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share save 120 16 The Morning Flap: November 15, 2011

These are my links for November 14th through November 15th:

  • Dr. Coburn Releases Report Exposing Billions in Giveaways for Millionaires – U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) today released a new report “Subsidies of the Rich and Famous” illustrating how, under the current tax code, the federal government is giving billions of dollars to individuals with an Annual Gross Income (AGI) of at least $1 million, subsidizing their lavish lifestyles with the taxes of the less fortunate.

    “All Americans are facing tough times, with many working two jobs just to make ends meet and more families turning to the government for financial assistance. From tax write-offs for gambling losses, vacation homes, and luxury yachts to subsidies for their ranches and estates, the government is subsidizing the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Multi-millionaires are even receiving government checks for not working.

    “This welfare for the well-off – costing billions of dollars a year – is being paid for with the taxes of the less fortunate, many who are working two jobs just to make ends meet, and IOUs to be paid off by future generations. We should never demonize those who are successful. Nor should we pamper them with unnecessary welfare to create an appearance everyone is benefiting from federal programs,” Dr. Coburn said.

    These billions of dollars for millionaires include $74 million of unemployment checks, $316 million in farm subsidies, $89 million for preservation of ranches and estates, $9 billion of retirement checks, $75.6 million in residential energy tax credits, and $7.5 million to compensate for damages caused by emergencies to property that should have been insured. All and all, over $9.5 billion in government benefits have been paid to millionaires since 2003. Additionally, millionaires borrowed $16 million in government backed education loans to attend college. On average, each year, this report found that millionaires enjoy benefits from tax giveaways and federal grant programs totaling $30 billion. As a result, almost 1,500 millionaires paid no federal income tax in 2009.

  • ObamaCare and the Limits of Government – The Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether ObamaCare is constitutional, granting certiorari in a case brought by 26 states shortly after that law was enacted in March of last year. In so doing, it will be ruling upon the very nature of our federal union.

    The Constitution limits federal power by granting Congress authority in certain defined areas, such as the regulation of interstate and foreign commerce. Those powers not specifically vested in the federal government by the Constitution or, as stated in the 10th Amendment, “prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.” The court will now determine whether those words still have meaning.

    As we argued two years ago in these pages, the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act (aka ObamaCare) is unconstitutional. First and foremost, the law requires virtually every American to have health insurance. Congress purported to impose this unprecedented “individual mandate” pursuant to its constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce, but the requirement is not limited to those who engage in any particular commercial or economic activity (or any activity at all). Rather, the mandate applies to everyone lawfully present in the United States who does not fall within one of the law’s narrow exclusions.

  • Dems fear Supreme Court will rule against Obama on healthcare reform – Democrats on Capitol Hill are worried that the Supreme Court will rule against President Obama’s healthcare reform law. 

    Over the last couple weeks, congressional Democrats have told The Hill that the law faces danger in the hands of the Supreme Court, which The New York Times editorial page recently labeled the most conservative high court since the 1950s.

    While the lawmakers are not second-guessing the administration’s legal strategy, some are clearly bracing for defeat.

    “Of course I’m concerned,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio). The justices “decide for insurance companies, they decide for oil companies, they decide for the wealthy too often.”

    The pessimism is fueled in part by the John Roberts court’s decision in the 2010 Citizens United case on corporate spending in elections, which Brown has called the “worst” in his memory.

    The comments underscore the gamble the White House took when it opted not to seek to delay the high court’s review until after the 2012 election. That decision leaves the fate of Democrats’ signature domestic achievement in the hands of a right-leaning court that has consistently ruled against liberals on everything from campaign finance to the District of Columbia’s gun ban to Bush v. Gore.

  • Kagan to Tribe on Day Obamacare Passed: ‘I Hear They Have the Votes, Larry!! – On Sunday, March 21, 2010, the day the House of Representatives passed President Barack Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, then-Solicitor General Elena Kagan and famed Supreme Court litigator and Harvard Law Prof. Laurence Tribe, who was then serving in the Justice Department, had an email exchange in which they discussed the pending health-care vote, according to documents the Department of Justice released late Wednesday to the Media Research Center, CNSNews.com’s parent organization, and to Judicial Watch.

    “I hear they have the votes, Larry!! Simply amazing,” Kagan said to Tribe in one of the emails.

    The Justice Department released a new batch of emails on Wednesday evening as its latest response to Freedom of Information Act requests filed by CNSNews.com and Judicial Watch. Both organizations filed federal lawsuits against DOJ after the department did not initially respond to the requests. CNSNews.com originally filed its FOIA request on May 25, 2010–before Elena Kagan’s June 2010 Supreme Court confirmation hearings.

    The March 2010 email exchange between Kagan and Tribe raises new questions about whether Kagan must recuse herself from judging cases involving the health-care law that Obama signed–and which became the target of legal challenges–while Kagan was serving as Obama’s solicitor general and was responsible for defending his administration’s positions in court disputes.

    According to 28 USC 455, a Supreme Court justice must recuse from “any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” The law also says a justice must recuse anytime he has “expressed an opinion concerning the merits of the particular case in controversy” while he “served in governmental employment.”

  • Occupy Wall Street – How Long, How Many, Which Cities? – How is Occupy Wall Street faring—not broadly, but at this very moment? Below, we’ve compiled a few indicators that attempt to answer this question, from conditions in Zuccotti Park to the movement’s global spread. The metrics, which update every five minutes, are admittedly imperfect and far from comprehensive, but we hope they give you a sense of how things are going. If you would like to see a particular datapoint included, let us know in the comments.
  • The real Wall Street occupation is online – The Occupy Wall Street movement, now that it has broadened in scope beyond the financial district of Manhattan to attain a truly national — even global — scale has the potential to lay the groundwork for a new generation of start-ups capable of reshaping the financial system in radically new ways. These tech start-ups, while officially unaffiliated with the Occupy Wall Street movement, are nonetheless responding to the unmet needs of these protesters, individuals who feel abandoned by the current financial system.

    The breakout company of the Occupy Wall Street movement thus far has been Palo Alto-based WePay, a start-up largely unknown until the protest movement began September 17. Over the past 45 days, WePay has become the de facto official way to send money to the “Occupy” protesters while simultaneously bypassing the largest financial institutions. At a time when many payment alternatives already exist, it’s more than a coincidence that an unknown technology player, free of any associations with the banking establishment, has emerged as the financial intermediary of choice. Just a few months ago, the obvious choice for sending money to an organization like Occupy Wall Street would have been PayPal, but that was before the company decided to cooperate with the financial embargo against WikiLeaks.

  • Immigration from Mexico in fast retreat, data show – North of the U.S.-Mexico border, Republican presidential candidates are talking tough on illegal immigration, with one proposing — perhaps in jest — an electrified fence to deter migrants.

    But data from both sides of the border suggest that illegal immigration from Mexico is already in fast retreat, as U.S. job shortages, tighter border enforcement and the frightening presence of criminal gangs on the Mexican side dissuade many from making the trip.

    Mexican census figures show that fewer Mexicans are setting out and many are returning — leaving net migration at close to zero, Mexican officials say. Arrests by the U.S. Border Patrol along the southwestern frontier, a common gauge of how many people try to cross without papers, tumbled to 304,755 during the 11 months ended in August, extending a nearly steady drop since a peak of 1.6 million in 2000.

    The scale of the fall has prompted some to suggest that a decades-long migration boom may be ending, even as others argue that the decline is only momentary.

    “Our country is not experiencing the population loss due to migration that was seen for nearly 50 years,” Rene Zenteno, a deputy Mexico interior secretary for migration matters, has said.

    Douglas Massey, an immigration scholar at Princeton University, said surveys of residents in Mexican migrant towns he has studied for many years found that the number of people making their first trip north had dwindled to near zero.

  • Some Residents Cheer the Clearing of Zuccotti Park – Some Residents Cheer Clearing of Zuccotti Park
    As residents and office workers woke to a Zuccotti Park cleared of its protest encampment, some cheered the removal while others objected to the tough police action that brought it about, my colleague Cara Buckley reports:

     

    One young father, pushing his toddler son in a stroller, gave police officers guarding Zuccotti Park a thumbs up. Another man, rushing by in a cream suit, flashed them a mega-watt grin. The sight of the park, freshly cleared and washed, stopped a blonde woman walking by in her tracks. “Ooooooh, good,” she cooed.

    The clearing of Zuccotti Park struck a deep blow to the Occupy Wall Street movement, which had used the site as its physical and spiritual heart. But as the newly ousted protesters gathered in Foley Square to decide what to do next, many residents, workers and business owners near the park felt deep relief. ” Super ecstatic,” said a young office worker. “Definitely relieved,” said a young woman working behind the counter at Panini & Co., a cafe overlooking the park.

    Paul Bruno, 54, who lives in the Bronx but has serviced elevators in Lower Manhattan for 30 years, had lunched daily in the park. He agreed with the protesters’ message, he said, but not their means. “The movement is the right movement,” he said, “but the movement got lost.”

    Another man, who worked nearby and said he could not give his name because it was against his company’s rules, said it was time for the park to be cleared.

    “It started out as a cool grassroots movement, he said, ” and then it turned into a big homeless camp.”

    Still residents described a frightening scene last night, with police rushing into the park, bright lights glaring and helicopters whirring above. Mark Scherzer, a lawyer who lives half a block from the park, said he found the clearing deeply upsetting.

    “I think the protesters were doing a valuable service,” he said, “And I think it was lawful for them to be there.”

  • More Republicans say Cain allegations are “serious matter” – Most Republicans now see the allegations of sexual harassment against Herman Cain as a serious matter, according to a new Post-ABC poll, a switch from a poll taken just after the charges were first reported. And while two-thirds continue to say the accusations are not going to determine their vote, there’s also still a deep split between GOP men and women.

    Just after the harassment allegations surfaced publicly, 54 percent of all Republicans were skeptical of their seriousness. Now, by contrast, 64 percent assess the situation as a serious one, with the biggest shift among women.

    Fully 74 percent of Republican women call the charges serious, up from 39 percent in early November. Men are also reflecting the trend, but less dramatically so, rising from 36 to 53 percent.

  • Why Do I Need a Google+ Business Page? – Yesterday Google+ rolled out the much-anticipated Google+ Page feature, and now businesses, brands, products, entertainers, and lots of other entities can have their own accounts.

    I know what you’re thinking: Great, another social media page I have to manage for my company.

    Hey, I’m with you — just when you think you’ve figured out how to make business gains from Twitter and Facebook, along comes Google+, another widespread social tool that’s a big, wide-open question mark.

    But you know what? Reserving your spot for your brand now is probably a good idea, even if you haven’t figured out what you’re doing with it. I did.

    You can register a Google+ business page here, but keep in mind that you have to have a personal Google+ account first. Only one user per account so far, and vanity URLs are not available yet. But why?

  • Court order allows Occupy Wall St. protesters back – Hundreds of police officers in riot gear raided Zuccotti Park early Tuesday, evicting dozens of Occupy Wall Street protesters from what has become the epicenter of the worldwide movement protesting corporate greed and economic inequality.

    Hours later, the National Lawyers Guild obtained a court order allowing Occupy Wall Street protesters to return with tents to the park. The guild said the injunction prevents the city from enforcing park rules on Occupy Wall Street protesters.

    At a morning news conference at City Hall, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city knew about the court order but had not seen it and would go to court to fight it. He said the city wants to protect people’s rights, but if a choice must be made, it will protect public safety.

    About 70 people were arrested overnight, including some who chained themselves together, while officers cleared the park so that sanitation crews could clean it.

    By 9 a.m., the park was power-washed clean. Police in riot gear still ringed the public space, waiting for orders to reopen it.

  • Gingrich: I’m auditioning to be “conservative alternative” to Romney – On Fox News this morning, Newt Gingrich jabbed Mitt Romney while responding to polls showing him vaulting into the top-tier.

    “I think you’ve had a series of people — it started with Tim Pawlenty, and then Michele Bachmann, and then Rick Perry, then Herman Cain — there’ve been a series of people who’ve, sort of, auditioning for being the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney.

    And Mitt Romney’s being very stable and very steady, and now, we’re in a situation where — to some extent — people are looking at Newt Gingrich and having to decide: do they like the solutions I’m offering?”

    So far, Gingrich has shown great restraint in hitting Romney, but this might be the beginnings of his case.

    Yesterday, a Public Policy Polling survey showed Newt leading Romney by 10%, while a CNN poll had Romney up by 2%.

    That earned Gingrich the rare distinction of being the lead story on both The Drudge Report and Huffington Post at the same time.

  • Twitter Can Predict Who’s Winning the GOP Presidential Race [Study] – Political candidates do better in the polls when they gain more Twitter followers, new research reveals. National polls happen all the time but it’s possible to predict when certain candidates will climb in the rankings based the rate they are followed.

    Zach Green, CEO of Twitter election researcher 140elect, wrote in a blog post Friday that he anticipated this trend, but now has the stats to prove it.

    “A lot of people were surprised [Newt] Gingrich is now in second place, but we’ve seen that coming since Sep. 7,” Green told Mashable. “Twitter indicates he’ll continue to pick up.”

    Gingrich (visualized below) gained a slew of new followers when he announced his candidacy on May 11 and on Sept. 7 after an impressive GOP debate performance. Both events led to poll gains. The candidate’s Twitter momentum has steadily increased over the last two months, which Green predicts will lead to continued poll gains.

  • Day By Day November 13, 2011 – Zombies | Flap’s Blog – FullosseousFlap’s Dental Blog – Day By Day November 13, 2011 – Zombies #tcot #catcot
  • @Flap Twitter Updates for 2011-11-15 | Flap’s Blog – FullosseousFlap’s Dental Blog – @Flap Twitter Updates for 2011-11-15 #tcot #catcot
  • Dilbert November 13, 2011 – The Invisible Man » Flap’s California Blog – Dilbert November 13, 2011 – The Invisible Man
  • The Afternoon Flap: November 14, 2011 | Flap’s Blog – FullosseousFlap’s Dental Blog – The Afternoon Flap: November 14, 2011 #tcot #catcot
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