Scurrying For Cover

Jeffrey Epstein is dead. The debate over how he actually died will probably continue for a long time. Meanwhile, many of the ‘elites’ who attended his parties and spent time with him before his alleged activities came to light are attempting to distance themselves from him. Unfortunately, in the day of the Internet, pictures, and occasional investigative journalists, the attempts to deny being on Mr. Epstein’s guest list at his parties are not working well.

Yesterday The U.K. Daily Mail posted an article with the following headline, “Woody Allen is pictured leaving Jeffrey Epstein’s mansion after lavish party in Prince Andrew’s honor that was also attended by Katie Couric,Chelsea Handler and George Stephanopolous.” That’s an interesting group of people.

The article reports:

Seeking to put a lid on a scandal showing little sign of abating, the Duke of York coyly referred yesterday to his ‘former association or friendship’ with Jeffrey Epstein.

Those who attended a glittering party in the Duke’s honour on December 2, 2010, in New York might be surprised at his choice of words.

Not least because it was thrown by convicted paedophile Epstein himself at his Upper East Side mansion, variously dubbed the House of Horror and the House of Depravity by the banker’s young victims.

As The Mail on Sunday revealed last weekend, it was at this mansion where Andrew came to the door to wave goodbye to Katherine Keating, daughter of former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating, on the afternoon of December 6.

The article concludes:

The Prince has fiercely denied any wrongdoing and knowledge of Epstein’s crimes, but he has faced questions about how he could have missed a procession of beautiful young women visiting the mansion during his six-day stay.

‘There were girls coming and going the entire time Prince Andrew was inside the house,’ an eyewitness said.

‘It was happening in broad daylight. If the Prince didn’t see all the girls coming through that door, he was the only person on 71st Street who didn’t. It was flagrant.

‘At one point someone who looked like a royal protection officer came outside. Even if Andrew didn’t realise what was going on, you have to wonder why the people assigned to protect him didn’t say something?’

Many of Epstein’s victims have described how assaults took place in an upstairs massage room which was strictly off-limits to other house guests.

Some reports this week claimed Prince Andrew is now ‘fearful’ of returning to the US because he worries about being dragged into one of the multiple civil lawsuits being brought against Epstein’s £500 million estate. Lawyer Bradley Edwards, who represents several of the victims, said last night: ‘We would welcome the chance to speak to Prince Andrew under oath.’

Considering the charges against Jeffrey Epstein, he ran with an interesting crowd.

Those Who Ignore History Are Destined To Say Dumb Things

The Electoral College has come under fire in recent years. Those objecting to the Electoral College seem to have no idea why it was included in the founding of America. Small states were fearful of being shut out of the process of electing a President and wanted a way to insure that they would have a voice. Without the electoral college, no one would campaign in North Dakota, Idaho, Montana, Kansas, and many other states where the populations are not as dense as some of the coastal states. Without the Electoral College, America would be governed by New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Philadelphia. Is that really what you want? Evidently Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez thinks that would be a good idea.

The Washington Times posted an article today about Representative Ocasio-Cortez’s recent remarks about the Electoral College.

The article reports:

The Democratic congresswoman posted an Instagram story Monday that started with her driving along a deserted highway and joking about how many votes there are in rural America.

“We’re coming to you live from the Electoral College,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said, National Review reported. “Many votes here, as you can see. Very efficient way to choose leadership of the country. I mean I can’t think of any other way, can you?”

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez cited a March New York magazine article that said black, Hispanic and Asian-American voters are underrepresented by the Electoral College compared with white Americans.

“Due to severe racial disparities in certain states,” the congresswoman said in her video, “the Electoral College effectively weighs white voters over voters of color, as opposed to a ‘one person, one vote’ system where all our votes are counted equally.”

What Representative Ocasio-Cortez wants is a democracy. We are a representative republic. She needs to go back to school and study American history.

Hoping For Justice

The following video was posted at YouTube today:

I hope what Attorney General Barr says is true. There were obviously many people involved in the escapades of Jeffrey Epstein. All of those people need to go to jail. I am hoping they found enough evidence in Jeffrey Epstein’s safe in New York City to send those people to jail. Human trafficking is a horrible thing. Exploiting young girls is something that should result in jail time. Time will tell if justice will actually be done.

Would You Really Trust This Person Out On Bail?

Yesterday CNBC posted an article about Jeffrey Epstein’s lawyers negotiating bail for their client. Jeffrey Epstein is willing to post bail as high as $100 million. Would you take that deal?

The article notes a few things that might cause someone to hesitate before agreeing to the deal:

“We know they have found photos of young women in his home,” Farmer (Annie Farmer, one of his accusers) noted, referring to what prosecutors have said was a “vast trove” of lewd photos of young women or girls that investigators discovered in Epstein’s New York residence.

Before the accusers spoke, Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex Rossmiller said that a number of other witnesses contacted authorities after Epstein was recently indicted, and that prosecutors are trying to corroborate their allegations against him.

Rossmiller also revealed that investigators found in Epstein’s $77 million Manhattan townhouse a locked safe containing “piles of cash” and “dozens of diamonds,” as well as an expired passport dating to the 1980s from another country that has Epstein’s photograph on it — but with a different name and a stated residence of Saudi Arabia.

Rossmiller also said that “many, many photographs” of young-looking girls were found in the safe, and that the prosecutors have identified at least one person among them who claims to be a victim of Epstein’s.

Fake passports, diamonds, piles of cash…would you trust this person out on bail?

Sometimes The Truth Just Kind Of Slips Out

The Washington Examiner posted an article today that stated something that most of us know but haven’t seen widely reported in the media.

The article states:

In Europe, you will often hear politically savvy people refer to Green Party politicians as “watermelons.” The reason is that although they might be environmentalist “green” on the outside, these leftists are secretly communist red if you look beneath the surface.

They typically resort to such subterfuge because environmentalism is more popular than Marxism. A former East German communist is bound to be unpopular, but perhaps not so much if he rehabilitates himself as a renewable energy enthusiast.

The case of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York, is different in that she openly advertised herself as a socialist in a country with a well-grounded historical aversion to such alien ideologies. But her grand policy initiative, the $93 trillion Green New Deal, was still billed as if it were a legitimate environmentalist idea. We were supposedly trying to save the world from imminent destruction. As Ocasio-Cortez herself put it, “We’re, like, the world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change.”

When Representative Ocasio-Cortez makes statements like that, this is what she reminds me of:

At any rate, her chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, let the cat out of the bag recently.

The article reports:

Her chief of staff Saikat Chakrabarti (the brains and the money behind her political operation ever since her 2018 primary victory) divulged in an unintentionally blunt comment in the Washington Post that the Green New Deal was not only not based in the science of climate change, but in fact not even designed with climate change in mind. “[I]t wasn’t originally a climate thing at all,” he is quoted as saying.

In other words, it’s not that they looked for a way to save the world, and just happened to find a way that involved full employment pledges, the retrofitting of millions of buildings, income for those unwilling to work, high-speed passenger rail, and the curtailment of plane travel and carnivorousness. That’s precisely backwards. The Green New Deal came about because Chakrabarti wanted to transform the U.S. economy into something more primitive, and environmentalism struck him as the best excuse for doing so.

The American economy currently is working for everyone who chooses to work. When people work, they are aware of how much money the government takes out of their paychecks. That in itself may present a problem for the Democrats running for election in 2020.

Much Needed Mercy

On June 5, I posted an article about the expected transfer of Paul Manafort to Rikers Island prison. Paul Manafort is 70 years old and not in good health. Rikers Island is known as one of the roughest prisons in America.

Today Fox News reported that Paul Manafort was transferred to a federal prison in New York City late Monday ahead of his pending state court trial — but only after the Justice Department rejected a local district attorney’s widely criticized bid to move him to the notorious Rikers Island prison complex. There was never any reason to put him in Rikers Island other than to further mistreat him.

The article reports:

Manafort was instead transferred to the New York Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC), a federal detention facility located in Manhattan.

MCC houses many inmates awaiting trial or sentencing. Among the current inmates are terror suspect Sayfullo Saipov, who allegedly ran down pedestrians with a truck in New York on Oct. 31, 2017, and Cesar Sayoc, the man who allegedly sent package bombs to prominent Democrats. Joaquin Guzman, the notorious drug lord known as “El Chapo,” is reportedly being held at the facility.

Manafort’s transfer came after Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen rejected Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr.’s attempt to re-locate Manafort to Rikers Island.

A senior Justice Department official told Fox News that Manafort’s attorneys contacted the Bureau of Prisons and “raised concerns about his transfer to state custody related to his health and personal safety.”

It is nice to see that someone in the Justice Department prevented the further miscarriage of justice regarding Mr. Manafort.

News That Goes Against The Political Grain

Fox News posted an article today about the impact of marijuana on the adolescent brain.

The article reports:

Two health professionals penned an op-ed in The New York Times on Sunday that despite society’s shift on marijuana use, it does not change the fact that the drug is not safe for high school and college students.

Kenneth L. Davis, the president and chief executive of the Mount Sinai Health System, and Mary Jeanne Kreek, the head of Laboratory of the Biology of Addictive Diseases at Rockefeller University, cited studies that show a “deleterious impact on cognitive development in adolescents.”

The column said marijuana use can impair “executive function, processing speed, memory, attention span and concentration.” They said the explanation is simple: the adolescent brain is still vulnerable “especially the prefrontal cortex.”

“The chemical in marijuana responsible for producing mood elevation and relaxation, THC, interferes with the exchange of information between neurons,” they wrote in, “Marijuana Damages Young Brains.”

Davis and Kreek penned the column in response to New York and New Jersey considering legalizing marijuana for those over 21.

Marijuana is not as harmless as it is being made out to be. In October 2018, I posted an article about a man who had begun using marijuana is his 20’s and became addicted to the drug.

The article reported:

There’s a reason that Alcoholics Anonymous started in 1935, two years after the end of Prohibition. Alcohol abuse became rampant, and the country almost drank itself off the rails. Will the same thing happen with marijuana?

Marijuana isn’t alcohol or an opioid. You can’t die from an overdose. It doesn’t really evince physical cravings. So is it better to call my problem marijuana “dependence”? Does it matter?

Cannabis should be legal, just as alcohol should be legal. But marijuana addiction exists, and it almost wrecked my life. If you have a problem, you are not alone.

I am not convinced marijuana should be legal. I think we have more Americans addicted to marijuana than we realize.

A Governor Who Understands The Purpose Of The Electoral College

On Thursday, The Hill reported that Nevada’s Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak on Thursday vetoed the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which had been passed by the Nevada Assembly and Senate.

The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact would essentially nullify the Electoral College. However, it will not become effective unless enough states to control 280 electoral college votes pass the measure. The idea is that 280 electoral votes would be a majority of the Electoral College and would elect the person who got the most popular votes. At that point we would live in a county governed by New York and California–two states that have not done a particularly good job of governing themselves. That is exactly what our Founding Fathers were attempting to avoid (as explained by Alexander Hamilton in Federalist 68).

In Federalist 68, Alexander Hamilton stated:

And as the electors, chosen in each State, are to assemble and vote in the State in which they are chosen, this detached and divided situation will expose them much less to heats and ferments, which might be communicated from them to the people, than if they were all to be convened at one time, in one place.

Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption.

The idea was that the Electoral College would give less-populated states a voice in the election of the president. A candidate for president would be required to gain a broad base of support–he would be required to represent the entire country–not just one or two sections.

To illustrate what elections would look like without the Electoral College, let’s look at where the campaign money comes from in elections.

According to opensecrets.org the top donor states are California (22 percent), New York (21 percent), Illinois (7 percent), and Florida (6 percent). The other states provided 44 percent of campaign donations. California has 40 million people; West Virginia has 2 million people. Without the Electoral College, how likely is a presidential candidate to campaign in (or represent) the people in West Virginia? There is a valid reason for the Electoral College.

 

This Is Simply Harassment

Anyone who celebrates the Congressional search for any smidgen of dirt on Donald Trump might want to consider that if this continues, it could happen to any President or any citizen. The two-plus year witch hunt needs to end, and those responsible need to be held accountable. The latter seems to be about to happen. The former has no end in sight.

On Tuesday The City Journal posted an article about Congress’ demand for President Trump’s tax returns (including years he was not in office). This is harassment. However, you only have to look at the events of the past week or so to find out what is actually going on–the quest for tax returns is simply a bright shiny object put in front of the American public to divert from the news that John Durham, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, will be investigating the origins of the surveillance on the Trump campaign and transition team.

The article points out:

Disappointed by Robert Mueller’s failure to demonstrate President Trump’s perfidy, Democrats are focusing anew on the president’s tax returns. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is refusing to order the release of Trump’s federal returns to the House, saying that there is no legislative purpose for doing so, but a new effort to expose Trump’s tax history runs through Albany, where Democrats in 2018 gained solid control of the state senate for the first time in decades. Governor Andrew Cuomo has promised to sign a bill making its way through the legislature that would submit any New Yorker’s state tax returns to Congress, on request from the chairs of any of three revenue-related committees.

The excitement among Democrats is palpable. “We are facing a constitutional showdown,” says State Senator Brad Hoylman, the legislation’s sponsor. “New York, as the home of the president’s state taxes, has a special responsibility to step into the breach.” Assemblywoman Pat Fahy concurs, saying that “we can help hold the president accountable and we will set future precedents for all elected officials, that neither you as a president nor your business interests are above the law.”

Is anyone going to want to run for office under these ‘new’ rules?

The article concludes:

It’s likely that Trump’s pursuers don’t expect to find smoking guns in Trump’s tax returns. Decades in public life, including multiple infamous bankruptcies, have produced no hint of major scandal or criminality. So why should we expect his tax returns—already submitted to the government and scrutinized by forensic professionals with power to arrest—to reveal anything shocking?

Those demanding Trump’s tax returns probably just want to embarrass him by proving old rumors that he isn’t as rich as he pretends to be. For all this effort, though, that would be a weak payoff—especially since the people likely to care about such revelations aren’t Trump voters, anyway.

This is what desperation looks like.

Actions Have Consequences

Most Americans strive to preserve the environment, despite how the more radical environmentalists portray them. The problem occurs when there is a small risk to the environment but a benefit to people.  Anything civilization does will probably incur a small risk to the environment, but benefits and risks need to be weighed carefully. New York State is paying a price for the actions of some of its more radical environmentalists.

Yesterday Hot Air posted an article about some consequences of recent environmental activist victories.

The article reports:

If you know anything about New York in the modern era (both the state and the Big Apple), you’re likely aware that it’s not exactly a friendly landscape for the oil and gas industry. The “Keep it in the ground” crowd has a lot of influence with the Democrats who control the government. That why, back in 2013, when the new Constitution Pipeline was proposed to carry natural gas from Pennsylvania’s rich shale oil fields to New York, activists were able to block the construction despite it already having been approved by federal regulators. Similarly, when National Grid (the local energy consortium) requested an extension to the Williams Co. Transco pipeline, they were also tied up because of the outcry from environmental activists.

Here comes the surprise that nobody could have possibly seen coming. The city and its surrounding downstate region are still expanding with new construction projects, but their energy suppliers have told them that they will not be able to supply natural gas to any new customers because they’re already at capacity.

The article concludes with some interesting irony:

The additional ironic twist to all of this is they don’t even need those long pipelines to begin with. Or at least they wouldn’t need them if they were thinking clearly. The southern section of upstate New York is sitting on some of the richest natural gas deposits in the country in the form of the Marcellus Shale deposits. It’s the same formation delivering all of that natural gas over the border in Pennsylvania. But Andrew Cuomo and his Democratic buddies pushed through a moratorium on any and all natural gas drilling and it’s still in place today.

The state could be producing its own natural gas and supplying New York City more cheaply, but they’re refusing to do it out of spite. And now they’ve outstripped their fuel supply. This entire situation would be hilarious if it weren’t creating such a massive SNAFU for the energy grid.

I guess if you live in New York, you’d better make sure you have a working fireplace that you can cook on. The environmentalists put questionable science over the practical needs of people.

The Supreme Court Will Hear The Case Regarding The Citizenship Question On The Census

Yesterday Breitbart reported that the Supreme Court will hear the case regarding putting a citizenship question on the 2020 Census.

The article details some of the history of the question:

The Enumeration Clause in Article I of the Constitution requires a nationwide census be taken every ten years. The Census Act empowers the head of the Commerce Department to determine what the census will ask, aside from the number of persons residing at every address in the nation. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross decided for the Trump administration that the census will ask each person in the nation next year if that person is a citizen of the United States.

That was a recurring question on census forms until recently. The first census to ask about citizenship was the one conducted in 1820, and the last was 1950. After 1950, the Census Bureau – which is part of the Commerce Department – has continued to ask that question on the “long form” census form that goes to some census-takers, as well as on its yearly questionnaire that goes to a small number of households each year, called the American Community Survey (ACS).

…However, when Ross put that question on the 2020 census, leftwing partisans sued, claiming that inserting this question violates the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). More surprising to many, Judge Jesse Furman of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York agreed, writing a 277-page decision (which is shockingly long) holding that it is illegal to ask about citizenship.

The article explains that the case revolves around the APA:

There are three issues in the case. The first is whether it violates the APA for the census to ask about citizenship. The second is whether courts can look beyond the administrative record to probe the thinking of top-ranking government officials in an APA case. The justices inserted a third issue of their own, asking whether asking that if the APA allows the question, would that question nonetheless violate the Enumeration Clause.

In other words, the case is about whether asking about citizenship violates either federal law or the Constitution, and also whether it is out of bounds to chase down a member of the president’s Cabinet in such lawsuits.

This case has very significant implications. Legislative districting lines for Congress and statehouses are based on census data. Dozens of congressional seats and perhaps hundreds of state seats could shift if states drew lines based on citizenship, instead of total numbers of persons. Some even argue that congressional seats, and with them Electoral College votes for president, could be reallocated among the states based on citizenship data. At minimum, billions of dollars in federal spending is based on census numbers.

The states that will probably lose representatives and electoral college votes if the citizenship questions is on the census are California, New York, Arizona, and possibly New Mexico.

The question to me is whether or not people who are in America but not citizens should have a voice in our government. Would you allow a guest in your house to determine your household budget?

Good Security Matters

The Independent U.K. reported today that police arrested a man in St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York who was carrying two full gas cans, lighter fluid and lighters. The man claimed to be cutting through the cathedral to get to Madison Avenue where his car was out of gas. The police accompanied him to his car and found that it was not out of gas. At that point the man was taken into custody.

The article notes:

The 37-year-old New Jersey man allegedly pulled up in a minivan outside the landmark in Manhattan on Wednesday night, walked around the area, and then returned to the vehicle to retrieve the items, said New York Police Department (NYPD).

“As he enters the cathedral he’s confronted by a cathedral security officer who asks him where he’s going and informs him he can’t proceed into the cathedral carrying these things,” said NYPD deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism John Miller.

“At that point some gasoline apparently spills out onto the floor as he’s turned around.”

Security then raised the alarm with counter-terrorism officers who were standing outside, Mr Miller said. 

It is encouraging to me that there were counter-terrorism officers standing outside.

The article reports:

He added: “It’s hard to say exactly what his intentions were, but I think the totality of circumstances of an individual walking into an iconic location like St Patrick’s Cathedral carrying over four gallons of gasoline, two bottles of lighter fluid and lighters is something that we would have great concern over.”

“It’s hard to say exactly what his intentions were…” Are you kidding me? That has to be the understatement of the year.

At any rate, I suspect that the police and security avoided what might have been a really awful event.

Irony At Its Best

The Trump tax cuts made life a little easier for most Americans. They made life a little more difficult for some middle class and wealthy people in states with high taxes. Oddly enough, many of these states with high taxes are blue states with large populations and huge state budgets. Some of the most affected states were California, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, all reliably blue states. Those states control 116 Electoral College votes and send 106 Representatives to the U.S. House of Representatives (out of 435 total Representatives). Now, after all the complaining that the Trump tax cuts were tax cuts for the rich (which they were not), Democrats want to give the wealthy in high-tax states their tax cuts.

Real Clear Politics posted an article today about the Democrats’ plan.

The article reports:

Democrats often complain that tax cuts primarily benefit “the rich,” but apparently they only think it’s a problem when rich conservatives get a tax break, because they’re outraged that President Trump’s tax cuts scaled back a generous subsidy enjoyed by well-off taxpayers in liberal states.

A key provision of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was a new cap on the so-called State and Local Tax (“SALT”) Deduction, which allows taxpayers to deduct state and local taxes on their federal tax return. This provision forces taxpayers in low-tax states such as Florida and Texas to effectively subsidize those in high-tax states such as New York and California.

For years, blue-state Democrats have been able to raise state income and property taxes far higher than voters might normally tolerate. That’s because the SALT deduction softened the impact for taxpayers in those states, particularly for the rich campaign-donor class. Since the SALT deduction only applies to taxpayers who itemize their returns, its benefits naturally accrue to those in the highest income bracket.

There was previously no limit to how much taxpayers could deduct through SALT, but even though the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act capped the deduction at $10,000, almost 93 percent of American taxpayers will be unaffected. It’s likely that fewer taxpayers will elect to take advantage of SALT, since the law also doubled the standard deduction, but about 11 million of the highest-earning Americans living in high-tax states are seeing their federal income tax liabilities increase.

It’s curious that liberals who criticized Trump so vociferously for “cutting taxes on the wealthy” are so upset by an element of the tax reform plan that merely takes away a tax break enjoyed disproportionately by the wealthy.

The problem here is simple. The Democrats believe that President Trump cut taxes for the rich (which he didn’t), but it was the wrong rich. However, just for the record, since most of the tax burden falls on Americans who are relatively successful, their tax cuts are going to seem larger than those who pay little or no taxes.

The following chart is from a Pew Research article. The figures are from 2015:

People who make over $100,000 (which in some areas of the country is not a lot of spending power) pay over 80% of all income taxes paid. I think we need to reopen the discussion of a flat tax. Everyone needs to have an equal stake in the game.

Did They Plan On A Backlash?

Townhall posted an article today about the consequences of the recent trend in some states to make abortion more available. The idea of aborting babies right up until birth has created a backlash resulting in growth in the pro-life movement.

The article reports:

A recent Marist poll commissioned by the Knights of Columbus shows a significant increase just over the past month in the number of Americans who identify as “pro-life.”

The survey found that Americans are now just as likely to identify as “pro-life” (47 percent) as “pro-choice” (47 percent). This is a large increase from a similar survey last month, when another Marist Poll found Americans “more likely to identify as pro-choice than as pro-life by 17 percentage points (55 to 38 percent).”

The poll marks the first time since 2009 that the same amount of Americans identified as “pro-life” as “pro-choice.”

The increase in pro-life identification occurred among Americans under the age of 45 and among Democrats.

The article continues:

Another key finding by Marist was that 80 percent of Americans supported limiting abortion to the first three months of pregnancy, a 5 percent increase in that view since last month’s poll.

“Current proposals that promote late-term abortion have reset the landscape and language on abortion in a pronounced – and very measurable – way,” Carvalho emphasized.

“Arguments in favor of late-term abortion are simply not convincing the American people,” Knights of Columbus CEO Carl Anderson remarked on the findings. “If anything, since these proposals have been unveiled, people are moving noticeably in the pro-life direction. It is now clear that these radical policies are being pursued despite the opposition of the majority of Americans of both parties.”

This trend is going to force Democrat candidates to choose between campaign money from Planned Parenthood PAC’s and actual voters. We should see that choice being made during the next year. Watch for members of Congress who realize the significance of these poll numbers to begin to distance themselves from the extreme position on abortion expressed in the New York law and attempted by the Virginia legislature. Other states are following suit on liberal election laws. It will be interesting to see how these new laws impact the election of state governors and legislators.

Most People Got Bigger Tax Refunds This Year Than Last Year

Yesterday Hot Air posted an article about this year’s tax refunds. The article was in response to a Washington Post article claiming that people were getting lower tax refunds this year than last year.

The article at Hot Air pointed out a number of things that might result in getting a smaller tax refund:

But since we have to play this game, let’s figure out why your refund is smaller. Did you get a raise or a significant bonus last year? Did you perhaps start a new job that pays more? Were there any other major changes in your financial situation? Tax filing company Intuit has a list of possible explanations you could look for. They include things such as your filing status changing, the selling of assets or the possibility that you were hit with a penalty.

There will be a small number of people who lost out on part of their SALT (state and local tax) deductions, but that should really only have a significant impact on people in high-tax states like New York who are earning well into six figures. As for everyone else, if your income went up, did you adjust your withholdings accordingly? If not, perhaps you need to have a chat with an accountant.

The article also reminds us that a tax refund is a refund of the money that you gave to the government during the year. You allowed them to have that money interest free until you filed your tax return and they were obligated to give the money back to you. Ideally, your tax refund should be small–that means that you correctly calculated the amount of money you actually owed the government. The question is not how big your tax refund is–the question is how much money you actually paid in taxes. The size of your tax refund is simply a reflection of how much money the government took from you during the year.

A Sobering Thought

Yesterday The Daily Caller reported:

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill Tuesday night, expanding abortion access and codifying a woman’s right to abort under state law.

Cuomo, a Democrat, signed the Reproductive Health Act on the 46th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, making good on his promise to add abortion protections to the state constitution, according to the New York Post.

Roe v. Wade gave women the constitutional right to an abortion under the 14th Amendment on Jan. 22, 1973. The ruling extended the right to abort up to the point of fetal “viability,” a slippery term that continues to foster debate as neonatal care advances.

The bill codified a woman’s right to abort under state law and removes abortion from New York’s criminal code.

The bill will also allow women to have abortions after 24 weeks in cases where “there is an absence of fetal viability, or at any time when necessary to protect a patient’s life or health,” according to the legislation. Nurse practitioners, physicians’ assistants and qualified health care professionals can provide abortions under the legislation.

Meanwhile, CNS News reported:

Last Thursday, Jan. 17, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stated that undercover video footage filmed by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), which showed Planned Parenthood employees discussing the sale of tissue from aborted fetuses, was “authentic” and “not deceptively edited.”

The federal appeals court also vacated an injunction by a district court, which had barred the Texas Health and Human Services Commission’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) from terminating Medicaid provider agreements with Planned Parenthood affiliates throughout Texas. The federal appeals court sent the case back to the district court.

…In 2015, the CMP, a pro-life organization, released several hours of undercover video footage that showed employees and doctors from various Planned Parenthood affiliates discussing potential research partnerships with individuals who expressed interest in obtaining body parts of fetuses aborted during the second trimester of pregnancy and paying a handling and shipping fee for those parts.

After the footage was released, the OIG sent Planned Parenthood affiliates a notice of termination of their Medicaid agreements. The OIG argued that the affiliates had violated “accepted medical standards, as reflected in federal and state law,” and were no longer “qualified to provide medical services in a professionally competent, safe, legal and ethical manner.”

The article at CNS News concludes:

CMP founder David Daleiden wrote that the court’s decision “vindicated” the CMP’s “citizen journalism work” by “debunking Planned Parenthood’s smear that the videos were ‘heavily edited’ or ‘doctored.’”

“Now, it is time for the U.S. Department of Justice to do its job and hold Planned Parenthood accountable to the law,” Daleiden added.

Since the videos were released in 2015, Planned Parenthood has claimed CMP’s footage was heavily and deceptively edited. Many mainstream news outlets have reported that the footage was altered or distorted, using, as the basis for these claims, a Fusion GPS report that was commissioned and funded by Planned Parenthood.

It’s amazing how the same names keep coming up.

In April 2016, Life News reported:

On average, Planned Parenthood receives approximately $500 million a year in taxpayer funds, as a GAO report indicated last year.

Theoretically, this money does not pay for abortions.

In September 2018l Live Action reported:

Taxpayer-funded abortion corporation Planned Parenthood has announced its political arms are joining other “progressive” groups to invest an “unprecedented” $30 million to influence who is elected to key state and federal offices in the 2018 midterm elections.

Does anyone else object to the idea that an organization that takes money from the federal government contributes to political campaigns?

 

Choosing Winners And Losers

Fox5 is reporting today that Amazon has decided to open two new facilities–one in Alexandria, Virginia, and one in Long Island City, New York.

The article reports:

New York state is kicking in more than $1.5 billion in taxpayer-funded incentives for getting half of Amazon’s second headquarters located in a section of Queens.

The Seattle-based company made its long-awaited announcement Tuesday, saying Long Island City and Alexandria, Virginia, will each get 25,000 jobs. The online retailer also said it will open an operations hub in Nashville, creating 5,000 jobs.

…New York state’s incentives are nearly triple those of Virginia’s, while Tennessee’s are $102 million.

According to Amazon, the cost per job for New York taxpayers is $48,000, compared to $22,000 for Virginia and $13,000 for Tennessee.

In a statement released by Amazon, Cuomo called the agreement “one of the largest, most competitive economic development investments in U.S. history.”

I have a few questions. How many years will these tax incentives last? Will Amazon leave the state when the incentives end? If each job cost New York taxpayers $48,000, how much do these jobs pay? The company is getting tremendous tax breaks to come to New York and create jobs, can New Yorkers afford the increases in their taxes to pay for those jobs? Wouldn’t it be better to cut taxes for all businesses in New York and make the state more attractive to businesses looking for a place to relocate? Lowering taxes across the board actually increases revenue, choosing winners and losers simply makes people angry.

Now This Begins To Make Sense

Michael Cohen has changed his testimony regarding President Trump a number of times. Either he can’t make up his mind or his memory just isn’t working properly. Or maybe someone has entered the picture that has altered the way Mr. Cohen looks at things.

The DC Whisperer posted an article yesterday that provides some insight into what is going on.

The article reminds us:

Weeks earlier D.C. Whispers warned readers of Lanny Davis’s sudden appearance at the side of former Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen. Mr. Davis is a longtime Clinton operative and as recently as 2016 was helping to manage Hillary Clinton’s presidential run. His longstanding ties to the Clintons affords him strong ties with both the Democrat and Republican establishments, vast D.C. lobbying powers, and media moguls. In short, he is as Deep State as Deep State gets. 

Now he’s using Michael Cohen to add manufactured fuel to the “get President Trump” fire as the Clintons sit back and watch and wait…

Remember Hillary Clinton’s illegal private server troubles that had her staff destroying evidence and lying to the FBI? 99.9% of the population would have faced some very serious charges for those violations. Not Hillary. Then there are the even more serious money laundering allegations tied to the Clinton Foundation and again – no formal charges from the government.

And guess who was acting as the mediator between the Clintons’ interests and the FBI and DOJ back in 2015 and 2016?

That’s right – Lanny Davis.

Robert Mueller and Rod Rosenstein, both longtime Deep State operatives, push for an investigation into Michael Cohen. Raids on Cohen’s homes and offices follow. Charges are manufactured. Cohen is isolated, afraid, and eventually, all too willing to do whatever necessary to save himself.

Once again, enter Lanny Davis who takes Cohen by the hand and leads him to a “say anything” plea deal with wording scripted by Clinton and Obama-appointed prosecutors in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. The prosecutor leading the case against Cohen is Robert S. Khuzami whose ties with the Clintons date back to the 1990’s.

Please follow the link to read the entire article. It explains exactly how the deep state is working to protect its interests and keep the swamp that is Washington operating as usual.

The article concludes:

Far-fetched you say? Consider this – Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to non-crimes as they relate to Donald Trump. He has tax issues, fraud issues, but what Davis was most concerned with is the alleged “hush money” payments that Cohen now says were directed by then-candidate Trump in 2016. That is the only legal item that involves the president directly regarding the Cohen plea – and it isn’t a crime. It’s a fake charge but Cohen is playing ball with the prosecution because of the other charges he is facing. This is how the U.S. government works. It can manufacture anything to go after anyone at any time and no entity has done this more often and more aggressively than the Clinton Crime Syndicate.

Bad Decisions Based On Faulty Premises

There are still some legislators that believe raising taxes increases revenue. Up to a point it does, but only up to a point. At a certain level, increased taxes result in people finding creative ways to avoid those taxes.

Hot Air posted an article yesterday about a proposed tax increase in the Rhode Island 2019 budget. The proposal would levy an 80 percent wholesale tax on all vapor products and related equipment in the state. There was an attempt to include this tax in the Rhode Island 2018 budget, but the attempt failed.

The article reports:

The tax would effectively label electronic nicotine delivery systems as tobacco products, despite containing no actual tobacco. Vaping advocates argue the tax will harm overall public health in the state by cutting off former smokers’ access to vapor products. They also note the proposal will fail to boost state revenues due to diminished sales, coupled with consumers crossing into neighboring states to buy their vapor products.

Rhode Island is a relatively small state–you don’t have to drive too far to cross into another state. That is what people will probably do to avoid this tax.

The article lists the problems with the proposal:

First, these are not tobacco products. The state plans to tax them under the same category, despite the fact that there is no tobacco involved in the process. Further, the tax applies to the equipment used to “vape” the liquid nicotine. Compare that to the tax system applied to tobacco. Even the worst sin taxing states haven’t tried applying that sort of a penalty to buying a pipe.

Next, as noted above, the damage to the nascent vaping industry will be epic just as it was in Pennsylvania when they instituted a 40% tax. After the tax went into effect, more than one hundred new businesses shut down just in the greater Philadelphia region.

In terms of health, not only will this likely push people who managed to quit cigarettes by switching to vaping back to tobacco, but new vapers who have probably developed a habit may feel compelled to go try smoking cigarettes for the first time. Rather than allowing this new technology to continue to help people quit smoking, a tax such as this will likely lead to the opposite effect, creating a new generation of smokers who find it more economically practical to light up rather than vape.

And finally, in terms of raising revenue for the state, this scheme never works. Every time states push for a big new sin tax on tobacco it blows up in their face and that’s what going to happen to a vaping tax as well. In 2016, New York State actually lost a half billion dollars in tax revenue on tobacco rather than seeing an increase.

This is a picture of the Laffer Curve:

The Laffer Curve is simply a representation of how human nature responds to increased taxes. When taxes reach a certain point, people begin to look for ways to avoid them, and tax revenue goes down. That is exactly what will happen if the tax on vapor products and equipment in Rhode Island becomes law. People will make the trip to neighboring states rather than pay the increased tax. As an unintended consequence, the vaping industry in Rhode Island will be destroyed, and more people will make the trip to Foxwoods to buy cigarettes to avoid the cigarette tax.

The Numbers Behind The Conclusions

Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial today about the mathematics and science between the claims of global warming. The title of the editorial is, “The Stunning Statistical Fraud Behind The Global Warming Scare.”

The editorial points out:

NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) has made repeated “adjustments” to its data, for the presumed scientific reason of making the data sets more accurate.

Nothing wrong with that. Except, all their changes point to one thing — lowering previously measured temperatures to show cooler weather in the past, and raising more recent temperatures to show warming in the recent present.

This creates a data illusion of ever-rising temperatures to match the increase in CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere since the mid-1800s, which global warming advocates say is a cause-and-effect relationship. The more CO2, the more warming.

The editorial includes some examples of how NOAA has altered temperatures to conform to their theory:

This winter, for instance, as measured by temperature in city after city  and by snow-storm severity, has been one of the coldest on record in the Northeast.

But after the NOAA’s wizards finished with the data, it was merely about average.

Climate analyst Paul Homewood notes for instance that in New York state, measured temperatures this year were 2.7 degrees or more colder than in 1943. Not to NOAA. Its data show temperatures this year as 0.9 degrees cooler than the actual data in 1943.

…By the way, a similar result occurred after the brutally cold 2013-2014 winter in New York. It was simply adjusted away. Do this year after year, and with the goal of radically altering the temperature record to fit the global warming narrative, and you have what amounts to climate fraud.

“Clearly NOAA’s highly homogenized and adjusted version of the Central Lakes temperature record bears no resemblance at all the the actual station data,” writes Homewood. “And if this one division is so badly in error, what confidence can there be that the rest of the U.S. is any better?”

That’s the big question. And for those who think that government officials don’t have political, cultural or other agendas, that’s naivete of the highest sort. They do.

Since the official government mantra for all of the bureaucracies at least since the Clinton era is that CO2 production is an evil that inevitably leads to runaway global warming, those who toil in the bureaucracies’ statistical sweat shops know that their careers and future funding depend on having the politically correct answers — not the scientifically correct ones.

Who would have thought that research into climate science has reached the point where it is simply about money.

More Taxpayers Voting With Their Feet

The Washington Free Beacon posted a story today about migration within the United States. The states that lost the most population in 2017 were Illinois, New Jersey, and New York.

The article reports:

United Van Lines, which tracks state-to-state migration patterns, found that Illinois was the top state for outbound migration with 63 percent of moves going out of state.

“The Northeast continues to experience a moving deficit with New Jersey (63 percent outbound), New York (61 percent) and Connecticut (57 percent) making the list of top outbound states for the third consecutive year,” the report states. “Massachusetts (56 percent) also joined the top outbound list this year.”

The other states that led the nation for the highest outbound migration were Kansas, Ohio, Kentucky, Utah, and Wisconsin.

It is interesting that the top four states are controlled by the Democratic party and have high taxes (also cold weather).

The states that grew in population were also listed in the article:

The 10 states with the highest inbound migration were Vermont, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, South Dakota, Washington, South Carolina, North Carolina, Colorado, and Alabama. The data find that more Americans are moving to the Mountain West and the South.

The article concludes:

According to the Tax Foundation, there is a relationship between taxes and migration.

“Individuals move for a variety of factors,” the group states. “Climate, job opportunities, family, among others, impact the decision to relocate. Taxes can influence the decision too.”

“Tax rates and structure affect a state’s economy; states with less burdensome tax structures and lower rates tend to have better economic growth,” the foundation explains. “Increased job opportunities can result from the better economic growth.”

“Someone moving to Chicago for a new job could decide to live in Illinois or commute from Indiana,” the group says. “Indiana’s 3.3 percent individual income tax rate could be an encouragement to locate in that state over Illinois’ 3.75 percent rate. An individual moving to the Washington, D.C., area could decide to live in Virginia instead of the District because income taxes are lower.”

As more people leave the higher-tax states, the tax burden on the people remaining will increase. That is going to create situations like Detroit, where people simply leave their homes because they can’t afford the taxes. In some of these high-tax states, elderly people on fixed incomes are being forced out of their homes because they cannot afford the taxes.

Voting with your feet is a great idea as long as the people moving to lower-tax states don’t bring their high-tax ideas with them.

The Definition Of Serendipity

Serendipity means a “fortunate or happy unplanned coincidence”. We may be seeing an example of that concept in one of the unintended consequences of the recently passed tax bill.

Yesterday the Associated Press reported the following:

In New Jersey and California, top Democratic officials want to let people make charitable contributions to the state instead of paying certain taxes. In Connecticut and New York, officials are exploring a switch from income taxes to new ones on payroll. A few governors have even called for tax cuts.

The ideas are bubbling up as state lawmakers begin their 2018 sessions and assess the effects of the Republican tax overhaul that President Donald Trump signed into law last month. Lawmakers and governors in some states are grappling with how to protect their constituents.

Loosely translated this is what is happening as a result of the fact that states with low state taxes will no longer be subsidizing states with high state taxes. Under the current plan, if your real estate taxes were $20,000 a year, which is not unusual in New York, Connecticut, New Jersey or California, you knew you could deduct them on your federal income tax, so it really wasn’t that important to you. Now those deductions will be limited to $10,000 and you will still have to pay the balance to your state.

No one likes it when their gravy train is cut off.

The article further reports:

This week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo used his state-of-the-state speech to pledge to sue over the GOP tax plan, which he called “an assault” by the federal government. A lawsuit would add taxes to the growing list of Trump administration policies that Democratic states have challenged in court.

Other states have not committed to sue, but some leaders have indicated they’ll explore the idea.

“I’m certainly not a constitutional lawyer, but the notion that this is not constitutional is something we want to pursue,” said Phil Murphy, New Jersey’s Democratic governor-elect.

Officials in California and Connecticut also said this week they were considering legal options.

In high-tax states, officials have been focused on protecting taxpayers from the impact of a new $10,000 cap on deductions for paying state and local taxes. In California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York, more than one-third of tax filers claim the state and local tax deduction on federal taxes; the average deduction in each state is over $15,000.

The Constitution gives Congress the right to levy taxes. Good luck with your lawsuit.

It is remotely possible that fiscal responsibility may be forced on some of our high-taxed states. When you consider that the Founding Fathers saw each state as a laboratory to experiment with unique ideas, it becomes obvious that some states did better than others in controlling expenses. Those states which controlled expenses have been subsidizing those that spent wildly for years. It is nice that things are changing. Now the governments of those states who have overspent need to change.

Where Are People Going?

Yesterday The Daily Caller posted an article citing the statistics of where Americans are relocating. The article leaves me wondering if liberalism is so wonderful, why are Americans leaving the most liberal states:

The article reports:

Three Democratic-leaning states hemorrhaged hundreds of thousands of people in 2016 and 2017 as crime, high taxes and, in some cases, crummy weather had residents seeking greener pastures elsewhere.

The exodus of residents was most pronounced in New York, which saw about 190,000 people leave the state between July 1, 2016 and July 1, 2017, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released last week.

…Despite the massive domestic out-migration flow, New York’s net population grew slightly, largely due to high levels of international immigration and a so-called “natural increase” — the difference between births and deaths in a given year. New York’s net migration was about minus 60,000 residents, but the state had 73,000 more births than deaths, resulting in a net population growth of about 13,000.

 Illinois was not so fortunate. Long-beset by twin budget and pension crises and the erosion of its tax base, Illinois lost so many residents that it dropped from the fifth to the sixth-most populous state in 2017, losing its previous spot to Pennsylvania.

Just under 115,000 Illinois residents decamped for other states between July 2016 and July 2017. Since 2010, the Land of Lincoln has lost about 650,000 residents to other states on net, equal to the combined population of the state’s four largest cities other than Chicago, according to the Illinois Policy Institute.

California was the third deep blue state to experience significant domestic out-migration between July 2016 and July 2017, and it couldn’t blame the outflow on retirees searching for a more agreeable climate. About 138,000 residents left the state during that time period, second only to New York.

However, because California was the top receiving state for international migrants, its net migration was actually 27,000. Add to that number a “natural increase” of 214,000 people, and California’s population grew by about just over 240,000, according to the Census Bureau.

The increased migration from other countries into California is a partial explanation of the fact that in recent decades California has gone from a reliably red state to a totally blue state.

All three of these states have high state taxes. Those taxes will no longer be fully deductible under the new tax laws. It will be interesting to see how the new tax laws impact future migration from these states.

I Love This Story

This story is from September, but I love it so much I am posting it anyway.

The New York Post posted an article on September 7 about a Viking skeleton that has been discovered.

The article reports:

The remains of a powerful Viking — long thought to be a man — was in fact a real-life Xena Warrior Princess, a study released Friday reveals.

The lady war boss was buried in the mid-10th century along with deadly weapons and two horses, leading archaeologists and historians to assume she was a man, according to the findings published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

Wrong.

“It’s actually a woman, somewhere over the age of 30 and fairly tall, too, measuring around [5 feet 6 inches] tall,” archaeologist Charlotte Hedenstierna-Jonson of Uppsala University, who conducted the study, told The Local.

And she was likely in charge.

The article concludes:

The Viking grave was first found and excavated by Swedish archaeologist Hjalmar Stolpe in the late 1800s.

But a few years ago, osteologist Anna Kjellström of Stockholm University noticed its skeleton had fine cheekbones and feminine hip bones, researches said.

They conducted DNA analysis and confirmed it was a female.

“This image of the male warrior in a patriarchal society was reinforced by research traditions and contemporary preconceptions. Hence, the biological sex of the individual was taken for granted,” Hedenstierna-Jonson and other researchers wrote in the report.

The research was led by the Stockholm and Uppsala universities.

I love this.

Eliminating A Tax Break That Only Benefits The Rich

The class warfare that surrounds tax reform is bothersome. It’s not constructive and most of the information is false. The reason some tax cuts appear to benefit the rich is that the rich pay 80 percent of the taxes. They are the ones who need tax breaks. However, there is one tax break that generally impacts the rich that may disappear if the tax code is truly reformed.

Yesterday The Daily Signal posted an article about the elimination of the deduction for state and local taxes. The article explains how this deduction impacts the residents of California:

Yes, California has high state income taxes. For instance, the rate for millionaires is 13.3 percent. It’s not insanely lower for the middle class, either: A married couple making $103,000 or more would pay a 9.3 percent rate, and while $103,000 might go far in plenty of areas in the United States, California’s outrageously high housing prices ensure that such a couple wouldn’t have an easy time paying all the bills.

But those Hollywood liberals raking in the big bucks and paying the 13.3 percent rate? Well, they’re not actually paying the 13.3 percent rate, thanks to our current U.S. tax code, which allows deduction for state and local taxes.

Let me explain. Currently, if anyone files taxes with itemized deductions, he can deduct his state and local taxes. In other words, if Joe Random makes $250,000 a year, and pays $26,000 in state and local taxes, and then donates an additional $14,000 to charity annually, he could deduct $40,000 from his salary—and pay federal taxes on only $210,000.

This deduction has big benefits for wealthy Californians. According to The Heritage Foundation’s research, that deduction means the effective tax rate for rich lefties in the Golden State is 8 percent, not 13.3 percent.

Essentially the rest of the country is subsidizing California’s high tax burden.

The article further reports:

Furthermore, for individuals pulling in over $200,000 a year, the average benefit of the state and local tax deduction is $6,296, according to Heritage research. For those making in the range of $40,000 to $50,000, that benefit shrinks to $134.

And it’s not just California whose blue-state government is currently raking in the perks thanks to the tax code.

“Just seven states receive 53 percent of the value of the state and local tax deduction: California, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Connecticut,” write Rachel Greszler, Kevin D. Dayaratna, and Michael Sargent in their upcoming report for The Heritage Foundation.

Why should Americans from red states and lower-tax blue states be subsidizing other states? If states like California want to embrace big government, that’s fine—but they should also have to finance it themselves, not ask for a handout from the rest of the country.

Ending the deduction for state taxes would help make the income tax more equitable for everyone. There will be loud cries from the states it will impact, but it still needs to be done. Hopefully the Republicans will have the courage to do it.