It’s Monday, March 26th, 2012….but before we begin, another shameless personal promotion, this time on behalf or our eldest son Jon McKee and his intended Liz Corker.  These two love birds are engaged to be married, though Jon’s imminent-yet-still-to-be-determined-deployment, this time to Afghanistan (his first was to Iraq) has somewhat muddled the precise date.

Here’s the deal: we’re asking you, and anyone else whose support you’d care to enlist, to take a moment to click on the web address below, sign onto Facebook and vote for the happy couple to become the recipients of the honeymoon of a lifetime, courtesy of Hilton Hotels.

http://apps.facebook.com/contestshq/contests/181387/voteable_entries/43992617

It takes but a second, and repeating voting requires multiple log-ins.  So wherever you are….be it in the office, sitting in traffic or stuck in an airport, we’d appreciate you taking the time to give this once and future warrior and his bride-to-be a fitting and well-deserved tribute.

Now, here’s The Gouge!

First up, in keeping with the theme of today’s Cover Story (www.thedailygouge.com), i.e., everything that’s wrong with America, the WSJ reports why Californians fear neither flood, famine, killer quakes or tsunamis; they’ve got Jerry Brown!

Governor 13.3%

Jerry Brown’s latest California accomplishment.

 

It’s hard to believe now, but Jerry Brown once ran for President as a reformer who favored a flat tax with a 13% top federal rate. That was 1992. Nowadays in his second stint as Governor, he’s running to give California alone a higher top income-tax rate.

The incredible shifting Governor recently agreed to adjust his November ballot initiative to include an even higher top tax rate. Previously he favored an increase to 12.3% from 10.3% today. But the government-unions that live off tax revenues had threatened to sponsor their own ballot measure raising the top rate even higher.

The Governor feared that divided support might doom both. So he and the unions agreed to back only one initiative with a top rate of 13.3%. The measure would also raise the state sales tax by a quarter of a percentage point to 7.5%, or more than 9% including the sales tax in some cities. Oh, and instead of lasting five years, the income-tax increase would last for seven.

All of this is said to be necessary to balance a $9.2 billion budget deficit. So what else is new? Mr. Brown expects about $9 billion in added revenue, up from $7 billion in his first package. But the state Legislative Analyst’s Office has already told Mr. Brown that he’s hallucinating to think he can get that much money from a corner of the taxpayer base.

The top 1% in California pay between one third and half of all state income tax revenues, depending on the condition of the economy. California already has the fourth highest income tax in the nation, behind Hawaii and Oregon at 11% and New York City at nearly 13%. The national average for the top income tax rate is under 6%. Nine states have no income tax.

So for the privilege of living in California, a millionaire would pay close to $125,000 a year more in income tax than someone in Nevada, Texas or Florida. A Californian earning $10 million would pay an extra $1 million or more than if she moved to a state without an income tax, or nearly $500,000 than an average tax state.

Even Mr. Brown, in one of his saner moments earlier this year, said that relying on millionaires to pay the bills causes “more volatility” in revenue collections, which has meant “a more or less constant state” of deficits. He was right. Capital gains collections collapsed to $734 million in 2009-10 from $1.6 billion in the boom years. So why would Mr. Brown make that problem worse?

One of the last states to have a tax rate as high as California is proposing was Delaware in the 1970s. Its rate hit 19.8%. Then-Governor Pete du Pont cut the rate to 10.3% in 1979 and later to 5.95%, and after five years the state’s revenues had nearly doubled and its credit rating went from the worst to one of the best.

None of these facts matter to Mr. Brown or his allies because the tax increase is simply about the political power to deliver money to the interests that live off government. Mr. Brown’s budget raises spending in 2013 by 7% and by roughly 5% on average over the next four years. Every dollar of higher taxes is accompanied by roughly a dollar increase in spending. If the revenues don’t materialize as promised from this tax increase, they’ll raise taxes again—and again, and . . . .

California voters will have to decide whether to ratify this welfare-state redistribution one more time, or finally force the state to confront the limits of tax and spend politics.

Or, as is far more likely given current business trends and the increasingly dismal demographics of the once-Golden State, simply vote with their….…FEET!

In a related item, the Journal details….

Cuomo’s Pension Retreat

New York’s Governor loses a round to the unions. *

 

*  (Surrenders would be more accurate!)

Andrew Cuomo has had a good run in his first year as New York Governor, with some useful education reforms marred by a tax increase. But the likely 2016 Democratic Presidential candidate just went toe-to-toe with public unions on pensions—and he lost in a technical knockout.

The piecemeal reforms are a step in the right direction and would be more encouraging if the Governor hadn’t then declared pensions a closed issue. The legislation offers the relatively few non-unionized employees the option of 401(k)-style pensions, which they can take with them if they leave government service. It also raises the retirement age to 63 from 62 and trims today’s generous annuities—typically about $50,000 to $60,000 a year for career civil servants—by between 4% and 8% for new employees.

The state projects the reforms will save $80 billion over 30 years, which isn’t chump change. Even so, state and local governments will pay about as much on pensions in the next five years alone. Since these reforms apply only to future workers, pension costs will continue to grow, albeit at a slower rate. The savings are also dependent on lawmakers not goosing benefits once the economy recovers and the public isn’t looking. That’s what happened in 1983 after a pension fix seven years earlier.

Mr. Cuomo’s original pension plan was bolder, though still timid compared to the reforms New Jersey and Rhode Island Democrats passed last year that affect current workers and retirees. The New York Governor wanted to make 401(k)-style plans available to all future workers, raise the retirement age to 65 and cut annuities by up to 16%. Unions said optional 401(k)-style plans would make it harder to retain workers and thus lifelong dues-paying membersnot to mention more difficult for unions to shift pension costs to taxpayers. (Now THERE’S a reason to not to reform unsustainable public union pension plans!)

Because New York’s retirement funds are in better shape than those in most states, the unions got away with arguing that pensions don’t need any big fixes. But the only reason New York pensions are solvent is that taxpayers are kicking in about $13 billion a year from current revenues. That money is being diverted from schools and desperately needed upgrades in bridges and other public works. Ever wonder why New York City’s roads and airports look like Pakistan’s?

The unions bet that they could get the Governor to back down by running ads tying him to Wall Street and big corporations. They also figured the Governor owed them after he pushed through teacher tenure and evaluation reforms this year, a 2% property tax cap and significant spending restraint in last year’s budget. Apparently, a millionaire’s tax wasn’t a big enough consolation prize.

A bolder Governor might have gambled more of his high approval rating to get bigger reforms, but infuriating the unions would make it harder to pass his budget later this year.And crossing the unions won’t help him win the Democratic presidential nomination—especially against a wholly owned union subsidiary like Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley. Mr. Cuomo’s rough pension ride shows how much public unions still dominate American state government.

But let’s be honest; the ride was only rough because Cuomo was far more interested in “preserving” than “serving”….i.e., union support in 2016 than the citizens of his state.

Speaking of government giveaways, in the “Your Hard-Earned Tax Dollars at Work” segment, as FOX News informs us….

New York City-funded group teaching homeless how to invade apartments

 

It’s breaking and entering for dummies. Picture the Homeless, a Bronx nonprofit that has received at least $240,000 in taxpayer money in the last five years, is giving a crash course on squatting — and city-owned buildings are a prime target.

Two weeks ago, board member Andres Perez held a teach-in on how to wrest “control” of vacant apartments. He called it “homesteading.” “The best time to enter a building is in the late hours,” he advised a group of about 20, who gathered in front of the half-empty East New York, Brooklyn, housing complex Arlington Village.

“You make sure you have your proper tools. You remove the chains and padlock, and then you go in.” He then led them through the next steps — including filling out a change-of-address form at the post office and setting up utilities. After that, “nine out of 10 times the courts will allow you to be able to have control of the property,” he said.

But squatting school outraged legal residents of Arlington Village. “I can’t let nobody squat where I live,” said Pete Rolon, 64, a 35-year resident who claimed pimps had grabbed two apartments in the complex. “There were hookers. They were smoking crack. There were condoms all over the floor. There were hundreds of them.”

We’ve always been inclined to believe New Yorkers, and any other Liberal-dominated cities, counties or states, get the government they deserve.  But in the interests of justice, isn’t this breaking-and-entering rather than squatting….and are there not laws against aiding and abetting the commission of a felony?

Evidently not; at least in New York, along with other parts of the world Progressive use as an example for their vision of Amerika:

‘Squatters aren’t criminals and can be GOOD for society’: Judge orders council to publish list of empty homes in its area

 

Trashed: Julia High fell victim to squatters when she went on holiday, returning to find a family of gypsies in her home in Leytonstone, east London, who invited her in for a glass of her own wine.

Squatters should be encouraged because they bring empty homes back into use, a judge said yesterday. Fiona Henderson ruled they were not criminals and there was no evidence they carried out more anti-social behaviour than rent-paying tenants.

Her judgment is a blow to the thousands every year who see their homes invaded – and struggle through the courts to win them back. Yet the judge dismissed claims that squatting victims faced high costs and that those occupying council or housing association properties were queue jumpers.

She ordered a list of empty homes in North London to be made public to the Advisory Service for Squatters, an East London-based organisation known as the ‘estate agency for squatters’.

Coming soon to a town, city, county, state and country near you!

Meanwhile, back across The Pond….

State University will no longer cancel classes for Christian, Jewish holidays

 

State University of New York at Stony Brook has decided to no longer cancel classes for major Christian and Jewish holidays in an effort to ensure that some religions are not given special treatment and to “afford equal support and equal respect to students and faculty from all faiths.”

Jewish students would be impacted on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Passover and Holy Week. Christian students would be impacted on Good Friday. The Christmas holiday is protected under a union contract and occurs when classes are traditionally not in session.

The university had considered allowing faculty to schedule exams on Saturday and Sunday — a time when many students attend worship services. However, that decision was tabled after reaching a compromise with students.

“As a secular university, as a state-funded university our priority must be to maximize instructional opportunities for our students,” said Charles Robbins, vice provost for undergraduate education. “First and foremost, it’s important to note that while I respect everyone’s concerns, the reality is it’s a relatively small number of people who are upset.”

Which of course, has as much to do with this issue as the price of tea in China….and begs the question how many upset people it took to “force” such a policy change in the first place.

And since we’re on the subject of Liberal irrationality, we present today’s edition of the “MSM Bias….WHAT Bias?!?” segment, courtesy of Noel Sheppard and Newsbusters.org:

How pathetic is this? It was reported Saturday that 25 Gannett Wisconsin Media journalists have been reprimanded for signing petitions to recall Republican Governor Scott Walker:

Today, in the interest of full transparency, we are informing you that 25 Gannett Wisconsin Media journalists, including nine at the P-C, (“P-C” stands for Post-Crescent which is one of the papers in Appleton, Wisconsin) also signed the Walker recall petitions. It was wrong, and those who signed were in breach of Gannett’s Principles of Ethical Conduct for Newsrooms.

According to Gannett Blog, the paper’s managing editor sent an email message about this matter Friday asking employees not to “respond to any media requests or other communication you might receive from outside our office in relation to this matter.” That’s called damage control.

Genia Lovett,  the Post-Crescent’s president and publisher told her readers Saturday:

All Gannett journalists are trained on and expected to follow the company’s principles of ethical conduct. The 32 principles include these six that are directly relevant to the recall petition issue:

» We will remain free of outside interests, investments or business relationships that may compromise the credibility of our news report.

» We will maintain an impartial, arm’s length relationship with anyone seeking to influence the news.

» We will avoid potential conflicts of interest and eliminate inappropriate influence on content.

» We will take responsibility for our decisions and consider the possible consequences of our actions.

» We will be conscientious in observing these principles.

» We will always try to do the right thing.

A Gannett journalist cannot uphold these principles and at the same time post a candidate’s sign in the yard, or sign a candidate’s nomination papers, or join a campaign rally, or sign a petition advocating a recall election.

Great principles indeed. Maybe Lovett should send them to employees of every media organization to remind them of their responsibilities to the public as well.

Lovett went on to add, “But whenever in doubt, let your Liberal conscience be your guide”.

And in International News of Note, former CIA clandestine service operative Reuel Marc Gerecht reports on….

How Washington Encourages Israel to Bomb Iran

Israel knows sanctions aren’t likely to work and is increasingly aware of the poor quality of U.S. intelligence.

 

In recent speeches, interviews and private meetings, President Obama has been trying hard to dissuade Israel from bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities. All along, however, he’s actually made it much easier for Israel to attack. The capabilities and will of Israel’s military remain unclear, but the critical parts of the administration’s Iran policy (plus the behavior of the Islamic Republic’s ruler, Ali Khamenei) have combined to encourage the Israelis to strike.

Public statements define a president’s diplomacy, and in front of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee this month Mr. Obama intensely affirmed “Israel’s sovereign right to make its own decisions about what is required to meet its security needs.” He added that “no Israeli government can tolerate a nuclear weapon in the hands of a regime that denies the Holocaust, threatens to wipe Israel off the map, and sponsors terrorist groups committed to Israel’s destruction.”

By so framing the Iranian nuclear debate, the president has forced a spotlight on two things that his administration has wanted to leave vague: the efficacy of sanctions and the quality of American intelligence on Tehran’s nuclear program. The Israelis are sure to draw attention to both in the coming months.

Given Mr. Khamanei’s rejection of engagement, Mr. Obama has backed sanctions because they are the only plausible alternative to war or surrender. Ditto Congress, which has been the real driver of sanctions. But the timeline for economic coercion to work has always depended on Israeli or American military capabilities and the quality of Western intelligence. Neither factor engenders much patience.

Even the U.S. Air Force might have difficulty demolishing (with conventional explosives) (Hint, hint!) the buried-beneath-a-mountain Fordow nuclear site near Qom, where the Iranian regime has been installing uranium-enrichment centrifuges. In Israel, Mr. Netanyahu and his hawkish defense minister, Ehud Barak, may have waited too long to raid this now-functioning facility; steady Iranian progress there certainly means that the Israelis must strike within months if they are serious about pre-emption.

Although the Iranian regime dreads new Western sanctions against its central bank, and especially the ejection of the Islamic Republic from the Swift international banking consortium, Tehran still has a huge advantage concerning time. Iran made around $79 billion last year from the sale of oil. Whatever the cost of its nuclear program, the regime has surely spent the vast majority of the monies required to deliver a nuclear weapon, and Tehran certainly still has the few billions required to finish producing highly enriched uranium, triggering devices, and warheads for its ballistic missiles.

Sanctions that cannot starve the nuclear program could still conceivably collapse the Iranian economy, bringing on political chaos that paralyzes the nuclear program. But if we have learned anything from the past 60 years of sanctioning nasty regimes, it is that modern authoritarian states have considerable resilience and a high threshold of pain.

Many Iran observers would like to believe that sanctions could rapidly exacerbate divisions within the regime and thereby force Tehran to negotiate an end to possible nuclear weaponization. But this scenario beggars the Iranian revolutionary identity. Mr. Khamenei has shown no willingness to halt the program. Commanders of the Revolutionary Guards Corps, who are handpicked by the supreme leader and now control much of the Iranian economy and oversee “atomic research,” have not even hinted they differ with Mr. Khamenei on the nuclear question.

The sanctions-political-chaos-nuclear-paralysis scenario envisions either the supreme leader or the Revolutionary Guards abandoning nukes just when they are within grasp. To verify the cessation of the nuclear-weapons quest, so the theory goes, these men would allow the unfettered inspection of all nuclear and military sites by the International Atomic Energy Agency. In other words, everything Mr. Khamenei and his praetorians have worked for since 1979—the independence and pre-eminence of the Islamic Republic among Muslim states in its battle against the “world-devouring,” “Islam-debasing” United States—would be for naught.

The supreme leader and his allies are acutely sensitive to the age-old Persian conception of haybat, the awe required to rule. Those who still believe in the revolution are obviously more ruthless than those who want change (hence 2009, when security forces brutalized the pro-democracy Green Movement). Whoever might want to compromise on the nuclear issue within Iran’s ruling elite surely lives in fear of those who don’t.

Mr. Khamenei hasn’t allowed the Revolutionary Guards to expand their economic reach because he wants them to be rich—it’s because he wants them to be powerful. Iran’s ruling elite are in a better position to survive sanctions today than they were when President George W. Bush described them as part of an axis of evil in 2002. Sanctions are a good tool to deny Tehran resources, but as a tool to stop nuclear weapons they aren’t particularly menacing. They may now have become primarily a means to stop the Israelis, not the Iranians, from achieving their desired ends.

Under presidential pressure, the CIA’s traditional sentiments toward Israel—suspicion laced with hostility—have likely been forced underground. Sharing intelligence has probably become de rigueur. The Israelis (like the British and the French) now undoubtedly know what we know about the Iranian nuclear program.

It’s an excellent bet that the Israelis now know that the CIA probably has no sources inside the upper reaches of the Iranian scientific establishment, Mr. Khamenei’s inner circle, or the Revolutionary Guards’ nuclear brigade. They know whether the National Security Agency has reliably penetrated Iran’s nuclear communications, and how Iran has improved its cybersecurity since Stuxnet.

The Israelis surely know that when the administration says it has “no evidence” that Mr. Khamenei has decided to build a nuclear weapon, this really means that Washington has no solid information. That is, Washington is guessing—most likely in the spirit of the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate on Iran, which willfully downplayed Tehran’s nuclear progress.

Because of his multilateral openness with our allies, Mr. Obama has likely guaranteed that the Western intelligence consensus on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program will default to what the Israelis and French have always said is most critical to weaponization: How many centrifuges do the Iranians have running, and are they trying to hide them or put them deep underground?

The Israeli cabinet reportedly still hasn’t had the great debate about launching a pre-emptive strike. Democracies always temporize when confronted with war. But that discussion is coming soon and Barack Obama—who, despite his improving efforts at bellicosity, just doesn’t seem like a man who would choose war with another Muslim nation—has most likely helped Messrs. Netanyahu and Barak make the case for military action.

The Obamao: he’s always right there beside you, 110%….voting “present”!

On the Lighter Side….

And turning to the pages of the Crime Blotter, here’s the latest on the Penn State/Jerry Sandusky perversion:

Report: Former Penn State coach Sandusky was called a ‘likely pedophile’ in 1998

 

A psychologist who looked into a 1998 allegation against former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky told police at the time that his behavior fit the profile of a likely pedophile, NBC News reported Saturday. Yet Sandusky was not criminally charged nor placed on a state registry of suspected child abusers, and prosecutors say he continued assaulting boys for more than a decade until his arrest in November.

NBC obtained a copy of the campus police department’s investigatory report on an encounter in which Sandusky was accused of having inappropriate contact with an 11-year-old boy with whom he had showered naked on the Penn State campus.

The police file includes the report of State College psychologist Alycia Chambers, who interviewed and provided counseling to the boy. My consultants agree that the incidents meet all of our definitions, based on experience and education, of a likely pedophile’s pattern of building trust and gradual introduction of physical touch, within a context of a `loving,’ `special’ relationship,” Chambers wrote.

However, a second psychologist, John Seasock, concluded that Sandusky had neither assaulted the boy nor fit the profile of a pedophile.

Chambers and Seasock did not immediately return phone messages left at their offices Saturday.

Joe Paterno will be back for another season as head coach of the Nittany Lions before a reporter gets a return call from this simpleton Seasock.

Meanwhile….

White House: Obama reaction to Florida shooting based on parental instinct, not race

Yet neither Tick-Tock nor the MSM has yet to react to this obvious hate crime….

White 13-year-old Set On Fire By Black Teens

 

“This is what you deserve. You get what you deserve, white boy.” So spewed the attackers of Melissa Coon’s 13-year-old son, as they doused him with gasoline and set him alight. Kansas City police say they are “investigating” whether this is a hate crime.

….nor have we heard anything further regarding the eyewitness testimony featured in yesterday’s edition.  Curiouser and curiouser.

Finally, we’ll call it a day with the Wide, Wild World of Sports, where we learn….

Texas Rangers ready to roll with $26 hot dog

 

The Texas Rangers are pitching a new menu item designed especially for heavy hitters. When fans belly up to stadium concession areas on opening day on April 6, they will be able to purchase a one-pound hot dog priced at $26.

Sportservice, the club’s concessionaire, introduced its new Champion Hot Dog on Friday. Officials say the dog, which comes on 2 feet of bun and will be topped with chili, sauteed onions and shredded cheese, can feed three to four people.

Or….

One please….and super-size the fries and chocolate shake!

….Oprah.

Magoo