March 3, 2012

Mitt Romney Thanks Ted Kennedy For Federal Help in Making RomneyCare Happen

Filed under: Health Care,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:50 pm

Just before signing Romneycare in April 2006, Mitt Romney introduced his “collaborator and friend” Ted Kennedy:

“Together we pitched the (federal cabinet) secretaries on our vision to insure all of our citizens, and on the need for federal support to make the vision real. His work in Washington and behind the scenes on Beacon Hill was absolutely essential.”

Despite Posturing, It Looks Like U.S. Paid Ransom to Egypt So NGO Detainees Could Leave

Filed under: National Security,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:39 pm

From the Associated Press two days ago, with a little local Peoria flavor added (bolds are mine):

Seven Americans on trial on charges their pro-democracy groups fomented unrest flew out of Egypt on Thursday after the U.S. posted nearly $5 million in bail.

The departure of the seven, including Peoria native Sam LaHood, eased a deep diplomatic crisis between the U.S. and Egypt that had been building for two months, following a crackdown on pro-democracy and human rights groups by the Egyptian government.

Though the Americans were safely on their way home, Washington indicated that its anger over the affair has not abated.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland expressed relief that the Americans were free, but she pointedly noted that no decision has been made about U.S. aid to Egypt.

As the crisis unfolded over the past two months, furious officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, warned the $1.3 billion in military aid and $250 million in economic assistance slated for Egypt this year was in jeopardy. Nuland pointed out Thursday that the court case against the pro-democracy groups is not over.

The 16 Americans facing charges are not expected to return to Egypt, but their trial has not been called off. After the first session Sunday, it was adjourned until April, and that ruling still stands.

A convoy of white vans carrying the symbol of the U.S. Embassy arrived at Cairo airport Thursday afternoon carrying the seven, accompanied by embassy officials. Egypt’s state news agency MENA said the Americans were “happily” taking group photos at the airport, along with eight other foreigners who also were allowed to leave the country.

So on the safe assumption that the 16 don’t return, they’ll forfeit the bail. The noise about cutting off aid will subside. Egypt will have $5 million. That has the distinct aroma of ransom.

Gosh, why didn’t Jimmy Carter think of this in 1979?

Michigan’s Banana Republic GOP Steals a Delegate From Santorum; Romney Receives Instead

Filed under: Scams,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:30 am

MichiganGOPbananaRepublic0212I received an email from Rick Santorum’s campaign on Thursday, excerpted as follows (bolds are in original):

Tie in Michigan!

We tied Mitt Romney in Michigan Tuesday night! Forget about what the press is saying—you read that correctly. We tied Mitt Romney in his home state.

… Michigan awards their delegates by Congressional District. So while Romney narrowly won the statewide popular vote, we won the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th and 13th districts, and one more district, the 5th, is within a 100 votes and there might be a recount. Gov. Romney and I will each get one of Michigan’s two at large delegates, giving us a split of 15-15.

Here’s the bottom line: Mitt Romney and his SuperPAC outspent us by millions of dollars in his home state, and he couldn’t come away with anything better than a tie in the delegate count. No matter what the press would have you believe, we are now in for a long, important battle.

… It has been humbling to see how this story (of his candidacy — Ed.) has resonated with Americans across the country. The idea that hard work and dedication can pay off, no matter who you are or where you come from, well, that’s the American dream isn’t it?

… We just tied Romney in Michigan, but we can’t let up. …

For America,
Rick

At the moment, it’s not a tie thanks to what, based on the evidence, is an after-the-fact rules change which contradicts what the state party specifically told the candidates (HT to Gregg Jackson in an email, who also provided audio proof). This is how it’s explained in a Washington Post item (bolds are mine):

Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign asked Friday that the Republican National Committee’s legal counsel investigate the Michigan GOP’s decision to give a delegate Santorum thought he’d won to Mitt Romney.

State party rules said 28 delegates were to be awarded based on Tuesday’s results in each of the state’s 14 congressional districts. Two at-large delegates were to be awarded based on the statewide vote in the GOP presidential primary.

But the state party’s credentials committee said Thursday that it changed the rules Feb. 4 to give both at-large delegates to the overall winner. As a result, Romney ended up with 16 delegates to Santorum’s 14, rather than a 15-15 split.

Credentials committee member Saul Anuzis, a Romney supporter, said a party memo saying the at-large delegates would be awarded proportionally was wrong.

“It is clear now that the memo did not properly communicate the intent of the committee,” Anuzis said. “Could you interpret it both ways? Yes. (Uh, the real answer is “No.” — Ed.) But this is what we decided.”

Real Clear Politics is showing Michigan with 16 Romney delegates and 14 for Santorum.

The forwarded email from Gregg says that the linked audio is “from less than a month ago (i.e., clearly intended to mean AFTER February 4 — Ed.), with Michigan Republican Party Chairman Bobby Schostak explaining the rules, clearly in line with what would have resulted in a 15-15 tie.”

The linked audio proves that Mr. Anuzis is, to put it bluntly, full of Mitt — and there is no “both ways” about it.

Who does Bobby Schostak think he is, anyway? Kevin DeWine?

This is at least the second time state GOP establishments have bent presidential voting to benefit Mitt Romney. The first, contrary to Ann Coulter’s delusion, was Iowa, when the state’s GOP, in a still partially successful effort at blunting Santorum’s momentum, initially refused to declare him the winner of the state’s January 3 caucuses despite the fact that he, well, ended up with the most votes (true even if counting precincts which didn’t submit the proper paperwork).

Now this. It’s “only” one delegate, but the Michigan episode is symptomatic of deep rot in a corrupt party establishment which, as I noted in an early February column, also extends at least to Florida, Utah, and Pennsylvania.

Chevy Volt: Comedy Gold

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:25 am

Too bad the joke is on U.S. taxpayers.

Watch:

Excerpt:

I’m really proud of what GM has been able to accomplish by working with the Obama administration. They’ve proven that in American you can make it in any business as long as you have unlimited financial resources and the backing of the United States government.

I don’t know about you, but I think that’s more than worth the couple of hundred thousand dollars it costs the taxpayers every time somebody buys one of these suckers.

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UPDATE: The true cost of the auto bailouts is right at $100 billion (even before considering GMAC, but excluding the government’s partial investment recoveries from GM’s IPO and the sale of Chrysler to Fiat). As explained in the Wall Street Journal several days ago, there was $81.8 billion in direct aid and there will be another $18 billion in taxes which should have been paid on GM’s post-bankruptcy profits because it was allowed to carry in loss carryforwards from old GM in a blatant maneuver from the crony capitalism playbook –

Corporations in the red, as GM was for years, are allowed to carry forward net operating losses that reduce their future tax liability when they are making money. GM had accumulated about $45 billion in such profit-shielding chits by 2008, with a book value of about $18 billion. When companies enter bankruptcy, carry-forwards disappear or are greatly limited under IRS section 382, which kicks in when ownership changes by more than 50 percentage points.

The point is to prevent companies from buying assets solely for tax arbitrage or tax avoidance. But starting in 2009, Treasury began to issue regulatory “notices” that suspend this law when it comes to Treasury-owned stock. The provisions also apply to AIG and Citigroup.

So when GM entered bankruptcy in June 2009, the government swapped the debt the auto maker owed it as a creditor for 61% of “new GM,” while handing another chunk to the United Auto Workers. But new GM also inherited the accumulated net operating losses that would have turned into a pumpkin in normal bankruptcy.

Saturday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (030312)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 7:15 am

Rules are here. Possible comment fodder may follow later. Other topics are also fair game.

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Positivity: Kenyan chief foils robbery via Twitter, highlights reach of social media

Filed under: Marvels,Positivity — Tom @ 7:00 am

Via CNN (HT Daryn Kagan):

February 18, 2012

A Kenyan chief in a town far from the bustling capital foiled a predawn robbery recently using Twitter, highlighting the far-reaching effects of social media in areas that don’t have access to the Internet.

Chief Francis Kariuki said he got a call in the dead of the night that thieves had broken into a neighbor’s house.

He turned to Twitter, which allows users to send messages in 140 characters or less, to reach his community instantly.

“Thieves in Kelven’s living room, let’s help him out please,” he tweeted in Swahili, the local language.

Local residents, who subscribe to his tweets through a free text messaging service, jumped into action. They surrounded the house, sending the thugs fleeing into the night.

He later sent a message thanking the community in his town of Lanet Umoja for coming out. …

Go here for the rest of the story.