Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday Stuff

Kudos to firedoglake for capturing this inspired moment from Chris Hayes earlier this week, sitting in for Rachel Maddow (what with MSNBC's video site still sucky and all - and by the way, Obama is a SCARY MUSLIM SCARY MUSLIM SCARY MUSLIM SCARY MUSLIM!!!!!)...

...Worst Persons" from tonight (Alan D. Aviles, president of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, gets the "bronze" for throwing out a doctor who had served there for nearly 40 years - nearly 300 medical professionals have signed a petition urging his reinstatement, but thus far, Aviles has done nothing; somebody named Patrick Tribett gets arrested again, a man with perhaps the Internet's most notorious mug shots; but Ted Nugent gets the nod for racist remarks at some venue in Iowa this month, even though he's scheduled to appear at the fiasco sponsored by "Bonkers" Beck on the 28th, the same day as Dr. King's "I Have A Dream" speech - all class)...

...and Jon Stewart brings us "The Ground Zero 'Mosque' - The Sequel" (neat twist at the end - had to think about it, but Stewart ultimately is right)...

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Extremist Makeover - Homeland Edition
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

...and my God, am I glad this week is over (I always wondered what happened to Dr. Crusher, by the way:-).

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thursday Stuff

(Maybe back to posting tomorrow, don't know...).

Hey, did you hear the one about Rupert Murdoch giving a mil to the Repugs? Oh, wait - you mean it's for real?...

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
News Corp. Gives Money to Republicans
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

...and though I always admired his politics, I was never much of a fan of his music, though I liked this tune (nor am I of observations like this - and as we know, it was illegal for any musical act in the '80s NOT to feature a satin windbreaker...pop quiz; who is the news/pop culture icon who introduces the clip - hint: he was from Philly).

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wednesday Stuff

Thank God (posting is highly questionable for tomorrow, by the way...the clip segment from about 8:00 to 9:30 should be required viewing for everyone, just before Tweety shows up though he isn't bad either, including our president who refuses to establish an actual commission of inquiry for real, as opposed to the jokey one run by Pat Roberts, into how this atrocity occurred)...

...and though a bit elegiac, I thought this was appropriate anyway.

Joe Pitts Give Us "The Business" On HCR

(The acronymn stands for Health Care Reform).

Yes, he’s at it again (and where else but The Daily Caller from a few days ago – here)…

Every year millions of Americans risk their savings and work hard to start a small business. According to the National Federation of Independent Businesses, about 1 in 10 adults are currently taking steps to create a business.

One provision in the new health care law will be yet another costly distraction for small business owners. In order to raise revenue to pay for the $1 trillion new health care program, the law includes a provision requiring businesses to file a 1099 form with the IRS for each supplier or service provider they pay more than $600 to in a year.

Tom Schell, a rare coin dealer in Lititz, said the provision will require him to file 4,000 1099 forms a year. He told the Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era, “I probably would just get out of it if it actually came to that.”
With all due respect to Mr. Schell, somehow I don’t think a rare coin dealer is going to generate much employment for the immediate future.

However, concerning the main point about the 1099 forms, this New York Times story tells us the following…

The reporting provision at issue is Section 9006 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which adds “amounts in consideration for property” to the types of payments over $600 for which a business must file an information return with the Internal Revenue Service. In addition, the provision also closes a loophole that made payments to corporations exempt from the filing requirement. Under the new law, a company will have to file a Form 1099 with the I.R.S. for every vendor from whom it buys more than $600 in goods.

The section was intended to be a fund-raiser for the rest of the health care bill; it was projected to deliver $19 billion over the course of 10 years by making it more difficult for businesses to keep income unreported. But business groups assailed the new provisions. “This is absolutely unmanageable,” said Bill Rys, tax counsel for the National Federation of Independent Business, which is leading the effort to overturn the law. “It’s not just the amount of time and money businesses will have to spend, but all that goes with collecting this information. Who do you send it to? What do you do with employees who travel and are making purchases on the road?”
OK, so what do we do about the extra reporting, then? Well, the Times tells us further that…

In the Senate, the latest incarnation of Majority Leader Harry Reid’s small-business jobs bill, proposed late Thursday night, offers his colleagues a choice: they can vote on an amendment by Republican Mike Johanns of Nebraska to repeal the new requirement (to complete the extra 1099s), or they can vote for a Democratic alternative that scales it back. (Of course, individual senators could also vote to do both or to do neither.)

The Democrats’ measure would raise the threshold for reporting goods purchased to $5,000 from $600 and would exempt businesses with 25 or fewer employees from the requirement altogether. It also excludes purchases made by credit card, because these will be reported separately by credit card payment processors under a different law that takes effect in January. These revisions, according to a Finance Committee aide, would likely cost the Treasury $10.1 billion in lost revenue.

Both amendments, however, come with a poison pill that will be tough for members on the other side to swallow. The Johanns amendment is paid for with money from health care programs created by the reform law, while the Democratic proposal is offset by eliminating an income deduction for the five largest oil companies. With each side making offers the other cannot accept, it is difficult to predict where repeal will end up.
Again, it’s kind of startling to me that Pitts, as a member of Congress, somehow doesn’t know this.

And our author concludes with this…

It’s just been four months since President Obama signed the new health care law, and already Democratic leadership is conceding that portions of the bill will harm the economy. We cannot create a massive new government entitlement program without someone footing the bill.

Small businesses all over America have just been told that they will have to pay billions more in taxes to foot the bill for Obamacare. That’s money that might otherwise go to job creation. That’s just one reason why America isn’t creating more jobs.
In response, I would ask that you consider the following about how the new health care law is projected to reduce the deficit (here).

Also, Pitts really has no room to complain about the Dems supposedly harming small business considering some of his votes in this area. With that in mind, I give you the following (here)…

Small-business credit. Voting 241-182, the House authorized the Treasury to lend up to $30 billion to community and regional banks to leverage up to $300 billion in new credit for small businesses. As collateral, the Treasury would receive dividend-paying preferred stock redeemable within 10 years. Financial institutions with assets under $10 billion would be eligible for the program. The deficit-neutral bill (HR 5297) is now before the Senate.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: John Adler (D., N.J.), Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), Michael N. Castle (R., Del.), Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), Tim Holden (D., Pa.), Patrick Murphy (D., Pa.), Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.), and Joe Sestak (D., Pa.).

Voting no: Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.), and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).

Small-business investment. Voting 247-170, the House passed a deficit-neutral bill (HR 5486) that uses incentives such as nontaxation of capital gains and the waiver of certain Internal Revenue Service penalties to stimulate small-business growth. In part, the bill eliminates capital-gains taxes on the sale of certain small-business stock bought between March 15, 2010, and Jan. 1, 2012, increases deductions for start-up expenditures, and eases rules for deducting losses from investments in enterprises such as farming and energy exploration. The bill is now before the Senate.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Adler, Andrews, Brady, Castle, Dent, Fattah, Holden, Murphy, Schwartz, and Sestak.

Voting no: Gerlach, LoBiondo, Pitts, and Smith.
But wait! There’s more (here)…

Jobless, business benefits. Voting 215-204, the House passed a nearly $100 billion bill (HR 4213) that would extend jobless checks for the long-term unemployed through November and renew an array of tax breaks - such as the research-and-development credit - that benefit businesses.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Adler, Andrews, Brady, Fattah, Holden, Murphy, Schwartz, and Sestak.

Voting no: Castle, Dent, Gerlach, LoBiondo, Pitts, and Smith.
Want still more? Check this out (here)…

Summer jobs, disaster aid. Voting 239-175, the House sent the Senate a deficit-spending bill (HR 4899) to provide $600 million for summer jobs for youths and $5.1 billion for federal disaster relief. The bill defines the disaster aid as emergency spending and thus exempt from the "pay as you go" law. The bill extends until May a provision of last year's economic stimulus allowing the Small Business Administration to guarantee up to 90 percent of certain loans to companies.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Adler, Andrews, Brady, Fattah, Holden, Murphy, Schwartz, and Sestak.

Voting no: Castle, Dent, Gerlach, LoBiondo, Pitts, and Smith.

Jobs bill. Voting 246-178, the House passed a deficit-neutral bill (HR 4849) providing tax breaks to spur investment in small businesses and public-works construction by states and cities. The $18 billion-plus cost would be offset by other changes in the tax code. Under the bill, those who make certain small-business investments before Dec. 31 would receive a 100 percent exemption from capital-gains taxes on stock held for at least five years.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Adler, Andrews, Brady, Castle, Fattah, Holden, Murphy, Schwartz, and Sestak.

Voting no: Dent, Gerlach, LoBiondo, Pitts, and Smith.
Had enough yet? No? Here is more…

Jobs creation. Voting 217-201, the House passed a jobs bill (HR 2847) that would temporarily exempt businesses from having to pay the 6.2 percent employer's share of Social Security withholding taxes on workers they hire this year from the jobless ranks. Employers also would receive a $1,000 tax credit for each new hire who stays on the job for one year. The two incentives are designed to put 300,000 people back to work at a cost to the Treasury of about $13 billion.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: John Adler (D., N.J.), Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), Tim Holden (D., Pa.), Patrick Murphy (D., Pa.), and Joe Sestak (D., Pa.).

Voting no: Michael N. Castle (R., Del.), Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.), and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).

Allyson Schwartz didn’t vote.
To be fair, though, I should note a very rare Pitts “Yes” vote concerning small business here (maybe he was ill or something)…

Small-business financing. Voting 410-4, the House passed a bill (HR 4508) to extend several Small Business Administration loan and grant programs while awaiting Senate action on a House-passed bill to upgrade and reauthorize those programs.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: John Adler (D., N.J.), Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), Michael N. Castle (R., Del.), Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.), Tim Holden (D., Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Patrick Murphy (D., Pa.), Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.), Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.), Joe Sestak (D., Pa.), and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).
But Pitts returned to form once more here (I could go on, but you get the picture)…

Estate taxes. Voting 225-200, the House passed a bill (HR 4154) to permanently extend the estate tax at a top rate of 45 percent and with provisions to limit it to individual estates above $3.5 million and joint estates above $7 million. Initially, the bill would exclude more than 99 percent of estates from taxation, including nearly all family-owned small businesses and farms. But that figure would gradually diminish because the exemption levels are not indexed for inflation. The bill's cost of nearly $237 billion over 10 years would be added to the national debt.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: John Adler (D., N.J.), Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), Tim Holden (D., Pa.), Patrick Murphy (D., Pa.), Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.), and Joe Sestak (D., Pa.).

Voting no: Michael N. Castle (R., Del.), Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.), and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).
Oh, and here is something else to consider when it comes to the Repugs supposedly supporting small business.

As you might expect, this is where I usually finish off one of these posts telling voters in PA-16 to oppose Pitts for election in the fall and provide a link to the web site of Lois Herr, his highly worthy Democratic opponent.

So here it is.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tuesday Stuff

I'll let you in on something - I get fed up with the political yak-yak also, and when a certain milestone occurs, I think it's more important to commemorate that instead; this is such a milestone (And speaking of sports, can't this guy slip on a banana peel and blow out his knee or something? And yes, that is snark)...

...and this tune is a bit loosely commemorative of Thomson's achievement - OK, very loosely.

Tuesday Mashup Part Two (8/17/10)

(Part One is here.)

  • I give you The Orange One on the 75th anniversary of the passage of the Social Security Act last Friday (here)…

    “For 75 years, the Social Security program has served the needs of millions of American seniors, and Republicans are committed to protecting Social Security and preserving this invaluable program for current and future generations of retirees. The Social Security and Medicare Trustees have repeatedly warned Congress and the American people that reforms are necessary or future benefits will be threatened.

    Some Democratic leaders – from Vice President Biden to Majority Leader Steny Hoyer to Majority Whip Jim Clyburn – have expressed a willingness to have an open and honest conversation about preserving the future of Social Security, but most Democrats, including President Obama and Speaker Pelosi, refuse to even acknowledge the challenges it faces. It’s time to have an adult discussion about the future of this crucial program. Working together, we can protect Social Security and ensure these critical benefits are there for America’s seniors for generations to come.”
    “Republicans are committed to protecting Social Security”; Boehner makes a funny – tee hee hee…

    In response, I give you Paul Krugman (here)…

    Social Security’s attackers claim that they’re concerned about the program’s financial future. But their math doesn’t add up, and their hostility isn’t really about dollars and cents. Instead, it’s about ideology and posturing. And underneath it all is ignorance of or indifference to the realities of life for many Americans.

    About that math: Legally, Social Security has its own, dedicated funding, via the payroll tax (“FICA” on your pay statement). But it’s also part of the broader federal budget. This dual accounting means that there are two ways Social Security could face financial problems. First, that dedicated funding could prove inadequate, forcing the program either to cut benefits or to turn to Congress for aid. Second, Social Security costs could prove unsupportable for the federal budget as a whole.

    But neither of these potential problems is a clear and present danger. Social Security has been running surpluses for the last quarter-century, banking those surpluses in a special account, the so-called trust fund. The program won’t have to turn to Congress for help or cut benefits until or unless the trust fund is exhausted, which the program’s actuaries don’t expect to happen until 2037 — and there’s a significant chance, according to their estimates, that that day will never come.
    However, I will agree with Boehner on one point in his Hill post; I believe he is right to say that we should have an “adult discussion” on Social Security, among other topics.

    And I think that discussion should start with an explanation as to whether or not Boehner really wants to raise the retirement age to 70 for purposes of benefit eligibility, as noted here. Also, I’d like to hear him say categorically that he opposes privatization (noted here), even though, as noted here, many actually support that (fools…in that awful event, watch and see what would happen to your monthly benefit the next time the market lost 260 or so points in a single day).

  • Next, this story in the Philadelphia Inquirer tells us of the recent controversy surrounding Woods Services in Langhorne, PA, the residential facility that “has housed, taught, and served thousands of disabled adults and children for nearly a century.”

    The school has been in the news over the recent death of Bryan Nevins, a severely autistic 20-year-old man who was left alone in the back of a parked van on a day of record-setting heat for five hours (as the story tells us…Bucks Country prosecutors have charged a veteran Woods Services counselor, Stacey Strauss, with felony neglect in Nevins' death).

    Another autistic client, 17-year-old Robert Percaro of New York, ran from his building late one night last October and fell to his death from a Route 1 overpass; police and state Welfare Department officials found no fault with Woods Services in that case.
    As nearly as I’ve been able to determine from my reading about Woods Services (known for a long time in these parts as The Woods School), it provides an invaluable service, enjoys a fine reputation, and is run by dedicated professionals.

    However, the reason why I’m taking note of this is the following (which was also noted immediately by online commenters to the story)…

    The nonprofit care center employs nearly 1,900 people in the region, from a president and chief executive, Robert Griffith, who collected $735,000 in salary and compensation two years ago to the hundreds of residential counselors, like Strauss, who earn as little as $11 an hour.
    Geez, sounds like Griffith is in the running for a “Marrazzo Award” (based on this).

    I have no grounds to critique Griffth’s performance in running this facility; it’s possible that he is an exemplary administrator and is thoroughly dedicated. Also, the story doesn’t tell us if this is annual salary and compensation or accumulated over a longer duration.

    The fact remains, though, that we’re talking about nearly three quarters of a million dollars for running a nonprofit (and $11 an hour to pay counselors for dealing with a population of young and older adults with difficult developmental issues?).

    As noted here, though, Griffith and the school have been extraordinarily generous to the Middletown Township Police Department, contributing about $35,000 per year.

    What matters most in this story is resolving the matter of Bryan Nevins’ death as thoroughly as possible, from taking any and all corrective action to proceeding with the charges against counselor Stacey Strauss.

    After that, though, I have a feeling that Woods Services needs a financial audit for public benefit, if for no other reason than to improve the pay rate of the individuals responsible for its day-to-day operation.

  • Finally (and believe me when I tell you that I tried to stay away from this topic), Larry Gatlin (??) bloviates as follows at the Fix Noise site (here)…

    I have expressed my disdain for most of the president's policies. I have not been shy about "giving him what for" here on these "pages," as they say in The Wall Street Journal. I think he is totally inept and out of his depth. But inept and heartless are two different things.

    I just find it hard to believe that a good, decent, smart, God-fearing Christian (ask Rev. Wright, he will vouch for him) like Pres. Obama, could be so cavalier, so out of touch, can I say this... so afflicted with Cranial Rectamitis, that he would so blatantly shove his heartlessness right in the face of the good folks of Arizona, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and yes, even Kansas, by sending the first lady and one of the first daughters to SPAIN to hang with, well, SPANISH NON-AMERICANS. I just do not believe it!!
    It’s been a long time since I read what passes for a post which is, in fact, a continuous comment thread IN WHICH THE AUTHOR APPARENTLY FORGOT TO UNLOCK THE “CAPS” KEY on his or her keyboard. And I suppose Gatlin is trying to be a bit tongue-in-cheek here, though the floating “Impeach Obama” ad at the top of the page kind of belies that.

    Besides, I recall hearing nary a peep out of idiots currently frothing over the trip by Michelle Obama and her daughter Sasha when Laura Bush and her daughters visited Africa and took time for a “safari” (here; and when it comes to the proverbial blind squirrel finding the nut, I give you this).

    As anyone with even a passing familiarity with this site knows, I had a ton of issues with a certain 43rd President of the United States and his pals, and still do, but overseas travel was not one of them.

    I thought that some of the posts here about the importance of travel were well worth reading. There is no better way to acquire the perspective of other people and cultures, and though many of us don’t have this luxury because of the economy, I certainly don’t think taking advantage of this is a bad idea (contrary to the media “conventional wisdom” that apparently sprung up overnight stating that, during bad economic times such as these, those in the public eye are supposed to stay within our borders).

    And for disclosure purposes, I should note that I’ve barely traveled outside this country myself. But the next time I get a hankerin’ for some Conch Fritters and a “Goombay Smash,” I’m diggin’ out my passport and hoppin’ a jet to you-know-where!
  • Monday, August 16, 2010

    Monday Stuff

    I had some stuff I couldn't quite get to today, but I hope to take care of it tomorrow.

    And oh yeah, about the Afghan war...

    ...and RIP Abbey Lincoln, an individual who knew something about protests (here with David Sanborn).