WASHINGTON — A congressional hearing into the furor over political targeting by the Internal Revenue Service descended into political theater of the absurd Wednesday, as the former IRS official at the heart of the case again asserted her Fifth Amendment rights and refused to answer questions.
Lois Lerner, the former director of Tax-Exempt Organizations for the IRS, led the division that oversaw the staffers responsible for making sure that so-called social welfare groups were not going out of bounds with their political activities.
Although her unit did target some progressive groups, the majority of those that faced extra scrutiny were linked to the tea party, sparking cries of scandal and political intimidation from conservatives.
In recent weeks, many women have driven or walked up to their pharmacy window to pick up their birth control pills. They were all pleasantly surprised to get told, free. Women tend to forget if the free isn’t needed. I was with someone who did need free. What a nice surprise.
However, the free pills just generated more questions. Is all birth control free? If someone wanted a tubal ligation or a vasectomy (the operation REAL men seek) is that going to be free? What about condoms? If those are free, do you just get the utilitarian kind or do you get the fun ones? How about depro shots and IUDs? Are those free also?
It sounds like a great concept. If the financial burden is removed from the contraception equation, won’t that prevent unintended pregnancy?
Probably not but it goes a long way towards making a dent in the problem. What do the contributors have to say on this issue?
Is this woman (yea, Fox News again) really this uninformed? Do we really have to shop around for people who accept our lifestyle?
What if you didn’t want orthodox Jews in your place? How about senior citizens? Are there two sides to the Arizona issue?
Yes, I know it is a done deal in Arizona. However, there are other states that are trying to legislate similar laws that allow business owners to refuse service to gays based on their religious beliefs. The Arizona bill went down in swift defeat not because of men of good will but because of the economic pressure directed at the government. Not all states have Arizona’s tourism attractions though. Will any of them be successful?
Yesterday’s story actually became the story. Most of our contributors know that there is a certain decorum around here and nearly everyone goes along with it without question. I think all of our ‘in moderations’ have even been turned loose and that we all agree that the rules around here really aren’t so bad. Hell, we even let people cuss and more than a few people last week used a socially inappropriate word or two without having to sit in the naughty chair.
One of the major rules here is about county employees. I went back through the thread and its comments just to make sure that *I* had adhered to our own rules. I think I did. I think I urged others to do the same. We also encourage people to be respectful of each other as much as is humanly possible during political debate. That extends to name calling.
So a certain councilman in the City of Manassas has decided to take on the City Council, single-handedly, and regulate Amethyst Health Center. By whose authority? Mr. Aveni, do you know that abortion is a legal procedure in all 50 states in the United States? Why are you trying to bankrupt the very city that you live in? Manassas should not become a lawsuit magnet.
The owner of the Amethyst Health Center will close the clinic when she is ready to close it, or, she will sell it. You cannot not stand in her way or alter her course. She will topple you like a house of cards while she smiles. The City of Manassas will be sued unless you all regulate all the other outpatient facilities the same way. That would include your plastic surgeons, your gastroenterologists, your oral surgeons, your urologists, and any other medical practice that performs surgery.
As Russian troops cross over into Ukraine, President Obama issued a stern warning to the Russian Federation: Stay out of Ukraine. The situation today is very critical. Will Putin withdraw the troops or will we have an international incident? Will the Ukraine remain independent? Can we trust Putin?
No end in sight yet. Winter has a firm grip on us. Every week we seem to get more snow and arctic temperatures. The few warm days we have had are simply teasers…something to taunt us.
The vernal equinox is a little over 3 weeks away. Day Light Saving Time begins in less than 2 weeks, on March 9. We might need a dog sled for St. Patricks Day.
Have people been sicker this winter? Had more colds? I am finishing up cold #2 this winter. I hadn’t had a cold in 5 years. I am ready for this horrible winter to be gone!
Virginia Republican Party Treasurer Bob FitzSimmonds is drawing rebuke for a Facebook comment that used off-color language in reference to a female GOP legislator.
The episode unfolded Tuesday night during an online discussion of a JH Politics blog article about donor activity in the hotly contested Republican nomination process for the 10th Congressional District in Northern Virginia.
It was Comstock’s name that elicited FitzSimmonds’ online ouburst.
Whenever a state prisoner calls home, Virginia gets a tack-on fee. At 35 percent of the prepaid or collect-call charges, these add up to more than $3 million a year.
Del. Patrick A. Hope, D-Arlington, tried to change that this year, but was voted down. His House Bill 414 would have cut the state’s fee to 10 percent and dedicated that money to prisoner re-entry programs. Right now it just goes into the general fund.
“This is a tax on these families who have done nothing wrong,” Hope said. “It’s a deterrent to communicating with your kids or your mother and father.”
Over the last three years (2011-2013) this fee brought in between $3.86 million and $3.13 million to state coffers, according to the Virginia Department of Corrections. The department didn’t have the amount that its telephone provider, Global Tel Link, charged for the calls.
I can remember all sorts of people whining and complaining that Virginia shouldn’t be making money off of liquor sales back when Governor McDonnell wanted to privatize Virginia’s liquor stores. I suppose, however, it’s ok to skim a few million off of families of Virginia’s inmate population, every time they call home?
Let’s face it. None of us like to pay taxes. It’s against our grain to turn over our money to anyone else without seeing something visible and tangible in return. Local taxes are often invisible–Public money goes to schools, roads, community services like fire and rescue other people’s welfare, and to fix broken pipes and water mains. If you don’t commute, have kids in school or if your house doesn’t catch fire, then you might not have much of a notion as to where your ‘hard earned’ cash goes.
[Does anyone have money that isn't "hard earned?" Are there any of us who aren't tax payers?]
This Tuesday, the PWC Board of County Supervisors will set the proposed tax rate for FY 15 which begins July 1, 2014. To read local blogs, one would think that Tuesday is Doomsday. Prognosticators wearing long robes and carrying signs have been predicting the end of the world for months now with the evil chairman being the chief instigator to take that hard earned cash. One would think the evil chairman was a one horse show, rather than simply one of 8 elected officials. Enough about Wizard Stewart, the money grabber. Let’s examine a few things about the tax rate and what it represents.
SB 1062 has passed the Arizona legislature. It has not been signed into law yet. What will Jan Brewer do?
SB1062 basically says that business owners, as long as they state their religious beliefs, can deny services and products to gays and lesbians. Why don’t they just throw in Blacks, Jews, Muslims, Mexicans, Asians, and anyone else they want to discriminate against and call it a day?
Is Arizona seriously this redneck?
If this bill becomes law I won’t travel to Arizona and it will break my heart. I love the region. No more Sedona, no more Grand Canyon. No more Flagstaff or Painted Desert. No more Tucson Gem Show. Is the discrimination against gays and lesbians the last bastion of prejudice? Hopefully Gov. Jan Brewer will do the right thing and veto the bill.
Kiev burns. Over 70 civilians killed yesterday. The video footage reminds us of Hungary and Czechoslovakia back in the 50′s. Kiev is a modern, fairly western city. What do these protestors want? For starters, they don’t want to be killed by their government.
They want their monetary system to be more westernized. What’s the problem? Putin’s puppet, Viktor Yanukovych, wants to hold the Ukrainians down and under the yoke of the thug Putin. Fuel is expensive. Food is expensive. Housing is expensive.
Many countries who were under former Soviet rule have been plagues by high inflation and an unstable economic system. The bottom line is, many are willing to die for economic freedom for their country.
A local blog suggested the following to ‘cut spending’:
Eliminate the double-dipping by retired school teachers for making tens of
thousands of dollars as substitute teachers, but you never step into a
classroom. It is a sweet gig, but it is time to end it. Estimated savings: $3 million over five years.
I am highly curious. How do you double dip as a retired teacher? If you are retired, then you aren’t receiving a teacher pay check. If you aren’t receiving the first pay check, then you aren’t double dipping.
Secondly, I believe that the blogger is speaking of the ROP program. Yes, retired teachers are paid for performing various professional tasks throughout the school system, one of which might be substitute teaching. There are lots of other duties that need performing. Using members of the ROP team has saved the county millions of dollars since its inception and smart jurisdictions statewide have retired teachers ROPPING, although they might not call their program by that terminology.
The ROP program is not double dipping. When you ROP, you get one check from the county. If you are hired to perform other duties, it isn’t until you have completed your contractual ROP agreement for the year.
As Prince William County begins its budget deliberations, I want to encourage the supervisors to remember the poor, beleaguered schools, their students and their teachers. As it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a county to do the right thing by its schools. The BOCS must set the current tax rate.
Regardless of political correctness or other artificial constraints some folks will attempt to put on the situation, the BOCS needs to do 2 things. They need to set the tax rate high enough to start bringing the schools up to snuff after the long , lean period following the housing crash that began in 2007. They they need to give the School Board a little larger slice of the pie.
The school system needs to do three things:
1. Start reducing class size.
2. Give teachers and other employees a raise.
3. Make basic supplies more readily available.
Frankly, no one wants to hear the old tea party rallying call to ‘Stop Spending.’ Those words are simplistic answers for simplistic people. The average person has no idea what programs are mandated and what programs are not. I have spent more years in the system than most folks and I don’t know all the ins and outs in that regard. No one does when dealing with a hugely complex system like Prince William, Loudoun, Fairfax or Stafford.
I used to live in the Gainesville District. In recent times, I am not so sure what district I live in. I have not moved.
Last night, my supervisor held an electronic town hall meeting. I like the concept of the electronic town hall meeting. I enjoyed the last one. Last night, not so much. All I heard were talking points from a local blog. I was disappointed. I pretty much heard affirmation of an uncooperative board of supervisors and an irresponsible school board. I don’t believe either of these bodies are irresponsible. Furthermore, the school board is not made up of members of society from a lesser god. They are duly elected officers of the county, the same as the board of supervisor members.
I wanted to ask a question but I figured I wouldn’t get through to my supervisor. It wouldn’t have been well-received, I don’t think.
The question I would have asked is the following:
If I contacted the supervisor’s office or the county over something that irritated the supervisor, would he post my inquiry on his website, thus opening me up for ridicule and vicious attacks from local bloggers and contributors?