Thursday, February 28, 2013

Paying off the unions

NLRB Pays Two Employees $100K Each to Work for the Union

By Brad Tidwell- ALG’s FOIA request found two NLRB employees making over $100K for working on nothing but internal union issues.
Americans for Limited Government (ALG) has discovered through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request that there are two official time full-time employees of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) who make over $100,000 each. These are employees whose official job is to handle internal NLRB union activities exclusively, rather than carrying out any of the NLRB’s official responsibilities.
Bert Pearlston, General Attorney (Labor) for the NLRB, made $141,726.00 per year, and Steven Sloper, Labor Management Relations Examiner made $116,240.00. With the national median salary at $40,300 and unemployment of 7.9%, jobs like these would be highly sought in the private sector.
This is in addition to the approximately $510,000 the NLRB pays other employees for part time “official time” union work, or work that only deals with internal NLRB union activities, not the actual official work of the NLRB. As Breitbart reported last week:
…the agency with the highest per-capita use of official time is the National Labor Relations Board. NLRB used 12.38 hours per employee, meaning each of the NLRB’s 1,043 employees required a day and a half of paid representation over the course of FY 2011. The cost of that time was $768,465.14.
The NLRB has run rampant for far too long. ALG is working on legislation to reform the NLRB, and you can get involved. Visit our website at to get involved.


The money will not go to roads, it will go to welfare of one sort or another

It's official: Gas tax going up

FILE - In this Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, file photo, a boogie boarder walks past a sign displaying high gas prices in Laguna Beach, Calif. Higher gas costs drove up U.S. consumer prices in September for the second straight month. But outside energy, there was little sign of inflation. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson) — AP
FILE - In this Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, file photo, a boogie boarder walks past a sign displaying high gas prices in Laguna Beach, Calif. Higher gas costs drove up U.S. consumer prices in September for the second straight month. But outside energy, there was little sign of inflation. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson) — AP
The tax you pay on a gallon of gas will rise by 3.5 cents in California come July 1.
The state Board of Equalization voted 3-2 on Thursday to increase the excise tax about 10 percent, from 36 cents per gallon to 39.5 cents per gallon.
The increase is partly due to a $157 million shortfall in gas-tax revenue in fiscal 2012, and also a projection of less consumption by California drivers.
The state legislature switched its gas taxation system in 2010 so it could re-appropriate some of the gas tax money from road maintenance to other areas. It reduced the sales tax from 8.25 percent to 2.25 percent, but roughly doubled the excise tax to 35.3 cents. The excise tax has increased multiple times since, but previous hikes were by fractions of cents.
An excise tax is a tax on an individual product purchased, not based on the price. The publicly elected Board of Equalization must set the rate each year by March 1 so that the state generates the same amount of tax revenue it would have had it remained under the previous sales-tax system. Taxable sales of gasoline in California have fallen from 15.9 billion gallons in fiscal year 2006 to 14.6 billion gallons in fiscal year 2012.
A January study by the American Petroleum Institute listed California's gas taxes as second highest in the nation behind New York. After the July 1 tax increase, however, the 70.1 cents average tax per gallon will lead the nation.
Prices for regular gas in California are already among the highest in the nation. On Wednesday, the average price for a regular gallon of gas was $4.238, up from $3.69 a month ago. California's prices are second only to Hawaii, the Auto Club reported.
A person who drives 15,000 miles per year at 20 miles per gallon will pay an extra $26.25 per year in gas taxes. That's on top of the $478 per year in state, federal and sales taxes.
The sales tax on a gallon of diesel will increase by 1.94 percentage points, but the excise tax will stay at 10 cents per gallon.
Democrats Jerome Horton, Betty Yee, and John Chiang voted yes on the measure. Republicans George Runner and Michelle Steele voted against raising the excise tax. The publicly elected members can serve up to two four-year terms.
Board member George Runner, who voted no on the tax increase, said he took issue with a lack of transparency on the tax increase, and he said the state should not be in the business of predicting the volatile gas prices. He said the catch-up from fiscal 2012 only represented 1 cent of the 3.5 cent increase.
"This has nothing to do with good tax policy," he said. "This had everything to do with trying to solve a budget problem in 2010."
Board member Betty Yee, who voted to raise the tax, said she did so because it is the board's duty under the 2010 law to set the rate so that tax revenue remains consistent.
"We do it based on the best information possible," she said. "The rate was to be set so there still would be revenue."
Alan Gin, an economist at the University of San Diego, said he didn't think the price increase would affect demand for gasoline, but said it would gradually hit consumer spending.
"When the price of a gallon of gas goes up normally the money goes to oil companies," Gin said. "This time the state is taking it in terms of tax revenue so they could take that money and help offset the state deficit or could be spending it on programs."
The board in a statement said the excise tax revenues fund highway and mass transit projects, while the sales tax revenues go to local government programs.

If they fix the roads, they'll have no leverage to increase taxes in the future.

The environmentalists dream for you...

Living in a box: The desperate workers forced to live in tiny 'coffin' apartments of Tokyo - which still cost up to £400 a month to rent

Another one of Obama's crony companies

Google Helped Honor FTC Chairman During Agency Inquiry

Google Inc. (GOOG) contributed $25,000 to honor the chairman of the Federal Trade Commission while the company was under investigation by the agency for antitrust violations, Senate records show.
Google donated the money to Common Sense Media Inc., a San Francisco-based advocacy group that gave FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz an award for his work in developing policies to help children, according to a January disclosure report. Google was listed as one of the sponsors of the awards ceremony along with several other companies, including Comcast Corp., AOL Inc. and a charitable arm of Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
At the time, the FTC was investigating whether Mountain View, California-based Google unfairly disadvantaged competing websites by favoring its own services in search results. The agency ended the 20-month antitrust probe on Jan. 3 with no enforcement action. Google agreed to voluntary changes in some search practices and signed a consent decree regarding the use of certain patents.
“It’s a little bit odd that they’re donating to Common Sense Media at the exact same time they’re trying to influence Jon Leibowitz,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a watchdog group. “It really looks terrible.”

Broad Support

Google has “supported these organizations’ work for at least the past five years, long before any investigation, alongside many other companies” including AOL, Comcast, AT&T Inc., Microsoft Corp., and Verizon Communications Inc., said a company spokeswoman, Niki Fenwick.
Leibowitz, who had been chairman since 2009, announced on Feb. 1 that he would leave the commission. The White House announced today that current commissioner Edith Ramirez will succeed him as chairman. Mitch Katz, an FTC spokesman, declined to comment for this article, as did Marisa Connolly, a spokeswoman for Common Sense Media.
Google was the only corporate sponsor of Common Sense Media’s April 25, 2012, awards ceremony to report its contribution under a 2007 law that requires registered lobbyists and those companies and trade associations that hire advocates to disclose to Congress their political giving. Google also sponsored the event in 2010 and 2011, according to the advocacy group’s website, without reporting those donations.

Connected World

“It’s probably better to avoid this type of thing. The appearance raises a question or two” for both the FTC and Google, said Charles Elson, director of the John L. Weinberg Center forCorporate Governance at the University of Delaware. At the same time, “in this close, connected world, things like this will appear,” he said.
Kenneth Gross, a campaign-finance expert with the law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, said the law requires disclosure when companies play major roles in setting up events. They aren’t required to report modest donations, such as reserving a table.
Even so, some companies do report donations when they aren’t required to, he said. “I’ve seen a lot companies err on the side of disclosure,” Gross said.
Besides Leibowitz, five others, including entertainers Nick Cannon and Bridgit Mendler, at the event were honored for their work in helping children navigate media and technology. Previous winners of the award include former President Bill Clinton and filmmaker George Lucas.
Mitch Katz, an FTC spokesman, declined to comment for this article, as did Marisa Connolly, a spokeswoman for Common Sense Media.

Probe Conclusion

In the Google antitrust probe, Leibowitz concluded that, while some evidence suggested the company was trying to eliminate competition, its “primary reason” for changing the look of search results was to improve user experience.
Google agreed to let websites remove their content from targeted search services such as Google Shopping or Google Local without removing or demoting that content in the main Google search engine. In the consent decree, the company also agreed to limits on when it can seek to block sales of competitors’ products that rely on so-called standard-essential patents.

FCC Honors

This is at least the second time Google helped recognize top regulators in the middle of a government probe.
In October 2011, Google reported spending $80,000 to honor Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski and Commissioner Michael Copps, Senate records show.
The FCC announced an investigation of Google’s Street View product in November 2010. It ended the probe in April 2012 after fining Google $25,000 for failing to cooperate with investigators, which drew this admonition from Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, the following month: “How are you protecting our privacy with a $25,000 fine?”
As Google has come under scrutiny, it has boosted its lobbying spending and its political action committee donations to federal candidates.
Google spent $18.2 million on lobbying last year, including $1.7 million by its Motorola Mobility subsidiary acquired in May. That was almost double the $9.7 million it spent on Washingtonadvocacy in 2011.

Lobbying Increase

The increased spending boosted the company into the top 10 lobbying organizations, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based research group that tracks expenditures.
Its PAC gave $885,500 to candidates for the 2012 elections, more than double the $343,000 in donations made for the 2010 races, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
In addition, those working for Google and their families gave $805,120 to President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, second only to those at Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) among corporate employees.
“When you start having problems, you start lobbying, you start making political donations and you start financing the favored charities of those you wish to influence,” Sloan said.

The great shift...

Moscow is billionaires' capital of the world

Moscow has the greatest number of billionaires of any city in the world, according to a global rich list, with London in fifth place.

Asia has more billionaires than North America

A Chinese wealth survey has found that Asia has more billionaires than any other continent, apparently surpassing North America for the first time.

Do you think liberals care if business is damaged?

Store owners say plastic bag ban causes more shoplifting

Thieves with reusable bags harder to track, Seattle store owners say

Lying for the cause or just plain ignorant?

Maxine Waters: 'Over 170 Million Jobs Could Be Lost' Due To Sequestration

Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) claimed today that "over 170 million jobs" could be lost due to sequestration. Later in the presser, Rep. Waters corrected herself, saying it was only "750,000 jobs" that could be lost.
Starting at around 0:30… 
Yesterday we did have Mr. Bernanke in our committee and he came to tell us what he’s doing with quantitative easing and that is trying to stimulate the economy with the bond purchases that he’s been doing because he’s trying to keep the interest rates low and jobs – and he said that if sequestration takes place, that’s going to be a great setback. We don’t need to be having something like sequestration that’s going to cause these jobs losses, over 170 million jobs that could be lost – and so he made it very clear he’s not opposed to cuts but cuts must be done over a long period of time and in a very planned way rather than this blunt cutting that will be done by sequestration. As you know in this committee we have all of HUD and HUD is responsible for so many programs that determine the quality of life for women and families. CBDG, a form of grant programs will be cut by $153 million dollars, these are grants that help with cities and children and low-income programs. We also will cut the Home Program by $52 million if sequestration takes place, Native American Housing grants by $34 million, House and Choice grants $113 million, Public Housing – mostly single women in Public Housing – another $304 million, and homelessness, everybody claims to be concerned with homelessness and the growing number of women and children who are out their homeless but look they will take a $99 million dollar hit and on and on and on. We are here today, one more time, talking about women and children and families and how we can protect our women, children, and families and have a decent quality of life – sequestration will set us back, all of the gains that we have made will be lost with sequestration. 
 And all the lost jobs will be in the African American community, right?

Understanding why the Violence Against Women Act is constitutionally flawed

GOP House Schedules Vote on Bill That Will Strip Constitutional Rights from Americans Tried by Indian Tribes

( - The House Republican leadership has scheduled a floor vote on Thursday on a Senate version of the Violence Against Women Act that, if enacted, would strip constitutional rights from Americans prosecuted by Indian tribes for alleged acts of domestic violence.
The bill was sponsored by Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, and opposed by the conservative bloc in the Republican Senate Conference--as well as by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Senate conservatives Ted Cruz of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah, Tim Scott of South Carolina, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Marco Rubio of Florida, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin all voted against it.
According to the Congressional Research Service, the language in this Senate bill, if enacted, means that "the Constitution will not apply" to Americans tried by Indian tribes for alleged acts of domestic violence. These Americans, according to the CRS, will not have recourse to the Bill of Rights.
Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, who also voted against the bill, and who co-sponsored an unsuccessful amendment that would have fixed the constitutional problem regarding Indian tribes, explained the issue in Senate floor debate.
"The problem with the underlying bill is simple: It denies constitutional rights to certain American citizens," said Cornyn. "I am stunned that some of my colleagues are okay with this. I am stunned that some self-proclaimed civil liberties organizations apparently have no objection to a flagrant violation of the U.S. Constitution. They believe somehow that Congress could legislate away constitutional rights. It cannot. The Constitution is the fundamental law of the land and no act of Congress can violate the Constitution and stand. Constitutional rights should not and are not negotiable. They are not bargaining chips in a Washington parlor game. They are permanent, and they are sacrosanct."
"Senator Leahy's bill, the underlying bill, would let certain U.S. citizens be prosecuted for domestic violence in Native American tribal courts without their full constitutional rights and without an ability to pursue an appeal in the federal court system," said Cornyn. "Once again, we all understand this. Congress cannot legislate away constitutional rights. This bill, if passed in its current form, would purport to do that."
The problematic language in the Leahy bill that the Republican leadership is bringing up for a vote in the House on Thursday grants the Indian tribes "inherent power" in domestic violence cases "over all persons"--including Americans who are not members of the tribe.
The bill says: "Notwithstanding any other provision of law, in addition to all powers of self-government recognized and affirmed by sections 201 and 203, the powers of self-government of a participating tribe include the inherent power of that tribe, which is hereby recognized and affirmed, to exercise special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction over all persons."
Congressional Research Service analysis of the tribal provisions in the Violence Against Women Act explained that Congress could have used alternative language to give Indian tribes the power to try non-members in domestic violence cases, while not stripping the non-tribe-member U.S. citizen of his or her constitutional rights. However, CRS said, a bill that recognized the "inherent" power of Indian tribes to try these cases would strip Americans of constitutional rights.
"The dichotomy between delegated and inherent power of tribes has important constitutional implications," said the CRS report. "If Congress is deemed to delegate its own power to the tribes to prosecute crimes, all the protections accorded criminal defendants in the Bill of Rights will apply. If, on the other hand, Congress is permitted to recognize the tribes’ inherent sovereignty, the Constitution will not apply.
"Instead," said CRS, "criminal defendants must rely on statutory protections under the Indian Civil Rights Act or tribal law. Although the protections found in these statutory and constitutional sources are similar, there are several important distinctions between them. Most importantly, if inherent sovereignty is recognized and only statutory protections are triggered, defendants may be subjected to double jeopardy for the same act; may not be able to exercise fully their right to counsel; may have no right to prosecution by a grand jury indictment; may not have access to a representative jury of their peers; and may have limited federal appellate review of their cases."

We don't need no stinkin' jobs

Obama Administration Sends 1,400 Jobs Overseas

Late Wednesday, the Obama administration awarded an aviation contract to Brazil-based Embraer. The contract is for a fleet of Light Air Support (LAS) aircraft that will be used by the nascent Afghan air force in its fight against the Taliban.
Two firms vied for the contract, Embraer and Hawker Beechcraft, which is based in Wichita, KS. The contracting process was plagued with bias against Hawker, which has yet to be accounted for or explained.
The Obama administration’s decision sends most of the 1,400 jobs the contract will create out of the United States to Brazil, and to a company that is essentially state-run and has ties to Iran.
Reaction to the administration’s decision to send $427.4 million taxpayer dollars and 1,400 jobs overseas has been swift.
David Williams, president of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, says “After a long-drawn-out contracting process that has been marred in controversy and questionable conduct by government officials, the Pentagon and the Obama Administration have again decided to put taxpayers at risk and ship jobs overseas by allowing a foreign company to produce important components of our national security.
“On Thursday February 27th, Department of Defense (DOD) officials awarded the Light Air Support (LAS) contract to the Brazilian aircraft maker, Embraer.  Interestingly and without explanation, the cost of the contract to taxpayers somehow ballooned from $355 million to $427.5 million, a 20 percent increase.  With sequestration and billions of dollars in defense cuts set to take place, taxpayers should be outraged at this cost increase.
“By awarding the contract to the Brazilians, the Administration has once again failed to give Beechcraft, the American-made aircraft manufacturer vying for the contract, the full and fair consideration that was required during the procurement process
“…Now, the Administration is doubling-down on their prior mistakes by putting a critical defense project in the hands of a foreign sovereign. The extent of the carnage this decision causes is not just limited to the millions that will be sent overseas for these 20 LAS aircraft in the near-term. There are broader implications and untold billions of taxpayer dollars at stake by the Pentagon’s decision to grant the U.S. Air Force’s seal of approval to a foreign entity – backed financially and politically by Brazil.  The Brazilian government has a “golden share” in Embraer, which essentially translates into operational control of the company.  Not only does this put tax dollars at risk with the Brazilian company, but also could threaten US national security. The Administration’s unjustifiable endorsement of this Brazilian company could be exploited by them to gain unfair and unwarranted advantages in the U.S. and around the world. Meanwhile, domestic manufacturers are forced to cut jobs and highly skilled workers remain unemployed here at home.
“Therefore, we call on the Administration and DOD officials to halt this procurement process immediately and provide taxpayers a reasonable explanation as why they are prioritizing the interests of a foreign sovereign company ahead of the American worker and risking billions of taxpayer dollars.”

Your tax dollars at work

House report says 'big-ticket' conferences cost taxpayers $340M

Seven minutes...hardly time to set up a tee

Republican leaders’ sequester ‘meeting’ with Obama: Seven minutes

Never let it be said that President Obama has failed to spend time with Republican leaders in seeking an alternative to automatic budget cuts that are due to hit most federal departments Friday. On Wednesday, for example, the president gave GOP lawmakers as much as seven minutes, a rare face-to-face encounter that the White House described as a "meeting."
The White House's characterization of this momentary huddle at the Capitol as a meeting illuminates Mr. Obama's strategy in dealing with Republicans on the budget cuts and other fiscal deadlines.
With speeches and other staged events, the president has tried to build public pressure for his agenda of tax increases coupled with spending cuts.
But he has made little time for negotiating directly with lawmakers who oppose his plans.
"It is a sincere conviction among Republicans that the president's negotiating posture isn't about getting a deal done, it's a zero-sum political game where his aim is to destroy the Republican [House] majority in the next election," said Steve Schmidt, a Republican strategist who served in 2008 as Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign manager. "It's certainly not an effective strategy for a leader in search of a deal."
Since Mr. Obama's contentious deficit-reduction talks with Republican leaders in 2011, which resulted in the "sequester" cuts set to take effect Friday, the president has been taking his case to the public on questions of taxation and spending.
Mr. Obama made his re-election campaign a referendum on his policies to aid the middle class and to force wealthier households to pay more, both for reducing deficits and for spending more on certain areas such as education, infrastructure and research.
Months before he won a second term in November, Mr. Obama predicted that his re-election would break the Republican "fever" that he viewed as the GOP's knee-jerk opposition to his agenda. Since his victory Nov. 6, the president has been telling lawmakers who are fighting his efforts to raise taxes that elections have consequences.
His strategy worked in the "fiscal cliff" negotiations at the end of last year, resulting in a tax hike on households earning more than $450,000 per year and a temporary extension of the nation's borrowing limit. There were few direct negotiating sessions with Republicans, the president preferring instead to call on the public to pressure GOP lawmakers into making a deal.
Now he is trying the same tactics, warning the public of airport delays, lax border security and thousands of teacher layoffs if the pending budget cuts take effect. He is trying to force Republicans to agree to ending tax breaks, mainly for wealthy individuals and corporations, that would raise as much as $580 billion.
"I'm not interested in playing a blame game," Mr. Obama told shipyard workers in Newport News, Va., on Tuesday. "All I'm interested in is just solving problems. I want us to be able to look back five years from now, 10 years from now, and say we took care of our business and we put an end to some of these games that maybe, I guess, are entertaining for some but are hurting too many people."
Said Republican strategist Whit Ayres, "The president is really good at campaigning and really bad at governing. So he's doing what he's good at."
Mr. Schmidt said the president may have miscalculated that he can beat congressional Republicans with this strategy again because they conceded on tax increases two months ago.
"Republicans gave in on the higher tax rates on the revenue front, but that doesn't mean a permanent acquiescence on these issues," Mr. Schmidt said. "The president is beating Republicans in a public argument, but in fact Republicans are highly likely to retain the [House] majority because of demographics and where the competitive races are. If you're lurching from crisis to crisis, people eventually get numb to it. There's a 'boy who cried wolf' quality to it."
The president's effort to blame Republicans for the sequester is particularly galling to lawmakers who remember how it came about in the summer of 2011. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, gave a brief history of the episode Tuesday on the Senate floor.
"I was less than 100 yards from this very spot when Vice President Biden called me at my desk to lay it out," Mr. McConnell recalled. "He explained the sequester in exquisite detail, and then, as has been reported, the administration stubbornly stuck by those details throughout the negotiations, refusing any effort by Republicans to adjust its design in any way."
Since the fiscal cliff negotiations ended Jan. 1, Mr. McConnell's aides say the president did not reach out to him on the sequesters until making a phone call last week. The two men didn't have any personal encounters until Wednesday at the Capitol.
Mr. Obama's motorcade arrived at the Capitol at 10:57 a.m. for the dedication of a statue of civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks. The ceremony began at 11:04 a.m. Somewhere in between, White House spokesman Jay Carney said, the president held a "brief meeting" on the budget cuts with Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, and Mr. McConnell.
Pressed by reporters about the substance of a meeting that lasted less time than the average person's morning shower, Mr. Carney conceded that the president mainly discussed his "anticipation" of a Friday meeting at the White House with congressional leaders.
That session, widely perceived as a photo opportunity, will be held on the same day that the budget cuts are to begin taking effect.

The nation's crazy uncle Joe

Vice President Joe Biden’s fondness for his shotguns has been documented by the Washington Free Beacon, and he continued to promote the use of these dangerous weapons in an interview with the outdoor website, Field and Stream 
F&S: What about the other uses, for self-defense and target practice?
BIDEN: Well, the way in which we measure it is—I think most scholars would say—is that as long as you have a weapon sufficient to be able to provide your self-defense. I did one of these town-hall meetings on the Internet and one guy said, “Well, what happens when the end days come? What happens when there’s the earthquake? I live in California, and I have to protect myself.”
I said, “Well, you know, my shotgun will do better for you than your AR-15, because you want to keep someone away from your house, just fire the shotgun through the door.” Most people can handle a shotgun a hell of a lot better than they can a semiautomatic weapon in terms of both their aim and in terms of their ability to deter people coming. We can argue whether that’s true or not, but it is no argument that, for example, a shotgun could do the same job of protecting you. Now, granted, you can come back and say, “Well, a machine gun could do a better job of protecting me.” No one’s arguing we should make machine guns legal.

Red vs Blue

From Michael Walsh in the Corner.

Over at Instapundit, Glenn Reynolds links to a typically perceptive column by Joel Kotkin about the explosive economic growth in regions dominated by red states, which are now attracting migrants from the failed blue states, and then offers this observation:
The danger, of course, is that these immigrants will bring the same toxic blue-state politics with them that produced the disasters they’re fleeing. Someone should set up a sort of Welcome Wagon — an education program for these immigrants that will encourage them to appreciate the policy and cultural differences that led to the prosperity that’s attracted them.
A good place to start might be by withholding the vote in state and local elections for a reasonable period — say, 50 years — until they get acclimated to their new environments. When I was growing up in southern California in the fifties and early sixties, the Golden State was conservative, pragmatic, and can-do, a place where nothing was impossible and the state leaders felt it their duty to take what God had given them and work to improve it.
Today, the place is a high-tax, high-regulation bankrupt mess administered by a Sacramento satrapy infested with leftist crackpots bent on destroying as much of California’s prosperity as they can while living a fantasy existence in their protected enclaves. As Kotkin notes of the “red state growth corridors”:
Historically, these regions were little more than resource colonies or low-wage labor sites for richer, more technically advanced areas. By promoting policies that encourage enterprise and spark economic growth, they’re catching up.
Over the Left’s dead body: now they’re trying to do the same thing they did to California to places like Texas, in part to break the Lone Star State’s electoral-votes bloc at the national political level, but also just for the hell of it. They’re like the aliens inIndependence Day, moving from planet to planet, sucking the life out of one world and then moving on to the next. That they’re leaving behind the hollowed-out corpses of once-great places like California, Illinois, Massachusetts, and New York is of no moment to them. There’s only one thing they want conservative America to do:

But not for the political elites in Washington DC

New Cars Increasingly Out of Reach for Many Americans

Obama the thug. Want more proof the Progressives are tyrants at heart

WASHINGTON -- Bob Woodward isn't the only person who's received threats for airing the Obama administration's dirty laundry.  It seems anyone is a potential target of the White House these days - even former senior members of the Clinton administration.
A day after Woodward's claim that a senior White House official had told him he would "regret" writing a column criticizing President Obama's stance on the sequester, Lanny Davis, a longtime close advisor to President Bill Clinton, told WMAL's Mornings on the Mall Thursday he had received similar threats for newspaper columns he had written about Obama in the Washington Times.
Davis told WMAL that his editor, John Solomon, "received a phone call from a senior Obama White House official who didn't like some of my columns, even though I'm a supporter of Obama. I couldn't imagine why this call was made."  Davis says the Obama aide told Solomon, "that if he continued to run my columns, he would lose, or his reporters would lose their White House credentials."

Davis says he does not know if the White House official involved in his case is the same one who is alleged to have threatened Woodward, but he says the language used in both cases is very similar.  In any case, Davis says his editor, Solomon, was not worried by the threat.
"He didn't take it seriously, because he didn't think that could ever happen.  He thought it was bluster," Davis told WMAL. "I called three senior people at the White House, and I said, 'I want this person to be told this can never happen again, and it's inappropriate.'  I got a call back from someone who was in the White House saying it will never happen again."

If it did happen again, Davis believes the administration did it to the wrong person.
"Firstly, you don't threaten anyone. Secondly, you don't threaten Bob Woodward," said Davis. "He's one of the best reporters ever.  He's factual.  You can disagree with facts that he reports, but he's factual.  Don't mess with him about his facts. You can mess with him about the interpretation of his facts, but this is not a reporter you tangle with," he added.

The widening conflict

Hezbollah’s deadly connection

Recent developments in Syria indicate that Iran has increased its support for the regime of President Bashar al-Assad on more than one level. As Iran seems to have taken over military and logistical decisions, Hezbollah’s involvement has also expanded and intensified. This is very bad news for Lebanon, and unless the Lebanese government and the Shia community take drastic measures to dissociate themselves from Hezbollah, Lebanon will not be spared from an imminent, region-wide sectarian war.

Last month, in a significant prisoner exchange between the Syrian rebels and the Assad regime, forty eight Iranians were hand-picked by the regime for release by the rebels, and not a single Syrian. This caused a wave of discontent among Assad supporters and fighters, who felt betrayed. Assad no doubt realizes that ill will among his already-shrinking popular base will not help his cause. This questionable decision indicates that Assad had no real say in the matter, and probably doesn’t on other issues either.

Then last week, Iranian official Hojjatoleslam Mehdi Taeb, head of the Ammar Strategic Base and a former Basij commander said that “Syria is [Iran’s] 35th [district] and a strategic province… If the enemy attacks us and intends to occupy either Syria or Khuzestan, the priority is that we keep Syria.” He also added that Iran suggested the Syrians establish their own Basij. “Syria then [must] set up its own Basij with an initial force of 60,000 Hezbollah forces and they [could] replace the regular army in dealing with the urban warfare."

If this statement had come out a month ago, no one would have believed Taeb. However, it has become obvious today that Hezbollah is involved in the bloodshed in Syria up to its neck, whether under a “Basij” or in a different form.

This dangerous reality has been acknowledged by Hezbollah officials who claim they are defending Shiite residents of Syria. This reality has put Lebanon and the Lebanese at a new crossroads that can only lead to bad scenarios. Hezbollah in Syria versus Jihadist groups like Jabhat al-Nusra is a story that will not have a happy ending. Both are sectarian armed groups that will do anything and kill anyone to protect their presence and the power of their founders and funders. A Sunni-Shiite war is now no longer a scenario. It started when Hezbollah sent its fighter into Syria.

Hezbollah’s sending militants to Syria to fight against the rebels has a number of dangerous implications.  

Hezbollah is not, as it claims to its supporters, a Lebanese party whose mission is to protect Lebanese people and territories. It is a militia which uses Lebanon as a geographical base from which to launch attacks against Iran’s enemies no matter where or who they are. This means that Hezbollah will probably fight Iran’s war on other fronts as well. If Iran gets attacked by Israel or others, Hezbollah could retaliate.

Many Lebanese believed that the Party of God would never confront Israel if Iran was attacked because its leaders do not want to lose their arms or credibility among their supporters. Iran also prefers this scenario. However, becoming militarily involved in Syria raises this concern again, especially that this involvement will probably expand and increase.

The involvement so far is probably limited to the Shiite villages along the Lebanese-Syria border, and could have been stretched to Homs in order to link the Syrian coast to Damascus and Lebanon. This means that the Syrian regime, with major Iranian support, could be planning an Alawite/Shiite enclave that will be connected to Lebanon. However, this enclave can only hold up if it is protected militarily for years to come, to avoid possible ethnic cleansing. Hezbollah, in this scenario, could be asked to stay around to protect and defend this area to preserve the linkage to Lebanon, mainly to Shiite areas.

Their involvement in terms of presence and use of arms could develop and grow as the crisis does. The Party of God could find itself managing a war against Sunni Jihadists for a very long time, mainly because these jihadists can no longer see the difference between Assad’s regime and Hezbollah.

So Hezbollah has decided to be part of an upcoming regional war, and to drag Lebanon into it. The war between Alawite/Shiite fighters and Sunni jihadists will not stay within the parameters of Qusayr along the Lebanese-Syrian borders. The spillover of the Syrian crisis to Lebanon will possibly take the form of increased military clashes in more than one area in Lebanon. Jihadists from both groups will not limit their clashes to Syrian territories and become friends back at home.

The problem is that entire Sunni and Shiite communities in Lebanon will be dragged into this war. Al-Nusra and other Jihadists groups in Syria have already defined themselves along sharp sectarian lines. And Hezbollah entered the sectarian game the moment they claimed they are defending the Shia in Syria.

By ‘defending Shiites in Syria’ Hezbollah is exposing the Shiites in Lebanon, as usual, to a very dangerous front. This time the price is going to be very high, as no Shiite will ever be trusted, and no Shiite will be spared.

It is convenient to blame Hezbollah for the dark days to come, but if we look inside, it is unsettling to see that the Lebanese government is not doing anything about it. The Shiites are not really doing anything about it either. Some actually believe that Hezbollah needs to protect this bridge in Syria to secure the passage of arms, while others are just afraid to look the other way. They do not want to see the reality, or do anything about it.

If the Shiites in Lebanon don’t do anything now, in the context of a strong condemnation of Hezbollah’s behavior, they will have only themselves to blame when things get bloody.