Patterico's Pontifications

4/15/2014

It’s Tax Day!

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:27 pm

[guest post by Dana]

It’s a bit late, but on the West Coast people are still frantically working on their taxes, hoping to beat the deadline.

The Republican National Committee chose Tax Day to announce it is suing the IRS for rebuffing Freedom of Information Act request for documents concerning the agency’s targeting of conservative groups.

“We’re filing this suit because the Obama administration has a responsibility to be transparent and accountable to the American people. The IRS has a legal obligation to answer our inquiry for these records,” said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus. “On Tax Day especially Americans deserve to know whether they can trust the agency to which they’re sending their taxes.

The IRS has delayed turning over the documents for 226 business days.

Also, see where your tax dollars went!

Untitled-1

Major entitlements (Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security) gobbled up 49 percent, while more federal benefits took another 20 percent. These additional “income security” benefits include federal employee retirement and disability, unemployment benefits, and welfare programs such as food and housing assistance. Obamacare spending didn’t really kick in until 2014, so that will show up in next year’s breakdown.

We are reminded how we got here:

Everything changed when the U.S economy crashed in 2008. Job losses and a drop in personal income led many more Americans to rely at least temporarily on government programs to make ends meet.

… But the worst is yet to come: The Congressional Budget Office projects that public debt will reach an economy-crushing 100 percent in less than one generation. Unlike the unpredicted drop in U.S. fiscal health brought about by the recent recession, this time, structural problems are driving the decline.

The federal budget is structured around entitlement programs—and they don’t leave room for much else. Here’s a sobering thought: “The federal government could cease all other operations, including its core constitutional duty to provide for the national defense, and would still end up in a fiscal hole within a generation.”

If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street,
If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat.
If you get too cold I’ll tax the heat,
If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet.
Now my advice for those who die
Declare the pennies on your eyes
‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman
And you’re working for no one but me.

–Dana

Sharyl Attkisson: Other Reporters Are Being Shut Down Just Like I Was

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:17 pm

Sharyl Attkisson announced tonight that she was going to answer a few questions on Twitter. She responded to each one in the same format: a one-word summary of the question, followed by the Twitter handle of the person to whom she was responding, followed by a pithy answer.

I managed to get in one question before she left, and I thought I would share the question and answer with y’all. First my question:

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 8.07.52 PM

and her response:

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 8.08.05 PM

For background, see this post.

There are more stories like hers. Count on it.

VP Joe Biden Gives Rousing Speech in Boston

Filed under: General — JD @ 3:46 pm

[guest post by JD]

He is just so smart. We are so lucky to have people like him in charge.

RickLeventhalFoxNews ✔ @RickLeventhal
VP Biden: “my god, u have survived & u have soared. it was worth, it was worth it. i mean this sincerely, just to hear each of u speak.”

—JD

Cliven Bundy: Open Thread

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:37 am

I’m busy at work and know nothing about this situation, so let me turn over the mike to John Hinderaker:

First, it must be admitted that legally, Bundy doesn’t have a leg to stand on. The Bureau of Land Management has been charging him grazing fees since the early 1990s, which he has refused to pay. Further, BLM has issued orders limiting the area on which Bundy’s cows can graze and the number that can graze, and Bundy has ignored those directives. As a result, BLM has sued Bundy twice in federal court, and won both cases. In the second, more recent action, Bundy’s defense is that the federal government doesn’t own the land in question and therefore has no authority to regulate grazing. That simply isn’t right; the land, like most of Nevada, is federally owned. Bundy is representing himself, of necessity: no lawyer could make that argument.

That being the case, why does Bundy deserve our sympathy? To begin with, his family has been ranching on the acres at issue since the late 19th century. They and other settlers were induced to come to Nevada in part by the federal government’s promise that they would be able to graze their cattle on adjacent government-owned land. For many years they did so, with no limitations or fees. The Bundy family was ranching in southern Nevada long before the BLM came into existence.

Over the last two or three decades, the Bureau has squeezed the ranchers in southern Nevada by limiting the acres on which their cattle can graze, reducing the number of cattle that can be on federal land, and charging grazing fees for the ever-diminishing privilege. The effect of these restrictions has been to drive the ranchers out of business. Formerly, there were dozens of ranches in the area where Bundy operates. Now, his ranch is the only one. When Bundy refused to pay grazing fees beginning in around 1993, he said something to the effect of, they are supposed to be charging me a fee for managing the land and all they are doing is trying to manage me out of business. Why should I pay them for that?

Bundy appears to be arguing that he need not pay grazing fees because the state never gave the land to the federal government, or something like that. (Hinderaker says that an astonishing 80% of Nevada is federally owned.) Allahpundit’s post on this quotes the Nevada constitution on this point, and it seems to say otherwise:

Third. That the people inhabiting said territory do agree and declare, that they forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within said territory, and that the same shall be and remain at the sole and entire disposition of the United States;

Indeed, the Nevada constitution seems fairly clear and obsequious regarding the point of federal supremacy:

Sec: 2.  Purpose of government; paramount allegiance to United States.  All political power is inherent in the people[.] Government is instituted for the protection, security and benefit of the people; and they have the right to alter or reform the same whenever the public good may require it. But the Paramount Allegiance of every citizen is due to the Federal Government in the exercise of all its Constitutional powers as the same have been or may be defined by the Supreme Court of the United States; and no power exists in the people of this or any other State of the Federal Union to dissolve their connection therewith or perform any act tending to impair[,] subvert, or resist the Supreme Authority of the government of the United States. The Constitution of the United States confers full power on the Federal Government to maintain and Perpetuate its existance [existence], and whensoever any portion of the States, or people thereof attempt to secede from the Federal Union, or forcibly resist the Execution of its laws, the Federal Government may, by warrant of the Constitution, employ armed force in compelling obedience to its Authority.

I think Section 3 provides that the citizens of Nevada will pick up the feds’ dry cleaning whenever needed.

The Nevada constitution was ratified during the War Between the States, if that provides any context for the bowing and scraping evident in the passage above.

Anyway, consider this an open thread on this situation. Maybe commenters who have read about it can shed some light.

To Stigmatize Or Not

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:32 am

[guest by Dana]

Over at The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf posts an interesting and compelling defense of traditional marriage from a self-described 23-year-old African-American college student and a strong Christian who believes in the Biblical definition of marriage. The young woman is tired of critics equating her to an anti-black racist.

Keep in mind that one day this 23-year-old African-American female college graduate might become an executive at a successful company, or perhaps even become the face of the company. Should there be an expectation for her to step down? Are we at the point where a person of faith (resulting in a now seeming unacceptable moral view), should be disqualified from professional advancement? Should there be a political and moral vetting done *before* any advancement or promotion to the executive level …just to make sure? Would an African-American woman be accused of bigotry in this situation? Should society stigmatize her as a bigot and punish her professionally for her expressed views and beliefs?

I realize the general issue was discussed on Patterico’s Mozilla thread, however, because I found the young woman’s correspondence so compelling in its thought and clarity, I wanted to share it with readers.

Personal opinion: I am not in favor of gay marriage. There are a lot of people who do support it, and I have read and heard their opinions so many times. I am aware of the fact that many of them think that if someone does not approve of gay marriage, that means they are a bigoted person who hates anyone who is different from them. This is a gigantic misconception and it’s absolutely crucial that this misconception is erased, because it’s overwhelming. Sure, there are some traditional marriage supporters who do dislike gay people. They imagine the idea of themselves kissing a person of the same sex, and that’s gross to them because they don’t have those attractions, so they see gay people and automatically think “gross,” “strange,” etc. I wish they would calm down with the knee-jerk reaction and understand that gay people are not some kind of strange, alternate, not-quite-human species. Gay people are just people. I don’t see gay people as different; I see them as fellow human beings who happen to have different feelings and different opinions than I have.

“Opinions” is key there. It’s not just that gay people have different feelings of attraction. They also have different opinions than I have on what marriage is and where it came from. Gay people, and straight people who support gay marriage, believe that marriage is something created by humankind. Government does play a big role in marriage, after all. (And like I said earlier, I’m not sure that’s a good idea.) However, I have a different opinion. I believe that God, who created all people, has His own intention for what marriage is supposed to be. I believe He deliberately created two inherently different, non-interchangeable types of humans so that one of each could permanently join together and start a family. In both Testaments, the Bible mentions that homosexual behavior is a sin- and in more places than I have room to mention, the Bible shows pictures of marriage, romance, and sex as things that are all wrapped up in God’s amazing design … and His design was intended for couples made up of one of each sex. My point is that when I say I am not in favor of gay marriage, I’m not trying to create my own definition of marriage based on what I do and do not think is “gross,” and based on which groups of people I do or do not “hate.” All of that is a misconception. The reality is that I am trying to show others God’s picture.

When I say “homosexual behavior is a sin,” people who react with “that’s hateful” don’t understand what sin is and why it’s important to speak out against it. My belief is that sin is anything that goes against God’s design and His rules. People who don’t believe in sin obviously do not see anything wrong with homosexual behavior and they don’t know why people like me speak out against it, so their reasoning is that what I say must come from hatred.

But if I hated all sinners, I’d hate myself.

There are lots of sins that exist, and in fact, everyone in the whole world has sinned. When either side of the gay marriage debate focuses only on homosexuality, they miss the bigger picture. I hope that non-Christians understand that the reason we Christians openly voice our opposition to sin is that our desire to be forgiven of our own sins is the reason we became Christians in the first place. We see sin as something that separates us from God, and we see Jesus as the one who took the punishment for our sins and saved us.

We can’t be silent about that; we must tell other people. We can’t explain who Jesus is and why His death is so important without also explaining what sin is.

Everyone sins. Everyone has an innate desire to sin, unfortunately. Some people’s innate desire is for homosexuality. I understand when gay people say that they can’t help having those feelings. I understand that hearing “you can change if you pray and try hard over time” is extremely difficult. Maybe we Christians haven’t talked enough about how we believe that everyone is a work in progress, including ourselves. Whoever chooses to believe in the Biblical definition of sin is choosing a sometimes difficult life of putting God ahead of themselves and their own desires.

I don’t want to give the impression that it’s only gay people who must learn to control their desires, and straight people are okay. I’m sorry for all the times that Christians have given that impression. Like I said before, I see gay people as people. They are just people who sin in a different way than I do.

My beliefs don’t come from hatred and an arrogant desire to feel superior. And many traditional marriage supporters have beliefs similar to mine. Yes, there are hateful traditional marriage supporters, but there are also traditional supporters who sincerely do not hate at all. Yes, we try to convince others to believe what we believe, but that’s because our beliefs are so important to us that we feel it would be wrong and clique-like to keep them only to ourselves. I wish that more gay marriage supporters would not automatically think of us as “hateful bigots” who are trying to “brainwash” other people into believing what we believe simply for the sake of becoming one of us, to add to our numbers and to make us feel superior. It’s not about us.

It’s about God.

I’m not trying to be mean to gay people. I instead want to reach out to gay people, and all other people. Let’s agree to talk to each other politely, and respectfully disagree about our different beliefs.

–Dana


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