Sunday, January 31, 2010

Democrats quietly working to resuscitate healthcare overhaul

They are meeting almost daily to plot legislative moves while gently persuading skittish rank-and-file lawmakers to back a sweeping bill.

This effort is deliberately being undertaken quietly as Democrats work to focus attention on more-popular initiatives to bring down unemployment, which the president said was a priority in his State of the Union address on Wednesday.

Many have concluded that the only hope for resuscitating the healthcare legislation is to push the issue off the front page and give lawmakers time to work out a new compromise and shift public perception of the bill.

"A little bit of time and quiet could help," said Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor, a conservative Democrat who was among a group of centrist Democrats from the House and Senate who met last week to discuss a way forward on healthcare.

NYC Teacher makes $100k/Yr doing NOTHING

A DOE hearing officer gave him a slap on the wrist -- a week off without pay -- for "conduct unbecoming a teacher." He was cleared to return to teaching.
Instead, Schools Chancellor Joel Klein has kept the scruffy 64-year-old in a Brooklyn rubber room, deeming him too dangerous to be near kids, officials said.
The DOE can't fire him.

"We have to abide by the union contract," spokeswoman Ann Forte said.
So Rosenfeld simply collects his $100,049 salary -- top scale for teachers -- plus full health benefits and the promise of a fat pension, about $82,000 a year if he were to retire today.

His pension will grow by $1,700 each year he remains. He could have retired at age 62, but he stays.

Poll: 70% Give Public Education a C or below

CBS News Poll. Dec. 17-22, 2009. N=1,048 adults nationwide. MoE ± 3 (for all adults).

"Using a grade of A, B, C, D and F -- where A is excellent and F is very poor -- and using any of the grades in between, how would you grade the U.S. on the quality of the public schools in this country?"




"In general, do you think the education most children are getting today in public schools is better, is about the same, or worse than the education you received?"

BetterAbout the



Saturday, January 30, 2010

Obligatory Snow Picture from my office window

CA Teachers Retirement System underfunded by $42 billion

Expect the exodus from California to grow into a stampede as taxpayers realize what a criminally negligent legislature has done to the State's finances.

Mr. Ehnes says CalSTRS has no authority to impose such an increase, unlike pension plans in other states. Instead, he says the California Legislature must approve such an increase, but he concedes that action this year is unlikely given the political climate and California's $20 billion budget deficit.

Mr. Ehnes says CalSTRS plans to continue an education campaign to persuade legislators to take action in 2011.

Big Labor funding Anti-TeaParty website


I just came across a new website titled:

It is paid for by the American Public Policy Committee. Well, according, the two donors for American Public Policy Committee this year are Patriot Majority and Patriot Majority West.

However, according to, the 2nd largest contributor in 2008 to Patriot Majority was SEIU and other top Unions around America. I imagine the diversion of Union money gets much deeper than this.

Banning cell use while driving has NOT reduced accidents

The thought was, of course that if law were passed that decreased cellphone use, then there should be fewer crashes. But that was not the case.

“You know that there should be fewer,” he said. “We were looking for that, and we aren’t seeing that pattern,” said Mr. Lund, who is also the insurance institute’s president.

This is the first look at crashes in California, New York, Connecticut and Washington since they passed bans on hand-held cellphone use while driving. One reason Mr. Lund was so surprised was that the institute had previously conducted research that showed that drivers talking on cellphones seemed to be four times as likely to crash.

The new study, which was completed in December, looked at crashes (and not just at those involving cellphones) in those four places and found no decrease in accidents, despite the bans’ having reduced the use of hand-held cellphones 41 to 76 percent. The researchers obtained those numbers by going out to street corners and exit ramps to observe how many people had cellphones up to their ears before the bans compared with after the bans.

“We can’t even see a blip in the data for crashes,” said Mr. Lund. Furthermore, there was no indication that increased cellphone use was resulting in more crashes nationwide, despite what studies and common sense would indicate.

The Newest Corporate Welfare Queen? Michael Moore

Govt healthcare in Mass = Higher Costs for everyone

The yearlong investigation, set to be released today, found no evidence that the higher pay was a reward for better quality work or for treating sicker patients. In fact, eight of the 10 best-paid hospitals in one insurer’s network were community hospitals, which tend to have less complicated cases than teaching hospitals and do not bear the extra cost of training future physicians.

Coakley’s staff found that payments were most closely tied to market leverage, with the largest hospitals and physician groups, those with brand-name recognition, and those that are geographically isolated able to demand the most money.

“Everybody knows that there is dysfunction in the system, and nobody is happy with it,’’ Coakley said in an interview yesterday. “These rising costs are unsustainable. If we don’t do something about it, the only thing we’ll be able to afford is health care. No one will have money for food or housing.’’

Friday, January 29, 2010

NYC Poll on Trials for Terrorists in NYC

Q: Should the September 11 terror trials be held in Lower Manhattan? Or should they be held somewhere else?
A: Lower Manhattan 23% Somewhere Else 69%

Q: Should the September 11 terror suspects be tried in a civilian court? Or a military court?
A: Civilian 26% Military 69%

THIS is NOT a President, THIS is a spoiled Brat

Obama chastising the Republican Caucus.

Doctor Survey: 64% will stop taking Medicare if payments cut


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Republicans in glass houses need to hold on to their stones

The Republicans haven’t always been against increasing the federal debt ceiling. This is the first time in recent history (the past decade or so) that no Republican has voted for the increase. In fact, on most of the ten other votes to increase the federal debt limit that the Senate has taken since 1997, the Republicans provided the majority of the votes in favor.
Worth noting, of course, is the sudden drop off in Republican support for raising the debt limit as soon as Obama took office. A little number crunching shows that, under Bush, the Republicans provided, on average, 39 of the 50 votes generally needed to raise the limit. But under Obama, the Republicans have provided only 1 vote on average to raise the limit.

Dallas Fed Looks at the Labor Market and it is UGLY


To put the recession’s labor- market impact into perspective, we compare the past two years to previous downturns, including the Great Depression. We also examine the data commonly used to assess labor market conditions. While unemployment rates and nonfarm payroll losses are widely reported, a firm grasp of what they measure is critical to understanding what they tell us about the current state of the labor market.

State of the Union Speech in one sentence

We need to rise above fear, hesitation, and partisan politics–to give the government all the power it needs to solve all our problems.

Federal Govt hiring will continue to explode, in spite of "freeze"

If your boss announced plans to freeze spending for three years, you would hold your breath and ask, "What does it mean for me?"

Well, most federal workers, and those who would like to join their ranks, can exhale. The budget freeze proposed by boss-in-chief Barack Obama isn't likely to cost them their jobs, in fact federal employment probably will continue to grow.

The reason: The departments exempted from the freeze -- Defense, State, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs -- are growth areas in the government. Entitlement programs, such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, also will be untouched, meaning the people running them have no worries.

Neither, to a large extent, do job seekers.

Last year's prediction by the administration that Uncle Sam would hire several hundred thousand new civilian employees over a four-year period essentially may be unaffected by the freeze. "The large bulk of those hires will move forward as expected," said one senior government official.

Americans Would Deny Re-Election to Obama

Link Full details HERE with lots more questions about Obama

Polling Data

At this point, do you think Barack Obama deserves to be re-elected as President in 2012?

Yes, he deserves to be re-elected


No, he does not deserve to be re-elected


Not sure


Source: Angus Reid Public Opinion
Methodology: Online interviews with 1,003 American adults, conducted on Jan. 22 and Jan. 23, 2010. Margin of error is 3.1 per cen


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I DO believe, I DO believe, I DO believe in the profit motive

NASHVILLE - Tennessee Democrats have approved a $25,000 incentive for their top two officials if the party scores major wins in this fall's election.

Chairman Chip Forrester today confirmed to The Associated Press that he and operations director Jennifer Wallace will qualify for the bonuses if Democrats win back majorities in the House or Senate, or if they win the governor's race. Healthcare "rally" in Albany Ga

I count 7 people.

Pornographic text sparks tribal war


Two people are dead after a pornographic text message sparked tribal violence in Papua New Guinea's southern highlands.

The violence flared on Saturday when a young man from the Tapo clan in Tari sent a pornographic text message to a woman in the Pipi clan.

The girl was offended and showed the image to her brother, who gathered his clansmen and attacked the Tapos with home-made guns, bush knives and bows and arrows.

One man was killed in the clash and Superintendent Jimmy Onopia says another man was pulled from a bus and killed with an axe yesterday.

"Two people have died, several have been wounded, several houses have been burnt down," he said.

Superintendent Onopia says the situation is now calm and police are helping to negotiate a peaceful resolution.

Now a UK Fat Dead Body Tax

But the council is now considering charging more for cremations involving bigger coffins to help pay for improvements costing up to £1.7million.
The plan could see families of the deceased asked to pay an additional £40 surcharge for cremations of larger bodies.

The report states: "Given that it is almost inevitable that the costs of taking larger coffins to facilities further afield is passed on to the customer, it is felt reasonable that if the authority incurs additional costs in order to facilitate larger coffins that a charge of £40 is made."

The Local Government Association warned local authorities as far back as 2007 that crematoriums were finding their furnaces too narrow to deal with bigger coffins.
Standard coffins range from 16 to 20 inches in depth. However, increasingly coffins anywhere up to 40 inches are being ordered to fit larger bodies.

Oregon votes for higher taxes...and fewer jobs

Higher taxes on high income earners and corporations. Those evil people who actually hire new they will have less money to hire new employees.

Link and Link
Together they generate an estimated $727 million, which has already been budgeted by the 2009 Legislature for public schools and other state services.

The tax measures were strongly supported by the state's teachers and other public employee unions. They argued that schools and public services would face damaging cuts.

A coalition of Oregon businesses, including the state's grocers, mounted a campaign to defeat the taxes, arguing that they would cost jobs at a time when the economy is already struggling.

House Speaker Dave Hunt said he and other supporters "have been hopeful from the beginning that Oregonians would be committed to strong schools, access to services and a healthy business climate."

Business Lobbyists try to get piece of new stimulus

An $80 billion “jobs package” under consideration in the Senate is stimulating a lobbying rush for federal dollars before the administration tries to cap spending.

Transit and high-speed rail advocates, teachers, community bankers, credit unions and business trade groups are seeking spending and tax provisions in the package, which Democrats hope will revive the economy and improve their electoral prospects after a string of defeats at the polls.

...and John Edwards could have been the President!!!

Young portrays Edwards as a self-obsessed, all-around creep in a copy of the book obtained by the Daily News.

Even as he cheated on his wife Elizabeth with campaign videographer Rielle Hunter, Young says, Edwards refused to consider a divorce - partly because he still loved his wife, and partly because voters did, too.

Young says he went along with the paternity scheme out of a cultish loyalty to the candidate - and because he believed Edwards would save his career even as Elizabeth Edwards trashed him. In short, he writes, "I was f---ed."

In 2006, with his wife away, Edwards brought Hunter to the couple's home, Young writes. There, Edwards told her they'd one day marry on a Manhattan rooftop and form a new family.

IRS Agents acting badly

In New York City IRS agent Robert Rosner asked the head of a small business he was auditing to take him out to lunch and then requested a $5,000 bribe to end the examination. Two days later, Rosner repeated the solicitation in a telephone call to the victim--who had a tape recorder running and took the tape to authorities. Rosner pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years probation.

Out in Las Vegas, Fernando Cruz is set for sentencing next month after pleading guilty to accepting a $500 "gratuity" from a couple he was auditing as an IRS tax compliance officer. The tape recorders again were rolling after the couple went to authorities.

The IRS long has had difficulties trying to figure out if a taxpayer correctly reported the tax treatment of sold-off real estate. In Southern California, IRS Revenue Agent Jim H. Liu reported a $4,200 loss on the sale of a home in Pomona, Calif. In fact--as he later admitted in court--he had a profit of $48,000. Liu received two years probation, paid a $4,000 fine and made $38,000 in restitution.

Spotting a business opportunity, New York City IRS agent Harry Willner set up a company out of his home he used to help others--and himself--take phony business deductions. For his efforts Willner received a one-year prison sentence and a $10,000 fine.

Bureaucracy doesn't even work well for bureaucrats

Why did it take the Commerce Department so long to notify employees that their personal information, including Social Security numbers, had been let loose on the Internet?

On Monday, employees were informed by letters mailed to their homes about "a breach of protocol involving your Personally Identifiable Information (PII), including your Social Security number (SSN) and name."

The breach occurred on Dec. 4 -- more than seven weeks before workers were told. It took Commerce nearly four weeks to prepare the letter, which was dated Dec. 31.

The department took action to protect the information within hours of the breach, an official said. The delay in notification, however, was a bit harder to explain.

The letter was not written until officials gained information about the breach through the investigative process, said the official, who did not speak for attribution. Once the letter was written, it apparently got caught in a backlog of mail to be sent to employees, including W-2 income tax forms.

That's not the kind of explanation employees find comforting.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Obama gets sued over open records more than...gasp, Bush


Why are Liberals upset with Obama?

Because Obama can't persuade the unwashed masses of the clear superiority of liberal orthodoxy. If he were a "real" communication superstar he would, the liberals believe, be able to push the great middle class toward the quiet acceptance of a life lead at the end of a government leash.

This blog post says it all:

This gets at, I think, an underappreciated aspect of liberal disappointment with Obama: On multiple fronts, Obama seems to be abandoning the idea that Dems can win arguments and achieve fundamental shifts in public opinion.
The White House was caught off guard by the left’s vehement demand that he draw a line on the public option. But that fight was really a proxy for a larger argument over the proper role of government in people’s lives. Liberals desperately wanted Obama to fight for the public option because they wanted him to engage, and to win, that larger argument, in order to drive a stake through the heart of what Paul Krugman called “government-is-bad fundamentalism.”

Corker and Alexander vote to outsource hard decisions

Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander voted in favor of an Obama administration favored commission that would do the dirty work of proposing higher taxes to "solve" the budget deficit. The vote failed with only 53 yes votes.

Conservative Senators Coburn, DeMint, and Kyle voted against the idea.

We elected Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker to make the same difficult budget decisions that taxpaying families make each month, NOT to outsource them.

HERE is the vote.

Could Obama be our first $5 trillion Deficit President?

Last year's Federal Government deficit was $1.4 trillion, now the CBO is telling us this year's deficit could be $1.3 trillion. Lets just say the deficits average $1.25 Trillion for 4 years, that $5 Trillion total. The Census Bureau tell us there are about 120 million households in the US.

That means Barack and Nancy and Harry are going to increase the debt of every US Household by more than $41,000 in four short years.

Internal Dem Memo on Campaign Strategy

Politico article

“Given the pressure Republican candidates feel from the extreme right in their party, there is a critical — yet time-sensitive — opportunity for Democratic candidates,” the DSCC writes. “We have a finite window when Republicans candidates will feel susceptible to the extremists in their party. Given the urgent nature of this dynamic, we suggest an aggressive effort to get your opponents on the record.”

The memo urges Democratic candidates to force their opponents to answer a series of questions on health care, taxes and some of the favorite causes of the far right:

Do you believe that Barack Obama is a U.S. citizen?
Do you think the 10th Amendment bars Congress from issuing regulations like minimum health care coverage standards?
Do you think programs like Social Security and Medicare represent socialism and should never have been created in the first place?
Do you think President Obama is a socialist?
Do you think America should return to a gold standard?

Here is Memo

A "nuanced spending freeze" = a JOKE

Congress and the President are utterly incapable of cutting federal spending.

"We have actually gone through very carefully and some agencies will be up, some agencies will be down, investments made in key areas balanced by reductions in others," an official said.

"So while there's an overall freeze it doesn't mean that every single program or every single agency is frozen. It's a more sophisticated and nuanced approach than that," the official added.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Barack Obama is consistent, you gotta give him that

1-He really believes he can look us straight in the eye and tell us that politicians can create jobs and we will believe him. What was that last unemployment stat?

2-He really believes people will fall for one more giveaway...and if you put "middle class" in the title, he thinks people will lap it up like puppies offered warm milk. Hey, it worked with AIG.

3-He really thinks that we will believe him when he says he is serious about reducing the deficit. I am not sure why he thinks we would believe that one.

There you have the three major elements of the State of the Union speech and they are all lies and he keeps telling them....his is predictable, ya gotta give him that.

There are now more than 2,000 Government welfare programs

January 22, 2010 is a day that should live in infamy, at least among believers in limited government. On that day, the federal government added its 2,000th subsidy program for individuals, businesses, or state and local governments.

The number of federal subsidy programs soared 21 percent during the 1990s and 40 percent during the 2000s. The entire nation is jumping aboard Washington’s gravy train. My assistant, Amy Mandler, noticed the recent addition of two new Department of Justice programs, and that pushed us over the threshold to reach 2,001.

There is a federal subsidy program for every year that has passed since Emperor Augustus held sway in Rome. We’ve gone from bread and circuses to food stamps, the National Endowment for the Arts, and 1,999 other hand-out programs from the imperial city on the Potomac.

More and more Doctors avoid Medicare patients

Seniors in rural Arizona towns and cities with a graying population, such as Yavapai County's Prescott and Prescott Valley, are facing what health officials acknowledge is a troubling trend: doctors who refuse to see new Medicare patients.

White is among the many seniors who have struggled to find a local physician and have turned to hospital emergency rooms, clinics or lengthy car trips to Phoenix for health care. Medicare, some doctors say, pays too little, and the red tape is too much.

Nearly a third of Medicare recipients looking for a new primary-care physician had some trouble securing a regular doctor, according to a June 2008 report by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, an independent committee that advises Congress.

Stimulus II, a sequel America can't afford

CNN Poll: Stimulus money was wasted

"One reason why the economic stimulus bill is no longer popular with the American public is the perception that a lot of the money has been wasted. Six in 10 believe that the projects in the stimulus bill were included for purely political reasons," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

"Nearly three-quarters believe that at least half the stimulus money spent so far has been wasted, and one in five say nearly all of it has been a waste," Holland said.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Tax the Press and you get

ASHLAND — Representatives from newspapers including the Ashland Daily Tidings, Mail Tribune, the Oregonian, the San Francisco Chronicle, USA Today, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal said they are pulling most of their newspaper boxes from downtown Ashland in response to a new $25 annual fee per box being imposed by the city government.

Until this month, newspaper boxes could sit on public sidewalks for free.

Newspaper distributors said it doesn't make financial sense to pay to have their boxes sprinkled around downtown. Some distributors said they will pay the $25 fee to keep a few boxes where newspaper sales can justify the cost, such as near the Mix dessert shop and Geppetto's Restaurant.

The city of Ashland designated one free zone for newspaper boxes in front of Starbucks coffee shop, near the Chamber of Commerce.

A host of free publications also are being charged a $25 annual fee to occupy one shelf space inside new multi-publication racks. The racks were donated to the city by the Daily Tidings and the Mail Tribune and were refurbished by the city.

Peter Quince, local distributor of the New York Times and USA Today, said he has already pulled most of his newspaper boxes from downtown. Depending on its location, he said a newspaper box earns about $5 to $30 per month in profit.

Most French Civil Unions are straight couples

Interesting but it begs the question: why should government franchise our relationships in the first place.

The politicizing of human relationships is the REAL problem we should be discussing.

Government should stay the hell out of our relationships. It is a profound insult to freedom that we have allowed 535 fools in Congress to micro-manage our relationships though the IRS code and a million other regulations.


The growth of the pacs’ popularity over its first decade is striking. There are now two pacs for every three marriages. Interestingly, this is because of both a significant decline in marriage, and a significant increase in the overall number of people willing to engage in some kind of state-sanctioned relationship. While you would obviously need more finely grained data to establish this properly, the obviously intuitive interpretation of this (at least to me) is that the pacs have grown both by providing an option for people who would probably not have gotten married in the first place, and attracted a number of people who otherwise would have gotten married, but who prefer the pacs’ lower level of formality (it is much easier to cancel a pacs relationship than to get divorced).


and raise property taxes. Let's see how far you can push the "kick the taxpayer while they are down" envelope.

You pushed the Convention Center through the Council knowing that a large majority of taxpayers opposed it. Hey, go ahead and double down.

Ok, lets review:

1-according to the Census, from 2000-2008, net domestic migration for Davidson County was minus 20,387, second only to Shelby County. This means 20,387 more people moved OUT of Davidson County than moved in. (Source - see County Population Datasets)

2- Property Tax Rates in Davidson County are already SIGNIFICANTLY higher than any of the surrounding Counties: Source


2009 Tax Rate

Davidson (GSD)
















Saturday, January 23, 2010

This man PROMISED the most open administration

ever...and in this video he says, "all these cameras are going to move out so you can tell me the truth."

1986 Photo: Angeline Jolie and her Dad, John Voight

Link to other rare celeb photos

Friday, January 22, 2010

GA Facing a $500 mil Medicaid Funding Gap

The Stimulus chickens coming home to roost.

The recession has caused enrollment in the health program for the needy to soar. Medicaid rolls for low-income residents have jumped 7.7 percent from June 2009 to 2010 to more than 1 million people.

Meanwhile, hundreds of millions of dollars in federal stimulus money are about to dry up.

The state has few options. To participate in Medicaid, it must provide services to the aged, blind, disabled and low-income children. And because Georgia accepted stimulus cash from Washington it cannot cut back eligibility on optional programs such as dental coverage and prescription drugs, Medows said.

"We are in a box," Medows told a joint budget panel of state legislators on Thursday.

"I cannot find $506 million to fill that hole through cuts, program reductions, layoffs."

Gov. Sonny Perdue has put forward a proposal which would charge hospitals and health insurance plans a 1.6 percent fee on their total revenues.

A Very Bad Joke by TSA Agent, Planting Drugs

What happened to her lasted only 20 seconds, but she says they were the longest 20 seconds of her life.

After pulling her laptop out of her carry-on bag, sliding the items through the scanning machines, and walking through a detector, she went to collect her things.

A TSA worker was staring at her. He motioned her toward him.

Then he pulled a small, clear plastic bag from her carry-on - the sort of baggie that a pair of earrings might come in. Inside the bag was fine, white powder.

She remembers his words: "Where did you get it?"

Two thoughts came to her in a jumble: A terrorist was using her to sneak bomb-detonating materials on the plane. Or a drug dealer had made her an unwitting mule, planting coke or some other trouble in her bag while she wasn't looking.

She'd left her carry-on by her feet as she handed her license and boarding pass to a security agent at the beginning of the line.

Answer truthfully, the TSA worker informed her, and everything will be OK.

Solomon, 5-foot-3 and traveling alone, looked up at the man in the black shirt and fought back tears.

Put yourself in her place and count out 20 seconds. Her heart pounded. She started to sweat. She panicked at having to explain something she couldn't.

Now picture her expression as the TSA employee started to smile.

Just kidding, he said. He waved the baggie. It was his.

And so she collected her things, stunned, and the tears began to fall.

North Korea holding 200,000 political prisoners

The North Korean government is holding approximately 200,000 dissidents[press release, in Korean] in six prison camps spread throughout the country, according to a report released Wednesday by the South Korean government's National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRCK) [official website, in Korean]. According to the report, punishments for dissidents have increased significantly [VOA report] for common offenses such as attempting to escape. The report also said that five of these six prisons are death camps and that prisoners sent to them are never [Chosun llbo report] released. This is the first time a state agency has conducted a review of human rights in North Korea.

Tom Coburn, what Alexander and Corker should be

When will other GOP Senators start fighting for the family budget like Tom Coburn and Jim DeMint....and I don't mean spouting vacuous platitudes. I mean getting passionate about $1.2 Trillion in annual federal overspending and show a willingness to stop earmarking and start cutting, not cuts in the growth of spending but REAL cuts that can actually cut into the deficit.

As Senate leaders continue to hash out a deal on amendments to the debt limit bill, Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., Thursday said he plans to offer a measure rescinding $120 billion in funding by consolidating more than 640 government programs he believes are duplicative.

In a statement, Coburn said the cuts would "alleviate the need to increase the national debt limit," which would rise by $1.9 trillion if the bill is passed. A vote on the amendment would likely come next week, according to his office.
Of the $120 billion in cuts, roughly $100 billion would come from rescinding discretionary funding that has been available for more than two years but not designated for a particular purpose, the statement said.

The Tyranny of the Teacher Unions coming to an end?

ATF: solving crimes by committing them

Undercover ATF agents in Virginia have funneled more than 250 million cigarettes onto the nation's streets in the past three years through black market sales targeting smugglers, an Associated Press review has found.

Authorities say the flood of government-provided smokes - a pack and a half for every man, woman and child in New York City, the smugglers' main destination - leads them to organized crime rings and can even cut off financing for terrorists. The stings by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have yielded about five dozen federal arrests, albeit none on terror charges.

Many of those cigarettes undoubtedly wind up in the mouths of minors, since black market vendors have no reason to turn away teenage purchasers.

Despite that, government auditors and anti-tobacco groups want the ATF to do even more.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Paying top dollar for Opposition research in Texas

Link HT: The Opposition Research Training Blog
Opposition research, or "oppo," will be an integral component in scores of Texas races this year from courthouses to the statehouse. But nowhere are the fruits of oppo more apparent than in the Republican gubernatorial primary race between Gov. Rick Perry and U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Since the race began unfolding more than a year ago, the two campaigns have battered each other with a litany of charges and countercharges that reflect extensive digging into each candidate’s background and lengthy record of public service.

Hutchison’s camp cried foul when The Dallas Morning News reported in February that an opposition research firm working for Perry — John Doner & Associates — was filing open records requests to fish for information about Hutchison’s husband, Dallas bond attorney Ray Hutchison.

The Austin consulting firm is regarded as the state’s premier Republican oppo company and received at least $13,250 from the Perry campaign last year, according to disclosure statements filed with the Texas Ethics Commission. Doner, who declines to discuss his operations, has the reputation of a no-stone-unturned researcher after 18 years in the business.

The Hutchison campaign reports $66,400 in payments to a Little Rock public affairs firm headed by former U.S. prosecutor Tim Griffin, who once directed opposition research for the Republican National Committee and later worked in the White House under Karl Rove.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Poor parents in Memphis have way! WAY

Poor parents in Memphis want the same kind of decision making power about their children that Barack Obama and Bill Frist and Phil Bredesen and Karl Dean and Jim Cooper have?? Why, the insolent upstarts....who do they think they are??

The TEA does NOT want parents to have this freedom of choice, of course, so they will fight with all their taxpayer funded might to stop Senator Kelsey.

The Senate Education Committee approved the measure sponsored by Sen. Brian Kelsey that establishes a pilot program whereby students in failing schools would receive scholarships or vouchers to use for a private school education. The bill is written so that the pilot program could only be launched in the Memphis school district, and it was amended so that students in only one school in that district would get the vouchers. (Kelsey had originally proposed including students from the district’s 10 worst schools in the pilot program.)

Video: Is the Welfare State Justified?

No, it is not says this Prof...But, are liberals, who say they want fairness, willing to look at a non-authoritarian approach to social welfare programs?

Click on link for short video (was not embeddable)

Link HT: Division of Labor

Senator Nelson asks to be treated like everyone else

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) has asked to remove from the Senate health reform bill an unpopular deal he secured on Medicaid funding for his state, according to a report by Kaiser Health News.

Sen. Nelson has written a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) asking to extend the deal to every state, but if that request were not granted, he would want the Nebraska deal removed.

Under the deal, the federal government would pay 100 percent of Nebraska's expenses in a Medicaid expansion mandated by the health reform bill.

United Van Lines Annual Migration Survey

Another year, same pattern. People move from high tax states to low tax states.

Georgia Legislators fail to pay income taxes..AGAIN

Link HT: Georgia Politics Unfiltered

But now we've learned that Georgia Revenue Commissioner Bart Graham mailed letters to more than a dozen lawmakers last Friday about why they did not file in 2009.

Under a new ethics law passed on the final day of last year's General Assembly, those lawmakers have 30 days to respond to Graham's letter.

At the end of that time, he will then hand over their names to the House and Senate Ethics Committees for possible disciplinary action.

Indiana will vote on Property Tax Caps

State law already limits a homeowner’s property tax bill to 1 percent of the assessed value of the home. The caps are 2 percent for farmland and rental property and 3 percent for businesses.

The caps are expected to save taxpayers more than $400 million this year. But they also mean local governments and schools have less money available to provide basic services.

Schools are allowed to raise taxes through a referendum, and those increases are held outside the cap.

Local units of government such as counties and cities also can generate additional revenue with local option income taxes.

Gov. Mitch Daniels and many Republican legislators have been pushing to put the provision into the Indiana Constitution for two reasons: to ensure it isn’t challenged in court and to reduce the likelihood that future lawmakers would eliminate the caps.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Twenty Six Dead in Cuban Hospital

And the Communist Government of Cuba even admits to the problem.

Link and Link HT: Interested Participant
HAVANA – Cuba’s communist government announced Friday that administrators found to blame for the hypothermia-related deaths of 26 patients at a state psychiatric hospital in Havana will face charges.

“The principal people responsible for these events will be brought before the appropriate courts,” President Raul Castro’s government said in a statement read on state television, the first mention of the deaths in Cuba’s state-controlled media.

“In the Havana psychiatric hospital, which has 2,500 beds, there has been an increase in patient mortality during the last week. Twenty-six deaths were reported in total,” the communique said.

While acknowledging the fatalities were linked to prolonged temperatures of 3.6 C (38 F) earlier this week, the statement noted that some of those who succumbed to the cold were elderly and suffered from cancer or chronic heart problems.

“In the face of the situation described, the Ministry of Public Health decided to create a commission to investigate what happened, which as of the time of this report has identified various deficiencies,” the government said.

NY uses data mining to catch tax cheats

And collect a mountain of data about every aspect of the private lives of New Yorkers.

Syracuse, NY -- Another crazy idea popped into Bill Comiskey’s head: What if the tax department required banks to turn over their customers’ mortgage applications?
Homebuyers fill them out at a time when they want to impress the bank with their incomes. They sometimes are not in the same mood when they fill out their tax returns. Investigators could compare the two records, look for clues.

Comiskey, the state’s lead tax enforcer, called Nonie Manion, director of the audit division, from the car. He was zipping across New York state to deliver another speech at another tax preparers convention.

“Would this work?” he asked.

Every piece of personal information is on the table these days at the tax department, where a desire to collect taxes on the underground economy is prompting new and aggressive tactics. Comiskey, a one-time Mafia prosecutor, has been armed by lawmakers with new powers. His staff is for the first time pulling information from third parties into a continuous river of information about businesses and individuals.

lots of them will be Democrats, and they will be pissed

According to the CBO, the Alternative Minimum Tax will catch 27 million people in 2010, waaay up from previous years. Many of these people will be high income Democrats in the Northeast and California...and they will be PISSED!

Nothing is more pitiful than a Democrat trying to explain why he or she shouldn't be taxed more. The press will characterize them as "disenchanted" with Barack.

Making Annexation more difficult in Shelby County

A new group of Tea Party and Campaign for Liberty folks are trying to amend the Shelby County Charter. They are trying to make annexation much more difficult and give citizens more direct control over the process.

News Coverage Here.

China to filter "unhealthy or illegal" text messages

Unhealthy to the Chinese citizen caught sending "unhealthy" messages.

China Mobile said on its website that the automatic rating is based on "key words" provided by police. And the standard for determining whether a message is unhealthy or not is based on 13 criteria handed down by nine central government departments. No details of the criteria were given.

When a suspected unhealthy message is detected, China Mobile will temporarily suspend the message function of the user and wait for the evaluation from police authorities, it said.

Govt Union Workers who simply won't work in Memphis/Nashville


In Memphis Unionized Sanitation workers have an inclement weather clause and they won't show up if its cold outside.


In Nashville Unionized Bus Drivers say that firing them after eight unexcused absences is too restrictive.

Students refuse to reveal racial identity

Wow!! This is encouraging.

Link HT: Newsalert
SACRAMENTO — About half of the 37 students in teacher Jeanne Kirchofer's Laguna Creek High School classroom, who span nearly every combination of race and ethnicity, have joined the growing number of California studentsn who decline to state a race on official forms and tests.

"We shouldn't be judged by our race," said senior Jessica Mae Belcher, 17, whose roots are African and Cherokee. She prefers "none of the above" because "we're all different, but we're all the same, too."

She likes sharing her classmates' unique American journeys from Mexico, China, Japan, Laos, India, Vietnam, Italy and the Philippines.

"I'm not saying we're going to forget where we came from, but we can all see similarities from different hardships," Belcher said. By eliminating racial categories – and racial consciousness – "we can make racial hatred go away," she said.

Plain talk from New Va Gov: I will veto any tax hike

“Some say taxes must be raised, it’s unavoidable. Here’s what I say. I will work with you — Democrats, Republicans and independents. We will meet and negotiate; there will be disagreements, and there will be compromises,” he said.

But if a bill passes with a tax increase, “I will veto it,” he said. “And if you pass a budget embedded with those same tax increases, I will not approve it.”

Monday, January 18, 2010

Illinois is bankrupt

"I would describe bankruptcy as the inability to pay one's bills," says Jim Nowlan, senior fellow at the University of Illinois' Institute of Government and Public Affairs. "We're close to de facto bankruptcy, if not de jure bankruptcy."

Legal experts say the protections of the federal bankruptcy code are available to cities and counties but not states.

While Illinois doesn't have the option of shutting its doors or shedding debts in a bankruptcy reorganization, it seems powerless to avert the practical equivalent. Despite a budget shortfall estimated to be as high as $5.7 billion, state officials haven't shown the political will to either raise taxes or cut spending sufficiently to close the gap.

TnTaxRevolt offers to assist in Recall of Metro Nashville Council Members


Tennessee Tax Revolt, Inc.

For Immediate Release Contact: Ben Cunningham

Monday, January 18, 2010 Phone: 615-852-8298

Tennessee Tax Revolt, Inc. offers to assist Nashville Taxpayers in recalling Metro Council Members who vote to force taxpayers to Co-Sign the huge, new Convention Center Debt

Tennessee Tax Revolt, Inc., (TTR) an all-volunteer, non-profit, non-partisan, statewide taxpayer advocacy group, today offered to help Davidson County Taxpayers recall Council Members who vote in favor of the Convention Center project and the huge, new, associated debt.

“The Members of the Metro Council have no right to put the family budgets of Nashville Taxpayers at risk by forcing them to co-sign this huge, new debt. The economy is in recession and family budgets of Nashville taxpayers are more fragile and vulnerable than anytime in recent memory.” said Ben Cunningham, spokesman for Tennessee Tax Revolt, Inc.

“The recall process is very straight forward and easy to follow for a small group of motivated taxpayers.” said Cunningham. “Approximately 1,000 signatures are required to initiate a recall in a Council district and these signatures can be gathered by direct mail or door to door canvassing.”

“The recall process was used successfully in 2009 for the first time to recall a member of the Nashville Metro Council and we are happy to work with taxpaying citizens who believe their representative on the Metro Council will betray the will of the people by voting for this huge, new debt.” said Cunningham.

“Tennessee Tax Revolt is proud of our six year record of assisting the citizens of Tennessee in petitioning for wheel tax reductions, sales tax reductions, home rule, charter amendments, and other ballot items. TTR was especially proud to be a part of the petition drive that resulted in the 2006 Charter Amendment which now requires voter approval of property tax rate increases in Davidson County.”

A recent independent poll by WSMV TV and an earlier poll by the Nashville City Paper both showed very strong opposition to the Convention Center project by citizens of Nashville-Davidson County. In addition, a major debt rating agency has recently indicated the debt rating of Nashville will suffer if the huge, new debt is approved. A debt downgrade will cost taxpayers even more by increasing the interest expense of this huge, new debt. The property tax rate in Davidson County is already significantly higher than surrounding counties and will almost certainly increase next year back up to the limit allowed by the recently passed charter amendment.

“Nashville-Davidson County Taxpayers deserve a loud and clear voice in the Metro Council and if the recall process is the only way for the voices of taxpayers to be heard then we are happy to be part of that process.” said Cunningham. “Nashville Citizens may contact us by calling 615-852-8298 or by emailing”

A sample recall petition is attached.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Hugo Chavez channels his inner Obama

Are Hugo and Barack comparing notes?

CARACAS -- President Hugo Chavez ordered Sunday the seizure of a French-owned retail chain on accusations that it raised prices after Venezuela devalued the currency by half.

"Until when are we going to allow this to happen?" Mr. Chavez asked during his Sunday television program in reference to the alleged price increase by Almacenes Exito, headquartered in Colombia and controlled by French retailer Casino Guichard-Perrachon S.A.

The Venezuelan leader said that a new law could be needed to carry out the nationalization. "I'm waiting for the new law to begin the expropriation process," he said. "There's no going back," he added.

Almacenes Exito saw some of its stores closed this week by government authorities on accusations that it was increasing prices regardless of Mr. Chavez's threats to retailers to freeze prices after he devalued the currency to 4.3 bolivars per dollar from the previous rate of 2.15 bolivars.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Obama's complete disconnect: good analysis by Peggy Noonan

We're at the first anniversary of the inauguration of President Barack Obama, and the slug, the word that captures its essence, is "Disconnect."

This is, still, a surprising word to use about the canny operatives who so perfectly judged the public mood in 2008. But they haven't connected since.


The real story is that his rhetorical and iconic detachment are harped on because they reflect a deeper disconnect, the truly problematic one, and that is over policy. It doesn't really matter how he sounds. It matters, in a time of crisis, what he does. That's where the lack of connection comes in.

The people are here, and he is there. The popularity of his health-care plan is very low, at 35% support. Someone on television the other day noted it is as low as George Bush's popularity ratings in 2008.