Who has the best plans to fight the budget crisis? Well, it seem that the Democrats do not even have a plan, or perhaps they secretly have one but are embarrassed to release it. Either way, Democrats are stubbornly refusing to release any budget plan. Instead, they just complain about the two that have been presented so far.
Thus when the Senate voted on budget plans this week, Senators considered two options but neither one received a single yes-vote from a Democrat.
One proposal, the House Republican budget, the so-called "Ryan plan," was attacked by Democrats as "draconian” or “unconscionable."
The other option was President Obama's plan from February. But as The Hill newspaper reported: “the Democratic caucus would not support the [president’s February] plan because it has been supplanted by the deficit-reduction plan Obama outlined at a speech at George Washington University in April.”
Irony: Citizens United case keeps Democrats out of Jail
Given how the Democrats have attacked the Citizens United case, I thought that this story at Politico was pretty amusing.
A federal court in Alexandria, Va. on Thursday struck down a federal ban on corporate campaign contributions, in a case with potentially dramatic ramifications for a campaign finance regulatory system under siege by legal and regulatory attacks.
The ruling, from the U.S. District Court for Eastern Virginia, piggybacked on a January 2010 Supreme Court decision, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, that allowed corporations to spend money on ads supporting or opposing candidates.
Citizens United stopped short of allowing corporations to give directly to candidates, but it did find that corporations are entitled to free speech rights.
District Judge James Cacheris ruled that, based on Citizens United, corporations should be allowed to contribute directly to candidates’ campaigns.“If human beings can make direct campaign contributions … and if, in Citizens United’s interpretation … corporations and human beings are entitled to equal political speech rights, then corporations must also be able to contribute within (the federal) limits,” Cacheris wrote in a 52-page decision.
The ruling came in a criminal case brought by the U.S. government against two men – William Danielczyk, Jr. and Eugene Biagi – alleging they skirted campaign contribution limits by reimbursing their employees for $186,600 in contributions to Hillary Clinton’s campaigns for Senate in 2006 and president in 2008.
The two men were charged with two counts of reimbursing contributions, as well as conspiracy, obstruction of justice and using corporate funds to reimburse contributions.
Cacheris dismissed one of the seven counts, and also ruled the ban on corporate giving unconstitutional.
The ruling would allow corporations to contribute up to $5,000 per candidate ($2,500 for the primary and $2,500 for the general). Citizens United allowed corporations to spend unlimited sums on advertising boosting candidates or attacking their opponents. . . .
Putting the higher turnover rate for first lady Michelle Obama's staff in its most positive light
If Laura or Barbara Bush or Nancy Reagan had these high staff turnover rates, do you think that the explanation would be it was because it was "an operation known for its polish and discipline." Does that mean that the other first ladies didn't have well polished operations? It would be nice to have some objective evidence on that score.
Less than three years into the job, first lady Michelle Obama is on her third chief of staff and third social secretary. She is on her second communications director, the White House chief usher recently departed, and her press secretary’s last day is Friday.
On Friday afternoon, the first lady’s office announced that the executive director of Obama’s signature campaign to fight childhood obesity also is leaving.
The turnover, greater than under recent first ladies, underscores the pressure and high expectations of working in an operation known for its polish and discipline. A crucial political asset to her husband and his administration, Obama has enjoyed consistently high job approval ratings because of charm, activism — and by avoiding mistakes and controversy.
Sources familiar with the East Wing, who asked not to be named discussing internal dynamics, described the first lady’s office as a challenging workplace, where grueling hours and the expectations of a formidable boss intensify the demands of managing a popular first lady’s schedule, image and agenda. . . .
At the end of the article, there is a quote from someone who worked for Laura Bush in the White House indicating that they also found the job difficult, but I suppose the argument is that the product is so much more polished under Obama.
“It’s the hardest, most demanding schedule that I ever had in 30 years in Washington,” McBride, who worked in three presidential administrations, said of the East Wing. “One of the things you recognize right off the bat is the short amount of time you have to get things done. So you’re driven to do all you can.” . . .
Media Matters makes more false statements yet again
Media Matters makes more false statements yet again. This time they have a post with the headline: "Napolitano And John Lott Advocate For Allowing People To Carry Concealed Guns Without Permits." But the link that they have from my appearance on Judge Andrew Napolitano's show provides absolutely no such evidence. They have put up a video of about 2 minutes of a 4+ minute appearance that I have. The problem is that I never said that there should or should not be permits. Here is where Napolitano explicitly asks me the question about whether there should be permits starting at the 39 second mark.
Napolitano: I don't need to go to the court house and ask for a permit to exercise my free speech rights. What is gained by my going to city hall or the court house as the case may be in different places in America to get a permit to exercise my second amendment rights?
Lott: Well, I guess that those are the cases that are going to have to be coming down from the courts. The Supreme Court has only dealt with the very simple issue right now of whether a complete ban is constitutional or not. Can they ban an entire category of guns? But we see that some places require fees, large fees for getting guns. Some places require training. So there is a whole set of other issue. How much can they 'infringe'? How costly can they make it for people to be able to get guns?
There is an earlier answer that I give where I note how the law is in different states, but Napolitano's question isn't about advocating getting rid of permits and I am not advocating doing away with permits.
Napolitano: Should people be able to walk around with guns on their hips or under their jackets everywhere in the United States?
Lott: Well, we pretty much do that now. We have 48 states that to one degree or another allow citizens to be able to carry concealed handguns. We have 5 states now that people don't even have to have a permit to be able to do that. And the evidence is pretty consistent. Some states have had this for 90 years.
Here is the edited clip that Media Matters puts up. When I can find an unedited clip from the appearance I will put that up instead.
Review of recently doctored attacks on me by media matters:
Given that Media Matters has no problem using a doctored picture of me (editing the color of my hair, skin, and clothes and distorting my hair) presumably because they presumably believe that it makes me look bad, it is surprising that even people such as Paul Krugman and Brad DeLong never question whether Media Matters will use doctored screen shots of webpages.
A response to Paul Krugman's other false claims is available here.
A response to the above post by Media Matters is available here.
UPDATE: After getting caught redhanded, Media Matters' defense is that the just didn't realize that somehow they had posted a doctored picture. Media Matters claims to be an expert on the most minute details of my life, including frequent visits to my website where there is a picture of me, but at the same time they claim they had no idea what I really looked like and thus they blame someone else for having doctored my picture without their knowledge.
Media Matters claims that "Lott offers nothing to back up that assertion" that they will falsify photographic information. They have just been caught using a photograph of me multiple times that edited the color of my hair, skin, and clothes and distorting my hair. But heck they now claim that they didn't really know what I looked like. Media Matters instead tries reiterating their earlier claim that they hadn't altered one of my quotes after getting caught doing that also. Now they claim they didn't know what I looked like when they use a doctored photo of me, and they say it is fixed anyway because they have changed the picture. Sorry, but changing the photo after you have been caught doesn't undo what was done to begin with. For a website that has made it impossible for me to respond on their website to their many false claims, it isn't too surprising to see the way that Media Matters tries to extricate themselves from these false claims when they are caught.
Criminal released from jail "because locking him up breached his family’s human rights"
Well, at least in the UK parliament can over turn these decisions relatively easily.
A burglar was let out of jail yesterday because locking him up breached his family’s human rights. In a staggering judgment, the Appeal Court ruled that the rights of Wayne Bishop’s five children were more important than those of his victims or the interests of justice. MPs said it opened the way to thousands more convicts claiming a ‘get out of jail card’ under the controversial Human Rights Act. Article 8, the right to a family life, has repeatedly been used by foreign criminals to avoid deportation from the UK. But this is believed to be the first time it has been used to let a prisoner walk free from jail. . . . .
Gov. Chris Christie pulls NJ out of Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative
Does this make it more likely that Christie will run for president? In any case, it is a good sign that he would be willing to do this even in a very liberal state such as NJ.
In a blow to clean energy advocates throughout the Northeast, Gov. Chris Christie said this morning that the state will pull out of the region’s "gimmicky" cap-and-trade program by the end of the year. During a Statehouse news conference, Christie acknowledged the effects humans are having on climate change but said the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative was doing nothing to solve the problem. "This program is not effective in reducing greenhouse gases and is unlikely to be in the future," Christie told reporters. "The whole system is not working as it was intended to work. It’s a failure." . . .
Calling it a "gimmicky program" and a "failure" that taxes citizens and businesses, Gov. Chris Christie announced today that New Jersey will pull out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initative by the end of the year. . . .
I have pointed out previously how many in the media seem to read Media Matters. Now it appears that a lot of the media goes to the equally left wing Talking Point Memo.
Taken together, the pile-up is a cautionary tale about the downside of the blogosphere.
It all started on Friday, when David Kurtz, TPM’s managing editor and Washington bureau chief, linked to his colleague’s story about Brown’s office’s clarifications of his statements to the local chamber of commerce about the House-passed GOP budget.
"The leaders will bring forward [the House GOP] budget, and I will vote for it, and it will fail. Then, the president will bring forward his budget, and it will fail. It will be great fodder for the commercials,” Brown had said to the chamber. His spokesman, Colin Reed, later clarified that he meant to say he would vote “on” the budget, not “for” it.
Kurtz summarized the story he was linking to with an ironic paraphrase.
Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA): When I said last week that I was going to vote for the House GOP's plan to abolish Medicare what I really meant was I was going to vote on it -- and I have no idea yet which way I'm going to vote.
The Boston Globe then picked up this paraphrase as the top quote in its story about Brown walking back his comments on the Ryan plan. Others followed suit, including Hotline and the New York Times. . . .
There is no reason for government funding for these projects. People can fund these studies privately if they want them done. Senator Coburns press release is available here. His study is available here.
$50,000 to produce and publicize amateur songs about science, including a rap called “Money 4 Drugz,” and a misleading song titled “Biogas is a Gas, Gas, Gas”
$2 million to figure out that people who often post pictures on the internet from the same location at the same time are usually friends
$80,000 study on why the same teams always dominate March Madness
$315,000 study suggesting playing FarmVille on Facebook helps adults develop and maintain relationships
I guess that I don't agree with Coburn that this is one of the best agencies. For example, it isn't obvious why the government should be funding any economics research.
Barney Frank used his influence while sitting on a committee that regulated Fannie Mae to get his lover a well paid job there
Barney Frank doesn't think that this is a very big deal. Just because congressmen have spouses that work in government doesn't mean that they were sitting on the oversight committees of the agencies that hired those spouses. Nor does it mean that they used their influence to get their spouse hired. From the Boston Herald.
U.S. Rep. Barney Frank admitted he helped his ex-lover land a lucrative post with Fannie Mae in the early 1990s while the Newton Democrat was on a committee that regulated the lending giant — but he called questions of a potential ethical conflict “nonsense.”
“If it is (a conflict of interest), then much of Washington is involved (in conflicts),” Frank told the Herald last night. “It is a common thing in Washington for members of Congress to have spouses work for the federal government. There is no rule against it at all.”
Frank said he helped his former longtime companion, Herb Moses, land a job at Fannie Mae in 1991 after Moses graduated with a master’s degree in business administration from Dartmouth College. Frank said he was approached by a Fannie Mae executive and vouched for Moses, who formerly worked as an economist in the Department of Agriculture. . . .
There is water inside the moon -- so much, in fact, that in some places it rivals the amount of water found within Earth. . . .
Those measurements show that some parts of the lunar mantle have as much water as Earth's upper mantle. . . .
The study also puts a new twist on the origin of water ice detected in craters at the lunar poles by several recent NASA missions. The ice has been attributed to comet and meteor impacts, but it is possible some of this ice could have come from the water released by eruption of lunar magmas. . . .
The Supreme Court has sustained Arizona's law that penalizes businesses for hiring workers who are in the United States illegally, rejecting arguments that states have no role in immigration matters.
By a 5-3 vote, the court said Thursday that federal immigration law gives states the authority to impose sanctions on employers who hire unauthorized workers.
The decision upholding the validity of the 2007 law comes as the state is appealing a ruling that blocked key components of a second, more controversial Arizona immigration enforcement law. Thursday's decision applies only to business licenses and does not signal how the high court might rule if the other law comes before it.
Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for a majority made up of Republican-appointed justices, said the Arizona's employer sanctions law "falls well within the confines of the authority Congress chose to leave to the states." . . .
Sales of homes in some stage of foreclosure declined in the first three months of the year, but they still accounted for 28 percent of all home sales — a share nearly six times higher than what it would be in a healthy housing market. Foreclosure sales, which include homes purchased after they received a notice of default or were repossessed by lenders, hit the highest share of overall sales in a year during the first quarter, foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday. "It's an astronomically high number," said Rick Sharga, a senior vice president at RealtyTrac. "In a normal market, you're looking at the percentage of homes sold in foreclosure to be below 5 percent." The pace at which homes are entering the foreclosure process has slowed in recent months amid bank and court delays. But distressed properties remain a fixture of a housing market still searching for a sustained recovery. The properties, often in need of repair, typically sell at a discount, weakening prices for other types of homes. . . .
House prices are falling again, forcing more homeowners “underwater” — owing more than their house is worth. . . . “Right now, it’s the second-biggest drag on the economy after the surge in oil prices,” said Moody's Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi. Already some 5 million homes have been lost to foreclosure; estimates of future foreclosures range widely. Zandi, who has followed the mortgage mess since the housing market began to crack in 2006, figures foreclosures will strike another three million homes in the next three or four years. . . . The government's efforts to stem the crisis are widely viewed as a failure. Its flagship foreclosure relief program, the Home Affordable Modification Program, has been hampered by confusion over its terms, lenders’ widespread refusal to forgive loan principal and a “trial modification” process that, in some cases, leaves homeowners worse off than when they entered the program. . . .
Calls for more government action ignores the fact that government intervention has caused so much of the problem. For example, government pressure for loan principal forgiveness doesn't exactly encourage more loans being made.
The New York Times reports: “Chrysler said Tuesday that it had paid back $7.6 billion in loans from the American and Canadian governments, marking another significant step in the revival of the company, the smallest of the Detroit automakers.” . . .
American taxpayers have already spent more than $13 billion bailing out Chrysler. The Obama administration already forgave more than $4 billion of that debt when the company filed for bankruptcy in 2009. Taxpayers are never getting that money back. But how is Chrysler now paying off the rest of the $7.6 billion they owe the Treasury Department?
The Obama administration’s bailout agreement with Fiat gave the Italian car company a “Incremental Call Option” that allows it to buy up to 16% of Chrysler stock at a reduced price. But in order to exercise the option, Fiat had to first pay back at least $3.5 billion of its loan to the Treasury Department. But Fiat was having trouble getting private banks to lend it the money. Enter Obama Energy Secretary Steven Chu who has signaled that he will approve a fuel-efficient vehicle loan to Chrysler for … wait for it … $3.5 billion. . . . .
So, to recap, the Obama Energy Department is loaning a foreign car company $3.5 billion so that it can pay the Treasury Department $7.6 billion even though American taxpayers spent $13 billion to save an American car company that is currently only worth $5 billion. . . .
"So anyway, I told them before you got here, I said I'm glad we won this race in New York," Clinton told Ryan, when the two met backstage at a forum on the national debt held by the Pete Peterson Foundation. But he added, "I hope Democrats don't use this as an excuse to do nothing."
Ryan told Clinton he fears that now nothing will get done in Washington.
"My guess is it's going to sink into paralysis is what's going to happen. And you know the math. It's just, I mean, we knew we were putting ourselves out there. You gotta start this. You gotta get out there. You gotta get this thing moving," Ryan said.
Clinton told Ryan that if he ever wanted to talk about it, he should "give me a call." Ryan said he would. . . .
Senate Gives Ryan Budget 40 Votes. Obama's Budget Gets Zero Votes.
The media might be focusing on Ryan's budget getting only 40 votes in the Senate. But Obama's budget got zero. Hours after the Hill newspaper has this headline "Senate votes unanimously against Obama's $3.7 trillion budget," the New York Times has this: "Senate Rejects House G.O.P. Medicare Plan by 57-40 Vote." From the Hill newspapers:
The Senate voted unanimously on Wednesday to reject a $3.7 trillion budget plan that President Obama sent to Capitol Hill in February.
Ninety-seven senators voted against a motion to take it up.
Democratic aides said ahead of the vote that the Democratic caucus would not support the plan because it has been supplanted by the deficit-reduction plan Obama outlined at a speech at George Washington University in April.
Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) demanded a vote on Obama’s budget to show that Democrats don’t support any detailed budget blueprint. McConnell said Obama’s budget “continues the unsustainable status quo.”
He noted during a floor speech Wednesday that Democrats initially applauded the plan.
The president’s budget called for ending tax cuts for the wealthy and a three-year domestic spending freeze, saving an estimated $1.1 trillion over ten years. Democratic senators at the time called it “an important step forward”, “a good start” and a “credible blueprint”.
No Democratic senator was willing to support it, however, after Obama discussed a more ambitious plan at George Washington University to save $4 trillion over twelve years. Republicans criticized his speech for lacking detail.
The White House Office of Management and Budget declined to comment on the president's budget receiving zero votes in the Senate. . . .
Walgreen's fires pharmacist who prevented hostage situation
I previously posted here the news about a pharmacist with a permitted concealed handgun who stopped a hostage situation at the Walgreens where he worked. Here is what the police Lt. investigating the cases noted:
"He could see the hostage situation developing," Lange said. "He could not retreat any farther. He was in the back room. If it was me, I would have done the same thing."
Now Walgreens has fired the heroic pharmacist. One of my readers apparently wrote in to Walgreens where she nicely tried to ask Walgreens to reconsider their policy. In case others are interested, the email for Walgreens is email@example.com.
A federal judge in New York has issued an order that could lift the U.N.’s long-recognized diplomatic immunity in the United States involving contract disputes, opening the doors for claims of “hundreds of millions of dollars” against the world body, according to lawyers involved in the case. Following a ruling by Judge P. Kevin Castel, both the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times on Wednesday published legal notices on behalf of Kahraman Sadikoglu, a Turkish billionaire businessman who is suing the U.N. Development Program (UNDP) for $150 million. . . . The notices are a legal substitute for the process of officially serving the lawsuit to U.N. officials, who have refused to accept the authority of U.S. courts in this and other legal matters. Sadikoglu was hired by the UNDP to clear the Iraqi harbor of Um Qasr, Iraq’s largest port in 2003, so that supplies could be delivered to the war-shattered nation. He has fought since that time to be paid for the work, and according to his lawyers is suing now because the U.N. failed to honor the terms of a 2008 agreement that would have settled the matter. . . .
UPDATE: For Media Matters readers, that organization is getting pretty desperate.
1) I provided a link to the entire transcript for Obama's interview. 2) The reason that I used this quote by Obama is that I came across it in the Washington Post on the day before my post see here. The quote used frequently in the Washington Post, see here and here. 3) As to the aid to Texas, I am just referencing news stories. If Media Matters has a problem with the news stories, they should take it up with the news organizations and what they wrote up.
After that, McHenry accused her of hiding the truth the last time she went before Congress, when she said bureau staff had provided advice to state officials negotiating a settlement with mortgage servicers that improperly foreclosed on homeowners. A mortgage you can understand McHenry pointed to a memo that the bureau put together on mortgage foreclosures that included a note that it was to go to Attorney General Tom Miller, the Iowa attorney general leading the talks with bank mortgage servicers. The congressman accused Warren of being a more central role in the talks than what she told a congressional panel in March. But Warren responded that she was simply providing information requested by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, saying he had asked her to put the packet together for the Iowa attorney general. . . .
Reuters calls Warren a "consumer ally," but people need to understand that she is making loans more costly and thus raising interest rates. She might help out some who currently have loans, but at the expense of those who will be getting loans in the future. The other debate involved her unwillingness to stay longer to testify.
About an hour into the hearing Republicans sought to temporarily adjourn for votes. Warren objected to sticking around for more questions upon their return, saying her afternoon was packed with meetings and that the committee had agreed she would only stay an hour.
"Congressman, we had an agreement," she told Republican subcommittee Chairman Patrick McHenry after some back-and-forth.
"You had no agreement, you are making this up, Ms. Warren," McHenry responded. . . .
Even the media can't ignore this. Note however how the stories all attempt to give an explanation for why Obama made this mistake. My impression is that if Dan Quayle had made this mistake, it would have been heavily covered. It is also interesting how Obama uses the European, rather than American, way of writing dates. The Washington Post has this:
On a tour of Westminster Abbey in London, President Obama signed the guestbook, writing, “It is a great privilege to commemorate our common heritage, and common sacrifice.”
Then, he goofed. He added “24 May 2008.” It’s not clear if he was having more fun on May 24, 2011, that he had three years ago on the same date, when he was in Puerto Rico for one of the last Democratic primaries . . .
Headline: Possibly Jet-Lagged President Obama Gets Year Wrong Text: "It is a great privilege to commemorate our common heritage and common sacrifice,” President Obama wrote in the guest book at Westminster Abbey, where he today placed a wreath at the grave of the unknown warrior.
The president also wrote the date to commemorate his trip: 24 May 2008.
A White House official suggested the president’s jet-lag may be the reason why he got the date so wrong. . . .
From Politico, the only place that didn't give a strong push towards an explanation for the mistake:
He got it right in Ireland, even signing the Dublin presidential guest book European-style rather than American: “23-05-2011.”
But President Obama seemed to have a quick lapse in memory on Tuesday when he signed the guest book at Westminster Abbey in London “24 May 2008.”
In addition to their signatures and the wrong date, the president and first lady wrote, “It is a great privilege to commemorate our common heritage, and common sacrifice.”
Could the president be longing for the good old days? . . .
NJ Public School costs didn't count huge range of important costs
Do payments to teacher pensions and Social Security taxes count as part of the cost of running public schools in New Jersey? You would think so, but up until this week they weren't counted. How about school facilities and equipment costs? Or how about expenditures to send the student to public school in another school district outside of the one that they live in? Or the payment of debts by either the school district or the state? Is this even a serious question? If you pay for schooling costs immediately it is a cost but if you borrow the money, there is no cost to running the school?
The Christie administration has recalculated the amount it says New Jersey public school districts spend per pupil, increasing the state average rate by several thousand dollars to more than $17,800.
The figure, from the 2009-10 school year, has been adjusted to include costs such as transportation, federal funding, debt payments and legal judgments that can vary greatly from district to district. In the 2008-09 school year, using the previous calculation, the state average was $13,200 per student.
The Christie administration says the new figure is more transparent and complete. . . .
Two robbers in Michigan wearing masks and gloves and carrying handguns were in the process of holding people at a Walgreens hostage. They were stopped by a concealed carry permit holder. The Lt. overseeing the investigation said: "If it was me, I would have done the same thing."
. . . But there was one thing two robbers didn't anticipate when they barged into a Benton Township Walgreens drugstore early Sunday and tried to march workers into the back room: A worker already in back carried a handgun and knew how to use it.
Township police Lt. Delmar Lange said the worker fired multiple shots at one of the bandits, forcing the men to flee.
"He could see the hostage situation developing," Lange said. "He could not retreat any farther. He was in the back room. If it was me, I would have done the same thing."
Lange said the worker, whose name was not released, saw one of the robbers force another worker from the front of the building toward the rear. That robber then saw the worker in back and started to pursue him.
The worker then fired multiple shots.
The robber tried to fire back, but his gun malfunctioned. The robber and his partner ran out. . . .
Lange said security camera videos indicate the worker acted appropriately. He said the videos show that the robbers were "very aggressive and very dangerous in what they did and how they did it."
He said the worker was licensed to carry the concealed handgun.
UPDATE: Even though the police said the permit holder did exactly what the police would have done, it looks like Walgreens fired the pharmacist who stopped the crime.
A Walgreens pharmacist who chased two armed thieves out of the Benton Township Walgreens is taking a hit for his actions. The Herald Palladium reports that the national chain fired 35 year old Jeremy Hoven, a licensed conceal and carry gun owner. Walgreens wouldn't comment on the firing of Hoven, but told the paper that they have trained staff on what they should do in such situations and are adding more surveillance cameras to stores. . . .
Al Gore's horrible Science grades and standardized test scores
Test scores don't tell us everything and they aren't perfect, but these are pretty weak and the weak scores are seen again and again.
In his commencement speech at Hamilton College on Sunday, former Vice President Al Gore told the graduates that global warming is “the most serious challenge our civilization has ever faced.” But as an undergraduate at Harvard University in the late 1960s, Gore--one of the most prominent spokesmen on climate change today--earned a “D” in Natural Sciences. Gore’s transcript documents that during his sophomore year at Harvard he earned a "D" in Natural Sciences 6 (Man’s Place in Nature). Also, as a senior at Harvard, he earned a C-plus in Natural Sciences 118. Gore, along with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for his work on global warming. For his college board achievement tests, Gore earned a 488 (out of 800) in physics, and a 519 (out of 800) in chemistry. Gore’s academic records were first obtained and reported on by reporters David Maraniss and Ellen Nakashima at The Washington Post in March 2000. . . .
This is great news. Despite all the liberal movie reviewers who hated the movie, I thought that part 1 was very good. Could they have spent more than $10 million making it to get snazzier special effects? Sure. Did it really matter? No. The actors did a good job, the script was pretty good (slightly too reliant on the book's dialogue), and the point of the movie was powerful.
. . . In fact, said John Aglialoro, the co-producer and financier, it's the monolithic view from critics that say the movie stinks that is motivating him to make Parts 2 and 3, he told The Hollywood Reporter. And he defended his film Wednesday by accusing professional film reviewers of political bias. How else, he asks, to explain their distaste for a film that is liked by the audience? At Rottentomatoes.com, 7,400 people gave it an average 85% score. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone, though, gave the movie zero stars, and Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave it one. A dozen others were equally dismissive. "It was a nihilistic craze," Aglialoro said. "Not in the history of Hollywood has 16 reviewers said the same low things about a movie. "They're lemmings," he said. "What's their fear of Ayn Rand? They hate this woman. They hate individualism. "I'm going to get a picture of Ebert and Travers and the rest of them so I can wake up in the morning and they'll be right there. They're revitalizing me with their outrageousness." Aglialoro said he had to scale down his ambition for the film to be in 1,000 theaters this weekend, so it will likely be closer to 400. During its opening weekend, the movie took in $5,640 per screen but then only $1,890 in its second. Through Wednesday, the film had grossed $3.3 million since opening April 15. Aglialoro acknowledged that spending almost no money on marketing and relying almost entirely on the Internet and talk radio -- a strategy he boasted of a week ago -- was ineffective in the long run. "You really need to spend millions to get the message on TV screens," he said. "If I want Part 2 to open on 1,500 screens, I need to decide if I want to spend $10 million on TV commercials." . . .
Homeowner defends himself from several intruders who hit him with a crowbar
This is pretty scary. Good think that the homeowner had a gun. A video of the news broadcast is available here.
Police are investigating a death in North Nashville on Monday afternoon, according to police dispatch. Police said several men broke into a house just after 2 p.m. on 26th Avenue North. They asked for someone the homeowner didn't recognize, police said, and then the homeowner was hit with a crowbar. He managed to get a gun and shoot two home invaders -- one was killed, and another was seriously wounded. Police said they believe the wounded man was driven to General Hospital by a man waiting outside. Police said all the other suspects are in custody. Police said the house was targeted. . . .
Thanks to Nikki Goeser for alerting me to this story.
The Albanian_ Government lead by Prime Minister Sali Berisha approved a fiscal package in 2007 that included implementing a 10% flat tax for corporate and personal income. Albania_ has lowest level of taxes in Europe.
The Government moved on creating a friendlier investment climate, creating jobs, and making the economy more competitive. From 2007 Albania_ has the best economic growth in Europe.
Investments have increased 200% from 2007 to 2010 the largest increase in the world. Tourism in Albania_ also had the best increase in the world with 42% growth in 2010. . . .
Thousands of companies that cashed in on President Obama's economic stimulus package owed the government millions in unpaid taxes, congressional investigators have found. The Government Accountability Office, in a report being released Tuesday, said at least 3,700 government contractors and nonprofit organizations that received more than $24 billion from the stimulus effort owed $757 million in back taxes as of Sept. 30, 2009, the end of the budget year. The report said the tax delinquents accounted for nearly 6 percent of the 63,000 contractors and grantees examined, and it cautioned that the real number might be higher because the known tax debt does not measure such factors as income underreporting. Among the examples was an engineering firm that received a $100,000 stimulus act contract but owed $6 million in taxes. The IRS called it "an extreme case of noncompliance." A social services nonprofit that received more than $1 million in stimulus funds owed taxes of $2 million. The GAO referred those two cases and 13 others to the Internal Revenue Service, the country's tax collectors, for further investigation. . . .
. . . Beyond such differences in legal cultures, one fact is inescapable. In America a modest African immigrant has obtained a swift response from the police to her complaint of sexual assault. Mr Strauss-Kahn’s innocence or guilt will be determined in court. But New York’s authorities have not shirked from arresting the head of one of the world’s leading international bodies, nor from demanding that he be kept in jail on remand. It is worth asking: would this have happened in Paris or Rome?
Democrats are hoping to put their imprint on the 2012 Republican presidential primary with an unlikely weapon: the hug.
Leading Democrats have spent the past few weeks embracing several leading likely GOP candidates and showering them with praise for holding Democrat-favored positions on an array of key issues.
President Obama credits former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney with creating a model for Democrats' health care reform law that includes an individual insurance mandate.
"With a little assist from the former governor of Massachusetts, we said that health care should no longer be a privilege in this country," Obama told supporters at a fundraiser in Boston last week.
Members of the Obama administration have been praising former U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman for his role as part of their diplomatic team, before he decided to call it quits to possibly run against his former boss.
"Working well with me will be a great asset" in the GOP primary, Obama joked earlier this year.
Huntsman, a former governor of Utah, favors same-sex civil unions and has supported the Democrats' effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through cap-and-trade and stimulus plan to spur economic recovery.
Former President Jimmy Carter, a liberal figure anathema to many Republicans, said Huntsman was "very attractive to me personally."
And then there's former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who drew unlikely applause from congressional Democrats last week after calling Republican Rep. Paul Ryan's controversial plan to overhaul Medicare "radical."
"Newt and I are considered political opposites, but I couldn't agree more about what he said Sunday about House Republicans' plan to end Medicare," said liberal Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, who organized a conference call with reporters to talk about Gingrich.
"It was refreshing to hear such candor from a top Republican," he said.
Democratic strategists say the public affection for Republicans is a deliberate attempt to highlight GOP moderates at a time when many primary voters are looking for conservative ideological purity. . . .
Is all the debate over a difference of a 4% cut in Federal spending?
The debate in Washington right now is whether government spending over the next decade can be cut by $2 trillion or $4.4 trillion. These sound like big numbers right? In billions of dollars, here are the spending levels planned by President Obama as evaluated by the CBO on March 18th. From 2012 to 2021 in billions:
2012 $3,639 2013 $3,779 2014 $3,954 2015 $4,180 2016 $4,460 2017 $4,661 2018 $4,856 2019 $5,148 2020 $5,412 2021 $5,680. The total over 10 years is $45,770.
“are close to agreement on a spending plan that would reduce borrowing by more than $4 trillion over the next decade, with about half the savings coming from higher taxes. That would offer a sharp contrast to the GOP budget, which relies entirely on deep cuts in spending.”
OK, so the $2 trillion cut that Democrats are saying is possible in spending is only 4.37% of spending. And this is after Obama has overseen a massive government spending increase of 28% from 2008 to 2011. The stimulus was just supposed to be temporary. Now we find that all this stimulus on so-called "green" energy and other programs is permanent.
The upcoming Psychological Science study did not find evidence that people who travelled more cheated more, but politicians do have more opportunities to stray than the average person. "They do meet a lot of people," said Pepper Schwartz, a sociologist at the University of Washington in Seattle who studies sexuality and relationships. "Women are impressed with their position, and they are attractive to women who might have never noticed them if they were an accountant." Indeed, Coontz said, gender role socialization plays right into the hands of potential political adulterers. "There's a tremendous identification of power and privilege with sexual excitement, so it's easy for the guys to translate the ego trip they are on constantly into sexuality," Coontz said. Meanwhile, women who believe that rubbing elbows (or more) with the rich and powerful will benefit them are more likely to accept the position of mistress. Politicians "have a lot more willing takers than your ordinary guy," Coontz said. . . .
New law governing public schools negotiating with unions passed in Tennessee
If one wanted to improve schooling, the most direct way of doing so would be to introduce more competition through expanding charter schools or introducing vouchers. There is some academic research by Sam Peltzman that finds that the quality of schooling started falling with the rise of teacher unions. It would be interesting to see if the reverse holds now.
The compromise released Friday would replace the 1978 law with new procedures for choosing teacher representatives and working out agreements with school boards.
Instead of selecting one group, teachers would pick a committee of representatives through secret ballot elections. Organizations would be awarded seats on the committee based on the share of the vote they took.
This committee would then hold a series of “collaborative conferencing” meetings with the school board. These talks would be guided by a different legal framework than negotiations, which could give them less leverage to force school boards to give in on difficult points.
Talks would end in a memorandum of understanding, a legal agreement that is often less enforceable than a formal contract.
The bill also would place limits on what could be included in agreements. Compensation, insurance and benefits could be spelled out, but matters that lawmakers believe directly affect the performance of students, suchas job assignments and bonuses, could not be included. . . .
An insider with President Obama's re-election campaign says it is not digging into Chris Christie's past to find dirt on the New Jersey governor but did not deny that somebody loyal to the president may be. An Obama 2012 campaign source told Fox News that the campaign is not involved in efforts described in a New York Post story published Monday that says Obama operatives are "compiling a dossier" of material that could be used to damage Christie if he does a 180-degree shift and decides to run for president. The newspaper reported that the operatives are trying to work under the radar to avoid attracting attention to Christie, who's already considered a superstar among Republican Party faithful who have begged him to run for the White House. Christie has repeatedly rejected a campaign, insisting that "short of suicide," he doesn't know what to say to convince people that he's not running. . . .