Tell Your Friends! Bookmark Me!
Take Me To Your Homepage!
Archive for the ‘Cigars’ Category
According to Mike Allen at the Politico Bush is appointing some advisers to work with congress to come up with a compromise SCHIP plan.
AP’s Kevin Freking looks ahead: ‘President Bush, anticipating that his veto of a $35 billion spending increase for children’s insurance will stand, has assigned three top advisers to try to negotiate a new deal with Congress. … Leading the discussions for his administration are Mike Leavitt, the health and human services secretary; Al Hubbard, director of the National Economic Council; and Jim Nussle, the White House budget chief.’
Even though a ton of kids won’t be able to get health care now they can get birth control freely and confidentially at one Maine Middle School.
The Portland school board on Wednesday approved a measure allowing middle-school students to gain access to prescription birth control medications without notifying parents.
The proposal, from the Portland Division of Public Health, calls for the independently operated health care center at King Middle School to provide a variety of services to students, including immunizations and physical checkups in addition to birth-control medications and counseling for sexually transmitted diseases, said Lisa Belanger, an administrator for Portland’s student health centers.
At least this measure, which provides birth control to children as young as 11, will stem population growth and prevent more children from having to live in the callous nation of America. I mean, wouldn’t you want your eleven-year-old to know that there is a safe place for her to go if she has a rash where the sun don’t shine?
Or maybe there’s another option for children. Michael Franc, VP of government relations for the Heritage Foundation, wrote a piece titled How to Insure Kids (Once the Shouting Dies Down) that attempts to provide an alternative road. Curiously, the option he is proposing is being backed by liberals as well, including some of the most vocal critics of President Bush’s veto.
An alternative approach is waiting in the wings. Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) is floating legislation that mirrors the plan that last January brought together a diverse coalition of organizations, including liberal advocacy groups like Families USA and AARP, health provider organizations like the American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association, business groups like the Chamber of Commerce, and my own conservative think tank.
This approach would do two things. First, it would maintain the SCHIP program’s historical focus on children in families at or slightly above the poverty level and give it resources to identify and enroll more of the half million SCHIP-eligible kids who still lack health insurance. Second, it would create a tax credit for families with income between two and three times the federal poverty level (up to an annual income of $62,000) for the sole purpose of securing health coverage for their children. This much-needed tax relief would enable the 10.5 million children in these families to gain or retain their private coverage.
As Martinez argues, rather than “putting more people on a government-run program” and in many cases “forcing them to drop their current coverage, let’s advance tax credits to … help families with employer-based insurance add their children to their existing policies” or, for those lacking coverage, “provide the resources necessary [for them] to go out and purchase health care.”
Harry Reid should be very proud about a letter he wrote that is up for auction on eBay right now. The auction is about a day away from ending and the letter is already fetching more then $500,000! Or should he be so proud? No, of course he shouldn’t be proud because the letter’s purpose is to get a private citizen, Rush Limbaugh, in trouble with his boss. It’s a good thing that Rush knows how to turn lemons into lemonade because all the proceeds, plus a matching donation from Limbaugh himself, is going to go to the Marine Corps – Law Enforcement Foundation.
Meanwhile in Pakistan an exiled ex-leader, Benazir Bhutto, has come home and found time to write a story about it! Here is part of what she had to say:
AS I board the plane that takes me home to Pakistan today, I carry with me a manuscript of a book I am writing that will be published shortly. It is a treatise on the reconciliation of the values of Islam and the West, and a prescription for a moderate and modern Islam that marginalizes religious extremists, returns the military from politics to their barracks, treats all citizens and especially women with full and equal rights, selects its leaders by free and fair elections, and provides for transparent, democratic governance that addresses the social and economic needs of the people as its highest priority.
To me this is not just a book but a campaign manifesto, a guide to governing. If the people of Pakistan honor me again with an opportunity to lead, I intend to practice what I preach, to have my actions match my rhetoric and to make Pakistan a positive model to 1 billion Muslims around the world.
Is she serious? A major part of the reason for her exile was the rampant corruption that occurred under her nose. Ralph Peter’s from the New York Post takes it from here.
For all his faults, Musharraf views himself as a Pakistani patriot – not as a political party boss in the fashion of Bhutto, nor as a Punjabi or Pashtun, Baluch or Sindhi first. Indeed, only the military holds the fractured state of Pakistan together.
Now Benazir Bhutto – one of the figures who did so much to destroy the fabric of society and the economy – is back in Pakistan. It appears that she and Musharraf have worked out a power-sharing arrangement. We may hope for the best, but we also need to be prepared for the worst: a new era of hyper-corruption, as Bhutto’s grab-all gang replaces the relative moral rigor of the military in the public sphere.
In the West, Bhutto is popular because she’s a civilian – and that’s about it. Her champions merrily overlook the pestilential corruption, social polarization and pandering to extremists that marked her two terms as prime minister.
Just because she doesn’t have a fancy military uniform doesn’t mean she’s all sugar and spice and everything nice. With her reemergence as a source of power in Pakistan our relationship with that country is going to get much more tricky. No one knows what her current policy proposals are going to be but I think it is safe to assume that she is going to do whatever she can to undermine Musharraf and that would mean undermining someone who has been our ally since 9-11.
Would she go as far as helping al Qaeda get their hands on a nuclear weapon? I doubt it; they supposedly want her dead (even though she did support the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan for “economic” reasons when she was in power). But odder things have happened in the name of politics. And according to David Ignatius at the Washington Post al Qaeda is definitely trying to get a nuke.
After a few sentences of chiding Americans for succumbing to fear mongering about possible terrorist attacks he gets to the meat and potatoes of his story. As far back as the early 90s al Qaeda was trying to get its hands on nuclear material so they could build a nuclear weapon.
for nearly a decade before Sept. 11, al-Qaeda was seeking to acquire weapons of mass destruction. As early as 1993, Osama bin Laden offered $1.5 million to buy uranium for a nuclear device, according to testimony presented in federal court in February 2001. When the al-Qaeda leader was asked in 1998 if he had nuclear or chemical weapons, he responded: “Acquiring weapons for the defense of Muslims is a religious duty. If I have indeed acquired these weapons, then I thank God for enabling me to do so.”
Even as al-Qaeda was preparing to fly its airplane bombs into buildings, the group was also trying to acquire nuclear and biological capabilities. In August 2001, bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, met around a campfire with Pakistani scientists from a group called Umma Tameer-E-Nau to discuss how al-Qaeda could build a nuclear device. Al-Qaeda also had an aggressive anthrax program that was discovered in December 2001 after bin Laden was driven from his haven in Afghanistan.
Al-Qaeda proclaimed a religious rationale to justify the WMD attacks it was planning. In June 2002, a Kuwaiti-born cleric named Suleiman Abu Ghaith posted a statement on the Internet saying that “al-Qaeda has the right to kill 4 million Americans” in retaliation for U.S. attacks against Muslims. And in May 2003, at the same time Saudi operatives of al-Qaeda were trying to buy three Russian nuclear bombs, a cleric named Nasir al-Fahd issued a fatwa titled “A Treatise on the Legal Status of Using Weapons of Mass Destruction Against Infidels.” Interrogations of al-Qaeda operatives confirmed that the planning was serious. Al-Qaeda didn’t yet have the materials for a WMD attack, but it wanted them.
Most chilling of all was Zawahiri’s decision in March 2003 to cancel a cyanide attack in the New York subway system. He told the plotters to stand down because “we have something better in mind.” What did that mean? More than four years later, we still don’t know.
al Qaeda with a nuclear bomb would be the worst news possible. They have no reason not to use it because there really isn’t a specific geographic location we can target for a counterattack that would eviscerate al Qaeda for good. Dispersed terrorist organizations are so dangerous because they could theoretically be everywhere. We know that some of their operatives have pulled off major operations within our borders before and there’s no doubt, in my mind at least, that there are more sleeper cells in America today awaiting orders.
And how hard would it be getting a nuclear bomb into America? It wouldn’t be as easy as smuggling a cache of AK 47s over our Southern border but I think we would be fooling ourselves if we thought it was impossible. Load the nuke in a large enough truck and bring it in from Canada. Or, if the terrorists wanted to produce the maximum damage from their illicit WMD by putting the mega-bomb in a plane and set out from Southern Canada. Go “off course” into New York and head for New York City. Even if we scramble our jets and were able to intercept the nuclear plane what would we do? If we blew it up it would serve to make a large area a radioactive wasteland because the blown up nuke would serve as a dirty bomb. There’s no way to defend against this attack except for eliminating the threat before it gets off the ground, so to speak.
Find out how Hillary likes her Berger.
American Muslims against Saudi Arabia.
Iran supports the Taliban.
US wants Saudi school closed in America.
Play videogames? Want to be a spy?
University cancels talk from controversial speaker. Free speech is so important….
This years creepiest mask!
Tell Your Friends! Bookmark Me!
Take Me To Your Homepage!
I don’t think I’ve ever given you two posts on cigars back-to-back but I think that this is sufficiently important because it has to do with C-Day, the day we find out whether or not cigars will become prohibitively expensive for most people. The best cigar blogger I’ve found covering the affects of SCHIP on the cigar industry has been David Savona. Here’s his latest post from Cigar Aficionado. Pay special attention to the bold part to see how much the tax will increase prices.
A Taxing Situation
October 15, 2007
I’m back in the office after a few days in Charleston, South Carolina, at the annual Cigar Association of America meeting. This is a gathering where some of the nation’s biggest cigar makers discuss the issues of the day, and this year no issue loomed larger than SCHIP.
SCHIP stands for State Children’s Health Insurance Program, and it’s been the hot topic in the cigar industry since the summer. Some members of Congress wish to expand the program by $35 billion, and the funds for that expansion would come from higher tobacco taxes, including an increase in the federal excise tax on large cigars. The rate change, going from 20.7 percent of the manufacturers’ selling price to 52.988 percent, is the minor issue: the big problem is the limit on that tax. Currently it’s capped at 5 cents. This bill would have it rise to $3.
The bill passed Congress, but President Bush vetoed the legislation on October 3. So we’re out of the woods, right? Not quite. On Thursday, October 18, Congress will make a push to overturn the veto. They have the votes in the Senate, but not the House, so some are lobbying to sway the minds of their fellow politicians.
Most of America’s mass-market cigar producers were at the CAA show, with a few premium cigarmakers. SCHIP is weighing heavily on their minds. “We’ll be drinking on Thursday,” said one young cigar executive. “Good stuff if the veto holds, cheap stuff if it doesn’t.”
This is a big week for cigar smokers. If the veto is overturned, the tax rate would change on January 1st. Your cigars would become considerably more expensive.
How expensive? Here’s an unscientific calculation: The suggested retail price (SRP) of most cigars is twice the wholesale price, which is the price many (but not all) manufacturers sell at. So taking that assumption, let’s look at a few cigars from the Corona Gorda section of the October Cigar Aficionado:
The Coronado by La Flor Corona Especial has an SRP of $7. Assuming a manufacturers’ selling price of $3.50, under current law the federal excise tax on that cigar would be five cents (20.7 percent of $3.50 is 72 cents, but the cap is at 5 cents.) SCHIP would change that tax to $1.85. (52.988 percent of $3.50 is $1.85, still under the $3 cap.) The Fuente Fuente OpusX Fuente Fuente has an SRP of $9.50. Assuming a manufacturers’ selling price of $4.75, the federal tax would go from 5 cents under current law to $2.51.
Two of the cigars in that tasting category, the Diamond Crown Robusto ($14 SRP) and the Zino Platinum Scepter Series Grand Master ($13) would reach the $3 tax cap. The least expensive cigar in the category, the $4 Arturo Fuente Flor Fina 8-5-8 Maduro, would have an estimated tax of $1.06.
There’s no denying these are huge increases: for the 8-5-8 smoker, your tax would go from five cents to $1.06, a 21-fold increase. For those smoking the more pricey smokes, the tax would rise 60-fold.
An additional $1 to $3 more per cigar in federal taxes on every cigar you smoke, $25 to $75 more for every box. That’s quite a bit of money. Here’s the question: should the veto get overturned on Thursday and the tax rate spikes, how would it affect your buying habits?
This is ridiculous! All in the name of unconstitutionally providing state sponsored health care to “kids” (up to 25 may receive this) who are part of a family from the lower middle class. Hey, if you don’t think it’s fair for these kids to go without health care why don’t you pony up your own money and stop taking mine.
Think that sounds callous? Well why not take my money to pay for increasingly worse public education? Or maybe you could use my money to ensure that every poor adult has health care? Perhaps you could use my money to perform abortions for young women from unprivileged backgrounds? My point is that while it may make you feel better about yourself because you support a piece of legislation that “helps” some people doesn’t mean you’ve helped anyone but it does mean that you’ve made millions of people a little bit poorer.
Every new program that the government initiates helps little and hurts a lot. Those billions of dollars that would be spent on the massive bureaucracy needed to fund this kiddie boondoggle would have to be funded by someone. And do you think it will only be cigar smokers? Hell no. Soon they will be going after things that aren’t even considered “sins.” They’ll be going after you evil landowners, those of you who make money off of investments with more vengeance then they currently have, maybe after families with more then two cars (to save the environment I’m sure), and then what?
Will you still be for these boondoggles when they are paid for with your hard-earned dollars? And even if you are still for these programs then why should it be the government that steals money away from the rest of us so you can do your good deed for the year? Liberals want the government to get out of women’s wombs while conservatives want the government to get out of everyone’s wallets. You decide whose side you’re on. BigT
Tell Your Friends! Bookmark Me!
Take Me To Your Homepage!