Monday, October 23, 2017

More Judicial Over-reach

from the Baltimore Sun
Gov. Larry Hogan called a federal appeals court ruling that a cross-shaped war memorial in Prince George’s County unconstitutional "outrageous" and an "overreach," and vowed that his administration would fight it.

In a social media post, the Republican governor wrote Friday that he has passed by the memorial in Bladensburg known as the Peace Cross thousands of times. He said the 40-foot Latin cross is an "incredible tribute" to veterans.

A divided U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit found Wednesday that the World War I Veterans Memorial “aggrandizes the Latin cross” to the point that an observer would conclude that the government entity that owns and maintains it is endorsing Christianity.

Hogan, who was raised in Prince George’s County, identified himself in his post as “a native Prince Georgian.”

“The idea that memorializing our soldiers killed in battle on foreign lands to make the world safe for democracy is somehow unconstitutional goes against everything we stand for as Americans,” he wrote. “Enough is enough.”

It is not clear what role Hogan's administration would have in the litigation. The cross is owned and maintained by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. The commission was was created by the Maryland General Assembly in 1927, but its board is appointed by Prince George's and Montgomery counties.

Asked whether the governor is seeking an appeal in the case, a Hogan spokeswoman said only that "all options, legal or otherwise, are being considered.”

The decision by the 4th Circuit Court in Richmond, Va., reversed a 2015 District Court ruling. Attorneys defending the cross offered inconsistent information this week about whether they would appeal it.

An attorney for the Texas-based First Liberty Institute, which is representing the American Legion in the case, told The Washington Post that it would appeal to the Supreme Court.

Another attorney for the same group told The Baltimore Sun that lawyers were considering their options. If it decided to challenge the ruling, the group could appeal for an en banc review from the 4th Circuit rather than seeking a hearing in the Supreme Court.

Hogan’s reaction raises the political stakes of the litigation, and could weigh into any decision to appeal. Hogan is up for re-election next year.

Erected in 1925, the cross honors 49 men from Prince George’s County who died in World War I. The structure stands at the intersection of Route 450 and Alternate U.S. 1 on a rectangular base inscribed with the words “valor,” “endurance,” “courage” and “devotion.”

The initial lawsuit challenging the cross was filed by the American Humanist Association, a Washington-based group that advocates for the separation of church and state. The group noted that the cross sits on public land, and the commission had spent $117,000 to maintain and repair it.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Republicanism Jumps the Shark

from The Hill
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) blasted “half-baked, spurious nationalism” in the United States in an emotional speech Monday night after receiving the National Constitution Center’s Liberty Medal.

“To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain 'the last best hope of earth' for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history,” McCain said in the speech.

The Arizona senator said “we live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil” and said Americans “are the custodians of those ideals at home, and their champion abroad.”

“We have done great good in the world. That leadership has had its costs, but we have become incomparably powerful and wealthy as we did,” McCain said.

“We have a moral obligation to continue in our just cause, and we would bring more than shame on ourselves if we don’t. We will not thrive in a world where our leadership and ideals are absent.”

McCain’s remarks came after he was presented the prestigious medal by former Vice President Joe Biden. The Arizona Republican received the award for his “lifetime of sacrifice and service” to the United States.

Past recipients of the Liberty Medal include the Dalai Lama, Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Pakistani human rights activist Malala Yousafzai.

McCain, who was diagnosed with brain cancer in July, served in the Navy for more than two decades and spent years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

The former Republican presidential nominee made headlines earlier this year after casting a dramatic vote against a GOP bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare, killing the legislation.
Sorry Senator McCain. The United States wasn't created so that US Senators could create "injustice" at home in order to attempt "justice" in the rest of the world. We'll settle for "justice" within the United States of America. Better a half-baked loaf of "justice" than none.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Study: 31 percent of Marylanders would pay more under Trump tax plan

from the Baltimore Sun
About 31 percent of Maryland households would pay a higher tax bill and roughly two-thirds would receive a tax cut under a proposal announced by President Donald Trump and Republican leaders in Congress, according to an analysis released Wednesday.

The study, by the left-leaning Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, found 30.5 percent of Marylanders would face an immediate increase — the largest share in the nation — due mostly to the proposal to eliminate the frequently claimed state and local tax deduction.

Nearly 60 percent of Marylanders earning between $73,700 and $126,500 would receive an average tax cut of $1,280, according to the report. Another 41 percent in that income range would receive an average tax increase of $2,200.

Virtually all state residents earning above $657,800 would receive a large cut in taxes.

“What I see here is that this tax plan is incredibly skewed toward the ultrarich,” said Benjamin Orr, executive director of the Maryland Center on Economic Policy. “Most middle class and upper middle class Marylanders would see their taxes go up.”

It’s still a bit early to take any such analysis to the bank, however, because key details are missing from the GOP proposal. It’s not clear what income ranges will be used to define the plan’s proposed three tax brackets. It is also not clear which exemptions will be jettisoned.

Republicans have released only a nine-page memo, not bill text.

While many of the provisions most likely to affect middle class families remain murky, policies affecting the wealthy have been clearer — giving opponents an easy target. The proposal would eliminate the alternative minimum tax, a mechanism created to ensure rich families don’t skirt liability. It would also lower the top-rate for “pass-through” income earned by businesses and claimed on individual returns.

For Maryland, a state with one of the nation’s highest median incomes, the proposed elimination of the state and local tax deduction is among the most discernible impacts now. Forty-five percent of Maryland filers took that deduction in 2014, the highest percentage of filers in the country.

Most of the states that would be most affected by ending the deduction — New York, California, Maryland — tend to vote for Democratic candidates in national elections.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Trump Tax Plan Rewards "Bigness" and Punishes "Smallness"?

If 20% is to be the top big corporate tax rate, why is the top proposed Individual tax rate 35% and Small Business rate 25%?
from Bloomberg
Framework for tax overhaul would slash corporate rate to 20%
Rate for pass-through businesses would be capped at 25%
President Donald Trump and Republican leaders launched an urgent effort to get a major legislative win this year, announcing a long-awaited tax plan that will immediately set off a fight over how much top earners should pay.

The framework proposes cutting the top individual rate to 35 percent -- but leaves it up to Congress to decide whether to create a higher bracket for those at the top of the income scale, according to the document released Wednesday.

Read Proposed Plan HERE

The rate on corporations would be set at 20 percent, down from the current 35 percent, and businesses would be allowed to immediately write off their capital spending for at least five years. Pass-through businesses would have their tax rate capped at 25 percent.

U.S. stocks pushed toward all-time highs, with a Goldman Sachs basket of companies that pay the highest tax rates pacing gains. The group added 0.5 percent at 10:20 a.m. in New York, poised to outperform the broader market for a sixth straight day.

The plan sets out three tax brackets for individuals -- 12 percent, 25 percent and 35 percent, down from the existing seven rates, which top out at 39.6 percent. But that’s not firmly set, as congressional tax-writing committees will be given flexibility to add a fourth rate for the highest earners -- an effort to prevent the overhaul from providing too much of a benefit for the wealthy.

There’s significant support among Republican members of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee to create a special top income-tax bracket for the highest earners, according to a GOP member of the panel who asked not to be named because discussions are private. Still, House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady of Texas has said he’s committed to offering across-the-board tax relief. Trump has repeatedly said he’s focusing on middle-class individuals.

At the same time, though, the tax plan calls for repealing the alternative minimum tax, the estate tax and the generation-skipping estate tax, all of which would be a boon for higher earners and the wealthy.

“The last thing we should be doing right now is providing hundreds of billions in tax breaks to the wealthiest people and most profitable corporations in this country,” Senator Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent who caucuses with the Democrats, said in an emailed statement. “It is particularly obscene to repeal the estate tax that would provide a $269 billion tax break to the top 0.2 percent.”

The release of the plan -- which Trump will tout Wednesday during a speech in Indiana -- is the result of a months-long process to craft a tax overhaul that was a key promise in Trump’s campaign. But it marks only the start of what could be a brutal fight in Congress among lawmakers who disagree on key elements of the framework. One influential skeptic has been Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, who pledged his committee would not be a “rubber stamp” for the plan.

Other Republicans cheered the plan. “At first glance, the policies released today are good news to the American people,” Representative Mark Walker of North Carolina, chairman of a large conservative caucus, said in statement. “We need to begin acting on this framework legislatively as soon as possible.”

Trump selected Indiana for the speech because of the manufacturing resurgence experienced during the tenure of Vice President Mike Pence, who served as the state’s governor before his election last year. Democrats have attributed increases in manufacturing to recovery programs championed by former President Barack Obama. The speech is expected to include references to Indiana citizens who believe they would benefit from the proposed changes to the tax code.

The tax effort begins one day after Senate leaders decided not to move forward with a vote on repealing Obamacare, one of the most central promises of Trump’s presidential campaign. But Trump has said that tax legislation -- which he calls essential for stimulating economic growth -- has been his main focus.

Trump has told others that he expects lawmakers to work at a brisk pace. If not, he and the Republican Congress would end 2017 without a single major legislative victory.

International Plans

On the international side, the plan would move toward a “territorial” approach that would scale back the U.S.’s unique worldwide approach to taxing corporate profits regardless of where they’re earned. But it includes “rules to protect the U.S. tax base by taxing at a reduced rate and on a global basis the foreign profits of U.S. multinational corporations.” The amount of that reduced rate isn’t specified.

Companies with accumulated offshore profits would be subject to a one-time tax on those earnings -- clearing the way for that income to return to the U.S. The rates that would be applied are unclear, but there would be a higher rate for income held in cash compared to the rate for less liquid investments. Firms would be able to pay the new tax over several years.

Under current law, companies can defer paying U.S. tax on their offshore earnings until they bring them to the U.S. As a result, U.S. firms have stockpiled an estimated $2.6 trillion in profit offshore.

So-called pass-through entities, which include partnerships and limited liability companies, would see their rate capped at 25 percent. Currently, those businesses -- which can range from mom-and-pop grocers to hedge funds -- don’t pay income tax themselves but pass their earnings through to their owners, who then pay tax based on their individual rates.

While the pass-through rate cut would represent a major tax break for lucrative pass-throughs, tax-writers would craft measures aimed at preventing individuals from recharacterizing their personal wages as business income.

Middle-Class Benefits

In terms of middle-class benefits, the framework outlines a near doubling of the standard deduction -- to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for married couples -- and calls for “significantly increasing” the child tax credit from the current $1,000 per child under 17. It would also expand eligibility to include more upper-middle class parents.

The tax plan still lacks extensive details about ways to offset its rate cuts with additional revenue. It says most itemized deductions for individuals should be eliminated, without providing specifics -- while calling for mortgage interest and charitable giving deductions to be preserved. The tax exemption for municipal bonds would also be retained.

However, the state and local tax deduction would be abolished. Ending that break, which tends to benefit high-income filers in Democratic states, would raise an estimated $1.3 trillion over a decade. The move faces some Republican headwinds from lawmakers in districts that use the deduction heavily.

The plan would also limit the interest deduction companies can take on their borrowing, but no additional details were provided. Congress’s tax-writing committees will be tasked with limiting other business credits to help generate additional revenue.

Seeking Offsets

House leaders have proposed abolishing the corporate interest deduction, a move opposed by debt-reliant industries like private equity and commercial real estate. Senate leaders, including Hatch and John Thune of South Dakota, the chamber’s No. 3 Republican, have said they want to maintain the deduction at some level at least.

The lack of consensus on how to offset tax cuts -- a prerequisite to making them permanent under the procedure that Senate leaders plan to use to pass the legislation -- poses hurdles. If they fail to raise enough money to avoid a long-term hit to the deficit, at least part of the package would have to expire within a decade under current rules.

But as tax writers surface ideas to raise revenue by closing loopholes or ending specific tax breaks, they’ll unleash a torrent of lobbying similar to the campaign that killed a proposed border-adjusted tax earlier this year.

“We’re already working on it,” said Carlos Curbelo, a member of the Ways and Means panel, in reference to finding offsets.

“There are a number of pay-fors out there that are not just pay-fors, but also good elements of tax reform that will level the playing field across the economy and lead to greater growth,” said Curbelo, a Florida Republican. He said the committee’s goal is to make the tax changes as permanent as possible.

“So we’re in search of it and we’re getting close, very close,” he said.
The tax rates proposed should be inverted, so as to encourage small independent enterprises and penalize large overcapitalized and legally-immortal corporate behemoths. Tax cuts for PEOPLE, not corporate Struldbrugs.

Snark, Inc.

They roused him with muffins--they roused him with ice--
They roused him with mustard and cress--
They roused him with jam and judicious advice--
They set him conundrums to guess.

When at length he sat up and was able to speak,
His sad story he offered to tell;
And the Bellman cried 'Silence! Not even a shriek!'
And excitedly tingled his bell.

There was silence supreme! Not a shriek, not a scream,
Scarcely even a howl or a groan,
As the man they called 'Ho!' told his story of woe
In an antediluvian tone.

'My father and mother were honest, though poor--'
'Skip all that!' cried the Bellman in haste.
'If it once becomes dark, there's no chance of a Snark--
We have hardly a minute to waste!'

'I skip forty years,' said the Baker, in tears,
'And proceed without further remark
To the day when you took me aboard of your ship
To help you in hunting the Snark.

'A dear uncle of mine (after whom I was named)
Remarked, when I bade him farewell--'
'Oh, skip your dear uncle!' the Bellman exclaimed,
As he angrily tingled his bell.

'He remarked to me then,' said that mildest of men,
' 'If your Snark be a Snark, that is right:
Fetch it home by all means--you may serve it with greens,
And it's handy for striking a light.

' 'You may seek it with thimbles--and seek it with care;
You may hunt it with forks and hope;
You may threaten its life with a railway-share;
You may charm it with smiles and soap--' '

('That's exactly the method,' the Bellman bold
In a hasty parenthesis cried,
'That's exactly the way I have always been told
That the capture of Snarks should be tried!')

' 'But oh, beamish nephew, beware of the day,
If your Snark be a Boojum! For then
You will softly and suddenly vanish away,
And never be met with again!'

'It is this, it is this that oppresses my soul,
When I think of my uncle's last words:
And my heart is like nothing so much as a bowl
Brimming over with quivering curds!

'It is this, it is this--' 'We have had that before!'
The Bellman indignantly said.
And the Baker replied 'Let me say it once more.
It is this, it is this that I dread!

'I engage with the Snark--every night after dark--
In a dreamy delirious fight:
I serve it with greens in those shadowy scenes,
And I use it for striking a light:

'But if ever I meet with a Boojum, that day,
In a moment (of this I am sure),
I shall softly and suddenly vanish away--
And the notion I cannot endure!'
- Lewis Caroll, "The Hunting of the Snark: Fit the Third, the Baker's Tale"

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Popularity of "Not Trump"

from the Baltimore Sun
Republican Gov. Larry Hogan remains popular in Democratic Maryland, where he is largely viewed as a moderate who has taken the state in the right direction, a new poll has found.

About 62 percent of state residents approve of the job Hogan is doing as governor, according to Goucher Poll results released Monday. Fifty-nine percent of Democrats approve of his work.

At the same time, more than a quarter of Hogan’s GOP base believes the governor has put too much distance between himself and President Donald J. Trump, a fellow Republican.

The distance, analysts say, might have worked to Hogan’s advantage.

Trump’s disapproval ratings have climbed since the February poll. But he’s still more popular than Congress.

About 71 percent of people surveyed disapproved of Trump’s tenure. Fifty-six percent said they strongly disapproved. Ninety-three percent of Democrats disapproved of the president’s work so far. Seventy-one percent of independents and 21 percent of Republicans disapproved.

Pollsters interviewed 671 Maryland adults from Sept. 14 through 17. Five hundred thirty-three said they were registered voters. The survey has a 3.8 percentage-point margin of error.

Although 28 percent of Republicans think Hogan has distanced himself too much from Trump, it hasn’t dampened GOP enthusiasm for the governor. The governor’s approval rating among Republicans is 82 percent.

Democrats outnumber Republicans in Maryland by more than two to one.

Hogan’s popularity is driven by ”just consistency,” said Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College, which conducted the poll.

“People like hearing a clear, consistent economic message from the governor,” she said.

Most of the poll’s findings painted a positive picture of Hogan’s reelection chances in 2018. {***DANGER WILL ROBINSON!!!!***}

A majority of registered voters — 51 percent — say they either plan to vote for Hogan, or are “leaning” toward doing so. The poll found a 6 percentage-point uptick since February in the percentage of voters who say they’ll definitely vote for someone else. That group now represents 21 percent of respondents.

“If we were going to see some sort of Trump effect, you would have expected it to show up by now,” said Todd Eberly, political science professor at St. Mary’s College.

“His approval rating fell among Republicans, and I have to imagine some of that is the party base upset about him breaking with Trump, upset about” Hogan’s support for removing the statue of former Chief Justice Roger B. Taney from the State House grounds, Eberly said. “I don't think that in 2018 that would make them go out and vote for a Democrat.”

Seven Democrats have announced plans to run against Hogan: Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, state Sen. Richard S. Madaleno, former NAACP CEO Ben Jealous, Baltimore lawyer Jim Shea, author and tech entrepreneur Alec Ross, and Krish Vignarajah, a former aide to Michelle Obama.

A growing number of residents think the state is on the wrong track, but they’re still in the minority.

“Folks are a little bit less optimistic about the direction of the state,” Kromer said. “It's always difficult to disentangle what exactly that’s about.”

Fifty-five percent of respondents thought Maryland was on the right track. Most of the people who felt that way were also Hogan supporters.

The percentage of respondents pessimistic about the state’s direction increased by nine percentage points since the February poll.

Twenty-four percent said the economy was the most important issue facing the state. Fourteen percent thought education was the top issue, and 10 percent worried most about crime and criminal justice.

Hogan focused on pocketbook issues during his 2014 campaign, and has hewed closely to financial and business issues during his first two and a half years in office. Poll respondents were generally optimistic about Maryland’s economy. Fifty-seven percent said they felt “mostly positive” about it.

Residents don’t agree on where Hogan falls on the ideological spectrum. A little less than half of all residents, 45 percent, identified Hogan as a moderate, but about a third, 31 percent, thought he was conservative. Seven percent defined him as a liberal.

There were also mixed views among residents about Hogan’s place within broader Republican politics.

Forty-four percent said he represented “the future” of the party, and 24 percent said he represented the past. (The rest thought he represented both, neither, or they didn’t know.)

Congress continued to have dismal approval ratings, reflecting a national mood about the effectiveness of federal lawmakers. About 88 percent of those surveyed disapproved of the job Congress was doing. Fifty-nine percent said they “strongly disapprove.” That’s the most disillusionment with Congress since October 2013, when the federal government shut down amid a budget dispute.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Tolls, Tolls Tolls. Whatever Happened to "Free"ways?

from the Baltimore Sun
Gov. Larry Hogan on Thursday proposed a $9 billion project to add four express toll lanes each to the entire stretches of three of Maryland’s most congested highways — the I-495 Capital Beltway, the I-270 spur connecting Frederick to D.C. and the 295 Baltimore-Washington Parkway that connects the city to Washington.

“This problem has been marring the quality of life of Maryland citizens for decades,” Hogan said at a news conference. “Today, we are finally going to do something about it.”

The massive project involves persuading the federal government to give the Baltimore-Washington Parkway to the Maryland Transportation Authority. Hogan said he has already met with U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke about the transfer, and instructed state staffers to “finalize the details.”

He told reporters that the federal government wanted to give the state the road, according to a state spokeswoman.

Hogan proposed adding four toll lanes to the entire stretch of that roadway, from Baltimore to D.C. The price tag of that project is estimated at $1.4 billion. In addition, Hogan said his office has started writing a formal request for proposals for private companies to bid on the $7.6 billion projects to widen I-495 and I-270. The companies would finance, design, build, operate and maintain those express toll lanes.

Existing lanes on each road would remain free to drivers, a spokeswoman said.

Hogan predicted the “three massive, unprecedented projects … will be absolutely transformative and will help Maryland citizens go about their daily lives in a more efficient and safer manner,” Hogan said.

which the private sector helps build roads in return for revenue the project generates have become increasingly common. That method is being used to build the Purple Line light-rail project in the Washington suburbs.

Hogan said his new plan would be “the largest P-3 highway projects in North America.”

He proposed adding four toll lanes to the entire stretch of the Capital Beltway in Maryland, from the Woodrow Wilson Bridge in Prince George’s County to the American Legion Bridge in Montgomery.

He also proposed adding four toll lanes to I-270, from it’s connection to the Capital Beltway to where it meets I-70 in the city of Frederick.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Environmentalists Demand Marylanders Pay MORE than DOUBLE for Energy!

from the Baltimore Sun
A coalition of environmentalists, clergy and solar and wind energy companies launched a campaign Wednesday calling for half of Maryland's electricity to come from renewable sources.

That would double a policy adopted last year requiring that renewable energy account for 25 percent of the state’s electricity portfolio by 2020. The new campaign is setting a target of 2030.

“We cannot wait another moment to begin bringing about the clean-energy future we need,” said Brooke Harper, Maryland and District of Columbia policy director for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

The campaign is casting the state’s renewable energy mandate as a tool to create “green” jobs, particularly in economically depressed communities and among women and people of color. Among the groups endorsing what has been dubbed the Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Initiative are branches of the NAACP from across the state, Interfaith Power and Light, SEIU 1199 and the Maryland-Virginia Solar Energy Industries Association.

They are also stressing it as a way to promote environmental justice.

“For too long here in Maryland’s communities of color, our children and our elders have paid for dirty energy with their health,” said Bishop Eugene Taylor Sutton, leader of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland.

The policy does not require utilities to buy renewable power, but it mandates that they buy certificates that each represent a megawatt of renewable power. Utilities like Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. and retail electricity sellers are required to buy enough of the credits to equal a set and growing percentage of their power supply — 15.6 percent in 2017 — or pay a penalty.

The certificates cost Maryland electricity ratepayers $126.7 million in 2015, according to the state Public Service Commission.

The 25 percent goal became law last year when when the Democratic-controlled General Assembly voted to override a veto by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. The legislature had passed it the year before, but the governor rejected it, deriding the measure as a “sunshine tax.”

That suggests another difficult political fight ahead in Annapolis.

Karla Raettig, executive director of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters, said the coalition is prepared for that.

“We have a lot of momentum,” she said. That is especially true coming off a stretch of natural disasters “where you see the impacts of climate change,” she said.

Amelia Chasse, a spokeswoman for Hogan, did not respond to questions about the governor’s position on the proposal. She said he “strongly supports efforts to combat climate change,” including statewide greenhouse gas reduction goals, Maryland’s participation in a regional cap-and-trade system for Northeast power plants’ carbon emissions, and incentives for use of electric vehicles.

No lawmakers attended an event marking the launch of the campaign Wednesday in Charles Village. Del. Bill Frick, a Democrat from Montgomery County, plans to sponsor the bill in the House; Harper said the campaign is still working to line up a sponsor in the state Senate.

Del. Shane Robinson, another Montgomery Democrat, said he meanwhile plans to push a bill that would move the state to getting 100 percent of its power from solar, wind and geothermal generation.

Those sources combined for just 27 percent of the state’s renewable energy supply in 2015. The bulk of ratepayer subsidies go to trash incinerators, hydroelectric dams and paper mills, which burn a byproduct known as black liquor.

He called the 50 percent renewable energy goal “laudable,” but said Maryland is too small for its policy to make a meaningful impact on global climate change — unless it adopts a policy so aggressive it prompts other states to follow suit.

“If we can get other states and then other countries to act more quickly because of actions we take here, that’s how Maryland has an impact on climate change,” he said.

Harper said while the campaign’s bill and Robinson’s bill may appear to be competing, “we all have the same goal of getting Maryland to 100 percent clean, renewable energy.” She called the 50 percent goal “a critical benchmark and step” to getting there.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

A Clear and Present Danger to the Republic; Trump or Hillary?

from Yahoo News
In an interview released Tuesday, Hillary Clinton called President Trump a danger to America.

Clinton was asked on the “Pod Save America” podcast about the Democratic Party’s messaging and whether, going forward, Democrats should focus on promoting their economic agenda or drill down on opposing President Trump.

Clinton seemed to admit her campaign struggled with that balance, lamenting that her policy proposals were “just not competitive with the reality TV show” her general-election opponent provided.

“And we tried so many different ways to break through that,” Clinton continued. “And we did, of course, advertise what we saw as the threats that Trump posed to the country.”

She continued: “Because frankly, we thought — and I still believe — he’s a clear and present danger to America. And I would have been less than responsible if I didn’t talk about that. But we tried to do both, we tried to make the case for both, and I’d be the first to tell you, it was difficult to break through.”

Later, Clinton reiterated the “danger” she said Trump poses, saying, “I think Trump, left to his own devices, unchecked, would become even more authoritarian than he has tried to be.”

Clinton largely receded from public life after her stunning election loss, but she is set to participate in a round of interviews in conjunction with the release of “What Happened,” her election memoir. The tome officially went on sale Tuesday, but a number of excerpts have already made waves.

In both the book and in the “Pod Save America” interview, Clinton also took a number of digs at her primary foe, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

In “What Happened,” Clinton charges Sanders with “impugning my character,” thereby inflicting “lasting damage” and “making it harder to unify progressives” in the general election.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Immigration Flashbacks

Partial Transcript:
THE PRESIDENT Effective immediately, the Department of Homeland Security is taking steps to lift the shadow of deportation from these young people. Over the next few months, eligible individuals who do not present a risk to national security or public safety will be able to request temporary relief from deportation proceedings and apply for work authorization. Now, let’s be clear — this is not amnesty, this is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenship. It’s not a permanent fix. This is a temporary stopgap measure that lets us focus our resources wisely while giving a degree of relief and hope to talented, driven, patriotic young people. It is –

Q (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT: — the right thing to do.

Q — foreigners over American workers.

THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me, sir. It’s not time for questions, sir.

Q No, you have to take questions.

THE PRESIDENT: Not while I’m speaking. Precisely because this is temporary, Congress needs to act.

from Politico
President Donald Trump’s harsh criticism of immigration programs and Congress’ refusal to lift a cap on work visas meant many seasonal businesses had to hire American this summer — and pay their workers more.

That's good news for Trump, for U.S. workers, and for supporters of Trump's “American First” agenda, but business groups complain that increased spending on wages will ultimately cost jobs and sap company profits. Across the country, enterprises ranging from oyster shuckers to landscapers say they were forced to give up contracts and forgo revenue because they just couldn’t find enough workers to do the jobs this summer.

"There were a lot of businesses that lost a lot of revenue,” said Laurie Flanagan, co-chair of the H-2B Workforce Coalition, a lobbying group with a membership that includes the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Trump has blasted programs that allow foreign guest workers to take jobs in the U.S. legally. “Widespread abuse in our immigration system is allowing American workers of all backgrounds to be replaced by workers brought in from other countries to fill the same job for sometimes less pay,” he told workers in Wisconsin in April. “This will stop.”

The Trump administration hasn't moved specifically against the visas for summer workers — known as H-2Bs. His own companies use H-2B workers, especially at his Mar-a-Lago resort, which recently requested H-2B visas for 70 cooks, housekeepers and servers to start in October. But an executive order that Trump signed in April put the federal government on notice that he intended to tighten restrictions on guest-worker visas, and created a chilling effect.

The U.S. had 66,000 slots this year for foreign workers to staff non-agricultural seasonal businesses — landscapers, hotels and seafood processors among them. By March, these slots were all filled. In previous years, Congress often dealt with such shortages by extending the guest workers' H-2B visas. But this year Congress ignored employers’ pleas, putting the decision in the hands of the administration. In response, the Department of Homeland Security added 15,000 visas in what then-DHS Secretary John Kelly called a "one-time increase." Even that somewhat grudging gesture didn't occur until mid-July, when nearly one-third of summer was already past.

The Beachmere Inn in Ogunquit, a seaside village in southeastern Maine, didn’t receive the eight H-2B visas it requested to supplement its summer housekeeping staff. To make ends meet, owner Sarah Diment recruited college kids through her Facebook network and cobbled together part-time shifts, some filled by American students and some by foreign students here on cultural exchange visas. In the past year, Diment estimates she had to boost housekeeping wages roughly 10 percent to keep employees.

Diment could continue to increase wages, but the higher staffing costs, she says, would make it difficult to keep the business open year-round. “Raising wages is good in theory, until you put it into practice,” she said.

North American Midway Entertainment, a large traveling-amusement-park company headquartered in Indiana, requested roughly 400 H-2B workers this year, a quarter of its total seasonal workforce. But the Department of Homeland Security reached its 66,000-visa cap before the company could secure the guest workers. Company President Danny Huston said he had to skip three fairs and contract out some ride operations because of the visa shortage. In total, he estimates that North American Midway may have lost as much as $800,000.

But the company was able to cover about one-third of the vacancies by hiring American through job fairs, newspaper advertisements, and social media. "We even set up a job fair in Puerto Rico," Huston said.

Other employers say hiring American just isn't an option.

Michael Martin owns a Maryland-based landscaping company. Roughly 40 percent of his workers — and the majority of those performing manual labor — hold H-2B visas, he told POLITICO. Martin received his H-2B workers on time this year, but he knows other landscapers who didn't, and lost clients as a result. "It affects people, their bottom line," he said, "whether they’re still in business, whether they’re going to make it next year."

The H-2B program requires employers to first seek out U.S. workers before they bring in guest workers. But Americans, Martin says, just won’t take landscaping jobs. He paid $2,500 for a two-week want ad that ran in the Baltimore Sun (print and online) and on social media. The jobs Martin was advertising paid more than $14 an hour, slightly above the average wage for the job in his area. Even so, he got no applicants. “No parents in Maryland are raising their kids to swing a pickax,” Martin said.

Not everyone agrees with that view. Daniel Costa, director of immigration law and policy research at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, said the recruitment standards for the H-2B program aren't sufficient to give U.S. workers a real crack at the job.

“The requirements aren’t that onerous, and the DOL isn’t really checking all that much,” Costa said. H-2B employers are required to offer a so-called prevailing wage — defined as the average wage paid to people in a similar role in the same area — but Costa said the benchmark should be higher. A rider inserted in a 2016 spending bill, and re-upped again this year, allowed employers to use their own private wage surveys rather than Labor Department data to calculate prevailing wages. “There’s always some sort of loophole,” Costa said.

If H-2B workers had skills that were hard to find in the U.S., one might expect H-2B wages to be rising faster than those of other workers. But in a recent report, Costa found the opposite: Wage growth over the past decade in nine of the top 10 H-2B occupations was slower than wage growth for all workers, and some occupations actually lost ground. (Waiters and waitresses were the exception, with 20 percent wage growth from 2004 to 2016.)

Some employers say they can't raise wages substantially without pricing their products out of the market. Raz Halili is an owner of Prestige Oysters, a seafood processing outfit with operations in Louisiana and South Texas. He says he lost $3.5 million in sales this year because he got only one-third of the 150 H-2B workers he needed to shuck oysters. Prestige Oysters posted the H-2B worker positions at $9.64 an hour, according to data provided to the Labor Department. That's $2.39 above the state minimum wage, but $2.63 below the national 2016 average hourly wage for “meat, poultry, and fish cutters and trimmers,” according to EPI.

“You raise wages, and then you raise the prices of your crab meat,” says Jack Brooks, president of Chesapeake Bay Seafood Industries Association. Customers will pay more for domestic crab meat, he says, but if the price goes high enough, they’ll buy from "the guy down the street who’s using Chinese crab meat.”

EPI’s Costa disagrees with that logic. “It’s true that you can only raise [wages] so high,” he said. “I’m not saying that you should be paying $30 to $40 to people picking crabs.” But more modest increases — from $9 to $12 an hour, for instance — could bear different results, he said. “If you don’t have a business model that requires you to pay a decent wage," Costa said, "then you have to think about your business model."

One reason guest-worker wages tend to be low, quite apart from questions about the scarcity of their skills, is that the workers are by definition vulnerable as temporary guests of the U.S. government. “This is a controllable and compliant workforce,” said Art Read, general counsel with Philadelphia-based Friends of Farmworkers. “A U.S. worker with a family may miss a day of work.”

But many employers say the jobs that H-2B workers perform are so miserable that few Americans would take them, even at substantially higher pay. Of oyster shucking, Prestige Oyster's Halili says, "It’s a dirty, gritty job that most people just don’t want to do. They’ll do it for a few days or they’ll do it for a week, and then they just won’t show up.”

Meanwhile, despite the high demand, the 15,000 H-2B visas that DHS added to the pile in August are not yet exhausted — a bit of a surprise given the intense lobbying efforts by business groups and members of Congress. The H-2B Workforce Coalition's Flanagan chalks it up to how late in the fiscal year the visas were made available.

“I think that it’s the timing,” she said. “It would have been a different story if we saw visas released earlier in the process.”

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Maryland governor proposes “truth in sentencing” rules for gun crimes

from HotAir
The other day we talked about a meeting being called by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan to discuss the skyrocketing murder rate and gang violence problem in Baltimore. That discussion focused on the fact that a panel of judges invited to the meeting had declined to attend. The meeting went forward without them as planned and produced some proposals to address the city’s problems, at least one of which is definitely worth a closer look.

What Governor Hogan is focusing on is the relatively light sentences that persons convicted of gun crimes receive, many of whom do no time in jail at all. And those who are sentenced to prison frequently wind up doing only a small fraction of the time. The Governor is asking for some “truth in sentencing” which will ensure that criminals know that the city is serious and that they will pay a steep price for their crimes. (Baltimore Sun)

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

REVEALED, Video of the Nazi Rally in Boston!

Berkeley, California, Bastion of and Sanctuary for Self-Inflicted Idiocy

Mayor Jesse Arreguin at his office in Berkeley on Aug. 28, 2017.

from the San Francisco Chronicle
In the aftermath of a right-wing rally Sunday that ended with anarchists chasing attendees from a downtown park, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin urged UC Berkeley on Monday to cancel conservatives’ plans for a Free Speech Week next month to avoid making the city the center of more violent unrest. (Why? Is the Klan or are Nazi's coming?)

“I don’t want Berkeley being used as a punching bag,” said Arreguin, whose city has been the site of several showdowns this year between, on the one hand, the left and its fringe anarchist wing, and on the other, supporters of President Trump who at times have included white nationalists.

“I am concerned about these groups using large protests to create mayhem,” Arreguin said. “It’s something we have seen in Oakland and in Berkeley.”

The mayor wants UC Berkeley to halt plans by a conservative campus group, the Berkeley Patriot, to host right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos during its scheduled Free Speech Week from Sept. 24-27. Berkeley’s right-vs.-left cage matches began with an appearance that Yiannopoulos was to have made in February at a campus hall, an event that was aborted when black-clad anarchists like those who broke up Sunday’s downtown rally stormed into Sproul Plaza, smashed windows and set bonfires. (That gay British right wing guy must be REALLY scary!)

Trump himself denounced UC Berkeley in a tweet the next day, and his supporters have since made a point of bringing their fight to the famously liberal college town.

There have been reports that the Berkeley Patriot is also trying to lure ousted White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and right-wing commentator Ann Coulter to appear on campus during its Free Speech Week. Bryce Kasamoto, a spokesman for the group, said Monday, “We are still working out the logistics of this event with the university and law enforcement. Once we have worked out final specifics, we will be able to confirm speakers for Free Speech Week.”

Arreguin is wary of the whole idea.

“I’m very concerned about Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter and some of these other right-wing speakers coming to the Berkeley campus, because it’s just a target for black bloc to come out and commit mayhem on the Berkeley campus and have that potentially spill out on the street,” Arreguin said, referring to militants who have also been called anti-fascists or antifa. (So the REAL problem is his own pampered constituents)

The anti-Yiannopoulos protesters inflicted $100,000 worth of damage to the school’s student union in February before taking to the streets of Berkeley, where several businesses’ windows were smashed. Arreguin said inviting the former Breitbart News editor and other right-wing speakers was setting up a possible repeat of that destruction.

“I obviously believe in freedom of speech, but there is a line between freedom of speech and then posing a risk to public safety,” the mayor said. “That is where we have to really be very careful — that while protecting people’s free-speech rights, we are not putting our citizens in a potentially dangerous situation and costing the city hundreds of thousands of dollars fixing the windows of businesses.”

UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof said the university is working with the Berkeley Patriot to come up with a time and location for Yiannopoulos’ appearance. He emphasized that UC Berkeley wasn’t the one extending the invitation, but that “we have neither the legal right nor ability to interfere with or cancel (students groups’) invitations based on the perspectives and beliefs of the speakers.”

“Where we do have discretion is around everything that has to do with the safety of our communities, and the well-being of those who may feel threatened or harmed by what some of these speakers may espouse,” Mogulof said. “We can assure you that those priorities, along with our commitment to free speech, remain at the center of our planning and priorities.”

Also on tap for next month is a campus appearance by Ben Shapiro, another former Breitbart News editor, who is scheduled to speak Sept. 14 at the 1,900-capacity Zellerbach Hall. His appearance is sponsored by Berkeley College Republicans.

Shapiro told The Chronicle last week that he would welcome anyone who wanted to protest his appearance, but that “I’m actively telling people not to show up to defend my free speech. That’s the police’s job.”

UC Berkeley is charging the organizers of Shapiro’s appearance $15,000 for the campus’ security costs.

Reasoning with the Left in Berkeley

How are language and violence connected? In his “Critique of Violence,” Walter Benjamin raises the question: “Is any nonviolent resolution of conflict possible?” His answer is that such a nonviolent resolution of conflict is possible in “relationships among private persons,” in courtesy, sympathy, and trust: “there is a sphere of human agreement that is nonviolent to the extent that it is wholly inaccessible to violence: the proper sphere of ‘understanding,’ language.” This thesis belongs to the mainstream tradition in which the prevalent idea of language and the symbolic order is that of the medium of reconciliation and mediation, of peaceful coexistence, as opposed to a violent medium of 
immediate and raw confrontation. In language, instead of exerting direct violence on each other, we are meant to debate, to exchange words — and such an exchange, even when it is aggressive, presupposes a minimum recognition of the other.
- Slavoj Zizek, "The Poetic Torture-House of Language"

Monday, August 28, 2017

Meet the Nazi's that Needed to Be Silenced in San Francisco

Say "Hi" to the Media-Invisible Greeters @ Your Next Trump Rally

Avenge Charlottesville, BASH Libertarians and Trump Supporters!
If you wield "No Hate" shields, you must be a "Lover" of some kind...
This past Sunday in Berkeley California, Imaginary Nazi's from Patriot Prayer were Given a Sound Thrashing!

from CBSLocal in San Francisco
BERKELEY (CBS/AP) — Several thousand people converged in Berkeley Sunday for a “Rally Against Hate” in response to a planned right-wing protest that raised concerns of violence and triggered a massive police presence. Several people were arrested for violating rules against covering their faces or carrying items banned by authorities.

Tense but brief skirmishes erupted when several dozen left-wing protesters surrounded and shouted at a handful of right-wing demonstrators. Three of those targeted sought safety by rushing toward officers sand were escorted out of the park. They were put in van that was kicked by yelling left-wing protesters as it drove away.

The left-wing protesters far outnumbered those who showed up for the largely peaceful rally, which police tried to keep safe by setting up barricades around it and checking people who entered to make sure they did not have prohibited items like baseball bats, dogs, skateboards and scarves or bandanas they could use to cover their faces.

Anti-rally protesters chanted slogans “No Trump. No KKK. No fascist USA” and carried signs that said: “Berkeley Stands United Against Hate.”

Berkeley is the city that gave birth to the 1960s Free Speech Movement but authorities refused to issue a permit allowing Sunday’s event. The city and the University of California, Berkeley campus have been the site of political clashes and violence over the past year.

At one point Sunday, an anti-rally protester denounced a Latino man holding a “God Bless Donald Trump” sign.

“You are an immigrant,” said Karla Fonseca. “You should be ashamed of yourself.”

Several other people also yelled at the man, who said he was born in Mexico but supports Trump’s proposal to build a wall along the southern border.

Police pulled one supporter of President Donald Trump out of the park over a wall by his shirt as a crowd of about two dozen counter demonstrators surrounded him and chanted “Nazi go home” and pushed him toward the edge of the park. At least two people were detained by officers for wearing bandannas covering their faces.

Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin issued a statement early Sunday evening praising the majority of protesters who remained peaceful during Sunday’s events.

“I applaud the more than 7,000 people who came out today to peacefully oppose bigotry, hatred and racism that we saw on display in Charlottesville. They gave impassioned speeches, they played music and they showed that Berkeley and the Bay Area will always stand for tolerance, diversity and justice,” the statement read.

“Faced by extremists who were intent to fight, the Berkeley Police Department made the right call to deescalate the situation,” the statement continued. “In the end, 13 people were arrested and two taken to the hospital. I regret that people were injured, but am glad that serious violence was averted.”

In the aftermath, Berkeley police defended how they handled security at the rally.

Berkeley Police Chief Andrew Greenwood says police made a strategic decision to let a group of more than 100 black-clad anarchists enter the park Sunday once it became clear there would not be dueling protests between right and left.

He said “the potential use of force became very problematic” because thousands of mostly peaceful left-wing protesters were already inside the park.

Greenwood said he decided to let the black-clad protesters demonstrate in the park because there was “no need for a confrontation over a grass patch.”

Earlier Sunday, a separate counter protest took place on the nearby Berkeley university campus despite calls by university police for demonstrators to stay away. From the campus, the crowd marched to Civic Center Park and merged with the anti-rally protesters who had already gathered there.

The Berkeley rallies happened a day after a rally planned by a right-wing group fizzled amid throngs of counter-protesters in San Francisco. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee declared victory over a group he branded as inviting hate.

The organizer of Sunday’s right-wing event was Amber Cummings, a transgender woman and Trump supporter who has repeatedly denounced racism. Cummings said that demonization by mayors in both cities and left-wing extremists made it impossible for people with other views to speak out.

Cummings has said on social media and in media interviews that Marxism is the real evil and that members of the anti-fascist movement are terrorists.

“I’m not safe to walk down the road with an American flag in this country,” she told reporters last week.

Saturday’s event was organized by a group known as Patriot Prayer. Its leader Joey Gibson has also repeatedly disavowed racism.

Student activism was born during the 1960s free-speech movement at Berkeley, when thousands of students at the university mobilized to demand that the school drop its ban on political activism.

However, the deadly confrontation in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 12 during a rally of white supremacists led San Francisco police and civil leaders to rethink their response to protests.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

How to Prepare for a Peaceful Protest

Unfortunately, Patriot Prayer, the Nazi group cancelled it's Free Speech Rally for Crissy Park today in San Francisco. This should be good for peaacefully protesting in Berkeley tomorrow, though!

A press conference at Alamo Park by Patriot Prayer has been Silenced as authorities close the venue.

Who is Crying Wolf in a Crowded Theater Now?

Four Video's Which if Watched Sequentially, Make the Case

Patriot Prayer Cancel Event on Crissy Field in San Francisco for Saturday, 8/26/17

"BAMN - By Any Means Necessary." Doesn't sound very peaceful, does it?
That's only because BAMN isn't peaceful or committed to non-violence

Friday, August 25, 2017

Federal Court Rules Democrat Gerrymandering All Good!

from the Baltimore Sun
A federal district court rejected a claim Thursday by seven Maryland Republicans that the state’s 2011 redistricting violated their First Amendment rights, setting up another Supreme Court fight over the heavily litigated maps.

In a case closely watched by state political leaders, the court found the plaintiffs failed to meet the standard required to order an immediate redrawing of the boundaries. In a 2-1 decision, the court said it wanted to see the outcome of a separate gerrymandering claim from Wisconsin pending before the Supreme Court before deciding the Maryland lawsuit.

“The time and resources necessary to implement a new map would surely have the effect of scuttling other legislative priorities in advance of the 2018 [legislative] session,” the court wrote. “The remedy would be highly consequential.”

Michael B. Kimberly, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, said he intends to appeal — a move that will automatically put the Maryland congressional maps before the Supreme Court for the second time in as many years. Describing the state’s congressional district map as a "crazy quilt," a unanimous Supreme Court allowed the case to proceed in late 2015.

But the decision Thursday meant that, for the time being, Maryland’s current congressional map is likely to remain in place for the 2018 midterm elections.

Brought by a group of Republican voters, the case is one of several pending in the federal court system that rely on new legal arguments to challenge the constitutionality of political gerrymandering. The lawsuit, filed in 2013, drew particular interest in Maryland after lawyers sharply questioned former Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, and leaders of the General Assembly about the motivations behind the congressional districts.

In his deposition, O’Malley acknowledged what was already widely understood: that Maryland Democrats used the 2011 redistricting to flip the 6th Congressional District from a reliably Republican seat to one far more competitive for their party. A year later, Democratic Rep. John Delaney unseated 10-term incumbent Republican Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett in the district.

O’Malley, who has continued to weigh in on national politics since losing a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination last year, has since called for nonpartisan redistricting commissions.

The federal litigation has refocused attention on the state's squirrelly congressional districts — among the least compact in the nation, according to some studies — at a time when the issue has gained new attention in Annapolis. Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, has also called for a nonpartisan redistricting commission, an idea Democrats in the state have rejected.

If Hogan wins a second term in next year's election, it would set the stage for a showdown with Democrats in Annapolis over the maps following the 2020 Census.

Democrats control seven of eight House seats in the state, though 41 percent of voters backed a Republican candidate for the House of Representatives in 2014. Any tinkering with the current system — either through an independent commission or a negotiation with a Republican governor — could potentially loosen Democrats’ grip on the delegation.

State Democrats point out that the maps were approved not only by the General Assembly but also by voters, 64 percent of whom backed the districts in a 2012 referendum. They note that Republican-controlled governments in other states draw maps to their benefit and say that unilaterally moving away from a partisan system in Maryland would give the GOP an unfair advantage.

Maryland argues Republicans not harmed in redistricting case

The decision Thursday came from a three-judge panel. Judge Paul V. Niemeyer, appointed to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by President George H.W. Bush, dissented.

“I believe that the record could not be clearer that the mapmakers specifically intended to dilute the effectiveness of Republican voters in the Sixth Congressional District and that the actual dilution that they accomplished was caused by their intent,” Niemeyer wrote.

Raquel Coombs, a spokeswoman for Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh, a Democrat, said that the state expected the plaintiffs to appeal and that “we will respond in the appropriate time frame.”

The Supreme Court has often lamented partisan mapmaking, but the justices have failed to agree on a legal standard to decide when an effort to draw political advantage into a district crosses the line. The Wisconsin and Maryland cases are proposing different standards for how to determine whether a map is unconstitutional.

The court is set to hear arguments in that case in October.
Map of the Most Gerrymandered State in America

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Fake Media Alert - The Racists Are Going to San Francisco!

from American Thinker
This Saturday, San Franciscans can gather to celebrate their own virtue, while venting some more of their rage – and, for the violence-prone subset, maybe kick some "right wing" butt. Last Saturday, Bostonian Warriors of Virtue got their chance for a lovely day of self-congratulation in the sun, so now it is the Bay Area's turn.

The National Park Service has issued a permit for a rally that is proclaimed to be on the subject of free speech but is universally being portrayed as "right wing," racist, and worse. This despite the fact that nobody involved in speaking or organizing any links to anything of the sort. The site is Crissy Field, a former airstrip, quite accessible, and featuring iconic scenery.

The city is mobilizing its entire police force for the event and probably realizes that like their Boston counterparts last weekend, they may have to evacuate a handful of protesters through a mob intent on bodily harm, that may attack the police with bottles of urine, soda cans full of cement, or maybe something new. So I expect them to be well prepared and, like Boston, put to shame the incompetence or worse of Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe.

But there is a cadre of a few hundred Bay Area violent left-wingers who show up at every opportunity to inflict mayhem. You saw them most recently smashing windows and starting fires at U.C. Berkeley, as they attempted to lynch Milo Yiannopoulos in Berkeley. But I have seen roughly the same group of people showing up for years every time a chance arises to protest something or other and smash a few store windows in Berkeley or Oakland. Black Bloc is the latest name being used. I have no idea what they are planning, but I am sure the SFPD is forecasting and training for a number of scenarios. I wonder if they are cooperating with Homeland Security.

What troubles me the most, outside the possibility of serious violence, is the extent to which the media and the politicians are demonizing a rather innocent, even idealistic venture, using reprehensible techniques. First of all, there is the universality of the label "right wing" ("far right" in the S.F. Chronicle) when the organizers of the rally and the rally itself are mentioned. That is an expression that triggers anger among a substantial portion of San Franciscans right there.

For instance, the Mercury News starts its article with this:
With permits now issued for five events this weekend in San Francisco's Crissy Field, one of them organized by a right-wing group and the other four reportedly groups out to protest the right-wingers, the stage is being set for a possible showdown between white nationalists and a city that has come out roundly against them.
There are only "right-wing" groups, and no "left-wing" groups, and certainly no mention of Antifa.

In the minds of most San Franciscans, "right-wing" equals "hate." Mayor Ed Lee spoke on camera about the city's preparations for the demonstrations, and 1 minute and 40 seconds into the clip found, here, he states:
The most tumultuous thing that can happen is that people act on their very deep passions on hate, and that's at least some that we would be espousing against.
This is both incoherent and rather ambiguous, while still implying to all right-thinking viewers that the mayor worries that those right-wingers might get violent. Conceivably, the mayor is warning against Antifa when he cautions "some that we would be espousing against" acting "on their very deep passions on hate," but that is unlikely. I think he is just bloviating while refusing to name names.

The Mercury News, to its credit, did dig into the organizer of Patriot Prayer and presents information that portrays a sincere, somewhat naïve activist, whose "open to all" rallies have been invaded by kooks like the KKK, and this discredited him in the eyes of the media. The familiar passive slur that "violence broke out" then becomes part of the labeling that makes a group led by a nonwhite (he is of mixed parentage and calls himself Japanese) and featuring mostly nonwhite speakers into fearsome "white nationalists."
Gibson, the founder of Patriot Prayer and the organizer of the rally, said he denounced racism and wouldn't allow any extremists into his event. The permit approval, Gibson said Tuesday, was a sign that "the First Amendment will be respected."

Indeed, the Southern Poverty Law Center which tracks hate groups does not list Patriot Prayer as such, nor is Gibson considered an extremist by the advocacy center;

In fact, the Law Center reported that at the most recent Patriot Prayer event, Gibson shouted from the stage "F*** white supremacists! F*** neo-Nazis!" ...

On its Facebook page, Patriot Prayer says its group "is about using the power of love and prayer to fight the corruption both in the government and citizen levels that seek to gain power through division and deception." ...

Described as a "conservative-libertarian" in an article by The Columbian, Gibson got his start in politics last summer in the streets outside the Republican National Convention in Cleveland; "There, the leader of the Patriot Prayer online community-slash-movement, whose organizing and activism has garnered national headlines after recent clashes on college campuses and the streets of Portland, was caught on camera tearing up a demonstrator's anti-police cardboard sign. "Why would you destroy my property?' asked the man, who was wearing a T-shirt that read "F*** the police.' Because Gibson, 33, was fired up. But then he felt bad for ripping up the sign. He handed the guy a $20 bill, and the interaction ended with a handshake."

Gibson counts the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. as one of his political heroes and on Facebook he preaches "Hatred is a disease." The article says Gibson once "invited a transgender person to speak at one of his rallies because he said it's time all people were accepted."
Yep, a racist hater.

If the mayor and media had any decency (I know, I know), they would be saying to the world that there is no reason to be afraid of a small group of people standing up for free speech. They might even note that the organizer is not white, and that San Franciscans are grown-ups who have always celebrated diversity, including political diversity. Milton Friedman spent years living there late in his life.

But that would require breaking the approved narrative, and no matter how phony it is, all must hew to the Party Line.
Of course, the real "rumble" is NOT going to be in San Francisco. It will be in Berkeley the following day. Berkeley's event will be a "permit-less" protest where there's been much "bad-blood" spilled in the recent past (April 15, 2017 Battle for Berkeley). BTW - note to Nancy Pelosi, "I suppose this proves that you can (and do) yell, 'Wolf!' in a crowded theatre."

Congress' Virtual Tower of Babel

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Great Nazi Scare of 2017

from the WSJ
Well, that was a bit embarrassing. Antifascist liberals mounted thousand-strong counter-rallies all weekend against a Nazi threat that proved nonexistent or thin on the ground. Leftists imagined themselves to be modern-day versions of the Czech resistance or the Warsaw uprising, but it turns out they were the majoritarian mob shouting down a handful of losers who’ve been an execrable but small part of the American pageant for as long as most of us can remember.

We don’t know what speakers at Saturday’s “free speech” rally in Boston might have said. It was organized, according to the local papers, by libertarians protesting campus speech codes, though they opened their platform to anybody, left and right. The meeting ended early; the speakers were all drowned out. Nazis and white supremacists, if any were present, were shown to be vastly outnumbered by Americans who reject such doctrines.

To state another obvious point, our civil liberties are meaningless if they don’t protect unpopular views. It’s not the mob but the mob’s targets that need protection.

For the record, of the 20th century’s malign ideologies, Nazi ideas of who should be murdered and why strike me as slightly more odious and frightful than Maoist or Stalinist ideas of who should be murdered and why. The applicability to current U.S. events is slender, though.

More relevant is the principle that large mobs are more dangerous than small mobs, and likely to harbor more psychopaths. Apparently running out of Nazis to resist, Boston protesters threw rocks and urine-filled bottles at police. Any shortage of white supremacists can always be corrected by expanding the definition. Opponents of a $15 minimum wage are racist. Skeptics about a pending climate crisis are racist. Anyone questioning the utility of pulling down old statues is racist.

The slippery slope of civil-rights erosion is manifest every time certain members of the vituperative left open their mouths.

Hard to escape is a lesson about incentives: Majoritarian violence is the predominant risk even when its targets are people otherwise impossible to sympathize with.

Which brings us back to Charlottesville. Serious professionals in every field know first reports are unreliable. We aren’t counting certain modern-day news sites, of course. Their job is manipulating passing, news-related symbols in ways that pleasure their target audiences. Bandwagons are their profession.

For the record, however, Donald Trump’s press conference, in its entirety, is available online and takes 23 minutes to watch. He did not fail to denounce Nazis and racists.

An account of events in Charlottesville is also taking shape. Mr. Trump feels he has been treated unfairly. Guess what? That’s politics. Your opponents aren’t required to give you a break. Outsmart them. President Obama would have spoken carefully, starting with: Though we don’t have all the facts, one thing Americans can agree about is that Nazi ideology and racial hatred are offensive to American ideals.

Even an Obama Justice Department, though, would be open to the possibility that Americans holding a legally permitted rally were beset by a mob while police failed to keep order, if that’s what the facts eventually showed. From the Washington Post comes an interesting social characterization of today’s young white nationalist idiots—but also a description of how their van was attacked with flying bottles and other objects.

According to Charlottesville’s Daily Progress, there were two armed militias, one representing a pro-Constitution group, the other a left-wing group. No shots were fired. They worked together to break up fights. Neither supported the Nazis, and both promptly withdrew when the governor declared an “unlawful assembly.”

In a tweet she has been made to regret, the New York Times ’s Sheryl Gay Stolberg reported: “The hard left seemed as hate-filled as alt-right. I saw club-wielding ‘antifa’ beating white nationalists being led out of the park.”

For its part, the FBI has put out a call for witnesses and video of James Alex Fields Jr. before he got in his car.

Messrs. Trump and Obama may have different ideological bents, but no president wants to be consumed by passing political furies. Every president over a longer horizon, we also semi-confidently presume, would have a chief magistrate’s willingness to let the true facts emerge and fill in public perception of events.

Many reputations are now tied to a false version of what Donald Trump said, and a version of events in Charlottesville that may or may not survive careful documentation. Do not expect moral courage or any apologies. Mobs are mobs. Nazis whose every thought is reprehensible will still quail in the face of a lawless crowd. CEOs of publicly traded companies are not in the business of being brave. And yet the natural order is holding. Neo-Nazis and white supremacists may be a continuing American embarrassment and eyesore, but they are not today’s most pressing threat to our civil liberties.
More on the non-racist nature of the SCAREY White- Supremacy Rally

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Does Anybody REALLY Believe that THIS is Going to Stop at Monuments?

Is the US Commission on Civil Rights a Bad Joke?

from American Thinker
Suppose BLM and Antifa Are Just Democratic 'Muscle' like the Old KKK

Steve Bannon is saying that the real Trump administration, of populist nationalism, is over. And I suppose it is, given that Bannon is no longer on the inside bashing heads.

Bannon said, as he walked out the door, that he commends the Democrats for starting a race war, because economic nationalism will beat a race war every time.

Bannon’s remarks, made to the NeverTrumpers at Weekly Standard, reminded me why Trump won the Republican nomination and the general election in 2016.

The reason that Donald Trump won the Republican nomination was that he stood up for ordinary Republican voters that liberals routinely name and shame as racists, sexists, and homophobes.
That’s why he beat out Ted Cruz (R-TX) and the GOP squishes.

Ordinary middle-class Republicans know that, at any moment, they could be accused of racism by some SJW at work and lose their job. They are afraid; they want a president who will stand up for them.

The reason Donald Trump won the election was that his economic nationalism appealed to the white working class that is dying of despair, abandoned by the Democrats forty years ago. They want a president who will Make America Great Again.

Then came Charlottesville, and Donald Trump showed that he had our back. The problem, he said, is both sides. If President Trump does nothing more in his presidency, he has at least declared left and right extremists equivalent.

But is he right? Is the problem really “both sides?” Or is one side more to blame? When you lay Black Lives Matter and Antifa against Stormfront and the modern KKK, which is the bigger threat to democracy?

I think that the answer depends on which groups deliver “muscle” for their side.

Let’s go back to Reconstruction and the decade of 1865 to 1876. In that era the KKK, according to lefty Eric Foner in his Reconstruction, operated as a guerrilla force making the occupation of the South an expensive proposition for the Union Army and its associated scalawags and carpetbaggers. In 1876 the Republicans gave up on the South; they had bigger fish to fry up north, and so they abandoned the black freedmen to the tender mercies of the Democrats.

In the Jim Crow South, the KKK guerrillas now became the “muscle” for the Democratic Party. And the KKK role, apparently, was not so much to lynch blacks as to intimidate whites who might have a soft spot for the freedmen.

Now, ask yourself: are Stormfront and today’s KKK anyone’s political “muscle” today? Certainly not. For just about anyone on the right they are an embarrassment. We wish they would go away.

Now let us turn to Black Lives Matter and Antifa. Are they marginalized groups that liberals and Democrats are ashamed of? Certainly not. All over my liberal neighborhood in liberal Seattle there are We Believe yard-signs that proudly announce that Black Lives Matter. And just this weekend the New York Times and the Washington Post have written pieces saying there is nothing to see here on leftist violence.

The conclusion is obvious. Black Lives Matter and Antifa are “muscle” groups that perform the same function for today’s Democrats that the KKK performed for the Jim Crow South. They intimidate from Berkeley to Middlebury to Charlottesville, and the ruling class gives them a pass, just as the police and the judges did for the KKK back in the days of the Solid South.

Is their job to “muscle” ordinary middle-class Republicans, or rank-and-file Democrats?

I don’t know. I suspect that the job of the liberal “muscle” groups is to make the utterly marginalized Stormfront and KKK and associated groups into a menace, to justify the escalation of the liberal war on the ordinary Americans that SJWs call racists, sexists, and homophobes.

Otherwise people might get the idea that the job was done 50 years ago when the Civil Rights Acts made it illegal in these United States to discriminate on the basis of race or sex. People might ask: are there no police? Are there no FBIs? Are there no Civil Rights Divisions?

Otherwise people might get the idea that America under the liberal ruling class is a country designed by, for, and on behalf of liberals. Just this week Richard Florida, he of the “creative class” and yeasty “ideopolises,” has a book out admitting that the creative class cities are just places that cater for the well-to-do and banish ordinary people to the margins. They “created economic growth only for the already rich, displacing the poor and working classes.”

On this view you might think that the Trump voters are not racist sexist homophobes, but genuinely suffering under the unjust rule of the liberal “creative classes” and their BLM/Antifa enforcers, and that they elected Donald Trump to redress their grievances.

But I couldn’t possibly comment.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Woolworth's Lunch Counter Sit-In

from NPR
On Feb. 1, 1960, four students from all-black North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College walked into a Woolworth five-and-dime with the intention of ordering lunch.

But the manager of the Greensboro Woolworth had intentions of his own — to maintain the lunch counter's strict whites-only policy.

Franklin McCain was one of the four young men who shoved history forward by refusing to budge.

McCain remembers the anxiety he felt when he went to the store that Monday afternoon, the plan he and his friends had devised to launch their protest and how he felt when he sat down on that stool.

"Fifteen seconds after ... I had the most wonderful feeling. I had a feeling of liberation, restored manhood. I had a natural high. And I truly felt almost invincible. Mind you, [I was] just sitting on a dumb stool and not having asked for service yet," McCain says.

"It's a feeling that I don't think that I'll ever be able to have again. It's the kind of thing that people pray for ... and wish for all their lives and never experience it. And I felt as though I wouldn't have been cheated out of life had that been the end of my life at that second or that moment."

McCain shares his recollection of the exchanges the four African-American men had with the lunch-counter staff, the store manager and a policeman who arrived on the scene — and also a lesson he learned that day.

An older white woman sat at the lunch counter a few stools down from McCain and his friends.

"And if you think Greensboro, N.C., 1960, a little old white lady who eyes you with that suspicious look ... she's not having very good thoughts about you nor what you're doing," McCain says.

Eventually, she finished her doughnut and coffee. And she walked behind McNeil and McCain — and put her hands on their shoulders.

"She said in a very calm voice, 'Boys, I am so proud of you. I only regret that you didn't do this 10 years ago.'" McCain recalls.

"What I learned from that little incident was ... don't you ever, ever stereotype anybody in this life until you at least experience them and have the opportunity to talk to them. I'm even more cognizant of that today — situations like that — and I'm always open to people who speak differently, who look differently, and who come from different places," he says.

On that first day, Feb. 1, the four men stayed at the lunch counter until closing. The next day, they came back with 15 other students. By the third day, 300 joined in; later, 1,000.

The sit-ins spread to lunch counters across the country — and changed history.
Flash forward 57 years... what have we learned?
We've learned that if we don't leave, Trump supporters will be called NAZI's, Racists, White Supremicists, and get punched in the face.

The New Jim Crow... it's not "written down" and in the "law" books. It's a "legacy" of 43 years of "Affirmative Action," where any and all lack of "affirmation" (ie - criticism) has become proof positive of racist discrimination.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Day Free Speech Died in America

Boston Common, August 19, 2017

Meanwhile, the media (and Boston's free speech counter-protesters) insist that President Trump is continuing his un-civil behavior and his moral authority has been compromised... perhaps he should shout a few people down and re-establish it!

Later that same afternoon...

Whilst organizations committed to the violent overthrow of the current American Government like "Its Going Down" and "Refuse Fascism," supported by notorious terrorist and former Weathermen Biil Ayers, go unreported by the so-called "mainstream" media. Focus on Nazi's and the Klan, sheeple. Even the venerable Washington Post assures us that the Left has renounced violence....

Can Someone Please Tell Me Which Speakers at this Event were NAZI's, White Supremicists, or Racists?

Who were they? Find out here...