Jan
25
2015
7

‘Independent’ Alaskan governor Bill Walker gets his first test over ANWR.

Who does he stand with? Alaskans, or the President?

The Obama administration will propose setting aside more than 12 million acres in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as wilderness, the White House announced Sunday, halting any chance of oil exploration for now in the refuge’s much-fought-over coastal plain and sparking a fierce battle with Republicans, including the new chair of the Senate Energy Committee.

Right now ‘independent’ Alaskan governor Bill Walker is making noises about increasing state land oil production to make up for any potential loss of revenue, which means that he’s still trying to avoid this fight. Regretfully for Walker, this is not actually an avoidable fight. The President hates cheap energy. Republicans hate being told that they should be cold and in the dark because a bunch of radical Greenies loathe modern Western society. Both sides are absolutely happy to pick this fight.  Walker will simply have to choose whether or not to fall into line behind President Obama like a good little minion. (more…)

Jan
25
2015
10

Gov. Paul LePage (R, Maine) wants to impose property taxes on colleges, nonprofits, other Democratic party affiliates.

I don’t know whether this is demonic, inspired, or both: “A sweeping proposal to cut taxes for Maine families and businesses could upend one of the most widely accepted practices in the country: the property-tax exemption for nonprofit organizations… A recent budget plan by Republican Gov. Paul LePage calling for an overhaul of individual, corporate and sales taxes also would make Maine the first state in the nation to require colleges, hospitals and other large charities to go on the property-tax rolls in their municipalities.” This proposal – which specifically exempts “churches and government-owned entities” - would be the first of its kind in the country, and will probably not pass without a bloody brawl in the state legislature.

Is it a good idea, though? Depends. On the one hand, it’s a tax hike. On the other hand, it’s a tax hike that would be part of a more comprehensive series of tax simplification and reform (which is the way to get conservatives to sign off on a tax hike). On the gripping hand, it’s a tax hike that is aimed squarely at academics and NGOs… which is to say, it’s aimed at people who typically instinctively get upset when a Republican wins an election. There’s no real reason for us to pretend that that last point isn’t a legitimate one for consideration.  Hey, some people like governmental intervention and oversight, right?  … So, here: have some.  Right between the eyes. (more…)

Jan
25
2015
13

So it looks like the Greeks are about to put into office…

…the hard Left party* who promised to renegotiate Greece’s extremely unpopular bailout. Private scuttlebutt among those of my peers who follow European news more closely than I do is divided over whether the Germans EU will sign off on that, but don’t be surprised if they at least try. The alternative is… well, the alternatives to austerity are as follows:

  • A bailout.
  • Removing Greece from the EU.
  • Placing Greece under direct political and economic control of Brussels.

(more…)

Jan
25
2015
2

Democratic Election season in Iowa off to a slow start.

At least, that’s the impression that I’m getting here. Admittedly, back in 2007 the fun didn’t really start until the second half of the year, but the general take from that piece seems to be …Ehh. Hillary will show up, and we’ll go rah-rah, and then she’ll win and that’ll be that. It’s not that they’re jumping up and down for her; it’s that nobody apparently really expects that Hillary Clinton will be seriously challenged in Iowa this go-round, so she might as well take it slow. (more…)

Jan
24
2015
4

‘Shake It Off.’

Screw it.  This should be the official theme song for the GOP in 2016.

Shake It OffTaylor Swift

Whether Ms. Swift is particularly happy about it, or not: then again, as I understand it she signed over distribution rights to the label, so her emotional state over this would be largely irrelevant anyway.

 

Jan
24
2015
3

Yet another demonstration of a possible link between hardcore gun control views…

…and damaged cognitive ability: “A recent gun buyback event in Oregon, aimed at curbing the number of weapons on the street, turned into a planned profit making opportunity for a group of firearms enthusiasts.” Basically, the gun buyback people were offering too-high prices for some firearms, so certain gun enthusiasts simply sold them clapped-out pieces of junk for a profit.  The buyback also offered to trade ‘high capacity magazines’ for $25 gift cards for a store that happens to sell ‘high capacity magazines’… for $8.  Yes, that worked out pretty much as you’d expect, too: they ran out of gift cards.  It’s a shame I don’t live in Oregon; there was clearly money in that.

But the best part? At least one person said Hey, wait, I know precisely where people who want to sell firearms are going to gather – and so he waited outside in order to make a better cash offer for the firearms that were worth more than the buyback value. How did it go?

“I picked up five weapons including a Model 11 Remington SemiAuto 12-gauge from 1926, a Mossberg bolt-action 20-gauge from 1947-1950… AND a pre-1900, 12-gauge breech action with Damascus barrel……AND……. a couple of 22 pistols,” wrote the member.

Because this is America, that’s why.  And it shouldn’t surprise anybody that the system was so easily gamed, here. I think that sometimes we forget that we largely don’t trust governmental competence for a reason.

Via PJ Tatler.

Jan
24
2015
8

Barack Obama calculated that calling for 529 tax hikes was safe enough.

Megan McArdle put her finger on precisely why Barack Obama floated the oh-heck-no proposal to tax people’s 529 college funds: “About the only people I saw defending this particular idea were blue-state singles who haven’t yet confronted the monstrous expense of shepherding their progeny into the new mandarin class to which they belong.” …And that’s who Barack Obama was trying to back-channel pander to, of course. In 2012 single voters broke strongly for Obama – single women more so then men – and since a tax hike on college fund earnings wouldn’t affect them too much (especially the ones without kids), Obama probably figures that it’s a ‘safe’ tax hike to have*. (more…)

Jan
24
2015
13

So right now Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign hinges on whether there are pictures.

Oh, dear.

Former President Bill Clinton took a romantic jaunt in 2002 to convicted pedophile pal Jeffrey Epstein’s “orgy island” with “two young girls” from New York, according to a shocking new interview.

Virginia Roberts, who’s accused Epstein of turning her into a “sex slave” at age 17 and forcing her to sleep with his powerful friends, claimed Clinton stayed in one of the many villas on Epstein’s US Virgin Islands estate — where group sex was a “regular occurrence.”

(more…)

Jan
23
2015
4

American Sniper demonstrates that Hollywood doesn’t know how to make war movies.

Let’s walk through this paragraph.

The list of films that stand in stark thematic contrast to American Sniper is long. Just to name a few: MTV Films made Stop-Loss, with Ryan Phillippe, Channing Tatum, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, in which a group of young soldiers nearly run off to Mexico rather than go back to Iraq. It was little more than a sexed-up infomercial warning young men off military service. In the Valley of Elah, starring Tommy Lee Jones, was a tepid murder mystery masquerading as a morbid meditation on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Washed-up auteur Brian De Palma made Redacted, a graphic film about American soldiers who rape an Iraqi girl and murder her family. Matt Damon starred in Green Zone, a heavy-handed thriller about a government conspiracy to hide WMDs in Iraq. (Green Zone was loosely based on the work of Washington Post reporter Rajiv Chandrasekaran, who was widely rebuked for misrepresenting his need to be evacuated by helicopter from his military embed in Afghanistan. The real reason he wanted out: to attend the film’s celebrity-studded premiere.) John Cusack was a twofer. First he starred in Grace Is Gone, a film that egregiously wallows in the grief of a man who can’t bring himself to tell his kids his wife was killed serving in Iraq. Then he made War, Inc., a painfully unfunny satire about corporate profiteers amid a war in the fictional country of Turaqistan.

(more…)

Jan
23
2015
8

Courtier from Baronness Hog-gelder joins the court of the Duke of Skull Throne.

Come on, you have to admit: it sounds better than “The team that is building Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s political organization for a possible presidential campaign has brought on a GOP strategist with Iowa ties: David Polyansky.” As the Des Moines Register notes, Polyansky was one of Senator Joni Ernst’s key advisers during her successful campaign last year: he was also involved in getting Mike Huckabee to win the Iowa caucuses in 2008 and Michele Bachmann to win the Ames Straw poll in 2012.  True, neither Huckabee nor Bachmann went on to win the nomination: then again, neither Huckabee nor Bachmann are Scott Walker. Besides, this is clearly about Iowa.  Presumably the Duke of Skull Throne will be seeking suitable courtiers for the other primary states…

Via RCP.

Jan
23
2015
0

National 2016 Convention dates set.

So, the convention schedule is firming up:

A few thoughts on this: first off, yes, that’s significantly earlier than from the previous two election cycles (as Dan McLaughlin is noting here). In 2008 the Democratic convention was held from August 25th to the 28th, and the Republican convention was held from September 1st to 3rd. In 2012 the GOP held ours from August 27th to the 30th, and the Democrats had theirs from September 4th to 6th. I’m noting the dates because at first I was under the very mistaken impression that the distance between the two conventions was usually longer; but it’s not, really. Presumably neither party wants to give the other one any kind of extended convention bounce.

Second: the Democrats are going to have an interesting time picking their venue.  The AP reports that the choices for them are NYC, Philadelphia, and/or Columbus.  I don’t really think that picking any of those will actually give the Democrats more votes, but I also think that the Democrats have pretty much already decided on Columbus for other reasons. It’s an open question whether NYC is going to be in any kind of shape to hold a convention after another year of Bill de Blasio – imagine how the city might look if the Mayor/NYPD feud goes on for another year – and Philadelphia is… not what it was. A very historically significant city with a proud civic history, but… well, at least they’re not Detroit*. It also is an easy train ride from NYC for any screaming protesters native to Gotham, while Columbus is not.  And yes, that’s a consideration.

Lastly: if anybody next year complains about how strange this election season feels to him or her, this would be why. It’s been a while since we had conventions this early. It may be long overdue, but it’s still out of the ordinary. I wonder how the election cycle will look with an extra month of full-bore campaigning by both candidates?

Moe Lane (crosspost)

*Yes, I know that since Cleveland is where we’re having our convention, this is a somewhat ironic video to use.  However, it’s good to have a bit of a laugh, no?

Jan
23
2015
5

Argentina announces that it has rogue murder-assassination squads.

To put this in perspective: imagine if we had had an apparent ‘suicide’ of a prominent administration critic just before he was about to testify against the Obama administration, and the administration came out and blamed the whole thing on rogue elements within the NSA that wanted to attack President Obama. That’s pretty much the Argentinian government’s position on the assassination of state prosecutor Alberto Nisman, and it’s a heck of a thing when that’s considered to be still a better story than the actual truth. Which is: Mr. Nisman was investigating the Iranian bombing of an Argentinian synagogue; he got hindered in his investigation by would-be dictator Cristina Fernandez, who is in cahoots with the Iranians to cover up the Iranian regime’s involvement in said bombing; Nisman was about to talk about all of that to a court; and so the Fernandez regime proceeded to put a bullet in his head*. (more…)

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