tvm's blog

Calling a spade a spade

From Townhall:

From Hot Air:

Civility’ just a ruse to neuter Republicans, BY THE RIGHT SCOOP

The civility narrative that grew legs after the shooting in Arizona is really just a ruse to keep Republicans from calling Democrats what America knows they are – Socialists....

[....]

The bottom line here is that Republicans simply need to stop mincing words and continue to remind Americans just how destructive these radicals are to this great country. If they do that, along with some great legislating, I assure you that Americans will respond in 2012 just as they did in 2010.

As they say in the blogosphere, RTR ("read the rest").

Stand strong, Republicans!

UPDATE: This very piece by The Right Scoop ended up being the subject of a debate between Megyn Kelly and Alan Colmes.

Redistricting--Discover the Networks

The NY League of Women Voters (LWV) held redistricting information sessions today in Ithaca. Their PowerPoint presentation may be found here, and the position paper supporting it here.

The "Discover the Networks" in the post title refers to David Horowitz's website of that name, which is described as "a guide to the political left." It's a treasure trove, a veritable candy store, of information about all those groups and individuals that you always suspected were connected, only you weren't sure how. Now you'll know. The national LWV has its very own page here. Enjoy.

Killing that goose

Tags:

From Cato:

"Businesses — and hence, jobs — over time tend to migrate, other things being equal, from high-tax to lower-tax jurisdictions — and this is true both among states and countries. Many politicians — particularly those from California, Illinois and New York — seem unable to grasp this simple economic concept."

This was certainly true last year when NYS legislators only as a last resort dropped a proposal which would have forced hedge fund managers who work in New York but live out of state to pay higher taxes on their share of profits.

In fact, Connecticut's governor, Jodi Rell, had added ammunition to the concerns of NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others by using the proposal as a recruitment tool, launching what was generally described as "the hedge fund border wars." But the NYS legislators did, in the end, figure out that the tax they were proposing would kill not only NYS business and jobs but ultimately NYS tax receipts.

Same concept, larger scale, thanks to a corporate tax rate that's the highest in the world:

Tax holiday may 'repatriate $1 trillion from offshore havens

By Bloomberg News, Thursday, December 30, 2010

At the White House on Dec. 15, business executives asked President Obama for a tax holiday that would help them tap more than $1 trillion of offshore earnings, much of it sitting in island tax havens.

The money -- including hundreds of billions in profits that U.S. companies attribute to overseas subsidiaries to avoid taxes -- is supposed to be taxed at up to 35 percent when it's brought home, or "repatriated." Executives including John T. Chambers of Cisco Systems Inc. contend a tax break would return a flood of cash and boost the economy.

This has been tried before successfully:

In 2004, a tax holiday allowed multinationals to return profits to the United States at a tax rate of 5.25 percent. They brought home $362 billion, with $312 billion qualifying for the relief, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

So applying a 5% tax rate, say, to the $1 trillion that's currently sitting offshore would in theory yield a $50 billion "take" (as opposed to no take at all as it stands now). But in practice it might not prove to be quite that lucrative:

"Sophisticated U.S. companies are routinely repatriating hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign earnings and paying trivially small U.S. taxes on those repatriations," said Edward D. Kleinbard, a law professor at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles....

They're aided by a cadre of attorneys, accountants and investment bankers in the tax-planning industry.

"Some of the best minds in the country are spent all day, every day, wheedling nickels and dimes out of the tax system," said H. David Rosenbloom, an attorney at Caplin & Drysdale in Washington, and director of the international tax program at New York University's school of law.

So yet another cost of the high corporate tax rate and the complexity of the tax code in general is the misallocation of intellectual resources that results.  But I digress.

Another negative impact of the high corporate tax rate: John P. Kennedy, a partner at Deloitte Tax LLP, speaking at a conference in Philadelphia

...warned that booking large portions of income overseas can mean "you are going to strand so much cash offshore that your business chokes." That's because the foreign profits cannot be used for such purposes as building domestic factories without triggering federal tax.

Obviously, in the end, a tax holiday

..."is a short-term fix to a long-term problem, which is the uncompetitive U.S. tax structure," said Cisco spokeswoman Jennifer Greeson Dunn.

Nevertheless, a tax holiday would generate a sizable infusion of cash to the economy, both in terms of "repatriating" funds for investment purposes and in terms of tax receipts.  

As for the long-term picture, folks from Aesop to Ayn Rand have recognized that killing the goose that lays the golden eggs is suicidal, both personally and societally.  High tax rates kill business, which in turn eliminates jobs, ultimately leading to lower, rather than higher, tax receipts.  Why can't the powers-that-be see this? I think I know the answer, but that's another post.

on a tip from Tom.

Of cuts and cutlets

When spending>receipts, that=deficit.  And when there's year after year after year of deficits and you're a state, that leads to California, Illinois, and....New York.

A few days ago, the NYT ran this story:

Path Is Sought for States to Escape Debt Burdens

By MARY WILLIAMS WALSH, Published: January 20, 2011

Policy makers are working behind the scenes to come up with a way to let states declare bankruptcy and get out from under crushing debts, including the pensions they have promised to retired public workers.

Unlike cities, the states are barred from seeking protection in federal bankruptcy court. Any effort to change that status would have to clear high constitutional hurdles because the states are considered sovereign.

But proponents say some states are so burdened that the only feasible way out may be bankruptcy, giving Illinois, for example, the opportunity to do what General Motors did with the federal government’s aid.

Beyond their short-term budget gaps, some states have deep structural problems, like insolvent pension funds, that are diverting money from essential public services like education and health care. Some members of Congress fear that it is just a matter of time before a state seeks a bailout, say bankruptcy lawyers who have been consulted by Congressional aides...

In addition to the question of whether or not a sovereign state can declare bankruptcy under the Constitution, there are other issues such as how much credibility such states will have in bond markets in the future, the constitutionality of the judicial branch directing the actions of the executive and legislative branches, what to do re: public employee pensions that are actually enshrined in state constitutions, the moral hazard involved if spendthrift states are allowed to declare bankruptcy—lots of grist for the blogging mill.

Reuters reported today, however, that 

U.S. House of Representatives Majority Leader Eric Cantor said...that he does not support any federal bailouts for states or allowing them to declare bankruptcy.

Cantor, speaking to reporters, was reacting to reports last week that some fellow Republican members of Congress were preparing legislation allowing cash-strapped states to declare bankruptcy.

"I don't think that that is necessary because state governments have at their disposal the requisite tools to address their fiscal ills," Cantor said.

Last week, Newt Gingrich, the conservative Republican and former House Speaker, told Reuters that legislation was being prepared in Congress to let states declare bankruptcy -- an idea that the potential 2012 presidential candidate had been talking up.

Gingrich's remarks came despite resistance from states and investors in the $2.8 trillion municipal bond market to such a move.

I don't have a crystal ball so I don't know how this will play out—bankruptcies, bailouts, just plain collapse—but ultimately, spending will have to be massively cut back. And as soon as you start talking spending cuts, the "why-do-you-hate-(fill in the blank—children, old people, animals, fresh air, clean water...)" groups start crawling out from under every available rock. To wit:

New group joins N.Y. school aid fight

BY MICHAEL GORMLEY •THE ASSOCIATED PRESS • JANUARY 22, 2011, 8:25 PM

ALBANY, N.Y. -- A new, well-financed partnership plying both fundamentals of democracy and modern high-stakes lobbying plans to bring Albany's fight over public school aid into New Yorkers' homes.

The Alliance for Quality Education, a school advocacy group that helped unseat some incumbent senators in November, is joining with the powerful New York State United Teachers union to protect school funding....

"This is a different approach to politics," said Billy Easton of AQE. "This is based on the idea that all politics is local and the best way we can influence the outcome here in Albany is what we do on the ground in people's districts, and how successful we are in engaging communities in what's happening," Easton told The Associated Press.

NYSUT is providing AQE with $425,000 for use over four months to pay for staff in several counties statewide, many represented by potentially vulnerable senators. The funding will pay for rallies, local news events, phone banks to build pressure on Albany, mailings and door-to-door campaigns. It aims to mobilize clergy, parents, teachers and community leaders around their schools.

Seven more full-time organizers will operate from new offices....

But what Easton calls "bottom-up pressure" isn't aimed at Cuomo....

"Bottom-up pressure"? Shades of Van Jones? But whether this spokesman is a true believer or is just jerking our chains, it's true that AQE will certainly benefit from the largesse of NYSUT.  

Now maybe education and how it's funded is not your pet peeve.  Maybe it's something else that really hacks you off.  But no matter what it is that makes you mad, the pattern is always the same—the other side always seems to have a sugar daddy, whether an individual or a group, with deep pockets who makes it possible for them to pursue their agenda while we have—chicken BBQs.  Now don't get me wrong—I like chicken BBQs as much as anyone. But really—where is our NYSUT? Why are we always limping along trying to scrape together minimal resources when the opposition never seems to be hurting for cash or warm bodies to get the work done? Anybody?

A Stunning Upset in Washington State

From American Thinker:

This weekend the Washington State GOP dumped its chairman and elected longtime radio host - and serious pro-life conservative - Kirby Wilbur to lead the Party into the 2012 elections.

Washington State is divided politically, as well as geographically, by the Cascade range of mountains.  On the East side of the Cascades, often called "the other Washington," the state is solidly and reliably Republican.  On the West side of the Cascades -- which is to say, Seattle -- the state is about halfway between left-wing Socialist and middle-of-the-road Commie.... Since a few more voters live West of the Cascades than East of the Cascades, GOP candidates usually lose statewide elections....

For more than two decades now, a civil war has raged within the State GOP.  The grass roots has been conservative, while the party leadership -- known to grass roots Republicans as the Bellevue Establishment, and led by former US Senator Slade Gorton, who hails from the Bellevue suburb of Seattle -- has been, well, establishment.  During the 2010 election cycle, Gorton and his Establishment cronies stubbornly refused to acknowledge the Tea Party movement, and ignored its candidates....

Now the grass roots Republicans have risen up and wrested control of the GOP from the Bellevue Establishment.  Out here, this is nothing short of a revolution....

Just sayin'...

UPDATE: Ditto New Hampshire, Arizona, and Oregon.

DRAC, Shelly, Redford, & Soros

Which of these things in the post title is not like the others?  Trick question.  They're all related.

DRAC is the Dryden Resource Awareness Coalition, a local group of folks who attend town meetings and so forth to express their opinion that fracking is bad (h/t Kathy).  Fair enough—they're certainly allowed to say what they think (as we are) and since the science on this doesn't appear to be settled, they provide a useful viewpoint.

But, as always when trying to get to the bottom of a tangled heap such as fracking, we should be asking cui bono, who benefits?  In answer to that question, the DRAC people and similar groups round up the usual suspects —the landowners who signed the leases, the fracking companies themselves as well as all of their suppliers, the nameless, faceless evil fat cats—you know the drill, so to speak.  But wait, there's more!—from the NY Post             (h/t Tom):

Shelly's $hale game    His law firm pushes gas-drill 'frack' suits

By BRENDAN SCOTT Post correspondent, Last Updated: 7:56 PM, January 17, 2011

ALBANY -- As Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver leads the fight to block a type of natural-gas drilling in New York, his private law firm is in other states trying to drum up multimillion-dollar lawsuits against the practice, The Post has found.

The speaker's massive Manhattan-based personal-injury law firm, Weitz & Luxenberg, plans a pair of public forums this week in Pennsylvania and West Virginia to "listen to the concerns of the community, share information and discuss legal options" about the gas-exploration phenomenon known as "hydrofracking" or "fracking."....

Silver (D-Manhattan) -- citing risks of water contamination by chemical byproducts from the process -- has emerged as a leading foe to expanded natural-gas drilling, which proponents argue could improve New York's energy independence and revive upstate's long-stagnant economy.

Last month, former Gov. David Paterson extended an environmental review period after vetoing a six-month ban shepherded through the Assembly by Silver.

Drilling advocates, government watchdog groups and even some Democrats say Weitz & Luxenberg's anti-drilling push, which follows a similar forum last month in Pennsylvania, raises questions about the powerful speaker's independence on the high-stakes issue....

Silver has for years refused to detail exactly what he makes and what he does for the firm, even as it plays a key role in the state Trial Lawyers Association, one of Albany's most influential lobbying groups.

Silver refused to address questions about whether Weitz & Luxenberg's anti-drilling advocacy posed a conflict for him....

That sort of changes the complexion of the thing, doesn't it?

And then at American Thinker, heartache—to think that I used to like Robert Redford:

The movie Gasland came out of nowhere to slam the shale gas industry -- an industry that has already substantially brought down the price of natural gas throughout the nation, saving consumers and business untold billions of dollars in energy costs.  The natural gas boom spawned by technologies such as horizontal drilling and fracking have also enriched citizens and states that have reaped part of the bounty brought to the surface by these technologies. Gasland casts aspersions regarding the safety of these technologies, especially to the water tables [tvm note: Gasland was brought to Albany last spring by Barbara Lifton].... 

....Did Gasland really come out of nowhere, or did it benefit from the helping hands of George Soros?

Gasland was shown at the Sundance Film Festival -- that was the first step in its journey to make the bigtime (including the HBO screenings). Gasland got a major boost in prominence when it landed a coveted spot at Sundance....

...The Sundance Institute receives funding from  George Soros; furthermore, the Sundance Documentary Film Fund was formerly known as the Soros Documentary Fund. Soros and his Open Society Institute have given many millions of dollars to the Sundance Institute. The officials who run Sundance know their donors and their special interests.

According to the Capital Research Institute, Sundance founder Robert Redford "genuflected" before Soros when Open Society gave the Institute 5 million dollars in its latest "gift":

"Sundance Institute has supported documentary storytellers since its beginning. The recognition of that history by George Soros and the Open Society Institute, and the continuation of our relationship over time, speaks to our shared belief that culture-in this case documentary film-is having a profound impact in shaping progressive change."

Soros responded that he is interested in such movies because "documentary films raise awareness and inspire action."

That presumably includes action that help prevent us freeing ourselves from being dependent for our energy supplies on unfriendly nations....

Go to American Thinker to read the article in its entirety, as well as to find other pieces in the archives that contain more "interesting" information re: hydrofracking and the leftist agenda. 

Lastly, if you keep having the nagging feeling that there are even more dots to connect, that may be because there very likely are. Opposition to fracking...social zoning...sustainability....it seems as though it's always the same group, or groups, of people involved and zoning and sustainability are already quite explicitly linked by those on the left.

We always seem to be behind the curve, don't we? Time to catch up.

"We are all fascists now"

Remember this Newsweek cover? It appeared almost 2 years ago (time sure flies, doesn't it?).  It was actually a reference to Richard Nixon's remark in 1971, "We are all Keynesians now."

But a little over a year before this magazine cover appeared, a book by Jonah Goldberg, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, was published. The last chapter in the book is entitled, "The New Age: We're All Fascists Now." Wait a minute--fascism? the American Left? Isn't fascism a right-wing movement? Aren't conservatives forever being called "fascist"? Well, Goldberg's thesis was that fascism is in fact a left-wing movement. And to give you a little taste, on p. 51 Goldberg writes, "By the early 1930s he [Mussolini] had found it necessary to start putting Fascist ideology down on paper...doctrinal Fascist economics looked fairly recognizable as just another left-wing campaign to nationalize industry, or regulate it to the point where the distinction was hardly a difference.  These policies fell under the rubric of what was called corporatism, and not only were they admired in America at the time, but they are unknowingly emulated to a staggering degree today."

Hmmm...not sure about the "unknowingly" part. Here's the text of the President's remarks yesterday afternoon in Schenectady (accompanied by Hanna, Gillibrand, and others) at the corona—err—installation of Jeff Immelt of GE as the leader of the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness (which replaces the group formerly known as the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board led by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker—you know, the guy who helped Reagan with policies that led to two decades of growth).

From FOX:

It is unclear how the administration plans to deal with the ethics challenges created by having a CEO whose income is determined by stock performance leading a panel designed to recommend government policies. G.E. (2009 revenue: $157 billion) is a huge government contractor and is always in the market for new subsidies and incentives....

Though intended to show Obama’s coolness with corporate America, the Immelt pick will likely reinforce the perception in American boardrooms that Obama likes to play favorites when it comes to the economy....

And while Volcker was said to have always been locked out of the Obama inner circle, Immelt should have the president’s ear. Immelt’s campaign donations and constant boosterism of the Obama agenda should provide a solid foundation for becoming a close adviser to the president, or perhaps just making that advisory role official.

The suspicious eye that will be cast on Immelt, though, may lessen his ability to provide the connection to the business world Obama has promised. Other CEOs are unlikely to see a competitor who pushes policies explicitly to benefit his company as an ally in the fight for a fair, free market.

No kidding.

For background on how this type of thing has come to be simply accepted by many (and to have ammunition—wait, am I allowed to say that?—for an intelligent comeback when someone calls you a fascist), read Goldberg's book. His style is entertaining, and while you might not agree with everything he says (I didn't), you'll undoubtedly be better informed.  Southworth Library doesn't own a copy but you can request one through interlibrary loan (and Tompkins County Public Library does have a copy).

Lighten up

I'll need to spend less time (as in no time) today on bloggy stuff and more on, you know, normal life.  And in a total non sequitur and without any attempt at a segue, I do know that the world is going to hell in a handbasket, and that Hu Jintao is a dictator overseeing a country with one-child policies, forced abortions, and 16 million (!) "missing girls,"amongst many other charming policies and practices that we don't want to emulate.  That said, the irreverent plays on the man's last name (like "Guess Hu's Coming to Dinner?", "Obama Hosts A Hu") made me laugh. As did this 2011 update on Bud and Lou:

 

(h/t Rich Terrell)

I know—I'm being culturally insensitive.  So sue me.

But wait—there's more (you knew this was coming):

Can spring training be far behind?

Mixed message?

Via Ace:

‘Skins’: A New Low, Even for MTV

By Erin R. Brown | January 19, 2011 | 15:13

 

MTV has bumped up the smut and sleaze level on television with its new show “Skins” – a take off on a successful BBC series. The scripted show’s attempt to portray the real lives of high school students showcases casual sex among minors without consequences, a 16 year-old child purchasing four ounces of marijuana, an adult woman stripping for an underage peeping tom, parental verbal abuse, an overdose on narcotics, and sexual assault of a minor – all in the series premiere.

If you think you can stomach the rest of the column at Newsbusters, read on.

What has this got to do with anything, you ask?  Well, it may have at least some connection to this post below. Additionally, there's this: at our daughter's skating practice last night was a fellow teen skater sporting a t-shirt (styled for an NFL cheerleader if you catch my drift) with the message in big, black letters on bright yellow, "SEX, DRUGS, ROCK&ROLL."  Now the club parents are a fairly conservative, sensible lot and I was pretty sure there was a dress code that discouraged this kind of apparel on the ice.  As I was wondering what the story was, the girl spun around and all became clear: prominently displayed tightly across her derrière on the very bottom of the shirt (not across the shoulder blades as you might expect) in similarly big, black letters was "PEER EDUCATOR."  Well, all righty then! That makes it all OK.

Somebody will say, "But the point of the peer educators must surely be to discourage the kind of behavior suggested on the front of the shirt."  Maybe. But even granting that, isn't the message just a tad, well, mixed?

We've really got to get our heads screwed on straight.

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