The unofficial “not the sharpest tool in Congress,” left-wing wunderkind Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, has said that her proposed “70% tax on the ultra-wealthy” would only hit wealthy time owners and not the regular players like those who took the field during the recent Super Bowl.
While Cortez’s comments were in response to a joke, there was nothing funny about the way she once again showed her fundamental misunderstanding of even the most basic economic concepts.
Surely You Must Be Joking?
In response to a joke made by GOP Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas about imposing a top rate of 70 percent on the Patriots to even out the competition, the New York Democrat said the average player would not earn enough to be affected.
The joke, which was an obvious jab by Crenshaw at Ocasio-Cortez, who has talked about a “70% tax on billionaires,” sparked this tweet from the freshman Congresswoman.
The average NFL salary is $2.1 million, so most players would never experience a 70% rate.
The owners who refuse to hire Kaepernick would, though.
Ocasio-Cortez, the self-described Democratic socialist, had previously suggested imposing a 70% tax rate on those with incomes in excess of $10 million during an interview on 60 Minutes, in order to pay for a so-called “Green New Deal” — which would be a massive investment in clean energy infrastructure, aiming to eliminate carbon emissions in a little more than a decade.
According to Fox News, the owners of both Super Bowl teams – the Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams – are indeed billionaires.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft has an estimated net worth of $6.6 billion, according to Forbes. He purchased the team in 1994 for $172 million – it is now worth an estimated $3.8 billion. Kraft also owns Gillette Stadium – the Patriots home field – as well as many other sports ventures. He has donated $600 million to charity.
Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke is married to Walmart heiress Ann Walton. He has a net worth estimated at $8.5 billion. The prominent real estate developer became sole owner of the Rams in 2020 – the team is now valued around $3.2 billion.
Kroenke also owns the NBA’s Denver Nuggets, the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, and the Premier League soccer club Arsenal, as well as various stadiums and media properties.
While Ocasio-Cortez noted the average NFL salary is $2.1 million, some of the players in this year’s big game took home much heftier wages in 2018.
Taxing the Rich – a Typical Call From the Left Wing Playbook
Ocasio-Cortez is far from the only left-leaning lawmaker to propose hiking taxes on the wealthiest of Americans. Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders recently introduced an expansion of the estate tax, the so-called “death tax” – to a rate of 77% for those passing on assets worth more than $1 billion. Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, meanwhile, has called for a 2 percent tax on ultra-high net worth individuals — those she describes as having more than $50 million in assets. The rate would rise to 3 percent for those with assets valued at more than $1 billion.
Tax hike proposals are gaining steam in the run-up to the 2020 election. A recent Fox News Poll showed a majority – 51 percent – of respondents said they favored spending more on domestic programs over cutting taxes and reducing spending. Their preferred method of financing those projects is through taxing the wealthy. About 70 percent of voters favored raising taxes on those making more than $10 million each year.
Although President Trump’s tax cuts have been stimulating the economy as he anticipated, expect Democrats vying for the White House to run on their usual “tax the rich” platform.
For over two years now, President Trump has railed against so-called “Fake News,” and it seems that this time he may have been right!
Recently the mainstream media, and especially fervent Trump advisary, CNN, were all over a story put out by BuzzFeed, that claimed it had evidence that Michael Cohen was directly coerced by Trump to lie to Congress. Cohen, was sentenced to 3 years in prison for that federal offence, and he has since been cooperating with Robert Mueller’s investigation ever since.
Mueller, who has rarely commented during the course of his investigation, broke his usual silence to throw shade on the BuzzFeed report, “BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate,” Mueller spokesman Peter Carr said in a statement to the news site.
Buzzfeed Holds It’s Ground
While Trump and his supporters are having a field day with Mueller’s rejection of the report, BuzzFeed, thus far, is standing by the story. In a tweet following the release of Carr’s statement, BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith tweeted, “In response to the statement tonight from the Special Counsel’s spokesman: We stand by our reporting and the sources who informed it, and we urge the Special Counsel to make clear what he’s disputing…”
This despite the fact that no other major news outlet has been able to corroborate the story, including CNN, which of course, was one of the first networks to jump all over it.
According to the original BuzzFeed story, “two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter” allegedly told the media outlet, “that Cohen also told the special counsel that after the election, the president personally instructed him to lie…”
The report went on to say, “The special counsel’s office learned about Trump’s directive for Cohen to lie to Congress through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents. Cohen then acknowledged those instructions during his interviews with that office.”
Smith has been urging Mueller’s office to clarify its statement, and to point out exactly what it is that the Special Counsel is claiming that the news site got wrong. However, that’s probably not going to happen until Mueller’s final report on the investigation is completed.
Speaking from the White House lawn in response to both the BuzzFeed report, and the Special Counsel’s rejection of it, President Trump called the original, a “total phony story.” He then went on to say, “I appreciate the Special Counsel coming out with a statement last night. I think that the BuzzFeed piece was a disgrace to our country. It was a disgrace to journalism…I think it’s going to take a long time for the mainstream media to recover its credibility.”
“It hurts me to say it, but mainstream media has totally lost its credibility,” he concluded.
Trump attorney and controversial mouthpiece, Rudy Giuliani blamed the story on the “Deep State.”
“BuzzFeed story is acknowledged #FAKENEWS and comes from so-called federal law enforcement, Deep State. Maybe time to say there’s a real danger to our rights here if we keep let this happening,” he tweeted.
Cohen, 52, is expected to begin a three-year prison sentence in March after pleading guilty to federal financial crimes, campaign finance violations and lying to Congress, which was at the heart of the BuzzFeed story.
A report conducted by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) estimates the cost of providing government benefits to illegal immigrants costs the American taxpayer $100 to $135 billion annually.
The report released in September of 2017 also estimates the number of illegal immigrants currently in the U.S. at around 12.5 million people, plus another 4.2 million children of those illegal immigrants. The Federal Government pays approximately $50 billion, while both state and local governments pay the additional $89 billion annually.
Those numbers were cited during a recent Trump rally in Cleveland, Ohio by the President.
“Illegal immigration costs our country more than $100 billion every single year,” he said.
The President, referencing the FAIR Report on November 5th ahead of the midterm election, noted that the majority of this expense comes in the form of medical care and public schooling expenditures.
FAIR also concluded that illegal immigrants generate about $19 billion in taxes each year, bringing the net cost down to $116 billion annually.
While the FAIR report is one of the few studies to attempt to examine the overall financial costs of housing illegal immigrants, the actual numbers of illegal immigrants are hard to come by – no doubt because of political considerations.
In 2013, a study by the Heritage Foundation estimated that illegal immigration costs the government about $54.5 billion per year, less than half of the FAIR estimate.
The discrepancies lie in the actual number of Illegal immigrants in the United States. Most estimate the amount to be around 12.5 million, and that’s the number the FAIR report is based on.
However, the Pew Research Center estimated in 2016 that there were approximately 11.3 million Illegal immigrants within the United States, while the Center for Migration Studies put the number at around 10.8 million.
Another recent study, this one by Yale University, had the number of Illegal immigrants at almost double the FAIR report at well over 22 million Illegal immigrants.
Remarkably, the last review by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) was released in 1995, over 21 years ago.
At that time the net cost of illegal immigration ranged between $2 and $19 billion a year. The report was published at a time when the Census Bureau estimated that approximately 3.5 to 4 million illegal immigrants resided within the United States.
Robert Rector was one of the senior research analysts in 2013 for the Heritage Foundation. He explained why the cost of housing illegal immigrants has skyrocketed within just the last decade.
“The reality is, as almost anyone would acknowledge, even outside the context of immigration, is that a person that only has a high school degree is very likely to receive more in government benefits and services than they pay in taxes. And of course, half of the illegals don’t have a high school degree.”
I did it.
I descended into the heart of liberal darkness, Berkeley, California and attended the Tenth International Conference on Climate Change: Impacts & Responses.
As you may have guessed, I’m a climate change skeptic. And while this conference was interesting and gratifying for a number of reasons, it did not change my view as a climate change skeptic, but in fact, reinforced it.
My own presentation (for solving climate change while making a huge profit – i.e., the Republican way) was not widely attended, but the conversation was lively and I gained some allies.
Without further ado here are my stories:
As an engineer and formerly a developer of analytical systems for the CIA, my instinct is to follow information backward to its source. In several instances, I’ve followed the rabbit hole, examined data from important climate science claims and discovered gaping holes in their logic, making them misleading or just incorrect.
The conference had some of the same. The most blatant example presented at the conference was from Roberta Atzori from the University of California with a study of the Florida tourism industry. Since I am a long time resident of Florida, I took an interest.
Her method was to ask questions of tourists like (paraphrasing) “if the sun on the beach became too hot, would you stop traveling to Florida or would you vacation somewhere else?” and “if all of the beaches disappeared in Florida would you stop going there?” Needless to say, with those kinds of questions (look up “pre-suasion”) she got the results she desired, she did the math and claimed billions in damages due to Climate Change.
I, of course, as an interested party pointed out that in Florida we know how to re-sand beaches, and we do it often and enthusiastically (e.g., the Boca beach last fall after hurricane Irma). Beaches in Florida are not likely to disappear over the next 80 years no matter the weather change. And if Florida floods to 10 miles inland? We will install a new beach right there. I also pointed out that even the most pessimistic climate change projects only estimate about 4 degrees of change by 2100, not enough to roast our tourist population and force them away from the beach (nor interrupt the patterns of sun, beer, sun, beer, sun …).
Tell me you can’t guess what happened next.
She immediately called me the “D-word.” I had to be a climate change “denier” to challenge her work, so of course, the obvious move was ad hominem.
What she did not do was defend her scenarios (which would have been impossible anyway), which were the basis of the questions she was asking, and the response to which was the basis of her conclusions.
This kind of shoddy work is why I am a skeptic of climate science. Someone with zero knowledge of the practical side of her topic has submitted to the academic community a worthless, baseless calculation of cause-effect, that someone else will likely use to build another house of cards study. And in a room with 12-15 people, no one questioned it except me.
Dr. Max Platzer of the University of California Davis was an Apollo scientist back in the 1960’s. His presentation featured a fleet of boats that used wind power and an underwater generator in perpetual motion in the southern seas, to produce hydrogen fuel on a global scale. At first, this seemed to be very much in the science fiction realm. But to my great surprise and pleasure, Dr. Platzer, in true engineering form, proceeded to convince us layer by layer that his design was feasible and practical (albeit expensive!).
Dr. Platzer was perhaps the most inspiring speaker at the conference, his passion and appeal to implement an Apollo-like “moonshot” were compelling. He said at the advanced age of 85, his future was limited, but he was willing and indeed anxious to help future generations solve this problem. His passion was perhaps the closest phenomenon in this conference to breaking my own skepticism on climate change.
Matthew Moore of California State University positively ranted at the lack of coordination between the different levels of government, saying the government was a disorganized mess and was not preparing for the massive number of people that would certainly be displaced during global warming.
When he included Houston and Florida in his rant I took exception. Noting that I had just experienced Hurricane Irma, I told him that in our state, coordination between federal, state and local, was near perfect. We have some of the best emergency planners in the world who had the streets cleared, the public informed, and everyone in shelters who wanted to go (with designated shelters accepting pets). The Governor had toured the area and coordinated operations, and FEMA had pre-positioned supplies all over the state.
We didn’t have housing prepared for 300,000 people (per Moore’s lament) because our experts decided we would not need it (and we didn’t). Moore’s universal condemnation of FEMA and the emergency management strategy in America was offensive and, of course, wrong. Does he have a point that we need more emergency housing? I don’t know, I’m way too lazy and uninterested to re-do his work for him. But considering his lack of research and/or candor on his other statements, why would I believe anything else he said? And yet his presentation was accepted as scientific work.
At the conference dinner, I had a discussion with Alex Ellery from Carleton University, who was proposing a satellite-based solution for providing power to supplant electricity. This is not a new idea, its been around since at least the 1970’s when my high school debate team was focused on the energy shortage of the day. They were also the subject of Ben Bova’s “Powersat” from 2005.
His new idea, however, was fascinating.
Since it is very expensive to lift materials in space from earth, he was proposing that the power satellites be built on the moon using SELF REPLICATING ROBOTS! And using only materials from the moon’s surface. I was thinking, “Wow, forget the satellites, I want the robots.” And this is a serious engineer with a serious design. He is close to having the design ready, complete with neural network style computing power made from lunar materials rather than straight silicon. He still needs an additional $12 Million in funding to complete the research. Any takers? (If so, I want to be on the deployment team!).
One of the keynote speakers was Dr. Michel Gueldrey, from the University of Toulouse. I had had some brief conversations with him the day before and he is a thoughtful, intelligent and gracious man. However his presentation on “engaging climate skeptics” was disappointing and a bit insulting to American conservatives. His presentation featured such thoughts as “the superiority of Europe over America,” (hard to swallow from a Frenchman) a number of fringe books with insulting titles, and a presentation of methods to persuade skeptics that were worthy of any religion, political campaign, or fraternity rush chairman. In fact, I got a distinct feeling I could substitute “Disciples of Christ” for “Climate Change” in most of the slides and they would be equally functional. But frankly, this is what a conservative would expect at a climate change conference so I took it with a grain of salt. I do have faith that Dr. Gueldry will improve his content over time, but it was cringe-worthy in its current form.
Several presentations were very well done, even if the link to global climate change was not firmly established in my own mind. Claire Brunel, from American University, had a very well constructed study of internal migration in Brazil (I know what your thinking, but yes, it was good!). In the same session, Justin Udie from De Montfort University talked about the effects of climate change on oil and gas equipment near the Niger Delta. Again, I’m not sure about the link to climate change but it was an impressive work of risk analysis on oil and gas equipment. It took quite a bit for me to not go into full nerd mode and dig in with questions.
Marlene Payva Almonte from the University of Liverpool attended several of the same sessions that I did, and her comments were always thoughtful and cogent. In her own session, she presented an insightful presentation on the relationship between climate change and human rights. I’m not sure I agree with her premise that the Paris Accords are a good thing, but it certainly pushed some buttons for my own research.
Sally Graves Machlis from the University of Idaho sought to increase understanding of climate change through art. I’m not sure I fully grasp the magnitude of her work, but I had fun in her workshop cutting paper brains from clip art, gluing them to the canvass and painting in the background in watercolors.
One last feature was a gentleman Greg Poole from Industrial Tests, Inc. A degreed engineer, but non-academic, I could feel that Mr. Pool was avoiding using the common engineering jargon to be better understood, a common practice of engineers when speaking to laymen.
He described the Earth as an electric motor with influence from the Sun, Moon and other planets. Do you think this is silly?
The electrical character of the Earth and the solar system have long been known, and it accounts for a great many important characteristics, like the magnetic poles and the magnetosphere. His framework is brilliant and all-encompassing (but according to Pool, not quite complete). He predicted response characteristics of the molten core that will keep experimental scientists busy for decades.
His engineering skills are first-rate, his analysis was spot on. This was perhaps the most important lecture of the conference, although I don’t expect anyone to realize it. Any analysis of our solar system or any solar system we discover in the future will be incomplete without it. And as for avoiding jargon, I did manage to ask a question that let him know I was an engineer, and he answered in full technical and engineering terms entirely unintelligible to the rest of the room.
Yes, a real engineer.
Late last week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that government officials have to obtain a warrant in order to track an individual’s location data via cell phone records over an extended period of time.
“In the 5-4 ruling, the court said police generally need a court-approved warrant to get access to the data, setting a higher legal hurdle than previously existed under federal law. The court said obtaining such data without a warrant from wireless carriers, as police routinely do, amounts to an unreasonable search and seizure under the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment,” writes Newsmax.
In the case named Carpenter v. United States, the court ruled in Timothy Carpenter’s favor after he filed the suit after police connected him to several armed robberies at Radio Shack and T-Mobile stores in Ohio and Michigan. His location data was tracked by police for 127 days back in 2011.
Carpenter’s lawyers argued that the police violated the Fourth Amendment because they needed “probable cause” to get Carpenter’s digital records from third-party carriers, therefore should have gotten a warrant.
“We hold that an individual maintains a legitimate expectation of privacy in the record of his physical movements as captured through CSLI (cell-site location information),” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts in the court’s ruling. “Although such (cell phone) records are generated for commercial purposes, that distinction does not negate Carpenter’s anticipation of privacy in his physical location.”
Roberts also pointed out that technology is both a blessing and a curse, along with playing a “pervasive and insistent part of daily life.”
“Virtually any activity on the phone generates, including incoming calls, texts, or e-mails and countless other data connections that a phone automatically makes when checking for news, weather, or social media updates,” said Roberts. “Here the progress of science has afforded law enforcement a powerful new tool to carry out its important responsibilities. This tool risks Government encroachment of the sort the Framers after consulting the lessons of history, drafted the Fourth Amendment to prevent.”
This is the latest case where the court has boost privacy rights in the digital realm, but government officials can still get access to real-time location information.
This is still a step in the right direction and a victory for privacy advocates.
“For 40 years, the assumption has been that individuals have no expectation of privacy in any information we voluntarily share with third parties — from phone records to bank statements to how and where we buy and sell goods,” said Steve Vladeck, a CNN Supreme Court analyst. “Even though today’s ruling argues that cell-site location data is unique, it’s easy to see how it will open the door to countless other contexts in which privacy advocates and criminal defendants will argue for similar privacy protections – and similar warrant requirements.”
ACLU attorney Nathan Freed Wessler expressed similar sentiments and said the case was “a groundbreaking victory for Americans’ privacy rights in the digital age.”
“The Supreme Court has given privacy law an update that it has badly needed for many years, finally bringing it in line with the realities of modern life,” said Wessler.
Author’s note: We still have a long way to go, but this case will likely inspire more rulings that protect individual’s privacy rights and personal data.
Editor’s note: Our privacy rights are the key to all of the rights guaranteed under the Constitution. Are we ever going to reverse this trend?
A majority of voters blame the parents of children who are separated at the border for the current illegal immigration crisis — not the federal government, according to a new survey.
The results give an interesting look into how people feel about who is ultimately responsible for the immigration debacle, which is now playing out on television screens around the world.
When families are arrested and separated after attempting to enter the United States illegally, 54 percent of likely U.S. voters say the parents are more to blame for breaking the law. Just 35 percent of those surveyed believe the federal government is more to blame for enforcing the law. Another 11 percent say they are not sure.
These are the findings of a new Rasmussen Report survey conducted by phone and online interviews from June 19 – 20. Yesterday, President Trump signed an executive order to stop the policy of separating families of those caught entering the U.S. illegally along the U.S.–Mexico border.
Further analysis of the survey shows that 82 percent of Republicans and 56 percent of voters not affiliated with either major political party feel the parents are more to blame for breaking the law. But 60 percent of Democrats say the government is more to blame for enforcing the law.
The survey also queried participants about how aggressively the Trump Administration was enforcing the rule to separate children from parents. Once again, the results showed partisan divisions, with 75 percent of Democrats saying the Trump administration is too aggressive. Only 23 percent of Republicans and 46 percent of unaffiliated voters felt the administration was too aggressive.