Turning back the tide of information overload with a digest of the latest developments in news conservatives need to pay attention to:
† Living in these mad, mad, Madoff Times: A new survey finds that 52 percent of Americans – including 30 percent of respondents making six-figure salaries – say they are struggling to afford necessities, BusinessNewsDaily reports:
"In the general sense, basics were things like food, diapers and gas," said Wendy Liebmann, CEO of analytic company WSL Strategic Retail, which conducted the research. "It comes down to things like, 'How do I feed my family? How do I pay the rent or mortgage and take care of my kids?'
Those sort of everyday things that people need to keep going in their lives." …
"Fundamentally, people are saying, 'I can't be frivolous without thinking it through or saving for it,'" said Liebmann. "People aren’t taking vacations, going out to dinner, buying a computer or buying a car if it is not needed. The biggest headline is, 'I can't afford to be frivolous, and while I may be able to afford a lot of those things, I am not going to do it by just putting it on my credit card.'" …
"There is a component to this of people thinking do I have to have this or do I want to have this?" Liebmann told BusinessNewsDaily. "There are two sides to a shopping list now. I think that people, regardless of income, have already created that division about consuming products and buying things." …
The information in the WSL Strategic Retail "How America Shops MegaTrends" study was based on 1,950 responses to an Internet survey drawn from a nationally representative sample.
† Multiculturalism: Jihad by other means: FL has joined 24 other states in considering legislation to ban the use of foreign laws in domestic courtrooms (related article, second item on the page). The FL measure passed the House 92-24, and awaits a full vote in the Senate, The Associated Press reports:
"There have been all sorts of wild accusations about what this bill does," said Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, who sponsored the Senate bill in Florida. "This is very clear, very simple: In American courts we need American laws and no other." …
If passed, Florida would join three other states – Louisiana, Arizona and Tennessee – in approving legislation curtailing the use of foreign laws. An Oklahoma ballot measure got 70 percent approval, but it goes a step further in specifically mentioning Sharia, the Islamic system of law. A federal court has blocked the measure's implementation until its constitutionality is determined.
The twin House and Senate bills in Florida make no mention of Shariah law or any other specific foreign system. The language of the legislation, in fact, seems innocuous, outlawing the use of foreign law only when it violates rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, and only in certain domestic situations, such as divorces and child custody cases. It does not apply to businesses and says it shouldn't be construed to prohibit any religious organization from making judgments in "ecclesiastical matters."
† Only the little people pay taxes (related article, fifth item on the page): Some county employees in CA will make more money in retirement than during their careers thanks to “salary spiking,” which allows them to convert 60 categories of payments into retirement cash, including unused sick days and vacation pay, Los Angeles Times reports:
Such "salary spiking" was banned in 1993 by CalPERS, the state's largest public employee retirement system, to help control spiraling costs. But 20 of California's 58 counties – including Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange and San Diego – do not participate in CalPERS and their employees may legally continue to spike their salaries. …
[A]n analysis by The Times of partial data from Ventura and Kern counties – two small windows into the problem – shows that spiking is affecting pension systems already staggered by massive obligations.
In Ventura County, where the pension system is underfunded by $761 million, 84% of the retirees receiving more than $100,000 a year are receiving more than they did on the job. In Kern County, 77% of retirees with pensions greater than $100,000 a year are getting more now than they did before.
Ventura County officials have defended the practice, arguing that some pension boosts were meant to make up for pay freezes during lean years. …
Gov. Jerry Brown now is proposing to stop spiking by basing pensions on a three-year average of final pay to discourage "games and gimmicks … that artificially increase compensation." Brown is also proposing to base pensions on normal salary only, without all the add-ons lumped in.
When the paper asked 18 other counties that allow spiking for pension data, officials claimed it would be too expensive or difficult to provide. Sacramento County wanted to charge a $63,000 fee to find and turn the data over to The Times.
† Romney gets half a loaf in AZ and MI primaries: Former Sen. Rick Santorum (PA) wants the Republican National Committee to investigate the “backroom deal” in which the MI Republican Party transferred one of the delegates he won in last Tuesday’s primary election to Mitt Romney, The New York Times reports:
Mr. Santorum argued that he and Mr. Romney should have received 15 delegates each, according to the rules of the Michigan Republican Party. Instead, the state party decided to award 16 to Mr. Romney and 14 to Mr. Santorum. …
Saul Anuzis, a former state party chairman in Michigan and a member of the state’s Republican Credentials Committee, told The Associated Press that the initial allocation of delegates was based on a memorandum that was in error.
“It is clear now that the memo did not properly communicate the intent of the committee,” Mr. Anuzis said. “Could you interpret it both ways? Yes. But this is what we decided.”
Noting that Anuzis is a Romney supporter, Erick Erickson of RedStateNews asks that “the Michigan GOP issue the original memorandum because this looks more like Romney supporters trying to steal a delegate than standard compliance”:
So while Romney got just shy of 2% more of the vote than Santorum in Michigan, he and Santorum split the statewide delegates and wound up tied 15 to 15 in Michigan.
But the Romney camp cannot have that. This is Romney’s home state. Romney has to win. …
This looks like Romney supporters changing a tie to a win.