Sunday, March 22, 2015

Greece struggles to get citizens to pay their taxes
ATHENS—Of all the challenges Greece has faced in recent years, prodding its citizens to pay their taxes has been one of the most difficult.

At the end of 2014, Greeks owed their government about €76 billion ($86 billion) in unpaid taxes accrued over decades; the government says only €9 billion of that can be recovered, with most of the rest lost to insolvency.

Billions more in taxes are owed on never-reported revenue from Greece’s vast underground economy, which was estimated before the crisis to equal more than a quarter of the country’s gross domestic product....

...Tax rates in Greece are broadly in line with those elsewhere in Europe. But Greeks have a widespread aversion to paying what they owe the state, an attitude often blamed on a combination of cultural and historical forces. During the country’s centuries-long occupation by the Ottomans, avoiding taxes was a sign of patriotism. Today, that distrust is focused on the government, which many Greeks see as corrupt, inefficient and unreliable.

“Greeks consider taxes as theft,” said Aristides Hatzis, an associate professor of law and economics at the University of Athens. “Normally taxes are considered the price you have to pay for a just state, but this is not accepted by the Greek mentality.”
'Net neutrality' rules discard bipartisan light-touch regulatory framework.
...The ultimate result of more government encroachment will be something akin to the sagging European Internet market, where investment in broadband infrastructure is only one-fourth of America's due to heavy-handed regulations. Even worse, this new power grab could trigger expanded intergovernmental powers over the Web through existing telecom treaties, jeopardizing Internet freedom.

What many in Silicon Valley don't understand is that, according to the Supreme Court's 2005 Brand X decision, nearly any "tech" company that builds a telecom-style network to deliver its content and apps has the potential to be captured by the FCC's new rules. If the agency tries to exempt some companies but not others, it will be choosing the politically favored over everyone else....
Foreign governments gave millions to foundation while Clinton was at State Dept.
...The agreement, reached before Clinton’s nomination amid concerns that countries could use foundation donations to gain favor with a Clinton-led State Department, allowed governments that had previously donated money to continue making contributions at similar levels.

The new disclosures, provided in response to questions from The Washington Post, make clear that the 2008 agreement did not prohibit foreign countries with interests before the U.S. government from giving money to the charity closely linked to the secretary of state.

In one instance, foundation officials acknowledged they should have sought approval in 2010 from the State Department ethics office, as required by the agreement for new government donors, before accepting a $500,000 donation from the Algerian government.

The money was given to assist with earthquake relief in Haiti, the foundation said. At the time, Algeria, which has sought a closer relationship with Washington, was spending heavily to lobby the State Department on human rights issues....
"Chilling comment on Adam Liptak's NYT piece on the South Carolina employment benefits lawyer who focused attention the statutory text that might wreck Obamacare."
...There's only that one pushback comment from NYHuguenot — which itself goes too far — and it only arrived 11 hours after Cold's chilling remark, which has 11 thumbs up. I read Cold's comment in the middle of the night and hit the "flag" icon but I couldn't bring myself to check any of the options. "Inflammatory" and "Personal Attack" seemed closest but not precisely apt. I decided to blog about it here instead. It's evil to waft the suggestion of a violent attack. It might influence someone, though it's certainly not an imminent enough incitement to support arresting Cold. It's evil, but it's also ludicrous for Cold to project her political will — her desire to preserve the legislation — onto the seriously ill, as if they'll use their waning hours on earth to go out on an attack — they've got nothing to lose — and they'll fixate on some lawyer who noticed something in a 900-page statute that was so terribly important and yet so miserably unread.

Lawless: Treasury throws unauthorized $3 billion to insurers under Obamacare, won’t say why
It’s right there in the Constitution: “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.”

Which is why this latest episode of lawlessness from the administration is so particularly galling. “The U.S. Treasury Department has rebuffed a request by House Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R- Wis., to explain $3 billion in payments that were made to health insurers even though Congress never authorized the spending through annual appropriations,” The Washington Examiner’s Philp Klein reported on Thursday.

That’s right. The payments insurers receive, dubbed “cost –sharing subsidies,” are designed to offset the costs incurred when they pick up the out-of-pocket expenses for low-income individuals covered by Affordable Care Act plans. If insurers had to cover these costs themselves, Obamacare would be infeasible. So, the federal government picks up the tab for the newly insured as they go about receiving “free” health care.

There’s just one tiny, unconstitutional problem: Congress never authorized the distribution of those funds. “[B]ut the Department of Health and Human Services, with the cooperation of the U.S. Treasury, made them anyway,” Klein reported....
New Zealander: Amnesty Is Obama’s Trump Card To Transform America
...Citing a speech in 2010 by White House consultant and radical leftist, Eliseo Medina, Loudon implores Americans to wake up before it is too late in this video interview. He says, with Mitt Romney losing to Obama in 2012 by 2 and ½ million votes, if Obama can succeed in legalizing “10, 15 or 20 million more votes, almost all of whom will vote Democrat,” Obama can lock in progressive electoral victories for the foreseeable future and “make it practically impossible for the Republicans to ever elect another president.”...
Feminist Reporter: Take Away White Men’s Guns
...“Suggestion: we don’t have to vaporize all the guns. Let’s just vaporize white men’s guns,” Grimes tweeted, linking to an article about Arizona shooter Ryan Giroux.

“White guys cannot be trusted to use guns responsibly. It is time to stop giving guns to white guys,” Grimes added. ”I mean, it’s time to stop giving guns to everybody, but we can start with the white guys.”...

AUDIO: Obama Admin Is ‘Going After’ Gun Dealers [VIDEO]
...Audio obtained by the US Consumer Coalition and provided to The Daily Caller presents the latest disturbing example of Choke Point’s overreach. The audio, presented above, captures a conversation between Alex Bacon, president of the ETF Network payment processor, and Brennan Appel, owner of the Global Hookah Distributors tobacco-products company.

Appel’s hookah company had its bank account shut down by Bank of America. Bacon, Appel’s payment processor, explained that Operation Choke Point unilaterally targets certain kinds of businesses and makes business owners’ lives “miserable.”

“Have you heard of a little thing called Choke Point? You know, and the CFPB?” Bacon asked Appel. ”They’re taking aim at industries like you and others to eliminate you from business by choking off your payment processing.”

“Well, they’re doing it by fiat. They’re doing it without a legislative process. They’re just doing it on a rather, you know, directed basis of their own free will,” Bacon said.

“They’re going after clinics, they’re going after collection agencies, they’re going after guns dealers, ammunition dealers, payment processors,” Bacon continued....
The Federal Housing Administration, the next housing crisis?
...When queried by members of the committee about the January 2015 premium reduction as well as the FHA's precarious financial status, Castro was at pains to provide even basic information about the current value of the FHA portfolio. He also refused to admit that the FHA was operating outside of the law, could not say when it would achieve the 2 percent capital reserve benchmark and repeatedly delivered a series of meaningless platitudes about the benefits of homeownership. Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) pointed out that the FHA has offered "pricing gimmicks" while lowering its credit standards, down payment requirements and premiums, which are tactics that have been criticized elsewhere as "predatory lending."

Ironically, on the same day that Castro testified, the FHA was once again included on the Government Accountability Office's High Risk List due to the agency's "substantial growth in its insurance portfolio and significant financial difficulties." The FHA has been on the list since 2009.

Historically, the FHA has controlled about 10 to 20 percent of the mortgage market. But after Congress increased the size of mortgages the agency could insure from $360,000 to $625,000, the FHA controlled about 60 percent of the low down-payment mortgage market from 2008 to 2010. That means the income eligible for FHA mortgage insurance went from the national average of about $64,000 to $110,000. Put another way, more than twice as many people can get FHA insurance than they could before the limit was raised.

At the same time that eligibility has exploded, FHA has faced serious solvency problems, culminating in a $1.7 billion bailout from the U.S. Treasury at the end of 2013. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that FHA insurance cost taxpayers $15 billion from 2009 to 2012. Nonetheless, the agency's website falsely claims it "is the only government agency that operates entirely from its self-generated income and costs the taxpayers nothing."

Even with all of the taxpayer money that has been thrown at the agency, the FHA is seriously undercapitalized. The law says FHA needs to keep 2 percent cash on hand, which would be about $18 to $20 billion, but as of the beginning of 2015, it had only less than half of 1 percent, or $4.7 billion....

Sunday, March 15, 2015

His Royal Glibness
...Every society has some people who don’t respect the law. But, when it is the people in charge of the law — like the President of the United States and his attorney general — who don’t respect it, that is when we are in big trouble.

Has anyone asked the question, “How could so many people across the country spend so much time at night marching, rioting, and looting, if they had to get up and go to work the next morning?”...
OPERATION CHOKE POINT UPDATE
...Related: Operation Choke Point closes another gun store’s bank account, except this time the owner recorded the credit union telling him why.

More: “Recordings of Shuetz’s conversations with the manager and a bank teller, which were published online by the U.S. Consumer Coalition, make it clear that the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) examined the credit union’s books and forced it to close Shuetz’s account — a move he blames on a Department of Justice initiative called Operation Choke Point.”...
Flashback 1989: UN Predicted Global Warming Would Destroy Entire Nations By 2000
...The San Jose Mercury News reported on June 30, 1989 that a “senior environmental official at the United Nations, Noel Brown, says entire nations could be wiped off the face of the earth by rising sea levels if global warming is not reversed by the year 2000.”

Brown, who was the director of the New York office of the U.N. Environment Program, warned that “[c]oastal flooding and crop failures would create an exodus of ‘eco-refugees,’ threatening political chaos.” Brown added that “governments have a 10-year window of opportunity to solve the greenhouse effect before it goes beyond human” ability to stop it....

Climate change’s instructive past
...In the Medieval Warm Period (MWP), from the end of the ninth century to the beginning of the 14th, the Northern Hemisphere was warmer than at any time in the past 8,000 years — for reasons concerning which there is no consensus. Warming increased the amount of arable land — there were vineyards in northern England — leading, Rosen says, to Europe’s “first sustained population increase since the fall of the Roman Empire.” The need for land on which to grow cereals drove deforestation. The MWP population explosion gave rise to towns, textile manufacturing and new wealthy classes.

Then, near the end of the MWP, came the severe winters of 1309-1312, when polar bears could walk from Greenland to Iceland on pack ice. In 1315 there was rain for perhaps 155 consecutive days, washing away topsoil. Upwards of half the arable land in much of Europe was gone; cannibalism arrived as parents ate children. Corpses hanging from gallows were devoured.

Human behavior did not cause this climate change. Instead, climate warming caused behavioral change (10 million mouths to feed became 30 million). Then climate cooling caused social changes (rebelliousness and bellicosity) that amplified the consequences of climate, a pattern repeated four centuries later.

In “Global Crisis: War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century,” Geoffrey Parker, a history professor at Ohio State University, explains how a “fatal synergy” between climatological and political factors produced turmoil from Europe to China. What he calls “the placenta of the crisis” of that century included the Little Ice Age (LIA), between the 1640s and the 1690s. Unusual weather, protracted enough to qualify as a change in climate, correlated so strongly with political upheavals as to constitute causation....

More Evidence Of Climate Data Tampering By NOAA?
When Dr. Roy Spencer looked up summer temperature data for the U.S. Corn Belt, it showed no warming trend for over a century. But that was before temperatures were “adjusted” by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration climate scientists. Now the same data shows a significant warming trend.

Spencer, a climate scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, said that the National Climatic Data Center made large adjustments to past summer temperatures for the U.S. Corn Belt, lowering past temperatures to make them cooler. Adjusting past temperatures downward creates a significant warming trend in the data that didn’t exist before.

“I was updating a U.S. Corn Belt summer temperature and precipitation dataset from the NCDC website, and all of a sudden the no-warming-trend-since-1900 turned into a significant warming trend,” Spencer wrote on his blog, adding that NCDC’s “adjustments” made the warming trend for the region increase from just 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit per century to 0.6 degrees per century....

...“But a variety of errors in data measurement and collection would typically have both positive and negative signs,” Spencer noted, adding that he corrects for such errors when calculating satellite temperature data even if they tend to cancel each other out.

“In contrast, the thermometer data apparently need to be adjusted in such a way that almost always leads to greater and greater warming trends,” he added....

Ooops. NASA now “38% sure” 2014 was warmest year on record
...The Nasa climate scientists who claimed 2014 set a new record for global warmth last night admitted they were only 38 per cent sure this was true…

The claim made headlines around the world, but yesterday it emerged that GISS’s analysis – based on readings from more than 3,000 measuring stations worldwide – is subject to a margin of error. Nasa admits this means it is far from certain that 2014 set a record at all.

Yet the Nasa press release failed to mention this, as well as the fact that the alleged ‘record’ amounted to an increase over 2010, the previous ‘warmest year’, of just two-hundredths of a degree – or 0.02C. The margin of error is said by scientists to be approximately 0.1C – several times as much....
Can we finally—finally!—be done with the Clintons?
...It’s easy to enforce the law on people who are inclined to be law-abiding, which means those of us in the middle, mainly: We have enough to lose that there’s a real cost to breaking the rules, but we don’t have so much that we can conduct our personal and professional lives as though we had sovereign immunity. The people in the middle cannot go about their ordinary business — working at a job, driving a car, renting or owning a home, traveling — without preemptively complying with all manner of government mandates. But millions of illegals can flout the law with impunity — and their well-off enablers in Washington can flout the law with impunity, too. When the law does not apply to the lawmakers and law-enforcers, you are not being governed: You are being ruled. And we are ruled by criminals.

If you treat IRS rules the way the IRS treats IRS rules, you go to prison; if you treat federal law the way the secretary of state does, you go to prison. If you treat immigration controls the way our immigration authorities do, you go to prison. If you’re as careless in your handling of firearms as the ATF is, you go to prison. You cook your business’s books the way the federal government cooks its books, you go to prison.

Hillary Clinton is not going to prison. She’s going to release whatever emails she feels like releasing and dare any of you peons or your elected representatives to try to make her do otherwise. You’ll take what she offers, and you’ll like it....

Bribes Disguised As Charitable Gifts: Hillary Clinton’s Possible Legal Trouble
...Other anti-corruption practitioners note that it’s a major red flag when you see a single, isolated charitable donation of the size that Algeria gave to the Clinton Foundation. Such investigators say the first thing you look for is whether the giver had any business before the government official, which clearly was the case with Algeria, which was lobbying at the time for more favorable foreign policy treatment.

If these facts were in the private sector, the Department of Justice would be all over the matter. The Clintons have had previous problems with raising funds from foreign entities seeking to influence domestic policy....

The World Fails to Follow Hillary’s Careful Script
...The Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation unveiled a big foofaraw over Hillary’s “No Ceilings” campaign. What a wonderfully convenient theme for Mrs. Clinton’s massive and mysterious foundation, given that smashing the “highest glass ceiling” — i.e., the presidency — is the central rationale of her planned presidential bid. It was just a coincidence that the tax-exempt foundation with her name on it happened to be rolling out a big light show on that very subject during the rollout of her presidential campaign....
Climate Change Is "My Religion and My Dharma."
Rajendra Pachauri, head of the the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) since 2002, has stepped down amidst a sexual harassment scandal. In his letter of resignation to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Pachauri declared:

"For me the protection of Planet Earth, the survival of all species and sustainability of our ecosystems is more than a mission. It is my religion and my dharma."

In Hinduism dharma is the path of righteousness....

What Would a Bad Job Look Like?
...Let us travel back to 2009. The individuals who would write the upcoming climate report hadn’t yet been selected (that didn’t happen until the following year). They hadn’t yet attended any IPCC meetings. Much of the research it would be their duty to evaluate hadn’t yet been published.

Nevertheless, the IPCC chairman knew – all those years in advance – what their conclusions would be. In September 2009, he told religious leaders in New York:

When the IPCC’s fifth assessment comes out in 2013 or 2014, there will be a major revival of interest in action that has to be taken. People are going to say, ‘My God, we are going to have to take action much faster than we had planned.’

Not only did Pachauri know the nature and direction of the IPCC report’s conclusions, he knew these conclusions would be alarming and dramatic.

This is not how a scientific body operates. This is the mark of a political organization, established to serve political ends....
Delayed divorce battle: Ecotricity founder Dale Vince's New Age traveller ex-wife wins cash fight
During the subsequent years they met up at Stonehenge, Glastonbury and elsewhere but eventually divorced in 1992. He was not required to pay maintenance because it was agreed he had no money.

But his experience of rigging up an old pylon into a wind-powered telephone at the Glastonbury Festival shortly afterwards paved the way for founding, in 1996 of his wind energy firm. It is now worth an estimated £57 million.

It was not until 2011 that Ms Wyatt lodged a claim for financial support, arguing that he had failed to provide for their son, and her daughter, whom he had effectively accepted into the family....

..."The case underlines how there is no limit on when someone can make a claim,” he said.

"It doesn't matter whether you divorce in your twenties and return with a claim when you're 80."...

Judge ‘Outraged’ At Man Ordered To Pay $30,000 For A Kid That’s Not His
...But Alexander says he was only first made aware of the false paternity claim during a 1991 traffic stop when the arresting officer told Alexander he was a “deadbeat dad.”

That came as a shock to Alexander, who knew he was not the father of anyone’s child.

Alexander’s case was bungled even further when a court document process server falsified a document showing that he refused to sign a court summons pertaining to the child support case. But Alexander was in jail at the time the document was served. (RELATED: Man Ordered To Pay Back $30,000 For Kid That Isn’t His, Or Else)

Since then, Alexander’s ex-girlfriend has admitted she lied on the welfare form in order to get benefits. And besides the DNA test, the actual father of the boy is in his life....

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Whistleblower: Pelosi Covered Up Role In Crisis
...In 2009, then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appointed her California pal Phil Angelides, a long-time Democrat operative, to lead the commission. The fix seemed to be in, and Wallison's account of the inner workings of the 10-member body confirms it. Here's what took place during the FCIC's 18-month, $10 million probe:

• Angelides provided no staff to help Wallison and other Republicans interview witnesses, conduct research or draft the report. But commission Democrats were assigned almost 80 staffers to help formulate their single theory that bank risk-taking and greed unleashed by deregulation caused the crisis.

• Angelides never notified Wallison or other commissioners about the hundreds of witnesses he called to testify in closed-door interviews with his staff, denying them the chance to cross-examine the witnesses.

• Staffers failed to put these private witnesses under oath, even though the final report was based almost exclusively on their testimony with little or no documents or data to back up their statements, which simply validated the Democrat narrative.

• Angelides buried evidence revealing that by 2008, three in four high-risk mortgages wound up on the books of HUD-controlled Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac or agencies such as the Federal Housing Administration. A data-rich memo by former Fannie Mae chief credit officer Ed Pinto proved that government, not the private sector, drove risky lending. But Pinto's research "was never formally made available by the chair or staff to the other members of the FCIC," Wallison writes.

• Angelides withheld the final draft of the report from Wallison and other commissioners until eight days before sending it to the printer, never giving them the time they needed to go over the wording or content of the almost 900-page draft.
George Will: The harm incurred by a mushrooming welfare state
...Transfers of benefits to individuals through social welfare programs have increased from less than 1 federal dollar in 4 (24 percent) in 1963 to almost 3 out of 5 (59 percent) in 2013. In that half-century, entitlement payments were, Eberstadt says, America’s “fastest growing source of personal income,” growing twice as fast as all other real per capita personal income. It is probable that this year a majority of Americans will seek and receive payments.

This is not primarily because of Social Security and Medicare transfers to an aging population. Rather, the growth is overwhelmingly in means-tested entitlements. More than twice as many households receive “anti-poverty” benefits than receive Social Security or Medicare....

...What has changed? Not the portion of the estimated population below the poverty line (15.2 percent in 1983; 15 percent in 2012). Rather, poverty programs have become untethered from the official designation of poverty: In 2012, more than half the recipients were not classified as poor but accepted being treated as needy. Expanding dependency requires erasing Americans’ traditional distinction between the deserving and the undeserving poor. This distinction was rooted in this nation’s exceptional sense that poverty is not the unalterable accident of birth and is related to traditions of generosity arising from immigrant and settler experiences....

...Causation works both ways between the rapid increase in family disintegration (from 1964 to 2012, the percentage of children born to unmarried women increased from 7 to 41) and the fact that, Eberstadt says, for many women, children and even working-age men, “the entitlement state is now the breadwinner of the household.” In the past 50 years, the fraction of civilian men ages 25 to 34 who were neither working nor looking for work approximately quadrupled....

Mother and daughter weigh a total of 43 stone and get £34k a year handouts, but refuse to diet
...A mother and daughter who get £34,000 a year in handouts because they are too fat to work say they'd rather be happy and on benefits than depressed and thin Janice and Amber Manzur weigh a total of 43 stone and are so overweight they have to use mobility scooters to get around.

But both women refuse to diet and mother-of-two Ms Manzur, 44, insists: "I'd rather my daughter live life on benefits being fat and happy than depressed and thin."

Ms Manzur lives in a three-bedroom house that has been customised by the council to accommodate her disability and drives a Fiat Quibo disability car worth around £15,000....
In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One's standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control.
-- Theodore Dalrymple

Sunday, February 15, 2015

INSIDE THE GLOBAL WARMING SCANDAL
...One of the areas that Homewood has looked at is Paraguay. In a post titled All of Paraguay’s temperature record has been tampered with, he found that GISS has systematically altered temperature records to make the past look cooler and the present warmer, and to create an entirely fictitious warming trend....

Jewish Journalist Compared To Hitler For Doubting Climate Change Claims
Journalist David Rose, who critically writes about climate policies for the Daily Mail, has been compared to Hitler (ironically, he’s Jewish), has been labeled a “climate change denier,” and someone even suggested that his own children murder him.

His fault? “My article was about the ‘climategate’ scandal, where leaked emails showed university scientists were trying to cover up data that suggested their claim the world is hotter than at any time in the past 1,300 years may be wrong,” Rose wrote in an article for the Mail. He adds that he does believe that human-produced CO2 influences the climate, but he seriously doubts it’s the doom models are forecasting. For that, he earned a comment wishing for his children kill him.

He also received messages from self-proclaimed activists telling him they knew where his family lived and they furnished his personal phone numbers as proof.

Rose isn’t the only “denier” facing such vitriol. In fact, it’s rather mild compared to the beheading wish for climate journalist and science writer Matt Ridley. A comment from an article in The Guardian (since deleted but accessible through Breitbart) says, referencing to a chopped off head photo, “Should that not be Ridley’s severed head in the photo? We would actually solve a great deal of the world’s problems by chopping off everyone’s heads… Why are you deniers so touchy? Mere calls for a beheading evolve [sic] such a strong response in you people. Ask yourself a simple question: Would the world be a better place without Matt Ridley? Need I answer that question?” It was revealed that the comment was made by Blue Cloud, a.k.a Gary Evans, a well-know Greenpeace activist....
“Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray's case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the "wet streets cause rain" stories. Paper's full of them.

In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.

That is the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect. I'd point out it does not operate in other arenas of life. In ordinary life, if somebody consistently exaggerates or lies to you, you soon discount everything they say. In court, there is the legal doctrine of falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus, which means untruthful in one part, untruthful in all. But when it comes to the media, we believe against evidence that it is probably worth our time to read other parts of the paper. When, in fact, it almost certainly isn't. The only possible explanation for our behavior is amnesia.”
―― Michael Crichton

The Brian Williams scandal is an NBC News-wide scandal
...A production crew accompanied Williams on the helicopter outing. The Erik Wemple Blog has asked NBC News who and how many people were on that crew. But where have they been as Williams has gone about misremembering the episode in media appearances in recent years? Upon the 10th anniversary of the incident, the anchor visited David Letterman and couldn’t have been more unequivocal about having ridden in the ‘copter under attack: “Two of the four helicopters were hit, by ground fire, including the one I was in, RPG and AK-47,” Williams told the “Late Show” host.

Also in March 2013, Williams told Alec Baldwin in an interview on WNYC’s “Here’s The Thing.” Speaking of his tendency to say “I’ve got this” in sticky situations, he said, “And I’ve done some ridiculously stupid things under that banner, like being in a helicopter I had no business being in in Iraq with rounds coming into the airframe,” Williams said.

Again: Where were Williams’s crew members, who surely knew that Williams had either “conflated” his Chinook with another Chinook — his explanation — or was using the passage of time to embellish his own exploits — another explanation. And what of other NBC News employees who worked on the story? Why did they remain silent on these matters? Are they still with NBC News?

We put these questions to NBC News and haven’t heard back....

We shouldn’t believe Williams’ lie was an innocent mistake
...What Williams’ lie was about was what lies are always about: No one who actually scored the winning touchdown on the high-school football team misremembers it as sitting on the bench. The term “fish tale” does not mean you mistakenly tell people you caught a sickly ­8-ounce catfish when actually you snagged a 95-pound monster marlin....
Gun Businesses Seek Ways To Survive While Denied Basic Business Services
...The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee released a report last month showing the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) targeted gun dealers and other businesses like payday lenders and pawn shops as illegal operations, and pressured banks to halt dealing with these businesses. The administration’s program is now known as Operation Choke Point, which is run by the Departments of Justice and Treasury....

...“It’s appalling that our government is working around the law to vindictively attack businesses they find objectionable,” then-House Oversight Chairman Darrel Issa said in December.

“Internal FDIC documents confirm that Operation Choke Point is an extraordinary abuse of government power,” Issa said. “In the most egregious cases, federal bureaucrats injected personal moral judgments into the regulatory process. Such practices are totally inconsistent with basic principles of good government, transparency, and the rule of law.”...
At retreat, Dem staffers escort reporters to restroom
Reporters covering the House Democrats' retreat in Philadelphia this week are having a much different experience than when they’re on their home turf on Capitol Hill.

Reporters are being escorted to and from the restroom and lobby and are being barred from entering the hotel outside of scheduled events, even if they've been invited by a member of Congress.

During Vice President Joe Biden’s remarks at the retreat Friday, reporters were required to have a staff member, usually a junior member of the press team, escort them when going to the bathroom or to the lobby. The filing center for reporters was at a separate hotel from where the retreat was taking place, so access was limited to members of Congress specifically made available to the press.

“It was a police state. It was absurd how heavy handed the capitol police and Democratic staff were in trying to control everywhere the press went,” New York Times reporter Jeremy Peters said in an interview....

Davos’s Destructive Elites
Convening to ring the alarm about global warming, our putative betters and would-be rulers gathered in Davos, Switzerland, filling the local general-aviation hangars with some 1,700 private jets. Taking an international commercial flight is one of the most carbon-intensive things the typical person does in his life, but if you’re comparing carbon footprints between your average traveler squeezed into coach on American and Davos Man quaffing Pol Roger in his cashmere-carpeted intercontinental air limousine, you’re talking Smurfette vs. Sasquatch. The Bombardier’s Global 6000 may be a technical marvel, but it still runs on antique plankton juice. The emissions from heating all those sprawling hotel suites in the Alps in winter surely makes baby polar bears weep bitter and copious baby-polar-bear tears.

The stories add up: Jeff Greene brings multiple nannies on his private jet to Davos, and the rest of the guys gathered to talk past each other about the plight of the working man scarf down couture hot-dogs that cost forty bucks. Bill Clinton makes the case for wealth-redistribution while sporting a $60,000 platinum Rolex.

The hypocrisy of our literally (literally, Mr. Vice President!) high-flying crusaders against fossil fuels — who overlap considerably with our high-living crusaders against economic inequality — is endlessly annoying if frequently entertaining. And there is something unseemly about enduring puritanical little homilies on how we need to learn to live with less from guys wearing shoes that cost more than the typical American family earns in a quarter. ...
Gawker: Obama Secretly Partied With Bill Ayers Last Summer
...While the fact that Obama was literally partying with former advocates of violent struggle against the U.S. government will no doubt be taken by his critics as further evidence that he hates America, the most interesting thing about the wedding is the shocking proof it offers that—at long last!—Obama truly no longer gives a fuck about keeping up political appearances. It’s unthinkable that the Obama of the 2008 or 2012 campaigns would have been permitted to go anywhere near Ayers or Dohrn, for fear of fueling the unhinged right-wing narrative that he is a radical leftist....
Many progressives say that the 34 states that have passed laws requiring voters to have a government-issued photo ID are practicing "vote suppression." Does requiring a photo ID at airports constitute "travel suppression"? Visitors to the Justice Department are required to present photo IDs. Will you. . .plan to end this "visit suppression"?
-- George Will posing questions for Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch

“The behavior of any bureaucratic organization can best be understood by assuming that it is controlled by a secret cabal of its enemies.”
-- Robert Conquest
What Really Happened?
...There is no doubt that private miscalculation and imprudence made matters worse for more than a few lending institutions and individual borrowers. (One can’t explain an unusual cluster of errors by citing greed, which is always around, just as one can’t explain a cluster of airplane crashes by citing gravity. Anyway, the greedy aim at profits, not losses.)...

...Second, Congress strengthened the Community Reinvestment Act. The CRA had initially, from its passage in 1977, merely imposed reporting requirements on commercial banks. Amendments in 1995 empowered regulators to deny a bank with a low CRA rating permission to merge with another bank—at a time when the arrival of interstate banking made such approvals especially valuable—or even to open new branches. In response to the new CRA rules, some banks joined into partnerships with community groups to distribute millions in mortgage money to low-income borrowers previously considered non-creditworthy. Other banks took advantage of the newly authorized option to boost their CRA rating by purchasing special “CRA mortgage-backed securities,” that is, packages of disproportionately nonprime loans certified as meeting CRA criteria and securitized by Freddie Mac. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke aptly commented in a 2007 speech that “recent problems in mortgage markets illustrate that an underlying assumption of the CRA—that more lending equals better outcomes for local communities may not always hold.”[8]

Third, the Department of Housing and Urban Development pressured lenders for “affordable housing” loans. Beginning in 1993, HUD officials began bringing legal actions against mortgage bankers that declined a higher percentage of minority applicants than white ones. To avoid legal trouble, lenders began relaxing their down-payment and income qualifications.[9]...

Hidden in plain sight: What really caused the world’s worst financial crisis — and why it could happen again

Free fall: How government policies brought down the housing market
...Nevertheless, there are plentiful data on commitments by large banks to make CRA-type loans in connection with applications to the Fed for permission to merge with small and medium-sized institutions between 1997 and 2007. In a 2007 report, for example, the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) reported that in this ten-year period its member organizations had induced banks that were seeking merger approvals from the Fed and other agencies to commit almost $4.5 trillion in CRA-type lending. Press releases at the time these mergers were approved (available online) backed up this claim. After this report received publicity, it was pulled from NCRC’s website, though it is now available elsewhere on the web.[13] These report loans totaling $1.3 trillion made to fulfill prior commitments,[14] but determining the delinquency rates on these loans is impossible; banks have generally refused to make these data available, and the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC)—established by Congress to investigate the causes of the 2008 financial crisis—did not seriously attempt to investigate this issue....

...In a market where prices are rising quickly, homeowners who cannot meet their mortgage obligations can often refinance or sell their homes without a loss. In the midst of a housing bubble, therefore, subprime loans can look like excellent risk-adjusted investments. For this reason, by 2004, private investors had become interested in PMBS backed by subprime loans; these securities were offering high yields but not showing losses commensurate with their risk. This phenomenon was helped along by the fact that the low interest rates in the early 2000s had produced a vast number of refinanced and unseasoned mortgages, which in their early years characteristically have low rates of delinquency and default. ...
This presumption of guilt is absolutely crucial to collectivism. The Left must teach its subjects to think of themselves as criminals. That's the only way law-abiding people will endure levels of coercive power that would normally require specific accusations, a fair trial, and the possibility of appeals. Social-justice "crimes" can be prosecuted without any of those things. There is no appeal from the sentence, and no statute of limitations on the crimes, as any left-winger who thinks today's American citizens need to suffer for the historical offense of slavery will be happy to explain to you. There's no evidence you can present in your defense, for the Left has read your mind, and knows better than you what demons lurk in its recesses. This is one reason the Left dislikes the trappings of constitutional law and order. The presumption of innocence is highly inconvenient for social crusades; it's the antithesis of collective political "justice."
-- John Hayward

The war on rape: the logic of the lynch mob returns
Five ways in which today’s feminist war on rape echoes the KKK’s war on rape.

...Automatic belief of rape accusations was a central principle of the KKK’s war on rape, too. This was one of the things that most shocked Ida B Wells, the early twentieth-century African-American journalist and civil-rights activist. ‘The word of the accuser is held to be true’, she said, which means that ‘the rule of law [is] reversed, and instead of proving the accused to be guilty, the [accused] must prove himself innocent’. Wells and others were startled by the level of belief in the accusers of black men, and by the damning of anyone who dared to question such accusations, which was taken as an attack on the accuser’s ‘virtue’. ...

...One of the main ways in which racists there maintained social divisions and social order was through the spectre of rape. They promoted the idea that white women were under constant threat from ‘lustful black men’. Even though the black rape of white women was not a major problem, still the idea that there was a menacing culture of rape was indulged. ...

Moral Panics Won't End Campus Rape
...The most striking moment for me: when the fraternity brothers say they knew within 24 hours that the Rolling Stone story was false -- provably false, because their internal records and bank statements showed no party on the weekend in question, and no brothers matched the description of the alleged rapist. Yet the brothers kept quiet because they thought that fighting the story in the news media "would only make things more difficult."

Think about that. They had evidence they could have shown to a reporter to demonstrate the problems with a story, and they decided not to because that might only get them into deeper trouble. ...

...When people are in the grip of a moral panic, going up against them to question the extent of a threat, even by doubting so much as a single case, can become dangerous. Questioning any expression of the panic is not seen as a logical debate over statistics or the details of a particular instance, but as somehow defending the threatening behavior. Note how careful many people who wrote skeptically about the UVA case were to say that they believe campus rape happens, and it is terrible. People who write that they think an accused murderer may be innocent rarely feel compelled to affirm that yes, they sure do believe that murder happens, and boy, are they against that. This ought to go without saying, and unless we are in the middle of a moral panic, it usually does....

At Ohio State, you may be guilty of sexual assault if…
Consent Is…

The act of knowingly, actively and voluntarily agreeing explicitly to engage in sexual activity. Consent must be freely given and can be withdrawn at any time.

Sober
Not coerced
Imaginative
Enthusiastic
Creative
Wanted
Informed
Mutual
Honest
Verbal

The absence of “no” does not mean “yes”

It must be asked every step of the way

It cannot be implied or assumed, even in the context of a relationship

False Rape Accusation Leads To Alaska Man’s Beating Death ...The woman, 31-year-old Dominique Vasquez, reportedly did not want to admit to her boyfriend, 39-year-old Abraham Stine, that she had cheated on him and so lied about the rape, according to Alaska Dispatch News....

...“Later, Vasquez admitted she lied about being raped by Lord and she had consensual sex with him,” according to the complaint. “Vasquez knew Stine has a history of assaulting people, from her personal experience.”

Both Stine and Vasquez face second-degree murder charges, according to Alaska Dispatch News. Vasquez reportedly held her hand over Lord’s mouth while he was being assaulted.
IRS commissioner: Illegals are now eligible for tax credits under Obama’s amnesty — even for years past
...“Under the new program, if you get a Social Security number and you work, you’ll be eligible to apply for the Earned Income Tax Credit,” Mr. Koskinen said.

He said that would apply even “if you did not file” taxes, as long as the illegal immigrant could demonstrate having worked off-the-books during those years.

That expands the universe of people eligible for the tax credit by millions. He said only about 700,000 illegal immigrants currently work and pay taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, but as many as 4 million illegal immigrants could get a stay of deportation and work permits under the temporary amnesty, which would mean they would be eligible to claim back-refunds if they worked those years....

Friday, January 02, 2015

Immigration activists stop pretending it’s not about more Democratic voters
...Joshua Hoyt, the executive director of the National Partnership for New Americans, said groups gathered here were laying plans to sign up at least 500,000 immigrants for the president’s program. Advocates also appealed to immigrants here illegally who cannot vote to contact people who can.

“All those children are going to be voters,” Ms. Salas said, “and those voters are going to remember who stood with their dad and their mom.”...
No matter what Jackie said, we should generally [automatically, according to the URL] believe rape claims
...In important ways, this is wrong. We should believe, as a matter of default, what an accuser says. Ultimately, the costs of wrongly disbelieving a survivor far outweigh the costs of calling someone a rapist. Even if Jackie fabricated her account, U-Va. should have taken her word for it during the period while they endeavored to prove or disprove the accusation. This is not a legal argument about what standards we should use in the courts; it’s a moral one, about what happens outside the legal system....

Why We Believed Jackie's Rape Story
...Ultimately, though, from where I sit in Charlottesville, to let fact checking define the narrative would be a huge mistake. “These events undoubtedly do occur here,” first-year Maddie Rita told me. “And while this report has clearly had factual flaws as well as rhetorical missteps, there are plenty of other fully corroborated accounts not only at this university, but at every university around the country.”...

Rolling Stone managing editor in 2006: ‘We’ll write what we believe’
...“I want to do stuff that’s biased.” He merely meant journalism driven by a worldview, as with Eric Schlosser’s 1998 Rolling Stone expose, “Fast-Food Nation” — a series that upended thinking on the world’s McDonald’s and the like. “We can become the seed pod for great things,” said Dana of such work.

Though the editor said his publication would endeavor to give both sides of a story, he said, “we’ll write what we believe,” according to the Middlebury Campus....
The Left's Unending Fascination With Scripts to Browbeat Relatives on Thanksgiving Strongly Resemble... Scripts for Religious Conversion
...These advice columns are becoming a genre unto themselves. The stock villain: crazy right-wing uncle, the jokes about stuffing. But I recognize them by what they unwittingly emulate: guides for religious evangelism. The gentle, righteous self-regard, the slightly orthogonal response guides, the implied urgency to cure your loved ones of their ignorance. Your raging uncle will know the truth, and the truth will set him free.

That's a problem. Our politics are taking on a religious shape. Increasingly we allow politics to form our moral identity and self-conception. We surround ourselves with an invisible community of the "elect" who share our convictions, and convince ourselves that even our closest and beloved relatives are not only wrong, but enemies of goodness itself. And so one of the best, least religious holidays in the calendar becomes a chance to deliver your uncle up as a sinner in the hands of an angry niece....
How to close the gender pay gap once and for all.
...Some have looked at the root cause of the earnings gap and determined that there is either no real problem, or that the problem can’t be solved. This is untrue. Equality of the sexes is a national priority and we are a wealthy nation. No matter what the cost, it will be worth it to close the earnings gap. Now that we understand the root cause of the problem, the solution is surprisingly obvious. We need to remove the incentives which are causing men to prioritize higher earnings. Men prioritize earnings under the outdated patriarchal system where men are seen as the breadwinners. Until we solve this problem, the wage gap will persist. Part of the problem is biological, but we know that there are institutional ways to circumvent these differences of biology....

...The second data point I’ll offer is more tangible. To prove that marriage is the source of the pay gap problem we need to find a community which has moved away from marriage and see if the earnings gap has actually disappeared. In the US the logical choice for this test is Blacks, as marriage has all but collapsed among Black Americans. Over 70% of Black children are now born out of wedlock, and this statistic continues to improve. At the same time, we also know that the Black gender earnings gap has all but disappeared. As Hanna Rosin explains, Black women earn 94% of the weekly earnings of Black men. Black men are leading the way here, and all we have to do is get the rest of the nation’s men to follow.

But do we know that moving away from marriage works to reduce the productivity of White men as well? Can we count on White men ceasing to disrupt our efforts at gender equality if we do something as simple as move away from marriage? We know the answer to this is yes. In just the past few years our decades long investment in weakening marriage has become undeniable, and White men have made incredible progress in closing the gender earnings gap. The charts below show the exciting nature of this progress over time, and as you can see the greatest improvements are being made for the older age brackets. White unmarried men are now nearly as likely to earn nothing as White married and unmarried women...
Feds Paid $5 Million For Monthly Government-Sponsored Hipster Raves, Featuring Lots of Anti-Conservative Political Agitprop
...Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) are using taxpayer dollars to bring anti-tobacco marketing into bars by selling posters and t-shirts, including those that deride the views of neoconservatives, saying the political philosophy is as bad as world hunger.

The $4,904,466 grant was awarded in 2011, and runs through 2016.

"In our prior research, we identified a high-risk subpopulation of young adults in San Diego, CA: the 'hipster' subculture, a group focused on the alternative music scene, local artists and designers, and eclectic self-expression," the grant explained. "We developed a yearlong pilot social branding intervention to decrease smoking among this group, using social events and social leaders to promote a strong nonsmoking lifestyle."

Pamela Ling, a professor at UCSF School of Medicine, is leading the project. Ling was the "medical student who got her way" in the 1994 season of MTV's "The Real World" before becoming a doctor....

A Legacy of Liberalism
...In other words, we could compare hard evidence on “the legacy of slavery” with hard evidence on the legacy of liberals.

Despite the grand myth that black economic progress began or accelerated with the passage of the Civil Rights laws and “War on Poverty” programs of the 1960s, the cold fact is that the poverty rate among blacks fell from 87 percent in 1940 to 47 percent by 1960. This was before any of those programs began.

Over the next 20 years, the poverty rate among blacks fell another 18 percentage points, compared to the 40-point drop in the previous 20 years. This was the continuation of a previous economic trend, at a slower rate of progress, not the economic grand deliverance proclaimed by liberals and self-serving black “leaders.”...

...The murder rate among blacks in 1960 was one-half of what it became 20 years later, after a legacy of liberals’ law-enforcement policies. Public-housing projects in the first half of the 20th century were clean, safe places, where people slept outside on hot summer nights, when they were too poor to afford air conditioning. That was before admissions standards for public-housing projects were lowered or abandoned, in the euphoria of liberal non-judgmental notions. And it was before the toxic message of victimhood was spread by liberals. We all know what hell holes public housing has become in our times. The same toxic message produced similar social results among lower-income people in England, despite an absence of a “legacy of slavery” there....
Fifty Years Of Government Intervention Fails To Boost Home Ownership
Despite decades of federal intervention in the housing market, home ownership rates are virtually the same today as they were in 1968, according to an brief released by the Heritage Foundation on Monday....

...The pace of government intervention was especially frenetic in the 1990s, the report says, such that, “from 1990 to 2003, Fannie [Mae] and Freddie [Mac] went from holding 5 percent of the nation’s mortgages ($136 billion) to more than 20 percent ($1.6 trillion),” all with implicit government backing....
“A rule not ultimately backed by the threat of violence is merely a suggestion. States rely on laws enforced by men ready to do violence against lawbreakers. Every tax, every code and every licensing requirement demands an escalating progression of penalties that, in the end, must result in the forcible seizure of property or imprisonment by armed men prepared to do violence in the event of resistance or non–compliance. Every time a soccer mom stands up and demands harsher penalties for drunk driving, or selling cigarettes to minors, or owning a pit bull, or not recycling, she is petitioning the state to use force to impose her will. She is no longer asking nicely.”
-- Jack Donovan | Violence is Golden
Lying to a Lover Could Become 'Rape' In New Jersey
Today in criminalize all the things: a New Jersey lawmaker wants to make it illegal to lie to someone in order to tempt them into sex. Assemblyman Troy Singleton's (D-Burlington) bill would create the new crime of "sexual assault by fraud", defined as "an act of sexual penetration to which a person has given consent because the actor has misrepresented the purpose of the act or has represented he is someone he is not."

"I truly believe that we have to look at the issue of rape as more than sexual contact without consent," Singleton said. "Fraud invalidates any semblance of consent just as forcible sexual contact does. This legislation is designed to provide our state's judiciary with another tool to assess situations where this occurs and potentially provide a legal remedy to those circumstances." ...

New domestic violence law will outlaw coercive control
...Theresa May, the Home Secretary, is expected to announce new powers allowing the police to prosecute those who are guilty of psychological and emotional abuse.

It means for the first time men who control their partners through threats or by restricting their personal or financial freedom, could face prison in the same way as those who are violent towards them.

Campaigners have long called for a change in the law to put psychological exploitation on a par with physical violence, in the hope it will encourage more victims to come forward and report abuse in the home....

New Jersey judge orders parents to pay estranged 21-year-old daughter’s college tuition
...The Ricci case is similar except that Ricci’s even older than Canning was. Rachel was 18; Caitlyn is 21, an adult legally any way you slice it. And yet, under Jersey court precedent, mom and dad may need to fork over a cool 16 large annually for her tuition at Temple even though, to hear them tell it, she hasn’t said a word to them outside of court in two years. ...

The College Rape Overcorrection Assertions of injustice by young men are infuriating to some. Caroline Heldman, an associate professor of politics at Occidental College and co-founder of End Rape on Campus, said of the men who are turning to the courts, “These lawsuits are an incredible display of entitlement, the same entitlement that drove them to rape.”
New term: ‘Grubering’ and how it applies to Climate Alarmism
...The late Steven Schneider puts it succinctly:

On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but — which means that we must include all the doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands, and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we’d like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change. To do that we need to get some broad based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This ‘double ethical bind’ we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.

Our critics sometimes dismiss skeptics as “conspiracy theorists” noting how unlikely it would be that thousands of scientists would collude. They miss the point. We now know that Grubering takes place — we see it laid bare in the Obamacare campaign. It was not strictly a “conspiracy”. Rather it was an arrogant belief that lying was necessary to persuade a “stupid” public to adopt the policy preferences of the politicians and the academics in their employ. Its Noble Cause Corruption, not conspiracy, that is at the root of this behavior....

Gruber Truthers Really Need to Shut The F*** Up Now
...Come. On. I hate to break it to you all, but Gruber doesn't get to be an architect of Obamacare and Romneycare when you want to use his authority and credentials to bash Republicans or spin for the law, and then radically transform into one of three Jon Grubers who just happens to live in Obama's neighborhood once Gruber becomes a massive liability for the Left....

New deception questions: Obamacare adviser warned of premium increases as Obama vowed savings
While President Obama campaigned on a promise that his universal health care plan would lower premiums, his controversial adviser and plan architect was privately warning the state of Wisconsin that Obamacare was poised to massively increase insurance costs for average residents, internal documents show.

Jonathan Gruber, the MIT economist currently under fire for suggesting the Obama administration tried to deceive the public about the Affordable Care Act, was hired by former Democratic Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle in 2010 to conduct an analysis on how the federal health-care reform would impact the state.

Mr. Gruber’s study predicted about 90 percent of individuals without employer-sponsored or public insurance would see their premiums spike by an average of 41 percent. Once tax subsidies were factored in, about 60 percent of those in the individual market were projected to see their premiums go up 31 percent, according to his analysis....''

Beyond Gruber: How HHS Flip-Flopped on Federal Exchange Subsidies ...A February 2014 congressional investigation found that the IRS initially began developing a rule to make tax credits available only on exchanges established by a state. As the findings outlined below show, HHS had a similar understanding of the law. Here, it is important to note that in order for an exchange website to offer tax credits, it must have a tax credit calculator that allows individuals to view the actual cost of their coverage after tax credits have been applied to their premiums. Official documents show that while HHS moved quickly after the ACA’s enactment to help state governments make tax credits available through state-based exchanges, for nearly two years, it developed its HealthCare.gov website without any effort to offer tax credits on the federal exchange.

The following timeline demonstrates that HHS initially set out to establish its federal exchange, HealthCare.gov, without a tax credit calculator—that is, it set up the federal exchange so that it could not provide users any information about tax credits. This strongly suggests that its original interpretation was that only residents of states that established their own exchanges were entitled to tax credits. ...
Obama Adviser Jonathan Gruber In 2009: Obamacare Will NOT Be Affordable
...“I wish that President Obama could have stood up and said, ‘You know, I don’t know if this bill is going to control costs. It might, it might not. We’re doing our best. But let me tell you what it’s going to do…” Gruber said on a San Francisco podcast in 2012.

“If he could make that speech? Instead, he says ‘I’m going to pass a bill that will lower your health care costs.’ That sells. Now, I wish the world was different. I wish people cared about the 50 million uninsured in America…But, you know, they don’t. And I think, once again, I’m amazed politically that we got this bill through.”...

Fox Anchor: CNBC ‘Silenced’ Me For Reporting On Obamacare
Fox Business Network anchor Melissa Francis said she was “silenced” by CNBC when management told her she was “disrespecting the office of the president” by reporting about Obamacare....

How the White House Used Gruber's Work to Create Appearance of Broad Consensus
...The White House is placing a giant collective bet on Gruber's "assumptions" to justify key portions of the Senate bill such as the "Cadillac tax," which they allowed people to believe was independent verification. Now that we know that Gruber's work was not that of an independent analyst but rather work performed as a contractor to the White House and paid for by taxpayers, and economists like Larry Mishel are raising serious questions about its validity, it should be made publicly available so others can judge its merits....

...On the 29th Nancy-Ann DeParle, head of the very White House Office of Health Reform that Gruber was hired to consult for, posted perhaps the most misleading column of all on the White House blog:

MIT Economist Confirms Senate Health Reform Bill Reduces Costs and Improves Coverage

She identified Gruber as an "MIT Economist who has been closely following the health insurance reform process" who had "issued a compelling new report." There was no acknowledgment that her very own White House office had commissioned Gruber's work....

...On December 28, Gruber published an Op-Ed in the Washington Post -- in which he neglected to mention his contract to consult with the White House on this very issue. He was asked point-blank if he had any contracts related to the piece for which he was being paid, and he said "no." The Post subsequently published a correction....

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Inside the plot against the middle class
Ever get the sense that the middle class is downwardly mobile, being pressed to the floor and squeezed to the limit? It’s not happening by accident. Someone is doing the squeezing: a new class of entertainment and tech plutocrats, cheered on and abetted by a priesthood of media, government and academic elites.

Joel Kotkin’s “The New Class Conflict” (Telos Press Publishing) paints a dire picture of the undeclared war on the middle class. What he calls the Oligarchy (Silicon Valley and Hollywood) and the Clerisy (the media, bureaucrats, universities and nonprofits) enrich themselves and gratify their own strange obsessions at the expense of the middle class....

...Higher education is increasingly unaffordable, and many of the same forces are at work.

The government, with the media Clerisy cheering its efforts, offers cheap loans to “help the middle class.” Those subsidies are in effect a tax that everyone pays in order to aid the next generation of elites. The extra money siphoned out of your wallet gets filtered through the government and into the pockets of the government-promoting universities, whose costs are shooting up because they keep fattening their payrolls. Over the last 40 years, university bureaucracy has more than tripled in population — to some 750,000 administrators, who now outnumber professors on campus. All told, the universities employ 1.7 million people, most of them licking their lips at the prospect of indoctrinating 20 million students.

President Obama let the mask slip when he offered to cap payments on, and ultimately forgive, student loans when the graduate becomes a paid-up, fully vested member of the Clerisy — spending 10 years in a government or nonprofit job.

Yep, the regulators will happily pass along the costs of your tuition to the taxpaying suckers — as long as you join their cult and keep the cycle going. It’s as if the Vatican spared no expense to educate the next generation of cardinals, then simply decreed that the general public pick up the tab....
Yet More IRS Employees Busted for Stealing Taxpayers' Identities
It's hard to keep up with the privacy-threatening shenanigans at the Internal Revenue Service, but let's give it a try. Just days after revealing that the tax agency's failure to follow its own rules put the private data of 1.4 million people at risk, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration publicized the sentencing of Tax Examining Technician Missy Sledge for aggravated identity theft and mail fraud, and IRS employee Monica Hernandez for making and subscribing a false income tax return, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft.

According to the Inspector General's Office, "as part of her official IRS duties, Sledge had access to taxpayers’ personal identifiers, including names, Social Security Numbers (SSN), dates of birth, and addresses, as well as information about tax professionals. Sledge used this access in furtherance of an identity theft scheme which included the filing of fraudulent tax returns and the subsequent theft of refunds."...
At U-M, Sexual Violence Includes 'Discounting Feelings,' 'Withholding Sex'
...Examples of sexual violence include: discounting the partner's feelings regarding sex; criticizing the partner sexually; touching the partner sexually in inappropriate and uncomfortable ways; withholding sex and affection; always demanding sex; forcing partner to strip as a form of humiliation (maybe in front of children), to witness sexual acts, to participate in uncomfortable sex or sex after an episode of violence, to have sex with other people; and using objects and/or weapons to hurt during sex or threats to back up demands for sex...
DHS secret revealed: Tens of thousands of illegals released during the border crisis didn’t show up for their immigration hearings
...An official with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement revealed that about 70 percent of immigrant families the Obama administration had released into the U.S. never showed up weeks later for follow up appointments.

The ICE official made the disclosure in a confidential meeting at its Washington headquarters with immigration advocates participating in a federal working group on detention and enforcement policies. The Associated Press obtained an audio recording of Wednesday’s meeting and separately interviewed participants.

On the recording obtained by the AP, the government did not specify the total number of families released into the U.S. since October. Since only a few hundred families have already been returned to their home countries and limited U.S. detention facilities can house only about 1,200 family members, the 70 percent figure suggests the government released roughly 41,000 members of immigrant families who subsequently failed to appear at federal immigration offices....
Robert Kennedy Jr., Aspiring Tyrant
Blissfully unaware of how hot the irony burned, Robert Kennedy Jr. yesterday took to a public protest to rail avidly in favor of censorship. The United States government, Kennedy lamented in an interview with Climate Depot, is not permitted by law to “punish” or to imprison those who disagree with him — and this, he proposed, is a problem of existential proportions. Were he to have his way, Kennedy admitted, he would cheer the prosecution of a host of “treasonous” figures — among them a number of unspecified “politicians”; those bĂȘtes noires of the global Left, Kansas’s own Koch Brothers; “the oil industry and the Republican echo chamber”; and, for good measure, anybody else whose estimation of the threat posed by fossil fuels has provoked them into “selling out the public trust.” Those who contend that global warming “does not exist,” Kennedy claimed, are guilty of “a criminal offense — and they ought to be serving time for it.”...

...Kennedy’s insidious aspirations are the inevitable consequence of his conviction that he is in possession of the truth and that all who have the temerity to question him are, in consequence, wreckers. At the best of times, and on the least shaky of epistemological ground, this is a dangerous instinct. In this area in particular, it is downright frightening. Of late, it has become drearily standard to hear the Kennedys of the world pretend that if one acknowledges basic climate mechanics, one is forced to take notoriously unreliable computer models at face value and, further, to acquiesce in whatever political “solutions” are currently en vogue. Nothing could be further from the truth. Whatever “consensus” can be said to exist in the realm of climatology is largely limited to the presumption that industrial activity is bound by the same chemical, biological, and physical rules as is any other human pursuit, and to the acknowledgement that if one changes the makeup of the atmosphere, the atmosphere will change. Quite how it will change, to what extent, and to what degree any such transmutation represents a problem for life on earth, however, remain open questions. At present, there remain serious disagreements as to what has caused the current “pause” in global warming; as to what accounts for the embarrassing failure of so many of the forecasts on which we are expected to rely; as to how much of an effect modulations in the climate are having on extreme weather events; and as to how much we can possibly know about the future anyhow....
For Gun Shop Owners, It’s No Longer Hip to Be ‘Square’
...Today, the Square’s terms prohibit gun-shop owners from using the credit-card processor not only when they are conducting gun sales at their brick-and-mortar stores but even more so when they are offsite, representing their stores at gun shows where they often need the wireless Square Reader to ring up sales on smartphones or tablets. Gun show have been a target of anti-gun activists for nearly 20 years....

...Square’s revised terms of agreement immediately forced vendors to halt the processing of transactions of citizens who simply wish to buy or sell firearms or ammunition.

The timing of the release of the Square’s new, more stringent terms just so happens to coincide with Operation Choke Point’s initial targeting in the spring of 2013, as reported by The Daily Signal.

The timing also coincides with banking relationship cancellations of pro-Second Amendment candidates and campaigns throughout the United States, including last year’s Colorado recall elections over gun control....
Global Warming Heat Not "Hiding" in the Deep Ocean After All
One of the leading explanations for why the postulated rise in global average temperatures due to man-made warming has "paused" for nearly 18 years now is that the "missing heat" is hiding in the deep ocean. Two new papers in Nature Climate Change look at how much heat the oceans are supposed to have absorbed since the 1970s. The press release from the Jet Propulsion Lab whose researchers did much of the analysis notes:

The cold waters of Earth's deep ocean have not warmed measurably since 2005, according to a new NASA study, leaving unsolved the mystery of why global warming appears to have slowed in recent years....
George F. Will: The nastiest political tactic this year
The early-morning paramilitary-style raids on citizens’ homes were conducted by law enforcement officers, sometimes wearing bulletproof vests and lugging battering rams, pounding on doors and issuing threats. Spouses were separated as the police seized computers, including those of children still in pajamas. Clothes drawers, including the children’s, were ransacked, cellphones were confiscated and the citizens were told that it would be a crime to tell anyone of the raids....

...From the progressivism of Robert La Follette to the conservatism of Gov. Scott Walker (R) today, Wisconsin has been fertile soil for conviction politics. Today, the state’s senators are the very conservative Ron Johnson (R) and the very liberal Tammy Baldwin (D). Now, however, Wisconsin, which to its chagrin produced Sen. Joe McCarthy (R), has been embarrassed by Milwaukee County’s Democratic district attorney, John Chisholm. He has used Wisconsin’s uniquely odious “John Doe” process to launch sweeping and virtually unsupervised investigations while imposing gag orders to prevent investigated people from defending themselves or rebutting politically motivated leaks.

According to several published reports, Chisholm told subordinates that his wife, a teachers union shop steward at her school, is anguished by her detestation of Walker’s restrictions on government employee unions, so Chisholm considers it his duty to help defeat Walker....

...Such misbehavior takes a toll on something that already is in short supply: belief in government’s legitimacy. The federal government’s most intrusive and potentially punitive institution, the IRS, unquestionably worked for Barack Obama’s reelection by suppressing activities by conservative groups. Would he have won if the government he heads had not impeded political participation by many opposition groups? We will never know.

Would the race between Walker and Democrat Mary Burke be as close as it is if a process susceptible to abuse had not been so flagrantly abused to silence groups on one side of Wisconsin’s debate? Surely not.

Gangster government — Michael Barone’s description of using government machinery to punish political opponents or reward supporters — has stained Wisconsin, illustrating this truth: The regulation of campaigns in the name of political hygiene (combating “corruption” or the “appearance” of it) inevitably involves bad laws and bad bureaucracies susceptible to abuse by bad people....
Plan to use teen as bait leads to rape at school, suit alleges
It's an unimaginable horror. A 14-year-old girl with special needs allegedly was raped at school after a teacher's aide persuaded her to act as bait to catch an accused sexual predator, a fellow student. "It has essentially devastated her life," attorney Eric Artrip -- who represents the girl and her father -- said of the alleged January 2010 incident....

University event says men can prevent rape through taco runs
A student event at Arizona State University suggested that intoxicated men just grab tacos with friends in order to prevent rape.

The event, sponsored by the student group I Always Get Consent, made the claim that teaching women self-defense techniques perpetuates “rape culture” and advised men to tell their drunken buddies at the bar that a woman is ugly to prevent him from going home with her and raping her....
Oklahoma Federal Court Rules IRS Attempt to Save Obamacare's Subsidies for Federal Exchange Enrollees "Arbitrary, Capricious, an Abuse of Discretion, and Otherwise Not In Accordance with the Law"

More: The Judge in Pruitt Scolds the Obama Champions of the Judicial Branch

Josh Kraushaar: Obama's Pass-the-Buck Presidency
...Obama takes daily intelligence briefings in writing, he explained, because no one will be able to testify about warning the president in person about threats that the White House doesn't act on...
Conservative Super PAC: Iowa TV Station Won’t Run Our Ads Against Democrats

Judge Wants To Force A Printer To Make Pro-Gay T-Shirts
Trends in American Public Schooling since 1970
George Will: ‘Government Is Not Competent’
Will: “Government is not competent. Frankly it’s not competent under Republicans or Democrats because it is always a monopoly and monopolies are not disciplined by market forces that are connected with reality. Teasing this segment, you asked “can we have faith in government?” I think we have much more to fear from excessive faith in government than from too little faith in government. You asked “can we trust the government to do its job?” What isn’t its job these days? I’ve just made a list. It’s fine-tuning the curriculum of our students k-12, monitoring sex on campuses, deciding how much ethanol we should put in our gas tanks, it’s designed our lightbulbs, and it’s worried sick over the name of the Washington football team. Now this is a government that doesn’t know when to stop.”
Study: Non-Citizens Are Voting And Could Decide The Election
Jesse Richman and David Earnest, professors at Old Dominion University, conducted a study into how many, if any, non-citizens have voted in U.S. elections. It turns out there are enough to be difference makers in close races.

They write, “we bring real data from big social science survey datasets to bear on the question of whether, to what extent, and for whom non-citizens vote in U.S. elections. Most non-citizens do not register, let alone vote. But enough do that their participation can change the outcome of close races.”

Putting a finer point on it, the professors continue, “How many non-citizens participate in U.S. elections? More than 14 percent of non-citizens in both the 2008 and 2010 samples indicated that they were registered to vote. Furthermore, some of these non-citizens voted. Our best guess, based upon extrapolations from the portion of the sample with a verified vote, is that 6.4 percent of non-citizens voted in 2008 and 2.2 percent of non-citizens voted in 2010.”

It is illegal for non-citizens to vote in U.S. elections.

It is conceivable, they say, that the non-citizen vote could have been the difference in Democrats winning the filibuster proof 60-vote majority they enjoyed in 2009, resulting in the passage of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

“Non-citizens,” they found, “tended to favor Democrats [Obama won more than 80 percent of the votes of non-citizens in the 2008 CCES sample], we find that this participation was large enough to plausibly account for Democratic victories in a few close elections.”

In Minnesota, the 2008 Senate race between Al Franken and Norm Coleman was decided by 312 votes. Just .65 percent of Minnesota’s non-citizen population, barely 10 percent of the rate of non-citizens they found voted that year, pulled the lever for Franken, that could have been the difference.

They find similar possibilities in President Obama’s slim victory in North Carolina....

Sunday, September 21, 2014

"Women have always been the primary victims of war. Women lose their husbands, their fathers, their sons in combat."
-- Hillary Clinton
Is Eric Holder Trying to Protect the IRS?
...The aide, Brian Fallon, is a former senior aide to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and a well-known personality on Capitol Hill. The letter describes Fallon as “audibly shaken” when he realizes his request to leak documents to help get ahead of news stories about them was mistakenly made to the very office he was seeking to undermine. Issa believes the call was intended to be made to Democratic Rep. Elijah Cumming’s staff, the ranking member on the oversight panel, the letter said.

According to the letter, Fallon – who is not named in the letter but confirmed he made the call – asked if the aides could release the IRS scandal documents to “selected reporters” to give Fallon an “opportunity to comment publicly on it.”

Fallon explained to Issa aides that the Justice Department’s Office of Legislative Affairs had not permitted him to release the documents to the public and he wanted to get ahead of the story “before the Majority” – meaning Issa – could share it, according to the letter.

Issa aides – who had placed the call on speakerphone – were “caught off guard by the unusual nature of the call and the odd request” and asked Fallon to “e-mail the material for evaluation.”

“At this point,” Fallon “abruptly placed the call on hold for approximately three minutes.” When Fallon returned to the call, “he was audibly shaken. He immediately stated that there was a ‘change in plans’ and that there would be no effort” by DOJ to release the material early....
‘CATALIST’: Obama’s Database for Fundamentally Transforming America
...During the 2012 election, a producer for a conservative news network received a knock at his door in a key swing state. Two neighbors were standing on his stoop campaigning for Obama. They weren’t there to talk to him — they were there to talk to his wife. They knew that she was employed in a profession which the Obama campaign had decided to microtarget: folks who deliver services to special needs children. The two neighbors were already armed with this personalized information. The Obama campaign didn’t just send a direct mail piece to the target or make a telephone call. Instead, the campaign matched a microtargeted demographic (special needs service providers) with a highly motivated Obama volunteer in close neighborly proximity to the target. Then they armed the neighbor/volunteer with data to visit the target....

...Similarly, the data feeding the central Catalist database are coming from a wide swath of sources. Public records, pollsters, campaigns, non-profits, activist groups, unions, parties, commercial data — scores and scores of sources are feeding the central database data.

For example, when an environmental group does neighborhood door knocking for cash, the results of those contacts are fed into Catalist.

You have your own individual voter file in Catalist. Everyone does. Under that file might be a massive amount of information about you — more than probably exists in any other database in the world. Whom you work for, what car you might drive, donations you have made, assumptions based on your neighborhood, anything in a public government database about you, consumer preferences, partisan preferences, what licenses you have, what you might have said to pollsters on the phone, memberships, how you treated the young left-wing activist knocking on your door a few years ago, and on and on and on.

Each group working with Catalist feeds the central database. Different groups have different types of data about you. Some data relate to economics. Other data relate to politics. Either way, the Borg all work in unison to fill the database with a massive amount of information about every American — and all of it is perfectly legal....

Academic ‘Dream Team’ Helped Obama’s Effort
...“In the way it used research, this was a campaign like no other,” said Todd Rogers, a psychologist at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a former director of the Analyst Institute. “It’s a big change for a culture that historically has relied on consultants, experts and gurulike intuition.”

When asked about the outside psychologists, the Obama campaign would neither confirm nor deny a relationship with them. “This campaign was built on the energy, enthusiasm and ingenuity of thousands of grass-roots supporters and our staff in the states and in Chicago,” said Adam Fetcher, a campaign spokesman. “Throughout the campaign we saw an outpouring of individuals across the country who lent a wide variety of ideas and input to our efforts to get the president re-elected.”...
Gotta be considerate of the kiddies


The War on Poverty Has Been a Colossal Flop
...Since its beginning, U.S. taxpayers have spent $22 trillion on Johnson’s War on Poverty (in constant 2012 dollars). Adjusting for inflation, that’s three times more than was spent on all military wars since the American Revolution.

One third of the U.S. population received aid from at least one welfare program at an average cost of $9,000 per recipient in 2013.

The federal government currently runs more than 80 means-tested welfare programs. These programs provide cash, food, housing and medical care to low-income Americans. Federal and state spending on these programs last year was $943 billion. (These figures do not include Social Security, Medicare, or Unemployment Insurance.)

Over 100 million people, about one third of the U.S. population, received aid from at least one welfare program at an average cost of $9,000 per recipient in 2013. If converted into cash, current means-tested spending is five times the amount needed to eliminate all poverty in the U.S....

...How is this possible? How can the taxpayers spend $22 trillion on welfare while poverty gets worse?

The typical family that Census identifies as poor has air conditioning, cable or satellite TV, and a computer in its home.

The answer is it isn’t possible. Census counts a family as poor if its income falls below specified thresholds. But in counting family “income,” Census ignores nearly the entire $943 billion welfare state....



America's new class system
...Once a state where the middle class reigned supreme, the apotheosis of the American Dream, California now has the wealth distribution — and, in some disturbing ways, the political underpinnings — of a Third World country. In Silicon Valley, a group of super-wealthy tech oligarchs live lives of almost unimaginable wealth, while only a few miles away, illegal immigrants live in squalor.

The oligarchs feel free, and even entitled, to choose the direction of society in the name of a greater good, but somehow their policies seem mostly to make the oligarchs richer and more powerful....

...The oligarchs are assisted in their control by what Kotkin calls the "clerisy" class — an amalgam of academics, media and government employees who play the role that medieval clergy once played in legitimizing the powerful, and in implementing their policies while quelling resistance from the masses. The clerisy isn't as rich as the oligarchs, but it does pretty well for itself and is compensated in part by status, its positions allowing even its lower-paid members to feel superior to the hoi polloi.

Because it doesn't have to work in competitive industries, the clerisy favors regulations, land-use rules and environmental restrictions that make things worse for businesses — especially the small "yeoman" businesses that traditionally sustained much of the middle class — thus further hollowing out the middle of the income distribution. But the lower classes, sustained by government handouts and by rhetoric from the clerisy, provide enough votes to keep the machine running, at least for a while....