Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and President Obama yesterday
These are my links for January 25th through January 26th:
Apple’s iPad and the Human Costs for Workers in China – In the last decade, Apple has become one of the mightiest, richest and most successful companies in the world, in part by mastering global manufacturing. Apple and its high-technology peers — as well as dozens of other American industries — have achieved a pace of innovation nearly unmatched in modern history.
However, the workers assembling iPhones, iPads and other devices often labor in harsh conditions, according to employees inside those plants, worker advocates and documents published by companies themselves. Problems are as varied as onerous work environments and serious — sometimes deadly — safety problems.
Employees work excessive overtime, in some cases seven days a week, and live in crowded dorms. Some say they stand so long that their legs swell until they can hardly walk. Under-age workers have helped build Apple’s products, and the company’s suppliers have improperly disposed of hazardous waste and falsified records, according to company reports and advocacy groups that, within China, are often considered reliable, independent monitors.
More troubling, the groups say, is some suppliers’ disregard for workers’ health. Two years ago, 137 workers at an Apple supplier in eastern China were injured after they were ordered to use a poisonous chemical to clean iPhone screens. Within seven months last year, two explosions at iPad factories, including in Chengdu, killed four people and injured 77. Before those blasts, Apple had been alerted to hazardous conditions inside the Chengdu plant, according to a Chinese group that published that warning.
Thou Shalt Not Write Bad Things About Obama – Drudge has a story about Obama getting off of Air Force One in Arizona, greeting Republican governor Jan Brewer, and immediately giving her a piece of his mind. Evidently our president did not appreciate something Brewer wrote about him. According to the pool report, they had a testy exchange from which the president walked away as Brewer was still speaking.
Sound familiar? Bobby Jindal got the same treatment when Obama came to visit Louisiana and the governor met him on the tarmac
“He’s not going to ask me to stay on, I’m pretty confident,” Geithner said in an interview with Bloomberg Television today. “I’m confident he’ll be president. But I’m also confident he’s going to have the privilege of having another secretary of the Treasury.”
Geithner, 50, has led President Barack Obama’s efforts to pull the U.S. economy out of the worst recession since World War II. Before joining the administration in 2009, Geithner was president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, playing a key role in the U.S. government’s bailouts of banks including Citigroup Inc. (C) and Bank of America Corp. (BAC), and automakers General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC.
Because how unfair — indeed, un-American — it is for an office worker like, say, Warren Buffet’s secretary to dutifully pay her taxes, while some well-to-do people with better educations and higher incomes end up paying a much smaller tax rate.
Or, worse, skipping their taxes altogether.
A new report just out from the Internal Revenue Service reveals that 36 of President Obama’s executive office staff owe the country $833,970 in back taxes. These people working for Mr. Fair Share apparently haven’t paid any share, let alone their fair share.
Previous reports have shown how well-paid Obama’s White House staff is, with 457 aides pulling down more than $37 million last year. That’s up seven workers and nearly $4 million from the Bush administration’s last year.
Nearly one-third of Obama’s aides make more than $100,000 with 21 being paid the top White House salary of $172,200, each.
The IRS’ 2010 delinquent tax revelations come as part of a required annual agency report on federal employees’ tax compliance. Turns out, an awful lot of folks being paid by taxpayers are not paying their own income taxes.
There are many theories on who, over a four-day period, forked over the names of GOP Reps. Pete Sessions (Texas), Buck McKeon (Calif.) and Elton Gallegly (Calif.) to media outlets in reference to an ongoing investigation into VIP loans given to lawmakers by Countrywide.
The leaks stunned the three legislators, who have all denied accepting special rates on the loans in exchange for political favors.
Some are pointing the finger at House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) for releasing the publicly sensitive information, though his office is pushing back at that notion.
How Patrick Swayze died: Why we should care – When I finished my book on famous patients, the most common question I received was “Are the stories of sick celebrities really relevant to other patients?” My answer was that yes, with some caveats, these experiences are well-worth knowing.
The same can be said for the story of Patrick Swayze’s terminal pancreatic cancer, which has now been told by his widow, actress Lisa Niemi Swayze, in a new book, “Worth Fighting For: Love, Loss and Moving Forward.” Patrick Swayze, a dancer and actor best known for his roles in the films “Dirty Dancing” and “Ghost,” was diagnosed in January 2008 and died of the disease in September 2009 at the age of 57. He was originally told he would live only a few months.
First, the caveats. Like most celebrities, Swayze had the means, as his wife says, to “think outside the box.” He enrolled in a clinical trial at Stanford University, traveling regularly to Palo Alto from Los Angeles for experimental chemotherapy. Swayze also was a VIP patient, getting first-class attention from top doctors and hospital staffs. Most patients experience greater hurdles.
Nor should pancreatic cancer patients who read “Worth Fighting For” assume that they, like Swazey, can beat the odds and survive longer if they take the same medications that he did. Every case of pancreatic cancer, like all cancers, is different.
The Buffett Ruse – WSJ.com – Remember the moment in 2008 when Charlie Gibson of ABC News asked Senator Barack Obama why he would support raising the capital gains tax even though “revenues from the tax increased” when the rate fell? Mr. Obama’s famous reply: “I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness.” Well, we were warned.
Here we are four years later, and President Obama on Tuesday night linked the term “fair” to U.S. tax and economic policy seven times. The U.S. economy is still hobbling out of recession, real family incomes are falling and 14 million Americans are unemployed, but Mr. Obama declared that his top priority is not to reform the tax code to promote growth and job creation. His overriding goal is redistributing income.
Mr. Obama endorsed the political ruse he calls the Buffett rule, which asserts as a matter of moral principle that millionaires should not pay a lower tax rate than middle-class wage earners. Specifically, Mr. Obama is proposing that anyone earning more than $1 million pay at least 30% of that income to Uncle Barack.
The White House says that if a millionaire household’s effective tax rate falls below 30%, it would have to pay a surcharge—in essence a new Super Alternative Minimum Tax—to bring the tax liability to 30%. For those facing this new Super AMT, all deductions and exemptions would be eliminated except for charity.
Scott Walker leads in Wisconsin recall poll – Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) is ahead in his likely recall election even as his campaign raises — and spends — millions of dollars in expectation of a tough race later this year.
According to a new Marquette Law School poll the governor leads Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, a likely candidate, 50 percent to 44 percent. He leads former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, the only declared Democratic candidate, 49 percent to 42 percent margin, former Rep. David Obey 49 percent to 43 percent and state Sen. Tim Cullen 50 percent to 40 percent.
Democrats started targeting Walker last year, when he spearheaded controversial legislation limiting collective bargaining for public employees. Under Wisconsin law, Walker was not eligible for a recall election until January of this year.
These are my links for January 11th through January 12th:
Mormons in America – Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life – With a Mormon candidate among the front-runners for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, a musical about Mormons playing on Broadway and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) running television ads about ordinary Mormons, America is in the midst of what some media accounts have dubbed a “Mormon moment.” But how do Mormons themselves feel about the media spotlight, the election campaign and their place in America? A major new survey finds a mixed picture: Many Mormons feel they are misunderstood, discriminated against and not accepted by other Americans as part of mainstream society. Yet, at the same time, a majority of Mormons think that acceptance of Mormonism is rising. Overwhelmingly, they are satisfied with their lives and content with their communities. And most say they think the country is ready to elect a Mormon president.
Coming off his decisive win in Tuesday’s New Hampshire Primary, Romney earns 41% support with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich a distant second at 19%. A new telephone survey of Likely Florida Republican Primary Voters finds former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum running third with 15% of the vote.
Speaking to a sold-out Sarasota audience on Wednesday, Bush said she had hoped that her brother-in-law and former Florida governor would have jumped into the race this year.
Husband George W. Bush “and I wish he would,” Laura Bush said when asked if Jeb Bush will run for president someday. “We wanted him to this time.”
Laura Bush singled out his work on education as a key reason he would make a good president. She said his commitment to public policy is evident.
Jeb Bush has repeatedly said he is not running for president in 2012, though he has not ruled out a future campaign.
3 billionaires who’ll drag out the race – Meet the three billionaires who could drag out the GOP presidential primary, bloody up front-runner Mitt Romney and weaken the odds of defeating President Barack Obama: Sheldon Adelson, Foster Friess and Jon Huntsman, Sr.
The three men are contributing millions of dollars to a trio of outside groups flooding the airwaves in early voting states with brutal ads attacking Romney and ads backing the candidates they would prefer to win the Republican nomination.
Homeland Security watches Twitter, social media – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s command center routinely monitors dozens of popular websites, including Facebook, Twitter, Hulu, WikiLeaks and news and gossip sites including the Huffington Post and Drudge Report, according to a government document.
A “privacy compliance review” issued by DHS last November says that since at least June 2010, its national operations center has been operating a “Social Networking/Media Capability” which involves regular monitoring of “publicly available online forums, blogs, public websites and message boards.”
Aaron Suggs had been designated a non-serious, nonviolent felon when he was released from state prison Dec. 8 after serving a sentence for drug possession. That designation resulted in his supervision, upon release, being assigned to the Sacramento County Probation Department rather than state parole agents under a program adopted by the state last year to cut its costs.
State prisons spokesman Luis Patino said last year’s change in state law shifting responsibilities for some felons to counties did not affect how long Suggs spent in prison. County officials also denied that the shifting of post-prison supervision had an effect on Suggs’ ability to commit the crime, although Suggs spent five days in county jail for not immediately reporting to his county probation officer after his release from prison.
Suggs was arrested Monday after he allegedly sexually assaulted a woman in a house near the Capitol and stole some of her possessions.
These are my links for November 10th through November 14th:
CHELSEA CLINTON TO SHARE “MAKING A DIFFERENCE” STORIES FOR “NBC NIGHTLY NEWS” AND “ROCK CENTER WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS”– Chelsea Clinton is teaming up with “Rock Center with Brian Williams” and “NBC Nightly News” as a Special Correspondent, the network announced today. Clinton’s role with the shows and the network will be to highlight stories within the “Making a Difference” franchise.”Making a Difference” segments have a history of profiling organizations and individuals who represent the best of what works in the United States and around the world, frequently emphasizing stories about everyday people doing extraordinary things. Clinton’s dedication to public service, solution-based advocacy and focus on empowering people across the country and around the globe resonates with the purpose and content of “Making a Difference.” Her position with NBC News will still allow Clinton to continue her work with the Clinton Foundation and her studies in parallel.
“Chelsea is a remarkable woman who will be a great addition to NBC News. Given her vast experiences, it’s as though Chelsea has been preparing for this opportunity her entire life,” said Steve Capus, President of NBC News. “We are proud she will be bringing her considerable, unique talents and dedication to NBC News.”
“Our Making a Difference segments have become a signature of the broadcast. They adhere to a simple goal of highlighting the good works being done across the country and around the world,” said Brian Williams, Anchor and Managing Editor of Nightly News and Rock Center. “Chelsea Clinton has led a remarkable life. She possesses an uncommon understanding of humanity — on city streets, across this country and around the globe. We are so excited she’s joining us to tell the stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.”
Friday question answered – The Pros and Cons of Newt Gingrich– Yet there are still conservatives entranced with his patter and admiring of his intellect. PBS727 declares, “You bet he can. Strongest candidate out there. To hell with with his personal baggage. Just look at [Bill] Clinton, [John F.] Kennedy.” Carldahlmann argues: “Gingrich knows history, and he knows Congress. He’s smart and quick — he would kill Obama in any debate. In spite of his personal baggage, I think he’d make a dynamite President, and would create a very effective troika with Boehner and McConnell — this would be the Democrats’ worst nightmare, which is why I like it.”I agree that Gingrich will benefit for some time from Herman Cain’s and Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s woes. It is ironic that the feisty base, which wants to fight, fight, fight against the Democrats, would consider the last GOP speaker of the House to get badly rolled by the White House. But in short order not only his personal baggage but his embrace of decidedly unconservative ideas and ethical problems will become a turnoff for many evangelicals, the group the not-Romney candidate must capture. For all of his flash and humor, Gingrich remains a loose cannon and an inconsistent conservative — not exactly what the not-Romney crowd is looking for.
Democrats obsessed with Romney?– Borrowing the title from a popular new wave song from the 1980s, Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign is out Monday with an email that highlights the numerous recent attacks on the Republican presidential candidate by national Democrats.In an email with the heading “You’re My Obsession,” the Romney campaign states that “President Obama’s political machine has developed an obsession with attacking Governor Romney.”
The former Massachusetts governor, who’s making his second bid for the White House, has been at or near the top of most national polls this year in the race for the GOP presidential nomination, and he’s also currently at or near the top in surveys in crucial early voting states.
For months, Romney’s been the target of Web videos and emails from the Obama re-election campaign, the Democratic National Committee, and Priorities USA, an independent group that is supporting the president’s re-election bid. But the efforts seem to have stepped up in recent weeks.
Many of the emails and Web videos highlight what the Democrats call Romney’s “flip-flop” on numerous issues.
Canada Will Sell Oil To China If US Keeps Delaying The Pipeline – The Obama administration put off the decision to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline until 2013.
But that won’t stop Canada from trying to find another buyer, namely China, according to AFP.
Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, has already spoken with Chinese President Hu Jintao about possible oil exports this past Saturday.
Harper told reporters, “This does underscore the necessity of Canada making sure that we are able to access Asian markets for our energy products.”
With plans for the Keystone XL oil pipeline on the rocks, and China looking to diversify its energy supplier portfolio, this might be the perfect opportunity for Canada to get its foot in the door of the Chinese energy market.
Poll Watch: Voters split on harassment charges, favor lie detector test– Likely voters are split over whether to believe Herman Cain or the women who accused him of sexual harassment, but a plurality would like him to take a lie detector test to help decide the issue.According to The Hill Poll, likely voters are split, 39 percent to 40 percent respectively, on whether they believe Cain or his accusers. Another 21 percent aren’t sure whom to believe.
Forty-seven percent of likely voters would like him to follow through on his professed willingness to take a lie detector test, while 35 percent said he should not and 18 percent were not sure.
Back in September he told a TV station that the U.S. had “gotten a little soft’’ when it came to competing in international markets.
On Saturday, speaking at a business forum on the sidelines of an economic summit in Honolulu, he said the U.S. had been “lazy’’ when it came to enticing businesses to invest in America.
“But we’ve been a little bit lazy, I think, over the last couple of decades,’’ the president said. “We’ve kind of taken for granted — well, people will want to come here and we aren’t out there hungry, selling America and trying to attract new business into America.”
Soft and lazy. Sounds like America could use a few months on Parris Island.
Not that he’s lost hope. In the first year of his term, he gave a healthcare speech and proclaimed that “we can do great things.’’
This year, in his State of the Union speech, he was no less optimistic.
Americans, he said, are a people who “do big things.’’
“Lazy’’ is a strong word, though, and in a staid talk about trade and currency policy, it caused a bit of a stir.
Washington’s unwelcome delay in the Keystone XL pipeline project– EARLY LAST WEEK, as the Obama administration prepared to announce a delay in deciding whether to permit the construction of the Canada-U.S. Keystone XL oil pipeline, Joe Oliver, Canada’s natural resources minister, was in Asia to discuss cooperation with the energy-hungry and cash-flush Chinese on extracting his nation’s oil reserves. Given that China already has an $11 billion stake in Canadian oil production, Mr. Oliver should have little trouble getting the help.Despite the passion among environmentalists against Keystone XL, Mr. Oliver’s travels illustrate the critical point: Canada’s oil will come out of the ground, and someone somewhere will refine it and burn it.
Video: FINALLY: Warren Buffett Reveals What HIS Tax Plan Would Look Like – Warren Buffett is on CNBC this morning talking about the Buffett tax.
As he’s indicated before, what Obama calls the “Buffett Rule” (higher taxes on the rich, basically) differs from his real proposal for such a tax.
His idea is really simple.
He says his tax would require earners making over $1 million to pay 30% of their income in taxes and those making more than $10 million to pay 35%—something he admits most people are already doing.
The difference between the current progressive system, and his idea is that his scheme wouldn’t give any breaks to people who get much of their money from capital gains.
President Newt?– Newt Gingrich did very well for himself in the foreign policy debate Saturday, especially when he put down a smug Scott Pelley on the issue of whether killing Al-Awlaki comported with the “rule of law.” … Jennifer Rubin and I discuss what a Gingrich Presidency might be like in our most recent Ricochet podcast here (starting about 4:20 in). Rubin also has a detailed post on why Gingrich is not a “conservative dreamboat.” … A key point not addressed by issues papers is his firmness in negotiation, or lack thereof. During the welfare reform debate of 1995-6, my impression was that Gingrich always wants to be the hero who walks into the room and cuts the grand deal. As a result he is all-too-ready to make dramatic concessions, which is one reason Clinton cleaned his clock in the post-1994 budget negotiations. Fastest sellout in the West! …KEYWORDS: INFANTILE, EGOMANIAC
Some Democrats refuse to back President Obama– Sen. Joe Lieberman was treated like an outcast back in 2008 when he broke from the Senate Democratic Caucus and openly opposed Barack Obama’s bid for the White House.Asked last week if he’d back Obama in 2012, the Connecticut independent said, “I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
This time around, there may be more Liebermans.
A number of moderate Democrats like Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar and liberals like Sen. Bernie Sanders are declining to give their unqualified support for the president, saying they’re either too focused on their own races or are calling on the White House to cater to their agendas before they will offer an endorsement. Some up for reelection in red states or in swing districts fear that even showing up on stage with Obama will give their opponents an image to seize upon — much as Democrats did in 2008 when they repeatedly flashed shots of Sen. John McCain hugging President George W. Bush.
So as the president faces the dual challenges of energizing his base while wooing moderates, some Democrats in Congress are keeping their distance, with the president’s approval rating hovering in the mid-40s — and even lower in states like West Virginia, where moderate Sen. Joe Manchin is up for reelection.
Obama Dings Republicans On Waterboarding, Says Jobs Bill May Have To Wait Until After Election – President Barack Obama took one of his first swings at his Republican opponents on Sunday, criticizing Rep. Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain for supporting the use of waterboarding.
In an afternoon press conference at the APEC summit in Hawaii, Obama was read comments from the two aspiring presidents, and set aside his vow not to comment on the Republican race until they have a nominee to categorically defend his administration’s stance on the issue:
“Let me just say this: They’re wrong. Waterboarding is torture,” he said. “It’s contrary to America’s traditions. It’s contrary to our ideals. That’s not who we are. That’s not how we operate. We don’t need it in order to prosecute the war on terrorism. And we did the right thing by ending that practice. ”
“If we want to lead around the world, part of our leadership is setting a good example. And anybody who has actually read about and understands the practice of waterboarding would say that that is torture. And that’s not something we do — period.”
But Obama refused to attack former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for criticizing his record dealing with Iran, saying only that it’s a complicated issue — and anyone who says otherwise “is either politicking or doesn’t know what they’re talking about.”
Anti-Newt Gingrich chatter begins– A conservative source forwards an anti-Newt Gingrich email making the rounds this weekend, drawing Republicans’ attention to the former House speaker’s history of off-message and ideologically erratic comments.The email is a reminder of the challenge Gingrich faces ahead of him, if he really has to go through the same level of vetting as other credible GOP presidential candidates — like Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann did when they were on the upswing in the polls. But it’s also a sign that Gingrich’s rise is being taken seriously by his opponents inside the party. The email reads, in part:
Fellow Conservatives I urge all of to take a hard look at the real Newt Gingrich. Take 10 minutes of your time to read this email and pass it around as we can’t afford another faux president.
*The Newt Gingrich Files: Does he know where he stands?*
*MUST KNOW QUOTES*
• Gingrich: “There Are Parts Of The DREAM Act That Are Actually Quite Useful.” (“Newt And Callista Gingrich On Al Punto With Jorge Ramos,” Newt.org, 10/13/10)
• In A 2007 Interview With PBS, Gingrich Came Out In Favor Of A Cap And Trade System, Saying “It’s Something I Would Strongly Support.” (PBS’ “Frontline,” 4/24/07)
How Gingrich Can Win– Rich Galen explains how Newt Gingrich can win the GOP presidential nomination.”The two candidates who are stable in their numbers are Romney (with a ceiling of about 25 percent of GOP voters) and Ron Paul (who will stay between six and 10 percent). That leaves about 65 percent of Republican voters looking for a home. Cain will continue to drift downward (my words, not Newt’s); Santorum, Huntsman, and Bachman are, and will continue to be minor players.”
“So, Newt’s thinking goes, he doesn’t need to beat Romney — he needs to consolidate the non-Romney vote and he’s the only one who can do that.”
An example from recent history: “Sixty-two percent of Iowa voters wanted someone other than Barack Obama four years ago. The only reason he won was because Hillary and Edwards almost precisely split 60 percent of the votes.”
The American Spectator : Charlie Hebdo, Free Speech, and Islam – Unfortunately, the persistence of such sentiments only invites one to state principles that might seem obvious, but never grow unworthy of affirmation. There is no moral equivalence between those exercising their right to free speech and Islamists who wish to impose the standards of traditional Sharia (Islamic law) on society and are prepared to harm physically others and their property to achieve that end.
More generally, this affair — along with the attack on a Tunisian TV station for broadcasting the film Persepolis, and the death threats that forced the flight from Pakistan of the judge who convicted the assassin of Salman Taseer, the Punjab governor who opposed the blasphemy law — demonstrates that Islam as a whole still has a long way to go to come towards accepting basic standards of toleration of criticism.
In short, one hopes that the following principle — well summed up by a prominent Melkite Greek Catholic deacon — will come to be accepted as mainstream in Islam: ‘[O]ne’s response to someone else’s provocative action is entirely one’s own responsibility. If you do something that offends me, I am under no obligation to kill you, or to run to the United Nations to try to get laws passed that will silence you. I am free to ignore you, or laugh at you, or to respond with charity, or any number of reactions.’
Facing Eurocollapse – As the world financial crisis deepens, it is unlikely that it can be alleviated without carefully reviewing the infelicitous confluence of mistakes in Europe and the United States that has brought it to its present extreme state. The European Monetary Union, involving 17 countries, was based on a number of generally admirable premises, but also on a couple of false assumptions. All civilized people were grateful at the extension of European cooperation to this new level of intimacy, as ancient foes led by France and Germany reached an ever-closer community of national interest. For German chancellor Helmut Kohl, who did not trust Germany’s political instincts to cause his country to act responsibly when alone and not in the company of allies of less erratic recent history, an ever-closer union was an insurance policy of constructive peer-group thinking. He was sincere in espousing “a European Germany and not a German Europe.”
Romney and Gingrich Shine; Perry Doesn’t – No one touched Romney. He was unflappable and knowledgeable. He again showed the right political instinct to want to address the struggles of the middle class, although his tax plan doesn’t do it. His China-bashing will probably play well in the Midwest, although it’s foolhardy on the merits. He consistently got applause. I remember one of the early debates when Romney was flying above the other candidates and Pawlenty — I think — attacked him and he declined to reply, saying “that’s fine.” He said the same thing tonight when Santorum went after him. After all the churning in the race, Romney is in the same basically comfortable place he was in several months ago.
Teens, Kindness and Cruelty on Social Network Sites – As social media use has become pervasive in the lives of American teens, a new study finds that 69% of the teenagers who use social networking sites say their peers are mostly kind to one another on such sites. Still, 88% of these teens say they have witnessed people being mean and cruel to another person on the sites, and 15% report that they have been the target of mean or cruel behavior on social network sites.
GOP senators praise Boxer on highway bill– California Sen. Barbara Boxer won rare praise from Republicans on Wednesday for unanimously passing an overhaul of federal highway programs bill out of her committee.Boxer, a liberal Democrat who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, worked hand-in-hand with conservative Oklahoma Republican James Inhofe to consolidate 90 federal highway programs into 30, grant states more flexibility in spending highway money and expand a pilot program to leverage taxpayer money with private investment.
The two-year, $84 billion bill has no earmarks for pet projects and aims to offset all new spending with trims in other areas of the government. The 18-0 vote was a rare moment in the bitterly partisan climate on Capitol Hill and provides a template for infrastructure investment that has been sought by the Obama administration but rebuffed by Republicans.
The Senate last week defeated President Obama’s proposal for $50 billion in infrastructure spending.
These are my links for August 18th from 14:07 to 20:57:
Warren Buffett’s derided wisdom – LA Times Smoking Crack Again – Investors might hang on Warren Buffett's every word when it comes to financial advice, but Republicans are less than enthusiastic about the Oracle of Omaha's opinions on taxation. After the billionaire chairman of investment firm Berkshire Hathaway wrote an op-ed in the New York Times complaining that the mega-rich are undertaxed in comparison to the middle class, conservatives urged him to voluntarily send more of his own money to the Internal Revenue Service and leave others alone. Not only are they willfully missing Buffett's point, they're seemingly oblivious to the fact that in many ways his tax ideas mirror those of Ronald Reagan.
Hard to believe as it may seem, it has been a quarter of a century since the last comprehensive overhaul of the U.S. tax code. Under the Tax Reform Act of 1986, which was signed by President Reagan, the number of tax brackets was reduced, loopholes were closed, the top tax rate was lowered and capital gains were taxed at the same rate as ordinary income. Yet in the years since, Congress has steadily drilled loopholes back into the code while lowering the tax burden for wealthy people who make money through investments rather than labor. That was the source of Buffett's complaint.
But, what did Reagan do in 1981?
The LA Times Editorial writers either wish to ignore history or simply have been smoking LEFT WING Crack for way too long.
President 2012: Lawsuit Alleges Rick Santorum’s Website Built With ‘Counterfeit’ Font – The company's complaint calls out Raise Digital for taking fonts from their Fedra font family and modifying them so they could be used on Santorum's website. Designers often use a method available through a technology called Cascading Style Sheets to host a font on their client's web server and provide it to each visitor — but generally, they make sure to get license to use that font on the web first. The complaint, which goes out of its way to say that the Santorum campaign isn't involved, alleges that Raise Digital — or whomever Raise Digital hired to do the design work — didn't have that license.
Then things get technical: The suit says the font that appeared on Santorum's website was a modified version of one of theirs — tweaked so that it would work on the web — and that the resulting product was "counterfeit."
I asked Gabe Levine, a San Francisco-based intellectual property lawyer who represents new media companies, if what Typotheque alleges Raise Digital did would be a rookie mistake.
"I'd say it's pretty rookie, yeah," he said. Later in the conversation, he added, "When one of my competent developer clients uses a font, they make damn well sure they have a right to use it."
Raise Digital's founder, Justin Hart — who we know from his work for Chuck DeVore's aborted campaign last year to become the Republican nominee for one of California's U.S. Senate seats — declined to comment.
These are my links for August 16th through August 17th:
Is Rick Perry the new Fred Thompson? – Perry has criticized Arizona’s tough anti-illegal immigration laws, and is a supporter of comprehensive immigration reform, a battery of legislation that would put over 10 million illegal immigrants on a path to citizenship. Conservatives call this amnesty. They are so offended by the policy that they were able to stop its implementation when another Texas Republican tried to push it through with help from a Democratic congress. Conservatives never trusted Bush again.
Perry has also issues with social conservatives. He approved mandatory HPV vaccinations for all Texas public school girls above the objections of the religious right. He says he is “Okay” with New York’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage, a provocative position for a candidate who wants to appeal to religious conservaties, and one that could intensify the now-whispered accusation that Perry is a closeted homosexual.
And moderates can find plenty to dislike as well. There was the governor’s well-publicized flirtation with secession in 2009 for starters. And Perry’s religiosity goes beyond investing common American political maxims with Biblical language the way Obama does. Perry has encouraged Texas residents to pray for rain, a decision that was widely mocked. And he is holding a Day of Prayer and Fasting on August 6 that will include a panoply of pastors whose views go beyond the Evangelical mainstream. Needless to say, DAR Republicans don’t want a candidate whose religious friends describe the Statue of Liberty as an “idol” or think Oprah’s career portends the arrival of the Antichrist.
“The Gardasil debacle is just one of many concerns a wide range of grassroots conservative activists have about Perry's record as governor,” said prominent conservative blogger Michelle Malkin, who wrote a post critical of Perry on Wednesday. “He’s soft on illegal immigration despite a few recent nods to border enforcement. He's prone to crony capitalism. And as the vaccine mandate scandal shows, he demonstrated Nanny State tendencies that are anathema to Tea Party core principles.”
Perry has also ruffled feathers with social conservatives in recent days by saying that under 10th Amendment principles, gay marriage in New York didn’t bother him. After all, Perry endorsed former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani in the 2008 presidential race, who is hardly considered a social conservative.
Perry has also drawn criticism for his plans for the Trans-Texas Corridor, a failed cross-state toll road that drew criticism from rural property owners and immigration foes, because the plan involved a partnership with the Mexican government.
Read it all.
I am concerned with his past of handling illegal immigration and the Texas Dream Act in particular.
The Crony Capitalism is also a non-starter for me.
If it is a choice between Romney, Perry and Bachmann, the GOP had better team up two of the three or Obama wins.
That insight is worth recalling amid the latest political duet from President Obama and Warren Buffett demanding higher taxes on "millionaires and billionaires." Mr. Buffett is repeating his now familiar argument this week, coinciding with Mr. Obama's Midwestern road trip on the economy. Since the media are treating Mr. Buffett as a tax oracle, let's take a closer look at some of the billionaire's intellectual tax dodges.
• The double tax oversight. The Berkshire Hathaway magnate makes much of the fact that he paid only 17.4% of his income in taxes, which he considers unfair when salaried workers often pay more. But Mr. Buffett makes most of his income from his investments, in particular from dividends and capital gains that are taxed at a rate of 15%.
What he doesn't say is that much of his income was already taxed once as corporate income, which is assessed at a 35% rate (less deductions). The 15% levy on capital gains and dividends to individuals is thus a double tax that takes the overall tax rate on that corporate income closer to 45%.
This onerous tax on capital is a U.S. competitive disadvantage in the global economy, which is why Congress agreed in 2003 to cut the rates on dividends and capital gains. Even as the rest of the world is cutting tax rates on corporate income, Mr. Buffett wants to raise U.S. rates in a way that would make America less attractive for investment. Under a sensible tax reform, the feds would impose either a corporate tax or a dividend and capital gains tax, but not both.
• The middle-class bait-and-switch. Like Mr. Obama, Mr. Buffett speaks about raising taxes only on the rich. But somehow he ignores that the President's tax increase starts at $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for couples. Mr. Obama ought to call them "thousandaires," but that probably doesn't poll as well.
The President needs to levy his tax increase at such a lower income level because that's where the money is. In 2009, 237,000 taxpayers reported income above $1 million and they paid $178 billion in taxes. A mere 8,274 filers reported income above $10 million, and they paid only $54 billion in taxes.
But 3.92 million reported income above $200,000 in 2009, and they paid $434 billion in taxes. To put it another way, roughly 90% of the tax filers who would pay more under Mr. Obama's plan aren't millionaires, and 99.99% aren't billionaires.