An hour well spent. How lucky are those Stanford undergrads to have her teaching them.
Meanwhile, Obama goes around bragging about the increase in domestic oil production.
Richard Epstein on whether Europe or the US is handling the financial crisis more prudently.
A close look at the economic woes at home and abroad raises this unedifying question: who has proved more inept at handling the current economic crisis, the European Union or the United States? To Paul Krugman, this question has an easy answer: The Europeans for their maddening insistence on fiscal austerity when large government expenditures and credit infusions are needed to prop up a sagging economy. With fiendish glee, Krugman denounces the EU’s austerity measures as “pain without gain.”
The spending cuts of the EU nations, Krugman argues, have shrunk their economies, without offering any prospect of generating long-term growth. The Europeans, it seems, have emulated the worst of President Herbert Hoover’s skinflint budgets that helped prolong the Great Depression. The United States, which this time around has been more liberal with the purse, has suffered far less damage than the EU, which shunned Keynesian prescriptions.
Krugman’s cryptic Hoover reference is telling. In addition to worshiping balanced budgets, Hoover got economic policy wrong time and again. On trade, he acquiesced to the 1930 Smoot-Hawley Tariff; on labor, he signed on to the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931, which calls for “prevailing [i.e. union] wages” on government funded projects; on taxation, he championed the Revenue Act of 1932, which raised the top tax bracket to 62 percent; more globally, he stubbornly accepted the general deflation of the time. The combined effect of these various measures did much to deepen and prolong the Great Depression. His policies sadly misfired in so many directions that it is difficult to attribute his disastrous presidency to any one factor.
Krugman would do well to dwell on the multiple mistakes of the Hoover presidency. Yet, in his monochromatic way, he focuses in on only one piece of the larger mosaic: that governments here and abroad are not spending enough. For the United States, Krugman advocates for large transfers of federal revenues to the states to provide a large shot in the arm to local governments, putting them in a position “to rehire the hundreds of thousands of schoolteachers they have laid off and restart the building and maintenance projects they have canceled.”
The federal government’s trillion dollar deficits can wait for another day when interest rates start to rise. His dismissive views on the deficit match those of his colleague at Princeton, economist Alan Blinder, who acknowledges that sometime in the future, it will be necessary to right the deficit ship—but not until at least five years from now. Enjoy the low interest rates while the getting is good.
Seniors who live on interest income don’t find the current interest rates good, something you don’t hear much about.
After the Tea Party won enough GOP seats on 2010 to make a difference, Obama began whining that he couldn’t save the nation because of GOP obstructionism.
As if voting for the very principles that recently won you election is somehow undemocratic.
For true obstructionism, look to the behavior of Democrats in state government.
- In 2003, Texas Democrats fled the state to prevent redistricting they didn’t like
- In Wisconsin, the Democrats fled the state to deny the legislature a quorum
- Now, in Iowa, the Democrats have fled the capitol to avoid debating a gun rights law
Boo hoo hooey.
It’s nice the Feds finally noticed.
Federal officials say they have taken down the largest Medicare fraud scheme investigators have ever discovered: a $375 million dollar home healthcare scam operating in the Dallas, Texas area.
The alleged “mastermind” of the fraud, Dr. Jacques Roy, is charged with certifying hundreds of fraudulent claims for Medicare reimbursement, and pocketing millions in payments for services not needed, or never delivered. Prosecutors say the 54-year-old Dr. Roy, who was arrested today and could be sentenced to life in prison, operated a “boiler room” to churn out thousands of phony Medicare claims and recruited homeless people as fake patients.
“Today, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force is taking aim at the largest alleged home health fraud scheme ever committed,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer. “According to the indictment, Dr. Roy and his co-conspirators, for years, ran a well-oiled fraudulent enterprise in the Dallas area, making millions by recruiting thousands of patients for unnecessary services, and billing Medicare for those services.”
For Roy’s billing to have made sense, he’d have to been treating a million patients.
You’d expect the government’s computer system to have a means to red flag such abuses.
While I was on a recent vacation, I watched Fox News more than usual. Mainly what I noticed is that while Alan Colmes, Juan Williams, Leslie Marshall, Bob Beckel and Geraldo Rivera, are the five most annoying things to be found on the network, rounding out the top 10 are the commercials for the gold merchants, Merit Financial, Lear Capital, Goldline, Discount Gold Brokers and Rosland. The worst of the lot is Rosland, which day after day, enables three of the least appealing guys in America, Ben Ferguson, dentist Larry Pickard and Jeffrey Nichols, to enter our living rooms. For sheer gall, it’s hard to top the moment when young Ferguson asks Mr. Nichols why he purchases his gold from Rosland, while Nichols is simultaneously identified on screen as the senior financial advisor for the company!
It became increasingly difficult to take Romney’s rivals seriously when they spent all their time attacking Bain Capital instead of focusing their anger on Obama Capital. To my mind, “vulture capitalism,” which quickly replaced “at this point in time” as my least favorite expression, is when you take American tax dollars and hand them off to your fat cat contributors so that they, in turn, will send a portion of the loot back to Obama’s Re-election Campaign.
I must confess I got awfully tired of hearing that Newt Gingrich was a changed man, so it was finally a relief when, once the Iowa caucus was behind him, he could again show his true, obnoxious, colors.
Although I don’t hold most politicians in terribly high regard, at least when it comes to the ranks of the Republicans, it is hard to find anyone ranker than the former Speaker.
Even among the Democrats, it is rare to find anyone whose entire career has been motivated entirely by money, sex and revenge. While those are standard characteristics for a Shakespearean king, they’re not ideal when it comes to an American president. On second thought, it’s not all that rare among the Democrats. What could I have been thinking?
Sometimes the propaganda efforts by Obama are so clumsy that one can only laugh. For instance, he had a big bash at the White House for those so-called business owners whom he credited with “insourcing American jobs.” While it was true that I couldn’t recognize any of the people standing behind him at the photo op, it’s also true that I don’t know very many business owners. But, I finally caught on to the game when, after the staged event, we heard directly from two of the participants. The first was the Democratic mayor of Atlanta, and the other was the head of the Steelworkers Union. Only a former community organizer would identify such people as business owners. It reminded me of the charade when, in order to push his god-awful health care program, Obama had a bunch of shills don medical smocks and sit in the White House Rose Garden while gazing adoringly at him.
Even though the holiday season is now just a distant dot in our rearview mirror, it occurred to me the other day that the very same gremlins who annually wage war against the trappings and traditions of Christmas, parroting their favorite advertising slogan, “separation of church and state,” are the most vocal when it comes to promoting Sharia Law as a viable option for American Muslims. I will also wager that they wouldn’t voice the slightest objection if Kwanzaa were made a national holiday.
In much the same way, if the Tea Party favored liberals, but was otherwise unchanged in word or deed, we all know that Obama and his cronies would never in a million years accuse them of being racists, traitors and terrorists.
On the other hand, if the Occupy Wall Street movement consisted of conservatives, I find it highly unlikely that Nancy Pelosi would find the time or inclination to pay lip service to their spunk and youthful spontaneity.
Victoria Kim in the LA Times with a story about HitManforHire.net.
No, it isn’t satire.
As with other online businesses, the site promised convenience and efficiency.
With a few clicks of the mouse, one could hire a professional hit man ready to kill “at a moment’s notice.” On the “employment” section of the site, would-be assassins could upload resumes for consideration.
“Thanks to the Internet, ordering a hit has never been easier,” read the site HitmanForHire.net, in a chipper, infomercial-like tone.
Most thought it was a joke, including the Web designer in Florida commissioned to create the site. FBI Agent Ingerd Sotelo, who had investigated perhaps half a dozen hit-man cases in her 12-year career, probably wouldn’t have taken it seriously if she came across it Web-surfing.
Except there was a terrified 23-year-old woman sitting in front of her, pale with genuine fear, saying someone had used the site to put a $37,000 hit on her head…
Do iPhone users realize they can turn their cameras sideways? Sheesh. I feel like a peeper watching this video.
As for the content, Democrat Hochul speaks for herself.
LightSquared CEO Sanjiv Ahuja abruptly announced his resignation Tuesday amid revelations of his company’s political proximity — and his own closeness — to the White House and Obama administration officials.
The Daily Caller first reported one week ago on emails and documents that indicate political ties and numerous meetings between LightSquared and Obama administration officials as the was undergoing regulatory review.
Ahuja’s resignation comes after Obama’s FCC suspended conditional approval of a waiver LightSquared needed to complete its high-speed broadband network. Until two weeks ago, the company’s final approval appeared imminent.
Ahuja, who had never donated to Democrats before and has not since, gave the maximum allowable $30,400 contribution to the Democratic National Committee on the same day his lawyers were trying to arrange a meeting for him at the White House with top Obama technology adviser Aneesh Chopra and other officials.
In emails between Ahuja’s lawyers and White House officials Ahuja wanted to meet with, his lawyers pointed out that he would attend an Obama fundraiser on or about the same day he wanted the meeting.
A timely reminder of Obama’s energy priorities. This is from Aug. 18, 2009 WSJ:
You read that headline correctly. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration is financing oil exploration off Brazil.
The U.S. is going to lend billions of dollars to Brazil’s state-owned oil company, Petrobras, to finance exploration of the huge offshore discovery in Brazil’s Tupi oil field in the Santos Basin near Rio de Janeiro. Brazil’s planning minister confirmed that White House National Security Adviser James Jones met this month with Brazilian officials to talk about the loan.
The U.S. Export-Import Bank tells us it has issued a “preliminary commitment” letter to Petrobras in the amount of $2 billion and has discussed with Brazil the possibility of increasing that amount. Ex-Im Bank says it has not decided whether the money will come in the form of a direct loan or loan guarantees. Either way, this corporate foreign aid may strike some readers as odd, given that the U.S. Treasury seems desperate for cash and Petrobras is one of the largest corporations in the Americas.
But look on the bright side. If President Obama has embraced offshore drilling in Brazil, why not in the old U.S.A.? The land of the sorta free and the home of the heavily indebted has enormous offshore oil deposits, and last year ahead of the November elections, with gasoline at $4 a gallon, Congress let a ban on offshore drilling expire.
The Bush Administration’s five-year plan (2007-2012) to open the outer continental shelf to oil exploration included new lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico. But in 2007 environmentalists went to court to block drilling in Alaska and in April a federal court ruled in their favor. In May, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said his department was unsure whether that ruling applied only to Alaska or all offshore drilling. So it asked an appeals court for clarification. Late last month the court said the earlier decision applied only to Alaska, opening the way for the sale of leases in the Gulf. Mr. Salazar now says the sales will go forward on August 19.
This is progress, however slow. But it still doesn’t allow the U.S. to explore in Alaska or along the East and West Coasts, which could be our equivalent of the Tupi oil fields, which are set to make Brazil a leading oil exporter. Americans are right to wonder why Mr. Obama is underwriting in Brazil what he won’t allow at home.
Tricky Dick used the IRS as a political weapon. Is the Obama administration using the same dirty trick against Tea Parties?
In January and February of this year, the Internal Revenue Service began sending out letters to various local Tea Parties across the country. Mailed from the same Cincinnati, Ohio IRS office, these letters have reached Tea Parties in Virginia, Hawaii, Ohio, and Texas (we are hearing of more daily). There are several common threads to these letters: all are requesting more information from these independent Tea Parties in regard to their nonprofit 501(c)(4) applications (for this type of nonprofit, donations are not deductible). While some of the requests are reasonable, much of them are strikingly onerous and, dare I say, Orwellian in nature.
What are local Tea Partiers to think with requests like “Please identify your volunteers” or “are there board members or officers who have run or will run for office (including relatives)”? What possible reason would the IRS have for Tea Parties to “name your donors” when said donations are non-deductible? These are just a few of the questions asked by the IRS in these letters, and one cannot help but suspect an intrinsic threat encompassing all these demands.
The other question is the timing of these IRS letters requesting reams of copies and hundreds of hours of work and potentially thousands of dollars in accounting/legal fees (all due in two weeks). Some of these Tea Party groups have not received anything concerning their nonprofit status since 2010 prior to these letters.
These documents are further undermined by a letter sent to the IRS Commissioner Shulman. Signed by six Senators, it requests that the commissioner investigate 501(c)(4) groups to determine whether they are engaging in substantial campaign activity, including opposition to any candidate. Who signed this letter? Senators Schumer, Franken, Udall, Shaheen, Whitehouse, Merkley and Bennet — all Democrats…
Ed Driscoll’s been on a hot streak lately. This is a taste of an excellent essay at PJ Media.
As quoted by Steven Hayward in The Age of Reagan: The Fall of the Old Liberal Order: 1964-1980, political philosopher Michael Oakeshott once wrote that “politics is an activity unsuited to the young,” because:
Everybody’s young days are a dream, a delightful insanity, a sweet solipsism. Nothing in them has a fixed shape, nothing a fixed price; everything is a possibility, and we live happily on credit. There are no obligations to be observed; there are no accounts to be kept. Nothing is specified in advance; everything is what can be made of it. The world is a mirror in which we seek the reflection of our own desires. The allure of violent emotions is irresistible. When we are young we are not disposed to make concessions to the world; we never feel the balance of a thing in our hands—unless it be a cricket bat. … Since life is a dream, we argue (with plausible but erroneous logic) that politics must be an encounter of dreams, in which we hope to impose our own.
Perhaps that’s one explanation why so many liberals, as they get up in years, have both a surprising nostalgia for the past, and a “you kids get off my lawn” crankiness about contemporary society. This, despite that fact that liberalism, or progressivism, or simply the left, has been the dominant political philosophy – at least in Washington, academia and the media – for the last 75 years or so. Here are but a few examples we’ve rounded up of this trend in action. Back in November, a brief profile of a then-new biography of Kurt Vonnegut at NPR was titled, “Kurt Vonnegut Was Not A Happy Man. ‘So It Goes:’”
Vonnegut’s public persona was often at odds with the actual man. “He read the signs of what was happening in the country,” Shields says, “and he realized that he was going to have to be a lot hipper than a nearly 50-year-old dad in a rumpled cardigan to be a good match with what he was writing about.”
As a former public relations man for General Electric, Vonnegut knew how to construct an image, a public version of himself who readers could believe had written books like Cat’s Cradle and Breakfast of Champions.
“I don’t mean to persuade anybody that Kurt was a cynic,” Shields says. “Just the opposite.” But Vonnegut was more of a reactionary than a radical, someone who showed up for a meeting with the band Jefferson Airplane dressed in a Brooks Brothers suit and wingtip shoes. Someone who was deeply scarred by his experiences, and longed for the older, gentler America of his pre-war childhood.
As Kyle Smith noted at the time:
I think when you’re famous people call you “irascible,” but if not, you’re just a jerk. Also in the new biography of him: Vonnegut carefully constructed his hip image, using lessons he learned as a PR man for G.E. (Did Vonnegut and Reagan overlap there at all? Seems like they must have.)
Read it all.
An author on NPR spoke about this incident, an obscure disaster in which a wall of molasses swept through the streets of Boston at 35 miles per hour.
Twenty-one people died and 150 were injured.
It happened January 15, 1919 when a tank (50 feet high, 90 feet in diameter) containing 2.3 million gallons of molasses collapsed.
Molasses, waist deep, covered the street and swirled and bubbled about the wreckage. Here and there struggled a form — whether it was animal or human being was impossible to tell. Only an upheaval, a thrashing about in the sticky mass, showed where any life was… Horses died like so many flies on sticky fly-paper. The more they struggled, the deeper in the mess they were ensnared. Human beings — men and women — suffered likewise.
Come again, Hillary. Failed policies?
Why no rhymes this time, Jesse?
By the way:
- Food stamps feed people with other people’s money
- Feeding people is good, helping them feed themselves is better
- Food stamps do not add to the nation’s wealth
- Using food stamps does not make a person feel good like paying his own way
Last Wednesday in the White House briefing room, the administration’s press secretary, Jay Carney, opened on a somber note, citing the deaths of Marie Colvin and Anthony Shadid, two reporters who had died “in order to bring truth” while reporting in Syria.
Jake Tapper, the White House correspondent for ABC News, pointed out that the administration had lauded brave reporting in distant lands more than once and then asked, “How does that square with the fact that this administration has been so aggressively trying to stop aggressive journalism in the United States by using the Espionage Act to take whistle-blowers to court?”
He then suggested that the administration seemed to believe that “the truth should come out abroad; it shouldn’t come out here.”
Fair point. The Obama administration, which promised during its transition to power that it would enhance “whistle-blower laws to protect federal workers,” has been more prone than any administration in history in trying to silence and prosecute federal workers.
The Espionage Act, enacted back in 1917 to punish those who gave aid to our enemies, was used three times in all the prior administrations to bring cases against government officials accused of providing classified information to the media…
In one of the more remarkable examples of the administration’s aggressive approach, Thomas A. Drake, a former employee of the National Security Agency, was prosecuted under the Espionage Act last year and faced a possible 35 years in prison.
His crime? When his agency was about to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a software program bought from the private sector intended to monitor digital data, he spoke with a reporter at The Baltimore Sun. He suggested an internally developed program that cost significantly less would be more effective and not violate privacy in the way the product from the vendor would. (He turned out to be right, by the way.)
He was charged with 10 felony counts that accused him of lying to investigators and obstructing justice. Last summer, the case against him collapsed, and he pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor, of misuse of a government computer.
The president yesterday complained that his opponents are licking their chops over bad news, and putting their partisanship over the collective good. This is normal politics, but still a little strange, given that Americans, well before the tight summer driving season, are right to be worried that gas might hit $5-a-gallon in a few months — in a climate in which pipelines are perceived to have been cancelled; oil leases frozen in Alaska, offshore, in the Gulf, and in the west; and members of the administration, including the president himself, in the past, are on record advocating such high energy prices as a means to diminish supposed man-made climate change and help promote alternate energies.
But such pique is even odder, given that such partisan politics are an Obama forte. He voted against raising the debt ceiling as a senator when the deficits were far less than his own have been. He filibustered the Alito and Bolton nominations, when there were not enough votes to stop their appointments — only to later criticize just that tactic as president. Ditto his recess-appointment turnabout. Short-term political advantage led him to subvert the public financing of presidential campaigns, the first candidate to ignore that liberal-inspired law in a general election.
Obama surely was seeking partisan advantage when he once declared that the critical surge in Iraq was not working, even as it was, and at a time when the surge needed critical support. He started his campaign in 2007 by grandly announcing plans for a withdrawal of all troops from Iraq by March 2008, and went on to damn Guantanamo, renditions, tribunals, etc. at a time when they all were providing critical advantages in stopping terrorists — as he later agreed after his election by adopting all the protocols that he once deemed injurious or unconstitutional. Was it for political advantage (more…)
It is obvious that when it comes to elections, the Democrats are always looking to game the system. That is why they are always campaigning to give voting privileges to prison inmates and illegal aliens. It also explains why people like Eric Holder make themselves look so foolish when they insist that the use of photo IDs on Election Day discriminates against young people and members of racial minority groups. You know, those very same folks who never seem to have a problem coming up with photo IDs when it comes to buying cigarettes and beer or getting on airplanes.
In fact, the real problem as I see it is that it is far too easy to vote. Any screwball, any crackpot, any drooling jackass, can show up and help determine who will be the President of the United States. I’m not suggesting that voting be limited to the landed gentry or white people or to people whose IQs are above 150. Each of those groups has its fair share of drooling jackasses, after all. But there is surely something terribly wrong with a system that allows people who ignore the political scene until the last possible moment and are then told that previous generations have fought and died so that these numbskulls can go out and vote. Instead of being encouraged to stay home, they are shamed into “doing their duty” when everyone in his right mind knows that the real duty of a citizen of the Republic is to first be informed.
This still being a free society, what previous generations fought and died for was the right not to vote. It’s only in dictatorships that 100% of the people are expected to go out and vote for tyrants like Joe Stalin and Saddam Hussein, and where people are sent to North Korean gulags if they don’t grieve long and hard enough when their dear leaders finally kick the bucket.
In the spirit of improving our system, I have come up with a sample quiz that people should be able to pass if they’re going to be granted voting privileges next November.
(1) How large is our national debt? (a) $50 million; (b) $100,000,000; (c) $15 billion; (d) $15 trillion; (e) It’s a trick question. There is no such thing as a national debt.
(2) Is the National Labor Relations Board one of the three branches of the federal government?
(3) What is Harry Reid’s position in the U.S. Senate? (a) sergeant at arms; (b) majority leader; (c) wizard; (d) men’s room attendant; (e) there is no such person.
(4) Eric Holder holds what cabinet position? (a) attorney general; (b) token racist; (c) Barack Obama’s best friend; (d) president’s caddy; (e) lightning rod for the administration.
(5) Solyndra is the name of (a) America’s last space shuttle; (b) a proposed oil pipeline; (c) a defunct solar panel company; (d) a vegetable; (e) the Obamas’ older daughter.
(6) What is Henry Waxman’s most notable accomplishment? (a) voting to continue funding ACORN when even the majority of House Democrats said “enough is enough”; (b) chairing the committee investigating the use of steroids in major league baseball while under the impression that Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa were chemists; (c) hiring out as a garden gnome for children’s birthday parties; (d) winning the “Biggest Nostrils in Washington” competition 30 years in a row; (e) all of the above.
(7) How long is a senator’s term? (a) two years; (b) four years; (c) six years; (d) eight years; (e) 759 years.
(8) Where was Barack Obama born? (a) Chicago; (b) Hawaii; (c) Kenya; (d) the brain of George Soros; (e) under a cabbage leaf.
(9) Nancy Pelosi serves what function in the House of Representatives? (a) tour guide; (b) minority leader; (c) ideal representative of her gay, lesbian and transgender, constituents; (d) Debbie Wasserman-Schultz’s role model; (e) Henry Waxman’s mistress.
(10) Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D, FL) plays a major role in the Democratic Party. Is it (a) as the chairwoman of the DNC; (b) to constantly remind every Jewish congressman of the last blind date he let his grandmother arrange for him; (c) to make the likes of Maxine Waters, Barbara Boxer and Sheila Jackson Lee, seem almost regal by comparison; (d) to constantly remind Henry Waxman of the girl that got away; (e) all of the above.
The answers: (1) d; (2) No, it only thinks it is; (3) b; (4) a; (5) c; (6) e; (7) according to the Constitution, it’s c, but, for all practical purposes, it’s e; (8) no final determination has yet been made; (9) b,c.d and possibly e; (10) e.
In an ideal world, if you scored 90 or 100%, you would be allowed to vote next November. If you scored 70 or 80%, you will probably vote for Obama, but it’s still a free country, if not an ideal world, and I guess there’s no way to stop you.
If you scored below 70%, you will no doubt get lost on the way to your polling place, thereby earning the gratitude of a grateful nation.
Steven Hayward in The Weekly Standard
The forlorn and increasingly desperate climate campaign achieved a new level of ineptitude last week when what had looked like a minor embarrassment for one of its critics—the Chicago-based Heartland Institute—turned out to be a full-fledged catastrophe for itself. A moment’s reflection on the root of this episode points to why the climate campaign is out of (greenhouse) gas.
In an obvious attempt to inflict a symmetrical Climategate-style scandal on the skeptic community, someone representing himself as a Heartland Institute insider “leaked” internal documents for Heartland’s most recent board of directors meeting to a fringe environmental blog, along with a photocopy of a supposed Heartland “strategy memo” outlining a plan to disseminate a public school curriculum aimed at “dissuading teachers from teaching science.”
This ham-handed phrase (one of many) should have been a tipoff to treat the document dump with some . . . skepticism (a trait that has gone missing from much of the climate science community). But more than a few environmental blogs and mainstream news outlets ran with the story of how this “leak” exposed the nefarious “antiscience” Neanderthals of Heartland and their fossil fuel paymasters. But the strategy memo is a fake, probably created because the genuine internal documents are fairly ho-hum. It seems the climate campaign is now taking its tactics from Dan “fake but accurate” Rather.
Why Heartland? And how did the “leaker” get his hands on authentic Heartland board materials that are obviously the source for the faked strategy memo? The Heartland Institute sponsors the most significant annual gathering of climate skeptics, usually in New York, Chicago, or Washington, D.C.—a conference that attracts hundreds of scientists and activists from around the globe, including most of the top skeptical scientists, such as MIT’s Richard Lindzen, Yale’s Robert Mendelsohn, and career EPA official Alan Carlin. By assembling a critical mass of serious dissenting opinion, the Heartland conference dispels the favorite climate campaign talking point that there’s virtually no one of repute, and no arguments of merit, outside the -so-called consensus of imminent climate catastrophe.
The Heartland conferences have been too big for the media to ignore completely, though coverage has been spare and grudging. The conferences are also a morale booster for skeptics, who tend to be isolated and relentlessly assailed in their scattered outposts. It is worth adding that Heartland has always extended invitations to the leading “mainstream” figures to speak or debate at the conference, including Al Gore, NASA’s James Hansen, and senior officials from the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (Heartland typically receives no response from such figures.)
The most likely instigator of an anti-Heartland provocation would be someone from among the political activists of the environmental movement, such as the merry pranksters of Greenpeace, who have been known to paw through the garbage cans of climate skeptics looking for evidence of payoffs from the fossil fuel industry (which, contrary to left-wing paranoia, has tended rather to be a generous funder of the climate catastrophe campaign). But shortly after the document dump, Ross Kaminsky, an unpaid senior fellow and former Heartland board member now with the American Spectator, noticed something odd in the digital fingerprint of the “strategy memo.” It had been scanned on an Epson printer/scanner on Monday, February 13, on the West Coast (not in the Midwest, where Heartland is located), just one day before the entire document dump appeared online for the first time. Like the famous little detail of when and how Alger Hiss disposed of his old Ford, this date and location will turn out to be a key piece of evidence (more…)
The Oscars are an exercise in vanity, so why not double down with some Green vanity?
…at the Academy Awards, Missi Pyle, part of the ensemble cast of”The Artist,” will walk the red carpet in a flowing blue gown made from organic silk, hand-dyed with natural mineral pigments and lined with recycled polyester.
The gown was designed by Valentina Delfino, one of hundreds of designers around the world who submitted sketches to the third annual sustainable couture competition known as Red Carpet Green Dress in the hopes of presenting their creations on the most glamorous — and watched — red carpet in the world.
Pyle is the first actress in an Oscar-nominated film to wear the annual competition’s winning design. She was selected for her willowy, 5-foot-11-inch frame, her interest in sustainability — and all the attention surrounding “The Artist,” which is up for 10 awards.
Southern California has hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants, people who crossed the border and made a life for themselves. Rarely do you hear of deportations.
So how about a couple from Japan, who immigrated legally, set up three restaurants (one of which I quite like) and under reported their business income 20 years ago?
Deported. It’s all legal, but one must ask, why them?
Akio and Fukado Kawashima came to Southern California in 1984 as lawful Japanese immigrants determined to succeed in business. They operated popular sushi restaurants in Thousand Oaks and Tarzana and recently opened a new eatery in Encino.
But after they underreported their business income in 1991, they paid a hefty price. The Internal Revenue Service hit them with $245,000 in taxes and penalties. The couple pleaded guilty and paid in full. A decade later, the Immigration and Naturalization Service decided to deport them.
Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered the final blow, ruling 6 to 3 that Immigration and Customs Enforcement — as the INS is now known — was within its authority to declare such a tax crime an “aggravated felony,” subjecting an immigrant to automatic deportation. Once limited to murderers and drug kingpins, this deportation trigger has steadily expanded over the years.
“It’s really sad — and really unfair,” Wakako Kawashima, the couple’s daughter-in-law, said at the door of her home in Thousand Oaks.
The restaurants have been the couple’s life work, she said, and the family is crushed that a mistake two decades ago could result in their deportation.
Tax lawyers said the ruling in the case of Kawashima vs. Holder sends an ominous warning to legal immigrants throughout the country, and especially to small-business owners whose tax liabilities may be large enough to attract IRS attention.
Under the court’s holding, an immigrant who makes a false statement on a tax return could face not only tax charges but also automatic deportation.
The Kawashimas never became U.S. citizens but were granted lawful permanent residency in the 1980s. They pleaded guilty in 1997 to filing a false corporate tax return, and the husband was given a four-month prison sentence…
HT: Susan Gertson
The Brits jacked up taxes on the rich and got less revenue. Progressives never learn.
The Treasury received £10.35 billion in income tax payments from those paying by self-assessment last month, a drop of £509 million compared with January 2011. Most other taxes produced higher revenues over the same period.
The self-assessment returns from January, when most income tax is paid by the better-off, have been eagerly awaited by the Treasury and government ministers as they provide the first evidence of the success, or failure, of the 50p rate. It is the first year following the introduction of the 50p rate which had been expected to boost tax revenues from self-assessment by more than £1billion.
Senior sources said that the first official figures indicated that there had been “manoeuvring” by well-off Britons to avoid the new higher rate. The figures will add to pressure on the Coalition to drop the levy amid fears it is forcing entrepreneurs to relocate abroad.
Recall this exchange between Charles Gibson and Obama during a Democrat debate in April 2008.
GIBSON: All right. You have, however, said you would favor an increase in the capital gains tax. As a matter of fact, you said on CNBC, and I quote, “I certainly would not go above what existed under Bill Clinton,” which was 28 percent. It’s now 15 percent. That’s almost a doubling, if you went to 28 percent.
But actually, Bill Clinton, in 1997, signed legislation that dropped the capital gains tax to 20 percent.
GIBSON: And George Bush has taken it down to 15 percent.
GIBSON: And in each instance, when the rate dropped, revenues from the tax increased; the government took in more money. And in the 1980s, when the tax was increased to 28 percent, the revenues went down.
So why raise it at all, especially given the fact that 100 million people in this country own stock and would be affected?
OBAMA: Well, Charlie, what I’ve said is that I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness.
We saw an article today which showed that the top 50 hedge fund managers made $29 billion last year — $29 billion for 50 individuals. And part of what has happened is that those who are able to work the stock market and amass huge fortunes on capital gains are paying a lower tax rate than their secretaries. That’s not fair.
And what I want is not oppressive taxation. I want businesses to thrive, and I want people to be rewarded for their success. But what I also want to make sure is that our tax system is fair and that we are able to finance health care for Americans who currently don’t have it and that we’re able to invest in our infrastructure and invest in our schools.
And you can’t do that for free.
A politician with a sense of humor tells how his vote cost him a night of love.
Joseph Rago in the WSJ:
The old-line Marxists used to talk about “heightening the contradictions” of capitalism to make things worse and hasten the revolution. One of the great ironies of the Affordable Care Act is that it may be doing just that.
Two years on, the major achievement of President Obama’s new entitlement and its regulatory apparatus has been to heighten the contradictions and dysfunctions of the health-care status quo even as it creates multiple new problems. The good—and less noticed—news is that the growing disruption is driving the industry toward the solution that prevails in the rest of the economy: the price mechanism. In the context of American health care, this might be a watershed.
To appreciate what’s wrong with the current system, imagine four patients identical in every way except for their insurance coverage. They report to the same doctor for a routine procedure, say, a colonoscopy.
The first patient is on Medicare, which controls prices. The program’s fee formula sets prices unilaterally for about 7,000 physician services and pays lump sums for 600 general hospital diagnoses, regardless of the quality of care. Medicare pays twice as much on average for a colonoscopy if it is performed in a hospital outpatient setting rather than in a doctor’s office.
Patients two and three are covered by private insurers, but those insurers are likely to reimburse the doctor at different rates—whatever they’ve negotiated to include him in their networks. The rate will be higher than competitive to make up for Medicare’s below-cost fees—the gap between public and private rates is now about 40 percentage points. The rate is also likely to be a proprietary trade secret, or else literally unknowable: The doctor can only generate price information when he codes his services and bills the insurer.
The fourth patient is uninsured. If she seeks treatment, she’ll be billed directly from a “chargemaster,” a hospital’s list of marked-up sticker prices that no one with coverage will ever pay.
So one doctor, four patients, four different prices, multiplied times one-sixth of the economy. Price discrimination, or varied pricing, is common in service industries with high fixed and low marginal costs: airlines, colleges, hotels, telecom. But nowhere else but health care are prices so arbitrary, so disconnected from value. The consensus, on the right and left, is that this fee-for- (more…)
As we’ve noted before, Obama’s Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu, said in 2008:
“Somehow, we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.”
The popularity of Chu’s now-infamous quotation tends to track the rise and fall of gas prices: It enjoyed a huge surge of attention last spring and summer before largely vanishing from view in the fall, leading up to this month’s renaissance, according to the LexisNexis database.
Never mind that some energy experts say Chu had it exactly right, and that higher fuel prices would encourage consumers to buy more efficient vehicles, discourage suburban sprawl, make renewables more competitive and reduce U.S. reliance on imported oil. Not even Chu’s department is making that argument these days.
Chu and Obama’s ideas jack up the cost of energy and everything with it. Our economy runs on energy.
And why “discourage suburban sprawl”? America has plenty of elbow room — spreading out is not sprawl, it’s being comfortable. And safe.
Progressives hate the suburbs. And being habitual busybodies, they want to impose their taste via government.
To which one might say, “If you want to live in tight spaces with high gas prices, please just move to Europe and leave the rest of us alone.”
What most Americans mean by energy policy is this: government policies that aim to make energy as abundant and cheap as possible, given some very basic environmental concerns (no oil on the beach). No other approach can get you elected.
For Politico, the reason more politicians don’t discuss these ideas more favorably is that they have something called a ‘survival instinct’. Politicians who boast about their successful initiatives to raise the price of gasoline don’t last. If you are a politician who wants to raise the price of gas, you have two choices in America: you can persuade the military leadership to install you in office through a coup d’etat, or you can lie to the voters and pursue your agenda on the sly.
I must confess that I was never as big a fan of Sarah Palin as some Republicans. But honesty compels me to confess that much of my antipathy derived from the fact that her voice had the same effect on me that bagpipes and fingernails on a blackboard have on others. So the fact that she threw her support to Newt Gingrich, a serial adulterer and a K Street lobbyist, didn’t disillusion me as much as it might have.
I realize that because Newt allegedly asked God for His forgiveness, all his tomcatting around is supposed to be off the table. The problem is, I think God should have waited to find out if Newt’s ex-wives forgave him because where I come from, they’re the ones who were wronged.
Just for the record, I have two divorces on my own record. But I never committed adultery and I didn’t have girl friends in the wings when I divorced my wives. What’s more, the first one didn’t have cancer and the second one hadn’t recently been diagnosed with MS when we parted company. In fact, I suspect that if I were running for president, neither would try to derail my campaign and at least one of them, the Republican, would even vote for me.
Much has been made about Gingrich being a man of ideas. But the fact is, what’s required of a president are principles and a political philosophy that’s in tune with that of America’s founding fathers. A president always has access to the best ideas in America; he needn’t limit himself to only those that spring willy-nilly from his own head.
I realize that for obvious reasons, Newt would like Republicans to see him as Ronald Reagan incarnate. But the fact is, he has far more in common with Barack Obama. Both are thin-skinned and narcissistic. In musical terms, the president should be the conductor of a 310 million piece orchestra, but these guys see themselves as one-man bands. They’re like one of those guys you used to see on the Ed Sullivan Show, beating a bass drum on his chest, clashing cymbals between his knees and wheezing into a harmonica.
Reagan always used plural pronouns when referring to the accomplishments of his administration; with Obama and Gingrich, whether they’re referring to taking out Osama bin Laden or helping to balance the federal budget during the 90s, it’s all I, me and myself.
Another person who unfortunately reminds me of Obama is Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In Obama’s case, his problem with the U.S. Constitution is that it failed to deal with the redistribution of wealth. In Ginsburg’s case, the problem is that it’s an outdated document that ignored the rights of women, slaves and Native Americans.
In a recent interview shown on Egyptian TV, she had a few good things to say about our Constitution, but she advised her listeners not to use ours as a model in a post-Mubarak society. “I would not look to the U.S. Constitution if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012,” she said. Instead, she referred Egyptians to the constitutions of South Africa, Canada and the European Convention on Human Rights. She added: “I can’t speak about what the Egyptian experience should be, because I’m operating under a rather old constitution.”
As she approaches her 79th birthday, I would have appreciated it if she had limited her remarks to the state of her own aging constitution. Which, I dare say, is in far worse shape than our nation’s.
Not to be outdone by a cranky old woman when it comes to making stupid remarks, Jesse Jackson voiced concern that Governor Jan Brewer’s pointing her finger at Barack Obama could jeopardize his safety by inciting others to violence. This is the same Jesse Jackson who got terribly upset in 2008, when he decided that candidate Obama had insulted blacks by proposing to expand George Bush’s federal assistance for faith-based social services. At the time, Reverend Jackson, unaware that his microphone was live, turned to a friend and said, “I want to cut his nuts off!”
In response to those Republicans who feel that this bitter primary season will leave our Party deeply divided and unable to unite and defeat Obama, I’m here to reassure them. If, as seems likely, Mitt Romney is the standard-bearer, Gingrich will say, “I still think he’s a Massachusetts moderate, but that sure beats being stuck with an Illinois socialist.” With the promise that the Federal Reserve will finally face a long overdue audit, Ron Paul will enthusiastically hop aboard the bandwagon.
As for Rick Santorum, I think he’ll be happy as a lark if Romney simply buys up all those surplus sweater vests he’ll have lying around in his garage.
…Michelle Obama lectures the rich about the rich. Washington Examiner:
First lady Michelle Obama has joined her husband’s bandwagon to hit the rich and spread the wealth, questioning how well-off families can feel good if others are struggling.
To about 300 supporters wealthy enough to pay $300-$10,000 to attend the mid-day event, the first lady said, “If a family in this country is struggling, we cannot be satisfied with our own families’ good fortune.”
She also rapped the rich, as has her husband. “Who do we want to be?” Obama asked. “Will we be a country where success is limited to the few at the top? This country is strongest when we are all better off.”
Listen up, Michelle. We already are all better off.
The United States is so wealthy even the poor are rich by global or historical standards.
I know, dog bites man. This time the article is about debt:
President Obama is roundly criticized by Republicans for running up the nation’s debt. But if a Republican takes the White House, the debt will keep climbing — and perhaps even faster than under Obama’s proposed policies, a budget watchdog group said.
And who runs this watchdog group?
“I don’t think cutting revenues further is the responsible thing to do — and they all do it,” said Alice Rivlin, referring to the Republican candidates. Rivlin, the founding director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, is a director of the budget watchdog group that released the analysis.
Does that name ring a bell?
Alice Rivlin has been affiliated several times with the Brookings Institution, including stints in 1957–66, 1969–75, 1983–93, and 1999 to the present. She is currently a visiting professor at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute.
From 1968 to 1969, she was appointed by President Lyndon Johnson as Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.
In 1971 she authored Systematic Thinking for Social Action. She was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1973.
She was the first director of the newly established Congressional Budget Office during 1975–83, where she was a persistent and vociferous critic of Reaganomics as head of the CBO. In 1983, she won a MacArthur Foundation “genius” award.
Under President Bill Clinton she served as the deputy director of Office of Management and Budget from 1993 to 1994, director of OMB from 1994 to 1996 (becoming the first woman to hold the Cabinet-level position), and a governor of the Federal Reserve from 1996 to 1999, during which time she served as the Fed’s vice-chair. She was also chair of the District of Columbia Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority from 1998 to 2001.
Oh, she’s a lifelong Democrat. Who knew?!
She also served on Obama’s debt commission, so she should be a bit peeved at the prez for his contempt for its recommendations.
After getting the report, Obama thanked them and yawned.
When Paul Ryan came forth with a plan to restructure Medicare, Obama insulted him publicly then ignored a Democrat TV ad showing a Ryan stand-in shoving an old lady over a cliff.
When the Tea Party Republicans used the debt ceiling vote as a lever to enforce fiscal discipline, Obama scared seniors with the loss of their Social Security checks.
To goose his stagnant economy and pose as a defender of the middle class, Obama has pushed for an unpaid for reduction in Social Security taxes — pushing the program further into the red.
Dubya was responsible for high gas prices, says little Debbie. Barack? Don’t ask.
Bug Eyes Pelosi weighs in:
“Wall Street profiteering, not oil shortages, is the cause of the price spike,” Pelosi said in a statement. “Unfortunately, Republicans have chosen to protect the interests of Wall Street speculators and oil companies instead of the interests of working Americans by obstructing the agencies with the responsibility of enforcing consumer protection laws.”
This woman is deranged.