April 20, 2006

Bill Pierce on ANWR and Energy

Filed under: Economy,Environment,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 3:05 pm

The full post is here at Pierce’s blog.

These highlights show that Pierce has brought his engineering background to bear, and has thought the ANWR issue through beyond the knee-jerk level:

I suggest that Congress immediately authorize exploratory drilling to determine the real quantity of oil and natural gas reserves exist in the Coastal Plain. Most geologists agree that the potential may rival or exceed the initial reserves at Prudhoe Bay, but we will not know until beneath the surface exploration is accomplished. At the same time, plans should be developed and initiated to build the base field and connect to the trans-Alaskan pipeline 50 miles to the west.

If the sub-surface exploration indicates the reserves are far greater than anticipated and a significant impact can be made on the amount of imported oil, then drilling should begin immediately. On the other hand if the exploration supports the current predictions or less, then the drilling operation should be built and the equipment maintained while the Coastal Plain reserves are capped and held as part of our nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserves (SPR).

He also has choice words for Mike DeWine’s implacable opposition to ANWR, and cites the need for a comprehensive energy independence strategy:

Senator Mike DeWine has voted against drilling in ANWR four times and has failed to offer any alternatives. Had he been our Senator in the mid-1970’s when the same debate was being waged, while using the same arguments, over Prudhoe Bay and the trans-Alaskan pipeline would never have been built. The result? A 20% loss in today’s domestic oil production, and the Caribou heard would be smaller because they have actually flourished due to the food supplies which grow under the pipeline.

The Administration, in collaboration with Congress, must develop a truly viable and meaningful energy policy. One that is driven towards a reduction in oil imports and ultimately to energy independence. Special interests groups, their agendas, and their influence peddling must be set aside so America can re-shape its energy requirements and fight for “independence” once again – this battle is no less important than the one waged for independence two hundred and thirty years ago.

If the idea of energy independence seems absurd, go here and here to read about US and Canadian reserves that could be easily unlocked that could last centuries at current usage rates.

Go read Bill’s entire post on ANWR and energy at his blog. Visit his main site. Contribute — Even if you think it’s not much, it is. Finally, vote for Bill Pierce on May 2 as if our energy future depends on it. Because, to a large extent, it does.
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UPDATE: The related FreeRepublic entry is here.
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Note: I have endorsed Bill Pierce for Senate, and have provided nominal financial support for his campaign. BizzyBlog is a member of Blogs for Pierce.

Pierce Bumper

Yahoo! Apparently Involved in Jailing Yet Another Chinese Dissident

Filed under: Corporate Outrage,Privacy/ID Theft,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:15 pm

BizzyBlog Internet Wall of Shame member Yahoo! apparently is continuing to justify its presence on the Wall (though the article indicates that the company may have a little wiggle room on this one):

Yahoo Inc. may have helped Chinese police to identify an Internet writer who was subsequently jailed for four years for subversion in the third such case, an advocacy group for journalists said on Wednesday.

News implicating Yahoo in the imprisonment of Jiang Lijun in 2003 surfaced on the eve of a summit between Chinese President Hu Jintao and President Bush in Washington.

….. The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said it had obtained a copy of the verdict showing that Yahoo! Holdings (Hong Kong) helped Chinese police to identify Jiang by confirming that the e-mail account ZYMZd2002 had been used jointly by Jiang and another pro-democracy activist Li Yibing.

“Little by little we are piecing together the evidence for what we have long suspected, that Yahoo! is implicated in the arrest of most of the people that we have been defending,” the group said.

….. But the watchdog conceded that the access code could also have been provided by Li, who is suspected of having been a police informer in the case.

The 40-year-old Jiang was accused of seeking to use “violent means” to impose democracy, Reporters Without Borders said.

The full Reporters Without Borders statement is here.

To keep up on developments relating to Chinese censorship and free speech on the Internet, there is NO better source than Rebecca MacKinnon at RConversation, who says this about the about the Jiang case (links within the excerpt at RConversation, and were not added here to encourage you to go there):

Way to go, Yahoo! When will Yahoo! senior executives, and their Chinese partner Alibaba, announce concrete measures to prevent such cases from happening in the future?

Their congressional testimony claimed they are reviewing practices, yet in public statements their top executives sound pretty unapologetic and unrepentant.

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UPDATE, April 20, 1PM: Michelle Malkin reports via Drudge that a woman on the south lawn at the White House shouted protests at President Bush and Chinese “President” Hu about Falun Gong persecution today before being led away and presumably arrested. I’m sure the Chinese people will see that on TV tonight (not).

UPDATE 2, April 20, 3PM: On the Yahoo!-Jiang story, this AP report published in USA Today has none of the reference to a possible police informant in the original Reuters report above.

Gee, I Predicted This, But Not That Cheney Would Be Among the Opportunists

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:45 am

First of all, let me be clear that Dick Cheney did nothing illegal (HT OpinionJournal.com’s Best of the Web), or even wrong, by taking advantage of the onetime increase (for 2005 only) in the charitable deductions limit to 100% of Adjusted Gross Income Congress created back in October of last year. The normal limitation, which kicked back in effective January 1 of this year, is 50% of Adjusted Gross Income. So the moonbats at the TaxProf post who are criticizing Mr. Cheney for being opportunistic are wayyyyy out of bounds. As Supreme Court justice Learned Hand said many years ago:

Anyone may arrange his affairs so that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which best pays the treasury. There is not even a patriotic duty to increase one’s taxes. Over and over again the Courts have said that there is nothing sinister in so arranging affairs as to keep taxes as low as possible. Everyone does it, rich and poor alike and all do right, for nobody owes any public duty to pay more than the law demands.

And since we’re talking charitable contributions here, the criticism raining down on Cheney very nearly fits the category of “no good deed goes unpunished” (unless someone is able to prove that Cheney personally lobbied for the change, AND that HE is somehow still benefitting from these contributions).

But, as I noted back on October 29, it WAS a mistake for Congress to pass an open-ended increase in the deduction limitation for charitable contributions and package it to the public as special Katrina relief:

This was supposedly designed to help storm victims, but applies to any charitable contributions to any qualified charity, whether storm-related or not.

This is obviously an incentive for the very wealthy to figure out how to minimize their tax liability between now and the end of the year that will likely end up doing little to help hurricane victims. This is good news for symphonies, ballets, arts festivals, and personal foundations, and will only benefit Florida and the Gulf Coast if rich donors are inclined to send more money in that direction. Given that there is no additional incentive for them to do so, I don’t see much of that happening.

TaxProf doesn’t see any indication that Cheney’s increased donations went to Katrina charities.

The problem is in how congressional leaders dishonestly presented the legislation, which may not have passed if it had been presented as a temporary increase in the allowance for ALL charitable contributions. There may be good public-policy reasons to have an unlimited allowance (up to 100% of taxable income) for charitable contributions, but that debate never occurred, and should have. The moonbats should be directing their anger at Congress, including member of both parties — but that’s probably why they’re focusing on Cheney instead.

Bizzy’s AM Coffee Biz-Econ-Life Links (042006)

Free Link:

  • USA Today reports that bank fees “get nastier” — The article at USAT is pretty superficial, which it shouldn’t have been, because the underlying piece USAT used from BankRate.com as the resource for the article has an awful lot of useful info consumers need to know (bolds are mine):

    The average balance requirement on interest-checking accounts hit a new high of $2,465. Note: This does not seem to be the case in the local Cincinnati-area market, where there are a lot of free checking with no minimum balance offers, even with interest; there may be quite a bit of fine print, but the offers are being advertised pretty aggressively. — Ed.) And you’re not getting much in return, as interest-checking yields remain in the cellar. (Now that IS true. — Ed.)

    The average bounced-check fee has increased with remarkable consistency since the twice-annual survey commenced in 1998. The first survey, in fall 1998, carried an average bounced-check fee of $21.57 and has increased about 25 percent since. Only twice in that time has the average fee failed to increase from one study to the next.

    ….. The cost of bounced checks doesn’t stop after the first occurrence. In fact, it gets worse. Why? Increasingly, banks are employing a tiered fee structure for bounced checks. Under the tiered structure, the cost of bouncing a check can increase as additional checks fail to clear.

    For example, since the last study, Wachovia Bank has introduced a tiered fee structure for bounced checks. The first check will cost $25, with the fee increasing to $30 each for the second, third and fourth checks, and anything beyond that is $35 each. Furthermore, Wachovia’s policy is typical of some other large banks, such as Bank of America and U.S. Bank, in that, when charging the fees, it counts all the occurrences during the past 12 months.

    ….. So, how best to protect yourself from the ever-escalating cost of bounced checks? The first line of defense is to sign up for overdraft protection, preferably by linking a savings account to your checking account. Also, be particularly diligent about recording all of your transactions, especially if you favor the use of a debit card or have regular monthly payments automatically withdrawn from your account.

    ….. ATM surcharges have soared more than 20 percent in the past two years, with the average surcharge rising from $1.32 in early 2004 to a record $1.60 now. Since the fall 2005 edition of the survey, 17 institutions raised surcharges, while just four reduced the fee.

    There has also been a sharp increase from one year ago in the prevalence of ATM surcharges, with Washington Mutual’s reinstatement of ATM surcharges in the fall study being the primary catalyst. Among the institutions that own ATMs, 98 percent now charge nonaccount holders for access, up from 89 percent two years ago and 91 percent one year ago. The bottom line: If you use another bank’s ATM, expect to pay (and pay more) for the privilege.

    There is some good news on the ATM-fee front, however. The fee banks charge their own customers for using another bank’s ATM dropped off notably since the last survey, with the average falling from $1.37 to $1.29. In contrast to the pervasive ATM surcharges, the prevalence of banks charging their own customers for using other banks’ ATMs has plummeted from 89 percent one year ago to a new low of 81 percent today.

    ….. The easiest, and most obvious, way to avoid ATM fees is to manage your withdrawals so that you only make withdrawals from your own bank’s ATMs. But let’s face it, that just isn’t practical 100 percent of the time. Fortunately, there are backup plans, such as getting cash back during a point-of-sale transaction when using a debit card. If you are a customer of a smaller bank or credit union with a very limited ATM network, investigate whether they belong to a surcharge-free alliance that permits use of any member ATM without additional fees.

    And it’s not all bad news. Here is a stat from the chart pages that BankRate put together to support their article:

    The average monthly service fee for noninterest accounts hit a new low. Yes, you read that right — a fee hit a new low. The average fee fell from $3 to $2.80, extending a gradual trend in recent years attributable to the growth of free checking.

Subscription-Only Link:

  • Steve Forbes on immigration: In an editorial that appears sensible on the surface, Forbes talks about enhancing border security without managing to mention “fence” or “wall,” and tries to explain how “realistic” the abhorrent Senate Judiciary Committee bill with the 11-year path to residency is without addressing the financial drains imposed on us by the current population of illegals.
    Those serious shortcomings aside, Forbes does address a topic that for some reason is off-limits to most, the pitiful Mexican economy, and drops a stat on us that is mind-boggling (bold is mine):

    A unified, comprehensive approach must also address issues with Mexico. Almost 30% of Mexico’s labor force is now in the U.S. Why? Most of the Mexican economy is stagnant; it doesn’t create the needed jobs. To generate rapid growth, Mexico should simplify and slash its onerous taxes. For one thing, it should adopt a low-rate flat tax. Hong Kong and a number of central and eastern European countries provide ample models for Mexico to emulate.

    Mexico also should tear down the barriers that prevent its citizens from doing business there. The World Bank’s survey Doing Business points out some of them: Starting a business there involves nine procedures, which take nearly two months to complete. Licensing is even more complicated and protracted. Mexico ranks 73rd among the 155 countries surveyed in ease of doing business. In contrast, Canada ranks 4th, while Chile ranks an impressive 25th. Even beleaguered Colombia has surged ahead of Mexico in the survey. The situation in Mexico would quickly change if the Mexican government got its economic act together.

    Nothing would encourage Mexico to get its act together more than the knowledge that it could no longer use the United States as a safety valve for its failed policies.

Anderson Township After-Action Report from Starship Trooper

Filed under: OH-02 US House — Tom @ 7:56 am

BizzyBlog is pleased to receive this report from the Anderson Township Republican Club meeting last night from Starship Trooper:

The McEwen love fest at the Healthplex was a non-event. I took notes. About 60 people, including the CCV president Phil Burress, the Whistleblower, 23 ATRC members, Tom Brinkman and of course, Duffy Beischel. McEwen is a polished speaker who appears very knowledgeable about the workings of the federal govt. His wife, Liz, and daughter, Meredith, were there. Steve Austin …. was there with his son.

I guess I was shocked to hear Bob refer to himself as “a lifelong resident of this state,” meaning Ohio. He said the Constitution requires that a candidate for the House be 25 years old and a resident of the state he seeks to represent. Bob stumbled a bit when he said “resident.”

At another point he said, “I think the purpose of the law is to abide by them.” Well, he was trying to say that the law is to be obeyed, because it’s the law. That shocked me, too, because of what (has been) uncovered about the residency problems, the driver’s license peculiarities, and the illegal voting.

….. McEwen never mentioned the word, Virginia, once. He also never said the name, Jean Schmidt.

He said that “redistricting” got him out of Congress, and that he built a couple of businesses to support himself and wife and four kids. He said he had so little money when he was in Congress that he couldn’t afford to contribute to the congressional retirement plan. He never once mentioned Amway or Quixtar or Advantage Associates. He never breathed the word, lobbyist, not even once.

He talked about his support of the death penalty and mentioned that he wouldn’t have any trouble saying that in front of the FOP.

He endeavored to paint Jean as pro-tax, as part of the Taft tax and spend bunch, and blamed her in the same breath that he blamed the Taft Administration for moving Ohio’s tax status in the US from 30th to 3d.

He said the theme of his campaign is “More Jobs, Not More Taxes.”

Outside the healthplex there were about 9 or 10 young pups carrying signs asking Bob about his involvement lobbying for Eritrea. On the way home I stopped and praised them for being there.

Duffy made a few snide comments in his opening statement about Jean not showing up. But in general the meeting was very quiet and orderly. The deputy sheriff had nothing to do but stand and listen. Bob’s answers to Duffy’s questions received applause at least 11 times. The meeting lasted just about one hour.

….. The anti-Jean sentiments of most of the ATRC will provoke a loss of membership in my opinion. A number of folks are upset that the club is so one-way in this primary.

Thanks to Starship Trooper for the report.

I have also been told that there was a straw poll, and that McEwen won 22-1. Way to go, Bob.
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RELATED ITEM: Howard Wilkinson’s Enquirer report (“Debaters display mutual disdain — Schmidt and McEwen probe for sore spots”) on the early-evening “debate” on WLWT that preceded the Anderson Township meeting notes that, as expected, the atmosphere was quite testy. Bill Sloat at Cleveland Openers also has a post (HT OH02).

Prolife Display-Trashing Prof’s “Repentance” Appears to Be a Sham

Filed under: News from Other Sites,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:40 am

Sally Jacobsen’s active encouragement and involvement in destroying a prolife “Cemetery of the Innocents” display last week at Northern Kentucky University led to her permanent removal from the classroom and an early retirement from the University.

She issued an apology late Tuesday:

I deeply regret my impulsive action in dismantling that display,” Jacobson said late Tuesday. “It was a mistake of judgment for me to invite my students to participate in that action.”

Jacobson told WKRC-TV in a taped interview that she hoped her actions did not damage the reputation of the college.

“I really love NKU and care very much about my students and don’t want them to be harmed,” she said. “At this point, I really want the university to be able to defuse the firestorm of attention around this.”

The WKRC apology story is here.

Ms. Jacobsen’s public regret appears to be insincere posturing, while in reality she may be teetering on the edge of obstructing the investigation. In fact, there is astonishing evidence that she doesn’t mean a word of what was in her apology. If that is indeed the case, she has badly underestimated New Media’s attention span, and it may cost her dearly.

Steven Ertelt of Prolife News is one of those unsung heroes who sticks with a story after most people think it’s over. People know that, which is why he catches wind of news like this (incorrect spellings of the professor’s last name in the original have been corrected):

A university professor who was forced to resign after leading a group of pro-abortion students in vandalizing a pro-life display has attacked pro-life advocates in a private email to the students involved. The email also encourages the students to “make it hard” for police investigating the vandalism to find them.

News of the email is surfacing just hours after Northern Kentucky University professor Dr. Sally Jacobsen issued an apology for her actions.

….. Meanwhile, Jacobsen emailed the pro-abortion students involved in the vandalism and urged them to obtain attorneys and to resist being charged by police in the matter. She worries (that) charges will aid the pro-life movement.

“If you are named, my advice is to get your attorney to plead you down to a misdemeanor,” she wrote, according to The Northerner student paper. “The well-funded Right to Life groups that are pushing for this need felony convictions, I believe, in order to file civil suits for damages.”

Jacobsen also told the students about the current investigation the NKU police department (is) conducting, even encouraging the pro-abortion students to make it difficult for police to locate them.

“In the meantime, the campus police continue their investigation,” she said. “If you have not yet been interrogated, you do not have to talk to them without an attorney. You can make it hard to find you. Again, I am so sorry.”

Jacobsen and the students involved could face as much as a Class D felony for their actions. Charges have not yet been filed against those involved in the destruction of the pro-life display but NKU Officer Rob Yelton told the student paper they are forthcoming.

The early thinking is that the grad students involved in the destruction may not be charged with any crime:

“At this time, we don’t anticipate the students being charged,” Lt. Col. Jeffrey Martin said. “They were intimidated by an authority figure into believing that this was not a criminal act.”

Commonwealth Attorney Jack Porter, the local prosecutor, will make the final decision on the charges, and the officers indicated they thought he would grant the students immunity but charge Jacobson for her part in the vandalism.

Jacobsen clearly hopes this is the case, according to the paper, as she wrote the students that she wants to help them avoid prosecution.

“I want to do everything I can to keep any of you from being specifically named,” she said. “And I am very sorry I got you involved in this.”

Jacobson, whose classes have been given to other professors to complete for the semester, also warned the pro-abortion students to stay away from her office on campus.

Here’s hoping authorities change their minds about letting the grad students off scot-free, especially if they begin adopting Ms. Jacobsen’s suggestions.

And assuming the email that Ertelt is referring to is indeed proven to be Jacobsen’s, any thoughts of leniency in her situation ought to be summarily discarded.
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Previous Posts:
April 14 — University Intolerance Watch: Abortion Display Destroyed
April 18 — Very Good, But Not Good Enough

Positivity: Celebrating One of the Many Heroes of Dunkirk As He Passes On

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:54 am

Churchill called Dunkirk the “Miracle of Deliverance.” Miracle or not, the massive troop evacuation enabled Great Britain to regroup, and with the help of the US, ultimately defeat the Nazis in World War II.

Robert Walter Timbrell was a big part of Dunkirk:

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