In today’s issue:
- Brazen Attack on Damascus Intel Base Suggests Syria Sliding to Civil War
- Using “Us vs. Pirates” Mentality, Committee Brings Out Knives For Google
- Water on Europa Closer to the Surface Than We Thought?
After two weeks of an embarrassing non-scandal scandal for now-former Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY) that provided for some of the easiest comedic material for late night comedy programming since Lorena Bobbitt, the Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives took a bold stand and were rewarded: they collectively turned their backs on Mr. Weiner and said he should resign from Congress, and he did just that.
The start-to-finish of this ordeal was quite quick. The infringing photo was tweeted to a 21-year old on May 27th. Mr. Weiner went with the “I was hacked” defense, which anyone who’s familiar with the internet (especially saying stupid things in a public forum, for example) knows doesn’t hold much water ever. Conservative blogger Andrew Brietbart salivated over the story with more gathered pictures, threatening to leak those as well. On June 6th, the day the first one of the Brietbart photos were leaked, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) took the lead in bringing the knives out for Mr. Weiner:
“I am deeply disappointed and saddened about this situation; for Anthony’s wife, Huma, his family, his staff and his constituents,” the Democratic leader said in a statement. “I am calling for an Ethics Committee investigation to determine whether any official resources were used or any other violation of House rules occurred.”
With friends like these? In any event, they were joined by Republican National Chair Reince Priebus calling for an outright resignation on June 7th, along with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA). The bandwagon was joined on June 8th by more Democrats – Represenatives Schwartz (PA), Ross (AR), Michaud (ME), Tsongas (MA), Kissel (NC), and Donnely (IN). Clearly these pictures needed to be stopped.
Among conservatives and other small-government minded individuals, a common complaint is that the full ability of our economy to recover from the late 2000′s crash is being restrained by taxes on business. Frequently cited is the 35% tax rate that businesses are supposed to pay annually. It is cited as being among the highest rates in the world – which it is. Only a handful of third world nations and Japan have official corporate income tax rates that are higher.
If corporations actually paid taxes at that rate and were hurting because of it, this would be a valid argument to go after. What occurs in the real world, however, is that through a myriad of tax loopholes and armies of tax lawyers fighting to find them, companies pay an effective tax rate that is far below the implied 35%. Some, like General Electric, can rack up billions of dollars in profit in this country and not only have to not pay a dime on any of those earnings but is actually able to get billions of dollars of refunds from the federal government.
General Electric is hardly alone in being able to exploit the system in the past year, or even over the past years. In a period of time from 1998 until 2005 some 72% of all foreign companies and 57% of domestic companies were able to not pay a dime in taxes for at least one full year. That is lost revenue for the federal government – revenue that can not possibly be made up in its entirety by going after the incomes of individuals. As a result things that those same small-government fiscal conservatives complain about – such as the ballooning national debt – are allowed to explode out of control from the abuse of these loopholes. The solution seems to be a never ending mantra of “cut! cut! cut!” and never an effort to figure out if we’re missing out on any revenue.
With the incoming class of Republicans set to begin their rule in the House of Representatives this coming January, battles for leadership of various positions and committees have already begun. Names have been put forward hoping to step into a larger, brighter spotlight – as is the norm in the world of politics. As each formally unknown (or better said, not-as-known) Congressperson steps forward, the evaluation of who they are and what they believe begins. One of the bigger standouts in this arena of committee leadership change comes from Illinois representative John Shimkus, who is aiming for the leadership of the Energy and Commerce committee.
As the title of the committee indicates, one of the realms that it has jurisdiction over is the nation’s energy policy. As an extension of that, it also has huge effects on our environmental policies, just by which policies and energy sources would be favored by it (coal vs. clean, for example). With the threat of Global Warming still incrementally playing out year by year across the world, and with so many things related to energy, consumption, and resources seemingly near dramatic tipping points, now would be the time for some decisive leadership to help ensure that America will be on the right paths to not only help itself from an energy standpoint, but also help the world in the fight against Global Warming.
Instead? Mr. Shimkus takes his cues on Global Warming from The Bible.