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Archive for December, 2011

Cartoon of the Day

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Hey, What Did We Forget? Oh Yeah, the Brakes!

I highly doubt it’s in many cars, but how do you build a car and blow past this during the assembly line process?

General Motors Co. said on Friday that it is recalling more than 4,000 of its 2012 Chevrolet Sonic subcompact cars to check for missing brake pads.
The possibility that some Sonics could be missing an inner or outer brake pad was discovered during warranty service for a rental vehicle customer. GM said the problem “is expected to exist in very few cars,” and there are no known crashes or injuries related to the issue. A missing pad could require longer stopping distance, and contribute to a crash.
The recall involves 4,296 of GM’s 2012 Sonics sold in the U.S. The affected models are from the Orion Township, Mich., assembly plant, where the Sonic is built for sale in the U.S. and Canada.

Dealers will inspect the front brakes for missing inner or outer pads and, if a pad is missing, install new pads. If needed, a new brake caliper or brake rotor, or both, will also be installed. Affected customers will receive dealer letters beginning Jan. 14.

The Sonic is the new name for Chevy’s Aveo. It’s pretty much a let’s change the name on a car no one likes and hope no one notices job.

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Kiel Taxpayers See Benefits of Walker Reforms

Caught this when I was home over Christmas.

Taxpayers receiving their annual property tax bills are likely to view this year’s tally as an early Christmas present.

Kiel taxpayers will see a reduction in property tax rates this year, the amount depending on which side of the county line they own property on.

In Calumet County, Kiel property taxpayers will see their rate drop by 60 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. On the Manitowoc County side of the line, the property tax rates will drop by 55 cents per $1,000.

Translated into overall dollars, the owner of a $100,000 property will pay $60 less in property taxes in the Calumet County portion of the city, while those in Manitowoc County will see a drop of $55.

Most sizeable among the reductions are the dropping tax rates for the school district and the counties.
Tax rates for the Kiel area schools fell by 42 cents per $1,000 in Calumet County and 35 cents per $1,000 in Manitowoc County. Calumet County’s portion of the tax rate dropped by 13 cents per thousand, while Manitowoc County’s rate fell by 15 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.

CALUMET CTY. 2011 2012
State .19 .18
County 5.20 5.07
Public School 10.88 10.46
Vocational 1.74 1.68
City 4.53 4.51
Gross rate 22.54 21.91
Tax credit -1.53 -1.52
Net tax rate 21.01 20.39

MANITOWOC CTY. 2011 2012
State .19 .18
County 5.94 5.79
Public School 10.89 10.54
Vocational 1.74 1.70
City 4.55 4.54
Gross rate 23.32 22.77
Tax credit -1.11 -1.11
Net tax rate 22.21 21.66

One hopes someone, somewhere is keeping track of what the property tax bills are across the state as they begin to be reported.

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I’m Smelling a Primary

Only question now is, will the liberal blogs do all they can to try to prevent it, or will they embrace it?  (Who am I kidding on the latter question there, honestly?)  After all, the long knives are already out for Tim Cullen of Janesville; how long before they turn course and plunge them into the Milwaukee mayor?

(Just to give a hint to Jeff and Steve over at Blogging Blue — That knife thing, that’s hyperbole and a metaphor up there.)

Or better yet, will the unions do all they can behind the blow up all candidates not named Kathleen Falk by the time papers to get on the ballot begin to be circulated.

By my calendar, that should be around late March or early April.  All depends on how long the challenges to the recall petition signatures last — for both Governor and State Senate naturally.  After last round of recalls, one gets the feeling GAB is going to try to avoid headaches and try to have all recall elections on the same day.

Or primary as it were…

The gambit by two large Wisconsin unions to force Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett out of a possible recall election appears to have backfired.

Two sources close to the Democratic mayor said this week that Barrett now is “seriously considering” running in a potential recall election of Gov. Scott Walker and will make an announcement in early January.

Both sources emphasized that Barrett has not yet made a final decision.

But nearly everything else they said suggested the mayor will seek a rematch with Walker.

The pair of Barrett sources said he might jump in even if the leaders of the Wisconsin Education Association Council and the Wisconsin State Employees Union put up another Democratic candidate. The unions are said to be supporting former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk.

“We don’t want a primary, but we’re not intimidated by it,” said one of the sources close to Barrett. “Tom’s decision will not be influenced by that. He’s not running to be governor of WEAC or AFSCME.”

Whatever.  The reality is whoever is the Democrat picked to run, they will be the governor of WEAC or AFSCME because it will be WEAC and AFSCME paying the bills.

And then it will be WEAC and AFSCME demanding how things get done.   Just like they were when Doyle was Governor.

Come March or April, the screaming you’ll be hearing from Democrats will not be “RECALL WALKER!”  It will be “WE’RE STUCK WITH THEM?!?”

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Read of the Day

Great editorial in today’s Wall Street Journal on why the Justice Department is probably going to lose for their interference in ruling the South Carolina Voter ID is completely political for the Obama White House, and has nothing to do with the actual law they say they’re defending.

Eric Holder must be amazed that President Obama was elected and he could become Attorney General. That’s a fair inference after the Attorney General last Friday blocked South Carolina’s voter ID law on grounds that it would hurt minorities. What a political abuse of law.

In a letter to South Carolina’s government, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Thomas Perez called the state law—which would require voters to present one of five forms of photo ID at the polls—a violation of Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Overall, he noted, 8.4% of the state’s registered white voters lack photo ID, compared to 10% of nonwhite voters.

This is the yawning chasm the Justice Department is now using to justify the unprecedented federal intrusion into state election law, and the first denial of a “pre-clearance” Voting Rights request since 1994.

The 1965 Voting Rights Act was created to combat the systematic disenfranchisement of minorities, especially in Southern states with a history of discrimination. But the Justice position is a lead zeppelin, contradicting both the Supreme Court and the Department’s own precedent. In 2005, Justice approved a Georgia law with the same provisions and protections of the one Mr. Holder nixed for South Carolina. In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board that an Indiana law requiring photo ID did not present an undue burden on voters.

A second case offers a further glimpse into the High Court’s perspective on the modern use of Section 5. In 2009’s Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District v. Holder, the Court declined to decide the question of the constitutionality of Section 5, writing that while it imposes “substantial federalism costs,” the “importance of the question does not justify our rushing to decide it.” But the Justices didn’t stop there.

They also cast real doubt on the long-term viability of the law, noting in an 8-1 decision by Chief Justice John Roberts that it “imposes current burdens and must be justified by current needs.” That such strong criticism was signed by even the Court’s liberals should concern Mr. Holder, who may eventually have to defend his South Carolina smackdown in court.

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley tells us she “will absolutely sue” Justice over its denial of her state’s law and that challenge will go directly to federal district court in Washington, D.C. From there it may be appealed directly to the Supreme Court, which would have to consider whether South Carolina can be blocked from implementing a law identical to the one the High Court approved for Indiana, simply because South Carolina is a “covered” jurisdiction under the Voting Rights Act.

In such a scenario, Mr. Holder’s tactics could well doom Section 5 itself. That’s a big gamble for the sake of trying to stir up election-year minority voter turnout.

Civil-rights groups claim this Justice offensive is needed to counteract a voting environment in which little has changed since Jim Crow. But South Carolina’s law, like Indiana’s and Georgia’s, explicitly addresses potential disenfranchisement by offering state-issued IDs free of charge. When civil-rights groups fretted about the ability of minority voters to get to the local Department of Motor Vehicles to pick up a free state-issued ID card, Governor Haley created an 800 number to offer free rides to anyone who couldn’t afford the transportation. About 30 people called.

In October, the South Carolina Department of Elections reported that some 240,000 state voters lacked ID cards. The DMV now says more than 200,000 of those had allowed their IDs to expire, lived in other states or were dead.

The Voting Rights Act was once needed to counteract the gap between black and white voter registration. By 2009 the gap had narrowed to a few percentage points in some covered states while blacks out-registered whites in others. Yet Justice retains a federal veto on election-law changes no matter how innocuous or racially neutral. Section 5 has become a vehicle not to pursue equal access to the polls but to play the grossest kind of racial politics.

As African-American men at the most exalted reaches of government, Messrs. Obama and Holder are a testament to how much racial progress the country has made. It’s a shame to see them pretending little has changed so they can scare up some votes.

Can’t wait to read the briefs from Justice explaining their actions.

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Cartoon of the Day

Given the amount of data out there, and how there’s now a much better helmet on the market to prevent concussions, I don’t see how the NFL legally wins this one.

The league is protecting an exclusive contract with Riddell, not its players.

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D.C. Finds Cost of Fighting for Gun Control at Cool Million

Hope it was money well spent. It’s not like it could have gone to helping the poor and less fortunate in one of the nation’s worst areas for income inequality.

The District of Columbia has been ordered to pay more than $1 million in attorneys’ fees as a result of a historic gun case that was ultimately decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Dick Heller sued the city in 2003 over its ban on handgun ownership and the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the ban in June 2008, saying it violated the Second Amendment.

A federal judge on Thursday issued an opinion awarding Heller’s attorneys $1,137,072.27 in fees and expenses.

The attorneys had argued they should be awarded $3.1 million. Attorneys for the city said the figure should be closer to $840,000.

District of Columbia Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan, the head of the office that represents the city in legal matters, said in a statement that Heller’s lawyers had requested an “outlandish fee.”

Nathan praised the U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan’s decision not to accept the full hourly rate the attorneys had requested or the full number of hours they had billed for.

Since the 2008 landmark ruling by the Supreme Court, D.C. has re-wrote its gun ownership laws to allow people to finally have a gun for personal protection.  However, the city has set up a number of restrictions to make buying a gun almost nearly impossible.

Heller has sued the city again over that.  His case is pending in federal court.

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Facebook Readies Insanely Large IPO

The real question of course is, after the initial influx of cash to “The Zuck,” is will they profitable and make money for future investors.  No doubt nearly every single Facebook employee will be multimillionaires on paper after the IPO (if they have stock options), one wonders if they’ll still be multimillionaires in a few years’ time when they can finally cash them out.

Facebook Inc. and Yelp Inc. are set to lead the biggest year for U.S. initial public offerings by Internet companies since 1999, testing demand for IPOs after investors lost money on Zynga Inc. and Pandora Media Inc.

With Facebook considering the largest Internet IPO on record and regulatory filings showing that at least 14 other Web-related companies are planning sales, the industry may raise $11 billion next year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That would be the most since $18.5 billion of IPOs in 1999, just before the dot-com bubble burst.

While surging sales growth may lure investors to Facebook, the biggest social-networking site, heightened stock volatility and Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis could temper the pace of global IPOs after a 38 percent decline in 2011. Even Internet companies may cut valuations for their offerings after Zynga, the largest developer of games for Facebook, and online-radio company Pandora slumped following share sales this year, according to researcher Morningstar Inc.

“Technology is still a place where you can get outperformance in terms of growth against a tepid market backdrop,” said David Erickson, New York-based global co-head of equity capital markets at Barclays Plc. “You might see more IPOs emerge if we get resolution in Europe or stability that makes investors more comfortable with the overall market.”

Zynga (makes of Farmville and other annoying games), which has its financial well-being tied to Facebook through its games, has lost money and value since it went public.  Earlier this month, it was reported they’ve lost over a billion dollars in value since it went public.

Zynga now trades around $9.30 or so a share.  A price which is pretty much a steal for a technology company.  Few analysts however see it going any higher than that price in the coming months.

Many investors were burned in the first tech bubble of the late 90s when Dot.com company CEOs were making venture capitalists look like fools.  Companies like Facebook and other social network firms may look like crown jewels right now — and at their IPOs — but no one knows what the future is going to bring, or what might replace Facebook in the coming years.

As for overall stability in the markets…one wonders if that is even possible in 2012 and beyond.

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Bachman Super PAC Bolts for Romney

Frankly, if this woman moves past Iowa and into New Hampshire, I’ll be shocked.

After losing her political director last night to the Ron Paul campaign, a “Super PAC” which was supporting her has apparently bolted as well to support former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

A political action committee which had planned to support Michele Bachmann’s presidential campaign has very quietly defected to Mitt Romney — and it’s spending big on his behalf.

Citizens for a Working America, the so-called Super PAC which aired TV ads against a Democratic congressional candidate last year, had indicated earlier this year that it was backing the Minnesota congresswoman in the GOP nominating contest. But the group instead made a $475,000 Iowa ad buy on Christmas Eve in support of Romney, according to Federal Election Commission data published today.

The so-called independent expenditure was listed as supporting Romney’s candidacy, and an Iowa political operative who has seen the ad confirmed to The Daily that it’s a 30-second positive spot about the former Massachusetts governor that doesn’t mention any other candidate.

Three political insiders associated with the Super PAC did not immediately return calls and emails seeking comment. But it’s just the latest indication of how far Bachmann’s campaign has fallen since quickly peaking with an Ames Straw Poll win in August. And less than a week before the Iowa caucuses, it will help further position Romney for what’s increasingly shaping up to be a surprise win.

Honestly, I have no real horse in the race for Iowa and the rest of the GOP nomination.  My guy was Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, but that didn’t happen.  All I know at the moment is Tuesday is going to be more interesting than it probably should be, that Iowa still holds way too much power in our decision-making for Presidents, and a lot of bloggers and pundits I call friends and admire are making a complete and utter fools of themselves leading up to the Iowa caucuses.


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Cartoon of the Day

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