Archives for December 2011
Oh, for thee, but not for me! Is that Perry’s new campaign slogan? From the Texas Tribune:
Perry officially retired in January so he could start collecting his lucrative pension benefits early, but he still gets to collect his salary — and has in turn dramatically boosted his take-home pay.
Perry makes a $150,000 annual gross salary as Texas govenor. Now, thanks to his early retirement, Perry, 61, gets a monthly retirement annuity of $7,698 before taxes, or $6,588 net. That raises his gross annual salary to more than $240,000.
Perry spokesman Ray Sullivan said the governor’s early collection of his pension benefits is “consistent with Texas state law and Employee Retirement System rules.”
But the disclosure is sure to spark criticism of Perry, who has called for sweeping changes to Social Security for average workers and has railed against special “perks” that members of Congress get.
“Perry was legally able to begin collecting the employee class annuity under the ‘rule of 80.’ The combination of his U.S. military service, state service and age exceeded 80 years and qualifies him for the annuity under Texas Government Code 813.503 as amended in 1991,” Sullivan said. “Perry continues to pay into the Employees Retirement System with a 6.5 percent withholding from his state salary.”
Perry will get credit for his the subsequent years he works as Texas governor, so he’ll receive a higher pension benefit if he serves out the remaining three years of his term as Texas governor, officials said. He also is eligible for Social Security benefits and lifetime, state-provided health care.
And this is the man who wants to get conservatives on his side?
With Gingrich falling in the polls, the very real prospect of Ron Paul winning the Iowa caucus has some, including Chris Wallace of Fox News, saying that it will cheapen its significance. None of that is to say he will win, but it’s clear that there is an element in Republican politics that is going to downplay Paul’s impact in the race.
Over at The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf explains that downplaying Paul and his views — as so many, including the National Review, are trying to do — is a mistake:
Dismissing the burgeoning number of Americans on the right who are suspicious of interventionism and hawkishness is intellectually suspect and unwise. A majority of Republicans now think that the Iraq War was a mistake. The general non-interventionist impulse on the right has never completely gone away. Paul is by no means the ideal vehicle for non-interventionism. But insofar as he plays a significant role in the GOP primary, it will be partly due to the fact that the legitimate concerns he articulates are taken up by no other viable candidate. One needn’t be an ardent Paul supporter to suspect that National Review would rather that no viable GOP candidate spoke up to challenge the hawkish impulses on the elite right .
A bipartisan group of Senators have wasted no time in trying to apply a legislative fix to the “indefinite detention” language in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which was passed last night. The Due Process Guarantee Act (full text below), sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, would ensure the protections that the NDAA would seemingly erase:
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, today introduced the Due Process Guarantee Act of 2011, legislation that states American citizens apprehended inside the United States cannot be indefinitely detained by the military.
The Due Process Guarantee Act of 2011 amends the Non-Detention Act of 1971 by providing that a Congressional authorization for the use of military force does not authorize the indefinite detention—without charge or trial—of U.S. citizens who are apprehended domestically.
The Feinstein bill also codifies a “clear-statement rule” that requires Congress to expressly authorize detention authority when it comes to U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. The protections for citizens and lawful permanent residents is limited to those “apprehended in the United States” and excludes citizens who take up arms against the United States on a foreign battlefield, such as Afghanistan.
Some folks over at MTV better lock up their doors, because a couple of videos they just created (EDIT: Apparently, these videos are old, but they are still incredibly relevant to what’s going on right now. Thanks, northnodes.) are making a very interesting argument about the National Defense Authorization Act, and I doubt that will keep them in the government’s good graces.
There’s the old Internet rule called “Godwin’s Law,” but after seeing what our government is trying to do, I’m not convinced anyone should ever bring it up.
On one hand, we have SOPA threatening to remove our internet access if we so merely link to a music video, and on the other, we have the NDAA threatening to lock us up on the whims of some government bureaucrat. Between them? Well, no it’s not that dwindling area of freedom, its the Transportation Security Administration, conducting its campaign of government sponsored sexual molestation at our nation’s airports.
With Congress passing the NDAA, the question many ask is simple: How bad will/can it get? It’s a fair question. While the constitutional questions this bill raises are a topic of debate amongst the talking heads and various other politicos, the average person must ask that simple question.
The NDAA essentially turns the entire United States into a warzone for the purposes of combating terrorism. It also gives the government extra-constitutional powers for this very same purpose. Officially, this is about Al Qaeda and “associated forces”, whatever that means.
The thing is, when you look at how Obama’s White House has defined “domestic terrorists”, one is left to wonder when will they decide to define “associated forces” to include domestic terrorists. Honestly, I don’t think it would take very long, and as there is no due process, it’s unlikely that the courts will get a say on this for a very long time.
So the first thing we have to understand is, “what is a domestic terrorist”?
((5) the term `domestic terrorism’ means activities that—
Things are really getting interesting in Iowa. Polls have shifted during the course of the week. What looked like a strong lead for Newt Gingrich diminished into a tie with Ron Paul. But the latest survey from Rasmussen of likely caucus-goers shows Mitt Romney emerging with a slight lead.
- Mitt Romney: 23%
- Newt Gingrich: 20%
- Ron Paul: 18%
- Rick Perry: 10%
- Michele Bachmann: 9%
- Rick Santorum: 6%
- Jon Huntsman: 5%
- Other: 2%
- Not sure: 8%
Byron York explains the significance of the poll:
In the new survey, every candidate but Gingrich gained support in the last few weeks. The biggest gainers were Romney, up four points; Paul, up eight points; and Perry, up four points. Michele Bachmann climbed three points, as did Jon Huntsman, who has been to Iowa a grand total of one time in the campaign.
Gingrich, on the other hand, fell 12 points.
Gingrich has been the target of a barrage of attack ads on Iowa television and radio, particularly from Paul, Romney, and Perry. The consensus among Iowa GOP insiders is that those ads are beginning to take a toll. “That stuff has an impact, where people are at least going to pause” in their enthusiasm for Gingrich, says Bob vander Plaats, an influential Iowa social conservative leader.
The last hope of killing the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) has failed as the United States Senate effectively gutted Habeas Corpus and Due Process protections in the Constitution and Bill of Rights. With only 13 members voting against the conference report, it wasn’t even close.
The NDAA now heads to President Barack Obama, who has showed in recent days how much contempt he holds for civil liberties. Even though Obama has said he’d sign the bill, I would still suggest that you call the White House at (202) 456-1111 and make your voice heard.
Many thanks to Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Lee (R-UT), Jim DeMint (R-SC) and the other members of the Senate that stood with the Constitution and the civil liberties of their constituents this evening.
It’s ironic that yet another fundamental civil liberty has been gutted on Bill of Rights Day.
Despite his rise in the polls, not all conservatives are sold on Newt Gingrich. In recent days, Gingrich’s shortcomings as Speaker, his inconsistencies, and support for a bigger, more intrusive government have been the focal point of many in the right-leaning blogosphere.
In recent days, Gingrich has been rightfully criticized by Fred Barnes and George Will for comments about Mitt Romney’s time in the private sector. While Gingrich passes these off as a “joke,” it’s clear that he doesn’t understand the difference between capitalism (the concept of profit and loss) and corporatism, which he engaged in during his time as a lobbyist for Freddie Mac.
To make his growing problem worse, the editors of the conservative National Review came out strongly against Gingrich’s candidacy yesterday: