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Sen. Paul Responds to President Obama’s Address to the Nation

January 20, 2015 in Politics & Elections

Senator Rand Paul tonight issued the following response to President Obama’s State of the Union address. A clip and transcript can be found below. SEN. RAND PAUL’S STATE OF THE UNION RESPONSETRANSCRIPT: Good Evening. I wish I had better news for you but… All is not well in America. America is adrift. Something is clearly wrong. America needs many things, but what America desperately needs is new leadership. I’ve only been in office a short time, but one thing I’ve discovered is that there is no monopoly on knowledge in Washington. The best thing that could happen is for us-to once and for all-limit the terms of all politicians. We already limit the President to two terms. I think we should put limits on the terms of Congress and infuse our government with fresh ideas. Before I ran for office, I practiced medicine for nearly 20 years in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Liberal elites fly over my small town, but they don’t understand us. They simply seek to impose their will upon us – from what insurance we can buy, to what light bulbs we can use, to how we generate electricity. Most of us in fly-over country, and I suspect many who live in our big cities, think those in government take us for granted. Those of us who are actively pursuing the American Dream simply want government to get out of our way. For those of us who feel separated and distant from the American Dream, we don’t want be perpetually talked down to, forgotten, and left in perpetual poverty. Many are discouraged that the ‘gifts’ offered by liberals have not generated wealth, but rather perpetuated poverty. People want a way out-not fake concern and baubles. The war on poverty is 50 years old and still black unemployment is twice that of white unemployment. Income inequality has worsened under this Administration, and tonight President Obama offers more of the same policies-policies that have allowed the poor to get poorer, and the rich to get richer. Pitting one American against another is not a pathway towards prosperity. The President is intent on redistributing the pie but not growing it. He misunderstands that the bulk of America wants a bigger pie. They want to work and don’t want a handout – but a hand up. Not only do we need new blood in Washington, we need a …read more

Source: RAND PAUL

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Homeless Man Set on Fire By 3 White Men With Shaved Heads

January 20, 2015 in Blogs

By Tana Ganeva, AlterNet

The homeless have to contend with brutal violence.


On Saturday night, three men crept up to a 58-year-old homeless man who was sleeping on a Ventura, California beach. They poured lighter fluid all over his sleeping bag and set him on fire, then fled the scene while a witness tried to put out the six-foot flames with sand, according to KABC. The perpetrators were white men with shaved heads, clad in black, according to witnesses. 

The victim, 58-year-old John Frazier, who spent his time sitting on the beach not bothering anyone, according to residents, suffered second and third degree burns all over his body, according to the report. He's in critical but stable condition. 

“We were talking about how beautiful the sunset was and the fish sculptures and how nice the evening was and he was just a really nice guy,” Elaine Lutz told KNBC about Frazier, according to Raw Story. 

“It's so hard to believe that they can be so brutal. It's just ridiculous,” another dazed-looking resident told KABC. 

Sadly, it's not that hard to believe; homeless people are often the targets of brutal, senseless crimes. From rape to assault to murder, violence is a fact of life for many people living outdoors, homelessness advocates say. According to a 2014 report by the National Coalition for the Homeless, violent attacks on the homeless grew by 23 percent in 2013 from the previous year (the measure is based on reported attacks, so it may be a lowball estimate. It's also difficult to know if the increase is due to more people reporting the crimes. Homelessness advocates have long lobbied for the government to collect data on crimes against the homeless). Between 1999 and 2013 the NCH has cataloged 1,437 instances of violence against homeless people by non-homeless people. 

It's not hard to see why the homeless are so vulnurable to violence: they have nowhere safe to go and are widely dehumanized. Instead of investing in safe shelters and housing, many US cities opt to enact laws that further marginalize the homeless, like anti-panhandling and anti-camping measures. 

As professor and homelessness expert Amy Donley told Al …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Thankfully, Obama's Dumb Capital Gains Plan Is Going Nowhere

January 20, 2015 in Economics

By Chris Edwards

Chris Edwards

President Obama’s new tax proposals show that he is not interested in bipartisan tax reform. The plan to be outlined in his State of the Union address is anti-growth, anti-savings, and pro-complexity. Left-wing political consultants might like the plan, but not serious tax reformers. Obama himself has called for simplifying the tax code, but his proposals — including the expansion of tax credits — would make the code more complicated.

Obama’s worst idea is raising the top capital gains tax rate from 24 to 28 percent, which would come on top of his previous increase from 15 percent. Low capital gains tax rates are not some sort of unjustified loophole. We’ve had reduced rates virtually the entire time we’ve had an income tax, and for very good reasons. Low capital gains rates are crucially important for spurring entrepreneurship, investment, and growth.

Recognizing that, nearly every other high-income nation has reduced capital gains tax rates. The average top long-term rate in the 34 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) nations is just 18 percent, according to Tax Foundation. By contrast, the U.S. rate, including both federal and state taxes, would jump to 32 percent under the Obama plan — far higher than the rate in most other nations.

The plan outlined in his State of the Union address is anti-growth, anti-savings, and pro-complexity.”

Congress will likely reject the Obama plan, and here is a quick refresher why it should:

  • Inflation – If an individual buys a stock for $10 and sells it years later for $12, part of the $2 in capital gains will be inflation. By taxing inflation, the tax code reduces real returns, and thus suppresses investment, particularly in growth companies. A lower statutory rate partly solves the problem.
  • Double Taxation – Corporate share values generally equal the present value of expected future earnings. If expected earnings rise, share values will rise, creating a capital gain to the individual. But those future earnings will be taxed at the corporate level when they occur, so also hitting individuals with a capital gains tax is double taxation. Dividends are also double taxed, with the result that our tax system is biased against corporate equity and in favor of debt, which destabilizes companies and the overall economy.
  • Competitiveness – Capital has become highly mobile, prompting nearly every country over the years to cut taxes on corporations, wealth, estates, dividends, and capital gains. When Canada cut …read more

    Source: OP-EDS

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Cato Scholars Respond to the 2015 State of the Union

January 20, 2015 in Economics

President Obama on Tuesday laid out his plans for the upcoming year in his sixth annual State of the Union (SOTU) address. What will the President’s words mean for liberty? Cato scholars live-tweeted their reactions to what the president said—and what he left out. Follow @CatoInstitute on Twitter and review the conversation using #CatoSOTU.

…read more

Source: CATO HEADLINES

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Cato Scholars React to the 2015 State of the Union

January 20, 2015 in Economics

President Obama on Tuesday will lay out his plans for the upcoming year in his sixth annual State of the Union (SOTU) address. What will the President’s words mean for liberty? Find out tonight. Cato scholars will be live-tweeting their reactions to what the president says—and what he leaves out. This is your chance to ask the experts what to expect from the policy world in 2015—and to add your two cents to the discussion. Follow @CatoInstitute on Twitter and join the conversation using #CatoSOTU.

…read more

Source: CATO HEADLINES

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Mutual Economic Reforms Can Rejuvenate Indo-US Ties

January 20, 2015 in Economics

By Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar

Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar

When U.S. President Barack Obama visits India to attend its Republic Day on January 26, he should propose a mutual reduction of economic barriers to rejuvenate the sputtering Indo-U.S. economic partnership.

U.S. corporations became a major foreign policy lobby for India after it embarked on economic reforms in the 1990s, creating a booming economic partnership. That ended when India stopped liberalizing after the Great Recession. Earlier, many Fortune 500 companies had set up shop in India. But after 2008, investment and trade flows decelerated sharply, and protectionist tendencies rose in both countries.

Obama should view energy as holding the greatest potential for the partnership. India is a major importer of oil and gas, and the U.S. is set (thanks to fracking) to become the world’s largest oil and gas producer. However, its liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports are limited to countries that have signed free trade agreements with the U.S., and India hasn’t. This has no economic logic. As a special case, India has been allowed limited LNG purchases from the proposed Cheniere terminal. The U.S. should drop the FTA clause, or at least greatly liberalize exceptions for countries like India.

The U.S. bans the export of unprocessed crude. This is dubious nationalism. The U.S. lacks the refining capacity to process all its sweet crude, but India has it. India is already buying U.S. natural gas liquids, and would be interested in U.S. crude as well.

The Indo-U.S. nuclear deal in 2005 was supposed to usher in a nuclear power boom in India. However, because of memories of the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster, Indian legislators insisted on an unlimited liability clause to sue foreign suppliers in the event of an accident. Foreign suppliers find this clause too risky, so deals have stalled. The U.S. should work with India on devising an insurance policy suppliers can buy from an Indian government company, capping their risk. This will also help kick-start reactors supplied by France and Japan.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants India to set up 100,000 MW of solar power capacity by 2030. However, the U.S. has taken India to a WTO dispute panel over its local content requirements. As the chief minister of Gujarat from 2002-14, Modi instituted international bidding for the state’s solar projects, with no local content rules. He should do the same at the national level. Gujarat’s Adani group has just announced a deal with SunEdison to invest $4 …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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5-Year-Old Shoots Baby Brother Dead With Unsecured Gun Allegedly Belonging to Grandfather

January 20, 2015 in Blogs

By Cliff Weathers, AlterNet

Nine-month-old boy is shot to death by his brother who had access to a gun.


A 5-year-old boy shot his 9-month-old brother, killing him with his grandfather’s handgun on Monday in the tiny rural town of Elmo in northwest Missouri. Reportedly, the weapon was not locked up and the older sibling had easy access to it. The shooting is belived to be accidental.

The Nodaway County Sheriff’s Department received a 911 phone call from the boys’ mother, 24-year old Alexis Wiederholt, at around 9 a.m. The mother told authorities she believed her elder boy shot his brother with a paintball gun. But when emergency first responders arrived they found that the boy had been shot above the right ear with an exit wound on the other side of his skull, but was still alive. A loaded .22-caliber revolver was found on a bed near the playpen where the baby was found.

A medical evacuation helicopter arrived at the residence and flew the boy to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, some 120 miles away where he died just before noon.

Alexis Wiederholt and her four children were visiting her father from North Dakota. She was alone with them in the house when the shooting took place. While authorities are certain the shooting is accidental, they are investigating how the 5-year-old got access to the weapon. KETV News says the gun belonged to a relative of the boys, but not to the mother. They have not determined whether charges will be filed.

“Right now there’s nothing to indicate any foul play. It really looks like it was just a horrible, tragic accident,” said Nodaway County Sheriff Darren White.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, unintentional shootings are a top cause of accidental death for children between the ages 1-4 and 10-14. The CDC has further stated that U.S. children are nine times more likely to die in gun-related accidents compared to other industrialized countries.

An advocacy group called Mom’s Demand Action for Gun Sense in America says that some 100 children are in killed …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Reich: Why the Economy Gets Worse When Republicans Are in Office

January 20, 2015 in Blogs

By Robert Reich, AlterNet

Neither party deserves a medal for fighting inequality, but evidence shows that middle-class and poor Americans have faired better under Democratic presidents.


Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney are zeroing in on inequality as America’s fundamental economic problem.

Bush’s new Political Action Committee, called “The Right to Rise,” declares “the income gap is real” but that “only conservative principles can solve it.”

Mitt Romney likewise promised last week that if he runs for president he’ll change the strategy that led to his 2012 loss to President Obama (remember the “makers” versus the “takers?”) and focus instead on income inequality, poverty, and “opportunity for all people.”

The Republican establishment’s leading presidential hopefuls know the current upbeat economy isn’t trickling down to most Americans.

But they’ve got a whopping credibility problem, starting with trickle-down economics.

Since Ronald Reagan moved into the White House, Republican policies have widened inequality.

Neither party deserves a medal for reversing the trend, butevidence shows that middle-class and poor Americans have faired better under Democratic presidents.

Personal disposable income has grown nearly 6 times more with Democrats in the White House than Republicans.

Under Bill Clinton, in whose administration I am proud to have served, even the wages of the poorest fifth rose.

According to research by economists Alan Blinder and Mark Watson, more jobs have been created under Democratic presidents as well.

These broad-based job and wage gains haven’t hampered economic growth. To the contrary, they’ve fueled it by putting more money into the pockets of people who spend it — thereby boosting business profits and hiring.

Which is why the economy has grown faster when Democrats have occupied the Oval Office.

I’m not saying Democrats have always had it right or done everything they should. The lion’s share of economic gains over the past thirty-five years has gone to the top regardless of whether Democrats or Republicans inhabit the White House.

The most recent recovery has been particularly lopsided, President Obama’s intentions notwithstanding.

Nor can presidents alone determine how the economy performs. At best they orchestrate a set of policies that nudge the economy in one direction or another.

But that’s exactly the point: Since Reagan, Republican policies have nudged it toward …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Hard Choices

January 20, 2015 in Economics

By David Boaz

David Boaz

It’s disconcerting for a publisher to discover that a horrific tragedy has made one of its current titles more relevant. But that’s what happened to the Cato Institute when 11 journalists at Charlie Hebdo and a police officer were murdered by Islamist extremists.

In November, we published The Tyranny of Silence, by Flemming Rose, the editor at the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.Rose stirred up controversy in 2005 by publishing cartoons of Muhammad that led to protests, petitions, and an investigation by Danish prosecutors. More tragically, there were death threats to Rose and the cartoonists, an armed intruder in cartoonist Kurt Wester-gaard’s house, and more than 200 deaths in riots and violence in the Middle East and Africa.

Rose published the Danish edition of Tyranny of Silence, a book about the controversy and the future of free speech, in 2010. I was surprised to discover in 2013 that the manuscript had been translated into English but had not found a publisher. I brought it to the attention of John Samples, the editor-publisher of Cato Institute Press, who began to explore publication.

It’s disconcerting for a publisher to discover that a horrific tragedy has made one of its current titles more relevant.”

We had three questions in mind: safety, of course; the quality of the manuscript; and whether Rose was anti-|Muslim or genuinely an advocate of free speech and provocative journalism.

We determined that the publication of the book had not generated any violence in Denmark, and that the controversy over the cartoons had generally subsided in the nine or so years since they had been published. The manuscript was compelling, well written, and well translated. And my contacts in Denmark and Europe assured me that Rose was a genuine liberal with a strong anti-authoritarian bent, sharpened during his years as a reporter in the Soviet Union.

Given all that, the book was a natural fit for the Cato Institute. Since our founding in 1977, we’ve been committed to the libertarian values of individual liberty, limited government, free markets, and peace. We take our name from Cato’s Letters, a series of 18th-century newspaper essays by John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon that were enormously influential in shaping the ideas of the American Revolution. In essay #15, they set out one of their basic principles: “Without freedom of thought, there can be no such thing as wisdom; and no such thing as publick liberty…. In …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Jon Stewart Demolishes Christian Crusader Mike Huckabee's "Real America" Schtick

January 20, 2015 in Blogs

By AlterNet

Who's more crude, Beyonce or Ted Nugent?


On last night's Daily Show, Jon Stewart spoke with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee about his new book, the no-doubt instant classic, “God, Guns, Grits and Gravy.” When Stewart seemed less than enthused about Huckabee's plan to run for President again, the former Republican candidate accused Stewart of living in “Bubbleville.” 

“You mean America?” Stewart shot back. 

Huckabee goes on to retread the now-familiar conservative argument pitting residents of New York, Washington and Hollywood against “real” Americans in “flyover” country. Although Huckabee claims to not place value judgments on which lifestyle is superior, Stewart makes him admit that he thinks conservative, red-state America is doing it better. 

To help elucidate Huckabee's point, Stewart cites a chapter in his book, titled “Culture of Crude,” in which Huckabee criticizes Beyonce for wasting her admirable vocal talents by being overly sexual. Beyonce, it seems, embodies a culture of permissiveness representing the moral ruin of blue-state America. 

“Here's where I'm going to show you something. Here's the blind spot … ” Stewart says, while cueing up a Fox News clip. The next thing we see is conservative rocker Ted Nugent growling into a microphone, “Gonna make that pussy purrrrrr.” A certain moral crusader (Mike Huckabee) shreds on the bass in the background. Watch Huckabee get out of this one, below:

 

…read more

Source: ALTERNET