Friday, 11 January 2013

THE QUOTE OF THE DAY

Ken Berwitz

Today's quote of the day is:

"It's amazing that you can go to the bathroom, considering where your head is so much of the time" 

The author of that quote?  My wife, speaking to me about five minutes ago. 

Nothing like a wife to keep your head on straight, even if she thinks it's straight up y....er, never mind.


PIERS MINCEMEAT

Ken Berwitz

Want to see Ben Shapiro, the brilliant young conservative columnist, commentator and author of "Bullies:  How The Left's Culture Of Fear And Intimidation Silences America", make absolute mincemeat of Piers Morgan, the arrogant, imperious legend in his own mind, whose ability to debate goes bye-bye when challenged by someone who knows what he/she is talking about?

Here, courtesy of breitbart.com, is a video and transcript of Morgan and Shapiro going at it about gun laws last night on CNN.  Click on the link, then sit back and watch the carnage.

You'll find that the difference is striking.  Morgan's idea of a winning argument is to take a few individual examples which, he thinks, support his position, and broaden them to a generalized point about the entire issue.  Shapiro, by contrast, makes his point by looking at the big picture - not just a few specific incidents that might support his position, while ignoring the others.

It's not hard to figure out why Shapiro's presentation winds up making more sense, is it?

A few of my favorite exchanges:

MORGAN: They want to take away assault weapons, which are capable with magazines that we saw in Aurora and Sandy hook, of unleashing a ridiculous amount of --  

SHAPRIO: This is what I wanted to ask you, Piers, because I have seen you talk about assault weapons a lot, and I have seen Mark Kelly talk about assault weapons. The vast majority of murders in this country that are committed with guns are committed with handguns, they are not committed assault weapons. Are you willing to ban handguns in this country, across this country? 

MORGAN: No, that's not what I'm asking for. 

SHAPIRO: Why not? Don't you care about the kids who are being killed in Chicago as much as the kids in Sandy Hook?

MORGAN: Yes, I do. 

SHAPIRO: Then why don't you care about banning the handguns in Chicago? 

MORGAN: We'll come to that... (NOTE:  he never did)

-------------------------------------------------------------------

MORGAN: You don't understand why we want to remove the preferred weapon of choice, these killing machines, from the hands of deranged young men? 

SHAPIRO: All I'm asking is for you to be philosophically consistent. If what you're worried about is the removal of killing machines from the hands for deranged young people then maybe we should talk about a blanket gun ban, and let's get to what the left really wants here.

-------------------------------------------------------------------

MORGAN: When the NRA came out today after the meeting in the White House and just said, "We're just not prepared to entertain any type of new gun restrictions," what did you think about that? 

SHAPIRO: What is astonishing to me is the left's attack on the NRA. Because the NRA -- they don't receive a dime of public dollars, they're an interest group. I don't see any -- it's funny. The left, they like to also talk about violent video games, for example. 

MORGAN: Can you stop framing as left or right? Because I don't have a horse in the race. I don't vote either way, as you know.

SHAPIRO: Oh, come on, Piers, you tend to be more to the left. 

MORGAN: The NRA, as you know, are very active and well funded and powerful body, and what they do -- 

SHAPIRO: -- Why are you asking -- I just want to finish a point. This is very quick, I promise. the point I'm making is this. There's been a lot of talk by a lot of people about video game violence. I haven't seen David Gregory interviewing the head of the ACLU and saying, "It's your broad interpretation of the first amendment that is responsible for this." But people are bringing on the NRA and saying, "It's your broad inturpitation of the second amendment that's responsible for this." They are an interest group. If you want legislation passed, talk to legislators, don't go to the NRA which is representing its membership. 

From this, we learn two lessons: 

1) Don't mess with Ben Shapiro unless you have something to respond with, because he has facts to back up what he says, and

2) mess with Piers Morgan all you want, because when he doesn't have anything to respond with he gets flustered, frustrated, and is reduced to substituting continual interruptions of his guest for intelligent dialogue. 

Maybe this is why so few people tune in to his show.

Strictly from a ratings standpoint, my advice to Mr. Morgan is to lurch even further left than he is, and rant even longer and louder.   That might draw some of the MSNBC audience back to CNN.

free` Ken, I thought the best part was when Shapiro accused Morgan and others on the left of standing on the dead bodies of the children at Sandy Hook. It is about time the left were called out for that disgusting behavior. (01/11/13)

Ken Berwitz free - Yep, it was dramatic and made a point...which obviously, by his hurt/feigned offense reaction, was not lost on Morgan. My problem was one of brevity. This was a feast, and I couldn't include everything. (01/11/13)


A QUESTION FOR THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION ABOUT ISRAEL

Ken Berwitz

Since the Obama administration has demanded that Israel not build residential housing units in a Jewish part of its capital city.,,,

...but it has never demanded that Palestinian Arabs renounce the hamas charter, which calls for the elimination of Israel by jihad (first paragraph), death to all Jews in or out of Israel (end of Article 7), and says that all of Israel is eternally Muslim land, not subject to any negotiation, trade, sale or peace conference (Articles 11 and 13)...

...why does the Obama administration think that building housing for Jews is worse than what is in the hamas charter?

Now grow old waiting for an answer to that question.


THE QUOTE OF THE DAY (#2)

Ken Berwitz

It turns out that my wife is not the only person with a line funny enough to quote today.

Jay Leno, on Daniel Day-Lewis' "Best Actor" nomination for "Lincoln":

"...the first time Hollywood has ever voted for a Republican president.
Great line, Jay!!  I'm still laughing.  


A REGRESSIVE CIGARETTE TAX

Ken Berwitz

Did you know that New York State has a regressive tax on cigarettes?  Maybe you didn't, because - if they are as obtuse as they seem - the geniuses responsible for New York's cigarette taxes certainly didn't.

Conventionally, the term "regressive tax" refers to a tax which lessens in percent as you earn more.  Social Security is a perfect example -- currently, workers pay 4.2% on the first $110,000 they earn, and nothing thereafter.  So if someone earns $220,000, he/she pays a 2.1% rate:  i.e. 4.2% of the first $110,000 and nothing for the second $110,000.

But New York State has a different kind of regressive tax on cigarettes; one which doesn't show up in any government-issued table.  New York loses a ton of cigarette tax money because, according to a study by The Tax Foundation, over 60% of the cigarettes purchased there are now smuggled in from somewhere else.

How high is the cigarette tax in New York State?  Just the highest in the nation, at a whopping $4.35 a pack (by comparison, it is 17 cents in Missouri and 30 cents in Virginia).  Plus, New York City adds on another $1.50. 

Then you add in the federal taxes, the cost of the cigarettes themselves (far less than the taxes) and a profit for the seller.

According to the article referenced above, it is not uncommon for someone in New York City to pay $12.00 per pack.  But, being in Manhattan all the time and checking prices as I do, I know they are understating.  It is not uncommon to pay $14.00 or even $15.00 a pack.  That is not a sarcasm or a joke either, it is the God's honest truth.

And as the article states - which I'm sure you've already figured out - "...tobacco smuggling and the tax rate have risen practically in tandem since 2006. The New York State tax on cigarettes has risen 190% since that time, as the rate of smuggling increased 170%."

In other words, more New York taxes cigarettes, the less tax revenue they get, because more and more people buy smuggled cigarettes, which provide New York with a grand total of no taxes at all.

What a great idea this was!!!!

So how did things come to such an idiotic pass?  I have a vision:  I see the New York political "brain trust" hunkered down in a conference room, figuring out that ..."If we raise taxes through the roof.  We'll stop lots of people from smoking because they can't afford it, and the ones who do will give us a huge amount of tax money".

Maybe that "let's raise the taxes" meeting took place and maybe it did not.  But regardless of how it happened, it did happen. 

So how is it working out?  Well, let's see:

-The astronomical taxes created a huge window of opportunity for smugglers to bring in cigarettes from states with far lower taxes (which is to say all the rest of them):  to sell them for much less than legal cigarettes cost and still make a booming profit.  Obviously, this has not been lost on the smuggling set;

-For users, the dramatically lower cost undoubtedly has moved a great many people who otherwise would never break the law to buy cigarettes on the black market;

-Since instead of paying a lower tax rate that might have been acceptable to them they are now paying no taxes at all, the cost of cigarettes may be so low that there is no incentive to stop smoking  at all; 

-New York - State and City - are generating less in taxes than they were when the cigarette tax was lower :  The Tax Foundation estimates a yearly loss of about $1.7 BILLION dollars;

-And organized crime, which it is safe to assume does most of the smuggling, is raking in a huge fortune.

Wouldn't it be nice if New York learned something from this?  If the federal government did?

What do you think the odds are?  I suggest you figure them out with a calculator that has lots and lots of decimal places.

free` Ken, Even though the MSM refused to report it, when Bush lowered tax rates revenues increased because of it. (01/11/13)


WILL THE SUPREME COURT DECIDE BARACK OBAMA'S ELIGIBILITY TO BE PRESIDENT?

Ken Berwitz

I'll bet you thought the issue of President Obama's eligibility to be President was dead and buried...just like President Obama's involvement in Operation Fast and Furious, or his position on BAIPA (the Born Alive Infant Protection Act).  I'll bet you thought that media had successfully turned this into a stale old joke instead of a sincere inquiry.

Well, maybe not.

Excerpted from Marv Dumon's article at examiner.com - a right wing web site, sort of like democraticunderground.com, but without the hatred and general nastiness:

On Wednesday, Chief Justice John Roberts of the Supreme Court scheduled a birther case brought on by Orly Taitz which calls into question Barack Hussein Obama's eligibility to be president of the United States. Dr. Taitz, a lawyer from Santa Margarita, Calif., also made the announcement on her website on Jan. 9.

As of this writing, major news networks such as ABC, Fox News, CBS, and NBC have yet to report on the high court's decision to review Barack Hussein Obama's eligibility to hold political office in the United States or any of its territories. The case is identified as Edward Noonan, et al., v. Deborah Bowen, California Secretary of State.

On Feb. 15, all nine justices will hear arguments on whether Obama used forged government documents and fake identification in order to get elected as commander-in-chief. Edward Noonan, et al., contend that if Obama had been ineligible to run in 2008, other Democratic candidates should have replaced him on the presidential ballot. Additionally, electoral votes from states such as California that went towards Obama should have been deemed null and void.

The Supreme Court's website shows that docket file no. 12A606 was originally denied by Justice Anthony Kennedy, a Reagan appointee, on Dec. 13. On Jan. 9, Chief Justice Roberts sent Dr. Taitz's application to the full court for a review scheduled for Feb. 15.

On Wednesday, Dr. Orly Taitz, who represents the birther cause, posted the following on her website:

The case. . . . provides a mountain of evidence of Barack Obama using a last name not legally his, forged Selective Service application, forged long form and short form birth certificate and a Connecticut Social Security number 042-68-4425 which was never assigned to him according to E-Verify and SSNVS. Additionally, this case provides evidence of around one and a half million invalid voter registrations in the state of California alone.

A team of forensic experts organized by Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio have looked into Obama's birth certificate. In July 2012, Arpaio told Fox News his team's conclusion that Obama's birth certification is "definitely fraudulent". After months of investigation, his forensic investigators had discovered code errors, computer-generated marks, and manipulated seals on the document.

In April 2011, the White House retracted the Hawaii certificate and replaced it with a long form version. .

Is it true?  is the Supreme Court going to hear arguments regarding Barack Obama's eligibility to be President?  If this article is accurate, it certainly looks that way. 

Should we dismiss this story because mainstream media have not covered it?  Nope:  while it may or may not be true, media's pathetic-and-worse record in reporting negative news about Barack Obama - such as the two examples I cited at the beginning of this blog, among others - leaves them with no credibility.

So I will wait, and report what I find out when I find it out, probably having to rely on non-mainstream sites because mainstream media dare not tarnish the image they have created of their lord and savior Barack Obama.

Let me say, again, that I do not claim to know for certain whether Mr. Obama's documents are forged.  But, as anyone who has read this blog for the last few years knows, I have significant doubts...and significant reasons for having those doubts. 

Maybe we'll finally have a legal body - the biggest one of all - make that determination for once and for all.

Zeke .... .... .... Will the nation's First Jackass be sworn in, instead ? .... ..... ..... (01/11/13)


A REGRESSIVE CIGARETTE TAX

Ken Berwitz

Did you know that New York State has a regressive tax on cigarettes?  Maybe you didn't, because - if they are as obtuse as they seem - the geniuses responsible for New York's cigarette taxes certainly didn't.

Conventionally, the term "regressive tax" refers to a tax which lessens in percent as you earn more.  Social Security is a perfect example -- currently, workers pay 4.2% on the first $110,000 they earn, and nothing thereafter.  So if someone earns $220,000, he/she pays a 2.1% rate:  i.e. 4.2% of the first $110,000 and nothing for the second $110,000.

But New York State has a different kind of regressive tax on cigarettes; one which doesn't show up in any government-issued table.  New York loses a ton of cigarette tax money because, according to a study by The Tax Foundation, over 60% of the cigarettes purchased there are now smuggled in from somewhere else.

How high is the cigarette tax in New York State?  Just the highest in the nation, at a whopping $4.35 a pack (by comparison, it is 17 cents in Missouri and 30 cents in Virginia).  Plus, New York City adds on another $1.50. 

Then you add in the federal taxes, the cost of the cigarettes themselves (far less than the taxes) and a profit for the seller.

According to the article referenced above, it is not uncommon for someone in New York City to pay $12.00 per pack.  But, being in Manhattan all the time and checking prices as I do, I know they are understating.  It is not uncommon to pay $14.00 or even $15.00 a pack.  That is not a sarcasm or a joke either, it is the God's honest truth.

And as the article states - which I'm sure you've already figured out - "...tobacco smuggling and the tax rate have risen practically in tandem since 2006. The New York State tax on cigarettes has risen 190% since that time, as the rate of smuggling increased 170%."

In other words, more New York taxes cigarettes, the less tax revenue they get, because more and more people buy smuggled cigarettes, which provide New York with a grand total of no taxes at all.

What a great idea this was!!!!

So how did things come to such an idiotic pass?  I have a vision:  I see the New York political "brain trust" hunkered down in a conference room, figuring out that ..."If we raise taxes through the roof.  We'll stop lots of people from smoking because they can't afford it, and the ones who do will give us a huge amount of tax money".

Maybe that "let's raise the taxes" meeting took place and maybe it did not.  But regardless of how it happened, it did happen. 

So how is it working out?  Well, let's see:

-The astronomical taxes created a huge window of opportunity for smugglers to bring in cigarettes from states with far lower taxes (which is to say all the rest of them):  to sell them for much less than legal cigarettes cost and still make a booming profit.  Obviously, this has not been lost on the smuggling set;

-For users, the dramatically lower cost undoubtedly has moved a great many people who otherwise would never break the law to buy cigarettes on the black market;

-Since instead of paying a lower tax rate that might have been acceptable to them they are now paying no taxes at all, the cost of cigarettes may be so low that there is no incentive to stop smoking  at all; 

-New York - State and City - are generating less in taxes than they were when the cigarette tax was lower :  The Tax Foundation estimates a yearly loss of about $1.7 BILLION dollars;

-And organized crime, which it is safe to assume does most of the smuggling, is raking in a huge fortune.

Wouldn't it be nice if New York learned something from this?  If the federal government did?

What do you think the odds are?  I suggest you figure them out with a calculator that has lots and lots of decimal places.

free` Ken, Even though the MSM refused to report it, when Bush lowered tax rates revenues increased because of it. (01/11/13)


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