Sunday, April 18, 2010

Political Digest April 18, 2010

I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree with every—or any—opinion in the posted article.

Obama makes light of anti-tax protests
Thank you, Sir, may I have another! Excerpt: President Barack Obama said Thursday he's amused by the anti-tax tea party protests that have been taking place around Tax Day.
Obama told a fundraiser in Miami that he's cut taxes, contrary to the claims of protesters. "You would think they'd be saying thank you," he said.

Not to confront Arizonans anymore!
Excerpt: In Arizona, it's now legal for (most) adults to carry a concealed weapon without a permit. Republican Gov. Jan Brewer just signed the legislation, putting her state in the same camp as Alaska and Vermont.

Remembering Pol Pot & communism
The eventual destination of statism is death and tyranny, as they have to control the people ever more. Excerpt: The Khmer Rouge declared revolutionary Year Zero thirty-five years ago today, on April 17, 1975, the day Communist guerrillas in black pajamas and truck-tire sandals marched victoriously through the streets of Phnom Penh. An indication of the regime's brutality came within 24 hours, when the Khmer Rouge ordered the two million residents of Phnom Penh, including hospital patients, to evacuate the city. Their reign of three years and eight months left Cambodia devastated, with the better part of an entire generation -- approximately 1.7 million Cambodians out of a population of 7.9 million -- annihilated by bullet, axe, shovel blow to the back of the head, plastic bag suffocation, unspeakable torture, or by starvation caused by ruinous economic policies. The Pol Pot clique set out to create history's most pure form of Communism in a single bound, striving to surpass even Mao's disastrous Great Leap Forward. Their success was Cambodia's failure. Despite the legacy of another horror-filled Marxist experiment, the lessons of the Khmer Rouge remain shrouded in equivocation and myth.

Obama’s NASA Speech Completely Staged – No NASA Employees Allowed to Attend
I get tired of saying that “If Bush did this…” Excerpt: Obama traveled to Florida to speak to NASA. Except that he didn’t. NASA employees were not allowed to attend the speech. This only became known after it was leaked out during a live segment on MSNBC by Jay Barbree — the longtime NBC science correspondent.

Time to Change the Rules of Engagement
Excerpt: At the heart of political correctness is the idea that the left can promote any agenda as long as they camouflage it with a name that is acceptable to a majority of the population. It is through this technique that the leftists are able to make even the most contemptible ideas seem noble. They mask their true intentions and then set up camp behind what appear to be noble causes: health care for all, helping the poor, defending oppressed minorities, educating children, comforting the elderly, protecting the planet, etc. From there, they may safely assail their opponents without fear of reprisal.

Mr. President, Your Animus Is Showing
Excerpt: The declaration this morning on the front page of the New York Times that the Obama administration has made an explicit shift in the U.S.-Israel relationship brings to mind words I published in COMMENTARY 10 months ago about the relationship between the United States and Israel in the Age of Obama: “There is no question that we have entered a new era, one that I expect will be characterized by tensions and unpleasantnesses of a kind unseen since the days when George H. W. Bush was president, James A. Baker III was secretary of state, and the hostility toward Israel oozed from both men like sweat from an intrepid colonial traveler’s brow as he journeyed across the Rub-al-Khali.”

Let Them Meet Steel
“They have asked for steel, they shall have it now.” Kipling. Excerpt: As Noah pointed out yesterday, Syria is now being credibly accused of shipping Scud missiles with a range of more than 430 miles to Hezbollah, placing Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and the Dimona nuclear power plant inside the kill zone. Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri has been forced under duress to visit Damascus and make amends with his father’s assassins, as has Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, effectively terminating whatever independence Lebanon scratched out for itself in 2005. At the same time, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad contemptuously taunts the president of the United States, whom he clearly perceives as a pushover. “American officials bigger than you,” he said of President Obama’s attempts to talk him out of developing nuclear weapons, “more bullying than you, couldn’t do a damn thing, let alone you.” Yet the Obama administration still seems to think engagement with Syria and the suggestion of possible sanctions against Iran may keep the Middle East from boiling over.

The View from the Left
Excerpt: Yes, liberal media spinners have had their way with manipulating public opinion for quite some time. They have ruined the reputations of conservatives with everything from live-mike verbal slipups to obscure misspelling errors. Democrats can be found with thousands of dollars hidden in their freezers or stuffing sensitive security documents down their pants, but call somebody ‘macacca' and prepare to face the lynch mob.

Jerry Brown, oil baron
Excerpt: When Jerry Brown recently held his first fundraiser as an official candidate for governor, he chose as the venue the Sacramento apartment where he lived the last time he held that office, after famously declining to live in the governor's mansion. Faced with multimillionaire Republican opponents, Mr. Brown wants to be seen as just a regular public employee, trying to hold his own against tycoons at the top of America's wealth disparity. While politically expedient, the image of Jerry Brown as everyman is patently false. Mr. Brown has a lot of money - how much exactly is not public - and unhappily for his environmentalist and global-warming-alarmist supporters, it's oil money. Even more unhappily for his campaign managers, it's money that may have led him to an attack against California's largest employer and a rewriting of state regulations to feather the family nest.

Calif. Sen. Boxer finds rocky re-election terrain
Excerpt: Hints of re-election trouble for U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer come from a 65-year-old travel agent from this leafy Los Angeles suburb who's a fellow Democrat. To Helen Sargent, taxes and the national debt are too high, President Barack Obama has proved a disappointment and the Democratic Party needs new faces. Boxer, who's seeking a fourth term this fall, "has been there too long," Sargent said. "All politicians have a shelf life." Those are troubling words for Boxer, who won in a 20-point landslide six years ago but now faces the fight of her political career. The nation's economic woes — particularly intense in hard-hit California — and a difficult electoral year for Democrats have created a rough challenge for the 69-year-old liberal Democrat.

Letter from a Marine Wife

Health law’s heavy impact
Excerpt: In the days leading up to the dramatic late-night vote on President Barack Obama’s health plan, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it …” Now that ObamaCare has passed, it is slowly dawning on people what the new law means for the country and for Washington state. ObamaCare sweeps away a host of state regulations and permanently alters our state’s insurance market. From now on, the federal government will manage the health care of all Washingtonians. The 2,700-page law contains a complex web of mandates, directives, price controls, tax increases and subsidies. Federal officials will now decide what kind of insurance people in Washington must have, what medicines will be covered, what treatments are allowed and which are not. Early reports indicate, however, that President Obama, Vice President Biden, the Cabinet, senior members of Congress and leadership staff are exempt. The new law falls well short of universal coverage. ObamaCare will leave about 6 percent of Washington residents without coverage. The measure is conservatively expected to cost $2.4 trillion in its first full decade. Thousands of older Washingtonians will lose their Medicare Advantage coverage, and the state’s 120,000 Health Savings Account holders may need to buy new policies or face stiff penalties. Washington residents will begin paying ObamaCare taxes this year, while most benefits don’t start until 2014. The law includes some 19 new taxes. Here’s a rundown of what Washingtonians can expect in the coming years. Penalties on individuals. Individuals will pay a yearly penalty of $695, or up to 2.5 percent of their annual income, if they cannot show they have purchased a government-approved health policy. Penalties on families. Families will pay a yearly penalty of $347 per child, up to $2,250 per family, if parents cannot show they have purchased a government- approved policy. Penalties on employers. Business owners with more than 50 employees must buy government- acceptable health coverage or pay a yearly penalty of $2,000 per employee if at least one employee receives a tax credit. Tax on investment income. ObamaCare imposes a 3.8 percent annual tax on investment income of individuals making $200,000 or more and on families making $250,000 or more. The new tax is not indexed to inflation, so more people will fall under it each year. Seniors on fixed incomes and people with IRAs and 401(k) plans will be hit particularly hard. Tax on “Cadillac” health plans. Starting in 2018, imposes a 40 percent annual tax on health care plans valued at $10,200 for individuals and $27,500 for families. Medicare tax increase. Requires single people earning $200,000 or more and couples earning $250,000 or more to pay an additional 0.9 percent in Medicare taxes. Tax on Home Sales. Imposes a 3.8 percent tax on home sales and other real estate transactions. Middle-income people must pay the full tax even if they are “rich” for only one day – the day they sell their house and buy a new one.

Comment from the Marine buddy who sent me the above column: This column is a couple of weeks old, but has some details in it that I had not seen before. I particularly note the tax on house sales, which is substantial and hits you even when you sell your old house for X thousand dollars, and buy the new one for X-plus thousand dollars (meaning you're really putting more money into your housing, not taking any profit). So you get hit for 3.8% of the selling price even if you didn't really make a profit selling from when you bought it, lose that percentage from your net after paying your mortgage, and get to buy your next place with what's left over.

Let's do the math. You bought the old house years ago for $200,000, plus of course your closing costs, let's say at least $2000, using a down payment of $40,000. Now you sell it, prices have gone up with inflation or more, for $230,000. Which means after you pay the 5% commission and closing costs again, the yield was $217,000. Except now you have to pay the 3.8% tax, which is $8740, so now the actual yield is down to $208,260 on the house that you really put out $202,000 to buy years ago. Given inflation, you just lost money on that investment, and you are going to go forward to buy your next house, and assuming it's anything as good as the house you just sold, will cost at least $230,000, with what amounts to your old $40K down payment plus a few thousand you finally yielded on the old house sale, plus of course the differential in what you paid off on the principal of your mortgage during those years.

So even if your house appreciated 15% in the time you owned it, you wind up about 4% ahead on the money. So if house prices have gone up more than 4% since you last bought, you're now behind. If your house appreciated less than 15%, you're really behind. This will do just marvels for house sales. A sensible tax would only apply on the actual cash profit when you buy your next house for less than what you yielded from the last one, not on the sale price.

I haven't read the Bill (how many people have? Certainly not many in Congress) so I cannot quote the exact section, but I'm going to assume that this writer is in a position to do so and has quoted things correctly. If so, this tax is truly an onerous one that will burden almost everyone from the lower middle class on up sooner or later, and not be good for the economy. The whole collection of taxes to pay for this Bill is going to add up to really serious impact on everyone who pays taxes. --Del

U.S. contractors failed to train Afghans to adjust AK-47 sights
Excerpt: For several years, Afghan police recruits under the tutelage of private U.S. government contractors couldn't understand why their marksmanship never improved. The answer became clear earlier this year. Italian contractors also helping to train Afghan volunteers showed them that the sights on their AK-47s and M-16s had never been adjusted. "We're paying somebody to teach these people to shoot these weapons, and nobody ever bothered to check their sights?" Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri said, after relating that story at a hearing Thursday. To McCaskill, who chaired the hearing of the Senate Contracting Oversight panel, it illustrated why the U.S. has spent more than $6 billion on private contractors, but the police-training program remains rife with problems.

Officials say Iraqi forces foil 9/11-style plot
Didn’t get the memo. Excerpt: Iraqi security forces disrupted a 9/11-style plot by al-Qaida in Iraq to fly hijacked planes into Shiite religious shrines, Iraqi and U.S. officials said Wednesday.
Iraqi security officials said they temporarily shut down at least two airports and have arrested two men — one of the intended pilots and an airport worker — suspected in the plot, which appeared aimed at undermining the country's stability while U.S. troops prepare to go home.

Somalia: Islamic supremacists forbid schools to ring bells because they remind them of churches
Excerpt: According to Islamic law, dhimmis -- primarily Jews and Christians under the "protection" of the Islamic state -- are "forbidden to openly display wine or pork, (A: to ring church bells or display crosses,) recite the Torah or Evangel aloud, or make public display of their funerals and feastdays" ('Umdat al-Salik, o11.5(6)). in this case, no actual dhimmis or churches are involved. The bells just remind the Islamic supremacists of churches, and so they have to be silenced.

Leftists, free speech and those dangerous tea party folks

A tale of three videos
How they slant things to disparage our forces

North Platte Canteen
How America was in another war.

Hedge fund manager in Goldman Sachs case is major Democratic donor
Excerpt: The billionaire hedge fund manager at the center of an alleged fraud hatched at Goldman Sachs, a leading investment bank, has given tens of thousands of dollars to both parties. Campaign fundraising records show that John A. Paulson, founder and chairman of the hedge fund Paulson & Co., gave $30,400 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in June, qualifying him as a major Democratic donor. He also gave $2,300 to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) reelection campaign in February of last year and $4,800 to Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) last April, according to records filed at the Federal Election Commission. But Paulson has also given thousands to Republicans and supported several GOP candidates for president in the 2008 election cycle. (Gave to both sides. Doesn’t care who wins, just wants access. Loath people like that.)

How the Democrats can avoid a November bloodbath
Excerpt: Media reports suggest that President Obama is turning his attention toward the midterm congressional elections. There are a few things it is imperative he understand if he is to, at the least, minimize Democratic losses in November. We are Democratic pollsters who argued against the health-care legislation ["Democrats' blind ambition," Washington Forum, March 12] that the Obama administration chose to pursue. Instead, we advocated incremental health-care reform. With the passage of health reform, some harsh political realities have emerged. Recent polling shows that despite lofty predictions that a broad-based Democratic constituency would be activated by the bill’s passage, the bill has been an incontrovertible disaster. The most recent Rasmussen Reports poll, released on April 12, shows that 58 percent of the electorate supports a repeal of the health-care reform bill — up from 54 percent two weeks earlier. Fueling this backlash is concern that health-care reform will drive up health costs and expand the role of government, and the belief that passage was achieved by fundamentally anti-democratic means. Already we are seeing the implications play out with the retirement of Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) — who had effectively become the face of the last-minute, closed-door negotiations that resulted in passage. Put simply, there has been no bounce, for the president or his party, from passing health care.

ObamaCare Ad

Let us help you pack!
Fun country song.

1 comment:

  1. I find the story about contractor's failing to teach pupils to adjust their sights a bit fishy.

    How many times have we been told that Afghans are taught to handle weapons from childhood?

    If it were a story about teaching US school kids, many of whom don't know from which end the bullet emerges, I might believe it.

    As it is, it sounds like a bit of propaganda that some editor regrets NOT publishing whilst W still held office.