The post office is a mess, no news here. They need a fresh way to make money. For years they help our private information. Now with Google, big data and the NSA the post office thinks they can cash in as well. The United States Postal Service is looking to get in on the big-data-for-profit game by mining and selling private data gathered from personal mail sent from and received by Americans everywhere. This is one a few radical idea on the table others include, new delivery services from partnerships like grocery chains, others seek to increase revenues from advertising by mining, storing and analyzing customer data. By mapping those datasets and determining consumer behavior, advertisers and retailers could target more effectively through traditional mail. The post office must find ways to make money now all of sudden looking at mail to and from is on the table. Why do they think we want this, would put up with and need it. They understand Facebook, Google and the NSA are the biggest Internet surveillance programs in the world. How do they get a piece of the action, they do not. Why because they are the government and cannot do anything without it costing too much, failing and never seeing the potential of the program they are inept by design. They should fail at doing the door to door thing and not getting into failing online at all.
When the executive branch uses the courts to get their way it is a slam dunk. That is what happened when federal appeals court on upheld the Environmental Protection Agency’s emission standards for hazardous air pollutants from coal- and oil-fired power plants. The EPA taking marching orders from the White House will not be happy until there is no way left to fire a gas or coal engine in the US. It does not matter to them that as long as China and India do not do the same we are a drop in the bucket. The ruling the court rejected state and industry challenges to rules designed to clean up mercury, lead, arsenic and other dangerous air pollutants. The new regulations were designed to remove toxins from the air that contribute to respiratory illnesses, birth defects and developmental problems in children. We have said more than once when it comes to the EPA overstating the benefits from anything they ask for it common place. When the EPA drops one of these hammers there is one thing for sure, it will cost billions of dollars annually to comply with the rules. They have been trying to get this through since 2011. The cuts to emissions amounts of the neurotoxin mercury can impair children’s ability to learn.
This week we highlight the top woman of the year for 2012 and 2013, Rihanna she was the second back to back winner and could three pete. She was born on February 20, 1988 her given name is Robyn Rihanna Fenty and she was born in Saint Michael, Barbados. She is so famous now that she goes by one name and everyone knows who she is. She has charted every year since 2008 and has never been lower than #7. She is the sexiest woman in the world according to the tea512. This was once again drove home if you watched the MTV Movie awards red carpet as she tore the runway up and no one looked better. She was so hot nobody that came after even could compare with Rihanna. She performed the Eminem smash Monster that she sang on and the two delivered one of the highlights of the night. We next will see or hear her in the movie Home as she has a role in the animation movie. We found the photo of her walking the red carpet but we really would have liked to use about ten of them and if we could show you her walking you would see how spectacular it really was.
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We wonder about the methods of this White House. This is nothing new if you read this space often. The problem we have is when they do not understand the things they do and what they cause. Case in point is disclosing vulnerabilities in commercial and open source software is in the national interest and should not be withheld from the public said the National Security Council head Caitlin Hayden. The but, is they say unless there is a clear national security or law enforcement need to keep it quiet. When the Heartbleed bug caused security concerns over a widely used encryption technology the NSC was not aware of the Heartbleed vulnerability until it was made public in a private sector cybersecurity report. The federal government relies on OpenSSL to protect the privacy of users of government websites and other online services. This administration clearly does not understand the web, Obamacare and does not takes seriously its responsibility to help maintain an open, interoperable, secure and reliable Internet. The Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies, along with White House has reviewed its policies in this area and reinvigorated an interagency process for deciding when to share vulnerabilities. This process is called the Vulnerabilities Equities Process and more confusion and lack of understanding the Internet in the highest offices.
This is another time of the year when you get a peek behind the persona of a president. When they file taxes it is a public record. Remember President Clinton donating used underwear for a tax write off. President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama paid $98,169 in taxes on $481,098 in adjusted income last year. They paid an effective federal income tax rate of 20.4 percent. The Obamas donated $59,251 to 32 charities. So the first question is what is wrong in the White House? On their 2012 tax return they reported a six digit number for giving $150,034. Most notable was the Fisher House for vets this year they only get $8,751 don from $103,871 in 2012. There is other good news people are done buying his dumb books. We see them in the used book store for 2.99 please go get it there. This year royalty checks for $31,139 from Random House and $85,041 from Dystel & Goderich Literary Management, equal to a total of $116,180 in book sales. This is down 60% from the 2012 amount $273,739. The stop the presses moment was the Obamas had total tax payments of $117,277. They were entitled to a refund of $19,108. Itemized deductions totaling $147,769 charitable contributions and $42,383 in mortgage interest on the home they own in Chicago. Obama’s annual salary as president is $400,000, which was the main source of the family’s income last year.
Ding Dong with witch is dead. Ding Dong with witch is dead. That is feeling when we learned across the wire that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is going to resign. Not only is the five year long nightmare that was this HHS chief finally over but proves another bad choice choice from President Barack Obama. We have been calling for her firing for a long time as we see her as the reason the Obamacare Website was had a failure to launch. Then as it unraveling we realized her incompetence and blame game was costing us more than she was worth. When anything went wrong at HHS she blamed someone else and hired outside consultants to fix it. We think of a leader as someone who puts in the work to make sure thing run as smoothly as possible and then is right out front when there is a problem. This is the polar opposite of how the former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius handled things. When the website bombed she was nowhere to be found and sent minions into speak to the media. We are happy that in the end she is gone even though it would have been better to be fired.
Your Obamacare is hard at work. Congress is doing everything it can to make it work. The problems Americans have recently been hit with some of the largest premium increases in years. The average premium increase for customers renewing an insurance plan is 12 percent in the small group market and 11 percent in the individual market. This is a major amount of money when you think people are paying 300 a paycheck for a family plan. These hikes are the largest in the past three years, according to Morgan Stanley’s quarterly reports are largely due to changes under Obamacare analysts concluded. Rates have been growing increasingly fast throughout all of 2013, after a period of drops in 2012. Over the next three months, the rate doubled again to the current average small growth premium growth rate of 12 percent. Just in case you hoped for more from Obamacare Individual policies saw a much starker jump after the Obamacare exchanges launched. This not knew to anyone as consumers are already seeing: the Affordable Care Act’s intensive regulation of the insurance market is driving health care premiums up and are bracing for a grim reality at the end of the year..
We love when a story cannot get swept under a carpet. The best one ever was the Monica Lewinsky sexcapades at the White House. They never let it go and though it did not change anything it did make sure President Clinton was remembered for what he was. The same can be said for the IRS as we were happy to see the House Ways and Means Committee will vote this week to formally ask the Justice Department to pursue criminal charges against former IRS employee Lois Lerner. The committee will mark up a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder accusing Lerner of committing three crimes relating to the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups seeking tax exempt status. The problem is the justice department is full of President Barack Obama soldiers and this is an uphill battle to say the least. The idea is to never let it get to far out of the spotlight and someday the price will be paid and justice served. Remember it last May when Lerner admitted the agency had given extra scrutiny to tea party groups. This acknowledgement that has cost only a handful of agency employees their jobs, we did see the commissioner get sent packing which is only right.
This week we pick a bonafide hottie. Scarlett I. Johansson this will be the seventh time we put the spotlight on the gorgeous starlet who was born November 22, 1984 in New York City. She has been on the countdown every year as was last year’s #5 in 2012 and 2011 she was #4, 2010 and 2009 she was #5, and the first year 2008 she was #3. We picked her this week because her movie dropped and is number one Captain America: The Winter Soldier opened to $95M with a $170M budget. Scarlett is super-hot and even pregnant in this photo she is dripping sexy. We have been a big fan for years and she has never been lower than number five which says it all. We thought this was a good time to bring Scarlett out as we are not sure what the rest of the year holds. We can look forward to her on the big screen this year in Lucy and the sequel to Avengers: Age of Ultron. There has been talk for a long time and are not sure when but she does have a Black Widow movie in which she is the star but no date has been given.
We are not ready for this and are pretty sure it is a mistake. This presidential run season is on us and we need to shake out the fakers from the takers. This is only the first round and there are many poser that need to fall by the wayside. We do not need the idea of another Bush and do not need it dragged out as well. We are talking about this because Jeb Bush says all the speculation about whether he will run for president in 2016 and will let the masses know his decision before year’s end. He will come out with this announcement this weekend and said he would only run if he could deliver an optimistic, hopeful message. He is worried about getting drawn into a ugly battle. The real factor in his decision will be if it is ok with his family. We do not think the country will vote for a third Bush for the White House. We do not think it is a good idea for Jeb to try to drum up support and feel the waters this way. This is not about immigration overhaul or the Florida educational standards for kindergarten through 12th grade known as Common Core. This is about the fact we cannot afford to lose another election and another Bush seems all sorts of wrong.
We got some good news so of course it comes out on Saturday but the latest Associated Press-GfK March poll on this year’s election and the burgeoning 2016 presidential field. The outlook is control of Congress is tight, but Republicans have gained on Democrats since January. Thirty-six percent in last month’s poll said they would rather see the Democrats in charge of Congress and 37 percent chose Republicans. This is important because the poll is for registered voters who are most strongly interested in politics. Since this is not an president election the full electorate will not come out. But those polled favored the Republicans by 14 percentage points, 51 percent to 37 percent. In January, this group was about evenly split, with 42 percent preferring Democrats and 45 percent the Republicans. They also report favorable views of the GOP have improved, with 38 percent overall now saying they hold a favorable impression of the Party. Republicans’ positive view of their own party has increased from 57 percent in January to 72 percent now. This all good news and we are sure there is a democrat poll that says the opposite. The only thing with that is it will be reported on all news outlets and on a Monday night when all are watching.
Get ready for more Blame Bush, Cheney is evil and Rumsfield is a war monger talk. We found out that the Senate Intelligence Committee in their infinite wisdom has voted to release parts of a no longer and not so secret report that harshly criticizes CIA terror interrogations after 9/11. Bring back the waterboarding and the other enhanced interrogation techniques that lead to capture and stopping terror attacks all over the world. The vote was 11-3 for the declassification of almost 500 pages of the 6,300-page review. The republicans that voted for this made themselves feel better by saying it was important for the country to move on including Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, the intelligence committee’s top Republican. So get ready MSNBC, NYT and Bill Maher are licking their chops at fresh Bush administration material. WE are sure those people have been in Senator Dianne Feinstein, the committee chairwoman, for this for some time. The first step is the CIA will start scanning the report’s contents for any passages that could compromise national security. This has already been a hot button issue between the Senate and the CIA. The report was produced exclusively by Democratic staffers. It concludes among other things that waterboarding and other harsh techniques provided no key evidence in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, according to congressional aides and outside experts familiar with the document. Feinstein and other senators also have cited a series of misleading claims by the CIA over the years about the effectiveness of the program.
They made it through to the finish line and we are going to be the worse for it. We think that if you cannot fund something to just pull it out makes very little sense. We knew congress was not letting up and this was going to happen. Sure enough the legislation to restore jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed has cleared a final Senate hurdle before a vote on passage set in the coming days. The vote was 61-35 to advance the bill which as you can see is one more than the 60 needed. We knew that most Republicans voted against advancing the bill, citing a Democratic refusal to permit any votes on their proposed changes. This was a piece of White House-backed legislation that would resurrect a program of benefits for the long-term unemployed that expired in late December. This is to create a stop gap for people who have been out of work for more than 26 weeks. We are pretty sure it will pass in the senate but there is strong opposition in the Republican-controlled House. We have not seen any quotes from House Speaker John Boehner as we do not believe he has made a commitment to permit a vote.
The flood gates are now open, break out your bank book and give until it hurts. The problem is they are so rich it never hurts. The Supreme Court has voted to free wealthy donors to give to as many political candidates and campaigns as they want. The 5-4 majority changed the law saying the limits on big-money contributions violate the constitutional free-speech rights. This voided the overall federal limit on how much an individual can contribute $123,200 in 2013 and 2014. The ruling will allow the wealthiest contributors to funnel huge amounts of dollars into candidate and party pockets. They are still subject to disclosure under federal law, unlike much of the big money that independent SuperPACs have to do. We feel the biggest boom will go to the political parties as they have lost ground due to the SuperPacs. The court decided aggregate limits do not act to prevent corruption or the appearance of corruption. The idea of limits by definition intrudes on a citizen’s ability to exercise giving as a First Amendment activity. The justices fell short of giving it all away as they left in place limits on individual contributions to each candidate for president or Congress, now $2,600 for a primary and another $2,600 for the general election.