Monday, August 31, 2009

CRS Report: Insurance Regulation Issues

Link
The individual states have been acknowledged as the primary regulators of insurance as far back as 1868. Since the 1945 McCarran-Ferguson Act, this system has operated with the specific blessing of Congress, but has also been subject to periodic scrutiny and suggestions that the time may have come for Congress to take back the regulatory authority that it granted to the states. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, congressional scrutiny was largely driven by the increasing complexities of the insurance business and concern over whether the states were up to the task of
ensuring consumer protections, particularly insurer solvency.

Just ask the people: Is he turning into a dictator?

Link

Polling Data

Do you think Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez is turning into a dictator?

Yes

53%

No

47%

Source: Alfredo Keller y Asociados
Methodology: Face-to-face interviews with 1,200 Venezuelan adults, conducted in August 2009. Margin of error is 2.9 per cent.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

How Long Does It Take an Athlete to Make $100,000?

Should we all riot in the streets because Alex Rodriguez is making 100k for every 6 pitches? Should we boycott Tiger Woods because he can play 11 holes of golf and earn 100k? Why do they deserve such "ridiculous" paydays?

Link
According to the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, it takes an average U.S. citizen a shade under four years to earn $100,000. Alex Rodriguez does it in six pitches.

How long do you have to work to pay for a Big Mac?

Link

Slide show on Saul Alinsky's Rules for Activism

Cubans solve toilet paper shortage

with state run newspaper.

Link
HAVANA, Aug. 27 (UPI) -- A Cuban retiree says the country's toilet paper shortage has created a lucrative business for seniors -- buying and reselling newspapers as an alternative.

The Havana retiree said he and other seniors line up before dawn to buy surplus newspapers from distribution points for factories and offices that have closed for economic reasons and shortages of electricity and raw materials, The Miami Herald reported Thursday.

The man, who requested anonymity to prevent trouble with authorities, said the seniors buy the newspapers, including the Communist party's Granma, for 20 Cuban cents -- about .007 U.S. cents. They then resell them to neighbors for up to 20 Cuban pesos, about 71 U.S. cents, for use as toilet paper.

Shopping Coupons sent to your phone

Update: Top 10 sites via Make Use of.

Link
While some mobile coupons are sent directly from a retailer to a customer who has signed up for mobile updates, the other way for bargain-seekers to get up-to-the-minute deals is to subscribe to a mobile-coupon aggregator. At Web sites like 8coupons, Cellfire, Yowza and Zavers, users can sign up for different retailers’ promotions in one place. The opt-in model means subscribers get only offers they want to receive, making each one worth reading.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Feed a family of 6 for $10/week?

Link
During a recent shopping trip, Spencer bought $279 in groceries for 39 cents.

Spencer has a following of almost 4,000 on Yahoo and thousands more on the Big Tent Web site.

"We've had members go from spending $300 a week on food down to $40 in a matter of weeks," she said.

Spencer spends about one hour a week collecting online coupons and scanning circulars and then four hours a week in grocery stores.

It's a lot of planning, but Spencer said it certainly pays off.

House and Senate Records, where to find them?

HT: Opposition Research Training Blog


How much money comes from PACs vs Individuals?

This data is from Opensecrets.org and covers the full career of each Tennessee member of Congress.

John Tanner: 75%

Lincoln Davis: 55%

Bart Gordon: 55%

John Duncan: 52%

Marsha Blackburn: 35%

Steve Cohen: 32%

Jim Cooper: 16%

Zach Wamp: 12%

Phil Roe: 1%


Lamar Alexander: 9%

Bob Corker: 10%

One of Britain's worst Polluters?

The error-prone supercomputer that "models" climate change.

Link
The massive machine - the UK's most powerful computer with a whopping 15 million megabytes of memory - was installed in the Met Office's headquarters in Exeter, Devon.
It is capable of 1,000 billion calculations every second to feed data to 400 scientists and uses 1.2 megawatts of energy to run - enough to power more than 1,000 homes.

[...]

It is the second time the Met Office has been criticised this year - after the machine famously helped predict a "BBQ summer" which turned out to be another wash-out.

Is Charley Rangel an arrogant, lying, crook?

Link

In this case, Rangel “amended” his 2007 financial disclosure form by more than a half of millions dollars — a figure that may be as high as $780,000 given the broad ranges allowed by Congress in reporting. He previously reported his income at between $516,015 and $1.316 million. when it was really between $1.028 million and $2.495 million.

Rangel is already under investigation by the ethics committee, but his voluntary amendment could be used as defense against any serious punishment.

Previously, Rangel said that he would amend his reporting but never indicated that the error was this massive, here. For example, in 2004 he listed $4,000-$10,000 in outside income, but he now estimated his outside income as between $118,000 and $1.04 million.

Godfather of NY Mafia to hold hearings on crime reduction

How stupid do they think we are? Better question: How stupid are they?

Congress is incapable of deficit reduction. Republicans are incapable of deficit reduction. Democrats are incapable of deficit reduction. George Bush was incapable of deficit reduction. Barack Obama is incapable of deficit reduction.

Why waste ink and breath on something that simply will not happen?

Link
Some lawmakers are focused instead on setting up an independent commission to solve the deficit problem. Senate Budget Committee chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) plans to hold hearings on the topic when Congress returns to Washington this fall.

2009 Tax Forms: more ridiculous complexity than ever

And, of course, the IRS presumes that YOU, dear taxpayer, assume the complete responsibility for getting it all right or YOU are at fault.

Link HT: NTU
With all the tax changes (some temporary) congressional representatives have made, Schedule L is hardly the only new form for 2009. "They've always done tax tinkering, but this year they've gone too far, and there's still time for them to do more before the end of the year,'' Hill worries. One new form she deems particularly problematic is the new 14-step "Schedule M--Making Work Pay and Government Retiree Credits."

This results from Congress' creation in the February $787 billion stimulus bill of a temporary $400 per worker tax credit pushed by President Obama. That seemingly simple handout required a whole new form because Congress made the credit more complicated by denying it to the better off; it phases out for singles with adjusted gross incomes of more than $75,000 and couples earning more than $150,000. (For more on this and other phase-outs, read "So What's in the Stimulus for You? Nothing!")

In addition, Congress wanted to send a $250 check to each Social Security recipient and government pensioner but didn't want those who work to collect both the $250 check and the $400 credit, necessitating still more lines on Schedule M. (Those who file a 1040 or 1040A will use the new M; filers of the 1040EZ will complete a shorter worksheet on the back of that form.)

Paris Designers have finally run OUT of ideas

Link

Friday, August 28, 2009

"Stand Up" Tea Party Song by Bruce Bellott

Bruce Bellott is a local Country Music artist who has just been chosen to sing at the 9-12 rally in Washington DC. Here is his rendition of "Stand Up."

Banks "too big to fail" now even bigger

Failure is absolutely necessary in a free market economy. It is the essential reallocation of resources that economist Schumpeter termed "creative destruction." It is the reason most music is no longer sold on CDs. It is the reason most phone calls are now via cell phones, its is etc etc etc.

By keeping these behemoths alive Congress, George Bush and Barack Obama have assured us a financial market dominated by quasi-governmental anachronisms that will be as arrogant as the most power hungry bureaucracy and just as inefficient.

Link
Today, the biggest of those banks are even bigger.

The crisis may be turning out very well for many of the behemoths that dominate U.S. finance. A series of federally arranged mergers safely landed troubled banks on the decks of more stable firms. And it allowed the survivors to emerge from the turmoil with strengthened market positions, giving them even greater control over consumer lending and more potential to profit.

J.P. Morgan Chase, an amalgam of some of Wall Street's most storied institutions, now holds more than $1 of every $10 on deposit in this country. So does Bank of America, scarred by its acquisition of Merrill Lynch and partly government-owned as a result of the crisis, as does Wells Fargo, the biggest West Coast bank. Those three banks, plus government-rescued and -owned Citigroup, now issue one of every two mortgages and about two of every three credit cards, federal data show.

ZIPCar - Netflix for cars

This is an extraordinary concept enabled by new technology.

Link

Lawyer falls off horse, sues host for negligence

Thankfully, the court says no. The kicker: the hosts were celebrating her victory in court on another matter.

Link
Levinson was a guest at the cattle ranch of Bert and Anne Owens, who held a barbecue to celebrate a legal victory that Levinson had secured in court. As a lawyer representing the California Department of Conservation in 2005, Levinson won an injunction that prevented Tehama County from approving a lot line adjustment.

The Owens wanted to thank her and celebrate the win by inviting her and others out to the ranch. While she admits that she was asked if she could ride one of the horses by one guests (and answered yes), she insists that Bert Owens never asked her and should have protected her from the risk. Notably, from the outset, the horse named Pistol bucked a bit but Levinson continued on the ride.

Levinson rode Pistol out of the corral and into a field without a problem but, when the horse broke into a gallop, she was thrown into a feed bunk or trough. On the way down, her face hit a barbed-wire fence and she suffered facial cuts and a broken hip. She claimed negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

However, Tehama Superior Court Judge Edward J. King III granted summary judgment in favor of Bert and Anne Owens under the doctrine of assumption of risk.

GE, they bring Govt Corruptionl to you!!

Large Corporations and Large Labor Unions are buying extraordinary influence in DC everyday. Unlike big labor, which gives almost exclusively to Dems, big business is completely agnostic. They will corrupt whoever is in power to get a piece of the action.

Link

Steve Milloy, a pro-free market investor at the Free Enterprise Action Fund, obtained this e-mail and says it reveals General Electric for what it really is. "GE is lobbying to become the biggest rent seeker this country has ever seen," Milloy told this column. Rent seeking is using government legislation or regulation to generate private profits the free market wouldn't provide.

"On climate change," Rice wrote, "we were able to work closely with key authors of the Waxman-Markey climate and energy bill, recently passed by the House of Representatives. If this bill is enacted into law it would benefit many GE businesses."

Most of all, Waxman-Markey would profit a GE joint venture called Greenhouse Gas Services, which deals in greenhouse gas credits, products that have value only if a cap-and-trade bill like Waxman-Markey passes.

The leaked e-mail shows how tightly GE connects PAC contributions and lobbying efforts. "Our Company is heavily impacted by a number of issues pending in Washington this fall," Rice wrote.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Extraordinary Statement by Congressman Mike Rogers

Toyota closes only unionized US Plant

Link
The plant, in Fremont, Calif., employs 4,700 members of the United Automobile Workers union and is the country’s only remaining auto plant west of San Antonio. It opened in 1984 as a way for Toyota to experiment with building cars in North America and for G.M. to learn more efficient production techniques from its Japanese partner.

In the end, it will become Toyota’s first experience with closing a plant in the United States.

Dutch Govt says Girl can't sail solo around the world

While the Dutch Govt is playing super nanny and trying to prevent a young girl in her attempt, a British teen boy just completed the journey.

Link
THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- Thirteen-year-old Laura Dekker wants to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world, and her parents think that's a great idea.

But the Dutch Council for Child Protection is so concerned about the dangers of the marathon voyage it has asked a court to grant it temporary custody of Laura so it can do what her parents refuse to: Halt the trip.

Judges at Utrecht District Court were to announce Friday whether they will scupper Laura's record-breaking plans. In the meantime, the legal battle has ignited a wide-ranging debate even in this traditionally seafaring nation about the role that parents should play in their children's risky adventures.

The rat race to become a so-called "super child" - the youngest to accomplish some grueling feat - can be fueled by ambitious parents, laser-focused children with talent, or youngsters with a deep need to please or be praised, psychologists say.

Dutch social workers fear that could be an issue in Laura's case, for she lives with her Dutch father who is divorced from her German mother.

SATURDAY: Shoot a machine gun and help the Teaparty

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SATURDAY AUGUST 29, 2009

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Greenbrier, TN 37073
(615) 643-4865

They replaced watches..now alarm clocks are disappearing

Link
A poll of nearly 1,500 people showed 82 per cent of them owned a mobile phone, with over half of them using it as an alarm clock.
Robert Egan, a fellow of the British Horological Institute, has witnessed the slide in their popularity.
"It is a trend that we are seeing, people are even using mobiles instead of wrist watches now.
"It's just another sign of modern technology taking over from mechanical things.
"I think in terms of travelling mobile phones are going to be the thing, these are changing times," he said.
The poll, carried out by Rightmobilephone.co.uk, showed one in five British people used handsets for the internet, organising their week, taking photos or films and waking up in the morning.

Memphis parents should be PISSED!!!

Sorry for the indelicate language but how the hell else can you say it. Many Memphis City Schools have miserably failed urban, mostly minority students. Certainly not all Memphis Schools are miserable but far, far too many certainly are.

Year after year after year tens of thousand of students are condemned to miserable, violent, drug infested schools that produce discouraged, cynical kids who have no sense at all of their enormous potential.

It is a scandal of epidemic proportions and yet year after year the status quo is allowed to persist because those who have political power want it that way. Teacher's union and and the educational bureaucracy are focused on survival, that is their primary directive.

Fed Govt workers now payed TWICE taxpayer's pay

Link

The George W. Bush years were very lucrative for federal workers. In 2000, the average compensation (wages and benefits) of federal workers was 66 percent higher than the average compensation in the U.S. private sector. The new data show that average federal compensation is now more than double the average in the private sector.

Ok, all together now for the umpteenth time, slowly

Politicians do NOT create jobs, they buy political capital with our tax dollars. Any doubts?

This headline says it all:

Political veteran to head Dean's economic development office.

We would ALL be better off if Matt Kisber (at the State) and Alexia Poe (in Metro) got REAL jobs producing REAL goods and services which we could purchase (or not). As it is, their job is to negotiate in complete secrecy with favored businesses to give away our hard earned tax dollars. Their bosses can then claim to "create jobs," a ludicrous assertion. Hard working and innovative Tennesseans create jobs, NOT politicians.

Lets call it what it is, bribery. They are buying political capital for Karl Dean and Phil Bredesen with our money, plain and simple.


The Copeland Cap is a Toothless Tiger for TN Taxpayers

In 1978, the voters of Tennessee approved a constitutional amendment called the Copeland Cap. Tennessee was the first State in the nation to pass such a limit on the growth in State spending.

The amendment mandated that State spending not grow faster than the Tennessee economy. In other words, State Government spending should not grow faster than the ability of Tennessee taxpayers to pay for that growth.

The amendment contained a fatal flaw, however. The spending limit can be overridden with a simple majority vote. In other words it can be exceeded with the same simple majority vote that is used to pass the budget. And, in fact, many times legislators don't even know they are voting for the "index" bill, as it is called.

As a result the Copeland cap has been exceeded 14 times by a total amount of $3.6 billion. It is time for a change to the Copeland cap so that that a super majority of votes is required to exceed the cap. This would provide taxpayers the protection they need and deserve for their family budgets. Source

Tennessee State Spending

Copeland Cap

Yr/Yr

Exceeded

1977-78

1,943,271,400

18.31%

1978-79

2,066,136,449

6.32%

1979-80

2,233,958,731

8.12%

1980-81

2,251,514,900

0.79%

1981-82

2,405,433,715

6.84%

1982-83

2,544,309,360

5.77%

1983-84

2,544,074,600

-0.01%

1984-85

3,213,352,200

26.31%

396,100,000

1985-86

3,589,868,286

11.72%

58,000,000

1986-87

3,945,250,800

9.90%

100,000,000

1987-88

4,089,071,000

3.65%

1988-89

4,511,685,600

10.34%

101,000,000

1989-90

4,965,047,500

10.05%

74,000,000

1990-91

5,077,847,500

2.27%

1991-92

5,101,226,500

0.46%

703,100,000

1992-93

5,825,820,000

14.20%

450,000,000

1993-94

6,226,346,300

6.88%

1994-95

6,522,330,200

4.75%

1995-96

6,863,160,600

5.23%

1996-97

7,140,369,900

4.04%

55,000,000

1997-98

7,392,089,800

3.53%

1998-99

7,987,938,890

8.06%

1999-00

8,295,084,400

3.85%

270,000,000

2000-01

8,885,405,625

7.12%

2001-02

9,262,376,900

4.24%

2002-03

9,565,920,000

3.28%

771,000,000

2003-04

9,924,479,700

3.75%

275,000,000

2004-05

11,076,150,200

11.60%

2005-06

11,658,574,900

5.26%

2006-07

12,459,483,761

6.87%

46,000,000

2007-08

13,792,630,592

10.70%

57,300,000

2008-09

13,617,116,100

-1.27%

2009-10

12,591,267,300

-7.53%

248,000,000

3,604,500,000