Saturday, March 28, 2015

Can I call her "Network Administratrix?"

We live in a surreal time. The distinction between parody and reality has become more difficult to discern, most especially on the left. For example, there is apparently a group named HRC Super Volunteers which has warned NYT reporter Amy Chozick that they will not stand idly by if anyone uses certain adjectives to describe Hillary Clinton.

Verboten words & phrases thus far include "polarizing," "calculating," "disingenuous," "insincere," "ambitious," "inevitable," "entitled," "over-confident," "secretive," "will do anything to win," "represents the past," "out of touch,” and hillaryariously, "tone deaf.” For a first pass, I couldn't have said it better. What exactly would this group be doing differently if they were Hillary opponents?

As battle space prep for Hillary this effort may engage the base, and even intimidate a willing-to-be-intimidated MSM, but reminding everyone else of her most obvious faults is a questionable tactic. Still, Mrs. Bill is running on the platform that she possesses a vagina, so her supporters may think labelling any criticism as sexism can reproduce last cycle's successful use of racism. If you can claim the word "Chicago" is racist when applied to Barack Obama, I suppose you can say "Benghazi" is sexist when applied to Mrs. Bill.

I predict the Word Politsiya at HRC Super Volunteers are going to have their hands full. The list begs for expansion, until the only word you can use besides Mrs. Bill’s name is “is.” IIRC, “bossy” was banned some time ago. But how did “uppity*,” “shifty,” “sleazy,” “screechy,” “greedy,” “phony” and “squawk” not make the list? You could make a revised version of ‘Snow White’ using those as names for the supporting players, or use them to name your email servers.

This is being reported as a serious story by the NYT, WaPO, HuffPo, CBS and Fox, among others. Hard to believe, but the progressive obsession with identity politics has been pushing the envelope for some time.

Update. Mar-29 11:20AM

*As the New Yorker described Ted Cruz:
To many Americans, he is the uppity loudmouth who, in the fall of 2013, less than a year into his first term as a senator, helped bring the federal government to a halt.

Update. Mar-31 8:22AM had to change the title.

Poking through ashes in the Burn-bag

The House Select Committee on Benghazi subpoenaed all SecState Hillary Clinton’s emails related to Libya. After obtaining a two-week extension, Clinton attorney David Kendall responded by letter:
There is no basis to support the proposed third-party review of the server that hosted the hdr22@clintonemail.com account. To avoid prolonging a discussion that would be academic, I have confirmed with the secretary’s IT support that no emails…..for the time period January 21, 2009 through February 1, 2013 reside on the server or on any back-up systems associated with the server.
The top Democrat on the Benghazi panel, Elijah Cummings, said Kendall's letter confirmed
[W]hat we all knew: that Secretary Clinton already produced her official records to the State Department, that she did not keep her personal emails and that the Select Committee has already obtained her emails relating to the attacks in Benghazi.
A comparable scenario would be if Nixon had burned the tapes. Oh, and after he knew they would be considered evidence.

Presumably, Representative Cummings would have taken Nixon's word for it that transcripts of all relevant evidence had already been turned over.

Now I know what Mrs. Bill meant when she said, "There is no classified email."

Thursday, March 26, 2015

NO! Proposal One

RightMI.com is your ‘go to’ site for Proposal 1 information: More Info On Proposal One. Share that link.

For your convenience, I've followed some links from that post and you'll find them below. I recommend checking the full analyses (fifteen minutes or so each), but I've included some shorter references (a couple of minutes) for the time challenged. This is a Constitutional Amendment, people: Understanding the detail is important.

First, from The Mackinac Center, Proposal 1 of 2015: An Analysis. The synopsis.

The full analysis, from which I quote:
Road construction in Michigan is primarily paid for with revenues from fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees. Since these taxes are paid by people driving vehicles on public roads, they function as a user fee.

Taxes motorists pay do not meet the strict definition of user fees, however. Vehicle registration taxes for passenger vehicles, for example, are based on their value rather than their estimated wear on the roads. Further, hybrid and electric cars tend to be heavier and thus cause more wear on the roads, but owners of these vehicles buy less fuel and pay less in fuel taxes.
That does not mean drivers of electric/hybrid vehicles get away free. Remember, this isn't about fixing the roads, it's about modifying the Constitution to increase taxes. What do you think will happen as we continue to reduce our use of taxable fuel? A tax on miles driven, perhaps? Or, increases in registration fees for electric/hybrids:
Proposal 1 would create higher registration fees for electric vehicles and electric-powered hybrids. Owners of these vehicles would pay an additional $75 on their annual registration fees for vehicles under 8,000 pounds and $200 more for vehicles over 8,000 pounds. This applies to vehicles that are “of a brand or has been modified to be powered solely or predominately by electricity under normal average class operating conditions.”
I also commend to your attention a report by the Citizens Research Council of Michigan: Statewide Ballot Issue: Proposal 15-1. Synopsis here.

Full analysis here:
As part of the final agreement, the Legislature intended to earmark a portion of the new revenues generated in FY2016 and FY2017 from the motor fuel tax increases towards paying down current State Trunkline Fund debt tied to past state road building initiatives. The package is estimated to generate just over $1.2 billion during these first two fiscal years from the motor fuel tax increases. Legislative intent was to allocate $400 million in FY2016 and $800 million in FY2017 of the new tax revenue for distribution through the state’s transportation funding formula, most of which would go to state and local road agencies. The remainder (roughly $860 million in FY2016 and $460 million in FY2017) would go to pay down state road debt.

However, the language included in Public Act 468 of 2014 to effectuate this earmark appears to be flawed. The language specifies that “the first $400,000,000.00 received and collected under this act” in FY2016 and “the first $800,000,000.00 received and collected under this act” in FY2017 would be distributed through the state funding formula. But, revenue “received and collected under this act” includes not only the new revenue from the recent legislative changes, but all existing revenue as well. As such, a literal reading of the language would suggest, for instance, that around $1.7 billion (the $800 million intended earmark plus current baseline fuel tax revenue of around $900 million) would be earmarked for debt reduction in FY2016.a Under that reading, FY2016 funding available for formula distribution would actually go down by around $500 million from current levels.
Demonstrating what happens when you write a bill hurriedly and don't have time to read it before voting.

For those who prefer video, CRC has a Webinar (a little over an hour) on Prop 1-15. This expands on the history of the Michigan Constitutional limitations which brought the legislature to propose a Constitutional Amendment, and why that just places increased future constraint on the Legislature. They'll be forced to live with what they created, and they may not find that congenial to addressing future funding issues. For example, they are removing $204 million in funding from state universities - do you think that will stand, or will they come back for more taxes when UofM and MSU complain they're out of money?

Again, thanks to RightMI.com.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

NO! to increased taxes


Put another way that's a 2 Billion dollar tax increase. The good news is, you can say "No!" on May 5th.

Meanwhile, ads for a "Yes" vote on Proposition 1 are increasing in frequency and hysteria. The public/pirate partnership is telling us we can have either this tax increase or killer roads. This is a false choice. We can have good roads without a 2 billion dollar tax increase. The Michigan House of Representatives even produced such a bill, but it got waylaid in the Michigan Senate.

You can tell something about Proposition 1 from the company it keeps. Unions (here, here) & government are in favor, as are road contractors & Chambers of Commerce (here, here, here). Parties with a vested interest will promote their own welfare by trying to convince you they have your interests at heart. In this case, I don't think the Venn diagram would show a large overlap.

It is interesting that at the state level, the Chamber of Commerce is officially neutral on the question (though James Holcomb, a senior VP of the Michigan Chamber, favors it). Perhaps this is because of a report they commissioned from the Anderson Economic Group LLC, which says, in part:
[T]he issues [with Prop 1-15] include all of the following:
• an increase in the general sales and use tax rates on retail purchases from 6% to 7%;
• a $1.69 billion increase in spending by state and local governments in Michigan, including: an increase in funding for roads, on the order of $1.2 billion per year; for the K-12 system, on the order of $300 million per year; and for local government revenue sharing, on the order of $100 million per year; plus smaller amounts for other purposes;
• a significant weakening of the extent to which road users “pay for” the roads without reliance on other taxpayers;
• an increase in the tax burden on businesses and their retail customers;
• substitution of a cents-per-dollar wholesale tax on fuel used for road-going vehicles, for the current retail tax that is set at a particular cents-per-gallon rate; resulting in a substantial increase in the effective tax burden per gallon and an increase that grows over time;
• increasing registration taxes and causing them to remain the same in succeeding years as in the year of purchase, regardless of the age or value of the vehicle;
• a partial restoration of the Michigan earned income tax credit (MEITC); and
• removal of universities as a constitutionally-allowed use of school aid funds; an implied change in the definition of higher education; and a new authorization to use school aid funds for public “community” and “technical” colleges, scholarships, and related programs.
Additional issues, some of which were undoubtedly unknown to legislators voting on the bills late in the lame duck session, include:
• widely varying tax burdens on fuel users, as certain users will pay both the new, higher motor fuel tax but will not benefit from the motor fuel sales tax exemption;
• serious compliance burdens and enforcement risks for users of fuel for boating, industrial, and other purposes other than driving vehicles on public roads;
• likely federal income tax increase among approximately 1.2 million Michigan households that itemize deductions for state and local property taxes;
• increases in taxes paid by working-poor and working-class households who do not claim the EITC;
• possible infringement of federal nondiscrimination laws regarding state-supported scholarships, should the state use the newly-created authorization to fund “scholarships”
only to “public” community colleges;3
• problems caused by significant increase in the registration tax on older vehicles, including some drivers paying more for this tax than the value of the vehicle; and
• the consequences of requiring the state to commission an “adequacy of funding” study for the K-12 system, which may encourage future lawsuits.
One takeaway: You have to pass it to find out what's in it.

If you are still wondering about the wisdom of voting against increasing your taxes when you're being lied to about the redistribution use of the funds, I offer the following items as worth reading:

Vote yes or you all will D-I-E!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Remember folks, Prop 1 is a $2,000,000,000 hike with annual tax hike ratchet mechanism on fuel with a whole lotta public sector union payola (everywhere) and fraud embedded into it.
Just Vote Yes, Willya?
So, about three weeks ago, Safe Roads YES! launched their radio and television ad campaign, designed to convince us that jacking up our per-person state tax-and-fee burden by roughly $248.12 – permanently (not including inflation adjustments to the wholesale fuel tax) – is a good idea. To do so, they’re using the standard tactics of bogus statistics and emotional appeals, praying that the typical low-information voter isn’t going to do even the basic homework into the legislative piece of sausage that the GoverNerd and his hodge-podge of allies are doing their damnedest to slide by us roughly six weeks from now.
Taxpayer Cost for Road Fix 'Compromise' Went from $0 to $1.9 Billion
According to the House Fiscal Agency, $300 million of the tax increase will go to public schools, $95 million to local government revenue sharing and an additional $130 million in subsidies to local bus agencies. Another $260 million will be used for payments to low-income wage earners, a concession added to get votes from Democratic lawmakers, said Jack McHugh, legislative policy analyst for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

However, there’s a catch: The deal also includes an increase in the state sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent, which must be approved by voters May 5, 2015. If voters say "no" then none of the above will go into effect. Lawmakers will have to start over.
$700 million of it has NOTHING TO DO with roads.

Finally, just how bad are the roads? Apparently, not nearly as bad as MDOT would have you believe, since they base their analysis on self interested subjective criteria and downplay objective metrics. That is, "government entities which stand to directly benefit" from the revenue that would be generated by approval of Proposition 1, find that passing Proposition 1 would be a good idea.

Michigan Roads – How Bad?
Cumulatively, the politically useful PASER pavement rating methodology finds Michigan’s State Trunkline road system to be in far worse condition than the DI / RSL methodology that MDoT actually uses to prioritize road work. A logistic regression – MDoT’s preferred analytical tool – shows that there is a statistically significant variance between the methodologies as they are applied to the State Trunkline system. Either the PASER or the DI / RSL methodology is not properly evaluating Michigan pavement conditions.

Most civil engineers consider RSL to be the ‘gold standard’ of pavement condition evaluation, so PASER ratings, as performed for TAMC, are likely wrong. Should you be inclined to think that the PASER evaluations better represent the condition of Michigan’s roads, ask yourself why MDoT and all the other State DoT’s do not use PASER evaluations to prioritize road work. You would also have to ask yourself why the other instrumented pavement rating methodology, FHWA’s IRI, shows Michigan’s State Trunkline roads to be in even better condition than the DI / RSL methodology...

It only takes a quick look at the charts above to realize that there is something quite wrong with the TAMC PASER road ratings being touted by Proposal 2015-01 supporters. Michigan’s mainstream media are regurgitating these politically useful PASER data as authoritative without any further analysis, so many voters in Michigan are being deceived. Deceit seems to be the modus operandi of Proposal 2015-01 proponents. It is long past time to clear the air by conducting DI / RSL evaluations of non federal aid-eligible roads in Michigan. Then we can discuss a time-limited plan to remediate Michigan’s roads.
Indeed.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The wind in Maine blows mainly into Spain

Job creation, EPA style.
PORTLAND, Maine — The corporate subsidy watchdog agency Good Jobs First found Central Maine Power Co. parent company Iberdrola topped the list of all recipients of federal grants and tax credits, primarily in tax credits for its renewable energy developments.

Energy companies generally topped the list of grants, as the review by Good Jobs First included tax credits wind power companies can receive for each unit of electricity they produce...

John Carroll, spokesman for Iberdrola U.S.A., said that the $2.2 billion in federal grants and tax credits came to the company primarily through the massive American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Iberdrola is a Spanish company. TWT here.

Warren Buffett, of course, is also aware of this windfall
"I will do anything that is basically covered by the law to reduce Berkshire's tax rate," he said. "For example, on wind energy, we get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That's the only reason to build them. They don't make sense without the tax credit."
To a capitalist, then, they don't make sense. Period.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

#HDR22 - it depends on the meaning of "classified"

Not quite a year ago, State Department mouthpiece Jen Psaki was unable to name a single accomplishment by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton,
"I am certain that those who were here at the time, who worked hard on that effort, could point out one," Psaki responded...

Later, the State Department provided a list of seven changes resulting from the 2010 audit. They included the reorganization and creation of undersecretary positions and the establishment of three bureaus aimed at countering terrorism, promoting American energy interests and helping civilian leaders of the agency prevent conflict and violence.
This constitutes the foreign policy legacy of the smartest woman on earth? A sad comment on our foreign policy, women, or both. OTOH, if the Department of State had been awake and enforcing the Official Records Act known, they could have added, "Built her own email server for official business."

But the most incredible achievement was not revealed until yesterday's press conference (emphasis mine),

QUESTION: Were you ever -- were you ever specifically briefed on the security implications of using -- using your own email server and using your personal address to email with the president?

CLINTON: I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. There is no classified material.
A prodigious feat. In four years as US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton never sent or received a classified email.

How the hell do you manage that? By not doing your job (as Psaki's inability to name any accomplishments suggests)? By controlling the definition of what is classified? By deleting 30,000 of the emails and declaring the server off-limits?

We do know (thanks to the hacker Guccifer) that among the emails she deleted (they are reportedly not included in the 55,000 printed pages Mrs. Clinton sent to the Department of State) are some from Sid Blumenthal with annotations like “THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION COMES FROM EXTREMELY SENSITIVE SOURCES AND SHOULD BE HANDLED WITH CARE.”

These are not classified materials because Mrs. Clinton chose not to classify them (the State Department didn't even know about them). She could surely have made them so under classification categories 1.4(b) foreign government information, 1.4(c) intelligence activities, sources, or methods, or cryptology, or 1.4(d) foreign relations or foreign activities of the United States, including confidential sources.

Mrs. Clinton assures us that the deleted emails "... have nothing to do with work [as SecState], but I didn't see any reason to keep them." Now, even if we ignore the fact that "having nothing to do with work," is categorically not the same as ""There is no classified material," one must wonder how many of the deleted emails referenced contributions to the Clinton Foundation from Middle Eastern despots looking for political leverage. If the correspondents kept their copies, they've got real leverage now.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Two by Steyn

The Field Where Liberty Was Sown
The 800th anniversary of Magna Carta Liberatum.

and

Basic Cable
An inquiry into State secrets.

Oh, while you're there, I recommend picking up a copy of Steyn’s latest book - The [Un]documented Mark Steyn - or any other item that strikes your fancy in the Steyn Store.

Pre-ordering Climate Change: The Facts is another option: Mark still needs our help in the Michael "Fraudpants" Mann trial.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Corporate Whore in Chief

The Sage of Omaha Emerges Over 50 Years As Sometimes Clueless

Read that link, but... It's a lot worse than clueless: Warren Buffet is rich because he figured out a long time ago how to take advantage of regulation and subsidy. Buffet sits atop a Ponzi scheme in the same sense as did Bernie Madoff, except Madoff had the moral decency to practice his art directly on his victims, rather than co-opting the monopolist use of force to steal from everybody.

And unlike Buffett, Madoff didn't brag about his thievery while endlessly claiming his victims don’t pay enough in taxes.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

#hdr22

Today, General David Petraeus pled guilty to “mishandling classified materials,” because he showed some to his mistress.

He could get a year in prison.

Contemporaneously, we discover Secretary of State Hillary Clinton trafficked in classified material for four years, using an unencrypted private email account - hdr22@clintonemail.com - to conduct the business of the Department of State.

She plans to be President of the United States.

I know who should be facing more than a year in prison, but that's not even on the table. The question for hdr22 is whether it will damage her presidential aspirations. We've gone from "a slip of the lip could sink a ship" to "a careless domain could wreck your campaign."

The discrepancy shows Americans are conflicted about the accountability of our senior officials. We get confused about whether exposing mega-reams of classified material to hackers is worse than exposing ourselves to our biographers. We suspect there's a difference between conducting foreign policy and screwing fellow Americans. But then, here's Hillary, for whom there isn't.

Secretary of State Clinton was able to hide her knowledge of the Benghazi massacre from Congressional oversight because she sequestered it in an email account designed to avoid any US government supervision or tracking.

Memos sent to Secretary of State Clinton’s personal (one can no longer say ‘private’) email account include titles like “Comprehensive Intel Report on Libya,” and warnings that, “THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION COMES FROM EXTREMELY SENSITIVE SOURCES AND SHOULD BE HANDLED WITH CARE.”

The memos include notes on the intelligence sources, such as: “Sources with access to the highest levels of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the leadership of the Armed Forces, and Western Intelligence, diplomatic, and security services.”

Neither Lois Lerner nor Valerie Plame could be reached for comment.