March 15, 2013 Detroit Dems Enrich Wall Street As City Goes Bust Walter Russell Mead
Michigan made it official this week: Detroit can no longer survive without adult supervision. Michigan’s governor named Kevyn Orr, a DC bankruptcy lawyer, to handle the city’s affairs on an emergency basis as the deep blue city makes a last ditch effort to avoid the biggest municipal bankruptcy in American history.
During the long grim slide, much of Detroit’s population fled the implosion; those who remained suffered through declining city services. Schools, police, fire, infrastructure: all the vital services cities are supposed to provide have gone into steep decline.
But while the city’s mostly low-income and mostly African-American residents struggled to survive civic decline, the ill wind from Detroit blew somebody good: well connected Wall Street firms have feasted on the Motor City’s carcass.
Ever since the long death spiral began, Detroit has relied on periodic bond sales to keep its bills paid. The thinking was clear: borrow now, pay it back later when the city’s finances recover. Of course, Detroit’s finances never recovered, and now it’s on the hook for much of this borrowing, in addition to the fees that these banks charged.
And these are serious fees. Bloomberg reports that since 2005, Wall Street banks have charged the city a whopping $474 million. As a comparison, that’s about as much as the city’s current entire police and fire budget for this year:
“The banks promise to get you the money and say you can pay later,” said Greg Bowens, spokesman for Stand Up For Democracy, a Lansing group that campaigned last year to repeal the law allowing appointment of a financial manager. “They get their fees off the top, and you trust that they’re doing what’s in your taxpayers’ best interest.”
As Detroit is learning now, in many cases they weren’t. And Detroit is not alone: In city after city, struggling pension funds have turned to exotic Wall Street investments claiming high returns and minimal risks. In some cases this is working out, in many more it isn’t, but either way, Wall Street is collecting its fees and leaving taxpayers and pensioners to pick up the pieces when it falls apart.
Democrats are shocked, shocked by the news that there is gambling going on in America’s blue cities. They do their best to avert their eyes from the close political ties between corrupt urban political machines and exploitative Wall Street banks. In the lame progressive mindset that characterizes these decadent times, Wall Street is bad, and urban politicians are good. There can’t possibly be some sort of symbiotic relationship between them. How could something so good, so honest, so dedicated to serving the poor as the Detroit Democratic machine be engaged in a vicious conspiracy with Wall Street to bleed the poor and suck the city dry?
Some Democrats don’t like this kind of talk because they are cynical and others don’t like it because they are naive. The cynics are either in the game themselves or knowingly agree to look the other way because they value the support of political allies and don’t care how much those allies bleed the poor. The naive ones, and there are lots of starry eyed intellectuals in this country who don’t know a hawk from a handsaw, think that because many of these urban thugs are African-American, and because they advocate for more government programs to help the poor, they must obviously be sincere and be part of a general wave of good progressive people fighting to make this world a better place. Surely nobody is so cynical as to lobby for government programs because they plan to cream off the money?
Others have an uneasy sense that something is amiss, but a combination of historical ignorance and race sensitivity strikes them dumb. They look around America and see a number of urban areas with predominantly African-American populations. They see that many (not all) of these cities are run by incompetent, race-baiting hacks and criminals who use identity politics to bond themselves to the voters they exploit.
Because they don’t understand that corruption and identity politics have been the hallmark of American municipal government since the 1830s and 184os, they think the ghastly spectacle of demagogic corruption ruining our cities today is somehow a racial phenomenon. The racists among us see that picture and want to draw racist conclusions about African-American capacity for self governance; most of the rest of us are made so uncomfortable by the whole topic that we let the subject slide.
But thieves like the despicable Kwame Kilpatrick in Detroit are anything but a racial phenomenon. There were Irish, Jewish, Italian, Polish and Greek Kilpatricks in their day. We can confidently expect a wave of Latino Kilpatricks as Latino voting power pushes African-American machines aside in more urban areas.
And there’s another thing American history teaches: unscrupulous politicians will find unscrupulous bankers who will float them abusive loans in exchange for fat fees.
If our so-called ‘progressives’ today weren’t so intellectually decadent and, well, historically challenged, they would be leading the charge to clean up American cities. Instead they are mostly silent — and sometimes even defend the machines.
It’s a terrible shame because reformers and progressives really can fight the rot and help the poor — if they can get past their messed up ‘political correctness’ illusions long enough to recognize the basic facts of the case. Some people are trying. Politicians like (one hopes) Cory Booker are part of the wave of renewal and change that slowly and bit by bit can make a change. Courageous prosecutors, crusading attorneys-general, fiercely determined governors are part of the solution. And so are presidents who believe that their oath of office obliges them to attack with special force and determination the organized political machines that use a whole series of corrupt and collusive procedures to deprive American citizens of their right to a republican form of government.
Meanwhile, back in Detroit, Governor Snyder’s choice of Kevyn Orr to take the reins in Detroit is looking good. For one thing, Orr has a history of turning around failing organizations in Michigan. He was partially responsible for guiding Chrysler through bankruptcy in 2009. Given that many expect Detroit to enter bankruptcy as well, Orr’s skill set in this area is likely to come in handy. But perhaps most importantly, Orr, along with 82 percent of Detroit’s population, is black.
The mix of political machines, unscrupulous bosses and low income voters is not inherently a racial issue, but Detroit’s problems can’t be separated from racial concerns. Ever since the state of emergency was announced, many in Detroit have been concerned that the emergency manager law is effectively taking control away from the city’s black population and putting it in the hands of a manager appointed by a white Republican governor.
Michigan has a real mess on its hands. As Bloomberg notes, Detroit now joins Flint, Benton Harbor, Pontiac and a few other, smaller cities under emergency management. These cities account for nearly 50 percent of the state’s black population, so that almost half the black people in Michigan now live in places where local government has effectively lost power. In Benton Harbor in particular, the current situation has sparked racial concern:
“If I’m a young, African-American person growing up in Detroit or Benton Harbor or one of these mostly black areas, what is the message that sends?” Pilgrim said. “It certainly looks like the message is that people that look like you can’t govern.” [...]
“I don’t see how it couldn’t be racially motivated,” Williams, 30, said of the law. “We will stop this because of folks who stood before us, like Medgar Evers, who fought for voting rights.”
It’s true that the emergency manager law is taking power away from Detroiters and other Michigan urbanites, and we certainly hope that the state can return control to the people as soon as possible. But despite the fears of a hostile outside takeover, most of Detroit’s problems come from the corrupt political machine that has been looting the city for decades — and from the indifferent state and national prosecutors and politicians who failed to address the lawless state of city government and left the city’s poor to the mercies of heartless thugs.
Following in the footsteps of cheap foreign demagogues like Robert Mugabe, Kwame Kilpatrick and others of his ilk have played relentlessly on identity politics to earn support from poor, minority communities while using the power of their office to funnel money out of these same communities and into their own pockets. And while Kilpatrick—who was just indicted on 24 charges of corruption—may be the worst of the lot, he was far from alone.
What they have left behind is a city where taxes are among the highest in the nation, yet which can’t afford to pay its pensions, provide adequate police service, or keep the lights on.
The best way to stop future tragedies like this is to enforce the law. From voting fraud to corrupt relations with contractors and financiers to fraudulent accounting on pensions, many American cities are being run more like criminal conspiracies than anything else. And the cost isn’t just the money the politicians steal, or the inflated profits that those doing business with a crooked city can earn or even the sweetheart deals with public sector unions who function as part of the machine. It is the shambolic education offered to generations of poor kids, the lack of protection for person and property, the burden of a government that is both costly and ineffective and the enterprises and jobs such a government kills or drives away: corrupt big city machines may be the most important single civil rights issue in America today.
This is not, repeat not, a black thing. Historically, most of America’s worst urban machines have been white criminal enterprises. Often in American history, a combination of identity politics, fear and hopes of getting scraps from the machine have prevented poor people in the cities from organizing against their criminal masters. In the past it was often progressives and middle class reformers, some of the same ethnicity as most of the victims, others from different groups, who banded together to drive out the crooks. The criminals did their best to smear the reformers and identity politics was part of their shtick. Tammany Hall accused its critics of being anti-Catholic or anti-Irish bigots. Prosecutors who attacked the mafia were called anti-Italian. And so it goes.
Urban machines have a legitimate place in American politics. New waves of immigrants into urban America — whether from Europe, Asia, Latin America or the rural South — benefit from organizing to protect their economic and political issues. The machines allow them to assert themselves, claim a share of city patronage and business, and direct city resources to communities that might otherwise be overlooked.
But unchecked and uncontrolled, these machines have a tendency to go over the line. Graft proliferates; crony appointments degrade the quality of governance to the point that city administration is no longer able to function. This is where the reformers come in, pushing back against the tendency of political machines to jump the shark, imposing some limits and discipline on what goes on. Partly because today’s progressives are moral cowards who have allowed themselves to be shamed by the race card, this process of balance and reform didn’t really get underway in Detroit (and perhaps elsewhere) until enormous damage had already been done.
By overlooking the corruption and a mafia thinly disguised as a political party for so long, the authorities of the United States deprived the citizens of Detroit of the equal protection of the law. That must not happen in our other cities; municipal government in this country needs to be much more transparent, and law enforcement really needs to crack down.
Without this, all the federal block grants or social programs in the world will help those trapped in the inner cities escape poverty and get the education and skills they need to build the kind of future all Americans want.
This is the pre-eminent civil rights problem of our day and is devastating minority communities throughout the country. Our political establishment, our university faculties and fashionable intellectuals, our newspaper editorialists, our legal profession and our clergy stand essentially silent; it is the silence of shame.
A long national search has resulted in Steven Hayward of Powerline, AEI, Reagan biographer and prolific author etc. chosen by Univ Colo as their temporary, visiting conservative.
I don't know if this is sad, funny, an admission of guilt or encouraging. I will go with the latter. Univ of Colo, was recently the comfortable home of Prof. Ward Churchill [Americans killed on 9/11 deserve their fate because they were participants in the capitalist system. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,146031,00.html#ixzz2NcjZ4FUP] Churchill was fired for research misconduct, not for his outrageous statements.
The campus of 32,000 students and 3,800 tenured and tenure-eligible faculty could use a resident scholar of conservative thought and policy — maybe two or three... A survey conducted at the University of Colorado found only 23 of 825 faculty respondents self-identified as Republicans.
Hayward announces that UC "agreed with my insistence that they not set up a separate “conservative studies” program that would implicitly ratify the separatism (or “ghettoization”) of gender studies, etc. Instead, I’ll be working in and through the political science department, teaching regular catalogue courses (one of them will be the two-semester sequence of Con Law I & II for undergraduates)."
"it may be that the folks at Colorado see conservative thought and policy as a sort of historical artifact — something that will help students understand why almost all of their professors have embraced progressive ideas and liberal solutions to our personal and social challenges."
"Regrettably, it is likely that Hayward’s classes will become a refuge for conservative students in search of relief from the liberal condescension that rolls effortlessly off the tongues of many faculty members. But liberal students of a truly liberal mind will not be disappointed if they register for a Hayward class. They might be challenged, they might be outraged, but they will not be disappointed. Unfortunately, whatever Colorado accomplishes with this little experiment, it is a blip on the radar screen of the national academy."
The Breitbart story in particular is loaded with links.
"How accurate is his reporting? Does he deserve his legendary status? I believe I can offer some interesting answers to those questions."... "he’d put down the mechanics of the story more or less as they’d happened. But he’d so mangled the meaning and the context that his version had nothing to do with what I concluded had actually transpired." "The wrongness in Woodward’s reporting is always ever so subtle." "Again, Woodward’s account is not wrong. It’s just … wrong." "Like a funhouse mirror, Woodward’s prose distorts what it purports to reflect." "Bob Woodward, deploying all of the talent and resources for which he is famous, produced something that is a failure as journalism."
Woodward's employer, the Washington Post owns Slate.
WSJ CHINA NEWS (not the opinion section) March 13, 2013, 8:19 a.m. ET
For Xi, a 'China Dream' of Military Power
By JEREMY PAGE
BEIJING—Soon after taking over as Communist Party and military chief, Xi Jinping launched a series of speeches referring to "The China Dream."
Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping visited the destroyer Haikou in December and spoke of the 'dream of a strong military.'
It was music to the ears of Col. Liu Mingfu of the People's Liberation Army.
Three years ago, the former professor at its National Defense University wrote a book of the same name, arguing that China should aim to surpass the U.S. as the world's top military power and predicting a marathon contest for global dominion. The book flew off the shelves but was pulled over concerns it could damage relations with the U.S., according to people familiar with its publication.
The day after Mr. Xi's first "China Dream" speech, however, Col. Liu's publisher called to say he had gotten approval to launch a new edition. Now, it is on display in the "recommended books" section of a state-run bookstore.
"I don't know if he read the book, but he has sent a strong message," Col. Liu said in an interview at his apartment here, leaping to his feet with excitement to leaf through letters of support. "He could have grasped the economy, or some social issues, but instead he grasped the military."
As Mr. Xi prepares to add Chinese president to his other titles on Thursday, during a parliament meeting that caps a once-a-decade leadership change, "The China Dream" has become his signature. Officially defined as the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, it in some ways echoes previous leaders dating back to the Qing Dynasty's collapse in 1912. But Mr. Xi is making the idea his own by giving it a strikingly military flavor. Related Video
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"This dream can be said to be the dream of a strong nation. And for the military, it is a dream of a strong military," Mr. Xi told sailors in December on board the Haikou, a guided-missile destroyer that has patrolled disputed waters in the South China Sea. "To achieve the great revival of the Chinese nation, we must ensure there is unison between a prosperous country and strong military."
Mr. Xi has also made high-profile visits to army, air force, space program and missile command facilities in his first 100 days in office, something neither of his two immediate predecessors did. He has taken personal control of China's military response to a newly inflamed territorial dispute with Japan. And he has launched a campaign to enhance the armed forces' capacity to "fight and win wars."
All this leads many diplomats, party insiders and analysts to believe Mr. Xi is casting himself as a strong military leader at home and embracing a more hawkish worldview long outlined by generals who think the U.S. is in decline and China will become the dominant military power in Asia by midcentury.
In doing so, they say, Mr. Xi is setting the stage for a prolonged period of tension between China and its neighbors, as well as for a potentially dangerous tussle for influence with a U.S. that is intent on reasserting its role as the dominant Pacific power.
He has even set a precise date for the fulfillment of his dream: 2049, the 100th anniversary of the Communist takeover of China.
No doubt Mr. Xi has a domestic political agenda. As the son of a revolutionary leader, he has strong family ties to the military and a keen appreciation for its role in elite Chinese politics. In another speech, he made clear he believes the Soviet Union collapsed largely because the Soviet Communist Party lost command of the military.
Some believe Mr. Xi is trying to build support among China's powerful generals as a prelude to launching potentially disruptive economic and other reforms, including moves to curb corruption within the military itself. Others suspect he is trying to distract attention from problems that could derail Chinese growth, especially official corruption and abuse of power, an issue highlighted by the Bo Xilai scandal last year.
More broadly, Mr. Xi is determined to set himself apart from his predecessor, Hu Jintao, who was popularly viewed as relatively weak and colorless, say party insiders, family friends, diplomats and analysts.
Whatever his domestic goals, Mr. Xi's military posturing represents a clear break with the past that has potentially profound implications for China's foreign and defense policies.
"I think this reflects Xi's mind-set, his view of China's strength and relations with the outside world," said Li Mingjiang, an assistant professor and China security-policy expert at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. "Given his close personal ties, a lot of the information and policy suggestions he gets come from the military."
For three decades, the foundation of China's international relations has been the principle of taoguang yanghui—"hiding capabilities and biding one's time"—which was promoted by the late leader Deng Xiaoping.
Jiang Zemin, who became party and military chief in 1989 but had little authority over the generals until Mr. Deng's death in 1997, eventually won them over with defense-spending increases but kept them focused on building the capacity to defend borders and retake Taiwan.
After Mr. Hu became party chief in 2002, he kept a low military profile, not least because Mr. Jiang remained commander-in-chief until 2004. He focused on China's "peaceful rise," a term later toned down to "peaceful development." Although Mr. Hu encouraged the military to take on broader responsibilities, such as cybersecurity, he stressed their defensive nature.
By contrast, Mr. Xi has quickly asserted his authority over the 11-man Central Military Commission, on which he is the sole civilian. Among his first moves was to issue orders for the armed forces to focus on "real combat" and "fighting and winning wars," suggesting to many observers preparation for conflict beyond China's borders.
Mr. Xi also has added a qualification to Mr. Hu's signature foreign-policy idea: "We will stick to the road of peaceful development," he recently told the Politburo, according to the Xinhua news agency, "but we absolutely will not abandon our legitimate rights and interests, and absolutely cannot sacrifice core national interests." In China, the "core interests" term is taken to mean issues of sovereignty over which China would be prepared to go to war.
Mr. Xi has backed up his words with actions, overseeing a military response to the territorial dispute with Japan that included scrambling Chinese fighter jets and, according to Japanese and U.S. officials, locking weapons-guiding radar onto a Japanese ship and helicopter. Chinese officials deny those incidents.
"The Chinese are making up their own rules," said one U.S. military official, who described the radar incidents as "a serious escalation."
Mr. Xi's words and actions have played well with the Chinese public, as well as with military hawks like "China Dream" author Col. Liu. He and other outspoken officers don't reflect official policy but play an important part in molding public opinion, and do reflect the mind-set of more senior commanders, analysts say.
Col. Liu's book has a preface by Gen. Liu Yazhou, the political commissar of the National Defense University. "In my opinion," the general writes, "the competition between China and the U.S. in the 21st century should be a race, that is, a contest to see whose development results are better, whose comprehensive national power can rise faster, and to finally decide who can become the champion country to lead world progress."
Gen. Liu is among a small group of officers who have met regularly in private with Mr. Xi and helped to shape his strategic worldview, say people familiar with the matter.
For three years or so, many U.S. and Asian officials have attributed China's more assertive behavior, especially on territorial issues, partly to military hawks exerting pressure on a weak civilian leadership through the media, academia and informal lobbying channels.
Now those U.S. and Asian officials' concern is that Mr. Xi, while establishing clear authority over China's generals, has endorsed the more muscular approach to international relations, and a more prominent role for the military in China's development. Since his speech aboard the destroyer, China's military newspapers have been peppered with references to the "dream of a strong military" and the need for "combat readiness."
The PLA's General Staff Office published an article in Qiushi, the official journal of the party's Central Committee, in February that said: "History and reality show us that what determines the political and economic pattern of the world is, in the final analysis, a comparison of great powers' strength, and ultimately depends on force."
The PLA has also issued instructions for training to focus on real combat. Recently it for the first time published a schedule of exercises for the year, which will consist of 40 drills involving joint air-land combat and live fire operations on the open sea.
"Make no mistake, the PRC Navy is focused on war at sea and about sinking an opposing fleet," said Capt. James Fanell, deputy chief of staff for intelligence and information operations for the U.S. Pacific Fleet, at the U.S. Naval Institute in January. "In terms of their ultimate goals, they write a lot about national rejuvenation—restoration of China's rightful place. Well, we have to say: What does that mean? Where were they when they were back in their rightful place?"
For PLA commanders, according to many analysts, the dream of a strong military means securing the defense-spending increases needed to fund costly weapons programs such as aircraft carriers and stealth fighter jets, even as economic growth slows over the next decade.
The PLA has been focused for much of the past decade on developing and deploying the weapons it believes it needs to deny U.S. forces access to waters around China's shores. But while wary of entering an arms race with the U.S., it is increasingly preoccupied with enhancing capabilities to operate farther afield and establishing China as a maritime power.
"Even a blind man could see there is going to be a butter-versus-guns debate not far down the road," said Kenneth Lieberthal, an expert on Chinese politics at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
Many Chinese and foreign analysts see Mr. Xi's military stance, especially regarding the territorial dispute with Japan, as a direct response to the U.S. "pivot" toward Asia.
The short-term aim, those analysts say, is to discourage countries that have territorial disputes with China from feeling emboldened by the U.S. strategy of focusing more on Asia. Longer term, the goal is to convince the U.S. that the strategy is unsustainable, given financial pressures on the Pentagon and China's expanding power.
"China's strength can play a positive role in the region," said Xu Guangyu, a retired PLA general and now a senior researcher at the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association. "It's a strategic mistake for the U.S. to rely on Japan for its rebalancing in Asia."
One U.S. military adviser said Chinese military strategists see China becoming the dominant power in Asia by midcentury, by which time they believe the world will be divided into spheres of influence dominated by at least four great powers: China, the U.S., the European Union and Russia.
That view also appears to be reflected in Mr. Xi's main foreign-policy initiative, which is a proposal to redefine China's relationship with the U.S. as one between equal "great powers."
U.S. officials and analysts are still waiting for details about the proposal. But many foreign governments fear it is an attempt to curb U.S. influence in Asia, in much the way the U.S. sought to restrict European meddling in the Americas with the Monroe Doctrine in the early 19th century.
War remains an unlikely prospect, say most observers. Even Col. Liu, whose next book is titled "Why the People's Liberation Army Can Win," didn't predict war in "The China Dream," seeing instead a protracted competition that Beijing is destined to win.
Lee Kuan Yew, the former Singaporean leader, has said that Chinese leaders recognize they can't confront the U.S. militarily until they have overtaken it in terms of the development and application of technology. Nonetheless, he says he is sure they aspire to displace the U.S. as the leading power in Asia.
"The 21st century will be a contest for supremacy in the Pacific because that is where the growth will be," Mr. Lee was quoted as saying in a recently published book. "If the U.S. does not hold its ground in the Pacific, it cannot be a world leader."
By JAMES TARANTO WSJ opinion excerpt ... At issue is a subway ad campaign by the New York City Department of Social Services. It features photos of grumpy-looking infants (carefully chosen for racial diversity), captioned by messages to their putative parents, written in a toddler-like scrawl. Examples: "Dad, you'll be paying to support me for the next 20 years." "Honestly Mom . . . chances are he won't stay with you. What happens to me?" "If you finish high school, get a job, and get married before having children, you have a 98% chance of not being in poverty." Viewers of the ad are invited to "text 'NOTNOW' to 877877 for the real cost of teen pregnancy."
"The campaign pulls no punches," writes Goff, though in fact it pulls a very large punch by defining the problem as "teen pregnancy" rather than illegitimate childbearing. If an 18-year-old woman marries and has a child, that's almost certainly better for society, and for the child, than if she waits until she's 20 and gives birth out of wedlock.
Goff describes the opposition to the Bloomberg ad campaign:
Well, according to Planned Parenthood, "The latest NYC ad campaign creates stigma, hostility and negative public opinions about teen pregnancy and parenthood rather than offering alternative aspirations for young people." I'm not sure where to start with this lunacy. First off, I thought that as one of the nation's leading sexual-health organizations, Planned Parenthood would focus on decreasing the number of unplanned pregnancies, not celebrating and encouraging them. Did I miss something?
Did you ever! Planned Parenthood may describe itself as a "health organization," but in reality it is an ideological outfit. It is committed to the idea of "reproductive rights" that belong only to women. In the 1992 case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, for instance, the group persuaded the Supreme Court that a married woman has a constitutional right to abort her husband's child without telling him.
If men have no reproductive rights, it follows logically that they have no reproductive responsibilities. That's an abstract formulation, and one with which the law is often inconsistent: Family courts frequently attempt to hold men responsible for their offspring (though that poster slogan "Dad, you'll be paying to support me for the next 20 years" almost surely makes a false promise to Mom).
But culturally this logic has proved irresistible. In a 1996 study published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics and excerpted by the Brookings Institution, George Akerloff and Janet Yellin found that the introduction of the pill, which gave women control over the reproductive process, freed men from the sense that they were responsible for it. The result was the breakdown of the tradition of the shotgun wedding. Before, it was understood that if a man impregnated a woman, he would marry her. Now, it's up to her to exercise her "reproductive rights" and get an abortion--or to keep the baby and assume primary responsibility for it. Even if a court docks the man for child support, the burden is much greater on the woman.
The contemporary problem of illegitimacy, then, is largely the consequence of Planned Parenthood's ideology of female "reproductive rights" and the technology that made it feasible. Planned Parenthood's hostility toward any effort to tackle, or even acknowledge, the problem is anything but coincidental.
The ad campaign's focus on "teen pregnancy" rather than illegitimacy illustrates a class bias. The two may seem more or less interchangeable inasmuch as the idea of marrying and starting a family at 18 is today virtually unthinkable within the educated class. Today's privileged woman is expected to follow a life script in which high school is followed by college and a career. In that script, a period of sexual and romantic experimentation begins in college or before (made possible thanks to contraception, with abortion available as a Plan C), and marriage and children are expected to wait until after she is established in her career.
The "98%" poster alludes to that life script and makes the dubious supposition that following it--at least if one leaves out college--is realistic for all women. But an important reason women bear children out of wedlock is because they don't expect to find husbands. That's true of some educated older women, who take the plunge into single motherhood as the biological clock approaches its final tick with no suitors in sight. But in society's lower strata, even young women have limited marital prospects.
The illegitimacy rate among black Americans began to reach troubling levels even before the pill and the sexual revolution. "Both white and Negro illegitimacy rates have been increasing, although from dramatically different bases," observed Daniel Patrick Moynihan in his famous 1965 report. "The white rate was 2 percent in 1940; it was 3.07 percent in 1963. In that period, the Negro rate went from 16.8 percent to 23.6 percent." The black illegitimacy rate now approaches 75%; the white rate is higher than the black rate was in the 1960s.
Why were blacks a leading indicator of this disturbing trend? The common explanations are racism, poverty and alleged shortcomings in "black culture." In their 1983 book, "Too Many Women? The Sex Ratio Question," Marcia Guttentag and Paul Secord largely reject those hypotheses: "So far as we have been able to ascertain, the social conditions that we report all follow from demographic features of the black population."
The central demographic feature was a low sex ratio--that is, a shortage of men--among urban blacks: "In 1930, four-fifths of all black families lived in the South, and most were rural." By 1960, less than 60% of black families were Southern and more than 75% of all blacks lived in cities. But more women than men moved to the cities. The low sex ratio was further lowered by black men's high propensity to join the military or end up in prison and by the high rates of infant mortality among blacks (boys are more apt than girls to die during childhood).
Guttentag and Secord explained:
Predictions for the cluster of social, sexual, and cultural consequences of low sex ratio demography include the following: black men would be reluctant to make a long-term marital commitment to one woman throughout her childbearing years; black men would be reluctant to marry and to invest in parenthood; black men would have a number of women sequentially or simultaneously; sexual libertarianism would be the ethos, and illegitimate births would be common; brief sexual liaisons with black men would be frequent; black male attitudes would be misogynistic; women would not be highly valued or respected; sex roles would be less differentiated; and black women would seek and possibly achieve economic, social and sexual independence for themselves, rather than acquiring economic or social status through marriage. . . .
To avoid any misunderstanding, let us . . . emphasize that none of these social consequences has anything to do with being black. . . . Our position is that the same social consequences would follow for a white population having similarly low sex ratios and similar accentuating conditions.
Sex ratios are not sufficient to explain the subsequent explosion of illegitimacy across the population, but sex-ratio theory helps explain how another social revolution of the 1960s--feminism, in this context meaning female careerism--contributed.
As this column has repeatedly noted, women are hypergamous, which means that their instinct is to be attracted to men of higher status than themselves. When the societywide status of women increases relative to men, the effect is to diminish the pool of suitable men for any given woman. If most women reject most men as not good enough for them, the effect is no different from that of a low sex ratio. High-status men, being in short supply, set the terms of relationships, resulting in libertine sexual mores and higher illegitimacy.
Suppose Bloomberg's ad campaign is successful at inducing a large number of lower-class teenage women to stay in school, pursue careers, and forgo childbearing until marriage. If they succeed in school and work, they will find their marital prospects further limited by competition from other successful women. The problem of illegitimacy isn't soluble through moral suasion. The sexual and feminist revolutions are so deeply embedded in American culture and law that it may not be tractable at all.
Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland: "So let me get it — let me get it straight. Under the president’s cut of $58 million to the 317 program, you think you could get around that to avoid cutting vaccines to children, but under a sequester ($30 million 'cut'), that the president blames on Republicans, you don’t know if you can do that?"
Tom Frieden, Director of the Centers for Disease Control: We’re going to do everything we can to limit any damage that occurs because of the across-the-board cut, but it reduces our flexibility significantly.
In Obama's third term maybe he will look to a Keystone pipeline protestor to head the Pacific fleet, or someone with a meteorology or IPCC background instead of military.
Admiral Locklear: “It is not just about China and everybody else, because there are disputes between other partners down there, too. Sometimes I think the Chinese get handled a little too roughly on this.”
The Holocaust Just Got More Shocking Published: March 1, 2013 Sunday New York Times
THIRTEEN years ago, researchers at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum began the grim task of documenting all the ghettos, slave labor sites, concentration camps and killing factories that the Nazis set up throughout Europe.
What they have found so far has shocked even scholars steeped in the history of the Holocaust.
The researchers have cataloged some 42,500 Nazi ghettos and camps throughout Europe, spanning German-controlled areas from France to Russia and Germany itself, during Hitler’s reign of brutality from 1933 to 1945.
The figure is so staggering that even fellow Holocaust scholars had to make sure they had heard it correctly when the lead researchers previewed their findings at an academic forum in late January at the German Historical Institute in Washington.
“The numbers are so much higher than what we originally thought,” Hartmut Berghoff, director of the institute, said in an interview after learning of the new data.
“We knew before how horrible life in the camps and ghettos was,” he said, “but the numbers are unbelievable.”
The documented camps include not only “killing centers” but also thousands of forced labor camps, where prisoners manufactured war supplies; prisoner-of-war camps; sites euphemistically named “care” centers, where pregnant women were forced to have abortions or their babies were killed after birth; and brothels, where women were coerced into having sex with German military personnel.
Auschwitz and a handful of other concentration camps have come to symbolize the Nazi killing machine in the public consciousness. Likewise, the Nazi system for imprisoning Jewish families in hometown ghettos has become associated with a single site — the Warsaw Ghetto, famous for the 1943 uprising. But these sites, infamous though they are, represent only a minuscule fraction of the entire German network, the new research makes painfully clear.
The maps the researchers have created to identify the camps and ghettos turn wide sections of wartime Europe into black clusters of death, torture and slavery — centered in Germany and Poland, but reaching in all directions.
The lead editors on the project, Geoffrey Megargee and Martin Dean, estimate that 15 million to 20 million people died or were imprisoned in the sites that they have identified as part of a multivolume encyclopedia. (The Holocaust museum has published the first two, with five more planned by 2025.)
The existence of many individual camps and ghettos was previously known only on a fragmented, region-by-region basis. But the researchers, using data from some 400 contributors, have been documenting the entire scale for the first time, studying where they were located, how they were run, and what their purpose was.
The brutal experience of Henry Greenbaum, an 84-year-old Holocaust survivor who lives outside Washington, typifies the wide range of Nazi sites.
When Mr. Greenbaum, a volunteer at the Holocaust museum, tells visitors today about his wartime odyssey, listeners inevitably focus on his confinement of months at Auschwitz, the most notorious of all the camps.
But the images of the other camps where the Nazis imprisoned him are ingrained in his memory as deeply as the concentration camp number — A188991 — tattooed on his left forearm.
In an interview, he ticked off the locations in rapid fire, the details still vivid.
First came the Starachowice ghetto in his hometown in Poland, where the Germans herded his family and other local Jews in 1940, when he was just 12.
Next came a slave labor camp with six-foot-high fences outside the town, where he and a sister were moved while the rest of the family was sent to die at Treblinka. After his regular work shift at a factory, the Germans would force him and other prisoners to dig trenches that were used for dumping the bodies of victims. He was sent to Auschwitz, then removed to work at a chemical manufacturing plant in Poland known as Buna Monowitz, where he and some 50 other prisoners who had been held at the main camp at Auschwitz were taken to manufacture rubber and synthetic oil. And last was another slave labor camp at Flossenbürg, near the Czech border, where food was so scarce that the weight on his 5-foot-8-inch frame fell away to less than 100 pounds.
By the age of 17, Mr. Greenbaum had been enslaved in five camps in five years, and was on his way to a sixth, when American soldiers freed him in 1945. “Nobody even knows about these places,” Mr. Greenbaum said. “Everything should be documented. That’s very important. We try to tell the youngsters so that they know, and they’ll remember.”
The research could have legal implications as well by helping a small number of survivors document their continuing claims over unpaid insurance policies, looted property, seized land and other financial matters.
“HOW many claims have been rejected because the victims were in a camp that we didn’t even know about?” asked Sam Dubbin, a Florida lawyer who represents a group of survivors who are seeking to bring claims against European insurance companies.
Dr. Megargee, the lead researcher, said the project was changing the understanding among Holocaust scholars of how the camps and ghettos evolved.
As early as 1933, at the start of Hitler’s reign, the Third Reich established about 110 camps specifically designed to imprison some 10,000 political opponents and others, the researchers found. As Germany invaded and began occupying European neighbors, the use of camps and ghettos was expanded to confine and sometimes kill not only Jews but also homosexuals, Gypsies, Poles, Russians and many other ethnic groups in Eastern Europe. The camps and ghettos varied enormously in their mission, organization and size, depending on the Nazis’ needs, the researchers have found.
The biggest site identified is the infamous Warsaw Ghetto, which held about 500,000 people at its height. But as few as a dozen prisoners worked at one of the smallest camps, the München-Schwabing site in Germany. Small groups of prisoners were sent there from the Dachau concentration camp under armed guard. They were reportedly whipped and ordered to do manual labor at the home of a fervent Nazi patron known as “Sister Pia,” cleaning her house, tending her garden and even building children’s toys for her.
When the research began in 2000, Dr. Megargee said he expected to find perhaps 7,000 Nazi camps and ghettos, based on postwar estimates. But the numbers kept climbing — first to 11,500, then 20,000, then 30,000, and now 42,500.
The numbers astound: 30,000 slave labor camps; 1,150 Jewish ghettos; 980 concentration camps; 1,000 prisoner-of-war camps; 500 brothels filled with sex slaves; and thousands of other camps used for euthanizing the elderly and infirm, performing forced abortions, “Germanizing” prisoners or transporting victims to killing centers.
In Berlin alone, researchers have documented some 3,000 camps and so-called Jew houses, while Hamburg held 1,300 sites. (more at link above)
My column today refreshes your memories of radical assistant attorney general for Obama’s DOJ civil rights division, Thomas Perez. As icing on the corrupto-cake, here’s a brand-spanking — emphasis on spanking — new DOJ Inspector General’s report on the racialist foul play at Perez’s bureau, where “polarization and mistrust” reign.
Former DOJ attorney and brave whistleblower J. Christian Adams has much more. He writes:
The 250-page report offers an inside glimpse of systemic racialist dysfunction inside one of the most powerful federal government agencies.
The report was prepared in response to Representative Frank Wolf’s (R-VA) outrage over the New Black Panther voter intimidation dismissal. In response to the report, Rep. Wolf said today, the “report makes clear that the division has become a rat’s nest of unacceptable and unprofessional actions, and even outright threats against career attorneys and systemic mismanagement.”
Former Voting Section Chief Chris Coates and I both testified about the hostility towards race-neutral law enforcement by the Justice Department.
Today’s report paints a disgusting portrait, confirming our accounts.
Roll over or stand up to this injustice, GOP? Your move.
Obama’s Nominee for Secretary of (Illegal Alien) Labor by Michelle Malkin
The Beltway is buzzing over President Obama’s likely nomination of Thomas E. Perez as the next head of the U.S. Department of Labor. But when Americans find out whom Perez has lobbied for most aggressively over the course of his extremist leftwing social justice career, they’ll be wondering which country Obama’s pick really plans to serve.
Press accounts describe Perez, currently the assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s civil rights division, as a “tireless advocate of worker and civil rights.” The son of immigrants from the Dominican Republic, Perez was a former special counsel for the late illegal alien amnesty champion Sen. Ted Kennedy.
During the Clinton years, Perez worked at the Justice Department to establish a “Worker Exploitation Task Force” to enhance working conditions for … illegal alien workers. While holding down his government position, Perez volunteered for Casa de Maryland. This notorious illegal alien advocacy group is funded through a combination of taxpayer-subsidized grants (totaling $5 million in 2010 alone from Maryland and local governments) and radical liberal philanthropy, including billionaire George Soros’ Open Society Institute.
That’s in addition to more than $1 million showered on the group by freshly departed Venezuelan thug Hugo Chavez’s regime-owned oil company, CITGO.
As I’ve reported previously, Perez rose from Casa de Maryland volunteer to president of the group’s board of directors. Under the guise of enhancing the “multicultural” experience, he crusaded for an ever-expanding set of illegal alien benefits, from in-state tuition discounts for illegal alien students to driver’s licenses and tax-subsidized day labor centers. Casa de Maryland opposes enforcement of deportation orders, has protested post-9/11 coordination of local, state and national criminal databases, and produced a “know your rights” propaganda pamphlet for illegal aliens that depicted federal immigration agents as armed bullies making babies cry.
The group can claim credit for pushing the White House to issue an estimated 800,000 illegal alien deportation waivers by executive fiat. And now, Casa de Maryland is currently leading the charge for an even broader illegal alien “path to citizenship.”
Questioned by GOP Sen. Jeff Sessions during his DOJ confirmation hearing in 2009 about the illegal alien rights guide produced by Casa de Maryland, Perez grudgingly stated that “the civil rights division must not act in contravention to valid enforcement actions of our federal immigration laws.”
But “act(ing) in contravention” of the law is at the heart of Perez’s and Casa’s radicalism — and not just on behalf of illegal aliens.
During his tenure with the Obama DOJ, Perez sought to undermine electoral integrity by attacking South Carolina’s voter ID law. His race card antics were rebuked by a unanimous U.S. District Court panel (which included a Clinton appointee), and the law prevailed.
Perez was instrumental in covering the backsides of the militant New Black Panther Party thugs who menaced voters and poll watchers in Philadelphia in 2008. The American Spectator’s Quin Hillyer recounted that a federal judge challenged the veracity of Perez’s testimony about DOJ political appointees’ interference on behalf of the Panthers. “This came after Perez also had, apparently unlawfully, refused to honor valid subpoenas from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights — and it was in addition to yet another falsehood by Perez, this one to the effect that DOJ had sought the maximum allowable penalty against the Panthers,” Hillyer reported. “While the original decision to dismiss the case pre-dated Perez’s appointment to the Justice Department, his direct involvement in, and hands-on management of, what amounted to a cover-up of the decision’s origins should alone be disqualifying for any Cabinet post.”
Perez also helped spearhead the lawsuit against Arizona over its immigration enforcement measures and launched a three-year DOJ witch-hunt against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The vengeful investigation against Arpaio, the nation’s most outspoken local law enforcement official against illegal alien crime, was dropped without charges last summer. Perez is leading similar witch-hunts against police departments across the country based on leftwing junk science theories about racial “disparate impacts.”
With Senate Republicans John McCain, Lindsey Graham and company folding like lawn chairs on Obamamnesty, open-borders groups are thrilled at the prospect of another victory with Perez’s nomination.
Last week, conservatives stood with Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., over John Brennan’s nomination as CIA director. Who will stand for American workers in opposition to Obama’s pending secretary of illegal alien labor? Anyone?
"I am comparing where I was at the last peak to where I am now"
That makes sense. A share of a global company is not entirely a dollar (or any other currency) based asset. You are buying in a sense a piece of their market share in a global industry. That involves plenty of risk but is better than holding dollars guaranteed to go down in value while earning 0% interest. The post calculating the Dow in gold terms or silver instead of dollars illustrates that we aren't really moving forward, just trying to slow the rate of moving backward. For me it is real estate. By buying low, buying smart and adding value i believe I can still yield after-inflation appreciation of zero over the long run which is sadly better than most dollar-based assets.
Wesbury closes with: "We still expect more inflation in the trade sector in the year ahead due to loose monetary policy."
For an eternal optimist, that is quite a candid warning. -------------------------------------------------------------
G M posted yesterday: Why America's middle class is losing ground 'milk up 70 cents from what she paid last year' - plus gas up 50 cents.
G M, Core CPI 'excludes goods with high price volatility, such as food and energy'. Those prices didn't go up for her, they are just "volatile".
Payroll tax rate went up too, I wonder where they figure that in the consumer price index.
"Full-time employment is one casualty of the recession"
Full time employment is a casualty of Obamacare as well. Companies no longer expected to hire full time or pay benefits should mean stocks going up even further.
Good points. Just saying that in total there is plenty of trouble brewing out there. We lived through a pretty big crash or two. Hard to carry that experience and face the current scenario with no fear or doubt.
Everyone leaves money on the table when we measure exact trough to peak. That is not a fair measurement. Anyone all-in since the summer of 2009 was probably in for the losses of 2008 as well.
""Ashley Judd is cute and smart, charismatic I presume. , , ,Mitch McConnell comes across old, worn out and has lousy approval numbers"
Hard to think of a worse face for the Reps than MMcC or a less articulate communicator for that matter and contrast that with a pretty, professional liar-- excuse me I meant actress-- who has been an appealing figure in many movies that many women have seen. If AJ has a Harvard masters degree in public affairs, she may be utterly wrong on the issues, but she is no bimbo.
John Kerry running for President fell into a trap. He was too liberal for the country and had already been pegged as a flip flopper. The only way he could alleviate the too liberal charge was further toward flipflopper, and lose either way.
Ashley Judd's views are off the charts liberal: "It's unconscionable to breed with the number of children who are starving to death in impoverished countries." For one thing I wonder how many families call it "breeding".
What is refreshing in a liberal like Ashley Judd is the purity of their views. A beautiful actress working with impoverished kids doesn't have to compromise. But if she tries to move toward the political center of Kentucky the purity will be gone and she will have to answer like Mitt Romney for the contradictions from previous positions and statements.
Interesting point made by one of the talk pundits: Do you notice what President Obama and then-Sec. of State Hillary Clinton both call the deceased ambassador?
Not Mr. Stevens, not Ambassador Stevens, never Ambassador Christopher Stevens. They call him Chris. First name only. Buddy to buddy. Nobody knew him better, except maybe his wife and kids. Barack and Hillary, I wonder if he called them by their first names too. Closest of friends, probably would be golfing together right now if he was around.
Yet 'Chris' couldn't get a message about security through to either one of them over a period of many months to save his life.
Well, I'd be damn near 100% ahead of where I am now if I hadn't listened to me , , ,
Hindsight not being 20/20...
If you knew in advance 4 years ago that the growth rate coming out of the worst economy in memory would be 0.8% dropping to 0.1% in the last quarter, if you knew Europe would be in near collapse, if you knew we would leave two wars without real victory, that we would be under heavy cyber-attacks from China who is still supporting North Korea while they go nuclear and threaten to hit America, if you knew Russia would return to a Soviet-like stance, with Putin stronger than Brezhnev and Obama more eager than Carter to give away American defense, if you knew of the unrest in nuclear armed Pakistan and that Iran was a minute away from going nuclear too, the Muslim Brotherhood running Egypt, civil war in Syria, if you knew we would get hit with another deadly embassy attack this time in Libya, if you knew the trillion dollar deficits would go on for 4 years and counting, that we wouldn't even sell bonds to cover our debt, workers leaving the labor force exceed all new jobs coming back and that the Fed would be diluting our dollar by trillions, that U6 unemployment figured at the old labor participation rate would be 20%, that Obama would be reelected and taxes would be raised on the rich and the poor...
If you knew all that, except for the rise in the Dow, perfectly in hindsight, would you have gone all-in to the stock market?
If you add to the above that the Dow has already gone up for all this time yet we still have all this hanging over us plus Obamacare kicking in, steep tax hikes in largest state, amnesty next, and the lowest business startup rate in our history, would you go all in now?
Or would a rational person be a little bit skeptical?
Thanks Bigdog. This link: http://www.buzzfeed.com/rubycramer/how-ashley-judd-can-win tells 'How Ashley Judd Can Win', but they compare what she needs to do in conservative Kentucky with what Al Franken did to win his 0.0% victory in liberal Minnesota. Franken was actually to the right of Obama and his fellow Dem. Senator Amy Klobuchar.
Ashley Judd is cute and smart, charismatic I presume. She is also extremely liberal, perhaps to the left of Obama. The carpet bagger attacks may get old but the idiological questions will not.
Mitch McConnell comes across old, worn out and has lousy approval numbers. The challenge for Judd and any Democrat is that there will be serious liberal vs. conservative questions at stake and Romney beat Obama in 2012 in KY by roughly 60-38%. Conservatives and libertarians tired of McConnell will see Rand Paul at his side with his own national reputation on the line trying to deliver a Republican victory in his home state.
Based on the analysis in BD's second link, tying Dems nationally to some of her statements and tying Democrats in KY to the Obama agenda, I hope she runs.
My stellar opinion of Wesbury keeps slipping: "Real GDP increased just 0.1% in Q4 2012". - A steady trot? Not really.
"jobless rate slipping to 7.7%": - More people left the workforce than found jobs.
The labor force participation decline is largely demographic? Okay, then what positive force offsets that?
"Stocks have surged with the S&P 500 hitting our year-end 2012 forecast of 1475 just two weeks behind schedule, in mid-January." - From this thread: If you bought gold instead of Dow Jones stocks at the start of year 2000, you could keep 3/4 of your gold and buy the same quantity of the same stocks today with just 1/4 of your gold. Stocks have surged is a rear view mirror indicator.
He mixes his lipstick-on-a-pig view of the US economy with optimism for the index of global companies. Hard to draw conclusions from that. We must admit that if this market held up through the Obama reelection, the fiscal cliff, at least two tax increases on the people own the most stocks, and 0.1% quarterly growth, then it should handle spending restraint and a country coming into spring and summer - until some external shock hits and selling panic ensues.
The market I believe will continue to go up or hold fairly constant - right up until it starts to go down again.
Also looking forward to discussion on the questions Crafty posed.
Happily married people ask how the gay marriage issue could possibly affect their marriage. Obj's proposal illuminates that. First we define marriage to not mean marriage, then make it unrecognized altogether.
The federal government is already shifting to parent-one, parent-two designations, removing recognition of basic natural phenomena like mother and father as fast as they can. Why only two parents or spouses, politicians and bureaucrats only know.
Like Barack Obama, my own thinking has evolved. Somewhere between 2 and 3% of people are gay. Condemnation of that is not helpful. Everyone has the right of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.
Denying the unique relationship of a man and a woman becoming husband and wife is not helpful either. Nor is dropping a societal preference that a child have a mother and a father in love, married and living under one roof whenever possible.
I have tried hard to describe how the principles of supply side economics center around all the things we can logically do to grow a healthy economy. To that, people yawn and move on. Perhaps more persuasive is the opposite - identify all the things you could do to weaken a healthy economy, then look at the anti-growth and prosperity agenda being implemented here in the U.S.
...there are plenty of ways to slow down even an inherently strong economy. History offers plenty of examples. But as more contemporary models, take your pick of successfully ruined economies — the Venezuelan, the Cuban, the North Korean, the Greek, the Italian, the Portuguese, or pretty much any from Mediterranean Africa to the Cape of Good Hope. There are certain commonalities about why and how they fail. Let’s review some of them.
The state can never be too big. Ensure that it is unaccountable and intrusive, in constant need of more money and more targets to regulate. The more government, the more people are shielded from the capital-creating, free-market system. Think the DMV or TSA, not Apple. The point is for an employee to spend each labor hour with less oversight, while regulating or hampering profit-making, rather than competing with like kind to create material wealth. Regulatory bodies are a two-fer: the more federal, union employees, the more regulations to hamper the private sector. The more federal mandates, like new health-care requirements and financial reporting, the less employers profit and the fewer employees they can hire. Washington should be a growth city, absolutely immune from the downturn elsewhere, a sort of huge and growing octopus head with decaying tentacles. State jobs should be redefined as something partisan — whose expansion is noble and helps the helpless, and whose contraction is evil and the design of a bitter and aging white private-sector class.
On the other end of the equation, ensuring 50 million on food stamps, putting over 80,000 a month on Social Security disability insurance, and extending unemployment insurance to tens of millions all remind the jobless that life is not too bad (thanks to the government), and certainly a lot better than working at a “low-paid” job that equates to giving up federal support. To paraphrase Paul Krugman, the more and the longer the jobless receive, the less likely they are to take chances looking for a job. That too might be again a good thing if you wish to slow down the economy. In general, even Arnold Toynbee, a man of the Left, acknowledged that the greedy drive of the scrambling private sector was not as pernicious to civilizations as the collective ennui produced by vast cadres of lethargic and unaccountable public “servants” doing supposedly noble work.
To ensure capriciousness and unpredictability for both suspect employers and investors, make the law malleable, even unpredictable from day to day, in the style of an Argentina or Venezuela. Redefine the law as what is deemed socially useful. For federally subsidized bankrupt auto companies, creditors should be paid back on the basis not of contractual law, but of nobility — why borrow to give a rich man a return on his superfluous investment, when a retired auto worker might have to pay a higher health care premium? Boeing wants to open a non-union plant in South Carolina? Have the NLRB try to stop it (and illegally staff the NLRB with recess appointments). Illegal aliens? They are neither illegal nor aliens, as federal immigration law is itself a capricious construct. Does the Senate really have to present a budget? Do presidents need to meet budget deadlines? Who said there is a Defense of Marriage Act?
What law says that gays cannot serve overtly in the military or women cannot fight at the front — some reactionary construct? The point is to restore a simulacrum of popular sovereignty: the law is what 51% of the people are perceived by technocrats to want on any given day. I would hammer away at legal fictions like the very idea of borrowing and paying back loans and debts. Soon the popular culture would respond in kind, and run ads constantly on radio, TV, and the Internet in a way rare just a generation ago: how to renegotiate IRS debt, how to renegotiate mortgages, how to renegotiate credit card debt, and how to renegotiate student loan debt.
The man who owes $50,000 has been taken advantage of; the man who is owed $50,000 already has enough without being paid back. The aim is to create a general climate where when one borrows, one does not necessarily have to the pay back the full sum for a variety of legitimate considerations. The more bubbles — housing, student loan, credit card — the more avenues for government intervention and relief. Do all that and perhaps lending itself might slow down, again not a bad thing for our purposes. The debtor, not the lender, is the true American success, as our collective debt underscores.
Don’t forget the value of cynicism in weakening an economy. It is a critical tool in sowing distrust and fatalism, as in “Why try, when it doesn’t matter anyway?” or “Why should I follow the rules, when they don’t?” Greece, for example, is a cynical country to the core and one can see where such endemic distrust got them: a successfully ruined economy.
I would lecture about the evils of federal bailouts to Wall Street fat cats who then take million-dollar bonuses for mediocre performance — and then appoint a Treasury secretary who did just that. I would trash offshore accounts as something amoral and unpatriotic — and then appoint a Treasury secretary who did just that. I would lecture about paying your fair share and hiking taxes — and then appoint a Treasury secretary who avoided paying the income taxes he owed. I would sermonize on the evils of the revolving door — and then appoint as my top financial officials those who for a lifetime have gone into the White House, out to Wall Street, and back into the White House. Again, if “they” do that, why then do “we” need to pay our taxes or follow ethical behavior? The cynical mindset is a valuable tool in recreating a Greece or Italy. Indeed, almost any cynicism is a good thing: so why not praise federal financing of campaigns and then be the first to refuse it, or campaign on the evils of the Bush anti-terrorism protocol and then embrace or expand almost all of it?
Top Down, Not Bottom Up
Leveling must go in one direction, not two. To ensure equality, the public schools should lower standards so that all are the same. The more who need remediation upon entering college, the more likely the curriculum will have to adjust to level the playing field, and the less skilled will emerge the average graduate. The more that those with “Cadillac” insurance plans can have procedures rationed, the more others will see their own options expanded.
The world is a finite system, a pie with only so many slices. There is no middle class, just rich and poor. For each F student, an A student stole the former’s resources. I would invest not in honor students, but in remedial ones. Grades and test scores should count little for college admission; life “experiences” and community service far better would ensure the presence of mediocre students. The aim again is not to turn out graduates with expertise or knowledge who build a strong economy, but to graduate students, brand them with degrees, and ensure they are invested in a similar ideology of redistribution. If California — of Caltech and Stanford repute — can dumb down its public schools to rank 48th or 49th in the nation in math or English testing, then there is hope for the country at large.
The War of Words
Prosperity is always relative, never absolute. A car, a house, or a job is not to be judged on its own merits, but in comparison to someone else who has one better. If today’s Kias are better than a Mercedes of 20 years ago, it matters little: they are not as nice as someone else’s Mercedes of today. Britain in the postwar 1940s discovered the power of envy and what it can do to slow down ill-won prosperity.
From Plato to Marx to Tocqueville, philosophical minds, for both good and bad reasons, have always appreciated that human nature is attracted to the idea of enforced equality, to such a degree that most would rather be poor and the same, than better off with some far better off. Let’s give them that chance!
I would try to redefine the entire capitalist notion of profit, getting ahead, and being rich or successful as something arbitrary. Better yet, it should be analogous to cheating, proof of unfairness, or incurring general shame. The point is to make profit-making synonymous with failure; and poverty something inherently noble. Compensation should be seen as capricious, never based on logical requisites like education, knowledge, experience, level of responsibility, hard work, personal comportment, or even the less predictable such as health, luck, fate, and chance. Redefine rich and poor to emphasize the fact that one making $20,000 a year and another $200,000 is unfair, period — and to be corrected by a fair, all-knowing, and compassionate government. I would talk always of poverty and hunger, never of the epidemic of obesity or the nation’s collective youth glued to iPhones.
Sometimes, sloppy language is critical: jumble together “millionaires” with those worth 1,000 times more, and you earn the force-multiplying evil “millionaires and billionaires.” The word “fair” is critical: as in “pay your fair share.” But “patriotic” is even better, as in “unpatriotic” past presidents who run up debt, and “patriotic” present egalitarians who borrow in four years what used to take eight.
I would also redefine entire professions in negative terms: bankers are “fat cats”; the rich “junket” to Las Vegas; CEOs are “corporate jet owners”; doctors lop off limbs and yank out tonsils to pile up profits. Material wealth alone defines us. Mitt Romney is a man with lots of money, a big house with an elevator, a wife with horses. Who cares what he did with the Olympics or as governor?
I could continue, but you get the picture: the point is to slow down the capitalists by making them look over their shoulders, to hamper the grasping small businesses by prepping a psychological battlefield in which the rich deserve higher taxes and regulations to atone for their sins. If lots of those who once made $400,000 a year no longer do, is that not progress? Did they not at last realize that they had made enough money and that it was no longer the time to profit? My goal would be to convince the pizza-parlor owner that after 12 hours on the job, he was taking away money from his noble customers and had a duty to pay more in taxes and cut his profits for those more noble who could not afford his crust. But there would be one exception: fat cats can buy exemption by loudly supporting the president, serving on his jobs council, or investing in green energy. In other words, send the message that getting rich building a Solyndra is noble in a way Exxon is not. A Warren Buffett or George Soros is not a “billionaire” but a “philanthropist,” whose profits are channeled in the right direction. That’s an important message to send if one wants to warp an economy — suggesting that the rich can pay proper homage and thereby win exemption from being culpably rich.
Everywhere a War
The rich/poor dichotomy is valuable, but perhaps not enough in itself to harm the economy. Political stasis is also critical. Think the blues and greens in the hippodrome, fighting over everything from religion and civil service to class, ethnicity, and sports. And what better way to seed acrimony and to ensure constant bickering than unleashing a series of domestic wars? The camouflaged assault-weapon killers who hide behind the 2nd Amendment are at war with millions of innocent children. Even female celebrities and lawyers are under attack by misogynists and chauvinists, who won’t pay for their birth control. Latinos are targeted by nativists. The latter even hunt them down at ice-cream parlors. Blacks are back to near slavery as racist conservatives want to put them back in chains. Greens battle nobly against the polluters, gays against the homophobes. Muslims are demonized as terrorists by racists and bigots.
The point would be to introduce so many divisive fault lines that no one can much agree on anything — other than a common enemy. Worry over unemployment, slow or nonexistent growth, and massive debt gives way to more pressing issues like gay marriage and banning semi-automatic assault weapons. Distraction is valuable: who cares that the real unemployment rate is way over 10% if the Keystone pipeline will destroy the Nebraska aquifer or Jim Crow is back on election day? A “jobless recovery” and the “misery index” can become artifacts of a distant era.
I would borrow as much money as possible, to the point of making the word “trillion” synonymous with the old “billion,” and “billion” now not more than a mere “million.” On its coins, a fading Rome pressed bronze over a thin silver core; we have done better with the Fed. Think of all the ways in which deficits are good: they spread the wealth through greater entitlements; they eventually require higher taxes from the wealthy; they usually lead to inflation that erodes wrongly accumulated wealth. For every trillion borrowed, there is a greater likelihood that the deserving will receive more federal largess and the undeserving will have to pay for it — and the country itself will slow down and smell the roses. Is it not far preferable for the government to print money than the cumbersome private sector to create it?
Zero interest is as important as sky-high interest. Thus, 1% on passbook accounts can be as valuable in stalling the economy as 15%. If there is no gain in stored wealth, why seek to store it? If owing is better than being owed, why work to create capital? A good way to ensure inflation is to ensure zero interest. The many who have no money deserve the use of free money and the few who have it have no need to profit from it. Again, if the state employee’s pension pays out more in annual revenue than the multi-millionaire’s passbook account, is not that a distortion worth institutionalizing? The point would be to guide the retiree into real estate, precious metals, or the stock market, anywhere with real risk to beat his .5% passbook return. Or better yet, do away with the idea of the retiree altogether, as the poor fool keeps working to earn what his savings won’t — thereby providing an added benefit of keeping his would-be younger replacements jobless.
I would try to find a way to discourage private gas and oil production through more regulation and cancellation of projects like the Keystone pipeline: keep the country paying steep import fees and keep it vulnerable to Persian Gulf oil. New technologies like fracking and horizontal drilling are to be declared de facto synonymous with pollution and destroying the environment. How can energy “skyrocket” or gas reach “European levels” — that alone will ensure a cooler planet or government- and union-run mass transit — if freelancers can find hoards of natural gas on land the government can’t touch? I would also borrow billions to subsidize wind and solar power. The more costly the kilowatt, the more expensive energy might slow down human activity and finally stop the rat race.
Success is Failure
Finally, I would double down. The more higher taxes, class warfare, bigger government, borrowing, zero interest, and political stasis began to slow down the economy, the more I would demand more of them all, and declare that the economy is expanding and growing. Again, the key to fine tuning a properly moribund economy is to stay the course — and learn to redefine failure as success.
Nancy Pelosi said that we’d have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it. Refreshing to hear an honest liberal...
If Congress passes a statute–even one that is 1,600 pages long like Obamacare, but the law can’t go into effect as written, it is not really a law at all. The simple proof is the photo here that Sen. Mitch McConnell’s office has released, showing the 20,000-plus pages of regulations issued so far for the implementation of Obamacare. ”Regulation” is just a multi-syllabic word for “law,” after all. The point is, administrators–the slightly nicer term for “bureaucrats”–now govern us much more than our elected lawmakers do. (Powerlineblog.com)
Comply with THIS! Regulations issued SO FAR for the implementation of Obamacare
High-ranking DOJ official gave false testimony about voter intimidation case
Federal Judge Reggie Walton has found that internal DOJ documents about the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case “contradict Assistant Attorney General [Thomas] Perez’s testimony that political leadership was not involved in” the decision to dismiss the case. In other words, as Hans Von Spakovsky says, “the sworn testimony of Perez, the Obama political appointee who heads the Civil Rights Division, before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights was apparently false.”
Judge Walton serves on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. He has presided over high profile trials including those of Scooter Libby and Roger Clemens.
This particular case was brought by Judicial Watch, which filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking “documents relating to the DOJ’s decision to dismiss civil claims in the New Black Panther Party case.” According to Judge Walton, the DOJ documents, including emails from former Associate Attorney General Thomas Perrelli (who was the number-two official at DOJ) and former Democratic election lawyer and Deputy Associate Attorney General Sam Hirsch, “revealed that political appointees within DOJ were conferring about the status and resolution of the New Black Panther Party case in the days preceding the DOJ’s dismissal of claims.”
This finding directly contradicts the sworn testimony of Assistant Attorney General Perez. At a hearing before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights on May 14, 2010, Perez was asked whether “any political leadership [was] involved in the decision not to pursue this particular case.” Perez’s answer, on page 79 of the transcript of that hearing, was an unqualified “No.”
Accordingly, as von Spakovsky concludes, it is clear that Judge Walton was being polite when he said that thre documents and the testimony of Perez are contradictory and “cast doubt on the accuracy” of Perez’s account.
Perez’s conduct should, at a minimum, be the subject of an investigation by the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility (did Perez violate his ethical and professional obligations as a DOJ attorney) and/or the DOJ inspector general (did Perez violate 18 U.S.C. §1621, which outlaws presenting false statements under oath in official federal proceeding). But don’t hold your breath.
And don’t expect much, if any, any coverage by the mainsteam media which, no doubt, would be howling if a Republican political appointee at DOJ had been found by a federal judge to have given “inaccurate” testimony under oath.
The Reuters story that follows introduces the facts and issues for the current Supreme Court case on gay marriage. This will be an interesting case to follow, perhaps a landmark decision, IMO. Gay marriage advocates picked a perfect case to try because Ms. Windsor is missing out on a couple million of tax sheltered money because of not the preference of a heterosexual-marriage. (When did marriage start needing a hyphen?)
It is easy for me to sympathize with both sides of this argument. Conservatives should probably want gays to be monogamous, paired and settled for life for many of the same reasons other than procreation that we wish that for heteros.
On the other hand, what right was Ms. Windsor denied that is not also denied to a heterosexual single person? A single heterosexual person does not have a right to either marriage (that requires consent of another person) nor a right to the estate-sheltering, tax deduction in question.
There are two logical, constitutional end-points I can see in this case (the two least likely outcomes of this Court): 1) Uphold current law by ruling that the legislative branch by definition has already set tax law and DOMA law in the way that we-the-people have determined best advances the 'general welfare' of the people. 2) Or they could strike down all tax code preferences encouraging marriage and all other social preferences if the Court believes a government committed to equal protection can not be in the business of setting preferences or treating different people and different groups differently. In that view, equal protection would come to mean that all income from all people and all sources must be taxed evenly.
The least logical decision (most likely) is to strike down thousands of years of language, common law and natural law that define a marriage to be when a man and a woman make a choice and a commitment to become a husband and wife often leading to also becoming a father and a mother, with gender terms intentionally specific. Instead, carve out the politically expedient exception that two same-sex adults can become legally recognized as husband(?) and wife(?), spouse 1 and spouse 2(?), but leave in place all other discrimination in the law against all other persons and groups. -------------- http://news.yahoo.com/analysis-death-taxes-supreme-courts-gay-marriage-case-050623739.html
Analysis: Death, taxes and Supreme Court's gay marriage case By Kim Dixon | Reuters
By Kim Dixon
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer, the lesbian couple at the center of a major gay rights case set to go before the Supreme Court this month, were in many ways a typical New York power couple.
Spyer was a psychologist; Windsor, a consultant at IBM. They met in a Greenwich Village restaurant in the 1960s and lived together for decades, summering at a Long Island beach house.
They waited until they were in their mid-70s to marry in Canada in 2007. When Spyer died in 2009, Windsor inherited her spouse's estate, worth about $4.1 million, according to lawyers.
But because she is gay, Windsor missed out on one of the most lucrative tax breaks enjoyed by affluent Americans - the exemption from federal estate tax on wealth passed from one spouse to another.
"The biggest benefit of marriage, financially, is when you die," said Fred Slater, a New York tax accountant.
The spousal exemption to the estate tax is denied to same-sex couples because of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a law passed by Congress and signed by the president in 1996 that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
Windsor is challenging DOMA in a case the nine-member high court will hear on March 27. At its core, Windsor's fight is with the Internal Revenue Service over how much federal tax she owes on Spyer's estate.
She seeks the return of hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes she would not have had to pay if she and Spyer had been of opposite sexes. Her challenge asks whether married gays should be able to claim the same exemption as married heterosexuals do.
The Supreme Court ruling is likely to affect estate taxes paid by only the most affluent of gays. But at stake is a bigger question: Are married gay couples entitled to the same federal tax and other benefits as married heterosexuals?
A ruling is expected by the end of June.
More broadly, however, if the court strikes down DOMA, married gay couples would likely be able to file their income tax returns jointly in states that allow gay marriage - a prospect with ramifications as complex as the tax code itself.
ESTATE TAX IMPACT
In bringing her case to the Supreme Court, Windsor argues that DOMA violates the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equal protection. DOMA backers say the law is valid.
Of the 50 states, 31 have constitutional amendments banning gay marriage. It is legal in nine states and Washington, D.C.
The remaining states' policies vary, with some recognizing marriage from other states, some providing some of the legal benefits of marriage and others denying marriage by state laws, but not constitutional amendments.
The Obama administration said in 2011 that it viewed DOMA as a violation of the U.S. Constitution and said it would no longer defend it in court. A group appointed by the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives has asked the justices to uphold DOMA.
When Spyer died, the general estate tax exemption was $3.5 million. So Windsor inherited that amount from Spyer tax-free, including gifts received during Spyer's lifetime.
But because they were a lesbian couple, under the DOMA law Windsor could not take advantage of the spousal exemption, which says that a spouse may inherit any amount tax-free from a deceased spouse.
So Windsor was charged $363,000 in estate tax by the federal tax-collecting Internal Revenue Service. She paid her IRS bill but then sued, seeking a refund. She won in district court and in a federal appeals courts, but her case gradually took on increased prominence and eventually made its way to the Supreme Court.
The Williams Institute, a University of California-Los Angeles think tank that studies sexual orientation, estimates that if DOMA is overturned, only about 50 same-sex couples would qualify for the spousal exemption each year.
The institute based its estimate on figures from the U.S. Census and the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, a think tank.
But if Windsor wins her case, there would also be changes ahead in income tax filing and other benefits for some 130,000 same-sex married couples, as estimated by the Census Bureau.
A post-DOMA landscape would expose married gays to some of the same problems faced by married opposite-sex couples.
For instance, tax bracket and tax credit variations for singles versus married couples might mean wealthier couples and the working poor could face a "marriage penalty," while middle-income couples with one breadwinner could get a tax break.
"Equality is not always a net fiscal positive" for couples, said Brian Moulton, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, which advocates for gay rights.
The maximum amount free of tax, whether for a spouse or not, has risen since Spyer died in 2009, and is now $5.25 million. As a result, most estates are passed on tax-free.
Only 3,600 estates were subject to estate tax in 2012, according to government figures, while the richest 10 percent of Americans paid almost all of the estate tax collected, said the Tax Policy Center.
Susan Rice (in fact this was not a preplanned, premeditated attack) will fit in fine with the likes of James Clapper (Muslim Brotherhood is largely secular), Jack Lew (can’t pass a budget without 60 votes) and John (cut-off-their-ears) Kerry to work with the President who promised unemployment would be down to 5% by 2013 if we pass his stimulus. http://www.businessinsider.com/obama-unemployment-chart-2012-9
Unless the world ends now, we don't know who has the last laugh.
What part of the DOW's rise is just the dollar devaluing, all of it and then some? Wesbury at First Trust and other securities companies like to look back at rising periods of the DOW. Let's look back further and compare blue chip stocks with gold and silver instead of money:
During January 2000 gold traded at an average price of $284.32 January 2000 the Dow was 10,900 10,900/$284.32 per ounce = 38.33 gold ounces to buy the Dow
Today [Mar 09, 2013] gold is trading at $1570.90 while the Dow Jones (DJIA) continues to break records, up another 30 points as I write to 14,284.
14,284/1570.90 = 9.09 ozs of gold to buy the Dow today.
38.33/9.09 = 4.2 ----- (Doug) If you bought gold instead of Dow Jones stocks at the start of year 2000, you could keep 3/4 of your gold and buy the same quantity of the same stocks today with just 1/4 of your gold. ----- The Dow on Silver's terms:
During January 2000 silver averaged $4.95 oz January 2000 the Dow was 10,900 10,900/$4.95 per ounce = 2202 silver ounces to buy the Dow
Today silver is trading at $28.62, the Dow is 14,284.
14,284/28.62 = 499 ozs silver to buy the Dow.
2202/499 = 4.4 ----- (Doug) If you bought silver instead of the Dow at the start of year 2000, you could keep 3/4 of your silver and buy the same stocks today with just 1/4 of your silver.
One moral of the story is that hindsight conclusions are highly dependent on the timeframe and measuring stick selected.
Like minimum wage laws killing off jobs, what is good and bad policy, what is right and wrong, and what is constitutional and unconstitutional if you are a lefty is largely determined by the latest public opinion poll.
Was he sworn to uphold the constitution? Did gays change, did the constitution change? Is it too late to impeach him?
Drug Testing Company Sees Spike In Children Using Marijuana March 6, 2013 11:53 PM Share on email 488 (credit: CBS)
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) – A drug testing company says it’s seeing a big spike in children using marijuana following the passage of Amendment 64.
...It’s not just more students, but it appears they’re using pot more often. ... “In high school it has kind of gotten out of hand,” student Alaina Tanenbaum said.
Experts say the test results show that children are getting higher than ever with alarming levels of THC, marijuana’s active ingredient, in their bodies. “A typical kid (is) between 50 and 100 nanograms. Now were seeing these up in the over 500, 700, 800, climbing,” (More at link)
This 22 minute talk comes touted by Anthony Watts this week as "one of the most important posts ever" on Watts up with that, one of the top environmental sites on the internet.
Ecologist Allan Savory shows how to solve with low technology and relatively low cost the climate change problem that is perhaps worse than all fossil fuel use, the turning of the world's grasslands into deserts.
If true, I also find the post helpful. I did not know one ACORN office had already called the police. It would be nice if they added to the report the timing of that and the actual police report if it is public information. There were many ACORN offices approached in that film, did they all call the police?
That film was beyond bizarre. Entertaining perhaps, but not among the original allegations levied against ACORN.
If Fox misses this update after playing up the original story then shame on them. Mark it against them on their career scorecard. The other main conduits are missing much bigger stories every day IMHO. I resent having to go to right wing sources for basic facts and I appreciate when Bigdog or anyone else helps set the record straight. It does not advance a partisan political agenda to be repeating a falsehood, (unless you are liberal).
Going back a step on ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now was founded in 1970.
1) My first allegation against ACORN is strictly political. They are highly funded, highly organized, EXTREMELY left wing and highly effective at getting their message out in urban areas to people vulnerable to that message. They were so highly targeted that they operated under the radar of nearly everyone not running in those circles. I was shocked to discover them in my inner city operations and how far off of mainstream they really were. So far so good, there is nothing wrong with being left wing, extreme, political, organized and effective. As a matter of politics I think people who favor economic freedom ought to be aware of the operations of these extreme groups in order to expose their extreme views and counter them politically with a more hopeful message than shaking down others for money. Jump forward to the Obama reelection campaign of 2012 and remove the tarnished name ACORN, these organizations perhaps delivered the political victory more than almost any other factor.
One of their their main political and legal causes was to cause more housing resources to go to people who could not afford them, a big factor leading to the collapse in housing, banking, employment and the economic prospects for the people they purport to help. Here is a video, not of ACORN, but of their view represented at the highest levels, then Sec. of Housing (HUD) a youthful Andrew Cuomo in 1998 admitting these federally backed housing loans would not be made on creditworthiness criteria and yes "there will be a higher risk and I'm sure there will be a higher default rate...": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PFlYmLAMbrw&feature=player_embedded
2) ACORN merged its extreme left wing political activities with community do-gooding. Nothing wrong in concept with that. A non-profit operating to help a community in need ought to be able to have a political voice too, like businesses and unions should. IRS questions come up because they are subsidized by the taxpayers in the form of tax deductible donations for different purposes. Are they political, are they charity, does it matter?
3) ACORN mixing political activism with charitable work receives direct taxpayer support - big time. To this, I object. We shouldn't have taxpayer money supporting a political message. They were funded to the tune of tens of millions of dollars, almost unmeasurable, and they were funded in different names after congress voted to revoke their funding. Because they know their political operations shouldn't be taxpayer funded, they built the FIREWALL.
4) A FIREWALL that separates all charitable work from all political activities, if you believe that! I watched the head of ACORN tell us on the PBS News Hour, posted somewhere in this thread, that taxpayer money cannot bleed over into political operations because of the FIREWALL. I will offer a reward for an authentic photograph of the firewall or information that would lead to the discovery of its exact location. I believe it may sit right next to the social security lockbox - or in the safety deposit box area of Gringotts.
5) And then we have the criminal, electoral corruption of ACORN, enough to have put this operation in the category of an organized crime ring IMO, also documented in this thread.
...a national community organizing group is being investigated in at least 14 states and several swing states for massive irregularities. This news would make headlines anyway, but what made it worse was that Barack Obama was a key player in this organization, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, in the past. Obama trained its local leaders, represented the organization in court, and worked to funnel funds to the organization. The Obama campaign also donated $800,000 this year to an ACORN affiliate.
What is ACORN?
The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) is a community-based organization that advocates for low and moderate income families founded in 1970 by Wade Rathke and Gary Delgado. Rathke, one of the most powerful hard-Left activists in America, is a former member of a radical 1960s group, the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). The Weathermen terrorist group split off from the SDS in 1969. ACORN says its priorities include better housing and wages for the poor, more community development investment from banks and governments, and better public schools.
ACORN is also known for its voter registration efforts. This year alone (2008) ACORN has registered 1,315,037 voters.
Although the organization prides itself for its registration efforts, it also has a long history of scandal. In the state of Missouri in 1986, 12 ACORN members were convicted of voter fraud. But that case was not an isolated incident in the state. In December 2004, in St. Louis, six volunteers pleaded guilty of dozens of election law violations for filling out registration cards with names of dead people and other bogus information. Authorities launched an earlier investigation after noticing that among the new voters was longtime St. Louis alderman Albert “Red” Villa, who died in 1990. The volunteers worked for “Operation Big Vote” — a branch of ACORN — in St. Louis.
On February 10, 2005, Nonaresa Montgomery, a paid worker who ran Operation Big Vote during the run-up to the 2001 mayoral primary, was found guilty of vote fraud. Montgomery hired about 30 workers to do fraudulent voter-registration canvassing. Instead of knocking on doors, the volunteers sat at a St. Louis fast food restaurant and wrote out names and information from an outdated voter list. About 1,500 fraudulent voter registration cards were turned in.
In October 2006, St. Louis election officials discovered at least 1,492 “potentially fraudulent” voter registration cards. They were all turned in by ACORN volunteers.
In November 2006, 20,000 to 35,000 questionable voter registration forms were turned in by ACORN officials in Missouri. Most all of these were from St. Louis and Kansas City areas, where ACORN purportedly sought to help empower the “disenfranchised” minorities living there. But the ACORN workers weren’t just told to register new voters. The workers admitted on camera that they were coached to tell registrants to vote for Democrat Claire McCaskill.
In 2007, in Kansas City, Missouri, four ACORN employees were indicted for fraud. In April of this year eight ACORN employees in St. Louis city and county pleaded guilty to federal election fraud for submitting bogus voter registrations.
And, that was just Missouri.
This year there have been several accusations of fraud against ACORN. Over a dozen states are investigating the organization already. Here is a complete list of the ongoing investigations:
North Carolina — State Board of Elections officials have found at least 100 voter registration forms with the same names over and over again. The forms were turned in by ACORN. Officials sent about 30 applications to the state Board of Elections for possible fraud investigation.
Ohio — The New York Post reported that a Cleveland man said he was given cash and cigarettes by aggressive ACORN activists in exchange for registering an astonishing 72 times. The complaints have sparked an investigation by election officials into the organization, whose political wing has supported Barack Obama. Witnesses have already been subpoenaed to testify against the organization.
Nevada — Authorities raided the headquarters of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now on Tuesday October 7, 2008, after a month-long investigation. The fraudulent voter registrations included the Dallas Cowboys starting line-up.
Indiana — More than 2,000 voter registration forms filed in northern Indiana’s Lake County filled out by ACORN employees turned out to be bogus. Officials also stopped processing a stack of about 5,000 applications delivered just before the October 6 registration deadline after the first 2,100 turned out to be phony.
Connecticut — Officials are looking into a complaint alleging ACORN submitted fraudulent voter registration cards in Bridgeport. In one instance, an official said a card was filled out for a 7-year-old girl, whose age was listed as 27. 8,000 cards were submitted in Bridgeport.
Missouri — The Kansas City election board is reporting 100 duplicate applications and 280 with fake information. Acorn officials agreed that at least 4% of their registrations were bogus. Governor Matt Blunt condemned the attempts by ACORN to commit voter fraud.
Pennsylvania — Officials are investigating suspicious or incomplete registration forms submitted by ACORN. 252,595 voter registrations were submitted in Philadelphia. Remarkably, 57,435 were rejected — most of them submitted by ACORN.
Wisconsin — In Milwaukee ACORN improperly used felons as registration workers. Additionally, its workers are among 49 cases of bad registrations sent to authorities for possible charges, as first reported by the Journal Sentinel.
Florida — The Pinellas County Elections supervisor says his office has received around 35 voter registrations that appear to be bogus. There is also a question of 30,000 felons who are registered illegally to vote. Their connections with ACORN are not yet clear.
Texas — Of the 30,000 registration cards ACORN turned in, Harris County tax assessor Paul Bettencourt says just more than 20,000 are valid. And just look at some of the places ACORN was finding those voters. A church just next door is the address for around 150 people. More than 250 people claim a homeless outreach center as their home address. Some listed a county mental health facility as their home and one person even wrote down the Harris County jail at the sheriff’s office.
Michigan — ACORN in Detroit is being investigated after several municipal clerks reported fraudulent and duplicate voter registration applications coming through. The clerk interviewed said the fraud appears to be widespread.
New Mexico – The Bernalillo County clerk has notified prosecutors that some 1,100 fraudulent voter registration cards were turned in by ACORN.
From Newsweek The Myth of Bob Woodward: Why Is This Man an American Icon?
“Some of their writing is not true,” ... “They’re wrong often on detail” ... "If there was any doubt that Bob Woodward’s ego is out of control, inviting the president to his house should put those doubts to rest.". -----
4 internet pages about problems with Woodward's previous work. He was really a hack, one might take from this.
Economists, media and politicians often dwell on quintiles and percentiles of earners without noting that the people who make up these groups changes everyday, every year and every decade. We hear that the rich this... and the top 1% that... but bogus stats lead to wrong conclusions because they do not adjust or account for the movement of the people between the groups. If you follow the people, the conclusion is the opposite of just following the brackets. ------------
"Most working Americans who were initially in the bottom 20 percent of income-earners, rise out of that bottom 20 percent. More of them end up in the top 20 percent than remain in the bottom 20 percent.
People who were initially in the bottom 20 percent in income have had the highest rate of increase in their incomes, while those who were initially in the top 20 percent have had the lowest. This is the direct opposite of the pattern found when following income brackets over time, rather than following individual people.
Most of the media publicize what is happening to the statistical brackets -- especially that "top one percent" -- rather than what is happening to individual people.
Said in regard to the president being able to pass money from one government entity to another, basically overriding any congressional oversight that existed in regards to budgets that had been passed, all in an effort to grant Obama the ability to funnel funds to keep whatever agencies that Obama deems "important," up and operating.
I think, in that proposal, the idea is that the administration can move money within a department to its greatest need, not say move defense money to food stamps etc. It wouldn't end oversight; they would haul in the cabinet secretaries to testify as to where money is being spent and why. It would weaken the argument that the appropriating branch was starving the elderly, when it turns out the administration was spending the money on bureaucrats.
Allotting money and then holding people accountable sounds like private sector management. I share the concern that they should not be giving up their constitutional responsibility.
Jack Kemp in 1979: "You need both groups, both parties. The Democrats are the party of redistribution. The Republicans must be the part of growth."
In 1979, all of Washington was run by Democrats.
Correcting and sourcing a great analogy that I botched in recent posts. ------------
"Think about a wagon. It is a simple but forceful way of visualizing an important aspect of government. The wagon is loaded here. It's unloaded over there. The folks who are loading it are Republicans. The folks who are unloading it are Democrats. You need both groups, both parties. The Democrats are the party of redistribution. The Republicans must be the part of growth. It is useless to argue, as some libertarians do, that we do not need redistribution at all. The people, as a people, rightly insist that the whole look after the weakest of its members."
---------- I told this story at a gathering in a friend's living room after listening to a young woman, daughter of Kieth Ellison's predecessor and a Lt. Governor candidate in her own right, tell us that the difference between the parties was that Democrats care about others while Republicans care only about themselves. She heard that we need both parties and gasped, "I've never heard that before!"
Democrat policies doubled minority unemployment, collapsed wealth and did nothing to alleviate our heavily-demagogued income inequality.
"Meanwhile, the record of free enterprise in improving the lives of the poor both here and abroad is spectacular."
Yet Republicans haven't yet put a convincing answer on why prosperity-based policies are better for everyone. Minorities keep choosing failure based policies in the face of these facts. Brooks is Pres. of AEI. I think he identifies a key messaging problem. I'm not sure if he spells out the solution. Maybe you have to buy the book for that...
Republicans and Their Faulty Moral Arithmetic Conservative values and money issues are worth less than concern for the poor.
By ARTHUR C. BROOKS
In the waning days of the 1992 presidential campaign, President George H.W. Bush trailed Bill Clinton in the polls. The conventional wisdom was that Mr. Bush seemed too aloof from voters struggling economically. At a rally in New Hampshire, the exhausted president started what was probably the fourth campaign speech of the day by reading aloud what may have been handed to him as a stage direction: "Message: I care."
How little things have changed for Republicans in 20 years. There is only one statistic needed to explain the outcome of the 2012 presidential election. An April YouGov.com poll—which mirrored every other poll on the subject—found that only 33% of Americans said that Mitt Romney "cares about people like me." Only 38% said he cared about the poor.
Conservatives rightly complain that this perception was inflamed by President Obama's class-warfare campaign theme. But perception is political reality, and over the decades many Americans have become convinced that conservatives care only about the rich and powerful.
Perhaps it doesn't matter. If Republicans and conservatives double down on the promotion of economic growth, job creation and traditional values, Americans might turn away from softheaded concerns about "caring." Right?
Wrong. As New York University social psychologist Jonathan Haidt has shown in his research on 132,000 Americans, care for the vulnerable is a universal moral concern in the U.S. In his best-selling 2012 book "The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion," Mr. Haidt demonstrated that citizens across the political spectrum place a great importance on taking care of those in need and avoiding harm to the weak. By contrast, moral values such as sexual purity and respect for authority—to which conservative politicians often give greater emphasis—resonate deeply with only a minority of the population. Raw money arguments, e.g., about the dire effects of the country's growing entitlement spending, don't register morally at all.
Conservatives are fighting a losing battle of moral arithmetic. They hand an argument with virtually 100% public support—care for the vulnerable—to progressives, and focus instead on materialistic concerns and minority moral viewpoints.
The irony is maddening. America's poor people have been saddled with generations of disastrous progressive policy results, from welfare-induced dependency to failing schools that continue to trap millions of children.
Meanwhile, the record of free enterprise in improving the lives of the poor both here and abroad is spectacular. According to Columbia University economist Xavier Sala-i-Martin, the percentage of people in the world living on a dollar a day or less—a traditional poverty measure—has fallen by 80% since 1970. This is the greatest antipoverty achievement in world history. That achievement is not the result of philanthropy or foreign aid. It occurred because billions of souls have been able to pull themselves out of poverty thanks to global free trade, property rights, the rule of law and entrepreneurship.
The left talks a big game about helping the bottom half, but its policies are gradually ruining the economy, which will have catastrophic results once the safety net is no longer affordable. Labyrinthine regulations, punitive taxation and wage distortions destroy the ability to create private-sector jobs. Opportunities for Americans on the bottom to better their station in life are being erased.
Some say the solution for conservatives is either to redouble the attacks on big government per se, or give up and try to build a better welfare state. Neither path is correct. Raging against government debt and tax rates that most Americans don't pay gets conservatives nowhere, and it will always be an exercise in futility to compete with liberals on government spending and transfers.
Instead, the answer is to make improving the lives of vulnerable people the primary focus of authentically conservative policies. For example, the core problem with out-of-control entitlements is not that they are costly—it is that the impending insolvency of Social Security and Medicare imperils the social safety net for the neediest citizens. Education innovation and school choice are not needed to fight rapacious unions and bureaucrats—too often the most prominent focus of conservative education concerns—but because poor children and their parents deserve better schools.
Defending a healthy culture of family, community and work does not mean imposing an alien "bourgeois" morality on others. It is to recognize what people need to be happy and successful—and what is most missing today in the lives of too many poor people.
By making the vulnerable a primary focus, conservatives will be better able to confront some common blind spots. Corporate cronyism should be decried as every bit as noxious as statism, because it unfairly rewards the powerful and well-connected at the expense of ordinary citizens. Entrepreneurship should not to be extolled as a path to accumulating wealth but as a celebration of everyday men and women who want to build their own lives, whether they start a business and make a lot of money or not. And conservatives should instinctively welcome the immigrants who want to earn their success in America.
With this moral touchstone, conservative leaders will be able to stand before Americans who are struggling and feel marginalized and say, "We will fight for you and your family, whether you vote for us or not"—and truly mean it. In the end that approach will win. But more important, it is the right thing to do.
Mr. Brooks is president of the American Enterprise Institute and author of "The Road to Freedom" (2012).
Interesting observation by Stephen Moore that the reason the Senate has not passed a budget in 4 years in violation of their own law is because the Senate Budget committee was run by Kent Conrad, a moderate Dem from a liberty state (we don't use re-blue designations) who was spending hawk more than a tax raiser.
With Patty Murray in charge now, expect a budget and expect trillions in tax increases coming out of the Dem Senate. Only 51 votes is required to pass a Senate budget, contrary to what Jack Liar Lew recently said.
Natural Gas Exports and the Mythical 'Sweet Spot' Congressional meddling so warped the market in 1977 that an emergency law was needed to undo the harm. By J. BENNETT JOHNSTON (former Democratic senator from Louisiana, was chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources from 1986-94.)
"Which brings us back to today's calls for top-down control of the LNG market. Does anyone really think that Congress or the Department of Energy, years in advance, can predict supply and demand or determine which of the 16 applicants can procure the billions of dollars and decades-long contracts necessary to build an LNG export facility?"
"The free market might not always lead to everyone's definition of the sweet spot, but experience has shown that it is a better allocator and regulator than bureaucrats and politicians. We should heed the admonition of Adam Smith that demand begets supply: Allow the free market to allocate the nation's newfound energy bounty." ------ Which party would he join now?
Because of new laws, you will have to add your own sugar and you will have to add your own flavor with different rules for different sizes depending on whether your beverage is hot or cold. Understand? No one does.
Artificial sweeteners just found to be dangerous in the latest research are not regulated. Yet.
Good f-ing grief. Do they think health nuts go into these places? After cigarettes, we joked about what is next. The old joke of ordering 6 glazed doughnuts and Diet Coke has become the law.
They can prohibit from buying a toilet large enough to flush but allow you to have a 500 gallon hot tub. Prohibit sugar in drinks but not in donuts. Ban Mercury emissions from coal, then require it in light bulbs. Ban 100w incandescent bulbs but allow unlimited use of specialty bulbs. Stop the hitting in Football while subsidizing the stadiums where people love that. Eliminate headers in soccer but allow martial arts.
The wars and national defense did not cause our trillion dollar deficits or the 16.5 trillion dollar debt, but measured in tenths of trillions, cutbacks and wars winding down are at least a little help in curbing spending growth:
Government defense expenditures dropped by a staggering 22.2 percent annual pace between October and December. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Pentagon spent significantly less on just about everything except military pay.
Mitch McConnell joined in with Rand. Reince Preibus (sp?) head of RNC says he started the stand with rand tweating. All the big shows, Beck, Rush, Hannity had Rand on. Karl Rove on the defensive has celebrated the tea party victories, just not the losses. McCain and Graham are not party establishment - they made careers out of bucking the party, not joining it. I'm not sure there is a 'pub' establishment anymore. If there is it is run by Rand Paul, Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio and now Ted Cruz. Very fluid situation. More accurately it is run from the ground up represented by some these people and others.
Here is Wesbury predicting 4% GDP growth in July 2009. (I wonder what G M predicted...)
16 Jul 2009 09:10 AM Investors can expect to see a 4 percent growth in gross domestic product, say Brian Wesbury and Robert Stein."When we tell people this forecast, we often get looks as if we are out of our minds, and those are just the polite responses," they told Forbes Magazine... "Adding up all these factors leaves us with an average expected real GDP growth rate of 4.2 percent. We get there with what we think are very conservative estimates on consumption and business investment,’’ they say. http://www.moneynews.com/StreetTalk/gross-domestic-product/2009/07/16/id/331605#ixzz2MuaFfSbI
Here is Investor's Business Daily reporting actual growth for that period, 4 years later, at 0.8%:
The equities market went up because: 1) QE dollar injection 2) Zero interest rates due to Fed interventions and injections removed all other investment choices, savings, bonds, etc. 3) economic growth elsewhere 4) and yes, the US economy trudged forward, did not collapse
What would 'the market' be at today had the Fed not bought 70% of our debt, had interest rates been at market levels, rising until enough capital went to buy Treasury bonds to pay for our massively deficit spending?
Wesbury was called out by PP for some housing numbers but generally he is as accurate a source as is available for these commonly quoted measures. The measures themselves have many inaccuracies but that is another matter.
Actual numbers, best that I can find:
Federal Spending in Trillions 2.7 3.0 3.5 3.5 3.6 3.5 FY2007 FY2008 FY2009 FY2010 FY2011 FY 2012
GDP in Trillions: 14.0 14.3 14.0 14.5 15.1 15.7
Spending % of GDP: 19.3% 21.0% 25.0% 24.1% 23.8% 22.3%
The big jump in spending was at the end of 2008, mostly in fiscal year 2009, partly under Bush in the transition and partly under Obama, all under a Dem congress. The big growth of spending from the Pelosi-Reid congress beyond the alleged stimuli was mostly Obamacare beginning in 2014, not shown in these numbers. Spending growth stopped in the Boehner-McConnell budget fights with Obama. (Did Crafty know that? ) The growth in GDP is at slow plowhorse speed, artificially propped up by QE at the Fed, authorized by the 'dual mission' legislation of Humphrey-Hawkins of 1978.
The real point I see in these numbers is this - do we realize how quickly we could have grown out of this mess with pro-growth policies? As Wesbury recognized in 2009 real growth in GDP of 4% was certainly possible. Run these percentages with those GDP growth numbers!