Biden Administration

As I was thinking about what to write for today’s post, I came across a post from November 2008 that I wrote about the incoming Obama administration. We are in the first few weeks of the Biden administration which I think has been going very well and is a great change from the previous regime.

The post is one of those that I wrote before I had a wordpress blog; when Network Solution hosted my website. It is interesting that twelve years Obama was facing a huge financial crisis and that today Biden is facing multiple crises including Covid and the economy. Since I can’t link to the original post, I decided to post it today.

November 18, 2008

The New Administration

It is interesting that President-Elect Obama is reading Abraham Lincoln since there are many parallels between Lincoln’s first term and Obama’s. Lincoln was the first Republican president; he faced the mammoth task of financing the Civil War as well as staffing all of the departments and agencies of the government. Many loyal Republicans sought rewards for their support of the party and the President.

Here is an excerpt from Brewing Battles: A History of American Beer  about the issues the new government faced.

From the moment Southern troops fired on Fort Sumter the Federal government required large sums of money to finance the Civil War. A Special Session of the Thirty-Seventh Congress (July­?August 1861) attempted to meet this need by increasing certain customs duties, imposing a direct tax of $20 million on the States, and instituting an income tax.[1]

It soon became clear that these measures alone could not relieve the country’s financial burdens. Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase was hoping to raise $85 million and sent a bill to the Thirty-Seventh Congress. Congress, which reconvened on December 2, 1861, reviewed his request for a small increase in the income tax and excise taxes on manufactured goods. Distilled spirits, malt liquors, cotton, tobacco, carriages, yachts, billiard tables, gross receipts of railroads, steam boats and ferries, and playing cards all became taxable items. Signed by President Lincoln July 1, 1862, the measure became effective the following month.[2] By the 1870s Congress had repealed most of the excise taxes; the liquor tax, however, has remained in effect until today. The Internal Revenue Act of 1862 marked the entrance of the federal government into the affairs of the liquor industry; it has never left.

On July 22, 1862, President Lincoln appointed George Boutwell to be the first Commissioner of Internal Revenue. A two-time Governor of Massachusetts, Boutwell had been a Whig and a moderate anti-slavery man. This work plus political alliances with the Governor of Massachusetts, John A. Andrew, and Senator Charles Sumner led Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase to give Boutwell the job.[3]

Staffing and organizing the Bureau preoccupied Boutwell, who had almost four thousand jobs at his disposal. The size of the Federal Government expanded tremendously during the Civil War; the Treasury Department was no exception. The endless patronage possibilities caused both Boutwell and Secretary Chase to devote the first year of Internal Revenue’s existence to staffing. They paid little attention to other administrative or regulatory concerns. On August 7, 1862 Chase complained that he had “very little accomplished as yet, though much, I hope, in the train of accomplishment. Engaged nearly all day on selections for recommendation of Collectors and Assessors.”[4]

Six months after Boutwell took office, he had the department organized, at least nominally. The majority of employees were in the field. There were 366 collectors and assessors, 898 deputy collectors, and 2,558 assistant assessors. The Washington office consisted of the Commissioner, fifty-one male clerks and eight female clerks. The law authorized the establishment of collection districts which corresponded roughly to congressional districts. There were 185 districts in the loyal states.[5]
[1] U.S. Department, Internal Revenue Service, History of the Internal Revenue Service 1791-1929prepared under the direction of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, (Washington, D.C.: U. S. Government Printing Office, 1930), 2.

[2] Ibid., 3; Charles A. Jellison, Fessenden of Maine: Civil War Senator (Syracuse, N.Y: Syracuse University Press, 1962), 149; Leonard P. Curry, Blueprint for Modern America: Non-Military Legislation of the First Civil War Congress (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 1968), 149?181; Bray Hammond, Sovereignty and an Empty Purse: Banks and Politics in the Civil War (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1970), 52; Charles Estee, The Excise Tax Law (New York: Fitch, Estee, 1863), passim.

[3] Thomas H. Brown, George Sewall Boutwell: Public Servant 1818-1905, (Ph.D. dissertation, New York University, 1979), 53, 56, 59, 110.

[4] Salmon P. Chase, Inside Lincoln’s Cabinet: The Civil War Diaries of Salmon P. Chase, ed. David Donald (New York, 1954), 110-111.

[5] History of Internal Revenue, 4; Schmeckebier and Eble, Bureau of Internal Revenue 8; Estee, Excise Tax Law, 310.

©

Copyright, Algora Publishing, 2007.

A few points about this history: It makes clear the large burden of setting up a new presidential administration especially during a crisis. It is also clear that in times of financial need the federal government often turns to the liquor industry and taxes for help. It is entirely possible that the Obama administration will eventually look at excise taxes for help with financing projects and reducing the deficit. State governments will probably follow suit.

Jay Brooks at Brookston Beer Bulletin has been writing a fair amount about taxes recently and nicely cited Brewing Battles as a sourceOne slight correction however- Jay maintains that the taxes stayed after the Civil War due to pressure from temperance advocates and prohibitionists. It is more accurate that the taxes remained because they developed into a steady, secure source of revenue for the federal government. It was not until a new source, the income tax, developed in the early twentieth century that the federal government could contemplate losing the money from liquor taxes. The prohibition movement had an ambivalent relationship to the federal liquor tax. They often decried the legitimacy the tax provided to the industry.

Of course when the federal government, in the depths of the Great Depression, needed a quick source of revenue, the 18th amendment was repealed. The liquor industry and the liquor tax became legal on December 5, 1933, seventy-five years ago. I will be writing more on the subject of Repeal in the coming days.

Subscription Bomb

 

On Thursday I got an email from Venmo that someone had changed the primary email associated with my account. Before I could focus on what I had to do, my Gmail inbox was suddenly populated with almost four hundred emails. They were mostly emails confirming I had joined or subscribed to something. Of course, I hadn’t.

This was very overwhelming, and I didn’t know what to do first. Venmo wanted me to change my password so I tried that. It didn’t work; I think because it no longer recognized my email address. I sent emails to Venmo support, receiving a response that they would get back to me in twenty-four hours.

I tried to call Venmo, but you can’t reach customer support by phone. I also found out that Venmo will not cancel any payment. You must deal with your financial institution. On Thursday I called my bank to make sure that no payment had gone out to Venmo. On Friday, because I couldn’t reset my password, I went to my bank and put a stop on Venmo.

On Saturday I was finally able to access my Venmo account and I saw that on Thursday there was an unauthorized payment to Buydig.com for over one thousand dollars. I rechecked that the payment hadn’t gone through and then I cancelled my Venmo account. I emailed Venmo informing them of this and asked them to remove the payment. I got no response.

On Monday, the bank called and said that Venmo had tried to put the payment through, but it was blocked. I will never use Venmo again. They were completely useless and have terrible security.

While I was dealing with Venmo, I deleted the four hundred emails. I then found out from a friend that what had happened is called a subscription bombing. The point is to distract you while they try to access your financial information and sites. The article I read said that you could keep getting emails for months or years.

I am still getting about 6-8 emails a day from the subscription bomb. I first tried to put a filter on everything that was in my spam folder. That did nothing. Now for each email, if I can unsubscribe, I do. Then I make an individual filter, directly deleting it. Then I mark it as spam. It is very tedious. If any of you know of any other way for me to deal with this, please let me know.  Happy Thanksgiving.

 

Twitter Success

Last Friday evening, I watched, virtually, a debate between the four candidates for U.S. Senate in Maine. Susan Collins is the incumbent who I have sworn to try to defeat. She pretends to be a moderate, but she is not. Every time Susan Collins could have made a difference she voted with Trump. Brett Kavanaugh, the tax cuts, impeachment; the list goes on and on.

The Democratic candidate is Sara Gideon who is the Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives. There are two independent candidates, Max Linn, and Lisa Savage.

Since April I have been making calls to Maine to help elect a Democrat and defeat Susan Collins. Maine has ranked choice voting, which I don’t totally understand, so people could rank one of the independents first and then Gideon second. I do understand voting your beliefs and I have done that in the past. I feel this election is too important to vote that way. If I lived in Maine, I would rank Sara Gideon first because I would not want to take any chance that Collins could get reelected.

After Friday’s debate, I tweeted the following:

Watching the Maine Senate debate. Max Linn is a trip. Susan Collins needs to go. Vote for Sara Gideon. #takebackthesenate #BlueWave

This is the Tweet Analytics on this tweet:

Impressions, 153,918 (times people saw this Tweet on Twitter)

Total engagements 4,592 (times people interacted with this Tweet)

Likes 1,935 (times people liked this Tweet)

Profile clicks 1,401 (number of clicks on your name, @handle, or profile photo)

Retweets 518 (times people retweeted this Tweet)

Hashtag clicks 425 (clicks on the hashtag(s) in this Tweet)

Detail expands 277 (times people viewed the details about this Tweet)

Replies 36

Because of the tweet I have gained about 11 new followers. I am currently at 149. I would love to get to 150. I have been tweeting since 2007 and none of my tweets have ever had this kind of impact. It was overwhelming and I still can’t believe it. Probably the hashtags generated the wide audience and response because many people across the country are interested in the Maine Senate race.

Methylated Spirits Revisited

On Sunday my site got 155 views. On Monday  121. That is a lot more views than I usually get. Most of them were to read my post on methylated spirits which is almost seven years old. I don’t really get it since when you google “methylated spirits” my post doesn’t come up.

I was going to tweet about this, but since Twitter still won’t let me tweet my URL, I decided to write a short post about it instead. The problem with Twitter is over 2 years old. I don’t think it will ever get fixed.

I am little afraid that the sudden increase in views  was some kind of hack, but everything seems okay. If anyone knows why there would suddenly be so much interest in methylated spirits, please let me know.

Denatured alcohol

My Overdue Quarterly Review

The quarter, if you are counting, ended on March 31 which means I should have posted this review around that date. I had other, more meaningful, at the time, things to write about. Today feels like the right moment for some reflection.

I have been regularly posting.  I have been trying to write a draft of my post on Monday and then revise and publish it on Wednesday. A month ago I wrote the blog on Monday and  I must have inadvertently published it. I didn’t’ realize I had done that so I did my regular social media  notices on Wednesday. It appears my readers look for those notices because 42 people read the blog on Wednesday  but only 14 read it on Monday, the day I actually published it. It appears I have around thirty regular readers which is great. Thank you.

Tweeting has been fine.  As of Monday, I have 3,907. This year I have tweeted 161 times or  about 40 a month. I think I can keep up that pace for the rest of the year. I have 136 followers. My top tweet, in the last 28 days, was a picture of my husband and I out for a walk. I used the hashtag #COVID19 so that means that it  showed up in a lot of peoples feed.

As i mentioned last week, I finally finished the chapter I had been working on for a very long time.  I have been more productive because I am trying to schedule writing, or at least working in some way on the book every day for two hours. In the next three months, I plan to finish the 6th chapter and begin work on the 7th. I’ll let you know how that turns out.

 

New Host – SiteGround

I did it. I switched my hosting company from BlueHost to SiteGround. It took a few days for everything to get into place but now it is done. SiteGround was helpful during the process; BlueHost was less so. As in past experiences, the best way to contact BlueHost and get results was via chat.

My goal in making the switch was for it to be seamless and invisible so no one would even know I had changed hosts.  That worked so I was very happy. As far as logging in to work on posts, I do that through WordPress. The login is the same.

For the first year, I got a special Black Friday rate so it is cheaper than BlueHost would have been. If I stay with SiteGround, next year it will be more expensive. However, I am stopping SiteLock because SiteGround persuaded me that  my site would be secure without it. Because SiteLock  was so expensive, I will be saving a lot by discontinuing it.

My main concern in choosing a new host was security. BlueHost was useless when my website got hacked. Hopefully I won’t get hacked again. If I do, I am hoping SiteGround will be helpful in fixing whatever problems occur.

BlueHost

This week I was going to write about beer, for a change, but, I had another BlueHost issue. I got an email that said the server for my BlueHost email  was being “decommissioned in the next week. In order to ensure full email functionality after this server’s shut-off date, you will need to update the server name in your email client settings.”(their bold). This was pretty anxiety provoking and reading the rest of the email didn’t alleviate my panic.

I looked at my current email settings and I couldn’t really understand what they were talking about so I decided to contact BlueHost for help. When I went to their website, the most immediate form of help was a live chat so I did that. Twenty-nine minutes later, I was still completely perplexed about what I was supposed to do.

I did tried changing the settings to  what the emails suggested but then my email didn’t work so I changed them back. The person chatting with me was no help so I decided to call.  Ray, the tech support person I reached, was helpful. After ascertaining that the email was legitimate, he concluded that I didn’t have to change anything since my email was working.

This is the  fourth time since my website was hacked in February 2018 that I have had a problem with my website and BlueHost.  In October, my website was offline for two days or so because BlueHost had changed servers and SiteLock, my security provider, couldn’t access my site and therefore shut it down. Again chatting was useless but a real person did help me by contacting SiteLock and getting my website restored.

In looking over the various posts I have written about website problems, a common theme is that I would like to make a change but I still have not managed to do that. In June I renewed for six months. The six months have come and gone and I am still with BlueHost.

Since I was hacked, the main issue has been security. I pay SiteLock $70 a month to prevent my site being hacked again. If I switched to WordPress.com, I supposedly wouldn’t need SiteLock anymore which would save a lot of money. The problem is I don’t believe that. Not being sure about the advantages of WordPress has kept me with BlueHost.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

A Look Back

This year I will have 49 posts, counting this one. Last year I had 51 but this year I was hacked which was one of many life events that cut into time for blogging. As I have said frequently this year, it was harder to post once a week.

I am on track to end the year with 3160 tweets. I will have tweeted 538 times this year which is well over once a day. The political situation makes it pretty easy to tweet frequently. I still can’t tweet my URL and I don’t think I will ever be able to again.

In my goals for 2018, I mentioned doing more on Instagram. That hasn’t really happened because many of my posts don’t have pictures. It is not really something I care that much about.

My main goal for the year that is ending was to make progress on my book. I finished the fourth chapter in October and I am about halfway through the fifth. I have almost 200 pages done. I wish I had been able to do more but it is what it is.

My other goals were around improving personal habits such as eating and sleeping. This was also a mixed bag. Last spring, my husband and I did the Slim Fast diet. I lost five pounds but  gained it all back. More recently I have tried to focus on healthy, anti-inflammatory eating and I have again lost some weight.

My sleeping has been hit or miss with at least one day of insomnia a week. I  haven’t figure out how to be a better sleeper yet but I will let you know when I do.

I now skate three days a week and I do feel I am improving. I have also started doing off ice training which is great.

This year was pretty much like other years . There was some really good stuff, like attending skating camp and some really bad stuff like my mother-in-law dying. That’s life.

Taking Stock

I wrote a draft of a post yesterday, but then I forgot to publish it. I was too busy watching skating, going to the movies and then watching a very stupid Hallmark movie that was supposedly based on Pride and Prejudice  (it wasn’t). Anyway here is the post a day late.

This is the 47th week of the year and I have written 43 posts. I am on track to write 49 which is two less than last year but pretty consistent.

I am hoping to use the last six week of the year to get back on track with posting, working on my book and changing my website. This is either an early start to New Year’s resolutions or a late finish to the previous years goals.

Either way I feel like we did a lot of traveling this fall and this is my chance to have a decent stretch of uninterrupted time at home.

Coincidentally, Twitter informed me that today (Friday, Nov. 23rd) is my ninth anniversary. That is surprising to me as it doesn’t fell like it has been that long. It is also ironic since Twitter is happy it is my anniversary but still won’t let me tweet my URL.

Over the nine years, I have averaged 345 tweets a year which is not bad. The last two years, I have stepped it up a lot. My plan is to continue tweeting and blogging for the rest of the year and then decide what my plan for next year is.

Unforeseen Circumstances

I had every intention of writing a blog post this week. Yesterday around 11:30 a.m., I realized the power cord to my laptop was broken and I only had about 25 percent of the battery left.

The tip had broken and part of it was still in the port. It took a while to get it out. I googled replacement cords and found one on Amazon.  Amazon promised next day delivery so I bought it.

I then tried to see if  Asus would send me a new cord since the computer was under warranty. No luck. Cords are not covered under the warranty.

I feel that is a new thing because in the past I have gotten new cords. It is bad that they aren’t part of the warranty because power cords are always the first thing to break on a laptop. The tips are so flimsy and so is the port.

All of this drama with the cord prevented me from writing something. I didn’t get the new cord until around 2 today and I had an appointment for 2:30 . I didn’t get home until about 5:30.

There also won’t be a  post next week  since I will be away. I promise I will have a new post November 23. Happy Thanksgiving!