Many voters are looking forward to 2011, hoping a new Congress will put the country back on the right track. But unless something’s done soon, the new year will also come with a raft of tax hikes — including a return of the death tax — that will be real killers.
Through the end of this year, the federal estate tax rate is zero — thanks to the package of broad-based tax cuts that President Bush pushed through to get the economy going earlier in the decade.
But as of midnight Dec. 31, the death tax returns — at a rate of 55% on estates of $1 million or more. The effect this will have on hospital life-support systems is already a matter of conjecture.
Resurrection of the death tax, however, isn’t the only tax problem that will be ushered in Jan. 1. Many other cuts from the Bush administration are set to disappear and a new set of taxes will materialize. And it’s not just the rich who will pay.
The lowest bracket for the personal income tax, for instance, moves up 50% — to 15% from 10%. The next lowest bracket — 25% — will rise to 28%, and the old 28% bracket will be 31%. At the higher end, the 33% bracket is pushed to 36% and the 35% bracket becomes 39.6%.
But the damage doesn’t stop there.
The marriage penalty also makes a comeback, and the capital gains tax will jump 33% — to 20% from 15%. The tax on dividends will go all the way from 15% to 39.6% — a 164% increase.
Both the cap-gains and dividend taxes will go up further in 2013 as the health care reform adds a 3.8% Medicare levy for individuals making more than $200,000 a year and joint filers making more than $250,000. Other tax hikes include: halving the child tax credit to $500 from $1,000 and fixing the standard deduction for couples at the same level as it is for single filers…
Perhaps the only consistent thing about Britain’s socialized health care system is that it is in a perpetual state of flux, its structure constantly changing as governments search for the elusive formula that will deliver the best care for the cheapest price while costs and demand escalate.
Even as the new coalition government said it would make enormous cuts in the public sector, it initially promised to leave health care alone. But in one of its most surprising moves so far, it has done the opposite, proposing what would be the most radical reorganization of the National Health Service, as the system is called, since its inception in 1948.
Practical details of the plan are still sketchy. But its aim is clear: to shift control of England’s $160 billion annual health budget from a centralized bureaucracy to doctors at the local level. Under the plan, $100 billion to $125 billion a year would be meted out to general practitioners, who would use the money to buy services from hospitals and other health care providers.
The plan would also shrink the bureaucratic apparatus, in keeping with the government’s goal to effect $30 billion in “efficiency savings” in the health budget by 2014 and to reduce administrative costs by 45 percent. Tens of thousands of jobs would be lost because layers of bureaucracy would be abolished.
In a document, or white paper, outlining the plan, the government admitted that the changes would “cause significant disruption and loss of jobs.” But it said: “The current architecture of the health system has developed piecemeal, involves duplication and is unwieldy. Liberating the N.H.S., and putting power in the hands of patients and clinicians, means we will be able to effect a radical simplification, and remove layers of management.”
The health secretary, Andrew Lansley, also promised to put more power in the hands of patients. Currently, how and where patients are treated, and by whom, is largely determined by decisions made by 150 entities known as primary care trusts — all of which would be abolished under the plan, with some of those choices going to patients. It would also abolish many current government-set targets, like limits on how long patients have to wait for treatment.
The plan, with many elements that need legislative approval to be enacted, applies only to England; other parts of Britain have separate systems.
The government announced the proposals this month. Reactions to them range from pleased to highly skeptical.
First, the Germans:
Marco Wanderwitz, a conservative member of parliament for the German state of Saxony, said it is unfair and unsustainable for the taxpayer to carry the entire cost of treating obesity-related illnesses in the public health system.
A true conservative (Germany has few, if any) would suggest breaking up the government healthcare monopoly.
“I think that it would be sensible if those who deliberately lead unhealthy lives would be held financially accountable for that,” Wanderwitz said, according to Reuters.
Germany, famed for its beer, pork and chocolates, is one of the fattest countries in Europe. Twenty-one percent of German adults were obese in 2007, and the German newspaper Bild estimates that the cost of treating obesity-related illnesses is about 17 billion euro, or $21.7 billion, a year.
Walter Willett, a professor of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, described the idea of a fat tax as “not humane.” He told AOL News that lifestyle is not the only factor in obesity, with both genetics and urban environments playing major roles.
You may recall the Obamacare stipulates that electronic health care records track American citizens’ our Body Mass Index, a potential prelude to intrusion into diet control.
When that was announced, there were no yelps from privacy advocates.
But when Wal-Mart decides to…
…put electronic identification tags on men’s clothing like jeans starting Aug. 1 as the world’s largest retailer tries to gain more control of its inventory. But the move is raising eyebrows among privacy experts.
The individual garments, which will also include underwear and socks, will have removable smart tags that can be read from a distance by Wal-Mart workers with scanners. In seconds, the worker will be able to know what sizes are missing and will also be able to tell what it has on hand in the stockroom. Such instant knowledge will allow store clerks to have the right sizes on hand when shoppers need them.
The tags work by reflecting a weak radio signal to identify the product. They have long spurred privacy fears as well as visions of stores being able to scan an entire shopping cart of items at one time.
Wal-Mart’s goal is to eventually expand the tags to other types of merchandise but company officials say it’s too early to give estimates on how long that will take.
“There are so many significant benefits in knowing how to better manage inventory and better serve customers,” said Lorenzo Lopez, a Wal-Mart spokesman.
Smart business, right? Keep costs down for the consumer, etc?
“This is a first piece of a very large and very frightening tracking system,” said Katherine Albrecht, director of a group called Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering.
Albrecht worries that Wal-Mart and others would be able to track movements of customers who in some border states like Michigan and Washington are carrying new driver’s licenses that contain RFID tags to make it easier for them to cross borders.
Albrecht fears that retailers could scan data from such licenses and their purchases and combine that data with other personal information. She also says that even though the smart tags can be removed from clothing, they can’t be turned off and can be tracked even after you throw them in the garbage, for example.
Wal-Mart might track your garbage? Frightening!
Uncle Sam will track your body weight? Yawn.
I have heard there are native tribes who refuse to be photographed because they fear the camera will snatch away their souls. I used to wonder where they got that quirky idea, but that was a long time ago.
Since then, I have heard Carrie Fisher say, “Obama is brilliant. The thing is, he’s half-white, but that’s not enough for the Tea Bag crowd. For them, it’s all white or (expletive deleted)-off!”
Sean Penn hopes his right-wing critics “die screaming of rectal cancer.”
Julia Roberts pointed out that “Republican” in the dictionary comes just after “reptile” and just before “repugnant.”
Susan Sarandon observed that “Sarah Palin’s views are so limiting, they set the women’s movement back years. When you get a woman in government, you want the right woman. You don’t want just any vagina.”
Michael Moore said: “I would like to apologize for referring to George W. Bush as a ‘deserter.’ What I meant to say is that he is a deserter, an election thief, a drunk driver, a WMD liar, and a functional illiterate. And he poops his pants.”
Janeane Garofalo declared that the world was better off when the Soviet Union was a superpower, and, never satisfied to leave bad enough alone, went on to say, “The reason a person is a conservative Republican is because something is wrong with them. That’s science — that’s neuroscience!” About the folks in the Tea Party, she insisted, “It is all about having a black man in the White House. This is racism straight up and they’re nothing but a bunch of tea-bagging rednecks.”
Joy Behar not only defended creepy Joe McGinniss’s decision to purchase a house next door to the Palins, but seconded his comments comparing Palin’s criticism to the behavior of Nazi storm troopers. It reminded me of California gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown’s comparing his opponent, Meg Whitman, to Hitler’s minister of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels. Is it just my imagination or do some people never give a second thought to Nazis or Islamic terrorists except when they’re looking to compare Republicans to something bad?
Danny Glover, who despises America and adores communism, blames global warming for the earthquake in Haiti. Together with Steven Spielberg, Oliver Stone and Sean Penn, Glover is a charter member of the Fidel Castro/Hugo Chavez Fan Club. Odd, isn’t it, how these people subscribe to all things socialistic except when it comes to their paychecks?
According to George Clooney, “It started with the witch hunts in Salem. The conservatives’ point of view was ‘Burn them at the stake,’ and the liberals’ point of view was ‘There are no witches.’ And that’s how it continued with the civil rights movement and women’s suffrage. The liberals were always right in the end.”
Harry Belafonte slandered Condi Rice and Colin Powell, calling them house slaves. He told Hugo Chavez that he and millions of his fellow Americans supported his Chilean revolution. Then, for good measure, Belafonte called George W. Bush a terrorist, saying he was far worse than the jihadists responsible for 9/11, and labeled the Dept. of Homeland Security America’s Gestapo.
Rosie O’Donnell stuck up for Helen Thomas after the 89-year-old gargoyle told the Israelis to “get the hell out of Palestine” and go back to Poland and Germany.
It took me a good long time to realize that the tribesmen were correct in thinking the camera had a magical way of stealing people’s souls, but, so far as I know, they remain unaware that it can also make off with their brains.
UPDATE: For a jaundiced take on Webb’s oped, read Stacy McCain here.
The NAACP believes the tea party is racist. The tea party believes the NAACP is racist. And Pat Buchanan got into trouble recently by pointing out that if Elena Kagan is confirmed to the Supreme Court, there will not be a single Protestant Justice, although Protestants make up half the U.S. population and dominated the court for generations.
Forty years ago, as the United States experienced the civil rights movement, the supposed monolith of White Anglo-Saxon Protestant dominance served as the whipping post for almost every debate about power and status in America. After a full generation of such debate, WASP elites have fallen by the wayside and a plethora of government-enforced diversity policies have marginalized many white workers. The time has come to cease the false arguments and allow every American the benefit of a fair chance at the future.
I have dedicated my political career to bringing fairness to America’s economic system and to our work force, regardless of what people look like or where they may worship. Unfortunately, present-day diversity programs work against that notion, having expanded so far beyond their original purpose that they now favor anyone who does not happen to be white.
In an odd historical twist that all Americans see but few can understand, many programs allow recently arrived immigrants to move ahead of similarly situated whites whose families have been in the country for generations. These programs have damaged racial harmony. And the more they have grown, the less they have actually helped African-Americans, the intended beneficiaries of affirmative action as it was originally conceived.
Lyndon Johnson’s initial program for affirmative action was based on the 13th Amendment and on the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which authorized the federal government to take actions in order to eliminate “the badges of slavery.” Affirmative action was designed to recognize the uniquely difficult journey of African-Americans. This policy was justifiable and understandable, even to those who came from white cultural groups that had also suffered in socio-economic terms from the Civil War and its aftermath.
The injustices endured by black Americans at the hands of their own government have no parallel in our history, not only during the period of slavery but also in the Jim Crow era that followed. But the extrapolation of this logic to all “people of color”—especially since 1965, when new immigration laws dramatically altered the demographic makeup of the U.S.—moved affirmative action away from remediation and toward discrimination, this time against whites. It has also lessened the focus on assisting African-Americans, who despite a veneer of successful people at the very top still experience high rates of poverty, drug abuse, incarceration and family breakup. (more…)
The stench of scandal has been following Rep. Charles Rangel, one of the most powerful Democrats in Congress, for going on two years. The LA Times covered almost none of it.
Finally, they break down and print an AP story.
Rep. Charles Rangel, who has spent half of his 80 years as a member of Congress, says he looks forward to fighting ethics charges. Other Democrats won’t be so pleased.
The ethics trial sought by the New York congressman and former Ways and Means Committee chairman will coincide with campaign season. Democrats will have to defend their party’s conduct. If enough of them lose, the party could cede control of the House.
Republicans are already going negative, reminding voters that Speaker Nancy Pelosi promised to “drain the swamp” of ethical misdeeds in Congress.
Rangel had a choice.
His lawyer had been negotiating with the House ethics committee to settle his case. But to end it, Rangel would have had to accept the allegations. Rangel had been willing to accept some, but that didn’t satisfy the committee, according to a person familiar with the talks but not authorized to be quoted by name.
“I look forward to airing this thing,” Rangel, who is tied for fourth in House seniority, told reporters Thursday, insisting the allegations against him have no substance.
“I am pleased that, at long last, sunshine will pierce the cloud of serious allegations that have been raised against me in the media,” he said.
It was disclosed Thursday that Rangel is being charged with multiple ethics violations. The ethics committee won’t reveal the specific charges until next Thursday at a public meeting. However, several persons familiar with the allegations, who were not authorized to discuss them publicly, said some of the charges against Rangel, who has spent 40 years in Congress, were related to:
—Rangel’s use of official stationery to raise money for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at City College of New York.
—His use of four rent-subsidized apartment units in New York City. The city’s rent stabilization program is supposed to apply to one’s primary residence. One had been used as a campaign office, raising a separate question of whether the rent break was an improper gift.
—Rangel’s failure to report income as required on his annual financial disclosure forms. The committee had investigated his failure to report income from the lawmaker’s rental unit at the Punta Cana Yacht Club in the Dominican Republic. Rangel also belatedly disclosed hundreds of thousands of dollars in investment assets.
To put it bluntly, Charlie’s accused of cheating on his taxes. That’s not just an ethics violation, it’s a federal felony.
Some officials in Rangel’s hometown voiced their support. And one analyst said the allegations are likely to change little for Rangel, who is running for re-election in the fall.
“They make jokes about people who are so popular they wouldn’t lose an election even if they were indicted,” said Lawrence Levy, a political commentator and head of Hofstra University’s National Center on Suburban Studies. “Charlie is so popular it probably won’t have much effect on him.”
Exactly. Corruption blooms when there’s no accountability.
Sen. John Kerry, who has repeatedly voted to raise taxes while in Congress, dodged a whopping six-figure state tax bill on his new multimillion-dollar yacht by mooring her in Newport, R.I.
Isabel – Kerry’s luxe, 76-foot New Zealand-built Friendship sloop with an Edwardian-style, glossy varnished teak interior, two VIP main cabins and a pilothouse fitted with a wet bar and cold wine storage – was designed by Rhode Island boat designer Ted Fontaine.
But instead of berthing the vessel in Nantucket, where the senator summers with the missus, Teresa Heinz, Isabel’s hailing port is listed as “Newport” on her stern.
Could the reason be that the Ocean State repealed its Boat Sales and Use Tax back in 1993, making the tiny state to the south a haven – like the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and Nassau – for tax-skirting luxury yacht owners?
The Justice Department announced last week that it would defend the new federal health-insurance mandate as an exercise of Congress’s “power to lay and collect taxes,” even though Barack Obama had insisted before the bill’s passage that it was “absolutely not a tax increase.” The truth is the mandate is not a tax—and if it were it would be unconstitutional.
A tax is when the government takes money from individuals, puts it in the Treasury, and plans to spend it. With the health-insurance mandate, the government is not taking money from private individuals; rather, it is commanding them to give their money to another private entity, not to the Treasury. If individuals don’t obey the mandate, they pay a penalty to the Treasury. But penalties aren’t taxes. The mandate is legally separate from the penalty.
Even if the Justice Department were to get the mandate considered a tax, it would be an unconstitutional one. Unlike states, the federal government has limited jurisdiction. Under the 10th Amendment, the federal government has only those powers enumerated by the Constitution, and all other powers are reserved to the people or the states. Every federal action must be authorized by a constitutional provision. If there is no such provision, then the action is unconstitutional. No provision of the Constitution authorizes the federal government to command people to buy insurance.
The Taxing and Spending Clause in Article I of the Constitution gives the federal government broad power to tax the American people. But that power is not unlimited.
The Constitution originally allowed only three types of taxes. The first was a duty, which is a tax on imports. The second was an excise tax, which is a tax for the privilege of doing something, such as buying alcohol or holding a professional license to practice law. Both duties and excise taxes are indirect taxes that can be passed on to consumers.
The third type of tax was a direct tax, which cannot be passed on to someone else. The only type of direct tax permitted by the Constitution was a “capitation tax,” or head tax, which every person could be required to pay. The Constitution required that any capitation tax be apportioned, meaning that every person in a given state had to pay the same amount. New Yorkers might have to pay $600 per year while Virginians only pay $500, but every person within each state must pay equally.
When Congress created an income tax in the late 1800s, the Supreme Court struck it down on the grounds that it was a direct tax but not apportioned. That 1895 decision, Pollock v. Farmers’ Loan & Trust, rejected the idea that Congress had some generic power to tax outside the three categories laid out in the Constitution.
That’s why, in 1913, the 16th Amendment to the Constitution was required in order to institute a national income tax. Since then, a tax on income has been the fourth and final type that the federal government can impose.
The individual health-insurance mandate fits into none of these four categories and is therefore not constitutionally justified as a tax.
But the Constitution is only as good as the Supreme Court interpreting it. The Senate’s imminent vote on Elena Kagan’s nomination is a poignant reminder that we need a court that faithfully upholds the Constitution. Such a court would strike down ObamaCare.
HT: Susan Gertson
Missouri farmer Blake Hurst takes on the anti-corn zealots.
First Lady Michelle Obama has refused to plant corn in her famous White House organic garden. That’s a direct result of the attack on corn and modern agriculture, led by local and sustainable food advocates, small farm groups, food writers, and the producers of film documentaries. The only kind of corn that would be grown in any garden, organic or not, is sweet corn, and sweet corn is the only thing that makes July survivable in hot Midwestern summers, but never mind. The organic garden is a political exercise, and corn is in bad odor with environmentalists, the New York Times, and Michael Pollan.
According to the narrative, we farmers plant far too much corn; in particular, too much of the kind of corn livestock eat. And we do this even though corn is really cheap.
What’s more, corn has become an industrial product like polypropylene or stainless steel; it’s no longer really food for any creature, great or small. Corn sweetener receives more bad press than methamphetamine, so the Obamas will eat no fresh sweet corn dripping with butter and sprinkled with salt. (President Obama can seem peevish at times; I’d prescribe sweet corn, twice a day, for the week or so that corn from the garden is at its peak.)
The fact that the Obamas are denying themselves a summer treat would be of little concern, except there are other problems with this story. The first is that it doesn’t reflect well on farmers. If we keep planting corn every year even though it never reaches profitable prices, then we farmers are stupid. Even at the risk of appearing irrational, farmers rarely challenge the story. It serves us well to argue from poverty when farm bills are written and subsidy levels decided, when stories appear about the subsidies received by farmers, and when we negotiate with the guy down at John Deere or with the landowner whose farm we want to rent.
Because the agenda of corn’s critics is advanced if farmers buy into the story, it doesn’t serve their ends to paint farmers as idiots. A scapegoat is needed. Hence, farmers plant too much corn because… because… because Earl Butz told us to!
Children of the Corn
Butz, for those who don’t remember, was Secretary of Agriculture for Presidents Nixon and Ford. He famously told farmers to plant “fence row to fence row.” He was no fan of acreage retirement programs: these programs were the main tool in the farm policy toolbox for 60 years, designed to control crop supply to keep prices stable, thus helping us farmers. And he was an ardent advocate for farm exports. He lost his job in 1976 after telling a racial joke.
In the 2007 documentary “King Corn,” Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis interview an aged Butz, and describe how, in their view, Nixon-era farm policies led directly to overproduction of corn and a subsequent rise of obesity in the United States. On camera, Butz is unrepentant, still convinced that paying farmers not to plant was “the stupidest thing we ever did.” The former secretary is proud of the fact that food costs have plummeted as a percentage of the average American’s budget, and reminds Cheney and Ellis that Americans are wealthier today because food costs have declined.
Greg Critser, in his book Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World, blames Butz for the use of high fructose corn sweetener, which, according to Critser, has made Americans obese. Richard Manning, in his 2004 screed Against the Grain: How Agriculture has Hijacked Civilization, claims Butz is responsible for large corn crops and low corn prices.
Farmer Tom Philpott, writing on the occasion of Butz’s death, perhaps best describes the conventional wisdom. According to Philpott, Butz presided over massive cuts in farm subsidies, and more importantly the end of land retirement schemes used to control supply. Philpott describes farm policy from the 1930s until Butz as a sort of Nirvana for both farmers and consumers, as it paid farmers not to farm and kept corn prices high. Butz attempted to end land retirement programs and worked to increase farm exports. This, according to the narrative, was done at the behest of large agribusiness, and led to cheap corn fed to cattle, confined animal operations, corn sweetener in soda pop, and the decline of the small family farmer.
Obviously, farmers produce less when the government pays them not to produce. But most of the criticism of Butz centers on that famous bit of cheerleading. Farmers some 40 years later are producing too much corn, leaving corn prices too cheap and Americans too fat, because Butz urged us to plant fence row to fence row, and told us to “get big or get out.” Butz proclaimed as oracle, and farmers as easily led.
In a recent piece in the New York Review of Books, Pollan credits Butz with single-handedly increasing corn yields:
Agriculture Secretary Earl Butz shifted the historical focus of federal farm policy from supporting prices for farmers to boosting yields of a small handful of commodity crops (corn and soy especially) at any cost. The administration’s cheap food policy worked almost too well: crop prices fell, forcing farmers to produce still more simply to break even.
Pollan is describing a backward-bending supply curve; Butz, a Purdue University-trained economist, is rolling over in his grave.
Read it all.
With midterm elections approaching, President Barack Obama has gone on the charm offensive, claiming Republicans are demonstrating a “lack of faith in the American people.”
“Faith” often is defined as “having confidence or trust in a person or thing.” In this case, though, faith means adding another $35 billion in unemployment benefits to the infinite intergenerational tab—sometimes referred to as the budget—and mailing out as many checks as possible before Election Day.
Yet the jab is revealing in other ways. To begin with, what mysterious brand of public policy has Obama employed that exemplifies this sacred trust between public officials and the common citizen?
Was it the administration’s faith in the wisdom of the American parent that persuaded it to shut down the voucher program in Washington, D.C., and continue the left’s decades-long campaign denying school choice for kids and parents? Or was that just faith in public-sector unions?
Was faith in American industry behind the Democrats’ support of a stimulus bill that was predicated almost entirely on preserving swollen government spending at the expense of private-sector growth?
Is this hallowed faith in the citizenry also what compels the administration to dictate what kind of car we will be driving in the future, what kind of energy we will be filling these “cars” with, and what amounts of that energy will be acceptable?
Is faith in American know-how why Washington funnels billions of tax dollars each year to its hand-picked industry favorites rather than allow the best and brightest to—please pardon the pun—organically figure out what the most sensible energy policy is, as we have in every other sector?
It must be that deep confidence in conscientious Americans that persuades the left to fight against the rights of gun owners who want nothing more than to defend life and property…
Richard Branson to launch iPad only publication.
While some publishers eye the Apple iPad hopefully as way of migrating the print experience into a rich, multimedia domain as never before, others are already leaping over paper entirely to reach new readers with original digital publications.
In one of the latest direct-to-iPad initiatives, Richard Branson’s Virgin empire announced plans to launch its first consumer magazine on the Apple tablet without a companion print edition. Virgin claims Maverick magazine will be consistent with Virgin’s overall brand, says AdAge, but will include actual articles rather than promotions other Virgin properties.
Branson’s daughter Holly Branson is reportedly leading Virgin’s charge into iPad territory. If she succeeds in signing on premium advertisers and “exploit[ing] the creative potential of the medium without the costs of an existing print title to maintain,” Maverick will launch in the beginning of October, as an iPhone app only — no Kindle, web or paper version.
The citizens of Bell (pop. 36,000) near downtown Los Angeles, are in a fury over their city manager’s $800,000 salary.
The Bell City Council has announced an emergency closed-session meeting for Thursday afternoon in which officials could decide the fate of three top administrators who are among the highest paid in the nation.
The city council members pay themselves $100,000 per year for a part-time job. Anyone see the problem?
Attorneys for the city have been negotiating with the three officials for several days, hoping to reach deals in which the city manager, assistant city manager and police chief would step down, sources told The Times.
Resigning would make City Manager Robert Rizzo, Police Chief Randy Adams and Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia eligible for lucrative pensions. But the three also have contracts that protect them from being fired without cause.
As a result, unless they agree to resign, the city would face the prospect of buying out their contracts, which could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional payments.
Rizzo earns nearly $800,000 a year, making him the highest-paid city manager in California and possibly the nation. Adams makes $457,000 — 50% more the Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck — and Spaccia makes $376,288, more than the top administrator for Los Angeles County.
The salaries, revealed by The Times last week, sparked protests in the small, predominantly working-class town southeast of downtown Los Angeles.
Should Rizzo be forced from his job, he would immediately gain a new title: highest-paid retiree in the state’s CalPERS retirement system.
Rizzo, 55, would be entitled to a $659,252-a-year pension for the rest of his life, according to retirement calculations made by The Times that were reviewed by pensions experts.
A Placer County man has been arrested after he broke into a shuttered bar, reopened the business and started selling drinks to unwitting customers, according to the Placer County Sheriff’s department.
The Placer County Sheriff’s department arrested 29-year-old Travis Kevie of Newcastle after his 4-day stint as the barkeep of the historic Valencia Club in Penryn which had been shutdown for more than a year.
Detective Jim Hudson became suspicious after reading about the Valencia Club’s re-opening in an Auburn Journal newspaper article that featured a picture of Kevie and identified him as the club’s new “owner/operator”. Not only had Detective Hudson had previous run-ins with Kevie, he knew the Valencia Club’s liquor license had been surrendered.
When Detective Hudson went to the bar to investigate, he found it open for business and customers at the bar. Kevie quickly went from behind the bar to behind bars.
Doing some browser tab cleanup. This column is a week old, but still important.
By way of preamble, let me remind you where I stand on climate change. I think climate science points to a risk that the world needs to take seriously. I think energy policy should be intelligently directed towards mitigating this risk. I am for a carbon tax. I also believe that the Climategate emails revealed, to an extent that surprised even me (and I am difficult to surprise), an ethos of suffocating groupthink and intellectual corruption. The scandal attracted enormous attention in the US, and support for a new energy policy has fallen. In sum, the scientists concerned brought their own discipline into disrepute, and set back the prospects for a better energy policy.
I had hoped, not very confidently, that the various Climategate inquiries would be severe. This would have been a first step towards restoring confidence in the scientific consensus. But no, the reports make things worse. At best they are mealy-mouthed apologies; at worst they are patently incompetent and even wilfully wrong. The climate-science establishment, of which these inquiries have chosen to make themselves a part, seems entirely incapable of understanding, let alone repairing, the harm it has done to its own cause.
The Penn State inquiry exonerating Michael Mann — the paleoclimatologist who came up with “the hockey stick” — would be difficult to parody. Three of four allegations are dismissed out of hand at the outset: the inquiry announces that, for “lack of credible evidence”, it will not even investigate them. (At this, MIT’s Richard Lindzen tells the committee, “It’s thoroughly amazing. I mean these issues are explicitly stated in the emails. I’m wondering what’s going on?” The report continues: “The Investigatory Committee did not respond to Dr Lindzen’s statement. Instead, [his] attention was directed to the fourth allegation.”) Moving on, the report then says, in effect, that Mann is a distinguished scholar, a successful raiser of research funding, a man admired by his peers — so any allegation of academic impropriety must be false.
You think I exaggerate?
This level of success in proposing research, and obtaining funding to conduct it, clearly places Dr. Mann among the most respected scientists in his field. Such success would not have been possible had he not met or exceeded the highest standards of his profession for proposing research…
Had Dr. Mann’s conduct of his research been outside the range of accepted practices, it would have been impossible for him to receive so many awards and recognitions, which typically involve intense scrutiny from scientists who may or may not agree with his scientific conclusions…
Clearly, Dr. Mann’s reporting of his research has been successful and judged to be outstanding by his peers. This would have been impossible had his activities in reporting his work been outside of accepted practices in his field.
In short, the case for the prosecution is never heard. Mann is asked if the allegations (well, one of them) are true, and says no. His record is swooned over. Verdict: case dismissed, with apologies that Mann has been put to such trouble.
Further “vindication” of the Climategate emailers was to follow, of course, in Muir Russell’s equally probing investigation. To be fair, Russell manages to issue a criticism or two. He says the scientists were sometimes “misleading” — but without meaning to be (a plea which, in the case of the “trick to hide the decline”, is an insult to one’s intelligence). On the apparent conspiracy to subvert peer review, it found that the “allegations cannot be upheld” — but, as the impressively even-handed Fred Pearce of the Guardian notes, this was partly on the grounds that “the roles of CRU scientists and others could not be distinguished from those of colleagues. There was ‘team responsibility’.” Edward Acton, vice-chancellor of the university which houses CRU, calls this “exoneration”.
The 2010 World Cup, recently concluded with Spain’s victory, is the greatest sporting event in the world. Even deniers of American exceptionalism must admit that longstanding American indifference is quite exceptional. (And given this indifference, I’ll use the proper term for the sport, not soccer but football.)
For me, the competition’s main interest was sociological. For example, I was in France when the French team lost. The manner in which it lost was more traumatic than the fact that it lost. The team, mainly of African and Arab origin, refused to sing the national anthem. Though all its members were multimillionaires, it went on strike (that is, the players refused to attend a training session) when the manager dismissed a player who insulted him in the most vulgar possible way after he upbraided the team for its poor performance—as objective a fact as possible. There were even rumors of racial conflict on the team.
All of this was traumatic because the French team’s victory in the 1998 World Cup had provoked euphoria over the success of France’s multiculturalism.
The English lost, too. The English crowd has a way of dealing with opponents. When England plays France, they shout “If it weren’t for us, you’d all be speaking Kraut.” When England plays Germany, they shout “Two world wars, one World Cup [in 1966 England beat Germany in the final], so f. . . off!” Truly, sport is the promoter of international brotherhood and understanding.
This year, Germany beat England. Though the Germans cheated, pretending that a goal scored by England was not a goal, even the most xenophobic Englishman had to admit that the Germans were miles better than the English, who were no good at all.
For me, the most intriguing comparison between the two teams was in the way that they spoke English. It goes without saying that the Germans spoke it much better, though none had ever lived in an English-speaking country. This, of course, is a commentary upon cultural conditions in the social stratum from which English football players are mostly drawn…
Joe Biden has been claiming a democratic Iraq will be a feather in Obama’s cap (despite both his and Obama’s opposition to the Bush policies that won us breathing room.)
But Iraqpundit — who lives there — says Obama’s passivity has turned a US victory into defeat.
…When the U.S. watches as Iran steals the election from the people of Iraq and withdraws its troops and forgets about the plight of the people, Bin Laden and Zawahiri celebrate. Why? Because this U.S. move will damage whatever positive accomplishments were made over the past few years. This will result in a victory for the radicals. Al-Qaeda knows how to turn that anger into spreading their operations in the region.
The Iraqis were skeptical at first but gave the U.S. a chance. People were skeptical because the U.S. had urged the Iraqis to rise up in 1991 against Saddam; the people did. But when Saddam attacked the uprising, the U.S. sat back and watched. From here it looks as though history is about to repeat itself.
When the U.S. removed Saddam, the Iraqis welcomed the change. When the U.S. brought democracy and asked the people to vote, do their part to bring aobut positive change, the Iraqis did. But when the Iraqis gave the secular candidate the most seats inparliament, Iran kicked into high gear. The U.S. is doing nothing.
It’s already happening. People in the streets are saying the U.S. doesn’t care what happens here. They say the word of the Americans means nothing. They cannot be trusted. All that plays directly into Zawahiri’s message. He and Bin Laden have been saying the Americans are not to be trusted, so now they can say I told you so. That is serious damage. and it is probably irreversible. Again, al-Qaeda has it figured out. But I don’t know whether the White House has.
How depressing. And how tragic for the Iraqis.
If you were in the presence of a man having a heart attack, how would you respond? As he clutched his chest in desperation and pain, would you call 911? Would you try to save him from dying? Of course you would.
But if that man was Rush Limbaugh, and you were Sarah Spitz, a producer for National Public Radio (update: Spitz was a producer for NPR affiliate KCRW for the show Left, Right & Center), that isn’t what you’d do at all.
In a post to the list-serv Journolist, an online meeting place for liberal journalists, Spitz wrote that she would “Laugh loudly like a maniac and watch his eyes bug out” as Limbaugh writhed in torment.
In boasting that she would gleefully watch a man die in front of her eyes, Spitz seemed to shock even herself. “I never knew I had this much hate in me,” she wrote. “But he deserves it.”
Spitz’s hatred for Limbaugh seems intemperate, even imbalanced. On Journolist, where conservatives are regarded not as opponents but as enemies, it barely raised an eyebrow.
In the summer of 2009, agitated citizens from across the country flocked to town hall meetings to berate lawmakers who had declared support for President Obama’s health care bill. For most people, the protests seemed like an exercise in participatory democracy, rowdy as some of them became.
On Journolist, the question was whether the protestors were garden-variety fascists or actual Nazis.
“You know, at the risk of violating Godwin’s law, is anyone starting to see parallels here between the teabaggers and their tactics and the rise of the Brownshirts?” asked Bloomberg’s Ryan Donmoyer. “Esp. Now that it’s getting violent? Reminds me of the Beer Hall fracases of the 1920s.”
Read it all.
The NAACP recently accused the “tea party” of sheltering racists in its midst. Shortly after, the National Tea Party Federation expelled Mark Williams, leader of the Tea Party Express, for writing a satirical letter about how “colored people” preferred slavery.
Now, conservative commentators are pointing to the JournoList excerpts as proof that the mainstream media collude to promote a liberal agenda, play the race card, and discredit conservative movements like the tea party.
“The [JournoList] is troubling,” says Jim Campbell, a political science professor at the State University of New York (SUNY) in Buffalo. “At one level it could be thought of as just colleagues throwing ideas out to one another, but from another standpoint it almost looks like collusion … where virtual talking points are shared and solidified in a group.”
“That can’t be healthy for the country – or for the media, for that matter,” he says.
JournoList: What is it?
The list was created by the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein and, and several hundred self-described liberals joined before it was shut down recently.
According to excerpts released, reporters quibbled endlessly among themselves, and it’s far from clear if any of their collective kvetching ever drove an actual media narrative. But the excerpts pull back the curtain on how deeply the visceral and vindictive left-right split in American politics not only is reflected within the media, but can be amplified by them.
When conservatives were criticizing Mr. Obama for his connection to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright in 2008, some JournoList members discussed a counterstrategy.
The Daily Caller writes that Spencer Ackerman, then of the Washington Independent, “urged his colleagues to deflect attention from Obama’s relationship with Wright by changing the subject. Pick one of Obama’s conservative critics, Mr. Ackerman wrote, ‘Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares – and call them racists.’ “
Annie Leonard has become an internet sensation with her “Story of Stuff.” Now her anti-capitalist videos are being shown in elementary schools, indoctrinating kids. HowStuffWorks was created to counter her.
Here’s a taste.
From a column by LAT columnist Michael Hiltzik arguing that raising the Social Security retirement age may backfire by causing more disability claims, which cost even more than benefits. He makes a good argument, but then there’s this:
That’s because Social Security’s disability fund is much more strained than its old-age fund, in part because disability claims rise sharply at times of high unemployment, like now. You may have heard that this year, for the first time, Social Security’s tax income will fall short of its outgo. (The gap is filled by interest income on the program’s Treasury bonds.)
Pray tell, who pays the interest income? The Feds do. But the Feds are in the red, so the money must be borrowed or raised through taxation.
Hint to Hiltzik: it’s impossible to owe money to yourself.
I emailed Hiltzik and asked, “Who pays the interest income? And with what funds?” His reply:
Principally income taxpayers–that is, mostly the upper middle class and the wealthy, and therefore the same people who benefited most from borrowing the money in the first place–as the borrowings from Social Security were used to fund the 2001 bush tax cuts.
So he tacitly admits SS is insolvent because the funds to pay the interest do not exist, they must be raised by taxes.
He claims that upper middle class and wealthy will bear the brunt — exactly so, because the bottom 50% of earners pay almost no income tax. ( Bush’s across-the-board tax cuts took millions of low earners off the tax rolls, by the way.)
His assertion that Bush’s tax cuts borrowed SS is absurd. Why not blame the spending on the Medicare prescription drug benefit or defense spending? It’s one big, upside down pot.
Such is the reasoning from the onetime sock puppet.
If it seems as if the tax code was conceived by graphic artist M.C. Escher, wait until you meet the new and not improved Internal Revenue Service created by ObamaCare. What, you’re not already on a first-name basis with your local IRS agent?
National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson, who operates inside the IRS, highlighted the agency’s new mission in her annual report to Congress last week. Look out below. She notes that the IRS is already “greatly taxed”—pun intended?—”by the additional role it is playing in delivering social benefits and programs to the American public,” like tax credits for first-time homebuyers or purchasing electric cars. Yet with ObamaCare, the agency is now responsible for “the most extensive social benefit program the IRS has been asked to implement in recent history.” And without “sufficient funding” it won’t be able to discharge these new duties.
That wouldn’t be tragic, given that those new duties include audits to determine who has the insurance “as required by law” and collecting penalties from Americans who don’t. Companies that don’t sponsor health plans will also be punished. This crackdown will “involve nearly every division and function of the IRS,” Ms. Olson reports.
Well, well. Republicans argued during the health debate that the IRS would have to hire hundreds of new agents and staff to enforce ObamaCare. They were brushed off by Democrats and the press corps as if they believed the President was born on the moon. The IRS says it hasn’t figured out how much extra money and manpower it will need but admits that both numbers are greater than zero.
Ms. Olson also exposed a damaging provision that she estimates will hit some 30 million sole proprietorships and subchapter S corporations, two million farms and one million charities and other tax-exempt organizations. Prior to ObamaCare, businesses only had to tell the IRS the value of services they purchase. But starting in 2013 they will also have to report the value of goods they buy from a single vendor that total more than $600 annually—including office supplies and the like.
Democrats snuck in this obligation to narrow the mythical “tax gap” of unreported business income, but Ms. Olson says that the tracking costs for small businesses will be “disproportionate as compared with any resulting improvement in tax compliance.” Job creation, here we come . . . at least for the accountants who will attempt to comply with a vast new 1099 reporting burden.
In a Monday letter, even Democratic Senators Mark Begich (Alaska), Ben Nelson (Nebraska), Jeanne Shaheen (New Hampshire) and Evan Bayh (Indiana) denounce this new “burden” on small businesses and insist that the IRS use its discretion to find “better ways to structure this reporting requirement.” In other words, they want regulators to fix one problem among many that all four Senators created by voting for ObamaCare.
We never thought anyone would be nostalgic for the tax system of a few months ago, but post-ObamaCare, here we are.
A lot of people were left shaking their heads after Alvin Greene, who hadn’t done any campaigning or spent a single dollar on advertising, won the Democratic primary in South Carolina. It made perfect sense to me that a 32-year-old guy that nobody had ever heard of, who was facing a felony charge and who, for good measure, had lived with his father ever since the U.S. Army had invited him to leave the service, would win his party’s congressional primary. After all, he had a (D) after his name and, what’s more, his name came first on the ballot. What better reasons would an ignorant and lazy electorate need to have before casting their votes?
Apparently Nancy Pelosi was grief-stricken when David Obey of Wisconsin, a senior member of Congress and the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, decided not to run for re-election this year. In announcing he was bowing out after more than 40 years in office, he said that his proudest achievement was presiding over the House during the March vote for ObamaCare. Can you imagine such a thing? That is one of the saddest things I ever heard. Imagine spending four decades in power and the thing you’re proudest of is helping to pass a bill that is reviled by most Americans, a bill that was so bad that even with huge Democratic majorities on Capitol Hill, Pelosi and Reid had to resort to bribes and intimidation to get it passed. But, then, I expect that on his deathbed, Benedict Arnold probably said that betraying America was his own proudest moment.
Recently, I found myself wondering why it is that liberals and conservatives have such opposing points of view when it comes to both foreign and domestic policy. I decided it had a great deal to do with one’s perception of human nature. For instance, practicing Christians, who, in the main, tend to be conservatives, believe there has been only one perfect being. Liberals, on the other hand, are convinced that human beings would be perfect if only capitalism was destroyed and they could run things as they wish.
Liberals actually believe that under socialism, everyone would share equally because everyone would work equally. I would think that anyone over the age of six would recognize the fallacy of that foolish notion. There are and there will always be a large number of people who are along for the ride. Anyone who thinks otherwise is not necessarily a villain, but he is hopelessly naïve. I also suspect that most of them are subscribing to notions they don’t believe for a minute.
For instance, consider how many liberals who insist that dependence on fossil fuels is a crime against the earth ride around in limos, SUVs and private jets. Consider that people like Al Gore, Arianna Huffington and Oprah Winfrey, reside in homes that are five or ten times larger than one would deem necessary, considering their alleged convictions and the size of their families.
Speaking of families, don’t liberals have them? Haven’t they taken note of the fact that members of a single family are often at odds? I, myself, know people who haven’t spoken to their own siblings in decades. So, how is it exactly that millions and millions of perfect strangers are expected to work, live and share, in perfect harmony?
Heck, liberals don’t even want to deal with conservatives, let alone share the fruits of their labor. Which is why in Washington, left-wingers never compromise with the opposition, choosing to denigrate them as nay-sayers if they balk at rubber-stamping Obama’s radical agenda; and why in Hollywood, conservatives are forced to conceal their political beliefs, lest they be blacklisted by the very folks who are still whining about a blacklist that ended over half a century ago.
In the 1960s, a Democratic president said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”
Today, we have a Democratic president who appears to have dedicated his administration to seeing what he can do to our country.
I figure if 62 million people could vote for that guy, it’s really no wonder that Alvin Greene won his election.
Mad Men is a really interesting, addictive, and important show. It may well be one of the best shows on TV. But it is not the best show on TV.
That title goes to Breaking Bad, now that The Wire is over. Mad Men is too self-indulgent, too pleased with itself, too quick to get audiences to look for inside jokes, winks, nods, and allusions. It’s too ambitious and not grounded enough. It seeks to satisfy on too many levels and comes up not fully succeeding at any of them. It tries to make too many points. It is a modern allegory more reminiscent of Pilgrim’s Progress than its creators are willing to admit. Each character is a type. The show works because we haven’t seen many of these types portrayed so well, but their job too often is to represent a Very Important Trend or stand-in for Something Important that is Lost (for good or ill).
Meanwhile, Breaking Bad is a better acted, better plotted (although this last season sagged a little bit in the shows before the final two) show with actual human beings. Morally it is much more compelling because it really only has one point: evil is a seductive cancer. I don’t know if the show’s writers would use the word evil, or describe their point that way at all. They might see it all as a grand allegory about drug use or addiction or some such. But that’s what it’s really about: The seductions of evil. Walter White (the main character) wanders from the straight and narrow for the best possible reasons, and he has become lost. Don Draper is a handsome enigma. Walter White is a mensch at sea.
Agreed 100%. If you haven’t seen it, get it on DVD and enjoy.
Ross Douthat at the NYT agreed in June:
I had early doubts about “Mad Men,” but eventually I gave myself over to its charms, and after three excellent seasons I took it for granted that the saga of Don Draper was the best show on TV — the rightful heir, insofar as one could possibly exist, to “The Sopranos” and “The Wire.” But after working my way through AMC’s other drama, “Breaking Bad,” which had its season finale Sunday night, I find that I’ve changed my mind. And not only because “Breaking Bad” is brilliant — though it is, it is — but because its dramatic strengths expose some of the weaknesses of “Mad Men,” and puncture, ever-so-gently, the mystique that’s built up around Matthew Weiner’s show.
I normally scoff at purported conspiracies because most of what happens is the result of group-think.
But sometimes they are real. Jonathon Strong in the Daily Caller.
It was the moment of greatest peril for then-Sen. Barack Obama’s political career. In the heat of the presidential campaign, videos surfaced of Obama’s pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, angrily denouncing whites, the U.S. government and America itself. Obama had once bragged of his closeness to Wright. Now the black nationalist preacher’s rhetoric was threatening to torpedo Obama’s campaign.
The crisis reached a howling pitch in mid-April, 2008, at an ABC News debate moderated by Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos. Gibson asked Obama why it had taken him so long – nearly a year since Wright’s remarks became public – to dissociate himself from them. Stephanopoulos asked, “Do you think Reverend Wright loves America as much as you do?”
Watching this all at home were members of Journolist, a listserv comprised of several hundred liberal journalists, as well as like-minded professors and activists. The tough questioning from the ABC anchors left many of them outraged. “George [Stephanopoulos],” fumed Richard Kim of the Nation, is “being a disgusting little rat snake.”
Others went further. According to records obtained by The Daily Caller, at several points during the 2008 presidential campaign a group of liberal journalists took radical steps to protect their favored candidate. Employees of news organizations including Time, Politico, the Huffington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Guardian, Salon and the New Republic participated in outpourings of anger over how Obama had been treated in the media, and in some cases plotted to fix the damage.
In one instance, Spencer Ackerman of the Washington Independent urged his colleagues to deflect attention from Obama’s relationship with Wright by changing the subject. Pick one of Obama’s conservative critics, Ackerman wrote, “Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares — and call them racists.”
Michael Tomasky, a writer for the Guardian, also tried to rally his fellow members of Journolist: “Listen folks–in my opinion, we all have to do what we can to kill ABC and this idiocy in whatever venues we have. This isn’t about defending Obama. This is about how the [mainstream media] kills any chance of discourse that actually serves the people.”
“Richard Kim got this right above: ‘a horrible glimpse of general election press strategy.’ He’s dead on,” Tomasky continued. “We need to throw chairs now, try as hard as we can to get the call next time. Otherwise the questions in October will be exactly like this. This is just a disease.”
(In an interview Monday, Tomasky defended his position, calling the ABC debate an example of shoddy journalism.)
Thomas Schaller, a columnist for the Baltimore Sun as well as a political science professor, upped the ante from there. In a post with the subject header, “why don’t we use the power of this list to do something about the debate?” Schaller proposed coordinating a “smart statement expressing disgust” at the questions Gibson and Stephanopoulos had posed to Obama.
“It would create quite a stir, I bet, and be a warning against future behavior of the sort,” Schaller wrote.
Tomasky approved. “YES. A thousand times yes,” he exclaimed.
The members began collaborating on their open letter. Jonathan Stein of Mother Jones rejected an early draft, saying, “I’d say too short. In my opinion, it doesn’t go far enough in highlighting the inanity of some of [Gibson's] and [Stephanopoulos’s] questions. And it doesn’t point out their factual inaccuracies …Our friends at Media Matters probably have tons of experience with this sort of thing, if we want their input.”
Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Live at the Quick.
And with a Tuvan throat singer in Atlanta:
Credit card fraud is a serious problem. But race card fraud is an even bigger problem.
Playing the race card takes many forms. Judge Charles Pickering, a federal judge in Mississippi who defended the civil rights of blacks for years and defied the Ku Klux Klan back when that was dangerous, was depicted as a racist when he was nominated for a federal appellate judgeship.
No one even mistakenly thought he was a racist. The point was simply to discredit him for political reasons — and it worked.
This year’s target is the Tea Party. When leading Democrats, led by a smirking Nancy Pelosi, made their triumphant walk on Capitol Hill, celebrating their passage of a bill in defiance of public opinion, Tea Party members on the scene protested.
All this was captured on camera and the scene was played on television. What was not captured on any of the cameras and other recording devices on the scene was anybody using racist language, as has been charged by those playing the race card.
When you realize how many media people were there, and how many ordinary citizens carry around recording devices of one sort or another, it is remarkable — indeed, unbelievable — that racist remarks were made and yet were not captured by anybody.
The latest attack on the Tea Party movement, by Ben Jealous of the NAACP, has once again played the race card. Like the proverbial lawyer who knows his case is weak, he shouts louder.
This is not the first time that an organization with an honorable and historic mission has eventually degenerated into a tawdry racket. But that an organization like the NAACP, after years of fighting against genuine racism, should now be playing the game of race card fraud is especially painful to see.
Among people who voted for Barack Obama in 2008, those who are likely to be most disappointed are those who thought that they were voting for a new post-racial era. There was absolutely nothing in Obama’s past to lead to any such expectation, and much to suggest the exact opposite. But the man’s rhetoric and demeanor during the election campaign enabled this and many other illusions to flourish.
Still, it was an honest mistake of the kind that decent people have often made when dealing with people whose agendas are not constrained by decency, but only by what they think they can get away with.
On race, as on other issues, different people have radically different views of Barack Obama, depending on whether they judge him by what he says or by what he does.
As Obama’s own books point out, he has for years cultivated a talent for saying things that people will find congenial.
You want bipartisanship and an end to bickering in Washington? He will say that he wants bipartisanship and an end to bickering in Washington. Then he will shut Republicans out of the decision-making process and respond to their suggestions by reminding them that he won the election. A famous writer — Ring Lardner, I believe — once wrote: “‘Shut up,’ he explained.”
You want a government that is open instead of secretive? He will say that. He will promise to post proposed legislation on the Internet long enough for everyone to read it and know what is in it before there is a vote. In practice, however, he has rushed massive bills through Congress too fast for anybody — even the members of Congress — to know what was in those bills.
Racial issues are more of the same. You want a government where all citizens are treated alike, regardless of race or ethnicity? Obama will say that. Then he will advocate appointing judges with “empathy” for particular segments of the population, such as racial minorities. “Empathy” is just a pretty word for the ugly reality of bias.