A sign of the times: Reporters using iPhones to record interviews

This picture is from the allegation of rape story involving Julian Assange. The UK Guardian has this of substance:

The process of taking a rape allegation to court is notoriously hard for the victim. When the accused assailant is a high-profile campaigner with thousands of active and vocal supporters, it becomes acutely fraught.

Claes Borgström, the lawyer for the two women whose complaints of sexual assault triggered Julian Assange's arrest, said his clients had been assaulted twice: first physically, before being "sacrificed" to a malevolent online attack. The women were having "a very tough time", he said.

A wealth of hostile material attacking the two women has appeared on the internet since August, when they took their complaints to the police. Their right to anonymity has been abandoned online, where enraged bloggers have uploaded dossiers of personal photographs, raked through their CVs and tweets, and accused them of orchestrating a CIA-inspired honeytrap operation. These online rumours were a convenient way for Assange to divert suspicion from the actual allegations, the women's lawyer said. . . . .

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Motorist defends himself against armed attackers

From Lake Mary, Florida:

A 19-year-old man firing a semiautomatic pistol at a boxed-in motorist near Lake Mary was shot dead by the man he was attacking early Saturday, Seminole County deputies said.

The motorist, whose name was not released Saturday, was heading home about 2:15 a.m. near Old Lake Mary Road and Egrets Landing when, he told deputies, he saw two cars following him. Sheriff's Lt. James Clark said the driver tried to turn around, but was boxed in by the two vehicles.

At that point, Clark said, a man got out of one of the cars and began firing a semiautomatic pistol at the motorist. The man had a gun and returned fire, Clark said.

His gunfire struck the attacker, identified as Desmond Willis, 19. Soon after the gunfire, the two cars sped off, taking Willis with them, Clark said. . . .

Thanks to Gordon Threlkeld for the link.

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Jewelry Store Owner Kills Robbers in Shootout

From the Houston Chronicle:

In the back room of a humble jewelry store and pawn shop in Houston's East End Thursday afternoon, a gunman tied Eva Castillo's wrists tightly — too tightly. She complained of the pain, so he loosened the bindings. Then Castillo's husband was ordered at gunpoint to put his hands behind his back.
But Ramon Castillo had a surprise for the gunman and two cohorts, who had announced they were robbing the business.
Castillo pulled a pistol from his waistband and shot the gunman dead. Then he grabbed a shotgun from his office and engaged in a shootout with the other two armed robbers.
When it was over, all three robbers were dead — and Castillo, though shot at least three times, was still standing, having successfully defended what was rightfully his.
Houston Police have identified two of the three robbers killed during a shootout with a jewelry store owner yesterday as Nelson Wilfredo Tambora-Ramiro, 21, and Onilton Bolanos Castillano, 38.
HPD spokesman Kese Smith said the two men had Honduran identification on them. He said their immigration status is uncertain.
The third robber’s identity is pending from the Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office.
It was the third time his shop, Castillo's Jewelry at 4502 Canal at Super Street, had been robbed since it opened 22 years ago, East End residents said. . . . .

East End residents smiled proudly when they learned how Castillo had taken charge and protected his wife of 28 years. It is the first time he has turned the tables on his attackers, they said.
"It's about time he did something," said Theresa Arellano, 49, a lifelong East End resident.
Neighbors described the Castillos as a hard-working couple who labor seven days a week and take care of customers who live in the neighborhood, selling jewelry at affordable prices and allowing people to pay small amounts y toward purchases in layaway.
They said Castillo protects his store like a fortress, using an electronic door to buzz customers in and out. Customers are locked inside the store until they leave. Numerous video cameras are inside. "He's done everything he can do to secure his business," Waters said. . . . .

Two other recent defensive gun use stories in the Houston area:

I am told that this occurred just down the street from the above attack and it obviously involves a concealed handgun permit.

Police were investigating Saturday after the owner of a grocery store shot two men who ambushed him outside his east Houston business.
Authorities said the owner of Shew Food Market near the corner of Canal and 76th was walking from the parking lot towards his store around 11:00 a.m. when two suspects ambushed him. The owner then opened fire, striking both suspects. One of the men died at the scene while the other was taken to the hospital in unknown condition. . . .

Another case is here.

One person was shot and another arrested Wednesday after two men robbed a pawn shop in northwest Houston.
The incident occurred at about 12:45 p.m. at the Sunbelt Jewelry and Loan shop at 3411 Ella, the Houston Police Department said.
After police received a report that someone sounded a holdup panic alarm, a caller informed them two men had robbed the shop and fled.
One of the employees at the shop was shot during the robbery and was taken to Ben Taub General Hospital. That person's medical condition was not known.
Police arrested at least one of the suspects. . . .

Thanks to Jeff Yager for all three links.

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Stimulus reasoning gone made

Liberals somehow think that Pelosi is intelligent. Just look at her statements on Haiti or Krugman's statements on 9/11.

After the quake, Nancy Pelosi said: “I think that this can be an opportunity for a real boom economy in Haiti.” Likewise, after 9/11, Paul Krugman wrote in the NYT that:
The terror attack … could even do some economic good … Now, all of a sudden, we need some new office buildings … rebuilding will generate at least some increase in business spending.

Destroying wealth to create wealth? Sarah Palin wouldn't make such a dumb statement. Palin's comments on the tax deal follow very closely to the points that I have raised in my piece at Fox News.

In a rare interview with ABC's "Good Morning America," former vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin on Friday criticized the $858 billion tax cut bill that passed through Congress early this morning, calling the legislation "a lousy deal" that "creates a temporary economy with even more uncertainty for businesses and it does increase taxes."

"I think it's a lousy deal and we can do better for the American people," Palin told GMA's Robin Roberts, in an interview in her Alaska home.

The "new Congress is seated the first week of January," Palin continued. "It is better to wait until they are seated and get a good deal for the American public than to accept what I think is a lousy deal, because it creates a temporary economy with even more uncertainty for businesses and it does increase taxes."

Palin also said she was "grateful" to President Obama, who brokered the tax deal with Republican leadership, for compromising on his position that tax cuts for America's highest earners should not be extended.

"This is one case where I'm really thankful that the president flip flopped," she said. "I would say that it is a flip flop in his position on taxes because he was so adamant about not allowing the tax cut extension to take place for job creators, and then all of a sudden one day he was fine with it." . . .

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DC leads nation in income growth

Guess that moving so much of the nation's money to DC did help someone? Pointing to private sector job growth is misleading as the private sector jobs are related to lobbying and consulting.

As incomes fell across America over the past decade, new census data show that one place registered a remarkable rise: the nation’s capital.

Washington, long a symbol of the country’s urban ills, is now among the national leaders in income growth. It ranks first among states with gains in median household income and third among the country’s 100 biggest cities, surpassed only by Atlanta, and Arlington, Va., an affluent enclave.

There are more people in the city with graduate degrees than with just a high school diploma, and its share of graduate degree holders increased faster than in any other major city. The number of households earning more than $100,000 grew four times faster than overall population in the same period.

Though the federal government has always been a stable source of jobs here, the data show that the private sector — including consultancies, contractors and lobbying and legal firms — created most of the new jobs. Workers who identified themselves as managers and professionals jumped by nearly a third over the decade. . . .

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ATF to Require Multiple Sales Reports for Long Guns

Combine this with the push by the Obama administration to nominate Andrew Traver, the Supreme Court nominees, and the ban on importing semi-automatic guns and I think that there should be some genuine concern.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is moving to require federally licensed firearms retailers to report multiple sales of modern sporting rifles beginning January 5, 2011. Specifically, the ATF requirement calls for firearms retailers to report multiple sales, or other dispositions, of two or more .22 caliber or larger semi-automatic rifles that are capable of accepting a detachable magazine and are purchased by the same individual within five consecutive business days. . . .

The National Shooting Sports Foundation opposes this reporting requirement because it further burdens America’s law-abiding firearms retailers with yet another onerous regulation that will do nothing to curb crime. Multiple sales reporting of long guns will actually make it more difficult for licensed retailers to help law enforcement as traffickers modify their illegal schemes to circumvent the reporting requirement, thereby driving traffickers further underground. This is not unlike how criminals maneuvered around one-gun-a-month laws in states like Virginia – which is still considered an “exporting source state” by anti-gun organizations like the MAIG despite its restrictions on the number of firearms law-abiding residents may purchase. . . .

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Democrat governors giving large amounts of money out to public sector unions as they are leaving office

With the federal stimulus money expiring, these were already going to be tight budget years for many states. This is a nice parting gift from Democrats who are leaving office.

Departing Democratic leaders in several states have tried to get new two-year contracts for state-employee unions approved before they leave office. The incoming Republicans have said the deals are too generous and would tie their hands as they craft budgets. . . .

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Push for UN "policing" the Internet

Countries such as Brazil, India, South Africa, China and Saudi Arabia like the idea of the UN policing the internet. Presumably a few other not so free countries need to be added to this list. The motives of at least some of these countries should give people pause. Particularly, the desire by certain countries to control the information that their citizens receive. In addition, whatever the original claimed motivation for the regulations, the regulations could easily change direction once the regulatory apparatus is put in place

Previously, when Hugo Chavez took broadcast licenses away from radio stations he would point out that they could still broadcast on the internet. Now where will they go?

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez defended plans for a law that would impose broadcast-type regulations on the Internet, saying Sunday that his government should protect citizens against online crimes.

Chavez's congressional allies are considering extending the "Social Responsibility Law" for broadcast media to the Internet, banning messages that "disrespect public authorities," "incite or promote hatred" or crimes, or are aimed at creating "anxiety" in the population.

Government opponents and press freedom groups have been critical of the plan, saying it is one of several measures being considered that could restrict freedoms in Venezuela.

"We aren't eliminating the Internet here ... nor censoring the Internet," Chavez said during his weekly television and radio program, "Hello, President." "What we're doing is protecting ourselves against crimes, cybercrimes, through a law." . . .

UPDATE: Now the regulation used against over the air broadcasters will be applied to the internet.

The National Assembly has approved a sweeping set of laws that impose penalties for spreading political dissent on the Internet, grant decree powers to President Hugo Chávez for 18 months and prevent legislators from breaking with his political movement. . . .

The extension of an existing broadcast law to include restrictions on Internet messages that “incite or promote disobedience of the current legal order” or “refuse the legitimately constituted authority” has elicited concerns from press freedom groups. The measure introduces fines and the suspension of services for Web sites deemed in violation.

Changes in the broadcast law also portend a showdown with Globovisión, a news network here that remains critical of the government. The government recently took a 20 percent stake in Globovisión, and the law may ease a further shift in control by requiring television station owners to be in Venezuela when reapplying for licenses. Globovisión’s owners recently went into exile in the United States. . . .

There are also the regulations that ban Venezulan groups from taking foreign donations.

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Palin's recent interview by Bill O'Reilly


Julian Assange of WikiLeaks apparently has a long history of stalking women

For the story on this see The UK Daily Mail here.


Reader's question: Don't tax bills have to start in the House?

People may have noticed that the tax compromise that just passed the House last night started in the Senate (or at least it appeared to start in the Senate) and they know that the Constitution requires that all tax law start in the House. Well, it turns out that the Senate merely added on all the new tax rules to a small tax bill that had previously passed the House. The so-called shell bill was the "Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2010." Obviously virtually none of the tax compromise passed by the Senate and the House has anything to do with airports, but it still provided a legal loophole to get things through. Democrats wanted the bill passed in the Senate first so that they could put pressure on the House where they faced much more difficulty in getting the changes through.

The original bill was only six pages (available here). Given how quickly all this was passed over the last couple of days, it isn't even possible to get the text of the final bill yet.

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US will now have the highest corporate tax rate in the World

So you are trying to decide where to locate your company. You face a 40% tax rate in the US or a 12.5% tax rate in Ireland. Would it matter to you? In addition, these taxes are just part of the story. The US has a very unfriendly corporate regulatory structure and criminal penalties compared to most countries.

From Investors' Business Daily;

Earlier this week, Japan quietly announced it was cutting its corporate tax rate by 5 percentage points next year. That will leave the U.S., where the average combined federal and state corporate rate is 40%, with the highest rate in the developed world (see chart). . . . .


News report of dramatic case of 11-year-old girl who defends home against three attackers

This case from albuquerque, NM involves an 11-year-old girl named Melissa Gutierrez.


Rush Limbaugh discusses my op-ed "A 'Recovery' Like No Other"

Rush discusses my recent op-ed entitled "A 'Recovery' Like No Other" this way:

RUSH: Once again, ladies and gentlemen, it's left to me, El Rushbo, for tough economic truth. Tough love, tough of economic truth. John Lott Jr.: "A 'Recovery' Like No Other." Now, this was posted as an editorial on Fox News if anybody wants to look for it. You can also go to John Lott's website where there's more discussion of this phenomenon of "temporary help service." Mr. Lott says, "This is the first entirely 'temporary help service' job recovery. Our current 'recovery' might be in its seventeenth month, but the few new private sector jobs have come from companies temporarily hiring staff on a contract basis. What were once jobs reserved for people hired to cover seasonal demand or permanent employees on sick leave have become the standard employment for many workers.

"Companies simply don't want the risk of hiring workers that they might soon have to get rid of." Now, that's the key, and I'm gonna 'splain why here in just a second. "Companies simply don't want the risk of hiring workers that they might soon have to get rid of. Since the recovery started in June 2009," supposedly; we'll just go with the flow here since this is his piece, "the total number of private sector jobs has increased by 203,000. But these weren't 'regular,' permanent jobs. Indeed, permanent private sector..." in the recovery. Are you listening? "[P]ermanent private sector jobs fell by 257,000. ... The explanation behind temporary job creation is pretty simple: uncertainty."

Uncertainty. "Companies don't want to make longer-term commitments if they don't know what the next couple of years will look like," and by the way, two more years of these tax rates, that's not gonna help somebody make a five-year business plan, which is what they do. "Companies don't want to make longer-term commitments if they don't know what the next couple of years will look like. New regulations are being imposed on companies, be it health care, finance, the environment, and the other areas," as Obama's path of destruction widens and deepens. There you have it: Uncertainty. They have to stay in business. They are doing what they have to to stay in business. How about this recovery?

We got this big news here today: Fewer people applied for unemployment benefits, AP says! "Oh, goody goody goody!" Yeah, well, we've lost 257,000 private sector jobs since the recovery began. Many new jobs are temporary. Why hire somebody and have to let 'em go? What a mess that is. The market responds to realities. Temporary service agencies have sprung up because entrepreneurs have sensed this is how companies will fill their employment needs. It's not because anybody's evil. It's not because anybody is mean. They have to stay in business. They have to deal with the circumstances that are, and those are circumstances being dictated to and by a swath of destruction in the private sector unlike we've ever seen -- authored, instituted, implemented by Barack Obama.

Now, Mr. Lott, John Lott Jr., points out a truly bizarre phenomenon: "A 9.8 percent unemployment rate that is higher than when the recovery [supposedly] began," and a two-year extension of the Bush tax rates is not gonna change this. It won't give any company any sense of confidence. Why hire somebody for two years and have to pay 'em unemployment benefits for three? Obama's not doing anything anybody any favors here. As I say, if I'm a Republican in the Congress, and I hear Obama say, "My presidency hinges on this," I say, "Bye-bye!"

As a loyal Rush listener for many years, I have a membership at Rush 24/7 and get the pod casts. I assume that it is OK for me to provide the short segment that he did when he read my piece. The piece is available here as an .mov file.

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The end of Debit cards?

Here is a very easy prediction: there are going to be fewer debit cards, possibly a lot fewer cards. There seems to be so many substitutes. Not only do debit cards compete against each other, but credit cards are a substitute. There is also potential entry into the market. Discover (assuming that they don't already offer a debit card) could start to offer one. Other companies could directly offer a credit card themselves. Kmart and Kohl's have their own credit card and just like Sears went from having a Sears Card to Discover, they could do the same thing if there were all these extra profits to be had.

The new restrictions, most of which won't be made final until April 21, aim to cap the amount of money that debit-card issuers can charge merchants for so-called swipe fees. Banks would face a seven-to-12-cent-per-transaction cap on the interchange fees under either of the two proposals unveiled Thursday. That represents as much as an 84% drop from the current average of 44 cents. Analysts had been expecting a drop of up to 60%.

"Nobody expected it to be this draconian," said David Robertson, publisher of credit-card industry newsletter the Nilson Report. One bank executive said the cut was larger than the company's worst-case scenario. Banks, he said, will "push back."

Stocks of debit-card processors and banks that issue cards got hit. MasterCard Inc. plunged $25.73, or 10%, to $223.49. Visa Inc. tumbled $9.75, or 13%, to $67.19. . . .

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So how did gun control work in the recent Florida School Board Shooting

The Examiner has this discussion here:

In accordance with the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990, employees of the District, parents of students, and visitors (with the exception of law enforcement officers) shall not possess, discharge or attempt to discharge a weapon as described in School Board Policy 7.203 on any facilities or real or personal property owned by the School Board. An employee, parent or visitor in violation of this policy shall be referred to law enforcement for possible criminal prosecution. . . .

The guy was a “prohibited person,” forbidden by law to have a gun. . . .

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Obama does more to harass the wealthy and big business

Obama has the IRS go after them. Obama is also making life more difficult for private charities. Possibly he just wants the government to take care of people.

The tax agency increased the number of returns it audited by nearly 11 percent this year, statistics released Wednesday show. Wealthy taxpayers and big businesses were most likely to be targeted. The IRS also stepped up audits of charities and other tax-exempt organizations. . . .

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The new Florida governor is pushing hard for educational vouchers

The Florida Supreme Court is filled with leftwing liberals who want to protect the teacher unions, but hopefully Rick Scott can find a way around their past rulings.

Newly elected Florida Gov. Rick Scott is making waves with his proposal that all children should receive education vouchers they can use to attend private, public or charter schools.
"The parent should figure out where the dollars for that student are spent," the Republican governor-elect told the St. Petersburg Times. "So if the parents want to spend it on virtual school, then spend it on virtual school. If they want to spend it on, you know, whatever education system they believe in, whether it's this public school or that public school or this private school or that private school, that's what ought to happen." . . .
The details of the plan are still unclear, but the proposed voucher would most likely be for $5,500, the average state per-pupil contribution to public school students. The state would deposit that sum into each individual child's "education savings account" (theoretically every Florida child would have one) instead of into school districts' coffers. (The state currently doles out vouchers for some low-income and disabled students, a program that has not been challenged in court.) . . .

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Remember Bill Clinton's tears? Why does the media treat Boehner so differently?

Clinton pretty clearly switches from laughing to crying as soon as he sees that a camera is filming him.

The clip above is from Ron Brown's funeral, where Clinton famous went from laughing to crying instantly as soon as he saw that a TV camera had spotted him. Anyway, Ruben Navarrette has this at CNN:

Still, I wasn't expecting to see some of those on the left, who usually say how great it is that some men can display their sensitive side and show their emotions (see: Phil Donahue), ridicule House Speaker-elect John Boehner for doing that very thing.
If I didn't know better, I might think it had a tad to do with the fact that Boehner is a Republican. But that would mean that liberals maintain two codes of behavior -- one for those on the left, and one for those on the right.
Liberal media commentators -- most notably, some of the women on ABC's "The View" -- have attacked and ridiculed Boehner for repeatedly crying in public, whether on the floor of Congress or during media interviews such as the one Boehner recently did with Lesley Stahl on CBS' "60 Minutes."
"View" co-host Joy Behar childishly dubbed Boehner the "Weeper of the House." The show's matriarch, Barbara Walters, played therapist and diagnosed Boehner as being afflicted with "an emotional problem."
. . . Most Americans have good memories, and so they'll recall when liberals used to insist that a politician showing emotion was a mighty good thing. Let's return to 1992, when Bill Clinton burst onto the national stage, bit his lip and started blubbering up a storm. Those on the left thought this sort of thing was grand, and they compared it favorably with the man whom Clinton defeated: George H.W. Bush, who was much more stoic and often said that he was raised not to show his emotions in public.
Apparently, Clinton was raised differently. In fact, both in office and since leaving office, Clinton has done so much crying in public that it's part of his persona. Clinton cried at the church service after the Oklahoma City bombing. He cried at the funeral for Commerce Secretary Ron Brown. He cried in appearances after the Monica Lewinsky affair came to light. As a former president, he cried when his wife, Hillary, spoke at the 2008 Democratic National Convention after she had lost the party's nomination to Barack Obama.
The question isn't whether Bill Clinton can turn on the waterworks but whether he can turn them off. Just a few months ago, there were stories about Clinton vowing not to cry when he walked daughter Chelsea down the aisle at her wedding. And, when that day came, did Clinton let the tears flow? Of course, he did. . . .

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New Fox News piece: Class Warfare May Make Good Politics But Is It Fair to the American Taxpayer?

My newest piece starts this way:

With the Senate passing the new tax bill today and the House soon to follow, many liberals are up in arms about not increasing the income tax rates for higher income individuals. According to Democrats, these are the wealthy... the rich... the millionaires and billionaires. And it is only fair that people who earn more should pay more in taxes, right?
The call for increasing tax rates on the highest income individuals is repeated over and over. "I think the people that benefit most should pay most. That's always been my position -- not for class warfare reasons; for reasons of fairness in rebuilding the middle class in America," former President Clinton told the White House press corps last Friday.
Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont called it "a moral outrage" that income tax rates weren't being raised on individuals making more than $200,000 per year. Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined Sanders in his filibuster last week.
President Obama has spent the last couple of years attacking those who oppose raising taxes on higher income individuals, and he has continued the attacks this week. "Now I think that [not increasing taxes on the rich] is a mistake," Obama told Channel 9 News in Denver. And he continually promises to increase those taxes in two years when the tax agreement ends.
Obviously the current tax rates as well as any changes being discussed by either Democrats or Republicans ensure that higher income individuals pay much more in taxes. Much of the confusion seems to arise simply from people not understanding what percentages really mean. . . .

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Apparently it is easy to fool the new TSA scanners

With all the controversy surrounding these scanners, this was needed.

The Transportation Security Administration's X-ray backscatter scanners have been the center of a widespread controversy, following concerns from privacy advocates that they take nearly naked photos of people. The trade-off is improved security, of course. Yet Leon Kaufman and Joseph W. Carlson, two physics professors at the University of California, San Francisco offer a stark conclusion: They can be easily duped, according to a recent paper published in the Journal of Transportation Security.
"It is very likely that a large (15–20 cm in diameter), irregularly-shaped, cm-thick pancake with beveled edges, taped to the abdomen, would be invisible to this technology -- ironically because of its large volume, since it is easily confused with normal anatomy," the researchers said in the paper. Kaufman and Carlson conclude that some types of foreign objects can be reliable detected only if they are packed outside the sides of the body, and some well hidden items would be impossible to see even with the scanner.
"It is also easy to see that an object such as a wire or a box-cutter blade, taped to the side of the body, or even a small gun in the same location, will be invisible," the paper notes. . . .

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Is the tax system fair?

Last Friday, former President Clinton said: "I think the people that benefit most should pay most. That's always been my position -- not for class warfare reasons; for reasons of fairness in rebuilding the middle class in America."

Readers can see for themselves how much more taxes higher income individuals pay using TurboTax here. Suppose that you have two married couples with two children and no other deductions. The only difference between these two couples is that one makes $60,000 per year and the other makes five times more, $300,000. Should people who earn 5 times more money pay 5 times more taxes? How about 49 times more in taxes?

How about going from $100,000 to $300,000, a three fold increase in income? Increasing income 3 times, increases the tax burden by 9 times (going from $8,069 to $71,134).

Even lower income earners actually get money back from the government. At $40,000, the couple will get $2,500 net back from the government, and this increases for lower income earners. Even at $50,000 the couple would get some money back.



Some numbers on US National Debt

Seeking Alpha has the numbers and the data sources available here. If it were me, I would have liked to see one graph that showed Debt per capita in dollars, not a logarithmic scale.


Medicaid withholding treatment to patients

As the government greatly expands, it can't do a good job honoring the promises that it has already made. Of course, Medicaid costs are also exploding at the same time. Given the initial promises for what Medicaid would cost, this doesn't bode well for what will happen under Obamacare.

In Illinois, a pharmacist closes his business because of late Medicaid payments. In Arizona, a young father's liver transplant is canceled because Medicaid suddenly won't pay for it. In California, dentists pull teeth that could be saved because Medicaid doesn't pay for root canals.
Across the country, state lawmakers have taken harsh actions to try to rein in the budget-busting costs of the health care program that serves 58 million poor and disabled Americans. Some states have cut payments to doctors, paid bills late and trimmed benefits such as insulin pumps, obesity surgery and hospice care.
Lawmakers are bracing for more work when they reconvene in January. Some states face multibillion-dollar deficits. Federal stimulus money for Medicaid is soon to evaporate. And Medicaid enrollment has never been higher because of job losses.
In the view of some lawmakers, Medicaid has become a monster, and it's eating the budget. In Illinois, Medicaid sucks up more money than elementary, secondary and higher education combined.
"Medicaid is such a large, complicated part of our budget problem, that to get our hands around it is very difficult. It's that big. It's that bad," said Illinois Sen. Dale Righter, a Republican and co-chairman of a bipartisan panel to reform Medicaid in Illinois, where nearly 30 percent of total spending goes to the program. . . .


House Dems view Obama as untrustworthy

It is one thing to disagree, it is quite another when House Democrats believe that President Obama has been dishonest with them over the tax bill.

The struggle over tax cuts is seriously straining President Barack Obama's relationship with House Democrats, who have backed him on key issues even when it cost them politically.
Expressing hurt and bewilderment, Democratic lawmakers say Obama ignored them at crucial negotiating moments, misled them about his intentions and made needless concessions to Republicans. . . .


The many forms of criminal punishment

Barry Madoff's actions not only left him in jail, they also resulted in the suicide of his son. People who worked for Madoff even in relatively low leave positions are having real problems finding new jobs.

Even though Madoff's son turned in his father to the SE, the son couldn't get people to believe that he had nothing to do with his father's fraud. From the WSJ on Madoff's son committing suicide.

The ignominy of the Madoff name would come to haunt Mark Madoff in the two years after he and his brother, Andrew, reported their father to authorities on Dec. 10, 2008. Forty-six-year-old Mark Madoff spent that time trying to convince friends and the public that he was innocent of any wrongdoing during the 22 years he worked alongside his father, who was convicted of running a $20 billion Ponzi scheme.

He would make that point, according to a person close to the matter, as he sent a final message to his lawyer: "Nobody wants to believe the truth. Please take care of my family." . . .

Some unrelated people with Madoff's last name have also suffered because of the fraud done by Madoff.

Al Madoff has been living with his name for 82 years, and for most of that time, he said, his family moniker has been a source of pride. But recently, living openly as a Madoff has become much more complicated.

"You can't imagine what I go through with this name," said Madoff, a retired uniform salesman in Delray Beach, Fla. "I try not to mention it too often, really, because I don't want to get these stares or whatever."

Madoff has no relation to the disgraced swindler Bernard Madoff, currently in federal prison in North Carolina for orchestrating one of the largest Ponzi schemes in history. But the high-profile case and negative publicity surrounding it haven't made life any easier for Al and others who share the same last name. . . .

Low level employees for Madoff who had no involvement with the fraud also can't find jobs.

In the nearly two years he's been out of work, John Kelly has become an expert coupon clipper, reports CBS News business correspondent Anthony Mason.

"Other people are losing jobs for other reasons," Kelly told CBS News. "Mine is just somewhat unique."

Kelly worked for Bernie Madoff. He wasn't a high-level employee. His salary of $125,000 was modest by Wall Street standards, but for almost 10 years, up on the 19th floor of Madoff's firm, he worked on the trading desk as a liaison to brokerage firms.

"I still have nightmares or dreams that remind me of working there," said Kelly.

Kelly isn't sure what to think when people see the Madoff name on his resume.

"I don't know what people think," said Kelly. "I didn't have that kind of a position." . . .

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Move to ban e-cigarettes raises question

So e-cigarettes have no second hand smoke but they still get banned? The claim is that letting people smoke non-smoke emitting e-cigarettes will lead to people smoking real cigarettes makes little sense because the enforcement is easy. E-cigarettes may even make it easier to ban real cigarettes because there is a substitute. Now this from Seattle.

Five years after Washington residents voted to ban smoking cigarettes, cigars and pipes in public places, King County wants to add one more thing to the list: Electronic cigarettes.

The 2006 state law banned smoking in bars and restaurants on the basis that second-hand smoke causes cancer and other diseases. King County's rationale for adding e-cigarettes, also known as battery-powered nicotine-delivery devices, to the list of forbidden acts is a little different.

The fake cigs, from which users inhale vaporized nicotine, don't emit smoke. Rather, they produce a less-smelly, combustion-free mist.

But public health officials say they're so similar to the real thing that they make tobacco enforcement difficult and often prompt smokers to think it's OK to light up in public. And that leads to second-hand smoke, health officials reason.

"The idea is that even though they're not exactly identical to cigarettes, people see folks using e-cigarettes, and they think somebody else is smoking," said Bud Nicola, a King County Board of Health member and affiliate professor with the University of Washington School of Public Health. "It makes it very difficult for inspectors." . . .

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Radio shows

New Fox News piece: The first entirely "temporary help service" job recovery

My newest Fox News piece starts this way:

This is the first entirely "temporary help service" job recovery. Our current "recovery" might be in its seventeenth month, but the few new private sector jobs have come from companies temporarily hiring staff on a contract basis. What were once jobs reserved for people hired to cover seasonal demand or permanent employees on sick leave have become the standard employment for many workers. Companies simply don’t want the risk of hiring workers that they might soon have to get rid of.
Since the recovery started in June 2009, the total number of private sector jobs has increased by 203,000. But these weren't "regular," permanent jobs. Indeed, permanent private sector jobs fell by 257,000.
"Temporary help service" jobs is what made up the difference, as they increased by 460,000. For all sectors of the economy, including government jobs, the drop in the number of permanent jobs during the recovery was even worse -- a drop of 561,000.
The trend has recently been getting worse. . . .

Rush Limbaugh read my piece here.

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More people believe that any increase in temperatures are due to factors other than man

Here is the bottom line of a new Rasmussen survey:

A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters finds that 41% think global warming is caused primarily by human activity, while 47% say long-term planetary trends are to blame. . . .

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Don King, gun owner

Another example of an honest individual who makes a harmless mistake and gets in trouble with the law.

Cleveland - Boxing promoter Don King was stopped by security at Cleveland's Hopkins International Airport for having ammunition in his carry-on luggage.

Hopkins Airport spokeswoman Jacqueline Mayo says the 79-year-old King was stopped by members of the Transportation Safety Administration on Sunday night. She says King had ammunition for .38-caliber and .357-caliber firearms in his bag.

Mayo says the ammunition was taken and that King was released to continue his trip, she believes to Florida. She said she didn't know if King received a citation.

King didn't immediately return a telephone message seeking comment. . . .



Rahm Emanuel claimed that he wasn't a full-time resident in Chicago during 2009

For those following whether Rahm Emanuel is eligible to fun for mayor in Chicago, Emanuel's tax return for 2009 indicates that he isn't eligible.

When Rahm Emanuel originally filed his 2009 Illinois tax return, he indicated he was only a “part-year resident’’ of the state that year, since he had moved to Washington D.C. to serve as President Obama’s chief of staff.
But after he decided to return to Chicago to run for mayor this fall -- and after several people challenged whether he was eligible to run based on the fact that he hadn’t lived in the city for a full-year prior to the Feb. 2 election -- he filed an amended return, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. . . .

But there is no reason that these rules should apply to Emanuel. In fact, as just noted above, after all this became an issue Emanuel refiled his returns. I have a hard time believing that any normal court could accept such a change, but rules are probably not rules for Democrats such as Emanuel.

The Chicago Tribune has this about the date of the amended tax return.

In his original 2009 Illinois tax return, Emanuel checked the box "part-year resident" and noted he lived in Chicago through June 30, 2009. The amended return is dated Nov. 24 of this year, the same day the first formal objections against Emanuel were filed with city elections officials. . . . .

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Justice Breyer's strange arguments on gun regulations

On Fox News today, Justice Breyer made the following argument:

He said historians would side with him in the case because they have concluded that Founding Father James Madison was more worried that the Constitution may not be ratified than he was about granting individuals the right to bear arms.
Madison "was worried about opponents who would think Congress would call up state militias and nationalize them. 'That can't happen,' said Madison," said Breyer, adding that historians characterize Madison's priority as, "I've got to get this document ratified."
Therefore, Madison included the Second Amendment to appease the states, Breyer said. . . .

OK, so let's accept Breyer's argument that Madison really didn't want an individual right to own guns, but that he included it to appease the states. So? If if true, how exactly does that support Breyer's argument that there isn't an individual right to own guns? "Madison included the Second Amendment to appease the states" is all you need. Who cares why the Second Amendment was included to protect an individual right? The point is that it was included. If Breyer says that Madison opposed it but wanted the constitution passed more than including it, he apparently put in an individual right to own guns into the constitution. Isn't that what really counts?

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