Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Mexico to aid undocumented immigrant youths at 50 consular offices across U.S.

San Jose Mercury News ^ | 07/23/2012 | Matt O'Brien

The Mexican Embassy on Monday opened the doors to its San Jose, San Francisco and 48 other consular offices across the United States to undocumented immigrant youths seeking work permits and deportation relief through a new Obama administration directive.

The U.S. government won't begin accepting deportation relief applications until Aug. 15, but the Mexican government will help eligible young people apply by giving them information and ensuring they have the proper documents, said Juan Carlos Lara-Armienta, the Mexican Embassy's head of Latino affairs.

The relief directive from the Department of Homeland Security could benefit more than 1 million people 30 years old or younger who were brought to the country illegally as children, most of them from Mexico.

(Excerpt) Read more at mercurynews.com ...

The Latest News on Tax Fairness [top 20%'s share up, everyone else's share down over last 30 years]

Wall Street Journal ^ | 7/22/12 | Ari Fleischer:

If fairness in paying taxes means the amount you pay is based on the amount you make, then the only group in America paying at least a "fair share" is the top 20%—people who make more than $74,000. For everyone else, the tax code is a bargain.

You wouldn't know this from President Obama's rhetoric, but our tax system, according to a recent report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), is incredibly progressive. Consider: The top 1% of income earners pay an average federal tax rate of 28.9%. (See the nearby table.) The average federal tax rate on the top 20% is 23.2%. The 20% of taxpayers earning between $50,100 and $73,999 pay an average 15.1%, and so on down the line. The CBO report includes payroll as well as income taxes paid.

There's also another way of looking at fairness, and that's the tax burden. Here, consider the top 20% of income earners (over $74,000). They make 50% of the nation's income but pay nearly 70% of all federal taxes.
The remaining 30% of the tax burden is borne by 80% of the taxpayers, those who make less than $74,000. In short, this group's share of taxes paid, 30%, is lower than the share of income they earn, 50%.
Yet President Obama says that "for some time now, when compared to the middle class," the wealthy "haven't been asked to do their fair share."
He's right that the system isn't fair, but not because the top 1% pay too little. It is because they pay too much.
(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...

Despite Obama Carpet Bombing Romney Still Tops!

Townhall.com ^ | July 25, 2012 | Bob Beauprez

In times like this, a good day for Barack Obama is anytime the dominant topic of discussion is anything but the economy. But, make no mistake about it; November's election is still going to be a referendum on the President's failed economic policies.

With the economy overwhelmingly the dominant issue in the election, there is growing bad news for the President. By more than 2:1, 63% to 29%, voters now believe Mitt Romney would be better at managing the economy than President Obama, according to a new USA TODAY/Gallup poll.

For the first time Mitt Romney has topped Barack Obama in the New York Times/CBS poll (47-46). Rasmussen has Romney up by 3 points (46:43). After a month of carpet bombing Romney with negative ads, the President has actually lost ground. According to the Real Clear Politics average of all polls between July 5 and July 22, Obama's 3.7 point advantage on June 27 has shriveled to just 1.1. Importantly, the trend is solidly in Romney's favor even as Obama is outspending him 2:1.
The NYT/CBS poll uncovered more problems for the President. By a margin of 55:39 voters disapprove of Obama's handling of the economy; a significant difference from the 44:48 results in April.
Further, the once-believed impervious favorability ratings of the President have started to erode. Barely a third of voters, just 36%, now have a favorable opinion of Obama, down from 42% in April.
For a while Obama appeared to be getting away with deflecting blame for the dismal economic performance, but those days appear to be going the way of his falling favorability ratings. A new poll conducted by The Hill found 66% of voters point the finger at "bad policy" from Washington for the weak economy. Obama gets most of the blame, 34%, while 23% blame Congress. Wall Street is the heart of the problem according to another 23%. Just 18% agree with the President – that it's George W. Bush's fault.
While Team Obama's attempt to make Romney the bogey man seems to be falling flat, the dismal economic data continues to drag Obama down. Recent headlines underscore the reasons for the deteriorating confidence in Obama and his policies found in the results of the new polling data:
New jobless claims jumped sharply last week to 386,000 (Los Angeles Times)
New claims for unemployment benefits rose sharply last week to 386,000, the biggest jump in more than a year as the labor market continued to show signs of struggling amid the weakening recovery.

US poverty on track to reach 46-year high; suburbs, underemployed workers, children hit hard (Washington Post)
The ranks of America’s poor are on track to climb to levels unseen in nearly half a century, erasing gains from the war on poverty in the 1960s amid a weak economy and fraying government safety net.

Sales Gains Scarce As Economy Slows At Home, Abroad (Investor's Business Daily)
Analysts now expect sales to grow just 1%, which would be the lowest rate since Q3 2009, just as the U.S. exited recession. Analysts expect 5.9% profit growth, also the weakest since Q3 2009.

Most US states trail pre-recession jobs levels (Associated Press)
Three years since the recession ended, 43 states have yet to regain the jobs they lost in the downturn. The figure is a reminder of how weak the nation's job market remains.

Earnings Show Recession May Be 'Fast Approaching' (CNBC.com)
"Revenue estimates for the back half of 2012 have been slowly working their way lower this year," Colas said. "This trend, however, has accelerated to the downside over the past 30 days and we are fast approaching levels where these estimates are unambiguously pointing to the risk of a U.S./global recession later into 2012 and 2013."


With more dismal reports published literally every day, it is understandable why Barack Obama would love for this election to be about anything but the economy. But, it won't be. As Romney said in April, "It's still about the economy, and we're not stupid." It looks like voters are starting to make up their minds.

Obama Thanks 'Gay-Porn Kingpin'

Weekly Standard ^ | JUL 24, 2012 | Daniel Halper


This evening in Portland, Oregon, President Barack Obama thanked a man named Terry Bean for organizing the reelection campaign fundraiser he was speaking at:


“I want to thank someone who put so much work into this event, Terry Bean," President Obama said as the crowd began to cheer. "Give Terry a big round of applause.”

Terry Bean is, according to the New York Post, a "gay-porn kingpin." "ONE of the 'bundlers' who has raised $50,000 to $100,000 for the Barack Obama presidential campaign is Terrence Bean, who once controlled the biggest producer of gay porn in America," the Post reported in 2008, during the president's first run the office. "Bean, the first gay on Sen. Obama's National Finance Committee, is the sole trustee of the Charles M. Holmes Foundation, which owned Falcon Studios, Jock Studios and Mustang Studios, the producers of about $10 million worth of all-male pornography a year."

The Post added:
In 2002, Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongowski returned a $15,000 contribution from Conwest to avoid the "taint" of the porn connection. Bean told Page Six yesterday, "I asked the company to donate, and they did. To avoid the appearance of anything, he [Kulongowski] returned it."

"Who's Your Daddy?"

10 Civilizations That Disappeared Under Mysterious Circumstances

io9 ^ | 7-23-2012 | Annalee Newitz

For almost as long as we've had civilization, we've lost it. There are records going back hundreds of years of explorers discovering huge temples encrusted with jungle, or giant pits full of treasure that were once grand palaces. Why did people abandon these once-thriving cities, agricultural centers, and trade routes? Often, the answer is unknown. Here are ten great civilizations whose demise remains a mystery.

1. The Maya
The Maya are perhaps the classic example of a civilization that was completely lost, its great monuments, cities and roads swallowed up by the central American jungles, and its peoples scattered to small villages. Though the languages and traditions of the Maya still survive up to the present day, the civilization's peak was during the first millennium AD, when their greatest architectural feats and massive agricultural projects covered a vast region in the Yucatán — today, an area stretching from Mexico to Guatemala and Belize. One of the largest Mesoamerican civilizations, the Maya made extensive use of writing, math, an elaborate calendar, and sophisticated engineering to build their pyramids and terraced farms. Though it's often said that the Maya civilization began a mysterious decline in roughly the year 900, a great deal of evidence points to climate change in the Yucatán combined with internecine warfare, which resulted in famine and abandonment of the city centers.

2. Indus Valley Civilization
One of the great civilizations of the ancient world is called simply the Indus or Harappan civilization. Thousands of years ago, it may have boasted up to 5 million people, almost 10 percent of the world's population, spread over a region that encompassed parts of today's India, Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan. ...
(Excerpt) Read more at io9.com ...

Obamacare and the number 49 [Obamacare punishes businesses for hiring more than 49 people]

Orange County Breeze ^ | Robin Itzler

Entrepreneurs, those hardworking men and women who take an innovative idea and make it reality with their own money and labor, might now find 49 is their favorite number.
President Obama’s $1 trillion entitlement Affordable Care Act, known popularly as Obamacare, is directed at businesses that have at least 50 full-time employees. If your small company is close to that number of employees and you’ve given thought to hiring more staff, you might find it financially smarter to remain below 50, hire part-timers instead or start another company.

That’s what the French do. Since conservatives say America is becoming more like France, let’s look at what is happening in that country. France has 2.4 times as many companies with 49 employees as with 50. Why? Because the government mandates that any company with more than 50 employees must create three worker councils, introduce profit sharing and submit restructuring plans to the council if the company decides they need to lay-off staff for economic reasons. Rather than deal with these headaches, when a French company reaches 49 employees they start a new company. They also move their manufacturing to nearby countries, again with a new corporate name. (For more, read “Why France Has So Many 49-Employee Companies” – Bloomberg BusinessWeek, May 3, 2012.)
Some believe the Obama Administration, which views government as the answer to most everything, wants companies to replace full-time workers with part-timers because:
Part-time employees are counted equally with full-time workers, thus erroneously lowering the unemployment rate.
Most part-timers earn less income and have no health coverage, making them more reliant on government programs.
Pass the Aspirin
Rather than destroy the world’s greatest health care system with a 2,700 page bill that no one read, we could have made improvements:
Institute medical liability tort reform so doctors could stop diagnosing based on potential malpractice lawsuits.
Allow people to buy insurance across state lines, which would competitively drive down costs.
Keep children covered to age 21, rather than 26. They’re always our children so why stop at age 26? Why not keep them covered until age 36? 46? 56?
If Obamacare is not repealed, it could be less expensive for business owners to pay the penalties for non-compliance rather than pay additional fees and taxes to insure all their employees. Not to mention all the new regulations you’ll have to deal with. As of this writing, government officials have already drafted 13,000 pages of new regulations for the ObamaTax law!
Marketing in uncertain times
With President Obama giving the middle-class the largest tax increase in U.S. history, consumers are afraid to spend money beyond necessities, worried they will need the money to pay Obamacare taxes.
Yes, it is a tax as the Supreme Court ruled. As proof, the Internal Revenue Service is hiring 6,500 people to implement the tax. On average, American families will keep 4% less of their income come January and the number climbs even higher in 2014.
To keep your name top of mind and encourage sales, you’ll have to maintain or increase your marketing budget. In uncertain times you should focus your marketing campaigns around how your business provides excellent value with outstanding customer service, something consumers want for discretionary purchases.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts told the American people it is up to us to decide on Election Day whether or not we want Obamacare.
The Marketing Maven firmly believes that government is not the solution, but that it’s the free market that offers the best solutions. Let’s hope the uncertainty ends in November so that only the San Francisco 49ers football team will care about the number 49.

What are the odds?

On Your Own?

Promoting Welfare

Hoisted

Upper Class TWITS

Discourage Voters?

Obama Built That!

LIAGRA

No Weapons Allowed

The President's Priorities

What He Says...What He Does

Blame Game

Missing for 6 months at the Jobs Council: OBAMA

How Romney Can Win This Election


Sultan Knish ^ | Tuesday, July 24, 2012 | Daniel Greenfield

Let's skip over the issues for a moment and get back to the basics. Elections are transactions in which we buy the services of a candidate for four years. Like any other business deal, closing comes down to salesmanship.

There are two basic elements when buying a product or service.


1. Practical. "I need this product."
2. Emotional. "This product makes me feel good."

Smart shoppers will make a practical decision, but not everyone is a smart shopper. And even smart shoppers employ emotional elements. Many people will buy a product because of their associations with this brand, even if the brand only exists as a logo stamped on products by workers in Shanghai. Most people want to feel good about the product that they're buying, they want to feel comfortable with their purchase.
This is where the media plays its most insidious role, providing reassurance to Obama buyers that they are doing the right thing and damping their unease, while doing just the opposite for Romney buyers. The media can't compel someone to vote one way or another, but it can encourage bad decisions and discourage good decisions by providing false levels of confidence through their reporting.
Romney has the same problem as a company with a good product, but bad media coverage. The way to counter that is on two fronts, by providing practical consumers with the specifications to help them make informed decisions, and providing emotional consumers with the reassurance that they can count on him.
Practical buyers have built-in confidence about their buying decisions because they carefully research a product and match it to their needs. Emotional buyers, however, lack confidence and shop as a means of boosting their own confidence. Products have to project confidence for them to buy them. They don't buy products that lack a confident image, because they don't make decisions that make them feel more insecure than they already are.
In an insecure time, people buy the most confident brand. A brand that exudes confidence and which is recommended by others. Obama projected a false confidence, that some mistook for charisma, and used a media consensus to bring in these voters in the last election. Most of those voters are still worried and nervous, but they haven't made the change because they don't feel enough confidence in the alternative.
Attack ads can partly sway them by diminishing their confidence level in the existing product, but they have less effect than positive ads that make them feel good about the other product. An attack ad is just as likely to make them sit out the election as it is to make them vote the right way.
The secrets of the 3 two-term Republican presidents of the 20th Century is that they projected that confident sense that they knew what they were doing. Bush and Reagan both had it. Eisenhower had it to a lesser degree. Teddy Roosevelt had it in spades and nearly won a second term as a third-party candidate. Two-term Democrats like FDR and Clinton had the same skill. Regardless of their abilities and the consequences of their actions, they projected a confidence that swayed voters.
No matter how badly Obama performs, a sizable number of emotional voters are not going to drop him because he still makes them feel better about the future. Those voters may well be the difference between victory and defeat.
To win, Obama has to project confidence while his media apparatus sows doubt. The combination is lethal and toxic. It may not be as effective as it was four years ago, but it doesn't have to be. It just has to be effective enough.
Romney won by running a mechanical campaign that was heavy on attack ads. He ended up crossing the finish line on the sole positive of being the "most electable candidate". But voters in a general election are not going to elect him because he is electable, that's an internal strategic calculation. If they elect him, it will be because he makes them feel more confident about the future. And that's a tall order.
To win, Romney is not just going to have to attack Obama, he is going to have to make emotional voters feel good about going with him. It is possible to do both at the same time. Reagan did it well. Scott Brown just ran a commercial that does it pretty well too.
What makes the ad work is that it's an attack ad whose dominant theme is optimism. Rather than spending 2 minutes whacking away at Obama and Warren, it frames Brown as an American brand that transcends ideology, and frames Obama and Warren as small, bitter people who don't understand America and have no vision. The ad begins with optimism and ends with optimism. It implies that Obama and Warren are aberrations in the American journey. It links their pessimism to the poor economy. And it does all this subtly without having to spell it out.
Attack ads are weakening. They diminish the candidate making them. The best attack ads don't just diminish confidence in an opponent, but boost confidence in a candidate. The best attack ads are innately optimistic, they demonstrate fitness, rather than just unfitness. And that has to be the theme of a winning campaign.
To win, Romney is going to have to be that American brand. And it won't be easy. It's hard to argue with someone who has more airtime than you. The amount of money that Romney has raised is deceptive, because Obama will have a thousand times more free airtime from a government-media complex that does nothing but sing his praises.
Romney can run 30 percent more ads, but all the airtime in between will be unacknowledged ads for Obama. And not just on news networks or newscasts. Obama's people don't understand economics, but they do understand branding. Their goal once again will be to make Obama into the most familiar and recognized brand. They will embed him in every possible forum. When he isn't making personal appearances, cast members will mention him. If they aren't mentioning him, they'll be picking up talking points bashing Romney and his V.P. or volunteering for his campaign. A few months from now, that is what half the entertainment news will be about.
The goal of all this activity is to present a manufactured consensus in favor of Obama. That consensus boosts confidence in buying Obama because it's what everyone is buying.
Romney is not going to have a consensus on his side. Very few Republicans running for the big chair do. Only when their candidate is hopelessly weak and inept does the media shrug its shoulders and accept the inevitable. And only some of the time. But he's also going to have to resist the temptation of going negative all the time.
People already lack confidence in Obama. Even most Obama voters are not particularly confident or optimistic. What they need is to have confidence in Romney. And that is doable. The narrative already exists. The template has already been used by two Republican Presidents to win two terms within recent memory, and against overwhelming media hostility. But it requires optimism.
Even when all the facts are set out before them, people still need to believe. Optimism can give people the confidence to leap the buying hurdle. Optimistic people are more likely to buy. People are more likely to vote for someone who makes them feel better, rather than someone who makes them feel worse. Obama understood that in 2008, and he's still reasonably confident that this will work for him now. And it might.
Obama's optimism is fake, but in bleak times, people will take the ersatz flavor if they can't get the real thing. This election won't come down to policy debates. It will come down to Obama's failures and Romney's ability to sell enough voters on his plan for success. Much of it will come down to trivial things. It will come down to feelings.
Romney is not an insurgent candidate. That is not the way that the voters decided to go. He is not there to shake things up. He will win or lose on the strength of his ability to make voters feel that he can make things better. And to do that he will have to find ways to avoid getting bogged down in the attacks and sell that simple message.
Deep down most people want a change. What they need is the reassurance that they are making the right decision. If they get it, Romney will be in office for the next four years. If they don't, the next four years will be even worse.
It's not just about what Romney will do; it's also about how we approach the topic. It can be easy to fall into anger and impatience with people who don't seem to get it. But few people were ever swayed by being yelled at about their mistakes.
It is just as important to be optimistic about Romney as it is to be pessimistic about Obama. People are more likely to be influenced by hope balanced against fear, rather than fear pitted against hope. Most people, regardless of their political orientation, want things to get better. The message that will win is that they can make things better if they make the right choice.