When Facts Get In The Way

Just the News posted an article yesterday dealing with presidential candidate Joe Biden’s claims about President Trump’s response to the coronavirus.

The article reports:

As Democrats and their presidential nominee Joe Biden gear up to attack the president’s response to COVID-19, they must grapple with a harsh reality: a third of all U.S. coronavirus deaths occurred in just three states controlled exclusively by Democrats.

Biden has sharply criticized Trump’s handling of the pandemic since the first case was confirmed in the U.S. in late January. The Democratic presidential candidate claimed last week that Trump has allowed the disease to ravage the country and kill more than 170,000 citizens.

“Just judge this president on the facts,” Biden said during his acceptance speech during the Democratic National Convention. “Five million Americans infected with COVID-19. More than 170,000 Americans have died. By far the worst performance of any nation on Earth.”

The article notes two important aspects of that number:

Biden’s assessment is only partly factual. The U.S. has indeed recorded the highest total number of COVID-19 deaths in the world, but adjusted for population the nation falls to number 10, behind numerous countries in Europe and South America, including the United Kingdsom and Spain.

Perhaps more notably, more than a third of the American deaths Biden cited have occurred in the Democrat-run states of New York, New Jersey and California.

The article concludes:

A range of policies appear to have had varied effects elsewhere. California, another Democratic stronghold, has also been under strict lockdown measures for months, and its adjusted death rate is comparatively low at number 28 in the nation. South Dakota, whose Republican governor has famously refused to institute the lockdown measures of most other states, is even better at number 39.

As November approaches, Biden may continue to criticize the U.S. as having “the worst performance” of any country worldwide, with the blame laid at the feet of the current Republican administration. Democratic-run New Jersey and New York’s respective adjusted death tolls, meanwhile, both remain roughly three times the national average.

One things the article does not mention is the fact that Governor Cuomo of New York sent infected patients into nursing homes. That fact alone resulted in huge numbers of virus deaths. I am hopeful that many Americans will see through the false claims of Joe Biden. Our future depends on it.

Upholding The Constitution

The New York Post is reporting today that the Supreme Court has ruled that Presidential electors must cast their votes for the person who won the majority of the votes in their state.

The article reports:

The ruling, just under four months before the 2020 election, leaves in place laws in 32 states and the District of Columbia that bind their share of the 538 electors to vote for the states’ popular-vote winner.

The states’ Electors almost always do so anyway.

The unanimous decision in the “faithless elector” case was a defeat for those who want to change the Electoral College, and who believed a win would lead to presidential elections based on the popular or total number of votes.

But it was a win for state election officials who feared that giving more power to electors to make their own choice would cause chaos — and even lead to attempted bribery.

Justice Elena Kagan wrote for the court that a state may instruct “electors that they have no ground for reversing the vote of millions of its citizens. That direction accords with the Constitution — as well as with the trust of a Nation that here, We the People rule.”

The justices had scheduled arguments for the spring so they could resolve the issue before the election, rather than amid a potential political crisis after the country votes.

This was a unanimous decision. When was the last time all the justices on the Supreme Court agreed on anything?

This decision makes sense if you understand the purpose of the Electoral College. The Electoral College was put in place by our Founding Fathers so that a group of densely populated states would not be able to elect a President without the support of less populated states. Without the Electoral College, New York, California, New Jersey, and Connecticut would elect our President. Smaller states would never see a candidate, nor would their votes count. That is what the Electoral College was put in place to prevent.

This Should Be An Interesting House Race

Hot Air posted an article yesterday about one of the Democrat candidates for the 2nd U.S House district in New Jersey. The person currently holding this seat is Representative Jeff Van Drew, who recently switched from Democrat to Republican. The Democrat candidate is Amy Kennedy, ex-wife of former Representative Patrick Kennedy (son of Ted). Patrick Kennedy represented Rhode Island from 1995 to 2011. Patrick Kennedy has confessed to struggling with alcohol and has worked to combat drug addiction since leaving the House of Representatives.

The article reports:

Amy Kennedy released a video announcing her candidacy Monday.

What I see in that video is a candidate who knows exactly who she needs to win over to get elected – other women. She goes straight to our “moral compass” with a photo of Van Drew and Trump. She includes the soccer mom lingo of showing kindness, treat others with respect, and show compassion. All of this is heard in every household with kids every day. Then she pivots to the economy. She says people in south Jersey can’t find jobs. According to this chart, unemployment is higher in south New Jersey than the northern part of the state where it is more industrialized. The ‘richest corporations” she references are located further north. South New Jersey is more rural and always has been. Back in my college days, my first roommate was from Bridgeton. Her family owned a farm and her parents were active Republicans. In other words, it is traditionally a conservative part of New Jersey. Apparently, Kennedy thinks that inserting some far-left class warfare into the race is the way to go.

She speaks to the deregulation of the energy industry and mentions climate change. She’s really checking off all the boxes, isn’t she? She goes on to mention the mental health and addiction epidemic, too. “We continue to ignore the biggest public health emergency of our time — the mental health and addiction crisis that affects virtually every family.” Well, at least she didn’t succumb to the opinion of the most woke among us and say that climate change is the biggest emergency of our time. That will probably come later.

The video overall will certainly appeal to the audience for which she strives. She’s a former teacher and the mother of five. She’s the mom next door. She can fight the patriarchy and the bad Orange Man without breaking a sweat. Liberal voters are not prone to hold Kennedys morally accountable as they do conservatives. Conservatives see the irony of a Kennedy lecturing about the loss of morality in public life but liberals do not. We only have to look to the career of her father-in-law to see that.

It will be interesting to see how the voters of New Jersey react to Representative Jeff Van Drew’s decision to become a Republican and how they react to the candidacy of Amy Kennedy.

Seeing The Danger

The Daily Caller is reporting today that Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS),  has ordered a review of state laws that allow illegal aliens to obtain driver’s licenses and restrict data sharing with federal immigration authorities.

The article reports:

The memo follows implementation of New York’s “Green Light” law, and passage of a similar bill in New Jersey in December. Both laws not only allow illegal aliens to obtain driver’s licenses, but also restrict DMV data from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other agencies within the Department of Homeland Security.

The allowing of illegal aliens to obtain driver’s licenses combined with the 1993 Motor Voter Law is an invitation to voter fraud. That is one of many reasons why the trend of allowing illegal aliens to obtain driver’s licenses needs to be reevaluated. The idea of states not cooperating with the federal government on issues of national security also needs to be examined.

The article concludes:

The memo also directs agencies to seek solutions for any security consequences that arise from the state laws.

“Never before in our history have we seen politicians make such rash and dangerous decisions to end all communication and cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security law enforcement,” Swift continued. “The Secretary is prepared to take every measure necessary to ensure the safety and security of the homeland and we look forward to the recommendations of our agents and officers in the field.”

These laws need to be struck down as soon as possible. Technically the states have the right to pass any laws they choose that do not violate the Constitution, but it is possible that the issue of national security may allow for these laws to be changed.

Insanity Made Legal

An article at New Jersey News 12 updated on December 23 reported that New Jersey birth certificates will now include a third, non-binary label come February 1.

The article reports:

Gov. Phil Murphy signed the Babs Siperstein Bill into law last July.

The new legislation gives parents the option of choosing a gender-neutral or non-binary identity on their child’s birth certificate. It also allows adults to change the gender marker on their birth and death certificates, without proof of reassignment surgery.

“Just because your sex assigned at birth is one thing, it does not necessarily mean that it is something that’s going to be consistent with your gender identity throughout your life,” says Ashley Chiappano with the group Garden State Equality.

I would like to remind Ms. Chiappano that the sex assigned at birth is not randomly assigned–it is based on visible biological, scientific information.

The article concludes:

Chiappano says that there is a difference between sex and gender.

“Sex is more like a label. When we’re talking about sex, this is assignment by a doctor,” she says. “Gender identity goes even further to say that it’s how you feel on the inside and how you express yourself. It’s how you express yourself through your clothing, your behavior, your personal appearance.”

The new law is named after Edison resident Babs Siperstein, the first elected transgender member of the Democratic National Committee in 2012.

New Jersey joins Oregon, California and Washington, which have all approved similar legislation. New York City also just changed birth certificates to be gender neutral.

I totally reject the idea that sex is assigned by a doctor. It is designated on the basis of visual evidence. It is becoming obvious that in several states the inmates have taken over the asylum.

A Great Idea!

NewJersey.com is reporting that Island Beach State Park is accepting old Christmas trees (without lights or decorations) on Jan. 4 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the A-23 parking lot. The trees will be used to protect the sands from erosion.

The article reports:

The old timber will protect the sands from erosion, and you’ll also avoid having to drag your tree to the side of the road, hoping it gets picked up.

Trees at the Shore can aid and improve the dune systems on the beaches by forming sand and soil erosion barriers, capturing sand that is pushed by northeasterly winds, staff said.

Staff will be onsite to help those donating their trees. For further information about the collection, contact Island Beach Nature Programs at 732-793-1315.

What a wonderful idea.

That is an idea that is also being put to use locally. If you live anywhere near the coast, please contact your town or county to see if they have a similar program. Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Dorian caused major beach erosion along the North Carolina coast, and we need to work on restoring the damaged sand dunes.

The Threat Is Still There

Yesterday NJ.com posted an article about Alexei Saab, 42, of Morristown, New Jersey, who was also known as Ali Hassan Saab, Alex Saab, and Rachid. Mr. Saab has been arrested for offenses related to his support of Hezbollah. He has been in custody since July.

The article reports:

A LinkedIn page identifies Saab as the director of information technology at a Morristown energy firm, which said he was terminated in July, but would not say why. He was also listed as an adjunct lecturer at Baruch College. Officials there did not immediately return calls for comment.

But the 33-page federal criminal complaint unsealed in New York on Thursday, replete with photos and diagrams purportedly collected as part of his alleged intelligence gathering mission, outlined a long-running operation that began long before he swore allegiance to the United States, and continued for years.

“Even though Saab was a naturalized American citizen, his true allegiance was to Hezbollah, the terrorist organization responsible for decades of terrorist attacks that have killed hundreds,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman.

The article also notes:

Earlier this year, a federal court in New York convicted Ali Kourani, 34, a Lebanese-born U.S. citizen of charges that he bought weapons and plotted attacks in the city on behalf of Hezbollah. He was said to be surveying targets that included JFK International Airport and a federal building in Manhattan.

Cohen said with the current escalation of tensions with Iran, it is not surprising that the Federal Bureau of Investigation would be taking a hard look at known Hezbollah operatives and networks in the US “and if warranted, taking aggressive enforcement action.”

The article concludes:

While the U.S. Attorney’s office said Saab was a Morristown resident, records only show a Morristown post office box, listed as his residence for his voter registration. At two other addresses in Jersey City associated with Saab in public records, there was no answer when a reporter knocked on the doors. Several living in the neighborhood said they did not know him.

The charges against Saab include providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization, conspiracy, receiving military-type training from a foreign terrorist organization, unlawful procurement of citizenship to facilitate international terrorism and citizenship application fraud.

Hezbollah is funded by Iran. Much of the money paid to Iran in the Iran deal brokered by President Obama has gone to various terrorist groups. Iran is one of those groups. For further information on the behind-the-scenes strategy that sold the Iran deal, see the following article posted on May 10, 2016. The article cites a New York Times interview of Ben Rhodes, the former creative writer who worked in the Obama administration to sell foreign policy to journalists and thus to the American public.

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.

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.

Toll Wars

We occasionally drive north to visit grandchildren (and their parents). It’s a great drive through Delaware (and sometimes even into central New Jersey), but when you get near New York City, it’s a mess. At one point it took us three hours to go from the Brooklyn side of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge to the middle of Long Island. Traffic in and around New York City is always a mess. So what is the solution?

One America News Network posted an article today about one ridiculous idea.

The article reports:

A mayor in New Jersey is suggesting a commuter tax on New York City residents in retaliation for the Big Apple imposing fees on drivers coming from his state.

This week, Jersey City mayor Steve Fulop suggested implementing a commuter tax on New York City residents leaving the city. This appears to be a rebuttal to New York approving plans to use automated license plate readers to impose fees on drivers entering Manhattan from New Jersey during rush-hour traffic.

The article concludes:

“We don’t see any incentives there for drivers,” explained Robert Sinclair, spokesman for the American Auto Association. “They’re still punishing their vehicles on bad roads and yet being asked to pay for the bulk of the funding to fix the subways and the commuter railroads.”

Fulop said both states should have a “regional conversation” to work out a long-term transportation agreement.

In the meantime, lawmakers are still working out how much money to tax commuters in New York City, with the policy expected to take affect by 2021.

You can’t force people to take public transportation, but you can make public transportation so attractive, convenient, and affordable that people will want to take it. That might be a better solution.

It Only Matters When It Can Be Weaponized

The political left loves to scream that President Trump has a bad attitude toward women or that Judge Kavanaugh was guilty of sexual assault and should therefore be disqualified as a judge, but how good are they at policing their own. If last night’s election results are any indication, not very good.

Fox News posted an article today reminding us that four of the Democrat candidates who won their elections last night are facing sexual misconduct controversies.

The article reports:

House Reps. Keith Ellison, Tony Cárdenas and Bobby Scott, and Sen. Bob Menendez, all came out victorious on Tuesday, despite being accused of misconduct.

Their election raises questions whether the Democratic Party, which went all-out to stop now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in the face of assault claims and stressed the importance of believing women’s allegations, is selectively tapping into the #MeToo movement.

I guess #MeToo only matters if you are a Republican.

The article includes the names of the candidates and the charges:

Ellison, the deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), was one of the highest-profile candidates who won the election. He became the state attorney general in Minnesota despite allegations of domestic violence.

Karen Monahan, the Democrat’s former girlfriend, alleged that he once dragged her off a bed while shouting profanities and sent multiple abusive text messages. She also published a 2017 medical document that identified Ellison as the abuser who caused “emotional and physical abuse.”

…Cárdenas, a California Democrat, meanwhile, easily cruised to victory in the state’s 29th Congressional District, receiving nearly 80 percent of the vote, while being the subject of a lawsuit claiming he drugged and sexually assaulted a 16-year-old teenager in 2007.

A Los Angeles Superior Court ruled that “a reasonable and meritorious basis” existed for the case to proceed and Cárdenas was publicly identified as the accused person. He denied the accusations.

…Old allegations of misconduct also came back to haunt Menendez, the incumbent New Jersey senator, who won the closer-than-expected race as well.

Republican candidate Bob Hugin revived salacious allegations that Menendez had sex with underage prostitutes during past trips to the Dominican Republic.

…Virginia Democrat Bobby Scott won Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District thanks to nobody challenging him, even after he was accused of sexual misconduct in 2017.

A former Congressional Black Caucus Foundation fellow. M. Reese Everson, claimed that the congressman sexually harassed her in 2013, and that she was fired and blacklisted from further work on Capitol Hill after she refused his advances.

One standard for me, and one standard for thee.

Going Against Conventional Wisdom

Yesterday Breitbart posted an article about a recent study of which states are the wealthiest and which are the poorest. Then Breitbart compared those results with the voting records of the people in those states. The results were surprising.

The article reports:

Democrats paint themselves as the party looking out for the little guy and more interested than Republicans in representing the poor and their best interests.

But according to Ken Fisher, the founder and executive chairman of Fisher Investments, best-selling author and one of the richest men in the United States, a USA Today study released earlier this month that shows the economic profile of all 50 states, ranked by household income, reveals much more.

When Fisher read what he called “a breathtaking economic profile” of the states he found in it something that was “embedded” in it that reveals what he believes is “arguably the greatest unseen political truth of our time.”

This is the surprising correlation:

USA Today headlined its story reporting on its findings: “Wealth in America: Where are the richest and poorest states based on household income?”

But Fisher headlined his commentary about the study published in USA Today on Sunday: “Midterms: Poorest states have Republican legislatures, and richest have Democratic ones.”

“Fathom it, and you will see how politics may unexpectedly affect economics and wealth for years to come,” Fisher wrote.

The article points out that the five richest states have legislatures controlled by Democrats. He doesn’t mention that those states also have some of the highest tax rates in the country. Those states are Maryland, New Jersey, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.  According to an article at Wallet Hub, a website that ranks states according to tax rates, Maryland ranks 44th, New Jersey ranks 47th, Hawaii ranks 51st, Massachusetts ranks 45th, and Connecticut ranks 49th in the list of states with the lowest tax rates. Yes, I know there are not 51 states, but the District of Columbia was included in the list.

I guess you have to move to a state with a legislature controlled by Republicans if you want lower taxes.

The Teardrop Memorial

This is an update of an article that was originally posted on September 11, 2009:

Remembering 911

Above are pictures of the Teardrop Memorial, Russia’s gift to the United States in memory of 911. The monument To the Struggle Against World Terrorism was dedicated on September 11, 2006, by President Clinton.   It is located in Bayonne, New Jersey, at a place where the twin towers were visible.   To read the entire story of the monument and how it came to rest there, please follow the link to 911monument.com.  The website tells the story of what inspired the monument and how it came to be.  I stumbled on this monument in an article at the American Thinker posted on September 7, 2009, and visited the monument when I was in New Jersey for a High School reunion.

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.

We Will Always Need To Protect Our First Amendment

We have elected a President who is less hostile to Christianity than our last President, but that doesn’t mean we can let our guard down as far as protecting our Constitutional rights. On Monday, a website called aleteia.org posted a story about some recent events in Radnor Township, New Jersey, home of Villanova University.

Here is the story:

As part of a $285 million expansion project, Villanova University is erecting a pedestrian bridge that will run over Lancaster Avenue — something the township required for safety reasons to allow safe passage from the campus on one side of the road to the other.

But controversy has ensued over the design of the bridge, specifically the Catholic university’s plan to erect 4-foot, 7-inch metal crosses atop stone pillars on either side of the structure.

Some Radnor Township residents say such an audacious show of religion has no place in a township of many faiths.

“I think they are overstepping their sense of ecumenism to shove these crosses in our faces,” said Sara Pilling, a long-time township resident who lives a couple of blocks from the university.

Villanova officials, however, say the school is well within its right to include the crosses, which will be on school property and which the university will fund.

“On every building on campus there’s a cross,” said the Rev. Peter Donohue, president of Villanova. “I understand people’s sensitivities but it’s just something we’ve always done. It’s just part of who we are. We are a faith-based institution.”

The pedestrian bridge is being constructed on University property with University money. It is a Catholic University.

The article includes an update:

The Radnor Township Board of Commissioners late Monday approved a controversial pedestrian bridge that would link Villanova University’s main campus with a planned expansion on the southern side of Lancaster Avenue.

The 6-0 decision, with board President Elaine P. Schaefer abstaining, came after an hour of debate and discussion over a key element of the bridge’s design: 4-foot, 7-inch metal crosses atop stone pillars on opposite sides of the structure. In the end, the board concluded that it did not have the authority to regulate or prohibit the crosses.

My understanding from the article is that Villanova University is building the pedestrian bridge and paying for the pedestrian bridge. If I were a taxpayer in the town, I think I would just say thank you and not worry about the crosses on the bridge.

People Vote With Their Feet

The Albany Times Union posted a story today about states that are losing population and states that are gaining population.

The article reports:

United Van Lines reported Tuesday that nearly two-thirds of the moves involving New York households were outbound, a higher proportion than any other state except New Jersey and Illinois.

The 2016 National Movers Study by Fenton, Mo.- based United also found that almost 59 percent of the moves within the eastern United States were outbound.

Where were people moving? Mostly to western states and the Carolinas, with one exception. That exception was Vermont, which ranked second on the list of states with the highest proportion  — 67 percent — of inbound moves.

 South Dakota had the highest share of inbound moves, at 68 percent. 

New Jersey and Illinois, like New York, saw outbound moves making up 63 percent of all moves. 

The article also posted another interesting statistic:

In New York, inbound millennials were 27 percent of inbound moves and 19 percent of those moving out. But of those over 65, 26 percent were outbound and 20 percent were inbound.

So what is going on here? Millennials in many cases have limited life experience–they don’t realize how high taxes and high real estate prices will impact their standard of living. Also, many of them are in fields where they could potentially earn a large income, and they are not thinking about how much it costs to live in places like New York. The Carolinas have worked hard in recent years to lower taxes and attract businesses in order to keep the cost of living lower. South Dakota has a booming economy because of the oil industry there. As taxes increase in many northeastern states (as they tend to do under Democratic control), it will be interesting to track the migration of Americans. In recent years we have seen many companies move from California to Texas because of tax issues. It will be interesting to see if that trend continues.

The Experiment Of The States

America is made up of 50 different states. Each state is unique–politically, economically,  geographically, ethnically, etc. So if people could live anywhere they wanted to, where would they live? Actually, the age of the internet has made that somewhat possible–telecommuting has grown in recent years. So let’s look at where people live.

John Hinderaker at Power Line posted an article yesterday about a study of trends in population growth in states within America. The data for the study came from the IRS. The results were not really surprising.

The article reports the findings of the study:

To measure the states that are most attractive to Americans on the move, we developed an “attraction” ratio that measures the number of domestic in-migrants per 100 out-migrants. A state that has a rating of 100 would be perfectly balanced between those leaving and coming.

Overall, the biggest winner — both in absolute numbers and in our ranking — is Texas. In 2014 the Lone Star State posted a remarkable 156 attraction ratio, gaining 229,000 more migrants than it lost, roughly twice as many as went to No. 3 Florida, which clocked an impressive 126.7 attraction ratio.

Most of the top gainers of domestic migrants are low-tax, low-regulation states, including No. 2 South Carolina, with an attraction ratio of 127.3, as well as No. 5 North Dakota, and No. 7 Nevada.

…Overall, many of the most affluent states are the ones hemorrhaging high-income earners the most rapidly. As in overall migration, New York sets the standard, with the highest outmigration of high income earners (defined as annual income over $200,000) relative to in-migrants (attraction ratio: 53). New York is followed closely by Illinois, the District of Columbia and New Jersey, which are all losing the over-$200,000-a-year crowd at a faster pace than California.

The big winners in terms of affluent migration tend to be historically poorer states, mainly in the Sun Belt and the Intermountain West. Florida has an attraction ratio for people earning over $200,000 a year of 223, the highest in the nation, followed by South Carolina, Montana, Idaho and North Carolina.

Given the opportunity, Americans move to states with lower taxes and less regulation over their businesses and daily lives. Now if we could only teach them to vote that way in national elections…

 

Some Details The Mainstream Media Somehow Forgot

Hillary Clinton loves to criticize Donald Trump’s management of his Atlantic City casinos. However, The Wall Street Journal posted an article on Wednesday that gives a more complete picture of exactly what happened there. Evidently Democratic policies in Atlantic City and New Jersey played a major role in the events there.

The article reports:

In 1976 New Jersey voters approved a referendum that legalized gambling in Atlantic City. The constitutional amendment required casino revenues to fund programs for senior citizens and disabled residents, but politicians have instead funneled the cash to favored projects and businesses under the guise of promoting development.

…A 1984 law required casinos to pay 2.5% of gaming revenues to the state or “reinvest” 1.25% in tax-exempt bonds issued by the state Casino Reinvestment Development Authority for state and community “projects that would not attract capital in normal market conditions.” Investment recipients have included Best of Bass Pro shop, Margaritaville and Healthplex.

A decade later, state lawmakers imposed a $1.50 fee (which has since doubled) on casino parking spots to fund Atlantic City transportation, casino construction and a convention center. In 2004 lawmakers added a $3 surcharge for casino hotel stays to finance new hotel rooms and retail establishments, which had the effect of promoting unsustainable commercial and casino development.

As the cost of operating the casinos rose (thanks to the policies of the state–run by the Democrats), other states legalized gambling–Connecticut in 1992 and Pennsylvania in 2004. Atlantic City not only lost its monopoly–but the cost of running the casinos increased significantly.

The article further reports:

Irony alert: Mr. Trump in 1997 sued to block the state’s redistribution of casino income when a competing developer stood to benefit from its investments. However, New Jersey’s liberal Supreme Court ruled that voters should have known that the referendum was actually intended to revitalize Atlantic City tourism, not help seniors.

The article concludes:

Employment in Atlantic City has declined by about 10% over the last decade. Since 2010 the city’s property tax base has shrunk by two thirds. Local politicians raised property taxes by 50% between 2013 and 2014 to compensate for the dwindling tax base, but this has merely deterred new business investment and propelled flight.

Meantime, local politicians have continued to spend like they work for Google. Between 2010 and 2014, expenditures increased by 10% while government debt doubled. The city government spends about $6,600 a year per resident—more than any other city in the state including Newark ($2,344). Its budget exceeds that of nearly half of New Jersey’s counties. Labor costs constitute about 70% of the budget.

Earlier this year, the city emergency manager projected a $393 million cumulative deficit over the next five years absent reforms. More than 100 workers have recently been laid off. In May Democratic legislators and Governor Chris Christie passed a bailout that allows the city to squeeze an additional $120 million out of casinos in revenues annually to compensate for lower property-tax revenue.

To sum up: New Jersey Democrats plundered Atlantic City casinos, redistributed the spoils and loaded up the city with unaffordable levels of debt. The gambling mecca is a five-star example of failed liberal policies.

This sounds like Detroit. This is what we are in for if we put Hillary Clinton in the White House and allow Democratic policies to control our economy. I need to mention that in both Atlantic City and Detroit, had the free market been allowed to operate without union and government interference, the industries involved might have been flexible enough to deal with the competition. Because of government interference (and in the case of Detroit, greedy union bosses), the cities went from prosperous and flourishing to poor and decaying.

Filling A Bottomless Pit

In January of this year, I posted an article entitled, “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie,” relating to a children’s book published in 2013. The basic story line of the book is that if you give a mouse a cookie he will expect milk and other things to go with it. That story had to do with a company in Wisconsin that discovered that whatever concessions you make to a special interest group, they will not be enough. This story has to do with the tax situation in Princeton, New Jersey.

MSM posted a story today about a discussion in Princeton, New Jersey, about whether or not Princeton University should be tax exempt.

The article states:

Free lectures, admission to athletic games and concerts, even shuttles to Trader Joe’s are some of the perks that neighbors of Princeton University get from New Jersey’s only Ivy League school.

A growing number of residents, though, resent the gestures. Riding a national wave of discontent with nonprofit institutions, they’re suing to challenge the tax-exempt status of Princeton, whose $22.7 billion endowment makes it the fourth-richest U.S. university. The outcome could cut homeowners’ annual property taxes, averaging $17,699, by a third. It also could end the freebies that make Princeton a cushy oasis while other New Jersey towns, burdened by high public-worker costs and flat state aid, struggle to maintain basic services.

There are a lot of questions that come to mind after reading this. What is the budget of Princeton, and has anyone considered cutting the budget?

The article further reports:

The university pays its hometown about $8 million in annual levies toward a proposed $61.9 million municipal budget. It kicks in another $3 million voluntarily, a boost for emergency services and public works. The rest, the freebies, make for what the school calls positive town-and-gown relations.

So the tax-exempt University already pays more than 10 percent of the municipal budget, and now the city wants to take away its tax-exempt status. It’s interesting to me that the article cites the worth of the University to support its argument. This is classic redistribution of wealth. Princeton has acquired its wealth honestly. It belongs to Princeton. Now the municipality is trying to figure a way to take what has been rightfully earned away from the entity that earned it and give it to the city, which hasn’t earned it. Maybe it’s time that the City of Princeton redid its budget rather than resorting to legal theft.

Fourteen Years Ago This Was The Night Before Our Lives Changed Forever

As we approach the anniversary of September 11, 2001, I wanted to remember that day with something positive. There was a time in 2006 when America and Russia were at least acting like friends. The story below reflects that time.

Remembering 911

aaaaasespt11This is a picture of the Teardrop Memorial, Russia’s gift to the United States in memory of 911. The monument To the Struggle Against World Terrorism was dedicated on September 11, 2006, by President Clinton.   It is located in Bayonne, New Jersey, at a place where the twin towers were visible.   To read the entire story of the monument and how it came to rest there, please follow the link to 911monument.com.    The website tells the story of what inspired the monument and how it came to be. This is another picture of the monument.    I stumbled on this monument in an article at the American Thinker. I visited the monument a few years ago. It is a sobering sight. You stand at the foot of the monument and look across the river at lower Manhattan to where the twin towers once stood.

911 Monument Dedication Ceremony, Sept. 11, 2006

Any Republican Who Supports This Should Be Voted Out Of Office

The Blaze is reporting today that a group of Republicans and Democrats have proposed legislation to raise the gasoline tax.

The article reports:

“In order to sustain the trust fund in the near-term, the legislation indexes the gas and diesel user fees to inflation — raising roughly $27.5 billion and providing funding for our infrastructure needs for 1.7 years,” they said.

Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio) introduced the Bridge to Sustainable Infrastructure Act with another Republican, Rep. Reid Ribble (Wis.), and two Democrats, Bill Pascrell (N.J.) and Dan Lipinski (Ill.). The bill is the latest attempt to boost the federal highway fund that members say will be empty in the next few months.

The bill again raises the question of whether Republicans will decide it’s time to raise the gas tax, find other sources of new funding, or make cuts to other areas of the federal government. Many Republicans will balk at the idea of raising the gas tax, even as many others see it as a natural way to raise money.

The average American finally gets a break on the cost of gasoline, and Congress immediately plans to mess it up. The gasoline tax impacts lower and middle income families. An increased gasoline tax will probably not make a big difference to those in Congress–there are very few (if any) lower or middle class people in Congress–that is a huge part of the problem.

Any Republican who supports an increase in the gasoline tax should be promptly voted out of office. Massachusetts voters just overturned the idea of indexing gasoline taxes to inflation. American voters should do the same.

A Really Bad Idea–Both Politically and Practically

Yesterday, Bloomberg,com reported that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has released his plan to reform Social Security.

The article reports:

Christie, the 52-year-old Republican governor of New Jersey, called for phasing out retirement payments to those with more than $200,000 a year in other income and smaller reductions for those earning $80,000. Together, he said, the overhaul would save $1 trillion over a decade.

“It is about telling all Americans the truth — and without delay,” he said during a 40-minute speech at St. Anselm College in Manchester. “If you believe we should keep this promise, as I do, that all Americans should have access to the economic security these programs provide, then that costs money.”

Spelling out his plans in detail for the first time, Christie proposed:

— Raising the retirement age for Social Security to 69 from 67, for those born in 1960 or later;

— Raising the age to qualify for Medicare by one month per year until it reaches 67 from the current 65.

— Eliminating payroll taxes for seniors who remain in the workforce.

I have some major problems with this idea. Social Security is deducted from almost everyone’s paycheck from the time they begin work. Federal employees, active duty military (and Congress) are exempt. The money was supposed to be put in a lock box where it could accrue interest and grow to meet the increasing need. In 1965 (or so) that lock box disappeared and the money was used to fund the war in Vietnam and the Great Society programs. Since then it has been used to fund welfare and entitlement programs. Generally speaking, these entitlement programs do not have a work requirement and the people collecting the money do not have to do anything to earn the money they receive. In most states welfare recipients are not drug tested (most working people have to pass a drug test in order to get a job). Social Security is not the place to cut the federal budget–the people collecting it have paid money into it–it is not their fault the government chose to spend the money.

Recently my husband and I took a vacation to Iceland and Wales. In Wales I learned something about giving to people who may be in need. My husband and I volunteered in a restaurant run by a church. In America, it would be similar to a soup kitchen. However, there was something about the restaurant (which served dinner once a week) that impressed me. The meals were not free. There was a small charge for dinner and a somewhat limited menu to choose from. If someone came in who could not pay, they were given a free meal, but generally speaking, a diner paid something for his dinner. Somewhere along the line, we have taught a group of Americans that there is a free lunch. It is time for that to end. We are accomplishing nothing by denying benefits to those who have paid for them and giving benefits to those who are contributing nothing. That is the wrong message to send.

As an afterthought–does anyone really believe that once an income limit is set on receiving Social Security there will be no changes to that limit? Governor Christie’s plan has the potential of turning Social Security into a plan that everyone who works pays into but is only available to those making less than $50,000 a year in retirement. His plan will create another entitlement that everyone who is working pays into and everyone who is not working can collect from.

Somehow This Didn’t Get A Lot Of Coverage

Have you noticed that every time a Republican seems to be a frontrunner for the 2016 Presidential race a scandal, lawsuit, or criminal charge arises? This is not because Republicans are corrupt or because Republicans do unethical things–it is because Democrats understand how to use the courts and the media. A recent example of this is the scandal involving Chris Christie and the closing of lanes on the George Washington Bridge. Remember how much you heard about this when it first became news? Well, now that there is no evidence that Governor Christie had anything to do with the lane closings, how much have you heard?

Fox News recently reported the following:

The U.S. Justice Department probe into the Bridgegate scandal hanging over Chris Christie’s political career has found no evidence so far that he knew of the traffic lane closures in advance, reports said Thursday.

Federal officials opened an investigation nine months ago to determine what the Republican governor might have known about the September 2013 lane shutdowns on the George Washington Bridge, and when.

The probe to date has turned up no evidence Christie had any prior information or directed that lanes be closed for four days, federal sources told WNBC.

Somehow the story just isn’t as important when Governor Christie cannot be blamed.

Media Bias Is Reflected In What You Hear Reported As Well As What You Don’t Hear Reported

John Hinderaker at Power Line posted an article today about a Muslim man who has killed four people in America as an act of retribution for U.S. military action against Muslims in the Middle East. The story was reported in some New York and New Jersey newspapers in August.

On August 21, nj.com reported:

According to court documents filed Wednesday in Washington state, where he is accused of killing three other men, Ali Muhammad Brown said he considered it his mission to murder 19-year-old Brendan Tevlin as an act of “vengeance” for innocent lives lost in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Iran.

“All these lives are taken every single day by America, by this government. So a life for a life,” he told detectives, according to the documents.

…Prosecutors say Brown is a devout Muslim who had become angered by U.S. military intervention in the Islamic world, which he referred to as “evil.” He also referred to drug use as inherently evil.

“During the interview Brown also stated that, as part of his beliefs, if a ‘man sees evil then he must take action against that evil’,” according to court papers.

Essex County authorities have characterized Tevlin’s June 25 murder as a robbery that turned violent when Brown fired 10 shots into the popular college student’s vehicle, which was stopped at a red light at the corner of Walker Road and Northfield Avenue in West Orange.

Why would the authorities characterize Brendan Tevlin’s murder as a robbery when Muhammad Brown told the authorities that he killed Brendan Tevlin and the other men because of his Muslim religion?

The article at Power Line reports:

Brown has a long criminal history that includes a prosecution for conspiracy to commit bank fraud in 2004. Authorities believed that Brown and 13 other men were using the bank fraud scheme to finance terrorist groups overseas, but were never able to prove where the money went, so Brown pled guilty to a single count and was released in 2005. So it is reasonable to infer that he has been a jihadist for a long time.

John Hinderaker at Power Line concludes:

Still, if you didn’t know better, you might think that national news outlets are leery of linking the words “serial killer” and “devout Muslim.” If Brown had told authorities he was a Tea Party member, I am sure we would have heard a lot more about him.

America has always had people who commit crimes and murder people for various reasons. What we have not been dealing with until the past fifteen years is people who live here and feel an obligation to murder Americans in the name of Islam.