Americans are already facing higher capital gains tax rates?: The question is actually how much higher are they going

Start with the fact that Obamacare will be imposing a 3.8 percentage point increase in capital gains taxes next year. Next comes the question of whether the Bush tax cuts will expire. If they do expire, the base capital gains tax rate goes up to 20%. In addition, there will be another 1.2 percentage points added for high income earners. Altogether, if the Bush tax cuts expire, the total capital gains tax will rise to 25%.

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Obama administration doesn't think that it is appropriate to have a parade in NYC to honor the troops that served in Iraq

From the AP:

Bloomberg says Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin Dempsey and other Army officials "made it clear" to the city "they do not think a parade is appropriate now." . . .

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Did Obama's union biased Stimulus slightly increase the number of workers in unionized firms?

All those rules requiring that work be done by unionized workers only had a small (I assume temporary) impact on the percent of workers who are unionized. From the WSJ:

The percentage of workers who belong to a union inched down to 11.8% from 11.9% in 2010, a decline the Bureau of Labor Statistics said left the rate "essentially unchanged." . . .

In 2011, the private sector added about 110,000 union members, pushing the total there to 7.2 million. In the public sector, membership fell by 61,000 as budget-strapped federal, state and local governments cut jobs.

Still, public-sector union members continued to account for more than half of the nation's total union members, and their membership rate of 37% remained five times greater than the private sector's rate of 6.9%. . . .

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Will Obama be helping public colleges at the expense of private ones?

The key here is how the government defines colleges as being "too costly." Will it simply be tuition or the amount spent? Obviously public colleges cost much more than they charge. I also hate to think of how the federal government is going to determine quality. The article below also has a discussion about possible price controls. From Bloomberg Businessweek:

Saying “we just can’t keep on subsidizing skyrocketing tuition,” President Barack Obama proposed to have the government, for the first time, link federal aid to a college’s ability to control tuition costs and maintain education quality.

“We are putting colleges on notice -- you can’t assume that you’ll just jack up tuition every single year,” Obama said today at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. “If you can’t stop tuition from going up, then the funding you get from taxpayers every year will go down.”

For institutions that control costs, the administration is proposing to increase campus-based aid to about $10 billion a year, up from $1 billion. The bulk of the money, about $8 billion, would be devoted to Perkins loans for students, with other aid set aside for work-study grants and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants.

Obama said higher education today is “an economic imperative” instead of a luxury. “College is the single most important investment that you can make in your future,” he said.

The administration’s proposal calls for $1 billion to entice states to help keep costs down at public colleges while encouraging an overhaul of state programs that help finance education.

Obama is also proposing $55 million for individual colleges as an inducement to improve education quality. . . .

Apparently, the public colleges are pretty upset all on their own.

Fuzzy math, Illinois State University's president called it. "Political theater of the worst sort," said the University of Washington's head.
President Obama's new plan to force colleges and universities to contain tuition or face losing federal dollars is raising alarm among education leaders who worry about the threat of government overreach. Particularly sharp words came from the presidents of public universities; they're already frustrated by increasing state budget cuts.
The reality, said Illinois State's Al Bowman, is that simple changes cannot easily overcome deficits at many public schools. He said he was happy to hear Obama, in a speech Friday at the University of Michigan, urge state-level support of public universities. But, Bowman said, given the decreases in state aid, tying federal support to tuition prices is a product of fuzzy math.
Illinois has lowered public support for higher education by about one-third over the past decade when adjusted for inflation. Illinois State, with 21,000 students, has raised tuition almost 47 percent since 2007, from $6,150 a year for an in-state undergraduate student to $9,030.
"Most people, including the president, assume if universities were simply more efficient they would be able to operate with much smaller state subsidies, and I believe there are certainly efficiency gains that can be realized," Bowman said. "But they pale in comparison to the loss in state support." . . .

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An amusing campaign ad about Obama's policies

Racism in South African Politics

This story is about Lindiwe Mazibuko, the leader of the Democratic Alliance. From the New York Times:

SHE has unmistakably African roots, from her birthplace (the kingdom of Swaziland) to one of her native tongues (isiZulu) to her mocha skin.

But for many people, Lindiwe Mazibuko is just not black enough.

During a parliamentary session this year, a government minister here called her a coconut (white on the inside, brown on the outside). One political opponent described Ms. Mazibuko as the tea girl, or servant, for the leader of the country’s chief opposition party. Twitter users have flung racial slurs at her, called her a token and said she was naïve. . . .


Looking at the previous recessions can you spot the slowest recovery?

From the WSJ.
Remember Democrats coming to the defense of Obama's economic projections by saying that the worse the recession the stronger the recovery?

Also, only 28% of Americans think that the economy is getting better.

The Rasmussen Consumer Index, which measures the economic confidence of consumers on a daily basis, rose slightly on Thursday to 79.2. Consumer confidence is down two points from a week ago and shows little change from a month ago, but is up 13 points from three months ago. Consumer confidence is down 10 points from a year ago. Over the course of 2011, the Rasmussen Consumer Index ranged from a low of 58.1 to a high of 93.3. So far in 2012, consumer confidence has ranged from a low of 78.7 and a high of 89.4. . . .

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The "Marriage Killer"?: Nagging?

Is nagging the cause of the problem or is there something that causes the nagging? Do guys ignore requests because they don't care or do women nag because they want a certain level of control? From the WSJ:

Nagging can become a prime contributor to divorce when couples start fighting about the nagging rather than talking about the issue at the root of the nagging, says Howard Markman, professor of psychology at the University of Denver and co-director of the Center for Marital and Family Studies. For 30 years, Dr. Markman has researched conflict and communication in relationships and offered relationship counseling and marriage seminars. He says that while all couples deal with nagging at some point, those who learn to reduce this type of negative communication will substantially increase their odds of staying together and keeping love alive. Couples who don't learn often fall out of love and split up.

Research that Dr. Markman published in 2010 in the Journal of Family Psychology indicates that couples who became unhappy five years into their marriage had a roughly 20% increase in negative communication patterns consistent with nagging, and a 12% decrease in positive communication. "Nagging is an enemy of love, if allowed to persist," Dr. Markman says.

The good news: Couples can learn to stop nagging. Early in their marriage, Ms. Pfeiffer, now 62, repeatedly reminded her husband about household tasks and became more demanding when he ignored her. "If I was asking him to take care of something that mattered to me and he was blowing me off, that made me feel like I didn't matter," she says. . . .

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65-year-old woman held criminal at gun point



Larry Summers' December 15, 2008 Economic Memo

Summers' memo that gives some insight into what the Obama administration was thinking on the economy is available here. Here is a list of important points in the memo.

The stimulus was about implementing the Obama agenda
Team Obama knows these deficits are dangerous
Obamanomics was pricier than advertised
Even Washington can only spend so much money so fast
Liberals can complain about the stimulus having too many tax cuts, but even Team Obama thought more spending was unrealistic
Team Obama wanted to use courts to force massive mortgage principal write downs
Team Obama thought a stimulus plan of more than $1 trillion would spook financial markets and send interest rates climbing

Pages 10 and 11 shows a list of what others have proposed for Stimulus amounts.
It provides another forecast about the unemployment rate would be over time with and without the Stimulus.

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Sixteen prominent scientists say "no need to panic about Global Warming"

From the WSJ:

A candidate for public office in any contemporary democracy may have to consider what, if anything, to do about "global warming." Candidates should understand that the oft-repeated claim that nearly all scientists demand that something dramatic be done to stop global warming is not true. In fact, a large and growing number of distinguished scientists and engineers do not agree that drastic actions on global warming are needed. . . .

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Newest Fox News piece: President Obama's strange definition of fairness

My newest piece at Fox News starts this way:

During his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Obama pushed for higher tax rates on what he called “the wealthiest Americans.” 

He declared: “Tax reform should follow the Buffett rule: If you make more than $1 million a year, you should not pay less than 30 percent in taxes.” As usual, the president motivated the higher taxes with references to “fair play” and getting the wealthy to pay their “fair share” of taxes.

“Fairness” was the codeword of the State of the Union address, not the chronic problem of lingering high unemployment, something the president never even mentioned. 

Of course, Obama emphasized “fairness,” but his newest attacks on the wealthy not paying their “fair share” very conveniently comes right after Mitt Romney revealed that he has averaged paying a 14 percent tax rate over the last two years.

Unfortunately, some Republicans come across as confused about capital gains taxes. Romney pushes a weak defense . . . .

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Apparently Justice Kagan was actually involved in Obamacare discussions while at DOJ

From Fox News:

With just weeks until the U.S. Supreme Court considers the constitutionality of President Obama's health care law, there are new calls for Justice Elena Kagan to recuse herself from the case.
Her critics point to a 2010 case regarding a San Francisco health measure, in which then-Solicitor General Kagan's office filed an amicus brief touting the newly passed health care law.
In May 2010, after Kagan had been nominated to the nation's highest court, Principal Deputy Solicitor General Neal Katyal sent her a memo outlining the cases in which she had "substantially participated." Kaytal specifically referenced the Golden Gate case, noting that it had been "discussed with Elena several times."
That's enough to convince Heritage Foundation Senior Legal Fellow Hans von Spakovsky that Kagan shouldn't take part in the current health care case before the high court.
"I don't see how any ethical lawyer adhering to professional codes of conduct could not consider that they need to recuse themselves from this case," he said. . . .

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Another company getting Stimulus dollars goes bankrupt

From CNS News:

Ener1--a company that manufactures batteries for electric cars, and that received $118.5 million in federal stimulus money, and that Vice President Joe Biden visited last year the day after President Obama’s State of the Union Address—announced today that it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

In last year’s State of the Union Address, delivered Jan. 25, 2011, President Obama set a national goal of having a million electric vehicles on the road in the United States by 2015—a goal that would be achieved, Obama said, by taking money out of the oil industry and “investing” it in new technology.

“With more research and incentives, we can break our dependence on oil with biofuels and become the first country to have a million electric vehicles on the road by 2015,” said Obama.

“We need to get behind this innovation,” he said. “And to help pay for it, I'm asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies. I don't know if you've noticed, but they're doing just fine on their own. So instead of subsidizing yesterday's energy, let's invest in tomorrow's.”

The next day, Biden visited the Ener1 plant in Greenfield, Ind.—which the White House said at the time had received a $118.5 million grant from the Department of Energy and was the type of investment the president was talking about in his State of the Union. . . .

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Obama helps get even more government wealth transfers to Soros?

Even if Soros wasn't a leftwinger, he would undoubtedly be an Obama supporter simply because of how much money the Obama administration is sending his way. From the Heritage Foundation:

George Soros, a billionaire investor and major backer of President Obama, stands to reap a windfall from legislation promoting natural gas-powered vehicles. The White House unveiled a proposal on Thursday that would do just that.
The proposal would offer incentives for companies to buy and use trucks powered by natural gas. Obama announced the effort at a UPS facility in Las Vegas that received stimulus funding to buy natural gas vehicles and build a fueling station for them.
The proposal is remarkably similar to the New Alternative Transportation to Give Americans Solutions (NAT GAS) Act.
One company that stands to benefit handsomely from the president’s proposal is Westport Innovations. The company converts diesel engines to be fueled by natural gas. Wall Street analysts predicted a boom for the company if the NAT GAS Act were passed. CNBC analyst Jim Cramer said he “expects shares to absolutely explode” in the event the legislation were to pass. . . .


Why carry concealed in national parks?

Aren't parks safe? Why would anyone need to protect themselves? Surely this 65 year old man is glad that he had his permitted gun with him. I only wish that the news story explicitly stated that he had a concealed handgun permit. Story from WFMZ-TV about a Cumru Township, PA case:

A 16-year-old boy is dead, another teenager is wounded and another was arrested after a shooting on a popular trail in Cumru Township.

Wednesday night the Berks County District Attorney gave police the go ahead to release the man they say shot at the teens.

Wednesday morning police from multiple departments responded to the Thune Trail near the Bertolet Fishing Dock at S. First Avenue and Chestnut Street in West Reading after reports of shots fired. . . .

Police say four people were involved: three teenagers and a 65-year-old man.

"He was riding a bicycle," said Habecker.

Police said the teens knocked the man off his bicycle and onto the ground.

They said two of the teens were assaulting the man when he pulled out a gun and shot them. . . .

Thanks to Tony Troglio for this link.

UPDATE: Here is a follow up story.

A 65-year-old man was justified in shooting two of three teenagers who were attempting to rob him as he rode his bicycle along a popular river trail Wednesday morning, authorities announced Thursday.

The ordeal unfolded shortly before 11 a.m. on the Thun Trail in Cumru Twp., Berks Co.

The teens knocked the man off his bicycle and onto the ground in their third random robbery attempt in about an hour's time, said Berks County District Attorney John Adams.

Two of the teens were assaulting the man when he pulled out a gun and shot them, police said.

"While I don't condone violence, the bike rider had no choice," said Adams. "He was in danger of death and serious bodily injury. The bike rider did not provoke the situation."

The man is licensed to carry a gun, said Adams. . . .

Thanks to John Kernkamp for the link.

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Bizarre Claims that Newt Gingrich was anti-Reagan?

Michael Reagan endorsed Newt.
Might there have been disagreements from time to time, sure. But to claim that Newt was rude to Reagan or anti-Reagan seems like a very strange claim. If this was believed, would Newt have been in the Republican House leadership in the early 1990s? Here is Newt on the subject on Hannity's show.
UPDATE: LIMBAUGH blasts coordinated attacks on Newt: "I first heard of Newt Gingrich when he was perhaps the premiere defender of Ronald Reagan. This was in the early 1980s of course, Reagan assumed office in 1981."
UPDATE: From Sarah Palin:

"Look at Newt Gingrich, what’s going on with him, via the establishment's attacks,” fmr. Gov. Sarah Palin said on FOX Business. They’re trying to crucify this man and rewrite history, and rewrite what it is that he has stood for all these years."

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Apparently Obama turns his back on others that he talks to as well

It looks as if Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is getting the type of treatment that I have experienced from Barack Obama (see links to interviews with Mark Levin here and here and Teri O'Brien here), though it appears as if they had a more aggressive discussion than Obama and I had.

A partial transcript is available here.

From the NY Times:

Mr. Obama stepped off the plane and was greeted by Ms. Brewer, who handed him a handwritten letter in an envelope that she later said was an invitation to discuss the “Arizona comeback.” The two had an intense exchange for several minutes; at one point Ms. Brewer pointed her finger at Mr. Obama.

Afterward, she told reporters that Mr. Obama “was a little disturbed about my book.”

“I said to him that I have all the respect in the world for the office of the president,” she said. “The book is what the book is. I asked him if he read the book. He said he read the excerpt. So.”

At one point, the two seemed to be talking at the same time, seemingly over each other. Mr. Obama appeared to walk away from Ms. Brewer while she was still talking.

Asked what aspect of the book disturbed him, Ms. Brewer said: “That he didn’t feel that I had treated him cordially. I said I was sorry he felt that way but I didn’t get my sentence finished. Anyway, we’re glad he’s here. I’ll regroup.” . . .

I will stick with Brewer's version of their discussion.

Yet, another example of Obama walking out on people is available here.

There is a controversy now developing over a dinner that was attended by President Obama, George H. W. Bush and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. President Obama and Jeb Bush were featured as speakers at the Alfalfa Dinner, which was attended by a number of Washington elite.

Jeb Bush’s speech was expected to follow the president’s, but before it even started, President Obama had already walked out. Now, Al Hunt wrote a Bloomberg News article labeling this action an example of the Obama administration’s “cockiness.”

Earlier, Michael Reagan shared his reaction to this article on America Live, saying, “[Al Hunt] is taken back by the arrogance of this president.” Reagan went on to say that there would have been a severe backlash in the media if George W. Bush had walked out on Hillary Clinton’s speech with Bill Clinton sitting in the audience. . . .

Apparently, Obama had a similar skirmish with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal:

I was expecting words of concern about the oil spill, worry about the pending ecological disaster, and words of confidence about how the federal government was here to help. Or perhaps he was going to vent about BP’s slow response. But no, the president was upset about something else. And he wanted to talk about, well, food stamps. Actually, he wanted to talk about a letter that my administration had sent to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack a day earlier.

The letter was rudimentary, bureaucratic, and ordinary. .  .  . We were simply asking the federal government to authorize food stamps for those who were now unemployed because of the oil spill. Governors regularly make these sorts of requests to the federal government when facing disaster.

But somehow, for some reason, President Obama had personalized this. And he was upset.

There was not a word about the oil spill. He was concerned about looking bad because of the letter. “Careful,” he said to me, “this is going to get bad for everyone.”



Remember how Chicago murder rate fell last year? Well, don't look to arrests for murder being the cause

"Only 30 Percent Of Last Year’s Murders Have Been Solved"

Murders in Chicago were down last year, but it’s a different story when it comes to the number of murders actually solved.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports, the murder clearance rate – the number of homicides that were solved the same year – has slipped. . . .

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Romney backed by party elites

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Romney just can't resist playing class warfare card against Newt

Romney won't explain the difference between income earned from capital gains and income earned from work. Throwing away the chance to explain why his 14 percent tax rate is "fair" Romney would rather win what seems like a short run political gain against Newt. From Politico:

. . . The moment came after Newt Gingrich joked about Romney’s 15 percent tax rate, saying: “I’m prepared to describe my flat tax as the Mitt Romney flat tax.”

Romney jumped in to ask: Do you tax capital gains at 15 percent or zero percent?

Gingrich’s answer: Zero.

“Under that plan, I’d have paid no taxes in the last two years,” Romney said, alluding to the fact that all his income is from investments. . . .

“The real question is not so much my taxes, but the taxes of the American people,” Romney said. “That’s why I put forward a plan to eliminate the tax on savings for middle-income Americans.”

He continued: “But I paid all the taxes that are legally required and not a dollar more. … I don’t think you want someone as the candidate for president who pays more taxes than he owes.” . . .

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Google moving to complete a comprehensive profile of people that includes searches, information in emails, purchases, basically everything

Is there anything that Google won't know about people? Linking what is in your emails to what is in your internet searches and purchases leaves almost nothing that they don't know. From the Washington Post:

Google said Tuesday it will require users to allow the company to follow their activities across e-mail, search, YouTube and other services, a radical shift in strategy that is expected to invite greater scrutiny of its privacy and competitive practices.

The information will enable Google to develop a fuller picture of how people use its growing empire of Web sites. Consumers will have no choice but to accept the changes.

The policy will take effect March 1 and will also impact Android mobile phone users, who are required to log in to Google accounts when they activate their phones. . . .

A user of Gmail, for instance, may send messages about a private meeting with a colleague and may not want the location of that meeting to be thrown into Google’s massive cauldron of data or used for Google’s maps application. . . .

Google has also faced greater scrutiny that it is using its dominance in online search to favor its other applications. Google’s decision to blend Google+ data into search results has been included into a broad FTC antitrust investigation, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is private.

Engineers from Twitter, Facebook and MySpace responded by launching a Web tool that they say shows Google is moving away from its stated mission to be a neutral Web directory.

On the Web site for the plug-in, the engineers wrote that searches for generic terms such as “movies” or “music” prioritize Google+ results over more relevant content.

Here is a nice summary of what Google knows about you. Not only does Google know about what movies you like and what you buy, it also knows this type of information:

You agreed to let Google know about your contacts and mails when you started using Gmail.
You agreed to let Google know about your photos when you started using Picasa.
You agreed to let Google know where you are when you started using Latitude.
You agreed to let Google know what people you interact with and what you are interested in when you started using Google+.
You agreed to let Google store your documents for you when you started using Docs. . . .

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Newt would be just as strong against Obama as Romney, takes national lead in Republican race

Gun control groups advocating boycotting Starbucks on Valentine's Day 2012

Well, it will be interesting to see how successful the boycott is.

A nationwide boycott of Starbucks stores and its products will be launched on Valentine's Day 2012. Its goal is to eliminate the risk of guns in public places and ultimately to bring sane gun laws to the U.S.

This boycott is being called by the National Gun Victim's Action Council (NGAC), a network of 14 million gun victims, the faith community including the: Episcopal Peace Fellowship, United Church of Christ, Fellowship of Reconciliation (46 peace fellowships and 43 affiliate fellowships), secular groups working to reduce gun violence and many of the organizations that support passing sane gun laws.WHY STARBUCKS? Currently, Starbucks allows guns and assault weapons to be openly carried in its stores (in 43 states) and concealed and carried in its stores (in 49 states) (See Photos). Starbucks' compliance with the National Rifle Association's Pro-Gun Agenda was exposed in 2010 when members of the "open carry" movement began meeting in popular chains, such as California Pizza Kitchen, Peets, IKEA, Disney and Starbucks openly carrying their handguns and assault rifles. . . .

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Gun permits almost double over last 5 years in New South Wales Australia

Gun control groups in Australia aren't happy with this.

THE number of gun permits issued in NSW has almost doubled in the past five years, sparking calls for restrictions on how many guns people can acquire.
Figures from the NSW firearms registry show 111,792 permits to acquire a firearm were issued in 2009 and 2010. That was 29,427 more than for the previous two-year period. In 2005 and 2006, there were 65,997 permits issued.
The National Coalition for Gun Control, which obtained the latest figures under freedom-of-information laws, says that the increase is linked to the scrapping of a 28-day waiting period for a second or subsequent firearm. . . .

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Public Employee Union Puts $1 million into Super PAC ads attacking Romney

This should give Republicans some pause. Apparently public employee unions think that it is a good investment to put money into Super PAC attack ads against Romney. The obvious question is: why? Do they believe that Romney is the strongest candidate for the fall? Do they think that these attacks between Republicans are going to weaken the party for this fall? One thing seems pretty certain: this isn't good news. From the Washington Times (Public employees union heaps cash into GOP ad attacks on Romney, January 22, 2012):

An unlikely combatant has jumped into the big-money battle between independent groups running ads weighing in on the Republican presidential primary: a national union representing public employees. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) spent $1 million Friday on an ad accusing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney of greed, Federal Election Commission records show.

The liberal group’s intent is to sway the outcome of the Republican primary in Florida, with ads running there before the state’s party elections Jan. 31. The strategy seems to indicate that the union views Mr. Romney as the most realistic threat to President Obama and would much prefer to see Republicans field another candidate, such as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, against Mr. Obama in the general election.

The piling-on of a liberal group on top of the Republican organizations attacking Mr. Romney highlights an irony to the 2010 Supreme Court decision that injected massive independent expenditures into politics with a ruling cheered by many conservatives: The majority of the spending thus far has been used to demonize Republicans. . . .

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Obama's decision on Keystone pipeline means really big money for Obama backer

From Bloomberg:

Warren Buffett’s Burlington Northern Santa Fe LLC is among U.S. and Canadian railroads that stand to benefit from the Obama administration’s decision to reject TransCanada Corp. (TRP)’s Keystone XL oil pipeline permit.
With modest expansion, railroads can handle all new oil produced in western Canada through 2030, according to an analysis of the Keystone proposal by the U.S. State Department.
“Whatever people bring to us, we’re ready to haul,” Krista York-Wooley, a spokeswoman for Burlington Northern, a unit of Buffett’s Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A), said in an interview. If Keystone XL “doesn’t happen, we’re here to haul.”
The State Department denied TransCanada a permit on Jan. 18, saying there was not enough time to study the proposal by Feb. 21, a deadline Congress imposed on President Barack Obama. Calgary-based TransCanada has said it intends to re-apply with a route that avoids an environmentally sensitive region of Nebraska, something the Obama administration encouraged.
The rail option, though costlier, would lessen the environmental impact, such as a loss of wetlands and agricultural productivity, compared to the pipeline, according to the State Department analysis. Greenhouse gas emmissions, however, would be worse. . . .

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New Fox News piece: Lessons to be learned from Europe's debt downgrades

My newest Fox News piece starts this way:

As we watch the Eurozone struggle with its financial challenges Keynesians keep telling us the solution to our economic problems is to spend more money, to pile up bigger debts.

A week and a half ago, Standard & Poor’s downgraded the debt of more than half of the Eurozone's countries, and the failure of those policies should be very obvious by now.

Solving the Greek debt crisis hit yet another snag on Sunday afternoon. New aid for Greece from the IMF, the European Commission and the European Central Bank would have relied on private bondholders “voluntarily” agreeing to a 50 percent cut in the value of the Greek bonds they hold as the Greek government claims it can't afford the interest rates demanded on the remaining debt. Unfortunately, for the Greek government, it lacks the power to abrogate the rights of foreign bondholders.

Greece can't simply apply the Obama administration's method of doing away with the rights of GM's and Chryslers' bondholders.

The European countries that have fared the best, such as Germany and Poland, rejected the Keynesian medicine. In contrast, countries following the Keynesian path with massive deficits to try to "stimulate" the economy -- such as Greece, Portugal, and Ireland -- have done poorly, with low growth and increased government debt. . . .

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Talks this week

January 24th
noon, Duquesne University School of Law, Pittsburgh, More Guns, Less Crime

January 25th
12-1 PM, Case Western Reserve University School of Law, guns
4-5pm, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, Abortion and Crime

January 26th
noon, Akron Law School, Fed Soc, gun-free zones, especially college campuses


Newt Gingrich Favorability/Unfavorability Nationally

Do I think that Newt would make a better president than Romney? Yes. Do I think that he would be a better debater against Obama? Yes. Do I worry that Newt may have huge negatives that will be hard to overcome? Yes. Can a strong campaign undo some of those negatives? Sure, but I am just not sure how much can be undone with these abilities.

UPDATE: So if the above is true, why are some Democrats so scared of Newt?

Pelosi: Let me just say this. That will never happen.

King: Why?

Pelosi: He's not going to be President of the United States. . .

King: Why are you so sure?

Pelosi: There is something that I know. . . .

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The big questions about Republican Presidential Debates

Newt's campaign depends a lot on presidential debates. Romney is reportedly ready to spend $10 million in advertising during the upcoming Republican Florida primary. The constant debates are very important in Newt getting his message out and also showing how well he debates. Here is the question: given how much the debates are changing the race, will the media keep up with having two debates a week? Will they expand or cut back on the number? The change may tell us a lot about what the media really think about Newt and Romney. From Politico:

Gingrich's campaign was saved in South Carolina "partly because of his commanding debate performances," Jim Rutenberg writes in today's New York Times. "[Gingrich's] candidacy has flourished in debate after debate," his colleague Jeff Zeleny notes. "And with two more debates in the next five days in Florida, the amount of media attention awaiting Mr. Gingrich is sure to be immense."

If you're in the Romney camp right now, you're not only fearing the fact that there are two debates next week, you're probably ruing the fact that there have already been so many. . . .

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Castle Doctrine being used in Missouri

So what happens to burglaries when states adopt the Castle Doctrine? Hint: see the third edition of More Guns, Less Crime.

William J. Whitfield came home early one January morning in 2010 to find his tiny brick bungalow just about emptied out by burglars.
They took his tools, his computer, his flat-screen televisions.
"They tried to get my washer and dryer too, but that was bolted to the floor," said Whitfield, 66, a retired Navy petty officer who lives in the city's College Hill neighborhood.
But the burglars left something else behind: bags stuffed with more of Whitfield's belongings, stacked near his basement stairwell.
He knew they would be back. So, he called police to report the burglary, but he also armed himself with his 9 mm pistol and slept in a chair in the front room that night. And when three people broke in about 3 a.m., Whitfield shot one of them, leaving the man dead on the kitchen floor.
Police investigated the shooting, but Whitfield never really faced the prospect of prosecution. Missouri's expanded self-defense law, passed in 2007 and known as the castle doctrine, not only protected him from being charged but meant he couldn't be sued over his actions that night.
Whitfield's case is just one example of homeowners taking action against intruders — and burglars dying at the hands of those homeowners. . . .


Robert Samuelson explains what venture capitalists do

Samuelson's piece is available here. The question is what would have happened to the firms that Bain got involved with if they had never tried to turn the company around.

What’s instructive is that, in both cases, total job gains and losses dwarfed the net change. In the two years, private-equity-owned firms created new jobs equal to about a fifth of their workforces — and destroyed old jobs, often at closed locations, in similar numbers. For the non-private-equity controlled firms, the comparable proportion was about one-sixth. Job turnover is routinely high, but private-equity-controlled firms are quicker at “shrinking underperforming facilities and expanding productive and profitable facilities,” says University of Chicago economist Steven Davis, one of the study’s authors. These firms also had greater gains in efficiency, he says. . . .

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Big news out of Europe today on debt crisis in Greece?

From Reuters:

Private creditors said on Sunday they had come to the limits of what losses they could concede, putting the ball in the court of the European Union and the IMF.

Market players are looking to a euro zone finance ministers meeting on Monday where they will decide what terms of a Greek debt restructuring they are ready to accept in order to pave the way for a second bailout package for Athens. . . .


Predicting which countries' stock markets will be most sensitive to news about EU financial crisis

While private sector debt gets under control, public sector debt explodes

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More after effects of Keystone

The Obama administration subsidies energy production that costs more than the benefits it produces and prevents energy production where the reverse is true. From The Hill newspaper:

The White House is working to prevent President Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline from becoming a political liability in an election year that will be dominated by jobs and the economy.

White House and campaign officials are emphasizing Obama's energy record in broad strokes -- highlighting steps the administration has taken to encourage oil and gas development and investments in clean energy. Those steps, the officials say, create far more jobs than approval of Keystone would have.

The decision Wednesday to deny TransCanada’s Keystone permit has further united Republicans around a common message: Obama is a job killer. And the GOP vowed last week to continue pummeling the president over Keystone both in Washington and on the campaign trail. . . .

Here is another story from The Hill:

The Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) left the BlueGreen Alliance on Friday, citing a disagreement with the group’s members over the Keystone XL pipeline.

LIUNA, a vocal Keystone supporter, took aim at other unions for opposing the project.
“We’re repulsed by some of our supposed brothers and sisters lining up with job killers like the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council to destroy the lives of working men and women,” LIUNA General President Terry O’Sullivan said in a statement. . . .

The move underscores the intense political divide among unions over the pipeline, which would carry oil sands crude from Alberta, Canada, to refineries along the Gulf Coast. . . .

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One woman who doesn't appreciate being protected by the Federal government

Can't the government understand that its protection isn't desired some times? From the Associated Press:

The federal government now says a 101-year-old Detroit woman it promised could move back into her foreclosed home four months ago can't return because the building's unsanitary and unsafe.
Texana Hollis was evicted Sept. 12 and her belongings placed outside after her 65-year-old son failed to pay property taxes linked to a reverse mortgage, The Detroit News reported Sunday. Two days later, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said she could return.
But now, HUD said it won't let Hollis move back in because of the house's condition. She had lived there about 60 years.
"Here I am, 100 years old, and don't have a home," Hollis said, rounding off her age. "Oh Lord, help me." . . .


The Peltzman effect for junk food in school

Limiting kids intake of junk food at school doesn't seem to change their weight since they just offset that reduction at home. From ABC News:

"whether or not junk food is available to them at school may not have much bearing on how much junk food they eat"

The original study is available here.



"Dems push Fannie, Freddie regulator on mortgage write-downs"

Do Democrats have any idea what these types of policies will have on new loans being made? If you can have a loan you make marked down dramatically after you make it, why would you ever make that type of loan? From The Hill newspaper:

Congressional Democrats are expected to continue pushing a federal housing regulator to write down mortgage principal for government-backed loans if a settlement with banks doesn't help out enough homeowners.

The federal government is "very close" to an agreement with mortgage servicers that could help about a million homeowners, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan said this week.

The deal, which also includes states' attorneys general, would require the nation's five largest banks — Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo and Ally Financial — to spend upward of $25 billion to help borrowers caught up in so-called robo-signing practices where servicers signed-off on foreclosure paperwork without properly reviewing documents. . . .

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World Economic Forum calls for reforms of "outdated" capitalism

I guess that I could go along with reforming the troublesome regulatory system, but this is something to remember when we hear about all the well-known people who attend the World Economic Forum each year.

Economic and political elites meeting this week at the Swiss resort of Davos will be asked to urgently find ways to reform a capitalist system that has been described as "outdated and crumbling."
"We have a general morality gap, we are over-leveraged, we have neglected to invest in the future, we have undermined social coherence, and we are in danger of completely losing the confidence of future generations," said Klaus Schwab, host and founder of the annual World Economic Forum.

"Solving problems in the context of outdated and crumbling models will only dig us deeper into the hole.

"We are in an era of profound change that urgently requires new ways of thinking instead of more business-as-usual," the 73-year-old said, adding that "capitalism in its current form, has no place in the world around us." . . .


Rep. Gabrielle Giffords resigning, recovery will take some time

This is sad but not unexpected news. Giffords will surely get a massive ovation at the State of the Union this week when Obama announces her resignation.

Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords announced on her website Sunday that she will resign from Congress this week to continue her recuperation from the brain injury she suffered when shot just over a year ago.
"A lot has happened over the past year. We cannot change that," Giffords, 41, says in a video on her website, speaking in a halting manner. . . .
Giffords, a Democrat, will submit a letter of resignation during the week to House Speaker John Boehner and Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer. Brewer said Sunday in a statement that she will call a "special primary and general election" to fill the state's 8th congressional district seat for the rest of Giffords' term, which expires at the end of the year.
A statement from her office said Giffords will attend the State of the Union address Tuesday as one of her last acts before stepping down. . . .


The Washington Post's ombudsman talks about the papers' "liberal tilt"

From the Washington Post:

When President Obama has a bad day, or more specifically, on days when the economic news has been bad, I get a slew of feedback from conservative readers that go like this:

“See, you liberal media nincompoops, this is all your fault, you treated Obama like a saint when he was running in 2007 and 2008 and you didn’t vet him, investigate him, report on him skeptically. You were so fawning (and adoring of his blackness), you missed that he was a (pick your adjective), radical, socialist, Muslim, inexperienced, dangerous, corrupt, weak Chicago politician with no track record of accomplishment, whose only talent is giving speeches.” . . . .

Deborah Howell, Post ombudsman from 2005 through 2008, said at the end of her tenure that “some of the conservatives’ complaints about a liberal tilt [at The Post] are valid.”

I won’t quibble with her conclusion. I think she was right. . . . .


New York Times gives only one side of Obama - Steve Jobs discussion

Here is the way the New York Times in an article entitled "How U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work" describes the interaction between Obama and Steve Jobs:

But as Steven P. Jobs of Apple spoke, President Obama interrupted with an inquiry of his own: what would it take to make iPhones in the United States?
Not long ago, Apple boasted that its products were made in America. Today, few are. Almost all of the 70 million iPhones, 30 million iPads and 59 million other products Apple sold last year were manufactured overseas.
Why can’t that work come home? Mr. Obama asked.
Mr. Jobs’s reply was unambiguous. “Those jobs aren’t coming back,” he said, according to another dinner guest.
The president’s question touched upon a central conviction at Apple. It isn’t just that workers are cheaper abroad. Rather, Apple’s executives believe the vast scale of overseas factories as well as the flexibility, diligence and industrial skills of foreign workers have so outpaced their American counterparts that “Made in the U.S.A.” is no longer a viable option for most Apple products. . . .

The Times then goes on to quote Jared Bernstein to argue that this is a really difficult problem for the administration to fix.

“Apple’s an example of why it’s so hard to create middle-class jobs in the U.S. now,” said Jared Bernstein, who until last year was an economic adviser to the White House.

“If it’s the pinnacle of capitalism, we should be worried.” . . .

So it seems pretty clear from the Times that Jobs didn't really blame Obama for driving American jobs to China. But there is a significant problem with that story:

“You’re headed for a one-term presidency,” Jobs told Obama at the outset. To prevent that, he said, the administration needed to be a lot more business-friendly. He described how easy it was to build a factory in China, and said that it was almost impossible to do so these days in America, largely because of regulations and unnecessary costs.

Isaacson, Walter (2011-10-24). Steve Jobs (p. 544). Simon & Schuster, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

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Obama administration political appointee "to assert the Fifth in gun-smuggling probe"

What would the media be doing if this had happened for a Bush administration official? The Obama administration try passing the buck to this administration official and he takes the fifth? From USA Today:

A federal prosecutor in Arizona plans to assert his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination as part of a congressional inquiry into a botched federal gun investigation known as "Operation Fast and Furious," USA TODAY's Kevin Johnson reports.

That investigation had allowed hundreds of firearms to flow into Mexico to arm drug cartel enforcers.

A lawyer representing Patrick Cunningham, criminal division chief in the Arizona U.S. attorney's office, informed the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that he would assert the privilege rather than testify in the committee's probe of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives operation.

Rep. Darrell Issa, the California Republican who chairs the committee, calls the prosecutor's decision "a significant indictment of the (Justice) Department's integrity'' and marked the first time a witness in the inquiry had sought such protection.

Justice officials have told the committee that they relied on inaccurate information relayed to them by Cunningham in responding to House investigators. . . .


Republicans will revive Keystone Pipeline issue

The Obama administration keep claiming that several years isn't sufficient to give regulatory approval for the pipeline to be built. Even former administration officials have a hard time accepting these arguments. From the Washington Examiner:

President Obama's decision last week to deny a permit for a Canadian pipeline that would run all the way to Texas helped solidify his support among environmental groups. But it pits the president against congressional Republicans who are all but certain to use the Keystone XL pipeline as a bargaining chip in this week's negotiations over extending a payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance.

"This is a wonderful talking point for Republicans," said Jerry Taylor, a federal energy and environmental policy scholar with the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank. "They will argue that the high gasoline prices Americans have been paying are something one can blame on the president. And they will argue that high unemployment rates are due to this."

Neither argument is entirely true, Taylor said, but Republicans can still use them to back Obama into a corner over the pipeline project, which would carry oil from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, through a 36-inch pipe to oil refineries along the Gulf Coast. . . .

Among the Democratic lawmakers backing the Keystone project is Rep. Nick Rahall of West Virginia.

"I want the project to go forward," Rahall told The Examiner. "I think we need it for our energy security and for jobs for America."

The president, Rahall said, "is obviously walking a tightrope here, with the environmental community. Part of it is an anti-fossil fuel attitude." . . .

At least one Democrat Senator who is up for re-election this year says that he is very critical.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said the decision was a major setback for the economy, workers "and America's energy independence."

The United States should be buying oil from allies like Canada rather than from nations wanting to harm America, Manchin said.

"Until we are energy independent, it only makes common sense to get our resources from our friends and greatest allies, like Canada," Manchin said. "I respectfully urge the president to reconsider this decision." . . .

Not only is the administration taking forever to make a decision, it seems pretty clear that the risks from oil pipelines are minimal. From Fox News:

While the Obama administration says it needs more time to assess the potential risks surrounding the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, a vast underground network of more than 2 million miles of energy pipeline already traverses the United States.

Several energy experts who represent the oil and gas industry say the controversial Keystone XL, a 1,700-mile pipeline that would run from Canada to Texas, poses less of a risk to the environment than the estimated 50,000 miles of crude oil pipelines already crisscrossing the U.S., a network they say is safe and efficient.

The Obama administration on Wednesday blocked a permit for the $7 billion Keystone XL, at least temporarily, claiming a more thorough review is needed to examine problems it may pose to the nations air and water quality. The administration also blamed Republicans for including a provision in a recent tax cut bill that compelled a decision within a 60-day time frame.

The pipeline system, proposed by the Canadian firm TransCanada, would transport crude oil from the Athabasca Oil Sands in northeastern Alberta to multiple locations in the U.S., including as far as the Gulf Coast of Texas. The Keystone XL would go through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma, and the so-called feeder pipelines would connect it to rich oil fields in North Dakota and Montana. . . .

But several energy experts say the Keystone XL would be no different from an extensive network of energy pipelines already in place and some say its state-of-the-art design would make it safer than many of the countrys aging pipelines.

Theres no shortage of energy pipelines, Dan Kish, senior vice president for policy at the Institute for Energy Research, told FoxNews.com. This pipeline would be better than 1.9 million miles of pipeline already in the United States. Its newer and has the best technology. . . .

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Colbert/Cain "train missing traction in South Carolina"

Colbert may have gotten a lot of publicity for his attempt at embarrassing the Republican party, but he only got one percent of the vote. Now the question is whether much of the media will find Colbert a joke as well. From Politico:

Not many South Carolinians got on board the Stephen Colbert-commandeered Cain Train.
Just a few thousand people — 1 percent of the vote — went for Herman Cain in Saturday’s primary, despite the comedian’s effort to turn a joke out of Saturday’s primary results by urging fans to vote for the former Godfather’s CEO’s, whose name remained on the ballot.
Colbert trumpeted the former candidate as an alternative to voting for him on his Comedy Central show through the past week. A super PAC set up to aid the effort even aired a commercial teasing that Cain is “such a Washington outsider he’s not even running for president … Send them a message. On Jan. 21, vote Herman Cain.” . . .


CNN's political bias?


On Obama condescending attitude

The very liberal NY Times columnist Maureen Dowd finds that the Obamas' self pity even is too much for her. Of course, she simply can't go after Obama so she includes a swipe at Newt.

The portrait of the first couple in Jodi Kantor’s new book, “The Obamas,” bristles with aggrievement and the rational president’s disdain for the irrational nature of politics, the press and Republicans. Despite what his rivals say, the president and the first lady do believe in American exceptionalism — their own, and they feel overassaulted and underappreciated.

We disappointed them.

As Michelle said to Oprah in an interview she did with the president last May: “I always told the voters, the question isn’t whether Barack Obama is ready to be president. The question is whether we’re ready. And that continues to be the question we have to ask ourselves.”

They still believed, as their friend Valerie Jarrett once said, that Obama was “just too talented to do what ordinary people do.” . . .

Kantor writes that the Obamas, feeling misunderstood, burrowed into “self-imposed exile” — a “bubble within the bubble” — with their small circle of Chicago friends, who reinforced the idea that “the American public just did not appreciate their exceptional leader.” . . .

The Obamas, especially Michelle, have radiated the sense that Americans do not appreciate what they sacrifice by living in a gilded cage. . . . .