These are my links for March 28th through March 29th:
Blame Palin? ‘Kill Zimmerman’ Twitter Account Launched – Barack Obama has remained silent as the usual suspects have been busy stirring up hate aimed at George Zimmerman, the Florida Hispanic involved in the shooting death of 17 year-old Trayvon Martin. Now the anger has taken a new twist, breaking out on Twitter with an account named “Kill Zimmerman.” It features an image of Zimmerman in crosshairs.
Yet one month later, questions persist as to exactly how and why that happened. The man who admitted shooting the teen has not been charged in connection to the case, much to the dismay of Martin’s parents and thousands of strangers nationwide who’ve rallied behind them.
On Monday, the story continued to gain both complexity, and clarity, thanks to details of the account that Martin’s shooter gave to police after the shooting.
George Zimmerman’s description is outlined in an Orlando Sentinel article that cited “authorities” as the source of its information. The Sanford Police Department subsequently released a statement that, while condemning what it called”unauthorized leaks,” confirmed the newspaper account “is consistent with the information provided to the State Attorney’s office by the police department.”
Zimmerman, a 28-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer, told police he was on his way to the grocery store when he saw Martin, a black male, walking through his gated community, according to the Sentinel report.
“Something’s wrong with him,” he told a 911 dispatcher, according to the contents of a call released last week. “Yep. He’s coming to check me out. He’s got something in his hands.”
The teen started to run, Zimmerman said. When he said he was following the boy, the dispatcher told him, “We don’t need you to do that.”
Shortly afterward, neighbors began calling 911 to report an apparent altercation, then a gunshot.
The Orlando Sentinel report fills in some blanks, purportedly from Zimmerman’s perspective, of what transpired in the meantime.
EXCLUSIVE: Robert Zimmerman interview – For the first time since that fateful night on February 26, the father of a neighborhood watch volunteer who shot and killed an unarmed teenager sat down for a television interview.
Robert Zimmerman, father of George Zimmerman, said he decided it was time to speak out for his son, against the advice of others. He shared with us what George said happened on the night that 17-year-old Trayvon Martin died.
“It’s my understanding that Trayvon Martin got on top of him and just started beating him,” the 64-year-old Robert Zimmerman said.
He said he felt his son has been portrayed in the wrong way. He also said he and his family have received death threats and asked that we not show his face on camera.
Because there has been a lot of break-ins in the area, Robert said George thought it suspicious that someone would not be walking on the street or the sidewalk on a rainy night — that Martin would be walking between the town homes. He said after making those observations, his son decided to call the police.
San Francisco Plastic Bag Ban to Go National? – Hide your kids, hide your wife: the scourge of the grocery market remains on the lam. Fortunately, courageous legislators have assumed the burden of this great responsibility to ban plastic bags nationwide and, in the process, throttle the manufacturing sector.
San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors earned the ignominy in 2007 of introducing the first legislative proscription of plastic bags in supermarkets and chain pharmacies. Last month, the same Board extended the landmark ban to all retail establishments and restaurants. North of 50 municipalities have taken similar action to eliminate the bags in the interim, either through an outright ban or taxes on those businesses that use them.
“This effort’s no longer confined to San Francisco,” remarked an environmental politics watchdog with whom Capitol Confidential spoke. “How any nanny state legislation with roots in the City by the Bay can be seen as a legitimate tactic to be pursued in places like Texas is a truly frightening commentary on the nation’s political landscape.”
By Big Government’s count, three state legislatures are considering statewide bans on these 100 percent recyclable shopping bags. Another 90 jurisdictions still are considering mirrored legislation.
Rubio: I’m not going to be vice president – For the record, it’s still no. But is Florida’s Republican Sen. Marco Rubio leaving his vice presidential options open? Consider how he answered the question Thursday to CNN.
“My answer hasn’t changed on the vice presidential stuff. I know people keep asking me but my answer hasn’t changed,” Rubio told CNN one day after announcing his endorsement of GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney.
Picking up where they left off Tuesday, the conservatives said they thought a decision striking down the law’s controversial individual mandate to purchase health insurance means the whole statute should fall with it.
The court’s conservatives sounded as though they had determined for themselves that the 2,700-page measure must be declared unconstitutional.
“One way or another, Congress will have to revisit it in toto,” said Justice Antonin Scalia.
Agreeing, Justice Anthony Kennedy said it would be an “extreme proposition” to allow the various insurance regulations to stand after the mandate was struck down.
Meanwhile, the court’s liberal justices argued for restraint. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the court should do a “salvage job,” not undertake a “wrecking operation.” But she looked to be out-voted.
Senator Rand Paul first discussed his higher aspirations at the beginning of this year. He said he wouldn’t close the door on being a Vice Presidential candidate. After a speech in Louisville today, Paul held that door firmly open, saying he wants to be part of the national debate.
Paul’s name has swirled as a possible pick that would give Romney points with the Tea Party. When asked directly what he would say if Romney made the offer, Paul tried to punt.
“I don’t know if I can answer that question, but I can say it would be an honor to be considered,” he said.
Bonuses given after raises at Solyndra – Washington Times – Several of the nearly two dozen employees at bankrupt solar panel maker Solyndra LLC who were approved for bonuses Wednesday had months earlier received pay raises as high as 70 percent, a fact the company never disclosed in its request for bonus cash.
The company’s bankruptcy attorneys sought permission for the bonuses in a court hearing, arguing that the extra cash is needed to keep key employees from fleeing only to be replaced by more expensive outside consultants.
With little chance of stable employment and officials moving to liquidate assets, the workers needed to wind down the company have little incentive to stay, the Solyndra attorneys argued.
But an attorney for fired Solyndra workers railed against the plan, saying several of the proposed bonus recipients had received significant salary increases even after the company went bankrupt.
The Post-ABC News poll reports that 69 percent of Republicans have a favorable impression of him, the highest among all the GOP contenders. Even among “very conservative voters” he draws a 62 percent favorable rating. Rick Santorum scores a 74 percent rating (although this may change after his dreadful debate performance), but the numbers suggest that these voters don’t dislike Romney. They simply like (or liked) Santorum better.
In part, voters see perhaps what the right-wing bloggers, with visions of flat taxes and privatized Social Security ( i.e., ideal but unachievable conservative purity) dancing in their heads, miss: Romney is running on a rather conservative agenda. Not hardcore or angry conservatism, but definitely right of center.
Santorum Keeps Lead in Michigan – A new American Research Group poll in Michigan finds Rick Santorum continues to lead the GOP presidential field with 38%, followed by Mitt Romney at 34%, Ron Paul at 12% and Newt Gingrich at 7%.
“You have to ask Congressman Paul and Governor Romney what they’ve got going together,” Santorum told reporters in the spin room in Mesa, Arizona. “Their commercials look a lot alike and so do their attacks.”
Santorum’s top strategist John Brabender went even further, charging that the two men had “joined forces” and were coordinating attacks against his man
“Clearly there’s a tag team strategy between Ron Paul and Mitt Romney. For all I know, Mitt Romney might be considering Ron Paul as his running mate. Clearly there is now an alliance between those two and you saw that certainly in the debate.”
The was also coordination in their attack ads, he charged. “Ron Paul for all practical purposes has pulled out of Michigan. Correct? Where’s he running negative ads against Rick Santorum? Michigan.
“It was interesting to me that if you watch Ron Paul when he came into the debate wrote negative things about Rick Santorum down because when he started to get questions he would immediately pick up his paper and start mentioning Santorum stuff.”
He added: “What is amazing to me this shows a remarkable ability by Romney, who has already proven to be the most negative man in history on TV, now he’s even training his opponents to be negative for his benefit and actually I think that takes remarkable skill.”
The Romney campaign ridiculed the notion there was any coordination. “If ever there was an iconoclast who got up there and said what he believed it’s Ron Paul,” said Stuart Stevens, Romney’s chief strategist.
The plan would roll back tens of millions of dollars in spending cuts for the Wisconsin Technical College System as well as a corporate tax cut passed by Republicans last year. Falk, a Democrat and former Dane County executive, is seeking to challenge Gov. Scott Walker in a likely recall election.
“My ‘Invest in Success’ plan will create jobs and spur economic growth by supporting what worked in Wisconsin for 100 years – investing in education and training workers through our technical college system,” Falk said in a statement.
To help balance the state budget, Walker and GOP lawmakers in June of last year cut nearly $73 million, or 25%, from the Technical College System budget over two years. To undo part of that, Falk wants to roll back a tax cut on multi-state corporations approved by Walker and GOP lawmakers in the budget.
Runner has been absent from the upper house since January, when she disclosed that complications related to her condition required her to work outside of Sacramento. She said today that she expects to make a full recovery and will focus on “business and philanthropic efforts” after leaving office.
“Serving the people of our community over my lifetime has been an amazing blessing and I am so very thankful for their support throughout each of my elections and my tenure in office,” Runner said in a statement. “In the coming years, I will be working on behalf of the community that I love, but not in the role as an elected official.”
Mr. Obama is proposing to raise the dividend tax rate to the higher personal income tax rate of 39.6% that will kick in next year. Add in the planned phase-out of deductions and exemptions, and the rate hits 41%. Then add the 3.8% investment tax surcharge in ObamaCare, and the new dividend tax rate in 2013 would be 44.8%—nearly three times today’s 15% rate.
Keep in mind that dividends are paid to shareholders only after the corporation pays taxes on its profits. So assuming a maximum 35% corporate tax rate and a 44.8% dividend tax, the total tax on corporate earnings passed through as dividends would be 64.1%.
Why Obama’s corporate tax plan is a total bust – The current U.S. economic recovery is arguably the worst in modern American history. Incomes are flat, housing is moribund, and the past three years have seen the longest stretch of high unemployment in this country since the Great Depression. Yet President Barack Obama—with the backing of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner—has the temerity to propose a corporate tax reform plan that would actually raise the tax burden on American business by $250 billion over a decade (and de facto on workers, too) without lowering rates to an internationally competitive level. This is a terrible, terrible plan:
1. The Obama-Geithner plan would lower the statutory corporate tax rate to 28 percent from 35 percent, currently the second-highest among advanced economies. But that would still leave the combined U.S. corporate tax rate—state and federal—at 32.2 percent, far above the OECD combined average of 25 percent. The U.S. combined rate would be a bit below slow-growing Japan and France but above the U.K. and Germany. That’s not nearly good enough. Canada just lowered its corporate tax rate, for instance, to 15 percent. So instead of having the second highest corporate tax rate in the world, the United States would probably be fourth behind Japan, France, and Belgium.
“He should just write a check and shut up,” Christie said Tuesday on CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight.” “Really, and just contribute. The fact of the matter is that I’m tired of hearing about it. If he wants to give the government more money, he’s got the ability to write a check — go ahead and write it.”
Racial Preferences Redux – The Supreme Court revisits discrimination and government – When the Supreme Court last upheld racial preferences in college admissions, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote that she “expects that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary.” That was 2003. By agreeing to hear a challenge to the University of Texas’s admissions policies yesterday, the Justices may have pushed up that deadline.
Heritage defines dependency as significantly depending on the government for help in two of the following basic expense items: housing, food, shelter, income security or higher education.
At the end of 2007, Heritage conservatively estimates there were 59.4 million Americans significantly dependent on the government.
By the end of 2010, this number had risen to 67.3 million, an increase of nearly 8 million. It is likely that another two or three million were added in 2011, for a net increase of 10 million to 11 million over the past four years.
It is not a coincidence that the number of people participating in the labor force has comparably declined over the same period.
California rates health plans on quality measures – California’s largest health plans have improved their care for diabetic patients, but many need to do better at treating children with throat infections, testing for lung disease and helping people overcome drug and alcohol addictions.
These are among the findings of the 11th annual report card released Wednesday by the state Office of the Patient Advocate.
The report card is meant to give consumers an easy-to-use tool to compare the quality of care delivered by the state’s nine largest health maintenance organizations, six largest preferred provider organizations and 212 medical groups.
Each plan is ranked in categories of care with one to four stars, depending on how well it meets national standards or how its members rate it in such areas as ease of getting appointments and customer service.
“Publicly reporting is one tool to keep plans accountable,” said Sandra Perez, director of the Patient Advocate’s Office.
“The report card helps educate everyone on what types of treatment they should be receiving from their health plan,” she said.
As in previous years, Kaiser Permanente outshone its competitors, receiving the top ranking of four stars in most categories. Most other HMO or PPO plans had no categories with four stars.
Among medical groups, the Palo Alto Medical Foundation also earned top scores, with four stars in both patient rankings and meeting national standards of care.
Tightening Arizona Race Heightens Pressure on Romney – With polls showing Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum within the margin of error of each other in Arizona and Michigan, both candidates have some tough decisions to make ahead of the states’ primaries on Tuesday.
Just a few weeks ago, Romney seemed headed for big wins in both races. Now he finds himself trailing Santorum in his native Michigan, and Santorum creeping up on him in Arizona. That means the top rivals have to carefully figure out how to best divide their time and energy over the next six days.
Obama will propose lowering the nation’s corporate tax rate to 28 percent. At the same time, however, he will seek to increase the amount of revenues raised overall through corporate taxation by eliminating numerous deductions and loopholes that save companies tens of billions of dollars a year on their tax bills, according to a senior administration official.
Chris Christie: Rick Santorum’s Satan Comments Are Relevant – Rick Santorum says his 2008 comments that “Satan has set his sights on the United States of America” are “not relevant” to the 2012 presidential race, but Chris Christie told me on “GMA” that Santorum is wrong.
“Listen, I think anything you say as a presidential candidate is relevant. It is by definition relevant. You’re asking to be president of the United States. I don’t think [Santorum’s] right about that. I think it is relevant what he says. I think people want to make an evaluation, a complete evaluation of anyone who asks to sit in the Oval Office,” the New Jersey governor said.
Adding to the religious discussion on the campaign trail, yesterday Santorum said he would “defend everything” he says and Mitt Romney said the Obama administration has “fought against religion.”
But Christie doesn’t think a debate over religion is a conversation the Republican Party wants to engage in.
“Do I think it’s the things we should be as a party talking about and emphasizing at the moment? No,” he said.