Monday, February 15, 2010
Didn't Acorn, the corrupt community organizer, get its federal funding yanked after its last scandal? Actually, no. Through municipal middlemen, it's poised to rake in another $4 billion. Where is the outrage?
You'd think a group implicated in dozens of electoral fraud cases, theft of funds and, most recently, helping criminals interested in bringing child prostitutes to the U.S. would have been ruled ineligible for federal aid long ago. But think again, because these aid rats are experts at survival.
FrontPage magazine reports that federal Judge Nina Gershon ruled that Acorn is eligible for the Obama administration's proposed $4 billion in Housing and Urban Development grants within the $3.83 trillion federal budget proposal for 2011. That cancels the ban Congress placed on Acorn funding late last year after at least five of the group's offices willingly aided undercover reporters posing as a pimp and prostitute to get federal funding for a brothel and cheat on their taxes.
Acorn's antics were revealed after a series of reports last September on the BigGovernment Web site. Faced with a firestorm of complaints, Congress had no choice but to pull funds for the group.
Many were surprised that Congressional Democrats backed Acorn's defunding. Usually, Acorn and the Democratic Party work hand in hand. Acorn supplies votes and election assistance to Democratic candidates, and the Democrats supply them with funding. Turns out, the fund-pulling was really just for show. Acorn is being allowed to make an end-run around the federal funding ban through the use of a middleman, the Washington Times reports.
The way it's done is through HUD Community Development Block Grants, which are given to cities and states to help boost development efforts. Instead of applying directly to the federal government for aid, a violation of Congress' ban, Gershon, a Clinton appointee, effectively ruled that Acorn can instead apply directly to cities and states. In short, this gaping loophole means the ban is off.
No organization that has broken the law so many times has any right to even indirect federal funding. The fact the feds never prosecuted them as they should have is what has created the opening for Acorn to put its snout in the public trough once again. It's time for Congress and HUD to get tough with these miscreants before they do any more damage to our system.
Tax, it is often argued, is one of the most influential issues when it comes to determining a country's competitiveness. Included amongst the many reasons for this, is that low taxes help attract a better skilled workforce, thus generating higher productivity.
The suggestion that lower tax has a positive effect on a country's attractiveness for highly educated people is about to be proven in Denmark. From the first of January this year Denmark has implemented tax reform securing lower income taxes and cutting the highest marginal tax rate by about 10 percent. The Danish government has done this to make Denmark more attractive to highly skilled people in a climate of sharpened international competition.
In Denmark highly skilled people can sign a three year contract giving them a tax discount for those three years. The most common scenario in the past has been that people come to Denmark, have their three years of tax discount and then move on to another country . However, The Confederation of Danish Industries (DI) can already now report that since the reforms it has become easier for Danish companies to convince foreign staff to sign contracts for longer periods than those three years.
This is a good thing for Denmark, but there is a cloud on the horizon. There is much uncertainty about the opposition’s plans regarding these tax reforms if they eventually come to power. The leader of one of the opposition parties (Social Democrats) has stated that she intends to roll back these tax cuts. This position induces uncertainty about the future and may have the effect of minimizing the effect of the tax cuts.
Tax is important in determining competitiveness. However certainty about the future is also important. The Danish Social Democrats should therefore take a close look at what their sister party in Britain have done to the business climate by introducing tax rises and set their policies accordingly. [After British tax increases, big companies are pulling out of Britain wholesale]
Russian Leaders Order the Privatization of Industry – Will Punish Bureaucrats Who Hamper Investment
This is a very encouraging sign. As Obama moves to to take control of large slices of the U.S. economy (health insurance; banks; automobiles), Russia is going in the opposite direction. Clearly, however, the Russian selloff is designed to shore up their budget at a time of financial difficulty -- rather than any new ideology. Many governments worldwide are doing the same
President Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday ordered the Cabinet to sell off more government stakes in successful companies to private investors over the next two years. The Cabinet must submit proposals for increasing the number of “major … strategic companies that are attractive for investment” in its privatization plan by March 15, the Kremlin said on its web site.
The current plan, which Prime Minister Vladimir Putin signed in November, already seeks the sale of stakes in several strategic companies, such as shipper Sovkomflot. Medvedev has the responsibility of striking these companies off the list of strategic assets for the stakes to change hands. He hasn’t approved their exclusion as yet.
Medvedev’s order for a greater sale of key assets comes after he conferred with officials last week about ways to encourage investment — and as the government is facing a budget deficit for a second straight year.
Medvedev also instructed the Cabinet to come up with a proposal to punish more severely those bureaucrats that hamper investment, probably targeting those engaged in corruption. The Kremlin didn’t elaborate on the measure.
Rockefeller on Obama: Prez isn't 'believable'
Republican Rep. Joe Wilson created waves that left Washington rocking for weeks by shouting "You lie" to Barack Obama during the president's address to Congress last fall, and now a similar message has been delivered by a member of the president's own party.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., told an audience today the president is "beginning to be not believable to me." The comment was just the latest evidence of the dissension in the Democratic Party that prevented Obama from passing his health care proposal last year despite having a significant party majority in the U.S. House and a supermajority of 60 votes in the Senate.
Rockefeller, a Democrat in a family of lifelong Republicans, was referring to Obama's proposed budget that would cut tax incentives to coal mining companies. The cut would hit West Virginia's coal industry hard, and Rockefeller's dissatisfaction was evident in the video posted on Real Clear Politics. Obama's budget proposal would kill $2.3 billion in coal tax breaks, Rockefeller pointed out. "He says 'I'm for clean coal,' and then he says it in his speeches, but he doesn't say it in here. And he doesn't say it in the minds of my own people. And he's beginning to be not believable to me," Rockefeller said.
Participants in a Real Clear Politics online forum said, essentially, it's about time:
* "You must have a pretty thick skull, Senator Rockefeller, if you're just now starting to notice."
* "Too late, the monster is out of the bag."
* "I believe BHO is not lying intentionally … He literally cannot tell the difference from the truth and a lie."
* "What he is saying, in other words, is 'YOU LIE!'"
* "Old Rocky may be an extreme liberal but he can still read the tea leaves and they are telling him that Obama has become toxic even for 'senators for life' like him."
The GOP's Best Friend
Commentator Steven Thomma remarks that Obama's opportunity to be a "transformative" president in the mold of Roosevelt or Reagan is fading fast.
He offers a number of reasons why the President's first-year agenda fell short, relying heavily on the assertion that the recession forced the President to devote time and energy to matters other than "big" things like health care (and notes that he mismanaged the health care process, as well).
But nowhere does Thomma hit at the real source of Obama's problem. The real issue for the President is that he made a faustian bargain -- allowing himself (in his own words) to "serve as a blank screen" on which people's own hopes and dreams could be projected. Throughout the campaign, he struck to happy generalities about unity and bipartisanship and hope and change (no wonder he was portrayed by Jib Jab as riding a unicorn amidst rainbows). He did it because he knew it was the only way to win. And the press let him get away with it.
No doubt, he'd have never become President if he'd announced that he was going to triple the national debt and promote a big-government takeover of health care, secured by a series of corrupt kickbacks. But as soon as he took office, that's what he did. He bet that he had the silver-tongued oratory to popularize even previously unpopular initiatives, and that economic conditions were going to frighten people into embracing Big Government.
He was wrong. And now, understandably, people who had been projecting their own hopes and dreams onto Obama -- from the left, right, and middle -- have been disappointed. And are very, very angry. Include among them most of the Democrat caucus.
Now, those on the right and in the center see him as a left-wing naif. Those on the left see him as an incompetent. Obama has been the Republicans' best friend.
New England: Poll shows signs of GOP resurgence: "In some of the most reliably Democratic states in the nation, well-known Democrats are suddenly vulnerable. And the GOP, counted out in the region not long ago, is eyeing a resurgence. Since the 2008 election, no Republicans represent the six New England states in the US House of Representatives. But a recent WMUR Granite State poll indicates that if the election were held now, the New Hampshire GOP would probably recapture both congressional seats lost to the Democrats four years ago and retain the Senate seat Judd Gregg is relinquishing.”
Don't bail out Greece: "Gerald Ford had the right idea. The year was 1975. New York City was in financial trouble. It had to borrow to pay its operating expenses. And lenders were getting tough. So Mayor Abe Beame turned to Washington, begging for a bailout. But America still had a vestigial sense of financial integrity back then. The Big Apple was lucky; America’s president told Beame to ‘drop dead.’ With no other option available, New York’s politicians had to do the right thing – they cut expenses and the city flourished.”
Government pay packages have room for big savings: "State and local governments face large budget deficits as revenues have stagnated and spending has remained high. To reduce deficits, large savings can be found in the generous compensation packages of the nation’s 20 million state and local workers. In 2008, wages and benefits of $1.1 trillion accounted for half of total state and local government spending. Public sector pay averaged $39.66 per hour in 2009, 45 percent higher than the private sector average. The public sector advantage was 34 percent in wages and 70 percent in benefits.”
Uncertainty: What progressives don’t understand: "Progressives want government involved in everything, if not running or owning, at least ‘helping.’ They don’t seem to think through the consequences. Until government owns everything (and that day’s nearer than it was a year ago), private decisions by privately owned businesses pretty much dictate our economic health. Here’s the rub. Washington has signaled its clear intention to intervene. Doubt it? Ask Wall Street, the car industry, the mortgage industry, the banking industry. We could go on (and we’re afraid we’ll have to). What effect does that have? … What investor, for that matter what company, what board of directors will risk a financial commitment when overnight the rules of the game can be changed on them? Would you put your personal fortune at such a risk, vulnerable to the whims of ideologues who want to ‘remake’ America? Neither would they. There’s no deal-killer quite like uncertainty.”
A Republican "Truther"?: "In an obvious ambush of Texas Republican gubernatorial candidate Debra Medina, Fox News commentator Glen Beck told Medina in a radio interview that he had received emails from listeners saying that she was a 9/11 truther, that is, a person who believes that the U.S. government was behind the 9/11 attacks. Medina failed to specifically deny the charge, indicated that she didn’t have an opinion on the matter, stated that some good questions had been raised about the issue, and said that the American people had not seen all the evidence.”
There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)
Posted by JR at 11:34 PM