"The gloves are off," said Erik Nielsen, chief European economist with Goldman Sachs in London. "Bigger countries are now competing on taxes. This is very much something that will determine how much and where companies want to invest." The EU's average corporate tax rate at the end of 2006 was a record low of 26 percent, and more cuts are in the works this year. Gordon Brown, the British chancellor of the Exchequer and prime minister-in-waiting, in March lopped two percentage points off the top rate, which is now 28 percent. The lower house of the German Parliament last week backed Chancellor Angela Merkel's plan to pare its corporate rate to 30 percent from 39 percent.Is the US competing? We are at 35% on capital gains - higher than what Europe is talking about - and the Democrats intend to raise taxes. No, they don't dare say "raise;" they want to phase out the horrible Bush tax cuts.
Thursday, May 31, 2007
Countries competing. On lower taxes? Yes! But the US is not playing right now. In Europe they tried in the past to prevent countries from lowering taxes on business. It wasn't fair to those that needed high taxes. Even the new "right" President Sarkozy of France proposed that countries be prevented by the European Union from lowering taxes. Now countries are racing to be more competitive for business by lowering business taxes. International Herald Tribune:
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
A threat to the government monopoly on news in China. ABC News:
Hackers allegedly hijacked satellite TV signals in southern China to broadcast anti-government messages, news reports said Thursday.Viewers complained that their TV screens went blank for nearly two hours or showed anti-government messages for 30 to 40 seconds Tuesday evening, the Shanghai-based Xinmin Evening News said in a report on the Web site Sohu.com. The report didn't describe the content of the messages that aired in Guangdong province.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Rep. Jack Murtha (D) threatened Republican Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) with the usual. If you cut my pork project in Podunk PA I will cut yours. Rogers responded “This is not the way we do things here and is that supposed to make me afraid of you?” To which Rep. Murtha arrogantly replied, “That’s the way I do it!” Good for Rogers:
Rep. Rogers submitted a resolution charging that Rep. Murtha violated a House rule which forbids members from blocking earmarks based on how a colleague votes. The resolution seeks a formal reprimand from the House. Rep. Rogers said, “This is exactly why Americans are disgusted with out of control federal spending. In order to restore the faith of the American people in Congress, we must do better. We can’t allow members to be threatened and intimidated when they stand up for hard-working taxpayers’ money.”Club for Growth
Chavez has united the Senate Republicans and Democrats. Hugo Chavez was elected President, but he has step-by-step taken control of Venezuela - everything. In the lucrative oil business he fired the professionals and hired his political supporters. Food - Daniel at Venezuela News blog has photographs showing that, though the grocery shelves are not bare, the variety is gone: no mayonaise, the variety of cooking oil replaced by only olive oil (and water?). Bread? only one loaf. Meat? only turkey.
The reasons are very complex but of a very simple origin: the price control policies and the currency exchange regulation. These have been greatly aggravated by an increased purchasing power from the lower classes. Note that of course I am delighted to know that through diverse grants and public pseudo jobs many have access to enough food, but the problem is that not only production has not followed but in many areas it has dropped as consumption increased!!!!But he went too far when he announced closure of RCTV, the most popular TV station. Everyone watches it instead of his dreary government channels. Investor's Business Daily:
If Chavez didn't rule by decree, the shutdown would be politically impossible. RCTV is Venezuela's biggest and most popular TV station. But it has also been a thorn in Chavez's side, and he wants revenge. He claims RCTV soap operas offend public decency. But that isn't the public's verdict as it keeps watching RCTV over Chavez's own dull and low-rated government stations. Chavez is calling the shutdown a move against oligarchy. But that, too, is false, given that just about everyone opposes the move.Even a US Senator with a track record of supporting at least one Communist dictator opposes him.
In the U.S., Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., who once championed Nicaragua's Marxist Sandinistas, co-sponsored a Foreign Relations Committee resolution condemning Chavez's move and urging the Organization of American States to intervene. "President Chavez's efforts to crack down on freedom of thought and expression are inconsistent with the rights and values that all democratic nations should embrace and protect," said Dodd. "It also raises concerns about a much larger threat to human rights in Venezuela, one that we in the United States must not ignore." Then every other senator running for president piled on as a co-sponsor — Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John McCain — signalling consensus, and concern, about credibility with voters..
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
I'm not making this up. President Bush and Ted Kennedy did it. Unbelievable. You and I pay income taxes or else we get slammed for fees and fines. Beyond a certain point it is a crime. But the Bush-Ted Kennedy immigration amnesty bill allows illegals to get citizenship despite owing back taxes. Why? Because it is "very difficult and costly and extremely time consuming." The process you and I suffer through every year is very difficult and extremely time consuming. But we are law abiding. Bush saves his sympathy for law breakers. What else can I conclude? Boston Globe has the details:
The Bush administration insisted on a little-noticed change in the bipartisan Senate immigration bill that would enable 12 million undocumented residents to avoid paying back taxes or associated fines to the Internal Revenue Service, officials said.
Monday, May 21, 2007
bloody and costly war, the constant threat of terror attacks, a string of political scandals and a land almost devoid of natural resources. Only in Israel could this be the backdrop for the most impressive economic success story of the modern Middle East. Despite the war with Lebanon, 2006 was a golden year for the economy of the region’s only liberal democracy. GDP grew by 5.1 per cent, competitiveness improved sharply and the stock market surged. Israel came fifteenth in the World Economic Forum’s global competitive index, topping the list of Middle East states and up from 23rd place the previous year. Its nearest regional rival, the United Arab Emirates, came 32nd. In recent years, this small state has turned itself into a “world technology powerhouse”, according to Augusto López Claros, the WEF’s chief economist. Much of the credit must go to Binyamin Netanyahu, who as Finance Minister in 2003 cut a deal with the Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, that gave him free rein to push through market reforms. Mr Netanyahu sold off state assets, liberalised Israel’s monolithic banks and slashed its corporation taxes. Source: Times Online
Saturday, May 19, 2007
The Silicon Valley garage that spawned Hewlett-Packard has become a national historic landmark, the company said. The site where co-founders Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard lived and set up shop in 1938 was listed on the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places. The property consists of a two-story house, garage and shed at 367 Addison Ave. in Palo Alto. It was there that Hewlett and Packard developed their first product, an audio oscillator, which Walt Disney Co. used to improve sound quality in its 1940 animated movie "Fantasia." "The significance of the garage and the house is more associated with the entrepreneurial spirit in which it was developed," said Paul Lusignan, a historian with the National Register. Seattle Times
Les Schwab started selling tires in rural Prineville, Oregon, and built a regional chain of 410 stores that did $1.6 billion in business last year. The best customer service I get is at his Les Schwab tire stores - every time I go there, which is multiple times per year. His workers run to greet you as you park your car; once I got inside and the outside guy followed me in! Good job, Les Schwab Tires. Seattle Times
Thursday, May 17, 2007
An employee of Doctors without Borders was arrested for attempting to assassinate Prime Minister Olmert of Israel. Doctors without Borders is approved by the United Nations as a humanitarian agency. Massab Bashir was able to get to Olmert because of the trust granted to his employer. Israel Matzav blog reports:
Bashir was arrested three weeks ago and confessed to collecting intelligence information for the PFLP terror group with the goal of killing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman and David Be’eri. Be'eri heads the Elad organization which develops Ir David, the Jewish archaeological gardens in the Silwan region below Jerusalem’s Old City.
Quick, what do the Boeing 787, a weak dollar, cheap electricity, Microsoft Vista, high-priced oil, and solar-grade polysilicon have in common? Answer: All help keep the Pacific Northwest economy growing briskly during a period of slow U.S. economic growth. Crosscut, a new Seattle-area online news magazine, tells us:
The U.S. economy in the January-March quarter grew at the slowest rate in four years. In dramatic contrast, parts of the Pacific Northwest are flat-out booming, and most of the rest grows at rates as much as double the U.S. average. Montana had the nation's lowest March unemployment rate, 2.0 percent. Both Montana and Idaho (unemployment rate: 2.8%) are essentially at full employment. Idaho ranks No. 4 in the U.S., Montana No. 7 in employment growth for 12 months through March, according to Arizona State University's monthly Job Growth Update. Washington at No. 10 and Oregon at No. 11 aren't far behind. All four states are growing employment substantially faster than the U.S. as a whole. And the new jobs aren't just in burger joints and latte stands. Construction is at or near record highs in all four states. Washington's high-paid manufacturing sector is expanding, as are some other high-paid sectors such as software publishing and professional and business services. Montana's boom, spurred in part by rising global demand for raw materials including copper, has spread to most sectors of its economy. Population growth at roughly three times the national average spurs broad growth in Idaho. What else is behind Pacific Northwest growth? Boeing's dramatic turnaround, for starters. Boeing and its suppliers have been growing payrolls at the rate of abut 500 a month for almost three years. Washington's aerospace head count, at 77,500 in March, is still dramatically below the 113,100 reached in early 1998, but it is up 27 percent from the cyclical low of 60,800 three years ago. High oil prices? I, too, wince at the gas pump. But it is $60-$70 oil that has made the Boeing 787 the most successful new-airplane launch in history. Boeing has promised customers roughly 20 percent more fuel efficiency per seat mile than today's fleet. It is the main reason the 787 is sold out through 2012 (more than 570 orders so far), while the less-fuel-efficient jumbo Airbus A380 (555 seats to the 787's 200-300) is stuck at about 150 orders, far fewer than needed to amortize development cost.Note that trade is important here. Most 787 sales are exports. And much of the airplane is imported. Trade! Likewise, software. And much of professional services.
Monday, May 14, 2007
Tell me again that we need the UN in charge, because we can't trust the United States. Take a look. Zimbabwe's economy is in melt down. People are starving; Zimbabwe used to be one of Africa's lead exporters of food. Inflation is racing. It has melted down. NY Times:
In recent weeks, the national power authority has warned of a collapse of electrical service. A breakdown in water treatment has set off a new outbreak of cholera in the capital, Harare. All public services were cut off in Marondera, a regional capital of 50,000 in eastern Zimbabwe, after the city ran out of money to fix broken equipment. In Chitungwiza, just south of Harare, electricity is supplied only four days a week. ... The trigger of this crisis — hyperinflation — reached an annual rate of 1,281 percent this month, and has been near or over 1,000 percent since last April. Hyperinflation has bankrupted the government, left 8 in 10 citizens destitute and decimated the country’s factories and farms. Pay increases have so utterly failed to keep pace with price increases that some Harare workers now complain that bus fare to and from work consumes their entire salaries. Citing a leaked central bank document, Reuters reported Tuesday that prices of basic items like meat, cooking oil and clothes had risen 223 percent in the past week alone.The United Nations elected Zimbabwe to head United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. What? The United Nations elected Zimbabwe to head United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Unbelievable, except at the UN we expect known thieves to be promoted and dictators to whip democracies. Libya was elected to head the Human Rights Commission in 2003. Claudia Rossett reports at National Review Online:
Let’s get real. Zimbabwe’s U.N. coup is not some extraordinary aberration, any more than the massive corruption under Oil-for-Food was due simply to some sort of unfortunate administrative fumbling at the top. This is how the U.N. works. This is how the U.N., as a grand collective, was, unfortunately, configured to work. This is how the U.N. — rolling in American money and support, but lacking any reasonable system of checks, balances, and accountability — will continue to work. There is by now every sign that the endless production of reports, proposals, and strategies for U.N. reform — an output which during the final two years of the Oil-for-Food-beset former Secretary-General Kofi Annan began to stack toward the ceiling — serves chiefly to produce new programs, projects, and initiatives, coupled with fresh U.N. demands for money. That yields fresh U.N. turf which can then be captured by the same corrupt and unaccountable thugocracy.
Saturday, May 12, 2007
The Washington Legislature made a huge mistake in 1998. They gave away the state's investment gains to the public-employee unions. Now they have bravely taken some of it back - and gave more away. The stock investments backing the public-employee retirement fund sometimes does better, like in 1999, sometimes not so well, like 2001. But the races ahead combine with the drop backs to give good overall growth. The plus 20s and minus 10s average to plus 7.5. But someone said "the stock portfolio is doing so well, let's let the public employees [read unions] have a bonus. So they created what is call "gain sharing." But they didn't couple it with "loss sharing." It has cost the state a lot of money lately. So much that something had to be done. Too little, as we expect under one-party rule. It is still a huge problem. 'Pain-sharing': Olympia deals with $7 billion boo-boo
Over 25 years, the deal saves state and local governments $6.7 billion, including $340 million in the next two years. The add-backs, though, will cost a bundle: $4.4 billion.One-party rule. This action reduces the problem by 2.3 billion. About 1/3. 1/3. Update. 5/16/07 WEA teachers union sues to block ending "gain sharing."
Democrats promised to clean up their close relationship with lobbyists. They ran for office and got elected. But now that they have control they seem to have forgotten about fulfilling their promises. It appear that their greed exceeds commitment to keep their word. Surprised? They promised to - via Associated Press:
Require lobbyists to disclose details about large donations they arrange for politicians. Make former lawmakers wait two years, instead of one, before lobbying Congress. Bar lobbyists from throwing large parties for lawmakers at national political conventions.But
The issues are in danger of being dropped from the House version, a Democratic member close to the negotiations said Thursday, speaking on condition of anonymity because sensitive discussions were continuing.
Friday, May 11, 2007
Let's get China interdependent with us. Then if China is thinking of attacking us they have to count the cost of the loss of their huge trade with us. Richard Rahn makes the case at the Washington Times: The Chinese are also very big customers of U.S. businesses, and when they buy products, such as Boeing jets, they create many high-paying jobs for Americans (that tend to be higher-paying than the lost textile worker jobs). The Chinese are also big direct investors in the U.S. And when they do something like update an old Miami hotel, they create many more jobs for Americans in the construction and hotel industries, and give America a better hotel stock, which benefits everyone from the customers to the taxman. Despite the political demagoguery, tens of millions of Americans -- whether they be Texas cotton farmers, Boeing airplane workers, Miami hotel and construction workers, or American homebuyers who can get lower cost mortgages -- are all better off due to the hard-working people in China. Yes, a few American textile workers have lost their jobs, but when Americans spend $15 for a pair of slacks that would have cost them $25, they have another $10 to spend in restaurants and on other goods and services that create many more jobs than were lost.
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Michael Barone is a premier analyst of the American scene. He says people are leaving the coastal blue states for the heartland. Given the high cost of real estate here in blue Seattle I have given thought to cashing in and moving to a cheaper state like Idaho or Montana. Barone writes in the Wall Street Journal:
Start with the Coastal Megalopolises: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Chicago (on the coast of Lake Michigan), Miami, Washington and Boston. Here is a pattern you don't find in other big cities: Americans moving out and immigrants moving in, in very large numbers, with low overall population growth. Los Angeles, defined by the Census Bureau as Los Angeles and Orange Counties, had a domestic outflow of 6% of 2000 population in six years--balanced by an immigrant inflow of 6%. The numbers are the same for these eight metro areas as a whole. There are some variations. New York had a domestic outflow of 8% and an immigrant inflow of 6%; San Francisco a whopping domestic outflow of 10% (the bursting of the tech bubble hurt) and an immigrant inflow of 7%. Miami and Washington had domestic outflows of only 2%, overshadowed by immigrant inflows of 8% and 5%, respectively. This is something few would have predicted 20 years ago. Americans are now moving out of, not into, coastal California and South Florida, and in very large numbers they're moving out of our largest metro areas. They're fleeing hip Boston and San Francisco, and after eight decades of moving to Washington they're moving out. The domestic outflow from these metro areas is 3.9 million people, 650,000 a year. High housing costs, high taxes, a distaste in some cases for the burgeoning immigrant populations--these are driving many Americans elsewhere.
Boeing is working on "green" fuels including fuel from algae. A spokesman thinks we are within 5 years, using the same engines now in use, for a fuel blend that is 20 to 40 per cent "green." That's a very short time frame for such a breakthrough. Times of the UK:
Boeing has teamed up with BP and Royal Dutch Shell to help launch the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative to explore the viability of alternative fuels. The first study is exploring issues such as feasibility, costs, barriers and technical issues.... Of the current options, synthetic liquid fuels manufactured from coal, biomass or natural gas are viable. Bio jet fuel - jet fuel made from agricultural oil crops - is deemed a mid-term option but is handicapped by limited production capacity. Earlier this year another Boeing executive, Dave Nielson, told the Transportation Research Board that if the US used biofuel for 15 per cent of its average fuel requirements, it would require cultivation of an area the size of Florida, or about 10 per cent of America's total cropland. Similar analysis showed that if airlines used 100 per cent of bio jet fuel from algae, it would require cultivation of an area the size of Maryland. According to Glover, one of the main questions is "can we find plant sources that don't compete with food sources". One project is testing the viability of bio jet fuel from the Babassu tree in Brazil.
Sunday, May 06, 2007
My favorite college; well, it's in the top two. Hillsdale College in rural Michigan is profiled in The Toledo Blade.
"It is not the purpose of this place to change the politics of America," [President] Mr. Arnn recently said in his office. "We're not a political party around here."Hillsdale, founded in 1844, had black graduates before the Civil War, and refuses all Federal aid, including student loans. This preserves their independence. If there were one Federal dollar coming to the campus - even a loan guarantee - the politically correct bean counters would be allowed to comb through everything looking for the slightest inconsistency. Then the full power of the US government would take tiny Hillsdale to court to enforce every little PC flavor of the day. Hillsdale, though having a student body of less than 1300, has a large presence among conservative and libertarian Americans.
When President Bush entered office our economy had entered a recesseion due to the bursting of the "Tech bubble." Then the attacks of 9/11 dealt a body blow to the economy and direct costs for increased security. You could expect that we entered a slump and stayed there. But the economy started running on all cylinders and now is as good as ever. Repeat. The US economy is as good as ever! Investors Business Daily: An IMF study reckoned that 9/11 cost the U.S. economy about $75 billion in lost GDP — not counting property losses of well over $100 billion. The U.S. also incurred future yearly costs of roughly 0.75% of GDP to pay for greater security, another big hit. No question: The year 2001 marked a major break for the economy, with one of the largest hits ever to the wealth of Americans. It could have been an epic disaster. But it wasn't. Bush did exactly the right thing — though he's still criticized for it today. To get the economy moving again, he pushed through tax cuts in 2001, 2002 and 2003. Some 113 million people got an average tax cut of $2,216. Families with children got even more — $2,864 on average. Since the last round of cuts in 2003, we've had the quietest, and most significant, boom in wealth, income and profits in our history. This explains why the economy, to the surprise of economists and the chagrin of liberal pundits, keeps humming. We've gone over the numbers before, but they bear repeating. Since 2002: • Real gross domestic product has soared $1.64 trillion, or 16.5%, during a five-year stretch that has yet to see a downturn and that has witnessed average annual growth of 3%. • Disposable personal income — what's left after taxes — has jumped $2.16 trillion, or 29%, to $9.68 trillion. • Productivity, the fuel for future standards of living, has improved 14.3%. • Overall employee compensation has expanded 4% a year. • Net wealth, the amount people would have after paying off their debts, has swelled $15.2 trillion, or 38%, to $55.6 trillion. That gain in just five years is more than the total wealth amassed in the first 210 years of America's existence — an unprecedented surge. • About 69% of Americans now own their homes, an all-time high. • The jobless rate, now at 4.4%, remains below its 40-year average. Since August 2003, 7.8 million new jobs have been created. • Tax receipts have surged 43%, or $757.6 billion, again thanks to economic growth.
Saturday, May 05, 2007
Thursday three Cuba army draftees got in a shootout trying to get out of Castro's Communist Cuba by highjacking an airplane. It put the spotlight on the fact that people are willing to risk their lives to escape Castro's "socialist paradise." News - Herald South Africa:
Army deserters killed a Cuban military officer on Thursday during a failed attempt to hijack an airplane at Havana's airport and flee to the United States, the interior ministry said. Armed with AK-47 rifles, the two deserters entered the airport at dawn in a bus with several hostages and boarded a parked plane without crew or passengers, the ministry said in a statementInvestors Business Daily Editorial:
This isn't the first time Cuba's rank and file have turned their weapons on their officers. In February, three other teenage conscripts turned their weapons on two officers in Santiago, also trying to escape the island after a prisoner they were guarding offered to show them how. But last week's public incident made world headlines and embarrassed the Cuban regime, which then denounced the soldiers as "terrorists" and blamed the U.S.Hey, Fidel! The people love their dictator, but they risk their lives trying to escape your prison camp island. Is something wrong?
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
An interesting comparison: The Kurds have succeeded in establishing their own country while no one was paying much attention. On the other hand, everyone wants the Palestinians to establish their own county, even Israel wants it. But they have totally failed. They have an elected "head of state," but there is nothing for him to be head of. This is Marty Peretz's observation. At his blog at the New Republic
... Still, consciously or not, and I believe consciously, the Kurds followed the example of what the Zionists did from the twenties on. For several decades, even under the raging reign of Saddam Hussein, they built an educational system and a health system, they had a working Kurdish government that no one recognized, they paid attention to all of the requirements for civil society. There is a vibrant economy and it is generating serious foreign investment. It is true that, for the last dozen years or so, their ambitious ventures were implicitly and explicitly carried out under the protection of the U.S. Yet it was as if nobody noticed. The international system paid no attention, except to warn that there should not be a Kurdish state. There should not be a Kurdish state. There really should not be a Kurdish state. Yet there is a Kurdish state, and it will get along with Turkey. Contrast the Kurds with the Palestinians. Everyone is passionate for a Palestinian state. There have been at least two declarations of independence proclaiming it. 120-odd countries have already recognized the state of Palestine. The Palestinians have embassies all over the world, and the world's countries have representation in it. Even the government of Israel wants there to be a Palestine, and three of the previous governments have also expressed support and worked for a Palestinian state. In fact, I suppose I want a Palestinian state, too. But the Palestinians don't have a state, and it's not because Israel failed to give them one or negotiate one with them...If you are not convinced that the Palestinians failed, read on. Gaza is in chaos. Haretz reports about what happened last Saturday and Sunday in Gaza:
On Saturday ... the following incidents were recorded in the Strip: Militants from Hamas' Operational Force kidnapped a member of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' presidential guard in the Jabalya refugee camp; in response, members of the victim's family abducted a Hamas activist; and during negotiations to stop escalation of the confrontation, one of the soldiers in the Hamas force threw a hand grenade in the family's direction and wounded three of its members. Additionally, a few hours earlier, armed men, apparently from the Army of Islam, blew up part of the American International School in the northern Gaza Strip. They did not touch the guards on duty there, but explained to them that "it is forbidden to guard an institution belonging to infidels." Casualty lists -- In addition to the murder of Hassan Abu-Sharah, on Sunday, two members of the Abu-Amer family were murdered and a third was injured. The background for this was apparently a feud between clans. On that same day, the deputy head of the Palestinian manufacturers' association was also shot and wounded while someone tried to steal his car. Two passersby were injured by gunshots during an attempt to attack a toy salesman in Gaza City, and a member of the Hamas Operational Force was injured by shots fired at the organization's headquarters in the center of the Strip.
Tiny St. Lucia in the Caribbean has mighty China in a toddler's tantrum. St. Lucia dared to have relationships with Taiwan. So China is accusing St. Lucia of "brutal interference in China's internal affairs." Grow up, China! Why did St. Lucia take this daring step? Because China promised development and tourists, but only opened stores and restaurants - and a stadium. But Taiwan aided development by developing new strains of fruits and vegetables suitable to the climate. Would you choose to associate with the bully who makes promises, but leaves you dependent or the country that helps you develop? Seattle P-I
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
My Congressman lost in court again. Who's counting? 3 times now? And the US House Ethics agreed in a bipartisan report last December. Jim McDermott maintains that laws apply to you and me, but not to him. As a member of the House Ethics committee he should be held to a higher standard, not a a lower one. He has fancy wording for it, but that's what he means. CBS News:
Rep. Jim McDermott had no right to disclose the contents of an illegally taped telephone call involving House Republican leaders a decade ago, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday. In a 5-4 opinion, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that McDermott, a Washington Democrat, should not have given reporters access to the taped telephone call. McDermott's offense was especially egregious since he was a senior member of the House ethics committee, the court said. When he became a member of the ethics panel, McDermott "voluntarily accepted a duty of confidentiality that covered his receipt and handling of the ... illegal recording. He therefore had no First Amendment right to disclose the tape to the media," Judge A. Raymond Randolph wrote on behalf of the court. Four judges agreed with him. The ruling upholds a previous decision ordering McDermott to pay House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, more than $700,000 for leaking the taped conversation. The figure includes $60,000 in damages and more than $600,000 in legal costs.