Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Podhoretz on class bias against Palin; C-Span viewers weigh in

Norman Podhoretz's Wall Street Journal op-ed from yesterday, "In Defense of Sarah Palin", takes on the "conservative intellectuals" who seem to believe that Sarah Palin is anathema to the Republican Party, that she is not qualified (for anything, apparently), etc.  Some, like David Brooks, David Frum, Kathleen Parker, and so forth, have been dead-set against her from the moment John McCain announced her name as his running mate in 2008.  But while Mr. Podhoretz is quick to state that Sarah Palin is no Ronald Reagan, the 40th President clearly had his share of detractors within the Republicans, and for similar reasons.

As Mr. Podhoretz relates:

31 years ago, when I first announced that I was supporting Reagan in his bid for the 1980 Republican presidential nomination, I was routinely asked by friends on the right how I could possibly associate myself with this "airhead," this B movie star, who was not only stupid but incompetent. They readily acknowledged that his political views were on the whole close to ours, but the embarrassing primitivism with which he expressed them only served, they said, to undermine their credibility. In any case, his base was so narrow that he had no chance of rescuing us from the disastrous administration of Jimmy Carter.

Does that sound like anyone in the conservative movement these days?  You can guess my answer to that question. 

And what, then, is causing this intense dislike of all things Palin from many conservative intellectuals?  Mr. Podhoretz attributes it not to policy but to class bias, stating that most of the intellectuals in the party may have said they adhered to William F. Buckley's famous statement, when their true views were exactly the opposite:

When William F. Buckley Jr., then the editor of National Review, famously quipped that he would rather be ruled by the first 2,000 names in the Boston phone book than by the combined faculties of Harvard and MIT, most conservative intellectuals responded with a gleeful amen. But put to the test by the advent of Sarah Palin, along with the populist upsurge represented by the Tea Party movement, they have demonstrated that they never really meant it.

Much credit must be given, finally, to Mr. Podhoretz's recognition of the most biting satire of conservative intellectuals I have seen in quite a while, that of the blogger known as "Iowahawk".  (Less credit, though, goes to the WSJ for shamefully not including a link to Iowahawk's site.)  His creation, Mr. T. Coddington Van Voorhees VII, does a great job of illustrating the absurd drifting of the conservative elites over to the Obama camp in late 2008, and their continued, if wavering, allegiance to President Obama now.  (Iowahawk hints, ever so tantalizingly, that T. Coddington Van Voorhees VII may make a return appearance later this week.  This blog will post a link if he does appear.)

Mr. Podhoretz's column, which ran in yesterday's Journal, also inspired the folks at C-Span to ask their "Washington Journal" viewers whether they saw such a class bias against Mrs. Palin.  The entire segment appears below, and while it may not be very helpful in answering the question, I saw it as rather enlightening.

As can be seen from the 43-minute video, there are a lot of people who have made up their minds about Sarah Palin, and nothing seems to be able to change them.  I heard a lot of "she quit" arguments, especially.  (For those just joining this blog, I spoke to the "she's a quitter" arguments here.  The short version:  she's not.) 

And what else did I learn?  Apparently people like to prank call C-Span.  (Such people need a life, and quickly.)  Others like to call when the program clearly states "conservatives only", when they clearly aren't.  (When was the last time you heard a conservative refer to the "teabag movement"?  I'll give you a hint:  never.  And darn it, I wanted never to have to refer to that stupid term on this blog again.  Thanks loads, fake conservative C-Span viewer.)

Of course, all of this adds to the fact that Sarah Palin is a polarizing figure.  I've said that here before, so this isn't a big revelation for me.  It does show me, though, that a lot of people will not be swayed by facts from seeing exactly what they want to see in others.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sarah Palin addresses the eeeeeevil of incendiary language

(Note:  if you have come here looking for information tying Sarah Palin to the Tucson massacre of 8 January 2011, please continue to this link.)

Sarah Palin, as only she can, light-heartedly knocks the "Palin used incendiary language" argument (you know, the one about which I wrote at great length the other day) right on its ear with a Facebook post about, of all things, March Madness:

March Madness battles rage! My family and I join millions of Americans enjoying college basketball’s finest through March Madness. Underdogs always get my vote as we watch intense competition bring out the best in these accomplished teams.

The Final Four is an intense, contested series (kind of like a heated, competitive primary election), so best of luck to all teams, and watch for this principle lived out: the team that wins is the team that wants it more.

To the teams that desire making it this far next year: Gear up! In the battle, set your sights on next season’s targets! From the shot across the bow – the first second’s tip-off – your leaders will be in the enemy’s crosshairs, so you must execute strong defensive tactics. You won’t win only playing defense, so get on offense! The crossfire is intense, so penetrate through enemy territory by bombing through the press, and use your strong weapons – your Big Guns – to drive to the hole. Shoot with accuracy; aim high and remember it takes blood, sweat and tears to win.

Focus on the goal and fight for it. If the gate is closed, go over the fence. If the fence is too high, pole vault in. If that doesn’t work, parachute in. If the other side tries to push back, your attitude should be “go for it.” Get in their faces and argue with them. (Sound familiar?!) Every possession is a battle; you’ll only win the war if you’ve picked your battles wisely. No matter how tough it gets, never retreat, instead RELOAD!

- Sarah Palin

Of course, I'm sure that the people in the media with nothing better to do, such as, for example, the entire lineup of MSNBC, will spend hours wailing about such imagery as a group of volunteers beset by bulldogs,to say nothing about mountaineers being attacked by (gasp!) blue devils.  The horror!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Dem leaders must immediately denounce the encouraging of violence against Republicans

Yesterday, I spotlighted what appears to me, at least, to be a coordinated attempt to paint conservatives, and the Tea Party movement in particular, as racist violent crazy people next to the saintly Democrats, who have braved heretofore unseen acts and threats of violence.*  Apparently this meme is going to fall apart fairly quickly, based on this latest story I've seen.

Courtesy Patrick S. Adams:  Just like I said yesterday, there are crazies on both sides sending all sorts of hate out.  Today's case in point is this guy (this account was functional as of this writing, but I hope it's suspended soon!) who has expressed the wish, multiple times, in as rude a way as possible (that's code for "this link is NSFW"), that someone will kill Sarah Palin, Eric Cantor, or other Tea Party members. 

Typical tweet from this guy (edited, naturally, though the spelling and grammar is as written):

IS Sarah Palin still alive, please feel free 2 domecheck that b****! she will look good in tha box the TP left on someones lawn

(But Snowed, this guy is an isolated case!  Yeah, so are Mike Vanderboegh and his ilk.)

I hereby call on all state and national Democratic leaders to denounce this irresponsible encouraging of violence by hyper-partisan liberal Democrats immediately, if not sooner.

You can follow Patrick S. Adams (aka ReaganTMan) on Twitter here.

* I stand by my disclaimer of yesterday:  anyone wishing violence on others, or carrying out such acts, does not represent my views and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  Plus, they're being real jerks.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

"Sarah Palin's Alaska"...coming soon to TLC

Following up on Tuesday's post:

It appears that "Sarah Palin's Alaska" is a go and will be aired as a eight-part series on TLC.  The New York Post has the details.  (Sadly, the Post also seems to have ankle-biting commenters.)

Further news regarding Governor Palin from the Post:

Earlier this month, publisher HarperCollins said Palin was working on a new book about American virtues and strengths.

We're all racist thugs now

Almost since the moment Obamacare passed the House on Sunday night, the predominant narrative in the MSM has been how eeeeeevil those awful Tea Partiers are.  I mean, from the way the news has been presented, everyone opposed to the healthcare bill hates blacks and gays (and enjoys using really nasty slurs against such groups publicly) and wants to kill all Democrats.  And, of course, it's all the fault of the usual subjects.

What was the big story on Monday?  (Yes, I mean other than the passage of H.R. 3590.)  Why, those Tea Partiers yelled the N-word at a black congressman!  Oh, wait, they didn't?  But someone heard it!  They wouldn't make that up, would they?  Well, multiple people were taking videos of this little setup, possibly in the hopes that someone would say something damning.  And yet, I have yet to see a video in which you can clearly hear someone shouting an epithet.  Yes, I'm aware that people commenting on the following video elsewhere are hearing what they want to hear, but there are no epithets clear enough to distinguish without question.  Watch it for yourself and decide:

In the same WaPo article as linked above, Barney Frank (D-MA) claimed to have been the object of anti-gay epithets.  No video exists of this.  None.  There were something like--and keep in mind this is an estimate--eleventy zillion people in and around the Capitol on Sunday, including, one would suspect, the media, and no one got video of this?  It seems suspect to me.

In any case, many media sources are reporting these epithets having been shouted as fact.  Fine.  Whatever.  The part that really riles me is that some in the MSM are using incidents which--if they even occurred--were totally isolated incidents to try to paint all people opposed to Obamacare as racists.  MSNBC ideologue Keith Olbermann, for example, went so far as to say (per Hot Air, since I'm not linking to Olby), "If racism is not the whole of the Tea Party, it is in its heart, along with blind hatred, a total disinterest in the welfare of others..."

(Aside:  Keith Olbermann, in trying to paint a caricature of Tea Partiers, is apparently unaware that he himself has become little more than a caricature himself.)

So, the first truth of this week in the MSM is:  Tea Partiers, Republicans, conservatives, and you--yes, YOU--are all racists.  (More on your status as a racist from Jim Treacher may be found here.)

(Obvious disclaimer:  If, in fact, someone was yelling epithets at people, then they are (words not acceptable for publication edited).)

But after all the portraying of anti-Obamacare types as racists, there was more stereotyping left to be undertaken by the MSM.  You've probably heard about bricks being thrown through Democrat office windows.

Well, they were.  This wasn't made up.  Some people think so little of their opponents that they resort to this type of reprehensible behavior.  Democrats, Republicans, and Tea Party organizers have all condemned these actions. 

And who is encouraging these attacks?  It's the Republican Party leaders, right?  No, it's not.  It's some guy whose name I had never heard before yesterday named Mike Vanderboegh.  I'm not linking to his blog, as he's already crowing about his "enemies" sending him traffic, but I will link to this article in which he boasts about the damage his comments have caused.  (If you want to pursue the same strategies as Mr. Vanderboegh, please leave this blog now.  In fact, turn off your computer and please try to reground yourself in real life.  Kthxbye.)

I have no problem with these attacks being reported by the MSM.  They should be reported.  What bugs me is that two narratives have appeared:  1) only these saintly Democrats are the ones who are ever oppressed in such an egregious way; and 2) it's the leaders of the Republican Party that are inciting this.  (The Republicans have leaders?  Who knew?)

Let's start with a really easy item to refute.  Of course both sides have their extremists who advocate violence.

For example, courtesy Big Government, here is a typical Democrat extremist embracing this sort of violent talk:

Obama’s critics keep blasting him for Chicago-style politics. So, fine. Channel your inner Al Capone and go gangsta against your foes. Let ‘em know that if they aren’t with you, they are against you, and will pay the price.

That would be taken from...CNN.  ("This is CNN...conservatives can go take a flying leap.")

Here's another:

You’ve given it your best shot, you’ve tried numerous times to talk with the Republicans, to negotiate, to meet them halfway on every single matter before the American people. But they hate you for many reasons. It’s time you break kneecaps (bold in original). It’s time to destroy the Republican Party. They don’t deserve a seat at the table when all they want to do is score political points by being the Party of No.

And that would be from the Huffington Post.  (I refuse to link to the Huffington Post; go back to Big Government if you want the link.)

As I said, it's now pretty much accepted as fact by the MSM that Republicans, in stating their anger with the way the Obamacare bill was forced through, are actively encouraging this week's violent offenders who are vandalizing offices, making threatening phone calls, and so forth.

A common theme in this, in addition to the usual suspects (Rush et al), has been the referencing of so-called "incindiary language" by Sarah Palin.  All these stories refer to a particular tweet, which said:

Commonsense Conservatives & lovers of America: "Don't Retreat, Instead - RELOAD!" Pls see my Facebook page.

Does anyone with half a modicum of rational thought really believe that Mrs. Palin is referring to reloading actual rifles and such?  Of course she isn't (though the aforementioned Mr. Vanderboegh sure is).  I would hope that the regular readers of this blog, including some who don't care much for the policies of Mrs. Palin, can distinguish the true meaning of what she said.

And if one were to continue to her Facebook page, one would find the same post previously mentioned in this space.  Does it have to do with targeting Democrats?  You betcha.  Of course, it's talking about targeting them for defeat, not violence.

(But Snowed, she had a map with crosshair symbols!  Yeah, she's targeting them for defeat.  I believe I just said that.  What did you want her to use, little pink hearts?  Maybe fluffy white clouds?)

This whole narrative is yet another attempt to paint Sarah Palin as an extremist who only appeals to people who like to throw bricks, or something like that.  It's not going to work.

Watch, for example, how NBC's Ann Curry tries to maneuver Sen. John McCain into condemning Gov. Palin for her language.  And watch, too, how Sen. McCain deftly deflects criticism of his former running mate.  I may not agree with Sen. McCain on everything, but he did a great job defending Sarah Palin's remarks here.

You can see more coverage of this interview over at NewsBusters.

Incidentally, one Democrat extremist once expressed a wish to "kick [Sarah Palin's] [edited]".  Who's advocating violence again?

But never mind that, it's all about making Tea Partiers, Obamacare opponents, and Sarah Palin look as bad as possible.

For further reading on the continued smearing of Sarah Palin, please check out "Lying Liberals Target Governor Palin" by Adrienne Ross, who's been mentioned in this blog before, I believe.  Well worth the read.

Incidentally, I'm curious as to what sort of reception this article will get at the Austin Post, where I tend to cross-post some of my blog articles.  The last article I posted was edited to remove the term "Obamacare", so I'm not sure this one will even make it onto the site, and if it does, I imagine I'll get a few negative votes for it.  Such is the price for being conservative in Austin, Texas, I suppose.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Timeline of Obamacare

You may want to print this entry for reference.  Or, just come back to it often.*

Per The Hill, the National Federation of Independent Business has prepared a timeline of when the many different provisions of H.R. 3590 (the bill signed by President Obama yesterday) go into effect.  This has been done to argue against the reconciliation fixes currently under (limited) debate by the Senate (H.R. 4872).

The release, in its entirety, follows:

The healthcare bill passed by the Senate and House will go into effect over a number of years. In 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013, most of the bill’s provisions involve new taxes and obligations. For the most part, the healthcare system changes begin in 2014, with some aspects of implementation farther in the future. Below is a timeline of some of the major provisions of this bill.
For more information on these provisions, please visit The Kaiser Family Foundation.

This timeline reflects only the Senate bill signed into law on March 23. Now, the Senate is considering a Reconciliation Bill (H.R. 4872) which, if passed, will alter the details of these provisions. We oppose the Reconciliation Bill because in many ways, it takes a bad bill (H.R. 3590) and makes it worse.

§         Small business health tax credit: This will do little to nothing to help small firms afford insurance. The credit is very restrictive and puts small business owners through a series of complicated tests to determine the actual amount of the credit. (1) Very few small firms will receive the full credit (only firms with 10 employees or less). For firms with 11-25 employees, the credit is reduced per employee. Firms with more than 25 employees get NO credit. (2) Only firms who pay their workers $25,000 or less are eligible for the full credit. The credit is reduced as the average wage goes up, stopping at $50,000. The credit is only available for a maximum of five years.
§         Brand-name drug tax: Manufacturers and importers of brand-name drugs will pay a tax of $2.3 billion. This cost will be passed on to consumers.
§         Age 26: Children may stay on their parents’ policies until age 26.

§         W-2 reporting: Employers will be required to report employees’ health benefits on W-2s.
§         HSA & FSA limits: Consumers can no longer use HSAs and FSAs to purchase certain items, including most over-the-counter medication prescribed by physicians.
§         HSA penalty: The penalty for making non-qualified purchases with an HSA increases to 20%.
§         FSA limits: Cafeteria plan FSAs will be limited to $2,500 (inflation adjusted after 2011.)
§         Medicare cuts: Physicians’ Medicare reimbursement will be cut substantially unless Congress enacts the so-called “doc-fix” to restore their payment levels.
§         Medical device tax: Manufacturers and importers of certain medical devices will be taxed $2 billion per year (for 2011-2017) and then $3 billion per year thereafter. These costs will ultimately fall on the consumer.
§         Small business health insurance tax: An annual fee on health insurance providers will be passed on to consumers. This tax will fall on the vast majority of plans that small businesses purchase, but not on self-insured plans (such as most big business and labor union policies). The amounts are $2 billion for 2011, $4 billion for 2012, $7 billion for 2013, and $9 billion per year for 2014 through 2016, $10 billion thereafter, with certain exceptions.
§         Tanning salon tax: A 10% excise tax on indoor tanning services begins.
§         Federally subsidized long-term care: Voluntary payroll deductions begin for the CLASS long-term care program. All working adults will be automatically enrolled unless they choose to opt out. This program will almost certainly cost the federal government far more than what the payroll deductions will cover. So this entitlement is yet another unfunded liability to add to federal deficits for decades to come.

§         1099 reporting: Businesses will have to complete 1099 forms for every business-to-business transaction of $600 or more – a tremendous new paperwork burden for small business.

§         Cadillac tax: The government will collect a so-called “Cadillac Tax” – a 40% excise tax on health coverage in excess of $8,500 annually for an individual or $23,000 annually per family. This tax is inadequately indexed for medical inflation, so as healthcare costs rise, more and more people will be swept into this tax each year. This is similar to the alternative minimum tax – designed to hit the “rich” but reaching farther and farther into the middle class each year.
§         Fewer deductible medical expenses: New limits are placed on the deductibility of medical expenses on individual income tax returns. This provision raises the 7.5% AGI floor on medical expenses deductions to 10%. The AGI floor for those 65 and older (and their spouses) remains at 7.5% through 2016. 
§         Medicare payroll taxes: The Medicare payroll tax on wages and self-employment income in excess of $200,000 ($250,000 joint) will increase to 2.35% and is not indexed to inflation. This tax marks the first time that funds designated for Medicare will be diverted elsewhere – specifically to pay for the insurance policies of people under the Medicare age. This establishes a precedent for treating the payroll tax as a  revenue raiser for other purposes.

§         Health insurance exchanges: Up until 2014, the bill collects a great deal of taxes but does little to change healthcare. In 2014, that begins to change with the opening of insurance exchanges.
§         Premium credits: The federal government begins subsidizing individuals up to 400% of the federal poverty line – around $88,000 today. These credits will subsidize individuals purchasing insurance in exchanges, but not those with traditional employer-sponsored plans. 
§         Medicaid eligibility expands: The income level for Medicaid eligibility rises, bringing tens of millions of new people into Medicaid. This Medicaid expansion will account for around half of the total increase in insurance coverage and will place considerable new financial pressure on states, with higher taxes a likely response.
§         Medicare cost-cutting: Beginning in 2014, Medicare must begin recommending ways to cut costs in the provision of care.
§         Benefits package: Federal government defines essential benefits package. All policies must comply.
§         Individual mandate: Starting in 2014, all U.S. citizens and legal residents must have qualifying health coverage or pay penalties. For an individual, the penalty begins in 2014 at the greater of $95 or 0.5% of household income. In 2015, it grows to $495 or 1.0%. In 2016, it reaches $750 or 2%. (For families, the figure will be $2,250.) After 2016, the amount will rise by a cost-of-living adjustment.
§         Employer mandate: The bill contains a complex employer mandate requiring some firms to provide insurance, pay penalties or both. The penalties are based on (1) the number of full-time employees, (2) whether or not the firm offers coverage, and (3) whether or not one or more employees qualify for government subsidies toward the purchase of health insurance. An employee qualifies for a subsidy if his or her household income is below 400% of the federal poverty line ($88,000 for an individual today). Here are some of the rules:
o        More than 50 full-time employees. Does not offer insurance. Has one or more employees receiving premium subsidies. Penalty = $750 per employee.
o        More than 50 full-time employees. Offers insurance. Has one or more employees receiving premium subsidies. Penalty = lesser of $3,000 per subsidized employee or $750 per employee.
o        More than 50 full-time employees. Offers insurance. Has no employees receiving premium subsidies. No penalty.
o        50 or fewer full-time employees. No penalty.
There are extra penalties for firms who have a waiting period before employees are eligible for insurance.
§         Small construction company employer mandate: In all other industries, firms with 50 or fewer employees are exempt from the mandate. In the construction industry, the exemption only applies to firms with 5 or fewer employees. Consider a construction firm that does not provide insurance and which has seven employees and a payroll of $250,000. This firm will owe $5,250 (= 7 employees x $750). In addition, the law does not define what it means by “construction firm” and leaves that definition to regulators.

* In fact, I urge all my readers to visit this blog every day.  You are also welcome to use the tip jar located in the right column.  You should do that every day too.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

"Sarah Palin's Alaska"...coming soon to a TV near you

It appears that the documentary program "Sarah Palin's Alaska" (no, it is not a reality show about the Palin family, regardless of what multiple talking heads have said) will find a home on one of the Discovery Channel networks.  Discovery will reportedly be paying $1.2 million per episode for the show, a joint venture between Sarah Palin and Mark Burnett (producer of, among other things, a little program called "Survivor").

As reported by Cubachi, citing several sources:

This will be the most expensive documentary in network’s history. Yet, we all know Sarah Palin generates enough buzz to guarantee that Discovery Channel will have a ratings bonanza, unlike anything they’ve ever seen. The terms of the deal will be released within the next several days.
Variety’s Michael Schneider also reported that a deal with Discovery was expected soon and that earlier on Monday word came that A&E was no longer in the running leaving Discovery as the presumptive winner at a price of more than $1 million per episode…

The high-definition program will be shot in a style similar to “Life” and “Planet Earth” and will feature Palin acting as a guide to the Alaskan outdoors. When it was commissioned by the BBC at a cost of $25 million, the 11-part “Planet Earth” was considered the most expensive documentary the network had ever made.

Cubachi pretty much says what I'm thinking about this:

Sarah Palin is introducing herself and her state to the world in her own terms. Brava!

Hopefully the more open-minded people who would watch this might see that Sarah Palin is more than the caricature we're constantly being fed.  Plus, Alaska's a really pretty state deserving of more attention from the lower 48.

Sarah Palin on Obamacare Signing

Prominent Obamacare opponent Sarah Palin wasted no time following President Obama's signing ceremony for the Obamacare bill with her response, meant to bolster the hopes of those who believe, as I do, that this bill is a terrible thing for this country.  (See here for just a quick example of why I think this way.)

The first part of her comments:

With the president signing this unwanted and “transformative” government takeover of our health care system today with promises impossible to keep, let’s not get discouraged. Don’t get demoralized. Get organized!

We’re going to reclaim the power of the people from those who disregarded the will of the people. We’re going to fire them and send them back to the private sector, which has been shrinking thanks to their destructive government-growing policies. Maybe when they join the millions of unemployed, they’ll understand why Americans wanted them to focus on job creation and an invigorated private sector. Come November, we’re going to print pink slips for members of Congress as fast as they’ve been printing money.

Go here for the rest.

Monday, March 22, 2010

My Taxes Aren't Going Up - O RLY? Health Care edition

Now that the House has passed the Senate's health-care bill (H.R. 3590), let's revisit once again the idea, stated very clearly by President Obama, that your taxes won't go up if you make less than $250,000 a year.  Was that true?  Well, let's take a look at the bill, as analyzed by Americans for Tax Reform.  Per their analysis, there are "seven taxes that unquestionably violate Obama’s pledge".  And they are:

Individual Mandate Excise Tax (Page 324/Sec. 1501/Jan 2014*): Starting in 2014, anyone not buying “qualifying” health insurance must pay an income surtax according to the higher of the following (page 71 of manager’s amendment updates Reid bill):
2 People
3+ People
$495/0.5% AGI
$990/0.5% AGI
$495/1.0% AGI
$990/1.0% AGI
$495/2.0% AGI
$990/2.0% AGI
Exemptions for religious objectors, undocumented immigrants, prisoners, those earning less than the poverty line, members of Indian tribes, and hardship cases (determined by HHS).
Employer Mandate Tax (Page 348/Sec. 1513/Jan 2014*):  Small business owners pay their business taxes on their personal 1040 forms.  This tax does not exempt startup small business owners even if they make less than $250,000. If the employer does not offer health coverage, and at least one employee qualifies for a health tax credit, the employer must pay an additional non-deductible tax of $750 for all full-time employees.  Applies to all employers with 50 or more employees.

If the employer requires a waiting period to enroll in coverage of 30-60 days, there is a $400 tax per employee ($600 if the period is 60 days or longer).

Medicine Cabinet Tax (Page 1997/Sec. 9003/$5 bil/Jan 2011): Americans would no longer be able to use health savings account (HSA), flexible spending account (FSA), or health reimbursement (HRA) pre-tax dollars to purchase non-prescription, over-the-counter medicines (except insulin).

HSA Withdrawal Tax Hike (Page 1998/Sec. 9004/$1.3 bil/Jan 2011): Increases additional tax on non-medical early withdrawals from an HSA from 10 to 20 percent, disadvantaging them relative to IRAs and other tax-advantaged accounts, which remain at 10 percent.

Flexible Spending Account Cap – akaSpecial Needs Kids Tax” (Page 1999/Sec. 9005/$14 bil/Jan 2011): Imposes cap on FSAs of $2500 (now unlimited).  Indexed to inflation after 2011 (added on page 363 of manager’s amendment). There is one group of FSA owners for whom this new cap will be particularly cruel and onerous: parents of special needs children.  There are thousands of families with special needs children in the United States, and many of them use FSAs to pay for special needs education.  Tuition rates at one leading school that teaches special needs children in Washington, D.C. (National Child Research Center) can easily exceed $14,000 per year. Under tax rules, FSA dollars can be used to pay for this type of special needs education.

Medical Itemized Deductions Cap (Page 2034/Sec. 9013/$15.2 bil/Jan 2013): Currently, those facing high medical expenses are allowed a deduction if the total cost of the expenses reduces the filer’s income by 7.5%. The new provision would impose a threshold of 10%. This new tax will most adversely affect early retirees and the catastrophically ill. Waived for 65+ taxpayers in 2013-2016 only.

Tax on Indoor Tanning Services (Page 373 of Manager’s amendment/$2.7 billion/July 1, 2010): New 10% excise tax on Americans using indoor tanning salons

It just blows me away that a Facebook friend just praised President Obama for keeping his promises.  If these seven taxes do not totally represent the breaking of a fundamental campaign promise to the American people, I don't know what does.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Want to know more about sustainable lighting?

I've blogged before about the IES (Illuminating Engineering Society), urging locals to attend the meetings of the Austin section.  The hope in this is that more owners, engineers, architects, and others will be willing to utilize the latest and most efficient lighting technologies in their buildings, designs, and projects.  In a green city such as Austin tries to be, this should be of paramount importance.  (And even if it isn't a high priority for some, energy codes make more efficient lighting pretty much mandatory in today's construction world.)

This week, the speaker will be Jim Benya, who is internationally known in the lighting industry for his knowledge in energy-efficient design.  He will be speaking on "Sustainable Lighting: New Technology and Designs for Super Efficient Buildings".  Per the meeting synopsis:

Dramatic political and economic changes foretell a future in which lighting will be expected to use far less energy than using current practices. Facing strict new lighting regulations in ASHRAE/IES 90.1-2010, IECC 2009 and ASHRAE/IES/USGBC 189.1, we will have to design super efficient buildings to meet the challenge. This program will explain the key methods of using natural light, high performance electric lighting, controls and other skills now needed in our competitive marketplace. The presentation will include practical, state of the art observations of everything from LED’s to skylights.

(ASHRAE/IES 90.1-2010 and IECC 2009 are energy codes which, for the purposes of this seminar, relate to the maximum wattage of lighting that can be used for a building given its use and square footage.  ASHRAE/IES/USGBC 189.1 is a relatively new standard for green buildings.)

The meeting will be on Thursday, March 18, 11:30am, at the Boyd Vance Theatre (1165 Angelina St.).

View Larger Map

You will get a discount ($20 versus $30) if you pay in advance, so go the Austin section page to sign up to attend now.  You'll see a "pay now" link on the left side of the page.

This meeting should appeal to people in the building and construction industry, regardless of specific experiences (or not) in lighting.  If you are interested in green building at all, I would urge you to attend.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Not all libs are misogynists, but some sure are...

Courtesy Andrew Breitbart's Big Government:

When people try to convince you that conservatives are hate-filled so-and-so's (whereas liberals are, of course, filled with love and understanding for their fellow man), you should direct them to the following video compiled by the Media Research Center's Culture and Media Institute.  The not-exactly-timely-but-who-cares video spotlights five incredibly offensive attacks by (mostly well-known) liberals on conservative women.

(Aren't you male, Snowed?  Yeah, but I'm married to a conservative woman, and if anyone spoke this way about her, I would not be happy.)

Some of these attacks have been covered in this blog before, such as the incredibly stupid comment about Willow Palin by a prominent late-night host I do not wish to mention.  Others were made by people like Chuck Nice (who?) and Keith Olbermann.  It's a veritable smorgasbord of hatred toward conservative women.

The CMI's full report contains more accounts of this type of attack against conservative women.  Sadly, it's all too common.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Wow, it *is* possible to go lower than the D-List!

Occasionally talented actress and self-styled comedienne Kathy Griffin really doesn't like Sarah Palin.  Not one bit.  Ms. Griffin has previously been quoted as calling Mrs. Palin "such an idiot and such a moron," and apparently she has decided to center her entire celebrity status around the former governor.

In what appears to be a desperate grab for attention, Ms. Griffin has taken to going out to such prestigious social events as the Teen Choice Awards with a certain person that this blog no longer wishes to mention.  (No, I'm not linking to social event coverage; go look it up if you're so inclined.  I'm certainly not.)

Per Radar Magazine through Hot Air, she has also filmed an episode of her not-so-successful series My Life on the D-List with this same person.  And as part of this quasi-adoption, Ms. Griffin has made her feelings about Sarah Palin quite clear

“We shot a scene where I show her [Kathy] Levi’s Playgirl magazine and she reacts to it,” a Playgirl rep, who came along for the trip, told RadarOnline.com exclusively. “Then we went to a gay bar called Mad Myrnas. I asked Kathy what star she’d like to see take a ‘celebrity spill’ and she said ‘I’d like to push Sarah Palin down the stairs.’”

Stay classy, Kathy.  With such statements, is it any wonder you haven't gone further with your career?

Ever-so-slight retraction:  Fine, the show's been on six years, so I guess if you wanna call that successful, go for it.  But good grief, the show's on Bravo, a network that most people I know watch just slightly less than cable access.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

PDS on Parade

Wow, it really seems as if some people's highest priority in life is to destroy the reputation of one Sarah Palin.  JammieWearingFool covers the latest non-story (Oh noes!  She may have taken free swag!) from the PDS* sufferers here.

Best line:

They'd rather obsess on her instead of talking about all the corrupt Democrats falling by the wayside in recent days.

And of course, the reputable news outlet reporting this is refuting the gossip sites' take on it.  But why worry about facts when you can destroy someone?

*I don't have to explain what PDS is, do I?

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Sarah Palin charms on Tonight Show

As might be expected, I spent the first part of the 11pm hour watching Sarah Palin's visit to the Tonight Show.  (Unlike some people, I did not get a chance to blog the AP's report before it aired.)  Mrs. Palin had a lot to say on various topics, and my general impression was that she did just fine.  Now, I will say that Jay Leno's line of questioning contained mostly softballs (but what pol doesn't get softballs from late-night hosts, really?), and the crowd, amazingly (given the number of people in whatever poll media sources can find who view Mrs. Palin unfavorably), appeared to be rather pro-Palin.  (That, or they're incredibly polite Dems who will now have to give up their posting privileges at the Huffington Post.)

For those who missed it, here are the high points, at least until NBC gets the actual video online, of what I considered to be quite an entertaining interview:

  • On being viewed at controversial:  "I don't ask for it."
  • On getting advice from her parents:  "My dad'll tell me what kind of ammunition to use."
  • On being the subject of all sorts of negative comments in the media:  "Jay, you've gone through this too..."
  • On writing notes on her hand (a habit, apparently, that she picked up from her schoolteacher father):  "...just to get the left all wee-wee'd up...I'm gonna keep doing it."
  • On whether she might consider a career as a talk show host:  "I hear once in a while this [the Tonight Show desk] comes open..."
  • On ill-advised statements made recently by Joe Biden:  "I'm glad I'm not vice-president because I wouldn't know what to do with all that free time."
(Yes, I hear some of you already:  "I'm glad she's not vice-president either..."  Wonderful, you know how to be snarky on someone else's blog.  Great, now go ahead and e-mail me, and we can civilly discuss whether Mrs. Palin as VP could possibly have been as bad as the current administration and its spend-our-way-out-of-debt mentality have been for this country.  Kthxbye.)

So, did Sarah Palin lay out an alternative to the current mindset in Washington?  (And would you expect anyone to do that on a late-night comedy show?)  Actually, she did; when the subject of her notes on her hands came up, she happily explained how what she wrote is a better prescription for what ails this country.  (I'm starting to wonder if those who said originally that she did this in the first place intentionally to play the MSM were onto something...)

And did she talk about the other stories that have swirled around her?  Not really, unless you count one quick Family Guy reference.  And I'm glad.  Leave those types of stories to the bottom-feeders (I'm looking at you, Entertainment Tonight).

My verdict:  a good, strong interview.  It's worth a view if you can.

Other notes:  the end of primary season here in Texas meant that I wasn't flooded with campaign ads.  Unfortunately, it did mean that NBC affil KXAN occasionally obscured a good third of the picture with primary results.  Totally unnecessary.

More notes:  you can find my original anticipatory post for Sarah Palin's appearance on the Tonight Show here.

Update:  Well, NBC hasn't uploaded yet, but someone else did get the video up already, so here you go!

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