March 31, 2010

NYT’s Zernike: Tea Partying Something To Do While Unemployed, Collecting Govt. Benefits

ZernikeBetcha didn’t know this: The Tea Party movement’s growth was fueled by unemployed people lying around looking for something to do, and will have a hard time sustaining itself if/when the economy improves. Oh, and they’re so distressed about the country’s circumstances that they’re letting emotion trump facts in their advocacy.

Those are the themes of Kate Zernike’s Saturday New York Times report with the snarky title (“With No Jobs, Plenty of Time for Tea Party”) that was carried on the front page of Sunday’s print edition. Really. This is the same Kate Zernike (pictured at top right) who saw racism where none existed at CPAC in February, and who Andrew Breitbart memorably called “a despicable human being.” Seems about right.

Zernike’s piece attempted to support its pathetic premises and implications as a result of discussions with three — count ‘em — individuals. One of them is in her mid-60s and collecting Social Security, hardly the archetype of a disaffected unemployed person. Comically, the Times reporter characterized Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks a “Tea Party group,” even though it was founded in 1984, a quarter-century before Rick Santelli’s memorable tea-party rant last year.

Here are selected passages from Kate’s calamity:

At rallies, gatherings and training sessions in recent months, activists often tell a similar story in interviews: they had lost their jobs, or perhaps watched their homes plummet in value, and they found common cause in the Tea Party’s fight for lower taxes and smaller government.

The Great Depression, too, mobilized many middle-class people who had fallen on hard times. Though, as Michael Kazin, the author of “The Populist Persuasion,” notes, they tended to push for more government involvement. The Tea Party vehemently wants less — though a number of its members acknowledge that they are relying on government programs for help.

The fact that many of them joined the Tea Party after losing their jobs raises questions of whether the movement can survive an improvement in the economy, with people trading protest signs for paychecks.

But for now, some are even putting their savings into work that they argue is more important than a job — planning candidate forums and get-out-the-vote operations, researching arguments about the constitutional limits on Congress and using Facebook to attract recruits.

“Even if I wanted to stop, I just can’t,” said Diana Reimer, 67, who has become a star of the effort by FreedomWorks, a Tea Party group, to fight the health care overhaul. “I’m on a mission, and time is not on my side.”

… She and others who receive government benefits like Medicare and Social Security said they paid into those programs, so they are getting what they deserve.

“All I know is government was put here for certain reasons,” Ms. Reimer said. “They were not put here to run banks, insurance companies, and health care and automobile companies. They were put here to keep us safe.”

… (Unemployed Midwesterner Jeff McQueen) and others do not see any contradictions in their arguments for smaller government even as they argue that it should do more to prevent job loss or cuts to Medicare. After a year of angry debate, emotion outweighs fact.

Tea Party groups like FreedomWorks recognize that they are benefiting from the labor of many people who have been hit hard economically. But its chairman, the former House majority leader Dick Armey, argued that their ranks will remain strong — and connected — even as members find work.

In Zernike’s world it’s almost as if you can’t criticize the government’s excessive largesse unless you’re not taking a dime of government benefits in any way, shape, or form.

As to her contention that Tea Party involvement will diminish as the economy improves, three points:

  • Based on my real-world observations of Tea Partiers, many of them do have jobs, and are working their activism around their work.
  • Many active Tea Partiers are in jobs or have self-employed businesses with a lot of time flexibility.
  • The Obama administration itself has said that the employment situation won’t improve much for quite some time, making Zernike’s assertion that Tea Partiers might become to busy to stay politically engaged a far-off dream.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Positivity: John Paul II loved Christ unconditionally, Pope recalls as anniversary nears

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:33 am

From Vatican City:

Mar 29, 2010 / 05:28 pm

Pope Benedict XVI celebrated the Mass at St. Peter’s on Monday evening for the fifth anniversary of Venerable John Paul II’s death. He called his predecessor a “great Pole” whose entire life was given out of charity.

Among the many others taking part in the Mass was Cardinal Archbishop of Krakow Stanislaw Dziwisz, the late-Pope’s personal secretary. The Mass was celebrated four days before the actual day of Pope John Paul II’s death, April 2, because it falls on Good Friday this year.

In his homily, the Holy Father likened John Paul II to the figure of the “Servant of God” described by the prophet Isaiah in Monday’s Liturgy of the Word. The Servant, the Pope said, “will act with steadfast firmness, with an energy that is not lacking until he has realized the task he has been assigned.”

“What the inspired prophet says about the Servant, we can also apply to the beloved John Paul II,” the Holy Father said, noting that late-Pontiff was guided by the Lord to “exercise a very fruitful ministry, for which, once again, we give fervent thanks to God.”

Pope Benedict went on to say that John Paul II’s actions reflected the charity we see in today’s Gospel reading which recounts the story of Mary of Bethany, who washed the feet of Jesus with an expensive oinment and dried them with her hair. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

Stupak’s Startling Statement to Catholic News Agency Ignored Elsewhere

03_25_2010_StupakThis item may not surprise those of us who have watched politicians take the safe way out at any opportunity, but it will give any voters who come across it reason to doubt any Democratic congressman who says that he or she voted no on principle against Obamacare on Sunday, March 21.

This explains why it hasn’t been covered much — and maybe not at all — in any establishment media outlet.

On March 26, the Catholic News Agency had an exclusive interview with Michigan congressman Bart Stupak. Wait until you see some of the things he admitted to CNA:

Rep. Stupak: Speaker Pelosi had extra health care votes ‘in her pocket’

The health care reform bill would have passed the House without the votes of Rep. Bart Stupak’s pro-life Democrats because House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “always carries a number of votes in her pocket,” Stupak told CNA in a Thursday phone interview.

The Michigan Democrat explained that by opting for the executive order, pro-life Democrats believe they ensured the legislation was “somewhat restrictive” towards abortion funding.

“Speakers never bring a bill to the floor, unless they have the votes. And they always have few in reserve,” Stupak revealed, describing this as a “common tactic” that was used in the defeat of the Dornan Amendment in a funding bill earlier this year.

“The Speaker always carries a number of votes in her pocket,” he said, meaning that some members who voted ‘no’ would have voted ‘yes’ if needed.

“I had a number of members who thanked us after because they could vote no.”

Rep. Stupak said he thought the votes available for Sunday’s vote totaled 222.

Well, okay Bart, who were these Dems who didn’t have the courage to vote their convictions, and instead wish to go back to their constituents and claim they didn’t support the ObamaCare monstrosity? (crickets …)

Better yet, pal, don’t tell us. It would be much more convenient for November voters to presumptively assume that their no-voting Democratic congressman really was a “yes” until Bart bailed them out. That works for me, and it would work for many other like-minded Americans — which is why the press will more than likely pretend that the CNA-Stupak interview doesn’t exist.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

March 30, 2010

Sandy O’Brien to Speak at Anderson Tea Party Event

Filed under: Activism,Life-Based News,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:19 pm

SandyOBrien0310Republican for Real and Secretary of State candidate Sandy O’Brien, whom Matt Hurley of Weapons of Mass Discussion and I had the pleasure of interviewing a few weeks ago on TIB radio, will be speaking at the Anderson Tea Party event on April 8. The full event goes from 7-9 p.m., and is in the Anderson High School cafeteria.

Sandy is the SOS candidate who defeated the favored GOP primary candidate of ORPINO (the Ohio Republican Party In Name Only) when she ran for Treasurer in 2006. Jon Husted, who claims to be pro-life, endorsed O’Brien’s pro-abort opponent that year.

Sandy is also the SOS candidate who isn’t pretending as an Ohio State Senator to represent a district where he doesn’t live (I have visited the Kettering house where Husted allegedly “splits his time.” Anyone doing so would conclude, as I have, that Husted doesn’t spend more than very minimal time there; nothing the courts have decided alters that). That SOS candidate engaging in this deceptive behavior is the completely unacceptable Jon Husted.

Sandy O’Brien is also the SOS candidate who is NOT proposing to the make the state’s redistricting procedures less transparent and more vulnerable to political manipulation by unelected officials. The SOS candidate doing that is the completely unacceptable Jon Husted.

GM Financial Shakeup, a Conflicted Hire, and Delayed Reporting Either Not or Barely News at AP

GovernmentMotors0609Yesterday, Government/General Motors announced changes in its financial management team.

Chris Liddell, who himself just started at GM in January, brought on a new VP to be involved with its pension investments. More interestingly, he hired a new VP and Treasurer with an interesting background (bold is mine):

During his 11 years at Morgan Stanley (head of Industrials Investment Banking), (Daniel) Ammann was instrumental in many high profile assignments spanning a variety of technology, service, and manufacturing clients. His diverse experience in mergers, acquisitions, raising capital, and restructuring includes leading Morgan Stanley’s banking team in advising GM on its restructuring and sale pursuant to Section 363 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

How convenient.Morgan Stanley helped GM file for bankruptcy, during which the Obama administration engaged in heavy-handed disparate treatment of non-TARP secured creditors during the bankruptcy process.

Oh, and did I forget to note that GM won’t submit its audited financial statements to the Securities and Exchange Commission until about two weeks after the deadline for normal companies (note the “not to worry” tone at the link)?

A search on the company’s name at the Associated Press’s main site as of about 2 PM ET indicates that the wire service has ignored the management shake-up. It did so a story yesterday on the financial statement delay containing all of five paragraphs (presented in full for fair use and discussion purposes):

APonGMlateFinancials032910

Note that the report never mentions that the company is government-controlled, or that the government has pumped at least $50 billion into it.

The unbylined report also lets GM slide by on its excuse about fair value determination. With all due respect, guys, the company has had almost nine months since it emerged from bankruptcy to get it right — and though it isn’t easy, the task isn’t tough enough to justify that delay, especially since fair value is normally based on the date the company emerged and is typically not subject to subsequent adjustment.

Absent a smoking-gun e-mail, no one will ever be able to prove this, but the delay from here looks to be motivated by something other than the need for precision. Perhaps the company is trying to delay the inevitable bad news (if it is indeed bad) as long as possible. Or it could be that the government’s car czars have decided that releasing the financials on about April 15 might cause them to get less press and public attention because of other big news stories. It looks like the AP is set to cooperate.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Priorities of the IRS ‘Health-Care Police’; The Individual Mandate Will Not Be Where the Money Is

Filed under: Economy,Health Care,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:13 pm

The real money will be in finding even small amounts of unreported income, and in deciding who is and isn’t “married.”

_________________________________________________________

William McGurn makes some good points today in his WSJ column (may require subscription) on the enforcement of ObamaCare’s individual health care mandate:

There’s no way to afford expensive provisions such as forcing insurance companies to cover people with, say, pre-existing conditions unless millions of healthy people who won’t need insurance are forced to pay into the system. With the mandate, the government gets more healthy people into the risk pool—and with the penalty it gets their money whether they buy coverage or not.

… The original House bill opened the door for criminal sanctions against Americans who didn’t buy health insurance and pay the penalty. The Senate bill did the same until Sen. John Ensign (R., Nev.) successfully pushed to amend the bill. Even so, the final language begs the question … Who’s going to enforce the mandate, and how?

It’s more than a theoretical proposition. Approximately one in six drivers goes without auto insurance, according to the Insurance Research Council, even though most states require it.

McGurn’s work is helpful, but it misses the point of tax-law enforcement: raising the most in revenues at the least cost.

Enforcing the individual mandate won’t be where the money is. According to a John Cassady blog post at the New Yorker, we’re talking $750 or so for each person who doesn’t buy coverage beginning in 2016.

That’s chump change.

This table shows that the real money to be had (i.e., the subsidies to be recovered) will be:

OCareSubsidies033010withMarriage

(The examples presented involve couples earning equal incomes who have no children, and are based on analysis work done by Robert Rector at the Heritage Foundation based on the Senate health care bill as of January; Rector used the Kaiser Family Foundation’s subsidy calculator as a starting point and where necessary did additional work to calculate the married-couple subsidies and to estimate the subsidizing impact of other provisions of the law. The numbers resulting from the law passed by Congress and signed by the President last week do not materially differ.)

As illustrated, the real money the IRS will be on the prowl for will involve:

  • (Orange and purple boxes) Finding middle-income and upper middle-income people who are under-reporting income even by a small amount to avoid losing their ObamaCare subsidies. The purple boxes represent situations where the subsidy lost is over 100% of the additional income gained. The orange boxes show where the subsidy lost is “only” 80% or more.
  • (Blue boxes) Finding middle-income and upper middle-income people who say they are single or cohabiting to keep their ObamaCare subsidies when they are really still “legally” married, or “divorced” and still living together. The disincentives to marry and the incentive to divorce, especially for couples in their 50s and early 60s, is self-evident from the table.

I covered the disincentive effects of the first item in my most recent column.

As to the marriage/cohabitation issue, some background about marriage if there is no license or ceremony is here. It seems that in general a cohabiting couple can maintain their individual status as “singles” for legal purposes no matter how long they live together, and that the government currently can’t challenge them, unless that couple goes out into the world and pretends to be legally married.

A significant trend towards cohabitation and away from marriage (something that has been occurring for decades and would probably accelerate given the above incentives to stay single), accompanied by an increase in divorces driven by the subsidies that would be available for doing so, would cause billions in unanticipated ObamaCare subsidies to flow out of the Treasury.

To solve these two enforcement problems, absent repeal, it is not unreasonable to predict that:

  • The IRS will leverage its new access to everyone’s bank accounts in search of activity that looks like it relates to unreported income. In some cases, at least based on info generated out of the Kaiser calculator, finding even a few dollars in unreported income could trigger subsidy losses of over $10,000.
  • Legislation and/or regulations will evolve that will define what being “married” is for ObamaCare purposes. It has the potential to be every bit as complex as the guidance for when a person is or isn’t an employee for tax purposes. (Aren’t these the same people who say that the government has no business peeking into our bedrooms?)

The IRS resources devoted to enforcement would necessarily have to be very significant. 16,500 additional agents seems like a ridiculously low estimate of the projected “need.”

Insulting Our Intelligence

Filed under: 2nd Amendment,Activism,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:35 am

Worst example of shameless pandering, at least in Ohio — ever:

Former U.S. Senator and current Ohio attorney general candidate Mike DeWine will soon be able to pack heat.

“My wife and I are finishing up our course,” DeWine said on Saturday, March 27, at the Ohio Liberty Fair in Troy.

DeWine, a Cedarville Republican, said he and his wife are getting concealed carry permits once they finish the mandatory gun safety course.

Rather than rant, I’ll let the Buckeye Firearms Association explain (one-page PDF) why Mike and Fran DeWine’s sudden interest in carrying guns is hyper-hypocritical:

BuckeyeFirearmsAntiDewine2010

The same Dayton Daily News item contains strong evidence that the grandstanding isn’t fooling anyone:

DeWine was one of several Republican candidates who spoke at the fair, which was co-sponsored by the Dayton Tea Party and the Miami County Liberty Group.

About 100 people listened quietly to DeWine’s short speech, but his almost-opponent, Steve Christopher, received standing ovations.

More graphics-creative people than yours truly should start cranking out the Sheriff Mike cartoons.

Positivity: African American founder of New Orleans religious order declared venerable by Pope

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:57 am

From Vatican City:

Mar 28, 2010 / 01:07 am

Benedict XVI has approved the cause for the canonization of a Spanish religious sister and cleared the way for the beatification of eight other individuals. Among others advancing on the road to declared sainthood is Servant of God Henrietta Delille of New Orleans, who was declared to have lived a life of “heroic virtue.”

Sixteen new decrees regarding cases of possible saints were approved in the Vatican in a meeting between the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Archbishop Angelo Amato, and Pope Benedict on Saturday morning.

A miracle was approved for the cause Spanish sister Boniface Rodriguez Castro, foundress of the Congregration of the Missionary Servants of St. Joseph. According to Vatican Radio, she showed exemplary humility in her life, continuing to live with dignity and faith even after being sent away from the order she founded in support of working women, bearing the contempt of her fellow sisters and living a life of silence.

She was exonerated and recognized for her holiness only after her death in 1905.

Among the eight candidates now authorized for beatification are three 20th century martyrs: German diocesan priest, Fr. Gerhard Hirschfelder, who died in the Nazi concentration camp at Dachau in 1942; Slovenian Luigi Grozde, lay member of the Catholic Action group who was killed “out of hate for the Faith” in 1943; and Bishop Szilard Bogdanffy of Romania who died in jail in 1953.

The single American to be recognized in this most recent round of decrees is Mother Henrietta Delille, foundress of the Louisiana-based Congregation of Sisters of the Holy Family. A free woman of African descent, Venerable Henrietta Delille started the African American congregation in 1842 with the goal of educating the children of slaves and caring for the sick, poor and elderly. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

March 29, 2010

Foment This

The tired cries of foul concerning allegedly overheated rhetoric in opposition to the president’s agenda are so pathetic that in sensible times they wouldn’t be worth the effort to refute.

But these are clearly not sensible times. Thus what follows, which is based on items in an e-mail whose links check out, is necessary (with some editing and clean-up by yours truly):

Recent violence/threats against conservatives and others for their beliefs and/or societal roles:
- Anti-abortion Protester Shot Dead
- Military recruiter Shot Dead
- Pentagon Shooter: 911 Truther, Anti-Bush Loon & Registered Democrat
- Leftist Issues Death Threats to Palin & Family
- Leftist Death Threats Against Bush Link includes death threats on network TV and in award-winning plays. For extra added fun: a death threat issued by a Nobel Peace Prize laureate is documented.

Leftist Hate Crime Hoaxes:
- Here
- Here
- Here
- Here

Other threats and intemperance:
- Leftist Throws Tomatoes at Palin Of course, being a leftist, he couldn’t aim for sh*t & hit a cop instead.
- Montel Williams hopes for a violent death for Michelle Bachmann
- Vandals Strike Military Recruiting Center
- Leftists Attack UC Berkeley Chancellor’s Home

Leftists Vandalize Churches:
- Here
- And Harass Christians
- Even the NY Times Realizes it
- Leftists Bully an Old Woman over her Prop. 8 Contribution
- “Burn their f—ing churches to the ground, and then tax the charred timbers,”

Then there are the peace & love leftists who were going to use their peaceful molotov cocktails at the Republican National Convention (also noted at Powerline over the weekend).

We’ve got your Bush-as-Nazi here.

And, of course, when gov’t worker Bill Sparkman turned up dead with the word “FED” written on his chest, the MSM made the immediate assumption that it was anti-gov’t conservatives who murdered him. The guy killed himself. But he wanted to make it look like a homicide so his son could collect on his life insurance policy. It would have worked if it was the MSM and lefty bloggers investigating his death. Fortunately, the police aren’t as bigoted and let the evidence do the talking (Yours truly noted that the AP and others have never retracted their original reports — Ed.)

Over the weekend, Glen Reynolds did a great job mimicking a “hate-filled eliminationist rhetoric” theme
- Here
- Here
- Here
- Here

- Along with a small sampling of the double-standard two-step

- Ooooh, and some leftists are angry at Rep. Jean Schmidt, so they left a “polite” voice mail outlining their disagreements with her (along with threats of gun violence).

Now we have wire reports of use of the N-word reported despite total lack of evidence in the presence of numerous cameras, taping devices, and microphones, and a bogus claim of deliberate spitting that wasn’t (*). Spare me.

____________________________________

(*) – If you want real, documented examples of spitting, which loony lefties still deny, go here. Remember that the loons’ standard of proof over Vietnam-era spitting was and apparently still is photographic evidence from an era when the only people who had video cameras rolling were in the press. Numerous testimonials from independent events and unrelated people mean nothing to deniers.

Earn More, End Up With Less, and Even Fork Over Your ‘Wealth’

IRSagentban-marriage-80x801ObamaCare’s “subsidy”-driven prescription for America, even more than its additional taxes and fees, contains powerful and destructive incentives against job creation, personal success — and marriage.

_________________________

Note: This column went up at Pajamas Media (under the title “Should Grandma Get Divorced? ObamaCare Says So”), and was teased and extended here at BizzyBlog on Saturday.

Additional Note: For those interested in more detail about where the numbers came from:
- See this comment I made at the Pajamas media column (#63, in case the link doesn’t take you straight there).
- Go to this online calculator at the Kaiser Family Foundation. As noted at my PJM comment, it’s useful at middle and higher income levels, but there are other factors that come into play at income levels just above Medicaid.

____________________________

It’s interesting, isn’t it, how the truth is coming out about ObamaCare now that the House has passed it and the president has signed it?

On Tuesday, Michigan Congressman John Dingell told WJR’s Paul W. Smith, in response to a question about why much of the legislation doesn’t kick in until 2014, that:

… when you’re going to pass legislation that will cover 300 [million] American people in different ways it takes a long time to do the necessary administrative steps that have to be taken to put the legislation together to control the people.

Many of us already knew that this has been the agenda all along; but now it’s out there, and they can’t take it back.

David Leonhardt, the propagandist who pretends to be a business reporter for the New York Times, let the redistributionist cat out of the bag in Wednesday ‘s paper in a piece entitled “In Health Bill, Obama Attacks Wealth Inequality.” Note: Not merely “income” inequality, “wealth” inequality. More on that in a bit.

Then on Thursday morning, as the Democrat-controlled Senate wrestled with Republican members over stripping certain language from the bill, the Associated Press’s Alan Fram confirmed the wire service’s status as the official propaganda arm of the Democratic Party when he sobbed that these maneuvers might prolong “what has been a politically painful ordeal for the party.” Zheesh.

Much has been written about the legislation’s onerous taxes, including items large and small. One of the biggies is a new 3.8% hit on capital gains, dividends, investment income, and rental income. One relatively small but especially annoying item that betrays the control-freak nature of the bill alongside Congress’s breathtaking economic ignorance is its 10% excise tax on indoor tanning services. One tanning salon owner predicts that 1,000 salons will close within 12 months after the tax goes into effect on July 1. Didn’t somebody say in his January State of the Union address that “jobs must be our number-one focus in 2010″?

Beyond the paramount moral issues relating to the quality and availability of medical care, anyone who believes that ObamaCare will only affect high-income earners and a few isolated industries is in for a rude shock if the legislation is not successfully repealed in time. How rude? ObamaCare’s worst financial provisions have nothing to do with taxes, but instead relate to its subsidies. When they take full effect, their impact will dramatically advance each of three goals described above: income and wealth redistribution, control, and the long-term political power of the far left.

The estimable Robert Rector at the Heritage Foundation laid out the numbers on January 20. While Rector’s laudable primary goal was to demonstrate the destructive effect of the subsidy structure on couples’ willingness to get or stay married (which will become apparent without further comment), he also devastatingly detailed what happens to people — married or unmarried — if they simply try to financially advance themselves.

The following information from Tables 2 and 3 of Rector’s post, with boxes added by me, illustrates the overwhelming disincentives of ObamaCare’s subsidy structure. Per Rector, “The subsidies include Medicaid eligibility, insurance premium credits, and out-of-pocket health care expense credits as applicable.” The examples presented involve couples earning equal incomes who have no children.

Brace yourself:

ObamaCareSubsidyPhaseouts032610

The orange boxes represent examples where the subsidy decrease amounts to almost 80% or more than 80% of a couple’s $5,000 increase in combined or joint income. After adding another 7.65% for Social Security and Medicare taxes on top of the typical 15% (or higher) marginal federal income tax rate, the extra $5,000 earned will cost the couple more than $5,000 — even before considering state and local income taxes.

Then there are the purple boxes, where subsidy loss alone amounts to more than $5,000, including one case where it’s more than double that, before considering any other taxes.

The New York Times’s use of “wealth” in its headline for Leonhardt’s story was perhaps accidental, but in reality painfully accurate. People who advance themselves will not only in most cases be left with little or nothing additional to show for their efforts, they will in many situations have to pay for the privilege out of their own “wealth” — or if they don’t have any “wealth” laying around, by borrowing.

There’s a term for a state that penalizes additional earnings on a dollar-for-dollar basis, and it surely isn’t “representative democracy.” I don’t think anyone has yet coined a word describing a political philosophy that is okay with taking more than that. Perhaps it should be “Obamism.” Note that this is far more extreme than virtually anything Europe’s most brazen socialists have attempted since World War II.

Given the disincentives, many and probably most lower- and middle-income Americans will conclude that there’s no point in accepting promotions, working overtime, getting a second job, or attempting any other form of financial self-improvement (except perhaps under the table). They will thus end up stuck where they are. The remarkable income mobility which is so critical to long-term economic growth and prosperity and which has marked this great nation as so unique for centuries will become a distant memory.

Not coincidentally, the “haves” will remain the haves, which takes us back to Congressman Dingell’s statement about “control(ling) the population” and to the far left’s lust for a permanent perch in power without having to endure the “ordeal” of dissent. If ObamaCare is successfully installed, a demotivated population so dependent on government largesse for its very health and its mediocre but low-risk economic well-being will fiercely resist any attempt by those who love freedom and liberty to upset  things in any way.

What Congress and Obama have imposed must be utterly repudiated and totally repealed. An America whose population still believes in the values of its Founders would remove from office anyone who voted for this tyrannical monstrosity — if not in November’s elections, shortly thereafter through impeachment. The question is: Are we still that country?

Debbie Doubles Down: Schlussel’s Follow-up on Hannity, Freedom Concerts, and the Freedom Alliance

Filed under: Business Moves,Scams — Tom @ 8:00 am

I rejected a Blogad pushing Sean Hannity’s new book over the weekend. I would humbly suggest that other bloggers consider doing the same.

I believe that this nominal financial sacrifice is necessary because, sad to say, Debbie Schlussel’s follow-up post (“Big Business: Who Owns the Freedom Concerts?”) to her original (“Sean Hannity’s Freedom CONcert Scam”) has plenty of substance and many serious charges, well beyond what I observed about her original — much more than I have time or space to detail here.

If what she asserts about the relationship between the for-profit Freedom Concerts (FC) and the not-for-profit Freedom Alliance (FA) is true (“only a $4 surcharge on Freedom Concert tickets goes to Freedom Alliance”), I consider the enterprise to be seriously misleading at best.

If the FA is really only getting $4 for each concert attendee plus perhaps a percentage of the gross from merchandise sales, it is getting seriously shortchanged (which then raises questions about how FA raises the rest of its monies, and re-opens the issue of whether its 60%-plus program expense level is justifiable).

If FC’s events and the ancillary activities are also an undue personal enrichment and/or entertainment enterprise for those involved, something for which there appears to be considerable evidence, it’s a double shame.

If FC’s May 3, 2008 Las Vegas event was packaged to appear as another charitable benefit and really wasn’t, as Schlussel claims, that takes the potential deception to a whole new level.

What would Bob Hope say?

Here is perhaps the best indicator that Debbie has hit a bullseye: Her second post went up mid-Thursday afternoon. In the intervening 3-1/2 days, I have seen no attempt by any of those who defended Hannity after Debbie’s original post go to bat for him a second time. I don’t think it’s because they’re naive enough to believe they can ignore her work. I believe/hope it’s because they are leaving it to Hannity, FA, and FC to explain themselves — which they haven’t done, and badly need to do.

_________________________________________

UPDATE: Incoming … You didn’t expect the left not to capitalize, did you? Is that Debbie’s fault?

UPDATE 2: There’s a new March 24 Schlussel post devoted to Hannity’s book tour, further vindicating yours truly’s decision not to take Hannity’s ad. Ouch.

Positivity: Packers Loyalty Saved Man’s Life

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:56 am

From Racine, Wisconsin:

Updated: Monday, 15 Mar 2010, 12:48 PM EDT
Published : Monday, 15 Mar 2010, 12:48 PM EDT

Being a Green Bay Packers fan for more than six decades has given Jim Becker decades of excitement, heartache and may even have saved his life.

Becker, 79, of Racine, Wis., attended his first Packers game in 1941 when he was 11. He attended games every season from 1952 to 2008.

While watching Green Bay greats like Ray Nitschke and Bart Starr, he and his wife Patricia also raised 11 children – all Packers fans. Money was tight so instead of taking from the family budget to buy Packers season tickets, Becker would sell his blood for $15 a pint, according to the Packers Web site .

That just may have saved Becker’s life.

While filling out a questionnaire about his family history during a routine physical exam, the doctor noticed Becker had written that his father died at age 43 of hemochromatosis. Testing showed that Becker also had the condition, in which excessive amounts of iron are retained in the blood.

It turned out that the only way to remove the excess iron was to give blood. By that time Becker had donated some 145 pints of blood to pay for his season tickets.

“If he hadn’t, he very well may have died like his father. His love of the Packers saved his life. To this day he still donates three to four times a month,” reads a submission nominating Becker as the 12th member of the Green Bay Packers FAN Hall of Fame. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

March 28, 2010

Excerpt of the Day: WSJ on Obama Administration Intimidation of Companies Disclosing What They Must

From this weekend (link may require subscription), on the administration’s immature attempt at intimidating companies for daring to tell their shareholders and the public that ObamaCare has changed their retiree medical benefits cost structure for the worse:

The ObamaCare Writedowns
The corporate damage rolls in, and Democrats are shocked!

It’s been a banner week for Democrats: ObamaCare passed Congress in its final form on Thursday night, and the returns are already rolling in. Yesterday AT&T announced that it will be forced to make a $1 billion writedown due solely to the health bill, in what has become a wave of such corporate losses.

Black-letter financial accounting rules require that corporations immediately restate their earnings to reflect the present value of their long-term health liabilities, including a higher tax burden. Should these companies have played chicken with the Securities and Exchange Commission to avoid this politically inconvenient reality? Democrats don’t like what their bill is doing in the real world, so they now want to intimidate CEOs into keeping quiet.

On top of AT&T’s $1 billion, the writedown wave so far includes Deere & Co., $150 million; Caterpillar, $100 million; AK Steel, $31 million; 3M, $90 million; and Valero Energy, up to $20 million. Verizon has also warned its employees about its new higher health-care costs, and there will be many more in the coming days and weeks.

Gabriel at Ace’s place links to a straight-news WSJ item that may also be subcriber-limited telling us that the total cost to S&P 500 companies will be $4.5 billion.

Again, accounting rules REQUIRE such adjustments when circumstances dictate the need for them. A new law restructuring one-sixth of the economy is obviously one such circumstance. Surely the companies’ CFOs and outside CPA firms had discussions about the issue, and arrived at professional judgments that such adjustments and announcements of them were necessary. This is what serious stewards of others’ wealth do.

The administration and Congress surely know this. But since they don’t like it, they’re going on a witch hunt anyway. This will force others who haven’t yet made the disclosure to do a cost-benefit calculation that should not be necessary: Should we do what the law and financial accounting require? Or should we hush up so we can keep the administration off our backs and thereby risk eventually being sued by our shareholders and/or the SEC?

This is of a piece with the administration’s intimidation of Humana last year when it dared to tell its Medicare Advantage members that ObamaCare would raise their premiums, as of course it will — if it doesn’t eventually eliminate such plans entirely.

This is what an oppressive regime does to private-sector (for the time being) players who are merely doing their jobs to the best of their abilities. This is what statism looks like.

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UPDATE: Mark Steyn capsulizes (HT to frequent commenter dscott) –

On the day President Obama signed Obamacare into law, Verizon sent an e-mail to all its employees warning that the company’s costs “will increase in the short term.” And in the medium term? Well, U.S. corporations that are able to do so will get out of their prescription-drug plans and toss their retirees onto the Medicare pile. So far just three companies — Deere, Caterpillar, and Valero Energy — have calculated that the loss of the deduction will add a combined $265 million to their costs. There are an additional 3,500 businesses presently claiming the break. The cost to taxpayers of that 28 percent benefit is about $665 per person. The cost to taxpayers of equivalent Medicare coverage is about $1,200 per person. So we’re roughly doubling the cost of covering an estimated 5 million retirees.

Positivity: Diocese of Columbus launches Facebook application to encourage vocations

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:57 am

From Columbus, Ohio:

Mar 26, 2010 / 07:10 am

The Office of Vocations for the Diocese of Columbus has hired a marketing firm to develop and manage a Facebook application called Face Forward Columbus to help Catholic youth in central Ohio hear their vocation to the priesthood, religious life or marriage.

“Our responsibility is to preach the Good News wherever people are gathered,” said Fr. Jeff Coning, Director of Vocations for the Diocese of Columbus. “Kids are now gathering out on cyberspace, making it the new town square. We need to be in that town square interacting.”

The Office of Vocations recently hired Dublin, Ohio-based MJ2 Marketing to design, develop, and monitor the page. According to the diocese, it intends to reach 30,000 youth.

The page, described as a “dynamic, front-end gaming application,” has attracted more than 1,000 fans in its first 40 days.

Launched in December 2009, Face Forward is intended as a place where Catholic youth can gather to discuss real-life issues while exploring their faith and its relevance in their lives. …

Go here for the rest of the story

March 27, 2010

Most Easily Bought: Steve Driehaus?

Filed under: Activism,Health Care,Life-Based News,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:29 am

Geez, if you’re going to abandon your so-called core values and betray the pro-life beliefs of the vast majority of the residents of your district, you should at least end up with some boodle to show for it.

Steve Driehaus apparently didn’t have as much of an appetite for pork as his fellow sellouts (HT Hot Air):

A day after Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., and ten other House members compromised on their pro-life position to deliver the necessary yes-votes to pass health care reform, the “Stupak 11″ released their fiscal year 2011 earmark requests, which total more than $4.7 billion–an average of $429 million worth of earmark requests for each lawmaker.

Of the eight lawmakers whose 2010 requests were available for comparison, five requested more money this week than they did a year ago: Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Ill., Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper, D-Pa., Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., Brad Ellsworth, D-Ind., Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, and Rep. Charles Wilson, D-Ohio.

Driehaus’s name is absent. Maybe it’s because his “requests” weren’t available, but he appears to be a cheap, uh, uh, “date.”

Maybe his vote isn’t so much a sellout as it is a giant, 18-month fake-out.