Monday, November 30, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
The Good News
My State Senator, Abel Maldonado was tabbed yesterday as the Governator's choice for Lt. Governor to replace California's newest member of Congress, John Garamendi. Maldonado began his political career as mayor of Santa Maria, eventually moving into the state legislature where he hitched his wagon to Governor Schwarzenegger. That loyalty has now paid off...
I have to say that in my 4 years as a constituent of the good Senator, I've not been overly impressed. The good news in all of this as far as I'm concerned is that now that he's moving into a notoriously un-important and un-productive position, he can't cause too much more mischief for the state (Thank you again for the 1% sales-tax increase and the waste of time that was the May special election).
The Bad News
It's not been a very well-kept secret that Maldonado has his eyes on higher state office and this is an easy first-step. As the incumbent Lt. Governor he will have a leg up on the Republican Gubernatorial nomination, a contingency that didn't exist while Garamendi filled the slot.
Monday, November 23, 2009
A bit about the NY Times response to the hacking/leaking of sensitive emails surrounding the climate change debate:
The NYT’s environmental blog, Dot Earth, covered the disclosure of e-mails and other files from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit, noted that the files are available on various other website, but did not reproduce any files on its site. As Andrew Revkin explained in the post:
The documents appear to have been acquired illegally and contain all manner of private information and statements that were never intended for the public eye, so they won’t be posted here.
Am I wrong in thinking that this is a change in policy for the NYT? Hasn’t the Grey Lady published illegally obtained documents on national security and other matters in the past?
As I posted earler this morning, there are reasons to believe these documents were released by an internal whistleblower, rather than an external hacker. If so, would the same considerations apply? My initial thought is that arguments against publishing hacked documents might not apply to those disclosed by a whistleblower. In any event, it seems these documents contain substantial material of legitimate public interest, and this interest is not diminished by the way in which the documents were obtained. I readily concede that if the documents were stolen, as it appears, the individual responsible should be prosecuted, but this is a separate question from whether to disseminate the contents of the documents themselves.
Hide the Decline indeed (Well, they are trying).
Thursday, November 19, 2009
UPDATE: Victor Davis Hanson along those lines: Add it all up and there is a growing sense that America is in fact hemorrhaging — as both friends and enemies abroad smell blood in the water. The president through conciliation and concession — not to mention constant talk — is trying to superficially restore the influence we once earned by virtue of our economic power and self-confidence in our exceptional past and singular values.
But being both loud and vulnerable is not a winning combination, since political influence and military power are ultimately predicated on economic strength.
The United States needs to re-establish itself as financially credible and responsible so that when we lecture — about everything from global warming to Iranian nukes — we do so from a position of strength. That means we need to stop borrowing other nations’ money.
America also can’t afford to keep importing high-priced oil that we won’t produce at home. And we should stop promising ever-more government entitlements to ever-more voters that we can’t even begin to pay for.
For as we continue in our self-indulgence, a more defiant world seems to be saying that the old rules of the game have changed. In response, America should keep quieter abroad — and try finding a bigger stick.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Now, Ed Pound, director of communications for Recovery.gov, has stepped in it too. When asked to explain the phenomenon of stimulus-related job creation in non-existent congressional districts, Pound told the New Orleans Times-Picayune, "who knows, man, who really knows."
Remember how the other guy couldn't get anything right? If only...
Saturday, November 14, 2009
If there's an upside to all this, after months of watching KSM up close, even liberal New Yorkers may be ready to give Dick Cheney a medal.
Combine it with the navel-gazing on Afghanistan and I'm running out of reasons to even pretend to give the President the benefit of the doubt on any of these high-profile issues. Is it willful? Is it incompetence? What explains it?
Posted by Paul Hogue at 2:06 PM
Or everything AP at least. The ROI on this is atrocious so I wonder what the guys in the Finance office think:
If you wonder why American newspapering is dying, consider this sign-off:
AP writers Matt Apuzzo, Sharon Theimer, Tom Raum, Rita Beamish, Beth Fouhy, H. Josef Hebert, Justin D. Pritchard, Garance Burke, Dan Joling and Lewis Shaine contributed to this report.
Wow. That's ten "AP writers" plus Calvin Woodward, the AP writer whose twinkling pen honed the above contributions into the turgid sludge of the actual report. That's 11 writers for a 695-word report. What on? Obamacare? The Iranian nuke program? The upcoming trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?
No, the Associated Press assigned 11 writers to "fact-check" Sarah Palin's new book, and in return the 11 fact-checkers triumphantly unearthed six errors. That's 1.8333333 writers for each error. What earth-shattering misstatements did they uncover for this impressive investment?
Nothing worth mentioning, though Steyn does go on to include the
horrors errors. Suffice to say, AP paid 11 people an undetermined amount of money to pick at nits.
As an added bonus, Steyn goes on to note the free transcription services provided by Media Matters.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Friday, November 06, 2009
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
And that is what they are doing:
Starting Sunday, cash-strapped California will dig deeper into the pocketbooks of wage earners -- holding back 10% more than it already does in state income taxes just as the biggest shopping season of the year kicks into gear.
Technically, it's not a tax increase, even though it may feel like one when your next paycheck arrives. As part of a bundle of budget patches adopted in the summer, the state is taking more money now in withholding, even though workers' annual tax bills won't change.
Think of it as a forced, interest-free loan: You'll be repaid any extra withholding in April. Those who would receive a refund anyway will receive a larger one, and those who owe taxes will owe less.
Just so we're all clear...you're going to take more than what I rightfully owe as determined under state law based on my W-4 witholdings and you're going to 'apply' it in some sort of accounting gimmick to make your bad financial situation look only slightly worse? Why, yes: The extra withholding may seem like a small amount siphoned from each paycheck, but it adds up to a $1.7-billion fix for California's deficit-riddled books.
And the timing couldn't be better: Brittney McKaig, 23, of Santa Ana said she expects the additional withholding to affect her holiday spending.
"Coming into the holidays, we're getting squeezed anyway," she said. "We're not getting Christmas bonuses and other perks we used to get. So it all falls back on spending. The $40 gift will become a $20 gift."
As a small business owner, I'm especially looking forward to that...not enough when you're in a state that is performing worse than the national economy and a community that is performing even worse than the state. And when you add this on top of the sales tax increase (1%) earlier in the year, I'd say the state has bent over backwards to make life as difficult as possible for small businesses, especially in retail.
Veronique de Rugy noticed this earlier today over at the Corner and asked a question that I screamed out at the computer on Saturday when I first read this; namely, is this legal? She posted a reader response later in the day from, I can only presume, somebody with at least a quasi-legal background:
This is a gray area, and if the right paintiff emerges (probably a large private-sector union local) then it could go to the U.S. Supreme Court. My guess is that there are plenty of justices who would not be readily convinced regarding the coincidence of a state cash-flow crisis and the "discovery" of a need to boost a formula developed to be reasonably related to what taxpayers should owe.
This is just another piece in a mosaic of idiocy that has been sewn together over the last 10 years in Sacramento. If it weren't going to do so much damage to so many people (including my family), I would just sit back and laugh as this state collapses under the weight of it's own idiocy. But it will damage too many far too much by the time all is said and done for that.
As to what to do...I'm sure I don't know. In any just world we'd show up in Sacramento with the torches & pitchforks and pound some sense into their heads.