Caption that photo!: Chris SantarelliPosted December 28, 2012 at 5:00 pm by Eddie Scarry
Chris Santarelli, editor of our contributor page, stumbled across Jimmy McMillan of “Rent is too damn high” fame while walking around New York City a couple weeks ago. Santarelli, who likes to wear plaid button-down shirts, said McMillan “was double parked and eating Chinese food.”
Caption that photo! We’ll post the winner and a few runners-up in the next couple days.
At home & abroad: What are we doing to protect our troops?Posted December 28, 2012 at 3:17 pm by Meredith Jessup
The last year has been a tough one for the United States Armed Forces. While President Obama is managing overall war strategy and drawing down the number of troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan, he might want to focus more attention on the well-being of our individual soldiers. According to data recently released by the Department of Defense, the number of American soldiers committing suicide continues to outnumber combat-related deaths… and it’s only getting worse:
Statistics released by the Department of the Army show that through November potentially 303 active-duty, Reserve and National Guard soldiers committed suicide. As of Dec. 7, Stars and Stripes reports that 212 soldiers have died in combat-related deaths in Afghanistan.
The Army set a grim new record of 177 potential active-duty cases with 2012 coming to a close on Tuesday – 64 of these cases remain under investigation, 113 have been confirmed.
I’m a big advocate for mental health, whether in managing crises here at home or keeping Americans safe overseas. Ensuring the well-being of our troops is the least we can do and private charitable foundations like the Wounded War Project and the Lone Survivor Foundation have been indispensable partners in helping the brave men and women who protect us all. But these groups’ scope of influence is limited and the dramatic increase in soldier suicides recently suggests more institutional reform is needed.
Doing everything we can to protect our troops means not putting them in situations that could compromise their safety and/or sanity. Since 2000, such diagnoses have increased by 65%.
In my personal opinion, these statistics might not be entirely surprising when you consider a few key factors:
2012 recap: A year in scandalsPosted December 28, 2012 at 2:10 pm by Meredith Jessup
Fox News’ Greg Gutfeld breaks down the year’s most tabloid-icious scandals.
Spoiler alert: Most of them involve Washington. Shocker, I know.
National Review seeking final $20K for its lawsuitPosted December 28, 2012 at 2:01 pm by Eddie Scarry
The conservative National Review put out a call for donations from supporters earlier this month to battle a lawsuit its facing from Dr. Michael Mann, a professor at Penn State.
Jack Fowler, the magazine’s publisher, said the publication is “not profitable” and thus needs to raise $150,000 to defend itself in the lawsuit. In a recent update, NR says it has raised $129,000.
Mann filed the suit against NR and one of its writers, Mark Steyn, back in July for a column Steyn wrote. In the column, Steyn alleges Mann attempted to cover up data damaging to the science behind global warming. Steyn also compared Mann to Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State football coach convicted of child molestation.
See the ridiculous graphic NR is using to solicit donations after the jump…
Governor deals another blow to unions in MichiganPosted December 28, 2012 at 12:38 pm by Meredith Jessup
Aside from the reelection of President Barack Obama, labor unions in Michigan didn’t have many other victories to celebrate. They failed to insert collective bargaining rights into the state constitution, and now, the one victory unions could claim — the repeal of the state’s municipal emergency manager law — is being turned on its head. Gov. Rick Snyder has just signed into law a new emergency management law. (h/t Sean Higgins)
Unions previously objected to the legislation which grants the state the ability to review spending procedures of local municipalities who default on debt payments or loans. This meant the ability to reject or modify union contracts guaranteeing benefits the public treasury can’t afford and placing limits on the ability of crony politicians to continue track records of irresponsible spending. Just days after Snyder signed Right-to-Work legislation into law, he and his fellow Republicans in the state legislature are sticking it to unions once again:
Under the new law, the state could review the finances of a city or school district if the entity defaults on debt payments, has a six-month-old overdue bill of at least $10,000, fails to make payroll for a week or if requested by the governing body or chief administrative officer.
Cities and school districts in a financial emergency could choose from mediation, a state-supervised financial consent agreement, an emergency manager or Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy.
Under the old law, bankruptcy was only an option if an emergency manager determined it was the only viable option.
The new law is called Public Act 436 of 2012.
Emergency managers would have the ability to reject, modify or terminate labor union agreements — sweeping authority granted under the repealed 2011 law. Collective bargaining could be suspended for up to five years.
Oh noes! What will the unions do?!
Cities and school district governing boards could remove the emergency manager after one year by a two-thirds vote. After an emergency manager leaves, local officials would be barred from altering the manager’s spending plans, labor contracts and ordinances for two years.
“This legislation demonstrates that we clearly heard, recognized and respected the will of the voters,” Snyder said in a statement. “It builds in local control and options while also ensuring the tools to protect communities and schools districts’ residents, students and taxpayers.”
Who would’ve guessed four years ago that Wisconsin and Michigan would pass some of the strongest labor reforms in decades?
NY man worries he won’t be able to buy groceries online after ‘fiscal cliff’Posted December 28, 2012 at 11:05 am by Eddie Scarry
Proof that going over the “fiscal cliff” will hurt the least among us, via the New York Post (emphasis mine):
With the approaching fiscal cliff less than 100 hours away, things are getting awfully personal on Capitol Hill.
Which means that the chances of reaching a deal to avoid expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts are approaching slim to none.
And if they’re allowed to expire, it would trigger the largest tax hike in US history — meaning lots of pain and suffering, especially in already tax-weary New York.
“My savings, my investments, my retirement contribution will be hit very hard,” 26-year-old Mary Kaltenberg told The Post.
“My [tax] increase, almost $4,000, is what I pay on FreshDirect for the year,” said 67-year-old John Gebhard. “I just buy the basics. It’s my food for the year.”
FreshDirect is an online store that delivers groceries straight to customers’ doors.
Notable & Quotable: The effectiveness of the U.S. Senate (or lack thereof)Posted December 28, 2012 at 10:52 am by Meredith Jessup
Reason’s Matt Welch manages to perfectly characterize the efficiency of the U.S. Senate in this single depressing paragraph:
Good morning, misgoverned nation! You will be utterly unsurprised to learn that the same United States Senate thathasn’t passed a (legally required) budget resolution since 2009, that legislates via perpetual self-made crises and lards nearly all laws with brazenly fictitious sunset provisions and distant spending cuts, has managed to fit into its busy schedule of anti-gun press conferences and drunk-driving arrests an “unusual special session” to reauthorize the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 before the law turns into a pumpkin on Jan. 1.
Oh, good. The Senate is at least working on… something. Too bad that “something” enables the federal government to “spy on U.S. citizens without a warrant, without probable cause, and without even informing the allegedly relevant oversight bodies in Congress as to the number of Americans being spied on.”
You know, maybe an “efficient” legislature isn’t all it’s cracked up to be…
Michael Moore: ‘Leave Piers alone!’Posted December 28, 2012 at 10:27 am by Eddie Scarry
There are currently two White House petitions devoted to CNN’s Piers Morgan: one to deport him back to Great Britain, the other keep him in America because the British don’t want him back.
Liberal filmmaker Michael Moore jumped to his defense yesterday… (more…)
Proposed gun law wouldn’t ban guns, but…Posted December 28, 2012 at 9:56 am by Meredith Jessup
…it would raise more revenue for the government — you know, because the price of keeping our children safe comes in the form of higher taxes, or something:
The National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action warns gun owners that Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s new assault weapons ban would impose a $200 tax on hundreds of existing semi-automatic rifle models.
According to Feinstein’s bill summary, the legislation requires owners of semi-automatic rifles – deemed as assault weapons – to register their gun with the Federal Government under the National Firearms Act.
The National Firearms Act, first enacted in 1934, was passed to choke the sale and transfer of automatic weapons.
Under the current NFA, owners of automatic weapons are allowed to keep their weapons but requires an owner to submit photographs and fingerprints to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE).
A $200 tax on an NFA firearm is imposed each time a NFA weapon is registered or transferred to a different address. Presumably, each weapon registered as an NFA firearm would be subject to the same restrictions.
Washington Post desperate for a deal, any dealPosted December 28, 2012 at 9:39 am by Eddie Scarry
With just three days before the “fiscal cliff” deadline, the Washington Post is getting anxious.
From its lead editorial today:
Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) suggested Thursday that lawmakers might not be able to manage even that, and, predictably, politicians spent the day attempting to blame each other for the continuing impasse. Mr. Boehner insisted that Senate Democrats take up an unwise plan the House passed months ago, which would extend the Bush tax cuts even for the rich. Mr. Reid responded by calling the House a “dictatorship,” suggesting that Mr. Boehner was trying only to protect his position as speaker.
With such pettiness and ill will from congressional leaders, it will be little wonder if there is no deal… (more…)
Friday morning must-readsPosted December 28, 2012 at 9:18 am by Meredith Jessup
Polls: NRA more popular than Obama
How has increased gun control worked for Great Britain?
Obama’s favorite policies not working so well in France
L.A. gun buyback collects 2,037 firearms
White House is neglecting promise to respond to petitions
And 2012′s “Nanny of the Year” is…
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