The recent news about the FBI’s seizure of the phone and email records of Fox News employees, including James Rosen, calls into question whether the federal government is meeting its constitutional obligation to preserve and protect a free press in the United States. We reject the government's efforts to criminalize the pursuit of investigative journalism and falsely characterize a Fox News reporter to a Federal judge as a "co-conspirator" in a crime. I know how concerned you are because so many of you have asked me: why should the government make me afraid to use a work phone or email account to gather news or even call a friend or family member? Well, they shouldn’t have done it. The administration’s attempt to intimidate Fox News and its employees will not succeed and their excuses will stand neither the test of law, the test of decency, nor the test of time. We will not allow a climate of press intimidation, unseen since the McCarthy era, to frighten any of us away from the truth.
I am proud of your tireless effort to report the news over the last 17 years. I stand with you, I support you and I thank you for your reporting with courageous optimism. Too many Americans fought and died to protect our unique American right of press freedom. We can’t and we won’t forget that. To be an American journalist is not only a great responsibility, but also a great honor. To be a Fox journalist is a high honor, not a high crime. Even this memo of support will cause some to demonize us and try to find irrelevant things to cause us to waver. We will not waver.
As Fox News employees, we sometimes are forced to stand alone, but even then when we know we are reporting what is true and what is right, we stand proud and fearless. Thank you for your hard work and all your efforts.
Michael Isikoff reports for NBC News Holder OK'd search warrant for Fox News reporter's private emails, official says
Attorney General Eric Holder signed off on a controversial search warrant that identified Fox News reporter James Rosen as a “possible co-conspirator” in violations of the Espionage Act and authorized seizure of his private emails, a law enforcement official told NBC News on Thursday.
ABC News: Holder to investigate Holder Obama Orders DOJ Review of Leak Investigations
"I have directed the attorney general to report back to me by July 12th.”
Former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman,…. "The last couple years the Congress has not been funding the IRS sufficiently,"
However, according to the IRS’s own website, "The Administration’s fiscal year (FY) 2013 budget request for the Internal Revenue Service is approximately $12.8 billion, a $944.5 million increase (8%) over the FY 2012 enacted level."
Former Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller…what the IRS needs is more agents and "a bigger budget" in order to ensure that the IRS stops harassing and targeting conservatives based on their political beliefs.
“I’ve known Lois since 1985,” says Craig Engle, a Washington, D.C., attorney who from 1986 to 1995 served as the executive assistant to one of the FEC’s commissioners
Engle describes Lerner as pro-regulation and as somebody seeking to limit the influence of money in politics. The natural companion to those views, he says, is her belief that “Republicans take the other side” and that conservative groups should be subjected to more rigorous investigations. According to Engle, Lerner harbors a “suspicion” that conservative groups are intentionally flouting the law.
General counsel’s reports composed during Lerner’s tenure at the FEC confirm Engle’s recollections of a woman predisposed to back Republicans against the wall while giving Democrats a pass.
The Real Voter Suppression of 2012 Voter ID didn’t reduce turnout, but the IRS may have.
Noonan: A Battering Ram Becomes a Stonewall The IRS's leaders refuse to account for the agency's corruption and abuse.
We learned the people who ran and run the IRS are not going to help Congress find out what happened in the IRS. We know we haven't gotten near the bottom of the political corruption of that agency. We do not know who ordered the targeting of conservative groups and individuals, or why, or exactly when it began. We don't know who executed the orders or directives. We do not know the full scope or extent of the scandal. We don't know, for instance, how many applicants for tax-exempt status were abused.
With all the talk and the hearings and the news reports, it is important to keep the essentials of this story in mind.
First, only conservative groups were targeted in this scandal by the IRS. Liberal or progressive groups were not targeted. The IRS leaked conservative groups' confidential applications and donor lists to liberal groups, never the other way around.
This was a political operation. If it had not been, then the statistics tell us left-wing groups would have been harassed and abused, and seen their applications leaked to the press. There would be a left-wing equivalent to Catherine Engelbrecht.
And all of this apparently took place in the years leading up to the 2012 election. Meaning that before that election, groups that were anti-Obamacare, or pro-life, or pro-Second Amendment or constitutionalist, or had words like 'tea party' or 'patriot' in their name—groups that is that would support Republicans, not Democrats—were suppressed, thwarted, kept from raising money and therefore kept from fully operating.
That is some kind of coincidence. That is some kind of strangely political, strangely partisan, and strangely ideological "poor customer service."
Again, if what happened at the IRS is not stopped now—if the internal corruption within it is not broken—it will never stop, and never be broken. The American people will never again be able to have the slightest confidence in the revenue-gathering arm of their government.
Strassel: Conservatives Became Targets in 2008 The Obama campaign played a big role in a liberal onslaught that far pre-dated Citizens United.
The left was targeting conservative groups and donors well before the Supreme Court's 2010 ruling on independent political expenditures by corporations.
If the country wants to get to the bottom of the IRS scandal, it must first remember the context for this abuse. That context leads to this White House.
Krauthammer Cues from Above: The White House and the IRS The scandal might not go all the way up, but the climate of intolerance does.
For years the administration has conducted a concerted campaign to demonize Fox News, delegitimizing it as a news organization and even urging its ostracism. Then (surprise!) its own Justice Department takes the unprecedented step of naming a Fox reporter a co-conspirator in a leak case — when no reporter has ever been prosecuted for merely soliciting information — in order to invade his and Fox’s private and journalistic communications.
It’s not unlawful to run an ad hominem presidency. It’s merely shameful. The great rhetorical specialty of this president has been his unrelenting attribution of bad faith to those who disagree with him. He acts on principle; they from the basest of instincts.
The IRS has no shame. Who had the bright idea of going after adoptive families?
As we get word that the IRS has harassed a number of pro-life groups, including at least one alleged demand that a pro-life group not picket Planned Parenthood, check out this statistic: In 2012, the IRS requested additional information from 90 percent of returns claiming the adoption tax credit and went on to actually audit 69 percent. More details from the Taxpayer Advocate Service:
• Sixty-nine percent of all adoption credit claims during the 2012 filing season were selected for audit.
■ Of the completed adoption tax credit audits, over 55 percent ended with no change in the tax owed or refund due in fiscal year 2012. The median refund amount involved in these audits is over $15,000 and the median adjusted gross income (AGI) of the taxpayers involved is about 64,000. The average adoption credit correspondence audit currently takes 126 days, causing a lengthy delay for taxpayers waiting for refunds.
So Congress implemented a tax credit to facilitate adoption – a process that is so extraordinarily expensive that it is out of reach for many middle-class families — and the IRS responded by implementing an audit campaign that delayed much-needed tax refunds to the very families that needed them the most. Oh, and the return on its investment in this harassment? Slightly more than 1 percent.
This audit wave got almost no media coverage, but what was the experience like for individual families? In a word, grueling. Huge document requests with short turnaround times were followed by lengthy IRS delays in processing, all with no understanding for the unique documentation challenges of international adoption. Here’s how one adoptive family described the experience:…..
The IRS is a broken institution. Yet despite its moral and legal corruption, it still wields immense power. As Congress investigates wrongdoing, it’s past time to consider fundamental tax reform. In other words, starve the beast. It has proven it can’t be trusted with power.
Every day, we learn more about the IRS essentially silencing those who oppose the Administration's policies, but we'll learn nothing from Lois Lerner, the top IRS official when all this is going on because she's going to invoke the Fifth Amendment when she testifies before Congress
on Wednesday. But then again, it is unlikely that she even has a passing relationship to the truth. The Nine Lies of Lois Lerner
Bill Donohue: IRS Targeted Catholic League
Just weeks after Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, I was notified by the IRS that the Catholic League was under investigation for violating the IRS Code on political activities as it relates to 501©(3) organizations. What the IRS did not know was that I had proof who contacted them to launch the investigation: Catholics United, a George Soros-funded Catholic organization.
Korzen was dumb enough to share with CNN the complaint issued by his group to the IRS. The document, which was leaked to me by someone at CNN, matches up extraordinarily well with the IRS complaint of Nov. 24.
IRS targeted Anne Hendershott, a Catholic writer and professor who writes it's now A Safe Time to Tell Your Story
Unlike Mr. Donohue, I have no proof that my audit was politically motivated. I am describing the process not because I want the publicity; rather, I am hoping that now that Bill Donohue has led the way, others from the pro-life community who have been targeted by the IRS will come forward. It seems like a safe time now.
Catholic writer and professor Anne Hendershott wanted the public to know that Obamacare funds abortions. So she wrote a series of articles critical of the Affordable Care Act in March of 2010.In May of that year, the IRS called.
Hendershott finds herself among an emerging class of taxpayers who believe they were targets of special scrutiny and intimidation by the Internal Revenue Service for political reasons.
Sue Martinek told the Register she ran into similar problems with the IRS, which demanded that she and others involved with a pro-life organization pledge to never protest Planned Parenthood — the country’s largest abortion business.
John Eastman, president of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) believes one or more IRS employees committed a felony in March 2012 by sharing his organization’s private tax documents with the Human Rights Campaign, an organization that lobbies for same-sex “marriage.” The Human Rights Campaign published the documents on its website, publicly revealing the names of donors to the National Organization for Marriage.
“The Human Rights Campaign was headed by Joseph Solmonese, who at the time had just been named national co-chair of the Obama election campaign,” Eastman told the Register.
Crisis reports IRS Targets Catholic Critics of Obama Regime,
It is not an overreaction to say that these IRS scandals sound like official favoritism of certain organizations and political viewpoints and an attempt to suppress opposition.
This is the administration that has given us the HHS Mandate, supported the claim in the Hosanna-Tabor case that a religious body could not choose its own ministers, wouldn’t defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court, increased federal financial support for Planned Parenthood, and is trying to stop military personnel from sharing their faith. This all indicates an agenda of hostility to traditional Christian morality and a willingness to share in the repressiveness that has come to characterize the political left.
Jeffrey Lord writes Obama and the IRS: The Smoking Gun?
President met with anti-Tea Party IRS union chief the day before agency targeted Tea Party.
Richard Epstein et al on The Real Lesson of the IRS Scandal
Federal agencies from the FDA to the EPA to the FCC threaten the rule of law.
The IRS and the Drive to Stop Free Speech: Such a scandal was bound to happen after the government started trying to rule the expression of political views.
DOJ investigators seized personal emails of Fox reporter When ordinary reporting is seen as criminal activity.
The DOJ got the records because they claimed James Rosen, a Fox reporter, was a criminal co-conspirator.
Michael Clemente, Fox News' executive vice president of news, defended Rosen in a statement issued Monday afternoon.
"We are outraged to learn today that James Rosen was named a criminal co-conspirator for simply doing his job as a reporter," Clemente said. "In fact, it is downright chilling. We will unequivocally defend his right to operate as a member of what up until now has always been a free press."
Yesterday we learned that the DOJ also seized the phone records of Rosen's parents.
Tonight we learned that the DOJ seized phone records of Fox News at the White House, the Pentagon, the State Department and other operations and phone records of Fox executives. More Shocking Details about DOJ spying on Fox News.
The former U.S. Attorney for Arizona could be disbarred, after an investigation found he lied to the Justice Department about his role in trying to discredit the federal whistle-blower who exposed the botched gun-running scheme known as Fast and Furious.
Dennis Burke -- the former chief of staff for Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano appointed as U.S. Attorney for Arizona by President Obama in September 2009 -- lied when asked if he leaked sensitive documents to the press meant to undermine the credibility of ATF whistle-blower John Dodson.
"We also concluded that Burke's disclosure of the Dodson memorandum was likely motivated by a desire to undermine Dodson's public criticisms of Operation Fast and Furious. Although Burke denied to congressional investigators that he had any retaliatory motive for his actions, we found substantial evidence to the contrary," the IG report, released Monday, said.
Sharyl Attkisson, the Emmy-award winning CBS News investigative reporter, says that her personal and work computers have been compromised and are under investigation.
Attkisson told WPHT that irregular activity on her computer was first identified in Feb. 2011, when she was reporting on the Fast and Furious gun-walking scandal and on the Obama administration's green energy spending, which she said "the administration was very sensitive about." Attkisson has also been a persistent investigator of the events surrounding last year's attack in Benghazi, and its aftermath.
Eugene Robinson, longtime Obama supporter, "Obama administration mistakes journalism for espionage"
Kirsten Powers, How Hope and Change Gave Way to Spying on the Press
Turns out it’s a fairly swift sojourn from a president pushing to “delegitimize” a news organization to threatening criminal prosecution for journalistic activity by a Fox News reporter, James Rosen, to spying on Associated Press reporters. In between, the Obama administration found time to relentlessly persecute government whistleblowers and publicly harass and condemn a private American citizen for expressing his constitutionally protected speech in the form of an anti-Islam YouTube video.
Where were the media when all this began happening? With a few exceptions, they were acting as quiet enablers.
Yet only one mainstream media reporter—Jake Tapper, then of ABC News—ever raised a serious objection to the White House’s egregious and chilling behavior.
Now, the Democratic advocacy group Media Matters—which is always mysteriously in sync with the administration despite ostensibly operating independently—has launched a smear campaign against ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl for his reporting on Benghazi. It’s the kind of character assassination that would make Joseph McCarthy blush.
What all of us in the media need to remember—whatever our politics—is that we need to hold government actions to the same standard, whether they’re aimed at friends or foes. If not, there’s no one but ourselves to blame when the administration takes aim at us.
According to The Washington Post’s original report on the topic, when the DOJ investigated in the leaking of classified information in 2009 about North Korea, it not only obtained Rosen’s phone records, but his personal emails as well. It used security badge records to track Rosen’s visits to the State Department, and the DOJ also traced the timing of his calls to Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, the government adviser suspected of leaking information to Rosen.
In the court documents for the warrant to search Rosen’s personal e-mails – the “SUBJECT ACCOUNT” and “the Reporter” -- the FBI is cited as stating “there is probable cause to believe the Reporter has committed or is committing a violation of section 793(d), as an aider and abettor and/or co-conspirator, to which the materials relate.”
In The New Yorker, The Justice Department and Fox New's Phone Records
Yesterday, the Washington Post reported that, as part of the investigation of the Kim leak, Obama’s Department of Justice seized e-mails from Rosen’s personal Gmail account. In the search warrant for that request, the government described Rosen as “an aider, and abettor, and / or co-conspirator” in violating the Espionage Act, noting that the crime can be punished by ten years in prison. Rosen was not indicted in the case, but the suggestion in a government document that a reporter could be guilty of espionage for engaging in routine reporting is unprecedented and has alarmed many journalists and civil libertarians.
Investor's Business Daily: The Obama Objective: To Control The News
For awhile, it looked like the White House wanted just to control "the narrative." But its seizure of AP phone records and surveillance of Fox employees now show its real aim: to control the news.
The Obama political team at the White House has always prided itself on its media savvy. After all, they got a candidate with an otherwise unsalable socialist past elected on a campaign that sold his personality, not his platform.
But it turns out their mastery of the press went a lot deeper than just the political arts. The latest news that the Justice Department investigated Fox News reporter James Rosen and two other newsmen in the normal course of their investigative reporting on a national security matter — coming on the heels of their seizure of Associated Press phone records — suggests an administration obsessed with controlling the news itself with a heavy hand reminiscent of totalitarian regimes.
In the Guardian, Glenn Greenwald
This week, the New Republic's Molly Redden describes what I've heard many times over the past several years: national security reporters have had their ability to engage in journalism severely impeded by the Obama DOJ's unprecedented attacks, and are operating in a climate of fear for both their sources and themselves. Redden quotes one of the nation's best reporters, the New Yorker's Jane Mayer, this way:
It's a huge impediment to reporting, and so chilling isn't quite strong enough, it's more like freezing the whole process into a standstill."
That, of course, is precisely the point of the unprecedented Obama war on whistleblowers and press freedoms: to ensure that the only information the public can get is information that the Obama administration wants it to have. That's why Obama's one-side games with secrecy - we'll prolifically leak when it glorifies the president and severely punish all other kinds - is designed to construct the classic propaganda model. And it's good to see journalists finally speaking out in genuine outrage and concern about all of this.
Breitbart News, A Culture of Intimidation it is now more obvious than ever that this administration has, in the words of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), created a “culture of intimidation” that stretches from the White House down to myriad agencies of the executive branch.
Department of Justice: …
State Department: ….
Internal Revenue Service: ….
Department of Health and Human Services: ….
Department of the Treasury: …..
Federal Bureau of Investigation: ……
Department of the Interior: …….
Department of Homeland Security: ….
Environmental Protection Agency: ……
The intimidation comes from the top down in the Obama administration. And it is pervasive.
Huma Abedin maintained her title as Secretary of State Clinton's deputy chief of staff even though she spent her time in New York taking care of her new baby and her husband, the disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner who tweeted himself naked to teenage girls. Huma was permitted to moonlight as a "special government employee" who was paid $135,000/year who didn't have to disclose her other sources of income on the federal financial disclosure forms, income received as a "strategic consultant" to Teneo, a global consulting firm as well as income received as a consultant to the William Jefferson Clinton Foundation.
Ms. Abedin began her long professional association with Mrs. Clinton in 1996, as an intern to the first lady in the Clinton White House. In the years that followed, she remained a Clinton staffer from the White House to the Senate, and eventually to the State Department. At the same time, she also served from 1996 through 2008 as assistant editor of the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, a publication founded by Abdullah Omar Naseef, a major financier of al Qaeda whose Islamic “charity,” the Rabita Trust, is a designated terrorist organization (on which Naseef colluded with Wael Hamza Jalaidan, an Osama bin Laden intimate who is one of al Qaeda’s founders).
Naseef is a former secretary general of the Muslim World League, which Osama bin Laden described as one of al Qaeda’s primary funding sources. In the late seventies, he retained Abedin’s parents to run his newly formed Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs and edit its journal, which has been an Abedin family affair ever since. For seven years, Naseef overlapped with Huma Abedin at the journal, as a member of its advisory editorial board. He withdrew after 2003 — right around the time he was named as a defendant in the civil case brought by the victims of the 9/11 atrocities (a suit from which he was dropped in 2010 because a court found it lacked jurisdiction over him). The journal is still edited by Ms. Abedin’s mother, Dr. Saleha Abedin, who took over when Ms. Abedin’s father passed away. Both parents have had deep Muslim Brotherhood ties. In fact, Saleha Abedin runs an organization, the International Islamic Committee for Woman and Child, which is a part of the Union of Good — a major Hamas supporter and, yes, a designated terrorist organization run by Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the top Muslim Brotherhood sharia jurist.
I quote so extensively because Huma Abedin is Hillary's foremost Mideast adviser. I wonder what role she played in advising Hilary Clinton on the night of the attack. After all, women played big roles before and after the attack in Libya. The Benghazi scandal’s female factor
So what was discussed in The 10 PM Phone Call between Clinton and Obama? Andrew McCarthy again.
Obama and Clinton had been the architects of American foreign policy. As Election Day 2012 loomed, each of them had a powerful motive to promote the impressions (a) that al-Qaeda had been decimated; (b) that the administration’s deft handling of the Arab Spring — by empowering Islamists — had been a boon for democracy, regional stability, and American national security; and © that our real security problem was “Islamophobia” and the “violent extremism” it allegedly causes — which was why Obama and Clinton had worked for years with Islamists, both overseas and at home, to promote international resolutions that would make it illegal to incite hostility to Islam, the First Amendment be damned.
There is good reason to believe that while Americans were still fighting for their lives in Benghazi, while no military efforts were being made to rescue them, and while those desperately trying to rescue them were being told to stand down, the president was busy shaping the “blame the video” narrative to which his administration clung in the aftermath.
We do not have a recording of this call, and neither Clinton nor the White House has described it beyond noting that it happened. But we do know that, just a few minutes after Obama called Clinton, the Washington press began reporting that the State Department had issued a statement by Clinton regarding the Benghazi attack. In it, she asserted:
Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation.
CNS News asked Carney whether, in that 10 p.m. phone call, the president and Secretary Clinton discussed the statement that Clinton was about to issue, and, specifically, whether they discussed “the issue of inflammatory material posted on the Internet.”
Carney declined to answer.
UPDATE: The Difference it Makes: Hillary's Fingerprints on the Benghazi Video Narrative
Hillary Clinton was the first senior Obama Administration official to publicly blame the video for the Benghazi attack. ….We can tell where the video narrative did not come from: the career Foreign Service.
By September 13, Mrs. Clinton blamed the video for the Benghazi assault explicitly. Speaking at a State Department meeting with the Moroccan President, she pinned not only the Benghazi attack, but the violent outbursts spreading across the Arab Middle East, on Muslim popular outrage triggered by the “disgusting and reprehensible,” “deeply cynical” video.
On September 14, Mrs. Clinton went all in. Speaking at Joint Base Andrews, in front of cameras, flag-draped caskets, and the families of four murdered Americans, she said, “[w]e’ve seen rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful internet video that we had nothing to do with.” According to the parents of the former Navy SEALs at the ceremony, Clinton also privately blamed the video for their sons’ deaths, promising to “make sure that the person who made that film is arrested and prosecuted.”
the video narrative predates the draft talking points, but was never included in them. This is key to identifying the source of the phony “video” narrative.
When entire classes of people have been targeted by the most powerful agency in Washington, the system of government has become corrupted..
The Enemies List more sinister that Nixon's or LBJ's
Many have compared the recent scandals to past presidential trespasses, such as Richard Nixon’s wiretapping of political “enemies” or Lyndon Johnson’s having the IRS audit them to silence or otherwise intimidate them. Those analogies are important, but mostly because understanding them properly teaches us what is new, and potentially more alarming, about the current IRS scandal.
The enemies list à la Obama, which targets entire classes of people or organizations, is more dangerous to a free and open society because it paves the way for more systemic and widespread abuses by government. It is spawned by an insidious philosophy that discounts the intrinsic value and uniqueness of individuals. Group traits such as ideology, religious beliefs, occupation, military status, and even gun ownership trump individual qualities and come to define the citizen in the eyes of the increasingly intrusive government.
James Tarento writes. …. the IRS scandal was a subversion of democracy on a massive scale. The most fearsome and coercive arm of the administrative state embarked on a systematic effort to suppress citizen dissent against the party in power.
Is the IRS scandal the worst political scandal in American history? Bookworm says Yes.
Why? Because you, the People, became the targets of a comprehensive federal government effort to stifle dissent, one made using the government’s overwhelming and disproportionate policing and taxing powers.
All of the other scandals, going back to Andrew Johnson’s post-Civil War scandals, Warren G. Harding’s 1920s Teapot Dome scandal, Nixon’s Watergate, Reagan’s Iran-Contra, and Clinton’s Oval Office sexcapades have actually been narrowly focused acts of cronyism, garden-variety political chicanery, or personal failings. It’s been insider stuff.
Once a government gets the bit between its teeth and starts targeting special interest groups, that is the end of freedom, not just for those first groups targeted, but for everyone.
the IRS, an agency that has the power to destroy every person in America, did all of this on its own initiative. What we’re seeing in that case is the fall-out of a complete Leftist takeover of American institutions. We will have become a tyranny by bureaucracy (in no small part due to the fact that federal agencies are heavily unionized, and always with a Leftist slant), with the entire federal government irredeemably corrupt.
Just how egregious the conduct of the IRS was is best understood by looking at some of the victims. The True Scandal can be seen in the story of Catherine Engelbrecht, founder of True the Vote and was targeted by the IRS, the FBI, the Texas OSHA and the Texas Commissission of Environmental Quality and the ATF.
Other Tea Party groups decided not to form nonprofits at all after learning about her experience, she says. “They were scared,” she explains, “and you shouldn’t be scared of your government.”
Catherine says the harassment has forced her to seriously reconsider whether her political activity is worth the government harassment she’s faced.
“I left a thriving family business with my husband that I loved, to do something I didn’t necessarily love, but [which] I thought had to be done,” she says. “But I really think if we don’t do this, if we don’t stand up and speak now, there might not [always] be that chance.”
John Kass writes in the Chicago Tribune that the IRS Scandal is a reminder of how he learned about The Chicago Way
This scandal is about more than partisanship. It's bigger than whether the Republicans win or the Democrats lose.
It's even bigger than President Barack Obama. Yes, bigger than Obama.
It is opening American eyes to the fundamental relationship between free people and those who govern them.
This one is about the Republic and whether we can keep it.
And it started me thinking of years ago, of my father and my uncle in Chicago and how government muscle really works.
I couldn't understand how we could argue about politics over baklava and watermelon and coffee, but not put it into practice.
We could support a political candidacy, we could donate or work for one or another politician that we agreed with.
This is America, I said.
"Are you in your good senses?" said my father. "We have lives here. We have businesses. If we get involved in politics, they will ruin us."
And no one, not the Roosevelt Democrats or the Reagan Republicans, disagreed. The socialists, the communists, the royalists, everyone nodded their heads.
Of Sarah Ingram, the manager of the IRS office that targeted these organizations, was promoted to head the office of the IRS that is implementing Obamacare. Deroy Murdock says
It is beyond outrageous that this secret policewoman — whose actions were at least execrable, if not illegal — would get within three time zones of any American's health-care data. She should be sacked before lunch and seriously considered for prosecution.
The Stasi IRS? Where have we seen this sort of intensive scrutiny and record keeping before? Where have we seen the use of detailed records used to repress opposition to government?
We saw it in Eastern Germany before the fall of the infamous Wall in 1989 in the form of the Stasi, the arm of the secret police, which kept voluminous information on every individual and every organization within that hapless and oppressed nation.
Congress needs to give the IRS a dose of its own medicine, an audit from top to bottom. I see no other way to clean up the "IRS rat's nest" than an Independent Special Counsel with subpoena power and so does Larry Kudlow
The IRS was taking the Tea Party out of play for the 2012 election, as it looked to avoid a repeat of 2010 and another Tea Party landslide.
If the IRS wasn’t politically targeting conservative groups, why did its leading spokespeople lie? This was not even cognitive dissonance. It was outright lying before Congress. Lois Lerner, a key player in the IRS’s tax-exempt division, is being accused by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee of no fewer than four lies. The inspector general’s report shows that she knew about the targeting problem in June 2011, but wouldn’t admit to it in correspondence with Congress over the next two years.
Of course, Obama charged Treasury secretary Jack Lew with straightening this out. But Lew’s an Obama political operative.
By the way, a special counsel will have to do a special investigation, since we’re already learning the inspector-general investigation was a very superficial operation. And an independent special counsel can investigate any possible White House connections with senior Treasury officials, connections that could lead to the Oval Office.
[The IRS] is a massively important government agency. And now we know that it is fraught with corruption and a liberal-left political agenda.
Only an independent special counsel could possibly straighten this mess out.
Judging by available evidence and an inspector general's report released this week, the story here is not a Nixonian White House using all of government's tools to punish critics.
The story is instead one of government power so great that, even in the hands of nonpolitical career civil servants, politically motivated abuse is inevitable. And the ultimate problem is that our tax code and campaign finance laws put the IRS in the business of policing political speech. Politics inevitably comes into play.
And this is the agency that's going to be in charge of enforcing Obamacare
Your Next IRS Political Audit The tax agency is getting vast new power in health care.
Over the last decade or so the tax agency has stretched its portfolio and become an enforcer and decision-maker for government benefits and programs. Three years ago, National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson, who operates within the IRS, presciently noted that ObamaCare is "the most extensive social benefit program the IRS has been asked to implement in recent history."
This March the IRS Inspector General reiterated that ObamaCare's 47 major changes to the revenue code "represent the largest set of tax law changes the IRS has had to implement in more than 20 years." Thus the IRS is playing Thelma to the Health and Human Service Department's Louise.
Instead of going after tax cheats, these bureaucrats will write and enforce tax regulations for parts of the economy in which they have no core competence. For example, do ski instructors or public school teachers count as seasonal workers? How long is a "full time" work week? Is it 40 hours, or 30?
The IRS will also dispense ObamaCare's insurance subsidies since technically they're "advanceable" tax credits, i.e., transfer payments made prior to filing a tax return. The IRS will also police the individual mandate-tax to buy health insurance, as well as the business penalties for not offering Washington-approved coverage to employees.
To monitor compliance with these rules, the IRS and HHS are now building the largest personal information database the government has ever attempted. Known as the Federal Data Services Hub, the project is taking the IRS's own records (for income and employment status) and centralizing them with information from Social Security (identity), Homeland Security (citizenship), Justice (criminal history), HHS (enrollment in entitlement programs and certain medical claims data) and state governments (residency).
The data hub will be used as the verification system for ObamaCare's complex subsidy formula. All insurers, self-insured businesses and government health programs must submit reports to the IRS about the individuals they cover, which the IRS will cross-check against tax returns.
Strangest recusal ever. AG Holder refused to answer questions put to him by Congress about the DOJ's seizure of phone records from the Associated Press saying he had 'recused' himself.
But he never put it in writing and he never told anyone about it until he was called as a witness.
28 USC § 591requires the Attorney General to do so. Otherwise no one will know and the AG could learn all sorts of stuff he's recused himself from the White House and elsewhere.
A completely phony recusal and probably illegal.
A massive Justice Department investigation into the disclosure by the Associated Press of an ongoing covert operation against an al Qaeda suicide cell in Yemen -- a probe that included a sweeping secret subpoena of the press association’s phone records -- has been justified by U.S. officials on the grounds that the news organization “put the American people at risk.”
But that assertion by Attorney General Eric Holder could be undermined by the White House’s decision to publicly comment about the operation at the time and reveal details beyond those in the original AP story, according to legal experts and counterterrorism officials.
Within hours after the AP published its May 7, 2012 story, then-White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan, currently the director of the CIA, held a background conference call in which he assured television network commentators that the bomb plot was never a threat to the American public or aviation safety.
The whole reason why DOJ seized the phone records appears to be phony too. AP replies to DOJ's lastest
"The scope of the subpoena was overbroad under the law, given that it involved seizing records from a broad range of telephones across AP’s newsgathering operation. More than 100 journalists work in the locations served by those telephones. How can we consider this inquiry to be narrowly drawn.
Rather than talk to us in advance, they seized these phone records in secret, saying that notifying us would compromise their investigation. They offer no explanation of this, however.
Instead they captured the telephone numbers between scores of AP journalists and the many people they talk to in the normal business of gathering news. How would narrowing the scope of the phone records have compromised their investigation?"
The AP held the story on the plot to put a bomb on an airliner to the US and didn't publish the story until the government assured them the national security concerns had passed
"Finally, they say this secrecy is important for national security. It is always difficult to respond to that, particularly since they still haven’t told us specifically what they are investigating.
We believe it is related to AP’s May 2012 reporting that the U.S. government had foiled a plot to put a bomb on an airliner to the United States. We held that story until the government assured us that the national security concerns had passed. Indeed, the White House was preparing to publicly announce that the bomb plot had been foiled."
Via Ann Althouse
STEFANO: This was before I joined Americans for Prosperity. I was just a stay-at-home mother. I was pregnant with another baby, and I wanted to do what was right. My Tea Party group was becoming really large and I couldn't run the money and the donations through my bank account. I was advised the IRS would come after you for that. So I started calling other groups and I thought I would file and create an organization, and here they were all getting targeted by the IRS, and I got scared.
RUSH: So Willis then said, "Well, what were they asking you?"
STEFANO: These are all out there now, and I have actually documents showing it. You know, "Send us your Facebook pages, your Twitter pages," and I said, "Does that include personal pages?" and they said, "Everything." They wanted to know your personal relationships with politicians and political parties. And I asked, "What would happen if I don't send this to you?" and they said, they made an insinuation like, "Look, it can be considered perjury if you omit things from the IRS." I'm a pregnant stay-at-home mother on one income, I thought, "Oh, my goodness, I'm not doing anything." I stopped.
RUSH: Exactly. She stopped. She's trying to set up a tax-exempt organization to raise money for the causes she believed in. She's a Tea Party woman. This is the War on Women. She didn't start the group. She did not start her group because she was scared of being charged with perjury if she didn't answer all the questions and send in all of the information that they were demanding. So there's your answer, in part, why the electorate didn't look the same in 2012 as it did in 2010. These groups were shut down. The regime shut them down, made it, in this woman's case, impossible for her to set up her fundraising group and to begin working on behalf of the things she believed in.
RUSH: Look, in plain, simple language for low-information voters to understand this. What was happening was, it just wasn't fair, folks, what the IRS was doing was not fair to these Tea Party groups. They were denying them the right to participate in the political process by harassing them because of what they believed. That's not American, that's not fair, and it was mean. It was really mean.
So far, 500 organizations were targeted.
A physician practicing in Kansas City, Milton Wolf is Obama's second cousin. In 2010 when he began speaking out and writing columns against Obamacare, the White House urged the Washington Times to drop him as a columnist and the IRS refused to give him his tax refund for several months.
J. Christian Adams, one of the Obama/Holder Department of Justice's most effective critics was told "it's no accident you were audited", Add Me to the List of IRS Targets.
A prominent Catholic professor who wrote articles critical of Obama was audited in 2010 and the IRS auditor wanted to know who was paying her and what the organizations' politics were. Since then she has not written a single article and said, "“It was clear they didn’t like me criticizing the people who helped pass Obamacare,” later adding, “The IRS is very frightening.”
Some Christian ministries were targeted. Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Samaritan’s Purse and the Biblical Recorder – all of which supported traditional marriage.
True the Vote was targeted in Houston. True the Vote is against election fraud and monitors polling places across the state. They applied for exemption 3 years ago and are still waiting.
True the Vote has been through five rounds of IRS questionnaires, the third of them came with nearly 150 questions.
"'We want to see every Facebook posting you've ever posted, and every tweet you've ever tweeted. And we want to know everywhere you've ever spoken,'" said Catherine Englebrecht, founder of the organization.
….documents reveal IRS employees admitted the application was being reviewed by a task force at the IRS in Washington, DC.
On top of that -- and maybe most concerning -- Englebrecht says her personal taxes were audited at the same time for the first time. And on the very day she got that lengthy questionnaire from the IRS, her business got its first visit from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in decades. Just months later, it received a visit from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
"In 20 years of being in business, none of that had ever happened," Englebrecht said…
."I don't want to believe that I started an effort to encourage citizens to work at the polls, and some three years later, I've been investigated by every government agency that exists," Englebrecht said.
Certain Democrat Senators encouraged the IRS to go after conservative groups. The WSJ reports
In a September 2010 letter to then-IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman, Montana Senator Max Baucus encouraged the IRS to investigate the use of nonprofit status by conservative groups.
In March 2012, New York Senator Chuck Schumer and six other Democrats signed a letter demanding that the IRS put a "cap" on spending by nonprofits or face legislation. In the meantime, they wrote, the groups should be forced to "show their math" to prove that they deserve the tax-exempt status they are applying for.
Several Soros-funded groups including the Campaign Legal Center, Democracy 21, the Center for Public Integrity, Mother Jones and Alternet have worked to pressure the IRS to target conservative nonprofit groups.
The IRS scandal can be traced back to a series of letters that the liberal groups Campaign Legal Center (CLC) and Democracy 21 sent to the IRS back in 2010 and 2011
The timeline and the letters can be seen at the link.
I didn't know that the IRS employees had a union: the National Treasury Employees Union. The NTEU endorsed Obama in 2008 and 2012 and gave 94% of its campaign money to anti-Tea Party candidates.
The Internal Revenue Service is now facing a class action lawsuit over allegations that it improperly accessed and stole the health records of some 10 million Americans, including medical records of all California state judges.
According to a report by Courthousenews.com, an unnamed HIPAA-covered entity in California is suing the IRS, alleging that some 60 million medical records from 10 million patients were stolen by 15 IRS agents. The personal health information seized on March 11, 2011, included psychological counseling, gynecological counseling, sexual/drug treatment and other medical treatment data.
“This is an action involving the corruption and abuse of power by several Internal Revenue Service agents,” the complaint reads. “No search warrant authorized the seizure of these records; no subpoena authorized the seizure of these records; none of the 10,000,000 Americans were under any kind of known criminal or civil investigation and their medical records had no relevance whatsoever to the IRS search.
“IT personnel at the scene, a HIPPA facility warning on the building and the IT portion of the searched premises, and the company executives each warned the IRS agents of these privileged records,” it continued.
According to the case, the IRS agents had a search warrant for financial data pertaining to a former employee of the John Doe company, however, "it did not authorize any seizure of any healthcare or medical record of any persons, least of all third parties completely unrelated to the matter," the complaint read.
The class action lawsuit against the IRS seeks $25,000 in compensatory damages "per violation per individual" in addition to punitive damages for constitutional violations. Thus, compensatory damages could start at a minimum of $250 billion
but Charlene Lamb, a deputy assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security, testified in October that budget cuts did not affect resources for security in Benghazi. On Face the Nation that same month, House Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa said the State Department was sitting on more than $2.2 billion in unused funds designated for embassy security.
The U.S. State Department has a $50 billion budget
The fact checker at the Washington Post gives Obama's claim that he called Benghazi 'an act of terrorism' Four Pinocchios meaning "Whoppers".
Eight months after the fact.
The president’s claim that he said ‘act of terrorism’ is taking revisionist history too far,” Kessler wrote in a post Tuesday, “given that [Obama] repeatedly refused to commit to that phrase when asked directly by reporters in the weeks after the attack.”
Mark Steyn calls out the Band of Brothers and the incestuous relationships between the mainstream media and the Obama Administration.
It was revealed today that CBS News President David Rhodes' brother is Obama Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes, who was instrumental in rewriting the Benghazi talking points. But it gets worse. It is now learned that ABC President Ben Sherwood's sister, Dr. Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, is a Special Assistant to Barack Obama on national security affairs. But even this isn't it! CNN's deputy bureau chief, Virginia Moseley, is the wife of Tom Nides, who until February was Hillary Clinton's deputy.
Groups not in line with the Administration are treated quite differently. The scandals keep multiplying.
Conservative groups seeking information from the Environmental Protection Agency have been routinely hindered by fees normally waived for media and watchdog groups, while fees for more than 90 percent of requests from green groups were waived, according to requests reviewed by the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
More than 573,000 birds are killed by the country's windfarms each year, including 83,000 hunting birds such as hawks, falcons and eagles, according to an estimate published in March in the peer-reviewed Wildlife Society Bulletin.
Each death is federal crime, a charge that the Obama administration has used to prosecute oil companies when birds drown in their waste pits, and power companies when birds are electrocuted by their power lines. No wind energy company has been prosecuted, even those that repeatedly flout the law.
"What it boils down to is this: If you electrocute an eagle, that is bad, but if you chop it to pieces, that is OK," said Tim Eicher, a former US Fish and Wildlife Service enforcement agent.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration has proposed a rule that would give wind-energy companies potentially decades of shelter from prosecution for killing eagles. The regulation is currently under review at the White House.
The proposal, made at the urging of the wind-energy industry, would allow companies to apply for 30-year permits to kill a set number of bald or golden eagles. Previously, companies were only eligible for five-year permits.
It's a Legal Double Standard Obama administration gives wind energy industry a pass on killing birds, but not oil and gas.
“She told me … they were going to deny my application,” he told WND. “She did get nervous though in the end when I pressed her that I wanted specific information about why I had to educate from a pro-abortion perspective not just pro-life. I explained to her that the Pro-Life Action League even has pro-life in their title and they certainly don’t teach pro-abortion topics and they are still 501©(3). I also told her that Planned Parenthood does not teach about pro-life issues yet they are also still a 501©(3).”
He also told WND that the IRS had rewritten his proposed bylaws “to paint our organization as a political organization. I couldn’t believe they took it upon themselves to do that,” he told WND.
Progressive-leaning investigative journalism group ProPublica says the IRS gave us conservative groups' confidential info whose tax-exempt status was pending.
James Bovard at The Wall Street Journal has a Brief History of IRS Political Targeting. One survey found that 75% of IRS respondents felt entitled to deceive or lie to Congress. Presidents Roosevelt, Kennedy, Nixon, and Clinton did it too. In the case of Nixon, his misuse of the IRS was the 2nd article of impeachment against him.
IRS demanded a reading list from an applicant for 503©(4) status The applicant sent back a copy of the Constitution.
IRS agents in Washington were involved in the targeting of conservative groups.
Obama's half-brother got retroactive tax-exempt status for the Obama Foundation despite never having applied for it and raising money anyway.
Chiefs at IRS Knew of Targeting and did nothing
The report of the Inspector General of the IRS is here. He found that "inappropriate criteria" was used to identify potential political cases which were then subject to "significant processing delays" and from whom "unnecessary information" was requested.
Not only is the targeting a violation of these groups’ First Amendment rights, it is a violation of the most carefully protected class of speech: core political speech, which the ourts have again and again recognized as central to the very functioning of the Republic. It makes little difference whether the IRS’s intention was to chill speech; it chose a tool likely to have that effect.
Such “viewpoint discrimination,” as it is known in jurisprudence, is “virtually per se unlawful,” according to constitutional litigator and NRO contributor Shannen Coffin. That is, it is such a pernicious subclass of free-speech restriction that it is all but unjustifiable by definition.
Trey Hardin: “I will tell you this on the IRS front. I’ve worked in this town for over 20 years in the White House and on Capitol Hill and I can say with a very strong sense of certainty that there are people very close to this president that not only knew what the IRS were doing but authorized it. It simply just does not happen at an agency level like that without political advisers likely in the West Wing certainly connected to the president’s ongoing campaign organization.”
Obama released a statement condemning the IRS for targeting conservative groups calling the actions "intolerable and inexcusable." Treasury Secretary Jack Lew charged with holding the responsible accountable and for implementing the IG's recommendations.
Politico reports that D.C. is turning on Obama
“And it goes beyond even the story,” National Journal’s Ron Fournier, who covered the Clinton and Bush scandals and was once the AP Washington bureau chief, said on the show. “One common thing with Benghazi and the IRS scandal, is we’re being misled every day. We were lied to on Benghazi, on the talking points behind Benghazi, for months. We were lied to by the IRS for months and now they’re sending a clear message to our sources: Don’t embarrass the administration or we’re coming after you.”
UPDATE/ A flashback to 2009. Glenn Reynolds writes in the WSJ, Tax Audits Are No Laughing Matter
At his Arizona State University commencement speech last Wednesday, Mr. Obama noted that ASU had refused to grant him an honorary degree, citing his lack of experience, and the controversy this had caused. He then demonstrated ASU's point by remarking, "I really thought this was much ado about nothing, but I do think we all learned an important lesson. I learned never again to pick another team over the Sun Devils in my NCAA brackets. . . . President [Michael] Crowe and the Board of Regents will soon learn all about being audited by the IRS."
Should the IRS come to be seen as just a bunch of enforcers for whoever is in political power, the result would be an enormous loss of legitimacy for the tax system.
This is why the IRS is so strict with its own employees. Paul Caron, a professor at the University of Cincinnati who writes the TaxProf blog, noted in response to Mr. Obama's remarks that the law calls for the termination of IRS employees who make audit threats for illegitimate reasons. He suggested that Mr. Obama's "joke" might be grounds for firing if he were an IRS employee.
105-Year-Old Texas Woman Reveals Bacon as her Secret behind Long Life She outlived 3 of her 7 children and her husband and attributes her long life to eating bacon every day. Bacon.
$763 billion. The One Number You Need to Know in O’s Budget. That's the amount we'll be paying in interest payments in 2023 if Obama's budget is enacted. According to Kevin Williamson,
Under Obama’s budget, in 2020 interest payments alone would amount to more than national-defense spending in that year. By 2023, interest payments alone would amount to more than all nondefense discretionary spending in that year.
Politically and economically unsustainable. Not one person in Congress voted for it.
It does not stand a chance of being ratified into law, but it is worth noting the fact that the president of the United States has just proposed a budget that amounts to a national economic suicide pact. And he couldn’t even be bothered to do that on time. There may be a political case for his having done so, but as national economic leadership, this budget is grossly irresponsible.
Pew research reports US gun homicide rate down 49% over last 20 years
Two takeaways from the WSJ piece on The Crucial Years for Protecting Your Eye Health: By age 40, the lens of the eye gradually loses the ability to focus. If you're buying off-the -shelf reading glasses, don't select the ones that appear to make things clearest. It's probably a stronger prescription than your eyes need which can encourage their loss of focus to go faster. Don't wear your reading glasses while using the computer because it may encourage your eyes to weaken faster.
New regulations, policies, taxes, fees and mandates are the reason for the unexpected "rate shock," according to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which released a report Monday based on internal documents provided by the insurance companies. The 17 companies include Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Kaiser Foundation.
Iran is now chairing the UN Council on Disarmament. Tossup as to whether that's more outrageous than Syria as chair of the UN Human Rights Committee
Americans are ditching driving Young people no longer see driving as freedom because they've only known driving as congestion.
Legal Insurrection reports : The FIRE ""The Government has mandated speech codes on all campuses"
The Foundation for Individual Rights In Higher Education (FIRE) is the premier non-partisan organization fighting to protect free speech and other constitutional rights on campus. The FIRE defends everyone’s rights, regardless of political affiliation. The FIRE is not an organization prone to hyperbole.
So when I received this email late this afternoon from FIRE Senior Vice President Robert Shibley, it got my attention:
THIS. IS. OUTRAGEOUS. The government has mandated speech codes on all campuses. I hoped I would never see this day, but I feared I would
FIRE's press release
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT MANDATES UNCONSTITUTIONAL SPEECH CODES AT COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES NATIONWIDE
WASHINGTON, May 10, 2013—In a shocking affront to the United States Constitution, the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education have joined together to mandate that virtually every college and university in the United States establish unconstitutional speech codes that violate the First Amendment and decades of legal precedent.
“I am appalled by this attack on free speech on campus from our own government,” said Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which has been leading the fight against unconstitutional speech codes on America’s college campuses since its founding in 1999. “In 2011, the Department of Education took a hatchet to due process protections for students accused of sexual misconduct. Now the Department of Education has enlisted the help of the Department of Justice to mandate campus speech codes so broad that virtually every student will regularly violate them. The DOE and DOJ are ignoring decades of legal decisions, the Constitution, and common sense, and it is time for colleges and the public to push back.”
In a letter sent yesterday to the University of Montana that explicitly states that it is intended as “a blueprint for colleges and universities throughout the country,” the Departments of Justice and Education have mandated a breathtakingly broad definition of sexual harassment that makes virtually every student in the United States a harasser while ignoring the First Amendment. The mandate applies to every college receiving federal funding—virtually every American institution of higher education nationwide, public or private.
Among the forms of expression now punishable on America’s campuses by order of the federal government are:
Any expression related to sexual topics that offends any person. This leaves a wide range of expressive activity—a campus performance of “The Vagina Monologues,” a presentation on safe sex practices, a debate about sexual morality, a discussion of gay marriage, or a classroom lecture on Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita—subject to discipline.
Any sexually themed joke overheard by any person who finds that joke offensive for any reason.
Any request for dates or any flirtation that is not welcomed by the recipient of such a request or flirtation.
There is likely no student on any campus anywhere who is not guilty of at least one of these “offenses.” Any attempt to enforce this rule evenhandedly and comprehensively will be impossible….
WELL, we' re learning a lot more about the IRS, the agency which, by law, we entrust with our most private financial information. We are now seeing what happens when this agency with extraordinary powers becomes partisan and politically corrupt. 'Witch hunt', 'Inquisition', 'absolutely chilling' are on the lips of conservatives and liberals.
And this agency is about to hire thousands, as many as 16,000, new IRS agents to enforce Obamacare, the 47 tax provisions under the law, even deciding who gets included.
What we know so far:
According to the Inspector General of the IRS, the IRS began targeting conservatives in 2010.
groups focused on government spending, government debt, taxes, and education on ways to "make America a better place to live." It even flagged groups whose file included criticism of "how the country is being run."
By early 2012, the criteria were updated to include organizations involved in "limiting/expanding government," education on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and social economic reform.
Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins …"This is truly outrageous and it contributes to the profound distrust that the American people have in government," Collins told CNN's "State of the Union." "It is absolutely chilling that the IRS was singling out conservative groups for extra review. And I think that it's very disappointing that the president hasn't personally condemned this."
The Jewish Press reports the IRS targeted pro-Israeli groups.
They may also have leaked confidential information.
Brian Bow, the president of the National Organization on the Family said
“There is little question that one or more employees at the IRS stole our confidential tax return and leaked it to our political enemies, in violation of federal law,”
Back when Richard Nixon was president, the thought that he might use the IRS to go after his enemies was greeted with horror by everyone. To my knowledge he never did so.
Now the IRS admits they went after it targeted organizations with 'patriot' or 'tea party' in their name and scrutinized them excessively.
Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt groups, said
"That was wrong. That was absolutely incorrect, it was insensitive and it was inappropriate. That's not how we go about selecting cases for further review," Lerner said at a conference sponsored by the American Bar Association.
"The IRS would like to apologize for that," she added.
If this were a private organization the wrong-doers would be fired immediately. But the government never fires anyone, so the bad eggs stay on, maybe on suspension, but almost certainly continuing to draw their pay.
They should be fired, kicked out and the fear of God put into every single IRS employee.
Hugh Hewitt summed it up in the headline of his blog piece:
Never have so many “journalists” been so blase about terrorism, the murder of Americans, the heroism of SEALs and a cover-up at the highest levels of Washington, D.C. including the sitting president and a possible future president.
The testimony of Greg Hicks was riveting. As the career official recounted the events that night , he choked up several times. Listening to him, so did I.
When he heard Susan Rice say on 5 different Sunday talk shows that the cause was a stupid YouTube video, the senior American on the ground in Libya, he said, "I was stunned. My jaw dropped."
The Administration was very busy that night. ABC News reports Benghazi Talking Points Underwent 12 Revisions, Scrubbed of Terror Reference
Stephen Hayes reports in The Benghazi Scandal Grows
The original CIA talking points had been blunt: The assault on U.S. facilities in Benghazi was a terrorist attack conducted by a large group of Islamic extremists, including some with ties to al Qaeda.
These were strong claims. The CIA usually qualifies its assessments, providing policymakers a sense of whether the conclusions of its analysis are offered with “high confidence,” “moderate confidence,” or “low confidence.” That first draft signaled confidence, even certainty: “We do know that Islamic extremists with ties to al Qaeda participated in the attack.”
There was good reason for this conviction. Within 24 hours of the attack, the U.S. government had intercepted communications between two al Qaeda-linked terrorists discussing the attacks in Benghazi. One of the jihadists, a member of Ansar al Sharia, reported to the other that he had participated in the assault on the U.S. diplomatic post. Solid evidence. And there was more. Later that same day, the CIA station chief in Libya had sent a memo back to Washington, reporting that eyewitnesses to the attack said the participants were known jihadists, with ties to al Qaeda.
There are many questions that can not be answered until a Select Committee is appointed to investigate them.
1. Why did the State Department deny the consulate extra security, leaving it essentially unguarded in a war zone despite two previous attacks?
2. Once the attack started, why were military resources told to stand down when they wanted to go rescue the besieged Americans?
3. Why did the Administration lie about what happened, even over the coffins of the dead?
What is going on in the defense department? They are on the search for extremists in uniform but they are relying on extreme groups to advise them on who is an extremist.
It was just last month that the US Army Labelled Catholics, Orthodox Jews and Evangelicals as Religious Extremists on a par with Al Qaeda, Hamas, the Ku Klux Klan, Sunni Muslims and the Nation of Islam.
The presentation also warned that members of the military are prohibited from taking leadership roles in any organization the Pentagon considers 'extremist,' and from distributing the organization's literature, whether on or off a military installation.
Turns out the presentation was heavily influenced by Maurice Dees, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center whose fear-mongering has amassed so much money that it's probably the richest anti-poverty organization in the history of the world, an organization that gets an "F" rating from Charity Watch Dees is called the "King of the Hate Business" by the late progressive leftist Alexander Cockburn. Cockburn decried the highly gullible and often highly educated people who continue to respond to the SLPC hate appeals with millions of dollars.
Now let's turn to the new Pentagon consultant on tolerance, Mikey Weinstein.
You probably saw the story earlier this week, Pentagon Taps Anti-Christian Extremist for Religious Tolerance Policy
Mikey Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), in a column he wrote for the Huffington Post. Weinstein will be a consultant to the Pentagon to develop new policies on religious tolerance, including a policy for court-martialing military chaplains who share the Christian Gospel during spiritual counseling of American troops.
Weinstein decries what he calls the “virulent religious oppression” perpetrated by conservative Christians, whom he refers to as “monstrosities” and “pitiable unconstitutional carpetbaggers,” comparing them to “bigots” in the Deep South during the civil rights era. “Today, we face incredibly well-funded gangs of fundamentalist Christian monsters who terrorize their fellow Americans by forcing their weaponized and twisted version of Christianity upon their helpless subordinates in our nation’s armed forces.” ….Regarding those who teach orthodox Christian beliefs from the Bible, Weinstein concludes, “Let’s call these ignoble actions what they are: the senseless and cowardly squallings of human monsters.”
Weinstein then endorses the ultra-left Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), who publishes a list of “hate groups.” Alongside truly deplorable organizations like the KKK, the SPLC’s list includes a host of traditional Christian organizations (for their support of traditional marriage) and Tea Party organizations (for supporting limited government). Weinstein says SPLC correctly labels them all as “hate groups.”
In other words, it should be the official policy of the United States to decree what a human being’s spiritual needs are, and punish for violations a military officer who is an ordained clergyman who attempts to share his own personal faith with another service member when discussing religious matters. You cannot imagine such a thing ever happening under any previous president.
God help us now when someone with such visceral hatred of conservative Christians—literally tens of millions of Americans—who says sharing this gospel is “spiritual rape” is helping develop policies for how to deal with Christians in the military.
Weinstein says those guilty of this “treason” must be “punished.” Under federal law, the penalty for treason is death. And the Obama administration is sitting down to talk with this man to craft new policies for “religious tolerance” in our military.
What is this hater doing consulting with the Pentagon on tolerance? I have been reassured that there's been no change in policy at the Pentagon.
But, but. The Pentagon's hiring of Mikey Weinstein, a raving anti-Christian as a consultant on tolerance is extremely troubling.
And the Washington Post, CNN, ABC News and others treats him as a serious commentator on faith in the military? Substitute “Muslim” for “Christian” in any of these comments and the brass wouldn’t let him darken the Pentagon’s doors.
Sadly, because he meets with generals – because the likes of the Washington Post take him seriously — he may very well exercise influence over the military’s religious policy. I have no problem with the Pentagon meeting with a wide vareity of credible voices as it formulates and refines religious policies, but this is a man who literally demands courts-martial for speech he dislikes, a man who declares that servicemembers exposed to Christian ideas are “spiritual rape victims.”
Mikey Weinstein meets with generals because the media give him power. Blinded by their own fear, ignorance, and hate, they give voice to an extremist they would condemn in virtually any another context. It’s pathetic and embarrassing.
The Pentagon has been clueless in the past. But clueless is not the right word. Pathetic cowering so they would not been seen as politically incorrect is more exact.
Remember Major Nidal Malik Hassan who shouted "Allahu Akbar " as he killed 13 people and injured 32 others at the Fort Hood military base in November, 2009 . The Senate described the Ft Hood shootings as "the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil since September 11, 2001." The Department of Defense classified the shootings as "workplace violence." He has been judged sane and is being tried in a military court . Hassan has twice offered to plead guilty, but Army rules prohibit the judge from accepting a guilty plea in a death penalty case.
While enlisted in the Army, Hassan earned his medical degree and completed his internship and residency at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. In 2009 he received a promotion from Captain to Major and was transferred to Ft Hood despite a poor performance evaluation. Since 2004 he become increasingly radicalized. He was against the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, visited violent Jihadist web sites where as a commentator he supported suicide bombers and carried on email correspondence with Anwar al_Awlaki, the American Al Qaeda jihadist living in Yemen, who repeatedly called for violent jihad against the US until his death by a drone attack in Yemen in 2011.
Despite the fact that Hassan's colleagues and superiors were deeply concerned about his aggressive, agitated behavior and extremist comments which they described as "paranoid" and "schizoid", nobody raised any red flags. Cowardly behavior that can not be justified but only explained by surrender to political correctness.
Perhaps the Hassan case explains why the military is hunting for extremists in its ranks. But it doesn't explain the deeply confused thinking by the Pentagon whose spokesman is trying to make a distinction between evangelizing and proselytizing that doesn't exist..
We are justifiably proud of the brave men and women who make up our all volunteer army. A 2008 survey found that Christians make up 77% of those in military service, 22% claim no religion and about 1% is made up of other religions. Is there any evidence whatsoever of the "virulent religious oppression" by conservative Christians that Mikey Weinstein claims?
What does it do to their morale to have the Pentagon, in an appalling exercise of moral equivalence, calling them religious extremists? What do they think about a Pentagon advisor calling them "spiritual rapists" and "monstrosities"? Would this be tolerated for a second if Muslims were called that?
We ask these men to be ready to die at any time to preserve our freedoms. Surely they deserve better.
More people now die of suicide than in car accidents reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There is a 30% surge in suicides among middle-aged Americans (35-64).
Boomers account for the largest increase. For men in their 50s, suicide rates jumped nearly 50% and women in their early 60s, the increase was nearly 60%. Some explanation lies in the economic downtown and the increased availability of opioid drugs. Maybe it's the increased stress of caring for aging parents while still providing financial and emotional support to adult children. I expect life just didn't pan out the way they expected or wanted, and, having discarded religion, they had no source for hope.
Among never-married adults ages 30 to 50, men (27%) are more likely than women (8%) to say they do not want to marry. That's a very great gap. As one commenter pointed out, marriage holds no real benefits for men any more.
The Real Problems With Psychiatry Hope Reese interviews Gary Greenberg
A psychotherapist contends that the DSM, psychiatry's "bible" that defines all mental illness, is not scientific but a product of unscrupulous politics and bureaucracy.
Nobody can define mental illness.
one of the issues with taking these categories too seriously is that it eliminates the moral aspect behind certain behaviors.
The American Psychiatric Association owns the DSM, (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, now in its 5th edition) They aren't only responsible for it: they own it, sell it, and license it. The DSM is created by a group of committees. It's a bureaucratic process. In place of scientific findings, the DSM uses expert consensus to determine what mental disorders exist and how you can recognize them….
Dr. Joy Bliss, another MD Psychiatrist and Psychoanalyst, comments
I tend to think that the whole thing is a pseudo-medical charade, designed for the drug industry and for the insurance industry's convenience.
If "mental health" cannot be defined, how can you draw lines to define "mental illness"? You can, at the extremes, but otherwise you can't. Everybody is a little nuts.
The Oregon Trial A new study exposes Medicaid's flaws, but liberals call it success.
On Wednesday the New England Journal published the results from year two of the Oregon project, which "showed that Medicaid coverage generated no significant improvements in measured physical health outcomes" versus being uninsured. If Medicaid were a new drug, in other words, the FDA would reject it.
Medicaid in Oregon did nearly eliminate catastrophic medical expenses, compared to 5.5% of the uninsured control group that experienced a ruinous illness or injury. But that sure sounds like an argument for reforming Medicaid to extend basic catastrophic coverage to more poor people, instead of holding Medicaid lotteries.
Extending Medicaid benefits to the poor did not improve their health whatsoever. It did improve their mental health and reduce their financial strain and hardship. Megan McArdyle explains why this study is a big, big deal.
Government health insurance unquestionably functions as income protection. What's less clear is whether it functions as health protection.
In its story U.S. Opens Spigot After Farmers Claim Discrimination, the New York Times vindicates Andrew Breitbart when it finally reports on the Pigford Scandal.
political appointees in the Obama administration’s Justice and Agriculture Departments turned a potential government court victory into $1.3 billion settlement for Hispanic and female farmers — some of whom never even claimed discrimination in court. The story also detailed how the feds relied on a flawed payout system for black farmers that was ripe with fraud and revealed that career officials in the Agriculture Department had opposed the program.
The Washington Free Beacon calls it an "absolutely epic story" says the Obama Administration got away with $50,000 payouts to black farmers over the objections of career employees and officials of the Justice Department who said there was no evidence of widespread discrimination for fear of being called racist.
The compensation effort sprang from a desire to redress what the government and a federal judge agreed was a painful legacy of bias against African-Americans by the Agriculture Department. But an examination by The New York Times shows that it became a runaway train, driven by racial politics, pressure from influential members of Congress and law firms that stand to gain more than $130 million in fees. In the past five years, it has grown to encompass a second group of African-Americans as well as Hispanic, female and Native American farmers. In all, more than 90,000 people have filed claims. The total cost could top $4.4 billion. …
From Daniel Foster, One anecdote
In fact, he boasted, he and his four siblings had all collected awards, and his sister had acquired another $50,000 on behalf of their dead father. She cinched the claim, he said to a ripple of laughter, by asserting that her father had whispered on his deathbed, “I was discriminated against by U.S.D.A.”
“The judge has said since you all look alike, whichever one says he came into the office, that’s the one to pay — hint, hint,” he said. “There is no limit to the amount of money, and there is no limit to the amount of folks who can file.” He closed with a rousing exhortation: “Let’s get the judge to go to work writing them checks! They have just opened the bank vault.”
The National Review editorializes Pigford Forever
The Times reports in great depth, instead of closing the spigot, in 2010 the Obama administration did not just acquiesce to, it spearheaded the expansion of, the Pigford con on the taxpayer’s dime, and saw to it that not just black Americans, but any woman, Hispanic, or Native American who could so much as gesture at discrimination had access to a billion-dollar pool of easy money.
Pigford and its spawn instead resembles in organization and aim a criminal conspiracy of breathtaking proportions, and one in which the federal government was first complicit and then ultimately responsible. The Times report exposes — as Dan Foster did in his piece for us two years ago — Senator, Candidate, and President Obama’s advocacy for the settlements as barely alloyed quid pro quo, in which Pigford profiteers promised to help Obama run up the score against Hillary Clinton in the rural South in exchange for his work on their behalf. Similarly, the Hispanic case was negligently settled at the urging of the polluted Senator Robert Menendez, who threatened to make noise if the Department of Justice did not give Hispanics the same deal the president gave blacks.
At a minimum, a congressional investigation is needed, as is congressional intervention in the continued administration of the payouts.
Progressive Racism - the hundredth anniversary of President Woodrow Wilson’s segregation of the civil service
One hundred years ago today, Woodrow Wilson brought Jim Crow to the North
Wilson, our first professorial president, was a case in point. He was the very model of a modern Progressive, and he was recognized as such. He prided himself on having pioneered the new science of rational administration, and he shared the conviction, dominant among his brethren, that African-Americans were racially inferior to whites. With the dictates of Social Darwinism and the eugenics movement in mind, in 1907, he campaigned in Indiana for the compulsory sterilization of criminals and the mentally retarded; and in 1911, while governor of New Jersey, he proudly signed into law just such a bill.
Prior to the segregation of the civil service in 1913, appointments had been made solely on merit as indicated by the candidate’s performance on the civil-service examination. Thereafter, racial discrimination became the norm. Photographs came to be required at the time of application, and African-Americans knew they would not be hired. The existing work force was segregated. Many African-Americans were dismissed. In the postal service, others were transferred to the dead-letter office, where they had no contact with the general public. Those who continued to work in municipal post offices labored behind screens — out of sight and out of mind. When the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the National Independent Political League objected to the new policy, Wilson — a Presbyterian elder who was nothing if not high-minded — vigorously defended it, arguing that segregation was in the interest of African-Americans. For 35 years, segregation in the civil service would be public policy. It was only after Adolf Hitler gave eugenics and “scientific racism” a bad name that segregation came to seem objectionable.
The relief program, which disbursed grants of up to $30,000 to more than 24,000 homeowners, was supposed to be used to elevate homes and protect property in areas vulnerable to storm surges. Instead, as the report by Inspector General of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) David Montoya now shows, of the $1 billion earmarked for home improvements, homeowners seem to have spent a striking majority - at least $700 million - on anything but.
Now, HUD is putting pressure on the State of Louisiana to recover the disbursed grants, though Montoya has stated that chances officials will get the money back are slim to none. Still, according to the Inspector General’s report, homeowners who received HUD assistance for home elevation are legally on the hook for completing the work.
Instead of telling residents that the government will pay up to $30,000 for them to get their houses elevated, and all the residents would have to do was send the government an actual invoice from a reputable renovation company – one that was on the governments “approved list”, the government instead gave a blank cheque to these people in the hope they would do the right thing and spend the money responsibly.
They didn't. Clearly they saw this $30,000 disbursed by the government as free money to be spent in any way they wanted. Fat chance any of it will be recovered.
You've probably seen this, but it's so idiotic, I had to make note of it.
The U.S. Army listed Evangelical Christianity and Catholicism as examples of religious extremism along with Al Qaeda and Hamas during a briefing with an Army Reserve unit based in Pennsylvania, Fox News has learned.
The incident occurred during an Army Reserve Equal Opportunity training brief on extremism. Topping the list is Evangelical Christianity. Other organizations listed included Catholicism, Al Qaeda, Hamas, the Ku Klux Klan, Sunni Muslims, and Nation of Islam.
The military also listed “Islamophobia” as a form of religious extremism.
Mark Steyn points out in Don’t Fire Until You See The Whites of Their Cassocks
Think of the number of people involved in the creation, printing and distribution of this graphic — and along the way not one of them stopped to say, “Hey, this is totally dumb.”
When Major Hasan got a case of Pre-Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and opened fire at Fort Hood standing on a table yelling “Allahu Akbar!”, it was just the luck of the draw: He could have been shouting the Angelus. Best to prepare for all eventualities.
The presentation also warned that members of the military are prohibited from taking leadership roles in any organization the Pentagon considers 'extremist,' and from distributing the organization's literature, whether on or off a military installation.
Citing a Southern Poverty Law Center report as evidence that extremism is on the rise, the Army Reserve presentation blames 'the superheated fears generated by economic dislocation, a proliferation of demonizing conspiracy theories,the changing racial make-up of America and the prospect of 4 more years under a black president who many on the far right view as an enemy to their country.'
Good grief. It is very scary that the Pentagon is basing these scurrilous charges on 'information' provided by Maurice Dees.
The Southern Poverty Law Center and its President Maurice Dees are notoriously anti-Christian hate-mongerers, challenged by the left and the right, as Charlotte Allen points out this week in "The King of Fearmongers." (via Ed Driscoll) Fearmongering has proved to be extremely lucrative for Dees and the SPLC.
Thanks to the generosity of four decades’ worth of donors, many of whom—as SPLC president Richard Cohen himself noted in a telephone interview with me—are aging Northern-state “1960s liberals” who continue to associate “Southern” and “poverty” with lynchings, white-hooded Klansmen, and sitting at the back of the bus, and thanks also to what can only be described as the sheer genius at direct-mail marketing of Dees, the SPLC’s 76-year-old lawyer-founder, who was already a multimillionaire by the late 1960s from the direct-mail sales of everything from doormats to cookbooks, the SPLC is probably the richest poverty organization in the history of the world. From its very beginning the SPLC, thanks to Dees’s talent for crafting multi-page alarmist fundraising letters, has not only continuously operated in the black, but has steadily accumulated a mountain of surpluses augmented by a shrewdly managed investment portfolio. Today the SPLC’s net assets total more than $256 million (that figure appears on the SPLC’s 2011 tax return, the latest posted on the organization’s website)
Its severest critics aren’t on the conservative right … but on the progressive left. … . that one of the most vituperative of all the critics was the recently deceased Alexander Cockburn, columnist for the Nation and the leftist webzine CounterPunch. In a 2009 article for CounterPunch titled “King of the Hate Business,” Cockburn castigated Dees and the SPLC for using the 2008 election of Barack Obama as America’s first black president as yet another wringer for squeezing out direct-mail donations from “trembling liberals” by painting an apocalyptic picture of “millions of [anti-Obama] extremists primed to march down Main Street draped in Klan robes, a copy of Mein Kampf tucked under one arm and a Bible under the other.” Cockburn continued: “Ever since 1971 U.S. Postal Service mailbags have bulged with Dees’ fundraising letters, scaring dollars out of the pockets of trembling liberals aghast at his lurid depictions of hate-sodden America, in dire need of legal confrontation by the SPLC.”
What has infuriated the SPLC’s liberal critics is their suspicion that Morris Dees has used the SPLC primarily as a fundraising machine fueled by his direct-mail talents that generates a nice living for himself (the SPLC’s 2010 tax filing lists a compensation package of $345,000 for him as the organization’s chief trial counsel and highest-paid employee) and a handful of other high ranking SPLC officials plus luxurious offices and perks, but that does relatively little in the way of providing the legal services to poor people that its name implies.
One of the SPLC’s leitmotifs is that there is an ever-spiraling amount of hate in America.
there may soon come a day when the SPLC’s donation-generating machine, powered by Dees’s mastery of the use of “hate” to coax dollars from the highly educated and the highly gullible, finally breaks down. That is why, according to Cohen, the SPLC has no intention of soon spending down much of that $256 million in stockpiled assets that has earned the center an “F” rating from CharityWatch. “We’ve tried to raise a substantial endowment, because our fundraising is on a downward trend,” Cohen told me. “Those 1960s liberals—they’re getting older, and the post office is dying. We’re likely to be out of the fundraising business within 10 years.” What the SPLC wants to do is to ensure that “hate” is forever.
With time-running out before the major provisions of President Obama’s health care law are set to be implemented, the official tasked with making sure the law’s key insurance exchanges are up and running is already lowering expectations.
The bulk of ObamaCare doesn't take effect until next year. That's when the so-called insurance exchanges are supposed to be up and running, when the mandate on individuals and businesses kicks in, and when the avalanche of regulations on the insurance industry hits.
Boost insurance costs a 3.5% surcharge on insurance plans sold through federally run exchanges. There's also a $63 fee for every person covered by employers. And the law adds a "premium tax" that will require insurers to pay more than $100 billion over the next decade. The congressional Joint Committee on Taxation expects insurers to simply pass this tax onto individuals and small businesses, boosting premiums another 2.5%.
Push millions off employer coverage. In February, the Congressional Budget Office said that 7 million will likely lose their employer coverage thanks to ObamaCare — nearly twice its previous estimate. That number could be as high as 20 million, the CBO says.
Cause premiums to skyrocket. Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini said ObamaCare will likely cause premiums to double for some small businesses and individuals.
And a more recent survey of insurers in five major cities by the American Action Forum found they expect premiums to climb an average 169%.
Cost people their jobs. ….human resources consulting firm Adecco found that half of the small businesses it surveyed in January either plan to cut their workforce, not hire new workers, or shift to part-time or temporary help because of ObamaCare.
Tax the middle class …. much of the $800 billion in tax hikes imposed by ObamaCare will end up hitting the middle class...
Add to the deficit. The Government Accountability Office reported in January that Obama-Care will likely add $6.2 trillion in red ink over 75 years…..
Cost more than promised….GAO reported in January that Obama-Care will likely add $6.2 trillion in red ink over 75 years
Be a bureaucratic nightmare. Consumers got their first glimpse of life under ObamaCare when the Health and Human Services Department released a draft insurance application form. It runs 21 pages. "Applying for benefits under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul could be as daunting as doing your taxes," the AP concluded after Exacerbate doctor shortages.
Exacerbate doctor shortages. Last summer, a study by the Association of American Medical Colleges found that the country will have 62,900 fewer doctors than its needs by 2015, thanks in large part to ObamaCare
Leave millions uninsured. After 10 years, ObamaCare will still leave 30 million without coverage, according to the CBO. As IBD reported, that figure could be much higher if the law causes premiums to spike and encourages people to drop coverage despite the law's mandate.
It would take more than 35,000 full-time employees working year round to fully comply with the monstrous Red Tape Tower the law has become.
In 2009, DI began paying out more in benefits than it took in from payroll taxes. By 2016, it is set to run out of money.
Two factors are driving the program's explosive growth: first, newly liberalized eligibility standards. …heart disease was the top cause of DI awards in 1961. Today, with the new eligibility standards, back pain and mental illness top the list. As a result, the share of all adults receiving DI benefits doubled from 2.3 percent in 1989 to 4.6 percent in 2009.
The second reason for the exploding disability rolls and continued record-setting is the continued weakness of President Obama's economic recovery. It has been thoroughly established that DI applications correlate not with worker health but with worker employment prospects.
Once a worker qualifies, he or she possesses an asset producing a guaranteed income of $13,000 a year for life, plus free health care through the Medicare program. (Compare that with the average minimum-wage job, which offers only $15,000 a year without health care.) The benefits are far from extravagant, but they can offer older workers a bridge to the Social Security retirement age, and an early start on Medicare. Fewer than 1 percent of workers who go on DI ever leave the rolls. Don't blame the applicants or the beneficiaries -- they are just responding to the incentives the government creates through the DI program. The only way someone can lose DI is by working SEmD which is one reason most never try. Instead, for many who were perfectly able to work a few months ago, DI has become a voluntary life sentence to idle poverty.
Planet Money reporter Chana Joffe-Walt uncovered a “disability industrial complex” fraught with fraud that churns out 14 million checks every month to citizens the government has deemed disabled.
Disabled workers do not get counted in the unemployment figures. If they did, the numbers would be far higher.
The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program—which covers kids and adults—has exploded. SSI is now seven times larger than it was 30 years ago.
The report suggests that the much-touted Welfare to Work policies of the 1990s that appeared to successfully move welfare recipients off the public dole may have been a mirage. States have figured out that shifting people from welfare to disability frees up substantial funds, as states have to pay the costs of welfare, but the federal government picks up the tab for disability.
“That’s a kind of ugly secret of the American labor market,” said MIT economist David Autor. “Part of the reason our unemployment rates have been low, until recently, is that a lot of people who would have trouble finding jobs are on a different program.”
Joffe-Walt says disability has “become a de facto welfare program for people without a lot of education or job skills.”
Only an exclusive handful of countries enjoy inclusion in the Global Entry program -- Canada, Mexico, South Korea and the Netherlands. According to the IPT, some officials are questioning why Saudi Arabia gets to reap the benefits of the program, when key U.S. allies like Germany and France are not enrolled; Israel has reached a deal with the U.S., but that partnership has not yet been implemented.
The program allows travelers who have undergone a thorough vetting process -- fingerprinting, background checks, interviews with customs agents, etc.-- to attain a low-risk status that allows them to skip the line at customs and complete their entry process at an automatic kiosk.
Walter Russell Mead looks at the " pre-eminent civil rights problem of our day -[that] is devastating minority communities throughout the country."
Disgraced ex-Mayor and shameless identity politician Kwame Kilpatrick has been convicted on twenty-four counts of extortion, racketeering, and bribery. The stunningly corrupt politician, who looted from Detroit’s poor and needy to pay for a life of luxury he never earned, is going to jail. His life is ruined, and his family has been shamed.
It’s only fitting that today, a must-read piece in the NYT (co-authored by Mary Williams Walsh, one of the country’s most careful, thoughtful reporters on state and local pension issues) details the social and fiscal nightmare Detroit’s thugocracy has bequeathed to the young and vulnerable who still inhabit the ruined city. The latest bit of misery was unearthed by a financial consultant brought in to dig through Detroit’s books. He found “an additional $7.2 billion in retiree health costs that had never been reported, or even tallied up.” Until 2008, Detroit was not required to keep track of its workers’ lifetime health care bills. Now, of course, it’s the people who are least able to pay who will bear the brunt of this.
The report follows Detroit’s descent from one of America’s greatest cities into a Third World-style wasteland of incompetence and corruption where streetlights are dark, police don’t respond to calls, and the poor are left to fend for themselves. The process of ruin took decades and is the work of more than one generation of a degenerate political class. But Kwame Kilpatrick’s story is a reminder that the hyenas are still picking at what little is left of the city’s corpse.
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:
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.
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.
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 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.
If you want a budget, lock up the Congress, take away their cellphones and Internet, don't let them go to fund raisers, and if necessary put them on bread and water until they pass a budget. It has worked for hundreds of years in the Catholic Church, it might even work in Washington.
Saying Anything to Get More Money
SEC Charges Illinois for Misleading Pension Disclosures Investors in municipal bonds were mislead about the underfunding of pension obligations, a fact that significantly increased their financial risk.
Ignoring Obvious Corruption because of party loyalty
The descent of the once great city of Detroit into chaos, corruption and insolvency is illuminated by the conviction yesterday of former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (D) on 24 separate federal corruption charges, which could cost him up to 20 years in prison. ABC, CBS, and NBC could not be bothered to even mention the conviction of this disgraced ex-mayor of a major, blighted American city on their nightly news programs.
Making Invidious Racial Distinctions Inspector General Report on Racialist Dysfunction inside DOJ
The 250-page report offers an inside glimpse of systemic racialist dysfunction inside one of the most powerful federal government agencies.
Though the report took almost four years to complete, it was worth the wait. Though the report commenced as an investigation into the New Black Panther dismissal, seemingly every rock the investigators turned over resulted in more creatures fleeing the sunshine. The final report captures a range of outrageous conduct, including the following examples:
But yesterday’s DOJ inspector general’s report makes plain: many staff inside the Justice Department define Section 5 exactly as Scalia does: as a “racial entitlement.”
In the report, Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez — a possible Obama nominee to head the Department of Labor — makes clear that he doesn’t think Section 5 should ever be used to protect a white minority in covered jurisdictions.
Perez feels it should only be used to prop up the political position of “people of color.” If the victims of discrimination happen to be white, too bad — they are not protected.
The very man responsible for this terrible state of affairs in one of our most powerful agencies is now Obama's nominee for Secretary of Labor. Why Thomas Perez Should be Blocked.
How long will it take before Congress deals with the very real problems of our mounting debt?
“If you want a sense of just how massive the nation’s debt problem is, consider this: The U.S. added $226 billion in new debt in just the 35 days since President Obama missed the legal deadline to submit his budget. That’s more than the government will spend this year on education, homeland security, law enforcement, housing aid, energy and the environment, combined.” Instapundit
House GOP would cancel health care reforms, trim $5t in spending
The proposal that Ryan will release Tuesday morning would balance the budget in 10 years by reducing overall federal spending growth from 4.9 percent to 3.4 percent for a savings of $5 trillion over the next decade, Ryan told "Fox News Sunday."
Ryan's budget will include controversial changes to Medicare that he first rolled out last year, including converting the program to provide "insurance premium support" that beneficiaries can use to buy private health insurance. He also proposes gradually raising the age of eligibility from 65 to 67.
Paul Ryan in the WSJ explaining his plan, The GOP Plan to Balance the Budget by 2023
The goal can be reached, with no new taxes, while increasing spending 3.4% annually instead of the current 5%.
After 4 years without a budget, Senate Democrats release their proposed budget that includes nearly $1 trillion in new taxes and would not balance the budget
While Major Bloomberg is at war against Big Gulps,, transfats, salt (and food donations to the homeless because the salt content can't be assessed) and too loud earbuds, he is neglecting what is most central and most important of his mayoral responsibilities.
80% of high school graduates can't read but must get remedial help and relearn reading, writing and arithmetic before they can begin classes at community college.
As much as $100 million has been wasted by purchasing separate dispatch systems for the NYPD and FDNY when one new one would have been just fine. The separate systems were incompatible, so the city had to spend $15 million for an interface to get them to communicate with each other.
He confessed he didn't bother to read the 911 report by city-hired consultants that found New York's recently-overhauled 911 system is plagued by delays and errors.
He dismissed the idea of building surge barriers or tidal gates even as New York is the third most vulnerable state in the US. to hurricanes, behind only Miami and New Orleans.
There are no preventive measures being planned to forestall the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.
Following up on my post, National Health Care in Britain Responsible for 40,000 Preventable Deaths, Pays 15 Million Pounds to Silence Whistleblowers, I want to point to what Richard Fernandez writes about in The Hospital of Death
The man at the center of the scandal was Sir David Nicholson, the Chief Executive of the NHS.
Nicholson is a man who never held a job in his life outside of government and activism. “Nicholson joined the NHS on graduation, and then the Communist Party of Great Britain”. Nor was he just a casual, student Red. Nicholson, according to the Guardian, was a “tankie”, a “term referring to those members of the Communist Party of Great Britain that followed the Kremlin line, agreeing with the crushing of revolts in Hungary and later Czechoslovakia by Soviet tanks; or more broadly, those who followed a traditional pro-Soviet position.” And rung by rung this compassionate man climbed the ladder of the NHS until he reached its pinnacle.
One of the biggest concentrations of deaths was at an “elite” hospital, the Mid-Staffordshire hospital which triggered an investigation by the “apparently high mortality rates in patients admitted as emergencies”. Too many people were turning up dead. A study subsequently showed that up to 1,200 patients may have died due to negligence in the “elite” hospital, which has since become so notorious it may now be placed under new management.
when the report touches on what actually happened to the patients it is the stuff of war-crimes. It is not an exaggeration to say that nothing suggested by the most rabid critics of Guantanamo is half so bad. Baldly put what really happened in the hospital was that thousands of old Britons were left to starve, die of thirst, stew in their waste for extended periods, lie neglected and unmedicated or cast out of the wards at the slightest opportunity.
For strange as it may seem, NHS head Sir David Nicholson, of whom nobody may have previously heard, ran the fifth largest organization in the world. The NHS is far bigger than the British Army, larger than the Indian Railways and the Chinese state-owned energy network. Sir David Nicholson’s fiefdom is actually exceeded only by McDonald’s, Walmart, the US Armed Forces, the Chinese Army and the Chinese railway and may have inflicted more deaths than all of these organizations combined.
It's the unaccountability of these government ministers that rankles me the most. Nicholson will find a way to absolve himself of any responsibility much as the way no one in the U.S. government is responsible for the debacle in Benghazi.
By contrast, look at what happened when the management was turned over to a private firm. Transformed: The failing NHS trust taken over by private firm has one of the highest levels of patient satisfaction
Hinchingbrooke, a hospital in Cambridgeshire with 160,000 patients, was on the verge of going bust when it was taken over by Circle last year.
But NHS figures show it is now ranked as one of the highest for patient happiness and waiting times.
Patient satisfaction: Hinchingbrooke Hospital, the first NHS trust to be run entirely by a private firm, is ranked as one of the highest for patient happiness and waiting times
The company running the trust has slashed losses at the hospital by 60 per cent and will soon begin to pay off burgeoning debts built up over years of mismanagement. The takeover deal, which saved the hospital from closing down, is seen as a blueprint for the future of many NHS trusts.
Just how many more Nazi ghettos and camps there were then we ever knew and how depraved their "care" centers were.
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.
Just how creatively inventive the English were in being deceptive.
Starfish decoy towns in Britain helped to dupe Nazi aircraft during Blitz. They were built to lure enemy bombers away from more populated areas.
Tanks containing diesel and paraffin were placed on top of 20ft towers. Diesel was released onto coke or coal before water was released on top which caused a virtual explosion of fire and steam, looking like a burning town.
Two other famous deceptions by the British that come to mind: Operation Mincemeat later made into a film The Man Who Never Was and Operation Fortitude created entire fake armies to make Nazis believe that a much larger invasion force would be embarking from Kent and that the landings at Normandy were but a diversionary tactic
Doctors don't trust their own hospitals. 40% of doctors would NOT recommend their own workplace to friends or family
Nearly 40 per cent of doctors would not recommend their own hospital to friends or family, startling new figures reveal.
A further one in three do not believe NHS managers act on the concerns of patients.
The Department of Health’s own survey also found that a third of NHS staff had witnessed medical blunders or near misses at least once in the last month.
In reality it is the NHS, not James Bond, who has the real government license to kill. writes Richard Fernandez
The NHS, which its creators boasted would be the ‘envy of the world’, has been found to have been responsible for up to 40,000 preventable deaths under the helm of Sir David Nicholson, a former member of the Communist Party of Britain. “He was no ordinary revolutionary. He was on the hardline, so-called ‘Tankie’ wing of the party which backed the Kremlin using military action to crush dissident uprisings” — before he acquired a taste for young wives, first class travel and honors.
The stories of the pathetic deaths of the elderly under his care — 1,200 in one hospital alone — have scandalized the British public, especially when it emerged he spent 15 million pounds in taxpayer money to gag and prosecute whistleblowers — often doctors and administrators who could not stomach his policies.
The public money spent on stopping NHS staff from speaking out is almost equivalent to the salaries of around 750 nurses.
The figures were revealed after a two year battle by Conservative MP Steve Barclay, who eventually obtained them after tabling a number of Parliamentary Questions.
The figures show a total of £14.7m of taxpayers’ money was spent on almost 600 compromise agreements, most of which included gagging clauses to silence whistleblowers.
A whole generation is finished. Like their counterparts a hundred years ago, the European young are being sent to their professional death in millions. The carnage at both ends of the age spectrum — with the old being killed off and the young’s professional lives essentially buried — is a sign that the welfare state, the future on offer to “Julia” and Sandra Fluke, is now an empty box.
The current elite has abused, as very few elites have abused in the past, the power of trust. They’ve taken legitimacy built by generations of competence and used it to paper over mediocrity and madness. The trust they had to squander was immense; and they squandered it.
When the crash happens the disillusionment will be tremendous. It won’t be the kind of disillusion that loses elections or topples a government. It will the kind of disgust that pulls down a civilization.
Why even Amsterdam doesn’t want legal brothels The Dutch experiment in legalized prostitution has been a disaster.
Legalization has imposed brothels on areas all over Holland, whether they want them or not. Even if a city or town opposes establishing a brothel, it must allow at least one — not doing so is contrary to the basic federal right to work. To many Dutch, legality and decency have been irreconcilably divorced. It has been a social, legal and economic failure — and the madness, finally, is coming to an end.
The brothel boom is over. A third of Amsterdam’s bordellos have been closed due to the involvement of organized criminals and drug dealers and the increase in trafficking of women. Police now acknowledge that the red-light district has mutated into a global hub for human trafficking and money laundering. The streets have been infiltrated by grooming gangs seeking out young, vulnerable girls and marketing them to men as virgins who will do whatever they are told. Many of those involved in Amsterdam’s regular tourist trade — the museums and canals — fear that their visitors are vanishing along with the city’s reputation.
Much discussed is Steven Brill's piece on A Bitter Pill, Why Medical Bills are Killing Us
I got the idea for this article when I was visiting Rice University last year. As I was leaving the campus, which is just outside the central business district of Houston, I noticed a group of glass skyscrapers about a mile away lighting up the evening sky. The scene looked like Dubai. I was looking at the Texas Medical Center, a nearly 1,300-acre, 280-building complex of hospitals and related medical facilities, of which MD Anderson is the lead brand name. Medicine had obviously become a huge business. In fact, of Houston’s top 10 employers, five are hospitals, including MD Anderson with 19,000 employees; three, led by ExxonMobil with 14,000 employees, are energy companies. How did that happen, I wondered. Where’s all that money coming from? And where is it going? I have spent the past seven months trying to find out by analyzing a variety of bills from hospitals like MD Anderson, doctors, drug companies and every other player in the American health care ecosystem.
One example The $21,000 Heartburn Bill
One night last summer at her home near Stamford, Conn., a 64-year-old former sales clerk whom I’ll call Janice S. felt chest pains. She was taken four miles by ambulance to the emergency room at Stamford Hospital, officially a nonprofit institution. After about three hours of tests and some brief encounters with a doctor, she was told she had indigestion and sent home. That was the good news.
The bad news was the bill: $995 for the ambulance ride, $3,000 for the doctors and $17,000 for the hospital — in sum, $21,000 for a false alarm.
Overuse of technology like CAT scans
“We use the CT scan because it’s a great defense,” says the CEO of another hospital not far from Stamford. “For example, if anyone has fallen or done anything around their head — hell, if they even say the word head — we do it to be safe. We can’t be sued for doing too much.”
His rationale speaks to the real cost issue associated with medical-malpractice litigation. It’s not as much about the verdicts or settlements (or considerable malpractice-insurance premiums) that hospitals and doctors pay as it is about what they do to avoid being sued……. When Obamacare was being debated, Republicans pushed this kind of commonsense malpractice-tort reform. But the stranglehold that plaintiffs’ lawyers have traditionally had on Democrats prevailed, and neither a safe-harbor provision nor any other malpractice reform was included.
Follow the Money
Put simply, with Obamacare we’ve changed the rules related to who pays for what, but we haven’t done much to change the prices we pay. When you follow the money, you see the choices we’ve made, knowingly or unknowingly.
Over the past few decades, we’ve enriched the labs, drug companies, medical device makers, hospital administrators and purveyors of CT scans, MRIs, canes and wheelchairs. Meanwhile, we’ve squeezed the doctors who don’t own their own clinics, don’t work as drug or device consultants or don’t otherwise game a system that is so gameable. And of course, we’ve squeezed everyone outside the system who gets stuck with the bills.
We’ve created a secure, prosperous island in an economy that is suffering under the weight of the riches those on the island extract.
And we’ve allowed those on the island and their lobbyists and allies to control the debate, diverting us from what Gerard Anderson, a health care economist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, says is the obvious and only issue: “All the prices are too damn high.”
In the U.K., William Oddie on Pope Benedict's warnings on secularism and religious liberty
One of the most central insights of Pope Benedict’s pontificate was summed up in his phrase “the dictatorship of relativism”. In his now famous conversation with the German journalist Peter Seewald (the same one on which he said that popes can abdicate), he said this, in explanation: “In the name of tolerance, tolerance is being abolished; this is a real threat we face. The danger is that reason – so-called Western reason – claims that it has now really recognized what is right and thus makes a claim to totality that is inimical to freedom. I believe that we must very emphatically delineate this danger. No one is forced to be a Christian. But no one should be forced to live according to the ‘new religion’ as though it alone were definitive and obligatory for all mankind.”
There can be little doubt that this secularist dictatorship is being rolled out in this country today, notably in the education system, where in certain key areas, certain forms of behaviour must be presented as being valid and acceptable whether or not teachers believe they are.
Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury spoke out about the implications for religious liberty of the vote last Tuesday on the same sex “marriage” bill now being pushed (probably irresistibly) through the Commons by the “Conservative” Prime Minister, David Cameron. Bishop Davies last week told married couples gathered from all over his diocese to celebrate landmark anniversaries at an annual Mass of Thanksgiving for Marriage that it was possible to “see the absurdity of changing the identity of marriage in the name of a false understanding of equality by the desire to even strike out the cherished names of ‘mother’ and ‘father’”.
That was a predictable enough criticism. But he also repeated a warning he has given before: having said that recognising the truth of marriage was not “an injustice to be remedied” he went on to predict that soon it could even become an offence to repeat “the beautiful teaching of Christ” that marriage is the lasting union of one man and one woman which forms the foundation of the family.
Update: Today's example. Andrew Cuomo’s Radical Abortion Regime
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo seeks to impose a radical new abortion regime on the state, one that goes far beyond the euphemistic byword “choice.” The bill would in fact limit many choices, for instance the choice of Catholic hospitals and other institutions with moral objections to decline to allow abortions to be performed in their facilities. It would limit the choices of organizations that counsel pregnant women if their counseling were held to be insufficiently enthusiastic about abortion. It would limit the choices of organizations that seek to help women in crisis without involving themselves in the politics of abortion.
Governor Cuomo’s bill is not about easing access to abortion — those bloody skids already are well-greased. The issue is political domination. The abortion party does not brook resistance, and it steadfastly seeks to ensure that everybody has a hand in its grisly business: taxpayers, employers, priests. All must be implicated. If a religious hospital declines to provide abortions, then it must be forced to do so. If a counseling center treats adoption as preferable to abortion, it will either change its mind or have its mind changed for it by the gentle persuasion of the State of New York.
Smothered by Safety by Lenore Skenazy
• An upstate New York school district outlawed soap in its pre-school bathrooms for fear that children might suddenly start drinking it. Now kids must come out and ask an adult to squirt some soap in their hands.
• Unaccompanied children under age 12 were banned from the Boulder, CO, library, lest they encounter “hazards such as stairs, elevators, doors, furniture…and other library patrons.”
• The Consumer Product Safety Commission announced a recall of certain fleece hoodies sold at Target because of lead paint on the zipper, which presumably could raise blood lead levels if the zippers are eaten.
• A New Canaan, CT, mom was charged with “risk of injury to a minor,” for letting her 13-year-old babysit the three younger children at home for an hour while the mom went to church.
• A Tennessee mother was thrown in jail for letting her kids, aged 8 and 5, go the park without her, a block and half away from home.
* A Hazmat crew was summoned to Seminole High School in Florida after a science student brought in a mercury thermometer
When rational parenting decisions become criminalized, parents are forced to think irrationally. I hear from parents all the time who’d like to let their kid walk to school, or play outside, but worry they could be cited for negligence.
Welcome to the world of “dangerism.” That’s a term coined by Gever Tulley, author of 50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Kids Do). He uses it to describe the way normal, everyday objects and activities can be reclassified as dangerous when seen through the worst-case-scenario lens. That’s why, for instance, federal playground safety guidelines propose removing “tripping hazards, like tree stumps and rocks.”
When the government declares that we must live in a zero-risk world, it is free to outlaw almost any product or parenting practice it decides to set its sights on. And we have no recourse but to toss the toys we trust, the heirlooms we loved, and the age-old belief that if we train our kids to be brave and smart, we can gradually let them out to embrace the world, risk and all.
John Gray reviews Vladimir Tismaneanu's The Devil in History, Communism, Fascism, and some lessons of the twentieth century
in Communism, Fascism and liberals now featured in The Times Literary Supplement.
Writing about Tismaneanu's belief that
in important respects Communism and Fascism were at one. He is clear that “Communism is not Fascism, and Fascism is not Communism. Each totalitarian experiment has its own irreducible attributes”. Even so, the two were alike in viewing mass killing as a legitimate instrument of social engineering.
Tismaneanu’s account of Communist totalitarianism will be resisted by those who want to believe that it was an essentially humanistic project derailed by events – national backwardness, foreign encirclement and the like. But as he points out, the Soviet state was founded on policies which implied that some human beings were not fully human. Lenin may have held to a version of humanism, but it was one that excluded much of actually existing humankind. …. If radical evil consists in denying the protection of morality to sections of humankind, the regime founded by Lenin undoubtedly qualifies.
In its predominant forms, liberalism has been in recent times a version of the religion of humanity, and with rare exceptions – Russell is one of the few that come to mind – liberals have seen the Communist experiment as a hyperbolic expression of their own project of improvement; if the experiment failed, its casualties were incurred for the sake of a progressive cause. To think otherwise – to admit the possibility that the millions who were judged to be less than fully human suffered and died for nothing – would be to question the idea that history is a story of continuing human advance, which for liberals today is an article of faith. That is why, despite all evidence to the contrary, so many of them continue to deny Communism’s clear affinities with Fascism. Blindness to the true nature of Communism is an inability to accept that radical evil can come from the pursuit of progress.
In the Economist, Northern lights The Nordic countries are reinventing their model of capitalism, says Adrian Wooldridge
THIRTY YEARS AGO Margaret Thatcher turned Britain into the world’s leading centre of “thinking the unthinkable”. Today that distinction has passed to Sweden. The streets of Stockholm are awash with the blood of sacred cows. The think-tanks are brimful of new ideas. The erstwhile champion of the “third way” is now pursuing a far more interesting brand of politics.
Sweden has reduced public spending as a proportion of GDP from 67% in 1993 to 49% today. It could soon have a smaller state than Britain. It has also cut the top marginal tax rate by 27 percentage points since 1983, to 57%, and scrapped a mare’s nest of taxes on property, gifts, wealth and inheritance. This year it is cutting the corporate-tax rate from 26.3% to 22%.
Sweden has also donned the golden straitjacket of fiscal orthodoxy with its pledge to produce a fiscal surplus over the economic cycle. Its public debt fell from 70% of GDP in 1993 to 37% in 2010, and its budget moved from an 11% deficit to a surplus of 0.3% over the same period. This allowed a country with a small, open economy to recover quickly from the financial storm of 2007-08. Sweden has also put its pension system on a sound foundation, replacing a defined-benefit system with a defined-contribution one and making automatic adjustments for longer life expectancy.
Most daringly, it has introduced a universal system of school vouchers and invited private schools to compete with public ones. Private companies also vie with each other to provide state-funded health services and care for the elderly.
Why are the Nordic countries doing this? The obvious answer is that they have reached the limits of big government. “The welfare state we have is excellent in most ways,” says Gunnar Viby Mogensen, a Danish historian. “We only have this little problem. We can’t afford it.” The economic storms that shook all the Nordic countries in the early 1990s provided a foretaste of what would happen if they failed to get their affairs in order.
Policy makers would do well to study the Nordic model. Using competition and market forces to improve the delivery of governmental services, the Nordic countries also live within their means. Here at home, we can't even get a President to submit a budge or Senate to pass one, much less to address the very real problems of entitlements and debt.
The cellulosic ethanol industry produced zero gallons in 2011 and zero in 2012. But the EPA still required oil companies and refiners to buy 6.6 million gallons in 2011 and 8.7 million in 2012—and then to purchase millions of dollars of "waiver credits" for failing to comply with a mandate to buy a product that did not exist. This is the sort of thing that led to the Protestant Reformation.
The fuel industry's American Petroleum Institute tested the 15 percent ethanol gas approved in 2010 and found it gums up fuel systems, prompts "check engine" lights to come on, and messes with fuel gauge readings.
"Failure of these components could result in breakdowns that leave consumers stranded on busy roads and highways," said the industry report. Worse: API said the fuel problems--not found in E5 or E10 blends--aren't always covered by auto warranties.
As Walter Russell Mead points out in World's Largest Lobbies in Ethanol Deathmatch
Studies have shown that using corn for fuel is neither green nor cost-effective. Worse, it drives up global prices for corn, starving the world’s poor.
In 2012, 40 percent of U.S. corn went towards producing biofuels. Compare that to 2006, when just 19 percent of corn was used for fuel. Keep in mind that we’re actually producing fewer bushels of corn now than we were back in 2006.
From sport utes to sports cars to soccer-mom vans, every industry segment is thriving—with the notable exception of the alternative-fuel vehicles into which Washington has sunk billions of taxpayer dollars.
The buck stops at the desk of EPA's Lisa Jackson, The Worst Head of the Worst Regulatory Agency Ever
The unprecedented $100 billion program slated to rebuild war-torn Afghanistan has been ravaged by theft, cost overruns, bribes, unused facilities and "incalculable waste,"
According to Hillary Clinton’s long-delayed Benghazigate testimony, the State Department just did not have enough money to provide security for a mission in one of the most dangerous places in the world.
It did however have 16 million dollars to spend on 2,500 kindle book readers at the drastically inflated price of $6,600 per device.
It had $79,000 to spend on Obama’s books and $20,000 on a portrait of Obama. The US Embassy had $150,000 to spend on a book about the ambassador’s residence. There was $4.5 for art in embassies, but no money for Benghazi security.
But then, "What difference does it make?"
The war on prescription drugs has gone too far when inhumane treatment of ordinary people is justified. The bounds of common decency bind the police as well.
Radley Balko writes in the Huffington Post about government overreach in its paranoia over opioid painkillers.
New Victims in the War on Painkillers No victim is Mayor Bloomberg who is dictating medical policy for NYC emergency rooms.
This policy is going to cause needless suffering. People who genuinely, legitimately need pain medication aren't going to be able to get it
But what about the 80 year old man, a former Navy medic, whose wife of 58 years just died on colon cancer in their bedroom when the police, not ten minutes after her death, burst in without a warrant to search for prescription drugs.
"I was holding her hand saying goodbye when all the intrusion happened," he told the Deseret News…
"I was indignant to think you can't even have a private moment. All these people were there and they're not concerned about her or me. They're concerned about the damn drugs. Isn't that something?" Mahaffey said.
Mahaffey said he was treated as if he were going to sell the painkillers, which included OxyContin, oxycodone and morphine, on the street.
In Oklahoma, Jamie Lynn Russell, a 33-year-old woman went to an emergency room in such extreme abdominal pain that she couldn't lie down or even cooperate with hospital staff who called a police officer to help them. He found two prescription pills that he determined didn't belong to her, so he he took her to jail for drug possession. Russell was in jail for less than two hours before she died of a ruptured ectopic pregnancy.
Said the sheriff, "There is nothing my staff in the jail could've done differently," ""It's very regrettable for the family. My heart and prayers go out to them."
The hospital is also at fault here. I can't imagine taking a woman in such extremes pain out of a hospital where she could be treated just so she could be taken to jail over the possession of two pills.
One million Americans entered poverty in the last two months
Release delayed until after the election. Number of Americans on food stamps, 47.1 million, not only a new all time record, but the monthly increase of 420,947 from July was the biggest monthly increase in one year.
in August and September, over three times as many foodstamp recipients were add to the economy as jobs (324,000).
Robert J. Samuelson Is the economy creating a lost generation?
This is not a good time to be starting out in life. Jobs are scarce, and those that exist often pay unexpectedly low wages. Beginning a family — always stressful and uncertain — is increasingly a stretch. The weak economy begets weak family formation. We instinctively know this; several new studies now deepen our understanding.
When the labor market operates smoothly, it creates an economic escalator. Just out of high school or college, young workers typically switch jobs frequently until they find something that fits their talent and temperament. Job changes often mean higher pay; people move to advance themselves. The more they succeed, the more confident they feel in marrying and having children.
Fully one-fifth of younger workers belong to the “underemployed.” As Shierholz notes, the young always have higher unemployment rates. It’s just worse now.
There may not only a lost generation but also lost states who have made everything worse by never facing up to their own debt.
In California, schools are taking virtual pay day loans to keep operating and end up getting only more deeper in debt. According to NPR, one California school district, "a $2.5 million bond will cost the district a whopping $34 million to repay."
In New York, the state is still repaying debt from the bonds it issued when the state sold Attica prison to itself during Mario Cuomo’s governorship in the early 1990s. The state has continually refinanced the debt and extended the term of the borrowing rather than repay it.
Michael Barone, Soul-crushing Dependency
“This is painful for a liberal to admit,” writes liberal New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, in Profiting from a Child's Illiteracy, “but conservatives have a point when they suggest that America’s safety net can sometimes entangle people in soul-crushing dependency.”
Kristof is writing from Breathitt County, Ky., deep in the Appalachian mountains, about mothers whose Supplemental Security Income benefits will decrease if their children learn to read.
Evidently SSI administrators decided to be more generous to parents of such children. But, as Kristof notes, giving parents an incentive to keep children from learning to read works against the children’s long-term interest.
Kristof’s column makes a point similar to that in my Dec. 2 Examiner column on the vast rise in people receiving Social Security Disability Insurance payments. As with SSI, one imagines that those responsible for extending benefits to those not previously eligible did so out of a sense of generosity. But as I noted, “there is also a human cost. Consider the plight of someone who at some level knows he can work but decides to collect disability payments instead. That person is not likely to ever seek work again, especially if the sluggish recovery turns out to be the new normal. He may be gleeful that he was able to game the system or just grimly determined to get what he can in a tough situation. But he will not be able to get the satisfaction of earned success from honest work that contributes something to society and the economy.” Generosity that produces “soul-crushing dependency” is not really generosity.
Ace comments on Barone and expands the discussion to the dismal failure of the government-run, i.e. public school system.
When the media natters Republicans about intransigence and being held prisoner to their most "extreme" and ideological elements-- how come never a single word is mentioned about Democrats' evil obedience to the teachers' unions?
The incredible thing here is that almost every liberal will admit this, and almost every liberal in the business of politics has seen the documentary Waiting for Superman. They know the current system is more of a trap for, say, poor black kids than Jim Crow ever was. And what do they propose doing about it? Absolutely nothing. Absolutely nothing.
A reformer in Waiting for Superman made this point: If school districts had the power to fire (without the heavy union interference) merely the bottom 6% of teachers, 90% of the problems with public education would be solved. But Democrats will never permit that. That 6% that is in danger of being fired are the most fired-up members of the Teachers Unions, because their livelihoods depend on the policy of absolutely no terminations for incompetency, and those most fired-up members of the Teachers Unions are in turn the shock troops of the Democratic turnout machine…..
It's the ultimate Cult of the Old -- we do this because we have always done so before. Not a single Member of the Herd of Independent Thinkers ever demonstrates all this "courage" they're always complimenting themselves for to question this demonic policy.
How tough it is these days to get out of poverty. In Rust Belt, a teenager’s climb from poverty
Tabi shared the rental house with her mother and sometimes her mother’s boyfriend. Her four older siblings were grown. None of them had graduated from high school. They wore headsets and hairnets to jobs that were so futureless that getting pregnant at 20 seemed an enriching diversion. Born too late to witness the blue-collar stability that had once been possible, they occupied the bottom of the U.S. economy.
“I’m running from everything they are,” she said.
Her mother had five kids and no husband at age 23. Tabi, the last born, was a welfare and WIC baby who grew up with evictions and lights getting cut off. Her 39-year-old mother remembers it differently.
The only people who are doing well are government employees. Americans believe public workers better paid and more secure (Bingo!)
"The federal workforce has become an elite island of secure and high-paid workers, separated from the ocean of average American workers competing in the global economy," according to a report this year by the Cato Institute.
That report found the average civilian federal government worker collected just under $84,000 a year in taxpayer money, about $32,000 more than the average private sector worker. That's a total federal worker package of about $236 billion a year.
Even a plurality (48%) of government employees admit their private industry counterparts do work harder.
Another 67% believe that government workers have greater job security than those in the production- profit-driven private sector,
These two states in terrible financial situations, California and New York, top the charts in the amount they pay their government workers. There's been a 100%+ increase in California employee state pay since 2005 and at least one state psychiatrist earned $822,000 in one year !
Six weeks after Sandy hit the New Jersey and New York coast, residents are still struggling and in desperate need of shelter. Many hard-hit victims are not getting help despite President Barack Obama’s pledge of the full support of the federal government, and they are dealing with red tape the president said would not be tolerated.
In the Red Hook community of Brooklyn, N.Y., many residents are still living in their unheated, powerless homes in freezing temperatures. Help from the government for residents has not come.
One victim from the Midland Beach section of Staten Island is living out of his car, going from one house to another each day in search of a warm bed. Dozens of residents are living in their sewer-flooded homes without heat or power in Gerritsen Beach.
Thousands living in hotels courtesy of FEMA are about to lose their rooms. Hotel stays for victims are set to expire on Dec. 13. That would force tens of thousands into the cold, which could prove a public relations disaster for the Obama administration and FEMA.
Staten Island resident Billy Stout said he is living out of his car and jumping from one house to another.
“It’s tough,” he said.
Stout went to FEMA for assistance and was told he should apply for a SBA loan. He asked why he would apply for a loan as he is disabled and on Social Security disability. He said FEMA told him that once he’s denied for the loan they could give him assistance. That assistance came after three weeks in the amount of $2,400. He cannot find a rental unless he travels two hours away.
“I don’t think the government has done enough. They could be doing more,” said Stout, suggesting FEMA “could put up trailers at the closed Arthur Kill Correctional Facility or at Miller’s Field. There is so much space there. Then people would have a warm place to stay. I don’t know why they don’t do that.”
Neither do I since there are at least 92 unused FEMA trailers in Pennsylvania and 520 in Missouri and who knows how many elsewhere are lying unused.
Does FEMA even keep track of their trailers that could be moved to places in great need?
Some constitutional amendments I could get behind. Don Surber writes Fight for the right to be left alone
• Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of a health care insurance system, or prohibiting riding a motorcycle without a helmet; or abridging the freedom of hate speech, or of the politically incorrect press; or the right of the people to party, and to petition the government to leave them the heck alone.
• A well-lit household being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear incandescent light bulbs shall not be infringed.
• No tag shall in time of peace be placed on mattresses quartered in any house without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
• The right of the people to be secure in their bathrooms, bedrooms and thoughts, against unreasonable rules and regulations, shall not be violated.
• No person shall be held to answer for a picayune rule or otherwise petty regulation, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger.
Obamacare Jumps the Shark in its Premiere. Walter Russell Mead explains
One of the reasons blue programs jump the shark is that over time more and more special interests lobby politicians to get special features added. The small add-ons and tweaks make programs more expensive and complicated to administer—and much, much harder to reform. This process begins when the laws are written; the lobbyists are there to tuck special little surprises between the pages of the bill. It continues as the regulations necessary to implement the new laws are written; once again, lobbyists are on hand to mold the regs to their liking. And it persists year after year after year, as lobbyists look for ways to amend the existing laws or add new requirements by inserting language into other bills.
The law is a blunt instrument; fixing the health care system by government fiat is like neurosurgery with a hammer. It’s going to hurt more than you think, and will harm more than it helps. Let’s hope politicians figure that out before too much damage is done.
A Physician's New Reality: Patients Ask Me to Break the Law
I have now posted a notice in my office and each exam room stating exactly what Obamacare will cover for those yearly visits. Remember Obama promised this as a free exam — no co-pay, no deductible, no charge. That’s fine and dandy if you are healthy and have no complaints. However, we are obligated by law to code specifically for the reason of the visit. An annual exam is one specific code; you can not mix this with another code, say, for rectal bleeding. This annual visit covers the exam and “discussion about the status of previously diagnosed stable conditions.” That’s the exact wording under that code — insurance will not cover any new ailment under that code.
Private doctors are becoming a thing of the past. By 2014, less than 25% of physicians will be in private medicine. Obama was right in stating you can keep your doctor if you want to — the problem is he or she will rarely be available.
On top of all of that, doctors will be obligated — that’s right, obligated — to talk to you about things you may have no interest or need to talk about. You may just want to have a pap smear or check your cholesterol. However, I am now mandated by the government to talk to you about your weight, exercise, family life, smoking, sexual abuse(!), and even to ask if you wear seat belts. And I am mandated to record your answers.
To understand how deeply discounted the Surgery Center’s fees are, consider that a nearby local hospital in Oklahoma City, Integris Baptist Medical Center, charges more than $33,000 for a “complex bilateral sinus procedure.” When the same surgeon performs the same surgery at the Surgery Center, the total cost is less than $6,000. Reasons? The hospital is receiving payment from a third party (insurance company or government), and not the patient, who therefore has no incentive or reason to question or monitor the price. Another reason that the hospital charges 5 times more than the Surgery Center for the same procedure is the huge difference in administrative overhead. Reason explains:
Except for the clerical staff, every employee at the Surgery Center is directly involved in patient care. For example, both human resources and building maintenance are the responsibility of the head nurse. “One reason our prices are so low,” says Smith, “is that we don’t have administrators running around in their four or five thousand dollar suits.”
When I was in law school one professor after another would call a new law that required regulations to flesh it out, the "full-employment for lawyers act." The point is evergreen when you consider how many people called Sarbanes Oxley, the "full-employment for accountants act"
What I didn't see was how stealthily grew '"administrators" until, in most school districts and colleges, they now outnumber the teachers and professors. Same thing in hospitals, in unions, in municipal and state governments. Administrators grew like kudzu and they didn't need any law to do so. Lots of regulations helped.
I'm not a conspiracy nut, but nothing troubles me more than voter fraud because tampering with the electoral process undermines the very nature of our democracy. I and most people want fair elections. It should be easy to vote, but hard to cheat. It's more like, easy to vote, easy to cheat. If people don't have trust in the integrity of electoral system, they won't trust their leaders. As of this morning, petitions seeking White House approval to 'secede' from the nation now come from 47 states. In Texas and Louisiana both, the petitions have gathered more than 25,0000 signatures, triggering White House review. It is very dismaying to see the nation fracture when we have so many enormous problems that require both parties to solve. Thankfully, neither Romney or Ryan are contesting the results.
The presidential election was decided by a mere 407,000 votes in four states reports Jim Geraghty
Below are the articles I came across while reading about the election result that questioned the integrity of the voting process.
Using publicly available voter data and comparing it to U.S. Census records reveals the ten counties having a total registration ranging between 104 to 140 percent of the respective populations.
Obama won county in Ohio with 108% voter registration
What Luck! Obama Won Dozens of Cleveland Districts with 100% of the Vote
One out of five registered Ohio voters is bogus reports the Columbus Dispatch in September
“in two counties, the number of registered voters actually exceeds the voting age population: Northwestern Ohio’s Wood County shows 109 registered voters for every 100 eligible, while in Lawrence County along the Ohio River it’s a mere 104 registered per 100 eligible.”
Odd? Romney got zero votes in 59 precincts in Philly, and 9 precincts in Ohio
Two Election Judges Replaced after Illegal Activity in Ohio
In Hamilton County, the area that houses Cincinnati, two election judges — one Republican and one Democrat — were replaced after illegally allowing unregistered voters to cast their ballots.
St. Lucie County, Florida Had 141.1% Turnout; Obama Won County
Out of 175,554 registered voters, 247,713 vote cards were cast in St. Lucie County, Florida on Tuesday. Barack Obama won the county.
In Florida: Obama Got Over 99% in Broward County Precincts
More ballots turn up in Broward: Seven days after the election ended, and two days after the results were unofficially certified.
Broward elections workers Monday said they had found 963 unaccounted-for ballots in a warehouse. They were put in the wrong place, members of the Broward County Canvassing Board were told on Monday.
"How can you lose them? This is terrible,'' said Dania Beach candidate Chickie Brandimarte, whose close race won't be called until at least Tuesday.
"The Arlington County Police Department has initiated a criminal investigation of this matter."
Released Wednesday by Project Veritas — a conservative organization headed by the Republican activist James O’Keefe — the video showed Patrick Moran perusing ways to help a man he thought was a campaign volunteer cast ballots on behalf of 100 people the operative said weren't planning to vote.
Fraud: Some told they already voted, others brag about voting multiple times
A list of closely contested state elections with no voter ID, which narrowly went to Obama include: Minnesota (10), Iowa (6), Wisconsin (10), Nevada (6), Colorado (9), New Mexico (5) and Pennsylvania (20). This amounts to a total of 66 electoral votes.
Romney also likely had the states of Florida and Ohio stolen from him, which don’t require photo IDs. Ohio requires a non-photo ID. Would a library card do? Florida “requests” a photo ID, but doesn’t require it.
John Fund writes Voter Fraud Is No Myth
We should clean up our voter rolls, require those casting absentee ballots to provide a driver’s license or Social Security number and make photo ID mandatory at the polls. Photo ID will not just stop the voter impersonation liberals claim doesn’t exist, but will cut down on multiple voting, non-citizen voting, people voting in the wrong precinct, out-of-state voting and voting in the names of fictitious people.
Those states that do want a voter id, that do want to clean up their voting rolls have met opposition from the Department of Justice.
The most often noted difference between American elections among the visitors was that in most U.S. states, voters need no identification. Voters can also vote by mail, sometimes online, and there's often no way to know if one person has voted several times under different names, unlike in some Arab countries, where voters ink their fingers when casting their ballots.
The international visitors also noted that there's no police at U.S. polling stations. In foreign countries, police at polling places are viewed as signs of security; in the United States they are sometimes seen as intimidating.
Which puts me in the company of nearly 75% of Americans who believe the same thing.
As Jim Treacher said last week What’s The Big Deal About Benghazi, Anyway?
"Come on, you guys. It’s only an American ambassador and three other Americans who served their country, murdered by Islamic terrorists on the anniversary of 9/11. In a country our president invaded unilaterally and, arguably, illegally. And our government only ignored the copious warnings of an impending terrorist attack on the consulate in Benghazi, and actually reduced security there, despite the since-murdered ambassador’s entreaties. And our president has only been lying about it for over a month because it reflects very badly on his self-evidently disastrous foreign policy. It’s not like it was a hotel break-in.”
I was in law school when Watergate unfolded and I would spend hours every day pouring over news articles and testimony because I could not believe an American president and his administration would act so deceitfully. But Watergate was nothing compared to the disgrace of Benghazi and the deceit and dissembling of this Administration across the board and from the top down. In Watergate nobody died. In Benghazi four Americans were killed and every person serving in the military or the diplomatic services must now be asking themselves whether anyone would come to their help if they were in trouble. What an example of breach of trust this Administration leaves. Anyone who knows anything about this story is furious. But only now are most Americans learning about just how deceitful and shameful this Administration has been.
CIA operators were denied request for help during Benghazi attack, sources say Jennnifer Griffin reports.
Fox News has learned from sources who were on the ground in Benghazi that an urgent request from the CIA annex for military back-up during the attack on the U.S. consulate and subsequent attack several hours later was denied by U.S. officials -- who also told the CIA operators twice to "stand down" rather than help the ambassador's team when shots were heard at approximately 9:40 p.m. in Benghazi on Sept. 11.
Three urgent requests for military backup were denied. CIA operators were ordered to stand down.
Who issued the order to stand down and deny the requests for help? Who has the authority? The Defense Secretary? The President? The Chief of Staffs?
The security officer had a laser on the target that was firing and repeatedly requested back-up support from a Specter gunship, which is commonly used by U.S. Special Operations forces to provide support to Special Operations teams on the ground involved in intense firefights. The fighting at the CIA annex went on for more than four hours — enough time for any planes based in Sigonella Air base, just 480 miles away, to arrive. Fox News has also learned that two separate Tier One Special operations forces were told to wait, among them Delta Force operators.
There were two AC-130Us deployed to Libya in March as part of Operation Unified Protector….The AC-130U was purpose-built for a select number of specific mission types, including point-defense against enemy attack. It was literally built for the kind of mission it could have engaged in over Benghazi, if the administration had let it fire. As the excerpt above clearly shows, we had assets on the ground “painting” the targets with the laser.
Woods and at least two others ignored those orders and made their way to the Consulate which at that point was on fire. Shots were exchanged. The quick reaction force from the CIA annex evacuated those who remained at the Consulate and Sean Smith, who had been killed in the initial attack. They could not find the ambassador and returned to the CIA annex at about midnight.
In fact, at least one member of the team was on the roof of the annex manning a heavy machine gun when mortars were fired at the CIA compound. The security officer had a laser on the target that was firing and repeatedly requested back-up support from a Specter gunship, which is commonly used by U.S. Special Operations forces to provide support to Special Operations teams on the ground involved in intense firefights. The fighting at the CIA annex went on for more than four hours -- enough time for any planes based in Sigonella Air base, just 480 miles away, to arrive. Fox News has also learned that two separate Tier One Special operations forces were told to wait, among them Delta Force operators.
Charles Woods, the father of slain Navy Seal Tyron Woods responds to "Stand down" order:
That is cowardice by the people that issued that order. And our country is not a country of cowards. Our country is the greatest nation on Earth. And what we need to do is we need to raise up a generation of American heroes just like Ty who is an American hero. But in order to do that, we need to raise up a generation that has not just physical strength but moral strength. We do not need another generation of liars who lack moral strength.”
What Joe Biden said to this same father who just lost his hero son at the ceremony for the Libya victims at Andrews Air Force Base, “Did your son always have balls the size of cue balls?” Don't ever say this to a grieving father.
Charles Woods' encounter with President Obama at the sad ceremony to meet the returning coffins.
“When [Obama] came over to our little area” at Andrew Air Force Base, says Woods, “he kind of just mumbled, you know, ‘I’m sorry.’ His face was looking at me, but his eyes were looking over my shoulder like he could not look me in the eye. And it was not a sincere, ‘I’m really sorry, you know, that your son died,’ but it was totally insincere, more of whining type, ‘I’m sorry.’”
Woods says that shaking President Obama’s hands at his son’s memorial service was “like shaking hands with a dead fish.”
“It just didn’t feel right,” he says of his encounter with the commander in chief. “And now that it’s coming out that apparently the White House situation room was watching our people die in real time, as this was happening,”
Hilary Clinton told Charles Woods, the U.S. would “make sure that the person who made that film is arrested and prosecuted.”
Apparently even the State Department had a live stream and was aware of their calls for help. My son wasn’t even there. He was at a safe house about a mile away. He got the distress call; he heard them crying for help; that’s why he and Glen risked their lives to go that extra mile just to take care of the situation. And I’m sure that wasn’t the only one received that distress call—you know, come save our lives … I’m sure that other people in the military, in the State Department, in the White House, received that same call that he would receive.
a drone ordered in from Tripoli sent back images of the attack in real time. The battle was sent on streaming video direct to the Situation Room in the White House. Within two hours, emails from Benghazi reported that Al Qaeda in Libya was claiming responsibility.
Former Assistant Defense Secretary Bing West …At 5 p.m., President Obama met with Vice President Biden and Secretary of Defense Panetta in the Oval Office. The U.S. military base in Sigonella, Sicily, was 480 miles away from Benghazi. Stationed at Sigonella were Special Operations Forces, transport aircraft, and attack aircraft - a much more formidable force than 22 men from the embassy….
Military sources tell CBS News that resources at the three bases include fighter jets and Specter AC-130 gunships, which the sources say can be extremely effective in flying in and buzzing a crowd to disperse it…. Add to the controversy the fact that the last two Americans didn't die until more than six hours into the attack, and the question of U.S. military help becomes very important.
Everything was sacrificed to the goal of acting as if the jihadi war against America was inconsequential. Libya was to be 'normalized.' Not by doing the actual work of stabilizing the country, but by our Administration refusing to station Marines there to protect our ambassador. The attack on our embassy was normalized by treating it like a spontaneous demonstration, nothing you would scramble a Specter AC-130 for.
"No real time information" said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in an attempt to explain why no US forces of any kind were deployed to help the trapped Americans despite live reports from the Annex one mile away from the fighting and the drone overhead.
Report : Hillary Clinton asked for more security at Benghazi and the Obama White House denied that request According to Edward Klein, author the The Amateur, a biography of Obama, who was told that by lawyers close to Clinton.
Hillary, the President, Ambassador Rice and Jay Carney all blamed the YouTube video.
Our diplomats fought for seven hours without any aid from outside the country. Four Americans died while the Obama national-security team and our military passively watched and listened. The administration is being criticized for ignoring security needs before the attack and for falsely attributing the assault to a mob. But the most severe failure has gone unnoticed: namely, a failure to aid the living.
It is bewildering that no U.S. aircraft ever came to the aid of the defenders. If even one F18 had been on station, it would have detected the location of hostiles firing at night and deterred and attacked the mortar sites. For our top leadership, with all the technological and military tools at their disposal, to have done nothing for seven hours was a joint civilian and military failure of initiative and nerve.
State Department emails from day of Libya attack show that militant group Ansar al-Sharia had claimed responsibility.
Fox News was told that an estimated 300 to 400 national security figures received these emails in real time almost as the raid was playing out and concluding. People who received these emails work directly under the nation’s top national security, military and diplomatic officials.
It knew what Ansar Al-Sharia was all about -- to "impose Sharia," in the words of Ansar Al-Sharia's "Commander" Mohammad Ali al-Zahawi.
Al Qaeda-linked jihadists helped incite 9/11 Cairo protest in The Long War Journal
Several al Qaeda-linked jihadists helped incite the protest outside the US embassy in Cairo on Sept. 11. The jihadists include senior members of Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ), a group that merged with al Qaeda, and a senior Gamaa Islamiyya (IG) leader who has longstanding ties to al Qaeda's senior leadership...The Wall Street Journal has reported that US intelligence officials think Mohammed al Zawahiri put one of the suspects responsible for the terrorist attack in Benghazi in touch with his brother.
On Real Clear Politics, the video Bret Baier Special On Libya: "Death And Deceit In Benghazi". It's going to be updated this weekend.
Robert Spencer on The Real Lesson of Benghazi
Speaking about the Libyan revolution in March 2011, Obama warmly praised the dawning in Libya of “the rights of peaceful assembly, free speech, and the ability of the Libyan people to determine their own destiny.” After providing military aid to the anti-Gaddafi rebels despite evidence of their al-Qaeda links, the administration–whether the call really came from the White House or the State Department or both–had every reason to ignore the request from Benghazi for more security, and to pretend that the whole thing was just a spontaneous uprising over a video, not the carefully planned September 11 jihad attack that it proved to be.
But the White House and State Department not only do not acknowledge this fact–they have done all they can to deny and obfuscate it. ... indeed, Obama administration officials are expressly forbidden to link Islam with terrorism, as if Islamic terrorists weren’t busy linking the two on a daily basis. The errors of analysis and wrong decisions that cost lives all follow from this initial false premise.
About six months ago a State Department official contacted me privately and told me about State employees who had been assigned to study the life of Muhammad, with an eye toward putting together a positive portrayal of the prophet of Islam that would presumably win more Muslim hearts and minds by going out with the United States government’s seal of approval. The officials who began studying the earliest Muslim sources about Muhammad, however, were astonished as they came face-to-face not with a seventh-century Gandhi, but with a figure of war and rapine who appeared to justify the worst allegations of the “Islamophobes” that the Obama administration has so roundly excoriated. Needless to say, the puff piece on Muhammad did not appear.
Did Economists Doom Obama's Presidency? by Samuel Staley
If President Obama loses the election in November, economists may well end up taking a share of the blame - for good reason. Their models misled him into applying ambitious stimulus therapies to jump start the economy and boost employment that haven't worked, vastly undermining his re-election prospects.
In short, in what is perhaps the most important exercise in economic policy modeling since the Great Depression, two of the nation's foremost economists failed. And the failure was an epic one. They predicted that unemployment would peak at 8 percent after the stimulus. In fact it peaked at 9.9 percent. So it's unclear whether trillions of dollars of stimulus spending bought the country any reduction in unemployment whatsoever. It's also hard to escape the conclusion that it would have been better to do nothing and let the economy run its course. Indeed, this failure is particularly notable because Romer and Bernstein's effort was well within accepted mainstream practice of the profession, not an exception.
Three states form the base of Democratic political power in the United States: California, New York and Illinois. All three states are locked in an accelerating economic, demographic and social decline; all three hope that they can stave off looming disaster at home by exporting the policies that have ruined them to the rest of the country.
Mary Williams Walsh, a talented reporter who is doing much to sustain the luster of the New York Times brand these days, has a must-read piece on the mess that is Illinois, and it is a compelling description of the misery and ruin that well-intentioned liberals combined with aggressive public sector labor unions inflict on the poor they ostensibly want to serve.
Narcissism, Consumerism And The End Of Growth using Japan as the "bellwether of economic stagnation and social recession.
What we're seeing in Japan is the confluence of three dynamics: definancialization, the demise of growth-positive demographics and the devolution of the consumerist model of endless "demand" and "growth." Japan is the leading-edge of the crumbling model of advanced neoliberal capitalism: that consumerist excess creates wealth, prosperity and happiness.
What consumerist excess actually creates is alienation, social atomization, narcissism, and a profound contradiction at the heart of the consumerist-dependent model of "growth": the narcissism that powers consumerist lust and identity is at odds with the demands of the workplace that generates the income needed to consume.
Narcissism is the result of the consumerist society's relentless focus on the essential project of consumerism, which is "the only self that is real is the self that is purchased and projected."….[According to Christopher Lasch] the ontological essence of narcissism: a fear of the emptiness that lies at the very core of consumerism.
"Personal gratification" is the driver of narcissism and consumerism, which are two sides of the same coin. Consumerist marketing glorifies the "projected self" as the "true self," encouraging self-absorption even as it erodes authentic identity, self-esteem and the resilience which enables emotional growth--the essential characteristic of adulthood. Personal gratification is of a piece with self-absorption, fragile self-esteem and an identity that is overly dependent on consumerist signifiers and the approval of others.
The ultimate contradiction in this debt-consumption version of capitalism is this: how can an economy have "endless expansion and growth" when pay and opportunities for secure, high-paying jobs are both relentlessly declining? It cannot. Financialization, consumerist narcissism and the end of growth are inextricably linked.
We need a third way that offers people work, resilience and authentic meaning. In my view, that cannot come from the Central State or the global corporate workplace: it can only come from a relocalized economy in revitalized communities
I'm glad the Foundry did this because I could never keep track. The Complete List of Obama's Taxayer-Backed Green Energy Failures
36 companies that have received federal support from taxpayers have either gone bankrupt or are laying off workers and are heading for bankruptcy. This list includes only those companies that received federal money from the Obama Administration’s Department of Energy. The amount of money indicated does not reflect how much was actually received or spent but how much was offered. The amount also does not include other state, local, and federal tax credits and subsidies, which push the amount of money these companies have received from taxpayers even higher.
The complete list of faltering or bankrupt green-energy companies:
Evergreen Solar ($24 million)*
Solyndra ($535 million)*
Beacon Power ($69 million)*
AES’s subsidiary Eastern Energy ($17.1 million)
Nevada Geothermal ($98.5 million)
SunPower ($1.5 billion)
First Solar ($1.46 billion)
Babcock and Brown ($178 million)
EnerDel’s subsidiary Ener1 ($118.5 million)*
Amonix ($5.9 million)
National Renewable Energy Lab ($200 million)
Fisker Automotive ($528 million)
Abound Solar ($374 million)*
A123 Systems ($279 million)*
Willard and Kelsey Solar Group ($6 million)
Johnson Controls ($299 million)
Schneider Electric ($86 million)
Brightsource ($1.6 billion)
ECOtality ($126.2 million)
Raser Technologies ($33 million)*
Energy Conversion Devices ($13.3 million)*
Mountain Plaza, Inc. ($2 million)*
Olsen’s Crop Service and Olsen’s Mills Acquisition Company ($10 million)*
Range Fuels ($80 million)*
Thompson River Power ($6.4 million)*
Stirling Energy Systems ($7 million)*
LSP Energy ($2.1 billion)*
UniSolar ($100 million)*
Azure Dynamics ($120 million)*
Vestas ($50 million)
LG Chem’s subsidiary Compact Power ($150 million)
Nordic Windpower ($16 million)*
Navistar ($10 million)
Satcon ($3 million)*
*Denotes companies that have filed for bankruptcy.
A brief recap on Libya and Benghazi
The question I have is why the Administration put out such a phony story for so long that they had to know would be exposed. They can only be hiding something that is even worse.
“It’s a catastrophic intelligence loss,” said one U.S. official who has served in Libya and who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the FBI is still investigating the attack. “We got our eyes poked out.”
The CIA’s surveillance targets in Benghazi and eastern Libya include Ansar al-Sharia, a militia that some have blamed for the attack, as well as suspected members of al-Qaida’s affiliate in North Africa, known as al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.
One of the reasons why the administration clung to the story that an anti-Muslim video sparked the attack for so long was because it could not admit to itself the more catastrophic alternative: that the attacks on the embassies were part of a big counterintelligence operation against the US. James Clapper apparently came to the reluctant conclusion some hours after the attack that it was his bailiwick not Hillary’s which was in the crosshairs.
The biggest possible can of worms would be that the CIA had its “eyes poked out” to prevent it from seeing some dangerous operation that is even now hatching in the intelligence shadow of the ‘Arab Spring’: the possibility that there is something out there which has to be kept secret from US intelligence. How better to do it than to disrupt a major center of US intelligence operations in the area?
So it’s better for the public to think that an unknown video producer was the cause it all. The alternative, explanation: that the enemy intelligence agencies destroyed the CIA’s efforts to recover from the ‘Arab Spring’ and that America is now flying blind in the Middle East would be a hard thing to admit.
The New York Times reports that Jihadists Are Receiving Most Arms Sent to Syrian Rebels
Most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad are going to hard-line Islamic jihadists, and not the more secular opposition groups that the West wants to bolster, according to American officials and Middle Eastern diplomats.
That conclusion, of which President Obama and other senior officials are aware from classified assessments of the Syrian conflict that has now claimed more than 25,000 lives, casts into doubt whether the White House’s strategy of minimal and indirect intervention in the Syrian conflict is accomplishing its intended purpose of helping a democratic-minded opposition topple an oppressive government, or is instead sowing the seeds of future insurgencies hostile to the United States.
The United States is not sending arms directly to the Syrian opposition. Instead, it is providing intelligence and other support for shipments of secondhand light weapons like rifles and grenades into Syria, mainly orchestrated from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The reports indicate that the shipments organized from Qatar, in particular, are largely going to hard-line Islamists.
It's beginning to sound a lot like the Fast and Furious debacle.
“Because the space issue was discovered so late in the design process it will have a greater impact on the project, and that could affect cost, schedule and safety, he said.”
The company, Compact Power, was the recipient of $150 million taxpayer dollars and millions more in tax deferments and credits. Compact Power was supposed to be building thousands of batteries for the Chevy Volt here in America. Instead, they are furloughing workers before producing a single battery, Fox News reports. Not one.
Amtrak snack bars lost $84.5 million last year; $833 million in 10 years and other gems of wasted money from the Heritage Foundation.
In fiscal year 2010, the federal government spent nearly $1.7 billion to maintain 77,700 underused or unused buildings.
The Department of Agriculture's Office of the Chief Information Officer funded a $2 million intern program. Only one intern was hired full time as a result.
The Internal Revenue Service stored 22,486 items of unused furniture in a warehouse at an annual cost of $862,000.
- The U.S. Navy bought 450,000 gallons of biofuels for $12 million, or almost $27 per gallon, to conduct exercises to showcase the fuel and bring it closer toward commercialization. It is the largest biofuel purchase ever made by the government.
Wasted Money - Senator Coburn's Wastebook 2012
$113,227 for a video game preservation center in New York, $10 million for a remake of "Sesame Street" for Pakistan, $765,828 to subsidize a "pancakes for yuppies" program in Washington, D.C., and $764,825 to study how college students use mobile devices for social networking.
Michigan State Police used $10,000 in federal funds to purchase 400 talking urinal cakes.
$947,000 NASA is spending to send six volunteers to Hawaii, where they will test out various space menus while simulating a mission to Mars,
taxpayers are subsidizing phone service, i.e. free cell phones, at a cost of nearly $1.5 billion a year.
$325,000 grant for the development of "Robosquirrel" - a robotic rodent designed to test the interaction between rattlesnakes and squirrels
An estimated $70 million loss for producing pennies.
Nearly $700,000 from the National Science Foundation to a New York-based theater company so it could develop a musical about climate change and biodiversity. "
A $1.2 million National Science Foundation helped pay for a study which asked 39 adults ages 60 to 77 to play “World of Warcraft” for two hours a day over two weeks.
When the possibility of competition between insurance carriers is excluded, the only way to control Medicare costs is through rationing.
IPAB is a board consisting of 15 unelected, appointed bureaucrats whose task it is to cut the growth of Medicare spending, and the cuts they are mandated to make will be deep.
The decisions IPAB makes behind closed doors can only be overturned by a supermajority of Congress, something almost impossible to achieve.
So, the politicians have set up a system where they can say to seniors, “It was those bureaucrats that cut your Medicare, not me.”
How does IPAB achieve these cuts? The supporters of the law say, “It says right in the statute IPAB cannot ration.” But what IPAB can do, and in fact is their only option for controlling costs, is to cut reimbursement rates to doctors and hospitals. They decide what procedures are important, not your doctor, and they decide what Medicare will pay for them.
When services are no longer available to seniors because reimbursements for those procedures have been drastically cut, that’s rationing.
Mark Steyn: 'Politicized' Benghazi distracts from Big Bird
"The entire reason that this has become the political topic it is, is because of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan."
Thus, Stephanie Cutter, President Obama's deputy campaign manager, speaking on CNN about an armed attack on the 9/11 anniversary that left a U.S. consulate a smoking ruin and killed four diplomatic staff, including the first American ambassador to be murdered in a third of a century. To discuss this event is apparently to "politicize" it and to distract from the real issues the American people are concerned about. For example, Obama spokesperson Jen Psaki, speaking on board Air Force One on Thursday:
"There's only one candidate in this race who is going to continue to fight for Big Bird and Elmo, and he is riding on this plane."
Instead, the State Department outsourced security for the Benghazi consulate to Blue Mountain, a Welsh firm that hires ex-British and Commonwealth Special Forces, among the toughest hombres on the planet. The company's very name comes from the poem "The Golden Journey To Samarkand," whose words famously adorn the regimental headquarters of Britain's Special Air Service in Hereford. Unfortunately, the one-year contract for consulate security was only $387,413 – or less than the cost of deploying a single U.S. soldier overseas. On that budget, you can't really afford to fly in a lot of crack SAS killing machines, and have to make do with the neighborhood talent pool. So who's available? Blue Mountain hired five members of the Benghazi branch of the February 17th Martyrs' Brigade and equipped them with handcuffs and batons. A baton is very useful when someone is firing an RPG at you, at least if you play a little baseball. There were supposed to be four men heavily armed with handcuffs on duty that night, but, the date of Sept. 11 having no particular significance in the Muslim world, only two guards were actually on shift.
Let's pause right there, and "politicize" a little more. Liberals are always going on about the evils of "outsourcing" and "offshoring" – selfish vulture capitalists like Mitt Romney shipping jobs to cheap labor overseas just to save a few bucks. How unpatriotic can you get! So now the United States government is outsourcing embassy security to cheap Welshmen who, in turn, outsource it to cheaper Libyans. Diplomatic facilities are U.S. sovereign territory – no different de jure from Fifth Avenue or Mount Rushmore. So defending them is one of the core responsibilities of the state. But that's the funny thing about Big Government: the bigger it gets, the more of life it swallows up, the worse it gets at those very few things it's supposed to be doing. So, on the first anniversary of 9/11 in a post-revolutionary city in which Western diplomats had been steadily targeted over the previous six months, the government of the supposedly most powerful nation on Earth entrusted its security to Abdulaziz Majbari, 29, and his pal, who report to some bloke back in Carmarthen, Wales.
cartoon by Steve Breen
So why on 9/11 were Marines stationed at the Barbados embassy but not at Benghazi near an armed Al Qaeda cell?
At the vice-presidential debate, Biden interrupted Ryan 85 times and told at least 10 outright lies including "Well, we weren’t told they wanted more security"
despite the fact that the day before, former regional security Eric Nordstrom described, in open Congressional hearings, his frustration with having his requests for security turned down by the government bureaucracy and his unforgettable line, "For me the Taliban is on the inside of the building."
Suddenly everyone's reading the Bible and Proverbs 29:9: " If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet"
And Clint Eastwood is looking like a prophet when he said this about Joe Biden, "Just a kind of a grin with a body behind it."
About the maker of that anti-Muslim film that nobody ever heard about before it was blamed for the Al Qaeda -planned uprisings around the globe on September 11, Walid Shoebat. a former member of the Muslim Brotherfhood says it was made by Muslim terrorists and the man Nakoula Bacile Nakoula is not a Christian Copt but a fraudster with multiple identities who embezzled millions of dollars with Shoebat's cousin Eiad Salame.
So it's no surprise that Ayman al-Zawahri, the leader of Al-Qaida, has urged Muslims to wage holy war against the United States and Israel over that film.
He grew up in communist Hungary, emigrated to the United States and became a billionaire. Thomas Peterffy is Rich, worried and buying ad time.
He's not running for office. He's not part of a super PAC. He's not lobbying for or against any ballot measures. But billionaire Thomas Peterffy is spending millions on television ads this election season with one cautionary message: Avoid socialism.
"I grew up in a socialist country and I have seen what that does to people. There is no hope, no freedom, no pride in achievement," he says with a soft Hungarian accent in the ad. "The nation became poorer and poorer, and that's what I see happening here."
Peterffy told CNN he expects to spend $5-$10 million on the ad buy, depending on its effectiveness. The spot will run on CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg, and test markets in Ohio, Wisconsin, and possibly Florida.
Peterffy left his country and moved to New York in 1965, where-without knowing English–he got a computer programming job on Wall Street. He later purchased his own seat on the American Stock Exchange in 1977 and, fast forward a few years, found himself the creator of Interactive Brokers, one of the first electronic trading firms.
Lockheed Martin has reversed its decision to send layoff notices to many of its employees shortly before the election, after some serious pressure from the Obama administration. (Lockheed is concerned the sequestration defense cuts, which will take effect January 2 barring Congressional action, will force it to layoff employees.) …. But in a new letter, Senators Chuck Grassley and Kelly Ayotte are demanding answers as to why the administration agreed that taxpayers would cover any legal expenses Lockheed faces as a result of not giving employees a 60-day layoff notice, as required by the WARN Act
Theft by TSA agents Almost 400 TSA security officers have been fired over luggage theft in less than a decade
Even the special TSA locks sold for luggage won't work, Brown says, because TSA employees learned how to pick them without being detected.
Poor morale and low pay put temptation in the way of many of his fellow officers, he said. 'They didn't think it was okay, but they did it and said, "I don't care. They ain't paying me. They're treating me wrong",' he said. 'But then when people started seeing they could profit off of it, then it became massive,'
ABC News tracks missing iPad to Florida home of TSA Office
Confronted two weeks later by ABC News, the TSA officer, Andy Ramirez, at first denied having the missing iPad, but ultimately turned it over after blaming his wife for taking it from the airport.
U.S. airlines collected more than $1.7 billion in baggage fees during the first half of the year, the largest amount ever collected in that six-month period.
The Food Police. Obama Administration's Cafeteria lunch rules. School cafeteria employee, 'Seconds Banned, Extra Food Thrown Away Under Obama Rules
the new federal guidelines require vegetables to comprise the largest portion of a student’s lunch, while the entrée is now being treated as a side dish. That means a lot more of the stuff most kids don’t eat and just a tiny portion of the palatable item.
“It’s completely flip-flopped in terms of portion size,” our source says. “I’m appalled at the serving sizes we’re required to give high school students.”
Even though some kids may be leaving the lunch room hungry, the new Obama-imposed rules prohibit students from receiving additional helpings, even when there’s food left over….“Two ounces of protein won’t cut it for high school athletes,” she notes.
In February, a North Carolina school made national headlines when it was revealed that a lunch inspector told a 4-year-old girl that her homemade turkey sandwich, banana, potato chips and apple juice were unhealthy and that she needed to eat a USDA-approved school lunch.
In New Bedford, students have created a black market – for chocolate syrup. The kiddie capitalists are smuggling in bottles of it and selling it by the squeeze, according to SouthCoastToday.com.
Students beg for more food in YouTube video, We Are Hungry
A Florida school district may install 'trash-cams'
to monitor what kids are throwing away – after they discovered that students were tossing out their federally-mandated fruit and vegetables.
What I learned on the web today, not from the mainstream media, is totally disheartening.
Two weeks after Islamists murdered Ambassador Chris Stevens, FBI agents still have not been granted access to the U.S. consulate in Libya to investigate the crime scene.
As Jim Geraghty points out, hundreds of Thai Muslims are massed around our embassy in Bangkok, Thailand; Bangladesh’s police reported that they had picked up a university professor for planning an attack on our embassy in Dhaka; hundreds more Muslims are massing in Calcutta, India, breaking through barricades and trying to break into our embassy; a 200-vehicle convoy of Muslim radicals rabble roused near the US embassy in Manila, Philippines.
From Mark Steyn's latest column: Obama a better president of the future
The excitable lads around the globe torching American embassies with impunity seem to have figured this out, even if the striped-pants crowd at Turtle Bay are too polite to mention it. Obama is not the President of the Future. He is President right now, and one occasionally wishes the great visionary would take his eye off the far distant horizon where educated women and fire-breathing Imams frolic and gambol side by side around their Chevy Volts, to focus on the humdrum present where the rest of us have the misfortune to live.
Even more extraordinary, on Sept. 14, fewer than two dozen inbred, illiterate goatherds pulled off the biggest single destruction of U.S. airpower since the Tet Offensive in 1968, breaking into Camp Bastion (an unfortunate choice of name) in Afghanistan, killing Lieutenant-Colonel Christopher Raible, and blowing up a squadron’s worth of Harriers. And, even though it was the third international humiliation for the United States in as many days, it didn’t even make the papers. Because the court eunuchs at the media are too busy drooling over Obama’s appearance as what he calls “eye candy” on the couch between Barbara and Whoopi.
…And to the baying mob from Tunis to Jakarta those dead Americans and al-Qaida flags over U.S. embassies and an entire USMC air squadron reduced to charred ruins are a veritable Willie Wonka production line of eye candy. To the president, they're just "bumps in the road" to the sunlit uplands of "the future.
From the Anchoress, Court Eunuchs of MSM won’t tell us, so thank you, BBC!
Do a Google search on “Camp Bastion”, and it’s all BBC, baby, all BBC! Add the word “assault” to the search and you do find a story in the New York Times…in the “world” section, under Asia Pacific, with an headline about the Taliban’s reach.
I guess that’s one way to say “see, we reported on it” while insuring that a story doesn’t really make many ripples in the public awareness.
The BBC report she references. Camp Bastion assault: Details emerge of Taliban attack
The Taliban attackers who broke through Camp Bastion's perimeter chose the darkest night of the year to launch their assault….They quickly made their way to the US Marine Harrier flight line. They were dressed in American army uniforms but, instead of boots, they wore training shoes.
In quick succession, they fired rocket-propelled grenades at eight Harrier jump jets under canvas hangers, destroying six and damaging two.
Every Marine, whether a mechanic or pilot, is a trained rifleman. Squadron Commander Lt Col Chris Raible ran 150 metros across open ground under fire. He was carrying only his service pistol. As he lay down, shooting at the insurgents, a rocket-propelled grenade exploded nearby, killing him.
Sgt Bradley Atwell was also killed by an RPG as he pushed forward with a counter-attack.
Capt Smalley said: "Lt Col Raible was one of the best Harrier pilots we have in the entire fleet… He wrote on many of the tactics and techniques that the Harrier uses."
Bookwormroom writes about the lack of uproar about the U.S. drone attacks on our supposed ally Pakistan
Stories are starting to appear in the U.S. press saying that Obama’s drone attacks — each of which he allegedly approves personally, after carefully selecting the target he wants dead — are killing and wounding thousands of civilians, including women and children, in Pakistan:
U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan have killed far more people than the United States has acknowledged, have traumatized innocent residents and largely been ineffective, according to a new study released Tuesday. The study by Stanford Law School and New York University’s School of Law calls for a re-evaluation of the practice, saying the number of “high-level” targets killed as a percentage of total casualties is extremely low — about 2%.
“TBIJ reports that from June 2004 through mid-September 2012, available data indicate that drone strikes killed 2,562 – 3,325 people in Pakistan, of whom 474 – 881 were civilians, including 176 children. TBIJ reports that these strikes also injured an additional 1,228 – 1,362 individuals,” according to the Stanford/NYU study.
Based on interviews with witnesses, victims and experts, the report accuses the CIA of “double-striking” a target, moments after the initial hit, thereby killing first responders.
Finally some one is reporting on the Fast and Furious gun-running-to-the drug-cartels scandal that killed several hundred Mexicans. Not the American press but Univision. Here's a video preview by ABC News of the "bombshell" report on Univision, Sunday night at 7 with English subtitles.
Among other groups of Fast and Furious victim stories Univision says it will tell in the special to air Sunday evening at 7 p.m., is one about how “16 young people attending a party in a residential area of Ciudad Juárez in January of 2010″ were gunned down with weapons the Obama administration gave to drug cartel criminals through Fast and Furious.
The Anchoress writes
Kind of like the “Fast and Furious” story — the gun-running operation which (contrary to this administration’s line) was not started “under Bush” and which took place without the knowledge of the Mexican government, and which program’s toll on human lives has been rather stoutly ignored by the press — is suddenly seeing a little coverage at least on days when most people don’t pay much attention to news. The US mainstream press could have covered the story any time these past 16 months or so, but it has taken the insistent attention by Univision to force the American press to, if not keep up, at least do enough to allow for plausible deniability when they’re asked why they ignored the story.
In Foreign Policy magazine, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, We’ve Lost Track of Some Syrian Chemical Weapons. This follows reports that Syrian rebels claim to have taken control of a military base that contains chemical weapons.
Among those Syrian rebels, of course, are a lot of jihadists who march under the black banner of al-Qaeda. So when the rebels state that they have chemical weapons, it's almost the same as saying al-Qaeda has some - or at least has the opportunity to get its hands on them.
We are now giving drones to Yemen. What could possibly go wrong?
The equipment marks a significant change in U.S. military cooperation with Yemen, which was suspended until earlier this year. Moreover, the U.S. Defense Department traditionally has kept a close hold on any UAV technologies, exporting them almost exclusively to close Western allies.
Benghazi-Gate: A Timeline of Government Deceit, Deception and Outright Lies. long and extensive and totally dispiriting.
According to a source close to Ambassador Stevens, the US diplomat was worried about his personal safety and "never-ending" security threats in Benghazi in the months leading up to the attack. CNN reports that "Stevens specifically mentioned a rise in Islamic extremism and al Qaeda's growing presence in Libya" to the source close to him. … Facts:
As the New York Times reports Valerie Jarrett is The Other Power in the West Wing has a full-time Secret Service detail even though her only title is "Assistant to the President for Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs."
The White House refuses to disclose the number of agents or their cost, citing security concerns. But the appearance so worried some aides that two were dispatched to urge her to give the detail up. She listened politely, one said, but the agents stayed.
Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice went on 5 Sunday news shows on Sept 15 to say
“The best information and the best assessment we have today is that in fact this was not a preplanned, premeditated attack. That happened initially was that it was a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired in Cairo, as a consequence of the video.”
Our fearless misleader, Steve Hayes reviews recent reports adding to the enormity of the administration line peddled by Rice et al. in the days after the murders:
The attack was, in fact, planned. It did involve al Qaeda-linked terrorists. It was not a copycat of the protests in Cairo, Egypt. Indeed, there was no protest outside the consulate in Benghazi at all. The U.S. compound was not well secured. The two ex-Navy SEALs killed in the attack were not there to protect the ambassador, and they were not, obviously, joined by several colleagues also providing security. The date of the attack was not coincidental. And the anti-Islam YouTube video at the center of the administration’s public relations effort had nothing to do with the assault that took the lives of four Americans.
This, more than anything, is the problem with the administration’s response. It wasn’t that they failed to provide enough information to the public, but that they provided incorrect information and did so long after it was clear to many in the intelligence community that the political narrative was false.
Four American diplomats were murdered on American soil on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The Libyan government had warned us days ahead of time. Our American Ambassador warned that he was being targeted by Al Queda. And yet, we took precisely zero additional security precautions.
Up until a few days ago, Administration officials have been lying about the circumstances surrounding the terrorist attack. They have even tried to cover-up the basic facts of the assassination.
Democrat Pollster Pat Caddell. Mainstream media is threatening future of country
“First of all, we’ve had 9 days of lies…If a president of either party…had had a terrorist incident and gotten on an airplane [after remarks] and flown off to a fundraiser in Las Vegas, they would have been crucified…it should have been, should have been, the equivalent, for Barack Obama, of George Bush’s “flying over Katrina” moment. But nothing was said at all. Nothing will be said. […] It is [unacceptable] to specifically decide that you will not tell the American people information they have a right to know. [The MSM] has made themselves the enemy of the American people. It is a threat to the very future of the country; we’ve crossed a new and frightening line on the slippery slope, and it needs to be talked about."
It involves the terrorist murder (not an electorally irrelevant burglary) of government officials, their reckless endangerment, the undermining of the Bill of Rights and free speech by our own administration in response to Islamist threats, and, ultimately, the complicity of that same administration, consciously or unconsciously, in the downfall of Western civilization.
Meanwhile, the mainstream media function as their more-than-willing accomplices in this downfall, in essence as Obama’s court eunuchs.
Sound excessive? Hear me out.
Fox News’ Special Report produced a timeline of the Benghazi attack and its aftermath that provides a useful and comprehensive survey of events to date:.
Only ABCNews' Jake Tapper Reports that Administration secretly knew Benghazi was a terrorist attack from day one; CBS, NBC Embargo.
Gallup: 60% of Americans don't trust the mainstream media. I'm one of them.
Far from being the non-partisan advocate for seniors, the AARP, as newly released show, took a distinctly partisan if stealthy role in co-ordinating with the Obama Administration to pass Obamacare.
Kimberly Strassel on The Love Song of AARP and Obama
Thanks to just-released emails from the House Energy and Commerce Committee, we now know that AARP worked through 2009-10 as an extension of a Democratic White House, toiling daily to pass a health bill that slashes $716 billion from Medicare, strips seniors of choice, and sets the stage for rationing. We know that despite AARP's awareness that its seniors overwhelmingly opposed the bill, the "nonpartisan membership organization" chose to serve the president's agenda..
The 71 pages of emails show an AARP management taking orders from the White House, scripting the president's talking points, working to keep its board "in line," and pledging fealty to "the cause." Seniors deserve to know all this, as AARP seeks to present itself as neutral in this presidential election.
AARP had long lambasted cuts in fees to Medicare doctors because reduced payments would mean fewer doctors who accept patients with the insurance. Yet in its campaign for ObamaCare, it argued the money the health law strips from Medicare—by imposing price controls on hospitals—would improve "care."
In August 2009, AARP had already unveiled a national advertising blitz for ObamaCare, to ensure that "every member of Congress knows the 50-plus community wants action to fix what's wrong with healthcare." The group made this claim despite weeks of daily tracking showing its members in revolt against the president's plan.
UPDATE: I thought this was a useful chart to understand just where the $716 billion cuts are in Medicare.
The chart comes from Deroy Murdock in The Corner who comments:
Democrats will find it difficult to refute the below chart by Heritage Foundation research assistant Alyene Senger. It very clearly shows the $716 billion that Democrats swiped and delineates exactly from where in Medicare they stole it. This is as close to a police report of a home burglary as one will find in public policy, a graph is based on irrefutable data from the Congressional Budget Office. Democrats can run but cannot hide from these numbers:
UPDATE 2: Paul Ryan speaks to the AARP and Yuval Levin was there.
Be sure to read Paul Ryan’s speech to the AARP’s national convention today—a clear and forthright elucidation of the case for saving Medicare and the federal budget through market-based reforms and against doubling down on failed central planning and price controls through Obamacare.
The AARP sometimes presents itself as a kind of membership organization consisting of senior citizens, but it is basically a huge financial-services company with an enormous stake in the current design of the Medicare system (it makes about half a billion dollars in revenue each year endorsing and selling Medicare supplemental, Medicare Advantage, Medicare prescription drug, and long-term care insurance policies). It profits in particular from higher-premium Medicare supplemental coverage (because it receives a royalty fee on every dollar seniors spend on premiums for AARP-endorsed products), and so would be a major loser in a premium-support reform. The organization has therefore worked closely with Democrats to oppose such a reform, and in return has also been helpful to them in the broader health-care debate—lobbying in favor of Obamacare, for instance, despite the fact that it made major cuts in Medicare and despite the very evident opposition of AARP members.
UPDATE 3: An analysis shows AARP made $2.8 billion off of Obamacare and stands to make billions in the future
It would seem that if despotism were to be established among the democratic nations of our days, it might assume a different character; it would be more extensive and more mild; it would degrade men without tormenting them. I do not question that, in an age of instruction and equality like our own, sovereigns might more easily succeed in collecting all political power into their own hands and might interfere more habitually and decidedly with the circle of private interests than any sovereign of antiquity could ever do.
I think, then, that the species of oppression by which democratic nations are menaced is unlike anything that ever before existed in the world….the thing itself is new, and since I cannot name, I must attempt to define it.
Above this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications and to watch over their fate. That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks, on the contrary, to keep them in perpetual childhood: it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing. For their happiness such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness; it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances: what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living?
Thus it every day renders the exercise of the free agency of man less useful and less frequent; it circumscribes the will within a narrower range and gradually robs a man of all the uses of himself. The principle of equality has prepared men for these things;it has predisposed men to endure them and often to look on them as benefits.
After having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp and fashioned him at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.
Inspired by Mitt de Tocqueville by Samuel Gregg
The Department of Homeland Security has redacted information relating to the quantity of bullets it is buying following a controversy concerning the agency’s purchase of over a billion rounds of ammo, which many fear is a sign the federal government is preparing for civil unrest in the United States.
Despite the fact that documents are only supposed to be redacted if authorized by Congress or for national security reasons, a solicitation posted on the FedBizOpps website yesterday concerning ammunition purchases made by the DHS on behalf of Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) contains numerous blacked out sections.
The solicitation explains how the contract put out by the DHS to purchase the ammunition was not subject to “full and open competition,” a process justified by what the DHS claims was an “unusual and compelling urgency” to acquire the bullets, noting that there is a shortage of bullets which is threatening a situation which could cause “substantial safety issues for the government” should law enforcement officials not be adequately armed.
The Department of Homeland Security’s decision to black out sections of the document, including the number of bullets being purchased, is likely to be related to a massive controversy which has snowballed over the last few weeks pertaining to concerns as to why the federal agency has purchased well over a billion rounds of bullets over the last 6 months alone.
The DHS’ decision back in March to purchase of 450 million rounds of .40-caliber hollow point bullets that are designed to expand upon entry and cause maximum organ damage prompted questions as to why the federal agency required such powerful bullets and in such large quantities merely for training purposes.
This was followed up by a more recent order for a further 750 million rounds of assorted ammunition, including bullets that can penetrate walls.
Subsidizing wind energy jobs.
The Joint Committee on Taxation, the non-partisan congressional entity established in 1926, concludes that the cost of creating wind-energy jobs is about $329,000 per job. Oregon blasted through that average with the Shepherds Flat wind project which was awarded $490 million in cash from the federal government to create just 35 permanent jobs at a cost of about $14 million each.
No statistics on Pell Grants that cost us $40 billion a year
We spend $40 billion per year in Pell grants; yet, no one keeps statistics of how effective the program is by tracking how recipients fare in college.
My guess is that the figure is so embarrassingly low that the government doesn't want it published. I wrote a year or so ago that the Pell Grant graduate rate, after six years, was 40 percent, based on a bit of statistical estimation I did. No one seriously questioned my result. For every two students who -after six years -succeed to get a degree, three fail. Yet spending on this program has expanded enormously in recent years.
Targeting libraries for lending e-books.
DOJ Targeted Public Library for Lending E-Books 'Inaccessible' to the Blind. I'm all for assistance to people with disabilities, but this is ridiculous.
– The U.S. Justice Department says it has reached a settlement with the Sacramento (California) Public Library over a trial program the library was conducting that let patrons borrow Barnes and Noble NOOK e-book readers. DOJ and the National Federation of the Blind objected to the program on grounds that blind people could not use the NOOK e-readers for technological reasons.
The Justice Department said the settlement is aimed at stopping discrimination: “Emerging technologies like e-readers are changing the way we interact with the world around us and we need to ensure that people with disabilities are not excluded from the programs where these devices are used,” said Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez in a news release. A DOJ official told CNSNews.com it interviewed a woman who could not participate in the library's e-reader program due to her disability and concluded that the program had violated the ADA.
Following the logic of the Justice Department, libraries should be banned from lending out videos (inaccessible to the blind) and CDs (inaccessible to the deaf).
Banning father-daughter dances.
Following a complaint by a single individual, father-daughter dances and mother-son events are banned in Cranston, R.I…
"This is 2012 and they [public schools] should not be in the business of fostering blatant gender stereotypes."
said the ACLU in filing the suit. I wish the ACLU would fight for religious freedom which is seriously threatened rather than these silly cases which deprive normal people the pleasure afforded in traditional events that have been enjoyed in thousands of communities by millions of people.
Promoting the cult of a killer.
The Environmental Protection Agency in its celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month included the iconic image of Che Guevara along with the slogan “Hasta la victoria simper,” or “On to victory, always.” Che, as any knowledgeable person knows, was the butcher of Cuba and set -up forced labor camps for dissidents, gays and practicing Catholics. Re-branding Guevara: Che the Butcher
Violence was at the core of Che’s philosophy. Shortly before his death at the hands of Bolivian troops in 1967, he wrote “Message to the Tricontinental.” In this essay he advocated the effective use of violent hatred:
"Hatred as an element of the struggle; a relentless hatred of the enemy, impelling us over and beyond the natural limitations that man is heir to and transforming him into an effective, violent, selective, and cold killing machine. Our soldiers must be thus; a people without hatred cannot vanquish a brutal enemy. "
Philadelphia wants garden torn up and debris put back on empty lot.
Real estate developer who spent $20,000 transforming debris-filled lot into garden is told by city he was trespassing… and now they want him to change it BACK
A real estate developer who repeatedly sent in requests to buy a vacant lot next to some of his property was repeatedly denied or ignored by the city, he said. So Ori Feibush, who owns OCF Realty as well as OCF Coffee House, decided to take matters into his own hands, spending around $20,000 to clean highway dividers, weeds, and a decade’s worth of garbage.
But the city of Philadelphia said that by cleaning the dilapidated lot, Mr Feibush was trespassing. To add insult to injury, the city said that Mr Feibush had to return the 1,600-square feet back to its original state.
American Marines were not stationed at the U.S. embassy in Tripoli or the American mission in Benghazi, as would typically have been the case. In the spirit of a "low profile," the administration didn't even want an American company in charge of private security. Blue Mountain, the British firm the State Department hired, was willing to abide by the "no bullets" Rules of Engagement (ROE), so were a logical fit for the contract. These sub-standard protections for American diplomats were signed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the ROE.
In essence, the Obama Administration tasked an unarmed British firm with security responsibilities that should have been handled by armed American servicemen, and it was all approved by the Secretary of State. Needless to say, the plan failed and an Ambassador was murdered, along with several others.
As of now, the State Department has not disclosed the full State Department Rules of Engagement for Libya.
Just a few of the more egregious idiocies I've read about in the past week.
In Nebraska a deaf preschooler may have to change his name because in sign language it resembles 'weapons'
The sign for his name is a violation of the school district's weapons policy.
ABC-TV 15 from Phoenix reports that local Christian proselytizer Dana Crow-Smith was ordered by a "Neighborhood Preservation Inspector" to stop giving out free bottled water last month when the temperature in Phoenix reached 112 degrees because she lacked a vending permit, though she was not vending.
Those with “targeted disabilities” may be hired through a “non-competitive” appointment. That means they don’t have to endure the regular civil service competition among applicants, but can be plucked from the stack of resumes and hired immediately instead. According to the documents, those with these “targeted disabilities” may be hired “before the position is advertised” and even “before the position’s closing date.” Moreover, lawyers with psychiatric disabilities and “severe intellectual” disabilities receive a waiver from the requirement that a new DOJ employee have practiced law for one year before being hired.
Outraged Judge Frees Veteran Raub from Virginia Psych Ward. He was detained by government officials for postings on his Facebook page for being critical of President Obama. He was never formally arrested or charged with a crime.
President Barack Obama recently signed an executive order hiring race-sensitive bureaucrats to hold meetings and mandate racial discipline quotas,,,,,. In plain English, that means that if different races have different incidences of disciplinary action, those of a favored race who act worse will be punished less, or those of a disfavored race who act better will be punished more, or both….Punishing students differently based on skin color
The U.S. Postal Service — which is currently in the throes of snowballing debt — wasted $1.2 million on the production of “Simpsons” themed stamps, according to an inspector general’s report. One billion stamps featuring the cartoon family were produced — and only 318 million were sold, the Washington Post reports.
Taxation Hero ExxonMobil Pays $3 In Taxes For Every $1 In Profit. It paid the U.S. Treasury $59 billion from 2006-2010.
In 2010, our total tax expenses in the United States were $9.8 billion, which includes an income tax expense of more than $1.6 billion. That $9.8 billion in taxes exceeded our 2010 U.S. operating earnings of $7.5 billion.
Some ways the government has been spending it.
A report from the Agriculture Department’s Inspector General has revealed some stunning examples of financial waste in the Department’s nascent technology security efforts, which have mismanaged about $63 million in taxpayer funding. Among the IG’s findings: the USDA spent more than $2 million on an internship program that only hired one full-time intern, $3 million on technology hardware that was never used, and $235,000 on a project that was later canceled due to redundancy.
Why is the Social Security Administration going to purchase 174 thousand rounds of ammunition? to be delivered to 41 locations across the country.
Why did the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) put out a contract for 46,000 rounds of hollow point bullets?
Why did Homeland Security purchase 450 million rounds of .40 caliber hollow point bullets?
Over $1 billion in customer funds which were supposed to be segregated funds 'disappeared' when MF Global went bankrupt in one of the 10th largest bankruptcies in US history.
John Corzine, formerly CEO of Goldman Sachs and former Senator for New Jersey (D) and former governor of New Jersey (D), was the CEO of MF Global was the money went missing.
Today the New York Times reports that No Criminal Case is Likely in Loss at MF Global. Highly unlikely are charges against Corzine.
That keeps the Administration's perfect record on persecuting Wall St criminals. Zero. No prosecutions under Obama and AG Holder at all.
By comparison, the Bush administration prosecuted and convicted over 1300 Wall St financial criminals including 130 corporate vice presidents and over 200 CEOs and corporate presidents.
The Clinton administration prosecuted over 1800 S&L (savings and loan) executives and won convictions in about 1000 cases.
The GAI report reveals that the Department of Justice upper echelon is stacked with attorneys from law firms representing the very same companies involved in the financial meltdown of 2008, as well as financial corporations with questionable actions during the Obama administration…AIG, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, J.P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America, CitiBank, Deutsche Bank, ING, Morgan Stanley, UBS, Wilmington Trust, and John Corzine's MF Global.
These very same DoJ attorneys also happen to be some of Obama's biggest bundlers for Obama's 2008 bid for president.
"When we think of cronyism and the problems of cronyism and crony capitalism, we think in terms of economic loss and gain," Schweizer said in a phone interview. "What we're showing here is that cronyism is now permeating our justice system. So, it's not just a question of dollars and cents, it's a question of whether you're going to face legal jeopardy or not on what you're doing."
A billion dollars of customer money just disappeared -- it wasn't lost in bad investments, it was lost as in "I can't find it" -- and apparently there is no criminality here.
People lose wallets. They lose cell phones. They lose pencils. They lose lighters.
They tend not to lose a billion dollars. Not without someone wishing it be "lost."
Effects of the drought. Half of US Counties now considered disaster areas
As of this week, nearly half of the nation's corn crop was rated poor to very poor, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.
More than one-third of our corn crop is used to feed livestock. Another 13 percent is exported, much of it to feed livestock as well. Another 40 percent is used to produce ethanol. The remainder goes toward food and beverage production.
Exacerbating the effects of the drought is the government mandate, part of the renewable fuel standard that requires fuel sold in the U.S. to contain 13% ethanol which is made from corn.
What corn can be grown should be used for Food, Not Fuel.
With the stroke of a pen, the EPA can suspend the mandate and return 40% of the corn crop to farmers. Will the President direct the EPA to do so?
The integrity of the ballot box is now in question. Democrat Pat Caddell says
“Each stolen election is a bullet at the heart of what this country is about.”
“Support of the voter I.D. law, it’s called common sense.”
“We are talking about the demise of our democracy and it is slow motion suicide.”
A nonpartisan election integrity group has sent legal notices to 160 counties across the U.S. that it says have more voters on its registration rolls than actual live, eligible voters — and thus represent potential hotbeds for election fraud,
The counties in question are spread across 19 states that together account for 203 electoral college votes, including six current battleground states. Among the counties are LaSalle, Ill., which True the Vote identified as having 520 percent voter registration; Jefferson, Miss. with more than 230 percent; and Hanson, S.D. with 165 percent.
“It’s simply unacceptable for any county to have more voters on its rolls than people who are alive and eligible to vote,” True the Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht said in a statement. “Failing to maintain accurate voter registration records is a flagrant violation of Section 8 in the NVRA.”
What happens when 1,099 felons vote in a race won by 312 ballots? Senator Al Franken.
"When voters are disenfranchised by the counting of improperly cast ballots or outright fraud, their civil rights are violated just as surely as if they were prevented from voting," write Fund and von Spakovsky. "The integrity of the ballot box is just as important to the credibility of elections as access to it."
GM which still owes taxpayers billions of dollars has just spent $559 million to sponsor a British soccer team! For all that money, Manchester United players will now sport Chevrolet on their red jerseys. The only good part of this story is that the GM marketing chief responsible for this terrible deal was removed. Still, $559 million?
To refresh your memory, Some generally excepted Tarp Fund Bailout numbers…
Emails obtained by The Daily Caller show that the U.S. Treasury Department, led by Timothy Geithner, was the driving force behind terminating the pensions of 20,000 salaried retirees at the Delphi auto parts manufacturing company….The move, made in 2009 while the Obama administration implemented its auto bailout plan, appears to have been made solely because those retirees were not members of labor unions.
The internal government emails contradict sworn testimony, in federal court and before Congress, given by several Obama administration figures.
And You Thought the Housing Crisis Was Over! The Community Reinvestment Act is back, as if 2008 never happened. This time by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, the brain child of Elizabeth Warren.
Yes, believe it or not, the federal government is now starting another initiative to force banks to lend to low-credit-rated blacks and Hispanics -- not just anybody but specifically blacks and Hispanics -- and is threatening -- and already imposing -- huge punitive fines if they don't. Moreover, this time they're going even further. They're going to take over the credit rating agencies and force them to change their standards to accommodate blacks and Hispanics so that nobody will have any idea who is a bad credit risk and who is not.
Just how narrowly drawn is the religious exemption in the HHS mandate? Cardinal Dolan gives some examples
A Catholic hospital founded and still sponsored by nuns, striving to carry out our Savior’s command to care for the sick? Sorry, not Catholic enough. No religious freedom here! After all, its purpose is not the inculcation of religious values, and it hardly asks for a person’s religion before admitting a patient.
A Catholic Charities homeless shelter, providing a bed, a shower, and a nutritious meal? Sorry, not Catholic enough. No religious freedom here! After all, it serves all seeking help, regardless of their religious beliefs. (Would the government prefer us to turn away anyone who can’t produce a baptismal certificate and recite the Nicene Creed?)
A Catholic high school founded and still run by a religious order, which has proudly educated young men, preparing them to succeed in college, in the work place, as husbands and fathers? Sorry, not Catholic enough. No religious freedom here! After all, the student populations is more than 50% non-Catholic.
The Government Accountability Office just released a report backing up earlier findings: because a series of recommendations were ignored, the U.S. electric grid remains highly susceptible to cyberattacks.
The grid is reliant on a number of IT systems that have known and likely unknown vulnerabilities. The result of a cyberattack on the grid could result in damage to electricity control systems, power outages, and failures in safety equipment on a scale currently unknown.
The worst is, GAO told the Government what they had to do last year, and it was ignored. The Department of Commerce's report on smart grid security was "missing key elements" and has not been fixed.
The Internal Revenue Service may have delivered more than $5 billion in refund checks to identity thieves who filed fraudulent tax returns for 2011, Treasury Department investigators said Thursday. They estimate another $21 billion could make its way to ID thieves' pockets over the next five years.
Taxpayers lost $833 million over the last decade on the food and beverages supplied by Amtrak, which managed to spend $1.70 for every dollar that received in revenue.
Roger Kimball on Despotism, Distraction and the Defense of Civilization
The so-called “Welfare State,” for example is less a means of combating poverty than institutionalizing it. You don’t hear that from our politicians. But that is the irrefutable lesson of history.
That is to say, the battle for freedom and against the encroachments of servitude is never over. Every generation must fight it again, indeed, every individual must always be vigilant about keeping freedom alive in his own heart. That is the great Burkean point I try to make in The Fortunes of Permanence. Civilization is an achievement not a gift; it is always besieged, must constantly be defended, and once lost, is immeasurably difficult to reclaim. We see the results of the assaults against freedom all around us.
Some comments on the HHS mandate now in effect.
George Weigel writes
The administration has not made any serious effort to address the concerns over the mandate that have been vigorously pressed by Catholic bishops, Catholic employers, pro-life Americans of all religious persuasions and none, and civil-society advocates. The administration’s alleged “accommodation” of these concerns — after the White House appeared to have been blindsided by the ferocity of the response to the original mandate — was quickly recognized for the accounting shell game it was and is. As such, it was rejected as an unacceptable governmental intrusion into the unique mission of religious bodies, even by religious institutions and associations that had supported Obamacare.
Speaker John Boehner issued a statement
The administration’s mandate stands today not because it is sound policy; not because it reflects the will of the people; not because it is consistent with the freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution. The mandate stands today because the Democratic-controlled Senate preemptively blocked legislation that would have reversed this attack on religious freedom. And it stands because the President of the United States has refused to listen to the people and institutions that built a great nation.
David French in Self-Indulgence as a Foundational Virture
The imposition of the HHS mandate combined with the continuing — and inane — campaign against Chick-fil-A demonstrates how we’re replacing our founding virtues of industry, honesty, marriage, and religiosity (as described in Charles Murray’s invaluable Coming Apart) with a new prime virtue — self-indulgence. What is remarkable about the Chick-fil-A controversy is the extent to which the company’s entire portfolio of work, its excellent food, welcoming environment, extensive charitable interventions with at-risk families and youth, are nothing but ashes and dust unless Chick-fil-A gets on board with a sexual revolution that places self-indulgence (and defense of that indulgence) over every other cultural value.
He makes another valuable point, Stigma Beats Dogma. Why persuade and convince when you can browbeat.
In the battle of ideas, stigma always beats dogma. In other words, through stigmatization, one can defeat a set of ideas or principles without ever “winning” an argument on the merits.
Here’s a question for conservative parents and teachers: Are we really equipping young people to face the challenges of college if we teach them arguments? Or should we instead be primarily preparing them to face scorn and hate with inner toughness and good cheer? After all, when a professor calls you a “fascist bastard” for defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman, what is he doing if not trying to defeat dogma with stigma?
Cardinal George, a native of Chicago, responds to Mayor Rahm Emmanuel's statement that Chick-fil-a is not welcome in Chicago because it does not share 'Chicago values'.
I was born and raised here, and my understanding of being a Chicagoan never included submitting my value system to the government for approval. Must those whose personal values do not conform to those of the government of the day move from the city? Is the City Council going to set up a “Council Committee on Un-Chicagoan Activities” and call those of us who are suspect to appear before it? I would have argued a few days ago that I believe such a move is, if I can borrow a phrase, “un-Chicagoan.”
The value in question is espousal of “gender-free marriage.” Approval of state-sponsored homosexual unions has very quickly become a litmus test for bigotry; and espousing the understanding of marriage that has prevailed among all peoples throughout human history is now, supposedly, outside the American consensus
People who are not Christian or religious at all take for granted that marriage is the union of a man and a woman for the sake of family and, of its nature, for life. The laws of civilizations much older than ours assume this understanding of marriage. This is also what religious leaders of almost all faiths have taught throughout the ages. Jesus affirmed this understanding of marriage when he spoke of “two becoming one flesh” (Mt. 19: 4-6). Was Jesus a bigot? Could Jesus be accepted as a Chicagoan? Would Jesus be more “enlightened” if he had the privilege of living in our society? One is welcome to believe that, of course; but it should not become the official state religion, at least not in a land that still fancies itself free.
Surely there must be a way to properly respect people who are gay or lesbian without using civil law to undermine the nature of marriage. Surely we can find a way not to play off newly invented individual rights to “marriage” against constitutionally protected freedom of religious belief and religious practice. The State’s attempting to redefine marriage has become a defining moment not for marriage, which is what it is, but for our increasingly fragile “civil union” as citizens.
Today is the 100th birthday of Milton Friedman, The Man Who Saved Capitalism
Well over 200 million were liberated from poverty thanks to the rediscovery of the free market. And now as the world teeters close to another recession, leaders need to urgently rediscover Friedman's ideas.
I remember asking Milton, a year or so before his death, during one of our semiannual dinners in downtown San Francisco: What can we do to make America more prosperous? "Three things," he replied instantly. "Promote free trade, school choice for all children, and cut government spending."
How much should we cut? "As much as possible."
Thanks to YouTube, Milton Friedman can be watched in all his glory. All ten episodes of his PBS series Free to Choose are there.
Here is a short except on what he has to say about Greed.
The editors at the National Review extol Professor Freedom
His work in the end was not about numbers, data, or equations, but about the alleviation of unnecessary human suffering and the removal of barriers to human flourishing. As he put it: “The only cases in recorded history in which the masses have escaped grinding poverty is where they have had capitalism and largely free trade.”
He was unstinting in his criticism, but he was a famously happy warrior. His wit was one of his great pedagogical tools. Inspecting a government-run canal-building project in Asia, he noted that the workers were using shovels and wheelbarrows instead of bulldozers and earth-moving equipment, and was informed by his guide that using shovels meant more jobs for the workers. “Then why not use spoons?” Friedman asked.
Capitalism, Friedman argued, was good not because we need not protect the worker and the consumer, but because capitalism actually protects the worker and the consumer, while government merely makes proclamations about doing so.
Kevin Williamson on Freidman's Economics of Love.
Friedman’s libertarianism was based on an economics of love: for real human beings leading real human lives with real human needs and real human challenges. He loved freedom not only because it allowed IBM to pursue maximum profit but because it allowed for human flourishing at all levels. Economic growth is important to everybody, but it is most important to the poor.
Thomas Sowell calls Friedman
one of those rare thinkers who had both genius and common sense. Most people would not be able to understand the complex economic analysis that won him a Nobel Prize, but people with no knowledge of economics had no trouble understanding his popular books like Free to Choose or the TV series of the same name.
As a professor, he did not attempt to convert students to his political views. I made no secret of the fact that I was a Marxist when I was a student in Professor Friedman’s course, but he made no effort to change my views. He once said that anybody who was easily converted was not worth converting. I was still a Marxist after taking Professor Friedman’s class. Working as an economist in the government converted me.
Although Milton Friedman became someone regarded as a conservative icon, he considered himself a liberal in the original sense of the word — someone who believes in the liberty of the individual, free of government intrusions. Far from trying to conserve things as they are, he wrote a book titled Tyranny of the Status Quo.
Milton Friedman proposed radical changes in policies and institutions ranging from the public schools to the Federal Reserve. It is liberals who want to conserve and expand the welfare state.
By now you are probably all familiar with the Fast and Furious scandal which has fascinated me much as Watergate scandal when it unfolded.
The similarities are striking: the coverup by the Executive Branch of an ill-begotten program. The principal difference being in Watergate no one died, while in the Fast and Furious scandal we have two dead American agents and maybe hundreds of Mexicans shot dead by drug cartels using weapons supplied to them by our government without telling the Mexican government.
But I was dumbfounded to learn that Border Patrol agent Brian Terry and his unit were only allowed to fire bean bags at heavily armed dope smugglers.
Bean bags! Even worse, a new Border Patrol training video is instructing agents that when confronted with an armed shooter, they should run away and hide!
I'm all for seeing that every hungry person gets fed, but the fact that 1 in 7 Americans now gets food stamps is very troubling because you know as well as I that they are not in any danger of starving. More and more people are gaming the system.
Rich Lowry explains why Food Stamps are out of control
Two-thirds of the Agriculture Department’s budget is devoted to welfare programs. The biggest is food stamps, which is now the nation’s second-largest welfare program after Medicaid. Its inexorable growth during the past decade, through good times and bad, is a testament to government’s self-generating expansion. Asked what labor wanted, the great 20th-century union leader Samuel Gompers answered, “More.” The modern welfare state lives by the same credo. About 17 million people received food stamps back in 2000. Some 30 million received them in 2008. Roughly 46 million people receive them today. From 1 in 50 Americans on food stamps at the program’s national inception in the 1970s, 1 in 7 Americans are on them now.
No longer do recipients have to pass an asset test or work and no one enforces the income eligibility. Fraudulent use of food stamps is so prevalent that even the Democratic legislators in Massachusetts passed a bill that would ban the use of food stamps, called EBT debit cards, to purchase tattoos, manicures, guns, porn, body piercings, jewelry and bail. Governor Deval Patrick vetoed the bill because he said, it humiliated poor people.
How can we let this go on when we are headed towards national insolvency?
Uncle Sam's 40-year average debt to GDP ratio is 38 percent. At the end of 2008 Washington was up to 40 percent. By the end of 2012 that number will be 73 percent, "the highest percentage since shortly after World War II," said CBO. ….These numbers disguise worse news, however. CBO does not count intra-government borrowing as part of the national debt. So when the Treasury Department "borrows" money from Social Security, CBO doesn't count it, even though cash will have to be procured -- through more borrowing -- to pay promised benefits to retirees. The full national debt already is 100 percent of GDP, compared to about 84 percent for Europe.
Arthur C. Brooks says America Already Is Europe
From the progressively of our tax code, to the percentage of GDP devoted to government, to the extent of the regulatory burden on business, most of Europe's got nothing on us…. How can we be slouching down the same debt-potholed, social-democratic road as Spain? There are three explanations, all of which point to a worrying future for America.
First, the American left is every bit as focused on growing government and equalizing incomes as the Spanish left…The second force leading us down the social-democratic road is cronyism. America possesses a full-time bipartisan political apparatus dedicated to government growth and special deals for favored individuals and sectors….Third, and most importantly, while a majority of Americans are neither leftists nor corporate cronies, they aren't paying much attention to the political system.
Looking first at Europe, Bret Stephens writes about The Entitlement State and Zombies
European leaders will not cure what ails their economies because the people who voted them into office are addicted to what ails those economies.
In other words, they are addicted to entitlements…..
it's a testament to the zombifying power of entitlements. It's sometimes said that modern Europeans aren't willing to fight for anything anymore. But that's not true: Every time an entitlement is even slightly at risk—whether it's raising the retirement age to 62 from 60 in France or tinkering with the legal architecture that guarantees jobs for life in Italy—Europeans go right to the barricades. That's not just because they are defending a financial benefit. They are also defending a way of being and a state of mind: a conviction that it's up to somebody else to provide for their well-being; a terror of what might happen should that somebody else fail to provide.
Observing this situation, Americans might suppose that we are still a long way from Europe. But consider this: As of the first quarter of 2010, 48.5% of Americans lived in a household that received some form of government assistance. That's up from 44.4% when the financial crisis began in 2008, and up from around 30% just 30 years ago. In the meantime, 49.5% of Americans paid no federal income tax as of 2009, up from 34.1% when George W.Bush took office.
Once ObamaCare kicks in, the percentage of takers will move north of 50% (if it hasn't already), and we will become a nation of modern zombies—or, if you prefer, democratic serfs…..Incentives matter, but not as much as habits do. And a habit of dependency, as any addict knows, will sooner drive a man to degradation than to reform.
Just last week we learned that just 80,000 found work last week while 85,000 dropped out of the labor force to collect disability payments from Social Security!
Mona Charen on The Failures of Obamanomics
From the beginning of the recovery in June 2009, more Americans have joined the ranks of the disabled (3.1 million) than have found jobs (2.6 million). Record numbers have also filed for unemployment insurance, welfare benefits, and food stamps (which one in seven Americans now receive).
The federal government has so many welfare programs that a top official of the Government Accountability Office couldn’t even provide a fixed number to a House oversight committee, nor would Patricia Dalton “hazard a guess” as to what percentage of these programs are accomplishing the purposes for which they were created. What is not in doubt is the increase in funding President Obama has requested for welfare — 42 percent over 2008 levels.
Obama never acknowledges that his economic philosophy — enthusiastically enacted by a Democrat-dominated Congress in 2009 — not only has failed but makes no sense. By what logic does adding record numbers of people to the welfare rolls aid the economy? Fewer and fewer Americans are earning the money from which these expanded benefits are to be paid.
This can't go on and it won't. We are headed over the fiscal cliff into free fall.
Daniel Henninger, Church Is Still Not State
How ironic it will be if Catholic voters, about 27% of the electorate, put the first Mormon in the White House some 50 years after John F. Kennedy became the first Catholic president. More telling, though, about the current state of the American mind will be the fact that after more than a thousand days and events in Barack Obama's presidency, the reason for this result will be an unexpected reaffirmation of an American principle older than the country's first presidential election: the free exercise of religion.
The backlash among Catholics to the HHS order, across the political spectrum, was an astonishing thing to witness. One anecdote sticks with me from the first days. A friend in Ohio told of talking to a diocesan priest of no apparent political persuasion who said, "I hope these bishops are prepared to go to jail over this."
Go to jail? What's going on here?
Some things don't change, though, and among them is an American antipathy to being pushed too far. Americans are a tolerant people, but past some point they push back. With the HHS mandate upon them, a lot of Catholic voters are thinking resistance. It's an old American tradition.
The Obama administration is effectively saying that all the practices and beliefs embedded in the Obama health-care law are established in America and consent is required, no matter what some religion purports to believe. It is this attempt to displace religious belief with an alternative belief system that goes against the American grain and has Catholics up in arms.
The New Yorker magazine is often touted for its fact-checking. Yet there is an egregious error in its essay Why is the Catholic Church going to Court. Ed Whelan explains;
1) Talbot claims that the “lawsuit” (actually, there were twelve lawsuits filed last week, on top of the several that were already pending) “proposes . . . that religious freedom means that they [the Catholic plaintiffs] can deny access to birth control to people who don’t share their faith or that article of it.” (Emphasis added.) But that’s an outrageously false claim. If and when the lawsuits succeed, Americans will continue to have ready access to birth control. What is at stake in the lawsuits is the separate matter of whether the Obama administration can dragoon those employers who have religious objections to facilitating the use of contraceptives, abortifacients, and/or sterilization services to be the vehicle for implementing its agenda.
4} Talbot contends, “Going to court will embed the Church in partisan politics and yoke it to the right wing.” But, as Archbishop William Lori nicely put it last week:
This is not a fight we want or asked for, but one forced upon us by government on its own timing.
This is not a Republican or Democratic, a conservative or liberal issue; it is an American issue.
Do you know when the last global summit was? Neither do I. The green agenda has been forgotten or disregarded as people realize how fraudulent it is. The prophets of environmental armageddon more than ever seem like Reverend Camping with his predictions of the end of the world and rapture.
Walter Russell Mead wites in Global Green Agenda Continues to Fail
Remember when meetings to debate and negotiate an international carbon treaty were big news? The Copenhagen Summit was hailed as the largest assembly of world leaders ever to gather for one event; when it fizzled in waves of shame and confusion, the green movement was shocked and dismayed.
Those who want to follow the latest stage in the futile march of the global greens can read the BBC dispatch on the global non-summit; the air of despair hanging over the process comes through loud and clear. These are bureaucrats who realize they are becoming so irrelevant that they may soon face the grim possibility of budget cuts: as of now, there are no funds available for the next global green gabfest, tentatively scheduled for Bangkok.
Concern about the climate, we continue to believe at Via Meadia, is not misplaced, but the crazy set of unrealistic objectives, laughable foreign aid boondoggles, Malthusian panic mongering and cockamamie treaty plans made this UN process a clown circus that was doomed to fail — and the sooner, the better. There was a time — as recently as early 2010 — when the Great and the Good, the Champions of the Conventional Wisdom and the Oracles of the Davoisie identified this forlorn negotiation as the wave of the future and the last best hope of man.
Let the futility and failure to which all this led be a reminder to us and to them: those who guide the world’s destiny aren’t nearly as discerning as they think they are. Between the American housing bubble, the European meltdown and the climate disaster, it almost begins to look as if the Establishment consists mostly of overpaid, egotistical blowhards.
As The Examiner’s Brian Hughes reminds us, then-candidate Obama promised to create 5 million green jobs, at the low, low cost of only $15 billion per year:
Obama spent $90 billion of his stimulus package on green energy projects, including weatherization of buildings and development of electric vehicles. Yet, by the end of last year, just 16,100 people landed new jobs in the so-called green industry, Labor Department statistics show, far short of the 200,000 jobs the White House projected it would help create each year.
Obama has grown very quiet about climate change. He can spot a political loser from a Chicago mile away. He’s not attending the UN’s 20th anniversary of the Earth Summit that started the whole climate diplomacy circus. Twenty years ago the greens browbeat President Bush to attend, which he ultimately did. But the craven greens seem to be giving Obama a pass. As Roll Call reports:
President Barack Obama’s first Earth Day proclamation in 2009 was an urgent call to address global warming. This year? The word “climate” didn’t even get a mention. . .
Item: In an extremely curious New York Times story last week, Times environmental writer John Broder notes that President Obama pushed hard for the final approval of Shell Oil’s long sought permit to begin drilling in a new offshore oil field in Alaska, which has been held up for years by bureaucratic red tape and environmental lawsuits.
This opening of the frozen frontier to oil exploration is curious because the President nixed the Keystone pipeline for no rational reason simply to please his base. His administration has delayed and delayed to approve new onshore drilling in Alaska threatening the physical viability of the Alaskan pipeline because of declining oil flow.
From Canada to Colombia to Brazil, oil and gas production in the Western Hemisphere is booming, with the United States emerging less dependent on supplies from an unstable Middle East. Central to the new energy equation is the United States itself, which has ramped up production and is now churning out 1.7 million more barrels of oil and liquid fuel per day than in 2005.
“There are new players and drivers in the world,” said Ruben Etcheverry, chief executive of Gas and Oil of Neuquen, a state-owned energy firm that is positioning itself to develop oil and gas fields here in Patagonia. “There is a new geopolitical shift, and those countries that never provided oil and gas can now do so. For the United States, there is a glimmer of the possibility of self-sufficiency.”
Harvard Law School Professor Mary Ann Glendon explains Why the Bishops Are Suing the U.S. Government.
The main goal of the mandate is not, as HHS claimed, to protect women's health. It is rather a move to conscript religious organizations into a political agenda, forcing them to facilitate and fund services that violate their beliefs, within their own institutions.
More is at stake here than the mission of all churches, including the Catholic Church, to provide social services like health care and education to everyone regardless of creed, and to do so without compromising their beliefs. At the deepest level, we are witnessing an attack on the institutions of civil society that are essential to limited government and are important buffers between the citizen and the all-powerful state.
If religious providers of education, health care and social services are closed down or forced to become tools of administration policy, the government consolidates a monopoly over those essential services. As Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, put it, we are witnessing an effort to reduce religion to a private activity. "Never before," he said, "have we faced this kind of challenge to our ability to engage in the public square as people of faith."
Religious freedom is subject to necessary limitations in the interests of public health and safety. The HHS regulations do not fall into that category. The world has gotten along fine without this mandate—the services in question are widely and cheaply available, and most employers will provide coverage for them.
But if the regulations are not reversed, they threaten to demote religious liberty from its prominent place among this country's most cherished freedoms. That is why Cardinal Dolan told CBS's "Face the Nation" on April 8: "We didn't ask for this fight, but we won't back away from it."
This is the Biggest Religious Lawsuit in U.S. History and the network news shows ignored it writes Brent Bozell in Newsbusters.
The fact is that the Catholic Church has unleashed legal Armageddon on the administration, promising ‘we will not comply’ with a health law that strips Catholics of their religious liberty. If this isn't 'news' then there's no such thing as news. This should be leading newscasts and the subject of special, in-depth reports. Instead, these networks are sending a clear message to all Americans that the networks will go to any lengths – even censoring from the public an event of this historic magnitude – to prevent the release of any information that will hurt Obama’s chances of re-election.
This is the worst bias by omission I have seen in the quarter century history of the Media Research Center.
I've been away all day so I'm only now catching up on the news.
And this is very good news. GAO: Recoverable Oil in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming 'About Equal to Entire World's Proven Oil Reserves
The Green River Formation, a largely vacant area of mostly federal land that covers the territory where Colorado, Utah and Wyoming come together, contains about as much recoverable oil as all the rest the world’s proven reserves combined, an auditor from the Government Accountability Office told Congress on Thursday.
“USGS estimates that the Green River Formation contains about 3 trillion barrels of oil, and about half of this may be recoverable, depending on available technology and economic conditions,” Mittal testified.
“The Rand Corporation, a nonprofit research organization, estimates that 30 to 60 percent of the oil shale in the Green River Formation can be recovered,” Mittal told the subcommittee. “At the midpoint of this estimate, almost half of the 3 trillion barrels of oil would be recoverable. This is an amount about equal to the entire world's proven oil reserves.”
Think of the implications of creating tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of new jobs, of becoming truly energy self reliant, free from troublesome tyrants in the Mideast.
What an amazing world.
photo of earth from Russian weather satellite
The bad news is that about 75% of it is controlled by the Federal Government's Bureau of Land Management.
It's news, but not surprising news, that Public Employees Second Only to Financial Pros in Fraud according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), the world's arrest anti-fraud organization.
A congressional staffer who has worked to combat fraud at the federal level agreed that the amount of money being spent has stretched the government thin and left limited accountability. A culture has developed that excuses lavish spending programs, he said, pointing to the GSA’s $800,000 Las Vegas retreat, which has resulted in several firings and resignations.
“The federal government is sending all of this money out and there’s no follow up, no accountability,” the staffer said. “It’s part of the culture.”
It doesn't help that states are gaming the system too.
This is astonishing, Kodak Had a Secret Nuclear Reactor Loaded with Enriched Uranium Hidden in a Basement in Rochester, N.Y.
Kodak's purpose for the reactor wasn't sinister: they used it to check materials for impurities as well as neutron radiography testing. The reactor, a Californium Neutron Flux multiplier (CFX) was acquired in 1974 and loaded with three and a half pounds of enriched uranium plates placed around a californium-252 core.
The reactor was installed in a closely guarded, two-foot-thick concrete walled underground bunker in the company's headquarters, where it was fed tests using a pneumatic system. …It wasn't until 2006, well after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, that it was decided to dismantle it.
This story brought to mind stories of neighborhood nuclear plants from 2008. Mini nuclear plants to power 20,000 homes
Nuclear power plants smaller than a garden shed and able to power 20,000 homes will be on sale within five years, say scientists at Los Alamos, the US government laboratory which developed the first atomic bomb.
The miniature reactors will be factory-sealed, contain no weapons-grade material, have no moving parts and will be nearly impossible to steal because they will be encased in concrete and buried underground.
The US government has licensed the technology to Hyperion, a New Mexico-based company which said last week that it has taken its first firm orders and plans to start mass production within five years. 'Our goal is to generate electricity for 10 cents a kilowatt hour anywhere in the world,' said John Deal, chief executive of Hyperion. '
So what is Hyperion doing today?
And it changed its name. SMR Developer Hyperion Power Now Gen4 Energy
The Gen4 Module (formerly the Hyperion Power Module) is a small next generation nuclear power reactor that will not require refueling during its 10-year operational lifetime, as well as no on-site access to nuclear fuel, which reduces safety and proliferation concerns. According to the release, G4M technology has the potential to provide power to undeveloped regions, demonstrate unmatched nuclear safety, as well as provide a cleaner energy source by emitting no greenhouse gasses. The G4M will produce 25 MW of safe and reliable electric power that is manufactured in a factory and transported to the installation site completely sealed. After its useful life it is replaced with an entirely new power module.
Why haven't any of the people responsible for the financial crash been charged and brought to trial?
In an explosive Newsweek article set to rock official Washington, reporter Peter Boyer and Breitbart contributing editor and Government Accountability Institute President Peter Schweizer reveal how Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice are operating under a “justice for sale” strategy by forgoing criminal prosecution of Wall Street executives at big financial institutions who just so happen to be clients of the white-shoe law firms where Holder and his top DOJ lieutenants worked.
Not surprisingly, of the elite bundlers who made up Obama’s 2008 campaign, the second most represented industry after law was the securities and investment industry.
As Boyer and Schweizer report, Department of Justice criminal prosecutions are at 20-year lows for corporate securities and bank fraud. And while large financial institutions have faced civil prosecution, those typically end in settlement fees with the major banks that represent a fraction of their profits, often paid through special taxes on mortgage-backed securities.
Breitbart reports Top DOJ officials were Obama bundlers with Wall St Ties
Four of the top officials at the Department of Justice were all big money fundraisers for President Obama’s 2008 campaign with strong ties to Wall Street—the very entity the Obama Administration has said must be criminally prosecuted for bringing about the biggest financial crisis in U.S. history.
The nexus between big money campaign fundraising and senior appointments at the Department of Justice raises numerous questions and appearances of conflict of interest that go far beyond mere recusal from certain cases. Furthermore, many of the financial institutions the Department of Justice claims to be criminally investigating for financial fraud are former clients of the law firms from which DOJ’s top brass hail.
Where's the justice? Where's the deterrent to future reckless Wall Street criminal shenanigans?
In the wake of the Secret Service scandal, here's something I didn't know.
Obama's crew has nothing on the team that got drunk before JFK's assassination.
Congressman Pete King, the Republican chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, calls the scandal involving prostitutes in Colombia “the worst moment in the history of the Secret Service.”
He’s wrong about that. The worst moment in the history of the Secret Service was November 22, 1963, the day John F. Kennedy was shot and killed. It was the first and only time since the Secret Service was put fully in charge of protecting the president in 1902 that a president was assassinated.
William Manchester, in his 1967 book about the Kennedy assassination, The Death of the President, reports that nine agents of the White House Secret Service detail were out after midnight on November 22, starting with “beer and mixed drinks.” One agent was out until 5 a.m. Manchester wrote, “Fellow drinkers during those early morning hours included four agents who were to ride in the president’s follow-up care in Dallas, and whose alertness was vital to his safety.”
Italy can still teach our Congressmen a thing or two.
The Italians despise the politicians they elect because they are hugely paid, hugely corrupt, and hugely useless. They can blame no one but themselves, because each nation gets the politicians it deserves. Once upon a time before I knew better I used to think there was a solution: Catch the Italians young before it is too late and force them to spend an entire day each week at school learning the difference between right and wrong and why this matters. But then I remembered that they are all Catholics and the Catholic Church does all that anyway. And look where that has got the Italians! So then it dawned on me: It’s gotta be in their DNA.
There are 435 Congressmen in America (population 311 million) and 100 Senators; their gross basic salary is $174,000. There are 630 Deputati, as members of the Lower House are called in Italy (population 60 million) and 315 Senatori. Average salary is around 200,000 euro ($261,000) according to a recent survey of European politicians’ incomes.
Italy’s politicians the highest-paid in Europe.
Italian politicians usually have second jobs, because let’s face it: They have a lot of time on their hands. I know one of them: He is a newspaper columnist with whom I am coauthoring a book on Benito Mussolini. My coauthor declared earnings for 2011, I noted recently with a great deal of irritation, of 340,000 euro ($444,000).
after three years on the job, for example, they are entitled to a fat inflation-proof pension when they reach 60 (which most of them already are). Planes, trains, stamps, gym, cinema, theater, life and personal-injury insurance, hairdresser, tennis, and English lessons—you name it, they get it free.
Obviously, they also get free private health and dental care for themselves and their families.
Recommended by the Scrapbook. here are a couple of very good articles to read over the weekend
The most intelligent article I've read about How to Replace Obamacare by James Capretta and Robert Moffit in National Affairs .
The Handwriting on the Wall by George Weigel
the words on the wall at this moment in history speak of the results of a negation — a deconstruction — of the deep truths on which the civilization of the West has been built. And one of the main things that the "handwriting on the wall" in the early 21st century is telling us is that the secular project is over.
By "secular project," I mean the effort, extending over the past two centuries or more, to erect an empty shrine at the heart of political modernity.
In both its hard and soft forms, the secular project was wrong. Above all, it ignored the deep truth that it takes a certain kind of people, living certain virtues, to make democracy and the free economy work properly. People of that kind do not just happen. They must be formed in the habits of heart and mind, the virtues that enable them to guide the machinery of free politics and free economics so that the net outcome is human flourishing and the promotion of the common good. There is no such formation in the virtues of freedom available at the empty shrine.
A glimpse of what the empty shrine does produce was on offer late last summer in Great Britain, when packs of feral young people rampaged through city after city in an orgy of self-indulgence, theft, and destruction. The truth of what all that was about was most powerfully articulated by Lord Jonathan Sacks, the chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, writing in the Wall Street Journal:
This was the bursting of a dam of potential trouble that had been building for years. The collapse of families and communities leaves in its wake unsocialized young people…[who are the products of] a tsunami of wishful thinking that washed across the West, saying that you can have sex without the responsibility of marriage, children without the responsibility of parenthood, social order without the responsibility of citizenship, liberty without the responsibility of morality, and self-esteem without the responsibility of work and earned achievement.
That false worship of the Self — the worship of that which is not worthy of worship — has led to a severe attenuation of the moral sinews of democratic culture: the commitment to reason and truth-telling in debate; the courage to face hard facts squarely; the willingness to concede that others may have something to teach us; the ability to distinguish between prudent compromise and the abandonment of principle; the very idea of the common good, which may demand personal sacrifice.
Taking a cue from that great philosophical celebrant of irony, Richard Rorty, Colgate University's Robert Kraynak has neatly described the net result of all this as "freeloading atheism": Like Belshazzar's lords, wives, and concubines, those formed by the empty shrine and the worship of the imperial, autonomous Self have been drinking profligately out of sacred vessels, freeloading on moral truths that they do not acknowledge (and in many cases hold in contempt), but which are essential for sustaining democracy and the free economy, which the freeloaders claim to honor. But as Lord Sacks pointed out last summer, that jig is up.
What I have called the "empty shrine" at the center of political modernity was, for Leo XIII, the result of a dramatic revolution in European intellectual life in which metaphysics had been displaced from the center of reflection, thinking-about-thinking had replaced thinking-about-truth, and governance had therefore come unstuck from the first principles of justice. Science, which had replaced metaphysics as the most consequential of intellectual disciplines, could provide no answer to the moral question with which all politics, in the Western tradition, begins: How ought we to live together? Worse, when science stepped outside its disciplinary boundaries and tried its hand at social and political prescription, it let loose new demons, such as Social Darwinism, that would prove astonishingly lethal when they shaped the national tempers that made possible the great slaughters of the First World War.
Leo XIII insisted that freedom is not sheer willfulness. Rather, as Leo's successor John Paul II would later put it, freedom is the human capacity to know what is truly good, to choose it freely, and to do so as a matter of habit, or virtue. According to this line of argument, a talent for freedom grows in us; we cut short that learning process if we insist, with the culture of the imperial autonomous Self, that my freedom consists in doing what I want to do, now.
"The handwriting on the wall" at this moment in history is telling us that a political culture detached from the deep truths embedded in the human condition eventually yields traits of selfishness and irresponsibility that ill befit citizens of a democracy. "The handwriting on the wall" is telling us that a democratic politics that ignores those deep truths eventually dissolves into thinly disguised dictatorship — the dictatorship of relativism. And if that is the message, then our duty comes into clearer focus, too.
The Constitution is your patrimony. Be very aware of the people who want to amend it out of existence.
Abraham Lincoln said,
"Don't interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties."
George Washington said, “The Constitution is the guide which I never will abandon”
Sam Adams, “"The liberties of our country, the freedoms of our civil Constitution are worth defending at all hazards; it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors. They purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood. It will bring a mark of everlasting infamy on the present generation – enlightened as it is – if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or to be cheated out of them by the artifices of designing men."
Patrick Henry said, “The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government - lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.”
Henry Clay, “The Constitution of the United States was made not merely for the generation that then existed, but for posterity- unlimited, undefined, endless, perpetual posterity”
Enter Jim McGovern, (D) US Representative from Worcester, MA., “The Constitution is wrong.”
Now he is sponsoring the People's Rights Amendment in what Jeff Jacoby calls a 'flawed war'
McGovern’s problem, it turns out, is with the Bill of Rights. He objects to the way it safeguards fundamental rights — such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom to petition the government for redress of grievances — not only when citizens act as lone individuals, but also when they unite as corporations in order to pool their assets and act more efficiently.
Like many on the left, McGovern has gone batty on the subject of “corporate personhood.” This is a perfectly commonplace, centuries-old legal construct that makes it possible for individuals organized as a group to carry out their affairs effectively. Because corporations are legal “persons,” for example, they can rent property without requiring the signature of every shareholder on every lease. They can be sued in court as single entities, without obliging plaintiffs to go after tens of thousands of individual defendants. They can be taxed. They can enter into contracts. They can register patents.
What infuriates many liberals is that corporations can also express political views, spending money to take sides in contested elections. . “Corporations are not people,” scowled McGovern at a Democratic forum last week…..So the congressman proposes to strip corporations of all constitutional liberties and guarantees.
Under McGovern’s proposal, corporations — for-profit and nonprofit alike —would have no more rights than legislators chose to give them. Congress could ban ExxonMobil and R.J. Reynolds from commenting on any public issue, and they would have no recourse to the First Amendment. But it isn’t only Big Oil and Big Tobacco that could be censored with impunity. So could Planned Parenthood and the National Rifle Association. So could the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, and the Museum of Fine Arts. So could innumerable universities, charities, churches, small businesses, and government watchdogs. And so, of course, could most newspapers, magazines, TV networks, and book publishers. Corporations of every kind would lose their constitutional defenses. Vast swaths of American life would be permanently vulnerable to the whims and vendettas of politicians.
And what is true of First Amendment rights would be true of all the others: Protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, due process under law, the right to trial by jury — corporations could be stripped of them all.
McGovern and Pelosi may honestly imagine that mutilating the Constitution in this way will make American democracy more wholesome and less corrupt. What it would really do is empower the political class to a degree never before seen in our history. Far from reinvigorating the dream of the Founding Fathers, the People’s Rights Amendment would transform it into a nightmare.
The National Review editorializes, Keep the First Amendment
The phrase “stunning development” is used far too often in our politics, but here is an item that can be described in no other way: Nancy Pelosi and congressional Democrats, frustrated by the fact that the Bill of Rights interferes with their desire to muzzle their political opponents, have proposed to repeal the First Amendment.
That is precisely what the so-called People’s Rights Amendment would do. If this amendment were to be enacted, the cardinal rights protected by the First Amendment — free speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom to petition the government for redress of grievances — would be redefined and reduced to the point of unrecognizability. The amendment would hold that the rights protected by the Constitution are enjoyed only by individuals acting individually; individuals acting in collaboration with others would be stripped of those rights.
The so-called People’s Rights Amendment would have some strange consequences: Newspapers, television networks, magazines, and online journalism operations typically are incorporated. So are political parties and campaign committees, to say nothing of nonprofits, business associations, and the like. Under the People’s Rights Amendment, Thomas Friedman would still enjoy putative First Amendment protection, but it would not do him much good inasmuch as the New York Times Company, being a corporation, would no longer be protected by the First Amendment. In short, any political speech more complex than standing on a soapbox at an intersection would be subject to the whims of Nancy Pelosi.
Justice may be blind, but who works overtime to make it deaf, dumb, and stupid?
Which would you imagine might attract more aggressive enforcement from the Justice Department: the theft of $1.2 billion from supposedly segregated customer brokerage funds, or lying about an alleged incident of whistling to attract the attention of a whale so that whale watchers could get a better peep? If you said the latter, then you appreciate the extent to which federal law enforcement priorities have run off the rails.
Who has set the priorities at the Justice Department that is allowing this to happen, and why? How can an SEC that can't catch a Bernie Madoff before he blows himself up or nail a guy like John Corzine after his hand, arm, neck, and head are caught in the cookie jar be expected to professionally, effectively, and impartially enforce the thousands of regulations inflicted on the rest of us?
But woe to anyone who messes with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's rules on harassing marine mammals. Or runs afoul of the Environmental Protection Agency when their backyard is declared a wetland. Or gets in a Davis Bacon labor dispute with a powerful union. Or fails to file accurate Affirmative Action Plan paperwork. Yet it seems that if you‘ve got the right Washington connections you can pick your clients' pockets and even burn the economy to the ground without suffering any consequences.
This is more than just justice gone awry. It is the systematic destruction of the rule of law and its replacement by shameless cronyism.
In the much touted national health service of Great Britain, life-saving treatment is denied to the elderly. Even palliative surgery!
When Kenneth Warden was diagnosed with terminal bladder cancer, his hospital consultant sent him home to die, ruling that at 78 he was too old to treat.
Even the palliative surgery or chemotherapy that could have eased his distressing symptoms were declared off-limits because of his age.
His distraught daughter Michele Halligan accepted the sad prognosis but was determined her father would spend his last months in comfort. So she paid for him to seen privately by a second doctor to discover what could be done to ease his symptoms.
Thanks to her tenacity, Kenneth got the drugs and surgery he needed — and as a result his cancer was actually cured. Four years on, he is a sprightly 82-year-old who works out at the gym, drives a sports car and competes in a rowing team.
‘You could call his recovery amazing,’ says Michele, 51. ‘It is certainly a gift. But the fact is that he was written off because of his age. He was left to suffer so much, and so unnecessarily.’
Too many abortions, not enough babies and too generous pensions put Germany in the position where it now must levy a special tax on the young. And so, extra burdens are added to those who are just starting out in adult life. This is not the way it should be.
This is the first, not the last, of generational taxes we will see.
GERMANY is proposing to levy extra taxes on the young to pay for the costs of the country's growing numbers of old people, under government plans for a ''demographic reserve'' levy.
Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats have drafted proposals that, if law, would require all those over 25 to pay a proportion of their income to cushion Germany against a looming population crisis.
... officials are considering a special levy of about 1 per cent of income.
Estimates from Germany's federal employment agency predict that the workforce will be reduced by 7 million people by 2025.
Nanny Bloomberg sinks to new lows as the mayor bans all food donations to all government-run facilities that serve the city's homeless.
In conjunction with a mayoral task force and the Health Department, the Department of Homeless Services recently started enforcing new nutritional rules for food served at city shelters. Since DHS can’t assess the nutritional content of donated food, shelters have to turn away good Samaritans.
DHS Commissioner Seth Diamond says the ban on food donations is consistent with Mayor Bloomberg’s emphasis on improving nutrition for all New Yorkers. A new interagency document controls what can be served at facilities — dictating serving sizes as well as salt, fat and calorie contents, plus fiber minimums and condiment recommendations.
The city also cites food-safety issues with donations, but it’s clear that the real driver behind the ban is the Bloomberg dietary diktats.
Diamond insists that the institutional vendors hired by the shelters serve food that meets the rules but also tastes good; it just isn’t too salty. So, says the commissioner, the homeless really don’t need any of the synagogue’s food.
The ban on food donations is the direct result of work by many city agencies, all led by a mayoral task force.
The Bloomberg administration is so obsessed with meddling in how we all live that it’s now eating away at the very best that New York citizens have to deliver.
Well, if you believe government can do it all, you can eliminate all charity like City Harvest and Meals on Wheels and all the groups at city churches and synagogues. City Harvest for example rescues food from all segments of the food industry including restaurants, wholesalers, greenmarkets, bakeries, caterers, hospitals and corporate cafeterias, as well as canned food drives. No more says Mayor Bloomberg.
This is not about access to contraception, which is ubiquitous and inexpensive, even when it is not provided by the Church’s hand and with the Church’s funds. This is not about the religious freedom of Catholics only, but also of those who recognize that their cherished beliefs may be next on the block. This is not about the Bishops’ somehow “banning contraception,” when the U.S. Supreme Court took that issue off the table two generations ago. Indeed, this is not about the Church wanting to force anybody to do anything; it is instead about the federal government forcing the Church—consisting of its faithful and all but a few of its institutions—to act against Church teachings. This is not a matter of opposition to universal health care, which has been a concern of the Bishops’ Conference since 1919, virtually at its founding. This is not a fight we want or asked for, but one forced upon us by government on its own timing. Finally, this is not a Republican or Democratic, a conservative or liberal issue; it is an American issue.
Government has no place defining religion and religious ministry. HHS thus creates and enforces a new distinction—alien both to our Catholic tradition and to federal law—between our houses of worship and our great ministries of service to our neighbors, namely, the poor, the homeless, the sick, the students in our schools and universities, and others in need, of any faith community or none.
A mandate to act against our teachings. The exemption is not merely a government foray into internal Church governance, where government has no legal competence or authority—disturbing though that may be. This error in theory has grave consequences in principle and practice. Those deemed by HHS not to be “religious employers” will be forced by government to violate their own teachings within their very own institutions. This is not only an injustice in itself, but it also undermines the effective proclamation of those teachings to the faithful and to the world. For decades, the Bishops have led the fight against such government incursions on conscience, particularly in the area of health care. Far from making us waver in this longstanding commitment, the unprecedented magnitude of this latest threat has only strengthened our resolve to maintain that consistent view.
A violation of personal civil rights. The HHS mandate creates still a third class, those with no conscience protection at all: individuals who, in their daily lives, strive constantly to act in accordance with their faith and moral values. They, too, face a government mandate to aid in providing “services” contrary to those values—whether in their sponsoring of, and payment for, insurance as employers; their payment of insurance premiums as employees; or as insurers themselves—without even the semblance of an exemption.
George Weigel writes in No Compromise
There will be no compromise here, for there can be no compromise of first principles. Those who understand that will gather their energies and continue to defend both Catholic and American tradition.
The young American republic was largely born from a Protestant dissenting tradition. The freedom to worship freely was a deep root of the colonial experience; as scholars like Barry Alan Shain and Donald Lutz have shown, colonial America was made up of countless small congregations wanting to live as their beliefs guided them.
Thomas Jefferson : “That to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”
James Madison: ‘The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate. This right is in its nature an unalienable right....It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage and such only as he believes to be acceptable to him. This duty is precedent, both in order of time and in degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society.’
So many accounting tricks were used to 'reduce' the apparent cost of Obamacare so that it could be pushed through Congress, we are only now beginning to learn its true costs as Philip Klein points out.
President Obama's national health care law will cost $1.76 trillion over a decade, according to a new projection released today by the Congressional Budget Office, rather than the $940 billion forecast when it was signed into law.
That's twice as expensive as we thought. If a car dealer did this, he would rightly be accused of "bait and switch".
Of course, these numbers are so large, it's impossible to grasp them.
At the Farm, Maggie makes an essential point that should be blazoned in neon
Britain again: Christians have no right to wear cross at work, says Government - Christians do not have a right to wear a cross or crucifix openly at work, the Government is to argue in a landmark court case.
There is a deep confusion there. The government does not dispense or remove rights. Government is supposed to be there to protect freedom.
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson says
I don’t know the process by which government lawyers have decided this is the right way to go, but someone needs to march into their room, grab them by the lapels, and tell them not to be such confounded idiots.
Mrs Eweida is a member of a group — Christians — and she wanted to express her membership of that group in a small and inoffensive way. She was suspended and sent home. She was told she could not have contact with the public. She was discriminated against. She did suffer disadvantage. It is plain as a pikestaff. Government lawyers should run up the white flag now. Never mind Strasbourg: it is time for some common sense.
My faith in the inherent soundness of the American citizenry is strengthened when 75% of Americans are against Obamacare and a clear majority think it's a bad thing, according to a CNN/Gallup poll.
One example of a very bad thing that's received too little attention: the unaccountable, unelected Central Committee of Obamacare, the IPAB, will not be required to tell us what regulations they plan to enact and whatever regulations they do promulgate will not be reviewable either in administrative proceedings or in the courts. The IPAB is the rationing board, the ultimate in government price control.
Last week, 24 medical organizations representing 350,000 doctors urged Congress to repeal Medicare’s new Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). That’s the right prescription for improving American health care and protecting access to innovative treatments for seniors.
The IPAB is the ultimate backstop to try to reining in the costs of the gigantic new entitlement...If the IPAB survives, it’s predictable what will occur: It will try small steps and then larger and more onerous ones aimed at reining in costs. And when all those fail, the reimbursement rates will be slashed. The Democrats may declare “rationing” isn’t in the cards, but when health-care providers can’t be adequately reimbursed, they limit or eliminate certain treatment options.
Even Democrats are joining the Independent Payment Advisory Revolt
The vehicle is a bill from Tennessee Republican Phil Roe that would repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board, or IPAB, the new ObamaCare bureaucracy with vast powers to control health care and health markets starting next year. A straight majority of the House has joined Mr. Roe as co-sponsors—some 234 Members, including 20 Democrats.
This turn is remarkable because the IPAB really does embody ObamaCare's innermost I values and beliefs—to wit, that health decisions are too important to leave to the people receiving the care (patients), the people providing the care (doctors and hospitals), the people paying for the care (taxpayers), or even the people who got the government involved in the first place (politicians).
The irony is that the White House is expanding the government-run health care that it says the government can't be trusted to run by itself, even as its unaccountable, unelected board undermines democratic consent. The IPAB was relieved of the normal checks and balances of notice-and-comment rulemaking, and its edicts aren't subject to administrative or even judicial review. Consumers have far more rights of legal recourse under the private health plans that Mr. Obama deplores.
Walter Russell Mead, 50% of UK Nursing Home Patients Abused By Government Health Care
Fans of government health care keep telling us that government can do the job, and they point to countries like the UK as examples where single payer, government run health care systems deliver high quality, compassionate care.
They are either grossly ignorant or they are lying through their teeth.
A recent study by a British healthcare regulator finds that half of all elderly people in Britain’s nursing homes are being denied basic health services.
And you can't fire them.
The West may been too worn out to care about protecting religious freedom, free speech or much of the Constitution at all. Still
it ought to bother you that in the cause of delegitimizing two millennia of moral teaching the state is willing to intrude on core rights — rights to property, rights of association, even rights to private conversation.
Mark Steyn in a must-read article The Church of Big Government
Discussing the constitutionality of Obamacare's "preventive health" measures on MSNBC, Melinda Henneberger of the Washington Post told Chris Matthews that she reasons thus with her liberal friends: "Maybe the Founders were wrong to guarantee free exercise of religion in the First Amendment, but they did."
Maybe. A lot of other constitutional types in the Western world have grown increasingly comfortable with circumscribing religious liberty. In 2002, the Swedish constitution was amended to criminalize criticism of homosexuality. "Disrespect" of the differently orientated became punishable by up to two years in jail, and "especially offensive" disrespect by up to four years. Shortly thereafter, Pastor Ake Green preached a sermon referencing the more robust verses of scripture, and was convicted of "hate crimes" for doing so.
[M]ost of the West now believes in the state as church — an all-powerful deity who provides day-care for your babies and takes your aged parents off your hands.... America's Catholic hierarchy, in particular, colluded in the redefinition of the tiresome individual obligation to Christian charity as the painless universal guarantee of state welfare....They were gung ho for Obamacare. It never seemed to occur to them that, if you agitate for state health care, the state gets to define what health care is.
As Tocqueville saw it, what prevents the "state popular" from declining into a "state despotic" is the strength of the intermediary institutions between the sovereign and the individual. But in the course of the 20th century, the intermediary institutions, the independent pillars of a free society, were gradually chopped away — from church to civic associations to family. Very little now stands between the individual and the sovereign, which is why the latter assumes the right to insert himself into every aspect of daily life, including the provisions a Catholic college president makes for his secretary's IUD.
I've been knocked out much of this week with a stomach flu, so this is a grab bag of links I found interesting
Fascinating series of photographs by Miho Aikawa entitled Dinner in NY. Amazing how many people eat alone and while doing something else.
Very interesting series on the new camouflage patterns the army will be introducing and how they are created using 3-D layering, light-reflecting gradients, shadows and pixels to disrupt what you're seeing
An infographic on What It Costs to Leave This World.
How a Syrian adventure became a nightmare, Five Years in Damascus
Damascenes have lived with this regime for decades and know it only really understands the way of the gun. It is a regime that scoffs at political ideals, a family fiefdom forged long ago in an absurd tribal pride that values a misplaced honor and personal ego over all. It can smuggle and steal, and it is not afraid to shoot and kill --but it will not negotiate or compromise.
How the history of toothpaste explains why you can't lose weight, The Power of Habit
Before Pepsodent, almost no Americans brushed their teeth. A decade after Hopkins' advertising campaigns, pollsters found that toothbrushing had become a daily ritual for more than half the population.
Craving, it turns out, is what powers a habit.
Charles Cooke went out to see how available free contraceptives were and brings back a huge Contraceptive Haul
To listen to the president and the various women’s groups who have so enjoyed throwing around the absurd “anti-women” hyperbole over the last month, one would think that Americans were still required to ape the cloak-and-dagger subterfuge of a drug deal in order to get their hands on contraception, and that they were paying a hefty premium into the bargain. This could not be further from the truth. In my foray, remember, I looked solely for “free” contraceptives. But — quelle horreur! — it is still possible, even normal, to buy contraceptives in every drugstore in the country. Indeed, so ample and various is the supply that it comes in a startling array of flavors, methods, and combinations. No questions are asked. Nobody is excluded.
We've all heard Warren Buffett insist that he and the rich are not paying enough taxes. Maybe he's just not paying the taxes he's required to. Now, two of Buffett's subsidiary companies are being sued by the federal government for tax evasion?
Despite the growing number of mothers 40 years old and over, 80 per cent of women and 70 per cent of men said that the 'optimal age for parenting' are the thirties. The University of California, San Francisco, interviewed 170 people in the small but telling survey.
The University of North Carolina- Greensboro is saying Christian student club isn’t religious and therefore must allow students of other religions and belief systems to become leaders and members as a condition to being a recognized group.
The head of the BBC, Mark Thompson, has admitted that the broadcaster would never mock Mohammed like it mocks Jesus.
He justified the astonishing admission of religious bias by suggesting that mocking Mohammed might have the “emotional force” of “grotesque child pornography”.
But Jesus is fair game because, he said, Christianity has broad shoulders and fewer ties to ethnicity.
Imagine looking at this art every time you went to the airport. Something is rotten in the Denver airport
Breaking. The Senate voted 51-48 to kill an amendment which would have restored a conscience exemption in the Obamacare on a generally party-line vote. I've read in various places that Obama was losing support of women. What better way to get them back on board than "to change the narrative" from the First Amendment of Freedom of Religion to those awful Republicans who want to take away your birth control.
As the Anchoress wrote
The frankly false ideas are being served up by the mainstream media and others who evidently believe women are staggeringly stupid. The GOP, they maintain, is after their ladyparts, and colluding with Christians who suddenly wish to outlaw contraception.
This lie is another distraction, and an exceedingly cynical one. Prior to that debate no one was even thinking about contraception bans as a public issue; even now, the only people actually doing so are assorted Democrat operatives and their allies in the media. Time will tell whether American women are as stupid and susceptible to baseless fearmongering as the Democrats clearly believe them to be.
No one has proposed outlawing birth control. Not even the Bishops. What the Democrats are proposing is a new welfare program to provide free birth control to every woman no matter how rich they are. At the same, the Democrats cut $500 billion from Medicare to fund Obamacare.
There is no problem with access to birth control. The question is who is going to pay for it. For the poor, free birth control is provided by state and federal funded family planning clinics. Even Planned Parenthood gives away free birth control to anyone who wants it.
What is most upsetting to me is that the keystone, the crown jewel of the Bill of Rights, freedom of religion, fought for, preserved by generations of Americans is now being scuttled by this Administration and Democrats for a bogus birth control argument designed to win women back to the Democrat side come the 2012 election. If allowed to go into effect, this mandate will create chaos across the country as Catholic hospitals, schools and charities close down.
Kathleen Sebelius says she's working on a compromise plan on contraceptive coverage under the HHS mandate and she's talking to Catholic health leaders, union leaders, and "our partners at labor" to figure out a strategy. Every one but the bishops.
Amazing. I wonder how much longer the charade goes on. We’ve known since early 2009 that the concept of conscience means nothing to this president who is much more interested in asserting power, sidestepping the constitution and acquiring more power.
This thing has been a game from the start, one put in play last November when Mrs. Pelosi let slip about “this conscience thing” that Catholics bother the government with. It’s a game, but it’s one they want to win, and one we can’t afford to lose.
And this is why they’re not interested in talking to the Bishops:
“Only in the post-mandate world might it be considered ‘liberal’ for the government to coerce people into violating their religious beliefs; to justify that coercion based on the minority status of those beliefs; to intrude into the internal affairs of religious organizations; to crush out religious diversity in the private sector; and to incentivize religious groups to serve fewer of the needy.”
Investors' Business Daily Chicago's Cardinal warns of Obamacare Gulag
The ex-head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops compares the administration take on freedom of worship to the Soviet Union's and says its contraceptive mandate will force church hospitals to close.
Cardinal George essentially rejected the administration position that you can have freedom of conscience as long as you don't act on it and that Catholics can run hospitals believing what they want as long as they don't act on those beliefs.
Cardinal George responded that what Catholics and others do is what they believe and the two cannot be separated.
"Freedom of worship was guaranteed in the constitution of the former Soviet Union," Cardinal George wrote in a column in the Catholic New World. "You could go to church, if you could find one. The church, however, could do nothing except conduct religious rites in places of worship — no schools, religious publications, health care institutions, organized charity, ministry for justice and works of mercy that flow naturally from a living faith. We fought a long Cold War to defeat that vision of society."
Francis Cardinal George publishes his letter to parishioners
Why does a governmental administrative decision now mean the end of institutions that have been built up over several generations from small donations, often from immigrants, and through the services of religious women and men and others who wanted to be part of the church’s mission in healing and education? Catholic hospitals, universities and social services have an institutional conscience, a conscience shaped by Catholic moral and social teaching. The HHS regulations now before our society will make it impossible for Catholic institutions to follow their conscience.
What will happen if the HHS regulations are not rescinded? A Catholic institution, so far as I can see right now, will have one of four choices: 1) secularize itself, breaking its connection to the church, her moral and social teachings and the oversight of its ministry by the local bishop. This is a form of theft. It means the church will not be permitted to have an institutional voice in public life. 2) Pay exorbitant annual fines to avoid paying for insurance policies that cover abortifacient drugs, artificial contraception and sterilization. This is not economically sustainable. 3) Sell the institution to a non-Catholic group or to a local government. 4) Close down.
The strangest accusation in this manipulated public discussion has the bishops not respecting the separation between church and state. The bishops would love to have the separation between church and state we thought we enjoyed just a few months ago, when we were free to run Catholic institutions in conformity with the demands of the Catholic faith, when the government couldn’t tell us which of our ministries are Catholic and which not, when the law protected rather than crushed conscience. The state is making itself into a church. The bishops didn’t begin this dismaying conflict nor choose its timing. We would love to have it ended as quickly as possible. It’s up to the government to stop the attack.
The Catholic Church has perhaps the most extensive private health-care delivery system in the nation. It operates 12.6 percent of hospitals in the U.S., according to the Catholic Health Association of the U.S., accounting for 15.6 percent of all admissions and 14.5 percent of all hospital expenses, a total for Catholic hospitals in 2010 of $98.6 billion. Whom do these hospitals serve? Catholic hospitals handle more than their share of Medicare (16.6 percent) and Medicaid (13.65) discharges, meaning that more than one in six seniors and disabled patients get attention from these hospitals, and more than one in every eight low-income patients as well. Almost a third (32 percent) of these hospitals are located in rural areas, where patients usually have few other options for care.
Imagine the impact if these hospitals shut down, discounting the other 400-plus health centers and 1,500 specialized homes that the Catholic Church operates as part of its mission that would also disappear.
Then there's the schools.
The Catholic Church runs over 7500 primary and secondary education schools in the US (where over a third of students are non-Catholics), educating more than 2.5 million students. Thanks to a near-blanket moratorium on vouchers, taxpayer money doesn’t get used in teaching these students in a system that has a 99% graduation rate and a 97% success rate at placing students in college. Based on an average student cost of $8000 in public schools, Catholic schools save taxpayers about $20 billion dollars a year.
And the charities
In 2003, the latest data available, they provided emergency food services to 6.5 million people, temporary shelter to over 200,000 people, and a range of other assistance to another 1.5 million people, including assistance in clothing, finances, utilities, and even medication. Those efforts would disappear overnight, along with schools and hospitals.
This has gone viral over the net and I don't where it started. I found it at Maggie's Farm
The food stamp program, part of the Department of Agriculture, has announced that is pleased to be distributing the greatest amount of food stamps ever.
Meanwhile, the National Park Service, also part of the Department of Agriculture, asks us to "Please Do Not Feed the Animals" because the animals may grow dependent and not learn to take care of themselves.
It's funny and true except for the part about the National Park Service being part of the Department of Agriculture. It's not. It's part of the Department of the Interior. But yes, the indeed, the NPS tells that to all park visitors.
It reminded me of Vodkapundit's comment to the chart below which shows that you can do as well working one week a month at minimum wage as you can working a $60,000 -a-year, full-time, high-stress job. The chart originated with Wyatt Emerich of the Cleveland Current and then picked up by Zero Hedge which verified all the numbers.
Stephen Green, the Vodkapundit, commented, "The safety net is becoming a barcalounger. Who’s got the remote?"
Seems to me that we do very well for the poor and very poorly for the middle class who work and pay taxes. A society built on such perverse incentives and unsustainable entitlements can not last.
Father Barron on the HHS mandate. Clear, calm and considered as always.
Added bonus Where are the women?
Bonus No. 2 Soft tyranny via Maggie's Farm
..."taking each individual by turns in its powerful hands and kneading him as it likes, the sovereign extends its arms over society as a whole; it covers its surface with a network of small, complicated, painstaking, uniform rules through which the most original minds and the most vigorous souls cannot clear a way to surpass the crowd; it does not break wills, but it softens them, bends them and directs them; it rarely forces one to act, but it constantly opposes itself to one's acting; it does not destroy, it prevents things from being born; it does not tyrannize, it hinders, compromises, enervates, extinguishes, dazes and finally reduces each nation to being nothing more than a herd of timid and industrial animals of which the government is the shepherd."
Alexis de Toqueville,
The Audacity of Power: President Obama Vs. The Catholic Church by Charles Kadlec in Forbes via The Anchoress
In one of the boldest, most audacious moves ever made by a President of the United States, President Barack Obama is on the brink of successfully rendering moot the very first clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” (emphasis added). If he forces the Catholic Church to comply with the Health and Human Services ruling to provide its employees with insurance that covers activities the Church has long held sinful — abortion via the morning after pill, sterilization and contraceptives — then the precedent is clear: when religious beliefs conflict with government decrees, religion must yield.
Before our very eyes, President Obama is on the verge of establishing the principle that the right to religious freedom comes not from our Creator, but from those who rule us. A government endowed right granted to women now trumps our unalienable right to act in accordance with our religious beliefs and conscience. Not only does this overturn the First Amendment, it also tramples the nation’s founding principles as announced in the Declaration of Independence. Such an achievement would be the true audacity of power.
The fundamental question is whether the Catholic Church, and by extension, individual Americans have to engage in activities according to the rulings of this and future Presidents, or are we free to live our lives as we choose as long as we do not harm another. Are we free to engage in long standing religious practices that have never before been deemed unlawful, or has the federal government established a de facto state “religion” that it is prepared to enforce through the full coercive power of its financial resources and the imposition of financial penalties.
I am not a Catholic, nor do I believe in the Church’s opposition to contraception. But I pray that the leadership of the Catholic Church will have the faith and courage to stand for its core beliefs and use all of its moral power and political influence to defeat the President’s edict. I pray they will reach out across the political spectrum to people of all faiths, agnostics and atheists in the name of religious freedom and individual liberty
Paul Ryan on Meet the Press
“What we’re getting from the White House on this conscience issue, it’s not an issue about contraception, it’s an issue that reveals a political philosophy the president is showing that basically treats our constitutional rights as if they were revocable privileges from our government, not inalienable rights from our creator,”
Religious employers are asserting rights of conscience and free exercise of religion grounded in the First Amendment, arguably the single-most important constitutional provision protecting individual liberty from state power. Competing against this 200-year-old foundational legal principle is . . . an executive branch regulation (not even a statute) establishing a “right” that has never before existed in the history of the Republic — a “right to contraception coverage at no additional cost”
David Warren, a Canadian, in Matters of Conscience
Americans do not yet fully realize that ObamaCare is a "work in progress." What they see now is only the thin end of the wedge, and the current controversial HHS Mandate is modest compared to what will arise farther down the road.
A "Preventive Services Task Force" has been empowered to "prioritize" (thus effectively decide) everything to be covered by private health insurance - and with perfect Kafkaesque serenity, for it makes all decisions behind closed doors, need not announce decisions in draft, and is under no obligation to consider any external suggestions. Its decisions cannot be directly appealed, and it cannot be sued for the consequences of them.
If the Americans fail to repeal ObamaCare, they will soon learn it was a stalking horse for the full "socialization" of their health-care system.
Obama Deceives Catholics on Compromise, J. Christian Adams
Give the Obama administration their due, they sure are great deceivers. In an effort to escape the firestorm engulfing them because of the ObamaCare mandate that forces churches to violate their theology, the president announced a “compromise” on February 10. The details of this compromise demonstrate that President Obama simply cannot be believed.
First, nothing was changed from the original rule. The Department of Health and Human Services, Friday night, hours after Obama’s big “compromise,” issued the final regulation in exact form as the regulation first issued in August 2011 “without changes.” Church-affiliated entities, such as Catholic hospitals, were still not exempted in the issued final regulation.
This is also a fight much larger than “culture.” Culture is something that defines art and common belief. Culture is something that changes with the times and can actually be defined as you wish. Much of our culture today is not what it was 50, 100, or 200 years ago.
For the media to call this a “culture war” greatly diminishes its value, this is a battle over the First amendment of the US Constitution. Obama wants the Constitution circumvented to pander to his base, I would hope that most of us would be united with the Catholic Church in wanting it protected.
This week, two non-Catholic Christian colleges are proving that Obama-Care's contraception-sterilization requirement isn't just a Catholic concern. They are suing for their religious freedoms, too.
The two schools argue that the "compromise" President Obama announced earlier this month, forcing insurers themselves instead of religious institutions to provide the controversial services — and for free — "is entirely fictitious."
Today it is contraception and the morning-after pill. Tomorrow it will be kosher slaughter, or matrilineal descent, or circumcision, or other matters of existential importance to Jewish observance. If the Obama administration gets away with forcing Catholic institutions to step across lines of life and death in the name of “health,” the federal government will have a precedent to legislate Judaism out of existence — as several other countries have already tried to do.
Open the door to “scientific” determination of matters of life and death, and America’s Orthodox Jews — a minority within a minority — will be vulnerable to a new Inquisition. On this issue, there can be no compromise. Agudath Israel is right: Jews should stand by the right of the Catholic Church to determine what is acceptable by its standards, just as we one day will ask the Catholic Church to stand by our right to determine what is acceptable by our standards. To its credit, Britain’s Catholic Church stood by us in 2009 when the English courts shamefully and wrongly ruled that our most basic religious criteria were “racist.” Shamefully and wrongfully, some Jews have failed to stand by the Church under the Obama administration’s persecution. I appeal to these Jews: Don’t be naive. We’re next.
Some argue that if was the Catholic vote that gave Obama his victory in 2008, If that is true, I am even more surprised at the Administration's decision to battle the Catholic Church. Politically, it's a dumb-headed move surpassing even the decision against the Keystone pipeline. In a completely unnecessary battle, Obama has managed to unite the Catholic left against him as William McGurn points out.
In a post for the left-leaning National Catholic Reporter, Michael Sean Winters minces few words. Under the headline "J'ACCUSE," he rightly takes the president to the woodshed for the politics of the decision, for the substance, and for how "shamefully" it treats "those Catholics who went out on a limb" for him.
The message Mr. Obama is sending, says Mr. Winters, is "that there is no room in this great country of ours for the institutions our Church has built over the years to be Catholic in ways that are important to us."
Catholic liberals ...understand that if left to stand, this ruling threatens the religious institutions closest to their hearts—those serving Americans in need, such as hospitals, soup kitchens and immigrant services.
Obama plays his Catholic allies for fools in his radical power grab on health care writes Michael Gerson
Catholic leaders are still trying to process the implications of this ambushThe president had every opportunity to back down from confrontation. In the recent Hosanna-Tabor ruling, a unanimous Supreme Court reaffirmed a broad religious autonomy right rooted in the Constitution. Obama could have taken the decision as justification for retreat.
There would have been no controversy at all if President Obama had simply exempted religious institutions and ministries. But the administration insisted that the University of Notre Dame and St. Mary’s Hospital be forced to pay for the privilege of violating their convictions.
Obama chose to substantially burden a religious belief, by the most intrusive means, for a less-than-compelling state purpose — a marginal increase in access to contraceptives that are easily available elsewhere. The religious exemption granted by Obamacare is narrower than anywhere else in federal law — essentially covering the delivery of homilies and the distribution of sacraments. Serving the poor and healing the sick are regarded as secular pursuits — a determination that would have surprised Christianity’s founder.
the astounding ambition of this federal precedent will soon be apparent to every religious institution. Obama is claiming the executive authority to determine which missions of believers are religious and which are not — and then to aggressively regulate institutions the government declares to be secular. It is a view of religious liberty so narrow and privatized that it barely covers the space between a believer’s ears.
“We cannot and will not comply with this unjust decree. Like the martyrs of old, we must be prepared to accept suffering, which could include heavy fines and imprisonment,”...Our American religious liberty is in grave jeopardy,”...“This means that all of our Catholic schools, hospitals, social-service agencies and the like will be forced to participate in evil,” ...
Another bishop, Bishop Zubik of Pittsburgh said
“The Obama administration has just told the Catholics of the United States, ‘To Hell with you!’” the bishop said in a column posted on his diocesan website. “There is no other way to put it.”
It is really hard to believe that it happened. It comes like a slap in the face,”
Let’s be blunt,” said Bishop Zubik. “This whole process of mandating these guidelines undermines the democratic process itself. In this instance, the mandate declares pregnancy a disease, forces a culture of contraception and abortion on society, all while completely bypassing the legislative process.
“This is government by fiat that attacks the rights of everyone--not only Catholics; not only people of all religion,” said the bishop. “At no other time in memory or history has there been such a governmental intrusion on freedom not only with regard to religion, but even across-the-board with all citizens.”
Yuval Levin in Religious Liberty and Civil Society
The particulars of what the Obamacare insurance mandate rule does, and the unwillingness of the administration to exempt religious employers, are just stunning. Religious institutions are basically going to be fined for holding views regarding contraception, sterilization, and abortion that are different from the Obama administration’s views. For instance, Notre Dame University, which employs more than 5,000 people, is going to be given the choice of either expressly violating its religious convictions or paying a $10 million fine to the federal government. It’s bad enough that any employer with a moral objection has to spend his money this way, but it is especially egregious to compel religious institutions to do so.
what is at issue in the controversy over the administration’s rule is not just the question of religious liberty but the question of non-governmental institutions in a free society.
Does civil society consist of a set of institutions that help the government achieve its purposes as it defines them when their doing so might be more efficient or convenient than the state’s doing so itself, or does civil society consist of an assortment of efforts by citizens to band together in pursuit of mutual aims and goods as they understand them? Is it an extension of the state or of the community? In this arena, as in a great many others, the administration is clearly determined to see civil society as merely an extension of the state, and to clear out civil society—clearing out the mediating layers between the individual and the state—when it seems to stand in the way of achieving the president’s agenda.
From the outset, the administration sought to camouflage the mandate’s radical assault on conscience by inserting an exemption for “religious employers” who objected to paying for contraception and abortion. It is a pitifully small fig leaf, however.
An organization cannot qualify if it has a “non-religious” aim (such as caring for the sick or feeding the hungry), or if it hires or serves persons of different faiths. In other words, the administration has managed to legislate a grotesque inversion of the parable of the Good Samaritan: A religious group loses the protection of the law precisely because it reaches across boundaries to help the outsider.
The Obamacare regulation gives faith-based institutions, like Catholic universities and hospitals, the choice of violating the fundamental tenets of their faith by covering the federally mandated coverage in their employee health plans, or of dropping health insurance for their employees — in which case they would be fined for violating the employer mandate.
This is an outrage...
here is a war on religion from the Left, and it is very dangerous to the institutions that make our civil society function.
The Catholic Church historically has been a vital part of the safety net — providing aid for the poor, care for the sick, shelter and food for the homeless, and care for mothers in need, as a few examples.
The health-care law threatens to tear gaping holes in that safety net by forcing Catholic health plans to cover contraception, by denying funds to Catholic adoption agencies, and ultimately by forcing taxpayers — including Catholics — to fund abortion.
This is dangerous to the very fabric of our society. It’s a crucial reason why the whole health law, with its centralized control over health-care decisions, must not stand.
" A Foul Ball, By Any Standard" U.S. Bishops vow to fight this edict.
Unconscionable to force citizens to buy contraceptives against their will.
The HHS rule requires that sterilization and contraception – including controversial abortifacients – be included among “preventive services” coverage in almost every healthcare plan available to Americans. “The government should not force Americans to act as if pregnancy is a disease to be prevented at all costs,” added Cardinal-designate Dolan.
The cardinal-designate continued, “To force American citizens to choose between violating their consciences and forgoing their healthcare is literally unconscionable. It is as much an attack on access to health care as on religious freedom. Historically this represents a challenge and a compromise of our religious liberty."
The HHS rule requires that sterilization and contraception – including controversial abortifacients – be included among “preventive services” coverage in almost every healthcare plan available to Americans. “The government should not force Americans to act as if pregnancy is a disease to be prevented at all costs,” added Cardinal-designate Dolan.
“Almost every employer and insurer in the country to provide sterilization and contraceptives, including some abortion-inducing drugs, in their health plans… Never before has the federal government forced individuals and organizations to go out into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience. This shouldn’t happen in a land where free exercise of religion ranks first in the Bill of Rights.”
Beginning August 1, 2012 (less than eight months from today), the insurance premiums we pay, including the insurance premiums paid by Catholics for employees of churches and schools -- will be used to cover drugs and procedures that are in direct conflict with the teachings of our Church.
That's right. Our government will now force us to pay for insurance coverage for birth control, sterilization and even some abortion drugs.
Abortion-rights groups immediately applauded the decision.
"Birth control is not just basic health care for women, it is an economic concern," Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement. "This common sense decision means that millions of women, who would otherwise pay $15 to $50 a month, will have access to affordable birth control, helping them save hundreds of dollars each year."
Was it for this that President Obama cut $500 billion from Medicare? Why are contraceptives and abortifacients 'privileged' as opposed to every other drug, like statins for instance?
As you might recall, it was primarily orthodox Catholics and conservative Evangelicals who kept saying during the last presidential campaign that then-Sen. Obama's record revealed a man with an unswerving, ideological obsession with making access to contraceptives and abortion available to just about anyone, anytime, anywhere—and on the taxpayers' dime. Yet it is those very folks who are continually painted as the extremists and the rigid zealots, blinded by their religious faith. But, really, who are the extremists and zealots here? How much physical, familial, cultural, social, and spiritual damage must take place before the scales fall from the eyes of those who want a drug for every problem, an excuse for every sin, and the government's heavy hand at every turn in the road of life?
Just last week Pope Benedict XIV spoke to the American bishops in Rome on their "ad-limina" visit about the alarming state of religious freedom in America. What the bishops told him.
Robert Samuelson calls President Obama's rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico 'an act of national insanity"
Now consider how Obama's decision hurts the United States. For starters, it insults and antagonizes a strong ally; getting future Canadian cooperation on other issues will be harder.
Next, it threatens a large source of relatively secure oil that, combined with new discoveries in the U.S., could reduce (though not eliminate) our dependence on insecure foreign oil.
Finally, Obama's decision forgoes all the project's jobs. There's some dispute over the magnitude. Project sponsor TransCanada claims 20,000, split between construction (13,000) and manufacturing (7,000) of everything from pumps to control equipment.
Apparently, this refers to "job years," meaning one job for one year. If so, the actual number of jobs would be about half that spread over two years. Whatever the figure, it's in the thousands and important in a country hungering for work. And Keystone XL is precisely the sort of infrastructure project that Obama claims to favor.
The big winners are the Chinese.
The Washington Post editorializes Obama’s Keystone pipeline rejection is hard to accept
We almost hope this was a political call because, on the substance, there should be no question. Without the pipeline, Canada would still export its bitumen—with long-term trends in the global market, it’s far too valuable to keep in the ground—but it would go to China. And, as a State Department report found, U.S. refineries would still import low-quality crude—just from the Middle East. Stopping the pipeline, then, wouldn’t do anything to reduce global warming, but it would almost certainly require more oil to be transported across oceans in tankers.
The environmental impact of the Keystone pipeline has been studied for three years, yet the President said the Republicans were rushing him into a decision within 60 days and that wasn't enough time. Charlotte Hays points out that when it came to showering the politically-connected Solyndra with millions of taxpayer dollars, the Administration couldn't move fast enough.
When it came to TARP and Obamacare, the Administration's urgency was so great, congressmen and senators weren't given time to even read the bills before they were voted on.
Leave it to Walter Russell Mead for the best article on why Green Tech Plus Red Tape Yields No Hope
Where better to set up solar panels than California’s Death Valley? The sun’s always shining and from May to September the temperature doesn’t stray much below a whopping 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Yet even in Death Valley government-funded solar projects are floundering. The L.A. Times has the story:
According to the article, the solar panels in Death Valley have been unplugged for at least two-and-a-half years due to the various agencies tripping over one another.
And in the meantime, one has to wonder: if the wrangling, process crazed bureaucrats wrestling with the conflicting, nonsensical regulations and requirements issued by various state, local and federal bureaucracies can’t work out reasonable solutions to the relatively simple question involved in a no-brain solar installation in the desert, what chance is there that these same bureaucracies will redesign the American energy grid and take us to the low carbon utopia that always seems just out of reach?
David Pryce-Jones reveals unknown health risks that is shutting down music in the EU
At which timely moment, the Daily Mail reports a special contribution of the Brussels bureaucracy: Musicians may no longer be allowed to play instruments whose strings are made of the traditional cow gut. The prohibition was apparently brought in a decade ago; there were dispensations, but these are not being renewed.
Oh, how they care for our well-being! They’ve spotted a health risk. Nobody has ever caught mad-cow disease from a stringed instrument, but you never know, they just might. Not long ago, these bureaucrats put a similar ban on organ pipes. Nobody in a thousand years has been ill from the lead content of organ pipes, but again they might have been. Never mind that we shall never be able to hear the music of Bach as he heard it.
Here's what the Daily Mail said: Bach-ing mad: EU could ban orchestras from using cow gut for strings
They are lauded as some of the greatest works of European culture.
But even compositions by the likes of Bach, Vivaldi and Purcell aren’t safe from the Brussels busybodies.
Performers warn it may soon be impossible to play such music as the composers intended it to be heard because of EU rules restricting the manufacture of traditional cow gut instrument strings.
Campaigners say that to catch mad cow disease, or Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, from strings from an infected animal, you would need to swallow several yards of them.
Carolyn Clarke, of manufacturer Bow Brand, of King’s Lynn, Norfolk, said: ‘The gut is bleached and varnished in string making so it poses no risk to humans.
‘And why would anyone chew on a harp string?’
Violinist Viktoria Mullova, who has a 1750 Guadagnini violin with gut strings, said banning such strings ‘would be like telling pop stars they couldn’t use microphones’.
American Optimism by Elizabeth Scalia
Last week Mark Steyn wrote, “America is seizing up before our eyes,” and that is a spot-on image. She is like a brilliantly conceived machine that, poorly maintained for more years than any of us cares to admit, has gone too long untuned; the oil of her invention has thinned out and broken down and now bit-by-bit, gear-by-gear—economically, socially, spiritually—she is making an ungodly noise and grinding to a halt.
There are probably ten thousand articles to be found on the Internet all fleshing out their theories of what is behind America’s swift collapse. Curiously, most of them will touch—all without realizing it—on the seven deadly sins; Capitalist Greed; Spiritual Sloth; Physical Lust; Nationalist/Military Pride; Consumer Gluttony; Partisan Wrath; Class Envy. Good arguments can be made blaming some are all of these sins for our current dire straits and for the sense that we are standing upon a precipice.
Here is the article Elizabeth referenced: Mark Steyn, Occupiers part of grand alliance against the productive
At first glance, an alliance of anarchists and government might appear to be somewhat paradoxical. But the formal convergence in Oakland makes explicit the movement's aims: They're anarchists for statism, wild free-spirited youth demanding more and more total government control of every aspect of life – just so long as it respects the fundamental human right to sloth. What's happening in Oakland is a logical exercise in class solidarity: the government class enthusiastically backing the breakdown of civil order is making common cause with the leisured varsity class, the thuggish union class and the criminal class in order to stick it to what's left of the beleaguered productive class. It's a grand alliance of all those societal interests that wish to enjoy in perpetuity a lifestyle they are not willing to earn. Only the criminal class is reasonably upfront about this. The rest – the lifetime legislators, the unions defending lavish and unsustainable benefits, the "scholars" whiling away a somnolent half-decade at Complacency U – are obliged to dress it up a little with some hooey about "social justice" and whatnot.
America is seizing up before our eyes: The decrepit airports, the underwater property market, the education racket, the hyper-regulated business environment. Yet, curiously, the best example of this sclerosis is the alleged "revolutionary" movement itself. It's the voice of youth, yet everything about it is cobwebbed
Peggy Noonan likes Paul Ryan as much as I do and writes much better, The Divider vs. The Thinker.
Mr. Ryan receives much praise, but I don't think his role in the current moment has been fully recognized. He is doing something unique in national politics. He thinks. He studies. He reads. Then he comes forward to speak, calmly and at some length, about what he believes to be true. He defines a problem and offers solutions, often providing the intellectual and philosophical rationale behind them. Conservatives naturally like him—they agree with him—but liberals and journalists inclined to disagree with him take him seriously and treat him with respect.
This week in a major speech entitled Saving the American Idea: Rejecting Fear, Envy and the Politics of Division , he attacked corporate welfare and crony capitalism
"Why have we extended an endless supply of taxpayer credit to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, instead of demanding that their government guarantee be wound down and their taxpayer subsidies ended?" Why are tax dollars being wasted on bankrupt, politically connected solar energy firms like Solyndra? "Why is Washington wasting your money on entrenched agribusiness?"
Rather than raise taxes on individuals, we should "lower the amount of government spending the wealthy now receive." The "true sources of inequity in this country," he continued, are policies "that enriches the powerful, and empty promises that betray the powerless." The real class warfare that threatens us is "a class of bureaucrats and connected crony capitalists trying to rise above the rest of us, call the shots, rig the rules, and preserve their place atop society."
Most of the country knows this. Angelo Codevilla in his essay last year, America's Ruling Class and the Perils of Revolution was prophetic.
Who are these rulers, and by what right do they rule? How did America change from a place where people could expect to live without bowing to privileged classes to one in which, at best, they might have the chance to climb into them? What sets our ruling class apart from the rest of us?
Its attitude is key to understanding our bipartisan ruling class. Its first tenet is that "we" are the best and brightest while the rest of Americans are retrograde, racist, and dysfunctional unless properly constrained. How did this replace the Founding generation's paradigm that "all men are created equal"?
Justice Scalia reminds us what makes the United States different from other countries
Why do you think America is such a free country? What is it in our Constitution that makes us what we are?” And I guarantee you that the response I will get — and you will get this from almost any American *** the answer would be: freedom of speech; freedom of the press; no unreasonable searches and seizures; no quartering of troops in homes… those marvelous provisions of the Bill of Rights.
the real key to the distinctiveness of America is the structure of our government. One part of it, of course, is the independence of the judiciary, but there’s a lot more.
There are very few countries in the world, for example, that have a bicameral legislature...very few countries have two separate bodies in the legislature equally powerful. That’s a lot of trouble, as you gentlemen doubtless know, to get the same language through two different bodies elected in a different fashion.
Very few countries in the world have a separately elected chief executive.
“Ach, it is gridlock.” I hear Americans saying this nowadays, and there’s a lot of it going around. They talk about a disfunctional government because there’s disagreement… and the Framers would have said, “Yes! That’s exactly the way we set it up. We wanted this to be power contradicting power because the main ill besetting us — as Hamilton said in The Federalist when he talked about a separate Senate: “Yes, it seems inconvenient, inasmuch as the main ill that besets us is an excess of legislation, it won’t be so bad.” This is 1787; he didn’t know what an excess of legislation was.
Unless Americans can appreciate that and learn to love the separation of powers, which means learning to love the gridlock which the Framers believed would be the main protector of minorities, [we lose] the main protection. If a bill is about to pass that really comes down hard on some minority [and] they think it’s terribly unfair, it doesn’t take much to throw a monkey wrench into this complex system. Americans should appreciate that; they should learn to love the gridlock. It’s there so the legislation that does get out is good legislation.
Fast and Furious is a scandal I can't keep up with, but now, according to Michael Walsh in the NYPost, there is A 'Furious' revelation . I agree that a special prosecutor is now needed. This is far worse than Watergate.
This just might be the smoking gun we’ve been waiting for to break the festering “Fast and Furious” gun-running scandal wide open: the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives apparently ordered one of its own agents to purchase firearms with taxpayer money, and sell them directly to a Mexican drug cartel.
Let that sink in: After months of pretending that “Fast and Furious” was a botched surveillance operation of illegal gun-running spearheaded by the ATF and the US attorney’s office in Phoenix, it turns out that the government itself was selling guns to the bad guys.
People were killed with Fast and Furious weapons, including at least two American agents and hundreds of Mexicans. And the taxpayers picked up the bill.
So where’s the outrage?
There’s none from the feds. Attorney General Eric Holder has consistently stonewalled Rep. Darrell Issa, Sen. Chuck Grassley and other congressional investigators.
Further, we now know that a host of federal agencies (including the ATF, the FBI and IRS, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Drug Enforcement Administration and, very probably, top officials at the Department of Homeland Security) were all in the loop at various levels, as was the White House.
Where are the Woodward and Bernsteins of today? At Pajamas Media, MSM Sheep: Ignoring the Scandal of the Century
I don’t wish to understate it: elements of the U.S. Departments of Justice, State, Homeland Security, and Treasury are responsible for supplying an arsenal to narco-terrorists waging a civil war against an American ally. Our federal government may bear responsibility for at least 200 murders committed with “walked” firearms, in what Mexican Attorney General Marisela Morales describes as a “betrayal” of her country by the Obama administration.
This is objectively the most important political and legal story in America right now.
Instead, both the New York Times and Washington Post have responded to Gunwalker with attempted character assassinations of Congressman Darrell Issa, the lead investigator.
The Post ran a desperate hit piece on Issa, a story turned down by at least two other news organizations and left-wing blog Talking Points Memo for being too thinly sourced. They gave the byline to a reporter returning from a plagiarism suspension.
After that failed to stop Issa, the New York Times produced a hit piece so rife with errors that it amounted to fiction.
Among the MSM, only Richard Serrano of the Los Angeles Times, Sharyl Attkisson of CBS News, and William Lajeunesse of Fox News have faithfully reported on the story.