1. “I went to Madison feeling financially scared and emotionally depressed but hopeful,” said Paul Adams, who runs a 500-cow organic dairy near Eleva, WI."I came home feeling financially scared, emotionally depressed, unwanted, and unneeded.” 2. Brittany Olson left her Barron County farm at 2am to make the trip to Expo and hear Perdue speak. “To go through the effort to see the USDA secretary, only for him to say that small farms like ours likely have no future made me feel like little more than a peasant in a system of modern-day feudalism,” Olson said. 3. “To me, it really drew a line in the sand on just where this administration stands,” said Chippewa County dairy farmer George Polzin.
Danielle Erdvick summed it up this way in the story:
But I sense a fire growing in the belly of the family farmers I meet in my work with Farmers Union. Farmers are weary. But there’s a growing flicker that’s starting to feed a change in the narrative. No more will they be spoon-fed a top-down vision for rural America. Instead, I see a drive for a farmscape where fair prices, local food systems, clean water, and land conservation are at the heart of farm policy. How can we achieve it? It’ll take actually enforcing America’s antitrust laws and holding corporations accountable when they try to monopolize an industry. It’ll mean addressing market manipulation. It’ll mean not raising our hackles, as farmers and ag groups, every time someone wants to talk about clean water or livestock siting. It’ll mean continuing to adopt regenerative practices and thinking outside the box so we’re protecting our natural resources for our children and grandchildren.
Farmers will never stop voting for Republicans. Sadly, GOP promises of "small government" simply mean they don't really have to do anything for their constituents, and deregulation is anything that basically leaves them alone.
Tariff War is not Their Fight: It seems farmers are okay sacrificing their livelihoods for big corporate interests seeking intellectual rights and protections.
And then the last shoe dropped; Ag Sec. Sonny Perdue told us what big corporate Republican politicians were really thinking about family farmers:
Perdue told reporters that he doesn’t know if the family dairy farm can survive as the industry moves toward a factory farm model ... “In America, the big get bigger and the small go out. I don’t think in America we, for any small business, we have a guaranteed income or guaranteed profitability.”
Jerry Volenec, a fifth-generation Wisconsin dairy farmer with 330 cows, left the Perdue event feeling discouraged about his future. “What I heard today from the secretary of agriculture is there’s no place for me. Can I get some support from my state and federal government?" Darin Von Ruden, president of the Wisconsin Farmers Union and a third-generation dairy farmer who runs a 50-cow organic farm (said) getting bigger at the expense of smaller operations like his is “not a good way to go. Do we want one corporation owning all the food in our country?”
Democrats, Governor Tony Evers backs Family Farms, despite never getting their vote, but after Sonny Perdue's comment, even our laid back Gov. had to say something:
"Are they struggling? Absolutely. But I think at the end of the day we need to get behind them rather than saying, ah maybe you should go larger. I, frankly, resent that the Department of Agriculture secretary from the federal government came in and kind of lambasted them."
But don't take Evers word for it, here's a comment made at the Minnesota Farmfest about CAFO's. Note: Why were visa's for dairy labor ever determined to be seasonal and not year around?:
Wisconsin dairy farmers are still feeling the sting of Trump's visit to Milwaukee in July, where the president downplayed the suffocation felt by farmers here because of Trump's own tariffs.
Trump: "Some of the farmers are doing well. ... We're over the hump. We're doing really well."
"If he's saying farmers are over the hump, he would be badly mistaken," said Darin Von Ruden, a third generation dairy farmer. "In order to get over the hump we need to stop losing dairy farms."
From PBS's Market to Market: Trump's says farmers are happy...
Farmers are slamming Trump's $28 billion farm bailout — more than double Obama's 2009 payment to automakers — as a 'Band-Aid'.
Perdue editorial doesn't repair Damage: Nope, his word salad backtrack to obscure how he really feels, is a little late. In fact, Perdue reminds farmers how this whole problem was really Trump creation:
Purdue: "President Donald Trump has made it his mission to support American agriculture and negotiate better trade deals so our productive farmers can sell their bounty around the globe."
Nevada's First Marijuana Lounge is Now Open. The state's first marijuana tasting room opened this weekend in Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Pauite Tribe is operating the NuWu Cannabis Marketplace on tribal land, which gives it a leg up on potential competitors. Under a state law signed in June, local governments are barred from licensing marijuana consumption lounges until 2021, but tribal lands are not subject to the law.
New York Sienna Poll Has Continuing Support for Legalization, Even as Vaping Fears Grow. A new Sienna poll has support for marijuana legalization in the Empire State at 56%, even as nearly as many respondents (52%) support banning all e-cigarettes and vaping devices from sale. An even higher number, 61%, support Gov. Andrew Cuomo's emergency executive order banning the sale of flavored e-cigarettes. Half, 52 percent, have used marijuana and 21 percent currently do.
Missouri Patients Won't Lose Welfare Over Medical Marijuana Use. After patients complained that their medical marijuana use put them at odds with a state law that requires welfare recipients to be screened for drug use, the state has revamped its policy. Department of Social Services spokeswoman Rebecca Woelfel said that the agency now exempts recipients with medical marijuana cards.
British Drug Advisory Panel Member Quits, Cites Political Interference. Professor Alex Stevens, a senior member of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), has resigned over the alleged "political vetting" of panel members by the government. The move comes after then crime minister Victoria Atkins blocked the appointment of Niamh Eastwood, the executive director of the drug policy nonprofit Release, after finding that she had previously criticized the Home Office and called for drug policy reform. Stevens said there was at least one other case of people being denied a place on the ACMD because of criticizing government drug policy. "I have resigned because of my concerns over the political vetting of potential members of the ACMD," Stevens said. "The political vetting fundamentally undermines the independence of the council," Stevens added. "It is supposed to be protected by the working protocol between the home secretary and the ACMD. This does not seem compatible if ministers exclude those who disagree with them."
British Government Replaces Minister Responsible for Drug Policy. Victoria Atkins, who had been responsible for drug policy for the Conservative Party, was quietly replaced in that position over the summer. She was replaced as minister of state for policing, crime, and fire services by Kit Malthouse, but it had been believed Atkins kept the drug portfolio. But on Monday, Malthouse's office confirmed he was now responsible for drug policy. He has recently been speaking for the government on drug policy issues and laying out a hard line against opening safe injection sites.
British Police Force to Begin Giving Free Heroin to Select Addicts. The police force in Cleveland, North Wales, will begin a program to provide free heroin to a small group of hardcore addicts. They will be provided with injectable pharmaceutical grade heroin at a National Health Service clinic three times a day. The idea is to reduce crimes committed by people seeking money to pay for their medications. Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger said the program would be available for heroin users "for whom all other treatment has failed and who are known to be the most active criminals in the town as they look to finance their addiction."
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Pharmacists in California will be able to dispense HIV prevention pills to patients without a doctor’s prescription after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation Monday that supporters say will greatly reduce the spread of infection. Advocates of Senate Bill 159 say that California is the first state to authorize pre-exposure prophylaxis, also called PrEP, and post-exposure prophylaxis, known as PEP, without prescriptions. California is already considered a leader in HIV/AIDS prevention, they say. PrEP is a once-daily […]
Pharmacists in California will be able to dispense HIV prevention pills to patients without a doctor's prescription after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation Monday that supporters say will greatly reduce the spread of infection.
Vancouver Proud Boy Tusitala “Tiny” ToeseDoug Brown
Police Brutality in Iraq: More than 100 anti-government protesters have been killed by Iraqi police over the past week. The massive demonstrations, focused on the country's low employment rate and government corruption, have been met with live rounds. At least three journalists covering the response have been jailed by the state government.
In Other Attacks on the Press: In the Chihuahua state of Mexico, a photojournalist was shot in the leg by a group of men who interrupted an interview with an alleged drug dealer. The interviewee was killed.
Rowena's Story: A former aid to Harvey Weinstein shares her #MeToo story. In Rowena Chiu's words: "Harvey Weinstein told me he liked Chinese girls. He liked them because they were discreet, he said — because they knew how to keep a secret. Hours later, he attempted to rape me."
Yohhhhh!!!! Tyler Perry built a Studio the size of a whole damn town!
That is success. 🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏
This is the only Studio own by an African-American in Hollywood.
Foul Play? The top witness in a Dallas trial who saw his neighbor, Botham Jean, die after a trigger-happy police officer mistook his apartment for hers was fatally shot Friday night.
Turn 'em Over: A federal judge in New York has ordered Donald Trump to release eight years of his tax returns—rejecting a prior appeal by Trump's lawyers. In the Monday ruling, the judge said he “cannot endorse such a categorical and limitless assertion of presidential immunity from judicial process."
Speaking Of Wealthy Dudes and Taxes:
Watch how radically taxes on the wealthy have fallen over the past 70 years:
Blame It On Rick: Trump went running to Congress Friday to accuse Energy Secretary Rick Perry of pressuring him to call the Ukrainian President and request an investigation into the Biden family. Perry, who doesn't exactly deny this claim, is stepping down from his cabinet position in November.
Dirty Money? Mayoral candidate Sarah Iannarone, meanwhile, is calling on Mayor Ted Wheeler to return the $15,500 he's collected in donations from a wealthy US ambassador who's questionably tied to the Trump impeachment investigation.
Homecoming: Multnomah County Sheriff's Deputies met local Proud Boy Tusitala “Tiny” Toese in the Portland International Airport late Friday with handcuffs. Toese, a violent staple in Patriot Prayer rallies, has been living abroad for the past eight months to avoid assault charges. His first court appearance is this morning.
Shut It Down: Gov. Brown has issued a 180-day ban on flavored vape products in Oregon after two Oregonians die from vape burns. (Now do guns.)
The Florida Education Association statewide teachers union issued a news release saying it was “encouraged to hear Gov. Ron DeSantis make clear that teacher pay matters to his administration.” But it also raised questions about how the plan would be funded and what it would do to help retain longstanding teachers.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – With a bandage above his left eye and a large, red welt below it, former President Jimmy Carter was greeted by a cheering crowd Monday morning as he prepared to help build a home with Habitat for Humanity in Nashville.
Carter fell at home on Sunday, requiring 14 stiches, but he did not let his injuries keep him from participating in his 36th building project with the nonprofit Christian housing organization. He turned 95 last Tuesday, becoming the first U.S. president to reach that milestone.
Before construction began, Carter led a morning devotion for a group of several hundred volunteers.
He walked slowly across the uneven, muddy ground to the stage helped by a cane and several people who were nearby to steady him. Once seated, Carter, who still teaches Sunday school twice a week at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia, spoke in a clear voice, peppering his inspirational message with jokes.
He spoke about Jesus’ brother James who taught that “if your life is not filled with peace, joy and thanksgiving, it’s your fault.“’
Carter said God gives us life and freedom. “With our freedom, every one of us can make a basic decision. … `What kind of person do I, myself, choose to be?“’
Carter said every person “can be a complete success in the eyes of God.”
Speaking about what makes a successful life, Carter reminded the crowd that Jesus was poor, and died young, abandoned by his closest friends.
“But Jesus lived a perfect life because he followed the will of God,” Carter said.
Joining Carter at the building site on Monday were former First Lady Rosalynn Carter; husband and wife country music stars Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood; and Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and First Lady Maria Lee.
Musician Eric Paslay played a song before Carter took the stage and joked about Carter’s injury as he introduced him.
“After that bar fight, you coming out, building houses … I love you to death,” Paslay said.
The race for the governor's mansion in Florida places the two candidates neck-and-neck, causing Gov. Rick Scott to resort to playing the "O" card against Charlie Crist. Ed Schultz, Ana Rivas Logan and Mike Papantonio discuss.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Republican Gov. Mike DeWine's new proposals to address Ohio gun violence in the wake of the Dayton mass shooting don't include background-check requirements for gun sales or a so-called red-flag law to restrict firearms for people perceived as threats, despite his earlier support of those ideas.
Instead, his administration detailed legislative proposals detailed Monday intended to increase and improve background checks and ensure people don't have firearms if a court has deemed them to be a danger. Among other changes, the "STRONG Ohio" plan also would increase penalties for anyone who provides a gun to someone who is legally prohibited from having one, and require that certain types of protection orders and arrest warrants be reflected in state and federal law enforcement databases to ensure more accurate background checks.
DeWine said his team consulted with city leaders, lawmakers and many others and worked to produce proposals that he believes will get results, protect people's rights — and be able to pass the Republican-led Legislature.
"They do not infringe on Second Amendment rights for anyone who has a legal right to own a gun," Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said. "What the plan does is put dangerous people — criminals — on notice that if you're a threat to yourself or others, you are not legally allowed to possess weapons, and we're going to build a system to ensure that you don't."
Husted said the idea of a red-flag law that still protected gun owners' due process proved "inadequate and unworkable" because of the time required for due process and the danger that could pose for law enforcement and because removing a weapon doesn't ensure the subject won't harm themselves or others. So-called red flag laws allow a court to temporarily seize guns from people believed to be a danger to themselves or others.
The news conference included the legislation's sponsor, GOP Sen. Matt Dolan, of Chagrin Falls, along with supportive statements from Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and Whitney Austin, a gun owner seriously wounded in a Cincinnati shooting last year.
Whaley, a Democrat, recalled how a crowd chanted "Do something!" as she and DeWine attended a vigil after a shooter in Dayton killed nine people in August. The new proposals don't do enough but are an "important start," she said.
"This is the first time in my career that I have witnessed our state government seriously consider restrictions on access to guns instead of allowing more dangerous weapons in our communities," Whaley said.
The top Democrat in the House, Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes, of Akron, objected more bluntly.
"When the people told the governor to do something, they didn't mean to do just anything," she said in a statement. "Ohioans want common sense gun safety. STRONG Ohio is weak."
Advocates from the anti-violence group Everytown for Gun Safety also criticized DeWine, saying he abandoned his earlier proposals and offered legislation that lacks needed changes.
Another group, Ohioans for Gun Safety, said it applauds DeWine's proposal but will continue its separate, ongoing push to use a petition process to change state law to require background checks on virtually all gun sales.
A detailed summary of the STRONG Ohio bill is available here. Key components of the bill will:
Create a process in Ohio law, similar to the current probate court process that directs those suffering from severe mental health conditions into court-ordered treatment, to give hospitals and courts a better ability to help those who are legally declared to be a danger to themselves or others due to drug dependency or chronic alcoholism;
Ensure that citizens have full due process at all probate court hearings;
Ensure that those legally declared by a judge to be a danger to themselves or others do not have access to firearms;
Give family members of those who may be a danger to themselves or others because of drug dependency or chronic alcoholism the ability to more easily petition the probate court for court-ordered treatment;
Mandate that law enforcement agencies and courts enter certain protection orders and arrest warrants for serious crimes into state and federal law enforcement databases to ensure more accurate background check results;
Create a new private-sale background check process that will increase the number of background checks conducted in Ohio while also protecting the privacy of law-abiding gun owners;
Create a legal safe harbor for firearms sellers who require private-sale background checks;
Increase penalties for those who sell or provide a firearm to someone legally prohibited from possessing a gun;
Give judges a range of sentences for felony cases in which a gun was either possessed, brandished, or used;
Increase the penalty for those who are found with a gun while legally prohibited from possessing a firearm;
Increase the penalty for selling a gun to a minor;
Increase penalties for straw purchases and knowingly possessing a straw-purchased gun.
If you were worried about the country turning into one big Handmaid's Tale scenario, you can sleep a little easier tonight. A federal judge blocked the bill from going into effect while it's being challenged. The restrictive law, which would ban abortion after a heartbeat is detected in the fetus, was supposed to go into effect on January 1st of next year. Abortions would be illegal at around six weeks into pregnancy, a point where many women don't even know they're pregnant. Currently, Georgia allows an abortion up to the 20th week of pregnancy, and that's the way it's going to stay for now.
In his ruling, Judge Jones noted that the U.S. supreme court has "repeatedly and unequivocally" held up Roe vs. Wade, and that the Constitution allows a woman to receive an abortion about 24 weeks into her pregnancy. "By banning abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, HB 481 prohibits women from making the ultimate decision to terminate her pregnancy at a point before viability," District Judge Steve C. Jones said.
The bill also would also count a fetus as a person once the heartbeat was detected, counting the fetus as part of the population of Georgia before they were born. Judge Jones had a problem with this change as well. "HB 481 changes the definition of a natural person in Georgia, but defendants have been unable to point to any guidance for law enforcement or the judiciary on how to implement that change throughout the code," Judge Jones wrote.
The federal judge's ruling comes after an intense debate over the bill. Despite an outcry against HB 481, it was signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp in May. Both the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia and Planned Parenthood sued the state of Georgia in June, shortly after the bill was signed. Other attempts at restrictive abortion laws in Arkansas and Mississippi have also been blocked.
The groups that moved to prevent the ban from going into place are celebrating. "To the countless Georgians who spoke out against this ban and were ignored, we promised to keep fighting every step of the way and we have," Staci Fox, president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood Southeast said in a statement. "To our partners, we promised we were in this together and we are. To Governor Kemp, we promised to see you in court, and we did. But most importantly, to our patients, we promised to protect access to safe, legal abortion and together we have."
Underscored need to pass legislation to implement recommendations of special commission...
Main Image Credit:
Governor Charlie Baker speaks about recommended legislation covering drivers impaired by chemical intoxication. (Courtesy of Gov. Baker)
BOSTON – Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito today joined state officials, road safety advocates, law enforcement officials and leaders of the cannabis industry to urge passage of the Administration’s impaired driving legislation. Following the Cannabis Control Commission’s approval last month of regulations for social consumption of marijuana, the group assembled at the State House today underscored the need to pass legislation that would implement recommendations made by the Special Commission on Operating Under the Influence and Impaired Driving.
The Governor and Lt. Governor were joined by Helen Witty, National President of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, David Torrisi, Executive Director of the Commonwealth Dispensary Association, Cannabis Control Commissioner Britte McBride and Walpole Police Chief John Carmichael.
“As Massachusetts continues to implement adult use of marijuana, including potential social consumption sites, it’s vital that we update our impaired driving laws to ensure the safety of everyone who uses the Commonwealth’s roads,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “This legislation which draws on thoughtful recommendations from a commission of a broad cross-section of stakeholders, gives public safety officials the tools they need to combat impaired driving and keep our roads safe.”
“Our Administration is committed to working with law enforcement officials and advocates in the public and private sector to combat impaired driving and ensure the safety of our residents and communities,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “We are grateful for these leaders’ support of this important legislation which will update our impaired driving laws as we confront new public safety challenges.”
According to Massachusetts crash statistics from 2013-2017, marijuana was the most prevalent drug (aside from alcohol) found in drivers involved in fatal crashes. In Colorado, where marijuana has been sold for adult use since 2014, traffic deaths involving drivers who tested positive for marijuana increased 109 percent while traffic deaths increased 31 percent, according to a report prepared by the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. Colorado also saw a marked increase in traffic deaths involving drivers who tested positive for marijuana which more than doubled from 55 in 2013 to 115 people killed in 2018. Since recreational marijuana was legalized, the percentage of all Colorado traffic deaths that were marijuana related increased from 15 percent in 2013 to 23 percent in 2018.
“While we trust that the overwhelming majority of adults who use cannabis will do so responsibly, our research shows that some marijuana users believe the myth that they drive better when high,” said Thomas Turco, Secretary of the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS). “It’s important that we state unequivocally that that is, in fact, a myth and that driving under the influence of cannabis is dangerous and potentially fatal.”
The Baker-Polito Administration’s bill is based on recommendations made by the Special Commission on Operating Under the Influence and Impaired Driving. The Special Commission is composed of a diverse set of stakeholders and experts, including police, prosecutors, medical and toxicological professionals, and representatives of the criminal defense bar and civil liberties community.
The proposed legislative changes in the bill include:
Adopting implied consent laws to suspend the driver’s licenses of arrested motorists who refuse to cooperate in chemical testing for drugs, as existing law has long required for arrested motorists who refuse breath testing for alcohol.
Adopting a statute authorizing courts to take judicial notice that ingesting THC, the active chemical in marijuana, can and does impair motorists.
Directing the Municipal Police Training Committee (MPTC) to expand the training of drug recognition experts and allowing them to testify as expert witnesses in civil and criminal cases.
Prohibiting drivers from having loose or unsealed packages of marijuana in the driver’s compartment of a vehicle, under the same provision of the motor vehicle code that has long prohibited driving with open containers of alcohol.
Permitting judicial notice of the scientific validity and reliability of the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, which would make it easier for the Commonwealth to introduce the results of that test at trial to demonstrate a driver’s intoxication.
Empowering police officers to seek electronic search warrants for evidence of chemical intoxication, as is the practice in over thirty other states. Any blood draw would have to be authorized by a neutral magistrate after a showing of probable cause and would be performed by a doctor, nurse, or other appropriate medical staff at a health care facility.
Developing educational materials and programming on drug impairment to share with trial court judges.
The Baker-Polito Administration recently kicked off an impaired driving educational campaign designed to reach men age 18 to 34, who are the most likely to be behind the wheel in impaired driving crashes. The campaign, titled “Wisdom,” was informed by focus groups made up of cannabis and alcohol users and conducted by the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security’s (EOPSS) Office of Grants and Research (OGR). The feedback was used to create TV spots featuring interviews of real people who were willing to share their perceptions about driving after consuming cannabis, alcohol, or other drugs.
“Our family – and the thousands we represent – know all too well the life-altering consequences of drunk and drugged driving,” said Helen Witty, National President of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. “My 16-year-old daughter, Helen Marie, was out rollerblading on a bike path near our Miami home in 2000 when she was run over and killed by a teenage driver impaired on alcohol and marijuana. I landed shattered in MADD’s lap, and determined to make sure this violent, preventable crime never happened to anyone else. MADD is grateful to the Baker-Polito Administration for doing everything they can to keep people from being needlessly injured or killed by impaired drivers.”
“An important goal of the commission’s work is to protect the health and safety of the people in our state as we navigate the new reality of legal adult use of cannabis. I am pleased to be here today to support the Baker-Polito Administration and their partners in promoting the safe use of marijuana and cannabis products,” said Britte McBride, Commissioner of the Cannabis Control Commission.
“We have made educating adults about the importance of responsible use of cannabis products a priority – and we hope the Legislature takes action on this bill,” said David Torrisi, Executive Director, Commonwealth Dispensary Association. “We welcome the opportunity to join the Baker-Polito administration in stressing the importance of safe driving habits, including planning for alternate transportation if using marijuana.”
Massachusetts Data (2013-2017) from the EOPSS Office of Grants and Research:
Marijuana was the most prevalent drug found in drivers involved in fatal crashes.
11 percent of drivers involved in fatal crashes were found with both alcohol and drugs in their system.
78 percent of impaired drivers in fatal crashes were men.
35 percent of drunk drivers involved in a fatal crash were 21-29 years old.
The number of drivers involved in a fatal crash who were alcohol-impaired (BAC .08+) and had drugs in their system increased by 63 percent (35 to 57).
From 2016 to 2017, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities decreased by 19 percent (148 to 120).
Last week, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed AB 730. The law makes it illegal to distribute manipulated videos designed to discredit a political candidate and deceive voters within 60 days of a general election.
Governor Signs Bill to Bring Public Banking to CA SACRAMENTO, Calif. – California may have a new type of bank by next year – the result of a bill signed yesterday by Gov. Gavin Newsom that sets up rules for the creation of public banks. ...(Read More)
If the stimulus plan were a Thanksgiving dinner entree, it would be a Turbaconducken -- the heart attack-inducing dish of roasted chicken stuffed inside a duck stuffed inside a turkey, all wrapped in endless slabs of bacon. But according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's fantasyland "fact sheet" released early Thursday afternoon, "there are no earmarks or pet projects" in the final package.
Trust her no further than you could throw a pot-bellied pig. Despite the self-delusional declarations of Pelosi and President Obama that no pet projects exist, Hill staffers spilled the beans on several new set-asides tacked onto the bill.
Thanks to Michigan's Democratic Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin, General Motors will receive a special tax break worth an estimated $7 billion to cover liabilities incurred when it accepted its $13.4 billion bailout from the Bush administration. The failing automaker has lined up for an addition $4 billion in bailout funds -- at which time they'll no doubt ask for another mega-tax liability waiver. The moochers' cycle never ends.
Then there's Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's Railway to Sin City. Appointing yourself a Senate conferee has its perks. Roughly $8 billion in perks.
Reid, you see, needs to stimulate his re-election bid, so he haggled with President Obama to tuck in a teeny, tiny, yes, porky amendment for high-speed rail lines. Reid has his eyes -- and paws -- on a proposed Los Angeles-to-Las Vegas magnetic levitation train. He has already sunk $45 million in previous earmarks into his, yes, pet project. Wasn't it earlier this week that Obama was lecturing companies not to travel to Las Vegas on the taxpayers' dime?
But I digress. Along with these not-earmarks, not-pet projects, there's $2 billion for impeached Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's pet FutureGen near-zero emissions power plant project, $300 million for souped-up "green" golf carts for government workers, $30 million for "smart appliances" and $65 million for digital TV coupons. According to Hill Republicans, money for basic highways and bridges was cut by $1 billion from the House-passed level, but:
-- $9 billion for school construction was added back in (originally cut by the Nelson-Collins "compromise");
-- $5 billion was added to the state fiscal stabilization fund (originally cut by Nelson-Collins), making it a grand total of $53.6 billion;
-- $1 billion was added back for Prevention & Wellness Programs, including STD education; and
-- $2 billion for neighborhood stabilization programs.
As I've reported previously, that "neighborhood stabilization" slush fund money will end up in the pockets of left-wing shakedown artists such as ACORN and the Massachusetts-based Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA), led by self-proclaimed "bank terrorist" Bruce Marks. There's an additional $3.25 billion in HUD grants and Community Development Block Grants in the bill that will also inevitably find its way into the coffers of these housing-entitlement lobbying groups.
Another egregious not-earmark earmark that survived untouched: $2 billion for the National Parks Service championed by House Democratic conferee and Appropriations Chairman Rep. David Obey. A report by the GOP minority on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee revealed that Obey's son, Craig, lobbied the panel and advocated for the stimulus plan on behalf of the National Parks Conservation Association.
All told -- and safely assuming the major spending provisions become permanently enshrined -- the final price tag of this government hogzilla of all hogzillas over the next 10 years will be a whopping $3.27 trillion with a capital "T."
The event turned into a full-blown revival meeting when Obama announced that the Senate had passed his massive stimulus plan. Audience members erupted into applause. Tongues of fire descended from the sky. Loaves and fishes (or rather, pork and Kool-Aid) multiplied miraculously into trillions for all. GOP Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina didn't know how right he was when he warned over the weekend: "We're moving precipitously close to what I would call a savior-based economy."
Like Mighty Mouse, President Obama is here to save the day. The government is here to help -- and it is your patriotic duty to pay for it all without preconditions. Hughes didn't explain the cause of her financial turmoil. Obama didn't ask. And if we conservatives dare to question the circumstances -- and the underlying assumption that it is government's (that is, taxpayers') role to bail her out -- we'll be lambasted as cruel haters of the downtrodden.
Woe unto ye unbelievers in Big Government who cling to what Obama derided as "ideological rigidity."
Well, pardon my unbending belief in fairness and personal responsibility, but why should my tax dollars go to feed the housing entitlement beast? At his fear-mongering press conference Monday night, Obama lamented that homeowners "are seeing their property values decline." Countrywide crony Sen. Chris Dodd successfully stuffed $50 billion into the just-passed stimulus package for Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to spend on "mandatory loan modifications" for homeowners deep underwater on their mortgages. That's in addition to the $20 billion already allocated by the House last month for the same purposes.
Banks have been engaged in these "Mo Mod" programs over the past year. Democrats want to accelerate the pace and use the power of government to essentially provide a blanket amnesty for borrowers and lenders who made bad financial decisions. Yes, there are many responsible borrowers out there having trouble negotiating loan modifications. But this $50 billion giveaway to the banks -- on top of the upward of $2 trillion more from the Treasury department, on top of the $700 billion in original "TARP" funding -- is throwing more bad money after bad.
This massive expansion of government meddling in the housing market -- yet another attempt to get federal bureaucrats in the business of rewriting loan contracts and reducing principal -- will just delay the inevitable. A report released by the Comptroller of the Currency in December showed that more than half of loans modified in the first quarter of 2008 fell 30 days delinquent within six months. And after six months, 35 percent of people were 60 or more days behind on their payments.
Where's the fairness in forcing prudent homeowners and renters to subsidize people who bought overpriced houses and rescue the banks that lent to them?
Tellingly, Obama chose Ft. Myers to drum up support for his wealth redistributionism. The area has been one of the hardest hit by foreclosures, as the president was quick to point out. But many of those homes are second or third homes and investment properties. And low housing prices are not a catastrophe for everyone. They've created opportunities for Americans who haven't been able to buy in an artificially inflated market. The median sales price of a home in the Ft. Myers area fell 50 percent to $106,900, from $215,200 in December 2007. Bargain-priced home sales are up 146 percent from a year ago.
It's sacrilegious to say it in the Age of Obama, but it needs to be said: Home ownership is not an entitlement. Credit is not a civil right. Your property-value preservation is not my problem. Can I get an "Amen!"?
Casting herself as an environmental expert, Judd attacked Palin for "casting aside science and championing the slaughter of wildlife." The video shows a wolf being shot, writhing in pain, with an ominous soundtrack throbbing and menacing photos of Palin flashing across the screen. "Riddled with gunshots, biting at their backs in agony, they die (pause for quiver) a brutal death," Judd enunciates slowly as wolf squeals punctuate the video.
Defenders of Wildlife assails Gov. Palin for proposing a $150 bounty for every wolf killed by aerial hunters. She's cruel and bloodthirsty, and she must be stopped!
It's a compelling black-and-white storyline. But like the world Judd inhabits, this plot is make-believe.
Fact is, the policy is intended to protect other animals -- moose and caribou -- from overpopulation of wolves. Alaskans rely on caribou and moose for food. Not all Americans care to live on environmentally correct starlet diets of tofu salad and Pinkberry yogurt.
Neither Palin nor the aerial hunters in those scary low-flying planes that have Judd quivering promote the program out of malice and animal insensitivity. On the contrary, they are the true compassionate conservationists. The bounty helped state biologists collecting wolf age data and provided incentives to reduce the wolf population when wildlife management efforts had fallen behind. This is about predator control. But to liberal, gun-control zealots thousands of miles away, it's all heartless murder.
Federal law makes specific exceptions to aerial hunting for the protection of "land, water, wildlife, livestock, domesticated animals, human life or crops." Targets are not limited to wolves. And, as Alaska wildlife officials note, the process is tightly controlled and "designed to sustain wolf populations in the future."
No matter. As Judd proclaimed, "It is time to stop Sarah Palin."
That is the true aim of left-wing lobbying groups and their allies in Hollywood. Palin is a threat not to Alaska's wolves, but to the liberal establishment's wolves. Defenders of Wildlife isn't targeting the ads in states affected by these policies. They're running the Judd-fronted ads across battleground states. It's about electoral interests, not wildlife interests. The eco-Kabuki theater is just plain laughable.
On a deadly serious note, Judd's selective concern for savagery is not lost on longtime observers of the activist entertainer's political forays. A militant, pro-choice feminist, Judd lashed out at the Republican ticket during the campaign: "[A] woman voting for McCain and Palin is like a chicken voting for Colonel Sanders." Yet, not a peep has been heard from Judd about the serial predators of Planned Parenthood who have been caught on tape urging young girls to cover up statutory rape to facilitate abortion procedures. And she won't be starring in any YouTube ads decrying grisly late-term abortion procedures.
In a starlet's world, "senseless savagery" only applies to the poster pet of the month.
Gov. Cuomo has approved a bill (S55/A4315) that requires the State Liquor Authority (SLA) to create and maintain a public database of information specific to on-premises liquor licenses.
Two local elected officials — Assemblywoman Deborah Glick and Sen. Brad Hoylman — sponsored the bill that will enable residents a means to look up information on a bar, including whether it has permits for live music or sidewalk seating.
The two released statements on Friday after Cuomo's signature made it all official:
Community boards, block associations, and residents across my district have for years called upon the State Liquor Authority to make information on these licenses more available and accessible, so that they can better understand their impact on our neighborhoods. This is basic, good government. Yet until now, to our enormous frustration, the only option for the public to learn this information was through filing a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request.
You shouldn’t have to file a FOIL request just to find out whether a bar in your neighborhood has a liquor license that permits live music or an outside patio. What’s more, under these constraints, police precincts aren’t able to respond to neighborhood noise complaints — as they have no way to confirm whether an establishment is operating within the parameters of their license or not.
For too long, it has been nearly impossible for community members to get very basic information about State Liquor Authority licensees that operate in our neighborhood. Now that liquor license information will be easily obtainable, people can see for themselves if nearby establishments are being good neighbors and are operating within the constraints of their license.
The news release included a statement from Susan Stetzer, district manager for Community Board 3: "Having information available online would be a tremendous help. We spend a lot of time working with community groups and with our local precincts to resolve issues that require information about a licensed business, particularly method of operation and outdoor use questions."
No word on when the SLA will actually make this online resource available to the public.
Republican Gov. Bill Lee has appointed the members of the Public Charter School Commission. The Public Charter School Commission hears appeals from charter schools when their application is rejected by local school boards. The appointees to the board representing the Davidson County, middle Tennessee region are David Hanson and Mary Pierce. These are both good choices.
Mary Pierce is a former member of the Metro School Board who was the member most friendly to charter schools among a board that was very hostile. David Hanson is a board member of the Beacon Center, Teach For America Nashville, and Valor charter schools.
This commission was created in April of this year. Prior to the creation of this agency, appeals from local school board were heard by the State Board of Education which very rarely overturned a decision of a local school board rejecting a charter application. Below is the complete list of appointees.
Tom Griscom of Hamilton County, East Tennessee Representative David Hanson of Davidson County, Middle Tennessee Representative Alan Levine of Washington County, East Tennessee Representative Terence Patterson of Shelby County, West Tennessee Representative Mary Pierce of Davidson County, Middle Tennessee Representative Christine Richards of Shelby County, West Tennessee Representative Derwin Sisnett of Shelby County, West Tennessee Representative Eddie Smith of Knox County, East Tennessee Representative Wendy Tucker of Williamson County, Middle Tennessee Representative
Have you ever been out walking your dog and wanted to stop by an outdoor cafe for a quick bite or a drink? Well, now you can according to a new bill signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott last week.
According to the law, restaurants can allow patrons to have their dogs with them in outdoor dining areas as long as the restaurant posts signs to that effect and don't allow the canines inside the restaurants...