Friday, February 1, 2013

A Not-So-Doomed GOP (The party has overwhelming local success, but is a federal failure)

National Review ^ | 02/01/2013 | Jonah Goldberg

The Republicans are doomed. Conservatism is over. President Obama is conducting a mop-up operation at this point.
That’s the basic consensus in places like New York City; Washington, D.C.; and other citadels of blue America.
And let’s be fair, liberals have every reason to gloat — a little. The GOP has its troubles. Long-term demographic trends; often-irrational animosity from Hollywood, the media, and academia; a thumbless grasp of the culture on the part of many Republicans: All of these things create a headwind for the party and the broader conservative movement.
But here’s the weird part. That’s all true of presidential politics, but less so when it comes to state politics or even other federal races. In 2010, the GOP had its best performance in congressional races since 1938.
In North Carolina, a state that is supposed to represent the trends benefitting Democrats — it’s attracting liberal northern transplants, immigrants, high-tech workers, etc. — the GOP now has veto-proof majorities in the state house and senate. Last November, North Carolina became the 30th state with a GOP governor.
What gives?
There are a lot of possible explanations that are not mutually exclusive. Obama is more popular than his party. Mitt Romney was less popular than the ideas he had such a hard time expressing. Presidential electorates are different.
This last one is definitely true when you compare who voted in 2010 and who voted in 2012. The 2010 electorate was older and whiter. The Obama coalition of 2012 included younger voters, minorities, and so-called “low-information voters.”
No matter the merits of these observations, they don’t fully explain why Republicans are doing so well on the policy front. In states as diverse as Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Nebraska, Michigan, New Jersey, Texas, and a half-dozen others, Republicans have been implementing impressive — even miraculous — reforms.
In pro-Obama Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker beat back a historic attack from organized labor. And Michigan — Michigan! — recently became a right-to-work state, which I’m pretty sure is mentioned in the AFL-CIO’s bylaws as a sign of the end times.
I think an overlooked part of the story is the fact that Americans tend to see federal and local governments differently. At the local level, people seem to have a better grasp that it’s their tax dollars at work. They are far more sensitive to tax increases and more easily outraged by spending boondoggles. They understand the importance of sustainable economic growth.
This fact benefits Republicans, although state-level Democrats tend to be more fiscally responsible at the local level as well. (Rahm Emanuel is far more fiscally responsible as Chicago’s mayor than he ever was as Obama’s chief of staff.)
Meanwhile, what gets Republicans elected at the local level gets them in trouble at the federal level. Again, there are many reasons for this. But I think one of them is that we’ve come to see the federal government as some sort of mystical entity empowered to right all of the wrongs in society. If there’s a problem, there “should” be a federal response, the costs or feasibility of that response be damned.
While Romney’s infamous riff about the “47 percent” was profoundly flawed, the simple reality is that millions of people who do, in fact, pay federal income taxes do not care about those tax dollars in the same way they care about their local tax dollars. This is true of people who get more from the federal government than they pay in, but it’s also true for millions of affluent voters as well.
Our presidents, Republican and Democrat alike, talk about their “visions” for America, as if being a president requires you to impose some quasi-religious vision on the country.
But the Democrats are simply better at talking about government in spiritual terms. Indeed, such testifying is Obama’s one indisputable gift. Democrats talk about the federal government doing things we’d want God to do if God dabbled in public policy. They use the logic of religion, which holds that there is a unitary and seamless nature to all good things, and therefore no good thing government does should come at the expense of some other good thing government might do. And, worst of all, they castigate anyone who opposes more spending on, say, “the children” or “the environment” as morally retrograde and “against children” and “against the environment.”
The challenge for Republicans is to convince the American people that the government isn’t magic, and that all of its money is your money, its debts your debts. I don’t think the GOP is doomed, but America might be if Americans remain unconvinced too much longer.
— Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online and a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute

NRA chief: Why we fight for gun rights

CNN ^ | February 1, 2013 | David Keene

After President Lyndon Johnson signed the Gun Control Act of 1968, many anti-gun politicians looked forward to the day when they could completely ban the sale and ownership of firearms and perhaps even confiscate those already in private hands.
--snip--
Anyone who doubts this need only look at what happened in the literally bankrupt city of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, last week. The organizers of the largest outdoor show in the country, the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show, announced that they would not allow the display or presence of the firearms the president likes to demonize as assault weapons. Within days, more than 300 vendors withdrew in protest as the NRA and others urged Second Amendment supporters to boycott the event.
Soon after, show organizers announced it was being postponed indefinitely. This was the largest outdoor show in the country. It draws a huge crowd every year and according to local estimates, about $80 million won't be arriving in the pockets and coffers of the pro-Bloomberg, anti-gun mayor of Harrisburg now.
As the battle over restricting Second Amendment rights continues, other elected officials under pressure from the Obama administration to ignore the feelings and deep beliefs of some of their constituents will learn a similar lesson.
Hundreds of self-proclaimed gun advocates didn't believe Obama was anti-gun based on his first term and wrote the NRA saying we were using scare tactics to have our way: Now they know.
Second Amendment supporters are in no mood to give those who would deny them their rights a pass and will vote in the next election in the same united way they responded to the insult leveled at them by the organizers of the Harrisburg show.
(Excerpt) Read more at cnn.com ...

Be More Specific

Texas Senator Tells Chicago Mayor To Back-Off Gun Manufacturers (Cruz Tells Off Emanuel)

Inquisitr ^ | January 29, 2013

Texas Senator Ted Cruz wants Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to back of gun manufacturers. The Republican senator issued a response to Emanuel’s letter to banks which do business with gun makers.
The Lone Star politician considers the former Obama administration official a bully. Cruz told gun companies that Texas banks would welcome their business and offered to personally introduce them to leading lenders.
Senator Cruz’s response to Rahm Emanuel stated:
“Your city’s longstanding policies stripping citizens of their Constitutional rights to keep and bear arms have, in turn, produced some of the very highest murder rates in the nation. Regardless, directing your attack at legitimate firearms manufacturers undermines the Second Amendment rights of Texans. In the future, I would ask that you keep your efforts to diminish the Bill of Rights north of the Red River.”
The Texas Senator’s Rahm Emanuel response also maintained the Chicago mayor was trying to deprive law-abiding citizens of the right to bear arms, the Washington Examiner notes. Mayor Emanuel’s letter was sent to both the Bank of America and TD Bank. Both banks extend a massive line of credit to two major American gun manufacturers.
Ted Cruz also told the two gun manufacturers targeted in the Chicago mayor’s letter not to hesitate to call him for assistance in relocating their funds. The Texas elected officials made note of Rahm Emanuel’s alleged nickname, “The Godfather” in his letter to the banks.
Cruz, a new senator, has garnered a plethora of positive response to his Rahm Emanuel letter on his Facebook page. Constituents are referring to the Texas Republican as a patriot and applauding his courage to speak out in support of the Second Amendment. The entire Ted Cruz letter can be read by clicking here.

DHS adds another 200,000 rounds to its 2 billion round stockpile

Examiner.com ^ | January 4, 2013 | Ryan Keller


Last year, it was reported that the Department of Homeland Security had purchased 1.6 billion rounds of hollow point ammunition of various calibers for reasons that the agency refuses to reveal. On Wednesday, the DHS announced that it would acquire another 200,000 rounds from a company known as Evian Group, Inc.
The DHS put out a solicitation for the purchase on the FedBizOps.gov Web site on Dec. 17 for the agency’s Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, requesting .40 caliber hollow point rounds, Federal Ammunition of 1,000 rounds in 200 cases.
Not only is the reason for the agency’s stockpiling of nearly 2 billion rounds of ammo shrouded in mystery, but so too is the Evian Group. James Smith of Prepper Podcast did an investigation into the company and found some odd facts which he reported in an article on Thursday.
For one, “It seems that the Evian Group was formed on December 12, 2012, just 5 days before the announcement of the solicitation,” writes Smith.
The price that the agency paid for the rounds is suspect too, according to Smith.
“The contract for 200,000 rounds was $45,758, which boils down to about $0.21 per round. And to be quiet (sic) honest, that (is) a really good price. As in, unheard of good price.”
After comparing the prices for the rounds from Evian and other companies on two different Web sites, Smith found “that the price was less than half of what the other guys are charging.”
Also suspicious is the company’s address of 105 South Eastern Ave, Las Vegas, Nev. After searching Google Maps, Smith found that the building at the listed address doesn’t appear to be the kind of place that could produce that much ammunition and then
(Excerpt) Read more at examiner.com ...

Top 11 "Only in America" Observations- by a Canadian

Lifted from comments to a news article | unk | unk

TOP-11 “ONLY IN AMERICA” OBSERVATIONS — BY A CANADIAN*

1) Only in America could the rich people - who pay 86% of all income taxes - be accused of not paying their “fair share” by people who don’t pay any income taxes at all.
2) Only in America could people claim that the government still discriminates against black Americans when they have a black President, a black Attorney General, and roughly 18% of the federal workforce is black while only 12% of the population is black
3) Only in America could they have had the two people most responsible for our tax code, Timothy Geithner, the head of the TreasuryDepartment and Charles Rangel who once ran the Ways and Means Committee, BOTH turn out to be tax cheats who are in favor of higher taxes.
4) Only in America can they have terrorists kill people in the name of Allah and have the media primarily react by fretting that Muslims might be harmed by the backlash.
5) Only in America would they make people who want to legally become American citizens wait for years in their home countries and pay tens of thousands of dollars for the privilege while we discuss letting anyone who sneaks into the country illegally just ‘magically’ become American citizens.
6) Only in America could the people who believe in balancing the budget and sticking by the country’s Constitution be thought of as”extremists.”
7) Only in America could you need to present a driver’s license tocash a check or buy alcohol, but not to vote.
8) Only in America could people demand the government investigate whether oil companies are gouging the public because the price of gas went up when the return on equity invested in a major U.S. oil company(Marathon Oil) is less than half of a company making tennis shoes(Nike).
9) Only in America could the government collect more tax dollars from the people than any nation in recorded history, still spend a Trillion dollars more than it has per year - for total spending of $7-Million PER MINUTE, and complain that it doesn’t have nearly enough money.
10) Only in America could politicians talk about the greed of the rich at a $35,000.00 a plate campaign fund-raising event.
11) Only in America can a man with no background, no qualifications and no experience ... and a complete failure at his job ... be re-elected.

Smokers To Be Slapped With Huge Penalties Under Obamacare That Will Cost You Thousands Of Dollars!

http://princevega.com ^ | January 26, 2013 | RT

Smokers, beware: tobacco penalties under President Obama’s Affordable Care Act could subject millions of smokers to fees costing thousands of dollars, making healthcare more expensive for them than Americans with other unhealthy habits.
The Affordable Care Act, which critics have also called “Obamacare”, could subject smokers to premiums that are 50 percent higher than usual, starting next Jan 1. Health insurers will be allowed to charge smokers penalties that overweight Americans or those with other health conditions would not be subjected to.
A 60-year-old smoker could pay penalties as high as $5,100, in addition to the premiums, the Associated Press reports. A 55-year-old smoker’s penalty could reach $4,250. The older a smoker is, the higher the penalty will be.
Nearly one in every five U.S. adults smokes, with a higher number of low-income people addicted to the unhealthy habit. Even though smokers are more likely to develop heart disease, cancer and lung problems and would therefore require more health care, the penalties might devastate those who need help the most – including retirees, older Americans, and low-income individuals.
“We don’t want to create barriers for people to get health care coverage,” California state Assemblyman Richard Pan told AP. “We want people who are smoking to get smoking cessation treatment.”
Nearly 450,000 US residents die of smoking-related diseases each year, making the unhealthy habit a serious concern for lawmakers. One legislator is trying to criminalize smoking in his state, while others have raised taxes on cigarettes and the Obama administration has tried to inflict hefty fines upon smokers’ premiums.
Karen Pollitz, a former consumer protection regular, told AP that no insurers want to provide coverage for Americans who have been smoking for decades, and that the penalties might prompt people to abandon the habit.
“You would have the flexibility to discourage them,” she told AP.
But quitting is not easy, and charging older smokers up to three times as much as younger ones could make it difficult for them to seek care in the first place. A 60-year-old smoker charged with the penalty could be paying about $8,411 per year for health insurance, which is about 24 percent of a $35,000 income and is considered “unaffordable” under federal law.
“The effect of the smoking (penalty) allowed under the law would be that lower-income smokers could not afford health insurance,” said Richard Curtis, president of the Institute for Health Policy Solutions.
Ultimately, the law that is meant to make health care more affordable could have the opposite effect on older smokers at a time when smoking-related illnesses usually arise.

IRS: Cheapest Obamacare Plan Will Be $20,000 Per Family

\CNS ^ | 1/31/13 | Matt Cover

In a final regulation issued Wednesday, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) assumed that under Obamacare the cheapest health insurance plan available in 2016 for a family will cost $20,000 for the year.
Under Obamacare, Americans will be required to buy health insurance or pay a penalty to the IRS.
The IRS's assumption that the cheapest plan for a family will cost $20,000 per year is found in examples the IRS gives to help people understand how to calculate the penalty they will need to pay the government if they do not buy a mandated health plan.
(Excerpt) Read more at cnsnews.com ...

McDonald's Jobs Are Great Jobs!

Tea Party Nation ^ | January 31, 2013 | John Wiseman

During a previous life, I was interviewing some soon to be college graduates for a possible position as an Assistant Manager Trainee in one of the 1200 F.W. Woolworth Stores around the fruited plains. Someone at the local University's placement office must have instructed those poor skulls full of mush on the finer points on negotiating a salary, (I just stopped laughing at those dumb kids about a week ago.) Each and every one of the kids asked at the end of the interview about salary, and each used the same wording to tell me that they felt that their education and training made them worth $50,000 per year. (those were 1990 dollars.)
My answer, said as diplomatically as I could muster went something like this. Why stop there. I'm sure your mother would tell me that you're worth $1 Million per year. The problem is that you have to be worth that to somebody. It may interest you to know young person, that I myself have a degree from a major American University, as does every one of our management team here. So, with all due respect to your college education, which I have had also by the way, I can tell you that you have learned nothing about how to actually produce the results necessary for you to be paid that sum. What your worth is to us, as someone entering in the very lowest echelons of our management team, someone who will spend the next three years learning what is necessary to produce the kind of results that would make you worth that salary that you seek, is $360 per week, in 1990 dollars.
Such is today's youth, and unfortunately many of our adults, entitled brats...
(Excerpt) Read more at teapartynation.com ...

No-money-down mortgages are back!

Market Watch ^ | February 1, 2013 | AnnaMaria Andriotis

It’s 100% financing—the same strategy that pushed many homeowners into foreclosure during the housing bust. Banks say these loans are safer: They’re almost exclusively being offered to clients with sizable assets, and they often require two forms of collateral—the house and a portion of the client’s investment portfolio in lieu of a traditional cash down payment.
In most cases, borrowers end up with one loan and one monthly payment. Depending on the lender and the borrower, roughly 60% to 80% of the loan can be pegged to the home’s value while the remaining 20% to 40% can be secured by investments. On a $2 million primary residence, for instance, the borrower could get a $2 million loan, which would require a pledge of assets in an investment portfolio to cover what could have been, say, a $500,000 down payment. The pledged assets can remain fully invested, earning returns as normal, without disrupting the client’s investment goals.
While these affluent clients may be flush with cash, this strategy allows them to get into a home without tying up funds or making withdrawals from interest-earning accounts. And given the market’s gains combined with low borrowing rates in recent years, some banks say clients are pursuing 100% financing as an arbitrage play—where the return on their investments is bigger than the rate they pay on the loan, which can be as low as 2.5%. Some institutions offer only adjustable rates with these loans, which could become more expensive if rates rise. In most cases, the investment account must be held by the same institution that’s providing the loan. See: Home improvement gets a makeover
(Excerpt) Read more at marketwatch.com ...