No Runny Eggs

The repository of one hard-boiled egg from the south suburbs of Milwaukee, Wisconsin (and the occassional guest-blogger). The ramblings within may or may not offend, shock and awe you, but they are what I (or my guest-bloggers) think.

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Archive for June, 2010

June 30, 2010

And then there were three for Lt. Gov.

by @ 16:01. Filed under Politics - Wisconsin.

I know, I’m a day late to this. Ben Collins dropped out of the Republican race for lieutenant governor yesterday:

When I came back from Afghanistan and entered this campaign for lieutenant governor, it was clear to me how important new leadership in Madison was for the future of our state. As I have traveled across Wisconsin and visited with thousands of families and business owners, my initial view about the need for new leadership has been confirmed.

But as this hard-fought, six-person race for lieutenant governor has developed, I have begun to question whether my passion and ideas for Wisconsin’s future are best used in the lieutenant governor’s race or in the race for governor itself. Where can I most aggressively contribute to the pursuit for new leadership in Wisconsin? How can I best advance the goals of business owners trying to create new jobs? Who really is our best chance to turn Madison upside down and get our state back on track?

In answering each of these questions I arrive at the same conclusion: Scott Walker. As I’ve witnessed Scott campaign across our state, it has become quite difficult to contain my enthusiasm for his message and his vision. The practical, conservative approach Scott brings to government is what Madison has sorely lacked and what state government badly needs. I couldn’t have been more proud watching him earn our party’s near-unanimous endorsement, creating a center of gravity for the party in the process. He is a thoughtful, decent man with the temperament, experience and skills to be a truly transformative governor.

Therefore, I am suspending my campaign for lieutenant governor in order to focus my efforts to ensure Wisconsin’s future is secure in a conservative victory. It will also allow me to focus on my own business and my service with the Army National Guard, both of which remain high priorities.

To the thousands of people who have supported and encouraged me in this race for lieutenant governor, I am deeply grateful. To my opponents remaining in the race, I appreciate your deep concern for Wisconsin and wish each of you the very best on the campaign trail. To my wife and my family, I love and treasure your friendship and support.

To those who believe that the status quo in state government should continue, count me as the latest footsoldier in Scott Walker’s grassroots army to take Wisconsin back.

Ben, I hope this isn’t the last time we hear from you on the political front.

More Poll-a-copia, Dem pollster edition

by @ 15:53. Filed under Politics - Wisconsin.

In its late-June polls of the Senate and governor’s races, Public Policy Polling has essentially confirmed the extreme closeness of the Senate race and the fade of Tom Barrett in the governor’s race.

First, the Senate race. Russ Feingold led Ron Johnson 45% to 43%, and Dave Westlake 45% to 38%. Both of those are a percentage point higher than Rasmussen’s latest. Even that is not good news for Feingold, because Feingold’s favorables were evenly split 42% favorable/42% unfavorable (worse than Rasmussen’s 52% favorable/45% unfavorable).

Unlike Rasmussen, which puts its crosstabs behind a pay wall, Public Policy includes its crosstabs as part of its release, which reveals a near-even partisan split (34% “independent”, 33% Democrat, 32% Republican, which belies the 41% moderate/40% conservative/19% liberal ideology split). That allows a closer look at the numbers. Among independents, Feingold’s favorability rating is a rather unfavorable 39% favorable/46% unfavorable. Also among independents, Johnson carried them in the Johnson-Feingold matchup 46%-39%, while Feingold held them in the Feingold-Westlake matchup 39%-36%.

On the governor’s side, Scott Walker is up on Tom Barrett 45%-38%, while Mark Neumann is up 41%-36%. The latter represents a significant drop from the Rasmussen lead of 8 for Neumann.

The crosstabs reveal that, while a significant portion of the state still doesn’t have an opinion of the three candidates, only Walker has a positive overall favorability factor (36% favorable/28% unfavorable, and 32% favorable/28% favorable among independents). While Barrett has a negative overall favorability factor (28% favorable/30% unfavorable), he does have a positive favorability factor among independents (28% favorable/26% unfavorable). Neumann lags badly in that category, with negative overall favorability (18% favorable/35% unfavorable) and negative indepenent favorability (18% favorable/33% unfavorable) factors.

Both Walker and Neumann carry independents rather handily against Barrett. Walker carried them 43%-30%, while Neumann carried them 41%-29%.

We’re number 5 – tax-raising edition

by @ 14:55. Filed under Politics - Wisconsin.

Rick Newman at US News and World Report went through the ten states that have raised taxes the most per-capita since 2009. With $900,000,000 in new taxes since then, or $159 per person, Wisconsin ranks 5th.

It gets worse when one looks at the gross amount, because Delaware and Connecticut have a lower population than Wisconsin. On the other hand, Arizona, which ranked just behind Wisconsin on a per-capita basis, went in for an even $1,014,000,000 in new taxes.

Meanwhile, to within the nearest $1,000,000, Idaho, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Wyoming held the line. Nebraska, Missouri, Alaska, Alabama, Louisiana, West Virginia, Indiana, Ohio and North Dakota actually found a way to cut taxes.

June 28, 2010

“Interesting” how far the law can be stretched

by @ 17:50. Filed under Politics - National.

The Washington Post‘s Chris Cillizza reports that, in the aftermath of Sen. Robert Byrd’s death, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant announced the replacement appointed by governor Joe Manchin will serve until after the 2012 election. The statute in question (§3-10-3) reads (emphasis added):

Any vacancy occurring in the office of secretary of state, auditor, treasurer, attorney general, commissioner of agriculture, United States senator, judge of the supreme court of appeals or in any office created or made elective to be filled by the voters of the entire state, judge of a circuit court or judge of a family court is filled by the governor of the state by appointment. If the unexpired term of a judge of the supreme court of appeals, a judge of the circuit court or judge of a family court is for less than two years or if the unexpired term of any other office named in this section is for a period of less than two years and six months, the appointment to fill the vacancy is for the unexpired term. If the unexpired term of any office is for a longer period than above specified, the appointment is until a successor to the office has timely filed a certificate of candidacy, has been nominated at the primary election next following such timely filing and has thereafter been elected and qualified to fill the unexpired term. Proclamation of any election to fill an unexpired term is made by the governor of the state and, in the case of an office to be filled by the voters of the entire state, must be published prior to the election as a Class II-0 legal advertisement in compliance with the provisions of article three, chapter fifty-nine of this code and the publication area for the publication is each county of the state. If the election is to fill a vacancy in the office of judge of a circuit court or judge of a family court, the proclamation must be published prior to the election as a Class II-0 legal advertisement in compliance with the provisions of article three, chapter fifty-nine of this code and the publication area for such publication is each county in the judicial or family court circuit.

The certificate-of-candidacy period was between January 11 and January 30. Further, there was a court case in 1994 (H/T – Hotline via Allahpundit) that affirms the certificate-of-candidacy requirement.

I suppose I should mention that all involved in the current situation are Democrats seeking to keep the seat in their hands at a time when the voting populace seems ready, willing and able to remove them from power. As Smitty said, “The good news in all this is that, since the ruling falls in favor of the Democratic Party, we’re spared endless breast-beating about the crushing of voter expression, Republican Party thugger in general, and Rascal Rove vitriol in particular.” One could only imagine what the presstitutes would have said if it were Republicans that were desperate to keep their virtual supermajority in the Senate.

The latest evidence Obama is serving FDR’s 5th term

Ed Morrissey highlighted the latest bit of evidence that Obama is really the second coming of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. From his joint press conference with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev:

Those were the same hopes of another generation of Americans and Russians — the generation that stood together as allies in the Second World War —- the Great Patriotic War in which the Russian people suffered and sacrificed so much. We recently marked the 65th anniversary of our shared victory in that war, including that historic moment when American and Soviet troops came together in friendship at the Elbe River in Germany.

“A reporter who was there at that time, all those years ago, said: “If there is a fine, splendid world in the future, it will largely be because the United States and Russia get on well together. If it is in trouble, it will be because they don’t get on well. It’s as simple as that.”

Since Ed included the uncorrected comment in an e-mail I sent to him on this, I’ll repeat the Croats twice here as well – I think the Poles, Estonians, Latvians, Lituanians, Hungarians, Slavs, Croats, Bosnians, Romanians and Croats (among others) might have a second opinion on that.

It was the Yalta Conference, FDR’s last major decision, that abandoned Eastern Europe to the not-at-all-tenderness of Iosif Stalin.

Revisions/extensions (5:52 pm 6/28/2010) - How did I screw up the link to Ed? Sorry about that; it’s fixed now.

June 27, 2010

All you need to know about Terrence Wall’s sour grapes

Jim Klauser, who was Terrence Wall’s campaign co-chair, was quoted by the Wisconsin State Journal responding to allegations from the former Senate candidate that Ron Johnson bought his endorsement at last month’s Republican Party of Wisconsin convention:

“I looked into it and I found nothing to support it. Sadly, I think this is all a part of his imagination. I think he is conjuring it up and demeaning a reputable individual in the process.

The Johnson campaign produced documents showing a total of 6 rooms paid for by the campaign, which the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports was for Johnson, his wife, and 6 campaign staffers.

Specifically on the delay of the endorsement vote, one can blame the deadlock on the lieutenant governor’s 3-ballot ultimate non-endorsement. I was there Saturday, and the endorsement process for governor and lieutenant governor took 6 hours.

Just as a reminder, the votes weren’t even counted after Dick Leinenkugel’s surprise drop-out and endorsement of Johnson from the stage before the Wall campaign hit Johnson for taking the endorsement of “Doyle’s favorite Republican”.

One more thing – buying votes at a convention is not illegal. Wall was as busy as anybody else handing out (and selling) trinkets all weekend long. Quoting UW-Milwaukee professor of governmental affairs Mordecai Lee, “not exactly” a conservative, from the WSJ article:

At the end of the day, what he has accused Johnson of is not illegal, so I’m not sure what he hopes to accomplish. But I think he better stick to non-partisan elections, if he ever wants to run for office again.

I guess that, since Wall won’t be replacing Russ Feingold, he would rather keep his tenant in office.

June 24, 2010

So Obama is coming to town to talk economy

by @ 19:26. Filed under Economy, Politics - National.

The word from WisPolitics is that President Obama will be coming to a to-be-disclosed location in southeast Wisconsin on June 30 to talk about the economy. The lines are now open for suggestions on where he could hold that talk.

My choice – the being-torn-down former Delphi plant at Howell and Drexel in Oak Creek.

The Social Security Crater – Disability Insurance edition

by @ 18:08. Filed under Social Security crater.

I know; the Trustees report is due out in a few days, but there’s some things that won’t wait until then. This time, I’ll focus specifically on the Disability Insurance (DI) portion of the matter. If you don’t want to wade through the whole post, the Cliff’s Notes version is that the DI “Trust” Fund suffered its first negative April since the effects of the previous major Social Security overhaul took full effect in 1987, and that it appears even the high-cost estimate in last year’s Trustees report was optimistic, with the DI fund now looking to be exhausted by the end of 2015 instead of by the end of 2016 in the 2009 high-cost estimate and by the end of 2020 in the intermediate estimate.

Before I get to the heart of the matter, I first need to do two months’ worth of housekeeping. In April, when just about everybody with a tax bill settles up and those who make quarterly estimated payments do so in the greatest of numbers, the combined Old-Age and Survivors/Disability Insurance (OASDI) funds took in $76,672 million, including $138 million of interest, and had expenses of $58,948 million for a gross increase of $17,724 million (or 23.12% of gross income), and a primary (cash) increase of $17,586 million (or 22.98% of ex-interest/net receipts). That pushed the 12-month primary deficit to $18,732 million, and dropped the 12-month gross surplus to $99,599 million (the first sub-$100,000 million 12-month gross surplus since 10/1997-9/1998).

In absolute terms, it’s the worst primary April performance since 1999 (with a $17,506 million increase on $49,810 million of tax revenue) and the worst gross April performance since 1998 (with a $15,502 million increase on $46,804 million in gross revenue). In percentage terms, that’s the worst April since monthly records were made available in 1987.

May didn’t show any real improvement over recent months, with the combined funds posting a combined $5,087 million gross/$5,177 primary loss on $53,859 million in gross receipts ($90 million in interest) and $58,946 million in outgo. The 12-month primary deficit grew to $21,987 million, and the 12-month gross surplus shrunk to $96,268 million.

This is not the first time since 1987 that the DI Fund faced imminent exhaustion. Indeed, in 1994, it came within 2 years of running out of Treasury securities to draw upon. The fix back then was to transfer the majority of the November 1994 tax revenue from the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) Fund and increase the portion of the FICA/SECA tax that went into the DI Fund. That fix, which worked back then because the OASI Fund was running in the black, won’t work this time because, outside the “taxation” months of January and April, the OASI Fund has been running a primary deficit since July 2009.

Specifically to April, even in April 1994, the DI Fund ran a monthly surplus of $492 million ($473 million net) on $3,722 million of receipts ($19 million of interest) and $3,230 million of outgo. Now, the DI Fund has run 13 months of consecutive monthly primary deficits (through May), with the only monthly overall surpluses coming as a result of the semi-annual crediting of interest in June and December. The latest 12-month overall deficit (6/2009-5/2010) was $17,167 million, over 8.3% of the end-of-May fund value of $194,355 million.

That leads me to the bad news on the end of the DI “Trust” Fund. I decided to plug some numbers into the spreadsheet to see just how fast the fund would cease to exist. I assumed that tax revenues would, for the rest of 2010, continue to lag behind 2009′s by just under 5.2% (as they have for the first 5 months), then increase by 5.3% (actually a bit higher than the 1996-2006 annual average of 5.234% for the total FICA/SECA tax). I also assumed that outgo would increase by the 5.464% that it went up for the first 5 months in 2010 versus the first 5 months of 2009 (significantly lower than the 1996-2006 annual average of 7.613%), even though 2010′s increase is solely due to the increased number of those drawing from Social Security, and that the interest rate would be at 5% (a bit higher than the current weighted average of 4.880% and significantly higher than the 2.875% new bonds/certificates of indebtedness earn).

With a starting point of $194,355 million in the DI “Trust” Fund at the end of May 2010, and assumptions that are actually favorable to the longevity of the “Trust” Fund, here are the projected DI “Trust” Fund balances at the end of each calendar year:

December 2010 – $178,728 million (projected to be the first “interest” month with an monthly overall deficit, with June 2010 having the only monthly overall surplus of 2010)
December 2011 – $151,653 million (again with June 2011 having the only monthly overall surplus of 2011)
December 2012 – $118,899 million (with June 2012 having the only monthly overall surplus of 2012, and June 2012 also having the last monthly overall surplus in this scenario)
December 2013 – $83,281 million
December 2014 – $43,428 million
December 2015 – EXHAUSTED (November 2015 would see a DI fund balance of $4,839 million)

Even if I were to assume the 5.3% tax growth beginning in June 2010 instead of January 2011, it doesn’t get much better. The DI “Trust” Fund barely makes it into 2017 before it disappears.

As a reminder, under current law, at the point the DI fund is exhausted, benefits would have to be cut by the percentage the tax revenues don’t meet demand. No, it can’t even tap into the OASI “Trust” Fund to avoid average benefit cuts of over 25%.

Revisions/extensions (7:05 pm 7/2/2010) - Partly because the Social Security Administration missed their delayed deadline for the annual report, and partly because I had to adjust my outgo assumptions for the OASI “Trust” Fund estimates, I have re-run the numbers using the increases anticipated in the “Intermediate” and “High-Cost” scenarios in the 2009 Trustees Report.

Since the Intermediate scenario assumes that the cost of running the DI portion of Social Security rises slower than the 5.464% it went up in the first 5 months of 2010, the DI “Trust” Fund makes it to December 2016 before being exhausted. Further, unlike the “base” scenario outlined above, the DI operations would be able to pay out the entirety of the scheduled payments for a couple Aprils after fund exhaustion.

The bad news is the “High-Cost” scenario assumes the cost of running the DI portion of Social Security rises even faster than my assumption. Plugging that back into the spreadsheet yields fund exhaustion in July 2015.

Poll-a-copia: End of June edition

by @ 10:45. Filed under Politics - Wisconsin.

Rasmussen Reports released its monthly look-in at the Senate and governor’s races, both taken June 21. The news isn’t good for the Democrats, despite President Obama once again having a significantly higher approval rating in Wisconsin (49% approve/51% disapprove/Approval Index -13) than nationally (45% approve/55% disapprove/Approval Index -15), and the Democrat Party of Wisconsin convention happening between the May and June surveys.

First, Ron Johnson halved Russ Feingold’s insignificant May lead, and now trails 46% to 45%. Feingold’s smears and distortions aren’t exactly working, as Johnson’s favorables are now at 36% approve/30% disapprove/”Passion” Index +8, compared to 32% approve/25% disapprove/”Passion” Index +6, while Feingold’s favorables dipped to 52% favorable (down 1 point from May)/45% unfavorable (up 1 point from May)/”Passion” Index of 0 (down 6 points from May).

Meanwhile, Dave Westlake has made some hay, and is far closer than he’s ever been, trailing 47%-41%. The news isn’t all good for Westlake, because his unfavorables went up dramatically from 26% overall to 32% overall, with the “Passion” Index slipping from -3 to -4.

Over in the governor’s race, somebody had better put a notice on a milk carton for Tom Barrett. He has dropped to an 8-point deficit against both Scott Walker (49%-41%) and Mark Neumann (47%-39%). That 8-point lead by Neumann is his largest, with Walker’s 49% tying his highest percentage total (previously done in February, when he led Barrett 49%-40%) and Neumann’s 47% setting a new high.

One thing I wish Rasmussen did polling for was the primary election. The Walker campaign thoughtfully included some of the internals in a comparison between Walker and Neumann, and it shows a hard road for Neumann. Among the four categories of voters generally considered to be participants in the Republican primary, “Republicans” (note for the out-of-state crowd, there is no party registration, but one cannot vote in more than one party’s primary), independents, conservatives, and Tea Party, Walker is viewed significantly more favorably than Neumann. Among the Tea Party crowd, the Walker split is 86% favorable/8% unfavorable while the Neumann split is 71% favorable/19% unfavorable. Among conservatives, the Walker split is 79% favorable/14% unfavorable while the Neumann split is 64% favorable/22% unfavorable. Among independents, the Walker split is 58% favorable/24% unfavorable while the Neumann split is 51% favorable/30% unfavorable. Among Republicans, the Walker split is 86% favorable/11% unfavorable while the Neumann split is 70% favorable/20% unfavorable.

Unless Neumann is counting on a significant Democrat/liberal cross-over, or a major gaffe by Walker, I don’t see how he gets the nomination.

June 22, 2010

Art Imitating Life?

by @ 19:53. Filed under Energy, Politics - National.

If imitation is truly the sincerest form of flattery then President Obama’s administration is just bustin’ buttons with pride tonight!

Yesterday, Iran offered to help the US, and specifically President Obama, plug the oil leak in the Gulf.

“If Americans and Britons and also the Western companies find themselves incapable of capping the oil spill, [they can] ask Iran, [we] will study the case, and send… IRGC experts to the region to help prevent the continuation of this serious crisis,” Qasemi added.

I know, your asking, “what about this is imitation?” 

Do you really think Iran is sincere about helping to plug the leak.  Or, for that matter, do you think they have better abilities than the rest of the world?  No, neither do I!

Using Rahm Emanuel’s own approach, Iran is taunting the US, never allowing a crisis to go to waste!

In a follow up question I need to ask, Rahm, when you uttered those now infamous words, did you ever consider that the crisis that you wanted to exploit just might be a real one that required real solutions?

June 21, 2010

Who Could Have Imagined This Coming?

by @ 19:41. Filed under Health Care Reform, Politics - National.

Two headlines from today’s news.

From the AP:
Borrowers exit troubled Obama mortgage program

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration’s flagship effort to help people in danger of losing their homes is falling flat.

But the punch lines come from the reasons stated:

Treasury officials now require banks to collect two recent pay stubs at the start of the process. Borrowers have to give the Internal Revenue Service permission to provide their most recent tax returns to lenders.

Requiring homeowners to provide documentation of income has turned people away from enrolling in the program. Around 30,000 homeowners started the program in May. That’s a sharp turnaround from last summer when more than 100,000 borrowers signed up each month.

Yeah, imagine that!  People should actually be able to show that they can afford the loans they commit themselves to!  This must be an evil vast Right wing plot against low or no income people!

How about this from USA Today:

Doctors limit new Medicare patients

WASHINGTON — The number of doctors refusing new Medicare patients because of low government payment rates is setting a new high, just six months before millions of Baby Boomers begin enrolling in the government health care program.

But you have to love this quote from a Politico story about the Doc fix spat:

“This is no way to run a major health coverage program – already the instability caused by repeated short-term delays is taking its toll,” said AMA president Cecil B. Wilson. “Congress has finally taken its game of brinkmanship too far, as the steep 21 percent cut is now in effect and physicians will be forced to make difficult practice changes to keep their practice doors open.”

Ah, yeah.  That’s the same AMA that vigorously supported both the House and Senate versions of Placebocare, the final version accomplishing a “balance budget” by eliminating the perpetual doc fix!

Or this:

“I have never seen physicians more frustrated with the cuts and cynical about Congress’ willingness or ability to do the right thing for patient access,” said Bob Doherty, a senior vice president at the American College of Physicians. A short-term repair “will confirm the growing sentiment among doctors and seniors that Medicare is an unreliable and unstable partner that can’t be counted on to pay its bills, and more of them accordingly will limit how many Medicare patients and seniors they can afford to see.”
Yup, there again, the ACP was a supporter of Placebocare.
Hypocrisy, they name is thee whose particular Ox is being gored!

June 20, 2010

Israel and Arizona

by @ 18:52. Filed under Politics - National.

Nearly every time Hamas steps up its rocket barrage of Israel I hear a defender of Israel, usually someone from the Right, explain Israel’s response with an analogy similar to this:

Listen, if Mexico were lobbing rockets into Tucson, don’t you think the United States would retaliate?

I think most right minded folks, even a majority on the Left would say, “Yeah, we would and should protect ourselves.”  Yeah, that’s what I used to think but, not any more.

Last Wednesday, the US Fish and Wildlife Service closed off access to over 3,000 acres of Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge.  It wasn’t because of wildfires.  It wasn’t because of floods.  It wasn’t even because some rare insect, rodent or bird had been spotted and they were trying to protect it.  No, 3,000 acres of U.S. soil have been closed because violence from Mexican drug and human smugglers has become so severe that it is no longer safe for U.S. residents.

Without one shot being fired by the world’s last remaining superpower, the US has effectively ceeded 3,000 acres to Mexico.

While it’s obvious that President Obama has little knowledge or even interest in effective international relations, I would think that at the very least, his Chicago instincts would kick in in this situation.  Under rules of the Chicago Way, any ceding of territory or turf is considered a sure sign of weakness.  And, we all know that President Obama is not weak.  Apparently in this case, he just hasn’t figured out whose ass to kick!

Those Who Do Not Learn From History….

by @ 12:15. Filed under Economy, Politics - National.

Is it just me or does President Obama’s hype around “Recovery Summer,” kicked off in this photo:

Feel an awful lot like how this event was received?

By the way, what’s the deal with the guy in the lab coat? Did the PR guys have some left over from the phony Doctor photo ops for Placebocare?

June 17, 2010

Open Thread Thursday – changes are coming edition

by @ 17:48. Filed under Open Thread Thursday, The Blog.

With the release of WordPress 3.0, I’ll be working on implementing some changes to this place…

YouTube Preview Image

One of the things I’m looking to do is implement The Scramble as a headline feature, with its own feed and comments system, much like Hot Air Headlines. Since that will require a rather hefty hack of the template, I can’t promise that it will be here very soon.

Since you freeload…er, loyal readers have spoken, I’ll occassionally pop out Old-School Scrambles as well, especially since Dean has said he’d help me out there, and Jo’s provided at least one.

I won’t promise too many posts the next couple days – the NASCAR Nationwide gang is over at Road America, and I’ll be there at least Saturday. Depending on schedules, I might also be there Friday, so don’t be surprised if the 2-day outburst is broken.

So, consider this a 3-day/4-night weekend open thread.

The IRS being placed in charge of PlaceboCare was no accident

Philip Klein explains over at The American Spectator the strategy the Obama adminstration is using to try to short-circuit challenges to PlaceboCare (emphasis added):

Late last night, the Obama Department of Justice filed a motion to dismiss the Florida-based lawsuit against the health care law, arguing that the court lacks jurisdiction and that the State of Florida and fellow plaintiffs haven’t presented a claim for which the court can grant relief. To bolster its case, the DOJ cited the Anti-Injunction Act, which restricts courts from interfering with the government’s ability to collect taxes.

The Act, according to a DOJ memo supporting the motion to dismiss, says that “no suit for the purpose of restraining the assessment or collection of any tax shall be maintained in any court by any person, whether or not such person is the person against whom such tax was assessed.” The memo goes on to say that it makes no difference whether the disputed payment it is called a “tax” or “penalty,” because either way, it’s “assessed and collected in the same manner” by the Internal Revenue Service.

Klein goes on to explain how that is a violation of both his claims that it isn’t a tax and his his campaign pledge to not raise taxes by “one dime” on those making less than $250,000 (later lowered to $200,000 if one is single, with the $250,000 supposedly still applying to those who are married).

The Godfather Presidency

by @ 9:52. Filed under Business, Politics - National.

The Heritage Foundation explains what happened at the White House yesterday:

This time it was the executives of BP who were summoned directly to the White House to have a little chat with the President and Attorney General Eric Holder (who has threatened BP with criminal prosecution). The exact conversation may never be known, and by the end of their “no-nonsense business meeting” BP emerged from the Roosevelt Room to announce that they would “voluntarily” place $20 billion into an escrow account to begin covering claims associated with the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster and contribute another $100 million to a foundation that will support oil workers made unemployed by President Barack Obama’s indefinite ban on offshore oil drilling.

Don’t buy for a second any of the mainstream media’s line about this being good for BP. The White House made clear yesterday that the $20 billion was just a down payment and in no way represented a cap on BP’s liability. In fact, the President explicitly said that the fund would not preclude individuals or states from pressing claims in court, and that it would remain separate from BP’s liability for the damages to the environment. And these damages may include the costs of cleanup for damage far beyond what BP caused. The Washington Post today reports that a gulf restoration plan of the sort promised by President Obama could cost as much as $30 billion. That’s $50 billion in damages so far. And that does not include any future money, on top of the existing $100 million donation, the White House may press BP to pay to cover the unemployment caused by President Obama’s offshore drilling ban.

They go on to discuss what would happen if BP goes into bankruptcy, noting that the Feds have put a $20 billion lien on some of BP’s American operations. While the White House assured BP that it wasn’t seeking to drive the company out of business, I seem to recall the same promises made to Chrysler and General Motors, and after a manipulation (perversion, really) of the bankrupcy process, we now own two car companies.

I guess it’s time to break out a classic People’s Cube graphic:

Expect the unexpected

by @ 9:21. Filed under Economy, Presstitute Follies.

If there’s bad economic news, in this case a sharp increase in weekly initial jobless claims to 472,000, one can count on the likes of Reuters to term it “unexpected”:

Jobless claims unexpectedly higher last week

The number of workers filing new applications for unemployment insurance unexpectedly rose last week as the manufacturing, construction and education sectors shed employees, adding to worries that the economic recovery is slowing.

(Revisions/extensions, 10:05 am 6/17/2010) – Hot Air commenter mankai found that the first version of AP’s story (thanks to Breitbart for not sending the original down the memory hole like everybody else) also used the “unexpectedly” adverb. Also, in the main post, Ed Morrissey noted that, thanks to a revision of the prior week’s claims, this week’s increase wasn’t exactly followed by 3 weeks of drops as the AP would lead one to believe.
Since Ed Morrissey decided to link here, and he has the most-exhaustive list of the press terming bad economic news “unexpected”, let’s count the number of times this year he’s caught the presstitutes using their favorite adverb:

This is hardly an exhaustive list, but that’s 22 “unexpected” bad-news items, another 2 “unexpected-by-another-phrase” bad-news items, and 2 “unexpected” good-news items. That’s an average of every other week.

June 16, 2010

Vote early, vote often – no longer just a Chicago Machine Expression

Ace dug out the memory of wanna-be Assistant General for Civil Rights Lani Guiner when he found that Port Chester, New York was forced by a Lawgiver-In-Black to give up its at-large voting system for its six village trustees and adopt “cumulative voting” in order to assure Hispanic representation, and also keep the in-person polls open for five full days.

The difference between at-large voting systems and cumulative voting systems is, in an at-large system, one can only vote for each candidate once, casting votes up to the maximum number of offices being filled. Meanwhile, in a cumulative voting system, one can apportion votes up to the maximum number of offices being filled with no limit on the number of votes cast for a particular candidate.

The reason this “works” for the “aggrieved minority”, and indeed, worked for one Luis Marino, who The Journal News cheered as the first Latino elected in Port Chester, is a minority group can multiply their votes behind a single candidate, while the “high-minded majority” splits their votes among multiple candidates. The effect is enhanced if, like Port Chester, there is no primary to narrow the field to “the number of offices plus one”.

Bear in mind that, while what Jay Weber calls the Accomplice Media notes, correctly yet incompletely, that Latinos make up close to half Port Chester’s population, there is a small detail that most of them will miss, and I will give kudos to The Journal News for mentioning it – Latinos make up only roughly 20% of the voting-age citizens in the village. The fact that, up until yesterday, no Latino had been elected to the board is more a statistical quirk than anything else.

Rural Dane County elites whine for cheap broadband

by @ 12:45. Filed under Business, Politics - Wisconsin.

(H/T – Dad29)

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ran a story today about some residents in Town of Berry, roughly 20 miles west of Madison, trying to get the Public Service Commission to force TDS Telecom, the local telephone provider, to provide DSL broadband to the southwest corner of town. TDS, which was turned down for “stimulus” broadband funds by the FCC because Dane County isn’t “rural enough”, says that those residents live in an area too sparsely-populated to make a business case to install the necessary equipment.

For megabit-class speeds, DSL subscribers need to be within roughly 2 miles of the DSLAM (which connects the DSL lines to a backbone line, and is either installed at the local telephone exchange or in the case of AT&T’s Milwaukee-area fiber-to-the-neighborhood, a cabinet in the neighborhood), and for any DSL service, there cannot be a load coil (which extends the effective range of voice communications but blocks DSL signals) on the line. Meanwhile, the population density of Berry as a whole in 2000 was 30.2 people per square mile (that’s as detailed as the Census Bureau gets). The roads, which the utility poles travel along, are “not-exactly” straight because of the geography of the area, requiring longer runs and, in many cases, prohibiting running a DSL line down from Highway 19, which has DSL service.

Said geography also plays havoc with some peoples’ attempts to use wireless broadband connections, and the compaintants whine in the linked complaint about both the reliabiltiy and cost of that. They also don’t want to use satellite internet service because they don’t want to pay the going rate for that less-than-reliable service. They further think that access to cheap land-based broadband is a right guaranteed by state statute.

Those who don’t remember history – The Boondoggle Edition

by @ 11:20. Filed under Politics - National.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI, and my Congresscritter) and his fellow House Budget Republican members launched the Budget Boondoggle Award a couple years ago to carry on the tradition of William Proxmire’s Golden Fleece Award. Today, they turned their attention to the proposed $20 million Office of Livable Communities, with a stated goal of making car-less hyper-urban communities with promises of federal money that simply isn’t there.

It sounds a lot like FDR’s Resettlement Administration. The RA, and its predecessor Subsistence Homsesteads Division of the Department of the Interior, had a rather spotty record in attempting to set up socialist communes. For every community that survived until it could be privatized like Greendale, there was an abject failure like Hickory Ridge, Virginia.

A Quick Thought

by @ 9:08. Filed under Miscellaneous.

Do you suppose that President Obama would have been willing to meet with the BP Executives earlier if they had offered to buy the beer for the meeting? Or maybe, President Obama wouldn’t meet with them because they told him they were bringing “ale” and he kept insisting on “beer?”

“Shut up!”, they said – national edition

by @ 8:01. Filed under Politics - National.

(H/T – Owen)

There is a piece of legislation called the DISCLOSURE Act (H.R. 5175 on the Congressional calendar) that would, among other things, require disclosure of all donations to corporations, non-profit organizations, and unions of at least $600 to an account used for campaigning within 120 days (a new extension in and of itself) of an election (whether the entity uses a segregated political account or a mixed-use account), as well as all donations to corporations/unions of at least $6,000 regardless of purpose if said entity particpiates in campaigning.

Side note – while many are saying that this doesn’t apply to unions, that non-application, at least as of the May 25 mark-up, is a function of the way the triggers are written rather than an express exemption. Unions are already required to segregate political funds, and I don’t know of too many unions that take either $600 for that segregated political fund or $6,000 for total dues.

In order to grease the skids for shutting up the less-connected, Politico reported that the National Rifle Association negotiated a deal with the Democrats to exempt itself, and contrary to Democrat claims, other groups like AARP and the Humane Society, from the donation-reporting requirements. Specifically, the deal would “exempt organizations that have more than 1 million members, have been in existence for more than 10 years, have members in all 50 states and raise 15 percent or less of their funds from corporations”.

“Shut up!”, they said – Wisconsin edition

by @ 6:59. Filed under Politics - Wisconsin.

The Crist-ification of Mark Neumann continues unabated. As part of his pitch to Democrat cross-over vot…er, continuing string of street theater, this time outside the Democratic Party of Wisconsin convention, he told every commenter on the Wisconsin governor’s race to shut up. Christian Schneider grabbed the video for the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute…

http://www.wpri.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/multimedia/videos/Mark_Neumann_on_Citizens_United.flv

In case you couldn’t quite hear that, allow me to transcribe for you:

Unseen questioner – “What do you think about corporate money…the Supreme Court decision that equate (sic) corporate money with free speech and individuals, and unlimited corporation spending on campaigns? What do you think of that?”

Neumann – “I think they should shut down every outside source of information in this campaign except the candidates themselves standing right here in front of people like yourselves debating back-and-forth between them – that’s what I think.

“Now, whether that’s not constitutional so we obviously can’t do that. But if Mark Neumann got to have what he wished, that’s what would happen, sir.”

“Ironic” is probably too weak for this, but I find it hilarious that the person most dependent on the “independent” voters wants nothing but spoon-fed information from the campaigns given to them. Sorry Charl…er, Mark; I might have the blogging blahs, but I will not be silenced by you and your kind.

June 14, 2010

More Of The Same?

by @ 14:08. Filed under Miscellaneous.

President Obama is making yet another trip to the Gulf. After 3 trips and no change in results, what makes him think that a fourth time of making obvious to a blind man, demands and speaking in vulgarities could make any difference?

Our NRE paparazzi snapped the enclosed picture which provides the only logical explanation for a fourth, gulf trip.

June 11, 2010

Sticky Fingers Larson to take on Plale

by @ 11:12. Filed under Politics - Wisconsin.

(H/T – Charlie Sykes)

I guess the Democrats don’t want criminal activity to be an August surprise in their now-every-4-year push to Lieberman state Senator Jeff Plale (D-South Milwaukee). The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting they’ve recruited ticketed shoplifter and Milwaukee County Supervisor Chris Larson to take out Plale because he hasn’t quite fully-earned his “East Side” nickname.

I guess the Dems’ desire for somebody crooked might be a function of the unique shape of the 7th Senate District, which links Oak Creek to the UW-Milwaukee campus via MMSD’s Jones Island Water Reclamation Facility.

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