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4251  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Hillbillary Clintons long, sordid, often criminal history - Huma on: June 17, 2013, 10:59:54 AM
Copying this over to the Clinton thread.  Huma's outside payers are most certainly part of the Clinton circle.
From ccp post, Govt programs:

ccp,  Thanks for finding this.  Huma is pretty close to the center of the political universe.  Huma is/was Hillary's closest confident.  The right wing nuts (anyone to the right of me) were sure she was Hillary's lesbian lover; Huma accompanied Hillary everywhere.  Then she was the 'Muslim' in the inner circle affecting our diplomatic policies.  She has relatives with ties to CAIR etc.(?)  Then she was set up to be Anthony Weiner's wife, a powerful and outspoken congressman - before his bizarre weiner scandal.  They had Muslim-Jewish wedding??  Then she was the wife standing by him, sort of.  Clintons did not endorse Weiner for mayor - yet.   A soft spot for sex scandals?  Huma is still with Hillary? Still with Weiner.  Now this scandal breaks.  Yes, she takes full time pay, sells access or whatever it is she is selling on the side, and we don't get to know who is involved or how this operation works.

I really don't want to spend another decade studying Clinton scandals! 
4252  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, deficit, and budget process on: June 17, 2013, 10:55:13 AM
Muslim women are forbidden from marrying non-muslims, so it's suspected Weiner has said the shahada.

As with Bill-Hillary, it could just be a sham marriage.  Who knows and who has time to care...  Ughh.

But still, if and when Huma becomes first lady, after her husband survives his scandal to become NYC Mayor and then the first Jewish President, and after our Attorney General survives his scandal to become the first African American VP as his just reward for not investigating IRS, Benghazi or anything else, Huma will be one of the most powerful people in the Weiner-Holder administration.
4253  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Huma Abedin: Paid as full time government employee AND side consultant. on: June 17, 2013, 10:45:12 AM
This is legal?
What is this? huh
****Weiner wife Abedin being probed over employment status   ...

ccp,  Thanks for finding this.  Huma is pretty close to the center of the political universe.  Huma is/was Hillary's closest confident.  The right wing nuts (anyone to the right of me) were sure she was Hillary's lesbian lover; Huma accompanied Hillary everywhere.  Then she was the 'Muslim' in the inner circle affecting our diplomatic policies.  She has relatives with ties to CAIR etc.(?)  Then she was set up to be Anthony Weiner's wife, a powerful and outspoken congressman - before his bizarre weiner scandal.  They had Muslim-Jewish wedding??  Then she was the wife standing by him, sort of.  Clintons did not endorse Weiner for mayor - yet.   A soft spot for sex scandals?  Huma is still with Hillary? Still with Weiner.  Now this scandal breaks.  Yes, she takes full time pay, sells access or whatever it is she is selling on the side, and we don't get to know who is involved or how this operation works. 

I really don't want to spend another decade studying Clinton scandals! 
4254  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Books, George Gilder: Knowledge and Power: The Information Theory of Capitalism on: June 17, 2013, 10:14:31 AM

Knowledge and Power: The Information Theory of Capitalism and How It Is Revolutionizing Our World

We’ve tried a government spending spree and learned it doesn’t work. Now is the time to rededicate our country to the pursuit of free market capitalism, before we’re buried under a mound of debt and unfunded entitlements. But how do we navigate between government spending that's too big to sustain and financial institutions that are "too big to fail?" In his new book, George Gilder proposes a bold new theory on how capitalism produces wealth and how our economy can regain its vitality and its growth.

In Knowledge and Power, Gilder reflects on entrepreneurship in its most successful contemporary examples – the tech and digital industries. Having seen firsthand the beneficial effect of a large grouping of individuals left to innovate and grow their businesses unmolested, he argues for the positive results of knowledge left to evolve without the restricting hand of government oversight. The astounding growth of upstart companies both big and small in Silicon Valley was made possible by the freedom they had to wager and risk as they saw fit. Now, in an era where encroaching regulations threaten to stymie further growth, Gilder makes the case why government involvement should be limited.

George F. Gilder is a journalist, New York Times bestselling author, and preeminent economic thinker who is credited with helping to develop the supply-side economic theory. He has served as Chairman of the Lehrman Institute's Economic Roundtable, was Program Director for the Manhattan Institute, and is the Co-Founder of the Discovery Institute. He has written for the Wall Street Journal, National Review, Forbes, and other publications. His previous books include Men and Marriage, Visible Man, and Wealth and Poverty.
4255  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The war on the rule of law on: June 15, 2013, 11:34:53 AM
Before this IRS scandal (though that word certainly does not do justice to
the injustice at work here) gets swept under the rug, this was an
interesting interview in the Journal last weekend.

Yes, it is more than an IRS scandal, more than election interference, and more than an attack on the rule of law.  The tax law itself is what armed the IRS to wage their war - against free speech, against free assembly and against equal protection for targeted groups.
4256  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: CBS confirms Benghazi reporter's computer tampered with on: June 15, 2013, 11:26:27 AM
CBS confirms Benhazi reporter's computer tampered with

No worry when it was Fox.  Now that it is AP and CBS, they have crossed an ethical line, not just the legal one.
4257  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Red line reaction by Baraq on: June 15, 2013, 11:23:52 AM

Whose side should we be on when there is no good side to take?  Neither.  No help, no arms, no troops, no involvement, with the exception of keeping a keen eye on containment. 

More than a million people died in the Iran-Iraq war that Saddam caused.  A massive human tragedy and it didn't even receive a mention in the 23 justifications for removing him from power.

It is dry powder and elevated readiness for the U.S. on this one.  We should be building up our economy for deterrence and to withstand big wars.  We need to re-think and re-build our arsenal to handle desert, jungle, mountain, air, sea and space in the coming turmoil.  We have lessons still to learn from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Gaza, West Bank, Somalia, the pirates on the Horn, China seas, N. K., Kashmir, Boston, al qaida arrests in Minneapolis, expired Visas, our southern border, the Arctic conflict brewing with Russia, among others.

In the case of Syria, we can side with a genocidal dictator or help the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaida expand and legitimize their power. Afterward, they will still be sworn to destroy us.
4258  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 'Why Didn't NSA Catch The Tsarnaev Brothers?' on: June 14, 2013, 12:54:57 PM
"Why Didn't NSA Catch The Tsarnaev Brothers?"

I am working on an answer to IBD's question.  11% of adults admit to sexting, while our government is giving 29 year old single males who live in their mother's basements access to all our 'data'.  These un-screened, unsupervised, surveillance 'professionals' (making a quarter million a year) are finding material more interesting than Islamist extremists visiting training camps, meeting in Mosques with known terrorists and studying the art of kitchen bomb building.
4259  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / National Debt Could Skyrocket As Interest Rates Rise, Wesbury shocked on: June 14, 2013, 10:35:14 AM
Interest costs up 32% in one month.  Much more to come.  We all know that.  If we are comparing to Paul Volcker's time, there is a potential for interest rates to go up 10 points (or more) with interest on the debt consuming more over half of all revenues.  I would call that a 'workhorse economy'.  Did ANYONE see this coming?
National Debt Could Skyrocket As Interest Rates Rise

Paying off the national debt just got a bit more dangerous, and potentially a lot more expensive.

The interest rates on federal debt began climbing last month, jumping from 1.66 percent on a 10-year U.S. Treasury note at the start of May to a stunning 2.2 percent on Tuesday.

That 54-basis point increase looks small to the casual eye. But if it continues, the higher yield could increase by billions of dollars how much money the federal government spends to service the $16.7 trillion national debt.
4260  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama Tells Keystone Foes He Will Unveil Climate Measures on: June 14, 2013, 10:19:57 AM
As the scientific ties between CO2 and warming get weaker and weaker, our glib President tells his closed door, fund raising audiences he is getting ready to double down:

Obama Tells Keystone Foes He Will Unveil Climate Measures

The actions will focus on governing from the executive branch alone, without a check or balance with the legislative branch.

And this guy used to teach constitutional law...
4261  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Corruption: FBI Director Doesn't Know Who's Leading Investigation in IRS Case on: June 14, 2013, 10:12:44 AM
FBI Director Testifies He Doesn't Know Who's Leading Investigation in IRS Case

Good luck America.
4262  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / RALPH NADER: Has there been a bigger con man in the White House on: June 14, 2013, 10:07:48 AM
RALPH NADER: Yeah, has there—has there been a bigger con man in the White House than Barack Obama?

Ralph, I feel your pain.
4263  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Obama's Snooping Excludes Mosques, Missed Boston Bombers on: June 14, 2013, 10:01:24 AM

If we are going after all data of all people, 'Why Didn't NSA Catch The Tsarnaev Brothers?'

My theory on supporting the Patriot Act was that if my number turned up in a terrorist's call history, for any reason - even by misdial, then I should expect that in these times of fighting to prevent more terrorist attacks I will be looked at until cleared.

These guys traveled to training camps and made multiple web visits to bomb making websites.

Instead we used our scarce resources to scrutinize west suburban tea party members for anti-socialism rhetoric.

So Why Didn't NSA Catch The Tsarnaev Brothers?

One person whose privacy was not invaded by U.S. intelligence was Tamerlan Tsarnaev, as he repeatedly visited the al-Qaida online magazine Inspire for its recipe "Build a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom."

The NSA's blanket surveillance did not detect Tsarnaev's interest in building the pressure cooker bombs he would use to devastating effect at the Boston Marathon. The massive databases that we are building a massive facility in Utah to store also failed to uncover the online communications that Tsarnaev had with a known Muslim extremist in Dagestan.
4264  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: June 13, 2013, 03:47:42 PM
CCP, good stuff. 

The status quo combines complex laws with almost no enforcement.  That and negotiating with weasels makes finding a solution next to impossible.

"we can put this bill on a single page or two and burn in effigy the present 1000 page boondoggle of a bill with all sorts or payoffs hidden in it"

When it started looking like Obamacare, I knew they had it wrong.  All those pages and it doesn't include guaranteed border security?  Back to the drawing board.  Don't pretend you will negotiate better later after giving up all leverage.

"Doug do you let anyone rent from you without their name, maybe previous address, or their employer?"

If 50% don't work, isn't asking where you work discriminatory?  wink  By law, unlike the government, I have to treat everyone equally so I try to get a consistent and thorough amount of information from each person.  We ask for a 5 year history of where they have lived and worked, or other information to back up who they are and verify income.  I look to see if the landlord reference actually owns the property.  (Unlike state voting law that requires nothing.)  The worst people come in without putting their names on the application or lease. Then, laws that make eviction nearly impossible make enforcement of the lease nearly impossible too.  In the case of non-citizens, will the same government who approves and pays non-citizens public assistance back me up when I deny them housing?  I don't think so.  Non-citizens easily get drivers licenses in MN, by either disclosing their status or by simply checking the citizen box and getting it on their license.

"The 40 million is a number from surveys done of Mexicans who would like to come to the US."

40 million is also within the range of what some predict is the total that would get in under reform, mostly by way of the friends and family plan.  Reform must include a closing of that opening, starting perhaps with an amendment to clarify  that no rights are created just by giving birth while visiting.  If most of your family is in, uh, Canada, let's say, and uniting your family is the top priority, then go home and be with your family.  If you left your family by choice then so be it.  We didn't split your family and we don't owe you more tickets.
4265  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues: Dr. Sowell, Economics vs. 'Need' on: June 13, 2013, 07:53:27 AM
Thomas Sowell addresses a question brought up here regarding hiring and immigration.  My view, mentioned often, is that our worker 'shortage' is completely intertwined with the reality that we pay more than 100 million not to work.

Regarding getting tough on employers, simply require employers to inform the government who they are hiring along with copies of whatever documents one is required to present.  Law enforcement is government's job.  With notification of hiring, they will know where to find them.  A similar question comes to landlords.  Am I supposed to rent to illegals or discriminate against them and risk a far greater penalty from government?  What I know is that I am not qualified to discern the difference between legal and false documents and should not and cannot ask Hispanics for documents that I don't require of Scandinavian-Americans.
Economics vs. 'Need'

By Thomas Sowell - June 11, 2013

One of the most common arguments for allowing more immigration is that there is a "need" for foreign workers to do "jobs that Americans won't do," especially in agriculture.

One of my most vivid memories of the late Armen Alchian, an internationally renowned economist at UCLA, involved a lunch at which one of the younger members of the economics department got up to go get some more coffee. Being a considerate sort, the young man asked, "Does anyone else need more coffee?"

"Need?" Alchian said loudly, in a cutting tone that clearly conveyed his dismay and disgust at hearing an economist using such a word.

A recent editorial on immigration in the Wall Street Journal brought back the memory of Alchian's response, when I read the editorial's statement about "the needs of an industry in which labor shortages can run as high as 20 percent" -- namely agriculture.

Although "need" is a word often used in politics and in the media, from an economic standpoint there is no such thing as an objective and quantifiable "need."

You might think that we all obviously need food to live. But however urgent it may be to have some food, nevertheless beyond some point food becomes not only unnecessary but even counterproductive and dangerous. Widespread obesity among Americans shows that many have already gone too far with food.

This is not just a matter of semantics, but of economics. In the real world, employers compete for workers, just as they compete for customers for their output. And workers go where there is more demand for them, as expressed by what employers offer to pay.

Farmers may wish for more farm workers, just as any of us may wish for anything we would like to have. But that is wholly different from thinking that some third party should define what we desire as a "need," much less expect government policy to meet that "need."

In a market economy, when farmers are seeking more farm workers, the most obvious way to get them is to raise the wage rate until they attract enough people away from alternative occupations -- or from unemployment.

With the higher labor costs that this would entail, the number of workers that farmers "need" would undoubtedly be less than what it would have been if there were more workers available at lower wage rates, such as immigrants from Mexico.

It is no doubt more convenient and profitable to the farmers to import workers at lower pay than to pay American workers more. But bringing in more immigrants is not without costs to other Americans, including both financial costs in a welfare state and social costs, of which increased crime rates are just one.

Some advocates of increased immigration have raised the specter of higher food prices without foreign farm workers. But the price that farmers receive for their produce is usually a fraction of what the consumers pay at the supermarket. And what the farmers pay the farm workers is a fraction of what the farmer gets for the produce.

In other words, even if labor costs doubled, the rise in prices at the supermarket might be barely noticeable.

What are called "jobs that Americans will not do" are in fact jobs at which not enough Americans will work at the current wage rate that some employers are offering. This is not an uncommon situation. That is why labor "shortages" lead to higher wage rates. A "shortage" is no more quantifiable than a "need," when you ignore prices, which are crucial in a market economy. To discuss "need" and "shortage" while ignoring prices -- in this case, wages -- is especially remarkable in a usually market-savvy publication like the Wall Street Journal.

Often shortages have been predicted in various occupations -- and yet never materialized. Why? Because the pay in those occupations rose, causing more people to go into those occupations and causing employers to reduce how many people they "need" at the higher pay rates.

Virtually every kind of "work that Americans will not do" is in fact work that Americans have done for generations. In many cases, most of the people doing that work today are Americans. And there are certainly many unemployed Americans available today, without bringing in more foreign workers to meet farmers' "needs."

4266  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: June 13, 2013, 07:24:45 AM
Coulter makes good points, especially the one CCP points out, that amnesty last time did not increase vote share for Republicans and does not work for McCain. Other factors abound, but a very strong point.  That said, the choice isn't court Hispanic versus court blacks who went 98% for Obama.  It is more like, IMHO, do what is right and start messaging better to all of them.

Coulter and others, Mirengoff at Powerline who has become obsessed with ripping Marco Rubio, are great dividers.  Yet the work of writing a good bill where the gang of 8 failed still remains.  The House needs to write a good bill and let the Obama and Harry Reid be the obstructors.  Take some of what gang of 8 came up with like a 14 year delay with no federal benefits and then cut out the BS and add border security, real border security.  Answer the family ties question too, where the numbers seem to jump from 11 to 40 million.  If half the 11 million take the pathway, work and don't take federal benefits (or state), we are in good shape as a country.  If a third world country floods us, we are not.

Let a good bill from the House live or die on the obstruction or cooperation of Democrats, then move on with Hispanics and talk about empowering an entrepreneur economy and educate people on how economic freedom is world's only successful welfare system.

A successful Republican Presidential candidate in 2016 needs to gain ground in ALL these groups and will need to point how he was both fair and tough on immigration to both sides of the debate.  To the extent that Rubio is wrong on details, I am not seeing the critics step forward with better plans, just do more of the same and expect a better result.
An earlier point was stop the hiring and they will stop coming.  My clarification would be to stop the compensation for not working and they will stop coming for the wrong reasons. 
4267  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Benghazi precedent? Benghazi arrests on: June 11, 2013, 12:28:13 PM
As the administration strives to accelerate scandal-fatigue, (thousands of) questions remain.

The first one here was posed by Allen West: When in our history did we ever leave Americans behind to die?

The second wave attacks and the last two to die were the guys who disobeyed the "stand down" order.  Will Carney, Obama, Hillary or any General on duty at the time step up to the plate and admit that they think these two deserved to die or at least deserved no support?

Did lying about what happened to the American people put egg on the face of the Libyan leaders and impede the slow-to-start investigation?

Where are the arrests?

Benghazi killers still on the lam after 9 months, may have sought to ‘smoke out’ CIA
4268  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential on: June 11, 2013, 11:36:49 AM
I have said from the beginning, Hillary will lose to Hickenlooper.   Jobs   Fracking

A good friend of mine says the R ticket will most certainly be Jeb Bush and Chris Christy.

I will save people the trouble of typing:

4269  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: June 11, 2013, 11:22:09 AM
$100,000 is not very much money in politics or national advertising.  The Obama campaign just spent something approaching a billion on reelection. That is not a very impressive endorsement list IMHO.  Someone has been running radio ads promoting a conservative pro-immigration agenda on conservative radio, Americans for a Conservative Direction.  Wouldn't you know they are actually liberals who are paying for the message to divide conservatives:  Maybe I will start the group, Liberals calling on Obama and Biden to step down and go away or Liberals for a low, across the board, flat tax.

The current Senate Republican reform strategy of Rubio and others is to vote for the bad bill, shift the focus to a Republican bill in the House and hope to fix it in conference.  I think the House will pass a pretty good bill.  Can anyone imagine Schumer, Durbin and Harry Reid caving in conference?  The issue ends somewhere near it started with nothing passed and both sides saying the other is blocking the road to reform.  The point from the beginning was simply that is a slightly better visual for the election than refusing to deal with it at all.

In the 2014 elections, not in Washington but in places like Montana where the Max Baucus open seat will be contested, we will find out what the people think.
4270  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / America's Inner City: Richmond VA, 86% of black households are single-parent on: June 10, 2013, 11:02:35 AM
This is cultural, not racial.  The trend extends across all races.

"60 percent of all families in the city of Richmond are single-parent households. Within the African-American demographic, that number spikes up to 86 percent"
4271  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / American History - Movie: Lincoln, Spielberg, 2012 on: June 10, 2013, 10:50:47 AM
I am not a movie buff and I am almost a year late on this; I just saw it yesterday.  Good movie.  Portrays Lincoln as sharp and persuasive, but makes the implication he has the ethical principles of an ordinary, scoundrel politician.  The movie picked a very narrow timeframe and focused only on one issue, House passage of the 13th amendment to abolish slavery.  I am surprised Hollywood showed so many people that it was Republicans who were hellbent on ending slavery.  Do any black voters today know that?  Lousy ending. (Assassination)

My parting thought from the movie "Lincoln" is that some up and coming, conservative filmmaker (oxymoron?) had better step up with great acting, writing, cinematography and financing and do the definitive "Reagan" movie before someone like Spielberg gets to it.
4272  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: June 10, 2013, 10:23:11 AM
"Reducing a 26 volume tax code to a single page will mostly dis-empower the IRS, no matter what rates we choose"
Also will dis-empower some of the political corruption in DC.
Of course we would still have state taxes, county taxes, and so forth....

That's right.  Eliminating preferences and pursuing 'equal protection' brings all special interests down to just free speech power like everyone else.  There is no point in a zero federal income tax because a) it will never happen (again), and b) the states and everyone else will just tax the hell out of your income anyway.  The real gain from a fair tax, national sales etc would have been to not have to calculate your income.  In all but a few states, you have to do that anyway.

The focus of the new federal tax system must be to tax all income, but do it wider, lower, flatter, and simpler.  The reason to do it is to re-empower the American private sector to grow wealth for all who join in.
4273  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / (VDH) Unvetted Rezko land recipient asks, 'who changed the rules?' on: June 10, 2013, 10:07:03 AM
Historian Victor Davis Hanson puts context on the current mess. Obama is just being Obama, 'who changed the rules?'  June 9, 2013

Suddenly, half the country is upset with Obama for the recent flurry of scandals. Even some in the media are perplexed. Why the sudden angst, given that Obama is simply being Obama? We, not he, changed the rules.

Once Barack Obama was elected to the Illinois legislature, his career as a statesman was mostly an afterthought — either voting “present” on controversial legislation (cf. Hillary’s 2008 complaint) or simply showing up to sign off on a straight left-wing agenda. Even his supporters can cite no lasting legislative achievement other than his controversial votes to allow babies born alive from botched abortions to be liquidated. As a political unknown, he got elected and defined his tenure as a legislator into a perpetual effort to find higher office.

Ditto the U.S. Senate.  Obama was noted in his brief career mostly for compiling the most partisan record among a diverse group of 100 senators, while making the argument that he worked “across the aisle” and was a model of “bipartisanship.” Because newly elected Senator Obama swore that he would not run for the presidency, we inferred that he would certainly do just that. (Yes, it is axiomatic that when Obama swears ["make no mistake about it"/"let me be perfectly clear"], then we expect what will follow will prove to be the very opposite.)

In the Senate, there was no signature legislation, no principled opposition, not much of anything, except a vote against Justice Alito and some similarly failed efforts at other filibusters to deny nominees an up-or-down vote.  He spent most of his brief sojourn attacking George W. Bush for the very protocols that he as president would later embrace. The only thing important was getting elected in the first place as a left-wing senator, and Obama accomplished that in brilliant, if not Machiavellian, fashion — with the help of the leaked divorced records of both his primary and general opponents.

The Man Who Never Was

The saga of Obama is marked by the uncanny ability to soar through the academic and government cursus honorum without ever being held too accountable for what followed. Obama’s selection as editor of the Harvard Law Review broke new ground. But to this day, no one cares much that his record was mediocre with no scholarly work to show for his tenure.

For that matter, ditto also his law career at the University of Chicago: an impressive appointment, but no scholarly book as promised, not even an article, and no distinguished record of teaching. Not much of anything. The point of the Nobel Prize was winning it — not doing anything that might have earned it. Just as there was no foreign policy achievement that preceded the prize, so there was naturally none following it. Why expect anything different now?

The Mind of the Liberal Elite

Obama always has a unique insight into a disturbing pathology among wealthy white liberal elites, who often seek, in condescending fashion, to promote particular aspiring minority candidates into positions of power and influence by virtue of their profile rather than past record. Hence the prep-schooled Barry Dunham returned to the more exotic Barack Obama, an authentic enough “other” fresh out of Rev. Wright’s Church, but also the pet of the Ivy League. Had he been born in Chicago to a Daily ward boss, it would have been a bit much to win statewide office. Had Obama been named Reggie Davis I don’t think the liberal resonance would have been there. Had he intoned like Jesse Jackson — all the time — he would have worried big-money liberals. Had his mannerisms been Al Sharpton-like, that would have been a bridge too far. There is something in the liberal mind that ignores the anti-constitutional transgressions of a smooth Eric Holder, but goes berserk over the comparatively minor obfuscations of a twangy Texan Alberto Gonzalez, perhaps along the lines of “how dare he?”  Politics aside, liberal elites would always prefer to hear a Barack Obama fudge than a Clarence Thomas tell the truth.

Obama brilliantly threaded the multicultural, Ivy-League, prep-school, affirmative action, just like us-sorta, yuppie needle. I’ll let you decide whether wealthy liberals practice such racialist paternalism because of feelings of guilt, because of their intrinsic dislike of the NASCAR/Sarah Palin working and middle classes, or as a sort of medieval exemption — the huge “Obama for President” sign on the lawn of the Palo Alto professor means never having to put your kids in schools where some are bused in from East Palo Alto. But what is absolutely non-controversial is that Obama’s prior record as a university undergraduate, a Harvard Law Review editor, a Chicago law lecturer, an Illinois legislator, and a U.S. senator was as undistinguished as his efforts to obtain those posts were absolutely dazzling.

The presidency followed the same earlier script. Obama ran a brilliant campaign both in 2008 and 2012, more inspired even than Richard Nixon’s 1972 CREEP run, or Ronald Reagan’s “Morning in America” 1984 touchy-feely pastel effort. In 2008, Obama offered cadences of something known as “hope and change” that were supposed to cure the evils of George Bush — and left everything else to the media. The second time around, he turned a decent Mitt Romney into a veritable greedy ogre from the Utah nuthouse, who did everything from ignoring his African-American garbage man to torturing his poor dog to buying pricey horses for his wife who was found guilty of being an equestrian.

But Obama’s record as president? There is pretty much nothing other than ramming through an unpopular takeover of health care, leveraged by political bribes and deemed unworkable even before it is enacted. A “train wreck” is how its author in the Senate dubbed his own legislative offspring.  Otherwise it was golf, down time, and free rein for zealous subordinates to “fundamentally transform America” by any means necessary, usually through administrative fiat and subversions of the vast and always growing bureaucracy.

Obama is now somewhat shocked that a few in the media hold him responsible for lots of bad things that his administration did: destroyed the reputation of the IRS; had a rogue EPA director invent a phony persona; let the HHS secretary shake down PR money from corporations to sell Obamacare; turned the Justice Department into a veritable Stasi enterprise going after the phone records of reporters; reduced the State Department into an arm of the 2012 Obama reelection effort; and helped erode the reputations of both Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice, who advanced campaign narratives about Benghazi that were not just untrue, but were demonstrably false the moment they were presented.

So What?

So where’s the beef? Obama, who was given a pass from Rev. Wright to Tony Rezko, is justifiably confused: who now changed the rules? Why should he suddenly be held accountable in a way he never was prior? He signed up to be a transformational president who was above politics, not someone subject to the vagaries of Washington scandals.

The result of the serial dishonesty is that Obama almost immediately reverted to his natural campaign mode, the soaring rhetoric and non-traditional persona that won him everything on the guarantee that there would be no audit, no assessment, no final appraisal. In other words, Obama never really became president of the United States. He simply kept running for the office against “them” even when he is now “them” holding the highest office. So Pavlovian was his campaign mode that he never quite stopped to wonder why he was running against himself — now damning the very abuses of power that he committed, upset only that someone might be disturbed about a record in a manner that they never were at Harvard, in the Senate, or during his first term.

Quo Vadimus?

Where do the scandals lead? To about three more months of Washington inaction. At some point soon, the Democrats will accept that the novelty of Obama in opposition to the First, Second, and Fourth Amendments has worn off. Who cares to hound out our first black president, our first northern liberal commander in chief in a half-century? Likewise the media will strut a bit to show it is not entirely reptilian, but then will revert to the usual hagiography. Why endanger Obamacare, or “lead from behind,” or the apology tours, or the new 50 million on food stamps by cannibalizing your own?

There are lots of metaphors for Obama. Some cite King Henry II, who dreams out loud for advantageous things to follow, only to shed alligator tears when toadies reify his deadly desires (Becket dead? That was a bit much, wasn’t it?). Others cite the clueless Jimmy Carter, whose agendas proved unworkable and ended up as caricatures of a presidency. I still prefer Chauncey Gardiner of Being There. In January 2012, I wrote the following on these pages:

    What got Obama to the presidency was being a man without a past or present, Chauncey Gardiner of Being There — without a college record, a medical record, a scholarly record, or much of a legislative record, the “smartest” president in history without having to say or do anything smart, who “busted hump” his entire life without any proof that he ever did any such thing, who proclaimed himself a greater president than all but three, but left nothing great in his wake, now or in the past. Obama had forgotten that winning non-persona for a time, and so after 2009 fooled himself into thinking out loud that at times he would play a real Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, Kennedy, or Reagan.

    But now Obama accepts what he was and always will be — Chauncey Gardiner.

    And just being there is apparently the way to being president a bit longer.

Nothing has changed in the last 18 months, and the Obama presidency remains what it has been since 2009:  a path-breaking candidate who was elected America’s first African-American president; a gifted teleprompted speaker who is as accomplished from a script as he flounders ex tempore; and an opportunist haunted by George Bush and the post-2010 Republican House that are supposed to be responsible for most of what he gets caught for.

Otherwise there is not a lot there—mostly a carnival of McCarthyite (AttackWatch, JournoList, IRS) henchmen and left-wing extremists trying to push through an agenda by any means necessary that the majority of America probably does not welcome.

Obama is perturbed that we question any of this malfeasance. I think he is right to be angry. In his case, we made up the Obama rules that symbolism (not performance) and amnesty (not accountability) count. So why break our covenant with him, and now start asking for concrete and honest accomplishment when the teleprompter was always enough? In 2008, did we ask for the specifics of “the audacity of hope,” or ponder how someone who did not miss a service at Trinity Church (“Yep. Every week. 11 o’clock service”) somehow missed Rev. Wright’s serial racist, anti-Semitic, and anti-American rants? That we now want to know the president’s role in Benghazi, or in the IRS, AP, and Fox scandals is something that was just not part of the smartest-president-in-history bargain—as if once upon a time America ever demanded, “What the hell is your hope and change?”

So as they say here in Selma, “Get over it”.
4274  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Tea Party joins with ACLU to weaken terrorism defense on: June 10, 2013, 09:49:08 AM
The merits of these policies can be debated on privacy and security threads, but the political reality is a big split within the conservative movement.  It also divides the left as these are now Obama policies exposed by the NSA leak, opposed by the ACLU and civil libertarians.

What a fatal, terrorist empowering shame it is that with the IRS abuse and other scandals that we don't trust our national security apparatus to sniff out and hunt down terrorists.

The WSJ quite descriptively calls it "A Tea Party Blindspot"

"... both the Constitution and laws of war make no distinction between an American and foreign terrorist. Anyone who takes up arms as a declared enemy of the United States, fails to wear a uniform and targets civilians is an illegal enemy combatant, regardless of passport. The Supreme Court affirmed this principle in 1942 in a case involving Nazi saboteurs, including a U.S. citizen, who were caught on the U.S. East Coast and tried and executed by a military court.

Where a terrorist is captured is also immaterial. By offering special protections to those already on U.S. soil, Mr. Goodlatte and his ACLU allies would provide al Qaeda and other terror networks with a perverse incentive to recruit in America. Contrary to Kentucky Senator Rand Paul's assertions, terrorists certainly consider the U.S. to be part of the global terror battlefield. Ask any New Yorker."
"In practice the President has detained an American on U.S. soil as an enemy combatant only twice in 12 years."
"when the U.S. treated al Qaeda as a law enforcement problem and made itself more vulnerable to attack. The tea party-ACLU condominium is threatening to blur the laws of war with the rules of civilian justice in a way that could jeopardize U.S. security. Let's hope they fail."

Full coverage:
4275  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Supply Side economist Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones on Tax Policy on: June 10, 2013, 09:18:57 AM
The Stones are famously tax-averse... "The whole business thing is predicated a lot on the tax laws," says Keith Richards, Marlboro in one hand, vodka and juice in the other. "It's why we rehearse in Canada and not in the U.S. A lot of our astute moves have been basically keeping up with tax laws, where to go, where not to put it. Whether to sit on it or not. We left England because we'd be paying 98 cents on the dollar. We left, and they lost out. No taxes at all."

Fortune Magazine, Sept. 30, 2002,  WSJ 06/10/2013
4276  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Media, Jay Leno, Obama, IRS, NSA on: June 09, 2013, 10:46:38 PM
I'm not a fan of any of the late night talk hosts, and Jay Leno is a Dem, but a comedian first.  At the start of Obama, the comedians wouldn't touch him. Now circumstances have reversed themselves, at least with this Leno clip:

    Well, let’s see what’s going on. Hey, Snoop is back in the news. Not Snoop Dogg, Snoop Obama. Yeah, Snoop Obama. A big change at the White House today. They closed the gift shop and opened a Verizon store. Yeah.

    Well, this has become a huge controversy after it was revealed that the National Security Agency seized millions of Verizon phone records, and of course this has caused a panic among civil libertarians, constitutional scholars and cheating husbands everywhere. Oh my God.

    How ironic is that? We wanted a president that listens to all Americans – now we have one. Yeah.

    Actually, President Obama clarified the situation today. He said no one is listening to your phone calls. The president said it’s not what the program is all about. You know, like the IRS isn’t about targeting certain political groups. That’s not what it’s about!

    I mean what’s going on? The White House has looked into our phone records, checking our computers, monitoring our e-mails. When did the government suddenly become our psycho ex-girlfriend? When did that happen? When did that happen? When did that happen?

    You know, I’ll tell you, if Obama wants to put this snooping thing to good use, how about spying on the IRS next time they throw a $4 million party. Why don’t you do that one? Yes, exactly, exactly. Find out about that. Yeah.

    As you know by now, the IRS has taken some heat for reportedly spending $4 million on a conference in Anaheim last year where employees took dancing lessons. One of the dances they learned? Tap dancing around the issues. Yes, that was very good, be able to tap dance

    Well, the latest one that came out today. You see this one? They’re saying the IRS paid an artist $17,000 to paint portraits of Abraham Lincoln to help inspire the IRS agents. You know, if they want to see a picture of Lincoln for inspiration, take out a $5 bill and save the taxpayers $16,995. Exactly. That’s what they said. They said.

    Oh, the hearings have been unbelievable this week. Congressional investigators say the IRS basically threw a $4 million party for themselves. But in fairness, who else is going to throw a party for the IRS? Really? Now, a going away party, I think we’d all chip in. I would chip in! I would chip in! There you are, no problem. I would pay for that.
4277  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Explaining Hitler on: June 08, 2013, 02:23:40 PM
... I think this is where I first read that there is absolutely nothing in writing that directly links Hitler to Holocaust...

Yes, no direct link except that he was in charge and that was what was happening.  Nazi analogies to anything short of genocide are never good, but...   in the case of the IRS scandal, Benghazi, and others, our President was in charge when things for which he is responsible happened.  We keep looking for a smoking gun that likely doesn't exist instead of just holding the responsible people accountable.
4278  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: non-citizens voting on: June 08, 2013, 02:15:28 PM
I tried to look up if non citizens can vote or not.  No succinct answer.  I get this endless diatribe.   So when Brock the Terrible gestures that illegals would have to get in the back of the line for citizenship (and learn English) that does not mean they wouldn't be able to vote for his party effective immediately.   Brock the scheister doesn't tell us that.

Good question.  What I take from this piece is that those non-citizens are voting illegally - because they are here, already illegal, and because they can.  One could quite easily make the argument that under 'reform', those who were formerly illegal and choose the contract for the 'pathway' would be less likely to risk committing vote fraud while working and paying their way to citizenship. 

Their inability to vote for 14 year(?) is one reason Obama wanted his own plan, not this one, IMO.
4279  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: June 08, 2013, 11:23:21 AM
Doug,  Do you think Rove Bushes and the rest of the Rep elite party are hip to this?   It is a tall task in a country with half who don't pay taxes but this might have the momentum if played right.   But the "leaders" on the right are not as clever and directed as the politburo.  

A true flat tax is not going to fly, but a 2 or 3 tiered tax system with only 2 or 3 deductions allowed would accomplish the nearly the same thing.  Ted Cruz and others are working on this idea.  

Reducing a 26 volume tax code to a single page will mostly dis-empower the IRS, no matter what rates we choose.

Since the peak of the last economic expansion, liberals have been winning the 'fairness' argument by bringing everyone down. Tomorrow's leaders will need to move the polls toward the policies of economic growth, not follow the current polls.

Rove is not against reform, he is against the nomination of inexperienced, unvetted candidates who run for high offices and blow crucial races.  The tea party and Rove types focused on winning elections can learn from each other and work together.  Republican should have tied or taken the Senate last time around.  All the Republican presidential candidates had big tax reform ideas in their platforms, written by the advisers from among the party elites.  We need better candidates with better messaging to win more votes.  The success of people like Cruz, Rubio and Rand Paul and others needs to spread to more like-minded candidates winning more races.

Rubio won by a swing state by a million votes and Rove was one of his earliest backers - and he was running against a moderate, sitting governor in his own party.  But Rubio came to the Senate race from his position as Florida Speaker of the House, not as an unvetted newcomer or outsider.
4280  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy - Flatten the IRS on: June 08, 2013, 12:00:03 AM
4281  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glibness' new appointments, Susan Rice, Samatha Power on: June 07, 2013, 12:23:15 PM
The LA Times calls them the "liberal hawks":,0,4704730.story

There is too much material from these two to even know where to start.  A contributor at Politico today says Susan Rice is a great choice because of character, strong ethical standards and a clear lens of strategic analysis.  Same Susan Rice who analyzed Benghazi and told it straight to the nation.  Rice has a history of other problems well documented in the forum.

Samantha Power, architect of the world apology tour, is quite a bit scarier.  Before getting to her statements, take a look at the fascist-left views of Cass Sunstein, her husband, writing about one of his favorite subjects, justifying coercive paternalism, which means opposing individual liberty, which I wrote about here:  and was picked up by the WSJ here:

Washington Free Beacon: Samantha Power’s Five Worst Statements

Samantha Power will take over at as ambassador to the United Nations following Susan Rice’s promotion to national security adviser. Here are Power’s five most embarrassing comments.

1. Power called for global apology tour

Power wrote that U.S. foreign policy “needs not tweaking but overhauling,” in a 2003 New Republic article.  Power recommended that United States officials should apologize to the world for its past failures in order to enhance credibility with foreign countries.

“A country has to look back before it can move forward,” Power wrote. “Instituting a doctrine of the mea culpa would enhance our credibility by showing that American decision-makers do not endorse the sins of their predecessors.”

She reasoned that terrorists depend for their sustenance on “mainstream anti-Americanism throughout the world,” and that anti-Americanism is the fault of the United States.

“Some anti-Americanism derives simply from our being a colossus that bestrides the earth,” argued Power. “But much anti-Americanism derives from the role U.S. political, economic, and military power has played in denying such freedoms to others.”

2. Power recommended the United States intervene with a “Mammoth Protection Force” in Israel, then called the idea “weird”

Power made several recommendations on what the United States should do to alleviate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which she compared to the Rwandan genocide, in a 2002 discussion at Berkeley.

Though she stopped just short of calling it genocide, she did say that she saw “major human rights abuses” in Israel.  Power advised that the United States should stop spending money on the Israeli military, and instead invest billions in a new Palestinian state.

“It may mean sacrificing—or investing I think more than sacrificing—literally billions of dollars, not in servicing Israel’s military, but actually investing in the new state of Palestine,” Power explained.

She continued by recommending that the United States invest billions to send “a mammoth protection force” in order to create a “meaningful military presence” in Israel.

One of the few concerns for Power was that such action would alienate the pro-Israel lobby in the United States.  “Putting something on the line might mean alienating a domestic constituency of tremendous political and financial import,” Power said.

3. Power praised Obama’s willingness to meet with enemies without preconditions

Power offered praise for President Barack Obama’s statement that he was willing to meet with rogue leaders without preconditions in the first year of his administration.  According to the Huffington Post, Power saw this statement by Obama as a turning point for his campaign and talked positively of his staunch insistence on the point.

“I can tell you about the conference call the day [after Obama made the proclamation],” she recalled. “People were like, ‘Did you need to say that?’ And he was like ‘yeah, definitely.’”

4. Power lost her job with Obama for calling Hillary Clinton a “monster”

Power was forced to resign from Obama’s presidential campaign for calling Hillary Clinton a “monster” in 2008.  The comments came during an interview with a Scottish newspaper.

“She is a monster, too — that is off the record — she is stooping to anything,” Power said.

She went into depth on what she believed were deceitful tactics by the Clinton campaign.  “You just look at her and think, ‘Ergh.’ But if you are poor and she is telling you some story about how Obama is going to take your job away, maybe it will be more effective. The amount of deceit she has put forward is really unattractive.”

 5. Power on John Kerry: “He must have thought that having got shrapnel in his ass out there bought him some credibility. It didn’t.”

Power had strong words for Secretary of State John Kerry following his failed 2004 campaign for president.  Power thinks that it was a mistake for Kerry to assume his military record alone would be enough to deflect attacks on the merits of his service in Vietnam.

“The lesson we got was that the only thing worse than John Kerry being Swiftboated was his being slow to respond,” Power told the New Statesman. “God love him, he must have thought that having got shrapnel in his ass out there bought him some credibility. It didn’t.”
Same paper, Susan Rice's 5 worst moments:
4282  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Giving, charity, tithing: America's Worst Charities on: June 07, 2013, 10:05:27 AM
This list with accompanying stories is sickening.  I hate seeing how little money goes to real help and real solutions.  My main complaint isn't with the 50 worst; it is with the prominent ones who pay their executives millions and and spend huge proportions of their money on overhead, compensation and more fund raising. You are paying the people who called you to ask you to give.  Might as well buy magazine subscriptions - at least you will get a magazine.  I challenge people to bring forward the charities that put close to 100% of their money into the stated cause.
The 50 worst, ranked by money blown on soliciting costs

Totals from the latest 10 years of available federal tax filings
Rank   Charity name   Total raised by solicitors   Paid to solicitors   % spent on direct cash aid
1    Kids Wish Network    $127.8 million    $109.8 million    2.5%
2    Cancer Fund of America    $98.0 million    $80.4 million    0.9%
3    Children's Wish Foundation International    $96.8 million    $63.6 million    10.8%
4    American Breast Cancer Foundation    $80.8 million    $59.8 million    5.3%
5    Firefighters Charitable Foundation    $63.8 million    $54.7 million    8.4%
6    Breast Cancer Relief Foundation    $63.9 million    $44.8 million    2.2%
7    International Union of Police Associations, AFL-CIO    $57.2 million    $41.4 million    0.5%
8    National Veterans Service Fund    $70.2 million    $36.9 million    7.8%
9    American Association of State Troopers    $45.0 million    $36.0 million    8.6%
10    Children's Cancer Fund of America    $37.5 million    $29.2 million    5.3%
11    Children's Cancer Recovery Foundation    $34.7 million    $27.6 million    0.6%
12    Youth Development Fund    $29.7 million    $24.5 million    0.8%
13    Committee For Missing Children    $26.9 million    $23.8 million    0.8%
14    Association for Firefighters and Paramedics    $23.2 million    $20.8 million    3.1%
15    Project Cure (Bradenton, FL)    $51.5 million    $20.4 million    0.0%
16    National Caregiving Foundation    $22.3 million    $18.1 million    3.5%
17    Operation Lookout National Center for Missing Youth    $19.6 million    $16.1 million    0.0%
18    United States Deputy Sheriffs' Association    $23.1 million    $15.9 million    0.6%
19    Vietnow National Headquarters    $18.1 million    $15.9 million    2.9%
20    Police Protective Fund    $34.9 million    $14.8 million    0.8%
21    National Cancer Coalition    $41.5 million    $14.0 million    1.1%
22    Woman To Woman Breast Cancer Foundation    $14.5 million    $13.7 million    0.4%
23    American Foundation For Disabled Children    $16.4 million    $13.4 million    0.8%
24    The Veterans Fund    $15.7 million    $12.9 million    2.3%
25    Heart Support of America    $33.0 million    $11.0 million    3.4%
26    Veterans Assistance Foundation    $12.2 million    $11.0 million    10.5%
27    Children's Charity Fund    $14.3 million    $10.5 million    2.3%
28    Wishing Well Foundation USA    $12.4 million    $9.8 million    4.6%
29    Defeat Diabetes Foundation    $13.8 million    $8.3 million    0.1%
30    Disabled Police Officers of America Inc.    $10.3 million    $8.1 million    2.5%
31    National Police Defense Foundation    $9.9 million    $7.8 million    5.8%
32    American Association of the Deaf & Blind    $10.3 million    $7.8 million    0.1%
33    Reserve Police Officers Association    $8.7 million    $7.7 million    1.1%
34    Optimal Medical Foundation    $7.9 million    $7.6 million    1.0%
35    Disabled Police and Sheriffs Foundation    $9.0 million    $7.6 million    1.0%
36    Disabled Police Officers Counseling Center    $8.2 million    $6.9 million    0.1%
37    Children's Leukemia Research Association    $9.8 million    $6.8 million    11.1%
38    United Breast Cancer Foundation    $11.6 million    $6.6 million    6.3%
39    Shiloh International Ministries    $8.0 million    $6.2 million    1.3%
40    Circle of Friends For American Veterans    $7.8 million    $5.7 million    6.5%
41    Find the Children    $7.6 million    $5.0 million    5.7%
42    Survivors and Victims Empowered    $7.7 million    $4.8 million    0.0%
43    Firefighters Assistance Fund    $5.6 million    $4.6 million    3.2%
44    Caring for Our Children Foundation    $4.7 million    $4.1 million    1.6%
45    National Narcotic Officers Associations Coalition    $4.8 million    $4.0 million    0.0%
46    American Foundation for Children With Aids    $5.2 million    $3.0 million    0.0%
47    Our American Veterans    $2.6 million    $2.3 million    2.3%
48    Roger Wyburn-Mason & Jack M Blount Foundation For Eradication of Rheumatoid Disease    $8.4 million    $1.8 million    0.0%
49    Firefighters Burn Fund    $2.0 million    $1.7 million    1.5%
50    Hope Cancer Fund    $1.9 million    $1.6 million    0.5%
4283  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / War on the rule of law: IRS political timeline on: June 07, 2013, 09:46:11 AM
Are these not marching orders to the public employee union activists working in the Obama administration agencies?

Kim Strassel, WSJ today, excerpt, link below
 Aug. 9, 2010: In Texas, President Obama for the first time publicly names a group he is obsessed with—Americans for Prosperity (founded by the Koch Brothers)—and warns about conservative groups. Taking up a cry that had until then largely been confined to left-wing media and activists, he says: "Right now all around this country there are groups with harmless-sounding names like Americans for Prosperity, who are running millions of dollars of ads . . . And they don't have to say who exactly the Americans for Prosperity are. You don't know if it's a foreign-controlled corporation."

Aug. 11: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sends out a fundraising email warning about "Karl Rove-inspired shadow groups."

Aug. 21: Mr. Obama devotes his weekly radio address to the threat of "attack ads run by shadowy groups with harmless-sounding names. We don't know who's behind these ads and we don't know who's paying for them. . . . You don't know if it's a foreign-controlled corporation. . . . The only people who don't want to disclose the truth are people with something to hide."

Week of Aug. 23: The New Yorker's Jane Mayer authors a hit piece on the Koch brothers, entitled "Covert Operations," in which she accuses them of funding "political front groups." The piece repeats the White House theme, with Ms. Mayer claiming the Kochs have created "slippery organizations with generic-sounding names" that have "made it difficult to ascertain the extent of their influence in Washington."

Aug. 27: White House economist Austan Goolsbee, in a background briefing with reporters, accuses Koch industries of being a pass-through entity that does "not pay corporate income tax." The Treasury inspector general investigates how it is that Mr. Goolsbee might have confidential tax information. The report has never been released.

This same week, the Democratic Party files a complaint with the IRS claiming the Americans for Prosperity Foundation is violating its tax-exempt status.

Sept. 2: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee warns on its website that the Kochs have "funneled their money into right-wing shadow groups."

Sept. 16: Mr. Obama, in Connecticut, repeats that a "foreign-controlled entity" might be funding "millions of dollars of attack ads." Four days later, in Philadelphia, he again says the problem is that "nobody knows" who is behind conservative groups.

Sept. 21: Sam Stein, in his Huffington Post article "Obama, Dems Try to Make Shadowy Conservative Groups a Problem for Conservatives," writes that a "senior administration official" had "urged a small gathering of reporters to start writing on what he deemed 'the most insidious power grab that we have seen in a very long time.' "

Sept. 22: In New York City, Mr. Obama warns that conservative groups "pose as non-for-profit, social welfare and trade groups," even though they are "guided by seasoned Republican political operatives" who might be funded by a "foreign-controlled corporation."

Sept. 26: On ABC's "This Week," Obama senior adviser David Axelrod declares outright that the "benign-sounding Americans for Prosperity, the American Crossroads Fund" are "front groups for foreign-controlled companies."

Sept. 28: The president, in Wisconsin, again warns about conservative organizations "posing as nonprofit groups." Sen. Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, writes to the IRS demanding it investigate nonprofits. The letter names conservative organizations.

On Oct. 14, Mr. Obama calls these groups "a problem for democracy." On Oct. 22, he slams those who "hide behind these front groups." On Oct. 25, he upgrades them to a "threat to our democracy." On Oct. 26, he decries groups engaged in "unsupervised spending."

These were not off-the-cuff remarks. They were repeated by the White House and echoed by its allies in campaign events, emails, social media and TV ads. The president of the United States spent months warning the country that "shadowy," conservative "front" groups—"posing" as tax-exempt entities and illegally controlled by "foreign" players—were engaged in "unsupervised" spending that posed a "threat" to democracy. Yet we are to believe that a few rogue IRS employees just happened during that time to begin systematically targeting conservative groups? A mere coincidence that among the things the IRS demanded of these groups were "copies of any contracts with and training materials provided by Americans for Prosperity"?

This newspaper reported Thursday that Cincinnati IRS employees are now telling investigators that they took their orders from Washington. For anyone with a memory of 2010 politics, that was obvious from the start.
4284  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US Economics: The Hidden Jobless Disaster on: June 07, 2013, 09:40:41 AM
Watch the employment rate, now below 60%, not the unemployment rate which headlines U3.  The number receiving food stamps is up by 39% since 2009.  U3 only includes Americans actively seeking work.

The Hidden Jobless Disaster 
At the present slow pace of job growth, it will require more than a decade to get back to full employment defined by prerecession standards.

By EDWARD P. LAZEAR   WSJ June 6, 2013  (excerpt)
Yet the unemployment rate is not the best guide to the strength of the labor market, particularly during this recession and recovery. Instead, the Fed and the rest of us should be watching the employment rate. There are two reasons.

First, the better measure of a strong labor market is the proportion of the population that is working, not the proportion that isn't. In 2006, 63.4% of the working-age population was employed. That percentage declined to a low of 58.2% in July 2011 and now stands at 58.6%. By this measure, the labor market's health has barely changed over the past three years.

Second, the headline unemployment rate, what the Bureau of Labor Statistics calls "U3," uses as its numerator the number of individuals who are actively seeking work but do not have jobs. There is another highly relevant measure that captures what is going on in the economy. "U6" counts those marginally attached to the workforce—including the unemployed who dropped out of the labor market and are not actively seeking work because they are discouraged, as well as those working part time because they cannot find full-time work.

Every time the unemployment rate changes, analysts and reporters try to determine whether unemployment changed because more people were actually working or because people simply dropped out of the labor market entirely, reducing the number actively seeking work. The employment rate—that is, the employment-to-population ratio—eliminates this issue by going straight to the bottom line, measuring the proportion of potential workers who are actually working.

During the past three decades the relation between unemployment and employment has been almost perfectly inverse. (See the nearby chart.) When the employment-to-population ratio rises, the unemployment rate falls. When the unemployment rate rises, the employment-to-population ratio falls. Even the turning points are aligned. Consequently, the unemployment rate has been a very good proxy for the employment rate. But that relationship has completely broken down during the most recent recession.

While the unemployment rate has fallen over the past 3½ years, the employment-to-population ratio has stayed almost constant at about 58.5%, well below the prerecession peak. Jobs are always being created and destroyed, and the net number of jobs over the last 3½ years has increased. But so too has the size of the working-age population. Job growth has been just slightly better than what it takes to keep the employed proportion of the working-age population constant. That's why jobs still seem so scarce.

The U.S. is not getting back many of the jobs that were lost during the recession. At the present slow pace of job growth, it will require more than a decade to get back to full employment defined by prerecession standards.

The striking deficiency in jobs is borne out by the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. Despite declining unemployment rates, the number of hires during the most recent month (March 2013) is almost the same as it was in January 2009, the worst month for job losses during the entire recession (4.2 million then, 4.3 million now).

Why have so many workers dropped out of the labor force and stopped actively seeking work? Partly this is due to sluggish economic growth. But research by the University of Chicago's Casey Mulligan has suggested that because government benefits are lost when income rises, some people forgo poor jobs in lieu of government benefits—unemployment insurance, food stamps and disability benefits among the most obvious. The disability rolls have grown by 13% and the number receiving food stamps by 39% since 2009.

These disincentives to seek work may also help explain the unusually high proportion of the unemployed who have been out of work for more than 26 weeks. The proportion of unemployed who are long-termers reached 45% in April 2010 and again in March 2011. It is still above 37%. During the early 1980s, when the economy experienced a comparable recession, the proportion of long-term unemployed never exceeded 27%.

The Fed may draw two inferences from the experience of the past few years. The first is that it may be a very long time before the labor market strengthens enough to declare that the slump is over. The lackluster job creation and hiring that is reflected in the low employment-to-population ratio has persisted for three years and shows no clear signs of improving.

The second is that the various programs of quantitative easing (and other fiscal and monetary policies) have not been particularly effective at stimulating job growth. Consequently, the Fed may want to reconsider its decision to maintain a loose-money policy until the unemployment rate dips to 6.5%.

Mr. Lazear, chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers from 2006-2009, is a Hoover Institution fellow and a professor at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business.
4285  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NY Times:[administration]will use any power it is given and very likely abuse it on: June 07, 2013, 09:27:45 AM
"The administration has now lost all credibility on this issue[NSA surveillance].  Mr. Obama is proving the truism that the executive branch will use any power it is given and very likely abuse it. "
4286  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We bombed the wrong side? on: June 05, 2013, 05:09:29 PM
We bombed the wrong side?
THE NATIONAL POST (Canada) ^ | 2004-04-06 | Maj-Gen. Lewis MacKenzie
Posted on 6 April, 2004 7:54:40 PM EDT by DTA
...Maj-Gen. Lewis MacKenzie, now retired, commanded UN troops during the Bosnian civil war of 1992.

Wow!  I have seen that view before.  This being from 2004, perhaps it was the same piece.  He seems knowledgeable and credible; I don't know enough to disagree.  What I would add is that our attempt to protect Muslims in Bosnia and Kosova were just a couple of the MANY times we have sided with Muslims, and doing so was always of no use or benefit in dealing with Islamist extremists (or the blame-America crowd) then or later who only recognize examples of interventions that infer we are their enemy.

Other nostalgia from the Balkans, I also can't remember when congress declared war in Bosnia, Kosova or Serbia (they didn't) and can't imagine what the media and liberal reaction would have been if was Reagan or Bush instead of Clinton who bombed the Chinese embassy.

If Clinton chose the wrong side from time to time, perhaps it was because he was distracted...
4287  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mussolini would be proud , , , on: June 05, 2013, 04:47:45 PM

An alternative to requiring all people to enlist and work for the government in peace time would be to 'enlist' all young people when they turn 18 to work 52 weeks, 40 hours per week in the private sector and pay taxes before they are eligible to vote, secure student loans, receive government benefits, etc.

BTW, "require to enlist", they will require you to volunteer?  Besides fascist, isn't that a bit Orwellian, and oxymoronic?  Reminds me of when Al Gore accused his opponents of making an explicit implication:
4288  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: June 05, 2013, 12:06:48 PM
The bill should have been amended to address most of these objections.  Now all we have is a bill that has no chance in the House, little chance in the Senate, wouldn't solve the problem if passed, and keeps the issue on the table for the Democrats.  I hope Rubio votes against it and joins a different gang.
4289  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Immigration issues - 4 conservative Senators outline opposition to current bill on: June 05, 2013, 10:05:57 AM
Cruz: 'No Choice But to Oppose' Gang of Eight Legislation    June 4, 2013

Ted Cruz (R., Texas) joined three Republican Senators on Monday in strongly denouncing the Gang of Eight immigration reform bill. In a letter to colleagues, Cruz, along with Senators Mike Lee (R., Utah), Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa), and Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.), wrote that the proposed legislation would “leave our borders unsecure and our immigration system deeply dysfunctional.”

The letter contains a detailed explaination of amendments offered during the bill’s markup in the Judiciary Committee that the senators argue would have significantly improved the legislation, but were rejected, as well as a number of amendments that were adopted, but simpy “exacerbated” the “already serious flaws” with the existing bill.

The letter criticizes the Gang of Eight directly, and the “deal” struck by its members to ensure that “the core provisions of the bill remain the same,” arguing that the legislation, like Obamacare, was “negotiated behind closed doors with special interests.”

The senators list the following reasons for their decision to oppose the bill:

    It provides immediate legalization without securing the border.
    It rewards criminal aliens, absconders, and deportees, and undermines law enforcement.
    It contains extremely dangerous national-security loopholes.
    It facilitates fraud in our immigraiton system.
    It creates no real penalties for illegal immigrants and rewards them with entitlements.
    It delays for years the implementation of E-Verify.
    It does not fix our legal-immigration system.
    It advanced through a process predicated on a deal struck before markup.
    It rewards those who have broken our laws by offering a special path to citizenship.

The senators stress that they do not oppose the concept of immigration reform; they just cannot support the Gang’s proposal. ”We need immigration reform, but the American people deserve better than a 1,000-page bill that makes our immigration system more complex and less accountable without truly ensuring border security,” they write. “[The proposed bill] fails to deliver anything more than the same empty promises Washington has been making for 30 years.”

Link to the letter:
4290  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / AEI: Where Are the Entrepreneurs? Evidence that the US economy is failing! on: June 05, 2013, 09:55:07 AM
Famous people caught reading the forum?  AEI comes to the defense of my previously unsubstantiated claim that in the face of our unprecedented regulatory climate, the business startup rate is the worst in our nation's history.  I'm not talking about LLCs filed for existing assets or one person operations, but referring to the dearth of real entrepreneurs risking real capital to give birth to new businesses that hire new employees.  Implementation of Obamacare is one more step taking us further from having a dynamic economy with full employment and full time employees.  Meanwhile, Wesbury dwells on the performance of the unchallenged, entrenched companies with their teams of regulatory compliance officers replacing innovation in the pursuit of zero-sum profits.  Good luck America.

Where are the entrepreneurs? More evidence the very heart of the US economy is failing
James Pethokoukis | June 3, 2013  AEI

America makes a grievous error if it dismisses the weak economic expansion — this month marks the fourth anniversary of the end of the Great Recession – as nothing more than the expected aftermath of a deep downturn and financial crisis. Sluggish GDP growth and yet another “jobless” recovery point to a secular problem rather than merely cyclical forces at work.

The US entrepreneurial spirit may be faltering. Check out these data points from The Wall Street Journal: a) In 1982, new companies made up roughly half of all US businesses, according to census data. By 2011, they accounted for just over a third; b) from 1982 through 2011, the share of the labor force working at new companies fell to 11% from more than 20%; c) Total venture capital invested in the US fell nearly 10% last year and is still below its prerecession peak, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.

New companies are best at creating what business guru Clayton Christensen has termed “empowering innovation” (creating new consumer goods and services) as opposed to process innovation (creating cheaper, more efficient ways to make existing consumer goods and services). Empowering innovation produces new jobs, while efficiency innovation eliminates them, often through automation.

Don’t let Apple and Google and Facebook fool you. Right now, Christensen wrote in The New York Times last year, “efficiency innovations are liberating capital, and in the United States this capital is being reinvested into still more efficiency innovations. In contrast, America is generating many fewer empowering innovations than in the past.”

Not only do we need a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem so startups can flourish and generate disruptive innovation, these new entrants raise the competitive intensity for established players to become more innovative. In other words, explains banker and entrepreneur Ashwin Parameswaran, “unless incumbent firms face the threat of failure due to the entry of new firms, product innovation is unlikely to be robust. The role of failure in fostering product innovation has sometimes been called the ‘invisible foot’ of capitalism.” Big business must be subject to maximum competitive intensity.

In the WSJ piece, reporter Ben Casselman offers several possible causes for the decline in risk taking from the aging of the US population to rising health care costs to increased state and local licensing requirements: “One recent study found that roughly 29% of U.S. employees required a government license or certificate in 2008, up from less than 5% in the 1950s.” Parameswaran thinks Washington’s backstop of “too big to fail” banks play a role by encouraging the financial sector to take on macroeconomic risk of the sort the Federal Reserve worries about (housing, derivatives) rather than lending to small business or new firms. Another factor could be restrictive land-use regulations that prevent our most productive cities from being as populous as they could be. And Christensen sees schools at all levels failing to teach the “skills necessary to start companies that focus on empowering innovations.”

US workers need America to be as entrepreneurial and innovative as possible. So does the global economy. But right now we are taxing capital, educating kids, regulating banks, and managing cities in ways that are crippling America’s greatest economic asset.
4291  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues, James Rosen is not blameless on: June 04, 2013, 11:29:25 AM
Robert's post makes a good point, IMO.  When it was the NY Times leaking national secrets, some of us were quick to criticize them.  Just because Rosen was able to get inside or classified info doesn't mean it should have been published or broadcasted.  Fred Kaplan at Slate made this point recently: /james_rosen_and_the_justice_department_leak_investigation_the_fox_news_reporter.html
"Why James Rosen Is Not Blameless"

When a President divulges secrets, as with the bin Laden info and raid, they are by definition no longer classified.  It is still wrong to identify sources and methods without good reason.

The question of Rosen's good or bad judgment is separate from the apparent fact that Attorney General Eric Holder lied to congress about his own involvement investigating a journalist and his contacts.
4292  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of the left - Washington Post's Dana Milbank: 'Shoot first' on: June 04, 2013, 10:10:16 AM
The Washington Post is comfortable putting forward an opinion piece that leave readers with a false knowledge of the facts:

Regarding the IRS, Dana Milbank says the GOP shoots first, asks questions later.  FYI to Dana Milbank, the questions have all been asked.  The letter was written by a Democrat.  It is the ANSWERS that are lacking.  Does Milbank really not know that the questions were asked and the answers were not forthcoming?

OPINIONS  Washington Post
The ‘shoot first’ party
Dana Milbank
Here are the unanswered questions, imagine if you didn't answer their questions!
IRS Ignores Senate Deadline To Answer Questions About Scandal
IRS fails to meet Senate Finance's deadline for documents on targeting
The Internal Revenue Service missed a Friday deadline for turning over reams of documents to the Senate Finance Committee, one of several panels investigating the tax agency’s targeting of tea party groups.
4293  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Thomas Sowell: Abstract immigrants vs. a fact-based immigration discussion on: June 04, 2013, 09:53:03 AM

 A Fact-Based Immigration Discussion
We shouldn’t base immigration policy on abstract notions about abstract people.
By Thomas Sowell

One of the many sad signs of our times is the way current immigration issues are discussed. A hundred years ago, immigration controversies were discussed in the context of innumerable facts about particular immigrant groups. Many of those facts were published in a huge, multi-volume 1911 study by a commission headed by Senator William P. Dillingham.

That and other studies of the time presented hard data on such things as which groups’ children were doing well in school and which were not, which groups had high crime rates or high rates of alcoholism, and which groups were over-represented among people living on the dole.

Such data and such differences still exist today. Immigrants from some countries are seldom on welfare, but immigrants from other countries often are. Immigrants from some countries are typically people with high levels of education and skills, while immigrants from other countries seldom have much schooling or skills.

Nevertheless, many of our current discussions of immigration issues focus on immigrants in general, as if they were abstract people in an abstract world. But the concrete differences among immigrants from different countries affect whether their coming here is good or bad for the American people.

The very thought of formulating immigration laws from the standpoint of what is best for the American people seems to have been forgotten by many who focus on how to solve the problems of illegal immigrants “living in the shadows.”

A recent column in the Wall Street Journal titled “What Would Milton Friedman Say?” tried to derive what the late Professor Friedman “would no doubt regard as the ideal outcome” as far as immigration laws are concerned.

Although I was once a student of Professor Friedman, I would never presume to speak for him. However, I will point out that he was a man with the rare combination of genius and common sense, and he published much empirical work in addition to the analytical work that won him a Nobel Prize. In short, concrete facts mattered to him.

It is hard to imagine Milton Friedman looking for “the ideal outcome” on immigration in the abstract. More than once he said, “The best is the enemy of the good,” which to me meant that attempts to achieve an unattainable ideal can prevent us from reaching good outcomes that are possible in practice.

Too much of our current immigration controversy is conducted in terms of abstract ideals, such as “We are a nation of immigrants.” Of course we are a nation of immigrants. But we are also a nation of people who wear shoes. Does it follow that we should admit anybody who wears shoes?

The immigrants of today are very different in many ways from those who arrived here a hundred years ago. Moreover, the society in which they arrive is different. The Wall Street Journal column ends by quoting another economist who said, “Better to build a wall around the welfare state than the country.”

But the welfare state is already here — and, far from having a wall built around it, the welfare state is expanding in all directions by leaps and bounds. We do not have a choice between the welfare state and open borders. Anything we try to do regarding immigration laws has to be done in the context of a huge welfare state that is already a major, inescapable fact of life.

Among other facts of life utterly ignored by many advocates of de facto amnesty is that the free international movement of people is different from free international trade in goods.

Buying cars or cameras from other countries is not the same as admitting people from those countries. Unlike inanimate objects, people have cultures, and not all cultures are compatible with the culture in this country, which has produced so many benefits for the American people for so long.

Not only the United States, but the Western world in general, has been discovering the hard way that admitting people with incompatible cultures is an irreversible decision with incalculable consequences. If we do not see that after recent terrorist attacks on the streets of Boston and London, when will we see it?

“Comprehensive immigration reform” means doing everything all together in a rush, without time to look before we leap, and basing our policies on abstract notions about abstract people.
4294  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, manufacturing index UNEXPECTEDLY declines on: June 04, 2013, 09:42:41 AM
Wesbury: "The punditry has decided that anything good happening is actually bad."...
"don't let the punditry put fear in your heart by saying the good times cannot possibly last or be true."

U.S. manufacturing index for April unexpectedly declines - hits a 4 year low

Ooops.  Now which side of punditry needs to spin?

Wesbury's rosy scenario outlook seems to only apply to the existing company indices - companies generally connected to the regulators, operating globally, that happen to still be listed on U.S. exchanges.  Startups still suck.  Employment sucks.  Tax rates are up, state and federal.  Welfare rolls are up.  Regulations are still exploding.  Inner cities are still in shambles.  Refineries are closing.   Obamacare 2014 is creating enough business uncertainty to make up for most positive forces.  Growth in Asia is fizzling.  Europe is dismantling.  I think I'll buy 100 shares...
4295  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / IRS Chief Wife went after Romney on Taxes on: June 03, 2013, 11:23:30 AM
The political activities of the wife bring into further question the political activities of the IRS chief during his 167 trips to the White House.  Maybe they were hammering out new depreciation schedules and not planning and executing Nixonian enemy targeting.  In that case, where are the new depreciation schedules?

Wife of Former IRS Chief Campaigned for Obama, Questioned Romney's Taxes

Former Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Douglas Shulman is under fire from Congress for his agency's targeting of Tea Party and other conservative organizations. Shulman himself is under suspicion for his numerous visits to the White House compared to other administration officials. Additionally, Shulman's wife Susan L. Anderson reportedly works for the Washington D.C. based liberal organization Public Campaign.

Anderson's group, Public Campaign, describes itself as, "a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to sweeping campaign reform that aims to dramatically reduce the role of big special interest money in American politics."

(The article goes on at the link to publish many of her tweets during the campaign. "If Romney loses the election, I bet he can file an amended return and claim the deductions he didn't claim.”",  "Romney in class by himself - see @SunFoundation charts comparing Romney's tax returns to other presidents. ", "Folks go to Caymans to dodge taxes or dive reefs - wanna bet what Mitt was doing there?")

During a Congressional hearing, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) questioned Shulman if he knew how Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) had information in supporting a July 2012 claim that Romney had not paid taxes for the last ten years. Shulman appeared not to know how or why Senator Reid made such a claim.
4296  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Court challenges could tear down major pieces of ObamaCare on: June 03, 2013, 11:05:27 AM

Court challenges could tear down major pieces of ObamaCare

President Obama’s healthcare law is under attack in the courts even as the administration sprints toward full implementation.
Despite surviving a stiff challenge at the Supreme Court last year, some of the law’s biggest provisions remain at risk from legal challenges.  One set of lawsuits accuses the Internal Revenue Service of illegally implementing new subsidies to help people buy insurance. Separately, more than 60 lawsuits have been filed challenging the law’s mandate for health plans to cover birth control.
A loss for the administration on the contraception mandate would undermine a key selling point for the law that Democrats used to court women in the 2012 elections.
The challenge to the law’s insurance subsidies, while more obscure, poses a far bigger and more dangerous threat to the Affordable Care Act.  Simon Lazarus, senior counsel at the Constitutional Accountability Center, has argued that there’s a very real chance the Supreme Court’s conservative majority would strike down the IRS’s approach to insurance subsidies if it gets the chance.  Lazarus supports the healthcare law and believes the IRS has taken the right approach to implementing its subsidies. But it’s easy to see how the case could play out under the strict “textualist” approach championed by Justice Antonin Scalia, he said.
“One has to be concerned about that,” Lazarus said.  If the Supreme Court or judges in the lower courts adopt a narrow reading of the healthcare law, the consequences could be “devastating,” Lazarus said.  That’s exactly why the people behind the lawsuit think they have a real chance to win.
The healthcare law sets up new marketplaces where people can buy health insurance. Most people who use the marketplaces will be eligible for a subsidy to help pay for their premiums.  The law’s challengers say subsidies should only be available to people who get insurance through a state-run marketplace. If the federal government runs a state’s marketplace — which it will in the majority of states — no subsidies should be available, the lawsuit argues.  Why not? Because the text of the Affordable Care Act refers to subsidies flowing through exchanges “established by the state.”  The IRS has said subsidies will be available in all 50 states, no matter who runs the exchanges. The law’s critics say that clearly contradicts the text of the statute.
“The IRS rule we are challenging is at war with the Act’s plain language and completely rewrites the deal that Congress made with the states on running these insurance exchanges,” attorney Michael Carvin said in a statement when his clients filed their challenge to the subsidies.
The law’s supporters say the context of the entire statute makes clear that Congress intended for all 50 exchanges to function the same way.  “There are layers of reasons why this claim would and should be rejected,” Lazarus said.
But a judge or Supreme Court justice like Scalia could easily hone in on the “established by the state” language, making the case for “textualism” — adhering strictly to the specific words used in a statute, rather than trying to determine its intent.  “It’s a way of taking one isolated provision of a statute and just reading that one provision,” Lazarus said.  Lazarus has been urging the left to focus aggressively on the subsidies challenge, even though the lawsuits are still in their early stages.
Two suits have been filed challenging the subsidies; neither has gotten a hearing yet in court. There’s a chance the cases would have to wait until at least next year, for procedural reasons.  Although they don’t believe the suits stand much chance of success, some supporters of the healthcare law believe their side lost the public relations battle over the Supreme Court’s ObamaCare case, in part because liberal academics didn’t take the challenge seriously.
“However such maneuvers play out in court, the administration and its allies need to play their game out of court as well. Specifically, they need to not repeat their near-death experience with the individual mandate challenge, when they left their adversaries free to frame the legal issues, unanswered, for the media, politicians, and the public,” Lazarus wrote in a recent op-ed.
The more immediate legal threat to the Affordable Care Act comes from challenges to its birth control mandate.   
The contraception mandate is a relatively small part of the overall healthcare law, but it is a major talking point for the White House.  Obama focused extensively on the birth-control mandate during the 2012 campaign, and Democrats made the policy a cornerstone of their aggressive pitch to female voters.  An eventual Supreme Court decision on the contraception policy might not have huge implications for the rest of the healthcare law, but it would be politically explosive.
Two federal appeals courts have heard oral arguments over the contraception policy, and challengers have filed 60 lawsuits in courts across the country.  The plaintiffs, most of whom are business owners, say the policy violates their First Amendment right to religious liberty by forcing them to provide a service they find immoral.  The Obama administration has given an exemption to churches and houses of worship, and has carved out a middle ground for religious-affiliated employers like Catholic hospitals and universities.
For-profit companies are also challenging the policy. Those cases have moved faster, and though courts have been split on the issue, several have questioned whether business owners can invoke religious liberty over healthcare plans they don’t provide personally, but rather through their companies.
The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals heard a case this week filed by a cabinet-making company whose owners object to providing contraception. The lower court in that case sided against the company, saying religious liberty belongs to people — not corporations.  "Religious belief takes shape within the minds and hearts of individuals, and its protection is one of the more uniquely 'human' rights provided by the Constitution,” the lower court said.
4297  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Scott Grannis and friends: on: June 03, 2013, 10:44:39 AM
"I share all of these concerns about the Feds ability to exit QE in a timely fashion. So what should an investor do when confronted with this risk? That is arguably a more important question than whether the fed should be reformed."  - Scott G.

An investor can be in non-dollar assets when the dollar collapses, assuming full knowledge.  I think the DOW and the other indices reflect that as people are really buying market share in these industries rather than risking investment in a a start-up company or holding anything dollar-based.  There are other defensive schemes to be sure, gold, commodities, real estate I suppose.  I own low end housing that sadly seems to be coming back into fashion in our expanding, low end economy.  But I don't want to be a rich guy in a collapsed economy.  I'd rather be an ordinary participant in a healthy economy.
4298  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics - What Austerity? on: June 03, 2013, 10:27:37 AM
"Austerity" is when government spending in stagnant economies goes up 6% per year instead of 7%.

CCP/ Crafty,  Thanks for 'The Economist' austerity post.

Keynes' work spanned 4 decades and gets interpreted all kinds of ways.  The heart of what we call Keynesiansim is the idea that we need government to correct for the failures of the free market, to smooth out the business cycle so to speak.  Quite obvious today is that government is preventing the successes of formerly free markets. The issue at hand is whether austerity retards growth.  Conversely, would expanding these phony, crony stimuli be the solution to our growth deficit?  If Krugman or the other adherents have a valid point to make, I haven't seen it.

Krugman and those following him believe austerity is killing the weaker economies of Europe and will kill us next with our under-spoending (what a joke).  But where is the austerity?  (See the following article.)   The fiscal stimulus in the U.S. botched recovery has been over a trillion a year for at least 4 years.  The amount of proven improvement bought at this enormous cost is zilch.  And the generational theft it entails is obscene.  The monetary stimulus, aka quantitative expansion is also well into the multiple trillions and still continuing.  The result of the two enormous artificial forces combined is becoming history's worst recovery.  So let's do more of it! (in their view)

The cause of the current malaise is government caused distortions in the markets including taxes, regulations, uncertainty and perverse incentives.  These artificial stimuli address none of what is wrong.  We have four flat tires and the rear brakes stuck partway on while Krugman and his followers in the White House and at the Fed are trying to pouring more gas into the carburetor.  What could go wrong with that?  Pretty much everything, but the worst part is that the things that are wrong still aren't being addressed.

The general austerity argument aims first at the failing countries in Europe, the so-called PIIGS countries where austerity allegedly isn't working.  But take a closer look at what they are wrongly calling austerity:

'Austerity' To Blame? But Where's The Austerity?

Die-hard Keynesians bemoan that, with a few exceptions, the world’s economies are drowning in the quicksand of austerity. They preach we need more government spending and stimulus, not less. Northern Europe should bail out its less-fortunate neighbors to the South so they can pay their teachers, public employees and continue generous transfers to the poor and unemployed. If not, Europe’s South will remain mired in recession. In America, Keynesians entreat the skinflint Republicans to loosen the purse strings so we can escape sub par growth. They advise Japan to spend itself out of permanent stagnation and welcome recent steps in this direction.

The stimulationists complain that they have been overwhelmed by the defeatist austerity crowd, lead by the un-neighborly Germans and the obstructionist Republicans.  If only Germany would shift its economy into high gear while transferring its tax revenues to ailing Southern Europe, and the rascally Republicans drop the sequester cuts, we would be sailing along to a healthy worldwide recovery. We don’t need spending restraint. Instead, we need stimulus, stimulus, and more stimulus to revive economic growth. We’ll deal with the growing deficits later, the stimulation crowd tells us, but we must first get our economies growing again.

The Keynesian stimulus crowd blames austerity for the world’s economic woes without bothering to examine facts. I advise them first to consult my colleague at the German Institute for Economic Research (Georg Erber, I See Austerity Everywhere But in the Statistics), who, unlike them,  has actually taken the time to examine the European Union’s statistics as compiled by its statistical agency, Eurostat.

The official Keynesian story is that the PIIGS of Europe (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain) have been devastated by cutbacks in public spending. Austerity has made things worse rather than better – clear proof that Keynesian stimulus is the answer. Keynesians claim the lack of stimulus (of course paid for by someone else) has spawned costly recessions which threaten to spread.  In other words, watch out Germany and Scandinavia: If you don’t pony up, you’ll be next.

Erber finds fault with this Keynesian narrative. The official figures show that PIIGS governments embarked on massive spending sprees between 2000 and 2008. During this period, their combined general government expenditures rose from 775 billion Euros to 1.3 trillion – a 75 percent increase. Ireland had the largest percentage increase (130 percent), and Italy the smallest (40 percent). These spending binges gave public sector workers generous salaries and benefits, paid for bridges to nowhere, and financed a gold-plated transfer state. What the state gave has proven hard to take away as the riots in Southern Europe show.

Then in 2008, the financial crisis hit. No one wanted to lend to the insolvent PIIGS, and, according to the Keynesian narrative, the PIIGS were forced into extreme austerity by their miserly neighbors to the north. Instead of the stimulus they desperately needed, the PIIGS economies were wrecked by austerity.

Not so according to the official European statistics. Between the onset of the crisis in 2008 and 2011,  PIIGS government spending increased by six percent from an already high plateau.  Eurostat’s projections (which make the unlikely assumption that the PIIGS will honor the fiscal discipline promised their creditors) still show the PIIGS spending more in 2014 than at the end of their spending binge in 2008.

As  Erber wryly notes: “Austerity is everywhere but in the statistics.”

The PIIGS remind me of the patient whose doctor orders him to lose weight by eating less. The patient responds by doubling his calorie intake. He later cuts back  by ten percent and wonders why he is not losing weight. The PIIGS went on a spending binge from which they do not want to retreat. They then blame their problems on austerity and the lack of charity of others.

There is another message in these figures: the insolvent PIIGS cannot finance their deficits on their own in credit markets. They can keep on spending only with loans from international organizations and the European Central Bank. That PIIGS have continued to spend unabated means that their “miserly” neighbors have continued to bail them out, largely out of public sight.

So much for the scourge of austerity in Southern Europe. The facts show it simply does not exist.

Well, never mind. The Keynesians have new reason to cheer. Japan, under the new government of Shinzo Abe,  has embarked on a program of monetary and fiscal stimulus, and, lo and behold, the stagnant Japanese economy actually recorded a whole quarter of decent growth. At last Japan has seen the light. (The latest Economist cover features a superman Abe flying to Japan’s rescue). Stimulus cheerleader, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman (Japan the Model), answers his own question  “how is Abenomics working?” with: “The safe answer is that it’s too soon to tell. But the early signs are good…”

Krugman’s memory must be incredibly short if he thinks that Japan has just discovered stimulus. Japan has been in a twenty-year-old funk, despite launching a dizzying variety of Keynesian stimulus programs, some of which bordered on the crazy (such as giving Japanese shopping vouchers so they could relearn how to spend). Over the past twenty years, Japan has tried to spend itself to growth and has nothing to show for it.

We need look only at the growth of Japan’s public debt to prove the failure of  Japan’s Keynesian experiments.  In 1990, Japan’s public debt was 67 percent of GDP (much like the U.S. today). Today it is 212 percent. All that public spending and Japan still could not grow!

At an interest rate of 5 percent, the Japanese would have to devote ten percent of GDP just to paying interest!  And Krugman wants to add to that debt. And believe me, Japan did not accumulate that debt due to austerity. It does not work that way.

Japan is an example of what Europe will look like in twenty years if it takes the Krugman advice — massive and dangerous debt with nothing to show for it.  Japan is a perfect real-world experiment with long run, sustained Keynesianism. Europe and the United States, take notice and beware!

Which leads us to the austerity that is supposedly underway in the United States.  (Remember that radical sequester that was supposed to ruin the economy?) Our figures tell exactly the same story as the PIIGS  – a binge of public spending that has not been reversed. Between 2000 and 2008, both federal and state and local spending increased by almost two thirds. Despite budget cliff hangers, sequestration, and Republican intransience (so claim the Democrats), the federal government today is spending 16 percent more than at the peak of its binge spending in 2008.  State and local governments, which cannot borrow as freely as the Feds, are spending a modest 11 percent more.

Instead of “where’s the beef?” we should ask “where’s the austerity?” Perhaps economist Krugman can find it. But first I would advise him and others like him to consult some facts before they pontificate.

PS In the comments section, I got a priceless gem from a big government fan, who relates that government spending has risen at an annual rate of 7 percent since 1965. Hence, austerity is defined as growth of government spending at a rate less than “normal.”  The 7 percent rate is instructive because, according to the rule of 72, you get a doubling every ten years. If the federal government continues to grow at its “normal” (non austerity)  rate, it will spend $32 trillion in 2043. Maybe then we’ll finally have “enough” government spending to solve all of our problems.

4299  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Fed, Monetary Policy, David Malpass: Fed Policy Is a Drag on Recovery on: May 31, 2013, 10:40:39 AM
First, two comments on the David M Gordon (DMG) post above in this thread:  a) By saying trillions of quantitative easing did not expand M2 to me is pointing out what a lousy, incomplete measurement M2 is of the money supply, hence the terms M3, M4, MZM, L, etc.    b) As I have rebutted previously, Milton Friedman said MV=PQ.  If the extra money is all parked and uncirculated as bank reserves with zero velocity, then prices don't change with output stagnant.  But what are those bank reserves other than money that presumably has the potential to be circulated and multiplied.  The final scorecard of the damage done by these policies is not yet known.  

Perhaps David Malpass was reading the discussions on the forum wink when he wrote the following piece for the WSJ today.  The Fed's manipulations create distortions in the economy and distortions keep resources from moving to their best use.  The proof is in the dismal results of these policies.

David Malpass: Fed Policy Is a Drag on Recovery
The stock market is soaring. Yet real median income has fallen 5%, unheard of for a recovery.


Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker said in a speech to the Economic Club of New York on Wednesday that the Fed should not be asked to "accommodate misguided fiscal policies" and "will inevitably fall short." He outlined a preferred monetary policy based on orthodox central banking aimed at a stable currency in order to maximize employment. "Credibility is an enormous asset," he said. "Once earned, it must not be frittered away." Those words are true and timely.

As this month's stock and bond market gyrations showed, traders are obsessively focused on every nuance of the Fed's monetary plans. Billions of dollars are at stake for Wall Street, which profits mightily from the Fed's bond buying and cheap credit.

The problem is the broader economy's poor performance in growth and jobs. The Fed, which was once a key proponent of market-based economic policies, has forced U.S. interest rates to near zero for four-and-a-half years with no plans to stop. It has bought nearly $3 trillion in bonds, with the express goal of channeling credit to the government, government-owned enterprises and large corporations in the hope that this will boost employment.

The Fed's bond-market interventions probably helped during the 2008 crisis when markets had frozen, but after that the economy would have done much better without them. Recoveries are normally fast and broad once markets are allowed to clear and begin operating. Quarterly growth topped 9% in 1983 after a deep recession and 7% in 1996 leading into President Clinton's re-election. Interest rates were high, yet median incomes were rising sharply.

Growth in the current recovery only rose above 4% once, in the fourth quarter of 2011, and averaged just 2% per year in its first four years versus 5% in the same period of the 1980s recovery, 3.2% in the 1990s recovery and 2.9% in the 2000s recovery. The underperformance over the past four years translates into more than three million jobs that should have been created but weren't, an economic disaster that lowered real median incomes by 5%.

The disastrous state of affairs was rationalized as a "new normal" following the Great Recession, but the reality is that poor policy choices hurt growth. Tax-and-spend policies sapped investment, and the Fed's low rates and bond purchases damaged markets, hurt savers and channeled credit to the government at the expense of job creators. It's a zero-sum process that should be stopped because of the bad effect on growth and jobs.

Incredibly, as Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke alluded to in his May 22 congressional testimony, the Fed is now angling to create a semi-permanent control dial with which the Fed can increase its $85 billion in monthly bond purchases when growth slows and reduce them if growth ever speeds up. This creates maximum uncertainty for the private sector, giving an advantage to traders, the government and the rich but hurting growth and long-term investors.

Washington thrives on the impression that the economy and markets are dependent on the Federal Reserve and deficit spending. This is the wrong lesson. More likely, past government excesses—trillions added to the national debt and the Fed's liabilities—lowered the growth rate. The economy and markets would adjust and be better off without them.

One line of Fed criticism has emphasized money printing and an inflation risk. This is off target and, with inflation low, gives the Fed an opening to keep going. When the Fed buys bonds, it pays for them with liabilities to banks called excess reserves. There's no creation of new money in the private sector. The M2 money supply, the measure of bank deposits often used by monetarists to anticipate inflation, is unaffected. Private-sector credit grew only 0.8% from the end of 2008 through the end of 2012, whereas credit to the government grew 58%.

Rather than money printing that turns into cash, the excess reserves are, in effect, an IOU from the Fed. Interest is paid on them and they aren't spent or used by banks to increase lending. This distinguishes current policy from the inflationary 1960s and 1970s, when the Fed created reserves that banks used as backing for multiple loans and rapid growth in private-sector credit.

The stronger criticism is that the Fed's policy is contractionary, harming growth. The Fed's intention is that the low bond rates it provides the government will spill over to big corporations and banks, who in turn will help the little guy. This trickle-down monetary policy has contributed to very fast growth in corporate profits, part of the explanation for the record stock market, but also to weak GDP growth and declining middle-class incomes. The extra credit the Fed channeled to government and big corporations meant less credit elsewhere in the economy, a contractionary influence since most new jobs come from small businesses.

Still, three important developments may lift the economy despite the Fed, forcing it to taper its bond purchases and allow the recovery to accelerate. First, the Jan. 2 tax bill removed the risk of tax rate increases—on income, dividends, estates and the alternative minimum tax—that depressed growth in 2010-12. Second, most businesses are encouraged by the sequester and the idea of the government tackling spending, however clumsily. Third, private credit has started to grow, helped by thousands of new nonbank lenders. Total credit grew at a 5.6% annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2012 after contracting for much of 2009-12.

But whether the economy turns up or not, it should be clear that the Fed's unprecedented and far-reaching monetary policy has been a drag, not a stimulus.

Mr. Malpass, a deputy assistant Treasury secretary and legislative manager for the 1986 Tax Reform Act in the Reagan administration, is president of Encima Global LLC.

4300  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness - Eric Holder on: May 31, 2013, 10:06:10 AM
Upon advice and wisdom of leadership, I move my Eric Holder post from yesterday to here.  I agree that these personal threads can detract from the issue threads.  These cabinet officials running wild are only relevant in that the unelected A.G. in this case was chosen by the President who continues to stand by him.  That said, Eric Holder is quite a piece of work, loaded with power and worthy of further study and discussion.
...Holder got his honesty and scandal handling training as Deputy A.G. for the Clintons so he is a confidant of both camps.  One might say only half-jokingly, he knows where there bodies are buried.

Here is Michael Ramirez with picture worth more than a thousand words, describing the current investigation of Holder investigating Holder.

Before Fast and Furious, Eric Holder had already made a name for himself.  "When he pushed through the pardon of Marc Rich, he didn’t know Rich had assisted America’s enemies, including Iran, or that Rich’s wife had donated large sums to Democratic and Clinton interests."

Also among Holder's work was the pardons of the FALN terrorists, and lying about legal work done for Blagojevich, famous as the convicted seller of the Obama Senate seat.

Holder has stated under oath that he didn't know about the Fox News wiretapping when it was he who signed the complaint and handling the judge shopping.

In his opening remarks for confirmation, Holder stated that law enforcement must be untainted by politics. He also insisted that the Department of Justice represents the people, not the president.

Let's judge him by his own standard.
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