fundamentally reform tax and spending to lower the nation’s annual deficits.
And see also Charles Krauthammer, "Cliff-jumping with Barack":
Obama is claiming an electoral mandate to raise taxes on the top 2 percent. Perhaps, but remember those incessant campaign ads promising a return to the economic nirvana of the Clinton years? Well, George W. Bush cut rates across the board, not just for the top 2 percent. Going back to the Clinton rates means middle-class tax hikes that yield four times the revenue that you get from just the rich.

So give Obama the full Clinton. Let him live with that. And with what also lies on the other side of the cliff: 28 million Americans newly subject to the ruinous alternative minimum tax.

Republicans must stop acting like supplicants. If Obama so loves those Clinton rates, Republicans should say: Then go over the cliff and have them all.
Hear, hear. Fuck Obama. I don't believe at all that he has the upper hand in negotiations. His political capital is limited. He's a lame duck now. It's four and out after January 20th, unless he's able to declare himself president-for-life, a possibility with a snowball's chance for even this authoritarian of an administration. Republican should hang a rejection of the deal like a Christmas wreath around the president's neck. Send him home for the holidays with those tax increases. Everyone will get plenty of the blame, but bet your bottom dollar that the public won't buy the argument that it's all the GOP's fault. This White House said that it wouldn't raise taxes on the middle class, a pledge that's already being broken with the ObamaCare monstrosity. Another shot of tax increases will only wear the patience of a public that decided to give the president more time to fix the economy. Instead they'll find the he fixed their finances for the worse.

I'll have more. Meanwhile, there's lots more at Memeorandum.

Costco to Pay Out Current Year Dividends to Avoid Obama Tax Cliff

Sometimes plain old economics trumps any other form of behavior, such as benevolence or political loyalty. And in the case of Costco's corporate board, behold how onerous tax policies impose massive constraints on otherwise publicly spirited entities and individuals.

A really laugh, at the Wall Street Journal, "Costco's Dividend Tax Epiphany":
When President Obama needed a business executive to come to his campaign defense, Jim Sinegal was there. The Costco co-founder, director and former CEO even made a prime-time speech at the Democratic Party convention in Charlotte. So what a surprise this week to see that Mr. Sinegal and the rest of the Costco board voted to give themselves a special dividend to avoid Mr. Obama's looming tax increase. Is this what the President means by "tax fairness"?

Specifically, the giant retailer announced Wednesday that the company will pay a special dividend of $7 a share this month. That's a $3 billion Christmas gift for shareholders that will let them be taxed at the current dividend rate of 15%, rather than next year's rate of up to 43.4%—an increase to 39.6% as the Bush-era rates expire plus another 3.8% from the new ObamaCare surcharge.

More striking is that Costco also announced that it will borrow $3.5 billion to finance the special payout. Dividends are typically paid out of earnings, either current or accumulated. But so eager are the Costco executives to get out ahead of the tax man that they're taking on debt to do so.

Shareholders were happy as they bid up shares by more than 5% in two days. But the rating agencies were less thrilled, as Fitch downgraded Costco's credit to A+ from AA-. Standard & Poor's had been watching the company for a potential upgrade but pulled the watch on the borrowing news.

We think companies can do what they want with their cash, but it's certainly rare to see a public corporation weaken its balance sheet not for investment in the future but to make a one-time equity payout. It's a good illustration of the way that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's near-zero interest rates are combining with federal tax policy to distort business decisions.

One of the biggest dividend winners will be none other than Mr. Sinegal, who owns about two million shares, while his wife owns another 84,669. At $7 a share, the former CEO will take home roughly $14 million. At a 15% tax rate he'll get to keep nearly $12 million of that windfall, while at next year's rate of 43.4% he'd take home only about $8 million. That's a lot of extra cannoli.

This isn't exactly the tone of, er, shared sacrifice that Mr. Sinegal struck on stage in Charlotte. He described Mr. Obama as "a President making an economy built to last," adding that "for companies like Costco to invest, grow, hire and flourish, the conditions have to be right. That requires something from all of us." But apparently $4 million less from Mr. Sinegal.

By the way, the Costco board also includes at least two other prominent tub-thumpers for higher taxes— William Gates Sr. and Charles Munger. Mr. Gates, the father of Microsoft's Bill Gates, has campaigned against repealing the death tax and led the fight to impose an income tax via referendum in Washington state in 2010. It lost. Mr. Munger is Warren Buffett's longtime Sancho Panza at Berkshire Hathaway BRKB +0.13% and has spoken approvingly of a value-added tax that would stick it to the middle class.

Costco's chief financial officer, Richard Galanti, confirms that every member of the board is also a shareholder. Based on the most recent publicly available data, they own more than 4.1 million shares and more than 1.3 million options to purchase additional shares. At $7 a share, the dividend will distribute roughly $29 million to the board, including Mr. Sinegal's $14 million—at a collective tax saving of about $8 million. Even more cannoli.
These idiots who pound the table for higher taxes are the first to cash out when the bill's about to come due for the rest of us. Gee thanks Baracky!

And it's worth linking Greg Makiw's recent piece on Buffett, "A Master of Tax Avoidance."

Even Far Left New York Times Slamming Obama's Unprecedented Violations of Constitutional Law and International Human Rights

Well, this is interesting, at the Old Grey Lady, "Rules for Targeted Killing":

Pakistan Drone Deaths

The White House reportedly is developing rules for when to kill terrorists around the world. The world may never see them, given the Obama administration’s inclination toward unnecessary secrecy regarding its national security policy. But the effort itself is a first step toward acknowledging that when the government kills people away from the battlefield, it must stay within formal guidelines based on the rule of law — especially when the life of an American citizen is at stake.

For eight years, the United States has conducted but never formally acknowledged a program to kill terrorists associated with Al Qaeda and the Taliban away from the battlefield in Afghanistan. Using drones, the Central Intelligence Agency has made 320 strikes in Pakistan since 2004, killing 2,560 or more people, including at least 139 civilians, according to the Long War Journal, a Web site that tracks counterterrorism operations. Another 55 strikes took place in Yemen.

Administration officials have never explained in any detail how these targets are chosen. Are they killing people only associated with groups that participated in the Sept. 11 attacks, the limitation imposed by Congress when it authorized military force in 2001? Or are they free to remove any threat to the United States they perceive? Officials insist they go after only actual belligerents covered in the 2001 legislation, but the public and the world have no way of knowing whether these decisions are made ad hoc, or how they would be interpreted by future presidents.

Before the election, when it looked as if Mitt Romney had a chance of winning the White House, administration officials began codifying these rules, according to a recent report in The Times by Scott Shane. Mr. Obama did not want to leave an “amorphous” program to his successor, one official told Mr. Shane anonymously.

That impulse was right, even if the reasoning was wrong. The rules for killing shouldn’t be amorphous simply because Mr. Romney might have taken over; they need to rigorous and formalized for Mr. Obama, too. If he sets proper boundaries, it would create a precedent that his successors would have to justify breaking....

Mr. Obama has acknowledged the need for a “legal architecture” to be put in place “to make sure that not only am I reined in but any president’s reined in.” Yet his administration has resisted legal efforts by The Times and the American Civil Liberties Union to make public its secret legal opinions on these killings. Once the rules are completed, they should be shown to a world skeptical of countries that use deadly force without explanation.
This is the most secretive presidential administration in history, and the Times would do well to push as hard against Obama as it did against President Bush. Recall that the Times was willing to sabotage the Bush administration's foreign surveillance programs, so no doubt such treasonous undermining of national security would be hard to match. I'll simply concede that the Times is on the right track in highlighting the unprecedented violations of law and international norms under this president. But to be consistent the paper should be calling for congressional action, and in the event of executive branch resistance, stonewalling, and cover-up, the initiation of impeachment proceedings in the House of Representatives.

PHOTO: PressTV, "Survey reveals US covers up civilian victims of drone strikes in Pakistan."

Los Angeles/Long Beach Port Strike

Michelle Malkin reports, "Port strike update: SoCal at a standstill, shippers move to Mexico, retailers beg Obama for help."

Michelle's discussing the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (featured at the front-page of today's L.A. Times), and she writes:
I am going to continue to post and re-post the FACTS about the striking ILWU clerical workers because pushback against Big Labor’s false narratives is vital. The rest of America’s workers (and those seeking work) need to know what these goons are really up to as they monkey-wrench the economy. The OCU [clerical workers' union] enjoy extremely generous paid time off benefits (with average absenteeism from vacation, sick leave, holidays, and other leaves totaling over 29%, or three and one-half months, of the year). In the face of this absenteeism, the OCU demand that when employees are absent, for whatever reason, the employers must call in a temporary employee to fill the vacancy on the first day and for the duration of the vacancy.
• The OCU also insist that the employers hire a new employee every time an employee retires or quits, even if there is no work for the new employee to perform.
• The OCU’s last written proposal before the strike includes an unlawful demand that employers convert some managers to union-represented clerks as a reward for giving the OCU misleading and/or false information that the OCU sought to use against the employers during contract negotiations…The OCU are already the highest paid clerical workers in America. The employers’ latest proposals would increase OCU annual compensation packages to over $190,000 in wages and benefits by 2016, including:
• Average annual wages up to approximately $90,000;
• Pensions of up to $75,000 per year;
• Maintenance of all benefits in the OCU’s extremely generous health plan, for which the OCU pay nothing (benefits include, e.g., $0 co-pay for generic drugs; $0 for x-rays, diagnostics, and lab tests; $5 office visit co-pays; 90% coverage for infertility; and more);
• Maintenance of all other employment benefits (an average of 12 weeks of paid time off every year; meal and transportation allowances; early retirement with full benefits; education reimbursement; etc.).
Retailers have asked the White House for help. Good luck with that.
Check Michelle's post for all the links. And also, "Port strike watch: ILWU’s shutdown spreads across L.A. and Long Beach."

Harry Bridges
The ILWU's one of the most militantly radical union organization in the U.S. Founding president Harry Bridges (pictured above with Vyacheslav Molotov, Soviet Foreign Minister under Joseph Stalin), was a secret member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and a suspected agent of Moscow. He led the union through the storied 1934 West Coast Longshore Strike, which is widely cited as a seminal event in the revolutionary workers' battles in U.S. labor history. Today, despite mainstream reports to the contrary, the ILWU has worked closely with the anarcho-communist Occupy Movement to shut down West Coast ports as part of organized labor's revolutionary agitation to destroy capitalism and bring the "ruling classes" to their knees.

The New Honda Civic

Here's my report from 2011: "Dan Neil Reviews the 2012 Honda Civic."

And here's this from this morning's Los Angeles Times, "L.A. Auto Show: Honda rushes to redesign lackluster Civic":
Through 10 months of this year, no compact car has sold better than the Honda Civic. Not the Toyota Corolla, the Ford Focus, the Chevy Cruze nor the Hyundai Elantra.

That's nothing new for Honda or its popular economy car, long a favorite of car critics. Such are the royalties earned from years of consistent reliability, fuel efficiency and strong resale value.

And yet Honda on Thursday trotted out a thoroughly updated Civic at the Los Angeles Auto Show, hoping in part to appease auto critics who almost universally panned the 2012 redesign. The hard plastic interior was called cut-rate, the road and wind noise excessive, the handling sloppy. Consumer Reports, the endorsement perhaps most prized by automakers, stripped the Civic of its “recommended” label in an increasingly competitive small car segment.

The company was caught off guard by the rapidly improving quality of the Civic's peers.

"We underestimated the expectations ... that [customers] had for Honda," said John Mendel, executive vice president for Honda America. So the company scrambled to make the Civic competitive, Mendel said.

Photos: Honda rushes redesign of new Civic

Acknowledging the car's weaknesses, the company recently invited reporters to drive the before and after versions at its U.S. headquarters in Torrance, using the current car as the foil to highlight the virtues of its replacement.

If a short preview drive is any indication, Honda can expect continued sales success.
I'm glad they reworked it. I might get another one of those things. Who knows?

Continue reading at the link.

Campaign for America's Future, Top Democrat Activist Group, Launches Class-Warfare Website

In a stunning embrace of political terminology normally associated with political polarization and vile anti-Americanism, top Democrat Party activists, led by long time progressive leader Robert Borosage, have launched an initiative to push economic warfare against conservatives and Republicans. Aaron Klein reports, at WND, "Democrat Operatives Launch Class-Warfare Website":

Robert Borosage
A George Soros-funded radical think tank with close ties to the Democratic Party has launched a new website urging politicians and activists to wage class warfare while hailing what it calls a new era in politics – the use of class warfare to win elections. was launched last week by the Campaign for America’s Future, or CAF.

CAF’s co-director, Robert Borosage, explained the need for such a website.

“America’s growing diversity and its increasingly socially liberal attitudes played a big role in this election. But looking back, we are likely to see this as the first of the class warfare elections of our new Gilded Age of extreme inequality,” he wrote in a statement.

“More and more of our elections going forward will feature class warfare – only this time with the middle class fighting back. And candidates are going to have to be clear about which side they are on,” he wrote.

Continued Borosage: “In 2012, candidates who supported the economic interests of the many over the few won their elections. Populism was the voice, but economic opportunity was the message. The pundits may wring their hands, but in the future it won’t be values voters, angry white men or soccer moms that win elections. It will be class war.”

The website does not feature a mission statement and is unclear about exactly how the group will go about attempting to wage class warfare.

The site explains how Obama’s 2012 campaign utilized class warfare and set the stage for the deployment of such tactics in future elections.
Continue reading Klein's report here.

But readers can go right to the website, which features Borosage's introductory exhortation for the progressive class-warfare agenda, "Waging Class War":
Needless to say, Obama is neither by temperament nor predilection a populist class warrior. But faced with potential defeat, he turned to what works. The depths of the Obama presidency came in the summer of 2011 after the debt ceiling debacle, in which the president was roughed up by Tea Party zealots, and emerged looking weak and ineffective.

Obama came back by deciding to stop seeking back-room compromises with people intent on destroying him and to start making his case. In the fall, he put out the American Jobs Act and stumped across the country demanding that Republicans vote on it. His standing in the polls began to rise. Then Occupy Wall Street exploded, driving America’s extreme inequality and rigged system into the debate. In December, the president embraced the frame: He traveled to Osawatomie, Kansas, revisiting a campaign stop Teddy Roosevelt had made in the first Gilded Age. He indicted the “you’re on your own” economics of Republicans while arguing that “this is a make-or-break moment for the middle class, and for all those who are fighting to get into the middle class.”

In the run-up to the election, the president’s campaign employed two basic strategies. First, the president consolidated his own coalition. He defended contraception and pay equity while his campaign attacked the Republican “war on women.” He reached out to Hispanics by ending the threat of deportation for the Dream kids. He not only ended “don’t ask, don’t tell,” but also moved to embrace gay marriage. Widely described as socially liberal measures, these were also profoundly bread-and-butter concerns. Could women choose when to have children? Could Hispanic children be free to pursue the American dream? Could gay people gain the economic benefits of marriage?

At the same time, the president’s campaign made a risky but remarkably successful decision. Their opinion research showed that painting Romney as a flip-flopper had little traction, but the attacks on vulture capitalism hit home. They decided to spend big money early in such key states as Ohio on a negative ad barrage defining Romney as the heartless vulture capitalist from Bain. Both campaigns believe that Romney never recovered.
And the conclusion to Borosage's declaration of war:
More and more of our elections going forward will feature class warfare — only this time with the middle class fighting back. And candidates are going to have to be clear about which side they are on. Politicians in both parties are now hearing CEOs telling them that it is time for a deal that cuts Medicare and Social Security benefits in exchange for tax reform that lowers rates and closes loopholes. Before they take that advice, they might just want to look over their shoulders at what will be coming at them.
This is very useful, for it puts the lie to the left's own words that this president was going to heal the country's divisions and govern as a post-partisan leader amid the emergence of transcendent progressive benevolence. There have been so many lies over the last few years, but this is one of the biggest, now actually embraced by top Democrats as a badge of honor and a program to destroy the enemy.

This is also useful as a reminder of just how far left the mainstream of the Democrat Party has moved. Here's the Borosage entry at Discover the Networks:
A former New Left radical and onetime Director of the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), Robert Borosage co-founded (with Roger Hickey) both the Campaign for America’s Future and the Institute for America’s Future. He also founded and currently chairs the Progressive Majority Political Action Committee, the activist arm of a political networking organization whose aim is to help elect as many leftist political leaders as possible. In addition, he is a contributing editor at The Nation magazine and a regular contributor to The American Prospect.

Borosage attended Yale Law School and earned a graduate degree in International Affairs from George Washington University. In 1974 he established the Center for National Security Studies, a civil rights / civil liberties organization that regularly accuses the CIA and the FBI of rampant abuses.

From 1979 to 1988 Borosage was Director of the Institute for Policy Studies. In 1988 he left IPS to work on Jesse Jackson’s presidential campaign, for which he served as a speechwriter and an assistant in framing responses to policy issues.

Borosage also has worked for such political figures as Senators Paul Wellstone, Barbara Boxer, and Carol Moseley-Braun.

In 1989 Borosage founded the Campaign for New Priorities, which called for decreased federal spending on the military and greater allocations for social welfare programs.

In 1996 Borosage and Roger Hickey co-founded the Campaign for America's Future (CAF), and three years later they established a sister organization, the Institute for America's Future (IAF).

Each year, CAF holds a “Take Back America” conference which the organization describes as “a catalyst for building the infrastructure to ensure that the voice of the progressive majority is heard.” Speaking at one such event in Los Angeles in June 2001, Borosage characterized President George W. Bush’s policies as a mélange of “tax cuts for the wealthy,” “arsenic in the water,” and “salmonella in the food”....

In a November 2002 L.A. Weekly article, The Nation editor David Corn quoted what Borosage had said backstage during a recent anti-war rally sponsored by International A.N.S.W.E.R. According to Corn, Borosage stated: "This [rally] is easy to dismiss as the radical fringe, but it holds the potential for a larger movement down the road…. History shows that protests are organized first by militant, radical fringe parties and then get taken over by more centrist voices as the movement grows. They provide a vessel for people who want to protest."
Backstage at an A.N.S.W.E.R. rally? International ANSWER is the residual protest arm of the Stalinist World Workers Party. It's been on the leading edge of the most radical left wing agitation since the early George W. Bush administration. There are all kinds of interlocking ties between groups like this and the mainstream of the Democrat Party, although President Obama and institutional Democrats have long attempted to mainstream their activities and distance themselves from the revolutionary shock troops.

Here's more background, on the founding contingents of the Campaign for America's Future:
Approximately 130 people played a role in co-founding the Campaign for America's Future (CAF) in 1996. Among these individuals were: Mary Frances Berry, Julian Bond, Heather Booth, Robert Borosage (co-founder), John Cavanagh, Richard Cloward, Jeff Cohen, Ken Cook, Peter Dreier, Barbara Ehrenreich, Betty Friedan, Todd Gitlin, Heidi Hartmann, Tom Hayden, Denis Hayes, Roger Hickey (co-founder), Patricia Ireland, Jesse Jackson, Joseph Lowery, Steve Max, Gerald McEntee, Harold Meyerson, Frances Fox Piven, Robert Reich, Mark Ritchie, Arlie Schardt, Susan Shaer, Andrew Stern, John Sweeney, and Richard Trumka. To view the full list of co-founders, click here.
It's also useful to troll around over at the CAF website, where one finds Borosage agitating on the current fiscal cliff negotiations, "The Grand Betrayal":
The battle lines are being drawn. The AFL-CIO, SEIU and AFSCME have announced labor’s opposition to cuts in entitlement programs and to continued tax cuts for the rich. Groups representing the base of the Democratic Party—from African-Americans to Latinos, women and the young—are lining up around a four-point program calling for jobs first; protecting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security; letting the top-end Bush tax cuts expire; and protecting programs for the vulnerable.

Reaching no deal is preferable to a bad one that cuts entitlements. Going over the so-called fiscal cliff is perilous, but probably preferable to a bargain under the terms currently in play. With no agreement, the Bush tax cuts would expire. In January the Senate would immediately push to revive the lower rates for everyone but the top 2 percent. Republicans could vote for tax cuts, but rates at the top would rise. The automatic spending cuts would not kick in immediately (although the stock market might feel the hit quickly). But the thing to remember about failure to reach a deal before January is that Medicare, Social Security and many programs for the most vulnerable are shielded from the cuts. And the new Congress would likely act rapidly to reverse the cuts to military and domestic spending. The already faltering recovery would surely weaken, threatening the loss of more jobs. But that might force Congress to address the real crisis—jobs and growth—rather than court a ruinous austerity.

Whatever the outcome, the battle is likely to be only the first skirmish of a defining struggle over the future of the Democratic Party and the progressive movement. We’ve just had what might be called the first of a new era of class-warfare elections. The plutocracy ran one of their own, on their agenda and with their money. The American people’s rejection of Mitt Romney, despite the lousy economy, demonstrated the declining appeal of the conservative, trickle-down agenda. The budget debate will draw battle lines within the Democratic Party, between the Wall Street–dominated New Democratic wing and the progressive wing fighting for the change this country desperately needs.

We are headed into a new era of upheaval. Our money-soaked politics may suffocate growing demands for change. But if Democratic legislators join the president in a grand betrayal, they may witness a powerful Tea Party movement from the left, as Republican legislators have from the right.
Well, the battle lines are being drawn alright.

But remember, as Rush Limbaugh warned, the politics of the fiscal cliff aren't really about fiscal policy. They're about destroying the Republican Party. This Wage Class War initiative just comes right out in the open with it, which is good. Let's not pretend that Americans are one country with a few minor differences on the margins. We're indeed in a political war for the survival of the America that we grew up with, one, in my lifetime, marked by decency in overcoming oppression, and in expanding political and economic opportunity to growing numbers. But progressives don't care about any of that. They have been taken over by the most radical elements of the '60s counter-culture and New Left revolutionary cadres. These are Marxist-Leninists in suits. Their man is now in office for a second term after having bludgeoned the so-called political embodiment of corporate power, GOP nominee Mitt Romney --- a man who was wholly unprepared for the onslaught of progressive blood libel and demonization that was thrown down throughout the campaign.

So conservatives can just suck it up and man the ramparts for the battles that are coming. The left's isn't even pretending to hide its program of fundamental transformation of the country, enunciated so well and violently by top Democrat Party hack Robert Borosage and his fellow subversives of the progressive movement.

Jessica Simpson Wants to Get Married Before Second Baby is Born

For some reason I thought she got married already, but I guess not. And a second baby's on the way, which was apparently, a little unexpected. She lost a lot of weight since the first one was born, as part of her Weight Watchers gig, but she'll balloon right back up for #2.

At London's Daily Mail, "'Pregnant' Jessica Simpson hides under oversized shirt… as it is revealed she 'plans to marry before baby's birth'."

Thursday, November 29, 2012

'Part of Obama's transformation of America is wiping out the Republican Party...'

From Rush Limbaugh, "Just Walk Away, Republicans":
The Republicans lost.  Now, they still control the House of Representatives. Boehner still runs the show there.  But the only leverage that I can see that they've got is to back out of this and make sure that whatever happens, they don't have any fingerprints on it.  I know what you're saying, and you'd be right.  You're saying, "But, Rush, but, Rush, no matter what the Republicans do, they're gonna get blamed for it."  Yes, totally true.  No matter what happens. If there is a reported recession, in fact, it will be said to be the Republicans in the House fault. No matter what happens, that's going to be said, and no matter what happens, as we sit here now, the American people, the majority of whom, are gonna believe that.

So back out of this and make sure you don't have any fingerprints on this at all.  "But, Rush, but, Rush, aren't your fingerprints going to be on it if you back out?  Couldn't the case be made that Republicans backing out and letting Obama have his way is, in effect, allowing this transformation to happen, can't you say there would be fingerprints there?"  Yes.  But I'm telling you there's another aspect to this that Obama is attempting to pull off here, and if the Republicans aren't careful, it's going to happen.  Not only is he not worried about a recession in the second term, 'cause even if there is one, it will not be reported as such.

Part of Obama's transformation of America is wiping out the Republican Party.  And anyone who fails to understand that that is also part of Obama's agenda at this moment, anybody who fails to understand that is really not paying attention and is too caught up in traditional conventional wisdom about, "Well, it was just another election. Well, yes, Obama won. Yes, we marshaled our forces, but we need to stand for pro-growth policies and all that rotgut."  Yes, we do.  There's no way we're ever gonna be tied to pro-growth policies if our fingerprints are on this coming disaster.
Plus, Gateway Pundit has video, via Memeorandum.

Kira Davis: 'I Am a Black Woman...'

At Right Wing News, "I Am a Black Woman And There’s No Way In Hell I'm Voting Democrat Again (Pic)."

Kira Davis

Warning Signs: The Susan Rice Troubles Beyond Benghazi

Yeah, come to think of it, the ambassador's Benghazi lies are just the start of our worries.

From Anne Bayefsky and Michael Mukasey, at WSJ, "The Trouble With Susan Rice":
Several Republican senators continue to oppose the possible nomination of Susan Rice, currently the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, to be secretary of state in President Obama's second term. Their opposition stems largely from Ms. Rice's repeated insistence, five days after terrorists murdered four Americans at a U.S. facility in Libya, that the slaughter stemmed from spontaneous Muslim rage over an amateur video. Sen. John McCain at one point called Ms. Rice "unfit" for the job.

To assess fitness, one might look at those who served previously as secretary of state. More than one has said or done foolish things, or served without notable distinction.

In 1929, Henry Stimson dismantled the nation's only cryptographic facility, located in the State Department, with the airy observation that gentlemen don't read one another's mail. (He sobered up by World War II, when as secretary of war he oversaw a robust code-breaking effort.) More recently, Clinton administration Secretary of State Warren Christopher diminished the office by making several futile pilgrimages to Syria, where he once waited on his airplane for over half an hour in Damascus before being told that Syrian dictator Hafez Assad was too busy to see him. Assad calculated correctly that the slap would be cost-free.

By this modest standard, some might find that Susan Rice is fit. But moral fitness is also relevant, and it is in that category that the Benghazi episode is relevant.

The president has said that Ms. Rice should not be criticized because she "had nothing to do with Benghazi" and so couldn't have known better when she gave her false account. According to Mr. Obama (and to her), she simply repeated talking points provided by an amorphous and anonymous "intelligence community."

But Ms. Rice did know at least a couple of things. She knew that she had nothing to do with Benghazi. She knew that after the attack the president insisted that U.S. leaders not "shoot first and aim later" but rather "make sure that the statements that you make are backed up by the facts." She knew that the video story line was questionable, as Sen. Dianne Feinstein (chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence) and administration officials had already suggested publicly that the attack was al Qaeda-related. And she knew that the president had a political interest in asserting that al Qaeda wasn't successfully attacking senior American officials but was instead "on the run," as he maintained on the campaign trail.

Senators might therefore ask Ms. Rice why she was put forward to speak about Benghazi, and what part her personal ambition might have played in her willingness to assume the role known during the Cold War as "useful idiot."

Ms. Rice might also be asked what she knew about al Qaeda's operations in Libya. As a member of the U.N. Security Council and its "Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee," she is privy, for example, to information about the al Qaeda-affiliated Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, which is under sanctions and, according to the council, "maintain[s] a presence in eastern Libya."

Senators might also explore Ms. Rice's broader record at the U.N. Why, for example, did she think it was appropriate to absent herself from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's September speech to the General Assembly, the purpose of which was to offer the global community a painstaking explanation of why Iran must be stopped before it can weaponize its growing stock of enriched uranium.

Then there is the matter of U.S. participation for the past three years in the U.N. Human Rights Council, alongside such paragons as China, Cuba, Russia and Saudi Arabia (soon to be replaced by Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Ivory Coast and Venezuela)...
Still more at that top link.

Online Shopping for Cyber Week Sales

If you're doing any shopping online you can help this blog with no extra cost to yourself.

The Amazon widgets are here at the post and at the sidebar. I'll be updating periodically with reminders throughout the season. Thanks for your readership and support!

RELATED: At Bloomberg, "Cyber Monday record could be beat before holiday shopping ends."

In U.S., Majority Now Against Gov't Healthcare Guarantee

Well, the public is turning around, unexpectedly!

At Gallup:

ObamaCare Taxes
PRINCETON, NJ -- For the first time in Gallup trends since 2000, a majority of Americans say it is not the federal government's responsibility to make sure all Americans have healthcare coverage. Prior to 2009, a majority always felt the government should ensure healthcare coverage for all, though Americans' views have become more divided in recent years.

The current results are based on Gallup's annual Health and Healthcare poll, conducted Nov. 15-18 this year.

The shift away from the view that the government should ensure healthcare coverage for all began shortly after President Barack Obama's election and has continued the past several years during the discussions and ultimate passage of the Affordable Care Act in March 2010. Americans are divided on that legislation today -- 48% approve and 45% disapprove -- as they have been over the last several years.

Republicans, including Republican-leaning independents, are mostly responsible for the drop since 2007 in Americans' support for government ensuring universal health coverage. In 2007, 38% of Republicans thought the government should do so; now, 12% do. Among Democrats and Democratic leaners there has been a much smaller drop, from 81% saying the government should make sure all Americans are covered in 2007 to 71% now.

One thing that has not changed is that Americans still widely prefer a system based on private insurance to one run by the government. Currently, 57% prefer a private system and 36% a government-run system, essentially the same as in 2010 and 2011. Prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, the percentage of Americans in favor of a government-run system ranged from 32% to 41%.
The report also highlights some of the rosier findings, but as the ObamaCare horror stories continue to pile up like corpses at the morgue, expect support for this socialist monstrosity to continue its free fall.

Image Credit: Michelle Malkin, "Death, taxes & Obamacare: Poster contest, Round Two."

Unaffordable Cost Seen for Some Under Affordable Care Act

We're seeing report after report on just how disastrous this legislation is, at Bloomberg, for example:
To Megan Hildebrandt, President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act means she can no longer be denied health insurance because of her lymphatic cancer.
There’s a big catch: Coverage for the 28-year-old artist and many other Americans without insurance will come at a potentially unaffordable cost.

Hildebrandt, who relies on hospital charity, will face more than $1,000 in annual premiums, by one estimate, and probably more in out-of-pocket expenses even with new federal subsidies. She and her husband have a combined income of $25,000.

“It’s great that I’m not going to have to pay some hugely impossible amount,” said Hildebrandt, who lives in Austin, Texas. “Though now I’m in the health-care system and still have to pay money that we can’t really afford.”

The landmark health-care law, which survived the threats of repeal and a Supreme Court review, now confronts another hurdle: living up to expectations. As the administration spells out the details, many uninsured will be surprised at how much they will have to pay. It may involve “very substantial amounts,” and “there still will be a significant number of people who can’t afford health coverage,” said Ron Pollack, head of Families USA, a consumer group that backs the law.

A family of four earning $75,000 will pay $7,125 in annual premiums and as much as $8,333 in co-pays and deductibles, according to a preliminary estimate by the Kaiser Family Foundation. A single 40-year-old earning $30,000 will pay $2,509 in premiums and as much as $3,125 in cost sharing. For a 60- year-old making $40,000, the amount will be $3,800 in premiums and up to $4,167 in out-of-pocket costs, according to Kaiser.
I vaguely remember (snark!) how the president kept claiming that costs would go down. Maybe they will, although meanwhile untold numbers of Americans will be driven from their homes by mandatory costs imposed by faceless ObamaCare bureaucrats in Washington. What a f-king monstrosity.

Continue reading at the link.

The Obama Administratin's Fog of Moral Equivalence

Michelle Malkin slams the Obama foreign policy clusterf-k in the Middle East:

Five New ObamaCare Taxes Coming January 1st

From Katie Pavlich, at Townhall:
Although some of the "fiscal cliff" taxes can be avoided through a deal made in Congress, new ObamaCare taxes are guaranteed to kick in on January 1, amounting to $268 billion tax hike. From Americans for Tax Reform...

Baby Death Panels

Well, it couldn't happen here. Nah, it just c-c-c-couldn't (blabbering incoherently to one's self...).

At London's Daily Mail, "Now sick babies go on death pathway: Doctor's haunting testimony reveals how children are put on end-of-life plan" (via Gateway Pundit):
Sick children are being discharged from NHS hospitals to die at home or in hospices on controversial ‘death pathways’.

Until now, end of life regime the Liverpool Care Pathway was thought to have involved only elderly and terminally-ill adults.

But the Mail can reveal the practice of withdrawing food and fluid by tube is being used on young patients as well as severely disabled newborn babies.

The investigation, which will include child patients, will look at whether cash payments to hospitals to hit death pathway targets have influenced doctors’ decisions.

Medical critics of the LCP insist it is impossible to say when a patient will die and as a result the LCP death becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. They say it is a form of euthanasia, used to clear hospital beds and save the NHS money.
More at that top link, and also, "Doctors 'are withholding treatment from dying cancer patients because they think it is futile to continue'." Cancer patients are also being placed on LCP, and there's an outcry among physicians. God, I pray that people get the care they need, and that Americans resist the ObamaCare rationing regime. Nothing is permanent in politics, certainly FUBAR legislation like the PPACA.

'The Generals' Author Thomas Ricks Disses MSNBC: 'You're Just Like Fox, But Not As Good At It...'

Ricks is a prolific author on military affairs, with a new books just out, The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today.

And here's the report at WaPo, "Tom Ricks to MSNBC: You're just like Fox, only not as good at it."

And for the record, I don't think Fox News should have cut short Ricks' appearance on the network. It'd be easy enough to come back with another commentator for rebuttal, for example, Army Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters, who hasn't been too kind to the administration about these things. That said, I agree: MSNBC is a shitty network, with a bunch of despicable hacks, like the disgusting lying lesbo Rachel Maddow.

'After age 50, pushing too hard is probably not good for one's heart or longevity...'

Well, I haven't been running lately, so I guess there's an upside to the latest science. At the Wall Street Journal, "One Running Shoe in the Grave: New Studies on Older Endurance Athletes Suggest the Fittest Reap Few Health Benefits." And from the report:
The most vocal proponent of cutting back for cardiac reasons is Dr. [James ] O’Keefe, a 56-year-old cardiologist and former elite athlete. From 1999 to 2004, he won outright the largest sprint distance triathlon in Kansas City, a testament not only to his athletic abilities but also to hours and hours of early- and late-hour training.

But a sense that this regimen was aging him prematurely, coupled with the mounting awareness of cardiac issues in extreme endurance athletes, prompted Dr. O’Keefe to slash his running to below 20 miles a week, never faster than eight minutes a mile.

Asked if he ever runs a 5-kilometer race for time, he said, “Not for the past three years. After age 50, pushing too hard is probably not good for one’s heart or longevity.”

Meanwhile, Dr. O’Keefe’s fellow author on the upcoming Heart paper, Carl Lavie, continues racing at speeds slightly above what their editorial recommends. “I did a turkey day five-mile race in 38 minutes,” said Dr. Lavie, a cardiologist at the John Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute in New Orleans. “I train slower than I race, and when I race I know the risks. That’s all we’re trying to do: Let people know the risks and make up their own minds.”
More at the link (via Instapundit).

Halle Berry's Fiance Olivier Martinez Makes Quite the Mess of Stalker Gabriel Aubry's Face

This story's getting exposure even on Fox News.

Here's this, for example, at TMZ, "Cops Believe Gabriel Aubry Was Aggressor in Olivier Martinez Thanksgiving Brawl."

Also, "Gabriel Aubry's Face -- Bruised and Beat Up [PHOTOS]."

Most-Racial America

First read James Taranto's piece at the Wall Street Journal, with this conclusion:
The danger for the country is that a racially polarized electorate will produce a hostile, balkanized culture. In 2008 Obama held out the hope of a postracial America. His re-election raises the possibility of a most-racial America.
And then check Daniel Henninger, "The Racializing of American Politics":
This is the most violated saying in American public life:

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

Martin Luther King Jr.'s acclaimed call in 1963 for a colorblind society has been displaced, at least in our politics, by an obsession with racial categories. That is the meaning of racialization.

It may be over four decades since the passage of the Voting Rights Act, but whenever America votes today, the exit polls can't move fast enough to divide voters by the color of their skin. Mere moments after the 2012 exit polls were released, a conventional wisdom congealed across the media that the Republican Party was "too white."

Let us posit that this subject wouldn't have been raised if the bottom hadn't fallen out of the GOP's share of the Hispanic vote. When George W. Bush attracted 40% of the Hispanic vote in 2004, there was no cry that the Republican Party was "too white." The GOP's problem with Hispanics today is a tangle of issues involving the law, labor and assimilation that is hardly reducible to the accusation that the party is too white.

In virtually every instance, the idea that the Republican Party is "too white" is dropped with almost no discussion of what exactly that means. The phrase is being pinned like a scarlet "W" on anyone who didn't vote for the Democrats' nominee. It's a you-know-what-we-mean denunciation. Its only meaning is racial.

The exit polls—asking voters to self-identify as white, black, Hispanic, Asian—inevitably drive any postelection analysis into this racial swamp. High-school seniors applying to colleges have been told for at least 20 years to define themselves inside a racial or ethnic box. Elizabeth Warren spent a lot of energy in Massachusetts attempting a Houdini-like escape from one such ancient box.

During the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton wrestled over race, first in January when Bill Clinton was accused of racial signaling during the South Carolina primary, and in March when Mrs. Clinton repudiated the late Geraldine Ferraro for referencing Mr. Obama's color. A New York Times report then said Mr. Obama was "puzzled" at this preoccupation with race and sex. It quoted Mr. Obama as saying: "I don't want to deny the role of race and gender in our society. They're there, and they're powerful. But I don't think it's productive."

A welcome thought. The truth is that no prominent Democrat since Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan has been willing to sustain opposition to this constant racializing of American politics and culture.

In the famous 2003 Supreme Court decision upholding the University of Michigan's race-based admission policies, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote in support: "The Court takes the Law School at its word that it would like nothing better than to find a race-neutral admissions formula and will terminate its use of racial preferences as soon as practicable. The Court expects that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary."

In 2008's election, many Republicans and independents voted for Mr. Obama to put a final nail in the coffin of Justice O'Connor's racial anxieties...
Continue reading.

Who Changed the Benghazi Talking Points?

From Sharyl Attkisson at CBS News (via Memeorandum):

Who within the Obama administration deleted mention of "terrorism" and "al-Qaeda" from the CIA's talking points on the deadly Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi?

It isn't the only unanswered question in the wake of the tragedy, but it's proven to be one of the most confounding.

The question was first raised 12 days ago when former CIA Director General David Petraeus told members of Congress that his original talking points cleared for public dissemination included the likely involvement by terrorists and an al-Qaeda affiliate. Petraeus said somebody removed the references before they were used to inform the public.

The Obama administration has declined to directly answer who made the edits. And the nation's top intelligence officials appear either confused or not forthcoming about the journey their own intelligence took.

On Fri. Nov. 16, Petraeus told members of Congress that it wasn't the CIA that changed the talking points.

The White House and the State Department said it wasn't them.

The CIA then told CBS News that the edits were made at a "senior level in the interagency process." Intelligence officials said the references were dropped so as not to tip off al Qaeda as to what the U.S. knew, and to protect sources and methods.

Soon thereafter, another reason was given. A source from the Office of the Director for National Intelligence (ODNI) told CBS News' Margaret Brennan that ODNI made the edits as part of the interagency process because the links to al Qaeda were deemed too "tenuous" to make public.

On Tuesday, Acting CIA Director Mike Morell provided yet another account. In a meeting with Republican Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., Morell stated that he believed it was the FBI that removed the references. He said the FBI did so "to prevent compromising an ongoing criminal investigation."

"We were surprised by this revelation and the reasoning behind it," wrote the senators in a joint statement Tuesday.

But it was just a matter of hours before there was yet another revision. A CIA official contacted Graham and stated that Morell "misspoke" in the earlier meeting and that it was, in fact, the CIA, not the FBI, that deleted the al Qaeda references. "They were unable to give a reason as to why," stated Graham.

A U.S. intelligence official on Tuesday told CBS News there was "absolutely no intent to misinform." The official says the talking points "were never meant to be definitive and, in fact, noted that the assessment may change. The points clearly reflect the early indications of extremist involvement in a direct result. It wasn't until after they were used in public that analysts reconciled contradictory information about how the assault began."
If Obama and his minions would have just told the truth from the start there'd be no need for all these unending "revisions." But that's what we've come to expect from "the most transparent administration in history."

U.S. District Court Dismisses Walker v. Kimberlin

More in the "freedom to blog" series.

At The Other McCain, "U.S. District Court Dismisses Walker v. Kimberlin.

And at Hogewash, "Dread Pirate #BrettKimberlin Wins Round One in Federal Court."

'Raising taxes today will put us back into a recession...'

Financial writer Carol Roth cleans Robert Reich's clock, Robert "#Occupy" Reich:

Roth is the author of The Entrepreneur Equation: Evaluating the Realities, Risks, and Rewards of Having Your Own Business. She doesn't appear to tolerate anarcho-communist shills like Reich very well.

'You have been in a bubble of denial for the past five years, so a tidal wave of evidence of the happy family life you feel these cheaters stole from you is bound to be overwhelming...'

I can't recall ever reading a "Dear Abby" story quite like this, although it's not Abigail Van Buren but "Dear Prudence."

See: "Unbearable Betrayal" (via Instapundit).

Some Texas Schools Teaching Boston Tea Party Was Terrorism

From Warner Todd Huston, at Right Wing News:
It has been revealed that some Texas schools were teaching that the Boston Tea Party, an event widely understood as having helped spark the American Revolution, was actually a “terrorist” attack on British authorities.

At least up until January of 2012, Texas schools utilizing the history curriculum from CSCOPE, a non-profit and supposedly non-partisan education service, taught that the most famous tax protest in American history was akin to terrorism.
More at that top link, and at The Blaze, "Was The Boston Tea Party Terrorism? Texas Schools Are Teaching Just That."

Facebook Censors Photo of Woman in Bathtub With Elbows Showing

This is an amazing story, at Theories of the Deep Understanding of Things, "This was probably the craziest situation we ever had to face one post created this unstoppable swirl..."

And at London's Daily Mail, "Given the elbow: Facebook remove risqué picture of blonde woman reclining in bathtub (whatever did they think it was?)," and Huffington Post, "Facebook Reinstates Image Of Woman In Bathtub – After Apparently Mistaking Elbows For Nipples (PHOTO)."

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The New York Times Touts California's 'Resurgence'

While heading out for lunch today at the Village Cafe in Lakewood, I was reminded of this morning's New York Times front-page story, "California Finds Economic Gloom Starting to Lift." As I was pulling up to the restaurant I noticed an empty storefront across the street, with real estate vacancy signs posted all across the front window. "There's that New York Times economic rebound," I thought to myself. It's true that things are getting better in California, but not much. And I certainly don't think the state's economic prospects warrant the Grey Lady's boosterism. I didn't bother to snap a photo, although shots of run-down urban areas and the still wobbly real estate market would be much more accurate than the picture of the cellphone hipster  at the beach which graced the cover of the paper's national edition this morning.

In any case, here's Victor Davis Hanson, "It’s Hard to Screw Up California — But We Try Our Best." Hanson observers three flaws regarding California by the Times, with the  omission of immigration problem perhaps most glaring:
The Times piece also deliberately ignores the third rail of all California decline stories — illegal immigration. About 40 percent of all illegal immigrants are believed to be living in California. Probably about a $20 billion share in the much larger figure of annual remittances to Latin America comes from California. And such facts do help explain why once-competitive California public schools now rate 49th in many math/science/English national tests, one-third of all U.S. welfare recipients live in California, 8 million out of the last 11 million added to the state’s population went on Medicaid, and why the Central Valley is suffering from record unemployment, depressed housing prices, and mass exoduses of higher-income residents. In this regard, note the following Times sentence: “California has the worst poverty in the nation. The river of people coming west in search of the economic dream, traditionally an economic and creative driver, has slowed to a crawl.” In fact, “the river of people” long ago ceased “coming west” to California, but rather for 30 years has been coming “north” into the state — a direction that is politically incorrect to note.
And here's a bit from Hanson's conclusion:
In sum, things may not be becoming worse in California, but it is not because of anything that Jerry Brown or the legislature has done, or the expectation that all these new record-high taxes (not yet exacted) have so excited the private sector that we are already anticipating a new recovery. Again, agricultural exports boom despite not because of Sacramento; there is renewed interest from private parties in our vast natural resources, whose prices are at record levels; illegal immigration has slowed; and after four years of recession, there is always a natural American cycle of recovery. But until the state deals with its cumbersome regulations, record taxes, hostility to resource development — and supports closing the border and promotes ethnically blind assimilation rather than serial amnesties and ethnic chauvinism — we will continue to have the nation’s worst schools, worst infrastructure, worst business climate, and highest exoduses, as California plods on, coasting on the fumes of what nature and our ancestors so generously bequeathed to us.
RELATED: From Joel Kotkin, in 2011, "The Golden State Is Crumbling." And from earlier this year, at the Wall Street Journal, "The Great California Exodus."

Democrats Fight to the Death for Bigger Government

My headline is only partly in jest. Government just keeps getting bigger and bigger, and congressional Democrats see this month's election as a mandate for even bigger government.

At the New York Times, "Efforts to Curb Social Spending Face Resistance":
WASHINGTON — President Obama’s re-election and Democratic gains in Congress were supposed to make it easier for the party to strike a deal with Republicans to resolve the year-end fiscal crisis by providing new leverage. But they could also make it harder as empowered Democrats, including some elected on liberal platforms, resist significant changes in entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare.

As Congress returned Monday, the debate over those programs, which many Democrats see as the core of the party’s identity, was shaping up as the Democratic version of the higher-profile struggle among Republicans over taxes.

In failed deficit reduction talks last year, Mr. Obama signaled a willingness to consider substantial changes in the social safety net, including a gradual increase in the eligibility age for Medicare and limits in the growth rate of future Social Security benefits. An urgent question hanging over the new round of deficit talks is which of those changes Mr. Obama and Congressional Democrats would accept today.

While a potential change in calculating Social Security increases was part of the talks with Speaker John A. Boehner last year, the White House press secretary, Jay Carney, made clear on Monday that the administration was not considering changes to the retirement program as part of the deficit talks.

“We should address the drivers of the deficit, and Social Security is not currently a driver of the deficit,” Mr. Carney said.

Republicans insist that changes in the major entitlement programs be on the table in exchange for their willingness to accept increases in tax revenue. But Democrats have given no indication that they are willing to consider policy changes or savings of the magnitude demanded by Republicans. The underlying dispute highlights a reason the politics of the deficit are so thorny: even as many voters say they want Washington to reduce the budget deficit, they oppose many of the benefit cuts and tax increases that could help achieve that goal.

As the negotiations enter a crucial phase, influential outside advocacy groups like AARP and the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare are weighing in, alerting their members to possible changes in the popular programs.

In the current negotiations with Congress over deficits and the debt, Mr. Obama said he would take a serious look at how to “reform our entitlements” because “health care costs continue to be the biggest driver of our deficits.” Unless Mr. Obama and Congress reach some agreement, tax increases and budget reductions will take effect automatically on Jan. 1.

Mr. Obama’s room for maneuvering is limited by several political factors. In the presidential campaign, for example, he attacked cost-cutting proposals by his Republican opponents and won support from millions of voters by promising to defend Medicare.

Moreover, since the Supreme Court upheld the new health care law in June, Mr. Obama has become skittish about cutbacks in Medicaid, the federal-state program for low-income people. The court said the expansion of Medicaid was an option for states but not a requirement. Cutting federal Medicaid payments to states could reduce the federal budget deficit, but could also cripple Mr. Obama’s efforts to persuade governors to expand the program, the foundation of his health care overhaul.

Even if Mr. Obama and Republican leaders in Congress could agree on savings in Medicare and Medicaid, the president would face resistance from some liberal members of his party who oppose cuts in the two giant health care entitlement programs. Medicare and Medicaid insure one-third of all Americans, account for more than one-fifth of the federal budget and are expected to grow much faster than the economy in the coming decade.
I would hate to be a college-aged individual these days. As I've been reporting with the ObamaCare monstrosity, as government continues to expand the Democrat collectivist welfare state is literally raping today's generation of young people.

Car Bombs in Damascus Kill at Least 34 people

At the Los Angeles Times.

When Work is Punished

From Tyler Durden, "The Tragedy of America's Welfare State."
Exactly two years ago, some of the more politically biased progressive media outlets (who are quite adept at creating and taking down their own strawmen arguments, if not quite as adept at using an abacus, let alone a calculator) took offense at our article "In Entitlement America, The Head Of A Household Of Four Making Minimum Wage Has More Disposable Income Than A Family Making $60,000 A Year." In it we merely explained what has become the painful reality in America: for increasingly more it is now more lucrative - in the form of actual disposable income - to sit, do nothing, and collect various welfare entitlements, than to work. This is graphically, and very painfully confirmed, in the below chart from Gary Alexander, Secretary of Public Welfare, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (a state best known for its broke capital Harrisburg). As quantitied, and explained by Alexander, "the single mom is better off earnings gross income of $29,000 with $57,327 in net income & benefits than to earn gross income of $69,000 with net income and benefits of $57,045."
Welfare Dependency
And Check Instapundit as well from some video, "It’s as if there’s some kind of Dependency Agenda at work here."

Professor Julien Bauer, Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), Targeted With Anti-Semitic Vandalism

The tolerant pro-Palestinian left.

At National Post, "Pro-Israel professor’s Montreal office door sprayed with anti-Semitic graffiti."

Hope and Exchange

At the Wall Street Journal, "The feds blame the states for refusing to become ObamaCare subsidiaries":
ObamaCare is due to land in a mere 10 months—about 300 days—and the Administration is not even close to ready, so naturally the political and media classes are attacking the Governors and state legislators who decline to help out. Mostly Republicans, they’re facing a torrent of abuse in Washington and pressure from health lobbies at home.

But the real story is that Democrats are reaping the GOP buy-in they earned. Liberals wanted government to re-engineer the entire health-care system and rammed the Affordable Care Act through on a party-line vote, not stopping to wonder whether it would work. Now that implementation is proving to be harder than advertised, they’re blaming the states for not making their jobs easier.

The current rumpus is over ObamaCare’s “exchanges,” the bureaucracies that will regulate the design and sale of insurance and where 30 million people (and likely far more) will sign up for subsidized coverage. States were supposed to tell the Health and Human Services Department if they were going to set up and run an exchange by October, but HHS delayed the deadline to November, and then again at the 11th hour to December.

Sixteen states have already said they won’t participate. Another 11 are undecided, while only 17 have committed to doing the work on their own. Six have opted for a “hybrid” federal-state model. That means HHS will probably be responsible for fallback federal exchanges in full or in part in as many as 25 or 30 states.
Continue reading.

It sucks. It's bad law. It'll be interesting to see how the massive resistance of the states plays out.

More at National Review, "States Should Absolutely Refuse to Set Up Obamacare Exchanges."

Sucking at the Teat of the Progressive Welfare State

Well, I thought this was pretty good, at Maggie's Farm, "Normalizing and universalizing welfare: You pitiful masses still have unmet needs."

Sucking at the Teat of the Progressive Welfare State
Welfare includes crony capitalism, tax breaks for businesses, mortgage deductions, bailouts, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid right down to disability and the now ubiquitous EBT cards.

Naturally, we Conservatives think it best to eliminate all forms of welfare and charity from government control except for the most desperate or hopeless of individual cases. Remove welfare from the middle classes and provide a safety net for the desperate: Restoring a True Safety Net.

The Left, on the other hand, aspires to normalize and universalize welfare programs. Hayek's serfdom under a benevolent, altruistic, and all-powerful state. With Obomacare on track to fail resulting in a total government take-over, Liberals are beginning to comtemplate their next project: The Great Society's Next Frontier - Now that Obamacare—the largest expansion of the social-safety net in the last 60 years—is safe, what's next for the liberal economic project?
It's true, you know?

Here's just one example, at the Democrat-socialist Daily Kos, "Let's Defend Social Security and Other Entitlements With the Second Bill of Rights."

How Much Would You Pay for One Hour With Sandra Fluke?

Hmm, an interesting question, although it's not exactly what you might imagine. From Nathan Harden, at The College Fix.

Now, if this was what you imagined, how much would you pay for an hour with her?

Butler University Liberal Arts Indoctrination


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Young People Getting Even More Screwed Under ObamaCare

This is freakin' mind-boggling. The news on the ObamaCare monstrosity gets worse by the day.

At Forbes, "Young People under Obamacare: Cash Cow for Older Workers":
It’s official: the health care law will unduly stick it to young Americans by making them pay far higher premiums starting January 1, 2014. New rules announced this month are even worse than expected when it comes to shoveling an unfair burden onto our nation’s youth. Moreover, they also perversely increase the incentives of young people to remain uninsured.

The newly announced rules limit insurers to charge their oldest customers no more than three times as much as younger ones. As shown in the following chart based on estimates by international management consulting firm Oliver Wyman, the rule will force insurers to hike rates for 18- to 24-year-olds by 45 percent even as rates for those 60 and older drop by 13 percent in most states. That means a 22-year-old waitress paying $2,068 for her health insurance will have to fork over $3,000 when Obamacare takes effect.[3] And these figures even underestimate the actual impact....

The real-world consequence of this regulatory misjudgment is that young people will have an even greater economic incentive to simply pay the $695 annual penalty for not having coverage and wait until they are sick before they purchase it. [4] In short, it is now even more likely that Obamacare will amplify the perverse incentives for “free-riding” that it was intended to counter.

Clearly, until we observe actual behavior next January, we won’t know precisely how large an adverse selection problem has been unnecessarily created by these new rules. But what we can say for certain is that for young adults who elect to have health coverage, it will be way more expensive next year than it is today.

Is this fair? Ask the typical 20-24 year-old—whose median weekly earnings are $461—whether it’s fair to be asked to pay 50 percent higher premiums so that workers age 55-64—whose median weekly earnings are $887—can pay lower premiums. Think about that. The median earnings for older workers are $420 a week more than those of younger workers, or roughly $20,000 more a year. How is mandating a price break on health insurance for this far higher income group at the expense of the lower income group possibly fair?
It's not fair.

Seriously. "Fair" isn't even the word for this. Shoot, is it legal? Young Americans are practically being raped by ObamaCare. The effective violations of liberty with this law are so freakin' astounding, people should be screaming violently in rage. And the thing is, young people don't even know what's about to hit them. I know this for a fact. I've been discussing the consequences of the election for the preservation liberty in my classes. Students were literally shocked when I told them they were going to be taxed under the individual mandate if they were uninsured beginning in 2014. Students will be even more glum when we open debate on current events for the remainder of the week.

Ignorance is very costly, and it's sad too since so many young people practically worship this president.

Jamie Lee Curtis Shows Off Her Lovely Figure at the Premiere of 'Hitchcock' in Los Angeles

She's having fun.

At London's Daily Mail, "Foxy in her 50s! Jamie Lee Curtis honours her mother Janet Leigh as she attends the Hitchcock premiere in off-the-shoulder white dress."

Senator Kelly Ayotte 'More Troubled Today' After Meeting With Ambassador Susan Rice

I'm not surprised by this at all, although I'm pleased the Senator Ayotte's not rolling over the Obama's corrupt "spontaneous protest" shill Susan Rice.

At the Wall Street Journal, "Senator Vows to Block Any Clinton Successor: After Meeting With Potential Secretary of State Nominee, Republicans Demand More Answers on Fatal Attack in Libya":

WASHINGTON—Ambassador Susan Rice’s attempt to repair her standing with Senate Republicans fell short Tuesday, as a trio of GOP senators emerged from a meeting with her even more harshly critical of the comments she made following the U.S. consulate attack in Libya.

One of the senators, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, said she would try to block the confirmation of Ms. Rice or another nominee to succeed departing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “My view is we should hold on this until we get sufficient information,” she said.

Ms. Ayotte and Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said the meeting on Capitol Hill left them more concerned than ever about the public statements Ms. Rice made in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, where U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed. “All I can say is that the concerns I have are greater today than they were before,” Mr. Graham said after the meeting. “We’re not even close to getting the basic answers.”

Ms. Rice, the ambassador to the United Nations, is seen as a front-runner to succeed Mrs. Clinton. In a statement issued after the meeting, Ms. Rice conceded that part of her comments about the attack in television interviews days afterward were incorrect, but said they were based on evolving intelligence.

In the interviews, Ms. Rice said the attack grew out of protests over an anti-Islamic video; officials later said there was no protest in Benghazi that day.
“The talking points provided by the intelligence community, and the initial assessment upon which they were based, were incorrect in a key respect: There was no protest or demonstration in Benghazi,” she said in her statement. Ms. Rice added that she didn’t intend to mislead and said “the administration updated Congress and the American people as our assessments evolved.”

Ms. Ayotte said there was clear evidence early on that people with ties to al Qaeda had carried out the Libya attack.

Criticism of Ms. Rice by the Republican senators had appeared to be abating, but the Tuesday meeting rekindled hostilities. That may complicate her chances for the secretary of state slot. Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, a Democrat, is another possibility for the job. President Barack Obama may announce his choice as soon as this week.
More at The Hill, "McCain: ‘I would be hard-pressed’ to support Rice for secretary of State." (At Memeorandum.)

Democrats Used to Love the Filibuster

Behold yet more epic hypocrisy from the Douchebag Party.

At Washington Examiner, "‘Those who would attack and destroy the institution of the filibuster…’."

More at Memeorandum, especially the idiots at Talking Points Memo, "Dems Defend Filibuster Reform Effort: ‘McConnell Has Broken The Social Contract’."

Anything to justify power for these people, the scummy disgusting Democrat douchebags.

The Debate About Tax Rates

I've been reading the November/December issue of Foreign Affairs, and Grover Norquist's got an essay therein, which is timely, considering how much he's in the news. See, "Are Taxes Too Damn High?":
Andrea Campbell tips her hand partway through her essay “America the Undertaxed” (September/October 2012) when she writes that “the central debate in U.S. politics is whether to keep taxes, particularly federal taxes, at their current levels in the long term or emulate other advanced nations and raise them.”

So the choice facing Americans is between maintaining the size of the government under President Barack Obama and expanding it further? Who knew? In framing things this way, Campbell posits a Brezhnev Doctrine for U.S. government spending and taxation: what the government takes and spends today is forever ceded by Americans to the state, and that portion of their income not yet taken by the government is negotiable. Such ideological blinders limit the author’s ability to understand or explain how the United States arrived at its present level of historically high spending and taxation -- and what the American people would like its government to do and how much it would like it to cost in the future.

The U.S. government was created to maximize liberty. Unlike the European nations Campbell offers as models for how much Americans should be taxed, the United States was not organized around defending or promoting historical land claims or one religion, tribe, or ethnicity. Americans are a people of the book: the Constitution. According to the founders, government should play a limited role in the lives of Americans, by providing for a common defense, the rule of law, property rights, and a justice system that protects them.

Despite these strict limits, the U.S. federal government has grown enormously in size, cost, and power over the last two centuries, mostly as a result of the country’s engagement in successive wars. With each conflict, Washington increased its spending and powers of taxation under the false flag of temporary necessity and appeals to patriotism. After each war, the government refused to return to its previous size and level of power.

This growth can be seen in the numbers. The federal government consumed less than four percent of GDP in 1930, 9.8 percent in 1940, and 16.2 percent in 1948. By 1965, the number had climbed to 25 percent of GDP, and it hit 30 percent in 2000 (compared with the average among members of the Organization for Cooperation and Development of 37 percent). Today, Campbell claims, raising taxes still higher, “perhaps by a few percentage points of GDP,” would “provide the government with much-needed revenue. And it might not have a detrimental impact on the U.S. economy, perhaps even spurring it.” But the economic crisis in Europe, where taxes and spending are already higher, makes that argument a little difficult to swallow.

The United States’ major political parties are now diametrically opposed on the question of the size of government. Gone are the days when Nixon Republicans and Kennedy Democrats argued about whether the government should get bigger or much bigger, and how quickly. No Republican House member voted for the 2009 stimulus package, and only one Republican member of Congress voted for Obamacare’s 20 tax hikes and massive spending increases (and he is no longer in Congress). Meanwhile, the modern Democratic Party has shifted from one that cast 56 Senate votes for the 1964 Kennedy-Johnson tax cut and 33 Senate votes for the 1986 Reagan tax reform into a high-tax ideological party that cast no votes for the 2001 income tax cut, under President George W. Bush, and only one vote for the capital gains and dividends tax cut of 2003 (and that voter is set to retire this year).

The budget that Obama released in February 2012 shows annual federal spending increasing by $1.5 trillion over the next ten years, producing $11 trillion in additional federal debt. Paying for all that spending will require dramatic hikes in taxes. Obama promised in the 2008 presidential campaign that under his plan, “no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase.” On August 8, 2012, however, Obama changed his pledge, saying, “If your family makes under $250,000 . . . , you will not see your income taxes increase by a single dime next year.” The promise to oppose all tax increases on incomes less than $250,000 was replaced by a promise to prevent only income tax hikes -- and only for 12 months. Obama’s new language opened the door to a value-added tax (VAT) at any time and to income tax hikes starting in January 1, 2014.
Obama’s shift is important, for as Campbell points out, the difference between U.S. and European levels of taxation is mainly due to the prevalence of VATs in Europe. The United Kingdom has a VAT of 20 percent, France one of 19.6 percent, and Sweden one of 25 percent.

Advocates of higher taxes in the United States know that only a VAT or steep taxes on energy can cover the higher levels of spending in Obama’s budget projections. Higher income tax rates do not raise useful amounts of money. The “Buffett rule,” which would raise rates on earnings of more than $1 million a year would, according to the Congressional Budget Office, take in only $47 billion over a decade, less than one-half of one percent of the $11 trillion in debt that Obama’s planned spending would produce.
Continue reading.

The Campbell essay is here: "America the Undertaxed."

And for the debate on Norquist and congressional Republicans, see Robert Stacy McCain, "Retire #Taxby Chambliss."

BONUS: At NewsBusters, "Grover Norquist: 'Warren Buffett Should Write a Check and Shut Up'." And also, "Greg Mankiw, "A Master of Tax Avoidance."