These are my links for November 19th through November 20th:
California, Home of the Destitute– Today, California is the most spectacular failure of our time. Its government is broke. Productive citizens have been fleeing for some years now, selling their homes at inflated prices (until recently) and moving to Colorado, Arizona, Texas and even Minnesota, like one of my neighbors. The results of California’s improvident liberalism have been tragically easy to predict: absurd public sector wage and benefit packages, a declining tax base, surging welfare enrollment, falling economic production, ever-increasing deficits. Soon, California politicians will be looking to less glamorous states for bailout money. Things have now devolved to the point where California leads the nation in poverty:The Golden State’s poverty rate is a whopping 23.5 percent – higher than the District of Columbia, at 23.2 percent, and even Florida, and 19.5 percent.This is based on the federal government’s new poverty measure, and California suffered a bit because of its high cost of living, but that is a minor point–by any measure, California is number one in destitution. The cause is obvious: liberal Democrats have held unimpeded sway in California, just as they have in Detroit, Illinois, Miami, the District, and so on. Everywhere, the results have been similar. Where liberal policies are implemented, productive citizens fade away and poverty follows.
Cows Flee California Seeking a Better Economic Climate– It’s not just millionaires and billionaires who are fleeing the economic madness in California. Even cows are starting to depart for greener pastures. That’s right, 400 bovine refugees shuffled off to Kansas just this month, with more expected to follow as over 100 dairy farms in California close their doors.Why are cows voting with their hooves?
Opinion: President Obama won, but Obamacare didn’t – Carrie Lukas – POLITICO.com– During the campaign, President Barack Obama minimized discussion of his first term’s most consequential new law: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or what’s commonly referred to as Obamacare.That was no accident. Undoubtedly, the campaign knew that Obamacare is, as it always has been, deeply unpopular with the American people. In fact, Obamacare epitomizes the public’s greatest concerns about this administration: the massive expansion of government and failure to deliver a new era of post-partisanship to Washington, since the law was jammed through using a party line vote and every available legislative trick. Bringing up health care risked stirring the passions that fueled the tea party’s rise and the Democrats’ defeat in 2010.Yet, research conducted by the polling company, inc./WomanTrend for Independent Women’s Voice (IWV) shows that health care was an important concern for Americans on Election Day. The president was reelected in spite of voters’ lingering distaste for Obamacare, and the health care issue will remain a critical issue for voters moving forward.Just a quarter, or 26 percent of those surveyed by the polling company on Election Day supported implementing Obamacare completely. Even less than half (48 percent) of self-identified Democrats want full implementation, suggesting that the health care law remains a liability, even within the president’s party.Forty-three percent of voters surveyed want Congress to either “just repeal the law” (30 percent) or move toward repeal, while pursuing other measures – including defunding, amending, and blocking – to prevent its implementation (13 percent). Another quarter (23 percent) favor amending the law, rather than full repeal.
Report: Paula Broadwell’s threat to Jill Kelley – Paula Broadwell allegedly threatened to make Jill Kelley “go away,” the New York Daily News reported Tuesday, in the latest twist in a sex scandal that has ensnared top U.S. national security officials.
Broadwell, the ex-mistress of retired Gen. David Petraeus — who stepped down from his post as head of the CIA over his extramarital affair with her — allegedly sent threatening emails to Kelley, a Tampa socialite who is reportedly a friend of Petraeus’s.
Oklahoma is latest to reject state-based health exchange– Add Oklahoma to the list of Republican-led states that won’t implement the key feature of President Obama’s healthcare law.Gov. Mary Fallin said Monday that she won’t set up a state-based insurance exchange — a new portal where people who don’t get insurance through their employers can shop for coverage, often with help from a federal subsidy.”It does not benefit Oklahoma taxpayers to actively support and fund a new government program that will ultimately be under the control of the federal government, that is opposed by a clear majority of Oklahomans, and that will further the implementation of a law that threatens to erode both the quality of American healthcare and the fiscal stability of the nation,” Fallin said in a statement.Republican governors are under pressure from conservatives not to set up their own exchanges. It’s seen as the best chance to stand in the way of the Affordable Care Act now that Obama’s reelection has protected the law from legislative repeal.
4 California men allegedly supported Taliban– Jihadist social media postings helped lead to the arrest and charging of four Los Angeles area men, who were allegedly on their way to Afghanistan to train with the Taliban and join al Qaeda, federal officials said.They were also plotting to kill American soldiers and bomb government installations, according to a joint statement Monday by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles.One of the men, a U.S. citizen born in Afghanistan, encouraged two of the others to embrace violent Islamic doctrine by introducing them online to radical teachings, including those of deceased U.S.-born al-Qaeda imam Anwar al-Awlaki.The three exposed their connection to each other and their radical leanings explicitly on Facebook for over a year. And one of them detailed his intentions to participate in jihad in an online chat with an FBI employee.Another man was recruited at a later point to join the other three in their training.
Tax loopholes alone can’t solve fiscal cliff– Raise revenues and reform the Tax Code? Easy — just eliminate all the tax loopholes, right?Good luck with that.“Eliminating loopholes” sounds a lot better than “raising rates”: The tax rate is what I pay, and a loophole is what the other guy gets.But the biggest loopholes in the U.S. Tax Code — generally referred to as tax expenditures — aren’t just the tricks of the trade for millionaires with offshore bank accounts. For the vast majority of Americans, they’re just how things work: You don’t pay taxes on your health insurance or Medicare benefits; you contribute tax-free to your 401(k); and your mortgage interest pushes down your tax bill each year.And even if you dump the biggest of the set, these tax perks don’t even come close to closing the deficit. At best, the top 10 would pull in an extra $834 billion a year, according to Joint Committee on Taxation figures. Considering the hole lawmakers are trying to fill is several trillion dollars large, it’s clear they wouldn’t even come close
Red-State Senate Democrats May Be Hard to Corral on Cliff– Senate Democrats, optimistic about prospects for a deficit-reduction deal, may have to contend with wariness from seven members who face 2014 re-election campaigns in states Mitt Romney won Nov. 6.Some of those seven Democrats, including North Carolina’s Kay Hagan and Louisiana ’s Mary Landrieu, say they aren’t ready to commit to President Barack Obama’s proposals for boosting tax revenue. Instead, Hagan isn’t ruling out support for extending the George W. Bush-era tax cuts for top earners. Landrieu said she opposes eliminating tax breaks for oil companies.Possible Democratic defections heighten the need for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to woo Republican support for a deal to avert the so-called fiscal cliff — $607 billion in tax increases and spending cuts set to begin taking effect in January. Lame-duck Republican Senators Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Olympia Snowe of Maine and Richard Lugar of Indiana are potential candidates.
Portman and Cruz plan to focus on fundraising, recruitment for NRSC– The new vice chairmen of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) have unusually specific tasks heading into 2014: fundraising and recruitment.Both elements are crucial to a successful election cycle, and the early, precise focus by newly elected Chairman Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) demonstrates a shake-up in committee structure meant to avoid the losses that plagued Republicans in 2012.Moran has tasked Sen.-elect Ted Cruz (R-Texas) with grassroots and Hispanic outreach. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) has been given the goal of energizing donors fatigued from an election in which they saw a disappointing return on their investments.The trio has met at least twice since the announcement of new NRSC leadership last Wednesday, and a senior Moran aide said the three will continue to meet and discuss plans for 2014 over the phone until they all return to the Senate in January.
Boehner tightens grip on GOP rank and file ahead of deficit talks– Speaker John Boehner is tightening his grip on the House Republican Conference weeks before an anticipated vote on a deficit deal.The Ohio Republican has smoothed over differences with Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), expanded his powers on the panel that doles out plum committee assignments, shot down a challenge to his earmark moratorium and worked behind the scenes to ensure that Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) would win her leadership contest.All of Boehner’s moves are aimed at shoring up his influence over the GOP conference, which in turn maximizes the Speaker’s leverage with President Obama and the Democratic-controlled Senate.
Is Rush Limbaugh’s Country Gone?– William Bennett, conservative stalwart, television commentator and secretary of education under President Reagan, complained on the CNN Web site that Democrats have been successful in settingthe parameters and focus of the national and political dialogue as predominantly about gender, race, ethnicity and class. This is the paradigm, the template through which many Americans, probably a majority, more or less view the world, our country, and the election. It is a divisive strategy and Democrats have targeted and exploited those divides. How else can we explain that more young people now favor socialism to capitalism?In fact, the 2011 Pew Research Center poll Bennett cites demonstrates that in many respects conservatives are right to be worried:Not only does a plurality (49-43) of young people hold a favorable view of socialism — and, by a tiny margin (47-46), a negative view of capitalism — so do liberal Democrats, who view socialism positively by a solid 59-33; and African Americans, 55-36. Hispanics are modestly opposed, 49-44, to socialism, but they hold decisively negative attitudes toward capitalism, 55-32.
The GOP Consultant Class Blames Me– RUSH: Couple of sound bites. First, Mike Murphy. He is a Republican consultant. He was on Meet the Press yesterday, and among other things, he said this.MURPHY: The biggest problem that Romney had was the Republican primary. That’s what’s driving the Republican brand right now to a disaster, and we’ve got to get, kind of, a party view of America that’s not right out of Rush Limbaugh’s dream journal.RUSH: You gotta get a view of the Republican Party that is not right out of my dream journal. What, folks, did I or any of you have to do with the Republican primary? Did not Murphy get the candidate he wanted? All these consultants, do you realize they get rich no matter who wins or loses? Little-known secret. They get rich no matter who wins or loses. But the Republican primary, as far as he’s concerned there were too many conservatives in it saying too many stupid things.We need to get rid of conservatism, is what is he’s saying. We need to get rid of all these people shouting stupid conservative stuff, and that’s where it happened at the primary, and that’s where Romney lost the election because of all the conservatives branding the party. Romney was not able to recover from that. Steve Schmidt. He’s back. He can’t let go of me. This is University of Delaware panel discussion last Wednesday.
Hostess mediation: Judge delays hearing to allow Hostess, unions to work out issues– Hostess Brands Inc. agreed in court on Monday to enter private mediation with its lenders and leaders of a striking union to try to avert the liquidation of the maker of Twinkies snack cakes and Wonder Bread.Hostess, its lenders and the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) agreed to mediation at the urging of Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain of the Southern District of New York, who advised against a more expensive, public hearing regarding the company’s liquidation.”My desire to do this is prompted primarily by the potential loss of over 18,000 jobs as well as my belief that there is a possibility to resolve this matter,” Drain said.The 82-year-old Hostess was seeking permission to liquidate its business, claiming that its operations have been crippled by a bakers strike and that winding down is the best way to preserve its dwindling cash.
California officials release results of first cap-and-trade auction– The California Air Resources Board today released the results of the state’s inaugural cap-and-trade auction.The auction took place on Wednesday.Cap-and-trade is a system designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in California. Under the system, businesses including refineries, power plants and large factories will be capped at 90 percent of current emissions. Those businesses must then buy credits at auction or on the open market in order to be allowed to continue to produce at current levels.Businesses could also meet their regulatory burdens by lowering emissions.Cap-and-trade goes into effect in 2013.The newly-released report on the auction shows businesses purchased all 23.1 million emissions credits that were up for bid.
The settlement price for accepted bids in the auction was $10.09.
CARB has estimated that a $10 price for emissions allowances could add 10 cents to the price of a gallon of gasoline.
Another Victory for Challengers of HHS Mandate – The HHS contraceptive mandate suffered another loss last Friday—its third loss in the four decisions that have addressed the merits of the claim that the HHS mandate violates the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). In a thorough opinion in Tyndale House Publishers v. Sebelius, Judge Reggie B. Walton of the federal district court for the District of Columbia granted a preliminary injunction that bars the federal government from penalizing a publishing house for its religiously based refusal to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives that also operate as abortifacients.
Exercise Gains Momentum as Psychiatric Treatment– The benefits of exercise in nearly every aspect of physical health are well known, but evidence in recent years suggests a unique effect on some psychiatric disorders, prompting mental health clinicians to rethink treatment strategies and to consider the possibility of exercise not just in therapy but as therapy.”Above and beyond the standard benefits of exercise in healthy living and general well-being, there is strong evidence demonstrating the ability of exercise to in fact treat mental illness and have significant benefits on a neurotrophic, neurobiologic basis,” Douglas Noordsy, MD, told delegates attending Psych Congress 2012: US Psychiatric and Mental Health Congress.Some of the strongest evidence is seen in depression, where psychiatric benefits from exercise have been shown in some cases to match those achieved with pharmacologic interventions and to persist to prevent remission in the long term.
Asian American voters go heavily for Obama in California– Latino voters are credited with helping swing the vote for Barack Obama, but the rapidly growing Asian American electorate supported the incumbent by an even broader margin. According to Edison Research’s exit polls, 73 percent of Asian Americans nationwide voted for Obama, while 71 percent of Latinos did so. In California, 79 percent of Asian Americans favored Obama.In 1992, 31 percent of Asian Americans preferred the Democratic nominee, but that number has grown in each subsequent election since. The Asian American population, meanwhile, has increased 32 percent over the past decade alone.While they represented just 3.4 percent of the national vote, Asian Americans accounted for 11 percent of the California vote, according to Edison Research. Voter registration tallies show Orange County Asian American voters running nearly 5 points greater than the statewide share, according to Political Data.By 2050, Asian Americans will account for 10 percent of the nation’s voters and at least 20 percent of the state’s voters, according to Taeku Lee, a UC Berkeley political scientist and co-author of the National Asian American Survey.
Orlando Health eliminates 400 jobs through layoffs and attrition– For the first time in its nearly 100-year history, Orlando Health is reducing its workforce by up to 400 positions starting immediately, hospital officials announced this morning.The elimination of 300 to 400 jobs will occur in two phases, and represents a 2- to 3-percent decrease in the system’s 16,000 employees, said Orlando Health spokeswoman Kena Lewis. The reductions affect all departments and all eight of its hospitals, including Orlando Regional Medical Center and Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children.The first wave of employees affected by the “labor expense reduction” portion of the initiative received their notices Friday, said Lewis. The next wave of downsizing will happen after the first of the year.
McClintock: Election will bring pain to CA– Abraham Lincoln said that if the voters get their backsides too close to the fire, they’ll just have to sit on the blisters for a while. After the Nov. 6 election, Californians have some very nasty blisters to sit on.However, after pain, enlightenment usually comes. If not, California pharmacies will be selling out of salve.
Austin company creates app that helped Obama campaign– Political experts say the just-completed presidential race involved more spending by both sides on information technology than ever before.Some of that spending was on applications for mobile devices as a way to reach out to both supporters and volunteers.That is why a small Austin digital design firm, Thirteen23, found itself working furiously from May through July to create the app the Obama campaign wanted.The Obama campaign had worked with Square Inc., a mobile payments company, on an app that could let supporters contribute to the campaign over their smartphones. When the campaign wanted a bigger, more elaborate app, Square referred them to Thirteen23, which it had previously done work with.The 11-person Austin firm hadn’t done political projects before, but executive director Doug Cook said it liked the challenge of creating a vital two-way online communication link between the campaign and its supporters and volunteers.While some campaigns had already used smartphone apps to push out information to supporters, this application was seen as something far more complex.
“We said, if we are going to build an app, lets make tools that make people effective. Lets give volunteers tools that they can use,” said Ryan Hovenweep, the firm’s creative director.
The app would provide localized information about campaign events to supporters. But it also gave volunteer workers the tools to canvass potential voters house to house and to report back their findings to the campaign’s computers.
“With a smartphone in hand, you can go talk to people and get information,” Hovenweep said. “With the app, they are immediately taking the information from the ground and putting it back into the campaign database.”
With a tight deadline and the order to create an useful, complex app for volunteers, the company threw itself into the project in May and delivered software to the Obama campaign in July. The Obama campaign released the first version of software, for iPhone users, at the end of July. The Android version was delivered a few weeks later.
Comments Off on The Morning Flap: November 20, 2012
These are my links for August 1st through August 2nd:
Obamacare Robs Medicare of $716 Billion to Fund Itself – Last week, a new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report updated the amount of money Obamacare robs out of Medicare from $500 billion to a whopping $716 billion between 2013 and 2022.
According to the CBO, the payment cuts in Medicare include:
A $260 billion payment cut for hospital services.
A $39 billion payment cut for skilled nursing services.
A $17 billion payment cut for hospice services.
A $66 billion payment cut for home health services.
A $33 billion payment cut for all other services.
A $156 billion cut in payment rates in Medicare Advantage (MA); $156 billion is before considering interactions with other provisions. The House Ways and Means Committee was able to include interactions with other provisions, estimating the cuts to MA to be even higher, coming in at $308 billion.
$56 billion in cuts for disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payments.* DSH payments go to hospitals that serve a large number of low-income patients.
$114 billion in other provisions pertaining to Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP* (does not include coverage-related provisions).
Chick-fil-A not alone in touting religion alongside products– Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy is not the only business tycoon who refuses to hide his faith under a bushel — top executives from some of America’s biggest companies are born-again Christians who talk about their beliefs more often than their balance sheets.Major corporations like Tyson Foods, Interstate Batteries and Hobby Lobby were either founded or are now led by outspoken and deeply religious bosses. While some of the companies distinguish between their corporate identities and their leaders’ faith, others embrace it.—Norm Miller, chairman of Interstate Batteries, discusses his faith and salvation at length on the company’s website, even inviting people to write him for advice on prayer;—Tyson Foods, the Arkansas food processing giant, offers chaplains to counsel its employees on life issues like deaths or family emergencies;
—In-N-Out Burger, the popular California-based hamburger chain, prints “John 3:16” on the bottom of its cups;
Chick-fil-A: Hundreds line up in support, don’t mind long wait– A line of hundreds of people formed outside a Northridge Chick-fil-A on Wednesday afternoon as crowds flocked to the restaurant on “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.”Gwilym McGrew, who drove to the fast-food restarauant from Woodland Hills, said more than 100 cars were waiting along Tampa Avenue to pull into the parking lot. “A couple hundred” people had lined up on foot, he said, some drinking water distributed by employees.”It’s very calm madness,” McGrew said. “Everybody’s very orderly.”McGrew was one of many people who ventured to the restaurant to show support for Chick-fil-A, which drew criticism after chief executive Dan Cathy said in a recent interview he and his company were against gay marriage. The comments drew strong reactions as customers pledged to boycott the chain and some mayors proclaimed they would not allow Chick-fil-A to open within their cities.
In response, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee declared Wednesday “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day,” calling on people to eat at the restaurant to show support.
McGrew said he came to the restaurant to support Cathy’s religious beliefs, even though he said he himself is not religious.
“I’m not getting myself involved in the issue of gay marriage and all that, I’m not getting involved in a religious debate,” he said. “I’m getting involved in the government putting their thumb on a businessperson for his religious beliefs.”
Chick-fil-A’s president shows dangers of corporate outspokenness– Sometimes politics intercede where you may not expect it. Corporations of all types have supported Planned Parenthood for years, presumably on the grounds that helping deliver inexpensive healthcare to underprivileged women was a good thing and one that fit in with corporate principles such as diversity and fairness. Then one morning they woke up to discover that their longtime beneficiary had become transformed into a gigantic political football. (Apologies to Franz Kafka.) The next thing they knew, they were on an anti-abortion organization’s boycott list.Corporate executives surrounded by yes men telling them how wise they are will probably continue to try sharing their wisdom on subjects well outside their core competencies. Sometimes they’ll tailor their words to what they think are their target markets. Sometimes, like Cathy, they’ll discover that there are bigger markets out there where customers may not care for what they have to say. We should defend to the death their right to speak, and also our own right to make them pay for it, or not, at the cash register.
Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day brings out supporters, protesters– It used to be that taking a bite of a chicken sandwich just meant you were hungry. Now it has become a symbol of whether you stand for or against same-sex marriage, or – alternately – the right to express your personal views without fear of retaliation.At Chick-fil-A locations across the country, people voted with their wallets today, coming out to express support for the fast-food chain after CEO Dan Cathy said in an interview that he is a firm backer of traditional marriage.“I believe what the Bible says (about marriage),” Chauncy Fields told us after wolfing down a breakfast of chicken and biscuits. “So I came out here to support Chick-fil-A and the movement.”Chris Johnson sees a double standard. “He (Dan Cathy) said the exact same thing that President Obama said,” Johnson told Fox News — referring to the president’s past opposition to gay marriage – “And he gets negativity, and Obama gets positivity.”
At one Atlanta location, the restaurant was packed, while the line for the drive-thru looped twice around the building and out into the street.
Wendy’s Sign Angers Liberals; Wendy’s Tweet Angers Conservatives– he sign, and its implied support of Chick-fil-A’s stance on gay marriage, was the work of Jim Furmen, who owns 86 Wendy’s franchises in North Carolina. When pictures of the signs were posted on Reddit and began circulating online, Wendy’s quickly took to Twitter to say the franchise owner did not represent the views of the entire company, saying “We proudly serve ALL customers” and adding that the signs had been taken down.Conservative bloggers and writers then took issue with the insinuation that Chick-fil-A did not serve all customers (even its critics haven’t made that charge), whereupon Wendy’s backtracked. “Not our intention at all,” Wendy’s said repeatedly to users that criticized them. “We’re simply saying that an independent franchisee posted the sign.”
Rick Warren: Chick-fil-A’s owner told me they set a new world record in sales today – Not a word about today’s activities has been whispered on Chick-fil-A’s feed even though CFA has been trending on Twitter off and on all day. As noted in the earlier post, the suspicion is that the company’s lying low about what’s happening in order to extricate itself from the front line of the culture war, but I wonder if today’s outpouring will draw some sort of recognition tomorrow. If Dan Cathy’s willing to tout the numbers to Rick Warren, presumably an official acknowledgment and thank you is on the way.
The Great Chick-fil-A War of 2012 – Ed goes on to point out the obvious: in a free country, any citizen has a right to protest or boycott a business, and any officeholder is free to express their personal support or opposition to the views of a company or its leaders. But once officials start using the power of the state to punish companies for expressing views they disagree with, well… that’s fundamentally anti-American, and sliding towards a fascist view of how society should operate. Your ability to run your business should not depend upon mayoral approval of your personal views
Why August Will Determine Senate Control– August is usually a sleepy month in politics. Congress leaves Washington for its annual summer recess, and campaigning takes a back seat as voters, more concerned with their own vacations than with statewide elections, tune out. But that’s not the case this year. When the 113th Congress gavels into session in January, the party that controls the Senate will credit key primaries this month with handing them power.The stakes are high for Republicans. Four states with competitive races hold GOP primaries over the next four weeks. And while the tone of a primary campaign rarely dictates the outcome in the fall, the candidates who emerge from those primaries will either help or hinder their party’s chances to win the four seats necessary to take over the upper chamber.That makes the Republican primaries in Wisconsin, Missouri, Connecticut, and Arizona worth watching.
Rep. Capps didn’t report rent income to IRS for a decade | The Daily Caller– In a possible congressional ethics violation, California Democratic Rep. Lois Capps rented a room in her personal home to one of her congressional staffers for years and did not report the income to the IRS —during that time, or for more than a decade — until 2012. Capps also withheld that information from the proper congressional authorities for five years — from 2001 until early 2006.The staffer in question was Jeremy Tittle, a “case worker” in Capps’ district office from late 2000 until late 2004. According to Federal Election Commission records, Tittle was also a staffer for Capps’ political campaigns from as early as 2001 to as late as 2004.
Possible VP Rob Portman was ‘frustrated’ at Bush budget office– Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who served as former President George W. Bush’s budget director, sought this week to distance himself from his former boss by saying he was “frustrated” in the high-profile post.Pressed on his record with Bush, Portman — a leading GOP vice presidential contender — agreed to an exclusive interview with The Hill in his Senate office.
Amazon joins Walmart in push for online sales tax– Congressmen in both parties want you to pay more taxes on your online purchases, and once again, big business is lobbying for bigger government, which would hurt Mom and Pop.Online sales taxes have been a battlefield for lobbying titans for years, pitting Walmart and the rest of the brick-and-mortar retail lobby against Amazon and other online retailers. But now Amazon has changed its business model and also its lobbying position, joining the rest of the retail giants in calling on Congress to aid states in collecting sales tax from online sales.Here’s the background:
Cal Fire losing inmate volunteers– The number of state prison inmates available to perform crucial, labor-intensive tasks in battles against wildfires could soon drop dramatically, due to California’s shift of low-level offenders from state prisons to county jails.When wildfires ignite in California, some of the first crews on the scene are not state firefighters, but inmates who undergo training to handle such jobs as creating containment lines.There are more than 4,000 prisoners statewide trained for the work now, but prison officials said they expect that number to shrink by 1,500 by June as inmates are sent to county jails instead of prison.
Ethics Committee: reprimand Rep. Laura Richardson– The House Ethics Committee says California Democratic Congresswoman Laura Richardson should be reprimanded for misusing her staff.The committee found she improperly compelled staff to perform campaign work and obstructed the internal investigation by altering or destroying evidence, failing to produce subpoenaed documents and attempting to influence testimony of witnesses.The committee announced Wednesday that Richardson agreed to admit to all seven counts against her. The committee recommended that the House adopt its report, and said doing so would serve as a reprimand. Richardson also agreed to pay a $10,000 fine, to be paid by Dec. 1.
Villaraigosa says he’d like to be governor of California– As Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa prepares to take the gavel for the Democratic National Committee’s national convention in Charlotte this summer, Yahoo! News asked whether the termed-out mayor could be the nation’s first Latino president.Villaraigosa assured his interviewer that he has no interest in national office, but he does have another job in mind after 2013, when he will be forced from Getty House.”The job I’ve said to people I would like is I would like to be governor of the state of California,” he said.Villaraigosa spokesman Teddy Davis was not immediately available to comment on the mayor’s statement.
Villaraigosa opted not to run for the job when it was last open in 2010. Gavin Newsom briefly challenged Jerry Brown in the Democratic primary before dropping out of the race, eventually running for lieutenant governor.
Giving a boost to the Latino vote– Eliseo Medina, secretary-treasurer of SEIU International and widely regarded as one of the nation’s most influential Latino leaders, was back in his home state last week to give a California lift to the national “Todos a Votar (Let’s Vote)” campaign that aims to inspire 2 million more Latinos to vote this fall than voted in the 2008 presidential campaign.He thinks that goal is realistic, as do officials with eight largest Latino organizations in the nation that are coalescing behind the effort. If it is reached, the National Association of Latino Elected Officials estimates that the total Latino vote will rise by 26 percent and that nearly 1 of 11 voters in November will be Latinos.NALEO estimates that 3.9 million California Latinos will vote in the fall, or more than a quarter of this state’s electorate.
Former Service Employees International Union leader indicted– Not long ago, Tyrone Freeman was a rising young star in the national labor movement, already the head of California’s biggest union local and a force in Democratic politics from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C.Freeman’s quick climb up the ranks of the powerful Service Employees International Union burnished his reputation as an effective advocate for the disadvantaged, a man who helped improve the lot of about 190,000 workers paid about $9 an hour to provide in-home care for the infirm.On Tuesday, however, Freeman was indicted on federal charges of stealing from those workers to enrich himself, including by billing the union for costs from his Hawaii wedding.The 15-count indictment secured by the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles also alleges that Freeman violated tax laws and gave false information to a mortgage lender. If convicted on all counts, he could face maximum prison sentences in excess of 200 years.
These are my links for June 21st through June 25th:
Hill Poll: Voters: Obama over-reached blocking Fast and Furious docs– A clear majority of likely voters believes President Obama has exercised his executive power inappropriately — particularly in blocking the release of documents relating to Operation Fast and Furious, according to a new poll for The Hill.But in a sign that the electorate’s frustration extends to Capitol Hill, voters by a significant margin also feel Congress has behaved in an obstructionist manner toward the president.Amid the discontent over the behavior of both Obama and members of Congress, the poll found a strong preference among voters for a return to one-party rule in Washington.
Pawlenty, Portman Finances Pose VP Vetting Challenge– With Mitt Romney’s vice presidential vetting process well under way, two of the likeliest contenders for the nod — Tim Pawlenty and Rob Portman — have some of the thickest financial backgrounds to comb through.Since dropping his own bid for president last August, Pawlenty has joined the boards of seven companies and serves as a senior adviser to another. Portman has a complicated financial history from a previous ownership stake in his family’s since-sold company, Portman Equipment, as well as numerous investments.Republican researchers familiar with both potential picks say neither the former Minnesota governor nor the Ohio senator presents major problems; still, the vetting process might be more involved for the two top contenders than it is for an array of other contenders who appear to be further down Romney’s list.
Pawlenty appeared on CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday to say that he is not campaigning for the No. 2 spot. Nonetheless, he has been perhaps the highest-profile and most active surrogate on the campaign trail for Romney in recent months.
Brian McClung, Pawlenty’s former spokesman and deputy chief of staff, told RCP: “Governor Pawlenty is focused on his business responsibilities and enjoys his work in the private sector. He helps Governor Romney’s campaign when his schedule permits.”
Poll: Former Supreme Court clerks think the mandate is done for– A new poll of 56 former Supreme Court clerks finds that 57 percent think the individual mandate will be overturned. That’s a 22-point jump from the last time the same group of clerks was surveyed, right before oral arguments. Back then, 35 percent thought the court would toss out the required purchase of health insurance.Most of the clerks found the Supreme Court’s questioning to be more skeptical than they had expected. As one clerk put it to Purple Strategies’ Doug Usher, who conducted the research, “I feel like a dope, because I was one of those who predicted that the Court would uphold the statute by a lopsided majority…it now appears pretty likely that this prediction was way off.”That seems to capture the mood of the rest of the country, too. Over on InTrade, the estimated likelihood of the Supreme Court overturning the mandate has marched upward ever since oral arguments, hitting 79.9 percent Wednesday morning.
For Obama, Supreme Court health-care, immigration rulings to close a tough term– The Supreme Court this week will conclude its term by handing down much-anticipated rulings on health care and immigration, President Obama’s remaining priorities before the justices. It is a finale that cannot come quickly enough for the administration, which has had a long year at the high court.In a string of cases — as obscure as the federal government’s relationships with Indian tribes and as significant as enforcement of the Clean Water Act — the court rejected the administration’s legal arguments with lopsided votes and sometimes biting commentary.The administration’s win-loss record will sting a lot less, of course, if the court upholds the constitutionality of Obama’s signature domestic achievement, the Affordable Care Act. That decision on health care, which will define the term, could come as early as Monday and almost certainly will be announced by Thursday.
The court also will decide the fate of Arizona’s tough law on illegal immigrants, which the Obama administration challenged in court before it could take effect. The government’s argument that the law conflicts with the federal authority to decide immigration policy got a sour reception from the justices, but the government hopes for at least a split decision on other aspects of the measure.
The administration’s ungainly portfolio at the Supreme Court this term has drawn attention from all points on the ideological spectrum.
Poll: Immigration not Hispanics’ #1– American Hispanic voters are more concerned about health care and unemployment than they are about immigration, according to a new USA Today/Gallup poll.In fact, only 12 percent of Hispanic registered voters said that immigration policy is the most important issue to them.
New YG Network Poll Shows Majority Favor Health Reform Repeal– A majority of Americans want the health care law completely or partially repealed and think the federal government should not be able to force citizens to buy insurance, according to a new poll from the YG Network, a center-right issues advocacy group whose senior staff are former aides to Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.With the Supreme Court expected to rule as early as this week on the 2010 Affordable Care Act, the poll offers a glimpse into how Americans view the legislation.The poll, conducted between June 19 and June 21 by GOP pollsters McLaughlin & Associates surveyed 1,000 people with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. Respondents were split almost evenly in terms of their politics. Thirty-two percent were Republicans; 34 percent were Democrats and 29 percent were independents; 4.5 percent didn’t know or refused to reply.
The survey sometimes referred to the Affordable Care Act as “Obamacare,” a term often used by critics of the law. The poll also tested a number of Republican talking points.
Rep. Paul Ryan Being Vetted for Vice President– I’m reliably informed that Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the Budget Committee chairman, has submitted paperwork to the Romney campaign. Sources confirm that he is being vetted for the vice-presidential nomination.Ryan, one of the GOP’s brightest young stars, is clearly a favorite of Romney allies. But some top Republican officials are wary of plucking him from the House, where he is the party’s most influential voice on fiscal issues.
Obama’s White Support Is Too Low to Win– Today, the demographic status quo is not good for either candidate. The long-term future favors Democrats. The GOP must reconcile itself with the browning of America. But even in early 2009, amid renewed talk of an emerging Democratic majority, it was clear that demographics are not electoral destiny. That Democratic majority has not emerged over the past decade because Democrats have not made sustained inroads with the actual demographic majority.How quickly that proved true. In 2010, whites backed GOP House candidates by a 60-38 margin. It gave Republicans a historic landslide. The white margin two years ago roughly matches the break-even point today. That’s because presidential electorates are browner and blacker, though possibly not enough for Democrats. Plainly put, the data shows that Romney will likely win if he matches his party’s minority support in 2008 and its majority support in 2010.Democrats have come to depend on diversity. But even today, diversity may not prove enough to save Obama.