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CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR'S BOOKS

Friday, July 15, 2011

WORD AROUND THE NET

“Can I ask you to clarify — there's no reporters allowed in today's meeting because reporters misbehaved?”

NaomiMoneypenny is black in the new Bond film. No you read that correctly, she's back as well, after being missing in the first two, but she's also being played by a black woman. Well Bond has blonde hair and M is a woman, so I guess they've decided to abandon the entire book series description and basic character designs. Yet I can't help but think this was done not because of any real need but because they just wanted someone black in the movies, sort of like making Felix Leiter a black dude. The woman playing Moneypenny is Naomie Harris who played Calypso in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.

Minnesota had a bit of a budget crisis and while the governor is a leftist Democrat, the majority of their legislature is Republican. They've been fighting hard over a budget deal in which the governor insists they have to raise taxes and the legislature insists they just need to stop spending so much. in other words, its the standard left/right conflict over government perpetually expanding and taking more from citizens or government being controlled and limited to give citizens maximum liberty.

Well both sides refused to give in and so the state government shut down. Except as usual, that doesn't mean all government agencies simply shut off, there were still cops and so on. In fact, almost nobody even noticed that the Minnesota government had shut down, so now the governor is discussing a deal because his trump card didn't work.

Business Insider has a list of 14 cities that are being destroyed by public employee union-driven pension and benefit packages. New York City is number one:
  • Annual pension contributions have skyrocketed from $1.5 billion — 6% of the city budget — in 2002 to an estimated $8.5 billion — 18% of the budget — in 2012. Pension costs ate up more than one-third of all of the city's revenue increases in that period.
  • Pension contributions for New York school districts are projected to swell from $900 million to $4.5 billion over the next five years. Property taxes will have to rise an average 3.5% per year to keep up with the payments.
  • To cut compensation costs, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has called for state lawmakers to raise the retirement age from 55 to 65 and calculate retirement pay based on an employee's base pay, excluding overtime.
Its a bit late, but they have to start somewhere.

Washington DC was the site of the most recent supreme court gun battle, with the city government trying to ban all guns in the area regardless of 2nd amendment protections and the Supreme Court telling them that's unconstitutional. Three years later, the city still doesn't have a gun shop, and no guns can be sold across city lines. Every time a shop tries to open, they are refused by the zoning commission for various reasons, still imposing a ban on gun sales in the city despite being unconstitutional. Is it working? Washington DC is the highest gun-violence city in the nation and has been the murder capitol for years. I guess that's what happens when criminals are pretty sure nobody is armed to protect themselves.

Fox News angers leftist politicians because it refuses to toe the left-bias line like nearly every other news organization in America. As a result, President Obama has established an unofficial ban on Fox, according to a recent email uncovered by Judicial Watch. Jake Tapper at ABC News reports:
At 10:33 a.m. that morning Treasury Department official Jenni Lecompte emailed other Treasury officials with a plan for Feinberg to grant interviews to ABC, CBS, NBC and NPR. Treasury official Andrew Williams asked for time to fit in CNN and Bloomberg.

Lecompte emailed White House official Dag Vega at 11:10 a.m. noting that Treasury was trying to add more interviews for Feinberg to the schedule. She asked: “If we did do Fox in the mix, is that an issue? (understand you would not but if we do is that a problem on your end?)”

Vega wrote to her: “we’d prefer if you skip Fox please.”
The president claims there was no attempt to exclude Fox News.

Netflix is raising its subscription prices by 60% which has some up in arms. That's a pretty significant increase but, as my brother put it, nine bucks a month for unlimited streaming and a DVD every few days in the mail felt kind of like stealing anyway. And since Netflix lost its killer deal with the film companies which was incredibly cheaper than, for example, Starz for its movies, they can't offer things as cheaply as before. At just over $15 bucks a month, that's still a heck of a deal.

Recently, the president told a bit of a fib claiming he can't guarantee Social Security checks will go out if congress refuses to obey his demands on the budget. That's simply not true, and it was deliberately said to frighten elderly voters, but it doesn't appear to have gotten any traction. However, by making that statement, President Obama publicly admitted that effectively there is no "Social Security Trust Fund" that is always available and can be relied on. Its just part of the budget as everything else.

President Obama apparently doesn't like people shouting questions at him, so he's banned the practice in press conferences. What's likely the source is that its harder to hide the fact that like all people, Obama just doesn't like answering certain questions but is so fixated on media control he can't stand anyone showing him ignoring some reporters.

The EPA has struck again. Their new regulations on clean air and equipment has energy giant AEP stating it will have to close five coal-burning power plants because they can't afford the billions it would cost to comply. President Obama promised he'd shut down coal and "skyrocket" energy prices. He's doing it. Apparently voters weren't listening when he clearly said that on TV.

The National Academy of Sciences is telling the EPA to get its science down better or risk "irrelevancy" in a scientific sense. Apparently they're less than impressed with how the EPA is applying what they call science.

Jeffrey Immelt is the rabidly pro-Obama former head of GE who chewed out a news staff for criticizing the president several times while he was in charge of the company (that owns NBC). Now he's an economic adviser for the president and as Jammie Wearing Fool points out, he lacks a sense of hypocrisy:
After Shedding 36K Jobs, Obama Adviser Immelt Tells Businesses to Start Hiring

Not only did this Obama stooge not pay any taxes on $5 billion profits, his company has shed 36,000 jobs since 2009 (H/T).
SEIU thugs beat a wheelchair-bound black man at a Tea Party Rally so badly he was in the hospital, but the jury decided that this wasn't really assault assault and cleared the thugs in court. They were clearly shown on camera beating this man, but the defense claimed he had it coming, in essence, and the jury agreed.

According to the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), illegal immigrants are costing the US about $113 billion annually -- nearly $29 billion at the federal level and $84 billion at the state and local level. There have been studies before examining this sort of thing but they always included legal immigrants, and this supposedly only examines illegals. Imagine how much easier your state would be financially if this was reduced.

Alex Pappas at the Daily Caller caught the Democrats admitting something recently:
“We shouldn’t be giving away our advantage on Medicare,” said a Democratic source familiar with Democratic Senatorial Congressional Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray’s private discussions, according to the report. “We should be very careful about giving away the biggest advantage we’ve had as Democrats in some time.”

“For the first time in the past two and a half years we have an unmitigated advantage on a single issue where our entire caucus is united,” that source told Sargent. “This is a case where the whole morale of our party was lifted by the fact that we were taking the fight to Republicans.”
In other words: in the budget battle, what matters is how this helps Democrats win power, not doing the right thing, creating a budget or saving the nation from financial destruction.

President Obama is trying really hard not to say "tax increase" so he's using words like "revenue enhancement," "spending in the tax code," and "eliminating an unfair break." He wants to raise taxes, but can't just get the tax rates hiked up, so he is taking a different approach: eliminated deductions. After all, its not your money, its the government's, and they let you keep some. Even the Associated Press has noticed what this really means:
Proposals under consideration include raising taxes on small business owners and potentially low- and middle-income families. You won’t hear about that from Obama. Instead the president focuses on the very rich, and speaks euphemistically.
That's right: if he succeeds, low and middle income families see their taxes go up. But remember: the GOP is evil and hates the poor and middle class, just ask a Democrat. Then again, president Obama recently claimed hilariously that 80% of Americans want their taxes raised. If that's true why the euphemisms? Maybe because that same poll notes that 96% want spending cuts.

Newsweek has been struggling for years. Its poor reporting, heavy leftward tilt, and the fact that it is a news magazine in an internet news world has been taking a heavy toll on subscriptions. To save money, the magazine is taking the opposite approach of papers like the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. They're shutting down the Newsweek website. This seems like a very stupid approach to me - websites are how people get their news now, and they're much cheaper to run and produce (unless you're an idiot) than a magazine.

Last week I noted that President Obama gave money to ACORN, but I got it wrong. I reported that he'd given around $80,000 in grants in 2011 but that was in error. In fact, according to Mathew Vadum at Big Government, he actually gave them $541,000. Since congress passed a law prohibiting ACORN from receiving any federal dollars, people are wondering why and how this has happened.

Another whistleblower is claiming problems in the Department of Justice. Already plagued with scandals ranging from dismissals of Inspectors General to voter intimidation by the Black Panthers to Operation Gunwalker, the agency has been plagued with troubles since Eric Holder took over. Now a scandal has risen over something that has been obvious to me for a while now: The DOJ under Holder favors blacks over other defendants:
Nearly three months later, Coates backed up Adams’ claims. In lengthy and detailed testimony, he said the department cultivates a “hostile atmosphere” against “race-neutral enforcement” of the Voting Rights Act.

He said civil rights attorneys stick to cases that involve minority victims, and he said the Black Panther case was dismissed following “pressure” by the NAACP and “anger” at the case within the Justice Department itself.

“That anger was the result of their deep-seated opposition to the equal enforcement of the Voting Rights Act against racial minorities and for the protection of white voters who have been discriminated against,” he said.
Well Holder did say they were "his people" as opposed to the rest of America he allegedly works for.

Project Liberty sounds great, but what it really comes down to is ethanol subsidies. The EPA has given $105 million to an ethanol plant startup called POET. Given the debacle that ethanol has been proven and how its pretty well rejected by all sides of every political issue, its sad to see the government still flooding cash into these projects. Its a pretty safe bet that if a company cannot get started without huge stacks of government cash, its not going to be making any money.

Confirming what pretty much everyone already knew, Obama's bailout chief admitted recently (reversing previous testimony) that he did, in fact, push for the GM and Chrysler bailouts primarly for the unions. This was sort of obvious since the companies could just have gone to bankruptcy court instead of bailouts but that would have forced the UAW to renegotiate with a judge this time and ruin their cushy contracts.

Oregon's wine industry has been winning awards for decades, especially with the Pinot Noir produced in the Columbia River area. Oregon has incredibly rich soil and very good water; things grow very quickly here, although the growing season is shorter than in southern states. Over the past 6 years, the wine industry in Oregon has grown by 93%, as agriculture takes over other areas in nurseries popping up all around the Willamette Valley. That's great for the Oregon economy, since agriculture tends to weather recessions better than some industries, at least until environmentalists figure out some reason to shut them down, too.

And that's the Word Around the Net, July 15, 2011.

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