Saturday, November 29, 2014

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

President Barack Obama on Reactions to the Ferguson Grand Jury Verdict

It is ironic that just as President Obama was extolling the virtues of peaceful protests of the Ferguson Missouri Grand Jury verdict, the mob started to overturn a police car.  

So much for the White House's overture of meeting with the Ferguson activists the day after the midterm elections, when Mr. Obama told them to "Stay the course". Perhaps that is what was intended.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Senator Bob Bennett on the Tea Party

It should be noted that three term former Senator Bennett lost to Mike Lee in 2010 during the GOP State Convention to choose their nominee.  Bennett was the son of Senator Wallace Forest Bennett (R-UT) who served from 1951-1974. 

It seems that the Establishment prefers the Cocktail Party on Capitol Hill rather than the Tea Party who will challenge the status quo.  In the 114th Congress, political junkies will discern if newly elected Senators like Senator-elect Joni Ernst (R-IA), Senator-elect Ben Sasse (R-NB), Senator-elect Tom Cotton (R-AR), and Senator-elect Cory Gardner (R-CO) opt for the establishment or seek to shake up the Senate GOP caucus. 

Jon Huntsman, Sr. is another storied name in Utah politics, recently opined that Republican's don't have a prayer in Presidential politics unless they nominate a moderate like Jon Huntsman, Jr. or Jeb Bush.  It is certainly understandable that Huntsman would unwavingly support his son, but plugging for Jeb screams of dynasty and an orientation of establishment.   

Time will tell if Senator Bennett and Jon Huntman's prognostications are prophetic or echoes of an earlier age.

How High Taxes Can Create a Home Ice Disadvantage

Home Ice TaxDisadvantage is a joint study by the Canadian Taxpayers Foundation and the Americans for Tax Reform which studied the impact of taxes upon labor mobility by focusing on the 123 unrestricted NHL free agents during the 2014 off-season. The study accounted for the team salary spending, the personal tax rate and the "True Cap" which took into consideration these rates.

 Home Ice Tax Disadvantage discovered that 57% of the players who switched teams during that time period chose to migrate to lower tax jurisdictions. The 78 free agents who switched teams, cumulatively saved $7,951,784 in taxes. These choices are more marked when considering particular players' circumstances.

For example, Benoit Pouliot was moved from the New York Rangers to the Edmonton Oilers. Had Pouliot been offered the same deal in New York City, he would have paid $572,752 more in taxes. Jason Spezza had a no trade clause in his contract, which aided him when he moved from the Ottawa Senators to the Dallas Stars, where he now only pays $349,535 in taxes.  Yet P.A. Parenteau did not have a no-trade clause so when he moved from the Colorado Avalanche to the Montreal Canadiens, it cost him $349,352 in taxes to play for the 'Habs.  

Alberta had the lowest jurisdictional tax rate, so players for the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers only paid 38.5% in taxes.  Alberta's overall tax rate was lower than Southern U.S. states like Florida, Texas and Tennessee which boast no state income taxes.  The Los Angeles Kings pay the highest overall amount in taxes, forking over $27.8 million to Uncle Sam and $8.5 million to the state of California.  The Montreal Canadien players face the highest tax rate of 58.5%. 

As CTF Director of Research Jeff Bowes, who authored Home Ice Tax Disadvantage, put it:  

“The numbers don’t lie; NHL players take a financial hit to play in certain jurisdictions.  Obviously, there are other factors at play besides taxes, but the fact remains that disparities in tax rates leave some teams at a major disadvantage.”

The point of the study was not to study comparative advantage in the NHL or to stoke up class envy but to suggest that high tax jurisdictions are alienating skilled workers such as doctors, engineers or corporate executives  with onerous progressive taxation and prompting them to vote with their feet.  The ever increasing tax rates on the top tier of taxpayers may explain why places like New York and California keep losing businesses and population to locales like Texas and Florida.

H/T:  Americans for Tax Reform

F.C.C. Commissioner Mike O'Reilly on Net Neutrality

While speaking at the non-partisan Free State Foundation's policy forum, Republican F.C.C. Commissioner Mike O'Reilly explained  some of the consequences of President Obama's "modest proposal" regarding Net Neutrality.

The internet tax would stem from moving internet services into Title II of the Federal Communications Act, which is not a smooth fit but gives the ostensibly independent regulatory agency power to implement Net Neutrality.  By applying common carrier rules, Internet Service Providers would have to pay into the Universal Services Fund (USF), which would add around $7/month to a bill.  The Heartland Institute shared a study from New York University which estimates that the imposition of Net Neutrality could cost consumers $55/month.   President Obama's comment intimated that cellular carriers should also come into Common Carrier status, so add the USF tax to an already heavy mobile telephony charges. O'Reilly believes that the F.C.C. would go on a spending spree with USF funds to expand the federal "E-Rate" program , which currently wires 

Idealistic internet activists were apoplectic about Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) observation that Net Neutrality was akin to Obamacare, insisting that the Tea Party maverick knew nothing about the subject. Senator Al Franken (D-MN)  even took to CNN to amplify this Net Neutrality no-nothing meme.   One wonders if these same digerati will insist that F.C.C. Commissioner O'Reilly is ignorant about Net Neutrality too, or if he holds a valid view which is opposed to their own insistence on inserting the government into the middle to regulate Common Carriers. 

Jon Huntsman, Sr. on the Tea Party

Jon Huntsman Sr on the Tea Party

James Madison on Government

James Madison on Government

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Some of How Ecumenism Has Gone Awry at Washington National Cathedral

Despite Reverend Franklin Graham's disappointment which he shared on Twitter about the Muslim led prayer service at Washington National Cathedral, this is not the first time that the sixth largest Cathedral church in the world  has ecumenically opened its doors to non-Christian worship.


Regarding the recent Muslim Prayer Service, the Dean of National Cathedral Gary Hall was unaware or did not care that the Muslim prayer service at Washington National Cathedral was held on the centennial of the last Caliph declaring a holy war on all non-believers.


Muslim led Friday Prayers at Washington National Cathedral Nov. 14, 2014 [photo source: AFP]

The prayer carpets for the around two hundred Muslim faithful gathered for the Jumu'ah (Muslim Prayer Service) were laid diagonally in the transept on the side of the sanctuary to face Mecca without seeing any Christian icons, as Islam forbids prayer in view of sacred symbols which are alien to their faith. 

Before the prayers started, a lone protester proclaimed: "Jesus died on that Cross for us.  Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior." before being whisked out of the supposedly Christian church.

It seems that forthrightly proclaiming the faith in the House of God which a Cathedral church represents is unwelcomed at Washington National Cathedral.  


Washington National Cathedral was founded on a charter from Congress but it is an Episcopal Cathedral.  While it is wonderful to reach out to people of faith to find commonalities, it seems pusillanimous to not represent the faith at the seat of the Archbishop, who should be shepherding the flock.  Moreover, treating Washington National Cathedral like an International House of Prayer seems like it is making it a big venue religious entertainment.  Then again the Very Reverend Gary Hall wished about to roller skate or throw paper airplanes down the temporarily empty nave of Washington National Cathedral

Ecumenism is illuminating and foster tolerance and perhaps peace in the proper context. This is often accomplished through interfaith prayer services, which may concentrate on the spiritual things which unite various confessions.


Friday, November 14, 2014

Charlie Rangel on "Terms of Endearment"

Congressman Charlie Rangel (D-NY 13th) took to the airwaves after the Midterm Elections to malign the Tea Party.


 But purporting that "White Cracker" is a term of endearment was as laughable as considering the 84 year old, 22 term incumbent from Harlem is a paragon of ethics. 

Nevertheless, the racialized rhetoric seems to fan the flames as Ferguson is ready to erupt if the Grand Jury does not do what the mob demands.  Moreover, Rangel's rant makes a mockery of President Barack Obama's call for civility in civics.  Furthermore, Rangel's provocative epithet neither reflects reality nor sounds constructive. 

Harlem has a history of sending charismatic yet slimey and cantankerous Congressmen to represent them.  Rangel replaced Rep. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.  (D-NY 1st), who  was not seated by a Democrat led Congress in 1967 after it became clear that Powell bilked taxpayers for six years by having his wife on the Congressional payroll after she moved back to Puerto Rico.  Powell was re-elected in 1969 and he was seated after winning his case before the US Supreme Court. 

 Although Congress and the public may not  be able to exclude Rep. Rangel from his seat in Congress, they can deny him authority and attention.  Rangel took a leave of absence from being Chairman of the power the Ways and Means Committee during his Ethics investigation in 2010.  Rangel did not return to the top Democrat spot on the Ways and Means Committee after he became the 23rd Congressman ever censured.  

While Rangel might make good copy and his social charms makes him a good guest, we should discern if Rangel's raspy rhetoric should be amplified in the media or shunned as bilious blathering from a hoary has-been.  Otherwise, we are condoning a Congresscritter blithely spewing polarizing politics.

Poisoning the Well on Immigration?

If reports broken on Fox News and confirmed by the New York Times are accurate, President Barack Obama may take heed of Rep. Luis Gutierrez's (D-IL 14th) plea and release a ten point Executive Order which fills the void of the duties which properly belong to the Legislative Branch. 

Speaker of the House John Boehner has  warned that if the White House issues a ukase on immigration that it will poison the well for any cooperation with the Republican majorities in 114th Congress. Well respected Democrat pollster Peter Hart concurs that Obama's unilateral actions on immigration indeed would poison the well. 

Rep. Trey Gowdy on Obamacare

Trey Gowdy on Obamacare

Dave Barry on Character

Dave Barry on Character

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Sheila Jackson Lee on President Obama

Sheila Jackson Lee on President Obama   Covering the President is right up Ms. Jackson-Lee's aisle (sic).  She is renowned for camping out hours before the annual State of the Union address to get her prized aisle seat and get an photo-op with the President.

Rene Magritte on Art

Rene Magritte on Art

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Smile and Wave Boys for "Operation: Got Your Six"

In the run up to their first major cinematic film "The Penguins of Madagascar" (2014), the team took an assignment from FLOTUS Michelle Obama -- a P.S.A. for Operation Got Your Six.

Kind of strange to have a Skipper report to a General who is really a Private instead of an Admiral.

None the less, it would be good if everyone in the Pentagon, Foggy Bottom and in the Oval to remember the Penguin credo, from Benghazi to Tijuana.

As this high profile mission may have already blown the Penguin Team's cover,  so just smile and wave boys.  

Gary Sinise on Sacrifice

Along with his acting career, Gary Sinise has been a big booster of military and veterans' causes.  Sinise combined his love of music with a beloved character from the film "Forest Gump" (1994) .  The Lt. Dan Band plays cover music concerts for the USO and charities like Operation Iraqi Child under the banner: "Honor. Gratitude. Rock & Roll".

President Ronald Reagan on Heroes

Ronald Reagan on Heroes

President Harry S. Truman on Veterans

Monday, November 10, 2014

Obamacare for the Internet?

President Barack Obama strongly weighed in on the net neutrality issue, petitioning the F.C.C. to consider the internet like a public utility for Americans.

While net neutrality is understood as internet companies adjusting internet speeds for certain users.  Mr. Obama's statement declares:

"I believe the FCC should create a new set of rules protecting net neutrality and ensuring that neither the cable company nor the phone company will be able to act as a gatekeeper, restricting what you can do or see online."

However, the ramifications of the Obama Administration's modest proposal goes beyond "internet fast lanes".  By applying the net neutrality to cellular companies, who offered tiers of service based on payments and who will govern a small number of bandwidth hogs.  Enforcing net neutrality could either raise rates for everyone or cause congestion reducing access for many mobile data users.

Of course, treating the internet like a public utility means lots of government bureaucrats and functionaries to apply and monitor these rules.  The problem is that instead of applying the principle of subsidiarity, where governing happens on a local or state level, inevitably this would be centralized in the District of Calamity (sic).

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) offered some quick and incisive reaction on Twitter to Mr. Obama's play on net neutrality.

Do we really want to cede control of the internet to the government, which spent $2 Billion on  and could not build an efficient and secure webpage?

Mr. Obama rightly notes that the F.C.C. is an independent agency so which unelected bureaucrats will govern us with little chance of redress?

Let us not forget about mission creep.  Currently, the F.C.C. is taking comments on the alleged offensiveness of the term "Redskins" to force owner Dan Snyder to change the name of the sports franchise from "The Washington Redskins".  This is being pursued by trying to pull the licenses of a couple of Red Zebra am sports radio stations that the Redskins owner controls.  This would set a precedent of government censoring content based on shifting political correctness, not well established community standards like George Carlin's "The Seven Words" that you can't say when broadcasting.

Furthermore, how much will the government stifle innovation on the internet as government bureaucrats figure things out and assess what is fair and neutral.

There has been wrangling for years over net neutrality. But it would be prudent to give a death panel to the notion of making the Internet into Obamacare via public utility regulation by the federal government.

Senator Angus King on Government

Sen. Angus King on Government

Senator Angus King ("I"-ME) sought to be coy about with whom he would caucus when he was elected in 2012.

King's rationale supposedly was that he wanted to get the most for Maine.  So it was understandable that he would align himself with the majority Democrats after the Presidential election.  King played the same fan dance in the run up to the midterm elections, claiming that he might caucus with the GOP if they won. 

 Yet even after the GOP wave victories, King still announced that he would caucus with the Democrats.  Either King does not understand the way things work as a minority member of the Senate or his non-aligned words were of wind. 

Some non-conformists have hailed third party candidacies as it opens up choice and may stop the merging of parties.  However, Angus King's revealing rhetoric on MSNBC's "Morning Joe exemplifies that an independent is at best a subterfuge or more likely indicating lacking the courage to stand up for a label which  he or she will later embody.

Peggy Noonan on Government

Peggy Noonan on Government

Friday, November 7, 2014

Reality Bites for Clay Aiken

In the wake of the GOP wave election results in the 2014 midterms, Republicans gloated about the many liberal legacies and legend candidacies which went down to defeat. One of these sideshow races involved Clay Aiken, the 35 year old sing who first came to fame coming in second on American Idol II and Celebrity Apprentice.  Aiken sought to parlay his fame and social activist instincts into politics, running against freshman Congresswoman Renee Ellmers (R-NC 2nd).

This was set to be a tough race, as it is a Republican +11 district.  Still Clay Aiken resorted to fundraising in California to fight the good fight. So it was no surprise that in a Republican wave election that Clay Aiken once again was the bridesmaid.  But what did raise eyebrows from fans, politicos and financial supporters that despite his crushing 17% loss in the election, Aiken still won a mini-series documenting the campaign with Esquire TV, which hypes it as "a raw and honest look at American politics through an incredibly unique and compelling candidate."

While the mini-series move might seem smart to professionally cover one's behind, the Esquire announcement did not go over well with some well placed supporters.   Steven Tyler, a Hollywood based actor/producer, who organized the Los Angeles fundraiser for Aiken bridled at Clay's self-serving chicanery.

[L] Actor/Producer Steven Tyler [R] Clay Aiken at Sept. 30 political fundraiser

Those attending the September 30th California fundraiser were told that the camera crew following Aiken were doing a BBC documentary.  The releases which attendees signed were for British broadcast, not in the US. Tyler thought that Aiken's idea of documenting the campaign was a good one but objects to the legerdemain in the releases.

Aiken's seven minute concession speech obliquely references coming in second (yet a third time) but still fighting on:

"The result did not go in the way that we canted it to tonight, but we've walked down this path once -- or twice before.  And when about 11 years ago, after 'American Idol' we came up short in another vote, we found reason to be happy, we found opportunity to see a win.
My voice is not going to be silenced by this. My voice is only going to get louder and we’re only going to tell more stories.”
That was boffo bravado for the cameras, but Aiken does not realize that by landing the mini-series, he spent his credibility.

It's a pity.  Aiken started his public career on American Idol being a nerdy teacher for autistic children with an exceptional voice.  He blossomed into an entertainer who was a safe celebrity for tween girls to idolize as Claymates.

Despite losing American Idol, he crafted a successful entertainment career crooning standards and Christmas tunes while advancing philanthropic pursuits to help intellectually disabled individuals and cautiously representing for homosexuals after he came out.

Those admirable accomplishments are marred by a mini-series which was produced on false pretenses and is self serving.  One wonders if Clay's concession speech was just for the cameras too.

Wendy Davis, Democrat Texas state senator who gained national notoriety as Abortion Barbie for her ill fated filibuster in 2013, used that moment as a springboard for a quixotic gubernatorial campaign (which she lost by 20%).  Many political observers expect Davis to soon be appearing on MSNBC, but even she had the good sense to wait a bit before trying to transition to television.

On the hustings in North Carolina, candidate Clay Aiken refused to sing because: "The minute I sing, I'm a punchline... People like me. But I need them to take me seriously."  Aiken need not worry about being a punchline in politics.

But if Aiken expects to be taken seriously again on the public stage or advocating issues after this docu-series, he might well find that Reality Bites. Clay should consider taking the stage again, and it is leaving in five minutes.

Senator Tim Scott on Poverty

George Burns on Sincerity

George Burns on Sincerity

Thursday, November 6, 2014

DISHing about the CNN Blackout

Dish Network's 14 million  satellite TV subscribers have been unable to see CNN or many other Turner Network channels since October 21st due to a carriage contract dispute.   The two big Turner Entertainment channels, TBS and TNT, are on a separate contract and were unaffected by the blackout.

Dish Network Chairman Charlie Ergen is a maverick who has pushed broadcast rights to the brink in the past to drive a better bargain. Ergen's quip about CNN and MK-370 highlights the tension between supplying costs and subscriber demands.  CNN has appeals to modest spectrum of news viewers yet Turn wanted a double digit increase in carriage costs.  Losing Dish Network cuts into 17% of their prospective market, which may also include the millions of monitors in waiting rooms and airport terminals

Dish Network the only television provider which has played hardball in contract terms.  DirecTV dropped with NBC/Universal Weather Channel in February over carriage costs and anticipating niche competition, and the Weather Channel tried fighting back to claim that dropping the channel was a public safety issue.

If it were for CNN, Cartoon Network and TCM alone, Dish Network might be tempted to permanently drop these Turner channels, but TBS and TNT will be up for renewal at year's end the NBA agreement might be the leverage to clinch the overall deals.

Cord cutting consumers might think that they avoided the messy media melee by ordering programming ala cart with broadband internet.  But a recent report indicates that bundled programming packages on cable or satellite might be less costly than the ala cart option.

Considering CNN's ratings, it is dubious if anyone would notice about the absence without articles. However on Election Night --the SuperBowl for political junkies--CNN managed to garner 1/3 of Fox News Channel's ratings.

Senator Elect Tom Cotton on Immigration

Alas, Senator elect Tom Cotton (R-AR) does not consider the Do Something Disease which often affects those in Cocktail Party in the District of Calamity.  Namely, it is better to look good than feel good.  The P.R. about passing more legislation is thought to be better to political hacks than actually solving a problem.

In our Constitutional Republic, enforcement of the laws falls upon the Executive Branch.  Unfortunately, the Obama Administration and its Justice Department under Attorney General Eric Holder have made a practice about ignoring laws which they do not like (such as DOMA, Drug Laws or Gun Law) or contorting law enforcement to effectuate policy goals (e.g. immigration