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Flap’s Links and Comments for April 18th on 10:17

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These are my links for April 18th from 10:17 to 11:28:

  • President Barack Obama coming to Reno on Thursday – President Barack Obama is making a three-day swing to explain his vision for reducing the national debt and it concludes Thursday in Reno.

    The White House issued a press release that day Obama will come to Reno to discuss " the ways the leaders in Washington can come together and meet the expectations of the American people."

    It follows town hall meetings on Tuesday in northern Virginia and on Wednesday in Palo Alto, Calif.

    ======

    Hitting all of the key battleground states – Virginia and Nevada.

    Plus, fundraising in California.

    Obama does know how to run a campaign. Too bad he sucks as a President.

  • Former Sarah Palin aide Frank Bailey writing tell-all book – Due Out in May – When a book is called "Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin," you can guess it's not a happy story.
    An imprint of Simon & Schuster announced Monday that it had signed up "Blind Allegiance," a long-rumored tell-all by former Palin aide Frank Bailey. The imprint, Howard Books, will release Bailey's book May 24. Excerpts from an early draft were leaked to reporters earlier this year.
    Bailey worked with Palin while she was governor of Alaska and when she was John McCain's running mate on the Republican presidential ticket in 2008.
    Howard Books is calling "Blind Allegiance" a "chilling expose." Author Ken Morris and Alaska political blogger Jeanne Devon helped write the book.

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    Now, this should be interesting summer reading – but only if Sarah is running.

  • Wisconsin’s Supreme Court Election Snafu Is a National Wake-Up Call – It's been over a decade since the Bush-Gore recount in Florida was supposed to spur a wholesale modernization of our election systems. But a stunning mistake made by a Wisconsin county clerk in a nationally watched state Supreme Court race reminded us of how far we have to go.

    Wisconsin voters went to the polls on April 5 in an election that could have flipped the state Supreme Court's majority from conservative to liberal. On the morning of April 6, liberal challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg declared victory by a margin of some 200 votes. But the next day Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus announced that she had excluded some 14,000 votes from the city of Brookfield when she gave her final tally to the Associated Press on election night. The revised tally put conservative incumbent David Prosser more than 7,000 votes ahead of Ms. Kloppenburg, and he has since been verified the clear winner.

    Ms. Nickolaus's error could have been easily avoided through transparency. She had ended the prior clerk's practice of reporting election results for individual cities because it was "not her responsibility" and she didn't "have the staff to enter all the data"—an absurd statement given that many smaller counties post such data on their websites. Many states, such as Kentucky, offer user-friendly websites to track returns statewide.

    Not so in Wisconsin—and if we don't view this month's mess as a wake-up call, we'll have only ourselves to blame if next year's presidential election turns into a rerun of Florida 2000. Americans know it could happen: The Brookings Institution reports that in a 2004 poll of 37 nations, Americans were more likely than citizens of any country save Russia to say that their elections are "very dishonest."

    Mexico—which has a national photo ID requirement for voting—spends roughly 10 times more per capita than the U.S. and has virtually eliminated charges of voter fraud or incompetence. We can vastly improve our system with much smaller investments.

  • Why California Should Tax Online Sales? Or Not… – On this “Tax Day” and throughout the year, millions of Californians do their part to sustain the schools, health care, public safety, and other foundations of a healthy state. But projections show today’s collection will come up at least $1 billion short of what is due because most Californians won’t add the sales tax they owe on online purchases to the bottom of their California income tax form. With the state once again facing tough budget times, these dollars could go a long way to close our gaping budget gap.

    Most Californians may not realize that if a retailer fails to collect the sales tax due on a book, a pair of shoes, or other purchase made online, the purchaser still owes the tax. This requirement is nothing new – it’s been part of state law since 1935. The hitch comes in trying to collect the tax. In fact, only 1 percent of those who buy online from out-of-state companies like Amazon.com currently pay the taxes due. As online sales soar, they also take a big, and growing, bite out of the state’s revenue collection.

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    There is NO good reason and these leftists use the fairness argument to justfy their redistribution schemes and the right of the state to YOUR money.

    One problem which I have written about extensively is the loss of jobs and the fact the state of California really won't realize any more revenue.

    Oops….

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Flap’s Links and Comments for April 12th on 00:41

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These are my links for April 12th from 00:41 to 08:32:

  • California courts: A judicial fight may be averted – William Vickery's announcement that he would retire as the chief administrator of the California judicial system may cool off a red-hot political fight that pits judges against judges.

    Officially, Vickery, the top executive at the Administrative Office of the Courts, or AOC, was merely fulfilling a previously made decision to step down. But it occurred as Vickery was receiving big-time heat from rebellious judges, the state auditor's office and legislators over management issues, especially a much-troubled, very costly computer system.

    To critics, the California Court Management System is symbolic of efforts by the recently retired Supreme Court chief justice, Ron George, to centralize judicial management, bypassing locally elected judges.

    Rebel judges created the Alliance of California Judges and are sponsoring legislation that would affirm the right of local courts to manage their affairs. The AOC, under Vickery, has been organizing opposition to Assembly Bill 1208 by Assemblyman Charles Calderon, D-Whittier.

    When State Auditor Elaine Howle issued a highly critical report on the computer system, it gave the rebels more ammunition.

    "AOC has consistently failed to develop accurate cost estimates," Howle said. "Projected in 2004, the AOC's earliest available cost estimate for the system was $260 million, an amount that grew substantially to $1.9 billion based on the AOC's January 2010 estimate. Over the same period, complete deployment to the superior courts has been postponed by seven years, from fiscal year 2008-09 to fiscal year 2015-16."

    After the report was issued, several legislators called for Vickery to resign.

    The computer system was to be George's crowning legacy, along with a $5 billion courthouse construction project. Both legacies, however, are tarnished by their implementation.

    ======

    Former chief Justice Ronald George was an idiot and everyone is glad he is gone (retired.

    The California court system is a disgrace, costs too much money and needs to live within its means.

    I say cut their bloated budgets and pare back the judge's salaries.

  • Amazon Tax: The Internet Tax Mirage – Governor Pat Quinn recently added to his reputation as America's most taxing politician by signing a law applying the state's 6.25% sales tax to Internet purchases made in Illinois. Within hours, Amazon, the online book and merchandise seller, announced it would discontinue using any of its 9,000 Illinois small business affiliates to avoid having to collect the tax. Congratulations, Governor.

    The issue of whether and how states should tax Internet sales is back as one of the hottest in state legislatures. Colorado, New York, North Carolina and Rhode Island already impose some version of what has become known as the "Amazon tax," and at least a dozen other deficit-plagued states are advancing similar bills. This political brawl unites liberals with brick-and-mortar retailers, such as Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Target, against taxpayers and such online retailers as Amazon and Overstock. Internet sales reached $165 billion last year and have been growing by nearly 15% annually.

    The first issue is whether the Amazon tax is constitutional. New York's law is now being challenged in court as a violation of the Supreme Court's landmark 1992 Quill decision. In that case the High Court ruled that a state cannot impose a tax on a company if it does not have a physical presence in that state.

    This decision originally applied to mail order sales, but the same principle applies to firms that sell over the Internet. If the company does not have an office, store or warehouse inside a state, the state cannot compel the firm to collect sales tax. Illinois and others are trying to broaden the concept of physical presence to include doing business with any affiliate inside the state's borders, such as online advertisers.

    The Quill standard may be the last line of defense against what would become a raid by governments at all levels on interstate online commerce. One virtue of the U.S. federal system is that it allows states to compete on tax policies. The courts should insure that a firm has a genuine physical presence in the state—not merely an online presence—to impose its taxing power. States retain the right to collect a "use tax" from their residents who make purchases from out-of-state companies or over the Internet.

    Even if the courts rule against online sellers, states are fantasizing if they believe this tax will raise as much money as they hope. As in Illinois, Amazon has announced that it will cease doing any business with affiliates in any state that imposes this tax, and the firm hasn't been bluffing. So far it has closed its affiliate program in every state with the tax, except New York (where the law is under challenge).

    Paul Dion, head of Rhode Island's revenue analysis office, says that "To date nobody has come forward to remit sales tax to us under that [online sales tax] statute." North Carolina's tax office reports that the state had raised all of $4.6 million as of January from the new tax, a small fraction of what legislators predicted. A study by the Tax Foundation has found that because of the retaliatory steps taken by Amazon, Rhode Island and North Carolina may have lost money because online marketing companies have closed down, or relocated outside the state.

    ======

    The Amazon Tax will NOT solve the states budget problems and will lead to a loss of jobs.

    How stupid do these states have to be?

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Flap’s Links and Comments for March 24th on 08:00

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These are my links for March 24th from 08:00 to 09:50:

  • How television created and then killed Sarah Palin’s political prospects – It was television that destroyed Sarah Palin, just as it made her. I’ve said before and I’ll say it again – the arrival of Palin as a major political figure in 2008 was an emanation of the reality-TV culture, anchored in the belief that ordinary or “everyday” people, inarticulate though they may be, and with all the baggage of messy personal lives, are truly compelling public figures. Palin was the political equivalent. A figure who refracts national identity as it is shaped by the culture’s most powerful medium. Authentic, populist and dismissive of sophistication in thought and action.

    Then, television duly destroyed the Palin authenticity. The arc of her national political career began with a defining speech at the Republican National Convention in September, 2008, and ended in November, 2010, a few episodes into Sarah Palin’s Alaska. The show, a cringingly inevitable reality-TV series, gave her a huge platform and she blew it. If her exposure on TV in 2008 brought out the authenticity, the show brought out Palin’s inner princess. She talked about being a mom 87 times an episode (I’m exaggerating , but only a little) and made dubious attempts to make political parables linking her family, the outdoors and wildlife. It was ego unbounded. And this after quitting her job as governor of Alaska.

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    Interesting enough Sarah Palin's next career will most probably be on television.

  • Why is Jon Huntsman running for president? – This is like Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) without the war record and without the bona fides on national security. And speaking of which, Huntsman’s hiring “key members from McCain’s team at the helm.” That alone is enough to freak out many in the base, who came to detest the McCain campaign crew for incompetency and disloyalty to its VP pick.

    I’m trying to figure out who a “Huntsman voter” is. Rudy Giuliani attracted moderates before his campaign imploded (fizzled, actually). But he led New York through Sept. 11, governed like a no-nonsense fiscal conservative and offered up conservative positions on school choice, health care and tax policy. And he never served in a liberal president’s administration. Perhaps there is an untapped segment of the electorate to the left of Giuliani who doesn’t think that poorly of Obama. Unfortunately for Huntsman, they likely are Democrats.

    You do have to wonder how Huntsman, an intelligent man with business experience, was sold on taking the plunge. And you really have to wonder how thrilled his family will be if he decides to risk a chunk of the family fortune.

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    Good question – because he has the massive fortune to do so?

  • California must enforce ‘use’ law — now – Or Support Internet Taxes – So be it. Holding affiliates hostage in a desperate effort to continue tax-exempt merchandizing shouldn't be condoned. Barnes & Noble, which does collect the sales tax, has offered to pick up some of the Amazon affiliates. Other online retailers could, too.

    If the tax-free e-tailers retained their affiliate marketers and began collecting the taxes, Skinner estimates, her bill would net between $250 million and $500 million annually for the bleeding state general fund.

    But California this year will be stiffed much more: $1.7 billion in taxes that should have been paid on Web purchases, according to a University of Tennessee study.

    Another bill, by state Sen. Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley), would grant the Board of Equalization more power to force tax collections. She estimates it could gain the state more than $1 billion annually.

    A key backer is Democratic equalization board member Betty Yee.

    "Amazon used to argue that it didn't have the capability to collect the taxes, given the various different tax rates," she says. "They can track individual consumer preferences about products but can't track sales taxes? That's kind of crazy."

    Runner says, "The only way to solve this problem is with a national solution. You can't do it piecemeal."

    Perhaps. But a lot of California retailers could fold before the feds ride to their rescue. Meanwhile, deficit-plagued states are denied the taxes they're owed.

    Sacramento politicians should move swiftly to protect local businesses and demand the state's legal share. They should get off their inertia.

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    George Skelton, the LA Times Columnist is an old tax and spend liberal who never met a tax he didn't like.

    He supports the loss of jobs to California affiliates of Amazon.com and Overstock.com.

    I suggest that those affiliates cancel their paid subscriptions to the Los Angeles Times.

    Oh wait, they already read the rag for free on the internet.

    Internet taxation is a bad policy for California and America.

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Flap’s Links and Comments for March 22nd on 09:10

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These are my links for March 22nd from 09:10 to 09:12:

  • Can California tax Internet purchases? – California's severe budget squeeze and a stagnant economy have rekindled a political war over how Internet purchases should be taxed – if, indeed, they could be taxed.

    California already has one of the nation's highest sales tax rates, approaching 10 percent in some communities. But it's applied only to transactions inside the state or to mail order and Internet sales when the seller has a "physical presence" in the state.

    The latter condition – decreed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1992 – is the rub.

    Technically, Californians who buy from distant sellers are supposed to pay an equivalent "use tax" on state income tax returns. Few do, and enforcement is virtually impossible.

    That would seem to be that, but the potential revenue gain – officially at least a few hundred million dollars a year – and pressure from brick-and-mortar merchants about untaxed competition have sparked efforts to mine the Internet and mail sales vein.

    The situation's bête noire is Amazon, the huge Internet seller of almost everything. New York seized upon Amazon's use of affiliated sellers as the "physical presence" or "nexus" that would require it to collect sales taxes. But the New York law is tied up in the courts, and Amazon has threatened to cancel affiliate relations in any state that follows suit.

    Some California legislators want to emulate New York, prompting Amazon to issue a declaration that it not only opposes four pending taxation bills as violating the Supreme Court decision, but "would be compelled to end its advertising relationships with well over 10,000 California-based participants in the Amazon associates program." Overstock.com issued a similar warning.

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    Read it all.

  • Levin 1, Wehner 0 – Advantage, Levin. Even if you don’t believe the seemingly apocryphal stories about Reagan regretting the 1986 bill, it clearly failed. (The amnesty part worked. The border enforcement part was blocked.) It’s one thing to say Reagan supported this policy the first time. It’s another to claim he would have supported making the same mistake a second time–and that this is the “conservative” approach. … P.S.: It’s particularly disingenuous for Wehner to claim that Bush “never supported” a Reagan-like “amnesty.” The main difference between Reagan’s approach and Bush’s is that Reagan was honest enough to call it what it was (“amnesty”).  Bush and his apparatchiks preferred poll-tested confections like “path to citizenship.” …  Also, Bush’s amnesty was bigger. …

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    Bush's Amnesty Plan or Path to Citizenship would have been a MAJOR disaster.

    Reagan's "Amnesty" was bad enough – Mark Levin was correct.

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