I believe the part about increasing taxes by Obama. I will be interested to see how Obama keeps his other promises

The Washington Post has a discussion of Obama's plans to cut government spending and raise taxes here. Of course, Obama promised to increase defense expenditures so it will be interesting to see what he actually does to cut spending.

To get there, Obama proposes to cut spending and raise taxes. The savings would come primarily from "winding down the war" in Iraq, a senior administration official said. The budget assumes that the nation will continue to spend money on "overseas military contingency operations" throughout Obama's presidency, the official said, but that number is significantly lower than the nearly $190 billion the nation budgeted for Iraq and Afghanistan last year.

Obama also seeks to increase tax collections, primarily by making good on his promise to eliminate the temporary tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 for wealthy taxpayers, whom Obama defined during the campaign as those earning more than $250,000 a year. Those tax breaks would be permitted to expire on schedule for the 2011 tax year, when the top tax rate would rise from 35 percent to more than 39 percent.

Obama also proposes to maintain the tax on estates worth more than $3.5 million, instead of letting it expire next year. And he proposes "a fairly aggressive effort on tax enforcement" that would target tax havens and corporate loopholes, among other provisions, the official said.

Overall, tax collections under the plan would rise from about 16 percent of the economy this year to 19 percent in 2013, while federal spending would drop from about 26 percent of the economy, another post-war high, to 22 percent.

Republicans, who are already painting Obama as a profligate spender, are laying plans to attack him on taxes as well. Even some non-partisan observers question the wisdom of announcing a plan to raise taxes in the midst of a recession. But senior White House adviser David Axelrod said in an interview that the tax proposals reflect the ideas that won the election last fall. . . .


Legal test case on gun free zones for Oregon Universities

The Oregonian has this story from yesterday:

Oregon universities' gun ban faces legal test
by Suzanne Pardington, The Oregonian
Friday February 20, 2009, 8:32 PM

LEBANON -- Jeffrey Maxwell, a 30-year-old student at Western Oregon University who served in the Marines, always carries a loaded two-bullet derringer in his front pocket that's so small it looks like it could be his keys.

He has a license to carry and conceal the gun, but he never takes it out or talks about it on campus because he doesn't want to scare anyone. It's only for protection, he says.

State law allows him to carry his gun in most public places. But the university says he can't carry it on campus -- license or no license. Maxwell's case might finally settle the long-standing conflict in court for all seven public universities in Oregon.

"We have an honest guy that served his country, and now he's being treated in a way that's totally unconscionable," said Kevin Starrett, executive director of the Oregon Firearms Federation. "It's a situation we've been hoping to resolve for a long time."

Maxwell's gun rekindled the legal and legislative debate over guns on campus after campus safety officers received reports of a suspicious man with a large knife on campus one morning in late January. . . . .

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Bobby Jindal rejects money from stimulus for Lousiana

Apparently, the stimulus package would likely lead to an increase in state business taxes. The Washington Times has the story here.

Louisiana's Bobby Jindal, a Republican, became the first governor Friday to refuse officially a part of his state's share of the $787 billion stimulus bill, while President Obama warned the nation´s mayors to spend stimulus money wisely.

While some governors were subtly backing off previous statements that they wouldn't take their share of the windfall, Mr. Jindal issued a statement saying Louisiana would not participate in a program aimed at expanding state unemployment insurance coverage.

"Increasing taxes on our Louisiana businesses is certainly not a way to stimulate our economy. It would be the exact wrong thing we could do to encourage further growth and job creation," said Mr. Jindal, although the Louisiana legislature could override his decision.

He said accepting the money would have required a change in state law and, after federal money runs out in three years, would have led to a $12 million increase in taxes on his state's businesses to keep funding the benefit. He also warned other states against the program.

"I strongly suggest that other states also look closely at this provision in the bill so they can also avoid ultimately passing on a significant tax to businesses that will be left paying for this expansion of benefits when the federal money dries up," he said. . . . .



Some support for concealed carry in Illinois

The House Agriculture (a strange choice) passed out a concealed carry bill.

A panel dominated by downstate lawmakers has again recommended the General Assembly give Illinois residents the right to carry concealed weapons.

For at least the fourth time in recent years, the House agriculture committee’s endorsement of the controversial idea likely will run headlong this spring into serious opposition from Chicago-area lawmakers who oppose the concept.

“There are obviously big philosophical issues over this,” said state Rep. John Bradley, a Marion Democrat who is pushing one of the two concealed carry proposals approved by the committee Wednesday.

Illinois and Wisconsin are the only states that do not offer residents the opportunity to carry concealed weapons if they undergo training.

The issue has never gained traction in the Legislature because of concerns by Chicago-area lawmakers about increased handgun violence.

Opponents say allowing more people to have weapons could lead to more shootings in the state’s largest city.

“When you increase access, you increase risk,” said Chris Boyster, spokesman for the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence. “You’re going to provide a false sense of security.”
. . .

And the evidence for this last point is what? Permit holders are extremely law-abiding. They lose their permits for any gun related violation at hundredths or thousandths of one percent.


$1 million insurance policy for owning a gun?

Will Illinois soon have a $1 million insurance policy to be able to own a gun? Glenn Beck has the discussion here.

Thanks to Al Troglio for this link.


New Fox News Op-ed: Obama’s Car Cash Plan

My new piece up at Fox News starts this way:

Would you lend $1.66 million dollars on a house that was worth $100,000? You wouldn’t even take the idea seriously. Bankers would laugh at someone asking for such a loan, and they should.

To make the example even more ridiculous, suppose that the home owner had a negative income – a negative income of $2.3 million last year. That the home owner is expected to loose a lot more money over the next couple of years, and that even if things work perfectly, he might simply stop losing money after 2011. That he lived in a bad neighborhood where almost all his neighbors were in similar in shape.

Even if you had already lent $1.3 million, you would run away from this borrower and simply chalk up the $1.3 million to some temporary insanity. . . . .

Interestingly, even Sweden's government is rejecting bailout money for Saab.

General Motors Corp's (GM.N) European brands are near collapse, with Germany's Opel in need of more state funding and the Swedish government rejecting Saab's plea for state aid until its business plan was sound.

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Why Roland Burris is unlikely to be removed from office

One might think that things look bleak for Senator Burris, but not so says John Fund at the WSJ's Political Diary.

Mr. Burris is under relentless fire from the media too, with the Springfield Journal-Register reporting that he apparently did not disclose all of his lobbying work for horse racing interests to state lawmakers.

But the embattled Mr. Burris has two trump cards. Senators are notoriously reluctant to expel a member, especially the chamber's only African-American. Such a move requires a two-thirds vote. In addition, Democrats need Mr. Burris's vote, as demonstrated by their agonizing pursuit of the 60-vote filibuster-proof majority needed to pass last week's stimulus bill.

Lastly, should Mr. Burris resign, there would be enormous pressure to hold a special election, which Democrats could well lose. Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky, a likely candidate for any vacancy, is calling on Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn to require a special election to fill the seat should it become vacant. Governor Quinn is on record as supporting such a move, and would be embarrassed if he reneged on that commitment. . . .

If John Fund is right, this might be a win-win for a lot of Democrats. They can could out against Burris, and not have to worry about the Dems losing the seat. Governor Pat Quinn made this statement.

Gov. Pat Quinn this morning called on his good friend Roland Burris to resign his U.S Senate seat.

"There's just too much of a cloud of controversy over the appointment process," Quinn said.

Quinn said he supports a bill to fill U.S. Senate vacancies with a temporary appointee by the governor and special primary and special general election within 115 days.

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Florida is way behind in issuing concealed handgun permits

This is a big increase in the percent of people with permits.

Florida can't keep up with concealed weapon permit requests
The state greenlighted funds to hire 61 workers to tackle a backlog of concealed-weapons permit applications.

TALLAHASSEE -- Floridians in record numbers want to carry concealed weapons, a trend linked to a surge in crime, economic anxiety and fears of stricter gun laws.

The state is buried under a backlog of 95,000 applications for concealed-weapons permits and it needs to hire a lot more people to handle the paperwork. A legislative panel Wednesday gave Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson the OK to spend $3.9 million more so he can hire 61 temporary workers.

''Once the economy gets bad, crime always goes up,'' said Bronson, a police officer. ``People get desperate whenever things are not going the way they feel like they should be going, and they'll do things they normally wouldn't do.''

The state reported a surge in applications in November after the election of President Barack Obama, who in the past has advocated stricter gun control laws but who also campaigned as a defender of Second Amendment rights. Florida received 75,679 first-time concealed-weapon permit applications in 2007 and 86,269 in 2008, in addition to tens of thousands of renewal forms. About 541,000 Floridians have permits for concealed weapons. . . .


Self defense in Australia

From the Australia Associated Press:

Elderly man shoots burglar at winery in Perth's Hearne Hill - police
AAPFebruary 19, 2009 10:37am
AN elderly man shot one of two intruders at his Perth winery after they broke down his bedroom door and backed him into a corner, police say. Sergeant Greg Lambert said the 77-year-old owner of a small winery, in Herne Hill, in Perth's east, heard someone forcibly enter his home about 9.40pm (WDT) yesterday.

"He is at home with his totally incapacitated wife, he has heard noises in the house and has heard two men use extreme force to break into his home through the rear security door and sliding door," Sgt Lambert told ABC Radio.

"He was in his bedroom, he has armed himself with his licensed shotgun and he's locked himself in his bedroom with his wife."

The man warned the two men not to enter his room.

"They have broken down his bedroom door and confronted the man," Sgt Lambert said.

"A struggle has happened during which one round was discharged from the shotgun, it's struck one of the intruders on the left abdomen.

"The elderly gentlemen lost the firearm during the struggle, one of the offenders has struck him to the head and forearm.

"It appears he's been pushed into a corner in his bedroom and the offenders haven't taken heed or warning and kept on pursuing him for some reason."

The intruders ran from the house discharging the weapon as they left, Sgt Lambert said.

About 20 minutes later a 34-year-old man with a gunshot wound to the abdomen arrived at Swan Districts Hospital. He was taken to Royal Perth Hospital for surgery and is under police guard.

The 77-year-old man is in hospital, where he is being treated for a broken arm and bruising and cuts to his head, as well as possible concussion. . . .

Thanks to CM Ross for sending me this link.



GM is worth only $1 Billion and they want a $16.6 billion loan on top of the $13 billion that they already have been given?

Here is the request for more money.


"Senate Ethics may investigate Burris"

"May" investigate? I wonder whether the Democrats in the Senate have a bit of a tin ear on all this. On the other hand, having someone promise to help raise money for another candidate just seems like normal politics.

"Whenever allegations of improper conduct are brought to the attention of the Senate Ethics Committee, we open a preliminary inquiry," said Natalie Ravitz, spokeswoman for Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the panel.

After saying he never raised funds for Blagojevich, Burris admitted to reporters Monday night that he did in fact try to raise funds after a solicitation request was made by the former governor's brother, Rob. And while Burris contends he failed to disclose the extent of his contacts with Blagojevich because he simply wasn’t asked about them, a review of transcripts shows Burris repeatedly dodged questions when the issue was raised by a second state legislator when he testified under oath. . . . .

The San Francisco Chronicle has this:

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Wednesday that he's not calling for embattled Sen. Roland Burris to resign even though the account of how Burris was appointed by ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich "seems to be changing day by day." . . .

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Appearing on the Lars Larson Show at 6:20 PM EDT

I will be on Lars' show at 6:20 PM to talk about the "stimulus" bill.

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"Should We Nationalize U.S. Banks?"

The transcript and video of my interview with Glenn Beck are available here.

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Government lead regulations putting whole product lines out of business

How many kids put dirt bike parts in their mouths? From the AP:

HELENA, Mont. — A new national limit on lead in children's products — which has toy makers scrambling for new testing methods and retailers for storage space for inventory they're not sure they can sell — also is forcing motorcycle dealers to pull dirt bikes off showroom floors.

It became illegal Tuesday to sell off-road machines geared for children younger than 12 because parts in them contain lead at levels greater than 600 parts per million. Most motor vehicles have such parts.

"I think they took this law a little too far," said Margie Hicklin-Krsul, the owner of Redline Sports, a sports bike dealership in Butte. "I've never had anyone come in and say, 'My child keeps putting parts of his motorcycle into his mouth.' "

About 100,000 of the bikes — popular for trails, zipping around backyards and racing on motocross tracks — sold last year for $1,500 or more, according to industry estimates. The ban, not yet permanent, is a blow to motocross racers of any age who want a small bike and now won't be able to get new equipment or repair what they have.

Dealerships — where sales already were sputtering because of the recession — received notices over the last month that they must pull the bikes off showroom floors. Industry leaders say some 13,000 dealers are now stuck with $100 million worth of inventory that may end up worthless.

Congress tightened lead limits on children's products last summer after a series of discoveries of dangerous lead levels in toys, and the rules took partial effect last week when a judge nixed a 12-month reprieve while the Consumer Products Safety Commission finalizes them. . . . .

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NJ and Va gubernatorial election polls

The WSJ's Political Diary has this today:

New polling suggests that New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine faces a difficult challenge for re-election this year. A Monmouth University poll released last week shows that just 34% of Garden State voters approve of the job Mr. Corzine is doing, compared to 51% who disapprove. Another recent survey shows that Republican Chris Christie, who as the state's hard-charging U.S. attorney has pursued a number of high-profile corruption cases, is leading the Democrat 44% to 38%.

In Virginia, the only other state holding a gubernatorial election this year, Democrats face an uphill battle against former state Attorney General Bob McDonnell. A Rasmussen survey conducted on Feb. 4 had Mr. McDonnell leading each of his three potential rivals, state Sen. Creigh Deeds, former state Delegate Brian Moran and former DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe. None is as well known statewide as Mr. McDonnell, who will watch from the sidelines until the Democratic primary on June 9. . . .


Now No-kissing Zones?

From the UK Telegraph:

Kissing banned at railway station: No-kissing signs have appeared in the taxi rank at Warrington Bank Quay Station forcing lovers to use designated areas only. Photo: MANCHESTER EVENNG NEWS SYNDICATION
The means an end to passionate platform scenes like the one between Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard in the 1945 film Brief Encounter.
No-kissing signs have appeared in the taxi rank at Warrington Bank Quay Station forcing lovers to use designated areas only.
The signs were erected after concerns that passionate embraces were causing delays for commuters with more passengers being attracted there.
Warrington Bank Quay is believed to be the first in the country to put up such signs.
Ruth Sargeant, 38, who uses the station to travel to Manchester, said: "It's ridiculous. I don't see the point of having a no-kissing area, surely people are entitled to say their goodbyes."
And Tom Hall, 25, another commuter, said: "It's daft. What are they going to do if they catch couples kissing, fine them?"


James Hansen going even further off the deep end

NASA scientist James Hansen has gotten even more extreme. These are his recent fairly strange claims of disaster in the UK Guardian:

A year ago, I wrote to Gordon Brown asking him to place a moratorium on new coal-fired power plants in Britain. I have asked the same of Angela Merkel, Barack Obama, Kevin Rudd and other leaders. The reason is this - coal is the single greatest threat to civilisation and all life on our planet.

The climate is nearing tipping points. Changes are beginning to appear and there is a potential for explosive changes, effects that would be irreversible, if we do not rapidly slow fossil-fuel emissions over the next few decades. As Arctic sea ice melts, the darker ocean absorbs more sunlight and speeds melting. As the tundra melts, methane, a strong greenhouse gas, is released, causing more warming. As species are exterminated by shifting climate zones, ecosystems can collapse, destroying more species.

The public, buffeted by weather fluctuations and economic turmoil, has little time to analyse decadal changes. How can people be expected to evaluate and filter out advice emanating from those pushing special interests? How can people distinguish between top-notch science and pseudo-science? . . .

Remember the statement by James Hansen's former NASA Supervisor here.

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Obama trying to pressure formation of new Israeli government?: Is that smart?

israelnationalnews.com has this interesting little tidbit. This doesn't seem to be the way to make friends in a foreign country.

According to sources in Washington, Obama is ready to manipulate Israeli politics behind the scenes in order to make that happen, as Israeli president Shimon Peres determines who he will ask to head up Israel's next government. . . .

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New Fox News Op-ed: Is It Worth $62,000 to You?

My new Fox News piece story is here:

The stimulus bill had to be passed quickly. President Obama warned that not passing it would result in disaster. He warned that any delay was “inexcusable.” The 1,071 page stimulus bill had to be voted on quickly -- so quickly this last week that the House and the Senate couldn’t even provide politicians the 48 hours they were supposed to have to read it.

The legislation was not put up on the web until 11 PM on Thursday evening, and the House passed it just 12 hours later. The Senate started voting on it only hours after that. Politician after politician admitted or complained that it was physically impossible to read the bill. As it was, the copies available on the web for voters had all sorts of hand markings on it that sometimes made it difficult to figure out exactly what the bill proposed.

Despite all this pressure, Obama seems rather laid back after the bill was passed – he doesn’t plan the signing ceremony until Tuesday. As the New York Post noted, after passage, Obama “promptly took off for a three-day holiday getaway.” Possibly, Obama’s vacation was well deserved, but why couldn’t Congress have held debate and votes over the weekend or Monday and to allow some time to read the bill? . . . .

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Not a lot of economists have come out in favor of the Stimulus Plan

Eric Rasmusen has taken the time to put together a list of economists for and against the so-called "stimulus" plan, and it doesn't look very good for those in favor of the bill.


Appearing on Fox News' Glenn Beck Show some time between 5 and 6 PM EST

Obama using teleprompter at press conferences: Where are the comedy routines?

Could you imagine if Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush had used a teleprompter to answer questions during a press conference? The late night joke writers wouldn't let this go until the president gave in to the merciless ridicule that he would face. The president would be painted as an idiot who couldn't tie his shoes without being feed instructions on how to do it.

While people who watched Obama's first national press conference noticed Obama's use of a teleprompter to give his initial presentation as well as in answering questions, the media and late night joke writers have completely ignored it. The American Spectator notes in many events: "down to many of the questions and the answers to those questions. Teleprompter screens at the events scrolled not only his opening remarks, but also statistics and information he could use to answer questions." Apparently, Obama is looking into installing a computer screen into the podium so that according to one Obama advisor: "It would make it easier for the comms guys to pass along information without being obvious about it." Obama's aids would put together answers to a large number of possible questions so as soon as a reporter asks a particular question the computer screen would flash talking points to remind Obama how he is supposed to respond to that question.

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First guns, now knives

The BBC has an article on "eBay bans trade in knives in UK":

EBay has said it intends to ban trade in all knives, apart from cutlery knives, on its UK and Ireland websites.
The ban will be implemented "as soon as possible" in order to provide a "safe" marketplace for its members, it said.
EBay said the ban was the best measure, bearing in mind the "complex" laws surrounding knife sales in the UK.
The move comes after BBC Watchdog researchers revealed they had been able to buy knives illegal in the UK through the public auction site.
All six knives purchased by Watchdog were sold by US sellers through eBay's site in the UK.
One of the knives was intercepted by Customs officials. . . . .

I love the reference to the "complex" knife laws in the UK.

Thanks to Gus Cotey for sending this link.

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MN Judges make decisions on Absentee ballots in Senate race

The Star Tribune has this:

On its face, the ruling looked to be a victory for DFLer Al Franken, whose lawyers had urged the judges to turn down 17 of the 19 categories and said Friday that they had very nearly done it.

"We are obviously very pleased with the court's decision ... there's a large chunk of ballots that have now been taken out of play," said Franken lawyer Marc Elias.

But Coleman's attorneys saw it differently, saying that the ruling leaves untouched about 3,500 of the 4,800 rejected absentee ballots they want the court to open and count, enough to make it possible for Coleman to overcome Franken's 225-vote certified recount lead. . . .

Assume that 20 percent of the ballots go to the third party candidate. Coleman would have to pick up 54.1 percent of the remaining absentee ballots to overcome Franken's 225 vote lead.

UPDATE: I have posted on this before, but I should have made it clear here. These absentee ballots are from Republican counties. Absentee ballots tend to be even more Republican than overall voters in Republican counties.



GOP Leader Boehner on Democrats' $800 Billion-Dollar Spending Bill


The lessons of the Depression

Michael Barone has a useful discussion on the depression here:

"Not since the Great Depression." "Not since the 1930s." You hear those phrases a lot these days, and with some reason. As Congress prepares to pass the Democratic stimulus package, it may be worthwhile to look back at Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal and consider how well it worked as policy -- and politically. . . .

After eight years of the New Deal, unemployment remained at 15 percent in 1940 -- double the figure for today. What really got us out of the Depression was World War II. The total number of employed persons and military personnel increased from 44 million in 1938 to 65 million in 1944.

So it would be unwise to copy the New Deal as a recipe for economic recovery. And the policies that produced the wartime boom are not replicable today. We are not going to have rationing, wage and price controls, government spending nearly half the gross domestic product, 91 percent tax rates and a 12-million-man military (the equivalent today would be 27 million).

There has been general agreement, however, that Roosevelt's policies were politically successful. Most of us in the political commentary business make frequent use of the phrase "New Deal Democratic majority" and tend to believe that Roosevelt's policies worked for his party for a long generation extending into the 1960s. . . . .

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Perjury charges against Roland Burris?

The mess in Illinois politics continues:

State lawmakers are calling for a criminal investigation into whether U.S. Sen. Roland Burris committed perjury before a state impeachment panel, in the wake of a Sun-Times exclusive story published online today.

The development comes after the Chicago Democrat failed to initially disclose under oath to a House panel that he was hit up for campaign cash by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's brother.

State Rep. James Durkin (R-Western Springs) said Saturday that the Sangamon County state prosecutor‚s office will be asked to review Burris‚ Jan. 8 sworn testimony before the House panel to determine whether Burris (D-Ill.) perjured himself.

"I don't trust anything that comes out of Roland Burris‚ mouth or from his pen," Durkin said.

"We had a major league situation facing us. This is a United States senate seat that came under the most clouded of circumstances," Durkin said. "This is supposed to be about the year of reform this is about ethics and about transparency."

Durkin questioned why he found out about the additional testimony Friday night from the Sun-Times.

"Why were we kept out of the loop? Why were we kept out of the latest filing of Roland Burris?"

Word that Burris' account of his appointment has changed yet again came as a surprise to some of his colleagues in the Senate, who were not aware of the affidavit's filing until learning of it from press accounts. It was unclear what response might be triggered by Burris' revisions.

An aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who initially sought to block Burris from being seated, said the Senate leader intended to take a closer look at Burris' new affidavit. But Reid's office declined to say whether the new revelations would reopen the question of whether Burris should be Illinois' junior senator. . . . .

Now this: "Illinois GOP leader calls on Sen. Burris to resign."