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06/05/2015 - 07:47

Elon MuskAlt-energy/transport-tech CEO Elon Musk and his trio of companies (Tesla, SolarCity and SpaceX) didn’t cooperate with the Los Angeles Times on its article that tabulated his businesses’ whopping sum of corporate welfare ($4.9 billion), and he was predictably miffed by the (accurate) portrayal.

So he went about trying to fix things on CNBC and with the Times on Monday, but not by denying the conclusions reached by reporter Jerry Hirsch, but instead by essentially pointing at fossil fuel industries and saying “they do it more.”

06/02/2015 - 09:46

Well, somebody did it, and it was the mainstream media. Congratulations to the Los Angeles Times for taking the time to research and estimate the total amount of U.S. public (local, state, and federal) subsidies for companies owned or run by South African-born Canadian-American Elon Musk.

The total amount calculated by reporter Jerry Hirsch for taxpayer-backed incentives – of many different forms, including tax credits and rebates provided to customers – was $4.9 billion. The corporate beneficiaries have been Tesla Motors and SpaceX, where Musk is CEO, and SolarCity Corp., where he is chairman. The sum does not include SpaceX’s contracts with the government to carry out programs for NASA and the U.S. Air Force.

06/01/2015 - 18:30

If any one state stands out in the race to the bottom of public employee pension insolvency, Illinois would be it. And GOP Governor Bruce Rauner is steeling himself to prevent a collapse.  Rauner, a former private equity fund manager, was elected last November over Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn.  He faces $111 billion in unfunded pension liabilities, or about $8,500 per resident.  The years of greed, corruption and bad luck having taken a toll, the governor and his top fiscal policy adviser, Donna Arduin, have proposed tough measures to reverse course.  So far, they haven’t won any friends among public-sector unions - or the Illinois Supreme Court, which on May 8 sided with the unions in invalidating reforms enacted in late 2013. 

05/27/2015 - 08:35

The New York Times reports that the Justice Department has concluded that there was criminal wrongdoing by General Motors as the company covered-up a deadly ignition switch defect for years. That defect has now been blamed for causing the deaths of at least 107 motorists. While many observers may have been able to come to the conclusion that GM was guilty long before the Justice Department’s recent epiphany, the bigger question now is, what’s next?

05/20/2015 - 12:25

Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL), former federal judge who was impeached in 1988 for perjury and accepting bribes, on Monday asserted that members of Congress are not paid enough. He told the House Rules Committee:

Members deserve to be paid, staff deserves to be paid and the cost of living here is causing serious problems for people who are not wealthy to serve in this institution.

Reaction was immediate. From an article by Lachlan Markay in the Washington Free Beacon:

05/20/2015 - 12:21

“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” goes the adage.  In Al Sharpton’s family, the words are doubly true.  This past weekend, Dominique Sharpton, the eldest of Reverend Al’s two adult daughters, announced she has sued the City of New York for $5 million over a sprained ankle she sustained last October while tripping over uneven pavement in the middle of a Lower Manhattan street.  She claims that she was “severely injured, bruised and wounded” and “still suffers and will continue to suffer for some time physical pain and bodily injuries.”  Yet given the outsized award sought, and her seemingly healthy condition only a couple months later, this may be an attempt to game our liability system; i.e., a hoax.  And there is another issue:  Is dad looking for a cut? 

05/15/2015 - 10:21

It’s been almost a month since the Wall Street Journal ran an editorial titled “The Menendez Indictment.”  We responded in a letter to the editor that has not been published. It’s a safe bet it never will be, so we post it here.

The Journal got to the point in its opening paragraph:

Ill-defined federal laws now reach into virtually every sphere of human behavior, and thus prosecutors can destroy almost anyone they choose. The recent indictment of Senator Robert Menendez on 14 counts of corruption and “honest services” fraud is a troubling case in point that deserves more than a little skepticism.

05/13/2015 - 17:59

According to a report by the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) that was leaked to the Washington Post, ten House members broke House Rules when they took an all-expenses paid trip in 2013 to a conference in Baku, Azerbaijan, courtesy of an oil company known as SOCAR. Also enjoying free trips were 32 staff members.

Azerbaijan is a country in Central Asia ruled by strongman Ilham Aliyev. In 2012, the Organized Crime and Corruption Project named him its “Person of the Year” for doing “the most to promote organized criminal activity or advance corruption.”

05/08/2015 - 15:12

In Baltimore, the ashes have cooled; the curfew has ended; the National Guardsmen have left; and Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have gone home.  But the apparent normalcy is misleading.  For the orgy of looting, vandalism and arson last week following the death of a black petty criminal, Freddie Gray, may return with a vengeance if the six arrested local police officers, three white and three black, are not convicted.  Gray died on April 19 of spinal injuries sustained a week earlier while in custody. Last Friday, State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced arrests for one count of second-degree murder and several counts of manslaughter, assault and misconduct.  Yet treating this case as a homicide, racially motivated or not, isn't just premature.  It's also a capitulation to mob rule. 

05/07/2015 - 07:09

Peter DavidsonBack in November the Department of Energy boasted that its loan program for renewable energy technologies and “advanced” (mostly electric) vehicles had achieved a positive balance, which many in the media lapped up after so many failures such as Solyndra.

But now that the Government Accountability Office has revealed in a detailed study that the true cost of the loan program to taxpayers is $2.2 billion – plus administrative expenses – journalists are nowhere to be found. As for DOE, they still stick to their story.

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