Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Conventional wisdom radio

If you want to hear the conventional wisdom on today's events you don't have to turn to ABC, NBC, CBS or CNN. KVI's morning host Bryan Suits provides it every day. He has exclusive access to long conversations with ABC News reporters around the world. And they avoid all controversy and carefully script the conventional wisdom. In his exclusive interview with an ABC woman in London (impressed?) today she couldn't even say that Jimi Heselden the owner of Segway who rode his Segway off a cliff into a river took a risk and lost - a combination of bold and dumb. No "... all possibilities will have to be considered..." And that is typical, not the exception. Conventional. How about a call in from the analysts at National Review, Heritage Foundation, American Enterprise Institute... Prof. Michael Perry, Megan McArdle at Atlantic Mag... There are huge resources of interest to KVI's audience. Suits himself is much better. He is bright and interesting. He brings up interesting viewpoints on local/regional stories. So, if you like the conventional wisdom, tune to KVI from 5 to 9 am. Or else... Go online. But if you are driving there are few choices. Tune in Glenn Beck; he is very interesting, but he is into cosmic issues. A good local host who highlights the issues avoided by our big media is a treasure. John Carlson, David Boze. Bryan is with them - about half the time; the rest ... yawn.

Museum of History and Industry gets agreement

MOHAI appeared to be in a budget corner on its relocation, which was required due to 520 highway construction. Mayor McGinn wanted to back out on the city's agreement to provide $7 million. But agreement has been reached. Good news. Seattle Times The Seattle City Council voted unanimously Monday to lock in a June agreement that would allow the Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI) to move forward with plans to relocate from Montlake to the Armory Building at South Lake Union....

Monday, September 27, 2010

3d CD: Do you want career politician and card-check supporter Heck?

Do you want to be represented by a career politician who favors ending the secret ballot in union-organizing elections? And can't oppose tax increases? Then vote for Denny Heck in the 3d Congressional District. The Seattle Times likes this combination. Because he is more thoughtful than his opponent. Heck has been around a long time. In the Legislature, working for Gov. Booth Gardner. Ran for Superintendent of Public Instruction against a long-time incumbent. The founder of TVW, Washington's CNN. Have you watched it this week? Maybe he was a tireless administrator and leader of TVW. But he sure worked hard to stay in Olympia. Taxes - Americans for Tax Reform say that Heck misrepresented Jaime Herrera's opposition to tax increases through signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. He sure didn't make any such promise. And he supports "card check" in union organizing elections. The Times finds this an inconvenient little flaw. But he is sure he opposes secrecy in union organizing elections. Card check replaces the election by turning in signed cards by over 50% of the work force being organized. A secret ballot allows a vote of the conscience, but when collecting signatures it is possible to put pressure from coworkers and union organizers. I understand that they can corner you at home. Olympia Business Watch Former Senator and Democrat nominee for President George McGovern opposes card check:
“Under EFCA, workers could lose the freedom to express their will in private, the right to make a decision without anyone peering over their shoulder, free from fear of reprisal…..To my friends supporting EFCA I say this: We [Democrats] cannot be a party that strips working Americans of the right to a secret-ballot election. We are the party that has always defended the rights of the working class. To fail to ensure the right to vote free of intimidation and coercion from all sides would be a betrayal of what we have always championed.”
Card check also forces binding arbitration on the company-union worker relationship. It is sponsored by Sen. Patty Murray, Sen. Cantwell and supported by Congressmen Jay Inslee, Rick Larsen, Norm Dicks, Jim McDermott and Adam Smith. [The AFL-CIO link no longer works.]

Do you want career politician and "card check" supporter Heck?

Do you want to be represented by a career politician who favors ending the secret ballot in union-organizing elections? And can't oppose tax increases? Then vote for Denny Heck in the 3d Congressional District. The Seattle Times likes this combination. Because he is more thoughtful than his opponent. Heck has been around a long time. In the Legislature, working for Gov. Booth Gardner. Ran for Superintendent of Public Instruction against a long-time incumbent. The founder of TVW, Washington's CNN. Have you watched it this week? Maybe he was a tireless administrator and leader. But he sure worked hard to stay in Olympia. Taxes - Americans for Tax Reform say that Heck misrepresented Jaime Herrera's opposition to tax increases through signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. And he supports "card check" in union organizing elections. The Times finds this an inconvenient little flaw. But he is sure he opposes secrecy in union organizing elections. Card check replaces the election by turning in signed cards by over 50% of the work force being organized. A secret ballot allows a vote of the conscience, but when collecting signatures it is possible to put pressure from coworkers and union organizers. I understand that they can corner you at home. Olympia Business Watch Former Senator and Democrat nominee for President George McGovern opposes card check:
“Under EFCA, workers could lose the freedom to express their will in private, the right to make a decision without anyone peering over their shoulder, free from fear of reprisal…..To my friends supporting EFCA I say this: We [Democrats] cannot be a party that strips working Americans of the right to a secret-ballot election. We are the party that has always defended the rights of the working class. To fail to ensure the right to vote free of intimidation and coercion from all sides would be a betrayal of what we have always championed.”
Card check is sponsored by Sen. Patty Murray, Sen. Cantwell and supported by Congressmen Jay Inslee, Rick Larsen, Norm Dicks, Jim McDermott and Adam Smith. (The AFL-CIO link no longer works.)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Now we know what promises ObamaCare broke

Obama repeatedly promised "Let me make this very clear" many things in his health care takeover. But he didn't keep many, if not all, of those promises. The list is long. What does an Obama promise mean? Washington Examiner
» Obamacare won't decrease health care costs for the government. According to Medicare's actuary, it will increase costs. The same is likely to happen for privately funded health care. » As written, Obamacare covers elective abortions, contrary to Obama's promise that it wouldn't. This means that tax dollars will be used to pay for a procedure millions of Americans across the political spectrum view as immoral. Supposedly, the Department of Health and Human Services will bar abortion coverage with new regulations but these will likely be tied up for years in litigation, and in the end may not survive the court challenge. » Obamacare won't allow employees or most small businesses to keep the coverage they have and like. By Obama's estimates, as many as 69 percent of employees, 80 percent of small businesses, and 64 percent of large businesses will be forced to change coverage, probably to more expensive plans. » Obamacare will increase insurance premiums -- in some places, it already has. Insurers, suddenly forced to cover clients' children until age 26, have little choice but to raise premiums, and they attribute to Obamacare's mandates a 1 to 9 percent increase. Obama's only method of preventing massive rate increases so far has been to threaten insurers.
The following might not have been promises, but they will increase the costs for business, kill jobs and increase government meddling in your affairs.
» Obamacare will force seasonal employers -- especially the ski and amusement park industries -- to pay huge fines, cut hours, or lay off employees. » Obamacare forces states to guarantee not only payment but also treatment for indigent Medicaid patients. With many doctors now refusing to take Medicaid (because they lose money doing so), cash-strapped states could be sued and ordered to increase reimbursement rates beyond their means. » Obamacare imposes a huge nonmedical tax compliance burden on small business. It will require them to mail IRS 1099 tax forms to every vendor from whom they make purchases of more than $600 in a year, with duplicate forms going to the Internal Revenue Service. Like so much else in the 2,500-page bill, our senators and representatives were apparently unaware of this when they passed the measure. » Obamacare allows the IRS to confiscate part or all of your tax refund if you do not purchase a qualified insurance plan. The bill funds 16,000 new IRS agents to make sure Americans stay in line.

NASA administrator Bolden is traveling to promoting Islam

NASA administrator Bolden is devoting much of his time to promoting Islam. What? NASA, the outfit that sends men to the Moon, etc.? Yes. President O told NASA Administrator Bolden that his very highest priorities included assuring the Islamic countries that it was they were instrumental in the success of the USA in putting men on the Moon. I can't exaggerate this. Obama really did. Obama pushes Islam science
President Obama told NASA administrator Bolden that one of his three top priorities was to help the Muslim world feel good about their contribution to science, mathematics and engineering.
Bolden is hard at work doing what Obambi ordered. Not just meetings, but traveling to Saudi Arabia. Orlando Sentinel
At the same time, Bolden -- against the advice of several top NASA officials -- intends to lead a high-level agency delegation to Saudi Arabia this weekend to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the first Arab astronaut's shuttle flight. The planned visit comes just a few months after Bolden told the Middle East news outlet Al Jazeera that one of the top three priorities assigned to him by President Barack Obama was to "find a way to reach out to the Muslim world" – a remark that ignited Obama's conservative critics and forced the White House to spend much of July trying to defend and explain Bolden's comments.
But, despite President O, there are people in NASA who focus on the mission of space and air science. But they are muzzled. They can't speak on the record.
Another trip to the Middle East, coupled with the report about Bolden's ethical misconduct, could create new controversy at a time when the administration is trying to reach agreement with Congress on the future of NASA's human-space program. Congress has balked at Obama's desire to cancel the Constellation moon rocket program and rely on commercial spacecraft to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station. A Senate-passed compromise plan has stalled. "Administrator Bolden continues to be not only a distraction for the administration, but most importantly to the mission of NASA," said an administration official, who is not authorized to speak on the record, about Monday's reprimand. The official could not recall another incident in which a similarly high-level leader was so publicly reprimanded.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I-1098, for a state Income Tax, gets huge support from public-employee unions

Do you have the impression that the anti-income-tax people are only high income fat cats? The Seattle Times emphasizes their donations and again. But take a closer look; look past the headlines. The unions are putting more money into the pro campaign than the high income people are. And little people are also putting their money into the anti-income-tax campaign. The support is a few groups, but the opposition is a lot of individuals. Here are the data on donations the defeat campaign found at the state Public Disclosure Commission. Shown at Defeat1098.com.
Overall total amount raised: Defeat 1098 - $3,495,256 Yes on 1098 - $3,610,096 known as WASHINGTONIANS FOR EDUCATION HEALTH & TAX RELIEF Total contributions: Defeat 1098 – 2,367 Yes on 1098 – 531
"Defeat" has far more donors (above) and small donations, below.
Contributions $25 or less: Defeat 1098 - 887 Yes on 1098 - 189 Average contribution amount: Defeat 1098 - $1,477 Yes on 1098 - $6,799 Overall total from SEIU union: Defeat 1098 – $0 Yes on 1098 - $1,359,080 Overall total from unions: Defeat 1098 - $0 Yes on 1098 - $2,045,728
The public-employee unions are giving more money than the high-income people - over $1 million from Service Employees International Union and $100,000 each from the Washington Education Association and the Washington Federation of State Employees. Money from their members, of course.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Why do people think Obama is a Muslim?

President O and his family went to church for the third (3rd) time in a year, but not to worship God through Jesus Christ, like Christians do. Obama went to hear a Muslim speak. Muslim at a Christian church? Yes The Post and Email
... They went on foot to the St. John’s Episcopal Church situated across the Lafayette Park. But what is widely not reported by the White House and the MSM is that on that particular Sunday in that particular church, Dr. Ziad Asali, M.D., a Muslim, founder and president of the American Task Force on Palestine, was the guest speaker. He was there to speak on the subject of “Prospects of the two-state solution in the Middle-East.”

St. Johns Church special events

Obama has his priorities. Take a look: Islam is high. How does it look? Who is surprised that people think he is a Muslim?

Trails in Puget Sound and north

Washington Trails Association is the group of active hikers who help maintain trails and want to attract more. They have information about trails online. Washington Trails Association web site Wylie Slough on Fir Island in the Skagit Delta Lots of water fowl from autumn to spring, starring the snow geese, but avoid hunting season. Anacortes trails on Fidalgo Island Anacortes, as well as salt water all around, has 2,200 acres of forest area including numerous short hikes, there is something here for everybody. Families can take the short trail 20 to Whistle Lake, while others can plan a route to include several of the features of the area that include a summit with a view of Puget Sound, several lakes, and even a bog. Chuckanut Drive just south of Bellingham Oyster Dome is high above the Chukanut sandstone north of Puget Sound.* * I am a purist on the location of Puget Sound. Its north end is Admiralty Inlet between Port Townsend and Admiralty Head in the Fort Casey/Ebey area of Whidbey Island.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Holder's Justice Dept found wanting

Attorney General Eric Holder has politicized our Justice Department beyond belief. Nothing is straight with the Chicago mob. Now he has been publicly embarrassed for the incompetence that his cross purposes have caused - among other thing. Wash Times The Justice Department's Civil Rights Division has lurched from multiple controversies into an outright embarrassment. In an order issued Sept. 16, U.S. District Judge John D. Batesof the District of Columbia gave Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.'s team the legal equivalent of a 2-by-4 across the head. The department's handling of a voting rights case from Shelby County, Ala., has been so slipshod as to invite questions of its legal competence across the board. Shelby County is challenging the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act's Section 5, an increasingly problematic requirement that election jurisdictions in several states, mostly Southern, secure "pre-clearance" from Justice for any change in voting practices. This includes minor details such as moving a polling place from a school gym to its cafeteria. The county writes, "in the last 10 years, [it] has sought pre-clearance numerous times, expended significant taxpayer dollars, time and energy to meet its obligations under Section 5 of the VRA, and has had at least one election delayed in order to ensure compliance." In a 2009 decision in a case from Austin, Texas, the Supreme Court barely saved Section 5 by deciding the case on narrower grounds while expressing doubts about its constitutionality. The Alabama county in the current case wants to decide the question once and for all. The Justice Department loves Section 5 because it gives federal bureaucrats immense discretionary power. Last month, it dropped a Section 5 case against Georgia rather than risk having Section 5 declared unconstitutional. In the Alabama case, it tried to avoid questions over constitutionality by using diversionary arguments, which Judge Bates eviscerated as "fishing expeditions." On the department's request for evidentiary discovery, the judge wrote, "The parties have pointed to no authority, and the Court is unaware of any, that would support discovery under such circumstances." Rejecting an argument by Justice, Judges Bates wrote in the county's favor that "a contrary conclusion would be absurd." The Heritage Foundation's Hans von Spakovsky and Roger Clegg of the Center for Equal Opportunity observed, "The almost frivolous arguments raised by the Holder Justice Department to delay this case are just another example of how badly (and unprofessionally) that department is being run." Indeed, a competent Justice Department wouldn't get slapped down so definitively. In ordering Shelby County's case forward, Judge Bates served notice that the law takes precedence over raw assertions of privileged federal authority.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

"Everybody Draw" cartoonist goes into hiding

Seattle cartoonist Molly Norris, who initiated "Everybody draw Mohammed day" last spring, has gone into hiding due to death threats. Seattle Weekly, where she was published, says the FBI recommended that she relocate and change her name and entire identity. How about those who are threatening her. Do they get to continue life as usual? Talk about chilling our First Amendment freedom of speech. Seattle Weekly

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Cash for clunkers cost a lot for no benefit

As we guessed, there were no additional purchases of cars and trucks. Just the same number were purchased earlier. And we had to borrow billions from our future. Economists Atif Mian, Amir Sufi at NBER
... We find that the program induced the purchase of an additional 360,000 cars in July and August of 2009. However, almost all of the additional purchases under the program were pulled forward from the very near future; the effect of the program on auto purchases is almost completely reversed by as early as March 2010 – only seven months after the program ended.
Who claims ownership of this mess? Via Marginal Revolution.

Goolsbee got a new job; Has to lie

Austin Goolsbee has a long, honored career as an economist - a left-oriented one. Economix Blog But now he is working for Obama. He is off to a bad start if you listen to his words. Shreveport Times So does his new job mean he has to lie? Sunday he said: When VP Biden called it the "Summer of Recovery" he did not mean more jobs. Fox News
"The vice president was talking about the summer of recovery in reference to the Recovery Act, that you would see the creation of a series of infrastructure and other projects ramping up over the summer," Goolsbee said on "Fox News Sunday." "And you did see that." ... Goolsbee, though, said it would be "unfair" to suggest the "summer of recovery" was undermined by the jobs numbers
Biden has been saying new projects mean more jobs: ("Summer of Recovery" at White House - pdf)
But Summer 2010 will be the most active Recovery Act season yet for projects, ensuring a steady impact on jobs well into the fall and through the end of the year. Unlike previous seasons, when Recovery Act investments in tax relief and payments were driving economic rescue and recovery, Summer 2010 will be marked by thousands of highly-visible infrastructure projects across the country. Construction projects will continue to accelerate on roads, parks, buildings, and homes across the country. As summer construction season kicks into high gear, commitments made late last year to infrastructure investments will transition from committed dollars into tangible action—thousands of projects will break ground and thousands more will increase activity and hiring. The impact on the economy and job creation is far from complete. The Recovery Act is already responsible for up to 2.8 million jobs as of the first quarter of 2010, but this summer surge in projects will put it on-track for at least 3.5 million by the end of this year.
Biden's claim is hugely undercut by the jobs numbers. But it's your job, Professor, to cover for VP Bite Me, I mean, Biden. See also Fox News fact check.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Workers' paradise Cuba will lay off workers

Their system is not working. Fidel himself admitted it recently. So Cuba has announced that they are going to cut back government jobs and allow some private sector; now there is almost no private sector. Small businesses were outlawed in 1968. {It's impossible to stop all private enterprise - how do you stop Rita out in the country from selling eggs to her neighbors. Fidel tried to. But when a dictator tries to stop people from doing something it's ugly.) Reuters
Cuba will lay off more than 500,000 state employees by March and expand private employment to give them work in the biggest shift to the private sector since the 1960s, the Cuban Workers Federation said on Monday. Eventually more than a million jobs would be cut and, due to efforts to increase efficiency in the state sector, there would be few new state sector openings, the federation said in a statement. More than 85 percent of the Cuban labor force, or over 5 million people, works for the Soviet-styled one-party state, many of them in unproductive work. "Our state cannot and should not continue maintaining companies, productive entities, services and budgeted sectors with bloated payrolls (and) losses that hurt the economy," the statement said. "Job options will be increased and broadened with new forms of non-state employment, among them leasing land, cooperatives and self-employment, absorbing hundreds of thousands of workers in the coming years," it said. The plan is the most important reform undertaken by President Raul Castro since he succeeded his brother Fidel Castro in 2008 and the biggest shift to private enterprise since all small businesses were nationalized in 1968. The younger Castro indicated last month that reform was coming to reduce the inefficiency of the Cuban economy. "We have to erase forever the notion that Cuba is the only country in the world in which people can live without working," Castro said, upon announcing in general terms his plans to cut state payrolls and increase self employment in an August speech to the National Assembly. According to Communist party sources who have seen the detailed plan to "reorganize the labor force," Cuba expects to issue 250,000 new licenses for self-employment by the close of 2011, almost twice the current number, and create 200,000 other non-state jobs. ...

Castro says Cuban model doesn't work

Cuba's economic system does not work. The evidence is obvious to everyone but high-income Americans and Europeans: Fidel Castro cannot feed his people; the shelves are empty at the grocery store. Latin American Studies - CNN

Hospitals don't have basic medical supplies. [TheRealCuba] The streets are a museum of cars from the 1950s.

Cuba doesn't work. Now Fidel Castro, the father of all Cubans, says so.
Castro [when asked] in an interview two weeks ago in Havana if the Cuban economic model was still worth exporting and he replied, "The Cuban model doesn't even work for us anymore." - Reuters
Fidel tried to back off from his own words. But reporter Jeffrey Goldberg sticks by his report - that he quoted Fidel accurately and in context.
Jeffrey Goldberg, a correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly magazine, said Castro, 84, had made similar statements before and that economic changes under way on the communist-led island made it "a truism that the Cuban model isn't working."
The photo: Empty shelves at a grocery store in Cuba.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Obama's HHS Sectretary threatens those who see increase in health care costs

Barone is shook up... HHS Secretary Sibelius will not allow insurers to say anything negative. And she has a big stick. This is Gangster government. Townhall "There will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases." That sounds like a stern headmistress dressing down some sophomores who have been misbehaving. But it's actually from a letter sent Thursday from Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to Karen Ignagni, president of America's Health Insurance Plans -- the chief lobbyist for private health insurance companies. Sebelius objects to claims by health insurers that they are raising premiums because of increased costs imposed by the Obamacare law passed by Congress last March. She acknowledges that many of the law's "key protections" take effect later this month and does not deny that these impose additional costs on insurers. But she says that "according to our analysis and those of some industry and academic experts, any potential premium impact ... will be minimal." Well, that's reassuring. Er, except that if that's the conclusion of "some" industry and academic experts, it's presumably not the conclusion of all industry and academic experts, or the secretary would have said so. Sebelius also argues that "any premium increases will be moderated by out-of-pocket savings resulting from the law." But she's pretty vague about the numbers -- "up to $1 billion in 2013." Anyone who watches TV ads knows that "up to" can mean zero. As Time magazine's Karen Pickert points out, Sebelius ignores the fact that individual insurance plans cover different types of populations. So that government and "some" industry and academic experts think the new law will justify increases averaging 1 percent or 2 percent, they could justify much larger increases for certain plans. Or as Ignagni, the recipient of the letter, says, "It's a basic law of economics that additional benefits incur additional costs." But Sebelius has "zero tolerance" for that kind of thing. She promises to issue regulations to require "state or federal review of all potentially unreasonable rate increases" (which would presumably mean all rate increases). And there's a threat. "We will also keep track of insurers with a record of unjustified rate increases: those plans may be excluded from health insurance Exchanges in 2014." That's a significant date, the first year in which state insurance exchanges are slated to get a monopoly on the issuance of individual health insurance policies. Sebelius is threatening to put health insurers out of business in a substantial portion of the market if they state that Obamacare is boosting their costs. "Congress shall make no law," reads the First Amendment, "abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press."

Health care costs will rise despite Obama promises

But, but... President Obama promised I could keep my current insurance and ... He PROMISED. And he said he would use ideas from the Republicans... But Friday he said you people just don't understand. It's all very complicated and he tried. But see how he failed to fulfill his promises. Look at the analysis from his own Medicare Office of the Actuary Big G
President Barack Obama told voters repeatedly during the health care debate that the overhaul legislation would bring down fast-rising health care costs and save them money. Now, he's hemming and hawing on that. So far, the law he signed earlier this year hasn't had the desired effect. An analysis from Medicare's Office of the Actuary this week said that the nation's health care tab will go up -- not down -- through 2019 as a result of Obama's sweeping law, though the increase is modest. Obama offered some caveats when asked in his news conference Friday about the apparent discrepancy between what he promised and what's actually happening so far. On several other topics, too, his rhetoric fell short of a full accounting. A look at some of the claims at his news conference and how they compare with the facts: [Last Friday] Obama: Said he never expected to extend insurance coverage to an additional 31 million people "for free." He added that "we've made huge progress" if medical inflation could be brought down to the level of overall inflation, or somewhere slightly above that. The facts: Those claims may be supported in the fine print of the plan he pitched to Congress and a skeptical public months ago. But they were rarely heard back then. "My proposal would bring down the cost of health care for millions -- families, businesses and the federal government," he declared in March. Last August he predicted: "The American people are going to be glad that we acted to change an unsustainable system so that more people have coverage, we're bending the cost curve, and we're getting insurance reforms." On Friday, he conceded: "Bending the cost curve on health care is hard to do." The goal: "Slowly bring down those costs." The White House contends that although health care costs will rise when most of the changes take hold in 2014 and coverage is extended to the uninsured, costs will go down over the longer term as controls kick in. [Friday] Obama: "We took every idea out there about how to reduce or at least slow the costs of health care over time." The facts: One idea that most experts believe would do the most to control health costs -- directly taxing health benefits -- was missing in Obama's plan. Opposition from unions and others was too great, and Obama himself had campaigned against the idea. Some of the major cost controllers that did make it into the law -- including a tax on high-value insurance plans -- don't start until 2018. That tax was watered down and delayed, and other cost-control approaches also softened after opposition from hospitals and other interest groups. Health spending already accounts for about 17 percent of the economy and is projected to grow to nearly 20 percent in 2019. ...
The President promised and the President did not deliver.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

White House aides owe $831,000 in back taxes

They really think they are different. You and I work and pay taxes. They ride free who work in our federal government. LA Times Top of the Ticket blog Over the years a lot of suspicion has built up across the country about Washington and its population of opportunistic transients coming to see themselves as a special kind of person, somehow above average working Americans who don't labor down in that monument-strewn former swamp. Well, finally, an end to all those undocumented doubts. Thanks to some diligent digging by the Washington Post, those suspicions can at last be put to rest. They're correct. Accurate. Dead-on. Laser-guided. On target. Bingo-bango. As clear as it's always seemed to those Americans who don't feel special entitlements and do meet their government obligations. We now know that federal employees across the nation owe fully $1 billion in back taxes to the Internal Revenue Service. As in, 1,000 times one million dollars. All this political jabber about giving middle-class ... ... Americans a tax cut. Thousands of feds have been giving themselves one all along -- unofficially. And these tax scofflaws include more than three dozen folks who work for the president with that newly decorated Oval Office. The Post's T.W. Farnum did some research and found that out of the total sum, just 638 workers on Capitol Hill owe the IRS $9.3 million in back taxes. As in, overdue. The IRS gets stiffed by the legislative body that controls its budget. How Washington works. Now, back taxes have been a problem for the Obama-Biden administration. You may recall early on that Tom Daschle was the president's top pick to run the Health and Human Services Department. But it turned out the former Democratic senator, who was un-elected from South Dakota in 2004, owed something like $120,000 to the IRS for things from his subsequent benefactor that he just forgot to pay taxes on. You know how that is. $120G's here or there. So he dropped out. And then we learned this guy Timothy Geithner owed something like $42,000 in back taxes and penalties to the IRS, which is one of the agencies that he'd be in charge of as secretary of the Treasury. The fine fellow who's supposed to know about handling everyone else's money. In the end this was excused by Washington's bipartisan CYA culture as one of those inadvertent accidental oversights that somehow never seem to happen on the side of paying too much taxes. And under Geithner's expert guidance the U.S. economy has been, well, wow! Just look at it. Privacy laws prevent release of individual tax delinquents' names. But we do know that as of the end of 2009, 41 people inside Obama's very own White House owe the government they're allegedly running a total of $831,055 in back taxes. That would cover a lot of special chocolate desserts in the White House Mess. In the House of Representatives, 421 people owe a total $6,524,892. In the Senate, 217 owe $2,774,836. In the IRS' parent department, Treasury, 1,204 owe $7,670,814. At the Labor Department, where Secretary Hilda Solis' husband had some back-tax problems before her confirmation, 463 owe $7,481,463. Eighty-one workers for the Federal Reserve System's board of governors owe $1,076,733. Over at the Justice Department, which is so busy enforcing other laws and suing Arizona, 1,971 employees still owe $14,350,152 in overdue taxes. Then, we come to the Department of Homeland Security, which is run by Janet Napolitano, the former governor of Arizona who preferred to call terrorist acts "man-caused disasters." Homeland Security is keeping all of us safe by ensuring that a Dutch tourist is aboard every inbound international flight to thwart any would-be bomber with explosives in his underpants. Within that department, there reside 4,856 people who owe the tax agency a whopping total of $37,012,174. And they're checking our pockets for metal and coins?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Museum of History and Industry

Our beloved MOHAI, the museum of Seattle history, has to move - and wants to. Mohai needs every dollar it can get to pull it off.

Seattle Mayor McGinn announced he opposes $7 million agreed to by the city parks commissioner. I can see McGinn's side, but I hope the money is approved. The $7 mil was agreed to while things were/are moving - less money from the Feds, more money from the State, etc.

Some are portraying this as reneging on an agreement, but the parks commissioner can't commit the city's funds and didn't. It requires a vote of the city council.

Money is tight, but I hope it's approved.


Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Congress closes another factory and sends jobs overseas

Congress caused a factory to close this month and the jobs to go overseas. GE has a factory in Winchester, VA, that makes incandescent light bulbs. Does until the end of September. Then it will close due to an act of Congress and 200 people will see their jobs shipped overseas. In 2007 Congress made the big decision for you*. Instead of each of us making the decision to save money by consuming less electricity for lighting, Big Brother took away our choice. They outlawed the incandescent light bulb invented by Thomas Edison in the 1870s. Now we all have to buy the CFL bulbs that are all made overseas or find another alternative. And CFLs are hazardous; they contain mercury, which is toxic. Keep them out of the house. No, can't - act of Congress. Ask candidates for Congress why sent these jobs overseas. And why they require us to use hazardous lighting in our homes. Washington Post * HR 6: Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 Technicality: This law does not outlaw incandescent bulbs, but puts in place standards that don't allow their use.

Monday, September 06, 2010

School named after AlGore and Rachel Carson built on toxic soil

Albert Gore, Jr., will certainly be honored to know that a (the?) grade school in Los Angeles named for him sits on toxic soil. Newsbusters A new school will be opening in Los Angeles next Monday that is named after Nobel Laureate Al Gore and Rachel Carson, the woman almost single-handedly responsible for DDT being banned in the '70s. Even more delicious than the names associated with the new $75.5-million Carson-Gore Academy of Environmental Sciences is that it was built on land thought to be highly-contaminated with various chemicals which could pose a threat to students. As the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday:
Critics say the campus' location poses a long-term health risk to students and staff. School district officials insist that the Arlington Heights property is clean and safe. And they've pledged to check vapor monitors and groundwater wells to make sure. [...] "Renaming this terribly contaminated school after famous environmental advocates is an affront to the great work that these individuals have done to protect the public's health from harm," an environmental coalition wrote in a letter to the Los Angeles Unified School District. Making sure the school is safe "would be an even better way to honor their contribution to society." Construction crews were working at the campus up to the Labor Day weekend, replacing toxic soil with clean fill. All told, workers removed dirt from two 3,800-square-foot plots to a depth of 45 feet, space enough to hold a four-story building. The soil had contained more than a dozen underground storage tanks serving light industrial businesses. Additional contamination may have come from the underground tanks of an adjacent gas station. A barrier will stretch 45 feet down from ground level to limit future possible fuel leakage. An oil well operates across the street, but officials said they've found no associated risks. Like many local campuses, this school also sits above an oil field, but no oil field-related methane has been detected. Groundwater about 45 feet below the surface remains contaminated but also poses no risk, officials said.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Teachers union agrees that Senator Patty didn't save teacher jobs

Senator Patty Murray said she was saving 3,000 Washington teachers from layoffs by spending billions of borrowed dollars (nationwide; $208 million here). It was discovered and reported here that about 500 teachers received layoff notices in May and most of those notices were rescinded, so very few teachers faced job loss in early August when Senator Patty performed her heroic rescue. See SENATOR PATTY HEROICALLY SAVES JOBS NOT THREATENED and Part II. The Washington Education Association rushes to her defense: Senator Murray meant to say that janitors, bus drivers, lunchroom workers, counselors, nurses, teacher aides and administrative assistants would be saved from layoff or empty positions filled. Seattle Times Letters
Recent reports in The Seattle Times on the impact of the educator jobs bill overlook the number of education-support professional positions lost over the past 18 months. Hundreds of school counselors, nurses, bus drivers, teacher aides, janitors and administrative assistants have either been laid off or their positions were not filled due to attrition. As a result, we will see too many schools this fall with too many students and too few adults to mentor, coach, mentor, teach and support those students. Through her efforts to bring $208 million into Washington for educator jobs, Sen. Patty Murray is giving school districts the opportunity to fill hundreds of empty positions not reported in teacher-layoff numbers [“Murray errs on teachers’ jobs at risk,” page one, Aug. 24]. The Times reports did refer to the erosion of certificated positions. That erosion will have a lasting impact. We should not ignore, however, the other positions lost. These are important positions for every school and the impact of their loss to our students must be equally concerning. — Mary Lindquist, president, Washington Education Association, Federal Way
In this time of slow economy and cut backs what should be the priority in our schools? Teachers or bus drivers? Should we spend money we don't have for staff who are not in the classroom? Senator Patty got the bill passed on false pretenses. Now the money can be spent for almost anything, as we saw in Part II. Old trick. Hat tip: Washington Policy Institute's blog

Feds cleared Arizona sheriff, then started investigation

Attorney General Eric Holder has made a public spectacle of suing Arizona for enforcing law and, separately, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Holder is investigating Sheriff Arpaio despite a prior investigation giving his force and their operation a clean bill and high marks. So why is Holder investigating? Chicago politics? Bryon York describes the prior investigation by ICE - Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. Washington Examiner
... ICE officials evaluated how the sheriff's office performed under a law that allows specially trained local law enforcement officers to enforce parts of federal immigration law. The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, which is the largest sheriff's office in the Arizona, has 189 officers who have been trained by ICE to enforce federal immigration statutes. The report, crammed with acronyms and bureaucratese, is not light reading. But struggle through it, and the key sentence is this: "The OI and DRO supervisors consider the conduct and performance of the MCSO ... officers to be professional and meeting the requirement of the MOA." Translated, that means officials from the Homeland Security Department's Office of Investigation (OI), along with officials from the Detention and Removal Operations office (DRO), concluded that the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MCSO), in its handling of illegal immigrants, acted in a professional manner and complied with a memorandum of agreement (MOA) under which the government gave them the authority to enforce federal law. That agreement included a ban on racial profiling. ICE investigators also interviewed top federal officials involved in illegal immigrant cases in Arizona. They found an "excellent" working relationship between the sheriff's office and the feds. ICE talked as well to federal prosecutors in Phoenix, who described the cases brought by Maricopa County as "high quality." In all, it's a quite positive assessment of an operation that just six months later would come under the Justice Department's microscope for alleged civil rights violations. It also lends indirect support to Arpaio's contention that the Justice Department investigation is politically motivated.
Show us the data, Mr. Holder. All of it. Why does the investigation with high marks lead to a new investigation?

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

You are a bigot. Now vote for me

Quite a strategy: The Demos tell you you are a bigot if you disagree with any of their cherished policies. And you, bigot, are supposed to vote for the name callers, not the conservatives you agree with. Derek Hunter at Big Government
Are you opposed to Obamacare or illegal immgration? You’re a racist. Are you opposed to gay marriage? You’re a homophobe. Did you oppose Elana Kagan’s appointment to the Supreme Court? You’re a sexist. After less than two years of complete Democrat control of government, there aren’t many Americas progressives haven’t accused of some sort of bigotry for simply having an opinion different from theirs. The politics of “hope” and “change” have devolved into exactly what those espousing them claimed they would end. Is this really Democrat’s plan to win votes in November? Barack Obama campaigned under the banner of unity and ending the “politics of division.” But that banner was swiftly furled and the true banner of progressive politics began flying over our country. Progressivism leaves no room for debate or disagreement. To paraphrase former President Bush, to progressives you’re either with them or you’re with the enemy. During the Obamacare debate, opponents were compared to opponents of civil rights legislation. The ethically challenged Congressman from New York, Charlie Rangel, said “The group that were in Washington fighting against the health bill and fighting against the President, [they] looked just like and sounded just like those groups that attacked the civil rights movement in the South.” Left-wing blogs ran with this mantra and agenda-driven media outlets like MSNBC dutifully followed. They still advance the lie that African-American Members of Congress were pelted with racial slurs as they walked to cast their vote, something even the New York Times has acknowledged there is zero evidence of. The ends justify the means, no matter how sickening and divisive the means. ...